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What I Learned at SRU
Chapter 8 - The Family Name

- Friday, September 3rd, 2010 -

"So! Mr. Kurosawa."

Zuko sighed and drank from his tall ceramic tea mug, his black hair slicked to the side, combed neatly.

"So," he replied simply, avoiding the interviewer's gaze.

The excitable girl tapped her chin thoughtfully with her pen, notepad in hand. Her face was riddled with small bouts of acne with messy, thin bangs hanging across her forehead. Her brisly hair was bunched into a short, spiky tail at the base of her neck. She wore a pair of thin, rectangular glasses, curious pale brown eyes staring inquisitively at him.

"Tell me, Mr. Kurosawa: why should the Senior Class vote for you?"

Zuko gave the girl a smug smile and leaned back in his seat, fussing with his maroon tie. His thin face conveyed the sly network of gears rolling together in his head.

"Well, Ginny, I-"



"Call me Jin."

"A-all right, Jin." Zuko cleared his throat and shifted, now leaning forward across the table. "I know that a lot of the student body is going to assume that I'm trying to ride on my family name for this position, but I can assure them that it's the other way around: my family's reputation on this campus stems from our rigid work ethic. We seek responsibility because we handle it with pride and dedication. From the beginning, the Kurosawa family helped found this school as a haven for multiracial education."

"Mm-hm, mm-hm," Jin hummed quickly, scribbling her notes and checking her recorder to ensure it was on. "What about Ozai?" she dropped with nonchalance.

Zuko felt his intestines crawl with rage but contained them.

"What about him?"

"Well, he's...your father," Jin plainly pointed out, casually pointing the head of her pen at his slightly scowling face.

"In the sense that I happen to share some of his DNA, yes," Zuko specified forcefully.

"In light of recent events, don't you think his actions have tarnished the Kurosawa name?"

"The reputation I previously mentioned was within this campus," Zuko clarified. "The Kurosawa family has brought many good things to this school. My father is not related to this in any way."

"So you're admitting that what he did was wrong?"

"I am," Zuko coldly advised without skipping a beat before drinking more of his tea.

"So you think he's guilty of all the charges he went to trial for, then?"

"With all due respect, Miss Ackland," Zuko firmly came down, "we're not here to discuss irrelevant legal issues concerning the members of my family I do not associate with." He placed his elbows on the table and clasped his hands together. "Within the campus of Saint Roku University, the Kurosawa family has done nothing but good for its students and faculty." He nodded his head to the scattered wooden tables behind them, half filled with students. The coffee shop was buzzing with activity on this Friday afternoon. "The Jasmine Dragon, for example," he said, extending his palms up, "wouldn't exist, were it not for my uncle. And certain students - such as yourself - would not be hired under its employ."

Jin returned his passive-aggressive demeanor with a devilish smile, as if pleased to be put in her place and debated against.

"Very true, Mr. Kurosawa. Very true." She bit at her tongue as she jotted something else down. "Your sister Azula also played a very important role in the student government during her stay here."

"That's right," Zuko admitted with some reservation.

"Are you set to follow her example?"

"Not entirely."


"My sister was an effective politician here on campus - that much is true - but in her focus on the high-end issues she failed to grasp what's truly important about SRU - what makes it special."

"And that is...?"

"Its sense of community."

"I see." Jin's eyes lit up, burning into his retinas with interest. "What does this mean in the context of your campaign?"

"Saint Roku University was founded on the principle of diversity. No matter the race, country of origin, financial background, or previous school history, any student is considered for enrollment. Each of our four dorms represents a different way of life, and all are valid. It's when these different teachings come together that the brightest minds emerge." He gulped some more of his tea, wagging his index finger as he continued eagerly. "In this same regard, it's only when the different students of our campus join and interact that a true sense of community and belonging is achieved. If elected as Class President, I will ensure that, budget large or small, our campus will offer numerous opportunities for our students to join together in unity."

"What do you hope to achieve in doing so?"

"Ideally," Zuko began, nodding his to the side in concession, "I'd like to see this approach result in a student body that is bound together, that learns from itself in a way most schools do not facilitate. Understand: much of what a student learns during their college career is learned outside of the classroom. By ensuring that this time is more actively edifying, we ensure that our students are not only happier and conjoined but also more mature in so doing."

"Interesting," Jin said simply, the head of her pen digging into her chin. "Let's discuss your stance on some of the big issues here..."

Zuko rallied back and forth with the girl like an unrelenting, verbal game of ping-pong. When all was said and done, Zuko took his leave. He walked through the glass double doors and up the stairway entrance to the Jasmine Dragon coffee shop. The Jasmine Dragon was an oriental-themed drink parlor located within the basement of the Gyatso Center - an external stairwell trailed underground at a corner of the building, allowing for a shop that felt like its own entity in a sense.

