A/N EDIT: 05/25/2020 Hey everyone. Yes, as always, I have arrived at the final hour to bring to you an update... which will be coming at some point in the not so distant future. For now, please feel free to re-read the chapters I have posted as I chose to make some minor edits to a few of the details and characters as this time away from the story has given me time to reflect. And before you ask, yes I was inspired to continue this story after Avatar the Last Airbender was finally added to Netflix. Please enjoy.

A/N: I've returned after a very… very long hiatus and for leaving without warning, I'm terribly sorry. At first, I was caught up with school. It suddenly just thrust me into a spiral of work and stress. And rather than escaping the stress through writing, I kind of got more involved with tumblr and things got worse with my RP blog. Oops. Well, anyways, I'm back and starting off my return with a new story. Just a fair warning to older fans, I'll be updating some fanfics and deleting most others.

Now then, to introduce this story: This is an AU taking place in modern time in New York City. I'd also like to give a few shout outs. Thank you to Sablefalls for inspiring me. He/She is not just one of the best Azulaang writers, but also one of the best writers I know of period. If it wasn't for her/his fanfics, I wouldn't have been inspired to fall in love with this pairing as much as I have and my account would still just be here, collecting cobwebs.

Now, I have to give out special thanks to Lavenderhilllove, my beta reader. She has been my absolute best supporter. She's always there to give me a muse when I need it and her words of encouragement are what have kept this story going so far. Her criticisms and compliments are always so perfectly honest and precise that it helps me do the best that I can do thanks to her. She's not only the best help, but also worthy of being a best friend. I owe her a lot and together, we've kind of sailed the Azulaang ship around the seas and gained new crewmembers along the way. So, cheers to you for being so kind and helpful!

On with the story.

The office for the Central Intelligence Agency, more commonly known as the CIA, was on high alert as always. Papers flew everywhere, phones ringing, officers bustling about the room on their way to get something productive done or rather just blow off the day. It was complete organized chaos. This particular division, located in Manhattan, was on the 23rd floor of the Federal Plaza building. Despite having just a single floor of space, the flat was large enough to fit the fifty or so employees that worked there, committed to their daily duties and working studiously at desks when they weren't out chasing criminals. However, the field agents who were expected to do desk work by late afternoon mostly avoided paperwork at all costs until it was absolutely necessary. The only one who could get out of doing it was Toph Beifong.

She was a dedicated agent and a tough one at that. In fact, everyone had already assumed that when their current director chose to retire, she would rise through the ranks and take the open position. She was all about beating up the bad guys and the fact that she was blind didn't limit her at all when it came to tracking them down. This disability, which she played off so nonchalantly, was why she had no obligation to do her paperwork. Yet she was still expected to type out status reports every now and again. While she would normally be sitting in her office trying to toss paper into a wastebasket around this time of day, Toph was actually working and working fast. The change of usual routine didn't go unnoticed by coworkers who watched her frantically type on her Braille keyboard. By 4:30 she had finished and hurriedly stood up, wrapping her coat around her body to protect her against the January chills.

She turned to Marshall, a buff black man who normally accompanied her on missions but wasn't necessarily a 'partner' per se considering Toph, more or less, preferred working alone. "What time is it?" she asked

He pulled out his headphones and glanced at his watch. "Half past four but where are you-?"

"Perfect, I have enough time to make it to the airport. If the boss asks where I went, cover for me! Thanks!" And before he could even get out another word, she was out the door and waved her hand at the side of the street till a taxi stopped in front of her. As she stepped in, she felt around the car to make sure it had all the necessary parts of the backseats of taxis to make sure she wasn't stepping into some random vehicle. That would be highly inconvenient.

"Where to?" The man behind the wheel asked her in his thick accent.

