Finding the Truth
Summary: 2nd in 'Infinity'. Rough housing in the warren comes with a price, discovery and harsh truths. Bunny realizes that just because everything seems fine, it's not always the case.
Author Note: THIS, monstrosity (6,000+ and 13 pages) was brought to you by the following:
Vitamin Water, the 5 albums by Disturbed and the word Procrastination
Respectfully of course. Here is the long awaited and much demanded installment of my little Ficverse involving Bunny and Jack! Enjoy.
E. Aster Bunnymund isn't known for being the most patient or compassionate of the Guardians when it comes to situations not pertaining to children. His abrasive nature stems from eons of teasing and crude comments regarding his shape. He's learned to be sarcastically vicious to other spirits and has since learned not to apologize of feel remorse for his words or actions.
But, he is not a heartless creature.
After all, he is a Guardian and wouldn't be one if he didn't hold some place in his heart for children.
Even if that child happens to be a three hundred year old spirit named Jack Frost.
Bunnymund can't recall the exact moment when the playful teasing and rough housing between the fun loving winter spirit, the stone egg golems and himself went so wrong. None the less the outcome can't be changed and he has to address the fact that the youngster is now pressed into one of the massive moss covered boulders gasping for air frantically.
"Jack?" he implores giving the stone eggs a vicious gesture to move away from the area before turning his attention back to the trembling youngster. Bunny observes for a moment taking in the way the spirit is clutching his chest, eyes closed and a soundless scream tearing his lips apart.
"C'mon mate… say something." He tries again, worry gnawing at his stomach that the play he'd engaged in only moments before severely injured the rambunctious teen. Jack doesn't say anything just takes several deep shuddering breathes before pressing himself further into to stone.
"Mh… my sta-fff." He gasps and without a moment's hesitation the older spirit sets out frantically searching the area. He quickly moves away from where the teen is huddled and zeros in on the area the rough housing had taken place.
He groans softly
Amongst the tall bladed grass is Jack's conduit of power and single possession
The shaft mangled and broken into multiple splinters by a large stone foot
Bunny flattens his ears sadly and bends to gather up the splintered staff when a cold wind races past his nose, whipping his fur dangerously as the temperature within the warren drops. Glancing over his shoulder he's started to find Jack standing- wavering slightly but upright from his curled position and moving forward at a slip shot pace. Bunny winces for the spirit as he moves, left arm stretched over his chest protectively causing his shoulders to slump. Thick bruising and bleeding scrapes ring the thin ankles from where the golems had held the wriggly and flexible youth.
"Don't touch it!" he snarls; the arctic tone and rapidly dropping temperature forcing the embodiment of Easter to back away at the youngsters approach.
"Easy mate… take it easy now." Bunny tries to amend but the narrowed silver gaze doesn't waver from the staff lying in the grass. With a groan and grimace the winter spirit drops to his knees in the grass, narrowly face planting onto the splinters of his beloved staff but catches himself on a trembling arm. For several moments the only sound is Jack's labored breathing and the brook bubbling nearby.
"Ih.. I need you to create a tunnel to the surface." Jack breathes as he gathers up the splintered staff. Bunny cocks an eyebrow at the request.
"Jack, mate. We can fix it… I can try to grow one.." he trails off as the icy wind blows stronger and silvery eyes glare in his direction.
"I can fix it. I don't need your help." He grinds out and as if he has to prove it the spirit sets to putting the staff-splintered parts and all- back together, sealing each decimated part with frost so the wood is held together tentatively before sitting back on his heels and resting with his eyes closed. Bunny moves a pace closer but stops as silver eyes open and narrow dangerously. He has seen this response before in his years of setting eggs for the children of the world, it's the same look a potentially dangerous animal looks before it strikes, it's a warning that Bunny has learned to not push so he stops and holds his paws up in what he hopes is a calming gesture.
