Tutelary 6
by K. Stonham
first released 11th March 2013

Blood Brothers

Jack's blood, they discover, is as red as Jamie's, but runs as cold as ice water. Their blood-brother exchange goes about as planned.

(Jamie doesn't know why he thought Jack's blood might be blue, or purple, or frozen altogether. Jack moves and breathes and has a heartbeat, so he's obviously alive now, regardless of what happened three hundred years ago. Alive, just chilly.)

There are bandaids applied afterward, and they both laugh because the bandaids are so pink and girly. Sophie is hooked on that silly pony show, and Jamie's mom obliges her at the supermarket.

(A hundred years later, Jack will still have the tiny mark on his finger from the bloodletting. He doesn't scar easily, so knows the mark is still there because of one reason alone: he wanted a reminder to last through eternity.)

Jamie was born and raised in northern Pennsylvania, so he's always been used to a certain degree of cold. As the years go on, though, he becomes more so, and only starts wearing long sleeves about the time that others pull on jackets. He never gets frostbite, never suffers from windchill, and winter never hurts him.

In his three hundred years of immortality, Jack's never cared much for warmth. Spring feels like an itch under his skin, and summer makes him downright nauseous. He skips his way north (or some years, to the far south) to get away from the discomfort. After Jamie, though, he finds he can tolerate it a little bit better.

When Jamie dies, in his late nineties, sound of mind if weaker of body, it's mid-winter. His body is found in the snow, a smile on his face. Hypothermia, the coroner says. Poor old fellow's heart probably just gave out, and he froze to death. Jamie's family, though sad, know differently.

A white-haired boy sits in the tree branches, watching as the old man's body is taken away. He is neither sad nor happy, merely thoughtful. Something unseen ruffles his hair, laughs in his ear. It might be the wind.

It is not.

So long as Jamie Bennett's blood pulses within Jack Frost's body, a part of him is alive. And now, so long as Jack is alive, he will never again be alone.

When the vehicle's doors shut and the body is hidden from view, Jack stands and springs into the air. The wind whirls him east and south - there is winter in need of being brought, children waiting for their snow days.

As yet unseen by any but his companion, Jamie laughs, and goes with him.

Boys Don't Cry

It's not that he's slow on the uptake - he's not! really he's not... oh, who's he trying to fool? himself? good luck there, Jacky - but it takes Jack upward of fifty years to realize that when he gets depressed, it starts snowing.

The funny thing is, he didn't notice because he makes it snow all the time. When he's happy, when he's manic, when he's bored... bam! Snowfall. Snow is about one of the best things ever, and he loves it. It's fluffy and fun and comfortable. Okay, maybe it's not as pretty as the frost patterns he makes, but sometime in the late 1800s he overhears two serious men in black talking to one another about how no two snowflakes are alike, and suddenly Jack's intrigued by this bit of his craft that he'd never before known. Jack follows the two men, listening as they talk, and gets the name of a Mister Wilson Bentley of Vermont, who discovered this phenomenon.

After a lot of painstaking searching, Jack finds a man standing in a field in northeast Vermont, patiently catching snowflakes on black velvet and taking pictures of them.

Jack is, to put it mildly, fascinated by what he learns that day, and in the days that follow. Although he can't ask Bentley questions (well, he can, and does, but gets no answers), he can look and listen. Snowflakes, Jack learns, are made of hexagonal lattices of ice crystals. And while it's theoretically mathematically possible that two could be the same, well, good luck finding those two.

(A century later, Jack will amuse himself at Harvard University by sending a snowstorm down where every single snowflake is identical. Not one of the learned men and women there that day notices a thing.)

After his encounter with Bentley, Jack starts playing with snowflakes, crafting them by hand just to get a sense of what he can and can't do. He pays more attention to snow for a good few years, and less to icicles and frost. No one really notices. But eventually, he gets bored, and moves back to his favorite use for snow: as a plaything. Snow angels, snow forts, snowmen, snowballs... the list of fun things he can do with snow seems endless.

Except sometimes, at the end of an epic sledding/snowball fight/skating session, when he's had so much fun with his new friends, he turns to ask them a question...

