A fluffy little Iroh/Bolin-ish ficlet. :3 Because wow, awesome ship.
Description: Despite … appearances, Bolin was a brave man and true, a worthy companion to the Avatar. Iroh could weather his eccentricities in the face of that. It wasn’t like he didn’t have practice.
General Iroh second-of-that-name sat alone, legs crossed, back straight. He was meditating. It was a good thing to do when he needed to think. The recent events had been … loud, a mess of movement and confusion and danger; his fleet, burning. Republic City thick with criminals and madmen. The Avatar with her arm at his shoulder towing him to safety, the Avatar collapsed and helpless and drained of all her life, the Avatar returning in a triumphant flare of fire and water and earth. Those aircraft, small and quick and deadly, what effect would those have on war and tactics?
It was good to have the time alone to think through things, here in the ice and cold and silence.
“Hey, sir general captain sir!” Bolin said, flumping down beside him. “Wow, it’s even colder out here.”
Iroh managed not to twitch. The United Forces was a medley of all kinds of people, but Iroh? Iroh was Fire Nation to his bones, and that meant calmness at all times, that meant control.
He said, amicably enough, “Where I’m from it’s considered polite to ask people whether you can join them.”
“Ooh,” Bolin said, green-grass eyes wide with wonder. “You grew up in the Firelord’s court, didn’t you! Must’ve been cool. Or, ha – hot.” He elbowed Iroh eagerly. “Get it, get it, because … fire uh yeah I’ll just shut up now.”
Iroh smiled despite himself, and they sat there for a while. Iroh fell back into his meditation; Bolin wasn’t too terribly distracting, really, just a warm steady presence at his side. Despite … appearances, Bolin was a brave man and true, a worthy companion to the Avatar. Iroh could weather his eccentricities in the face of that. It wasn’t like he didn’t have practice. He worked with Bumi.
A few minutes passed, and then he was distracted by Bolin shuffling sideways a little. Then a little more, so their bodies were pressed together, flank to flank.
“Ah …” Iroh said, then stopped, rather at a loss for what, exactly to say. Bolin just gave him a winning smile. “What are you – um. I.”
Bolin wriggled closer. “You’re not that warm,” he said, sounding disappointed. He looked into Iroh’s face and maybe saw the confusion there, because he said, “Oh! See, I’m not used to Pole temperatures, even if it was winter back home.” He scowled. “This is, like, whole new levels of cold.”
“That certainly explains why you chose to come outside,” Iroh said dryly.
Bolin grinned. “I was cuddling up to Naga, but then it was her feeding time and – well. Did you know polarbeardogs eat skuaseals? Because apparently they do.” He squinted his eyes irritably. “It stank,” he confided. “And, I mean, I could’ve gone to the meeting room to warm up, but – Korra was there! And Asami, and she is one classy lady.” He gestured helplessly. “And here’s me smelling of blubber and Naga-drool.”
Iroh raised an eyebrow. “Quite the dilemma,” he said, pushing back the undignified laugh bubbling at the back of his throat. Calmness. Control.
“And you just seemed really warm! Y’know, while we were tied up together and couldn’t move.”
Iroh couldn’t help a laugh, at that. The way he said things! Bolin looked pleased. “You’re an improvement on Naga otherwise though,” he added. “If that helps. I mean, you smell better, and don’t lick my face.”
Iroh could feel the corners of his mouth still twitching determinedly upwards, and let them. “I’m flattered.”
“Oh, you totally should be! Naga’s great.” Was Bolin actually incapable of staying silent for more than a few moments? It was starting to seem likely. “All loyal and strong and – she’s a lot like Korra actually! Oh, oops, don’t tell Korra I compared her to a massive beast-thing. She can beat me up with all four elements nowadays.”
Iroh smiled. “She’s pretty amazing,” he agreed. “From what I’ve seen of her so far.” He paused to take a sip of tea, and winced in sorrow. “It’s gone cold.” He must’ve been out here much longer than he’d thought.
“You have tea?” Bolin peered at the cup. “Why do you have tea?”
“It helps me think.” He sighed. “When it’s not lukewarm and disgusting. Oh, well. I can get more.”
“Or you could just heat it up again,” Bolin said, wiggling his fingers. “Firebend vroom! Mako does that with dumplings.”
Iroh curled his fingers around the cup’s scant warmth and shook his head. “We should probably just go back inside now. It’s getting late, and you’re shivering.”
“I am not,” Bolin said automatically, and then he said, “You could just heat things up! Firebend vroo—”
“I don’t want to disturb the local ecosystem,” Iroh said severely. His grandfather had always told him to be respectful of the environment; Iroh suspected he’d gotten it from Avatar Aang.
Bolin looked blank. “Huh?”
Iroh nodded to one side. “Look at that otter penguin colony, for instance. Any large-scale firebending could play havoc with their feeding habits.”
Bolin stared at him. “You’re really weird,” he said.
Iroh frowned down at his tea. “I had – my upbringing, I – the environment is important,” he finished lamely, and gave a rueful chuckle. Strange how much harder it was to talk to people when the fate of the world wasn’t at stake.
“Hey, don’t worry, dude,” Bolin said, patting his shoulder in a friendly sort of way. “Embrace the weird! Let it become you.”
“I think you’re a lot weirder than I am.”
“Maybe so! But I think,” Bolin said, standing, “that I can at the very least deal with this all this stupid wind.”
Bolin grinned at him, then flung out his arms almost absentmindedly. A wall of rock rose up all around them, smooth and quick, circling them. It protected them from the icy bite of the wind, and – there was no disruption of the landscape around it like you normally saw with large works like that, no rocky rubble; when Bolin sank it back into the ground again there probably wouldn’t even be any sign it had been disturbed.
It was one of the neatest bits of earthbending he’d ever seen, and Bolin hadn’t even needed to think about it.
“I can fly,” Iroh offered into the sudden lull, and Bolin gave him a grin of delighted awe that warmed him better than any tea in creation.