Sometimes It Doesn't Work
Rated: Teen for romance. (Kataang, Tenlin, Tenma)
Summary: Tenzin loves Lin, but the relationship is going nowhere fast. Pema loves Tenzin, but has been 'Friend Zoned' by him. Sometimes things have to get worse before they get better.
Disclaimer: Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra are owned by Mike, Bryan, and Nickelodeon.
LES: This story is based on the love triangle revelation in Episode 6. I hereby vow to treat all involved pairings with respect, no matter how they ultimately end up. If anything, I don't think people are going to be nearly as upset with me over the whole Tenlin/Tenma thing as they are going to be over another non-canon detail I'm adding in the story, specifically about Toph. If I get death threats about this story, it will definitely be over that…
Chapter I: The Argument
It was something that was becoming far more common lately on the grounds of Air Temple Island. Everyone just tried to go about their business while ignoring the couple that was whispering harshly towards each other.
Aang and Katara both sighed, watching their youngest son duking it out with his lover once again. Neither of them had gotten involved with Tenzin's love life, which was too complicated for them… Aang, especially.
When Aang was growing up before the hundred year war, it was unthinkable to have sex with someone before marriage. After the hundred year war, when his wife, Katara, was growing up, it was more common but still unacceptable. Now, sex before marriage was not only acceptable, but a given.
Both their son and Lin were products of the age, and they had made no secret of the fact that they were having sex, both with each other and in their previous relationships.
Both Aang and Katara knew that sex had a way of complicating a relationship, especially when it was the source of the conflict.
"I just can't believe that you would go against my wishes like that!" Lin hissed at her lover. "I told you that I don't want children! What if I get pregnant? You should have been more careful!"
"Careful?" Tenzin hissed back. "I apologize, then. I'm sorry that I never had to watch myself before. None of the other girls that I've had sex with seemed concerned about it."
"Oh, really? You're just lump me in with all the other whores you've dated?" Lin replied, frowning. "You know as well as I do that they were just hoping you'd get them pregnant so they could trap you in a marriage."
"That…" Tenzin trailed off, his face going red and his infamous temper began to rise. He stopped, and took a calming breath as his father had taught him. "That's crossing the line, Lin. I've never insulted the men you've dated, and there were plenty that were less-than-satisfactory."
"There you go again, acting like my big brother rather than my lover." Lin commented.
Tenzin's words caught in his throat. It was certainly true that they'd grown up together and that he had been a brother to her, but the feelings that he had for her now were far from brotherly. "Lin… I only say these things because I love you. I loved you as a brother when we were children, and I love you so much more now that we are adults."
"If you do love me, then respect my wishes when it comes to my body and my life. I don't want children."
"And what about my wishes and my life?" Tenzin asked. "You know that I have a responsibility to my father… to the whole world, to have children. I do want children, Lin, I can't help it."
Lin sighed. "I'm sorry, Tenzin, but you are asking me for the one thing that I cannot do." She leaned forward and kissed him. He eagerly returned the kiss, eager to show her that, although they'd been trapped in this disagreement for weeks, he still loved her.
She pulled away, smiling sadly at him. "I'll see you tomorrow after work, Tenzin."
"I look forward to it, Lin." Tenzin replied. She turned and left. Once she was gone, Tenzin sighed. "Mom, Dad… I know that you're standing there."
Aang and Katara exchanged a glance before they stepped out in the open. "Things are still rough?" Katara asked.
"You can say that." Tenzin sighed. He caught the concerned looks on his parent's faces. "It's fine, honestly. You've told me yourself that every couple has rough spots. This whole thing with Lin will eventually blow over."
"Tenzin…" Katara sighed. "I know that you don't want to hear this, but there is a difference between having a rough spot in a relationship and wanting different things in the future. The later is far harder to overcome."
"I know what the problem is." Tenzin said. "Lin doesn't want to be a single mother, like Aunt Toph." Years ago, just after Tenzin had been born, Aang and Katara were both shocked to learn that Toph was pregnant. She didn't have a boyfriend or any known prospects. She never did reveal the name of Lin's father. Toph had raised Lin alone until Lin was ten years old. It was then that Toph was involved with an accident in a battle against one of the Bending Triads. Toph passed away, leaving Lin orphaned, but not alone. Toph had named Aang and Katara Lin's guardians when she was born, and the couple was more than happy to take Lin in as a second daughter. Aang had become as close to Lin's father as she would ever get, and she loved him dearly, even calling him 'father'. She never called Katara her mother, but she still respected her.
Both Aang and Katara caught the subtle hints in Tenzin's words. "Tenzin, are you going to propose to Lin?" Aang asked.
"I love her, Father. I really think that it's the right thing to do." Tenzin replied.
Both Aang and Katara were torn between being happy for their youngest son, and also concerned that this may not be the right decision. However, they did know one thing: Tenzin was an adult now, and any mistakes that he may or may not make were his own. "Good luck, son." Aang finally said, taking the middle ground between the two options. He did wish Tenzin luck. He just wanted his son to be happy, whoever he ended up marrying. What father would want less?
As Tenzin walked back towards his living quarters, he abruptly ran into one of the Air Acolytes living on the island. It was actually someone that he was very glad to see: one of his greatest friends, Pema.
Pema was a lot younger than him, half his age, but their friendship had bonded quickly over a mutual love for the Air Nomads. She was his advisor and confidant when his parents could not be.
While Tenzin looked at Pema and saw a good friend, that was not the way that Pema saw him. Sure, her feelings for him had started out as being platonic, and she was more than happy to just bond with him over their love for the Air Nomads, to be his friend, and to listen to his hopes, loves, and concerns. But that had all changed when she did end up getting closer to him and realized that she no longer felt platonically for him, but she was fully in love with him.
She never told him, though. She knew that he loved Lin, and if he was happy, then she could be happy too. Most days, seeing his smile was enough.
However, he was not smiling now. She could see a distinct sorrow in his eyes. "Tenzin, is something wrong?" She asked.
"It's nothing, Pema." Tenzin replied. "I'm fine. Just having a rough spot with Lin right now. Nothing that won't end up blowing over."
"It's nothing too serious, I hope?" Pema asked.
"No, it's not. Lin doesn't want to have children with me right now. I think that she wants to get married before we do. I'm… I'm going to propose to her!" Tenzin paused. "Wow… it's kind of scary when you say it out loud."
Pema's heart sank. Of course, the better part of her was happy that Tenzin was going to be happy and in love with Lin, but the other part of her was understandably upset. You'd have to be made of stone in order to not feel at least a little hurt that the man you love is going to marry someone else. Pema quickly hid the feelings and smiled at him. "That's such good news, Tenzin! Good luck!" She said.
"Thanks, Pema. I knew I could count on you." Tenzin said, smiling. He embraced her and, still smiling happily, resumed his walk towards his private quarters.
Pema let a single heart-wrenching sob escape her throat before she quickly stopped. She knew this was coming. It had been coming for a long time. Tenzin had been with Lin for the whole time she knew him, and he was happy with her. Tenzin loved Lin, and she was just a good friend to him.
She buried her feelings.
LES: Chapter 1 done! Will write the next one soon…