Bitter Work

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Aya's POV

"Gooooood morning, earth bending student!"

My eyes fluttered opened and I sat up while rubbing my eyes. I saw Toph and Aang were awake, Sokka was still partly asleep, and Katara and I were sitting in our sleeping bags tiredly.

"Good morning, Sifu Toph." Aang greeted.

"Hey, you never call me Sifu Katara." Katara complained.

"Well, if you think I should..." Aang rubbed the back of his neck.

Sokka sits up and grumbles with irritation at Aang.

"Sorry, Snoozles, we'll do our earthbending as quietly as we can." Toph whispered to Sokka in a sarcastic tone. Suddenly, Toph earthbends a pillar underneath Sokka and he launches in the air. My brother screams in fear as he falls back down and gasped when he lands back the ground.

Sokka hops onto his feet and grumbles angrily toward Aang and Toph before hopping away irritated. I giggled lightly as I rose to my feet with Katara next to me.

"What move are you going to teach me first?" Aang asked Toph with excitement as he did a bunch of gestures and movements when he said each move. "Rock-a-lanche? The Trembler? Oh, maybe I could learn to make a whirlpool out of land!"

Toph stopped him. "Let's start with 'move a rock.'"

"Sounds good. Sounds good." Aang nodded.

Katara, Toph, Aang, and I moved to a more open part of the area. Toph and Aang stood in front of two boulders while Katara and I watched.

"The key to earthbending is your stance. You've got to be steady and strong. Rock is a stubborn element." Toph explained to Aang before shoving Aang. "If you're going to move it, you've got to be like a rock yourself."

"Like a rock, got it." Aang said.

"Good, Now the actual motion of this one is pretty simple." Toph informed before bending the boulder to a nearby wall. "Okay, you ready to give it a try?"

"I'm ready." Aang declared with a determined look and got into his stance. Aang attemped to move it but instead he airbended himself back toward Appa and fell onto stomach.

I cringed as he fell and Katara and I shared a look of worry.

"Rock beats Airbender!" I heard Sokka chuckle.

Aang recovered and walked back over to us.

"I don't understand what went wrong. He did it exactly the way you did." Katara mentioned to Toph.

"Maybe there's another way... what if I came at the boulder from another angle?" Aang suggested but Toph grabbed the collar of his shirt.

"No. That's the problem. You've got to stop thinking like an airbender." Toph told him knocking on his head. "There's no different angle, no clever solution, no trickety-trick that's going to move that rock." She shoved Aang to the ground. "You've got to face it head on. And when I say head on, I mean like this!"

Toph leaps into the air and smashes the boulder.

"Woah!" Aang jumps with surprise and he looks down sadly. Katara catches up with Toph whir I stay with Aang to comfort him.

"It's okay don't worry, you'll get." I assured him and he gave me a weak smile. I leaned up and kissed his cheek which caused him to blush shyly.

——

"KEEP YOUR KNEES HIGH, TWINKLE TOES!"

Whatever Katara said to Toph made this training much tense and hard for Aang.

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