It wasn't often when one of their ranks ever had a day off. Let alone a sick day. It just couldn't be possible, not when so many children counted on them. Their responsibilities were just too great for them to think about a moment of relaxation, let alone a day.
It was too bad that no one told Jack Frost that.
The said Guardian of Fun, immortal winter spirit that brought the cheers of winter and all its spoils, made a grab at his nose, holding in the sneeze that was about to burst from him. He leaned against the chimney of the rooftop he was perched on for support, hoping that none of the kids that were now able to see him would actually see him in his current state. He held his breathe, waiting.
He let all the air out with a sigh, a cough escaping at the end. Slowly he brought his hand away from his face, silently thanking the Man in the Moon that he had avoided a serious cata-
Boogers and all, he rocketed into the air with the help of his winds, leveling at what seemed to be sixty feet above the highest of the rooftops. He sniffed to his utmost extent; trying to breathe in the cold air he knew was all around him. But he couldn't, as his nose was stuffed beyond compare and, he would guess, red like a tomato. Wiping his nose with his sleeve, he slowly and carefully settled down to the ground, unable to stop himself from sniffling and letting out small coughs that wouldn't go away for all he tried.
Jack, for the first time in his immortal life, was tired and weak and plainly wanted to curl up and drift off. The cold breeze rolled around him, trying to comfort him. But no matter what it did, nothing made him feel any better. The boy couldn't help but hunch over, as it took much energy out of him to even stand up straight. Standing was tiring, and he was panting uncontrollably, just like all the times he had challenged the Easter Kangaroo to a race.
Even as he continued standing in what was some random person's backyard, he felt his head start to throb. No matter how many times he rubbed at his forehead the throb didn't go away, nor did it fade one bit.
"Ugh," He grumbled, gripping onto his staff for dear life, "I thought… I couldn't get sick. I control… winter and everything to do with it… How can this even… happen?" The answer did not present itself in any way, but then again, he never expected one.
He glanced around, trying to ignore the fact that the pain in his head sharpened when he moved. Summoning up the last of his energy reserves he asked the wind to gently take him to his lake; somewhere where he knew he wouldn't be seen or bothered.
"Wind? Can you… help me out?" In response to his proposal, he felt the breeze swirl around him once more and pick him up and quickly, yet carefully, flew him to his destination. Jack was thankful that he was high enough that if anyone down below had the thought to look up, they would've had trouble identifying him. The moment his feet touched the icy and smooth texture of the frozen lake, he relaxed and sighed. This is where he belonged. Without hesitation he plopped himself onto the lake's surface, lying on his back with his face looking up at the sky. His staff was next to him, but he paid no attention to it.
Closing his eyes the spirit started to drift off, wanting the world to quiet down and let him rest.
Little and almost insignificant weights dropped down on his stomach, so little that he could've ignored them. And he almost did. But then, when he heard chirping and tweets all around him he suppressed an outward groan and correctly guess what was to come next.
"Jack! Hello Jack!" A giddy and sweet voiced called out from the darkness as expected. No matter how many times he heard her voice, Tooth always sounded inviting, so happy that he could easily imagine her smiling face. "Now what are you doing? Isn't it a bit weird that you're here sleeping when there are countless places that should be snowing?" He had to admit, her question was something he hadn't even given any thought to. He had a job to do. But for the life of him, as his head throbbed, he couldn't care less.
Jack forced his eyes open, being met with a close-up view of Tooth and her big, amethyst eyes staring rather intently on him. She was very pretty, with the sun behind her and brightening her whole appearance. Too bad any type of bright light hurt his eyes. He squeezed his eyes shut to escape the pain and hoped she didn't take it the wrong way.
She did, if not a little bit.
"Oh, I'm so sorry Jack. I guess I have no notion of personal space, huh?" Jack could hear the hint of hurt in her voice and he sighed.
She continued on, rambling, trying to brush past like it was nothing. "We just came by to say hello and see how you were doing. You hadn't visited in a while so Baby Tooth got a little sad- she really has taken a liking to you, you know- and so she asked me if she could take some time off to see you-"
"Tooth." He tried again.
"-and you know how my little darlings are- once one wants to do something, soon there's a whole group of them up for it- if you can guess how that feels like. I couldn't just let them fly here all by themselves- halfway across the globe- what kind of person would I be? It's dangerous for these little ones to be out by themselves. Sure, they collect teeth every night, but that doesn't mean I'm not worried about them."
