"I wouldn't say that..." Ty Lee shrugged. Everyone felt differently though. She happened to like the bells and whistles, and how the bells and whistles made her feel. "Yeah?" She'd have to tell Mahin to cut right to the sweets.
Putting her elbows on her knees, she pondered the other girl's question. Were all kisses created equal? It was rather an odd question. "Well, no, they're not." She decided, "Sometimes? They'll make your toes curl, and your stomach tickle, and your breath hitch! Other times? It just feels like there's an elbowleech on your face." That was the long and short of it, but she had to make sure one thing was perfectly clear first.
"If you've had a good kiss? You'll know it." She explained, "There's no grey area. No wondering. No: 'Well, I felt his mouth on mine, and it wasn't unpleasant I guess'. If it's amazing, you'll know it was amazing whether it's the first time or not. It's like taste. If you taste something for the first time, you know right away whether or not you like it." Ty Lee had had one or two amazing kisses in her life, and she found herself smiling and sighing to herself; biting gently on her upper lip for days afterwards. The endorphin high stayed with you that long. "So... was it amazing?"
"How should I know?" She snorted. "It's not like I've got a basis for comparison"
She'd have thought it was obvious that was why she'd asked the question in the first place. But she had confirmed they weren't all the same. There were good ones and bad ones. Ones that made your body...do stuff...and ones that didn't. And there was no middle ground? Surely that had to be a middle ground.
"Well it definitely wasn't an elbowleech." She admitted. She didn't really have to think back about it. It had been replaying inside her head with an annoying incessantness since it had happened, no matter what she did to try and block it out!
"It wasn't so much a tickle as a knot. And I don't think I could breathe at all." She told her. "And I MIGHT have dug some trenches in the pavement." She said as she scrunched her toes in the air.
"I can't be sure. I kinda didn't hang about too long afterwards..." She really hadn't been able to deal with how it had made her feel, so she had taken her leave rather quickly. Just short of bolting really. Even just talking about it she could feel the flame in her cheeks. Ty Lee was bound to notice and leap on the fact.
She grumbled under her breath, cursing her traitorous body.
"You just... know." Ty Lee sighed, it was hard to explain, and Toph didn't seem to want to accept that some things were instinctual rather than experiential. It didn't seem to matter anyway, since Toph went on to say, in so many words, that she had enjoyed herself... or at least hadn't not enjoyed herself.
"Oooh, a knot," Ty Lee grinned and nodded. Everyone described it a little differently, but whether it was a tickle, a knot, butterflies, or heat, it was very pleasant. "Well, that's too bad, if you liked it as much as you said you did, you could have kissed him again if you had stayed." Poor thing was blushing red at the memory... that meant there had probably been tongue!
"Gosh, I wish I had seen it! Not that I wanna ogle your make out session or anything, but... It's like an eclipse!" Toph? Was most definitely smitten. "Well, I suppose there's just one thing to do. You'll just have to kiss him again." Ty Lee teased, putting her chin in her hands and sighing. "You know, for educational purposes." Pressing her fingers into the soft skin under her jaw, she slid them up to cover her own cheeks.
Well...according to the expert it would seem it had been a good kiss. And considering that neither of them knew a thing about what they'd been doing...in fact it seemed that their instincts had been pretty much...
"Wait a minute!" She frowned. "When did I say I LIKED it?"
Of course, she hadn't said she DIDN'T like it. Damn cheeks! She knew they'd give her away. But she had wondered herself what would have happened if she hadn't beaten her rather hasty retreat...or if Rain hadn't been there...or if he'd tried to stop her...or if he'd followed her...or...well...lots of ors actually.
Oh...no." She shook her head. "No, no, no, no, no." If she shook her head any more vigorously it would be in danger of coming loose from her shoulders.
"It's not gonna happen again. It CAN'T happen again. Even for...educational purposes. He would definitely see it as going somewhere and it can't go anywhere."
She had to be strong. No matter how knotted it had made her stomach. No matter how breathless it had left her. It couldn't go any further.
Ty Lee laughed, truly taken with the other girl's innocence on the subject. "If you didn't like it, believe me, you would have told me exactly how much." Toph didn't have to say anything though, the proof was written all over her face, painted in shades of rose.
"Why not?" Toph seemed awfully resistant to the idea, and Ty Lee wasn't sure why. There were always good reasons that people came up with not to date someone, and usually? Those reasons were complete hogwash. Unless someone was taken, gay, ill, or in love with someone else, it was hard for her to justify it. "The fact that they go somewhere is one of the perks!" That whole, 'growing old together' thing that made people feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
Then again Toph and Mahin? Were they really the 'growing old together' type? Somehow she had trouble picturing them that way. "You know, I would love to have someone who loved me the way Mahin loves you." She didn't even bother trying to hide the envy in her voice. It was the truth, after all.
Okay. Maybe she had liked it. But it didn't matter. It COULDN'T go anywhere.
"They only reason we even met was because we were arranged." She said. "My parents...always wanting to control my life...always thinking they know what's best for me...they PICKED him. If anything were to happen..." She sighed. "Then they win."
It was probably a stupid reason. It was probably impossible for anyone who wasn't her to understand. She couldn't let them be right in this. It would give them too much ammunition. They'd see it as proof that they knew better than her what was good for her. She'd be back in those girly frocks squeezing out curly-haired, overly enthusiastic about everything grandchildren for them. And that wasn't what she wanted...no matter how it made her feel...
She sighed, almost wistfully...of Ty Lee's assement of that curly-haired, overly enthusiastic about everything subject of a large percentage of their conversation.
