"Please Master Chung."
"Korra I don't think this little outing is worth the risk."
"PLEASE! You and the others have had me cooped up here on this island for almost a week now. It's not like I'll be alone Iroh, Mako, Bolin, and Asami will be with me the whole time. Please it will be good for people to see me with my 'fiancé'…more convincing." Korra smiled sweetly. "Please?"
The old man sighed. "Fine go have you little picnic with your friends just don't cause a scene."
Korra's smiled broadened. "Thanks!" she yelled as she ran off to tell the others so they could get off the island before someone changed their mind. She stopped running when she reached the dock were the other four were waiting for her.
"So did you get the ok?" Bolin asked a basket in his hands.
She nodded. "Yup, we just can't make a scene."
Iroh chuckled. "Us? Make a scene? Parish the thought!"
The whole group laughed a bit as they boarded the ferry to the city. Soon they were riding through the streets of Republic city in Iroh's Sato-mobile, which he had pulled out of storage at the docks. The car was a dark blue convertible with tan interior. It was grand, but not what you would think the prince of the Fire Nation would drive since red would have fit him more. Korra leaned back and smiled feeling the wind and sun on her face. Just for a moment she felt free, untouchable, and then Iroh made a sharp turn.
She sat up and looked at Iroh who was frowning. "What was that about?"
Iroh made another tight turn. "We're being fallowed." He gunned the engine and sent the car across two lanes of traffic and onto another street. Korra checked the mirror and saw a black car do the same.
"Any idea who it is?" Mako asked clinging to the side of the car while Asami clung to him.
Iroh glanced up at the black car's reflection and sighed. "Yes."
Mako glanced back. "And?"
"And I rather not have to ruin a perfectly good afternoon by making you all deal with my big brother."
Korra glanced back. "Ooh, which one?"
Korra paused. "Isn't he the one that's a terrible driver?"
Iroh smiled. "Both my brothers are. But this one thinks he's good thus his attempt to tale us."
Bolin looked back. "Well he seems to be doing a good job. He's gaining!"
Iroh smiled. "Not for long. Hold on everyone." He glanced up at the rearview mirror. "Ok Big bro, let's see whether you've gotten better during the past few years." He down shifted and slammed down on the accelerator and the car took off like a shot. "By the way, if we get pulled over we do not know who's fallowing us. We just felt our lives were in danger."
Mako's knuckles were white from gripped the side of the car. "Don't worry, I definitely feel my life might be in danger."
Korra just laughed throwing her head back and reaching up feeling the wind rushing past. Iroh was definitely a good driver and it would be a real contest between him and Asami as who was the best. They lost the black car in the Arts District and then in a calmer manor reached their final destination. Korra looked up.
"The cemetery? Got to say you definitely have weird tastes for picnic locations."
Iroh opened the gate. "That might be true, but it's the last place anyone would think for us to go." He gestured to the group. "Come on, I know the perfect spot."
Mako looked down at a crumbling tombstone. "You come here often?"
"Sometimes, when I need to think or talk to my grandfather."
"But Fire Lord Zuko's still alive. What do you come here and say: hi gramps it's only a matter of time before you're here permanently?"
"No, I don't do that. "Iroh shook his head. "People have two grandfathers. My dad's father is entombed here with his wife." He led the group to a hill that over looked the rest of the cemetery and in the distance Republic City. There was a lone building surrounded by grass and wild flowers. "Here we are." Iroh said laying out the blanket.
"Wow." Bolin set down the basket. "I didn't even know this place existed."
"Not many do but it's the perfect place to talk with out praying eyes or ears."
Mako looked at the door to the tomb. "Whoa, your other Grandfather was councilman Sokka? Like the Sokka from the other team Avatar?"
Iroh nodded. "Yeah, his son Karrem is my father and the current commander and chief of Fire Nation Army which is hilarious considering he's a water bender."
Bolin started to pull out plates off food. "I didn't know there were any water benders in the Royal family or that you had anything other than Fire Nation in your blood."
"Yeah, not many people actually remember who my mother married. But yeah all the royal children are part Southern Water Tribe my brother Rohku, the guy we made skid into that cabbage cart, is actually a water bender not a fire bender. Man, I would be a terror when I was little, setting things on fire just so he had to put them out."
