"It's not enough to live a little better everyday"
Lin arrived at the Northern Air temple. She was aggravated but put on a calm face when she saw Tenzin walking out to meet her.
"Lin what are you doing here?"
"I'm here to ask if Jenora can locate the Avatar. Korra and her friends slip out of Zou Fu to find my sister's rough adviser." She sighed, "You think I'm being over protective of the Avatar don't you?"
"No, I'm just not surprised at how long it took her to break away again."
He led her away from the blimp and further into the temple. "Jenora is out training with the new air benders once she's done I'll ask her to find Korra." He saw the look of concern on Lin's face. "Korra's a big girl and can take care of herself, you can wait an hour or so. Would you like some Tea? I think I saw Pema and General Iroh walking with a tea set some where around here."
Lin paused, "General Iroh is here? Why?"
"He needed a bit of a respite. If you want to know more I'd ask him." The two walked through many of the temple's rooms and found Pema and Iroh in one that over looked the new air benders training. They were sitting around a large table. Rohan was sleeping soundly in his mother's arms while she sipped her tea. Iroh was lazing on the other side of the table, the young prince looked tired. Pema looked up as the two walked in.
"Lin what are you doing here?" Pema asked as Lin sat down. "I thought you were with Korra finding new air benders." She looked at the door expectantly. "Are they here too?" Iroh sat up at the mention of Korra's name.
Lin shook her head, "No, She and her friends with the help of my hair-brained sister ran off to find Zaheer on their own."
Iroh looked shocked, "She's out there alone? What the hell are you doing here? You should be out there finding her!"
Lin put up her hand, "Don't lecture me General, I'm here for that very reason." She took the cup of tea she had been offered. "Look General, if you want, I'll let you come with me." She held up a finger before he could respond, "with one condition, you can join me but only if Tenzin thinks you're well enough to travel. It doesn't take a doctor to see that you are not healthy."
Iroh's shoulders dropped a little. "I haven't been sleeping well that's all, I'm fine and, no offence to Tenzin but he hasn't done much to help Maybe Korra could though. She is the Avatar and I'm starting to think my problem is a bit more spirit related then stress related."
Tenzin looked at Iroh with a touch of worry in his eyes, "I would rather you stay here and rest General, but if you think Korra will be able to help then I won't stop you. Spirits know if I try you'll just go out on your own."
Lin nodded all be reluctantly. "Fine but at any point you become a liability you leave the group, got it?"
Iroh nodded knowing that the Avatar's safety came first and foremost. He couldn't endanger that. "So how do you plan on finding her?" He asked placing his cup down on the table.
Korra looked over the ridge at the Misty Palms Oasis and frowned. "He's got to be in that city somewhere."
"And that's were your not going." Lin said from behind Korra causing the young avatar to jump.
"Lin! And General Iroh?" Korra looked quizzically at the man standing behind Lin. She noted that he had looked better after she pulled him out of Yue Bay then right now. Turning her attention back to Lin she attempted to explain herself. "Look Lin, I know you're upset but we are so close to catching Aiwei. Please Lin, let us go into town and grab this creep. Please?" She smiled. "Please? We really are close, and you can come with us and help if you want! Come on I know you just want to punch that weird nose ring guy in the face."
"Fine," Lin conceded, "but we do this the smart way which means Korra you are to stay out of that town and back here where it's safe. I'll go in with Mako, Bolin, and Asami and we will drag the traitor out. Got it?"
Korra pouted but nodded. It was better then nothing and they would still get Aiwei, so still a win. She slid down the side of the Jeep glaring at the group. "Go, find him with out me. I'll just sit here and make sure no one siphons our gas."
Mako patted her on the shoulder, "Thanks Korra, we will be back before you know it. Stay safe ok?"
Korra watched the group walk down the dusty road. She took a deep breath she wasn't going to get mad. She would stay calm. She let out the breath. She would get her chance later. She opened her eyes just in time to see Iroh sliding down next to her. "You're not going with them?" She asked.
Iroh shook his head, "Name wasn't called so I'm guessing I'll stay here with you."
Korra shrugged. "Well at least I'm not-" she looked over and saw Iroh already napping against the jeep, "alone. Sleep well old friend, you look like you could use the rest."
It was getting dark and yet Lin and the others had not returned. "Argh, They're taking so long!" Korra complained.
She looked over at Iroh who had been napping on and off since the group had left. She sighed and went back to earth bending a very small pebble to balance on Iroh's nose. While the group had been gone it had been unmitigated boredom for Korra. She had even tried to teach herself sand bending and had made a small dust devil before it exploded covering her and Iroh in sand. Now she was seeing how many rocks she could stack on her sleeping companion before he noticed.
For Iroh it was almost heaven, he had been free of all visions, dreams, and disembodied voices. For the first time in a while it felt safe to rest. Even so, small amounts guilt nagged at the back of his mind. He opened one eye feeling something hot on his nose. Looking over He saw Korra was trying to do something though he really couldn't see what. For the most part she looked well which made him happy he hated seeing her sad or ill. He wondered if she ever thought about him or how he had let her down.
