Beau and Yasha's happily-ever-after hits on such a specific very good button for me, because it's not exactly about finding this person, finally, after a life of shit, will be kind to me. It is some of that, and that's great! But part of why Yasha and Beau are even in a place where they can handle a relationship is because they've come to have that already, from the whole M9, from their extended support network, they believe they can experience kindness and care from others now. They've got that.
What Yasha and Beau find in each other, then, isn't this person will be kind to me. It's this incredible, wonderful, beautiful feeling of this is a person I get to be kind to.
And, god, that's so much! It's so much. For so many reasons, it's so much. Discovering that you are capable of being good to another person, regularly, repeatedly, at length, again and again and maybe forever. That you don't have to break everything you touch. That you can choose kindness, and have it matter. That it won't get slapped back in your face, treated as weakness, refused or twisted against you (like Beau and Yasha have both been, so many times, the way their so-deep loyalty has been utterly abused)--that your kindness can actually help and matter to someone.
Yasha realizing she's fallen for Beau in Beau's father's house, because she wants to protect, she wants to stop this person from being cruel to Beau, not because she needs but because she wants to give. Beau watching Yasha in tiny moments of softness, collecting flowers, loving dogs, feeling, wanting. I care about you, and I get to care for you. I don't have to be made of blunt instruments and sharp edges with you. I can be good. I can be kind.
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@spocksbedsidemanner and I came up with some great headcannons about the dark!Lu Ten verse, and I thought they were too good not to share. With her permission, below I have transcribed our conversation, because I am too lazy to rewrite it into a cohesive narrative. I'm E, and she is S.
E: I've got this headcannon that in Fire Nation culture children are seen as extensions of their parents. Parents get the praise of their children's accomplishments, and children pay the price of parent's mistakes.
S: Yes, yes, yes, I think that makes total sense for them, given their characterization they seem very about their legacy and lineage, esp Ozai w/ usurping the throne, and when he declares himself the phoenix king w/ Azula as just an extension of himself as firelord. He doesn't really think of her as her own person. Probs didn't think of Lu Ten as more than a solid claim for Iroh for the throne.
E: Exactly! When Lu Ten died, a piece of Iroh died, making him "weaker" and "less worthy."
S: Children of the royal family? Having their own drive and humanity separate of their parents' legacy? In MY Fire Nation? It's more likely than you think 👀
Yesss exactly, I think that's why the fire nation was so readily accepting of Ozai's story that Azulon toootally revoked Iroh's title and bestowed it on Ozai, before kicking the bucket. Definitely totally happened exactly like that, don't question it, it's not like he had a son or a wife for his legacy anymore, shhhh… Like, it can't all just be fear of Ozai right? It must have made sense to the people somehow.
E: Pretty much. The line must continue. Iroh lost his son and the siege. Ozai has two children. It makes just enough sense to quiet dissenters. I imagine there's a famous play in the Fire Nation about a man who commits treason and his entire family is killed, even his newborn baby. Zuko tells the GAang about the play to explain why Iroh won't have a choice but to kill him.
S: Oooh yes, that'd make sense too. It's just the logical next step, it's a natural consequence of his father's treason being brought to justice, of course his uncle must eliminate him if he finds him, it's how it has to be. He would feel bad for his sister i bet, even if she did shoot him with lightning in that 'what if' you posted Poor Zuko 💜💜
E: "Yeah. Once the war is over my uncle will have to execute me publicly. It's tradition." *Shrug.* "Who wants tea?"
S: Omg lol. Yep. So straightforward.
Well, since it's inevitable, why spend unnecessary time struggling with it? Let's go train, he needs to give the Avatar as much time training in firebending as he can before they go defeat Ozai and his own execution afterwards. It was nice spending as much time as he gets with them in their group 💛
E: Katara: Thank you fellow members of Operation: Save Zuko From His Horrible Family. Today we'll be going over a few options.
Sokka: Option one, take him to the South Pole and keep him forever.
Toph: Option two, take him to the Earth Kingdom where it isn't so COLD and keep him forever.
Aang: Option three, keep him on Appa forever.
Katara: We have many good options.
S: What excellent options i am sure kidnapping Zuko to protect him will go entirely smoothly and have zero mishaps. I'm personally voting for Appa, the Goodest Boy. If he just lives on Appa forever he can get closer to the SUN which is a thing that he needs, isn't that wonderful?
E: Literally that's Aang's argument to him.
"But honor demands I be executed!"
"Fuck. Your. Honor."
"Did Aang just... curse?"
S: Aaaaaaaa yesssss!! I feel for the gaang, it'd take a lot to get him to not feel that he MUST be executed for justice to be served, he's so ready to blame himself as a failure already bc of Ozai's abuse >_<
E: Now I'm imagining them actually smuggling him to the South Pole after the battle before Iroh can arrive to apologize to/reassure him. Maybe they tell Iroh he died to keep him safe. Zuko goes hunting with Sokka, bending practice with Katara, penguin sledding with Aang. It's so fun and wholesome. Eventually the truth gets out and Iroh feels SO MUCH relief & guilt. He wonders whether it's better for Zuko to go find him and apologize or let him go so he can feel safe. 😭😭
S: Yes! They have no way of knowing that Iroh would never hurt Zuko, just Zuko's word on how things are in the Fire Nation, so it's just safer to somehow get information to Iroh that Zuko died in the battle. Wholesome found family hijinks ensue 💜💜
Either way once Iroh finds out i bet he would want to see him, if only from a distance, just to see him alive and happy playing in the snow with his friends! Could be the catalyst for some progressive new policies, and protections put in place to protect the lives of children and families of criminals. Never let there be a kid like Zuko again, thinking that they have to die bc of their terrible dad.
E: 🥺🥺 Now I'm imagining Iroh standing on top of a snow hill, just watching the village. Zuko is sitting with Katara and Sokka's family (Gran-Gran forgave him immediately) eating some octocaribou he helped kill. Aang is munching on the vegetarian sides while telling a story that's making Zuko laugh. His cheeks are rosy and full. He looks so comfortable and at peace.
Iroh remembers how tense Zuko was in Ba Sing Se, how his shoulders were always hunched up to his ears. Iroh's eyes fill with tears. His guilt chokes him.
He goes home and immediately starts drafting new laws. He also commissions a talented playwright to create a new version of that stupid play that pushes the moral of mercy and kindness.
S: YES 💜💜💜 *cries*
Aang being the Avatar, i bet they'd have to see each other at some official world peace functions or whatever at some point. Iroh doesn't want to outright say anything in case Zuko hears of it and feels obligated to come back if he doesn't actually want to (if he could ever forgive Iroh...), but he makes some comment to Aang about ~if~ Zuko were still alive, he would wish to tell him how much he loves him and wanted him to be happy, however that happiness would look for him, with Iroh in it or without…
E: *Gif of the tenth Doctor getting all melodramatic about radiation poisoning captioned as "I'm in a glass case of emotion!"* Iroh is in the Earth Kingdom for FL business when he's invited to dine with the prestigious Beifong family. While there he talks to Toph about his nephew. He gives a passionate speech about what a good person Zuko was, how honorable, how kind, ect… He talks about the new laws he passed to protect kids like Zuko. He gets really emotional at one point and starts crying. He feels a hand on his shoulder and looks up to see Zuko. At first he can't believe Zuko is really there. Then he pulls him into a hug and starts sobbing. He begs for forgiveness. Zuko starts crying too. This isn't what he expected. He says he loves his uncle and never blamed him. They hug and cry while the GAang watches.
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