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A/N: This chapter was delayed due to life being crazy as I get ready to move, writing a very condensed Pokemon one-shot, and a particularly difficult scene to write, which I am actually going to save for next chapter. I will start warning you guys of 'music' scenes ahead of time. This chapter has one in the last scene (Thursday), link at the end of the chapter.

What I Learned at SRU
Chapter 28 - Hold

- Tuesday, November 16th, 2010 -

"What? You guys don't want to meet him now, or something?"

["Toph, Dear, we didn't say that, we-"]

"I finally have a boyfriend I really care about, and you guys refuse to meet him."

["Thanksgiving is a family holiday, Toph, we want time to focus on each other, not-"]

"What? Excuse me? He is like my family, thank you very much! And if we stay together then eventually he will be your family, too!"

["Dear, your father and I just worry that if this boy comes with you it'll give you an excuse to avoid the rest of the Beifongs..."]

"For fuck's sake..."

["And aside from that, at this point in time, he is not a Beifong, regardless of any future intentions to might have."]

"Whatever, Mom. He's more my family than you ever have been..."

["You may feel that way, Toph. But I am still your mother, and I do not permit you to bring that boy with you to our house. Perhaps some other time we can-"]

"His name is Aang, and he's coming, or I'm not."

"Yikes," grumbled Jane with her reknowned deadpan tone. "Thanksgiving with the Beifongs isn't gonna be pleasant, huh?"

"Fucking ass," Toph swore in a huff, stomping her foot as she sat in her chair, laid back lazily. She carelessly chucked her phone to her bed, and it bounced on the mattress, landing safely by her pillow. "I've never been able to bring anyone home with me. Ever. It's bullshit. Like no one's good enough for my tight-ass family."

"Hmm..." Katara sighed thoughtfully, tapping her pen against her chin as she stared at a worksheet. She scribbled an answer onto a blank space. "I hope you can get things worked out with them...I really think it might be good for them to meet Aang, and maybe it could be a time for you to, like...stand up to them. Make amends. Ya know?"

"Oh, I'll stand up to them, all right," growled Toph, her knee bouncing impatiently. "I'm taking Twinkles with me, or I'm not going."

"W-well, I meant...-" Katara exchanged glances with Jane, biting her lip. "Maybe you could try and sort things out with them so that...this kind of thing doesn't happen anymore. Like, come to an agreement."

"What?" Toph calmly demanded. "Sugar-Queen, I think my ears need to be cleaned, 'cuz I thought I heard you say-"
"They do need to be cleaned, you're disgusting."
"Shut up, Freckle-Face," Toph bluntly tossed away the effort at humor before continuing. "I thought I heard Katara here say that I should try and come to an agreement with my parents."

"It-it was just a suggestion," Katara fumbled in a rush, swiftly regretting having said anything. "I just think it might not be best if you go around...burning bridges with your family, is all."

"Pff," Jane spat. "Worked out fine for me."

Katara shot a dagger glance at the red-head, a sarcastic 'Thanks for encouraging her,' coming through her expression. Jane rolled her eyes and shrugged, plainly apathetic about the entire situation.

"Ya know, Katara," Toph grumbled, "Not everyone has such a fucking wonderful little family like you do where we can just up and invite random people over for Thanksgiving, and kids and their parents all get along, and-"

"You still have a mother," Katara countered with some aggression, cutting Toph rant off. "You should appreciate that she's even around, that she even wants you to come for Thanksgiving with the way you treat her!"

Toph stomped up from her chair, her milky white eyes ablaze and intent but unfocused. She slammed her bare foot against the carpet, cocking her head to the side.

"The way I treat her? She asks for it! If they're going to act like I'm some God damned dog on a leash, I'm gonna fuckin' bite them back!"

"Your parents are probably so protective because they actually care about you," hissed Katara, jabbing her finger out with indignation. "Maybe they overdo it, sure, but...but you should be grateful you even have them looking out for you!"

"Yea, Dead-Eyes," Jane muttered. "'Cuz ya obviously can't look out for yourself..." She was intending to try and lighten the mood with her dry humor still, but based on the steam that practically blasted through both girl's nose's, she was making things worse.

"Thanks, Jane, that's just what I need right now, having that rubbed in my face."

"I'm sorry, Toph," Jane sighed, attempting to be solemn this time. "I'm just trying to-"

"I'd rather my parents died knowing they loved me and wanted me to make my own choices than have them stalking me, trying to lock me in a cage."

Now Jan was scowling, her arms crossed as she sat on Katara's bed. She dropped any sympathy she had been trying to express like a stone.

"I'm startin' to side with Kat on this one," she huffed. "Maybe you oughtta reconsider that you have parents. Period. 'Cuz I sure as hell wish mine were still around and they're not."

