It is summer in the Fire Nation, Jeong Jeong's first summer in the Fire Nation in forty years. The heat sinks into his bones, languid and oppressive, an invitation to burn and burn and never be consumed.
He wants to hide in the cool darkness of Piandao's cellars. Instead he hikes down to the waterfall's pool and swims. Sometimes he simply basks, because the heat and light are so much more intense here.
More often than not, he finds he is content.
Fire has always come easy to him. In contentment, though, he finds he has to concentrate to light a lamp.
He does not know what to make of this. He has fought and struggled against the burden of his fire all his life, and now when he lets it lie, it suddenly vanishes"
The world is perverse.
His fire blossoms with barely a whisper-thought and a twitch of his fingers. It burns the lamp to paper-ash and charcoaled wood.
The world is perverse, he thinks as he cleans it up.
In the evening, the fireflies come out, and Piandao sits with him at the bay window. Jeong Jeong watches the stars come out and savors the cool breezes that brush against his skin. Piandao writes letters by lamp-light and tells him about what he worked on that day.
Sometimes Fat leaves them desserts, and Piandao encourages Jeong Jeong to at least try them.
They are good. He just doesn't need them, and there is the lure of temptation in them. He knows how Iroh is about tea, and how he has become about food since Lu Ten's death.
He cannot resist the honey-drenched figs, though. Not when Piandao picks them up and offers to feed them to him. Not when honey slides down his friend's fingers. Not when Piandao leans so close, grey eyes intense as flint and steel just before they strike.
The world is perverse, and he likes it.