This is written as a request for Amira Elizabeth.
All Their Light follows the loose timeline set out by Warrior Raging and Diminuendo, the one-shot that followed it. I'm sure most of you who will be reading this have already read Warrior (I love seeing all your familiar names!), but the main thing to take from that, really, is the ending and where it left Lin and Tenzin together.
And speaking of Miss Amira Elizabeth – I am going to do a bit of shameless promotion for her for just a second. She just started a promotion on her Tumblr in an effort to raise a bit of money. I have a link to her Tumblr on my bio here, if anyone who does not already follow her there is willing to go take a look.
Now, on to the first chapter! Enjoy!
All Their Light
Lin sorted through paperwork, setting piles aside for filing in the archives and what needed to stay readily available. She was trying to keep a close watch on the time, the clock on her desk steadily ticking away to seven in the evening. It was only just after six, she still had time before she had to leave, and she wanted to get this particular project finished to leave for a few of the late shift to handle to be completely done by morning. She was over it, reliving all these cases, and wanted it out of her sight until the next big overhaul in two years.
She looked up at both her name and the timid knock to see Jaluu, a young man who had been newly appointed to sergeant of his division, looking at her with a nervous expression. His third shift with this position was that evening. Lin beckoned him inside, setting the thick file in her hand back to the desktop.
"Something I can help you with, Sergeant?" she asked with a small hint of a smile as he closed her door and came inside to sit across from her.
Jaluu sighed and pursed his lips, eyes darting from the stacks of paper and scrolls and files to the large windows where heavy clouds were gathering outside in the cold winter sky to the bonsai tree sitting nearby. Lin waited patiently for him to continue. "Well," he finally repeated, meeting her steady gaze. "I think there might be an issue with Shun – you know, he's in my unit -"
"I know," Lin interrupted gently. "Why do you think there is a problem?"
"He keeps…well, he's been talking back to me the last two days. And he's not giving me any of his reports directly, he's giving them to Sergeant Zellek instead."
"Sergeant Zellek is no longer Shun's commanding officer," Lin said with disdain. "He was reassigned when you were given his position. Did you ask Shun why he was doing this?"
Jaluu nodded, wringing his hands together. "He didn't say anything to me. I'm not sure what to do, Chief."
"I see," she murmured. She glanced quickly at the clock again, checking the time. Still plenty before she had to rush out the door to meet Tenzin. "All right, let's discuss this and see what we can figure out."
Lin let herself into her apartment a few hours later, desperately looking forward to a hot meal for dinner and an early night, maybe even a chance to read. There was still some of the soup Tenzin had made a few days ago in the icebox, she could heat that for them both and bring her book to the couch. Blissful, is how that sounded.
"It started to snow on my way home, can you believe it?" she asked as she took off her coat to hang on the hook beside his cloak. "Early this year. It's going to be a long winter." She paused, though, when she caught sight of him sitting at the dining room table with his head lowered into his hands. "Tenzin?" she asked, growing concerned.
"You're late," he mumbled. "We were supposed to leave thirty minutes ago."
Lin shook her head in confusion at his words. "Late? Late for - oh, oh no, the dinner party. Give me just a second, I'll go ch-"
The anger in that one small phrase stopped her before she could fully turn, and she spun to look at him again in genuine surprise. "I'm sorry, Tenzin, Jaluu was having a problem with one of his subordinates and he needed my help. I am simply no longer used to having obligations outside of work, is all, it will take me a bit of time to remember what this is like."
"I see," he said softly, eyes narrowed as he rose from the chair. "So I am merely an obligation to you."
"No!" she replied quickly, aghast when she realized how he had taken what she said. "That is not what I meant, Tenzin, you know it wasn't." She closed the distance between them, reaching out a hand to touch his arm. He was rigid under her palm and her chest clenched. "These events, the silly parties -"
"This silly party happens to be very important to me!" he interrupted, shaking off her hand. "Tsung is ready to give us access to his entire estate to help rebuild the Air Temples, all you have to do is show up with me, if that's not too difficult!"
Her face fell, hurt and upset at the insinuation she didn't care about him or his nation. "Tenzin! Come now, surely you don't truly believe -"
"I'm leaving," he said over her again. "If you care to join me for this dinner you find so beneath you, I suppose I will see you there."
It was a tactic he had taken up in their youth, interrupting her before she could get a good word in during a fight, and he knew it pushed her buttons quickly - just as leaving in the middle of a spat did. He only did either of those things when he was truly angry himself and wanted to drag her down to his level. It took a great deal of effort to resist the temptation he was dangling in front of her.
"Tenzin," she called entreatingly to him as he stalked to the entryway, but he didn't respond and all she could do was watch after him in growing anger when he slammed the door as he left.
She stood there in the stifling silence that fell for a long moment, taking several deep breaths in an attempt to keep her fury from building. It worked - slowly - and she took a step back out of the dining room. There was a part of her, the very angry part, that wanted to let him attend that stupid event alone. But the caring part of her, the one that knew he was just as hurt as she was, urged her to the bedroom to change out of her uniform and into something suitable for presentation to a very wealthy man awaiting her own attendance as promised.
