AUTHOR'S NOTE!

I'm not dead you guys! I'm really sorry for not updating in like a year but I've been really busy with school and everything and I haven't had ANY time and I'm extremely sorry for that. BUT I'm going to finish this story if it kills me and I won't take 10 months to update I promise! :)))

Summary: What would've happened if Mike and Bryan had stayed with their original idea of having Zutara happen and having Zuko join the GAang during the crossroads of destiny?

Disclaimer: A:TLA belongs to Bryke and Nickelodeon

A:TLA Remakes: The Runaway

Toph is running through a Firenation village gasping for breath but as soon as she reaches the town square a net flies out and snatches her up. She hits the ground hard as she's surrounded by soldiers and the last person she thought would betray her.

"How could you do this to me!? You betrayed me!" she yelled from the floor struggling to break free of her confines. She blindly looks up to "see" Katara standing in front of her with a glare on her face.

"You brought this on yourself. I had no choice" Katara said turning away from her blind friend. Toph was then dragged away by soldiers to be locked up.

3 DAYS EARLIER…

The GAang was camping out on a mountain side on the outskirts of a Firenation village. Near a river on the mountains Katara summoned her water snakes and glared forward at Toph who returned the stare. The girls seemed to be engaged in a fight or were about to be. Aang then popped up from his spot on the ground a few yards away from the girls tying his headband over his eyes.

"Okay, I'm ready for some training" Aang said enthusiastically. He turned around sensing where the girls were using his earthbending instead of his eyes. Toph and Katara began shooting rocks and water at Aang but he dodged every blow.

"Good job Twinkletoes. Visualize, the attack" Toph said shooting a fairly large rock in the avatar's direction. Aang dodged the rock by burrowing into the ground but Katara didn't have that ability and the rock hit her straight in the stomach and knocking her to the ground.

"Maybe you should take your own advice Toph" Katara said as she got up off the ground.

What's the matter can't handle some dirt Madam Fussy Britches" Toph said condescendingly. This remark angered Katara and she brought up a wave of water soaking Toph.

"Oh sorry did I splash you Mud Slug?" the two girls then ran at each other the fight starting.

"Are we taking a break?" Aang asked lifting his blindfold. Sokka, who had been hiding behind some rocks popped up and ran towards Aang.

"SNEAK ATTACK!" Sokka screamed as her ran towards Aang who brought up a rock wall to stop his naïve friend.

"Sokka sneak attacks don't work if you yell it out loud"

"He's right you know" Zuko said walking over and helping Sokka off the ground. The three boys then looked over to see Toph and Katara fighting with each other in the mud a few yards away.

"Hungry for a mud pie" Toph said before throwing mud in Katara's face.

"I'll give you a mud pie", Katara yelled throwing mud in Toph's face, who in turn threw Katara in the air using her bending sending her crashing into the mountainside.

"Uh guys I thought you were supposed to be training me" Aang said making the girls stop.

"Very well pupil I believe we've had enough training for today" Katara said calmly before walking away.

"While Katara cleans up let's go have some fun" Toph said shaking the mud off of herself and walking over to the guys.

"Yeah!" Aang and Sokka said enthusiastically.

"I think I'll hang back here and help Katara with dinner" Zuko said earning a nod from Sokka and Aang and a knowing smirk from Toph. The three of them left and soon reached the nearby village where messenger hawks were flying around above them.

"Look at all those messenger hawks. I've been thinking about getting one for myself that way I wouldn't have to talk to anyone I could just send them messages" Sokka said as he admired the birds.

"I gotta say I like the idea of not talking to you" Toph said earning a glare from Sokka.

"So guys what are we gonna get with our last silver piece?" Aang asked making Toph stop walking.

"We can get more money. Right there" she said gesturing to a group of villagers huddled around a man playing some sort of game, "this is where you seeing people are at a disadvantage. Everyone guesses wrong because the dealer moves the rock at the last second, but I can feel it with my earthbending."

"You there" the dealer said to Toph noticing her blind eyes, "wanna play a friendly game?"

"How could I possibly play I'm blind" she said feigning innocence and waving a hand in front of her face.