"Lenox Hill Hospital and step on it." Toph ordered, holding out her badge to the driver who got the message and drove off swiftly into the busy road. She reached into her coat pocket and pulled out her phone then said into it, "Call Katara." The phone obeyed and she waited for the ringing to stop signaling that she had picked up. Once it did, all Toph said into it before hanging up was, "Be outside in ten minutes."

The cab came to a screeching stop in front of Lenox Hill hospital. Toph told the driver to honk a few times, much to the annoyance of passerby while impatiently tapping her foot. Eventually, a fit, tan and admittedly beautiful young woman in scrubs hurriedly got in the car with a bouquet of lilies. "Took you long enough, Sugar Queen. Take us to Newark." She said with a hint of annoyance while the car again drove faster than was safe in the roads of the big city.

"I actually work at work, Toph. I can't just get up and leave whenever I feel like! And why did you have to honk so many times? I told you I would be out soon before you hung up!"

"You were supposed to be out when I pulled up!"

"You were supposed to pick me up an hour ago!"

"Well… I had something important to do." This 'important thing' was a fist fight with a less than willing. Toph was a bit bruised, but the other guy... well, he'll likely be spending a few days in a hospital before being taken in. "Just be happy you're coming, Katara. You wouldn't have if I hadn't convinced you." For a moment, Katara bit her lower lip and hesitated before speaking as the car swerved left and right to pass the other vehicles crowding the narrow roads.

"Thank you for that, Toph… How do you think he'll react when he sees me?"

"I don't know. I mean, the guy has always been like a puppy. He'll probably scoop us up into hugs. Don't worry so much." Katara laughed softly at that.

"Yeah, probably. What did you need him for again?"

"That's classified, Sugar Queen." A scowl formed on Katara's face. Toph had refused to reveal anything regarding this other than the fact that she managed to convince him to come back. It had been five long years since she had last seen him and she could only wonder how he had changed in all this time.

They were together since her senior year in high school. When she went off to college, they didn't grow distant. He visited her every weekend without fail and their love grew. He had tried to join her at Harvard but those were expectations he couldn't meet and he just ended up attending the University of New York. They grew distant after that. He was too busy with his schooling and so was she. They barely got to meet but he had never stopped loving her. Katara on the other hand, didn't believe their relationship would survive. For two years, they desperately tried to reconcile and get back to the closeness they had once shared but it just didn't happen to her. For a long while before her graduation, she debated what she should do. Eventually, Katara chose to end it and thought that if it was in their fate, they would end up together again.

But after their break up in college, he had dropped out and decided to join the Peace Corps. Last she heard of him, he was traveling the world, lending a helping hand in any and every way he could. Katara always loved that about him… He always wanted to be a hero and to bring a light to a seemingly humanity-deprived world. Katara became lost in memories of what she called the 'Golden Days' when they were all together; those years before they had parted ways.

It seemed that she had been lost in her musings and nostalgia for decades, absentmindedly staring out at the buildings and cars as they flashed by, only to be snapped out of her trance when the taxi came to a jerking halt, throwing her against the front seat. "Come on, Sugar Queen! We have to be there right when he steps off that plane!" Toph said to her before paying the driver extra for his suitable speed and running into the airport. Katara followed suit and took Toph's hand once she caught up with her.

Newark Liberty International airport had to be one of the most crowded and busy airports in the country. Considering New York was a breeding ground for businesses and tourists, the airports were always filled no matter what day of the year. Somehow, they managed to push past the hoards of people returning and leaving and disrupted lines of people waiting to buy their tickets. Katara guided them to notice board where a mass of people were huddled together. She pushed her way through and searched the list of arrivals.

"There!" Katara said pointing to the plane that had just landed ten minutes ago from Chad. Katara immediately pulled Toph along with her to the left atrium of the overwhelmingly large airport. She paused to avoid running into vehicles carrying passengers, trolleys and large groups of travelers much to Toph's annoyance.

"We'll miss him if we go at this pace, Sugar Queen!" Toph yelled before she pushed on ahead of her and roughly cleared the way.