Toph's hands were stuck to her hips, her foot thumping grouchily as she tolerated her friend's words.

"At least you have a chance to fix things with them," Jane concluded. "Me and Kat? We've got nothin' to fix. They're gone."

Toph's defenses crippled, her offense deflected, she uttered out a "Urgh..." as she grabbed her guitar from its post by the foot of her bed and stormed out of the room. She whacked her toes on Katara's bed upon exiting and groaned, slapping her hand against the doorway edge in a fit before flying down the hall.

"Damn, what crawled up that girl's ass today?" Jane wondered with irritation.

"I don't even know," Katara sighed. "I get where she's coming from with her parents - they really don't sound like the nicest people - but I think she overreacts about it."

"For fuck's sake, they pamper her like a baby. She has a silver spoon stuck so far down her throat she's entitled to act like some over-protection is the most horrible thing..."

Katara pinched at her temples and breathed out. "I'm sorry you got mixed into that..."

"I don't take bullshit from people," Jane put it simply with a shrug, fuming. "I love that girl, but she needs to grow the fuck up. Lot worse things can happen to a person..." Jane flinched when Katara's hand clasped her arm. She loosened her muscles and let the assuring hand remain.

"Yea. I know, Jane," mumbled Katara darkly. "I'm sorry..." Katara squeezed with sympathy.

Jane sucked in a trembling breath as memories trickled through the cracks of her mind.

"Not your fault. Don't apologize." The red-head scratched her hand at an itch within her shaggy, greasy mat of orange. "I've got half a mind to tell that crazy bitch a few things that'll make 'fuck my life' have a whole new meaning."

"Dad said 'yes.'" Sokka closed his phone with a wide grin from Toph's chair, ogling her keyboard.

"Wh-...? R-really?" Katara mumbled, flabbergasted. "But...But do we even have room for that many people?"

"We're going to be having Thanksgiving with the grandparents," Sokka clarified with some satisfaction. "So...Yea. We will have the room."

"I-I dunno, Sokka, it just sounds...weird."

"What's so weird about it? It'll be like an extended family party. It'll just be bigger than a usual Thanksgiving."

Katara nodded, her eyes wandering as she saw the upside of his argument.

"I guess I'd just be worried about putting so much stress on Dad for a long weekend like that."

"He said 'yes,' Sis. Frankly, I think the poor guy's been feelin' kinda lonely up there these days."

"Hm..." Katara sighed and shrugged. "I guess I see your point."

"Besides, we're not kids, it's not like he's gonna have to babysit us."

Katara raised a humored brow his way, folding her arms across her chest.

"All of us? In one place for a whole weekend? You do realize how childish we act, don't you?"

"Pff." Sokka tossed his arm, shaking his head. "You do realize we're talking about our Dad, don't you?" he retorted.

Katara rolled her eyes, tucking loose hair behind her ears.

"Ohhhh, our Dad..."

"It'll be awesome."

"Yea, I know," Katara conceded. "I'm just concerned about the details, and, like...Toph's parents, for example. I feel like they wouldn't really want her coming with us."

"Hell with 'em," Sokka easily wrote of the proposition. "What are they gonna do, right?"

"Right," Katara agreed with some reluctance and a nervous laugh.

"Sis, you're over-analyzing this. Stop finding the cracks in my brilliant plan for once, huh?"

"Wh-what? I'm...I'm not over-analyzing this!"

She received pale, dulled eyes, lids half closed. They were unconvinced.

"I'm not," Katara insisted. "I'm just worried about Toph's relationship with her parents, I really think-"

"See what I mean? Worry-worry-worry. Sis, sis, sis..." Sokka wrapped his arm over her shoulder, lamentably shaking his head. "Toph's problem is her problem, not yours. You can't fix it." Katara, now annoyed from the fire she was under, squirmed out of her brother's gesture.

"But I can help her fix it herself, can't I?"

"It's not your business, you should stay out of it."

"Fine, fine, whatever," moaned Katara, swiping her arm through the air to cut off the topic. "I think too much and I care too much and it's not my business and I should just leave her alone and not even bother trying to-"
"Whoa-whoa-whoa, hey. Breather. Simmer down."

Katara, eyes squinted shut with irritation, pulled in air and released.

"No, I didn't take my medication last night, all right?" she grumbled.

"I...I didn't ask, Sis," Sokka sighed as Katara paced back and forth. "You want some chocolate, or something?"

Katara began to growl but her words cut short. "No, Sokka, I don't want some-...!" Her fists clenched at her sides, Katara's eyes lashed out, only to pop open before dulling themselves down. Her hands opened, her shoulders relaxed, and she sat herself down on her bed with a groan. "Y-yea...Actually, that sounds pretty good right now...Please."

