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"I can't believe you socked him in the face, Aunt Toph." Ursa said anxiously.
Toph just kept eating her rice. "Hey, this is all his fault."
"Excuse me!" Sokka stood up, his hand covering his left eye. "You are the one that gave me this black eye!" The councilman pointed at his blackened shiner.
"You know I hate it when you pick me off the ground! Of course I fought back and my fist accidentally hit your face."
Before Sokka can come up with a counter, Katara cleared her throat to silence the married couple. She didn't even turn her head up to glare at them. "Enough. No fighting at the table."
In sync, the couple scowled. "Yes, Mom."
From the other side of the table, the firelord finished what was in his mouth before speaking. "You would think that they would have grown up from these childhood antics."
"If you haven't noticed," Toph started. "My husband and I have quite respectable positions. Sokka is chairman of the council."
"And Toph is the Chief of Police. So Ha!" Sokka taunted. "Plus, we fought in a war."
"A hundred year war."
Katara rolled her eyes. "You know, we were there too."
Next to her mother, Lin leaned over to whisper to Kya, her husband, Ursa and Tenzin on her left. "Here we go with the war stories again."
The rest of the kids just rolled their eyes.
A small voice asked loudly, "Is this the war where grandpa Aang took away the evil great grandpa Ozai's bending?"
Lin, Kya, Tenzin and Ursa all glared at little Iroh. Their faces said, "Thanks a lot."
"Well, Uncle Junior, since you asked…." Toph started to say.
Katara eyed the grown children who were slumping with distaste. "I think they've heard that story enough times, don't you think Toph?"
The children lit up with glee. However, the waterbender wasn't finished. "How about a story they haven't heard before."
"And what story would that be?" Sokka stuffed his mouth with food.
"How about the about how Sokka and I broke your father out of prison?" Zuko suggested.
Ursa groaned. "I've heard the story a million times, dad."
"Painted lady?" Katara asked.
Kya waved her hand in the air. "Been there, done that."
Sokka gulped down his food. "How about when I made space sword!" The councilman unsheathed his sword.
"Put that away! No weapons at the table." the master waterbender scolded her brother. A whimper escaped Sokka's lips.
"Well then, I guess there is no story tonight." Tenzin concluded.
Small Iroh pouted. "I want a story!"
"Sorry, short stuff." Lin whispered the last part. "We barely escaped this one."
Toph raised an eyebrow. She had easily heard her daughter and decided it was time for torture. A smirk grew upon her lips. The aged earthbender cleared her throat.
"How about the story of Lin's airbending training."
The younger Beifong's eyes widened.
"Airbending training?" Tenzin raised an eyebrow at his love. "When did you ever do this?"
Lin didn't answer but instead whipped her head around so that she could glare at her mother. "You wouldn't."
Toph just smiled. "Oh, but I would."
"You better not."
"Nothing is stopping me."
Lin's mind searched quickly to come back with. Unfortunately, her brain was working rather slow today.
"Anyways, When Lin was about thirteen or fourteen, she had asked Aang to train her in airbending. Could she airbend, no. But she still asked, for a reason that I will reveal later. That day, I had a day off, so me and squirt decided to go to the island since she just had to see Tenzin."
Lin interjected rudely, "I did not say that. I said, I needed to give something to him."
"Yeah, your heart."
Tenzin had never seen Lin blush so hard. From under the table, he grabbed Lin's hand to comfort her. Her pulse was racing.
"At the time, Tenzin, Kya and Bumi were off schooling. Lin had just transferred to the metalbending academy and her school year didn't start in a month. Back to the story, we got to the island and Aang told us the kids weren't available. Just as we were about to leave, Lin suddenly asked Aang to teach her how to use the air gates. Both Twinkle Toes and I were surprised. Nonetheless, Aang gave her air nomad training outfit and the two got to work. I watched from under a tree."
"I wish I could have seen you in an air nomad training uniform." Tenzin smiled. Lin just returned a glare. Her face remained red.
"The first time she entered the gates, she got smacked right in the face and earned a shiner like Snoozles over here. Lasted an entire week before the swelling stopped."
Lin hid her head in her hands. She was blushing like mad now. Her ears picked up on the small giggles that erupted around the table. The loudest coming from little Iroh next to his mother.
"Aunt Lin, you're funny!" The boy chuckled through his compliment.
She looked up to the boy. Lin couldn't help but smile at the cuteness. "Sure kid."
