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Circus trainer
Chapter 3: The Ringmaster
Chapter information
Series

The Kyoshi Chronicles

Book

Book 2: Fire

Written by

Kyoshidude

Word count

5082

Chronology
Last chapter

Chapter 2: Customs

Next chapter

Chapter 4: Taku

Previously on The Kyoshi Chronicles 

When Kyoshi was imprisoned in Lake Laogai her cellmates were Momzen and the shirshu Jin Jin. Apparently the firebender and shirshu had spent some time together, already being good friends. 

Under General Hoa Lang's capture, Eya and Kyoshi bonded, the two finally settling their differences - and the team could finally work together coherently.

The Kyds continue to the Fire State by foot.  

Chapter 3: The Ringmaster

Jin Jin's tendrillar nose snaked through the leaf litter, analysing the smells from the odours, the fragrances from the aromas. For the shirshu her snout was her entire world. It was her eyes, the only way to distinguish between the sweet smelling girl that cuddled her and the boy that understood her. It was her heart, her guiding light. It was her greatest connection to the group. She could smell the boy's fear when there were soldiers about, and understand the depth of his misery depending on the strength of his scent. She knew happiness only by his smell; the subtle aroma of sunflower oil.

"How you going there, buddy?" Momzen said, scratching Jin Jin behind the ear; her favourite spot. "Need a little break?"

Since escaping General Hao Lang's border security the group had travelled non-stop, aside from food breaks and meditation sessions for Eya. And now that Kyoshi and Eya finally got along the dynamic between everyone was far greater than it ever was. Everybody looked out for each other, shared in the labour and respected each other. Like a great machine each member was an important cog, functioning at optimum rate. 

Jin Jin replied to Momzen with a gurgling snarl, insisting she could go a little farther. It wasn't until they reached a clearing by a river that the group stopped and unloaded the supplies from Jin Jin, unsaddling her.

"There you go." Momzen beamed at his friend.

The great beast's russet fur shone in the dappled light, her mighty figure instilling in the boy a warm, nurtured feeling. He ran his fingers though her fur, watching as it parted in little waves. She truly was a beautiful creature, even if shirshus were renowned for their viciousness and grotesque appearance. Jin Jin was the kindest, most selfless animal – being, even – he had ever met. The tendrils on Jin Jin's nose started worming about and soon she started drooling.

"You must be hungry," Kyoshi laughed as she came over with a hunk of fatty meat.

She held the piece out and the shirshu gently took it from her hand, Kyoshi not flinching once at the thought of her skin meeting with Jin Jin's paralysing tongue.

Kyoshi, too, had come to love Jin Jin. They had been through a lot together, seen the world together. She was a valued member of the team, and had gotten them through a lot of tough situations.

She scratched under Jin Jin's chin as the beast wolfed down the morsel and laughed. Tori jumped to her shoulder and squawked into her ear.

"Tori, you've been fed!" she giggled.

Momzen came and tickled the shaggy bird.

"You're always hungry, aren't you?"

Tori screeched back, her pink tongue flopping outside of her beak like a panting dog. The two had grown to love Tori, too. She was quirky and full of attitude, and the fact that as much as she tried to clean herself she always remained dirty and oily was somehow endearing. Playing with her made them feel young and innocent. And at times they needed that. They needed a break from being adults, from frowning and being serious. It was a war, but they were children. The animals had no idea how much they meant to Momzen and Kyoshi, and the two humans had no idea how much they meant to the animals.

Tori jumped off of Kyoshi and to the ground, only to jump up and down at Jin Jin's lips to peck off any unswallowed bits or lick up any juices left behind. The satisfied beast stood still and took it – it was the usual proceeding between the two; she was used to it. They got along swimmingly.

Suddenly, Jin Jin snapped to turn upriver, bowling Tori off her little feet. Her tendrils were flexed and a foul, sharp stench plagued the air – of course nobody else could identify it.

"What is it, Jin Jin?" said Momzen, stroking his friend's shoulder to calm her down.

"What's wrong?" Bako asked, getting up from the tree he was resting against and unsheathing both his swords.

A soft growl rolled through Jin Jin's fangs as something stirred in the bushes nearby. A voice, muffled and squeaky, was coming from the direction too – shouting out something incoherent.

"Did somebody say 'Jin Jin'?" the voice continued as it came closer. "Is it really her?"