Jack is in survival mode and willing to do whatever is needed to remain alive
"I'll stay right here." He promises and simply sits completely still on his haunches. Eyes that are hardened into mirrored silver pools- lacking the steely blue Bunny desperately finds himself wanting to return- turn back to his staff. With one final deep shuddering breath the teen places both hands on the mangled branch, fingers splayed. Bunny holds his breath, waiting for a miracle- waiting for magic.
Jack's shoulders heave as he breathes heavily, eyes wide as they frantically move over the surface of the wood, searching desperately for the repairs he wants to have happened.
"Jack, Jack listen to me mate…" Bunny begins but is cut off with a hoarse cry from the teen accompanied by a flurry of motion cause the words to die in his mouth. Jack is suddenly moving, his hands gripping the staff. Wind viciously snaps back from the staff as a blue light radiates from the broken wood. Jack lets out a shout and suddenly the wind is being sucked backward, the force pulling Bunny's ears from their pinned position as the trees close by bend towards the staff held aloft in Jack's freezing grip. The blue light that had been radiating out from the staff suddenly explodes along the wooden shaft, expanding through the fibers.
Then suddenly it's over.
The trees return to their upright position
The only sound in the warren is bubbling of the nearby brook and-
Bunny's eyes widen
Jack was slumped on his front in the grass, lithe body boneless with his arm outstretched grasping a fully intact staff.
"Oi frostbite.. frostbite?" he questions, moving forward a few steps to lay his large paw on the narrow shoulder. Nervous tension curls in his stomach as the lithe spirit doesn't slap his hand away while cracking a joke.
"Jack?" he implores once more "C'mon mate, this isn't time for joking." He laughs in an attempt to lighten the situation-mostly to alleviate the tension curling throughout his body. Gently he turns the spirit over and suddenly the tension constricts his heart instead of his whole body. Grabbing the body he pulls it close and makes for the nearest tunnel intent on getting to North as fast as his legs can move.
The blood soaking into his fur forcing him to move faster than he thought possible
North was sitting at his private work bench tinkering with a new child's toy he's hoping to introduce for next year's production cycle. His long beard is braided to keep the long whiskers out of the paints, solvents and soldering tools littering the worktop. He hums in time with an aged Russian record playing on the ancient player above the grand fireplace. Easter was just over six days ago and already the Yetis were ramming up output of toys and goodies for the next Christmas, North developing new ideas and schematics to keep the children happy.
"Now my little creation… dazzle me with your brilliance." He breathes, setting the two Duracell batteries into the power pack on the toys underside. Replacing the safety hatch the master toymaker sets the item right side up and flips the switch before sitting back and holding his breath.
North purses his lips in disappointment
"Blasted thing, why won't you do as you're supposed to?" He mutters in annoyance and tinkers with the toy for a few more minutes before setting the would be Christmas sensation down on the bench with a grumbling remark in Russian when suddenly the door to his private chamber bangs open, startling the toymaker.
"NORTH!" Bunny shouts, his breathing coming in ragged gasps as he barrels into the workroom. North scrambles to his feet as the Pooka frantically explains why he's at the Pole to begin with, his words merging together as he gasps for air.
"Bunny, calm down my friend I can hardly understand you." North attempts but Bunny quickly spins, narrowly tripping over his own feet and that's the first time the former adventurer sees the small form carried in the Easter spirits arms.
"What happened!?" North roars and grabs the other Guardian by the shoulders, forcefully directing his friend over to the couch in front of the fire. With a forceful shove from North the Pooka falls into the high backed velvet chair just as Jack's limp form is easily removed from the other Guardians arms to be laid out on the couch. North glances over at his long eared friend and finds darkened green eyes staring numbly at the body of the young spirit. Jack's prone form is sickly pale, his skin lacking the bluish tint, deep red stains show where blood had been expelled from the youngling's ears and nose. North takes in the evidence but disregards it as he presses one ear to Jack's chest, listening closely.
North gives a sigh of relief at the sign of the slow heartbeat of his young friend. Although unbearably slow it's a heartbeat none the less. Next the large spirit check the boys breathing, finding the air wheezing but steady and rocks back on his heels giving a silent thank you.
