I've been working on this for a whole week… and I have nothing to say about it. I'm going to go collapse and work on something else for a while.
So, here you go. Jackunzel superhero fluff, with no actual fighting because I don't like writing fight scenes.
I don't own Rise of the Guardians or Tangled, they're the property of their respective owners.
For once, he had honestly meant to make it back in time for class. And the city had been uneventful, so he didn't have the excuse that he had been fighting some supervillain rampaging through downtown Burgess. Rather, it was the little things, like pulling kids and pets out of the street, and stopping the odd mugging or armed robbery, that added up. So by the time he landed on the roof of Burgess High School, eyes stinging as he shut down his powers and they changed color, he was already fifteen minutes later for social studies. And Mrs. Whitemire was not the type to overlook his frequent tardiness. Last week she'd said one more unexcused absence would result in an automatic F.
Jack grabbed his backpack from where he'd left it behind the heating duct on the school roof. He tugged on the jeans and the worn blue hoodie he'd shoved into the backpack before he'd left at the start of his lunch period. He hated wearing street clothes over his skintights, but he could feel the clock ticking. And not because he was leaning against the school clock tower to keep his balance as he yanked off his boots and shoved his feet into his sneakers.
"This is my life?" he muttered, just remembering to take off his mask and gloves before he opened the door and jumped down the stairs, his powers of flight carrying him down to the floor, and allowing him to land safely.
He dropped his skateboard to the laminate floor and used it coast down the halls, calling on the breeze that blew through the vents to propel him, and using his flight to maintain balance. He ignored the red and pink hearts that had already begun to appear around the hall.
Once, he'd actually cared about school, though it seemed like a life time ago. But freshman year his straight A's had plummeted. And though he'd managed to pull them up, he still barely scrapped a passing grade. More than halfway through senior year, teachers still asked him what had gone wrong – why he'd seemingly abandoned his studies.
What had happened was that he'd developed a mutant gene. And, like any other fifteen year old with serious delusions, he'd gotten it into his head that becoming a superhero was a good idea.
Since then, he'd decided that it had been a terrible decision.
It had, quite frankly, ruined his life. And he wasn't even thinking about grades when he said that. But it was hard to get worked up over a grade when his nights were spent beating up, and being beaten by, the lowest forms of life in the city. Once you'd survived a couple rounds with the Nightmare King, it all seemed pointless.
This was his life.
He didn't even bother trying to pretend he wasn't late as he pulled open the door, skateboard once more in his hand.
"And the infamous Jackson Overland finally deigns to join us," Mrs. Whitmire said, looking at him over the edge of her glasses, lips pursed in obvious disapproval. They probably wouldn't have gotten along even if Jack didn't have the whole double identity getting in the way of scholastic achievements.
"Sorry I'm late. I—"
"Miss Corona already made your excuses, Overland. Just take your seat."
Jack looked towards the front row – the place where he normally didn't allow his eyes to go. Rapunzel looked up from her notebook at the same moment, gaze meeting his. His heart twisted as one corner of her mouth twisted upward in a weak smile.
Why? His mind screamed, and it took all his effort not to ask the question outloud.
Instead he ducked his head and sat in the nearest empty seat, pulling a notebook and mechanical pencil from his backpack.
Against his will, his eyes went back to that seat in the front row. Now they'd been there once, he couldn't seem to stop them any more.
She was diligently copying notes as Miss Whitmire went on about something he couldn't bring himself to care about. Her golden hair was clipped back off her face with a rose hair accessory, though most of it was left down, like a golden waterfall cascading down her back. She looked like summer in the middle of the drab classroom, legs daintily crossed at the ankles, wearing a green dress and a white denim jacket.
Jack sighed and looked back down at the blank page of his notebook. Reaching up he slid off the ear cuff he wore on his right ear, rubbing the shell of his ear. After nearly seven years, the skin and cartilage were sore from being squeezed by the metal. He closed his eyes at the small reliefe.
When he opened them again, he saw Rapunzel watching him. She looked away the moment their eyes met, but not before he saw her blush bright pink. And it hit him again.
He missed her smile, and her voice, and that little sassy edge she got at times.
He missed her.
High school couldn't end soon enough, he decided, sliding his ear cuff back into place, cringing a little when his finger brushed the newest stud in his lobe, still sore from the recent piercing.
He was sorting through papers in his locker, trying to figure out what he needed to take him with him. When he didn't pay attention in class, it was hard to remember what was due when. And he was finding papers from months ago, that he thought had gotten lost at some point. Some from months ago. He should probably go through and clean it out, when he could find a few spare hours.
Right. When did he ever have a few spare hours?
Around him students talked and called to each other, pushing to get to their lockers, or out to the parking lot. The usual buzz of worthless chapter about things that didn't matter. It was all so infuriatingly pointless.
A couple lockers down, he could hear a girl bemoaning her recent breakup, while her friends helped her throw a full on pity party.
