Everyone was relieved that Jack had awoken and was even well enough to get up on his own. He wasn't very successful at it, but the fact that he had tried was definitely something.
"Oh Jack I'm so glad you're feeling better! We were so worried," Tooth couldn't stand it any more. Unable to hold back another minute, the colorful fairy wrapped herself around Jack in a tight embrace.
Jack was a little surprised by the sudden contact and paused for a movement before returning the hug enthusiastically. He smiled and peeked over Tooth's shoulder to see his fellow guardians displaying fond looks as well, even Bunny.
"Alrigh', thats enough you two," Bunny gently pried Tooth from Jack who nearly fell over after the loss of support. Bunny was right there to keep him off his back though. Tooth blushed deeply and skirted away, still smiling. Jack laughed happily looking around to his companions. He suddenly realized it was Christmas, and again that he was not alone for it. This only made his smile widen.
"Hey guys, Merry Christmas!" Jack suppressed his feelings of guilt at causing everyone worry on the holiday just to enjoy the fact that they were all together. North boomed out a laugh and would have clapped the boy on the back hardily had he not been in such a weakened state. The Guardian of wonder settled for sweeping Jack into his arms bridal style and laughing merrily.
"Merry Christmas!" North repeated loudly, addressing the entire workshop, though it was still pretty void of life after the hard nights work.
Bunny hovered like a nervous mother around North who was swinging around a laughing Jack. Obviously he was still worried about any more damage coming to their winter spirit. Sandy rolled his eyes at the rabbit's blatant concern but smiled none the less. Bunny seemed to be treating Jack like one of his precious Easter eggs.
Jack, for once, didn't seem to be bothered by the attention. He was a little surprised and not quite used to it, but he had grown accustomed to North's sometimes overbearing actions. One learned to live with it and just enjoy the sudden outbursts.
"Okay, North. Put 'im down. He could still take a turn for the worst," North and Jack stopped to exchange looks. The big man burst into laughter at Bunny's worry but complied and placed Jack on the couch. The winter boy was still chuckling and grinning madly.
"Bunny, ease up a bit. It's Christmas!" Jack said happily. Unfortunately his point fell a little short when he broke into a fit of coughing.
"Yeah, I'll ease up alrigh', see wha good that'll do ya" Bunny gently patted Jack on the back until he had calmed a bit and was able take a few breaths without being riddled with short dry coughs.
"Oh Jack, your lip is bleeding," Tooth pointed out. She fluttered over to the medical supplies and found a tissue for Jack to mop up with. "Here," Tooth handed Jack the swab.
"Hm, yer lips are chapped, I think he's still dehydrated," Bunny stated. Sandy, who had been hovering close by, grabbed Jack's free hand that wasn't holding the tissue to his face and pinched the skin between his fingers. Jack resisted the urge to tug his hand away, having no clue what Sandy was doing. However, Jack let his arm be manipulated and settled for furrowing his eyebrows in question.
The golden man watched as the skin returned to it's position, a little too slowly. Flashing a few signs above his head, Sandy nodded, confirming that Jack was still in need of fluids before he would be back to normal.
"Alrigh' let's get you taken care of," Bunny straightened up and made his way over to the medical supply kit, rummaging to find another IV bag. It had not gone unnoticed, to Bunny at least, that the needle and tubing had been removed from Jack's pale arm.
"Woah, woah, what are you doing with that?" Jack asked as Bunny returned to his side with the new IV system. The sharp needle glinted menacingly in the light.
"Well sumbody went and ripped their old IV out, so I have to put a new one in," Bunny said, all the while glaring at Jack who he knew had been the perpetrator of such an act. Bunny hung the new bag on the wooden coat hanger he had righted and began fiddling with the end.
"Bunny, try not to faint again," North commented snidely, not even trying to hide his snickering. The thought of the big tough Australian Easter Bunny actually fainting was enough to put everyone over the edge. Sandy cracked into silent giggles and Tooth tried desperately to cover her mouth to stifle her own laughter.
Bunny froze at North's comment, a mix of anger and embarrassment over coming him. "Why don't you shut it ya bloody wombats. I'd like to see you put a needle in after two days withou' sleep!"
"Wait, am I hearing this right? Cotton tail over here fainted?" Jack asked a cheeky smile spreading across his face.
"Like a little girl!" North added in before Bunny could say anything different. Jack couldn't help himself and let out a raspy bark of laughter.
