A/N: I didn't think that I would be starting up another story so soon, especially since I just finished one. But, Jhelle gave me a prompt and I loved the idea so much that I just had to write it!
Disclaimer: I don't own Avatar: The Last Airbender!
Operation: Zutara - Chapter One
"Want to get in trouble with me, Carlos?"
― Simone Elkeles, Rules of Attraction
Beating around the bush was Toph's biggest pet peeve. Whenever she had a problem, she would just approach the situation head on, with no stalling or stammering. The longer one stalled, the longer the problem and situation would just drag on. If there's a problem or a situation, the simplest solution would obviously not be beating around the bush. Goodness, Toph Beifong hated beating around the bush. So, one could only imagine how annoyed she got watching other people do it.
Hence, the problem at hand.
For the past two hours, Toph was subject to watching the very practice of 'beating around bushes' for herself. Worst of all, it was two of her friends and they were absolutely perfect at it. Even worse than that? She was at Aang's job, so she couldn't even cause a scene - and she would if she could - or else she would get him fired.
Zuko said something that Toph could only guess was funny from the way that Katara giggled. Then again, Katara was giggling a lot more, lately. Especially around him. Those two were born to beat around the bush.
Katara touched his arm.
Zuko did that stupid hair flip thing.
Katara blushed and twirled her hair around a finger.
Oh, weren't those two just adorable? Toph came to the teashop to meet up with Katara and study for that big test that she had at the end of the week. Toph wasn't much of a studier, so Katara volunteered to help out. Of course, Zuko just had to show up and distract her. It was almost as if his Katara senses tingled and told him exactly where she would be. Now, not only was Toph going to fail her test, but she was also stuck watching them until Katara was ready to leave because she was her ride home and no matter how annoyed she was, she wasn't trying to take the bus home.
Toph unknowingly sneered and scared off a customer. It was disgusting.
A whistle sounded from behind her. "Careful, T. Keep staring and someone might mistake you for being jealous."
Had she said that out loud? "Oh, shut up, baldy."
"Don't get snappy with me just because I called you out, you little brat."
"I'm not little, I'm-"
"Funsized," they said in unison before he continued. "I know. Everyone knows."
"You're still a brat, though."
Toph spun around in her seat at the counter to glare at her friend. "Hello, Aang."
From behind the counter, he grinned at her. "Hey, T."
Her glare wavered a bit before she rolled her eyes. She couldn't stay mad at him; he was her best friend ever since she was three and he was four, wreaking havoc on everyone and everything that crossed their path. Anyone who didn't know them wouldn't have been able to guess that because all they did was argue, yell, insult, and scream at each other. But, everyone who did know the troublesome duo would also know that all of their little jabs were all yelled, screamed, punched, and eye rolled with the utmost love.
She propped her elbows up on the counter and rested her chin in her palms. "I didn't know that you were working today."
He took a towel from the pocket of his apron and began wiping the counter down, most likely to give off the appearance that he was working. "I didn't know that I had to inform you of every detail in my life." When she smiled a bit, he looked around. "Iroh's been complaining about you. He says that you're a distraction."
Her smile grew into a grin. "That old man loves me." Which was true. No one could deny that no matter how brash she was around him, Iroh would never stop treating her as his kin. Then, she shrugged. "It's not my fault that you've got bad work ethic."
The corners of his mouth quirked up a bit. "Who says that I was talking about me? T., you scared off three customers in thirty minutes. I'd say that's a new record."
"It's not my fault. Really." When Aang gave her a look, she shook her head. "Those two are driving me crazy. I came with Katara to study with Katara, but Katara managed to find Zuko in the midst of all of these customers."
Aang smiled a bit. His friend wasn't usually this dramatic, but he understood. Today was a busy day. It was a bit strange how Katara managed to spy Zuko out from all of these people.
"Now," Toph continued frantically. "I'm going to fail my test and be stuck here until they finish beating around the bush because those two are punks and Katara is my ride home. I mean, how hard is it to tell someone that you like them? Especially when the person that you like likes you back just as equally or even more. If I was Katara, I would have already taken care of that. Zuko's hot."
Aang felt a pang of jealousy. Toph was his best friend, but who wouldn't be jealous hearing about how hot someone else was? "You call him 'princess'."
"So, he's a little pretty," she said with a shrug and Aang chuckled. "I'm telling you. They need to get it over with."
Aang peaked behind her and saw Katara and Zuko sitting at a table, huddled close. Katara did that giggle thing and Zuko seemed to turn a bit redder than he already was.
Aang was impressed. He was already pretty red. "It's not always that easy. Not everyone is as reckless as Toph Beifong. Besides, don't girls usually find that kind of thing cute?"
Toph gave him a look.
Aang quickly nodded. Right. Toph wasn't like the stereotypical girl that the media tried to market and she always made sure that he knew it. He was just lucky that he caught himself or else he would have gotten a speech. "Well, it's not like you can do anything about it. What are you going to do? Play cupid?"
Toph's eyebrow jumped.
Aang noticed. He sighed and shook his head a bit desperately. "Toph, please."
She ignored him. Playing cupid? That was probably the best idea Aang had ever come up with. Matchmaking wasn't usually her thing, but this would be a piece of cake. It wouldn't be much work because those two were already matched up. All she had to do was give them a little push and provide opportunities for them to finally confess and stop beating around the bush. "Like cupid."
Aang caught that as well. "T.," he said cautiously.
She gave him 'that look'. 'That look' that told him that there was going to be an adventure and he was going to be a part of it. Whether he wanted to or not. "By definition, a friend is someone who acts as a supporter of a cause, organization, or country by giving financial or other help. I am an active supporter of this cause and I will give help."
There she went - just quoting dictionaries all willy nilly, again. He had to stop her. "Toph, seriously. Zuko's twenty four and Katara's twenty two. We shouldn't be in their business."
"Aang, Zuko is twenty four and Katara is twenty two, and they still can't get their act together. We have every right to be in their business and play cupid."
"You can't keep taking my words and using them against me."
"What else are best friends for?"
Aang glared at her. At nineteen years old, Toph never lost that spark of mischief that she always had when they were younger. In all honesty, Aang thought that she would never lose it and that she would just be trouble for her future husband. "You know, you're more trouble than you're worth?"
She grinned. That was what he always said before he caved in. "I'm a girl. That's my job."
And that was always her response. Aang felt his own grin growing. As much as he tried to chastise Toph for her reckless ways, he had to admit that she knew how to have fun. Plus, those two were beginning to get on his nerves, as well. "Maybe you won't be such a troublesome wife."
She snorted. "We both know that's a lie."
At least she knew it. He checked his watch. Clock out time was nearing. "I'll drop you home. It doesn't look like those two will be done anytime soon."
"And you'll help me study."
"Then, 'Operation: Zutara' is a go."
He sighed. Goodness, she really was trouble; she had already come up with a couple name and everything. But, she was his best friend. If he wasn't going to be her partner in crime, who else would take his spot? And live? "Then, 'Operation: Zutara' is a go."
A/N: "You're more trouble than you're worth."
"I'm a girl. It's my job."
- Tamora Pierce, Street Magic