Chapter 22: The End of a Nightmare
As soon as Bunnymund had hopped into North's private office, he knew immediately what had happened moments before. Ignoring the burst of panic that nearly made him freeze on the spot upon seeing Jack, Bunny forced himself to look away and deal with Pitch first. Once the Boogeyman was taken care of then he would allow himself to lose his cool. The warrior bunny clenched his teeth as he hoped that Jack could make it that long before he bled to death.
"I'm gonna make ya wish ya never decided to show your face again." Bunnymund threatened promisingly as he took a step forward. Sandy nodded in agreement beside him, a furious expression on his normally lax face.
The Nightmare King didn't reply as he stared down at Jack in confusion as if uncertain of what act he had just performed moments ago. Then with a savage yell of frustration he threw his arms out and sent a blast of nightmare sand towards the two Guardians. Sandy put up a quick makeshift shield between the black sand and the four on the opposite side of the room. The yin and yang like properties of the two conflicting types of dream sand mixed but also repelled one another as the two owners frowned in concentration. Neither one had the upper hand on the other, but the two Guardians weren't about to play by the rules anymore.
Seeing the issue, Bunny chucked his boomerang towards Pitch who ducked out of the way allowing Sandy the opportunity to convert the black sand to gold, which shimmered brightly in the small room.
Pitch hissed and drew away from the offending light, backing up against the window. Bunnymund leapt forward and swung out a few times, but Pitch remained as elusive as ever and dodged every blow with ease until a surprise attack from the Sandman knocked him down to the floor.
Golden eyes glared at the whip that encircled his ankle, and with a ragged gasp he growled out. "You'll never stop me, Sanderson. You cannot destroy fear! It will remain on this wretched planet forever!"
"Yeah, but you can learn to deal with it. Everyone gets scared at some point, Pitch. But everyone endures it and makes it through those difficult times in some way or another. And yeah, some people suffer more than others, but when they pull through in the end that makes them that much stronger in the long run." Bunnymund told Pitch as his emerald eyes carefully observed his every move.
"If you had done your job right, ya would have realized that by allowing people to understand their fears they could grow and learn from those experiences. But instead you're trying to consume the entire world with eternal fear, and what good is that gonna do for ya? I would say I feel sorry for ya, but all I want to do right now is beat every inch of life out of ya."
Bunnymund moved forward, and Pitch tried to escape by sinking into the shadows once more, but Sandy was prepared for him to do just that. With a flick of his hand, the whip around his ankle snapped forward, and Pitch was flung through the window. A tsunami of beautiful sand that shined in the darkness like shimmering rays of sunlight flew after him and encircled the spirit as he floated over the giant chasm on what was left of his nightmare sand.
The Pooka stared in astonishment as Sandy bowed his head in sadness as he held a hand up before crushing his tiny fist together. The sand rushed towards Pitch and easily overtook him, draining out the rest of his powers as the Man in the Moon shed his last tear of hope from above.
The Nightmare King fell into the enormous chasm bellow where he would not be seen again for centuries to come.
Jamie was faintly aware of what was happening around him, but he couldn't take his worried coffee colored eyes off Jack for a second. The winter spirit was lying limply on the floor on his side in an almost fetal position. His body trembled occasionally as pain wracked through him, and the icy hand that Jamie held would clench his own weakly as this happened.
"Jack, please… there's no way you can die. I mean you're Jack Frost. What is everyone going to do... without you here?" Jamie choked out as a sliver of blue showed as Jack struggled to regain awareness once more.
"Ankle biter, how bad is he?" Bunnymund questioned anxiously as he bounded over to the boy's side to examine Jack while Sandy appeared to be talking about something very important with the Man in the Moon by the broken window.
"I-I think he's dying," Jamie told him in a horrified whisper as fresh tears brimmed to the surface.
Bunnymund's gaze focused in on the arrow and noted the amount of sticky, crimson gore drenched on Jack's hoodie. At this point, Jack was lucky to be alive and it was a miracle that he was still somewhat on the brink of consciousness. With gentle paws, he reached forward to examine the arrow wound, but as soon as he made contact with the object, Jack's eyes opened widely as he let out a choked scream of pure agony.
Jamie's heart pounded in pulsing fear as Jack tried to shy away from his friends to defend himself as he trembled harder than ever. "D-Don't touch… h-hurts..."
"Crap, I didn't mean to harm ya, Jack. I didn't know ya were still awake." Bunny apologized to the winter spirit as watched Jack's eyes drift shut once more as he winced.
"N-neither did I."
With a groan, Jack curled up further into a ball and let out a small cry as the wound was agitated again. Bunnymund shook his head and tried to encourage Jack to spread out a bit more into a more relaxing position, but the winter spirit refused to budge. Finally it was Jamie who had to step in to force the winter spirit to uncurl himself and prevent any further harm from happening to him.
"Toothy, I think I heard noises coming from in here!"
"North, Jack's hurt! We need help now!" Bunnymund called out before the two Guardians rushed inside.
Tooth gasped and her feathers wilted in despair as she floated down to the floor beside Jamie to be by Jack as he hazily watched the rest of the group appear. She instantly began to ask everyone for details as she smoothed back Jack's snowy hair as he rode out another intense wave of pain.
