Yeehaw! I got this done way faster than I thought I would. I've been feeling pretty inspired for this chapter, and for the next one. Huzzah!

Anyway, like I promised, here's a warning for pretty much outright Jack x Jamie. There's also an itty-bitty touch of angst, for those of you who aren't into it. However, it's followed up with major fluff, I promise.

Also, three guesses for what website Sophie likes to frequent. c:


Day Nine

Jamie wants to wait. Honestly, he does. But the fact that wherever he walks, he feels the ornament press against his leg makes it far harder to wait than he thought. He curses his own impatience, because honestly, he only had like, two days to go!

In short, he gives in. Worse than that, he gives in when it's nearly midnight, and it's so cold outside that there's a winter weather advisory. One quick check to the outdoor thermometer on the porch shows that it's nearing ten degrees, and might dip even lower. Regardless, Jamie feels like there's an inward itch that he just can't scratch, and it's making him completely restless. Either he does what he has to do, or it's practically guaranteed that he's not going to be able to sleep at all.

Begrudgingly, he slips on his heaviest coat, transferring the ornament to one of its pockets. Then, he puts on a pair of thick gloves, his best scarf, a black knit beanie, and heavy winter boots. Sure, he feels a bit like the kid from 'A Christmas Story', in that putting his arms down is becoming a chore, but he'd rather have that than freeze to death out there. He gives the living room a quick glance-over to make sure Sophie hasn't somehow been spying on him from some outrageous position. When he's certain that she isn't, and there isn't a single noise elsewhere in the house, he braves the cold and leaves.

Outside, it's not snowing, but it's just as cold as he thought. The snow that's already fallen now has a frozen crust, which cracks when he walks over it, almost as if he's stepping on a sheet of glass. The sky is gloriously clear, and even with the city lights, he can make out a few constellations. His breath, even muffled by the threads of the scarf, is still visible when he breathes out. He tries to walk as as briskly as possible, making sure to dodge the patches of ice here and there. Even with all the care he takes, he slips on three of them (once nearly tripping headfirst into a snowbank) before he finally reaches the dirt road leading up to the pond.

The walk allows him to sort his thoughts out a little more, specifically why he felt such a rampant need to go. He feels pretty ridiculous about all of it, from leaving this late to not really considering just calling Jack so Jamie didn't have to walk this far just to give him some stupid ornament from a tourist shop. To be fair, though, he didconsider it a little, but he hasn't even seen Jack in almost a whole year. It's made him puzzle over what's been keeping the spirit away, but like he's told himself in the past, it's not really his place to interfere.

So, there's that, but he still can't reason out why he's doing this. Logically, he could have waited until morning, or even better, Christmas. And yeah, he already knew he couldn't wait. But why exactly couldn'the? Why did he suddenly have all the energy of the Tooth Fairy and just as much need to leave? It frustrates him enough that he kicks a stray piece of ice sticking up from the ground, so that it skids a little bit along the gravel before breaking into tiny shards. Then, he pauses, watching the ice break, and frowns, more to himself than to the ice.

"This is stupid," he says quietly, mentally kicking himself. He should turn around, go right back home and forget that this ever happened. Maybe he should just put the ornament up on the tree and make the excuse that he got it for his family and not for... well, Jack, as if Jack even needed an ornament.

"What is he even going to use it for?" he asks himself rather harshly, digging his hands into his pockets and feeling the inconspicuous paper bag brush against his gloves. He berates himself, and finally makes himself turn back around toward Burgess. However, as soon as he does, the wind kicks up, despite having been completely still before. It almost feels like it's pushing him toward the pond, insisting that he turns around. Jamie does so, but doesn't move forward. He just looks around for any sign of the spirit who might have been responsible. However, there's nothing other than thick, dark forest, and high banks of snow.

Quietly, he continues into the forest, still mulling it over in his head. At the very least, and what he eventually convinces himself that he'll do, he'll just come up to the pond, leave the ornament on some low tree branch for Jack to find later, and then book it back home as fast as he can. At least he'll get it out of his system that way, and might actually get enough sleep in the long run that he'll actually be awake for his family's traditional pre-Christmas breakfast tomorrow morning.

As expected, the pond and the area around it are completely empty. The water is covered in a sheen of thick ice, gleaming in the light of a full moon. For a moment, Jamie pauses, just taking in the atmosphere. It's oddly ambient, what with the wind hissing through the trees. Everything is cast in a calm, pale glow. He looks up at the moon, strangely huge and bright, as if it's somehow pointing directly at Jamie. He thinks about what Jack told him about the moon, about how the Man in the Moon talked to him long ago, about how he still talks to the other guardians. It's strange, standing here now, because Jamie feels as though somehow, some way, the moon is trying to talk to him, too.

