A/N: The montage toward the beginning of this chapter is, as most of them are so far, intentionally vague. I leave it up to your judgment to piece things together, as it skips across time, and some of the sequences will be elaborated on later so it all makes more sense. Also, I hired a very talented artist to draw our beloved Fearsome Fivesome in their Homecoming getups, so please check the link at the end of the chapter for that!
What I Learned at SRU
Chapter 20 - Push
- Saturday, October 16th, 2010 -
"Shit-shit-shit! Agggghhhh, fuck me!"
"Bahaha!" Toph chortled. "Janey's even more dirty-mouthed today!"
Katara stared at Jane as the angry redhead pounded her fist against the floor.
"You roll with a gang and get into knife fights and that's no big deal," Katara observed, humored by the situation, "but you get your legs waxed and it's the end of the world."
"Shuddup," Jane growled like a whimpering lion cub while Katara pressed down another piece of cloth against Jane's right thigh.
"Oh," Katara murmured in realization, giving pause. "What about-...?"
"Nah, it's fine, Kat," Jane hurriedly and quietly dismissed Katara's concern, waving her hand to signal her friend to go on. Katara cast a shifty glance to Toph, who was blissfully unaware, resting just outside the bathroom on Katara's bed, kicking her legs out off the side of the mattress. Toph didn't need to know about it. Less she knew, the better.
"Grah!" Jane thumped her fist against the tile again. "Shhhhiiihh-tuh!"
"Awww, poor Jane-Baby," cooed Toph, eliciting a frown from the girl on the floor. "Want me to play you a song?"
Jane huffed, leaning against the toilet, and shrugged.
"Sure," she admitted defeat.
"Prepare to be ssssseranaded-ed!" roared Toph, clambering off the bed.
A few moments - and another Sssrrritt! "Fucking ass!" - later, lulling piano notes drifted from Toph's keyboard, flowing like wine into Jane's brain as the soothing lyrics poured in.
"~She can kill with a smile, she can wound with her eyes~
~She can ruin your faith with her casual lies~
~And she only reveals what she wants you to see~
~She hides like a child, but she's always a woman to me~"
"Hey!" The tan-skinned girl extended her arm with enthusiasm. "I'm Katara."
They stared at each other in silence for a moment, and Smellerbee beat into this new girl's face with her dull gaze like a club, wearing her cheerful demeanor thin in an instant.
Great. A new model in his never-ending line of ditsy whores...Wonder if this one's a fucking time-bomb, too...
"Sorry, Kat," Jet chuckled. "Smellerbee's not great with introductions."
"Th-that's OK, I'm sure we'll find some common ground when we get to know each other."
Smellerbee rolled her eyes at this girl's hope and spit her cigarette butt onto the sidewalk, scraping her boot's toe against it, smearing it into an ashy paste.
"It was...nice to meet you, Smellerbee."
Smellerbee shoved her hands into her pockets and shrugged as the two love-birds walked off, hand-in-hand.
"~She can lead you to love, she can take you or leave you~
~She can ask for the truth, but she'll never believe you~
~And she'll take what you give her as long it's free~
~Yeah, she steals like a thief, but she's always a woman to me~"
"But I like it when you're angry."
"I'm glad my getting pissed off gets you hard, Jet. It's fucking great. Really."
"I can't help it that you're sexy when you're mad."
"I can't help it that you make me mad! Stop spitting me your bullshit, Jet! Did you, or didn't you?"
"God...Fuckin' bastard, you're lying."
"What reason would I have to-?"
"I saw the way you and that blond bitch looked at each other last night." She punched him in the shoulder. "The fuck, Jet? I'm not woman enough for you, or some shit'?"
He glared at her, rubbing the spot she'd just nailed with an irritable sigh.
"Ya know? Maybe not, Smellerbee."
"Well, the truth comes out!" she mockingly growled.
"Could it hurt ya to try to act a little more like a damned girl sometimes?"
