AN: Hey guys, I hope 2013 is going your way. Here's the newest chapter, but please remember, I update once a week- so don't freak out if I haven't updated for five days, the story won't be abandoned, ha!
Also, you're about to see some names that you may or may not recognize. DON'T fret, this story is NOT turning into some mega-crossover, these are just side characters. It's all about Tooth and Jack! Thanks so much for the thoughtful and appreciative reviews, I read every single one. Constructive criticism is welcome as well, I have no problem with it!
There is more fanart the story received if you want to check it out here: greenakuma1()deviantart()com/art/The-Coldest-and-the-Boldest-346160594 : don't forget to insert the periods where the parenthesis are. Enjoy!
Tooth was a little peeved. The hand holding hadn't lasted for even five minutes.
Jack had released her from his cool grip when North braked way too hard for a pedestrian.
The muscular young man scoffed, slamming the steering wheel. "Gah! Why Americans so slow in foot? You see car coming, you move!"
The white haired teen untangled himself from Sandy and straightened out his clothes with shaky hands. He blew out a shaky breath and looked over at Tooth with accusation written all over his face.
"This guy? This guy is the 'safest driver you know'?" he questioned disbelievingly.
Tooth gave a sheepish smile, shrugging her shoulders and blowing the displaced hair out of her face. Like she said, North was a pretty safe driver. No accidents, ever! Still, that fact didn't guarantee that he was a particularly good driver.
She didn't miss the slight tremble that returned to Jack's limbs. She didn't want to mess up her chance with him before it even began by scaring him back off into the blizzard.
Tooth leaned forward from the backseat and poked her head into the front. She looked over to Bunnymund. His sun kissed skin was now a sheer pale and his dark blue hair was matted to his forehead with nervous sweat. His furry brows were high and his green eyes were wide. He looked like he was about to lose his lunch.
Tooth scooted herself back away from him a bit. Every time North drove, the tall boy turned ghastly ill. He had yet to actually upchuck in North's car- the Russian boy might quite literally KILL him- but that didn't mean it wasn't possible.
"Could you tone down your inner speed racer for today? Please! Bunnymund looks about ready to heave that radish stew he ate earlier, Sandy is too freaked to fall asleep, and Jack is about to ditch our trip to the arcade."
North eyed the jaywalker scrambling off of the road and the red light before them, before grumbling back over to Tooth.
"I always drive like this. Bunnymund always get sick and Sandy never sleep, you NEVER notice before. Why you insist for Frost boy to join group so much?"
Tooth chewed on her lip in frustration before whispering lowly so that only North would hear, "He's my friend, North. And he's been in a car accident. You driving like a maniac isn't helping. Please North, for me."
North nodded in understanding. He didn't like upsetting the people he cared about, and Toothiana obviously cared about the chilly teenager sitting in the back of his car.
"Of course Toothiana! Besides, I owe you for delicious cookies. Put on seat belt!"
He slammed down on the pedal eager to beat the next traffic light, sending Tooth lurching backwards and slamming into Jack. She yelped out, surprised, and he grunted from her sudden weight. She couldn't help but notice how close they had been pushed together, feeling his rough and torn jeans on the bottoms of her thighs. She quickly clambered off of his lap before he could push her away and seated herself down, her face burning. Jack didn't notice her embarrassment. He was too busy clambering for a seat belt to notice.
For the rest of the ride North drove only slightly reckless and not full-on like he usually did. Jack relaxed back into the seat, huffing out heavily and shutting his eyes. Tooth suspected that he wasn't sleeping and peered over often during the ride at his calm face, wondering what he was thinking about.
For the first time, Sandy actually was able to fall asleep in North's car. Bunnymund still had his head resting on the window, breathing deeply and trying to get a hold on his nausea.
Not fifteen minutes had passed before they reached the arcade, despite the horrid snow. The red four-wheel drive barreled it's way through the steadily piling snow like it was built for just this- winter. They pulled up nice and easy in front of the bright building. Tooth smiled at North's progressively better driving. She was so proud!
They all clambered out and North shut off the ignition as the rest of them headed into the building, Jack straggling behind.
North eyed the shady boy suspiciously and couldn't help but notice how much of a vulture the boy looked like as Jack stalked behind the group. He still wasn't sure how to feel about this new boy. He could tell he wasn't a bad kid...but he didn't seem all that good, either.
Tooth noticed him straggling. His shoulders were slumped and his dark jeans and sweater were the only thing sticking out of the weathering storm. While everyone else was wrapped up in warm coats, plump mittens, and scarves, all Jack wore was his jeans, his boots, and his familiar blue hoodie. He seemed to fit perfect in the setting as the dense snow blew all about them, not even shivering in the slightest. Tooth wondered at his skin and how it matched the snowflakes in a near-albino sort of way, but as always, the deep blue eyes dispelled any of her thoughts of him having no pigmentation. His expression was vacant as the snow slapped his white hair around.
Tooth shivered violently. It was absolutely glacial out here! And he didn't even have a coat on. No wonder other people called him the coldest...in body and mind. He worried her.
Tooth slowed and let Sandy and Bunnymund stroll ahead and push into the arcade's entrance. She couldn't see or hear Jack through the snow very well. What a crazy blizzard! Maybe they should've went home instead of coming here? Could Jack see anything past all this flurry?
She gently gripped his arm to help him towards the arcade entrance. He slipped out of her grasp as quick and as easily as she had first gripped him, strolling up past her and ahead to the doors.
Tooth's face fell and she looked down listlessly at her boots. She walked faster to catch up, embarrassed and confused. Hadn't he just been holding her hand and smiling a few minutes ago? What happened to touchy-feely Jack? She had loved the feel of his calloused, cool fingers jammed up against her soft ones.