She was better off. Jack had seen her with her boyfriend – and after four years at the school he'd seen the guy enough to know he was a jerk. Why couldn't girls tell when their boyfriends were worthless? Adults talked about it all the time, trying to raise awareness or whatever, bur sure as the sun and the moon, girls looked for love in all the wrong places.
Jack watched it all and rolled his eyes.
This time of year it was always worse, because no one wanted to be single on Valentine's Day. It was worse then any other school dance, because it extended beyond the walls of the school, and into the whole city, until everything was infected with pink corn syrup and chocolate.
The normal scurry occurred, the same as when every dance approached. Couples broke up when one thought they had a better prospect. On-again-off-again couple got back together; except for the odd ones who bunked convention and broke up just to spite the holiday (though that didn't make much sense to Jack). Occasionally someone would get up the courage to say how they felt, to be accepted or rejected.
And in the middle was Jackson Overland, with his piercings, his tattoo, pessimistic attitude, and a penchant for coming to school covered in bruises. The iceberg that sunk the Titanic, as far as his peers were concerned. (The over romanticized version of Titanic.)
He felt his heart twist, even as he looked up from the papers he'd been scanning to meet those green doe eyes.
"Blondie?" It came out so perfectly casual – just like the thousand times they had done it before, as if nothing had changed. Though they both knew everything had changed. He could see it in her eyes.
She hesitated a moment, gripping her books to her chest. So cliché. But it was her, so he didn't mind.
He waited for her to speak. If she was talking to him, it had to be something important. He half expected her to say she needed Jack Frost's help. If that was the case, he wouldn't be able to get into his skintights fast enough. (Rather, since they were still under his clothes, he wouldn't be able to shed the outer layer fast enough.) Only for her.
He put his math text book in his backpack and looked over to see her biting her lower lip. "What's up?"
The words came out in a rush, so he wasn't sure he'd heard right. Especially since he was sure he'd misunderstood anyway.
"What?" he asked, biting back a laugh.
"I heard one of the girls saying you'd pierced your tongue… and I was wondering if it was true," she said, her words closer to normal speed.
"Uh… no." He stuck out his tongue for her to see.
She looked more than a little relieved. "I saw you got another in your year, but I didn't think you'd go that far."
Jack shook his head as he unbuckled his skateboard from his backpack. "My mom requested I not do my face, and since she doesn't give me a hard time for the tattoos, I agreed. I wasn't going to anyway. Why?"
She hugged her books tighter to her chest, not meeting his eyes. "I was curious."
"Uh-huh. Well, for the sake of curiosity then, why did you cover for me?"
She didn't meet his gaze, instead looking down at the laminate floor as though she wanted to hide.
"Don't get me wrong: I'm grateful. I just… I didn't expect it."
"She said she'd fail you if you were late again," Rapunzel said, finally meeting his eyes. "I couldn't let that happen."
"Thanks." He shut his locker and clicked the combination in place. For a moment they stood there awkwardly, looking at each other, waiting for the other to say something. They'd been friends since preschool, and this was the first time they'd ever not had nothing to say – baring the past nine months, when they hadn't talked. But Jack at least had had a million things he wanted to talk to her about in those nine months. Now, most of them vanished, and the few that pressed he wasn't sure if he was allowed to ask.
Everything had changed, and he didn't know where he stood with her anymore. Except that they weren't what they had been. So where did that leave them? The fingers that gripped his skateboard flexed and tightened.
"Is there anything else? Did you want to see my tattoo?" It came out casual, though he wanted to show her. He'd wanted to since he'd first gotten it.
"So that one's not just a rumor?" she asked, quirking an eyebrow.
He grinned and pulled down the collar of his shirt, to show her the snowflake just under his left collarbone. The polymesh blend of his skintights took some effort to stretch, but he got it low enough to reveal most of the intricate snowflake.
"It's beautiful," she said, then her smile turned wry. "My compliments to whoever designed it."
Jack smirked. "You left it lying around in my room. Finders, keepers."
She opened her mouth, as though to ask a question, but she closed it quickly. But he knew what it would have been.
The snowflake had been part of a larger design that she had sketched out last year: his snowflake and her sun. Before their breakup, he'd planned to get the whole thing, with the sun over his head. Now, though, it would have just been a bitter reminder of what he didn't have any more.
"What about you?" he asked, letting go of his collar. "Your birthday is coming up."
"Probably not," she said wryly.
"What about a piercing?" he poked her stomach lightly. "You'd look cute with a belly ring."
She blushed, and tucked a lock of hair behind her ear. "I don't think so."
"Nah, you're perfect," he said, trying to keep his tone light. He couldn't be sure how well he did. "Don't ever change, Rapunzel."
It was the perfect exit line, so Jack turned and started walking down the hall, towards the front door. To his surprise, Rapunzel fell into step beside him.
