Toph held her bangs out of the way as she retched again. This had been occurring for a while now, but she refused to notify anyone of her illness. She was the chief of police, and therefore had a responsibility to put her own needs aside for the sake of the city.
Annoyance burned through her veins when she heard a knock on her door. Ignoring the unease that still resided in her stomach, she made her way to the front of her modest dwelling. When she opened the door, Katara was smiling at her. The waterbending master stroked her protruding abdomen.
"Hey, Toph. Going to the council meeting today?"
"Yup. I was just getting ready." Another wave of nausea flooded her consciousness. "Excuse me a minute."
Katara frowned as her friend rushed down a hallway and out of sight. Her concern grew when she heard Toph vomiting in the other room. She entered Toph's home and joined her in the bathroom just as she was washing off her face.
"Are you okay, Toph? Maybe you shouldn't go to the meeting today."
"No, I'm fine," she insisted, standing up straighter to prove her point. "This is normal, anyway."
"How is that, in any way, normal?"
"Well, I mean," she fumbled, "It's been happening a lot lately."
Katara raised an eyebrow. "Every morning?"
"Yeah, it's the weirdest thing," Toph said as she walked to the kitchen. Katara trailed behind. "I throw up in the morning, and the rest of the day I'm fine." She scooped up a moon peach from the counter and offered it to Katara, but she graciously declined. Toph shrugged and bit into the fruit herself.
"Toph, have you considered the fact that you may be pregnant?"
The woman dressed in her suit of metal armor froze. "Naw," she said, waving a hand and trying to sound calm. "I seriously doubt that, Sweetness."
"When's the last time you had your monthly gift?"
Toph sighed in annoyance. "I don't know. A while."
"And you slept with Shi, didn't you?" Katara continued to interrogate, placing a fist on her hip.
"Yes, I slept with him! Once!"
"It only takes once."
"Whatever. I'm not pregnant."
"Whatever you say, Toph. I'll see you at the meeting." With that, Katara turned on her heel and left.
Toph groaned and flopped down on the ground. She couldn't be pregnant. She had been seeing Shi off and on for the past few years. The last time she saw him, they had slept together before he went back to Yang. But they weren't married. And they certainly weren't ready for a child. If she was pregnant, that would mean she would have to quit the force for nearly a year. She couldn't do that! Not with an entire city depending on her.
"I'm not pregnant," she said aloud to reassure herself. But the words sounded hollow.
Toph just didn't know.
Though she didn't let it show on her face, Toph terrified herself thinking about the possibility of being pregnant. Though she was mainly at the meeting for security purposes, she usually gave her opinion on different topics. She was respected by all the council members, after all. She was a war hero, the inventor of metalbending, the police chief, the best earthbender in the world, and not to mention a friend of the Avatar. But today she was silent as she continued to worry about her future.
Sokka noticed his best friend's discomfort. When the meeting let out in the afternoon, he followed her out of City Hall as she started in the direction of the police station.
"Toph!" he called. The woman paused and turned around, waiting for her friend to catch up with her.
"Hey, how come you were so quiet today?"
"I just didn't have anything to say," she lied, forcing a smile. She knew she should tell him about her problem. She really wanted to tell him. But she wasn't even sure that she was pregnant
"Are you okay?"
Toph let out a slow sigh. She lowered her voice so it was barely above a whisper. She didn't want the people around her to hear, after all. "I think I might be pregnant."
Sokka thought he had heard her right at first, but the more he thought about it the more he decided that it couldn't be. "What?" he asked.
"I said I think I'm pregnant," she repeated, this time a bit louder than before.
He stopped in his tracks and his jaw hung open. "What?" His voice was about three octaves higher than usual.
"Are you really going to make me say it again?" she asked agitatedly.
"No, no, I heard you. It's just
"Didn't your parents give you 'The Talk' when you were younger? You should really know about this by now."
"That's not what I meant. It's just, I don't know
unexpected." He knew no other way to put his feelings into words.
There was a pause before Sokka asked, "With Shi?"
"Does he know?"
"Shouldn't you go tell him?"
"First of all," Toph said, continuing on her way to the station. "I don't know for certain yet. And second, he's in Yang. He won't be back to Republic City for another month."
"When he comes back, will you tell him?"
"If I'm pregnant."
"But will you?"
"When he comes back, I will." Toph walked through the doors of the police station, the place she felt most in control.
Content with her agreement, Sokka changed the subject. "I promised Aang I would meet him and Katara for lunch. Want to come?"
