Pitch had one purpose now, and one purpose only.
To seek revenge on the frosted boy that had brought about his destruction.
Killing him would have satisfied the boogie man for an eternity, but bringing about fear to chill the winter spirit's already frozen heart would be good enough. Better yet, watching the fear clinch the hearts of Jack's fellow guardians as they watched their newest member crumble to nothing would simply be icing on the cake. He wanted nothing more, and as his eyes narrowed in on it's prize, Pitch's black lips pealed back into a smile.
The boogie man had discovered in his attempt at destroying the Sandman that a Guardian's greatest weakness, other than not being believed in, was the very origins that they came from. For example, the Sandman's weakness was Pitch's home made night mare sand. When his arrow had struck the Guardian of dreams on that fateful night, dissolving him into nothing but blackness, Pitch had felt a sense of fulfillment. He had succeeded. For once in his dark and dismal existence, the Boogie Man had won. His win was short lived, however, it was what fueled him. He thirsted for that heart stopping horror that he had been blessed with months ago, and Pitch had enough strength left in him to play one last game.
Hovering over Burgess lake, Pitch stood erect, preparing for the wave of attacks that would follow shortly after. Nightmare stallions lined the shore line, grunting and kicking up the dirt around them. Poised on the other side of him were the Guardians: North, Sandy, Bunny, Tooth, and their youngest and newest comrade, Jack. Bunny's boomerangs flipped between his fingers, his voice taunting the stallions, BEGGING them to come closer. Tooth on the other hand hovered above North and Jack, eyes shifting to her right as Sandy's dream sand morphed between his tiny fingers, creating his weapon of choice, his whips.
"What are you doing Pitch?" North boomed, his voice echoing off the trees. "You lost, remember? The children no longer fear you."
Pitch chuckled, his head tilting back in utter amusement, the black sand swirling around his feet pulsating with each laugh. "And what makes you think I came for them, hmmm?" He mused, licking his lips. "It is not the children I want you blubbering old fool, but one in particular."
North's brow creased in confusion, his swords lowering momentarily. "I don't..." He began, only to be greeted by Pitch's laughter again.
"Of course you don't! To you he is no child. His age is far more than any mere mortal; however, his face..." Pitch paused, motioning to Jack, "will always reflect the child like wonderment of the boy he once was."
Jack visibly stiffened, his face scrunching in anger and his hands tightening around his staff. Bunny took a step closer towards the winter spirit, one foot slightly in front of Jack in preparation to fight off anything Pitch might through his way.
"I'm not afraid of you..." Jack stated firmly, eyes narrowing. Pitch raised his eyebrows, taking one step closer towards the group.
"You will be." Pitch raised one hand, snapping his fingers. On cue, the black stallions rushed forwards, drowning the Guardians with nightmare sand. Shouts of protest could be heard as the five wielded their weapons, blasting through as many of the horses as they possibly could. The crack of Sandy's whips resonated within the small valley, and both he and North bounded after a group of twelve, North's battle cry following him as he ran after them, swinging and slashing away.
Tooth and Bunny remained with Jack at the lake. There were plenty of stallions left there to occupy them for the time being. Tooth's wings slashed through one after another, but the tiny squeal of Baby Tooth caught the fairy off guard, and the Fairy became over run. Bunny growled in protest, his boomerangs darting in and out of his hands and through the black masses of the horses as quickly as possible. Hearing Tooth call out, Bunny hastily turned. The Easter Bunny's eyes widened with worry and he hopped to Tooth's aid, knocking the first few to her left away.
That left Jack.
Flashes of ice darted here and there, some hitting their targets while others plastered themselves to the ground and trees. The horses were moving quickly, and Jack was finding it hard to narrow in on one long enough to get out a decent shot. He wanted to hear the crackling of his ice as it seeped across the stallion's bodies, rooting itself within before solidifying. Then, the horses would freeze up, their golden eyes fading into darkness, and pop! The ice would crack, shattering them into a million pieces.
That was what Jack wanted. That was the result he aimed for as he blasted away, a cocky smile forming on his when he hit his target square in the chest.
