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A/N: I know there's been a bit of a heavy emphasis on the female characters earlier on here, and this chapter continues that - honestly, this is partially because the girls have a bit more external drama but also because the plot just needs me to focus on them first.

What I Learned at SRU
Chapter 10 - Simple


[Boomerang Blog: Back At Ya!]

[About That...]
[Posted on September 7th at 11:46pm]
[by Noble Sir Kesuk Esquire]

[So ya know how my ex-girlfriend has been hanging out with us? Yea. About that...It's starting to get kinda weird. There's definitely something still there, ya know? Not surprising, really. The only reason we broke up Freshman year was because she transferred. My friends keep picking on me about it. I just don't know what to do. Every time those feelings start coming up I can't stop thinking about Yue. Like I'd be betraying her or something...Does that even make sense?]

[I need to think about all of this.]

[Blargh.]


- Wednesday, September 8th, 2010 -

"So, uh..." Jane scratched her ear, fidgeting in her chair. "Yea." She glanced across the table to Sokka, who was filling his face with a bacon cheeseburger. "How...How ya doin'?"

"Mmfffnnn," Sokka calmly replied through his food. Was that 'I'm fine,' or...?

Jane sighed and tucked her hands between her legs, squirming in her seat. She desperately hoped the others would come back soon. This was super awkward. Katara's tray sat beside her, its owner having gone back to retrieve a drink. Toph was being aided by her boyfriend, and Sokka was practically halfway done at this rate. Geez. The guy was an animal when it came to food.

Jane's mind reeled through memories as she sought a topic of discussion. She recalled visiting his room a while back and seeing a bunch of tribal decor - tiki masks, a staff...

"Er...Yea, so, all that stuff in your room," she fumbled around, searching for conversation. "Where'd you get all that from?"

"Heh." Sokka smiled in reminiscence as his yes glazed over with nostalgia. "My dad used to travel a lot. All over the place." He took a bit of his coleslaw.

"Oh." Jane felt like there should've been more elaboration there, so she decided to pursue the topic for the sake of stalling more time. "Uh, so...What kinds of places?"

Sokka swallowed, his eyes rolling upward as he counted his fingers.

"Well, lessee...Madagascar, South Africa, Kenya, China, Mexico..." He paused, his expression twitching with melancholy. "Australia," he finished, somewhat solemnly.

"That's...kinda cool," Jane decided. She was trying to work on this 'complimenting' thing Katara had suggested she try working on.

"Woooow," Katara jeered, sitting down next to Jane, glass of apple juice in hand. "Jane is saying nice things to you, Sokka. You should feel honored." She shoved Jane playfully on the shoulder.

"Yeeeaaa, I figured I oughtta work on that 'being polite' crap," Jane confessed with a sheepish shrug, mocking herself.

"Don't hurt yourself there, Ginger," Sokka chuckled. He quickly demolished the rest of his burger. "You might lose some of your street cred or something."

Jane fidgeted in her seat, a bit off-out by the seemingly random nickname she'd just been assigned - not to mention the uncomfortable reminder of the very group she was avoiding at the moment. Fate was having a comedic sense of timing this afternoon, though.

"Smellerbee!"
"Miss Smellerbee!"

J ane whirled her head around to see two Freshmen staring at her, wide-eyed. She recognized them immediately as the two new recruits she had recently pulled into the organization days before. They were almost laughable to look at together: the larger on was gigantic and brutish, with dark brown skin, brisly black hair, and a basketball jersey, the smaller one a short blond boy with blue eyes and a formal dress shirt and tie.

"See, man?" muttered the larger one, nudging his short friend. "Told ya it was her..."

"Wh...-?" Jane managed. They both dramatically saluted to her before she could say more, and announced their code names.

"Pipsqueak!"
"The Duke!"

"Reporting for duty, Miss Smellerbee!" they said in unison. Thankfully, they were intelligent enough to keep their tones to normal speaking levels given the fact that they were tucked in a corner of a crowded cafeteria during lunchtime.

