Author's notes: Written for the RotG kink meme. The request was, "Jack and Tooth as teenaged/early twenties serial killers," with bonuses for Tooth still having a tooth obsession and collecting them from every person she kills, and for North to have given them their moral compass.
Guys, please check the WARNINGS before you read: child abuse, neglect, kidnapping, murder, torture, graphic violence. Mentions of off-screen rape, pedophilia, and incest.
Jack is young when the man takes him.
He cannot remember much, for it has been years since then, but he recalls a face round and pale smiling down at him, telling him that he has been chosen. He recalls the conviction of his own childish imagination - that if the moon could talk, he would have a face like this one.
The man brings Jack to a room, and in the room there is nothing.
There is no bed; there are no toys. The floor and walls are bare. The door is always locked, but in it there is a small flap, as though for mail, and once a day food passes through. It is never much, and at first Jack asks for more. At first, he has hopes that if he promises to be good, he might be granted it – that he might even be let free.
But as the years pass, Jack realizes that his pleas are never heard, and so he learns to accept that this is all he will be given – learns to lick the plate carefully clean before putting it back through the flap in the door. The man with the face like the moon does not speak to him. No one does.
There is nothing to do in the room. Jack scratches patterns into the plaster of the walls with his fingernails, and in the winter, when the frost comes to his windows with its lovely creeping tendrils like flowers, Jack draws pictures in it. He talks to himself, an endless litany of subjectless chatter, for he was a personable child, and the loneliness hurts most of all.
This becomes all he knows: his own voice, and the blank walls, and sometimes, when he is lucky, the frost on the windows.
He is not expecting something new, the day that everything changes. Expectations are a thing long dead, and so when the hulking, bearded man in red beats down the door to stand towering above him, flanked by a girl in exotic gold and green, Jack gapes up at them, eyes round, mouth open.
It has been years since he has seen another face – since one has smiled at him – but the girl is smiling, all teeth and charity and good cheer - is darting forward with the grace of a bird to press something into his hand.
"I've got something for you," she's saying, and the sound of a voice – a voice– shakes him to his core, leaves him dizzy with wonder. He looks down at the gift clasped tight in his hand, at the little white treasures still wet with blood.
The bearded giant squats down to set a hand on Jack's shoulder, and the touch reverberates out and spears him with amazement. "Man who brought you here," says the one in red, "he will not be bothering you any more." His touch is warm, so warm, and Jack gasps, and shakes, and lifts the hand not full of teeth to hold it there.
The workshop is full of things that Jack has never seen before: of equipment in metal; of sharp-tipped, narrow picks; of chains that coil heavy and dark upon the floor. The blood here is old, so old that it has gone black, and the smell is of copper and rot.
But in the back there is another room, and that room is full of marvels. There are two beds piled high with blankets, and bright pictures hang upon the walls, and there are shelves of trinkets that do things he does not understand – or perhaps do nothing at all – but they are beautiful, so beautiful. The smell is of cinnamon and nutmeg, and everything is warm, and soft, and wonderful.
The bearded man rubs his back, and the girl with the lovely violet eyes holds his hand, and they talk to him. They chatter on about little things, senseless things, and Jack replies haltingly at first and then with enthusiasm, the rush of joy so intense it squeezes the breath from him. His face hurts from grinning, but he cannot seem to stop.
They give him food that does not come through a slot in a door, not once a day but often, little bits at first, for Jack is sick when he takes too much. It is good – everythingis good – and when at last his stomach becomes accustomed to being full again, he discovers that if he asks for more, he gets it.
He learns the names they call each other. The man is North and the girl is Tooth, and when they find that he does not remember his family, does not remember anything before the bare room that was his home for so long, they offer words of reassurance. They tell him that a family does not always mean the one you are born with. They ask for his name, and the boy knows they do not mean who he once was, but who he wishes to be.
Jack has no answer for them.
Sometimes, they leave him in the back room – make sure that he is comfortable, that he is fed, that he knows they will return – and make use of the workshop beyond.
Through the door, there are noises: grinding and tearing, the clanking of metal. There are men screaming, deep voices that wail and sob and finally go silent. And when the noises have stopped, his new family reappears. The blood does not show against North's coat, but Tooth is streaked with it, and held lovingly in her delicate hands she carries the souvenirs.
He does not know what to expect, the first time he follows them into the workshop. He trails out through the door behind them, footsteps cautious, and his new family makes no comment at all. They only fix him with considering expressions and exchange a long glance.
They do not send him back.
The man strapped to the metal table is girthy, not quite so tall as North but half again as wide. "His daughter just turned five this week," Tooth says, as she selects a serrated blade. "He fucks her into the mattress every night." The girl runs her thumb along the edge to test for sharpness, and blood blooms suddenly, bright as the jewel tones of the clothes she wears. Her smile, first for Jack and then the man, is unaccountably charming. There is something cagey in the expression, however - something personal - and Jack finds himself wondering for the first time how she met North, for they do not look enough alike to be related by blood.
Watching her watch this man, exotic eyes darkly thoughtful, he thinks that he might know. He thinks he understands, in that instant, that he is not the only one who was rescued from something unbearable.
