Before he left, Jamie's father would tell bedtime stories of kings and queens, princes and princesses who lived in faraway lands. The plot of each story centred on an obstacle the main character had to overcome. Many times a prince had to battle fantastic creatures to prove himself worthy for a princess's heart. Other times a princess would take to the roads, a magic staff strapped to her waist, to prove herself as valiant as any knight.
Jamie loved these stories. They never got old, even with the similar storylines, but one story stuck to his heart most of all. It was one that was only different in a very slight way. A prince had to travel across vast lands to rescue his true love: another prince.
His father didn't treat this story any different. He gave it the attention and detail he gave to all his other stories. Jamie remembered listening aptly, wondering how it could be possible for a boy to fall in love with another boy.
What was the purpose for that story?
It was years after his parents' divorce that he finally understood.
Six years after the defeat of Pitch
"Hey Jamie! You might want to up your heater. The forecast for tonight is chilly with a one hundred percent chance of snow." Jack breezed into Jamie's room on a draft that sent Jamie burrowing deeper into the den of blankets in the corner of his room. "Sweet! How many blankets are in that thing?" Jack leapt to the bundle that was nearly as large as Jamie's writing desk.
"A lot?" Jamie tried to shove the book he'd been reading into a fold of one of the blankets.
"Can I join?" Jack grabbed one of the top blankets and started to pull it off.
"No!" Jamie seized the blanket and tugged back, startling Jack into dropping his side of it. "I'm freezing, thanks to your icy ass."
Jack tossed his staff onto Jamie's bare bed. He crossed his arms and grinned at Jaime, weight on one hip. "Maybe I'm freezing too."
"That's your own fault."
"Come on, James."
Jamie scrunched up his nose. "Don't call me that."
"Then let me bundle up with you. I'm not gonna freeze it all over. It just won't be as warm as it should." Ignoring Jamie's continued objections, Jack slid between the bundle and the wall, sidling to Jamie.
Jamie tried to adjust the blankets for Jack so that he wouldn't feel the added weight of the book.
"I can do it myself you know." Jack chuckled but let Jamie keep tugging the blankets over them. "What's the rush?"
"Freezing," Jamie gritted.
The book was now caught in the fold above Jack's lap. If Jamie let it go, Jack would feel the hard cover. He kept the blanket levitated above Jack's lap, mind racing to find the least suspicious solution. Throw the blankets off? Tackle Jack for a tickle war like they used to do years ago? Or he could just get on with the program his father had known about (or not; who could tell their child's sexuality at the mere age of five or six?) and kiss Jack.
Jack inclined forward to catch a look at Jamie's still face. "I thought people only lagged in video games." He tried to lower the blanket. Jamie almost let him, and then remembered the importance of keeping it out of Jack's hands and flung the blankets off.
"You okay?" Jack asked.
The book was visible. A midnight blue cover peeked out from under the fold.
"Hey, what's this?" Jack took the book before Jamie could react. He read the spine. "Among Velvet Roses." He grinned at Jamie. "I didn't know you like poetry."
It wasn't poetry.
Jack opened the book.
"No!" Jamie slapped the book shut on Jack's fingers and yanked it away.
"Ouch! What gives, Jamie?" Jack reached for the book; Jamie held it away. "What's so bad about it? Let me see."
Jamie crawled over the messy pile of blankets. "Nothing," he said as he got to his feet to shelf the book.
"Come on Jamie. Now I'm really curious and you can't kill curiosity when it comes to me. Let me see." Jack reached for the shelved book.
Jamie slapped his hand away. "I said no!"
"What's so bad about it? I've read Fifty Shades of Greyfor crying out loud."
"I don't care."
"We've been friends for years, ever since you were a kid. Can't you trust me? After all those bullies I've saved you from, all those snow days I've given you on demand, and those night flights?Jamie."
"You're going to judge me."
"No I won't! Is it erotica?" Jack tried for it again. Jamie slapped his hand again. "Jamie, I will freeze your butt to the ground. Do you know how hard you slap? It's like a freaking –sledgehammer!" Jack snatched the book in a swift motion. He dodged a swipe of Jamie's hand and leapt onto Jamie's bed, crouching as he flipped the book open to a centrepage.
"Jack…" Jamie collapsed to his knees, feeling the tears already coming.
Jack was smiling, not having seen Jamie's reaction. His smile slowly melted into a concentrated line as he scanned down the page. He read silently, mouthing the words, and then he stopped but skimmed through several more pages, eventually flipping through random pages and stopping. "Jamie," he said, looking up from the book. "This is gay romance."
"So? You gonna judge me?" Jamie crossed his arms and looked away, trying to keep his lips from trembling and his eyes from misting up.
"Are you gay?"
"Straightforward, as usual." Jamie's voice faltered. "Yes… I'm gay."
"Okay. Want me to throw a coming out party for you? We can have it at the lake and all the Guardians can come with the yetis and elves."
"It's not funny! And I don't want a freaking party… Jack, I don't care that I'm gay. I just care that you aren't going to treat me the same."
"Well…" Jack leapt off the bed and landed in front of Jamie with a cold gust of air. "…I'm not gonna join forces with Cupid and get a bunch of guys to fall for you, unless you want me to."
"I already like someone." Jamie hoped he wasn't making one of the biggest regrets of his life. "And I-"
"Who? Is it one of your friends? Monty? One of the twins?"
