I'm still around and still writing, I promise! My computer has been giving me some problems lately, which makes connecting to the internet rather difficult. But I have not abandoned the fandom. In fact, I have more I'm working on and hopefully will have it ready for you soon.

This is something I started writing a while back and actually only just finished when I found it again in my Avatar folder. It is set sometime during Season 2, I think, or between Seasons 2 and 3. Definitely heavy Lin/Tenzin in here.

Enjoy!


Breathless

Lin leaned forward toward her bathroom mirror, angling her head just enough to see the small, thin red cut just under her jaw on the left side of her neck. She reached up and touched the tiny wound with her finger as she looked at it for the first time, pressing gently on the flesh over her armor and smirking in grim satisfaction when the skin didn't pull or ache. Her officers and even the healer had made such a fuss over the thing when really, it was nothing. Knife wound or not, she was perfectly fine.

Lips returning to a neutral line, she plucked up the jar of balm the healer had sent home with her – apply liberally for the next five days! he had said sternly, closing her hand over medication – and tossed it into the basket on the floor filled with several others just like it, to be ignored likely until the cream dried up.

Allow a suspected murderer to hold a knife to your throat for just a few minutes and everyone panics, she thought wryly, glancing at the cut again. It had hardly even bled.

A quick knock on her front door pulled her away from the mirror, and she huffed softly and turned to leave the room, boots falling heavily across the wooden floors as she made her way through the hall to answer. Not pausing to check who was calling on her at this hour, she pulled the door open without much enthusiasm, too tired to care.

Tenzin was standing on the stoop, the balmy night air coming inside with him as he crossed the threshold into her dark home. She hadn't yet turned the lights on, having gone straight for the bathroom to check the so-called damage for herself. Tenzin, though, flipped the switch in her entryway to turn on the overhead light and immediately reached for her face.

Lin took a surprised step back just a moment too late, his hands gentle against her skin as he turned her head to the side.

"So it's true," he murmured, "the rumors floating around City Hall."

He was obviously looking at the same mark she had been just a minute before, noticing it new and fresh against her skin. She scowled at him, grasping his hands in hers and tugging them away from her face to hold against her chest instead. "It's already spread there? Spirits, nothing is secret in this forsaken city, is it?"

"Half the city saw what happened, I heard," he said softly, his eyes finding hers. They were worried, waiting for her to contradict whatever he thought he knew and allay his uncertainties.

"The crowd made things worse. I had everything under control."

She released her grasp on his hands and turned away, toward the kitchen to retrieve a glass of water or something else to distract her from that worried stare, but his fingers closing on her wrist stopped her movement. She looked back at him again, mildly surprised, to see him watching her closely.

"So under control that she was able to pull a knife on you?" he whispered, the fear apparent in the soft words.

"Tenzin…"

She sighed halfheartedly, somewhat frustrated that he wasn't able to put this together himself but still touched that he cared so greatly for her safety. She could feel his hand trembling against her, and she shifted her arm to shake his grasp from her wrist so she could catch his fingers in her own. "The knife you are so concerned with was made of steel." She waited a moment for this to sink in. "I was aware of it the entire time, and could have neutralized the 'problem' everyone is talking about with a flick of my pinky. What people are leaving out, it seems," she continued, lowering her voice and holding his gaze firmly, "is that I only let her grab hold of me so she would lose track of the hostages trying to escape from behind her. As soon as they were safe, I brought her down."

Tenzin nodded and quickly lowered his head, hearing her but not having a response.

"Hey," Lin said with a small smile, using her free hand to tilt his chin back up with two fingers to make him look at her again. "I was never in any danger today."

"That doesn't mean having someone tell me in passing a knife-wielding killer may or may not have slit your throat in the street doesn't make my heart stop." The honesty in that statement sucked the amusement from her posture, and she dropped his hands to open her arms for him to fall against her chest, his face immediately pressing against her neck as though looking for physical proof of her continued existence through the heat of her body.

"Sometimes I think you may be the only person in this world who cares about me, Tenzin," she muttered, wrapping him tightly in her embrace. "Thank you, for caring."

"I will never not care about you," he breathed against her, his beard tickling just above the collar of her armor as he put emphasis on the word when they both wanted to speak a different one. He took a sharp inhale and held it for a silent moment. "Lin…"

She opened her mouth to respond even without knowing yet what she wanted to say but taken by the tone behind her name and turned her head slightly to press against the side of his. Any words forming in her mind vanished, though, when his hand fell to her hips, tugging her closer as his lips pressed almost imperceptibly against her neck just under her jaw.