"Shut the hell up, Jet! You know about-"
"Why did you even choose to be one if you refuse to act like one?"
"I'm so sorry that I'm not a damned cookie-cutter slut!"
"~Ohhh...~She takes care of herself~
~She can wait if she wants~She's ahead of her time~
~Ohhh...~And she never gives out~
~And she never gives in~She just changes her mind~"
Shards of glass, some stained red, littered the floor, the jarlid at her feet. The delightful, droning hum coming from below filled her with satisfaction. She wiped the blood from her cheek with her sleeve, eyes locked on the discarded jacket at the foot of her bed.
She rustled through her dresser, whipping out a near-empty box of cigarettes from beneath her socks. Her grimey hands, shaking like leaves in the wind, fumbled a cigarette out from the rest. She grasped it tightly in her jittery fingers as she retrieved the lighter from the top of her dresser.
Her trembling thumb desperately flicked at the disposable lighter, again and again, aching for it to ignite. At last, it did, and she quenched her nicotine thirst with a deep inhalation. She puffed out a cloud of smoke and immediately stuffed the small box of cigarettes into her pocket. Restarting the lighter, she smoked for a few moments, eyes mesmerized by the flickering flame in front of her face as she contemplated the situation.
"Fucked with the wrong bitch, Bastard..."
"~And she'll promise you more than the garden of Eden~
~Then she'll carelessly cut you and laugh while you're bleeding~
~But she'll bring out the best and the worst you can be~
~Blame it all on yourself 'cause she's always a woman to me~"
"Bahahaaa! Ohhhh, Christ. Fuckin' hilarious..." Smellerbee's hands were wrapped around her gut to contain the laughter bursting out. The boy who'd fallen victim to her prank glared at her with eyes like talons, gripping her from her humored stupor. The egg running down his face suddenly didn't matter to Smellerbee for a moment, those piercing eyes cutting through her like a knife through hot butter.
"Smellerbee, what the hell? Why would you do that?"
"Sorry, Longshot, girl's a crazy bitch..."
"Damn! The hell's your problem?"
But Smellerbee and Longshot weren't paying anyone any heed, still trying to read each other's fickle glances.
"Whoa, whoa, hey," Jet's voice cut into the commotion. "What's goin' on here?"
"I was...just pullin' a prank on the new guy," Smellerbee quickly explained. Jet frowned at her before glancing at her recent victim with a sigh.
"You all right, Longshot?"
The boy nodded, saying not so much as a word, wiping runny egg from his buzzed hair with paper towels Jet had provided.
"Smellerbee has an odd way of showing affection, huh?" Jet noted with an amused smile. Smellerbee grinned, picking some wax from her outer ear with a shrug.
"You'll get used to it, Bumpkin Boy," she teased, slapping her fist onto his red and black plaid jacket, amused by his tall, wide baseball cap.
"~She's frequently kind and she's suddenly cruel~
~She can do as she pleases, she's nobody's fool~
~And she can't be convicted, she's earned her degree~
~And the most she will do is throw shadows at you~
~But she's always a woman to me~"
"There. All done." Katara's hands ran along Jane's smooth legs and she twitched from the tingling sensation. Quite unnatural. She couldn't decide if she liked her legs hairless or not just yet. "That wasn't so bad, was it?"
"I survived," Jane sighed, scratching her hand through her hair. Katara fluffed out her orange bangs with a snicker.
"Next we need to get you washed up. By the time we're done, you'll be in ship-shape, Jane."
"Ship-shape! Ship-shape!" cried Toph playfully from the bedroom, the sound of her hands clapping rattling the wall.
"Calm down there, Ponyo," Katara giggled, shaking her head with an entertained breath as she helped Jane to her feet. "I swear, she's such a kid some times..."
"Ohhhh, you love me for it," Toph defended. "Admit it."
"You're next, you know!" Katara warned. "I'm going to have you both looking like proper ladies."
"Don't remind me," huffed Toph.
"Pawn...yoh?" Jane mumbled, hung up on the exchange from a few moments back.
