Know Thy Self

By Fen-crya

Rating: M for Masturbation. xD (And Iroh coping a feel on some serious fire nation skin) Incest as well.

Pairing(s) : Iroh/Zuko

Disclaimer: I do not own, nor do I attempt to own or profit from the characters from Avatar: The Last Airbender.

N/A: Minimize browser window for format originally intended.

Sup, Bull-Shitzlles. Seriously, I have no idea where this idea came from, but it's been playing through my mind for the past WEEK. I finally had to just write it out to get it out. I'd be lying if I said it didn't creep me out a little. For srs.

I have to listen to music to be able to write. I just recently found my 16 gig USB that had been lost for months. Expect more stories soon.

I listened to Alan's Kuon no Kawa repetitiously while writing this. It's such a beautiful song, and it helped me to keep fluidly writing (especially in the beginning) without too many breaks (something I'm rarely able to do anymore). And for some reason, the music video reminds me of Avatar: The Last Airbender.

Error Status: Still have no Beta Reader. Too lazy to search for one. Expect errors. : /

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Standing there, glancing out the window of one of the various second floor rooms, Zuko stood to watch the gentle waves that crashed against the sea in lazy bliss. It had been a rather calm and uneventful day, and an equally calm night. The crew had already gone to bed, save for the select few who managed the ship. Zuko wasn't one of them, but that didn't mean he could just lie down and fall asleep so soundly either. He'd had…other things on his mind lately.

"Ah, good evening, nephew. I see you're still awake."

"…I tried sleeping. But I just ended up rolling around. I guess I'm not as tired as I thought I was."

Iroh walked over to him, patting him on the shoulder. He knew the young man all too well to note that the circles under his eyes weren't just from lack of sleep. "Thinking about catching the Avatar?"

"…You could say that…" Zuko just looked out at the sea, thoughts of home on his mind.

"It sounds to me like you are stressing yourself too much. The Avatar isn't going to vanish while to sleep, Prince Zuko. Now that he's returned, you'll have many other opportunities to capture him."

Zuko didn't miss a beat. "I know that, Uncle." He brought a hand up to rub his scarred eye, making sure he didn't scratch the tender skin with his unclipped nails.

"I suppose you do." Iroh stepped up beside him, glancing his way. "Would you care for something warm to drink before bed? I could brew some nice calming chamomile tea for you. It does have such a nice, rich flavor." Zuko had a feeling that his uncle had been talking more to himself than to him.

None the less, his tired mind gave in. He wasn't in the right state of mind to fight. Not really. "I've nothing better to do at the moment."

His uncle smiled, this time patting him on the back of the head like he might an obedient child. "Very well then. I'll be right back with the tea."

Before Zuko knew it, he was alone again. He sighed, breathing in deep a second time before moaning out his frustration. Pale fingers stroked his tired face. Maybe he was a bit stressed out. He'd been pacing nearly all day, knocking down any new thing that came in his path. He'd been angry for no clear reason, taking out his frustrations on anyone who happened to come his way. And if that was all just the recipe of stress, then he might as well be its monument. He really didn't understand why he got so agitated all the time, just that he was. It didn't matter what happened. Most times he would wake up angry and just stay that way for the remainder of the day. It was like an illness he couldn't sweat off.

And here he was, exhausted, and unable to sleep. He'd thought about masturbating to take the edge off, as he often did when he needed to expend some of that extra energy he wasted when his mind wouldn't shut up. But he was too busy thinking about other things, and before he knew it he was up and about again. And he certainly couldn't do it now with his uncle knowing he was awake now.

"Alright, I've made the tea, nephew. Won't you come and sit with me?"

Zuko had hardly heard the door opening, and briefly wondered if the door had been closed at all to begin with. He'd been too engrossed in his thoughts to notice such an insignificant thing. He couldn't deny the somewhat sweet aroma this 'calming' tea brought once it was poured into two separate cups. Iroh was already sitting at the small edge table with his legs under him, situating the tea pot and cups as if it were an art.

The younger prince let out a burdened breath and sauntered over to mimic his uncle's posture beside him. He was surprised to find a small portion of what looked like bread next to his cup. It was on a paper covering with a light pink lotus printed on it. Zuko also noticed that Iroh had not brought any for himself.

