AN: Ahahah, so yeah, my hand slipped and I Tenzlined...whoops! Oh well, deal with it, you'll love it I promise! :D I always thought that these two did make some special vibrations that Toph would see and die, and there's always a kind of "result"" that comes from that kind of bending, but then there was the falling out and this is my reason why.
Please be gentle with my head cannon, it's my baby.
For what seemed like ages Tenzin had maintained his anxious pace outside the door of one of the numerous bedrooms on Airtemple Island, a hand in his beard as he tried to shut out the cries of pain sounding from the opposite side of the door.
Pema had been in labor for hours, and like Katara had reassured her son when she arrived earlier that night, it was only natural for the first child to take a while to get through. Tenzin couldn't eat, drink, or sit since the first time he heard his small wife cry out in pain. His feet ached and whined as he made yet another lap up and down the hall, but he didn't stop; this was nothing compared to the pain Pema was in, so he would bare through it. His head ached from the dust in the hall, his sinuses clogged and his tired eyes longed for a breath of fresh air. No, Tenzin remained in the hall and tugged on his beard every time Pema cried out.
In a break of his calculated pattern, Tenzin lifted his hands to his face and slowly pulled them down over the new wrinkles around his mouth and eyes. A heavy sigh, far too heavy for his age, fell from his lips as he turned once more and headed down the hall away from the door. He was tempted to knock and poke his head in, but again, as his mother had warned him, it was a moment for the women.
Again, another sigh as he turned back towards the door, his eyes closed. Due to this fact, it was no surprise when Tenzin almost ran into his mother as she walked out of the room with a serene smile on her face.
"Mother! Is it done?" he grabbed his mother's shoulders and looked directly in her aging blue eyes, a worried sweat on his brow as he interrogated her. "Is Pema alright?"
In a gentle kind of sway, Katara got out from under her son's hands and cupped his face as the sound of an infant's cries sounded through the open door. Tenzin's face melted as he turned his head inside the room.
"You have a healthy baby girl, Tenzin," she started as she looked back into the room along with her youngest son. "Go be with them, I have to make some calls."
Katara walked down the hall as her son parted with her and hurried into the room with his wife and new child. The remaining nurse had just finished cleaning up and was letting herself out as Tenzin approached Pema's bedside, jaw slack as he looked down at the little pink body on Pema's chest.
Nervously, not knowing what exactly to say (which was such an uncommon trait in the naturally reserved nomad), Tenzin rubbed the back of his bald head before he sat on the edge of the bed and met Pema's eyes. "How are you?"
Pema smiled sweetly, albeit tiredly, and ushered for her husband to come closer. And without the cue of words, Tenzin obeyed and made himself comfortable next to his wife's small frame.
"She's very small," he whispered as his blue eyes fell on his daughter and his hand came to find her back. At first he was tense in touching her, but as the warmth from her skin oozed into his hand, the air nomad relaxed as he gently rubbed up and down the length of his newborn's back. "But she's very beautiful."
He met eyes with Pema once more, and a controlled pheromone frenzy took over the two as they met each other's lips and shared a breath.
In a mess of sheets and covers lay the sleeping form of a lean woman lost in the lull of sleep, her limbs sprawled around her and hanging off the bed she shared with no one. Her breath was heavy and even as the sun slowly started to peak through her curtains and paint her body in stripes of white light.
Toph had always complained about her daughter being such a 'vivid' sleeper, making a hassle of herself in the womb with feet and fists where they weren't supposed to be, and thirty-four years later she still held that title strong. And Toph still complained.
Lin tucked her feet back in towards her body, her subconscious beginning to notice the cold of the February morning. It was seconds before the phone rung that Lin knew and she opened her vivid emerald eyes to greet the news. With a heavy sigh (something she'd picked up from being around Tenzin too much) she sat up and rubbed the back of her neck as the phone struck its first ring from the kitchen. Knowing the person on the other end was more than patient, the police chief took her time stretching and walking into her simple kitchen. She didn't immediately reach for the phone, knowing exactly what she was going to hear on the other end and she needed the smell of coffee to keep her from breaking something.
