Goodness, another one. I truly can't help myself. This is so fluffy it'll make your teeth rot, though, so here. Have at it. Not a request specifically, but avatarfanlin said she wanted something fluffy and I pay attention, I promise! Something else I'm finishing up will come later this week, most likely.
Set after Season 3, during that lapse of time between 3 and 4. No spoilers.
Lin sat on the roof of her building, leaning back against the railings as she let her feet dangle from the edge without fear to watch the sun begin its descent over her city. The slanted roofs around her were glittering with golds and yellows, reflecting back the light to make the skyline dazzling. She pulled one leg up to rest her chin on her knee, eyes falling down to the streets below where people were whiling away the rest of their day without noticing her high overhead.
The briefest uptake in the breeze was the only hint she had Tenzin was coming to join her, and she turned her head to just catch sight of him as he folded his glider and landed on the flat of the roof behind her.
"I didn't know you were still using those things," she said with a small quirk of the lips, nodding once in the glider's direction.
Tenzin propped it against the metal water storage and walked over to where she was, crossing his arms against the rail above her head as he said, "And I didn't know you still came up here. Old habits, I suppose."
She hummed agreement, wrapping a bare arm around her bent leg and returning her chin to her knee. She had removed her armor a while ago and left it the armoire in her bedroom, and the cool early evening air felt wonderful against her skin. She grinned wistfully. "I don't much, now. Far too busy. I was lucky with a short afternoon today." She paused for a moment before asking, "Did you see me up here as you were flying by and just decide to stop in?"
Tenzin looked down to see the top of her graying head, her hair picking up the sheen of the sun and reminding him of all the nights they had spent on this roof together in the past. "I was coming to see you anyway," he admitted after a moment. "I heard you had left the station early and I wanted to invite you to dinner."
"Ah, how kind."
"I take it by your tone the answer is a no, then?" he pressed with a slightly unhappy chuckle.
Lin glanced up at him as though realizing for the first time that he had truly come to spend time with her. She grinned at him in a silent apology for her lack of tact, extending an arm in invitation to sit beside her on the ledge. "I'm not hungry," she gave in way of explanation. "Stress, isn't it, that always kills my appetite? Besides, I have some bread downstairs that needs to be eaten before it goes stale."
He leapt over the rail with a gust of air and settled easily next to her, their legs almost brushing against one another. "What are you stressing about?"
"Many things," she replied vaguely. She sighed, letting the breath fade through her nose for a long moment before drawing another one. Tenzin was content to leave her answer there, and perhaps that was why she continued speaking through the silence he allowed to fall between them. "I had to let three of my detectives go yesterday," she murmured, gaze back on the streets below. "I wonder, sometimes, if everyone who works for me understands how difficult it is to make that final decision. I'm not evil or mean or some kind of raging beast who enjoys others' suffering and it frustrates me, hearing those flares of rumors after I fire someone. They die down after a few weeks," she added with a wave of her hand, dismissing both her own thoughts and Tenzin's before he could even speak, "and life goes on as always."
"But it would still be nice," Tenzin continued softly for her, "if they would not begin at all."
He raised his head suddenly, an idea occurring to him. "Say, do you remember how we used to enjoy relieving your stress years ago?"
Lin's face snapped to his, her cheeks stained with red as she took in his question. "Wait, now, Tenzin -"
"Oh, no, that came out wrong, I didn't mean – no. My glider," he stammered, his own face flushing horribly at his misstatement. "Riding my glider with me. Let's fly out to the north coast and away from all this for an hour or two."
She blinked at him for a moment, more surprised at his real suggestion than the one she had mistaken. "I – what?"
"Truly, Lin, let's go!" He sounded excited now, and he went back over the rail to pick up his glider, turning to her with a beaming smile on his face. "We used to do things like this all the time – you know it will make you feel better now, you know it will."
She ducked under the railing to join him on the flat of the roof, still unsure, though her heart was starting to thud with anticipation at the prospect. "I'm not…I don't have my cables with me."
Tenzin pouted at her and she almost laughed at the ridiculous expression, so out of place on his adult face and reminding her so much of his younger self. "Do you seriously think I would drop you? You don't need your cables."
"I weigh a lot more now than I did in my twenties," she continued to put off stubbornly.
Her voice was starting to sound less stern, however, and he jumped at the falter in her shield. "Doubtful. Come on, Lin, it will be great!"
He held out his hand to her and she stared at it for a long second before placing her own hesitantly in his palm. His fingers wrapped around hers immediately, pulling her close and turning his back to her so she could hook one leg over his hip to hoist herself up, her arms going over his shoulders and letting her head rest near his, ears touching. He opened his glider with one hand and held it tightly, already calling the right streams of air to carry them both as he circled his free arm around her other leg. They purposefully ignored how intimately this position situated themselves against one another, and she only needed to turn her face the slightest bit to see his.