"Uncle, why did you bring this?" The question was soft and genuine as his finger motioned towards the bread. A warm smile greeted him.

"I thought you might be hungry. You skipped lunch today, after all." The elder picked up the cup in front of him, sipping it leisurely with a calming sigh. "I had hoped to bring you more, but I had a feeling you would not eat a full meal if I had brought one. You tend to get rather finicky when you are upset."

Zuko hung his head, knowing how badly he'd treated his crew early on in the day. He'd even given his uncle a word or two of resentment. Not because he was necessarily mad at him, but because he was just mad in general. And when he was mad, he felt like he needed to break something. Or someone. It was a hard mental state to get out of sometimes.

"I'm…I'm sorry, Uncle."

He slid his hand out across the table slowly to take his wooden tea cup in hand, his path faltering only when another hand placed itself over his. He blinked slowly, once more breathing in the scent of chamomile. The tense muscles lining his upper back cracked as he filled his lungs again with that aroma. He didn't have to look up to see in his uncle's eyes what he could feel through the warmth of his hand.

He understood, just as he always had. "I know."

When his hand was free to move, he almost couldn't find the strength to. Feeling drained, it was all he could muster to bring the cup to his lips. The tea tingled against his pale lips, tingeing them a lovely flush with heat. The taste lingered over his tongue even when he set the cup back on the table. He hated tea― just the very idea of a calming session where people gathered to chatter amongst themselves freely none too memory-worthy to him. But he'd be damned if Iroh's wasn't the best he'd ever tasted.

"You're not hungry?"

Zuko did look over this time, not quite understanding at first. A dimmer kind of amber glimmered back at him while he pondered what it was he'd apparently forgotten. Then he remembered the bread. "I am, a little."

"Good. I wouldn't want you to get sick while we are so far out at sea." Iroh smiled once his nephew started eating, feeling a very paternal kind of accomplishment warm his heart. He sat back with his tea in one hand, his other patting his stomach out of relaxed habit. "Let me know if you are still hungry after you've eaten that. I will gladly bring you something else."

Shrugging the fatherly gesture away, Zuko shook his head while he bit down on the heated morsel. He waited until he'd swallowed that bite before muttering a 'this is fine' statement. He ate the bread in silence with his eyes away to peer at the fire nation decorations covering the wall. The almost mesmerizing sound of his uncle sipping at his tea made him feel unusually comfortable, and he couldn't figure out why. His gaze brought him back to his elder, who sat so lucidly beside him.

"Uncle," He began, swallowing another mouthful of bread. The mostly healed, but still scorched skin just under his jaw line gave an awful twitch after his next bite. He rubbed it passively with the back of his hand after sliding it from his lips, some of the bread crumbs falling into his lap. "Aren't you going to eat anything?"

Iroh merely patted his stomach, chuckling. His eyes had yet to open, even as he took another sip from his cup. "I can assure you that I've already had my fill during dinner. I couldn't eat another bite!"

Through chewing his last remaining bite, Zuko couldn't help but give his cheek a slight scratch. He'd hoped Iroh wouldn't notice, being on his right side. But things rarely escaped his third eye. Zuko knew he'd been caught when he'd finished his bread, taking a large gulp of his lukewarm tea, and finding his Uncle's eyes on him. "…What?"

"Prince Zuko, you wouldn't be scratching your scar by any chance, would you?"

"No", he lied, trying to act like he was still brushing the grainy debris from his face. "Just some crumbs."

There was an awkward moment of silence before Iroh shook his head with a sigh. "Have you forgotten your ointment again, Zuko? You'll get a nasty rash scratching skin that's already very dry. Although a good portion has paled and become much healthier over the years, that wound is still in the healing process. It will do you no good scratching like that."

"No. I'm fine." Suddenly, Zuko felt edgy. Breathing in deep, his upper back cracked out of the sheer strain his tensing had caused. He'd been too caught up with his life lately to even bother with whether or not the burned side of his face stayed well moisturized. He hated having to always be under his uncle's scope. Nothing ever got by him. It agitated the young prince. He found himself a bit catty despite his temperamental disposition. "Besides, a few days without can't possibly hurt it. I'm sure that this whole side of my face isn't going to just peel off and fly away in to the wind."

