For the prompt thing could you do random 8?
“You’re insane.” “You love me.” “Not right now I don’t.”
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“Come on, Beifong. I’m waiting!”
Lin peeked over the edge of the cliff. Down below, at the edge of the water, she could see Kya looking up expectantly. She was waving at her, a big grin on her face. Lin took a breath and bawled her fists.
“Okay, Beifong,” she muttered to herself, trying to muster up some courage. “You can do this. You ain’t scared of no heights, or water. You’re tough. Come on.”
Once they’d gotten to the lake, Kya had mentioned she’d jumped down the waterfall before and had made the ridiculous accusation that Lin would be too scared to do it, being an earthbender and not a waterbender and all. Lin had immediately accepted that as a challenge. But now, being up here, she regretted it a little bit.
It wasn’t a small waterfall. It was big and wide. And it was a lot higher than it looked from down below. On top of that, the crashing sounds of the water down below were incredibly loud and didn’t help with her nerves.
“Come on,” she said to herself. “It’s just a jump. Into water. You’ll be fine.”
She walked over to the edge and took a breath.
“Holy shit, are you actually going to do it?” she heard Kya say loudly.
“What?” she retorted while getting ready to jump. “You really thought I was too scared?” She felt slightly offended that she really thought she’d chicken out.
“Lin, I was just teasing you. I didn’t think you’d actually do it. It could be dangerous.”
But Lin wasn’t listening. She wasn’t about to back out now. She wanted to prove she wasn’t scared.
She breathed in deep and stepped over the edge.
For a moment, she felt weightless, and then, gravity started pulling her down. It didn’t take long for her body to hit the water and for her entire being to be enveloped in cold darkness. Once the initial shock of crashing into the water was over, she began swimming towards the surface.
She gasped for air once she made it back. She could feel her body shaking, the adrenaline coursing through her. She’d done it. And she was fine.
“Lin?” she heard Kya call, her voice worried.
Lin took a moment to look around and realized she must’ve resurfaced on the other side of the waterfall.
“Lin!” she heard again.
“I’m here!” she called loudly in return. “On the other side of the waterfall.”
She heard someone jump in the water and a few moments later, Kya appeared. Relieved to see Lin in one piece, she quickly swam towards her and grabbed her by the shoulders.
“Spirits, Lin, are you okay? Did you hurt yourself?”
Lin shook her head, a smug grin appearing on her face.
“I’m fine,” she said. “Not so bad for an earthbender, huh?”
Kya rolled her eyes, grabbing Lin’s face and moving her sticky wet hair to the side.
“You’re insane,” she said angrily.
Lin couldn’t help but be a little amused. Kya shouldn’t have challenged her to jump if she didn’t want to end up worried. Lin wasn’t one to chicken out on things, Kya should’ve known that.
“You love me,” she responded.
Kya rolled her eyes even harder.
“Not right now I don’t,” she retorted. “You could’ve really hurt yourself.”
“But I didn’t, I’m fine.”
Kya released a breath and shook her head before snaking her arms around Lin’s neck and pressing their foreheads together.
“You are,” she muttered, relieved. “Thank Agni.”
Lin grinned, pulling her closer under the water.
“See?” she said, placing a chaste kiss on her cheek. “You love me.”
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Hello! Had an itch to write a bit of Zutara and Kantoph once again, so here ya go... :) Hope you enjoy, and thank you for reading!
She watched him pace the beach house probably a thousand times before she decided to interrupt his brooding thoughts. As much as she loved the man, he could be… a little dramatic and overprotective at times.
“I think you’re making a track on the floor,” Katara teased.
“I’m thinking,” he replied.
“Well, I can see that, but I don’t understand why, exactly. You seem… stressed.”
It seemed that Zuko reached a boiling point, because all at once his apprehensions about the weekend were finally being communicated.
“Because I am!” He exclaimed. “Why did we think this was a good idea?”
