Okay... so generally I don't like AUs. But ugh... I had this idea and I ran with it, guys, I just took it and I sprinted and the results are thusly. There was much discussion and brainstorming on DH and they told me to go for it so... gah here it is. It's gonna be a long one, longer than BAD PEOPLE.
So the backbone of the story is just like the show. Four types of bending, one Avatar. The characters are the same, no OCs or anything. The plot is the same, Fire Nation has gone too far, people are having trouble finding the Avatar. Differences? It takes place in 1927 at the peak of Prohibition in the United States in a big city like Chicago or the like. Yeah. Urm... so here's how it pans out. Fire Nation the Dragon Gang. Water Tribe Riversiders. Air Nomads the Four Aces. Earth Kingdom the rest of the speakeasies in the city.
I'm hoping that's all the basic info you'll need. Everything else is explained in the story itself. If you have any questions please let me know. I really don't want it to be confusing, I think I've done a pretty good job.
Just so you all know, I'm in no way like... pro-crime or anything. The 20s were just a fascinating time period when the bootleggers and gangsters were sort of the heroes of the time, so I'm trying to make it seem as normal as possible. If you have like... an ancestor that was killed by Al Capone or something, I'm not saying he was right so please don't hate me.
Disclaimer: I do not own Avatar
"I can't believe this."
"Oh quit your whining."
Katara shot her brother a glare as the two of them walked the rainy midnight streets of Omashu.
"I have the right to whine," she snapped. "You're the one that let the truck run out of gas. And during the witching hour, too."
"Not my fault Susan is such a hayburner," Sokka muttered mutinously, referring to his truck which he called Susan for some reason. He dug his hands into his pockets and glanced around the dark street, ground shining with rainwater. "I've never known the city to be so quiet this time of night."
"We're on the south side, Sokka," Katara replied edgily. "There hasn't been any business here since Boss Ozai bumped off all the Aces."
"We'd better hurry up, I don't like this part of the city," Sokka grumbled.
"What are you scared of? You have your boomerang, don't you?" she asked pointedly.
Sokka didn't respond, but she saw him slip his hand into his jacket just to make sure his handgun was there. He called it his boomerang despite the fact that it was a beat up old M1911.
"This baby's so powerful, the recoil comes right back at you like a boomerang," he told anyone who would listen. This was untrue, but the recoil had seemed much more powerful to him when he started calling it his boomerang considering he had been eleven years old when his father had given it to him.
Katara stopped in her tracks, glancing at a nearby street sign.
Sokka looked over at her, pushing his wet hair out of his eyes and pulling his fedora further down on his forehead. "What's eating you? It's raining pitchforks, we've gotta keep moving."
Katara didn't respond, raising a hand over her head and waterbending the raindrops away as they came down faster. "Sokka, wasn't the Ace of Spades around here?" she asked.
Sokka frowned thoughtfully, counting off on his fingers. "Um… the Clubs was on the west side, the Hearts was on the east side, and the Diamonds was on the north side…" he muttered. "Yeah, the Ace of Spades was around here somewhere."
Katara rolled her eyes. "Thanks so much, Sokka…" she sighed. "It was on Lake Street, so we're close. Come on." She started off down a narrow alley, Sokka on her heels.
"What are we going to the Spades for, Katara? There's nothing there. All the Aces were looted months ago."
"There might be some gas in the cellars," she replied without looking at him, still repelling the rain with one hand over her head. "And if not, there'll be a phone at least."
"You're not thinking of calling Dad, are you?" Sokka said, stopping in his tracks.
"How else do you expect him to pick up the shipment?" Katara replied lightly. "He sent us on this job because we're the best of the Riversiders, so clearly it needs to get done."
"Yeah, we're the best," Sokka replied. "So we have to finish the delivery ourselves, or we won't be the best anymore."
"Sokka, this isn't about some stupid reputation," Katara snorted.
"Yes, it is," Sokka replied darkly. "We're all that stands between Boss Ozai and the rest of the city. He's coming down way too hard on everybody else."
"Can we just deal with this?" Katara replied, turning and leveling a hard look at her brother.
He frowned. "You're giving me the Mom look," he growled. "I hate it when you give me the Mom look."