"Huh, learn something new everyday." The earth bender turned and pulled out two bottles. "Ok, we have champagne and sparkling pink lemonade. Who wants what?"
"I'll take a glass of champagne!" Korra asked pulling out the glasses and handing them over to Asami.
Iroh looked at her. "You're not old enough to drink."
"I will be in a few weeks and if I'm old enough to be forced in to a fake loveless marriage I think I deserve one little glass of champagne. Besides if there's anyone who shouldn't have anything to drink it's you. That driving earlier was you sober I don't want to know what non-sober driving is like."
Iroh chuckled and poured himself a glass of the sparkling lemonade. "Which is why I was going to drink the lemonade dear beloved faux fiancé. But I guess you having one glass won't hurt."
Mako grabbed the champagne and popped the cork before pouring out three glasses giving two of them to Korra and Asami. Bolin had lemonade. Korra took a sip and grimaced while everyone laughed.
Korra looked over at Iroh. "Maybe I should have the lemonade. Trade yah?"
Iroh snorted. "No, finish what you started Avatar, you can have some lemonade once you finish that."
Korra pouted but took another sip finding the taste getting a little better. For the good part of an hour they ate, talked, mostly about what they were going to do, and relaxed for the first time in days. It was obvious Korra needed to get away from both groups but how and where to go was a mystery. The topic then turned to the events of Ba Sing Say and the two bothers' worries about their own family.
"You two should go back and find them." Korra said to the shock of everyone there.
Mako frowned. "But Korra, you need us here to-to…help with."
"Help with a plan I don't have yet? Look, they're your family and could be in real danger. I've run away from the White Lotus before I can do it again. I don't want you to lose what's left of your family because of me."
Mako reached out and placed a hand on Korra's shoulder. "Thanks Korra, I don't know what else to say. When we get back to Air Temple Island I'll make the arrangements to get an air ship and go to Ba Sing Say. I'll try to be back before the wedding at the end of the week."
Asami placed a hand on Mako's shoulder. "You will if I take you." She looked over at Korra. "Unless you think I'm needed here."
Korra shook her head. "No, you go too." She looked over at Bolin. "So are you going to go help your family?"
Bolin shook his head. "No, I'll stay here with you and Iroh. Who knows whether we'll need to knock a few heads or not?" He looked at his brother. "Besides I'm pretty sure my bother and Asami are perfectly capable of saving the family without me."
Asami looked at her half empty glass. "Team avatar is breaking up again." She raised her glass. "To team avatar! May we meet back here families safe and free of any shadow weed group!"
Iroh raised his glass. "I'll drink to that."
Korra clinked her glass before draining it. She looked over at the massive graveyard stretching out below them. "It looks like a maze out there." She turned to the group. "Hey! Let's play a game!"
"Here in the cemetery?" Mako looked dubious.
She nodded. "Yeah, let's play tag. This place is great to play something like that and look this place is completely empty! Come on it will be fun."'
Seeing that Korra desperately needed a distraction from the heavy talk they all agreed and soon were running through the maze of gravestones and mausoleums trying to avoid being it.
Iroh leaned against a wall catching his breath after failing to tag someone. He felt like a child but also happy. He watched Korra run pass laughing. He couldn't imagine a person caging her; it would be a crime against nature. She deserved to run free untamed anything less would destroy her spirit.
Korra paused seeing Iroh deep in thought. She walked over and leaned in close to his face seeing whether he would notice or not. He didn't. They're noses were practically touching and the Fire Prince was still in his own word. It reminded Korra of the first time she had met Iroh. She had been about five-ish and there was a big commotion and She had been taken from her home and was staying under the protective care of Chief Sokka. He was talking to Fire Lord Zuko while lost in thought the fire prince sat a little ways off…
"So you hear there's an emergency and you bring my youngest grandchild?" Sokka crossed his arms. "I stand by my idea from long ago. You are the Lord of Bad decisions."
"Oh come on Sokka you know you're happy to see him."
"I am but what if he had gotten attacked or…that happened and he got hurt or wandered off."
Zuko frowned. "Hush, he's been fine for years nothing like that has happened since Aang fixed it."
Sokka was still frowning. "I still don't like you putting him in harms way."
"Look, Iroh is a accomplished Fire Bender and not a delicate doll like you and the rest of the family think he is."