She regained a little bit of hope as she noticed him open the door for her, ushering her in with a nod of his head. She jogged in, followed closely by North, before the door shut behind them and blocked out the sounds and winds of the blizzard with it.
Tooth adjusted her hat and looked up in awe.
The arcade was stock full of all kinds of games, from old ones to new ones. Many of the titles she could recognize, while others mystified her. She saw high tech computers in one corner of the large room, whereas the other side held all the old-fashioned quarter arcade games. The modern games were scattered all over the place with all sorts of cool looking simulators. People, young and old, left and right, were playing all over the arcade. It appeared as if no one had heeded the news channel's warning. Tooth looked on as another group of kids from Burgess High swept by. Apparently no one had listened to the school's warning either.
Her hand reached up to the familiar weight around her neck. Her special necklace glinted brightly against her chest, calming her nerves.
Tooth observed all of the bright lights and colors before turning to Jack. There were so many people here...he wasn't a big fan of crowds, she had figured. He didn't like touch and he didn't like idle conversation, something that other kids were bound to do. He didn't regret coming, did he?
She jumped in surprise to see his mischievous smirk back on his face as he looked around, liking what he saw.
"Games from the ceiling to floor? Cool place." he said, looking over to her. "I needed a good game. Now...where's Mortal Kombat?"
Bunnymund's shoulders perked up before he strode over and leaned into Jack's face.
"Mortal Kombat, eh Frost? I'll have you know that I hold the highest record in here for that game. And don't be too upset if you see my name at the top of Street Fighter, either. I rule at all the fighting games. Bloody oath, it is!" he declared, jabbing his thumb in his chest and letting loose a big smile. Tooth liked Bunny's smile. He had the largest teeth out of anyone in the group, though it didn't make him look silly. As a matter of fact, it made him look even more dashing to her, having such a broad shiner.
Jack perked up an eyebrow, intrigued by Bunnymund's bragging and better attitude. From what he had seen, he figured the tall nature-nutball was always cranky. So, cottontail thought that he would beat him at a game, huh? Jack grinned internally, keeping his outer appearance calm. This would be fun.
"-Cottontail?! Why, you little galah-"
"-you think you're so good? Try me. I'll teach you what it really means to beat a high score."
"Ha! You? Beat my score? No way in hell, mate. You're on! Who're you playing?"
"Pfft, you like that ice guy? Well, I'm picking Kira. S'all about the boomerangs, Jack."
Tooth looked back and forth between the two boys, happy that they were finally warming up to each other. Kind of.
"Woah there, Cottontail! The pirate lady with the corset? You sure that all you like about her is her boomerangs?"
Bunnymund flushed a deep violet, spluttering before shouting, "I'll show you just how much damage a boomerang can do-" he thought desperately of a comeback for the rude boy before him, "-Frostbite!"
Jack looked at hims strangely before clapping his hands over his mouth and giggling at the tall and frustrated Australian boy. "Frostbite? You're serious?" he chuckled, racking with laughter. Tooth loved the way the skin around his eyes crinkled when he laughed, how his cheeks would fill with pink and his eyes with mirth.
As natural as the cold had looked on him, Tooth thought that joy looked just as good.
Bunnymund fumed before racing over the machine to put his quarter in. He would show Jack; he would have the last laugh. Jack, Sandy, and North all followed, curious to see the outcome.
Tooth trailed behind them, happy and content. They were warming up to each other! All it took was a ton of cookies, a scary car ride, and a building full of violent video games. She had never seen Jack with other kids before. To see him huddled up at the arcade game with the others...she felt a warm feeling rise up within her. They were almost like family! As she walked up her violet gaze dropped to Jack's hands, his lips.
Hm. Almost like a family.
She didn't look at the others the way she looked at Jack, not really. As she approached, North and Sandy stepped aside so that she could place herself near Jack. She watched him hunch over and manage the controls recklessly, his strong back curling and his attention focused on the screen before him. She had to stop herself from looking past his belt line and gulped hard, looking at his hair instead and thinking good thoughts.
'No Tooth, don't be creepy, don't check him out, just watch the game like everyone else.'
Tooth clasped her hands behind her back and kept her gaze away from the pert rear before her.
Several games had passed and Jack had won nearly every single one. Instead of giving up at the hopeless odds like any other person would have done, Bunnymund simply dug in his heels and played harder.
Tooth got tired of watching the colorful figures beat each other to a pulp on the screen and left the gang to find a game that would pick up her interest again. She sighed. No dentist or teeth games in sight! What rotten luck.
Something on the edge of her vision grabbed her attention. She turned.
It was a flight simulator! Tooth watched as the seats moved themselves along with the screen. Instantly, her mother came to her mind. It was an aircraft game and was all about manuevering your plane to safety whilst shooting the others out of the sky. It was a two-seater. Tooth's eyes widened. Cool!
She waited patiently for the game to be unnocupied before she leapt into the seat and put on the simulator safety belt. When she heard another safety click beside her, she swerved around in shock. Was Jack joining her? Did Bunnymund or Sandy want to play? Had Anansi found her somehow?
No, no, and no.
"You don't mind if I play with you, right?" came the deep, baritone voice.
She shook her head, her mouth gaping a bit. The handsome young man who had sat by her was...well, handsome. He had slick brown hair and a dazzling smile. His teeth weren't as perfect as Jack's, but they were pretty close. She smiled at him in approval. Teeth like that didn't show up just anywhere.
He gave her a sly look, taking her smile as approval.
"Of course you don't mind. None of the ladies do."
As he gripped the wheel with strong hands, Tooth could only notice that he had to be older than her or any of her friends. Maybe he was a college student? There was no way that this guy was still in high school with a voice, a beard, and a body like that.
