"Faster, strike harder," Zuko shouted for the thousandth time to Aang. The young Avatar punched harder, shooting a small blaze of fire from his fist. "You're doing it all wrong!" The young Fire Nation prince walked forward, muttering angrily to himself.
"Sheesh, I thought I was a rough teacher," Toph stated, leaning against the wall of the beach house.
"You dropped Aang off a cliff," Sokka exclaimed. "You were the roughest teacher he had! Zuko's just a grumpy butt."
"Yeah, but he survived didn't he?"
"Only because he used Airbending," Katara replied, "And then you punished him for that!"
Toph placed a hand on her knee as she started to laugh, "Yeah, that was great."
Zuko groaned, running his hand through his hair, "Fine, go take a break."
"Yippee!" Aang shot past his Firebending teacher and back into the house. The Water Tribe siblings looked back at the energetic Avatar before looking back to an upset Zuko. The young prince stared off at the ocean with his arms folded across his chest.
"Why don't you try and tell Zuko the proper way to teach Aang Katara?" The Waterbender stared at Toph curiously, wondering what she was planning. Past experiences told Katara that that specific smirk of Toph's meant she was scheming.
"Alright…" Katara started walking towards Zuko. Sokka leaned forward before turning to Toph. Past experiences also told Sokka that Toph was plotting. That, or he was about to get hurt.
Katara stopped a few feet behind Zuko, putting her hands behind her back, "Zuko?" The prince's head perked up a bit as he looked back over his shoulder. "How's Aang doing?"
"Please don't ask…"
"Look," Katara took a step forward, "I know he can be a handful, but I want to try and help Aang learn. I can give you some advice on how to teach him better if you'd like to hear it?" Zuko's eye moved down, pondering this for a moment before he turned his body to face Katara. "Well, Aang responds well to a positive training experience. Try being just a bit gentler when instructing him instead of yelling at him."
"Or just throw him off a cliff," Toph's voice shouted. Zuko blinked in confusion as he looked back at the blind Earthbender. Katara shot an annoyed glare over her shoulder, but then realized Toph wouldn't be able to see it anyway.
"Ignore her," Katara said, turning back to Zuko. "How did your uncle teach you Firebending?"
"Actually my father more or less taught me Firebending. Uncle just taught me different forms and styles to utilize it better."
"Well…try that then!"
"He needs to know the basics first," Zuko snapped. "I can teach him more advanced moves after he's learned how to properly Firebend. I can't teach him to run before he can walk."
"With Aang, you might be surprised. Just…try being a wee bit nicer next time okay?" Zuko sighed, lowering his eyes to the ground for a moment. Katara tilted her head a bit as if to encourage his choice.
"I'll try," Zuko whispered. His ember eyes looked up to Katara's smiling face.
"Thank you so much Zuko." Katara turned around and walked back towards the beach house. The young prince sighed to himself before turning back towards the beach.
Katara stood in front of Toph, a confident smile on her face and her hands on her hips, "Well, he agreed to try my way Toph."
"That's good," Toph replied, her grin widening. Katara narrowed her eyes before snapping them up at Sokka. The Waterbender's brother shrugged in response. Katara looked back at Toph suspiciously before walking inside the house.
Toph walked forward, jumping down the stairs as she approached Zuko. The blind Earthbender stood next to the prince in silence. Zuko's eyes moved down to Toph, staring at her for a moment.
"Can I help you?"
"Why'd you say yes?"
Zuko blinked in confusion, "What do you mean?"
"To Katara. You know that teaching him Firebending by being Mister Sugar King isn't going to get him anywhere."
"The whole word is at stake and the Avatar needs to learn Firebending! At this point I'm willing to try anything." Toph giggled, putting her hands behind her head.
"Oh you're so whipped." Zuko's face twisted in shock before turning to Toph.
"You only said yes to Katara because you're whipped." Toph snapped her hand forward, making a whipping sound. A blush crept on Zuko's face before he turned back to the beach.