"We'll show you some time, it's so cute," Katara muttered, cleaning up the mess they'd created all over the bathroom floor.
"Oh. Sooo cute," Jane scoffed, dusting herself off and retrieving sweat pants from atop the toilet seat. "Sounds right up my alley..." Slipping into her sweatpants with smooth legs felt like a sliver of heaven in a strange way, though Jane was certainly not going to announce that.
"Speaking of cute," Katara mischievously segued. "We've got to get you cleaned up and work on your hair next..."
Another scrap was added to the waste basket beside Aang's desk as he set to work on trying again.
"Uhhh...Havin' some trouble with that origami there, Champ?" Sokka wondered, ironing out his pants on the 'community' ironing board he'd borrowed.
"I'm...gettin' there," Aang replied, lost in focus as he folded with precision and care.
"You sure Toph's even gonna give a damn?"
"Sure she will," Aang shrugged. "I'm making it for her. It'll be something she can actually feel. Ya know?"
"Oh, right...Guess so."
"You look like you're almost ready," Aang noticed, somewhat surprised. "It's still like...two hours before we have to go."
"I know," Sokka huffed. "I just love having an excuse to wear a suit. Don't you?"
Aang lifted a brow and considered the idea for a moment.
"No style, man...No class," Sokka dismissed with a chuckle.
"Well, I was just thinkin' of wearing some shorts, a button-down shirt, maybe-"
"Whaaaat?" Sokka shrieked, turning away from the mirror to glare his roommate down.
"Wh-? Er, Toph said she didn't care what I wore-"
"That doesn't mean you literally shouldn't care what you wear!" growled the boy in the navy-blue tuxedo. "Geeeezzz..."
"I don't really see what the big deal is, neither of us really care about appearances. And shorts are comfy."
"Aang, you do realize Toph is going to dress up all fancy for this, don't you?"
"Why would she do that? She never does that. Don't you remember the Spring Formal?"
"I know on good authority that she's actually going to be dressing up dressing up tonight."
Aang smiled and reflected on how Sokka would know that.
"Becaauuussse...Katara told you she's going to force Toph to dress up," he theorized.
"Uh, yea? If you think we're gonna let you two get away with being lazy-asses for a second dance in a row, you've got another thing comin', Buddy." He actually seemed somewhat ruffled by the matter, Aang observed, watching him fidget around with hos bow-tie. "Toph will kill you if she goes through the trouble of prettying up and you just show up looking like a bum."
"Sokka, I really don't think she-"
"I will kill you!" Sokka growled in exaggeration, shooting Aang the evil eye.
"You're just paranoid because you don't want to be embarrassed in front of Suki," Aang coyly guessed with an amused sigh, going back to his folding.
"A-pfff!" Sokka scoffed, stroking his chin hairs with care. He reached for his comb, grumbled, "That's not it. Why would that even matter?"
"Suki thinks we're all weirdos and you want us to act civilized for a change. Is that it?" Aang wondered with a wide grin.
"That's not true, Suki loves you guys," Sokka muttered, distracted by his chin as he ran his comb across it.
"Loves us enough to hardly have time for us lately," Aang pointed out with as much neutrality as he could, eyes fixated on his project.
"Ya know, Aang? College is a busy place. All right?"
Man. Sounds like I'm pressing a few buttons, huh? Probably shouldn't get him in a bad mood just before dinner...
"That's true. OK, well, what should I wear, then?"
"Don't you have dress pants?"
"I've got some khaki pants..."
"Oy. And you're not my shoe size, either...That won't do. I'm making you borrow a pair of my shoes."
"But you just said I'm not-"
"I've got some snappy little white things in the closet. Those oughtta do the trick. Be a little big on you, but still..."
"Uh, all right. I've also...got a tie."
"Oh, right. Yea, yea. That'll do, Donkey. That'll do."
Aang took a moment to glance at his recently finish creation: the black tie he'd purchased from the night before, with four colored circles painted vertically down its front to represent the four dorms of SRU.