Most people got out of his way. Because, while he tended to avoid people as best he could, they didn't extend the same courtesy to him. They seemed to find him a fascinating topic of conversation – like the girl saying his tongue was pierced. Why, he had no idea. He just wanted to get though high school in blissful anonymity.
"Have you decided what you're doing for college?" he asked, looking over at her. It seemed like a natural question, considering they were seniors. But it had been nagging at him for a while, wondering.
It had been so long since they talked (nine months, three weeks, five days), and he had no clue what was going on in her life. Same for the few snatches he caught around the school, or things his mother mentioned after running into Rapunzel's.
"Burgess University has a good nursing program, and art classes for my minor," she said.
"I thought you were joking," he admitted, and his voice was far from casual.
He remembered when she'd first mentioned becoming a nurse, while she'd bandaged his cracked ribs sophomore year – after twenty minutes reading medical sites to get a clue what she was doing. He'd been lying on her bedroom floor, trying to find a way to inhale that didn't hurt.
"At first I was. But if fits, I think."
They passed through the crowded foyer of the school, where the press of teenagers congesting the doorway meant even his reputation wasn't enough to get them a clear path.
A table had been set up by the stairs, where students could buy flowers to be delivered to their crush/significant other's class on Valentine's day. A dollar for a carnation, five for a rose. A complete rip off, since last year he'd bought Rapunzel a dozen roses for ten dollars from the grocery store down the street.
Rapunzel squeaked as someone knocked into her, and she stumbled into Jack's side. On instinct he wrapped an arm around her shoulders, keeping her close as they made their way through the throng of students.
When they made it to the front door he held it open, dropping his arm quickly now they had room to breathe. They stepped out into the watery sunlight of the Burgess suburbs in February, and Jack inhaled the fresh air. The breeze played his hair as they went down the concrete steps to the sidewalk.
"Where are you headed?" Coming to a stop, he turned to face her.
"Hiccup's." He dropped his skateboard to the ground and used his foot to position it. "My costume got, uh, trashed."
"But you went out today."
"I've been wearing an old one for the past couple days," he said. "For once I actually had two… but they both died this month. My new one should be ready, unless the shop was busy."
Hiccup owned a mechanic shop in town, the basement of which served as a base of operations for him, Jack, and Merida. It was a place they could store supplies and get medical attention, or use the gym set up in one corner. There was also a sewing machine and bolts of the durable polymesh blend they used for their costumes. But after a couple incidents involving Merida and needles, Hiccup was the only one allowed to touch them.
"I'll look for it on the news," Rapunzel smiled. "I can see the headlines, 'Jack Frost unveils new costume.'"
Jack rolled his eyes. "Yeah. If I end up on that superhero segments of Fashion Police again, I might break something."
"They usually like your costumes," she reminded. "You always score well."
"Did they have to show that close up of my backside so many times?" he asked, referring to the last time he'd gotten a new costume and ended up on Fashion Police. They'd gotten some footage, including a shot of him from the back that now felt notorious. He wished he could forget some of the things the commentators had said.
Rapunzel blushed bright red, and stuttered out an incoherent reply.
"I just want everyone to leave me alone," he said, running a hand through his hair. "I'm one person out of 8 billion."
"I'm a freak, you mean?" he asked, voice bitter. He regretted his words and tone as soon as he saw her crest fallen expression.
"You know I don't think that, Jack."
"I know you don't," he said. "But sometimes I do."
He shook his head. "I've gotta go."
"You're on TV again," Emma said, when he came downstairs the next morning.
Rubbing his eyes, still trying to get his brain together from sleep, Jack looked over at the TV, where the morning news played back footage of last night's fight with the freak-of-the-week. After four years he couldn't be bothered learning their names until the third fight. This one was some punk kid with a rocket powered skateboard and a serious attitude who decided the best way to earn some quick cash was holding up corner stores.
"Why do you watch it?" he asked his mother, who leaned against the counter with her coffee, watching the footage. "It just upsets you."
"Because you refuse to tell me just how bad your fights are." Helen Overland sighed. "Let me see that bruise."
He had just opened the fridge in search of something to eat. With a sigh he grabbed two cups of yogurt and shut the door as he turned back to his mother so she could examine the bruise on his left cheek. "It was a lucky shot. The kid didn't have a clue how to hit."
"Someday you're going to have children, and I hope you remember this moment so you can apologize to me."
"I'll apologize, but my having kids is unlikely," he muttered.
He'd never bothered hiding from her. He'd read enough comics as a kid to realize it was safer if she knew, so she could be aware of possible danger if anyone found out who he was. And, ultimately, it was easier. When his grades dropped she hadn't given him a hard time – she'd offered to homeschool him. An offer he sometimes wished he'd accepted.
"Do you have a story, or will you let me cover it up?"
"If anyone asks I'll say Hiccup and I were shooting hoops and I got hit by the ball." He tore the foil lid off one of his yogurts.
Not that anyone would ask. They would rather come up with some ridiculous rumor.