It was Zuko's uncle, Iroh Kurosawa, a professor of Philosophy at SRU, who had invested in getting the Jasmine Dragon running and was its owner and CEO. An active member of the local community, it was commonplace to see Iroh with students at his shop at any time of the week, whether to assist with classwork or simply to get to know the student body.

Mai was waiting for Zuko at the entrance to the Gyatso Center, dressed in tall black boots, shorts, and a T-shirt printed with a neon green heart dripping with green goo.

"You're wearing boots," Zuko noticed with flat distaste.

"Deal with it," Mai replied with a facetious snark as she took his hand and led him down the sidewalk to the center of campus. "How did the game of 20 Questions go?"

Zuko sighed and loosened his tie.

"I told her what she needed to hear."

"Is it what you believe?"

"Maybe. Maybe not. But it's what needs to be said if I'm going to be elected."

Mai smiled and shook her head, squeezing his hand.

"It's what your uncle told you to say, isn't it?"

"W-well, he's right," Zuko sputtered sheepishly.

"I think listening to your uncle is a good idea," Mai admitted, "but you need to make this your own. If you're going to be a leader you have to lead based on what you believe, Zu."

"I know," Zuko groaned, rubbing his tired eyes. "I just don't want to let myself...-" He trailed off and shrugged.

"Turn into your father," Mai finished his thought, rubbing her thumb across his wrist. "You won't," she whispered into his ear as she gave him a small peck on the cheek. He lifted their joined hands and placed a reciprocated kiss on the back of Mai's hand.

"No, I won't let that happen."

- Winter, 2009 -

"Do you honestly believe Father would do such a thing?"

Their eyes fought like two locked swords, scraping against each other, sparks flying.

"Honestly, Azula," Zuko said at last, ripping his gaze away from her, "After everything I've seen, I wouldn't put it past him."

"So now Father's a murderer," Azula incredulously declared, attacking her brother with her words. "You think he killed Mother."

"I didn't say that," Zuko snapped, walking to the kitchen. "The courts can decide what he is or isn't guilty of."

"You sound so very concerned, Zuzu," his older sister jabbed, following him into the kitchen, slippers silent on the tile floor. "It's good to know this family means so very much to you."

Zuko opened the fridge, retrieving a jug of orange juice and pouring it into a tall glass, his back turned to his angry sibling.

"This family?" Zuko quipped quietly. He closed the refrigerator and turned around, glass in hand. He glared at his sister's seething expression. "This family meant everything to me, Azula," Zuko clarified before guzzling down half of the glass. He gasped and wiped his mouth with the sleeve of his black pajama shirt, glancing at an old portrait of his uncle that sat on the lamp desk beside the couch. "And what's left of it still is important."

"I see," Azula sang a bitter song. "So now Father isn't part of this family?"

"You can't be a father while you're in prison," Zuko explained, pacing past her and back into the living room. It was adorned with various artifacts from his uncle's travels: a golden dragon statue that held up a glass coffee table, a large oak staff with a multitude of metal badges wedged into it, various exotic potteries...

"What about me, then?" Azula demanded, her tone suddenly softer. Zuko scratched the stubble forming on his cheeks and nodded thoughtfully.

"You're my sister."

"And you're my brother," she irritably blurted, irked by the common sense of it all. Zuko shrugged and plopped himself down on the living room couch, a plate of hours-old sushi left over from his dinner on the coffee table before him.

"Guess that makes us siblings, then," Zuko observed with nonchalance before picking at a clump of rice and fish with his bare hands and slipping it into his mouth.

"Good to know," Azula growled, distraught by his apathy. She sat herself down in the leather recliner beside the couch, seeing the late-night talk show on the TV but not actually watching it. The room was thick with tension, the stress of their situation weighing on them both.

"They're gone, you know," Zuko announced plainly.

"Yes, I'm aware," Azula moaned, her face contorting into discomfort as she kicked off her furry, red slippers and curled up into the recliner. She stared absent-mindedly at her brother's calm, walled-off expression, his gloomy eyes glued to the television.

"We can't wait around for them to come back," Zuko explained. "They won't. You have to stop pretending like things are going to go back to the way they were, Azula."

Azula had no reply but an embittered expression, any satisfaction withheld as Zuko didn't even look her way.

"It's just us now," Zuko concluded, finishing off his orange juice. "Us and Uncle Iroh." While there was a large collection of extended family back in Japan, they didn't count in the context that was being discussed here. Their mother's side of the family in the US was sparse and split apart, her parent passed away years prior. At this point in time, their father's brother was the closest thing they had to a parent.

"Sometimes I wonder if you love your uncle more than your own father," Azula accused, reaching over the top of the recliner for a small blanket to cover herself. She noticed Zuko raise his brows defiantly as he chewed into another piece of sushi.

