Chapter 1: Comfort
"I would just find it comforting, if you had them while I was gone." Bolin traces the characters until he could write them from memory alone.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
The sound was unfamiliar still, the rub of the chain on his neck noticeable, almost annoying. He could just take them off while he trained, he knew, but that seemed to defy the point. He'd get used to them. He had plenty of time, after all.
“Bolin, could I have a moment?”
In the shower, they were awkward. He had to lift the chain to scrub his neck, and it kept tangling in his fingers as he scrubbed his chest.
He could take them off here, he guessed. Iroh never wore them in the shower, just left them hanging on the hook in the bedroom beside the rest of his uniform.
But Iroh wasn't here.
“It's a silly tradition, among the military. I don't expect you know it, and I understand if you don't want to.”
When he was getting into uniform, he considered them for only a second before he tucked them under his shirt, before putting his jacket and helmet on. They certainly couldn't get in the way like this, tucked snugly against his chest, hanging right over his heart.
He wondered why they made them this length, if that was deliberate.
“Only, I've never asked anyone.”
He found himself playing with them, when he was sitting still. Unconsciously tugging on them or rubbing the two tags together. They were scratched, he saw, as he memorized every one, and wondered how they got there, if that was just the usual wear and tear.
He ran his fingers over the raised characters, until his fingers knew them by heart.
“And it's not like you actually have to wear them, if you don't want to.”
In his lonely bed, he kept stretching out by accident, forgetting he wasn't in his apartment, in the big bed. Which didn't explain why he kept expecting to feel his arm under his fingers, or why he kept waking up to silence, and being puzzled by it. His mind knew he was alone.
His heart still hadn't caught up with the rest of the class.
“I would just find it comforting, if you had them while I'm gone.”
Under the moonlight shining in his window, he traced the characters that made up Iroh's name, nationality, service number, and bending designation for the thousandth time.
Eighty-nine more nights, he counted. Over halfway there.
A/N In case there was confusion, Iroh has given Bolin his dog tags to wear while he's away on deployment. It's a fairly common practice to leave a pair with a loved one, such as a spouse or a child, when one is gone. I have my dad's, right now, and they do give me some comfort.
Chapter 2: Protection
Mako wants to have a talk with Iroh about their mutual interests.
A/N This is K rating, with no warnings to apply.
Iroh paused in the doorway of his office, surprised.
“Hey,” Mako said, a hitch of his chin. He was sitting in one of the chairs opposite Iroh's desk, a police uniform on, though his red scarf was still wound around his neck.
“Is there something I can help you with?” He asked, as he stepped inside, shutting the door behind him. It wasn't that he was unhappy to see Mako, only that he wasn't exactly the brother he'd been expecting to have visit him. The ship had just docked that morning, and they were still settling in, but he had hoped to have a visitor by the evening.
“Figured it was time we had a talk. You being in port, and all.”
Iroh came around so that they were facing each other, leaning back on his desk, his arms folded across his chest. “What do we need to have a talk about?”
Mako looked up at him, then away. “You know what.”
So that was what this was about. He had been a bit suspicious, but he hadn't wanted to assume. “Bolin.”
“You and him have been writing to each other.” Mako didn't seem exactly displeased with that, just uncomfortable, or maybe unsteady was the more accurate term. Like he wasn't sure how to proceed. “And he really likes you. But you already know that.”
Iroh waited, instead of responding.
“You know that Bo is only seventeen.” Mako said, after a moment, standing now, and walking over to the shelves along the wall. They had doors on the front, tightly bolted, in case of storms or rough waters. Or battle.
“I know how old he is.” It was a ten-year age gap, Iroh was well aware, and it had honestly made him a little uneasy at first. He didn't want to take advantage of Bolin's youth by getting him involved with something he wasn't ready for. Bolin had made his case though, when he'd confessed that, had told him that assuming what he could and could not handle was a mistake. He was young, but he wasn't naïve.
Mako turned back to him, his face serious. “My brother is the only family I have.”
“I know that, too.”
The other man adjusted his scarf, then raked a hand through his hair. “Bo likes everyone. He falls in love at the drop of a hat.” He smiles, but it's fond, exasperated even. “But that's not what's going on here, with you. He means it this time.”
“If it helps,” Iroh said, not sure what he was supposed to say. “I mean it, too.”
He meant it when he wrote to Bolin, and told him his letters brightened his evenings, gave him something to look forward to. He meant it when he wrote that talking to Bolin helped him think better, helped him get a perspective that wasn't a uniform's. He meant it when he wrote that Bolin was the first person he thought of now, when something interesting happened, or something humorous, or tragic. Bolin was the one he wanted to tell everything to. He was the first person he thought of when he woke, and the one he thought of when falling asleep.
He meant it all.
“Yeah. That's the impression I've gotten.” Mako replied. “He wouldn't get this bad without encouragement.”
Again, Iroh waited, to see what else Mako had to say to him.
“I like you, you know. I've got no problem with him wanting to start something with you. But if he does, you're going to be the first person who could actually hurt him, and make it stick.” Mako shoved his hands in his pockets, and looked Iroh right in the eye. “So I'm telling you now, don't do it. Maybe I can't do anything to you. You could kick my ass with one hand, I'm sure, and you've got other factors in your favor.” Like a whole division at his disposal, and a title he didn't particularly want. “But trust me, I will find a way to protect my little brother.”
Iroh smiled at him, and nodded. “Understood.”
Mako nodded back. “Good. I've got to get back to my patrol.” Before he left though, he paused at the door. “He won't admit it, but he loves the city orchestra. We used to sneak on the roofs near it when we were kids, and listen.” Iroh hadn't known that, had assumed Bolin liked loud, rowdy music like his crew, like him. Not that he hated more classical pieces. “They're doing a big compilation tonight. A lot of his favorites. You should take him.”
“Thank you for the advice.” He wondered how hard it would be to find tickets on such short notice, but then Mako pulled an envelope out of his jacket, and handed it over. “You really thought this out.”
“Yeah, well.” Mako shrugged. “He's my brother.”
Chapter 3: Devotion
Iroh writes letters to Bolin, during his deployment.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
A seven month deployment was nothing to laugh at, when you thought you might be in love. Mail was infrequent, out in the open water, hawks lost to storms and tradewinds, only to determinedly finish their missions three months later.
