Chapter 23: Friends Forever
Jamie was hyperventilating in his uncomfortable, metal desk chair. His clammy hands gripped the stack of papers in front of him with such force that they visibly trembled. The typed research paper was his pathetic excuse for an anchor as he sank deeper and deeper into a panicked state. If he didn't throw up or pass out in the next ten minutes it would be a miracle.
Mrs. Summers did a quick scan of her nervous class of sophomores in front of her and smiled calmly back at them. A ridiculous chain of mental curses were thrown her way as she slowly gathered her materials before turning to face them once more. It was her fault in the first place that they were all trembling in terror. Public speaking sucked, there was no doubt about it. Even though Jamie wasn't one to usual let something like this intimidate him, his nerves were still on high alert from the past week.
Too bad Pitch wasn't still around to enjoy their suffering during presentation week.
"As I stated a few weeks ago, I expect you all to have practiced your speeches at home. You will not be allowed a printed copy, visuals, or notecards. Please pass forward your typed copies of your research papers at this time." Mrs. Summers directed professionally as she moved to collect the papers.
The fear was unbearable now. His lifeline was gone. He was going to fail. It was such a simple train of thought, but the icy cold terror that gripped him tight weakened his resolve to do his best. Jamie knew that he was screwed even though he had practiced many times. He was going to get in front of the class and freeze. There was no way he could speak about Burgess in the 1700s for a few minutes without blanking halfway through.
"Jamie Bennett, you're up first."
He was so screwed. Why!? Just why did he have to be first!?
"Okay," Jamie choked out as he stood and forced his stiffening legs to move forward towards the speech podium. He turned to face the class and froze predictably. Thirty pairs of eyes stared back at him with a mixture of boredom and relatable nervousness.
"Whenever you're ready, Jamie." Mrs. Summers spoke up from where she sat behind her desk to his right.
Swallowing thickly and praying that this horrible event would be over soon, Jamie glanced back up and froze. It took all the self-control that he had not to overreact to the snowy-haired teen that leaned over the other side of the podium to grin in his face. To the rest of the class it looked as if he had blanked, but it was actually the opposite. Fear quickly fled and relief soon flooded through his veins as he settled back and smiled subtly at his friend.
"I'm pretty sure that you're freaking out right about now, but don't worry. If you get stuck my three hundred year old self will help you out okay?" Jack whispered even though no one else in the class could see nor hear him.
Nodding slightly in acknowledgement even as curiosity clawed at him about his side comment, Jamie started to speak. At first he was hesitant, but as he continued on to describe the time era he began to more animatedly talk about his research topic. Jack would throw in a few details here in there that he would add to increase his overall score and maintain the class's interest.
At some point halfway through he did get stuck though, and Jamie paused awkwardly before giving Jack a scared look. The Guardian shook his head from where he crouched on the teacher's desk. Leaning over to glance at the paper the teacher held in her hands he began to recite some of the lines of the page to get his friend talking again. The chocolate-haired boy breathed a sigh of relief before he finally finished his speech and sat back down at his desk in the back. Jack joined him to sit on the table in front of him, the spirit grinned and gave him a reassuring thumbs up.
It was over at last. The horrid nightmare of a project was done and over with, and it looked as if he would be getting a decent score for once.
"I can't freaking believe this! Who does she think she is!? That stupid-"
"I don't know, I'm still pretty happy with it." Jamie hedged during Jack's ranting, but the spirit wasn't willing to back down just yet.
"She gave you a B!"
"It doesn't matter! She's a horrible teacher! Who freaking grades like that anyways! The only thing you did was add more information to your speech which somehow lowered your grade. Who decides to give you a lower grade because of that!?"
"I still managed to raise my overall grade though, so I'm not failing anymore. It's only because I didn't add that information in the first place to my research paper that she lowered the score. She just sucks at grading." Jamie grumbled, as he entered his house and walked up to his room. He threw his backpack down on the floor and flung himself over his bed with a sigh.
"Yeah, she really does. Sorry, I just wanted to help, and I thought it would be cool to get advice from someone from that time frame." Jack apologized as he leaned against the wall beside the window.
"Oh that's right, are you really three hundred years old?"
"Give or take," Jack responded lightly as he studied Jamie's reaction.
"What is it like? You know being immortal and stuff?"
Jack frowned at the odd question, but decided to give the teen an honest answer. "… It's hard. Lonely for the most part." The winter spirit ran a hand through his hair and Jamie watched in concern as he cringed and lowered his arm.
"Hey, should you be moving around at all? It hasn't even been a week since-" Jamie cut off awkwardly as Jack's cerulean orbs flickered over to him. Amusement lit up in them as they took in Jamie's concerned expression.
