It was one of these days again. Sure, they all got into arguments from time to time, like Bunnymund with North whenever the other denied the importance of the other one's holiday, but this time it wasn't about the Australian bunny and the Russian gift bringer or about whether Easter held more importance than Christmas.

This time it was about one of Jack's latest wrongdoings. Tooth, Sandy and even the Easter Bunny flinched as North's booming voice managed to penetrate through the door of his workshop, roaring at a not any less angry winter spirit going by the name of Jack Frost.

"I told you a thousand times: We 'ave to protect the children and not endanger them any further!"

"Well and I told you a thousand times already that I am sorry! What do you want me to do? It's not like there is anything to be done anymore. I am just glad that I managed to prevent the worst to happen!"

Tooth looked worriedly at Sandy next to her, the Sandman shaking his head slowly. This was something their unofficial leader had to sort out, an argument in which they were not to interfere. Bunnymund began to tap his large feet irritably, looking worried.

If he could, he would get into that room and stand up for the kid for once. He had been there when it had happened. He knew it was an accident and he knew that Jack was right: He had done all in his might and it had luckily ended in a small instead of a big disaster.

Of course he had yelled plenty at the boy too and he had seen that Jack felt guilty enough for his face to turn ashen with nausea that the feeling caused him. He had stopped there. Jack had understood.

But it seemed as though North was once again not agreeing with the Easter spirit on a different level.

They were jostled out of their thoughts by an even louder yell, much louder than the ones before, positively startling yetis and elves alike and making them pause in what they were doing. Unfortunately the first part was lost to them because of the resonance of the walls surrounding the two occupants of the workshop.

"… someone as irresponsible as you!"

"Don't you dare go there! You know nothing about him!", Jack's voice was cold but the fury in it would probably have melted the biggest block of ice.

The remaining Guardians tried to strain their ears as the voices grew quiet, through fully confused as to what was now going on inside. There was a sudden silence and without a warning frost and ice exploded from inside the room. The wind howled, like a dying animal and in a flurry they saw the door crashing open, a boy with a blue hoodie shooting out on the corridor and disappearing through an open window leaving in his wake frosted ground and air so cold it hurt your lungs to breathe in.

Shocked the Guardians looked at each other before charging into North's sanctuary. There was not an inch without snow and ice covering the dark wooded walls and floor. Things on shelves had come tumbling down crashing upon impact with the ground and amidst the chaos stood North aghast. But what worried them more than his bewilderment was the shame that contorted his face.

This time North had overstepped his boundaries.

"Talk to us, mate. We gotta know what happened!", Bunny pressed urgently as Father Christmas trudged through the halls of his domain ignoring him and the other legends while shouting orders at some of the more panicky yetis.

He had been unapproachable after his fall out with Jack, refusing vehemently to answer their inquiries and inspecting the damage caused by their youngest recruit. A scowl adorned his face and made anyone coming across him shy away instinctively. It was hard to remember the last time when the Guardian of wonder had been this furious.

Having had enough, Tooth swished past him and forced North to come to a sudden halt in front of her. Feathers bristled menacingly she hovered at eye-level with the large man, blocking passage, her wings beating at a faster pace.

"Nicolas St. North, stop playing around and tell us what happened inside that room.", Tooth usually wasn't one to get angry but North's stubbornness and her worry for Jack made her edgy and both Sandy and Bunny recoiled slightly for they knew that when Tooth got mad it tended to end up pretty badly for whoever had gotten on her bad side…or stood in her way. She wasn't the guardian for something as important as memories for nothing.

For a tense moment both spirits looked each other in the eye, Bunnymund and Sandman inwardly preparing to step in if things got out of hand. To their surprise the Russian just sighed loudly, averting his gaze from the Fairy and almost gently shoved her aside with one of his big hands, going down the corridor reaching the fireplace and seating himself of the red armchairs that Jack so much loved to relax in, burying his head in his hands.

For a second their stunned gazes followed the man, Tooth even forgetting to be angry and cautiously approached him. North looked like someone carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders but he did not make any attempts at enlightening them about his ailment.

Having had enough with waiting and seeing a man as fierce and proud as North reduced to this, Sandy lightly tapped at the man's leg drawing his attention towards him. As North's eyes met with Sandy's stern ones, he nodded and sat up.

"So you gonna talk or not?", Bunny asked ears flat against his head. He did not want the others to see them twitching incessantly in irritation. This whole issue was eating away at his already short temper.

North inhaled, clenching and unclenching his jaw as though the words inside his move did him physical harm. After a short struggled he managed to breathe out:

"I have made terrible mistake."

Bunny gave a cry of exasperation. "Oh, really now? Yeah, and I was sure everythin' was dandy!"