Sometimes Iroh had no time, honestly, and would put it off, tired and annoyed at the world. But then no letters from Bolin would come, the man patiently waiting for Iroh's reply, and Iroh would have to write him, desperate for a letter of his own. Bolin's letters were the one connection he had with the outside world, a lifeline to remind himself that somewhere out there, there was a man in an apartment who had never had to see the less peaceful side of peacekeeping, who had never had to judge whether someone lived or died for their crimes. When he read Bolin's letters, simple accounts of his daily life, his training, of something annoying Mako had done, he felt like he was just a man.
He had so much to measure up to. But not with Bolin.
Today there was a fire down in the harbor, and if you can believe it, it was totally some waterbenders. They were trying to spread the oil for the street lamps, and one was smoking. It was crazy. I thought Lin was going to kill them on the spot with just her eyes.
Four months in, he had to lead three of his ships against a roving band of pirates who had been robbing the fishing village of a small archipelago. It was not as heroic as Bolin would have probably thought. The pirates turned out to be from another island chain to the north. When the poison tide had hit their shores, they'd turned to pirating to feed their families.
It was with a heavy heart that he had the leader executed, but a sad story did not excuse his crimes, and some of them were less noble than feeding the starving.
The others he had bound in chains and press-ganged into the Navy. They had no desire to serve the United Forces, but they were sailors, and it was all he could think of to help without pardoning them. Even then, the people wronged were displeased, and their leader brought forth complaints of him being too soft.
“If I have them all executed,” He explained. “Their children will starve.”
The man had not been swayed. “That's not our problem.” He spat, his dark eyes furious.
“No.” He replied. “It's mine.”
That night, the letter he wrote to Bolin was full of self-flagellation, as he poured out his grief over having had to do it, of the way average people could turn bloodthirsty, even against a man so ragged and thin Iroh could have counted his ribs. Still, he had looked Iroh in the eye, he wrote, had not wanted a blindfold for the firing squad. He had died with his head held high.
Sometimes I wish I had chosen a different path. He wrote. The things I have to do, they follow me into sleep. He was sure he would dream of the pirate's face tonight, was sure he would hear the cries of his anguished followers in every nightmare he ever had.
You didn't make him do it. Bolin wrote back. He knew what he was doing was wrong. He knew he'd get caught eventually. You did your job, and it sucks. And you helped the rest as best you could. You're doing your best. He really was. You don't have to explain that to me, okay?
A month later, a dispute that had started between two islands about the line of territory became an all out battleground, and by the time they arrived, the once crystal clear water was full of burning ships and bodies floating, their blood attracting predators from the depths, to drag them under.
His crew did their best to clean things up. That was all that was left to do, really.
They found a young girl, maybe twelve or thirteen, still clutching the kitchen knife in her hand, curled in the corner, shaking, her eyes wide. The soldier, if he could be called that, lay on the floor, his blood congealed over the wounds in his stomach.
One of his gunner mates, a young woman from the Earth Kingdom, managed to coax her out after an hour, and as she cried in her arms, he saw the blood between her thighs.
He had never felt more useless in his life, as she sobbed.
Sometimes, he wrote that night. I want to hole up in the apartment with you, and pretend the world outside doesn't exist anymore. When I'm with you, I feel like I'm whole again.
The letter that followed lightened him just a little.
We can do that. The restaurants around the apartment do delivery, you know.
For a time, there was quiet, as they made their rounds, but the quiet was never good, really. Quiet made his crew edgy, made them start to worry that something worse was coming. No one was as superstitious as those that made their life by the ocean's whims.
It was almost a relief when the storm blew up.
His waterbenders went to work alleviating the worst of it, as his metalbenders steered the ship hard, keeping it on course, despite the sea and her force. In the middle of the worst of it, all of them worked as one to keep her from throwing them about like a toy, and they reached that beautiful, harmonious moment, when they were no longer humans and a ship. All of them, were a hive, the ship their home, a part of them, and it felt like she was doing her best to help them, to keep them all alive.
When one of his firebenders was swept overboard, there was no panic. Two waterbenders, in perfect unison, swept the man back on board, the sea giving him up with reluctance.
Watching them all, he felt their hearts beat in time, and he breathed easy.
Morning dawned hazy with mist, until the sunlight burned through it. The sea was as gentle as a new mother on the sides, as though she were apologizing for her temper the night before. His exhausted crew laughed, and joked, and still, he felt it, that thread that connected them all, that fierce, undying love that they all held in their hearts. It was more than just a uniform, more than just ranks and weapons and training. They belonged to the Navy, and thus, the sea. She was their loving mother and their angry mistress and she was, above all things, home.
He had to take in a deep breath, as the words he had said rang through him again the way they had all those years ago.
"I am a United Forces Sailor. I will support and defend the United Forces, and I will obey the orders of those appointed over me. I represent the fighting spirit of the Navy and those who have gone before me to defend freedom and life around the world. I proudly serve the United Force Navy with Honor, Courage and Commitment. I am committed to excellence and the fair treatment of all." He recited, quietly, to himself, and the ocean. Those words were more than that. They were everything, he thought. They were in his bones, his blood, his breath.
Maybe it's strange, for a firebender to say this, but I love the ocean. No matter how cruel she is at times, I still feel like she loves us, in her own way. I can't imagine not being out at sea now, or rather, I don't want to. It feels like it would be torture, confined like that. I can't imagine not being anything but who I am. I can't imagine not serving the United Forces.
He didn't know how Bolin would take that. Deployments were hard on a relationship, and he didn't want Bolin to start re-thinking this. But at the same time, he needed him to understand his devotion, that no matter how hard it was, how heavy the weight on his shoulders became, he could never leave. He could never be anything else. He didn't know how anymore. He didn't want to know.
The letter he got in return relieved that.
I feel the same away about the city. It's weird. I can't imagine being away from her for long. I think she'd miss me. I know I'd miss her. So it's a good thing the apartment is by the Bay, right? We're both happy when you're here with me, and this way, I can talk to her, make sure she's taking good care of you while you're out saving the world. I can't imagine you ever not being who you are. You're a sailor, fancy title or not. Only Bolin would call it a fancy title. Just remind the ocean that you're my sailor, too. She doesn't get all of you, all the time.
Two more months, he thought. Seven months was not a short deployment, but neither was it the longest he would have, he knew.
He was pretty sure it was going to be okay though.
The United Forces creed was adapted from the United States Navy's creed.
Chapter 4: Rumors
Iroh's older sister has been hearing rumors. Lots of them.
K rating, nothing to be concerned about.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“So.” Bolin repeated, twiddling his fingers anxiously.
