A/N: Wow, this is long. I didn't mean it to be like that. I just kept writing I guess. I wanted to write a one-shot on Toph and Aang. I wanted to devolop their relationship. Please tell me if I succeeded in doing that.

This is my first fic, so please give me advice as well! :)

Fandom: Avatar the last airbender. Pairing: Toph/Aang. Also has slight Zuko/ Katara and Aang/KataraWords:3,570 Disclaimer: Does anyone even read these things? No, I don't own Avatar you sillies.

The Bei Fong mansion was quiet after he, the Avatar, left. The maids walked around and did their duties as usual. But they all avoided going to the young heiress's room. No one wanted to be faced with the challenge of consoling a stubborn twelve-year old girl. Lady Bei Fong, however, decided that maybe she should face the emotion head on. This was her daughter after all.

However Toph wasn't crying in her room. She was just sitting there. Obedient and safe. (and sad and aloneandaloneandalone)

"We only did this because we love you.." She says. "We are only keeping you safe, Toph" Lady Bei Fong didn't actually see her daughter when she said her name. She only saw the pale, fragile little baby that Toph used to be. She only saw a mere shadow of what the blind bandit truly was. Toph tries not to snort. 'Because we love you' was their reason for everything. Yes, she loved them too. She was unhappy, but she loved them.

(Of course it all depended on how you worded it. You could also say she loved them, but she was unhappy. This was the real problem. )

"Try to understand baby," Toph grit her teeth. She hated when her mother called her 'baby'. "Your father and I only want the best for you. Besides," she continues lightly, "Where else could you possibly belong?" They question hovers in the air . Toph isn't sure what to say to that.

It doesn't matter that she didn't have a response though, she told herself. Because an hour later Toph Bei Fong left the place that confined her. Her bare feet touched the ground, and the air was fresh and open. It was strange how of all places, a sky bison's back felt more like home then any other place she had been. Or maybe home was just wherever they were, where he was. The Avatar and his friends.

She hopes she can laugh like he does soon. Cheerful and free.

Four years later.

She's older now, and she has forgotten all about that conversation. Toph only remembers leaving and never looking back. So now the war is over, it's been over. And she is happy, and her friends are happy. That's all that matters. So far she has compromised with Katara, learned to metalbend, befriended Zuko and Iroh, taught Aang earth bending, crushed on Sokka, gotten over her crush on Sokka, learned to like Suki, helped end a war, listened to her parents once or twice, opened an earthbending school, and is now known all over the world.

And even while doing all this, Toph has managed to catch little details.

She has noticed how the new Fire Lord's heart beats a little faster when Katara is near. She has noticed how Katara visits him more often then she is with Aang, who is her actual lover. She has noticed how neither of them can look their airbending friend in the eye anymore. She knows what's going on. And she knows they will never do so much as touch eachother as long as Aang is with Katara.

Partly because it would make them guilty, partly because he is a close friend. And partly because Katara might just love Aang too. Maybe it's not true love, but it's something. Toph's guess is that it has something to do with how he makes her laugh, and makes her little gifts, and how he isn't a kid anymore. He is her hope.

No, it's not true love. Yes, it is something.

Aang knows more then he's given credit for. Even when he's half-asleep or dead tired, he can see clearly.

Katara. And Zuko.

He doesn't want to let her go. Aang has always been selfish. But he doesn't want her to stay either .

There is a wise, unselfish part of him that doesn't think of Katara as a lover, but as a close friend. This part of him knows that if she was in this situation, she would do the same for him.

So he lets her go. It's not that simple, and it's not that easy, but it had to be done.

Also, the not-so-wise, selfish part of him hopes that she'll pick him if he does something so selfless.

She doesn't pick him.

Katara and Zuko kiss at their wedding as the crowd claps. Sokka is concentrating on not crying. Suki is giggling at his attempt on not crying. No one notices the dejected airbender hunched over in his seat, mentally burning all memories of cool hands, sweet smiles, blue eyes, and a safe harbor.

****************
Toph notices.

She was always the first one to notice him. Even when she was twelve ( He's swimming with barely any clothes on ! What if someone sees his tatoos? We're leaving already? Don't they realize they're forgetting something? Where's Aang?Wow this sure is a huge crowd...but I could sense his little foot steps anywhere!)

She isn't sure how she noticed now, in the middle of a huge celebration. Whenever someone speaks to him he replies easily, and it sounds like he's smiling.

"Of course he'd smile," She thinks to herself. "He always smiles. Even when his heart is breaking."

She sat down next to him, carefully. She isn't usually the type to comfort people like this. No that was Katara and Iroh's job.

But Twinkletoes was sad and she hated when he was sad or angry. She remembered how it wouldn't bother her if Katara made fun of her blindness or if Sokka got a little annoyed with her. But when he yelled at her it would always make her sad. Sad enough to leave her friends once.

"You okay?" She asks hesitantly. He looks up like he's surprised she's talking to him. " I'm fine," Aang answers slowly. They sit there awkwardly for a few minutes until she has an idea.