"Bunny, what happened?" North asks thickly, turning to look at the Pooka who is slumped over in the chair, his ears drooping sadly as his paws tremble.
"Is he alright?" Bunnymund asks as if he didn't even hear the larger spirit. North glances back over at the winter spirit on the couch.
"He appears to be alright, the blood is dried. We wait for him to wake up." North supplies confidently and Bunny relaxes back into the chair as if all fight has left the warrior's body.
"Let me get you some coco my friend, then we shall talk of what brings you and Jack to my home in this condition." North comments and at Bunny's exhausted nod the spirit moves away to gather his special brand of coco, a sweet mix of white chocolate and mint. He allows the usually unfailing and composed Bunnymund the few moments of peace to gather his thoughts before retelling his tale. Glancing back towards his friends North can't help but feel the angry confusion at how Jack Frost came to be in such a shape. It's been a year since Jack and North had their bonding session and their relationship—although strained at times—was more solid than any of the any relationships Jack had managed to form with the other Guardians. During the summer months North would find the young winter spirit asleep on the exposed beams in his private workshop. It took some convincing but eventually the tentative trust between the two formed enough for North to provide the lonely teen with a more comfortable place to rest when he came to the North Pole.
"Here my friend. Drink and relax then tell me what happened when you're ready." North coaxes, pressing the mug of hot coco into the slack paws before pulling the workbench chair over to where he can sit comfortably beside Jack's head. Moving into the back room North gathers up several items including a bowl of tepid water before returning to the workroom and sitting down beside the unconscious teen.
"Now, let me see what we have here." He mutters, analyzing the blood as if it were a drafted plan for a new toy. Wordlessly nodding to himself the master toymaker sets to work cleaning up his young friend, scrubbing lightly at the pale skin even as the youth's naturally cold skin freezes the water being used.
"We were playing around… the kid dropped by and got caught by the golems." Bunny begins then halts, his gaze growing distant as North continues to work at cleaning up Jack's face.
"The little bloke was fighting back against the golems when I arrived and I joined in. It was a bit of a game." He smiles a bit at this and North gives a soft chuckle knowing how much of a ruckus the two guardians can cause when they both are in a gaming mood.
North had to throw the two out of the production halls multiple times
"Then… I think one of the golems stepped on his staff- he managed to lose it and it got underfoot. North the kid screamed like I have never heard before. The golem dropped him but the… impact isn't what injured him, he was hurt before that." His words are tinted with anger directed mostly towards himself as he stares into the flames. North continues his work, noticing that although it wasn't the tumble from the grip of the stone sentinels the impact with the ground did cause some damage to the teen.
"Bunny, come here and help me remove his sweatshirt. The wheezing is worrisome; I would like to check his ribs." North explains and wordlessly the Pooka leavers himself out of the chair and over to the couch, the expression on his face once of pure hopelessness.
"My friend, you and I know that Jack is hardier than one would think. Your worry shows you are sorry. The fact that you carried him the whole way here shows you have taken responsibility for actions you were not able to control. Now, stop analyzing the past and help me help him." North demands sternly, allowing the hard edge from his former days and the other quickly moves to comply. Gently the two wrangle the scrawny guardian out of his oversized hoodie and undershirt leaving the youngling bare chested.
"Holy Dooley, what happened to him?" Bunnymund exclaims sadly from where he's holding the kids narrow shoulders up from the couch as North gently probes the blossoming bruising along the pale skin of the winter spirit's ribs.
"Nothing broken, Jack's going to be sore for a while but he will be up and back to his terrorizing ways soon." North assures before spreading a sweet smelling green paste across the bruising.
"You can lay him back down." North commands and slowly the kid is placed back to his original position.