"What was the point in all this?" Sokka asked, tears still coming out of his eyes.
Toph sat up straight. "Her shiner was just to show Tenzin that she understood too."
"Awwwwh!" Everyone around the table chorused.
"Oh shut up!" Lin yelled towards everyone.
Tenzin kissed her cheek. "That was sweet of you. Thank you."
"Weird. Uncle Aang said the same thing." She responded.
Toph just laughed. "Really? Cause I thought it was hilarious."
Then something clicked in Lin's head. The perfect counter attack. Her mother wouldn't know what hit her.
"Not as hilarious as what happened to you and Uncle Zuko during the formality ceremony years ago." She smirked.
The two mentioned adults cringed. In surprise, Toph threw the fork she was holding into the air and it stuck to the ceiling. Zuko, on the other hand, spit his tea out, tainting the rest of the food on the table. Everyone else just leaned in. This must be good.
"Lin, I specifically confided this in you. Your mother says no!"
"You told her?!" Zuko exclaimed.
Katara crossed her arms. "What happened?"
"Well, to put it as bluntly as possible…"
"Lin, do not dare!"
Zuko stood up. "Please, Lin, don't!"
Lin took a long pause before continuing. "They kissed."
Everyone's eyes widened, not as big as Sokka's. The warrior dove to the other side of the table and tackled the firelord.
The rest of the night was filled with laughs, memories and multiple stories about their past. Many of those stories including their favorite avatar and best friend. They seemed like a real family now, the one thing that Aang wanted. If he were watching, he would be smiling.
Lin sat outside, under a small shaded area to avoid being snowed on. She sat cross legged, a brown blanket wrapped around her to shield her from winter's best. Calmly, she breathed in the fresh air. Lin always liked it on the island. There was always this feeling of peace, no matter if she was sad, mad or depressed. When she stepped foot on the island, she knew that her happiness was here. Within Kya, Bumi, Tenzin, Katara, her mother, father, Zuko and his family (at times) and most importantly, Aang. When she would get in trouble, Aang always helped her learn from her mistakes without any scolding. When she would get hurt, Katara would heal her wounds with her soothing healing waters. When she was lonely, she had two other siblings and a best friend to play with. The first time she earthbended, she shifted the very island and her mother was so proud. While hiding behind the airgates, her mother and father were finally, officially getting married. In fact, Lin was born on this very island.
She breathed in again. The air was refreshing, comforting actually. Every breath, she felt his presence. He was the wind, still watching over them.
"You know, Uncle Aang, I hope I'm not the only one that knows that's you." she said into the air.
The wind blew her hair up in a jumbled mess. Lin quickly fixed it once more. "Very funny, Twinkle Toes."
The wind died down suddenly. "Ok. Sorry, Uncle Aang."
Circling around her, the gusts embraced her, just like he had done before.
"You know, people would think you're crazy if they saw you talking to yourself."
Lin didn't turn around. "Tenzin, you know who I'm talking to."
The master airbender came over to sit close to her. He allowed himself into the blanket. "I know. How is he doing?"
"I don't know. Ask him yourself."
"Alright." Tenzin cleared his throat. "How are you doing, father?"
The wind blew through his robes and almost threw the blanket right off if Lin hadn't been holding onto it.
"Seems like he is doing quite alright." the airbender smiled.
Lin allowed her head to rest upon his shoulder. "Seems so."
"You know, I'm so glad you are in my life."
Lin chuckled. "Well that was really random."
"I'm sure everyone is glad to have you in their life right now. I heard what you did. And what father asked of you." Tenzin kissed the top of her head.
Lin cringed at being caught. "You have?"
"Said you helped him realize he isn't a disappointment."
"Says he doesn't feel alone anymore."
"Is on board to give life to a new niece or nephew of mine."
"Is staying a few more years here in the city and then moving back to the southern tribe to teach the new avatar waterbending."
Lin looked at him. "How does she know the next avatar is going to be from the southern water tribe?"
"Trust me. She knows."
Lin put her head back on Tenzin's shoulder. "My father?"
"Is so proud of you."
"What about you?"
Tenzin faced her and held her trained hands in his. They were rough and reliable, just the way he liked her. He looked up to see her face gleaming pale with two bright emeralds staring back at him. She was gorgeous. Lin Beifong was all his.
