Both Rohku and Zuko met the ship at the docks, The elder man hung back while Rohku stepped forward his attention immediately going to Zechi who wasn't hand cuffed or bound in anyway. The fire lord raised an eyebrow.
"Are they really letting you run loose on a ship?"
Zechi shrugged. "What can I say? I'm not the best swimmer and they kept me away from pointy objects and shards of glass."
Rohku signaled two guards to escort Zechi away. "Don't rough him up, he is still part of the royal family." Rohku moved to Karrem. "Well, it looks like you finally decided to come home father, mother's missed you terribly."
Karrem looked down. "I'm sorry, I caused her pain but I had some things to attend to."
Rohku raised an eyebrow. "Like trying to find my lost brother? I heard about that mission. How did that go? Have you finally given up hope like the rest of us?"
"The child I once held is no more." He sighed. "I don't look forward to telling your mother the grim news."
Rohku sighed and patted his father's shoulder. "I know it's hard getting final confirmation that Iroh's gone, but we must remember he wasn't really the strongest. Now he's with grandpa Sokka and they are probably terrorizing where ever we go to in the next life." He gave his father a sad smile. "We can wait to tell mother about Iroh, she needs that hope right now."
He looked past his father at General Howl and the rest of the group. Howl stepped forward. "General Howl of the United Forces, I'm here on orders from President Riko. We have things that must be discussed."
He nodded. "I will have my people get in touch with you. Who's the tall woman in uniform behind you?"
Iroh stepped forward hand held out his hand. "General L'ten, Black Dragon army of Omashu."
Rohku shook it tentatively. "And why are you here?"
"Afraid I to be the barer of more bad news, shame about your bother, by the way." L'ten spoke quickly. "But on to my news. The Avatar is dead and," He put a wrapped sword in Rohku's arms. "I believe this is yours. It was found with here belongings and your father confirmed you were the rightful owner." L'ten looked back at his clipboard.
Rohku looked down at the sword. "Wait, how did she come in to possession of this?"
L'ten shrugged. "Get a medium and ask her." He flipped to some papers and jutted out one hip. "Ok, so here's why I'm really here because, frankly we could have just mailed the sword. The avatar was legally your bother's wife, by Republic City records, and that's where the snag is because by your laws she is to be buried here with the rest of the royal graves but she's also the avatar, which dictates an anonymous grave." L'ten cringed. "Which kind of already happened. She didn't die pretty but now we have a shit ton of paper work and I have some you need to sigh and have notarized."
Rohku frowned. "Couldn't my father have done this?"
L'ten gave Rohku a look. "He don't wear the crown, so he don't sign the papers." L'ten glanced over at Zuko. "Oh my spirits! You're Fire Lord Zuko!" L'ten practically pranced over to the old man who look petrified by the event. "And your hair is fabulous! I mean really, you're older then dirt but your hair looks great!" He put the clipboard under one arm and touched some of the silver locks. "And it's so soft! Seriously what do you use?"
Zuko looked at his son-in-law. "Karrem, help!"
Karrem shook his head. "Uh, no I've had to deal with that for a whole week on a very small boat. You deal with it or get one of your grandsons to."
Rohku sighed and looked at L'ten. "If I sign those papers will you get out of my hair, and my grandfather's hair?"
L'ten turned and did a dip. "Yes, oh Fire Lord!" He stood up. "I will just need it notarized too."
Rohku groaned. "There's a notary at the palace. We'll sign the papers there." He held out his hand. "If you wouldn't mind, I would like to read them while on the way over there."
L'ten handed the board over. "Of course."Rohku looked that the board then back to Zuko. "Sorry grandfather and father you two are going to have ride with General L'ten in your carriage. I need to concentrate when reading this and I can't with that," He looked over L'ten who was currently commenting on one of the Fire Nation soldier's utter lack of fashion. "Near me, have fun."
Zuko's eye twitched as he looked at Karrem. "It has the capacity to behave like a human right?"
Karrem made a 'kinda' gesture with his hand.
The old man sighed. "This is going to be a long carriage ride."
Iroh sighed when the carriage doors were closed and it was on its way to the palace. "So do you think he noticed?" Iroh asked glancing out a window.
Zuko crossed his arms. "That you're a man? Yeah, I think he noticed."
Iroh smirked and spoke in his normal voice. "That wasn't was I was trying to hide."
Zuko looked over at Karrem. "I'd blame Sokka for the craziness but I know it comes from my side."
Iroh didn't breath until he was in one of the hotel rooms they had checked for bugs and disabled the ones found. Iroh looked over at Mako. "Well that achieved nothing, aside from the worlds most depression carriage ride, and getting papers signed." He sat on the bed and berried his head in his hands. "We are no closer to finding out where her soul is or where the cannon is."
