Crossroads

AN: This is my second Avatar: The Last Airbender fanfic. I hope that you like it! I am such a TOKO fan. I started this story a few months ago, but I lost it. I hope that you like it. It's different. Is dark and Toph is badass, like always. She is hiding a secret that might put the Fire Nation in jeopardy. Enjoy. Read it and review, please!


Beginning

The rain was falling mellifluously as she made her way up the dirt road that would take her home. Her hair was drenched and it covered her pale green sightless eyes. She didn't mind the rain. It didn't bother her that her feet had no shoes or the fact that she'd left the richness that she'd grown up with behind. She was satisfied with the cold rain on her skin and the mud that covered her feet. It reminded her that she was one with her element. She finally felt complete. She was a proud young woman. She'd made choices in the past that weren't the best, but those choices had made her into who she was today. Yes, she wasn't perfect. On the contrary, she had more flaws that anyone she'd ever known. She held a lot of resentment toward her parents and towards him.

"Idiot," she whispered and continued walking silently down the dirt road.

Toph Bei Fong had left the comfort of her wealthy childhood behind the minute that she ran away to – as she puts it - help teach the Avatar earthbending. It was imperative that she did. She shivered at the thought of not doing so. What if she never left the comfort of her old lavish lifestyle? Would the Avatar have beaten Fire Lord Ozai? Thankfully, that was all in the past. She contributed in helping Aang master all four elements. He'd accomplished his destiny and defeated the old Fire Lord and restored balance to the world.

She won't lie, she'd enjoy living the life of freedom; no one to tell her what to say or do. She'd traveled the world with two Southern water tribe members - Sokka and Katara – Aang, the avatar, and a temperamental prince. Despite their differences, they became great friends and she truly did suffer when she parted ways with them. But that it's part of life, she kept on telling herself. People come and go from our lives… but eventually we have to follow our own paths.

She tried to postpone her decision to leave and she did. She stayed with them, until there was no reason to follow in the footsteps of her friends. She had different goals, aspirations, and dreams. She had her own destiny to follow; she had a calling.

The war had been over; peace had slowly spread throughout the world and her thirst for fighting had slowly been quenched. She'd grown tired of the life of a – well, let's just call it of a nomad. Travelling around so much took a toll on her spirit. She wanted to settle down. She wanted to learn different earthbending styles and techniques. She wanted to teach and inspire the love for earthbending to a new generation of warriors and strong fighters.

"Are you sure you have to go?" Katara asked her the night of Toph's sixteenth birthday.

"I do," she sighed and walked over to her mattress. "We've done everything people do in a lifetime, Katara." She chuckled melancholically.

"Are you going to tell him where you are going?" she asked the blind earthbender. "This is all so sudden, Toph."

"It's not," she said, lifting her head. "I've been thinking about leaving for a while now."

"Where would you go?"

"I don't know," she shrugged and plopped on the bed. "I don't know."

She won't admit to anyone, but she cried when she left. To calm her saddened heart, she continuously told herself that it was the right thing to do. They no longer had anything to gain by travelling together. Their sole purpose had been to defeat the tyrannical empire that the Fire Nation had forced upon the word for almost a hundred years. The knife that had eviscerated the Earth Kingdom, The Water Tribes and the Airbenders, had been removed after the war. The world was finally healing from the wounds that the war left in it. People were regaining their trust in the new appointed Fire Lord.

Toph scoffed, as she remembered the moody prince she met seven years ago. He'd been a pain in the ass. He was so pompous and always talking about regaining his honor in the eyes of his father. His tale had grown weary over the months he tried to capture the Avatar and his friends. But thankfully, things change and so did he. He proved to be the best friend that she'd ever had. Actually, all of them proved to be the greatest friends she'd ever had. But, like always, the adventurous spirit of the Bei Fong family had taken over her and she left the group after three months of the prince ascension to become Fire Lord Zuko.

"Sensei! Sensei!" A familiar voice called as she entered the gates of the small village she lived in.

"Yes, Kan," she said, her sightless eyes wandered in the darkness that she'd known for nineteen years of her life.