Both Tooth and Sandman threw him a look, showing that although they understood his annoyance and shared his feelings it wasn't helping the issue any. But North seemed not to have heard him and if he did he covered it up pretty well. He stood from the chair and began pacing around giving off an irritable vibe.

"I was so angry. He never listens and he is not even trying to make change."

His pacing became more frantic as his talk became more of a rant:

"He is not controllable, hot headed, why Manny made him winter spirit I don't understand and causes so much trouble. I menya vsegda nada smotret esli on koye chto-to…*"

"Uhm, North, language.", Tooth interjected, smiling tentatively actually not wanting to interrupt North when he was trying to vent his frustration in another way than ignoring them. Although they all were many hundred years old, that did not mean they were masters of all languages, even if they understood the basic of most of them, Tooth being the exception for she knew all languages fluently. Still she was very conscious of both Bunny's and Sandy's looks of confusion.

The man stopped, brows furrowed in confusion until he realized what he had been doing. A hand wiped at his face before stroking at his long white beard. For a while he did not say anything and it did not seem like he would begin anew any time soon.

As Bunnymund was about to blow off some steam verbally, Sandy began to conjure different images above his head in quick succession, trying desperately to convey a message. For someone still relatively new like Jack, who'd only been around them for about seven months now, it would have been too quick to follow but for the older Guardians it was no problem to keep up with the insane pace of the pictures: a snowflake for Jack, clouds with thunderbolts as a sign of trouble, a hunched over form for representing North at the moment, a boiling pot for arising anger and a crying child for sadness and finally a question mark.

It was not hard to understand.

Again that ashamed look haunted the man clad in red. Having had enough with the pity party, Bunnymund crossed the room till he was "face to face" with his friend and comrade, straightening the most he could with the difference in height.

"I know ya' like that kid and I sure as hell know that he can be a real pain in the arse but what happened wasn't his fault, mate.", he stopped shaking his head a bit; "Okay, so maybe it was kinda his fault but he's already understood he made a mistake. Heck, I shouted at him way before ya' did. The question is, what did ya' say to him to upset him this much?"

He waved his paws around making them look at the bit of frost that still decorated walls and the floor but was slowly melting away.

North looked at each of their faces. His guilt just tripled as he told them.

"I told you a thousand times: We 'ave to protect the children and not endanger them any further!"

"Well and I told you a thousand times already that I am sorry! What do you want me to do? It's not like there is anything to be done anymore. I am just glad that I managed to prevent the worst to happen!"

Jack was glaring openly at him, blue eyes ablaze, holding his staff with his right while his left hand clenched in anger. The young Guardian had done something so stupid North couldn't even put it into words and now he was standing here arguing with him like he would with a little kid.

In the last few months after having defeated Pitch Black and getting accustomed with his new life, Jack had once again fully returned to his mischievous ways. It was something North would enjoy from time to time (especially if it involved a certain bunny) but this time the boy he often saw as his own son had gone too far.

He'd been reckless and because of this recklessness he had not only endangered Bunnymund but a child as well and North could not let it slip. Jack was a Guardian now and as such he had to conduct like one even if he was representing fun.

He kneaded the bridge of his nose with his fingers looking at the young adult. That was as what he wanted to see him at the moment. Not the child Jack but the adult Jack, the one who should simply know that he had done something wrong.

"Jack, this is serious. It can't be ignored.", he repeated making emphasis on what might happen if he let his powers get out of control again.

To his great displeasure he found the boy looking anywhere but him, boredom clearly etched on his face. He seemingly was done talking.

North felt anger surge inside of him. All he did was care about the boy's well-being and he still refused to take him seriously after all the time they had spent together. He stomped one of his foots on the ground startling the youngster.

"Just what kind of father does not have enough control of his children for them to turn into someone as irresponsible as you?"

He did not know why he had shouted these words. Maybe because he was angry with himself for not having enough authority over Jack. Maybe because Jack did not acknowledge his efforts in trying to be like family for him.

Anyway, these words got him a reaction albeit not the one he would have wished for.

The air around them suddenly grew cold. Jack was looking at the window now, a look crossing his face that North could not remember ever seeing on anyone.

"Don't you dare go there! You know nothing about him!", he hadn't shouted as loud as him but his voice was still loud enough to be heard outside.

What came next, was something North was sure he would probably regret for the rest of his life but he was unable to stop the words coming from his mouth:

"Maybe, but no father could ever be proud of you."

He had intended to say "of what you did" but it was too late already as he realized in horror. Jack's eyes met his and what North saw broke his heart. The boy's eyes were wide, filled with sadness and desperation. He looked as if he had seen Sandy being shot by Pitch all over again. Then the next second blinding rage contorted his features and snow and ice burst into every direction.

