Jack dropped into Pitch's lair to find the boogeyman wandering around, peering into the cages and other dusty corners.

"Quasi!" he called. "Quasi, blast it! Where the devil could he have gotten to?"

"Who's Quasi?" Jack asked, flitting down to the bridge that Pitch stood on. And then something landed on his head. Something bristly and large and possessing far more legs than anything should properly have. Jack froze, every inch of his skin crawling.

"Oh Jack, you found him!" Pitch said gleefully, clapping his hands. "There you are, Quasi. Naughty boy."

"Pitch, what is on my head?!" Jack hissed, not daring to move.

"Oh, don't worry, Jack. It's only a camel spider."

"A what?!"

"Oh, no, no, it's fine. They're not actually spiders, it's a misnomer. They're solifugids. An different species entirely. They're actually much closer related to scorpions," Pitch explained, spreading his hands.

"Not. Helping!" Jack growled, clenching his hands on his staff.

"You should really relax, Jack. Being so tense can't be good for you, and they're not venomous at all. And he really seems to like you. It must be because you're nice and cold. Fascinating creatures. They live in the desert and stick to the shadows to stay cool. It's really very amusing to watch them try to scurry into a person's shadow, since they're quite terrifying looking and it really looks like they're chasing the person, heh," Pitch said with a chuckle.

Jack's eye twitched, but he stiffened when he felt the thing shift. "Pitch. Pitch, it's moving," Jack whimpered. His breath caught when he felt it start to clamber down the back of his head and down his neck, panic spiking through him. "Pitch don't let it go in my shirt Pitch get it off Pitch please!"

"Oh, all right, fine," the boogeyman sighed, stepping forward to gently scoop the creature off of the back of Jack's neck. "Honestly. No appreciation for the lovely things of this world."

Jack sputtered incoherently and scrubbed his hand desperately over his head and neck, trying to wipe away the sensation of multiple bristly legs against his skin. A sort of growly, rattling sound made him pause and stare down at the thing that Pitch held. At least this one was small enough to fit in only one hand, though only barely. It was the length of the boogeyman's outstretched fingers and palm together, and a good inch or more of that size seemed to consist entirely of massive mandibles and fangs that the creature was rubbing together to produce the noise, the first two of its eight long legs outstretched towards Jack. It was entirely covered in beige bristles and tan chitin, its body segmented and alien-looking and one of the freakiest things Jack had ever seen, and he had been closely aquainted with the physical embodiment of fear itself for the last several decades. Jack took several hurried steps backwards.

Pitch made a cooing sound and stroked a finger along the length of the thing's body, soothing. "Poor dear. Look, he misses you."

"I don't miss it!" Jack snapped, clutching his staff defensively in front of him.

"Apparently," Pitch replied, shrugging. "Very well." He vanished into the shadows to reappear on a further walkway, pulling open the door of one of the cages and placing the thing carefully inside. He shut the door with a click and blinked back to where Jack was. "Better now?"

"Don't do that!" Jack snapped.

"But Jack, I didn't do anything," Pitch replied innocently. "I can hardly be blamed for something that a wild animal does, can I? And you're always talking about how I should make more friends..."

"Your taste in friends sucks," Jack grumbled.

Pitch snorted. "So what does that say about you, when you're on the top of that short list?" he asked with a smirk.

"It means that my standards for friends are seriously too low."

"Well, I won't argue that. I mean, look at them. An overgrown rabbit, a jumped-up feather duster, a doddering old man, animated cat litter, and more out-of-control brats than you can shake a stick at," Pitch sighed, shaking his head. "Why, if it weren't for me, I'd be worried that you were entirely out of your mind."

"Could your ego be any bigger?" Jack asked, rubbing his forehead exasperatedly.

"Oh, I'm sure it could be. A few compliments would go right to my head," Pitch drawled, holding out his hands as nightmare sand took the shape of two small, vaguely humanoid things. He cleared his throat and spoke for them in a falsetto.

"Oh, mister boogeyman, you're so horrifying!"

"Oh, you're too kind," Pitch answered himself.

"And so devious!"

"I know, I know. It's a burden sometimes, really." Pitch demurred, glancing expectantly up at Jack. "Your turn."

Jack snorted, trying to stifle his laughter, but quickly gave up and cracked up. "You're the biggest dork I know," he said, between chuckles.

Pitch sniffed primly, the nightmare sand dissolving and trickling away between his fingers. "Well, now you're just being hurtful."

"The truth hurts, Pitch," Jack replied heartlessly. "Now, I dropped by about this festival that they're holding out in Alaska..."


Author's note- If you're arachnophobic I really advise against googling 'camel spider'. Just don't.