However, he shakes it off, trying not to get too caught up in it all. He's here for a reason, after all. So, he scans the area, even in the darkness, until he sees a suitable branch on a young pine tree. It's dusted in snow so that it looks postcard-perfect. Jamie walks up to it and reaches into his pocket, pulling out the bag. It's folded up, with a single piece of tape sealing it. Carefully, he pulls off the tape, reaches in, and pulls out the ornament.

In the moonlight, somehow, it looks different. The glitter on it appears to shine a little brighter, even in comparison to the fluorescent lights of the shop. It looks even more like a snowflake than what the artist probably intended, and for what ever reason, Jamie's struck by it. He holds it, the thread it's suspended from twisted between his fingers. It slowly sways back and forth in the wind, shimmering as it moves. For a minute, Jamie suddenly feels immensely proud of it, and in the back of his head, he wishes Jack was actually here.

Again, he shakes it off. It's getting annoying, how caught up in this he's becoming. He blames it on the late hour, or the walk, or the frigid temperature. So, he puts the ornament on the branch, staring at it for just a second more before he buries his nose in his scarf and turns around. "Gonna freaking get frostbite at this rate," he murmurs.

"What's that about frostbite?"

Jamie nearly gasps at Jack's voice, and pivots so quickly that he almost falls over. He steadies himself and looks up at a massive oak tree, finding Jack sitting as content as a cat on one of its enormous branches. He almost blends in with the whole scene, so it wouldn't be surprising if he had been there the whole time. Gracefully, Jack jumps down to the ground, landing soundlessly on the snow. He balances his staff across his shoulders, wrists dangling limply over it as he languidly walks forward, his eyes on the ornament.

"J-Jack!" Jamie manages to gasp out, still a little dizzy from turning so fast. "I didn't know you were here!" As soon as he says it, Jamie feels extraordinarily stupid. Of course Jack was here. Jamie wouldn't have come to the pond in the first place if it wasn't the place Jack frequented the most. He finds himself becoming a little flushed, wishing to recant his exclamation.

It doesn't seem to strike Jack as outright hilarious, but he doessmirk. He stands beside Jamie, tilting his head at the sight of the ornament, eyes following it as it continues to sway in the breeze. "I thought you had a tree of your own," Jack jokes, removing one hand from his staff to tap at the ornament. Jamie sees the tiniest amount of frost build up on it before it melts away.

"Yeah, well," Jamie starts, and then falls silent. How is he supposed to explain all this without sounding even more like an idiot? He bites down on his bottom lip behind his scarf, trying to think of the right explanation.

Already, Jack's turned to stare at him, blue eyes practically glowing in the moonlight. He's looking at Jamie expectantly, complete with a quirked grin. "Your house get too full of decorations? Did Sophie go on an arts-and-crafts binge?"

"Igotitforyouasapresent," Jamie says so quickly that he's pretty sure it's unintelligible. Evidently, it was, as Jack's now staring at him in confusion, his grin faltering as he seems to try to decode it. For the umpteenth time that night, Jamie kicks himself mentally. "I got it for you as a present," he repeats, much slower this time. "I don't know why. It just seemed to... fit, I guess?"

The confused stare doesn't falter, and Jamie briefly wonders if it's possible to break a spirit's brain just by one stupid sentence. Jamie might end up being the only human in history who ever managed. Then, the confusion starts to wane, and Jack frowns, which causes a sinking, cold feeling in the pit of Jamie's stomach. Jack's eyes flicker back to the ornament, and then return to Jamie. "...Why?" is all Jack says.

"I don't know," Jamie admits. He stares down at his boots, at the powdered snow now drifting over them. "I just haven't seen you in awhile, and I wondered if maybe I did something wrong, or if I was too old now to be around you." He stops himself immediately before he can finish his thought. Honestly, he didn't know about that until now, and why he suddenly had this cascade of word vomit is beyond him. Instantly, as soon as his statement is out in the open, he finds himself either wanting to run back to Burgess as fast as he can, or curl up in the snow and pretend he doesn't exist. In the end, he doesn't do either. He just stands there, slightly ashamed of himself.

He expects that Jack's mad at him, or that he'll disappear and go to some rooftop in Russia and never come back. Part of him thinks Jack will just say that Jamie's right. What he doesn't expect is the hand that settles on his left shoulder, an oddly comfortable weight given the circumstances. Jamie dares to bring his eyes back up to meet Jack's, and he almost gasps at the sight of Jack smiling at him.

"Jamie Bennett, you're ridiculous," Jack says, moving his hand from Jamie's shoulder to ruffle the boy's hair.

"Y-you sound like Sophie," Jamie says shakily, attempting to smile.

