all those shadows almost killed your light




#1: When she knocks his feet out from under him for the fourth time, he figures he should stop going easy on her. He's never been knocked down, not once in his short twenty six years on the planet.

His lips twitch as she flicks her hair from her face, grumbling as a few stray hairs fall into her eyes. He takes advantage of the moment, jackknifing from the ground to his feet. With one swift kick, she's on the ground and he's hovering above her.

His fingers gently brush her bangs from her face, and she glares up at him, pout slipping onto her face, "Cheater." she mutters, but her cheeks tinge pink.

#2: "I'm not a bender," she tells him, and she doesn't sound particularly perplexed by that, it's just a statement. And yet, the inferiority stinging her voice is there. Of course, Iroh can see why. It would difficult to not feel inferior around the Avatar, a two pro-benders.

Iroh flexes his fingers, and then, so quickly she didn't have a hope of seeing it coming, lightning erupts from his fingers, going straight for her heart. She gasps, lifts her gloved hand, catches the brunt of the lightning, and redirects it to a paper target on the wall.

The target floats to the ground, charred. Iroh turns to her, grinning, "That doesn't mean you aren't powerful, Miss Sato."

Her answering smile has him in a good mood for the rest of the day.

#3: "Really, Korra, you can't expect me to just walk right up to the General of the United Forces and kiss him—mmph!"

She careens into a strong chest, warm hands immediately gripping the tops of her arms, lips on hers. Her eyes snap wide open, and golden orbs reflect back at her. His mouth is soft, fits perfectly, and imploring against hers.

After a long moment, they pull back, red rising to their cheeks. They exchange awkward 'sorry's' and General Iroh hurries away, rubbing the back of his neck.

Korra watches the exchange, open mouthed, and replays Asami running smack-dab into General Iroh, lips meeting lips, over and over again for the next day and a half, laughing boisterously every time, much to the pair's embarrassment.

#4: "My mother used to tell me that red was the color of blood, of death." he tells her, flames leaping from his fingertips. They sit cross-legged across from each other, small table separating them, table filled with tea cups, a kettle, and sugar cubes.

Iroh chews a sugar cube absently, and Asami watches the flames dancing across his palm with interest, listening intently to his words, "She always was a cynic." he finally adds, lips twitching into a smile. "My father, on the other hand, told me red represented desire, passion."

Asami's eyes flick from the flames to his face, "And what do you think red means?" she asks.

Iroh's voice catches in his throat, the tips of his ears to pink, and he swallows, "I've always seen it as the color of love." he tells her, eyes falling to the tea cups between them.

Asami hides her smile behind her hand.

#5: All it takes is a charming smile, the swish of her hair against her shoulders, and the soft lilt of her voice for her to render him useless. He stutters, something he hasn't done around a pretty woman since he was ten years old, and asks for her name.

"Asami," she tells him, and holds out her hand for him to shake.

Iroh takes her hand, turns it, and drops a light kiss onto the back of it to make a smooth recovery from his embarrassing stuttering, and says, "I'm Iroh, the second, General of the United Forces." when he looks up at her, her cheeks are stained pink, and her lips are curved into a smile.

"It's a pleasure to meet you." they say simultaneously, twin blushes blossoming across their cheeks.

#6: Purple is lost in the green of her eyes, violet flecks around her irises. Purple is in the curled, inky edges of her hair, shining bright in the sun. Purple is the color of the flowers her perfume smells like. Purple is in the color she paints on her eyelids, highlighting the color of her eyes and the curve of her lips. Purple is the thread that weaves its way through her clothing.

He notices these things as they stand side by side, surveying the carnage of the battlefield below them. It gives him a little hope, a little faith.

Because he can still see beauty in the world around him.

#7: The first rays of yellow peak above the clouds, and Asami lifts her head from the ground. There's a cut on her cheek that burns, there's a bruise on her stomach, the hand wrapped in her Equalist glove is sore. She rolls over onto her back, cement rock pieces from the destroyed buildings around her hard underneath her back. She'd fallen to the ground, exhausted, after she'd heard that Korra and Mako had defeated Amon, and the remaining chi-blockers she and the General had been fighting had taken off. The General had gone after them, but she'd been too tired. It felt as if she'd been fighting all day, and she guesses she had.

The final battle had started the night before, when the moon was high in the sky, and now the sun was rising. She struggles to sit up, eyes on the glorious orange, yellow, and pinks of the sunrise above her. She manages to pull herself into a sitting position.

Footsteps sound from behind her, and hands grip the tops of her arms, lifting her. She falls back against a hard chest, eyes still on the sunrise. She knows it's General Iroh, knows because she'd fought back to back with him all night, and his campfire and musk scent was hard to miss. She leans back against him, glad his arms are supporting her weight. She probably couldn't hold herself up.

