A/N: Alright first attempt at an Avatar fiction, much less an AU fiction… basically I'm kinda working this thing out as I go so you'll have to bear with me. This first part is a preview of things to come much later on and not actually where the story begins. Enjoy and review, thanks! By the way Zuko needs a last name for this story so I'm going to go with Sozin, like the comet/fire lord…okay yeah. If anyone has any suggestions for last names for Aang, Katara, and Sokka that would make my life much easier!

Couplings: Zutara, Taang, Sukka.

Disclaimer: I don't own Avatar.

Katara watched horror stricken as the gun went off, the sound it made piercing the darkness and reverberating into the air. As soon as the weapon fired, her body had gone numb, ignoring her brain screaming at her to move. It was in that moment that she knew she was going to die. All at once a strangled cry erupted to her right and the next thing Katara knew there was a body in front of her, standing between herself and the murderous woman with the gun.

"NO!" she screamed, but it was too late. A hiss of pain escaped her savior's lips and he jerked backwards, staggering a couple of steps as the bullet made connection with his flesh.

It seemed to take him forever to fall, time moving in slow motion as he slowly tipped forward, his hands twitching in an unfulfilled effort to stop himself from hitting the pavement. Not that it would make much difference; he'd taken enough damage already. Katara's vision blurred as she took a hesitant step forward, her brain refusing to process what had just happened.

"My work here is done," Azula murmured, her hand still holding the smoking gun loosely at her side, her lips folded into a smug sneer. She could end the other girl's life right now, but how much better it would be to let her live with the pain of knowing that she'd stood and watched while the young man she'd loved died for her. Turning mutely the woman walked away, leaving her dying brother behind her. Katara barely noticed her exit.

"Please," she whispered, the pleading word leaving her lips like a prayer. Then she was running, her feet pounding on the cement below her as she raced towards the fallen boy.

"ZUKO!"

"Young man!" Zuko's head snapped off the desk and he found himself looking guiltily up into his mathematics' teacher's eyes. "It is obvious you already know the material I am teaching so well you see fit to sleep in my class instead of paying attention," Mrs. Yugoda snapped. The usually calm woman had finally lost her temper with the young man and his apparent lack of interest in the class. Zuko rapidly shook his head, trying to brush his long bangs out of his eyes as he opened his mouth to respond.

"N-no ma'am that's not it. I'm sorry, last night I had to help my unc-…"

"No excuses! I don't care if you are new here; we expect the same behavior from you as we do the rest of the students. Don't think I'm going to treat you differently just because you haven't been here as long," she told him. Zuko sighed and sank further into his seat. How could the old bat know that he'd like nothing more than to be treated the same as everyone else, to blend in…but some things just didn't come so easy.

It was rare for a student to transfer from the fire district and because of this Zuko attracted stares and whispers wherever he went. The water district wasn't nearly as extravagant as his old home and the young man found himself constantly being pestered with questions as to why he had moved to a 'lower class,' why he lived with his uncle and not his parents, and how in the world he had gotten that horrible scar on the left side of his face.

The young man had pointedly ignored all of these questions thus resulting in the other students drawing up conclusions of their own. Rumors had circulated quickly and the next thing Zuko knew he had recently been involved in a tragic fire that destroyed his family's house. Because of this, his mother and father had to work to save up money for the extensive necessary repairs, resulting in his uncle taking him under his wing and moving somewhere less expensive until reconstruction was complete. The story was definitely a far cry from what was really going on; none of their guesses were anywhere close to the actual truth of why he was here… Despite this, he went with the story in order to avoid anymore unwanted questions.

Yugoda clucked her tongue in annoyance yet thankfully moved back to the front of the room and continued writing equations on the board. Zuko let an inaudible sigh of relief slip from his lips and sank even farther into his chair, hoping that by doing so he would somehow escape the constant glares shot his way by the older woman. Hearing giggles to his right, Zuko turned his head only to see two of the girls in his class quickly drop their gaze, the tips of their mouths folded up into sappy grins.

Rolling his eyes Zuko returned his focus to the blank pages of his notebook, letting himself slip even farther down into his chair. Unfortunately he slouched a little too far this time as his feet suddenly slid forward and he was thrown off balance, his whole body tumbling out of the desk and landing on the floor in a heap.

"Mr. Sozin!" the teacher snapped as gales of laughter burst out from his classmates. At that moment Zuko wanted nothing more than to sink into the floor and disappear, to escape from the jeering faces, raucous laughter, and pointing fingers. Fate however, seemed to be on his side for the bell chose that moment to ring, ending the class period and releasing the students from their prison. Letting his classmates swarm around him in their mad dash to the door the young man rapidly picked himself up and shoved his notebook into the open red backpack at his feet. He had no recollection of what that day's lesson had been about.

"Excuse me, are you alright?" Startled, Zuko glanced up to see a pretty girl with long braided brown hair looking up at him, a math textbook clutched tightly in her arms.

"Uh, yeah…" the young man replied, averting his eyes as he leaned down to pick up his backpack, his face still beat red from that class period's humiliation. If his father had seen the way he'd behaved…

"…Song." Zuko blinked, only then realizing that the girl was still talking to him.

