My first attempt at an Avatar fanfic. Actually a repost due to some changes I wanted to make. I want it known now that I own no rights to the Avatar label or any content within the show, so anything that happens here which occurs in future episodes is coincidental.

A cocky smile rested upon the lips of the young Earthbender, his rag-tag opponent kneeling on the floor of the slummy pub that lie on the outer edge of the Earth Kingdom capital, Ba Sing Se. Looking at the youth he wouldn't seem like much, at least in the eyes of other Earthbenders. His lightly tanned body was muscular but not as well toned as most of the male Earthbenders. Still, this was not to say he was not handsome. From his appearance one could see he was at least 18 years of age, and with his deep blue eyes, shoulder length black hair, and the strong but youthful look to his face it was easy to see why many of the women that met him fell for him so easily.

The youth tisked, lowering his fighting stance and crossing his arms. "What's wrong, is that all you've got? Come on, get up, I know you can do better then that!"

"There's just no way…" the youth's opponent groaned. "I won't loose…not to a pathetic wretch like you…"

With a heavy moan the fallen Earthbender, a much larger man by comparison, began to rise to his feet. It didn't do him any good, for no sooner had he risen then the youth's strike had connected with his chest, sending him careening into a stack of empty wooden kegs lying in the corner of the bar.

"Hmph. For the strongest Earthbender in the area you sure are a pretty pathetic fighter."

The young man's opponent didn't speak, in fact he didn't even move. The sheer force of the youth's blow had knocked him completely unconscious. With a shrug the youth turned towards the exit, tossing a few coins to the tender and giving a crude apology for the mess before leaving the bar. He began to head towards the nearest main road of that area of Ba Sing Se, making his way through a small crowd of people. What he hadn't noticed, however, was that he was being followed.

The youngster had made his way into a back alley of the slum, completely devoid of any people. As he tried to make his way through to the main street at the end he was stopped halfway through when a powerful hand grabbed him by his shoulder and tossed him to a nearby wall.

"You little bastard," one of the 4 men facing him said. "You've got a lot of nerve humiliating our boss like that. Looks like we're gonna have to teach you some respect for the Cho'Ral gang."

The youth smirked, pulling himself out of the cracked dent in the wall that he'd made when he collided with it. "Respect huh?" he remarked as he brushed the rubble off of his loose pants and vest. "Garbage like you isn't deserving of respect."

"Garbage! Why you little…Get 'im boys!"

The young man simply shook his head as the four men charged him, sliding into his fighting stance once more. The fight was short, even shorter then when he had fought Cho'Ral himself in the bar. As one of the men, the largest of the group, reached him he swiped at his ankles with a low sweep kick, pulling the lummox off balance. Before the behemoth of a man could even hit the ground the youth followed up with a powerful open palm strike that sent the big guy careening into the loudmouth that tossed him into the wall at the beginning. The other two were even shorter work, beaten with a simple blast of earth that sent both of them flying out of the alley, through the large crowd in the road behind him and into the wall of the pub.

With a sigh the young man looked at his pants to see they were dusted up again. Shaking his head he brushed them off and started back towards the main street that was up ahead. However, he was stopped once again, this time by the voice of yet another stranger. Initially startled he spun around, assuming his ready stance once more.

"Wow, a bit jumpy aren't you?" she said with a smile.

"Jeeze…you know you shouldn't sneak up on people like that," he said, lowering his guard when he saw the pretty brown haired, light skinned girl.

"Sorry, I didn't mean to startle you. You know, you handle yourself really well in a fight."

"Yeah? What of it? Look, if you're thinking of hiring me to protect you from someone or something like that forget it, I don't fight for cash outside the arenas."

The girl laughed. "No, nothing like that."

"Well look, I'd love to stay and chat but I've got places that I need to be."

"Don't be so hasty, cutie. I wanted to know if you'd be willing to accept a challenge."

The youth turned back, slightly confused and definitely surprised. A challenge? And from a girl who didn't look like she'd have any fighting skills whatsoever no less. Either she was crazy or she was one hell of a fighter. Either way, he wasn't going to bother. Fighting a girl wasn't his style.

"You're kidding right?"

"Why would I be? Come on handsome, you aren't afraid are you? Lets say midnight, on the outer wall."

"Tch, afraid isn't the problem. I don't fight women, it wouldn't be fair."

The girl smiled, placing one hand on her hip. "You sexist," she said with a slight laugh. "So you wont fight me cuz I'm a girl huh?"

"Like I said, it wouldn't be fa-"

The young man didn't even have a chance to finish his sentence before the girl struck his chest-plate with an open palm strike, sending him back into the wall the loudmouth he'd just beaten tossed him into.

"Still think it wouldn't be fair?" she asked as he sat there, clearly dazed from the strike. He looked up at her and rose, definitely surprised. "So how about it? Meet me on the outer wall at midnight?"

The youth smirked once again, having second thoughts about his initial response. Even though the strike was a sneak attack, she showed an unusual amount of skill and precision with the attack. It may actually be kinda fun after all.

"Heh, fine. Midnight on the outer wall it is."

"Ok, see you there handsome," she said before blowing him a kiss as she walked off.

