A/N: Sorry this took a while longer than usual. Holiday season is the cause. Have fun with this Aang-focused chapter. Enjoy. I decided not to reveal too much about Aang's history yet as I want to make sure I finalize the details first and introduce the more important elements later. But I'm sure there are still some surprises here.
Happy New Year!
What I Learned at SRU
Chapter 16 - Leaving the Nest
- Tuesday, September 28th, 2010 -
[Boomerang Blog: Back At Ya!]
[Posted on September 28th, 1:12am]
[by Noble Sir Kesuk Esquire]
[So my sister's gang member friend - not the one who died, the one who didn't die - has been kind of worming her way into our group here. The more the merrier, right? Meh. I dunno. Like I said before, I'm not sure I trust her, but my sister sure does. We got to know her better this weekend, so it was good to see that she's not just a complete stone wall, but...even if she's not as bad as all that, she was mixed up with a bad crowd. I've got a bad taste in my mouth about it. I guess I feel kinda bad. Sounds like she's had it rough. But some people just can't be helped some times, ya know? My sister seems to think this girl can be helped, so...whatever. It's not like she's going to listen to me anyway, so I may as well go along with it.]
[Personally, I think my sister is giving in to her habit where she latches onto broken people because she wants to fix them. Ya know? It really could go anywhere: good, bad. Horrendous. My sis says I'm just being pessimisstic. But I think I'm just being a realist. Come on, the girl is from a gang and their leader just got killed.]
[Either way, it's nice to have another realist around, right?]
[End result of all this crap, though, is that our four-wheel car has gotten a lot more wheels. My GF's been hanging out with us a lot, and now this new girl...and sometimes her boyfriend, too. When we're all together it's frankly a little too crowded for me. But I guess it's good because my GF feels more comfortable with more people around, so...can't complain. She's in a good mood, I'm in a good mood.]
[I never thought we'd be rolling with such a large group at the beginning of the schoolyear. Maybe we should start our own gang! Not sure what I'd call it, though...Gimme time. Or leave me some ideas. If you have any. That way I can steal the credit. ;D ]
"Wow, that's so gorgeous, Mai."
"Heh. Thanks. It's...not finished yet, though."
"Oh...Really? What else are ya gonna do to it?"
"I want to touch up the background a bit, fill it out a bit more."
"Wh-! Er, nothin'."
"What is it?" Mai slyly wondered, keen to her classmate's humble habit of withholding valuable criticism. "Come on. Spit it out, Aang."
Aang's shy face drizzled out relief as he shrugged and lifted a finger to Mai's computer screen.
"Part of why I love it so much is the simplicity. If you load the background up too much it'll detract from her face, and you'll lose that simplicity."
Mai paused a moment to contemplate Aang's advice. He had steered her well in the past, she had to admit. Despite not being in the same year, both students spent a lot of time in the Art Lab, and had grown a casual friendship through their mutual work habits.
"Huh," she mused, finger thoughtfully placed on her lips, analyzing her image. "You might be right..."
"That's just my thinking," he conceded.
Aang plopped himself into his wheeled chair beside Mai and logged into the lab computer.
"So, how was your weekend?" he wondered, hooking up his external hard drive.
"Kind of stressful, actually," Mai admitted with a dull sigh.
"Sorry. How come?"
"My boyfriend was all...super-busy with his campaign, and...-" Mai's black-nailed fingers dug into her forehead in frustration. "-...his sister's just...being a total bitch to us."
"Sounds...like fun...?" Aang attempted to sympathize. "Wait, did you say your boyfriend was busy with a campaign? Like...student government, or something?"
"Yea, he's running for president. Why?"
"Oh. Heh." Aang shrugged. "I think me and my roommate might've met him a little while ago - he was going around the cafeteria asking students questions about, like, campus activities...and stuff."
"Hm. Yea, that was probably him," Mai figured, staring at her screen, still contemplating what to do with the background layers of her Photoshop work. "Zuko, right?"
"Yep, that was him."
"He's been a wreck this past week," Mai lamented.
"Well...That election is coming up real soon, right?"
"In a few days," Mai informed with dread. "He's freaking. Like a chicken with his head cut off. Between that and our schoolwork, I doubt we're going to see much of each other until the weekend."
"That totally stinks."
"Meh. We'll live."
"Hey, you're lucky, though," said Aang with a joking grin. "My girlfriend never gets to see me."
