In another universe, Bunnymund complains a bit more about Jack Frost. North circles his name a bit harder on the naughty list; Tooth misses the gossip about Jack's teeth, and Sandman's voice is a bit more lost than usual. When the Man on the Moon announces that Jack is a guardian it is decided that they don't need him; they've fought Pitch alone before.
And so Jack never leaves Burgess that winter day, and as the month passes and Christmas never comes, kids stop believing. Dreams become nightmares, teeth are left uncollected, and kids stop believing. Easter comes, and no eggs show up, and kids stop believing. The globe is completely dark. The guardians have lost.
Fear rules the world. Kids call for parents to look under their beds and in their closets. They dare not venture out in the dark and certainly never alone. It is a time for horror stories and sleepless nights.
But in a small town a revolution is stirring. The kids there sleep deep at night, because there are no dreams, but there are no nightmares either (because Jack never left and he loves kids so there was no way he was letting those creepy skeleton horses near them thanks.) The kids there believe, not in Santa or Easter Bunny, who only ever came out once a year even before. Nor in Sandman or Tooth Fairy who never showed themselves. They believe in the frost that protects the world from the bite of winter, the fun that protects them from the bite of fear.
Burgess is always cold, but that just spurs the stories further. 'It's the Protector' they whisper, 'it's Jack Frost', (Jack just roll his eyes cause come on guys, you're being dramatic. He's adrenaline rushes and teenage recklessness. He's not a role model and definitely not a hero.)
The story doesn't stay isolated though, it spreads, slowly across the country, across the world. Pitch doesn't notice, not till its too late. The globe is still dark, (because Jack never became a Guardian, not really) and Pitch rests on his laurels satisfied that he has won. He doesn't notice when the Nightmares stop coming back, nor when kids start venturing into the dark, because people might believe in Jack, but they still believe in him too.
Then one little girl asks a question, and it changes everything.
"Jack, will you tell me a story?" Sophie says.
So Jack does, because stories are fun. He tell the kids about North and his guard yetis that stop people from breaking in. He talks about making blizzards on Easter and riding on streams of golden sand. He talks about little fairies that stare at his teeth and elves that can't walk straight. They aren't the same stories from before. Kids don't look for money under pillows. They don't try to find eggs under bushes or present under trees. Instead they look for yetis that grumble in the snow and grumpy kangaroos. They look for elves stealing their cookies and fairies poking their teeth. They look for stars making streams across the sky. They don't believe in the same things as before, but they believe.
Pitch finally notices then, when he looks at the globe to see a world of light. But it's too late by then, and he doesn't know why the lights are back or how to get rid of them without his Nightmares. The Guardians notice too, but they are not Guardians anymore, not really. North starts making presents again. Tooth finds her fairies. The Sandman starts sending out streams. Bunny paints more eggs.
There aren't any Guardians anymore, but that doesn't mean there isn't any wonder or hopes or memories or dreams. And Pitch is surprisingly okay with this, because kids believe in the Protector, but only because he has something to protect them from, because they believe in the Boogeyman too. Nothing goes quite as well together as cold and dark, but not in the way you expect (because frost and snow always protected plants from the cold so there's no reason it can't protect kids from the dark)
So maybe kids are a bit more careful about watching where they go, and maybe there aren't any Guardians anymore, but that's okay because there is still the Protector. And maybe there is fear, but fear is healthy in small doses, and it doesn't mean there isn't wonder and hope and memories and dreams. In fact a little fear goes a long way to making things more fun.