Katara took that to be the end of the conversation. She stopped in the middle of the street, looking quickly over her shoulder.
"The Spades was under a pet shop, wasn't it?" Katara asked, speaking more to herself than her brother. "Or was it a sandwich shop…"
"No, the Hearts was under a sandwich shop," Sokka said immediately, smiling as he relived a fond memory. "Their roast beef sandwiches were the cat's meow."
Katara rolled her eyes again. "There it is," she said suddenly, pointing down the street. "South Side Pets. Looks kind of worse for the wear, doesn't it?"
The two siblings stood before the pet shop, a rather small place crammed between two eight-story apartment buildings. The windows were heavily boarded and the door was chained shut. Katara crossed her arms over her chest and Sokka dug his hands deeper into his pockets, water dripping from the rim of his fedora.
"Shall we?" Katara asked with a grin. She gathered some rainwater in her hands and brought it slicing through the air, severing the chains in half. Sokka, taking his cue, stepped forward and kicked the door in.
"Anybody home?" Sokka called, stepping over the threshold. He reached automatically for the light switch, but the room remained dark. "No power."
"Not surprising," Katara sighed. She moved further into the shop, passing rows of empty cages and bowls until she reached the counter in the back. She heard Sokka shout in surprise when he knocked something over, but ignored it and leapt over the counter. There, among the dusty floorboards, was an old trapdoor embossed with an image of the Ace of Spades. Melted into the metal was a fresher image, a dragon. The symbol of the Dragon Gang.
"Back here, Sokka," she called. Sokka appeared beside her, leaning back against the counter.
"He's a subtle one, Boss Ozai," he said darkly. Katara smiled bemusedly as he bent down and hauled the trapdoor up out of the floor. The siblings peered into the square opening. A stone staircase, worn down by years of use, descended into the darkness below. Katara sighed. She had been friends with some of the Aces, known their families. She had even met Gyatso the Monk once. Being in one of their old speakeasies, even nearly a year after they had all been killed, made a chill set in that Katara rarely felt.
"Aha," Sokka said suddenly, making her jump. He crouched beside her, a dusty flashlight in his hand. A dim light clicked on from within.
"The battery still works?" Katara asked, lifting an eyebrow. "Well isn't that the bee's knees."
"Don't question fair fortune," Sokka replied lightly. "Can we continue? My dogs are killing me."
Katara rolled her eyes and snatched the torch from his hand. "We walked for six blocks, what kind of bootlegger are you?"
"I didn't ask for an earful, sis."
Sokka didn't respond, so Katara remained silent as the two of them continued down the staircase. It was long, but not very steep. They weren't going very far underground, just far behind the pet shop. As they finally neared the end of the tunnel, Katara stopped dead. Sokka ran into her.
"What's the big idea?" Sokka snapped. Katara pressed a finger to her lips and pointed to the door, eyes narrowed. Sokka looked as well, taking on a similar expression.
There was light coming from behind the door.
Katara backed against the wall of the tunnel and pulled the cork from the water skin she kept hidden beneath her trench coat, strapped over her shoulder and hanging at the opposite hip. Sokka pulled his beloved handgun from his shoulder holster.
Two steps forward and Sokka kicked the door open. Barely a moment later, they were both through the doorway, Sokka with his boomerang pointed into the room, Katara with a water whip poised to strike. They both looked around quickly, only to find the room empty.
Katara corked her water skin, tilting her head in curiosity. This had once been quite a speakeasy, looking more like a full-fledged club than a cave beneath a pet shop. The light was coming from the remains of a giant chandelier hanging from the high ceiling. The place was as banged up as the pet shop above, card tables overturned, broken glass littering the bar and bandstand, trash strewn across the floor. But a fire was crackling in a giant stone grate on one wall, and sitting before it was a boy.
Katara took a step into the room, not sure if he was alive. He was sitting in an armchair, feet propped up on an overturned coffee table that was missing two legs. They appeared to be fueling the fire. The boy was wearing a suit that appeared old and a little too large. His hands were folded carelessly on his chest, which was rising and falling slowly, Katara was glad to see. His face was mostly covered by a ratty old fedora, also too large, with a yellowed playing card tucked into the band. A trench coat was bundled beneath his head like a pillow.