Then, Jack draws him into a hug so quickly that this time, Jamie actually doesgasp. It takes him a second to realize what's going on, and then slowly, he returns it. Nothing really makes sense right then, but Jamie's not unhappy about it. In fact, it's the best he's felt all season.

When Jack finally pulls away, his hands still rest on Jamie's shoulders, his staff since propped up against the branches of the pine tree. The guardian looks oddly pleased. "I didn't leave because you did anything wrong," he explains. "I was just busy, that's all."

Jamie blushes, much so against his will, and lowers his head a little. "I figured."

"I tried to see you," Jack continues. "But every time I tried, something else would come up. Kinda problematic. Though, at least we're here now, right?"

"Yeah," Jamie agrees. Then, he gets that sensation again, as though the moon is focusing on him again, watching him. It makes the hair on the back of his neck stand up, and he's suddenly caught up again, transfixed by Jack and the way the moonlight catches the silver in his hair, or the strange snowflake pattern in his eyes. It reminds him him of the ornament, and he immediately looks over at it, the way the light still dances off of it.

It's sudden, and Jamie isn't sure why he does it, or where in the world he got the moxie to attempt it, but he turns his head back toward Jack, and then leans forward and presses his lips against the spirit's. At first, he expects Jack to freeze up, to be all surprised and unmoving, like how people in the movies are with first kisses. However, Jack does something far different. He kisses Jamie back as though he expected it all along. Jack pulls him close again, his lips cold as snow against Jamie's, the rest of him just as chilled, so that Jamie shivers when he's pressed up against the guardian. What surprises Jamie most of all is how rightthis feels. It feels like every question he's had lately has been answered, and it's the most unusual kind of relief he's ever felt.

It feels like an eternity and a half when they finally separate, both gasping, lips tinged pink, looking at each other in shock. Even Jack seems a little surprised, but his expression fades back into contentment. "Sorry about that," he says, sounding practically breathless.

"N-no, don't be," Jamie stutters back, still trying to get his bearings. Then, he shakes his head, mildly perplexed. "Why are you apologizing anyway?"

Jack laughs, and it's that bell-like sound that Jamie's grown to love. The spirit looks all the world like some lovestruck teenager, which is strange considering he's existed for literally centuries. One might think he'd be a little more eloquent, but he's not. "I have no idea," he says at last, and he appears to be completely happy with being clueless.

Jamie can't help but kiss him again, and this time, they have a little more finesse. It's as if they've been this comfortable with each other all along, and when Jamie thinks about it, they have been. He wonders if it was just a matter of time before something like this happened, and as soon as he thinks of that, all of Sophie's pestering makes sense.

It's the combined cold of winter and Jack himself that cuts them off. Otherwise, Jamie believes they could go on for hours. Even with all his layers, he finds himself freezing, and with a giddy laugh (giddy; that's a new one to him), he apologizes. "Sorry. I think if we keep going like this, I'm gonna-"

"Get frostbite?" Jack finishes for him, and the smile that's plastered on his face is downright ridiculous.

"Oh god, you actually said it."

Both of them break into laughter at that, and Jamie can't help but feel almost dizzy at the sensation. He's in love. Yeah, he's in love with a snow spirit, and a guardian at that, and, if you want to get technical, a figure straight out of storybooks. But at this point, he doesn't care. The only thing he thinks about is how happy he is that he decided to give his present to Jack tonight.

From: Sophie Bennett
1:36 AM

i don't think i have to ask where you are. ;)

How does she know? She had to have been asleep. He didn't see her, and he knows that he lookedfor her. Jamie fires back a text about keeping her nose out of his business, and as soon as he sends it, he regrets it. It's just going to confirm her suspicions. She's too good at this guessing game thing.

From: Sophie Bennett
1:38 AM

OH MY GOD JAMIE BENNETT YOU FINALLY DID IT DIDN'T YOU

He reads it, and he can literally hear her shouting in the back of his head. He's became way too fine-tuned to his sister. When he finally leaves for college and gets a dorm or apartment, he's probably still going to hear her. He types back that he doesn't know what she means. Then, he deletes that, because that's just catering to her assumptions. He can't make this worse, even though he's not exactly feeling bad about it. Not at all.

So, he types that he didn't do anything other than take a walk, and he sends that feeling pretty confident that he's bested her somehow. Or, at least, he feels confident for all of two seconds, because there's no human way to best her in anything like this. He probably should just stop texting her altogether.

From: Sophie Bennett
1:39 AM

omg. i can't even. I CAN'T.

She can't what? He asks her that, because he's honestly confused. He gets an answer not even thirty seconds later.

From: Sophie Bennett
1:40 AM

I. CAN'T. ;w;

Yep. He gives up. He can't decode her weird language, what ever it is. Worst of all, she knows. She's never going to let him live this down. Oddly enough, he's kind of alright with that.