I have no idea where I'm going with this. :| Next chapter picks up in around the approximate era of the movie so, uh, ideas are welcome. Just don't expect too many ships, okay?

Zastruga

Prologue: Eclipse

The evening of his rebirth was cold and clear and beautiful. By the full moon's guiding light, the boy rose through the ice and into the air. For a moment, he hung suspended on a moonbeam. Then, he lowered gently to the surface of the frozen lake, where the cold north wind breathed life into his lungs.

The Man in the Moon smiled down at the world's newest immortal. How rare it was to find a human with a heart so strong, and rarer still in one so young and unfamiliar with the ways of magic. There could be no doubt that this boy possessed something of which the world's children were in desperate need. Someday, he would become their great ally – a Guardian.

But not yet. He needed time to grow, to learn of himself and of children, of the world around them and of his own immortality. And so, as his newborn spirit woke for the first time, the Man in the Moon sent a message of welcome down on a moonbeam and with it, the spirit's name.

In that moment, a shadow fell.

A spindly hand, made from the kind of fear that turns tree branches into claws, closed around the boy-spirit's name and plucked its message from the air. The teen, lost in his surroundings and in discovering the staff that would give him power, noticed nothing.

Pitch Black, the Lord of Nightmares, drew his hand back into the shadows and held the message close to his heart. As his golden eyes watched the wandering spirit, he whispered to the moon, "Tell me, old friend. Did you think me so weak that I would not notice your little games?"

The moonlight flickered. Pitch chose to believe that the little man within was shaking, possibly in fear and possibly in fury. Before any more messages could come through, shadows disguised as clouds blocked the gleaming orb from view.

As the light vanished the boy on the frozen lake turned on the spot, searching for a reason why. The end of his staff struck the ice, scattering a trail of fern-patterned frost that sparkled even in the dimness that remained.

Pitch chose this moment to appear, right where the trail came to its end. He gave the spirit a smile as thin as a razor blade and delivered his stolen message. "Hello, Jack Frost."

Jack – as he was therefore named – glanced one way and then the other before finally coming back to Pitch, his eyebrows knotted in confusion. "You…are you talking to me? What's with that weird name?"

Pitch raised a curious eyebrow. "It's yours. Do you not remember?"

The boy didn't need to answer. From the way he pursed his lips, it was all too clear. Was this what happened to humans as they died? Or had the Man in the Moon, in some misguided attempt at kindness, made it all too easy for Pitch to lead this child astray?

The razor-smile spread further. Pitch closed the distance between them, extending his hand. "No matter. I'm here to help you, Jack. Come along now. Everything will be all right."

As he advanced, Jack backed away, his shoulders hunched, his staff raised, and his bare feet steady along the ice. Keen instincts, Pitch noted. Perhaps the child could smell Fear.

The dimness wavered as the moonlight struggled against his darkness. There would not be much time. Without warning, Pitch lunged for the boy, intent on dragging him into the shadows, but to his surprise Jack proved quicker. He darted under the Nightmare King's grasping hands and flew across the ice, his staff leaving a trail of frost and snowflakes in its wake.

In seconds, he reached the end of the lake and, before Pitch could so much as move, shot straight up on burst of icy wind. Moments later, he'd vanished over the trees.


It was not a move that Jack had been expecting.

All he'd tried to do was jump onto the shore. That's all. But he'd caught the wind, shooting up through the sky like a rocket. For a few split seconds he was paralyzed with fear. Then excitement swelled. He whooped and cheered, urging the wind to carry him higher, higher, further, and then…

Without warning, the wind was gone. Jack dropped like a rock, right into the branches of an ancient tree. He bounced off three of them before one finally caught, his staff clutched in the crook of his arm. He lay there a moment, his cheek pressed into the bark, gasping for breath and trying to make sense of what had just happened. He couldn't decide whether to be afraid or exhilarated and finally settled on both.

When he got the air back in his lungs, he sat up and spotted lights not too far away. Firelights, the lights of a village, of human beings. Good, he could finally ask someone what was going on. Someone who wasn't made of creepy.

Jack – he decided it was better to have a strange name than none at all – leapt from branch to branch through trees until he finally reached the village, swinging out of a pine and into the dirt path. Like everything else since the clouds came in, the town was dark, though people moved from lantern light to lantern light as though it didn't matter.

On every corner, grown-ups talked business while their children played in open roads. Jack beamed with relief and approached the first woman he saw. "Excuse me!"

She hurried on her way without so much as a look. Jack tried again, this time with a passing man, but was again rebuffed. The third time he stopped a preacher and got the same result. So much for being a good Samaritan. Perhaps they didn't like strangers?

As a last-ditch effort, Jack knelt in front of a pair of children running after their dog. "Hey, sorry," he said, beaming as the ran his way. "But can you guys tell me where I…"

The dog ran straight through him.

Jack was so shocked by this turn of events that he didn't even move. Then the girl passed him, racing through his body like a breeze, followed closely by her brother, who didn't even register. Jack jolted upright, failed to regain his footing, and fell straight through the two men talking grimly on the corner. He rolled away from them, only to be walked over – no, walked through, like a puddle – by a woman in heels.

Clutching his staff, Jack dragged himself from the muddy streets and stumbled into the space between two houses. He clutched a windowsill for balance, his mind reeling. They couldn't see him. He was invisible, no, more than invisible – he was non-existent. But that was impossible. He was here, he thought, he moved, he breathed. So why couldn't they see?

He leaned his forehead against the cool glass of the window and tried to rein his ragged breathing back under control. When he finally managed it, he heard something on the other side of the glass: quiet, tired sobbing, as though someone wanted desperately to sleep but could not do so because of her tears.

Jack peered into the window, his very presence conjuring a layer of frost disturbed only by his hands. Inside the room, a little girl with long, straight brown hair was curled on her bed, tucked in a blanket and crying quietly into her hands.

For some reason, Jack's heart broke. He found himself wanting to reach out to her, to show her that she wasn't alone. So he knocked gently on the window to get her attention and offered her a friendly smile.

She did not see his smile. What she saw were his handprints, forming in the frost from apparently nowhere, pressed against her window glass as though trying to reach her. She screamed.

Jack fled. As he burst into the streets, he heard the child screeching and yelling about a ghost, a horrible ghost come to make her pay. Was he ghost? He didn't want anyone to pay. He didn't want anything. He just wanted – needed – to know what was going on.

He only stopped running once he'd reached the safe shadows of the woods. Not one person in the village took note of his flight. Huddled against a tree, he watched several of them hurry towards the home of the screaming girl. No one so much as glanced his way.

A hand settled onto his shoulder. Jack looked up and found himself face-to-face with the dark figure he'd met on the lake. His mouth went dry. "Am I dead?" he croaked, barely able to voice the words.

The man in black slowly shook his head. "No boy. Not dead. Just…special."

Special. That sounded…good.

"Special how?" Jack asked, standing a bit more straight.

The man in black smiles his razor smile, keeping his hand on Jack's shoulder. "Very special, Jack. More than you could ever imagine. Would you like to see?"

Jack's hand closed over the spindly one on his shoulder. The only hand he could touch, attached to the only man who knew he was alive.

"Yes," he said, with only a bit of hesitation.

And so the Lord of Nightmares opened a portal in the night and took Jack Frost under his wing.