Howl shrugged. " Look on the bright side, we didn't get caught and Izeem's laying the groundwork to get that concert up and running."
Iroh frowned. "Or he's ratting us all out right now and soldiers are going to come crashing through that door any second."
Bolin shook his head. "I don't think that's going to happen. Izeem seems pretty on board with getting that cannon out of his father's hands."
Howl nodded. "Relax, Iroh, have a drink."
"I don't drink."
"Come on, I've seen you knock back beers like they were water! How about this you tell me your favorite drink and I'll go down to the hotel bar and pick it up my self! Name it even if it's a girly drink, I'll order it with a straight face and bring it up."
Bolin looked up. "Hey while you're down there can you bring up a pitcher of Sheryl Temples? I have literally been craving them since Korra made them back in Omashu."
Iroh stood up and headed for the bathroom. "I need to shower, just get me some leachy juice if you must bring me something."
Howl raised an eyebrow. "But I thought you hated leachy juice."
"I do but it's the only drink you couldn't get in Omashu so it's the only one that can't possibly remind me of her." Iroh's eyes glissaded. "Now if you excuse me, I need to go take a shower and wash all this off." He gestured to his face.
He slammed the door and Mako shook his head. "You guys go down and I'll stay here."
Howl nodded. "Do you want anything?"
Mako sighed. "Scotch on the rocks."
The detective watched the two men leave and waited a few moments before nocking on the bathroom door. "Hey Iroh, you ok buddy? You want anything?"
It was a few moments before Iroh responded and even then in was in a softer voice that he could barely make out.
"I want to be back in Omashu sitting in the sun just enjoying the view and have my wife and daughter around me laughing. I want to hold Kor-her close and hear her voice again. So in answering your first question, no I'm not ok and until this whole thing is over and I can at least hug my little girl I won't be."
Mako sighed and sat down next to the door. "I understand, I don't know if this helps at all but, I'm actually really impressed with how strong you've been. Asami only divorced me and those first few weeks I was a barely functioning wreck so if you want to turn on the shower and just cry, I won't judge you."
There was a moment of silence. "Thanks friend, but I can't I don't know why but since that day I can't cry for her, or say her name, or anything. Everyone expects me to have all this emotion pent up but I feel nothing."
There was a long silence where neither of them spoke.
"If I don't come back, which don't take this as a plan to not because it isn't, but if I don't come back please take care of my daughter. You're the only person I trust to raise her and teach her how to firebend. I know you'll be as good a father to her as you are to Link."
Mako nodded. "Yeah, I'll take care of her Iroh. She won't live the life of a princess but she'll have all the love and attention she needs."
"You're welcome." Mako leaned back and thought for a moment. "This isn't gay right? What we're doing here?"
"If this was a different story it would be." He heard Iroh laugh. "So to manly this conversation up because we have to by social convention what do you like most about girls?"
Mako looked down at the outfit he was still wearing. "Well not their clothing." He smiled hearing Iroh laugh through the door. "So odd question but I have been trying but I can't see Korra as a fire nation girl, what did Mi'tem look like?"
"She was actually a descendent of the Sun Warriors the first Dynasty ruled over what we now think of as normal fire nation citizens but her family conquered my people generations before she was born." He took a deep breath. "So as for what she looked like, she had these bright gold eyes like polished gold, jet black hair and this light copper skin, not as dark as a water tribe but darker then alabaster."
Mako nodded. "So she if she was a sun warrior did she have any of those red tattoos I always see in the paintings of them?"
"Yeah, she had a design around her eyes and some markings on her arms and legs. The thing I remember most was the two dragon tattoo she had that started on her back and ended on his chest. The black dragon tattoo she had in her past life was almost an exact replica of half of it now that I think about it. Spirits, Mi'tem was a knock out, hourglasses had nothing on her."
Mako could almost hear the smile in Iroh's voice. "I can bet. Hey not to ruin the moment but are you going to take a shower or not?"
"Yeah, still planning on showering why?"
"Can you help me out of this corset first? And help me up? I think I'm stuck and I can't breath."
Iroh chuckled. "Sure."
Karrem was practically bowled over by Honora when he walked into the room where she had been taking tea with what was left of his family.
"Oh, thank the spirits you're alive and ok!"
Karrem looked over a Zuko confused. "Did something happen I don't know about?"
Zuko shook his head as he walked past and sat down. "No, Honora has just been worried sick that you would not come home."