Iroh's eyes held concern. "True. But this cold weather can still damage. You seem to forget, we are out in the arctic glaciers! The bitter air here can do much to open, dry wounds."

That's right, because a burn this severe would never heal up completely. For this, he would be forever riddled with custom care just to keep the swelling and agitation down. Most types of air, whether frigid or humid, liked to suck the moisture from his pores despite his care. He would never even be able to grow back his missing eyebrow or the gash like shapes near his ear. And he would never regain the full function of his left eyelid. The only thing he found he could be thankful for was that he still could see relatively well out of that eye, despite all odds. His eyelashes were gone, too.

Just thinking about all the cons of his condition got his blood boiling. "It's been three years! How am I supposed to remember to put some stupid aloe on all the time when I have more important things at hand? The Avatar could appear at any moment, and I'd miss him all because I had to put some ridiculous lotion on my face?"

"It is a cooling aloe, technically," Iroh felt the itching need to point out matter-of-factly. "Lotions are solely intended for rejuvenating the skin, and most have a nice fragrance."

Slamming the wooden cup in his hands down and standing up abruptly, Zuko shouted down at his elder, feeling belittled. "I don't care about fragrances, damn it! That's not the point!"

Iroh took a little more time in setting his tea aside before he too stood and faced his nephew, waving his arms in front of him in a slow, passive manner. "Please, Prince Zuko, there is no need to get so upset. If you've misplaced the bottle, I will gladly help you look for it."

Try as he might, Zuko's sporadic anger was rising again. He could feel it in his gut. Fuck aloe. He shouldn't have to live the rest of life with a bottle in his pocket just because of a little burn. His breath came out in a loud huff of aggravation. Ok, so it wasn't exactly a little burn. But he was a prince, banished or not, and he wasn't supposed to be forced to live this way.

"Alright?"

Zuko swallowed hard, feeling a strong heat burning through the lining in his stomach. "Fine," he gritted out, rubbing the unscathed side of his face. There he went again, anger coming out of nowhere and unnecessarily escalating. He needed to calm down before he did something drastic.

Or threw up. He could already taste the bile on the back of his tongue. He didn't favor the taste at all. "It should be on my desk." He swallowed again, his throat burning for only a moment until the acid was forced back into his stomach. There seemed to be a lump in his throat that was trying to gag him into emptying the acid altogether, but he refused to let it happen.

"I will try to be quick." Iroh bowed a little before he took his leave. Zuko walked back over to the window he'd been staring out of before his uncle had come by. He was determined to keep his cool, no matter how frustrated he felt. It didn't seem to be working very well though, as he thought about the events that had transpired since the Avatar's appearance, leading his thoughts back to his own banishment. The anger was rising before calming; an off kind of emotional rollercoaster that had him unstable.

Life sure wasn't as he'd imagined it growing up. His stomach churned. Clenching his fists at his side, Zuko wanted nothing more than to break the window in front of him. Life was laughing at his expense, the wind howling at the toiling of his conquests. He found it infuriating.

"I'll show them," He whispered under his breath, his voice venomous. His hands burned with unbridled fury. "I'll show them all."

He really needed to calm himself. He was starting to get some rather painful chest pains. With how it felt now, his heart pounding in his chest like a heavy taiko drum out of control, he was sure it might explode. He took a deep breath, stuttering it loose. Something else was creeping along his skin in little rivulets of sensations. It wasn't unusual after a fit of rage, but it still caught him off guard. It might have been because he'd chosen his thoughts instead of himself earlier before attempting sleep. Or it could have been his desire to take control over something. He really couldn't tell.

He paused, leaning against the wall and window with a heavy, heated sigh. His brows furrowed, his breath warming the ice ridden glass and creating blossoming circles of clear visibility. The cool air outside contrasted with his body heat, creating a thick layer of fog on the window. Closing his eyes, he willed his body to relax. He turned his head, the damaged side of his face tingling against all the misguided temperatures along the glass.

