In The Silence
He dreams of toys although they do not look like anything he's ever seen a child play with. There are miniature men of patterned metal that move in jerky, halting steps; that spark and smoke and chirp like startled birds as they go about their incomprehensible business. There are tiny, flattened boxes painted in vibrant, eye-searing colors resting upon even smaller wheels that race about a track of hard, black material; two crash together and they bounce along a smoothly polished floor unharmed. Life-like, blushing dolls with ebony hair caught up in braids blink their china-blue eyes and call out for their mothers, and children fall into sand-sprinkled sleep clutching stuffed animals that give off a soft, comforting glow that keeps the encroaching shadows at bay.
Jack has Aster Bunny, and he cuddles the floppy ragdoll close. He's dreaming — but not the dreams of a frost child. Neither are they the dreams of a moonbeam. They are, however, the dreams of a child. Wonderful dreams. Or perhaps it's just that they're full of wonder. Jack doesn't know; he only watches them in bemusement, an outsider observing. The strange, intriguing toys are not his dream, and the child dreaming of them belongs to someone else.
The child is a fetching, winsome thing carefully guarded and cherished by an adult — and the child and the adult are one in the same. Jack considers this fact, caught up in dreams that are not his own; considers this child who is no child, but in all the ways that matter is. Yet is not his. Strange blocks lock together to form villages with towers that reach for the sky, and while he'd like to play with this child that isn't his and is not a child at all he's not sure of proprieties, and so he wakes instead.
He wakes to pliant softness below and warm-furred bodies above. Chilled noses are pressed to the side of his neck, the crook of his elbow, the arch of his foot — and he blinks as he reaches out hesitant hands only to encounter additional bundles of tightly curled fluff. He stares drowsily at the carved, wooden rafters overhead, and slowly smiles as he pets the silken backs and shoulders and tangled topknots surrounding him.
"Children," he murmurs, and ears twitch beneath his fingers; the nose against his neck snuffles and shifts to under his jaw. "What dream is this, Snowflake? First toys, and now children; I must still be dreaming... But if I am, oh! I want this. At least once. And then I'll never let them go. Is it possible, Snowflake? Can we make it true?"
His questions wake up the moonbeam, and as he waits for an answer — waits in a pile of trusting, sprawled, sweetly sleeping children — he remembers why he and his friend are so tired. Together, they'd defied Thaddeus. Together, they'd forced an impossibility into fact that had freed them to come... Come here. Here where they'd fallen into friendly, waiting arms, drained from the magic of pushing reality onto a different, better path. Here, where the compass had led to north, and North, and to something so much better.
'Yetis.' Gold glows through the fine material of his shirt and Jack wonders where his coat might have gone whilst leaving Aster Bunny behind, snug between his chest and the flung arm of— 'And Yeti children. ...This must be a dream, Jack boy, for Yetis defend their children fiercely. They'd never leave a stranger unsupervised with them, and yet...'
"Here we are." A child with fur as pale as snow at twilight grumbles irritably and stretches; sinewy muscles attached to dense bones are deceptively heavy, and there are yellow ribbons embroidered with Arctic poppies tied into delicate bows in her juvenile beard. She rubs her cheek against Jack's hip, leaving behind a scattering of fine, white hairs on his linsey-woolsey trousers as she falls back to sleep. "It's not a dream, is it?" he asks, as something moves across the room; something large, and imposing, and unbelievably furry is coming towards them. On tiptoes. And Jack assumes it's so no unnecessarily loud footsteps disturb the slumber of the children.
'It's a Yeti.' There's a note of worry in Snowflake's voice, a hint of wariness — and Jack doesn't understand, for his own instincts insist that he's safe; as safe as he's ever been in his room of golden Dreamsand; safer by far than his place amongst Thaddeus' family. He's safe, surrounded by children that are his, and secure in his welcome here at the northernmost point of the world. He doesn't understand Snowflake's fretting; he doesn't want to listen to Snowflake's silent warning. 'I never thought to teach you the language of Yetis; it's terribly complicated; I've only learned a few words, myself—'
The Yeti comes to a stop by the side of the jumbled pile of pillows and Yeti children and curious, thoughtful frost child. And it — he — speaks a rough, garbled tongue; the words are meaningless noises punctuated by mashed-together consonants and sharp snarls, and yet... Jack understands. Beneath the Yeti's guttural language Jack hears his voice clearly. It's as plain as the murmur of moonbeams or the plaintive complaints of the Wind. It's as familiar as English, or Nederlands, or Minnow...