In the months of these careful touches, kisses had been fleeting and rare, a thing to be cherished as something sacred between them. Always on hands or fingers or neck, perhaps the exposed skin of a shoulder when presented and never, never on the lips. That, they both understood, would be their undoing. Any unspoken lines, any boundaries set to keep them both from committing a physical act that could not be taken back, would be crossed if their lips met. And so they landed elsewhere, in those exceptional moments.

"Tenzin," she murmured, raising her hands to either side of his head to keep him against her even as her mind attempted to convince her to push him away.

He nuzzled his face to her skin, breathing there for a long moment in silence before sliding his arms all the way around her waist and whispering, "Take this off, Lin, please."

He was referring to her armor, she could feel his fingers splaying across her back through the metal as a physical touch, and her heart began to pound. His need to touch her was burning through his palms, through his warm breath against her neck and the insistent brush of his nose just under her ear. Any hesitation she may have given a second thought to vanished, and she slowly brought her hands from his face to remove her belt with a small gesture. The metal piece came away into her hands and she let it fall toward the floor, using her bending only enough to keep it from landing too harshly.

She paused there when Tenzin kissed her again, gently at the edge of her jaw. But her need to feel his touch as badly as he wanted to give it spurred her on before her rational brain could interfere. She shrugged her shoulders to move the energy there, letting the arm pieces and gauntlets release and slide away. Tenzin caught them for her as they slid, lowering his head against hers to see what he was doing as he placed them gently on the ground with a stream of wind.

The releasing of her hauberk, the last and largest remaining piece on her torso, was soft between them as the hidden snaps unlatched. He reached up, helping to take the weight of it from her body as she bent it away. She let him have it, watching somewhat distantly, almost feeling as though she were leaving her body herself, as he ever so carefully placed it on the floor beside them.

They looked at one another, and Lin felt Tenzin's eyes moving over her quickly before meeting hers. He had seen her without her armor often since this affair of sorts had begun. He had seen her in less, wearing her sleeping clothes or a dressing gown just out of the shower. Something was different in his gaze now, subtle and lingering as he watched her so closely.

Tenzin raised his hands to her face, one sliding back into her hair and the knuckles of his other brushing over her cheek as she leaned close.

"Lin, I…"

He couldn't say the words, swallowing them instead when they died on his tongue.

"I know," Lin said softly.

His lips brushed just over hers, only a hair between them, as he moved toward her again, and she turned her head to kiss the corner of his mouth when he passed. A small pressure, enough to give him pause and bring a sigh from his chest. But the nagging little voice in both their minds reminded him not to linger there and so he continued to follow where his fingers were trailing over her cheek, planting light little kisses toward her ear once more, down her neck, now fully exposed without the metal barrier around it.

Tenzin's hands fell down her back, fingertips ghosting down her spine and over the planes of muscle. Lin fell against him, the heat of his body searing through her with every light touch and every wave of his breath against her skin making her stomach churn with pleasure she still understood would not fully come even through the haze of building anticipation.

"I am sorry," she whispered into his skin. "I am sorry I frightened you today."

His breath hitched as he heard her words and he paused in his actions, pressing his face to her neck again. "I was, Lin, I was so frightened. I can't lose you. I don't know how I would ever recover if I did."

"It's all right," she soothed gently, kissing the side of his head and rubbing her hand over his back. "We're together now. Stay here with me tonight, please." It was not a request she made often, usually leaving the decision to him to make when he felt he could without his family being aware - and without their guilt becoming too strong. But this time the words slipped off her tongue without restraint, and she felt no remorse for them having been said. "Stay, Tenzin. Let me feel you beside me for a few more hours, and you the same."

"I'd like that," he murmured. There was no negating statement following, and they both smiled. "Of course I will stay with you, Lin. How could I ever not when I feel the way I do right now?"

She pulled away slightly to bring her face even with his, her hands cupping his cheeks. They were so close, far too close, and one misstep would bring a downfall to everything they were being so careful to keep constructed around them. But neither cared very greatly in that moment. She rubbed her thumbs over his skin, watching him as he watched her. After several seconds, she lowered her hands and grasped at his, tugging him silently toward the bedroom.

It was an odd comfort, knowing they would fall asleep wrapped together, even if the heat of what was always there would have to be continually smothered in one way or another. Simple touch was enough for the moment.