"You," he started. "have done the most wonderful thing for me. I am not alone, I don't feel alone and I won't be alone because you are here. You are my best friend. You are my lover. You are my other half. Whether we are boyfriend and girlfriend, married, not talking to each other at all, you will always be there for me and I will always be there for you. Even if you hate my guts and want to rid your life of me. No matter what, I will refuse and always be here."
Lin stared at him with an intensity she hadn't before. If it had been anyone else, she would have teased such a speech for being so sappy and emotional. But this was Tenzin. He meant all those things. "Tenzin…"
"Do you think this is our destiny?"
He touched her forehead with his. "Specifically what would that be?"
"To have our lives intertwined. You think it was made to be that way?" Lin put full purpose in her voice.
"Yeah, it was."
Once again, the wind blew around them and both Lin and Tenzin closed their eyes. He approved.
"You know, this is sweet in all, but I think you forgot one person."
Tenzin and Lin jumped at the chief of police's voice. Lin scowled intensely.
Toph remained leaning against the door frame. "Hey, just trying to even the score after you confessed that story to the entire table. Including your father and Mai. I swear, she had her daggers ready."
"Great. You got your revenge. Can you leave now?" Lin asked rather rudely.
Toph stepped outside. "Sorry, but I have to have a word with you. Wanna split, Ten Ten?"
"Ten Ten" scowled at her aunt. The airbender kissed Lin on the cheek, got up and walked into the house where a chorus of laughter erupted. Toph took Tenzin's place and sat on the floor with her daughter.
"Why do you like the snow, Lin?"
The younger Beifong looked towards the powder coming down on the city. "It's so pure. Cleansing almost. It snows at the start of a new year, a year of new possibilities."
"That's it?" the blind earthbender asked.
"I guess you could say that I can try to make it better than the last."
Toph stayed silent. She thought to herself about her daughter's words. Lin waited for her to speak once more.
"This last year has been rough for us, huh, badgermole?"
"Yeah it has. Uncle Aang was sick half the year."
Her mother sighed. "Well, it was time for him to go. That Twinkle Toes. Always running away."
"It wasn't running away. It was leaving when he wasn't needed. All of us can hold up on our own, so can the world. It was time to put his responsibilities to the next generation."
"It's a good thing you believe that, Lin."
Lin turned her head to look at her mother. She "stared" towards the snow. "Why is that?"
"Like you said. The responsibilities of today need to be put into the next generation. Your generation."
"I don't understand."
Toph raised an eyebrow. "I thought you were smart? I'm making you Chief silly."
Her breathing stopped for a minute. She must have misheard her mother's words. Toph couldn't possibly be giving up her position. If anything, she would only go down with a fight, she had realized sadly. This was absurd.
"Very funny, mother." She chuckled. "Made me laugh."
"Do you see me laughing?"
That would be a negative. Toph's face stayed as hard as the stone below her. Growing up, Lin had figured out when Toph was being serious and when she was playing around. Right now, her mother was being dead serious.
"You? The person who lives to fight each day, is giving up your position that allows you to do so every single day of your life? I don't believe it."
"I love to fight, yes. But that wasn't what my job was all about. That's not was I cared about. It was just a bonus."
"And what was?"
Toph turned her head to lock eyes with her. Blind, yet matched their eyes perfectly. Lin was used to it. "It was about protection."
"Everything, Lin. When I was first starting, I just loved to boss people around and fight. But then everything changed when you came into the picture."
Lin crossed her arms. "Well, I must have been such a burden. Sorry for ruining your fun."
"Lin. You have never and will never be a burden to me."
"But you just said-"
"You didn't let me finish. Once you came into the picture, I was scared. My job wasn't about just protecting the people of the city. Now, it was to make sure it was a safe place for you to grow up in. I could never lose you."
Lin let her head rest on her left hand. "But I wasn't even planned. I just came about. That surely bothered you, right?"
"Bothered isn't the right word."
"Then what is?"
Toph sighed. "True, you weren't planned. But you were a miracle. I needed you in my life, Lin."
"Mother, I strained your career. Instead of coming home to food and a place to sleep, instead, you had a screaming little girl to take care of. So don't even try to sugar coat it." Lin turned away and hugged her knees.
"Is that what you want to hear from me? To say you just wasted a fifth of my life? Well, I hate to rain on your parade, but I'm not going to say something that isn't true."
Lin raised her voice. "Then what is true, mother?"