"You're insane. I'm not even Katara's boyfriend. How in the world could I possibly be whipped by her?"
"If Aang requested you hold his hand to learn Firebending, would you have said yes?" Zuko shifted nervously to the side. Toph paused for a moment, taking in the vibrations she just picked up. "…He did ask didn't he?"
"He told you he learns better if you're nicer and more positive, and you told him no! Oh you are SO whipped Sparky!"
"I'M NOT WHIPPED," Zuko shouted, whirling around to Toph.
"Touched a nerve did I?" The Earthbender grinned then started walking forward. "Let's take a walk Your Majesty." Zuko folded her arms across his chest, huffing in defiance. Toph stopped for a moment, confirming that Zuko wasn't following her. The Earthbender lifted her foot and stomped hard onto the ground. The earth lifted up under Zuko, pushing him forward with a nervous cry. "It wasn't a request."
"Fine…" Zuko walked down the trail with Toph, pouting in silence.
The two benders walked through the woods, Toph smiling merrily to herself while Zuko continued to look sour. "So, how long have you been whipped by Sugar Queen?"
"Not whipped," Zuko snapped.
"How long have you liked her?" Zuko grumbled silently. "I still haven't gotten revenge on you for burning my feet you know."
"I don't like her…"
'At least he responds to threats,' Toph thought with a smug grin. "Then why'd you say yes to her and not Aang?"
"I thought Aang was just making excuses to weasel out of training. Katara was actually his teacher at one point, and Aang mastered Waterbending really well."
"So you're saying I'm a crappy teacher?"
"What? No—no I didn't mean that!"
"Ah, calm down Sparky. I'm just messing with you." Toph felt Zuko's body ease slightly. 'Boy is he jumpy…'
"How did you train Aang in Earthbending?" Toph turned her blind eyes up in Zuko's direction, a knowing smile on her face.
"How would you expect me to train anybody?" Zuko laughed, rubbing the back of his neck nervously at the thought.
"Fair enough. How well did that actually work out for him?"
"He still needs some work, but he's definitely learned a lot faster than I expected him to. I tried the whole encouragement crap though. That really worked well for him. But I didn't change my teaching style for him." Toph chuckled, a wickedly evil grin crossing her face, "But I suppose that's because I'm not whipped by Katara."
This set Zuko off more than Toph expected, "I AM NOT WHIPPED!" Toph actually jumped a bit, feeling Zuko's feet turning towards her. "I do not like Katara and I am definitely NOT whipped! My girlfriend is Mai GOT IT?"
"Alright Sparky," Toph exclaimed, "Calm down before you burn down the forest." Zuko turned his head, realizing that he had inadvertently used Firebending while screaming and set a bush on fire.
"Oh son of a-," Zuko looked around for something to help but out the fire with.
The prince fell to his knees and started throwing dirt on it. Toph stood up, dusting her legs off before shaking her head before stomping on the ground. The earth around the bush shot up into the air and flipped over before the fire was smothered. Zuko turned his head, looking at Toph who simply shook her head and continued walking down the trail.
Zuko had his hands behind his back, looking to his side while Toph simply strolled casually with her hands behind her head. "I'm uh…sorry for yelling at you like that."
"Ah you're fine Sparky. At least you didn't set me on fire again." Zuko rubbed the back of his neck nervously. She certainly knew how to make people feel awkward alright. "So, tell me about your girlfriend?"
"Which one," Zuko questioned skeptically.
"You having to ask me that only proves how whipped you are." Zuko growled in irritation. "Mai. Tell me about Mai dork."
