Well here it is guys! After waiting and crashing from the sweet sugar rush, here's another chapter! Hope you enjoy it! Fair warning, this chapter is rather dark and I am a cruel person for doing it, it'll get brighter I promise!
Jack cheered as he flew as fast as he could high up in the clouds. He knew exactly where he wanted to go for the last few days of winter that was left. The little town of Burgess. It was Saturday and that meant that the kids would be out playing in the remaining snow that was left but Jack could fix that easily. As the town came into view, Jack laughed as he swooped down and with a wave of his staff it began to snow. Within minutes he could hear the laughter of children and he followed the sound to the park where just as he suspected, a group of kids were playing and cheering from the new snow fall. Among those children was Jamie, Jack's first believer. Jack landed a fair distance away as he bent down, scooping a handful of snow into his hand and forming a snowball. He straightened, took aim, and threw the snowball.
The snowball hit Jamie in the back and the little boy stumbled as he turned to find the source of the snowball. His eyes lit up when he saw Jack tossing another snowball up and down in his hand, a wide grin on his face.
"Jack!" Jamie cried happily as he ran over to the winter spirit.
"Hey kiddo," Jack greeted, "You up for a snowball fight? Won't be long until spring comes and then we won't get to do this for a whole year."
Jack laughed as he leaped into the air and Jamie turned in attempt to see him but Jack had disappeared in a flash. "Think fast, kid!" Jamie's face was suddenly caked in snow as he stumbled and fell backwards on his behind. He quickly brushed the snow off his face to find Jack standing a few feet away laughing. Jamie burst into laughter as he grabbed a handful of snow and tossed it at Jack who dodged and took off again, flinging snowballs at as many children possible. Soon every child in the park was involved as snowballs flew in every direction, everyone fending for themselves.
Jack had just thrown another snowball when he felt something hit his leg. He turned to see a little red headed girl, no more than five years old, jumping happily and laughing. She scooped up another handful of snow and tossed it at Jack, only sprinkles of the snow managed to hit him but Jack decided to play along for the little girl's sake. "Would you look at that?" Jack said pretending to sound very surprised and shocked, "You got me! Jack Frost is down!"
With that, Jack flung himself down into the snow on his back in a dramatic "death" as the little girl squealed with delight. Unfortunately for Jack, A few of the children happened to notice Jack and motioned for the others to follow them, snowballs in hand and at the ready. Jack was just about to sit up when he was suddenly bombarded with snowballs. He yelped in surprise and it turned into laughter as the snowballs began to slow. Once he could finally see past all the snow in his face, all the children were laughing as they too were covered in snow from their war.
"That was fun!" one child cheered.
"We totally got you, Jack!" Jamie teased as he doubled over with laughter.
"Yeah you got me alright." Jack said as he began to stand, brushing the snow off of him.
It had been close to perfect timing as most of the children's parents began to call out, saying it was time to go home. The children said their goodbyes and rushed off to meet their parents, the little red headed girl latched onto Jack's leg hugging it as her mother called her over. Jack smiled as he patted the girls head and she ran off to her mother. Soon, all that was left was Jack and Jamie, "Guess you should be getting home too then, huh?" Jack said.
"I guess," Jamie replied a little sadly, "You'll be leaving soon too right? I mean, winter's almost over."
Jack sighed as he bent down to Jamie's level, "Yeah I will, but it won't be for long. I promise I'll be back next winter and you'll be the first to know."
Jamie smiled as he hugged Jack and the winter spirit wrapped his arms around the boy, "I'll miss you." Jamie said as they parted.
"I'll come back, don't worry."
Jamie nodded as he turned and began walking off towards home and Jack straightened. At the edge of the park, Jamie stopped and turned as he waved at Jack and he waved back. Once Jamie was out of sight, Jack took off into the air as he realized that it was getting rather late as he pulled his hood up onto his head and began to fly back to the North Pole. The evening proved to be calm and Jack decided to take his time and fly over the forest as he went. He flew over the forest for what felt like only a few hours as he began to near the snow-capped mountains far off in the distance. Jack sighed contently, it was just so peaceful out here, and everything was as it should be.
