Look whose baaaaaack!
And I finally fulfilled my promises of updating this week! Next week I need to try for my other stories, for those of you who read them, and make everyone happy through the glorious power of actually working with deadlines!
Speaking of stories, I have a HUGE favor to ask of all my readers. Because, honestly, you guys are amazing, and I know that together we can do this.
Here's what's going on. Has anyone here seen the film Peabody and Sherman? Yes? No? What's that! Some of you have! Well that's pretty fantastic (if you haven't seen the movie, move on past that reference and don't look back). It has gotten some publicity on this site but, in my opinion, not enough. And, right now, I am currently at work writing a story for that fandom called "The History of Now"! And the best part is, it's your guys kinda story! Hurt/comfort/angst/SOMUCHFRIGGENFLUFF!
I want to make sure that this movie gets the recognition it deserves. Because, while it wasn't the best movie, it did come from a very good place and sent a lot of amazing life lessons. Plus... I'm a history geek, and found every single one of those jokes amazing and far funnier than they actually were. So... yeah.
My favor from me to you, is go read that story. Go read it and leave your reviews. Tell me what you think of it so when other people look in that fandom they can see the reviews and want to actually appreciate this movie. And no, I'm not saying this to get more reviews! I'm saying this because I recieved a "challenge" when someone on this site said that they wouldn't read that fandom beacause the trailers to the movie looked stupid. Well, person, we'll just see what you think after all this!
And, even if you don't review, give it a look, a like, and then check out all the other stories there! Give it some love! Make sure people know that it exists!
Ok. Back to the topic. This chapter is dedicated to every person who stuck with me over these 3 long, barren and cold months. Because you guys rock so much!
Seriously, I don't think you guys get the recognition you deserve!
So, I'm going to do what I should have done long ago.
Next chapter... is going to be... 3 seasons part 2.
YES. THAT IS CORRECT. You did read that right. I will be updating my chapter that is, right now, the most requested in all of the reviews I have recieved. I did not want to do it. I did not think I would even create a part two. But... you guys are just too amazing to say no to. So, next chapter will be just that. Part two.
We get to see Bunny kick some arse.
Now! Onto the chapter my lovely, lovely readers!
"There's nothing that makes you more insane than family. Or more happy. Or more exasperated. Or more . . . secure."
Jack was in no way prepared.
It wasn't as if one prepared for these things. But Jack, as a rule, liked to think that he at least knew what he was doing. It had been too many years, 300 to be precise, where knowing what was to occur wasn't an option. Life had been an empty circus, and he'd been walking on a tightrope stretched over another tightrope again and again. An endless balancing act with no danger, but, at the same time, no one to cheer him on, throw around words, or cut the rope enough to give him a challenge- catch him when he did eventually fall. And Jack had become almost tired of never falling.
But after so long, it would seem, that time was making up for everything. The tightropes had become too tight to even function, and had snapped long ago. And he was left with one single obstacle that he could never find his way off of. And even if there were people, they were so far down. And Jack was finding, with every step, that he was too afraid of heights to fall down to them.
Or perhaps, just perhaps, he didn't even want to try.
Trust, after all, was not a tightrope. It was cotton candy. Oh so sweet, and sticky and good to share. But, at the same time, one wrong move, one drop in the dirt. Because dirt sticks fast and stays forever, creeping into the inside so when you think there's no more you quickly find that there no such thing. You have to wait in line to receive another. If you're even given that chance.
And Jack wasn't ever ready.
But, standing outside of large doors, he began to wonder if it was time to try. Because, if things turned out as he believed they would, then soon they would be all he had tying him to family. No title, no special assignments. Simply the idea that he still belonged to something in order to not be alone. Because Jack couldn't be alone. Wouldn't be alone.
Even if he still had nightmare after nightmare of calling into deep caverns and only hearing himself, he knew that reality was something that could change. What had happened would forever affect him, and he may never truly trust enough to hand out sweet candy in front of tightropes, watching himself struggle not to fall from a place on the ground where he also held onto pieces of himself in pink sugary floss. But he couldn't change everything. And what he could….
…. he would try.
A paw landed on his shoulder, and Jack flinched.
"You ready, mate?"
