A/N: You don't need to read "In Love, Death, and Life" to read this story (although I recommend reading the former, of course), but it takes place during that story. "In Love, Death, and Life", the group is captured in a Fire Nation base and separated into different cell chambers. Since the story was from Katara's perspective, you never got to hear about Toph's experience. So, as promised, here's Toph's story.
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Toph On Ice
"Let me down, you stupid cowards!" Toph's insistent, harsh-sounding cries echoed off the walls of the building. "I bet I could take all four of you with my eyes shut!"
"Does that seem like much incentive to let you down?" one of the guards said – the one that was holding her left arm.
She couldn't see him, no, but she could sense that he was the least afraid of the group. The guard holding her right foot seemed to be the most nervous; his heart was hammering faster and harder than any of the others'. This was, of course, good reason to threaten him.
"Hey you!" she bellowed, much louder than necessary. "The one holding my right foot. If you hold on any tighter my foot'll fall right off. Do you really want to face the wrath of the best Earthbender in the world?"
Ah yes, she felt the grip loosen slightly. If only she could get one foot on the ground – just one – she could take out all four of these Fire Jerks. But no, Mr. Steady Heartbeat had to take control.
"Don't listen to her," he ordered calmly. "If this Bender gets one foot on the ground, we're toast."
"Only if you start throwing fire around, in which case you'll be burned toast," Toph interjected. She laughed loudly, using this opportunity to kick her legs in an attempt at freedom. "Haha! Get it? Burned toast –"
"Will you stop that?" snapped the man holding her left foot.
Toph shrugged, though doing so was awkward since she was being carried by her arms and legs. "Sure. Why didn't you just ask?" She went limp, yawned, and asked, "So, where are we going on this fine day?"
"We're locking you up," said the nervous one.
Genius. Absolutely genius. She was surrounded by idiots!
"That's nice," she said casually. "I imagine you're going to lock me up in some cold cell with thick metal doors so I can't get out?"
The 'fearless' guard laughed. "Nice try, Earthbender. We've heard about you and your special talent. No, we've been ordered to prepare a special cell for you." Fantastic. So Sokka hadn't been pulling her leg when he said something about a special cell chamber.
"Is it cool?" she asked with mock interest. In reality, all of this was beginning to annoy her. She had other, more important things to take care of; Sokka, Aang, and Katara were all locked up, for instance. And Aang, well… he had more than just a cell to deal with at the moment.
"Yes, it's very cool," the guard replied, "You'll be able to chill just fine."
Toph noticed his emphasis on the word 'chill' and almost winced. She had a sudden, terrible suspicion that they were going to put her in an ice cell of some sort. Bending metal was one thing, but ice? Ice didn't qualify as earth. Katara would have been welcomed with open arms right about now.
On the other hand, she did have Sokka's big coat. He'd approached her shortly before they were all separated with the thought that she may be locked up in a cold, icy cell. Then he'd demanded that she put the jacket on and keep it until they met again. She'd done as instructed; after all, they were near the equator, but an ice chamber sounded, well, cold.
Ice. Toph hated ice just as much as she hated water. Coincidentally, her cell contained both. The Firebenders managed to somehow carry her across a large pool of water and deposit her on a thick sheet of floating ice. Before she could do a thing, though, they had left again.
"This isn't the last you'll hear from me!" she shouted when she heard the cell door shut and click locked. Until then, though, she thought that she'd get used to her surroundings.
The ice upon which she stood had been covered with some sort of rug, though it didn't cover the entire block. The block wasn't very big – only about seven feet by seven feet, and cold. Very, very cold. It didn't rock or sway, and she figured that the block, which rose up only a few inches from the water's surface, must be held to the equally frozen ground by some sort of rope system.
Toph, who was now no more than a blind twelve-year-old, sat down on the carpet and sighed. She couldn't feel any vibrations or anything, so she would have to rely on her hearing.
"Alright Toph," she grumbled to herself, laying down. "You can't swim and you can't 'see' anything. So you just have to wait for Twinkletoes to make some sort of great escape... This is going to be a looong stay."
And she was right.
