Sorry for the long wait but I've been really busy! Here's a new chapter that has taken too long to update!
Hope you enjoy!
North led us to an elevator, taking us down into the lower levels of the workshop. I was still troubled over the news that Pitch was back but I couldn't help but be taken with the magical workshop. Yeti's and elves all bustled around the workplace, the Yeti's seeming to do a lot more of the work then the elves. Jack was looking around as well.
"It's nothing personal I just don't think I'm cut out for what you guys do." I sighed. Figures he'd forget to mention me again. North raised an eyebrow at Jack before looking over to me.
"And what about you Fauna?" I was surprised he even remembered I was here. I thought about it for a few moments. Of course I wanted to stop Pitch and becoming a Guardian would finally make me strong enough. Just as I was about to answer North I caught sight of Jack standing behind him, his eyebrow furrowed in confusion as my hesitation stretched out.
As much as I wanted to help stop the Boogyman and finally face Pitch after over three hundred years, I could never leave Jack. He was my rock, my family. He was my best friend. Where he goes I go, simple as that.
"It's not my thing," I finally answered, shrugging. Jack visibly relaxed, even letting out a small sigh. I didn't think he would care that much. It's probably because without me, kids might not like his snow days as much.
"Well Man in Moon seems to think it is your thing," North replied stubbornly as he signed a form a yeti handed him. I rolled my eyes at the persistent toy-maker, following on behind him.
"Whoa slow down," Jack said as he marvelled more at the amazing work shop. "We've been trying to bust in here for years, I want to get a good look." I rushed over to him, clamping my hand over his mouth.
"Shhh! He's not supposed to know tha-"
"What do you mean bust in?" North asked, swiveling round to glare down at us.
"Relax we've never made it past the yeti's. Hey Phil," he greeted. Phil glared down at us. I smiled apologetically at him.
"Sorry again," I mumbled as I spied the frost pattern across his back. He growled but moved on with his work.
"Keep up you two!" North called behind him. Jack and I jogged to catch up. I could feel Jack's eyes on me, almost burning a hole in the side of my head. I tried to ignore it, choosing instead to laugh at the yeti shredding on a toy guitar.
"I always thought the elves made the toys," I mumbled, trying to make conversation. Jack nodded, looking up at North.
"We just let them believe that," he whispered to us. I stopped beside two elves, one hooked up to Christmas lights and standing on a music box. Jack came up to me, placing his chin on my shoulder to watch the elves.
"What are they do-" the elf connected the Christmas lights and the other one lit up, starting to spin on the music box.
"Very nice. Keep up good work," North said, grabbing our shoulders and leading us away. I giggled as I followed and instantly Jack was back to watching me. It was flattering and unsettling at the same time. "I don't like it, paint it red!" I watched the yeti slam his head on the table next to hundreds of blue painted robots, knowing he had no choice but to obey the boss. "Step it up everybody!" North bellowed throughout the factory and, if possible, it came more alive. I could have stayed there forever if North didn't drag us into his office.
The walls seemed to be made of ice, the colour reflecting Jack's eyes perfectly. A desk sat at the back in front of a huge window, the great expanse of the north pole stretching out before us. Frozen figurines were dotted around, perfectly rounded and completely see through.
"Fruit cake?" I started back to reality, turning to North to see him holding a plate.
"Uh...no thanks," Jack answered for us. North threw the plate away. Jack was still looking around the huge room but I was staring right at North, feeling the air grow tense as his expression hardened.
"Now we get down to tax appress," he growled, cracking his knuckles.
"Tax appress?" Jack repeated in confusion.
The door slammed shut, making me jump. Jack spun round to it, eyes wide before he turned back to North. The huge man advanced on us, dwarfing us completely. Jack pushed me behind him before I could blink, pressing both of us against the door. Instinctively my arms wrapped around his chest, holding him close and readying myself to jump in if needed.
"Who are you Jack Frost?! And you Fauna Autumn?!" North demanded. "What is your centre?" what the hell is a centre? Jack pushed himself forwards a little, getting in North's face. I know he's brave but challenging North was just stupid.
