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taking time to make time

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There hadn’t been a time, since she had left her family and home to travel with him, where she didn’t trust Aang with all she had. Even in her darkest moments, she always knew two inarguable truths: he was the Avatar, and he held her heart in his hands. Because of that, she knew that he could never lead her wrong. It was why he was the only one that got to see Toph—tough as nails, no-nonsense, the-greatest-earthbender-in-the-world Toph—at her most vulnerable.

It was less hard now than it had been when they were sixteen, but there was still a hesitation to share her fears with him, to let him know she was afraid at all. She wasn’t the fidgety type, as Katara might have been. Instead she stood in the doorway to the courtyard, leaning against the frame, looking on as her husband meditated. Her mind raced as she debated between approaching him or staying where she was.

Before she could make a decision, Aang stood and turned to head for the house.

“Toph,” he breathed happily, taking each of her hands in his and placing kisses on her knuckles. “Good morning, my love. What are you doing home? I thought you had work to do at the Station today.”

“No, I decided I needed a day off,” she said simply, anxiety rising in her stomach like bile. It was an alien feeling to her, and she hated it. She had always been in control of every situation, knew her senses would not fail her and that she could handle anything. But she couldn’t fight her way out of this.

Toph, having been raised into nobility

(and being a stubborn, guarded woman her whole life)

was not an easy person to read, emotionally. Aang was the only one who came close and he could tell that something was off, there was something she wasn’t telling him. It was rare she took a day off from her work, even as she neared the seventh month of her pregnancy. A strike of fear to match hers shot through him like lightning as his thoughts raced with awful scenarios. “Toph, is something wrong? Tell me.” His hands released hers and anxiously touched her bulging abdomen.

She let out a shaky sigh and gingerly placed her fingers on his chest. “It’s nothing. Can we go inside?” she asked, feeling exposed out in the openness of their yard, like someone would be listening in on them, hear her being so weak.

Aang nodded and led his wife inside, unwilling to remove the arm wrapped around her waist. They made their way to the sofa and he folded her neatly against him, her head on his chest, one hand in her hair and the other on her waist, feeling the taut way her skin stretched. He planted a kiss into her hair and murmured, “Tell me what’s wrong.”

Toph’s own hand came to rest next to his over her belly, trying to discern if it was their son or just her own nervousness moving inside of her. She suddenly wished he hadn’t seen her like this, that she had just gone to work and buried it down like she did with everything else. She wasn’t even sure how to put words to the feeling twisting sinisterly through her gut. Closing her eyes and taking a deep breath, she reminded herself that it was Aang here with her, that he had made a vow to take care of her without judgment, and that she had made a vow to let him.

“I’m just scared,” she said hesitantly, almost too quiet to hear. “I’m scared of what’s going to happen to us, to our work.” She gripped his shirt and buried her face into his chest for a moment.

“Aang, I’m scared I can’t do this.”

Aang had always been the soft one in the relationship, the compassionate empath. He comforted others with kind, gentle words and affection. For her, it was usually warm, stoic silence and a reassuring embrace. She had never ever expected that he would respond to her confession with an immediate, hearty laugh. Yet there it was, echoing through the room.

Stunned, she bolted upright, glaring at him with a flabbergasted, betrayed expression. She had confessed the most terrifying thought she’d ever had to the man she loved and trusted and he was laughing at her? Outrage rumbled through her—fists curling, nostrils flaring—before Aang spoke.

“Toph, that’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve ever said.” He reached out for her, his hand stopping on the crook of her elbow, thumb stroking gently. “You have no reason to be scared. You’re Toph Beifong, the most powerful earthbender the world has ever seen. There is not a single thing you can’t do.”

The angry crease set across her forehead smoothed out and her breath caught in her throat. Her fingers reached up to gently touch his as he continued, “I have seen you take out men twice your age and three times your size like it’s nothing, invent an entirely new type of bending. I’ve seen you overcome every obstacle life could throw at you. You can do this. And then you’ll learn how to be Chief of Police and a mother at the same time, and you’ll make it look easy.” He paused to lean over and place kisses along her cheek, trailing down to the nape of her neck.

“And as for us?” She could feel his eyes burning into her, hear the honey-sweet affection dripping from his voice. “Toph, this is going to be the greatest thing to happen to us. From here on out, we’re going to be a family. We’ll have someone to pass our world onto, someone to reap the beauty of everything we’re creating.”

Swallowing down the lump in her throat, Toph smiled and put a hand on his cheek to guide her lips onto his. She remembered now why she let her strong façade down around him, remembered that his tender affection made it worthwhile. His cheek crinkled under her palm as he grinned at her. His hands found her waist again and he playfully pulled her into his lap.

“And think about how mad your parents will be. We’ll be raising our kids all wrong.”

They both burst into giggles and she tilted her forehead onto his. She couldn’t remember how she had ever been afraid of anything with him by her side.