"North. What happened to him?" Bunny demands, the warrior edge coming back to his voice as North wipes the paste off his hands before looking sadly down at the resting youngster now looking more like himself with all the blood cleared away. Beneath the oversized sweatshirt the three hundred year old Guardian of Fun is a scrawny, narrow bodied youngster covered in scrapes, scars and dings from centuries of being picked on by older and more established spirits. The body attached to the cocky attitude, mischievous grin and sarcastic words displays a life of hardships during his time as a mortal and abuse and neglect as an immortal.
"Come with me, we will let the boy rest." North instructs and after draping the silver haired spirit with one of the knitted wool blankets the two older spirits step away to where they can talk. Leading the Pooka down the steps from the private workshop North stops upon the sight of Jack's hooked staff leaning against the wall innocently.
"It was broken…. Splintered and the little bloke fixed it." Bunny explains softly, picking the wooden relic from the 1700s up and staring at it in amazement, lost in his thoughts. North turns and kneels to address two of nearby elves who scamper up to the workshop to carry out their orders before turning to listen to the other guardian's story.
"I didn't think he could do it… but I don't know what happened exactly. There was a flash of light an-and wind then it all seemed to implode" Bunny makes several wild gestures with his hands and arms narrowly missing the larger spirit. "then-then the kid slumps over and does the hold death act…" he rambles out quickly, paws moving shakily over his long ears in a nervous gesture.
"My friend, you did what you could. The boy is fine, when he wakes you will see." North tries to soothe but the Easter spirit is too worked up, his shoulders tense and heaving.
"No, he won't be fine. Nothing is FINE with that kid!" Bunny roars, causing North to raise his hands in a calming gesture but the grey furred guardian is on a rant.
"You didn't see him North, he was… he was terrifying. His eyes they were dead North." Ears plastered so tightly to his skull Bunnymund places his paws on the polished brash safety rail overlooking the second floor where Yetis were hard at work, their grumbling conversations mingling as they work unaware of the crisis happening above them.
"I've looked down the muzzle at bigger, meaner spirits and barely flinched but that…. I've never seen someone so angry and defensive. He … he." Bunny's words caught in his throat and for a moment the Pooka couldn't breathe against the tightness in his chest. The realization of what he'd seen dawning on him, the understanding draining all strength from his muscles.
"He didn't trust you to help him." North supplies quietly, sadness lining his words and slowly Bunny nods, staring down at the Yetis but not really seeing them.
"He… doesn't trust me."
"Did you really expect him too? This quickly? After three hundred years of solitude that boy still believes the only one he has to rely on is himself. It's all he's ever known- that and the unkindness and cruelty of others." North lectures, his tone sharp and words direct.
"You, yourself caused the youngster much grief I remember. The past he has with you isn't the most stellar my friend… the fact that Jack even voluntarily entered the warren is a testament to his desire to at least try." North continues and Bunny's ears press further against his skull at the blunt truth of his previous encounters with the mischievous spirit, chasing him around and exchanging hateful words. At the time Bunnymund was annoyed and hurt that his holiday had been ruined by the nameless upstart.
He had said vicious things to the youngster and disregarded the reactions to those words
Yes, Jack Frost can be irritatingly spiteful in his retorts but the cruel words and malevolent displays of his power were his defense mechanism… Bunny signs and shakes his head.
Why didn't he see it sooner?
"Blaming yourself will not help the situation at hand. The past is the past my friend, we must accept that how we treated Jack in the past has shaped him into what he is today. However, it is through our actions now we can change his future. It's already happening in small ways, the healing has begun but one doesn't simply heal neatly and easily after three hundred years. You should know this, how long did it take for you to harden your hide to the kangaroo remarks?" he laughs a bit there and Bunnymund can't help but give a mirthless chuckle.
"I think it will be some time before Jack awakens, the amount of power needed to repair this is immense." North admires the staff, turning the solid branch over in his grasp.
"He mentioned that in the battle with Pitch" Bunnys words catch in his throat once more at the memory of the harsh treatment Jack suffered at that moment but clears the catch away and continues " that he fixed it after Pitch snapped it in half."
