So because you all left such wonderful reviews, and I am currently drugged out of my mind, I decided to give this another chapter. Enjoy.
The other spirits were gathered in Solstice's palace, Phil's burrow not big enough for the meeting, Len not having a permanent home, Val hadn't wanted anyone to mess up her operation, and Connor still passed out cold. His home was large and spacious but was built into a cliff. He had large windows that overlooked out to the sea and low ceilings. Everything was painted white and the floors were a dark colored wood. The center of the house was cut out from the basement to the 3rd floor ceiling so Solstice could grow his favorite tree, the ash. They were in the living room with a view that looked out over the ocean as the waves crashed up on the rock. Behind them was a glass structure with cascading water down it for ambiance. Solstice was facing out staring at the water.
"Look, maybe we just messed this one up. It's possible for us to make mistakes as well you know." Len was shamelessly poking around Summer's kitchen. He was opening cabinets and pulling out food only to put it back after a curious sniff. He opened the fridge and riffled around inside for a bit before coming back into the living room with a bag of carrots.
"What the hell are you eating?" Phil was sitting on a self in the bookcase so he could be at eye level. He was about to comment on the current argument they were having when he saw the Wolf show up with food.
"Shut up, you don't hang out with Chupacabra like I do. I watched him eat once and I swear I'm never eating meat again." Len shivered as he stuffed more carrots into his mouth. "Besides Nessie said it would help my figure if I went vegetarian."
"Why do you need to watch your figure? You can shape shift! You're almost skin and bones already."
"Can't I just do something for me, Phil?" He walked past the Groundhog a waved a carrot at the rodent. "When was the last time you bothered to take care of yourself, ya?"
"I thought we were going to talk about this. If we aren't then I need to leave, because I actually have to work all year."
"No one asked for your opinion, sparrow!"
"Oh no you didn't, Phil. Come over here and I'll beat your buck teeth in."
Val reached over to grab Phil but he dodged to the side. He kept evading her grasp as she leaned further and further over the passed out Connor. "Can't even play a little 'Pop Goes The Weasel?' Come on, I'll stuff a pillow with you!" Val finally over reached and fell on top of Connor who woke up with a start and flung Val off. In unbalancing herself she was able to catch Phil but when she was pushed off Connor she lost her grip and he went flying. Len dropped his carrots and jumped in the air to catch him like a football. He fell back and knocked into Val who had managed to right herself with her wings and was now flying a couple feet off the ground. They fell into a large pile in the ground while Connor sat up on the couch rubbing his stomach where Val had fallen on him.
Solstice turned from the windows and walked past the pile of spirits on the floor as he headed into his den. The spirits on the floor shared a look before getting up and following him. Connor just groaned when he saw who he was with and where he was. "What the 'ell did ya get me into this time, ya bleeders?" His question went unanswered so he pulled himself off the couch and into Summer's den. He had a killer headache but what kind of Leprechaun would he be if he couldn't power through a little hangover.
"Okay Solstice, I get that you don't like Jack and I know I agreed to go help you, but that just got too far out of hand." Len had picked up the bag of carrots and was munching on them dutifully.
"I disagree completely. We should have been harder on the brat. He's nothing more than mischief."
"That's not fair Phil. Jack seemed like a pretty nice kid. He was a little rude but, I mean, how old is he right? He cannot be more than a hundred."
"Val, he is over three hundred years old. He' not as young as you think he is. Jack should be held accountable for his actions. He has had more than enough time to come to terms with his powers." Solstice placed his hand over one of the many pots that littered the house. A large plant grew out of the dirt and twirled up towards his hand. Huge light blue flowers bloomed and Solstice had a fleeting thought that they looked like Jack's eyes before he closed his fist in anger and the plant shriveled up before disintegrating.
The wolf was still crunching away through his carrots as Val went back to texting after shrugging at Jack's age. "Look, he is still the youngest out of all of us right? He's practically a child still and we-" He scowled and threw his carrots away with a growl. "It was wrong what we did."