The sound jolted Jack from his zoned out state as he stopped in midair, searching for the source of the sound. Gun shots! Why were there gun shots out here deep in the forest? It couldn't possibly be hunting season yet, winter was just ending, and there shouldn't be any hunters out at this time of year.
The sound echoed throughout the forest and Jack took it upon himself to figure out what was going on. He flew off in the direction where he thought he heard the gun shots; he dove into the forest weaving through the trees and slowing down just enough so as not to crash. He stopped and landed when he heard the sound of footsteps crunching in the snow and voices just ahead. Jack could just barely make out two figures walking towards him and Jack leaped into the nearest tree and perched himself on a high branch as the two figures drew closer.
As they came closer, Jack could see that they were two large men and as suspected they both carried hunting rifles in their hands. One of the men seemed to be carrying a large bundle over his shoulders and Jack guessed it was their successful catch. Jack had no problem hearing them as they were speaking obnoxiously loud and Jack followed them from a distance, quietly jumping from tree to tree as they walked.
"What do you think the pelt will sell for?" the man not carrying the bundle asked.
"More than thousands, my friend!" the other man answered as he patted the bundle on his shoulders. "We'll split the money fifty-fifty, yeah?"
"What? I finished off the thing, I should get more. Sixty-five."
"No you don't! Besides I tracked it, I should get the extra dough."
"Ah just shut it and let's get this thing onto the truck. I'm hungry and I want a beer."
"I'm with you on that."
The two men finally reached their truck as they dumped their prize onto the back and Jack could now see what their prized kill was. A wolf. And a large one at that. Jack's eyes went wide and he felt slightly sick at the sight of the poor dead wolf. Blood had splattered its coat of fur and a clear bullet shot to the side of its head leaked the most blood as it dripped from the beast's head and onto the clear white snow on the ground. Jack's hand clenched into a fist, biting it to keep from screaming.
"So," one man said, "You think this beast's spawn will sell for anything?"
"Nah," the other said, "Won't be worth going back anyways. Let the other beasties of this forest get them. They'll be dead and frozen by now anyways. Let's get outta here."
Spawn? There were wolf pups? Jack's anxiety grew as the men jumped into their truck and drove off. Jack immediately leaped into the air and took off in the direction the men had come from, following the slight drops of blood that had dripped from the poor wolf's head. The trail ended at a disturbed patch of snow mixed with blood, clear signs that this was the spot where the wolf had died. Luckily for Jack, he spotted the wolf's previous tracks and followed them a fair distance away and in a bramble of bushes and dirt, a wolf den could be seen. Jack landed in front of the den and the sight before him seemed just as saddening as the dead wolf.
Four tiny grey bundles of fur lay frozen and dead just outside the den and Jack fell to his knees, his eyes brimming with tears. They couldn't have been more than a week or two old, born early in the year. He knew there was nothing he could do to help them, nothing at all. Except maybe give them a proper burial as best as he could. Jack slowly moved to stand and he moved a few feet away from the den where Jack chose to put the dead pups. With a wave of his staff, the snow cleared to form a three foot wide circle and melted the frost on the dirt below, allowing a soft dirt patch in its place. With the end of his staff, Jack moved the dirt and did his best to dig a hole just deep enough to fit the four tiny pups. Once satisfied with the hole, Jack carefully picked up one of the pups and one by one placed them in the hole together, feeling that if they stayed together they would never be alone. Jack covered the hole and stood over it for a few moments closing his eyes in respect for their lost lives.
It was in this brief silence that Jack suddenly heard the faintest sound coming from the den. He at first thought it was just his imagination but just to be sure, he stepped closer to the den and stood right in front of the entrance, listening. Sure enough not a second later, the tiniest sound of a whimper was heard and Jack immediately fell to his hands and knees, squinting his eyes in attempt to see into the den. His breath almost caught in his throat when a very tiny grey bundle on four tiny wobbly legs stumbled towards the entrance and flopped down on its belly. The tiny pup whined again and the sound was very quiet. Jack was surprised at the fact that it was smaller than the other pups and yet it survived this long. It must be the runt of the litter. He just couldn't leave this little pup here to die, he wouldn't.
