Title- Fireflight
Author- Melon
Rating- a helluva lot higher than TV-Y7, that's for sure. Expect a solid T. If anything higher turns up, I will provide fair warning.
Genre(s)- Adventure/Romance/Action/Friendship/Spiritual
Characters/Pairings- everybody's here, it's Kataang, and I'm willing to consider requests on other pairings.
Summary- Avatar... unabridged. It's not so terribly different from the ATLA we all know and love, really. The characters are the same ones we fell in love (or hate) with, the concept and the general arcs of the plot are the same... but also not. The world is a little darker, everything is explored a little more thoroughly, some of the episodes that made no f***ing sense are cleaned up a little... you feel me? A more complex, more mature take on Aang's saga.

A/N- I finally watched the first season of Legend of Korra... and I was quite impressed. It's truly a worthy follow-up and a great show in its own right. But the thing I loved most about it was the darker tone it took and the richer, more mature themes that were explored. Clearly this is a show geared toward people like myself, who were pre-teens when ATLA was first airing and who are now in our late teens/early 20s and want more Avatar, dammit. And it got me to thinking... how might the show have looked if it had longer episodes (the better to explore plot and character nuances) and been geared toward an older audience? It's already a more complex and engaging series than most of the shows that air on primetime, so why not revisit the entire saga with that in mind?

Basically this is my way of filling in plot holes (comets are made of ice, yo), fully exploring events and concepts that didn't get enough screen time, and just generally fleshing everything out a little more.

Ages have been adjusted slightly to better manage the darker tones of this story.

~*Book 1: Wind & Water*~

Prologue: Katara

Peace is a foreign concept. Even I can admit that. One might think that here, in the fey twilight at the bottom of the world, things would be different. But we are living in a martial state even at the South Pole. The world is out of balance and a place that should have been a safe haven from all the busyness and sweaty commerce of the warmer parts of the world has been thrown into the same chaos as the rest of them. I don't know what started this war. I don't know what made the Firelord of old turn his back on the other kingdoms and set out to destroy us instead. I don't think I want to know. And sometimes I think that if only I did, I could find a way to stop it.

I doubt there is anyone alive who remembers a time before the great war with the Fire Nation, who can look back into the distant past and see fond memories of a time when they were happy and peaceful and unafraid. If there is, that person must be the luckiest man alive. At least they have a store of days untainted by horror. For most everyone, all we've ever known since childhood is the fear and instability of wartimes. I like to think it's better here, in the Southern Water Tribe. We do not face daily or even weekly raids by the Fire Nation. The threat is still there, but our society has already been ravaged to the point that the Fire Nation has no further use for us. And so I have to believe that now, at least, we have it a little easier. But times like these do not create optimists or lend themselves to a renewal of hope.

Maybe that is what makes me such a strange bird. My brother is pragmatic, almost utilitarian, in his outlook and his undertakings. The whole tribe is, really. Admittedly, that is in our nature. It has to be, given that we make our home in a place where the sun hardly shines for half the year. I never could be like that, though. Gran-Gran sometimes says I was born with stars in my eyes and it's an apt description. Maybe it's because I was gifted with water-bending, the last and only member of our tribe to be so blessed, or maybe it's because I believe just a little too hard in the stories the elders tell.

Either way, I am the rare optimist. Even on the days when the black snow falls and new devastation rains down on us at the hands of the Fire Nation, I am incapable of relinquishing that little spark of hope that I carry with me.

I truly believe that I will live to see the end of this war. I have to. I'm not sure if it's for the world's sake or for my own selfish reasons. Probably the latter, if I am honest. I'm suffocating here, trapped under a hundred thousand warnings to keep my talents hidden, and barely able to use them as it is. If the Fire Nation discovered what I can do, they would surely come and take me away, just as they took all the other water-benders. That is why I am such a poor excuse for a bender; there is no one to teach me and never a safe time to practice.

In another life, in another time, when there was no war, I know I could have been a great bender. I'm sure I would have had the power to stop the Fire Navy fleet in its tracks. I'm sure of it. And isn't that the irony of it? Because of the war, I cannot learn bending. Because I cannot learn bending, I cannot do anything to help put an end to the war. It's a vicious cycle, and I do not know how to break out of it. So instead, I hope.

I hope that the Southern tribe's little fleet will help turn the tide in our favor. I hope that the Firelord will have a sudden change of heart and somehow see what it is that he is doing to us all. But most of all... I put my hope in the Avatar.

This is the point at which people begin to find me foolish. The Avatar... the living channel between the mortal and spirit realms, the only being able to master all four elements, the impartial peacekeeper meant to maintain balance in the world... They say he is gone. He vanished before the war had even started. The last known incarnation of the Avatar was an air-bender, they remind me. Even if he survived whatever Fire Nation horrors brought about the disappearance of his people, he is surely dead by now, they say. And even if he isn't, what chance could a man over a hundred years old, physically frail no matter what his bending prowess, have against the might of the Firelord?

But I still believe in him. Wherever he is, the Avatar cannot have abandoned us. Perhaps he is playing a long game, honing his bending skill to unimaginable levels before confronting the Firelord. Perhaps they are right, and he is dead. But if that is the case, he has been reborn. Far to the north, in our sister tribe, there might even now be a new Avatar preparing to make his presence known and save us all. I believe this, because I have to.

I believe, and I wait, and I pray for a change in the winds.

A/N- I intend to get a little further in my writing process before posting further, but I thought I'd just get the prologue out there and see if anyone's interested.