* I have no idea if this is what anyone was expecting. Many of you may not be happy with me after this...depending.
Then The Ice Gave Way
An embarrassed tinge of blush crept over Jamie's features as his friends whooped at the air and elbowed his scrawny shoulders. The street and spring air were filled with the gang's laughter and cheering.
"I can't believe you froze the chalkboard," Claude guffawed.
"I can't believe our math teacher was making us study on the last day of school," Caleb grinned, looking down at Jamie. "Thanks for the save, dude!"
Monty, the most studious – and now the tallest – grumbled incoherently under his breath. Jamie had accidentally froze the chalkboard before Monty could jot down the last of the equations. Even if he didn't get to finish the problems, it wouldn't have mattered anyway. And as everyone showed and exchanged certain slips of papers between each other, it was obvious that no one's mood could truly be dampened today.
"Summer," Pippa sang as she looked over the papers she and her friends received.
"And we got next year's schedule," Cupcake added, looking over Pippa's shoulder and realizing they were going to share an art class.
Jamie laughed along with his friends, but it was very halfhearted. Though ever positive and happy that he was going to have a literature class with Caleb, he still wasn't quite as optimistic as the others.
He always smiled with them, played with them, and laughed with them like always, but every time he saw one of his friend's shadows loom over his smaller figure, he was reminded of the bullies that already ridiculed him. And it wasn't just bullies. At the very start of the school year, a teacher had asked him why he wasn't with Sophie up at the elementary school. It was an innocent and legitimate question that made Jamie ponder more than it should've.
Jamie still appeared around the age of twelve, which made him look like a younger sibling in the group rather than friends of the same age. As they all departed to their respective houses, and as Jamie heard one of his friends call out a "tell Jack we said 'hi'" statement, he was reminded that this was not only the last day of school, but it was one day closer to high school, one day closer to a completely new breed of bullies.
Jamie tried to shake the thoughts away as he opened the front door, tossed his backpack on the counter, and brushed passed his mom to go upstairs. He didn't make it five steps when he heard his mother speak from the dining room table.
"How was school today," the woman asked, finally tearing her eyes away from the article she'd been typing on the laptop.
"It was okay," Jamie said rather curtly, turning again to make it up the stairs. He heard his mom sigh before she called him again. The kid blew a puff of air to his bangs, and his current mindset didn't allow him to make eye contact with her.
"Jamie," his mother said after a long moment. "We have to talk about this."
Jamie spun to fully face the woman. "I already told you how all that snow got there."
The mom's eyes narrowed. "Snow doesn't just magically appear on its own."
Try explaining that to Jack Frost, Jamie wanted to say, but held his tongue. He didn't want to take his frustration out on his mother. Instead, Jamie exhaled and said, "We were making fake snow in science class that week, and I brought some home, and-"
The mother clapped the laptop shut, looking at Jamie steadily. "One little vial of snow isn't enough to fill an entire house."
"I know, but-"
"Jamie, all of the furniture was ruined! Do you know how much it costs to replace all of that. I'm still trying to find a couch that-"
The familiar chord that represented Jamie and Jack's bond inside twitched inside the kid. "I'm sorry!" He shouted, before turning heel and running up the stairs. He wasn't mad at her. In fact, he wasn't mad at anyone in particular; it was agitation that was initially getting to him.
As soon as Jamie yanked his bedroom door open and slammed it close, he leaned against the frame and exhaled, wiping beads of sweat from his forehead. With the summer solstice only days away, the heat was taking its toll on the kid, and there was no avoiding it. Inside or out, Jamie could feel the high temperature. However, heat, bullies, and his mother weren't the only things making him edgy.
The chord inside Jamie rippled and strummed pensively as he flopped backward onto the bed, and no matter how much he concentrated, his frustration was getting in the way of channeling Jack's thoughts.
The mother pushed the empty coffee mug to the other end of the table before she rubbed her temple with her fingertips. After she had put Sophie to bed, she made one more brew of coffee before setting down to write the rest of it. She was only halfway through writing the roundabout article before she finally used up the last of the beverage.
The woman's fingers danced lazily over the keys, eyes drooping and barely paying heed to what she was writing. Even if sleep tried to take her, she couldn't stop writing. She had already asked her boss an extension on the deadline, twice, and if she were late, again, with her submission her boss certainly wouldn't be happy. With two kids to look after, being fired wasn't an option.
