Disclaimer: I don't own Jack Frost, Bunnymund, or any other characters from the Rise of the Guardians universe, I just love them a lot!
Jack flew at full speed; the cold wind whipping past him, freezing his tears as they streamed down his face. His shoulder's shook from the force of his sobs, his breath coming as chocked gasps. He didn't know where he was going; anywhere was fine, as long as he was away from that rabbit. His mind replayed the scene over and over again, the rabbit's threatening poster, his ears pressed back in anger, the rage on his face as he'd screamed at Jack 'Get out of here! I never want to see you again!' The words rang in the winter spirits ears, causing his sobs to redouble their intensity. He hated the rabbit at the moment, he had never hated anybody more…but he loved him. He loved Bunnymund, and that's why he hated him. Nobody else in the entire world could hurt him as deeply or completely as the rabbit had.
Jack found himself flying a familiar path, and soon he was landing on the windowsill of the small house. He tapped on the window once with his staff, getting the attention of the solitary figure in the room. Moving quickly to the window it undid the latch and opened the window for the guardian.
"Jack, what happened!" Said Jamie, alarmed, his eyes growing wide at the distraught expression on the winter spirits face.
"B-b-bunny" Was all Jack could stammer out before he was over taken by sobs, his entire frame shaking from the force of his misery.
Jamie stepped forward, wrapping Jack in a tight hug. "It's ok, tell me what happened."
Jack looked up at the concerned face of his best friend. Jamie was nearly 20 years old now, home from school on Easter Break. They had remained friends after the guardian's defeated Pitch, and Jamie knew all too well of the trouble that plagued the relationship between his best friend and the Easter Bunny. This wasn't the first time Jack had come to Jamie, upset after a fight with Aster; it was however the first time Jack had shown up in such a state. Normally he was angry, or upset, never had he shown up looking so…defeated. That was the only word Jamie had to describe it. Jack looked completely and utterly crushed, beaten, like he didn't have any hope left in him.
Jamie held the sobbing guardian for a long time, until he had cried himself out. Finally, Jack pulled away from Jamie, his tears having stained the shoulder of the young man. "I'm sorry" he said "It's not your problem, I shouldn't be putting my problems on you" Jack said, getting up to leave.
Calmly Jamie stood, put his hand on Jack's shoulder, pushing him back down on the edge of his bed and took a seat next time him, "What happened?" he asked.
Jack took a deep breath, bringing the event of that day back to his mind once more.
Jack opened his eyes, blinking in the bright sunlight filtering in through the small skylight in the ceiling of Aster's Burrow. He smiled as he felt the soft fur against his cheek, the strong arms holding him, the slow rhythmic breathing of the sleeping rabbit. He loved the feeling of those arms wrapped around him; they made him feel safe like nothing else could. He loved waking up in in the warm, familiar embrace, and most of all, he loved the giant rabbit he woke up next to.
It had been nearly nine years since the guardians had defeated Pitch, and almost that long since he had first fallen for the rabbit. He wasn't sure how it had happened, and neither was anyone else to be frank. It had started after the guardians had defeated Pitch. Aster, feeling both grateful to Jack for helping restore the children's faith in him, and bad that Jack had nowhere to live, had offered to let him stay in his Warren. Jack had accepted happily, after 300 years of living alone he wasn't eager to return to his old routine. He had started off sleeping in one of the rabbits spare rooms, helping out here and there with preparations, and causing mischief despite his best efforts not to. Then things just…changed. They started spending more time together, and before Jack knew it, he had fallen head over heels for the giant rabbit, and by some miracle, Aster felt the same.
Aster yawned and stretched, the motion drawing Jack's mind back to the present. Smiling down at Jack, Aster said "Morning frostbite, sleep well?
"I always do," Jack said, grinning up at the rabbits face, still looking slightly tired.
Shifting so that Jack slid off his chest Aster got up, strapping on his harness and made his way for the door. "Awwww, leaving so soon? Why don't you come lay down for a bit?" Jack said, pushing his lower lip out in a pout.
Aster looked at him and grinned, the sight of the naked winter spirit lying there seductively was almost enough to have him leaping back into the bed. "Didn't you get enough last night snowflake?" Aster asked with a wink, smirking at the bright red flush that appeared on Jack's cheeks. "Sorry but tomorrows Easter, I've got a lot of last minute things to put into place" Aster said, walking over to put his arm around Jack's shoulder, seeing the disappointed look in his eyes. "Tell you what" he said "As soon as I deliver the last egg tomorrow, I'm all yours." He said, leaning in and kissing the winter spirit, cupping Jack's cheek with his hand as he did so.
