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Breathe

Title: Breathe
Author: iceprincessd
Rating: G
Prompt: Words (#7 Breathe)
Characters/Pairing: Iroh + Lu Ten
Warnings: none, pre-show
Summary: He would often watch his son sleep.

It was a habit of Iroh’s to watch his son sleep. When he was younger, Lu Ten often lay still, causing Iroh to sit at his cradle and watch for every inhale and exhale, just to reassure himself that yes, his son was indeed breathing. As he aged, Lu Ten became a more active sleeper, flopping all over the place as if there were an unconscious need for his body to take up as much of the mattress as possible. Yet as he reached adulthood, Lu Ten once again began to lay quietly, his breath deep and even. And even though his son was now a man, Iroh would stand at the doorway and watch, the rhythm of Lu Ten’s breath soothing after a long day.

What Iroh didn’t know was that as his son aged, it became a habit of Lu Ten’s to watch his father sleep. Iroh was a still sleeper, and Lu Ten often found himself standing at his bedside and staring down, reassuring himself that yes, his father was still breathing. At twenty, Lu Ten fully understood his father’s duties and the toll that they took on him. Iroh’s hair was still thick, but a fine peppering of grey was starting to creep in at his temples. The lines around his mouth and eyes might be shrugged off by his father as laugh marks, but Lu Ten had seen his father purse his lips far more of late than laugh. Talks of taking the Earth Kingdom’s seat of power at Ba Sing Se were becoming more and more frequent, and while he was more than ready to go and fight as part of the Fire Nation’s army, he was concerned about Iroh even more.

And that was why every night, Lu Ten would feign sleep, staying as still as possible until his bedroom door would close and the light his father held faded down the hallway. He’d wait for a while before slowly walking down the hall and carefully sliding his father’s door open. In sleep, Iroh’s face was free of the tension that he held during the course of the day. Lu Ten would stand there and wonder what he could do to make his father’s duties easier for him.

And while he stood there, he wondered if some day he would be in his father’s place, taking comfort in the sight of his future children drawing breath.

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