This one-shot takes place during Endgame between Bumi’s arrival and Lin regaining her bending.
Lin preferred to spend her time on Air Temple Island. For a moment or two, she could suspend belief and pretend that the only reason why she didn’t feel the earth moving beneath her feet was because she was surrounded by water. The sand beneath her feet wasn’t real earth — it was just an extension of waterbending (islandbending) and she shouldn’t be alarmed about the fact that she couldn’t feel it; after all, she was no waterbender. She knew the notion was absurd and ridiculous and completely, utterly false, but just for a moment, she could flex her fingers and synchronize her heartbeat with the lap of the waves breaking onto the beach and pretend that once she left the island and reemerged onto Republic City’s land, she would be able to feel her bones respond to metal and feel her soul intertwine with the earth.
She would be leaving the island in about half an hour to fly to the South Pole where Katara would try to heal Korra and undo whatever Amon did. Lin allowed herself to feel the slightest sliver of hope that Katara would be able to return her bending, too. But, until then, she chose to sit down in the sand on the edge of the island while everyone else prepared for the voyage. She quickly retreated into her fantasy world where she didn’t need to regain her bending because she never lost it in the first place — she just left it on the shores of Republic City.
"Chief." She turned her head slightly and quickly found the owner of the gruff voice that had broken her delusional reverie. Her eyes settled onto a familiar mop of wild, unruly hair atop a United Forces uniform. She rolled her eyes.
"I’m not Chief anymore, Commander," her voice was quiet, but it was still edged with the authoritative tone that was ingrained into the conscience (and worst fears) of every metalbending police officer.
"Nonsense," Bumi said as he sat down next to her in the sand. He took off his shoes and haphazardly rolled up his pantlegs up to his ankles."The people of Republic City are practically begging for your return."
Lin crooked an eyebrow. “Since when did you become the voice of the people?”
"Amon is gone. Might as well be me," his wolfish grin faded when he realized that Lin wasn’t even minutely close to laughing. "It’s in the newspapers. I read things. That’s a thing I do."
Lin let out a low, mirthless chuckle. “The nonbender Chief of the Metalbending Police Force? Right. I’m sure that’s what the public wants.”
Bumi pursed his lips and pretended to be offended. “I’m a nonbender commander of the United Forces. It’s worked out quite well for me.”
Lin waved her hand dismissively. “That’s different. You don’t have to be a bender to be in the United Forces.”
"I’m the nonbender son of the Avatar and the most powerful waterbender in the world," he said quietly as he scooped up some sand into the palm of his hand before he let it flow through his fingers. He offered her a small smile. "And they would’ve been the very first people to tell you that you don’t need to be a bender to do great things."
"You don’t understand, Bumi," Lin said darkly, "It feels like my soul has been rearranged and dissected and mangled and — it feels like I’m blind."
"You, of all people, shouldn’t be talking about feeling blind," Bumi swayed his upper body towards hers and lightly bumped her shoulder with his. "Bless your mother."
Lin’s chest knotted as she felt the sudden urge to cry out, “Mom.” She promptly reminded herself that she was a grown woman and that grown women don’t cry for their mothers and she let the word anchor down into the hollow of her throat. “Chief Beifong would’ve understood. Her earthbending was everything to her.”
Bumi snorted. “Everything? Yeah, and you were just a hobby to her?”
"I suppose she had me and my father," Lin’s eyes dropped to the ground. "I, on the other hand, put my entire life into my work. And what do I have to show for it?"
"Stop feeling sorry for yourself. In what world, does Chief Lin Beifong ever feel sorry for herself?” He scolded her with faux annoyance. Bumi glanced in her direction and noticed that her downcast eyes had begun to shine with unshed tears. Bumi’s expression softened and he placed a hand over hers. “Lin, you don’t have to be an earthbender to protect Republic City. I’ve seen your right hook. Hell, I’ve felt your right hook.”
Lin surprised herself by offering him a faint smile. Bumi grinned widely. “Many, many times.”
"You say that like they weren’t deserved every single time," Lin said through soft laughter.
"I implied no such thing," Bumi dug his toes into the sand. "I will ecstatically take credit for all of my past offenses against you."
Lin absentmindedly laced her fingers through Bumi’s and squeezed his hand softly. “As you should.”
"Past, present, and future offenses," he said as he sent a hard kick of sand towards her. The grainy substance flew around them before it settled onto her hair, clothes, and face. She quickly let go of his hand and stood up, shaking the sand out of her hair and brushing the sand off of her pants as Bumi let out a hearty laugh and clutched his sides.
She glared at him. “Bumi! You’re so childish!”
"You’re so adult-ish," he cooed, before grabbing a handful of sand and throwing it towards her. "You’re just jealous that I’m a sandbending master."
Lin attempted to dodge his attacks, but the unsteady ground of sand slowed her agility. She moved towards the coastline of the island until she felt water around her clothed ankles. Bumi ran towards her direction with two fistfuls of sand and a mischievous smile splayed across his features when Lin kicked a generous amount of water towards him. The unexpected retaliation made him stop in his tracks as he sputtered out water and let his arms fall to his sides as his fists loosened. Lin laughed at the way his trademark wild hair flattened against his skull when it became wet and, while he was momentarily caught off-guard, she sent another splash of water towards him and then another and another…
And, for the next thirty minutes, Lin Beifong was a waterbender (Lin found that his hair did naturally dry into its trademark mess); an earthbender (it took Bumi two hours to extract all the sand from all of the crevices of his uniform); an airbender (she lightly blew onto his eyelashes until all of the sand flew off his face); and a firebender (heat rose in her cheeks when Bumi tangled his hand into her hair and used his other hand to hold her waist steady as he placed a deep kiss onto her lips).
I just wanted to write something cutesy and lame and I love Lin and I love Bumi and I hope you didn’t vomit all over this fluff. Let the record show that I’ve been shipping Bumi/Lin since April. Hahaha. Er, I’m really sorry if this story was incoherent or weird because I’m really tired and I don’t have a beta for these baby stories on Tumblr aaaand now I really do have to go to sleep before I die. Thank you, thank you, thank you for the follows and the likes and the reblogs. You brighten my
day summer life.