Jamie had waited until he was sure his parents and Sophie were fast asleep before sneaking out of the house, which hadn't been easy in and of itself. Both his parents had had a less than pleasant encounter with Jack's icy animals and now believed in him. But that was just the problem, they believed in him and they were scared of him. So when someone in Burgess claimed to have seen him coming their way, Jamie's parents, along with nearly every other family in town, had sealed their home as best as they could to make sure to keep him out while they slept.
Once he'd managed to get out of the house, he was greeted by biting cold wind. He tried to ignore it and pulled his heavy coat tighter around him as he started off through the town. Unsurprisingly, there wasn't a single soul outside because of the cold. While it was winter there, as well as the rest of the world now, it was an unusual kind of cold that told him the rumor had been right and Jack was in Burgess. Now he just had to find where.
After a couple hours of wandering, Jamie was just about ready to give and go home; mostly because he could no longer feel his hands and feet. He sighed and turned around, only to find a small white cat at his feet.
"What're you d-doing out here?" Jamie mumbled.
He knelt down in front of the cat and reached out to pet it, but stopped when he saw no breath puffing from the cat's nose. Looking at it more closely, he noticed bits of ice beneath what he thought was fur, but turned out to be snow. The cat yowled loudly, its cry echoing through the silent town. Panic suddenly rushed through Jamie at the thought of what it might attract.
"N-no! No, shut up!" Jamie snapped quietly.
He tried to cover the cat's mouth, only to have it hiss and bite at him. He pulled his hand away from the cat, narrowly avoiding its sharp teeth, and shooed it away with his boot. The cat hissed again, but didn't make another noise after that as it trotted away and around the corner. Jamie looked around, still frightened of what the cat's call might've alerted. When he saw nothing, he let out a breath he didn't know he was holding and began walking towards home again.
"What're ya doing out here, mate?"
Jamie nearly jumped out of his skin and feel to the ground. A strong paw gripped the collar of his jacket and pulled him back up to his feet. Jamie dusted himself off and looked up at the pooka.
"Didn't we tell ya to stay inside?" Bunnymund asked.
"Y-yeah, but I wanted to…what are you wearing?" Jamie replied.
He stared at Bunnymund wearing an old and very worn looking set of clothes. Bunnymund hadn't worn them since his younger years, back when he and his golems had had to reshape the world. But with everything freezing like it was, he had to wear something to keep warm.
"Doesn't matter," Bunnymund said, "What matters is you getting' home before ya get sick or somethin'."
"I j-j-just wanted to see Jack," Jamie protested.
"It's not a good idea, kiddo. Now hurry up and get home before I drag ya there."
"B-but w-why?" Jamie asked.
"Yeah, Bunny. Why?"
Bunnymund felt the fur on his neck rise as he turned around to see the winter prince leaning on his staff like he'd done so many times before.
"Jack….?" Jamie peered around Bunnymund.
Jack gave him a half smile and nodded his head once.
"Jamie, go home," Bunnymund warned.
"Aw, come on, Cottontail. Let us have a little fun, he's the only one around," Jack said.
Bunnymund glared at Jack and, without breaking eye contact, tapped his foot to the ground. The ground shuddered and split open into a tunnel right beneath Jamie's feet and swallowed him. A moment later, he was spit out back inside his bedroom. Jamie ran to the window to see if he could spot the two guardians, but of course he couldn't. He scowled and kicked at the floor, he was lucky enough to have snuck out before without his parents noticing.
On the other side of town, Jack stared at Bunnymund like he'd done something wrong.
"What was that for?" Jack asked, pointing with his staff to the hole that had sealed up.
"Told 'im to stay inside," Bunnymund stated.
"Just can't let anyone have any fun, can you?"
"And what part of this is fun, huh?" Bunnymund challenged, "The part where people get sick? Get hurt? Get hypothermia? Get frostbite?"
"No one's getting sick or hurt," Jack replied, "And I'm pretty sure you made up that hypo-whatever."
"Hypothermia," Bunnymund corrected, "And yeah, mate, they are getting hurt. You just don't stick around long enough to see it."
"No, I don't stick around because no one's out," Jack replied.
Bunnymund slapped a paw to his face; this was going to go in circles. He dragged his paw down his face with a sigh and had to remind himself he was dealing with a child. A three hundred eighteen year old child with corrupted memories. The only way he could think of to get Jack to see what he was doing was something that risked putting people in danger. But, on the other hand, more people would be in danger if Jack didn't get set straight; and soon.
"Alright, Jackie, why don't you go see some of Jamie's friends, eh? Y'always went lookin' for 'em t'play with," Bunnymund started, "Go find 'em, see how they're doing."
Jack tilted his head curiously, eyeing the pooka with suspicion. Bunnymund remained still, doing his best to give Jack any reason to suspect him; not that there was. This really wasn't a trick or a trap. Jack twirled his staff in his hands and started to walk towards Bunnymund. Not once did he take his eyes off him, even as he stepped even with him. Still, Bunnymund made no move to stop him in anyway. Jack smirked as a howling wind whipped by and lifted him off the ground, quickly taking him off to one of Jamie's friends' house. Bunnymund clenched his jaw and waited until Jack was nearly out of sight before setting off after him. He wouldn't interfere with Jack unless the children were in danger.