Slowly and carefully, Jack reached a hand into the den and scooped the tiny pup in his hand and slowly pulled it out. The pup squirmed slightly in his hand but Jack soon helped support it with his other hand, calming the tiny creature as he held it close to his chest. He managed to control the coldness of his touch so as not to freeze the little pup and the pup began to nuzzle into his blue hoodie. Jack knew he had to act fast now, the little pup wouldn't last long in this cold and Jack wasn't exactly helping no matter how much he controlled his external temperature. The little pup was just small enough to fit in the pouch of Jack's hoodie as it was better than the cold air on the outside and Jack stood, keeping a hand on the pouch of his hoodie making sure the pup didn't fall out. Jack jumped into the air and sped off as fast as he could towards the North Pole.
The trip didn't last long as Jack could travel at an incredible speed but he still had to be careful with this trip because of the tiny wolf pup hidden inside the pouch of his hoodie. He landed in front of the main door and attempted to quietly push it open, its hinges squeaked slightly making Jack flinch at the sound. The hallways were close to dark as the night had grown very late and the only light source was the glow from the Man in the Moon's beams on the pure white snow outside. As Jack inched his way inside, the little pup began to squirm from inside the hoodie pouch and Jack held a hand against the pouch in attempt to calm the pup. Jack tried to be as quiet as possible as he practically tip toed through the halls. He had no idea what North would think of the little pup and Jack didn't want to risk being caught seeing as he was already way too late getting back in the first place and finding the pup had made him even later than North preferred.
If he could just reach his room, he would be able to hide the pup for at least a day or two and by then Jack thought he might be able to come up with a good explanation. Hopefully. He was almost there; his room was just around the corner and at the end of the hall. North's room was unfortunately at the beginning of the hall and within a few feet of reaching the corner. Jack heard North's bedroom door open and Jack immediately dashed back the way he came and hid himself in the shadows as he watched North emerge from his room. The old man yawned as he tightened the strap on his night robe and lazily wandered off towards the kitchen, probably for a glass of warm milk or something. As soon as North was far enough away, Jack quietly but hurriedly made his way back up the hallway and rounded the corner. He let out a small breath that he didn't realize he was holding as he made his way down the hallway towards his room which was now in view at the end of the hall. He was halfway down the hall now, he was going to make it, he-
Jack froze to a stop, which was ironic for him but that wasn't the main focus of his thoughts at the moment. Instead his main thought was CRAP!
Jack knew it was North behind him but the winter spirit dared not turn around. If he did, then North would see the bulge in his hoodie pouch and would make Jack reveal the little pup. "Jack, you are just getting in?" North asked as the old man stood at the entrance of the hallway.
"Uh… yeah," Jack replied, still not turning around, "Just got back. Really tired. I'm just gonna go to bed I think."
"You do know how late it is, yes?"
"Yeah… sorry, had a big snowball fight with some kids, lasted for a long time."
At least that part was true, Jack didn't deny that. Now he just wanted to run to his room, shut the door and get the little pup to safety, but the boy just couldn't move, his feet wouldn't move from their spot on the floor and stayed firmly planted there. Jack's heart began to pound a little faster as he heard North's heavy footsteps come closer.
"Your hood is up, Jack," North said, and Jack felt North's hand at the back of his head as he gently tugged the hood down from the winter spirit's head. "You are inside; hood is down when you are inside."
"Sorry," Jack replied it took everything he could to not sound panicked. Just then, the little pup whined and squirmed within the pouch of Jack's hoodie and Jack quickly tried to calm it by placing his hand back over the pouch, trying to make the tiny animal keep still. But unfortunately, North heard it.
"What was that?" North asked.
"My stomach!" Jack quickly said, a little too quickly "I, uh… missed dinner I guess. I'll just get breakfast in the morning!"
"Jack, what are you hiding?"