"My centre?" looks like Jack didn't know either.
"Man in Moon chose you to be a Guardian, you must have something very special inside." I couldn't keep the smile from quirking at my mouth so I buried my face in Jack's hood. Special didn't begin to describe Jack. When Jack still didn't answer him North leaned back, thinking it over.
"Jack?" I whispered. He turned his head. "Are you sure you don't want to help them?" his brow furrowed.
"Fauna wha-" he was interrupted by North coming back over, placing something in his hands.
"This is how you two see me no?" he asked. It was a Russian doll, painted to look like him but with a very angry looking face. "Very big and intimidating."
"I'll say," I mumbled. North laughed, cuffing me lightly on the shoulder.
"But if you get to know me a little...well? Go on." Jack glanced at me, holding the doll carefully in his hands.
"Open it," I whispered. He opened the first one up.
"You are down right jolly?" he asked, smirking up at him. I snickered at the happy face painted onto the wood.
"Not just jolly," he said, prompting Jack to open the next one. "I am also mysterious." this time I laughed out loud at the caped North, his eyes just peeking out over the top of a red cape. "And fearless." my eyes widened at the war cry face. "And caring." was that a deer? Jack seemed a little more skeptical of what was going on. "And at my center?" Jack opened up the last one, letting it slip out into North's open hand.
"There's a tiny wooden baby," Jack sighed, unimpressed.
"Look closer," North murmured. Jack stared at the small doll, eyes narrowed in concentration.
"Uh...you have big eyes."
"Yes!" we both jumped again at the outburst, Jack's hand going to my stomach to push me back again. "Big eyes! Very big because they are full of wonder." he grabbed Jack by his shoulders, pulling him away from me. This whole thing was more for Jack then me, he was the strong one, more important so I just leaned against the desk as North took him away. "That is my centre, what I was born with. Eyes that have always seen the wonder in everything." a plane flew past and I couldn't help but smile as it floated out the door. "The lights in the trees and magic in the air." North lead Jack out of his office, following the plane. I followed them, stopping at the door. "This wonder is what I put into the world and what I protect in children. It is what makes me a Guardian." the plane flew past Jack again, coming to me. I opened my hands and caught it, holding the fragile frame gently. Jack smiled at me warmly and I felt the heat creep up my neck. He chuckled before looking down at the wooden figurine in his hand. North stood beside him. "It is my center. What is yours?"
I could see the desire to answer in Jack's eyes as he stared up at North. I wish I could help him, with all my heart I want to be able to make him feel useful.
"I don't know," he finally sighed, looking down in defeat. North nodded in understanding, closing Jack's fingers around the figurine.
I shouldn't be here.
The people here, no matter how crazy or grouchy they are, are all here for the same reason: they can protect kids. They know they're powers and how to use them properly. I create fluffy crystals of frozen water.
Fauna had stayed quiet the whole time North had been talking, watching us. Fauna deserves to be here. She always takes care of the kids, oldest to youngest. She even took care of Sophie when the dog knocked her down. Fauna would give her life for the kids.
But would she really leave me to help the Guardian's? She hesitated when North asked her, I saw it. She wanted to say yes and only I was holding her back.
"And what about you Fauna?" her eyes focused on us, so lost in her own thoughts she started slightly.
"Me?" she asked. North chuckled.
"Well Man in Moon chose both of you, not just Jack." Fauna bit her lip, eyes going to the floor again.
My heart pounded as we both waited for her to say something. She thought I had been listening to North as he spoke but I was watching her the whole time. The way her eyes lit up when North spoke about wonder, the way she smiled at the factory. Everything she did was full of light and beauty.
She was so beautiful.
"I don't have a centre," she mumbled. "My power isn't even that great." I was beside her in a second, hand on her shoulder. She never spoke like that, ever. I never let her even if she hinted at it. She wouldn't look at me, eyes glued to the floor. I squeezed her shoulder but she still didn't move.
