Scars and Bandages
Summary: Scenes taking place in the same universe/timeline/whatever as Wounds Both Old and New.
Disclaimer: If I owned Legend of Korra, Lin would have escaped from the Equalists in the season finale and rescue Korra from being de-bending'd by tearing Amon's head off with her bare hands. Also, bender privilege and Korra being the link between the spirit and material worlds would have been addressed WAAAAAAY more. But they wouldn't show the first one on a kids' TV program and...well, they'd better address bender privilege and Korra's spiritual side in book 2...yeah, wherever I was going with this, I don't own the show.
Pairings: Lin/Korra ("Korralin")
Author's Notes: Because badgermoles are adorable.
A Visit to the Badgermoles
"Korra, are you skipping? Actually skipping?"
"I can't help it! I'm excited to finally meet the badgermoles. They taught your mom to earthbend, right? And I heard they're cute! Probably not cuter than Naga, though."
Lin shrugged. "Your Naga slobbers a bit more. The badgermoles are just as affectionate, though."
"Do they have names?" Korra stopped bouncing around on the dirt path long enough to take Lin's hand.
"It's a mated pair. My mother named the female Detchen and the male Cheng."
"Detchen," Korra repeated. "That's not an Earth Kingdom name."
"No, it's an air nomad name. Avatar Aang suggested it when my mother had trouble coming up with a name."
Korra thought about that. "Did your mother come up with either of those names? From what I've heard of your mother, she'd be more likely to name them...like...Fluffyclaws and Sillytail."
Lin snickered. "Those sound more like Sokka, actually. But my mother was fond of...of nicknames. Even her own. When I was very young and I got in trouble, she used to tell me, 'Lin, the Melon Lord orders you to go to your room!' Sometimes she would pick up melons to make her point. Once she picked up a coconut by mistake, and I never let her forget it."
Korra burst out laughing. "I wish I'd had the chance to meet your mother."
"You would have gotten along very well, I'm sure. Actually..." Lin thought for a moment. "She would either be incredibly fond of you, threaten you with miserable death if you end up breaking my heart, or both."
"You don't still think I'm going to break your heart, do you, Lin?" Korra asked softly.
Lin shrugged. "I'm prepared."
"What do you mean? Prepared for what?" Korra took her hand out of Lin's so she could wrap her arm around her lover's waist.
"Well, we aren't going to be together forever. We certainly aren't going to get married. You'll lose interest in me eventually, and you'll be with Mako. Or maybe you'll get tired of both of us."
"You make me sound so callous. I keep saying I love you!"
"I know you do," Lin rested a hand on Korra's shoulder. "I just don't think that's permanent. And I don't think that makes you callous. You'll find people, you'll care about them very much for a short time, and you'll move on."
"You don't know that."
"No, I don't; I just suspect it and I won't be crushed if it happens."
Korra slumped, her head resting against Lin's shoulder; it hindered their walking pace, but she stayed that way. "You don't think one day when you're on your deathbed I'll be sitting right next to you holding your hand and telling you I still love you? Although we Water Tribers age faster than Earth Kingdom, so maybe I'll be in the next bed over."
Lin snorted. "Oh, that's good. You should tell Ikki that one; she loves fairy tales."
Korra didn't argue. She knew Lin was a little upset, and rightfully so; Mako, while he didn't seem to be jealous of Lin, had wanted to make sure he was still Korra's number one, and had proposed that he and Korra start sharing a room. Korra had agreed and the two of them had secretly refurbished an unused room in the Air Temple; at night, both of them snuck off to their secret room to cuddle (among other things). It hadn't been long before Tenzin had caught them. He had been angry, but Korra could tell he was relieved that it was Mako he had caught Korra with and not Lin. After some pleading from Korra, Tenzin had agreed to simply allow Korra and Mako to share a room.
