Irosami Week is here! I'll be posting the prompts as a chaptered story. Still (slowly) working on Simmer. I appreciate any feedback and please enjoy!
Asami found herself stumbling after the Equalists were defeated. Everything had been a blur - from Amon's escape, to rounding up the chi blockers and her father's arrest. She vaguely remembered his voice, loud and defiant, as he was dragged away. Asami refused to look at him, turning her back just like he turned his back on her (on her mother's memory) when he joined in Amon's crusade of anger and hatred.
A part of her was broken, though. She knew it, just like she knew how to put together an engine of a Satomobile, or how she knew the turns and alleyways of Republic City. Asami just didn't have the voice to tell anyone. Tenzin's quiet offer of letting her stay on Air Temple Island was refused, her pride forcing a bright smile on her face as she chattered about plans for the estate and the company.
Bolin seemed to know - he was surprisingly intuitive when the occasion called for it - and she made a special effort to avoid being alone with him. She didn't know if she could handle his questions and reassurance, afraid that she would break down into a gross, sobbing mess. Asami Sato did not break down so easily.
In the back of her mind, her mother's soft voice echoed in the recess of her memories. Asami couldn't exactly recall what it sounded like, what the cadence was, but her mother had always been a positive, encouraging force in their family. Asami knew that her mother would push her to talk to someone, not to hold everything in because one day it would overflow and she would be knocked down by the sheer force of everything inside her.
After two weeks, her hands started to shake. She was told she needed to eat better – she knew it was something much more that made her body feel weak.
Word of Hiroshi Sato's activities had shocked many, and even those who had agreed with the Equalist statement had been appalled at the sheer lengths the group went to in order to take over the city. Before she knew it, people weren't buying Satomobiles anymore, the factories at a standstill like never before. Her father's secretary insisted that Asami should go out to the public, be the face of the company and denounce her father's actions. Instead, Asami holed herself away in her father's office at home, combing through papers. The city, the entire world, should know that she wasn't like her father.
Hadn't she been at the Avatar's side the whole time? Turning on her father even as her heart broke for the second time in her life? That should be enough. It had to be enough.
Throughout her seventeen years, it was assumed she would take over her father's company when he retired. She knew the inner workings of company politics, the factory and how to build a Satomobile on her own. She just hadn't expected it to happen so soon. There were years of her life she'd expected to live before she had to give it up for the company.
After a while, she grew bitter. Anger built up inside her like a disease, and her friends noticed the change. She could hardly stand to be around anyone anymore, listening to their stories of change and rebuilding while she floundered. The day she snapped at Bolin for something insignificant (some silly joke she didn't even remember), the shock and worry on her friend's faces was enough to make her shove out of her seat, her want to be anywhere but right there, right at that second, propelling her out of her own home and onto the street.
Her surroundings didn't register as she walked through the crowds, distantly aware that she was shoving past people with too much force to be considered polite. She didn't care. The sudden burst of energy, fueled by frustration, sadness and anger made her blind to everything but her own mind.
Before she knew what was happening, she found herself at the harbor, her hands gripping the rail so tightly her knuckles turned white. Her eyes stared out at the water, unseeing, and she tried to calm herself down. This had to be some kind of nervous breakdown, but even then Asami didn't feel relief. Sighing, she loosened her grip, silently coming to terms with the fact that she needed help.
"Are you all right?"
The words startled her, and her hair flew into her eyes as she turned to see who it was. Growling, she shoved the strands away from her face, registering the chuckle of her surprise companion before she could really see him. Floored, she stared at General Iroh for a moment before realizing she probably looked ridiculous, gaping at the man like a baboon-fish. The mental comparison made her snicker, covering her mouth to hold back the sound as he gave her a half worried, half bemused look.
Holding back the hysterical laughing bubbling in her throat, she turned away from the General, looking back over the bay. "No. No I don't think I am." The words, so hard to voice before, came easier with a virtual stranger than to the people closest to her. General Iroh stayed silent, studying her as she refused to look right at him. Asami felt vulnerable, wide open for everyone to see and she tried to scrape together what dignity she had left and make a quick exit.
General Iroh, though, seemed to have other plans.
"I've actually been meaning to speak with you," he spoke as he stepped up next to her at the railing, looking over the water at the statue of Avatar Aang. "As you know, our fleet is going to be stationed here for the foreseeable future. Helping with the rebuilding efforts and to keep order seems to be a full time job." Asami raised an eyebrow, looking at him from the corner of her eye. She remembered something about the United Forces staying in Republic City for a bit, but she hadn't been paying attention at the time.
