Have a crappy oneshot written after a visit to the doctor and the drugs they put me on. Preemptive apology because I'm sure this sucks.
The day before Christmas found the Guardians all gathered at the Pole helping out with last minute preparations. The last few toys were being pushed out under Bunny's guidance while the yeti complained at the rabbit's constant nagging. Tooth was directing the loading process and Sandman conjured amazing images out of his dream sand to keep the rambunctious elves occupied and out of the way. North was in his office checking his list one last time to be sure there were no changes. There was rarly a tiem whn something changed so drasticly but he was never one for slacking off.
Jack sat up in the high rafters of the toyshop and watched the chaos. He didn't really feel like celeabrating but to be fair he has not had a Christmas of any kind since his death. After that it seemed as if he had been immediately placed on the naughty list and that was the end of it. He couldn't even remember what he had done to earn such a status. Okay, so maybe the blizzard on Easter Sunday was not his best idea, and the one time he tried to freeze every one of North's elves simultaneously had not been all that bright either but it's not as if he did it intentionally. He doesn't mean for it to come off as naughty or bad. For him it' fun and if the others actually got out and saw the world now they would see that it was just fun. Right?
Jack sighed before standing up and throwing his staff behind his shoulders and walking cross the rafter he was on. He had to duck when some of Tooth's fairies flew by. Baby Tooth was with them and after a short chirped message to explain what she was doing; she flew off to hover ahead of Jack. She chirped a fluttered around him and he could take a guess as to what she was trying to say.
"I'm fine Baby Tooth." She hardly looked convinced. "Really I am, now don't you have work to get to? Won't Tooth miss you?" She now flew around him in an almost irritated way. "Look it's nothing okay?" He continued walking, "I guess I just thought that this year might be different." The last part was mumbled but Baby Tooth still caught it. She flew over and landed on Jack's shoulder. She huddled in close as her own special way of giving comfort. "Like I said Baby, it's nothing to worry about. I was stupid for thinking things would change. I've been able to get through three hundred and some years like this so what's one more right? I just hoped that maybe it would change."
With his monologue on a roll Jack had lost track of where he was walking. The toyshop was supported by a maze of beams and columns so it was easy for Jack to get turned around. He ended up in the den area of the house. Tooth, Bunnymund, and Sandy were gathered there talking. Jack knelt down and started to listen in.
"The others are all coming up so soon? They usually wait until North is ready to leave; they know the trouble this could cause. They said they would be up today, Bunny. There is no way we can get everything done with them running around." Sandy nodded his head in agreement with Tooth's words. Multiple images flashed above his head but Bunny was too busy pacing around to notice and Tooth was above eye level.
"I don't know but we'd better just prepare for the worst. Do we know who's all coming?"
"Cupid, Leprechaun, Summer Solstice, Halloween, and the Groundhog."
"Oh God, the Groundhog? Why does he always have to show up when I want him to least? And is it even a good idea to have Solstice and Jack in the same room?" Again Sandy tried to get everyone's attention but his sand pictures were ignored.
Jack was still up in the rafters listening intently. Who were these other people? He had heard of them but had never met them or even went out of his way to try to. Cupid's domain was too far south; He had ruined one to many Halloween celebrations to actively seek out the embodiment. He may not have the best ideas all the time but he knew about the idea of self-preservation.
"We can't really help it Bunny. Solstice will get mad if he isn't invited and we can't ask Jack to leave. I doubt they have even met before though, what could be so bad?"
Bunny stopped pacing now and his ears shifted to attention. "I think we are about to find out." After that statement a yeti pushed open the door to the den and admitted the new arrivals. Baby Tooth could feel the darkening in Jack's mood but wasn't really sure how to address it. Jack took a moment to observe these newcomers who had the pleasure of coming to the Pole every year.
First looks were fairly unassuming. One was a teenage girl who was constantly on her phone and was dressed up in all pink. Her hair fell in golden ringlets framing her face and cascading down her back. It wasn't until she turned around that Jack could see the feathery white wings on her back. They were different from Tooth's though. While Tooth's wings worked like a hummingbird these looked like they would be used in manner similar to an eagle or hawk. She pranced into the room and promptly sat down on the couch pulled out a piece of new gum and popped it into her mouth before going back to her phone. Now Jack was confused. He would never claim to be an expert on other spirits, but wasn't Cupid supposed to be a guy?
His attention was diverted when the next guest walked in however. Now Jack knew how Bunny had known they were coming. Before the man had even made it to the door, Jack could hear him raving about something. He was loud but even at such a volume it was hard to make out what he was saying. When he finally got to the door himself, he staggered through and jack could now see that he looked to be about his thirties and had red hair. Jack had to stifle a laugh. The leprechaun was a ginger to the extreme meaning of the word. His hair was fire red and dark freckles littered almost all exposed skin. He stumbled over his feet as he walked in and would have fallen if the next guest hadn't walk over to help him.