"Tooth." He wondered if she even heard him. He thought not. She was buzzing from place to place, rambling on.
"So, all in all, I had to come along and make sure they were supervised and safe. Seeing you again was also something that I wanted to do of course, but it wasn't immediate. It's not like I wait to see you again- well, you and your teeth- but that doesn't mean I only like you for your teeth! I mean, you're a wonderful person- a wonderful Guardian as well! Actually, I mean-"
She stopped and he opened his eyes despite knowing it wasn't the best for him. From his position on the ground, he could see her feathers ruffled and from her stance he faintly saw that he stopped her in mid-motion, as she looked like she was going to shoot into the sky with all her hurry. It was all a bit blurry and she was still too bright, but he could easily make out her form.
Again, he sighed, this time placing his hands over his eyes. "Sorry Tooth, " With his stuffy nose, his voice sounded very strange and humiliating. "but I'm not feeling… very well and you're kinda not… helping me out here."
There was a moment of silence. Then, "Oh, you're not feeling well?"
He peeked through his fingers. She was now closer to him and her expression took an appearance of concern, similar to Jamie's mother whenever the kid wasn't feeling well. "Yes... horrible in fact. I don't think I could travel anywhere… far. Making it snow is… impossible, I don't even want to… think about trying it."
It was then that Jack noticed something. There were still little bits of pressure on his stomach, which he definitely knew were the MiniFairies, as they were always twitching this way and that, unable to hold still (he found it quite ticklish). But there was something else, something right on the tip of his nose. He lifted a hand away from his face and went slightly cross-eyed to see Baby Tooth perched on his nose. She was chirping sadly and patting at the bridge of his nose, no doubt trying to console him.
He managed a small smile. "It's alright Baby. I'll get over it… eventually." Then without warning he felt his nose start to burn and his eyes start to water. "Baby… you might want to get off me… now." Getting the mood of his tone, she zoomed away from him at her fastest speed without another chirp.
Then he sneezed. The response was astounding, as cold wind exploded everywhere, wildly shooting in every direction. The force of it was so great he slid backwards a few feet. Just when he thought it was over, he let out another, this one just as worse. Again, the wind erupted around him and again, he slid back a few more feet.
When he came to be, he was quite a distance from Tooth and her MiniFairies, who had all clustered together to avoid being driven apart by the winds. This was not good. His sneezing wouldn't let him get anything done. The state he was in now was not good, he couldn't continue long like this. He had his responsibilities.
"Ugh!" He slumped back onto his back.
"Jack." Tooth gingerly poked him, but he didn't want to reply, "We need to get you better. We need to get you to the Pole. I believe North could help."
"How would he know… what to do?"
"Well, given the state you're in, it's a shot. I can't leave, knowing you're like this. I need to know you're okay- so whether you like it or not, I'm taking you there, so not buts mister."
Without any more discussion she picked him up, keeping him close to her chest, "Oh dear, you're hot. And now I can see you're not your usual color. This really is strange." A part of him was too tired to complain and argue, while the other was trying to understand how strong she actually was given her physical appearance. Overall, he just went along with her, as she was soft and comfortable, despite being too bright and a bit too warm. "My staff…" He mumbled. Jack heard a chirp here and there, and from what he understood the MiniFairies would not leave it behind. He would have to thank them later.
But right now he was tired and so he drifted off.
There wasn't much to comprehend on the ride, as all he really needed to know was that the air hitting his face was slowly became colder and colder. Cold was better. From what he caught of Tooth's mumbling he could tell that she was really was beginning to worry about him. She kept speaking softly, mentioning, "inform all of them" and "maybe he could help." He dimly hoped that he wasn't as bad off as she made him out to be. The only thing that really bothered him, was that his palm was empty, as there was no staff in its grasp. The normalcy of it would've made him a litter better, he knew.
They were at the pole and losing altitude. His skin prickled at the temperature, or was it just Tooth's feathers tickling against his skin? Though his eyes were closed, he noticed the change in temperature exactly when they entered North's actual place. He couldn't help but shift in Tooth's arms; he didn't like the change. It was warmer. Why couldn't it be colder?
"Don't worry Jack it'll be okay." Tooth cooed. She must've arrived and saw North, as Jack was flown in one last dash. "North! North!"
