She sat on the edge of her cot, bare feet flat against the silent, cold floor, elbows propped on her knees. Eyes closed, ears straining to hear any small sound, she waited, her entire body tensed, ready to spring into action the moment anyone arrived.
"Pah!" She let out the breath she had been holding, and let her head hang. Who was she kidding? Tenzin and his family were far away now, safe from Amon's grasp. She had made sure of that. Tenzin...she thought back to the pain in his voice when he last called her name and her chest tightened. Angrily blinking back the tears that were fighting to escape, she gripped the bed frame and inhaled deeply, focusing on the cool metal beneath her hands.
Metal. It had worked with her, fought with her for decades, saved her life on countless occasions. Now she could not hear the slightest whisper from it, nor make it even twitch. She was imprisoned in the very cell she had easily broken the bars of to rescue her officers, subject to the cruel psychological torture Amon was expert at. She could see the welds on the bars where they had fixed the damage she had done, a jarring reminder of what she had lost. She closed her eyes.
Her head snapped up, and she could hear sounds of fighting down the hallway.
Her eyes widened when she saw Korra run past her cell, then turn around and come to stand in front of the bars.
"You shouldn't be here! What are you doing?"
"Don't worry, Asami, Bolin, and Mako are covering for me." The young avatar grinned. "We're getting you out of here."
"Korra, you need to leave now! You can't let Amon capture you and take your bending too-"
She felt a watery rope wrap around her waist and pick her up to deposit her face to face with Korra. About to protest, she looked the avatar in the eyes and stopped.
Korra closed her eyes and inhaled deeply. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. Suddenly, Lin had to shield her eyes from the whipping winds that swirled around her, the fierce, stinging winds that were coming from...Korra? Awestruck, she lowered the arm she was shielding her face with and looked into the young avatar's glowing eyes. Then her gaze was drawn upwards, where she found herself staring at a man she had loved and respected like a father.
Everything from the glowing arrow tattoo, to his short-cropped beard, to his friendly, open smile, was just as she remembered, and she stood there dumbstruck as Korra and Aang reached toward her. She felt a thumb on her forehead - right where Amon had touched her - and another over her heart. Looking into the avatar's eyes, she felt something inside, something warm that raced through her whole body. She felt as if something heavy and unmovable that dulled all her senses had been lifted from her, and she heard the earth speaking to her again. She closed her eyes as Aang's tattoos stopped glowing.
"Thank you, Lin" he whispered as he vanished.
She could feel tears leaking from her eyes. She could feel Korra's body heat from across the bars of her prison cell, could sense that the avatar was trembling slightly, worn from her spiritual and metal exhertion. She could feel hundreds of other captives in the filthy Equalist prison, the guards sprawled out on the floor, watched closely by Bolin and Mako, and Asami taking out another group of chi-blockers. She could feel the metal bars as they bent and broke, pulling the surprised Korra into a crushing hug, too overwhelmed to do anything but stand there and let her tears run dry.
"Oww..." Korra winced as Lin's hug squeezed the breath out of her lungs. 'Man, she's strong!' she thought, and smiled, returning the older woman's silent display of gratitude.
Abruptly, Lin let go and drew the back of her hand over her eyes. "Don't you dare tell anyone about this," she growled, eyes still shining with unshed tears.
Korra smiled, twitched her fingers, and the water dripping down Lin's face floated away to disappear into a crack in the floor, leaving the metalbender with only slightly reddened eyes as evidence of what had happened.
"You're not so bad, kid." said Lin, smiling slightly. "Let's take back our city."
"Republic City, here we come!"