the earth beneath our feet

.

.

.

His fingers grasp her chin gently, tilting her head up, and she wonders—not for the first time. Especially around him—if this is what it's like: being in love.

"I wish..." he starts, and she can hear his lips brushing together as he speaks. His heartbeat thrums, fast and unsteady and a little terrifying. Her blind eyes make out nothing in the blackness, and she wishes she could see him in this moment. She wishes she could see him just once, to see the man that has so easily captured her heart and soul with his foolishness and appetite and bravery and chivalry and kindness and his sense of humor. It's not fair, she thinks, that he can see her, and she cannot see him. She has no inkling of what he looks like. She knows, from others, that his eyes are the clearest blue, and his skin is a rich dark mocha color. She wishes she could remember what those colors looked like. When it comes to Sokka, she only really knows what she can feel.

His skin is rough and haggard, thick with scars and callouses. His hands, the ones that hold her now, are gentle and tender whenever he touches her. His lips are feather light against her skin in the early hours of the morning, but hard and aggressive at night as they lie in bed, tangled in the sheets. He's tall and muscular. He smells like the sea after a thunderstorm and the forest in the dead of winter.

Sokka's fingers dance along her cheek before gliding over her lips, "This is crazy, huh?" he murmurs, and she imagines his pink full lips (she knows, she's kissed them) tilting up at the corners, not in amusement, but disdain. "I'm getting married—"

"Don't finish that sentence, Sokka." she breathes, "Just don't."

"Toph..." he says, swallows roughly. "I'm sorry. It wasn't supposed to happen this way. I wasn't supposed to love you both. I wasn't supposed to—" he sucks in a deep breath, "I wasn't supposed to want you at night and in the morning and the afternoon and I wasn't supposed to hold your hand under the table and kiss you when nobody was looking and I wasn't supposed to—to—to do any of those things but I did and there's no taking it back now. And," he stops, kisses her quick, "I love you."

"But you love her, too. And," Toph pushes against his chest, "you're marrying Suki in an hour."

"Say you'll stay. Say you'll be happy for me and you'll—" upon seeing her expression, and the hurts she tries so very hard to hide swimming in her eyes, he sighs, defeated, "I'm asking too much, aren't I?"

Toph pats his cheek, not lovingly, but condescendingly, "Always." she sneers. "I won't stay. I'll be far from here and on with my life when you're saying 'I do'."

His hand falls from her face, and she can imagine his expression turning sour, somber, reclusive. She can feel him move away from her, just a hair, but it's enough to send her heart into the pit of her stomach. She wonders, not for the first time, if this is what it's like to have loved and lost.

fin.