Iroh's older sister was built as delicately as a doll. Honestly, Bolin was a little scared to touch her. His thumb and index finger could easily overlap on her tiny wrist, and her skin was paler than Asami's. Her clothing was silky and fluttery, and even he knew it was expensive, cut to fit her miniature body.
She was also kind of terrifying.
“There have been rumors.”
“Rumors?” She really made him nervous. She had this way of looking at him, like she was considering what to do with him. And Iroh had told him about the time she had hung their brother out the window by his ankle for cutting her doll's hair. “What rumors would those be, your highness?”
She sighed. “Once again, you can call me Ursa.”
“Um. Right.” He'd get right on that. “So...rumors?”
“That this isn't just a birthday party for my brother.”
Oh. Those rumors. Right. “Right.” He said, feeling like an idiot even as he did. “Um. Hm.”
“Oh, spirits and ancestors.” She swore, rolling her eyes. “This is how I find out. Really? This is how Iroh lets me know? Through some rumor?” She didn't raise her voice, or anything like that, but somehow, Bolin knew she was absolutely, without a doubt, completely and totally furious. “I'm going to kill him.” Even that was calm. That was really neat. He wondered if they taught you that in crown princess school.
It occurred to him that he should probably explain. “He wanted it to be a big surprise.”
“Iroh knows I hate surprises.”
Bolin kind of wanted to be somewhere else. Anywhere else. Anywhere at all. Even the North Pole. Even the South Pole, where all they had was Water Tribe food and nothing to do but read. “I think it's meant more to be a surprise to your mom and dad.”
“Oh, I know what he's doing. He's making a big, public announcement, where neither of them can make a fuss.” She narrowed her eyes. “He's craftier than I give him credit for.”
“He is a general.”
Ursa waved her hand dismissively. “And the next time I need someone to take out a few flying machines, I'll call him. But when it comes to court politics, he's about as clever as a turtle duck. Every now and then, those gears in his head turn, and I'm amazed every time.”
“I think that's a little unfair.”
She turned to him, one perfect eyebrow arched. “Don't tell me whether or not I'm being unfair to my brother. I grew up with the lot of them, not you.”
“You hung them out windows.” Bolin pointed out.
“What?” Ursa actually appeared confused for a moment, before she rolled her eyes and huffed. “Oh, that. Did Iroh mention it was the last thing Aunt Ty Lee gave me before she died? And Lu Ten ruined it?” This was actually the most emotion he'd ever heard in her voice. “I loved that doll. It was a Kyoshi Island Warrior. Aunt Ty Lee had her own hair put in it.”
Bolin blinked at the sulking princess. “You really are Iroh's sister.”
“What's that supposed to mean?” She demanded, before crossing her arms over her chest. “This is just like Iroh. He decides all of this without ever thinking about how it will effect the rest of us. How it reflects on me.”
“Wait, what does this have to do with you?”
“I'm going to be Fire Lord one day.” She replied. “Or, if something happens to me, Jia-jia will be.” Her face turned serious. “Or, spirits protect us, she might abdicate in favor of Lu Ten.”
Bolin frowned. “Wait, wait, I thought it went you, Jia-jia, Xue Yi, then Lu Ten, and Iroh last.” Iroh had gone over the family with him until he had them memorized, and he was sure he had the line right.
“Xue Yi lost her rights to the throne when she took vows.” She explained. “Iroh should have told you that. Jia-jia could technically lose her spot if she doesn't get herself together and stop drinking that green stuff they make at the Eastern Air Temple, and then, oh spirits, mother would sooner embalm herself and reign forever rather than let Lu Ten on the throne.”
Bolin thought about that. His first meeting with Lu Ten had involved Lu Ten actually lifting him off the ground in a hug, before proclaiming him his favorite new little brother ever. Iroh had raised an eyebrow at that. Lu Ten had then proceeded to tell Bolin in detail a story about how he had once wrestled a platypus bear, before proudly showing the humongous scars across his belly to prove it.
“I can see that.”
“Yeah, well.” She shifted. “The royal family, all of my idiotic siblings, they all reflect back me. Every dumb thing they do, every idiotic thing Lu Ten says, every artist Jia-jia shacks up with, it all becomes my burden to bear once I'm Fire Lord.”
He leaned forward, elbows on knees, and knitted his fingers together. “So, what I do will reflect on you?”
She smiled, but it was kind of sad. “So. It is true.”
He shrugged. “It...it makes sense for us. This way, if anything happens to him, I'm the first to know. And he says he wants to make sure I'm taken care of, if...you know. It's just, it would make things a lot easier with the military. And since I'm pretty set on being with him already, it just doesn't seem like a big deal, to either of us.”
Ursa seemed unbelievably small as she pulled her knees to her chest. He didn't think that was proper posture, for a princess. “I just wish he'd talked to me about it first.”
“He didn't mean to make you feel bad.” Bolin felt pretty awful over the secret-keeping now, seeing her face. At first, it had seemed like fun, because, well, no one he knew would really be mad, after they had gotten over it. Or hurt, like Ursa clearly was. “Iroh really loves you, you know. He's always telling me stories about when you were kids. And, not going to lie, you kind of scare me, but, well,” He paused, and looked at his feet. “I kind of always wanted a sister. And you seem like a really cool one.”
She didn't seem to know what to say, so they were quiet for a minute, before Bolin felt brave enough to ask the question he'd really been thinking. “Do you not want me in the family?”
She smiled again, and to his shock, leaned on his shoulder. “Iroh could have done worse.”
Two months later, when she sat at their new kitchen table, looking awkward in pants and a more simple top and jacket than she was used to, Bolin pushed a clumsily wrapped present across to her.
“I thought visitors brought housewarming presents?” She asked, puzzled. She had brought them a miniature fruit tree, or, rather, had directed the two Fire Nation guards carrying it to put it in the townhouse. She was really good at being bossy. Especially with Iroh. It was pretty funny.
“Yeah, well, how about we consider this a different kind of present?” He asked, as she opened it, her golden eyes widening. It had not been easy, getting one, and he hoped she liked it. “I couldn't get the hair thing, sorry. But I thought, maybe this would be a good present from, you know, a brother to his new sister?” He asked hopefully.
The little Kyoshi Island Warrior had been styled after Ty Lee, complete with the long brown braid, just like the original, Iroh said. She smiled up out of the box, looking pretty cheerful for supposedly being one of the most famed warriors in the world.
Ursa sniffed, and wiped at her damp eyes, before she threw herself at him, wrapping her arms around his neck in a hug. Pleased he had made her so happy, he hugged her back enthusiastically.
