gaisce: (Pleased as punching)
Flourishing Verdantly ([personal profile] gaisce) wrote2011-02-13 12:00 am

[Avatar] Korra and the First Firebending Lesson

Title: Korra and the First Firebending Lesson
Series: Avatar: the Last Airbender (and Journey of Korra but not from any actual knowledge of canon or whatever)
Spoilers/warnings: Spoilers for the ending of A:tLA, specifically Azula’s end. Silly crack stuff. Imminent jossing of canon facts.
Wordcount: 1,200
Summary: One crazy old lady for a sifu is bad enough. Two is exponentially worse.
A/N: For [livejournal.com profile] starsofnite! Uh, hopefully it will at least make you laugh.




Korra was not afraid of learning firebending.

After all, she was already a waterbending master. She had endured an earthbending teacher who made a game of making hardened warriors cry, and whose idea of a lesson plan was throwing stones at you until you learned to break them into sand. She had grown up knowing that, as the world was changing and distancing itself from the old ways, she existed as a reminder of these silly antiquated Spirit World traditions. Korra was ready, she was determined, and more than prepared to face her elemental opposite.

The fact that Sifu Toph kept telling her she was about to drop her in the hands of a madwoman, however, was a little disconcerting.

“She’s crazy, kid,” Sifu Toph remarked the way you would discuss the weather. “We’re talking actual mental institution crazy. And, by the way, try not to talk about that when she’s training you. I think she’s still a little touchy about the whole thing.”

“If she’s so crazy, why am I learning from her again?”

The elderly earthbender scratched herself and grinned, as if to remind Korra about the disappointment she felt when she first realized that Toph was not the idealized sifu she expected, dignified and inscrutable, but rather an eccentric blind hermit with the only inscrutable thing about her being her hygiene background. Ever since then, Korra had tried not to let her expectations form an opinion of her next teacher. But Sifu Toph's description was hard to ignore.

“You answered your own question,” her teacher said. “Firebending’s not about standing your ground or redirecting your efforts. It’s a relentless forward motion thing. And the best people to show you that are ambition-filled nutjobs like Azula. Think about it, she was so concerned with being the best that she went from nervous breakdown to model patient just so she could get back to training. You take a day off if you get the flu, this lady dropped to rock bottom and clawed her way back to start.”

“At least it wasn’t an actual rock bottom,” Korra replied, still annoyed that one of Sifu Toph’s training methods had been kicking her off a mountainside and seeing how long it would take her to earthbend her way back up.

“Actually, there was this time she exploded off an airship but—hey, we’re here now. Hey, Fussybritches! Get your crazy butt out here!”

Korra looked around. They had arrived to a picturesque tropical beach. Far from the flame scorched nightmares Sifu Toph had been planting in her head about her firebending training ground.

“I thought we were supposed to not mention that,” Korra said with an undisguised look of annoyance at her earthbending teacher.

“You’re not. I’ve got special privileges on account of our long and loving history.”

“Is that what you’re calling it now?” came a voice from behind them. “What a pity to see senility setting in so soon.”

Korra turned around to see an elderly woman, about Sifu Toph’s age, standing with her arms crossed and her hands hidden in the folds of a simple red robe. Her hair was pulled back in a tight bun and not a strand was out of place. If a younger Korra had seen her before Sifu Toph, she would have thought she matched her image of what a real teacher should look like. But she liked Sifu Toph, as exasperating as the old lady could be, and there was something in Azula’s eyes that unnerved her.

“You’re the geezer here,” Toph replied. “Two years younger, I’m as fit as a spring chicken hog, and my eyesight’s just as good as it was the day I was born.”

Azula rolled her eyes in response. Korra wanted to do the same, but Sifu Toph would know and she didn’t want her firebending teacher’s first impression of her to be one of disrespect. Maybe second or third, but not right now.

“And I brought you a guest to help keep up your childish innocence, or whatever you have that passes for it these days.”

“Yes, Avatar Aang’s replacement.”

Korra,” Sifu Toph said, a warning edge in her voice.

“Korra then,” Azula conceded, inspecting the girl for appraisal the way one would examine an executioner’s block for traces of its last victim. “Have you tried firebending yet?”

Sifu Toph chuckled. “Don’t bother lying to her either.”

“Lying effectively will be a lesson after she learns the basics of firebending.”

“Yes,” Korra said quietly, wondering if Azula expected to be addressed as Sifu or if that was too presumptuous. Wondering exactly what Azula meant by lying lessons or if that was simply a joke. “Breathing exercises and maybe trying to start a campfire once or twice.”

“And how did that go?”

“Badly.” Korra remembered smelling like smoke for days. Helped by the fact that Toph had decided they were going to train as far away from major water sources as possible. Not fun.

Azula removed one hand and pointed to a pile of wood just a few feet away from them. “Start one now. Your late arrival meant I had to postpone my dinner, and a campfire is something toddlers can do. I want to see how badly off you are.”

“Excuse her, Korra. She gets extra cranky when she’s hungry.”

“Or whenever you’re around,” Azula replied curtly, but didn’t back away when Toph finally reached over and nudged her arm in greeting.

“You’ll just have to deal with it, Fussybritches. Katara said I stay here until Korra’s life isn’t in constant danger. And I’m already used to babysitting duties.”

Korra did finally roll her eyes at that one, breaking her concentration from the small amount of heat she tried to focus on the wood pile.

“I meant babysitting her, Korra,” Sifu Toph shouted to the girl, as if reading her mind.

“Keep your focus!” Azula snapped, then turned back to Sifu Toph. “So instead you’re going to be as annoying as possible so I keep my severe punishments restrained to you?”

“That, and you make the most hilarious faces when you’re irritated.”

Korra wrinkled her nose, part from the smoke and part from the continued banter between her earthbending teacher and newly introduced firebending teacher. It was official. Being a bending master meant you had to be kind of messed up in the head, Korra thought to herself. No wonder the Avatar’s destiny was always meant to be difficult, if it meant being mentored by a bunch of crazy old women.

“I don’t have the space for both of you..."

Finally, a spark caught and Korra felt her chest swell in triumph—

“Don’t worry, you know I love sharing sleeping arrangements with you. Since you’re so warm and snuggly.”

—only to then double over coughing from inhaling her smoke, sputtering in surprise.

Toph draped an arm around Azula’s shoulder. “First rule to fighting a firebender, make sure you keep them on their toes and maybe a little flustered.”

Azula shook her head, watching her pupil hack and sputter while rubbing at her eyes, most likely trying to claw the mental image away. “And Katara was worried about my teaching methods.”

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