The boy swallowed, focusing on the weight that pushed against his collarbone. The paw squeezed the bony part of his arm, sweatshirt forming small canyons. "No…" because he wasn't. He never would be. Another act of applied pressure.
"You'll be fine, righ'.
Jack smiled, but it was hardly real. He'd tried on thousands of masks before, and this wasn't unusual. Taken them down from pegs that existed only to be seen by a pair of cerulean eyes, tried each on individually, felt them begin to lace onto facial tissue, muscles, work their way around his skin until it bonded into one stable mess. It hurt, but he was used to it. The thing about masks, is that they're only used truly in three situations. Hallows eve, mardi gras or by people who sneak through houses, fingers sticky and flashlights beaming like targets. And yet, somehow, every single one of the masks had holes around the eyes in order to see. All masks are like that.
And Jack's was no different.
And yet, somehow, the only one who noticed true expressions through the gaps was the odd creature that stood, towering over the youngest, arms crossed. And Jack knew it.
His shoulders tightened, back going ridgid. "I'm going to be fine." He said, firmly, as if saying it could make it work. "I'm going to be fine."
"Yes," the rabbit agreed. But there was no force in the tone. "Ya'are."
The hall was quiet after that, except for the occasional clock making itself known through ticks and clicks, snipping away at time- a reminder that, unlike them, it was endless. It watched everything, and was completely and totally endless.
Ironic that the most powerful being was not the woman who sat on the other side of the door, but the meager wooden clock that happily waited out centuries against a wall.
"Jack?" The winter sprite jumped as North, looking more his age than ever, slowly came from the room, keeping the door partially shut. "J'you ready?"
Jack meant to say yes. Was going to say yes. His mouth opened to mutter the word, but there were tightropes in his throat, playing cats cradle until webs formed. He could feel the three letters there, stuck on individual chords. Another squeeze at his shoulder, affection that, he knew, was being kept subtle. The word still didn't want itself known. So, instead, Jack simple nodded. His fist clenched, and he wished that he had his staff.
"Good. D'ey are ready for j'you."
Another nod. A breath. His food slipped forward, making it seem as if his body was far more prepared to take brutal verbal beatings where his mind wasn't. And the more he realized that, the closer he got to the door, whiffs of cherry blossom and steely rivers permeating the air, the more he realized that no he was not ready.
He made a move, the beginnings of a fearful flight. Head moving to glance down the hall, knees bending, feel going light as if ready to skitter. North looked about ready to say something, which may or may not have been effective. He was a harsh man, need be, but had, at times, far too much sympathy to maintain constant berating. And he was far too slow to catch the boy if he ran.
He didn't have to do anything.
The base of Jack's neck was grabbed, forcing the spirit of winter to bow his head, a glaring Bunny leaning close to the side of his face. "Don't even think about it," the Pooka hissed, accent thick, before delivering the last warning nip of the day, more subdued than the other two had been -and by how much it hurt that was truly saying something- to the boy's now tender ear. Jack suppressed a yelp.
He supposed that in his own way Bunny had been kind in making it seem like the action had been merely a whisper. It saved him from the embarrassment of North's curious eyes, the man oblivious to what kind of chastening was being delivered to the youngest by a higher, more animalistic authority, who seemed to have no hesitation, unlike the Cossack, when it came to asserting dominance.
It did not in any way help, though, when he was practically thrown in front of the door and pushed closer. The mahogany portal slammed before he could turn around and protest, hitting his back and sending him reeling a few steps forward. He caught himself, harumphed, twitched his fingers against the hem of his sweatshirt to straighten out the wrinkles, and then looked up. Jack was a winter spirit, and so cold was generally his "thing". But at that moment he could have sworn that his face heated to unsafe temperatures.
The council sat in their same places. All eyes stared at him, void of amusement. Jack shifted and his hands clenched again, as if to grab at the wooden staff that he did not have. His mouth opened once more, trying to speak first. But nothing came out. He snapped his maw with a click and waited, fingers itching at his sides.
"Jack Frost…" Mother Nature did not stand, but she did tilt her chin. It was enough to send ebbs through her hair. Jack swore he saw fish swim up the column of her neck like under a mirror, but stayed just as quiet. "You know why you are here, do you know."
He swallowed. Swallowed again. "Yes…" and then, "Ma'am."