"You've really got a thing for the campus logo, huh?"
"I do," Aang proudly acknowledged, finishing up his origami work. "I just gravitate toward the whole...'unity' thing. Ya know?"
"Heh. Ya fairy."
"Hey, you're the one who wears perfume and has a fit if his pants don't match his shirt, Sokka."
"The term is metro, thank you very much," he flamboyantly defined. "And it's cologne, Aang."
"You answer to Twinkle-Toes. That's not very manly, either, Bro."
"I don't comb my beard. Or wax my chest."
"You don't have a beard and don't wax because you don't have hair!"
"Toph doesn't seem to mind."
"I don't even wanna know."
"H-hey!" Aang sputtered, his face brightening. "It's not like that, we haven't done anything...like that!"
"Then how do you know what she does or doesn't mind?"
"'Cuz! It's not like...we haven't done anything, I mean..." He squinted his eyes shut for a split-second as his mind reeled with embarrassment. "This-this isn't the point!"
"Maybe tonight anything will become something?" Sokka teased.
"Wh-what? No! No! Nothing like that's gonna happen!" Aang insisted.
"Not in this room, it ain't!" declared Sokka with a hint of threat. "Seriously."
"Why do you think something like that will happen, anyway? What kinda guy do you think I am, huh?"
"Ha!" Sokka burst out. "You? Psh, Aang, you're like a freakin' cuddly panda-bear. I'm not worried about you."
Aang blinked for a few seconds, his face burning up with uncomfortable realization.
"Dude," Sokka continued, "I'm talking about your girlfriend. From what I can tell - and what my sister tells me - that girl probably screws like a tiger."
Aang's stomach lurched and a knot choked up his throat. Sokka snickered at his inability to comprehend how to reply until, at last, it came.
"Th-there's not gonna be any...any screwing...or...or tigers...Or any...wild...animals. Of any kind. Today."
"Heh. Maybe not for you," Sokka said with some satisfaction, inspecting his hair. He punctuated his remark with a snarky, "Twinkle-Toes."
"Shut up," Aang pouted. "Wait! What your sister tells you?"
"Yea! Like that night you slept over?"
"That-! We didn't...We didn't do anything bad!"
"I know that!" Sokka assured, amused by his defensive stance on the whole thing. "But the way that girl looks at you someti-...er..." He scratched his cheek for a moment to reorganize his thoughts. "The way Toph acts toward you sometimes, man...That girl's crazy. I'm tellin' ya."
"She can be," Aang nodded, taking a deep breath as he tried to collect himself. "It's one of the things I like about her."
Aang folded the next step in his paper craft as he explained.
"Toph does whatever she wants. She pushes me to do things I wouldn't normally do, but...usually I end up enjoying it. It's like she pushes me to do more with myself, I guess."
"Live life a little."
Aang admired his finished work: a life-size origami orchid. Katara had insisted that everyone pick a flower to wear to Homecoming and that she'd take care of them, but Aang had managed to request that she let him deal with Toph's. He was pretty certain she would have some appreciation for it, since it was at least something she could hold between her fingers.
"Suck the marrow outta life but don't choke on that bone, Bud," came Sokka's seemingly sage advice.
"I will certainly try, heh."
- February, 2010 -
"Come on, Aang. Live a little."
"I'm just...agh," he sighed uncomfortably. "This is just...it-it's awkward."
"Why?" Toph wondered in a tone much more gentle than she generally expressed.
"I'm all...I've, eh...Just never done this sorta thing before..."
"Aw," Toph chuckled. "I'll break ya in, Twinkle-Toes."
"That's what I'm afraid of," Aang confessed with humor.
"Don't worry about it, ya Scaredy-Baby. I'm not gonna kill ya."
"I know, I know..."
"Just gonna rough ya up a little. Hee."
"Hey!" Aang snickered, delivering a scolding slap to her back.
"OK, OK...Geez, you sound like you're actually scared I'm gonna hurt ya."
