Hey there. Okay, okay, I know that this is not another chapter of "Corners of the Sky." I'm writing that, too, though, so no worries, huh?
The idea sort of latched onto my head and wouldn't leave, so to speak, so here you go. And I will work on that continuation soon enough, I'm just taking a short one-shot vacation. Disclaimer: I do not own Avatar in any way, shape or form. Get it?
Toph and Aang are about twenty- five in this piece, just so you know.
The first time Lady Toph Bei Fong heard her unborn child's heartbeat, the woman had nearly jumped out of her skin in shock, which was most certainly not a customary action for the most powerful earthbender in the world.
It had suddenly appeared out of nowhere, in a way, and was so soft and delicate that even she, who was so sensitive to vibrations and beats, needed to strain to hear it. It had been during one of her usual remedial bending exercises, which her worry- wart husband had told her to "take it easy" with.
That was just typical old Twinkletoes, the same at twenty-five as he had been at twelve, when it came to the needs of others. (It was one of the numberless reasons she loved the big-hearted airbender, she told herself with a sigh.)
Had Toph not been filled with adrenalin, with the senses that her blindness had sharpened to a knife edge running on full power, she would have missed it. But there it was,
A mixture of her husband's heartbeat, which Toph had always related to the flapping wings of a little bird (a sparrow that had grown into a hawk, as the Avatar finally hit a monstrous growth spurt in his teens), and her own.
That miniscule heart, barely a whisper within her, and she stopped cold to listen to it, almost paralyzed with surprise for a few moments in the clearing dust. Aang, Aang needed to hear this.
But as she had taken a few steps forward, Toph realized that her husband's hearing and sensitivity were not on the level of her own, and he would only be able to shake his head and say he couldn't feel anything.
So she had kept the little vibration as her own, if just for now, and listened to it increase in strength as the weeks went by. It echoed all her hopes and fears at the same time, so afraid was she of this sudden weight that was about to be placed on her shoulders.
As if saving the world had not been enough of a problem.
"Oh, Toph, I know you'll be able to do this. You're Toph!" Fire Lady Katara had said weeks before, in a soft and comforting tone as she squeezed her "little sister's" hand.
Toph didn't know how to be a mother. It was as simple as that.
The woman was not one accustomed to distributing soft words and comforts: that was Sugarqueen's job, it always had been.
Toph's own parents had put her into a box, overly and obsessively guarding her against danger, as though she were a delicate bloom.
That was part of what had spurred on her determination and fanned the flames of her rebellious independence, angered her and trapped her.
So Toph determined that the love she showed this child would be tough, no-nonsense love. Not that wishy-washy, over-protective love that crushed people. No rushing over every time they fell, no incessant hugging, bedtime stories and the like. She wouldn't raise a weakling.
But even with this thought planted firmly in her head, the Avatar's wife found herself paying increasing attention to her baby's vibrations (for it did, indeed, become hers. After weeks of horrid mornings, she figured she deserved that privilege.)
The vibrations were a mellow and sweet little set of wooden wind chimes rattling in the breeze.
She witnessed the formation of the tiny hands and feet, as best as the vibrations she sensed could tell, the movement, the restlessness, and of course, that beating heart, which soon grew to a vigorous rhythm that she could listen to for hours. It was strong enough so that one day she had snatched her husband's hand and pressed in over the area with a curt order to shut up and listen.
He had frozen.
Aang had not breathed for the longest time, but had ended up laughing at the end of those minutes. There were a few tears in his voice as he whispered something to her and pulled his wife in for a very warm embrace.
Toph had chuckled as well.
A grown man crying, silly.
Odd, how the baby became a part of her heart as well, even when she struggled to resist the idea: but it happened, whether Toph wanted it to or not.
It was only natural that she would strike up one-sided conversations with her child, later on, as the baby ever- so- inconveniently began to restrict her movements.
"Ouch, that one hurt."
"Hey, stop kicking, Mom's trying to sleep."
"Yeah, I don't usually like summer spice either, but we'll make an exception…"
"You know, I used to fit this robe. It's so cozy, too…."
"Oh, you like that earthbending technique? Wait until I show you this one…"
"I hope you don't expect much coddling, kid. You're going to grow up tough just like Mom and Dad are."
And yet, every time she said it, her words sort of lost effect and strength.
No! She was not going to be one of those "lovey- dovey" mothers! She was Toph, and she knew how to handle a difficult situation. She would handle motherhood no differently.
But boy, for someone who hasn't learned to be tough, the kid sure knew how to put up a fight. When he (because Toph was certain it was a boy) had decided to make his first appearance in the world, it had been the hardest thing she had ever done: this, coming from a woman who had torn canyons into the earth with her fists and punched holes through mountains.
As best she could recall, one of her hands had been around her husband's throat for most of the long delivery, muttering something about this "being all his fault" and sending the poor midwife through the wall.
(Well, Toph was not the easiest person to get along with, even under normal circumstances.)
But the first cries, the first real sound her child made, had pushed all the angry thoughts aside for a moment. It was such a beautiful, strong sound, and she had grabbed at the perfect little boy with a sort of desperation.
Let Mom look at you, the blind woman thought suddenly, hands roaming over the tiny face.
"Aang." she had said quickly.
"Yes?" he had replied, seeming just short of awestruck, his soft breath touching her sweat-soaked neck.
"What color are his eyes?"
They had been dark blue, like all newborns, but their color had shown itself soon, and he was able to tell her.
Her husband had pushed a lock of dark hair from his wife's face, and told her they were like the feel of soft summer rain and cool metal, the sound of river stones clacking together.
Gray, in other words.
"Good." she had said. "Just like his dad, huh?"
And she had told herself that she would be a tough-love mother, and would teach her child to stand on his own two feet, that she would not constantly have a hand pulling him back in.
That was for the best, after all.
But then her husband had held both of them under the starlight, babbling to their little boy about constellations with such joy in his voice.
She had pushed her hands through her son's soft, wispy hair, heard his laugh as she scampered a finger along his feet in a playful manner.
She had not even been upset, surprisingly, when she had learned that her son was an airbender, one with the sky rather than the earth. Her heart had soared along with him as his father lifted him into the air in the spring sunlight.
And she had smelt that wonderful, clean, pure and sweet smell that was unlike every other scent in the world, the scent that was her son in her arms…..
Toph, breaking from her thoughts, sighed, and welcomed her son for what must have been his twentieth hug that day.
Her parents had had many flaws.
But perhaps loving her, holding her close, shielding her from the world's dangers (although they went about it totally wrong…) were not among them.
A/N: There you go. This occurred to me while I was studying child development, strangely enough. The baby's heart actually starts beating when it's 21 days old or so. So small! So yeah, I hope this was a semi-enjoyable fic. If you liked it, hated it, feel free to leave a comment.