“Because Sokka and Suki have already gone on multiple trips with us, and you even invited Aang a few years back. Now it’s time for Toph to spend the weekend with us!”
“Yeah, Toph. Not Toph plus a date.”
“Okay, first of all, Kanto isn’t a one time date. He’s her boyfriend.
“And second, why should only Toph come?? Does she not get to bring dates to the island if she wants?”
Zuko sighed, “Of course she is, but I just—I don’t trust this Kanto guy.”
“Really?” Katara asked skeptically, “You’ve got issues with Kanto?”
“He doesn’t sound right for Toph! All ‘bad boy,’ flirts with every girl, says rude things all the time, it isn’t right!”
Katara looked at Zuko incredulously. They’ve heard good things about Kanto, and there was no need for the man to get his robes in a twist like they were just now. There was no reason to be so upset about a significant other joining them for their beach weekend getaway!
Granted, Katara hesitated when she heard Toph request that Kanto accompany them to Ember Island. It wasn’t that she didn’t trust the secondhand knowledge of Toph’s beau, it was…
… On second thought, she was worried about the secondhand information. She had never met Kanto. And while she trusted Toph with her life, Katara wasn’t completely convinced that Toph’s taste in men was spectacular.
But she’d be damned if she let Zuko in on that bit of knowledge, so she crossed her arms and defended Toph’s decision to bring her mysterious boyfriend to their vacation house for a weekend. “Zuko, you’re just being overprotective. Toph is an adult, she can take care of herself.”
Her boyfriend let out a frustrated huff, crossing his arms as well. “Fine. But I’m not going to be all warm and excited to meet him. Don’t expect that.”
Katara chuckled and made her way to Zuko. She gave his cheek a light, affectionate pat with her hand as she replied, “I would never.”
As they waited by the beach, Katara eyed Zuko wearily, for he seemed to put on his “Fire Lord” facade, a stoic look he took when he needed to command the room. Normally, such a stance would instill fear in the individual on the first encounter.
Fortunately or unfortunately for Katara and Zuko, Kanto wasn’t like other men.
When their guests arrived, their eyes immediately landed on the tall figure that stood next to their friend. One hand was intertwined with Toph’s while the other casually held onto the strap of the bag he slung over his shoulder. His smile was more of a smug smirk, a resting look that immediately made them assume that he thought he was the king of the world. His posture told them that he was comfortable in his own skin, there was a swing of confidence in his step that was unmistakable. His build told others that should anyone dare mess with him, he’d answer not with words, but with fists and boulders to the face.
But his eyes had quiet smile lines that appeared as they neared the Fire Lord and Lady. They were bright and excited and genuine that it almost made Zuko and Katara forget that they wanted to give him the cold shoulder.
Zuko refrained from fully frowning, but he gave an unamused and serious look toward Kanto, determined to keep it that way for the remainder of the weekend. Was he being a little harsh? Perhaps...
To say that Zuko was unenthusiastic to meet this Kanto guy was an understatement. Sure, he didn’t really know the guy, but he knew Toph, and Toph meant the world to the Fire Lord. Anyone that toyed with her even in the slightest bit would have to answer not only to Zuko, but the rest of their friend group as well. However, Zuko typically went above and beyond in that regard. He considered Toph like a sister, a young woman who grew up in a pampered world where she was misunderstood and disregarded, and he could relate to that. She cared deeply about others (even if she didn’t show it), and Zuko demanded that others do the same.
So forgive the man for assuming the worst in this tall, buff, and smug looking cop.
Kanto’s smirk turned into a crooked grin as they faced the hosts. And when Zuko continued to glare at him, he heard Katara clear her throat. “Hey guys! We’re glad to have you stay with us.”
“Thanks, Sugar Queen,” Toph replied with a smile. With a quick nod of her head, she gestured to her partner. “This is Kanto. Kanto, this is Fire Lord Sparky and the future Fire Lady Sugar Queen. Together, they’re sweet saps.”
