Disclaimer: I do not own Avatar or anything related to it, nor do I own the one line I took straight from the show. A cookie to anyone who knows what it is. (But you'll have to bake/purchase/steal the cookie yourself)

A/N: This AU is based on the episodes of the first season (although if I have nothing better to do or someone actually enjoys reading this I will continue with the other seasons), except for the characters are slightly older. Katara is twenty, Sokka is twenty-one, and Aang is eighteen. I think you can figure out the rest from there.

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Chapter One: The Newcomer

Katara stared first at the burnt-thing-on-a-plate in front of her, then to her brother's hopeful gaze.

"I don't care how many times you try, Sokka, but you can't cook a fish."

His grin slid off his face like melted butter as Katara pushed the plate away. It wasn't that she was trying to be mean, but she felt Sokka should know the truth of his own horrible cooking before he embarrassed himself any more. Besides, she had a sinking suspicion that the blackened spheres on the fish's head were in fact burnt eyeballs.

"I caught it myself," he told her, trying to keep some of his macho dignity.

"No, you didn't. I saw you get it at the supermarket across the street," Katara responded calmly. She hadn't actually seen him buy the fish, but the chances that he actually caught the fish himself were slim to none, and there was only one place in town that you could buy fish with heads still attached. Sokka's glare turned suspicious.

"How did you know it was me?" He asked slowly. Katara grinned. She was right, as usual, and her brother was losing ground fast.

"I'd recognize your muscle shirt and faux-hawk anywhere."

Sokka put his hands self-consciously up to his hair. "It's not a faux-hawk! It's a wolf's tail, traditionally worn by ancient warriors!"

"Well, it sure shows the other warriors that you're fun and perky." Sokka's only response was to stick out his tongue in a customary show of sibling defiance. Katara stood up from the table, picked up her brother's sorry excuse for a dinner, and dumped the remains of the poor fish in the garbage, each move done as deliberately as possible. She then grabbed the car keys off the table and announced that she was going out to eat.

"You want me to get you something?" she asked as she walked out the door. Sokka finally gave in, looking visibly defeated as he slid down into the kitchen chair.

"Get me something with meat," he said finally.

Katara rolled her eyes and left. Some things never change.

She stepped out into the brisk air of a late spring in Maine. It was unusually warm for this time of year, so instead of a parka all she really needed was a denim jacket. Katara looked better in denim anyway. She was wearing her typical outfit today: blue jeans, a white long sleeved blouse, and white canvas shoes. Her hair fell in a long brown braid hung down her back, and a white knit cap her Gran-Gran made covered the top of her head. It was a simple outfit, sure, but Katara hadn't been in the mood for shopping since…

Since the day her mother died and her world turned upside down.

She jammed the car key into the lock a little too forcefully, missing the lock and scraping an inch of paint off the handle of her blue Geo Tracker. Before trying to open the door again, Katara forced herself to take a few deep breaths. She tried not to think about her mom too often, because that kind of thinking generally made her cry or break things. Or accidentally key car doors. She didn't think anyone would notice the paint scratch this time, since this car had been in the family for over ten years now and the paint job was hardly blue anymore.

Katara slid into the duct tape-covered seat and instinctively turned on the heater full-blast, although she knew it would take practically the whole car ride for the Tracker to warm up. She pulled out of the lot of the apartment building where she lived, heading downtown.

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Frosty's Pizza had probably the worst name for a bar in the history of the world. Not only did it remind people of the constant cold weather, it made the pizza sound undesirable. Of course, the stale, greasy, pizza was undesirable, but that probably wasn't the best advertising. Frosty's Pizza was not known for its pizza, however, but two completely different things: cheap beer and the dueling pianos.

At least, that was what Katara remembered it for. Nine years ago, when her mother was still alive, they used to come to Frosty's every night. There they could to listen to the dedicated pianists who took requests from the increasingly-drunken crowds. Katara and her mother would always come early and leave before a fight broke out, as to get the best music. Katara's mother never drank, and Katara was only eleven at the time, so they always got more out of those nights than most other patrons. Katara herself got arguably the most out of those pianos than anyone else. She was inspired, enlightened. She knew from the first night they visited Frosty's that she would one day play piano just like them. She had begged her mom to buy her a piano, but since money was tight then, all she got was a kid-sized keyboard and a beginning piano book. It was enough. Katara saved up her money for years to buy a bigger keyboard, and although it was not the most top-of the-line instrument, it at least had all eighty-eight keys.

When her mother passed away a year later, Katara had dedicated herself to the instrument, spending all of her spare time teaching herself the way of the keys. But Katara had not been to Frosty's Pizza in eight years, and she realized that she was not the only one who had changed.

The dueling pianos had been replaced by karaoke night.

As she sat down at the bar and sat through the worst rendition of "She Bangs" she had ever heard (and that included William Hung's version), she decided that twenty years and eight months was close enough to legal drinking age.

She didn't think she would be able to last the whole night sober.