This new arrangement had the side effect of Korra no longer sneaking out at night to see Lin. Getting away during the day was harder; Korra didn't have to sneak, but she was immensely busy with training. When she could see Lin, Lin was usually at work, and half the times Korra showed up at the precinct Lin was either in the field or too busy to talk. Korra went two weeks without making love with Lin before she lost her patience and skipped an evening airbending study session to go into the city. The White Lotus guards had stopped her at the gate, and when Korra had shouted at them that she was going to see Lin and they couldn't stop her, the guards had told her (rather awkwardly) that Tenzin had told them Korra wasn't barred from leaving the island anymore. Ignoring the implication that Tenzin might be under the impression that Korra's relationship with Lin had ended, Korra spurred Naga on to Lin's block. Lin had given Korra a spare key a while ago, and when Lin came home from work that day, Korra had let herself into the apartment and was waiting in Lin's bed wearing nothing but a bracelet that Lin had made for her out of a few metal scraps.
Lin hadn't complained about the new disjointed schedule involved in their continued courtship, nor the smaller amount of time they were forced to spend together. Korra was starting to badly miss her near-nightly visits with Lin, though, and had been overjoyed when Lin offered to bring her to visit the badgermoles. "Well, I'm planning on staying in love with you. I miss coming to see you at night. Maybe...I don't know, every Monday and Thursday night? Tenzin told the White Lotus guards to stop stopping me from leaving."
Lin raised an eyebrow. "Tenzin is allowing our relationship now?"
"I'm not sure if he's okay with our relationship or if he thinks I'm not with you anymore. I don't want to ask because I want it to be any harder for me to see you." Korra waited for Lin to say "Then you shouldn't be making it harder," but, to her surprise, Lin said nothing of the sort.
"Did you suggest Monday in spite or because you know how ragged and cranky I am on Monday nights?"
Korra grinned. "Because. I figured maybe I could cheer you up."
"I could definitely get on board with the idea of coming home every Monday night to find you in my bed again."
"You get home at such odd hours, though...you might sometimes come home late Monday night to find me naked in your bed, but asleep." Korra squeezed Lin's hand.
"Well, that's fine. You being there is what matters."
Korra shook her head; it was so typical of Lin to say something sweet in a completely flat, matter-of-fact tone. "I'm sure you can think of interesting ways to wake me up."
Lin snickered. "You may not be wrong about that."
By then, they had reached the badgermoles' cave. "So should we go inside, or is there a way to call them out?"
"I can call them, but they will be more comfortable if we go into the cave. You're going to have to rely on seismic sense, because it will be very dark."
Korra's seismic sense was limited, but it was developing quickly with Lin's help. It was easy enough when she was alone and could focus, but she doubted she would be able to use it while being distracted by both Lin and the badgermoles. "I'll try. But I might have to just illuminate the cave with firebending at some point, because I can't see how cute the badgermoles are with just seismic sense."
Lin shrugged. "Fair enough."
"I can't see to kiss you in there, either," said Korra with a grin, edging closer to her girlfriend.
Lin rolled her eyes. "Oh, fine." Lin leaned forward and covered Korra's mouth with a warm kiss. Korra wrapped her arms around Lin's waist, savoring the gesture. When Lin kissed her, it was as if the world narrowed to contain just the two of them. How could Lin think Korra would ever lose interest when she could make Korra feel like that?
For Lin was convinced that Korra was going to stop wanting her sooner rather than later. "When you want to leave me, I won't want any unnecessary pain or drama. I won't even ask for an explanation...but I would ask for a kiss goodbye. When you're ready to leave, just kiss me and tell me 'Lin, this is my kiss goodbye', and I won't trouble you again." Since then, Korra had begun asking Lin for kisses rather than initiating them; she didn't want to give Lin any reason to believe she was giving the break-up kiss.
"Shall we go inside?" Lin said softly.
"Hmmrng," said Korra, because Lin was still lightly scratching her scalp, which had a tendency to preclude Korra from forming words.
Lin shook her head with a small smile and took her hand away. "What about now?"
"Yes. Let's meet the badgermoles."
Lin slipped her hand into Korra's and led her into the cave, which was indeed pitch black. Korra could have used her rapidly-improving seismic sense to maneuver, but she preferred to rely on Lin to lead her. "Korra, you aren't using your seismic sense, are you?"
"No. I like it when you lead me around. Same reason I like it when you blindfold me."
"You have no opportunity to use seismic sense while we're in bed. Right now, you do. Stop being a poor student."