"Wh-...?" Mai paused and shuffled through her memory banks to recollect that Aang's girlfriend was blind and acknowledged his lighthearted humor. "Oh, ha. Yea...I guess that's true..."
"By the way, my project for Monday - could you take a look at it? Tell me what you think?"
"Yea, sure thing, Aang."
- June, 2010 -
Sokka stood, poised for battle, broadsword in hand, face to the wind. The paint on his face was dried and cracked, mixed with splashes of blood and sweat. Aang stood beside him, staff in hand, its end planted firmly into the grass at his feet. The two warriors gazed off into the distance...What they were gazing at, Aang had not yet decided, so he had instead been focusing on drawing a dramatic eclipse in the sky on the corner of the page.
"Aang!" called out a relaxed voice from downstairs. "The Universe is ready to grace you with the gift of supper!"
"Just a minute, Lily!" Aang replied back, touching up the shading on the darkness of the eclipse before dropping his drawing pad and pencil onto his bed and vaulting off downstairs. The sparse, simple kitchen was filled with the scent of fried vegetables and rice, and Aang's stomach jumped at the idea of food.
"Buddy Bear!" Lily sweetly sang across the house to the chubby man plucking on a ukelele in the living room. "Dinner is served."
"Be right there, My Flower," his almost squawking voice assured. The string plucking stopped as Aang scooted himself into the wooden, rickety chair at the table. He sniffed in the delightful aroma of the various beans and vegetables wafting from the ceramic bowl in the center of the table.
Lily was a spindly woman with long, flowing black hair that was usually tied together in a slim, dangling braid. She was often adorned with hemp bracelets, seashell necklaces, and a tye-dye headband, as was the case on this evening, all laid over top a plain, dulled yellow dress. She was scooped rice onto plates and then dunking vegetables on top. Aang was grateful that this year he'd been placed in a family that was strictly vegetarian, which made a lot of little things run a lot smoother than in previous foster homes.
"Mmmm-mm! Aw, golly, this just smells delicious, Darling," Chong complimented, rubbing his wide belly with a yawn. He was a plump man, always with grayed scruff on his face and shaggy hair on a receding hairline. He generally wore about the same type of jewelry as his wife, but accented with various Hawaiian shirts. Today's flavor was palm trees against pale orange.
At the age of 18, Aang had broken free from the foster care system, legally old enough to make decisions on his own, and had decided to take a scholarship he'd received from Saint Roku University. The college had even been kind enough to help sort out a place for him to stay in Wayward during holiday breaks, such as the summer time. The year prior had been a bit awkward and difficult with a family who had a very different lifestyle than his own, but Chong and Lily - while strange and a perhaps a bit air-headed for even Aang's preferences - were proving to be a more comfortable environment to relax in when he physically couldn't stay on campus. It also meant he never had to worry about any crazy commutes. He wasn't so sure how much he'd visit them when the new school year began, but he was getting the impression that they might not even notice.
The group bowed their heads in thanksgiving of their meal, and while Lily dedicated the meal to them in her own...colorful way, Aang gave his own peace before they began to eat.
"So, Aang," Chong casually initiated, "How're things with the little lady, eh?"
"Your girlfriend, Dear," specified Lily.
"Oh. Toph." Aang chewed and swallowed some beans. "She's, uh...W-well, she's been a little fussy lately..." he admitted with a sigh. Their contact had been very frequent since over the past couple of weeks since the summer had begun but Toph had not exactly been in a good mood during much of their brief interactions.
"Awww, now, that's too bad," lamented Chong. "What seems to be the problem?"
"It's her parents," Aang grumbled, scooping some rice with his next bite. "They're...not as nice as you guys are. They won't let her do anything or go anywhere, really."
"Overprotective? My word," Lily sighed with a 'tut-tut' of her tongue. "It sounds like her parents need to learn that children need to be free to grow."
"Birds can't learn to fly if they never leave the nest," Chong advised.
"Yea," Aang conceded, though on the inside he found himself wishing he had possessed some kind of nest of his own before the days of SRU.
- Tuesday, September 28th, 2010 -
"You awake, Twinkle-Toes?"
Aang was stirred from his peace by Toph's teasing tone cutting through the breezy afternoon and the gentle bustling of students in the distance.
"I wasn't asleep."
"What were ya doin'?" Toph wondered, sitting down beside him cross-legged, like him, and scooting over so their knees touched. Aang smiled at her question and gazed thoughtfully up to the clouds above.