"Twinkletoes..." she starts slyly

"Have you ever gotten drunk?"

When Toph had dragged him to a bar, she had expected him to cry after getting drunk or something. He was such a wuss. It would be just like him to do that.

What she hadn't expected was him attempting to strip in front of everyone.

"What's wrrrooooooooonnnnggg Toph?" He slurred as she took him outside, his drink spiling out of the bottle as he swayed.

"Are you sure you didn't take me outside, because you didn't wanna face the truth. That you'd like to see me NAKED?"

She knocked him out.

She takes him to the small apartment she's been staying in. In the morning, when he wakes up, she wonders if he's still drunk. Because he asks another beyond stupid question.

"Would you like to go flying on my glider?"

She waits to see if he's kidding. He's not.

"Twinkletoes, if I have trouble flying on Appa, what makes you think I'd enjoy flying on your glider?"

"Well, I had this dream, where you could fly, and you liked it. You sang about it. We were in a musical."

Toph rolled her eyes. His dreams were always so weird. They didn't surprise her anymore. She remembered when he had a nightmare about her having to pee in the middle of the invasion on the Day of Black Sun. She did not have a tiny bladder! Tiny bladders were a sign of weakness!

"Well, I do not want to fly on your glider. You shouldn't be wasting your time with this kind of stuff anyway. You have a job to do. And besides," she whispered the rest, "Flying scares me."

He seemed to realize that she didn't want to discuss this anymore. Maybe he wasn't still drunk after all.

"So...thanks for last night..." He tells her quietly. "It really took my mind off of..."

He doesn't have to say her name. They know who he's thinking about. (whohe'salwaysalwaysalwaysalwaysthinkingaboutshebrokehishearthelovedhershebrokehim)

They burn the necklace that he was making for her. Toph hopes that it will bring him some kind of release. It was hard for him to do it at first but he feels like he has to let go.

Aang slowly burns the proposal necklace he worked so fucking hard on. He releases the ashes into the sea and feels like he's drowning with them.

But he ends up being okay after all. He feels lighter and she keeps him whole, keeps him grounded.

Three weeks pass by while Twinktoes takes a break from Avataring.

He talks to Katara easily now. He feels light and happy. He can also talk normally to Toph and Sokka and Suki and Zuko and Iroh and everyone else.

He's feeling better. He's healed.

Aang still has a job to do. A job he should be doing alone, because if one of his friends's was in danger, and so were a group of children in a burning building , he'd have to choose the children.

However, Avatar Aang is not wise enough, not kind enough, to actually do so. A companion would just distract him while he was doing somethng important.

But he thinks it's okay to ask Toph to travel with him, because she's always pushing him to do his duty first anyway. When she agrees something inside him flutters, and he realizes he doesn't need a safe harbor. He just needs a good friend .

Or maybe he just needs her.

After sorting out a rebellion in the south, they decide to take a break. Appa lands in a meadow and Aang and Toph jump off. They lay down on the ground (because tough earthbenders like themselves don't need pillows and blankets)

Toph bites into a roll, and asks him if he wants one. He accepts the roll and is about to lay back down when he realizes that with her white skin, small features, and rare eyes, Toph is kind of pretty.

They visit Ember island for a while, and they decide to see Love Amongst the Dragons. She's bored at first until she hears him snicker.

"What is it?" she asks, and a smile is playing on her lips too.

He snickers again and whispers, "Just listen to them! My heart burns for you? What kind of line is that?"

She starts to chuckle too and soon they're both enjoying themselves.

It was nice for both of them, to relax. Because he wasn't scared of her and he wouldn't be over-protective. Because she only saw him, and didn't treat him like a god or like her very last hope. No pressure here.

Because they were Toph and Aang when they were with eacother. sifutophandtwinkletoes

After leaving the play they come across a man selling birds. Aang buys every single one of them. When she asks him why, he looks down, embarrassed.

"You're gonna think this is stupid, but I just bought them to set them free."

Well that wasn't stupid at all.

"You should've just let me pay then!" She says, giddy at the idea of letting them go. She hates seeing anything or anyone locked up.

They take turns letting each of the birds go. They have fun.

They are free together.

She gets a letter, calling her home for a while. She tells him she's leaving for a while. Neither of them think this is a big deal. They've had so much fun together lately. They're sure they can survive a month without seeing eachother.

Toph Bei Fong arrives back at Gaoling. The minute she enters the house she already feels claustrophobic. Where'd the fresh, open air she loved so much go? Lao greets his daughter quickly. He's such an uptight, nervous man. She can't help but feel distant and awkward, whenever she speaks to him. Poppy gives her daughter a warm hug. (asuffocatinghugsheissuffocating)

She pulls on her silky, long dress. It feels odd against her skin. She wishes she were in her training clothes again She misses the nomadic lifestyle she was leading before. She misses her earthbending school. She misses Twinkletoes.

