Author's Notes: Hey everyone, I need your help! More details at the bottom of the chapter, but I need more page-clicks on my "work" site, the Oswego Patch, to meet my goal for December. If you could all please just visit: Oswego. Patch .com (remove spaces) I would be very much obliged. Thank you. Now, on with the story!
Drowning in Darkness
"Bunny, we're here!" sang the happy voice of Toothiana.
The brightly colored fairy, followed by several of her baby faeries, flitted out of one of the many side tunnels of the Warren.
"I am here as well!" boomed North, emerging from a different tunnel.
The two guardians met up in the middle of the Warren and looked around in confusion for the pooka that normally greeted them with an extra spring in his step every Easter morning.
As per tradition, the guardians would meet at the Warren to watch the children scout out Easter eggs and enjoy the newfound happiness with each treat they discovered.
You could never have too many happy children in their line of work, after all.
And even the ever-cranky Bunnymund was normally sunshine and daisies on Easter. But he was nowhere in sight.
"I guess we'll just head to the viewing room?" Tooth suggested. "Maybe Sandy and Jack arrived and Bunny's with them?" The little faeries swooned at the sound of Jack's name and Tooth swatted a hand at them with the order to "straighten up, ladies."
"Sounds good to me," the Russian man said, heading for the largest of the moss covered rooms.
Just like he had his globe in the North Pole, each guardian had a way to keep tabs on all of the children of the world, although none were quite so detailed as North's. Bunny's consisted of a giant screen in the shape of an Easter egg that could zoom in on different towns all over and they could watch the children.
The room was set up with squishy jelly-beanbag chairs, perfect for viewing, and an assortment of chocolate and candies in easter egg shaped bowls for snacking.
Sitting in one of the beanbags was Jack and Baby Tooth made a beeline for the winter spirit, earning a happy "hello" as she tickled his cheek with her feathered head.
Bunny was leaning up against the wall, eyes half on the screen and half on Jack with a rather serious expression on his face.
"Bunny!" shouted North, going up to the pooka and clapping him hard on the back. "Happy Easter!"
The pooka's quietly said "we need taw talk" was drowned out by North's joyous greeting of Jack, whom he swept up in hug.
"Jack Frost!" he roared jovially. "Happy Easter!"
"Hey North, hey Tooth," the winter spirit said, Baby Tooth sitting possessively on top of his head as the other mini faeries darted around, trying to get a good look at his teeth.
"Girls, leave him alone," ordered Tooth, before she swept in, Jack conveniently immobilized by North and began to examine his teeth, murmuring "so shiny" beneath her breath.
"'elp?" Jack managed to get out around Tooth's fingers, casting an imploring look at Bunny as North just chuckled.
"All rayt," Bunny said, coming to Jack's rescue. "Tooth, let 'em go. North, you too. Didn't yah want to watch the lil' ankle-biters?"
"Of course! They are all so cute when finding their eggs," said North. "Although, they are much cuter when they are opening their presents on Christmas."
The age-old jab, instead of resulting in a short scuffle between him and the pooka, ended instead with a pointed look from Bunny.
Jack didn't seem to notice anything out of the ordinary, settling back down in his beanbag with Baby Tooth to watch one of his favorite groups of kids in Burgess find their eggs. Tooth did though and raised an eyebrow.
The pooka gestured with his ear and the three stepped out of the room.
"Something is vong," North said, a serious look darkening his face. "I can feel it in my belly."
"It mite be nothing," Bunny started, but was interrupted as a tendril of golden sand breezed by and Sandy gently floated to the ground next to them.
A question mark appeared above the sandman's head, followed quickly by a snowflake as he looked around for their newest member.
"Yah know how Frostbite was helping mai with the Easter eggs?" Bunny asked, earning nods around the group. "Right at the end, little biter tried to frost over mai Easter, so I chucked his staff away. He went to get it and ended up fallen' in the lake. I thought he was playen a joke but…"
"He looks okay…" Tooth said slowly, throwing a look back at the room where Jack was.
Bunny shook his head. "He was shiveren, Tooth. I ain't ever seen Frostbite cold… or scared like that."
They all exchanged glances.
"He seems fine now," said North. "Ve all get little scared now then. Vy, just yesterday one of my yetis made me scream like little girl when I find him in my shower!" He chuckled at the memory but sobered when Bunny didn't even crack a grin. "Vat is it?"
"Frostbite has never been afraid of anythen," Bunny said slowly. "That makes this new fear… special."
"You're worried about Pitch," breathed Tooth, glancing over her shoulder like she expected the bogeyman to appear right then.
"He has been gone for year," said North. "Vy vould he come back?"
"I dunno, mate," Bunny said. "But I just got this feelen. When I dove into the water after him… it felt cold to mai."
"Because it was frozen lake?" North asked.
"It felt like somethen was there," Bunny said, voice still low and serious. "Somethen dark."
"We don't even know where he was dragged to," said Tooth. "There's no way to even confirm he's back until he shows up, right?"
