This was mainly written for the hell of it, so don't take it too seriously. A million thanks to GracefulWings on dA for beta-reading this.


Tony Stark was having the worst day of his life. The new leader of the Ten Rings had gotten his hands on some particularly nasty weapons, and even Iron Man was finding it difficult to take them out this time. (That rotten traitor Obadiah may have been six feet under, but his damn company was still going at it with the weapons development.) His enemies were getting better at fighting him; bringing down terrorists wasn't the bowling party it had been the first few times he'd donned the suit. Currently, he was pinned down behind a pile of steel and concrete rubble while the militants searched for him. He couldn't just leave—he'd be sacrificing the lives of God-knows-how-many refugees if he ran to save his own sorry ass. And just to add insult to injury, he and Pepper had had a hell-raising fight the day before. It would take a miracle to get him out of this mess. Then, as if the universe had heard his dilemma, something miraculous did indeed happen. A glittering, swirling spot appeared in the air four feet from Stark's head. It wavered there for a moment, and then a thin, shining line extended out from the spot and slowly widened, like a curtain parting. From this shining rift in the very fabric of space and time fell… a little girl. And if Tony Stark hadn't been facing the other direction, he might have witnessed this one-in-a-trillion cosmic event.

"Hey! Is this someone's idea of a joke?!" the girl yelped indignantly. "Where am I?" Tony whipped around and saw her.

"Oh, fantastic," muttered Tony. "As if things weren't bad enough, now I have to deal with a kid?" He'd never been a fan of children. While other people reacted to the sight of a newborn baby with cooing adoration, his reaction ran more along the lines of, "Yeah, tell you what, gimme a call when it does something interesting, will ya?" This kid was dressed like the deranged lovechild of a renaissance festival and a samurai movie, and she was barefoot. But the most unsettling aspect of this tiny apparition was her eyes: they were a foggy green color and they were unfocused, gazing at nothing in particular, like she was… blind? Perfect, a blind kid in an active war zone! The girl shook her head and took a step backwards, twisting her feet against the ground.

"Just 'cuz you saved the world doesn't mean you can get out of training, Twinkletoes! Where'd ya go? This isn't funny! Hello? …Aang, seriously!" Tony scrambled forward and clamped a metal-clad hand over her mouth.

"Shut up, you're going to get us both killed!" he hissed. She swatted his hand away, clearly annoyed, but she lowered her voice nonetheless. The girl frowned and twisted her right foot against the ground again.

"There's something… wrong about you. It's like you're made out of metal." She drew back from him, glaring in his general direction. "Combustion Man?! Didn't we blow you up?"

"Look, kid, I don't know how you got here, but you have to leave. Right now!" Tony insisted.

"Leave?" Toph asked with her usual edge. "I don't even know where I am!" She stomped her foot in frustration and a pillar of earth shot up between them, rising ten feet before sinking back into the ground. For the first time in years, Tony Stark was reduced to a stuttering fool—no small feat, given his world-famous brilliance.

"Wha-what… uh… what the hell was that?" Stark gasped.

"Don't they have Earthbenders here, Metal Man?" the girl asked impudently.

"As a matter of fact, no!" he shot back.

"Must be a really boring place," Toph snorted.

"It has its moments. Is that… is it some kind of geokinesis, or something?"

"Geo-what, now?" the girl asked, raising an eyebrow. Stark opened his mouth to reply, but his words were cut off as a mortar shell exploded just beyond the scrap heap that shielded them. "What was that?!" Toph yelped.

"The bad guys found us," Tony muttered grimly. The girl grinned wickedly and rubbed her hands together. The overall effect was quite unnerving.

"Bad guys, huh? Sweet. It's been a while since I had a good fight!" she exclaimed.

"You, fighting? But you're like, eight years old!"

"I'm thirteen, thank you very much!" she said indignantly. "So why're you hiding back here instead of fighting these bad guys?"

"They have me pinned down," he growled.

"Sure," the girl snickered. Tony's ego was starting to feel bruised.

"All right then, let's see you handle them!"

"Okay. You're gonna have to tell me when they have stuff in the air, though. I can't see things when they're in the air."

"But you can't see at all, can you? I mean, you're blind… right?" Toph smirked.

"Define 'blind'." She lifted her arms out to her sides, then brought them in sharply. Sheets of scrap metal flew out of the heap and encased her body, creating a rough-hewn, eyeless suit of armor. Tony swore under his breath. The little girl stepped out from behind the heap, causing a commotion among the men on the other side. As Tony watched, she took a wide-legged fighting stance. No one moved for a moment that seemed to stretch on forever. Then she reached one arm outward, swung it to her left, and struck upward. A massive column of earth erupted beneath one of the tanks, launching it at least fifty feet into the air. The tank hung in the air for a few seconds before hurtling downward, crushing another tank as it returned to the ground. Tony had the uncomfortable feeling that this girl was about to put him out of a job. Chaos broke out among the enemy ranks as the terrorist combatants scattered in every direction, screaming in Arabic. Toph wasn't about to let them off lightly, though; she slid her right foot sideways and swept her arm across her body, creating a rolling wave of rock that flung eleven of the men against the ruined building behind them. Tony scrambled out of his hiding place and joined the fray, taking out a man with a rocket launcher aimed at his new ally. Between the two of them, the soldiers who hadn't already fled were soon on the run. Toph shed her armor as if it were made of tissue paper and pouted.

"They're running away! Some bad guys."

"Hell, I kinda feel like running away," Tony admitted. "Who are you?"

"I'm Toph Bei Fong, the greatest Earthbender in the world. And who are you, Metal Man?"

"Tony Stark. And it's Iron Man. According to the paparazzi, anyway."

"I'll stick with 'Metal Man'," Toph said. Tony Stark stood next to Toph Bei Fong, surveying the damage they'd done, and he put his hand on the girl's shoulder.

"Toph, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship."