Well I thought I was completely done with the story, gave a nice little ending where people could decide for themselves if Pitch was alive or not, or if Jack was just dreaming and the such but no...you all want an epilogue. To be honest I'm flattered. I've been writting novel for a decade now and never had so many people respond and ask for more. I'm simply loving the attention. When I'm done with my other project I might continue with a series of shorts in the universe as suggested, but I do have another ROTG idea to work on first.
So with that all said let's wrap this baby up.
Pitch's hand stilled in Jack's hair was the child's breathing grew deep with sleep. The room he was in suited Jack much more than Pitch's lair had, with its large windows showcasing the endless winter landscape beyond and an overhead skylight showing the now clear night sky and wanning moon. Pitch couldn't hold back his frown. Even in the darkened room it was far too bright for his tastes. He stared down at his child, yes child, his Jack, debating whether or not to take him home. They belonged together, deep underground. Nightmare sand reached out, brushing against Jack's sleeping form.
He closed his eyes, his hands fisting. Momentary anger filled him. Jack needed to be with him...he...he needed Jack. With his depleated power he only had one shot at this, only one chance to bring Jack home yet he couldn't do it. The winter child wasn't meant to be locked away in darkness, he was meant to be one with his element, to play and dance and fly amongst the snowy landscape, to bring fun and joy to children.
"Snowballs and funtimes," he muttered, shaking his head. "That's your Center, isn't it?"
He took one last look at his surroundings and let his shoulders slump. No, he couldn't take Jack back to the lair. This was where Jack belonged.
He glared up at the moon. "Why? Why can't I have happiness? Why does fear have to be shunned and hiddened? It should be embraced. It protects." He looked away. "I proved that."
A soft whisper danced across his mind then was gone. Pitch only shook it away. "If I said it once I've enough. I will not become one of your precious Guardians." He looked back at Jack's sleeping form, his decision made. "Besides, you have another."
Steeling himself he let the shadows reclaim him. "Good bye, Jack Frost," he whispered one last time before letting the shadows carry him back to his lair.
Jack knew Pitch was still alive. It was nothing big or grand that gave the Nightmare King away, just little things that the others didn't notice or took for granted. All except Bunny. Items Jack had collected during his time with Pitch would appear in Jack's room, clothes in his closet that he had not had the heart to retrieve from Pitch's lair. He'd go to his room after a day long bringing snow to the world or playing with Jamie and his friends to find something new on his dresser or bed, including a stuff rabbit that he assumed was to replace Bunnymund. Said Pooka was not amused when he showed him, teasing about how cute he once was.
For Bunny, it was the scent of Pitch in jack's room that had him raising the alarm.
"If he was here to hurt us he would have attacked by now," Jack argued as Bunny paced in front of the Globe of Belief. "He doesn't have the power."
North was leaning against the globe's control panel, stroking his beard as he gazed through the skylight. "He has made no move against us," the Russian noted. "No threats to children."
"He can't," Jack insisted.
"And we've only found traces of black sand in Jack's room but no nightmares, da?"
"No nightmares," Jack confirmed.
"What'cha mean hmm?" Bunny asked, shocked. "Ah'm sorry, North, but ta kid and Ah spent eight months captive. Now Jackie might think the world o'im but fact is he almost detroyed civilization as we know it. Ya can't expect us to sit back and let 'im regain 'is power."
North's blue eyes regarded Bunny for a moment then Jack. "Perhaps."
"You can't be serious!" Jack cried, staring at the older Guardian with shock. "He saved us!"
"Calm down, Jack," North said gently as he walked up to the youth. He took his slim shoulders into his large hands. He bent down a little until they were eye level. "Kozmotis indeed saved the world, but if black sand in your room than he is still Pitch and can not be trusted."
"I trust him."
North straightened and nodded. "And he trust you?"
Jack opened his mouth to respond then closed it, silent for several long moments. "I think so."
"Than I have a mission for you. "You can find your way back to his lair, da?"
Jack nodded, a small smile curving his lips in anticipation.