There was silence as North finished head once again cradled in his hands.

Bunnymund was the first to voice his thoughts: "Oh, sweet mother of…Please, tell that this is a joke."

He turned around a paw covering his furry face. Tooth and Sandy both seemed unable to respond. If anyone ever would have asked, they would have told them that North was a good man through and through who'd never hurt his friends. Well, intentionally at least.

North was quite aware that with that simple sentence he might have shattered most of the hard earned trust he and the other Guardians had gained from the boy over this short time that they had spent together. And he had thought he was done crying after Sandy's death, but right now he felt like going at it again.

Tooth reached out towards his shoulder and squeezed it gently making the man look up at her. There was some sort of silent understanding as to why he had been so angry but her gaze was firm as she spoke.

"You have to apologize.", there was no room for arguments. Has he turned towards the other two, he just saw them nodding back at him. North sighed once again and stood up.

"You are right.", his eyes fell on the globe, "But where to look?"

"It might be safe to guess that he's at home.", Bunny retorted. The limp wasn't as evident as a few hours ago but he still favored his left leg."Since we're done here, I'll be on my way. See you."

And with a tapping of his slightly injured paw he disappeared into a hole in the ground towards his warm warren. A few minutes later Tooth and Sandy also bid their good-bye and left the man alone in the round room. As he got ready to go meet with Jack, he just hoped that the spirit would not freeze him upon sight.

As he came up behind a tree, North couldn't help but think that maybe Bunny knew the boy too well. It was early November, so the chill Jack had brought with him was not unusual for the town. A thin coating of ice was covering the small lake, the hooded figure sitting at its shore breaking the ice with the crooked end of his staff and refreezing the spot, like a wound being torn open and healing in fast forward.

North went on and came to a halt next to his fellow Guardian awed at how the moon made the floral frost patterns Jack had conjured look even more splendid. Jack stopped cracking the ice but avoided looking at the man next to him.

The silence stung both of them but both were too stubborn to make the first step, yet both feeling they ought to. A mumble left Jack's mouth and North turned towards the boy who still hid his face behind blue fabric.

"I'm sorry for Bunnymund and the kid hitting that tree. I never would have thought our ice-sledding-race would get out of hand like this."

North stared ahead, feeling relieved he had not been the first one to have to break the silence and feeling sheepish for it at the same time. He was the older one; he ought to make the first step in this situation and not Jack.

Crossing his arms a bit he nodded and finally managed to pry his eyes from the reflective surface and towards the teenaged adult.

"It's good you came to realize that.", Jack seemed to deflate some more but he looked up surprised at what came next, "But that's not the only reason why I come. I came to apologize too."

He smiled amicably at the boy, who studied his face with wide eyes like a child's.

"I was angry and I said things that I do not think or believe in.", he said honestly. Jack couldn't possibly know what he had thought to say at the time but it was beside the point. Bunny had been right: Jack was already aware of what he had done and he had apologized – even to the one who had had nothing to do with the incident directly.

Flustered Jack began digging up some dirt on the ground with the end of his staff. He was not so good with apologies, no matter if he had to ask for them or was being given one.

They just stayed there for a few more moments, the tension not as bad as it had been before.

"You were right when you said my father would not be proud of me.", Jack said in a small voice as North listened.

Jack exhaled and pulled his hood back, revealing his melancholic face.

"He was not a bad man. He was strong and caring and he loved me and my sister very much, I know that, but he was never really proud of his trickster son who'd spend his time playing with the kids instead of properly going out to hunt. Out of the two of us he loved Pippa the most."

There was no resentment or even jalousie as he told North about his past but the hurt still was evident.

"Pippa was always fulfilling her chores properly, never got into trouble with the other people in our village unlike Jackson Overland Frost. It didn't bother me though. My mother understood me somewhat, maybe because I got that mischievous streak from her."

He smiled a little as he thought about how she made sure he and Pippa took good care of their teeth. He sighed and North couldn't help but think that it was sad that Jack never got the chance to prove otherwise.

Ignorant of the larger man's thoughts Jack just went on, laughing mirthlessly:

"It's ironic that the only thing that he probably ever was proud of was me saving my sister by breaking through the ice myself." And drowning in the process. He added silently in his mind.

North put one of his large hands on Jack's shoulders and looked deep into those blue eyes.

"It is tragic, that you had to lose your life and I do not know about your father but I tell you: I am proud of person you are even if you make mistake. We all do.", he said kindly, still holding the boy's shoulder.

Even if they were still a long way to go and even if there still would be days where they would not see eye to eye, they knew that they and their little group was the closest they could get to a caring family.

And both of them appreciated that idea.

* " And I always have to look if he did someth…"