Things in the world were beginning to turn into a New Golden Age. The Guardians had decided to band together to capture the Nightmares, taking it upon themselves to rid the world of Pitch's minions. It was a slow task for sure; it'd taken them twenty years to capture the amount they currently had. All of them were trapped in a large prison of bright glowing crystal that stood at the top of a very high mountain.

The Guardians and their subjects kept a diligent watch on the crystal prison at all times- though it was nearly impossible for them to escape. The glowing crystal kept them at bay, shining light on them when they got too close. Their shadowy wisps couldn't slip past the bright light that imprisoned them. They were completely ensnared.

Children all over the world were cooing with joy- they all slept peacefully, without dreading sleep for fear of a nightmare. The Guardians were proud of their deeds.

In the midst of celebration, Jack Frost decided to go directly to Pitch's lair and capture the remaining Nightmares. No one had heard anything from Pitch since that day so long ago when the Guardians had stopped him from taking over.

Jack was a lot more powerful than he was before. The childrens' belief in him had more than doubled his own abilities. He could control winter on a much larger scale than he could before. Some people had come to call him the Spirit of Winter due to the snowstorms he could inflict. But he always kept himself in check- his job was to bring Joy to children and to protect them, always.

He'd changed the way he dressed as well, but only slightly. He still wore those dark brown pants that he'd always had, but he'd traded in his hoodie for a blue soldier's jacket, and he wore knee-high black military boots as well. He looked very much like a regal Guardian.

Armed with his staff and a rope spun from golden silk, Jack journeyed beneath one of Pitch's portals beneath a bed and into the King's lair.

The rope was how they caught the Nightmares. It restrained them well enough until they were placed in the crystal prison, and Jack had a snowglobe that took him there directly.

Although he was powerful, Jack still showed great caution as he walked around the underground palace.

It was just as he remembered it, except much more...broken. The cold stone was cracked and chipped, seeming like it could give way at the slightest touch. He saw multiple cages had fallen from the ceiling and now laid empty on the ground, some of them covered in spiderwebs.

As Jack went deeper into the darkness, he felt an emotion he hadn't felt in a long time. He felt afraid. The darkness here was so thick, so terrifying. The young Guardian could still remember coming here that day long ago. But it felt more empty than it had been then, and Jack was unsure why that made him afraid.

Hoof beats sounded behind him, and he turned just as a Nightmare stormed past him. The creature cried out an angry roar as it looked at him before taking off again. Stretching out his staff, he was prepared to trap it within his ice, but it dispersed when it struck the wall and melted into dust.

He knew his fear had attracted it, but it looked as though the creature was more afraid of him. The other Nightmares must have been hiding here, all of them huddling and cowering somewhere in the deepest parts of this place.

Determined to capture whatever he found, Jack ran into one of the larger rooms where the darkness was at it's worst. He came to a halt when he saw familiar yellow eyes looking at him from within the blackness.

Staring in silence, he prepared himself for a fight- staff clenched tightly in one hand. Ice began forming at his feet as he continued to wait. After a long moment, a familiar voice greeted him.

"I barely recognized you with those boots," came the dark, always seductive tone of Pitch Black. "I'd almost thought you had a secret agenda against footwear."

Jack couldn't help but smile proudly. He relaxed a little as he advanced, talking small and careful steps towards the King of Nightmares. Pitch was still unseen in the darkness, except for his eyes that shone brightly within the shadows. Jack stopped to lean against his staff.

"Why don't you come on out, Pitch?" Jack urged with a grin. "Or are you afraid?"

Pitch chuckled. Before Jack could back away, Pitch emerged from the shadows. He looked the same as ever, except...

Except he looked...very tired.

"If you've come for my Nightmares, they're not here," Pitch informed him with a frown. "I think you scared off the one companion I did have..."

Jack watched, oddly disturbed by Pitch's appearance. As Pitch walked past him, the Boogeyman seemed to glide like a wraith. His gray skin seemed even paler than usual, and Jack was positive the man looked too skinny to be normal.

