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Uncle Zuko

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"You two must not be from around here," the pretty healer said, her touch so gentle as she applied salve to his swollen face. Iroh felt feverish, and not just because of the poison in his veins. "We know better than to touch the white jade, much less make it into tea and drink it."

Iroh's blush was lost beneath his rash.

Uncle Zuko grumbled, "It's more that my husky excuse for a nephew loses his wits whenever pai-sho or tea is involved."


"At least he didn't find a game board set up inside in a platypus-bear trap."

The healer giggled. Iroh hung his head in shame.


* * *


It's not that Iroh hated his uncle. Far from it. It was just there were times that Iroh had to remind himself that Uncle Zuko wasn't just a crotchety old frowny-face.

Like all the time.

Uncle never smiled and hated all the good things in life, like tea, pai-sho, and the ladies. If he spent less time polishing his swords and more time enjoying life's pleasures, Iroh knew Uncle would be a much happier man. He deserved that.

When Mother had burned and banished him, it was Uncle Zuko who'd taken him in. Despite the fact the fact his uncle was a subpar firebender for royalty, Iroh held him in high esteem as a warrior. Not even Mother crossed Uncle. He had, after all, killed the last dragon with a sword.

The old man could do anything if he applied his will to a task. Which would have made his success with romancing women inspiring if he was actually ever intending to seduce them at all.


* * *


"We are much obliged by your hospitality, ma'am."

The matron blushed at Uncle. "Oh, it was no trouble. It was nice to cook for a strapping man again."

"Thank you?"

"Song, why don't you two enjoy the night air while we clean up?"

Outside, he and Song had an unspoken agreement to ignore what they'd just witnessed. It was nice, otherwise. They got to talking and, somehow, a little bit of the old man's magic had rubbed off on him. Song was already hiking up her skirt to show some ankle.

"So," Iroh said, sliding closer, "we're playing a game of Show Me Yours and I'll Show You Mine?"


* * *


By the time the village was out of sight, the handprint on Iroh's face had almost faded. Uncle Zuko, who'd clasped an arm around his shoulders, finished his rambling lecture on respecting women with, "Never give into piggishness, nephew. Allow yourself to walk that road and you will walk into the land of datelessness, which you can't leave because the through-lanes are one way."


"At least her mother was friendly."

"Pfff. I'll bet."

"...Heh." Iroh scowled. "Is that what you think?"

It was then that something impossible happened.

Uncle smiled.

"There was only ever one woman for me, nephew."

They walked onwards.

"I wish I had someone like Aunt Mai."

"Give it time. And work on your smooth talk."

"I'm plenty smooth!"

"Sure you are."