"Fancy that," Zuko muttered between bites. "You do realize that you're talking about the man who's letting us live with him right now," he pointed out.

"Out of obligation," Azula expressed.

"If you say so."

Due to the nature of Ozai Kurosawa's crimes, the ownership of his home was still under debate, and due to the nature of the holiday season, Iroh had invited the two young adults to stay with what they felt was the only family they had left. A well-furnished house in rural Wayward, the home was fitting for the old man's tastes and would easily accommodate his nephew and niece. Iroh's connection to SRU was rooted in the Kurosawa family serving as a benefactor of the college for decades, since its foundation. Ozai, in fact, had met his wife through the school as a result of this financial connection. A fair-skinned Caucasian, the woman gradually became Ozai's lover and incentive to move from Japan to America. This background resulted in a pair of half Caucasian, half Japanese children who had spent their entire upbringing grasping with a dual identity. Now that Ozai was no longer in a position to run his multi-million dollar company, it fell to one of his heirs to assume command, and Azula, being the elder of the two, had seen fit to place herself first in line before the end of high school. Zuko had desired to some day grow and assist her with this future task back in those days, but a great deal had changed since then.

"So what are you going to do with yourself now?" the biting tone of the older sister demanded after a few moments of reflective silence.

"I'm going to finish school," Zuko placidly proclaimed.

"You're going to let me run our father's business on my own?"

"Why not?" Zuko stared at her with a snide smirk. "You seem more than eager to take the job."

"W-well, of course, it's our family business. And I'm certainly more than capable of taking charge."

They spoke simultaneously, Azula speaking with pride and passion, Zuko with apathy and exhaustion.

"It's what I was born to do."
"It's what you were born to do."

Zuko rubbed his hands, cleaning them of food residue, and he picked up his plate and glass to take to the sink in the kitchen.

"So what's the problem? Like I said: you seem more than eager to take the job. There'll be a whole counsel of suits to help point you in the right direction, anyway."

"I intend to remove them from the picture as soon as possible," Azula assured with a shaky breath, fingers clamping on her temples. "Once I understand what needs to be done I will not be letting anyone abuse my power."

"I'm sure you won't," Zuko quietly agreed as he came back, laying himself onto the couch.

"Hey, Dum-Dum," Azula grumbled slowly. "Can we change the channel?"

"To what?"

"Anything but this drivel."


- Friday, September 3rd, 2010 -

"Hey, you gonna eat that?" Sokka asked, jabbing his finger at his sister's tray.

"No," Katara laughed, shaking her head, and leaned back as Sokka eagerly scooped up a small handful of chicken sandwich and munched it down.

"Hungry there?" Toph asked as she dug her fingers into her box of french fries. As she fed one into her mouth, bite-by-bite, Aang snuck a fry from her and stuffed it in his face. Whump. A swift knock to the arm. "I heard that," Toph warned with a scowl. It quickly faded when Aang jammed a piece of lettuce into her closed lips.

"There, we can trade," he joked, letting the lettuce fall off her face and into her laptop.

"Peh," Toph coughed, wiping off her mouth and flinging the leaf from her leg. "Thanks, there, Twinkle-Toes."

"Just trying to be fair, Pudding Basket."


"Hey, uh, Aang," Sokka cautiously began. "You, uh...You need some help with the whole 'nickname' bit, there? 'Cuz it seems like you're struggling to me."

Toph chuckled. "Yea, maybe you should get some training here from Meat-Head."


"Oh my God," Toph groaned, immediately picking her phone up off the table and flicking it open to quell the sounds of Beethoven's 5th Symphony. "Hello?" she greeted rigidly through grit teeth. The table fell silent, each member fully aware of the situation at hand - save one.

"Wh-?" Suki began, but Sokka shook his head and lifted a finger to his lips to silence her. "It's Toph's parents," Sokka whispered in her ear.

["Toph! Ah, good. I finally got a hold of you."]

"Is this important, Dad?" sighed Toph, palm over her face. Aang offered support by rubbing her leg briskly.

["Don't take that tone with me, Miss."] Toph ground her teeth together and pressed her knuckle into her forehead, suppressing her impatience.

"What is it?" she asked with as much politeness as she could muster.

["It's about this weekend."]

"OK...So? What about this weekend?"

["Your mother and I will be attending the annual Beifong reunion."]

Toph's plans for the weekend crumbled away to reveal a long-forgotten memory: the first weekend of September was when her family held its annual get-together. And, oh, what a fun time it was for Toph: being led about by her parents to be fondled over and pitied on, without space to speak her mind but be spoken about to all manner of relatives who never bothered to give her the light of day on any other occasion.

"Great," Toph blurted coldly. "Have fun with that."