"Well uh…" Zuko put his hands on his hips while thinking. Toph was really the first person to ask about Mai. Even Sokka didn't ask after the whole Boiling Rock incident! "She's beautiful…she uh…hates a lot of things…" Zuko looked at Toph for a reaction. So far, the blind little girl seemed to stay quiet with an even expression. "She's of noble status in the Fire Nation and she's friends with Azula. At least before she helped us escape from the Boiling Rock…"
"You said she hates a lot of things right?" Zuko looked at Toph who lowered her arms to her side, "Does she like anything or is she Miss Negative?"
"She likes plenty of stuff," Zuko snapped definitively.
"Uh…well…me!" Toph's smug expression told Zuko that she wasn't too surprised. "And she likes…"
"She doesn't like anything does she?" Zuko sighed, his shoulders slumping down in defeat.
"What about you? Don't you like Sokka?" Toph stopped dead in her tracks. Zuko paused, turning around slowly. Toph's good-humored expression was now replaced by what Zuko could only describe as fury. "Uh…Toph…? You okay?"
"Who did you say I liked?"
"No one," Zuko swiftly replied. He had never seen Toph angry or even mad before. It was actually more than enough to scare the young prince a bit.
"Look here Your Majesty," Toph snapped, her finger poking the tip of Zuko's nose. The Fire Nation princes couldn't help but wonder how in the hell she got in front of him so quickly. "Sokka and I are just friends! He likes Suki the Warrior Queen got it?" Zuko couldn't help but smirk confidently as he looked down at Toph.
"Touched a nerve?" Toph opened her mouth to yell at Zuko, but then stopped herself, remembering her early conversation with the prince. To Zuko's shock, a smile crossed Toph's face as she stepped back.
"Well played Sparky. I walked right into that one didn't I?" Zuko sighed with relief, scratching the side of his head a bit.
"But…you did like him at one point right?"
Toph shrugged, "Once upon a time." The blind Earthbender continued down the trail alongside Zuko.
"I grew up and Sokka…well, he's Sokka. If Suki has the patience for him, then by all means may they live a long and prosperous life with hundreds of little warriors and idiot offspring."
"That's a mean thing to say," Zuko sarcastically stated. Toph grinned and chuckled.
"I only liked him for his looks anyway." Zuko laughed, and then paused.
"Wait…how could you…" The toothy grin Toph gave Zuko explained it all. The prince shook his head, chuckling in his own embarrassment. "So…what was the attraction to Sokka?"
"I told you: his looks." Zuko rolled his eyes, knowing he wouldn't get a real answer out of her.
"Okay, why did you stop liking him?" Maybe now she would actually give Zuko a real answer.
"You're hotter," Toph replied with the widest grin she could bare. Zuko froze, his face heating up from embarrassment. Toph laughed, feeling the embarrassed shake from the young prince.
"Y…you little…" Zuko moved to catch up with the little Earthbender and tried to shake off his embarrassment.
Toph hopped forward on one foot and then switched to the other with her arms extended out to the side. Zuko thought she might've been playing a game of hopscotch or something. The prince opened his mouth to ask, but then stopped himself. She couldn't know about hopscotch unless she could see right? Toph lowered her arms to her sides and placed both feet on the ground. Zuko stared in curiosity, noticing Toph's saddened expression past her bangs. She couldn't read minds too could she?
"Are you okay Toph," Zuko asked.
"Yeah…" Zuko's eyes drifted to the side, thinking of something else to say. "I'm just…worried I guess."
"Worried," Zuko repeated, his eyes darting back to the little girl. "Worried about what?"
"My parents." Zuko remained silent. Toph never spoke of her parents, at least not to him anyway. "They sent a couple of idiot Earthbenders after me awhile back to try and capture me and bring me back. My parents treat me like a little kid, but they don't know I'm the greatest Earthbender alive! I've been out so long on my own, and I know as soon as I go back home that they'll keep me under lock and key like some type of defenseless girl!" Toph stopped, causing Zuko to stop as well. The Fire Nation prince noticed that the blind Earthbender's fists were clenched as tightly as possible.
Zuko stepped forward, placing his hand on Toph's shoulder. "Want me to tell you a story?"
