such_heights: toph and katara smiling (avatar: toph & katara)
Amy ([personal profile] such_heights) wrote2010-07-30 08:28 am

FIC: New Directions (A:TLA, Toph, Suki, Katara)

New Directions
Avatar: The Last Airbender ; Toph, Suki, Katara ; 1100 words ; PG ; no warnings ; for [livejournal.com profile] femgenficathon ; beta'd by [personal profile] glass_icarus ; spoilers for the finale ; also at the AO3
They could do anything, after the war.

Toph doesn't go home after the war. Katara doesn't outright say that she ought to, but Toph can tell that's what she's thinking - pointed silences after she talks about how much she's looking forward to seeing her grandmother again, vague questions about what Toph wants to do next.

The thing is, Toph does want to go back to her parents again. She has idle fantasies of them showing up out of nowhere, full of joy to see her, and telling her how proud they are, how brave she's been. But after the war, days pass, then weeks, and there's no sign of them, not even a reply to that messenger hawk she sent.

She starts to worry that something terrible has happened - who knows what the Fire Nation could have done? Zuko reassures her that the army had no interest in Gaoling, that they never made it that far. She believes him, just about, but the thought lingers.

Toph knows, deep down, that she's strong enough and smart enough that no one can ever put her in a cage again, not even her parents, but it's hard to shake the sense of fear she feels every time she thinks about going home, with the possibility she might never be able to leave again.

She's travelled so far and done so many things that home seems like little more than a distant memory, sometimes. She remembers the smell of her mother's perfume, the rich sound of her father's laugh, and the way their movements always felt slow and steady under her feet. She used to think she'd drown in their rigid ways, but now the memories fill her with a longing she doesn't know what to do with.

Toph being Toph, she shakes it from her mind and goes to duck an unsuspecting Katara into a lake.

*

Suki stands in front of the mirror, studying the paint on her face, the lines and colours a familiar badge of honour. She's proud of her heritage, the mantle she took from her mother and the battles she's shared with her sister warriors, but she's not sure she recognises herself underneath the painted mask any more. She's done so much, and proved herself as a warrior a hundred times over, but now the world has changed and there may be no more battles left to fight. What place is there for a Kyoshi Warrior when a hundred years of war have finally turned to peace?

She thinks she might like to teach, to help pass on the traditions she learned at her mother's knee, which still have value even if their purpose no longer exists. The people of Kyoshi Island should never forget the war, and never forget the soldiers that never came home.

She can hear her sisters in arms outside, talking excitedly with Ty Lee as she tells them stories of the circus, and Suki knows she wouldn't give up their friendship for the world. She thinks she might want to give up her arms, though.

She wipes her face, colours coming off in her hands until she finds herself underneath them - older, changed, but still Suki. She smiles, and feels something begin to shift her. Change is hard, but sometimes it's necessary, and the swell of new possibilities feels good.

*

Afterwards, Katara and Sokka both cling to their father like limpets, and he doesn't seem to mind. They receive word that Gran Gran is coming up to see them, and when she arrives Katara feels like her heart is going to burst as her family reunites. As her grandmother wraps her arms around them, Katara clasps her necklace and thinks about her mother. She misses her desperately, always, but today it feels like a more quiet kind of grief, the ache in her heart easier to carry.

She has no idea what comes next. She wants to go home; she wants to help Aang; she wants to see the world. She knows she's at a crossroads, and she feels pulled this way and that. Her village needs her, her family needs her, but she knows that other people do too, and somehow she has to pick one place to be in at a time.

She meets Sokka's eye and knows he's facing the same questions. She wonders what he'll choose, and wonders how soon it will be before they finally begin to go their separate ways.

*

They're outside the Jasmine Dragon one afternoon when Toph asks the question the three of them have all danced around.

"So what now?"

"Home," says Suki. "Home, but maybe not yet."

Toph's glad to hear she's not the only one who's putting off her return. "I don't want to go back to just being a little girl again," she says. "My parents never really understood me, and it's not like they're going to start now."

"You don't know that," says Katara. "If they knew everything you'd done, I'm sure they'd be proud."

