Jack's brow wrinkled as the bowl was set in front of him; small wisps of steam floating in front of his face. It was quickly followed by a plate loaded with a mound of peas, mashed potatoes, a large buttered roll, and a cut of roast beef slathered with creamy gravy. Next, the yetis brought out a small dish of ice cream and a mug of ice cold water to complete the meal. Jack blinked at the feast set before him, watching quietly as the yetis continued to load the table with all kinds of foods for him and his new-found friends.
The four guardians saw fit to celebrate the addition of their newest member with a banquet, courtesy of North and his workers. Things had moved so quickly after the Man in the Moon chose Jack that they never had a chance to properly welcome him into the 'family'. And so, after they had defeated Pitch and ensured the safety of the world's children, the festivities began. North felt they all deserved at least one night of merriment and relaxation before returning to their respective duties. The yetis began cooking and the elves began setting tables. By the time the group reached the North Pole and cleaned up, the food was ready. North gave a quick toast.
Jack gazed on in amazement at the large variety of dishes on the round table, a smile beginning to form as he inspected what everyone had received. For Tooth, several glasses of nectar and other sweet liquids, in addition to an assortment of berries and fruits; of which her mini faeries all shared as they came on and off their shifts collecting teeth. Bunnymund was given a great dish of steamed carrots, along with more leafy greens and vegetables than Jack had ever seen on one table. In front of North was a hearty plate of different meats and mixed sides, with a small plate of cookies nearby. And finally Sandy, who helped himself to a large variety of seafood dishes.
The 4 elder guardians thanked the yetis for their meals and began to eat, chatting idly as they sampled their food. Jack's smile faded as his eyes fell down to look at his own plate. The smells were rather overwhelming to the young guardian, who began fidgeting in his seat. Jack momentarily entertained the thought of flinging his peas at the kangaroo, but decided against it. A fight -even if one out of good humor- was probably not the best way to begin a celebration. Running his tongue over his teeth, he looked over at his silverware, raising a gently-shaking hand to pick one up. Hesitating, he went for his mug of water instead, taking a couple sips before setting it back down. Fiddling some more, he rolled up his sleeves and picked at the table cloth.
Realizing their newest guardian had not begun eating, North swallowed his mouthful and turned to the young boy.
"Dig in, Jack, while food is still hot!" North chuckled, encouraging him to get started. The yetis looked on from their table, waiting for Jacks approval on their cooking.
Jack gulped; a vague memory of eating with his family pricking at the back of his mind. That had been so long ago… what was he taught about dining with others? Something about silverware, and elbows on tables…
"Is everything alright?" North asked, wondering why the boy still hadn't picked up his silverware. Certainly Jack must be hungry; the lot of them hadn't eaten all day. A thought crossed North's mind; he hadn't actually considered the temperature when suggesting what to cook for Jack. "It is… too hot for you, perhaps?"
Jack perked up immediately, slapping on a casual smirk and shaking his head. "Oh, no! No way. It all looks great, North."
Jack awkwardly grabbed a fork, holding it upside-down in his fist, and impaled his buttered roll; earning him an awkward look from North. Jack bit his lip, raised the roll up to his mouth, and took a small bite. He chewed slowly, smiling back at North, and finally swallowed. After a brief moment, Jack's eyes widened.
Now, being an immortal can have several 'advantages', depending on the needs of the person. Tooth, for instance, didn't need to sleep; she could go for a week on a 15 minute nap, making it possible to collect teeth 24/7. North never grew weak despite the years ticking by, Bunny's senses never dulled, and Sandy's skills remained ever-sharp. But Jack…
Jack didn't need to eat.
It's not that he couldn't; he had eaten before, even hot foods (but only in small amounts). It was just that the age in which Jack had been brought back was one of difficult times. Food was scarce. Famine and sickness ran rampant. This was especially true during the winter seasons, which Jack couldn't help but bring along with him.
Jack scavenged for food his first few years alone to ease his grumbling stomach. He tried hunting a few times, making good use of his new abilities to trap and catch small animals. Later he'd discover that when it came time to cook the food, he couldn't start a fire, what with him frosting over the branches. And on the rare occasion he came across an open flame, his mere presence usually doused the fire anyway. He wouldn't risk eating anything uncooked or under-cooked either. Though immortal, he still could get very sick, and be absolutely miserable for a few days.
He'd later try searching for berries and roots. Though it did help a bit, what he could gather was not enough to sustain him indefinitely. Not to mention the terrible times he'd pick a bad berry, or accidentally gather from a poisonous bush; now those were some awful stomach aches.
So then he relied on pilfering from markets and shops. Being invisible made it very easy to grab and go, and Jack stole for quite a few years to curb his hunger (though it certainly didn't help his naughty list standing). And although Jack enjoyed seeing the confused looks on shopkeeper's faces when their goods disappeared, he really didn't like the thievery. He knew it was wrong, and it did weigh on his conscious when he wasn't starving. It also was very unnerving, because people often walked right through him in the crowded markets, leaving him feeling empty and alone.
But during a particularly bad year, when there was almost nothing to eat across the entire continent, Jack couldn't find it in him to steal from the markets. Partially because there was next to nothing to lift, and partially because the more he took, the less there was for the children. After seeing so many starving youngsters, he refused to take anything that could potentially fill a kid's belly. He looked in the wilderness for food as before, but it was even barer than the marketplace. Finally, not having the strength to fly to another landmass, Jack went back to his lake and laid down. Exhausted and famished, his stomach gnawed away at him for a few more days, until he eventually passed out. When he awoke, he was shocked to discover he was no longer hungry. His stomach no longer growled. His appetite: nonexistent. In fact, the thought of food made him a tad nauseous.