["I'm sure we will, as will you. I'm calling to inform you of the arrangements-"]

"I...I'm not going," Toph managed in a tone that teetered between rebellious and uncertain.

["Why I...I beg your pardon?"] He spoke with earnest confusion.

"I said," Toph cleared her throat and repeated herself with more bold defiance. "I'm not going."

["My Dear, you can't simply not go - this is crucial family business."]

"That's just fantastic," Toph snapped. "Then you guys should have it all settled, because they sure as hell don't treat me like family the rest of the year."

["Think of your grandfather,"] Mr. Beifong quipped incredulously. ["Or your grandmother. She would be ash-"]

"My grandmother would want me to do what I think is best," Toph thundered, slapping her hand on the table, shuffling her uneaten fries. "And I don't think me going is a good idea."

Her friends were all silent, exchanging wary glances like nervous statues.

["Toph Beifong,"] came the familiar scolding call, ["With all due respect, young lady, it is your obligation to this family to make an appearance at-"]

"I'm not going," Toph seethed, her head throbbing from the stress. "Period."


Toph let out a growl as she slammed her phone into her lap, palm massaging her head. A long, drawn out sigh escaped her before Sokka finally broke the silence.

"Soooo, yea." He jabbed the tips of his index fingers together. "That just happened," he observed. "Snap."

"You just told off your parents," Katara whispered in impressed awe. "Nice."

Aang gave Toph a congratulatory kiss on the cheek and slapped her knee.

"Good one," he encouraged. Aang had a personal grudge against Toph's parents - and Aang didn't hold grudges. Toph found herself oddly grateful that it was on her behalf that the peace-loving boy bothered to actively dislike someone.

"So, like," Suki fidgeted her hands around, rotating her fingers around each other. "I'm taking it that...Toph's parents...We're not on good terms with them?"

"Ha!" Toph spouted. "One way of puttin' it..."

"They're...really super controlling," Katara explained. "Like, creepy controlling."

"They're jerks," Aang put it simply, jamming his fork into his salad.

"Coming from Aang, that's saying something," Sokka advised as Toph went back to her fries.

"Sounds like a pain," Suki muttered. "I get along great with my mom," she added softly, almost to herself. No one at the table besides her could properly relate to this sentiment, it seemed.

"We're not all so lucky," Toph bitterly remarked, licking salt from her fingers. She groped her hands across her tray before finding her baked potato and the plastic fork beside it.

- September, 2009 -

Toph slipped her silk gloves off, hanging them over her chair. She fidgeted her position around, trying to be comfortable. This dress was form fitting and intolerable. She could hardly move her legs in it. So thoughtful of them to force her into it without any input. Naturally they hadn't even asked what color she wanted - as if being blind stripped away any right of making decisions concerned her appearance. Her hair was wadded into a slick bun, a tiara nestled over top of her head. Heavy earrings of gold had been fitted into her ears - whatever shape they were they kept tapping the edges of her jaws, which was irksome. Toph felt her hands across the table, attempting to look as inconspicuous as possible. Every piece of silverware was neatly laid out. Her fingers delicately sensed out the proper fork she needed at this moment in time and she pulled it off the table. She tenderly pressed the side of fork against the squishy chunk of material on the plate in front of her, getting a quick feel for how large it was. She stabbed it before carefully treading the knife in her other hand across its surface. She sawed away at it, slicing a clean piece of meat and bringing it to her mouth. She chewed on the juicy steak with some satisfaction.

"Oh, you poor thing." The voice of her Aunt Wu jarred her from her comfort zone. "Here, let me help you, Dearie." The utensils were stripped from her hands and - skiss-skees-ssfff - she could hear them being put to quick work on the meat. Toph's face was warm with embarrassment at this gesture and her stomach twisted with irritation. "Now where did your parents go off to?" the woman wondered. "To leave you alone to fend for yourself? Shameful."

Ha, well...Can't really disagree with the 'shameful' part...

"It-it's all right, Aunt Wu," Toph mumbled. "I'm fine. I can take care of myself."

"I'm sure you can, Toph, but that doesn't mean you ought to. What if you had cut yourself?"

Christ. I know how to use a knife, woman.

Toph's face bent into a grimace, her shoulders slumped.

"There you are. That's much better." Clakker-clat. "I do hope you enjoy the food, Dear. The caterers are exquisite this year."

And off the Aunt went. Toph knew next to nothing of Aunt Wu except that the woman sounded a bit heavy and that she lathered Toph with pity at every rare impasse. A stray hair tickled at Toph's ear, and she tucked it back before reaching her hand out over her plate, groping around the edges. She pricked her thumb on the tip of her steak knife, growled, and retrieved it, setting it carefully in the correct position beside her plate. After locating her fork, she set back to eating her steak.