"Alright" Jack said, still keeping his lip out in a pout, but he liked the idea of having the rabbit all to himself for a while.
Chuckling Aster stood and walked from the room, leaving Jack lying on the bed. He jumped up and got dressed, slipping his clothes on over his smooth white skin. He grabbed his staff from where it leaned against the door as he left the room. He quickly made his way through the small burrow that Aster lived in and out into the bright sun of the Warren. Easter was the next day, and it showed, the Warren was in full swing, eggs running every which way all in various stages of decoration. Jack decided to take a walk; he always enjoyed walking around the warren, just enjoying the sights.
Today he made his way to the river of coloring, he loved to watch as the rainbow colored river flowed through the Warren, the different colors mixing and forming colors he had never seen before. He was walking along the bank, watching the white egglets jumping into the river, emerging all sort of fantastic colors. Just as he was about to take a step and egglet jumped from the river, landing right where Jack was about to step. Jerking aside as to not crush the egg Jack lost his balance, feeling himself falling toward the rushing rainbow river. Without conscious thought he sent a wave of freezing energy into the water, freezing it solid and providing a safe place for him to land. As soon as he landed on the block of ice he jumped off and back on to the back. "Oh no no no no no no no!" Jack said to himself, dancing from foot to foot as he watched the now blocked river start to overflow its banks. He had to fix this, had to find a way to clean it up before Aster saw it.
No sooner had that thought crossed Jack's mind he heard the yell from behind him "What the hell are you doing!" Aster yelled as he came up next to Jack, his eyes wide as they took in the ever growing pond of coloring. "What were you thinking!" He bellowed, rounding on the small form next to him.
"I-i-it was an accident" Jack stammered, shrinking away from the enraged rabbit.
"An accident? How do you accidently freeze half a river! Don't you have any control over yourself!" Aster was fuming, his ears straight back against his head.
"I'm sorry, I'll fix it, I'll do whatever I can to-" Jack was saying starting to panic slightly, but Aster cut him off.
"Fix it? You can't fix this! I'll have to shut down the entire river or risk flooding half the Warren, this is gonna put us back so far! I don't even know if we'll be able to recover from this. You're such an idiot Jack." Aster said, turning back to the growing flood, reaching down to grab a small spigot that had appeared at his feet.
Aster's words had stung Jack, but he let them go, knowing how much stress the rabbit was under at the moment "I'm sorry." Jack said again "Is there anything I can do?" Jack asked.
"No, just go back to the burrow before you wreck anything else." Aster said, turning the nob on the spigot until the flow of the river slowed and stopped.
"Wreck something else?" Jack said, getting defensive "I didn't mean for this to happen, it was an accident."
"Everything you do is an accident." Aster said, starting to walk away.
Jack stepped forward and grabbed the rabbits shoulder, turning him so they were facing "What's that supposed to mean?" He asked, starting to get angry
"You're always doing this stuff Jack; everywhere you go it just happens!" Aster said, throwing his arms in the air as he spoke.
"You don't think I-" Jack began but Aster cut him off
"No, YOU don't think" he said, pointing a finger at Jack's chest "You NEVER think, you just do, with no regard for the consequences." Aster took a deep breath before continuing "You should go." He said
"Fine," Jack said he was angry now, and with a sneer he added "Have fun with your second rate holiday."
Aster stiffened at that "Like you would know anything about having a holiday" he said "Why don't you go off and find one of the three kids that actually believe in you and leave the holiday stuff to the big boys."
Jack stepped back, as though the rabbit had struck him. His words had cut Jack deep and he wanted the rabbit to feel the same pain he was. "Fine" he said, "It's a good thing I won't be running into anymore of your kind around, I don't think I could stand more than one of you!" As soon as the words left his lips Jack wished he could take them back, he had said them out of anger and he regretted it.
Aster's eyes narrowed to slits "Get out" he said in a deathly calm voice.
Jack's voice shook slightly as he spoke, a mixture of fear and contrition coloring it "Bunny, I'm sorry! I didn't mean-"
"GET OUT!" Aster shouted at him, taking a step toward Jack "I NEVER WANT TO SEE YOU HERE AGAIN!"