Jane whirled her head back around, eyes flustered, freckled cheeks flushed. Sokka and Katara gave her the same puzzled glance like two siblings, indeed - nearly like twins.

"Uhhh..." Jane scrambled out of her seat. "I'll be...back in a sec," she declared, nodding her head for the two boys to follow her. She led them against the giant windowpane that opened up across the rear of the cafeteria, forming the front of the ACC's second floor. "What are you guys doing?" she whispered to them.

"Oh, well, Miss Smellerbee," the blond boy explained in his confident and proper tone, "We simply saw you across the way and saw fit to-"

"Could ya drop the 'Miss?'" Smellerbee demanded with a low voice, slapping herself on the forehead. "Guys, ya can't just go around being all open about our organization like this...You need to keep it on the DL, all right?"

"Oh..."
"Ohhhhh."

"Whaddya want, anyway?" she asked irritably.

"W-we just wanted...to say hi," Pipsqueak mumbled, his enormous thumbs twiddling.

"Yes, just a simple greeting," The Duke agreed.

Smellerbee sighed at their pathetic pleading faces and shrugged, running her hand from her head up over her hair.

"Well...Hi," she said simply. "I'm kinda busy at the moment."

"Who are those guys?" wondered Pipsqueak.

"A re they other members?" inquired The Duke.

"No-no," Smellerbee quickly dismissed the theory. "They're just...-" She paused, contemplating the word that immediately came to mind as she saw Toph and her boyfriend sit down. The word seemed accurate enough, at least concerning the females at the table. "-...my friends. And I've got a class coming up," she began, heading back to her table, "So I really oughtta eat. But, uh..." She wiggled her hand around hurriedly as she reached her chair, the two young men on her tail. "I'll see you guys Friday night, eh?"

"Yes, Sir!"
"Yes, Ma'am!"
"...I mean, Ma'am!"

Off they scurried away, and Smellerbee groaned as she flopped into her chair.

"Who were they?" Katara asked sharply as Toph had her hands guided to the objects before her.

"O-oh, they're...They're the-"

"Fresh meat?" Katara snipped with that polite but demeaning way she occasionally would. Jane had quickly grown to recognize it - that tone Katara used when she was disappointed with you. She was quoting the very words that had been used to describe the two very souls in question a while back at the meeting Katara had happened to witness.

"Members of your little club, huh?" Sokka guessed, his tone also put-off.

"You could say that," Jane grumbled defensively, staring down at her plate with a bit of a frown.

"So, what year are you, again?" Aang asked, cutting through the tension that had surfaced.

"Junior," Jane replied, already liking this 'Aang' kid and his seeming knack for avoiding tension. "Biology Major."

"What do you wanna do with that?" Aang continued his questioning, taking a sip of his fruit punch.

Jane shrugged, her head sunken into her shoulders as she hunched over her meal. At last, she chewed on a spoonful of mac and cheese.

"I wanna be in the military," she explained.

"Yea," Toph cheered. "She's gonna kick all kinds of ass."

"Wow," Aang murmured. He ate some of his lima beans and stared at her for a moment. "Why do you wanna do that?"

This guy's just full of questions, huh? Better than putting me down, I guess...

"Er, I...I just want to be put to good use..." Now that she was thinking about it, it was hard to explain why she had made this decision. "I want to fight for my country?" She was aware she came off as uncertain. "I dunno...It just gives me something to work at."

"I thought it was just for the ass-kicking," Toph mumbled, somewhat disappointed, it seemed.

"That's part of it. Totally," Jane insisted.

"So you're in training, then?" Sokka theorized.

"Yea." Jane nodded, passing it off like no big deal. "Keeps me in shape." Sokka nodded back at her, and she could tell from his expression that she had just earned some respect points.

"K at told me that you're...what? History?"

"Yep. And before ya ask: no, I have no idea what to do with it, either," Sokka jumped the gun. He glanced to his sister as she slurped on some alfredo pasta. "Katara thinks I should try and get into teaching or something, like she is. Ha. Like I have the patience for that." He grinned and shook his head.

