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Written for LavenderGazelle
18th June, 2013
Sighing tiredly, Kyoshi finished straightening the stack of papers on her desk. She turned to the door, although a reflection of light caught her attention. Moving closer to the fans placed carefully on their stand, she took a moment to wipe a spot of dust from one corner. She remembered the day she was given them; they had been her mother's fans, and a symbol of her home and family. After travelling the world, seeing new things as a young teenager desperate to show her indepencence, she couldn't return to her island home; however, big cities just didn't do it for her. Taking up residence in the moderately-sized merchant town of Gaoling, and working her way up the ranks of the local police force to the position of Avatar, suited her just fine. The fans were a testament to her skill and drive, even if they didn't look like it; for Kyoshi, the softest footfall in the right spot could change the course of history. Her fans were, to her, that footfall. Finally content with the state of the instruments, she flicked off the lights and stepped into the squad room, closing the office door behind her. Almost immediately, Kyoshi regretted spending the few extra minutes in her office as a second person entered the light of the single bulb illuminating the room.
"Avatar Kyoshi!" a voice called as they saw her attempting to sneak away. Kyoshi could only sigh at her bad luck.
"What is it, Officer Suki?" she asked, the irritation already evident in her voice. Suki made her way towards her boss, dragging a small figure behind her.
"This squirt was loitering behind the Earth Rumble Inc. warehouse."
"Hey!" a high-pitched voice called out. The ridiculously tall Avatar looked down at the obscenely short girl who had cried out in indignation. She was perhaps five-foot-two (give or take three inches) with charcoal bangs that covered half her face; what Kyoshi could see of it was pallid skin and a sharp jaw. Despite her height, she couldn't have been any younger than sixteen. The longer Kyoshi looked at her, the less sure she became. The girl had a sophisticated aura and seemed extremely confident, holding herself better than any mid-teen Kyoshi had caught—then again, they had also been scared shitless of punishment. This flat-chested girl apparently was too cool to be afraid, which irritated Kyoshi to no end. Generally, her height and status was enough to have people cowering in the corner, but this girl was annoyingly unfazed.
"What, Shortstuff? You get caught, you get subjected to me. And you've already succeeded in pissing me off." Ignoring the girl's sputtering, Kyoshi turned to Suki. "Thank you, Suki. You're free to go—I know you have that anniversary dinner. I'll deal with her," she said, nodding at the girl; she had fallen silent with an angry glare, refusing to look at the two older women.
With an amused expression, crossed with something similar to disbelief, Suki saluted her captain and collected her stuff. As she passed Kyoshi on her way out, she muttered, "Careful, she's a handful," to her boss. Glaring at the girl, Kyoshi stepped away from her and began moving back to her office.
"Come on," she said exasperatedly. She had better stuff to deal with at home—instead she was stuck on babysitting duty until the girl's parents could be located. Peering behind her, she noted the short girl hadn't moved a step, and was staring defiantly in the other direction.
"Hurry up! I don't have all night. I had plans too, you know," growled Kyoshi, but still the girl didn't move. The same insolent sneer remained on her face, but Kyoshi noted how she wilted slightly as the Avatar moved back towards her.
"What's your problem? Afraid of the dark?" she asked, finally eliciting a reaction from her charge. The girl laughed loudly, a hard edge to her smile.
"You don't know the meaning of the word," she spat, crossing her arms. Fed up with the short girl who was wasting her time, Kyoshi grabbed her by the upper arm and dragged her harshly to her office.
She wasn't expecting her to walk straight into the doorframe, banging her forehead and shoulder into the wood.
"Agh, what the fuck?!" the girl cried, lifting one hand to her head while the other rubbed tenderly at her shoulder. "Is that what you do here, bang people into- what the fuck did I hit anyway?" Kyoshi raised an eyebrow at her reaction, but before she could speak, the minor continued her tirade.
"Oh, look. I'm the Avatar, I'm going to pull girls into walls!" she mocked, pressing her fingertips to the top of her head. From the sound she had made when hitting the frame, it was likely a bruise would develop; Kyoshi couldn't find it in herself to care at that moment.
Groaning loudly, she took a hold of the girl's shoulders and steered her into the small office, making sure not to hit her on anything else; she didn't need to give the girl any more reason to complain. Pushing her roughly into a plush chair, Kyoshi pulled her own closer.
"Let's get this over and done with, shall we? Then you can go home, and I can go home, and go on living our lives as though we hadn't wasted each other's time. Sound fair?"
