Title: For These Eyes That Cannot See
Pairing/Characters: Toph (POV), et others
Word Count: 878
Challenge: "25Moments"'s prompt Five Senses.
Disclaimer: Avatar the Last Airbender belongs to Nickelodeon/The Super Special Awesome Duo of Brian and Mike; they rock for bringing serious credibility to TV animation, and for creating a world after my own heart.
She can't see. She's never been able to, so that's fine. It's not like she's suddenly missing it or anything.
But at the same time, she learns that she can see more clearly than anyone she's ever met. And until recently, that hasn't been a very long list.
Aang, for instance, is obviously light. Not just in the way he moves, but the way he doesn't move, and how he touches things. The way he laughs. He's never tough, even after she teaches him to move and feel the earth with his hands and feet; he never will be really, and Toph is so very glad of that. Her entire being is made of rock and dust, and she's learned to love it, no matter what anyone says. But it's not something she'd wish on anyone else.
He's light even when he's sad, because he never stays sad or mad at anyone for too long. It used to be the reason he irritated Toph, then made her smile, and then made her fearful – when they lost Appa it had been the most frightening thing, feeling how Aang grew scared and weighted down with sorrow. She had blamed herself without his aid, but the accusations hurled her way from her best supporter and first friend hissed against her skin and lodged deep in her ribs. Hurting and heavy, like Aang wasn't supposed to be.
And Aang's not just light in spirit. In Toph's mind's eye, she sometimes swears that he glows.
Similarly, Katara is soft. Not light, or fleeting, but the kind of softness that remains firm as well. It's in her voice mostly, and that's surprising, because Toph knew Katara loved to hug, to comfort, to touch. It was ingrained in her bones – and Toph could hear it. She appreciated it more than anyone would ever really know.
She was an older sister to Aang's younger brother in Toph's eyes. On bad days, Toph would call her a mothering, smothering hen, who got in the way of fun, and the having of it. On the worst days, Toph would call her a saint.
Katara was beautiful. Not physically speaking – though from Aang's sometimes puppy-dog tones, she imagined that Katara was in fact very pretty on the outside. No, Katara was beautiful because she honestly cared for everyone. Even her enemies. Though her enemies certainly had a much harder time of it. Toph imagined that Katara could probably love someone to death, if she was so inclined. It's what made her…well, Katara.
Surprisingly, Sokka is solid. She knew him as a goof ball, and sometimes very single minded. Toph immediately labeled him a very seasoned skeptic, contrasted with the enthusiasm of a rabid trend-follower. But he was reliable in the worst situations, always had a plan, and made her laugh like no one else she knew. Sokka was her rock.
He had saved her life, risking his own. While both Aang and Katara had done so in a peripheral way, Sokka's arms were always the ones around her: pulling, tugging, and nudging – his hands were always cold, but it never bothered her. His good-natured humor and realism brought her back out whatever hole (literal or not) she had fallen into.
For a while, she thought she had loved him. As much as a twelve-year-old girl can love a boy four years older than her. But such emotions whirled and transformed her crush into something she realized was a more familial sort of love. She honestly preferred it that way.
Plus, Sokka and Suki were just too cute together. And she'd kill anyone who told them she'd said that.
In contrast to all, except herself, Zuko is rough. Like dry skin or sand on a hot day.
Toph met him much later than everyone else, so she felt more objective about the whole ordeal. But his demeanor, no matter how honest, felt unrehearsed and jumbled. Like he had forgotten how to be soft, to be sincere; like a jewel that had forgotten to shine.
From his descriptions and stories, she could hear his hurt; feel his determination to make things right – with his uncle, with Aang, with the world. A small kernel of pity gathered in her heart, though she'd never admit it. She too came from comfort, and had led a fairly sheltered life. But she had always known who she was, and what she wanted.
Zuko had thought he knew what he wanted. But he had been misdirected, wronged, and betrayed – all by the people he thought had loved him. They stole his identity, and Zuko wandered on, lost.
And when he had finally found someone who cared for his well-being…. In one swift moment of confliction, he betrayed them.
Toph had no idea what that was like. But she knew Aang would do his utmost to make one more friend, his heart light and free – to lift Zuko from his shackles. Sokka would be secure – ready to hurt, or help – but Zuko would always know where the other boy stood, no matter what. And Katara….
Well, when she stopped being hurt by Zuko's moment of stupidity, she'd love that bonehead to death too.
Toph knew she could rely on her friends and their traits till she died.
Those were things she didn't need eyes to see.