Coming Home

Rating: T

Summary: It's Jamie's first time home since he left for college, and Jack decides to surprise him with a visit. (Set before Growing Old)

(Author's note and explanation for rating at the bottom of the chapter)

Jack did a few flips in the freezing wind as he sped towards his hometown, Burgess. He had been at the North Pole all day, messing with the elves and visiting North. He stayed longer than he meant to though, and his last clock check had caused him to spit out his hot chocolate in alarm, rushing out with a muttered explanation that left North more confused than a lack of excuse would have.

Jack was very excited about Jamie finally coming home. Before Jamie left for college, he had been all work and no play, worrying about all sorts of college-y things that were not Jack's preferred snowballs and fun-time. But now that Jamie was on break, he figured they would have more time to do fun things that didn't involve work.

Jack approached Jamie's house, eyes searching for that familiar windowsill that had been the start of many adventures. He landed softly on ledge and gave the window a gentle push.

It didn't budge.

That was odd, Jack though, frowning. Jamie always left his window unlocked. But perhaps he had locked it while he was away, and had forgotten to unlock it in the excitement of getting home. Jack used the wind to hit the latch in a concentrated burst, unlocking the window with a soft click. He stepped inside, leaving the window wide open.

Footsteps thundered up the stairs as Jack hid himself in the corner, hoping to surprise Jamie. The door flew open with a bang as Jamie entered his room.

Through his teenage years, the boy had grown like a weed, giving him the appearance of an unfortunate child caught in a taffy puller incident. But near the end of high school, Jamie grew some muscle to back up his imposing height, blooming into a very handsome looking young man.

Jamie threw his bag down on his bed and started to unpack, never noticing Jack crouched in the corner. A pit of worry formed in Jack's stomach, an imposing sense of wrong making the air hard to breath.

"Jamie!" Jack leapt from the corner, a smile filled with trepidation on his face. "Welcome home!"

Jamie didn't react.

Jack's jaw dropped, his brain refusing to process what was happening. "J-Jamie?"

Jamie turned toward Jack suddenly, and for a moment the spirit felt hope. But it rushed out of him when Jamie's face dropped into a dark scowl, and his mouth opened to say something.

"Oh my God Mom, did you leave my window open? It's freaking freezing in here!" he yelled towards his door. He stomped over to the window in an uncharacteristic fit of anger and slammed it shut with a force that rattled Jack's soul.

"Dumb bitch," Jamie muttered, stomping back over to continue unpacking his suitcase.

Jack felt tears prick at his eyes. What had happened to his Jamie? The one who he had snowball fights with and led on perilous sledding adventures? He doesn't know this person, this adult who curses at his mother and stomps around as if he's angry at the world.

"Jamie... please. Don't do this." Jack stepped out of the corner, walking slowly towards the boy. "Please see me. Don't give up."

Jamie stopped unpacking for a minute, and reached into a pocket of his luggage, pulling out a small cardboard box from its depths. Jack didn't know what it was, but he had a feeling it was something bad.

Jamie confirmed his fears when he went to his bedroom door and locked it tight. He pulled a small paper stick from the box and reached for something in his pocket. He took out a lighter.

At the moment, Jack could care less about the little sticks. "Jamie, please. You can't stop believing. You were my first believer. Jamie-"

Jack gasped, a lonely aching pain filling him up to his core as, for the first time in years, Jamie walked right through him towards the open window.

Jack fell to the floor in shock, his eyes wide as he wrapped his arms around his knees. He buried his face as Jamie opened his window wide and took his first drag. The only sounds in the room were the soft exhalations of smoke and muffled sobs.

All during Jamie's winter break, a fierce blizzard rattled the windows on his house and knocked out power statewide. His windows frosted up with beautiful patterns of ice, so often that if he ever had the inclination to look outside, he would have to raise his window to do so.

"God I hate cold weather," he muttered to himself as the lights in his house flickered yet again, causing the computer he was typing an essay on to have to shut down and completely reboot. "I wish it was summer."

For a moment, he almost felt sad. But he didn't have the faintest idea why.

A/N: Oh my gosh! I love you guys so much. All the favorites and reviews really made me happy, so I wanted to post this as sort of an early Christmas present. I am going to continue writing one-shots and drabbles for the GrowingOld-verse. Right now I'm working on the idea Miss-Leth gave me in the reviews, but if you want to give me ideas for one-shots in this verse, you can PM me or leave your thoughts in a review. Thank you all again, and Merry Christmas!

Rating: T (Due to smoking and cursing)