A/N: Please take note that this is a sequel. Please read Something Quite Peculiar first!

Disclaimer: I do not own Rise of the Guardians or the Guardians of Childhood series or the associated trademark, characters, and storylines. I do not own, nor am I associated with DreamWorks Animation or William Joyce.

Full Summary: A whole world of magic and superstition is hidden within our own, and all these legends and myths have their own hierarchy, their own rules, and their own way of doing things.

The Muses follow the sun. The Guardians follow the moon. Things have been this way for centuries, and their alliance is more important than ever.

But what happens when someone challenges Apollo and the Man in the Moon?

In a mad attempt to clean up a mess they created protecting their own, the Guardians and Muses try to sway the opinions of other mythical beings in their favor. However, it seems that someone else has beaten them to the punch. With potential danger looming, they must scramble to figure out what to do.

Apollo, ever arrogant, will not step down without a fight, and he has something that Jack Frost wants. Can he sway the boy, anxious and haunted by past memories, to do his bidding?

Everything was a blur of sunrises and sunsets, days and nights, strained eyes and slow reflexes as he stumbled through the parts of the world that would be expecting snow this time of year.

Chapter One: Shut Your Eyes

A weeping skull, adorned with white calla lilies. A tragedy mask, grim and beautiful, secured to the wearer's face with glossy black ribbons.

Black hair wisped about the mask with the wind, pale gray eyes watched blankly from behind it. The figure was tall, slim, and draped in a black, red, and gray dress.

She stood on the glacier with the boy, posture perfect and entirely silent.

"I came here to be alone," he practically growled, teeth clenched and grinding in such a way that would surely make the Tooth Fairy cringe.

The woman didn't move, didn't speak. She remained exactly as she was, arms crossed and judgmental.

Jack Frost's knuckles were white from gripping his staff so tightly, his bloodshot eyes meeting hers. She always brought such an unsettling feeling along with her. The solitude of the Antarctic somehow felt even lonelier with her here than it had without her.

The icy air felt somehow colder, sinister.

She was that anxious feeling in your stomach, the nervous racing in your heart when you knew something terrible was about to happen.

"What do you want from me? To watch? Haven't you had enough yet?" Jack demanded, shouting at the woman.

He had made a truce with Calliope back in February. She was the oldest, a stand-in leader for the Muses. They had agreed to try harder to get along.

But this woman, with the tragedy mask and cold eyes, hadn't been present for this truce. They had history. It went without saying that simply trying harder wasn't going to really work.

Especially if she was going to turn up in the one place he could still really go to get away from everyone.

Especially if she was just going to stand there and watch him, he and the dark circles beneath his eyes and his heavy breathing.

"What do you want, Melpomene?" he shouted again.

Melpomene didn't budge.

Somehow he knew she was smiling that twisted smile of hers beneath that mask.

"I get it, I attract tragedy so why wouldn't you show up? Why wouldn't you lurk around and drink it in like you always do? Like the goddamn vulture you are?" His voice was starting to tremble now. His head ached. "Isn't there enough tragedy in the world? Why do you have to be here with me?"

She still didn't say a word.

The whistle of the wind, his nervous breathing, his pounding heart, all screamed in his ears.

"Say something!" he called, his voice echoing.

"I don't have to be here," came her raspy voice. "You want me here."

"No, I don't," he said.

"Yes, you do," she said. "You miss me."

Jack watched her incredulously, head spinning.

Nothing made any sense.

"No, I don't. I would have been happy never seeing you again, you know that," he said.

"You miss being around someone that understands your misery," she said, taking a few graceful steps forward. "Someone to be miserable with."

"No, no, I don't want to go there again," Jack said, shaking his head and taking a step back as she came closer.

"You're already there," she said. "You're lonely. You're miserable. You thought having the Guardians meant you would never feel lonely again and yet here you are, with an empty feeling in your stomach that just won't go away. They're not enough anymore."

"I liked it better when you weren't talking," Jack said, head throbbing as her voice echoed around his skull.

"You want more, you're lonely for intimacy," Melpomene said, running her long, skeletal fingers down her curves, exaggerated by the waist cincher she wore. "You're lonely for touch, for sweet nothings, for friction."

Jack took another step back, skeptical eyes never leaving her. She stopped walking, hands falling to her hips, confidently.

"Your flesh yearns for contact. Your arms itch for someone to hold, a hunger you can't satisfy," she said.

"I don't want anything to do with you," he said.

"Hm, but the one you do want is gone. That's what makes it tragic," Melpomene said, reaching forward and running a finger down the side of his face. His eyes ached, begging for him to shut them, but he forced them open. "You're so lonely that I'm starting to look like excellent company again. You know this is a bad idea."

"It's not a bad idea," Jack said, taking another step back. "It's the worst idea."

"Well, you're certainly not in the habit of acting on good ones," she said.

"Go away," Jack said, shaking his head and turning away.

"You know it's not the last you'll see of me," she said, her voice taking on a sing-song tone.

"Look, I'm not here for your personal amusement—!" Jack started, spinning around and fully prepared to shout at the woman until he was red in the face.

But she was gone.