Suddenly, a body appeared from the shrubbery; an oily man with a long, wispy moustache. He wore a black robe embroidered with gold stitches and delicate thread birds, their eyes made of small stones. Once he tidied himself of leaves and twigs, he looked up and peered longingly at the shirshu, examining her for something distinct.

"It...it is her!" he smiled, jovially skipping over.

Jin Jin leered angrily, snarling her great teeth at him.

"Woah, Jin Jin! It's alright."

Momzen took her neck in his grasp and brushed her calmingly. There was no need for her to lash out he thought. The man held out his hands to gesture that he was not a threat, laughing nervously at the beast.

"Come on, Jin Jin. Don't you remember me?"

Kyoshi and Momzen both looked at each other, confused at what was playing out before them.

"Who exactly are you?" Kyoshi asked, crossing her arms.

The man looked over at the group as if he had only just noticed their presence then smiled.

"I'm Huan," the man replied nicely. "I'm Jin Jin's owner."

*

Huan sat himself down on a log and rubbed his temples. His fingers were jagged like gnarly sticks, the edges rough with calluses. His eyes bore an expression of dilapidation and disappointment as he massaged the emotions into his face.

"It's been so long since I've seen Jin Jin," he started, the group listening still with confused faces. "She was my pride and joy. I owned a circus once."

Jin Jin grunted, setting herself down on the ground cautiously.

"The two of us had so much fun together, playing tricks, dazzling the audience. But then, she was taken away. The Earth State said she was too dangerous to have near children. That's when everything went wrong. I lost the circus, lost my friend. I lost everything."

"I'm so sorry," replied Eya.

Momzen tried to skew his sadness into a smile, knowing what Huan was getting at.

"Look at her now, though. You'll be proud to know she has some good friends and has travelled the world. You should be happy she's happy."

The group collectively gasped, Bako almost falling from his seat on a log.

"Momzen!" Kyoshi scowled, quickly speaking again to avoid Momzen's rudeness. "What my friend means to say is she's been through a lot. Jin Jin probably missed you too. Right, Jin Jin?"

Everybody looked over at the shirshu, as if waiting for a spoken reply. Jin Jin could sense that their attention was on her, and as her blinded eyes, blurry and glassy, looked around at her friends, she let off a slow, thundering growl. Sadly, though, nobody understood her. As much as she tried to structure her growls and snarls in a comprehensive way, her human companions could never grasp the depth of her speech.

"It would mean a lot if she could come home with me."

Instantly Momzen shook his head.

"No."

"No?" Huan repeated, the word a putrid taste on his tongue. "What do you mean? She was the only good thing in my life!"

"Look," Momzen began, stepping in front of the shirshu. "I'm sorry for your loss, but she's with us now. You can't take her."

Huan's hopeful smile faded slowly in a frown as he stared down his crooked nose at the boy.

"What type of friend are you if you make all the decisions for her? Jin Jin deserves to make the choice on her own."

"You had your chance. She's with us."

"We'll give her a night to think about it, right?" Huan smiled coyly, liking his odds. "See who she truly wants to be with."

Momzen's knuckles tensed in his fist as he frowned back at Huan.

"Fine. One night. Then I want you gone!"

Huan swung around, the golden thread on his robe glistening in the afternoon sun, and made his way back into the bushes from whence he came.

With a wave of a hand he said, "See you in the morning, kid. And just think if being with you is really what she wants, or only what you want

*

Night had fallen quickly that day, ushering pinks and oranges into blacks and navies. Silver starlight filtered in through the thin canopy, casting dim, demure shadows upon the shrubbery while the group sat around a receding fire. With the conversation halted each member stared into the fire's centre. Its hot core seemed to possess something wise. With hot eyes, retinas glowing orange, one could find resolve in the fire's cinder heart.

But as much as Momzen stared and searched, watching closely as small peaks of white collapsed over yellow and red, he could not find the resolve the fire seemed to promise. Was he being selfish keeping Jin Jin with him? Or was travelling the world a better life for her? If only she could tell him.

The shirshu's head was draped over his lap, cuddling in to slumber in the warmth. Her head was heavy, and his thighs were beginning to grow numb, but he didn't mind. He stroked the beast's soft cheeks, a blissful purr emanating from Jin Jin's throat, and felt better. Jin Jin was his best friend. She kept all his secrets with her, been with him through all his tears, and forgiven him for his flaws. Slowly from the heat Momzen's eyes began to water, and with it came an ember of a memory, floating from an old fire into the darkness, lit only by what had passed.

