BEWARE! THIS WILL BE RATED "M" FOR A REASON!
This is set after "The Waterscrolls".
Edit: This chapter has been altered and redone.
"So, we have a deal?" The Admiral smirked as he pressed a small chest full of gold over to the large, grungy pirate Captain sitting across from him. The Captain growled and scowled at the firebender in front of him. He then opened the chest and realized he wasn't being snipped. No, he wasn't being snipped at all, in way, shape, or form.
This surprised him greatly. The majority of bargainers would merely cover the bottom of a chest, or half way fill a sack and still expect a job-well-done. But this man was serious, and the pirate now knew that for a fact he could write down into a history book if he needed to. This chest was absolutely filled to the brim with gold pieces. Yes, this pirate and his crew would indeed do a fine job at accomplishing the task ahead of them, they would make sure of it.
The Captain chuckled and closed the chest, securing it with a lock of his own. "We've got a deal, alright." The Captain and the Admiral stood simultaneously and shook hands. "Nice workin' wit' ya." The Captain said as he tipped his hat a turned away. The parrot-iguana that was perched on his shoulder squawked and stretched it's wings as they left the room, the crew following closely behind.
Admiral Zhao smirked and and quietly sat back down, lacing his fingers together, patiently waiting to hear the plan go through.
Iroh quietly made his way to his nephew's room. The ship was so silent and cold now, without the crew. He knew his nephew, Prince Zuko, wasn't taking the situation very well, but Iroh would still ask him if he would like to accompany him on the stroll he was about to take, hopefully to talk about it, or to simply clear his mind.
The old general gently knocked on the door before slowly twisting the hatch open. "Prince Zuko," He called out. "I know you're bothered by Admiral Zhao's doings, but would you like to come with me on a nice walk up the trail? It would be a great opportunity to talk about how you're feeling!" Iroh said, ending with a great, happy smile towards his young, troubled nephew. Iroh waited for a response, and of course, there was none. "...or just lay in your room in the dark, whatever makes you happy." The boy's uncle hung his head with a frown on his face and slowly closed the door behind him.
"Hmmm." The General paused and stroked his goatee. "Perhaps he will change his mind... in the meanwhile, this is a perfect time to make a nice, hot cup of tea!" Iroh let a big grin take the place of frown as he headed towards the kitchen with a smile on his face. The cook and his food may be gone, but Iroh and his excellent tea-making skills where still here! He figured he shouldn't let them go to waste!
Zuko lay quietly on his mattress with his arms crossed over his chest and a scowl across his face. He couldn't believe it! That Admiral Zhao had taken his whole crew on his quest to find the Avatar!
The Admiral had a whole fleet under his command, he was bound to find the Avatar before the prince did. If that old, cranky Admiral succeeds, Zuko will never be able to return home. Just as this thought crosses his mind, the prince hears one of the rusty hatch doors open.
Zuko sat up up and listened closely, able to make out a set of foot steps, but they're far too light to be his Uncle's. It couldn't be one of the crew's, they're gone, plus theirs would be click-clanking all the way down the hall. Zuko slowly opened his door before jumping through the door way, landing in a firebending stance, ready to attack if needed. But no one is there.
"Uncle?" He called out, furrowing his brows. He remembers that his Uncle had just asked him to accompany him on a stroll up some dumb trail. It couldn't be him, could it? 'Oh, of course!' The thought hits the prince like a ton of bricks. His Uncle would go no where without a cup of tea first! He must be in the kitchen.
Prince Zuko calmly made his way to the kitchen, and before he could even make it into the room, he can hear his Uncle's humming.
"Uncl-whoa!" He can't even finish his sentence before he falls flat on his face. He had slipped on something slippery.
"Zuko!" Iroh calls, running towards him.
"What is this?" Zuko wiped the residue on four of his fingers before lifting to his nose and taking a sniff. "Blasting jelly! Uncle, what are you doing putting this all over the floors!"
"I didn't do that..." Zuko's eyes widened, if not him, then who?
Zuko grabbed his Uncle by the wrists and bolted towards the ship's deck. A trail of the deadly jelly stops in the middle of it. Zuko spotted a group of men over the side, reaching for something.
"Hey!" The young firebender called out.
One of the men looked over his shoulder to him. It's one of the pirates!
"What do you think you're doing!"
Zuko quickly sent a wave of fire towards the group men.
"Careful with that fire, Nephew! Wouldn't want to light this trail!" Iroh called after him. Zuko wasn't a master a fire bender, and he certainly wasn't a master at self control, or his temper. He needed to watch himself, or he could let the whole rig explode.
It wasn't long before some of the men were around Iroh, but with a few jabs and kicks, the master had already taken out half of them.
"Stay away from him!" Iroh heard his nephew call out. He saw a flick of fire out of the corner of his eye and before he knew the trail of jelly had been lit.
