One thing Lin hadn’t counted on coming out of Kuvira’s defeat was that she would become a regular visitor to Air Temple Island, or that she would end up having some sort of relationship with all of Tenzin’s family, even Pema whom she had not known before Tenzin had left her for her. Somehow loud family dinners had become part of her week - Saturdays spent with the rabble, picnics and lazy sunny afternoons. Lin hadn’t even realised she could enjoy it, and while she had been happy before, this was not an unwelcome addition to her working week. By the time dessert was served she was often tired though, and was frequently the first one to nip outside for a breather.
“You must have taken more Saturdays off since Kuvira got thrown in jail than you have for the entire rest of your career,” Kya said with a smile as she joined her outside.
“I think you’re probably right,” she said dryly, the two of them looking across the water towards Republic City, the spirit portal glowing brightly against the nighttime sky.
“I’m sure they can survive for one night a week, everyone knows you always end up working Saturdays,” she teased, voice soft and a small smile on her face, trying to convey that she wasn’t criticising how much she worked, just acknowledging it.
“Maybe one day the Police station will function without me, but that doesn’t seem to have happened yet.”
“Maybe you should go off sick as a test, see if Republic City survives.”
“But at what cost?” she said mock seriously, the sides of her mouth softening, and Kya laughed in response, which was followed by companionable silence.
“It’s good to see you,” Kya managed eventually, and then withdrew before Lin could respond.
Kya stuck around for longer than anyone expected, and didn’t give any sort of reason other than “I can want to see my family, can’t I?” That was definitely a deciding factor, but also she was tired, and maybe it was time, even if Air Temple Island was surprisingly overcrowded these days.
Lin’s just stepping onto the dock when she gets accosted by Korra, who looks nervous and slightly shy in a way that means she’s definitely going to ask for something.
“Avatar,” she sounded as curt as usual, but it was more to see Kora squirm than through any real annoyance. She continued walking up to the Temple for dinner, Korra following just behind, looking slightly pained.
“Well uhm,” she sighed. “I just wanted to ask if you’d teach me metalbending?” Before Lin could respond Korra was already reeling off all of the reasons that she should agree. “I know Su already taught me the basics but I’d really like to learn from a master and continue to get better, and really who else would I ask you’re the chief of Police and I really would-”
Lin sighed, taking pity on her, interrupting Korra’s promises to work as hard as she could. “Fine. I suppose I can do two evenings a week. No goofing off, and if your girlfriend’s here, no showing off, either.”
“What girlfriend, Asami and I haven’t told-” Lin couldn’t help it when she started to laugh, Korra’s floundering being replaced with a glare as she realised that Lin had just managed to get her to admit it.
“And to think Bumi said there was no way the two of you were dating.”
“Chief!” Korra whined. “You won’t tell anyone, right?”
“Of course not, although I don’t know why you’re trying to keep it a secret.”
“Well we just thought, because of Mako and everything,” she visibly shook herself. “Anyway, I agree to your terms.” Korra sounded surprisingly firm, and Lin dropped the issue though she was still smiling a little.
“Let’s start now then, dinner won’t be for another hour probably.”
“You’re the boss,” Korra said with a grin.
Kya was the one that retrieved them for dinner and Lin knew Korra was glad to go, not just because of the way that she practically ran inside, but also because Korra had been very good about not sighing in frustration through a lesson that was mostly just about sensing the difference between metals.
“I hope you’re not working her too hard,” Kya smiled as they made their way inside at a much more sedate pace.
“An hour of concentrating is good for her,” Lin said, gruff as always, but Kya could see the small smirk threatening at the corner of pink lips.
“You’re so cruel, mistreating an eager student like that.”
“Just warning her that it’s going to take a lot of work - she can’t be an expert at everything.” Lin turned to look at Kya with a smile, or at least with the beginnings of one, who laughed in response.
“Are you just trying to bore her into giving up?”
“Me? As if I’d do such a thing?” Kya’s laughter is cut short by Tenzin yelling that dinner’s ready, again, and could everyone please hurry up and get to the table.