Before she could speculate any further, the game began and the simulator jostled back and forth, the young man next to her grinning and whooping.
"Alright, let's win this! Hey, uh- what was your name?"
Tooth clapped her hands onto the steering wheel nervously. "...Toothiana." she supplied.
The guy stopped for a moment before glancing over at her. "Wait...are you serious? TOOTH-iana?"
She nodded a little miserably. It hadn't been the first time someone had to emphasize the weirdness that was her name.
"Well then. Your parents must've been crazy for naming such a pretty thing like you with such a silly name like that. I know this one girl, with a wacky name just like yours, except her's is one of those old fashioned German names, way too long if you ask me! Like her hair, it's just waaayy too long, but she says her mom won't let her cut it or anything. I met her mom once. The lady's a real witch, nothing like her daughter, y'know? And then there's..."
As he went on chattily, Tooth couldn't help but notice the "pretty" comment. That was a nice surprise, she thought as she sat back in her seat. Rarely anyone complimented her on her looks.
She didn't have self-image issues and she knew she wasn't ugly, it was just...it was nice to hear sometimes from other people. Especially when you carried around weird collections of teeth in your backpack for a hobby, or a strange name in your title. Not to mention the genetically mutated eyes or the darker, Southeast Asian skin. Not many people besides her parents had told her before, and everyone knew that parents didn't really count.
She scoffed to herself. North, Bunny, and Sandy would never try to comment on her appearance unless she was fishing for compliments, which was never. Tooth liked the way she looked! Besides; she didn't want to make things awkward for the guys by going on a tense rant of how 'fat' she was or how much her hair 'sucked'. She didn't believe any of those things, anyway. Her mother and father had always taught her that she was gorgeous in more ways than one. When the girls and boys in her seventh grade class began dating one another, she ended up standing alone and having to tell herself, 'Just because no one wants to date you doesn't mean anything. You're still a good person. You're still worth something.'
She sighed softly at a new thought in her mind.
The only boy she had ever really wanted to notice her looks was the boy who didn't really notice anybody. She didn't expect any compliments from 'the coldest kid in town' anytime soon. She didn't really expect any comments from him at all. Sure, he could say, "Nice teeth you drew there", or "These are some damn good cookies you made", but she would never expect him to say anything like, "Wow...you're beautiful," or "You're a cool girl, Tooth".
The simulator jostled her out of her thoughts as it whirred back and forth. Digital enemy pilots flew at them on the screen, trying to shoot them down. The boy next to her shouted out in excitement, "Dodge em', dodge em'!"
"What?!" Tooth asked loudly, wondering why she ever stepped foot in this game. She didn't know the controls and was getting frazzled. Which buttons should she press? Was that lever going to make the plane go faster, or slower?
The boy turned their plane sideways, laughing gleefully before answering, "I control the weapons on this side, you control the plane! Keep us out of the way of their missiles and I'll shoot em' down!"
And so Tooth did what he said and maneuvered her way through the levels, twirling, nosediving, and drifting all across the pixelated skies. He shot up every enemy that came their way and before she knew it, they had won the high score together. He sat back, sighing contently at the victory music the game bleeped out.
"Good game, Tooth-chick." He called out impressed. She felt a little spark of admiration for the boy's friendliness build inside of her. He seemed nice enough. And she did have fun with him just now. Maybe they could be friends...?
She didn't catch his gaze lower to her shiny necklace.
Tooth shrugged an smiled at him. She didn't know what had happened! It was like instincts had taken over for her when she had handled the plane. Then again, it was just a silly arcade game. It didn't mean she could really fly or anything.
The boy was about to say something more to her before a high pitched voice broke through the air.
"Flynn? Flynn! You come out this instant!"
His eyes widened as he peeked out of the simulator anxiously before settling himself back inside with Tooth. She eyed him warily. Was he hiding from someone?
"Who's that?" she inquired. "It sounds like they're looking for you." She began to poke her head out of the simulator before she was pulled back by her waist from behind. Plopping back down hard in the seat, she shot the handsome boy a look. She liked his happy, sly attitude, but she didn't like the grabbing. She could do without the grabbing.
"Oh, c'mon!" he groaned in exasperation. "I can't let her find me!"
"Why? Who is she?"
"You know, for someone I just met you sure do ask a lot of questions," he accused frowning, "I'm hiding from my friend, Rapunzel. The German one? She's pissed because I stole something after I told her I wouldn't anymore. She found out. I hang out here at the arcade a lot, so now here she is, looking for me." He had said it like it was the most obvious thing in the world.
Tooth looked at him with shock. Stealing? "Why would you steal in the first place? No wonder she's upset with you!"
The young female voice began to fade away before the familiar jingle of the arcade's front door jingled. She had left.
The boy shook his head. "Hey, you can't judge since you barely know me! And I can't help the stealing," he smirked playfully, "I have nimble fingers." He reached out to poke Tooth in her side a lightning speed to demonstrate. Tooth burst out giggling uncontrollably. Damn him! She was ticklish!
"Stop, stop it!" she cried, giggles making her body tremble as the weird older boy poked at her for the second time, smiling. She couldn't tell if he was a pervert, or just childish. Maybe both.
Tooth scrambled out of the simulator booth breathless and red. "I told you to stop!" she stated, still chuckling a little. He was so silly for someone his age, like a child! And stealing? Despite her earlier theft from Mrs. Crumpbittle, Tooth couldn't see herself getting familiar with thieves. She wasn't sure she wanted to know this guy.
She backed up straight into someone. Her laughing halted immediately as she glanced up into Jack's angry face. Woah!