Korra glanced over seeing that her companion wasn't as asleep as she had assumed. She quickly made the pebble fly out of sight.
"Sorry didn't mean to wake you General." She smiled like a child who was trying to smile their way out of trouble.
Iroh shook his head, stretched and heard the sound of rocks rolling off his legs. "You didn't don't worry, and call me Iroh." He looked down at the rocks and tilted his head. "We've known each other long enough to be on a first name basis." He held up one of the rocks. "And apparently we are on a unconscious pranking basis too."
Korra smirked. "Sorry about that I got board. So Iroh did you have a good nap?"
He nodded, "Best sleep I've gotten for a while actually. I'm sorry by the way."
"I wouldn't be sorry for sleeping Iroh everybody needs it. Just because I had to entertain myself doesn't mean you should feel guilty about it." She looked at the fine layer of sand that covered the General. "Trust me you shouldn't be guilty at all."
"That's not what I'm sorry about." He glanced down at the ground for moment before looking her in the eyes. "I'm sorry I wasn't able to help you in the Civil war at all."
Korra smiled but the smile was softer then her usual smile. "I forgive you. I was never angry with you to begin with but if you feel you need forgiveness you have it. I was angry at other people and I don't know might still be a little bit, but I was never angry with you." She pulled her legs around her. "You were willing to believe me when someone else should have." She pointed to a small flying spirit above their heads. "Look on the bright side, if you had been able to help then this little guy might be stuck in the spirit world and not here frolicking. Don't lose anymore sleep over it ok?"
Iroh nodded. "Ok. Uh Korra why am I covered in sand?"
She was about to answer when from the direction of the town of four figures approached. The two looked to see their friends trudging back almost all with disappointed faces. Bolin was the exception. He was smiling ear to hear holding a Nuck Tuck plushy. How or why he had the doll Korra did not want to know. Lin kicked a rock, sending it practically in to orbit.
"I take it things didn't go so well?" Korra asked.
Asami shook her head. "No by the time we caught up with Aiwie he was in a catatonic state." She sighed, "Korra the trial's gone cold and I'm worried that what ever happened to Aiwie could happen to any of us."
Korra nodded sadly, "So what's the game plan?"
"We go back to Republic city." Lin stated, "Because along with finding Aiwie in a coma, and some of the creepiest mover fans, we also found this." She held up a wanted sigh with Korra's face and name printed on it.
Korra grimace. "That's not good."
Mako nodded. "No it's not. They have a poster for all of us, well except Lin and the General because they didn't steal the Earth Queens air benders."
Iroh looked at Korra, "You stole the Queen's air benders?"
"Long story, I'll tell you later." Korra looked closely at the picture, "If we're wanted criminals we should get a bit further from this place before making camp."
They all agreed and soon they were a good distance from the city. The camp was set up in a densely forested aria off the main road and away from prying eyes. Everyone one was huddled around the campfire finishing up the last of their dinner. It was silent, for about five seconds before Bolin started talking
"Well let's look on the bright side! The Extended team Avatar is here! Back together to kick some escaped crazies butts and for good measure angering those in power just like old times! Well once we find the crazies and don't get arrested by the Earth Queen…but let's just look at that last part as bonus danger for the adventure!"
"Team extended Avatar?" Iroh asked having completely missed the last part of Bolin's ramble.
Bolin smiled. "Well yeah, I mean" He hugged Asami, Mako, and Korra in a large (slightly awkward) hug. "This is team avatar and you and Lin are part of the extended team."
Iroh smirked, "I not sure if I'm honored or offended by that."
"I'd take that as a complement General." Korra chuckled and walked over so she was sitting beside him and out of hugging range. "I've known you longer then the others but I've gotten into more troubled with them."
"I can tell by this wanted poster's exquisite mug shot." He held up the poster.
"You guys have know each other longer then you've known us?" Bolin looked shocked, Korra wasn't sure if he was really upset or faking it until he started laughing. "Don't look so worried Korra! You already told us he was your friend during the whole Amon thing." He sat back stroking his chin, suddenly his eyes became alight with an idea. "I bet you have some stories about Korra growing up, don't yah General?"
Iroh smirked and thought a moment, "Sadly I don't think I have any embarrassing stories about the avatar. If anything she has the dirt on me."
Korra smirked "Why what ever do you mean General? I got into lots of trouble on my own while down in the South Pole."
"Yeah on your own, but most of the time that I was there, you were getting me in to trouble. For example I was the young teen who was talked into sneaking out of the compound to go Penguin Sledding by this as a six year old." He gestured toward Korra.
Korra rolled her eyes, "That's not too bad…"
"Down the and I quote 'Kiss your butt goodbye triple black diamond you really shouldn't go down this way it's your funeral buddy dead men tell no tails hill of doom'."