"North, dis isn't a good idea, mate," Bunny objected, moving to them. He glanced down at the youth, frowning at the kid's smile. "If Pitch has even an ounce of power left..."
"Manny says it time."
"No!" Snapped Bunny. "Not Pitch."
"You objected to Jack, too," North reminded him and turned his focus completely to Jack who was staring at them with wide, confused eyes. There was excitment too. "Pitch has learned from mistake, proved strong to pull his fearlings and ask for help. He willingly sacrificed himself for the human race."
"He did it to save himself," Bunny argued, annoyed.
"He is Guardian." North said, arms folded and glaring down Bunny.
"Pitch is many things but a Guardian isn't one of them."
"Wait," Jack said, staring past them to the moon outside. "Pitch is a Guardian?"
North gave a short nod. "Selected many centuries ago, but like you refused."
"Why indeed," growled Bunny, flopping on a near by sofa. "Bloody gimby should never been selected."
North just shook his head. "Fear is needed, Jack. It is a delicate balance that no one likes, but needed all the is hated and many banish it but without fear there would be no caution and terrible things happen. You understand?"
"Yeah." Jack grinned. "So you want me to go get him? Should I take a few yetis and the sack?"
North gave a full belly laughed. "Sack for toys and little winter sprites. Pitch need more...delicate touch."
Jack whooped with glee, jumping on the banister and ready to shoot through the skylight when Bunny suddenly grabbed his ankle and yanked him back down. Jack shoot him a confused look before frowning and trying to kick his ankle lose. Bunny grabbed his elbow as soon as if was in range.
"Let go, Bunny."
'Stay put, ya dill," the Pooka growled, shoving the smaller being into North's arms. "North, where's the dang book?"
North gestured to one of the yetis and a few minutes later the Book of Guardians was presented to Bunnymund. "If we're go'na do tis might'swell do it right." He tapped his foot, creating a tunnel then, grabbing Jack around the waist, jumped in."
North just shook his head with a laugh. "I hope you know what you doing, Manny."
Jack jumped out of the tunnel with a laugh and landed on the smooth rocky ground. Bunny hoped out next, sniffing the air and frowning at the surroundings. Nothing had changed. It was just as dark and creepy as ever, but it wasn't hard to pick up Pitch's scent.
"This way," he said, passing the thick book to Jack. He cocked a brow, a small playful smirk on his lips. "Race ya?"
Jack rolled his eyes. "He's probably in the thrown room."
"Perhaps. Try to keep up." Bunny only half teased. He actually wanted to get to Pitch first and make sure there was no danger. He wasn't about to let Frostbite get tangled in some trap. Who's knows what Pitch might do now that Jack was back in his lair where it would be so easy to catch him and make him his prisoner once more. No matter how much Pitch might have cared for Jack the boy had still been a prisoner. Even if Pitch had returned to Kozmotis Pitchener he could not be trusted. Not with the world's children and certainly not with Jack.
"Is that a- whao!" Jack didn't have a chance to catch up, Bunny was gone. He hesitated a moment more before taking off toward the thrown room.
Bunny skipped passed the thrown room and followed his sense of smell and sensitive hearing toward the library. Seeing the Nightmare King's shock when he burst through the door nearly made Bunny laugh. Pitch dropped the book he had engrossed himself in and stood with a snarl.
"What are you doing here?" he snapped, shadows and nightmare sand gathering around him.
Bunny had his boomerangs out at once. "Seems ya and Ah have a problem, mate."
"Oh? And what would that be today?"
Ready to throw his weapons at any moment, Bunny circled him, keeping well away from the dangerous shadows. Pitch may be weaker but still dangerous. Nonetheless, Bunny looked him over, searching every inch of him. His once grey skin had a slightly more human hue, amber eyes a vibrant gold, even his clothing seemed more satin than shadow, as if the fearlings didn't have quite as strong a hold on him any more.
"Kozmotis," he said almost gently.
Pitch snarled. "Don't call me that!" Shadows whipped out toward him but never connected. Pitch's lips formed a straight line. "What do you want, Aster? Is it enough that I'm powerless?"
"Why have you been haunting Jack?"