Jack turned away from the enraged rabbit, tears welling from the corners of his eyes, and took flight, flying away as fast as he could.
Fresh tears fell from Jack's eyes, but he wasn't crying anymore. He rested his head on Jamie's shoulder as the young man rubbing his back with one hand. "I'm sorry Jack." He said
"He cares more about Easter then he does about me." Jack said, knowing he sounded like a selfish child, but he didn't care.
"He cares about you a lot Jack" Jamie said "I can tell that just from the stories you tell me."
"He's got a funny way of showing it" Jack said, his voice growing bitter.
"He's under a lot of stress right now. Easter is tomorrow, it's the most important day of the year for him. He has to live up to the expectations of every child on the earth."
"Why are you defending him?" Jack said, jumping up and rounding on Jamie.
"I'm not," Jamie said, standing as well and resting a hand on Jack's shoulder "What he said went too far. It was meant to be hurtful."
"Thank you! He-" Jack said, but Jamie continued, talking over him.
"You went too far to Jack. I'd say that you actually went further than him." Jamie said, his voice stern but his face understanding.
"He started it, if he would have just-" Jack began, but once again Jamie spoke over him.
"And you finished it, right? Clearly that turned out so well." He was looking at Jack, not judging or blaming, but understanding.
Jamie knew him well, normally Jack liked it because it meant they understood each other so well, but at that moment it aggravated him. He didn't want to hear what Jamie was saying, he wanted to be mad at Aster, he wanted to blame the rabbit for their fight…he wanted to show the rabbit what he thought of his precious Easter. "I've got to go." Jack said, an idea forming in his mind, a crazy, childish, wonderful idea.
"Jaaack…" Jamie said warningly, he knew that look in the winter spirit's eyes, it meant that he was about to do something he would probably regret.
"Thanks for being here Jamie; you really are a true friend." Jack said, and he meant it. Despite his annoyance at his words at that moment, Jack values Jamie's friendship a lot. Except for Aster, Jamie was…Jamie WAS his best friend. Jack climbed up the window and leapt out, starting his climb to the upper reaches of the sky.
"Jack…JACK! Don't do anything stupid!" Jamie yelled out the window after him.
Jack grinned to himself, that was exactly what he intended to do. He redoubled his speed as he continued to climb, the temperature falling far below what any human could withstand. It felt good to Jack, he felt at home up here in the cold, wind blowing his hair every which way. A small part of him reminded him of the safe, warm feeling in the rabbits arms, but he shoved it down, he had work to do.
"I really stepped in it this time North" Aster said as he paced the floor in his friend's study. North was sitting at his desk, watching the rabbit's progress from one side of the room and back to the other.
"Would you sit Bunny, you are making me stressed just watching!" North said, gesturing to the chair across the desk from him
Aster walked over and took a seat, fidgeting ever few seconds. "What I said to him…it was cruel, I didn't mean to say it, it just came out. I was so stressed, and he's just soo…soo…"
"Annoying?" North offered, I small grin on his face.
"…Innocent" Aster said, thinking back to all the things he hadn't noticed in the heat of the moment. The truth in Jack's eyes when he had tried to apologize. The fear, fear of Aster, on Jack's face when he'd first frozen the river. The pain in Jack' eyes when Aster had sent him away. Aster buried his face in his hand, his foot thumping loudly on the floor out of stress. "It was an accident, I over reacted and I hurt him. I wouldn't blame him if he never wanted to see me again." Aster said, sounding defeated. "What do you think I should do?" he asked, desperate for any kind of guidance.
"I am thinking" North said, leaning over to look at the rabbits tapping foot "that I preferred the pacing."
Aster jumped to his feet "I'm leaving" he said, he was in no mood for North's jokes.
"Calm down Bunny." North said, also standing. "I am sorry, I know you are hurting."
Aster stopped and slowly turned to face the jolly guardian, debating if he wanted to go or stay.
North continued before Aster could decide one way or another. "You love Jack, yes?"
"Yes" Aster said with a sigh, his shoulder's sagging. Of course he loved the little pain in his tail. He hadn't realized just how much he loved him however, until he was faced with the very real prospect of losing him.
