-- A Bosami oneshot. (2015, G)Deepening Steps
-- A Tokka story. (2010, PG)Tokka Alphabet
-- A collection of Tokka oneshots. (2008, G)Condolence
-- A Tokka oneshot. (2008, G)Fanficiton.net
Howdy folks! Tokka Week is normally the first week of August, but I was slow to getting around to it this year, in part because I felt more like writing than drawing, unlike usual. I've been having fun getting back into writing oneshots, and so I'll be posting a prompt each Sunday for the next few weeks. I hope you enjoy. =)Tokka Week 2015
2. I Hope You're Happy
4. We Danced
5. Behind Closed Doors
6. No Excuses
Not far east of Mount Makapu resided the Yao Chen Estate, home to a well-established Earth Kingdom family. The current head of the family, Wen Yao Chen, was a diligent father, a fine archer, a member of the Federation of Fire Friends, and, as it happens, a collector of fine arts.
"I can't believe your paintings pass for real art," Katara tittered.
"Don't be so harsh, he's obviously improved," Aang retorted with a cheerful tone. "Look, this one actually looks like Appa."
Sokka grimaced, trying to figure out if they were being serious, as they laughed and started whispering to each other. They probably weren't. Over the years he had worked hard on improving his likenesses and general aesthetic in painting, while retaining a certain Sokka style
. You'd think they'd be able to give the jokes about his art a rest upon reaching adulthood, but he was beginning to doubt it would ever happen. After all, one was Aang
, forever that goofy kid he met coming out of an iceberg... and the other was his little sister.
"I'm just impressed you managed to swindle someone into paying money for your stuff," Toph said, coming up beside him. "Not that I'm denying your obvious skill, but to me it's still a bunch of flat thingummies hanging on a wall."
"Well, I learned scamming from the best," he said in a low voice, elbowing her affectionately.
He felt a little sheepish admitting anything of the kind out loud, but even he found it all hard to believe. Here he was, perusing a sophisticated gallery with his friends, coming face to face with his own work. What's more, his art was featured beside other remarkable works, as his patron kept a weather eye out for talent from all four nations. It was an honor indeed.
The gallery itself was minimalistic in its architecture, augmented mainly by well-placed glowing crystals, allowing the art to speak for itself. Sokka's work had more than one prominent exhibit. Here hung a long scroll depicting major events in the conflict between the Avatar and the Fire Lord. There resided a collection of smaller pieces featuring curious creatures from across the world. (That's where Momo came into it.)
Sokka entered a semi-enclosed room of the gallery that directed all attention to the singular work of the space, one of Sokka's largest and most striking pieces to date: a panorama of the Great Divide. He'd come a long way since his youth in taking the time to observe his surroundings, and this multi panel painting exemplified that.
He turned about, observing the room itself. Unlike the rest of the gallery, the walls were lined with mirrors, making the space -- and the art -- look far more expansive than it actually was. Looking at himself, with his back to the artwork, it almost seemed like he was standing in front of the Great Divide.
He blinked, almost surprised by his sudden inclusion in the exhibit. He was already feeling self-conscious of his role in the room's decor, facing his own likeness only added to the surreality. He turned his gaze aside, lending his attention to what else could be seen by way of the mirrors. Other paintings were hung at too oblique an angle to observe properly through the two opposing openings in the room's walls. Katara and Aang could only be heard out of sight, ambling away from the side of the collection that featured Sokka's work -- the traitors.
But in the center of an adjoining room stood Toph, solitary and seemingly inspecting the artwork around her. An impossibility, of course. Yet she stood, leaning slightly forward and with her chin raised, imitating the way others observed their surroundings. After several moments she would turn and inspect another wall, or take a few leisurely steps to the side in order to get a closer look at a new piece. Frankly, the way she had learned to mimic the habits of seeing people over the years was almost unnerving. Why did she do it? To make people forget she was any different? To highlight it? Was she even conscious of how adept she was at it?