"Which cell?" a Dai Li agent asked another.

The man looked down at the firebender, feeling no remorse upon meeting the boy's broken gaze, then down at a parchment.

"78," the agent responded with a flat tone.

"78?!" the other replied, laughing with bewilderment. "He may as well be a leg of meat!"

Momzen stood still, head lowered now in defeat. His kneecaps ached, sending icy throbs up into his gut. The agent yanked the chains, and led the firebender through the underground hallways. Darkness surrounded him entirely, slowly strangling any hope he had left of finding his parents, or even staying alive for that matter. Metallic and hot, the taste of blood lined his tongue and fat tears welled up in his amber eyes.

Everything he had done was for this; a failure. His parents, his sister, they would all be ashamed. He had crossed a whole continent just to find defeat. Though he felt an ounce of energy in his arms, he knew that fighting back was futile, he had reached the end. There was no point trying to change it. He was done.

The Dai Li agent stopped at large door and procured a key from his sleeve. Solemnly, he clicked it into the lock.

"You'll be staying here now," he said, perhaps with an undertone of kindness, or sympathy.

Momzen was unsure of the tone, but he didn't dare look the man in the eyes. Instead, he let himself be thrust into the cell, thrown into the dark quarters of disappointment and misery.

"Be careful of Jin Jin – she's a real monster," said the agent through a slit in the door, before closing it and disappearing from Momzen's life.

Not the best parting gift.

"What?" the firebender replied weakly, only beginning to realise that his cellmate could be a convicted criminal or bloodthirsty psychopath.

He stood, cowering at the door, peering with adjusting eyes into the blurry darkness of his cell. He could barely make out feature from shadow, each black blob darkening upon focus.

"Hello?" Momzen asked the darkness, quickly scouring the shadows again for a sign of movement.

He licked his lips. Then slowly took a breath in. He could feel the blackness weigh down his eyelids. He wanted to blink, but if he did he was sure Jin Jin would thrash out from her hiding place and slice his neck with a whittled spoon.

"Um," he continued, not sure what to do about formalities.

Maybe this woman was like him; a bender from another State, imprisoned unjustly because of their nationality.

"Jin Jin?"

Suddenly a snarl tore up the darkness, ripping it apart like a ravenous wolf to a deer, and a figure came swooping towards Momzen.

"No!" he screamed, shielding his face with his arms.

Tears began dribbling down his face as his final seconds of life edged by slowly. He envisioned his parents' faces, and heard his sister's laugh. He saw the sea, and angry soldiers, and the vast, unrelenting desert. It all rolled over him like a heavy wave.

On some part it was refreshing, having everything replay and let go. He could feel his attachment pull away. It was as if he was a puppet all these years, and finally the strings that held him were being cut loose.

But soon he realised his neck was not being sliced by a whittled spoon at the hand of a murderous woman, and that he was actually still in the dark, underground cell, very much alive, and very much attached to strings of remorse and defeat.

And so he continued to sob.

For in that split second Momzen was ready. He had accepted death. Accepted that he had failed, and that he was alone in the world. That he had nobody to cry to, nobody to laugh with, nobody to even look at.

Slowly he opened his tightly shut eyes, hoping through the tears that he'd see his parents before him. Instead he saw a snout, and tendrils flexed around two nostrils.

There were also two eyes; thin, and almost non-existent, but in them Momzen instantly saw something special. Complete trust, utter devotion, and above all, understanding. The beast, Jin Jin, had ceased to gnash at his throat because she knew, knew it all.

The beast was a shirshu, he had read about them in books from home. And she was magnificent. Her fur, albeit cacked in blood and mud, was the only thing that shimmered in the darkness, and her body was rigid and strong. Her calm breath was warm on Momzen's face and soothed his puffy eyes. Gradually the boy sneaked his hand to her chin. She flinched from the initial surprise but then, as if they had had a history longer than time itself, she nuzzled into his gut, leaving Momzen breathless as he found himself embracing the creature.

"Hey, buddy," Momzen laughed nervously, rubbing his face on her soft neck fur.

He had almost forgotten what fur felt like, and had completely forgotten the sensation of a hug. The two continued their embrace into the darkness, relishing the fact that, at long last, they had found someone to whom they could give all their love to. And for both of them, as if by a single ember, the cell became just a bit brighter.

