Rise of the Guardians: Bring it back to the Centre

Rating: K

Disclaimer: I do not own the Guardians, or Jack Frost.

AN: Based on a head canon of mine. Sorry it's been a while. "Centre" is spelled the Canadian way. Enjoy!

"Seven, eight, nine, ten! Ready or not, here I come!" Jack uncovered his eyes and looked around eagerly, searching for the bright flash of iridescent feathers. Laughing, he jumped off the platform he had been standing on, letting the wind carry him from pillar to pillar. The older guardians watched from their seats on a nearby balcony as Jack peered into nooks and crannies, looking for the tiny tooth fairies.

Bunny chuckled as they watched Jack narrowly avoid collision with a decorative spire. "Ya know, I have to admit, the little icicle isn't a bad Guardian after all."

Sandy hid a smile in his tea cup as North clapped Bunny warmly on the shoulder. "Deedn't I tell you he was not so bad? Now he is Guardian, you are becoming friends, yes?"

The grey Pooka held up a paw hurriedly. "Woah, slow down there mate. I never said we were friends."

Toothiana laughed, a lovely tinkling sound like a wind chime. "It's true though, Bunny. You and Jack still bicker, but we all know you don't really mean it."

A triumphant shout interrupted their conversation as Jack found one of the fairies he was looking for. Heads turned to watch Jack's celebratory loop-de-loops between the pillars of the tooth palace before he resumed his search. Even Bunnymund had a smile on his face at Jack's antics.

"I guess it's possible I was wrong about the little blighter," the easter bunny admitted. "But it's not all me. Frost's changed since our fight with Pitch."

Sandy waved his hands to get the attention of the others. He pointed at Bunny, then in Jack's general direction, and patted his midsection. Tooth frowned and tilted her head in confusion. "Bunny and Jack... made you sick?" Sandy shook his head emphatically. "They made you sad?"

The small golden guardian huffed in exasperation and used his dreamsand to create a miniature Jack and Bunnymund above his head. The chests of the tiny look-alikes then swung open to reveal smaller balls of brightly glowing sand inside them. Sandy pointed up at the figures emphatically, then made a slashing motion with his hands.

North stroked his long white beard thoughtfully. "Sandy, are you saying Jack and Bunny did not get along because of their centres?" Sandy nodded enthusiastically and sat back, miming wiping sweat off his forehead. North frowned. "But why?"

Tooth sipped at her tea. "Well, Jack's centre is fun, isn't that right?" She shrugged feathery shoulders. "Maybe he could tell how little fun you were having, and that's why he didn't warm up to you." She giggled at the accidental pun. "So to speak."

Bunny sputtered indignantly. "I know how to have fun! That gumby isn't the only one who can have a good time!" Three eyebrows raised skeptically at this statement.

North chuckled. "My friend, you must admit you were being a leettle... uptight, as they say." Bunny scowled.

Tooth frowned. "So Jack didn't like Bunny because he didn't know how to have fun," she ignored the sound of protest, "But why wouldn't Bunny like Jack?"

The pooka snorted. "You mean, besides the smart-arse comments and no respect for other people's hard work?"

North cracked his knuckles absentmindedly, ignoring as he always did Sandy's exaggerated shudder of disgust. "Bunny, your centre. It is... Hope, yes?"

Tooth scoffed, waving a dainty hand. "Come on. There's no way Jack could be completely without hope." There was a pause as the four guardians eyed each other. Tooth looked shaken. "Could he?"

All four of them turned to watch Jack as he chased one of the tooth fairies around and around the pillar holding all the children's teeth from South America. Bunny's voice wavered when he finally managed to speak. "He always felt sort of- empty, ya know? I thought he was just a glory-hungry showoff, but-" He swallowed hard, furry Adam's apple bobbing. "To go that long without bein' hopeful fer anythin'..."

Sandy shook his head sadly, once again creating an image of Jack out of a trickle of sand. The other guardians watched as sandy "children" passed through Jack, seeming to ignore his presence. Miniature versions of themselves and a golden moon appeared, standing together and away from Jack, leaving him all by himself, alone and invisible.

Tooth covered her mouth with one hand, her eyes brimming with tears. "Oh, Jack..."

North frowned, dark eyebrows knitting together over the eyes that were normally so full of wonder. "Jack Frost is complicated spirit. Just because ice looks clear, does not mean there are no things hidden under surface."

Bunnymund thumped the table with his fist, a determined look on his grey-furred face. "Well, he's not going to go without hope any longer. We'll make sure of that." He glared at his fellow guardians until they nodded in agreement. The furry guardian crossed his arms as he sat back, keeping a sharp eye on Jack's joyful flight. "No hope," he grumbled under his breath. "Ridiculous. No one can go without hope. 'Sa wonder the bloody snowflake isn't even more mad."

The four guardians looked up as Jack's bare feet landed on the tiled floor of the balcony a few feet away. "Alright if I sit with you old-timers for a bit? The words and tone were teasing and a cocky grin decorated the younger guardian's face, but the ice-blue eyes betrayed his anxiety. Something else was hidden there too, though- Maybe even a glimmer of hope.

Tooth patted the empty chair between herself and Bunny, smiling kindly. "Of course you can, Jack!" North pushed the plate of cookies towards Jack' with a wink as he perched on the seat of the chair. Sandy gave him a thumbs up and a grin, and Bunny ruffled his snowy white hair with a large paw.

"Ya've always got a spot at this table, Jack," he promised solemnly.

Jack eyed him with suspicion. "Is there a reason you're being weird, or are you all trying to freak me out?"

Bunnymund snorted. "Whateva' Frostbite. Just eat the cookies and shut up."

Jack rolled his eyes and snatched a cookie from the plate, taking a careful bite. "So, I seem to remember someone promising to tell me the story about that time the elves got into the spiked eggnog."

"Yes, was very funny," North laughed, tucking his hands behind his head. "Well, it started with annual After-Christmas party..."

The guardian of hope watched as the white-haired boy settled in to listen to the story, a faint smile on his pale face. If he had his way, Jack Frost wasn't going to be without hope for another minute of his immortal life.

AN: So my theory was that the Guardians can subconsciously sense the presence of their "centre" in others. They aren't necessarily aware of it, but it can definitely influence their opinion of someone. One of the reasons Jack didn't like Bunny was because he was too uptight to have fun. Bunny didn't like Jack because he could subconsciously tell that Jack had no hope.

Sandy was one of the hardest parts to write in this chapter! He's very expressive without spoken words, and it was tricky to convey that in a non-visual medium. I hope I did okay- let me know in reviews!