It had been almost six rings before the Bei Fong finally raised a slim, calloused hand and bent the metal in the receiver to her will, the piece gently gliding through the air until it landed softly in her palm.
"Hello Katara," she answered softly as the water in her coffee pot began to hum in warmth. "I know…oh that's wonderful. How is Pema doing…?" Absently, Lin glided across the floor on silent feet as she reached for an aging box of doughnuts, nimble fingers looping through the hole of one and lifting it to her mouth.
With a bite of the pastry in her mouth, Lin went on with the conversation but much to Katara's distaste.
"Yes I'm eating a doughnut… yes I know they're not a good way to start the day…Katara…yes ma'am." Lin pulled the receiver away from her mouth so the older woman couldn't hear the frustrated sigh she let out as she trashed the doughnut at Katara's maternal bicker. "I'll be there in a while then."
And then she hung up.
It was no surprise Pema had the baby, the poor woman looked close to popping at any moment, but Lin still couldn't swallow away the surprise in her throat.
Tenzin was a father. A father to a baby girl.
"I still can't believe it, Lin."
Tenzin was lying on his side next to Lin as she quietly read by the dim light of her bedside lamp, a happy little smile on her lips. Without meeting his eyes, Lin spoke.
"At least you didn't almost kill me in a hug like Mother did, and I appreciate that."
"I can't believe my mother cried."
"Really? You can't believe your mother cried? C'mon, Tenzin, that woman is a master tearbender. Pin your hair up the right way and there she goes."
"You did look very pretty with that hair-do, though."
"Not the point," Lin smiled as she closed her book and turned off the light, rolling over to meet Tenzin's face. He was growing his beard out, longer than what his father had, and it was beginning to grow to the point he had to be careful of eating because food would get stuck in it. Lin didn't mind it so much when it was shorter, she adored rubbing her cheek against the rough stubble when they were intimate, and it prickled her skin and made her shoulders tense in indescribable joy. But as it gained length, it became more of a nuisance, as it tended to stab her in the eye when they slept or scare her when he snuck behind her to kiss her neck.
"What is the point, my love?"
"I don't know, never mind it," Lin said softly as she pulled up the sheets and nestled into Tenzin's warm chest. "I'm tired." She closed her eyes.
Lin sighed. She knew that okay and it usually meant the opposite. She opened her eyes and pulled his beard out of the way so she could meet his dull blue orbs.
"I don't know, I'm excited, Lin! We're having a baby," being the affectionate man he was, Tenzin wrapped his arms around Lin and brought her closer.
"In a while, we're having a baby in a long while Tenzin, so contain yourself until the morning. I am exhausted."
"Mother says that's normal at this stage-,"
"Did she also say the man gets over excited at the prospect of his woman puking hers innards up at every time of the day?"
Tenzin laughed warmly at the memory of the previous day when the two had been walking down the street and Lin experienced a rolling wave of nausea, resorting to bending a crater in the road to deposit her lunch. He forgot to hold in his laugh.
"It just made me realize how real this is, a baby…"
"Yes, a baby, now sleep."
Lin went to sleep once more, hoping she wouldn't hear another okay as she breathed deeply and turned her head into the pillow. A few seconds of peace went by and Lin thanked the spirits he had finally contained his enthusiasm, but too soon.
"What should we name it?" Lin groaned and buried her head in her pillow as Tenzin stared happily at the ceiling. "If it's a boy I like-!"
"Fire, Wang Fire. And if it turns out to be twins, his sister will be Sapphire Fire."
"Wh-what no! You can't name a child Wang Fire, my uncle is insane."
"That's what I'm going to do if you don't let me sleep!"
"You're right, I'm sorry, I'm sorry," he said softly as he rolled onto his back and folded his hands on his stomach. "Goodnight then."
Lin counted in her head the seconds before she knew he would open his mouth again. She only got to four.