“So the rumors are true,” She said, her voice scratchy from tears. “You really are the best little brother in the world.”
Thrilled at the words, he still felt pretty modest, so he tried to put it in perspective. “Well, compared to my competition,” Lu Ten, out drinking and rabble-rousing, and Iroh, off being a bomb-punching general instead of whatever he was supposed to be. “I don't imagine it takes much.”
She just laughed.
I just love the idea of the Royal Family being full of miscreants.
Chapter 5: Charming
In which Iroh and Bolin clean their new house, and find some rather...charming things the previous tenant has left behind.
T. Implications of sex happening.
“So...is this an Earth Kingdom thing?”
Bolin shrugged. “Do I seem like I'm in touch with my heritage? Like, really, do I seem like that kind of guy to you? At all?”
Iroh looked him up and down. Bolin was dressed in loose brown pants and one of Iroh's red training shirts. “Stop stealing my clothes. And no.”
“Stop leaving your clothes where I can steal them.”
Iroh frowned, and thought about that one. “We share a bedroom. My clothes are always going to be where you can steal them.”
“My suggestion to you is to let it go then.”
“That's always your suggestion.”
The other man grinned cheekily. “Not always. Sometimes my suggestion is for you to fuck me harder. You seem to take that one pretty well.”
Iroh blinked, and tried to focus. “Stop trying to distract me.”
“It's not 'trying' if it's working, you know.” Bolin said informatively, before leaning in closer to inspect the clock. “What is this made out of?”
The general took a moment to appreciate the muscles on display, Bolin's shoulders were really just wonderful to look at. And touch. Hm. Maybe he did like that shirt better on him. “Petrified wood.” He answered, perfectly capable of doing two things at once. “It's what happens when the wood gets underground, and loses contact with air. Over time, the underground water deposits things like silica in the organic parts of the wood, until there's only stone.”
“You're really smart, to be able to tell me that while you're staring at my ass.”
“I try.” Bolin stood straight, and smirked at him.
“I know you do. And you're just so good at it.” He smiled in that way that somehow managed to look innocent and mischievous at the same time, and for the life of him, Iroh could not work out how he did it. Mostly because he never had time to think about it, since it was usually a prelude to sex, and then he was just thinking about other things. Important things.
He was very sure that making out with Bolin in their new house was not a very constructive use of their time. They should be cleaning. Getting rid of the previous tenant's things. He should not be pushing Bolin up against the wall and fitting his thigh between Bolin's, so he was going to stop. He was going to stop, very, very soon.
He was career military. He had fantastic self-control.
Bolin had fantastic everything.
“We haven't had sex in this room, yet.” Bolin said, when Iroh found himself down by Bolin's hipbones, and when did they get off the wall and on the floor?
“Yes we have. When we first moved in.” He reminded him. “You couldn't wait to get to the bedroom.”
“Oh, yeah, I stuck my own hand down my pants, right.” That sounded an awful lot like sarcasm.
Not important, he decided. For now.
After, when they were both warm and fuzzy, and Bolin was begging him to put his hand on his back, right below the shoulder where the muscle always pulled painfully, he looked back up at the clock. “I think it's actually shaped like the Northern Water Tribe territory.”
“Huh?” Bolin was blissfully happy under the warmth of his hands, and he had to take a minute to look over his shoulder at the thing. “Oh. Yeah, I think it is. Weird.”
“Hey, you know what your mom would call it?” Bolin asked, elbowing him.
Iroh smirked to himself. “Charming,” He made sure to get the tone right, and Bolin chuckled, before flopping over on to Iroh, resting his head on his stomach. “I thought my stomach was too hard to be comfortable?”
“But you're doing that thing, where you're all nice and warm, and you just feel awesome.”
He sniffed against Iroh's skin, as Iroh stroked his hair.
“We should see if you can earthbend it.”
Chapter 6: Oblivious
Bolin is oblivious to what his surprise could possibly be.
I'd say K+
Everyone was up to something. Bolin knew he wasn't the sharpest sword in the armory, but Korra wasn't the subtlest pygmy puma in the alley either. And Jinora was practically vibrating with excitement. Not to mention Mako, who was doing that thing he did, when he was avoiding Bolin because he sucked at keeping secrets from him. He always thought he was playing it cool, but really. He'd known him his whole life. He knew when Mako was hiding something.
Pema was at least doing a good job. Tenzin...not so much. And he didn't think the little kids knew, probably because neither of them could keep a secret to save their lives.
“Asami,” He cajoled.
“Not a chance.” She said, shooting him down before he could even ask. “It's a surprise.”
He tried to get more details. “Is it for my birthday?”
“I'm not telling you a thing.” She dismissed, walking away from him.
He was pretty sure Lin knew something, but he never even got a chance. He had barely opened his mouth before she turned on him with a glare. “Ask me. I dare you.”
Bolin looked her up and down, and thought about it. “No thanks.”
It was going to drive him crazy. He was so bad with surprises. He always wanted to know everything right now, and normally, he was pretty good at working out what was being hidden well beforehand. But so far, he hadn't broken anyone. Not even the promise of the brand new romance serial that Pema had banned as a bribe for Jinora had worked.
He flopped down at the dinner table, discouraged, even as Pema dished out the noodles.
Mako nonchalantly flicked him in the head. “Knock it off.”
“I want to know,” He whined, as he heard Pabu skitter up to the table. “Come on, tell me!”
“No.” Mako replied.
Something whacked the table by his head, and he looked up, to see Pema, scowling down at Pabu. “No fire ferrets at the table,” She warned him, hands on her hips. “You have your own food!”
Pabu frowned up at her, and chattered his disagreement.
“Don't you take that tone with me!” Pema replied, before making a shooing gesture. “Go on, go. Don't make me get the broom.”
Pabu looked at Bolin, asking for help, but no way was he going up against Pema. “Sorry, buddy,” He said, with an apologetic shrug. “Listen to Pema.” His pet chattered angrily at him before slinking away, back out of the room, probably to go shred something of Bolin's.
“Hey, guess what I heard today on the radio?” Jinora asked, looking around the table.
Tenzin, calmly spooning broth into Rohan's eager mouth. “What did you hear, dear?”
“There's going to be a meteor shower tonight!” The young girl was clearly ecstatic, but no one else seemed all that enthused. Bolin wanted to be, but he was too distracted by the whole secret-keeping thing going on. “It's supposed to be amazing,” She sighed, putting her chin in her hand. “There was a story I read once, about these two lovers who were torn apart by a war. When one was killed, the other cried so hard, the heavens cried with them, and the tears became falling stars. The people were so moved by the tragedy, they ceased their warring.”