The mom was about to move on to another paragraph before she heard the familiar click of Jamie's bedroom window. Very light, almost inaudible, footsteps sounded from the bedroom, pattering across the floor. Then, the footsteps ceased, being replaced with the sound of Jamie's bed creaking.
The mom buried her face in her hands after looking at the wall clock. This was always the time when Jamie would return home after sneaking out. How he manages to sneak in and out the window was beyond her, but nonetheless. It was routine now.
Regardless of the late hour or how much she needed to finish the article, Jamie's mom stood up and began trekking up the stairs to dutifully tuck her son in. The moment she entered the upstairs hallway, her hands found her shoulders. A chilling bite in the air met her bare arms and the urge to chatter her teeth grew stronger as she came closer to Jamie's room. This was also routine. When she opened the child's door, the mother expected to only see her son putting on his pajamas and climbing into bed. Except, Jamie was already in bed, and he wasn't alone in the room.
Like always, Jamie's arms were wrapped around his favorite stuffed rabbit, but another set of hoodie-clad arms were wrapped securely around the slumbering boy. A teenager with white hair, a blue jumper, and no older than seventeen, was holding the little kid close to his chest.
The mom blinked rapidly, gaping incredulously at this stranger in her home who was sleeping next to her young child. Scowling, the mom fought the urge to shake her head, knowing full well that despite Jamie's size he was still going into high school. He was growing up.
The woman was about to speak up before the older teen's eyes fluttered open, revealing striking cerulean irises. The stranger exhaled before releasing Jamie and untangling himself from the mess of blankets. The teenager slid silently off the bed, and turned around to kneel over Jamie.
"…just got here," she could her snippets of his words. "But I have to run something by…be back tomorrow."
Jamie's form shifted a little, then he nodded his head and fell back asleep. A soft, fond smile spread over the teenager's face before he bent down further to plant a light, paternal kiss on the child's temple. A twang of jealousy made the mother's hands fist as the teenager turned to grab a shepherd's crook leaning against the dresser. The teenager only took a step forward before he came to a halt, eyes falling upon the mother standing in the doorway.
Obviously having not heard the mom's measured and quiet opening of the door, the teen's face went completely blank as his jaw parted slightly. As unreadable as his expression was, the mom's emotions were clear as day. Her blindsided face faded only to contort into a mix of anger and astonishment. The teen, mouth previously gaping like a water-starved fish, now winced. He ran a hand through his snow-white hair and opened his mouth to speak up.
The mother immediately held up a stern finger. "Downstairs," she said between clenched teeth. "Now."
Gulping with both dread and guilt etched in his features, the strange teen kept his staff and head low, brushed passed the mom, and made his way down the stairs. As soon as his bare feet touched the dining room floor a hand connected sharply with the back of his head. He yelped and spun to face the furious woman.
"Look," the teenager held up his hands in defense. "I'm really sor-"
"What," the woman seethed. "are you doing in my home?" Her anger made the teen back up until his tailbone met the edge of the dining table. Then, the mom blinked. "If you hurt any of my kids-"
"No," the teenager said frantically. "I would never do that, I promise. They're my best friends."
"Friends," she scoffed. "Who the heck are you?"
Jack cleared his throat out of nervousness, and etiquette. "I'm Jack Frost," he said, grinning sheepishly and extending a hand. "Nice to meet you." Excellent, Jack. This woman looks like she wants to destroy you and you say it's a pleasure meeting her. Jack rolled his eyes at his thoughts.
The mother stared at the hand in front of her, eyebrows raised and lips tilted in a grimace. "You've got to be kidding me…," she grumbled.
"'Fraid not," Jack used his extended hand to scratch the back of his head. "By the way, I'm sorry about turning your house into a winter wonderland while Jamie was sick. We were sledding down the steps and things got carried away."
The scowl never left the woman's face. Perhaps the teenager's name was 'Jack Frost', like in Jamie's stories, but the teen certainly didn't hold any magic. That wasn't possible. However, she did find it only slightly possible that he caused the snow. A kid Jamie's age couldn't bring about something like that, plus the mom was simply desperate for an explanation.