The young waterbender decided to bite the bullet and go wake him, but her brother stopped her as she tried to move closer. He narrowed his eyes at her, gesturing with his gun. Katara just rolled her eyes and strode past him, kneeling at the boy's side. Up close, she could see that he was probably very close to her age. She placed a hand hesitantly over his, still crossed on his chest, and gave him a brisk shake.
"Hey," she called quietly. "Rise and shine, pal."
Katara gasped as one of his hands moved suddenly, taking a firm grip on her wrist. The other hand went to his hat, lifting it away from his face to reveal bright grey eyes and short, unruly black hair. Peeking out from beneath his hairline was the tip of a pale blue tattoo in the shape of an arrow. He grinned at her.
"Morning, Dollface," he said lightly, his voice startling her. "Aren't you a sight for sore eyes."
Katara stared at him, a slight smile of amusement tugging at her lips. "Do I know you?" she asked in response, tugging her wrist free from his grip. She saw his eyes dart past her shoulder and realized Sokka was probably standing there, doing his best to look imposing.
"You don't know me, but I know you," the boy said, his voice cracking slightly from what could only be lack of use. He pointed to the wall beside the fireplace. "You guys have been my only company for nearly a year."
The siblings looked over where he was pointing. Faded wanted posters were tacked to the wall, and right in the center, Katara saw her own face smirking back at her.
"You're Hakoda's Kids," the boy continued, grinning as he sat up. "Riversiders. You were friends of the Aces, so you're friends of mine."
Katara looked at him in alarm. "You're an Ace?" she blurted.
"The one and only," he replied, holding out his hand. "The name's Aang." Katara took his hand to shake it, but he surprised her and pulled it to his lips. "And what might you call yourself?"
Katara laughed, rolling her eyes. "Aren't you the charmer," she said airily. He grinned, and she felt herself smiling back.
"Don't tell him your name," Sokka said abruptly. The two of them looked at him. Katara had forgotten he was there. "How do we know you're not a Dragon, huh?" Katara sighed, bracing herself for the inevitable. Sure enough, Sokka's boomerang was pointed straight at Aang's head a moment later.
"Could a Dragon do this?" Aang asked, and a moment later he was in the air on a powerful gust of wind.
Katara grinned, impressed, as he came floating back to his chair. "Airbender," she pointed out to her brother.
"A fly boy, huh?" Sokka asked, still suspicious. "Well… what are you doing down here?"
Aang looked around disinterestedly. Katara glanced at the floor she was sitting on. It was covered in newspaper. With a lurch of her stomach, she realized it was probably there to cover the bloodstains left by his family and friends.
"Surviving," Aang finally responded. Katara and Sokka didn't respond. "You still haven't told me your names, by the way."
"I'm Katara," she said before her brother could stop her. "And this is my brother, Sokka."
"Pleased to meet you," he said, bowing from his chair. Katara laughed a little. Sokka just glared. "So, what brings you to the Ace of Spades?"
"Well we were making a delivery," Katara said pointedly, shooting a withering look at her brother. "But someone forgot to fill the tank."
"There's gas in the cellar," Aang said carelessly, settling himself back in his chair.
"And how!" Sokka finally smiled as he went running across the room to the back door. Katara remained kneeling at Aang's side. He glanced at her after several silent moments.
"See something you like?" he asked smoothly.
Katara just quirked an eyebrow at him. The smile slid from his face and she was surprised to see an embarrassed blush spread across his cheeks.
"Sorry," he said quietly. "That was rude."
Katara laughed slightly in amazement. "Wow, a sensitive guy," she said, impressed. "I haven't met one of your kind in years."
Aang let out what Katara could already identify as a fake laugh. "Sensitive? Please," he snorted. But he didn't seem to have anywhere to go from there. Katara grinned.
"I like sensitive guys," she said lightly.
Aang glanced at her, clearly unable to stop himself from smiling. "Really?"
Katara leaned toward him, and the blush reappeared on his face. "Really," she confirmed quietly. He swallowed. A few silent moments passed between them before Katara leaned back, glancing away from him. "Too bad you aren't one," she sighed nonchalantly.