"That is right; he did mention that in passing didn't he? So he knew he would be able to repair it." North nods to himself still running his large hands over the rough wood, feeling the areas where the woods had been split. There are scars in the wood, healed but still visible of the past abuse.
"This staff is not just Jack's conduit of power and abilities. It reflects the young man himself in some ways. Scarred but still whole, capable of being repaired given the right amount of determination and perseverance, yes this staff is just like the winter spirit." North muses and Bunny shakes his head, swiping the ancient branch from the older man's grasp.
"Do you ever just speak plain mate?" he asks callously but chuckles as North gives a deep belly laugh himself.
"When the situation calls for it, yes." He winks and moves off to peer over the railing at the work going on below.
"You know more about what's happened to him don't you?" Bunny implores, glancing sidelong at the former Cossack. North is working his thick fingers through the freshly unbraided beard and purses his lips in thought.
"I know that Jack was attacked through use of deception by Fall's minions- the Toads in particular. He thought they were his friends and when he let his guard down they dealt him numerous injuries. That is one of the worst attacks he's told me of. Several other spirits have used him as sport- often seeking him out for fun or out of boredom. Many of the scars you saw are the product of those attacks back when he didn't fully understand his abilities enough to fight back." North describes
"Now, however, young Jack has developed a reputation for himself as a worthy adversary to anyone who would challenge him. He developed the strength and skill we saw him fight with out of necessity, his grandeur as a warrior was born out of needing to learn to fight for himself. I can see why he was chosen as a Guardian, he will gladly put himself in danger to help those less able to defend themselves, because he was once in that position and no one was there to defend him"
"Except himself." Bunny finishes sadly.
"Well, that ends today." Bunny vows and with a curt nod in North's direction the Pooka turns on his heel.
"Where are you going?" North inquires although his gut is telling him he really doesn't want to know. Bunnymund stops and glances back at the larger spirit, his face a mask of pure stone and green eyes narrowed and hard.
"What should have been done centuries ago." He ground out and with a wave of his paw the Pooka is off, heading for the lower levels where he can produce a tunnel safely. With a hearty chuckle the master toymaker shakes his head and returns to his personal workshop. Upon entry he moves to sit in his chair and gazes over at the resting youngster. Sometime in his slumber the winter spirit managed to kick off most of the blanket, his skin taking on a healthy blue tint again as he rests comfortably.
"If you could only see the lengths we would all go through my young friend, to see that you are important to us and we are worthy of your trust." North whispers and settles into his chair to await the return of the rampaging Pooka.
Fall's minions were fairly easy to find.
Ridiculously easy actually, and once Bunnymund laid down the law with those cretins he asked to see their boss—which they humbly obliged since no spirit, minor or primary- liked being manhandled by their legs upside down while being told the exact recipe and preparations needed for a fantastic toad leg stew. Once inside Fall's lair Bunnymund released the sniveling minion, allowing it to scamper off without so much as a peep.
Now, Fall is clearly a season the mortals know as being the time of death and recession of the greenery, a season in which the plants prepare to hibernate during the winter months. For spirits, Fall is an aged and withered spirit that-in a former life- had to have been the hermit of the village. Fall is represented as a tall wiry man with harsh wrinkles pulling at his features, long unkempt hair and facial whiskers that rival the length of North himself.
But unlike North, Fall isn't a happy go lucky sort.
Fall hates everyone. Fall hates everything. He is dreary, moody and has the sense of humor akin to that of a coffin nail. But, the old spirit is crafty and wise and not a being to be trifled with on a whim.
Which is exactly why E. Aster Bunnymund waltzes right into his lair and starts his speech before the hermit spirit can even register that he's there.