Toph scoffed, shrugging Zuko's hand off, "You think I need a little fairy tale to keep the blind little girl happy?"
"No. It's a story my mom use to tell me when I was a kid."
"No thanks," Toph replied. She didn't sound bitter at this point, just tired. "Come on, let's keep walking." Toph moved forward with Zuko next to her.
Zuko kicked a tiny pebble along the trail. He looked up at the sky and towards the sun. He would've never guessed that they had been walking for a few hours now.
"Hey Sparky," Toph murmured.
"Yeah," Zuko replied, snapping his head to the blind Earthbender. Toph hadn't said a word since mentioning her parents earlier.
"Sorry for unloading on you like that."
"Don't worry about it Toph." Zuko smiled and patted the young girl on the back. "What else are friends for?" Toph smiled back. Zuko turned his head forward and was suddenly punched in the arm. The prince's eyes widened as he grabbed his arm, "OW! What was that for?"
Toph smiled, half-embarrassed, "That's how I show affection."
"Remind me not to be nice to you anymore," Zuko groaned, rubbing his now sore arm.
"Wanna know what I do to people who make me mad?" Zuko thought about it for a moment before crossing his arms in defeat. "Didn't think so Sparky."
Zuko sighed, looking towards the nearby ocean. The prince looked over towards Toph with a smile on his face and an idea in his head. "Wanna go to the beach?"
In a matter of minutes, Zuko and Toph stood on the sandy beaches of Ember Island. Zuko sat on a rock, his head turned to the ocean in front of him while Toph sat on the sand next to him.
"So Sparky," Toph exclaimed, catching the young prince's attention. "If all you can say about your girlfriend is that she's beautiful, then why are you with her?" Zuko scratched his cheek for a moment as he thought.
"Well…when she was younger she was a lot of fun to be around. I guess as she grew up she started hating everything."
"So…you're with her because of a childhood crush? That's cute…I guess." Zuko rolled his eyes. The tone of Toph's voice led him to believe that the Earthbender thought it was anything but cute.
"I've got a question," Zuko said.
"Whenever everyone else goes out and starts swimming, how come you just hang back and let your feet soak?"
"I can't swim genius." Toph waved her hand in front of her face with a mocking smile on her face.
"What type of excuse is that? Can't swim because you're blind." Toph picked up the challenging tone in Zuko's voice. If she could see, she'd bet he was smiling. "I could teach you if you'd like."
"Yeah, a Firebender that can swim," Toph exclaimed. "That's like an Earthbender who can fly!"
"Or any type of bender who can't see," Zuko replied. Toph's eyes narrowed and her lower lip puckered out. Was he challenging her? "Come on, it's easy." Zuko stood up and took off his shirt.
"I don't think so Sparky!"
"Wanna know how my father taught me to swim," Zuko asked. Toph knew that the prince had to be grinning at this point. "Like this!" Zuko grabbed Toph, despite her surprised yelp, and hurled her out into the ocean.
Toph screamed before she hit the water. The Earthbender held her mouth shut, keeping all of the air in her body, which caused her cheeks to balloon outward. In a few seconds, something wrapped around her. Toph screamed, struggling and kicking about wildly to break free of whatever held her.
"TOPH!" The Earthbender stopped for a moment, realizing that she was no longer under water. The Earthbender blinked for a moment with a blank expression on her face. She reached out, her small hand touching Zuko's face to confirm that it was indeed the prince who saved her. She didn't want to mistake him for Suki after all.
"I am so gonna hurt you for that," Toph stated.
"Hey, at least you didn't drown. My father told me sink or swim. I sunk."
"Your father is a maniac, and why're you throwing me into the water? DO I LOOK LIKE A LITTLE PRINCE ZUKO TO YOU!" Zuko leaned back as Toph screamed in his ear.
"Alright, start kicking your legs."
