OHMYGOSH YOU GUYS ARE AMAZING! I'm so sorry for the wait. I swear, I had the chapter done a whole week ago but I accidentally deleted the whole thing! I've never even done that before!
I hope you guys like this chapter. It's pretty long to make up for the fact that it's super late. Thank you so much for all the reviews. I wish I could reply to every single one of them but I don't have the time. College classes are crazy. Thanks again.
Bunnyhund's day was official awful. It had started out well enough. North had invited all the guardians over to the North Pole as a group for the first time since the battle. Sure, he had seen them all individually at some point or another, but it was the first time they would all be reunited. He had looked forward to it. To be honest he was even to see the newest (and most annoying) guardian, who he was on better terms with since the battle. Jack, he had discovered, was not all that bad once you looked behind the sarcastic and smart-arse attitude.
But then the kid had to go and ruin it by making up some stupid story about Pitch being back. As if that was even plausible! Too add insult to injury, the winter spirit had dragged all the guardians with him outside on his 'imaginary' search for the Nightmare King. And who was forced to baby-sit Jack? Of course it was Bunnymund. So who could blame him if he snapped at the kid! His one day off for the week was wasted trying to find evidence against the impossible. His actions were completely and totally justified.
Well…maybe, he did feel a little guilty.
Okay maybe a lot.
Because even though Jack was a stubborn, snarky teenager, Bunnymund never took him as the kind of prankster who would hurt others and themselves for the sake of a joke. So either the kid had serious attitude issues or…well, he didn't want to think about the other option. Pitch being back would be a nightmare, no pun intended.
The other guardians were faring worse than he was. Tooth was fluttering about, talking to her fairies so fast Bunnymund could hardly understand what she was saying. Sandy was sitting beside the fireplace, staring sadly out the window. Between his fingertips, gold sand weaved slowly, almost mournfully as the sand had lost it's usual gleam. North was talking quietly to some yetis, shaking his head with a worried expression. He turned to face his fellow guardians.
"The storm is very bad," he spoke softly, "We will not be able to find him until morning."
"But Jack's all alone out there," Tooth whimpered, clutching the side of a table, "He could be hurt or sick or …worse." They all understood the unspoken statement. If Pitch really was out there…
"I wouldn't worry about Frostbite being sick or hurt, Tooth," Bunnymund consoled, trying to calm the frantic fairy down, "The kid's probably just angry. As soon as the storm stops, we'll go out there and find him. Then you have my permission to mother him as much as you want, alright?
Toothania was barely listening, her eyes searching for the familiar winter spirit outside the window. Unfortunately, the storm was so thick that one could hardly see past three feet. "He thinks we don't want him Bunny," she whispered sadly, "And he's out there all alone."
"We'll fix it," the Pooka replied, patting a paw on the fairy's shoulder, "I promise." Tooth nodded. With teary eyes, she rested her head on her friend's shoulder. For a moment, they stood there in silent comfort.
"Bolshe Moi, look at this!" North exclaimed, breaking the quiet. Outside, the blizzard had stopped abruptly. It had not slowly faded away like Bunnymund had assumed it would, but disappeared, the only sign it had been there was the fresh snow on the ground.
"Maybe he's not mad anymore," Tooth said weakly.
"No, this isn't normal" Bunnymund spoke darkly, "The Frostbite takes forever to get over something, he doesn't just stop. North, I think we may need to send out a search party."
North nodded, and a few moments later the group separated, desperate to find their friend alright. To Bunnymund who was hopping through the pines, the forest felt wrong. It was too quiet, too still to be normal. He had only experienced a phenomenon like this back in the dark ages, when Pitch roamed the woods.
"Be alright, be alright," Bunnymund chanted. He didn't like how he was feeling. Something in the air screamed of wrongness. Jack was in trouble, he could feel it. For once, he wished his senses would be wrong.
He came to a clearing near the edge of the woods and his heart nearly stopped. Jack's staff stood alone in the snow, abandoned and useless without it's owner. But the worst was the area was covered in black sand, contrasting darkly against the crisp snow.