Finally taking pitty on the oversized rabbit, Tooth calmed her uncontrolled fit and took a few deep breaths. "Guys, I think we owe it to Bunny. He's been taking really good care of Jack. We shouldn't fault him for being a little squeamish,"
"I ain't squeamish. I was just tired,"
"Oh Bunny. Excuses are not your strong suit." North said while wiping a few tears from his eyes, finally able to speak without laughing.
"Can you say 'black mail'?" Jack whispered to Sandy who had floated just next to Jack. The little man shook with more silent laughter.
"Eh, I heard that snowball," Bunny said, shaking a fist at Jack, the tubing in his hand swaying back and forth with the motion. The needle flashed in the light again, catching Jack's attention once more. Bunny saw the glint of fear in the winter guardians face at the sight of the needle and immediately jumped on the opportunity.
"Tha's right, Frost, you're gonna get stuck with this. Then we'll see who's laughing." Bunny approached Jack who backed as far as he could into the couch.
"Hang on a minute! I am better now! I don't need that," Jack pleaded hands up in some sort of surrender.
"Sorry Jack, you're still dehydrated and this will fix it," Bunny said prepping the needle.
"Can't I just have a glass of water?" Jack suggested, remembering how thirsty he was all of a sudden. He clutched his throat, realizing how much it felt like sandpaper.
With that, Bunny paused and considered. He actually felt kind of stupid for not thinking of that solution himself. The only problem he had with not using the IV would be his lost opportunity for revenge. Then again, he had fainted upon his first encounter with the needle so possibly it would be better to avoid a second.
"Please, Bunny, I really am feeling better. Just really thirsty." Jack pleaded. He was trying to be civil now but if Bunny really did approach him with the needle, he was giving himself silent permission to do whatever it took to avoid the situation.
"Fine, you win. But don't think this means you're off the hook," Bunny said. He took the bag down in a disgruntled manner, bringing the tubing back to the kit of supplies.
"Oh I'll go get you some water Jack! I'll be right back," Tooth said before zipping out of the room.
Jack sighed in relief but was rudely assaulted by the electric thermometer being shoved into his mouth. He meant to say some sort of protest but could not get a word past the little probe that Bunny held in place. Jack couldn't do much but sit in submission until the instrument beeped.
"47.2. You've still got a fever," Bunny said while grabbing the blood pressure cuff and roughly jostling Jack's arm into the velcro strapping.
"Ow! Take it easy!" Jack said indignantly while Bunny manipulated his arm with no sympathy to which way it wasn't supposed to bend.
"I'll take it easy when I'm sure you're not going to be face down on the floor. I've been keeping you alive all day and I'm not going to stop just because you're claimin to be better," Bunny said this while pumping up the cuff. He filled it a few pumps more than necessary just to make his point. Jack grit his teeth as his arm was squeezed too tightly but didn't say anything against it.
"Now quite," Bunny said popping the buds of the stethoscope in his ears and listening to the brachial artery as the air from the cuff was released.
North and Sandy exchanged slightly frightened looks as they knew Bunny was in a pretty horrible mood. Neither of them wanted to step into the middle of things but it was clear Bunny was not suited to be the most caring 'nurse' at the moment. In fact, North and Sandy were frightened for Jack's physical well being after seeing Bunny manhandle the boy.
Sandy and North both knew they had to say something and silently squabbled over who would be the one to speak up. Sandy flashed golden images over his head messily while North gestured and mouthed protests, neither wanting to be the one to intervene. Bunny was none the wiser, back turned and focussed on getting the reading, but Jack looked at the two elder guardians' silent debate with a quizzical expression.
Needless to say, Sandy won the battle and North unwillingly prepared to confront their on edge rabbit.
As soon as Bunny removed the plugs from his ears North cleared his throat and prepared to speak.
"Bunny, Sandy and I think it is best if you take a break." Sandy looked slightly disgruntled, feeling thrown under the bus at being dragged into it. North nudged the golden man and he did reluctantly nod in agreement. "You are very tired, and have been under lot of stress. Why don't you go up to one of the spare bedrooms and we will take care of Jack,"
Jack now knew what the two had been arguing over and found himself agreeing with their idea very much. As evidenced by his current mood, the rabbit clearly was tired, over worked, and horrendously grumpy.