Occasionally he would let her slather cover up on his face or arms to mask the bruises. But it made his skin itch, and he spent the whole day paranoid he'd accidentally rub it off. And he didn't have Rapunzel to drag him into the space under the back staircase to touch it up any more.
"I like the new costume," Emma said.
"I don't," Jack muttered. He grabbed a blueberry muffin from the box on the counter. "The finger stripes are distracting."
"What do you mean, 'finger stripes'?"
He was chewing a bite of muffin, so he traced the line from his shoulder, down his arm and over his middle and ring fingers, which was a blue path on his otherwise black uniform. "Finger stripes."
"Oh, those things. I was wondering what the deal was."
"Hiccup is clearly bored," Jack muttered. "He and Merida need to just get married already." Taking his food, he went back upstairs to get ready for school.
He was sitting in his second period chemistry class, trying to read over the text book to get an idea what the heck he was study, when someone sat down in the desk in front of him and held out an iPhone for him to look at. The sudden proximity made him flinch, and he looked up to see Rapunzel grinning at him.
He eyes went to the screen of her phone, which she held out to him.
Jack Frost Debuts Sexy New Costume
He stared at the headline, then the photo underneath.
"You gotta be kidding."
"The Fashion Police website," she said, still grinning like the cat that ate the canary. "Jack Frost is main story."
"I know you watch the show, but you read the website?"
"Not usually," she said, turning her phone so she was looking at the screen. "But I saw the news this morning and wanted to see what they had to say."
"I didn't write it."
"You're enjoying it, though."
She didn't respond, her finger running up the screen. "Five out of five – actually, the writer says is should be six out of five."
Jack groaned, smacking his forehead against his textbook. "Anything else?"
"She says the blue accents flatter your form… I'll leave out the adjectives. She likes the lines down the arms. I'm… not saying that out loud."
"Thank you," he said, still not lifting his head from his textbook. "I prefer when the papers call me a menace."
"The new editor-in-chief at the Star seems to be advocating you," Rapunzel said. "They couldn't sing your praises enough on the front page today."
"His daughter was kidnapped a few months ago. The kidnappers were found frozen to the floor of the warehouse, his daughter was returned safely. Ta-da."
"That explains it."
He lifted his head enough to look at her through his bangs, watching as she continued to scan whatever was on the screen. For a moment he thought about not asking and sparing himself… then he saw her brows rise. "What else?"
"I'm just reading some of the comments. Let's just say people like it."
He put his face back into his textbook, ignoring the pain as the slick page pressed against part of his bruise.
Jack cringed at the voice, and heard someone sit down in the desk next to Rapunzel.
"Oh, hey, Flynn.
Go away, Jack though bitterly.
He, Flynn and Rapunzel had three classes together, so Jack had watched over the past few weeks as Flynn's interest in her grew, and became a full on flirtation. He tried to ignore it – he tried not to look at her period. It was inevitable that she would move on – inevitable that someone else would be interested. He reminded himself he had broken up with her, and he wanted her to be happy.
But there was a selfish part of him (and it wasn't exactly small) that wanted her to be happy with him. Not Flynn, or anyone else.
He exhaled, trying to wrap those thoughts up in a tight ball and hide them in the darkest parts of his mind. And trying not to listen and Rapunzel talked animatedly. He couldn't tell if Rapunzel was being friendly but hard-to-get, or if she was friendly but not interested. And it was bugging him.
Maybe this was punishment for his selfishness.
For the first time in his life, he was grateful when the PA system chimed and the teacher called the class to order. He still had no idea what he was supposed to be learning.
Still, he was distracted, wondering why it suddenly bothered him more than it had a couple days before.
Maybe yesterday's conversation had reminded him of what had been. Even when he wasn't able to hold her hand, or hold her, she had been his best friend. He'd been able to talk to her in a way he couldn't talk to anyone else, even to Hiccup. Because he and Rapunzel had been sharing secrets since elementary school, when their secrets hadn't been worth hiding. And even if he couldn't hold her the way he once had, he wised everything else. After yesterday's reminder of what he lost, he couldn't deny he wanted that back. Maybe he couldn't have his girlfriend back. But back he could get his best friend back.
Flynn leaned over to whisper something to Rapunzel, and she giggled softly before replying.
Jack's fist clenched, and his felt his powers start to rise up in his chest, his blood running cold. He closed his eyes when he felt the indescribable shivering that meant they were trying to change color in response to the sudden surge. He pulled his hood up quickly, to cover his hair in case he couldn't get himself under control before his hair started to change. Once more he pressed his forehead into his text book, to hide his bangs.
"If you could at least pretend to pay attention, I would appreciate it," Mrs. Martinez said.
Jack took a deep breath, still fighting to quell the inner frost inside him.
Another breath. The pressure was dissipating. And the feeling in his eyes had stopped. He slowly sat up, leaning back in his chair.
"Thank you." She went back to her lesson.