"What do you like?"
"For a name? Boy or girl?"
Defeated, Lin rolled onto her back and gave his question thought in the hopes that maybe an honest answer would get him to shut up. Now that she actually put the thought in her mind, Lin had absolutely no idea what she liked as a name. It had never come across her how difficult it was to name a child, how much it would impact them for the rest of their lives. She thought of the story her mother told her about her name, imagining her stubborn mother sitting in a chair, frustrated at the fact she couldn't go run around fighting crime because of the baby in her stomach, but whimsically calling out names that sounded nice.
"My mother said I picked my name, weird as it is." Lin rolled her head so her eyes met Tenzin's. "She said she would sit out in the sun and call out names that she thought were pretty. And I just happened to kick when she said Lin, and that was that."
Tenzin hummed thoughtfully. "That's a good idea, is that what you want to do?"
"I don't think you have the patience for that."
"You're probably right."
For the first time since she found out about her pregnancy, Lin put a delicate hand on her still flat abdomen, something she had kept herself from doing because it was too cliché and lovey for the earth bender's taste.
Suddenly, as if she had heard a whisper in her ear, Lin smiled warmly.
"I love the name Jinora."
The coffee pot now seethed hotly as bubbles rose and the water turned brown, and the aroma of ground beans and earthy tones wafted into Lin's nostrils. She was standing in her kitchen, lost in her memories without even the slightest concern that she was crying. Like a machine, Lin made herself a cup of coffee through her tears. She always made enough for exactly one cup after learning how not to make a pot for two after doing so for such a long time. She used to indulge herself with fancy creams and sugar in the brew, morphing it into a soft silk color. It was a habit she picked up from Tenzin, who didn't fuss over much but pampered himself with an extravagant cup of coffee.
But now, alone and bitter like the coffee she sipped, Lin kept it black and simple because anything else was just a waste of time, she had work to do.
Not today though. She had reserved herself a day off for just such an occasion: to allow her to put on a brave face and smile warmly at the thought of a new baby and then wallow in self pity and crushing jealousy for the rest of the night, cry her eyes out and sob without interruption.
Lin decided not to finish her coffee, but instead dress herself in casual attire (her uniform would create too much of a stiff air about her) and walk out the door, a certain type of flower in mind as she made her way to Air Temple Island and Tenzin's new baby.
Tenzin had settled in the kitchen with his mother and Toph, who was already on the ferry by the time Pema had started pushing. Katara was cooking breakfast (knowing Lin was coming on an empty stomach, much to her suggestion that she would make a better meal than a doughnut) while laughing lightly with Toph.
"I'm surprised you were able to put that little thing down, baldy." Toph cracked a grin in Tenzin's general direction as she took a sip of Katara's tea. It took a moment for Tenzin to answer, the man still lost in the thought of his new daughter.
"Pema made me leave because she and the baby needed to sleep."
Katara smiled lovingly as she set a plate of food before her son. "Your father was the same way with all of you, it's a good thing."
Toph ran a hand through her unmade hair, streaks of gray catching the light of the warm sun coming in through the large windows behind her.
"Lin was such a clingy baby, believe it or not. Crying just to get me to hold her and refusing to sleep anywhere but on me. It was cute at first, but you know kids get heavy and you can't breath with a two year-old on your chest."
"You loved it, Toph, you keep leaving that part out when you tell that story."
"Hush it sweetness, I'm hungry."
Katara fixed her friend a plate and began making another one, catching her son's attention.
"Who are you making another plate for, mother?"
"Oh I forgot to tell you, I called Lin. She's coming." Tenzin nervously tugged at his beard, and after all the tugging he had been doing for the past night and morning he almost tore it off. "She was eating one of those disgusting pastries you got her hooked on, and I told her to throw it out and I'd make her a better breakfast." Katara pointed her spoon at Toph, sending her a glare for her devious devotion to the doughnuts and fattening morning sweets.
