Valentine's Day in the small town of Burgess was one of the most awkward times for 17-year-old Jamie Bennett. He'd grown up with all of his classmates and any girls he'd known from childhood were like his sisters. So when he noticed a small red envelope fall from his locker, a blush wasn't enough to express his nervous fear. Jamie slammed his locker shut and flung a scarf around his neck. He stuffed the red note into his pocket, not wanting to be seen reading it in public. He stormed out of the school doors and into the cold February air. The wind hit him like ice, and he held his nose between his hands to keep it warm.
"Thanks for the weather, Jack." Jamie muttered sarcastically to the mischievous winter spirit. The brunette shook his head in disappointment when the frigid wind offered no sign that the Guardian was there at all. Jamie still remembered, all those years ago, of the night he had seen the 300-year-old teenager for the first time. Jack's surprised face when he realized Jamie could hear him. The relieved and thankful expression when Jamie could see him. He looked so happy.
Jamie had wished to see the spirit again over and over as the years went by, to be the object of his smile once more. But the brunette hadn't seen Jack Frost since the day they fought Pitch together and Sandman's dream dust sent the children witnesses into a deep sleep. He'd woken up in his bed the next day; the green fluorescent feathers from one of the tooth fairies on his pillow were the only physical reminder of what had happened the night before... And that night was seven whole years ago.
Jamie's thoughts were dragged away from the mysterious winter spirit as he lost his gripping on a patch of ice in front of his door. He balanced as quickly as he could, and remembered the red envelope in his hand. He stared at it for a second then shook his head before opening the front door.
And, sadly, the little bit of paper was the first thing his sister noticed.
"Wassat?" Sophie asked, tilting her head.
"Nothing." Jamie stomped his boots on the doormat to remove the snow. He shoved the note in his pocket and took off both wet shoes.
"Why're you hiding it?"
"No reason." Jamie took two steps to his room, only to be stopped when the paper was tugged from his jacket.
"Sophie, give it back." He commanded calmly and reached for it. Despite Sophie jumping up and down on the couch and dodging Jamie's long arms as they grabbed for his little sister, he eventually retrieved the note.
"Lemmie see it, Jamie!" She reached for the paper, extending her small arm across Jamie's.
The brunette's younger sister was persisting, but Jamie held the small piece of red paper tightly in his hand.
"Sophie, no. Get off of me." Sophie had attached herself to Jamie's back, attempting to grab the note from her brother's grip. Being relatively small for her age, Sophie was no match for Jamie as he elbowed her in the chest, not hard, but just enough to get her off his back… literally.
"Ow!" the blonde exclaimed as she released her brother. She fell back onto the couch and glared up at Jamie. "MOOOMMY!" Came her cry. "JAMIE HURT ME!"
"Calm down, you two." Their mother said from the other room. "Sophie, do you want to go with me to the grocery store?"
"Yes!" Sophie quickly forgot about her injury.
Jamie rolled his eyes. Nine-year-olds were so easy to distract.
"Is that a 'balentine?" The blonde turned her attention back to her brother.
"It's 'Valentine', Sophie. And no it's not." He lied. He knew exactly what the card was, but every time he thought of who it might have come from, he felt an uncomfortable sensation in his gut.
"I thought you were too old to write 'balentines." The child ignored her brother.
"I didn't write it…"
"Did summun give it to you?"
"Yeah." Jamie slung his bag over one shoulder and headed for his room.
"Waaat?" Sophie said, her bare feet hanging over the sofa. "A girl likes you?" Jamie just sighed and continued to walk up the stairs. "Do you like her? Are you guys gonna get married? Are you gonna get her a puppy? Jamie, answer. Jamie, listen to me! Jamie? MOMMY JAMIE'S NOT LISTENING TO MEEE—"
The teenager slammed his bedroom door shut and cut off his sister's shrieks. With a defeated flop, he fell onto his bed, flinging the red envelope out of his hand on the way down. Jamie covered his tired brown eyes with his arm and attempted to ignore the paper glaring at him from its place on his desk. His leg began to twitch and soon curiosity got the better of his embarrassment. He sat up and stared at the bright red paper, dreading what it might contain. Nevertheless, he reached over and held the note firmly in his hand once again. Another moment to glare at it, and Jamie was soon tearing open the top seal. He tentatively began reading the loopy cursive the note contained…
I don't know if you feel the same way, but I've liked you for a really long time. I know this is sudden, and you probably wouldn't want to go out with a girl like me, but I'd be ecstatic if you did.
Anyway, if you want, please meet me behind the back building tomorrow after school so you can respond.
Happy Valentine's Day.
Jamie groaned and fell back onto his bed again. He curled to his side and covered his blushing face. "No, not Pippa..." He shook his head, trying to clear his mind of what he had just read. "No, no, no, no, no,noonono" He repeated over and over again. It wasn't that he didn't like Pippa. The problem was that he didlike her. But as a friend and sister. He knew he couldn't do anything to make the whole situation less awkward. He couldn't act as if he hadn't seen the Valentine, because Pippa knew Jamie well enough to know when he was lying. But then again, he couldn't reject her feelings, because she was one of his best friends, and adding a broken heart to that relationship would leave severe damage.
