A/N: This is going to be a series of small, related ficlets based off of something that had been, from what I've gathered, mentioned in the concept art book: the creators had considered making Pitch and Jack brothers. I haven't actually read the source material myself so I could have things wrong, but I'm running with the idea anyway.
For the sake of this fic Jack is considerably older, and Pitch considerably younger. Both are roughly ~1000+ years old or so.
and your shadow never seemed so tall
He comes into being quietly, cast across the bright, snow-kissed earth amidst the spindling, fingered shadows of a copse of trees. Sprawled before him is an endless blanket of white, behind him a thin and scraggly forest that thickens out slowly, transitions from barren branches to pine needles, until he can no longer tell one tree from another. He stares out at the novel world before him and the way he stands out, a long, solitary stripe of black amid a blinding white. Above him the moon is pale, retreating from the encroaching sun.
He looks at his hands - long, thin fingers, lightly greyed skin- and knows they are Pitch's, because the moon tells him so.
Pitch looks back out at the vast white land before him, wondering why he would find himself in this place that is nothing like him. But when he looks back up to the moon to ask, it has already gone.
Things come to him slowly then, pieces of his life before, every time he blinks an image in the darkness behind his eyelids. Small hands cradled firmly in his, one for each of his own. A head pressed into his chest to muffle a sob, his fingers threading through soft brown hair, as a fire out at sea drifts toward the horizon. Him warning a young boy –his brother— that if he tries to lie in wait the Tooth Fairy will never come for his teeth. A story told by the flickering light of the fire, hands manipulating shadows into the shapes of the characters. Flooded with terror beneath a tree, shouting for him to get down right now before he falls, still chastising as he walked his brother and sister home, what if you'd broken your neck, Jack? Don't you ever think?
His sister in the door way, face drawn and lips tight, barely able to speak through her sobbing and the words didn't connect but he let himself be pulled along, blind and stumbling because Jack fell through the ice, I'm sorry I'm sorry, please hurry, we have to save him but there was nothing he could do, the ice unstable and the…the body nowhere in sight. If he dove in he'd get sick and what would his mother and sister do without him there to keep them safe? A solemn, quiet home. A tighter grip, a more watchful eye, never letting her out of his sight, never again, lookwhathappenedtoJack, he has to keep her safe or she'll be through the ice and out of his life forever and then what? So he clung to all he had left, suffocating her until she slipped away little by little, until she left and—
A packed ball of snow strikes him in the face, tearing him from his thoughts.
"Look alive, Gloomy," a voice says, coming from above his head. "If you drift off now you'll be buried alive. Snow's on the way."
"Excuse me," he says, rising to his feet in a scrabbling of limbs he'll definitely have to work on. He glares up at the branches above him. "I'd appreciate it if next time you decided to get my attention you wouldn't pelt me with snow."
The branches above him shiver. It is the only warning he gets before a body falls on top of him, bowling him over and into the snow.
"You can hear me?" the boy perched on top of him asks, pressing his face close in his excitement. His breath is frigid when it drifts across his face. "You can actually hear me?"
"Of course I can hear you," Pitch spits, irritably attempting to bat the boy's hands away from his shoulders. He succeeds, but they just move to grab the black fabric of his cloak instead. "You're shouting into my face. Why shouldn't I be able to hear you?"
"I can even touch you!" the boy marvels, ignoring him completely in favor of tugging on his cloak instead, admiring his pale hands and the way his fingers curl around the black cloth. "I can't believe it, this is…!"
"How wonderful for you," Pitch deadpans, resisting the urge to push the boy off of him. It wouldn't due to mistreat a child, even one as annoying and baffling as this one. Perhaps even especially; he's lively enough to seem healthy, but he's clearly delusional, with skin as cold as the snow Pitch is sitting on. If he's sick he could accidentally injure him. "Now would you please get off of me and tell me where we are?"