"Having fun Jack?" Pitch cooed, slinking up to the boy. Jack turned on his heels sharply, pointing his staff at Pitch. "You never were afraid of my Nightmares, were you?"
Jack's jaw clinched, and his heels dug into the dirt, threads of frost forming around his feet naturally. "I told you before Pitch, they aren't my nightmares."
The Boogie Man cocked an eyebrow and grinned, slowly encircling the winter spirit, tendrils of nightmare sand nipping at Jack's feet. "Well then," he began, coming around to face Jack again, "it looks like I am going to have to make a better effort."
Pitch then lunged at winter spirit, catching Jack off guard. As soon as Jack's back hit the ground, he steadied his arm and swung his staff upwards, hitting Pitch square in the face. With a grunt, he stumbled backwards, giving Jack enough time to crawl to his feet and make another move. Having caught sight of the battle taking place close to the water's edge, Bunny snarled and attempted to push past the mass of stallions that continuously rammed into both he and Tooth. The more that flooded them, the harder it was to make sense of what was going on.
"Jack!" He called, trying desperately to catch the boy's attention. His eyes glanced quickly around the forest opening, searching for North and Sandy, hoping they were aware of the fight between their youngest member and Pitch. They weren't there. They had both disappeared within the forest. Bunny could see flashes of gold every now and then from Sandy's whips, and Bunny grunted, kicking off another horse as he tried desperately to pull away from the masses.
This had been what Pitch wanted. He had wanted to stall the group long enough to get at the boy they had all grown undeniably fond of. He had wanted to single him out, and with North and Sandy oblivious to the fight that was taking place, and Bunny and Tooth unable to pull away from theirs, Pitch closed in on the boy, moving to dodge Jack's wave of snow balls and ice blasts.
"Is this all you've got boy!" Pitch mocked, dodging another icy blast as it whizzed past his head. "And to think I thought you were going to give me somewhat of a challenge." Jack's eyes narrowed at Pitch, his chest heaving from an over exertion of power. Jack still had plenty of fight left, Pitch knew that, but Pitch himself only had a matter of time. He had to finish this, and finish it now.
Jack jumped forward, staff in hand, lunging at the Boogie Man. His blue eyes widened as he swung his staff high and brought it back down, hitting Pitch square in the shoulder. Pitch voiced a yell of pain and frustration, swinging his own hand up to strike the white haired wonder, and a fleeting wave of nightmare sand sent Jack tumbling back into the water, coughing and sputtering as he tried to move against the luke warm murk that surrounded him.
Before the winter spirit could regain his posture, Pitch was on him, pinning him against the shallow waves and knocking Jack's staff from his hand. Long black fingers curled around Jack's neck, and Pitch brought his head up, their noses practically touching.
"I know your weakness Jack Frost. Granted, it took me a while," He spat, fingers tightening around Jack's throat as his eyes met the boy's. "But I know."
Pitch shifted his body, straddling the youth as he pushed Jack farther back against the water, Jack's shoulders now completely submerged. Anger knit at Jack's brow, and despite his protests, he couldn't wiggle himself free of the darkness that hovered above him.
"Stop your squirming child!" Pitch growled, putting weight on Jack's stomach as he fought against the spirit's kicks. "Better yet..." Pitch paused, leaning forward to rest his lips against Jack's ear, "Keep squirming. I want your friends to have a good show after all."
Jack mustered a final yell in protest before Pitch plunged his head under water, holding him down.
Just as the Sandman had been born of moon and fairy dust and dreams, Jack Frost had been born of water. Cold, frozen, unforgiving water. The same water that killed his human body, and the same water that had served as the womb of his conception. Now, as Pitch held his head below the surface, bubbles of protest seeping out of his mouth as he fought against his suffocating restraints, he understood. Jack's greatest weakness was water. Not fire - water. He could stand being warm, he had sat by many a fire at night, watching the flames dance against the moon, but water was only safe when frozen.
Jack's fingers dug into the mud, frantically searching for his staff - his life line. He could hear Pitch's muttered cackling above him, and the faint shouts of protest from whom he figured was Bunny. His body bucked against the sand, his legs splashing and kicking up the water with all his might. With every ticking second Jack could feel himself grow weaker, his lungs taking in too much water. His vision faded in and out, but finally, as if a heavy wave of dream sand sprinkled across his eyes, Jack grew tired, and his eyes closed. His legs had stopped thrashing, leaving only a pool of brown muck around them and the waves died down.