This must be the spirit of Halloween, thought Jack. There was no other explanation for the giant, standing-on-two-legs, laughing, wolf that walked through the door. He looked like a wolf but he walked like a human. Like the way Bunny does, was hoe Jack rationalized it. He was covered in brown fur and spoke with a slight drawl.
Summer Solstice came in next, Jack figured. He wasn't a fuzzy little rodent so it couldn't be the groundhog. He had chin length curly blonde hair and a dark tan. Even in the Pole weather he only wore a light shirt and faded jeans. Unlike the others he didn't even seem to smile and after scanning the room he seemed to relax. A fuzzy little animal on his shoulder must have been the Groundhog then. As they got situated in the room Jack decided it was time to show himself. He didn't want to give away his hiding spot so he walked over to the next room and once hidden behind a wall he lowered himself to the ground and walked over to the door. He pushed it open as if he didn't have a care in the world. He put on a shocked face and pretended he had no idea that these other spirits were here.
"Oh sorry," he said not sounding very sorry at all. "Um, who are they?" He pointed to the new spirits.
"Jack! Don't be so rude. Come in and say hello properly."
He hid a smile and stepped into the room. "Hey, I'm Jack, Jack Frost."
The wolf seemed to be the only one who was paying attention. He stood up and walked over to Jack. "Hello there, my name's Len. Spirit of Halloween, extraordinaire."
"Spirit of Halloween? What do you do?" Jack was genuinely curious about it.
"Tell me- what monster do you fear the most?" He circled around Jack menacingly. "Obviously not my Wolf, so what is it?" In a blur the fur disappeared and sheets and the smell of rot was left in its place. "A mummy maybe? A zombie? Children are afraid of those now days." The sheets had fallen away.
Jack looked on in amazement. "Dude that's so cool!"
The zombie sprouted fur as his joints popped and reversed. A muzzle formed from his face and his teeth grew out. Soon Len's apparently normal Wolf stood where the Zombie once was. "I at least usually get a flinch."
Bunny laughed, "You're gonna have to try harder than that mate. This blighter took on Pitch with us a few months ago, gonna take more than a Zombie or a Wolf to spook him."
Jack was still staring at Len in fascination. He had never known any of the spirit could change their shape. That was so awesome! What other shapes could Len do? Did they have to be Halloween related? "Can you do other forms? Like a giant spider? Oh- or like a huge nasty bat?" Jack gasped, "Can you do a Vampire?"
Len flinched and balked, "No. Definitely not. Ever since those Twilight, Mid-afternoon, whatever time of day, books came out people either laugh or try to tackle me when I do my Vampire."
Jack had to laugh at that but the other Guardians in the room looked completely lost.
"But I thought Halloween was a holiday for fear. Wouldn't Pitch be in charge of that?"
"Nah, see Halloween may have fear, but it's a good fear. It's fun fear. People like to be scared now days they just don't like to be terrified. If that makes any sense. "
"Fido 'ere is losin' his ed. Uh, wait- 'is egg. No that's not right, he's losing his touch." Leprechaun had flung himself up from the couch he had been occupying where he was watching Sandy's pictures with rapt attention. Jack could smell the alcohol on the man and yet he had what seemed to be spiked eggnog in a mug already. Where and when had he gotten that so quickly? He hardly had time to think before he was pulled into a one-armed hug with the man. The Leprechaun was still taller than he was, Jack noted with disdain. "My name's Connor. An' I'm the lepercan. No, kahn. Uhh-"
"Sit down before you hurt yourself, Connor." The Groundhog hopped off Summer's shoulders and onto the ground. He barely came up to Jack's knees even when the groundhog stood straight up. "Name's Punxsutawney 'Phil' Sowerby, but please just call me Phil. So you're the little sprite that's been screwing up my predictions?" He suddenly dropped down to all fours and crawled up Jack's leg to rest over his shoulders. He took Jack's head in his paws and turned it every which way. Phil sniffed Jack's hair and grabbed the staff and weighed it in his paws. "Not bad but I've seen better." With that he jumped down from Jack's shoulders and walked away after handing back the staff.
Jack just looked on in shock. Tooth seemed speechless but Bunny wasn't even phased. He clapped a comforting paw down on Jack's shoulder and gave him a sympathetic nod. Bunny had told him about Phil a while ago and why the Groundhog disliked them so much. He said that it had something to do with how he prophesized the divide between winter and spring, but as the actual guardians for those seasons, Jack and Bunnymund were constantly throwing those predictions back in his face.