There was silence at the table.
Korra broke it first. “So...what happened to the one who lived?”
“That's not the point of the story!” Jinora said.
“I don't know. I kind of want to know what happened. I mean, just because the war stopped, doesn't mean they weren't miserable and alone.” Mako pointed out.
“I don't know, maybe they found someone else.” Korra speculated, waving her chopsticks around in thought. “I mean, it's not impossible. People have second marriages.”
“That's true.” Pema agreed. “It's possible to love more than one person.”
Jinora huffed, and crossed her arms. “You're missing the point.” She went back to her noodles, pouting, and clearly done with them all. “So I guess none of you want to watch it with me?”
“Sweetheart, your father and me have to get Rohan and Meelo in bed.” Pema reminded her.
“Thanks, but I'll pass.” Ikki said, as she concentrated on twisting her noodles around her chopsticks.
“Sorry, I've got an early day tomorrow.” Mako had drawn the short straw, and was stuck with the pre-dawn patrol shift.
Korra realized she still hadn't answered, and shrugged. “Yeah, um, no offense, but that sounds really boring.”
That just left him, and when she turned her hopeful eyes on him, his own frustration seemed a little petty. “Yeah, alright.” He agreed, even though he was pretty sure it wouldn't be all that interesting to him either. “Just for a little bit though, okay?”
After dinner, he followed her out, hands behind his head. “Are you sure you can't just tell me what everyone is up to? I mean, it's kind of early to be planning for my birthday, even I've got to say.”
“I'm not telling you anything,” Jinora chirped, as she floated down the steps of the Air Temple. “You'll find out when it's time.”
Bolin huffed, but gave in for the time being. He'd try tomorrow, and hopefully get better results. Maybe if he offered her a whole subscription to that romance periodical that ran once a month? There was no way he was going to crack anyone else. It had to be Jinora.
The lanterns around them flared to life.
“How are we supposed to see the meteor shower if there's all this light?” He asked, looking down at Jinora, whose grin stretched ear-to-ear.
“Hey Bolin?” She said. “It's time.”
Someone stepped into the light.
His heart fluttered to a disbelieving stop in his chest, as his arms dropped by his sides. For a second, he couldn't move, could barely process him standing there, in his reds, looking just the same as he had when he'd left eight months ago. How did he do that, Bolin wondered.
He tipped his head to the side inquiringly. “Aren't you happy to see me, Bo?”
It was the magic words to free him from his frozen state, and he crossed the distance separating them in only a split-second, to throw his arms around him and hold tight. It was only when he was being held in return, when he could smell his cologne and the seawater smell that was always on his uniform, and feel his breath against his chest, that he really believed he was there, that he wasn't hallucinating or dreaming.
“You're home,” He was shaking, and he felt like a complete idiot for it, as Iroh held him close in his arms. He buried his face in the scratchy fabric of Iroh's reds, and with a shock of embarrassment, realized he was crying on it. “I'm sorry,” He said, not sure why, as he pulled his head back.
Iroh shook his head. “It's fine.” He sounded choked, and when Bolin actually managed to blink away his own tears, he saw Iroh's eyes were damp too. “It's fine, Bo.” His arms loosened, and his hands came up to cup Bolin's face, running his fingers through his hair. Their foreheads touched, when he leaned forward, as he closed his golden eyes tight, and Bolin sniffed, trying to contain himself. “I missed you.”
Bolin nodded, shutting his own eyes and sniffing, trying not to just outright sob. “Me too.” He managed, his voice high-pitched. “Oh man, I'm so dumb. This was the surprise, wasn't it?”
“I wouldn't say dumb. A little oblivious.” Iroh said, as one warm hand cupped his neck. He'd missed that so much, more than he could say. “You didn't see the ship come in? Really?”
“It wasn't yours.” Bolin felt like laughing, but he still wanted to cry too, and he wasn't sure why, because he was happy, he was so happy he felt like he was going to explode from it. “I checked, believe me, I checked. You jerk, you snuck in, and everyone knew but me.”
“You know now.” Iroh offered, and it occurred to Bolin that he hadn't kissed him yet. He was almost scared though, scared if he did, it would be clumsy after so long apart. He didn't want to screw up their first kiss after nine months apart, he wanted to be exactly what Iroh remembered, and he-
Iroh kissed him, and it was exactly what it should be.
“I missed you, so much,” He whispered, dragging his knuckles down the side of Bolin's face. “These two days have been killing me. I just wanted to come here, to you, but there's always so much to do, and I wanted to wait until I didn't have to leave you again,”
This time, Bolin kissed him, pulling him down to his mouth by the back of his head, and this one was a little harder, had a little more promise to it. “Doesn't matter. You're here now.” He kissed him again, because he needed to. “You're home.” He repeated, because he still couldn't quite process.
Iroh looked at him, his eyes soft in the lamplight, and something in Bolin's chest swelled almost painfully at it. “Yes,” Iroh said, his voice low, almost awed. “I'm home.”
Chapter 7: Doubt
Iroh and Bolin express their doubts over what they're about to maybe do. It isn't something entered into lightly, after all.
K+, no warnings
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“We don't have to do this, you know.” Bolin said, twiddling with his chopsticks. “I mean, I'm fine with everything just being...unofficial...is what I mean, I guess. Well, we're official, of course, I mean, we are,” He didn't want Iroh to think they weren't completely serious and exclusive, because they were. They really were.
“It's not about that.” Iroh replied, his tea growing cold in front of him. It was his fifth cup, and something about seeing Iroh drinking from a chipped porcelain cup with a cheap blue print was oddly funny. Not funny in a laughing sort of way, more funny in a he couldn't believe it was happening way. The more Bolin had gotten to know him, the less he had seemed like a prince, and just, well, any guy.
Especially like this. Even out of uniform, Iroh couldn't have been more military if he tried. It was in the way he held himself, the way he spoke. Even the way he ate, quick and efficient. He tried to slow down for Bolin's sake, but, with the tea as evidence, it didn't really work. Bolin always felt kind of sloppy around him. Not in a bad way, just, less constrained. He certainly wasn't like any prince in Jinora and Ikki's stories.
“I know.” He replied, as he dropped one stick with his nervous fiddling. He picked it up, and laid it across his bowl with the other, giving it up as a lost cause. His noodles had gone cold anyway. The attendant took it away in a matter of moments, taking Bolin's request for lychee juice with a nod. He loved places like this, at this time. It was that great place between early and late, where no one was coming home from work, and no one was getting up just yet, and they were almost alone in the tiny place, knees knocking together under a table in a small corner booth.
