It had Uncle's idea for him to instruct the Kyoshian in the art of firebending. "Being a teacher, nephew," Uncle had said, "allows a person to learn things they thought they already knew."
That was how Uncle had sold the idea to him. Teaching a beginner the fundamentals of firebender would supposedly give him new insight into the art. It'd also teach the Kyoshian a modicum of self-control. Zuko had forbidden the crew from giving her any more pillows and blankets to ruin. She'd just keep setting them on fire in her sleep.
The first week's lessons had resulted in none of that.
"She's an arrogant, ill-tempered brat! All I want to do is help her but she just ignores whatever I say! She even gets angry at me for showing concern! I can't even offer her tea without sparking a fight! And ancestors forbid you criticize the people who banished her, like they're worthy of any respect." Snarling, Zuko punched a wall, leaving a dented scorch mark. Rage vented, he bowed his head. "I'm supposed to be her sifu, but all I feel like I am is a failure. What would you do in my position, Uncle?"
Uncle drank from his teacup for a very long time. When he finally set the cup, he spread his hands out on the table before him and mildly replied, "That is quite the conundrum, Prince Zuko. I do not think I have ever faced a situation exactly like that before."
Zuko sighed. It figured that when he needed advice the most, Uncle would have no practical experience in the subject at hand.
"But," Uncle added, raising a finger, "I believe the best thing you can do is offer Suki your unconditional support and friendship. She is going through a very difficult time in her life right now. She may not appreciate it now, or maybe ever, but your support will help her recover from the terrible trauma she has experienced."
"So I should just indulge her bad habits? That's no solution!"
"You need to do whatever you think is right by her, Prince Zuko, but I believe she is only angry at you because you and your lessons are a safe outlet for her pain. The memory of what her loved ones did to her is too raw. Until she accepts for herself what happened and heals, an easy target will help your student to not leave that rage to fester inside her heart."
He sat down across from his Uncle. Suddenly he very much needed a cup of tea. "Teaching is a lot harder than I expected. I thought it was just practicing forms and breathing exercises. I didn't realize there was all this people stuff."
"Teaching can be difficult, but it can also be rewarding. Have faith in yourself, nephew. I do."
"If I ever act half as bad as Suki does, you can slap me upside the head. I'd deserve it."
Uncle poured himself a very large cup of tea. "I don't think that will be necessary, Prince Zuko."