North's aqua eyes widened in shock and he stilled in the doorway as he slowly began to process what was happening to their newest member. Exchanging a worried glance with Bunnymund, North took a step forward and stopped as grief overtook him. A throaty, heartfelt sob escaped him as he listened to the details of Jack sacrificing himself to save Jamie.
"There must be a way to save him." North told himself and the others determinedly as Jack struggled to stay awake.
For a brief moment the Russian glanced around and found himself staring at Sandy as the dream Guardian finished up with his silent conversation with the Man in the Moon. With a troubled look upon his face, Sandy made his way over to the others that were huddled around their dying friend. Then with a silent sigh, the Sandman turned his surprisingly focused gaze on the chocolate-haired teen in front of him and pointed at him purposely.
Jamie frowned and asked him unsurely. "Me?"
Sandy nodded then motioned to Jack before making up a sand model of Jack in the air. Pointing at Jamie again, he then plucked out the fake arrow from the model of Jack. The boy began shaking his head from side to side before he glanced back at Jack who now had fear shining in his dulling blue eyes.
North quickly intervened. "Wait Sandy, why do you want the boy to take out the arrow? What good will it do?"
"There's no way we can patch him up properly after we do that anyways." Bunnymund pointed out.
Tooth continued to cry, unable to add much to the brewing argument between the other Guardians.
Sandy huffed then created an image of the moon before repeating the process of pulling out the arrow once more.
"We get it Sandy, but Manny can't heal something like this. It's beyond his power." North argued.
The dream Guardian shook his head to say that he had it wrong before pointing towards Jamie again.
With a frown plastering onto his face, Jamie asked in confusion. "Why me?"
Sandy thought for a brief moment before conjuring up a giant shape that resembled the Earth, allowing certain particles of sand to shine more brightly than others. It was Tooth who let out a noise of understanding first as she turned to face the teen with a considering expression on her tearstained face.
"That just might work."
"What might work? I don't understand-"
Hoping that she understood this right, Tooth began to explain. "The Man in the Moon told Sandy that you can save Jack with your belief in him. Your belief gives him strength and life. But it can also heal him if done correctly. That's why you have to be the one to pull out the arrow and save him."
"D-don't I get a s-say in this?" Jack questioned tiredly as he wheezed for air.
"Sorry, I guess not," Jamie said apologetically as he moved closer to his friend hating the way Jack's eyes gazed at him in terror. Feeling upset about having to cause Jack so much distress, Jamie told him as evenly as he could. "I'll try to pull it out fast, and I'll count to three alright?"
North quickly went to retrieve a pair of tools to snap off the end of the arrow that protruded out of Jack's back before Jamie could begin. Jamie winced at the death grip on his hand as Jack fought not to make a sound as the pain made him almost nauseous. Everyone waited patiently, and as the tension in Jack's hand faded, Jamie knew it was time to take the arrow out.
Jack chuckled lightly at the question. "I'm about... as ready as you are.."
Jamie realized how true that statement was as he eyed the visible end of the arrow. What if he screwed up and accidentally killed his best friend by pulling it out? How could he live with that constant guilt haunting him for the rest of his life? But if he just sat there and did nothing then Jack would die anyways. He would just have to believe in the others and pray that it worked.
Everyone in the room held their breath as Jamie grasped the end of the arrow, trying his best to ignore the way Jack stilled and tried his best not to cry out. "Okay, one, two… three!" With a hard, sudden yank, Jamie took the arrow out and hurriedly covered the open wound with both his hands. The volume of agonized screaming deafened the boy's ears as he struggled to stay focused on healing his friend. However, nothing seemed to be happening except for an even larger pooling of blood spreading across the floor.
"What do I do!? I don't know what to do!?" Jamie screamed in panic as Jack convulsed on the floor in agony.
The other Guardians watched on in horror, but Tooth quickly turned to face Jamie and grasped his face with both her hands. "I'm going to give you back you're most precious memories of us. Try to hold onto the emotions you feel, and hopeful that will help you find the center of your belief in us."
Jamie instantly found himself immersed in flashback after flashback. It was weird seeing the collage of random events that had happened since meeting all the Guardians. He remembered meeting them in his bedroom, and how he first met Jack when the Guardian came to force him back into believing that the Guardians were quite real. The countless snowball fights between the two friends, and how they had laughed for hours on end with all their hilariously set up pranks. That happiness and joy given to him by these magical people and creatures had made his life a million times better even through the tougher times in his life.
Blinking away the images, he once again focused on Jack who was trembling harder than ever as he fought to stay with them. Pressing down lightly upon the wound, Jamie felt the old emotions surge through him, and with a gasp he felt before he saw a faint tendril of icy blue magic seep into the fatal injury. The mysterious energy began knitting the torn flesh back together in less than a minute leaving everyone in the room stare in awe at the odd phenomenon.
Sitting back to catch his breath and feeling completely drained as the last ounce of the magic drifted into the winter spirit, Jamie smiled upon hearing the happy cheers from the other Guardians around him.
