A/n: Hello everyone! I'm only now getting around to filling out the prompts from this year's Tokka Week at KataangForever(dot)com! I've told myself a hundred times that I'm not allowed to post any multi-chapter stuff until I finish the entire thing (lest I leave the reader indefinitely hanging), but I've agreed to give myself a second chance at it. So there should be an update every few days, if I can keep up!
This particular set of prompt fills actually makes a cohesive story of seven very short chapters (less than two pages each, so far!). Let us begin!
Disclaimer: I own nothing and make no profit.
Prompt 1 - Spar
"The true genius shudders at incompleteness—and usually prefers silence to saying something which is not everything it should be." - Edgar Allan Poe
The worst part of the fight was not that they had all but lost. It was not that they had been caught upon stumbling into the central hub of the loyalist rebellion, or that both of them earned devastating wounds within the first minute. It was not even that this rebellion meant the potential collapse of the Harmony Restoration Movement's final stage.
No, Toph could handle all of these things. The Movement had been challenged before, she'd battled broken limbs before (though never something so debilitating as a leg), and frankly, rebellions stopped surprising her years ago. The worst part of the fight—even as she struggled for breath, her veins pumping doubletime and her head dizzy—was the resignation in Sokka's voice when he said, "We're not gonna make it."
She couldn't handle this verbal defeat. With an effortful grunt, Toph pulled a wall up from the ground and engulfed the entire rebel force within it. She turned her back on the rock partition and slid down on her good leg, fingers gripping the dirt to hold the walls in place.
"You're right," she said. "Neither of us will get away if we both try to run. I'll hold them off as long as I can."
Sokka, who had been using this moment to tie his belt around the gash in his head, started as if she had shocked him. "What? No! I'm not leaving without you."
"If you've got a better idea, now would be a great time to—"
Toph gasped as the earth wall shuddered against her back. She dug her heels deeper, widened her stance. Kneeling across from her, Sokka faltered but did not budge. He had one arm tight across his shoulder bag, protecting the invaluable intelligence report that they had traveled across the Earth Kingdom to secure. Somehow this makeshift band of rebels had not made it into the document.
"I can't," he said, after a pause filled only by the sound of flame and fists on rock. "You go. I can't leave you. I would rather—"
"No offense, but this isn't sparring practice. Your sword isn't going to take down a whole army."
"It doesn't have to, I just need to last long enough for you to get away. You're the greatest Earthbender in the world! You could make it."
"Yeah," Toph sighed. "I could. But you're the brains behind every move we make. Without you, everything falls apart—the whole Restoration Movement. Everything."
Toph heard the panic as it broke inside of him. It swelled in his chest and shattered into a tearless sob, a sound of hysteria but also of hate. She had him. Sokka might never forgive himself, but he would live and let the burn ebb into recovery. His limbs shook like hers did, a sick concoction of adrenaline and despair, shivering up from the ground and over every inch of her body. Heaving for breath, Toph shifted the weight of the wall to one arm. It trembled but held fast. Reaching across the gap, Toph grabbed on to whatever bit of Sokka's tunic she reached first, and pulled him in so fast that the kiss caught him mid-gasp. There was no time to linger but she lingered anyway, fixated in one last moment with the weight of both their lives held in one hand. The kiss didn't register with Sokka until it was almost too late. He had barely begun to lean in before she pulled away, pressed her palm against his chest, and shoved him backward across the clearing.
Toph waited to attack until Sokka's scampering footfalls died. This did little use. Sokka did not see the battle that unfurled, but in the long seconds before the woods swallowed him up, he heard it.
A/n: Full disclosure: I was, and remain, absolutely terrified of posting this series for some reason. I have been experiencing major feelings of inadequacy as of late. So if you have made it this far, thank you so much for reading! As long as anybody at all enjoys these little ficlets, I feel empowered enough to keep on going when I might otherwise give up. So again, thank you! I hope you enjoyed it (or, in this case, are at least marginally interested in what happens next). See you in a few days!