Pitch snarled once more and turned away only to almost trip over said boy. Jack stared up at him with big crystal blue eyes, hugging the Book of Guardians to his chest. Seconds passed as they just stared at each other. Pitch's shoulders finally relaxed and he sighed.
"Jack..." he breathed, fighting with himself not to draw the child into his arms but inwardly happy to have him within arms reach.
Jack, true to the child's nature, dropped the book and threw his arms around Pitch, causing the older spirit to stagger back and catch him. He buried his face against Pitch's chest, his hands clinging to his rob and gave a little happy sob. Relunctantly, Pitch wrapped his arms around Jack's shoulders and held him close.
"You're going to be the death of me," Pitch muttered, blacing his cheek against Jack's snowy hair.
Bunnymund sighed, putting away his boomerangs. Well that answered that.
"What are you doing here?" Pitch asked Jack, Bunnymund all but forgotten. He glanced at the disgarded book at their feet. "Where did you get that?"
"Seems MiM has a sick sense of humor," Bunny said, scooping up the book. He placed a hand on Jack's back, silently encouraging the youth to distangle himself from the Boogeyman. Eventually, Jack did but he still held a beaming smile for Pitch.
"I will not become a Guardians," Pitch snapped in realization, turning away and storming to the other side of the room. He anger only grew. "I will not submit to some being who know's nothing of what I must do. Care's nothing for what I've suffered!" He whirled, staring at Jack. "He abadoned you for 300 years. How can so easily accept this? How can you ask this of me?"
Jack's eyes were wide and he took a step toward Pitch only to have him step further away. "Because the world needs you. It needs a healthy dose of fear." He hesitated. "I...I need you."
Golden eyes widened. "You have the Guardians."
"But I don't have my Da. Please, I know what you did was wrong but you fixed it. You saved everyone. Like in the Golden Age when you battled the Fearlings." There was a howl from the shadows and Jack moved a little closer to Bunny. Jack pushed on. "You don't have to be alone. I'm here. I' always going to be here. Please...we need you. I need you."
A heavy sigh filled the room. "Jack...you don't know what you ask."
"I'm asking for you to do what you do best," Jack gave a little shrug, glancing up at Bunny who rolled his eyes but nodded. "Give kids a nightmare now and then. A little fright every so often and...well protect them from the things that will hurt them."
Pitch snorted. "Sanderson will just interfer."
The Nightmare king's eyes hardened. "And what do I get in exchange?"
Bunny blinked and stared down at Jack. "What?"
Pitch only laughed. "Well then, how can I turn down that?" He waved his hand dismissively. "Oh very well, get on with it, Aster."
It took another second or two for Bunny to process what Pitch had just said and then almost a minute before he could find the right page, his fingers fumbling in his hast. "Alright...uhm..."
Jack laughed, pointing out the correct paragraph.
"Ah know where it is, ya bill," Bunny chastized, earning another laugh from Jack and an impatient sigh from Pitch. "Do you, Pitch, vow to watch over the children of the world? To guard with your life their hope, the wishes, and the dreams - eh nightmares? For they are all that we have, all that we are, and all that we will ever be." He raised a brow at Pitch.
Pitch gazed down at Jack's hopefully face. "Yes."
"Congradualations, Pitch, ye're now a Guardian. May Manny protect us all."
Jack threw his arms around Pitch in complete happiness. Pitch shook his head and just held his precious winter sprite. He knew the boy was going to be trouble, knew that he had changed him in some strange way. The last thing he ever expected was to gain a son and finally take to oath to be a Guardian. All because of Jack. All because of a lonely 300 and some year old child he could not abandon in the Antartic. He was getting soft. Strangely he didn't bother him half as much as it should. He gazed up at Bunny as he threw the book over his shoulder with a grumble and a frown.
"Oh stuff an egg in it, rabbit," he taunted, earning a glare from the Pooka.
Pitch laughed. Yes, things were certainly never going to be the same again.
Seriously, this is the end. I might do some one shorts, maybe a sequel in time. I hope everyone liked the wrap up, all ends were tied. Anyhow, please tell me what you think.