Leave a Whisper

Disclaimer: I don't own Avatar: The Last Airbender. Sadly enough.

Warnings: Speculation, Spoilers up to Season Three

AN: For AtLA Land's bingo card writing challenge. Prompt was "Wild Card: A Map of Scars."

Sequel to Children of Men.

The scars on his feet are from the Earth Kingdom trails. His boots were too tight, and he was too new a recruit to afford better ones.

His calves bear the brunt of his childhood explorations and climbing the rocky cliffs.

A long slash stretches from his left knee nearly to his groin; it nearly did him in then and still twinges when it rains.

His right flank is a mass of scar tissue. A gift from an angry Agni Kai when he decided to transfer to the navy.

A trio of lines crosses his chest directly above his heart. Evidence that he still has one, even if he doesn't use it wisely.

The burn on his shoulder is a bittersweet memory of a spar gone wrong with Zhao. Simpler times then. When he was still the master of his most hardheaded student.

Marks on his face are actually from his youth. When he and Iroh were dumb young men, all too eager to prove their worth.

The scars that hurt the most, however, are the ones on the inside. Watching people beg but burn alive. Hearing the screams of children. Smelling charred flesh without a single retch. The perpetual taste of copper on his tongue that never seems to go away. Years spent on the run, away from his family but actually being able to sleep at night.

And now, he sits by the fire with Piandao and remembers what it means to trust. He listens to Bumi and Pakku bicker in the background and recalls how to relax. He plays pai sho with Iroh and recollects how they argued as kids. He watches the children run around with smiles and laughter and breathes deep.

Jeong Jeong sips his tea in peace and enjoys the taste of forgiveness.

Ever Hopeful,