"None of them. I don't even know if he's gay or bisexual or whatever."
"Maybe he's Jamie-sexual."
"Jack, please take me seriously."
"Can you at least give me hint about him? I'd like to know the guy who captured the heart of my little Jamie." Jack nudged Jamie's shoulder.
"I'm not your little anything."
Jack pouted. "But Jamie…"
"I've known him for years. That's all I'm saying."
"That shouldn't count as a hint. What color are his eyes?"
Jamie sighed, "Blue."
"Does he live in Burgess?"
Jamie nodded. "But you won't be able to find him. You're not smart enough to figure his exact location out."
"Oh yeah? Watch me! Blue eyes, Burgess, around your age –unless you like older guys."
"He's around my age."
"Blue eyes, Burgess, around sixteen – got it!" Jack grabbed his staff and blasted through the open window on a blast of chilly air.
"You already found him," Jamie whispered.
"Tooth! Tooth! You've gotta help me! Jamie has a crush on this guy who lives in Burgess." Jack dashed to the North America pillar, Tooth on his heels with a small group of mini-fairies. "He's probably lost all his teeth since he's a teenager. Where do you keep the older kids' teeth?"
"Jack, slow down a bit. It's hard to understand you when I've got fairies chirping in my ear." She glanced at a fairy who chirped an apology and shrugged. "You're looking for someone?"
"Yeah. He's in Burgess and he's around Jamie's age. A teenager, maybe sixteen years old. He has blue eyes, and that's all Jamie told me. Oh! He has blue eyes too." He flew towards the bottom of the pillar. "Where's the Burgess section?"
"Jack, pillars aren't sorted by geographic location. It's sorted by age."
"So where would I find a sixteen year old kid?"
"If he lost all his baby teeth, he wouldn't be on this pillar. He'd be in the pillar for completed boxes, but -"
"Where is that?" Jack rushed from pillar to pillar. "South America, Africa, Asia…"
Tooth exchanged a weary look with her mini-fairies. "I suppose I should tell him now before he gets too caught up in his excitement." The fairies nodded.
"Aha! Is this the pillar? No one's filling it with teeth!" Jack whopped. "Oh Jamie's gonna get owned!"
A mini-fairy flitted in front of Jack. She shook her head and pointed at another pillar.
"That's the pillar for South America's completed boxes," Tooth explained.
"So that's the one." Jack took off for the pillar the mini-fairy in front of him had pointed at.
"No, Jack." Tooth grabbed his hood.
"Hey, let go!" Jack tried to twist free.
"You're not going to find him there." She let Jack go.
"Then where is he?"
"I don't know if I should tell you." She looked to her fairies. They nodded. "It may be the best for Jamie," she said. She directed the fairies to join their sisters in gathering teeth. It was just her and Jack.
"You know who he likes?"
"So do you."
"I can't think of anyone sixteen years old with blue eyes. And Jamie's known him for years."
"Maybe it'll come to you if I feed you little hints," Tooth offered.
"Just tell me who he is!"
"He has pale skin."
"That's like more than half of Burgess!"
Tooth hummed and tapped her fingers against her chin. "Oh…How should I do this?"
"How about you tell me his name?"
Tooth held a finger up. "Oh! He's the same height as you. Same weight as well."
Jack cocked his head. "Buffering…"
"His eyes are the same shade of blue as yours."
"He has the same hoodie as you."
Jack scratched the back of his neck. "Buffering…"
"He never wears shoes."
"Tooth, you're just describing me."
She applauded with a cheery smile. "I knew you'd get it!"
"What?" Jack lowered himself to the base of a pillar. He tried to ride a gust of wind back up to Tooth, but only managed to climb up several feet before dropping back down. "You're telling me… I'm the boy...? I'm the one he likes? I'm the guy?"
Tooth knelt in front of him, placing a small hand on his shoulder. "I've known for a while, Jack."
"And you never told me?"
"I wanted you to figure it out. Honestly," she said with a blush, "I was hoping Jamie would kiss you like in those romantic movies."
"Instead he sends me on a stupid goose chase."
"Please be nice about this. Jamie's a fragile child. He needs to be loved and cared for. Don't hurt his feelings."
"I'm turning him down?"
Tooth covered her mouth. "You aren't?" Mini-fairies flitted to Jack, chirping and patting his head with teary smiles. One of them burst into tears and clutched at a nearby fairy. "Oh girls, stop it," Tooth brushed one away that held a golden ring.
"I didn't say I'm turning him down, but I didn't say I'm saying yes either!" Jack stood up, sending the fairies flitting away, some bumping into each other. Several took cover behind Tooth's back. "Leave me alone!"
"Jack…" Tooth said softly.
"What am I supposed to do? I didn't deal with this in my human life, and I've never had to for centuries! I can't deal with –with love and relationships and – no. I've hadenough confusion."
Jack left the Tooth Palace without a goodbye, his confusion a dense fog over his thoughts.
A/N: Beta'd by Shattered Equilibrium.
I understand that not everyone ships this. If you don't, that's cool.
Even if you don't ship it, I ask of everyone: what should the Jack/Jamie ship name be?
There will be at least one more chapter - or two. It depends on how the second chapter goes.
This story is dedicated to Riqis Inna Sunja. :) She's a total sweetheart and one of my first readers.