What if, when Korra inevitably has to team up with the police, she introduces Mako and Bolin to Lin.
But there’s this awkward moment, as the two parties are eyeing one another, that Korra doesn’t understand because she doesn’t know that Mako and Lin have already met. Because before being the Chief meant office work and administrative duties, Lin used to be on the field. And she was the first responder at the scene of a mugging, where two parents were cut down in front of their little son.
Lin did her best to calm the boy down, but he was inconsolable and most definitely in shock. He was screaming and crying and clutching at his mother’s scarf in disbelief, and even once she finally pried him away and brought him to the hospital (he had deep bruising on his face, from where he had attacked the mugger and the mugger had hit him) he was a mess. He kept asking who would take care of him and his little brother (who, thank goodness, had not been present — one irrevocably damaged witness was enough for Lin, who could hardly stand to look at this one).
Lin was in charge of the investigation. Something about the boy’s reaction struck her more profoundly than any case she had dealt with. She conducted his interview a few days later, when he was in the hospital nursing his wounds (at this point his brother was there, curled up on the starchy cot next to Mako). But despite her enormous efforts, the killer went unfound and justice unserved. They had no family — their parents had been immigrants from the Fire Nation, a poor couple who rented a shabby apartment, the husband (an Earthbender) tending to the children while the mother sought work at the factory as a Lightningbender.
It was a brutally flawed system, but there were no options. And, in following protocol, she had no choice but to send them to the notorious orphanage.
She was not surprised when she heard that they eventually went missing from the orphanage. They were not the first to flee from it. Seven years later, when Mako was arrested and thrown into prison for affiliating with the Triad (though “affiliation” was a loose word. As Lin looked over the allegations, then studied Mako’s new bruises and split lip, she felt that his actual situation within the Triad was much, much worse), she finagled the system and let Mako walk free. Otherwise, his little brother might not make it on his own. In this case, it was better to turn a blind eye than let one or more of the orphaned brothers starve.
Her only advice to him as she unlocked the cell, sharing with him a look that both knew to be one of sincere grief and understanding, was a quiet, “Please, be careful.”
Some years later, she picked up the newspaper and read about the new Pro Bending team, the Fire Ferrets. And now, as Korra introduced them (formally, though to Korra it was hardly a passing thought), the only thing Lin and Mako shared was a grim nod.