*

The fire now had sunk into a pile of glowing coals, and the group began their sleeping arrangements. Bako and Eya laid out the sleeping bags while Gisgo and Kyoshi packed away the cooking utensils and food.

Momzen, however, was a few feet away, crouching down in the grass. He held Jin Jin's tired face up at his and stared into her thin, blind eyes.

"Okay, Jin Jin, you might not understand but tomorrow you'll be making a big decision."

The shirshu's ears pricked at the boy's incomprehensible speech. Was he saying they were travelling again? Was it time for more food? Nevertheless, she did not take her eyes away from the boy – even though she could barely make him out from the other blurs; however, she kept his odour in sight, and could detect some unease in the scent of his sweat.

Momzen could feel cold tears form in his eyes and so quickly said, "Just know that I love you."

He kissed Jin Jin on the nose then rested his chin on top of her head, sucking in the tears through his teeth. A hand landed tenderly on his shoulder, squeezing ever so slightly. It was Kyoshi. She smiled down at him with a shimmer of sympathy in her eyes. She too was concerned about tomorrow's outcome but was convinced that the shirshu's decision would be the best for Jin Jin. She'd be happy in knowing that Jin Jin was living the best possible life.

"Let her sleep," she mumbled, looking over at the exhausted beast. "She's got a lot of thinking to do."

And right she did. As the two slid into their sleeping bags, warmed by the heat of the smouldering coals, Jin Jin stayed awake through the night. She was worried too what the outcome would be, and what her life would be like without all of her friends.

Tori trotted over and perched herself in the crook of Jin Jin's neck, posing a chatter of nervous questions to the shirshu. Jin Jin replied with a solemn grunt and after a shared pause, the two looking out over their sleeping human companions. Tori finished with chirrup, assuring her friend that her decision would be the right one.

*

"No!"

Kyoshi's eyes snapped open.

"No!"

She had woken to the sound of screaming.

"No!" came Momzen, a distraught expression painted across his cheeks as he scrambled to the river to have a look around.

Jin Jin was gone. All that was left of her was her large imprint in the grass and her saddle.

"What is it?" Gisgo asked, worried Earth State soldiers had caught up to them.

Bako had skidded from inside of his bag and with a defensive stance scowled into the shrubbery. He too thought that enemies were nearby.

"It's Jin Jin!" Momzen choked, turning back to face his friends with wet eyes. "She's gone!"

"Already?" mumbled Eya from her position on the ground, rubbing her eyes.

Bako's arms lowered, realising that the situation was different to what he thought it was. "She didn't even say goodbye?" he asked, disappointed – and slightly offended – that Jin Jin didn't even wake them all up for a farewell.

He was going to miss the shirshu; she was a good friend, and without her they'd never make the Fire State on schedule. Momzen turned back around; wiping his face with his arm and sniffing the snot back up his nose. He could not accept it – would not. Jin Jin wouldn't have left without saying goodbye. He marched back towards the river and scoured the bank. Reeds and cattails lined the river, and the pristine water trickled briskly over smoothened pebbles.

"Huan must've captured her."

"What?" Bako replied, scrunching his face with doubt. "Sure Huan was upset, but he's no thief."

"Yes he is! Why else would Jin Jin not say goodbye? It was him!"

Kyoshi patted her dress of its crinkles, walking over from her sleeping bag.

"Are you sure, Momzen?"

Gisgo cackled.

"You believe him?" the archer continued, shaking his head in disbelief.

"Well, it makes sense!" Kyoshi snapped back. "Why else would she just disappear like this?"

"Maybe she didn't want to hurt us," rebutted Bako, trying to think of a rational reason. "She knew saying goodbye to her would be too hard for us so she-"

"-No!" interjected Momzen with a defiant sway of an arm, eyes on the brink of bursting. "She wouldn't!"

"Would you?" Eya began, stopping to rephrase it gentler. "If you were in Jin Jin's position, wouldn't you rather leave your friends on a good note then leave them sad? And wouldn't saying goodbye be hard for her? You have to think about what it is like for her."

Suddenly Momzen collapsed to his knees, as a steady stream of tears cascaded down his cheeks. His lips quivered hotly; the taste of salt dribbling into his mouth.

"I know her better than anyone," he said, stammering through sobs, trying to hold it all in before looking back up at his friends. "She's been taken. And if nobody wants to come help me that's fine, but I'm going to find Huan."