"I repeat what the 'ell did ya get me into?" Connor yelled it this time but after listening on this half of the conversation he could guess it was nothing good.
"It's nothing Connor; go back to sleeping off the booze."
"Now see 'ere, Solstice, last thing I remember I was at my home 'aving a good time. Then I woke up 'ere. What did you do," it wasn't even a question anymore but rather a demand.
Solstice looked over without a care. He didn't mind what he had done. "We went and had a little talk with the Guardians about their newest member."
Len stepped in, "we went too far and the kid ran off. I think we need to apologize."
"Damn right you do!" Connor yelled ignoring Phil cursing in the background and Val rolling her eyes. "We are going back and you and you had better hope they forgive us or so help me-"
"It's going to take a lot more than a few apologies."
The other spirits startled at the sound of an Australian accent ringing through the room. They turned but were not quick enough. Bunny leapt over to Summer and grabbed the teen by the scruff of his shirt, lifting him into the air. North managed to grab Phil before he could scamper off and Tooth flew over to Val and took her phone before staring her down. Sandy snapped his fingers and pointed down. Len sat obediently and looked up with wide eyes.
"Now, where's Frostbite," Bunny asked Solstice. He glared at the other teen as he waited for an answer.
"I don't know where he went after his tantrum."
"Wrong answer." Bunny shook the kid a little before walking to where Len was sitting and dropping him on the floor. Tooth motioned for Val to join them and North knelt down and let Phil walk over. Connor walked over to the circle as silently as possible and sat down with his other cohorts.
"Jack has not been back to the Pole or any of our homes since you insulted him and his work."
"Don't you think you're, like, over reacting? He could totally just be sulking somewhere in the snow."
"Do you know anything about Jack Frost?"
"No, we never bothered to ask and he never bothered to tell."
"Did you even try? He said he didn't even know any of you."
"Save it. Jack Frost was left on his own for three hundred years after dying to save his sister from falling into a frozen lake. The Man in the Moon reincarnated him and left him on his own only telling him his name. He does not take rejection well."
Phil scoffed and looked ready to object but Solstice beat him to it. "We all have our tragedies. He needs to stop dwelling in the past and move on."
"You're right. We all have had our problems. I watched my clan be slaughtered. North had to keep going when his wife and daughter died but you know what's different about our situations? We had friends and people who believed in us to help us get through it. Jack has had no one."
The other spirits had the decency to look shamed at least. All but Phil and Solstice, who remained still glaring at the far wall instead of making eye contact with the Guardians. Val and Len started to mummer apologies but they were cut off by North. Connor just felt guilt knowing in his stomach. He might not have known what was going on but he should have made more of an effort to find out the plan before he let them into his home.
"Bunny is right. Then Man in Moon tells him he has to be Guardian. He didn't want to at first, believed he would be no good. We were able to break down wall and see real the Jack. Then after only a few months you show up and ruin everything."
"Like I said before guys, I am sorry."
"Sorry's not good enough anymore, Wolf. And regardless of whether you all are sorry or not you're going to help us now. We are going to go look for him and we are not coming back until we find him got it?"
The other spirits shared a look before glancing up at the angry Guardians above them and nodded.
Bunnymund nodded at North before tapping his foot twice on the floor of Solstice's house and opening a tunnel to the Warren. They bypass the rabbit's home and while Tooth, Sandy, and Bunny are able to keep ahead of the mess of flailing limbs that is the other spirits, North still isn't used to the tunnels and was caught up with them. Bunny opened a hole next to Jack's lake and jumped out while the others tumbled out behind him.
"Now we are going to split up and look for him around the lake, got it? He should be around here somewhere but you need to know that this is where he died. You do not mess with anything." North pulled his swords out and pointed them at the spirits gathered around the bank. They nodded and headed off into the woods surrounding the lake to search. If some of the spirits moved slower than others nothing was said.
