"Wait, what do you mean again?!"

I sighed, as the anger and hatred for Pitch instantly subsided to make room for the guilt that filled me for not telling Tooth the full story. North looked to me, obviously feeling the same thing; we didn't really think the whole "Don't tell Tooth" thing through.

"Exactly that, Jack was posed again by Pitch. He was once before, right before you 'n Sandy got 'ere." I said calmly as Tooth lowered to the ground. Her face turned from panic-stricken to anger, then to confusion.

"Why weren't we informed of this then?"

I bit my lip and shrugged sheepishly. "Sandy knows, we told 'im when you lot arrived. We...we didn't wanna tell ya because you were worried enough. I know what stress does to ya..."

Tooth frowned sadly, and turned back to Jack as he slept. I could practically see then gears working in her mind, her motherly instincts trying to take over. She turned back to me, her eyes clouded.

"How is Pitch doing this? I mean, how is he this strong so soon after his defeat? It hasn't even been a year since we beat him, there shouldn't be a way...and when did he learn this trick? How is he able to literally control Jack from such a distance?" She turned to face Sandy.

"Didn't you get all of the nightmare sand out?"

Sandy put a hand to his chin and looked down thoughtfully, dream images of himself working over Jack by spreading his dreamsand in and out of the teen's mind. He looked up at her with confusion in his eyes. He had truly thought he'd gotten it all.

Tooth sighed and turned to North. Sandy and I did the same.

North returned the looks we gave and clapped his hands together. "Well, we should discuss this...away from Jack, I mean. We need a plan, da? We need to figure this out. Sandy, make sure Jack is well asleep; we need to keep him under careful watch. I shall order Phil to guard the boy."

Baby Tooth suddenly shot out from behind Tooth and settled on top of Jack's head with a series of determined chirps. North chuckled and the three of us smiled.

"Baby Tooth can assist in guarding, of course." he said, "There is nothing 'tat shall get past the two of them."

North turned, facing the door and his expression became serious.

"And as for us, we should go and discuss how we are going to proceed. Let us go to the Globe Room. There is no time to waste."

. . .


. . .

Not surprisingly, we found ourselves butting-heads at how to handle the situation.

We were all sitting at a table that North had orders the Yetis to bring out in the area where the Russian would usually stand to observe the globe in hope that we'd be able to locate Pitch from a flickering of lights on the believer display. Sadly we had no such luck, but it's not like we would've had a plan on what to do just yet.

Tooth and I wanted to go and approach Pitch before Jack got any worse, before there was any more permanent damage done. I didn't even want to imagine all what the Nightmare King had done to the winter spirit. I had no doubt in my mind he'd enjoyed every minute he'd held Jack captive, and who knows what the nightmares Pitch inflicted onto him contained. The last thing I wanted was for Pitch to have the chance to grab Jack once more and resume the torture he told me he enjoyed giving.

North and Sandy however, we're a bit more on the slide of defense rather than offense

They wanted to make sure Jack was one hundred percent alright before we thought about going to attack the Nightmare King. Which I mean, Tooth and I understood perfectly. We didn't want to leave Jack when he needed us, not in the slightest. But, we couldn't just sit here and wait to see if Pitch took over him again.

"North, we need to just go to Pitch and confront him. We're sitting ducks, Jack is a sitting duck, just waiting for him to come and do whatever he pleases. I don't want to leave Jack any more than you do, I'd much rather stay to be honest and make sure he's okay, but waiting isn't going to do a thing!" Tooth said as she fluttered above her seat. She never was one to stay still during tension.

North merely sighed and pinched the brink of his nose, resting his elbows in the table. "We do not know where Pitch is, we do not know how he is doing this, nor do we know if he can do this to any of us while he is doing this to Jack. To rush in without this knowledge would be disastrous."

"Well what good is sittin' around 'ere gonna do? Nothin'! North, Jack is just a sittin' target, practically waitin' for Pitch to try and taken him over again! And you know 'e will North!" I argued, standing up from my chair.

"We need to do somethin', and do it soon. We can't let 'im think 'e can get away with this. We don't want 'im to think 'e's owns, even for a minute. We need to act now, North," I lowered my voice and looked back towards the infirmary wing. "We need to."

