Tetsuki, Toph. ATLA. “Why don’t you bend?” Title: Rust.

@generic-name-goes-here, you asked for Tetsuki! As in, my OC Tetsuki from Iron Will! (✿ ♥‿♥)

And what an excellent choice of title 🙂

Rust

Everyday Lady Beifong visits her and everyday asks the same question.

There is no answer that will satisfy both of them.

Okay so for those who don’t know who Tetsuki is–she’s my OC for many things, but in an ATLA context, she’s in my series Iron Will. As I’ve written her she’s essentially a foil to Jet of the Freedom Fighters, and is very much the human equivalent of a stray cat.

She can sense metal but as far as anyone (including herself) knows she’s not a bender.

Then again, I’ve yet to have her meet Toph in Iron Will and I hadn’t really considered it. I was pretty sure the timing of the Gaang’s actions and the Tetsuki’s own travels wouldn’t coincide that well, but they do all end up in Ba Sing Se eventually…

Hm… I haven’t planned Iron Will that far in advance, but I do quite like the idea of them meeting.

So Rust would be post-canon by several years, when Zuko is Fire Lord and Tetsuki has convinced him that he needs to execute his sister and father to quash any who would try to “restore them to power.” In order to appease the Fire Nation citizens, though, an Earth Kingdom war criminal ought to be executed as well–and Tetsuki is, with Jet having died in Ba Sing Se, the de facto leader of the Freedom Fighters (who, with her guidance were a lot more ruthless and effective than just a rowdy bunch of orphans living in the trees).

Anyway, so she’s being held in prison until then. Despite the summary, it’ll probably be in Toph’s POV. As future Chief of Police (in canon universe, anyway) Toph isn’t the kind of person who would accept someone’s execution as a political maneuver even if it was the to-be-executed’s idea. She probably tries many different routes to have Tetsuki freed–going to Zuko, to Aang, maybe to the Earth King even–but unless she literally breaks Tetsuki out herself (and she can, it’s a metal prison, of course she can but that would just incite awful consequences which the execution was supposed to prevent in the first place.)

I quite like the idea that Tetsuki would call Toph Lady Beifong, in a weird mix of overly formal and sarcastic. Because the Beifong family is RIDICULOUSLY well known to any Earth Kingdom citizen, but also I figure Toph can dish out the nicknames, but she can’t really take it and Tetsuki knows it. But it’s a fond and respectful teasing. Earth Kingdom solidarity even if they couldn’t be farther apart class wise.

Toph visits her everyday, as per the summary, and they basically talk out everything. Tetsuki’s past, Toph’s past, their philosophical beliefs on various things. Bending. It’s basically the confessionals of Tetsuki and she’s entrusting her life story to Toph.

Tetsuki spent most of this life angry and bitter and empty and she took it out on the world around her. Some of that she channelled into fighting, but a lot of it she kept inside herself to fester.

In a way, it’s basically her suicide note. In a different way, it’s a message of apology and gratitude that Tetsuki hopes Toph will deliver for her. To her sister, to her few remaining Freedom Fighters, to the rest of the Gaang who were never as fond of her as Toph. To Toph herself.

I’m actually unsure whether or not Tetsuki ought to be able to bend. Because the reason why I have her able to sense metal is that in her previous two lives she had electromagnetic abilities and it sort of carried over to this world too (and, as she herself learns in her teen years, her father was from Earth Kingdom but her mother was Fire Nation).

Not being able to is okay and stays true to her ruthlessness (if she had the ability she definitely would have used it). But I do kind of like the idea of her being able to. And if so, I think at the end, as Tetsuki is being led away by prison guards to the execution, she gives Toph a chain link. The chain of her manacles is one link shorter than it used to be.

There’s a sense of hopelessness evoked with the title Rust and it works quite well with the slated ending for Iron Will. I’m really happy with this prompt, @generic-name-goes-here, you’ve made me consider a lot of things for the series that I hadn’t touched at all. So thanks! 🙂

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