This is set near the beginning of Season 4, when Kuvira is just starting to show her power and thirst for the Kingdom. Spoilers for most of the season, really, but especially those earlier episodes where the plot with Su and Kuvira is laid out. Not as Lin/Tenzin heavy as my stuff usually is, but I still put some in here. How could I not?
Also, I am still taking Lin/Tenzin requests! Please message me here if you have any you would like to discuss.
"No, no, Lin, that scroll should go with the books on meditation."
Tenzin swooped over her and plucked the scroll from her hand before she could tuck it in with the other scrolls on the shelf in his study. Lin, who was sitting on the floor in front of a squat bookshelf with hundreds of other scrolls just like the one he had snatched in a mess of piles around her and only a few already replaced in his preposterous system on the shelves, turned to glare at him.
"But it came from this collection!" she snapped in irritation, picking up another by the same ancient author and studying the title on the wrapper. "You're only going to get the room even more confused than it was. When you asked for my help organizing this disaster I was under the assumption you were just going to let me do it for you, since you've always commented on how neat my own office is. This is ridiculous."
"It is not ridiculous," he told her with a frown. "I merely have my own system."
"Yeah, a ridiculous system."
"Lin, please. It's not that bad. Besides," he added before she could come back with a joking response. "This isn't my office in City Hall, where anyone could come in to see, it's my personal office in my own home. Therefore, we're doing it my own way."
She held up her hands in submission, papers falling all over her lap. "Fine, fine. Just don't come complaining to me next week when you can't find a damn thing. Remember it was your doing, not mine."
An incensed call down the hallway caught both their attention, and they looked at one another in confusion before turning their heads to the open door when the cry came again, almost able to make out specific words as it filtered through. Lin opened her mouth to ask Tenzin if he knew what was going on, but she wasn't given the chance.
"Lin Beifong!" the yell came a third time, much closer now. "How could you!"
Lin merely raised her eyebrows, but Tenzin leapt to his feet, not wanting any part of this as the voice was recognized by them at the same time.
Tenzin was just sidling from the door in a rush when Suyin bustled in around him. Lin remained seated on the floor, a furious expression pulling her lips tight as she set her sister with an aloof gaze. "I thought you had left already," was all she said as Su stood there, red-faced and angry before her.
"You thought I had left!" she repeated incredulously, throwing her hands in the air. "Thought I had left! I've been trying to find you for four days, Lin! I came by your house so many times, I almost began to think you moved without telling me. I even left messages with your secretary, didn't he tell you?"
"Of course he did, Hutou is a wonderful secretary. I told him to ignore you, too."
"Lin! What is the matter with you!" Suyin took several steps closer, putting her hands on her hips in a way that was so reminiscent of Toph that just the gesture made Lin bristle. She stood as well.
"Isn't it obvious?" she growled. "I don't want to speak with you right now. Leave."
Su pointed an accusing finger toward her chest, leaning forward belligerently. "This isn't your home, Lin, it's Tenzin's. You can't tell me what to do here. Though I can't say I'm surprised to see you still run to him every time you have a problem."
"Fine. Then leave me. Get away from me." Lin smacked her hand away, her cheeks spotting with crimson as her anger built at the jab with Tenzin. "I assumed I made it perfectly clear I did not want anything else to do with you while you were in Republic City, so go home to your precious family and let me deal with the mess you're leaving in your wake, just like I always have."
"What are you going on about?" Suyin asked. Her voice lost some of its venom with her confusion, but her eyebrows narrowed in concern now.
"You should have just sucked it up, Su, and accepted the position!" Lin yelled, her fury coming on fully now that her sister had pulled it out with her pokes and prods. "If you had taken the responsibility the Earth Kingdom was so desperate to throw on you, this whole situation with Kuvira could have been completely avoided!" Suyin opened her mouth to interrupt, startled at this revelation that had obviously been brewing for a long while, but Lin wouldn't have it. "You are so concerned for your family and the people you claim to love, when in actuality you are selfish for not stepping up when the world needed you!"
"Selfish? You're calling me selfish, Lin, when you're the one who destroyed your own life by refusing to compromise with a man you claimed to love?"
"Don't you dare, Suyin, don't you dare go there!" She didn't care who heard now as she screamed, her sister's tone matching her own as it continued to raise. "I give myself to this city every day of my life! The least you could have done was give a few years of yours to the Earth Kingdom until that stupid kid was old enough to take the throne. But no, perfect Suyin has her perfect family in her perfect city, and she can't leave them, spirits know why!"
"Oh, like you would have done it if they'd asked you?" Su shot back.
"Of course I would have," Lin snarled, her lip curling. "But they didn't ask me, did they? They asked you. And when you said no, Kuvira stepped in for you – and you didn't stop her, or control her, or stand up to her when you saw things getting out of hand. You went back home and left it all to her, didn't you?"
Suyin was silent for a moment, wavering back and watching her furious sister as she sucked in a deep breath in an attempt to rein in her temper. Her heart thudded angrily at the insinuation she was making and she jutted her chin in defiance. "I didn't have a choice."
