I like this as a one-shot, but I might add more.


It all happened so fast. He demanded for her to show herself, but before she could decide what to say, she felt his stance change. She heard the fire, but of course, she couldn't actually see it, so she pulled up a wall in hope that it would be enough.

But shit, she couldn't see what was going on. Toph stepped backwards, thinking it would get her farther away from the flames, but suddenly there was searing pain in her feet and she couldn't see anything.

In her panic, she stomped her foot on the ground, aiming a surge of rock to knock the firebender's wrist awry—maybe it would stop the fire—she just needed to get away, she needed to feel the ground again, she needed to see.

The act of setting her foot on the ground made her cry out in pain, though, and she stumbled backwards. Just a moment after her scream began, though, Toph heard a very different voice, shouting out as well, but it didn't register.

Her feet—her feet were on fucking fire. It was, in a way, a blinding pain. Toph bit at her lip, trying to stifle her scream because Toph Bei Fong does not scream but it only worked to a point. She patted at the ground, using her hands to awkwardly feel her way farther from Zuko's camp.

She screamed again, but it was more out of frustration, because she realized what had happened.

"You burned my feet!" she screamed at him.

At the same time, though, the firebender's yell drowned her out. "You broke my wrist!"

She ignored him, but she couldn't ignore how rudimentary her sight was with just her hands. "I can't see!"

"I can't bend!" Zuko yelled at the same time, but his frustrated exclamation sort of fizzled out as he took notice of Toph. At least, that's what it seemed like.

And it just made her panic more. She crawled backwards, hoping that he couldn't see her in the dark. Zuko wasn't a threat—it's why she's sought him out in the first place—but she couldn't be seen like this. She was exposed, vulnerable—weak.

Zuko's voice took on a horrified tone. "You mean I blinded you?!"

His tone was so serious and so aghast that Toph forgot all about the pain for a moment. She stared in his direction, her face blank of any expression. And then she was just angry all over again. "I'm already blind, you flaming idiot!" she screamed. "I mean I can't bend!"

"What—"

"Just stay away from me!" Toph declared, her anger boiling over. She lobbed a melon-sized rock in his direction, though she knew it wouldn't hit him. Faintly, she could feel him side-step it and approach her.

"Please! I won't hurt you—" her foot brushed the ground, and she screamed in frustrated pain. She knew he wouldn't hurt her; hadn't he just said he couldn't bend? Even if he could bend, she could still take him out.

But her feet were throbbing and she couldn't even think straight. She wanted to get away—again, she couldn't just let her guard down! She was Toph Bei Fong, damn it!

And yet her body seemed to have a different plan, and she collapsed against the hard earth. She could hear Zuko breathing heavily, still on the other side of his campfire, but he must've figured out that she had stopped.

In the moment of silence between them, all that Toph heard was the crackling wood in the fire pit, and both of their heavy heartbeats. She was catching her breath, and she heard his slow as well. It made her feel better, strange enough, hearing someone else nearby.

"I'm so sorry," he said finally, in a quiet but sincere voice. She could actually hear his regret, that's how sincere his voice was.

Toph sat up, digging her hands into the rock for comfort. "It's… it's ok." And surprisingly, it was.

"No it's not—"

"I startled you. Not your fault. How's your wrist?"

His heart rate spiked as he said, "It's ok."

When he'd been speaking with Twinkletoes, the firebender's heartbeat had never wavered; it's how she knew he was truthful. But now it was painfully obvious that he was lying about the pain. Toph's mouth pulled into a frown as Zuko stepped closer to her. When she didn't react, he knelt beside her carefully, and she assumed he was checking her feet.

As soon as he set his hands on the ground, she realized the damage. "Your wrist really is broken," she told him.

"What?"

Toph wondered how Katara's magical water hands would work on bones, because she'd never heard of Katara doing so before. "I hit it too hard, it's broken."

She heard him shift, moving his arm around. "How can you tell?"

Toph rubbed her hands further into the ground, bending the rocks a little. "Felt it. I see through earthbending. How do my feet look?"

Zuko exhaled sharply. "Don't try to walk, that's for sure. I have burn salve in my tent, though."

Toph shook her head. "Sugar Queen can fix me up with her voodoo water tricks," she assured him. "Help me up, Sparky," she commanded.

He cooperated without any protest, which kind of took her off guard. His arm was suddenly wrapped around her, pulling Toph up by the waist. Then before her feet even brushed the ground, another arm hooked under her knees. Suddenly, she couldn't see again.

"Sheesh, Sparky, I didn't say you could just pick me up!" Slightly panicked, Toph's hand curled around what seemed to be his shoulder.

Zuko stilled, and said, "You can't walk, anyway. Am I hurting you?"

"Isn't this hurting your wrist?" she demanded.

"Not really. I'm using my arms, not my wrist." Well, he did have a point. "What's wrong, are you in pain?"

She snorted, glaring briefly at nothing. "Of course I'm in pain. It's not that, though, it's—it's just that I can't even feel the ground." Toph scolded herself for confessing such a thing. She sounded afraid, and she wasn't afraid.

"Sorry," he said quietly. What was with all the apologies? It was completely unnecessary. "I'll just… take you back to the temple, then."

"Yeah, yeah," she mumbled back.

It had taken fifteen minutes for Toph to reach Zuko's camp, but the journey back would probably be shorter. Even so, Toph had no intentions of maintaining a silence between them for any duration of time. Talking would take her mind off the pain.

"Just wondering, Sparky, what did you plan on doing if we'd kept you as a prisoner?" Toph queried. Of course, she knew that Aang would never agree to something like that, so it surprised them all when the Prince of the Fire Nation offered. Not to mention it was weird, because he was surrendering to a thirteen year old.

"Um, I'm not really sure… and why are you calling me Sparky?"

"Do you prefer Sunshine? I think it suits your personality better." Toph shot back. "Oh, I'm Toph, by the way," she added as an afterthought.

"…Nice to meet you, Toph." Zuko answered unsurely. "Do you have nicknames for everyone?"

Toph grinned. "Of course. And I've given you a preemptive one, because I know Twinkles is going to come around eventually."

"Twinkles?" Zuko asked helplessly.

"Twinkletoes: Aang, the Avatar. I think you know him, right?"

"Yes, Toph. I know him."

Toph wondered if she was overstepping herself, but Zuko sounded depressed and it was going to annoy her if she didn't cheer him up soon. "Aang is fair, but he's going to want some actual proof that you've reformed and whatnot," she advised him. "Sokka as well. Just steer clear of Katara for now," Toph told him truthfully. She only used their actual names for his benefit, but it was weird and Toph didn't intend to keep it up.

"How am supposed to prove myself now?" Zuko exclaimed, and Toph got the feeling that he was thinking out loud, not asking her. "I just attacked the Avatar's earthbending teacher!"

Toph rolled her eyes, but she got the feeling that it was too dark for Zuko to see it. "You accidently burned someone. You're a firebender, I'm sure that happens." He didn't answer, but Toph was pretty sure that he was considering her statement. "Sugar Queen can heal me, and she'll probably heal you as well, and then glare and stomp away. Because she's like that."

Again, Zuko didn't respond. A few seconds later, he stopped. "Um, we're here, but no one's—"

"HEY! MEATHEAD, TWINKLES, SUGAR QUEEN, GET UP!"