"Did you sleep well?" the Yeti asks, bending forward to smooth Jack's hair back with a calloused fingertip nearly as big as his head. "You worried us, collapsing as you did."
"I slept wonder...ful..ly," Jack finally replies, tasting the words upon his tongue and pondering their truthfulness. He is not sure if wonderfully is quite accurate — though there was wonder; the dreams that weren't his own had been overflowing with it. His waking, though... That truly had been wonderful, a long-held secret wish of his heart finally granted. "It was just — difficult, getting here. I... I'm Jack," he introduces himself, untangling a hand from the long, clinging hairs of one of the children's topknots. "Jack Frost."
"Jack, frost lord." With surprising gentleness the Yeti's hand engulfs his own but instead of shaking it, the Yeti merely holds his hand as though it was something unspeakably fragile and precious. "I am Yaloo, leader of all Yetis; this is my den, and these ragamuffins surrounding you," eloquent, shaggy eyebrows rise in mild humor, "are my nieces and nephews. Who were told to leave you to your rest. Ah, well; the young do tend to interpret orders to their satisfaction, and they were so excited by your arrival..."
"They're no trouble, Yaloo. In fact," he turns his head to brush his nose across the small, furred face pressed against his neck, "I wouldn't mind sleeping every night, if it meant waking up like this." With a quick puff of air he blows loose hair away from his mouth and watches as the milky-white strands dance along unseen currents to the far corners of the room. "But I'm no lord; I'm just Jack."
Yaloo doesn't let go of his hand, only holds on with a firmer — although no tighter — grip, and shakes his head in denial. "You're a frost child; we are your people, and you are our lord." The Yeti's dark eyes are liquid and brilliant, as joy rises through deep wells of sorrow. "We thought all the frost children lost to us, called far beyond our reach. We thought — believed all the frost children were lost. Forever. And we'd given up hope." A tear falls from Yaloo's brimming eyes to be swiftly lost in his long mustaches, but his hand remains as light and reassuring as winter's first snowfall around Jack's own. "Forgive us?"
Jack giggles and the warm, furry bodies surrounding him wriggle to new positions as pale pink noses wrinkle and sharply pointed teeth are bared in groggy yawns. "Nothing to forgive — unless you keep calling me lord. 'M not denying I'm a frost child, and I'm sure all of you Yetis are amazing..." He can feel his honest smile attempt to twist wryly and rather than fighting it he allows the grin to break through, along with a shrug that startles a grumble from the child currently sharing possession of Aster Bunny. "But that doesn't change the fact that I'm Snowflake moonbeam's Jack boy. I'm his; do you see? And I've been his Jack boy for a really long time, so you'll need to find some other Jack to be your frost lord. —At least, I think that's the way it works."
Snowflake's love wraps around him warmer than the pudgy bodies snuggled up against his own, and Snowflake's smug agreement makes it possible for Jack to meet the disappointment marking Yaloo's face with a single, shimmering snowflake drenched in magic. Against such a potent wish for well-being there is no defense, and Jack beams as the Yeti leader blinks in momentary confusion before chuckling, accepting — for now — Jack's reasoning.
"As you will, Jack. We will accept you are a moonbeam's boy. But as you are his, so we are yours. Denying it doesn't make it any less true." Somewhat regretfully Yaloo releases Jack's hand before stepping away from the pillowed nest. Graceful despite — or perhaps because — of his size, the Yeti leader bows as his arm sweeps out to the side. "You are welcome here, Jack. Most welcome! Would you like a tour of our town?"
Oh, he would. He very much would. North is to be found somewhere in this strange Yeti settlement, if the compass hasn't steered him wrong. He'll be so very glad to finish his business with the troublesome, sneaky man. And Jack wants to know more about the Yetis; his Yetis that satisfy an aching need he'd never before been able to put name to. His Yetis the same way he's Snowflake's Jack boy.
The smile pulling his lips in an upward curve is large enough to hurt — but Jack doesn't mind. He doesn't mind at all. And he can't wait to explore the Yeti village...
...as soon as he figures out how to escape the affectionate clutches of the napping Yeti children.
