Vaguely inspired by something else I'm working on that will be shared soon. This is set pre-series and is rather short, compared to some of my recent works. Some spoilers for Lin's past, but nothing specific is mentioned in the story.

Also, if you would like to make a Lin/Tenzin request feel free to message me here! I'm still taking a few more.

Enjoy!


Beholden

"They're not fading."

Tenzin looked up from where he was folding clean clothes on the bed to Lin, standing in the master bathroom in front of the large oval mirror over the sink. Her head was turned to the side and he could tell from her twisted posture that one hand was touching her face, the other supporting herself against the counter. He set the robe in his hands back down on the duvet, frowning in concern.

"What isn't fading, Lin?" he asked, coming into the bathroom as well. His question was answered without her response, though, when he immediately saw her prodding the two long scars on her cheek, pressing the skin angrily and leaving it red so the marks looked new again. They were no longer raw, but the last six months had done very little aside from let the wounds heal.

"Let them be," he murmured. He had stopped close behind her, wrapping his arms to either side and gently taking her hand in one of his to draw it away from her face. "Poking won't help."

"I want them to go away, Tenzin. I don't want to look at these horrible things every time I see my face now." Her eyes were narrowed, still staring at her reflection with very harsh judgment. The words were heavy, laden with many others left unsaid.

Tenzin leaned forward and kissed her neck, not wanting to disrupt her thoughts but also wanting to distract her enough to let them go on her own. "You're still beautiful."

She turned slightly into his touch, her callous expression losing some of its stormy fury. "I know that, Airhead," she said with a small smile. Her lips turned down again quickly, though, as her eyes found his in the mirror, able to see the scars even as she watched him. "I'm going to be reminded of that day for every other, the rest of my life. I'm going to be forced to remember what my sister did to me, and everything my mother has done, every time I see myself. All because of these awful marks, and because of Suyin's inability to take responsibility for her own actions."

She moved her other hand, the one not held in Tenzin's, to her face again to trace her fingers lightly over the raised, discolored skin. "Of the two of them, Ma and Su – it's me, who carries the visible scars of their mistakes. How is that fair, Tenzin?"

Lin's eyes were clear, but his filled with tears as she spoke so faintly and he lowered his head to rest his chin on her shoulder, not breaking her troubled gaze. "I don't know."

"I hate them," she said quietly, not continuing to specify whether she was referring to the scars or to her mother and sister.

Tenzin tightened his arms around her, and she lowered her hand to rest over his where it was on her stomach. He noticed some of the tension leaving her body after a moment. "I love you," he told her firmly, turning his head only slightly to press his lips to her neck again. The heat of her skin was soothing and he closed his eyes, nuzzling his face against her. Her thumb rubbed small, calm circles across the back of his hand. "No matter what happens, Lin. You are not bound inside this shell your mother and sister have forced upon you, you never will be. You are your own person and I love you for who you are – scars or no. You are brave, and smart, and beautiful, and strong, and so many other wonderful things, and I love you."

"Thank you, Tenzin," she whispered, the slightest hitch catching her voice and vanishing before it could hold. "I love you, too. And I suppose…"

He felt her crane her head around, looking at the marks again. "I suppose if I'm going to be chief one day, these will look fierce enough to keep people afraid of me without having to try."

Tenzin laughed and kissed her, gently pulling her away from the mirror now that she was ready to let it go.