"I still can't believe you're going to teach people, Kat," Jane mused. "I feel like you're a little too short tempered for that kinda thing."

"What? I-I'm not that short tempered," Katara defended herself, getting a bit more flustered than Jane had intended to make her.

"Ya kinda are," Sokka confessed.

"I am when you're twenty-two and you act like you're twelve," Katara picked. "But if I'm dealing with teenagers, I think I can manage."

"Why do I feel like they'd be worse than twelve year-olds?" Aang pondered. Jane had quickly noticed the cute hint of a lisp Aang's voice carried that Toph had specifically pointed out to her. She could see how Toph found it so be so endearing.

"Good luck, Katara," Toph wished with a chuckle. "Either way, you're screwed."

"Gee, thanks." Smiling, Katara rolled her eyes as she twisted her pasta around her fork.

"You're an art major, right, Aang?" Jane checked.

"Sure am."

"Soooo, what kind of art?"

"I draw a lot. I don't really paint much, though. But I'll take my drawings and then add stuff to 'em on a computer."

"Mixed media sorta stuff," Toph clarified.

"He's got this thing for mashing animals together," Sokka added.

"Wha?" Jane was confused.

Aang's eyes curved upward and he sighed with an almost embarrassed shrug.

"I like combining animals into new ones. Liiiike a Playtpus-Bear. Or a Boar-Q-Pine."

Jane raised an amused eyebrow, her chin in her hand, elbow on the table. "That sounds like it'd either be super wicked or butt fugly."

"It is," Sokka commented. "Both." Aang shot him a jovial glare and the two smirked at each other.

"I-am-a-muse-ick-may-jore!" Toph blurted with an almost robotic excitement.

"Uhhh, yea," Jane chortled, bobbing her head up and down. "I already knew that."

"What instruments do I play, then?" Toph quaintly demanded before munching into a baby carrot.

"Er..." Jane scrounged about her memory banks but couldn't come up with a confident answer. She must have never specifically discussed it, but she knew Toph played piano since there was a keyboard tucked in their room below Toph's bed. "Piano?"

"Uh-huh," Toph conceded, but obviously expecting more.

"Um..." Jane shook her head and shrugged. "I dunno. You play more?"

"Hells yea, I play more," Toph bragged, thumbing herself in the sternum. "I dabble in a bunch of stuff. But my heart belongs to the guitar."

"You play guitar?" Jane was a bit baffled. She had no idea - she had just assumed that Toph was a stereotypical case of Asian Pianist Master.

"You didn't know?" Katara seemed just as surprised. "Don't you play guitar?"

Jane shook her head and crossed her arms. Katara must have seen her instrument in her room at some point and assumed it was a guitar.

"Uhhh no," she clarified. "I play bass, which is way cooler."

"What?" Toph snapped, appalled by the notion. "How the hell is bass cooler?"

"Bass is the backbone," Jane noted to the group with a raised index.

"Guitar is the freakin' soul," Toph countered.

"What are drums, then?" Sokka interjected their disagreement.

"The heart," said Jane.
"The stomach," said Toph. There was a moment of befuddled silence before Toph, keenly aware that all eyes were on her, explained, "'Cuz it...digests the notes." It made about as much sense as expected.

"'Cuz...-" Sokka slowly began, picking up where he left off. "Suki plays drums."

"Really?" Katara spat out, astonished. Clearly this must not have been expected. "Since when?"

"Since she transferred," Sokka elaborated, just as bemused as his sister. "She used to play drums in high school, apparently, but kinda dropped it when she came to SRU. She was just tellin' me that she's been picking it back up again this summer."

"Hey-hey-hey," Toph cried, flailing her hands about. "You guys are stealin' my thunder here! I'm the music person." Aang rubbed her on the arm and patronized her as she crunched bitterly on another carrot.

"Yes you are."