End notes: I don't know if there's anything cuter than Jack in the middle of a pile of Yeti children. Really. I mean, picture puppies. Then kittens. Then Yeti-kids! See? Unbelievably cute! Hopefully this part cleared up a bit of confusion, as to why Jack would consider the Yetis his children =D If not, the next part does a little bit more explaining.
Who is Yaloo? In the books, he is the leader of the Yetis. Expect Tashi to appear in the next part. And what about Phil? ...Yeah. Phil's not going to be around for some time. Feel free to speculate — especially why he pounded his fist at Jack in the movie, while here all the Yetis wuvvles Jack to pieces. Okay, not pieces literally. Bleh!
Three cheers for Kaylessa! Whom Esse wuvvles to pieces! Again, not literally!
Three cheers as well to all of you amazing reviewers! Huggles and not into pieces wuvvles to FyreFlyte, Beloved Daughter, PuppetMaster55, whylime, lurkerlaine, savedbygrace94, Muggin Nix, Sora Moto, catgrl106, Effugere, Hunter-Re, Twilight Cardmistress, May Eve, Magyk Knight, jboat, Anne Camp, RandomKrazyPerson, Alana-kittychan, Fumus000, DragonflyonBreak, draconicflyer, Dragowolf, Bookworm Gal, Sora Tayuya, Crystal Peak, freedomtoaster, evilballoon, Imstarfire, Rubes99, Hannah, DragonsFlame117, hi, bookworm and ForeverWillEnd!
I think I got most everybody PMd ^^;; Except for those I couldn't... So...
AliceUndergroundWorks: I sent a PM, but I don't know if you've seen it. FFnet ate the link you sent me ^^;; Please resend, and I'll go look right away!
jboat: Aww! Thank you! -huggles- I hope you like this part as well ^_^
Alana-kittychan: I'm so glad you liked! Right now, my dad's biggest dietary restriction is low sodium. But then, he's always eaten bananas =D
Hannah: I'm so glad you're still reading! And if the last part made you 'Aww' then this part should have drowned everyone in warm fuzzies lol!
hi: It's great to hear from you, and to know you're still reading! HuggleGlomps!
Now, Jan-Di sent me an incredibly cute picture — and hopefully she doesn't mind that I put it up to share ^^;; You can find it at:
calicodragon dot com slash pitch-goldfish dot jpg
~And... it got me to thinking about a certain little AU way back in part 18 that I ended up naming Grampa!Pitch. Remember how Pitch wanted to give Jack a pony, but the other Guardians wouldn't let him have it? Yeah... Pitch is back for revenge, hahaha!
In Burgess; Jack and Sandy confront Pitch
Pitch: ::stands up from his smack-down, shakes dust from his robe and tsk tsks under his breath:: "Okay, easy. You can't blame me for trying, Sandy."
Jack: "Sure he can!" ::grins and hops off the roof of the building. points a finger accusingly at Pitch and raises his voice into a creaky squeal:: "Do... or do not. There is no try. Hmmm?"
Sandy: "..." ::massive eye roll, and an elbow to Jack's... thigh, the highest his elbow will reach:: "... ... ..." ::various images form in the Dreamsand above his head. most involve kittens::
Pitch: "...Really? And they'll chase the ribbon all the way up the side of the—" ::cuts himself off, shakes his head hard enough to scatter nightmare sand, and tries to get back to his soliloquy:: "You don't know what it's like to be weak and hated—"
Jack: "Sure I do! Easter of '68 — so not a fun time." ::pouts, and uses the crook of his staff to scratch an itch at the base of his back:: "Oh yeah, that's the spot... I mean..." ::mocking grin turns to one of embarrassment:: "Why are you pestering Tooth? Because Bunny? Crushing Bunny we could get behind."
Sandy: ::nods enthusiastically, and Dreamsand shows kittens happily biting fluffy bunny bottoms::
Pitch: "Really?" ::taps his chin — dramatically!:: "Huh. Imagine that. Okay, then. Sanderson, it was stupid of me to mess with your dreams." ::smiles benignly and claps his hands enthusiastically:: "So I'll tell you what..." ::lowers his voice — dramatically! and turns his head just so, letting the light of the Moon overhead reflect off his narrowed, threatening eyes — dramatically!:: "You can have 'em back, and I'll take Jack to the carnival."