"OK. I'll go get ya some..." Sokka hopped from the chair and walked by, running his hand across his sister's head, scratching it with warm concern.

"Thanks," Katara made sure to say as he vanished from the room.

She leaned over, her shoulders and back aching, and grabbed her phone from next to her computer.

[From: Aang]
[hey, did somethin happen? toph is really really grouchy and wont tell me why... _ ]
[Sent: 2:14pm]

[To: Aang]
[She's upset about her parents. They apparently don't want you to come for Thanksgiving break.]
[Sent: 4:13pm]

[From: Suki]
[are we not practicing tomorrow night now? i thought everything was all set but i ran into toph a bit ago and she said she's not coming?]
[Sent: 3:25pm]

[To: Suki]
[UGH. She's just being fickle today, she's dealing with family stuff and I think Jane and I got her mad. I'm sure she'll come around.]
[Sent: 4:15pm]

[From: Suki]
[today? she seems fickle -every- day..:P]
[Sent: 4:16pm]

"Hey, who ya talkin' to?"

"Aang. Suki. I guess Toph's been giving them trouble, too..." Katara smiled as a Caramello was dropped into her lap. "Thanks a lot, Sokka."

"No prob, Sis. Cheer up, geez. You have chocolate now."

"Haha. I sure do."

[From: Aang]
[yea i already knew that part. i meant what happened with YOUguys. she's pretty mad. O_O; ]
[Sent: 4:17pm]

[To: Aang]
[~sigh~ Sorry, Jane and I think she's acting kind of immature about it and tried suggesting that she try working things out.]
[Sent: 4:18pm]

"What are you sighing about over there?" Sokka sneakily accused, fiddling with keys on Toph's keyboard and generating random chords. "Wh-? You haven't even opened your chocolate yet? Damnit all! God. What are you, stupid? Eat it!"

Katara, eyes rolling, closed her phone and set it aside, sticking her tongue out at her brother as she tore open the wrapper, breaking off a piece and popping it into her mouth. She cracked open the sweet shell and it exploded into a splash of caramel.

"That's right!" Sokka bellowed dramatically, pointing a finger. "Eat that candy and feel better about yourself, woman!"

Katara had to hand it to him: her brother knew how to pacify her when she was stressed, whether it was a mental breakdown or an exam or trouble with her roommate. She found herself reflecting on how grateful she was for that, and yet still worried that perhaps she didn't work as hard as she could in return when he was feeling down. As she chewed on another piece of her Caramello, she made a mental note to dedicate herself to trying harder the next time he seemed down.

Katara was swiftly jolted back to the events around her when a familiar voice growled from behind, entering the room.

"Who the hell is touching my keyboard?"

"Yipe!" squeaked Sokka, immediately switching it off, eyes wide at fearful at the gaze of the girl in the gray sweater whose angry face was pointed in his general direction.

"What are you doing with my stuff, Sokka?" Toph hissed.

"I was-I just-it was sitting there, and I-"

Toph marched forward and slammed her fist into his pectoral, cutting him off.

"Get off!"

Sokka rapidly obeyed her command without question, removing himself from her chair as she whipped at his shin with her walking stick.

"Ow! Hey!" he snapped in retort. She ignored him, slinging her guitar off her back and setting it at the foot of her bed before ramming herself into her chair at the keyboard. "What's your problem?" Sokka grumbled, rubbing chest with a pout. Again, he received the cold shoulder as she plugged in her massive headphones and propped them over her ears, seamlessly commencing with some practice.

Sokka stared at her in disbelief for a moment, scratching his scruffy chin. He spun to his sister and gave her an aghast shrug. She flashed him an expression of expected disapproval at Toph's attitude, biting her lip as she contemplated what to do.

"Toph," Katara blurted. Sokka could see the fire in her eyes, so he backed up, quietly sitting himself on Toph's messy bed. There was, of course, no reply, merely the thm-thm-thm of fingers pressing down plastic keys. Katara groaned, rose to her feet, and swooped over to Toph, staring down at her oblivious face. Katara primly pressed her finger into the power button on the keyboard, and it clicked off. Toph's face boiled with irritation and she tore off her headphones, slapping them against her keyboard's speaker.

"Stop fucking around, Sokka, I'm not in the mood!"

"It wasn't me! It wasn't me!" was Sokka's immediate, squeaking defense.

"Toph, what is your issue today?" Katara demanded firmly.

"My issue-" Toph proceeded to vent, storming to her feet, shoving her chair back. "-is that everyone is getting on my fucking case! Back off!"

