AN: Yup, writing fic before I write my reaction post. And, wow, is this ever not betaed. BECAUSE FEELINGS, that's why.
Disclaimer: Not mine. OH GOD, THE FEELINGS.
Spoilers: Right up to the last moment of season one.
Rating: Kid friendly
Characters: Lin Bei Fong, Korra, Tenzin, Katara (but seriously, all hands on deck).
Summary: For a whole week, she cannot feel the earth. It is the longest week of her life.
On The Shoulders of Giants
For a whole week, she cannot feel the earth.
It is the longest week of her life.
She spends the first three days in prison, of course, locked away with her other officers and the council members, swimming in a pool of communal depression and reaching for something that isn't there. There is nothing to do, and even though Lin has combat training outside of metal bending, she's not sure what she could do anyway. On the second, it gets worse. The cell door opens, and when Pema and the baby are thrown in with her, Lin allows herself one moment of full blown despair.
"I'm so sorry," Pema says, whispers hissing against dead air. "When the airship turned away with you aboard, we kept going like you wanted, but they were ready for us. Waiting. Tenzin, the children, they tried, but then the chi-blockers grabbed me and the baby and – "
Lin holds her close, metal to linen, and hopes that neither of them will have a fit of hysterics. Tenzin and the children are not here, which can only mean one thing. That Pema is not sick with worry probably means she's in shock, and Lin can only feel that she has failed again, failed in that one unwritten commandment that has directed her life from the first time Tenzin scraped an elbow. She used to resent that specialness about him, until the first time she bent metal, and now it just eats at her, the only thing that's left of her connection to the spirit realm.
When Tenzin opens the cell door, hours later, he hugs all three of them at the same time and he still smells of air. Pema finally starts to cry and Lin remembers what it is like to be in a family again.
The flight to the South Pole is long and cold. Oogi and the other airbison are overloaded and fly mere hand spans above the ocean spray. Lin cannot look at Korra, though it seems she is the only one who doesn't. Tenzin is reluctant to let any of the children out of arm's reach, and keeps his arms around Pema, even when he looks at Korra's distress. The baby fusses, and when Korra reaches for him, no one stops her.
"We'll learn airbending together." Lin hears the words, so soft they barely over-reach the wind. "Your sisters have already promised to teach us how to fly."
Lin recalls the sword that Sokka placed in her hands when she was twelve. "It's always handy to have a back-up plan," he told her. She worked with Suki too, and can throw a fan as well as she can bend one. She'll be rusty, probably, when she takes them up again, but muscles remember and the forms aren't entirely different. Plus, the sword is metal, and it's a metal she can still use. Her body will remember that. She is not so old that she cannot learn new trick. She may not take to them as quickly as quickly as Korra and the baby, but she will not stop.
Lin Bei Fong was raised to stand her ground.
When Mako and Korra come back, Lin knows immediately that something has changed. She is so, so tired. She is not sure she can handle anything else. But Korra's eyes are shining, and it is not because she is crying.
"Korra?" says Tenzin, but Korra has eyes only for Katara.
"He found you!" Katara says, and there is so much joy in her voice that Lin's heart falters in its beat.
"He did," Korra says, smiling. Her eyes dart to Asami, and Lin sees a flicker of fear in her face, but Asami is smiling. Thank the spirits, because Lin is not up to adolescent hormones. "And I saw the others as well."
"You went into the Avatar state?" says Bolin. He is bouncing back and forth from foot to foot which is, as far as Lin can tell, his natural form. She makes a mental note to work with him later. She can't bend, but she knows what it is supposed to look like. "That is so cool!"
"Korra, this is very good news," Tenzin says. There is an odd sadness in his voice that none of the children will recognize. "What did my father say?"
"He said that when I reach my lowest point, I am open to change," Korra reports. The lesson sounds parroted, but Korra's eyes shine with truth and understanding. "And then I saw the others."
There is a question that no one is asking.
"Korra?" Lin says, because someone has to.
Korra smiles. "Let's go outside. I'm kind of done with property damage for the next little while."
She kneels before Korra of her own free will, no hands on her shoulder or a kick behind her knee. She looks up and does not fear. Katara thinks that Amon's power involved bending the blood in a person's brain, preventing them from reaching the part of their mind that allowed their connection to their element. Tenzin had suggested that once Korra lost her access to Water, Earth and Fire, her mind was finally quiet enough to hear Air. Before, Korra might have taken umbrage at that, but now she is too happy.
The others stand in a circle around the temple of Four Elements. If this works, there will be plenty of Earth for her to find, and metal to follow afterwards. If this works. If this works. She can barely allow herself to think it.
Korra's hands on her forehead, and then her eyes turn silver and Lin sees a host of others behind her. There is Aang, who threw her in the air and caught her when she was young. There is Roku who she does not know. And there is Kyoshi, tall and strong, who used the weapons she was given. Before the vision fades, Kyoshi inclines her head, and Lin knows that it will work.
When Lin Bei Fong stands again on her feet, she holds the whole world in her hands.
Gravity_Not_Included, June 23, 2012