Tips of frosted toes cemented on the iced lake as curves of wind softened their descent onto the ground. The chill in the air settled around them as springing ferns, planted themselves in little bursts beneath Jack's feet. The wisps of a breeze that curled away upon their landing laced through strands of saffron as Rapunzel loosened her tightened hold around Jack's neck.

He glanced behind him with a half curved smile at her widened eyes that analyzed the surrounding area as she let out a gasp of surprise. He'd expected her to be somewhat in awe of the world she'd never seen but not the heavy retreat of air that made him catch her oxygen into his lungs.

A frigid sting welded beneath the balls of her feet as she eased off his back, shivering as cool toes pressed into the ice and settled on the lake. Her eyes were widening even more in excitement, ears prickling from all the sounds around her. The twittering of birds in the trees, the hum of crickets in the brush and the softened glow of the moon upon them. They were all peppering the atmosphere with a sort of natural peace.

Her fingers wrapped around his shoulders lifting herself back up, a small eek escaping her lips at the light chill. However it wasn't a completely uncommon feeling as she'd often rolled through the frosted powder that Jack sprinkled beneath the tower. His frigid temperature was caged in by the dense cloth of his hoodie, the smooth fabric warming her just enough as she wiggled her toes.

"You've never been out of the tower before, so I guess I'm glad my something of a home is the first place you see." He commented with a mild tilt of his head. She threw off the backpack onto the grass hearing a slight thunk from her frying pan hit the ground.

"It's beautiful Jack, your home is just like the lakes in the seasonal books you brought me." A giggle ejected from her lips as she jumped down taking in the frosty temperature all at once. She threw her arms in the air, in no way burdened by the night chill, and spun on her heel twirling on the ice in uneven steps. "I can't believe I did this!" She was now skipping gaily over her downy blonde locks, frosting the ice with multiple layers of gold as she moved in little hops across the lake.

Jack blinked, laughing in slight surprise at the movements. His lips quirked upward in a goofy half smile from the tingling butterflies that were dancing in his stomach at her actions. Just looking at her as she spun on her heel, twirling on the thin surface with an even grace was enough to make him lost in that feeling he couldn't reject. His fingers wrapped around the curved hook of his staff, head leaning absently to rest against it as his lips parted releasing a dopey sounding chuckle.

Her eyes were darting all around, taking in the scenery at once. The sight of a small hole in the ice and a flash of a creature swimming beneath it drew her attention. She started hopping in awkward jumps toward it as the cold stung her feet, moving in twirls and bouncing steps on the iced surface of the lake.

She froze in her tracks as a small sound echoed through her ears and she stilled not moving another inch. Emerald flickered downward to notice a miniscule break under her raised toe. The sight sending a flurry of alarm through her at the peek of water flowing below. Her arched foot worriedly easing downward to rest back upon the ice in an exceedingly slow movement, heart pounding at the thought of what might happen. She didn't want to worry Jack, she wanted to prove she could handle herself outside the tower but already it seemed a new danger she couldn't simply evade alone was proving her mother right.

"Wh-Whooah!" Rapunzel cried out as crackling fissures began to prickle throughout the meager ice. It took but a flicker of a second for the youth of winter to rush over, catching her around the waist from behind and sweeping his staff beneath her feet to close up the gaping hole in the ice.

"Be more careful Punz!" Jack screamed out, the sight somehow stabbing a quaking familiarity through his bones. Her form was half lifted in the wind by his lone arm around her waist, making her notice for a moment how strong Jack actually was. It seemed effortless as she glided back onto the surface of his chest feeling his rushing heartbeat press into her back.

"I-I'm sorry." She stammered back in return, gripping his hands around her waist as the fear slowly began to ebb away. His grip was so tight it nearly sucked the breath out of her then loosening all at once as he realized she was safe.

Rapunzel's skin lightly trembled against him as she rested there, jumping in a bit of surprise as she felt a brush of cool lips on the softened flesh on the back of her neck. Words were whispered into her skin that amplified her shivers, "I'm sorry for yelling at you."

His hands planted lightly on her hips as he turned her around to face him, her quivering palms reaching up to clutch the fabric of his hoodie in desperation. He didn't waste a second scooping his hands under the back of her knees and lifting her around her back off the ice. Her chest heaved with every lingering breath as she looked at the hole closed up beneath her. She was seconds away from dying just then; a mere slip of her footing would have been disastrous if Jack hadn't been beside her.

