She felt empty. She felt like her very being, the thing that made her who she was, had been ripped from her, stripping her of her identity. It made her feel exposed, vulnerable. That was not something she was used to. Memories of what had happened flooded her mind as she opened her eyes. Amon. She'd been held at his feet as he stripped her of her Bending.
She was greeted by the sight of stars. It took her a moment to realize she was lying on her back, staring up at the sky. She fisted her hands and felt blades of grass between her fingers. Sitting up took more effort than she'd thought. She felt like her body was being weighed down, her limbs stiff and rigid. When she finally managed to sit up, she took stock of her surroundings.
She was in the middle of a clearing, trees surrounding the edge making it impossible to see beyond the twisted and gnarled limbs and foliage. She was sitting in the center, the night sky looming over her like a canopy. But what caught her attention, what really made her heart stop, was the person sitting across from her, their arms crossed.
Toph's pale eyes stared in her daughter's direction, her gaze unwavering. Lin felt an ache in her heart as she stared at the woman who'd raised her, who'd loved her through all the trouble she'd gotten herself into. The woman she'd strived to make proud of her. And here she was, beaten and without her Bending. How was the Great Toph Bei Fong, The Greatest Earthbender in the World supposed to be proud of her now?
"Mother, I…" The woman sighed. "I'm so sorry."
Toph said nothing.
"I swore to protect this city from that monster and I've failed." She met her mother's gaze before shame flooded her senses and she looked down at the ground between them. "I let him take my Bending. I'm a failure." She squeezed her eyes shut, fighting the tears that threatened to fall. She would not cry. She would not show weakness in front of her mother. The woman who'd taught her to be tough and unbreakable.
Toph remained silent as she listened to her daughter's words.
"I gave my word to the people of Republic City I'd stop this madman and protect them from harm. I've let them down." She clenched her fists against her crossed legs. "I've let you down."
"Lin." The former Earthbender looked up at the sound of her mother's voice. Toph's tone commanded attention. It was something Lin had always admired and feared about her mother; the way she could make everyone listen to her without ever having to raise her voice. Toph had a presence that couldn't be ignored. Once the older woman was sure her daughter's attention was on her she continued.
"I did not raise you to feel sorry for yourself. I raised you to be a fighter, someone who wouldn't give up when the odds were stacked against them. Time and time again, you've proven your worth. I've watched you take down more crooks and hoodlums than I can count. I've seen you stay up nights working on a case that other people would say are a lost cause."
The Earthbender's trademark smirk appeared on her face. "If you call being the best Police Chief this city has ever had being a failure then by all means, yes. You're a failure. "
"But I can't Bend anymore…"
Toph's expression softened when she heard the uncertainty in her baby girl's tone. "Bending doesn't define us. Yes, it's a part of us, like an extension of our bodies but it is not everything." Toph reached over and caressed her daughter's cheek, rubbing a calloused thumb over the scars on her face. "Bending is not our strength. You have something most people strive for their entire lives and never find. Some are too much of a coward to try."
Lin leaned into her mother's hand, having missed her comfort so much. Tears shined in her green eyes as she remembered the first few months after her mother's passing. She had been distraught, plunging herself into her work to avoid feeling the grief. Now, all that was bubbling to the surface.
"You are courageous. You are brave. You willingly sacrificed yourself to save Tenzin and his family, and when faced with the possibility of having your Bending taken you remained strong. You wouldn't bend in your morals to save your own skin." Toph smiled, a true sincere smile. "And I couldn't be more proud of you."
Tears fell freely from the younger woman's eyes as she launched herself into the Earthbender's arms, holding onto her as if she was her lifeline in the middle of a stormy sea. Toph gently stroked her daughter's hair, staring out into nothing while her kid cried into her shoulder. It wasn't a heart wrenching sob, but a series of low whimpers. Either way, Toph could feel the tears dampening her clothes.
After a moment she gently made Lin sit back up, her hands resting on her shoulders. "Our time together is coming to an end. You'll be waking up soon."
"I don't want you to go."
Toph smiled sadly. "I know. But don't forget, I'm always watching over you. In a manner of speaking," she added, trying to lighten the mood. Lin managed a smile at this. "And I want you to put those lilylivers in their place when you wake up. Show them what happens when they mess with a Bei Fong."
Lin nodded, her mother's smirk sliding onto her face. "You got it."
Their surroundings started to blur and Lin knew that their time together was at an end. Toph stood, her daughter following soon after. "Oh, and give Twinkle Toes Jr. my congrats on the new baby."
Lin nodded her head again. "Will do."Toph started to fade, her form starting to blend in with the surroundings. "Mother, I…" Lin's throat tightened.
Toph nodded in understanding. "I know. I love you too, my little badger-mole," she replied, knowingly.
That was the last thing Lin heard before everything went black and she woke in a cell.
**** This has been swirling in my head for a while know. It's not my best work and I don't think I captured the emotions very well but finally I can move on with my life. Also I want to add that the cover for this story is not mine. The image belongs to rainbox17. Very talented, right?
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this. Thanks for reading.
As always, BG OUT! PEACE!