"Sorry what?" he asked, straightening up and trying to ignore the pointed glares he was receiving from Yugoda. Clearly she didn't want him in the room any more than he wanted to be there. The girl laughed and took two steps towards the door before pausing and looking back in his direction. It was only too obvious she was waiting for him and there was no way he could avoid the situation without being rude. It wasn't that he minded giving her the slip but his orders were to blend in as much as possible and being an outright jerk would only make him stand out all the more. Falling into step alongside her, Zuko suppressed an irritated sigh and left the math room behind him, making his way down the hallway.

"I was telling you before, my name's Song," the girl told him, a small smile flitting across her lips.

"Oh, um…Zuko," the boy responded dumbly. Song giggled.

"I know," she replied. An awkward pause followed this statement and Zuko found himself at a complete loss for words. This was the first time since he'd moved to the water district that someone had attempted to make conversation with him instead of just asking stupid questions. It wasn't that he didn't want to talk to anyone; he was just naturally not a people person and tended to shy away from relationships of any kind. He didn't have his sister Azula's confidence or ability to march up to a random stranger and literally demand their attention; somehow that never seemed to end well anyway. Song meanwhile, was still attempting to make conversation with the sullen new kid.

"So, do you miss the fire district?" she asked, jerking Zuko out of his stupor.

"Uh, yeah. Kind of I guess. Some of it," he answered choppily. A brief image of his girlfriend Mai flashed through his mind but he shook his head, refusing to let the picture linger there. He'd had no chance to tell her good bye before leaving and he knew she was probably hurt and angry. Hopefully she would understand some day. It was too much to hope that Azula had told her the true reason behind his motives for coming here.

"Well this is my class so…see you later, Zuko." Said boy blinked and glanced up to see Song standing outside of the chemistry classroom, the faint odor of chemicals wafting unpleasantly out into the hallway.

"Yeah, see you…" but Song had already disappeared inside. Sighing Zuko turned away, taking a left down the next intersecting hallway and arriving at the boy's locker room for gym, his next class of the day. Shaking his head to try and clear the lingering haze from his mind he entered the room

BAM! Zuko jumped backwards as he felt the door make contact with something most likely human, judging from the yowl he'd heard upon impact. Glancing down he saw a boy about his age sprawled on the floor, a slightly dazed expression on his face.

Zuko refrained from releasing a growl of annoyance at the constant stream of unfortunate incidents fate seemed to be throwing at him that day and instead considered his next course of action. Fortunately his decision was made for him as the boy suddenly sat bolt upright, his eyes narrowed accusingly in Zuko's direction.

"Ouch! What the heck was that for, you big jerk!" Zuko blinked, not expecting the sudden outburst.

"I didn't do it on purpose!" he snapped, a bit defensively as the boy got to his feet. He was tall but still about an inch shy of Zuko, his messy hair pulled back into a short ponytail and his expression set into one of blatant irritation. Despite his tough guy act however, Zuko got the feeling this kid wasn't really someone to be taken seriously.

"Heeeeeeey I know who you are! You're that new kid from the fire district aren't you?!" the boy suddenly exclaimed, slamming one fist into his open palm.

"Yeah," the young man responded, not bothering to hide the annoyance in his tone. Fortunately for him the other kid didn't seem to notice.

"Do you have a name oh mysterious fire district boy?" The blatant sarcasm was hard to miss, yet Zuko got the feeling the teen wasn't really irritated at meeting him.

"Zuko," he replied shortly.

"Sokka…charmed," the kid introduced, the edge of his mouth curving up into the slightest of smiles.

"Sokka come on lets go!" Said boy turned to where two of his classmates were beckoning him to hurry up, the perfect picture of impatience on their faces.

"Be right there, geez!" Sokka replied before turning back to Zuko. "I'll be seeing you. Hurry up, the bell's going to ring soon and try to avoid attacking any more innocent people with locker room doors." With those departing words he turned and headed to where his friends were waiting before disappearing into the gym. Zuko shook his head and grabbed the combination lock keeping his locker shut, wondering what other 'adventures' happened to lay in store for him.

…..

The rest of the day passed by unbearably slowly as far as Zuko was concerned. All he wanted was for the final bell to ring and release him from that dungeon of a high school. When the final bell did ring, the young man was the first to dash out of his history class to his locker, cram his textbooks onto the shelves, slam the door shut, and make a bolt for the door. Swerving around a corner the exit appeared in front of him like a picture out of heaven, the sun streaming through the transparent window, the perfect picture of freedom. So focused was he on putting as much distance between himself and the school as possible that he didn't notice the two girls walking out of Chong's English classroom until it was too late.

He glanced up just in time to crash into the girl on the right, knocking her clean off her feet and sending her textbooks flying all over the hallway. His backpack, which had only been half closed, jerked wildly, sending his papers and notebooks sailing out and onto the floor. To add to his already extreme embarrassment Zuko found himself losing his balance as well and toppling over, winding up directly on top of the girl. Startled golden eyes met ocean blue ones and it was in that instant that his life turned upside down.

Yeah so finished this chapter in my third hour study hall…nothing else to do in this class. Review please, I would really appreciate it. More of Zuko's "mission" will be revealed in the next chapter, basically as soon as I think of more ideas :P. Thank you very much!

~Phoenix