"Yeah," Toph says doubtfully. "Maybe. What are you going to do?"

"I --" Katara pauses, and then as she speaks it's as though she's figuring it out as she goes. "I think that the world isn't quite saved, not yet. People are hurt, families are separated, villages are destroyed. I think I can help - we all can. I can heal, and Suki, you've travelled all over the Earth Kingdom and the people respect you. Toph, you can bend earth and metal, you could do anything. We don't have to be the Avatar or the Fire Lord to make a difference."

Toph has to fight back a smile, because Katara really does have a knack for speechifying. But she also can't deny the joy that catches in her throat, the thought that maybe she doesn't have to give up another family, and in so doing give up herself.

"Maybe the world still needs us," Suki says, and Toph can hear the grin in her voice.

There's an indignant yelp from inside the tea shop, and Katara smacks a palm to her forehead.

"Looks like the new Fire Lord just spilled tea all over Sokka," Suki drawls, amused.

"So the boys would probably just slow us down," Toph says, and then they're laughing, quiet at first, then peals of laughter that have Aang rushing outside to find out what the joke was.

Toph sits in the shadow of a firebender-run tea shop in Ba Sing Se, in a time of peace, and the world is full of wonders and she has a family, and there is nothing she can't do, and no cages anywhere.
gloss: (Katara: fierce)

[personal profile] gloss 2010-07-30 03:41 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh, this is wonderful! So immersed in the world, so generous and knowledgeable with the characters (especially Toph ♥!), so insightful, and the style's just right, simple-but-not-simplistic and very, very evocative.
cofax7: Toph smiling (ATLA - Toph)

[personal profile] cofax7 2010-07-30 04:17 pm (UTC)(link)
Oh, I love this. Not least because you spent some time on Suki, whom I like, but whom the show didn't really give an arc. She must have changed as much as everyone else, just offscreen while we weren't looking.

And I love the different ways Toph and Katara think of their families.
glass_icarus: (avatar: aang momo grinny)

[personal profile] glass_icarus 2010-07-30 04:19 pm (UTC)(link)
:D :D :D :D :D &hearts!

(also now you have me wanting to write Ba Sing Se fic, curses- as if Azula wasn't enough! *g*)

[personal profile] chagrined 2010-07-30 05:48 pm (UTC)(link)
:) I LOVE TOPH'S BEST
yasaman: Uncle Iroh from Avatar the Last Airbender animated series smiling with a tea cup in his hand (Iroh with tea)

[personal profile] yasaman 2010-07-30 07:31 pm (UTC)(link)
Awww, this is lovely. Toph's section is my favorite: it sounds so perfectly Toph. I'd totally read/watch the adventures of Suki, Toph, and Katara!
jibrailis: (avatar -- katara)

[personal profile] jibrailis 2010-07-30 07:54 pm (UTC)(link)
This is so beautiful and the idea of home (and maybe not going home) makes me want to bawl into my sleeve.
gorgeousnerd: The back of Korra from the <i>Avatar: The Legend of Korra</i> preview image. (Korra.)

[personal profile] gorgeousnerd 2010-07-30 11:56 pm (UTC)(link)
Heh, I've always been so sure that Zuko went to find his mom (even with that whole running the Fire Nation thing) that I didn't really consider what would happen if they didn't. Especially with Suki, who I felt kinda existed to be Sokka's love interest and not to be a character of her own. Thanks for making me reevaluate, and for the great story!
ursamajor: people on the beach watching the ocean (Default)

[personal profile] ursamajor 2010-07-31 01:39 am (UTC)(link)
Here via [personal profile] glass_icarus, and this is joyous and hopeful and excellent.

(The idea of the three of them reminds me of everything I'd hoped for out of the three ladies of FFX-2; may they fare far better. >_>)
chaila: Diana SWORDFIGHTING in a BALLGOWN. (misc - world map)

[personal profile] chaila 2010-07-31 01:46 am (UTC)(link)
Oh lovely. (Somehow I visited my 8-year-old niece and watched some of this show and suddenly have now seen almost all of it!) I love the different ways they see the different kinds of families they came from, but that none of them can go back, exactly, and that they all choose to stay with the new one awhile longer. And the last line made me want to cry just a little.
were_duck: Ellen Ripley from Alien looking pensively to the right in her space helmet (Toph is laughing at you!)

