Jack Frost couldn't sleep. It had been over a week since the Guardians had defeated Pitch, but Pitch was known to be a sore loser and Jack had been suffering because of it. Terror filled his mind, dreams turned to nightmares. But he refused to tell anyone because he knew that they would make a fuss over it and that was the last thing he wanted. North would probably try to be fatherly, Tooth would be motherly, Sandy would try to give him good dreams and Bunnymund probably wouldn't care. Jack hated it when people fussed over him, so that's why he was lying in bed now, fearing the moment when he would fall asleep.
The minutes turned into hours, his lack of sleep tried to pull him down. His eyelids got heavier and he was yawning every few minutes. But he refused to go to sleep; thoughts of what would happen if he did forced him to stay up. He paced the new room North had given him, it had a huge French window with a view onto the valleys and cliffs, he often left that window open (much to the annoyance of the elves) because the cold was comforting, along with it letting him soar outside and then come back quickly. The moon was full tonight; bathing the floor in a silvery glow which made it look like a frozen lake.
Jack thought about wandering the halls, maybe North would be awake in his workshop. Jack remembered how North had told him he was always welcome to stay over anytime he wanted and for as long as he wanted. The hidden message was rather obvious; North wanted him to stay for good. Jack couldn't stay though, he loved the outdoors too much, he loved travelling and bringing snow and frost to the cities of the world. He loved watching the children laugh and smile when he brought a snow day to their town; he loved that he could contribute to their snowball fights. He was certain that being out in the world, where he longed to be, would help make the nightmares go away. So Jack had decided that he would leave within the week. He didn't really have a reason to stay, but he thought that it would be a little too mean to leave so soon, especially after all they had been through together.
Jack sat down on the bed and ran his fingers through his hair, he might be immortal but his body still needed rest. But he was afraid, afraid of what he would see if he fell asleep. He fell backwards onto the bed. 'To sleep or not to sleep?' he thought. After much more inner turmoil his body got the better of him. His eyes closed and he began to dream.
"Whoo Hoo! Yeah!" Jack was almost flying up the fill, weaving through the children, chucking snowballs at random. This was the life; the icy wind rushing past his face, snow everywhere. He didn't have his staff, but he didn't need it right now, there was too much fun to be had. He slowed down to join a chain of ice skaters on a frozen lake. Whirling around with laughter and joy surrounding him, Jack laughed along with everybody else. The leader suddenly lost their balance and they all fell down, sliding in all directions. The laughter increased. Jack was the first on his feet, he moved amongst the kids and helped them to their feet. They proceeded to make another chain and start again. Jack found himself on the end of the line, clinging to the hand of the girl in front of him.
Suddenly he lost his grip and went spinning out of control, only to end up head first into a snow bank. He could hear everyone else laughing, could feel hands grabbing at him pulling him out. Once he could see again, he found they were pulling him into another line; he was once again at the end. Then the boy in front of him let go and Jack was whirling across the ice once more. He regained his balance and looked up, there was no more laughing or smiling, all the children were gathered in a wide circle around him. They were just standing there staring at him blankly; it was starting to creep him out.
A laugh split through that chilled air, but this was not a happy laugh, it was sharp and evil. It came from everywhere, filling his mind.
"You didn't think I forget you, did you Jack?" His heart stopped, his breath caught in his throat and his blood froze in his veins (figuratively speaking). It was the voice from his nightmares, Pitch.
The ice cracked beneath Jack's feet and a black pit gaped underneath him. Jack tried to fly but his powers had been shorted out. He let out a scream as he tumbled head over heels into the abyss, surrounded by mocking laughter from hundreds of invisible mouths.
"Let the fun begin Jack..."
Jack landed with a crunch on very solid ground. He shot upright and spun in circles trying to figure out where he was. There was nothing, just darkness. A light flickered on in the distance, beckoning him in. Cautiously Jack edged closer; soon an object could be made out, a box, no, a cage. There was something inside, a figure. Something light brown was trickling from between the bars, sand.
"Sandy? Is that you?" Jack crept closer, he started breathing faster, scared if it wasn't and scared if it was.
A figure came the bars, it was Sandy, but he was more of a shadow of himself. He was a dull brown instead of his usual golden yellow, he looked worn out, like he had the weight of the word on his shoulders.
"Sandy, what happened?" Jack rushed to the bars, and knelt before his friend. The Sandman did nothing, he just sat there staring blankly at Jack.