"What did I tell you, Prince Zuko!" This time, it was Iroh grabbing his nephew by the wrists and high-tailing it out of there, but one of the pirates saw and quickly used his hook swords to trip the prince.
"Go!" Zuko waved his uncle away. "I'll be fine!" Iroh hesitated, but turned to the edge of the ship and made a run for the ledge. He heard a blast of fire come from his nephew's ship as he jumped over the rail. He had just been able to land into the water before the whole ship exploded.
"Hey Aang," Katara called for the young avatar as she turns, looking in his direction. He's on Appa's head, holding the reigns that are attached to the bison's horns.
Aang looks over his shoulder to her. "Yeah?" He asks.
"Maybe we should try these scrolls one more time before we head into a different town. There may not be a river like this that we can practice in." Aang looks down at the water. It does look nice, and it's such a perfect fay to practice water. Not too hot, not too cold. The sun is high in the sky, and there's not a cloud for miles.
"Ah, okay." He shrugs his shoulder and pulls the rings up, telling Appa to start descend.
"Hey!" Sokka protests. "What are you doing! Who knows where that crazy one-eyed freak is, or those crazy stalker pirates! We should be leaving! You can practice later!"
"Relax, Sokka." Katara puts her hands on her hips and furrows her brow. "Those pirates went down the water fall, and Zuko has no river boat, his ship couldn't possibly make it up the river. Besides, today is beautiful, and Aang needs to learn as much waterbending as he can! You know it's important!" She pointed out, leaning towards him as she glares up to him.
"Yeah? Well you would think our safety would be more important!" Sokka let out a huff as he crossed his arms over his chest.
Aang raises a brow and looks over to Sokka. "You could fish while Katara and I practice." Aang didn't eat meat, or promote doing so, but he knew Sokka loved his meat, and this was probably the only way they were going to get him to agree in landing at the river again.
Sokka leaned over the edge of Appa's saddle as they landed, looking at the river. He noticed all the dark spots in the water, fish that are trying to swim up the river, but aren't going fast enough. Meat, wonderful, tasty meat. Though they had just visited a market, their supplies were always over ran with fruits for Aang and his pets. Sokka couldn't resist this opportunity.
"Oh, alright." Sokka sighed out, sliding down Appa's tail.
Katara and Aang are already making their way down the river a little ways down so they don't scare this fish from Sokka.
"Katara, what is this?" Aang asked, pointing at an odd object that had washed onto the shore.
"I don't know..." Katara placed the tip of her pointer finger on her lip as she looked around, other bits and pieces had washed up along the river and some were still floating about.
Aang gasped and pointed to a crook in the river. "Look!" He shouted as he ran towards it.
"What is it, Aang!" Katara ran after him. Aang fell to his knees and stared at the body that had been washed up. A heavy, grey haired man was laying down, facing away from him.
"Katara," Aang breathed out, waves of concern crashing over him.
"Oh my goodness." Katara gasped out. Aang gently rolled the poor man over. He jumped a little when he heard Katara screech behind him. "Get away from him, Aang! It's Zuko's uncle!" She growled out. Aang furrowed his brow and looked around. There no sign of the hot-headed prince. Aang looked back down at the princes' uncle.
"No, Katara," Aang said softly as he pointed out to the stay pieces of bent medal and broken wood. "Look, those are pieces of Zuko's ship!" Then the young avatar noticed the marks on General Iroh. "The ship must have exploded. He barely made it out. We have to help him!" Aang said as he stood up and faced the waterbender. "Bend the water from his lungs!" He ordered, motioning towards the unconscious man before him.
"Aang, what if this is a trick," She glanced around, searching for any sign of anything suspicious.
"Katara! Look at him!" Katara was taken back by Aang's harsh tone.
She looked down at the old man. He and his nephew had been chasing them for so long. All he wanted to do was get Aang into his Fire Nation fingers. She looked back up at Aang and saw the desperation on his face.
"Oh, alright!" She huffed in defeated as she went to her knees, hovering his hands over the old man's chest. "But if this is a trick!" She warned him, narrowing her eyes up at him. Aang crossed his arms and watched her as she gently bent the water from his lungs. Iroh coughed and wheezed. He grumbled something before his eyes shot open.
"Zuko!" He called out, sitting up suddenly. "Zuko!" He desperately called out again, looking around frantically.
Katara placed her hand on his shoulder and gently pushed him back and bit. "You should stay down," She said calmly. It was obvious that Iroh was seriously worried. He coughed horribly and took her hand off of him.
"What happened?" Aang asked softly as he sat down beside the princes' old uncle.
Iroh groaned and cleared his throat. He panted and looked around. Katara slumped over when she saw the amount of worry on his face. Something terrible must have happened to separate these two.
"It's okay." Aang rubbed Iroh's shoulder and gave him a small smile for comfort and reassurance. The old generals face fell as he looked away.
"I'm afraid it's not." He croaked out.