"Bloody spirits," Lin muttered, not sure any longer if she was feeling a thrill or some ghastly regret in her belly now as he crouched just before jumping up and letting the air grab the wings of his glider to pull them high into the air.
The regret vanished as they rose. Her lips opened in a wide smile, feeling the wind buffeting them on all sides, rolling off and around, and pushing them onward. It was truly exhilarating. She used her cables to fly through the sky as she wished, but this – this was genuine freedom, with only the air and Tenzin keeping her afloat.
He was right.
She had loved doing this with him when they were younger, riding with him wherever they chose. She loved this feeling of distancing herself from the world, of leaving everything behind – fully behind, without any metal to feel the pulsing earth through as she moved. Disconnecting from everything always allowed her to come back to it all stronger, more focused, and when she would finally place her feet on the ground again after these flights her mind would feel clear, her bending centered, her heart lighter.
"Where did you say you were taking me?" she asked, not having to speak too terribly loud for how close their faces were.
"The coast?" he offered. "The northern edge is usually empty by now. How does that sound?"
"Sounds pretty damn good."
They fell into silence, the wind around them soothing with its presence as Tenzin continued to bend it along their journey. It wasn't a long one, all told, only another twenty minutes of gentle guidance and subtle changes to the airflow before he started to turn them downward. Lin squinted through the twilight to see the beach below and as she did –
"Watch out!" she cried, pointing at the dark mass of a sand dune that seemed to have appeared before them from the dimness, high and imposing as it suddenly blocked the view of the ocean. She pulled her hand back and ducked her head against his shoulder, bracing for the collision.
In the moment between seeing it and their impact, Tenzin snapped his glider closed to protect it from damage and used a small bubble of air to turn himself around so he could grab Lin fully into his arms as they hit the slanted dune, tumbling down it together. White sand was flung everywhere as they fell, limbs tangling as they rolled one over the other until, finally, they came to a stop at the bottom.
"Sorry!" Tenzin sputtered as soon as he realized they were no longer moving. He was on top of her and he quickly reached down to touch her face, looking for injuries. "I'm so sorry, I was distracted by – I was distracted. Are you all right?"
Lin stared up at him, flat on her back and feeling sand itching all over her arms, made worse as his weight pushed down on her. But, seeing his horrified expression, all she could do was burst with laughter, the noise coming from deep in her chest. "Tenzin," she panted between chuckles, "Oh, Tenzin, I can't believe – I can't believe you crashed! Noble leader of the Air Nation taken down by a sand dune! A-and you have sand in your beard!" She raised one hand, shaking with her guffaws, toward him and let it drop again.
She could only just see his blush through the deepening dusk, but she didn't apologize.
"Here," she said breathily, her lungs still tight with snickers. "Let me get this for you." She brought her hand up again and waved her fingers once, bending the sand from the hair on his face with the simple gesture. "Spirits, you look ridiculous. I can't imagine the state I must be in."
"You look perfect, as always," he said lightly, noticing then he was still entirely on top of her and starting to remove himself before his blush could return with a vengeance.
"Wait," Lin murmured, quite mischievous as she shifted her hand to the collar of his robes and up the back of his neck. Tenzin stopped, surprised and completely motionless as she continued to move leisurely. "More sand," she explained needlessly, a sly smile on her lips and her gaze focused on some random spot of his clothing rather than his face. It was an act to keep them together and touching, clearly, though he wasn't in much of a hurry to rush things himself. "You're quite covered, you see."
"Yes," he agreed wholeheartedly, resisting the urge to fling even more sand on himself for her – or just roll them around in it again so she could enjoy removing it all. She seemed content to stay where she was for the time being and he didn't want to disturb the peace they had found themselves in. One misstep and the spell would break.
Very slowly, he brushed his knuckles across her jaw, bringing her startled eyes to his. "I've missed that sound, Lin."
"Your laughter," he told her honestly. "You never laugh now."
"I rarely have anything to laugh about," she specified quietly, her fingers lifting up to trace across the back of his head without breaking contact with his skin, "so no, I do not laugh very much. It felt nice to, I'll admit."
He cupped her cheek, keeping her looking at him as he drank her in greedily, not even trying to hide it. They both flushed. "We'll do this again, whenever you want."
Her voice was soft, whispering when she replied. "All right."
The world was coming back around them, they could both feel it, and Tenzin lowered his forehead to hers for the briefest of moments before rolling away from her. He got unsteadily to his feet, reaching down to help her up next to him. "Let's at least go feel the surf, since we came all the way out here."
She left her hand clasped tightly in his as they walked slowly toward the gently churning waves.
"At least you didn't drop me."
"I would never."