She followed his hard gaze over to Flynn, whose smile dropped as well when he climbed out of the booth and saw Jack standing before him menacingly.
Oh jeez. This didn't look good. Jack side stepped past and placed himself in front of her, stepping forward.
Flynn was slightly taller than Jack and certainly more muscular, but the frigid boy carried a heavy weight with him like no other. Flynn thought he would catch the chills and start shivering any minute now.
"Oh! Uh...hey, Frost. How are you?" he tried being polite, even though his sarcasm bled through.
Jack glared darkly at him, his dark brows slowly furrowing.
"It wasn't what it looked like!" Flynn informed, throwing his hands up in surrender. "I wanted to play the arcade game, she wanted to play the arcade game, and there we were; playing and having a grand old time, haha!" His forced cheerfulness made even Tooth cringe. Had this guy and Jack already met before? What was with this tension in the air? They acted as if they already knew one another.
"We made fast friends and I was just teasing her. I didn't take anything from her, I swear."
Jack remained. Tooth began to tense up. She could feel a different kind of storm coming on and was clued in by the silence Jack insisted into the conversation.
Flynn could feel it coming too. "Okay, look man...yeah, I stole that cool woodworking staff of yours, but that was years ago! I don't have it anymore, alright? I sold it to that shady pawn broker...uh...what was his name?" Flynn snapped, trying to recall the memory. "Pitch, yeah it was Pitch! Nothing more I can do!"
Tooth gasped. This man had stolen something from Jack? When? How did they even know each other? And what staff...?
Tooth could see the Jack's back muscles locking in place as he tensed up in anger, ready to spring out like a tightly wound coil. Tooth stepped back.
"Well, I learnt my lesson. I'm sorry. I won't steal from you again, so..." Flynn skirted his way around Jack and passed by Tooth. "Forgive me? Alright, then, everybody's happy! See you around, Tooth-girl."
He smirked at her, reaching out to pat her shoulder. Jack's sharp eyes caught sight of a bright glint that shone between Flynn's fingers.
Everyone jumped as Jack's hand, quick as lightning, deflected Flynn's reach and trapped his wrist in Jack's iron grip.
"Don't touch her," he growled, seething and tightening his grip on Flynn.
"Ow ow ow ow, ow, Christ, alright man, just let- go!" Flynn yelled, trying to pull his hands away. Jack forcefully pried his fingers open, revealing Tooth's necklace. She gasped, her hand touching her neck to feel nothing there. He had stolen it from her back in the simulator!
Jack tossed it over to Tooth who caught it gratefully. Flynn ripped his wrist away, glaring at the both of them. He waved his hand in their direction as if they weren't worth his time, before turning on a heel and walking away.
Tooth stood stock still.
That was creepy.
"You okay?" Jack asked, looking at her uncertain and surprised to see her looking back uncertainly at him.
"How did...how did he...? I hadn't even seen-"
Jack frowned at her, a scowl appearing upon his ice mask.
"He wasn't messing around with you to be friendly. He probably started planning on how to take it from you the moment he saw it on you."
Tooth looked down at her necklace charm. It had a pair of blue, jewel-encrusted feathers dangling off the end of the chain. Her mother had gotten it for her birthday before she was deployed by the Air Force, and it was fairly expensive. She wore it everywhere. Never had she thought Flynn was actually reaching for it when he had poked her around back at the arcade game.
"But that's crazy! How would he steal it right in front of me? I was looking straight at him!"
Jack shook his head, looking at Tooth like she was a two year old.
"You don't get it. That guy is fast when it comes to stealing. Really fast. He lives near Burgess and everybody knows how handsy he is. It's the only reason why he was able to get my staff and get away with it for so long. I hadn't even figured out that he had taken it until a couple of months ago."
Jack calmly thought in the back of his mind. His staff. Flynn had sold it to Pitch. Damn. He wasn't going near that guy anytime soon.
"What was Flynn talking about? He stole a...staff from you?"
Jack looked up at her curious face. Hm. He wouldn't mind telling her about that. It wasn't that much of a secret or anything. He had loved that thing as a kid.
He shrugged. "I don't even know why Flynn took it. It's not worth anything. My uncle made it for me when I was a kid. He carved it out of wood just for me. I liked it because it made me feel like some kind of adventurer when my parents let me play in the forest."
Tooth perked up. Jack was willingly telling her about his past, finally! "The uncle that you live with now? Why not just ask him to make you another staff?"
"Yeah, Uncle Moon. I tried to get him to, but he said 'In due time, it'll come back to it's rightful owner'. Pfft, I doubt it. The guy is always so cryptic."
Tooth chuckled to herself. Uncle MOON? It sounded like Jack's uncle came straight out of a fairy tale. It seemed she wasn't the only one in Burgess with a weird name.
She smiled at the thought of a younger Jack running and playing around in the woods. He had said his parents let him. Did that mean that he had lived with them? Were they still around? Her throat closed as she remembered him talking about the car accident. Had he lost his parents?
"Are they..." she began, "...still alive? Your parents?"
Jack looked at her like she was crazy. "Of course they're still alive! Who told you they were dead?" he smirked a bit, chuckling. "I'm not some poor orphan, if that's what you're thinking."
Tooth breathed heavily. "Oh, I don't know! No one told me anything, I just assumed that...since you lived with your uncle-"
Jack simply waved the thought away, explaining, "Nah. They're all alive and kicking. I'm just staying with my uncle for now."
"Why aren't you living with your parents, then?"
A shadow passed over Jack's face and he shook his head, closing her off. "I'm not telling that story. Way too long."
Tooth slumped, a little upset. She had been shut out again! It didn't seem to her that he didn't want to tell it because it was too long.
He just didn't want to say it at all.