“Toph, we’ve been over this, we’re not engaged yet,” Zuko reminded her.
“Yeah, yeah, and I’m blind. You know, the longer you wait, the harder it’s gonna get.”
“Perhaps Master Katara likes waiting if it gets harder,” Kanto quietly commented, and the two snickered.
Zuko refrained from growling, and Katara changed the subject before he could say anything. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, Kanto. Shall we get ready for dinner?”
Kanto was still smiling. “Sounds like a plan, Master Katara.”
Dinner was… an experience.
While Toph and Katara caught up on the usual subjects, Zuko stared at Kanto. Well, more like a glare, perhaps. He sized up Kanto once again as the women chatted, and he was unimpressed.
Every word that came out of the man’s mouth sounded so boastful, like he was challenging people to try and be better than him. He would raise his eyebrows and persuade people into getting him what he wanted.
A no good smartass was what he was.
And for some bizarre reason, Toph actually liked him. When he leaned in to talk to her, she would lean in as well. When he grabbed her hand, she held it back without hesitation. When he cracked a joke, she laughed the loudest.
“How’s your food?”
Kanto’s words interrupted his thoughts, and he realized he’d been sizing him up for too long. “Fine,” he replied. “Why?”
“You’ve been chewing on that same bite for a minute now. Thought maybe the meat was too tough or something.” Kanto’s eyes made contact with Zuko’s, and it was then that Zuko realized his mistake.
Kanto knew how Zuko felt about him. And from the look in his eyes, Zuko knew the man wasn’t going down without a fight.
Perhaps after dinner, it was time for the two of them to have a little chat.
Then again… Toph was an adult. Who was he to meddle in her relationships? Anything he said or did would probably make matters worse, and knowing Toph, she would probably dig her stubborn heels in the dirt and date the guy longer than she originally intended if Zuko threatened him. No; he resolved himself to not say anything to Kanto. But that didn’t mean he had to be nice.
Zuko swallowed his bite and gave Kanto a curt smile. “It’s perfect, thanks.”
Kanto raised an eyebrow at him, but that served as the end of their dinner conversation.
When dinner concluded and the couples walked back toward their vacation residence, Toph stopped the group and gave a menacing point to both Zuko and Kanto when they reached their destination. “You two.”
The Fire Lord and deputy looked at each other, then back at Toph, who continued, “You need to work your shit out here right now before you go back inside.”
“Toph, you can’t be serious,” Zuko complained.
“ Yeah, Toph, I don’t have beef with your friend—”
She put up her hand to silence him. “Can it, Hotshot. You two need to just talk, fight, spill your dirty secrets together, something. Because both of you have been brooding since we got here, and I’m sick of thinking one of you is upset when all you’ve got is your loins in a twist.”
Zuko looked at Katara. “Katara—”
“Nope,” she interrupted. “I’m with Toph on this one.”
Again, the men looked wearily at each other, and both knew they weren’t getting out of this predicament without talking.
When no further protests were made, Toph smirked and patted Kanto’s chest. “Come back when you two lily-livers figure out your issues. In the meantime, Katara and I will get started on those desserts.”
Toph lightly dragged Katara’s arm toward the Ember Island home, and once they were out of earshot from the boys, she whispered, “Toph, are you sure about this? They didn’t seem to get along.”
“Relax, Sugar Queen,” Toph reassured. “I happen to know both Kanto and Zuko well enough to know that they have a lot more in common than they realize. It just takes a bit of forced interaction.”
Katara quietly sighed, but relented as they made their way into the house.
Meanwhile, Kanto and Zuko stood on the edge of the beach, silent. Zuko said nothing as he observed Kanto shift in his stance, light a cigarette, and take a single puff.
Kanto glanced over at Zuko and smirked. “Go ahead, tell me off.”
“You don’t like me, that’s obvious, and you don’t like that I’m with Toph. So just…” Kanto waved his hands in the air. “Tell me off. Let it out.”