"Good," her lilt swirled around the room. "So you are prepared to face your fate, whatever it may be?"
There was no response to that, and her mouth, though steady, seemed to form the smallest of smirks. "Nevertheless, we have congregated here for one reason. Which you are aware of."
"I…" a breath, "I don't… I don't really…"
"It's cause you're a brat, that's why." Father Time leaned back, spectacles sliding up the bridge of his nose. "And you're a disruption to the peace."
"Father Time is being blunt," Rhea looked Jack down like he was a piece of meat behind dirty glass. "But that is correct. You, child, have caused too much trouble. And we cannot constantly allow others to act as your clean up crew. Of course, if there had been different circumstances we would reconsider our options."
"But of course, you've made that far too difficult for us." Pilumnus crossed his broad arms. "As you have been doing for years. We did already talk about every one of your pastimes last we spoke. Very unguardian like things to do, don't you agree?"
"I do indeed," Rhea nodded. "As well as being part of a team without permission from a higher order, you've also allowed these circumstances to engulf you in what I believe to be an unescapably deep hole."
But Jack wasn't listening. Because two words had reached his ears- ones briddled with hope and unfairness in equal doses. "What different circumstances!" Jack finally found his voice, and it was not one he was used to. Far too desperate for his liking in front of such powerful persons.
"So he does speak!" Father Time rolled his eyes heavenward, arms raising like sarcastic wings. "Praise Manny." Jack blushed.
Mother Earth ignored the man though, from what Jack saw, she was accustomed to doing that. The old man was the only one out of the others who didn't fear the woman, and the woman was the only one out of the others who didn't completely despise the man. "The other conditions, Jack Frost," she stated, voice reaching him like rosewater, "would be your involvement with the Guardians." She breathed for what Jack thought to be the first time, and the room suddenly became colder than even he cared to make it. Frost began to ridge out from under his toes. "You see, not only are you part of this group illegally, as it is, but you also have gotten too close for… our comfort."
"I don't understand, Ma'am." He didn't. At all.
"And that is why we're considering what we are," the younger man said, leaning back. "Because you don't know your place."
"I don't…" he couldn't say that again. Jack swallowed. "I didn't know I had a place… sir…"
"Everybody has a place, Jack Frost." Mother Nature's head flicked, and her hair churned. "I am here to keep balance. It is my job. My duty. And when someone disrupts that duty-"
"But I didn't mean t-" Her glare was fierce. The ice under his feet began to prick into the calloused skin that stood on top of it and he shifted, avoiding the painful jabs that were his doing. "Sorry… Ma'am."
She glared for another moment, then continued. "Jack Frost. You have disrupted a balance by creating something that was never meant to be created." The others bobbed their heads, approving. All except Father Time, who checked his watch and sighed. The Woman didn't even spare him a glance, simply continuing. "Guardian's, as a rule, are meant to be distant. Each job relies on the other, but can be fully functional at the same time if necessary. And you, Jack Frost, have broken that thin line."
"Broken… broken what… Ma'am." He was more confused than ever. Because wasn't he supposed to be in here for misbehaving? And now this was something completely different. "Because I promise that I am working really hard!"
"Between all yer little stunts," the Time Man mumbled loudly. Well… at least he was back on topic.
The Woman was quiet again, her fingernails tapping on the desk, each one reverberating with the sound of a chirping bird. Outside, the wind was picking up. The window didn't rattle though, too scared to even disturb the stillness that she had seemingly created.
"Let me ask you a question," a light smile, a twinkle of her eye that was not without its cruelty. "If something were to happen to one of the Guardian's… what would you do?"
And Jack, at that, had to truly try to stay neutral. He didn't answer, didn't speak. But his eyes blinked more, and his tongue darted out to brush against dry lips. Her own lips pulled up further. "Ah. You see? You've established a connection that runs deep. But… how deep, is what I am here to conclude." Another pause. "One last question on the topic, just so I understand what I am to be dealing with. Let us say you were facing a challenge of the highest magnitude. And let us say that, somehow, there was a threat directed straight towards your dear friend." A foreign word rolled off of her tongue. Some sort of ancient language that Jack could not even comprehend, but felt himself growing lightheaded just by the lovely pronunciation. A language too beautiful to be heard.
