A/N: Warning, your feels may explode. Read at your own risk. Also, warning! There are spoilers for episode 10, Turning Tides here!
And lastly, just a note since I only mention it once in here, Lin is 10 in this.
Lin dips down into her horse stance, her feet firmly planted on the dirt beneath her, her arms at her sides while her hands curl up into fists. She focuses her eyes in front of her, sheer determination on her face. Her mother sends the boulder wrapped around her fist shooting toward her. Lin lifts her foot, stamps the ground, and raises her arms in front of her and up above her head. A wall of rock springs up in front of her just in time for the boulder to smack into it and crumble to rubble.
When she sees her mother drop her stance, Lin drops hers too and stands. "How was that, mom?"
"Excellent!" Toph answers, beaming at her daughter with a triumphant smirk. "Your stance was absolutely perfect!"
Lin grins back at her mother proudly. "It was?"
"Better than mine, in fact," her mother adds.
The girl's smile broadens. "Can we go again? I want to keep practicing!" she eagerly asks.
Toph laughs and shakes her head. "Lin, we've been practicing all afternoon. How about we take a break and then get back to practicing?"
Lin's smile falters, but doesn't fade. Instead, she nods and follows her mother inside to get a drink. A few minutes afterward, they go back outside and, even after having a drink and a short break, they end up sprawling out on the ground and lying there for a while doing nothing.
And while they lay there in silence, simply enjoying each other's presence, Lin smiles as she thinks of how much she enjoys these afternoon practice sessions with her mom. She's glad they have the earth to meld them even closer together than they already are. She loves watching her mother earthbend as she hopes to be as great as her one day and being in awe of the power and the control in her mother's movements. She loves practicing with her; learning with her; and, even though it can be frustrating, she finds it fascinating to see things the way her mother does. And it makes her appreciate her mother's skill all the more.
She can't imagine not having this elemental bond with her mother.
But the horrible "what if" floats to her mind anyway, unbidden, and now that it's crawled to the forefront of her mind, Lin knows there's only one way to get the niggling question to go away.
"Mom, what if I wasn't an earthbender?" she asks, looking up from where her head is rest on her mother's shoulder into those cloudy jade eyes.
"What, you mean what if you were some other kind of bender, like a waterbender or a firebender?" Toph asks.
"No. What if I wasn't a bender at all? What would you do, then?" Lin asks hesitantly, somewhat afraid to ask.
She watches her mother's expression shifts from confused to surprised and a tad taken aback. Her lips curl into the slightest of frowns and her eyebrows raise. Lin thinks she even sees a tad bit of shock in those sightless of hers, but it's probably just a trick of the sun.
"I wouldn't love you any less, if that's what you're thinking," she says after a long moment's pause.
"But we wouldn't have these kinds of practice sessions, or the lessons, or the sparring sessions…" Lin says, frowning, too.
"You think we need those in order to maintain a good relationship or to bond? There are tons of other ways," Toph insists, as if the notion that anything could weaken their familial bond was ridiculous.
Still, Lin had unaddressed concerns about this new terrible thought of hers. "But I wouldn't be able to take over the position of Chief of Police. Or become a great earthbender like you always say I will be," she continues.
"As if I wouldn't be any less proud of you." Toph sits up, lifting Lin with her into a sitting position. Then she turns the small ten year old around to face her because she knows that even if she can't see Lin, Lin can see her and she wants to make this all as clear as possible. "You are so much more than your bending, Lin. You're tough as nails, like me; you're intelligent, you're observant, you're considerate—want me to keep going?" Lin shakes her head. She gets the point. "Sure, they say bending does a lot to shape your personality, but the only reason you're good at it is because you're you. If anything ever happened to your bending for any reason, Lin, I'd want you to be the same amazing kid you've always been, you got that?"
Moved by her mother's speech, Lin simply nods as her wide eyes stare up into her mother's sightless ones.
"No matter what, I'll always be so proud of you, Lin. Don't forget that, okay?" Toph says, leaning in and kissing her on the forehead. Lin then wraps her arms around her and holds her mother close.
After sitting there for several moments of warm and comfortable silence, Toph pulls away and grins. "I think I've had enough emotional garbage for one day, how about you?"
Lin chuckles and nods. "I think I've had enough to last me a week."
"Great. Let's get back to chucking those rocks, then."
Sitting in the dark, grimy holding cell that Amon and his Equalists placed her in, her bending gone, Lin looks up and imagines she can see the stars. "You're still proud of me, even now, aren't you mom?" she quietly asks, and she imagines that same proud grin her mother gave her forty years ago gracing her face as she answers, "Why the hell wouldn't I be?"
A/N: Please, please, PLEASE tell me what you guys think of this! I really want some good feedback! Whether you love it or hate it, tell me why and let me know! Don't be shy!