(Featured image base by: cookiimii)
Claude was careful with how he projected himself to the group. He stayed distant from them all and kept his eyes closed as often as possible. As he walked down the hall, he face planted into every wall that was even slightly in his way. Though everyone else, even Angel and Angela, were busy with their conversations/arguments, the bangs didn’t go unnoticed to a specific little girl.
Toph tilted her head to the sound of the banging as the whole shrine seemed to shake beneath her feet. With her sister still picking cat fights with Louisiana over America, she followed her bare feet and smirked when she was close enough to hear the deep, rough voice in a string of curses. “Looks like I’m not the only blind one here.” she stated over the spider’s muttering.
Claude sighed as he steadily sat down. “I just don’t know.” he stated. “I don’t know how you stand being blind. It drives me insane! I can’t see anything!”
“You don’t need eyes to see.” the girl stated. “If I remember right, you’re a spider, and spiders can see without eyes too.”
The tsuchigumo tilted his head. “What do you mean?”
“That’s why spiders have webs, right?” Toph asked. “So they can feel through their web where their food is, or if something’s wrong?”
“I can’t exactly cover the world in a web.” he sighed.
The girl shook her head. “You don’t have to.” she stated. “Did you not feel the vibrations in this shrine? You made a lot of them, and that’s how I was able to find you without help.”
He sighed upon hearing that. “Maybe you should’ve been the tsuchigumo then.” he stated. “You’re more of a spider than I am apparently.”
“I can easily teach you.” she smirked. “If I can teach Twinkle Toes to earthbend, I’m pretty sure I can teach you the same.”
“…Earthbend?” he asked. “I thought we left that realm.”
“We did.” she answered. “But it’s basically the same thing. Feeling vibrations in your surroundings is part of earthbending.”
Raising a black brow, he hardly believed his ears. “You’d do that…for me?” he asked. “You’d really teach me to see?”
“Of course!” she smiled. “I got nothing better to do, and I need to keep my teaching methods sharp.”
Claude smiled widely. “Thank you.” Suddenly, an arm snaked around Claude’s, causing the man to jump. “Who is that?!” The new arm opened Claude’s hand and drew letters in the palm, spelling out her name. “…C…H…R…I…S…T…I.”
Claude calmed when his mind processed the letters. “…Oh yeah, Tomoe said you were a jorogumo, right Christi?” he guessed. “I’m guessing you lost your voice?” Christi placed Claude’s hand on her own head and nodded.
Toph huffed as she crossed her arms. “Sorry Butterfly. I can’t teach someone I can’t hear. I’m sure you can ask Fluff Butt or that Snake guy to help you.”
“…Fluff Butt…?” the tsuchigumo asked.
The girl nodded. “Yeah, Tomoe.” she answered the implied question. “Everyone in my book has a legal nickname. Sokka is Boomerang, Katara is Sugar Queen, Aang is Twinkle Toes, you are Spiderman,” Claude’s face flattened, though the girl speaking couldn’t see his scowl. “and so on.” She then reached her hand out to shake. “We got a deal, or what Spiderman?”
The next morning, Toph came up to Natsumi quickly as she talked with Mizuki. “Hey, can you help me with something?” she asked.
The kitsune smiled. “Sure~” she stated. “What do you need help with?”
“I can help too!” the snake offered, glancing over at Asami glaring daggers at him. “…I don’t think Asami is very happy with me right now, so I should give her space anyway…”
The small girl then proceeded to whisper her intentions to the two yokai.
Claude finally steadily woke up as he stretched out his back like a cat waking from a nap. “Good morning Claude~”
“WHA?!” the spider jumped upon hearing the new voice.
The teen that spoke only giggled in amusement. “It’s okay, it’s just me, Natsumi. Toph already told me your situation, and asked if I can help you. Everyone else already left for school.”
The tsuchigumo was hesitant at that. “If everyone is at the school,” he stated. “why aren’t you?”
“My father gave me permission to stay home today to help you and Toph with your lessons.” she explained. “He already took Angela and William out for groceries.”
The man then stood. “Right.” he sighed. “What is Toph having me do first?”
