Everyone was in a frenzy looking for Lin Beifong. Aang was flying over Republic City on his glider, Katara was scoping the suburbs around the Beifong mansion, and Tenzin was in charge of looking through every nook and cranny on Air Temple Island. The girl had slipped away in the middle of her mother's funeral, and it was approaching nightfall, and she still hadn't been found.
"Lin! Lin!" Tenzin called, as he searched the outside cliffs and caves, before moving into the main house. He threw open the doors of his bedroom.
"Lin!" he exclaimed, seeing her sitting on his bed, tears streaming down her face. Although she was 25 now, Tenzin knew that Toph was Lin's whole world. "Lin…"
"Hi Tenzin," she whispered, looking at him with her bloodshot eyes, a weak smile plastered on her face. "Are Aang and Katara still out? I'm sorry…I didn't mean to worry anyone."
He sat down next to her, pulling her into a strong embrace. "Lin, don't worry about anything. I'm here for you now."
Lin's bottom lip trembled and she tried to hold back her sobs, but it was just too much for her to handle. "She's gone…" she said quietly, bursting into a fresh wave of tears. She buried her face in Tenzin's chest, crying her heart out.
"I won't tell you it's going to be alright just yet. But there are so many people who love you, Lin. Me being on top of said list."
Lin giggled softly in between her sobs. "I love you, Tenzin. But she was my mother. There's no one like her in this universe. No one who will offer me such unconditional love, even though she'd never admit it. No one who'll thrust rocks at me for being such a shit metalbender. No one one who'll… who'll…" She started crying again.
"I can throw rocks at you if you'd like," he offered, but clamped his lips shut at her glare. "Right. Not the time."
For the next few hours, Tenzin just comforted Lin by rubbing slow circles in her back while she cried into his robes.
"Of course," he said, smiling as she lifted her head up. Tenzin didn't need her to say it; he knew that she wanted to spend the night. He fluffed a pillow and placed it under her head, turning off the lights before stripping down to his underclothes and joining her.
"You feeling better?" he murmured, pressing a soft kiss to her lips.
"Not really," she admitted, although she wasn't crying anymore. "I miss her."
"I do, too, Lin. We'll all miss her."
"I'm not as good as her. What if I'm the worst Chief of Police ever? What if I fail at everything?" she asked. Lin had never told her insecurities to Tenzin before, and she flinched, anticipating his reaction.
"My Lin isn't bad at anything. She's amazing at everything, and anything she does, and she's probably the most talented, beautiful, and perfect girl in the world," Tenzin declared, pulling her closer to him. "And I love her with all of my heart and soul."
"You promise to love me forever, right Tenzin?"
"Forever, always, and even after that, Lin Beifong. You're the only girl I'll ever love. I know it," he said, kissing her again.
She smiled, feeling truly and utterly happy. Suddenly, her mood took another dive. "My mother would've been so happy at our future wedding… though she'd probably threaten to kill you," she said, sullen.
"I'll be your new mother. And your father," he said, laughing. "I'll be your family, every last member of it."
Lin snorted. "Tenzin, you're the sweetest, weirdest person I know. And I love you. So much. So don't you go and leave me like my mother did."
"Never, child. I'll never leave you. Mommy Tenzin is here to stay," he crooned, putting on an old lady's voice.
Tenzin heard Lin laugh loudly, before punching him. "Stop saying stupid things, airhead. I mean, mommy airhead."
"That's my daughter! Wait, you're right. That is kind of weird… That's my perfect little badgermole!" he amended, using his mother's old nickname for her.
Lin blushed, feeling tears come to her eyes again. This time, they weren't tears of grief at her mother's passing, but rather tears of joy at her upcoming future with the man of her dreams.