"Yeah Bunny, you should go. I'm fine now, and I think Tooth is-" Jack was cut off by Bunny, who was clearly very irritated by the suggestion.
"Quiet, Frost," Bunny silenced Jack's side comment. "I'm the one who has been taking care of Jack and I know what to look for if things go kid is still running a temperature, and his blood pressure is too low. I ain't leaving." Bunny said in finality.
Jack was half split between feeling indignant at being called a kid and feeling confused but happy knowing Bunny cared so much for Jack's well being that he would put himself under physical stress to make sure it stayed intact.
"Bunny, I think you should reconsider," North started firmly.
"I told ya, North. I ain't leavin." Bunny glared at his accuser.
"Sorry that took so long! The kitchen was a complete wreck! The elves had used all the glasses and dishes to make a..." Tooth trailed off awkwardly as she realized the tense scene she had just stumbled upon. She paused momentarily, looking between Bunny and North who had taken stances similar to persons participating in a shoot out.
"Hey, Tooth, don't worry about it, you weren't gone that long," Jack said, rather loudly, hoping to draw attention away from the current disagreement. Tooth still hovered at the edge of the scene, eying the stand off.
Noticing Tooth's hesitancy, Jack made eye contact and used an expression he could only hope said 'act normal and get over here!'
He figured Tooth picked up on his message at least a little because she recovered from her shock and fluttered over, laughing nervously. "Yeah those elves are something else,"
Bunny and North stayed as they were but Sandy backed away from the two, hoping to remove himself from the argument. He drifted over to Tooth and Jack, nodding in agreement that yes, those elves were something.
North looked at the golden man angrily, knowing he had lost his back up partner. He had been abandoned! The large man sighed, sure he had lost because Bunny was much to stubborn to convince on his own.
North sighed in defeat. Bunny knew he had won and the discussion would be dropped.
Jack coughed dryly, not really because he had to, but because he wanted to draw attention away from the current situation. It was true that each guardian had a very prominent personality and sometimes they clashed, but it was important to never let a disagreement stall cooperation for too long.
Unfortunately, what had been a fake cough, meant for distraction purposes only, caused a fit that Jack greatly regretted to have triggered. That certainly did the job of pulling everyone back to reality.
It was sort of amusing at how fast Bunny changed from angry and on edge to comforting and concerned. The rabbit turned right around from where he had been standing during his face off and plopped down on the couch next to Jack, patting his back. It seemed he was taking this position a lot today.
"Tooth, you wanna pour that glass of water?" Bunny asked. It seemed he had mellowed a bit after seeing Jack succumb to weakness once more.
The tooth fairy nodded and took the pitcher of water from the floor to pour it into the glass she had brought up from the kitchens. She then handed the glass to Jack who took it with shaking hands as he was still coughing rather uncontrollably. Bunny wrapped one of his large paws around the glass as well so it would not drop. The large rabbit then helped guide the glass to Jack's lips.
Jack, barely finding a spare moment in between each cough, finally took a sip of the water. The cool liquid soothed his dry scratchy throat almost instantly. He could feel the urge to cough still present but he ignored it, feeling the tickle dissipate as the water went down. He then remembered just how thirsty he was.
"Not so fast, Jack," Bunny said as Jack took control of the glass and tipped it back, dumping practically all of the water down his throat at once. He gulped audibly, his throat working to swallow all that he could as fast as he could.
Within a matter of seconds Jack had downed the entire glass. He pulled the cup away from his mouth breathing heavily. The other guardians stared at Jack, a little astonished at just how fast he had drank the liquid.
"Can I have more?" The winter boy had an almost crazed look in his eyes. He held the glass out to Tooth who was in current possession of the water pitcher. "Please?" Jack added at the end. If she didn't pour him more he was ready to seize the pitcher and drink straight from there.
Tooth looked at Bunny who seemed a little worried about the situation. He didn't want Jack drinking too much and getting sick, but it was a good thing he was getting hydrated. Bunny, acting as medical advisor, nodded and gave Tooth the okay to give him a refill.
Jack waited as patiently as he could while Tooth took his cup and poured more water. As soon as she finished Jack reached for the glass abruptly. His attempt, however, was cut off by Bunny, who took hold of the glass and held it out of reach.