And he sat there for an hour, ignoring the girl in front of him and her shameless admirer, and poured all his focus into keeping the ice at bay. Until the bell rang, and he was free to go.
"So, the Valentine's Dance," Flynn said, leaning towards Rapunzel's desk, as soon as the bell ended.
Jack fumbled the ear buds he'd been about to put in.
"What about it?" she asked.
Flynn glanced over at Jack from the corner of his eyes, probably aware he was asking a girl out while her ex-boyfriend sat right behind them. But Jack pretended to be focused on scrolling through his iPod.
"Do you wanna go?"
Hopefully Jack didn't need the molar he was currently grinding into oblivion.
"With you?" Rapunzel asked.
And this time, there was no denying that little flirtatious quirk in her voice.
"That's generally why a guy asks."
Wasn't there some unspoken rule between guys that you didn't ask a girl out in front of her ex? He'd never been fond of Flynn, but now he couldn't stand him.
Rapunzel didn't answer right away, and Jack couldn't resist the urge to look up… and their eyes met for a moment. Sapphire blue met forest green, and her expression told him enough to fill a book… though he wasn't sure exactly what she was telling him.
So he just watched as she turned back to Flynn, with a smile that put the sun to shame. "Sure."
Flynn looked between her and Jack for a moment… then just shrugged and looked back at her. "I'll pick you up around eight?"
Jack grabbed his backpack and left before he could hear any more.
By the next day, Flynn and Rapunzel were widely regarded as the school's golden couple. Jack got his wish in the face that everyone ignored him in favor of talking about the two.
The girl three lockers down from his was still moping about her break up. She'd descended into a melancholy that was almost impressive, if over dramatic.
Valentine's day arrived like any other day, but with a difference that was almost palpable. It was nice when he came downstairs and his mother's face told him the dozen roses he'd left in a vase on the counter the night before had been appreciated. And Emma seemed pleased with the heart shaped box of chocolate he tossed her.
That was where 'nice' ended.
When he arrived at the school, it looked though the Valentine's Day Monster had thrown up all over the halls. Streamers hung everywhere, along with paper hearts and a Happy Valentines Day sign banner hung from the railing of the upstairs hallway. Jack cringed inwardly at the lack of an apostrophe. But Hallmark had claimed the Holiday and slapped on a tragically comic misrepresentation of the Roman deity of love, with no regard for the Christian martyr who had refused to stop performing marriage ceremonies just because the emperor went nuts.
That, in Jack's mind, was romantic.
A Pepto-Bismol pink heart with a generic line taped to the front of his locker by whichever club was responsible for decorating the school, and couples exchanging saliva at every possible interval, was not.
But nobody asked him.
Three lockers down from his, the girl looked ready to burst into tears as she gathered her books. Jack actually felt sorry for her.
With his own books in hand, he turned to head for class – and found himself face to face with Rapunzel, who squeaked when he almost walked right into her.
"Sorry," he muttered, adjusting the strap over his shoulder.
Her hair was down, in waves the evoked old Hollywood glamor. Her outfit was simple: a rose red, long sleeved shirt that hugged her curves, and a white skirt that flared around her knees. Jack was pretty sure he remembered the sugary taste of the raspberry lip gloss she was wearing. The thought of Flynn tasting it from her lips made his blood run cold. Literally.
He'd been wrong.
Pink hearts were not hell.
This was hell.
"I-I just wanted to give you this," she said, handing him an envelope from the stack she held. Valentine's cards for all her friends. His name was written across the front in her loopy writing, a small snowflake after the Overland. "And, can you give these to Hiccup and Merida? And these are for your mom and Emma."
She was killing him.
It would be kinder if she just pried open his ribs, ripped out his heart and kicked it across the floor.
He looked down at the five envelopes he held, wishing to be anywhere else.
"I don't have anything for you," he said, steeling his nerves and meeting her gaze.
She bit her lip, green eyes hesitant. "There is something I'd like."
"Name it." He wished the words didn't rush to his lips so quickly. But he couldn't deny her anywhere. If she asked him to cut out his heart and give it to her on a silver platter, it would be hers.
He froze when she reached up, fingers brushing his right ear. Then he felt her touch his ear cuff. And when he met her eyes, she was asking.
"Won't your boyfriend get jealous?" he asked, bitterly.
"It's what I want," she said simply.
"You couldn't ask for my first born child, or something easy like that?" he asked, even as he reached up and slid the silver cuff off his ear.
It was a simple piece of metal, curved into a ring, save for the gap where it clasped the ear. He'd bought it as part of pack from Claire's for a couple dollars (actually, Emma bought them, since he wasn't about to walk into a store for preteen girls). The steel plating on the edges had already been away, revealing the copper underneath.
He slid it onto her ear, careful of the silver and ruby dangling earrings she already wore.
Without a word, she turned away with a smile, going over to give valentines cards to a cluster of girls further down the hall.
