Author's Note: I just had to write some young Lin and Tenzin.
The sound of her classmates' laughter echoed in her ears as she ran. Lin had to get away from that horrible school with its horrible students and teachers. No one there was ever nice to her except for Tenzin. She ran all the way to the docks and ducked behind a couple of crates. Sinking down to the ground, she drew her knees to her chest, burying her face in her arms as she sobbed.
They were all idiots. What was worse was that she felt like an even bigger idiot because Beifongs didn't let such petty things bother them.
"I thought I would find you down here."
Lin looked up to see Tenzin standing over her.
"You always head to the island whenever something's bothering you and the ferry hasn't left yet. So I knew you'd be here somewhere." He sat down in front of her. "Besides, you are my best friend. I know how you operate."
"You'll get in trouble for skipping class, airhead."
"I know, but I wanted to make sure you were okay."
Lin smiled a little before dissolving once again into tears.
"I'm so stupid..."
"Where did you get the idea to do that with your hair anyway." Tenzin fingered strands of her singed hair. "I always thought it looked nice just in a braid."
Lin sniffed and wiped away the tears on her cheeks. "Grandmother Poppy brought this book about hair styles and fashion in Ba Sing Se with her when she last visited as a gift for me. You know I've never been into that kind of stuff, but I started looking through it."
The girl looked down at her trembling hands and sighed. "I just thought I'd try something new. I guess I just wanted to feel pretty for once."
Lin buried her face in her hands, her whole body shaking as she sobbed. Tenzin did the only thing he could think of to do and he scooted close to her and wrapped his arm around her shoulders. The young earthbender slumped against him, burying her face in his shirt.
"I think you're pretty." He finally said.
"What?" Lin pulled back and stared at him. "You think I'm pretty?"
"What about Loma or Yi-Ming?"
"What about them?"
"Aren't they pretty?" Lin suddenly straightened up to look at him. "To you I mean?"
"They're all right. I dunno but it always seems like girls like them try too hard. All that make-up and those ridiculous complicated hair-dos. It must take them hours to get ready every morning." Gently Tenzin wiped away a stray tear from her cheek with a fingertip. "I think you are way prettier."
Lin blushed. "Really?"
"Yeah. Of course not right now because your eyes are all puffy and your nose is runny and well your hair..." The boy's voice trailed off under the ferocity of her glare. "I should've just stopped at 'yeah.'"
"You think?" She punched him in the upper arm.
"Ow! I'm going to feel that for days." Tenzin pushed up the sleeve of his tunic to his shoulder and inspected the spot where she had hit him. "And I am going to have a bruise. Thanks so much."
Lin rolled her eyes. "Oh don't be such a baby."
"I'm the baby? Who is in here blubbering? Not me."
"Watch it, airbender." She said, continuing to glare at him. But suddenly she smiled and threw her arms impulsively around his neck, hugging him. "Thank you."
The young Airbender returned the hug before pulling away to push the burned and damaged locks of hair away from her face. "I bet Mom could fix this."
Lin's green eyes went wide with panic. "Oh no, Tenzin, no no no..." She shook her head and scooted away from him. "I do not want your mother seeing me."
"Oh please, Mom's seen worse."
"Yeah, I was like five and Kya was fifteen and she apparently ticked off some girl - I think Kya was talking to the girl's boyfriend or something stupid like that. Anyway, the girl was really mad and her and her friends cornered Kya in the girls' bathroom and cut one of her braids off and a hair loopy. And one of the girls poured glue into Kya's hair. It was a mess."
"Yeah. Mom always said girls, especially teenage girls, can be really mean. But anyway, apparently Mom and Dad had to go to the school and the parents of all the girls who had attacked Kya were all embarrassed because it was the Avatar's daughter. I think they got suspended. Kya was so upset about her hair, but Mom fixed it and in the end all the other girls were jealous because Kya's hair looked really pretty."
Tenzin smiled at her and stood up. "So I don't think Mom will have any trouble fixing yours." He offered her his hand and pulled her to her feet.
"Okay..." Lin followed him reluctantly to the ferry.
Tenzin paced the living room nervously glancing every now and then at the closed door to his parents' bedroom.
"Your mother knows what she's doing, son." Avatar Aang said from where he sat on the couch. The handsome 45-year old Airbender did not even bother to keep the amusement out of his voice. "You do remember that time with Kya..."
"Yeah, yeah..." The boy interrupted. "Lin was afraid Mom would freak out when she saw her hair so I told Lin that story about Kya and how it all worked out."
"Well then you know Lin's hair is in very capable hands. Now come on and sit down before you wear a path into the floorboards and then your mother will really have an epic freak out."
"What am I going to freak out about?"
Both Aang and Tenzin turned to see Katara standing in the entrance to the hallway, her hands on her hips, a playful gleam in her eyes. Aang stood up and crossed the room, smiling sweetly at his wife.
"Oh nothing. I was telling our son how capable you are at fixing hair problems, o' beautiful wife of mine." The Avatar said, placing a kiss on Katara's cheek.
The waterbender rolled her eyes and folded her arms across her chest. "Mmm-hmm whatever, you shameless flatterer." She leaned in close, her lips gently brushing against the sensitive flesh of Aang's earlobe. "I might just have to think of a way to punish you later for that little remark."
"Oh spirits, Mom. Gross. I'm right here, you know." Tenzin regarded his blushing parents with annoyance. "Where's Lin?"
Katara cleared her throat, embarrassed that for a brief moment she had forgotten that her youngest son was in the room. "Lin honey, come on out here and let everyone see."
The girl emerged from Aang and Katara's bedroom, making her way into the living room. The was no sound, no one was saying anything and Lin's face went red with embarrassment. Aang and Tenzin were just staring, mouths open. She looked at Katara with tears in her eyes.
"They hate it." She whispered.
Katara glared at her son and her husband. "Would you two quit standing around with your mouths hanging open and say something."
Tenzin was the first to find his voice. "Wow..."
"Yeah. Double wow."
"Does that mean they like it?" Lin asked, her eyes still focused on Katara. She was afraid to look at her friend and his father, afraid that they would confirm what she feared - that her hair looked awful.
Katara laughed. "I would say judging by the dopey smiles on their faces, the answer is yes."
Lin finally looked in their direction, catching Tenzin's gaze. He smiled at her. "Do you really like it?"
Katara had done her job well. Lin's dark locks were now shoulder length and framed her face in layered waves. The shorter hairstyle had taken some of the weight off of the girl's hair and Tenzin was shocked to see it was naturally wavy.
"Yeah..." He said softly. "It is just perfect."