Nobody spoke, nobody moved. They were all stunned at what had just happened. Jack Frost sat in the snow staring back with a bewildered look on his face. They couldn't believe their eyes, what was going on? Tooth was the first to break out of the trance.
Jack turned his gaze to her and tilted his head to the side, confusion overcoming his features.
Tooth looked like she was about to cry. North and Bunnymund stood in shock. Sandy took a step forward, creating sand-images above him. Little Jack stared in amazement. One image in particular caught his attention, a dolphin, Jack's favourite animal.
"Oh! You, you're the Sandman, are you?"
Sandy nodded. Little Jack rushed to get to his feet, tripping over his full sized staff which lay dejectedly on the ground.
"You're Sandman! Mama use to tell me all bout you!" A look of pure delight covered Jack's face. Sandy sent his sand-dolphin swimming around Jack, sending the little boy into giggles as he spun in circles trying to follow it. Sandy dissipated the dolphin once Jack was looking at the Guardians once more. He gestured towards the others. Jack simply stared at the others for a long moment. His young mind trying to piece together names to the beings before him.
"If you're Sandman, then…" Jack pointed at Tooth. "Then you must be Tooth Fairy!" Tooth smiled lovingly down at him. "And you…" Little Jack pointed to Bunnymund. "Must be Easter Bunny! I love you so much, Mama take me to collect eggs every year. It's so much fun!" Jack giggled with glee as he looked at the Pooka. Bunnymund smiled down on the small boy, not quite sure how to react to the compliment.
"You…" Jack trailed off as his gaze rested on North. The giant man beamed down at the small child, certain that recognition would come in a moment. Jack stared up at the huge man and actually looked rather frightened.
"Who are you?"
"I am Nicholas St North, also known as Santa Clause or St. Nick." The large man proclaimed loudly, making Jack scramble backwards in fear.
"Santa?" North smile widened. "No, you aren't Santa." The smile dropped instantly. Everyone was confused; Jack had identified everyone else, but was getting stuck on the most well-known on them all.
"Jack… It is me…"
"No! Santa doesn't have big scary swords!" Realizing that his swords were still drawn North hastily put them away.
"But I am Santa…"
"No!" Jack began to shake slightly. His body movements might portray fear, but his eyes held a glint of defiance.
"Jack, Sweetie. This is Santa, the real Santa. You believe us don't you?"
"But he has swords…"
"That he was using to keep you safe, from the Boogieman." Jack turned to look at North again, still unsure if this was really the beloved childhood figure.
"Santa?" North took a step forward, a big mistake. Jack stumbled backwards again as he tried to retreat. He found sanctuary behind Tooth. Any hope in North's face dropped at the action. It was clear that Jack was having a hard time believing that he was famous Guardian of Wonder and bringer of Christmas.
"Come on Sweetie, he's really just a big softy. He wouldn't hurt you." Tooth tried to pull Jack closer to North, but Jack was having none of it. He ran once more and clung to Bunnymund's leg since he was the person furthest from North. North sighed, trust was something that would have to be built over time.
"How old do you think he is?" Bunnymund asked, gently shaking his leg to see how strong Jack's grip was. It was strong.
"Five," Tooth stated instantly. Sandy made a '6' form above his head.
"I don't know Sandy... He doesn't quite look six. I agree with Tooth," Bunnymund said, observing the small child with interest.
"Sandy? Tooth?" Jack looked up questioningly at Bunnymund for an answer. It took a second for the Easter Bunny to figure out what Jack was asking.
"Oh, that's what we call the Sandman, Sandy. It's like a nickname; each of us has a different one. The Tooth Fairy is Tooth. Santa is North and I'm either Bunnymund or Bunny." Jack glanced at each Guardian as they were mentioned repeating the names under his breath. He looked up at the Easter Bunny again.
"Yep, that's me."
"Bunnymund!" Jack cried happily and clung tighter to the rabbits' leg.
The others stood back and watched as this display continued, smiling when they were mentioned. Tooth turned to North.
"Bunny seems to be dealing with Jack very well, doesn't he?"
"Well, out of all of us I think he is the one with the most experience at dealing with young children, he is the only one who works around children while they're awake after all. But what concerns me is that Jack seems to have no memory of us. It is like his mind has been wiped clear."
"Maybe his memories will come back when we change him back?" Tooth looked increasingly worried at the prospect of Jack living without his memories.