"You're a dangerous one, Toph. A guy's gotta be careful when it comes to you."
"Ain't that the truth?" Toph mused with pride.
"But I'm ready to...w-well, ya know. To try something new."
"Yea, you are, Aang," Toph picked with a laugh. "At least, part of you is, anyway." She sneakily shifted her position in such a way so as to brush against what was at this point already aroused. "It's not like we're doing anything that bad, anyway...Trust me. Going fast gets kind of boring. And besides, I haven't forgotten."
"Take it slow."
"Right, I'm takin' it slow," she insisted.
Aang took a deep, shaky breath. A soft giggle creapt out from Toph's lips before she planted a kiss on his forehead. Laying on her bed in Terra House, the bedroom door locked, Aang was nervous about what would happen next. He'd been very clear with Toph that he had never had a real girlfriend before and that he wasn't ready for anything too crazy yet. Toph had indeed been going at things at his pace, but now she was nudging him to take a step forward. It wasn't that he didn't enjoy the feeling of her weight on top of his, her chest pressed onto his own, her coy grin peeking through her dark bangs draped over his face. This was entirely enjoyable in its own right, it was simply...startling. New. Confusing. No clothes were to be removed - that was a rule they had both agreed upon. Aang had somehow thought this rule would make things easy but this theory was proving false. He couldn't decide if this was good or bad just yet.
"Yea. One step at a time."
"Sometimes a little push can be fun, though, right?" Toph teased, her unfocused eyes twinkling playfully.
"Sometimes," Aang acknowledged in a squeak as Toph's nose nuzzled its way under his chin and she kissed him slowly on the neck. It was at that moment that he made up his mind: this was a good thing. His hands resting comfortably across her back, he kissed her on the forehead.
- Saturday, October 16th, 2010 -
"How was that?"
"Looks good, guys," Mai replied from behind the camera.
"Sweet," said Sokka, rubbing Suki on the shoulder before they broke apart.
"I'm going to go head up and say hi to the girls," Suki explained. Sokka nodded and gave her a peck on the cheek.
"Sounds good, we'll see you up there." He dug into his pocket and pulled out some breath spray. After squirting some of its mist into his mouth, he clapped his hands together and rubbed them expectently. "C'mon, everybody, get in gear," Sokka cried, waving his arm to his friends as they gathered around. "Picture time."
"Just a sec," Katara called back to her brother, escorting Toph with a hooked arm. "Toph, what are you doing?"
"Takin' off these fuckin' shoes, what's it look like I'm doing?"
"But...I thought those looked pretty good on you..."
"Bleck. They're really hurting my feet."
"It's all right," Aang assured, "You look gorgeous."
"Do I, now?" Toph teased with a sly grin. "I'm not normally one for looks, so you'd better appreciate this, Twinkle-Toes."
"Kat did most of the work," Jane picked, hands tucked behind her back. "Sokka," she sighed, just now noticing his outfit. "What the hell are you wearing?"
"It's called a feh-dohr-rah!" Sokka informed with indignation. "You're wearing freakin' boots for crying out loud! No sense of fashion. I wouldn't expect someone with your unfortunately American sensibilities to understand."
"Sokka," Katara chuckled, "I don't really think people wear fedoras very much back in Canada."
"Yea, Meathead," Toph insulted in jest. "It's kind of an American gangster thing. Something your unfortunately Canadian sensibilities wouldn't understand."
Sokka frowned and jabbed a defensive finger at them, pondering his next words. "When in Rome," he decided simply as they arrived at his side. He cocked his hat over his eye and eased everyone together. Toph tossed her high-heels to the floor and Aang kicked them gently out of their way.
"Wow, Jane, you look...pretty," Aang complimented, just now noticing the girl in the slender black dress. Jane's already pink face turned red.
"I know, doesn't she?" Katara joined in, clasping the red-head's hand.
"I'll bet you do, JayBee," Toph added with a smirk.