"Start kicking your legs back and forth so you'll stay afloat." Toph felt Zuko's arms unfold from her body.
"Zuko," the Earthbender pleaded, grabbing his hands desperately.
"I'm right here," the prince replied. "Kick." The Earthbender kicked furiously and as fast as she could. "Stop, stop, stop, stop!" Toph stopped, growing annoyed with the lesson already. "Kick gently. The harder you fight, the harder the water will fight back. Kick gently." Toph groaned, wanting nothing more than to head back to sweet, sweet land. She started to kick her legs back and forth. "Now you got it. I'm going to let go now."
"NO!" Toph shot forward, latching to the prince desperately.
"I'm not going to let you sink," Zuko laughed, trying to pry Toph off. "I'm just going to see if you can float." Toph's eyes narrowed off into the distance, skeptical of Zuko. "If I let you sink I promise you can kick my butt when we get back to land."
Toph huffed before loosening her grip on Zuko. The prince grabbed Toph's hands and started to let her float outward. Toph started kicking gently like before. "Alright, now when I let go you've got to move your arms around too. Still gently though got it?"
"Got it," Toph replied. She mentally kicked herself for trembling as she felt Zuko's hands slip away. Toph started moving her arms, bobbing up and down in the water.
"There you go!" Toph smiled, still trembling a bit in anxiety. "Now to swim you just move your head forward, let your legs float back and do the same thing."
"O-okay…" Toph slowly moved her head forward, moving her arms and legs. She could feel herself moving forward in the water.
"Spirits, you're a fast learner." Toph stopped when she felt Zuko holding her up in the water. "You wanna know how to swim under water now?"
"Land please." Zuko smiled and swam back to shore with Toph on his back. The prince started to walk on the beach with his blind friend clinging to his back until they were completely away from the water. Zuko stopped and Toph jumped down, falling flat on her stomach. "Oh sweet, sweet land! I missed you so much!"
"Technically that's sand," Zuko replied.
"Technically…" Toph slammed her fists into the sand with all her might. Two waves of sand shot up in front of Zuko, throwing him high into the air. Toph closed her eyes and snuggled with the land as she heard Zuko's screaming getting fainter and fainter until there was a distance splash. "Sink or swim Sparky."
A couple of minutes later, Toph heard the wet sloshing of someone walking back up on shore. The Earthbender flipped over on her back and started to crawl away from the undoubtedly angry Zuko.
The prince's cheeks were bloated as he walked up to Toph and towered over her. Zuko then shot a narrow stream of water from his mouth which hit Toph on the top of her head. The Earthbender froze, one of her eyes twitching in disbelief. Zuko ran out of water and smiled.
"I hate you so much right now…" Zuko rolled his eyes then helped Toph to her feet.
"It's getting late. We should head back before the others get worried."
"Awe, is somebody afraid of the dark," Toph mocked in a patronizing tone that a parent used on their two year old child. Zuko looked less than pleased at Toph before turning to the blind Earthbender.
"Alright, then what do you want to do? You're afraid of the water, and we can't get too far away from the house otherwise we'll run into the crowds."
"I dunno. I kinda liked walking around. It was your idea to go to the beach because you thought it'd be oh-so-hilarious."
"It was kinda funny," Zuko stated. Toph's arms fell to her sides, an annoyed look on her face which Zuko noticed in a heartbeat.
In an instant, Toph threw her right arm and knee up, launching a wave of sand at Zuko. The prince moved a second before the attack could hit, flipping backwards onto his hands as the sand fell back onto the beach. Zuko smirked, as did Toph. The Earthbender spun around and threw her left arm forward in a position looking much like a Firebender's. Zuko leaped to the side, landing gracefully on one foot before thrusting his fist forward. Toph heard the crackling flames approaching before she spun around the ball of fire, moving closer to solid earth while keeping her body faced towards the prince.