"I was knocking on the sky, and hearing the sound," he explained as Katara rested in the grass beside Toph.
"What did you hear?" Toph pondered thoughtfully, wriggling her bare toes around.
Aang shrugged by reflex and mumbled, "I dunno, nothing clear." Toph's chubby, slightly calloused hand pressed into his shoulder, finding its way up to his neck.
A warm, wet sensation on his ear tingled his senses.
"How 'bout that? That clear?" she teased.
"Crystal," Aang warmly replied, reciprocating the gesture on her cheek.
She grabbed his hand, wedging her fingers inbetween his and dramatically flopped herself against his side. Katara, smiling at their snuggling, waved Aang's way before digging into her bag and pulling out a textbook.
"Long day?" Aang wondered to Toph, nudging his shoulder a bit to shake her head around.
"Shitty day," Toph groaned. "I sucked it up at my guitar lesson," she informed with self-loathing.
"Have you been practicing enough?" Aang checked suspiciously. Toph paused her reply, a bitter frown forming on her face.
"Nnnnooo," she slowly growled with a pout. Aang chuckled and wrapped his arm over her back, scratching the hair at the base of her neck before running his hand down her ponytail.
"Gee, maybe that's the reason, then," he concluded with a patronizing jest.
"You've been playing a lot of piano lately," Katara observed, looking up from her book.
"Yea," grumbled Toph, sitting up straight and leaning back in the grass on her palms. "I guess I need to work more on my guitar..."
"Guess you need to work more on your face," Aang advised facetiously.
Toph contorted her expression into a wild, monstrous one, hooking her fingers into her lips and stretching her mouth wide open. Aang had to arc his neck over to observe it as she was facing straight ahead.
"Was that better?" she asked as she reverted to normal.
"I guess I like your face the way it was in the first place," Aang expressed with joking regret, pinching her cheek. She batted him away with a sharp elbow jab and grinned with mischief.
"Well, makes no difference to me what my face looks like," she taunted.
"Please don't become disfigured," Aang requested politely. "I've gotten rather used to your face."
"Would you still love me if I was disfigured?" Toph prodded in a melodramatic tone.
"Of course," Aang assured with a laugh, scratching her shoulder affectionately.
"Oh." Toph crossed her arms. "Well, pff. That's no fun."
Aang's closed the case on the matter gleefully. "Then I guess I have nothing to worry about."
"God, can you two go be cute somewhere else?" The dry, raspy sarcasm of Jane glowered over them. She slapped them both on the back with her wrists at once. "You guys cramp my style. It's embarrassing to be around all of your God damned...cuteness."
"H-hey!" Toph protested, suddenly serious. "I'm not too cute. I'm...a total bad-ass rocker chick." Toph scrambled to her feet, spun around to face Jane, and thumbed herself in the chest. "See?"
There was an awkward silence as Jane raised a thick, orange eyebrow and bit her lip, a chuckle urging to escape. Aang leaned back and stared up to see a large, happy-looking penguin sprawled across her breasts, flippers up in the air in celebratory fashion.
"Didn't realize penguins were so hardcore," Jane forced out, barely containing an explosive laugh.
"What?" Toph snipped in an indignant squeak. "It's an AC/DC shirt!" she roared.
"It has a penguin on it," Aang informed slyly, recognizing the shirt. "That's Katara's shirt, Tater-Face."
"Huh?" Toph's arm drooped and she twisted a confused head to her roommate, who was snickering, mouth covered.
"You spilled grape juice on your AC/DC shirt at lunch so I let you borrow one of mine - remember?"
"Oh." Toph's face boiled red as she flopped into the grass again, still facing Jane. "I forgot," she admitted in a grumble, scratching her forehead sheepishly. Aang could detect a hint of frustration in her body language: she was a tad angry about embarrassing herself due to her inability to see. Likely, her blindness had caused the spill in the first place, and consequently caused her to not realize what she was wearing. "Thought my shirt seemed a little loose..." she quietly mused to herself, tugging the shirt tightly against her self.
"It's cool, Toph," Jane eased, kicking Toph's shin lightly with her thick army boot. "I know you're a bonafide badass."
"She's had a bad day," Katara explained with sympathy, tapping her roommate on the shoulder playfully.
"Shitty day," Toph corrected once again.
"Let's have a better evening, then," Aang suggested.
"I thought that's what we were doing," Toph noted, stretching back and laying down in the grass.
"I'm up for whatever," Jane threw out her interest casually.