...and they walk right through him.

Every time, tears prick his eyes. But he doesn't cry. He can't cry, won't cry...

But the sky cries for him.

It's not until many years later, when Jamie starts tracking him down every single time Jack's had a sucky day, that he realizes someone else has noticed.

"The snow's different," Jamie tells him bluntly when Jack asks. "It's all wet and heavy and not really good for anything but the water table."

"Oh," says Jack, for lack of anything more intelligent.

Jamie rolls his eyes and shoves Jack's shoulder with his own. "It's not like you're exactly subtle," he said. "I mean, you're Jack Frost. You're a Guardian. Big and showy is what you guys are all about."

Jack... can't really argue that. So instead he nips a bit of snow down the back of Jamie's shirt, and just like that, the war is on.

Aging Out

Jamie approaches each milestone with a certain dread. When he's seventeen, he graduates high school, and that's a relief because even after making friends with Calvin, it was still the most hellish experience of his life.

And that's counting his childhood encounter with the Boogeyman.

That summer, he turns eighteen. He wakes up that morning, and the knowledge chokes him like lead. He was born at 8:15am on a Tuesday, and he watches the clock count down, watches the minutes slip away, and wonders, at 8:16, will he still be able to see Jack?

The time comes and goes, and he closes his eyes, trying not to cry, because he doesn't know.

"Hey." The voice comes from Jamie's window, and his eyes fly open. There's the out-of-season winter spirit, leaning against the sill, cocky smile in place, but worry written all over his expression.

"Jack!" Jamie doesn't tackle the spirit - that way leads to a painful drop out the second story window - but he knows his relief is telegraphed in just how tight his hug is.

"Happy birthday, Jamie." And if Jack's voice is a little rough, his grip also a little tight, both of them know why.

But maybe it's not turning eighteen that makes someone an adult. Maybe it's the first day of college. Or losing your virginity. Or turning twenty-one. Or the first day on a post-college job. Jamie feels a little like Wendy Darling, trying desperately not to grow up. But Jack is no Peter Pan. He's just as aware of time's passage as Jamie. And every time he shows up at the windowsill, or outdoors with a snowball in hand, his expression betrays that he, too, worries about Jamie growing up and forgetting him.

Jamie's last baby tooth is long gone. He no longer participates in Easter egg hunts, or trick-or-treats at Halloween. He has a job, and loans to pay off, and perhaps most condemning of all, needs to shave each morning.

And yet Jack still shows up at his window. And when Jamie looks out into the night sky, it's still lit by golden glowing streams of dreamsand.

"You worry too much," Calvin says one winter day when they're twenty-seven and both back in Burgess for Christmas. There is a sleeping tiger stretched out on the rug in front of the fireplace, and the remains of tuna fish sandwiches are scattered all around the dining nook. "Both of you," the paleontologist adds, mock-glaring at Jack. "If we haven't grown up and forgotten by now, we're not going to."

The winter spirit holds up his hands in defense. "'I am old, Peter,'" he quotes. "'I am ever so much more than twenty.'" He says it in a falsetto that makes the other two laugh.

"He's too much of a dork for you to ever forget him," Calvin continues, turning back to Jamie. "So stop worrying. It's never to late to enjoy your second childhood."

And you know what? Jamie thinks. Calvin is right.

Author's Note: I promised to get back to writing in this fandom in the beginning of February. It is now mid-March. My apologies to everyone who's been waiting. All I can say is that I hit a health issue that pretty much ended up with me losing all my desire to write. The issue has (knock on wood) healed up, and it feels like I'm ready to go on where I left off.

The first story came as a surprise to me until I realized that while I've read (and written!) a few immortal!Jamie stories, I'd never seen a ghost!Jamie story. I've no idea if it's actually in continuity with the rest of these stories or not. The second piece is (sorta) Jack's side of Jamie hating Jack's hoodie. And the last one is, by popular demand, another story with Calvin. I couldn't resist having him be a paleontologist; I've read a few very good adult!Calvin stories with that premise. Though Calvin's last line riffs from the comic Bloom County, of equally cherished childhood memory.