There is a quiet that stretches across the camp like a rubber band, bound to break.It is inevitable because Sokka, resident blabbermouth, is there.
It is inevitable because, when Aang and Katara leave to visit shops and dance around the fact that they like each other, Sokka finds Toph so that she knows she has someone.
She is so used to having no one.
“I heard you! You have to tell me what three colors sound like or I’m bending your butt out of here!” It was a little game they played: he pretended to sneak, she pretended to want to be left alone, and she got company and humor. It wasn’t ideal, it probably wasn’t good to do so much pretending, but they both knew they game.
“Oh no!” Sokka dramatically fell to his knees in front of her. “However will I cope with the fact that you, an Earthbender who sees through vibrations, heard me, a guy with clunky shoes, stomping around?” He inhaled to go on, but Toph cut him off.
“Get snappy with it!” She stifled a laugh at the sound of his shocked gasp.
“Well, if I must!” He paused, then excitedly decided. “Okay, so, I’m going to tell you about two main colors and then whatever other I choose. There’s white, it makes everything brighter. But if I am thinking about it with my other senses, I’d say colder. White is like rumbling thunder and crackling lightning: it’s sudden, it’s loud, and it’s hard to ignore. Black… well.. It softens things. It’s warmth. Black is faint humming, words that drag on, and the swish of splashing water, the brief crackle of a fire. It’s very obvious, it catches your attention, but it’s a lot more subtle.” Sokka seemed to be thinking, making loud hmmmmsss. His voice was calmer, steadier, but she could feel him shifting as he spoke: throwing his hands into the air, turning, leaning closer- he was almost never still, and he was very dramatic.
Toph closed her eyes, trying to envision it. She knew that paper was white, she knew it by the crinkle it made- loud and obnoxious, she supposed Sokka got that one right, at least. She’d asked Aang and Katara what they thought colors sounded like, but it was a dud.
Aang had talked about brown- the color of Katara’s skin and her hair and the soil. Toph asked if things were hard to tell apart if they were all the same color. Aang had said that they were different versions of the color. They’d given up soon after.
Katara tried harder, but she wasn’t as imaginative. She’d say that the feel of a rose was red, and then talk about how blood was red and rust was red. She’d say that a rose is red, but it is also yellow, and pink, and white. She tried, but she talked herself in circles trying to give Toph accurate information.
It was Sokka who approached her. Who said that different shades had different sounds. A whining “Katara and Aang are so wrapped up in each other, they might as well be octopi!” he had started the conversation with. “There’s this cool story I was reading- would you like me to read it to you? I’m afraid that I won’t do it justice, but, well, we’re travelling with the Avatar to defeat the Fire-Lord. I figure we pretty much are justice, now!” She had fought against it, at first, thinking he was babying her. Thinking that he thought her weak. But Sokka was just an idiot, an idiot who wanted to share what he loved with his friend.
“You said Katara had screwed you over with red, right?” Toph hummed in discontent and agreement. “Well, there are different shades, so I’m just going to tell you one of the brighter ones. Scarlet. Scarlet is passion. It’s clapping and dancing to upbeat music. It’s Katara staying up late to practice waterbending. It’s the scratch of graphite and the sliding of a brush. It’s Aang when he’s yakking on about his friends. It’s the rush of blood in your ears. Passion is a lot, Toph. It’s a lot to take in. Oh! And blue! Turquoise is a cold color and sapphire is warmer, but they’re just reflections of one another! Turquoise is the sky and sapphire is the ocean, but they sound the same if you know how to listen. They’re laughter, the hiss of water, the taste of cotton candy, mischief. It’s Aang’s pranks. Turquoise and sapphire are the colors of running during a sun shower: the warmth hits your back, the rain cools you down, and you’re spinning and laughing as blades of grass tickle your feet. And then there’s gold: it’s determination. It’s marching. It’s never stopping. Gold is the sound of a forest fire.”
“That’s more than three, Snoozles.”
“So? Buy three get two free!”
“That’s just bad marketing.” She speaks over his sputtering protests, “So, you gonna read what happens next in the book, or are you going to leave the blind girl hanging?”
Sokka mumbles, “I should.” but when he gets up to retrieve the book he’s practically bouncing. “Ooooh! We’re almost at the good part! There’s a fight scene, and drama, and making up!” He just about squeals.
Toph closes her unseeing eyes and listens to her friend. She had a crush on him, once upon a time, but now she’s simply glad that he calls her his “best friend”- because really, who else should she be? She is the best, after all.
She might be used to being alone, but, with Sokka reading to her and teaching Aang Earthbending and Katara forcing her to have “girl’s days” and nagging at her (helping her, looking after her), Toph could get used to, maybe, not being so alone.