"I actually have some work to take care of," Katara explained.
"Sokka's studying for a test tonight," Aang added. "He's stressing out over it."
"Soooo, basically, he's perfectly fine," Sokka's sister noted.
"Soooo what are we gonna do, then?" Toph wondered.
Clearly, Suki was out. The group had noticed this habit where Suki only ever seemed interested in spending time with them when Sokka was around. The same could be said of Jane's boyfriend, though he was clearly tied up with his...'group.' Not to mention that the boy never had much to say. As in, he pretty much never spoke.
"Maybe we could play poker, or something?" Jane threw out an idea.
"'Cuz that's so fun for the blind girl," Toph grouched.
Jane lifted a brow and smirked, prodding Toph in the forehead with her knuckles.
"Sorry, there, Cripple," she teased. "It's not like we've never played cards before with you around. What did you have in mind, then?"
"Pff. I dunno," Toph blurted.
"Then how about we go for poker and if you come up with something you want to do, we'll do that afterward."
"Fair enough," Toph agreed coolly, clearly not actually as interested in the 'what' as the 'who.'
"I'll call Lon- er, Johnny, and, uh...Let him know. He loves poker." Jane pulled out her phone and made her call, stepping away for a moment.
"You sure you're OK with that, Toph?" Aang checked. He knew she was, but he felt it'd be best to play the pleasing role in their company. She giggled when she replied and he could tell she knew he was asking out of formality.
"Of course, Twinkle-Toes - why wouldn't I be?"
"Just checking," he replied, scratching her on the arm.
- December, 2009 -
"Are you all right?" Aang gasped out, kneeling over and reaching for Toph's fallen form. She had stumbled while going up the stairs and had skinned her elbow on the corner of a step, managing to catch herself before her face had smashed into the stairs. Aang had offered to escort her but she had flatly declined.
"I'm fine," Toph irritably snapped, pushing her arms out at his groping hands. "God, I can get up on my own, all right?" She pushing herself up to her feet, grasping at the rail with both hands as she regained her footing. Wriggling around her wrist for the cane looped around it, she sucked a sharp breath through her teeth at the pain from her arm and continued up the stairs.
"OK," Aang meekly conceded, confused as to how to proceed. It seemed like the more polite he was the more angry she'd get with him. Quite a queer girl, this Toph was.
"Well?" Toph growled impatiently. "We going?"
"Y-yea!" Aang blurted, shuffling up in front of her and to the dorm room floor. "Wow," he whispered as he entered the hall. "It's...so quiet here," he observed.
"Well, some of us have studying to take care of, Aang," Toph pointed out testily. "Not everyone runs around their dorm like wild animals."
Aang couldn't help but crack a grin at this criticism lodged at his brotherhood. To him, it was more of a compliment.
"That's because not everyone cares about having fun," Aang defended jovially. Toph smirked at him as they made their way down the dead hallway to Toph's bedroom.
"I thought we were here to learn," she pondered.
"Is that what they told you?" Aang joked. "What have you learned since you've come here?"
Toph trudged into her room and Aang, against his temptation to help, let her toss herself into her bed.
"I-" she grunted, setting herself in so she was comfortable. "-have learned that sometimes it's better to put things off until later. Heh."
Aang was perplexed as to where to sit, and opted to take the chair by the desk near the closed laptop.
"Haha, it sure is."
The two contemplated what to say next after a moment of silence.
"Sooo...Those other guys are coming, right?"
"Katara and Sokka?"
"Yea. Those guys."
"Yep, they are."
"'Kay." Toph stretched up her toes and slowly leaned forward, touching them with her fingertips.
"So, uhh...You like it here? In Terra?" Aang wondered.
"Meh. It's OK, I guess," Toph mumbled with nonchalance. "I keep to myself, which is pretty easy to do here."
Aang acknowledged that this was likely true. Keeping to one's self was much more difficult in Aero. But to him, that wasn't a bad thing.
"Cool," Aang muttered back. "So you're a Piano Major?"
She chuckled and cocked her head back.
"I'm a Music Performance Double Major. Piano and Guitar."
"Guitar," she repeated devilishly. "Want me to show ya?" she asked, eager to show off.
"Sh-sure, yea," Aang agreed. Toph flipped off of her bed and began to fumble toward the guitar resting on the bed across the room. "Oh, I can-" he got up and went to aid, but she smacked him on the arm - unnecessarily hard, at that - and proceeded to the other bed.