Toph stuck her tongue out in reply and slapped him on the back appreciatively. Her expression suddenly went stark.

"Frick, what time is it?" she wondered.

"About 12:55," Katara informed per a glance at her phone.

"I gotta go soon, Twinkle-Toes," Toph informed.

"I know," Aang acknowledged. "I'll finish up quick." Aang proceeded to dive into his salad like a swimming pool.

"Come to think of it, where is this Suki chick?" Jane wondered.

"She has to eat lunch later today," Sokka explained. "You can probably meet her soon, though. She's been hanging out with us a lot lately, too."

"We're being over taken by girls," Aang wailed.

"What are you complaining about?" Sokka laughed. "Have I taught you nothing?" He raised his fist and grimaced. "In mixed company, there should always be a higher ratio of girls than guys."

"Here we go," Katara sighed. She glanced at Jane as she rose from her chair. "C'mon, let's change the ratio up, huh?"

"Oh, uh..." Jane peered at her barely touched plate. "Sure." She scooped up her tray. She could care less, anyway. Wasn't like she had put much on her plate. She grabbed her coffee mug and guzzled down her barely warm drink.

"Oh," Katara spurted suddenly. "You hardly ate anything," she observed.

"Ehhh, not hungry, I guess," Jane dismissed, slapping her empty mug onto the tray.

"Wait, you guys are leavin' me here?" Sokka accused, his tray more clean than any of the rest.

"Places to be, Meat Head," Toph excused as she wound her arm across Aang's.

"Fine." Sokka trimphently began his march back to the food counters. "I'll just get seconds to keep me company."

"See ya later, Sokka," Aang called, stacking Toph's plate and silverware onto his own and compacting his tray over hers. He grabbed the dirty dishes in both hands and carefully weaved his way over to follow Katara and Jane to the dish-washing belt.

"So are we gonna do anything tonight?" Aang asked Katara.

"Ummm..." Katara's eyes rolled around as she considered the question. "Shhhhure?" was her slow, uncertain reply. "Let's meet in the AAC at 8. Sound good?"

Aang nodded and Toph gave a reciprocative, "Sounds good."

"Cool. Have a good one." Aang waved them off, leading Toph down the staircase to the main lobby.

"Peace." Toph wiggled her hand above her shoulder.

Katara grabbed a Kiwi from the fruit section on her way out, and Jane trailed along behind her.

"Ya know, you're invited to come, too," Katara advised. Jane's head fell into her shoulders and she nodded.

"Yea. We'll see," she mumbled.

"You could bring your boyfriend if you want," Katara followed up.

"'Kay." Jane shrugged as she recalled her responsibilities for the evening. "I dunno, though - we've got work to take care of tonight. Wednesdays are always busy for us."

"Ah." Katara nodded, and Jane could detect a tinge of disapproval. "Well, whatever happens...Offer's open," she insisted, regaining her composure.

Jane meekly nodded, her mind whirling from what had just happened - she couldn't remember the last time she had eaten a meal in the cafeteria with a group like that. They seemed nice enough - aside from the whole 'Freedom Fighters' thing she couldn't detect a hint of hostility. And that wasn't personal, anyway. Of course, they didn't know what Katara did...

"See?" Katara squeezed her shoulder and flashed a smile. "Now, that wasn't so bad, was it?" She retrieved her backpack from under the stairs amongst the small field of bags.

Jane shook her head, hands dug deep into her cargo pants still baffled by the simplicity of it all.

"I've got a class to get to, but I'll see you tonight."

"'Kay. Later."

Katara headed off on her way out of the ACC, and Jane retrieved her math textbook from the floor beside where Katara's pack had been resting. She threw herself onto one of the couches in a corner of the lobby and cracked open her book to refresh herself on the concepts from the class prior.

That was all right, I guess. Now I kinda know how Kat's been feeling, bouncing between two worlds like this. Not that I have a choice like she did. It's like they all just...say what's on their mind. Like it's so simple.