As he was walking away from the Guardians Phil stopped by the couch and leapt up into the cupids lap. He snatched her phone away and scampered off before she could realize what had happened. "Hey, Phil! No, like I really need that. You totally don't understand I was in the middle of something important." She reached out for the phone completely unaware of what had been going on around her.
"Look Val, as much as I dislike Snowflake and his big-eared hen over there, you should at least introduce yourself. It's only polite." He held the phone out of reach and gestured over to Jack. Val looked over and seemed to realize that there was another spirit in the room. Her whole demeanor changed upon seeing Jack though.
"Hey, sweetheart." She flew up from the couch and had her arm entwined with Jack's quicker than he could realize. "I haven't seen you around before. You wouldn't happen to have a girl would you?" Bunny was hanging off Len as both of them tried to contain fits of laughter. Connor had failed completely and was instead guffawing loudly from his place on the couch in between drinks. Tooth and her fairies feathers were ruffled up and flittering about in anger while Groundhog just looked on unimpressed.
"Um, I- uhhh. No." Jack tried to pry his arm away from the leech like girl that gripped him tight. "I'm sorry but I didn't get your name?"
The blonde pouted and chastised Jack lightly, "I'm Val, silly. I'm Cupid. I'm sure you know that that means, right?" She fluttered her eyelashes at him and moved her body closer if possible. Jack was still trying to free his arm with no help from any of the others.
"I thought Cupid was a guy? Like a baby with the arrows?" His struggling increased as the grip on his arm tightened. Around the room everyone seemed to choke on air. Val's wings fluffed up in annoyance and she rolled her eyes.
"So my baby bro gets seen one time, and all the sudden, he's the spirit of Valentines. No, he's just one of my cherubs. I'm Cupid. Me. And arrows? Come on, that's so last century." She shot a dark glare at Phil. "I have to adapt with the times. Unlike the rest of you, love is ever changing. These days it's as simple as a text between two people. Technology is working wonders for me!"
Jack just nodded awkwardly and finally succeeded in getting her to release him. "That's really nice."
She turned her glare back to Jack before smiling sweetly. "So would you like to hang out some time, cutie?"
Jack stayed silent with a deep blush on his face and Len and Bunny finally joined Connor in his rambunctious laughter.
She sighed, "That's just as well, I can't make relationships between spirits. We have to build those on our own." She left Jack as quickly as she came and plucked her phone from Phil. She settled back into the couch and took up her texting again.
Now he was completely lost. Jack was not looking forward to the last meeting. They seemed to be steadily getting worse. He turned to the blond boy expecting something awful and was mildly surprised when all that happened was a friendly nod and a quick introduction.
"Summer Solstice. I keep the summer weather in check and watch over the fauna of summer."
"So you help the plants grown and the animals?" Jack only ever got to see plant life when he traveled around in autumn when it was dying and most animal life fled from his snow.
Solstice smiled lightly. "I watch over the new plants Bunnymund brings and I keep an eye on the newborn animals, yes."
"That's amazing. I wish I could see it."
"I wish to one day see your winter as well, Jack."
Introductions aside they all sat back and exchanged small talk and tall tales until the late hours of the night. North came into the room and asked if Jack would join him in the sleigh trail and reindeer stockades. He agreed and they headed off to go prep the tunnel and ensure the reindeer were going to be okay in the snow Jack had planned for tomorrow. The Groundhog called out to North at the last second so he turned around and told Jack to go on ahead.
He nodded and started to walk away before realizing that he had no idea how to get to the track. The last time he had been was when they were going to face Pitch. The toyshop was huge and he knew he would just get lost. Jack wanted to spend more time with the new sprites he had just met so he hoped he could get the work done quickly. He was sure North wouldn't mind if he interrupted for directions. He turned back and walked the few steps towards the door before he heard it.
"He's a child North. You can't count on him to take on all this responsibility." He paused. The sounded like the Groundhog. He knew the rodent didn't like him but that seemed a bit far.
"I understand that 'e 'elped ya defeat Pitch, but like Phil said- uh, he's, he is just a kid." Now Jack was curious and a little hurt. He spied the rafters above him again. It would be easier to listening that way, wouldn't it? And if the conversation was about him then he had all rights to listen in as far as he was concerned. He quietly lifted himself into the air and walked across the maze to the right beam and crouched down to listen further.
"Yeah, I'm sorry but he is nothing more than a little brat. You've seen the messes he makes. Bunny, darling, you were victim to one of them. Yet you still want him to be a Guardian?" Val interjected from behind her phone. She still hadn't moved that Jack knew of.
"Whoa, now see here, mate. Jack can be trouble yes. He can irritate the hell out of me sometimes. I won't deny that I disliked him for a long time after that Easter, but that doesn't' mean that people can't change!"
