Cala: As we all know, Toph is one ridiculously cool chick. So why not write a fix about her? Together, Hotspur (the creative and deep Miss who brought you Downfall) and I (that other girl who occasionally updates) have decided that this absolutely must be done. Why, you may ask? Simply put, this fandom lacks variety. I'm sure a lot of people would like to crucify me for that above statement, but what did you expect from the smart-ass who brought you Defeated? Sorry, but it's true. Sutra can be good, but Zutara is getting overrated. Sorry. Anyway, we decided to make a fic about Toph. And to make it even cooler, why not make it a ship? After much long and poignant AIM conversation, Hotspur and I have concluded that ZxT is the OTP of Avatar. And we hope that this fic will make you see the light as well. Enjoy!
Hotspur: So here is chapter two. Now we get Toph's side of the story. I welcome Cala on board and know she will make this ship sail. Zuko and Toph are two of our favorite characters and we have a great story planned and it's going to be quite a few chapters with lots of great adventures. Special thanks to Kissing-Off and Zillian, as well as all the people who reviewed. We have created a new pairing!
I'm Still Here
All you wanted, I could be
Now you know me, and I'm not afraid
And I wanna tell you who I am
-Goo Goo Dolls
"Good to see you again," I said to Iroh as I plunked down next to my new friend. Iroh had sent Sparky to get more water for us. I was happy with the help I had pounded into the mopey teenager. It would take a while before he was worth my time. Still, it was a start.
"I thank you for getting through to my nephew. You are a good friend, Miss Toph. I cannot thank you enough." Iroh said. His footsteps were steady and calm, but he could stand to lose a few pounds. I liked that about him. His presence felt relaxing to me.
"He walks heavy. He's in pain You seem to attract a lot of trouble. You aren't a half-bad person. Why is the fire bitch after you and Firebender formally known as Mopey?" I asked, cutting straight to the point.
"You had the honor of meeting my niece. Azula. She's a prodigy and the beauty of the family. She also happens to be a deranged sadist," Iroh said, his voice getting furious, vibrating through the earth.
"Your niece? Then she is…?" I asked, feeling sick. That's why Sparky was prickly. "Makes me glad I'm an only child."
"I would not have minded being an only child. You should meet my brother, Zuko's father. He's almost as bad as Azula. But the muddiest water contains a lotus. Out of my brother came my beloved nephew. For that, I am very grateful."
"He's Prince Zuko, isn't he? I know you're the Dragon of the West," I told him. I had my servants read to me all the adventures of the great general. He had almost broken down the gates of Ba Xing Xe. Then one day, he gave up. I always wanted to know why he had ran. The minute of the words came out of my mouth, I could feel the sadness in his posture.
"It is not a part of my past that I am proud of. But yes, we were once royalty. Zuko was the heir to the throne before he was…"
"Tossed out for being worthless. Even the Earth Nation knows that. Ozai said if Zuko was captured, he could rot in prison for all he cared. Ozai wasn't shelling out cash for ransom. What did Sparky do?" I enquired. Must have been something big. Father would have died for a son who could see, instead of a "fragile little daughter."
Iroh sighed sadly. "Zuko was born unlucky, according to his father. It isn't true. He is no phenomenon, but Zuko has great talents in many areas and in any other family, would have been considered a source of great pride. The problem is Zuko was a gentle child, caring, and kind. He was a dear child, but having a supremely talented little sister kept him in the shadows. Azula took to fire bending like a turtle-duck to water. Ozai openly favored her and encouraged her cruel tendencies. He constantly struck down Zuko's self-esteem. The more he did, the more Zuko tried to please him. It all came to a head when…" Iroh stopped talking. His breathing was not good.
"We'll drop the topic. Ozai was looking to get rid of Zuko. I get it. I just don't know Zuko didn't leave earlier. Stand up for himself and tell his father where to shove it."
"First of all, because Ozai would not have hesitated to kill Zuko. He considered my nephew a failure no matter what he did. My poor nephew barely escaped with his life before. Second, because it is often not easy to answer back to our parents. I am pleased that you were blessed with parents you can open your heart to," Iroh said, his voice growing softer.