"Slowly with this one, you got me?" Jack nodded furiously and could have cried in joy when the cool cup was placed into his palms. Just like the last, he tossed his head back and probably only took three huge gulps before the entire thing was empty. This earned him a few scolding statements from Bunny for not heeding his words about going slow, but Jack did not mind. He was finally starting to feel like himself again. He was still weak but the persistent aching headache that had been present ever since he awoke seemed to finally be starting to subside.
"One more," Jack said, handing the empty glass to Tooth for his third refill.
"I don't know Jack, you've had quite a bit already. Maybe you should wait a few minutes before I pour you another?" Tooth said, looking to Bunny who seemed to nod minutely in agreement of her reasoning.
"Please, I'm so thirsty," Jack said not sure if he even had enough strength to wrestle the pitcher away from any of the guardians at the moment.
"Just give him some more. He will be fine," North said, smiling to Jack who looked at him with pure thankfulness.
"You gonna listen to me this time when I say slow?" Bunny said as Tooth handed him the refilled glass. Jack nodded sincerely, feeling he had enough control over his thirst.
This time when Bunny gave Jack the glass he swallowed slowly and deliberately, relishing the feeling of the water washing down his throat and filling his stomach. He still finished the cup in one go but it had bee much less frantic.
"Alright, yer done," Bunny said, confiscating the glass. It looked as though Jack was going to ask for another but Bunny didn't even give him the option. Jack's shoulders sagged in slight disappointment, but also in sheer exhaustion. Even though he had been asleep, or rather unconscious, for much of the day he still felt abnormally tired.
"Jack you are tired, you should get some sleep," North said as he noticed Jack's eyes become heavily lidded.
"What? No. It's Christmas and we should celebrate," Jack said, trying his best to look alert and oriented, though he was beginning to feel neither.
North laughed at Jack's persistent enthusiasm. "There will be time to celebrate tomorrow," Sandy floated up next to North and nodded, giving a huge grin and two thumbs up.
"But, guys," Jack began, sitting a little further upright and scooting to the edge of the couch to prove he was fine.
"Jack, you've been through a lot today. I think you owe it to yourself to get a little rest and recover," Tooth smiled sweetly, fluttering next to Jack and placing a caring hand on his shoulder.
"Owe it to 'imself? He owes it to me," Bunny said indignantly, pointing to himself, the one that had done the burnt of the work in keeping the winter spirit alive.
North and Sandy exchanged looks, still realizing the rabbit was way too grumpy and over tired for his own good.
"Bunny, you may not like it, but Sandy and I can bring you to bed by force," North said, folding his intimidatingly tattooed arms and raising his eyebrows. To make their point more clear, Sandy formed a ball of golden sand. He tossed the glowing orb back and forth between his hands threateningly.
Bunny scowled at the two, "Alrigh'! I'll go in a minute," Bunny compromised in order to prevent Sandy from tossing the sleep sand his way. Sandy nodded happily and the little ball of sand disappeared with a poof.
"See Jack, you don't have to feel bad about getting some shut eye. We're all going to go to bed," Tooth said, still at Jack's side. She squeezed his shoulder reassuringly.
Jack tried to stifle a yawn and leaned back into the couch. "Well if you say so,"
"And when I say, we are all going to bed, I mean we are all going to bed," Tooth said sternly, like a mother. She looked to North and Sandy especially, who seemed to think themselves exempt from the conversation.
"Jack would you like to go up to one of the guest rooms for the night? A bed might be more comfortable," North considered, trying his best to be a good host. Jack however, was already half asleep and could barely comprehend the question.
"Huh, oh no I think I'll be fine here. Thanks though," Jack said.
North nodded, Sandy yawned, and Tooth fluttered from Jack's side and began to usher her fellow guardians up the stairs. "Come on Bunny," Tooth said. The rabbit had not moved from the couch where he sat by Jack.
"I think I'm gonna get one more set a vital signs and then I'll go," Tooth glared at Bunny skeptically. "Bunny," She began to protest but was cut off.
"Tooth I'll be up. Trust me. I'm exhausted," Bunny admitted. This was the only way he could reassure Tooth he really would be heading up to sleep himself, even without her witnessing it.
"Okay," Tooth said, finally turning her back and following North and Sandy towards the upper floors. She understood that Bunny probably needed the time to reassure himself that Jack was okay. She didn't blame him either. She could tell he had really been affected when there was a possibility of losing their newest and youngest member.
"Good night," North said, Sandy nodded in agreement.
"Night," Jack slurred out in response to the retreating forms of the other guardians.