“Bolin, if you're having second thoughts,” Iroh looked disappointed, but accepting. He wasn't going to pressure Bolin into this, and he knew it, was grateful for it, but he almost wanted him to, just so he didn't feel so indecisive. “We could let it wait. I would just prefer to do it now, before I deploy again.”
“I do want to.” He said, shaking his head. “That's not it. I'm just...we're still really young.”
“I'm not that young.” Iroh smiled at him, before taking a drink of his warmed tea. “Most men my age in the military are married by now.” He laughed, low in his throat, a sleepy kind of laugh that made Bolin's stomach flip, even now. “Most men your age in the military are married too, you know.”
He shrugged. “Yeah, but I'm not in the military. And you know Mako thinks I'm too young. So do Tenzin and Pema. And Lin.”
“But it's not their lives. It's yours. Maybe ours.” Iroh pointed out.
The waiter came with Bolin's lychee juice, in a tall glass. It had condensation already forming on the outside, from where the waterbender at the counter had frosted the glass before pouring the room-temperature juice in. Idly, he traced his finger over it, drawing in a smiling face, like he always did when he was a kid.
Iroh's tea was refilled as well, but it was cold. He rolled his eyes, and heated his palm, so steam started to roll off the top. “You could just tell them to put the pot back on the hot plate.”
“If I did that, I couldn't show off.”
That fond feeling that sometimes threatened to overtake him, when he looked at Iroh, or when Iroh said stupid things like that, welled up in his chest again. It was this feeling that told him he'd be making the right decision by doing this, because it was love, between them. Real love. Not infatuation, or lust.
“What did Asami and Korra say?” Iroh asked, his smile soft and warm now as he looked at Bolin across the table. “You didn't mention them.”
“Korra said she wasn't sure. She wanted to say she thought it was a good idea, I think, but you know, her and Mako.” He shrugged again. “She doesn't want him to think she's going against him when it comes to me. But she knows how I feel about you. How you feel about me.” With his free hand, Iroh reached across the table, and took Bolin's hand, running his thumb across the knuckles.
The pads of his fingers were roughly callused from work, from firebending. All firebenders got these calluses, he'd noticed. But the ones between his fingers, on the heels of his hands, these Bolin contemplated as he turned Iroh's hand so he could trace them. These were from ship work, from pulling ropes and firing weapons and whatever else needed to be done. Iroh loved working on the ship. It made him feel alive, he'd said. It made him feel useful, something he'd never had the opportunity to feel as a child.
“Asami told me to do it.” He followed a scar that lay along the line between Iroh's hand and wrist. He had gotten it when he had been captured by pirates, back when he was only seventeen and not yet a general. He had been chi-blocked, but had freed himself using his wits and training. Bolin loved that story. “She said that the voice I should listen to the most is my own, though. What do I want?”
“She always gives good advice.” Iroh was watching him play with his hand with tired interest. He really needed to get to bed, Bolin thought. They shouldn't still be out, but yet, here they were. “What do you want? Do you want to marry me?”
Bolin looked up, met his eyes, and saw the seriousness there. Iroh was willing to wait the whole night, as long as Bolin told him what was absolutely true. “Yes.” He answered. “All the stuff you told me, I'm willing to take on those responsibilities. It'll kill me, but if something happens to you,” He closed his eyes to the thought, and got himself under control. “I want it to be my door they're at.”
For a minute, Iroh just swirled his tea, before taking a sip. “As a member of the United Forces military, there are certain benefits due to my spouse. A stipend for living expenses and rent, access to areas civilians are usually forbidden, and, well,” He looked down at the table, but his eyes were far away. “Bolin, if something happens to me, there's something called a survivor's pension. It's money the United Forces will give you every year, to take care of you, in the event that I no longer can. It can only be paid out if you are my spouse, though.”
He hadn't known things went to that extent. He'd just thought it meant if Iroh was killed, it would be Bolin who got his personal items, who was informed first, before anyone else.
“There's not just that, though.” Iroh continued. “I'm not the heir, no. However, there are certain benefits you would be entitled to, as my spouse. You see, every member of the royal family technically owns land and a house.”
“What do you mean, technically?” This was the first he had heard of this. He had just assumed, well, he didn't know what he had assumed about what Iroh was entitled too, as fifth in line for the crown.
“Does it seem as though I spend much time there?” He asked, with raised eyebrows. “I used to hide there, when I was young and my mother had made me angry. But I've never really run it. It's managed by a steward. The house isn't very big, of course. But it is well-made, sturdy.” Bolin felt like he was being sold on the house, though he wasn't sure why. Iroh seemed embarrassed over the whole thing, but determined to tell Bolin everything anyway. “In any case, if the worst happens, and we are legally married, regardless of what my mother tries to do, the land and house will be yours. In case you need somewhere to go.”
Bolin shrugged. “I've never been to the Fire Nation. I don't know if I'd like it.”
“Truthfully, I don't like it.” Iroh replied, dismissively. “There's nothing wrong with it, of course. It's just, when I'm there, I'm not General Iroh. I'm Prince Iroh.” He frowned. “It's just uncomfortable.”
“Because it's not yours.” He hadn't meant to say that aloud. Maybe he was more tired than he thought. Iroh indicated for Bolin to continue though, so, looking down at Iroh's palm, he kept talking. “You've earned all your respect in the United Forces, and all that stuff you say we'd get being married. You're good at your job, and you love it. When people call you General Iroh, you like it, because you feel like that's yours. But the being a prince thing, I mean, you were just born a prince.” He dared to look up at Iroh, his brows drawn in a thoughtful expression. “You don't like it when you don't have to work for stuff.”
He kind of liked that about him, even if he himself wasn't like that. Maybe because he had been born so poor, because really, he was okay with being given stuff. Free stuff was great. But maybe not to people like Iroh, who had to prove that they deserved everything they had.
The general smiled, to himself, and finished his tea. “Sometimes it's a little startling, how well you know me.”
“Would we be talking about this, if I didn't?”
He held his eyes, bright amber in the dim lantern light of the place. “No, I suppose we wouldn't.” He held up a hand, signaling the waiter for another cup of tea. “It's normal to have doubts, I think. I'd be more worried if we didn't. If we're going into this, though, I think doubts mean we're going in with open eyes. We already know we'll fight over how much say everyone else has in our relationship, that my deployments are hard on you, that I won't present you to the Court.” Bolin was okay with that last one. “You know I'll never remember holidays or our anniversaries.”
