A/N: Well, here's the next installment! Sorry for the long wait and thanks for being patient. I really have no excuse other than the flight of my muse, or the fact that a fox got into my plot bunnies and I find myself at a loss without them...
Anyways, Thank you all for your reviews, they make me smile and generally brighten my day! And thank you to those who have favorited and followed and read my story, you are all amazing and I appreciate the support you offer!
Disclaimer: I do not own Rise of the Guardians...if I did, I wouldn't be pining for it to be released on DVD (which happens in 3 days!), I would already have it. And I would have a sequel out. Just saying.
"Shouldn't he have been back by now?" Bunny asked, pacing in North's office.
"North, what if something happened to him? What if he needs our help?" Tooth asked as Baby Tooth chirped next to her.
North sighed. He himself felt the overwhelming urge to find Jack screaming at him. But he also understood why Jack had taken off. They may not have meant to hover, but as Sandy had said, they had hovered. A lot. And it had most likely been overwhelming for the boy.
"He just needs time," North said, fighting his own need to assure himself Jack was okay. "He'll be back when he's ready."
"But North," Bunny said. "He fled before telling us the other two times his staff broke. What if, I don't know, what if those two times were so bad he can't even talk about it?"
"And we brought it up," Tooth said. "Making him relive it. Memories can be a powerful thing. He could be hurting far more now and needs us to talk to about it."
North glanced at Sandy, who was floating, asleep, in front of the fireplace.
"We should go find him, mate," Bunny said.
"Just to make sure he's okay," Tooth said.
"Jack Frost is just fine," came a melodic voice from the open workshop doors. Baby Tooth squeaked, ducking behind Tooth. All eyes turned to see Sam Hain leaning against the door frame, watching them.
"And how do you know?" Bunny asked, reaching for his boomerangs. He hadn't forgotten Jack mentioning Sam in conjunction with breaking his staff.
"Because I was just with him," Sam said. "He came to requisition some clothing after running out of here in nothing but a shirt."
"Jack came to you?" Tooth asked, a flicker of jealousy igniting in her chest. They were the ones Jack was supposed to turn to, not someone who had once hurt him. But, a small voice whispered in her mind, you've hurt him in the past too. Maybe not in the same way, but you've hurt him too.
"Why would he do this?" North demanded. "Why not just come back here?" After all, here was home. Or, at least, North wanted Jack to consider it home.
"Because," Sam said. "Jack's been a loner for 300 years. It takes time to adjust to people hovering over you, it takes time to adjust to people caring for you. Jack is adjusting well and it's quite obvious he has come to view you as family. But some things can be overwhelming."
"So what are you saying?" Bunny asked. He didn't want to forgive Sam for what he had done to Jack all those years ago, but what Sam had implied made Bunny cringe. They had left Jack alone for 300 years. Maybe they were at fault just as much as Sam.
"Merely give him time," Sam said, pushing away from the doorframe. "He'll come home when he's ready." And with that, Sam disappeared, leaving the Guardians to stare after the empty doorway.
"He's as creepy as Pitch," Bunny said, relaxing his grip on his boomerangs.
Tooth and Baby Tooth nodded as Sandy slept on.
"He'll come home when he's ready." The words echoed in North's head, and his found his heart soaring. Those words meant, well, that Jack considered Santoff Claussen his home. It was definitely a step in the right direction.
"So we wait for Jack to come back to find out how he broke his staff the other two times?" Tooth asked, looking at North.
"Yes," North said. "We wait. I think that is best move for now."
Floating by the fire, his back turned to the others, Sandy smiled.
It didn't take Jack long to decide he really, really didn't like jeans. They were heavy, rode low on his hips, and the extra fabric around his legs flapped weirdly in the wind, making it harder to fly with any sense of grace.
Jack let out a deep breath and pulled his jeans up higher on his waist, searching the landscape below. He could spot it well before it was truly in view. The one place he could always go to, the one place that had ever truly been a home to him. The wind whipped around him playfully, tossing him up higher into the sky before letting him down.
Jack laughed, knowing it was the wind's way of saying: "Welcome Home!"
"Thanks," Jack whispered and the wind rustled through his hair.
Jack landed in the middle of the lake, the water rippling out from where he had touched down to freeze in the intricate pattern of small waves. Jack touched his staff down, sending his powers deep into the water and out toward the edges until the whole lake was as frozen solid as if he had never been gone.
Jack spun around at the sound of his name and was nearly knocked over as Jamie Bennett ran head long into him, throwing arms around him to pull Jack into a hug.