"You did this to him Jack." Jack jumped, and whirled around. Pitch was right behind him accented by a dark grey glow that hovered around him.
"You did this to him, because of your stubborn behaviour I managed to capture him, now he will be mine forever. I will use his power to create terror around the globe. Your friend will suffer in torment and pain for eternity. Then I will rise again and I will not fail. The Guardians will be destroyed, or suffer the fate of the dear Sandman, and it is all your fault..."
Jack shot bolt upright, his whole body was shaking. Sandy was captured, it was all his fault? Everything was his fault, it would always be his fault. He stumbled out of his bed, forcing down tears. He needed to get some fresh air, to get out of here. He staggered out the door and down the hallway, guilt welled inside of him, Sandy was hurt and suffering and it was all his fault. He leaned heavily against the wall; tears on the brink of falling.
"Hey, Frostbite! What are you doing up?"
Bunnymund found himself wandering the hallways a lot since Pitch was defeated. He didn't know why. He had been about to go to sleep but something had compelled him to get up and look around instead. A door creaked. It had to be at least 2am, but someone else was up. He followed his senses until he found hallway that lead to Jack's room, but Jack's door was ajar. After a quick peek inside he knew that Jack had been there, but wasn't anymore. He followed the corridor until a faint light of an immortal appeared, light blue against the darker hallway. It was defiantly Jack; he was slumped against the wall, trying to stagger along. There was clearly something wrong. Bunnymund felt strongly compelled to do something about it.
"Hey, Frostbite! What are you doing up?" He didn't know why he said that in particular, but it got the boys attention. Jack whirled around; he had a strange look on his face, a lost, hopeless look. Unshed tears shone in his eyes. They stood there for a moment, just looking at each other before Jack stumbled forwards and latched himself to the Easter Bunny, tears finally falling.
Bunnymund was shocked, Jack was never like this. Something serious had happened. He wrapped his arms around Jack without thinking, pulling him close. Jack was trying to talk but all that came out was a mixture of sobbing, tears and mumbling. Hands gently stroked his hair in a soothing motion. After what could have been hours, Jack began to calm down. Bunnymund noticed and took this as the time to ask and important question.
"Jack? What happened?"
It took a few moments for Jack to pull himself together.
"M-my f-f-fault, it's all my f-fault."
"What's your fault?"
"That S-Sandman's g-gone, that h-e's hurt. My f-fault he got c-captured. I was s-stupid." Jack then buried his face in Bunny's fur and sobbed.
"Jack, listen to me. Sandy's fine, he's safe. I think it was just a nightmare. Was it?"
"Be-en having n-nightmares s-since the b-battle."
Bunnymund understood now, Pitch was giving Jack nightmares on purpose. He made Jack think that his friends were in danger and that he was to blame.
"Why didn't you come to us Jack? Sandy could have given you some dust to help you sleep?"
"What was that?"
"I didn't want you to fuss."
Jack didn't want them to fuss, he really was thick sometimes, that was for sure. Didn't he understand that they would fuss more because he'd been keeping it a secret.
"Let's get you back to bed. I've got some of Sandy's dust left from a while back, you can have that. And don't even think about saying no."
Bunny guided Jack back to his abandoned bedroom and made sure he was lying comfortably. On an instinct he tucked the blankets up to the lads chin. Jack looked up at him, still slightly scared.
It was such a simple request, but it was something that Bunnymund had never expected to hear from Jack Frost. But the same instinct that had made him tuck Jack in also told him that he had to stay, not just stay until the boy fell asleep but all through the remaining night. Bunnymund fetched a chair from the corner of the room and set it down beside the bed before seating himself in it. Jack looked comforted by this but still uneasy. So the Easter Bunny reached into one of his many pouches and brought out a small golden bag which contained some of Sandman's dreaming dust. He brought out a pinch and sprinkled it over Jack's head. This should ensure pleasant dreams for the rest of the night. Jack's eyelids began to droop but he reached out and grabbed a handful of Bunnymund's fur.
"Don't go, please." The words were barely a whisper but Bunnymund understood.
Jack smiled as his reality drifted away into dreams.
Bunnymund sat and stared at the young immortal. How long had Pitch been silently torturing him? Why didn't Jack have the sense to come to them when it started? Didn't he trust them? He decided to a serious talk to the other Guardians about the nightmares and the apparent trust issues. He was sure that they would find a solution for the problems at hand, but for now he had a child to watch over.
Jack slept peacefully for the remainder of the night.
He didn't let go of Bunnymund's fur the entire time.