- Thursday, September 9th -

"Agh," Toph groaned to herself, slapping her hands into her lap in frustration. She kept losing her concentration and fumbling things up, meaning she'd have to scan her fingers across the bumps on the page before her, try and memorize it again, and go back at it. She was confident that her fingers could perform what they needed to, she just was having an off day. There was no other explanation - she was practically a virtuoso, she was sure. The week as a whole had been starting to weigh on her, as her friends had all been noticeably busier than the weeks prior. This meant a lack of social interaction , which meant a lack of Toph feeling in a good mood. Isolated in the practice room she took as her own, she had been hammering away at this piano piece for the past hour or so and simply wasn't making enough headway on it for her liking. It didn't help that it was a song that had been assigned to her - not one she had chosen herself.

It was a Thursday night, and Thursdays were when the group often broke off deliberately to get work done before the weekend. For Toph, this essentially meant practicing her music performance. But that didn't seem to be going too well at the moment, she decided to do something to help clear her mind. She reached inside her hoodie pocket and pulled out her cell phone. She slid her fingers across the key, pressed the familiar shortcut, and punched in the large button on the upper left. It began to hum as she raised it to her ear, tapping her feet impatiently.

["Hello?"]

"Hey, Twinkle Toes."

["What's goin' on Cubbie Bear?"]

"Ulgh," Toph reacted, as if to vomit.

["Oh! Oh! Did I do it? Cubbie Bear?"]

"Nope," Toph grunted. "Nnnope. But that one's pretty bad."

["Dangit."]

"What're ya up to, ya loser?"

["I'm in the art studio working on a project."]

"I see."

["Why? What's up? Did you need something?"]

"Not really, I'm just...bored. Can't seem to get this song right."

["Whhhaaaat? Toph Beifong, having difficulty with music?"]

"Shuddup."

["Hee. Just an off night, huh?"]

"Guess so."

["Try listening to something else for a while."]

"Huh?"

["Take your iPod and listen to something completely different, then try it again."]

"Hm. Shhhhure. I guess that couldn't hurt."

["Yea. See if that helps."]

"Thanks."

["Sorry, I'm actually kinda busy, so I should probably go."]

"O-Oh, OK. Yea, all right."

["But I love you, Toph."]

"Yea." She put on a mischievous grin. "I know."

["Hey..."]

"I love you, too, Aang," she snickered out, running her hand through her bangs.

["Bye."]

"Bye..."

She let him hang up the phone before closing it and stuffing it back into her hoodie. She took a deep breath and ran her fingertips across the keys before leaning over to the side and grabbing her leather bag. The bag had been a gift from her parents for her college career, and while she wasn't too keen on her parents, she couldn't deny the quality of the bag - during the course of the spring semester, Aang had been giving her various pins and buttons to stick to it. They weren't just standard pins, they were oddly shaped or textured. She dug in and felt around until the smooth, metallic rectangle touched her hand. She pulled it out and slipped the buds into her ears. She pressed a button and off the music went, streaming through her brain.

[~"It's been a hard day's night."~"And I've been workin' like a dog."~"It's been a hard day's night."~"I should be sleepin' like a log."~]


- December, 2009 -

She edged her way along the sidewalk, sweeping her cane back and forth as she headed back to the House of Terra after a flawless stint of piano practice. It was utterly infuriating that her dorm was on the complete opposite side of campus as the Music Building, but she had memorized the path at this point. She knew where she was right now: the long stretch of sidewalk that ran across campus between the ACC and the entrance parking lot.

"Haha, yea! I'll see you guys later, then."

Her heart skipped a beat at the sound of his voice. It was that same voice from days before.

"Like I told you: I want to be your friend." "I don't know. I just do. That isn't good enough for you?"

She had backhanded him with her words and had found herself regretting it the next day. She had spent the days since carrying out her routine as usual, trying desperately to ignore the gaping holes in her life, hoping that this weird kid that had inexplicably sought her out would return and that she could try again.

