Welcome! If you're looking for a great story about how love overcomes all trials, then you're not going to find it here. There will be love and trials and trials of love, but this is not a happy ending couple.
This is a collection of interconnected stories of the relationship between Toph and Aang and the obstacles that manage to trip them up time and time again (because as much as I support Toph and Aang together, I don't believe they would really work out "romantically".) Give it a chance and I hope you enjoy!
Disclaimer: This is a work of fan-fiction and therefore the author claims no rights to the original content.
"I'm leaving, Aang."
He'd been resting so peacefully. The pillow beneath him was so soft—like a cloud, but less wet—and he was so content to just lie on it, his face cradled by the down inside. The sun splayed across his bare back and it was so pleasing to bask in its warmth. He wanted to lie there forever.
He wanted her to lie there with him forever.
Disgruntled, Aang rolled to his side, her words knocking him out of his serenity.
He looked at her, standing in the doorway with messy hair and a half tied robe. Her hands cradled her face, rubbing at her temples to soothe some thought he couldn't hear and he knew she wouldn't speak. Her small mouth was drawn into a deep frown, the corners twitching with an emotion that he, with all his Avatar wisdom and power, couldn't identify. When at last her hands fell away from her face, he saw tears glistening in her beautiful foggy eyes and she held herself tightly.
This…didn't look good.
"You're leaving?" he asked as though hearing her repeat it would help him make sense of what she meant.
Toph nodded. She bit her lip. "I'm going home."
Home. Republic City. (It stung his heart that the sanctuary—their sanctuary—they'd created in the Western Air Temple would never be what she called home.) Where Toph Beifong was the respected Chief of Police.
But Aang was simple and for his thirty-two years of life, he was naïve. (Katara had called it hopeful, Dhara had called it selective perception, and Zuko had very bluntly told the Avatar that he was more blind than their earthbending friend would ever be.)
He sat up straight, a thin sheet tangled around his hips, and fussed with the hair that lately he'd been far too lazy to shave (that she couldn't even see anyways). "I'll go get Appa. And then next month we can come back—there's an entire week of festivals for—"
She didn't even say a word, but the slow, constant shake of her head had him choking back his words. "I'm not coming back here with you, Aang."
And he did his very best not to be hurt by her words. "That's okay. We can always go somewhere else."
"No." Toph fidgeted in the doorway and her nerves made him more on edge than anything in his lifetime ever had. "I'm not coming back at all. I can't go with you anymore."
It was as though an explosion had set off in his head, potent and sharp with the grave understanding he had lacked. He reminded himself to breathe.
The small woman rocked on her heels, seeming all the world torn between launching herself at him and running as fast and far as her feet could take her (and she'd traveled the entire world a hundred times over).
"I have a daughter now, Aang. And Lin needs me more than you do—more than I think you ever did." He wanted to argue, but a harsh memory seized him of a similar argument with another woman who'd broken his heart decades before when it was still only growing. He did need her. But Toph continued to rip him apart from the inside with her well-meaning words. "It's not fair to her for me to leave every month like we do. And—and you're married now, Aang. And you have two sons that need you like Lin needs me. And you have a wife who loves you—and I know that you love her."
But he didn't love her like he should.
Aang couldn't speak. Every month, when she was in his arms, he completely forgot about Dhara and Bumi and Tenzin—because every moment when she was in his presence, he went to a place where it was only the two of them. (He would not admit that he thought of her all the time, because that was a dangerous confession.)
Toph's voice was breaking with emotion. It took all his will to keep himself from running to her—begging her—to stay with him. His own heart clenched. "I think it's time that we let this go."
He stared at his hands, wondering if things would be different if the blue lines weren't there. "What about everything—all our—what about us?"
She breathed deeply, a shuddering breath that nearly knocked her down. "We've tried us, Aang. It's been fifteen years and somehow we still can't make us work. It's selfish for us to keep trying."
He remembered a time when she never would have backed down from a fight. (But he knew that they shouldn't have had to fight.) "So it's better to give up and accept defeat?" When something means this much to you?
She turned her back on him. Though she could not see him, the knowledge that he could see her was too much. "Sometimes it's not about defeat; it's about knowing when it's wiser to surrender a losing fight. About letting go before you're beat." Neither of them saw the difference in her words—there was no difference. But she had herself convinced. It was less painful.
But it wasn't any less painful.
His tongue held tight to the words he'd learned not to say—not when they were this real. He loved her, but he wouldn't say it. He'd made the mistake and wasn't a glutton enough to repeat it.
Toph's hand ran against the door as she opened her mouth to speak, but found herself void of any words. She hung her head, long raven hair shielding her face from the world.
"Toph, I have one question." He had thousands, and even more pleas. But he'd settle for the single answer.
She couldn't do any better than a whisper. "Yes?"
The sheets crumpled beneath his heavy hands and the bone in his knuckles peered up at him through his skin. He clenched his eyes shut. He croaked, "Is she my daughter?"
She let her hand fall away from the stone and wished that she could not see. "I don't know." A sharp intake of breath came from one of them, but even on their death beds decades later, neither would know whose it had been. "But for the sake of our hearts, let's hope she's not." She didn't even say goodbye.
Almost immediately following the disappearance of her figure, his face fell into the plush pillow beneath him. It was like a cloud, blocking the light from his eyes, and like a cloud it was wet, but it tasted of salt. He was content to just lie on it, feeling as though the down inside would keep the world away, feeling as though hiding his face would make it better. The sun splayed across his bare back and it the heat burned against his skin.
All he wanted was for her to be beside him. Always.
And the Avatar fell to pieces silently.