Disclaimer: I do not own nor do I claim to own any characters or concepts related to Avatar: the Last Airbender. This is a nonprofit work of fanfiction.

The butterwasp and the blooming sky tulip

One late, wintry evening at the port at the mouth of Shao-chuan, Iroh studied his jasmine tea and said to Zuko, "Have I ever told you of the butterwasp and the blooming sky tulip?"

Zuko did not turn from his maps. "I don't have time for your riddles, uncle."

"This is no riddle, Prince Zuko!" Iroh protested. "It is a lesson of the greatest importance. You are young and there is much you do not know."

"I know that I have to catch the Avatar," Zuko bit off, scowling at the Lidao mountain range.

"This is more important," said Iroh. Regretfully he set his tea aside so that he might fold his hands upon his belly. He settled in his chair. "In this world there are butterwasps with their great thorns," he said, pointing his finger to illustrate, "and there are sky tulips, so beautiful and so pure."

"Uncle, please, I am busy," said Zuko.

"Each sky tulip begins as no more than a simple bud, so full of promise!" said Iroh, clearly not listening. "And yet with time she blooms into a beautiful blossom. Her petals so soft! Her colors so vibrant. Your heart breaks to see her. It is then that she is ready to bring more sky tulips into this world. But this task is too much for a sky tulip alone: it is the butterwasp who must pollinate her seeds with his thorn.

"The butterwasp must be gentle," he mused, "and observant of the sky tulip's wishes as he thrusts into her bloom again and again, coating his great thorn in her sticky pollen, driving them both ever closer to a moment of such ecstasy I cannot hope to describe it to you."

"Uncle!" Zuko hissed, his face a shade of red verging dangerously on violet. He cast a quelling look over his shoulder: the door was closed, but unlocked. "I know what sex is."

"Prince Zuko," said Iroh in disapproving tones, "it is rude to interrupt. We may be far from the court, but that is no excuse to forget your manners.

"Now," he said, leaning forward conspiratorially, "what if the sky tulip does not wish to bear new seeds?"

"I am leaving," said Zuko.

"But where are you going?" Iroh protested. "I am not done!"

"To find the Avatar!" Zuko shouted, pulling the door shut behind him with a terrible crashing bang.

Iroh sighed and reclaimed his cup. "That boy needs to get laid," he told the tea.

This story was originally posted at livejournal on 05/02/2009, for lj user biztheinsane, who routinely asks me to do terrible things. You see before you but one.