"Back off?" snipped Katara. "I was trying to do that, but you keep giving everyone else trouble!"

"Maybe if you weren't so damn neurotic about keeping everyone happy, and left everyone in peace, it would sort itself out!"

"Are you seriously trying to make me out to be the bad guy because I care about everyone?"

"You're obsessive, you're not our fucking mother, or our doctor, or our psychiatrist! Stop trying to fucking fix-fix-fix everything!" Toph fidgeting her hands around impulsively.

"Oh! I'm sorry," Katara quipped, oozing sarcasm, hands digging into her hips. "You think I should be more like you? Like some...some freaking wild child, who just...does whatever she wants?"

"Yea, maybe!" countered Toph, her arms crossed.

Sokka whimpered from the corner of the room, rubbing the back of his neck wih doubt. Why was he here? How could he escape? The girls were blocking the middle of the room...Two bulls, snorting our steam, ready to charge.

"Ya know what? I get it," Katara pricked. "You're acting like this because of your parents."

Toph's face drained slightly, and the Kesuks could see a tinge of regret seep through the milky white eyes, drizzling across her face between strands of black hair.

"...Whatever," Toph grunted, huffing a gust of air that tossed her draping bangs around.

"They were controlling over you," Katara analyzed, pointing out her finger as her mind pieced together her argument, "So as soon as you were able to go to college, you took off, and now you act like your parents don't even exist." Toph shrugged at Katara's observations. "You act like they're such jerks, like you hate them - but you don't, do you? You just feel guilty."

Toph, obviously displeased with the patronizing lecture, flopped back into her seat, still sour-faced.

"I do hate them," she insisted, her confidence now stripped away.

"I don't think so," Katara concluded. "I think you want their approval - you want their acceptance. I think you miss them. You wish they were proud of you, that they respected you. You feel like they're ashamed of you. But you're too stubborn, and you won't confront them about it. You don't want to deal with any of this, so instead, you try pinning it all on them, turn them into villains, and then whenever it gets brought up, you act like this...this crazy person!"

"Piss off, Katara." The words dribbled out of Toph's lips half-heartedly. She regained some momentum and launched a retaliation. "I'm crazy? Who's the one who needs to take meds here, huh?" Katara's eyes burned with indignation at Toph's retort. "Psychoanalyzing me - yea, thanks, that makes me feel so much better. I'm not a kid. Christ..."

"No, Toph, you aren't a kid. So grow up and stop acting like one!"

"Great idea, Mom! I'll get right on that!"

"So, are you going to stomp off like usual?" Katara rhetorically insulted. "Run away from me because I'm telling you that you're acting immature? Because you refuse to try solving your own problems?"

"I get your fucking point!" roared Toph, tossing her arms up. "God, shut up, I'm not your charity case!"



Sokka, shoulders stuck up with fright, eyed both side of the cat-fight, assessing his odds of escape. The tension was so thick he felt like he'd need a chainsaw to get through it.

"Speaking of 'fine'!" he blurted sheepishly, hopping up from Toph's bed. "I'm gonna make like a tree and get something to drink..." He pranced his way out in a rush and closed the door - which had been open the entire time - as he exited.

Toph forced her headphones back on her head, squished her chubby finger into the power button on her keyboard, and went back to practicing. Katara sighed, ate another piece of Caramello, and opened her laptop, accessing YouTube.

- Wednesday, November 17th, 2010 -

"You don't get it, Mom!" Toph squealed. "I'm sick of feeling this way! You guys act like I'm this pathetic little girl who can't take care of herself, but I can!"

Aang groaned, slamming his forehead onto the table. It was a busy evening at Appa's, and Toph's irate phone discussion was drawing attention.

"Maybe you oughtta help her go somewhere private," Jane suggested in a mumble with a shrug. Aang nodded in concession and dragged himself out of his seat. He stared as Toph went on and took a slurp of his milkshake.

"I'm not running off on my own, Mom, I'd be going to spend the break with my friends!" Toph defended her proposal with irritation hanging on every word. "No, I won't need any transportation, they'd be driving me...Noooo, they are not shady people, they're my fucking friends, Mom! I don't hang out with drug-dealers or rapists, or something! Christ..."

"Hey, uh...-" Aang made motion to interrupt Toph, who was now in the hallway, pacing back and forth, running her hand along the ridged concrete wall of the ACC's basement.

"I told you, Mom - I fucking told you - I refuse to be a part of this family holiday if you refuse to treat me and my boyfriend like we're actually family!"

Aang took a deep breath and wedged his hands in his pockets, propping his back against the wall and watching Toph wander across the tiled floor in her bare feet. When her anger wasn't directed at him, it was cute to see her eyes ignite, her nose wrinkle, and the intricate gestures she'd make in her fury. Her hair was dropped loose today, and Aang appreciated the way it trickled down her back.