"Sorry, I've got quite a bit to do here," Toph said, accepting a stack of papers from a cop.
"That's alright. See you later, Toph."
"Bye," Toph waved over her shoulder before Sokka turned and left. "Now can someone get over here and read these to me?" she fumed, waving the papers in the air.
Toph's fear proved to be true as she noticed the slightest bulge in her abdomen, her nausea continued, and her period never came. The day came when Shi had promised her he would return from his hometown.
Before going down to the docks, an overwhelming anxiety shook her. She didn't want to face this alone. She needed her best friend beside her. So she made a detour to Sokka's place.
She knocked on his door and when he opened it, he was surprised to see her standing there. "I thought you were going to meet Shi when he came in today?"
"Shouldn't you be there soon?"
Could you come with me?"
Sokka peered into her jade eyes and could easily see how afraid she was. He wasn't about to make her admit it, either. "Sure. If that's what you want."
A grin spread over her face, and she good-naturedly punched him on the shoulder. "Thanks, Snoozles."
The pair walked to the harbor in comfortable silence. When they were close enough, Toph breathed in the scent of the salty sea air she loved so much. They took a seat at the harbor where the passenger ship from the Earth Kingdom was scheduled to unload. The ship soon came, and Toph waited impatiently for Shi to arrive. She "watched" with her feet, but as more of the passengers unloaded, her boyfriend was still not accounted for.
"Where is he?" wondered Sokka aloud.
"He must be coming soon."
Finally all the passengers had unloaded, and still there was no sight of the unborn baby's father.
"Where is he?" Toph echoed frantically.
"Calm down. There must be an explanation for this," Sokka said, laying a hand on her shoulder. "He could have missed his boat. Maybe he'll come tomorrow."
But Shi didn't show up the next day. Or the next day, or the next day, or the next day
A week passed, and finally Toph was fed-up. She and Sokka had just watched the boat empty itself, and still he was nowhere to be seen. "Something must be wrong. He isn't like this," she said. "He would have written me a letter."
Sokka thought long and hard, pacing around the wooden platform as he did so. "Maybe you should go to Yang."
"What? That's crazy."
"No, it's not. You're pregnant with his child. He needs to know. And if he won't come to you, then you'll have to go to him."
"I'm not traveling all the way across the Earth Kingdom to tell him I'm pregnant."
Toph failed to find a reason other than the fact that she was scared out of her wits about it.
As if he were reading her thoughts, he offered, "What if I come with you?"
"Why would you do that?" she asked, crossing her arms.
"I could use a break from all this councilman stuff. I'm thirty and haven't had a day off in my life." Though his statement was true, he neglected to tell her the real reasons why he would do this.
"At least you have someone who could do your work for you. I can't take a break from the force! They need me!"
"Well, you'll have to take a break either way. You can't be throwing yourself in harm's way now that you're, uh, pregnant. Besides, you work too hard. Just put your lieutenant in charge. It'll be like a vacation. What do you say?"
Toph stared blankly for a few moments, mulling things over. "I say that this is, by far, the stupidest plan you've ever come up with. But I'll do it."
"Yes!" exclaimed Sokka as he pumped his fist in the air.
Toph giggled. "Just as long as you don't do that again."
Sokka mentally checked off the items he needed as he gathered them and placed them in his bag. Although the trip was only expected to last a month, he had packed enough supplies to last a lifetime. After all, Sokka was always prepared for the worst.
Meanwhile, Toph sat on her bed, nervously spinning her meteor bracelet around and around on her arm. She had never particularly liked traveling any other way than walking, even after she learned to metalbend. The motions still made her nauseous, and now that she was pregnant her unease could only get worse.
She had only packed extra clothes so far. She didn't know what else to pack. Toph hadn't traveled since her adventures in the Hundred Year War, and then she had only brought the clothes on her back. She eventually gave up and decided that Sokka would bring whatever she may have forgotten.
Toph and Sokka met each other at the docks, waiting for their ship to arrive. Before long, Katara and Aang came into view.
"What are you two doing here?" asked Sokka with a smile.
"Well, we didn't want you guys leaving without saying goodbye!" Aang said, wrapping an arm around his wife.
After farewells from their friends and boarding their ship, Sokka stood and waved to the miniscule people who were his sister and brother-in-law. Toph stood next to him, letting the sea breeze rustle her bangs in front of her face and trying to register what she was actually doing. These next few months would be the craziest of her entire life.