Korra made a face, but of course Lin couldn't see it. She let go of Lin's hand, removed her boots and tucked them under her arm, and took a moment to breathe deeply and center herself. Once she could feel the earth breathing—an odd description, but that was what Lin called it and Korra agreed that that was the best word for it—she mentally reached out from the bottoms of her bare feet to "see" Lin standing a few inches away. Lin began walking deeper into the cave; Korra followed, moving slowly and making sure to not to lift her feet up. Lin, much more well-practiced, could walk normally.
"Hang on...is that them?" Korra was beginning to sense heavy footfalls (paw-falls?) deep in the cave.
"Yes, it is. Well done."
"They're getting closer."
"Yes, they can tell I'm coming and they know me."
A few moments later, a loud scuffling announced the badgermoles' arrival; or, really, one of them. Korra could still sense one of them still deep in the cave, but the larger one padded right up to Lin. Korra abandoned seismic sense and lifted up a hand illuminated with firebending.
The badgermole's head was about three times as big as Lin's, and its nose was level with her chest. Lin got on her knees and allowed the animal to sniff her briefly before happily licking her face and neck. Maybe it was the low light, but Korra could have sworn there was an expression of recognition on its face.
"Hullo, Cheng. Yes, I missed you too. I know, I know, I haven't been here in a while." Lin rubbed her face against the badgermole's head and reached up to scratch his ears.
"Awwwwww!" Korra squealed. "That is a...a crazy level of cute."
Cheng got up on his back paws and, after a few failed attempts (his paws were enormous and unwieldy, and clearly he didn't want to hurt Lin), placed his paws on Lin's shoulders, knocking her backwards. "Oh, now you want to wrestle? Fine, then."
Korra watched, openmouthed, as the legendary police chief Lin Bei Fong became quite suddenly embroiled in a rather rough-looking wrestling match with a male badgermole tens of times her size.
"Um, Lin? Are you okay?"
"This is normal," said Lin, laughing. While she was distracted, Cheng planted a massive paw firmly on Lin's chest and held her still while he continued to lick her face. "Oh, Cheng, you got me. So you're going to hold me down and kiss me, huh? You're going to make both Korra and Detchen jealous."
"He's going to cuddle you to death! No, Cheng, she's mine!" Korra ran over, laughing; Cheng immediately scrambled into what looked like a defensive stance and made a deep, strange noise that sounded like a series of short, staccato growls.
"Korra, wait!" Lin got to her feet. "Badgermoles are very protective. He thinks you're going to attack me. You have to approach him slowly. Get down to his nose level so he can smell you."
"'Nose level'?" Korra repeated, kneeling.
"Well, I can't very well say 'eye level'. Badgermoles have vestigial eyes, but they're blind. They operate primarily by smell and seismic sense."
"Do they respond to their names at all?" Korra asked somewhat nervously as Cheng sensed the change in her position and abandoned his defensive posture.
"I've been calling them by their names long enough that yes, they do."
"Um. Hey, Cheng. I probably smell like Lin, so...hopefully...you'll like me." Korra closed her eyes as the badgermole's wet nose brushed lightly against her face, and she heard the loud snuffling noise of Cheng sniffing her. Apparently satisfied, the badgermole gave Korra an affectionate lick to the face. "Hey, there. Who's so cute? You are! Yeah, you are!" Korra scratched his ears the way Lin had done.
"Oh, he likes you."
Korra laughed out loud as Cheng carefully pinned Korra to the cave floor and continued to give her face badgermole-kisses. "Where's Detchen? Don't they usually show up together?"
"Usually, but I still feel her somewhere deeper in the cave. She'll likely be out soon. Hang on..." Lin got down on all fours and sharply struck the ground in a repeated pattern of sounds. "Detchen! Come on out, pretty!"
Korra heard shuffling approaching. She tried to activate her seismic sense, but she was too distracted by Cheng's attempt to continue showing her how much he loved her.
"Oh...she's walking strangely. I hope she's not injured..."
Korra craned to look at the approaching badgermole, but she couldn't see behind Cheng's bulk, so she was startled when Lin cried out in surprise. "Korra! Come see!"
