A/N: After a million years here it is! I would tell you guys a bunch of excuses and reasons as to why this took so long but it would just be boring so without further ado the probably not so thrilling conclusion to Mending the Demented.
Toph shuffled around the cabinets searching for clean dishes to serve the breakfast she bought from the vendor down the hill. She would have woken Snoozles but his nightly activities seemed to have extended into the morning hours. His canoodling with the Fire Nation Princess had driven her to climb up onto the sofa in her room just to be able to rest peacefully. They seemed to have forgotten she was blind, not deaf, because of all the banging and moaning they were making. And to think, in the presence of such a young girl! It was tempting to tell Katara so she would berate her brother for exposing such an innocent girl to such lewd behaviors. But it was far more fun to hold it over his head and watch him sweat it out for a while. Her parents would certainly be appalled. She smirked slightly at the thought while she continued to rummage through the small kitchen not bothering to be very quiet. Apparently she was making more noise than she thought because the guest room had become quiet, followed by a pair of light footsteps that couldn't possibly belong to Sokka. The earthbender knew that walk well, sharp but light, the way ladies of status were thought to carry themselves.
Toph instinctively lowered to her fighting chance before sensing a clumsy and familiar pair of feet strolling towards her direction. She instantly relaxed as Sokka's joyous tone greeted her.
"Toph! What a great morning this is," he was next to her using her head as an elbow rest, something that she secretly enjoyed but she shoved his arm off in visible annoyance. "So what's for breakfast?" he asked. She elbowed him in the stomach but as he recoiled in pain she could hear the faintest chuckle from behind them.
"I bought some noodles and bread and since I'm letting you crash here with a fugitive I might add, it's your job to set the table and serve it."
She settled herself on the floor putting her feet on the table, leaning against a stone column. Azula was lingering around the table shifting her weight from foot to foot.
"Perhaps I should-" she started, her voice strained, taking a few steps towards the counter before Sokka interrupted her.
"Nope, I'm serving breakfast to my two favorite girls, so take a seat." She obliged after a second of hesitation and took a seat in front of Toph. "By the way don't tell Katara I said that," he added before heading back to the small kitchen.
Toph took to studying the girl in front of her, lowering her feet to the ground. She seemed calm and collected, no flinching or jittering around, but the young earthbender could feel the irregularity of her heartbeats. She was also trying to keep her breathing in check, to calm it down. This only confirmed her guests' nocturnal activities. Still, this Azula was very different from the one they faced during the eclipse. Before she had no way of knowing if the princess was lying or not but she suspected that things might be different now.
"So Princess, you seem pretty tired this morning. Get a good night sleep?" she asked while playing with her meteor bracelet. Azula shifted ever so slightly in her seat, re affirming her uneasiness to Toph.
After quickly recovering from the initial shock she replied. "It's a bit difficult to sleep at all when you've spent the last few months rotting in a cell. But despite your stony accommodations I did sleep well enough. Thank you for your concern."
She still had some fire in her for sure Toph thought. But under the passive aggressive jabs at her house there seemed to be some earnest gratefulness.
"Good to know." Sokka came in balancing three bowls of noodles and tea cups on a very small tray. He set down their breakfast and urged everyone to dig in before sitting down and scarfing down the food himself, noisy as ever.
"So exactly how long do you guys plan on crashing here? I mean I'm all for breaking rules but I don't think harboring two fugitives from the Earth Kingdom is going to help my metal bending school any."
"Don't sweat it, we'll be out of your hare today. We need to keep moving for a while before settling down anywhere. Besides guards are sure to come here soon enough looking for us." Sokka always had a plan Toph knew. She just hoped that he was sure about what exactly he was doing. But convincing Sokka out of something was near impossible so she would have to trust him.
"Well good," Toph said still slurping her noodles. The rest of breakfast was unusually quiet, mostly filled with slurps, shifting bodies and uncomfortable gazes that even Toph could feel. Finally Azula broke the silence by standing up and offering to clean up the table. Sokka protested but she insisted. "I have to learn to clean up after myself now, so please let me."
"I'll help ya out Princess," Toph said picking up a couple of tea cups and following her into the kitchen. There she found Azula standing in front of the sink with the water running but not moving at all.
"Got a problem there?" the blind girl inquired.
"No, I'm just trying to find the right strategy for dish washing is all," was her serious response. Every word that came out of her mouth from the moment Sokka showed up on her doorstep seemed completely preposterous and yet there she was, not even trying to kill her.
Toph crossed her arms and used her foot to shift Azula's leg so that they were now facing each other. "Ok, we're alone now so you can tell me. What's your game? Sokka may be an idiot but he's not stupid enough to let you out of your cage, at least not without good reason."
"Look Toph. I know we have had our differences in the past and no doubt we will have them in the future but I assure you I have nothing wicked or evil up my sleeve. I have done a serious amount of self-examination, some of which Sokka helped me through. So please keep your threats to yourself." At those words she turned away and began to clink things around in the sink.
Her heartbeat was irregular, which should have meant that she was lying, but it wasn't that kind of irregular. Toph knew very well that pattern because Sokka had produced them in her before. In that moment she was sure that Azula was being completely honest. In the back of her mind worry still screamed at her saying this was probably a bad idea but Toph had to believe what was in front of her. Besides, it would do Sokka some good to spend time with the Princess, maybe he'll be less of an idiot.
"For some strange reason I'm going to trust you. But let me make things clear. If you hurt him in any way I will hunt you down and won't hesitate to kill you. Got that?" Toph threatened.
"If I wanted to die," Azula started, heading out of the kitchen, "I would have stayed in prison."
Toph couldn't help but smirk. Despite having once tried to kill them Toph had to admit that she kinda liked Azula, she had spunk and a no nonsense attitude. Perhaps she could get used to her, maybe even like her someday. She headed out after Azula and found her and Sokka gathering their things.
"So where do you plan on heading?" asked the small earthbender.
"Not sure yet, and we probably shouldn't tell you either. You know, as a precaution," Sokka said swinging his bag over his shoulder.
"We'll contact you once we find a safe spot," was all Azula said before exiting the house. Sokka and Toph looked at her direction in slight shock.
"Well that's different," Sokka murmured before turning towards Toph.
"I guess this is goodbye. For a while anyway," he said ruffling the girls' dark hair.
"I guess it is." She punched him on the shoulder affectionately before continuing. "Take care of her, she's starting to grow on me," Toph said looking away.
"Oh really?" She could hear the annoying grin on his face; it made her want to punch him again. She did.
"Shut up and get outta here. You don't wanna get caught do you?" He chuckled softly before following Azula out the door. Toph felt their footsteps as they walked away their rhythms and motions completely in synch. She was happy for Sokka, the idiot deserved to be and the fact that a crazy, ex-firebending princess could bring it to him made a weird amount of sense. She took a mental note to annoy them into naming their first born child after her as she finally felt their heartbeats disappear.
A/N: I'd really like to thank everyone who's read, reviewed and supported me in the writing of this fic. It has been an invaluable learning experience that has helped me a lot actually. I also couldn't help but throw in a bit of Tokka in there. I really don't know what else to say except thank you so much and I hope some of you read some of my next fic, if I actually get around to writing any.