Not expecting a reply, Kyoshi was unfazed when the girl ignored her. Wheeling her chair over to a filing cabinet, Kyoshi spent several moments rifling through it before she pulled a single sheet of paper from the depths. Grabbing a pen from the remarkably tidy desk, Kyoshi placed them on the desk in front of the girl.
"Okay. Write your name and details in the spaces, and tell me why you were hanging around in that part of town," she recited, leaning back on her chair and closing her eyes.
Ten minutes! Ten minutes earlier and she wouldn't have had to deal with this shit. Not that she had actually had any plans, but she still didn't want to spend her Friday night looking after a stupid teenager. Cracking her eye open, Kyoshi noted that the girl hadn't even started writing. She was staring straight ahead, out into the dark streets of Gaoling through the window the office provided.
"Look, hurry up, kid," Kyoshi barked, and although it caused the girl to jump, she didn't tear her eyes away from the city lights.
"You'd get better results if you were nicer, you know." It was Kyoshi's turn to start; no one had ever spoken to her like that. Well, no one besides her mother, but that was besides the point. Without giving her a chance to interject, the girl continued. "It's not my fault I'm here, and it's not your fault you're here," she said. Pointing towards the desk, she added, "I can't fill that out, either."
Kyoshi refused to take entertain the girl further. It was late and she was tired, and she was definitely not equipped to look after snot-nosed little twerps. "Look, I'm not joking around. You had your fun," she growled, voice reaching dangerous levels. "Now you've been caught and you have to deal with the consequences." Picking up the pen, she all but shoved it into the girls fingers. They wrapped around the small instrument much like a toddler would hold it. There was silence for a few breaths when the girl opened her mouth.
"Wha- what? Tough? You're walking a thin line-"
"My name is Toph," she interrupted, and for once Kyoshi wasn't angry. She was too surprised to be upset at the interruption. "You would have found that out earlier if you had just asked, you know," the girl named Toph continued nonchalantly.
"Toph who?" Just because it was an uncommon name didn't mean Kyoshi didn't need her family name to go with it.
The girl reached inside her bra, slowly pulling out a stick of gum. "Just Toph," she replied, popping the gum into her mouth and chewing on it slowly.
"Well, Just Toph, seeing as how you do know your name, you can fill out this form and go home."
The girl cocked her head, before shaking it. "Sorry, Cap'n. No can do," she said, blowing a bubble that promptly burst all over her mouth. Seemingly oblivious as to how gross it looked, Toph used her fingers to peel it away before sticking it back in her mouth.
Throwing herself backwards, ignoring the sight, Kyoshi placed her forearm over her head as though to blot out the world. "Can't do what?" she grumbled.
"Fill out the form."
With a strangled noise, Kyoshi asked the most obvious question: "Why not?" The irritation in her voice was barely concealed.
Toph frowned thoughtfully, before crying out suddenly, "See, that's why I like you! You actually asked me." With that, she turned her head in Kyoshi's direction and slipped her hand under the charcoal tresses, lifting them from her face. This gave Kyoshi a perfectly unobscured view of the light green irises staring rather awkwardly at her left breast. It was rather creepy, if she had to say so.
Kyoshi didn't speak for several moments, instead piecing together all the information she had gathered about the girl. She was angry that she hadn't seen it earlier.
"You're blind?" she asked, a note of disbelief in her tone that, try as she might, she couldn't cover. A heavy silence fell over them, until finally Kyoshi spoke. "...I'm not going to apologise," she said, and for some reason Toph smiled.
"Good. I wouldn't accept it anyway," she shrugged with a smirk. It was as though the strained atmosphere that the duo had found themselves in suddenly dropped away, leaving two hot-headed people with nothing to be hot-headed about. Clearing her throat, Kyoshi had the strange desire to get to know the girl. Well, it was her civic duty to help her fill out the form, being that they were the only two there. Yes, that's right, she thought. Duty.
"How old are you?"
Toph raised her eyebrow, the smirk fading. "That better be on the sheet," she said, adding, "I'm sixteen. My birthday is the 9th of August and I'm not telling you my social security number."
Kyoshi levered the pen from Toph's grasp, pulling the form closer as she wrote down the information; she didn't actually need Toph's number, she noted. "Okay, but I need your home address."
At this, Toph stiffened, scrunching up her mouth in distaste. "I don't have a home," she mumbled, looking away. Kyoshi raised an eyebrow, not believing a word of it. For the time being, though, it was unimportant.
"Hmmm," she vocalised, letting it slide. She'd force it out of the girl later, one way or another. "Now, what were you doing at the Earth Rumble Incorporated warehouse?"
Toph sighed. She didn't particularly want to share, but keeping everything a secret hadn't exactly worked out for her thus far. Honestly, she no longer really cared who knew.