Why couldn't she have just asked for his heart on a platter?
Probably because the blood would stain her white jacket. She couldn't have that.
Jack sighed as he headed to class.
Once he'd gotten over the initial pain of the breakup, he'd been all right. He'd kept busy. Gotten hit enough times to make sure he remembered why he broke up with her. But all that had been undone in the past three days. How did that work?
Maybe he needed sense knocked into him.
Every time he saw his cuff on her ear throughout the day, the more he died inside.
Sirens blared as Jack looked up at the dragon climbing up the tallest sky scraper in Burgess.
When he'd told Hiccup and Merida to have a night to themselves, he'd assumed he wouldn't be the only superhero on patrol. But apparently all the others had fallen prey to the Valentine's trap, because he hadn't run into any of the others. Specifically, where was Rose while he chased her arch-nemesis all over Burgess?
Nowhere to be seen. That was all that mattered.
Ice was useless against Maleficent in her dragon form, since she could just melt it with her green fire.
At his side, his left arm was numb and heavy, blood dripping down the blue finger stripes he complained asbout so much. Breathing hurt. The unique hurt that told him his ribs were cracked. He was losing blood from his arm, and a gash on his right leg, and another on his side.
Well, Valentine's day was supposed to be red.
He almost laughed at that. But his ribs made laughter painful. This day got better and better.
Jack looked back at the dragon. He wasn't sure he could handle another round with her.
Ice was useless against Maleficent in her dragon form, since she could just melt it with her green fire.
Jack looked at his burned left calf, and hoped Hiccup wouldn't be too upset about having to make a new costume so soon.
He turned to see Firefly hovering beside him.
"Where's Rose? Isn't Maleficent supposed to be her problem?" he asked.
"I don't know," she said, looking toward the dragon as it continued climbing up the skyscraper in front of them.
"Helpful," Jack muttered. "I'm no good against a dragon."
"Where's Night Fury? Isn't he a dragon expert?"
"Then we'll have to do," she said. "I'll hit her straight on, came around behind her. If we can wear her out, she should shift back."
Jack took a deep breath and steeled himself for one last round. Then he could get some treatment for his battered and bruised body.
He'd survived Rapunzel ripping his heart out and stabbing it every time he saw her ear cuff. But comparison, this should be easy. Right?
He was seriously starting to question his sense of logic.
But he wiped his split lip and nodded.
It took a half hour to wear Maleficent down so she returned to her human form, even with the two of them. But once she changed, she was powerless. And Jack was left trying to figure out where to go for his injuries.
Hiccup and Merida were who-knew-where.
His mother was chaperoning Emma's dance at the middle school. Why middle schoolers needed a Valentine's dance was beyond him. But he hadn't been consulted.
The hospital was out. They would ask too many questions.
Waiting didn't seem like a good idea, with the blood he'd already loss, and a couple cuts that seemed to be at high risk of infection.
That left just one option. Considering the way this day had gone, he wasn't even surprised.
So he found himself at the Corona household, gripping the sill of Rapunzel window with one hand while he rapped on the glass with his knuckles. Her lacy white curtains were closed, so he could see that the light was on, but couldn't tell if she was there. Only then did he realize he had no idea what time it was, though it was probably well past eight. But she was likely at the dance, not sitting at him.
Great. He tapped the glass again, in the vain hope that by some miracle she would be there.
When the curtains opened, and she looked at him through the glass, he was momentarily stunned, staring up at her. Both their eyes widened, and his felt his heart throb in his chest in relief.
Her hair was pulled back into a half updo, and she wore a red dress – an Empire waistline, his mind remembered vaguely from years of listening to her while he sat in her room reading while she sewed her own clothes. Red organza flowed just past her knees. She was beautiful, and he missed her, and it was killing him. She looked absolutely beautiful. That hurt worse than anything Maleficent had done to his body. Or anything anyone had ever done to his body.
She opened the window.
He stumbled over the window sill and into her room, landing on the floor with unsteady feet. He gripped the edge of the shelf next to the window for balance. His boots left dirt and ash smeared on the white carpet. A painful reminder of exactly why he'd broken up with her – because he didn't want to smear blood and shadows over her life. But here he was again.
"For what?" she asked.
"To bother you," he said. "I don't have anywhere else to go."
"It's all right," she said. "Just let me get my first aid kit." She moved as if to touch his shoulder, but stopped just before her fingers touched where the fabric had been burned away, leaving his skin an angry red, white blisters already starting to form, under the layer of ice his powers had formed to cover the burn. She bit her lip, and he though he saw the shine of tears in her green eyes, but she turned away too quickly for him to be sure. "Hang on."
Jack took a shaky breath, ignoring the pain in his free arm caused by lifting it to get a hold of the zipper on the front of his tattered skintights. They'd lasted him only three days. That had to be a new record.
