"Want me to kick her arse? Because I will totally smack her in the face with a stone!" Toph offered in a friendly tone. She meant it in a nice way. She thought it would help – but it only made Song sniffle more.
"You can't kick her arse – she's like 80!" Zuko said with his usual dramatic admonishment.
"So. What does that matter?" Toph replied with a shrug.
"Because it's... not nice to hit old people." was Zuko's reply.
Not nice? Toph didn't care much for nice at the best of times. She certainly didn't care for it now. The Dowager reminded her of her grandmother. She was such a bully. People like that didn't care for nice, so why should Toph.
"Well it's not nice for old people to act like a bag of dicks. (Song did the scandalised pearl clutch when Toph said bag of dicks, and Toph was reminded that Song was really much more innocent in some respects, even though she was older. She'd never been to an earthrumble, expressed her feelings through breaking something, or felt so miserable that she tried to run away. So Toph tried to moderate her language a bit.) "She shouldn't be able to talk to people like that just because she's old. Someone should give her what for!"
Song waved her hands between them and started to demurely say "Oh, I don't thinks that's necess..."
"Someone should not be you – your mum will go absolutely spare at me if she thinks I'm condoning you beating up 80 year old women..besides this is Song's fight."
Song once again made mutterings about how she really didn't want to fight.
Toph spoke over the top of her and said "I say we kick this old-school style and do the simplest solution. We just take the bag of money and Zuko can hold her down while I shove it up her...."
Toph didn't think anyone should have to take this sort of crap from bullies like her grandmother. She'd been little when her grandmother had constantly visited and made her life a misery. She hadn't known how to fight back. But she was bigger now, and stronger and she knew how to fight.
Zuko made an aghast face at her suggestion and interrupted with a spluttering "Why do you always think the simplest solution involves shoving things up other things?
"I've been sticking with this suggestion for so long that the law of averages says eventually I'll be right and it will be the perfect solution. " Toph said with a shrug.
Zuko made a very perplexed face and asked "What kind of situation would that even be!"
Toph could think of several examples, but before she say anything Zuko held his hand up in front of her face and said "Don't answer that".
Iroh bustled in with a huge pot of strong tea that was alternatively sweet and spicy. He laid a steaming up in front of Song, while he said "If you like, I can talk to her for you. I'll have you know – I can be very persuasive."
Song took a sip and thanked him, but added softly that it wasn't necessary. Iroh sat next to her and gently asked what she meant.
"The Dowager...she's right...about me." Song said quietly as she clutched her cup.
All of them made murmurings about how that wasn't true at all.
"No, it is true." Song said in a voice that sounded much stronger and more forced...like she was pushing the words out but they were almost too heavy. "I'm not queen material. I'm a little person – I'm not a grand person like the three of you. "
Zuko quickly said "We're not grand people." He was trying to comfort Song. Toph knew that. But she still felt it was the wrong thing to say. She hated the Dowager had made Song feel small. Her Grandmother had made her feel small too. Toph could tell, from the way Zuko had said they weren't grand, like he really believed it, that he'd had someone make him feel small too. And Toph didn't like it one bit.
"Speak for yourself. I'm awesome!" She declared proudly.
"Not helping Toph. "Zuko hissed softly while he elbowed her.
"What?" Toph asked crossly. "I'm just saying. I'm awesome. You're awesome. Uncle's awesome and Song, I don't know you very well, but you seem pretty awesome as well." She continued.
She could feel a little flutter of happiness in Song's heartbeat then.
Iroh said, in his kind and wise voice, "you mustn't let her put you off dear. I think you will make a fine queen. Your country needs a woman like you...a woman with kindness, generosity and intelligence."
Song started to sniffle at that. She go moist around the eyes. But it wasn't because she was sad at all. She just had a lot of feelings right at that moment. Toph wasn't good with crying people, even if they were crying because they were happy. But she didn't want to seem like she was running away, so she grabbed Zuko and made mutterings about getting biscuits to go with the tea. It wasn;t running away if two people go. It was gathering supplies.
After making their brave retreat from the room of emotion. Zuko actually got the biscuits down, because he takes everything so literally. But Toph wasn't complaining. He'd got the good kind with the sugar coating. They sat on the bench for a moment, munching biscuits in silence while listening to Uncle say kind and wise things in the next room.
Toph was thinking about how other people can make you feel small when they really shouldn't. And she was thinking about how you can also make a person feel really big with just a few words and a bit of kindness. And Toph knew how to do both things, very well...making people feel the small and the big. She knew which sort of person she wanted to be now.
Ba Sing Se made her feel a bit crazy. All cooped up with so many rules made her just want to go out and smash things and hit the people who hut her friends. Even though she knew hitting them wouldn't help at all. Zuko knew how she felt. He hated this city. He used to break things when he felt upset too. He couldn't do that now, because he was firelord and had to be a grown up.
Being a grown up meant he spent so much time trying to be the bigger person when it seemed like everyone in this city was trying to make him feel small.
It had really seemed to get to him this morning when he'd just been in the most terrible mood. It wasn't an angry-shouting mood, but a quiet-sad mood and they were so much worse. She hated seeing him feeling all flat and miserable. This was the first moment Toph had alone with him all day, and she knew she should try say something to make him feel better.
She gave Zuko a big punch in the arm, because that was how she showed affection and offered "Just so you know, I meant what I said."
She could practically feel Zuko rolls his eyes and he said "for the last time Toph, I am not going to help you shove a waterbending scroll up..."
"No, not that you dolt!" Toph rebuked, even though it was a fair assumption to make. When all the Northern Watertribe people were making Katara and Sokka miserable, Toph had wanted to take some proactive action. Zuko has spent a good long time one evening talking Toph out of her various plans of proactive action.
"I do think you're awesome. Just so you know." Toph said softly. Toph normally hated any sort of mushy stuff. but it made her feel big and good to say this, because she knew he needed to hear it today. It was just extra hilarious as well because he was so surprised (but in the good way) that he accidentally inhaled some biscuit and started coughing on the crumbs. Toph gave him a huge whack between his choulder blades and corrected her statement "Obviously I'm more awesome, because I don't choke on biscuits, but you are pretty cool as well."