It took some doing to wriggle out from under Cheng's paws, but she made it, and when she got up, she generated fire with one hand to see what Lin was looking at, and when she did, she let out a squeal more high-pitched than she would have believed possible. Cradled in Lin's arms was a tiny pink badgermole about the size Naga had been as a pup, covered in a thin layer of brown fluff, eyes still closed. "Aaaaah, she is so cute!"
The baby badgermole squeaked and turned over, rubbing its face with its paws; this time Korra made a noise so high-pitched she couldn't even hear it. "Who's so sleepy?" Lin singsonged, holding the little blind animal closer.
Korra chuckled. "Lin, do you have any idea how weird it is to hear you talking like that?"
"Oh, shut up," said Lin crossly, sounding much more like herself. "You're the one squeaking like the little kit here."
"We should name her!"
"Why don't you pick up her brother?" Lin suggested, leaning her head toward Detchen. "It would seem Detchen had two kits."
"Kits? Are that what baby badgermoles are called?"
"Yes. Make sure you approach Detchen slowly; if she thinks you're going to harm her baby, she'll take your head off before I can move."
Korra extinguished the fire—she couldn't very well hold a baby badgermole with a flaming hand—and knelt the way she had in front of Cheng. "Hey, Detchen. Can I cuddle your cute little kit? I promise I'll be nice!"
Detchen sniffed Korra's face and judged her worthy with a lick. Korra gently scratched the mama badgermole's head, then waited while Detchen licked her face again. Her eyes had somewhat adjusted to the light, so she edged over to Detchen's flank where the male kit clung to its mother's fur. "Hey, sweetie," Korra cooed, holding out a hand to let the baby sniff her. "Can I hold you?" When she tried to take the kit into her arms, he let go and cuddled up to her. "Awwwwwww!"
"Korra, if you keep making noises like that, you're going to scare them."
Korra squinted over at Lin; her eyes had somewhat adjusted to the low light and she could see that the female kit was sitting up in Lin's arms and was licking her face. "Aww, you take after your daddy, don't you?"
"What are you going to call her?" Korra leaned over to kiss the male badgermole kit's head; he sneezed, and Korra let out another delighted squeak.
"Syojin," said Lin instantly. "Her name is Syojin."
The kit seemed to approve of her new name, because she immediately returned to acting on what was apparently an obsessive desire to bathe Lin's face.
"Lin, did you have names for them already picked out?" Korra teased.
Korra couldn't see, but she could guess that Lin was likely glaring at her. "I knew Detchen was pregnant, so I thought about names."
"Did you think of any good ones for a little boy badgermole?"
"I did, but since you wanted so badly to visit the badgermole family and this is your first time doing so, I think you should pick a name for him."
Korra thought about that while gently scratching the kit's head; unlike his active, affectionate sister, he had decided that Korra's lap was the perfect place to take a nap. "How about Sennahi? Then they can both have names that start with 's'."
"Sennahi," Lin repeated. "I like that. Why does it sound so familiar?"
"It's the male version of my mom's name."
"Ah. No wonde—mmpf! Syojin!" Korra held up one hand to illuminate the cave again, this time seeing that Syojin was standing with her hind paws on one of Lin's arms, her front paws on Lin's shoulders, and her tongue still covering Lin's face and neck with badgermole-kisses. Apparently, Syojin had decided Lin's face wasn't clean enough while she had been trying to talk. "I think this little one might be planning on making a meal of me."
"Do they even eat meat?"
"Yes, badgermoles can only eat meat."
Korra looked down at Sennahi, who appeared to be fast asleep. "We can trade if you want. I think Sennahi just wants a cozy place to sleep."
"All right." Lin scooted over to Korra on her knees and handed Syojin to Korra before plucking up Sennahi from the avatar's lap. "So sleepy, aren't you?" Lin held Sennahi against her chest. "Oh, you like to cuddle while you sleep."
"Badgermoles are very cuddly, it seems," said Korra with a grin. Syojin was already standing up in her lap and licking her chin. "And very affectionate."
"They're very agreeable creatures."
Syojin soon tired of licking Korra's face and decided that she also wanted to nap. Since both the kits were asleep, Lin handed Sennahi back to Detchen and quietly suggested that they leave. "Kits sleep all but one or two hours of the day when they are first born. We should let them rest."