"That is what worries me most; I do not know how to change him back. I will have to look through my books to find the answer, or ask MiM. But right now our priority is to get Jack back to the Pole, we don't know if he can cope with the cold in this form." North stepped forward to address the others.
"Guardians! We must get back to the Pole immediately. We don't know if Jack has retained any of his powers so we must assume that he hasn't. Getting him out of the cold is now our main priority."
"One question, how do we get him back? Presuming he can't fly, he's probably too heavy for Tooth and he won't go near you, North." Bunnymund looked at Sandy, who nodded. "Squirt, you wanna fly with Sandy?"
Jack looked at Sandy then shook his head. "Wanna go with you."
Bunnymund looked sceptically at Jack. "My tunnels aren't the safest place for a kid like you, plus I'm not sure I can carry you, you're a bit big for that…"
"No! Wanna go with you!" Jack buried his face in Bunnymund's leg.
"Okay, okay! Let's see how heavy you are first." Bunny gave the Guardians a pleading look but none of them tried to intervene. Glaring at them Bunnymund reached down and unhooked Jack from his leg and lifted him into the air with surprising ease. He weighed hardly anything.
"Crikey! Kid, do you eat anything? You hardly weigh a thing; maybe you can go with Tooth after all. Are sure you don't want to go with her or Sandy? It would be safer, and definitely a smoother ride for you." Jack stared defiantly at Bunnymund. Tooth giggled.
"Really Bunny, did you really think that he would change his mind? You know what he's like, once he makes a decision he doesn't turn back."
Sending another glare her way he put Jack back on the ground and got down on all fours to let Jack climb onto his back, positioning him just below his shoulders and making sure that there was no chance he would fall off.
"Hold on tight kid, if you fall off it's going to hurt. You know, if this situation weren't so serious I would never let you do this."
Bunnymund tapped his foot twice on the frozen ground and a large hole appeared in front of him. He glanced at the other Guardians.
"Meet you at the Pole." And with one bound and he and Jack disappeared.
Bunnymund bounded through his tunnels, getting closer to the Pole with each leap. Jack was laughing hysterically the whole way. The open joy that Jack was showing warmed Bunnymund's heart. He smirked at the screams of glee as he ricochets off the walls. After the many centuries of catering to the needs of the millions of children in the world it felt nice to be able to concentrate on bringing joy to just one child, even if that child was Jack Frost.
The trip should have been over in under 30 seconds but there were many a time when Jack almost let go and Bunnymund had to stop to check that his grip was tight enough. And to stop Jack from grabbing his ears and using them as reigns.
Bunnymund sensed that the end of their trip was approaching and thought that it was only fair that should warn the child.
"Hold tight, Jackie. We're nearly there." Bunnymund spared a lightning fast glance over his shoulder at Jack. The young boy had streamlined himself across the Easter Bunny's back, as though riding a racehorse.
Bunnymund leaped through the opening and landed softly on the floor of the Control Room. Jack was cheering.
"Yay! That was so cool, can we do it again? Pretty, pretty please?"
"No, maybe later you ankle-biter. Right now it's time to get off." He made sure he stayed low until Jack was firmly on the ground. Bunnymund stood up and glanced around. It seemed that despite the stops along the way, the two of them had arrived first. Glancing down quickly Bunnymund panicked to find that Jack seemed to have disappeared, but that changed to relief when the child was rediscovered moments later, mere metres away, investigating the room.
"Where do you think you're going, Frostbite?" Bunnymund asked as he picked up the small boy and pulled him to his chest. Jack made a small noise of disagreement before snuggling into Bunnymund's grip.
"Was investagratin'." Bunnymund chuckled.
"I believe the word you're looking for is 'investigating', and there will be time for that later. Right now you are staying where I can see you until the others get here." As he said that a loud bang was heard as a pair of doors were thrown open in the distance.
"Well, speak of the devil."
"Bunnymund! Jack! There you are!" North boomed, apparently forgetting what Jack thought of him. Bunnymund unconsciously held Jack tighter as the small boy curled into him, burying his small face into Bunnymund's fur.
"Jack! Is he okay? Is my little Sweet Tooth alright?" Tooth fluttered around them nervously, noting Jack's stance.
"He's a little frightened, but that's a recent development," Bunny glared daggers at North as he spoke. "But he was great on the trip here." Bunnymund purposely left out the times when Jack's grip had started to slip, Tooth didn't need to worry any more that she already was.