You don't have to see to be lucky" he said as Toph sat in front of the low table where the game was set up feeling around blindly and setting her silver piece on the table. The dealer then started moving the shells around switching the rock twice before stopping them. Toph used her earthbending to sense where the rock was and pointed to the shell on the par right earning two more silver pieces.

"Wow, fancy guessing. You are amazing at this. Would you like to make the game a little more interesting?" the dealer asked holding up more coins.

"More interesting? How?" Toph asked her innocent façade still intact.

"Well let's say you toss in your friend's fine sword there then I'll put up twenty silver pieces against it and that's more interesting" he said his voice sly. Toph snatched Sokka's sword out of his hand and held it up but she wasn't giving it up that easily.

"I'll do it for forty silver pieces"

"Forty silver pieces it is" he said putting more coins in the bag and starting the game but this time moving the shells around extremely quick confusing Aang and Sokka. Just as he was about to put the rock into his sleeve Toph bent the rock back under the shell. The shells stopped moving and Toph pointed to the middle one.

"Sorry little lady but…" he said picking up the shell and to his surprise he found a rock beneath it.

"I won!" Toph shouted excitedly before grabbing the sword and the money and running off with Aang and Sokka in tow. The three teens went back to camp carrying food and laughing at their recent victory. They walked over to Katara and Zuko who were sitting next to each other while Katara cooked dinner. They looked over at their happy friends as they dropped their newly acquired items in front of Katara.

"Where did you guys get the money for this stuff?" Zuko asked eyeing his friends strangely.

"Toph got us money" Aang said taking a bite out of an apple, "she scammed one of those guys in the town that moves those shells around all sneaky like"

"She used earthbending to win the game!" Sokka said sitting down in between Aang and Toph, "classic!"

"Oh…so she cheated" Katara said obviously not amused.

"Hey I only cheated because he was cheating. I cheated a cheater" Toph said, a smirk adorning her face, "what's wrong with that?"

"I'm just saying it's not something we should make a habit of doing"

"Why because it is fun and you hate fun?"

"I don't hate fun!" she said before putting Momo on top of her head, "see? Fun!" this obviously amused no one.

"Katara I'll personally make you an Avatar promise of not making this a habit" Aang said bowing respectfully. Well his promise turned out to be as fake as Sokka's beard because they kept scamming and tricking people out of their money.

"Guys I think these scams have gone far enough. If you keep doing them something bad is gonna happen" Katara said to her friends back at camp.

"Could you for once stop being such a sourpuss and just lighten up?" Toph said throwing a coin at Katara.

"Oh I'm sorry you think I should be more like you?" Katara said getting angry rather quickly and throwing the coin on the ground which Sokka gladly snatched up, "like some wild child?"

"Yeah maybe then you'd see how great we have it. I mean look at us we're travelling around the world, making easy money, having fun, with no parents telling is what to do"

"Ah I see you're acting like this because of your parents"

Whatever"

"They were controlling over you so you ran away and now you act like your parents don't exist. You act like you hate them but you don't. You just feel guilty"

I do hate them"

"I don't think so. I think you miss them, but you just don't wanna deal with that so instead you act like this crazy person"

"Look I ran away to help Aang" Toph said standing up and glaring at Katara.

"You know what it doesn't matter these scams put us all at risk and we don't need that we've already got some third eyed freak after us" (A.N: the bounty hunter is still after them and still attacked them like in The Beach episode)

"Speaking of that third eyed freak," Sokka said finally coming into the conversation, "I think I've got a name for him. What do you think of… Sparky Sparky Boom Man?" he asked waving his hands around for emphasis not actually earning a response from the others, "just think about it"

"We have enough money you need to stop this!" Katara yelled not even listening to her brother.

"I'll stop this when I wanna stop it not when you tell me!" Toph yelled before stomping away and creating an earth tent.

"Speaking of money I'm off to spend some. See you later" Sokka said standing up and walking back towards town and of course he bought himself a messenger hawk as soon as he got there, "Hawky, welcome to Team Avatar. My name's Sokka and I'm your new owner and as such I should warn you that there's already a lemur in our team so I don't wanna see any fighting" he said to his new bird who squawked I response. It was then Sokka realized the wanted poster on the wall with a drawing of Toph on it. Hawky started squawking again and Sokka acted as if he was talking to him.