"Wh-who?" He regained his footing. "Who is… that." Because he wouldn't attempt to even replicate that sound.
She bowed her head for a moment. "Forgive me, young Jack Frost. I forget that you are not accustomed to the languages of old. You must know him by Aster. Or, as you call him far too often," and for the first time since Jack had seen her, the Woman wrinkled her pretty face in distaste, forming wrinkles where he imagined none would dare appear, "Bunny." An adjustment of her features. "Imagine that, Jack Frost. If your good friend Bunny were to die-"
That had been the response that she was waiting for, and she smirked a lovely smirk. Jack clapped his jaws shut, not quite sure of what he had just done.
"So you see, Jack Frost. This is what you have done. You have created dangerous bonds that have not been made for years, nor were they ever meant to be forged. Survival of this species depends on whether or not you can live without the other. If there were a choice between pushing your… Bunny out of harms way or simply watching-"
"I'd always save Bunny." This time, Jack had no qualms about interrupting. "That's what we do. We save each other."
"And that is precisely what we cannot have. I would expect, as a Guardian, that you would take the responsibility of doing nothing. And I would expect him, if the situation ever arose, to take death with the highest of dignities. I think, Jack, that you forget Aster was trained that way. You understand that, do you not. That your… Bunny… was trained to let his comrades die. And that also includes you."
"I'm afraid so."
"He would. He would."
"Are you so certain? Enough to stake everything on a guess that a person of past training would give up everything simply to save you?"
Jack's ear pulsed, and his fists clenched and released at a similar pattern. "I don't care." Because he didn't. "You can… you can fire me. Do anything. But I'd still save him."
"You'd still be weak, you mean."
"If that's what you think it mean, Ma'am," and he raised his chin, sharp end cutting the air. "then yea. I'd be weak."
"You seem to be forgetting, Jack Frost, that although you feel as if you could not survive without them, they could survive without you."
He swallowed. "I know."
"It means," Rhea began tapping a beat with the toe of her shoe, "that we'd have no problems if it came to sending you out again. We know you were alone, and they didn't need you then-" Panic began to rise in his chest. His heart pounded against his ribs, begging to be let out. "As Mother already said, we are a people who survive alone."
Pilumnus nodded. "And don't forget- we do it well. People come into this world alone, and they go out of it alone."
"Time eventually wins every battle," the first thing not said in a grumble from Time, who was looking off into the distance to someplace no one could see. "And time ticks alone. So do people. You'll be alone eventually, Jack Frost. Depends on how quickly we make that deadline come."
"And," Mother Nature added, gleaming daggers in her eyes, "aren't you just so tired of being alone?"
Jack said nothing. But he didn't have to. She recognized the signs, and smiled once more. The smell of daisies that had chosen to swirl round the room turned into one of foxgloves- poison.
"Today, Jack Frost, we decide your fate. And you are here to plead it to us. A case, if you will. Give us enough of one, and we'll reconsider. Fail, and you'll find yourself in for a long time in solitude once more." She leaned back, an invitation to begin.
The rooms silence was wrapping around Jack's neck like a noose. He choked on it briefly. His fists no longer moved, but his entire body trembled. The ice under his feet had finally cut through pale skin, and more was beginning to weed its way up the back of his neck towards the line of his hair.
"I…. I…" A deep breath. And then, finally, he closed his eyes and said the only thing he could think of. It was the right thing to say, he knew. And it had to be said. If this was his fate, then he would go out making everyone proud.
Making Bunny proud.
Guardian's just a fancy title, the Rabbit had told him. I'm proud'a you fer gettin' it. But if ya didn' have it, I'd be jes' as proud'a ya.
So Jack took a breath, steeled as much courage as he had, and said, "Okay." It wasn't as dramatic as he had hoped. In fact, he sounded quiet, defeated. But proud. At least, for the most part, he sounded sure of himself. He hadn't sounded that way in quite some time.
"Okay?" Mother Nature raised a brow. "You mean to tell us-"
"I mean that if you want to get rid of me, then do it." No pause, just a breath, chest rising and falling with precision. "You're right. I screwed up. I did some bad things and played some tricks. And… and I never meant to mess up this whole survival system that you have going on. I really didn't."
"But you did," the grouch of a man spewed.
