A/N: Slight spoilers for ep. 10, but really, who hasn't already seen it?
Disclaimer: I own nothing except my ideas for General Iroh II's character and his burning love for Asami. enjoy.
oh simple thing
where have you gone?
I'm getting older
I need something to rely on
He'd taken after his namesake, following in Great-Great Uncle Iroh's steps in becoming a general. The only difference was that, from what Grandfather Zuko had always described in stories, that Iroh saw many great battles. He also went AWOL and breathed fire, but those were different matters. The younger Iroh had presided over the United Forces calmly and coolly, awaiting orders requesting action. And, finally, the Avatar had sent them, inviting his fleet from the Hu Xin provinces into Republic City to fight against Amon for what he and the United Republic of Nations hoped to be the last time. The battle had been grueling, drawn-out, and exhausted more of Iroh's soldiers than he had ever expected. Amon's army of Chi-Blockers were ruthless, but Iroh noted grimly smile that Avatar Korra and her small team of friends had heart, and definitely didn't give up without a fight. In the end, Korra had been the one to end Amon, with the eager help of Uncle Tenzin, who had coached her into the Avatar State.
Iroh surveyed the ruins of the once-great city his grandfather and Avatar Aang had created. A team of medics was patching up the Earthbender that had fought with Korra; he was weak from electrocution, and had suffered a deep cut to his arm. To his left, Korra was seated on the cement steps of what used to be a building; instead of a door behind her, there was only a pile of rubble. The Firebender of her group rushed past Iroh, bumping his shoulder, headed in her direction, and dropped himself to the steps behind her, offering comfort. All around him, the people of Republic City, benders and non, were offering each other comfort, even in the face of such disaster; it was a resilience that brought him hope.
He remembered with a wry smile something Grandfather had said about coming back from the battle against Fire Lord Ozai, when he and Avatar Aang had restored peace and balance to the world. Grandfather had said one of his favorite parts of the battle was going home and being united with Grandmother Mai. He had said that all the honor in the world was nothing without her being there to share it with him. And, Iroh surmised, noting the way the Firebender's arm slung around Korra's shoulder, this boy intended to share it with her.
It was bittersweet, Iroh had always thought, seeing couples around him. Twenty-six wasn't necessarily old, but he felt his age stood out much more when he saw such young love in front of him. He'd devoted his life to training in combat, focused on a military career in a way to honor his namesake. And he enjoyed it; there was no doubt about that. But, at times, he truly felt he'd missed out on a lot by not settling down sooner. He'd courted, but never been able to commit to something serious. Was there something wrong with him? Some of the men at his command already had children. Iroh had time, of course – all the time in the world. But seeing everyone coming together in the aftermath of the battle really had a way of reminding him that he was alone.
And then he saw her.
In the midst of the hugs and reassurances and grieving, she sat alone on the hood of a Satomobile across the street from him. He remembered someone clad in those clothes fighting Equalists left and right, but he'd never been able to focus on her face. She was quite possibly one of the most beautiful women Iroh had ever seen, but what had really caught his attention was the fact that her head was bowed, her body shaking with sobs. And, in Iroh's opinion, there was nothing worse than seeing a pretty girl cry.
He crossed the street, headed in her direction. She glanced up when he approached. "Hello, General," she offered, her voice feeble. She hugged her arms around herself and looked to her feet.
"I would like to extend my gratitude to you for your service to Republic City today," Iroh said slowly, his voice gentle. "Miss …?"
"Sato. Asami Sato. And thank you."
Her voice was clipped, and realization dawned across Iroh's face. She must have been the daughter Hiroshi Sato had been babbling about before he had been executed by one of Iroh's soldiers. Even with her father at Amon's side, the girl had still fought with the Avatar and proven herself very skilled in combat. Iroh felt impressed with her courage and drive, wondering absently what had separated her loyalties from her father's.
"I am, uh, sorry about your father," Iroh said after a moment. "I cannot deny that he was a bright man… He was just fighting for the wrong cause."
Asami nodded once before looking up to Iroh's face; her eyes were impossibly green, almost glowing from her tears. "I'm not proud of what my dad became. But I loved him very much."
Iroh hesitated, unsure of what information the girl would be able to handle, before finally saying, "He spoke of you." She said nothing, but watched him curiously, and he added simply, "He cared for you. And I know he would be proud of the daughter he raised…" Iroh trailed off before reaching up to scratch the back of his neck awkwardly. "You were definitely something out there, Miss Sato. More skilled in fighting than men of my own army."
A smile tugged at the corner of her lips, and she brushed away a stray tear with a fingertip. "Call me Asami," she told him.
This time, she smiled with her teeth, and Iroh decided he liked it very much.
"I really didn't contribute more than anyone else, though," Asami started after a moment. "Korra is the real hero. She deserves all the praise…" Asami looked up, her eyes focusing on something across the street, and she scoffed. "Looks like she's getting it, too," she muttered.
Iroh looked up confusedly, following her eyes to where Korra sat, leaning heavily against the Firebender. When he looked back to Asami, she was watching him, her cheeks pink and her eyes shining with unshed tears. Was he missing something…?
"I'm sorry, I shouldn't have said that," she spoke after a moment, her voice a quiet whisper.
"It's alright, Miss… Asami. Just…" Iroh glanced to the couple across the damaged street before looking back to the Future Industries heiress before him. "Is there something wrong?"
"Nothing," Asami replied, though Iroh had been alive long enough to know that when women said 'nothing', they generally meant 'something'. "Just," she continued after a moment, letting out a huge sigh, "just my good-for-nothing ex-boyfriend."
"Ah," Iroh offered, unsure of the polite way to respond to her statement. He scratched the back of his neck again.
"I'm sorry," Asami finally sighed, looking up to Iroh. "I'm being stupid about this, really. It's just a lot to lose in the span of a day. And maybe I showed up at the wrong time, maybe I never had a chance…" She looked back to the Avatar and the Firebending boy, expression wistful. "I just wish he'd have told me sooner, instead of leading me on." Her eyes flicked to meet Iroh's. "But enough about my stupid problems. Without you and your fleet, I might not even be here right now. I feel like I may owe you my life."
Iroh chuckled, flushing slightly, and tugged at his collar. "I don't know if I'd go that far…" Asami was smiling warmly at him, and he felt like a doofus, like he was forgetting his manners and etiquette and the calm façade he wore as general, and the silence between them drug out for a moment before he coughed.
"So…" Iroh said after a long pause. "Forgive me if this is too forward of me, but, well, would you like to go out sometime? I mean, probably not for awhile," he corrected quickly, gesturing with a hand at the destruction around them, "but, you know, eventually. We could get tea?"
Asami's cheeks turned red and her gaze fell to her lap. "I'd like that," she said softly.