"You're right Hawky this is bad"

Back at camp Katara was practicing with Aang and Toph while Zuko watched from the edge of the river and Toph was sitting with Appa counting her money.

"Toph when I went into town I saw something that you might not like" Sokka said pulling out the wanted poster and holding it out if front of her.

"Well it sounds like a sheet of paper but I'm guessing you're referring to what's on the sheet of paper"

"It's a wanted poster. Of you! They named you the Runaway"

"A wanted poster that's so great! The runaway, I love my new nickname is there a picture of me? Does it look good?" she asked and Sokka looked down at the drawing of Toph.

"Well yeah actually it does look pretty good, but you're missing the point maybe Katara was right the scams are drawing too much attention to us"

"Don't be such a worry wart like your sister. Think of it this way now you have plenty of money to help with the invasion"

"Well that is true. I had this idea of making armor for Appa" Sokka said looking over at the sleeping bison.

"Here's a little extra so you can buy a nice map of the Firenation" Toph said handing Sokka some more money, "you know what make it an atlas" she said giving him the rest of what was in the sack she was holding.

"I do like expensive atlases"

"Of course you do and that's why this wanted poster is going to stay our little secret" Toph said taking the poster and hiding it in her shirt walking away as the others walked toward Sokka.

"Sokka tell me you didn't buy a bird" Katara said putting a hand on her forehead.

"Not just a bird, a messenger bird, now we can send messages all over the world even to GranGran"

"Wow how does it work?" Aang asked looking at the bird curiously.

Hm…uh…I never actually thought about that. Hawky. GranGran. South Pole." Sokka said to the bird who shook its head in response, "I think he gets it" he said before Momo jumped at Hawky and started chasing his around Sokka's head.

"Hawky make nice. Bad Hawky"

Later that day Katara was making dinner when Sokka and Toph walked back over to them.

"Well, look who decided to join us. Where have you two been off scamming people again?" Katara said standing up from her spot in front of the pot of soup.

"Yes we were" Toph replied bluntly.

"Oh and I suppose you don't think what you're doing is dangerous at all?"

"No. I don't"

"Really?"

"Yes. Really"

"Well then, what's this?" Katara said pulling out Toph's wanted poster.

"I don't know! I mean seriously what's with you people? I'm blind!" Toph yelled pointing to her eyes.

"It's a wanted poster of you, the Runaway. Is that what you're called now? Are you proud of this?"

"Where did you get that?"

"It doesn't matter where I got it the fact is-"

"You went through my stuff! You had no right!"

"Your stuff was messy and I was just straightening up and I happened to stumble across it"

"That's a lie! You're lying Katara!"

"Fine it's a lie but you've been so out of control lately I knew something was up. I knew you were hiding something and you were!" Katara half yelled as Toph snatched the poster back and walking away, "don't you walk away from me when I'm talking to you!"

"Oh really MOM and what are you gonna do send me to my room?"

"I wish I could"

"Well you can't because you're not my mom and you're not their mom!" Toph said gesturing to Aang, Sokka and Zuko who were just sitting there silent the whole time.

"I never said I was!"

"No but you certainly act like it! You think it's your job to boss everyone around but it's not! You're just a regular kid like the rest of us so stop acting like you can tell me what to do! I can do whatever I want!"

"I don't act that way. Sokka do I act motherly?" she asked angrily startling her brother.

"Hey I'm staying out of this one"

"What do you think Aang do I act like a mom?" she asked Aang who was rubbing his eyes.

"Well I-" Aang started but was cut off by an angry Katara.

"Stop rubbing your eye and speak clearly when you talk!"

"Yes ma'am" Aang said a little timidly sting up straight.

"I can't be around you right now!" Toph yelled before stalking off.

"Well I can't be around you!" Katara yelled back and stomped away. Aang Sokka and Zuko just sat there and watched as their friends walked away. Hawky squawked breaking the silence.

"I know Hawky why can't they just get along?"