"That's a relief. I was worried he might fall off or something horrid like that, but he's fine now. Jack? Sweetie? Can you look at me?" Jack turned his head to peer at the Tooth Fairy, showing off his huge crystal blue eyes. Tooth put on her friendliest smile and succeeded in getting the small boy to lift his head up completely and smile at her. Bunnymund shifted his grip and gently lowered his small fellow Guardian to the ground, where said Guardian immediately attached himself to the Pooka's leg once again. An awkward silence followed. Nobody knew what to do next.
"Ah ha! Idea!" North's sudden exclamation made everyone jump. "I will search my books for the cure. It must be in one of them, yes! I will go."
"Yes! The answer is bound to be on one of them. Do you need anyone to go with you?" Tooth was getting very excited.
"No, no I will be fine. We each have things to do. Sandy, I believe you have dreams to bring. I will look for the cure, Sandy will bring dreams. Tooth, don't you have teeth to collect?"
"There are always teeth, but I can have my fairies do that for me while..."
Everyone turned to look at Jack, who seemed to suddenly get shy under the close scrutiny of the others.
"Yes, fairies. Would you like to meet some?" Jack's eyes widened and a smile broke across his face. He let go of Bunnymund and held his hands up for Tooth. Who delightedly swooped in and gathered Jack in her arms. Bunnymund managed to cover the slightly jealous feeling he got when Tooth picked up Jack, there were more important things to worry about right now.
"As I was saying, my fairies can take care of the teeth; I just need a few here to direct them. Then I can stay and look after this adorable little guy!"
"Alright it's settled, I must go look for the cure now. Tooth, Bunny, you'll be in charge of Jack." With that North turned and left. Sandy made a few symbols over his head in rapid succession to signify that he had to leave before floating away into one of the corridors.
Bunnymund looked at Tooth, who was fawning over Jack.
"What do we do now?" Tooth looked thoughtful for a second.
"I need to get to my palace quickly to gather a team of my fairies so I can run the operation from here. You don't mind looking after him for about 15 minutes do you?" Tooth held Jack out at arm's length, as if for inspection. Jack squirmed and looked Bunnymund with a pitiful look. The Easter Bunny sighed.
"Sure thing Tooth, I'll try to keep Frostbite in check until you get back."
"Really Bunny? Thank you! I'll be back soon Sweetie." With that said she gave Jack a quick kiss on his cheek, handed him to the Pooka and streaked off down one of the many halls.
Bunny couldn't help the small smirk that formed on his lips when Jack made a disgusted face and frantically wiped his cheek. He put Jack back on the ground, where the small boy stayed close to his feet.
"So Frosty, what am I going to do with you?"
Ten minutes later Bunnymund was sitting comfortably in North's favourite arm chair while watching Jack play with the elves. Jack had taken an instant liking to the annoying creatures, possibly because they weren't the least bit threatening and were closer to Jack's height. The Yetis on the other hand had a similar effect to North; Jack was terrified to begin with, but with Bunnymund's persuasion and uncommonly large amounts of care and friendliness from the Yetis, Jack's fear of them died.
Right now Jack was taking great delight in chasing and jumping on the elves. 'Are all five-year-olds like this? Or is it just Jack?' Bunnymund thought as the small boy pounced once again. After watching Jack do almost the same thing for some time it did get rather boring, so Bunnymund let his mind wander.
He was brought back to reality though by a small tug on his fur. Bunnymund looked down to see Jack, eyes wide and rather worried. This concerned the Pooka greatly, what could Jack possibly have to worry about? Jack then gave him the answer to his unspoken question.
"I broke it." Jack held up an elf which had been frozen solid, much like Jack use to do for fun in his teenage state. Bunnymund was stunned. Jack had apparently retained some of his powers after all. Taking the elf from the distressed child, Bunnymund looked straight into Jack's eyes as he spoke.
"How did this happen Jack?" The child nervously began a staring contest with his feet, but didn't speak.
"Jack, you're not going to get in trouble. I just need to know how you did this." Jack looked up with a glint of hope in his eyes.
"I'm not it trouble?"
"No Jack." Bunnymund forced himself not to get frustrated with the child.
"Well, I was chasing him and he kept getting away, even when I grabbed him. I didn't like it, so when I caught him after ages I made sure I grabbed him tight and when I let go he was like this." Bunnymund nodded. That explained it to an extent. Jack's powers had always been ruled by his emotions, and now that Jack was a young child it stood to reason that those emotions would get a bit out of hand. Jack had been frustrated and had let loose without realising it. But he couldn't tell the five-year-old to control his emotions. That would be pointless. So he decided to simplify things for him.