I tried not to laugh. The day I could be honest with my parents would be the day I could see them. They just saw me as helpless. "Some people have stupid parents," I said, hearing Zuko's footsteps.
"Tea's ready." He sounded tired. I sat down next to the old man. Zuko poured me a hot glass of tea. I was tired and could use something warm. This place smelled like teenage sweat and field grass. For some reason, I found that nice.
"You certainly gave him a workout, Miss Toph," Iroh laughed, which made the ground vibrate nicely. I smirked at Iroh a little. I probably could kick his ass too, if I wanted to.
"I was a little tough on him today, yeah. More than I usually am to newbies," I replied positively as I drank the tea. It was as bitter as Sparky! I could barely swallow.
"It's better that you're tough on me. I need to be ready for anything…" Sparky said in his normal serious tone of voice.
"Well, that's why I'm staying with you. To be your tutor," I said in a confident voice. I had already decided to stay with them. They needed me. I held out my glass, deciding I wanted more of the strange tea. I could sense him hesitating as he took my glass.
"Miss Toph are you sure that is wise? What about your friends?" Iroh asked. He placed the cup on the ground and I bended the earth to move it back to my hand. I smelled the tea's weird odor and took a long sip. It was bitter but it was better nothing than nothing.
"Iroh, I have to protect you from that psycho fire-lady. Sparky here can barely help himself. I think it's up to me to be the one to protect you," I said. Iroh had been the only person to understand me and I wanted to stay with him.
Zuko breathed in angrily. "I am perfectly capable of defending myself and my uncle," he hissed.
I was still smiling. I liked his reaction. Twinkle-toes would have just sulked or sniffled back to Sugar Queen. Sparky had spirit and didn't let me push him around. "Well, not yet. Now you are a weak kitten. Just give me a few days. You'll be able to take on anything."
Sparky got to his feet quickly. I was about to kick his butt again. Luckily, Iroh shoved him back down in his seat. Sparky grunted something under his breath and began noiselessly sipped his tea.
Our small camp got quiet. I started thinking about Twinkle-Toes and Sugar Queen and Ponytail. "Besides, they don't care about me either way," I muttered as I slurped my tea.
"What do you mean by that, Miss Toph?" Iroh questioned. I bend two pebbles around in a circle under my palm, low to the ground. That always helped me concentrate more.
"They're so stupid. They don't see life's a battle. Every man for himself. And when I try and do things my own way, they piss and moan. I don't need that," I grumbled, slamming the cup down. The two firebenders were quiet for a while.
I then felt Zuko get up and start to walk away. "I'm looking for some place to make camp. You can come if you want," he yelled over to us. I wasn't sure if he was talking to me. Confused, I listened for Iroh to speak.
"You go ahead, Miss Toph. I will come find you after I have finished my tea,"
"Thanks. It was…interesting," I say, bowing and running over to where I could sense Zuko's footsteps disappearing into the woods.
"I know what you mean," Zuko said, trampling over small trees. He kept snapping twigs under his heavy feet. That popping annoyed me.
"About people not understanding the way of the world. I know where you're coming from," he said, brushing past a tree limb. I reached out to move the branch away from my face. I was so confused that I couldn't feel it. As I started looking for it, Zuko gave an irritated sigh.
"I'm holding it for you. Keep walking," he ordered.
"I may be blind but I am not helpless. I see through vibrations; your brainless ways of helping me makes things more annoying. I don't need your help!" I snapped at his stupidity. Suddenly, I felt him move behind me a bit and place a hand on my back. Pushing me, I stutter-stepped forward. I heard Zuko let go of the limb.
"You are blind, but you are very strong so there is no real reason to pity you. Anyway, I don't have time to bicker with you," Zuko said, as he kept walking. I had to admit; I was shocked. I kind of lowered my head and allowed a smiled to myself.
"Yeah, well, I could say the same about you…" I mumbled, following Zuko's footsteps as he walked on. He didn't reply but instead just kept on moving. Twigs snapped beneath his feet and he quietly cursed when a thorn cut his clothes and skin. I didn't say anything either. I could hear our two sets of footsteps stepping lightly on the dead leaves of the forest floor.