Later that day Katara and Toph still weren't talking to each other and were sitting on either sides of camp.

"Hey Aang wanna try out my messenger hawk with me? I have an idea" Sokka asked his friend who eagerly accepted, "I'm gonna send a note to Katara and say it's from Toph saying that she wants to apologize and everyone will be friends again"

"I gotta say Sokka you continue to impress me with your ideas"

"Eh it's a gift" he said as he got out a paper and brush and started to write, "dear Katara, sorry for everything. Your friend Toph" he then rolled up the letter and sent Hawky to give it to Katara. Katara opened the letter and immediately stood up fuming.

"I know this is from you Sokka! Toph can't write! Ugh you're all driving me crazy!" she yelled before stomping away down to the river.

"I can't believe we forgot Toph can't write" Aang said throwing his hands up in the air.

"Yup we're idiots"

"I'll second that" Zuko said coming back from where he was practicing his bending earning a glare from Sokka.

"I guess plan b is sending a note to Toph saying it's from Katara" Aang said feeling hopeful.

"Aang I think you guys are gonna run into a similar problem" Zuko said giving the avatar a questioning look.

"Sorry Hawky looks like I'm gonna have to solve this one without you" Sokka said to the bird before walking over to Toph, "come on we need to talk" he said to his blind friend. He led her over to the ledge above the river where unbeknownst to them was where Katara had gone to calm down so she was able to hear them.

"So let me guess you brought me out here to tell me that your sister's not as annoying as I make her out to be"

"Nah she's pretty much a pain. She's always gotta be right about everything and she gets all bossy and involved and in your business"

"Yeah I don't know how you can deal with it"

"Actually, in a way I rely on it"

"I don't understand"

"When my mom died that was the hardest time of my life. Our family was a mess but Katara she had so much strength. She stepped up and took on so much responsibility. She helped fill the void the was left by our mom"

"I guess I never thought about that"

"I'm gonna tell you something crazy. I've never told anyone this before. But honestly I'm not sure I can remember what my mother looked like. It's like my whole life Katara's been the one looking out for me. She's always been the one that's there and now when I try and remember my mom Katara's is the only face I can picture"

"The truth is, sometimes Katara does act motherly but that's not always a bad thing. She's compassionate and kind and actually cares about me, you know, the real me that's more than my own mom," she said and below he Katara sunk lower into the water touched and saddened by their words, "don't you ever tell her I said that!" Toph said punching Sokka in the arm.

"Hey my lips are sealed" he said rubbing his arm. Later that night Katara and Toph finally faced each other again.

"Hi Toph um I wanna-"

"Katara stop you don't need to apologize I was the one being stupid these scams are out of control and I'm done with them"

"Actually I wasn't going to apologize. I was gonna say I wanna pull a scam with you" Katara said making Aang, Sokka, and Zuko tune into the conversation.

"What? You wanna pull a scam with me?"

"Not just any scam. The ultimate scam" she said and now the boys were freaking out so much to the point that they fell on the floor, "so what do say Toph just me and you one last go, you in?"

"You know I'm in! Now what's this idea of yours?" she asked and Katara led her away from the guys who were still lying on the ground.

"The plan is simple. This wanted poster says you're worth a lot of money ten times more that you've made in all your scams. So I'm gonna turn you in and collect the reward then you'll metalbend yourself out of the jail and we're on our way"

BACK TO WHERE THE STORY STARTED OFF

"How could you do this to me? You betrayed me!"

"You brought this on yourself I had no choice" Katara said as Toph was taken away.

"You did the right thing by turning in the Runaway" the police chief said coming up to Katara.

"The right thing is its own reward"

"Well, I'm happy to hear you say that"

"But I still want the actual reward"

"Of course right this way" he said leading Katara away. Toph was then taken into a jail cell but to her dismay it wasn't a metal cell. It was completely wooden. She started feeling around realizing she was stuck and panicked.

"Hey what kind of cell is this?" Toph asked the guard that brought her in.

"A wooden one" the guard said before walking away leaving Toph by herself. Katara was back with the chief who was supposed to be giving her the reward until the door opened behind Katara.

