“I’ll never think of you as a father.” Zuko says one day.
He’d been practicing basic forms all morning just outside some nowhere village somewhere between Omashu and Ba Sing Se. His Uncle close by, both watching Zuko and tending to the small pot of tea boiling on some hot rocks.
Uncle doesn’t say anything in response and Zuko doesn’t look but he hears Uncle Iroh stop moving, a sort of silence emanates from that direction that tells Zuko his Uncle took it the wrong way.
Zuko wasn’t good with words, thinking about words and how to form his thoughts became muddled with red and anger when he’d feel the pull of the scar at his cheeks and mouth. His shame put where everyone would see and he would always feel.
Zuko inhaled fresh cool air and began his transition into his next form, then exhaled his frustrations out as he settled into a position. Trying to calm his mind, Zuko took a few breaths before saying, “Fathers don’t deserve what I have for you Uncle.”
It was true, Zuko thought, the only thing fathers brought were fear and pain . They demanded respect but gave nothing but cold indifference or rage. Uncle was nothing like a father, he had advice to give and warmth in his eyes, he’d made sure that Zuko had survived those years on that ship. Uncle Iroh told him he'd thought of him as a son.
Zuko almost shivered with fear learned long ago.
Finishing up his form he straightened and looked over at his Uncle, surprised to see him already looking back at Zuko.
“Fathers aren’t anything, but… Uncle, you are everything.”