“Just follow me.” Natsumi instructed, lightly touching his arm to let him know where she was.
With his hand lightly wrapped around her arm the whole walk down the hall, they made it to a room where Toph waited. “Now, Claude, I know that this may or may not apply to you, but please don’t be a jelly boned wimp.”
He raised his brows as the insult bounced off the girl’s lips. “That won’t apply to me.” he promised.
To that, Toph smiled. “Excellent.” With that, their lesson began. “Just walk towards me without Natsumi’s help.”
Claude hesitantly let go of the arm as he inched across the room. The further he walked, the more confident he got as he walked normally. Without his knowledge, Toph gave a silent nod of her head to the kitsune and a wooden plank was placed right in front of the blind man’s face, to which he face-planted the board.
“What the bloody hell?!” he shouted, backing away from the plank to rub his throbbing head. “What was that?!”
“You didn’t see the wall?” she asked. “Even I heard it over your stomping Sasquatch feet, and I’m further away.” Claude sneered as the girl repeated the instruction, “Walk towards me.”
He steadily worked his way around the board and continued forward, stretching his arms in front of him so he’d know if another wall came from nowhere or not. Again, the girl gave a silent nod and Natsumi shoved the wall again right in front of Claude’s face. This time, instead of him face-planting in the wood, he clutched his hurt elbow, throbbing in pain. The new wall was shoved right on his elbow with such power, his arm was bent the wrong way. “ARE YOU TRYING TO KILL ME?!”
“I’m trying to teach you.” Toph replied calmly. “This is exactly how Aang learned earthbending, now, this is how you will learn to see without eyes.” the girl paused for a moment with a smirk. “Or are you saying that you can’t take what a little twelve year old boy can do in circles around you? Or even what a twelve year old blind girl mastered?”
The spider growled. “FINE!” he shouted. “We’ll do this your way!”
Meanwhile, Mizuki told Tomoe and Ciel that Christi won’t be going to the school. With that excuse, the snake sat the jorogumo down in her guest room. “Okay, I know this is a little new for you, so we’ll take this slow.” he stated. “You need some way to communicate with everyone, even Toph and Claude, even though you can’t talk.” He then handed her a paper and pen. “This will be easier if I know your language’s alphabet.”
With a smile, Christi wrote the English alphabet on the paper. Once she was done, Mizuki studied it for a few moments. “…Alright…I got an idea~” He then smiled, slowly figuring out how he was going to do this. “…Let’s transfer the written alphabet to different hand shapes.”
Borrowing the camera he found in Nanami’s room, Mizuki took pictures of all the different hand shapes they came up with for each letter. Once that was done, the snake smiled. “Now, let’s practice with words.”
Claude, Toph, and Natsumi spent the whole day just in that room. Every time Claude hit a wall, Natsumi pushed him back to the door and removed the stray boards to clear the room and start over. As Tomoe, William, and Angela came back, they added more obstacles and challenges for him such as shape shifting into Toph to confuse him with faulty destinations, adding in trip wires and buckets of water (which he fell for plenty of times), and so on.
That afternoon, Sebastian, Ciel, and Romano were the first to arrive to the shrine from the school with the Italian and Michaelis teens.
“I’m not saying that you guys should, like, make out, that’s weird and gay, but just stop fighting!”
“I’m sorry bella, but that’s not going to happen!”
“No, it’s not! Not until that…piss mouthed Italian learns a word other than bastard!”
“Dad! What’s gotten into you?!”
“Oh, I know plenty of other words that would describe you! There’s Shit Face, Ass Hat, Mother Fucker, Son-of-a-bitch,”
“You know, none of those are a single word.”
“STOP CALLING ME THAT!”
The two Michaelis’ and the boy gazed at the running and hiding Romano in confusion as Naples sighed. “…I’ll go get him…”
With a sigh, Ciel clutched his head. “I’m going to see where Christi is and how her lessons are going.” And with that, he hurried in the shrine.
With the absence of the Italian duo, Sebastian tilted his head at a sound unfamiliar to him, a loud bang followed by a deep, rough voice in a string of curses. Justine looked over in the direction in confusion. “…Is that…Claude?”