"Now, listen here you sad excuse for a season. You've hurt a good friend of mine, a spirit by the name of Jack Frost. Does the name ring a bell? Yeah, he was chosen by MIM to be a guardian of the children and I've come to learn that your little toadies have attacked him before and have continued to terrorize him for the better part of three hundred years. I am here to tell you, that if I should hear of any other incidents involving you, or your toads here hurting him again for pleasure or causing him undue suffering I will be back to take the payment for any damage done out of your hide. You understand me mate?" he growls fiercely, allowing the anger to flow into his words as he stands before the season's chair of decaying branches, staring directly into his almost black eyes without flinching.
"My dear Bunnymund. I see the years haven't cooled that temper of yours a bit." Fall coolly replies and gives a mirthless grin in the Easter spirits direction. "I know very well of Jack Frost and his recent ascension from a lowly spirit to the prestige of Guardian, or have you forgotten that my brother rather enjoys flaunting the successes of his underlings in front of everyone?" he continues, voice accented with a dialect long dead to the world of mortals.
"I do not deny the- harassment—of your friend and nor will I apologize for my methods… in reality my brother expected it to happen. It's been several thousand years since a spirit that young has been born to our world and in all honesty my siblings and I didn't know what to do with him. Yes, the cuelty bestowed upon the boy were unusually harsh, but it is a reality that needed to be faced if he was to live up to what Man in Moon foretold him to become. There is much more at work here Bunnymund than you and the other- lesser spirits understand. You have entered a realm of understanding that the meagerness of your simplistic mind can barely comprehend." Bunny seethes with anger, annoyed that the older being would dare think of him as some simpleton. He is about to snarl back a retort when the season holds up one gnarled hand, the fingers long since taken on the appearance of bare tree branches and flicks the narrow wrist dismissively
"I have only carried out my orders… it is up to you and the other spirits you surround yourself with to finish what my siblings and I had started. The outcome is not for your knowledge at this time E. Aster Bunnymund so do not concern yourself with such trivial matters. Go now, before I choose between my sister Spring's wrath and the deliciousness of a rabbit dinner. Be assured that I have made you no promise of the spirit Jack Frost's safety, my bidding is commanded by forces far superior to you." He commands and Bunny, knowing he won't get any further with the seemingly passive season leaves the lair, emerging into the bright sunlight of Spring once more. Glancing around at the beauty of the thriving trees and plants the Easter spirit can't help but shudder at the idea that Spring—the Season in which he was employed could have caused harm to the silver haired winter spirit. He glances up at the bright sun and pale blue sky, the warm air ruffling his fur and whiskers as a small voice tickles the sensitive hair inside his ears
No my dearest… my brother Fall is wrong. I had nothing to do with the torment enacted upon your young friend. Winter and Fall are callous and angry men still stuck in a time when newly made spirits were hardier folk… that is why Man in Moon took the decision out of their hands and chose the mortal boy Jack….
Bunny blinks as the tickle ceases and the wind stops, leaving the field outside Fall's lair silent and unchanged. With a wordless thanks the Easter spirit quickly makes a tunnel and starts heading for Santoff Claussen and back to the young spirit he'd carried there only hours before.
Pushing the door open with a much more controlled force than before Bunnymund slips into North's private workshop and stops upon finding the Christmas spirit at his work bench chatting animatedly with a shape huddled into the window sill, still wrapped in the blanket they'd left draped over the sleeping Jack.
"Ah, so you've returned." North announces loudly, causing the figure on the sill to jump and Bunny to wince, but the Pooka nods to the other's observation.
"Yeah, I wanted to check in on Jack; see how he was doing." Bunnymund replies uneasily, suddenly unsure as he approaches the workbench and subsequently the windowsill the teen is resting on.
"Jack awoke not long ago with a headache but nothing too serious. He's feeling some pain from his injuries but will be fine in a few days." North explains in a bare whisper as he gets up from his bench chair to allow the Pooka a place to sit close enough to the youngster.
"I will go and see if Doris can make us all some of her special tea, that should help sooth your headache Jack." The large spirit comments awkwardly before all but fleeing from the room, leaving the Pooka and winter spirit along in the vast room. Taking the proffered chair Bunnymund collapses into it, suddenly drained from the frantic travel, worrying and exhaustive anger. The two sit in companionable silence for a few minutes before Bunnymund finally finds the courage to address the Guardian of Fun.