Sokka looked surprised. "Fire Bender? But how? Aang…"
Zuko put up his hand. "I don't know but let's not talk about it here and now. I don't want to upset either of the children." He glanced over at Iroh who was still consumed by his own thoughts. "Just enjoy your grandchild." He looked over seeing that Korra had finally immerged from hiding behind a chair. "Well looks like the Avatar has found her courage again."
Korra didn't really pay the adults much attention; the young foreigner entranced her. She had never seen someone with such pale skin or refined features. His eyes were the color of fire. She walked up slowly to the boy as if he was an angry polar bear dog. She tilted her head when he didn't notice her. She climbed up on the bench and was nose to nose with him and still he didn't notice. This perplexed her. Maybe he's blind? She touched his nose with her own, which seemed to bring the prince out of his own head.
"Maybe she recognizes him?" Sokka whispered over to Zuko.
Iroh blinked, but didn't move his gold eyes looking right into her azure ones. Now what? Korra thought of her picture books and remembered what usually happened after an illustration like this.
She kissed him. It was a quick, chased, kiss before she turned red and fled the room finding refuge in the pile of furs on Chief Sokka's bed.
Zuko looked at Sokka. "Nope."
Iroh looked shocked as both his grandfathers burst out into laughter. Zuko was holding his sides before looking at Iroh. "Well go get her."
"Go capture the Avatar, dinner will be soon and she needs to eat!"
"Oh! Yeah right!" Iroh leapt off the bench and into the room to find her while the two men devolved into laughter again.
Iroh found her in the furs and had one hell of a time coaxing her out. He tried asking her to come out but she didn't respond. When he tried grabbing she bit him. Removing the furs resulted in him almost being set on fire. Finally he set down next to the pile and waited. After a few minutes she stuck her head out she looked at him. He smiled and waved. She hid back under the furs.
"Hey come back, please? Dinner's going to be soon and Grandfather and Grandpa told me to get you."
She stuck her head out again. "What's your name?"
"Um, Iroh Prince of the Fire Nation."
She sat up. "I'm Korra, you're pretty. Will you be my boyfriend?"
Iroh blinked. "If I say yes, will you go to dinner with out a fuss?"
She shrugged. "Sure but you've got to go penguin sledding with me tomorrow and beat up Han."
"Han? Who's Han?"
"The big mean kid who told everyone I'm his girlfriend and tried to kiss me. He said since he's bigger and meaner he can have what he wants but you're bigger then him so if you're my boyfriend and beat him up he'll leave me alone. So you in?"
The young Prince pondered for a moment. It wasn't right to just beat people up but this Han guy sounded like a real jerk and he had already kissed her so logic only stated he was already her boyfriend. "Sure, now come on dinner's soon."
Iroh looked up at Korra when their noses touched. He blinked remembering that this was exactly the same view he had had at their first meeting. Then he remembered they were playing tag and was it. Quickly he kissed her and ran off yelling. "You're it!"
Korra stood there stunned. She lightly touched her lips and pouted he had kissed her too fast for her to even enjoy it. Shaking her head she ran down another alley and tackled an unsuspecting Bolin.
It was sunset when they stepped foot back on Air Temple Island and were immediately accosted by an infuriated Admiral. "You call that driving baby brother?! You could have gotten someone killed! I got chewed out by that cabbage guy for almost an hour"
Iroh looked at his bother in surprise. "That was you? You were fallowing me? I thought it was a reporter or something. I am so sorry big brother." Iroh's voice tone made it very clear he was not sorry in any way.
Rohku frowned. "Fine what ver, the family is waiting to talk to you about this wedding plan of yours."
Iroh crossed his arms. "It's not my plan. I'm just a prop."
Rohku nodded. "Yeah well that's your lot in life isn't it little brother?"
Mako looked over at Bolin. "Glad I'm getting out of here for a few days." He whispered to Asami.
Rohku was a less then an inch taller than Iroh but he carried himself like he was a good five inches taller. The man was blue eyed but clearly fire nation with pail skin. He was built more than Iroh and putting the two next to each other it was clear Iroh was seemingly the smaller more sickly one. Korra was suddenly reminded of the reason Iroh had joined them in the first place. As Iroh followed his brother all the energy seemed to drain from him.
Korra bit her lip hoping he'd be ok dealing with his family alone.