"You owe me a new couch, and a new laptop." She gestured to the computer setting on the table. "This one I'm borrowing from my boss, and he's already at wit's end with me."
Jack scratched the back of his head again. The winter spirit still didn't have a handle on the current working world. He found it silly and confusing as to why most of the world departed from essentials like farming and fishing to work with machines and in power plants. Whatever the mother's job was, Jack never really asked about it. Despite his ignorance, Jack could clearly see how much the mother needed this job.
Jack pursed his lips, staring at the laptop. The mom watched him closely. She could see Jack's eyes moving a little, calculating and thinking over her predicament.
"How on Earth did you make it snow…in my house?"
"I just opened a few windows," Jack said, only gave her a side-glance with curiosity now tearing his eyes away from the laptop and around the room. Jack had been inside the house many times, but the awkward moment and standing still weren't agreeing with his impatient nature.
"It's spring," the woman remarked.
Jack brandished his staff. "I used a little magic, too," he said before turning to look at the disbelieving woman. "You okay?"
The mom shook her head and placed her palms on the tabletop. She groaned, closing her eyes and assuming the effects of staying up too late were to blame. "This is not…," she whispered, and then pointed to the door. She hoped by simply showing him the exit would make this heinous hallucination go away. "Just, please. Leave."
She heard Jack chuckle. "Don't believe in magic," he whispered. "But you can see me. Now that's a combination."
She tossed a look in his direction. "What do you mean," she demanded. "Of course I can see you."
"Obviously," Jack smiled, leaning casually against the kitchen countertop not too far from the table. "Otherwise we wouldn't be having this conversation." Jack reached far behind him to flick a dial on the stove, igniting a steady flame under a metal teapot.
"What're you doing?"
Jack tilted his head. "Isn't this how you make coffee?" The spirit looked at her pallor, exhausted face. "You look like you could use some."
The mother shook her head. "All out. And everyone uses coffeemakers now."
Jack shrugged. "What about hot chocolate?"
The mother watched as the teen reached into a certain cupboard and brought out two packets. Too tired to ask how he knew where it was, she only nodded. Wasn't she just asking this kid to leave?
Jack set to work bringing out two mugs and shaking chocolate powder into each. Jamie was the one who showed Jack around the kitchen. When the mother had to work late and Jamie and Sophie were home alone, Jack took it upon himself to learn a bit of cooking. And while he hasn't gotten much further from cooking macaroni and cheese, he knew the basics. Additionally, he always made sure to know where the hot cocoa supplies were, a beverage that soon became a favorite.
At the whistling of the kettle, Jack poured the steaming water into the mugs, rounded the counter and presented a mug to the woman. She smiled briefly and took a few sips. Jack matched the grin and took a seat across from her, idly stirring a spoon in the mug. Every now and then he would blow on it, but he'd yet to drink it.
"So, uh," Jack piped up when his eyes fell back on the laptop abandoned to the corner of the table. "What'cha writing?"
The mother swallowed a mouthful of the drink. "It's for a magazine. I'm supposed to write an article every two to four weeks. It can be about anything, but I prefer nonfiction." The mother heard Jack grumble under his breath. "What was that?"
"It's just," Jack said. "If it were me, it'd be fiction. More fun and easier, in my opinion." Jack barked a laugh. "Can't really back that up, though. I'm terrible at writing. Just ask Jamie; he's still teaching me."
"Jamie's teaching you how to write," she asked, eyeing his older teenage form.
"And a little bit of reading still. You've got a smart kid up there." Jack smiled fondly, pointing to the room above them.
The mother nodded. "How do you two know each other?"
Jack pursed his lips, searching for the least confusing words. "Has Jamie ever said anything about 'the last light'," he asked, knowing that Jamie had already said a number of things regarding their adventures together. The mother shook her head.
"Okay," Jack breathed, setting the mug down and wiping his hands together. "Long story short, Jamie was the last kid to believe in the Guardians, and I made it snow in his bedroom to help him believe again." And the Boogeyman also attempted plunged the world into darkness, and almost 'snuffed his light out', but that's beside the point.
The mother scoffed at his story. "Just as imaginative as my kids," she muttered. "I'm sorry. What was your name again?"
"Jack Frost," he said, retrieving his mug of hot chocolate. "Jackson Overland Frost, if you want specifics."