"Wait! Toph! You don't even know which way to go!" Katara called after her as she apologized to the people she shoved away while trying not to lose her.

"Just tell me how to get there!" With a sigh of frustration at Toph's usual antics, Katara tried to keep up and told her when to turn left or right. She didn't need guidance on how to avoid things. Toph had this uncanny ability to sense every single little thing around her. She hated having to rely on people but more than that, she had despised how her parents had treated her like an injured bird her entire childhood. She chose to defy the unjust card dealt to her by fate. Late at night, she would sneak out of her room and walk around, feel the ground under her feet. She would sense every movement; every vibration course through her blood till the earth became a part of her being. Although she couldn't go out in the world shoeless, Katara did gift her with thin, durable shoes meant to help her feel her surroundings and kick ass - no sight needed. All on her own, she had turned her blindness into an advantage that allowed her to see things others could not and over the years at honed this ability into a sort of superpower.

Toph and Katara tried not to get carried away by the swarm of people or get stopped by security for the chaos they were leaving in their path. The way that they dropped down suitcases, pushed away people, and hopped over obstacles made it look like they were running an Olympic marathon. They had no intent of slowing down for nothing get in their way.

They had been waiting so long for this and had lacked proper communication with him for years. The first year after his departure, they didn't get a single response from him and assumed he would need his alone time. No one even knew where he was deployed since he refused to reply to the messages they mailed to the Peace Corps, hoping it would reach him. Eventually, he started making periodic calls with long intervals in between but he would tell them of a few of his adventures. Yet Katara never got the chance to speak to him. Or more so, didn't want to face him but a while ago she had realized just how much she had to see him… how much she was dying to just hear his voice again… how much she wanted to tell him she was sorry. It wasn't until Toph had proposed something to him that he promised to return the following year. And at last, they would be reunited.

Once at the gate, Katara watched while people waited to meet their loved ones once more. Passengers began flooding out of the terminal, running to those waiting for them. The tide of arrivals eventually began to wane and Katara took a moment to catch her breath. When she looked back up, the door was closing and not a single familiar face had appeared.

"Did you see him?" Toph asked.

"No…" Katara responded dejectedly, still desperately searching over the crowd of people.

"Wait… that can't be right." Toph said with her brows furrowed. "He promised he would be here! He always keeps his promises!" Katara pursed her lips and thought for a bit.

"Maybe… maybe he missed his flight." She offered, hopefully.

"No, he would have called and told me! He isn't the type to break promises." Toph insisted crossing her arms over her chest before she stiffened in shock. 'Wait a second! I know those light footsteps anywhere!'

Suddenly they each felt a hand on their shoulder and heard a gentle, husky voice spoke from behind them, "I'm definitely not the type to break a promise." Slowly, the girls turned around and were greeted by a familiar, friendly face. The man was tall and handsome, with sharp features and grey eyes so warm and loving that they could melt the coldest heart. He had a thin beard along his jaw line and scruffy, short dark brown hair. He stood out from the crowd with his features so kind that they were breathtaking. Not to mention his attire consisting of red skinny pajamas, brown boots, and a yellow silk robe tied together by a red sash made him look even more foreign. But what especially distinguished him, from probably just about everyone in the world, were the light blue arrows that started at his hands and continued down the length of his arms. If one were to take off his clothing, they would see that this arrow stretches down the length of his back and legs, like some sort of serpent winding along his body.

Toph and Katara just stood there silently, shock and curiosity mixing into a single emotion of befuddlement. The young man blinked at them and waved his hand in front of their eyes, unsure of what to do. Katara's lips slowly turned upwards into a smile and her deep blue eyes began to brim with tears as she whispered softly, "Aang…" Meanwhile, Toph's expression of wonderment turned to pure rage. She threw a hard punch at his gut, causing him to grunt and hold his stomach in pain.