"Trust me, I'll be fine. I'm technically all healed up thanks to you… I'm just sore I guess."
Sitting up on the bed, Jamie really looked at his friend, noting the new navy blue hoodie that he now wore to replace his bloodied old one. His eyes were more sunken in than usual, and his posture seemed weighted. However, Jamie found that none of that really mattered as his recent memory reminded him of what could have been. At least the Jack Frost that stood before him was alive. He had almost lost his best friend and he would never be able to forget that.
An icy blast of cold smacked him hard in the face, and Jamie let out a startled yelp as he fell off the bed. "W-What-?"
"Stop looking so depressed," Jack ordered playfully as he stood over Jamie and nudged the boy gently in his side with his foot. "Now come on, let's go have a snowball fight."
Jamie didn't see Jack for a while ever since he decided to visit him during his presentation day. Life had evened out to becoming predictable once more, and with each passing day Jamie wished more and more that Jack would show up. He knew the Guardian had been missing out on his duties while he had been protecting him the past few weeks, but he still wished that his friend would stop by to say hello.
"It's starting to snow again. Hopefully spring is going to come soon." Jamie mother commented from the kitchen. The boy shrugged as he spooned another mouthful of cereal and crunched down on it.
Honestly, Jamie didn't know what to expect from his mother this morning, but he was still treading unknown waters with her. So far, he hadn't decided on what choice to make even though subconsciously he knew what his eventual answer would be. Only two days ago his mother had revealed her true intentions behind all the seemingly random acts she had been doing the past month. She was getting a divorce, but the news was hardly shocking to the fifteen year old.
He had known that his parents hadn't been happy together for quite some time, but when she told him that he had to choose between them he froze. His father was apparently leaving to move to the other side of the country, and he and Sophie needed to make a decision fast. His sister would follow after him regardless of his choice, but it pained him to make the decision.
"Jamie, I know how hard this is for you, I'm so sorry. I just wish I-" An unexpected sob tore from her throat as Mrs. Bennett's face turned a rosy hue as tears began to run down her face. "I'm such a horrible parent to have you go through this."
The chair shrieked against the wood floor as Jamie stood and walked over to give his mother a reassuring hug. "Listen I know you've told me to wait a week before giving you an answer, but mom… I want to stay with you. You were the one that has always been here for me and Soph. You were our one true parent growing up. Dad has changed a lot over the years and well I just think that I'll be happier staying here in this home with you and my sister."
His mother sniffled as she returned the embrace before pulling back to smile down at her son. "Jamie Bennett, I don't even know how to respond to something like that but… Thank you for giving me another chance to make things right."
"Jamie! Jamie! Jamie!"
"What Soph, I'm sleeping," Jamie mumbled tiredly as he snuggled his head into his pillow.
"Bunny's in the backyard! Get up! Get up!" His little sister yelled from outside the closed door of his room.
"Yeah, come on! Get up already!?"
Tumbling gracelessly out of bed, Jamie pulled on a jacket and scarf before hurrying downstairs to meet up with his sister. Sophie giggled excitedly as she opened the backdoor up and ran outside to tackle into Bunnymund's stomach. Her slender arms wrapped tightly around the rabbit as he chuckled and hugged her back with his free arm.
"Hey there little ankle-biter." Bunnymund greeted as he glanced up to meet Jamie's happy yet curious stare. "We brought some extra special goodies for the both of ya. Sorry that we couldn't give them to ya both on Christmas day, but it took some time to figure these ones out."
"What you mean by we?" Jamie asked as he eyed the two neatly wrapped presents that were held in the Pooka's other hand. Bright emerald wrapping paper covered two box shaped gifts.
"Well Jack was right behind me," Bunnymund explained with a frown as he turned back to glance curiously at the large rabbit whole behind him. "Must've lost him under the ocean or something." He mumbled as a side comment under his breath.
"You lost him?"
"Unintentionally, I promise."
"Arghh!" Everyone turned to see the familiar winter spirit shoot out of the tunnel at a break-neck speed. A large rush of salt water followed soon after, spraying everyone in the backyard.
"What the heck, Cottontail! I thought those tunnels of yours were safe!?" Jack fumed as he landed a few feet away from the three drenched individuals.
"Sorry mate, they must've started collapsing because ya took your sweet time getting here."
"You're not forgiven," Jack deadpanned as the water that managed to cling to him froze over and chipped off. "I'll only let it slide for now because its time for late Christmas presents. You're so getting it later though."
The two humans shivered in response to the water before they pounced on the winter spirit and suffocated him with welcoming hugs.
"Ouch, can't breathe, can't breathe! Bunny help!"
Bunnymund chuckled at the sight before he held out one of the gifts temptingly. "Ms. ankle-biter this ones for ya."