"And Jack loves you, yes?" North asked, his voice one of a teacher explaining something to a student slightly behind the rest of the class.
"Yes…I don't know…He did." Aster said, bringing a large hand up and pressing it to his temples. "I wouldn't blame him if he hated me now." The pain in his voice was clear and it brought North's expression down a bit."
He walked over and placed a hand on Aster's shoulder "I think you will find love, true love, is harder to get rid of then a few words spoken in anger."
"He iced over Easter North, not one hunt, not one city, not even one country. He dropped snow on EVERY, SINGLE, EGGHUNT. There was a foot and a half on snow in BRAZILLE!" Aster said, sinking into the chair, burying his face in his hands again.
"He is hurting Bunny. He will need some time to heal. Give him time, and then go to him and make things right." North said, rubbing his large hand against Aster's back comfortingly. "You will know when is time."
"Thanks North." Aster said, managing a very small smile at his old friend.
"What are friends for eh? Besides, if Jack is busy in YOUR burrow, he won't have time to come cause trouble here. Phil has just stopped jumping at any sign of snowball!" North boomed with a laugh.
Aster couldn't help a small chuckle at that. Slowly getting to his feet Aster made his way to the center of the room and opened a rabbit hole. He walked slowly back to his Warren, he would give Jack time, and then he would find him and make things right.
"Maybe you should go talk to him." Jamie said.
"It's been nearly a year Jamie, if he wanted to see me, he would have come found me by now." Jack said, his tone dull and lusterless.
It worried Jamie to see his friend, usually so happy and full of life in this state. Jack went around, did his duties as the spirit of winter like he always had, he occasionally visited North or Jamie, and he sulked. Jamie couldn't remember the last time he had seen Jack smile, but he knew it had been before his fight with Aster a year ago. Now the pair was walking through the forest outside Jamie's home, arguing about what Jack should do next.
"You'll never know unless you go ask." Jamie said
"I froze Easter Jamie; I ruined the most important thing in his life right after I said the most hurtful things I could think of to him. I wouldn't want to see me either…" Jacks voice trailed off. His conversations with Jamie always seemed to go the same way these days. Jamie would tell him to find Aster, and he would refuse, using the same reasons that had prevented him from going to the rabbit every day for the last year.
"Ya, that wasn't smart…" Jamie said matter of factly.
"I know, I was just so mad…and hurt…and I wanted to hurt him…Moon I'm such an idiot." Jack said, looking over at Jamie.
"What?" Jamie asked with a smirk "When you're right you're right." He said, winking at Jack.
That brought a very small smile to Jack's lips, but it didn't reach his eyes. "You've got to do something." Jamie said, taking Jack's hand briefly "This is tormenting you. Go talk to North, or Tooth, or Sandy, or better yet, ASTER!"
Jack had spoken to his fellow guardians about the subject, and gotten much the same reply. Tooth was sympathetic, but agreed with Jamie that he needed to just go talk to Aster; she had actually tried to get the two together several times to no avail. Sandy also thought he needed to talk to the giant rabbit, adding that Aster hadn't been sleeping well lately, which had made Jack feel both guilty, and a small bit of hope. North was harder to decipher. He told Jack to do what he thought was best. The way he spoke often made Jack think he was also taking to Aster, but he couldn't bring himself to ask, couldn't take that chance that his worst fears, that the rabbit didn't ever want to see him again, would be confirmed.
He turned and gave Jamie a hug "Thanks for the talk Jamie. It's always great to talk with you." He said.
"You too Jack, I hope you work things out with him…you two deserve to be happy." Jamie said, returning the hug.
Unable to answer Jack just smiled weakly and took off, flying towards his pond. It was a short flight to his makeshift home, and he knew it well. As a result, he wasn't paying much attention when he arrived. Out of the corner of his eye he thought he saw a large, white gray form vanishing into the ground. Doing a double take he didn't see anything. He walked ever to the place where he had thought he'd seen the rabbit, sinking to the ground he wrapped his arms around his knees, feeling the tears well up in his eyes. Whatever else had happened, he loved the giant fuzz ball, he missed him terribly, and he had to do something to make things right, or at least try to. He sat there for a long time, crying, his body shaking with sobs as he cursed his childishness.