"Okay, Frostbite, let's take a listen to those lungs," Bunny said prepping the stethoscope.
"Ugh Bunny, I'm fine now," Jack said but Bunny took no notice. He put his paw behind Jack's back and pushed him forward so he was no longer leaning against the couch. He then proceeded to slide the stethoscope under Jack's plain white tee and place it against the pale skin near his shoulder blades.
"Breath deep," Bunny ordered. Jack saw no point in protesting and was too tired to put up a fight, so he did what Bunny asked. The deep breathing actually felt good to him, like he was making up for all that time he went with so little oxygen. It also seemed to be putting him to sleep. But then again he didn't need much help with that.
Bunny moved his stethoscope laterally, starting high and working low. He listened to all of Jack's lung fields intently. They were not 100 percent clear but he was sure that would go away in a couple of days. Also, it didn't seem to be bothering the teen too much.
"Do I pass?" Jack asked when Bunny pulled away and pushed him back into the coach again.
"I'll give ya a B-," Bunny said seriously. Jack laughed at this, though it did not have it's usual spark because he was so lifeless from exhaustion.
Jack sort of faded in and out as Bunny finished up. He registered having his blood pressure taken, though thankfully the rabbit did not pump the cuff up as tightly this time. He vaguely realized Bunny had asked him to open his mouth so he could put the thermometer under his tongue as well. To say the least he was surprised he had stayed upright for the entire exam.
As Jack was being pulled deeper into sleep, he realized he still had something he wanted to tell the guardian of hope. Surely he could not sleep until he had addressed the topic.
It was a struggle, but Jack worked up enough energy to focus on the rabbit who was currently getting ready to count his radial pulse.
"Kangaroo," Jack started his head lolling back into the couch.
"Hey, I ain't a Kangaroo, ya overgrown ice chip,"
Jack chuckled. His eyes were dipping shut with each passing moment. "Sorry, sorry, Bunny," Jack corrected himself.
Bunny's whiskers twitched with the hint of a smirk. "What?" The large rabbit asked the barely awake teen. He was still keeping track of each thumping pulse in Jack's wrist, not taking his eyes off the second hand of the clock.
"I just wanted to thank you," Jack said softly. Bunny completely lost track of Jack's pulse. He was a bit caught off guard by the simple but sincere act of gratitude. Bunny tried to recover hastily.
"Thank me for what?" Bunny sighed when Jack remained silent. He looked down at his feet, not daring to make eye contact with the winter guardian. "Truth is, Jack, I think you've grown on us...on me," Bunny added, "And I think we, includin myself, would be pretty upset if you weren't around anymore. We would miss ya more than ya think," Bunny finished, feeling the telltale flush of embarrassment bloom under the fur on his face. It wasn't often that he made gushy speeches full of feelings and emotions. Though the words were short, they had been meaningful coming from the usually stoic rabbit.
The winter spirit remained strangely silent, so Bunny had no choice but to lift his head and face the younger guardian.
"Hey! What the-" Bunny said angrily as he looked at Jack, who was completely fast asleep. He was still sitting upright, though slightly slouched to the side with his head tilted back on the couch. His breaths were slow and even. He clearly hadn't heard any of Bunny's confession. "Why you bloody, no good.." Bunny trailed off, finding himself too tired to be mad. He rubbed his eyes with his paws and groaned. It had been too long of a day. He could feel the allure of sleep drawing him in. This time he was not so apt to fight it.
The large rabbit thought of getting up and making his way to one of the spare bedrooms littered across the upper floors of the workshop but the thought of moving did not sound appealing. Bunny groaned again and flopped back to lean against the couch, letting his eyes fall shut. Unfortunately, his graceless slump had displaced the cushions just enough to cause Jack's rather uncomfortable looking position to be skewed. The sleeping boy slid sideways and only stopped his decent when he made contact with Bunny's furry shoulder.
The rabbit jumped a little, his eyes snapping open at the sudden contact. That was when he looked down to see Jack using his shoulder as a pillow, and sleeping on without a care in the world. "Oh for the love of-" Bunny said, trying to shift out from under the winter child. He gave up quickly though, realizing he was just too tired to do anything about it.
"You're turning me into a big softy, ya know that Frosty?" Bunny asked the sleeping child, even though he knew he would get no response. His own eyes were already closed as he leaned his head back against the couch. It was not even a minute before the large rabbit was asleep as well.