"THAT'S FOR LEAVING US FOR YEARS, TWINKLE TOES!" she screamed at him with her hands firmly on her hips. Katara gasped and threw her a glare.

"Toph!" she scolded her but didn't receive even the slightest hint of regret.

Rather, Toph just shrugged and said calmly, "He deserved it, he knows he does."

Katara was about to argue again before Aang started laughing and grabbed them both into a tight hug. "She's right, I did… And I'm sorry. I missed you all so much." he whispered softly. They both wrapped their arms around him and held him tighter.

"We missed you too, Airhead." Toph replied before pulling away. "Come on. We need to catch up and you and I have to talk." Aang nodded and walked alongside Katara while Toph led the way, assuming she remembered which way she had turned. Katara nervously played with her hair and stared at the ground, not knowing what to say or how to begin. A sort of awkwardness still existed between them. Perhaps, she was the only one feeling it but judging by the way Aang looked off anywhere but at her said otherwise. She cleared her throat until he looked at her and handed him the bouquet of white lilies. They were his favorite.

He gave her a sweet smile, one that she had missed and wrapped an arm around her shoulder, pulling her into a tight hug. "Thanks, Katara. I haven't seen anything like these in a while."

She had so many questions to ask him about his adventures; where he had gone, what he had seen… but all she managed to say was, "I like your hair." Aang gave her a quizzical look for a second before realization dawned on him.

"Oh yeah! I always had my hair shaved, huh? Well, I never really had time to cut it much. It's growing on me now - get it?" he said with a cheeky grin. Katara rolled her eyes. Between his bad jokes and her brother's, she was often overwhelmed. She still wanted to ask him a hundred questions but that would come later when they all made it home. Katara fondly remembered days they would hang in each other's flats, talking and joking till the sun came up. Those were the Golden Days.

It was nearly 7 o'clock by the time they had reached Toph's apartment and once they finished recollecting the past five years over a nice dinner, it was well past midnight. Aang had told countless tales of his travels. He had spent the past five years in third world countries building schools, aiding in agricultural development, and just recently helping genocide refugees from Darfur find a home. It was work that never ended and left him with so many lessons as well as mental scars. Many horrendous sights would plague him for the rest of his life. But he learned to live with them because with every heartbreaking sight, he was more encouraged to continue doing what he was doing.

Aang became incredibly active with the Peace Corps and had hundreds of stories to share. He had taught English to children in Ethiopia, developed new crops for economic growth in Ukraine, and built homes for the nomadic people of Mongolia. Along the way, he had made many friends, mostly children who loved his own childish personality. He learned so much about himself in this 'journey of self discovery' as he called it. Of course, he couldn't list every little thing he had done because that would definitely take weeks to recount at least.

Katara had to leave some time around midnight since she had work in the morning, leaving Aang and Toph alone at last. Toph sat there for a moment, her arms crossed over her chest with a smirk on her face. "Well, Twinkle Toes looks like you've become a man now. Not that I can really see the change or anything, but from the feel of it, you've changed." He laughed timidly and rubbed the back of his neck.

"Thanks, I guess. You changed a lot too. That tomboy stage seems to have passed." Toph had always loved sports even though she couldn't watch them but just feeling the action unfold with her feet was enough for her. But wrestling had always been a pastime she enjoyed. In fact, she was a bit of a wrestler herself. Whenever Aang or any of her friends, really, would get harassed or bullied, she was the one who would put a pummeling on them. Aang didn't expect her to have such a great womanly form and face and as far as he could see, she wasn't even wearing makeup but still looked fairly attractive.

"Oh, please. You and I both know that will never pass. I beat up bad guys for a living, for god's sake."

"Good point. How is that going for you, anyway?"

"It's a bit more hectic than usual. I kind of wanted to talk to you about that… and you know what I'm talking about." The mood suddenly darkened. It went from nostalgic bliss to a grave intensity. All Aang knew from what Toph had told him was that she may have a resolution to the problem that had been plaguing him since he was twelve.