"You could have fallen in." He commented with a deepened frown, clutching her tighter around her back again as he brushed aside a fallen strand of hair upon her cheek. Her skin was quaking with edges of goosebumps as she closed her eyes. The world outside the tower had already proved itself dangerous and she hadn't even gone anywhere yet. Thinking of all the things that were ahead of she couldn't help it, couldn't force away the fear of what that frozen death might have felt like. Her hand curled into her chest the other falling across her waist as her head moved to rest on his shoulder. She let her body rest in his arms and allow herself be content for a moment with his chill and let it calm her down. But she couldn't control the natural reaction, emerald orbs flickering down to glance to notice her fingers were barely quivering.

"You're trembling..." Jack eased her closer, strands of ivory tickling across her forehead as he brushed it with his lips. Her eyes peeked open more at the action, starting a tiny smile to grace her lips in return. Jack emulated such a kind reassurance every second he was near her, and she wanted to be strong for him.

"It's okay. You don't have to worry so much about me."

"Heh, I can't stop something like that Rapunzel. I couldn't even if I wanted to." His eyes closed as he drew her in closer, burying his face in the hollow of her neck affectionately. "I can't lose you. It's something I refuse to do."

"You won't lose me." She replied the words with a sweet tone, hoping she could ease any fears that dared come near him.

"I don't know that. Anything in this world could take me away from you, that's why I'll protect you to end of my strength."

"You don't think I'll do the same for you?" She inquired with a lightened smile and mild tilt of her head. "You think I'm willing to let you put yourself in harm's way for me? You're out of your mind Jack. You have to be if you don't know that I'd be lost without you here."

"I'm immortal Punz. There's really not much to worry about when it comes to me."

"But that doesn't mean you can't be killed does it?" She questioned seriously, prompting an evasive dart of his eyes to look away.

"It just means...you don't die." Her voice was solemn at the realization as he grimaced slightly unwilling to risk releasing the information.

"I've given death a try once or twice so I wouldn't exactly know if that's completely true. I'm sure something could kill me, just not something that's just poetic justice as an ice lake." He stated with a mild trace of sarcasm. "After all, this was where I was born."

His words were dancing with that dark humor he often employed. She felt a burst of loathing for it when he spoke such things. Giving death a try? Didn't he have any idea just what a careless statement like that actually meant to her.

A tender hand reached out to take his in her own, enduring the blistering chill of his palm as she placed it on the side of her cheek. His frosted breath continually caressed the skin of her neck as she trembled naturally from the sensation.

"I hope that someday you can feel the same joy I do when I think about you coming into the world."

Jack bristled humming out into her skin as he lifted his head just slightly. "Oh? And-" He stopped to paint a delicate kiss on the skin of her neck, lingering there just long enough to ignite every quivering nerve ending. "-why would you put your hope in something that will never happen." He grinned mischievously with a bitter curl of his lips the action more than enough to make her loath reality. This wasn't the first time he buried his self-doubt beneath a smile and she hated every second his grin widened further.

"Don't say that." Her hands desperately reached to lift his chin their lips a breath from one another's as she spoke. Her hands trailed down to his chest to rest delicately over his heart, pressing there firmly so he couldn't excuse the existence of his inner strength. "I'm never going to let this go Jack. This part of you that's hurting so much, I'm not going to let you sweep it under your smile or laugh it away. Instead I'm going to make it disappear."

"That's-" His heartbeat sped up as she gripped the back of his neck with careful purpose. Downy lips slightly chapped from the wind parted just slightly as a meager peak of salmon darted to quickly wet them nervously. Her forehead calmly met his own in a motion of comfort.

"It hurts me too, to know you're in so much pain." She had no idea. In this moment he was nearly willing to give up his stubborn reluctance at happiness. So enthralled with the taste of her icy breath upon his parting lips. It was too much, such a teasing gift for the wind to bestow upon him. Letting him catch only a faint lick of what she wouldn't yet deliver in the chilled atmosphere. He wished to do nothing more than take her by her waist and hold her against him so he could meld every crevice of her into his memory as he kissed that chilling breath out of her lungs.

"I want to see it, the place you were born." She said with a kind smile certain her nearness was reassuring his chaotic beating heart. She had no idea why Jack was so ridiculously nervous. It wasn't like him to get worried over anything. He eased her down to rest on the ice once again, feeling reluctant for her to leave his arms.

Rapunzel leaned against him idly, as Jack pointed a lone finger to the middle of the lake. He began to take even steps in front of her as he led her forward, refreezing the ice beneath his chilled skin with careful precession. She followed him, glancing mildly at the frozen visage she'd nearly been swallowed up by, finally standing in the middle of the lake beside him.

"You came from down there?" She let go of his arm and stepped forward upon the ice to marvel at the crystal beneath them.

"Yeah, I just remember a few things." He stated with a murmur hardly wanting to admit it before her.

"Like what?" She turned on her heel slightly stepping backwards on the ice.