Tooth, Sandy, and Val took to the skies in hopes of spotting him from above or maybe even running into him in the air. Connor took off south heading towards the thin trees overlooking the town while North escorted Solstice further west into the thicker part of the forest. Bunny, Len, and Phil all started off by sniffing at the air.
"Does this guy even have a scent?" Len asked confused when he couldn't pick anything up even with his wolf nose.
"Yeah, the kid smells like winter and fresh snow."
They looked around them and groaned. Phil growled, "how the hell can we track a brat that smells like winter through the snow?"
"We follow the smell of mischief."
"I'll skin you alive if you keep up that smart-ass talk."
"You don't even come up to my knees, pipsqueak. I'd like to see you try."
Len whistled lowly in appreciation. "Your kid's got more wrong with him than you know. I can smell the fear and self-loathing." He dropped down onto all fours and took off through the woods. Bunny and Phil broke apart their argument and quickly followed. Bunny managed a call to one of Tooth's fairies, who nodded before flying off to get the others.
"He wouldn't be self-loathing if you lot had stayed out of it."
"Let's not start this again, Bunny. I already said I was sorry." He quickly turned left and raced through the trees then jumped a large ditch. Bunny grabbed Phil before he jumped and as they landed the Wolf stood up and scented the air again. Len took off slipping in the slush to avoid a low-hanging tree branch. Then he darted right and loped down a small hill. They were getting further and further into the woods and it had already started to snow. The Wolf picked up the pace, not wanting the trail to be lost.
"How the hell can you even smell him, mate?"
"I'm the spirit of Halloween. I know how to find the right people to scare and the people that would take it the wrong way. Before Jack found it fun, now though, I can smell his fear and I can find him that way."
The spirits that could fly finally located them and followed Len as he tracked Jack. North and Solstice eventually joined them after Tooth sent her fairies to go get them. They were following the Wolf's keen nose when he suddenly stopped. "That's it. I lost the scent." The spirits looked around for Jack but couldn't see anything. The snow had picked up and was swirling around in a biting wind.
"He had to be close, I mean, look at this mess." Val was pushed to the ground and forced to walk in the high winds. Tooth's wings were better able to handle the speed so she stayed airborne while Sandy floated down to be close to the ground.
"So it's a mess now, is it?" Jack landed lightly in the snow a few feet away from the gathered spirits. He looked worse than when they had last seen him. His face was sullen and paler than usual and his hair had lost a healthy sheen. "Winter is my domain and I will do what I want with it!" He stabbed his staff at the ground and ice spikes erupted from the ground and headed for the spirits.
They scrambled out of the way and turned to look at the damage. "Mate, ya gotta calm down. They didn't mean anything by it. They know they made a mistak-" He wasn't allowed to finish before Jack pointed his staff and let a stream of frost fly at Bunny's head.
"I don't want to hear excuses. I should have known it was all a trick. You don't care about me, no one does. No one wants me. Even Pitch kicked me out."
"I told you he was dangerous, North. One little tantrum and he goes to the Boogeyman!"
"Shut up! You don't even know dangerous!" Jack rose into the air and lifted his hands. The snow on the ground swirled up towards him and with a wave of his staff he managed to form it to his will and condense it into a hard ice. A large bear made out of solid ice stood back on its hind legs and roared. The snowstorm around them intensified if possible. "Kids believe in me now. I'm more powerful than before."
"Jack we are not here to hurt you. We are trying to help. They want to apologize, they know what they did was wrong."
"Stop it! Just leave me alone!" He swung his staff and the frost formed into icicles before flying up at Tooth. "You don't know what it's like. To be hated, feared."
The bear took that as a sign to charge and he ran straight at the assembled spirits. Everyone was so caught up in the rampage that they all missed the black sheen that the bear had. Phil dug into the ground while Summer slammed his hands onto the dirt palms up. Thick roots shot out and entangled the bear, halting the assault. North ran forward with his swords to try and slash at the ice. Bunnymund threw his boomerangs with all his force and Len ran forward with foaming jaws. Val screamed and hid behind a tree. Connor rolled his eyes but joined her undercover. They weren't fighting spirits.