Some old-fashioned orchestra music played in the background, and while Toph would normally be able to appreciate its beauty, in this context it just grated against her ears like a nail file. The Beifong reunion was a ritzy, glamorous show of wealth and elitism, with each respective nuclear family vying to one-up each other, while Toph's parents had to play the 'blind-daughter' card in an effort to make themselves out to not even be in the running by circumstances beyond their control.

"Ah, Toph, Darling," her mom called, approaching swiftly. "There you are. Why are you sitting by yourself?"

"Because you guys left to go mingle."

"Well, yes, but we weren't expecting everyone around you to leave - why didn't you leave with them?"

"'Cuz I was hungry and I wasn't done eating?"

"Ah. In either case, your relatives are expecting you - everyone wants to say hello."

"Do they, now?"

"Oh, yes, certainly." Her mom grabbed her arm and pulled her up from her chair. Toph squirmed and tore herself out of her mother's grasp.

"I can stand up on my own," Toph hissed, rotating her shoulders to clear space.

"Yes, yes," Mrs. Beifong dismissed, pressing Toph's arm to ease her daughter along.

"I wasn't finished," Toph grumbled, being prodded from behind and shooed away from the table.

"You ate plenty enough. We wouldn't want you to over-indulge, Darling."

What the hell? Since when was some vegetables, mashed potatoes, and a single bite of steak over-indulging?

"Ah, and there she is, our sweet, darling daughter." They approached Mr. Beifong, and Toph felt as if she was being showcased rather than introduced.

"My, my, she's growing into quite a lady," commented some elderly woman.

"I remember when she barely reached my knees," came another raspy voice. A chorus of voices Toph had heard before but not enough to properly recognize chimed in their thoughts as Toph's parents had separate discussions with them. Dumbfounded, her position in the room lost, Toph was trapped in a cloud of that which she hated most: pity.

"It really is such a shame."
"Oh, I know, but we make the best of it."
"Such a poor thing."
"It's admirable how she manages."
"And you said she wants to learn the guitar?"
"She seems bound and determined."
"Oh, how inspiring. Quite an uphill struggle, I imagine."
"We shall persevere."

The words scraped at Toph's skull like fingernails on a chalkboard. She had dragged into this crowd of relatives to stand as some means of garnering attention. No one asked her questions, they asked her parents, as if her lack of sight deemed her incapable of answered questions.

"Uh...Hello?" Toph edged her way in, to no evail. "Hello?"

"Yes, yes. What is it, Darling?" asked her mother softly.

"I...I need to go to the bathroom," Toph lied with a sugary whisper, folding her hands innocently in front of her waist. An empathetic chuckle at her expense, a slender hand on her shoulder, and she was escorted like a child to a restroom by her mother. "I can find my way back," she assured as she snuck into the one-room bathroom on her own, eagerly shutting the door behind her.

Victory: peace at last. She carefully felt her way through the bathroom, step by step. A metal bar along the wall aided her - this was likely a handicap bathroom. When she reached the toilet, she prodded her fingers around for the lid and pushed it down over the seat. She took a deep breath and sat herself down on the closed toilet seat. Hunched over, she was tempted to wipe the various oils and creams from her face but knew better. She'd rather be slightly uncomfortable than appear to be a mess and get treated like an even less capable human being than she was already being made out to be. With her hands clasped together in her lap, her heart ached as her mind wandered to days gone by: to the bizarre sensation of a tire swing, to creamy mashed potatoes on a Sunday evening, to cold glasses of lemonade and gooey, warm chocolate chip cookies, to funny-smelling hugs and funny-smelling hand-knit scarves, to fairy tales read by a squeaky old voice before bed.

Why did you have to leave me all alone, Grandma? You were the only person I had left on my side...

- Friday, September 3rd, 2010 -

The crisp evening air was a bit chillier than expected, a hint of autumn hanging over them as they traveled across the long, straight sidewalk that led from the entrance of Aero to the side entrance of Aqua that was closest to Toph's bedroom. After their meal, Katara had been picked up by her boyfriend. After arriving back on campus Sokka and Suki had gone over to Terra so that Sokka could meet some of Suki's acquaintances there. Aang and Toph had retreated to Aero to spend a quiet evening together in Aang and Sokka's room listening to music and playing chess. Aang and Sokka had pooled their funds to buy a special chess set that had large, heavy pieces of glass and ridged squares, meaning Toph could fiddle with the pieces and the board and comprehend the game without knocking things over. It was a slow and tedious process, but by now Toph had basically gotten a hold of it. Sokka always always won, but at least with Aang every now and again she could squeeze a victory, as she had on this particular night. At some point into their second game, chess had devolved into some nonsensical sweet nothings which gave way to stolen kisses, gentle touches, and snuggling on Aang's bed while listening to classical music that Toph was practicing on the piano for class.

"You have fun tonight?" Aang wondered.