Jamie jumped slightly and glanced around to see who had spoken to him, but when none of the Guardians appeared to be focused on him he shrugged it off. The wound had healed entirely, and Jack had finally passed out to get some much needed rest. At this point though, Jamie wouldn't have been remotely surprised if his friend slept for the next couple years.
"Jamie! Jamie! Look, I found an elf!"
"I can see that, Soph. But what are you going to do with it?"
"I'm taking her home with me."
The said elf in question frowned at being called a girl before it attempted to wiggle out of the little girl's arms once more. Sophie giggled at the tiny elf's antics before she scampered off to go find another one, refusing to release the one she had managed to catch.
Jamie shook his head and sighed, feeling the sagging, dead weight of exhaustion press down upon him. He leaned more against the railing as his eyes roamed in wonder up and down across the vast space of the enchanting workshop. If it weren't for the previous events that had transpired just over an hour ago, Jamie would have probably been running around the place and exploring every inch of Santa's workshop. However, he wasn't feeling up to it as worry gnawed at his gut as images of Jack dying flashed before his eyes.
"There ya are, I've been lookin' for ya." A familiar accent broke through Jamie's thoughts as he turned to offer a pathetic greeting to the warrior rabbit. The Pooka gave Jamie a knowing look before he placed a reassuring paw on Jamie's shoulder. "He's gonna be fine."
"I know, it's just… I can't stop thinking about it."
"He would hate to see ya like this, ankle biter. Come on, where's that happy kid that was pelting me with snowballs in his yard the other day?"
"I don't think that happy kid's going to be back for a while." Jamie responded gloomily.
"Aw come on, Frostbite will be up and causing trouble in a jiffy, and you'll both be teaming up to torment me again in no time."
"No its not just that. I realized that I have to give a speech in a few days. And Soph and I have been gone all night. Mom's gonna kill us." Jamie moaned as he tried to figure out how long they had been missing.
"Shoot, I forgot all about that!" Bunnymund said in frustration as he sniffed the air and took after Sophie. It wasn't long before he returned with her riding on his back with the elf still held tightly in her arms.
With a deadpanned look, Jamie crossed his arms and sternly told his sister. "Sophie, you can't bring him with you."
"It's a girl, Jamie!" Sophie screeched in outrage as the elf gave Jamie a pleading look mixed with agitation.
"Sophie put her down. We need to go home, and she needs to stay here where she belongs." Jamie tried to explain as patiently as he could.
"He's right little ankle biter, this lass is better off staying here with her family." Bunnymund agreed with Jamie who couldn't believe how soft the Pooka's voice had gotten as he convinced Sophie to let go of the poor elf. The little girl pouted for a few seconds before the peer pressure finally got to her.
With a broken hearted goodbye, Sophie let go and they all watched as the elf stomped off and turned to give each of them a heated glare before continuing on his way.
"Ya ready to go, ankle biter?" Bunny asked almost hesitantly as Jamie glanced back towards the hallway where Jack was resting. Sandy was watching over him vigilantly, while Tooth and her helpers were helping North make up for lost time by delivering everyone's presents as fast as they could.
"Yeah, I'm ready."
They were both grounded for another week by their hysteric mother who screamed at them for over an hour.
By the time Jamie and Sophie were released from her presence, it was past three o' clock in the morning and they were completely worn out by the day's events. Sophie had past out on the sofa downstairs near the end of their mother's lecture during the part where she was yelling about Jamie having to be more responsible with his younger sibling. Jamie didn't even put up a fight and allowed his mother scream her frustrations out on him until she finished and stalked back upstairs to her room.
Jamie grabbed a quilted blanket that their grandmother had made them from off the back of the sofa and threw it over Sophie before following after his mom. Upon entering his room, Jamie felt out of place as he took in the ordinariness of things as he looked around. After all that happened in the past few hours it felt like he hadn't seen his room in over a year. Feeling the strange urge to do something like cry or hit the wall next to him, Jamie eventually stumbled over to his bed where he lied against the fluffy bedspread and began to pass out on the spot.
As numbness invaded his mind, Jamie's last thoughts were of his friend a half a world a way recovering with the other Guardians. It didn't matter that he was safe anymore, he just wanted to know if Jack was okay. Even with Pitch gone, Jamie still had endless nightmares about Jack dying for the rest of the night.
A/N: Yes it's finally over! Not the story, but this long angsty, suspenseful arc… Now back to Jamie's ordinary life problems, if only someone was there to help him get back on his feet again after going through all that… Anyways, I hope you enjoyed reading this! I just started plotting out a rough draft of my next story and a random one-shot. It's going to be another ROTG story… but I won't spoil anything until I post the final chapter of this story. By then I should have the first chapter up. Oh and I can't say this enough, but thank you guys so much for the reviews, favorites, and follows! Only two chapters left to go…
bookmaniac – Oops I'm sorry if I didn't explain this well enough, I'm kind of going with the canon that immortals can kill other immortals. In the movie, Jack can fall a hundred feet from the sky and barely even get injured, but I feel like if Sandy didn't intervene and stop Pitch from stabbing Jack in the back with his scythe during the last fight scene then there would have been a similar result like in the previous chapter...