"The darkness. And the fear. And then of course the Man in the Moon's first and last words to me, telling me my name."

"That's-"

"I don't really like to think about it. My birth wasn't really anything to celebrate. Just a day that no one ever knew about and I actually would rather keep it that way."

"But it brought you here. It might have been hard but if it wasn't for that day I'd still be in my tower and I'd never have gotten the chance to know such an amazing person."

"Heh well I am pretty amazing."

Rapunzel sighed with a mild chuckle lightly nodding her head. "You are. You'll always be that way even if sometimes you don't want to believe it. I'll be the one who helps you always remember."

They'd gone quite far out now, the back of her foot slipping and slightly loosing her balance, that quickened fear hit her again at the mere falter before a hand laced with her own to lift her up.

Winter itself breathed inside her lungs as she fell forward against his chest, momentarily resting there and inhaling that scent was uniquely Jack. Thinking of it she wanted her own aura to sink into him, to taste flowery scents in the atmosphere when she rested upon him enough to know he would have a piece of her with him every second. A gentle finger eased up her chin as their eyes met, an even question carried through thick fog in the air around them and giving her shivers that brought a sweet warmth to her inner chill.

"May I have this dance princess?"

Her eyes widened just a tad at the odd word but something about it struck a cord of familiarity within her. An engrained motion that unknown ancestors had perfected caused her fingers to tangle in the side of her dress. An elegant gentle bow and curve of a foot a gesture that registered as just a trace peculiar for them both.

"Yes, you may." She answered back, lips curved in a kind smile as her heart began an even pattering in her chest. The youth of winter twirled his staff so the hook of it rested downward upon the ice and tapped it upon the surface in a few brisk hits that started a chain reaction. The thin ice began solidifying, thickening as a pattern of a swirled sun spread across it to prepare their dance floor. Once the tendrils began to sweep through every curve beneath them he idly tossed his staff backward, letting the wind carry it to rest upon the grass.

The scene was too precious to linger in any thoughts but of one another. Fear drawn away quickly as he lifted her captured palm to his lips, tracing a delicate kiss upon them and leading the precession to their spontaneous waltz. Cool lips rested there for a momentary curl of time, chapped skin soothed by the smooth flesh beneath it.

He reluctantly drew back cupping her hand in his as she started to move. Eagerly placing a chilled foot forward as the balls of his feet turned in even strides to match the motion and avoiding her body nearly running into his. Her other hand reached to clasp her hair tightly as she began to lead them in a haphazard dance spinning on her heel and twirling them in a circle. "Come on go left Jack!" She instructed with a giggle, brisk two steps pulling him right as he headed to his left and their bodies jerked back together.

"I said go left." She chimed with a smile and a shake of her head.

"I did go left, my left." He answered with a chuckle then directed her active feet to tarry his way. Their bare toes lifted from the ice moving in a swift collection of steps to the left before they circled around in place.

"Oh, sorry, I forgot. I've never really danced like this before." Her fingers twittered a bit where they were cupped in his, the glacial temperature of his palm keeping her heated one at a perfect state to stay cupped with his.

"Me either." He replied with a mischievous grin and light shrug of his shoulders.

"Well, I'm always up for a little fun. We can learn how to dance together tonight, mark it in my book. It'll be the first new thing we did together when you left the tower." The fullness of her smile caught him into joy as she nodded happily practically bouncing on her feet at the words. The half moon that stroked at his lips threatened to extend and match her unbridled expression but he held it back only momentarily before it cracked its way through. He didn't bother to do anything now but join in her fun as the dance began again. Feet following after as he chuckled letting her dance with him excitably in quickened movements upon the thickened ice.

Something about the way she threw her head back and let out a sprinkle of laughter. That sound brought an eternal joy that collected like a bunching spring and unleashed a certain freedom from a chained past within him. It was the way she took quick steps forward swaying arms up and down from linked hands between them as music he couldn't hear echoed in her mind. The smooth fabric of her dress brushed delicately along his calf when she skirted just near enough that her nose brushed his. Taunting him unknowingly with warmth that he craved to hold so tight that her very essence would sink into his bones. The playful way she danced with him was almost childlike in its whole completeness and he couldn't stop from following after her in every motion.

They hopped three steps to the right and three quick springing jumps back left, her feet rising up to the tips of her toes as she pulled Jack's hands inquiringly to twirl them round upon the lake once again. Closing her eyes as the wind flew about them while they whirled laughing together. Her toes left the ground for only a second as a gush of wind lifted them before settling back down. Her heart was pounding from the exertion of her dancing motions but she refused to slow down. A sound of even laughter left Jack's lips again as he followed her movements, her cold bare feet stepping on his in their quickened misstep. He chuckled at the feeling then gripping her around the waist and holding against him he lifted her slightly off the ground to let her warm her feet for a moment. "Glad you don't wear shoes Punz."