"Sensei, there's a man that has come asking for you. He's at the mayor's house." Kan said nervously. "I don't like him."

"Did he say what his name was?" she asked, grazing her hand over her damp hair away from her face.

"No,"

She stepped on the ground again and concentrated hard. If she was in harmony with her element, she could expand her scope and see the vibrations that came from the entire village. She turned to face the east of the village and saw the images that were made through the vibrations that the earth sent her.

"Take this to my house, Kan." She ordered, removing her satchel and handed it over to the young child.

"Where are you going?" Kan asked worriedly, as he took the satchel that the blind Earthbender passed him.

"Do as I say," she said in her firm tone. "I will see you later. Remember to practice. I will be testing you in your bending soon. You are my best pupil."

"Ugh, Sensei," he whined. "It's raining! Can't I practice another day?"

"Kan," she said irritated. "Do as I say." She said with finality. "Go and practice your earthbending. You do want to be better than the Yong twins, right?" she asked, the corner of her lips lifting in to a ghost smile. "You want to be as good as Rae?"

"Rae's a prodigy," he grunted.

"That's why you need to practice,"

"Fine," Kan nodded and bowed in front of his teacher and ran to do as Toph ordered him. Toph sighed and headed towards the east side of the village, until she reached the designated house. She inhaled deeply and slowly approached the door and knocked.

"Sensei," Hun Kein smiled, when she stood beside the door to allow the blind earthbender to enter. "My husband, the mayor is in his study. We have a guest in our village. He's come searching for you, Sensei." The lovely plum woman said. "We sent Kan to find you."

"He did," Toph said nonchalant, as she walked over to the small living room. She shook her head and water droplets from her hair fell on the furniture. Mrs. Hun Kein sighed at the lack of manners the beautiful bender had. But on the other hand, she adored Toph with a motherly love that she didn't understand why.

Toph had been wandering aimlessly, when she came into Hun Kein and Mayor Li's life. The corrupted Fire Kingdom governors still had political power in the small village and were terrorizing the villagers. The Son village had been ruled under an iron fist for so long, that they were afraid to revolt. It only took a tiny, angry bender, two hours and the small village was set free. No one could believe that a blind bender had the strength of a small army to eradicate the insipid poison that tarnished the small town.

"Please, follow me," Hun Kein said, and started walking down the narrow hall that led to her husband's study. "I find it hard to believe that Sensei knows the Avatar and the Fire Lord." She said perplexed.

"How did you- never mind," she said, rolling her sightless eyes.

"The young man that came to see you says that…" Toph ignored the woman's comment and followed after her. She could hear the husky voice that spoke on the other side of the door that separated the hall and Mayor Li's study. She inhaled deeply and tried to pull her hair back, as best to her ability and slowly faced the door.

"I'm going in," Toph said indifferently, as she reached for the doorknob and slowly turned it. She took meticulous steps in to the study and stopped when the vibrations that were coming from the room, made a clear picture in her mind. "Hello, Sokka." She said, as she remained standing by the door. "What are you doing here?" she asked, picking the dirt off her nails.

Sokka shrugged at the scene before him. Toph's manners remained the same, he thought to himself. He continued studying the tiny bender. She was a bit taller than the last time he'd seen her. Her black hair wasn't in the same style that she usually wore it. It tumbled down over her shoulder in a thick messy braid that ran down to her waist. Her green eyes ware opaque and as always, expressionless. Her nose was small and her face was framed perfectly by the bangs that cascaded down the side of her face. She had more curves; she was definitely a woman, not a child.

He cleared his throat and stood up from his seat and reluctantly raised his hand to touch her. "Don't you dare." Toph warned him. "You haven't answered my question. What you are doing here?"

"I came for you," the young warrior sighed. "We need you."

"Who is 'we'?" she asked, putting emphasis on the we, as she crossed her arms over her chest and stared at his direction, except for the fact that she was blind and couldn't see him. Sokka had to blink a few times to remind himself that she was blind. Her eyes couldn't be watching him, right?

"We – as in Aang, Katara, Suki, Haru and all of your friends," he sighed and looked around the room.