"Yep," she replied with a peaceful smile, scratching at his arm while their elbows were locked. "Coulda had more fun," she teased, "I mean, tour toes didn't twinkle too much tonight."

"Heh." Aang wrapped his free hand over her wrist. "I'll work on that next time, then. Buttercup."

"Buttercup today, huh?"

"What? What's wrong with that one?"

"Nothing," Toph earnestly answered. "Kinda like it."


"Reminds me of the Powerpuff Girl. I'm OK with that."

"I thought I'm trying to find a nickname that annoys you..."

"Yeeeaaa...About that. You really suck at this game."



"I just lost The Game."

"Shit!" Toph whispered with a grin, smacking her hand on Aang's chest. "I just lost The Game! You really suck."

"Winning is everything to you, isn't it?" Aang picked, folding her ear around. A small giggle escaped at the sensation, and she suppressed it. "We're here," Aang announced.

"It's not about winning," Toph clarified, slowing to a stop. "It's about not losing." She wound herself across the front of Aang's body and held him close, nuzzling her face into his neck and placing a kiss there when she had found her mark. As she retreated, she felt Aang's breath on her face and they shared a kiss on the lips that lasted shorter than she'd have liked. Fingers dug into her hair before gently pulling away.

"Love you," Aang said in a barely audible whisper.

"You, too," Toph barely retorted, running her hands down his chest before their bodies regretfully parted.



As Toph pressed her way into the door and found her path up the stairs to the second floor, her mind relaxed. By the time her surprisingly tired body collapsed into bed, it brain eked out a thought into the beyond before passing out.

I hope you're not mad that I'm not going to the reunion this weekend, Grandma. Besides, it's not like you're gonna be there...But you know, I'm glad you found someone to look after me in your place.

A/N: Let's just clear the air. Zuko doesn't have a scar. He will not have a scar. I'm not going to arbitrarily give him a scar because his role in the story doesn't offer any logical reason for him to have one. His scar is mental/emotional. Also, I should mention that I did change something here: Azula is Zuko's older sister in this story by one year. I know that's different than canon - but this is an AU and I have my reasons for changing things.

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Two rich families, two kids who want to break themselves away, each for their own reasons.

BTW sorry to everyone who just lost. ;D If you don't know what I'm referring to:

And yes, Ginny Ackland is 'Jin,' the girl from the tea shop who had a crush on Zuko in the canonical story. Yes, I'm aware that the spelling is funny because it 'should' be Gin, but Jin is an odd kind of girl who does somewhat eccentric things like that. ;)
Add a Comment:
sneaker-love Featured By Owner Oct 7, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
I can officially blame Aang for something now; I lost the game after a long forgotten winning streak. xD
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Oct 7, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Well, crap, now I have, too. :P
AtheistMetal Featured By Owner Jul 15, 2013
I think you made a huge mistake with portraying Toph. Toph is clearly not the kinda person who would like classical music. I'd bet my money that she would probably hate it. She would like rock and metal.
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Jul 15, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Hardy har. :P Because it's "rock" and "metal." Yea, I get it.
You and a bunch of other people like that punny little bit.

But actually, SRU!Toph likes BOTH. You don't give her enough credit if you think she would ONLY be capable of liking a single genre of music -- most musicians I know don't function that way. She's a more rounded person than the stereotype that much of the fandom makes her out to be, and so with this portrayal of her, she has tastes are not confined to any single genre. In fact, as you get farther into the story you may realize that her interest in classical music is more technical and also very conflicting, as it was basically forced upon her by her parents.

The other thing you might want to keep in mind is that this is "clearly not the kinda person" who functions exactly the same as canonical Toph.
She's a different person that is based on Toph, but not the same character due to context. I should probably warn you right and here and now that if you look at Toph's character as a stereotype "tough tomboy" person who has no sympathy or emotion (even though she definitely does based on some of the scenes we see her in during the show) this older, more balanced version of her character may throw you off. This version has no superpowers, no muscle -- she is legit blind -- so while I keep her sarcastic ego in tact a lot, she's more complex than the cold-hearted brute that fandom likes to think of as Toph. I'd rather hear about any inconsistencies I may have written within this story itself (which is, really, totally separate from canon) than people's perceived interpretations of characters when those don't necessarily apply here. ^_^;