He must've not seen him immediately because he greeted her in a cheery tone. Jack didn't know how he couldn't be spotted right away; he was in Tooth's arms. Jack didn't really catch much of what was being said, but he distantly heard North say something along the lines of, "Tell me everything that's wrong with him." It was hard to concentrate since the noises around him were much louder than he'd like. He couldn't help but hate those jingle jingle sounds that seemed to be following him everywhere he went.
Jack couldn't help but groan. Why did everything want to make him feel worse? The sounds, the temperature- both were just supplying his headache with power. The moment he let out a groan, he could almost feel Tooth and North both stare at him, as well as other eyes that he didn't want to bother with.
"Jack?" It was North. Maybe. He was almost sure of it. "Jack, can you answer me? How long have you been like this?" He opened his eyes. Yes, it was definitely the big Russian man. Score one for him, he supposed. And look at that, there were some yetis and elves there too. No wonder he was hearing the horrible jingling. Stupid elves.
"Uh…" He didn't know he was speaking very softly until they leaned in to hear what he was saying. "Yesterday… I think… maybe.. I don't really… remember."
Tooth and North looked at each other. Both seemed unsure what to do. Then Jack felt it.
"North, do you have anywhere to put him? It is nice, having him in my arms and all, but I don't think it would be a good substitute for a bed." Tooth managed through the silence. She laughed nervously.
"Yes, yes. Follow me." Jack really did wonder if anyone could hear him sometimes.
"What could we do to-" Jack managed to make a weak jab at Tooth's arm, stopping her short a second time that day.
"I'm going to…" He managed out, all the while holding his breath, wanting to keep it in.
"Oh! North you have t-" Tooth didn't get that far in her sentence.
A sneeze. That's all it took for him to let loose. The familiar winds whipped around him, this time catching Tooth off guard. He was out of her arms and into the air, easily passing the higher levels of Santa's shop. He could almost feel the ceiling barely centimeters from the top of his head. Through his blurry vision he saw the faces of all those in the shop staring up at him with surprise, except Tooth. The winds that shot him up and were for that moment holding him airborne, slowly died down and dropped him. Down he went and with or without his staff he doubted he could have stopped his descent.
"Jack!" Who had yelled out his name, it was a mystery.
That's why when he landed on something soft and supporting, he was a bit surprised to say the least. Had the voice caught him? When he felt the mass beneath him move and when his senses became dazed and his felt his eyes drooping, Jack was honestly glad that Sandy had been notified. Sandy wouldn't try to wake him up. He could do with some nice dreams. He hadn't had some in a while, not since Pitch. The gold dolphins swimming around his head were pleasant to watch as he slipped into sleep.
"I still say we toss him out the window."
That was certainly something to wake up to and Jack was pretty sure that it was Bunny's voice, as his accent was almost just as bad as North's. And just as Jack was starting to come to, he was able to hear the multiple rejections to the idea- namely Tooth. Jack wasn't so sure it was such a bad idea, as the nice and chilly outside sounded sensational to him. He could only imagine the chilly breezes, or was it that he actually was hearing it? He wasn't entirely sure.
"Bunny! How could you even propose something like that?" Tooth's discomfort was easily noted and, as Jack blinked his eyes to clear them, he saw her floating protectively in front of what he assumed was the bed post.
Bed post. That brought his attention to the fact he was on a bed. He slowly and carefully moved his hand to rub against the fabric, which was matching to the covers placed on him. It was very nice as far as he could tell, though there were bits of frost on it. Courtesy of him, he supposed. Not that he particularly cared at that moment. All he was concerned about was how hot it was. He wasn't used to this warmth, nor did he want to be.
"All I'm sayin' is that he's a winter spirit. 'Ya should assume that all he'd need is some time in cold. " There was a pause. Since Jack's view was blocked by Tooth's entire form he couldn't see why Bunny's had stopped. "See? Sandy here agree with me, so why can't the both of 'ya consider it?" Jack silently cheered, good ol' Sandy was there to help him out.