"Th-thanks," Jane mumbled, her head bobbed in embarrassment, arms tucked at her side with balled up fists.
"You look really great, too, Katara," Aang added.
"Geez, Twinkle-Toes, lookit you!" Toph encouraged. "Surrounded by lovely ladies tonight, eh?" She ruffled her fingers through his hair, tugging on his ear. He tickled her armpit in retaliation. "Just remember which one's the loveliest of them all."
"You mean Kat?" Jane joked.
"Huh?" Katara mumbled, confused.
"Let me rephrase that," Toph decided. "Remember which one will kick your ass the hardest."
"Aaaand that's me," Jane insisted.
"Shit," Toph grumbled. "Damnit, Jane, I'm trying to impose my superiority here and you're just fuckin' it right up, ya know?" They shared a collective chuckle as Aang puckered his lips on Toph's cheek.
"It's all right, Tater-Face, you're my favorite. Is that good enough?"
"I guess that's fine for now."
"All right, all right, quit bickering and line up, people," Sokka commanded, wedging his rose into his teeth as he put his arm on his sister's shoulder. The photographer raised an amused brow at them as they stood, side-by-side.
"You guys finally ready?" she laughed.
"Yea, Mai," Aang declared. "Go ahead."
Katara caught a glance at her brother as he pointed his arm out to the camera with some egotistical and sexual flair.
"Oh, my God," she giggled to herself in disbelief.
With his casual white button-down shirt and dark green khaki pants, Aang looked a tad out of place amongst his company, but his black, SRU-themed tie and the orange lily pinned to his chest helped 'class him up' a bit, as Sokka had put it. The white dress shoes on his feet were a bit large on him, but Sokka insisted that slightly long shoes were better than intentionally long sneakers for this type of event.
Toph was adorned in a Chinese-style dress of green with a sash around the waist. It hugged her form nicely with a tube-top and a skirt that ended just above her knees. An elegant golden print of flowers was draped across the dress's side. Katara had helped her pick out the dress and had assured her that the tone, shape, and color matched her well. Across her neck rested an heirloom passed from her late grandmother: a necklace composed of sparkling threads of pearl and diamond. Nestled in her hair was a white, origami orchid, which she had previously described as "Freakin' awesome, Twinkle-Toes!" Her hair was wound into two painstakingly tight braids that fell over her collarbones.
In the middle stood Jane, her feet somewhat pigeon-toed from the shock of everything, her tall, black boots and their many tight laces in stark contrast to the dress she was wearing. She gripped Katara and Toph's hands with reservation, clearly uncomfortable in this public setting. Her expression was dire and flushed with embarrassment. A black dahlia was tied to her left arm above the elbow, but her arms and shoulders were otherwise bare, their pale skin and freckled shoulders out in the open for all to see.
Katara was adorned in a slim blue dress of satin that trailed all the way down to her ankles, her feet slipped into dark blue high heels. Her mother's choker necklace was affectionately worn with a pair of white princess gloves. A white rose was tied around her left wrist, while her right hand was clenching Jane's left. Her hair was tidied up with a pair of braids that ran from her bangs across the sides of her head, while she had perked up a small, vertical bun of hair at the peak, letting the rest fall over her shoulders.
Sokka, a rose popping out from between his teeth, wore a sly grin with his fedora propped over his head. His navy-blue tuxedo with white undershirt and black tie were quite sharp, while his black loafers melded into the ensemble without difficulty. He had one leg crossed and pointed on its toes to accentuate the 'gangster' vibe he seemed to be aiming for.
Their moment in time captured in pixels on Mai's camera, they were dismissed.
"'Kay. Done. Next!"
As Mai called the next group of students to take their photos, the Fearsome Fivesome proceeded to the cafeteria steps. A large Homecoming banner was draped over its entrance, with multicolored balloons in bunches of four tied to various portions of the rails.
"WOOOO!" Toph roared, thrusting up her arms. "HOMECOMING, here we...come! All right, Twinkle-Toes, piggyback time!"
