Chapter 1 - Air and Earth
"Lin, I can't. I…I just can't," stuttered Tenzin.
Lin complained, "Tenzin, don't go all zen on me now, not this close. It's been so long getting you to go this far."
"I'm sorry, Lin. It's…it's just not right."
"Afraid you'll disappoint your mommy and daddy, Tenzin?"
He got red in the face and looked at her sternly, "Yes as a matter of fact, I am. Plus I'm worried someone will discover us."
Lin scolded, "You know full well with my shoes off I will feel anyone approach us. Only one other guy on this island can fly around here silently and catch us, and he's been asleep for hours. Especially after what he and your mother did earlier tonight - what you and I should be doing right now."
Tenzin was embarrassed, "Lin! You felt my parents as they…?"
"I can't help it Tenzin. My mother knew that they had a lot of fun once they got married. Even when she didn't want to know. This seismic sense is a blessing and a curse. I love your father, Tenzin, but let's face it he's a little too old fashioned for modern times. Just like you are. And just like your Mother, you are as stubborn about this…this belief you have in the sanctity of marriage and vows."
Tenzin said stiffly, "And proud of it Lin! There is so much moral decay that this city. Someone needs to remain committed to be the same kind of example that my father is".
Lin scoffed, "Don't let him worry that much, Tenzin. Republic City is a virtual monastery compared to how life has become in Ba Sing Se since he was a boy".
Tenzin asserted, "Which is another reason he never wanted Republic City anywhere nearby Ba Sing Se. There should be more of my parents kind of behavior, Lin, which is why I can't do this…just like Mother and Father…without being…um…"
Lin interrupted angrily, "Married, Tenzin. The word is married."
Lin sat up next to Tenzin and rebuttoned her blouse, exasperated.
Her tone softened, "What are we going to do, Tenzin? We've been stuck on hold for years. More than friends, but less than a couple. You have no idea how to have fun like your father."
Tenzin was assured, but spoke softly, "If you really loved me you'd do this for me."
Lin rolled her eyes, "Isn't that the line boys usually use on girls to get their way?"
They actually laughed.
Lin wrapped her arms around Tenzin's neck and smiled tenderly, "Oh Tenzin, I love you, but you are so old fashioned."
Tenzin kissed her softly and said, "'Love you too, Lin. But proud to be old fashioned. It would look good on you too, if you'd just try it."
She sighed and kissed him on the cheek, "I'm going to take the police boat back to my apartment and go to bed now Tenzin, without you. I fluffed a pillow for you. It's not too late, dear."
Tenzin was firm, "I will see you tomorrow for tea, Lin."
After she departed, he sat in the garden a really long time. He knew what he wanted to do, and almost did tonight, but couldn't allow himself to do it. The scandal to the Air Acolytes and embarrassment to his father would be too much. The whole Air Acolyte movement could fall apart as just another false religion that the leaders of the movement didn't adhere to their own belief structure. Lin could not see that. She just lived for the day. He had to carry on the traditions of his father.
Something in this constantly changing world had to remain the same as a hope for the future. He had to - at all costs - maintain the sanctity of the beliefs of the Air Nation – the same as the Air Nomads before.
Lin was only thinking of herself and her needs, not the good of the greater whole. She was not a lot different than her mother. It took Toph a really long time to learn that as member of the Gaang.
Tenzin began to suspect that he would never teach Lin to embrace his beliefs. In her heart she was not an Air Acolyte. And that would make a difference, if there were ever children. His own parents and his siblings were proof of that. Even Katara, as much as she accepted Aang's beliefs, was born Water Tribe. That was important in the burden he carried. Every child of his had to be Air Nation and an air bender. The woman he would love until 'death do they part' had to believe that too, to at least give their children a fighting chance spiritually to be air benders. It was beginning to seem like that wasn't Lin, no matter how hard he worked on that stubborn Earth Kingdom mind of hers. She was a woman of this world, not the one beyond.
But there would be more time to think about that later. Despite all their disagreements, he loved her, and they had been steadfast for a dozen years when they finally figured out they loved each other, and were not just childhood friends.
Right now before bed, he had to get his head in the game for tomorrow's press conference.
Lin slammed open her apartment door, muttering to herself. She heard a yelp, and turned on the light. There in her bed, a vaguely twentysomething year old man, bare-chested, with long hair, rubbed his eyes, and said, "You're late. I thought you would never get here. Did Mr. High Morals turn you down again?"
"Just shut up and love me," demanded Lin, reaching to the young adult and leaving a trail of her uniform parts across the room.