Legacy of My Father
Summary: One-shot – Iroh will give Ozai his throne and country in return for his legacy.
Author's Notes: A different interpretation of Iroh. Might seem OOC to some, but I honestly think he could do this. He beat out Ozai as the favorite son of Azulon for a reason.
Disclaimer: I do not own any characters featured in this story. They all belong to Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko.
Legacy of My Father
Iroh does not fight Ozai for the crown that is rightfully his. He does not battle for the country he was born to lead, and the people he has defended and cared for all his life. He does not vow revenge for the father that he knows was murdered, or the sister he knows was banished.
Iroh just gives it all to his little brother with a smile and vows to support him as Fire Lord.
Ozai takes it all with suspicious eyes that eventually grow less watchful as Iroh spends his days drinking tea and playing Pai Sho. Eventually he forgets all about his brother and that he was once called The Dragon of the West.
Iroh never forgets.
Ozai values power and control most of all. He judges people on these merits only and refuses to see the other colors of values.
That is why Azula, who is a prodigy, is Ozai's favorite child.
And why Zuko, who is not, is loathed.
Iroh watches his brother and then watches his children.
Watches and learns.
Azula is strong and mesmerizing and arrogant. She basks under the rays of love her father and country give her, and hungers for all the power the world has to offer.
She also dances on the edge of a thin blade. If pushed enough, she will fall into a madness of her own making.
However, for all her traits she does not resemble Ozai. Oh, she has his cunning and ambition and his eyes but everything else is from Ursa and Azulon.
Azula is the beloved child of Ozai but she is not his legacy.
So Iroh leaves her to her fate and moves on.
Zuko is fire.
He is hot headed and easily angered, and at the same time warm and compassionate. He is burning eyes and passionate words and glowing smiles.
He struggles through life under the weight of his sister and father and title. He falters and falls many times but does not stop going.
Zuko is Ozai's legacy.
He is the phoenix reborn from the ashes of everything that Ozai had cast from himself in order to become the man Azulon wanted. He is the legacy of another man who also once struggled to beat his own prodigy sibling for their father's love.
Iroh moves a white stone on his Pai Sho board and plans.
When Iroh chooses to follow Zuko on his futile search, Ozai gives him a look of surprised bewilderment.
"Why?" he asks, honestly confused.
Iroh just smiles and shrugs. "Because he is you."
The confusion does not ebb away from Ozai's face.
It will stay that way for a long time.
Iroh watches over his nephew for the next four years.
He plays many parts during those years. Uncle, mentor, companion, teacher, protector, father. He almost begins to forget that there ever was a time where he wasn't with Zuko; guiding him, loving him, molding him into the ruler he will one day be.
He almost forgets that he is The Dragon of the West.
But not quite.
He lets Zuko betray him because it is necessary.
Zuko must learn for himself that his father's love is poisonous and his sister's words a lie. He must see for himself the damage his father has done to their country and people. He must see it all and learn and decide because that is the only way he will ever strike out against his father.
Iroh breaks himself out of prison and then waits for Zuko to come to him.
He does, eventually. Crying hot and bitter tears and burning with guilt and remorse.
Iroh embraces him and takes it all in even as he whispers that Zuko must become Fire Lord.
Zuko nods in agreement and vows to do just that.
Iroh smiles and makes them both some tea.
The last time Iroh see's Ozai he is stripped of his fire, crown, and family.
"Why did you follow him?" Ozai asks because he still does not see himself in Zuko, and still does not see the strings that Iroh has been pulling for so long.
Iroh smiles and shrugs. "Because he is you and only you would destroy your father for the throne."
Ozai is not confused anymore.