"I don't feel like socializing," she said nonchalantly. "I have a life now, Sokka."

Sokka took a few steps closer and placed his hand on his forehead and exhaled. "We need your help. You are coming with me,"

"I doubt it," she snapped, narrowing her eyes, her hands balling into fists. "I never did follow your instructions."

"This is different, Toph," he paused and sighed in irritation at her unchanging attitude.

One would think that she'd learn to be respectful of him, since he was no longer a boy. He was a man, a warrior from the Southern Water Tribe. He'd passed the rite of passage from boyhood to manhood, by defeating countless monsters with his father.

"You are annoying me," she said, turning around. She proceeded to reach for the doorknob, and slowly turned it, when she felt Sokka take a few steps towards her.

"Please, come with me. We need you. I need you."

"What for?" she asked lividly, making the small house shake from the ground up. Hun Kein took a step back and motioned the Mayor to stand near her. "Tell me why do I need to go with you? Tell me why do I have to drop my life to cater to your whims?"

Mayor Li cleared his throat and shifted on his feet. For a minute there, Sokka had forgotten that the elder couple was still in the same room as them. "We'll leave you two to speak privately," Mayor Li sighed and placed his hand on the small of his wife's back and ushered her out of the room. "We'll send Sephir to bring you some refreshment." He said, bowing his head at Toph and Sokka, before exiting the room and closing the door.

Sokka waited, until the elder couple's footfalls were distant, before he spoke. "We have to leave soon. If we take too long, it might be too late." He said worriedly.

"Why do I have to drop everything in my life and return with you, Sokka?" she asked, leaning back against the wall, looking as carefree as he last remembered her.

"One of your friends has gone missing," Sokka said sadly. "We need your help to find Zuko."

"Zuko? My-Our friend Zuko?" the Blind Bandit said, her eyes opening widely, as tears welled in them. She turned her head slightly, hiding her unshed tears from Sokka. She was thankful that she was still drenched from the rain.

"Yes, our friend, the Fire Lord Zuko, he's gone missing." Sokka said in a solemn tone. "Iroh is worried about his nephew's safety. If the Fire Nation doesn't find their ruler, there is going to be chaos. He's been missing for a while now. There are rumors spreading through the courtyards and if we don't find him, the Fire Sages can appoint a new ruler. Azula is pushing the council to appoint her son as the next Fire Lord at the tender age of three."

"What? Azula has a son?" she asked incredulous.

"That's beside the point, Toph," he said exasperated.

"Fine." She shrugged. "So Azula's son could be the next Fire Lord? They can't do that! Zuko isn't dead. I know that he's not dead. He probably slipped away from his tiresome work and decided to go somewhere else to relax. Maybe he's in a secret vacation. He's done it before. He's probably somewhere in the Fire Islands, vacationing with Needles." She said scoffing.

"How can he be taking a vacation in the Fire Islands with Mai?" he said gloomily.

"Why not?" she gesticulated. "They are dating. He loves his emotionless wife or whatever she is…"

"She's dead, Toph." He said rudely.

Toph's eyebrows knitted together pensively. "Mai is dead? Since when?"

"She died a little over a year ago. Many things have happened since you left, Toph. The world has changed and so have you." He said sullenly. "There's much to tell, my friend." He said, shaking his head. "I promise to update you on the things that have happened since you left the Fire Nation."

"Apparently, a lot has happened." She said sarcastically, her eyes fixed on the floor. "Do you have any idea where to go to search for the Fire Lord? Do you have an idea of where he's at?"

"Not really, Toph." Sokka shook his head and sighed. "He could be anywhere." He said dejectedly. "There are rumors that he was last seen in a village not far from here." He said, sitting back on the uncomfortable lounge.

"How did you find me?" she asked curiously. "I didn't tell anyone – oh, Katara."

"Yeah, she told me," he said softly. "She's missed you. We've all missed you."

"So, why is Sifu Hotman doing in the Earth Kingdom?" she asked perplexed, ignoring his comment.

"We don't know,"

"I thought that he cared more about ruling a nation? What was he thinking of leaving his city?"