"While we're here, Commander Bumi suggested we look into upgrading our ships. Possibly including some of the machines your father built for the Equalists." Asami turned fully to face him now, her expression thoughtful. Everyone had been tiptoeing around her father and his actions, trying to protect her in their own way, but she found Iroh's candidness refreshing. He looked over at her, his eyes meeting hers as a stray lock of dark hair fell over his forehead. It made him look charmingly boyish. "You're probably one of the few experts in that type of machinery-"
"I'll do it." She interrupted him, knowing what he would ask. Asami was astonished that she would even agree to such a thing, but it gave her a project, a purpose of some kind. She could throw her energy into what he father used for evil, and make it into something good. She liked the thought of that.
General Iroh ran a hand through his hair before smiling at her, pleased with her agreement. "That's good to hear. I hoped you would say yes - I couldn't imagine asking someone else to do it."
His words made her feel suddenly shy in a way that dazzling compliments on her eyes, hair or looks never did. Hugging herself a bit, she shrugged, struggling not to smile too widely. "I'm willing to do what I can to help. Maybe we can meet and discuss the details sometime?"
Iroh nodded, a gloved hand coming up to rub his chin in thought. "I think that's a good idea. Come, I'll walk you home and we'll decided on a time and place."
Absorbed in thought, Asami followed him without complaint, her earlier frustration forgotten in the wake of her excitement. Focusing on something other than her broken family, the company that was currently failing, or her feelings of helplessness made her feel better than she had in weeks. Time seemed to rush past as the pair walked to her home, Asami silently marveling at the distance she'd traveled in her emotional state. Iroh stopped at the gates of her home, his brow furrowed and eyes uncertain as he looked up at the mansion, then back at her.
"I have to admit, I was originally going to visit you here to ask you about this project of ours," he gestured at her home as he spoke. His words seemed hesitant, which was surprising to her. He normally was so confident, she never imagined he'd felt hesitance in his life. "However, I saw you leave earlier, and I followed you to the park."
Understanding, Asami nodded, looking down at her hands as if she found them suddenly interesting. She knew she probably looked like a mess leaving the gates, frantic and slightly panicked as she walked down the street. It felt like it happened days ago, not just an hour, and she felt self-conscious.
When Iroh sighed, she looked back up at him, watching as he ran a hand through his hair and giving it a slightly disheveled look. He seemed to feel as uncomfortable as she did, and that actually helped her feel more at ease. Who knew, the young General Iroh who jumped onto moving planes without a second thought could act anxious over something as simple as making sure someone was okay?
Asami held back a smile as he continued. "I know we aren't particularly close, and that you've gone through a lot of difficult situations recently. If you need someone to talk to about it..." he gestured at the house, but she knew what he meant. Her father, her family, the betrayal and hurt she still felt when she entered the building that had once been a home but now felt like a prison. "If there's anything my own family has excelled at, it's been dealing with betrayal and forgiveness."
"Forgiveness?" Asami asked before she could stop herself, the word feeling foreign on her lips. She'd felt many things, but forgiving her father had never entered her mind. She didn't know if she could forgive him.
Iroh nodded, watching her for a moment before speaking. "My grandfather used to tell me that to forgive someone is the hardest thing one might have to do, but in the end it's the only way to really heal. I think he actually learned that himself, with Avatar Aang's help." He smiled then, a quirk of his lips that she would have missed if she hadn't been watching him so intently. "I know you probably aren't in the most forgiving mood, but just think about it."
Something inside her was firm in that forgiving her family would be next to impossible, like asking her to grow wings and soar like a flying boar, but his earnestness held her in check. She nodded silently, and he leaned forward in a slight bow, his eyes on hers.
"Then I'll take my leave. I'll see you in a few days, Asami."
Not sure what to make of him, Asami nodded and watched him walk down the crowded sidewalk. She mulled over his words, marveling at the fact she'd just had a somewhat personal conversation with General Iroh. Not that she'd said much about her own thoughts and feelings, instead she'd focused on meetings and what was needed. Yet Iroh managed to see the conflict inside her, the root of what drove her and was straightforward with her. Being handled with care made Asami feel safe, but she knew that 'safe' wasn't going to help her move forward.
Maybe, though, what she needed was the right kind of push. Inhaling, she looked back up at her home and decided to really think on what Iroh said.
First, though, she had a few friends to apologize to.