Jack had been kidnapped.
Jack was gone.
Whatever Jack was lying on, it was not comfortable in the slightest. He shifted, groaning as the object beneath him continued to dig uncomfortably into his spine. Oh God, had one of the elves stuffed cookies in his bed again? He still had crumbs in his bed from the last time. He moved again. No, the object was too hard and long to be a cookie. Reluctantly, Jack blinked open his eyes. For a moment everything was a blur but, his eyes quickly adjusted to reveal a ceiling of orange speckled with stars. Confusion was clear on Jack's face, as he gazed up. It was nearing dawn but, why he was outside continued to elude him. Deciding he wasn't going to figure out anything on the ground, he sat up…and immediately regretted it.
"Arghhh," he gasped, clutching his head in agony. Collapsing back onto the object that had first given him pain, he wrapped himself in a ball and waited out the hurt. Slowly, the pressure in his head dulled into a soft throbbing. Pulling one of his hands off, he saw a dark red that coated his fingertips. "How did that happen?" he muttered to himself. Slowly this time, he sat up once more, supporting his head as best he could. Looking around, he was surprised to see that he was in some sort of junkyard. There were beaten up car parts, and disassembled cars. Below him, a severed steel axle gleamed wickedly. Small shrubs spotted the area like dots on one of Bunnymund's Easter eggs. The whole place had a deserted aura to it, as if no one had been there in years. However, the fact that he was stuck in an abandoned junkyard was second on his list of worries when Jack came to his second realization.
He was in a desert. Of all places, why did it have to be a desert? There was a reason he avoided awful places such as this. They were sickening hot and stuffy, with very little winter weather whatsoever. His powers had little to no effect in places like this, a constant heat dominated the weather. Jack glared hatefully at a nearby cactus. Regardless of how he got there, Jack was going to leave first and then ask how later…once his head stopped feeling like someone was hammering it in.
A question appeared in his pain-hazy mind that stopped all other thought. If he was here…where was his staff? Normally he could feel it's presence but now…
His memories of the previous night flooded back to him, like a dam breaking open. Unfortunately, the emotions came as well. Sadness, betrayal, and hurt weighed heavy on him. He had forgotten he was alone again. But there was also fear. He had seen a night mare and that only meant one thing…
"We meet again Jack," Pitch announced, appearing in the corner of Jack's eye. Jack's head swerved to see Pitch which, once more, caused Jack's head to pound in protest. As he again trying soothing his headache, Pitch smiled darkly, "I hope I haven't come at an inconvenient time."
"Not at all," Jack hissed, still clutching his scalp, "Wasn't expecting you though. I though I wouldn't see you for at least a century. You supposedly being ground to dust and all."
Pitch chuckled. "Ah yes, you still have that annoying sense of humor. It's good to see that some things don't change." He paused, gazing towards the oncoming dawn. "As for my early appearance, I do have an explanation." He pointed to a chain around his neck with a simple gold pendant of a circle. "Stole this from Father Time years ago. It has the ever so useful of taking energy from my future self and giving it to me now." Pitch tucked in into his shirt. "Unfortunately, it only lasts an hour and because of it I will not be able to form for perhaps another century more but I do believe this is worth it."
"You've missed me that much," Jack put his hand to his heart, "I'm so touched." Jack once more looked at his surroundings, "How did you get me here anyway?"
"Please! Do you really believe only that red, obese guardian is the only one who posses portal magic?"
Jack only raised an eyebrow, " Stole that too huh? I see you're still just as vain. You are right. Things haven't changed much at all."
The nightmare king glared at the winter spirit but continued to speak. "Enough about me Jack. How is it being the newest 'guardian'? I'm sure you fit right in. Are they the family you've always wanted? Have they finally accepted you for who you are?" Pitch's words were like poison, but Jack stayed silent. "No? Well, I can't say that I'm surprised. I did warn you after all."
"What do you want Pitch?" Jack whispered softly, "Why did you bring me here?"
