Snuggling Dysfunctional Cats
Toph thought that Katara and Zuko were, easily, the cutest couple in the entire world. They were one of those couples that just fit together, that it was almost a surprise that they were not already old and wrinkly and snuggling on a bench and teasing each other and throwing popcorn at turtleducks. Sometimes Toph thought about making a statue of them out of metal. She would call it the Zutara award and she could make many of them and hand them out as prizes to adorable couples. She would have a complex system rules for what it would take to win a Zutara. Lots of adorableness was a must.
Toph could imagine them, later on, being the kind of couple that would take her out to dinner and offer her advice on all her torrid love affairs (Toph was planning on having several when she was old enough for it. There would be drama and passion for her, she was sure of it.) Zuko would have a crisis of Zukoness about the lack of fireflakes on the menu and Katara would feed him hot and sour soup until he calmed down. Katara would probably have a bossy moment and want to go into the kitchens and speak to the chef (tell him how to do his job) and Zuko would gently dissuade her form this course of action. They would sit together and snuggle and bicker about pickles vs fireflakes and offer advice. Truly horrible advice, mind you, but advice would be there along with the pickles and the fireflakes.
Then they'd probably duel with the breadsticks until one of their breadsticks broke (Probably Katara's. Toph imagined Zuko's skill with swords would translate to breadsticks) then Zuko would Your weapon is inferior to mine! We shall chop it up and eat it with Sokka's secret sauce to show it's shame!" then Katara would say that he could eat his with Sokka's secret sauce, but she would have hers with pickles and the eternal battle of salty vs spicy would begin again. In much the same manner that Zuko liked everything covered in fireflakes, Katara liked everything to be super salty. It must be a water tribe thing because Sokka was exactly the same.
Katara didn't understand fireflakes and Zuko didn't really get what was with all ther super salty water-tribe food. But when Zuko wanted even more fireflakes with his dinner, Katara would be the one to get up and sigh and fetch his damned, disgusting, ridiculous favourite baked snack. But she would always buy more from the shops when it looked like they were running low. When Katara was off her feet after being bitten by the scorpidillo, Zuko took to being her personal waiter and made her all her favourite foods; cheese and crackers and pickles, rice and pickles, mangoes and pickles or her absolute favourite: pickles and pickles. He even tried to make her stewed seaprunes on her birthday. Considering stewed seaprunes is the nastiest creation ever invented, toph considered this an act of the deepest devotion.
They were just one of those adorable couples. They gave each other foot rubs all the time, although frequently this was usually preceded Katara shoving her foot in Zuko's face and demanding one.
They snuggled. Constantly. Like dysfunctional cats. Most of their snuggling ended with Katara tickling Zuko until he either did a snorty laugh or he fell off the piece of furniture they were sitting on.
They had bubble fights when they did the dishes together and would try and give each other bubble crowns and would splash each other and chase each other around like baby rabbiroos.
Earlier, back when Zuko had first joined them, Katara would seek him out if ever she was mad, so she could shout at someone who would patiently listen to her crazy rants. But now she sought him out for other reasons. If Katara was happy, she looked for Zuko to share the happy. If Katara was sad, she looked to Zuko to cheer her up. If Katara was unsure of what she was feeling but wanted someone to bother anyway, she looked for Zuko. She never really had to look very hard (wherever one of them was, the other was never very far away.) Still Toph didn't know why she didn't just cut out the 'looking' step. All Katara had to say was stay with me forever and ever and we shall snuggle and Zuko would say okey dokey, in that dorky way of his, and never leave her side.
Toph liked Zuko, even though Zuko was pretty hopelessly firenation (and the firenation, on the whole, was full of jerks and arseholes as far as Toph could tell). He couldn't be more firenation if he tried. His name was Zuko, he had exceptionally straight posture, a tendency to grit his teeth and just get on with things, he was uptight, he ate everything covered in fireflakes. Still Toph couldn't help but like him. She remembered running into his uncle, ages ago, and how he said Zuko was fiercely independent and would never accept help unless he was tied up and unconscious, and even then, he'd only accept it begrudgingly. Toph understood that. Toph respected that.
She liked him even more because ever since he'd joined the group, he'd kept Katara off her back, for the most part. Zuko was Katara's absolute favourite person, in the entire world, to boss around. Katara loved nothing more than to be on Zuko's back about something and he'd protest a little, but would always end up doing whatever she wanted. Zuko had told her one day, when Toph had been a bit fed up and was ranting about madam fussybritches, that he secretly loved her bossiness – the big weirdo.