The firebender wiped his nose then got back up, looking down at his friends with disappointment. His chest was tight and throbbed sharply against his ribcage, but he did not let it faze him. He waited for a reply. Gisgo shook his head.

"Just accept it, Momzen," the man began, rolling his eyes and speaking bluntly through the reed in his mouth. "At long last, Jin Jin's been reunited with her old friend and she's probably the happiest she's ever been."

*

Gisgo couldn't have been more wrong. The shirshu could barely breathe, gnashing helplessly with bared teeth as Huan dragged the writhing beast by a choker strap. Jin Jin could feel the wire dig into her skin, blood matting her fur. She gurgled and wheezed, and dug her claws into the soil hoping to slow down her attacker. The pungent stench of blood and urine penetrated her sensitive snout and pain-filled tears brimmed in her clenched eyes.

With a struggle and some cursing Huan finally heaved the creature into its cage, locking it hastily to avoid being hit by her paralysing tongue. Jin Jin growled out at him furiously, her voice raspy and broken from the choker.

"Shut up you little shit!" Huan spat, completely fed up with her persistence. "You just sit tight and behave or nobody will want to take you!"

Jin Jin roared in reply, her large canines covered in toxic saliva. Her thin eyes were upturned in rage, heart pumping hot, angry blood through her shuddering body. She was in trauma and with her muscles in spasms soon Jin Jin found herself in an exhausted heap on the metal. She could no longer put up a fight. She was completely done, and the fragrance of sunflower oil was sadly nowhere to be smelled.

An animal should not have to realise its impending doom, yet as Jin Jin lay defeated on the floor the realisation came to her through the bars, whispered along on the scared moans and pitiful cries of Huan's other caged creatures. Slowly snippets of history came to the shirshu, as if she were in her final seconds of life and everything was playing out before her. Huan and his crooked smile, capture from authorities, Dai Li agents and their needles, and finally Momzen and Kyoshi – and every other friend she had made since the firebender.

But still a scent did not come and Jin Jin was left only with her blurred vision of the world. The feeling of loneliness, however, was crystal clear.

*

Panting echoed between the two as they marched through dense shrubbery. Momzen, eyes alight with concentration, scoured the bark of trees for any sign of a struggle, the grass below them unseen from the mat of creeping bushes. Hot sunlight blared down on them, but they were determined to find Jin Jin.

"Momzen, how do you know where you're going?" Kyoshi huffed as she followed the boy over a hollowed fallen trunk.

The boy shrugged, looking left, then right, then deciding to continue forward.

"And what if we lose the others?" the Avatar continued. "We don't want to get lost."

"We don't want to lose Jin Jin," replied the boy coldly. "I thought you were with me on this?"

Kyoshi didn't want to argue with Momzen, she didn't, but as the minutes went by he became more and more unreasonable.

"I am, Momzen, but we-"

Ignoring her Momzen turned and continued his search, shaking his head with annoyance.

"Could you just listen to me!" Kyoshi shouted.

Instantly Momzen turned back, eyes wide and shimmering, nostrils flared.

"No! You listen to me! Jin Jin is one of us! And I'm not willing to let her go so easily! She'd do the same for us!"

Kyoshi gritted her teeth then screamed, "Blazing on through the bush isn't going to find her! Just stop and think for a bit!"

"We don't have time to stop, Kyoshi!" Momzen yelled back, clenching his knuckles till they were white. "She could be halfway through the desert by now! Gone!"

Suddenly a beastly wail tore the air and everything became still. Under his shaggy hair Momzen's ears pricked, trying hard to locate the direction from where the sound had come from.

"You hear that?" he whispered to Kyoshi, angry eyes studying each shadow.

Kyoshi nodded, also crouched in a battle stance.

"This way."

Careful of the twigs and leaves below them the two crept east, ducking under dried branches and prickly shrubs. Kyoshi could feel the warm air enter her nose and fill her lungs. Slowly she mounted her energy in her core, making herself ready for any earthbending she'd need to do; each footstep lingering to the dirt she'd use. Momzen, however, could feel his heart pulse inside his chest, sending throbs of blood through his arms. His fingertips were burning, and the emotion he felt was on the verge of cascading out of him like a fireball.

Entering the edge of a clearing the two spotted a circus tent, its red stripes faded and white strips dirtied from age. From it poured a pool of sickening animal cries, their pleas and begs trickling into the dense vegetation in search of salvation.

