Spoilers for the end of Season 3.
This one takes place during the final episode of S3, almost immediately after the battle with Zaheer is finished. Going on the assumption, of course, everyone would have taken the police airships home. How else would they have gotten back to Republic City with everyone so wounded, right? Convenience of airships!
For those who have made requests - they're coming! I've been sick this week and was a bit wary of writing anything while taking spiked cough syrup. I dug this out of my "Avatar" folder to perhaps tide everyone over?
Enjoy, and have a wonderful day!
Lin slid open the door of the infirmary in the airship where Tenzin was resting as quietly as she could. The healer who had just left told her in hushed tones he had fallen into a dazed sleep a few minutes earlier as he finished his work, and she didn't want to wake him. Her desire to check on him still outweighed that, though, and she peered cautiously inside.
He was rolled to his side on the uncomfortable cot in line with four others bolted to the wall. Thankfully this was the smaller infirmary used for quarantine or calm – Korra and several of the Airbenders were being treated in the larger, better equipped one next door – and he was alone. His torn robes were folded neatly on the table near his bed, beside a shallow basin of water and several dry cloths. He did, indeed, appear to be asleep, oblivious to her appearance as she gazed at him with a heavy heart.
Her boots snapping smartly against the metal floor, she made her way slowly to his bedside. His face was still grimy, the healer having only minded his rather severely wounded body, and she dipped one of the cloths into the water to run over his forehead.
His voice was hoarse as he came to slightly, and Lin frowned vaguely at her name. "No, Tenzin, it's me. Do you want me to find her for you? She's with your children in my personal compartment, she didn't want them bothering you while you slept."
"No, don't leave," he croaked, opening his eyes to slits enough to see her. There was pain and fear written in his expression, and Lin kneeled by the side of the bed he was curled toward so he didn't have to focus so hard. "Don't go."
"I won't," she said softly. She rewetted the cloth and pressed it against his face as he closed his eyes again. "Go back to sleep."
"It hurts too badly," he whispered to her as though confiding a deep confession he had been trying hard to hide.
Tears stung the corners of her eyes and she blinked quickly, her throat becoming tight regardless of her efforts. She placed her other hand on the crest of his head over the arch of his arrow, the skin flushed and warm from the distress of his body, and her tears spilled over silently. "Oh, Tenzin."
"Don't cry – please don't cry." The entreaty was frail, his words too weak to put much effort behind them. But she used the motion of dipping her cloth back in the basin as a subtle excuse to rub her knuckles over her cheeks.
"I am not crying," she told him, leaving her free hand against his head and running the cloth over the back of his neck in an attempt to cool him off. "It's just a bit dusty in this room made of metal, don't you agree?" Before he could respond – not that a retort was coming quickly – she asked, "Would you like me to bring the healer back?"
Tenzin made a negative-sounding noise in his throat. "Korra needs him more than I do."
"We have three healers on this airship, are you sure?"
"All right." She sighed and leaned back flat on her calves to take the weight off her knees.
There was a quiet, though still echoing, knock on the door of the small infirmary. Lin glanced in that direction as Tenzin's eyes opened fully. He reached out and feebly grabbed at her wrist as her touch left his face. She hadn't risen yet, and their gazes met. "Don't go. Please, stay with me."
Lin stood, turning her hand to let Tenzin's slide down into her grasp so she could squeeze his fingers. The knock came again, more hesitant this time, and she gave him a lopsided smile. She dropped the damp cloth on the table by the bowl. "Give me just a minute. I'll be right back, I promise."
His eyes closed again and she released his hand so she could walk to the door before the person there knocked a third time. It was one of her officers – not a surprise, really – letting her know of their progress to Republic City and that Zaheer was no longer spewing the verbal abuse he had been when they had first brought him aboard. Several people were asking for her, wanting to know what to do now, and, without giving herself a chance to second-guess her choice, she told the officer to direct all questions to Suyin until further notice. She did not want to be disturbed until they had landed or unless there was a life or death emergency.
The officer gave her a deep bow and left so Lin could slide the door closed. Su would complain if she actually found out, but honestly Lin didn't care much. It would only be for another hour or so, nothing would happen that would need her sister's attention anyway.
"Important?" Tenzin asked softly when she returned.
"Not even a little," she said easily. He didn't respond, and she leaned over to press her lips to his temple once, then a second time to let the kiss linger. "I'm sorry I wasn't there," she murmured, sinking to her knees again and lowering her head to rest against the side of his. Her arms supported herself on the mattress next to him, wary of putting too much weight on his injuries. "I'm so sorry we didn't get there in time for me to fight beside you. I should have been there."
"It's all right, Lin," he began to reply breathlessly, likely not even completely aware of what she was saying to him.
But she turned her face slightly to bring her nose closer to his, brushing against his cheek and stopping his words before he could attempt to continue forcing himself to speak. "I am so sorry you had to use such violence," she murmured, her soul aching for him. "I know how much you must despise yourself for it. I wish I could have fought for you, so you didn't have to."
Tenzin's arm, resting limply on the blankets, lifted weakly to wrap around her, falling to the curve of her waist without effort. An awkward embrace, Lin sitting up and him on his side, but neither cared. She relaxed slightly against him, still aware of his pains.
"I thought they were going to kill you," she told him so quietly her voice only just met his ear. "Oh, Tenzin, I was so scared we weren't going to reach you in time."
"I would have died if you hadn't come when you did." She felt his fingers moving against the metal of her hauberk, instinctively searching for skin that was completely covered as they rubbed circles on her hip for her comfort as much as his own. "And you, Lin?" he asked, his eyes barely opening to find hers so close. "I heard you had a brush with death yourself against P'li."
"I'm fine, I'm just fine." She grinned faintly, the adrenaline finally starting to wear off to leave her limbs sore and tired despite having seen a healer less than an hour ago. "We're both fine now."
"Yes," Tenzin agreed indistinctly. He was starting to drift off again, and he blinked up at her once more, appreciating her nearness, before closing his eyes heavily. "You're not going to leave once I fall asleep? You'll stay here?"
"I'm staying right here by your side until we land in the city," Lin told him firmly. She raised herself enough to run her hand over his forehead, hoping to soothe him physically and emotionally with her touch. He didn't move his arm.
She didn't respond, instead reaching again for the previously discarded cloth and rewetting it to resume cleaning his dirty, beaten skin as he passed into unawareness.