Sophie perked up and released her death grip off of Jack to snatch the present out of Bunny's hands. She quickly unwrapped the present and stared with a puzzled expression at the seamless box. "Uh… Thank you, Bunny." She looked up at the rabbit and gave him a genuine smile as the warrior rabbit shook his head trying to contain his laughter. "Ah the present's inside the box, lass."
He reached forward to peal back the almost invisible lid, and Sophie hurriedly reached inside to pull out the softest plush grey rabbit that resembled Bunnymund, when he had been tiny during the conflict with Pitch. "It's so cute! Thank you so much! I love it!"
Grinning at the blonde's reaction, Bunnymund wordlessly held out the other for Jamie who smiled as he took it and unwrapped it more slowly than his sister. Inside was a strange tribal marked object that took him a second to figure out what it was.
"A boomerang? I've never had one before, but it looks awesome."
"It's a magical boomerang," Bunnymund began to explain as he motioned to the weapon. "As long as ya believe in the Guardians it will always come back to ya, no matter how far ya throw it."
Deciding to test the warrior rabbit's words, Jamie swung the boomerang out over the fence and watched as it zoomed past a few trees before it circled back to land neatly in Jamie's waiting hand. "Whoa, this is awesome!"
"Beat that, Frostbite." Bunnymund challenged with a playful smirk.
"With pleasure," He tossed both of his gifts wrapped in light blue wrapping paper at the two awaiting them. They were much smaller than Bunny's gifts, Jamie's especially, but as the opened them at the same time the boy frowned in confusion. Glancing over at his sister's gift his jaw dropped down in shock at the perfectly crafted seven-inch ice figurine of the Easter Bunny. Turning back to his gift, he held the small lumpy shape up to his face to examine it closer. Maybe he was missing something, but he just couldn't figure out what it was.
His coffee colored eyes flickered over to Jack and stilled as he saw the winter spirit doubled over laughing himself to tears. "I-It's a…It's…"
"Stop laughing dude, what is it?"
"You gave me a freaking ice sculptured cheeto for a Christmas present!" Jamie yelled in outrage as he looked at his sister's flawless gift then back at the winter spirit.
"T-The look on your face was priceless. I can't… Whew, just give me a second." Jack breathed out, as he laughed some more at the frustrated and confused look on his friend's face.
Bunnymund shook his head and played with Sophie in the left over snow while Jack got himself back together enough to face Jamie again. The winter spirit took the 'cheeto' and held it gently in the palm of his left hand.
"Don't worry, I have the magic touch. I can fix this up into something really amazing. You'll see!" Jack promised as he enclosed it with his other hand. His eyes slid shut and a bright light began to leak out between the gaps of his fingers as magic poured into the small ice sculpture.
"Whoa," Jamie blinked as Jack finished and opened his hands to reveal his true gift.
"The beauty of this magical ice is that it'll never melt."
"That's so awesome. It looks just like you." Jamie said awestruck as he took the mini ice version of Jack Frost from his friend's hand.
"This way it'll be a little harder to forget me. I know eventually you might, but…" Jack trailed off as Jamie gave him a second hug before stepping back to examine his present again.
"I won't forget you, Jack."
The winter spirit gave him a skeptical look, but decided not to argue as he instead laughed and ruffled his hair. "Friends forever, huh?"
Jamie grinned as he reached down to scoop up some snow and tossed it at Jack's face. The winter spirit barely managed to dodge it in time, but just after he did he smirked cockily back at Jamie. "You still think you have a chance at beating me at a snowball fight, kiddo?"
"You're going down, Jack. Let's get him! Soph! Bunny!"
"Oh you're going down, mate."
Jack backed away slowly as the three advanced. "… Don't I at least get a head start? Nope. Okay, I'm outta here!"
A/N: I was supposed to have two more chapters but I decided to just combined them into one and cut out a few unnecessary scenes and stuff. I like this version a lot better than the two separate chapters because it seemed to fit better anyways. But now it's finally done! It took forever to freaking finish this but I did it finally!
Now for the promised new fanfic that I've started writing… It called "Kingdom Come" and it will be uploaded by the time I've put this last chapter up. I have a couple chapters done and in the editing stage right now. I've been working on this fic almost as long as I've been writing Forever. It's going to be an (older) Sophie and Jack romance if you're interested in reading that.
I just want to thank you all one last time, especially those that have stuck with this fanfic to the very end. I really appreciate it! I've read every single one of your guy's reviews and have freaked out happily over every single one of them. If it wasn't for all the feedback that I've gotten these past two(ish) years I wouldn't have been able to finish this fic for sure. Thank you all so much! I love you guy's :)