::Nightmares come charging in from all directions — and turn into piles of inert nightmare sand::
Jack: "Yay! The carnival!" ::does happy little dance on the tips of his blue-tinged toes::
Pitch: "That's right, the carnival!"
Jack: ::glomps onto Pitch's left arm:: "I wanna go on the Ferris wheel, and the roller coaster, and eat cotton candy and candy apples and oh oh oh! Funnel cake!"
Sandy: ::stares in stunned shock at roughly 580 metric tons of useless sand:: "..." ::Dreamsand swirls but is unable to convey his precise feelings — which run along the lines of, "I'm not cleaning this up!"::
Jack: "And we'll toss plastic balls into goldfish bowls and dimes into teacups — and you'll win me one of those great big gigantic stuffed animals. Right Pitch? To make up for the pony those mean ol' Guardians wouldn't let me have!"
Pitch: ::slightly dazed, and slightly nauseated at the thought of all that junk food; also slightly alarmed at the thought of Jack eating all that junk food — then decides he'll start destroying Bunny by dropping Jack off with him after the carnival:: "Yes, yes, of course. What ever you want, my dear boy. Now..." ::pauses when he feels a tug on the right sleeve of his robe:: "What? Sandy?"
Sandy: ::reaches out his hand; opens and shuts it rapidly in a universally understood grabby gesture:: "..." ::Dreamsand swirls into the shape of a hotdog, a balloon animal, and a tilt-a-whirl::
Pitch: "Oh! For the love of—"
Jack: ::stops his recitation of increasingly bizarre fair concoctions:: "Hey; you really don't want to get on his bad side."
Pitch: ::considers:: "I concede your point. Fine then: come along." ::lets Sandy grab his right hand, and with Jack still hanging from his left arm they walk down the street, eventually turning at the first intersection::
Jack: ::voice fading into the distance:: "And we can get our faces painted with stars and flowers, and an artist can do our caricatures, and we can cut to the front of all the lines because Sandy can just put them all to sleep...::
::sleigh crashes into now deserted street::
North: ::blinking sleepily at towering mountains of black sand:: "Where did everybody go?"
XD Oh Pitch you big meanie, taking Jack and Sandy to the carnival! Does your wickedness know no bounds?
And so you my dearest readers do not go into sugar shock, Grumpy!Jack appeared (and was he grumpy!) and demanded I get on with his story. ^^;; Yeah, I'm not going to be the one to tell Grumpy!Jack no...
She encountered him in a tiny village nestled in the foothills of Sagarmāthā. She'd been resting beside a low, mud wall with her mini-selves, gathering strength for her flight to the Lamadary. She'd never before been called there — but a child had lost a tooth. A most extraordinary child, and it was her duty to collect that tooth and insure no harm befell it or the precious memories locked within.
She'd been preparing to go, stretching out her wings to ease cramping muscles, when he descended upon a bitter wind, snowflakes in his wake and frost spreading in great spirals where his feet lightly touched the ground. His presence startled her, and several of her mini-selves took flight. Merely as precaution — for while the pale youth was not known for being kind, neither was he known to be purposefully cruel.
"Winter," Toothiana acknowledged him, a greeting echoed by six others.
"Your Highness." He bowed over his staff, stiffly formal, then straightened — and it was then Toothiana observed his weariness, for he stumbled as he stood and would have fallen had she not steadied him with a hand beneath his elbow. "And my thanks," he added wryly, his white brows arched in curiosity at her closeness. Wind wrapped around him and slid him back, but his hand, slim and cool, remained upon her own. "Might we do away with formalities? I hope that one day we might be friends, and to my friends I've always been Jack."
"Toothiana." She was not sure what to do with the palm pressed so familiarly against her own, and her mini-selves inspected the clasp curiously, fluttering over and under to view the rare phenomena from all angles. The touch, despite her expectations, was not unpleasant; it tingled along her fingers as a handful of snow might and she wondered if the sensation was precursor to numbness. "Might I ask," she said, her voice soft with confusion, "what brings you here?"
"Not here." With surprising gentleness he released her hand, wrapping his own securely about his staff. "Or — not here in particular. I came to see you. And I imagine my reason coincides with your own: A Guardian child has lost her last baby tooth, and you are on your way to fetch it."