"I know. And… and I'm not sorry for it!" The same old man didn't lose any of the lines on his face, but for the first time his slouch evaporated, facial expressions changing from grump into… surprise. "These people, they're my family. And I know you said it isn't supposed to be that way, but now it is. And you can't change it. Not even if you sent me away for a really long time. Even if they… they…" a shake of his head. "Family doesn't forget about you. Because even if they hate you at the worst of times, they're still there for the worst of times. That's what matters. So… no. I love my title. I do. But…" another breath. "But I love them more."
The room had never been that silent. And the temperature had never been that low.
"Is that your final answer, Jack Frost." The Woman didn't look at all fazed, the passionate words reaching her like fists to a solid wall. "Are you sure that is how you would like your final words with us to stand?"
He nodded. "I'm sure." And he was. Maybe, just maybe, there was the tiniest portion of his mind that wasn't. But the rest of him stayed sure of everything. Because he had meant it. And he'd mean it until the end of time.
"Alright then." She turned to the others. They nodded at her, exchanging millions of words in just a few looks. "We have come to a verdict." Jack swallowed. The woman didn't move, but she did speak. "Bring in Aster."
Jack wasn't quite sure what to think when Bunny was sent into the room. He had assumed that the entire case would be of the open and shut variety with no outside contact from anyone. But there stood Aster, just a few feet away from him, standing as a soldier would have. His back straight, hands behind him locked in a hold, head upright and ready, feet sturdy in place. Jack almost tried to mimic him, feeling underwhelmed, but didn't. He wasn't meant for that kind of pose, anyway. Aster was built to look regal. Jack was built to look awkward. So he shuffled around a bit to at least make up for the loss.
"Aster Bunnymund," the Woman sat straighter. "Exactly one and a half days ago you came to us with a threat. Is that correct."
"Yes, Mother, it is." Even his voice sounded ready for war.
"That if we were to release Jack from his place here, you would resign your position to another less fitting. Is that correct?"
"Yes, Mother, it is."
"And you are prepared now to bear that consequence when it comes to you?"
And Jack finally understood what was going on. "Bunny! You can't! I told you they need-" But he was given a look of such severity from the rabbit that he had to cower, fighting the urge to apologize and be delved a punishment right then and there.
"I am prepared, Mother." The rabbit answered.
"Good." Mother Nature thought for a moment. Or perhaps she stumbled on her words too gracefully to tell, lips pursing in thought, allowing the smell of lily's and fresh breezes to tickle everyone's noses. "You've broken the law as well, you know. We had an agreement from the beginning. To stay true to the ideal of survival. Every person for him or herself. You've broken it, you know."
"With all due respect, Mother, things change."
"And so do people."
"Yea," he agreed, nodding, ears bobbing lightly, "So do people."
"You used to hate him, if I remember correctly."
"S'right, I did."
She hummed, as did the others. Except for Father Time, who snorted. "I'd still hate the bugger." Came his reaction. Bunny smirked.
"To tell ya the honest truth, Father, sometimes I still do." Jack's face heated up, but he couldn't help the smile from spreading ever so subtly. When Mother Nature cast him a glance he wiped it off his face, standing straighter. "And I am prepared to go down with him, Council."
Mother Nature didn't shift. She did lean forward, and her chair made no noise as she did, silent in fear. "Would you save him? The boy says that he would save you, but we have no word from you on the matter. And, as I told him before, you were trained to let him die. So… are you still the warrior that we know? Or would you be willing to risk everything for a small boy who is nothing more than a new bird in spring?"
Said boy chewed his lip, heart now a jack hammer against his lungs, which seemed to be unable to grab any air.
Another long pause. Rhea sighed heavily and Pilumnus sat back. Mother Nature nodded towards the two in the middle of the room. All looked stolid, silent. Except for father time, who checked his watch again and groaned. Jack still waited to be allowed to breathe.
"I would, Mother." And the room seemed to grow smaller. "An' I wouldn' hesitate, either."
She nodded. "You have broken a law, Aster," Mother Nature intoned, "and as is the way of the universe, once a rule is broken, another law must be created." She eyed the two of them with curiosity, as if not understanding. But wanting to. So badly, wanting to know how to do… whatever it was they had done. Learn over again and find out just what had created it. More complicated than the stars which she had memorized, universes that she had smirked at. This was her greatest challenge.