"You mean to tell me," she said slowly, enunciating every other word. "that you're the Jack Frost."
"I don't know too many others named Jack Frost."
"You make it snow," she clarified. "You make the frost, you bring winter? Right," she rolled her eyes. "And I'm friends with the Easter Bunny."
"Coincidence," Jack said, laughter appearing in those blue eyes. "I am too…unfortunately."
The mother ignored the quip and looked at both mugs. "Aren't you going to drink yours?"
"Yep," Jack nodded, taking the spoon out of the mug. "I was just waiting for it to cool."
With that, Jack's spoon dove into the chocolate, and the liquid that was expected was replaced with a solid chocolaty scoop, similar to ice cream. The mom went slack-jawed. "Warm food doesn't exactly agree with me," Jack explained.
"You just froze that," the mother said redundantly. Jack shrugged and continued munching on the now frozen chocolate. The mother slumped back in her chair, eyes downcast to her still steaming mug.
She could no longer count on her fingers how many times she'd see frost in random places in the house, how many times the name 'Jack Frost' was mentioned, or how many times Jamie said he was going to play in the snow in spite of whatever season was going on. She faded out of her reverie when she noticed decorative spindles of frost snaking around Jack's chair and even onto the edges of the table.
"My gosh," she breathed. "You're Jack Frost…"
Jack abruptly looked up from his drink and pushed the mother's mug further toward her. "Maybe you ought to drink some more of this. You're looking paler than me."
"Everything Jamie said," the mother realized, ignoring the beverage. "is true. And he's been saying it for years." She suddenly looked closer at the winter spirit. "The kids always say you hang out with them. Wouldn't you rather hang out with kids your own age?"
"Don't suppose you know any kids who are three-hundred years old?" Jack let out a chuckle at the woman's gaping. "Teenagers can't see me. Not many kids can see me either," Jack added, curling a knee up and against his chest. "We're still working on that one."
"Adults can't see you either?"
"Nope. You're the only one who believes I exist. How in the world that happened…"
"But you definitely exist. So, why can't people see you?"
"I'm invisible to almost everyone." He paused. "I'm just an expression, remember?"
The mother's eyes instantly closed regrettably at the memories of telling Jamie time after that Jack Frost didn't exist.
"Don't get bent up about it," Jack shook his head kindly, albeit distantly. "It's what everyone says. I'm just happy to have the believers I have now."
She shook her head good-naturedly. "The kids never stop talking about you. Jamie, especially."
"Yeah," Jack chuckled. "He's like a little brother to me, you know. He was the first human to see me in three-hundred years. He's the reason why I became a Guardian."
The conversations continued from there. Most of her questions consisted of the Guardians; who they were, what they did, and what they guard. Jack answered to the best of his abilities, and whereas most questions were easy, others weren't. History wasn't Jack's strength, and it was only now did he realize his lack of knowledge regarding the Guardians' origins. He knew a bit of North's and some of Bunny's, but Tooth and Sandman were a bit of mystery. He'd be sure to ask them about it later.
Then came the questions about the Boogeyman, which spiraled into the fiasco of that fateful Easter. Of course, she hadn't seen the Nightmares rummaging through the night sky or the gold sand furling through the town. Every adult wrote off that night as a strange thunderstorm.
"And that's how Jamie pretty much kept us in existence," Jack said, ending the story at the part where Jack became the Guardian of Fun.
The mother shook her head, trying to adjust her mind to such impossibilities. And every time she would second guess herself, Jack would fidget with his frost-covered staff, make a snowflake out of thin air, or have a few a more bites of his frozen drink.
She felt a chilly hand resting on her shoulder. "He's real special, you know, your son," Jack said, looking her in the eyes. "He means a lot to me."
"You said you visit him the most," the mother mused. "Why?"
Jack chuckled. Here came the fun part. "I kind of have to," he said. "We're bonded, so I can't exactly leave him alone for too long."
He used the crook of his staff to tap the side of his head. "Magical connection," Jack explained. "If an immortal becomes fond of someone – almost always a human kid – they establish an unbreakable link between each other."
"Is that all?"
Jack shook his head. "Depending on the immortal's powers, several things could come with it. It also depends if there's a human involved." Jack paused to take in her blank expression. "Since Jamie and I bonded, we not only share thoughts with each other, we also share emotions, can detect each other's location, and he also possesses some of my powers."