Regardless, thanks for giving the story a try and leaving a comment! This version of Toph actually DOES enjoy rock and metal along with a number of types of music.
Sangeline Featured By Owner Feb 16, 2013
Fuck! Lost the game too x.x I pity Toph for always peing pitied. She's got a great reason to hate her parents!
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Feb 16, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Haha, well, in good time she ends up finding herself with the opposite problems she has now, I guess. ^_^;
DarkBlackArcanine Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
.....This has to be the best Avatar related Fan Fic I've read in maybe 5 years, out of well over 369 different stories.
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
That is an...ODDLY specific number, so I'm inclined to assume you're not exaggerating. xD Thanks for the compliment, I hope the entirety of the story proves worthwhile.
DarkBlackArcanine Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Up to chap 30 and this is now the best Avatar fanfic I have read. :)
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Jan 20, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Haha, thanks. =)
DarkBlackArcanine Featured By Owner Jan 21, 2013  Hobbyist Digital Artist
.....God this story just gets better the more I read it...though I wish there was just a little more time jumping forward.
LifetheGreat Featured By Owner Nov 12, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Normally wouldn't comment on long series stories like these in the beginning but 1) it is very good i love it so much and 2) I lost the game -_-
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Nov 12, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Haha. ;) Thanks for the comment.
LifetheGreat Featured By Owner Nov 12, 2012  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Your welcome :)
GustyValley Featured By Owner Sep 28, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
DAMMIT, I lost the game~ D:
StarCatcher37 Featured By Owner Sep 3, 2012

There was a bit of infodumping in Zuko's bit, but it was great otherwise.
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Sep 4, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Ah, this must be the chapter Zuko is introduced, right? Funny enough, I'd say Zuko and his family get the most "info dumping" in this story. Plot-wise, they are actually very important, but character development wise, not as much, which is where I think that ends up coming from.
StarCatcher37 Featured By Owner Sep 4, 2012
Yeah, it is :)
And that's actually kinda ironic because on the show, Zuko had one of the most prominent character arcs. Azula, too.
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Sep 4, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Well, that's exactly the reason why they're side-characters, because they got more development than other characters did. ;) No point in re-treading too much of the same ground with them, so here in this story, they're side characters.
UltimateTophFanatic Featured By Owner Aug 21, 2012  Hobbyist Artist

xD lol
Violet789897 Featured By Owner Aug 21, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
You realize that you just made everyone reading this lose the game, right?
Alura-the-Sage Featured By Owner Jul 8, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Very interesting! Are we gonna find out about Toph's grandma soon? I hope so!
...P.S. I just lost the game.
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Jul 8, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
You learn more about Toph and her grandmother as the story goes on.
battlebrothertherix Featured By Owner Jun 1, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
I can't quite work it out specifically, but something about reading this is cheering me up immeasurably. It's not the 'whee' happiness Sokka seems to be getting off on, not contentment...bugger, can't really put a word to it.

The drive, the will,
The spark and light,
Everything and nothing,
Undying heat.

That was my best attempt at putting it in words, I'm afraid.
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Jun 1, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
You mean the story in general, or something specific? ^_^;
Well, either way, I'm glad you seem to be enjoying it. Thanks for leaving a comment!
battlebrothertherix Featured By Owner Jun 2, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
I think it's the story in general. If it's something specific I haven't yet been able to pinpoint it after 11 parts now, which is quite uncharacteristic of me.
Either way, you did a great job when you wrote this.
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Jun 2, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Well, thanks! I hope you continue to enjoy it!
battlebrothertherix Featured By Owner Jun 2, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
I reckon I will.

(On a side-note, your pic showed Sokka when I first saw the comment, closed and reopened the browser to be greeted witha pic of Jane instead, minor wtf moment before my brain remembered that you had an animated icon)
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Jun 2, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
HAHAHA, yea, I need to finally get this avatar updated at some point -- it's been that way for like a year and half, from back when SRU only had just the one Homecoming pic! ^_^;
battlebrothertherix Featured By Owner Jun 2, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Well honestly it still works, and I'm still trying to work out how that Jane figure stands up with that hair.
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Jun 2, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Huh? Not quite sure I follow you on that. xD
(1 Reply)
Midnight4568 Featured By Owner Mar 6, 2012
So THAT's who Jin is in this story. I can imagine her with that type of rectanglar glasses.
Heehee, it's so weird to read about Zuko talking about his ambition - something unrelated to the Avatar.
That's how I would picture it if Zuko had to run for Fire Lord in the show. :) Being interviewed, having answers like those...
This is such a good simile! "Their eyes fought like two locked swords, scraping against each other, sparks flying." I like the originality.
Wait, so Azula's older than Zuko here? Hrmm, well she does try to act older than him anyway, on the show.
"Pudding Basket"! XD!!!
It seems like the characters use the phrase "With all due respect," whenever they want to end a bad part of a conversation.
If I were a relative of Toph's, I would definitely be on her side.
Ohh, that's right. And, Buttercup the Powerpuff Girl wears green.
Going to read the next chapter now.
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Mar 6, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Jin has a very interesting role that won't become clear until close to the end. ;)

Yeas, I chose Azula to be older in this story because she always ACTED older, I liked that dynamic, PLUS it gives a logical reason why he would still be in school and she wouldn't.
ShodanAllen Featured By Owner Jan 31, 2012
Favorite Thing: the last name Kurosawa.... very special to me and a perfect fit for the royals.

