Chapter Fourty-Four:

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Ruka (1)

Iroh returned into the room. It was finally time to depart.

"You're fishing for an octopus, my nephew. You need a tightly woven net or he will squeeze through the tiniest hole and escape."

"I don't need your wisdom right now Uncle." Zuko replied. I turned to Hiko who was tying some of the rope that hung the canoe Zuko and I would be sailing on.

I placed my hand on his shoulder, "Thank you for your help. I think it's time you go."

Hiko nodded, letting go of the knotted rope. He gave me a small smile and I returned it.

He embraced me a in a loose hug, "Be careful out there."


As I was pulling away, he tightened his arms around my waist so I wouldn't leave.

"Make sure the Avatar stays safe. He's our only hope." Hiko whispered. I widened my eyes, I didn't know he felt that way.

"Okay." I replied. He pulled away and before he could walk away, I grabbed his arm and planted a quick kiss on his cheek. "Careful."

"Always." And with that, he left out the door. I turned back around and Zuko and Iroh were looking at me with different expressions.

Iroh held a weary smile while Zuko held a glare.

I cleared my throat while feeling my cheeks get warm, "Sorry."

Iroh looked back to his nephew. "I'm sorry, my nephew. I just nag you because, well, ever since I lost my son..." Iroh's voice deepened and he looked away. He was holding back tears.

Iroh had a son. I didn't know. Well how could I? I barely know anything about the formal General and banished Prince.

"Uncle, you don't have to say it." Zuko said softly.

"I think of you as my own." Iroh admitted. Zuko turned around with a frown. "I know, Uncle."

Zuko bowed to the elderly man, "We'll meet again."

Iroh quickly hugged the teenager, his head buried in his chest. Zuko pulled away seconds later, "After I have the Avatar."

I sighed, shaking my head in disappointment.

Zuko walked to the canoe and as he was getting in, he turned his head to me. "Let's go Ruka."

While I walked passed Iroh, I nodded to him with a small smile, telling him everything will be alright.

He grabbed onto my hand, stopping me from going into the canoe. "No matter what happens tonight, don't give up."

I knew what he meant. Once again, I nodded. I got into the canoe and sat beside Zuko.

Zuko stood up, holding onto the ropes on either side of him.

"Remember your breath of fire! It could save your life out there!"

As Zuko was bringing us down, he replied, "I will."

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