A/N: I'm not big on shipping outside the canon, but this idea just sort of came out. Obviously I own nothing. Please review! & Enjoy =)
She regretted it the minute she agreed to go with him, but it was hard to say no to leaving her home. "Official Avatar business," she told her parents. It was a lie, of course, but it seemed like a great idea until she really thought about it.
Yes, I'll go with you to the Air Temple, alone. And yes, it's totally fine for you to lend Appa to Katara and Sokka so they can go to the South Pole to see their dad. Perfectly fine. I'll just, you know, cling to you for the entire flight part of our journey. Not awkward at all.
As it turned out, most of the journey was on foot, which was fine. Aang wasn't bad company. He was goofy and carefree. So even if he wasn't headstrong like Toph, she didn't really mind hanging around him. Truth be told, she had even developed a crush on old Twinkles. She couldn't figure out why or when she began to feel that way but the crush was her darkest secret. A strong girl like Toph couldn't admit to things like feelings. Besides, the group teased her for a whole year after she mistakenly kissed and thanked "Sokka" when Suki saved her from drowning. Her friends would show no mercy if they found out that she liked somebody else, especially Aang. But her and Aang were alone for now and everything was fine, until they reached the base of the Eastern Air Temple. He insisted that they fly. It was much faster he had told her. He was right, but there was one problem.
"But we don't have Appa. How are we going to fly?" She asked, waving her arms in the air. Then she felt his heartbeat speed up. What was he thinking? She wondered. He stumbled over his words and then she heard his glider. "Oh, no. No, no no no NO. I'm not-" But before she could escape, she felt his arms around her waist and then felt herself being lifted off the ground. She hadn't even heard him move over to her. Twinkle Toes was definitely light on his feet.
"It'll be fun," he said, happily.
Toph wrapped her arms tighter around Aang as the two of them flew higher and higher. Without the earth beneath her feet, she was truly blind. The feeling of her legs dangling freaked her out, so she wrapped them around Aang too. He made a little whining noise when she did that, but Toph really didn't care. She hated feeling helpless like this. And even more than that, she hated relying on somebody like Aang. He was just so . . . girly. Although, the more she thought about it, the more she found concepts like girly and manly to be silly. Sure, she was a girl but she was definitely more manly than Twinkle Toes. Maybe she was just stronger and more confident than Aang and it had nothing to do with gender. He certainly acted like a little girl, always dancing around and avoiding conflict. That's why she called him Twinkle Toes, after all. She remembered when she first dubbed him with that infamous nickname.
"How'd you know it was me?" His words rang in her ears, bright and cheery and full of curiously.
His voice was always full of emotion, usually brimming with so much happiness it made her sick. She could practically see the smiles and tears and glares on his face every time his mood changed. Most people required some effort to read, but not Aang. He was an open book and he didn't protest being read. He didn't care how much anybody saw and he felt absolutely no shame. She could tease him all she wanted, in fact, continually hitting him were it hurt, except it never really did hurt, did it? How a boy could answer to Twinkle Toes without so much as a second thought was actually a little impressive. Maybe he was strong and confident after all.
"We're almost there," A deep, steady voice came from the chest she was clinging too. When did Aang start sounding like a man? She couldn't remember if he had sounded like this last year or the year before but she knew that he definitely sounded different now then when they had met. His heart was racing now too and she wasn't sure if it was the physical exertion or because he was shy about being so close to her. "Just hold on a little longer. I know how much you hate -" He was cut off when Toph kicked him in the shin. "Ow!" he cried, his voice cracking.
Toph suppressed a laugh. She had to sound intimating, not giggling like a school girl."Stop babying me. I'm FINE," she demanded.
"But you're shaking." Another swift kick caused Aang to cry out again.
"I just hate flying. It's so cold up here. You always take as long as possible, don't you?" Her voice trembled as the sensations of flying hit her stomach. He was changing directions, probably unnecessarily. Toph started to get angry.
"It's okay, Toph. I won't tell anyone you're scared," he teased, his laughter radiating from his center. It surrounded her. As far as she could sense, there was nothing in the whole world but the two of them. Her face was pressed up against his muscular chest; her nose was filled with his scent. His voice and heartbeat booming in her ear, her stomach filled with butterflies, these sensations consumed her entire being.