The current situation really was mostly my fault, I realized. If I had just helped Jack from the start and not have left him...well, maybe he'd be in better shape. Maybe he wouldn't be so hurt, so weak in defense against Pitch's dominance in his mind. Heck of I'd just of brought him to the Pole in the first place, maybe he'd be better already and back to normal. We wouldn't need to be so worried...so scared.

I felt a hand lay on my shoulder, and I looked back to see North staring down at me; I always forgot how quiet he really was able to move around.

And how good his perception of what others were thinking was."Bunny, this is not your fault. You did what you could, what you thought was right. Was it best? Do not matter now, what is done is done. We mustn't look back now," North said calmly before his voice developed a tone of hatred, "There is no one to blame but Pitch. This is his doing, not yours. He attacked you too, you fought and did your best, that is all we, and Jack, could have asked for. You have done your part. Now, we must plan ours. We must work together to put a stop to Pitch once more, and hopefully, a long, long, long time."

North turned to face Tooth and Sandy who'd come over to the two of us already. Sandy had a look of determination on his face, and he held up a two-thumbs up. Tooth nodded, smiling as she lifted off the ground. She regarded the two of us before fluffing out her feathers, and a spark of confidence flashed in her eyes.

I grinned at them and back at North before standing up straighter, feeling the hope that now filled the room pulse through me. I couldn't help it; I just knew we were going to defeat him, there was no way Pitch would ever get away.

But what I didn't know, was that the shadows in the room had been listening the entire time.

A menacing laugh vibrated through the factory, causing all of the elves and Yetis to immediately stop what they were doing in fear, for they'd all heard that laugh before. One I was sure had haunted them all for weeks. One that no one had ever wanted to hear again.

Immediately, the four of us backed up against each other, forming a tight circle of defense as we all scanned the room. I risked a glance towards the hall leading to the infirmary, and hope to Man in Moon that Jack would be safe with Phil and Baby Tooth. They'd protect him, even if we couldn't. Because I was sure He had not come alone.

I was right.

Hundreds of Nightmares suddenly dashed out of the darkest corners of the factory, crashing into newly-made toys, workstations, and terrifying the poor elves and Yetis in their way. They all whined and screeched, their awful voices bouncing off the walls, mixing almost perfectly with the laughter that finally subsided as the Boogeyman himself stepped out of the shadows, mouth wide in a toothy grin and eyes full of statins faction. He'd perched himself atop the globe, glancing down at us from above. He chuckled before slowly descending halfway, stopping once he'd reached the equator. I felt his eyes bear into mine.

"Oh, what a lovely day it has been, my dear Guardians. Such a grand day for me, actually," he boasted, "So many plans, so many things going right! It's a bit of déjà vu, wouldn't you say? Hopefully this time round will be in my favor, hmm?"

I gripped a boomerang tightly in one paw, resisting every instinct that told me to impale Pitch's head with it. I looked at the others, and found them all glaring up menacingly at Pitch. North took a step forward and raised one of his swords.

"Pitch, you coward! You attack Jack from behind, you use tricks and shadows to get him and halt Bunny. But you are all out of tricks, no? We have seen what you can do, and we all know how this ends!"

Pitch slow clapped, pretending to be saddened. "Oh yes, it's always the same! I'm always dragged back into the darkness, away from the light I do not deserve. You Guardians always win, you have always, so why would you not now?" He vanished into a shadow, and reappeared in the rafters above us.

"Well now I have something that I've never had before. I have a new weapon, a new...toy, if you must," he chuckled, "A rather fun play-thing. And just think I haven't even begun to use it to its fullest extent! Imagine what I can do with the powers he will command under me-"

I couldn't hold back my anger any longer, and I sent two boomerangs targeted directly for Pitch's head. Annoyingly, he merely fell back into his shadow and reappeared somewhere on the other side of the floor, his laughter echoing.

"Oh temper, temper, Bunnymund." He taunted, slowly stepping over towards us, "What? Do you not like the sound of that? Why not? The boy has been nothing but trouble hasn't he? He caused your Warren to become the wreck it is now! And how he uses his powers in the mortal world, all the damage he has done and lives he's taken with his cold? Haven't you ever thought of that?"