Korra grinned, "Yeah it took two hours to dig ourselves out of that snow berm. If I remember right you were looking a bit blue by the time we got back to the compound." She rolled her eye, "Is that really the best you got on me?"
"Regretfully, by the time you were getting in real troubled I had joined the United Forces and couldn't visit as much."
"Yeah, but you did sometimes. Oh do you remember that time you visited with Commander Bumi and became Bucket Lord?"
"Remember? I will never live visit down for the rest of my life. There are still people in the South Pole who great me as Bucket Lord."
Lin crossed her arms and looked amused. "Bucket Lord? I have got to hear this." The others nodded in agreement.
Korra looked at him "So will you share the story or will I?"
"How about I start it off and when we got to the part that I don't remember you take over?"
"Deal, that's my favorite part anyway." She smiled while rubbing her hands together like a villain.
"Sometimes I feel that you're actually evil." Iroh sighed, "Ok so first off, two days before we even landed at the South Pole the good commander decided to prank me and forged (and forged it really convincingly) a letter from my mother saying that I had been betrothed to the Avatar who at the moment was 14, and well how do I put this nicely, puberty was not kind to Korra," He looked at Korra to make sure she wasn't angry or about to punch him. "and I was less then pleased with the idea of being hitched at such a young age to someone even younger them me. I almost jumped ship when the commander said that was the reason we were going to South Pole was for the wedding to take place."
"I though you did jump off the ship." Korra interrupted.
"Yeah, I did but that's because as we were pulling into port Commander Bumi let it slip that I was in charge of giving you the talk."
Korra chuckled, "Oh so that was the reason after I water bent you out of the bay you ran away yelling 'I know nothing don't ask me!' Huh, one mystery solved."
"That incident was actually why Commander Bumi later took me aside and told me it was a joke and to clam down. He was afraid Great Aunt Katarra would find out about it. She still strikes fear into his heart apparently. Ok so back to the story: along with that prank I had turned the legal drinking age while on route to the South Pole and Commander Bumi decided to plan a 'great' night on the town. He brought the whole crew with us to a local bar. In true to form Commander Bumi had told everyone that the Fire Nation Royal Family was practically born to hold their licker whether they had had it before or not." He paused. "This was lie, a lie that I believed. A lie that would be my down fall. I think he also inserted something about earning my honor I don't remember. So at the bar Bumi bought a tray of drinks for me and I honestly don't remember anything about that night after the fifth shot. Korra?"
"Well he might not remember drinking anything after the fifth shot and I wasn't there but I do know that of the no doubt many types of alcohol consumed by the General, Vodka, Rum, and Tequila were definitely evolved in some order. I also think coffee played a role as he had more energy then a five year old with a brownie and a can red bull-duck. This guy was so drunk he was at least four sheets to the wind." She started to crack up at the memory. "I was training with K-katar-tara with the full moon and stuff and *snort* he runs in to *ha* runs in to the training arena fire bending wearing only his boots, boxers, and a bucket on his head, yelling 'I AM BUCKET LORD! AND I CHALLENGE ALL!' Which is a visual you really can't forget."
"What happened next?" Mako asked suppressing a snicker.
"Well after the world's most uncoordinated Agni Chi, Katara knocked him out and then yelled at Commander Bumi while a White Lotus guy and I carried Iroh back to his quarters. Ah good old bucket lord, how bad was your hang over the next day again?"
"Bad, I thought I was going to die and when I realized I wasn't I wanted to. Worst of all I had to search around the South Pole to find my clothes and the person I stole the bucket from hang over and all. It was a very angry fisherman that owned the bucket if anyone wants to know."
Lin smirked, "That sound like Bumi alright. I'm actually surprised you didn't get in to more trouble while intoxicated"
"I probably did, I just don't remember and I didn't get caught." He looked over at Bolin who was rolling on the ground laughing. "Laugh now but when former Commander Bumi gets a hold of you at a bar Bucket Lord will look tame compared to the havoc you might reap."
"It's getting late." Lin announced as she stood up, "There's a lot of distance to travel over before we reach Republic City so we need get to sleep. We move out early tomorrow." They all grumbled but started to get out their sleeping gear. "Who's going to get more fire wood for the morning?" She was met with more groans; "You can get it now or search for it tomorrow half awake and in your pajamas, your choice."
Korra volunteered to get more firewood since she really hadn't done anything all-day and still had energy and frankly hated searching for it in the morning dew. Lin didn't like the idea of her going alone and told Iroh to go with her. Korra rolled her eyes but was a little thankful she hadn't been sent in with Mako or Bolin who were at that stage of sleepy that made them hard to deal with.
The pair wandered through the woods, silently picking up braches when both were suddenly grabbed from behind and blades placed against their throats. In her ear Korra heard Zaheer whisper, "Good evening Miss Avatar, I've been meaning to speak with you."