And from that point on, Jack Frost did not eat. He chalked it up as one of the 'perks' of being immortal, and left it at that. Food was a luxury he no longer needed to worry about. Of course, that was a long, long time ago…
"Slow down there, mate. You're goin' at it like you haven't eaten in years!" Bunny jested, watching the frost child scarf down his roast beef.
Jack didn't even glance up, moving on to his next side dish. Tooth paused her one-sided conversation with Sandy to see what the commotion was about. A little gasp escaped her mouth when she saw Jack shoving a handful of peas into his mouth, silverware long forgotten. Her brow furrowed.
"Jack! Mind your table manners." Jack seemed oblivious to her comment as he scooped up another handful. He was nearly inhaling every bite. "And… and remember to really chew your food." She looked at Sandy worriedly. The small guardian pursed his lips, and formed a question mark above his head.
"Seriously, frostbite. Slow down. You're gonna make yourself sick." Bunny's comment was once again unheard.
The elder guardians glanced amongst each other. North gently placed his hand on the youngest's shoulder to grab his attention Jack jumped at the contact, nearly choking on his present bite of food. He swallowed and stopped his feasting frenzy, realizing everyone staring.
"Are you sure you're alright?" North questioned, concern etched into his features. Jack nodded vigorously, and reached for another roll. A gentle squeeze from North's hand interrupted him from taking another bite. "Maybe take moment to digest, Jack."
The newest guardian squirmed as he searched for the right words. "But… but food, North…!"
Santa didn't quite follow. "…Yes?"
Jack once again fumbled for words, trying desperately to get his friends to understand. "It's.. it's just… so good!" The yetis cheered in the background. Dropping the conversation, Jack returned to his plate. He picked up his roll, and took a huge bite. Sandy made a few figures above his head, and Tooth nodded in agreement.
"When was the last time you had a good meal, Jack?" She questioned, watching him carefully.
He gave her a confused look, before talking through a mouthful. "Coupfffle opff," Swallow. "Years."
Bunny nearly choked on his drink. "Years!?" He laughed nervously. "Nah mate, she means the last time you ate something."
"Uh, years." Jack took another bite and swallowed. "Think it was late 1700's." Bite. Chew. Swallow. "Don't really remember."
Bunny chuckled for a moment, but quickly stopped when he realized Jack wasn't kidding. "You seriously haven't eaten in two hundred years?!" The guardians looked at each other, wide eyed. No wonder the lad was so thin.
Tooth flew over near Jack "Uhm, Jack, sweetie, maybe you should stop eating for a bit. That's an awful lot of food…"
Bunny stood up slowly. "Frostbite, you're already on thirds, you should listen to Tooth."
Sandy motioned anxiously at the lad, who continued munching away unknowingly.
"Jack…" North got up and moved to the boy, softly grabbing his hands. "Please, stop." He pulled Jack's attention away from the table, holding his shifty gaze for a few moments.
Jack tried to steady his rapid breathing. His face twisted in confusion as he tangled with this odd feeling in his stomach. "But… but I'm so hungry… and I… I forgot… what hungry felt like…"
Jack's lip trembled as he began to recall days long past: stumbling through the woods, clutching his aching stomach, unable to focus on anything else. "…It's horrible."
North's heart sank at Jack's words. He, too, could recall going for days without food as a young child orphaned on the streets. The weakness, fatigue, and ever-present stomach pains were almost too much to bear. For the boy to go without food for 200-something years was absolutely unacceptable. The master toymaker silently vowed that Jack would never go hungry again.
Jack opened his mouth to continue, but quickly shut it again. His face got even paler than North thought was possible.
North did as he was asked, and Jack sprang to his feet and fled out the room. A few seconds later, some unpleasant retching noises were heard. The four guardians winced at the unmistakable sound of someone losing their lunch. Or in this case, dinner.
Jack staggered back into the room after a moment, wiping his mouth on his sleeve; hand on the wall for support. Tooth grabbed his staff, still leaning on the back of his chair, and flew it over to him. He took it gratefully, letting go of the wall. Jack wasn't sure what brought it on, but he was exhausted now. It was like his body finally realized just how long it had been denied food, and was demanding to conserve every bit of energy Jack had left. He could barely stand on his feet.
"Easy there, mate." Bunny coaxed, watching the boy lean heavily on his staff.
North put his hand on the lad's back to steady him. "Jack, why did you not say something?"
Jack shrugged, averting his gaze to the floor. "I… didn't think it would have been such a big deal; eating again. And after you guys put all this together, I couldn't just say no; I didn't want to be rude. I'm sor-"
"Jack Frost, don't you even think about apologizing." Tooth said, smiling softly. "There's absolutely nothing to be sorry for."
Sandy noticed the slouch in Jack's posture, and usually bright blue eyes drooping. The young guardian stifled a yawn. Motioning to his friends, he formed a small bed over his head with dreamsand, pointing out their friend's need for rest.
North nodded in agreement. "Good idea, Sandy. It has been a long day. We will continue celebration after a good night's sleep." North nodded to Sandy, who began working up a small ball of dreamsand.
"What? No!" Jack contested weakly. "The party's just started-"
"And it'll pick right up where it left off, Frostbite." Bunny smirked at the boy. "Now get some rest, alright?"
Before their newest guardian could get another word out, Sandy tossed the ball at Jack, which poofed into dust on contact. Falling into sleeps sweet embrace, he could just make out North sweeping him off his feet, and Tooth catching his staff.
Working quickly, the dreamsand prepared a familiar world for Jack; one straight out of his new-found memories. A scene of family and friends, warmth, and comfort… where hunger didn't exist…
Jack smiled in his sleep as North tucked him into bed; his family's last Thanksgiving dinner together playing in his head.