This was written for Amira Elizabeth. It takes place not not after the end of Season 1 after everyone has returned to Republic City.
Lin shuffled through the reports piled on her desk, tossing aside the one in her hand and pulling a different folder forward to flip open. It had been slipped into her inbox the previous night, under several others by whomever had written it, likely with the hopeful intention she would not come across it until much later. She could see why; the work was sloppy, and it had obviously been finished quickly and with very little enthusiasm. Her gaze drifted to the header, finding the name of the officer responsible and making a mental note to watch his work for the next few weeks.
A soft knock on her office door briefly caught her attention, and her eyes flicked upward for only a moment before dropping to the parchment again. "Come in," she muttered brusquely, irritated with the interruption. She had only been in for an hour, and already had been pulled this way and that by people who were unable to do even the simplest things without her direction.
The door opened slowly, and she heard soft feet on the wooden floor as someone came inside. Her visitor laughed, a kind, familiar sound that went straight to Lin's heart. She dropped the file and raised her head.
"Oh, so you're finally going to pay attention to me?" the old woman said with a wide smile. "I was starting to wonder if I'd have to hit you with the cold tea on your desk before you'd even look in my direction."
Lin did not bother to apologize, instead immediately standing from her desk and crossing the room to take Katara into a tight hug. Or, rather, to let the other woman grasp her hard about the shoulders, pulling her to her chest with such a furious intensity all Lin could do was relent to her grasp. Katara pulled away after a moment, putting both wrinkled hands to Lin's face. She beamed at her, blue eyes twinkling.
"Oh, look at you. You look exactly the same as you did the day you came to me crying and covered in blood because you'd broken your nose." She tapped Lin's cheek, her wisened face happy as their gazes held. "Of course, most of that blood was Tenzin's, wasn't it? He was rather more injured than you were."
Lin took Katara's hands into her own and drew them away, though continuing to hold them tightly. The surprise of the visit was heavy across her, the euphoria of it blissful with Katara's joyous presence. "It was an accident," she defended herself with a smile lost in memory. "And I was only eight. We tumbled down the cliffside into the water."
"Ah," Katara said with a nod, even if it was quite clear she remembered the event just as well. "An accident, of course. All you children were little monsters in your own way."
Lin's smile was still genuine, though it was beginning to fall more into melancholic nostalgia with such mentions of her childhood, even such pleasant ones. She gestured to the small couch against the wall, and Katara led the way for them to both take a seat. "It feels like a hundred years since I've been in this office," the Waterbender grumbled slightly as she fell back into the cushions. "You certainly haven't changed much in here. You even left that dirty old rug! I gave that to Toph ages ago!"
"It is not dirty!" Lin replied with a laugh, looking down at the rug in question. It was a large thing, placed in front of her desk. It was, however, rather old by this point, she could certainly concede that much. She shook her head in amusement. "It is not dirty," she said again, softly this time with a hint of lighthearted defensiveness to her tone. "What are you doing here, Aunt Katara?" she finally asked.
"Well, speaking of little monstrous children," Katara replied with a chuckle, "I am here to see my newest grandchild. And, of course, the grandkids I already have."
"Tenzin tells me Rohan is already a bit of a handful," Lin said with a perfunctory nod.
Katara's eyes gleamed, and Lin frowned as the older woman grinned widely. "Does he, now? Do you see one another often?"
Lin waved her hand dismissively and looked away, growing irritated more quickly than she would have liked when she'd been happy only a moment before. "Is this why you're here?" she asked, the defensiveness real this time and not in any way playful. These wounds were old and deep, and she was not at all pleased that anyone would dare to poke at them with such a pointed stick. "To check up on me and nose through my business?"
A gentle hand covered hers, bony fingers twining through her own to draw her hand out of her lap. Katara kissed her knuckles and held her hand tightly against her fur-clad chest. "Of course not, dear one. I am here because I love you, and I miss you terribly. You are my family, aren't you?" She grinned again and loosened her hold on Lin's hand, though Lin did not pull away from her. "I did not know if anyone told you I was coming and I wanted to see you."
The pain faded away as quickly as it had risen, and Lin lowered her head. "Thank you," she murmured, "for coming."
"You do not need to thank me," Katara said, her voice clear and bright and so sweet Lin's heart ached for everything she had lost. Katara tipped her chin up with a crooked finger. "I am just so pleased to see you. Now, shall we go get something to eat?"
Lin laughed, feeling her stress and anxiety creep away as Katara began to stand and then tugged their clasped hands. "It is not even nine o'clock in the morning yet!" she protested even as she allowed herself to be pulled to her feet without much resistance. "Surely Pema made a huge breakfast for the family this morning? You can't be hungry again so soon."
Katara shrugged, already making her way toward the door with Lin in tow. "Of course she cooked this morning, and the food was good enough. But who ever said she makes a meal to my standards? Come on, I know this great little restaurant that serves an authentic Water Tribe breakfast."
"Yes, Aunt Katara, I know," Lin said without objection at all now. They both knew it would be useless to even try, and Lin could not deny the prospect of spending time with Katara was a very appealing one. She smiled widely, resuming her end of the conversation without missing a beat. "You've taken me there more times than I can count. I wouldn't forget it so easily."
"Well, then. What are we waiting for?"