Tutelary 1
by K. Stonham
first released 28th December, 2012

Epicenter

Jack Frost walked through the falling snow, one hand in his hoodie pocket, the other holding his staff, which rested on his shoulder. The snow fell around him, but never on him, Jamie noticed. It never got caught on his eyelashes or in his hair, never settled and melted on his skin.

Not that it would have.

But as he had the very odd thought that Jack was the center of the snow (which, duh), he found himself wondering things. Like, how old was Jack? How was he born? Guardians had to come from somewhere, because people hadn't always been giving up their teeth and celebrating Christmas, right?

But all those thoughts fled Jamie's head as Jack looked at him, and smirked.

Jamie ducked and rolled without a second thought, neatly avoiding the snowball that would have nailed him in the face. He came back up in one smooth move, ammo in hand, and fired back.

Jack laughed, only half-heartedly dodging the missile that stuck his shoulder.


Transition

Frost formed where he walked, and the first time Jamie saw Jack freeze the pond, he couldn't believe his eyes. They were just walking through the woods, talking. When they reached the water's edge, Jamie had to stop but Jack didn't. He just kept going forward, talking about the autumn leaves and how much longer he bet they'd last. Like he didn't even notice the ground beneath his feet was no longer solid but liquid.

Except, it wasn't anymore.

Ice whorls spread out over the surface each time Jack's feet touched the water. It was gorgeous and breathtaking.

A few steps later, Jack noticed Jamie was no longer beside him and stopped, turning. Jamie must have been gaping like an idiot, because Jack actually glanced down at his feet. "Whoops, sorry," he said, and glided back across the surface of the water, spreading ice as he went.

Jamie looked back up at Jack as the winter spirit hopped back onto solid ground, and all he could think of was how thin that ice had been, and how Jack had walked on it like it was solid as a rock. Like the idea of it breaking beneath him had never occurred.

"Jack, how much do you weigh?"


Olympics

His mom was glued to the television, absolutely addicted to the figure skating. Jamie sat with her for a while, watching people do things with their bodies that he would never have been able to imagine possible.

After a bit, all he could think of was how artificial it looked. It was like watching ballet, he thought, which was probably part of why his mom liked it. It was all very stylized, and the athletes had put thousands upon thousands of hours into being able to do these things. Their bodies were highly trained machines, the height of human perfection.

He watched a woman muff a jump, and thought, Jack would have landed that.

Just like that, Jamie realized that Jack Frost had ruined competitive ice skating for him.

Jack did things like the professional skaters, but for him there was no forethought, no plan, no years of intensive training. For him, it was all graceful, natural, and as easy as falling backwards into a snowdrift. Jack, for lack of a better word, danced with the ice and wind.

And as the routine ended and the camera flashed over to the judges, Jamie stared.

There, perched atop on the glass divide behind the judges' table, was a beaming winter spirit clad in brown leggings and a blue hoodie.

Clapping.

Jamie shut his mouth with an audible pop, and stood.

"Where are you going?" his mother asked as he rummaged through the hallway closet.

Jamie found the items he'd been looking for, and straightened.

"Skating," he said.


Claustrophobia

One knee bent, the other foot dangling toward the floor, and his staff propped against his shoulder, Jack Frost sat in the sill of Jamie Bennett's window, watching a movie on Jamie's tiny television.

"Okay, you win," he admitted as the credits started to roll. "That was a good movie."

"I know - wasn't it awesome?" Jamie enthused. "It's not done yet, though. There's one more bit after the credits." He picked up the remote control and pressed a button, sending the disc zipping forward through names and titles, until people appeared on the screen again.

Watching the Avengers tiredly eat shawarma, Jack snickered. "I know what that feels like."

"So you've seen all the other ones, right? Iron Man and Hulk and Captain America and -"

"Nope." Jack shook his head.

Jamie stopped, looking surprised. "Why not?"

Jack grinned lopsidedly. "Believe it or not, Jamie, not that many people want Jack Frost creeping into their homes to watch movies with them. And watching TV from the other side of iced-over glass isn't really that fun."

"Well, I want you to watch movies with me," Jamie said.

"Yeah, but you're special." Jack leaned back and sighed. "I miss drive-ins." He'd been able to perch atop cars or fences or even his staff there, and listen to the nearby speakers for the movie's audio. He'd seen more films that way... Sadly, drive-in theaters were a dying trend.

Jamie looked puzzled. "What about movie theaters? I mean, if no one could see you, you wouldn't even have to pay to get in."

Jack regarded his young friend. Shook his head. "I actually don't really like being inside much, Jamie."

"But you're in my room now."

Jack tapped on a windowpane. It frosted at his touch. "With the window open," he pointed out.

Jamie's face was scrunched up, confused. Then, after a moment, his expression cleared. "You've got claustrophobia!"

"What?" Jack sat up straight.

Jamie was nodding. "Yeah. One of the girls in my class, Suzie, has it too. We found out when that jerk Moe shut her in the broom closet in second grade. Mrs. Wormwood said we had to be extra nice to her after that." He shrugged. "It's not a big deal."

"I don't have -" Jack started, then stopped. Thought about how he was okay inside Santoff Claussen or the Warren, but also about how cavernous they both were. Thought about how he felt nervous if he didn't have a clear escape route from North's workroom or Jamie's room. "Huh."


Author's Note: The Tutelary series is going to be my dumping ground for really short works like the ones above. The title comes from the Merriam-Webster word of the day mailing list, December 9th, 2012:

tutelary \TOO-tuh-lair-ee\; adjective

1: having the guardianship of a person or a thing

2: of or relating to a guardian.

And, yes, that was a Calvin and Hobbes reference y'all spotted in the last story.