A/N: Been wanting to write this pair for a while and was inspired by a short story I read a while ago and a good 90s rom-com movie with Julia Roberts (guess which one). Title influenced from "We Used To Be Friends," by the Dandy Worhols. First Avatar fic so hopefully I got the characterizations right. Modern AU story with aged up characters. Please enjoy and leave some reviews :)
"Sokka…Sokka, I just want to say, as your little sister, I've come to tolerate you over the years," Katara pauses as soft laughter trickles throughout the living room and raises her glass higher, "so I'm sure Suki's love for you must be eternal if she's accepted your proposal. I wish the both of you y-years of happiness."
The room erupts into cheers and "woo-hoo's!" as Sokka steps up to embrace his teary-eyed sister into a large bear hug. Toph can hear her choking on laughter and tears and she almost rolls her eyes at the predictability of it all. Sugar Queen. If Toph had a penny for every time Katarra cried, she'd be the Penny Queen. If that was a thing. She finishes her beer and crushes the can in her hand.
Katara had been apparently planning this party for weeks but Sokka had only mentioned it to her the other day when he swung by her work at the gym. It had been her day to guide the rock climbing classes and she was sweaty and breathless and when her thudding heart was finally relaxing, it spiked up again at the mere sound of his laughter being carried across the room.
"Y'know," she had heard him approach, the grin evident in his voice, "I could've sworn you were guiding wrestling today and would've wandered around if I hadn't smelled your stank from the entrance."
Toph had greeted him with a middle finger and a lopsided smirk. "Fuck you very much, Sokka."
He had flicked her nose, flopped onto the seat behind the receptionist desk (the receptionist desk that Haru was supposed to be working but that quick trip to the bathroom had quickly turned into him being simply MIA), and said, "Party tomorrow. You're coming."
Right now, though, like right now, Toph wonders why he never mentioned it being a surprise proposal party for Suki. Maybe because he knew she would snort at the idea and make up some shitty excuse not to come. Toph Bei-Fong and emotions didn't really mix.
"Congrats, Sokka and Suki!" Aang claps Sokka on the back. "I always said that you two had the best energy together. I'm glad the universe brought you together!"
Okay, well, now Toph has to roll her eyes at that. Not just the fact that Aang and his usual philosophical babbles crossed the "he's so Aang its funny" line to the "I just can't" line but mainly because it's a flat out lie. The universe her ass. If it weren't for Toph introducing the pair at work, none of them would even be here.
It's crowded, Toph senses, and she can hear the voices of old friends, acquaintances, and strangers wafting in the air as some poppy Katy-Selena-Gomez-Perry tune pulses softly in the background. The aroma of spicy food tickles her nostrils and she clutches her guide cane just so she can do something with her hands.
"I guess I should probably say something, huh?" Suki's voice fills the living room, and it's airy, light—truly the voice of someone so love-struck that Toph has the sudden urge to just bolt and leave. Suki clears her throat. "If someone had told me I'd be accepting the proposal of some goofball I met a few months ago at the gym's pool when he was reenacting the Titanic scene, I'd probably laugh. For like a really long time. But"—more laughter—"but I've learned that a lot can change in just a short time. I'm…I'm so lucky to have met you, Sokka, and I can't wait to laugh more with you."
Toph tries to leave after that (needs to leave really) but Ty-Lee is blocking the door with her squeals that it sends her to the balcony, where she can at least recuperate and get some much needed fresh air. She's not surprised to find Zuko there already, smoking on a cigarette and most likely looking pensive and forlorn. His usual state.
He chuckles at her presence. "Too much happiness in there?"
But Toph can already feel the tension leaving her shoulders, her grip softening around her guide cane, because right now she needs something calm like Zuko even if he is the equivalent of a sulky cat.
"Too much everything in there."
Zuko takes another puff on his cigarette, and Toph closes her eyes, tries to ignore this strange feeling that's been settling in her stomach, tries focusing on something—hell, the sound of Zuko smoking—that isn't the party behind her.
"Did you ever tell him how you feel?"
Her milky eyes snap open at his question, which is really just that, a basic question, but it feels accusatory somehow and she can't help but spit back with, "Have you ever told Katara how you feel?"
Zuko doesn't say anything after a moment and this little, pitiful victorious moment causes Toph to smile smugly. He may be her friend, a stand-in big brother, but he doesn't know shit about anything.
"This isn't about me."
"It's about you. And right now, with the way you're reacting, I'm assuming you feel pretty shitty."
Her mouth clamps shut because even though she knows he's right, she can't say anything. Zuko's a pent up ball of conflicting emotions so of course he would recognize whatever's going on inside her—even if Toph can't herself. She doesn't want to.
They both remain silent for a while, the sound of the celebration behind them filling the standstill. It's night and Toph can feel the moon's gaze in the sky, the breeze drifting through, and the earth at her feet.
"I'm sorry," she finally says, "I was being an ass."
"You're always an ass, Toph."
She snorts. "Don't be funny, Zuko. It doesn't suite you."
Toph manages to leave after that. Well, after getting a "What? You've been here for like ten minutes!" from Katara, a pot-smelling hug from Aang, which probably would've lasted for ten minutes if she hadn't pried him off, and a goodbye pat from Teo.
"Um, congrats," she says to Sokka and Suki before finishing her goodbye tour, the words sounding stiff on her lips, and it's inevitable, she can't just call deuces, leave and look like a jack-ass, "and stuff. I mean, good luck to both of you."
Suki hugs her, tight but quickly, and she can feel the happiness radiating off her that it makes her somehow even more uncomfortable. "Thanks for coming, Toph. Honestly, thanks for everything. If it wasn't for you"—
"Don't mention it."