Quickly Momzen got up and ran toward it.

"Momzen, what are you doing!" Kyoshi screamed from the bushes. "What's the plan?"

Momzen looked over his shoulder at the hidden girl.

"Get Jin Jin and punch Huan in his stupid face!"

Briefly Kyoshi halted in her position. It wasn't the best plan, but she was never one for extravagance.

"Okay," she muttered to herself before getting up and following Momzen into the tent.

Thoughts and apprehension whizzed past her, the circus tent looming as she got close. Momzen ducked under a flap, Kyoshi shortly followed. Things were happening faster than the two could react.

"Here!" Momzen shouted, pointing to a cage filled with Doves of Paradise.

Apparently, Momzen had made the decision of freeing all the animals. Nevertheless, Kyoshi complied, tensing her fingers and punching with a monkey-fist on the lock. In a flash of white and flapping, the flock of doves poured from the confined space, escaping from out of the tent. Now cries and roars filled the tent; the other animals had seen the doves being liberated and desperately wanted the same for themselves. One by one the two stopped at cages, Momzen first heating the lock then Kyoshi smashing it with the golden points on her boots.

Finally Jin Jin came into sight at the end of the room. Together Momzen and Kyoshi ran over, smiles growing on the lips as they neared their imprisoned friend.

"Hey!" came the shrill voice of Huan. "You can't be here!"

Momzen looked over his shoulder, meeting the sneering gaze of Jin Jin's captor.

"I'll handle him," he whispered to Kyoshi before facing the man. "Huan we're taking back Jin Jin."

Huan shook his head, the tips of his thin moustache swaying.

"You are not taking her from me again!"

Swiftly, the man crouched in his laced robe, tearing up a boulder from the soil below. Immediately, he thrust his hand forwards, the boulder hurtling through the air upon instruction.

In defence Momzen raised his right leg, swiping it from his left foot up to his chest. From it blasted a mass of fire. It crashed into the boulder and in mere seconds an explosion of burnt rubble and smoke plumed between the two.

Kyoshi, not letting the spar distract her, concentrated on what she was feeling. Excitement, adrenalin, and a tiny bit of fear; but happiness shone through. She was certain she would never see Jin Jin again, but as her eyes met with Jin Jin's thin ones, and she scratched the shirshu's snout reassuringly Kyoshi could feel her happiness send warm chills across her arms.

Slowly she breathed in and then, trying to not lose focus of what she was feeling, pointed two fingers at the lock. From the tips of her fingers a stream of fire engulfed the lock turning the dull metal bright red. Stepping back Kyoshi then sat in her lumbar, feeling the warmth quickly shift from her chest down into her core. With a robust movement of an arm the lock cracked in two, Jin Jin bursting from her cage down onto Kyoshi.

"She's the Avatar!" exclaimed Huan from behind.

Suddenly a plume of thick smoke enveloped the tent. Apparently, just before Huan had sent forth a rock, his forearms flexed against the weight, and Momzen had destroyed it swiftly with a wave a fire from his fist. Feeling Jin Jin's snout roll under her stomach Kyoshi went limp as the shirshu flicked the girl over her head, down her neck and onto her back. Without the saddle Kyoshi found it hard to hold on to the sheer fur, but nevertheless she gripped the arch of Jin Jin's back as the shirshu carried her out into the open, fresh air. Momzen appeared, relatively unharmed from the fire, and soon after Huan crawled out spluttering and snivelling.

Immediately, Kyoshi trapped the man in stone, holding his arms and hands down with earthen cuffs.

"Come on, guys?" Momzen started, turning to climb onto Jin Jin.

His friend was soft under his palm, and the smell of her fur was a welcome return for his nose.

"Let's go."

Obeying silently Kyoshi climbed aboard and the three left Huan alone to watch his circus burn to ashes. Momzen smiled as they trailed through the scrub. Jin Jin would never know how happy he was at that moment; the warmth of her body under his, the roll of her bones and thick muscles as she walked and, most importantly, her company. Momzen wished her could tell her how he felt, or even fathom words to describe it.

But, unbeknownst to him, Jin Jin did know. She knew exactly the height of his joy, and the breadth of his smile. Sunflowers and sweet oil was ripe in the air, and Jin Jin was sure that as long as she had that scent to smell she was at home. 

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