"It is true that you were not a waste of my time. It's true that you make my life worth living each day. It's true that I would never switch my life for anything in this world. It's true that I can't possibly be more proud of you that I am at this moment. And it's true that I love you so much." Toph's face stayed unchanged and sincere.
Lin's hand had been flat on the ground. She had listened to every vibration her mother had spoken. "You weren't lying."
"Of course not, badgermole. My career may have been what titled me in this city, but it was all for you. I needed this city to be safe for my one and only child. I lost part of my family already. I wasn't going to let it happen again."
While her mother had been talking, Lin had turned around to face her once more. She had never met her grandparents. She had never met her real father. But she didn't need them. And neither did her mother. Toph had someone to fight for. To fight for everyday as Chief. Question was: what about her?
"You had your daughter to fight for. Then who am I fighting for?"
"Correct me if I'm wrong, but weren't you just with Tenzin right now?" Toph took her turn to cross her arms. "Plus, I heard about what Aang had you do these past couple weeks."
Lin looked to the side. "Where did you hear that?"
"Daddy has quite the yapper."
Lin scowled. "Of course he did. Jerk."
Her mother scooted closer towards her. They sat facing each other exactly. "He's so proud of you. And so am I. Even I admit I couldn't be able to do something like that, as you can obviously see. I was a mess. But you. You stayed so strong and you helped all of us. Our family. Get through it. Do you hear them laughing in there? That's all because of you."
"Thanks for the praise, but now what do I do? You are all happy, back to your normal selves. What is there for me now?"
"We still need you, Lin. And there is also a city out there in need of new leaders. With Aang's passing comes a wind of change. You need to lead this city, like you led us towards the right path. Fight for the city. Fight for all of those people inside the house right now."
Chief Lin Beifong. It seemed fitting. Her mother made it feel like it was her time. It was her turn to take the city into her hands. Maybe there does need to be a change. And what better time than now? Lin sat up straight, breathing in deeply.
"When do I start?"
Toph smiled widely and her fist traveled from her side to her daughters shoulder. She heard her give a slight grunt, but she didn't need eyes to see the smile on Lin's face.
"Eager aren't we?"
Lin let out the breath she was holding in. "More like nervous."
"Hey, don't worry about it. If it makes you feel any better, Snoozles is stepping down as chairman and letting Tenzin take the position. You aren't the only new leader around here."
"Thank the spirits."
"Don't give me that. You know the Chief of Police doesn't need the chairman of the council to tell her how to do her job. I would know. I did a lot of stuff that your father doesn't know about."
Lin chuckled. "Of course you did, mom."
Toph stood up. "That goes for all of you kids. You don't need us parents telling you what to do." Her face became serious. "But if you guys jack it up, you know it won't be pretty."
Lin watched her mother walk towards the door. Before she could leave entirely, she said, "Hey, mom?"
"What is it?"
"Thanks." The new chief of police let her head hang. She looked at her hands with a smile on her face.
Toph just stood still, facing Lin. "For what?"
Lin looked forward into the familiar blind eyes. "For everything. Love you."
Toph walked over to Lin and kissed her forehead, something Lin always liked.
"Love you too."
"One more thing."
"Did you mean what you said?"
"What did I say?"
"That you needed me in your life. That I made your life worth living."
This time, Toph smiled. "With you, I exprienced something special. Something I wouldn't change for anything. A new kind of life."
With one more kiss on the head, Toph walked inside the house. Lin was left outside, the snow falling down and her city behind her. Her mother had left her smiling wider than she had ever. It wasn't a smile that she wouldn't care for later in life. This was a genuine smile. The young chief turned back towards the city and winter wonderland. Everything looked beautiful. Like it always does on the island.
"Hey, Toph, are you crying?"
"That's it, you are getting a matching black eye. Come here!"
Lin chuckled as she used a finger to twirl a black bracelet in her left hand.
And I think that's where I'm going to end it. That's right folks, this is the end of the line! I think I've prolonged this story long enough. There was only one step that I could have taken further with this story, but even I don't have the heart to do it.
By the way, if I get enough requests, I'll write a side story about what Toph and Zuko had done (the thing Lin had talked about)
Anyways, I wanted to thank you guys for all the support on this story. Every review, favorite and follow I got brought a smile to my face every day. I love this story and I hope you guys do to. If it weren't for you guys, I wouldn't have written such a beautiful piece. So thanks!
Please review and I love you guys!
This isn't the last you've seen of me! I've got something up my sleeve! *wink*