"Sorry, I guess I got a little carried away." She mumbled the words quickly with a light giggle and toss of her head; so lost in her new surroundings and free of inhibitions. "Just being out here, I feel like-like this is where my life begins. Being completely free and at home with you Jack." She felt foolish, but she couldn't help but release the words from her lips. Jack had given her so much and he deserved to know exactly how his presence touched her. Not saying it, keeping it bottled inside, was almost as painful as when she'd been chained by duty set in her mind to never leave the tower. The freedom of the open spaces and unbridled sounds that shattered the silence she'd always been trapped within gave her a certain happiness that her body needed to release. Her feet couldn't help jumping forward in bouncing steps, her laughter couldn't be controlled and her joy could never be destroyed by a sharp tongue laced with her shortcomings.

"I think I saw those shoe things before in one of those magazines you brought me. There wasn't really any reason to have them in the tower. I guess that's why mother never brought me any." She shrugged a bit at the mention of her mother, wiggling her toes as her hands rested on Jack's shoulders, trying not to think about the mixture of betrayal and happiness she was feeling at the moment for leaving.

"You know, I don't think anything in the world could match the feeling I get just from seeing you smile. Not even the way I feel when I see the floating lights from my window. You should know that Jack. Come on, let's dance across the entire lake!" Jack laughed pleasantly and evenly sat her down as they took each others hands. The moment her toes hit the ice again he twirled her on her heel. Their bare feet synchronized to swim together across a blistering ocean of frigid chills and transparent affection without another thought. Each fluid step was so purposefully chaotic, a sweetened wild dance that he wouldn't have given up for anything. He gazed at her carefully thinking on her words as she moved them into circular triple steps that caused them to blaze across the frozen expanse. Swaying with him occasionally from side to side when she tired or when she'd need to hop over her dragging hair that followed.

He knew but something in him kept fighting that truth she spoke. The beautiful sight before him was still an enigma; an unsure reality that seemed a hazy dream of perfection. To have someone like her, who knew how to laugh so freely, who wanted to indulge in the chill of winter and who actually enjoyed being near him seemed so fantastic. Even after months of having such a gift it was still increasingly harder to receive. She became more wonderful every second she drew breath. The aching in his heart near unbearable just from being in the same room as her; much less a mere few inches from the soul he'd grown unable to do without.

Her emerald eyes were so full of trust for him, that one look making him lose himself and free his hand from her own. He lifted her other pair of held digits twirling her around in a fluid spin that she flowed into on the tips of her toes rising and caressing the ice with a regal grace. Years of stagnancy were swept away as he turned upon a heel in a glissade of wind. His hand angled inward catching her out of the spin behind her shoulder blades and the other moving to curve her downward bending her into a smooth dip. A blend of jade and cobalt melded together in a soft collision as her free hand lifted to rest upon his cheek.

His fingers massaged the sensitive skin upon her lower back, willing away all aches and pain that could dare assault her, hands callous from cinching into tight grooves of his icy staff cradling her upper back. He felt more elated than anything to twirl his fingers in the silken fabric of her dress. Tired of wearing his hands down holding onto the only companion he'd been given. He considered it must have been why he couldn't let his staff go, unless he had something to exchange for it.

Holding her in his arms was more than enough to trade away powers and responsibilities that he didn't even have the choice but to perform. It was innate inside him that winter flowed where he stood. Even now the ground beneath them that cracked from every pressing step easily reformed to hardened ice from a simple trace of his toe. Glittering orbs was interlocked with his own, his forehead resting upon hers as he inhaled her very essence. Something about the way time wouldn't carry on sunk a memory into every fiber of their beings.

The pads of her fingers carefully glided across frigid skin, drifting leisurely upon it in even caresses. The intricate tick of seconds crystallized a bond between them communicated through their silent gaze. Her hand slid away from his cheek as he dipped her lower, her arms flowing out behind her enough that her fingertips brushed avidly along the ice, as her head angled back and her body completely relaxing to lay in his hands. Strands of gold bunched against the blistery surface with the shivery night air prickling a chill as glittering emerald caught the glow of stars. Her hands reached back upward as he swept her back in close against his chest, wrapping his frigid palm briskly around her waist and drawing her so their bodies fell against one another.

His index finger glazed the air, rising just slightly where her hands cupped his and he laced their fingers together, intimately feeling every digit joined with his own as light snowflakes began falling in the air around them. "Come a little closer to me Punz. Don't dance so far away." He whispered the words a peppering chill exiting his lips as he placed both hands around her lower back and curved her in close making her reluctantly slow her quickened steps in favor of a different kind of lingering bliss.