The moon was high in the sky as the youth and the young girl stood on the outer wall of Ba Sing Se. Both of them were ready, their battle stances assumed. His was a variation of the traditional Earthbending stance, hers one he'd never seen before. The two stared each other down, each one wearing a grin, both thinking that this was gonna make for a fun time.

"You ready handsome?" she asked.

"If you think you've got what it takes," he answered.

The girl giggled. "You're certainly confident. Say, before we start, why don't you give me your name?"

"It's Gahng. Gahng Zan. And you are?"

"Ty Lee."

"Ty Lee huh? Alright then Ty Lee, let's see what you're made of!"

Gahng opened up the fight by initiating the first move. He stomped his foot onto the ground, creating a concentrated tremor in an attempt at throwing Ty Lee's balance off. The young lady proved to be smarter than he anticipated, however, and she tumbled to the side, avoiding the tremor. Gahng followed up with an immediate counter attack however, raising the earth around him and sending small blocks of it flying in her direction. Ty Lee proved too fast for this attack too, though, and she evaded each stone.

"Too slow!" she said as she dodged the barrage of stones, and before Gahng could to anything about it she was already in melee combat with him. Immediately she unleashed a barrage of swift strikes on Gahng, three of them each impacting on a different pressure point. Gahng was able to catch her fourth strike though and used the chance to take Ty Lee to the ground in a grapple.

The sudden strike from Gahng's grapple left Ty Lee stunned and the surface of the floor cracked where she had landed. Gahng smirked as he readied his final blow. "I gotta say, Ty Lee, you're definitely good, but not good enough." Gahng began to focus his chi, ready to administer the final blow with a powerful sand blast like the one he'd used on the thugs earlier. Something was wrong though, Gahng couldn't focus his chi; for some reason, he wasn't able to bend!

"My Earthbending! What the hell is going on?" Gahng looked up to where Ty Lee was, only she wasn't there anymore.

"Looks like I win," she said into his ear as she placed a hand upon the nape of his neck. Before Gahng could react she swiftly struck his neck and he fell to the ground, paralyzed.

"I'm definitely impressed," Ty Lee said as she crouched next to him. "Most benders cant even move after even three strikes, much less counter a fourth."

"How…how did you…"

"Stop you from Earthbending? Easy, I blocked your chi."

"Heh…so then…I guess you're gonna finish me off now…"

"Hmm? Now why would I do that?"

"Ty Lee…I knew the name…you're from the Fire Nation…"

Ty Lee grinned and nodded. "Yep, I'm from the Fire Nation alright."

"So…finish me off then…I'm Earth Nation…your enemy right?"

"I don't want to finish you off though."

Gahng sat up as his motor skills finally returned to him. "What are you talking about? You're from the Fire Nation, so you're obviously here because the Fire Nation's planning on invading again. Why let your enemy live?"

Ty Lee smiled again and looked out over the moonlit desert. "Tell me something Gahng," she started. "Do you have any family?"

Gahng looked curiously at Ty Lee, admiring her beauty in the moonlight. He wanted to know why she was asking him this, but rather then ask he simply answered. "No. No friends either. It's just me, and that's how I like it."

Ty Lee chuckled. "Liar. I could see it in your eyes when we were talking earlier. You hate being alone, but no one here will accept you, am I right? Gahng, what has this place ever done for you? You've lived in the slums for most of your life, and the people here have done nothing for you, even though you've been by yourself since you were a child."

Once again, the strange girl from the fire nation surprized him. Gahng found himself unable to answer her because he knew she was right. He'd never seen this girl before in his life and somehow she knew so much about him. It wasn't right. He'd never seen her before in his life and she wasn't even from this area. There was no way she could have known so much about him, unless...

"So, Ty Lee, how long?"

"Hmm? How long what?"

"How long have you been tailing me?"

"You know you're brighter then you look. It's been about six months now, and after fighting you I can definitely say that you're just what I was looking for. Just what Fire Lady Azula was looking for."

"Fire Lady Azula?"

"Yep, that's right," Ty Lee said with a smirk, turning to face Gahng. "And why not? You've got incredible Earthbending skills, especially for having no experience in the army, you know the layout of Ba Sing Se, and you're one hell of a fighter to boot."

Gahng couldn't believe his ears. Ty Lee was actually asking him to rebel against the Earth, the world even, and join the Fire Nation. There was no way he could do it, no way! Ba Sing Se was his home, even if it had been a hell on earth for him.

"Come on Gahng, think about it. What can this place give you? What has it ever given you?"

"Ba Sing Se is my home..."

"No one cares about you here."

"I can't just betray my country..."

"You're country's done nothing for you."

"I can't just leave..."

"The Fire Nation is giving you a home, giving you a new start."

"There's so much..."

Gahng never finished his sentence, he just stared blankly at the cracked stone of the outer wall beneath his feet. The more he thought about it, the more he realized that Ty Lee was right. The Earth Kingdom harbored nothing for him, Ba Sing Se harbored nothing for him. He'd lived in the slums all of his life, never able to progress. He couldn't get a steady job because of his reputation, and hardly anyone trusted him. It had taken him 18 years to realize, but he now understood how he truly felt. He hated his home; he hated the Earth Kingdom and Ba Sing Se.


"When...when can we leave..." Gahng asked, looking up to a smiling Ty Lee.