Jack was still.
"PITCH!" Bunny bellowed, breaking free of the stallions, Pitch's laugher being the only thing resonating from the lake. Tooth emerged from the fleeting stallions as well, trying to piece together all that had just happened. The stallions were retreating into the forest. They had done their job, and as soon as Pitch had done his, they fled and dissolved into nothingness.
The Tooth Fairy's gaze finally followed Bunny's, and as soon as her eyes found the two bodies tangled up in the shallows of the lake, she wished she could take it all back and wipe the image from her memory. She was far to shocked to move, and it wasn't until she heard the whistle of Bunny's boomerang did she snap out of her daze.
Pitch managed to dodge the on coming bullet, and he stood up, water dripping from his black cloak. Despite his continuous laughter, Pitch looked weak. Dark circles had formed under his already dark eyes, and his shoulders hunched. His powers drained as the remnants of his stallions polluted the air. Pitch had done what he came to do, and he was satisfied.
"Jack be nimble, and Jack be quick, but Jack is nothing without his stick..." Pitch mused, watching with pleasure as Bunny's face danced from one emotion to the next: horror, anger, fear, sorrow... And Tooth, her hand clasped over her mouth, eyes wide as the moon itself.
Bunny couldn't stand it any longer. With loud cry, he raced forward, tossing both boomerangs at Pitch, his feet moving at a speed he didn't even know was possible. Pitch vanished before Bunny could get to him, and the rabbit skidded across the dirt, eyes and ears darting every which way, daring the Boogie Man to come back. His heart raced and sheer adrenaline pulsated all the way up to his ears.
The forest was silent though, and nothing but the rattling of leaves could be heard.
It was then Bunny's mind shifted to Jack, and he gasped.
"Jack!?" Bunny shouted, his voice rising as if he begged for an answer. The rabbit turned and frantically crawled to the water's edge, clumsily reaching for the blue hood that bobbed against the shoreline. His paws grasped the blue fabric and he pulled upwards, dragging Jack out of the water and onto solid ground.
Laying the boy down, Bunny crouched beside him, dread already constricting his throat as his paws fumbled across Jack's limp body, pushing away sand and dirt. "Frostbite, you hear me?" He asked, shaking the boy's shoulder. Tooth was by his side in an instant, and the fairy dropped to her knees, whimpering.
"Jack, sweetie, please, open your eyes," She begged softly, stroking his cheek as Bunny continued to check the boy over. Holding his breath, Bunny bent down, resting his head against Jack's chest, silently listening. He heard nothing.
Bunny jerked his head away sharply, his eyes wide and hands trembling. Jack wasn't breathing, and he couldn't make out a heart beat. How was that possible? Jack was immortal. He couldn't be...
"No, Jack! This isn't the time to play games you bloody show pony!" Bunny shouted, clinching his teeth, denial already setting in. The rabbit sat up on his haunches and leaned forward, placing his paws firmly in the middle of the lifeless spirit's chest. He began pressing downwards repeatedly, trying to restart Jack's heart.
"What...what are you..." Tooth fumbled, her voice cracking under stress and sorrow. Glancing up at her, Bunny stopped the compressions long enough to motion to Jack.
"Crikey, We've got to try something Tooth! He ain't breathin' for bloody sake!" He chided, watching as her face fell as realization set in. He hated that look. Bunny hated being the one that gave her the look, but the fact of the matter was that Jack was by all means dead, and if something wasn't done, the Man in the Moon wasn't likely to resurrect him a second time.
"Help me Tooth, please," He begged, applying short, quick compressions to Jack's chest once more. Sucking back a sob, Tooth nodded and pushed Jack's forehead back, waiting for Bunny to pause. As soon as the Easter Bunny let off, Tooth inhaled a breath, pinched the spirit's nose, and forced air down his throat. She whispered a soft "please" before she repeated, Jack's lips not nearly as cold as they should be.
