The lap of frigid waves against the hull of his ship is soothing amidst the deadly quiet of the Southern Seas, though the occasional clank of ice bits unceremoniously striking the metal is unnerving. With the knowledge that spirits are attacking merchants and fishermen, Iroh thinks he ought to want all the calm he can get.
Calm – the only word he can possibly think of to describe these six dull months after the defeat of Amon and his subsequent return to duty. The only word that illustrates the routine of maintaining his fleet, training his troops, and working with his men. The only word that can describe what life is like after fighting beside a girl named Korra.
The Avatar – but mostly a girl named Korra.
A part of him does not like that he thinks of her continually, but images of her determined blue gaze and windswept hair arise relentlessly, bursting out from that place in his mind and pounding against his skull, sinking into his bones. In the few days that he had fought beside her, been saved by her and had done some saving in return, her image had imprinted itself upon his skin until he was forced to admit that his eyes didn't just snap to her when she entered the room because she was the Avatar.
It was because she was Korra.
Passionate, naïve, stubborn, reckless, beautiful Korra.
He stares out into the dark water, thinking about her (again). He wonders at her, at the fact that a little girl who grew up in ice and white and cold could have so much fire. He wonders if she remembers him as he remembers her, the girl who gently held him as she rescued him from death in the middle of a burning bay.
In his secret heart, he cannot lie, and once he is aware of it, he cannot stop it. He wants her and he wants her to want him. He wants to relax and smile at her, with her, instead of waging a war against a heartless enemy, to live for one pure moment without the weight of his duties sitting heavily on his shoulders until he wants to sink onto the ground and curl up into himself, to shed his uniform and be free with her, to laugh with her and argue with her and kiss her –
"General Iroh, we've received a telegram!"
He starts, simultaneously annoyed and embarrassed by his thoughts. "Yes?"
"The Avatar –"
Iroh's head whips around.
"—has notified us that Northern Water Tribe ships are forcing their way into the South. She wants your aid as soon as possible. Chief Unalaq is attempting to usurp his brother and—"
"And we're heading there immediately. Notify the crew at once. I want our troops on deck within half an hour for a briefing."
When Iroh faces the sea once more, he cannot hide the grin forcing its way onto his face, pulling at his lips until a broad smile forms. Though battles and skirmishes are never good, he can't help himself. Now he knows.
He knows that she remembers him.
A/N: Can I get a woot-woot for Season 2? (except where the heck is Iroh?! And Zuko?!)