"No, you said I was death? That's all you're going to get," Jack yelled. The vines holding down his ice bear froze and shattered as the bear jerk away and started to lunge out at the closest spirit. Its claws ripped through the air and barely missed cutting threw Len. The Wolf jumped into the air and become a bat before dropping down on the bear's back as another bear. He was smaller but was able to punch a hole through the chest of the ice bear. It fell and everyone thought it was over until Jack giggled from his position a few feet off the ground. Here Sandy was able to catch a good look at the boy's eyes. The normal blue was rimmed with a swirling black.
Jack waved his staff and the bear mended itself and growled as it stood up. "Jack, mate you gotta calm down," Bunnymund pleaded as he leapt out of the way of a crushing paw. Phil popped out of the ground and bit into the ice. His teeth could cut through just about anything and the ice was no exception.
"Do you have any idea what it's like?"
"North we might not be able to beat him!"
"We are taking him home regardless of what you think, Solstice."
"That's it. I'm out. Nothing I can shift to can take that thing down."
"Being ignored? I tried so hard for so long to get your attention. Any attention, good or bad. It didn't matter to me as long as someone finally acknowledged I existed."
"Keep going Bunny. Make him tired. We need him to wear himself out." Bunny relayed the message to the other fighters who all agreed.
Jack kept up a constant stream of ice daggers flying towards Tooth and Sandy to keep them from the sky. The other spirits all now diverted attention from trying to attack the bear to trying to avoid the monstrosity and cause Jack to use more of his power.
Phil was the one who was directed to keep the bear occupied. It was easiest for him because he could tunnel quickly and attack suddenly. Jack on the other hand had to throw up ice shields and retaliate in kind to every attack. IT was slowly wearing him down and his attacks became weaker and weaker. Having to fight seven enemies at the same time was something Jack wasn't used to.
They finally wore him down to the point where he had to let the bear drop and focus on just defending himself. Sandy tried to hit him with his whips while North and Bunny used their weapons as clubs instead a means to really hurt. Phil dug tunnels and pitfalls to trip Jack up once he used up too much power to stay up in the air. Len slashed out with clawed paws causing Jack to have to erect an ice shield every time the Wolf got to close. Soon enough even that was a chore though and Sandy was able to get a shot in with a ball of dream sand. North walked over and picked up the unconscious boy. Bunny, Tooth, and Sandy gathered around to make sure he was okay and Val and Connor came out of hiding.
"There, you have your little terror back. Can we go now? I want to be long gone when he wakes back up." Phil was ignored however and the Guardians started to walk away.
"Look, this never would have happened if you hadn't shown up."
"We helped you find him. Can we all just go back to how it was before?"
The Guardians shared a look before hesitantly nodding. North bluntly said, "I don't want to see any of you near the Pole for a while. It will be up to Jack if he ever forgives you. We will not be helping." With that Bunnymund prepared to tap his paw for a tunnel.
Before the second tap though maniacal laughter rang out through the air. Darkness fell through the forest and Nightmare King formed form the shadows. "Taking back the little nuisance?"
The exhausted spirits got back into a fighting stance only to have Pitch raise his hands in submission. He tried to move closer only to find the way blocked when the Guardians moved in closer around North and Jack.
"Trust me when I say I don't want him. You should have seen the mess he left my lair in. It will take weeks to clean all that up. I'll just say what we are all thinking." Shadows shot out and tried to attack the Guardians in the shape of Nightmares. "Why don't you just put the brat down like the mongrel he is?"
Pitch continued to urge his Nightmares on in the fight and the Guardians were starting to become sluggish in their movements. The other spirits tried to contribute where they could but they were even weaker than the Guardians after the fight with Jack. The Nightmares were gaining ground and it wouldn't be long before they were overrun.
