"The perfect couple."
"Everyone knew it would happen."
"Finally! They are such a handsome match."
Asami heard snatches of the conversation surrounding her as she watched the scene before her unfold. Korra lept into Mako's arms and he twirled around in a circle, Asami felt her heart drop to her stomach. Their lips moved in conversation, but she couldn't make out what they said. She imagined it was something along the lines of, 'I love you and I always have'.
She couldn't take much more of this.
Hastily, she splayed out her arms and pushed her way through the small crowd of people, tears swimming in her beautiful green eyes. She kept making her way through the seemingly endless throng. How many people were here?
Suddenly, her hands hit a very solid figure.
Not him. Please, not him. She didn't want him seeing her like this. He was the only person who didn't see her as fragile, weak, unable to work. She was in her weakest state… And over a boy no less.
"Asami… Are you… Are you crying?"
She tried to discreetly wipe the tears from her eyes, smearing her makeup in the process. She cursed under her breath, imagining how her pale white face would look with black smears of eyeliner all over it.
"I'm fine." She managed, not bringing her head up to meet his sharp amber eyes.
Crap. Her shaky voice had betrayed her. She felt his arms circle around her shoulders and steer her back into the house. The severe wind brought color to her porcelain face, the cold stinging her cheeks. When they entered the air bender's home, the warmth of the room filled her and she let out a deep, shuddery sigh.
"Asami," a small smile found its way to her face as he spoke her name, she'd had to assure him a slew of times that 'Miss Sato' was much too formal for her.
"Asami, please look at me."
She felt two of his fingers gently push her chin up, so they were eye-to-eye. She immediately wished he hadn't, the expression in his eyes was pity. If there was one thing Asami didn't want from Iroh, it was pity.
"What do you want?" she spat out, quickly turning away from him so he wouldn't see the fresh tears that had sprung in her eyes.
"Asami," his voice sounded weary, "I am an elite warrior. I've been trained by firelord Zuko himself. I've faced an army of a thousand with not 20 comrades and came out successful. However, when it comes to soothing a crying woman… I'm about as useful as a turtle-monkey."
At this, she made an ugly sound, somewhere between a chuckle and a sob.
"You're not doing too bad." she reassured, softly smiling at the ground.
"If you want to talk about it.." Iroh trailed off, there was an awkward pause.
"The cliché of all cliché's, talking about it," Asami said with a heavy sigh. She turned around, he knew she was crying, she might as well stop kidding herself.
Iroh coughed and rubbed the back of his neck nervously, "I understand how this might be, erm, upsetting..." he looked flustered and wildly uncomfortable.
Asami loved it.
He'd always looked so put together and perfect, it was nice to see he wasn't always a wonder-boy.
"It's just…" she groaned, falling back onto the couch and slouching sloppily, Iroh looked alarmed at the unladylike behavior and quickly took a seat next to her, "I don't know.. It's the way he ended things that bothered me, I knew he was in love with Korra. I knew it for a while, and I'd bring it up and he'd shy away from the subject. Then he goes off and publicly kisses her without fully breaking up with me…"
Iroh was silent through her rant. When she was done, he spoke, "He doesn't deserve you, you know." He said in a quiet, low voice.
Asami met his eyes willingly, "You're just saying that because you want me to stop crying." She tried to tease him, but his expression remained stony.
"I'm serious. Asami, you're brave and funny and loyal. Mako is… Mako is an idiot if he doesn't realize that." He said looking at her gravely.
She offered him a genuine smile, "Thanks, you're not so bad yourself." She offered, regaining her composure.
"Would this… Would this be a good time to hug you?" Iroh asked, nervously scooting closer to her. She smiled at his complete and utter lack of knowledge when it came to women.
"Yes, Iroh, now would be a fine time to hug me." She scooched closer to him, and wrapped her skinny arms around his muscular torso, burying her face into his red uniform. He smelled smoky, like burning sage and pine. It was a beautiful smell.
"Thank you, for this." She said, looking up at him.
"Anytime." He smiled at her, his angular features softening. She realized, then and there, in that moment, she wanted more than anything to kiss him.
Then he seemed to realize the inappropriateness of their proximity and quickly scurried backwards, as did she. They both looked flustered and embarrassed.
"I should, um, head back to my quarters." Asami said, hastily getting up and brushing imaginary dust off her pants.
"As should I. I have some… reading I need to catch up on." Iroh said, he internally groaned at the lame excuse. Reading? Seriously?
"Well, I'll see you at dinner." Asami said, she caught sight of herself in a mirror and quickly rearranged her hair to look decent.
"See you at dinner." Iroh said, and began to make his way down the opposite hall, Asami stared at his retreating figure for a moment, then made her way to her own room.
"Oh, and Asami?" She whipped around at Iroh's fading voice.
"Yes?" she called after him.
"You look much better without makeup."
Even though the events of the afternoon had been far from pleasant, that one compliment kept replaying in her mind all afternoon.
And try as she might, she couldn't keep the smile from returning to her face.