Aang sat up abruptly. "Wait wait, did I say I wasn't sensitive? I was just pulling your leg, Dollface," he said hurriedly. "I'm a regular Ethel, ask anyone."
Katara frowned at him. "Who can I ask?" she said quietly. He looked away. "How long have you been alone down here, Aang?"
Aang shrugged, looking shrewdly into the fireplace. "About a year," he muttered. "Who's counting?"
"You've been here for a year?" Katara repeated quietly. He didn't respond. "How have you been holding up?"
"What do you mean?" Aang asked, trying to sound nonchalant.
"Well… there's a war going on up there," Katara said carefully. "The Dragons are taking over everything. Ever since they killed your gang, things have gotten pretty crazy. The Riversiders are all that stands between Boss Ozai and the rest of the city."
Aang remained silent. Katara reached forward hesitantly, placing her hand over his again.
"Aang, would you like to help Sokka and me with the shipment?" she asked quietly, smiling. "And then maybe… come back to the distillery with us?"
The young airbender looked at her in surprise. "Really? But… you just met me. And your brother doesn't trust me," he said frankly.
Katara smiled, squeezing his hand. "I trust you," she replied. "I want to help you."
"I don't need any help," he muttered.
"Okay, then I want to get to know you," she continued with a smile. "And that requires us to spend some time together."
"You want to stay down here?" Aang asked, grinning. "View's terrible, but the rent is free and you couldn't ask for a more sensitive roommate."
Katara laughed, and it was only a few moments before Aang joined her.
"I like your laugh," he said suddenly after several moments.
Katara tilted her head a little. "Come with me," she said quietly.
Aang looked at her steadily for a long time. Katara liked the way he looked at her. When she realized she was thinking that, she started to blush and glanced away.
"Okay," he said. She looked at him. "I'll come. Just as long as you don't have a problem with dogs."
Katara jumped in surprise. Sokka came running into the room, a can of gas in his hands. Shortly after he entered, something large and furry came bowling after him. The big furry something trotted straight over to Katara, who laughed and reached up to pet him
"I don't have a problem with dogs at all," she replied, scratching the giant white and brown sheepdog behind the ears. He barked contentedly.
"Copacetic," Aang said with a grin.
"Not copacetic!" Sokka burst out, eyeing the dog edgily. "That thing attacked me."
"That thing is my dog, Appa," Aang replied good-naturedly.
"And he'll be coming with us, along with Aang," Katara added quickly as she got to her feet. "Well you have the gas, let's ankle!"
"Wait," Sokka snapped, stopping Katara in her tracks. He leveled a look at her. "Come again?"
"Aang's coming with us," she repeated coolly. She offered Aang a hand, which he took and pulled himself to his feet.
"Wrong," Sokka said immediately. He gestured toward the stairs with the gas can. "We're leaving."
"Sokka, he's an airbender," Katara snapped. "He can help us."
Sokka opened his mouth to respond, but seemed to have nothing to say.
"That's what I thought," Katara grinned triumphantly. "No use beating your gums when you know I'm right, is there?"
Sokka sighed in frustration. "Fine, he can come," he growled. "But he can only stay if he gets Dad's permission."
Katara smiled. "You're some kind of fella, Sokka," she said, clapping him on the shoulder. Sokka just grumbled at her.
"If I say 'copacetic' again, will I get in trouble?" Aang asked, grinning.
"Go right ahead," Katara replied, shooting her brother a look which he dutifully ignored.
"Copacetic," Aang repeated, still grinning as he put his hat on and pulled his wrinkled trench coat on. "Let's go, Buddy," he added to Appa as he made for the door. The dog gave a neutral woof and loped after him.
"He's an odd bird," Sokka said darkly.
"He's been here alone for a year," Katara said quietly. "All he could do was think about his family and friends getting killed. That's enough to make anyone a lot stranger than he is."
"I hate it when you're right," Sokka sighed, following Aang and Appa out the door. Katara smiled and went after them, pausing for a moment at the door to switch the lights off.
The last Ace walked out of the Ace of Spades.
Tell me what you think. But please please be constructive, please.