Inquiring jade glanced up at him curiously her hands resting unsurely upon his chest as she stared up at him. She felt so close to him now, as if everything and anything else had vanished and he was the only one her mind and heart could rest in. Her hands moved just a trace, sliding upward to wrap gently behind his neck. Her eyes widened a trace more at the sweeping powerful azure that obliterated all of her unhappiness and she couldn't bother to think of Mother right now. Cruel words couldn't echo in her mind as his hands burned a cool heat in the delicate curve of her lower back making her body feeling light as the air itself sketched goosebumps on her skin. Noticing her light shiver he lifted her to rest her toes upon his. He was so close. His nose brushed along her own nuzzling there with affectionate traces of motion. They were hardly moving now, swaying in tiny steps foreheads resting together. She truly never wanted the moment to end. Never wanted time to move any further from this point. Jack was so whole and complete, drawing that aching pull on her heart in to want everything from him. She wanted his every curve of mischief, she longed to brighten every sullen fade of a smile, her fingers ached to tangle in strands of white and hold him in her arms. Toes that rested upon his own wanted to dare to rise up just a little more; just a trace of an inch so she may reach the destination of a lightly chapped half moon.

Looking at him this way so intimately, that it felt like they were one person, she was sure anything more and her heart might shatter from the pressure. Her feet tried to step down but Jack tightened his hold around her waist, dragging her close to him as he murmured slightly squeezing his eyes closed tighter. "Just a little longer..." That foggy chill from his quiet whispers was so close to her parted lips it threatened to invoke her curious thoughts. She let out a teetering exhale, her voice shaking as she tried to endure the heavy longing. That burning wouldn't stop, a fissure of heat that pooled from her heart each moment he was near. They moved with each other her feet following atop his as they swayed together in the moonlight. Icy toes and bumpy peach skin chilled by the light breeze that peppered around them. They were curved in together to naturally will away the cold that neither the youth of winter nor the young woman of sunshine could bother to focus upon.

Rapunzel sniffed, a light sneeze escaping her nose as she trembled a bit the sound slightly snapping Jack out of his peaceful reverie. Hopping off the ice he glided then back toward the grass. Leaning idly to rest in the wind as it carried him there holding his golden treasure with a careful grip. Her chilled toes curled upon his, peeking down and poking the grass idly as he grabbed his staff. She hopped off his feet to land skillfully and wiggling her toes in the cool blades of forest green. They stared at one another curiously, edges of smiles on their lips and words unsaid dancing through the air in a fragrant melody.

"Hmm..." Turning on her heel Rapunzel took even steps back humming a tune carefully herself as she skipped back onto the lake's surface.

The light she radiated through her simple smile created a warmth he'd never drive away in the center of his heart. The way her eyes widened, emerald peeking at him with an unknown sort of curiosity that revealed a deeper longing he dared not trick himself into seeing. But no matter how he tried to reject it, it was undeniably there. Those delicate orbs reflected a kindness beyond measure that would never strain into pity. They reflected a truth that he wanted to believe in, an emotion that he felt stronger than any other. Beautiful eyes that fought to prove that loneliness had no business with him anymore.

"You know something Punz..." He trailed off, his crooked memories of agony attempting to throw a hand grenade on every trace of progress he'd made. "..for a girl whose been stuck in a tower all her life you sure are optimistic." He spoke the words with a sly curl of defensive mischief as he idly dragged the edge of his staff along the ice as he made his way back to her; making sure every thread of frozen moisture was packed in tight. He sat down upon the lake crossing his feet at the ankles as he patted the space beside him. A jumping comfort resided in his belly as she plopped down next to him leaning against his shoulder without a thought of worry. She really did trust him without any doubts.
"I just know that nothing is going to take me away from you Jack. I'll never make you feel that pain again." Her fingers rolled together unsurely, remembering the moment when he'd sat unseen in that corner, staring at her with emptiness in his eyes. She never wanted to see that face again, and would do anything in her power to drive away his agony.

"I know how it hurts. I know that silence is the worst sound you can ever hear, but now I never have to feel that pain again because I have you by my side. Don't ever cheapen the gifts you give out like that." She murmured nudging his shoulder smiling sadly.

"Punz hey, don't make that face." His fingers trailed out beside him as he started to absently pick at the skirt of her dress, lightly pinching the small amount of fabric over her knee. Rapunzel's head turned away with a slightly miffed expression, her meager frown catching him off guard. He never wanted to upset her, that was the last thing he wanted to do. Reaching out his fingers trailed under her knee, pressing into the fabric as he wiggled them in a tickling motion. Her leg jumped as a slight reflex of a laugh left her lips. She pursed them just a trace before she forced them into a pout, glancing away trying to brush his hands off. No way was he getting off that easy. "Was that a smile?" The imp of winter questioned.