"Are you alright, Miss Sato?" he asks, even though she's insisted he calls her Asami.

She keeps her eyes on the swirling yellow orb finding its way to the highest perch in the sky, and she nods, "I'm fine." or at least, she will be, "Isn't the sunrise beautiful?" she asks, voice raspy.

Iroh squeezes her shoulders, "It is." he agrees, and when she looks over her shoulder at him, heat rises to her cheeks, because he's not looking at the rising sun, he's looking at her.

She turns back around, feels his arms tighten around her, and they watch the sun rise until its nestled in the clouds, shedding light on a new day.

#8: She receives news of her father's death an hour after Korra and Mako defeat Amon. She's in the throes of celebration, not caring that she's cut up and bruised, only happy that they had won. They'd done the impossible and squashed Amon and his Equalists.

The messenger hands her a folded up piece of paper, and she finds that her father was killed, by Amon, shortly before the masked man himself had fallen to Korra and Mako. Her hands shake as she drops the message onto the ground.

Asami sinks to the ground, right where she is, and wraps her arms around her knees. She's conflicted, greatly. Her father had been evil, siding with Amon, ready to kill the Avatar when the opportunity presented itself. And Korra was her friend, so she wasn't okay with that.

But he was still her dad, he had raised her, loved her, given her everything she'd ever wanted. And she loved him because he had been the only thing she'd had left. Now he was gone, and she's not sure how to feel about about that. She sits in silence, face buried into her knees.

After awhile, a form sits beside her on the ground, "Miss Sato?" Iroh questions, "Are you alright? Do you need a Healer—"

"I'm fine." she mutters. She hears the rustle of paper, and knows he's picked up the message.

It's quiet for a moment, and then, "I'm sorry, Miss Sato."

Asami snorts, "Don't lie. He was helping Amon, you probably would have killed him yourself given the chance." she knows she's being obtuse, but she's just so so so angry.

Iroh, to his credit, doesn't take the bait. "You know, Miss Sato, I think I know how you feel. Confused, conflicted. Hiroshi wasn't a good man, but he was still your father."

Asami lifts her head, "How would you know how I feel? Your mom and dad—"

Iroh waves his hand dismissively, "Are alive and well, yes, but you're forgetting who my great Aunt is." Asami stills, eyes widening. "Azula was selfish, and she almost brought about the downfall of the four Nations with her thirst for power. But when I was young, I visited her everyday in her prison cell, and we would play Pai Sho. She would tell me stories and I would tell her all about my day. My grandfather never approved, but even he had a soft spot for his sister. I loved my Aunt Azula, even though I knew what she had done. It's okay to love your father, Miss Sato, you don't have to hate him for his actions."

Asami is quiet, "I do love him." she finally says, "He was my dad."

Iroh smiles at her, dimples flashing, "Then that's all that matters."

#9: She had certainly caught him off guard. Her hair is long, wavy, ink black against the sky. Green eyes shine with intensity, lips curve into a wry smile. She stands tall against the fray, Equalist glove still sparking. There are bodies of chi-blockers and Equalists alike surrounding her, some groan in pain, some are still. She turns her nose up at them, crossing her arms over her chest.

He bites his lip to stop the grin he can feel forming, and sends a fire-blast at a chi-blocker getting too close for comfort. The fighting is tireless, and he's glad he was partnered with Asami Sato. Upon their first meeting, he had thought she was just something to look at, a pretty trinket in shop windows.

But he was wrong. So very wrong. She had fought, just as long and hard as he had, weaving in and out, ducking under arms and legs. She was a fighter, born and raised. He admired that in a woman. She was truly graceful, and she'd even saved his hide a few times.

"Miss Sato," he greets her as she approaches him, flexing her gloved hands.

"I've told you, General Iroh," she rolls her eyes, "call me Asami."

As she says this, a chi-blocker advances on her from behind, and he readies his hands, prepared to jump to her defense. She sees him tense, whips around just in time, and drops into a low kick, sweeping the chi-blocker's feet out from underneath him. Jumping back up, she flicks her hair out of her face, glaring down at the man with disdain.

Oh, yes. He'd certainly underestimated her.

#10: She's grumbling to herself, complaining about Mako and Mako liking Korra and—

"It's been my experience, Miss Sato, that all men are idiots." General Iroh tells her, forgoing a greeting. He stands beside her on the bough of his great ship, hands clasped behind his back.

Asami sniffs, discreetly wiping at her tears, and the General is gracious enough not to comment on the black makeup staining her cheeks. "Not all men." she concedes, looking at him, suave and tall in his red and white uniform.