"Listen kid, I am sorry for your staff getting broken." He begins but a soft scoff is his only reply.
"You think I'm upset about my staff?" Jack questions and for a moment Bunny is taken aback at the teen's dismissal of the destruction of his sole possession.
"Umm… aren't you?" he hedges and a soft laugh accompanies the next reply
"No, not really. It's been broken before, fixed it. Same with this time." Jack dismisses and Bunny is at a loss for words and can't help but stare up at the ceiling for several long minutes, trying to wrap his head around the situation.
"You saw didn't you?" comes the quiet question and Bunny has to crane his neck to get a good look at the young spirit, his silvery blue eyes peeking out from behind the wool shield he's pulled up over his head as a quick replacement for his hood. It's an insecurities move, Bunny realizes, the withdrawing behind the safety of the blue hood to protect himself from the onslaught of abuse. Bunny lowers his ears and nods his head to the questions in a silent admission.
"I figured. North's been acting weird since I woke up and that green paste is starting to itch." He admits with a feeble squirm that ends up with the wool shield dropping to reveal the young spirits face. Bunny takes in the sight of the unguarded youth and in a quick movement repositions himself and the chair to fully face the teen, causing the silvery blue eyes to widen and shoulders to tighten with nerves as Bunny's paws move in to pull away the blanket.
"Wh- stop." Jack demands, trying to grab at the blanket to shield himself but his grip isn't fast enough and within minutes the blanket is pooled on the floor leaving the younger spirit's scarred torso fully exposed.
"Happy now?" Jack seethes, his eyes narrowing dangerously as Bunnymund takes in every scar and knick exposed to his green gaze.
"Tell me." He demands and the teen stares at the other, his mouth open as he struggles to come up with a reply.
"No." he replies simply and quickly the teen moves, uncoordinated and shaky but the boy is up and out of Bunny's reach and into the rafters before the Pooka and say anything. From the shadows of the rafter two silvery shards peer out, watching the other closely.
"Listen mate, we haven't had the greatest of history and I was wrong to think that you being made into a Guardian would erase that history and the words exchanged. Hell, even during the battle with Pitch I couldn't let go of my dislike of you long enough to see the real you. You're a hell of a warrior and I realize I should have recognized this earlier—said something earlier—but damn kid I am glad to fight alongside you and call you my friend." Bunny admits sadly, his ears drooping in shame of his actions or lack thereof in this case.
"I allowed the golems to take their fun too far, it was my fault your staff was broken." He continues and then stops
"It's probably my fault your staff was broken in the first place too. Driving you away like that." He admits and then falls silent. The only sound in the entire room is the crackle of the logs on the fire and the echoes from the production going on just beneath them. The two spirits sit for a while, once reclining in the chair beside North's workbench and the other stretched out along the beam high above. It's a comfortable silence, not strained or awkward but companionable. Bunny is satisfied with this small victory, spending time in the same room with the teen and not constantly being on edge for a prank or playful insult. His eyes grow heavy as the weariness that had been replacing the adrenaline finally seeps into his brain but snaps into full alertness at the quiet voice from above.
"The big scar on my forearm came from when I was still… alive. I was chased by my father's sow and almost made it to the fence when I tripped, sliced my arm on the hay pick we kept close by." The mental image of a young Jack being chased by a monstrous pig making the Pooka chuckle.
"It's not funny. She was mean!" Jack justifies with a laugh at his own expense, the memory obviously a happier one from his time as a living being. The mood grows somber for a moment but Bunny soon breaks it up with a story of his own.
"I had a similar incident, but instead of a sow it was a nanny goat. Mean, conniving little bugger it was. Caught me unawares and rammed me with its horns. I still have indents in my backside." Bunny laughs at the memory of the goat that had terrorized his egg planting at that particular farm for years. Above him Jack joins in his laughter.
