A/N: I thought it would be cool to write a bunch of Toph oneshots depicting the many uses of Earthbending. I love Toph, and she is a seriously underused character. I thought of this earlier yesterday, then wrote the entire thing out longhand in a hair salon while I was waiting for my turn. xD
A dash of Tokka is visible here if you squint and turn your head sideways. Chose to ignore it if you're a SokkaxSuki fan or something.
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Read a Plan
Over the last few weeks, Sokka had been teaching her to read. Well, not really read, but an improvised version of reading. She couldn't take a book, open it, and start reading – as far as Toph was concerned, books were good for little more than throwing at people – but now she could understand written letters and words. Often times while Katara and Aang were splashing around and making general fools of themselves, Sokka would take her by the water's edge and teach her.
"Here, like this." He took her hand, opened it, and traced a few characters on her rough palm. The symbol appeared in her well-trained mind's eye. "That's your name. The longer the word, the more you have to write in order to spell it out."
"That's common sense, stupid," she retorted, though with some reluctant amusement.
She felt him shrug. "You never know," Sokka said. He dropped her hand (she held back a frown of disappointment) and placed his hand on the ground. "You can feel that, right?"
Toph nodded. Then, with one finger, Sokka traced something on the ground. "Feel that?" he asked.
Indeed she had. "It's the same thing you wrote on my hand," she stated. "My name."
"Congratulations, Toph, you just read something." His grin was visible even through her blindness, and it was contagious. "Sort of."
Now Sokka moved away a little on his knees, just enough to put a decent-sized space between them. She felt him begin to write with his finger on the stone upon which they had settled.
"Want me to teach you the alphabet?" he asked.
Judging by how he'd already begun drawing figures that stood out in her Bending eye, he wasn't really going to give her a choice. However, she had always wanted to read. Even as a kid, when she reached the age where her father stopped reading to her, she had always wished that books and scrolls didn't feel like blank nothingness beneath her fingers. She didn't really know what the point of learning to read was, seeing as she could never pick up a book and see the letters anyway, but it was, well, something she'd always wanted. A childhood wish.
Instead of giving a gracious answer and looking positively thrilled, she bowed to him and said in her usual manner, "Get teaching, Sokka the Wordbending master."
An amused chuckle escaped him and he muttered, "Wordbender."
Now, as they stood in the woods, surrounded by Fire Nation soldiers, she wasn't sure what to do. Sokka, Katara, and Aang were all safely hidden in the trees, but she had refused to let her feet leave the ground. Right as Aang had been reaching down to grab her and pull her up by force, the Fire Nation soldiers had spotted her standing there with her arms crossed and a deep frown on her face. Toph stood, motionless and without a sure plan, waiting for the Firebenders to make a move. Even the greatest Earthbender in the world with the help of her companions couldn't take all these Benders without risking injury or worse. If she moved – made any sign of Bending – they'd attack and a fight would break out. If they moved, she would have to strike. The slight pulse that flowed through her motionless body told her that Sokka had lowered his body from the branch and was hiding behind the bulk of the tree. She did nothing to acknowledge his presence.
What were these Firebending dunderheads waiting for? None of them threw anything at her, spoke, or even moved. It was almost strange; she hadn't even known that Firebenders could stand still. Perhaps they were waiting for her to make the first move – a dumb assumption if there ever was one. A smile tugged in the corners of her mouth. Clearly they had heard about Toph Bei Fong, Earthbending extraordinaire. And then –
Don't do anything yet.
Sokka was writing to her from behind the tree, most likely crouched on the ground. And she understood him, too! It was like a bunch of lines being drawn and Toph sensing the vibrations of their creation, then those vibrations being translated into text that she could 'read'.
Blink twice if you understand me.
The idea was, she understood, not to make any motions that might cause retaliation from the soldiers. Right now they wouldn't attack unless provoked, and she was fresh out of genius ideas. After a second, Toph blinked twice. Her heart began racing. Sokka began furiously writing to her a mile a minute, and each symbol stood out in her mind as if it had been stamped into the ground. She was really and truly reading!
Aang and Katara and back at the river. They're making a wave big enough to wash all these soldiers and their machinery downstream.
Great. Twinkletoes and Sugar Queen were off making a giant tidal wave. She imagined that she hadn't felt them leave because they had probably taken the stupid flying thing. But that wasn't the big issue. Right now, the only problem with the plan was that she couldn't swim. Ah, the many shortcomings of being blind and virtually rooted to the earth.