"Oh," Tooth said softly, feeling guilty again. There she was prying, always prying with him. "I-I just thought- well, you don't have to tell me. I'm glad you moved here, anyways." she offered him the smallest of grins and his frown melted away into neutrality.
"Yeah, yeah," he mumbled, trying desperately to dismiss her kind words and make her contagious grin fade away. "Just stay away from Flynn. And maybe next time, you might not wanna' play in any secluded simulators with weirdos, yeah?"
Tooth nodded quickly, not wanting to say anything that would irritate him any further at this point. They had been doing so well before Flynn showed up. She still couldn't believe he had the guts to steal her necklace right off of her! She was so angry. What if he had gotten away with it? She would've thought she dropped the necklace and ended up searching the arcade, looking all day for something that wasn't there. Flynn could have sold it or given it to his Rapunzel-friend.
She grasped it in her fingers, fighting the itching behind her eyes. She couldn't lose this. It was her mom's momento, something physical that embodied her love. Flynn couldn't take this. Not this.
So Jack had been looking out for her again? Sure, he had stopped Flynn over the stolen staff- but he had also stopped Flynn to get her necklace back. Kind of like how she stole his charm back from Mrs. Crumpbittle. The thought washed away all of her bad feelings from before and made her grin at the icy boy.
Still upset from Flynn, he glanced at her teasing grin and threw a glare her way.
"...What?" he demanded in his best, harsh voice. She was always smiling, always happy. What did she have to be so optimistic about all the time, anyways?
Tooth just let her dark lashes shut softly as she shook her head and laughed to herself. She opened them back up to see a less angry Jack, more curious in why she was acting so strange.
"You said you were good at Space Invaders earlier. You sure about that?" she challenged. Her voice was softer than Bunnymund's challenging one, and she had an easygoing tone. She wanted to have some fun.
'Cute,' Jack thought offhandedly, not really thinking straight as he gazed at her pearly whites. Christ, it was like she had a mouthful of diamonds or something. He bet that she brushed after every meal.
"Oh, I'm dead sure," he said with mirth in his eyes, following Tooth anxiously as she headed over to the old Space Invaders arcade machine, "...are you sure that you want to go up against this?" he spread his arms out in a dramatic fashion, unable to stop the smirk that played across his lips.
Tooth beamed at him and simply put in a quarter before starting up the game. Jack stepped forward, nestling beside her at the controls. As they both grasped onto their controls and levers, Tooth couldn't stop herself from sighing inwardly.
She loved this feeling. He wasn't straggling somewhere behind her or speeding away somewhere in front of her. He was right beside her, elbow to elbow and shoulder to shoulder. She could see all the features of his face perfectly and watch his hard hands move about the controls in expert skill.
Did Jack like games? Tooth wondered so. Maybe did like games, because as the arcade game before them blooped and bleeped on, Tooth could've sworn she saw a smile.
After beating her an impressive six times at Space Invaders, Tooth ended up believing Jack's claims at being amazing at it.
"Wow," she exclaimed, slumping at the sight of her terrible score on the arcade game. "I've never gotten that bad of a grade, before!" she laughed out loud before stopping herself.
How dumb could she be? Bragging about her grades in front of a someone who probably did not-so-great in school. Nobody liked to hear about her obsessively perfect GPA, no matter how proud she was of it.
Jack stood off to her side staring curiously as she battled internally with herself.
"Earth to Tooth," he called out playfully at the frantic girl. He waved a hand in front of her face. "No worries! It's just a game and I already told you that I was good at Space Invaders."
Tooth sighed, shaking her head. "I'm sorry, you probably don't want to hear about that."
Jack looked at her bewildered.
"What? Your grades? I don't mean to burst your bubble or anything, but you're not the only one with straight A's."
Tooth swerved her gaze to him, intrigued. What was he saying? His grades were good as well? "Really?" She was surprised. All she really was really good at was being friends with Sandy, North, Bunnymund, knowing tons about teeth, and getting awesome grades.
When Jack told her his grade point average, her jaw nearly disconnected.
Tooth gleamed, squealing a bit and grasping his pale wrists in her excited, tanned fingers.
"Jack, that's fantastic! You're so clever!"
The boy's brows furrowed and he waved her off of him, desperate not to blush. Her praise was random and- he felt- undeserved. Plus, he HATED blushing. He had worked so hard to train himself into not getting embarrassed by other people. When Jack Frost blushed the slightest, anyone could tell from a mile away. His pale skin held no secrets.
Tooth decided that they should move to a game where she had an edge. They both buckled up back in the flight simulator and started a new game, though Jack grew cocky and was sure he would beat her at this too.
"I'm the king of games," he said dramatically, glancing her way, "you dare challenge my skills?"
Tooth laughed softly, shaking her head. She hadn't really seen Jack playing around like this before until they had stepped into the arcade. She didn't even know that he liked to joke this much. She bounced in her seat, playing along.
"Methinks that King Jack of Jests and Games doth boast too much. Wherefore art thou high score on this game? I have yet to see it!"
Jack's eyes widened and he bared his teeth in a funny, fierce way. Tooth was swept away by the gleam of them. Did he whiten them? How often did he brush? How the hell were his teeth so perfect?
He pointed a joking finger at her in mock accusation.
"Thou shall bear witness to my divine score soon enough, for I will be the victor of this game as I was of all the others!" he boasted in a loud, boyish way, leaning over and spinning his goofy tale to Tooth.
She clapped her hands over her mouth to hide her smile and could feel her cheeks heat up. This was fun! Jack was letting go of the mask he wore all the time and was playing around with her.
"Get thee to a hospital; for I am about to kick your royal butt at this game, King Jack." she declared just as determined, pushing in a quarter and starting up the machine. Jack laughed a full-hearted, teenage-boy laugh and gripped the controls.