"You found out… who killed my people?" Aang whispered, staring at her with a coldness coming over his usually cheery eyes. Toph took a deep breath before answering. This was a touchy topic for Aang and few knew of the fact… few knew of his past.

He had been a monk living in the mountains of China till the age of twelve. They taught him everything he knew from spirituality, to loving all things, to the ancient martial arts style of Buguazhang. With the other monks of his age, he'd hike up the mountain in under twenty minutes, and crawl back down on his hands and knees. The afternoon was advanced Baguazhang martial arts training in which he thoroughly excelled head and shoulders above the rest his age. And till dusk, the training and meditation would continue, training his mind and body to endure the harshest strain and as he aged, Aang remained top of his class. At eleven, he was given the arrow tattoos that were custom to their tradition – marks only given to those with wisdom beyond their years and who had reached a significant level of spiritual enlightenment. Though it would take anyone else years to attain such marks, Aang was given them very early on from the amount of potential he displayed.

The monks had told him that he was left at the door of the monastery as a baby. All that came was an envelope with the words, "Take care of Aang." There was no surname written so the monks decided on one for him when he was eight. They could see that the unique young boy was destined for great things. He had such a way with words and people and had a creative mind and a heart more spirited than any known animal. He was like a reincarnation of a pure divinity with not the slightest touch of evil in his heart and they could have sworn he was a character straight out of their old texts. Thus, they named him Aang Chuánqí, 'Aang, One of Legend.' The name was picked for him by his favorite teacher, Gyatso. Aang saw him as the father he never had. He loved him more than anyone. All the monks raised him with love despite the fact that he didn't look as completely Asian as they did. Sometimes though, his playful antics were met with strict reprimands. Although never from Gyatso; he let Aang learn from his mistakes. Because of him, Aang had grown to love the peaceful and serene lifestyle of the monks and couldn't dream of anything better.

But his safe haven came crumbling down the day helicopters, machines he had never seen, flew overhead the temple that had become his home. Down came men carrying guns and tools of mass destruction. Aang had never explained the event in complete detail. He only described it as genocide, plain and simple. As he ran away from the sounds of bullets and screaming, he tripped over bodies of teachers and friends and somehow ended up coated in the blood of his brothers. They didn't last long at all. His peaceful people, with only their defensive techniques in martial arts, could do little against the modern technology of these new invaders. His home was burned to the ground. Only a handful of boys escaped with him. On the trek of many miles to get to China, he lost most of the survivors to thirst, hunger, or the bites of poisonous creatures. By the time they were discovered by a man driving to meet his mother in the country, Aang, a boy who was barely alive, and another with just enough energy to trudge were the only ones left.

They spent months in a hospital in Hong Kong. Their existence was kept secret as it was feared that whoever executed the cleansing would surely want to leave no trace. No one knew who had been responsible for the attack or what the reasoning behind it was. Aang was the first to recover and was immediately sent to an orphanage. He had begged to stay with his brothers but he was told that they would be joining him soon. However, a family from America quickly offered to take the boy in. He later found out that he was the only one to recover. Aang was the last of the Tibetan monks.

Toph said she had a lead of some sort to this tragic event in his past. It was vague but it was something. There was hope in him that fourteen years later, he may find the people responsible and bring them to justice.

"It's not much to go on…" she said at last. "But a mafia of sorts has formed a strong presence in New York and it seems to be expanding far beyond that every day. Their roots trace back to Asia, likely where they got their start. We know very little about them and the CIA can't get any information about them from security services in the countries they are currently known to have operated in. They refuse to share information. Who knows why…?" Toph paused for a moment and took a long swig of her glass of red wine. "With what little we know of them, they've likely been operating for quite some time and just started becoming noticeable in the U.S. about… three or so years ago. They're known to be guilty of drug smuggling, fraud, thievery on mass levels, government corruption, and get this… mass murder."