“So, Korra, when’s your next metalbending lesson?” Kya asks as casually as possible over lunch a few weeks later. Her attempts at conversation with Lin had been going well, and she could almost call her a friend, or something more than an acquaintance anyway.
“Don’t worry, you’ll get to see your girlfriend tomorrow,” she replies, grinning as she high fives Bumi, both of them ignoring the glares that they were receiving. “Yeah I’ve noticed you use my lessons to woo our esteemed, if incredibly grumpy, chief of Police.”
“Korra-” she starts, tone serious, and Korra goes serious too, smiling a little, but trying to be reassuring.
“Don’t worry, your secret’s safe with me,” she paused, smirk returning. “I hope you get the girl.”
“She’s not really a girl,” Kya says with a small smile, and is surprised to realise that she’s relieved someone else knows, even if she wouldn’t have picked her idiot brother and the Avatar, of all people.
“Did I ever tell you about that girl I met while-” Bumi starts, and both women roll their eyes.
Another few weeks and many successful conversations later, and Korra has moved onto practising with prototype cables - ones that aren’t as strong but are made of a metal that’s easier to bend, and Kya and Asami are stood inside the temple, admiring their girlfriends (or hopefully future girlfriend, in Kya’s case) from where Lin couldn’t see them. It’s become something of a tradition, and whenever anyone happens to walk past them they get knowing smiles, (although Tenzin doesn’t seem to have worked out what they’re doing yet, and it seems like him and Lin are the only people who don’t know). They both wince when Korra gets flung into the dirt once again, although she’s flicking a cable towards Lin before she’s even back up off the floor.
“That’s gonna bruise,” Asami mutters, and Kya pats her shoulder sympathetically.
“At least neither of them complain about the bruises they receive.”
“Our girlfriends are such martyrs,” she laughs, ignoring Kya’s half-hearted reminder that Lin isn’t actually her girlfriend.
“Dinner’s soon, do you want to tell them or should I?” Pema appears and interrupts their staring.
“Hmm?” Kya responds, having already been distracted again by Lin beating Korra spectacularly, muscles rippling under her tank top (Korra had accidentally bended her armour once, and since then she’d started taking it off before they started sparring).
“Dinner? Are you two going to tell them?” Pema tries again, and Kya shakes herself back to paying attention.
“Oh right, yeah, of course,” she manages, starting down the hallway with Asami following.
“Dinner’s soon, apparently,” Kya called cheerfully, and when Korra hears about food and sees Asami her guard drops completely, meaning that Lin manages to sweep her into the dirt one more time, because Lin knows better than to be distracted by a pretty girl, however much she wants to be.
“Don’t let your guard down,” she chides, and Korra is pouting even as she offers her a hand to help her back up. “Practice is over, I’ll see you on Thursday.”
“Yes Chief.” Korra almost salutes sarcastically but fights the urge, and is soon being fussed over by Asami anyway. Kya passes Lin the water bottle she’d left over by her armour and tries not to blush when their fingers brush.
“Thanks,” Lin smiles a little, enough, and Kya is glad that somehow she made it into something which resembles Lin’s inner circle, and seems to comprise of herself, Su and, oddly, Kya’s mother. She’d been surprised to find out that they talk on the phone rather often, however much Lin hates technology and Katara doesn’t understand it. She tries not to stare at Lin as she tilts her head back and downs half the bottle, pale throat exposed to her greedy gaze. Kya quickly turns to go to dinner, and is surprised when Lin follows her without putting her armour back on, leaving it on the bench where she’d carefully placed it before she’d started sparring.
“No armour today?” she asks quietly, hoping that Lin won’t mind that she asked.
“If anyone tries to assassinate me I’m sure it’ll be my reflexes that save me and not my armour.” Her tone is as dry as ever, but she’s been more and more willing to show her sense of humour the more Kya has forced her into spending time with her.
“Who says you’re important enough to be assassinated?” she teases, and she’s glad she manages to sit next to her because whenever Kya ends up sitting next to Bumi he spends the entire meal singing “Kya and Lin, sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G,” regardless of how many times she punches him in an attempt to get him to stop.
“I’ll have you know I’ve thwarted several attempts on my life. Admittedly some of those were meant for my mother or just general attempts to damage the station…” she trailed off, smiling into her vegetables.
