Implied Lin/Tenzin, though he doesn't make much of an appearance here. Slight spoilers for the last few episodes of season three, and this takes place a few months after the end of that season.

Enjoy!


Burning Bright

Lin drummed her fingers impatiently on the tabletop, gazing around the kitchen from where she sat with her legs crossed tensely. She had arrived at the island almost an hour ago to pick up one thing – just one thing – and Tenzin was taking his blessed time finding it. He was still off somewhere, likely his office, rummaging around for it.

Her body ached after a grueling day of never-ending chases through the streets and she was tired. No, tired didn't cut it. She was flat out exhausted. It was getting late, too, and if he didn't hurry she was going to miss the last ferry before they closed the line for the night, leaving her to find her own way home, a thought that made her leg begin to fidget with agitation. Why did she listen to him, when he said to come by tonight? It was just a stupid brooch. Suki's brooch, which she had wanted Lin to have so many years ago and which Lin now wanted to wear to the spirit-damned gala next week. Tenzin said he knew exactly where it was, it would only take a moment if she stopped by that night.

Lies, she thought to herself with annoyance, sighing and leaning her head back against the chair to close her eyes. Fine, not lies. I don't even know what he's playing at anymore.

More and more he was giving excuses to spend time with her. The thing was, though, she was taking them, faster and faster, drinking them up like wine and feeling just a drunk off their closeness. She couldn't put the blame on him when she was just as eager. This…this whatever it was, was something they were both equally aware of and neither was willing to put a stop to. Likely why she was even here in the first place, brooch or no brooch.

Soft feet on the stone floor alerted her to someone's presence, but she was slow to lift her head when doing so was a great endeavor.

"Where's my daddy?"

It was Meelo, standing near the entryway of the kitchen and watching her with a reserved reverence at have caught her so unguarded. Astute even for a child in the presence of his so-called hero.

"I don't know," she told him, taking note of his pajamas and the ragged stuffed lemur clutched in his hand. "He's finding something for me, he should be back in a minute."

"I want my daddy," he mumbled. He rubbed at an eye with his free hand, lowering his head and sniffing loudly.

Lin bit her lip for a moment, torn between sending Meelo on his way and asking what was wrong – because something did appear to be wrong – before she leaned forward in her chair slightly to appear what she hoped was somewhat less intimidating for a child. "Why do you want your dad?" she asked as kindly as she could.

He looked up at her, unaware of the effort that question took, and she was startled to see tears glittering in his eyes along the lower lids. "I had a bad dream," he admitted to her, "and I want Dad to make it go away like he always does."

"Oh."

Meelo just stared at her silently, waiting for her to do something to right this situation for him the way his father or mother would. Perhaps to find Tenzin for him, or to do something else she had no earthly idea how to muddle through. Her heart thudded in her ears for a moment with a brief surge of alarm at the idea he might be in search of some parental guidance from her and she pursed her lips, letting them go again a second later.

"I don't know where he is," she said again firmly. "If you go back to your room, I'll send him to you when he comes back. Okay?"

The boy shook his head. It wasn't a sign of disrespect or even one of disobedience, but more one of apprehension at returning to his room unaccompanied. "I don't want to. I keep seeing Daddy hurt by those bad guys in my dreams, I don't want to be alone. Can't you come with me?" he asked suddenly, his voice full of hope. "You're not my dad, but you helped save him. I'd be okay with you, too."

The simplicity in that hurt more than she ever would have expected it to. He was having nightmares about the Red Lotus at the Air Temple and Tenzin sacrificing himself for his family. Of course it would be enough for this little kid to be scarred by, at least so soon after it happened. Even she had a few fleeting dreams here and there, seeing his bloody and beaten face, his body so close to giving up. Meelo didn't fully understand how close he had come to losing his father that day.

She stared back at him, her gaze slowly starting to soften.

"All right," she gave in after another moment of silence. She hefted herself to her feet, resisting the urge to stretch her arms up over her head and instead taking a few steps forward so she could reach out to turn Meelo around by the shoulder. "Lead the way."

He gratefully grabbed at her hand and tugged her down the hallway toward the bedrooms. It was later than she had realized, everyone else already asleep except Tenzin – still off searching for that stupid brooch for her in his attempt to continue whatever they were doing – and Meelo led her to a room beside Ikki's. The door was open, and he pushed it wide to allow them both entry into his small sanctuary.

He had not turned on his light before leaving to find his father, but she could tell from the moonlight coming through the window and the dim lighting from the hallway that the furnishings here were like those in the rest of the house. Meelo's toys were set neatly on his shelves and dresser, put away after a day of use, and though some dirty clothes still piled on the floor and his studies were spread untidily over his desktop, the room was surprisingly clean. Likely Pema's influence.

He didn't release her hand until he had climbed into his bed. Sideways, where he had made a small nest of blankets, eschewing the pillows stacked neatly at the headboard.

Lin's resolve began to fade a bit as she watched him settle under his covers through the dimness. "Shouldn't we get your mother instead? She's just a few doors down, I'd be right back with her."

"No," Meelo said simply. "You're good."

"I'm good," she repeated under her breath. He didn't hear her, or at least didn't hear her sarcasm. "You don't want a story or anything, do you? Just someone to sit with you?"

"No stories. Just Aunt Lin."

Lin scowled at the use of the nickname, but her anger disappeared quickly. He didn't call her that so often now, and truthfully it was somewhat endearing in this particular situation, him asking her to help chase his bad dreams away. She took a breath and moved to his doorway to remove her heavy metal boots, quietly placing them in the hallway outside the open door so Tenzin would hopefully be able to find her when he finished his little quest.

Meelo was curled in the middle of his nest of blankets, the stuffed lemur held tightly to his chest, and she grabbed one of the unused pillows before plopping down on the floor near the foot of the bed. She put the pillow behind her head against the bedframe, leaning back into it and trying to find a comfortable position with her legs bent, arms wrapped around them.

She didn't speak again, and neither did he.