She quieted and let all of it sink in for Aang. There were far more details that were involved with this investigation but she only included what was necessary for him to know. Besides, she didn't know much herself. Toph was usually given the most mandatory of details through her director and was sent into the midst of danger with what she knew. But in this particular case, intelligence and anonymity was required more than brute force that she could offer.

"Mass murder… well, that could mean anything, really. Are you sure it's -?"

"I told you, Twinkle Toes. It's not much but it fits. I personally don't know what reason a gang desiring money and maybe even world domination would want with having conducted a suicide of peaceful people but leads like this have never come up."

"Okay, well even if it is all true… What part do I play in it? You said you needed my help with this" When Aang had received the call when he was in Nepal, Toph had told him very little information. From what she had told him, the FBI and CIA couldn't get the job done but he could. That had left him completely confused. He wasn't really a fighter especially given that the only martial arts style he mastered was the defensive baguzhang style, courtesy of the monks and his adoptive parents who insisted that it would be good for him to continue practicing it.

"Besides the fact that FBI and CIA agents never return when they go undercover to investigate," Toph said with a grimace, "We needed more discreetness in our approach to find out about them. What better person for the job than a hippie monk who's been disconnected from the world for years?"

"Wait, don't return? What do you mean?" Aang tried to mask the panic in his fight but he knew it was futile with Toph who could hear and sense every emotion running through a person.

"As in poof; never seen again. We're assuming they may be able to track down background information of agents and know whose who when they see them. Maybe they capture them and kill them or give them a chance to become one of them. It's all one big mystery. But you… you have no past records. All you have is your adoption papers, school records, and then work in the Peace Corps. I would know, I've checked."

"Wait wait wait…" Aang said, massaging his temples from confusion of what exactly she may mean by all this. "You're telling me… that I'm going to be working undercover for the CIA to… gather information on these people? That could be dangerous." He reasoned but not with fear in his voice but more with apprehension. "And what if I have to hurt someone?"

"Aang, I talked with my director who talked to head of the division about this. It's a fair plan and they're willing to give it a chance. We know Their base operates here in New York City. We have a few names and pictures of suspects. All you need to do is attend a couple of shady hang outs which could be restaurants, clubs, parties and stuff. Did I mention these people are filthy rich? You can get yourself into some pretty awesome places."

"Toph, that's not my main concern. What I'm worried about is what if they see right through me?"

"They won't." She said with complete confidence. "And besides, the only reason I was allowed to let a friend of mine take such a top secret, confidential mission is because I told them everything about that day and what you've been through since. People think we authorities don't have sympathy and we don't really… but that's for criminals." She said with a short chuckle and another swig of her drink. "But it's more than their sympathy for you. You were only twelve at the time but you've been looking into this case for years. You've gathered things about the people who conducted the genocide and if these are those people, you have an advantage that no one else will have. They fit the crime and I know that all that time with that peace organization didn't take away that drive you had to find out what happened all those years ago."

There was a long pause after this and Aang absorbed every bit of information. Toph had somehow convinced her director that Aang was best suited for going undercover and gathering intelligence on a gang that had been operating in the United States for maybe over three years, were known to be highly dangerous, and who captured and got rid of anyone that tried to catch them. After sixteen years, Aang had actually lost hope for finding the people responsible for that dramatic turn in his life and he just stopped searching. He felt that it was hopeless. But Toph was right. Despite all the time that had passed and his lack of motivation in more recent years, he wanted to know who did it and this small flicker of hope for justice long overdue could very possibly be just what he had been waiting for.

A part of Aang felt that this was all a dream… The idea that at last he was taking a step in learning about that day was something he hadn't thought of in so long. He had to keep trying for his people. He looked straight at Toph, took a deep sigh, and finally replied, "I'll do it."

That's all for the first chapter, hope you enjoyed. I promise it will get a lot more interesting in later chapters.