ETA 02.01.13- Image Art: Taang- Kiss by ~GreenifyME
Disclaimer: Don't own ATLA.
AN: Aahhh! I've been bitten by the Taang bug! I can't write anything else! I know I should be worried, but I kinda like it. ;) Just as a bit of warning, not sure where this one's going... I mean, I have an idea, but mostly I just wanted to get this out because it wouldn't leave me alone. So, yeah, here's another Toph/Aang story! Enjoy! :)
Toph barged into Aang's room without knocking.
"Hey, Twinkletoes, you busy?"
The young monk had been meditating. "I was."
"Great, since you're not anymore..."
Aang rolled his eyes as he rose from the floor. "What do you need, Toph?"
He sounded tired and Toph almost felt bad interrupting. Almost. Not enough to make her walk out and leave him to his peaceful solitude once again. Instead, she shut the door behind her, locking it. Aang raised an eyebrow.
"What's going on?" he asked, trying to read her expression unsuccessfully. He knew by now that if Toph didn't want you to know something, you wouldn't know it. "Everything okay?"
Toph was leaning against the door, eyes cast down. He could see her take deep breaths, mentally preparing herself for something. He looked away from her and the way her chest rose and fell every time she inhaled and exhaled. The innocent act inadvertently made his cheeks glow a rosy pink so he focused his gaze on the bare, metal wall instead. He still wasn't used to the differences that developed in those five years since Ozai's defeat.
No one had grown more than he and Toph, which made sense since neither had hit puberty yet when they first met. Aang was tall and lean. Toph often poked fun at him calling him skinny, but due to all his bending, though he was thin, he was solid muscle. His shoulders were much wider now at seventeen than they had been at twelve, though his feet were as light as ever and still too small for his height. Aside from shaving his head, he also had to shave the soft, scattered patches of hair on his chin. Otherwise, he was the same as always: a fun-loving monk who had far too many responsibilities for his young age.
Toph had grown, too. Where Aang was tall, she remained short. Where he was lean, she was curvy. Where his voice had deepened, hers had only gotten louder. But despite those changes and living in different parts of the world, they were still best friends. Most people that saw them together would say they were still the same twelve-year-olds who ended the hundred year war, but Aang and Toph knew better.
Deciding to give her parents a second chance, Toph had returned home after the war ended. Quickly learning they hadn't changed in her absence, she left again when her parents still didn't understand her, expecting her to be the obedient, little helpless blind girl she pretended to be before running away. That's when she left Gaoling for good and ended up working in the Royal Palace in the heart of Ba Sing Se. Though she was a noble lady by birth, she chose to work with the Royal Earthbender Guards, keeping order in the Earth Kingdom. And she was good at it, too.
Everyone knew Toph loved her job, but she dropped everything when she received a letter from Aang telling her he and Katara had broken up. He had been fifteen. Looking back, he realized it was bound to happen. The war, the trying aftermath of rebuilding, and forging a peaceful resolution that all four nations could agree on, had made Aang and Katara cling to each other trying to hold on to something familiar and safe, but even he knew that wasn't the basis of a long-lasting and healthy relationship.
The second year they were together, they were hardly ever in the same place at the same time. Essentially, they were a couple in name only. The infatuation Aang had felt for his Forever Girl grew less and less as more time passed until all that remained was a familial kind of love - something akin to what he felt for his other friends. Despite that, he couldn't break up with her. It did not matter that he no longer felt the same way anymore, he could never hurt Katara. Luckily for him - and as was usually the case between the two - Katara was strong enough to do it for him.
When she said, "I love you, Aang, but I don't think it's a...girlfriend-boyfriend type of thing," he knew exactly what she meant.
Still, tears filled his gray eyes. Though he wasn't sad to lose Katara - he knew they would remain friends - he cried for the loss of something he thought he needed to feel less alone in a world where he was the last of his kind. Immediately after it happened, Aang had written to Toph, more as an exercise to express his feelings than because he expected her to show up at the Eastern Air Temple, but to his surprise, she did. And, within a week.
The first thing she did was hug him and let him hold on to her for a long time while he cried on her shoulder.
"Alright, enough!" she had said, shoving him away. "That's the last bit of crying that's taking place while I'm here 'cause I won't have people saying my first student is a wussy Avatar, got it?"
It didn't matter that there was no one else anywhere near the Air Temple, Aang wiped his eyes dry and agreed. The rest of the month she spent there, they had so much fun, he hadn't felt like crying once.
Since then, things had pretty much returned to normal, or as normal as things got for them. They didn't travel together on Appa anymore like Aang would have liked because they all had things to do while living scattered all over the world. Zuko was ruling in the Fire Nation, Aang had finished rebuilding the Eastern Air Temple and was in the midst of beginning reconstruction of the Southern Air Temple, and Toph was cleaning up Ba Sing Se. The other three were harder to pinpoint.
Sokka had been appointed the Water Tribe Ambassador to the Fire Nation, but he claimed that he and Zuko would be unable to reach any kind of compromise on anything, so he pretty much forced Katara to take his place. Of course, everyone could see through Sokka's poor attempt at an excuse; really, all he wanted was to be close to the Earth Kingdom, hence Suki. Originally, Katara had been made Water Tribe Ambassador to the Earth Kingdom, but readily agreed to switch positions with her brother, prefering to deal with one Fire Lord, than two very difficult (and pretty much insane) Kings - Kuei and Bumi. While Sokka had to travel between Ba Sing Se and Omashu, his Kyoshi Warrior girlfriend, Suki, had to split her time between Kyoshi Island and Omashu to see him. Suki would have gone to Ba Sing Se, but people still blamed the Kyoshi Warriors for the fall of the city and she was tired of having to fight all the idiots that challenged her and her Warriors.
Since they were all busy and couldn't make it to every birthday, party, or such event, they made sure to get together at least once a year for the End of the War Anniversary, or Eotwa, as Sokka tried to get everyone to call it. No one did. For the fifth Anniversary, they were meeting in the Fire Nation, which is why Sokka, Suki, Aang, and Toph all found themselves in the Fire Nation naval ship on their way to Zuko's homeland.
"Need a favor," Toph said, her voice bringing Aang back to the present. He was surprised by her words and said so. "We're friends, aren't we?" she argued, sounding irritated and emphasizing the word friends. Aang nodded and Toph continued. "And that's what friends do right, help each other out? Or so I hear."
"Yeah," he agreed, still surprised. "But you never want any help. From anyone."
Ignoring him, Toph walked further into his room and sat on the edge of his bed. "I'm not asking Sokka," she mumbled, "Earth, I'd rather ask Suki!" she said to herself, then paused. "You know, I think I'll do that." Without another word in his direction, she stood and headed for the door.
"Hey, hold on," Aang was right behind her, "I can help you. I'd be happy to," he smiled.
"No, I think Suki'll be better equiped to handle this," Toph replied and though she hadn't meant it as a challenge, the Avatar took it as such.
"I'm equipped!" he cried. Not knowing what he was claiming to be equipped for didn't seem to matter just then.
Toph chewed on her bottom lip. "I don't know, it's a pretty big favor, Twinkles. You sure?"
"Sure, I'm sure" he laughed, happy to finally be able to do something for her. She'd done so much for him already and he had never been able to repay her.
"Okay, don't move," she warned.
Aang stood very still.
Going up on tiptoes, Toph placed one hand on either side of his face and before he could say anything, pulled him down for a kiss.