A rustle in the trees behind them alerted them of North and Sandy's arrival; however, they offered them no pleasant greeting or whoop of victory.
"Is everyone..." North began as both he and Sandy appeared from the foliages, the words immediately catching in his throat as he took in the scene before him. Bunny and Tooth didn't answer, and North's swords fell from his hand, clanking painfully against the earth as the large and boisterous Guardian stood with his mouth agape. He had nothing to say, and even if he did...he couldn't.
Sandy hovered close, his face like stone. The Sandman never did speak, but his expression said enough. His heart was already breaking, and he had to cast his eyes away, not able to watch.
Bunny wasn't letting up. He would bring the boy back if it was the last thing he did. His compressions grew un even and rough, and the rabbit spat insults at the boy between pleading for him to open his eyes and Tooth's choked wails. Never in his life had Bunny experienced something so...traumatizing. Even when they thought Sandy had died, it was different. Jack was young. Jack looked like a child, and when he smiled (albeit that smile could annoy Bunny like no other), Bunny knew that Jack was still a child at heart, and would always be. That was what made it so painful. He had sworn to protect the children of the world, both mortal and guardian, and he had failed.
It wasn't until he felt Tooth's tiny hand on his paw that he stopped, his eyes meeting hers. She had given up, he could tell. Neither of them could say it, but they knew and Bunny moaned, pinching the bridge of his nose, fighting back the tears. Tooth had given up trying to control her emotions minutes before hand, and now, with tears falling freely down her cheeks and sobs catching in her throat, Tooth leaned forward, pressing her forehead against the white haired boy she, no, they all had grown to love. Her fingers threaded through his damp hair, and soft whimpers of "I'm sorry" were repeated over and over. Tooth continued to stroke Jack's face and hair and her sobs turned to sniffles, and she counted his eyelashes, inwardly begging those eyelashes to flicker and those big blue eyes of his to open.
It scared her when they did.
As if being startled out of a dream, Jack's eyes shot open, his body spasmed, and he sucked in a greedy breath. Sandy and North were at his side in an instant, and Bunny quickly reacted by scooping Jack up against his chest, tilting his head back so that the boy could better breath.
"That's in Jack, come on now. There's a good boy," He cooed, Tooth's happy giggles and squeals resonating his ears. Sandy smiled brightly as he hovered over the four of them, and North clapped his hands together triumphantly. "Just take it easy, nice and slow. Just breathe."
Jack's eyes looked tired, but as he glanced over their faces, a small smirk tugged as his lips.
"Blimey Frostbite, we thought we lost you," Bunny added, smiling down at the tired, but alive boy. The Moon had been kind and had given him back, and Bunny silently thanked him for it. Coughing as he took in another deep breath, Jack lifted a hand and playfully patted Bunny's shoulder, grinning back up at him.
"Awe, you do care..." He whispered hoarsely, a phrase Bunny was all to familiar with. Bunny only chuckled, and called Jack something on the lines of "cheeky bastard."
Tooth could hardly contain herself as she whipped back and forth, wanting desperately to ensnare Jack in the biggest hug she could possibly muster, but she settled for holding his hand instead, threading her fingers through his and squeezing. It was then that Jack knew he had a family. Not just friends, and not allies, but a family. As odd as their family was, he wouldn't want any other.
Yes, Pitch had done what he came to do. He had nearly killed the winter spirit, and utter horror was the only word that could describe the feeling that ensnared Jack's fellow guardians when they had thought all hope was lost. Regardless, it was over. Fear itself was only a fleeting emotion after all, and was easily replaced by utter contentment and love. Both of which threaded through the Guardian's hearts as their family was spared another day.
Once Jack seemed stable, North bent down and hoisted Jack to his feet, handing him his staff. He beamed down at the boy and sighed, Tooth slipping under Jack's free arm as to help him walk to the sleigh. Bunny stayed close, undoubtably protective of the child they had just saved.
Helping Jack into the sleigh, North patted Jack's shoulder."Come child, let's get you home."
Jack liked the sound of that.
He had a home.
I know, I'm horrible and mean. Be nice to me though! This is my first story in God know when. I was so inspired by Rise of the Guardians and the beauty of it, that I had to write something. Enjoy!