"My son doesn't have any powers." Surely the mother would've seen Jamie use any kind of magic.
Jack smiled and shook his head. "You should've seen the blizzard he made last Christmas. It almost bested my Blizzard of '68." Jack suddenly cringed. "The bond also messes with his growth spurts, too. Sorry about that."
"You're the reason why he's not growing," The mother almost demanded, temporarily forgetting about the aforementioned blizzard.
"I really am sorry," Jack said, looking away. "I see how other people look at him, how bullies treat him. That's why there was another snowstorm a few weeks ago. I let my anger get the better of me." Jack exhaled. "I can protect him from Fearlings, Pitch, and his own clumsiness, but bullies are my main problem…and his powers, too."
"What's wrong with his powers?"
"Nothing," Jack said. "He's still a bit shaky with his abilities, but I'm also downright overprotective." Jack propped his hands behind his head in an almost proud manner. "Jamie doesn't call me 'the nanny' for nothing, I guess."
The mother belted an exuberant and, from what Jack could tell, a much-needed laugh. "I think I could see that," she nodded, but her serious demeanor began to return. "When will he start looking older?" A brief picture of little Jamie coming home from middle school with a black eye flashed in her mind.
Jack pursed his lips. "No idea. He should be looking older by now. North said Jamie would need extra years for his magic to develop, but even I agree this is getting a bit ridiculous." Jack already told Jamie that he was going to see North, but everything the Guardian told Jack in regards to the bonding process was either the exact opposite or slightly skewed. Perhaps it was just different for every bonded pair. Jack explained this to the worried mother, but it hardly consoled her.
"Let's make a deal," Jack eventually decided. "You focus as much as you can on your work." He jabbed a thumb at himself. "And I'll look after Jamie. It is my job."
Jack shook his head and grimaced. "I can look after her as needed, but it would probably turn into a territorial dispute."
"Because your daughter bonded with the Easter Kangaroo."
That, of course, opened up another conversation, which mainly consisted of Jack jesting the Pooka. And the mother could tell by his tone that it was all in good fun.
The mother exhaled. "My kids…are forever magically connected to two fairy tales…"
"So, nothing out of the ordinary, huh?" The mother chuckled, shaking her head slowly. "Hey," Jack grinned, pointing in her direction. "Now you have something nonfiction to write for an article, right?"
Jamie was the smartest kid Jack knew. He was the most understanding, as well, but to dump news like this into the little kid's ears…! Jack growled, landing on a sidewalk in Jamie's neighborhood to bang his staff irately againsth the ground. The shock and wind echoed down the vacant street; everyone was snug in bed and had not paid heed to the outburst. The only one who noticed him was the dream giver standing silently on a cloud of gold sand, high above the town and casting his dreams.
Jack and Sandy made eye contact and the winter spirit gave a thumbs-up with a forced grin. Sandy, used to Jack's moods by now, thought for a moment before matching the grin. He knew full well when Jack desired company and when he wanted to be left to his own thoughts.
Nodding 'goodbye', Jack flipped his hood over his head, turned heel, and strode thoughtfully down the lonesome street. He didn't visit Jamie the previous day, which ate at him. Not only did he hate being away from his bond, but it was also the kid's first day of high school, and Jack missed it for a meeting with North that he wished he never sought.
Jack ran a hand through his snowy hair, trying to find a way around North's words, a way to reverse them. However, the more he thought, the more the elder Guardian made sense.
Jack paused to watch a car round a corner. Before the car could make the turn its wheels started turning at top speed, but the car slid opposite way, gaining no traction on the pavement. With a startled gasp, Jack aimed his staff and a spark of white shot out and under the car. Not a second later, the vehicle gained traction again, speeding off down the street as if nothing happened.
Jack flew and landed on the pavement to the see the ice on the road melting away. The winter spirit looked right behind him to see Jamie's home. Jack scratched his head. It was yet another reason why North's words made sense.
Hiking his staff higher, Jack leapt off the ground, rode the wind a brief moment, then pushed a house window open and stepped inside Jamie's room. He had to catch himself from tripping over a backpack and new textbooks. He glanced to his left to see the younger boy slumbering, fitfully rolling on the bed. Jack tugged at the collar of his hoodie and swung his staff, bringing a light snowfall and a needed drop in temperature to the room.
