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|The Eyeless Rebel PT2|
(A:TR) Ep.25: Teacher's Bitter Words
The night rolled onward, only then Aang was in a complete overload of curiosity, especially the fact Toph had snuck out. Aang began a steak out, and followed Toph. Toph, meanwhile, thought she was alone as Aang trailed her off the ground. She didn't really bother to look around though, the Air Nomad keeping a hawkeye on her throughout her walk. Aang's main question on where she was going, and why, raced around in his head as he tried keeping up with her. "Geesh, she is quick," Aang thought. His silence was disturbed when, almost out of the blue, Momo flew over! He'd must of woken up soon after Aang left.
"Momo! Why are you- oh forget. Just be quiet please," Aang begged, as quietly as he could. After that, he continued after Toph, now with Momo close behind. Toph, once again, didn't bother to look around for the spy, not seeming to care. Toph eventually ended up in an alleyway, no one around (except for Aang on the rooftop). Aang began seeing her just standing there for a minute, then she pulled out some sort of clothing from an area in the ground she earthbended open, like a box of rock right under the path.
"What is she..." Aang was suddenly cut off, by exactly what he saw...Toph was changing! Aang couldn't bare to last the whole way, nearly falling off the roof to spin away and rubbing his eyes, trying to get the image out.
"Oh Raava, why?!" Aang quietly screeched, Momo having the nerve to keep watching as Toph finished. Unlike Aang, Momo was a bit more used to it, him being a lemur, not a human. Aang eventually looked again, sensing it was safe to look. The outfit: the same attire June's accomplice had. Odd. Aang leaned over the ledge to watch her...but found himself falling after a rock whacked his head. No sooner after he hit the ground, he found himself looking up at Toph's face.
"What're you doing here, twinkle toes?" Toph asked, as Aang jumped to his feet.
"Nothing, nothing at all! Now if you excuse me-" Aang tried turning to bolt, but ended up running in place because Toph had him by the collar.
"Don't even think about it, you've seen plenty and I can tell. You just be a good boy and stick around," Toph instructed. Before Aang can react, suddenly Aang's neck was collared by an earth ring, a chain held by Toph. Momo, still on the roof, can only watch as Aang was going through this.
"What the heck? What are you doing, and why?!"
"Why were you following me is a better question! You should've minded your own business," Toph smirked. Aang tried to get the collar off but all he could do is get pulled along, like a pet dog chained to a moving post. Momo knew what to do, and quickly flew off. Time to call in the team!
Aang felt flat out humiliated at that point; the Avatar, being dragged around by this brat, for no reason! Aang simply gave up after ten minutes of struggle, seeing that it's flat out pointless by then. Toph, however, was enjoying herself with her new "pet", as she walked out of the town. Aang would try to airbend his way out, but he had doubt a strong breeze would get the collar off his neck, and that would expose him as the Avatar, which is something he doesn't want to risk. Aang didn't know where he was going, or why, but eventually they did end up in front of a large building. Aang didn't like this at all...and the fact Aang saw someone getting thrown out of the door didn't help much either.
"Please don't go in there."
"Oh quit complaining, come on!" Toph yanked Aang inside as they both went on in, Toph acting confident while Aang was worried as heck. Inside was crowded with a ton of adults, men especially, in an adult only bar. Why in the name of Raava would this young girl drag Aang here? His answer came around when he saw a familiar face at one of the tables, arm wrestling. Turns out, June's here too, and in the arm wrestling match with a stronger man. Aang turned to Toph, whom smirked and started walking to her.
"Oh Raava, help me," Aang thought, before being yanked again into the crowd. June soon saw her little partner during the match, and it wasn't until now that Aang seen how much struggle the guy actually was having against her.
"Hey there, Toph, Good to see you," June said, literally seconds before slamming the guy's hand into the table! Aang felt a shiver go through his body as he heard the man yell in pain, gripping his hand shortly after June got even more money from bids by the other participants. All Aang really could do, is gulp in fear.
"Sorry to be late," Toph joked. June immediately noticed Aang soon after seeing Toph.
"Who're your friend there? Little boyfriend?"