The boogeyman was silent for a moment, as if contemplating his answer. "In the battle Jack, I didn't lose because of the tooth fairy, or the Easter bunny and North, or even the Sand Man. I lost because of you. Because you decided to join them, after everything they did to you. You joined them, even when they didn't believe in you. Pathetic really. And now…" Pitch bent down to look straight into Jacks eyes. "Now I want to see you burn."
Faster than Jack had to react, a sharp object pierced the side of his neck. Immediately, Jack was petrified inside his body. "Ever heard of the expression, frozen in fear?," Pitch explained happily, "For a few moments you will be completely helpless…which gives me just enough time." Cruelly, he grabbed Jack's hair and twisted his head back. Sparks of pain bounced around Jack's skull as he screamed inwardly. He would have screamed aloud, but he had no control over his actions. "Oh don't get up Jack," Pitch cooed maliciously. Looking into Jack's agonized eyes he smiled, "Well, if you insist." Pulling hard, he lifted Jack up by his hair.
For a moment, all Jack saw was a wall of darkness encasing him. Anguish soon took over however, and he was back to riding out horrible waves of pain.
He did not remember being dragged by Pitch, but Jack remembered falling a few times, his pain increasing with each tumble. In an amount of time that could have been hours or minutes, the movement finally stopped by a spot outside of the yard, where the dirt was already hot. There was no source of shade anywhere. "Here we are," Pitch said casually. With little restraint, he dropped the winter spirit. "I'm afraid I don't have much time left, Jack, but I do hope you'll enjoy your stay," he pushed Jack down, who was slowly getting his ability to move back and struggling weakly. He bound the boy to the ground with black sand. "I picked this place for a reason, you know. No one is around for miles, not that they could hear you. A warning though, it does get awfully hot, even in this time of year."
"Guardia'…find…me," Jack slurred half conscious and drained.
"I wouldn't be so sure. After all, they didn't believe you," Pitch said as he pretended to think, "It's funny, the guardians don't believe in you. The world still doesn't believe in you. Honestly, I might just be doing you a favor here."
His eyes closed and all was encased in black
Jack awoke to a blinding light. He winced and closed his eyes again but he could still see the brightness behind his eyes. It must have been noon, the sun was directly above him. Already he could feel an intense burn over his exposed skin.
Weakly he tested his arms. Resistance met his movements, which meant his arms were still bound. He was stuck and he could feel the heat in the air continue to rise.
Beads of sweat dripped down his brow. His sweatshirt, which normally felt perfect, was heavy and suffocating. His hands were weak, his legs limp. The pain was still present in his mind, but lessened in regards to the heat. God, he hated deserts.
His mouth was dry. The feeling was foreign to him. Never before had he ever lacked water. Never, in more than 300 years. He was being sucked dry, every bit of moisture evaporating from his skin. What would happen when it was all gone? Would he become dust like the earth beneath him? Would he stay here for all eternity, his pain lasting over the span of time? Would the Man in the Moon really keep him alive that long? Would anyone come for him?
The guardians will come,
he assured himself, They told you that you'd never be alone again. They promised.
They lied,another voice insisted. It sounded just like Pitch, The Guardians never wanted you. They wanted your help. Ever since the battle, they've been waiting to dispose of you.
"LIAR," Jack yelled aloud but Pitch's words increased his anxiety. Some how , Pitch was in his head. It was a way to mess with Jack even more. Jack knew it was a trick, but what if Pitch was right? What if they didn't come for him? The Guardians had never been there for him before. They already had abandoned him once, when he lost Baby Tooth and found his memories. What was stopping them from dismissing him again?
Against me you were useful Jack, but in peace time you only cause destruction. Now that the battle is over, you're just pathetic.
Pitch was right. He was useless. All he ever did was mess things up. The past year, he had caused the other guardians countless headaches. Why would the guardians rescue him when it meant that they'd be rid of him forever?