Zuko noticed where Toph was heading and quickly ran to stop her. The Earthbender shot her arm out to the side before throwing it forward to send a large rock flying towards him. Zuko skidded to a halt, surprised that Toph could Earthbend so far away from solid earth. The prince jumped over the boulder, flipping smoothly over it as the rock flew under his back. Zuko landed and looked up, seeing that Toph had her feet back on solid ground.
Zuko punched two fireballs at Toph and finished by spinning around, unleashing a thin wave of fire from his foot before rushing in behind his attacks. Toph listened carefully before jerking her head to the side, avoiding the first. She ducked to dodge the second. The Earthbender slammed her foot into the ground and threw both of her hands up, bringing up a wall between her and the last wave of fire. Zuko leaped over the wall, punching two more fireballs at Toph from above.
The Earthbender moved forward and slammed through her wall of earth effortless. Zuko landed on the ground, staring in shock as he saw the earth wall surround Toph. The Firebending prince stepped back cautiously into a defensive stance. He had not idea how strong this new earth armor was.
Toph rushed forward, her footsteps sounding as heavy as Aapa's. Zuko stepped back again and launched a couple of fireballs forward. Toph didn't stop as the flames hit her armor, not fazing her in the slightest. Zuko's face lit up with shock and worry before he threw both fists forward side-by-side, unleashing a powerful wave of fire. Toph put her arms in front of her face, taking the full heat of the flames as she moved closer to Zuko. The prince stopped his Firebending and shot backwards as Toph threw her fist forward. Zuko landed on his hands and sprung back up onto his feet, crouched in another defensive position.
Toph threw her arms outward, throwing the flames off of her earth armor. Zuko was almost positive at this point he was in over his head. The armor opened up around Toph's head, an angered look on her face. Zuko blinked in confusion, knowing that her scowl couldn't be meant for him.
"What in the world are you two doing?" A fresh jolt of fear straightened Zuko up before he whirled around, staring at a baffled Katara who had her hands on her hips and that all too familiar scolding motherly look. "You two have been gone for hours and here I find you both fighting! What is this all about?"
"It's just a friendly sparring match," Zuko quickly replied.
"Yeah Sugar Queen, quit throwing such a hissy fit."
"We are on a Fire Nation island FULL of Fire Nation people who are ALL looking for us! A boy with a scar on his face using Firebending and an Earthbender would TOTALLY stand out!"
"Sorry Katara," Zuko murmured.
"We are trying to keep a low profile here and you two are brawling out in the open like a couple of delinquents!"
"Sorry Katara," Zuko repeated.
"I mean SERIOUSLY! How can you-,"
"I said sorry Katara!" The Waterbender was silent at Zuko's outburst. The prince's angry face immediately switched to a more docile and apologetic one.
Katara threw her arm out, a lash of water following her arm and smacking Zuko across the face. "Ow!" The prince rubbed his cheek in pain before looking back up at Katara.
"Come on. Dinner is ready."
"Yes ma'am," Zuko murmured. Katara gave one last disapproving look before turning on her heels and heading back up to the house. Zuko watched the angry Waterbender with the same sorry look on his face.
"Yeah," Toph said next to Zuko, causing him to jump a bit in fright. "You are SO whipped."
"I am NOT!" Toph walked forward, laughing in triumph as Zuko followed her and explained how he was not whipped.
Later that night, after eating dinner, Team Avatar sat down and listened as Sokka told them a story about how he was hunting a large predator back home, only for Katara to correct his story every minute or two. As it turns out, Sokka likes to exaggerate his stories to make himself seem more heroic. Zuko smiled, as Katara lectured her brother into a corner. The Firebending prince looked around the group, realizing that Toph was nowhere in sight. Zuko looked back at the group, all of who was too busy laughing at the Water Tribe siblings, to notice as the banished prince snuck off.