"Oh him? He couldn't keep his eyes off me," Toph joked, giving another small yank on Aang's chain.
"Very funny, can you let me go now?" Aang asked, before June directed his attention again to her, lifting his chin so he's eye to eye with her.
"I remember you now. You're that brat who came by the jailhouse earlier, and now you're following my friend around? bit nosy aren't we?" June smirked. Aang simply sighed, but before that got any further, Toph gave June a tap on the shoulder, as if some sort of reminder. Then June seemed to remembered something, and let go of Aang.
"Right right, thank you, Toph. Well kid, we gotta get moving."
"Okay, great! FANTASTIC! Now if you two lovely ladies please-"
"Aww, how cute, twinkle toes. You do like me," Toph mocked, giving a kiss on the cheek. This caused an uproar of laughter at the nomad, which made him VERY angry. A few things can set Aang off, and this was one of those things! Aang knocked Toph to get away from her.
"Okay, that's it! I've had enough of this embarrassment!"
"Calm down, twinkle toes, I just-"
"NO! SHUT UP, TOPH! I don't care what ideas you got in that head of yours, THIS nomad ain't taking anymore of your mockery!!" Aang was starting to lose it now, his anger blinding him to what he was doing.
"Okay, now you're starting to bug me. Knock it off or I'll-"
"Or what, brat?! WHAT?!" Now Toph was starting to get edgy, as she marched right up to the loudmouth, June and the other audience watching.
"You better watch you're mouth, runt! And I didn't HAVE to drag you in, why'd you follow me, anyway?!"
"I was curious, okay?! YOU DIDN'T NEED TO KIDNAP ME!!"
"And YOU didn't need to follow me!!" Toph screeched, finally knocking Aang back into the wall with an Earthbending pillar...that did it. Aang's fall forced off his disguise, now his arrow for all to see! It was too late when Aang realized it, but his anger was already through the roof...his rage was blinding him, and his eyes and arrow suddenly shined!
"What? The?" June quickly got Toph out of the way before Aang could blast them both, as the people in the bar started to panic! Aang rose up in an air orb, as that alone destroyed most of the inside!
Meanwhile, Momo was flying frantic through the town, and only then did he find the Beifong estate. Momo bolted into the home like lightning, and began flying around, trying to find the team. However, Sokka was already up at that point...and it didn't take long for Momo to fly into him.
"AAHH! Get off, get off!!" Sokka rushed around until he ran into the wall, of course, being in front of the guest room. It didn't take long before Katara came out.
"Sokka, what's with you?" Katara yawned. It was FAR too late for anyone to be up, but Momo was in such a craze, it was impossible to ignore. Momo went as far as to grab arm with his prehensile tail, and pull her along until they'd got to Toph's room.
"What's your deal, Momo?" Sokka asked, more wide awake than Katara. Momo tried getting Toph's door to open, but eventually Katara got it open for him...it didn't take very long before saw Toph gone! Momo flew over to the window, trying to direct their attention.
"Sokka? Get the others up."
Meanwhile, Toph and June began having their own danger back with Aang, whom isn't in control! His glowing state made him an ultimate force of air and water bending, as he relentlessly tried to attack Toph for whatever reason, which was forgotten in the tussle. Toph tried time and time again to hit Aang, but each time either resulted in a dodge or a repel as water blasts and air currents were shot back at her!
"What the heck, man?! Look, I'm sorry, okay?! Now you can go back to normal now!" Toph yelled. But, Aang was far gone by that point, as his rage filled him up and removed whatever common sense he had left. June could only watch as her partner was being chased around. Toph, too stubborn to quit, stood her ground. The rest of the team, along with Toph's parents, whom awoke from the emergency, rushed down to the Gaoling streets. Almost immediately, they saw June.
"What's going on?" Katara asked, urgent.
"And what happened to Aang?!" Added Ty Lee.
"I don't know! He was yelling, and she was yelling, and-"
"Who's she?" Lao said, cutting June off. Toph, only now noticing her parents here, turned to them in utter shock, giving Aang a chance to knock her back, HARD! The whole group looked up at Aang, floating in his orb, his symbols still glowing.