"Nothing! Can I just go to bed now?"
"Jack, turn around."
Jack's heart pounded inside his chest, he was afraid it might even burst it was pounding so hard. He felt North's hand on his shoulder and he lightly tugged to make Jack turn around and face him and jack found himself obeying. He hung his head and stared at the floor as North eyed the boy's hoodie and bulged pouch which slightly squirmed under Jack's hand.
"Jack, what is in your hoodie?" North asked, slightly firm but gentle.
Jack bit his bottom lip to keep it from trembling as he reached into the pouch and carefully withdrew the tiny wolf pup which now began to whine. Jack held the tiny pup in his arms as he dared to look up at North. The old man sighed as he looked down at the young winter spirit cradling the little wolf pup in his arms.
"North…" Jack began, he couldn't control the slight shake in his voice, "I can explain…"
North waved a hand so as to quiet the boy, "No need to explain for now, Jack. That can wait until morning. Let's get this little one fixed up shall we? I bet it's belly is hungry."
Jack was stunned, "Really?"
"Of course, you think I am that cold hearted? No!"
North laughed and Jack smiled as North placed a hand on Jack's back and began guiding him towards the kitchen. Upon entering the kitchen, North walked over to the large fridge and pulled out a carton of milk as Jack took a seat on a tall stool by a counter. "Is very small pup, you will have to bottle feed it." North said.
"How do I do that?" Jack asked, "I've never fed a wild animal before."
"Is easy!" North replied as he scrounged the cupboards and drawers and with an enthusiastic "Ah ha!" pulled out a baby bottle from a far shelf. Jack was about to question why North had a random baby bottle in his kitchen but North seemed to answer his question before the boy even uttered a word. "When I first became guardian, I had a fantasy of having a family here someday so I stocked up on the essentials. Like baby bottle! Obviously that was long time ago."
Jack watched as North poured some milk into a glass measuring cup and placed it in the microwave for a minute or so. Once the milk was warmed up just right, North carefully poured the milk into the baby bottle, fastening the lid. "Hold the bottle up and angled like so," North instructed as he placed the bottle in Jack's hand and helped the boy adjust it to sit where it needed to be. Upon smelling the warm milk, the pup whined eagerly as North helped Jack place the tip in the pup's mouth and the little pup immediately began suckling and drinking the warm milk.
"You see?" North said, "Easy!"
Jack simply just smiled as the pup continued to drink happily. As the pup fed, North looked up at Jack, "What do you intend to do with this little one?" North asked.
"I…" Jack began, "I… was kind of hoping that maybe I could… keep it? For just a little while at least!"
North chuckled, "Jack, you have a heart bigger than my belly and then some. But a pup like this takes a great deal of care."
"… I know."
Silence fell between the two as the little wolf pup finished it's full of milk, Jack placing the bottle on the counter, and the wolf pup yawned.
"I think the little one has the right idea," North chuckled, "Come, we must all get to bed and sleep now. We will speak more about this tomorrow."
Jack nodded as he slid off the stool and followed North back to their rooms. North bid Jack good night as Jack opened the door to his bedroom and walked in, closing the door behind him. He set the little wolf pup down in the middle of the bed for a few moments as Jack opened his closet and dug out a few extra blankets and a pillow. He then dug a little deeper into the closet and pulled out a cardboard box just big enough for the little pup for the time being. Jack placed the pillow in the bottom of the box and then lined the edged with the blankets making it as warm as he possibly could for the pup. With that done, Jack carefully picked the pup up and placed it in the box and then placed the box by his bed. With the pup all settled, Jack pulled back the covers of his own bed and climbed in, exhaustion finally kicking in as he leaned his staff up against the bed post and fell back against his pillows. Jack rolled over so he could see over the edge of his bed at the little pup and to no surprise the wolf pup was already curled up and fast asleep. Jack smiled as he shifted comfortably and soon he too fell asleep.
So what you think? I've been playing with this idea for a while now and decided that it could definitely work. That's it for now folks but keep your eyes out for the next chapter coming soon!