Zuko found it oddly arousing, whether he wanted to or not. Something about the contrast in ice and fire was so temping against the areas of more sensitive skin―teasing in a way that turned him lecherous; his body his victim. Just to be able to feel the chill running across his skin, only to have it heated―sometimes so close to the precipice of being burned, by his own element. It was certainly a fetish if he'd ever gained one, secret and known only by himself.

Freezing; by itself it was so tempting, a high so rarely thought of it was nearly sacred, and an extreme so shocking that his body often responded instantly. Which is why he was where he was now, he supposed. And as awkward as it might look with his face pressed against the glass pane of the window, while his hands worked along the beginning of his budding erection, the thought of fucking a compact snow bank as imagined in his mind was even more questionable.

Well, good news; he wasn't angry anymore. His stomach had calmed its bitching, his chest heaving a sigh. Bad news; he was now a little more than a little turned on.

He was beginning to regret not taking off the bulk of his uniform earlier. The tight belt encircling his waist was a little too snug for comfort now, and with barely any room to spare, his erection had no choice but to bump up against it. It created a clear outline against both his pants and the outer, thicker shell of his uniform. Two heavy layers of fabric to constrain the natural bend were bad enough, but add in the solid prick of metal at the end and instantly he felt like stripping…Or continuously slamming that metal down against the head of his erection. The teasing weight was unbearable.

But it wasn't unbearable in the sense that it hurt. In fact, he kind of liked having his erection caught in the bit of pressure. It was the pleasure that he couldn't obtain while in this situation that he found difficult. And to make things worse, his uncle was due to be back at any moment. What was he supposed to do? Surely he wouldn't have the time to relieve himself before his elder returned. What if he tried and was caught in the act? What would his uncle think if he found him in the throes of passion against a thawing window pane?

He tried to think of something else, but his thoughts always reverted back to the various ways he could masturbate. No matter how desperately he tried to gross himself out, it was no use. He was irrevocably and undeniably horny. Even the thought of his uncle masturbating backfired. The short vision only fueled his inner fire instead of snuffing it out. It made him feel a little more than awkward and afraid against that little tidbit, he couldn't lie. He thought it best to just derail that train of thought before it reached any kind of destination. So he chose something else.

Thinking back, Zuko couldn't remember when he'd last touched himself intimately. While he usually brushed his erections off as not important, he did occasionally give in to the need when it kept him up at night. But lately he'd been denying himself a lot more since the Avatar had made his grand appearance in the cold waters of the South. This lack of self indulgence was probably the reason for his random fits of anger and lusty mood swings. And he hoped it was also the reason for his weird sexual cravings; like dipping his hard flesh into the below freezing ocean, or bucking against one of the rougher, nail encrusted steel walls in the room just for some rougher texture to grate himself against. It was all equally delicious and torturous. Pain and pleasure, combined with pressure was always a quick way to bring him over the edge. He wasn't sure who to thank for that, or even if it was anyone else's fault but his own.

"Damn it," He cursed, feeling himself grow harder. He looked down, thinking it might be too late to turn back now. At least there were no signs of Iroh returning yet, meaning he still had some time to himself.

He decided to delve a little more in to his little fantasies after his lust driven mind convinced himself that a little fantasizing couldn't hurt before he 'dealt' with his issue. A few things crossed his mind, such as women and― mostly, himself alone. He let a hand ghost over the protruding bump in the cloth below his belt buckle, pushing the palm of his hand downward with a quick push, and pressing his body into it. Hopefully the pre cum wouldn't soak through until he quit the teasing and undid his belt and pants.

He thought of what it would feel like to climax into his own hand, finding the image of himself masturbating to be a tempting reel, and how the foreskin would feel being pinched between his fingertips. He also thought about what it felt like when something, anything, bumped against the slit of his urethra. Sometimes they slid a little in. He knew the sensations, and cherished them while he thrust up against the belt buckle. He made sure to hold the buckle in place while his hips moved in short, subtle waves.

Then, he thought of how much greater it might feel having someone else bring him to climax with their hands. He'd never experienced that before. But that brought on a whole array of darker thoughts, all of them centered on how he was supposed to find a willing partner who would look past his scarred face and humiliating history. That and if they were of other decent; Zuko being fire nation would most likely be an instant rejection. The percentage was depressingly low, a mere .2 to over what, a couple hundred or thousand per nation?

