A Quest for Honor (Otherwise known as Hide and Seek)
[By the Turtleduck Pond]
There they stood, lined up before them like good little soldiers, and all Iroh could think about was that he was getting too old for these games, but Sesi stood beside him, shifting from one foot to the other in excitement and she'd looked up at him with such pleading eyes and that adorable pout when he'd even hinted at not wanting to participate in this year's hunt, so of course here he was.
"Ladies first", he said.
"You go ahead, then", she replied, grinning.
Gone was the snot-nosed little boy who followed his every step, hung on his every word, replaced by a loud-mouthed teenager who liked to declare himself the greatest earthbender of all time, only to be smacked around the head by his mother and smirk cheekily.
Where had the time gone?
Agni, he sounded like his father.
"Well, then, if I get to pick first, I pick Asha."
Mostly to spite Bumi, of course, who pulled a face.
The girl scampered over to him, smiling sweetly, which would've fooled anybody who hadn't known her little demon self for all her life - but that were Bei Fong kids for you, he supposed.
He tucked her under his arm.
She poked his rips.
"Pema", Sesi said without hesitation.
"Aw", the girl in question made, because, he guessed, she harboured a little crush on him. He had been informed of that fact just this morning and he still didn't believe it entirely, because, well, she was basically still a baby.
She trudged over to her new Team Leader, if a little reluctantly.
"Then I'll take ... Mako."
The boy grinned his biggest grin.
Iroh couldn't help but yet again think that his own name should have gone to his little cousin, because when he smiled like that, he looked just like their great uncle. It was a little ridiculous, how greatly they resembled eachother.
Though, he supposed, Aunt Azula would've never named a child after Uncle Iroh, anyway.
"Kya", Sesi decided.
"You goin' for an all-girls team?", Bumi drawled.
"Maybe", she retorted.
Iroh's sister - her cousin, though they weren't cousins, thank all the Spirits above - strutted over to her and Pema with all the confidence of an eight-year-old and then some; she was the niece of Princess Azula, after all.
"Do we have to take him?", Asha whined while Bumi did a little dance. "You only really need one earthbender, Iroh."
"Well, with an earthbender on the team, we have a tactical advantage, because you guys can see with your feet, which may help us find our parents faster. It did before. If we have both of you and they don't have either, all the better for us", Iroh said.
Bumi punched his upper arm, which hurt and would probably leave a bruise, because that boy didn't know his own fucking strength, but really, it was nothing new, so he didn't say anything.
"Yeah, man. Earthbenders rule."
"Get on with it", Norbu lamented. "We're not getting any younger. And the longer we take, the longer they'll have to get away and hide."
"Well, come on over here, then, old man", Sesi laughed.
The boy did just that, with all the cat-like agility of an airbender, though he was dressed in Earth Kingdom colours today, green and beige, and he was barefoot like his earthbending siblings.
"Ursa", Iroh said.
His little sister was all her mother with just their father's eyes and maybe his scowl, too, as well his tendency to pinch the bridge of his nose when annoyed or stressed or- any time, really, but then again, they all had picked up that particular habit from him, even if both of his sisters liked to tease him especially about it.
Who was all elbows and knees and a big goofy smile and probably, when you just looked at him, the last kid on earth you'd suspect of being Azula's child, but he truly was his father's son and happy to serve whoever as long as he was part of a team.
He climbed onto Norbu's back.
"We'll take Tenzin."
"So Kesuk, you're with us."
Sesi wrapped an arm around her little brother's shoulders, and the boy leaned into her side for a moment, apparently already deep in thought, if the expression on his broad face was anything to go by.
Tenzin sighed like he, too, felt that he was getting too old for this game, despite being only ten years old and all for it when it had been brought up last night at dinner.
Iroh turned toward Sesi, whose hand was outstretched already.
"May the best team win", she said.
"My team, then", he replied.
Bumi snorted again.