"I AM NOT SCARED!" She yelped as Aang made a sharp turn, and she shrieked. "Stop doing that! You doing it on purpose!"
"You know you're safe with me," He cooed in her ear. Was he trying to be romantic? She felt her stomach drop.
"Right. Safe. With the mighty Twinkle Toes," she quipped, but he didn't mind her teasing. Instead, he started laughing again. His laugh was warm and cheerful and above all else, genuine. He liked being with her and that was something that Toph really appreciated. She didn't feel alone or unwanted. He was a real friend.
Before she knew it, she heard Aang's feet lightly touch a solid surface. Toph slid down his body, her feet making a loud THUD as they hit the ground.
"Ah, sweet rock! I can see again!" Toph said, belly flopping onto the concrete.
"Beautiful isn't it?" Aang said.
"Yea, looks great to me!" Toph said sarcastically.
"Oh, heh. Sorry. It used to look a lot nicer, one hundred years ago, before you know," His heart sank and he let out a sigh. The blind joke had gone completely over his head.
"Oh, sorry," Toph said, feeling a little guilty. Feeling things like sympathy and guilt: Twinkles had made her gone soft. But there wasn't anybody else around so she didn't really mind being a little nicer to him. There was an awkward silence that Toph needed to break. "So, how about the grand tour?" She asked, eliciting an instant response out of him. And there it was: Aang's heart was racing again with anticipation. It was so easy to lift his spirits.
"You've got it! This is going to be so much fun! I've got something to show you," he said, making no effort to contain his excitement. She felt his fingers interlocking with hers.
"I asked for a tour, not at date." Toph jerked her hand away and took a step back.
"Well, you're about to walk off the edge of the tower," Aang said, hesitantly, reaching for her arm to pull her off the edge.
"What is it with your airbenders and a lack of solid ground? It's just crazy," she replied and reluctantly let him grab her hand. His hand was warm and he held her close to him. Toph thought again that maybe he was trying to be romantic. If that was his plan, he was doing a pretty good job of it. What better way to get a stubborn girl like her close than to pull her totally out of her element and make her rely on him?
With all the gaps in the ground and leaps that had to be made, it was hard for Toph to feel her surroundings. Just as she would get comfortable, Aang would pull her into him and the two would fly over a break in the path. Aang continued to chatter and Toph caught bits and pieces between trying to focus on walking and not falling and focusing on the feeling of Aang's hand intertwined with her own.
"Fire Nation burned ..." he said, sadly, "And we used ….. and then …. to play air hockey here! Well, over there, in the air... yelled at us …. and then …. It was great," he was happy, now. "I cleaned this area up ….. it looked …. before taking you," he was sad again, "... died here. I knew her. She …."Aang sure had a lot to say about this place, and she was somewhat interested in hearing it all, but it was hard to focus, all things considered.
"Here! Right here!" Aang exclaimed. He was really happy now.
"What is it?" Toph asked, but before she could get an answer a large, rough tongue was licking her face, knocking her down. "Appa's here?" Toph asked, thoroughly confused.
"Nope," he was leaning in now, practically jumping up and down with glee.
"Well, then what is it?" Toph moved her hand to wipe the saliva off her face.
"Another sky bison!"
"But I thought-"
"He's not!" Aang wasn't touching ground anymore. She could tell by the noise of wind hitting the ground in a patterned fashion that he was traveling on an air scooter. CLICK! He hit a wall. He must have gotten too excited.
"Calm down, Twinkles. So are you telling me-"
"Appa's not the last sky bison! There are others here too, but this guy is especially friendly. He's only just a baby but you'll meet the rest of the gang. There's like TEN of them. It's the best thing ever. And they each have their own personality and, and-"
"That's great, Aang" Toph said, smiling. She reached over to pet the bison, who let out a roar.
"I said that's great."
"No, what did you call me?"
"I called you Aang."
"You never call me Aang."
"It's your name isn't it?"
"Don't make such a deal out of it, Twinkles," Toph said, punching Aang in the arm.
"Oooph! Why would you do that?" Aang complained.
"It's how I show affection. I'm happy for you," Toph said, blushing. She had slipped, calling him Aang. Toph wasn't supposed to be mushy and sentimental. It just wasn't Toph to be that way. She changed the subject, "So do the others know about this?"