"A lot of them… I don't remember getting. Even after looking at my memories from the teeth Tooth had… some of them I think I'll never know about. Like the strange shaped one over my knee." Jack admits and Bunny nods at the admission. Under his grey fur the Pooka knows there are scars, mostly from his battles as a Guardian and from his yearly struggles to hide eggs. The beauty of the fur is that hair grows back and eventually as the physical evidence fades so doesn't the memory of the defect. In Jack and North's case however, the scars are left exposed on flesh that can't grow fur. Bunny has seen some of North's from his mortal time, the reminders have ceased to cause him pain but the memories are still there. North has dealt with those memories and has used them to shape himself into something greater because of them.
"You know none of your scars matter to us right kid?" Bunny asks, glancing upward to where the teen is reclining bare chested above him. Although he is bathed in shadow Bunny can make out a few of the silvery imperfections, another anger inducing reminder to the injustices dealt to the Guardian.
"It's not that Bunny. It's the memories more so than the marks left behind. Sometimes I can feel the pain and still hear the words. Even though I know memories can't hurt any longer, it still hurts at times. It's in those moments I kind of loose myself, you know? I forgot who is standing in front of me and simply react." He explains and Bunny finds himself agreeing. The vacant look on Jack's eyes is a memory that will forever chill the warrior to his core.
"What if I hurt one of you- what if I hurt Jamie or one of the children? What if I react and the outcome is a whole lot worse?" he asks, words suddenly turning sad.
"I'm not going to let that happen." Bunny vows firmly
"You can't always be there." Jack retorts quickly
"No, but if you ever get into a situation you think you can't handle alone… all you have to do is call. Knock on a tree and yell my name, or do whatever you do to get ahold of North. Jack none of us—Tooth and Sandy included are going to allow anything to happen to you. Not anymore." He dictates, getting to his feet to gaze upward at the reclining youngster high above his head. For a moment Jack doesn't say anything, just simply gazes downward with a weary, confused look before a small mischievous smile lightens up his face.
"Knock on a tree you say?" he clarifies with a tint of something in his voice.
"Within reason you little bugger. If it's something to lure me to the surface for a prank or joke I will thrash you within an inch of your life." Bunny threatens lightly but the teen is already thinking up of situations that he couldn't possibly handle without Bunny
"What if a crocodile attacks me?"
"What? When will you be in an area where there are crocodiles?"
"You never know… global warming. It could happen!"
"Freeze it, make it a crocapop mate. Your crafty, figure it out."
Bunny moans and drops onto the couch in front of the fire, soon laughing at the outlandish ideas spouting from the youngster's imagination. North returns quietly from the doorway and observes the moment, three cups of tea steaming invitingly in his hands, trying hard not to laugh and join in but finding resistance is hard.
"Bunny, I think young Jack has a point with that one, what if he is indeed cast to the shores of Loch Ness and the monster does indeed find him rather fun to play with?" he joins in, earning a loud groan and curse from the Pooka and a loud whoop from Jack.
Things are getting better. Slowly.
Maybe Infinity isn't required after all.
Author Note: well, I hope you enjoyed that little journey into what I am calling 'the longest one shot I have ever written and will never do again'. I really dunno what I was doing when I forayed into introducing the seasons, but hey, it was a fun adventure wasn't it? My thought process was as such (imagine a triangle) MAN IN MOON – SEASONS - Primary Spirits (North, Bunny, Jack, Tooth, Sandy, Pitch) - lesser spirits/minions. Okay, make sense? Good. The SEASONS don't particularly like secondary spirits such as FALL doesn't like JACK and WINTER dislikes – Bunny (just never acts upon it 'cause let's face it, Bunny is a badass). Alright, so if you'd like to understand more of that just PM me, I hate clogging up stories with this long, rambling note. Anyway, hope you enjoyed it and please drop me a review! I have a few new story ideas involving… yeah. Just… yeah.. ALL HAIL PROCRASTINATION!