Katara loved to chase him round with the common sense stick. Toph thought Zuko didn't need nearly as much common sense as Katara was willing to give him. She knew Katara just liked to chase him about and would use any excuse to tackle him and tickle him. Katara had the tendency to get very handsy with Zuko, on the flimsiest of excuses. Toph knew that despite all her bossiness, and various rants, she really did care. She'd flip out if she ever thought there was the slightest chance of anything bad happening to Zuko. One day, he'd played a trick on Sokka and held his breath under water for less than a minute and that was all it took for Katara to go OMG you could have drowned and whack him with the stick and berate him for foolishness. Toph, however, knew that all Katara really wanted to do was bundle him up in a big hug and feed him mangoes and keep him safe.
Katara was really all about the touching. She touched Zuko all the time. Toph was not sure she was aware that she did this. Always brushing 'lint' off his clothes and rubbing his shoulders and ruffling his hair. Once Toph brought up the subject of the constant touching with her, and Katara demurred about legitimate medical reasons for the touching. She wasn't touching because she fancied him. How ridiculous. How silly. She would say that Toph was obviously getting too much sun and was going crazy.
And that was the crux of the issue.
Though Katara and Zuko were absolutely, ridiculously, impossibly adorable together. Though they were like the cutest couple in the history of ever. Though Toph sort of saw them as like a surrogate mum and dad - Toph would never, ever, in a million years, tell either of them this. (They were actually nothing like either of her parents, which Toph considered a good thing. It was just... they seemed so mumish and dadish, like they were destined to have 18 children together. Zuko would want to name them all after characters from Love Amongst the Dragons, Katara would tease him for liking something so melodramatically dorky, but Toph would bet even money, there would eventually be a Kizu, or a Zara or a Zali amongst their brood.) Despite the fact that they were constantly snuggling and talking and giving each other foot rubs, they were not actually going out.
It was weird.
Every now and then Aang would mention gloomy hairbuns, Zuko's girlfriendy person back in the firenation. Though he had left her locked in the boiling rock, so Toph was not sure where they stood on the boyfriend/girlfriend issue. Sokka, who had the most dirt on gloomy hairbuns, thought that Zuko just wanted somebody to match with. Apparently he and gloomy hairbuns were both tall, slender, pale brunettes. They had broken up at least three times properly, and a few more times just in the spur of the moment. Zuko didn't count the spur of the moment breakups, because they normally got back together afterwards. Basically their relationship was very on again off again. Toph was confused. Why would Zuko want to be in an on again off again relationship with pale gloomy hairbuns, when he could just be on Katara the whole time?
Once Sokka brought up Katara's ex-boyfriend Jet and there had been drama. Jet had died and that made Katara think more fondly on him than she otherwise would have. But Zuko did not think fondly on him at all and set the curtains on fire (that had been hilarious).
It was weird for Toph to think of either of them with somebody else. It just was not right somehow.
Because at some point during their stay on Ember Island, she and Suki, stopped really referring to Katara and Zuko like they were separate entities. They became Katara-and-Zuko. One word. Because they were almost always together. Suki would say where's Katara-and-Zuko? And the answer would be any variation on: they've climbed a tree together and now they are snuggling in it (again), they're rolling about on the beach tickling each other (again), they're drinking tea in the kitchen and having a deep and meaningful chat and lounging against each other (again).
The last time Suki asked where are Katara-and Zuko had been different. Zuko was upset about something, so they had been hiding in the pantry and drinking firewhiskey together, which was a new behaviour for them- Toph was sure they were snuggling, which was not. When she'd gone into the lounge room later, they were sprawled on the terracotta tiles together, obviously tippy. Zuko was lying with his head on Katara's stomach and was drunkenly babbly about responsibility and blah blah blah and she was playing with his hair and making the 'I'm listening' noises that you are supposed to make when someone is spilling their guts. Toph left them to it.
When Toph started watching the firebending training to try and get a better understanding of Aang's bending, Katara instantly decided she had to watch as well, ostensibly for the same reason. Toph knew it was actually so she could perve on Zuko shirtless. Katara though she was so sneaky and nobody suspected her pervert ways. She didn't actually say I'm so wily, but Toph knew she thought it.
When Zuko was sick back in the western air temple, Katara did almost anything to keep him all to herself and would chase away everybody who tried come near him, in case they tired him out, or didn't fluff his pillows properly or sang to him off key or whatever. She stayed with him night and day and sang to him and cuddled him and it had all be very sweet.
When Katara got bitten by the scorpidillo, Zuko took to carrying her around everywhere and caving in to all her ridiculous demands without even a small fight. Katara only had to hint at wanting something and he would fall over himself to get it for her. Toph had overheard them singing to each other one night. Some lame nursery rhyme Katara liked. They were singing it in a round, and probably snuggling. Toph was beginning to suspect that all this snuggling and singing to each other was part of an evil plot. They were trying to make her go mushy with their adorableness.
Katara told Zuko things she didn't tell the rest of them. Katara was always trying to 'keep it together' in front of everyone else. But as soon as it was just her and Zuko and she thougth nobody could over hear her, she'd go waaaahh Zuko this happened and it was awful! and he'd give her tea and biscuits and optional snuggles until she calmed down. Katara always took him up on optional snuggles.