Lin threw her hands in the air before letting them drop down to rest aggressively on her hips. The movement was silent without her armor, but still intimidating. "You've always had a choice, Su! From the time we were teenagers, you have always had a choice!"
"Are you trying to tell me this is all my fault, then?" she hedged, frowning deeply. "That everything Kuvira has done is my fault?"
"No," Lin said through her teeth, "she made her own decisions as well. I simply want you to own your actions and admit that you could have helped to avoid this situation if you had made the responsible choice to begin with."
"And what makes you think I would have been able to pull off being regent for the entire kingdom?" Su asked bitterly.
Lin gave a barking laugh, not losing any of her anger. "You wouldn't have ruled like Kuvira, for starters."
Feeling deflated all of a sudden, Su sank into the chair in front of Tenzin's desk, lowering her face into her hand. "What are we going to do?" she murmured. "What if she refuses to give power over to Wu? What if -"
"Then we'll deal with it when it happens," her sister interjected, remaining where she was standing and crossing her arms. "Right now we have to focus on the reports and complaints about her army we're receiving from towns in the Earth Kingdom. Tenzin's Aribenders are doing what they can for the time being."
"Is that what you meant? By 'dealing with my mess'?"
Lin sighed and looked away, almost ashamed at her words now but not quite. "Yes."
"So you did run to him with your problem," Suyin said slyly, though the words were meant to sting. "Are you really complaining, you getting to see him every day now?"
Lin took a sharp breath through her nose before replying. "You were there when he offered," she said shortly. "You and the rest of the city, remember? And I would appreciate it," she added, putting unnecessary emphasis on the word, "if you would stop saying such wretched things like that just to get a rise out of me."
"You're right, I'm sorry," she gave in without additional argument. Lin sucked her teeth silently, recognizing that was all the apology she would receive. "Do you hate me, Lin? Do you hate me for not taking that horrible throne? You know I despise monarchy, there is just no place for it in this modern world we live -"
"I know, I know," Lin interrupted crossly.
"If you understand, surely you can't hate me for it." Su stood and paced to stand in front of her sister, gazing at her imploringly. "You love me, you do. You told me so."
"I thought I was going to die in that battle."
"Oh, but you didn't." Suyin smiled as if their fight was finished, though Lin continued to scowl. "We both survived just fine, and we'll survive this as well."
Lin rolled her eyes and turned her face away abruptly when Su reached out to touch her scars absentmindedly, something she only ever let Tenzin do. Their conversation was at an end, brought on the same terms as Su had started it – her own. "Go home," Lin told her as quietly as she could manage. "Go be with your family." And away from the mess, she added silently to herself.
"I simply can't wait to put platinum bands on Kuvira's wrists," Suyin said as she fluffed her hair, rearranging it to hide the fact she had just been screaming at someone and had gotten it all out of sorts. "What a beast she's turned into, hasn't she."
"You taught her everything she knows," Lin pointed out, sitting back on the floor and gazing listlessly at the mass of scrolls Tenzin left behind. She reached for one blindly, not even reading the wrapping to find out what it contained before sliding it promptly onto the shelf. Another one replaced it in her hands. She wanted Suyin to leave. She wanted to be alone now.
"Mm, yes, she was a wonderful student, and I loved her so dearly. A shame, she had to throw all that away. Please, Lin, don't ignore me again," her sister said in a tone that sounded pleading but truly wasn't.
"All right," was her dutiful response, even if she didn't mean it at that moment.
"I'll be back in Republic City in a few weeks," Su continued, her voice growing sweet now. "Shall I see you then? We need to catch up."
"All right," she said again. She didn't watch as Suyin left the room, her metal-clad flats clacking smartly on the scuffed wooden floors until she was gone from the main house. She lowered her head as soon as she was alone, going over the argument-turned-cheerful-conversation and feeling her chest constrict painfully.
Tenzin came into the study again, calling to her hesitantly. She turned her head to see him standing in the doorway from the corner of her eye, giving him silent permission to join her. She was rather certain he had heard the majority of what had been said – yelled – anyway. No point hiding from him.
"Are you all right?" he asked softly, kneeling beside her and taking the scroll she had mindlessly picked up from the floor out of her hands. He let it fall to join the others.
She took a breath into her lungs and let it out slowly. "Not exactly," she admitted, the ache still hurting. "She's so bloodthirsty for Kuvira now and yet…" She shook her head and looked at him fully, her eyes sad but dry. "Su will always deny her responsibility, even if it kills her. I don't know why I still try."
"She's frightened," Tenzin pointed out gently, putting his hand on Lin's shoulder.
"So am I!" she snapped, though she didn't shake off his touch as it began to soothe away some of her anger. "So are you, and Pema and your children, and my officers – we're all frightened of what Kuvira is going to do next. But Suyin…she's just going to continue living her perfect, happy life in ignorance until the problem shows up on her doorstep. Even then…it will never be her fault. She will simply get the glory for cleaning up the mess."
Tenzin could only nod, seeing the truth in her words and not having any of his own to ease her pain.
"I do love her, Tenzin," she whispered, leaning into him slightly when he wrapped his arm around her shoulders.
"I know you do, Lin."