"Why did you call Lin? She doesn't want-,"
"She asked me to call her when the baby was born, Tenzin, so don't worry."
"But I don't know how she'll react!"
"I promise I'll hold her back if she goes to eat the kid, baldy." Toph snarked as she shoved a spoonful of rice in her mouth, completely uncaring for the worry caking itself on Tenzin's face.
"That's not what I mean Toph, I mean I was planning on asking her about a name."
"Well now's you chance kiddo, she's here." Toph said as she planted a foot on the ground and saw her daughter come to the door. "And she's completely calm."
Katara walked over to the door and opened it before Lin had a chance to knock.
"My mother is here, isn't she?" Katara smiled knowingly and let Lin in, accepting her bouquet of Lily's and insisting on taking her coat and leading her to the kitchen.
"She saw you coming a mile away, love."
The aging water bender sat Lin at the table without any concern about her son's anxious shifting in his own chair as he focused on his plate.
"Here, this is much better for you than one of those things you shovel down every morning," the steaming plate of food was set before Lin and she couldn't help but feel her stomach ache to consume it.
"I actually didn't plan on staying too long, Katara."
"No buts Lin, your mother may be able to see you from the ground but I can see the hunger on your face."
"Eat it or I'll eat it for you," Toph grunted as she handed her daughter a fork before kissing her cheek.
Lin accepted the fork and looked down a little miserably at her plate. It looked so much better than her chocolate doughnut did just barely an hour ago, but she felt so out of place in what was now Tenzin's home that she couldn't even eat a grain of rice.
"Uhm, Lin…" Tenzin started hesitantly as he met eyes with Lin, who looked more than thankful for the interruption. "May I have a word with you outside?"
"Of course." Lin excused herself and walked out to the patio with Tenzin, unaware of her mother's foot on the ground.
Tenzin took her out near the stables, far from the main house where the grunts of the sky bison would construe their voices from Toph's sharp ears.
"I guess a congratulations is in order," Lin said as she and Tenzin finally came to a steady stop under the pavilion of the stables. It was a serene place, with lush green trees and plenty of hay for the enormous flying bison, where a clear blue sky shone down on the intricately paved tile under their feet.
"Doing well, resting as we speak."
This was what was left of their communication skill between each other and it was disappointing to both that it had deteriorated to chopped but polite small talk. Lin resorted to it for safety: not wanting her words to betray what she really wanted to express and upset the fragile Pema who always managed to cling to Tenzin every time Lin was near. Tenzin did it because he had associated Lin in his necessity circle; speaking to her like the councilman he was, with an air of democracy and bigoted patience.
He had been using that tone with her ever since she lost their baby.
That was the first thing he said to her when he found her sobbing on the bathroom floor, a pair of bloody panties in the trash and his fiancée sobbing uncontrollably while slung over the toilet.
It pricked her skin like a sharp knife, like when her mother disciplined her for not minding her manners. He was acting as if she had let him down, like she had disappointed him.
She felt an uncontrollable surge of anger rise in her like the bile she had become accustomed to over the past four months. It was a kind of anger you feel when you're betrayed, like when someone questions your devotions and values, when someone kicks you when you're down.
"Get out." Lin whispered into the toilet bowl, tears streaming down her face as she watched the water ripple every time one fell in. She felt the vibration of Tenzin shuffling in and she could hear how even his breath was.
He was barely phased.
"Do you want me to call a doctor?"
"I want you to get out! I want you to leave me alone!" she screamed as she raised her head and barked at the man. "Get out Tenzin! Get out! Get out!" In her rage, she bent the ground beneath them into jagged spikes and made him jump effortlessly out of the bathroom.
And he left without another word or a tear, but a simple solemn face as he left Lin to herself.
It wasn't like her at all to allow something, no someone, to invade herself the way that baby had. It wasn't allowed to turn her into such a pathetic piece of trash slung over the toilet in misery, screaming aimlessly into the water for things she was horrified were out of her control. Just like the man she loved, the baby she loved for no apparent reason, a love she couldn't rationalize which drove her mad, was gone. Her little Jinora was gone.
