"Hey, what's that? Where's the rest of the memory?" Bunny asked, looking frantic and irritated. "Where's the part where he finds Jamie, where his staff get's fixed, where everything gets better?"
"I was afraid this might happen," Tooth said, placing the snowflake back onto Jack's pedestal. "This is Jack's memory; it shows what Jack sees. When Jack watches his childhood memories, the memory becomes unstable. It can't show a memory inside of a memory, it doesn't work like that. There's probably another snowflake on here that shows what happen after that..."
All of the Guardians were riddled with guilt. They wanted to see the rest of the memory, but Tooth was having second thoughts about snooping through the memories of others. Just when she found the snowflake with the right memory, they were interrupted by Sandy. Sandy was creating sand pictures of a snowflake, Jack, and a clock. Sandy was also looking upset and angry, and refused to meet any of his friend's eyes.
"You're right Sandy, we should be getting back," North said heavily, sighing. "I want to be there when Jack wakes up. We should probably talk to him about this."
Nobody was sure what North meant when he said 'this,' and they certainly didn't know how to bring up Jack's memories, but they didn't want Jack to be alone either. They all needed to see that their friend was happy and alright, at least for now.
North threw down a globe and everyone filed through the portal silently.
What the Guardians found when they entered the main room of North's Workshop was not at all what they expected. The room was covered in ice, the floor and rails slippery. Several elves were frozen to their floor and were chattering excitedly as Phil the Yeti lumbered across the room, yelling something in Yetish. They heard laughter as Jack glided across the ice on one of the rails, just out of Phil's reach. Jack and Phil both froze when the Guardians walked through the portal, Phil looking irritated and Jack looking abashed.
"Oh, uh, hey guys," Jack began, hopping down off the railing. "What's going on? I thought you were all out, I didn't... Uh, this really isn't as bad as it looks like, I can get rid of all this ice, it's just-"
"Jack," North interrupted, "it's fine."
"Oh," Jack said, surprised. "Okay, then is something wrong? What's going on, why is everyone here?"
The Guardians hesitated, not sure where to start. Bunny looked away from Jack, opting to glare at the ice on the ground. North shifted uncomfortably, while the sand around Sandy floated anxiously. Finally, Tooth spoke up.
"Nothing's wrong, it's just..." she paused, looking for words. "We just... wanted to visit, is all," she finished lamely.
"Oh." Jack looked surprised again, but pleased. "You don't have any teeth to collect or anything?"
Tooth smiled, saying, "I've been working on spreading out the work load. My baby teeth know their parts of the schedule, I can trust them alone for a little while."
"Well great!" Jack said enthusiastically. "Because I just made an ice rink, and I was wondering if any of you wanted to go skating." Jack glanced at North nervously. "Oh, yeah, and North? I might have frozen one of your rooms. But it's okay! I checked and there wasn't anything important in there, it was empty."
North smiled slightly in amusement. "It is okay, Jack. Where is this room? Let us go ice skating."
Jack beamed, his whole face lighting up with unmitigated joy. He had never had to learn how to hide his emotions from others; his face was as expressive as a child, his happiness as clear and pure.
Trust is fragile. The Guardians now knew this. It would take a long time for them to earn Jack's trust completely. But luckily, they had an eternity to try.
This is the end of the story. The first story I post in over a year, and it's this. I hate writing action. And by action, I really mean anything with dialogue. I want to go back to abstract reflections on the relationships between characters. Actually, I probably will. This is probably the closest I will ever get to action, and the closest I will ever get to a happy ending. Or maybe I won't write any more. Writing is difficult. But there's so much unexplored angst potential with Jack! I couldn't resist! And so I end up with this. Whoops.
I just feel like the Guardians' relationships with Jack were never really developed all that well. Like, the only reason Jack initially joined them was to get his memories. I just thought it would take more than Jack becoming a Guardian for them to form lasting relationships.