Korra had wanted to wrestle with Cheng again, but she took Lin's hand and followed her out of the cave. When the sunlight hit Korra's eyes, she squinted and blinked, nearly blinded by the brightness. When her eyes adjusted, the first thing that her vision focused on was Lin, and she made a little noise that was almost a moan; Lin glanced at her with an eyebrow raised inquisitively.
"We spend an hour in a cave where I can't see and I almost forget how beautiful you are."
Lin rolled her eyes. "You know, you've called me 'beautiful' almost enough times to make me believe it."
"It really does make me crazy when you wear tank tops." Korra pulled her hand from Lin's so she could move closer to her lover and let her hands glide up and down Lin's hips and sides, over her back and her waist. "You're so strong and gorgeous and lean and perfect and shapely and mmm..." Korra pressed her face to Lin's neck, brushing her lips against the cool skin.
"Korra, honey, you've stopped using words." But Lin returned Korra's embrace anyway.
"I love your neck," Korra whispered, continuing to kiss the aforementioned part of Lin's body, her hands still absentmindedly tracing random circles on Lin's back. Lin let her eyes drift shut. She wouldn't admit it under torture, but being touched in such a way by Korra had a powerful sedative effect on her. Lin bit her lower lip to keep from vocalizing as she felt Korra's fingertips slide beneath the fabric of her shirt. "I wish we were already back at your place. You're wearing too many clothes."
"When we get back? Please?" Korra murmured. "It's been too long."
Lin sighed. "All right. You're right, it has been too long."
Korra made a very badgermole-like happy noise, choosing to also react to Lin's accession by sliding her hand up Lin's ribs to playfully squeeze one of her breasts. "I like these."
"Have you ever touched a girl your age the way you touch me?"
"Why would I when I have you?" Korra dotted the underside of Lin's chin with kisses.
"You should try it. You don't know what you're missing."
Korra made a face. She took both of her hands off of Lin's body and rested an index fingertip beside each of Lin's eyes. "I also like these." She stood on tiptoe and pecked Lin a kiss on the mouth. "And these." Finally, she brushed one thumb over the scars on Lin's cheek. "And these. All pretty unique to you."
Lin didn't have an answer for that, so she just pulled Korra into a bone-crushing embrace.
"Thank you for bringing me to meet the badgermoles," Korra whispered. "I knew you really liked them, but it seems like they're like your pets. They treat you like family."
"They really are."
"So now I've met your officers and the badgermoles. When are you going to meet my family?"
Lin groaned. "Honey, we've talked about this."
"Yeah, and I wasn't satisfied with your answer."
"Do you really want to upset your parents over nothing?"
Startled, Korra stepped back from their embrace. "Wait...'nothing'? Did you just call my relationship with you 'nothing'?"
Lin rested a hand on Korra's cheek, a look of unsubtle sadness in her eyes. "That isn't at all what I meant. I could never think of a relationship with someone I love as much as I love you as 'nothing'."
Korra blinked. "You just...you just said that you loved me. Twice."
Lin shrugged. "I suppose I did."
"You've never said you loved me before!"
"I know. About time, right?" Lin kissed Korra's cheek. "I did not mean to imply that I don't care about our relationship. I do. Very much. But your parents might be concerned or...or panicked over you being in a relationship with another woman who is thirty-three years your senior."
"I'll be eighteen in a month. And the age of consent in Republic City is sixteen, and it's only fifteen in the Southern Water Tribe!"
"I'm not just talking about...about physical intimacy, Korra," said Lin gently. "I'm talking about it looking like I'm emotionally manipulating you into being with me despite the fact that I'm so much older than you. It makes me seem...untrustworthy. Suspicious."
Korra made a face. "Yeah, sure. The former Chief of Police is totally an untrustworthy, creepy, suspicious-looking...um...suspicious...type...pers on."
"But I would never take advantage of you or pressure you into anything you weren't comfortable with." Lin rested her forehead against Korra's. "Your parents might be upset, and since they are so far away, they would have nothing but your word to assuage them. And, spirits forbid, they might write to Tenzin to ask about us. They might be concerned, but they actually have nothing to worry about. That is what I meant when I said 'upset your parents over nothing'."