Zuko walked all around his former summer home, and hadn't found a trace of Toph. He sighed, putting his hands on his hips. Where could that troublesome girl be? The banished prince decided to walk away further from the house. He looked all around the woods, and found no sign of her. Zuko scowled angrily.
"Maybe she's back at the beach house," Zuko mused to himself. The prince turned around to head back up to the house, but stopped for a moment. He turned his head back over his shoulder. He definitely heard something coming from the beach. Zuko turned around and walked towards the beach. As he walked into the clearing, he saw Toph curled up on a rock with her knees pulled up to her chest. "Toph…?" Zuko heard the Earthbender gasp and saw her flinch. "Are you okay?"
"I'm fine," Toph replied, her voice breaking. The Earthbender sniffed as Zuko approached her. "I just want to be alone Zuko." The prince stopped in his tracks. She never called him by his actual name did she?
"Toph something is wrong. I want to help if I can."
"You can't alright! So just back off and leave me alone!" Zuko gasped lightly in shock. Toph pulled her legs back up to her chest, hiding her face completely.
"Toph…you're my friend." Zuko walked up, circled around the rock and sat in front of the blind Earthbender. "And I'm not leaving until you tell me what's wrong."
"You wanna know what's wrong?" Toph's head snapped up and she 'glared' angrily at Zuko. Her eyes were red, showing she had been crying for awhile. "Everything's wrong that's what! Aang is going to kick the Fire Lord's ass sometime soon, and everything will be back to normal! Everyone gets to go home and live their normal lives before they were roped into helping the Avatar! I get to go back and live with my parents who probably will keep me locked away in a cage!"
"At least you can bend metal right?" Toph's face hardened. "Sorry," Zuko muttered. The banished prince noted that jokes were a bad idea.
"I don't want to go home, but I don't want the Fire Lord to win either. I know I'm being selfish, but I also know that after I go back home I'll never see any of you again! My parents won't let me go anywhere and they won't let any of you come to visit me!" Toph hid her face out of sight again, burying her forehead into her knees.
Zuko sighed, eyes focused on the ground as he tried to think of what to say. An idea came to mind, the result of which would have one of two effects. Either, A) Toph would feel better, or B) Toph would beat the living daylights out of Zuko. Taking a moment to gather his courage, Zuko looked up at Toph sitting on the rock.
"There once was a princess in a faraway land. She always wanted to see the world, and leave her home, but her parents wouldn't allow it. She tried several times to run away from home, but her parents stopped her each and every time. Finally they got fed up and locked the princess away beneath their castle. It was punishment for her, to teach her not to run away from home and she could come out whenever she promised not to run away. After several days, the princess lied, saying she had learned her lesson. She was allowed to live as a princess again, and she didn't try to run away again until she knew she wouldn't be caught. One day, a young man from a foreign land appeared to the princess's castle. They both fell in love from the moment they saw each other. The young man stayed a few nights in the castle in order to try and get close to the princess, but he was wearing out his welcome with the king and queen of the land.
"The night that he was getting ready to the leave, the princess came along and wanted to be taken away from the castle. The young man agreed, and the two fled from the castle, and ran until they were outside of the princess's homeland. She was finally freed and they lived together for ever."
Zuko looked at Toph who remained motionless. He was trying to read her thoughts, but that was hard enough whenever she wasn't being emotional. Finally, Toph's head slowly moved upward so only her eyes were visible to Zuko.
"I always liked that story," Toph murmured. Zuko mentally sighed to himself. Looks like Toph wasn't going to beat the snot out of him after all. "I liked that for once it was a normal guy and not some cliché knight in shining armor that saved the princess. I don't see how that's supposed to make me feel better though Sparky…"
"Well," Zuko said, scooting around to sit next to Toph's rock. "You're like the princess. Only instead of being taken away by one person, you were taken away by a group of people. And you get to help save the world."
"I still don't understand how-,"
"Also, my mother told me the rest of the story." Toph was silence, a curious expression painted on her face.
