Spoilers for the Season 4 finale. Set not long after the last episode.
This was an idea that came into my head not long after the show finished, though I only wrote it a few weeks back. My usual Lin/Tenzin isn't found here (instead only these two wonderful ladies are featured), but will continue soon!
"Just a bit more forward..."
Lin nodded once and brought her arms backward, pulling with them the giant sheet of metal forward a hair. She could feel beads of sweat rolling down between her shoulder blades, but she held still as Asami leaned in quickly with her soldering iron to reattach the broken wing to the hummingbird's body. These were the inner parts of the machine, made of steel, later to be covered with thin – yet extremely durable – layers of platinum.
It only took another minute or so before Asami withdrew, turning off the iron and lowering it to her side. "Perfect!" she said with an appraising smile. "Thank you, Lin. Your help is making this go so much faster, I don't know why I never thought to ask a Metalbender before."
Lin dropped her stance and ran the back of her wrist across her forehead to brush off the sweat already forming there before it fell to her eyes. The truth of the matter was, of course, that Hiroshi never would have let benders anywhere near his work. She was probably the first one to ever feel the power of his inventions through a sense like this, intimate and close. Rather than speak any of this aloud, she merely nodded again.
"Korra tried to lend a hand," Asami continued, a small chuckle accompanying the words. "I think the task was a bit beyond her."
"She'll get the hang of it eventually. These, though," Lin said, gesturing to the long line of hummingbirds and tanks, "are tricky. A lot to feel around to find exactly the right piece to bend. Maybe not the best recreational project to start with after all the work she's put into battle training."
The younger woman laughed, a gentle sound that brought a lopsided grin to Lin's lips. There were still four machines left to work on, but the one they had just stepped away from was finished for the time being. She stretched her arms over her head, glad she had taken her armor off a while ago and feeling her muscles lose some of their rigidity. She'd been a bit hesitant, at first, to join the so-called 'Team Avatar' here in the factory that morning, but slowly the other three had dwindled away – boredom, food, and heat the main factors – until it was only the two of them left. Now it was nearly dinnertime. A full day of work.
"I really do appreciate you coming, Lin," Asami said quietly, not looking at her as she packed her tools away into their protective cases at her feet.
Even though she was the one in the group Lin had the least contact with over the years, the one she knew so little about, Asami was the only one who used her given name so freely. Mako, of course, called her "Chief" every day. Bolin was either too infatuated with her or too intimidated to call her anything but, and Korra still went back and forth depending on their interactions or moods. Surprising, then, the kid she was least close to chose her first name, and used it with such respect.
Lin watched her, noticing the slowing movements and downcast gaze now that her attention was not on her work. She had been so happy with Korra, smiling and laughing when they were together hours ago, that seeing her alone in the moment, without the other girl here to bring out that happiness, she could find the grief that still lined her face. Apparently they were more alike than she had first given credit, both able to hide their emotions from the world so easily.
Guilt pooled in her stomach as she remained silent.
"Asami," she finally said with a sigh. She looked up, surprised by the resigned tone of her name, and Lin came a step forward when she had her attention. "I feel as though I owe you an apology."
"An apology? Whatever for?"
"For your father."
Asami lowered her head quickly, and Lin covered the small distance between them to put her hand on her shoulder. "Truly, if I had known asking for his assistance would lead to his death, I never would have brought him to join our resistance. I would die myself before allowing someone in my care to be harmed. I am very sorry."
Asami sniffed and, though her cheeks were flushed with sadness when she raised her head again, her eyes were clear. "I don't blame you. I never did."
"I am still terribly sorry for your loss."
"Thank you," she murmured, blinking quickly and looking down at her boots.
"I know you have your friends and it's clear they care about you greatly - but if you ever need - " Lin searched quickly for the right way to articulate what she was trying to convey, her fingers clutching Asami's shoulder for a brief moment before the tension released itself. "If you ever need an adult who had a similar experience, growing up without her father, you have me, too."
It seemed those words were most unexpected, judging by her expression, and Asami opened her mouth to reply. Anything she was going to say, though, was interrupted by the sound of Korra, Mako, and Bolin returning quite loudly into the vast, echoing workspace, arms laden with food for themselves and their friend.
"Asami, oh my gosh, you won't believe what Bolin did outside," Korra started as soon as she caught sight of her, already laughing about the story she was preparing to tell.
Lin backed away without further intrusion, bending down to gather her armor. She paused for just a moment, watching as the group immediately fell into comfortable chatting and companionship, and left the room unnoticed.