"Don't like it, fix him?" Jack looked hopefully at the Pooka.
"Yes Jack. I'll get to work fixing him, why don't you go back and play? Just don't squeeze them too tight next time or there won't be any of them left." That was a lie, but it wasn't hurting anybody and it successfully got Jack back to the task of catching the elves.
Jack had gotten bored with "capture the elves" after another ten minutes, and had then decided to curl up next to Bunnymund. It kept Jack out of trouble and the ankle biter wasn't doing anything too annoying so the Pooka let him stay. But they were both bored now, and a bored five-year-old means trouble. 'Shouldn't Tooth be back by now? It's nearly been half a bloody hour."
"My Sweet Tooth!" The cry brought them both out of their dazes.
"About time Tooth, what took you?" He knew she was a scatter-brain sometimes but when it came to Jack she was hardly ever late.
"I just had to tell my fairies about Jack." As the words left her mouth, a swarm of mini hummingbird-fairies engulfed Jack. Squeals and tweeting were heard as they all cooed over how adorable Jack was now, some even fainted.
"Enough ladies! Give him some room; I explained this to you before we left. You are my eyes and ears to the palace and to the world while I am here. There will be plenty of time for admiring Jack and his teeth later," Tooth scolded. The fairies reluctantly withdrew from around Jack, except Baby Tooth. She stayed snuggled against Jack's cheek. Jack cupped his hands and Baby Tooth flew down to sit on his palms, all the while making soft cooing noises as she looked at the small boy. Jack stared in fascinated wonder at the small figure resting on his hands; he stroked Baby Tooth's feathers with the utmost care. Jack looked up at the Tooth Fairy, who nearly melted at the look of pure joy on the boy's face. He practically radiated happiness. A few more fairies fainted.
Bunnymund grinned at the sudden affection shown towards Baby Tooth. Suddenly he got up and moved until he was beside the Tooth Fairy.
"Tooth, why did Jack suddenly show more affection towards Baby Tooth than any of the other fairies? And how did he know to cup his hands for her?"
"I don't know Bunny; maybe it's possible that some of his memories left imprints, sort of like instincts. He knows what to do, but he doesn't know why." Tooth gave him a sad look. Bunnymund didn't reply, he just stood and watched Jack cuddle Baby Tooth.
After many long moments of silently watching the small child and the mini-fairy Bunnymund spoke.
"Jack has retained some of his powers." Bunnymund's words shocked Tooth.
"Really? What powers?" Tooth ruffled her feathers in excitement and looked expectantly at the Pooka. She was barely containing herself; she was so excited that there were still some remnants of the rebellious teenager she loved inside that small body.
"Yes, it seems that he's still clinging to those bloody ice powers, I'm not sure it's a good thing though. He doesn't need that branch to control them anymore, he only needs his hands." Tooth refused to let Bunnymund's negative comments get her down. They both watched as Jack set off to play with the elves one more, Baby Tooth fluttering along by his side.
"Well at least our Sweet Tooth can still control them. That means there must still be some of our Jack in him, right?"
"Toothy, that's just it. He can't control them. I don't even think he realises he has them; he thinks it's all a game. He came to me about, what? Ten, fifteen minutes ago? Dragging an elf behind him."
Tooth fluttered nervously, she didn't like where this was going. "Well, Bunny, what's the harm in that? I mean, really…"
"He'd frozen it solid Tooth."
"He got frustrated, and took it out on the elf. Then 'POOF', elf-popsicle!"
"Bunny really, it's not that bad. It'll take some time to thaw the elf but…"
"Tooth this isn't about the elf. This is worse than we ever thought. Jack may be younger, but he's still as powerful as he used to be, and I have a feeling that is exactly what Pitch wanted. His emotions still control his powers, and unheeded those emotions are dangerous. Pitch is using Jack's inability to control himself against all of us. Jack is dangerous." Bunnymund rounded on Tooth and looked her in the eyes as he said the last part. The worry in his voice was obvious; he understood the seriousness of the situation. He knew the possible consequences. So did Tooth.
The fairy queen glanced over at the young child who was blissfully unaware of the power at his disposal.
"Isn't there anything we can do?"
"There is nothing." The guardians turned sharply at the sound of the thick Russian accent. North stood before then looking increasingly worried. Tooth fluttered anxiously, gaining and losing altitude rapidly.