Week One: Day One: Night One
Toph pulled Sokka's jacket tighter around her body. She was cold, very cold. It seemed that during the night – or, at least, she suspected that this was night – everything got a whole lot colder on the Ice Block, as she called it. Though she probably wouldn't thank him in person, she was grateful that Sokka, at least, had thought ahead. Meanwhile, she was incredibly bored sitting on this big ice block for all hours, with the exception of when those four Firebending guards escorted (carried) her to a bathroom with frozen floors and walls during several points of the day.
"Let's see what you've got in your pockets, Sokka," Toph said aloud, and stuck her hands in the pockets.
The first thing she pulled out was a spare hair band. With a laugh, she put it around her wrist and dove back into the jacket pockets. Among the other things she discovered were a pair of gloves (which she put on later), lots of dust bunnies, a coin, a dead bug and –
"Food!" she exclaimed, holding up a cracker. She shoved the whole thing in her mouth, began chewing, and then gagged. "Blech!" she spat the cracker into the water. "Make that moldy food," she grumbled.
Week One: Day Seven
"Hey, you know, I think my insides are starting to cave in over here," Toph announced. The guard didn't answer, but she wasn't all that surprised. "Are you still upset over today's mishap, Guard? Look, I'm sorry about kicking you in the face. If we can resolve our differences, maybe you could get me some food."
The guard sighed in exasperation. Toph changed tactics.
"If I was pregnant, would you give me more food?"
A pause. "Maybe."
"Well what if I told you that I was pregnant?" She wasn't, but it was worth a shot.
"You're not, so we're not going to travel down that road," replied the guard gruffly.
Week Two: Day Six
"Hey you, Guard!" she shouted at the guard who had given her food and left again. She picked up her piece of bread, broke it in half, and threw it as hard as she could. It hit the door and fell into the water. "This food stinks! I want some gourmet, you hear me?"
The door to her cell slammed shut.
"I know you hear me, Guard! When I get out of here, you'd better run before I kick your sorry butt!" She paused. "Hey, can I get another bread in here? I'm a growing girl, I need food!" Another pause. "And I wouldn't say no to some rocks, either!"
Week Three: Day Four
"I wonder what they're up to," she muttered from where she lay, sprawled out, on the rug. Her stomach growled. "I wonder if they're getting any more food than I am."
She sat up and faced the direction of the door, where the guard was probably sitting.
"Hey guard!" she called.
"What is it?" snapped the guard.
"I would really love some food in here, you know?"
"Sorry, no can do." He didn't sound sorry in the slightest. Toph hmmph-ed and crossed her arms.
"Well you stink," she said. "In fact, my super sense of smell can smell you all the way over here. Did you have any friends growing up, Stinky? I'll bet not. That's why you joined the Ozai – because he probably can't smell you!"
There was a pause, followed by, "You know, insulting me isn't going to get you any food any faster."
Week Three: Day Five
"Hey Mister Guard, can you hear me?"
Toph waited and listened for any type of sound. Finally a grunt from the normal guard proved answer enough. She propped her chin on her hand and sighed.
"Listen Guard, I know we got off on the wrong foot and everything," she began in a conversational tone, "but I think we should start over, you know? What's your name?"
"Okay then, I'll just call you Guard. How does that sound?"
Still no answer.
"Great! So, Guard, I think we can become real great friends." She sounded friendly and conversational. "We have a lot in common. You're probably not blind like I am, but I bet you don't like being stuck here all the time. I'll bet you have all sorts of guardly duties, right? That's neat. I bet, when all this is said and done, we can be great friends. What do you say to that, Guard? I think we get along just fine, don't you?"
No answer. "Look, is this about me calling you 'Stinky' yesterday? Well I lied – you don't stink at all. In fact, I bet you're a really great-looking, nice-smelling guy."
Finally, the guard replied in a gruff voice, "I'm not giving you any extra food, no matter what you say."
Toph scowled. "Fine! See if I care, you big wuss. Like I need your help anyway." She crossed her arms across her chest and flopped backwards onto the ice.
Week Three: Day Seven
Feel the ice. Feel the ice. Feel the ice.
"Nope. I got nothing." Toph sighed and slumped back down. So bending ice was useless in every aspect. She'd just spent the last few hours trying to make it move just a little, but so far the only movement she got was the rumbling of her stomach. Perhaps, she thought, starvation would be easier to put up with than these bread-and-water meals.