"But I'm so happy with you," Korra protested. "I like sharing things with my parents. I want to share how happy I am to have you with them."
"How common is it for a young woman to be romantically involved with more than one person in the Southern Water Tribe?"
Korra chewed her lower lip. "It's not unheard of. A lot of younger people court two or three people at the same time when they first start dating, you know, to figure out what kind of person they're into. I mean, that's usually around thirteen of fourteen, but I was always more interested in avatar training than boys..."
"And how many teenagers are involved with people older than their parents?"
Korra hung her head. "Not many," she said in a small voice.
"Well, I didn't know that polyamory was accepted at all in the Southern Water Tribe. Maybe if you emphasize to your parents that Mako is your first priority and we're not particularly serious..."
"I think we're serious," Korra whispered. Lin kissed one of Korra's hands instead of replying verbally. "And...I mean...I don't think I want Mako to be my main boyfriend or partner or whatever anymore."
"Korra...what are you saying?" Lin struggled to keep her voice level.
"Ever since Mako and I started sharing a room, I've kept thinking how I thought it was a good idea at first...but I wish I hadn't. The bedroom stuff is...nice...I mean, now Mako's listening to me about what I like...but he's not you. And when I cuddle up to him afterward so we can sleep, I keep thinking that I wish it were you holding me. And...I've been talking to Asami a lot..." Korra paused to collect her thoughts and Lin remained silent. She knew perfectly well by now that putting her feelings into words was one of Korra's weaknesses. "She's not mad at me. She's never been mad at me. I would have thought she would be mad at me for taking Mako from her. But...I guess she doesn't blame me? She told me...she told me how he acted when Tarrlok had kidnapped me, and how she was pretty convinced that after that, she wouldn't want to be with him." Korra flung her arms around Lin and buried her face in her girlfriend's shoulder. "He almost burned somebody's face off. And he yelled at Asami. And I didn't...I didn't think anything of it...but...remember when I was convinced Hiroshi Sato was up to something Equalist?"
"And you were right? Yes."
Korra nestled her face against the soft, warm skin of Lin's throat, but even that closeness couldn't comfort her. "Mako...it was upsetting Mako that I was accusing Asami's dad. He said if I wouldn't drop it, we couldn't be friends anymore."
"That is an unfair thing to say," said Lin softly. "Very unfair. And somewhat worrisome."
"And...and you believed me. You hated my guts at that point and you believed me!"
"I never hated you. You frustrated me, but I never hated you." Lin caressed the back of Korra's neck with just her fingertips; she knew Korra found that comforting, and she was rewarded with the feeling of the girl relaxing slightly in her arms.
"I just...have doubts," said Korra in a very small voice. "I love him, but...I get this weird feeling that he's only not jealous of you because he has no idea how much I love you. And I feel like he has to be in control. Not...necessarily...controlling, but...it's just a vibe. He hasn't said or done anything to make me think that, but...there's something about that vibe that makes me uncomfortable."
"So you can't pinpoint what makes you think Mako needs to be in control? Besides that...that ultimatum he gave you?" Lin ran her hands up and down Korra's back.
"That's part of it." Korra sighed, letting herself focus on Lin's caresses for a moment. "And...and you know, I...I keep thinking about how Asami told me Mako basically cheated on her. But I thought I couldn't...I couldn't get mad at him for that, or think I wouldn't want to be with someone like that...because...because that's what I did to you. I kissed Mako even though I'd asked you to be with me."
"Did Mako ever apologize to Asami? Or admit he was wrong, the way you did to me?"
"He said he was sorry everything got screwed up. But he never admitted he'd hurt Asami or that he shouldn't have gone after me even with him and Asami still being together."
"Well, at least he apologized." Lin kissed the top of Korra's head.
"I don't love him as much as I love you." Korra pressed a long kiss to the base of Lin's neck. "You may have not been reinstated as police chief yet, but...you're the chief of my heart."
"How long did it take for you to come up with that?" Lin whispered, lowering her voice to hide how touched she was by that comment.
"A while." Korra slid her hands up under Lin's shirt again, drinking in the sensation of the soft skin and steely muscles under her palms.