"Fau-" her head snapped up and I smiled, only for it to drop when she turned to look back into North's office. Shapes flittered past, Tooth's shadow flying past. Footsteps alerted us to a new presence and we turned as Bunny raced up the stairs.
"We have a problem mate," he said gravely, brow lowered in a deeper then normal frown. "Trouble at the Tooth Palace."
"Come on everyone! Move it! Move it! North continued to order his yeti's and elves around as we all made our way down ice caverns until we reached a huge door. Fauna hadn't said a word since the centre thing, she had barely looked up from the floor. I found out quickly that she wouldn't answer me so I focused on what North was saying.
"What is wrong with you guys?" I tried to yell at the other Guardian's as I heard the word sleigh get tossed around. "There is no way Fauna and I are climbing into a rickety...old...sleigh?"
I trailed off, silenced by the pounding of the reindeer's hooves as the doors were opened. I watched awe struck as they were lead out, tossing their great antlered heads from side to side. I laughed as one whinnied at me, jumping back in surprise. Fauna was watching the display with wide eyes, probably expecting Rudolph to come prancing through. She giggled when I leaped up, placing a hand on my arm. But what took my breath away the most was the sleigh, the paint shinning like it was brand new as the high tech wings unfolded into place. Everything about it just screamed badass ride...for the jolly old toy maker.
"Okay one quick ride but that's it," I relented, hopping in before offering my hand to Fauna. She ignored it, climbing in beside me. I frowned, not liking this quiet Fauna.
"Everyone loves the sleigh," North said smugly as he climbed in, seating himself in front of us. Sandman hopped in behind Fauna, smiling like crazy while Bunny stayed where he was. "Bunny! What are you waiting for?" North demanded. Both Fauna and I turned to see that Bunny still had yet to get into the sleigh.
"I-I uh...I think my tunnels might be faster mate," he said, hitting the sleigh with his foot tentatively. "And uh...and safer." Just as Bunny started to walk away North grabbed him by the scruff of his neck, hauling him into the sleigh beside me.
"Buckle up," he laughed as he readied the reigns.
"Wait! Where are the bloody seatbelts?" Bunny cried as he searched frantically.
"That was just expression!" North laughed heartily and I took great pleasure in Bunny's terrified look. I think it's time I got a little payback for Bunny ruining me and Fauna's moment on the rooftop. "Are we ready?!" North bellowed, choosing to ignore the yeti telling him no as he cracked the reins. The reindeer snorted loudly, some pawing the ground heavily. He cracked them again and within seconds we were off, Bunny's claws digging into the sleigh so hard they left marks. I chuckled, already thinking up ways to mess with him.
North laughed like a madman, Fauna was whooping loudly, I was standing up like I was snowboarding, Sandy had his hands in the air and Bunny? Bunny was screaming like a little girl. North pulled a lever and we sped up, going into a loop.
"I hope you like the loop-de-loop!" he laughed as we swirled.
"I hope you like carrots," Bunny retorted, barely able to hold back his barf. As the exit got closer I jumped to the edge, ready to feel the wind in my hair. Bunny was still screaming but when I looked round to laugh my breath caught in my throat.
Fauna's hair was whipping around her face, her eyes so bright they were like two golden suns as she laughed. I was so deeply entranced that I barely missed North's laughter as we leapt from the cave, the jolt almost knocking me from the sleigh. Fauna lifted her head, catching my eyes. I blushed, turning to Bunny. Revenge time.
"Hey Bunny, check out this view-whoa!" I cried as I flew off the back of the sleigh, grinning at Bunny's cry as I landed on one of the rungs.
"JACK?!" was that Fauna? She knows I can fly, why is she worried?
"Ahh North!" Bunny yelled, taking an extra long time to look over the edge. When he finally did I smirked up at him.
"Ahh you do care." Bunny glowered down at me.
"Oh rack off you bloody show pony!" he yelled down at me. I laughed as I floated back up, landing next to Fauna.
"Don't do that!" she yelled, smacking me on the arm.
"Ow! You know I can fly!" I snapped at her.
"Yeah but...you caught me off guard." she said it so quietly I almost didn't hear her. I touched her arm gently.