"I can take care of myself, Aang," she insisted, scooting on the mattress. Aang sighed and gazed at the dried up scrape on her elbow as she picked up the guitar. Sure was stubborn, wasn't she?
But that hardened stubbornness she kept showing seemed to peel away with the notes that flowed out from the guitar strings. She sang no words, simply strumming away a sweet, serene tune that Aang has never heard. It the execution wasn't as keen and sharp as her piano work but it had soul, and life, and warmth where the piano she played was cold and precise. Minutes passed by until Sokka and Katara came in on her guitar playing - she was so lost in the music that she didn't notice at first.
"Wow," Sokka interjected, causing her to slip and scratch a note. "You're really good there," he remarked, hands on his hips.
"That was beautiful, Toph," Katara complimented warmly. She meant it, but she was also saying it with some extra sweetness on top.
"Errr, thanks," Toph mumbled awkwardly, gripping her guitar tightly.
"You serenading Aang here?" Sokka teased, shooting Aang an amused glance.
Aang could feel his cheeks warm up at the thought and a brief look at Toph, who was quickly setting her guitar down, revealed some pink coloration below her eyes.
"I was just showing him that I play guitar," she explained dismissively.
"That's so amazing," Katara observed in awe, scratched her head in perplexation. "You're really good."
"Really good for being blind?" Toph bitterly amended.
"No," Katara insisted. "You're just good - piano and guitar? What else do you play?"
Toph grinned and wrapped her arms around her neck cockily.
"Buncha stuff. I dabble," she bragged.
"Well, I brought some cheese and crackers," Sokka informed, slipped his backpack off his shoulders and patting it tenderly. "So I say we dabble in those for a while."
"Sounds like a good id-"
Aang's comment was cut short by a blaring alarm.
"What the-?" Sokka cried.
"Fuckin' fire alarm!" Toph yelled through the noise.
Sokka slapped his bag back over his shoulders, Toph eagerly grabbed her guitar, and Aang scooped his art supply sling.
"Let's go!" Katara advised, waving them out of the room. Toph bumped into Sokka in her pursuit of the group, likely thrown off by all the noise.
"Hey, whoa," Sokka mumbled, grabbing her by the shoulders and catching her from stumbling. "Careful there, Kiddo, we-"
"Don't touch me!" Toph hissed, pushing herself away from him, hands tightly wrapped around her guitar, and falling backward into Aang with an "Oomff!" Her head pressed into his chest, he couldn't help but find the sweaty scent of her hair oddly alluring, his hands around her ribs. His body tingled and he immediately helped set her back on her feet whilst she growled a "Get off me," with less ferocity than Sokka had received.
Katara was already halfway down the hall by now, Sokka close behind, while Toph was forcing her way along, elbows out, cradling her guitar desperately. She banged an elbow into the doorway on her way out with a growl. Now both had matching bruises. Aang had a suspicion that either this was simply a drill or that everything would be fine, and he couldn't help but feel some admiration for how deeply the girl seemed to love her guitar - but she had neglected her walking cane, which he quickly retrieved from the edge of the bed she had originally sat down in.
"Hey, Toph!" he called out into the hall. "Here." He jammed her cane against her arm.
"O-oh..." Toph mumbled awkwardly, her brows furrowed in a confused frown.
"I'll take that," he offered, tapping his hand against her guitar. Her face flashed with doubt and distrust for a moment.
"Guys! Come on!" Katara shouted from the stairwell's entrance. Obviously, she was a bit more worried about the situation than anyone else - ever the cautious one.
Without a word, Toph groaned in frustration and stuck her acoustic treasure into the air, and Aang accepted it with care. With cane in hand, Toph's mobility was certainly improved and she was able to keep up well enough with some verbal prodding from Aang, just behind.
"Whew!" Sokka breathed out after they pooled into the small lake of students that had congealed in front of Terra.
"Are you OK, Toph?" Katara wondered.
"Yea," she huffed back as Aang gently nudged her guitar into her hands. "I'm fine, guys. I don't need you fuckin' babying me all the time, all right?"
The group exchanged a triplet of off-put, worrisome expressions.
"Sure thing," Sokka murmured with a shrug as Toph nonchalantly plucked some chords out amidst the chattering of impatient students wanting to get back into their home. "Crackers and cheese, anyone?" Sokka offered, eager to shift the tone of the situation.