"No." She pouted back with a stifled giggle.

A mischievous grin worked it's way onto his lips as he turned to sit in front of her, the expression of mirth growing as she tried to retreat backward. "Really now? Hmm..and that sounded like a laugh to me." His fingers reached downward one hand wrapping around her ankle to hold it still and the other began tickling her under her feet. The laugh that ejected from her lips was immediate, her leg trying to jerk backward but couldn't as his fingers swept across the ticklish skin.

"No-hehehe Jack! Jack stah-ha-stop, I-I'm mad at you!" She uttered tossing her head. He continually wiggled his digits in quickened strokes, prickling and warming skin that had grown frigid from the ice. All the blood seemed to be coming back in them, a reddened flush peppering the surface the longer he listened to her laughter. Her hands flailed out trying to push at his shoulders, as her toes curled tight into her skin. She couldn't control the joyful sounds escaping her lips even though she wanted to be angry with him, not because he'd done anything to her but because he was always doing it to himself. She just wished he could see things the way she did, that he could see himself through her eyes as the mischievous boy that brought her happiness, the one she'd give up anything for.

Her legs finally gained enough strength to press her feet forward against his chest pushing at it in desperation to make him let go as they laughed together.

"Still mad?" He asked with an arch of an eyebrow rubbing the base of her feet with his nails as she squealed with a loud eieek. She nodded now seeming to be playing along with his actions as she let out rolling giggles trying to brush his fingers away. "I'm fu-aha-hahaha! F-furious."

The sound was joyous and full and it brought a certain completeness to the both of them as their eyes met, bodies still shaking with light tremors of chuckles and softening giggles. Her bare feet were still pressed against his chest and she felt her heart begin to pound and toes curl at exactly how close they were to one another. She moved her foot just slightly down his hoodie, her toes curved out and pressing in to feel out his own heartbeat. The rhythmic pounding echoed her own turbulent music and she felt a certain unsure curiosity. She wanted to know why, why he was staring in her eyes with such intensity it felt like every thread in her body was becoming tied in with his. How did the small action of a bare toe reaching up to childishly skim the tender curve along his cheekbone elicit a shiver from the prince of winter himself.

His fingers wrapped around her offered ankle as he fiddled with her toes, absently pulling them and wiggling them together to elicit her giggles. His lips leaned in unexpectedly kissing her ankle the gentle brush of his lips making her freeze in place.

"Ja-Jack?" She couldn't question it as her body tensed, his fingers reaching out to interlace with her own as he gently laid her back to rest upon the ice. She knew that reddened tint was coming to her cheeks again and she whimpered shyly in slight protest.

"You really shouldn't play around so much Rapunzel, you never know what dangerous spirits could be out here, just waiting for the chance to catch a pretty girl." He growled the words tenderly as his digits played with her own, prompting a light giggle from her lips. She was nervous like this, laid out beneath him with his face close enough she could see every deepened line from agony in the worn bags beneath his eyes. He was eyeing her with a look she'd seen a few times, a mischief that ended up with her backed into corners lungs aching for oxygen. Her lips parted to speak to him, her subtle exhale sprinkling fog in the air around them.

"But what if the girl wanted the spirit to catch her, what if she was lonely and thought the spirit might be lonely too?"

He leaned near her his nose brushing her own tenderly as she took in a heavy breath, the downy warmth of his blue hoodie contrasting with that chill between her fingers. His face was curving down, nose nuzzling sweetly along her cheek as he hummed gently in her ear. She still felt vulnerable against the fragile surface, but wholly protected with his palm holding her own. The sound of ice hardening beneath her, crackled like burning embers in her ear. She wasn't afraid right now, not even if death itself would try to face her. Those gentle digits clasped the fabric of her soul, surrounding her in fibers of the atmosphere and weaving her body into a frigid comfort. Feeling him so close made her tense muscles relax, as she let his chill permeate each crevice of her being. She was wrapped so tightly in a veiled embrace, wholly aware of flecks of azure diving into emerald as he spoke his answer.

"Then he'd be confused...lost every time she came closer and didn't run away."

"Couldn't he try to believe in her a little, believe that she cares for him? They could find an escape to loneliness together." Her heart pounded even more at the words, chest tightening with every breath as her body brushed along his. Jack had never before gazed upon her with such a deepened stare, worn edges of pain clearly displayed before her as she swam within an ocean of powerful cerulean.