"I was waiting for a friend. I... I do something at the warehouse every few months, and my friend was going to come and pick me up afterwards... only he didn't..." She grimaced a little, already anticipating the next question. Kyoshi didn't disappoint.
"What do you do there?"
"... I fight... M-my parent's thought I was really weak, so they enrolled me in Master Yu's self-defence class. I sort of developed my own style, and I wanted to prove I wasn't helpless, so when I heard people around school talking about a fight going on there, I snuck into it..."
Kyoshi was speechless. Taking another look at the slight girl, she could discern a few bruises, although not nearly enough to suggest she had been in a brawl.
"But, you're blind!"
Toph snorted. "No shit, Sherlock."
"But how did you do it? You aren't going to tell me you use echo-location, or anything like that, are you?" Kyoshi didn't even realise that her usually professional disposition had completely dropped; she likely wouldn't have cared at that point, either.
The blind girl shook her head. "No. They never use all their strength at first, so all I have to do is get in some well-placed shots. I wait until they're close enough to hear, or they hit me, and I retaliate. I use speed to win, not power. Plus, they dance around a lot and waste their energy; they're only kids, really. It's not hard to beat them if you know how."
Kyoshi looked at the young girl—no, teenager—with a new level of respect. And complete disbelief at her idiocy.
"You have to be one of the stupidest people I've ever spoken to," she said, shaking her head. "You think fighting in an underground tournament—an illegal underground tournament—is going to make your family think you aren't helpless? They're just going to think you're a moron for putting your life on the line!" Kyoshi had long since stopped lamenting over her lost Friday night. This girl was... interesting, to say the least, and she found it surprising that she had never heard of her before. Wait... "You aren't the Blind Bandit, are you?" she asked, frowning deeply. The girl nodded, and Kyoshi let out a sound that was part sigh, part growl.
"You better not tell anyone," Toph threatened, leaning forward and glaring into Kyoshi's chest with fierce determination flickering in her light irises. Kyoshi let out a humourless snort.
"Or what, Shortstuff? Are you really threatening the Avatar?" Just like that, Kyoshi's bad mood came back. "Because that's a stupid thing to do. You realise that street fights are illegal? I could lock you up and no-one would complain—except maybe your parents."
"How do you even know who I am?!" Toph cried indignantly. "I'm not a criminal!"
"And how do I know that you are who you say you are? You could be just a street rat—it would explain why you were hanging around that warehouse, dressed in... that..." Kyoshi's eyes flickered over the girls clothes. Her shirt was dirty yellow and green, and there were several rips and tears that the girl mustn't have noticed. She was barefoot and her green pants had several darker stains that Kyoshi supposed were blood. "It would explain why you don't have a home," she added.
Toph bristled at her last few words, and Kyoshi smirked victoriously as she watched the indecision cross Toph's young face. "It's not- it's not like I wanted to be there any longer; my friend was late!"
"Ahh," Kyoshi drawled, "your mysterious friend. The nameless one. Does he exist?"
Toph bristled at the accusation. "I'm not lying, and I'm not making him up!"
"Please," Kyoshi said. "Why were you waiting out there? It wasn't for a friend—you're far too independent for that. Or at least, you try to be. You were doing something else," Kyoshi accused, and Toph wilted somewhat at her tone.
"I was waiting for someone," she said again, although her voice had lost a considerable amount of volume. "I couldn't leave, I was waiting for someone."
"And so you just decided to come with us when my officer picked you up. You had no way of knowing who she was. What are you hiding?" Kyoshi pressed, watching the girl intently for any change of reaction.
"Well, she got there first..." Toph said quietly, although her eyes were burning.
Toph sighed angrily, fluffing her bangs out with her breath. "I don't know! Okay?! I lost my cane and I couldn't find my way. I was waiting for anyone. Happy now? I guess you're right, I'm an idiot and a moron and I should just be locked away like usual so I don't hurt myself."
Kyoshi's eyebrows raised in surprise, before the eyes beneath them narrowed. Toph had leaned back in her chair by this stage, grinding the palms of her hands into her eyes. Kyoshi looked away, almost embarrassed at the girl's reaction, although looking back at Toph when the teenager moved her hands away, Kyoshi found her eyes to be unclouded.
"... When you say 'locked away like usual', what do you mean?" Kyoshi asked quietly after a few minutes of tense silence, her tone telling Toph that she wouldn't accept any half-hearted excuses this time. Toph was too tired to even bother.
The blind girl took several breaths before fixing Kysohi with a look. Not a particular one, but just a look. "Have you ever seen me around? Or heard my name?"
Kyoshi snorted. "You aren't that special. This is a big town."