Jack flinched back. Bunny hated him for the blizzard? He knew it was a sore spot but he really thought that they had moved past it. Who were these other spirits to come here and say he couldn't handle being a Guardian? He had proved himself. They swore him in. Was it all for nothing, just an elaborate prank?
North interceded between the two, "Jack was reason we were able to beat Pitch. He is good kid just a little rough around edges. We are helping."
"Not, not for nothin' but some things are jus' to broke to fix, North." Connor still looked like he wasn't quite coherent so Jack tried not to take that personally but it was hard to hear this and to hear almost no defense from the Guardians. Did they feel the same and were just to kind to say it to his face? Was he really annoying them all this time and they only wanted him so they could use him to defeat Pitch?
"He's dangerous. We don't have to tell you what he can do. You've seen it. Can you really trust him though? He's been on his own for years." This time it was Len who spoke up. Jack could feel his eyes starting to water. But then what did he expect. He just met them today, maybe he could change their minds. "It's not just Easter he ruined either. He almost ruined Christmas- if you didn't have that reindeer of yours you never would have gotten through. Then there was the Children's Blizzard in 1888 and that same year he dropped 50 inches of snow on the eastern seaboard of the United States! He sunk the Titanic, North. He's just not safe."
"He misused his gifts because we never bothered to show him how-"
"It shouldn't matter." Summer stepped in, "he should know what is right and what's wrong. He is unstable and it is because of his 'gifts' as you say. He only has the power to destroy. We all create; we bring things into the world and create joy for children. He brings death."
Bunny was getting angry now. It seemed as if they wouldn't be able to talk about this civilly. "Now hold on a second, you say you're better cause you all bring things into the world. Len, sorry mate, but what good do you bring into the world?"
"Like I told Frost, I bring a healthy fear into their lives."
"That's not nearly enough-"
Tooth's argument was cut off by a choked sob. They all looked around only to see Jack up in the rafters, having heard everything. Not only was this another Christmas on the naughty list, but now he finds out that everyone that he cared about seemed to not care about him. After three hundred years he thought he might finally have a family. He hurriedly grabbed his staff and flew from the toyshop. He didn't hear or didn't care about the calls asking him to wait and come back.
He should have known it was all just a lie disguised in a pretty package.
The Guardians watched Jack leave with pain and anger on their faces. They turned collectively to the visiting spirits and North stepped forward and told them to get out.
"Look, we never wanted him to hear. We just wanted to let you know about-"
North stepped up face to face with Solstice while the other Guardians squared off to the others. Bunny growled at the Groundhog. Tooth and her fairies buzzed angrily around Val, and Sandy had his whips out and ready to use them on a surrendering Len. Connor had passed out after his little contribution to the conversation earlier.
Len backed down first. If he was perfectly honest he had no real problem with Jack. His Halloween night could get a little cold, but kids were resilient and they would simply bundle up or make their costumes work with the weather. He lowered his ears and eyes in submission and walked over to pick up Connor. Connor usually had at least some idea of what was going on but they had gotten him drinking long before he had shown up at the Pole. It was likely he wouldn't even remember this night. "I really am sorry. Just doing what we thought was right. If you think you can handle him than more power to you."
Val and Phil gave up next. They left without an apology or any sings of remorse. Solstice followed them with the parting words, "He is dangerous. You'll see in time. Joy can't thrive locked inside of ice." He backed out of the room and joined his comrades. They left the Pole as the Guardians started a mad scramble to find Jack.
It was discovered that he too had left the Pole. The Guardians had an emotionally unstable immortal teenager who had the powers of winter at his command lost out in the cold, alone, on what was now Christmas Eve. North would have to take the sleigh to deliver presents. They would have to put off looking for Jack until after Christmas. If they could even find him again. They had worked so hard to chip away at the shell three hundred years of isolation can cause and in one night, it was up and tenfold strong.
Now it was just a matter of finding the boy.
Jack meanwhile, huddled under a rocky overhang overlooking the lake in Burgess. The Guardians never learned of his drowning and though it was obvious he would come to the town, they wouldn't come to the lake.
Why was it so easy for the Guardians to listen to them? They knew of all his mistakes and they didn't blame him. He had woken up, immortal, unseen, and with the power to bring winter to the world. Naturally he was a little overwhelmed. But to go so far as to say he was dangerous? To go so far as to bring up the children he had killed? Fine if they wanted dangerous, they would see dangerous. The Guardians gave him a weak defense, most likely out of nesecity. But now they would have no need to. He would become what they saw him as. They were so worried about him when they should worry about themselves. Pitch had once said nothing goes together better then cold and fear, Jack now could see why. Now he just had to see if the offer still stands.