Annoyed, Toph reached into Sokka's pocket and took out the coin. It was her only metal, and not enough to get her out, but it could help her entertain herself. She went over to the edge of the Ice Block, sat down, and chipped off a piece of ice. Then she took Sokka's rubber band off her wrist, fixed it on her fingers, and fired off the chunk of ice.
The guard's shout told her that she had hit her mark. "Ouch! Hey, what was that?"
Toph laughed, pocketed the coin, and curled up in the fetal position.
Week Four: Day Two
"I'm so huuungryyy!"
Toph lay on the rug and sang at the top of her lungs in an obnoxious, off-key voice.
"This place really stiiiinks and I waaant some reeeal fooood! You guards are soooo stuuupid and you don't have a cluuuue! When I get out of heeeere you're going to regreeeet this! My name is Toph Bei Fong and don't you guards forgeeeet it. La la la laaaaa I'm going to keep on singing 'till you feed me some more fooooooood!"
"Will you shut your mouth for ten minutes?" The door guard shouted into the ice cell.
"Will you give me some fooooood pleeaaaaaase?"
Week Four: Day Four
Maybe, Toph thought, if the Guard wasn't looking, she could somehow pull some sort of a fast escape.
"Hey Guard, look! A Saber-tooth Moose-lion!" Toph paused. "Are you looking?"
Week Four: Day Six
Maybe if I learn how to swim, I can get out of here. Better yet, if I sink to the bottom and there's metal – unlikely, but still – I can Earthbend myself out.
Toph pulled off Sokka's jacket, walked over to the edge of the water, and stuck her foot in.
"You know, if you drown in there I'm not jumping in to save you." It was the guard again. And he had a fair point. Toph sighed and sat down.
Week Five: Day Two
Toph had been dreaming. She didn't know about what, but she had been dreaming nonetheless. A shout – quickly stifled, by the sounds of it – echoed in the hall, then stopped. She awoke with a start to the usual feeling of unending hunger, only to feel someone's quick breathing in her ear.
"Nice coat," the person whispered.
"Sokka!" Toph exclaimed. "Is that really you or is this some sort of hallucination?"
"It's me – us, I mean – it's us."
She reached up and touched the side of his face, just to make sure. And lo and behold, it was Sokka, though his skin was oddly cold to the touch. "Well whaddya know? It is you! I was beginning to go senile in here. You sound different, though."
"Thanks, you too," he replied with mock sarcasm. "You're looking a little underfed yourself. Now come on, we've gotta go before the guards come."
"Well what am I going to do, swim over?" she snapped, having found her edge again.
"I'm making a path," the kind, though also different, voice of Katara said. "Come on, I can't hold this much longer." Apparently the lack of food had gotten to her as well.
"Have Twinkletoes help you," Toph said, though she was already making her way to the edge of the ice. A whole silence ensued, eerie and awkward.
As much as she wanted to know more about what had happened, her fear of drowning was a more prominent matter at the moment. So Sokka helped her down a newly-made set of ice stairs and up another, until they were back in the hallway that she had been carried down so many times.
"Ground!" She exclaimed, stomping her feet and loving the sense of knowing her surroundings. The guard was sprawled out on the floor, his breathing shallow. She made a cage of metal around him just for the sake of Earthbending. "Beautiful ground! Feel like I can see for the first time!"
The feeling of Katara joining them on the floor coursed through Toph like a memory, and Sokka grabbed her wrist with a bare hand.
"Yeah, that's great and all, but we really have to go."
Katara's gentle voice came to her ears again, but the words were not directed towards her.
"Come on, Aang, you can do this," Katara whispered calmly, though an urgency was riddling every word.
They began heading down the corridor as fast as their weak legs would carry them. Through this, Toph noticed that Aang's footfalls were no longer light; his steps were heavy and staggered, almost to the point of being unrecognizable. It was as if his ability to Airbend had vanished.
And as much as this thought worried her, Toph couldn't help but feel glad that she, at least, was no longer on ice. It was a little piece of the world that had been restored back to normal.
Now, if only she could get her hands on some food…
A/N: So there you have it. I skipped around to give you the more entertaining aspects of the stay because most of it was Toph sitting there by herself, thinking about how to escape and how she was going to kill the guards. xD