"Hey, it's okay." why is she acting so weirdly? It's like she's a different person all of a sudden.
"Hold on everyone! I know a short cut!" North bellowed. I sat back against the sleigh, choosing to let Fauna be. If she wanted to suddenly act weird then fine.
"Oh scruff, I knew I should have taken the tunnels," Bunny moaned, shrinking in his seat.
"I say...tooth palace," I heard North whisper to something before he tossed it into the air, a portal opening up before us. We shot through, coming out into somewhere that looked like the Indian mountains. I grinned at the palace before the racing black Mares caught my eye. "What?" North breathed. He swerved tightly to the left as one barrelled towards us, more and more racing away from the tooth palace. I narrowed my eyes as one above us chased a bunch of the Fairies.
"They're taking the tooth fairies!" Fauna cried, standing up.
"I got it!" I yelled, leaping up from the sleigh, just grabbing the Baby Tooth in time. I landed back in the sleigh, Fauna instantly coming to my side. "Hey little Baby Tooth, you okay?" I asked gently. She nodded, curling into my hand.
"Is she okay?" Fauna asked. I nodded and she sighed in relief. North quickly directed us into the palace, handing me the reins roughly. I snapped the reins as he stood up with swords drawn, cleaving straight through one of the NightMares. Little canisters tumbled into the sleigh. Bunny picked one up.
"They're stealing the teeth!" he cried.
I looked form Bunny to Sandy as the small man wiped his arm. Black sand came away with his hand, Sandy looking confusedly at it.
"Jack look out!" North yelled, the sleigh spiraling as Jack fought to keep control. He ended up crashing us into the ground, sending me flying forwards and hitting the front seat.
"Fauna!" Jack cried, leaping into the back. "Are you okay?" he asked as he helped me up.
"I'm fine," I sighed, my head killing. Jack looked ready to make a fuss but a frantic humming made us look up to see Tooth whizzing around her golden cages.
"Tooth!" North yelled up to her. "Are you alright?!" we all climbed out of the sleigh as she came closer.
"They...they took all my Fairies...a-and the teeth, all of them. Everything," she sobbed as the others climbed up to comfort her. Jack and I stayed put, me feeling useless as Tooth sobbed. A squeak made me look at Jack to see Baby Tooth climb out of his hoodie and zoom up to Tooth. "Oh thank goodness!" she gasped, holding the fairy to her. "At least one of you is safe." I smiled faintly, glad Tooth felt a little better.
"I have to say this is very very exciting." I froze, feeling a chill in my bones at the familiar voice. "The big four all in one place. I'm a little starstruck." I glared at the figure standing in the platform above the others. Jack turned to look at me, his brow furrowed.
"Fauna? Are you o-"
"Did you like my little show on the globe North? Got you all together didn't it?" I glared up at Pitch, pulling my arm away when Jack tried to touch it.
"Pitch!" Tooth yelled as he disappeared behind a big gold statue. "You have thirty seconds to return my Fairies!" she yelled as she followed him, only to re-appear without him.
"Or what? You'll stick a quarter under my pillow?" Pitch mocked from a different platform. I glared feeling my blood boil at the sight of him. "And Fauna? Is that you? How long has it been? Four hundred? Five hundred years?" I growled low in my throat, Jack turning his eyes on me.
"Why are you doing this?" North demanded but Jack didn't look away from me.
"Maybe I want what you have," Pitch stated, pointing menacingly at us. "To be believed in." That made Jack turn his head, eyes narrowing at Pitch. "Maybe I'm tired of hiding under beds!" Jack continued to watch Pitch, his angry look fading into one of confusion.
"Don't let him entice you Jack," I whispered harshly. Before he could respond, Bunny shouted up to Pitch.
"Maybe that's where you belong!"
"Oh go suck an egg rabbit," Pitch mumbled, turning away to smoothly dodge Bunny's grab. He disappeared and I instantly grew on edge. "Is that Jack Frost?" I froze, feeling the hair on the back of my neck stand up as he chuckled. If Pitch even lays a finger on Jack I'll kill him myself. "Since when are you all chummy?"