"Korra...do sad, intense conversations arouse you?"
"No. Feeling close to you soothes me." Korra nuzzled Lin's collarbone. "I wish we were in bed now. I want you to kiss me all over. I want to feel like we're the only two people there are. That's how you make me feel."
Lin rolled her shoulders forward slightly so she could kiss Korra just under her jaw line. "Yes. I know that feeling." Suddenly she pulled back from their embrace and held up a hand. "Wait. I sense something."
"Someday you're going to have to teach me how you keep your seismic sense activated all the time. I mean, your mother needed it to see, but come on!"
Lin trotted over to the cave entrance. "I think one of the kits is coming back." She knelt and waited, and half a second later she had scooped up the badgermole kit who had just emerged. "Well, hel-lo there, Sennahi. I can feel your mama a few feet away, and good thing too, or I'd be worried. How did you get away from her? Could you both tell Korra was upset? Could you?"
"You think that's why he came back?" Korra walked over.
"Badgermoles are very empathic. And Sennahi here appears to have bonded with you." Lin carefully handed the kit to Korra, whose arms were outstretched to hold the young badgermole.
"Hey, Sennahi. Hey, cutie." Korra gently held the kit to her chest; he licked her chin once and settled down in her arms, apparently still convinced that Korra was his bed.
Lin smiled, shaking her head. "Normally, badgermoles show affection by licking, but I'm fairly sure that means he likes you." Suddenly Lin turned behind her. "Hello, Detchen. Don't worry; we're taking good care of your baby."
Korra saw Detchen's nose emerging from the shadows; apparently she had poked Lin's leg to get her attention. "Okay, Detchen. It's really sweet that Sennahi wanted to cuddle, but I think Lin has me covered on the comforting-me front." She let the little badgermole down; he whined in protest at being deprived of his naptime, but crawled back to his mother. Lin was watching to make sure Detchen and Sennahi were properly reunited, and she let out a surprisingly unbecoming yelp when Korra threw her arms around her.
"Thanks again for bringing me here. And for listening to me whine. Particularly about Mako."
"What are you going to do about Mako?" Lin asked softly. "It sounds like you're...unhappy with the current status of your relationship with him."
"I'll have to think about it," said Korra so quietly Lin could barely understand her. "All I know is I want you to be my number one."
Lin was silent for a moment. "Will you answer something for me, Korra?"
"Do you want me to be your 'number one', as you put it, because you're trying to convince me you never want to leave me, or because Mako is genuinely making you uncomfortable?"
Korra did not reply at first. "Lin, I...I don't want to leave you. Ever. But your head is harder than your uniform, so I figure I'll prove I never want to leave you when we're still together in twenty years. I don't like how Mako is acting around me and I don't like how he treated Asami, and when I told him I was upset about him telling me he wouldn't be friends with me if I didn't stop accusing Asami's dad...he just brushed it off. So it's...it's Mako."
Lin leaned back from their embrace far enough to kiss Korra briefly. "Thank you for answering me honestly."
Korra let her head loll forward; Lin took the hint and leaned down so their foreheads were touching. "Even if you couldn't use your earthbending as a lie detector, I wouldn't lie to you. Can we please go back to your apartment now?"
Lin could feel need resonating from Korra with her seismic sense, but the soft desperation in her lover's voice was enough to tell that was going to be a long night in the best sort of way. "Yes."
A/N: I wish we saw more of the badgermoles in AtLA, because they are awesome and adorable and I love them. Also, I wasn't sure how to make them act; we saw one of them licking Toph to show affection, and other than that I wasn't sure what they would do during a visit from Lin and Korra. So I made them act kind of like dogs and kind of like mustelids, because badgers are mustelids and I have seen domesticated mustelids (in my case, ferrets) show affection in weird and adorable ways. One of them-who was blind, incidentally-liked to use my ankles as her napkin after eating in order to show how much she loved me. Another one of them liked to nap in my arms or on my lap.
And...oh, Mako. I really don't ship Makorra. But it was a conversation with another LoK-loving friend of mine a few days ago that reminded me of how controlling Mako can act, and...yeah, I've been looking for an excuse for Lin to be Korra's one and only in this fic :P