Modern AU. Benders were long ago exterminated in the Great Inquisition, but Aang and a few others in the newer generation are rediscovering the ancient arts. Can Aang and the others restore balance to a long-corrupted world without gathering their own verdigris and rotting away?

I'm going to try to keep from anything too dramatic in terms of character favoritism, but keep in mind that I love Toph. She's awesome. So bear with me if I lapse into blatant partisanship. *turns and breaks the fourth wall* Here, Toph, have a cookie. Oh, hey, Aang. Umm... you can have a rock.

Anyway, I haven't decided on any pairings yet, so drop me a review if you have any ideas for me.

Looking up, Aang paused his music. His feet had dropped him without ceremony in front of the familiar iron gates. Lost in thought, he had not noticed the miles going by, and was surprised to find himself back at school for his second year. Sighing, Aang read the wrought words at the very peak of the gates: Tau Sha's School for Troubled Teens,

He was old enough now to know that "Troubled" was code for "Bending," but he knew better than to whisper the word, much less speak of it openly. If your heart was made of pure evil, you would spread a rumor that someone was bender, and watch as they were taken away. Sure, they would come back in a few months, but as a hollow husk of a person, all light gone from their eyes.

It was clear that the school was from a bygone era, all built from brick and iron (except, of course, for the east corner). It was from the time of segregation before the Great Inquisition, but now it was just a regular boarding school, its grassy quad filled with first-year students milling around, not knowing what to do with themselves.

Feeling a sense of accomplishment, Aang held his breath and marched out onto the grassy knoll, passing the confused-looking first-years before skipping up the steps to the dormitories, his backpack slung over one shoulder.

He started to walk up the stairs to his room, but decided mid-stride to head to the south wing to find his friends, Sokka and Katara. As he turned, an arm reached out and clotheslined him, knocking him to the ground

"Sorry, pal. Random luggage check."

Aang looked up in time to see a tall girl in a uniform yank the backpack from his arm. He quickly stood, anger boiling up from his stomach, but he just as quickly stepped back, taking a calming breath. Messing with a prefect on your first day always ended up being a severely dire mistake. They were known to hold grudges, and the administration encouraged them to use violence as punishment for "misconduct" however imaginary the transgression might be. Even if prefects, however, were flower unicorns whose most deadly attack was to spray rainbows out of their butts, Aang had other reasons not to get angry.

"You sure have a lot of orange clothes. What are you, an airbender?"

The girl standing to the prefect's right gasped at the racial slur, the other to her left sighed and said in a bored rasp,

"That's a little racist, don't you think, Azula?"

"Shut up, Mai, what do you know?"

"Just saying."

"Umm..." Aang interrupted, reaching for his disemboweled backpack.

"Whatever," Azula huffed, and, without a second glance at Aang, emptied the contents of his backpack onto the ground and stalked away, leaving one girl to hurry after her and the other to slouch languidly against the wall.

"Hey," she said noncommittally to Aang before getting up and moseying away.

Aang's cheeks turned red as his underwear and other personal effects were scattered across the hall by scurrying feet.

Aang raised his hand to knock on Katara's door, holding his breath. He hadn't seen her all summer, and was excited to talk to her again. She was the only one he could really talk to and trust, and he was looking forward to their long talks by the ponds. He knocked quickly, unable to contain his excitement, but to his disappointment, she wasn't in her room. Aang shrugged off the sinking in his heart.

Oh well. he thought She'll be back later.

Perking up, he trotted down the hall to the opposite wing where the boys lived and knocked enthusiastically on Sokka's door. A sleepy-eyed Sokka opened the door, his clothes rumpled and his ponytail undone.

"Do I know- Aang! Hey, buddy! You're not bald anymore! Did Gyatso stop all his monkeying around? Get it? 'Cause he's a monk?" He giggled at his own joke, but Aang squirmed uncomfortably.

"Can we talk about that later, Sokka? With Katara?"

"Hm?" Sokka eyed him quizzically, then shrugged. "Sure. Hey, do you want to come in and play Portal with me? Come on, classes don't start until tomorrow."

Aang started to decline, but stopped mid-word

What the hay.

"Sure, Sokka, why not?"

Well, that's it. I hope you like. I'm not going to pretend to not crave reviews the way any fanfiction writer does, so drop me a line.


~The Bad Mitton