As it was the Guardians only had a split second to react when Connor yelled out, "now, go!" The Leprechaun threw a gold coin on the ground and a flash of blinding light engulfed the area. The Nightmares were blown away and Pitch was forced to take cover in the meager shadows cast by a cluster of trees. In the time it took for the flash to dissipate, Bunny had opened a tunnel. The Guardians slipped through the tunnels with the other spirits. They kept tumbling until they reached their destination, the Pole. The tunnel spit them out in the main room that overlooks the Globe.
"Thanks, Bunny. It was sure nice of you to bring us with you."
"Yeah. Thank you for helping us." Solstice's tone was a lot less grateful then Val's.
"I said get out. I don't want you in the Pole." The others flinched but nodded and moved to leave. Len and Connor shot a sorrowful glance at Jack.
"I really am sorry for the trouble."
North just bowed his head and went to move Jack to his room. They left and the Guardians followed the Guardian of Wonder as he carried Jack through the halls and to his room. He laid the boy down on the bed and proceeded to check for wounds. Bunny, however, caught his hand.
"Let me, mate," North relented knowing that Bunny would probably be better at this then he would be.
Paws lightly checked the boy over for broken bones or any bleeding while the others watched with rapt attention. After confirming that he was only exhausted from using too much power, Sandy took that as an invitation to speak. Or sign as the case may be.
He formed a snowflake, a Nightmare, his sand, and an angry face.
"You really think so?"
Sandy nodded his head before forming more images above his head.
"Can you fix it?" Tooth asked worriedly as she fluttered between Jack on the bed and the group of Guardians.
Sandy nodded his head with a happy smile on his face. He had been at this for thousands of years while Pitch had only just recently perfected the Nightmare sand technique. He floated over to Jack and dissipated the golden dolphins before letting some of the sand seeped into his closed eyes. They glowed gold before they could see the gold shine move through Jack's veins. It flowed throughout his whole body before disappearing completely.
Jack's eyes shot open and he looked around franticly. He was breathing heavily and tried to get out of the bed. Jack flailed and because he was so wrapped up in the sheets, fell out. North and Bunny flinched. Sandy floated back to the ground and watched as Tooth darted forward only to stop and look back and forth between the others and Jack. While the dilemma was going on Jack gained his bearings and stood up and looked around confused.
"How did I get here? Where did you come from? Where is my staff?" His questions were getting more and more hysterical the longer he had to wait for answers.
"Jack what is last thing you remember?" North questioned as he handed the boy back his staff. Jack hugged it to him like a safety blanket before he answered.
"I was in the forest, looking down at Pitch's lair."
"So you went to Pitch then? Why would you do that mate?"
Jack slumped his shoulders and let his staff hang from his grip. "I just wanted someone who could understand."
"Look, mate, I might not understand what it was like for such a long time, but I do know what it was like. And besides we are your friends. You know we will always be there for you, right?" Bunny seemed uncomfortable talking about his feelings like this but it was something that Jack apparently needed so he would push through it.
Jack looked away and stubbornly ignored the wetness in his eyes. "I-it's just been so long- so long since anyone could see me. I thought it might have been a joke. And after what they said about me…. I thought you'd side with them. After all, I have caused nothing but trouble."
"Jack the good thing about friends is that they can put up with both good and bad. Like Bunny said we are family now and we will always try and help you with whatever you need."
"Even after everything I've done? After everything I probably will do?"
"We might get angry, we might say hurtful things. We need you to open up a little though Jack. We understand that you need time to yourself. We all do. It's just, you can never get better if you spend all your time secluded away, but that will never mean we don't still love you Jack," Tooth said as she flew over to him. Jack tensed until he felt warm arms wrap around him. A hug. He was being hugged. The last touch he received was from Jamie after his first defeat of Pitch. Jack hesitantly returned the hug and Bunny, North and Sandy moved in closer. Sandy gave him a double thumbs up and North laid a hand on his shoulder.
"I'll try. For you guys I'll try to be better."