"Aang?" she called out, his name something she had taken to memory. "Aang Leekpai?"

"Huh?" The boy sounded like he was crossing her path about twenty feet away. She turned to face the voice and tried waving her hand.

"Aang," she called. "Is that you?"

"Y-yea, it's...It's me," he replied, confused, his voice closer as his footsteps carried him toward her.

"Heh..." She could feel her face heating up with embarrassment at their awkward situation. "Hi, uh...It's Toph. That girl from the music building?"

"Yea." Aang acknowledged with a hint of disdain. It was warranted, she supposed.

"So, umm..." She coughed, her insides gurgling with discomfort. "I'm...kinda sorry about before."

"Oh." She could hear some nervous shuffling. Maybe his bag? "Yea...It's OK." His tone had softened.

"No, really, I...-" She paused, frustrated with herself. Should she be straight? She hated being straight when the subject was herself. But given the circumstances, she was feeling desperate, whether she'd admit it or not. "It's just that...I-I don't really get out much, and I kinda keep to myself."

"That's what I've heard."

What you've heard? What the hell? Who the fuck has been talking about me? Urgh. OK, OK. That's not important right now...

"Honestly, I'm not usually very friendly to begin with, and I was having a sucky day." She swallowed the lump in her throat. "I've been thinking about what you said."

"About...hanging out with my friends?"

"Yea. I...Well, I, um..." She tapped her cane against the ground a few times, her head bobbed low. She didn't want to admit it, she didn't want to let her wall crumble, but something about this boy was easing her to do so. "I don't really have any friends...Ya know?"

There was a moment of silence in which Toph took a shaky breath, containing her suppressed doubts and anger and fear as best she could.

"Not any friends here at SRU, huh?" Aang sympathized.

"No," Toph corrected. She drummed her fingers across her cane. "N-not...any. In general. Not anymore."

"Oh." The boy seemed taken aback. "I...I thought you came from a rich family?"

How does he know this stuff about me? What is he, a stalker?

"Wh-...Yea, that's true, but..." She frowned, perfectly comfortable being blunt about her family. "My folks are stuck-up and controlling. I was home-schooled. The only kids I ever met with cousins, or-or other kids from other stuck-up families. My fucking parents think that because I'm blind I need to be...to be protected all the God damn time, so it's not like I was ever able to get out much and meet anybody." Toph had admittedly found ways to function as a social being through her own means behind her parents' backs, and some of the servants at their home had been kind to her, but Toph had never found any genuine connections with her peers that could be depended upon, so she'd learned to depend on herself.

I did have one friend...But she's gone now.

"Gosh. I'm sorry." The boy placed his hand on her shoulder, and she flinched, shocked by the contact. His hand didn't come back, though she found herself wishing it would in retrospect. When was the last time someone touched her? Not just guided her out of obligation, but...just made a friendly gesture like that? This 'Aang' boy seemed awfully concerned about her well being. Why?

"N o, no...Not your fault," Toph sputtered. "Could I...Could I ask you something?"

Please please please. Let this all be true.

"Er, yea. Go ahead." This all seemed so nonchalant to him. Pff, yea, no big deal, just randomly talking to a stranger and touching her and trying to invite her to hang out with you like it was nothing.

"I know I asked you this before, but, like...Why me? Why did you bother-...I-I mean, approach me? In the first place?"

"Hm." He paused to reflect, as if he himself didn't quite know. "I'm...not really sure. I guess I'd say it was like a sixth sense sorta thing."

"Huh?"

"You know - like my gut told me to. Or something. You ever get that?"

What? That's it? This doesn't make any sense.

"Ummm...Can't say that I do," she skeptically decided.

"Ah. Hm. Er, well...guess I can't really explain it, then, it's...I dunno, it doesn't really make any sense."

Oh, great. It doesn't make any sense to him?

"W hat? Like you had a vision or some bullshit?"

"Heh...A-actually, something like that..."

"Rrrrreally?" she muttered, even more weirded out.