"Disappearing act, huh?" he called after no one. As his eyes fell to the ground, however, he saw something peculiar.

There weren't any footprints in the snow where Melpomene had just been walking.

She was a Muse, sure. She had the ability to appear and disappear just about anywhere she wanted. She could take on any disguise she wanted with the help of her mask.

But she wasn't one of the Muses gifted with flight.

She was still solid. If she had been walking there, she should have left prints. Jack had left prints from the few steps back he had taken.

The boy sank to his knees squinting his eyes as he examined the snow more closely. Nothing.

Had she even been there at all?

"Melpomene?" he said, glancing around the immediate area, almost wishing to see her again and confirm that he hadn't been imagining things.

There wasn't a soul to be seen.

He was entirely alone.

He had been entirely alone.

Lying down in the snow, Jack grabbed at the sides of his head, still aching.

What day was it? When was the last time he had slept?

He didn't need to sleep as much as a mortal did. He could easily go a few days without, especially if nothing too emotionally or physically taxing was going on.

But he still had to sleep, at least sometimes, or he would start to feel it.

He was starting to feel it.

Jack tried thinking over the past few days, what he had done, where he had gone. Had he woken up or gone to sleep in any of that time?

Everything was a blur of sunrises and sunsets, days and nights, strained eyes and slow reflexes as he stumbled through the parts of the world that would be expecting snow this time of year.

As his movements grew lethargic, the weather became erratic, too dangerous for kids to play in or have fun.

Was he weak because he hadn't slept, or because the believers he had (honestly a small amount in comparison to the others, he was still trying to build it up) were losing faith?

He closed his eyes, covering them with his hands as he mentally counted to ten. His eyes begged him to stay closed, his body begged him to relax his muscles and just let sleep come to him.

He opened his eyes again, forcing himself to sit upright.

Hallucinating the Muse of Tragedy had to be a huge sign to take a goddamn nap already.

But he wasn't sure that sleeping was actually a better alternative to this. The Sandman and Pitch Black didn't need to do anything to Jack Frost's dreams; his own mind stirred up images that left him feeling desperate and alone whenever he woke up.

Surely it was better to just skip straight to desperate and alone?

He didn't want to be haunted by images of something so painfully out of reach. He was sure he wouldn't be able to rest fully until the anniversary of that full moon back in January finally passed.

He still had months to go.

The boy's head felt heavy and lulled to the side, eyelids heavy as well.

How was he supposed to keep this up for another couple of months? He was a Guardian! The Guardians and the Muses were on the verge of some serious trouble if they weren't strategic about their public relations, if they weren't watchful and cautious.

It was all so complicated.

Jack honestly couldn't remember most of what had been discussed at the last meeting, only stirring from his haze when his name was mentioned.

The others were beginning to lose their patience with him, he could tell.

He hadn't been given many tasks to complete. Mostly, he was supposed to keep the kids having fun, the usual.

It was hard to spread joy when you weren't feeling much of it yourself.

Jack began leaning forward, eyes closed and slipping into sleep for no more than a second before startling himself awake, certain he had seen a flash of big, brown eyes.

He felt shaken, anxious.

Scrambling to his feet, Jack rubbed his eyes again, urging them to stay open.

"You're okay, you're okay," he mumbled to himself, forcing deep breaths and shaking his head. He wished he could get to some coffee; it wasn't as though he could just waltz into a café and order himself a cup.

He wanted the caffeine boost, but also had been craving it for other reasons in the past few weeks. He longed for the ritual, for waking up after a restful sleep, for smelling it as it was made, for the sound as it poured into the mug.

Morning conversations over the liquid that cooled the moment he took the mug into his hands. The sleepy smile of the girl that had fixed him the first cup he'd ever actually had.

Those cozy mornings seemed so far away.

Nothing seemed that cozy anymore.

It was just cold, lonely.

Jack was honestly frustrated at the loneliness he felt. He had friends now; he had a family! He had finally found the place he belonged and his greater purpose with the Guardians.

And now, after all of that, it wasn't enough.

How could he still be so lonely while surrounded by people that cared about him?

Jack rolled his shoulders, wincing as they ached. He couldn't keep hanging around Antarctica feeling sorry for himself and talking to personifications of tragedy that weren't actually there. Maybe if he went somewhere there were actual people he could wake himself up, make it snow, focus on something else.

Anything else.

When he wasn't busy, he was left with his thoughts and lately that was not doing wonders for his emotional state.

(Because not sleeping was totally beneficial to it.)

"Snowboards, skis, those are fun, I'll find a ski resort. That'll work," he mumbled, shaking his head again as he stumbled a few steps and caught the wind, flying clumsily as he went.

He just had to stay busy, that was all.

Surely he wouldn't even notice how tired he was after a while if he just made sure he was staying busy.

Time would surely go by faster if he kept his mind off things and kept busy.

Completely ignoring everything that was stressing him out and keeping busy was a completely logical and achievable goal.

Jack could feel himself nodding off again as he flew along, glancing down at the ocean below him.

Maybe the shock and terror of a plunge would wake him up.

"Let's not," he mumbled, forcing himself to look forward as he continued on.