Zuko told Katara things he didn't tell anyone else. He didn't normally just blah out whatever was upsetting him, mostly he'd get really quiet and/or mopey and either storm off or he'd find some really obscure place to mope and then he'd just have a big fat sulk. Katara would try and act like she wasn't worried by then she would spend all day searching for him. And then she would find him and they would snuggle and Katara would say soothing things and they would snuggle some more.
Despite all this snuggling, they still denied fancying each other. The other night at dinner Katara had declared that she would rather kiss the unagi that Zuko. Katara was a liar, liar –pants on fire! Toph could tell. Then Zuko made it worse and said Katara wasn't his type either – ooh he was such a liar too! It was all Toph could do not to sing-song out, I can tell you're lying. Later they had an argument about who's ex was lamer (Gloomy Hairbuns by far. At least Jet had been fun), rather than kissing and making up and telling the truth to each other.
They are idiots.
Toph didn't know what was stopping them from just getting it on already. Was it Aang? Were they holding off out of respect for his feelings? Aang did have a massive crush on Katara after all. When Aang had a shout at Zuko about Katara belonging to him, it had been really awkward for everybody. Toph was a bit surprised that Aang hadn't clicked yet. It was just so obvious. She knew she'd have to take him aside and give him some tough love on the subject.
Yes he had a bit of a crush on Katara, but she was already obviously Zuko's girl, even thought Zuko didn't seem to know it. And Zuko was Katara's boy, even though she was hell bent on denying it. Toph would not be surprised if Katara secretly wanted to tattoo property of Katara – no one else allowed to touch somewhere on Zuko's person. Probably his arse, which she would then rub better for medical purposes.
She and Suki had talked about it. Ever since the day spa when they had been teasing Katara endlessly about the touching and cuddling and tickling wars (Katara inevitably won these – Zuko was ticklish everywhere), she and Suki had been immensely curious as to what was going on between them. Nothing, from the looks of things. Toph was getting impatient with them. Toph just wanted to lock them in a room together until they declared their intense and unending love for each other.
Suki thought that wouldn't work. Zuko and Katara were both ridiculously obtuse sometimes. Suki said that if Toph did that, they would feel weird and awkward and wouldn't do anything out of spite. Also if Katara and Zuko were locked in a room- who would cook dinner? Fair point.
Suki thought that they would figure it out eventually. A watched kettle never boiled and a watched pair of snugly friends never made out. Toph could see the wisdom of this, but she still wanted to try and give them a nudge in the right direction. Some people just needed extra help.
One memorable occasion when the Gaang had played truth or dare together, Toph dared Katara to kiss him. Just once...please... put us all out of our misery. Katara had kissed him on the cheek, which Toph considered cheating and then stormed back in, common sense stick in hand, and everybody felt her wrath.
She told Zuko, quite bluntly, one day that Katara fancied him. Zuko thought she was joking and totally dismissed what she was saying. It was weird. He acted like the possibility of anyone fancying him was remote. Toph didn't understand why. He had a really nice voice. He sounded like he would be rather good looking. Why should he think he was unfancy-able?
Toph and Suki and Sokka had a bet going. Suki and Sokka used to have a bet going but it had been superseded by Katara and Zuko's stubbornness. Sokka was sure that the snuggling that started pretty promptly after Katara and Zuko came back from holiday together, was a sign that they were already a secret couple. Easy mistake to make. Snuggling gave off a very coupley impression. Suki was sure that it would happen two weeks after Katara's birthday. They were both wrong.
Now they were guessing before and after the final battle (Suki said just before, Sokka said just after.) Toph was worried that they were both wrong again. Toph hadn't guessed a date. Toph had guessed a sequence of events. Things would tick by, much as before, with secret snuggling and whispered secrets and little lies, until one of them (probably Zuko) literally exploded with sexual frustration. Zuko and Katara were idiots about this sort of thing. They would definitely need more than a gentle push in the right direction. Toph was not opposed to violent shoves. But only if it proved necessary. She shoved because she cared.
Lovely readers. *shrugs* I really don't know, this story is partially inspired by skellerbvvt's 'Coffeeshop muffins'. Which is a merlin fic in which she described Merlin and Arthur as snuggly dysfunctional cats. I love that! This fic just poured out of me at lightning speed and probably has more than the usual amount of typos. Sorry about that. But I hope you liked it! I honestly didn't think I'd get another chance to write again before I had to leave, but I had such a long bus ride today and this idea popped into my head and would not be silenced. So here you go, Toph's POV on Zutara at this point in my not stalking Zuko story. Consider this a going away present from me to you! This really is the last thing I'll be writing, because I have to pack for shiz !
Be good while I'm gone! Get into shenanigans!