"Why? What is it? What happened?" Aang leaned in a bit and put both his hands on Iroh's shoulders. "We'll help you." Aang assured softly.
Iroh looked up at Aang. "The pirates that we ran into..." Iroh paused and looked away. "They...they took blasting jelly and...and.." Aang's face fell. It all made sense now. Horrible, awful sense. "I was able off the edge just in time," Iroh paused, a wave of realization searing through his amber eyes. "I just left him there!" Iroh admitted sourly as he looked up at Aang again. "I shouldn't have left him! I could have helped him!" Aang was stunned, surprised to see the general struggle to fight back tears.
Aang quickly wrapped his arms around him and looked up to Katara, his eyes filled with honest concern. Her hands were covering her mouth and he could tell she was holding back tears from seeing Iroh like this. Though she had bad feelings towards him, she just couldn't stand seeing anyone so upset and lost, even him.
"Hey!" Katara and Aang looked up at the sound of Sokka's voice. He was running towards them with his battle club and boomerang at hand. "What's going on? I heard someone yell Zuko's name!"
"Shh!" Katara stood up and placed two of her fingers over he brother's lips. He furrowed his brows and pouted. She turned and pointed towards Iroh. Sokka's shoulders dropped and he looked towards Aang, tilting his head in confusion.
Aang blinked and mouthed "tell you later". Sokka nodded his head and looked towards his sister. She placed a hand on her his shoulder and guided him away from Iroh.
Katara stopped once they reached Appa. She rested her right hand just above her right elbow and looked down. "We think he lost Zuko to an explosion. Those pirates caught up with them..." Sokka sighed and looked towards their direction. Aang was still holding Iroh.
"What are we supposed to do?" He asked, placing his club on his shoulder.
"I'm not sure... we just can't leave him, you Aang wouldn't allow it." Sokka huffed and kicked a small rock into the near by river. Another mouth to feed.
"I'll go catch some fish for his highness." Sokka mocked Iroh's bloodline as he shuffled over to the water. Katara pressed her lips together and started her way back over to Aang and Iroh.
"Aang," She said softly. The young avatar looked up at her. "What are we going to do?" Katara asked, tilting her head to one side.
"I...I'm not sure." He admitted, slowly pulling away from the frazzled general. Iroh slumped over even more and continued to cry.
"I should have stayed." He mumbled. Aang and Katara remained silent, unsure if he was speaking to them or not. "Just like Lu Ten."
Katara stepped back and looked at Iroh with anguish. "Who's Lu Ten?" She whispered, hiding her mouth away from Iroh with her hand.
Aang glanced at Iroh before looking back up at Katara and shrugging. "I don't know." He mumbled.
Katara frowned and lowered herself to Iroh's level. She placed a hand on his shoulder blade and comforted him. "Iroh," She said softly. "I know you may not know us, and we don't know you, but.." Katara trailed off and looked up at Aang. He nodded in agreement. "We can help you. We'll help you."
Iroh looked up at her with puffy eyes. She smiled and gently squeezed his shoulder. "Really?" He croaked out. Katara nodded and stood.
"Come on, you need to rest." She helped him up and let him put his arm around her shoulder for support. Aang allowed him to do the same on the other side as he limped towards Appa.
"Here, you can lay here." Aang said, helping Iroh down onto Appa's tail. "We were going to leave soon, but we'll stay a while and help you look for Zuko." Iroh let his eyes drift shut.
Just before Aang turned away, he softly called out: "Avatar Aang," Aang paused and looked towards their new guest.
"Yes?" He asked kindly. "Thank you...you've given me hope in a time of great need." Aang smiled. He could tell the Iroh was usually a much more calm and collected man, he picked up slight hints of embarrassment in his voice. This was his way of recomposing himself.
"I will always be here to help." Aang bowed and began to turn away. Aang was in mid-step before he stopped. It was the Avatar's duty to help those in need. It was also the Avatars duty to learn all four elements. The old general already owed Aang his life, and soon he would be in even more dept once they began searching for the generals nephew. Iroh owed him. A lot.
Aang smirked and turned towards Iroh once again. "My friend here saved your life," He began.
"Oh, I know." Iroh sighed out, assuring him that he was very aware of this.
"And soon, I'm going to begin searching for your nephew, the boy who has been chasing me all over the world, trying to bring me to the Fire Lord." Iroh opened one of eyes to look at the young avatar. "You'll be very far in dept to me." Iroh nodded his head. "I know how you can repay me."
Sokka and Katara looked at each other with confusing, then back to Aang. "You and your nephew can no longer chase me, or my friends." Iroh nodded again. "And.." Iroh opened both eyes and raised a brow. "You'll have to teach me firebending." The water tribe's sibling's mouths dropped. What on earth was Aang doing!
"So, we have a deal?" The avatar asked, holding out his hand. Iroh smiled and shook the boys hand. "We've got a deal."
A/N: Leave a review! Tell me what you think, please!