A/N: Another one! These things are just too fun to write! That, and I'm bored XD
Disclaimer: I do not own Avatar or the characters
"Get up, Twinkle toes! We're not done yet!"
It was just another regular day of training. Aang was currently sprawled on the Western Air Temple floor, which was what he did for more than half the time whenever he trained with his earthbending master. He took in a few more ragged breaths before looking up to the blind girl.
"Come on, Toph!" he whined. "We've been training for hours! Can't I get a break?"
"Aww, is the wittle Avataw tired?" she teased. "Well, tough luck. You think the Fire Lord is gonna let you call time out if you're tired when you come to face him?"
"Well, maybe if I-"
"No! Of course not! That's why we need to toughen you up! Now come on!" she barked.
Aang wearily staggered to his feet, taking an earthbending stance. One of these days, Fire Lord Ozai is going to send Toph a gift package in gratitude for finishing off the Avatar for him.
Toph gave the ground a hard stomp, launching a boulder straight at Aang. Tensing up, he shattered the projectile with the back of his hand. His earthbending teacher smiled at this. She would never say it, but Aang really had improved a lot. He really had an earthbender's attitude now, steadfast and firm. Or stubborn as Katara would call it.
She continued launching a barrage of earthen missiles at him, and then decided to kick it up a notch. Quite a few notches in Aang's opinion. She plunged her hands into the stone floor and with a great roar pulled up a boulder the size of Appa.
"Take this!" she yelled, hurling the huge chunk of stone at him.
But Aang did not take it. He never had any intention of taking it. He quickly stepped to the side, dodging the Appa boulder quite easily.
"Whew, that could've been ugly." A blunt spike shot out of the ground and into Aang's stomach. He was knocked ten feet in the air and landed with a loud and dull thud. "I take that back," he groaned.
"What are you doing?" she yelled at him. "You should have caught that thing! I told you! You have to face things head on!"
"No buts! We've been through this before! Hasn't anything in training penetrated that thick skull of yours? I can't believe I actually thought you had gotten it!"
"I'll say it again! You have to stop thinking like an airbender and-"
He had finally managed to get her to stop her ranting and listen a moment. Really, wasn't waiting and listening supposed to be her specialty?
"Toph, no matter what you say, I am and always will be an airbender. Just like I am a waterbender, earthbender, and firebender and will continue to be. I can't just stop being an airbender just to earthbend."
"And? What are you trying to say?" she asked, folding her arms.
"I'm saying that I always have options. Sure, I could have punched that boulder to pieces like you say an earthbender would, but I could also dodge it, like an airbender, which would save much more time and effort."
It didn't seem like she was listening. She had actually sat down and started picking her toes in the middle of his talk.
"Are you done? Or do I have to get Momo to listen to you awhile?"
"Argh! You're so frustrating!" If Aang had hair, he would be pulling at it right now. "Sometimes I wish you knew what it felt like to balance two opposites."
"Well, too bad," she scoffed. "What are you gonna do? Teach me airbending?"
The young monk's eyes suddenly lit up. "That's a great idea!"
"This is stupid."
Toph was currently standing in an airbending form which Aang had nagged her into. She felt so stupid. The stance felt so wrong, it was too... light. Her footing wasn't as rooted to the ground as she was in an earthbending stance. No wonder she could push Aang around so easily.
"No it's not! And besides, it was your idea."
"Does the word sarcasm mean anything to you?"
He ignored Toph's comment and looked at her stance with a critical eye. "You're stance looks okay, but you're too stiff. Loosen up."
"You're telling me, an earthbender, to loosen up?"
"Okay, I thought this was stupid before, but we're getting close to Sokka's level. Why the heck are you trying to teach me airbending? No matter how hard I try, I won't be able to bend air."
"You don't need to airbend to learn airbending." Aang said. Toph arched an eyebrow at him. "Yeah, I know that sounded stupid, but it's exactly what it means."
"Whatever. I'm outta here." She turned her back on him and started walking away.
"I'll prove it you," he said, an air of confidence in his voice. "Come at me with everything you've got, and I'll beat you without using any bending."
"Are you stupid, Twinkle toes?" she asked, turning to him. "I'd wipe the floor with you, even if you used bending."
"Does that mean you agree?"
"Fine. If I win, you have to listen and do whatever I say."
"Even out of training," she added with a smirk. Aang actually flinched. Now he really had to win.
"Alright," he finally consented. "And if I win, you'll let me teach you airbending."
"As if that's gonna happen. I hope you've enjoyed an airbender's freedom Twinkle toes 'cuz those days are over."
Taking initative, Toph made a chopping motion with the blade of her hand. Three pillars erupted from the ground at Aang's left. Moving fluidly, he spun out of the way. Toph continued her attack, sending a barrage of boulders straight at him, but he simply ducked, dodged, and guided them away from him.
He was slowly working his way closer to her. He was starting to wonder whether he had taken on more than what he could handle. It's just that he couldn't help himself, he just had to teach Toph some airbending. But there was no point in thinking of it, he had to win. No way he would survive following Toph's instructions for more than a few days.
Toph, noticing his subtle attempt at approaching her, decided to end it. The moment Aang made another step toward her, she gave the ground a hard stomp, stone spikes jutting out from under her in all directions. Now that she had closed of any way of approaching her, the match was as good as won.
But strangely, she couldn't sense him anywhere. She tapped her foot and gasped when the vibrations came back. He was standing right behind her.
"You wanna give up now?" he asked, amusement in his voice.
She threw boulders, launched spikes, even resorted to hand-to-hand, but Aang was just too fast. He would just evade every attack at him, as if he was just dancing circles around her. Soon, Toph was on all fours, breathing heavily, with Aang standing before her.
"Are you done yet?"
Toph managed a glare at his general direction. "Don't think," she huffed, staggering to her feet, "that I'm gonna -huff- let you win -huff- that easily-" She stumbled forward, but before she hit the ground, Aang had rushed forward and caught her.
"Whoa there. Take it easy. Come on, let's go back to camp." He helped her back up, supporting her.
"I can go back myself," she retorted. She pushed him away but ended up stumbling into him again.
"Okay, lesson number one: loosen up. Stop being so stubborn! Air isn't all that powerful, so it adapts, moving and flowing freely. It doesn't go head on, forcing itself, but slips in subtly through the small cracks, coming at different angles. Right now, you're in no condition and in no position to be putting up a fight." He squatted with his back toward her. "So be quiet and let me carry you back."
Surprisingly, Toph got on without any fussing. Aang smiled. It was nice to be the teacher for once. They made their way back slowly, but the silence they walked in seemed strained. Like Toph was holding something in.
"You know, Toph," Aang said. "Because it can move freely, air is also very expressive." Though he couldn't see it, he knew Toph was listening intently. "Whenever you feel something, whether it's good or bad, don't be afraid to show it. Especially to us. After all, we are your friends."
She remained silent for a few moments. "I couldn't beat you even though you weren't using any bending. I've never been so humiliated."
"Aw, come on, Toph!" he said airily. "Humiliation is hardly anything between friends. Cheer up. As soon as I teach you a bit of airbending, you'll be pounding me back in the dirt in no time."
He could feel her smile. She suddenly nestled her head into his shoulder and wrapped her arms gently around Aang's neck. He blinked, very surprised.
Her hug suddenly tightened, becoming a choke hold.
"These airbending lessons better not be a waste of my time, Twinkle toes."
Aang smiled, despite not being able to breathe. At least she was expressing herself.
A/N: This was kinda tough. My fics usually write themselves but I actually had to think for this one, especially in the fighting sequence and bending logic. Please review!