Since I have been writing enough angst lately to melt the eye shadow off a Goth, I decided to go with a lighthearted piece for the Toph/Aang one shot. It's short, yes, but I had a lot of fun writing it. Thank you all for reading, and I don't own anybody.
Has everyone seen the Season Three preview, by the way? The one from ComicCon? It looks amazing!
Pros and Cons
Toph Bei Fong had always hated being small when she was younger
Of course, first and foremost responsible for that were the assumptions that went with her size: people were always quick to judge, and they would always go by the first thing they saw.
And what they saw, when introduced to Toph (who would be remembered in history as one of the greatest earthbenders who had ever lived) was a very tiny little blind girl. Then they would smile, and say that her heart and her voice were both far too big for her body. Or, if it was her enemy evaluating her, they would smirk and mark her as easy prey.
(And they were always in for a surprise, poor fools.)
Toph despised her tiny hands, her short legs, her small lungs, and everything else that went along with them. They were limits: they were the knowledge that no matter how hard she tried, there would be some things in life that she physically could not do.
Toph hated limits.
She hated being boxed in... especially by herself, of all things!
And she hated being small, because it seemed to make Toph into the girl her parents thought her to be: weak fragile, helpless... The words repeated often in her head. And it was her defiance of those words which made the Blind Bandit fight with the ferocity she did.
Although….he hadn't thought she was weak even in the beginning.
That was what surprised the earthbending champion, when she first felt Aang's footsteps, softer than any she had ever heard before, enter the ring. (Years later, Toph still wondered if that was due to his airbending, or to the fact that he always kept one foot in the world of the spirits.)
There was no mockery or ease in his voice when he first spoke to her, this stranger. He respected her. And some part of Toph knew that he would also understand her: as another who was dwarfed by great tasks and powers, another who had to stay strong and push forward despite doubts and limits.
And it was that sense of familiarity that made Toph open up so quickly to him: something she had never done with anybody else prior.
At least her student wasn't too much taller than she was: that was the earthbender's comfort for several years… until, at fourteen, Twinkletoes's voice started to crack like a china plate in the hands of a platypus bear, and he was suddenly always mentioning how much his legs hurt.
That made her mad. If HE got to grow all of a sudden, why couldn't she? It so infuriated Toph that one day she abruptly sunk him into the earth almost to his knees, making them level for the first time, and snapped at him.
"Stop growing, you idiot!"
"Stop being so short!" he had grinned back.
The blind girl had drawn herself up to "full" height.
"Oooh, you're a dead man," she had glared, which then led to an hour -long barrage of earthbending between the pupil and teacher.
It was funny, Toph had thought, of how two years ago he never would have dared to say such a thing. But Aang had also spiritually grown, strengthened (not that he hadn't been strong to begin with) and learned that Toph's insults were really just her way of being friends : as unorthodox and unpracticed as they were.
By the time they reached eighteen, the airbender was a good head taller than she was, with his deepened voice and more powerful heartbeat: even if it was still the same joyful voice and the same caring heart.
Spirits, how she had hated being small in those early years!!
With the gradual realization that their friendship had turned into something more… that no one else in the world understood one quite like the other…
There came other realizations for Toph Bei Fong.
Of how, with her small frame, she fit perfectly into his arms.
Of how when he grabbed her hand up in his it was enclosed completely, offering all of his protection even if Aang knew Toph needed none.
Of how very easy he said it was to swing her around in the air in happiness, usually with her laughing and shouting "Put me down, you goof! Hey! Hey!"
Of how she could climb atop the glider and ride the wind's back with him. Even if it petrified her, Toph trusted Aang and knew that he would never, ever let her fall.
Of how being short made her closer to the earth, being tall made him closer to the sky...and that was just the way it should be.
So, in end, Toph came to believe that being small was not all THAT bad. Sure, she would have liked to be a tall, intimidating figure who commanded respect the moment she walked into a room or onto a battlefield. She would have liked to stand shoulder to shoulder with Twinkletoes every now and then, just to be nearer to him.
But her friends respected her, and Aang respected her, and that was enough.
She stood back to back with him when they battled, and stood beside him in spirit, and that was enough as well.
Yes, Toph Bei Fong was small, but that was fine.
And if she had to stand on tiptoes, slightly leave the earth she relied on, in order to kiss her husband... then so be it.
A/N: Thank you for reading!!