As Sokka pulled out his food packages and passed them to his sister, Aang stole a moment to stare at Toph's icy white eyes, glistening like the freshly plowed snow around them in the moonlight that evening. Why was she such a stubborn beast? What did she have to prove, and to whom?
- Tuesday, September 28th, 2010 -
"What? Another fold? What the hell's your problem, Twinkle-Toes?"
A whap on the shoulder was immediately reworked by a rough but tender massage as Toph picked on her boyfriend.
"God, even when you play cards you're a wimp," she snickered. Aang probed his finger into her stomach and she retracted her arm with a mischievous "Hee."
"So? What about you, Johnny?" Jane sneakily questioned.
The boy in the black cap glared at her coolly from across his hand of cards. She lifted her brow at him and he lifted one back as he slid some of his poker chips into the pot at the table's center.
"All righty, then!" Jane slyly flipped the final table card over to reveal a Jack of spades while Aang, losing attention of the game, started one of his own - one he and Toph had created months before. It involved them taking turns tickling at each other in brief bursts, seeing which one gave in first and drew attention to themselves. The main rule was that both players had to act perfectly casual. No scrunching up or squirming, as that would show weakness. And, naturally, it had to be quick motions. Aang attacked Toph's knee - one of her inconsistent weaknesses - to no avail. Toph poked at his side, but he was resilient. He worked his hand into her armpit and it clamped shut as she bit her lip. He tugged, but she kept his hand trapped.
"Aang, what are you doing?" Katara snickered as Jane raked in a pile of poker chips with a smug smile.
"Ha, you're on a losing streak today," Toph jeered as Aang un-wedged his hand from her armpit. Even though Toph had moved, Aang was the one who had been spoken to, making him the loser.
"Heh, way to go, Loser," Jane picked, knuckling him gently on the shoulder. "Ya gotta be more aggressive, or ya won't get anywhere."
Aang shrugged, his brain much more concerned with his company than the cards on the table. He was even starting to warm up to Johnny's strangely silent wit.
"And you," Jane accused, tossing a low-value poker chip into Toph's bosom. Toph twitched in reaction and slid her jaw to the side in amused indignance. "He's your boyfriend, Toph. Geez, man him up a bit."
"I'm trying," laughed Toph, her pudgy fingers groping their way around Aang's shoulder and up to his ear.
"I thought I was already man enough," Aang protested, batting Toph's pinching fingers away.
"Enough," Toph agreed, slapping him on the back roughly.
"H-hey, ask Sokka, I do lots of manly things..."
"If we're gauging manliness based on my brother," Katara advised, "then I think things are going to get skewed horribly wrong." Aang smiled weakly as the girls laughed. He glanced at Johnny, who simply shrugged and smirked, arms casually crossed over his lean stomach.
"You answer to Twinkle-Toes, Babe," Toph pointed out flatly. "That's not very manly."
"You just called me 'Babe,'" Aang gasped out in shock.
"Say what?" Toph quickly murmured, puzzled. "No, I didn't."
"Aang's just comfortable and confident in being...more sensitive than other guys," Katara defended. "Isn't that kind of manly in its own right?"
"In the same way that men wearing pink is macho, I guess," Jane dubiously agreed, running her knuckles across Aang's scruffy hair fiercely. "Now, we going another round or what? I still have more money to win, here."
"We didn't even bet any real money," Aang reminded her. She glared at him, a smile sliding under freckled cheeks.
"Doesn't make me any less a winner and you any more a loser," Jane baited, cocking her head daringly to the side. Aang narrowed his eyes, a spirit of challenge burning in his gut.
"We'll see about that," he declared, suddenly interested in 'manning up' in the presence of all these mocking girls.
"That's it! Go get 'em, Twinkle-Toes! Rip 'em to pieces! Woooo!"
Bam-bam-bam! Toph slammed her palms on the table, chips and cards clattering out of place.
Aang flicked her in the forehead with his middle finger and she stopped, slack-jawed but eyes still wild.
"It's just cards, Toph."
"Today, cards. Tomorrow, the world!"
"How about tomorrow you focus on...your bedroom?" Katara advised with a snicker. "You've got some dirty laundry piling up, Hun."
Toph snorted and scratched her nose.
"Tomorrow, my bedroom. The day after that, the world!" She nudged Aang, muttering to him, "I think I've got the laundry part down but I'm gonna need your help with the 'world,' bit, all right?"
A/N: Yes, Chong and Lily are references from the episode "Cave of Two Lovers."