Here's a little one-shot on a Zutara through Toph's eyes, set in the Western Air Temple, sometime before the Boiling Rock.
I do not own Avatar the Last Airbender.
It is essential to the foundation of this story that it understood that Toph Bei Fong is a lady.
This is not an earth-shattering statement, though the young earthbender would kindly like to disagree to that, even though it is a common revelation for most who know her. Though the twelve-year-old's manors are a far cry to society's standards, it is important to understand that she was raised a lady. Current attitude or not, Toph Bei Fong's world, up to a few months prior, consisted of long dresses, tea parties, and a lady-like view of the world through rose-colored glasses. The few times she escaped as her alter-ego from her parent's world, she saw much violence, but, little about anything else. In layman's terms, you could say that Toph Bei Fong was very much sheltered.
These few facts may seem trivial, but are severely important to the unfolding events.
It all began when Katara lent Toph her sleeping bag, an act of seemingly motherly kindness from the older girl. Nights in the Western Air Temple were frigid, to say the least. The air blew off the mountainside in cold currents and caused a great distress to the Avatar's gang. The Watertribe children had only two remaining sleeping bags that were insulated enough for the weather, and the only other solution were century old rags scavenged from the temple.
Katara had insisted she was fine with the weather, since she had grown up in far worse, and had happily turned her sleeping bag over to the youngest, and smallest, member of the gang. Toph had accepted it graciously.
Her act of gratitude soon turned into a problem for the earthbender, as Toph realized that the thick fabric kept her from reading the vibrations on the ground. Each night, Toph tossed and turned; warm, but truly blind from the outside world.
On the third night, Toph solved her predicament by sleeping with an outstretched hand firmly planted on the Air Temple's stone flooring. It wasn't the ideal solution, but the earthbender dozed off faster then ever before, warm and with her sight again.
That was until a curious movement attracted the earthbender's attention. It was interesting that Toph had even felt the motion, since she was happily cocooned in Katara's sleeping bag to the point where she could barely untangle herself. Only her fingertips were touching the stone of the temple.
Yet, the movement was still clear.
Groaning, Toph began to extract herself from the blue fabric. Her hair stuck in every which angle, and her clothes were wrinkled haphazardly. The earthbender sniffed, wiggling her nose, before placing both palms firmly on the ground.
The first thing she noticed was there were two members of the gang missing. Sugarqueen and Sparky weren't by the rest of the group.
Her brow furled. Was there something wrong? Were they captured?
She couldn't detect their presence anywhere nearby. All she could hear aside from the few cricket-flies was Sokka's obnoxious snoring.
Though she was usually all jokes and tough talk; Toph became worried. It wasn't like the group's monarch to escape for any late-night adventures since her time as the painted lady.
Zuko, for the other hand, was usually clean out until dawn. Toph couldn't see the sun, but she knew for certain from the chilly air it wasn't due to rise for quite some time.
Now she was confused. Toph could sense Twinkletoes to her left, enveloped in Appa's fur. Who would kidnap the ex-Fire Prince and the Waterbender, but leave the Avatar?
Biting her teeth, Toph stood. The cold air of the summer night bit at her exposed arms and ankles. Toph hated the cold. Sugarqueen and Sparky better have a good excuse for waking me up like this.
It was only then, with her feet planted on the ground that she found them. They were in Sparky's old room, in a few floors up – or down, however you looked at it – in the center of the temple. He left the room after the gang had decided on sleeping together in the courtyard in case of an ambush.
Toph quietly stamped her foot on the ground, twice in rapid succession to get a better look at what the two were doing up there. She knew that Katara still hadn't forgiven Zuko for gods-knew-what and didn't want them to be fighting at this hour.
The mental picture she got even confused her more.
It was fuzzy, they were on a piece of furniture that felt suspiciously like a bed. Toph could feel their heartbeats, probably the most predominate feature of her sonic hearing, not because of how her talents worked, but because they were so darn loud!
What on earth?
Toph placed an additional hand on the ground. She could feel the pair now. Zuko was clearly on top of a laying Katara – on top of a bed. They weren't fighting, they would have been standing at opposite ends of the room and their shouting would have had everybody up by now.
Toph blinked unseeing eyes. For the life of her, she didn't get it.
Their heartbeats raced in unison, two galloping ostrich-horses. It was similar to when they fought or trained for quite some time. Toph could almost feel with her hand the heat their bodies were exerting. It didn't help her sight that the two were basically showing up in her head like one giant body, they were so close. For some odd reason, though, she couldn't distinguish one from the other. Arms and legs were in such angles that Toph couldn't see who was who.
Toph turned her hand, focusing instead on a rather strange lump on the floor in front of the bed the two were on. Actually, there were many, little lumps of crumpled fabric. It felt like when it was washday and Katara had all their garments strewn across the temple's floor.
Wait a minute…
Toph silently raced up the curving temple staircase, avoiding Sokka, who was spread-eagle on the temple's floor, arms and legs sticking out of his sleeping bag, until she was lateral to the two benders. Placing two hands on the outside wall of the Air Temple she could feel every muscle, every move the pair made.
Toph soon realized why she could barely distinguish one from the other. The lumps on the floor weren't sheets or blankets – but clothes.
Katara and Zuko's clothes.
Toph could feel the familiar feeling she hadn't felt in quiet some time. The one that tinged her cheeks with warmth and sent nauseated feelings into her stomach. It was when she was caught in places she knew she shouldn't be, usually by her parents. Toph Bei Fong would never admit it, but she felt embarrassed.
The earthbender withdrew her hands from the wall like it had been caught aflame. It was safe to say Toph knew she shouldn't stick around to see anything more. Never before had she felt the actually ramifications of only being a child. She'd often forgot that she was, in fact, the youngest member of a group that consisted mostly of teenagers.
Toph slowly made her way back to her sleeping bag, desperate to ignore the two benders upstairs she could feel every time her heel touched the stone. She was confused, terribly so.
The earthbender was no dummy. She knew asking either Katara or Zuko would warrant a screaming match from the one or the other. The two were so temperamental sometimes, Sugarqueen especially.
Though, she couldn't help but question with every fiber of her half-awake being why Katara and Zuko (known not to get along) would be awake, in the middle of the night, alone, naked, and on top of each other!
She shook her head of the madness, and crawled into the sleeping bag.
Before Toph withdrew her hand to the safe confines of the warm fur, she caught the sight of one last movement from upstairs. Katara's lips locked onto the Fire Prince's with what Toph could only call determination.
Sleep began to overtake the girl. She prided herself on being able to sleep through pretty much anything these days. Before she lost herself into her dreams she pondered how exactly she could figure this new mystery out.
Asking the sources themselves was obviously out. The last members of the Freedom Fighters weren't any more knowledgeable then she was. And Aang – well, Aang was a monk for Pete's sake! He wouldn't understand it any more then she did at the moment.
It was settled then, Toph thought ask she felt the darkness of sleep enclose her.
She'd have to ask Sokka about it in the morning.
Questions? Comments? Concerns?