Sokka, being the forever thoughtful one, quickly made the clarification.
When I give you a signal, you'll bend a hole in the ground and jump in, then cover yourself up so you don't drown. Is that okay?
In response, she blinked twice.
Good. On my signal.
What the signal would be was a mystery to Toph, but she assumed that she would understand when the time came. She didn't have time to contemplate this thought because, suddenly, she felt something. It was strange, like an earthquake sending a tremor through her entire body, making the usual clear-as-day vibrations mush together a little. The wave. Next came the sound, a buzzing in her hypersensitive ears like a dull roar.
The soldiers heard it a few seconds later.
"Hey, what is that? That sound," one soldier asked another.
"Is it the girl?" another asked.
"Don't be stupid," the first soldier replied. "She'd not doing anything!"
As the feeling got more intense, the mutterings and whispers among the soldiers grew louder as well. And a second later they began shouting, leaving the blind girl almost completely forgotten as she stood there in the center of a barren clearing. What the wave looked like, she couldn't tell. But it must have been absolutely huge, because it was causing quite the commotion amongst the soldiers. They began running in a frenzy of thundering footsteps and clanging metal on metal. Toph stood there, still completely motionless with her hands limp at her sides, until she heard Sokka's voice ring out over the roaring tumult.
"Now, Toph! Now!"
She didn't need to be told twice. Heart hammering in her chest with a combination of her fear of drowning and the thrill of danger, Toph raised one foot and stomped down on the hard earth just as somebody grabbed her forcefully around the waist. The ground swallowed she and the person in a twisting of dirt, and they both vanished from sight.
Once safely inside her underground air bubble, Toph raised her hands above her head and prepared to hold up the dirt ceiling should the water be too heavy for the earth alone to support. Through the ground she could feel as literally tons of water rushed over her head, wiping out soldiers and machinery alike. The ceiling became heavy, as if she were holding up the world itself, and Toph maintained her rocklike stance until the worst of the water had passed over.
When the water had finally seceded, Toph let out a breath and dropped her arms to her sides. A knowing grin came to her face and she focused her unseeing eyes on the person who was still clinging to her waist for dear life.
"Hi Sokka. How nice of you to drop in," she said sweetly, her voice laced with sarcasm. "I wasn't expecting you."
Sokka gave an uncertain laugh and let go of her waist. "Sorry," he apologized. "I didn't realize that I had no plan for myself until the water came rushing at me."
"It's okay. If I'd known you were coming, I would have brought a torch or something," she said. Her voice sounded almost earnest, though he knew that she was being cynical.
Another nervous laugh. Toph sensed him place his hand on the dirt wall and sigh, "Is it over yet?"
"I think so. Wait – yes. I feel Twinkletoes running into the clearing with Katara. Hold on while I boost us up." His arms found her waist again and held on tight. Toph smirked in the darkness and made an upward motion with her sturdy arms, and they shot towards the surface.
Though she couldn't see the light, she could feel the sun as it hit her dark hair. Sokka winced and let go of her to shield his eyes from the blinding light as they burst forth from the hole in the ground and came level with the land. Aang and Katara stood there, waiting with bated breath.
"That was crazy," muttered Sokka once his eyes had adjusted to the light.
Toph felt Katara's weight shift as she nodded. Toph's bare feet stepped from her dry spot of dirt and onto the newly-formed mud. It squished between her toes and she fought a smile; Forget the Fancy Ladies' Day Spa – this was a foot massage. Everybody's hearts, including her own, were pounding from the exhilarating events that had transpired not two minutes ago.
"Crazy is right." Katara's voice sounded a little reproachful. "That was a really dangerous plan for all of us to go through with. Toph could have drowned."
Toph put her foot down hard in resentment and accidentally raised a large boulder across the way. "Hey, I'm not the only one who would have drowned," she defended herself. "If Sokka hadn't grabbed on for the ride he'd be washing downstream with the rest of those Fire Jerks."
"She's got a point," Aang offered. Toph felt his shrug. "How did you relay the message to Toph anyway, Sokka?" he asked, interested.
"Easy," Toph cut in before Sokka could answer. "He wrote it."
She grinned; she didn't need to be able to see to know that Aang and Katara were giving she and Sokka the world's most confused stares in history.
A/N: So there's your first taste of this collection. Like Cactus Juice, I'll probably mark it as complete, but I can update at any time.
Thanks for reading!