this is for the pro-bending circuit comp. i wish i never had to write this story as i really don't like AU's with this much of a change. this is what i think would happen if Aang was never found.

my prompts are 6. (emotion) anger, 8. (character) Fire Lord Ozai, 12. (quote) Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light. -Helen Keller

I hope you enjoy and forgive me for my aussie spelling and grammar.

Toph let out a groan as she threw up in the onboard toilet. "Lady Toph. Are you okay?"

"I will be when we arrive."

"Then good news Lady Toph, we have arrived."

Toph opened the door to find the servant standing outside. "Thank you Tao. I'm ready to get off this terrible boat," Toph held out a hand for him to take, "so if you would kindly show me outside, that would be great."

Toph held onto Tao's arm as they disembarked the elegant ship, with the Beifong crest on the side of its hull, to come to stand in front of a man that could be no more than twenty-two. "Chief Sokka, I wish to present to you, Lady Toph Beifong."

"Umm, thank you?"

A moment of awkwardness passed between them before Tao spoke up. "Well, I will allow you two to become re-acquainted with each other. Lady Toph, I hope to see you again one day." Tao bowed to Sokka before heading back to the ship.

Sokka looked at Toph, who was bundled up in various green coats, and rubbed the back of his neck nervously. "It's lunch time, so I will show you to my hut so we can have something to eat." Sokka turned around and began to walk in the direction of his hut, but stopped when he didn't hear footsteps following him. "Are you going to tag along?"

Toph's brows furrowed in anger as she glared at him. "Unless you want me to trip over, or possibly walk into the ocean, I will not 'tag along.'"

Sokka slammed his palm into his forehead in realisation. "Ugh, I am such an idiot. I'm sorry, I forgot that you are blind… given our last encounter at your home. My backside remembers though."

Toph laughed, finally feeling comfortable in his presence. "You deserved it."

Sokka took her hand in his as he led them to the hut away from the rest of the village. "I will admit to nothing. So have you told your parents about who you really are yet?"

"And who am I really?"

"A strong and powerful woman, who just so happens to be an earthbender that can take me in a fight."

Toph smirked at the praise she received, which didn't happen as much as she liked. "No I have not, but seeing as how I will most likely be staying her for majority of my future, I don't see the point anymore."

Sokka opened the door to the rather large hut and pulled out a chair for her to sit on. "I still don't see how our arranged marriage is meant to form an alliance. I would think they would want you to marry a man from the Fire Nation."

"Are you telling me you regret our marriage?"

"Spirits no. Out of everyone the tribe wanted me to marry, you were the best."

"Gee, you really know how to complement a woman."

"I like to think I do." Sokka walked over to a cupboard to find it only containing a small amount of seal-blubber jerky. "Can I interest you in some meat?"

Toph cocked an eyebrow at the suggestion. "Is that all you have? Meat?"

"And sarcasm."

"Great, Sokka, the meat and sarcasm guy."

"That's Chief Sokka to you. My sister should be back with some food soon."

Sokka turned around to see Toph taking off her boots. "What are you doing?! Do you want to get frost bite?"

"My feet don't like being covered up and they need some earth. I thought you told me you were getting stone floors."

Sokka kneeled down and put her shoes back on her feet. "Well, if you put your feet down, all you will find is snow. The stone won't be here for another few days."

Toph let out a groan of frustration. "I need some earth Sokka, even a pebble will do."

"Well I don't have a pebble." Sokka rubbed the fuzz on his face in thought, as he tried to come up with a solution. "I've got it!"

He pulled Toph up from her chair and began running outside with her. "Where are we going?!"

"It's a surprise."

"Okay, take off your boots."

Toph did as she was told and instantly sighed in relief as her feet made contact with earth. She let herself fall backwards into the ground and proceeded to make an earth angel. "Ugh, this is fantastic. And it's warm!"

Sokka sat down next to her and smiled. "Yeah, my sister thinks it's because an earth spirit lives here and doesn't like the cold. I think it is because of magic voodoo. But hey, that's just me."

Toph sat up and lightly punched him in the shoulder. "So how have you been?"

"What do you mean?"

"You know, since you helped take down Ozai after watching your father die on the battlefield?" Toph felt his heart rate lower at the mention of his father and instantly wanted to take it back. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to-"

"No, no. It's fine. I miss him, a lot." Sokka's voice lowered in hurt and anger, "I can't get the image out of my head. The way Ozai stood over my father and burnt him alive. The way my father screamed in agony. I never want to experience that again. But it has been five years since I lost him and I'm feeling better. I will always miss him but I have the memories we shared and no one can take that away from me, not even Ozai."

Toph reached out and took his hand into hers, squeezing it lightly "We never have to worry about him or his maniac of a daughter again. I heard that the new Fire Lord, Zuzu, or was it Zuko? Meh it starts with a Z. Anyway, I heard he took out Ozai and the Dragon of the West took out Azula, and are rebuilding the Earth Kingdom. We finally have peace."

Sokka grinned at the thought of no more wars. He leaned back down and pulled Toph onto his chest, wrapping an arm around her waist. "And you know the best part? My sister was wrong about waiting for the Avatar. We kicked Ozai's butt without him." A moment of silence passed as Sokka trailed a light hand up and down Toph's coat covered arm. "Toph, about our wedding, I meant what I said at the ceremony. Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light. We faced darkness together when we were forced into a relationship and we walked through it together instead of doing it alone. And for that, I am thankful we made it to the other side, together."

Toph leaned up and placed a gentle kiss to his lips. "I love you too Sokka. Lets head back, I'm sure Sweetness is worried about us." Just as they began their trek back to the hut, Toph came to a halt and earthbended a pebble into her hand. "I was serious about the pebble thing."