"Wh-? No, I don't want...Ugh..." She pounded her fist meaninglessly into the wall. "Hey, Dad," she grunted. "I'm not in the mood for-...But-...I just told Mom that-..." She kept trying to squirm her way in, and Aang could hear some shouting from the other line - firm, clear, formal scolding. He found himself relieved that he wouldn't be meeting these people anytime soon, if only for all of the obvious issues that would come up. "No. You want me to come visit? Then you can let me take my boyfriend, and I'll come right over, OK?...All right, fine...Fine...Yea, OK." Having made her rounds, Toph's wall-traveling hand hit Aang. She paused for a moment, working her hand across his chest in a way that demonstrated she knew full well it was him. "Then I guess we'll see what happens then, but right now, my mind is made up, and you can't change it." She sighed and leaned herself into Aang, one hand still on his chest, the other keeping the phone held up.

Jane poked her head around the corner to see the two of them pressed against each other and flashed Aang a lifted brow that read 'Wow, really?' before shaking her head and disappearing back behind the wall.

"Whatever, Dad. You guy never listen to me. You can't make me visit if I don't want to, give me some fucking space, I can see you guys for Christmas, all right?" More yelling. "No-...That doesn't-...Ugh!" Toph bumped her forehead against the wall above Aang's shoulder as he offered sympathy by rubbing her back. "Yea? Well, I'd like to see ya try." [Beep.] She closed the phone and stuck it in her jean pocket.

"Great talk with the folks, huh?"

"Like always..."

"Hey, don't worry. We'll have a good time. And maybe you and your parents just need some space, ya know? I'm sure by Christmastime they'll realize how they're acting-"

"No, Aang, they won't." Toph thumped her head again. "It's always been this way, it always will."

"O-OK, well...Just tryin' to be optimistic."

"Yea, I know."

"Let's go finish dinner, huh?" Aang rubbed Toph's hips roughly, trying to shake her from her daze.


- Thursday, November 18th, 2010 -

["Hey."] It was Katara. She did not sound pleased. As expected. ["Um...So. I just got back from practice. Suki was not happy that you weren't there. Just thought I'd warn you. Listen, I know you're avoiding me, Toph. Since you won't let me say it to your face I guess this will have to do. I'm sorry. OK? I really am sorry. I still stand by a lot of what I said, but...that doesn't mean it was right to throw it out at you like that. Can we please talk this out later? I guess I'll...hear from you when I hear from you."]

Toph sighed and closed her phone. She had been holding off listening to the voicemail all day, but found herself relieved that she had. If only she'd listened to it earlier, she could've sorted out any awkwardness right then. Now she'd have to deal with it later that night with a tired, studied-out roommate. But right now, she had to clear her mind, because none of that mattered. She stuck her phone in her pocket as she stepped onto the cool, flat wooden paneling of the small stage. Right now, what mattered was that wood beneath her toes, the stool she found her way to, the smell of coffee thick in the air, the murmurings of attendees, and the feeling of her darling instrument between her hands.

"~Yea, I'll~tell you something~"

She strummed at her strings with conviction, the pace slow and methodical, in a lower key to play bass for the intro.

"~I think you'll understand~"

Her words poured out the very feelings she refused to show earlier.

"~When I~say that something~"

The truth Katara saw that she had been denying.

"~I wanna hold your hand~"

Arms reached out. They stretched, her toes flexed out to prop up and meet her.

"Mommy? Mommy?"

"~I wanna hold your hand~"

"Mommy is busy, Dear."

The cold kitchen tiles against her feet. The voice fading away as it called out.

"~I wanna hold your hand~"


"Yes, Mistress?"

"Could you please look after my Darling for a while?"

"~Oh, please~say to me~"

Her hands exploded on the strings and played chords now instead of instruments, the notes splashing through the air before her, leaking out melancholic memories through the cracks.

"~You'll let me be your man~"

"But-but Dad, I can do it! I can!"

"Toph, it's too dangerous. I can't let you."

"~And please~say to me~"

"Mom, could you do my hair for me?"

"~You'll let me hold your hand~"

"I'm sorry, Dear, I'm occupied. Oh, but...Hm. I see. Madison, Dear?"


"Help tidy this girl's hair. It's quite a mess today."

"~Now let me hold your hand~

Arms reached out. They stretched, her fingers grasping for his attention.

"~I wanna hold your hand~"

"I'm sorry, Toph, but I have a lot of paperwork I need to take care of today."

"I know, Dad, I just...-"


I just want a hug.

"Nothin'. I'll go ask Madison..."