"Rest of the story? That's all there is right?"
"No," Zuko shook his head. "My mom told me that there was more to the story, but not many people know it.
"After years of living together, the princess and husband were very happy, and even had a small family. But the princess was still missing something. She missed her mother and father, despite that they would never let her leave. After talking it over, the family traveled back to the princess's homeland. When they arrived, the king and queen were overjoyed to see their daughter again. The princess was confused; she thought they'd be furious. But the king and queen were so heartbroken when their daughter left that all they wanted was to have her back. They blamed themselves, and promised to the Spirits that if their daughter were to ever return that they would allow her all the freedom in the world. So long as they got to see their princess again."
Toph remained silent, her eyes distant and softening at the ending of the story. Zuko looked up at the Earthbender, waiting for her to react first.
"Do you really think my parents will have missed me that much…?"
"Without a doubt Toph," Zuko replied, smiling at his friend. Toph rested her chin on her knees, mulling over something. "All parents love their children, and they would do anything to make sure they're safe. That's probably why your parents sent those two Earthbenders after you. If they're overbearing it's because they care too much. It's only because they love you Toph. I mean who couldn't love the world's greatest Earthbender: Toph Bei Fong?"
A small smile came across the Earthbender's lips. Her head turned in Zuko's direction as a tear of happiness fell down her cheek. "Thanks Zuko…"
"No problem. And besides, my Uncle could become Fire Lord once Aang deals with my father. Do you really think that your parents could say no to the Fire Lord, his nephew, and the Avatar if we wanted to visit?"
"I guess they couldn't," Toph said, her smile widening. "And if worse comes to worse, I can Earth and Metalbend my way out of there!"
"That's the spirit," Zuko exclaimed. "Oh, don't forget Sandbending."
"YEAH!" Toph rose up from her rock and threw her arms outward. A giant wave of sand flew forward and into the ocean. Toph then slammed her foot through the rock she sat on, reducing it to pebbles. Zuko laughed at the sight of a chunk of rock being stuck around Toph's foot. The blind Earthbender paid no mind to it as she shook her foot, "Now get me some metal!"
"WHAT IS GOING ON HERE!" Toph and Zuko turned to the sound of Katara's scolding voice. "You two aren't thinking of continuing that sparring match are you!"
"N-no Katara," Zuko sputtered.
"Then explain why Toph has a rock on her foot!"
"It's me Sugar Queen," Toph replied with a casual shrug. "Why wouldn't I have a rock around my foot?"
"I can't believe you two. When you get back to the house you're both not leaving without someone escorting you, do you understand?"
"Katara listen: Toph was gone after dinner and I went out to find her. We're not sparring, and we're not doing anything that would attract attention. We're just talking alright, so lay off." Katara's eyes widened a bit.
Toph smiled and patted Zuko's shoulder, "Well, well Sparky, looks like you're not so whipped after all."
"Oh yes he is," Katara snapped. The Waterbender walked up and grabbed both Zuko and Toph by their ears.
"Ow, ow, ow, ow, ow," both benders exclaimed.
"You're both going to listen to me alright," Katara hissed. "Otherwise there's going to be trouble alright?"
"Yes ma'am," Zuko groaned. Katara let go of both the benders before walking back up to the house. The prince and blind girl rubbed their ears in pain. Zuko looked at Toph whose expression soured.
"Whipped," Toph muttered before walking back up to the house. Zuko sighed as he followed Toph, realizing there was no point in arguing with the stubborn ass Earthbender at this point.
Hm…it's been awhile since I wrote a one-shot. And it's my first time writing an Avatar: Last Airbender fic. I wrote this when the idea of Toko wouldn't leave my head, but somehow I ended up with implied Zutara. The reason for writing this is to see how well I could write a Last Airbender fan-fiction. With a positive outcome, I might write a post-war fic involving our favorite blind Earthbender.
So, I hope you enjoyed this story =)