"You sure you want to leave already? The party's just started! The night's full of pranks I haven't even thought of yet," Sokka says but she shakes her head, tells them she really just needs to catch the next bus, smell you later, and finally finally leaves.
Katara's apartment is by the beach and she decides to take the path next to it that will head out to the street. The wind is stronger now, the night quiet for a Sunday, and it's just her now. Just Toph.
Six months. They had only been dating for six whole months before he popped The Question. Toph had barely seen Sokka those six months as he was in a full Suki induced phase. That's all she thought it was at the time, a phase, a hormonally, horny induced phase for a girl she couldn't really be even mad at because Suki's actually nice. She was a lifeguard at the pool in the gym for the summer, and she seemed cool—"Cooler than the other pricks that work there at least," she had mentioned to Sokka once—so why not introduce her best friend to a co-worker who was potentially friend-worthy?
Toph tucks a loose strand from her ponytail behind her ear and concentrates on the sounds around, her guide cane leading the way. But, it's all interrupted, like everything else in her life is, by the mere sound of his stupid voice.
She should slow down really, but she never does, and she tries and fails to calm her nerves as he catches up.
"You know," he breathes, clearly exaggerating, which she tries not to grin at, "I'm pretty sure wait up means you should, y'know, slow down. Not speed up."
"Not my fault you don't got my moves, Sokka."
"Pfft," he bumps her shoulder, "whatever."
The two walk together along the path of the beach, talking about whatever—"God, did you see Haru's mustache? It's, like, three strands"—and nothing—"What if cheese was actually made out of the moon?" They reach the street, a few cars whizzing by, but most of the shops are closed, dark.
"Shouldn't you be back at the party by now, getting all Sokka'd up?"
Why are you walking me to the bus stop? I left early for a reason, idiot.
He laughs. "The night is young. I've got puh-lenty of time to get Sokka'd."
She elbows him in the ribs but rolls her eyes anyway.
"Nah, honestly the music in there was about to make my ears bleed. Katara has the worst taste in music."
"Umm, I'm pretty sure I recall a gitty, albeit lame, Sokka requesting the radio station to play One Direction"—
"That was years ago! And it was a joke, God, I wasn't serious, you were there."
"Methinks the lady doth protest too much."
"I thinketh the lady that failed British Literature should be the last person quoting anything here."
Their laughter dies down and even though her feelings and thoughts are tangled since the last few hours, Toph can still weed through his bullshit. She can sense there's something plaguing his mind just by the pitch of his voice.
So all she has to say, all she ever has to say is, "Sokka."
"…I don't know." He gives a small laugh, the kind he gives when he's uncomfortable—doesn't know what to do. "It's weird. I still can't believe she said yes. Like," he pauses, runs his fingers through his hair, "I feel like I'm gonna fuck it up or something. I can never get things right sometimes, and it's just…I wanted to leave before I said or did something stupid."
When Toph first met Sokka years ago, he had bumped into her at the movie theater and had said, "Watch we're you're going!"
Popcorn had tumbled, candy bars had fallen, and soda had spilled around them and she could basically hear the gears working in his brain as he took in the fact that she was, yes, blind, holding onto a guide cane.
"I, uh, shit, I didn't mean that"—
"What? Telling a blind chick to watch where she's going?" she had crossed her arms, enjoying his sputtering and nonsensical apologies.
"Honest, honest mistake. I'm so, so sorry, I can—here! Let me help you at least."
"What, cause I'm blind? Are you saying," she had gasped, placing a hand to her chest, "that I can't help myself?"
"Yes—I mean, no! I mean…I'm just going to stop talking now."
Toph could hear him turn away, the sound of shoes squishing against popcorn and dirty carpet, and it was something about the tone of his voice, his overall stammering and awkwardness that made her blink slowly. Made her see something about him.
It's something she will always see about him.
"You don't fuck things up, Sokka," she says now, her voice full of raw certainty. "You're several things but you're not a fuck up. You're…you're you. You're cocky but funny. You can be an idiot at times but you're kind. You're not like those asshole jocks. You're smart, thoughtful, determined and just…"
Toph could punch herself, really she could, because she's said too much—way too much and she can sense that he's stopped walking. She can sense him staring at her. So she clears her throat. "You don't have a quivering mustache like Haru so that's also a, um, plus."
It's a lame attempt at lightening the mood, an attempt and salvaging the damage that she has just managed to do in an impressive thirty seconds. She feels weirdly exposed so she zips up her hoodie and turns around, clutching her guide cane for dear life and racking her brain for a magical word that can make the last minute not happen. The last minute that made it painfully obvious how she felt about him.
Sokka walks up to her, stands in front, and she makes no movement, as if he were a T-Rex and she could become invisible to his sight.
His voice sounds different. Low.
"I'm going to do something here. I'm going to…just let me."
Being blind has always heightened her other senses but nothing prepares her for the touch of his hands on her skin as he slowly cradles her face. His calloused thumbs lightly trace her cheekbones, the warmth of his breath ghosting her lips, and she is shivering but makes no move to stop him when he kisses her.
A truck passes by, the low sound of its horn wailing, but Toph barely notices. Sokka presses his lips firmer against hers and she responds, lets him parts her mouth with his tongue, kisses him back. It's a gentle crash as he slowly works at her mouth, tilting and angling his head, making her sigh against him. He pulls back finally, forehead pressed to hers, and his hands slide down to tangle into her own.
The silence envelopes them for a moment until he briefly nuzzles his nose with hers, a sharp breath escaping him.
"Toph, I…I'm sorry."
She's left shivering but focuses on the sound of his shoes moving further and further away. It's late, she knows it's late when she reaches the bus stop, and sits down at the bench, not caring or knowing when the next one is coming. She could check her phone but decides not to. The wind is stronger now, the night quiet for a Sunday, and it's just her now. Just Toph.