We continued until we came to a clearing, with the feel of the solid dirt beneath my feet. "This place seems suitable," Zuko said softly. I had to admit, the loamy dirt felt wonderful. I walked around it a little, enjoying the feel of the earth.
Zuko began to busy himself with clearing away some of the fallen logs. I would have helped him, but the boy needed to build up his strength. He grunted while trying to lift a particularly big log. The grunt sounded far too loud, though. That was when I felt a large tremble in the earth.
"Zuko, something is coming," I warned, ready to cause some damage. I raised my hands, eager to fight. I was expecting the Fire bitch. No one was going to hurt Iroh with me around!
Upon hearing the low growl, I knew that we had another problem. "Don't move," Zuko breathed, as the animal got closer and give another low growl.
"What is it?" I asked. Zuko came up behind me and taking my shoulder, forced me behind him. "Hey! What's the big idea? I can take it!" I snapped and tried to force him away. If he thought I was weak, I'd send him home to Uncle crying.
"Stay out of the way. I have to handle this alone," Zuko commanded in a steely voice. No whining like Aang, he had no hesitation. I supposed he had to take on threats somehow. I could respect that. I backed away a few steps and let him fight. I could bail him out if I wanted. It would be fun to listen to him make an attempt. I backed up until I could sense that I was under a shady tree and decided to find out what would happen.
"Zuko, if things get out of control…" I yelled over to him, not finishing my sentence. He didn't answer. I decided just to be quiet. I really wanted to see what my new student could do. I knew I could stop the animal. He had to learn to do it too.
"Go away!" I heard him yell at the creature. It growled and whinnied a bit.
I heard Zuko yell again and change his stance. The animal pawed the earth. It was going to flatten Iroh's nephew! I could feel it charge. As I raised my hands to help out, Zuko rolled out of the way. He quietly cursed and got back up on his feet, pressing down for a moment to jump into the air. For a second, I couldn't sense his vibrations at all. Iroh would never forgive me if I lost his nephew.
Suddenly he was there, landing hard on the earth. The beast gave a loud growl and charged furiously again. I couldn't feel movement from Zuko. I wondered if he had frozen up and wimped out. That would have been disappointing. The pounding got closer. I lifted up my leg in order to move the earth around Zuko. I had to get him out of way before the creature squished him.
Suddenly, I heard Zuko yell, along with a huge crash of the thunder noise. Waves of heat rushed by my face. I put up my arm to protect my face.
The creature shrieked and ran around a bit, confused. I heard it whinny again before running away back to the forest. There was some crackling and the smell of smoke. That was some powerful movement!
Zuko was panting hard. I felt him take a few weary steps around the campsite. "You did good," I called over to him from under my shady hideout. I crossed my arms and half-smiled. He had impressed me a little bit.
Zuko panted and coughed a little. He walked over to me and fell to the grass, exhausted. "I know it was good. But why do you care?"
"Because I could feel some awesome power in your moves. Teach me some," I said, kneeling next to him. I felt him shift onto his side, placing his head into the palm of his hand.
"You want to learn fire bending style?" he asked, serious. I nodded. I heard him take a long breath in, trying to get some rest. "It won't be easy. Fire bending is a delicate art of learning to balance power and restraint," he said, sitting up.
"I know. But I've mastered Earth bending easy and I'm only twelve. I can learn another form," I said, standing up and dusting off my pant legs. I offered my hand to help Zuko up. I was surprised to see he took it. He pulled himself off and began to dust off his back and arms. He then walked out from under the shade to get Uncle Iroh.
"Alright, I'll teach you. But I won't go easy on you," he called over to me. I smirked as I got up to follow him on our new journey.
"Just the way I like it."
AN-Toph and Zuko start training. Zuko learns some important lessons about strength. Oh and Toph wants to blend Earth-bending and Fire bending techniques, like how Iroh blended fire and water together. Tune in for a very long and in depth story with some twists and turns.