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Two hours, eight drinks, and countless horrible singers later, a new singer walked onto the stage. He had a look about him that said "Midwest farmer." He wore blue jeans, brown work boots, and an orange plaid shirt that looked more appropriate for hunting season than late spring in Maine. The only thing Katara noticed was that he at least didn't have one of those football-sized belt buckles that seemed to be so popular with the farming crowd. Or was that ranchers? She couldn't remember, and didn't particularly care.

The stage lights shone off of his shaved head, and into the faces of the intoxicated crowd. They booed accordingly, Katara included. If he was anything like any other singer this night, the jeering was well-deserved. The newcomer paid them no attention, calmly stepping over a shattered beer bottle and requesting a song from the list.

Is this the real life?

Is this just fantasy?

Caught in a landslide, no escape from reality.

Open your eyes, look up to the skies and see…

Katara wasn't sure if it was just the alcohol in her system impairing her ability to perceive sound, but the kid had the most amazing voice she had ever heard. She had no idea it was even possible to sing Bohemian Rhapsody as a solo. Freddy Mercury would have been jealous.

When he was done, the crowd didn't know what to do. Most of them only came to Frosty's karaoke night to get drunk and watch other drunken people sing. Like the bar version of American Idol auditions. But this newcomer was certainly not drunk, and certainly not a bad singer at all. He left the stage to a few stunned cheers and another thrown beer bottle. He slipped out the back door and left just as suddenly as he came.

Katara followed him into the Frosty's Pizza parking lot, completely unsure of what she was trying to do.

"Hey!" she yelled after the singer, swaying slightly. He turned around to face her, standing in the light of a streetlight like a spotlight. "You're a singer," she told him, for lack of a more intelligent thing to say.

"And you're drunk." He turned away again, walking toward his car.

"Well, yes I am, but…wait!" He faced Katara again, wearing a smile that clearly asked her to go away before he called the authorities. "You're a good singer," she continued, slurring her words slightly, "not like everyone else tonight. I mean, no one sings Queen songs anymore 'cept on Guitar Hero and…ungh." Katara suddenly felt very ill, and threw up on the parking lot and a little bit on her shoes. The newcomer's expression quickly turned to one of compassion. He walked over to her and helped her over to his white SUV.

"Do you have a ride home?" The singer asked. Katara tried to shake her head, but the motion made her queasy.

"I have a really crappy blue car." She told him.

"Then I'll get you home. Just try your best and give me directions, okay?"

"'Kay. What's up with the arrow?" She asked suddenly, confusing the singer with her change of subject.

"Arrow?"

"On your car."

"Oh." His white SUV had the most bizarre paint job Katara had ever seen. The gray pinstripe job on the sides ended in a gray arrow on the hood of the car. The singer didn't actually explain the arrow, just said with a bit of a flourish "This…is Appa."

"You named your car?" She asked with a laugh.

"Yep."

"You should've painted flames on the side." Katara said with finality. The singer grinned, and ushered her into Appa's passenger side.

"Well, it's never too late to add flames." He said, driving out of the parking lot at a speed that was probably not legal. Seeing Katara's queasy face, however, he slowed down in order to save the car's interior.

"So who are you anyway, mister mystery singer?"

"My name's Aang. And your name is…?"

"Katara."

"Pleasure to meet you Katara."

"Yep. Turn left here," was her only response. After a minute or so of silence punctuated by a few more directions, Katara asked "So where are you from, Aang?"

"A farm just outside of Oshkosh." When Katara stared at him blankly, he added "That's in Wisconsin."

"Right. Oshkosh. Isn't that where they make all of those farmer clothes?" Aang was confused for a second.

"Farmer clothes?...Oh, you're talking about Oshkosh B'Gosh."

"Sure."

"I think they actually make the clothes in Mexico or something."

"Ah. Then why isn't it called Mexico B'Gosh?"

"I have no idea." They were silent for a while longer until Katara remembered something.

"Omigod! I totally forgot to get Sokka his meat!" Aang almost swerved off the road.

"What? Who?"

"My brother! He wanted me to bring him back some dinner. Made of meat." Aang altered their course and headed for the nearest golden arches.

"Don't worry; we'll get him a…burger…or something."

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Jee was enjoying his night off. After three months in a cramped RV with a musician's bratty son and aging brother, Jee would have done anything for a breath of fresh air. Even if that breath of fresh air came in this dump of a karaoke bar.

Jee didn't even understand what they were doing in Maine. What are the chances that the greatest singer of his time would be giving concerts in Maine? Or giving concerts at all? From what their anonymous caller had said, this singer was trying to keep on the down-low.

So for Jee, that meant bar-hopping in Maine.

He was just finishing off his first drink when the newcomer took the stage. Taking the walkie-talkie out of his pocket with shaking hands, he realized that tonight wasn't a night off, after all.

"Zuko? I think we've got 'im."

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A/N2: This chapter is dedicated to anyone who bought overalls from Oshkosh B'Gosh. (That means you, mom.)