The house is so strange and quiet. The chair she is sitting on is too soft. Her parents refuse to let her do anything by herself. Lao is so distant but he seems to watch her every move, as paranoid as ever. He yells at maid for making the soup too hot. He says that she might burn her tongue. And never speak again.

Now that wouldn't be so bad...Twinkles's voice teases her in her head. Something inside her aches.

She wonders if it's her soul.

Aang rents a hotel room. He lays in bed trying to think about what he should be doing. About what he's going to say tommorrow at the peace summit. He doesn't know.

The room is dark and so is he. He wonders what his sifu is doing right now. Is she happy? Is she laughing? Aang has an idea, all of a sudden. He will write a letter.

He was in the middle of a sentence saying how much he missed her and hoped she would come back soon when he remembers that she can't read it herself. He's not sure if he wants to let her parents read it for her. Aang was on good terms with them now, but he could help but feel uncomfortable when talking to them.

He sighs in frustration and flops back on the bed. His lemur crawls up onto his shoulder.

"It's okay Momo," he murmurs tiredly.

"I miss her too."

He can't take it anymore;he goes to visit her.

The second she senses his little footsteps outside her house she runs out, kicks off her silly high-heels, and promptly jumps up to hug him.

He's surprised at her ready show of emotion. She's surprised too. But they're too busy being happy to aknowledge that they're surprised.

Toph and Aang jumped up in down in a circle like little kids, delighted and unthinking.

"You know something Twinkles," She says smirking. " I think I actually might have missed you."

Later that day when they're back at a rented hotel room and he's asleep across the hall, she silently laughs at herself. She thinks she might have actually missed him? He had been all she thought about.

They go to a masquearade festival around the northern Earth Kingdom. He dresses up as Appa. She puts on a mask of Avatar Kyoshi.

Suddenly, Aang doesn't think Kyoshi is all that bad anymore.

They dance till it's almost dawn at that festival. They're just having so much fun. He buys a flute at a stand and she asks him to play for her.

The notes were so beautiful, for a second she thought could actually picture colors.

A few more weeks pass. Weeks of sunny days, and making fun of water tribe food, and earth bending, and just being.

But of course, he is the Avatar. They can't just be for too long.

They were in a quaint little village, it seemed peaceful enough.

No one would suspect that Fire nation bandits would have been hiding out in the vilage, just waiting for nightfall.

Of course, the war had ended four years ago. But not everyone liked that idea. A century of propaganda won't erase itself.

So they were asleep, and they were peaceful. And then they realized the village was burning. Arson.

Everything is a mad rush after that. Toph has taken out who knows how many bandits. Greasy, slimy, assholes.

Aang is still trying to evacuate the children and the eldeerly first. It all comes back to him then. The children, the burning building, and the companion he wanted to save but couldn't.

Because his duty was to the world first.

There she was, in the middle of hell, a circle of fire. Trying to breathe and protect the villagers from these filthy criminals at the same time. She wouldn't make it. He wanted to save her.

But he thinks about how she always wants him to face things head on. How it was his duty to save others first. Better his loss then theirs.

In that moment, Avatar Aang decided to grow up. His best friend was in that burning building, but the people he should be helping were those children. Not the girl he loved.

Loved.

Do I love her?

...No time to think about it now...

"You're going to be okay!"He yells back at her as he tries to bring everyone else to safety.

you're going to be okay...

He couldn't have told her a filthier lie.

The image of her fighting for her life is the driving force that keeps him going. She's fighting as hard as she can, but it still doesn't seem to be enough.

When this is over and she's okay,I'm gonna make sure she has the time of her life. He refuses to think if she's okay.

The fire slowly subsides and it's soon safe to enter the village again.. Toph is the first person he looks for.

Not here, not here, not here...there she is!

She is still there. Bruised, burned, and grinning. "I won the fight," she tells him.

He wouldn't care even she had lost, as long as she was alive.

They visit the Fiire Naiton for a while. Katara chides Toph about not being more careful while fighting. " You really shouldn't be so reckless," she mutters. But she's really just glad her best friend his safe. Sokka wants every detail of the fight. Toph describes in detail how she totally kicked their asses to him, and he listens intently, cheering and ruffling her hair at the right parts. Zuko hugs her, glad she'll be okay soon. Suki is there too, and her and Toph find themselves discussing battle strategies and weaponry and how Sokka is a goof. They have a lot in common, they realize. Maybe it's the whole "Tough Earth Kingdom girls" thing.

But, when her burns are healed, she asks him an unexpected question.

"Will you take me flying on your glider?"

He waits to see if she's kidding. She's not.

"Toph you don't even like flying on Appa. Why would you fly with me on my glider?"

She shrugs. "I trust you Twinkles. I'm not afraid anymore."

And so he takes her up into the sky, and a question from years ago comes back to her.

Where else could you possibly belong?

She finally has an answer.

fin.

A/N: I'm actually pretty satisfied with this piece. Still, I'd like to hear what I can improve.I'm also glad I didn't kill Toph. I was going too, but I wanted to make a happy angst can come later. Hope you liked it! :)