"No, you're the first person I've told or shown. Well, I mean brought you to see, erm - meet the bison." Toph couldn't help but laugh at Aang dealing with her lack of sight. It's not like it offended her , but whenever anyone mentioned seeing, she would always jump to make the joke and so Aang developed a habit of quickly correcting himself.
"Really? I thought for sure you'd want to show Sugar Queen or Sparky. You know how you all have the last of your kind complexes." Toph resented Katara because of how much attention she received. Weren't guys impressed by how strong and amazing Toph was? But I guess it all came down to looks and Katara must be prettier. Not that it mattered with Aang anyway. Katara had turned him down four years ago. It took a while, but Aang had moved on to being content alone. And even if he had moved on to her, she wouldn't take being second best. She deserved better.
"What are you talking about?" Aang asked.
"Well Sweetness is the 'last waterbender of the whole southern tribe.' And you know, Sparky and his dragons... it just seems like..."
"But you're my best friend, Toph." It was true, too. Times had changed the group dynamics significantly. It had been four years, almost five and Toph was truly Aang's best friend. After all, she spent the most time traveling with him. It was a perfect excuse to not be in her stuffy home. She had no other responsibilities like the rest of the Gaang did and if there was one thing she liked about the Air Nomad way of life, it was the nomad part.
"Don't blame you for feeling that way, I AM pretty great," She replied.
"Yea, you kinda are," Aang said absentmindedly. The two of them sat there in silence for a few minutes before Toph spoke again.
"So are we taking one of these bad boys when we go back?"
"Oh, you don't like flying on me?" Aang teased, poking her side. Toph giggled, pushing his arm away. Wait. Did he just ask me if I like riding him? Toph's cheeks turned bright red.
"Don't do THAT," she yelled angrily. And then it occurred to Aang that Toph was ticklish. A devilish grin spread on his cheeks.
"Do what? Fly? But I'm an airbender. You can't stop me from doing what comes naturally," he said, lifting himself off the ground. Where did he go? Toph wondered, turning around. But Aang anticipated that so instead of circling around her, he waited for her to turn around before tickling her from behind. Startled, Toph fell back into Aang laughing. Toph struggled against him and then she pushed him down using the little earth that was beneath them.
"Not funny Twinkles! I'm gonna get you!" She yelled as she restrained him and tickled him back. He started giggled and his heart was racing. Toph felt in control until she realized that she was straddling him and he was squirming beneath her. She was flustered for a split second and Aang took advantage of that opportunity.
"Hahaha! I got you, Toph!" He yelled playfully as Toph tried to fight back the giggles that escaped nonetheless.
"Stop! Hahah... Damn it Aaangg hahaha st-ttop..." and as he continued her words made less and less sense. They had covered some distance in their fight, rolling over, running brief distances. Aang had positioned himself in front of Toph now. She reached out to knock him over but then she felt her wrists being gripped by Aang's hands. He was holding her arms tightly as he pushed them back. It hurt a little as Aang was not used to his growing strength. Toph heard her arms hit the wall as she felt her body push back to meet the hard surface. Aang's deep laughs filled her ears and then … silence. She could feel him towering over her, hovering, breathing in and out rapidly. He laughed nervously.
"A-ang?" She asked. He laughed.
"I like when you say my name," he said with a weird inflection to his voice, tightening his grip on her.
"Aang..." she said softly, "What are you-" She felt her stomach drop as he leaned in. She felt his lips flush against hers. She breathed in and, without thinking, began to kiss him back. It was a part of him she didn't know existed. He hummed softly as he did everything he could to make the two of them as close as possible. Toph tried to "see" the two of them with her feet but she couldn't. As far as she could tell, the two of them were one thing. She allowed herself the go weak in the knees and lean up against Aang. As she relaxed, he took the opportunity to release he arms and wrap his around her, pulling her up to him. His mouth moved against hers in perfect sync to her responses. After several moments, the two broke apart.
"Toph-" he said breathlessly, but this time it was she who cut him off. Took a quick breath before pushing him down. She may have been small but weak wasn't a word that described Toph. It took little effort to push Aang down and secure him flat against the concrete ground of the Air Temple. She positioned herself over him and kissed him forcefully; Aang offered up no resistance.
It was funny how things changed. From the peaceful, passive boy he had been to the grounded, guarded girl she had been, the remnants of their childhood personality structured who they were today. But both Aang and Toph had grown up – together, defying all odds, even time itself to fall in love with each other.