He dips his head, "On the contrary, most are pigheaded, stubborn, obnoxious, emotional rocks." he's teasing her, she realizes, as he goes on, "There really aren't any good men left in the world, so you might as well throw in the towel and give up."

"I don't think I'd go that far just yet." Asami decides, eyeing him. He looks down at her, golden eyes swimming with mirth, "I think there are a few good men left." she bumps him with her shoulder, wry smile flashing across her face.

"Perhaps you just haven't found the right one yet." he muses.

Asami looks away from him, hair hiding the pink spiraling across her cheeks. Oh, she thinks, stealing a glance at him, I think I might have.

#11: She finds him in the Healers wing of the Air Temple, sitting on the edge of his bed, shirtless, hunched over. She stands in the doorway, hand at her mouth, as she watches him. He flexes his hands over and over again, and she half expects flames to shoot from the tips of his fingers, but they don't. Her eyes water when he sucks in a shuddering breath, hands clenching into fists.

"Iroh?" she calls softly, and his head snaps up as she steps into the room. "Are you okay? You skipped the celebration—"

"I don't have much to be celebrating, Miss Sato." he counters, voice rasping.

Asami ducks her head, but sits beside him on the bed. She tries to think of something to say, something to make him feel better, but how do you comfort a man who's entire identity has been stolen? "I'm not a bender, you know, and I—I kick some ass."

Iroh's lips twitch, "You've never experienced bending, Miss Sato. Your hands are the only things you have to protect you," he turns his head to look at her, "imagine having them taken away by a madman."

Asami licks at her lips, "It doesn't make you any less of a man. It doesn't make you any less of a person. You're still General Iroh, tea-drinker, grandson of Fire Lord Zuko, son of the Fire Lord, crown prince of the Fire Nation." she puts a hand on his shoulder, "And now you're just like me! We can spar and I won't be scared you're going to singe my hair off."

Iroh's lips twitch into a full fledged grin, and Asami squeezes his shoulder.

#12: (au) Iroh sits, head between his hands, Equalist glove lying at his feet. Korra is inside, at the Air Temple's celebration, sitting beside Mako, laughing, holding his hand, sharing a plate of food. He squeezes his eyes shut, tries to forget the hurt he feels knowing that they've kissed, they've felt things for each other since before he had come into the picture.

The door behind him opens, and he looks up, eyes widening. "General Sato," he swallows, greeting the tall, graceful woman standing above him. She'd shown up just as they were losing the battle, ready to retreat. He'd been amazed, watching her and her soldiers weave back and forth, furious fire blasts leaving her outstretched hands.

Amon had fallen at the hands of General Sato and Korra.

She stares down at him, eyes raking over him with interest, "Is there a reason you've skipped over the celebration to sit out here and mope?" she questions, and to his surprise, she sinks to the ground beside him, the red and white of her uniform melding together as she sits and crosses her left leg over her right in one fluid motion.

"I just…" he licks his lips, "I can't be in there with Mako and Korra right now, General—"

She waves her hand, "Please, call me Asami. And I understand," she smooths her hair over one shoulder, braiding the ends absently, "I've had enough problems with love triangles to last me a lifetime."

From the smile she gives him, he can understand why. She's charming, strong, beautiful, intelligent. Who wouldn't want that?

"It sucks." Iroh says flatly.

Asami nods, "It does, but it gets better. And you should be happy if she's happy, Iroh, or you'll lose yourself in bitterness." she smiles wryly at him, standing. She holds her hand out to him, "Now, please, be my date for tonight. I feel like dancing."

Iroh grins, and takes her hand.

#13: Asami rocks back and forth in anticipation, pulling at her traditional Fire Nation outfit with one hand, holding onto Iroh's arm with the other. "I'm so nervous." she breathes, eyes darting around the room. They're in the dining hall at the Palace, waiting for the previous Fire Lord, Zuko, to arrive.

"Relax." Iroh tells her, amused, "He's going to love you."

"I'm not royalty, Iroh, I feel so out of place here, and—"

As she's speaking, the door's open, and a hunched over old man, scar on his face, enters the room. Asami sucks in a breath, realizes that this is the man who's statue she's passed everyday in Republic City, and her heart soars. She's standing in the presence of greatness. Zuko slowly moves forward, arm and arm with a guide. He's led to the closest seat at the head of the table, and when he's seated, Iroh leads Asami to her own seat.

"Iroh, my grandson!" Zuko smiles, scarred side of his face scrunching up with happiness. Iroh leaves Asami, reaches down and hugs his grandfather. "And who is this? Your girlfriend?" Zuko pokes at him, "Possibly our new Fire Lady?" he throws a wink at one of the guards, and both Asami and Iroh blush.

"Grandfather…" Iroh warns.