Sighing, Jack took the books, put them into the backpack, and draped it around a bedpost. He proceeded to go about the room putting toys away, stacking drawings together so as none got lost, re-tacking a few homemade posters to the wall, and putting a few discarded clothes into the dresser drawers. Jack chuckled, remembering the whole 'nanny' quip. When Jack ever felt he needed to be close to his bond, even while the younger slept, the spirit was never one to still too long. So, while it should be the mother's job, Jack took it upon himself to tidy up the room or even take some blank paper and crayons to draw on or practice his writing and reading.
Jack heard Jamie mumble in his sleep, and the child ceased tossing on the bed. The cooling temperature of the room was finally putting him through the REM cycle. And it was very contrary to the reason why Jack was there. Going against his instincts to take care of him, Jack made the snow stop falling, and the warmth of the night almost immediately raised the temperature. Jamie all but growled in his sleep and Jack was taken aback when the snow started up again.
Jamie still had trouble with his powers. He was a patient student and was always eager to learn, but he couldn't consciously control things just yet, and when he purposefully practiced them he would overexert himself. Things started out little with bits of frost here and there and a few patches ice would mysteriously appear in his classrooms and hallways. However, things were becoming more obvious. His mother would come into his bedroom to find a decent layer of snow almost every morning. Not that she minded now with her new understanding of her son's abilities, and Jack's ever-present visits. The biggest problems erupted with him shooting ice from his fingertips when being hassled by bullies, accidentally freezing some school chalkboards, involuntarily forming ice on the road, and there had been two freak blizzards during the previous summer.
Jack shook his head, swung his staff again, and forced the snow to stop, whether Jamie wanted it to or not. The bed springs creaked and moaned as Jamie shifted uncomfortably until he finally gave in to consciousness and slowly sat up. His agitated mood dissipated upon seeing his best friend.
"Hey, Jack," Jamie's voice croaked from sleep.
"Hey-a, kiddo," Jack responded, pulling back his hood and hovering to land next to Jamie's bed to give him a chilly hug. The Guardian of Fun's welcoming demeanor fell as he sighed. He grabbed Jamie's shoulders, and forced him to lock eyes with him.
Jamie's grin faltered. "What's wrong," he asked, then blinked. "Don't beat yourself up about missing yester-"
"It's not about that," Jack said flatly. "This is something…different." Jamie just stared at him. Jack exhaled, his hand falling on the bedpost that held the backpack. Yet unknown to Jamie, the kid wasn't going to need that kind of stuff any longer.
"I don't think school will be an option tomorrow."
Jamie's face lit up adorably. "Early snow day?"
Jack chuckled humorlessly. "Call it…an extended snow day."
Jamie tried to imitate the laugh, like any little brother would. "Jack, what's going on?" Jack sat across from Jamie on the bed, staff still in hand as if ready to take off.
Jack told Jamie about his most recent visit with North, that he told the older Guardian about his lack of aging. Both Jamie and Jack knew his stunted growth would definitely prove to be a challenge, but they assumed they could always work around that. But the child was barely aging, if not at all.
Jamie shrugged. "People talk about it, yeah," the kid agreed. "But they've gotten used to it."
Jack shook his head. "They're still curious about it. I sometimes hear talk when I do my rounds through Burgess. Of course, I just start chucking snowballs at them whenever they get too in depth." Jack paused to let Jamie chuckle.
The Guardian also reminded Jamie of his powers, how volatile they still were. "We've been practicing," Jamie remarked, though. "I've been getting better."
Jack nodded, but still countered his words. "A lot of people are noticing weird stuff, and they realize most of it happens around you." Jamie winced. "Again, I'm hearing people talk, and the gossip is getting worse."
Burgess was a small town and word spread rather quickly. The last thing Jack wanted was for Jamie to become some sort of freak show attraction, or to end up in a science lab. As cliché as those ideas were, they weren't impossible. Jack would've blamed these thoughts on his own paranoia, but North, one of the most sensible of the Guardians, agreed with the spirit.
"Bunny's suggesting that you study abroad." Jack stopped, but continued at Jamie's bemused tilt of the head. "I talked it over with North, and he's the one who initially posed the suggestion...