His left hand kept a firm grip on the shelf for balance as he tugged the zipper down, breath catching as the fabric scraped over injured skin. He let go of the shelf only to shrug out of the shirt. His shoulder screamed when it was forced to move, then when the fabric grated over the burn.
In the mirror on the far wall he could see his reflection. The red burn on his shoulder, the molten black and green bruise forming where the dragon's tail had slammed into his chest. Another on his right side, where his ribs were cracked.
Rapunzel came back from her bathroom with her first kit and a stack of towels that she laid out on the floor to protect the carpet.
They had done this before.
While she went back into the bathroom, Jack lowered himself onto the towel, leaning back against the side of her bed, a small gasp of pain escaping when his ribs were jostled. It took everything he had to bite back a louder protest, but he didn't exactly want to get her parent's attention.
He shivered as his powers receded, and his body felt as though it had been doused with ice water before his body heat rose enough to melt the layer of frost on his skin.
Rapunzel came back with a bowl of warm water and a rag. She knelt beside him on the floor, smoothing the soft fabric of her dress over her knees before dipping the rag in the water and pressing it to his split lip.
"Are you all right?" she asked. "Besides the obvious?"
No, he was not all right. But he couldn't begin to explain that to her.
"Cracked ribs," he said, as she moved to the cut over his eyebrow. "Just like old times. Happy Valentine's day," he added darkly. "A bloody valentine."
He saw her smile wryly as she moved to wipe the cut on his arm.
"Don't you have a date?" he asked, tone coming out bitter at the thought of Flynn anywhere near her. Especially as his eyes disobeyed him to follow the thin spaghetti strap as it fell off her shoulder. With his uninjured arm he pushed it back into place.
"I couldn't go," she said.
"What do you mean, 'couldn't go'?"
She didn't answer, didn't look up from her work.
"Rapunzel, if he—"
"Because I thought of you," she said, an edge creeping into her voice as she finally met his eyes. "I looked in the mirror and realized I was going to spend the entire night thinking about you – wishing I was with you. I'm not going to do that to Flynn or to me. Or to you."
"Then why did you agree to go with him?"
"Because I thought I wanted to. But the past few days…" she dipped the now bloody rag back into the water, rinsing and rewarming it before she started washing the cut on his side. "Even if you don't love me anymore, I can't change that I do."
Jack balked. "Since I'm already bleeding on your bedroom floor, let's be very clear. I didn't break up with you because I don't love you."
"No, you broke up with me for my own good, or some nonsense like that." She rummaged in her first aid kit and pulled out a tube of antiseptic. "Because you got scared."
"Yes, I did," he said. "Because I almost lost you."
"So you'd rather sit back and watch me date Flynn?"
"If that's what you want," he said.
"It's not what I want!" she said. "I want you."
"Do you think this year has been easy for me?" he asked. "I panicked, and I dropped the most precious thing in my life. When I snapped out of it, I knew you had every right not to talk to me again, and I didn't know how to reach out."
She didn't respond as she spread antiseptic over the cut on his forehead, his lip, his shoulder, his chest.
Jack leaned his head back against the bed, not knowing what to say or do. Well, there wasn't much he could do, since he had to sit still. He tried to take a deep breath, but stopped when his ribs protested in agony.
They didn't say anything until she had finished applying the gel to his injuries, and had started bandaging his arm.
"I'm sorry," he whispered, not lifting his head from where it rested against her mattress.
There were several tense moments, and he wondered if she was going to kick him out as soon as she was done treating his wounds.
Finally she spoke.
"Flynn makes a slam dunk in a high school basket ball game, and everyone thinks he's a hero. You put your life on the line for people you don't know, and they call you a freak."
"They don't know that I get clobbered by dragons," he reminded.
"But I do," she said. "How can I replace you with someone like him? How can I love anyone the way I love you when they don't have your heart?"
"Because someone like him won't come home battered and bruised, needing you to put him back together every night."
"What if I want to, Jack? What if putting you back together is how I want to love you?"
"And what exactly do I give you in return?" he asked, lifting his head to look at her. "What do I have to give anyone?"
"Just let me be the one you come to," she said.
He was woken up by the sound of a cellphone ringing, though he immediately knew it wasn't his. He didn't use bubblegum pop for his ringtones. He started to move, but his body was sore and stiff so he stopped.
He lay on his uninjured side, one what he guessed as the floor. He could feel the weight of blankets over him, keeping him warm.
The ringing stopped.
"Hello?" Rapunzel asked, her voice groggy.
Last night was starting to come back to him. He hadn't known what to say, and after a while she'd notice him struggling to keep his eyes open and told him to sleep. He knew there were about 20 very logical reasons not to fall asleep on her floor… but he'd been too exhausted to listen to them.
"He's here," Rapunzel said. "Sorry, I should have called you. He fell asleep while I was cleaning him up."
He heard another set of blankets rustle and Rapunzel leaned over the side of her bed to press her fingertips against the pulse point at his throat.
