They'd been at the bar for several hours now. Katara and Aang had left a while back to return to their home on Air Temple Island. Zuko and Mai, who had been visiting Republic city, declined the offer to go out for drinks after dinner. That left Toph with a pretty drunk (and getting steadily drunker) Sokka. The timing couldn't have been more perfect for this spontaneous get together. A few days prior her parents had arrived in the city after several letters had been passed between them and their daughter. Things seemed to be getting better and Toph felt it was time for them to meet their one year old granddaughter. They even offered to watch her for the evening so Toph could spend time with her friends away from work and without worry.
Now that everyone had gone though, the earth bender felt a bit nervous. Her feelings for Sokka over the years were turbulent, to say the least. She loved him, she hated him. And to be honest, it was always more love than hate. The one thing that helped was his relationship with Suki. That was the line. A line she would not cross. It gave her a reason to stay distant. It was her reminder that no matter how she felt, he would never be hers. However, that line had been erased. Suki and Sokka had ended their relationship, albeit amicably, but Toph couldn't help but notice that the non bender seemed somewhat depressed since the split. The break up was also putting foolish notions into her head that she might actually have a chance. Now that was a laugh.
"Toph, how many fingers do I have?" Sokka slumped over the bar and Toph winced when she heard his head meet the wood.
"Okay, Snoozles, I think you've had enough. Time to get you home." Toph poked at him until he started giggling, telling her to stop the tickling. "Are you okay to walk?" Sokka shook his head yes. "Did you nod, Meathead?" A deep pitched laughter erupted in front of her and she took that as a yes.
Once the bill was paid ("Just put it on this idiot's tab will ya? I'll make sure he pays tomorrow), Toph led a stumbling Sokka out of the bar. They made the trip without too many incidents. Toph stubbed a toe when trying to keep Sokka upright. Sokka only nearly released the contents of his stomach once (Toph just about threw up herself when he laughed and said he swallowed it).
Finally, and the metal bender really did feel like it took a lot longer than the actual ten minutes, they made it to Sokka's door.
"Meathead?" Nothing. "Snoozles?" Still nothing. "SOKKA!"
"You're home, here's your key back, I unlocked it for you." Then more slowly to make sure the wasted man understood, "Go inside, lock your door and go to bed. You're gonna feel like shit in the morning."
"Come in with me." Toph froze. Did he just? No, it was her imagination. She turned to start heading toward her own home but was brought back by a warm strong arm. "Don't leave me, Toph. Stay with me. Tonight." Her blood ran cold and then extremely hot. How long had she wanted to be near this man?
"I can't. I have to get home, kid and all. You'll be okay, right?" Toph could barely hear his uneven breaths over the sound of the blood rushing in her ears. She did notice that his speech was not as slurred as it was earlier.
"Toph, I love you." Her heart stopped. Happiness filled her instantly and she nearly jumped into his arms with the words 'take me' on her lips but then, "I've always loved you and I was just too stupid to see it. Come in. Let me show you
" Every word brought his face closer to hers and as his last sentence trailed off he brought their lips together.
Booze. That's what she tasted. The scent of alcohol surrounding him. Surrounding her. It didn't matter if he sounded sober, he wasn't. She pushed him through his own door, said no, she wouldn't not be joining him, slammed the door shut and practically ran away. The threat of tears in her eyes and only one wish upon her lips.
"Please, please, tell me that again when you are sober."