"Aster Bunnymund, this boy is practically a menace. A disruption to our way of life. And the creator of something that was never supposed to be. You know that, correct." Jack's fists trembled. But Bunnymund merely nodded once again.
"Believe you me, Mother, I know it better than most."
"Yes, we realize. And you know that he is a large… responsibility. Do you not?"
"Again, Mother, I know better'n most'a the blokes round here."
"Yes, I take it you would. And that is why we have decided to keep Jack Frost, as well as you, on as Guardian's. If you feel compelled enough to watch over him, that is. We recognize that he can be wild at the worst of times, but we hope that it will help to have someone as… dedicated as you helping."
And Jack, already relieved Jack, trying to grasp how happy he was Jack, could have broken down laughing when the Pookah beside him said;
"Mother, at the worst'a times e's somethin' a whole lot worse. Best'a times e's a nasty bugger."
And for the first time that day, Time nodded and verbally agreed. "Least we got something in common, Rodent. Kid needs a good talkin' to."
"Already done, Father."
"Right then, carry on."
And as soon as both were out the door, dismissed by a still stoic council, Bunny found himself subject to an embrace. "See, mate! Told'ya this'd work out." There was a mumbled reply through his fur. Aster chuckled and fondly shuffled a paw through white hair. "I'm proud of ya', Frosty. Real proud." And Jack didn't speak. But he did glance upwards with a watery smile.
It was in the middle of celebrating the achievement that Jack remembered why the side of his face hurt. In fact, if someone hadn't mentioned it, he may have not remembered until much later. But someone did mention it, and that someone swooped down to flutter by him, staring in concern.
"Sweet Tooth, why is your ear all red?" The fairy fussed, going to touch it with the tips of her fingers.
The ear pulsed wickedly, and Jack clapped a hand over it. "Um… I don't know…?"
"It looks like it got hurt! Here, let me see!"
"No, Tooth, I'm fine. Really." The last thing he needed was for the woman to see the sharp indents made by teeth that still resided there, even if no skin had been broken. "I'll be okay. It just…. something must have happened. Maybe I scratched it."
"It looks like more than a scratch, Sweet Tooth. Here, just let me-"
Jack ducked away quickly.
"Um... it's... um.." Explanation, explanation, someone give me an explana-
Hope arrived in the form of a large rabbit carrying a large glass of eggnog. "I'm sure it's just a reaction ta' somethin'. Wouldn't ya say so, Frostbite?"
"Your ear." He jutted his nose at the offending piece of body. "Looks like it might jus' be a reaction ta' something. So, Tooth, there ain't no need ta worry."
Jack caught on quickly. "Yes! Yeah. You don't have to worry at all. I'm fine. Perfectly fine. Never been more fine-er."
"I don't know," she tilted her head. "I'd still like to take a look at it."
Jack was about to protest again, when once again his furry Savior stepped in. "Tell ya what, Toothy. I'll take care'a the Vegemite. I'll just slap a poultice on it, it'll be good as new."
She bit her lip, chewed for a minute. "Are you sure?"
"Positive. We're going to find out what's wrong. Aren't we, Jack?"
"Wha- oh! Yeah! We're going to find out what happened to it. That's what we're going to do. Just that. Just find out." His shoulder was grabbed, and he was veered away.
"Jack! Where are j'you going!? J'you must stay!" Sandy, beside the man, nodded. Though one glance at the boys ear and the Golden Man looked ready to break down into hysterics of silent laughter. Of course, Jack should have known that Sandy would have figured it out in a heartbeat.
"He'll be back, not to worry, North." The rabbit spoke for him as the two neared the door. "Jus' gonna help out the tyke a moment. Be back inn'a tick."
The remaining watched them leave. Except Sandy, who was now holding his sides, lying on the table, refusing to tell anyone else why.
"I'll probably get an infection and die," Jack rubbed his ear. "Stupid rabbit."
"Ya won't get an infection, Frostbite. I didn' even break the skin."
"Oh, that's a relief."
"I knew what I was doin'." The Rabbit shrugged. "So calm down and stop bein' such a drama queen."
"I am not being a drama queen!"