"~And when I touch you~I feel~"

The tight dress against her bosoms, her was rather uncomfortable. Her hair tucked in a bun, the hard shoes housing her toes...she couldn't stand it.


But her hands were clasped in theirs. Her parents walked her into the banquet hall, their daughter between them.


She felt as if, for once, they were actually proud to have her in their presence, displaying themselves as a family in public.

"~It's such a feeling that my love~"

Aang's earlobe between her lips.

"~I can't hide~"

Sokka's hand ruffling her hair.

"~I can't hide~"

Jane's forehead acne under her palm.

"~I can't hide~"

Katara's concerned embrace.

"~Yea, you~You got that something~"

The smell of chocolate chip cookies, her rickety voice humming along to the song.

"~I think you'll understand~"

"I love you, Grammy-Gram."

"Why, that is quite a coincidence, my Muffin - because I happen to love you, too."

"~When I~feel that something~"

Dry, wrinkled skin against her fingertips. Wet, fat lips smooshing her cheeks lovingly.

"~I wanna hold your hand~"

"You act like they're such jerks, like you hate them - but you don't, do you? You just feel guilty."

"~I wanna hold your hand~"

"But you're too stubborn, and you won't confront them about it."

"~I wanna hold your hand~"

I'm your own daughter and you won't even touch me, you won't let me take care of my own things, but you won't take care of me yourselves, either...

"~I wanna hold your hand~"

Toph strummed the final chord, and the room burst into applause. Her insides torn, her eyes threatening to drip from the unknown mysteries that were worming their way out against her will, she raised her hands to express acceptance of their praise, slung her guitar over her back, and carefully wandered off stage as the smattering died down. She fumbled for her walking stick, thankfully right where she had left it, and briskly found her way out of the Jasmine Dragon.

"Wow," muttered a short blonde boy, scratching his head, staring at her as she passed through the glass double doors and up the stairs. "Pipsqueak, didn't she seem familiar to you?"

"Uh..." Pipsqueak ran his hand across his rough black hair. "Hm. Yea, The Duke. Sure looks familiar to me. Isn't she one of those people from Smellerbee's gang?"

"Right! Yes, of course...And she was in the band at FestivALL, as well..."

"Toph Beifong, right?" came the voice of Jin, the clerk behind the counter who was preparing The Duke's drink. "Yep, that was her all right."

"She's st-...Just...It's stunning-" The Duke murmured, impressed, "-how well she can perform without any sense of sight."

"You're telling me," Jin agreed, drizzling whipped topping onto the beverage. "She comes here every Thursday Night for Open Mic, and every time she's like she's really just pouring her soul into it, ya know?"

"Yea," confirmed Pipsqueak. "She seemed real sad..."

"She did," Jin lamented with a shrug, passing The Duke's freshly brewed drink. "I live across the hall from her, and her and her roommate have been arguing a lot lately. From what my roommate tells me, that girl's got a lot on her plate."

"Well, she's a talented musician," observed the blond boy, straightening his tie as he stepped aside and let Pipsqueak take his order.

Jin smiled and bobbed her head to the side thoughtfully. "They say good music comes from the heart."

A/N: Song in the last scene is "I Want To Hold Your Hand" by (of course) The Beatles, specifically, the arrangement from Across the Universe.


[link]<--Previous Chapter
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[link]<-<--Chapter 1

Toph's having a grouchy week.

Thumbnail is from this SRU art by :iconhoodsun:

This isn't the exact scene I imagine for the drawing, BUT it is the same setting and a similar tone.