"What's wrong with you?" Jack blurted out.

Pitch calmly chuckled in response.

"You are quite a naive little Guardian," Pitch's words seemed devoid of expression, devoid of anger. "Surely you realized what all of you are doing to me?"

Pitch turned around, making his way back towards the shadows. He seated himself on a throne of obsidian, leaning back against it with a sigh. Jack followed him, his eyes displaying the conflicted emotions that were starting to well up inside of him.

"What do you mean?" he asked. "Why do you look so sick?"

As Jack spoke, Pitch closed his eyes. A tiny smile tugged on the corner of his lips before he let out a long exhale. "I'm fading away..."

Jack gasped sharply. He gripped his staff hard, unbelieving. Pitch wasn't a Guardian. He was something else entirely. How could he fade away?

"Forgive me for being blunt, but I don't have the energy to talk too much," he paused for a moment, opening his eyes and looking up at Jack. "Dying tends to have that effect on me."

Jack was shaking his head and took a tiny step back. No, Pitch was lying. He was trying to trick him. Pitch couldn't die.

"I don't understand... what's doing this to you?" he questioned, still unsure what to think.

He wasn't sure why the idea bothered him so much. He didn't exactly hate Pitch, but this new information shouldn't have bothered him as badly as it did. He felt a pain forming in his chest the longer he gazed upon the King of Nightmares.

Pitch sighed, sounding slightly annoyed.

"Surely you're smarter than this, Frost," he groaned. He placed his hand over his face and inhaled deeply. "Where does my power come from?"

Jack tilted his head. "Your power comes from f-"

"FEAR!" Pitch interrupted loudly. "My power comes from fear. From being feared. And what have you and your jolly little friends been doing these past twenty years?"

Jack's eyes went wide. When he looked at Pitch, he heard the older man chuckle as he rose from his throne like a ghost before walking past the young Guardian, hands clasped behind his back.

"Give the young man a prize! He's figured it out," Pitch spat, feigning joy at Jack's realization.

As Pitch exited the room, Jack followed. He was feeling overcome with guilt. It was never his intention to do this. He never knew capturing Nightmares would take such a great toll on the Boogeyman. Shadows clung to Pitch's feet with every step he took, ascending the crumbling staircase into another part of the castle.

"Pitch, I never wanted this!" Jack shouted after him.

He heard Pitch's condescending laughter as it echoed throughout the palace. Even now, Jack could hear the obvious strain in the man's voice. As Jack followed him up the stairs, Pitch suddenly vanished before his eyes. The Frost spirit glanced around, searching to where Pitch had gone.

When he met the top of the stairs, he wandered into the open doorway into a very dark bedroom. Only one beam of light lit the dark space. Like the rest of the castle, it looked old and decayed. Dusty books littered the floor, some pages torn and left scattered to collect dust.

In the center of the room was a massive canopy bed, strips of curtains hanging over the sides. The wooden poles looked cracked and chipped, the curtains torn with massive holes. Jack came closely, his boots kicking up dust. When he was about a few feet away, he held out his staff and parted the curtains.

Pitch was lying against a mess of pillows, one knee propped up and his face leaning into his palm. He gave Jack a weary stare.

"I honestly wish you would leave," he said softly. "I'd prefer dying in peace rather than being gawked at."

Letting the curtain drift shut, Jack circled the bed. Carefully touching the dense fabric, he slipped his hand inside and pulled it open. Frost spiraled out over the curtain from his touch, and Pitch groaned with disdain as Jack stared at him.

"You have very poor manners," Pitch growled.

Jack bit his lip. In all honesty, he wanted to reach out and hug the other man. He never realized what he was doing was hurting Pitch. He just wanted to make children happy, to make sure nothing evil could ever bring them harm.

"Pitch, I'm sorry," Jack whispered sadly.

It was difficult for him to keep the emotion out of his voice. The idea of fading away was terrifying. He could still remember how horrible it was when it was happening to his fellow Guardians; the way they looked, the pitiful states they were in. He didn't want to imagine it. It was undoubtedly painful, both mentally and physically.