Zuko waves a wrinkled hand, "Shut up." he orders, pouring himself a goblet of wine, "I want to see you settled down with children before I kick the bucket—"

"Grandfather." Iroh hedges again, sinking into his seat beside Asami, "This is Asami Sato, she's Avatar Korra's friend."

A twinkle lights in Zuko's eyes when Iroh mentions Korra, and he leans over the table, peering at Asami, "Pretty thing." he says in approval.

"It's an honor to meet you, Fire Lord Zuko." Asami says, blush rising to her cheeks.

Zuko grins, "I haven't been the Fire Lord for some time, Miss Sato." he tells her cheekily, sipping his wine. "I'm just plain ol' Zuko now."

"Asami's been looking forward to meeting you since we left Republic City." Iroh says.

Zuko's eyes light up, and he rubs his hands together, "I bet she wants to hear all about my adventures with Aang."

Asami nods eagerly, and Iroh groans, "Not those stories again…"

"Shush!" Asami and Zuko snap at the same time.

"I would love to hear your stories, Zuko." Asami says, smiling.

"Actually," Zuko strokes his beard, "I think a better tale for the moment is when Iroh was just a young boy, and he—"


#14: "You should enjoy the finer things in life, Miss Sato." Iroh tells her, pouring over a map of Republic City, one hand tracing a route on the map, another pointed at a tea kettle on the desk in front of him. The kettle's steaming under his bending, and Asami pulls her eyes from the window, turning back to him.

"With all due respect, sir, all I've enjoyed my entire life are the finer things." she moves so she's standing beside him, looking over his shoulder at the map.

"I'm not talking about clothing or housing or anything of that sort." he looks over at her, smiling wryly, "My great great Uncle Iroh used to tell my grandfather that tea was the finest thing in life; warm, soothing. Many a spat in the Fire Nation council room has been settled by the brewing of a good jasmine tea."

Asami lifts her hand to her mouth, covering her smile. How serious he takes tea is amusing. "Are you laughing at me, Miss Sato?" he asks, just as the kettle squeals. He pours her a cup and hands it to her. The steam rising from the tea calms her, and the smell even more so. She sips at her tea, watching him.

He's completely engrossed in his work, eyes roaming the map. His tea has stopped steaming, gone cold. She's perplexed by that. She thinks he works too hard, and she decides to remedy that. She sets her cup done, pushes her hair over one shoulder, and shoves him into the chair behind his desk.

"Miss Sato?" he questions, eyebrows lifting.

"General Iroh," she coos, stepping in front of him, inky hair shining, green eyes swimming with mirth, "you should enjoy the finer things in life." she's leaning forward, laughing when he swallows roughly, and then she's sweeping his lips up into a kiss.

#15: She's being escorted aboard the grand United Forces ship, UF soldiers on either side of her, questioning her about everything going on in Republic City. She tries to answer all of their questions as best as she can, but all she really wants to do is take a hot shower and find something to eat. Korra, Mako, and Bolin are already on board, Korra making a beeline for General Iroh, ready to hatch a plan of attack. She can see her friends now, standing on the bough of the ship in front of a tall man, arms clasped behind his back.

She freezes. She recognizes that strong jaw, the tall but built form. Suddenly, she feels incredibly stupid for the name 'Iroh' not sticking out to her. She pulls away from the soldiers, starts a brisk walk towards Korra. "Iroh!" she calls, and he turns his head, golden eyes flicking to her. His eyes widen, and he turns fully. She breaks into a run, hair whipping around her face. He bends at the knees, and scoops her up when she crashes into him.

"Asami?" he questions after she pulls away. He holds her at arms length and they both ignore Korra, Mako, and Bolin's bewildered expressions.

"Hi." she greets, lips curving up into a smile. She hugs him again, glad for the first friendly face she's seen all day. Her head rests against his chest, arms tight around his middle.

"Um," Korra breaks in, "am I missing something?" she asks.

"Asami and I trained together on Kyoshi Island when we were kids." Iroh answers, his hand sweeping down Asami's back, coming to a stop on the curve of her waist. "At one point, our parents thought we were going to get married." he rolls his eyes at that.

Asami laughs, the first real one in days. He'd certainly grown into his tall, gawky form. She could feel his muscles contracting underneath his uniform. He must be thinking the same thing, because his fingers ghost over her cheek, "You've certainly grown up." he muses, appreciative.

She can't hide the pink that blossoms across her cheeks, but she pinches his stomach, "But I can still kick your ass."

Iroh grins boyishly, and begins leading her away from Korra and the boys, arm around her shoulders, "Come, you can have a shower in my quarters, and then we'll talk over the cactus-juice spiked tea you like."

and fin, at least until i have another fifteen