Honorable mention: Sokka always wins at chess.
pimpHO87 Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2011
oh yeah, it's easy for me to accept an older Azula since I had originally thought of Azula as older than Zuko in the canon series until I was corrected by further watching the series. I thought originally that a girl like her with the intellect that she had should've been older than her brother in the original series.
pimpHO87 Featured By Owner Feb 10, 2011
lol I was posting on facebook a month ago: Take me out of the game.
This was essentially the game i was talking about.
inaligrimalkin Featured By Owner Feb 9, 2011  Professional Artisan Crafter
I just lost the game :tears:
twinkle1 Featured By Owner Feb 2, 2011
I'm curious to see if Zuko and Azula interact with the others since they're not main characters, but i liked how you portrayed their stories with Toph's and The ending was cute =D
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Feb 2, 2011  Hobbyist Writer
Zuko and his group will interact with the others from time to time, yes, and depending on where the plot goes they become more involved, but they will not be main characters. The focus with Zuko will actually be on his relationship with his sister.
MEl0N-l0Rd Featured By Owner Dec 24, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
as i was reading zuko's part, i was like, "this can't be his speech! it's not awkward enough!" and sure enough...XD trying to get around to reading them all now that it's the holidays.
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Dec 26, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
Haha, yea, I want him to come across as, like, trying hard to play the part of a politician, which means saying things he might not necessarily mean or at least in a way he wouldn't normally say.

His speech was inspired by Iroh's speech in the episode "Bitter Work."
yanna3000 Featured By Owner Dec 6, 2010  Hobbyist Artist
I thought Zuko was older than Azula
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Dec 9, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
This is an alternate universe. =P

So it kinda doesn't matter. For the purpose of this story I needed Azula older.
AlmostLiterally Featured By Owner Nov 18, 2010
Jin. :D

I liked the bit about Azula and Zuko. I'm curious to see where it goes.

The part about Toph's grandma was a nice but sad (and all too real) touch.
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Nov 18, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
Crap, I just lost the game by scrolling through the comments. :XD:
Also, Jin...

Again, in WFTE I kind of came up with this idea of how I'd interpret Jin as a full character, and part of it was a kind of awkwardness, so that's totally transitioning into this version of her - but when she's in reporter mode she kind of wears a different mask.
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Nov 18, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
Honestly, I'm curious to see where Azula and Zuko go, too. :XD: Since they're not as main characters as others, I only have their plot planned out to a point...But I surprised myself in introducing their sibling dynamic by actually treating them like siblings torn apart by their parents.

I don't really know where Toph's grandma came from. It was a residual idea I came up with and briefly mentioned in WFTE but thought it'd be much more applicable to explore here. I like the idea of Toph feeling like an island in a sea of uppity rich families but her grandma serving as a childhood escape - like her boat to leave that island and sail around, helping develop her confidence and self-esteem. I'm sure I'll delve into that a bit through backstory character development later...I'm glad you liked that touch, I almost went a completely different direction with it but I think this was best.
elyon192 Featured By Owner Nov 15, 2010
AWW MAN!!!!!
thanks a I'VE lost the game.... ;)

nice chapter :D
7StepsToHell Featured By Owner Nov 14, 2010
Awesome chapter. I like your back stories for Zuko and Toph a lot already, can't wait to see them develop :)

I noticed a couple little things spelling wise this chapter, if you don't have a beta reader, I would REALLY like to throw my hat in the ring if you want one :D

It's a HUGE pet peeve of mine when I write, and I find some sort of sick pleasure in fixing spelling error's hahaha

Anyway, just putting the offer out there, if you don't care, its not a big deal because you very rarely have any errors to begin with.

Also, loved Jin's appearance at the start, nicely done. All in all, great chapter, DS. Update soon, and talk to you next chapter!
Destiny-Smasher Featured By Owner Nov 15, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
Thanks for the comment.

I managed to make Jin not Asian. :XD: I've been doing that with as many characters as possible.
She'll show up from time to time.
Corencio Featured By Owner Nov 13, 2010
I JUST LOST THE GAME. Brilliant. XD Hasn't that died yet? I guess not.

I was wondering when Zuko would eventually come back. The wait was worth it. I never noticed that similarity between Toph and Zuko... huh... You have a knack for bringing together certain themes. It's pretty cool.

Nice cameo by Aunt Wu. =D Now, is Meng one of Toph's cousins?

One last thing before my train of thought crashes: Do you have people proofreading each chapter? I have to ask, since the sentence "Her mom grabbed her mom and pulled her up from her chair" kinda threw me off. XD Overall the story is amazing, but little things like that keep it from being the best it could be, I think. *shrugs*
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