"Toph?" Poppy asked, staring down at her. Toph didn't have time to explain, Aang was on a rampage, and it was all on her! Aang loomed overhead, scaring Poppy and Lao, while Toph was more shocked than worried. But suddenly, Katara ended up between Toph and Aang.
"Aang! Stop! It's not worth it!" Katara yelled, again, not getting through to him as Aang was getting ready to attack again.
"Aang, please! It's me, Katara! I know you can hear me in there!" Still nothing, and the rest of the group couldn't stand it.
"Katara, move!" Sokka yelled.
"You'll get hurt!" Added Haru.
"Trust me, I'll handle it," Katara said, as Aang was starting to fully charge up. Katara had to think of something to get Aang back, but what?..then she got an idea, but, that idea had to come quick, because Aang began to charge in at them! Katara stopped him, hugging him tightly as they all just stared, unsure what'll happen. Aang struggled to pass, his face full of rage, but Katara didn't let go...
- hush, my poor child.
- my words are true.
- I will be here.
- Always with you.
A song. Katara, in the faces of danger, is singing her lullaby towards enraged Aang...and it seems to work! It took a little bit for it to sink in, but those words seemed to finally reach Aang, as his glowing finally dimmed, and he calmed down. However, Aang was then unable to remain awake, as Katara gently laid him down...Aang was knocked out.
It had felt like forever, but eventually, Aang did wake up. He found himself a bit far off from any exact place, so it seemed. Aang lifted himself up, not knowing what the heck happened the night prior. It didn't take very much time before he saw some sort of familiar face standing in front of him. The only one with him was June, a bit odd.
"You good now, kid?"
"What happened? Where am I?" June seemed to sigh in disappointment, which again, confused the nomad.
"Kid, Aang, is it? I wanted to know the same thing soon after you started glowin'."
"Yeah, you started glowing and went psycho on Toph back there. And before you ask, your friends are waiting for ya," June explained. Aang, still confused, managed to find his own feet, and stood up. His first thought was finding the others, although he didn't have a clue on what to do.
"They're at the Beifong estate, good luck," June added, as Aang began walking away.
As June said, his friends, indeed, were at the Beifong estate still. At that point though, Toph was completely confronted by her parents, and was facing away from them, facing outside towards the morning sun.
"Toph Beifong, what do you have to say for yourself? We've told you to not go with anyone like June, and look where it got you!" Lao scolded, although Toph, apparently, didn't listen.
"How long was this going on, sweetheart?" Poppy asked. Again, Toph was silent, but eventually sighed.
"A long time...it was my...little secret."
"What? Toph Beifong, I can't believe you! You have such a good life and you ditch it to run around with some barbarian!"
"First thing: June is a bounty hunter. Second thing: my life is completely boring!"
"Sweetheart, you're safe here. You've been given whatever you want, what's wrong?"
"My freedom's what's wrong! Sure, I've been given everything, but I'm old enough to take care of myself!"
"Stop it! There's a war going on right now, can't you understand that?!"
"Oh, I understand alright, a war I should fight for!"
"What?! Sweetheart, you'll get yourself killed, you can't -"
"Can't what?! And stop calling me "sweetheart! I'm no sweetheart, and you know it," Toph snapped. Now Lao confronted her.
"Toph, you're our only child. You're blind, and we can't lose you."
"And why not? So what if I can't see a thing in front of me, I don't NEED my eyes to fight! And I don't need them to see how pathetic you two are being."
"You're talking crazy! You can't fight in this war, and that's final!" There was silence for a while, each side trying to think on what else to say. Toph wanted to just kill them, get it done, but she's not stupid. She placed a hand over her eyes in annoyance.
"What do I have to do to convince you idiots?!"
"Toph enough! We can't lose you, You mean the world to us," Poppy said, trying to calm Toph down, but it wasn't working. Toph herself, was trying to decide what to do...then came her conclusion. She walked pass her parents, determination marked on her face.
"I'm going to fight in this war...and you can't stop me!" Before Lao or Poppy can stop her, she bended a huge earth wall, sealing the door. Toph made her decision, and she's staying with it, no matter what.
The team was in the next room, awaiting for Aang to come back, when Toph practically stormed on in, to the groups surprise.