"Maybe..." His fingertip traced delicately along her full lips, the ethereal brush of his nail began igniting divine tingling sensations with each loyal stroke, as his eyes focused in concentration and an intricate crystallization of frost began manifesting beneath the nail's caress. He rolled the ball of his index finger into the plumping bottom with a flickering press upon the quivering flesh, smirking at her gentle intake of breath and the tender reddening hue upon her cheeks. That delicate sound made him long to consume every meager shiver and light gasp that he solicited, his entire being drawn into a canvas of peach sprinkled with cherries.

Swirling wisps of ice peppered their way upon the chapped rims, cementing a tangled design of glittering sun flowers that he'd once seen upon tattered purple cloth from Corona.

The curve of her lips trembled upward as she gripped his hand tighter, her eyes trapped in a glint of cerulean mischief. Her insides flip-flopped every second his digit trailed along the sensitive plane. The lingering pressure weighed upon her, each cool icicle increasing the desire to move him closer, to run her fingers through silken silver strands and tell him words she couldn't think to say. Every moment that skittered by her heartbeat quickened at a speed she couldn't fathom, chilled lips littered with elegant artistry curious and aching as she eyed his sly upturned curve.

She'd only felt them against her own once. A softened touch from a silent breath that had made her insides blister with heat and body quake into a stumbling mess. She hadn't let him know, hadn't revealed a second of her breaking need even now. She'd wanted to feel those lips upon her own again, to see what it felt like to release that squeezing pain in her chest that impish laughter and his gentle smile would force to the surface. But she had no such fortune, her lips were caught beneath his torturous bliss, not even close to sated as emerald orbs were locked upon a chapped half moon.

Crystallized moisture puckered under his tracing digit, the wispy curls of the silver artistry weaving together and beginning to glow a gentle azure hue as he painted the top of her lip; his elaborate design a thin layer of cool chill now encasing her lips completely. "Maybe he would believe if he...could only find proof of her love." He gazed down upon her their eyes meeting communicating something still and silent, crashing through the barricade of noise and interruptions and leaving them joined to one another. His held breath finally released, prickling the painted lips in a delicate haze of misty fog, that elicited stalled whimpers from the gentle fanning pressure that she couldn't capture into silence.

"Where do you think he should start looking?" Rapunzel whispered the words. Her eyelids were half-lidded as their fingers curled together, every digit interlaced entrapping them in a tender bond. The pads of her fingers were affectionately running across his knuckles as she kept still, reveling in the iced glaze encasing her lips in a protective frozen warmth.

"In a place where only they exist, where nothing else can get even an inch between them. I think he should start searching, right here and now." She could feel the slight crackle of ice upon each full brim each time she released a silent breath, careful not to destroy whatever masterpiece he was adorning there. Her heart was racing like mad and she couldn't think, she just wanted to hold Jack to her forever. She never wanted to let him go and longed to end his search and reveal the treasure he was seeking. Something complete and whole that could fill the core of emptiness he banished from eyes blind to the invisible.

The stalled moment was just enough for her heated breath to bring upon her torturous elation, a single drop of melted liquid on the quivering curve drifting down the side of her neck. "I think, he might be close to finding it, if only...he had a little more light to see..." Jack murmured slyly.

His lips parted with leisure, an even whisper flowing out into the atmosphere.

"Flower gleam and glow..."

Strands of blond were slowly being glossed with a glittering saffron hue, streaks of light cascading through locks that laid around them upon the ice. "...Let your powers shine." Those eyes of mischief were quaking her apart slowly, chapped lips she'd painted with her fingers calling her attention from the subtle dart of a wetting tongue. "Make the clock reverse bring back what once was mine." The rolling baritone of her song uttered from his lips was powerful, sinking a gentle vibration into her skin.

His face neared down toward her as he lingered there, icy rims a mere staggering breath from her own. "Heal what has been hurt."

He knew she could feel his heart beating out of control as softened digits swept him in closer to her. "Change"-his index curled upward to gently lift her chin-"the fates design." He turned his palm around to cup her cheek, lips aching from the empty space between them and caressing in the same manner she had done with him earlier.

"Save what has been lost bring back what once was mine." Her lips parted inhaling every breath that graced their surface as they dared to trace subtle caresses upon his own. He wished he could calm the raging organ in his chest that betrayed him, certain he had nothing that could hide his longing to meet the soft skin frozen in a sweetened offering before him. Just one little movement was all it would take.

"What once was...mine." A warmth surrounded them both as her glowing hair reflected off the silver ice, illuminating and severing every trace of darkness around them. He'd only need to dip his head down just a fraction of an inch and he could taste the unknown honeyed ecstasy of her tender lips. He felt chained in place, wholly her prisoner in willing surrender. She need ask him anything, even as far as carrying her to the moon and back and he would deliver if only to be graced with one sweet kiss.