Aster stiffened as the blue clad form appeared over the trees, flying towards the pond. He had been standing there for nearly three hours, waiting for any sight of Jack and now that he could see him, he felt the familiar fear gripping his heart. Once again, he tapped his foot and jumped down the hole, falling to the ground as it closed over him, blocking out the rest of the world. 'AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH" Aster yelled, shouting out his frustration at his own cowardice, pounding his fist into the ground. He wanted so badly to talk to Jack, to grab the spirit to him and hold him close and apologize for everything. He was scared though, scared Jack wouldn't want to see him, would push him away and tell Aster he never wanted to see him again…scared Jack would hate him. He knew he deserved that or worse, and so again, he had ran, had fled like the coward he was. He sat there in his tunnel, gritting his teeth against the tears he felt coming. He sat there for a long time; his shoulder's shaking with sobs as he cursed his fear.
It was Easter, and for the first time since he had taken the mantel of Easter Bunny, Aster didn't feel the hope of the season. All he could think of was the fact that it had now been over a year since he had spoken to Jack. He was still doing his job as the guardian of Easter, his duty to the kids of the world came before his own happiness; even now the eggs were on their way to the surface to be found by all the shrieking children. As he stepped out of his tunnel to his first delivery, he noticed how beautiful it was out, not a single flake to be found. Maybe Jack wasn't mad at him anymore, the hopeful thought danced through Asters mind for his next 400 deliveries, each as bright and snow-free as the last. By the end of the day Aster was sure it had been Jack, he could explain no snow in Phoenix, but in Firbank? Moscow? The small Inuit fishing village without a name twenty miles from North's place? It was too much to be a coincidence.
As soon as he made his final delivery he headed for Jack's pond, intending on waiting as long as it took for him to return. After nearly 8 hours of sitting next to the small body of water Aster had to accept that Jack wasn't going to show. Maybe he was sorry about last Easter, but hadn't forgiven Aster for their fight. He had been being hopeful, expecting that things would change so easily. With a heavy heart he headed back to his Warren.
Jack sat on the small hill overlooking the tunnels that lead to and from Aster's Warren. He had gone around, making sure every Easter celebration he could find was snow free, an apology for his childish stunt last year, and now he was going to wait here for the rabbit as long as it took. Jack sat there for hours, far longer than it should have taken Aster to return, but still he sat, waiting. He began to worry that maybe the rabbit could tell he was here and was staying away in order to avoid him. That thought tormented him right up until he saw the gray and white shape appear through one of the tunnels, ears back, shoulders sagging, head hung down. He looked sad…no, beyond sad, he looked defeated. The sight of the rabbit in such a state made Jack's heart ache and he wanted nothing more than to rush over and hug him. He controlled himself though, and waited.
Aster returned to his Warren, every bit of him was tired, and he could barely muster the energy to put one foot in front of the other. His head hanging low, he didn't notice the thin, blue clad shape standing on the hill leading to his burrow until he was only a few feet from it. Aster stopped and stared, his mouth hanging slightly open as he took in the sight he had been longing to see for months now, Jack standing there in front of him, not running away, not yelling of telling him to leave him be.
"Did you see-" Jack started before he was bowled by the giant rabbit, tackled to the ground and wrapped into a hug so tight it made it slightly difficult to breath. He didn't care, he buried his face in the soft fur before him, letting his tears flow freely, for the first time in a year he felt happy, truly happy. "I'm…sorry" he choked out between sobs of joy.
"Shhhh" the rabbit said, tears running from his own eyes and dampening Jack's hoodie, Aster's face pressed into the crook of his neck. "I'm the one who's sorry. I was an ass, and an idiot."
"I was the idiot" Jack responded, taking a deep breath to steady his himself.
"We both were" Aster said, smiling as Jack laughed, and he felt his mirth spread, and soon he was laughing along with the winter spirit. They laughed, holding each other close, until they were both lying there, trying to catch their breath. "I love you" Aster said, hugging Jack tightly.
"I love you too" Jack said, his voice a bit strained as the hug forced some of the air from his lungs. He leaned up and kissed Aster who returned the action happily. When the pair finally broke apart they were both breathing heavily. "I'm sorry I fought with you so much" Jack said, his fingers weaving through the thick fur of the rabbits cheek ruffs.
Aster placed his paw on Jack's face, his thumb slowly rubbing up and down his cheek. "I may fight with you Jack, but I will always fight FOR you, cause when you love something as much as I love you, you fight for it tooth and claw.