[personal profile] were_duck 2010-07-31 02:18 am (UTC)(link)
This is so lovely, I appreciate the way you get into that moment of choice for each of them, that they each come at it in their own way and make the choices that work for them. Also I love that the boys aren't deciding factors! And your Toph is excellent--the boys *would* slow them down for sure!
lady_ganesh: Toph laughing her ass off (hahahahah (Avatar))

[personal profile] lady_ganesh 2010-07-31 03:57 am (UTC)(link)
The boys would totally slow them down. I WANT TO SEE THEM RUNNING AROUND HAVING ADVENTURES TOGETHER, OMG. This is just great!
sholio: Katara from Avatar waterbending (Avatar-Katara waterbend)

[personal profile] sholio 2010-07-31 06:11 am (UTC)(link)
Oh, I love this! :D You've got them down so well.
eruthros: Kataraa from Avatar: TLA fighting with water (Avatar - katara fighting)

[personal profile] eruthros 2010-07-31 10:50 pm (UTC)(link)
This is so wonderful! I love their choices and the hopeful adventure-y future.
thingswithwings: toph making a snowangel in the earth (atla - toph making an earthangel)

[personal profile] thingswithwings 2010-08-02 12:11 pm (UTC)(link)
ohhhh, this is beautiful! I adore the idea o the three of them going off to have adventures together and help with rebuilding and healing; that's lovely. And Toph's pov is just perfect - I love how she's rolling her eyes at Katara's speechifying even while she's affected by it.
kristin: (Default)

[personal profile] kristin 2010-08-02 10:14 pm (UTC)(link)
I love this. Your Tosh voice is awesome.
laurus_nobilis: (Books and nerdiness)

[personal profile] laurus_nobilis 2010-08-03 12:38 pm (UTC)(link)
This is wonderful! :) And, like everyone said, I love that they still go on to have adventures and everything.
jlsigman: (Default)

[personal profile] jlsigman 2010-08-03 01:06 pm (UTC)(link)
Love this so very very much. :-)
havocthecat: katara is the painted lady (atla katara painted lady)

[personal profile] havocthecat 2010-08-03 01:28 pm (UTC)(link)
This is just beautiful, and I think it's just what the girls need to do together. Thank you for writing this and sharing it with us.
emme: they only want to help (Default)

[personal profile] emme 2010-08-18 12:11 am (UTC)(link)
I love this so much. The voices for all three of them are just *perfect*, and I'm adopting this in the belief that it's what really happened after finale. :)

"So the boys would probably just slow us down," Toph says, and then they're laughing, quiet at first, then peals of laughter that have Aang rushing outside to find out what the joke was.

Well, yes. ;) Such a great moment, and I love that Suki got some of her own space here too. <3

[identity profile] sour-idealist.livejournal.com 2010-11-06 10:28 pm (UTC)(link)
All of this just makes my heart absolutely sing. It has this wonderful uplifting, euphoric sense to it, in spite of the sections of bitterness. It's hard, but they're all going to make it through and come out on top, and they and the world are all going to be all right. And this, it really makes it sink. It's hard-hitting in a beautifully happy way.
umadoshi: umadoshi kanji (Avatar - Katara and Sokka (hundredsquare)

[personal profile] umadoshi 2010-11-22 03:51 pm (UTC)(link)
Avatar girls FTW! This was wonderful, especially at the end.
parallactic: (weapons of mass cuddliness)

[personal profile] parallactic 2011-08-13 12:11 am (UTC)(link)
This is the fic that I never knew that I've always wanted to read. I ♥ endings where the girl gets to still go on adventures when the story's over, so to have all of the girls go adventuring together is perfect. It's not even like they're skiving off, since the boys have the rebuilding nations and unity thing well in hand. :)