"We all agree that you should leave Burgess."
Jack's old friend, the wind, immediately stopped howling outside, covering the two boys with a massive, stunned silence. Jack pulled his legs to his chest resting his closed eyes on his knees. He didn't dare look into Jamie's enraged face. Every now and then, Jack would feel the kid shift apprehensively on the bed. The winter spirit flexed his pale fingers, waiting for the shouting and anger to be unleashed from the still little boy.
Jack felt his thoughts travel back a few years.
"I'm sorry," Jamie repeated, eyes closed in guilt. "It's all my-" He paused. "W-we bonded. And I didn't know... I-I must've-"
Jack inhaled when the chord inside him jolted. And before he could question this, Jamie finally met his gaze, and the chord jerked again. "I completely ruined your life." Jamie curled his legs and pressed his face against his knees.
The binding chord inside of Jack twitched almost painfully. The spirit took it upon himself to be the first to speak up. "I've completely ruined your life."
Jamie paused for a moment, then Jack felt Jamie's shifting come closer. It only stopped when two little arms wrapped around him. Jack finally looked over to see his kid's face buried against his shoulder. There wasn't a trace of anger on Jamie's face; not even a sad tear marred his innocent features. Jack brought his hands around, adjusted Jamie onto his lap while still accommodating his staff, and wrapped his arms tightly around the boy.
"You didn't ruin my life," Jamie muttered.
"Maybe not," Jack said quietly. "But this is a rather compromising little roadblock, don't you think?"
Jamie chuckled at his sarcasm before looking into his cerulean eyes. "I don't like this." Jamie shook his head.
"Neither do I." I'm ripping you away from your home, for Moon's sake.
"There's nothing else we can do?"
"We can always go back in time and stop ourselves from bonding, but Father Time is hard to reach these days."
Jamie wasn't sure if that was a joke or not – he would be sure to ask about that later – but he was too scatterbrained at the moment.
Jack chewed his lower lip, trying to grasp reassuring words. "Your friends may be a bit of a problem, but visiting Sophie wouldn't be since she's always in the Warren. Your mom…"
"Whether she knows about you or not, she wouldn't agree." Jack nodded. The mother could now understand why Jamie would sometimes leave for hours at a time, she accepted the fact that his powers could get out of control, and she could just barely handle him skipping or leaving school on occasion. However, if her son had to practically vanish from her world…
Jack's habits were erratic. Aside from Burgess, he never stayed in a single town for too long. Jamie would be with Jack, and would have to abide by this. Therefore, it's not like the mother could visit them. And Jamie certainly couldn't come to Burgess to visit them, at least not until things died down, but Jack wasn't sure how long that would take.
Jack was ready with hollow advice, but the creaking of Jamie's window made him stop. Standing on the windowsill was the Sandman, arms crossed and looking dolefully at the two boys. Jack muttered to Jamie that the dream giver knew what was going on.
"Give us another few minutes, Sandy," Jack said. The Sandman nodded and whistled silently to himself, signaling that he wasn't leaving anytime soon.
Jack looked back at Jamie. "Kiddo," he began slowly. "You understand all this, right?" Of course, he understands! Don't belittle him.
Jack didn't mean to, but his Guardian and bonded instincts still saw him as semi-helpless little nine-year-old. And while Jamie was already in high school, he still appeared twelve years old and retained his innocence.
Jamie stared at Jack for a long moment. "When do we have to leave?"
The sound of ripping echoed through the tiny room and both boys turned to see a moving sand figure above the Sandman's arm. The sand was in the shape of a band-aid, with the action of putting the bandage on and ripping it right off. Quick, painless.
"Sandy said 'The sooner the better"," Jack related.
"But my mom-"
"He has it covered," Jack pointed to the other Guardian, who gave a sad thumbs-up. With a reluctant nod from Jamie, Sandy exited into the hallway in search of the mother's room.
The two boys set about going over the room, Jamie's now emptied backpack in hand, and walking about trying to decide what things would be necessary to take. Jack scratched his forehead with one hand and took a few drawings from the wall with the other.
"I think it's best to pack as light as we can," the winter spirit said, setting the drawings down and taking the leather cloak from Jamie's closet. After giving the kid some privacy, Jack turned around to face the now freshly clothed Jamie. Jack sat on the edge of the bed in front of the kid. "Your backpack might get lost in the wind," Jack explained as he tied the cloak over Jamie's shoulders.