And the game began in versus mode. Not only did Tooth's plane beat Jack's multiple times, but she won a new high score over her and Flynn's old one. Jack slumped back in the simulator seat, astounded.
"Woah. You weren't kidding when you said you'd beat me...I think I've my match." he smirked over at her before unbuckling the seat belt and hopping out. She fumbled with hers, trying desperately to follow after him. The word "match" was envisioned a little differently in her mind than by how he had meant it. He saw her as a worthy opponent of arcade games. She saw him as someone to hold hands with, maybe kiss, maybe even date.
She escaped the simulator seat and leaped out, trailing behind Jack.
"We should probably find the others and head home." she offered up, looking at the snowy chaos outside. "I have to study for that Advanced World History test tomorrow." She sighed, wondering at why she always had to play up the role of bookworm.
Jack nodded. "Oh. I have that one too."
Tooth looked over at him sharply. It was a hard class for a junior to take.
"You take that class? But I've never seen you in it..."
"We're in different periods, I think." Jack supplied nonchalantly. "Most of my classes are the Advanced ones. I think that's why I have you in almost half of them."
Woah! So wait...Jack took the advanced classes? But...? She knew he was smart, but honestly, she had figured him much too easygoing to take rigorous classes like those.
He seemed to understand her silence. "I have a good memory, but I'm not all that great at math. Too many rules. Weird, right? The kid who is always cutting class and pulling pranks actually does well in school?" he joked lightly, enjoying Tooth's bewildered expression.
"Well, yeah." she said. "Why do you always ditch class anyways?"
Jack paused the slightest. Here she was again, asking more about him. He hadn't missed the numerous occasions that she tried to know more about his life. Maybe she was just interested? It wasn't like he talked to anyone else. And being the brainiac that she was, he figured that she probably saw him as some sort of puzzle to figure out.
It angered him when other people tried to dissect his actions because they always judged him, like they were better than him. It wasn't any of their business what he did or why he did it. He had gotten enough of that at his old school from the other kids. Especially after the accident with his sister.
Now, looking into Tooth's curious face, he felt like she wasn't really judging him. She just wanted to understand him better.
He breathed before saying, "I go to the children's hospital. The one a few blocks away from Burgess High."
Tooth gave him a questioning look, her pace slowing down. He slowed with her and went on.
"I mean, I'm not sick or anything! I just volunteer there a lot."
Tooth remembered his words from earlier that day to the security guard.
There's someone I have to meet. It's important...please.
"Do you know someone special there?"
He looked to the window unfocused, nodding softly.
"Yeah. His name is Jamie. We're friends."
Jack went on slowly and quietly to tell her about the beautiful little brown-haired boy down at St. Benart's Childrens' Hospital just a few blocks away from school. He told her about how when he had first moved to into town and how useless and bored he felt in his uncle's bare home. He told her about how the long, dragging lessons at school didn't help. He told her about how his uncle had no television, no computer, and no games to occupy his mind.
He didn't tell her how much that it hurt, having nothing to do but to think about what he had done to land himself on the other side of town. Away from his family.
He had found the hospital upon wandering through town and strolled through the heavy glass doors to the front desk. They accepted him as a volunteer that very day. Ever since, Jack would leave after school to help out the nurses by passing out food, telling stories, or playing games with the anemic, sickly children there. And as the weeks went by he soon met Jamie- a sweet boy full of silly jokes and love. They became fast friends.
Jamie was terminally ill and the sickness only grew worse as the days went by. He was removed from playing with the other children due to his terrible condition. His small body was slowly failing him, and he could pass any day now.
Jack had only just started cutting school so that he could reach the hospital early to see Jamie, just in case that would be Jamie's last time to see him. Aside from Jamie's loving and supportive family, the tall and moody teenager was the only real friend he ever saw anymore.
Tooth was shocked, her hands clutching into her coat. Jack was vacant.
"I mean, yeah it's sad and all, but he's a good kid. A happy kid. If the day was the last day he ever saw, I want him to remember that he spent it happy and laughing, with his friends. I want him to remember me telling him some dumb fairy tale, or hanging out in his hospital bed watching that goofy 'Adventure Time' show that he likes so much. I don't want him to be alone when it happens."
Tooth felt like her heart had fallen through the floor. She didn't know that had been where Jack spent most of his time. She didn't know he could care like that.
She had been to a hospital only once before.
She had broken an ankle during gymnastics after the old, worn, high beam broke underneath her . It was a scary place to her. The walls were white and clean, but the smell of medicine and antiseptics lurked everywhere. There was another unit near hers and it was full of old, sickly people. They all looked as if they had given up. They looked like they were done with everything, done with pain. During her short stay, she had seen people trying to walk on new prosthetic legs or move their healing arms. They had seen disheveled patients shuffling around, trying to find a nurse or just someone to talk to. When they had discharged her, she had seen nurses wheeling around bald, skeletal children wrapped in blankets. They scared her the most.
Tooth didn't like hospitals back then, as a child. She knew how useful they were now that she was older, but back then, they seemed like places where people went to be in pain, where people lost bones and teeth and didn't smile.
And here was Jack admitting to her that on a daily basis, he would leave the happy groups of kids at school to enter these buildings full of sick children- just so he could make them happy too. That wasn't a 'cold' thing to do. It was rather bold, in her opinion.
Tooth felt inspired. She decided to do something bold herself.
She ignored the tension that shot up Jack's body as she wrapped her arms around him. He wasn't as hard as she thought he would be, and he wasn't as cold either. She squeezed tightly before pulling herself away from the lanky boy.