"Huh. Well, perhaps you recognise the name Beifong?"
Kyoshi's eyes didn't even widen. She merely sat there, fixing the girl with such a stare that she felt it on the back of her neck. Toph squirmed uncomfortably.
"No fucking way," the Avatar said finally. "They're the richest people in the region—I'd know if they had a daughter."
Toph spread her hands out in a half shrug. "See? Locked away. Why do you think I fight? I have to be better than them, sitting on their pompous asses all day... I- you're the first person I've ever really spoken to. I have maids and stuff, but they just ignore me. An' my parent's are really.... traditional. They like a kid to be seen and not heard," Toph explained quietly, uncomfortably, before adding in an undertone, "Jackasses."
"Look, Toph," Kyoshi said. She would have continued save for the massive and somewhat unnerving smile plastered on the girl's face. "Why are you smiling like that?"
"You used my name," she answered. Toph blushed slightly, but she was unable to force the grin away. "The maids call me 'Miss' and I don't see my parents much..." She didn't need to say anymore, but she did anyway. Perhaps to show just how much it meant to her. "It was... nice..."
Kyoshi couldn't help but smile momentarily. "Okay, Toph. I can't stop your parent's from doing that, because you are under their care." She saw how the girl's grin fell, and how her eyes darkened slightly. "I'm sure they just do it because they love you..." Even as she said it, Kyoshi couldn't hold back the grimace. Her parents had let her go traipsing around the world on her own at that age; it didn't mean they didn't love her. The Beifong's weren't doing Toph any favours. "That being said," she continued after a moment, "perhaps we could come to an arrangement. You would need to stop fighting, but I think I can get your parents to give you some space. After all, who better to teach you about the dangers of the world than the Avatar?"
Toph looked up curiously, a bemused frown on her face. "What do you mean?"
"I mean, you can come down to the station sometimes and I'll 'show you' the bad guys. After all, you're old enough to work here, and we need some more interrogators..." If she thought Toph's smile was big before, it was nothing compared to her face now. "You in?"
Toph cocked her head momentarily. "Fuck yes!" she cried, punching the air.
OUTTAKES!!! Mkay, so I randomly found a deleted scene, and thought I'd share it I can't actually remember why I took it out, but oh well. Enjoy!
|Click to read the deleted scene|
"Here," Kyoshi said, holding out the clipboard again. "Fill out this form, and you can go home. I won't even charge you, just stop wasting my time."
Toph narrowed her eyes. "Wow, are you the offspring of a snail-sloth and a barnacle-squid? Because you seem to be even stupider than you sound on the radio," she said. Her voice was even, but if Kyoshi hadn't felt so insulted she would have noticed the bitter edge. As it were, the constant disrespect and blatant ignorance of the tall woman only fuelled her anger.
"I swear to god, girl, you are pushing it. Just fill out the fucking questionnaire."
Toph let out a bitter laugh. "What part of 'I can't' don't you understand?"
"You know, if you actually looked at me, I would believe you..." Kyoshi retorted, the anger seeping into her voice. Good god, she would kill this kid in a minute.
"Jesus Christ, are you blind? I can't. Fuck! How thick are you?!"
Toph turned her head to glare at Kyoshi, and it was only then that the tall woman realised what was wrong. Toph was looking towards her, but her line of sight was skewed; she was rather awkwardly and uncomfortably—at least for Kyoshi—staring at her left breast. With an exasperated sigh, Toph slid her hair under her bangs and lifted them from her face. This gave Kyoshi a perfectly unobscured view of the light green irises. It was rather creepy, if she had to say so.
"... You have to be fucking with me..." Kyoshi finally said, earning herself another glare at her chest. "Is this why you're such a pain in the ass?"
"Pfft, as if. It was your trained ape who put me in a bad mood anyway. 'Look, a girl on the floor outside a warehouse. Let's take her in for questioning!' It would be nice if they actually treated me like a person, not a dog," Toph frowned.
Kyoshi sighed heavily, although her interest was piqued. "Why were you in the floor?" She heard Toph grind her teeth together.
"According to your trained apes, drinking. Who drinks alone in the middle of nowhere anyway?"
"Oh, so you were with friends?"
Toph lowered her head, covering her eyes with her hair before exhaling sharply. "I don't know. Are they my friends? No, I don't think they were."
"If you can give me a name..."
Kyoshi watched as Toph moved her jaw, as though chewing on her words. She had forgotten the time, intrigued as she was about the enigma sitting stolidly on her chair.
Oh, wait, I remember. I think it was because I didn't like the direction this was headed in... anyway, hope you liked it!
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