“You know I’ve been trying to be cordial for the sake of Toph, but you’re making it really hard to do so,” he replied coolly.
Kanto laughed. “Sorry I’ve made things difficult for you! Can’t imagine how you must feel with your girlfriend and close friend in a comforting place where this stranger comes in and ruins it all for you! I’ll be more considerate next time I’m invited.”
“Don’t be a smartass. This isn’t about you or me—”
“You’re right. This isn’t about us! This is about Toph and the fact that you don’t trust her. That or you just really don’t like me that you’re willing to make her sad and miserable just to get rid of me.”
“I trust Toph with my life!” Zuko growled. “And I’ll be damned if I let some show-off womanizer come to my home and take advantage of her and her friends in high places and break her heart!”
“Wow, please, Fire Lord Zuko. Don’t speak so highly of me; wouldn’t want people to know you’re trying to be cordial with me,” he grumbled.
“Why should I trust you or like you?? You haven’t given me one good reason to do either!”
Kanto looked back at Zuko and laughed mirthlessly. “Not like you’d believe it even if I tried.” He chuckled again as he walked in circles and waved his hands in the air, rambling and shouting to the universe. “I could tell you that I don’t date seriously because I’m afraid to get hurt, but I was willing to take that risk with Toph. I could tell you that spend my entire day thinking of stupid things to say so she’ll smile at me. I could sit you down and write you a list of all the reasons I’m with Toph that don’t include money or vacation perks, and I could tell you that I’m absolutely and completely in love with that woman and you still wouldn’t believe me!”
The confession shocked both men into silence. They stood on the beach, staring at one another, neither wanting to disrupt the calming noise of the waves in the background.
So Kanto loved Toph. Given their first encounter, Zuko would’ve been extremely unimpressed. And yet, for some reason, his outburst a moment ago gave the firebender a newfound respect for him. Perhaps it reminded Zuko a little too much about his own feelings for Katara when they first got together; waves of love and desire came crashing all at once one day and he just couldn’t keep it bottled up any longer. He knew the feeling well, and for Kanto’s sake, he was glad Kanto’s actual girlfriend wasn’t around to hear the sudden declaration of love.
Kanto swallowed slowly and finally spoke. “Um… I just meant that—”
“So you love Toph, huh?” Zuko asked, a hint of a smirk crept over his face. He heard Kanto grumble in agreement, earning a chuckle from Zuko. “If it makes you feel better, I did the same with Katara, except I accidentally blurted it out to her.”
The earthbender laughed. “Seriously? What happened?”
Zuko shrugged. “Nothing, really, I just kind of… Said it under my breath but she heard it, and that was that. Pretty casual way to confess you love someone. Luckily, she felt the same way.”
Kanto’s smile on his face faltered a bit. “I—I’m not sure I could slip like that with Toph.”
“What do you mean?”
“Well,” he began, then scratched the back of his neck. “I’ve felt this way since we first started dating. I just… I don’t want her to think she has to feel the same way if she’s not ready.
“And if I slip, I’m afraid that’ll scare her away,” he admitted.
“Toph’s smart, and I think you would know if she was scared of loving you.”
Kanto raised an unconvinced eyebrow at Zuko, and he elaborated, “She wouldn’t have brought you here if she wasn’t in a committed relationship with you. Toph doesn’t invite random strangers to meet us. And her loyalty and commitment to her friends and family says more about her than those three words.
“She may not say ‘I love you’ or say it often, but with Toph, her actions speak louder than words.”
Zuko looked back at Kanto and saw him biting his lip, as if refraining from saying something. Perhaps a joke or a snide comment—
The Fire Lord glared at him. “If you say anything about her I will kill you.”
Kanto raised his hands up in defense. “I wasn’t gonna.”
“You were thinking it, though!”
“Hey, we can’t all be perfect like the Avatar!”