"North we have more problems than we thought."
"I know, Tooth. I heard all you said." The mini-fairies flittered around Tooth; being attuned to her feeling meant that they too became worried. Bunnymund wasn't interested in that; he had bigger things to address.
"Mate, what do you mean 'there is nothing'? Didn't you find anything?" Bunnymund's temper was on edge.
"Indeed, I searched every spell book I possess, but for nothing."
"Mate, you have the biggest library on the planet, rivalled only by my own, as well as every spell book on Earth! And you're telling me that you couldn't find the spell that did this to Jack!" Bunnymund's voice slowly rose throughout his rant until he was almost yelling at the end. The commotion attracted the attention of Elves, Yetis and Jack; who all stopped what they were doing and stared at the Guardians.
"Be calm Bunny, you are scaring Jack. Ja, I have the biggest library in the world, I will not deny. But I do not have every spell book. I am missing only one. It is filled with dark spells, enchantments and curses. There is only one copy of this manuscript in existence and..."
"Let me guess, Pitch has it." Bunnymund was clearly not impressed. North nodded sombrely.
"I'll take another wild guess at saying that the spell that Pitch used on Jack came from that book." Once again North nodded.
"Then we need that book." Bunnymund said determinedly. Tooth, who had been watching anxiously from the sidelines, chose to join in once more.
"But Bunny, we don't know anything about where Pitch is. In all honestly I thought we had gotten rid of him for at least another century. How could he possibly have gotten so strong so fast? He just can't be back already!" Tooth exclaimed, panic rising in her voice.
"Tooth calm down, we will find him and fix this. We just need to…"
"Bunny?" The Pooka halted his speech and looked down at the small child tugging on his fur. He was holding something behind his back and looking very ashamed. "Happened again." Bunnymund dropped into a crouch in front of the boy.
"What happene…Oh." Jack was trying to hold up another frozen elf; bigger than the last one.
"I tried not to Bunny, but I hugged him when you yelled and he did this. He won't move anymore and he's cold, not cuddly." Jack sounded genuinely distressed and his bottom lip was quivering. Bunnymund knew what that meant but didn't know how to deal with it. Thankfully Tooth's 'motherly-mode' kicked in. She dive-bombed the small spirit and scooped in into a hug.
"Oh! There, there my little Sweet Tooth. It's okay, mummy's here now. I know you didn't mean it, you were scared. Mummy's here now…" Tooth continues to shower the winter sprite with love and affection while North and Bunny stood back and watched; perfectly willing to let Tooth take control.
"Is it just me, or is Tooth really really good at this? I mean, seriously, Mummy?" Bunnymund asked no one in particular as he stared questioningly at the scene before him.
"I believe it is… What are they called? Motherly instincts? Apparently all women have them." North replied, "But now we must be more concerned about Pitch. We must consult MiM as soon as it is dark; I believe it will be a cloudless night." Bunny's gaze never left Tooth and Jack, now surrounded by mini-fairies who were all buzzing around trying to get another look at the adorable child and his teeth. He turned to North, determination written all over his face.
"You're right, if anyone knows where to find Pitch it'll be Manny, maybe even help control Jack's powers." Bunny turned to leave, but a little voice stopped him.
"Bunny? You leave?" Jack had managed, via some miracle, to wriggle out of the tight embrace of the Queen and her fairies and was now holding his arms up to the Pooka expectantly. 'Yep,' Bunny thought. 'We need all the help we can get.'
Taking the boy in his arms he followed his fellow Guardians to the control room to wait for the Moon to rise. Bunnymund couldn't help but feel affection towards to five-year-old. But though he hated to admit it, he desperately missed the smart remarks and rebelliousness of the older-Jack.
He missed his friend.
He missed his mate.
FINALLY! I have managed to get my lazy ass into gear and finish writing this chapter! (i was forced to stop halfway through and couldn't be bothered to finish it once I had the time) But it is done now!
SCORE ONE FOR ME!
So, to all those who were waiting for this chapter, I apologise for the lateness. I hope you all like this new chapter, there is some sort of a plot to this now (if there wasn't before...).
I am still deciding if I should put a pairing into this, it already contains some BunnyFrost (FrostBunny, SnowRabbit, JackRabbit whatever you want to call it) fluffyness stuff so it might just evolve from there. IT WILL NOT BE CENTRED AROUND THAT THOUGH! So please don't hate me for it.
Anyway, hope you enjoy. And don't forget to review!