When Toph met Yue …

A:tLA Fanfiction by: A J

(Standard Disclaimer Applies)

Author's Warning! This is not, I repeat NOT, canon-compliant, nor is it a ship fic. Anyone looking for those, turn back now. For those readers with some curiosity and some fortitude, please proceed. And please remember to review, if you liked it, or if you spot something needing fixed. Thank you, now … on with the show …

During the final battle on the Air-ship fleet, all does not go as well as Sokka would have liked …

As with any organization, the Celestial Bureaucracy has a habit of making its most junior members deal with the more onerous tasks of running the realm.

This was how young Yue, former Princess of the Northern Water Tribe and newly instated Spirit of the Moon came to be dispensing justice for infractions against the peace of the Spirit Realm. She'd already seen to the disposition of a large number of recent arrivals from the Fire Nation - apparently a large battle was being waged, and the Fire troops were taking heavy losses. Then the Earth citizens and all manner of wildlife had arrived, and after hearing all the details of the circumstances, Yue wisely directed all involved recent arrivals to a higher court. Then the last arrivals had appeared, and immediately started brawling ... in HER courtroom!

"Guards! Seize them! Bring the ones responsible before me!" She may have been new at Celestial Bureaucracy, but she'd been a princess all her life. Decorum was expected from all in her presence.

Now, Yue looked down at the young spirit who'd been brought before her. She recognised the girl immediately, as well she should, having watched over her first love these many months since her ascension to the Spirit Realm. "You're ... Toph, right?"

"Yeah, what of it?" the former Blind Bandit fired back, and did something unheard of before in all the Celestial Bureaucracy; she BENT the two spirit guards holding her away with a wave of the Earthen floor. "So … what? I'm not allowed to thrash these guys anymore? Why?"

"How ..? How did you do that?" Yue asked, stepping down from her dais.

"Do what?" Toph countered, in her most sarcastic voice. She was trying to sense the girl in front of her, but the other's footsteps were as hard to sense as Twinkletoes'.

"How did you Earthbend, in the Spirit World?" Yue asked. It was something only higher Officers of the Realm could do, normally, and even though she counted among them, Yue still hadn't mastered more than the basic healing magic she'd known when alive. For this small blind girl, newly dead, to show such power so offhandedly ...

"I don't know ... I just did it ... Wait," Toph stalled. "Did you say I'm in the SPIRIT WORLD?"

"Yes, Miss Bei Fong," An officious little weasel-spirit said from near the steps of Yue's dais. His whiskers twitched as he held up a scroll and read from it. "This, the four-thousand, seven hundred and forty-fourth day since your birth, is now the date of your death."

"I - I'm dead? Today?" Toph's sightless eyes welled with tears she refused to shed.

Empathetic Yue stepped forward and put a gentle hand on Toph's shoulder. "What is it?"

"Tomorrow woulda been ... my birthday ..." Toph said simply, and sat down where she was. The stone pillars of the audience chamber rattled and rumbled in time with her uneven breathing, like candles running amuck around a disturbed Firebender.

Murmuring all around them brought the other, more-immediate matter back to Yue's mind. "We're taking a recess," she said loudly. "See that the others from the battle are sent to the proper court. I shall lead Miss Bei Fong myself." It was in her voice that all matters pertaining to the newly deceased Earthbending Master would be seen to by her personally; none challenged her.

Yue helped Toph regain her feet with a friendly tug, and the two young women walked from the room. "Where're you taking me?" the younger girl asked after several long, unbroken corridors separated them from the gathered throng.

"We're going to see your ancestors. They might be able to say why you can bend, here." Yue said after a moment. Toph balked suddenly. "What's wrong?"

"Those old sticks in the mud?" Toph curled her lip. "My parents consulted with our ancestors when I was born ... my great-grandmothers were the ones who advised them to hide me safely away from the world!"

"I ... I can't understand why they'd do such a thing ..." Yue shook her head. "You seem capable enough to me, why would they think they had to hide you?"

"Oh, yeah, I'm capable," Toph seethed. "No thanks to any of them! I learned it all on my own, because Mom and Dad were too ashamed of their poor little blind girl to see the brilliant daughter they ignored!" The gilt marble walls of the surrounding corridor shook with her indignation.

In a flash of insight, Yue knew why Toph could bend in the Spirit World; the sheer amount of willpower and raging emotions hidden in the young girl before her was the fuel of their Realm. "Toph," Yue started, deciding to speak plain. "Yes, you have passed beyond the material world. Yes, you are now a resident of the hereafter, and also now a citizen of the Celestial Bureaucracy, and as such you are now also subject to the laws of the realm. Please, remember that. But there is an upside. You have it in you to go far in this Realm, starting with how you, freshly-arrived, can already command the substance of our insubstantial world as if you'd been here for centuries."

"You mean others who've just arrived can't do this?" Toph asked, waving just a foot on the floor right behind her, and calling up an ornate stone chair from the floor. She sat with a smirk, and propped her feet up on a matching ottoman she conjured with an extra curl of her bare toes. "Wow, I really AM the greatest Earthbender, huh?" she smirked. Yue tittered. She was going to like working with this girl ...

... to be continued ..?