He gaped at her. "Wh-"
"That's wonderful, Jack! You bring them good memories in bad times. I don't think you should ditch anymore, though. Jamie sounds sweet and I don't think he would want you to do bad in school because of him. Next time you visit him though, let me know, and I'll bake some cookies just for him and his friends! I would love to meet them."
She gave him her best smile. She really did want to meet Jamie, someone that sounded so brave and so special to Jack.
Jack slowly nodded, trying to recollect himself from the hug. She was so touchy. He decided to dismiss it. "Y-yeah...that sounds like a good idea. I've never thought of bringing them sweets before." Honestly, he never really brought them anything. He would just show up and like a flipped switch, they would all cheer and grin happily at his arrival.
Their conversation drifted to other things as they continued to search the arcade until they finally found North, Sandy, and Bunnymund at a dancing machine. North seemed to have broken it. The heavy imprints of his winter boots were imprinted into the floor of the machine. Smoke billowed from the sides and it seemed to have caved in on itself.
"Time to go!" North announced, speeding his friends away from the wrecked machine and out of the arcade.
The snow and wind had increased tenfold, nearly unbearable to stand. They all raced to the car, gasping heavily as they piled in and brought flurries of snowflakes with them.
North sped them all home, his car plowing through everything in the way. Sandy was dropped off at his home near school whereas Bunnymund was left in front of his house a few blocks down. North turned onto the main road before looking back at Jack.
"Where do you live?" he asked innocently, unaware of a large semi-truck coming their way. Tooth leaped from the back seat and reached over to turn the wheel for him, making the large truck narrowly miss collision.
"Watch the road!" she nearly shrieked, pushing North forward once more. Ugh!
Jack smirked at her, his seat belt adjusted nice and tight. "So, like you were saying before- this guy is the safest driver you-?"
Tooth silenced him with a finger and a hard look. Jack held up his hands in surrender before rolling his eyes and announcing, "I live near Selene Road. Just go there and I'll find my way home."
Find his way home? Tooth thought that sounded too sketchy. Why not just drop him off in front of his house?
"Don't you live on the road?" she asked.
Jack shook his head. "No. Like I said, I live with my uncle. His house is in the woods near that road. There's a path that leads up to it, but it's kind of secluded. Just drop me off near the path and I'll find my way."
Tooth nodded in understanding. Some of the Burgess residents had houses in the forest preserve, no big deal or anything. It only sucked if you lived near the large herds of deer or coyotes that roamed these parts. Imagine trying to get to school with a coyote pack stalking you, or an overprotective buck in your way!
They dropped Jack off at the neck of the woods and watched his form disappear into the trees and the blizzard.
Back in her warm house, Tooth opened up her World History textbook but she couldn't focus. The day's events were sweeping through her head. She thought of crazy car rides and thieves in flight simulators and woodstaffs. She thought of hospitals and cookies and arcade games and sick children and beautiful boys with bright smiles.
She just couldn't focus. She closed her book and was about to take a nap, right there at her desk, until her phone chirped. Tooth lazily reached over for it.
The name displayed on the screen made all of her energy come flooding back.
Received New Message
Sent X/XX/XXXX From: Jack
The arcade wz great. Thx for making me come with u guys. 2 b honest, i cant study for this dumb test. wanna help me study 2morrow during the lunch period? I promise not to ditch.
Tooth beamed and clutched the phone tightly. Damn hormones.
She responded with a yes and asked if her friends could come along to join them. As much as she would have liked the alone time with Frost, she knew her friends would want to join them. She wanted her friends to like him as much as she did- well...maybe not as much as she did.
Received New Message
Sent X/XX/XXXX From: Jack
Thts fine. I wanted to make fun of cottontail anyways. btw, Jamie is a chocolate addict. He said he wanted to meet u over the weekend. think you can spruce up enough cookies for him and his friends by then?
Tooth typed out a quick response. Of course she could! She was awesome at baking. Though...she did wonder what the affect from all that sugar would do to her friend's teeth...to Jack's teeth.
She gasped. She didn't want to be the cause of- God forbid- a cavity in his gorgeous smile!
On the other side of town, Brer Rab was having a horrible night.
Not only had Anansi been bitching about his busted nose the entire walk to Pitch's place, but the snow didn't sit well with him. He missed the hot Southern sun and the sticky, sweet fruit along with all the sticky, sweet women...
His grin turned debauched. Oh yes, Brer Rab loved sunlight, long legged ladies, lies, and tricks. He was great at those! If someone was fool enough to fall for his trick, they deserved what they got coming to them.
He tromped alongside Pan. Pan wasn't all that big on tricking for the fun of it. He did it in retaliation whenever someone threw a piece of paper on the ground instead of a recycling bin, the nature freak. For whatever reason, Pan had gotten a lot of girlfriends here in Burgess too. He said it was because of his goatee and panpipes, but Brer Rab doubted that. Girls liked southern accents!
Anansi didn't care about girls all that much today, especially since that Tooth-chick had busted his face up. Brer Rab was surprised. Tooth seemed like such a mousy little thing, so quiet and reserved. She didn't seem like one to throw a punch. He bet she still had her cherry even, unless she had already given it up to that Frost kid she was always drooling over.
Brer Rab sneezed. Frost seemed like such a girl-magnet when he first moved to Burgess- but then all the girls that approached him ran away, crying about how 'mean' he was. Brer Rab couldn't believe the guy. How could you have a face carved by angels and not have girls lined up to your left and right? He figured that guy had a real nasty attitude to repel girls with a nice face like that.