It was only mere minutes before the jagged bathroom floor was returned to its original flat form. Lin didn't try to stop her mother from bending the place back together, and she didn't yell and scream at her for letting Tenzin tell her about it, or when Toph fell to the floor by her side, taking her off the toilet and into her arms, rocking her as she let her daughter sob in her neck.
For a man who didn't appear to care, he still had the decency to call someone who did. And that's the only thing that kept Lin from finding him and scalping that annoying blue arrow off his head.
"I originally wanted to talk to you about something separate, but I wasn't aware that you asked my mother to notify you when the baby came."
"Is that a problem?" Lin asked bitterly as she crossed her arms over her chest. She was thankful Katara had kept her promise and not telling Tenzin about their arrangement, but now it felt almost childish standing next to him and knowing she had deceived him about something so petty. In all honesty, Lin was curious to see if Tenzin could make pretty babies, given that he wasn't quite the looker when he was one.
"Not at all, it just surprised me that you would want to see…" he trailed off and began fussing with his robes. "Anyway, I wanted to ask you about something you might not like to revisit, seeing as how it is a bit of a rough spot in your – our history."
"Spit it out already, dammit."
Lin didn't want this to drag on for too long, her stomach was threatening to sing the song of its people soon.
"Alright then, fine. A few months ago, Pema and I were mulling over names and we couldn't decide on anything, and then I accidentally brought up Jinora."
Lin froze. Her heart skipped a beat and she almost choked on the breath in her throat. He wouldn't dare, she thought angrily, he wouldn't dare do that to her.
"And she loved it, Lin. She wants to name the baby Jinora."
Tenzin stared at her through the heavy silence between them, feeling the tension well inside him just as Lin did. She stared at him, but it was a fierce glare, the kind that peels paint and bravely Tenzin stood his ground. He needed to do this, and Lin realized it as much as he did, but every bitter bone in her body told her no.
"I wanted to ask your permission, since it was originally…" he swallowed hard and looked away, most definitely mulling over his next words. "Since you were so fond of it."
"Fond of it. Yes Tenzin, I was fond of it, I still am. That was her name-."
"There's always going to be someone out there with the same name, Lin, it's ridiculous to hold claim to it like you do."
"Claim it?" Lin answered in exasperation, her heart throbbing in her chest. Her face was feeling hot, like it did every time she argued with Tenzin, but only Tenzin. Her stomach began to cramp and ache like it did that night in some cruel way of reminding her of what was no longer hers to hold and love. He brought out the beast in her.
"I did not claim it, it's a name, no one owns a name-!"
"Exactly, so what is the problem?"
The sting of Lin's hand as it swiped across his face came as little surprise to Tenzin as he felt his entire body jerk in the same direction.
"She was mine, Tenzin! Jinora was my baby and you never cared that she was gone!"
As he recovered from it, his eyes fell back on hers and he watched as her entire body trembled with fury and pain. Her eyes were turning red and he knew she wouldn't dare let a single tear fall in front of him. She took a few deep breaths, closed her eyes, and planted her feet firmly on the ground, something she learned from her mother to help control her temper.
"She was mine, and I loved her so much Tenzin, I loved her so much." the rough earth bender put one hand over her heart and the other on her stomach, closing her eyes as she lowered her head in sadness. "But you acted as if I had failed you in your quest to repopulate the Air benders, that one hiccup was destined to be the downfall of us. You just left me there on the floor in pieces."
Tenzin looked away in shame as he balled his hands into fists and listened to Lin take in shattered breaths.
"I don't have an answer for you right now."
Lin left Tenzin to his bison and walked back into the house, forcing herself to suck the tears back in because her mother would smell them on her and she was not in the mood for that conversation. She went inside, noticing her mother pick her foot up off the ground and holding in that sour laugh she knew would only make her mother feel hurt. She ignored Katara's hushed words of comfort, because she was obviously not blind and could see the red in her face. Lin reached for the flowers she had brought and turned down the hall Tenzin had paced a rut in all that night and faced the partially closed door.