"I never... I never thought this would happen to you..."

He couldn't bring himself to look at Pitch. The mere sight of him nearly brought Jack to the brink of tears. Pitch laughed at him, so quiet Jack barely caught it.

"I don't want your pity, Frost," he hissed.

Jack clenched his fists, the wood of his staff cracking under his own strength.

"Pitch, I mean it!" he persisted. "I didn't know this would happen!"

Something hot touched Jack's hand, and he was startled to find it was Pitch's fingers. He kept his eyes averted as they trailed over his icy fingertips, over his knuckles until they were testing the edge of his sleeve, sliding up his wrist.

As quickly as it had come, the touch was over. He heard Pitch breathing, slowly taking in air and exhaling again.

"I believe you," Pitch informed him, keeping his voice low.

Jack looked over at the other man, and his heart sank in his chest. This close, Jack could see exactly what kind of shape Pitch was in.

His black cloak clung to his body, and Jack could see how skeletal thin the King of Nightmares really was. He had dark bags under his eyes like he hadn't slept in days, and the shade of his white skin was a sickly pale that reminded Jack of fading bruises.

He looked up, and when their eyes met, Jack was bothered by the lack of gold that usually stood out in the older male's gaze. Pitch's eyes were mostly silver colored now, with tiny specs of yellow that seemed to fade the longer Jack kept the joined gaze.

"I don't like the way you're looking at me, Frost," Pitch warned, and immediately Jack looked away.

"Sorry...I'm sorry..." he apologized.

He could already feel tears stinging at the corners of his eyes, turning into ice the moment they touched his skin. Dropping his staff and the rope, Jack leaned onto the bed.

"Tell me what I can do to help you," he pleaded softly.

Pitch laughed again, sharp with disbelief and bitterness.

"Don't you think you've done enough?" he questioned. "Even now, you're wasting what little time I have left."

Jack's lip quivered. He leaned in further, daring to put his knees on the bed.

"What can I do to give you more time?"

The King of Nightmares glanced at him, eying Jack's growing proximity.

"...If you were afraid, it would give me a little strength..."

At his own words, Pitch began to snicker. "But you haven't feared me for twenty years. I doubt you could even try, given how I am now."

Jack's thoughts were racing. He had to do something, but Pitch was right. Jack couldn't force himself to be afraid of Pitch. While he was a little scared, he wasn't scared of Pitch. He was scared for him. Jack was fearless in most things, from monsters to normal phobias. And with how weak Pitch was, it was obvious that even so much as teleporting took too much out of him.

As Jack wracked his brain for something, he heard Pitch move a little. When he looked up, Pitch had his fingers covering his mouth, his eyes glaring in thought.

"There is... one way to get some fear out of you..." he whispered.

When Jack's face lit up, Pitch shook his head in anger.

"Pitch, you have to!" Jack insisted. "I'll do anything to help you!"

The expression Pitch gave him made Jack feel concern. He looked like a cornered animal who was given the choice of death or pain, and neither option looked too promising.

"Please don't make me..." he murmured sadly.

This was ridiculous! He was a dying man! If there was even one option left, Jack was willing to do it. What was so bad that even Pitch was hesitating while on the edge of death?

"Pitch, if it can help even a little, I don't care what it is," the Frost Guardian urged.

Pitch shook his head again. "Even I have morals, Jack..."

Jack felt a bit of anger flare up within himself. Inching forward, he reached out and grabbed Pitch by the front of his cloak, being mindful of Pitch's delicate state as he pulled him closer.

"I don't care about your damn morals, Pitch! I'm giving you consent! If it can help, I'm happy to let you do whatever you have to."

Pitch closed his eyes, took a deep breath, and then opened his eyes again. He looked sad.

"I hope you can forgive me for this... and know that I can't ever thank you enough."

When Pitch rose up on his knees, Jack nodded and closed his eyes. He was prepared for the worst mental assault possible, or whatever Pitch planned to do to him to make him afraid.