"Sure y'aren't." He smoothed another layer of the green gloop on the boys ear. "An' stop touchin' it! You'll only make it worse!"
Jack mumbled something about stupid rabbits and breaking child laws. The Rabbit rolled his eyes.
"Look, mate, I'm sorry bout that. But honestly, whad'ya want me ta' do, huh? You were bout'ta make a right big mistake. And sometimes I swear, ya' lit'rally need sense knocked inta that thick skull."
"But you didn't knock sense in, you bit it in." Jack huffed.
"Is not!" A sigh. Though, really, whatever the Rabbit had put onto the skin was doing it's work, and the pain was going down. There was a sound to his left and he watched as the tall creature put back bottles, cleaned out bowls used for mixing. "How did you learn to do all of that?"
"All'a what, Frostbite?"
"All of this medical stuff."
"It's part'a my culture." He closed the cabinets, turned back, adjusted his bandoleer. "These things stick after a while. Ya' keep rules and ways'a life with you."
"Oh." A beat. "But not the rule that they talked about. Not… not that you have to watch people… die."
Bunny thought a moment, then shook his head. "I never liked that rule. But we have to do things that we're told here. All that mattered was children. All that matters is children."
"Yeh. I know ya do. But… after a while ya have to begin to consider that sometimes other things come first."
Bunny opened his mouth, but shut it just as quickly. "There ain't no real way ta' describe it, Frostbite."
"Oh… okay…" He shifted back, hands folding against the sides of the table where he sat. "But you said to them… you said that you would have saved me."
"An' I meant it."
"I know you know." Another long pause. The wind outside had finally calmed as Jack and Bunny leaned back in their places, smiled softly at nowhere in particular.
"What?" Jack looked up.
"That's what I meant to say. That's what's more 'portant. Family."
"Are we family….?"
"I'd like ta' think it."
A smile, wider than one Bunny had seen in days, found itself on Jack's face. "I would to."
"Well good. Now… le's get back before North sends out the dogs after us."
Jack rubbed his ear one more time, nodded, and the two went out to find more eggnog. Outside the Window, blending in with the weather, Mother Nature stared.
"What do you think it's like, Father?" She didn't look away, but the man who sat on the gutter knew who she addressed. "To have a tie that strong."
"Dunno. We ain't allowed to have it, that's all I know."
"They weren't either."
"Yeh, well, like the big rodent said, things change."
Mother sighed softly, snow swirling from between her lips. "Sometimes I wish…" She stopped, touched the window with the tips of her fingers. "What do you think it's like, Father?" she asked again. "What do you think it's like."
Father Time looked up from his watch, observed a flake as it fell down towards him, landing against one of the strands of her hair. He looked up again, scrunched his eyes and stared towards the grey clouds above. The wind tickled his hair, sifted his beard, spoke to him about things only it could understand, but hoped that he would too. And, in some ways, he did.
"I think, Mother," he responded, without a hint of sarcasm, his voice years younger than it had ever been, "I think it feels… like falling."
She smiled sadly. "I'd like to fall. It would be a new experience. But you never know…"
"That's the point. The poor boy doesn't know if he'll ever be caught." Father Time clicked his watch closed. "It's a risk."
"Yes. It is." She floated away, smoothed her dress. "We never take those."
"But he's taking one."
"He is." Father Time hopped off the gutter, standing on thin air. "Don't know how much of a risk it is, though. Bugger'll always have that big rodent to catch him."
"Perhaps." She sighed. Backed away further. "I wish that we had that."
"Maybe one day you will."
"No. I won't. I am built to follow the rules of the universe. And that means to be alone. I cannot hold others to that standard. My fate is my own, I am to bear it." Father Time nodded.
"Well, you've still got me. We can always bear it together."
The Woman smiled, but said nothing. And the two disappeared into flurries that took them back to places where alone was simply a way of life. While inside the Pole, Jack, smiling more than ever, was falling off tightropes. But this time, he waited for the net to catch him.
That's all folks! Hope you liked it! Please leave a suggestion, a review and a large ramble about how much you just can't wait for this next chapter to come out.
And please please please go and review my other story. "The History of Now". I swear, you'll like it! And if you don't, please PM me a heated message about broken promises and fallen trust.
Have an amazing week, you guys. And for those who read other things, look out for updates coming your way!