Jack had decided on stopping at Monty's house, since it was the closest, and settled down on tree branch not far from the window. Jack walked along the branch, hoping lightly to land on the small, false balcony outside the window and peered inside. Monty laid curled up on his bed, beneath a mountain of blankets and his back turned to the window. Jack tapped at the window to get the boy's attention, effectively coating the glass in ice. He frowned at the obstruction and wiped at it with his sleeve to at least clear it up. Again, he peered through the now distorted glass; Monty hadn't moved. Jack huffed and tapped harder, though this time at the wall beside the window. When he still got no response, he practically punched the wall.
That managed to startle Monty. The boy bolted upright in his bed, frantically glancing around for what had caused the noise. When his saw Jack through the ice-distorted window, and Jack waved at him, his face fell. He was scared of Jack; scared of the Guardian of Fun. It wasn't unnoticed by Jack either, though it wasn't understood. He tried to relax and hide the hurt on his face with an encouraging smile as he motioned for Monty to come to the window. For a second, it looked like Monty might actually come to the window. But then he shook his head and hugged his arm to his chest, like he was physically hurt.
Jack wiped at the ice again to clear the quick building fog and frost and pressed his face to it to get a better look. He could see the ashen color on Monty's hand; not white or pale, but more like he'd rubbed it across graphite. Jack wasn't stupid, that was the start of frostbite. It was possible, at this point, that it might go away, but it was still frostbite. Any more exposure to the cold, especially the cold Jack had brought over Burgess, would worsen it; possibly to the point of requiring amputation.
This time it was Jack who shook his head, though more in disbelief. That couldn't be his fault, the kid probably didn't dress for cold weather or something and stayed out too long. He couldn't be the direct cause, he didn't hurt kids on purpose.
Jack huffed and darted off the small balcony, trusting the wind to catch him and carry him off to the next house; Cupcake. He had to circle around a few times before he spotted her walking down the hallway; a pink cast around her right arm. That still couldn't be his fault, kids fell all the time and broke their bones. It didn't necessarily mean she slipped on ice or anything.
Without even trying for her attention, Jack was off to Pippa's house. He saw her in the living room, wrapped up in a blanket beside the fireplace with her mother checking up on her. She was sick. Again, Jack was off, trying to convince himself he still wasn't the direct cause. Next was Claude and Caleb. Through the kitchen window, he saw Claude walking oddly. It took some waiting, watching, and very close listening to find out Claude had frostbite on his foot. It was much more severe than Monty's from what Jack could understand. Caleb also had a broken arm and had nearly gotten hypothermia. Jack swallowed thickly and dashed off to Jamie's house.
Jamie was shivering violently under his blankets while it took far too long for him to find Sophie. From what he could barely hear, she had full hypothermia, as of that morning. Jack felt like he's had his air punched out of him as he started to back away from their house. He caught a glimpse of an old mercury thermometer beside the back porch and drifted closer to it. The red gauge was down to negative twenty nine Fahrenheit, at least, with him standing so close to it. Jack set his jaw and spun on his heels, silently commanding the wind to take him away from there. He didn't care where he went as long as he was out of town. The wind, however, being an Antarctic wind carried so far north on a change in currents, did care. The Antarctic winds were much less compliant than the Four Winds and refused to put up with such an attitude. The wind dropped him harshly the second it brought him to the edge of town.
Jack hit a few tree branches on the way down, but managed to catch himself just as he did the night Manny resurrected him. He frowned at the memory, but moved to sit upright on the branch as he hooked his staff on the branch. He wasn't trying to hurt people. He was trying to play. But that had always gone wrong with him, as he believed. He stared down at his hands and the outfit procured from Old Man Winter. He curled his hands into fists as his lip twitched in agitation.
He took out his sudden frustration on the boots of the outfit. He hated them, they were confining and felt clunking. He clawed at the simple buckles, but every touch served only to ice them over and prevent their unbuckling. With a growl of further frustration, he grabbed at the chain holding the cape around his shoulders. The chain also froze, but the main problem was that the chain lacked the ability to unhook and synched the cape just tight enough that he couldn't pull it over his head. Everytime he turned his attention to another part of the outfit he disliked, it either iced over or just didn't have the ability to come undone. Why couldn't Old Man Winter just give him his powers without this stupid outfit? What was so wrong with his old clothes?
Of course, as much as he disliked the outfit, his real frustration lay with inadvertently harming people. Which he was doing right at that moment. He was too distracted in trying to remove any piece of the outfit to notice the blizzard beginning to settle over Burgess in response to his growing instability.
Author: I AM SO SORRY. I didn't even realize it'd been eight months since the last update, I don't expect anything from you guys but know that I am so grateful to those of you who stuck around waiting for my lazy butt to get in gear. I know this chapter probably isn't that great, I kinda forgot what the original endgame for this was, so…it might be changing directions slightly?