“You would think a general knew how to keep a calender.” He grinned, to show he wasn't serious. He had been pretty pissed off at Iroh, the first few occurrences, but over time, he'd realized Iroh meant no disrespect by it. When your mind was that full of battle and schedules and engines, there wasn't a lot of room for other stuff.
“What I mean is, we know we're not perfect. We've worked through those problems, though. We'll work through whatever new ones we encounter.” They were sure to, he thought. Still, he was right. They'd figured out those things, through much trial and error. “Bo, I'm just as nervous as you are. I know that marrying you is what I want, though. I can't imagine ever wanting to be with anyone the way I want to be with you.”
He knew he was getting a little flushed, but it was so rare that Iroh talked about any kind of feelings. He was more of a 'show, not tell' kind of guy, which Bolin loved, he did, but that didn't mean it wasn't nice to hear those things, every now and then. “Me neither.” He said, running the pad of his thumb over Iroh's lifeline.
“You know we work, Bolin. We're not going to break just because we have a piece of paper making things official.”
“That's not what I'm doubting.” He replied, shaking his head. “I don't know. Maybe that is. I'm just worried that somehow, things are going to go wrong.”
As the waiter refilled his tea, Iroh took Bolin's hand in both of his, and kissed his knuckles. He was being incredibly earnest right now, and it made it hard to breathe right. “I love you. No matter what we fight over, no matter how long I'm away, no matter what anyone says, I will keep loving you. That's not changing overnight. I promise.”
He bit his lip, and pulled his hand away, drinking his lychee juice as he tried to get himself together. He felt oddly light-headed, but not faint. The juice was too sweet, too much sugar added to make up for watering down the juice, but it seemed to be what he needed, like after a hard training session.
Half-full now, the glass looked weird. Lychee juice always kind of made Bolin think of soapy water, in the looks department.
Iroh was waiting for him to say something. He wanted to say a hundred things, some of them stupid, some of them far too heartfelt to be said anywhere but his own head. The thing was, when he closed his eyes and blocked out all the voices telling him what to do, when he blocked out Mako's fear and Lin's scorned caution, Tenzin's anxiety and Pema's mothering worry, Korra's badly-concealed enthusiasm and Jinora's romantic notions, it left only one voice beyond his own. Asami's, telling him that he needed to make the decision that made him happy, ultimately, not everyone else. That it was his future, not theirs.
When her advice was gone, there was only him.
He took a deep breath.
“Even if we do stop loving each other one day,” He said, trying to imagine that. Just because he couldn't now, didn't mean it was impossible, and he had to remind himself of that. “Even if I regret it, I think, overall, I would regret not marrying you more. Because I want to be your husband. It's certainly not the only thing in the world that will make me happy, but I think,” Now it was his turn to take Iroh's hand in his, their fingers twisting together. “Everything that makes me happy will be better with you to share it with.”
Iroh's shoulders relaxed, and he put the teacup down.
“Let's go.” He hitched his chin towards the exit. “Let's go now, before you change your mind.” He left enough yuan to cover the bill and tip on the table, and tugged Bolin to his feet. “The magistrate's office will open in an hour.”
“Wait, what?” Bolin struggled into his coat, his mouth open in shock. “What, are you serious?”
Iroh smiled at him, a strange, half-mad smile he'd never seen on his face before.
The thing was, everyone, especially Bumi, always told him Iroh was a little crazy. “Have you met his grandparents? Or his mother? And don't get me started on Azula. You're lucky he's as sane as he is.” That had been the exact wording of the wild commander. But he had never believed it, until now. Not crazy in a bad way, maybe, just...reckless. Trusting in himself and the people around him, in this case, Bolin, to the point of stupidity. Believing himself immortal, was how Katara had put it, when he had asked.
“He takes after his grandfather more than his mother would like. He'll do what he wants, no matter what anyone says.”
“Yes.” He answered Bolin, cocking his head in that way that made him look so much younger. “I am completely serious.”
He laughed, and let Iroh pull him in for a kiss, not sure yet of what he was doing, if he was going along with this or not. “We can't.” He protested, weakly, still wanting to laugh.
Iroh leaned close, so their foreheads touched. “Says who?”
Bolin fumbled for words, but found none except the right answer, the one that made his heart sing. “Okay.”
As they ducked out the curtain over the doorway, Bolin saw the fuzzy grey color the sky had taken on, indicating sunrise was finally arriving. Around them, tired workers balancing paper cups of steaming coffee or tea and lunchboxes wrapped in patterned fabrics moved, like he and Iroh were stepping stones in a river. The morning was chilly, compared to the warmth of the restaurant, and the air had the damp, crisp taste of water and cold. Snow was around the corner, but for now, it was still only frost, leaving delicate filigree on the glass windows and metal drains.
They walked, arm in arm, and Bolin couldn't help but laugh, the chill stinging his throat, and turning his breath visible. “We've lost our minds.”
“I've been told often that I lost mine long ago. Mostly by my sister.” Iroh said amiably enough, his skin heating up against Bolin's to keep him warm. He slipped his arm out of Bolin's to wrap it around his waist instead, so he was pressed all along his side, his palm like the heated bricks he and Mako had slept with as kids against his hip.
“My mouth is cold too,” He whined, snuggling further into his scarf. The kiss that he got for his troubles only alleviated it for a second, but then Iroh stopped, to touch Bolin's scarf. After only a second, it felt as warm as if it had been lying in the summer sun for hours, and again, he laughed, almost unable to stop, curling further into Iroh. “So, how much trouble are you going to be in for this?”
“My mother might never speak to me again.” He sounded pretty cheerful about that, actually chuckling, and they had to stop, lean against the wall, Bolin against Iroh's chest, to laugh together, because they were insane, what were they thinking?
They waited on the freezing stone steps of the magistrate's office, Bolin as close to Iroh's heat as possible, until the tower clock over the courthouse gonged the right hour. Slowly, the office behind them came to life, the lock turning audibly, even on the busy street.
It cost fifty yuan, and even though his hand shook as carefully wrote the characters of his name on the registry, he couldn't fight the smile on his face the whole time, the sides of his face actually twinging from it.