Jack tries to imagine how it might be, to be helpless and in pain. He tries to imagine the child, red-faced and cheeks streaked with tears. He pictures how this man must dwarf her, and when the screams begin, Jack finds that they do not bother him at all.
North and Tooth work expertly – deliberately. They slice the nipples from the man's chest and leave only bloody ovals behind. They peel the foreskin from his cock as though it is a baked potato. They hold him excruciatingly still so that they can slice his penis into long strips, careful to leave it attached at the base. They squeeze his testicles until they rupture, force the yield into his mouth and make him swallow while it is still dripping.
At some point, Jack finds, his hand has discovered a blade of its own. The metal is smooth against his palm, cold as ice beneath his fingers, and when he runs it along the man's skin, it draws blood as easily as Tooth's did.
The work is long, and it is messy, and the very last thing they take is Tooth's souvenir. She uses bulky pliars, pries the teeth from the man's gums one by one as he weeps and tries to beg.
When she has finished, North cuts his throat, surprisingly clean after all the rest – surprisingly fast.
Tonight, Jack's new sister tells him, they will visit the man's daughter to leave presents below her pillow. She will find them in the morning when she wakes, and for the first time in a long time, she will know that she is safe.
Jack was once a sociable child, and with time and care, he becomes one again.
He is quick with a smile and quicker with a laugh, and his sense of humor flickers slowly back to life. The boy talks constantly, as though to make up for the long years of silence; his words dance light upon the air, and he takes great pleasure in asking questions, for now, at long last, there are answers to be heard.
The boy is tactile and affectionate - unusually so – but his new family does not tease him for it. They do not point out his greed for contact, do not chide him for the times when he is reluctant to let go of a hand or relinquish an embrace. They indulge him, and he is eager and awkward and grateful.
They take him to see new places, and he delights in it all: the too-green needles of the pine trees in the park, the smooth glide of ice beneath his palms when he first falls down skating, the mountains that rise high and purple in the distance, tipped with snow. It is hard, in the beginning, to be around too many people at once - but Jack is brave, and he tries and tries again, and before long the gentle murmur of a crowd's conversation is something else he comes to adore.
Some nights he still dreams of a bare room and wakes in tears, but Tooth is always there to pet his hair, or North to offer a steadying arm around his shoulders. They wait until he has cried himself out, and while he weeps they speak to him, low words that help to reassure that someone is there. He loves his new family, fiercely and completely.
It is his sanctuary, this tiny room that smells of spices - but he grows accustomed to the workshop beyond, as well. They bring men of all sizes and shapes to lie upon the table there, and women, too. They do their work, and Tooth takes her souvenirs, and they leave gifts for the children: the promise that the future holds better things.
There is a method to it, Jack learns.
They break the hands of the ones who beat, take the tongues of those who terrorize with words. They skin the feet of the abandoners, castrate the rapists, kill the murderers as they have killed. They intervene for the children who have long stopped hoping that intervention will come.
From time to time, as necessity dictates, they venture forth to perform their deeds elsewhere. It is not often, but today is such a day, and they reach the supermarket several hours past sundown.
It is at the heart of the city, this store, in a neighborhood rife with poverty. The woman that runs it laces the food she throws away with rat poison, for she does not wish the urchins to sit near her doorstep.
They are bad for business, these children that no one wants.
Jack's family comes upon her as she closes shop for the night. There is a walk-in freezer in the staff area, and this is where they bring her, tied and struggling.
She lies upon the icy floor as they work, and Jack watches her breath fog as she screams. He does not help as much as he usually does. The frost that rims the freezer has caught his eye, and he finds himself thinking of floral patterns on a window, of tracing shapes with his fingers in a time before hope.
"Hey," says Tooth, and Jack realizes all at once that he has lost track of time. The woman lies still, now, and North is cleaning up. The boy has been running his fingers along the freezer's wall, making patterns in the little florets of ice. "Hey," Tooth says again. It is how she always calls him, when she wants his attention, for he has not yet given them a name.
His eyes trace the pattern he has made: small feathers, and little starbursts, and intricate sprigs of holly. Peeking out amidst them, like an eclipse on a summer's day, is the face of the moon.
"Frost," Jack tells her, distantly.
"Frost?" They should hurry, but Tooth does not press. She watches him, face gentle, and she touches his shoulder, fingers still wet with blood.
He does not know what else he means to say. Perhaps he intends to tell her of the long, lonely days at the window, to speak of things he has not yet dared. "Yeah," he agrees at last. "It's what I-" But the words dry up, and he rubs out the patterns on the freezer wall with a square of cloth, for it will not do to leave fingerprints here. He swallows, and his throat is like sandpaper.
But Tooth is nodding, and Jack wonders if she somehow understands what he means, anyway. "Hey," she says at last, slowly. "Frost. Are you ready to go?"
Jack turns to stare at her, and the smile that spreads across his lips is a slow thing, at once startled and relieved. When he laughs, it echoes in the freezer - and his breath, too, fogs the air.
Before they go home, they scatter the teeth like hailstones among the city's back alleys, leaving them for the little boys and girls that do not have to be afraid any longer.