He gasped when he felt slender fingers touching his sides, and Pitch's warm face pressing into his neck. Fear seized his heart like a cat pouncing on a bird. Out of reflex, he brought his hands up to Pitch's shoulders and tried to push him away.

"What are you doing?" he rasped, trying to squirm away when Pitch's hands grew more adventurous.

Pitch's breath felt hot against his skin, nearly burning. He was slow to realize Pitch was actually kissing his neck, brushing his fangs along his throat and threatening to bite him. Those hands on his sides slipped under the hem of Jack's soldier jacket, bringing their burning heat with them wherever they touched.

His heart began to beat faster and faster, and his body went rigid when he heard Pitch chuckle into his neck. The sound was thick with power, chilling Jack to his core.

"Your fear..." Pitch purred lustfully. "It's intoxicating..."

Jack whimpered when he felt Pitch bite his neck, but he stopped himself from retaliating. Pitch needed this. And Jack was truly afraid of whatever the King of Nightmares was doing to him. He'd never felt a fear like this. It was nearly making him dizzy, forcing him to cling to the older male as he was touched.

His face felt hot when he felt one of Pitch's hands grab his rear, and it only worsened when Pitch traced his tongue over Jack's sensitive ear.

"Do you have any idea about what I'm going to do to you, Jack?" Pitch whispered darkly, his words slithering into Jack's ear like a serpent.

The Frost Guardian lightly shook his head, too afraid to answer with words. He heard a hissing laughter tickle his ear before Pitch suddenly pinned him to the bed. Jack fought the instinct to get up, to crawl away, but he was frozen in terror. Pitch knelt between his thighs, head tilted back a little as he stared down at Jack.

As he ran his hands over the younger male's chest, Pitch gave Jack a hungry smile.

"I'm going to defile you..." he purred, and it finally dawned on Jack what was happening as Pitch began undoing the buttons to his jacket.

"I'm going to make you scream in agony as I take you..." he continued, and the moment he pulled the boy's jacket open, Pitch licked his lips.

Tears trailed down the sides of Jack's face, leaving a thin trail of ice behind them. He could barely move when Pitch leaned down and began kissing his chest. He trembled as he began to sob, every sound catching in his throat.

Pitch closed his eyes and moaned as he basked in the fear that radiated from the Frost Guardian. The sound of Pitch in rapture sent chills through Jack's body. His face felt hot when he noticed he'd grown slightly aroused, just from the sound of Pitch moaning. He couldn't stop himself from thinking how pathetic this was of him; he'd practically thrown himself to Pitch and was allowing himself to be violated, and now he was getting turned on by it.

He feared the worst when Pitch sat back, but Pitch didn't do anything to hurt him. In a rather loving gesture, Pitch ran his fingers over Jack's frozen tear-streaks, melting them as he wiped them away. Jack opened his eyes and looked up to see Pitch inching closer, blue eyes widened when Pitch gently kissed him.

When he pulled away, Jack stared up in confusion. To his amazement, Pitch looked perfectly healthy. Had such a small dose of fear given him back his natural appearance?

"You should leave here," Pitch whispered to him softly. "I thank you helping to delay my demise...and I'm sorry for doing this to you."

As he spoke, Pitch stroked Jack's cheek with the back of his hand. He leaned down once again and laid a kiss on Jack's forehead before rising up off the bed and exiting the room.

Jack was slow to get up from where he was. It took him a long time to get himself moving, and even longer to get his jacket buttoned up once again.

He was confused with himself for feeling like he did. Pitch's touch had both frightened him and brought him pleasure. And he'd been so... sweet before he'd gotten up. And he hadn't outright raped Jack... it was as though he was trying not to hurt Jack at all.

With an idea in mind, Jack slid off the bed with care and retrieved his belongings from the floor. He looked around in case Pitch was still lingering, but when he didn't catch sight of him, Jack fled on the wind into the sky.

Regardless of their differences, Jack was determined not to let Pitch fade away. He was going to call a meeting with the other Guardians.