"Do you want the truth?"

Ech. This sounds creepy.

"Sure...?"

"A few weeks ago I had a dream," the boy began. He sighed and she could hear him fidgeting around. "I had this dream where this girl was playing a piano. I don't remember what song was, or what the girl looked like. She'd play her piano, and when she was done, she would smile at me and laugh. And then I had this...this dream again. And again. Like, every other night for a week. B ut then my friend, she asked me to come to a recital with her. I had no idea who was playing or what, but I said, 'OK, let's go.' And I mean, like, other people played the piano there, right? But when you played the piano...I dunno. It reminded me of my dream."

Oooookay, then. This sounds just a little bit kooky.

"Sooo...What? You think it was, like, a holy sign or something?"

"I don't know, OK?" Aang insisted, getting defensive.

Whoa, watch yourself, Toph. You wanna scare him off, again? This kid actually gives a shit about you. So what if he's a little...odd? Beggars can't be choosers. Not that I'm a beggar. Hmph.

"A ll right, all right," Toph huffed, rapping her sandaled foot impatiently. "Well, whatever it was...here I am. I don't know if God in all his infinite wisdom has some...some plan or whatever. But you're the first fucking person on this whole campus who's actually gone out of their way to try and make friends with me. I'll give ya that."

"Does...does that mean you wanna be friends?"

"That-...Um...I-...Sure? Yea. OK."

Blaaaagh. Having some tongue trouble, huh? Must be shocked by the whole...simplicity of the thing.

"All right, then!" Aang eagerly grabbed her hand, and when she squeezed back, he shook vigorously. "F riends."

"Ummm...W-well, we're not friends yet," Toph clarified with a toothy tease. "You have to make those. But if you're gonna stalk me I might as well give it a try."

Wait. Aw, fuck. That probably came across as kind of assholic, huh? Damnit. I'm just tryin' to be funny...

"Haha...Careful, you might get stuck with me," Aang warned her.

"Heh, I'm kinda tough to stick onto," Toph insisted. "But you're welcome to try."

Shit. OK, that didn't sound inappropriate at all...God, what's my problem?

"H ow about I introduce you to my friends some time?"

"Oh...Totally, that's...probably a good plan. How about tomorrow?"

"That should be fine. What time?"

"Seven? Eight?"

"Eight would be good."

"Eight. Cool."

"Come meet us in the ACC."

"Yea. You got it."

"We'll be on the first floor - just show up, we'll find you."

"Yep. It's a plan."

"Great."

"Sweet."

"So, uh...Have a good night, then, Toph!"

"Yea, you, too, Aang."

As his footsteps faded, Toph realized that her heart had been doing extra duty by the end of their conversation. Flustered by what actually seemed like a successful social interaction with a real life person right in front of her, Toph carried on her way back to Terra, her mind whirling with possibilities. What would his friends be like? What was he like? She had so little to work with, here. But in that moment, this didn't matter. What mattered was that some random stranger gave a shit about her, and not because she was blind. Whatever the motivation was, she had been a jerk to him for no good reason and he had let it roll off as soon as she'd approached him . What kind of person was this 'Aang' kid? Going out of his way to make friends for practically no purpose? She wanted to believe that there was no purpose, that a person like this could actually exist.


- Thursday, September 9th, 2010 -

"Hey, Katara."

"Hi, Toph. How was practice?"

"Bleh. I got the basics down by the end, but God damn, I just wasn't in the zone tonight."

"Heh, I hear you. Me, neither. Today was...stupid."

"It's almost the weekend, though, right?"

" True. Hey, have you seen Jane at all today?"

"Uh, well, given the whole blind thing, I-"

"Er, sorry, I meant-"

"B aha, it's cool, Katara, I'm just messin' with ya."

"Hm. Why do I feel like that's always going to be the case?"

"Hee. I'm a crazy one. You gotta keep your eye on me 'cuz I can't do it myself. Oh, but, no, I haven't run into Jane at all."

"Huh."