“I suppose you stopped them all at the very last minute and saved the day?”
“No I tend to leave the dramatics to the Avatar.”
“I’m sure you can’t resist sometimes,” she laughed quietly. “Remember when you used to use your cables to get everywhere just to show off?”
“They’re faster than most conventional methods of travel, and you know how I hate to be late.”
Kya can’t help the surprised laughter that spills forth, and she’s even more surprised when Lin chuckles too; she’d been trying to get used to Lin actually outwardly showing that she enjoyed her company, but she wasn’t there yet. They’re both smiling at each other when they quickly duck their heads, not noticing the blush adorned the other’s cheeks.
“So when are you going to ask her out?” Asami ventures during the next training session, distracting Kya from gazing at that excellent tank top that Lin seemed to have multiple copies of.
“What? Oh I’m not,” Kya responded vaguely, not looking away from the window.
“Oh come on, she spent all dinner smiling and blushing, I’ve never seen her like that. Even Tenzin asked Korra if she’d been acting weirdly during practice.”
“What did Korra say?” she asked, slightly alarmed by Tenzin noticing Lin’s change when she herself hadn’t particularly noticed anything that she would say would be out of character as they were now friends and so Lin had been more cheerful with her anyway.
“She didn’t say anything, of course, but seriously you two can’t spend your entire lives staring at each other when the other one isn’t looking.”
“I mean I’d noticed that she seemed happier but I thought that that was just because now we’ve started talking often she doesn’t need to be grumpy with me, and she’s started getting on with everyone, actually. It’s purely platonic.”
“Oh come on, all that blushing is not platonic!” Asami scoffed immediately.
“She’s not even gay!”
“Who’s not gay?” Bumi interrupted, grinning. “Oh wait, don’t tell me we’re talking about one particular chief of police?”
“Go away Bumi,” Kya groaned.
“Hey, just wanted to congratulate you on your progress - the blushing and laughing at dinner the other day made it look like a very awkward first date.”
“As I just said, she’s not even gay, and anyway, she dated Tenzin. I could not have picked someone more inappropriate and impossible to be interested in.”
“You don’t get to choose who you fall in love with,” Bumi sing songed, and feigned pain when Kya punched him, hard, in the arm.
“I’m telling you, there’s nothing platonic in how she acts when you’re around. And you should both probably work on your obviousness before Tenzin works it out,” Asami pointed out.
Kya snorted. “Tenzin won’t work it out.”
“I won’t work what out? Why are you all in the hallway?” Tenzin interrupted, and was thankfully unaware of how Kya immediately went bright red.
“We were just admiring how far Korra’s come in her metalbending,” Asami said smoothly and they all turned to look out the window in time to watch Lin knock Korra down again, Korra’s angry muttering almost audible even from where they were stood.
“Yes, well,” he said, and looked at the three of them suspiciously. “Whatever you’re up to, stop it now.” Then he swept back out of the hallway, throwing a concerned glance back over his shoulder.
“Why does he always think I’m up to something?” Bumi complained.
“Well you are trying to convince his sister to seduce his ex, I think that counts as being up to something,” Kyra said in an exasperated tone that could match Lin’s, while Bumi laughed.
“I suppose that’s a fair point. Anyway, I’ll leave you to it. I hope you get to have your second date tonight,” he dodged her punch and laughed again as he left the same way Tenzin had, leaving the two of them to watch as Korra accidentally almost set Lin on fire.
Lin has dinner in her tank top again, but Kya isn’t sitting with her today; she didn’t want to seem overeager by coming to get her after training, and by the time Lin had joined them Bumi had already taken one side and Jinora had the other. Bumi was singing “Lin and Kya sitting in a tree” under his breath again while Kya tried not to stare at Lin too much and Jinora looked confused. Lin seemed to be having some sort of work related conversation with Mako and was blissfully ignorant of Kya’s glances, thought she was guilty of looking at Kya just as much.
“Aunt Kya, why is Uncle Bumi singing about you and Aunt Lin?” Jinora asks politely some time later, and Kya can’t help the sigh that forces it’s way out. She smiles at the teenager as she responds anyway, even though she’s getting rather sick of talking about her feelings for the metalbender.