But Tooth...now, she was something to look at. She looked like some exotic alien with those eyes and that skin. He could dig it. He wished that it wasn't wintertime so that he could see what the girl was hiding under her baggy sweaters and puffed up coats. All of the girls were far too overdressed in these chilly times, he thought. Tooth looked like just the kind of girl he would want to-
"Brer Rab! Pay attention man, quit thinking about girls all the time!" called Anansi.
Brer Rab shot him a dirty look before shivering and sneezing again.
"Cock block..." he mumbled under his breath. Pan laughed at him.
"Anansi's right bro, you're a horndog."
They started to tussle before Anansi turned around in frustration. "C'mon you guys, cut it out! We gotta' meet Pitch and hand over the stuff Brer Rab and you stole before any cops stop us for curfew! You wanna' get caught with pot, a bag of stolen stuff, and a bunch of wallets? Be my guest."
He began to trudge off through the snow. Brer Rab and Pan lowered their fists and followed closely behind.
They soon entered the old apartment building of Pitch, the creepiest guy in Burgess.
Pitch had moved there years ago from England- no one knew why, but they knew well enough to tell their kids to stay away from him. The guy was bad news. It was like he was the walking, talking, breathing version of an omen. The police had searched his place so many times due to the complaints of neighbors, but they never found anything.
The guy was weird, alright. Brer Rab thought he was a murderer on the run. Pan thought that he was insane asylum escapee.
Anansi didn't care where the hell Pitch came from. All he had to do was snatch a few things from the kids at school and bring it into Pitch to get big bucks in return. He had even convinced Brer Rab and Pan to help him out. No big deal.
Pitch met them at the front door, leaning over the bar of his crummy pawn shop. Only the shady people of Burgess traded with him.
His black hair was slick and greasy and his skin looked as if he had smoked every drug in existence before pulling his body back together after the destruction. He had a tongue of poison and a twisted mind. He spoke like a criminal and walked like he had a million things to hide.
Anansi was sure that there was a skeleton somewhere in this guy's closet.
"Anansi, Brer Rab, Pan...what a surprise." he said sarcastically. He had been trading with these dolts for months. If their parents knew any better, they would keep an eye on where their kids went more often. But Pitch wasn't complaining. More profit and corruption for him.
Anansi dumped their bags full of the stuff they had taken and handed it over to Pitch. As the tall man inspected each item, he inserted quietly:
"So, anything new about Jack Frost?"
Brer Rab blanched. What a psycho! This guy had been asking about the Frost kid since he had heard the rumors about him and his sister. At first, Brer Rab was sure that the guy was a pedophile, but then again, he hadn't seen Pitch eye any of the other kids in town. Plus, he was sure the creepy dude dated women even though Brer Rab wasn't sure how the guy had managed that. He hardly gave off a romantic vibe.
"Man, you're such a creep. Why are you always asking about that guy? It's pretty suspicious to me why a grown man keeps wondering about some kid." he blurted out, unable to stop himself. Damn him and his mouth. Sometimes it ran faster than his brain did. It had gotten him into major trouble back in the South and it looked like the same thing was about to happen up North.
Anansi and Pan looked alarmed at their friend's outburst. Pitch's face pulled into a ghastly sneer, one that made all three of the boys want to ditch this place and run.
"Me? Creepy? Ha. I suppose the term is fitting," he drawled out in his strong, English accent.
His long, gray fingers clawed over the edge of the bar as he leaned forward.
"-but I am not how you think I am, Brer Rab. No, I do not gain my jollies from children, nor am I some kind of derelict stalker. I simply wonder about Frost because of his...passion, you see?"
Brer Rab shook his head, confused. Jack Frost, passionate? This guy's head must be twisted on the wrong way. Jack Frost wasn't passionate about anything, he didn't get passionate about anything, he never would. The guy was like a robot, like some sort of ice statue. He never spoke, never smiled.
Pan grabbed onto Brer Rab's arm in fear. He didn't like where this was going.
Pitch rounded the bar, closing in on them.
"What? You disagree?" Pitch chuckled, his voice condescending. "Allow me to explain. When I first came here, I was sure that this town was full of dull people. Everything here is dull, the buildings, the names, the sunny weather even. You might as well have all been dead. Now, look outside! You see that chaos, that cold and darkness? That is passion. When I heard on the news about the disturbed boy that caused all that ruckus in the next town over, I felt the same kind of passion. What a cold and dark thing for such a young child to do!"
Anansi backed up, grabbing his bag and heading for the door.
"Well-uh...thanks, man. We get it." he grabbed the money Pitch had set on the bar and headed out, bringing his friends with him.
That guy was a nutcase! Anansi didn't have time to listen to the ramblings of a madman. His friends and him would find another dealer, a different person to trade with. No more Pitch.
Pitch watched them go and sighed contently. He loved seeing the fear he sparked in people's eyes. It made him feel alive, like he mattered. He would leave his mark in them so that the next time they saw him, their neck hairs would stand on end and their bodies would tremble.
They would fear him. Just like people did back home.
Pitch strolled over to his window and watched the blizzard toss and turn the snow around the skies. He had turned off the heat earlier and watched his breath frost up the glass before him.
Children did not interest him.
Pitch was interested in the cold.
He was interested in dark things.
And he was especially interested in snowy haired little boys with dark stories that turned up in the mouths and gossip of townsfolk.
Pitch watched his old black Doberman Pinscher bound into the room. He had chosen the animal specifically because of it's interesting history in dog fighting. It didn't just beat the dogs it had been forcefully put against. It had torn them to shreds. The dog was scarred and gruff, trying to kill anything that came near it. It never bared its teeth at Pitch, though. Only once before had the dog tried to resist his owner. Never again.
Pitch pet the menacing animal before looking out of his fogged up window once more, speaking low.
"...What kind of little boy tries to murder his own sister on New Year's Eve? Now that's true passion, right there."