The telegram had been so succinct and emotionless that for a moment, Iroh was taken aback. To be so emotionless and professional wasn't like her at all. That was more his thing, and he knew Korra knew that.
"Tell the Avatar we will be arriving in three days' time, and that I look forward to regaining Republic City. Together."
He had hoped she would discern the meaning behind those words…
…but it was evident that she had not.
Blood and war. Pain and despair. After it was all over, Iroh had hoped. Sitting at the table, waiting for everyone to debrief, he had been apprehensive, nervous, impatient. When she walked in, he had taken a deep breath. Watching that firebender gaze down at her, though, he felt his heart drop. Her returning smile had only been an additional punch to his stomach.
It was already too late, Iroh knew. Korra was his no longer.
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