"Whaaa?" Aang gasped out as Toph pounded herself into his back, latching her arms across his chest. Aang managed to catch her legs as she kicked them up around his waist, his face flushed.
"Yip-Yip!" Toph commanded, flicking her palm against his pectoral.
"Hi-Ho!" Sokka decreed, pumping his fist, following the piggybacking couple up the steps to the cafeteria.
"Toph!" Katara shouted. "Don't ruin your dress! Argh, you forgot your shoes!" But they were already gone. "Sorry," Katara sighed to Mai, who replied with an amused, "It's OK." Katara bent down, carefully balanced on her own heels, to pick up the ones Toph had left behind before she rushed out of the way of the new batch of students dressed in their finest.
"Why do I get the feeling I am not going to forget Homecoming this year?" Jane mused, scratching her head in bewilderment.
"Because you're with us," Katara cheerfully concluded, patting her friend on the shoulder.
"Where did everyone else go?" Jane grumbled, entirely flustered. "Your date? My date?"
"Haru and Johnny headed up after we got our pictures with them," Katara explained.
"Oh, God, fuckin' pictures," Jane winced, rubbing her forehead, worried a headache was going to crawl along. "I probably look retarded."
"It's fine, Hun, haha. Calm down. You look great."
Jane crossed her arms over her chest in a nearly protective manner, trying to keep her guts from squirming and her face from boiling.
"Thanks, I guess..."
"Come on, Jane, the way Johnny was eying you? He was floored!"
"Ya think?" Jane's lips curled up into a slight smile. She had thought as much but Katara seemed to know more about these things, so her confirmation was assuring.
"Totally! I think even Aang and Sokka were checking you out a little."
"Now you're just jerkin' my chain, Kat."
"Seriously! No, I'm telling you. I think you caught 'em by surprise. You look really different than usual today. It works."
Jane hadn't noticed either of the guys 'checking her out,' but then again, she fancied herself blissfully unaware of observing this kind of thing. The odd butterflies in her stomach that were forming as a result of this entire "dressing up" fiasco were frightening and awkward. She simply couldn't decide if she was happy to be looked at more as a girl than usual or if it was discouraging in its objectification - like she could only be considered a 'girl' if she dressed like one.
"So I should start wearing fuckin' skirts and tube tops now," Jane bitterly concluded as they trekked up the stairs.
"Oh. N-no, Jane. No, no. That's not...-" Katara shook her head, rubbing her hand across Jane's shoulders - which inherently reminded her of how many freckles were showing on them. "You look perfect no matter what you wear, I'm just saying that when it comes to something...you know, super formal like...like this...that I think it's great for you to dress up. Doesn't it feel kind of nice?"
Jane rolled her eyes and shrugged Katara's hand off of her.
"I don't know, Kat...This feels fuckin' weird."
"You don't...-" Katara sighed, tapping her chin thoughtfully. "You're not enjoying yourself?"
Jane groaned in spite of herself and rubbed at her orange eyebrow.
"N-no, I'm having fun and crap, it's...just weird. Listen," she grumbled, "Don't worry about it, 'kay? It's my own problem. I'll get over it."
"Hey," Katara gently insisted. "Jane, you're beautiful just the way you are. I just...wanted to help you bring that out tonight. Make everyone else see it."
Jane avoided Katara's hopeful sapphire eyes, wrestling with her own uncomfortable thoughts as her face began to brighten again.
"Yea, Kat. I get it. Thanks." She was jolted by a gloved hand nudging at her shoulder.
"Just go with the flow, JayBee. Let's have some fun tonight. Stop worrying about your looks - no one else is..."
Jane cracked a smile and shrugged with a "'Kay."
A/N: Yes. Black Dahlia. Seemed oddly appropriate. The song Toph plays is 'She's Always a Woman' by Billy Joel. ALSO! Please check out this amazing piece of art I commissioned Hoodsun to do. It depicts the characters in their photo scene!