I saw Tooth's feathers ruffle, and one of Sandy's dreamsand whips flickered for a moment before returning to full strength. I glared at where I believed Pitch to be lurking, rage filling and blocking out the hope I'd felt only moments ago.

I responded through clenched teeth, "Jack never meant any harm to anyone, not a single soul, Pitch. 'e was not the one who destroyed my home. 'e is not the one who connected 'is emotions to 'is powers. And 'e certainly wasn't the one who decided 'e'd be alone for three hundred years. You know what solitude does to someone, how it changes them. I bet you know rather well what it does. I sure do. I 'member what it felt like, when you killed 'em. When you killed the others."

I felt Tooth's hand brush up against my arm, but I kept going. "I 'member what it felt like, what it feels like. To be the last of yer kind, to be truly and solely alone. But ya know what? I was strong through it. And Jack's stronger than you believe 'im to be. 'e's overcome the emotions 'e faced all those years ago. 'E ain't alone anymore, and 'e got better control now. 'E never meant to do a single thin' wrong. That's why you want 'im though. That's why 'e confuses you, intrigues you. In some ways, yeah, 'e's a lot like you. But 'e ain't the same as you. 'E knows what's right and wrong, 'e knows when 'nough is 'nough.

"'E 'as a soul, Pitch. Somethin' you don't, somethin' you lost a long time ago," I growled, moving farther out from the others to edge closer to the shadows. I straightened, and stared furiously into the darkness.

"Jack is one of us, 'e's ours. And we ain't gonna let you hurt 'im anymore."

The golden eyes that suddenly pierced through the shadows didn't frighten me, neither did the laughter that echoed once more throughout the factory.

But there was another sound that froze me to the spot

A scream.

A loud, blood-chilling scream that brought forth the coldest wind I'd ever felt, one that could have only come from one person and one person only.

"JACK!" Someone screeched his name, but I was already moving. Around the globe, through the doors, down the twisting hallways; I was only running on instinct now, nothing registered, no thoughts ran through my mind save one,

Get to Jack. Get to him. Go. Don't stop. Keep going. Hurry. Go. Now. NOW!

I burst through the doors to the infirmary on all fours, boomerangs at the ready and eyes scavenging the room for its single occupant. But all I saw was a cloud of blackness and swirling darkness. Laughter echoed in my ears, and my body suddenly stopped, frozen.

To the left, Phil was trying to push back a herd of nightmares that had him trapped in the far corner of the room. Baby Tooth could be seen within one of the creatures, ramming against its ribcage in a fury.

Right in the middle of the room, Pitch stood among a walk of shadows, teeth bared in a cruel smile and his form dispersing by the second. And in his arms, lay Jack with his skin turning ashen, his hair fading to black, and his mouth parted in the last moments of a scream. His blue eyes met my green, and just as the shadows engulfed them both, he called out

"Help me!"

And then, they were gone.

Erm…yeah, this story just grew into a few more chapters and the sequel is being planned. Just sayin'. Oh, and I know where to go with "Nightmare of an Immortal Winter Spirit", so that'll be coming off hiatus soon.

I can't help my procrastination nor do I have a solid reason behind it, and for that I apologize. I'm…going through a lot right now and I'm not always in the best state of mind to even try to right. I won't go into detail but, just know there's a lot going on in my head currently.

The only reason I've been working on this as of late is because of the free time I've had at school…I, I finished it today sadly due to the death of a classmate, and we didn't really have classes. I, I needed a distraction. The death was sudden and there was absolutely no warning. I'm only in tenth grade. He was only 16. Stuff like this isn't supposed to happen.

But, the teachers were kind and today was the day to get everything out. A lot of crying and talking happened today…with only fourteen days left of school, this only added to the stress. We're all sort of out of it.

However we'll be getting back into routine come Thursday. Once the calling hours and funeral are over, we'll be trying to get things back to normal. Hopefully the rest of the year will run smoothly.

Well…that's all I really have to say. Review as always…