"We're not," Jack said warily.
"Of good...a neutral party. Then I'm going to ignore you," Pitch said in a bored tone before walking back into the shadows. "But you must be used to that by now."
"Pitch!" I snapped, running at him with my hands aglow. Bunny and Tooth charged with me, Bunny shouting as he loosed a boomerang. Pitch disappeared and I spun round to find him. Tooth spotted him first and charged at him. I followed and just as we were about to reach him a black NightMare reared up in front of us. I hit the floor hard while Tooth jumped back. Jack was beside me in a second, grabbing my elbow and hauling me up.
"You okay?" Jack asked as Pitch calmed his monster.
"Look familiar Sandman?" he asked, letting some black sand sift through his fingers. "Took me a while to perfect this little trick. Turning dreams into nightmares." He continued to laugh while Sandy just glared at him. "Don't be nervous," he said, looking straight at me. Jack's hand tightened on my arm. "They can smell fear."
"What fear?!" Bunny snapped, grabbing his boomerang from Tooth. "Of you? Ha! No one's been afraid of you since the dark ages!" I couldn't suppress the shiver that ran through me as all the horrible memories came rushing back.
"Oh the Dark Ages," Pitch mused. "Everyone frightened. Miserable. Such happy times for me! Oh the power I wielded." He chuckled at the horrific memories before turning to me. "I was unstoppable, wasn't I Fauna?" I grit my teeth at him, ready to charge. Jack's confused gaze stopped me though, holding me in place as I refused to return it. "But then the Man in the Moon chose you to replace my fear with your wonder and light," he spat. "Lifting their hearts and giving them hope. Meanwhile everyone wrote me off, 'oh there's noBoogyman.'," Pitch paused, snarling down at us. "Well that's all about to change."
As if to underline his point the golden archways and crossings started to crumble, chips and dust falling to the ground. "Aw, it's happening already."
"What is?" Jack demanded as he stared worriedly at what was happening. I looked over to Tooth, her hardened expression turning to heartbreak.
"Children are waking up and realising the Tooth Fairy never came. It's such a little thing...but to a child." He laughed and I just wanted to vaporise him with my light beams.
"What's going on?" Jack asked. Could he really not tell what was going on?
"They...they don't believe in me anymore," Tooth answered dejectedly.
"That's right," Pitch said with cruel humour. "Jack and Fauna, it's great being a Guardian, but there's a catch. If kids stop believing then all the things they protect, hope, wonder...it all goes away. And little by little, so do they." Pitch chuckled before he continued. "No Christmas. No Easter. No little fairies coming in the night. There will be nothing but fear and darkness and me." His sinister smile hardened into a glare. "It's your turn not to be believed in."
Bunny threw a boomerang at Pitch, only just missing the Nightmare King as he mounted his Mare and sped away. We all leaped after him, me up front and ahead of the others.
"Fauna!" Jack shouted after me but I ignored him.
"Careful of the company you keep Fauna," Pitch growled. I sped up, determined to catch him. "You never know when Frost will melt." The darkness in his tone made me freeze, suspended in the air. Colours exploded around me and I screamed while Pitch disappeared into a crevice in the wall.
"Fauna!" I heard Jack yell but before I could look I felt his body encase mine, trapping me as he lowered us to the ground. "What were you thinking? Pitch could have hurt you and Bunny could have blown you up!" He scolded. I didn't answer, shaking from my spot, curled up on the floor with Jack's arms still around me. "Fauna?"
"He's gone," I said sharply, standing up and out of Jack's arms. I could feel his eyes on me, regarding me with confusion and worry. Pitch's words still rang in my head. I knew Pitch was dangerous, my years in the Dark Ages before the Guardian's were chosen were enough proof. But now he's set his sights on Jack it's suddenly got a lot more personal.
I already said it once: If he hurts Jack I'll kill him myself.
What's Fauna's involvement with Pitch? Why is she getting so defensive of Jack? How far will she go to protect him? There's only one way to find out...