"But my drawings…" Jack always pictured Jamie as a budding artist and knew that leaving behind precious crayon scrawls added heavily to his reluctance.
Jack took the stack of drawings from the table. "I'll take care of these."
Jack had already told the yetis which belongings Jamie would probably want to preserve, but not able to take with him. Jamie's hand dug through his dresser drawers, throwing clothes this way and that, trying to find the best outfits. Jack suggested that one set would be enough and that they could go to Laundromats during their travelling.
"I don't like this," Jamie repeated in his head as he stuffed some candy, a few sheets of paper, a pencil, and his emergency snow globe into his pockets.
"But I'm excited," Jamie turned to give Jack a small crookedn grin.
"Well," Jack chuckled. "How many kids get to have insane adventures with Jack Frost?"
"Lots of kids," Jamie said, although most children couldn't actually see him. "But not many have to leave home to travel with him." Jamie brushed dust from his cloak and turned to Jack. He flexed his jaw, then opened his mouth. "Mom's going to be okay, right? What's Sandy doing to her anyway?"
"She'll be fine, I promise," Jack said, using a pale finger to cross his heart. He placed a hand on Jamie's shoulder. "And Sandy's just…" Jack pursed his lips. "saying 'goodbye' for you."
"I can't say 'goodbye' to her?"
"We…wouldn't want her waking up and asking questions."
Jamie threw a stare at his closed bedroom door, imagining one last look through the hallway he and Sophie once ran up and down, and then he looked to the window when the wind gently pushed it open. Jamie didn't even glance at Jack when he nodded, giving the all-clear to hit the road. Jack stuffed the extra set of clothes in his front pocket, grabbed under Jamie's shoulders, and brought him into his arms. They both took one final look around the room before the wind swallowed them into the outside world.
Jack Frost wasn't worried about what the mother would think in the morning. The Sandman was deep in the middle of using ancient techniques he hadn't used in years. He used his dream sand to manipulate the mother's mind, twisting and reshaping until the last remnants of Jamie were only cloudy dreams to her. However powerful Sandy's magic was, Jamie still existed in tiny fragments in her mind, but his foggy image was not enough to register in the woman's mind, to make her believe that she ever had a son, or that the Guardians ever existed. And Jack didn't have the heart to tell Jamie of this quite yet.
Though a couple hours until dawn touched the sky, the yetis worked through the night to clear out Jamie's bedroom, emptying it of everything aside from a stripped bed and two barren desks. Jack had told the yetis to save certain stuff, which they happily agreed to. The excess things were brought to Toothiana's home to be put in the Room of Memories. Anything left behind in the house could prove confusing to the mother as well as trigger memories of Jamie, leading to a painful realization that her son was gone.
Several months prior, after writing the magazine entry about the Guardians, her articles were becoming big hits, leading to a sudden raise in pay. This came together when she was able to buy better food for her children, and could really begin paying off taxes and a loan. Now, with one less kid to look after, she would soon find herself with even less financial troubles.
Sandy departed the mother's room, dusting his hands off as he soon realized he would probably have to wipe minds from a few townsfolk. Yet, the dream giver wouldn't even be bothering with the tight security of the school system. No, that would be North and his yetis' job.
With his initial work now done Sandy exhaled and, too, glanced around Jamie's bedroom in farewell. After a delayed, unsure moment, the Guardian slowly floated to the window, making his way into the night to spread more dreams.
No one heard the drawn-out click of the closing window.
* ...And this story is now labeled as...complete. And will continue on into "Reapers Realm", which I can almost absolutely focus on now. To those of you who put in requests, thank you all for the inspirations. To those of you who put in requests that were never done, I infinitely apologize. However, after "Reapers Realm" is completed, I've already thought about making another story along the lines of "The Bond: Part 2". Mind you, that's a big 'if', but it would allow me to get to your suggestions.
You guys are awesome! I expected this story to get fifty reviews max, but when I saw the number hit two-hundred I was this close to fainting. To all who have alerted/favorited/read/reviewed, I can never ever thank you all enough. It makes my day to receive consctructive criticisim. Just thank you for sticking with the story this long...!