Iroh wasn't prepared for this.
He was Iroh, the youngest general in the history of the United forces, Crown Prince of the Fire Nation. He was the eldest grandchild of Zuko the Saviour, and the eldest child of Fire Lord Izumi. His job description spoke of leadership – and not of this.
"Can I come in? Great." Asami Sato stepped into his office without waiting for an answer and dropped herself onto the chair at the other side of his desk. She sighed exasperatedly. "By Yue, people are so annoying."
He raised his right eyebrow, only slightly aggravated. He didn't like it when people dropped by without some sort of notification, but he didn't say anything.
"You'd think that now Korra and I are out of the closet, so to speak, everything would, like, calm the fuck down. But no, of course that isn't what it's like. It's everything but that. I can't even buy an new eyeshadow without being disturbed by endless seas of those tabloid reporters." Her mouth pulled itself into a scowl and she put a loose lock of hair behind her ear. "You get what I mean?"
"No," Iroh said, kind of amused, because no, he didn't know what it was like to buy an eyeshadow and then being disturbed by endless seas of those tabloid reporters. Asami, however, rambled on.
"And then there's Mako. Agni, Mako. He's adorable, truly adorable – but if there's one person who doesn't support you, it's Mako. And it's not like he thinks it's weird or bad or anything, but he's just so jealous and it's so annoying. 'You don't get it'," she mocked Mako's lower voice. "'It's different for you. Your ex-girlfriends aren't dating.' By Yue, he's such an annoying piece of shit. Both relationships with him didn't exactly end with things all rainbows and sunshine, and now we have to understand that he's jealous?"
She stared at him for a while – her green eyes burning into his gold ones – and then leaned backwards into her chair.
"What do you think?" She then asked, and she puckered her lips defiantly. "Well?"
Iroh sighed deeply. "Let me make some tea first."
"Your jasmine tea is amazing." Asami said, clearly happy that he was preparing himself for it. "While you prepare the tea, you can tell me what you're thinking."
"I don't exactly get your problem," Iroh said drily. He poured water into the teapot and opened the gas of the tiny stove; lit it with a snap of his fingers. "Mako, or the paparazzi?"
"Mako. The press. Both." Asami sighed and followed with her eyes how he put the teapot on the fire. "It's just so frustrating."
He brushed his fingers across different packets of tea and picked out one of the jasmine mixes. "When I got married," he began in a calm tone, "the whole world was freaking out. I don't know how old you were then, because I got married very young – but the news was huge. It was even worse that I married a girl of regular Fire Nation descend. A peasant, so to speak." He turned around and rested casually against the table that held up all the tea.
"You're married?" Asami asked, voice filled with astonishment.
"Why?" he gave her a crooked grin and winked. "Don't I look like the type who'd get married?"
Asami turned red. "Well-"
"Calm down," he chuckled. "I'm not married anymore. Divorced." He showed his right hand, the absence of a golden band twinkling in absence.
"Oh," Asami said. She bit her lip. "How-"
"She cheated on me with my little brother." Her eyes widened, as if to say: you're kidding. He waved his hand through the air and gave a quick glance at the teapot. Steam was already escaping through the nozzle. "Long story. I did end up with an adorable little boy, though."
"You've got a son?" her eyes widened again. "How old?"
"Six. Little firebender. Last time I saw him he'd set fire to my grandfather's beard."
"You don't see him often, don't you? Do you miss him?"
Iroh smiled sadly. "More than anything in this world. But anyway, we're not talking about me, we're talking about you and Korra." A short pause. "And Mako."
"Do tell," Asami smiled. She pulled up her legs and wrapped her arms around them.
"When I got married, the press followed us everywhere. Seriously, everywhere. One time I almost attacked one for ending up in our bedroom."
The pot whistled. Iroh quickly grabbed two cups and sprinkled the dried leaves into them. He placed one in front of Asami and one in front of his seat and grabbed the teapot. Asami eyed him with a growing scowl, knowing he was keeping her waiting. He was grinning while he poured the hot water.
"This blend has a hint of fireblossom. It adds a slight nutty aftertaste to the tea."
"Don't you dare changing the subject, mister."
Iroh laughed and poured his own water. "He had broken into our room and I freaked out. Thought he was an assassin – you don't want to know how many assassinations are still being attempted by supporters of my great-grandfather Ozai."
"Hasn't Ozai been dead for ages?" she asked sceptically.
"Just for twenty-five years. Anywho, I almost shat my pants, threw a lamp in his direction and burned the pants of his legs. I've never yelled that loudly at the head of Security, nor have I ever seen my grandfather that angry. Security has been way better ever since."
"And what else?"
"Basic stuff. You can't even just take a stroll around the block, for example, without being bothered." He took a small sip and Asami followed. She frowned and pouted.
"What's wrong?" he asked, amused by the expression on her face. "Too bitter?"
"No, it's great, but I'm just wondering." She explained. She took another sip.
"How did it stop?" she had a serious expression on her face, but when she saw he was smiling she automatically mirrored his grin. "What?"
"It never stops. You're romantically – no doubt sexually – involved with the avatar, Asami. You've saved the world multiple times with her, and Mako, and Bolin, and Tenzin, and many others. People are interested in you; you've got fans. They want to know what you're life's like. What kind of clothes you wear, what kind of food you eat, what kind of make-up you use."
Her gaze was on her tea. "Oh."
"But," Iroh said, and he gave her another smile. "It lessens. You get used to it."
Asami laughed carefully. "So I just have to be patient."
"And the Mako-problem?"
"I would've reacted weird two." Iroh said. "My two exes, dating? That would be weird. Just keep going on. He'll have to get used to it eventually. You two are his best friends after all, with Bolin."
She's silent and clutches her cup.
"Weird, isn't it?" mused Iroh, "how hearing that someone went through the same thing makes the burden so much lighter."
"I wouldn't call it lighter, but less big."
Iroh laughed. "Isn't that the same thing?"
"Hey," he said softly, and he smiles at her when she raises her gaze to meet his. "It'll all work out. I promise. Besides, you sound way too pessimistic right now. Look pessimistic too."
Asami smiled back carefully. "I've been way too optimistic the last few years."
"Great-uncle Sokka always said that he wasn't a pessimist, just honest."
She began to laugh. It resonated through the room. "That's also a way to say it."
The two of them drank their tea in silence. When Asami was finished, she sighed deeply and placed the cup carefully on Iroh's desk. "Thank you, General. I feel way better."
He saluted and winked. "You're welcome, miss Sato."
She was already halfway the door when he suddenly remembered something.
"Oh, Asami, I've got to ask something."
She stopped and leaned against the metal. "Yes?"
He kept on searching through the pile of papers that was on the desk and snatched an envelope from between the papers. He quickly read the name of the addressed and grinned shortly, before he gave the envelope to Asami. "Will you give this to Mako?"
"Of course." She quickly eyed the paper. Mako's name was written on the front in neat, precise calligraphy. "Anything else?"
"Tell Mako that I want an answer as quickly as possible; preferably within three to four days. Oh, and tell Pema that I can't come for dinner tonight – I'm not free until next week."
She smiled. "I'll tell him. Have a nice evening, Iroh."
"You too, Asami."
Asami gave him one last smile, which he returned. As soon as she had closed the heave door behind her he leaned back in his chair and sighed, before pouring himself another cup of tea. He stared at the curling steam and was unaware of the grin growing on his face.
His job description may not have spoken of giving advice – but that didn't mean he couldn't give it.