"Why?"

"Oh, it's nothing, I just...Found it odd that she never showed up last night, is all."

"Meh, you shouldn't worry so much. I think she's just got a lot of crap on her plate. Trust me, speaking as a fellow crazy person, ya gotta let people like us find our way in. Remember how it was with me?"

"Yea. Yea, you're right."

"Obviously. Damn, don't act so surprised."

"Haha, oh, sorry. Hey, are you heading to bed?"

"Yea, I'm freakin' dead ."

"Guess I should, too..."

"Night, then."

"N ight."


A/N: Song lyrics are (c) The Beatles. Expect to see more of that. ;)
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:iconbayouwizzard:
BayouWizzard Featured By Owner 20 hours ago  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I don't think I can actually express in enough words how fantastic this story is. The fact that I can hear the character's voices as they would speak your written words is something that few fanfiction writers can actually grasp, and you manage it not only aptly, but fluently. Bravo. Onto the next chapter.
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:icondestiny-smasher:
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner 8 hours ago  Hobbyist Writer
Thanks. With this story complete now, I'll actually be looking into editing it into an original series in the future, given how much work was put into it.
I hope you enjoy it in this form, at least! Thanks for leaving a comment.
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:icontastyxnoodles:
tastyxnoodles Featured By Owner Mar 15, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
throughout this entire fanfic i am still freaking impressed. you make the characters seem so real and natural and for once Taang makes sense to me haha! It'll probably take a little more time for me to get used to toph being more helpless than she is in the show with the no bending and all, but seriously overall you've done a fantastic job so far! I cant wait to catch up!! there is still SOO much left to read!
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:icondestiny-smasher:
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Mar 16, 2014  Hobbyist Writer
Glad to hear you are enjoying it. Thanks for leaving a comment.
Well, the thing with Toph is that EVERYONE is without bending this world.
Because it's, you know, reflective of reality? Where blind people are ACTUALLY blind, yet are not necessarily helpless.
People who define Toph's character by her physical attributes are missing so much of what makes her character interesting, IMO, and it was the question of 'What would an older version of this character be like if she had no superpowers?' which was one of the primary inspirations of starting this series.

There is indeed a lot to read. SRU is really more original YA fiction than it is fanfiction, and I am nearly finished writing it. Perhaps I will be by the time you reach the end.

I hope you enjoy the story, and don't forget that there is a lot of artwork for it, as well.
destiny-smasher.deviantart.com…
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:iconniftyllama:
NiftyLlama Featured By Owner Dec 16, 2012
I'm all for Kataang, But I love how you developed the relationship between Toph and Aang. It make's me sad knowing that they're gonna break up!
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:iconthetaleof2sisters:
thetaleof2sisters Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012
I knew it! (That they were Beatles lyrics!)
Anyway, This is really cool...I always imagined Toph as a musical prodigy!
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:icondestiny-smasher:
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Dec 8, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
I wanted SRU!Toph to still be totally blind, but also still be inherently gifted with some kind of skill. :)
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:iconpopwiz15:
popwiz15 Featured By Owner Aug 23, 2012  Hobbyist Artist
Am I sensing a possible band thingie?
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:iconalura-the-sage:
Alura-the-Sage Featured By Owner Jul 20, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Love the bit about instruments being parts of the body; an interesting idea!
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:iconmidnight4568:
Midnight4568 Featured By Owner Mar 6, 2012
"The girls have a bit more external drama," So true!
Wow, Jane's making an effort to talk to Sokka.
"Miss Smellerbee." XD
I knew it! The guy in the basketball jersey was Pipsqueak.
Mmm...alfredo pasta. Preferably fettuccine.
There are a few minor typos here, like "K at" instead of "Kat," and "trimphently" instead of "triumphantly."
I like how you make the conversations between Aang and Toph so natural and in character.
Was Toph's one friend her grandmother that was mentioned in previous flashback scenes?
I like your version of Aang's vision of Toph. But, no flying boar?
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