“Sounds like it, but I’m not sure.” the father answered as they followed the sound.
Behind them, Rainbow Dash, Asami, America, Louisiana, France, Paris, and Josiphine came up to the shrine. “We’re here!”
“SHUSH!” Justine huffed, her black cat ears slightly scaring them. “My dad is trying to find a sound.” she stated. “He needs you guys completely quiet.”
“No need.” Sebastian smiled. “It was Claude.” he confirmed. “Apparently, he lost his sight, and Toph, Natsumi, Angela, William, and Tomoe are helping him by having him go through obstacles.”
America smiled. “Cool! Spiderman’s on an obstacle course! What can we do to help the dude?”
Sebastian shrugged. “I’ll talk to Tomoe, see how we can help.”
As more of the group returned to the shrine, the lesson moved from the room to the yard, where the obstacles got more challenging. Finally, the last four teens, Zuko, Akimi, Rachel, and Angel, made their way to the shrine with heavy huffs. “Oto!” Akimi called as they walked in the door. “I’m home with Zuko, Rachel, and Angel!”
Ciel and Mizuki peeked out of the room they claimed to see the new coming teens. “Tomoe’s out in the back yard.” the hebi stated.
Ciel looked back at Christi as she spelled some words with her fingers. “…Christi thinks it’s to help Claude.”
That caught Angel’s attention. “What’s wrong with my dad?”
“Nothing.” Ciel answered. “I’m not sure why being in the back yard would help Claude. I was actually pretty sure he was just fine.”
Relieved to hear no bad news, Angel planted her hands in the middle of her back and leaned back to pop the multiple joints down her spine. “You guys go on ahead.” she stated to the others. “I’m going to put my stuff down. My back is killing me. I’ll catch up later.” The three nodded as they separated.
Angel left for the guest room as Akimi, Rachel, and Zuko made their way to the back yard and Ciel and Mizuki returned to Christi. When they made it out there, they saw Claude tumble in a hole that nearly buried him save for his head and shoulders if he was standing. Everyone else with the exception of Toph was operating different obstacles and booby traps from trip wires, to magically appearing walls, to even fire balls. All over Claude were bruises, burns, cuts, twigs, and dirt as Angela pulled him out of the hole and flew him to the other side of the yard on her white eagle wings. Once Angela returned to the sideline to operate her trap, Toph sighed, “Come here Claude. We’ve been doing this all day, and you haven’t been successful once.”
“…What’s going on?” Zuko asked.
Hearing the question, Claude was the one to answer as he re-entered the obstacle course, appearing to be ready for anything. “You see, I am trying to learn to see without sight.” he answered, dodging the trip wire that almost caught his foot.
“He might’ve gained power when he came to this world.” Azula smirked.
“But that power came at the cost of his sight.” Jeremy explained. “Like how Christi lost her voice for the same power.”
“So,” America laughed. “we’re trying to keep this obstacle course up and running until Spiderman can get through to the other side without help!”
“…He hasn’t made it through yet…” Italy added with a chuckle.
Pinki shook her head. “Nope~ Not once~”
“Looks like fun~!” Akimi smiled. “Can we help?”
“Sure~!” Sebastian smiled in a very chipper manner.
“Just pick an obstacle, and keep it going~” Asami smiled at her younger sister.
Rachel then turned to Akimi before heading back in the shrine. “I should tell Angel.”
“Wha-NO!!!” Claude screamed distracting him for just a second as he completely shoulder-smacked a magically appearing wall.
Instead of returning to the beginning, the spider stumbled over to where he believed the teen to be. “Please DON’T tell Angel that I’m blind!” he begged. “She wouldn’t understand! She’d worry too much, and with all the power she has, we can’t afford for her to be distracted with worry for me!”
“…I see how it is…”
The spider widened his eyes as he reached his hand out and felt the face of the teen before him. It still felt to him like Rachel, but as he moved his hands over to the side, he felt another pair of shoulders. Following the shoulder to the neck, he felt the soft face that lead to fluffy hair atop the head. His fingers trailed down the hair. It was very long hair tied in a ponytail. Though the teen in front of him was Rachel, the teen beside Rachel was Angel.