Anyway, hope you enjoy this chapter.
Certain bits of dialogue are very much drawn from the episode "The Runaway." =)
Add a Comment:
ThoughtsandWonders Featured By Owner Feb 3, 2015
Kind of ironic that song was supposed to be pretty joyful
NatureAnimalCAD Featured By Owner Dec 19, 2012  Student General Artist
Btw great chapter
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Dec 19, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
NatureAnimalCAD Featured By Owner Dec 19, 2012  Student General Artist
youur welcome
NatureAnimalCAD Featured By Owner Dec 19, 2012  Student General Artist
May I ask why u made it that the duke has blonde hair?
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Dec 19, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Same reason Smellerbee's Irish and Jet's Hispanic: ethnic diversity.
NatureAnimalCAD Featured By Owner Dec 19, 2012  Student General Artist
oh ok cool
thetaleof2sisters Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2012
I knew that it was "Runaway" dialouge ..........:) One of my favorite episodes!
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
One of mine, as well, so various parts of it do get referenced throughout the story.
Violet789897 Featured By Owner Sep 4, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
I literally got shivers when I was reading that last part. Just... Amazing.
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Sep 4, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Thanks, I'm glad you enjoyed it.
celinejoynj Featured By Owner Aug 30, 2012  Student General Artist
awwww. I was literally tearing up during the song. i love toph. oh and when she was on the phone leaning against aang? cutest. freaking. thing. ever. ahhhhhh.
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Aug 30, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Heh, thanks. =) I actually really liked that bit, too.
Midnight4568 Featured By Owner Mar 9, 2012
Commenting as I read.
Poor Aang, he'll have to deal with the Bei Fongs if Toph drags him to spend Thanksgiving with her family.
XD, Sokka's all like "Cheer up, you have chocolate."
Right there, Sokka reminds me of one of my friends. Randomess and being dramatic and everything.
I see some conversation snippets from "The Runaway."
D'awwww, The Duke likes Toph. A bunch of people seem to like that shipping, even if it might be one-sided.
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Mar 9, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Wow, you seemed to immediately catch on to the Duke having a thing for Toph in this story - maybe because in WFTE I hinted at that, as well, so the idea was already in your head in regards to my writing? xD Unlike WFTE, though, this particular element has a more interesting role in SRU...
Kawayui-Kage Featured By Owner Jun 10, 2011  Student Digital Artist
I pictured her singing a version more like this one. I know it's 'basically' the same thing, but this one to me has more feeling. Still a hint of romanticism (when you're not watching it) but also the companionship she feels ----> [link]
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Jun 11, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
HAHA that's funny you linked that - it was overhearing my ex watch that exact song that inspired me to also make it relate to parents, like it does there in the show. You found me out. =P

That specific interpretation of the song was exactly what landed it in SRU in the exact way it did. I was originally thinking of using it for a romantic context but I needed something that would convey Toph's longing with her parents and that song was even a Beatles song, to boot, so it hit the right note with me, especially with the emphasis of "holding" because touch is very important to Toph, being blind as she is.
Kawayui-Kage Featured By Owner Jun 11, 2011  Student Digital Artist
Kewlio :D I was looking at the link you provided and I was like "that is was to brass and unfeeling for that to be Toph in that scene." Whooo for going with instincts!
7StepsToHell Featured By Owner Apr 30, 2011
Well, took me long enough to come back and start reading again haha

Cool chapter, Toph definitely got some issues :p

Now if you'll excuse me, Ive got some catching up to do! :D
queenfrogge78 Featured By Owner Mar 22, 2011
i hate toph's parents :(
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Mar 22, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
We'll definitely be dealing with them more very soon. ^^;
queenfrogge78 Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2011
really?????i hope its really ackword for aang!:lmao:
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
elyon192 Featured By Owner Mar 18, 2011
very lovely, as usual :clap:

I love how sokka is scared while katara and toph fight!!!!
I also love how you put the bits of toph's parents kinda avoiding her as a small doesn't make her seem like the "bad guy" in the arguement anymore :)
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Mar 18, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
Well, there isn't a "bad guy" in the argument, that's the point. =)
I want you to feel bad for Toph and understand why she's acting fussy, but still acknowledge that she IS acting immature and fussy. ;)
elyon192 Featured By Owner Mar 20, 2011
yeh....I kinda was taking katara's side in the arguement (sorry toph)....that's why....
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Mar 20, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
Haha. ^^; Well, we'll be tackling more of this stuff later...Toph and Katara do work out their differences, but Katara's point still stands: the more Toph ignores the problem, the longer it goes unresolved.
elyon192 Featured By Owner Mar 24, 2011
agreed :thumbsup:
PochiMochi Featured By Owner Mar 17, 2011
Heh, with all the drama that happens in real life, it's real interesting to be reading about it as some sort of sideline person. xD; ...if that made any sense lol

But yeah.. I'm sorta craving for more of the upcoming drama you have in store for us :XD:...and I don't know if that's a good thing, haha.
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Mar 17, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
Haha. ^^;
Well, all of the drama in this story is either based on some real drama I experienced or witnessed, OR (in the case of a lot of the drama in this chapter) it's drama based on different parts of my own mind fighting with each other. =P

Fortunately, I don't actually have much drama going on in my life these days, and any that DOES happens is only on the internet.

I look forward to showing you guys what kinds of drama are in store - things are definitely getting bumpy and I have a wild ride lined up for the next while...
pimpHO87 Featured By Owner Mar 18, 2011
I'll be looking forward for that wild ride :)
Good chapter though, I loved the Runaway interactions in this chapter.
And the last part of the chapter where you were flashbacking how Toph needed physical contact from her parents, it was creative. Sad, but creative, and a great way in telling the scene.
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Mar 17, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
OH SNAP FAIL I totally forgot to make the phone call a PHONE CALL. HERPDERP. ~edits~
AlmostLiterally Featured By Owner Mar 16, 2011
Hahahahahahah, Wild Child. The Runaway. :D Nice. Ignoring Toph's double shot of moodiness, I side with her. It's nice to look out for others, but trying to -fix- others, like they are dogs and you can boil their entire motives and problems down to yes-or-no answers...nooope. Of course, Katara's overbearingness is justified, given her past, just as it is in the series.