Sandy created a cloud of dream sand and flashed to a small child sleeping in bed and then to a formidable looking set of eyes and teeth.
"Sandy is right," said North. "Keep an eye on children's dreams… Pitch has to gain strength from them, yes?"
"We should keep an extra eye on Jack too," Tooth said, to which Bunny threw her a grateful look. "Maybe he wasn't scared, just surprised that the ice broke, but if Bunny felt something we can at least keep a look out for a little while."
"And don let Frostbite know," Bunny warned. "If he thinks we're watchen 'em he'll just take off."
All four nodded and went to go join Jack and watch the happy children and put the threat to the back of their minds.
After all, Pitch had been banished by his own fearlings. There was no way he was coming back.
While his fellow guardians conversed about him outside, Jack remained oblivious, watching as Jamie found his third egg and showed it excitedly to Sophie.
He idly stroked Baby Tooth's little head, but his thoughts were far from the children's laughter and the happy little chirps Baby Tooth was making.
He was back in the water, but this time there was no Bunny jumping in to save him.
There was only the cold and the darkness and the light reflecting weakly off all the ice.
"What goes together better than cold and dark?
Jack visibly jumped as Pitch's voice seemed to echo in his head and Baby Tooth gave an inquiring chirp, but Jack just continued rubbing his thumb over her head and she quieted down.
He'd been so glad when he'd first seen his memories. He had proof he had a family, a sister and he'd belonged somewhere. He hadn't just been dropped in the world with nothing.
But his memories had shown him one thing he'd rather not have known. His death. He was eternally grateful he'd been able to save his sister from that fate, glad he had been the one to take her place in that watery grave.
But after today, he wished he'd never known any of it. Jack Frost was the guardian of fun, maker of mischief. He was fearless.
Maybe he ought to have tried swimming sometime before all this, he'd had 300 years to do so. But he froze everything that touched him; the few times he had touched a pool of water he'd had nothing to show but ice crystals clinging to his hands.
Rain had been awful, when he'd been in climates warm enough for it to actually rain instead of snow. Sleet was pretty terrible too. So the idea of jumping in a body of water had just never been appealing.
And now it was terrifying.
He'd felt so cold when he was sinking. He hadn't even known what it felt like to feel cold before that, as he was always cold. He had tried so many times to get warm, to feel that flicker inside his heart, but no matter how hard he tried to get warm – including stepping into a fire – he never got warm, he just burned.
So to feel cold, to know what that feeling was… that scared him more than he'd ever admit aloud.
So he wouldn't say anything. He'd just avoid pools of water for the rest of his life, double-check any ice before he stepped on it during a spring thaw and go back to smiling and laughter and fun.
Because he was Jack Frost. And he was fearless.
Pitch stirred in the darkness of his cave, sand stretching out like groping hands, soaking up the tendrils of fear he felt from the young guardian.
It was absolutely addicting.
He'd never had such a pure taste of fear.
He'd tasted fear all his life. From soldiers dying on the battlefield, gasping for their last breath of air as cannon fire blasted overhead, knowing they were dying alone.
He'd tasted it on the gasping breath of one being pursued through darkened alleys and parks, be it a thief or rapist or murderer following them through the night.
And he'd tasted it in the cries of children as they awoke from nightmares and saw dark, stretching shadows across their room and feared the darkness of the night.
But he'd never tasted this fear from a guardian.
When they did fear it was always for something, on behalf of someone. Their fear felt so… bitter.
But this… it was indescribable. Like a blanket of fresh snow, so pure, mixed with the cold dread of the dark, it was a drug to the creature that lay hidden in shadow.
Pitch Black wanted, needed, more of it.
Raising a shadowy hand, he conjured a single fearling, its eyes glistening red with lust for the tantalizing smell of fear.
"Go," he whispered. "Bring me Jack Frost."
We're getting to the emotional angst; my favorite part. There's just something so fun about really getting inside the heads of these characters. Also, wanted to do a small disclaimer for any mistakes I make here on out: I've only seen RoTG once. So I'm running on a lot of memory. I really love to pull quotes, but if I slightly butcher one, please just look the other way.
Now, three things and you can be on your way (review on the way out please!)
1. I am trying my best with accents and have decided to spell them phonetically. I hope it's not too distracting, but it helps me. I also hope they're not too bad, but I think I'm getting better!
2. As you read up top, I need your help. My "real" job, aka the one that pays bills and allows me time to write fanfiction, needs some help from y'all. I'm an editor for an online local "newspaper" of sorts and we are given a goal every month of unique people clicking our site (an IP address only counts once the entire month). Well, the guys up above seem to have been drinking too much peppermint schnapps or something when gave us our goals this month, so I need your help. It won't take more than a couple of seconds, all you have to do is visit my site. If you find a story you'd like to read, feel free, but all I need is the click. You can find me at Oswego. Patch .com (remove spaces). Thank you!
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