Jack laughed, returning the hug. "Hey kiddo, miss me?"
Jamie nodded, face pressed against Jack's chest. "Sandman said you were sick, and that's why your lake melted."
"Ah, well," Jack said as Jamie pulled back to look him in the eyes. "Nothing worse than when you got the flu a while back."
Jack smiled but Jamie still looked worried.
"But Sandman seemed really worried about you," Jamie said. "And your lake melted! I've never seen it melt in all of my life!"
Jack thought for a minute. He didn't want to worry Jamie, the attack on him from the other immortals was nothing he wanted to tell Jamie because Jamie was just a kid.
"We Guardians don't get sick much, so of course Sandy was worried about me, he didn't know what being sick was. As for my lake, well, as it turns out, I was, uh, running a fever, and my powers got a little out of whack. But everything's fine now."
"Promise?" Jamie asked.
"Would I lie to you?" Jack grinned and finally Jamie cracked a smile of his own. "Now come on, I've got some time, why don't we go get those friends of yours for a little ice skating?"
"Okay!" Jamie said, a bounce in his step as he started slipping his way back across the lake to the shore. He paused, turning back towards Jack, a confused expression crossing his face. "What are you wearing?"
Jack laughed. "I thought I'd try something new."
Jamie nodded. "I like it."
"Yeah kid, me too," Jack said as he followed Jamie, who was wearing jeans and blue t-shirt, across the ice.
Jack lay balanced on a tree branch, blue eyes studying the stars as golden dreamsand drifted past. He didn't need to turn to know that Sandy had just floated down beside him.
"Hey Sandy," Jack said, raising a hand to run his fingers through the flowing stream of gold. A flurry of golden snowflakes burst from the stream to float around Jack. Jack looked over at Sandy, who was sitting peacefully on his cloud. A question mark appeared over Sandy's head.
"Jamie said you visited him, while I was recovering."
"He said you were worried."
Again, Sandy nodded his head.
Sandy met Jack's eyes at this, hundreds of images flashing overhead, the main one being the five Guardians together. The message was clear. 'Because you're family and we care about you, did you really have to ask?'
Jack laughed. "Sorry, didn't mean to sound ungrateful. It's just," Jack sighed. "I'm still not used to this. Having people that care about me. People that worry about me. It's different."
Another question mark.
"I like it," Jack confirmed. "It's just gonna take time getting used to it, that's all."
Sandy nodded, turning to watch as his golden streams twined their way into the peaceful town. They sat in companionable silence, each content to watch the stars and dreams that surrounded them slowly fade to give way to the rising sun.
"Guess the others will be worried, huh?" Jack asked.
"I'm fine, you know," Jack said. "You don't need to worry."
Sandy gave Jack a look, and this time there was no need for images to communicate his meaning.
Jack nodded, leaping lightly off his branch and letting the wind catch him and pull him into the sky. "Well, I can't let Kangaroo have all the fun in Santa's workshop. Besides, I hate these pants."
Sandy laughed, following Jack as they made their way towards Santoff Claussen. He had to admit, Jack looked just like any teenage kid in those clothes. But it was obvious the kid was uncomfortable. Sandy just hoped the new pair of pants they had made for him would work, considering the fact that his old pair had been ruined.
"And I'm not telling anymore stories," Jack said, spinning midair to face Sandy. "It's not like it's important how my staff broke in the past anyways."
Sandy shook his head and Jack turned and continued flying. He wouldn't press Jack on the details, it was obvious Jack didn't want to talk about it. However, Sandy couldn't guarantee that the others would leave Jack alone about it.
Suppressing a sigh, Sandy resigned himself to being the mediator once again for whom he considered his younger siblings as they squabbled over particulars. It seemed that this was his new role in their little family ever since Jack came into their lives. And although it gave Sandman a headache most of the time, he wouldn't have it any other way.
Well, there you have it, short I know, I'm sorry.
I don't know if I will continue this story past this as this seems like a good place to end it. I know many of you have requested a story from the Guardians' and Immortals' point of view concerning chapter 6 of Broken. I may or may not do that, but it will not be in this story here.
Once again, thank you all for your support, reviews, follows, and favorites. I know this chapter was super short, and that's not very nice to make you wait for so long for this short chapter and to find out this is the end. I really wasn't planning on ending it yet, it's just how it came out. Like I said, I may or may not make another story, but watch for it, its more possible than not, especially once I watch the movie again. Maybe then my plot bunnies and muse will return to me.
For now, thanks for reading! Hope you enjoyed it!