"That's her," the man said pointing at Katara, "that's the girl you were looking for" Katara turned around to see Sparky Sparky Boom Man standing in the doorway. Back at camp Zuko and Sokka were sitting around watching Aang pace around nervously.

"Do you think this scam of theirs should be taking this long?" Aang asked.

"I was just thinking the same thing" Zuko said

"We better check it out" Sokka said agreeing with the fire prince and the avatar, "you two behave, Appa's in charge" Sokka said to Hawky and Momo before the three boys left to find their friends. Momo and Hawky were about to start fighting with each other when Appa growled loudly making them stop. After all he was in charge. Back in the prison Katara and Toph sat in the wooden cell together.

"Wait it's a trap" Toph said suddenly.

"Really? No kidding! Is that why we're sitting in a wooden cage right now? Gee how'd you figure out it was a trap?" Katara said sarcastically.

"Not for us Katara we're the bait. He wants Aang" Toph said making Katara's eyes widen.

"Oh I can't believe I was so stupid. See this is exactly why I'm against these scams I knew this would happen!"

"But this was your idea"

"I know…I wanted to show you that I'm not so motherly I wanted to show you that I can have fun too"

"Katara you are fun. If nothing else you're at least fun to argue with"

"I know your relationship with your parents is complicated and I shouldn't have said what I said"

"It's okay. I was really mad when you said that because…well because maybe it's true. I try not to think about it but when I left I probably really hurt them" Toph said tears falling down her cheeks. Katara reached over and hugged her blind friend as she cried.

"Where do you think they might be?" Zuko asked as they walked around the village.

"Where do you think anyone is?" Aang asked back. He was right there was no one in sight it was if everyone had left. Little did they know that on a rooftop was the bounty hunter that had attacked them not too long ago. Sparky Sparky Boom Man watched his prey and prepared to attack from above. Aang heard his heavy breathing and turned around pushing Sokka and Zuko out of the way just as the blast came at them.

"It's Sparky Sparky Boom Man!" Aang said as they hid behind the giant statue of the Ozai that stood in the town square.

"You know I'm starting to think that name doesn't quite fit" Sokka said putting a hand to his forehead. The bounty hunter jumped down from the roof and continued to attack them with his third eye firebending explosion powers. Back in the jail Toph and Katara were trying to figure out way to escape.

"What are we gonna do?" Katara asked as Toph was pushing on the wall of the cell.

"I don't know I wish we had some earth or water we need bendables"

"What about your meteor bracelet? You could make a saw!"

"I left it back at camp" Toph said before plopping onto the floor, "I was worried they would take it" Katara sighed heavily and wiped the sweat off her forehead. She then looked at her hand and thought of a way to break them out. She stood up and started running confusing Toph in the process.

"Um Katara are you okay?"

"Just fine" she replied as she continued to run in place.

"Then what are you doing?"

"I'm making my own water" she said and bent the sweat off her body and sliced the wooden cell.

"Katara you're a genius, a sweaty, stinky genius!" Toph said excitedly as Katara continued to slice through the wood. Back in the town square the boys continued to dodge the attacks from Sparky Sparky Boom Man.

"This guy is too good he shoots fire from his brain!" Sokka said as they hid behind an empty cart.

"We should split up he can't chase all three of us at the same time" Zuko said and they all ran in different directions. He spotted Aang running across the rooftops and decided to chase after him. Aang jumped from the rooftop to the giant Ozai statue but crashed into it too hard falling to the ground. Aang thought he was done for but suddenly the bounty hunters head was encased in ice from behind. Katara ran over and helped Aang off the ground before they all ran away.

"Hey I got it, the perfect name for that guy, Combustion Man!" Sokka said to the others as they continued to run.

"Good job Sokka now let's get out of here before Combustion Man catches us!"

"See it fits so well!"

They returned to the mountains on Appa and started to get off of the saddle when Toph asked Katara to help her.

"Will you write some things down for me? I wanna write a letter to my parents"

"I'll be happy to help" she said smiling at her friend. After the letter was written they sent Hawky to deliver it.

"Hey where'd Hawky go?" Sokka asked from across camp.