“Because he’s convinced we’d make a good couple.”
“Oh,” she paused. “That would explain why she’s seemed so much more cheerful recently.”
“Oh no not you too,” Kya groaned, but smiled a little to let her know that she was joking.
“Don’t you like her?”
“No, I do, I just really don’t think she feels the same way.”
“Well, Korra said that about Asami and now look at them.” They both looked across the table to where Korra and Asami were having an animated conversation, elbows brushing because of how close they were sitting.
“I thought they still hadn’t told anyone?”
“We both couldn’t sleep one night before they got together and Korra and I had a conversation about it. They know everyone knows, anyway, they’re just not ready to officially announce it.”
“Even Tenzin knows?”
“He wasn’t even surprised.” Jinora shrugged. “But I do think you should tell her, Aunt Lin, I mean. I’m sure even if she doesn’t return your feelings she’ll be able to deal with it. You’re both adults.”
“Maybe. Not now, though. I think I’ll just stick to staring at her for now.” Kya would be surprised by the lack of interruption from Bumi if she hadn’t had to listen to him and Meelo have a farting noise competition throughout the conversation. She’s just looking up to scold him when Lin looks up at the same time, and all the cliché things happen when their eyes meet. Kya ignores her heartbeat thudding in her ears and concentrates on making a face at her instead. She’s returned with a smile and Lin rolling her eyes, and they both return to their vegetables with a smile, and now that it’s been pointed out Jinora wants to shake both of them; she can’t believe she hadn’t noticed before, and that they hadn’t noticed each other’s interest.
“Evening,” Lin says, sitting on the bench she usually came to when she got tired of company, surprised to find Kya already sitting there.
“Hey Lin, I hope you don’t mind that I stole your spot,” she smiles softly, and Lin immediately notices that it’s not one of the usual megawatt variety that she’d got used to.
“There’s more than enough room for two,” she says, quiet and as comforting as she could manage, so mostly just not mean. Kya’s charmed by the effort, and she smiles in a way which she hopes conveys that she realises that Lin is trying. It’s quiet for a moment, but not uncomfortable, and when Kya looks over again Lin’s looking at the sunset, and she wishes that this moment didn’t seem so ridiculously romantic when there was no chance the other woman felt the same, she wished that the urge to lean over and kiss her wasn’t so strong. Lin finally breaks the silence, and Kya eventually tears her eyes away from dragging across her features, glad that Lin doesn’t look away from the setting sun.
“I would have thought you’d have gone back to the South Pole by now, I wasn’t expecting you to stay,” her voice is quiet, serious.
“Trying to get rid of me?” she responds, smiling a little, but her voice is soft too, and she goes back to serious. “Mum said she didn’t really need me back, and you know, it’s nice to be able to not need to wear seventy-five layers at all times,” she paused again. “It’s good to see everyone, now that everything’s calmed down. I missed the constant mayhem that seems to be present in Republic City.”
“So you’re not going back?” she asks carefully, but quietly, in a voice that Kya can tell is purposefully restrained, like she just wants to make sure that Kya is staying, for definite.
“Not for a while, no. If I get bored I can always go back to helping in the hospital, or I can become Korra’s personal medic,” she laughed, and looked back at the sun, not quite purposefully avoiding Lin’s gaze. “Maybe I’ll have a reason to stay here. At the moment it feels like I do.”
“I’m glad you’re staying,” Lin says slowly, and when Kya manages to meet her eyes again she knows what it means that she actually said that, that her soft voice and quiet gaze show, how Lin tries to communicate without saying something, and she decides to take the plunge, because she’s not sure she can wait for Lin to be ready to be the one to voice it first. Kya leans forward, almost without meaning to, and Lin slides her hand across to cover the gap between their bodies, interlinking her fingers with Kya’s, and Kya can’t help but look down, to smile at their intertwined fingers, and when she looks up Lin’s features are so soft and there’s a tiny smile hovering around her lips, in a sort of uncertain way, and Kya leans forward the whole way this time, on purpose, to kiss the uncertainty from her features.