She knocked softly and waited for the singsong hum that was Pema's voice to answer back. When she did, Lin gripped the sliding door and pushed it open as quietly as she could and entered with a gentle look on her face, closing the door behind her. Pema wasn't on her list of people worthy of a smile; it would take the younger woman a very long time to make it on that very short list.
Pema was sitting up in bed with a bundle of blankets in her lap, looking down fondly at it. No doubt, Lin thought as she took a few steps in, that the baby was looking back up at her.
"Good morning, Lin."
She held in the scoff. Lin couldn't stand how nice this woman was, even towards her who had arrested her for absolutely no reason but spite. Lin nodded and offered up the flowers, where she then placed them on the broad nightstand and stood awkwardly at the bedside. Pema tore her eyes away from her new baby and met Lin's dazzling green, a sickening happiness in them.
"Thank you for stopping by, I appreciate the break from Tenzin constantly poking his head in."
"He can be bothersome at times, but he means well," Lin placated as she inconspicuously tried stealing a glance at the baby in Pema's lap. It was too well hidden by the fluffy blanket keeping the baby girl warm from the cold in the air.
"Please sit down, you look so stiff standing there like that," Pema smiled and patted the bed. Lin cautiously took the invitation and decided to sit as close to the edge as she could, thankfully Pema was centered in the middle of the king sized bed with plenty of room on both sides to mask the obviousness of Lin's closeness issue. From where she sat, she got a better view of the newborn. The girl had warm ivory skin and the finest brown hair on her head. Her dark eyelashes contrasted beautifully with her light skin and Lin didn't notice the sharp breath she took when she saw the girl.
Noticing the strong woman melt, Pema smiled softly and picked up her daughter, cradling her. "Do you want to hold her, Lin?"
Lin raised her hand before she spoke, trying to ward off the hormones coming from both Pema and startlingly herself.
"Oh no, she's your baby Pema. My hands are too rough anyway, she'd fuss."
"Don't be shy, she's a lover."
For what seemed like the umpteenth time that day, Lin admitted defeat as she eventually caved in to Pema's happy smile and opened her arms for the baby.
Pema watched as Lin knowingly took her child, her hands were where they were supposed to be and gentle as she brought the girl close to her.
"You've done this before?" Pema had a way of asking questions that sounded more like knowing statements, a valuable trait for a mother. Lin smiled absently as she took in the baby's soft face and how shockingly sweet the newborn smelled. But her smile was sad as she felt the baby's heartbeat in her fingertips, the same way she felt her Jinora's heartbeat all those years ago. Now that she thought back, her baby would have been three years old, a bouncing little toddler with the same dark hair and big bright eyes that would have looked at her with such love.
Would have been, being the key phrase.
"I heard you and Tenzin through the wall."
Lin also hated people who answered their own questions, but still expected people to fill in the blanks.
"My mother helped me practice on a rock she bent into a baby."
Lin looked up but not at Pema, a sidelong glance towards the flowers was as much as she would give the girl.
"I'm so sorry Lin, I didn't know what the name meant, Tenzin just brought it up."
Lin sat in her angry silence, holding the baby a little tighter without knowing, and listened to the sound of her own breathing.
"I won't use the name if you don't want me to."
"It's just a name, no one owns a name."
"But it holds such meaning to you Lin, and I wouldn't want you to feel hurt because of it. You're right in being furious with him, and I understand if you don't want her name belonging to someone else."
Pema put her hand on Lin's leg in an attempt to comfort her, an unusual sad look on her face as she watched Lin fawn achingly over the baby in her arms. She had the trained look to her body that showed Pema she had practiced intently for a baby of her own, and Pema couldn't help but inwardly depress as she watched Lin gently stroke the baby's cheek.
After a small sigh, Lin came to a decision as she watched the baby roll into her and settled on her chest.