Oh hell. It didn't matter. He would still have himself if no one else complied. He didn't have the time to be depressed about companionship. Or the lack thereof.

Stilling his body, Zuko's rigid fingers worked their tortures over himself. The pleasure heightened just a bit. His mind ran away with itself, sending him visions he was sure he wouldn't produce during any kind of sexual sobriety.

There was still one person above all others who enjoyed his company. And that person would always be there to welcome him when no others would accept him. Instincts told him it was wrong to feel anything but an expected family kind of love, but for some reason his mind was working wonders at correcting that. Zuko entertained the thought for a moment, rolling his hips only slightly and holding the belt buckle in his hands firm until the edge of it jabbed against his urethra. He shivered at the pressure.

Although uncommon among families, especially royal families, incest wasn't instantly banned as taboo; as sometimes during times of war it was necessary to marry one of the same bloodline in order to keep producing strong descendants. It may be frowned upon, but in general it wasn't the highest offense one could commit. And given the circumstance, Zuko saw more pros than cons to his situation. His father, sister, and kingdom alike all hated him. Zhao was hunting him for personal gain in rank and attempting to take away his honor in catching the Avatar. Then there was the wide variety of people who Zuko was sure wanted him dead. What did he have to lose at this point?

Zuko couldn't stop the sudden heat from rising against the window. His breath no longer mattered against a pane of glass that was no longer chilled. He pressed his body firmly against the wall and window, breathing in deeply and enjoying the pressure against his front as metal collided with metal and crashed against his skin.

At the end of the day, no matter what happened…his uncle would always have a pot of tea made and a warm shoulder to lean against. Zuko couldn't deny this adoration for his elder.

He also couldn't deny his current confusion over the insanely sexual images running through his head―of what could happen if they both allowed it; lying together, Iroh's hands roaming his body, burning fingertips warming and playing his skin like a finely tuned instrument.

His whole body went rigid, and he panicked. 'What the hell am I thinking?' He had a strange feeling it wasn't a typical family-bonded love going on up there in his mind. It still held the original properties he'd always felt towards the man who treated him more like a father should, but with what was running through his mind now…

"Damn it," He muttered through gritted teeth. He'd have to take care of the issue at hand before he faced his uncle. Having Iroh see him like this would only embarrass them both. Especially if Zuko did or said anything that might jeopardize their relationship as it stood. He blamed his hunger for the obscure and sometimes unrealistic sexual urges he got. They could get a little out of hand sometimes.

He reached for his belt, fumbling to unclasp it. He'd have to be quick. Ears peeled and eyes open, he made sure to be aware when his uncle returned. Too much time had already been wasted in fantasizing when he could have already had his erection out and dealt with.

He nearly dropped his belt altogether when he heard the footsteps echoing throughout the hallway of the corridors. "Not now…"

How was he going to hide his obvious erection? "Damn it!" He hissed, frantically searching for an idea. His eyes shot over to the table. Thinking fast, he slide over and sat down with his legs crossed, pretending to drink what little tea he had left in his cup. His groin ached from the movement, but he did his best not to look too excited. He felt his face, glad his cheeks weren't flushed.

The tea wasn't much, and it was cold, but it didn't matter. It was the act of drinking it that was meant to be a distraction. Most of his thighs were hidden under the low rise table, and that was most important. He hadn't bothered with re-clasping the belt. It rested on the floor beside him in a heap. Zuko reached down to tug his erection under the tighter folds of fabric to hide any more obvious bulging in case something should go wrong.

Iroh entered the room a second later, a small ceramic bottle in his hand. He had a questionable look on his face when he peered at his nephew's newfound posture. It looked to him like a moment alone had once again helped Zuko to regain his calmer composure. Of course, the pose was something new. "I don't mean to pry, Zuko, but…why are you sitting hunched over like that?"

Zuko coughed, feeling rather uneasy with the consistent throbbing between his legs. "N-nothing serious! My back just hurts a little…" 'My back?' He could have kicked himself. 'I'm sixteen years old, I hardly do anything strenuous, and I tell him my back hurts?'