She approached one particular piece, covered in a thick layer of dark paint, and traced her finger along it. Perhaps she was
observing the exhibit, just not in a way that anyone else could understand. Were those paintings more than blank objects hanging on a wall to her? They were made from various materials, earth among them, so maybe she could detect invisible images through the layers of paint with her earth sense? It wouldn't be the first time she didn't let on how much she could discern. Earth sense paintings... that would
be something to see -- or, well, visualize? No, envision? Imagine? Well, whatever the term, there was certainly something to the idea...
She moved again, simply clasping her hands behind her back, a gesture that seemed uncharacteristically gentle. It was almost a fluke that she was there, having volunteered to come when she heard mention of it, but it was even more curious that she hadn't already grown bored. As the moments slipped by, she maintained her attentiveness, making her way through the gallery. It was strange to see her, normally so rambunctious, be so quiet. It made her seem different and mysterious. Her face was always hidden by her hair -- well, partially hidden -- but since she was only facing the walls, not a sign of her face could be seen. Just her back, her clasped hands, the wisps of hair beside her face...
"What are you finding so fascinating over there?"
Sokka's heart jumped at the unexpected question. The Toph in the mirror gave no indication that her attention was on anything other than the exhibit, and when he turned to look at her as she truly was, she stood facing away from him, still standing as innocuously as he had perceived her in the mirror. But the voice had undeniably been hers.
"Oh, ah, what do you mean?" he asked, trying to find something through the mirrors to look at. Fascinating?
"You've been staring at something for an eternity now," she said, turning towards him and revealing a little smirk. She strolled up to him. "Don't tell me you're having delusions of grandeur about your art just because you've got some on display."
An eternity was not a meaningful measurement of time, of course, but her words still made him feel self-conscious. Had he really...? But it wasn't about his art. At first he was observing the gallery itself. And then he just got distracted by... but she didn't seem to realize that at all.
"I was noticing the way the gallery was designed," Sokka said, gesturing hastily with one hand to indicate the semi-enclosed space. "They managed to make the room look bigger and... well, I don't know if you would understand the effect, but it is interesting." He saw her furrow her brow through her bangs. "But I could ask you the same thing," he continued, on impulse. "You've been pretty quiet for the last few minutes, even though you can't see..."
"Heh." She composed herself, no longer furrowing her brow in puzzlement. "I've survived much more tedious things."
"Hmph." Sokka crossed his arms and turned back towards the mirrored walls. She was just being cheeky, right? But he couldn't help his gaze landing on her reflection once again. He wondered if she could tell... but how could she? Looking at her indirectly like that, he felt like he was at an advantage. If she couldn't tell he was watching her, because his posture wasn't towards her... well, she was always more guarded when she thought people were looking...
"Still finding something to look at?"
"Can't you tell?" he asked, purposefully responding with a question.
"Well, there's something here," she said. "I can sense it, but..." She raised her arm to touch the glass. "It's different than... ah. I recognize it now. That's glass. But there's some metal behind it."
Sokka didn't respond. He wished it wouldn't, but his heart started beating a little faster. Did she understand the implication of those two things together?
Her eyelids fluttered. "It's just flat sheets, though," she continued. "I dunno... I think I've heard that metal and glass are beautiful -- at least sometimes." She gestured towards the mirrored wall. "Is it beautiful?"
"Well..." Sokka said, his arms dropping as he watched her through her reflection. "Yeah."
She was silent.
Suddenly she chuckled, prompting Sokka to turn towards her.
"Sap," she said.
She spun around on her heel, striding away from him. "Sap!" she cried. Her hands were clasped behind her back once again, but this time they gave off an air of flippancy, paired with her bearing. "The way you sounded... getting lost in beautiful
sheets of glass."
"What, didn't you hear yourself? You're the one who asked in the first place!"
"I didn't spend eternity lost in thought about it!"
"You don't even have a clue what you're missing!"
By this point she had crossed to a turn in the gallery, putting a fair distance between herself and Sokka. Rather than talk back, she put her wrist to her forehead and threw her head back to reveal a mockery of an expression of distress over the claim she was missing out, before breaking down into a laugh and whipping around the corner, out of sight.
After a couple moments, Sokka couldn't keep from chuckling to himself.
Indeed, she didn't have a clue. But for this he was grateful, because he wasn't sure how she would react -- or even how he could explain himself -- if she realized what had really caught his eye.