"So. When were you gonna tell me?" Jack asked in a deceptively calm tone. He seemed uncharacteristically weighted down as he slouched against the doorframe. They were at North's place; everyone was celebrating the defeat of Pitch Black. There was drinking involved and things got pretty wild. Bunny had escaped the tender mercies of a hangover by distracting North when he came around with the vodka. He didn't like to drink—he hated the taste—so he retreated to the back rooms where there was a vacant room available. Bunny just wanted some peace and quiet after the last few days. Bunny didn't see Jack following him until he called out unexpectedly.

Bunny sighed and sat up to face the winter sprite completely. "Jack…" He sighed again.

"Did you think it was funny?" Jack snapped. "I must've looked so stupid to you; a dumb kid who can't tell the difference between a normal bunny and a spirit. What a laugh!" Jack cried.

Jack was hurt, confused, and betrayed. Bunny didn't blame the kid. Bunny would've been right pissed if Jack did that to him.

That was a long and rather complicated tale; one that started with Bunny being injured in a fight with a ghillie dhu for trying to copy the color of its moss. Apparently the ghillie dhu was camera shy in a violent way. It got offended by Bunny staring at it too long and decided to bodily throw him out of its territory. Bunny would've been fine, except the ghillie dhu decided to curse him to his de-powered form for good measure.

Cursed, powerless, and unable to call for aid, Bunny resolved himself to wait out the curse. It would wear off eventually, the ghillie dhu said. That's when he found Jack Frost.

Bunny almost didn't recognize Jack now from the Jack he met back then. Jack was still new; barely a century old, but he had the weight of a thousand sorrows clinging to his form. It aged Jack; you could tell by the slump of his shoulders and the bags under his periwinkle eyes. Jack was tired back then.

In fact, the first glimpse Bunny got of Jack was the back of his snow-white head as he stared contemplatively at a tree branch. Bunny didn't need to be the guardian of hope to see it draining from Jack Frost like blood from a wound. Jack only tore his eyes away from the branch when Bunny rubbed his cheek against his shin in a silent plea. Don't do it. he begged without words. That was all it took. Jack stared dumbly at Bunny's tiny form for a few moments before dissolving into a mess of tears. He clutched Bunny close to him and whispered over and over that he was lost and he didn't know what to do.

"Please don't leave me." He begged. "I need a friend."

Bunny wouldn't dream of it. He nuzzled the winter sprite again and decided to wait out the curse by Jack Frost's side.

For the next few months, everything was apples. Jack couldn't keep Bunny warm, but he supplied him with enough leaves and twigs to make his own little nest. That's where he slept each night and that's where he waited for Jack to return from his duties as winter itself. Jack played with Bunny, fed him what meager rations he could find, talked to him like he was capable of talking back, and generally just took really good care of him. Bunny in turn was the perfect companion. (He was loathed to use the word pet; it was so humiliating.) He listened to Jack when Jack had a problem, he let Jack cry into his fur and didn't mind too much when Jack clung just a bit too hard, and he brought Jack goodies he would find while meandering through the woods. Everything was fine; great even.

Until the curse wore off. It happened suddenly and out of the blue while Jack was away spreading winter and fun. Bunny was at a loss; how could he explain to Jack how his wee rabbit friend grew into a six foot Pooka warrior who happened to be the Easter Bunny? Bunny eventually figured he couldn't do that to Jack. So he did the only thing he could think of; he left and resumed his life as it was before he disturbed the ghillie dhu.

The Blizzard of '68 was all Bunny's fault, though he'd never admit it. Jack was heartbroken by the loss of his furry friend for a long time. He tried to buck up and act like it didn't bother him, but it did. It all came to a boiling point on Easter that fateful year and Bunny knew that. He had to act like he didn't, so he pushed Jack away. Bunny called Jack awful names and chased him off because he was too much of a coward to face what he did.

None of that mattered now. Jack had seen Bunny in North's sleigh and just knew what he did. Bunny could see it in the lad's wide, bright eyes the second he connected the dots. Jack was either trying to be professional or trying to avoid the confrontation by focusing only on the fight with Pitch. There was time for dealing with lost friendships later; Pitch needed to be stopped and that couldn't wait.

Now that Pitch was no longer an issue, Jack could process what exactly happened that night, and here they are at the climax. Bunny couldn't even look Jack in the eye.

"Answer me!" Jack bellowed. "I've had enough of being ignored! You owe me an explanation."

Oh. Jack was crying now. Bunny hadn't seen Jack cry since they first met. That made Bunny's instincts go all sorts of crazy. He wanted to curl up against Jack like he used to. Bunny wanted to assure Jack that he was loved; by him if by no one else. Bunny wanted Jack to card his fingers though his fur and to have that physical reminder that he's real. But He can't; Bunny doesn't have that right anymore.

"Oh kit…" Bunny breathed. He approached Jack slowly and wiped his tears away. Bunny took it as a good sign when Jack leaned into the touch. "I never meant to hurt ya, Frostbite." He murmured.

Jack jerked his head away and curled defensively around his staff. "Well you did." He snapped.

"I know, Jack, I know." Bunny murmured. His ears lay flat against his skull in a display of guilt. "I thought it would'a hurt ya worse if I stuck around."

"You idiot!" Jack roared. "I wouldn't have cared if you turned into an elephant with pink polka dots and a German accent! I just wanted a friend!"

Jack recoiled from his hasty confession. His rage melted away and left him hollow and ashen-faced. Jack looked up at Bunny with wide, vulnerable eyes still wet with tears. He clutched his staff close to his chest and said,

"That's all I wanted."

"Jack…" Bunny breathed. "I'm so sorry."
Jack made a noncommittal hum. "Sorry, huh?" He mused. "That's nice. It doesn't help much now, does it?"

"No, I s'ppose it doesn't." Bunny sighed. "Would ya at least be willing to give me a chance to make it up to you, Frostbite?"

Bunny really wanted to. Jack was a good kid. Bunny was a fool to let him go like he did. He just kept making mistakes one after the other when it came to Jack, but now was the time to make things right. If Jack would let him, of course.

Jack looked Bunny up and down warily. He gauged the Easter Bunny's sincerity with well-earned doubt. Bunny awaited his verdict with cautious hope. Finally Jack sagged with resignation and simply said,

"Okay."

Just that one word filled Bunny with both great joy and a sense of responsibility. Jack was putting his faith in Bunny for now, but they had a long way to go before their friendship could be salvaged. Right now their bond was like an injured bird in the hands of a stranger; a simple act could either cripple it irrevocably or help it fly free and happy. Bunny was determined to help Jack fly.

"Thank you, Jack." Bunny said.

And he meant it.

—End