"We don't know," he sighed and stared at the door, hoping that the Mayor and his wife would soon send their maid with some refreshment and food. He was hungry. He'd to make his journey by foot and he barely survived on the food that Katara had packed for him. "Our sources aren't really too reliable, but Katara, Aang and I believe that he was searching for his missing mother."

Toph nodded and gnawed at her bottom lip, as she frowned. "I – The maid is coming. I wouldn't eat the food that she's bringing," Toph said, scooting away from the door and letting her hands fall to her side. Seconds after she spoke, there was a soft rasp on the door. "Come in," Toph ordered and the door burst open and in came Sephir, the maid. She held a tray of finger food and a teapot and two cups. She sat them on the small table and bowed.

"I brought Jasmine tea and sugar flakes. Is there anything that you would like?" she asked, staring at the handsome warrior.

"No, thank you," Sokka said, shaking his head, his blue eyes focused on the tray. "If we need anything else, we'll let you know."

"All right, I will be taking my leave now," Sephir said, her lips curving into a flirtatious smile. "My name is Sephir, if you need anything else, sir."

"OK, leave," Toph said irritated, grabbing the doorknob and holding the door open.

Sokka rushed to reach into the plate and grab a few sugar flakes. The maid bowed again and exited the room. "These are delicious," Sokka said with his mouth full.

"I forgot that you like crap and eat any strange dish that's placed before you," Toph chuckled and exited the room.

"Where are you going?" Sokka asked, grabbing the tray and pressed it close to his chest and stood up. "I thought that you would join the group to search for Zuko."

"I am," she said nonchalantly.

"But you look like you are leaving the room. I know you, Toph. You'll leave and I'll wait for you here for days."

"I've grown, Sokka." She said, rolling her eyes. "I have to get my things ready before I leave. I can't just leave everything like this. I have to take care of business."

"Oh, yeah, sorry." Sokka said, feeling a bit stupid. "Can I help you with anything?"

"No. I can do them on my own." She said, slamming the door on Sokka's face, causing the hot teapot to stain the blue clothes he wore.

"Toph!" he shouted from behind the door, in pain. "This is hot! You like to see me suffering!"

"I know. It's always nice to see you in pain," Toph muttered and walked down the hall. She passed Mayor Li and his wife Hun Kein and thanked them for the food and left the house.

Sokka followed after her, also thanking the mayor and his wife for their hospitality. Before leaving, he asked them for more sugar flakes and the directions to where Toph lived. Sephir filled a bowl with sugar flakes and the young warrior was off on his way. He found Toph speaking to people in the plaza. He noticed the young bender smiling genuinely to the couple that stood before her. She seemed different. He was aware that Toph wasn't the same twelve years old he'd met during his travels with the Avatar. The girl that he saw in the distance was somewhat different. Sokka continued following her, keeping a safe distance between them. He was aware that if she knew that he was following her, she would make him suffer. Oh, how he missed his sweet and loving Suki.

Toph said goodbye to the people she'd been talking to, and wandered west from the plaza, passing a gravel crossroad. She stopped by a tree next to a large bush and reached behind it, pulling out two young kids. They looked messy, covered in dirt. She knelt between them and shook her head, as she gently spoke to them. Sokka couldn't hear what she was saying to them, but it surprised him, that she wasn't screaming at them. When she finished speaking to them, she smiled kindly at them and patted their heads and continued merrily on her way.

Sokka continued to follow closely, as he held on to his new sword and boomerang and looked at his surroundings. Toph seemed laid-back, as they continued walking. He was amazed at how easily she walked without seeing with her eyes what was in front of her. She reached a small and simple abode and stopped walking.

"Don't following me inside," she said irritated, doing an about face and turned to face him. "You stay there," she said, pointing at Sokka not to move a muscle. "If you dare to go in to my house, I'll cut you into pieces with a knife made of stone and send your remaining in a gift box to Suki. Got it?" she hissed and entered her house.

Sokka didn't even bother to move. He didn't want to become sauté Sokka. He would miss Suki very much. He walked closer to her house, but remained next to the barn where she kept her ostrich-horses. He tried petting one, but almost lost a hand.