"K guys, let's get it outta the way, let's go."
"Go? But what about Aang?" Haru asked.
"He'll be fine, now let us just-"
"Us? What are you talking about, don't you live here?"
"Nope, I'm leaving!" Toph announced, getting a fare shock out of everyone. Toph, although blind, can tell what a basic gasp can be. But Ty Lee, being well "Ty Lee" was all giddy over it.
"Leaving with us?" Ty Lee beamed.
"Hm...not what I had in mind, but heck, I'm game." The gang didn't even had time to acknowledge anything until Ty Lee said, "Welcome, recruit!"
"WHOA, Ty Lee, hold on! You sure about this?" Katara said.
"Totally! She's awesome, and a tough 1-2 fighter!" Ty Lee beamed.
"Not to mention, tough," added Toph.
"Ty Lee, we've just met her!" Sokka protested.
"...what's your point?" Obviously, Ty Lee's got her mind set, and her team couldn't convince her otherwise.
"You sure now?" Haru asked. Ty Lee nodded her answer with a big grin. The group looked over to Toph, whom was pretty chill for the idea of being on a new team, and tried to think it over.
"Well, can't we wait until Aang gets back to decide?" Katara asked.
"He'll be here in just a bit," Toph suddenly said. As if on cue, Aang, after some time, had found his way back to the team. He didn't took kindly to Toph though, given the events the night prior.
"Aang, you okay?" Katara gasped, soon after she saw him. Aang leaned against the wall, next to the door, tired.
"I'm not sure...someone tell me what's going on," Aang said, trying to deal with his trauma. But before anyone can properly say it, Ty Lee immediately announced "Welcome our new recruit!" Aang was speechless.
"Your pal here wants me to come, thoughts?" Toph informed. Of course, Aang wasn't too sure, especially given the fact Toph kidnapped him, made fun of him, and made him look like an idiot.
"No, absolutely not."
"Aww, why?!" Ty Lee whined.
"You kidding? Do you have any idea what I've been through with her?! No way."
"Come on, Aang, please? She can be a good edition for the team."
"We already got a earthbender you know!"
"One that can give the Avatar a run for his money? Besides, she said she knows a great teacher, remember?" Aang seemed to just remember now, Toph did say that, but is that the excuse for her to come along? Aang simply sighed, and looked to a smirking Toph Beifong.
"Okay Toph, where is that master you told us about?" Toph had planned that, as much.
"Hm...well, I can easily take you there."
"NO! And where's there?"
"Ba Sing Se, obviously, last word said the master was found there, planning to serve the king," Toph explained, a bit nonchalantly.
"Thank you, Toph, now let's-"
"Hold on, you even know where Ba Sing Se is?" Toph pointed out.
"Course we know! We got Sokka, our navigator, and a flying bison to get us there!"
"Okay, smart guy. Where's Ba Sing Se?" There was a pause for a while, but Ty Lee broke it up with her answer.
"That's easy! Just head east, through the sand bender settlement, and it's just a day trip to the walls of Ba Sing Se." The silence became completely awkward at that point.
"...how did you know?" Haru eventually asked.
"I performed in Ba Sing Se while I was with my circus once."
"Oh. Well, now we know the way, let's go," Aang decided. But Ty Lee blocked the door.
"What about Toph?"
"Ty Lee, we know the way, and we -"
"But do you know who to look for? Ba Sing Se is a big place, and it'll take you forever to know who you're looking for," Toph interrupted. Aang was on the ropes now, it would be easier for them if she'd come, at least that'll spare the trouble it'll take in finding the master. As if then, Aang didn't have a choice.
"...oh, alright, but what about your parents?"
"Eh, they're cool with it."
"They are?" Toph gave Aang an assured look. Whelp, that clenches it for them. New recruit, no matter what.
The team began to leave then, not noticing the parents at all, but they had to go, to get to Ba Sing Se. Toph was the last to get out, but she was the only one to turn back to the estate. She knew her parents didn't want her to, but it's what she had in mind, and she could easily imagine their shocked faces as she walked out that door. Toph's path was set, and she gave a smirk before she left.
For the collective works of the author, go here.