“By the laws of Republic City, you are now officially married.” The magistrate yawned, showing he was missing a back molar, and rubbed at his eyes with the heels of his hands. “Congratulations.” He sniffed, and seemed to come a bit more awake. “Really, congratulations.” Bolin pressed his fist to his mouth to quell his hysterical giggling, and when he looked at Iroh, he seemed to be just as shocked. Like, oh wow, this was the real deal. They had done it. “Uh, guys, far be it for me to tell you how to run your marriage, but this is normally the part where the happy couple kisses.”
“Is it?” Iroh asked, his eyes still on Bolin. “By all means then,” He cupped the back of Bolin's neck and pulled him in for a kiss. When they parted, by just a hair, they were both smiling. “Hello, husband,” He said softly, just loud enough for Bolin to hear.
“Hello, husband,” He said back, and, like the fog under the morning sun, all his doubts dissipated under Iroh's eyes.
A/N All done! Yay me!
Chapter 8: BONUS PROMPT: Introduction to the Family
Addition to the prompt of Doubt, Iroh sends his sister a telegram, and learns a valuable lesson about being a little brother. Basically, you are never too old to not get beat.
K+, some swearing
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“I'm going to kill my brother.”
Zuko looked up from his Pai Sho game with his attendant. His oldest granddaughter, crown princess, and the spitting image of Azula as a young woman, stood in the doorway, practically shaking with fury. Sighing, he gestured to his attendant to leave them be, as his granddaughter strode in.
“What has Lu Ten done now?” He thought his uncle would have found it hilarious, how little his son's namesake resembled the original. Whereas Lu Ten had been a model crown prince and soldier, from what Zuko remembered, Lu Ten the second was a rabble-rousing, hard-drinking, foolhardy man with a taste for the kind of company that liked to see coin before you got a smile. “And please tell me it's nothing like the incident at the Moon Festival three years ago.”
“What?” Ursa snapped out of her focused rage, and turned to her grandfather. “No, Lu Ten has been out at sea for the past eight months. Even he can't find a whore in the middle of the ocean.” She scowled. “He has to content himself with whatever sailor is that desperate for a bigger bunk.”
“Ursa, what have I told you about not judging your siblings?”
She sighed dramatically. “'Brothers and sisters are a way of the spirits blessing you with friends from birth', yes Grandfather, I know. Have you met the ones I got stuck with though? I think I qualify as an exception from that rule.”
Zuko signaled the attendant waiting outside the door to bring tea. “Ursa, even Lu Ten has his good points. And look at Iroh, he's-”
“Iroh,” She hissed, steam escaping her nostrils.
He raised an eyebrow. “Iroh?” The youngest of his oldest daughter was often the one he heard the least complaints about, if only because he was usually out of range. Iroh spent most of his time at sea, or, when in port, not in the Fire Nation. Lately, he'd been spending most of his leave in Republic City.
“Iroh is dead. I mean it. I'm going to kill him, and I will not be sorry for it!”
Zuko rolled his eyes. “What has you brother done?”
“Read. This.” She hissed through gritted teeth, slamming a thick piece of paper down on the table, making his Pai Sho pieces rattle.
MARRIED BOLIN STOP SET UP HOUSE REPUBLIC CITY STOP NOT PRESENTING HIM STOP BOLIN SENDS LOVE STOP
“Oh?!” She shrieked. “Mother traumatized half the palace staff with her tirade, Father is hiding out at the beach house, and all you can say is oh?” She breathed fire in her rage before carrying on. “She's blaming me! She claims it's my fault Iroh thinks he can get away with this shit!”
“Now, Ursa, calm down, before you have another accident, like last week,”
She stamped her foot, and huffed out a cloud of steam, before dully counting backwards from one hundred by multiples of six. “I still want to kill him.” She said. “Kill him dead.”
She collapsed, first to her knees, then to the floor, burying her face in the thick carpet. The attendant brought the tea, and very professionally Did Not See his future Fire Lord lying on the floor like a child throwing a tantrum.
“Why do they do these things, Grandfather?” She whined.
He shrugged. “Honestly, Ursa, our family line is a little...well, really, we should be happy everything has turned out as well as it has.” He had some complaints, he supposed. His eldest daughter was a tad bit too close in resemblance to his little sister for his own comfort sometimes, with her obsessive need to control everything and her propensity to throw tantrums when she lost it at the ripe age of fifty-seven.
At least Ursa's were contained to just crying and threats. Her mother had been known to throw things, and he had no doubt the palace staff was diligently setting to rights what she had destroyed when she read the telegram. Mai always blamed Zuko's side of the family for it, but he was quick to point out just whose baby brother had blown up the Alchemist Guild's building a record of thirty-eight times when she went down that road.
“I hate them all.” She cried, her shoulders shaking. “So much,” She gasped. “Why couldn't I be an only child?”
“I asked myself that more than once.”
“But Great-Aunt Azula just tried to kill you!” His granddaughter sobbed. “That was easy to deal with. These idiots have given me an ulcer.”
Zuko stood up, and knelt beside her, patting her on the back comfortingly. That had always been his role, as a parent, to comfort and soothe. Mai had been the disciplinarian, and the only one in the world who had ever managed to wrangle their herd of grandchildren into order. He had just bought them presents.
“Ursa, what can I do to make you feel better?”
It wasn't the first time Zuko had snuck into Republic City under the guise of a traveler, and it would hopefully not be the last. He always took great delight in slipping his guards and causing panic. It was Ursa's though, and he hoped she was watching carefully so she could do it right when she needed to.
The townhouse was easily found, and when he knocked on the door, a cheerful looking man with green eyes answered. “Hello? Can I help you?”
Ursa, dressed in Earth Kingdom green and gold, pushed past him and stomped into the house. “Iroh!” There was a loud crash, and the sound of scuffling and muffled swearing from another room.
Bolin blinked. Zuko smiled.
“You must be my new grandson.” He said. “That was your new sister, Ursa.” There was a loud shout of pain. “Her and Iroh have something they need to work out, and I confess, I haven't seen the city in awhile, and we missed breakfast. Do you know any good noodle places?”
“Uh, yeah,” He glanced over his shoulder, then grabbed a key off the hook by the door. “I know a great place.” He shut the door, locking it. “Um, she's not going to kill him, is she?”
“No,” Zuko assured him, putting a familial arm around the young man. “I'm sure you won't be a widower yet.” There was a much louder crash. “Though I think I'm supposed to get you a wedding present, so how about furniture?”
“Can we get a new radio?” Bolin asked eagerly. “Iroh said it was too much noise, but there's this new detective serial, about Wang Fire, and I really want to hear it,” Zuko smiled indulgently.
“I'll buy you the best one they make.”
A/N Okay, now we're done.