"They are vicious, just like their owner." He mumbled, moving away from the barn and walked around the stall and sat on the wet floor and waited for Toph to gather her belongings so they could start the journey to rendezvous with the rest of the group.

It took no more than five minutes when Toph exited her house with a bag of clothes. "I'm ready to go. We just have to go and get Rae." She said a reluctant smile on her lips.

"Rae?"

"Yes, Rae," she nodded. "Let's get things ready." She whispered and began walking away from him. She walked into the barn and motioned him to follow her.

"Wait up, Toph," he said, as he caught up with her. He watched as she spoke softly to the vicious ostrich-horse that had tried to bite his hand. Something in Toph's mannerism had changed. He didn't know what it was. Could it be that she'd been living among the people of the small village and their kindness had rub off on her. Nah, he thought with a chuckle.

"Grab that ostrich-horse over there," she said, pointing at a sleeping ostrich-horse on the right side of the barn. "Saddle him. That's the one you are going to use." She said, her eyes closed. The young warrior nodded and watched as Toph placed the saddle on the animal and picked her bags off the floor. "You are doing it wrong, Sokka." She said, walking over to him. She threw one of her bags at his face, but he caught it. "Let me do it for you." She said nonchalantly. When she was done, she moved to the side and snatched her bag out of his hand. "Let's stop by a friend's house." She said, walking over to her ostrich-horse and hopped on it. "You are going to have to guide me, please."

"Sure," Sokka said, taking the reins of his animal and walked it over to where Toph was. "Let me have your rein."

"Do you know where we are going?" he asked her.

"Not if I am on this animal," she shrugged.

"Where is your friend's house?" he asked.

"Let's go towards the crossroad we passed earlier and then take the path that leads to the east." She said a hint of sadness in her voice. "We should make it to Hana's house."

"Is Hana a good friend of yours?"

She didn't say anything, but closed her eyes and sighed despondently. They rode in silent, until Sokka saw a house in the distance. It had stopped raining and he could see kids running happily and playing around.

"We are near," Toph said, raising her head up. "I hear Rae's voice."

"Is Rae your boyfriend?" Sokka asked puzzled. They continued in silence, when he chuckled.

"What's so funny?"

"There is a house with many children playing on the patio," Sokka said.

"Then we are near," She nodded and they continue their ride in silence. It didn't take long, for them to dismount their ostrich-horses. Toph inhaled deeply and turned to face Sokka. "I have to go inside. Can you wait here, please? I won't take long."

"Um, sure," he said confused.

She walked inside the small house and he watched as a couple of kids approached him. They were around the age of three and five. One of them had a familiar face. He's seen him before. He just wondered where.

"Hey," Sokka said to one of the kid. "Have we met?" he asked, crouching down to have a better view of the kid's face.

"No," he said, kicking Sokka on the shin and ran away.

"Evil kid!" Sokka yelled in pain. "Ugh!"

"Momma! Momma!" The kid yelled running inside the house.

The other kids around him started to laugh. "You hurt him. His mama is scary. She can beat you up." A chubby kid said loudly.

"What the hell is going on?" Toph stepped out of the house, glaring at the distance. "Sokka are you scaring the kids?"

"No, I was just talking to that kid. He kicked me and ran inside," he said defensively.

She turned around and walked back inside. When she stepped out, she'd changed in to clean clothes and wore a leather poncho. She sauntered down the front steps and sighed. "Rae, hurry up. We have to go."

"I don't want to," A small kid whined, as he trailed after Toph. "I don't want to go anywhere."

"We are ready, Sokka," she said nonchalantly, walking over to the ostrich-horse. "Rae will ride with me."

"Who is he, Momma?" Rae asked, pointing at Sokka.

"He's a friend," she said casually, extending her hand to the kid. "We have to go."

The kid guided Toph toward the animal and she easily climbed on its back. "Come, Rae," she said, lowering her hand for the kid to take. She effortlessly pulled him up and settled him between her legs. "We are ready, Sokka. Where are we going?"