Jack gasped for air, making an effort to get oxygen into his parched lungs. He had been a fool. He had thought they had wanted him. He thought he was important to them.
The sun was lowering slowly in the sky and Jack felt every agonizing second of it's path. When would the heat go down? It only seemed to increase. His skin was beyond crisped and his breath was coming in short gasps. Why couldn't he breathe? The pressure in his lungs was unbearable.
As Jack's body was being fried, his mind was in torture. Pitch's cruel words resounded in every corner of his head, taunting him. Every memory of the past year was warped into bad. The guardians hated him! It was so clear now. How could have not seen it before? The hidden glares, the disappointed words, the attempts to rid themselves of him haunted his every thought. It was impossible to miss. He would have cried out if he had the air to do so.
He was on the ice, his sister safely out of the dangerous thin part. For a moment, everything would be okay. Jack had fulfilled his promise. He didn't let his sister drown. The moment was shattered when a crack resounded though the air.
Jack wasn't sweating anymore. Was that good or bad? He wasn't sure.
Cold water surrounded him, immobilizing his body with the shock. He was close to the surface, but he couldn't move. His limbs did nothing to prevent the current from dragging him under. A disturbing realization shook him. He was going to die.
It would have been better if you died and never came back.
His lungs begged for air, but when he sucked in, water poured down his throat. He needed oxygen. He was never going to get any.
With every breath, the less he inhaled. It didn't make sense. Then again, nothing was making sense.
The moon stared at him through the hole in the ice, watching him drown. Please, he pleaded to it, Don't let me die.
In the blue of the sky, Jack could see the moon. "Let me die," he begged, "Just let me die."
His vision faded black.
Embrace the blackness.
Everything turned to black.
Bunnymund raced underneath the Arizona desert, his tunnels guiding the way through the wilderness. It had been twenty-four hours since the guardians had last seen Jack. Twenty-four hours of constant worrying and fruitless search, while who-knows-what was happening to Jack. Initially, the four original guardians had panicked, desperate for the youngest of the group. Then the panic turned to anger and determination. How dare Pitch steal one of them away! They would find Jack and make sure Pitch never made that mistake again.
Unfortunately, it wasn't all that easy. Pitch had been thorough in covering up his tracks, and had set up many false leads that lead each of the guardians on a wild goose chase. Bunny had been halfway through Russia chasing down a dead-end, when he had gotten a message on the location of Jack. Apparently, one of Tooth's many fairies had found him.
With little pretense, the pooka jumped through his hole and out into the desert. He first saw the other guardians, who all looked frightened and mournful. Tooth had tears streaming down her eyes. Sandy looked positively horror-stricken. Even North, who Bunny had never seen scared, seemed afraid. He followed their gaze down to a sight that belonged in a nightmare.
Jack's limp body was sprawled on the ground. Blood and black sand matted his hair. His skin was red and angry. One of his legs was bent in a strange angle. The winter spirit's arms and legs were bound by black sand in the shape of prison chains. Bunnymund wasn't even sure he was breathing.
Kneeling, he tried to softly pull the chain off Jack's left arm. It wouldn't budge. "Don't just stand there!" he snapped at the others, "Do something!"
Without a sound, Sandy knelt with Bunny and touched the chains, turning them into butterflies. Within moments, Jack was free. North then scooped up the boy, careful to not hurt him. They all watched as their youngest member was carefully loaded into the nearby sleigh.
"The sand…"Tooth murmured, pointing to the black patches of dream dust, "That must have been painful." The Easter Bunny nodded. He knew as well as anyone how the black sand could be used for mental scarring injuries as well as physical.
A sudden motion startled all the group. Sandy was frantic, his eyes wide and his hands shaking. "What is it Sandy?" North asked.
A blur of images flashed above Sandy's head: a Jack-like figure, a skull and cross-bones, the moon. Bunny and Toothania looked to North, who seemed shocked. "What did he say, North?"
"We have to get to the Pole right away," North whispered, in a dazed sort of voice, "Jack is dying."
I promise I'll update sooner. Review?