"He's asleep, but he'll be okay," she said. "I'll have him call when he wakes up. All right. Bye." Her phone beeped, and he heard her exhale as she hung up.
"Who was it?" His mouth was dry, making his voice thick.
"Your mom." Her voice was slightly slurred. "She didn't freak out that you slept here."
"She's already watched the news," he guessed. "She knows I couldn't do anything, even if I wanted to."
Rapunzel hummed in response.
Jack wanted to roll over, but knew his cracked ribs wouldn't be able to handle that.
"Gimme a few more hours," he murmured, closing his eyes.
When he woke up again the sleepy haze around his brain was gone. His eyes blinked opened, looking around Rapunzel's room. It was brightly lit with the late morning sunlight that made the golden walls seem to glow. He looked at the painting of birds on the ceiling above him as he gathered his thoughts, preparing to sit up. He was rested, but his body still ached with pain, and was stiff from sleeping on the floor. He made a mental note not to do that again, especially when he was injured.
With a groan he sat up, running a hand through his hair as he looked around.
"Good morning," Rapunzel said, and he looked over to see her sitting on the bed, looking up from the novel she was reading.
"Is it?" he asked.
"It's still before noon, if that's what you mean." She set her book aside. "How are you feeling?"
"Everything hurts," he said, swallowing as he steeled himself against have to stand up. "But I've survived worse."
He braced a hand on the mattress beside him and rose to his feet carefully, figuring out exactly how much his legs could take to be sure he wouldn't fall over. "I think I'm going to bed as soon as I'm getting home, though. I'm not going anywhere for a while."
Luckily home was just a couple blocks away, so he wouldn't have to fly far. Even flying seemed like a dangerous process, in his current state.
"I wish you could just stay here," she said. "But my parents are bound to come in eventually."
Jack snorted. "Right. Their daughter's ex-boyfriend sleeping on her floor in a bloody mess. I don't have the energy to deal with that disaster."
"I know what you mean," she sighed.
Jack nodded, looking around for the top of his skin tights.
"I meant what I said last night," she said softly.
"I know you did," he said, turning to look at her. "And I don't know what to say."
"That's you're sorry for being a jerk, and you still love me, and you want me back."
He chuckled, but the sound faded as his ribs reminded him of their situation. "Is that all it would take?"
"If you mean them."
"I'm sorry," he said. "I never should have let you go."
She set her book aside and stood up in front of him. Her fingers brushed over an uninjured patch of his chest.
"It's still dangerous," he reminded.
"I don't care." She stepped closer.
"Jack, just kiss me."
He leaned down, ignoring complaints from some of his injuries, brushing his lips against hers as he reached up to cup her face.
It was like their first kiss all over again: fumbling lips and trembling fingers as they tried to find their places.
He spent his weekend confined to bed, by order of his mother. Not that he was fighting her – he could barely breathe, and walking was a painful experience. He and Rapunzel had decided not to tell her parents they were back together until his bruising was gone so he would look presentable. So she couldn't come by. Their texting was back to constant, though.
Saturday Hiccup and Merida came to check up on him, with a note from Rose apologizing for not being there to help against her nemesis, and wishing him a speedy recovery. Jack had rolled his eyes, crumpled it up in his hands and tossed it into the trash bin on the far side of his room. And he actually did homework.
Sunday he was allowed to take over the couch and watch movies all day. Rapunzel came over for a few hours… though it was a little spoiled for Jack that they watched Hamlet for lit class, and she had to spend the whole time translating the old English for him, explaining what was happening.
Monday, the last thing he wanted to do was get up at six-thirty and go to school. But he did. Though he accepted a ride from his mom – as long as his leg was injured his skateboard was out of bounds.
Rapunzel was already at her locker when he got there, carrying his backpack by the handle since he couldn't get it over his shoulders.
"Stargazer lilies, right?"
"What?" she looked around the door of her locker, green eyes widening as she looked at the bouquet of pink stargazer lilies he held out to her.
He didn't actually have to ask – he knew they were her favorite.
"You remembered," she said, accepting the flowers.
Jack rolled his eyes. As if he could ever forget. "They're a few days late, but, happy Valentine's day. And thank you – for piecing me back together."
She smiled warmly. He'd missed that smile, and it was hard to believe he was actually on the receiving end again. Not just as a friend.
"How are you?" she asked.
He would have shrugged, if he shoulder wasn't still a blistered mess. "Recovering. I'm yours for the next couple weeks, though. My mom and Hiccup agreed I'm not getting in costume for a while. Without consulting me, I might add."
"I'm glad." She rose on her toes to kiss his unbruised cheek. "You need to recover.
"I'm more concerned about working things out with you," he said. "We're back together after a year, and I don't even get a hug."
"When I don't have to worry about breaking you," she said, shutting her locker.
Jack was about to concede the point when the bell rang.
He wrapped his good arm around her shoulders, kissing the top of her head as they headed to first period chemistry.