Author's Note: I always thought thought there was more going on in this scene...
When he approaches her he can see her tense up, the ever so slight stiffening of her already rigid and commanding form. An action only visible to him. It's been years since he's scrutinized her body, but he can still tell the little nuisances and subtle movements as if it were yesterday.
As if they were still lovers.
He knows that she could sense him coming. She always could tell it was him and back then she would've laughed:
"You can't sneak up on me, Twinkle Toes."
But now she is silent, directing her officers, trying to appear focused. She isn't laughing or teasing him. Korra was right – she hadn't moved past it, past them. For her it is still fresh.
He stands next to her in the empty arena. There is so much he realizes that she needs to hear from him and yet he knows that there is little he can say to make everything better. He wants to tell her that he cares for her still, that he is proud of her, that late at night he sometimes thinks of her.
But he is an Airbender and it is in his nature to avoid and not confront things head-on.
"How is the security sweep going?" He manages to ask.
She doesn't look at him. "Fine."
"They've checked underneath the stands?"
He can see her tense up in annoyance. "Yes."
They are curt, one-word answers. Clearly all she thinks he deserves. He tries again.
"And you have enough officers to cover all points of entry?"
That does it. She looks over at him, green eyes flashing with anger. He has questioned her judgement, her competency and that is completely unacceptable.
"I've got the skies, the bay, and every nook and cranny of this place covered…" She folds her arms across her chest and angrily turns away from him. "…now leave me alone and let me do my job."
He can tell he crossed the line with her and he is instantly sorry. She stands there, arms folded, tense and annoyed. And hurting. His conversation with Korra that afternoon had only confirmed what he had known deep in his heart – he had hurt this woman terribly. And while he knows the demise of their relationship wasn't entirely his fault, he knows that at this moment it doesn't matter. Not confronting her feelings all these years is his fault and he needs to accept the blame and fix the situation.
"Lin…" He says her name softly. He needs her to work with him, to help him fight this battle, to forgive him for what happened in the past. "…with so much on the line, it would be nice if we could help each other out. At least for one night."
He sees her relax ever so slightly and she turns to look at him.
"Like old times?" For a moment, her voice loses the edginess, the weariness, and instead is tinged with a little hope. A small smile plays at the corners of her mouth, her face softens. And suddenly she is beautiful to him once again.
He smiles at her and nods. "Like old times."
The small smile stays for just a moment longer before she turns away from him. Her shoulders relax a little, but her arms are still folded across her chest.
"Okay. I'll try to be less abrasive than usual."
Things are better now between them, but he is no fool. He knows he isn't completely off the hook yet.
"I would appreciate that."