Rapunzel could feel the dewy moisture lingering upon her lips, trembling with every eager intake of oxygen. He could take it no longer, couldn't hold back and rein himself in place. The agony was too strong, the piercing longing anchored him to curves of pink traced with his melting design. He wanted this more than life itself now, everything strained empty to have one and only one present need.

"Rapunzel..." His parted lips slowly separated, painting an icy breath upon them, and throughly chilling the surface. Even if he couldn't admit it to himself he could still see it, see how he crumbled before her simple breaths, and she made him new and whole with every smile. Those things, they meant more than a simple attachment, more than a desire he felt to be close to her simply because she was his only companion.

No.

It was the way her cheeks dotted with freckles lit up when he held her hand, the beauty of her golden hair that shined brighter than the sun itself, her smile that shot him straight to the heart and made him foolish, her laugh that evoked a spring of happiness within him on command, her pout that brought the foreign word 'cute' to his mind, and her stubbornness that made her determined to never give up on anything...to never give up on him. All those things were caught in his heart and mind and couldn't retreat for anything. They made his lips dare to let words escape them, fearful words that brought change and could carry heartache but his vocal cords were working against him releasing a single letter that would start him on that path not yet traveled.

"I..." Her delicate shiver snapped the last thread of woven doubt laced with pains of the past and he hurriedly lifted her cupped cheek, fiercely capturing her lips within in his own. He was immediately lost by the softness of them. Her lips were peppering a warmth through him from head to toe, shocking joy and bliss into his core from the inside out. A warm hand gripped the fabric of his hoodie, fluttering eyelids glancing at him before slowly falling closed. She longed for him do this, she had wanted to feel his kiss more than anything.

Her warmth encompassed him as her jaw swept upward to move her lips in a delicate sweep against his own. Her fingers wrapped around the side of his neck as she pulled him in closer, their interlaced digits gripping even tighter as they began a sweeter dance than ever before. He turned his head to indulge more, delighting in the taste of the flowery rose petals that careened upon him in a delicate joining of blessed intimacy.

"Mmnm..." He couldn't hold in the sound of elation, curving fingers through illuminating strands of liquid gold that poured in an even glissade upon his palm. Her full lips were upon his for the first time. He'd always hated the thought of being trapped to live forever but in this moment as her lips curved in response to his, he could see his curse as an eternal blessing.

He was hers, completely and fully to ruin with one tiny smile. All of his soul longed for nothing more than to be here like this, kissing her honeyed lips until his mind lost reality. The feeling of heat spread further throughout Jack's being the cool chill from his frigid body temperature sending more goosebumps to rise from her skin.

His fingers caressed through her golden strands as he evenly angled her head up to deepen his lingering kisses each time he engaged in the smooth motion of releasing her tender plumping skin.

"J-Jack..." Her light whisper of his name was silenced by his returning lips, a sweeping pressure drawing away any words she could think to speak. He let out a purring growl of elation at the sound of his name on her lips, painting her fullness with each press of meticulous design. Even such a wonderful sound wouldn't stop him from exploring her tender mouth. He had to deliver it, had to tell her in these motions words that were on the tip of his tongue. The surface of his lips was delightfully callous but he managed to make her long for more with every tender joining that occurred.

Dipping in his nose nuzzled against hers as he swept across the sweet expanse with every flex of his jaw, catering to her lips a gentle ferocity that only he could deliver. The longing for oxygen was tugging on him now, even he needed to relive the aching need in his lungs he didn't care. He strained just a little longer, reluctance keeping him there peppering her lips in delicate quickened touches that hated the thought of retreat. Tracing her quivering lips once more they parted catching his own one last time before he finally released her, them both panting lightly for breath.

The emotions fighting through Jack's barriers had crashed to the forefront, no longing wanting to battle or tousle with his inner needs. He wanted her. He needed her. He couldn't survive unless he breathed her very essence in and a realization overcame him, blazing one thought in his mind more than anything else.

'I love Rapunzel.'

Mic Mic: Do I have excuses? Actually yes I do! But I'm going to save them and just say I'm sorry you guys Ohhh but I'm sorry! Sorrier than anything because I legit meant to get this out to you sooner! My positive is that it's 16 pages long. That's something right? And the romance heated up like I promised! I'm sad cause like originally I was faithfully updating this every week and now I had like a 4 month hiatus. Heh this ain't Once Upon a Time! But I'm gonna try guys and get the next chapter up soon. Please forgive me for taking so terribly long to update. I hope the writing is still good and everything! Please review and tell me what you think