"So winning is more important than anything else?" That struck Ty Lee as silly, but she didn't voice it. "I don't know. It seems like you're still losing to me. You're losing because you're letting them force you to play the game in the first place." Game playing was something that Ty Lee was an expert on. She'd played many as a teenager, and won as many as she'd lost.
"If you were really liberated from them, If you were really your own woman, It wouldn't matter what they thought, because you'd see you've already won." It seemed like Toph was still trying to figure things out, and that was okay. Ty Lee sure as heck didn't know who she was! "It's like, you don't know how to stop fighting them."
She pursed her lips. Toph might not be obeying her parent's every whim, but she was just as tied up in their power as she'd always been. She denied herself happiness just to spite them! That couldn't be healthy.
"He really does." Ty lee heaved a melancholy sigh, reaching out to grasp her friend's shoulder in a reassuring manner. "This sort of thing, Toph, it doesn't happen every day. Sometimes it doesn't happen once in a lifetime." One could wait forever to meet their soul mate, and die alone. "I just hope you understand what you're throwing away." Ty Lee quieted then, gazing out over the precipice that they sat on the edge of.
It was an ugly thing. She was proud too, and scared too. "Don't let this slip away, Toph. That's my advice." Straightening up, she laughed in a playful manner that she used to mask the truth and scatter her meanings. "You probably shouldn't take my word for it though, I'm a total hypocrite!" It was truth, at least as she believed it, and Toph would sense as much. "You do what is best for you."
Toph frowned. Ty Lee had a point. Even if she did beat them by refusing to give in to this arranged marriage thing, she could still lose because she'd be denying herself something that could be wonderful. Half of her life had been spent pretending to be what they wanted, the other half doing whatever she could to be the exact opposite, denying them at every point just to spite them. Flatly refusing to do anything they suggested. But maybe there was some kind of loophole?
"You know..." She said after several long moments of though. "They only arranged a marriage...people can be...involved...without getting married, right?' Sparky and Sweetness were pretty much living proof of that. They even had a kid without the so-called benefits of vows.
"But I don't know if I feel that way about him." She hadn't allowed herself to think about him beyond the Sifu/student relationship because of the whole screwed up thing with her parents thing.
"I mean, I like him..." She admitted. "...it's hard not to like him. He's just so sweet and caring and...eager to please...
But I don't know if I LIKE him."
A slight smile curled her lips.
"I'd ask you if you think it's was worth finding out, but I think I already know your answer..."
Ty Lee squinted at the other girl, genuinely surprised the question was posed. Toph had to be joking around with her. Tilting her head to the side, Ty Lee nodded once, and shrugged her shoulders. "All the time." She replied with a playful grin.
Well, so much for that. Nodding once, Ty Lee put her chin in her palm. There were plenty of reasons that people got together, and like liking them was only one of many. It could be something convenient, two people working out their own frustrations. It could be envy, to make someone jealous or to pretend that you were with the person you really wanted to be with. It could even be hate. Hate burned hotter and brighter and longer than love ever could, and sometimes, that passion kindled unexpected pleasures. Toph would have to decide for herself why she wanted to bed her man.
"I think if you don't, fifty years from now, you'll look back and regret it." What was that saying? Youth was wasted on the young? There was no pleasant retirement from a life filled with riskless boredom. "What I don't get, Toph, is how you can be so completely mature about every aspect of your life, but be completely clueless when it comes to love." Love wasn't a lesson, you didn't have a Sifu come in and walk you through the basics.
"Chemistry isn't something you can control. For once? Stop being so stubborn." She chided gently, closing her own eyes and throwing her arms out theatrically. "Just close your eyes and... jump."
"It's just not something I've ever had much interest in." She admitted. "I mean, I don't even..." She trailed off to a pause, wondering just how much she should share with the other woman. "...self administer..." She finished softly.
Maybe it would help her to understand. She wasn't completely clueless...just totally inexperienced...if not plain out disinterested. But she also didn't like that she was making him unhappy. And his recent action...it had made her so...confused. Kinda happy...a little warm...but mostly confused.
Maybe she wasn't as disinterested as she thought she was. Maybe she just hadn't met anyone before that made her interested. Except maybe Sokka. And she hadn't thought about doing anything with him. Not even kissing.
"But if I were to do any of that stuff, I think there should be some kind of emotional involvement." She said. "Some kind of...I don't know...spark..."
Chemistry? Did they have chemistry? A lot of people seemed to assume they were together even though they weren't. Maybe something showed in their interactions that she wasn't aware of. Maybe that was the chemistry Ty Lee was talking about.
"I really don't think closing my eyes to jump would make a difference." She muttered.
But she knew it was a metaphor, not a literal jump. Just take a chance and see where it led...
A wicked grin overtook her features as she thought of an equally wicked idea.
"So..." She said with a mischievous tilt to her head. "You wanna come and watch me totally freak him out?"
Ty Lee raised an eyebrow, surprised that she would share something like that with her. They weren't exactly best pals, though they'd been through their own ups and downs. "Well, in my professional opinion, you should give it a try at some point." How to put it delicately so that it wouldn't embarrass the earthbender. "It's hard to tell a man exactly how to correct his form if you don't know yourself what correct form... feels like." Teaching analogy. That was the best she could do.
"Don't worry. You'll know it when you feel it, and if you don't feel it? Well you can always decide to stop." It wasn't like consent was something that could only be given once. You could withdraw it at any time! Mahin was the sort of guy who would be gracious about it too. Sometimes they weren't.
Then? Something unexpected happened.
"What?" Ty Lee blinked, then tilted her head to the side. Then a mirroring grin on her own lips spread.