“She’s like a sister to me, man, I don’t wanna be thinking about the stuff you guys do in your… free time.”
Kanto laughed. “Quit talking about it then!”
Zuko let out an exasperated sigh, then walked over to the earthbender. They stood by the wooden fence that separated the beach from the boardwalk and watched the waves crash onto the shore. Kanto continued smoking as they leaned on the railing, and Zuko took the silence as a moment to have an honest conversation with the man.
He cleared his throat, then said, “You know, if you break her heart not only will you have to answer to me, but you will have to answer to all of our friends.”
“I’m well aware.”
“Her friends include the saviors of the world and the Avatar.”
“Not to mention a flying bison.”
Kanto chuckled lightly. “I think she’s more likely to break my heart at this point”
“That may be the case, but it wouldn’t be a good friend if I didn’t threaten you. She deserves a man that loves and respects her and treats her well. Think you can do that?”
He sighed as he put out his cigarette and disposed of it. Kanto looked down at his hands and twiddled his thumbs. “That’s what I try to do and more every single day.”
The Fire Lord observed Kanto closely, and the man he saw then was someone that was completely different from the man he met earlier in the day. Now, Zuko saw Kanto vulnerable, pensive, and unsure. He was hopeful, nervous, and steady. And he was determined, open, thoughtful.
There was more to Kanto than initially met the eye, and Zuko was glad his eyes were opened to the man that guarded himself with hardened exteriors. A technique that Zuko was no stranger to, and he knew how hard it could be to open up, especially to someone he never met before.
Perhaps he had more in common with Kanto than he realized. And despite having every intention of chewing out the boastful cop about treating his friend right and threatening him with the wrath of the Fire Nation’s military force if he broke Toph’s heart, Zuko let Kanto off easy. The guy had a number of shovel talks coming his way.
Zuko patted the earthbender’s shoulder. “I’m glad to hear it, buddy.”
Kanto let out an amused snort. “Buddy? Didn’t know we were that close, now.”
The firebender gave a small shrug, and said, “I think you and I got off on the wrong foot. Besides, you’ll be getting about four more conversations from our friends, and I have a feeling Sokka won’t hold back punches like I did.”
“Right… Gotta deal with the best friend…” Kanto grimaced while Zuko smirked. Poor guy had to go through the ringer before he was in the clear.
But Zuko saw a fire in him. And if Kanto was in love with Toph like he said, then he wasn’t going down without a fight.
The Fire Lord pointed his head toward the beach house. “C’mon. Let’s grab some dessert before the girls eat our share.”
Kanto’s crooked grin reappeared. “I can guarantee you Toph already ate my piece, but sure.”
Zuko chuckled, because he was probably right. Still, they made their way to the house, starting up small talk and building a rapport for future banter. As they reached the door and Zuko was about to enter, Kanto stopped.
“Hey, Fire Lord Zuko?”
He turned around to face Kanto, a little surprised by the formality. He saw the earthbender bow formally, the traditional Fire Nation bow. And when Kanto stood up straight, he smiled. “Thanks. For, you know. Taking it easy on me.”
“Hey, as far as Katara knows, I threatened you good, you hear?” When Kanto laughed, Zuko smiled with him, then said, “And my friends get to call me Zuko, so you can drop the formalities.”
Kanto’s eyes brightened. “Had to be sure before I went around calling you Zuko. Or Sparky.”
“You’re not allowed to call me Sparky,” Zuko replied immediately, his eyes narrowing on the earthbender.
“Okay, okay! Let’s get inside before Toph eats the single bite she saved for me.”
Zuko laughed and turned to open the door. They found Katara and Toph in good spirits (the dessert gone completely), ecstatic to see their “handsome beaus” (their words, not Zuko’s) return to the house. The atmosphere maintained its liveliness throughout the night, and Zuko couldn’t help but smile at the small group.
Perhaps this trip wouldn’t be a disaster after all.
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