Disclaimer: I don't own Avatar: The Last Airbender.
Author's Note: Kryptocow animated the closing scene for this; which is unbelievably awesome. There's a link to it on my profile in my On Art rant, which isn't really a rant as much as a section of the portion of my profile usually dedicated to ranting that contains some words and, more importantly, a link to art and artist.
What I look forward to is continued immaturity followed by death.
Knock Me Down
The self-proclaimed World's Greatest Earthbender knew her parents loved her. She had never once doubted that simple fact in her entire life, although she frequently took offense at how they chose to express their affection towards her.
It was only after she had left, however, that she fully realized how much her flight with the Avatar had hurt them. And because she loved her parents, she made sure to keep in contact with them whenever she could and let them know that she was alright.
A letter from a prodigal daughter though, no matter how welcome, is no substitute for the real thing. And although she couldn't see the joy in their faces as she made her triumphant return home from the Fire Nation, she had no difficulty in recognizing the barely contained elation in their voices as they welcomed her home.
And so, the fledgling returned to the nest, older and wiser in the ways of the world than when she had first departed. Her parents made an honest effort to accommodate their daughter's need for freedom and independence, and for the most part they allowed the World's Greatest Earthbender to do as she pleased, provided she didn't cause too much property damage.
Years passed, and the fledgling grew, until one day she was ready to leave the nest for good… or more accurately, her parents were ready to let her go with their blessings. There was but one hitch.
The World's Greatest Earthbender needed a fiancé. 'For the sake of the family,' they said.
To their credit, the parents met the fledgling halfway. They would agree to whomever their daughter chose for a husband, as long as she chose before she left. They needed an engagement; the details of the marriage could be worked out later.
This left the little earthbender in quite the predicament, however. She knew little of the marriageable men her age, having considered them to be by and large an extremely boring group of people. Concerned more with her Earthbending than the local aristocratic boys, the people she spent time with on a consistent basis were considerably older than she, and more often than not already married anyways. And so, with no alternative options in mind, the fledgling resolved to apply her usual problem solving technique to the subject at hand: violence.
At first, it had seemed like a good idea: narrow down the pool of applicants by requiring her suitors to best her in hand to hand combat. Not only would she find a suitor tough enough to survive long periods of time in close proximity to her, but she would find someone who wouldn't coddle her for her blindness or diminutive stature.
After three months of an almost never ending stream of suitors failing to last two minutes in the ring, she decided that perhaps her standards were a bit too exclusive, and in a fit of frustration she declared that she would marry the first man capable of knocking her off her feet in the arena. By a sheer twist of fate, a certain sword-wielding visitor arrived that day.
Expecting another challenge for her hand, the earthbender waited for her visitor in the makeshift arena in the gardens behind the house. Soon enough, she felt a trio of vibrations make their way in her direction. Two of them, she was very familiar with; they were her parents, after all. The third, she decided, was the challenger. Sizing him up as he approached, she wasn't particularly impressed. He seemed to be slightly uncomfortable and unsure of himself, and a bit on the skinny side to boot. She felt him take a breath to begin speaking, but cut him off before he could launch into some longwinded arrogant proclamation.
Taking a fighting stance, she firmly (and rudely) informed her upcoming opponent of the rules of the fight: no bending, no weapons, only fists and feet. The prize, she reminded him, was her hand in marriage; the condition: getting her flat on her back inside the ring.
It was then that she heard something from the challenger that she hadn't heard for a very long time: laughter. Clenching her fists in anger, she demanded to know what was so funny…
… and then her parents introduced the boy from the Southern Water Tribe, and the little earthbender felt very embarrassed. Dropping her stance, she tried to ignore the rush of questions flooding through her head. How could she have not recognized him? Had he changed that much? Was her memory that bad? She honestly didn't know.
Then he surprised everyone there—and perhaps even himself—by nimbly leaping into the ring and standing in front of her.
"So let me get this straight: you're giving your hand in marriage to the first man to knock you down in a fight." She could hear the smirk on his face and resumed her stance, tersely confirming her apparent opponent's statement. She waited for him to take a stance of his own.
He did no such thing, instead leaning forward and briefly kissing The World's Greatest Earthbender on the lips. Her sightless eyes bugged out of their sockets and her arms fell limp to her sides. Pulling back a few inches, the boy from the Southern Water Tribe chuckled softly before gently placing his index finger on the fledgling's forehead.
… and Toph fell.