"I fail to see what business it is of yours, Winter." She cradled her hands, one within the other, but warmth was slow to return to them. Pressing them to the down of her breast helped, but her very soul was chilled by the youth's words. "What interest do you have in children? Or is it memories you're after?"
He shook his head and leaned into the support of his staff. "You would be surprised... I've fought the Shadow Men," he told her, and she found it hard to hold his frozen gaze. "Driven off Fearlings, and protected those that they would prey upon. —Others have taken up the task as well; surely you've noticed the lessoning of the children's nightmares. All thanks to the Guardians." There was an odd bitterness to his matter-of-fact tone, and the fingers curled along the length of his staff trembled. "Pitch, though, is not without resources of his own."
"I know this." A mini-self perched on her shoulder as the others flocked behind her; she wanted to reassure them — for doing so would reassure herself. "I have faith in Tsar Lunar and his Guardians, and we have other duties. —Do we not?"
His answer was a non sequitur. "Do you know the Pooka?"
Toothiana sniffed, then silently berated herself for the crass action. "E. Aster Bunnymund, who has made it his life's purpose to rot the teeth I've dedicated myself to preserving. If I did not know it was an impossibility, I would swear the rabbit man has chocolate sloshing around inside his head instead of a brain."
The youth smiled, a tiny, self-deprecating twist of his lips. "Aster does have his peculiarities, and he is perhaps too fond of ovals, but I will never again doubt the superb healing qualities of his chocolate." Memory darkened his glacial eyes, and Toothiana found herself moving forward once more; the gesture was unintentional, and yet it was her hand covering his where it clenched around frigid wood. His smile softened though his stare remained distant. "I do, however, doubt other things. Aster has foretold for me a future, and of a grand, glorious plan that will assure all of us victory."
She is amazed, for to her knowledge the Pooka had no friends and yet for Bunnymund to risk time itself for Winter's sake... they must be friends indeed. And the looming situation more grave than she'd thought.
He shrugged, and ice cracked and fell from the folds of his cloak. "Victory," he sighed, and rested his cheek against their joined hands. "Yet still I doubt. For I do not know your quality. There is a battle coming; Aster claims you will be part of it. And I need to know: Will you guard the Guardians?"
"Against the Nightmare King?" With a trill she called to all her selves, and they joined her in a whisper of joy and regret. "I will defend any that dare to take him on. Yet still I wonder what concern it is of yours; it's rare for you to involve yourself in the affairs of mortals — and humanity is certainly that."
"You would be surprised," he tiredly repeated before yawning. "I would be at the battle myself if not for the fact Aster warned me that things will fare worse should I appear. And I would so very much like Nicholas to get through one confrontation against Pitch without being severely injured. Have I your word, Toothiana? Will you watch over them? Will... Will you protect my Nicholas?"
She knew the name Nicholas St. North. She knew of his deeds, and she knew the secret aspirations of his heart — for she had his dearest dreams safely stored inside his baby teeth at Punjam Hy Loo. And by remembering the boy St. North once was, she also truly knew for the first time the worn and ragged youth before her.
"Jack," she said, returning the bow he had given her — bowing to the memory of an orphaned boy's childhood friend, that played with him, and provided for him, and loved him as others would come to do. "My blades are yours. I swear to you, with the last breath in my body I shall keep your Nicholas safe."
As you can probably guess, this is almost entirely book based. Although the chances are good that book Toothiana wouldn't have touched Jack at all. Unless... I'm thinking she recognized another soul as lonely as she is. So — no romance! Just two shunned souls holding hands, okay? As for Toothiana's disdain for Bunnymund; well, why not? In the books, Bunnymund doesn't think much of her in the beginning.
So, following the books' plot, we've covered North's orphaning and subsequent raising in the wild. North's joining the Cossacks and dreaming of being a bandit king. North learning to use the sword — since he wasn't having much luck with guns lol! North's illness after the fight with Pitch and the Bear. North creating toys for the children of Santoff Claussen at the beginning of the second book. North's near death after the battle with Pitch at the end of the second book. And now around the middle of the third book before Toothiana meets Katherine. ^_~ Which means the next part takes place in the unreleased fourth book. Yay!
Huggles to you all, and I'm hoping your weather doesn't prevent you all from having fantastic days!