"Well, now that you seem to be in a better mood, would you like me to massage it for you?" Iroh set the bottle on the table, taking his earlier spot next to Zuko. Only he was facing his profile now. Zuko had to take a moment to pull his mind from the gutter to understand what he'd just heard in the correct context. "If you weren't so tense all the time, you wouldn't have so many stiff muscles."

The irony was horrendous. Zuko wanted to slam his face against the table. "No!" Zuko nearly shouted, putting his hands up when Iroh's came close. "I-I mean, I probably just pulled a muscle or something during training. I-It's nothing serious. I probably won't even feel it tomorrow." Hopefully Iroh would buy into it. The younger prince often strained a muscle or tendon that caused him continuous pain from overexposure. It was something that happened a lot during the hardcore training he demanded.

"Is that why you removed your belt as well?"

Zuko visibly swallowed, trying to not look too suspicious. "Yeah," he tried. "It was…too tight."

"Oh, I see." Iroh watched his nephew pretend to drink his cold tea before finally laughing at his expense. "I cannot imagine that tea could still be even relatively warm. Would you like some more?"

Zuko nodded, his shoulders a bit hunched with apprehension. Steam rose as the hand his uncle had on the side of the teapot heated the brew before the small stream of darkened tea landed in his cup. "Thank you, Uncle."

Iroh's smile broadened. "You are most welcome, my nephew."

Squirming in place but still trying to remain unseen, Zuko let the silence overtake their lighthearted conversation. Ripples of pleasure flooded though him each time he moved. He watched as Iroh poured more tea into his own cup, and Zuko continued to drink his mechanically. Tea drinking wasn't exactly on the forefront of his mind.

His uncle handed him the small bottle of medical oil. "You should put some on now, before it gets worse."

Zuko looked around, genuinely stating the absence of what he needed in order to accurately do so. "There are no mirrors in here." Not all of the nerves had been damaged, but enough to where he could get confused as to where his fingers prodded. He needed to be able to see to get the entire scope of the burn, anyway.

"Not to worry, I can put it on for you."

"…Ok." Nodding, he watched as Iroh pulled the cork from the bottle and placed a generous amount on one of his hands. The other he used to dab a few of his fingers into the stuff pooling in his palm, coating them.

"Close your left eye," Iroh instructed, moving to Zuko's other side. Inwardly, Zuko questioned why his uncle had moved himself instead of asking him to turn. But he was also thankful, for he knew his erection would have been visible otherwise. "I need to cover your eyelid too. I'll try not to stain your eye."

Zuko decided to close both. When the thick oil finally met with his skin, it melted into his drying pores. It wasn't cool or hot, but warm like the hands applying it. Another sexually obscure thought crossed his mind against his will. What if he started jerking off while his uncle was massaging the aloe into his skin? Would his uncle be offended? The gentleness of the touch he brought had always been soothing, and right now it did a little more than ease the minor skin irritation. Zuko had to force his hands to relax in his lap before he became too engrossed in what was going on inside his head. His whole body was beginning to tingle, his tongue absent mindedly slithering across his lower lip.

Fingers ran delightful circles over his temple, rubbing only lightly over his ear. They traced a line over where his eyebrow should have been, trailing down to leave a nice thin coat of oil over his eyelid. It was successful in keeping his little fire ignited down below. And Iroh spared no expense at making sure he'd covered the entirety of the burned flesh before pulling back.

"There," his elder announced, wiping his hand on one of the printed clothes on the table. "That should be good for a while."

Zuko nodded his thanks, finding it a little difficult to pull away from his trance and open his eyes. By now he was unpleasantly hard. All he could think of was getting off. He nearly moaned aloud and begged to be left alone.

Iroh easily brought Zuko from his thoughts. "However…I would advise against using your oils for…other purposes. You'll only run out sooner."

That brought his consciousness back to reality. His eyes snapped open, suddenly remembering just where he'd left that little bottle. "W-what?"

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A/N: I really tried to condense this into a single chapter, I really did. The whole story was originally meant to be like…5-6 pages, tops. But 9 pages in…I just had to find somewhere to cut it off. Especially since the remainder of the story will probably be at least 10 pages more or so. I'm such a detail-whore. Sorry guys.