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Within Reach

Title: Within Reach
Author: iceprincessd
Rating: G
Prompt: Foods (#8 Bread and Water)
Characters/Pairing: Iroh + Lu Ten
Warnings: none, pre-show
Summary: A quick moment at the end of a day.

The flap of the tent was pushed aside and Lu Ten wearily entered. “The North wall is still secure, Father.”

“Casualties?”

Lu Ten shook his head. “None, but there were a few injuries. Nothing serious; the Earth Kingdom’s troops haven’t had an opportunity to get near enough for lethal blows.”

Iroh nodded and made room for his son at the low table he was sitting at. He had anticipated Lu Ten’s arrival and set out a few rations for their evening meal. “Things are going well. If they continue, Ba Sing Se will be ours within the month.”

Lu Ten tore off a heel of bread and chewed thoughtfully. “I’m looking forward to having something more substantial to eat,” he said, reaching out and taking a long drink of water from a nearby cup. “Siege food is getting really old.”

Iroh grinned. “Just one of the perks of being in the army, my son.”

“No, I mean, the siege food is getting old. I wouldn’t be surprised if I cracked one of my teeth on this.” He tapped the piece of bread on the table to illustrate his point, noting how the chunk made a solid thump on the surface without losing its shape. “What do you have there?”

Iroh brushed off the piece of parchment he held. “I’m just finishing a letter to your cousins.” He glanced over at the wooden box that contained the gifts he intended to give his niece and nephew. “I hope that they like what I’m sending.”

Lu Ten didn’t have the heart to inform his father that Azula wasn’t the type of little girl that enjoyed playing with dolls. Well, not in the traditional sense, at least. He’d often caught her holding court with her toys, and instead of pretending that they were her children or friends as other girls would, she treated them as if they were her minions and subjects instead. “I’m sure that Zuko will appreciate the knife,” he said instead.

“He’s a good boy,” Iroh agreed, rolling up the parchment and placing it inside the box. “He might be a late bloomer when it comes to firebending, but he has a great amount of potential.” Giving his son a sly look, he tilted his head. “And what of you? Have you already written to that pretty girl you’ve been seeing?”

Lu Ten’s face broke out into a huge smile. “Twice this morning already.”

His father shook his head. “Young love. Does this mean that I may gain a daughter-in-law soon?”

If possible, Lu Ten’s smile grew. “Perhaps.” He looked down at the table and traced the wood grain with his finger, his expression suddenly falling. “We’ve lost over a year together, and if this siege keeps up, then it will make two years that we haven’t seen the other. Letters aren’t the same as being face to face.”

Iroh put his hand on Lu Ten’s shoulder. His son had already spent his twenty-first birthday on the front lines; it wasn’t fair that he’d have to be away from someone he cared about for so long. “If there was any way that I could end this quickly, I would.” As it was, he was trying hard to retain much of the outer wall’s integrity; when they took the capital, the more defenses that they could keep intact the better. That way he could concentrate on his troops beginning the process of crowd control and keeping the anticipated rebellions down to a minimum.

Lu Ten gave his father a small smile. “I know.” He yawned, his jaw cracking. “I’m going to bed. Tomorrow is another day and my commanding General is a terror when he doesn’t get enough sleep.” The last bit was said with a cheeky smirk and a jab of his elbow against Iroh’s side.

Iroh laughed and gave Lu Ten’s arm a gentle shove. “Insolence will not be tolerated in my unit,” he threatened. It would have worked better if he had a more serious look on his face though. “But you are right; it’s getting late and tomorrow is a new day. Who knows what it might bring.”

Lu Ten rose from his seat and went towards the tent’s exit. “Who knows, indeed.”

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