And more songs in your writing! <3 I love it.

Hah, I can also relate to Toph on the crazed parents bit. 'Shady People'...I've heard that before...snrk. Poor Toph.
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Mar 16, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
I actually specifically re-watched that scene from The Runaway and copied their dialogue exchange down, then kind of altered it to fit the context, to fit them being older, etc. Another very blatant bit of homage.

I relate with both of them equally, which is why I enjoy writing them arguing so much.

As a matter of fact, I can't think of ANY arguments lately in which I couldn't relate with both sides in this story. You MAY have noticed that only one character has managed to avoid being in any heated arguments so far. ;)

But to the matter at hand...The fact is, Katara is intruding on Toph's business, BUT Katara is also RIGHT in that Toph is acting immature and it's hurting other people.

Toph feels offended and insulted because Katara is butting in, BUT Katara feels like she is protecting the group from Toph's immature jerkishness.

Neither of them are really WRONG, they are both 'right,' but Katara is trying to look out for the group, INCLUDING Toph, while Toph is merely looking out for herself.

While I do want readers to be able to relate with both of them, I wanted this much to be clear in this chapter: Katara cares about keeping the group together and happy, but can get carried away, and Toph, when faced with actual PROBLEMS, tends to try confronting them alone and only cares about herself due to her independent nature.

The important distinction is that Katara, no matter how obsessive she can be, is working toward the betterment of EVERYONE, whereas Toph is working toward the betterment of HERSELF. I wouldn't say either is wrong or bad - but if your goal is make friends and KEEP them, the prior is usually the better option.

The chapters to come will see both Toph and Jane getting tested quite a bit in these kinds of regards.
AlmostLiterally Featured By Owner Mar 16, 2011
I see what you are saying. I still lean toward solving things on your own, but I can see where Katara is coming from. Toph needs to start worrying about how she is pushing Aang away, however. She thinks she is looking out for him, but that is really a guise for the real issue, the one with her family.
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Mar 16, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
Well, really, Toph needs to worry about how she's doing that with ALL of her friends - Katara sees that and it's the entire reason she butted in to begin with.

I lean more on Katara's way of thinking, personally, in this situation, but I DO relate with all of the 5 main characters in different ways, so it's fun to take different parts of myself and pit them against each other through the characters. xD
SonicTailsBros4ever Featured By Owner Mar 16, 2011
AW! *U* Love this! Rock on! Poor Toph! Hope all works out! *U*
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Mar 16, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
Glad you enjoyed what you read. =)
xAura-Readerx Featured By Owner Mar 16, 2011  Student Traditional Artist
like how you made i want to hold your hand a sadd song the mood changed
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Mar 16, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
Well, you can thank Across the Universe for that. =)

I liked taking the song OUT of a romantic context, making it more about how Toph is blind, so physical contact is important for her, and portraying this feeling that she's sad that her parents never touched her very much, that she DOES wish they showed they love her more.
xAura-Readerx Featured By Owner Mar 17, 2011  Student Traditional Artist
Yeah well lucky fer u im trying a new aproach imma wait fer the next one instead of stalk (if I survive) Lawl jk
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Mar 17, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
Haha. =P I am already 2/5 into the next one, so it should around sooner than the last one was. =)
xAura-Readerx Featured By Owner Mar 17, 2011  Student Traditional Artist
:) jumpin fer joy
Match25 Featured By Owner Mar 16, 2011
yay for Taang, would love to see art around that
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Mar 16, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
Actually there is some Taang art coming up from an artist, one piece about Homecoming. I'll be sure to share when they're online.
Match25 Featured By Owner Mar 16, 2011
I can so see Toph forcing Aang to give her a foot massage after the dance

Toph: remember the deal when you forced me to wear these girly girl shoes
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Mar 16, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
Heheh. Toph's very sensitive about her feet, but she probably lets Aang massage them now and again. If he's willing to even touch them with how dirty they get!
Match25 Featured By Owner Mar 16, 2011
if anything showing that Toph would allow him to touch them would say something, showing a good deal of trust towards him

but yeah have them clean
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Mar 16, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
You're right, it definitely would. I will probably show it some time soon.
Match25 Featured By Owner Mar 16, 2011
cant wait to see
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