"You have my permission."
Startled, Pema looked at Lin with a grateful gaze. "Are you sure?"
"She's a beautiful baby, you're lucky she didn't catch Tenzin's baby face."
Satisfied with her stab at Tenzin, she handed the sleeping baby back to her mother and watched her settle back down.
"I loved the name because it made me think of a beautiful little girl with love in her eyes and a smile on her face. I wanted my baby to be just like that, happy and bouncy and beautiful," Lin cast a sincere look down at the little baby, a smile gracing her tired face as she did. "But sometimes things aren't meant to be, and my Jinora came to you instead."
With tears in her eyes, Pema put her hand over her mouth and hiccupped a sob. "Are you sure?"
Lin nodded slowly and surely as she stood up from her spot on the bed.
"Yes Pema, I'm sure. Enjoy your daughter for the both us, please?"
With a hand over her heart, Pema nodded through joyful tears as she watched Lin walk out and close the door, worry leaving with her.
It was a kind of weight Lin hadn't realized she'd been carrying with her for all those years, but as she walked out the door she felt herself become lighter and weirdly satisfied.
She made her way back to the kitchen where Katara was scolding her grown mother about taking food off Lin's plate, smacking her hand when she tried again. It was only when Toph, whose foot was on the ground as always, had turned her head to face Lin did Katara catch on too.
"Are you alright dear?"
Lin nodded as she walked past, turning to Tenzin as he walked in and headed down the hall.
"Congratulations Tenzin, you have a beautiful daughter."
Flabbergasted and caught off guard, Tenzin stopped walking and spun around to face Lin.
"T-thank you, Lin." He straightened himself and nodded in her direction. "That means a lot coming from you." With that he turned and started for his wife's room.
She nodded back and went for her coat Katara had stashed in the closet near the door.
"Well that was anti-climactic."
"Well I was expecting at least a rock or two to go flying-,"
"You're too kind mother," Lin whispered as she hung on her mother's back and stole the food off her plate. "I myself was expecting to send him flying into the water."
"That's my girl."
"Toph you're a bad influence."
Katara had her arms crossed over her chest and was simmering over Lin's full plate of food (save for the pieces Toph had managed to sneak when the water bender wasn't looking) and how she seemed to be keeping something from them.
"I have to go," Lin said as she pulled away from her mother and put on her coat. "Want me to take you home too, mom?"
"Oh Lin, you barely touched your food," Katara pined and nudged her elbow at the place Lin once occupied. "It's not healthy to go on an empty stomach."
"I'm sorry Katara, but I wasn't hungry. My mother could have eaten it for me."
"See? Geeze, sweetness, you are such a tightwad."
Katara waved them off from the pier as the ferry pulled away just as the sun made its way up in the sky. The breeze from the sea washed through Lin's hair and brushed across her face, leaving salty kisses in their wake. She sat next to her mother who she held hands with because boats were not her favorite means of transportation, and the beat of Lin's heart in her hand helped settle Toph's quaking stomach.
"They had to live on an island," she whined as she squeezed her daughter's hand as a large wave rolled under them. Lin let herself smile and rested her head on her mother's shoulder as the boat glided through the water.
"I'm proud of you, Lin," the mother breathed softly in Lin's ear. Lin closed her eyes and let the breath fall out of her as seagulls cawed overhead.
Her mother was never one for emotional testimonies and teary motherly love fests, but she was a master of masking that love behind short words and deep truth. Lin was aware of this by the time she was young and she respected her mother's way. Especially today, when hormones were something she didn't need anymore of.
And it was because Toph knew how to love her daughter that Tenzin had stayed alive all this time, that Pema hadn't stayed more than a half hour in jail, and that there was a new Jinora in the world.
And Lin couldn't be happier about this.
"We'll stop for doughnuts on the way back."
"That sounds nice."
I really had to play the doughnut/cop card because Lin has such a rockin' bod, but there had to be doughnut in there to get those sassy hips...yesno?