She remembered this man, Tsung. He was a person who enjoyed seeing pairs as tangible things. An odd trait that she herself found displeasing, but she still reached for the scarlet gown she knew would match Tenzin's handsome robes. It would make a good impression on their patron.
This was not Pema's fault by any means, but Tenzin had gotten himself spoiled, having her at his beck and call over the years. A wife ready to put on her pretty acolyte robes for nice functions, to play the part as needed whenever he asked. She wondered, quite suddenly, if Pema had ever tired of that, of having to tend to such things so often. Lin understood it came with Tenzin's position, that his public life was more political than her own was most of the time, but she had truly forgotten just how many functions he had to go to. Councilman, Airbender, representative of the city - all of those things required so much of his time. Hers now, as well, and she would just have to accept that.
She dressed quickly and rushed out the door only twenty minutes behind him, heels clacking onto the cobbled streets as she looked around for a hired car to bring her to the outer edge of the city where the larger, more extravagant houses were.
The party, it turned out, was a large and rather boisterous one. A small band was playing inside, the music calling to many couples dancing away in the ballroom and still loud out through the rest of the house into the grounds as she walked up the long path to the front door. It was held open by an elderly servant, who bowed to her as she approached without giving her any more notice than that.
She spotted Tenzin amongst the throngs of people, talking with their host. He seemed somewhat subdued, given the excited air of those around him, and she shouldered her way through the crowd to his side. She reached out and placed her hand on his arm before he'd even realized she was there.
"I apologize for being so late," she said cheerfully, extending her other hand to Tsung. He took it was relish and kissed her knuckles. "There was a small emergency at Police Headquarters, nothing I couldn't handle." She gave him a sweet smile through the white lie and he ate it right up.
"That's quite all right, Lady Beifong!" he exclaimed happily, patting her hand with both of his and releasing it again. "I am very pleased to see you, and you look ravishing! I was just asking Master Tenzin here about the rebuilding of his lovely temples, it seems like quite the endeavor."
"I wouldn't be too worried about that," she told him, looking up at Tenzin's surprised face for only a moment. "The acolytes already living there have done such a marvelous job, all we really need to focus on at this point is repairing structural damage from over the years, something they are unable to work on themselves without the proper help."
Tsung nodded in enthusiastic agreement. "Well, that is certainly something we can discuss, as I am most interested in assisting as best I can. If you'd give me just a second, I think I see my wife over there, I have a question for her."
The moment he slipped into the thick crowd of people, Tenzin's hand plucked hers from his arm, squeezing it tightly in both of his. "I am so sorry, Lin, I regret everything I said to you."
His voice was soft, but she still heard it through the din of people around them. She turned her gaze to meet his, using her free hand to rearrange the stiff collar of his robes and taking a moment of silence to trace the nearly invisible embroidery there. "And of course I forgive you, and I apologize for forgetting we had something planned," she murmured, "though it appears we have some things to talk about, don't we."
"Yes, I suppose so." He lowered his head, looking away from her.
"I am not angry, Tenzin," she told him with a little smile, feeling the apprehension through his heartbeat. "And I love you very much. An argument will not change how I feel about you, you know that. Say, since we're here -" She started to tug at his hand, urging him toward the dance floor behind them. His eyes met her again, surprised and brightening with delight.
"You'd like to dance?" he asked, the question absolutely thrilled.
"Have I thanked you yet?" Tenzin asked for what had to be the seventh time as Lin washed her face that night. "Because I feel as though it needs to be said again."
She laughed, patting a towel across her skin to dry it before looking askance at him. "Only every chance you've gotten since we've returned home. Truly, it wasn't a big deal. All he needed was a little buttering up. He wanted to give you the money already, he merely needed the final push to do so."
Tenzin came up behind her when she reached for her moisturizer, wrapping his arms around her waist and pressing his face to the side of her head near the clip holding her hair back. "All of those temples, Lin, can you imagine – they're going to be rebuilt. My people will have true homes again. The acolytes, they won't have to worry about the towers falling, or the roofs caving in, or the bridges collapsing."
"They will be magnificent in their glory once more," she agreed, smiling sincerely at him through the mirror when he looked at her.
He nuzzled his face against her, closing his eyes and grinning. "I don't even know where to start!" he murmured, his voice falling into her hair. "They all need attention just as badly as the next."
"The Southern Air Temple, start there first," Lin said firmly. "Your father's."
"Of course," he whispered, "of course. Yes, I will start preparing everything for it all tomorrow. Spirits, Lin, I can't believe this is happening." He kissed the side of her neck and released her, his fingers brushing gently along her sides through her thin dressing gown and making her shiver. "I'll let you finish getting ready for bed in peace."
"Tenzin," she called softly when he turned to walk away. He stopped, catching her eyes in the mirror again, and she let go of what she was going to say. They still needed to talk about the argument from hours before, about what had fueled it so quickly and fiercely, but seeing his tired, excited face…she couldn't bring herself to poke the wound now. Soon, but not now. "I'll be in with you in a minute. I love you, Airhead."
He took the step back to her, leaning forward to kiss her cheek and lingering there for just a moment. "I love you, too, so much."