"Let go of you? No way." If anything, his grip tightens on Pitch's clothes. "You have no idea how long it's been since I've been able to do this. It's been… It's been…" He shakes his head, his fur-lined hood whipping back to reveal messy, pure white hair. "A long… Never mind about specifics. Just too long, okay?"
Pitch steels himself against the boy's words, because he knows the yawning chasm that loneliness hollows into a person's chest and this child, sick and dreaming, doesn't. Not really. He pulls away from the boy, and his cloak melts from his clasping hands, as insubstantial as a shadow.
"Rude," the boy grumbles from his crouched position on the ground. His hands and feet are spread out in the snow for balance and completely bare. He glares up at Pitch balefully, blue eyes a bright, chilly blue beneath his oddly dark brows. It is the first time Pitch gets a good look at his face, and while the color of his eyes is different, the expression is achingly familiar.
Before now, he never let himself wonder what he would feel if he got to see Jack again, alive and whole. It hurt, and it had seemed impossible then. Bothering seemed like an unnecessary torture.
Now he knows: it feels a lot like falling.
"Jack?" He takes a step toward the boy, taking in his appearance with ravenous desperation. The boy has the same face, the same lithe figure, thin legs and arms and chest from a growth spurt he hadn't quite filled in from, had never had the chance to after he…
The boy's face lights up, a bright smile spreading across his face. He floats up, literally, on a sudden gust of wind, crowding back into him eagerly.
"So you do know me!" he gushes, leaning against a wooden staff as though he can't hold himself up. "And you actually believe? Well, I mean of course you believe, you can see me! Who are you? What made you decide I must be real? Was it the windows and leaves? I've put a lot of work into some of the frost detailing recently… Or, oh oh, the snow storm last week? I knew something unexpected—"
Falling implies a landing, usually harsh. Pitch had not considered that.
"Wait." He reaches out and grabs Jack's arm, ignores the chills that it sends skittering up his spine. "Jack. You…you don't know who I am?"
"No." He shakes his head, even as he's tilting his head back to get a better look at Pitch's face. He had always been much taller than his younger siblings. He used to tease Jack about it endlessly. "I don't think so. You must be from the village nearby though, right? Faces start to kind of blend together, you know? Especially the adults. They aren't nearly as appreciative of my work."
"Your work?" he repeats aimlessly. His chest feels constricted, something tying in on itself tightly. He feels breathless, even though he's drawing in air. "You mean the snow? The frost?"
"Yeah," Jack says slowly. He's still smiling, but it's more hesitant, less blinding. "I mean, I'm Jack Frost, right? Ushering in winter is sort of what I do."
"I, yes, of course."
Pitch bites the inside of his cheek to center himself. So Jack doesn't remember. He could tell him, and maybe the reminder would wrestle his memories free somehow. He'd have his brother back and then they could go home, back to their sister and mother… Except they can't, because as far as everyone is aware they are dead. The dead don't come back to life. Even resurrection apparently comes with a catch, the two of them brought back, but no longer themselves. Not really.
No. Better to not tell Jack anything for now, not until he gets a better idea of how he'd react. Losing Jack to death once was painful enough. Pitch doesn't think he could deal with rejection on top of that right now.
"I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but I'm afraid I'm not one of your believers."
"What? No way, you can see me! I don't pass right through you! That doesn't happen with normal people, but I know that if someone believes in me that changes."
"I'm not," Pitch insists, resting a hand on his shoulder when Jack moves to pull away. "I'm like you."
"Like me? You mean, immortal? A legend?"
Jack sighs, but when Pitch glances down at him, he's still smiling, diminished but no less kind. "Well, you aren't a believer…but company is company." When he reaches out, Pitch shakes his hand. If asked, he'll claim his hand is shaking from the cold of Jack's grip. "So, who are you?"
Carefully, he swallows down on his real name, swallows down the claim of "your brother" that claws its way up his throat. No. That name is past, the man it belonged to dead. The moon has told him so.
"Pitch Black," he says instead.