Karrem patted Honora's back. "It's ok my love, I came back safe and sound" He smiled. "And I brought back Zechi too!" He pointed to Zechi who was just walking in rubbing his wrists.Honora stood up and slowly walked over to her son. "Zechi? Have you come home at last?"
Karrem could see Zechi's heart breaking looked at how his once strong mother had changed. He nodded. "Yes mother I have."
Honora hugged him. "Please don't ever go off like that again."
Zechi sighed. "I promise never to do something like that again."
Karrem walked over to Zuko. "You didn't talk much in the carriage, are you ok?"
Zuko put his cup down. "I'm over 90 years old and currently doing the best in my family, this is including the one in four inch heels, how the hell do you think I'm doing?"
Karrem sighed. "Point taken." He sat down and looked over at Lafey who was reading a pink book.
Lafey looked up and smiled seeing her father, however her eyes still had a vacant sheen. "Father! You're back! I'm sorry I didn't notice you walk in." Stood up and walked clumsily over. "How was your trip?"Karrem forced a smiled. "My trip was good, I brought your eldest brother back with me. How are you doing? I see your balance has improved."
Lafey smiled "Thanks, but how good am I ever going to get with just one real leg?" She lifted up her skirt to show the prosthetic leg. "But thank you, I have been working really really hard on it." She smiled. "So would you like to have tea with me?"Karrem nodded but felt a spark of hope because for one fraction of a second his real daughter had shown through before being pushed back down.
"Would you mind if I talk to your grandfather for a bit? I promise afterward I'll have tea with you"
Lafey nodded her head. "Ok, I'll be back in a bit." Lafey grabbed her book and made her way across the room to sit by Zechi and her mother.
"The Avatar is really dead, huh?" Zuko looked down. "So I have out lived two avatars?"
"Sadly yes, but I don't think we should just give up."
"No, this family and country have suffered enough. I take it there is a plan, you didn't put him in that outfit just for laughs, did you?"
"No. There is a plan to at worst to limit his power at best take him out of power."
"Can I play a part?""Help your great grandson convince your grandson to allow a rock concert."
"What the hell is a rock concert.""It's a bit like hell but we need the noise and distraction…for reasons"
Zuko nodded. "Then you have my help, I don't have to wear a dress to I?"
Karrem smirked. "No, but in that robe who can tell the difference?"
Two days later Iroh was calmly reading his book when Bolin entered the hotel room Iroh shared with Mako. Security must be top priority! ~Mako during the selection of rooms. They had by some stroke of luck gotten the ok for the concert and were now resting before the big even in three days
"Hey, Iroh I have a question for you." The earthbender asked fiddling with his hands.
Iroh marked his page and looked up. "Yes? What is it?"
"Do you think Mako's in the closet?" Bolin was clearly uncomfortable with the question.Iroh glanced over at the empty closet. "No, I think he's in the shower."
There was a long awkward pause before Bolin slowly nodded and left the room. "Well Ok, then." He said before closing the door.
Five minutes later Mako walked out of the bathroom in a bathrobe, his hair soaking wet. Iroh didn't even look up from his book. "Your brother thinks you're gay and asked if you were in the closet."
Mako raised an eyebrow and went to find some clean clothes. "What did you tell him?"
"I told him you were in the shower."
"Well ok, so do you think I'm in the closet?"Iroh looked up from his book. "Yes, I think you're in the closet."
Mako stuck his head out and looked at Iroh. "And you think that why?"
Iroh looked down at his book. "Because you're standing in it."
Mako frowned. "How long have you been awake? You're being far more literal than normal."
Iroh checked his watch. "About 50 hours now. I want to finish this book, I've got about three more chapters."
Make shook his head, pulled on his paints and took the book away from Iroh. "You can finish this later, you need to sleep we have the concert soon and everyone needs to be on their A-game including you." He pointed to the bed. "Now get into that bed before I make you. And I want you to actually sleep so take off your outer clothes."
"You know stuff like this is why your brother is wondering about your orientation." Iroh said pulling his shirt off. "Remember you're my body guard not my keeper."
Mako frowned and crossed his arms. "I am your keeper, if it wasn't for me you'd be a drunken mess wallowing in your own…"He paused looking at Iroh who was already asleep. "Sorrow." Mako shook his head and pulled the covers up.
Korra leaned back listening to the radio trying to recall if she had ever heard the songs before. Earlier someone had brought her some dinner that she didn't feel like eating. She felt empty and only whole when she dreamed but every time she work she couldn't remember the dream. She sighed and petted the dragon's snout.
"Oh, Nix I wish I could remember things right." She rested her head against the dragon. "Maybe then it wouldn't be just you and me."