"Because... because it's a cold." Tooth spoke up, her feathers ruffling more than he'd ever seen them. Her usual group of MiniFairies whizzed around her, most likely agreeing to what she was saying. "From what I know, when someone has a cold, they should be kept warm and given time to sleep it off so that they can get over it. Nowhere have I heard of throwing someone out the window and into the cold. It just sounds horrible. Don't you think so? I personally think so…"
Jack zoned out on their argument, closing his eye to focus on the fact that he was too warm. In the background he could groggily comprehend that Tooth was going on how it was all so very confusing. Something more about the cold and the warmth, snow and blankets and hot chocolate and hugging. Maybe her mother instincts kicking in and she was going in overdrive.
He shut them out entirely as sleep was once again his, the dolphins leading his mind away from the discomfort of the heat.
Jack assumed that the Guardians had left to converse somewhere else because he woke up to silence. Silence that he deeply appreciate for once in his life. There wasn't even a peep of jingling from the ever present elves, for which he was grateful for. Not that any kind of sound had actually woken him up. It was just that… He was burning up.
And he couldn't take it anymore.
He successfully got himself out of the bed and those wretched covers- useless things they were. And by successful he meant completely flail out of bed, wrestling with the sheets that attempted to strangle him. The ground was cool against his skin, so cool that he didn't even mind the fact that he had fallen. His movements were sluggish and slow and he doubted he'd get very far in strenuous exercises, but it didn't matter. He wasn't trapped in the hot and sweaty death blankets anymore.
Now, all he had to do was get his staff and ride the winds out of there. Speaking of winds- they blew at him with a frenzy that could only be described as a joyous reunion. When he looked around and couldn't find his staff the winds acted immediately. They pushed against him, leading him out the doorway and through the Pole. No matter how much the wind urged him to walk faster he brushed off the idea with a flick of his hand. His head couldn't take it faster than a slow shuffle, his body pressed against any wall for support. He passed numerous yetis who were working on new toy designs. Waddled past two elves that looked to be practicing their dance moves before one threw a nasty punch in the others face. Jack even made his way slowly past the other Guardians, who were huddled together with their backs to him and talking intently. He resisted the urge to eavesdrop and instead followed the wind to North's workshop.
There it was. His precious staff. Leaning against the wall innocently. When his hands wrapped around it he couldn't help but feel better.
"Now…" He panted, leaning precariously onto the staff. He suddenly heard a number of voices shouting and although they were a bit muffled his foggy mind could tell that they were urgent. The others had probably found his bed empty and feared for the worst. "Let's get out of this heat."
He made a beeline around all the furniture in the room, his current status making him nearly collapse over every single one of them in a daze (not that he at all cared), and headed toward the window.
"Well, I'll be…" Bunny's ears twitched in, what was assumed as amusement. The other Guardians were packed right behind him, trying to get a better look as they glanced out the window. Sandy had to create a sand ladder for him to even see above the window's ledge.
There, before their eyes, was Jack Frost, curled up in a deep burrow in the snow with a satisfied smile on his face. His wooden staff was being cradled in his arms like a charm to ward off evil. He nuzzled his cheek closer to the sloshy ice, softly mumbling about dolphins. The wind whirled around him, carrying bits of ice and snow through the air. The temperature was still dropping and yet the boy looked content, even healthier.
"Looks like all he needed was to cool down." North exclaimed happily, not at all dismayed that he wasn't much help for the boy's sickness. In fact, he looked a bit curious, wondering how much he could learn from the winter spirit and what could come of it. He paused to brush a hand through his beard, eyebrow raised in thought. "Though I am interested as to why he wasn't feeling better in Burgess. It is cold there too, is it not?"
"I guess he just needed to go somewhere even colder." Tooth looked like she wanted to go to Jack's side, but the freezing temperature held her back. Around her, the MiniFairies were inching forward, only to shiver when a cold chill swept over them and flee back inside where it was warm. Baby Tooth went the farthest, only to be blown back by the force of the wind and was then kept at bay, despite her angry chirpings. "He looks so peaceful… I'm so happy that he's feeling better."
"Would've been happier if I was the one to throw him out the darn window." Bunnymund grumbled, hopping away from the window, muttering under his breath about the trouble the winter spirit caused daily and how it would eventually drive him crazy.
The others followed suit knowing that in a few hours the Guardian of Fun would be up and running about and up to his old tricks. He had a schedule and responsibilities to keep up with, giving snow days to children wherever it was needed and wanted. It was his job after all.
But that didn't mean they couldn't give him a moment of rest when he needed it.