The brunette let out an aggravated scream, throwing a pillow on his face to muffle it. He missed the days when everything was less complicated. When it would just be him and his friends playing in the park on a simple winter afternoon. Valentine's Day meant nothing to them but candy to eat in pretty red boxes. There were no feelings to get in the way, to hurt or break. No rigorous high school and complicated emotions that would slowly etch away the smiles of Jamie's friends.
Jamie was the last of the six to lose his smile. But, eventually, it happened. He kept holding onto the belief that the Guardians would always be there to protect him from the dangers and fears of the world. But as he kept getting older, and knew he only had a few years before he was expected to act like an adult, that belief fell. Slowly at first, like the steady freezing of a pond before snow. First, a few crystallized fears of high school began icing the surface of his hope. Then other issues began coating. His first essay assignment, the pressure of a test, the glares in the hallways from judgmental eyes. It took until his junior year for Jamie's hope and belief to ice over completely. He felt his fear of the real world and responsibility taunting the back of his mind almost constantly. As if Pitch Black himself had made Jamie his sole subject of interest.
His fear kept growing and freezing his confidence with every day. The nights drove him crazy. He no longer had dreams. Just darkness. Not even nightmares kept the empty space in his head full. What happened to the beautiful dreams he used to have as a kid? Jamie would often stay up late into the night, staring up at his dark ceiling, just to see if Sandman would appear to drift him off to sleep. But night after night, there was nothing. No sign of the gold dust that would flow through the air and trigger a child's dreams. At that point, Jamie wouldn't care if the magic dust he saw was black, just as long as he could confirm that he hadn't imagined the best night of his life.
Jamie stared out his window. A few weeks, maybe even a year after the night he met Jack, his window would always be the subject of his thoughts. The brunette would always glance at it, searching for the beautiful etchings of frost that meant Jack was near. For the designs that had magically been drawn on the glass. The image of a rabbit that would leap from the frosty window and dance around his room. Every day back then was desperately waiting for that window to show any sign of magic, every glance never rewarded.
But Jamie knew, as much as he denied it, that those wonderful childhood memories would never return. He knew he was growing up and he needed to let go of any faith he had in Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, Sandman, and the Easter Bunny. And he especially needed to forget about Jack Frost.
"Especially Jack." Jamie repeated quietly and bit back stubborn tears. He suddenly shot up and stormed to his window. He flung the glass panes open and screamed as loud as he could. No words, just one long scream to let go of all the stress he'd felt building up over the years. This didn't help of course, and Jamie felt himself getting angry. Angry at the ones who promised they'd protect him from his fears.
Jamie slammed his hand on the frame. "WHERE ARE YOU?!" Came his desperate cry to no one. There was a normal hum of the town below him, save a passersby surprised by his outburst. Jamie saw no trace of anything mystic or out of the ordinary. His eyes darted around the sky, ground, trees, desperately searching for a sign of some kind. After what seemed like ages, his hand fell and he reluctantly closed the window. Jamie's forehead rested on the frostless glass and he shut his eyes tight, fighting the headache that was forming. He clenched his fist and just wished he could forget about the Guardians. He loved them so much, but how could he love someone who had betrayed him? And at a time when Jamie needed them the most. He needed those wondrous, magical beings fighting away the fear in his life and then all of them playing in the snow after they'd defeated the responsibilities of adulthood. He needed a reassuring hand on his shoulder. Someone to tell him that it was going to be okay. Because he really needed to have some fun instead of worry about things.
But, hell; Jamie needed Jack now more than ever.
The brunette fell back onto his bed, not caring when the old springs threatened to snap upon impact. He covered his face and began clawing at his cheeks and eyes.
"I just want to be happy again!" He managed through sobs. "I was so happy when you were here! Why did you leave me?! Why, Jack?! WHY?"
Jamie remained curled on his bed, occasionally thrashing as he cried. He was glad his mother and Sophie had left already; otherwise they'd have heard the ill noises he was making and come up to check on him. But he didn't want help from them. They couldn't take away his fears. They hadn't fought Fear himself. The only person Jamie wanted was Jack, and he couldn't have him.
Another half an hour and Jamie's fit had dwindled down to a few tears. He lay face-up in his bed and studied the white ceiling above him. He wished he couldn't feel a thing. He wished he was the carefree kid he used to be who believed in monsters and fairytales and everything wonderful about the world. Jamie didn't understand why such innocence had to be taken from him. Why he had to grow out of such beliefs.
"I'm growing up, Jack…" Jamie found himself speaking to the empty room as if the winter spirit was still with him. "I'm growing up, and I hate it."
I hope you enjoyed some angsty!Jamie, because there's plenty more where that came from.
Chapter 2 should be up this weekend. - December 7, 2012