Iroh was screaming into his pillow when he finally freed himself of his family and their respective mates. Iroh loved his family, yes (chiefly his sister, father, and mother) but he just couldn't handle them in large doses. Especially, when all they wanted to talk about was the implications of this fake wedding and whether his mental health was able to handle the stress. You'd think he had been institutionalized or something by the way they acted.
"Well my mental health would be a lot better if you all weren't here!" Iroh hissed at his closed door. "And where are your guards mother? There's a mad man killing off world leaders don't you think having at least one of them around would be a good idea?" He jumped when someone knocked on the door.
Trying to look clam he opened the door to find Korra standing there. She held her arms out. "Need a hug?"
He nodded and felt the water benders arms wrap around him. He sighed and breathed in her scent. She always smelled like the sea. She pulled away and smiled kindly. "Feel a little better?"
"Yeah." He looked up and down the hall. "Do you want to come in and talk? Or did you just want to give me a hug and run."
She laughed. "I came talk, you just looked in need of a hug."
He ushered her into his room and closed the door behind him. "I am so sorry for my family, they're insane. I think it's either in their blood or in the water."
"Haha it's ok, your family hasn't tried to take over the world…recently." She sat down on his bed and patted the space next to her. He sat down next to her obediently. "We never broke up you know."
"We were 5 and 12 and all we did was go penguin sledding and I punched a jerk, I don't think that really counts as a relationship."
She nodded. "Yeah, but you still said you were my boyfriend and held my hand so it counts. Even if we've both dated other people we never really broke up."
"So that's why none of my relationships lasted? I just thought it was because I had bad taste." Korra laughed and punched him. "Ouch! Hey be nice to your fiancé!" He paused. "Wow if we go by your logic we've been dating for fifteen years."
Korra snicker. "I guess it's about time we go married." She sighed. "Had a boyfriend for fifteen years and only kiss you twice? Wow. That's special."
Iroh was about to say something but found Korra's lips on his. He closed his eyes and kissed back. She tasted so good he wanted more. He opened his mouth slightly hoping she would do the same and grant his tongue access. She did. They were panting when they came up for air. She looked at his face a hunger behind her eyes he hadn't seen before.
"Iroh, do you think this wedding is fake? I mean really fake? Or will what Zaheer describe really happen?"
Iroh looked down thinking of what had transpired the past week and the paper work he had been forced to sign with out reading just because quote 'it's not important just the official press release and stuff.' "I'm so afraid that Zaheer's right." He cursed. "We should have just kept driving today."
Korra shook her head. "They'd have found us before we got anywhere substantial and I couldn't leave Naga." She placed a hand on the side of his face. He was her best friend and she had trapped him here with her. She sighed and kissed him. "I'm so sorry I've dragged you into this."
"It's ok, I'd rather be here to help than watching from a distance. We'll find a tactic to get away. You're the Avatar and I'm the Fire Prince, what is there in this world that we can't do? You can only cage fire for so long." Korra smiled weakly and held his hand. He could feel her tremble. "What's on your mind?"
She looked into his eyes. "Can I spend the night here?" She sighed. "I don't want to go back to my room. I want…never mind."
"You want what?"
"Nothing it was a dumb request."
Iroh frowned. "What is it Korra? You can ask anything of me."
She wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him harshly. "I want to sleep with you tonight, and not in the unconscious meaning of the word."
"What? Korra do you know what you're asking?"
"Yes." Korra sat back. "The White Lotus may have taken my freedom for the moment and might be trying to take control but I don't want to be robbed of this choice too. Please Iroh, I love you and I'm so afraid that with every passing hour the nose around my neck is just getting tighter and tighter and I don't want to give them the chance to make this choice for me too."
He could see tears forming at the corners of her eyes. He kissed her cheek. "Ok, but it at any point you want to stop just tell me ok?"
She nodded and kissed him pulling him close never letting him stray to far from her that night. He was slow and tender giving her time to reconsider and time to enjoy the sensations. They were tangled in the sheets and each other when morning light came.
Zechi walked into Iroh's room and saw the two entangled in the sheets, sleeping soundly. He shook his head and pulled the blankets over the pair. "Sleep well little brother because this will only end in tears." He looked solemnly at their peaceful faces. "So regrettable."