Mark of Snow
by K. Stonham
first released 15th January 2013
Jamie Bennett had a mark on his chest. It wasn't a scar; when he ran fingers over it, the white flesh was smooth, not raised. It might have been a birthmark, but he hadn't had it until he was ten. It was roughly hexagonal, and when he'd been young it had only been the size of a half-dollar.
It looked, if it was examined closely, like a snowflake.
He kind of thought he knew when he'd gotten it, though he hadn't felt anything special at the time. He remembered an immortal teenager touching him gently on the breastbone, right where the mark was, telling him that since the Guardians were in his heart, Jamie was sort of a Guardian too. The chill of Jack's touch had seeped through Jamie's thin pyjama top, but he hadn't thought anything about it that day.
He didn't think Jack knew what he'd done. Heck, he didn't even think Jack knew he'd done anything! And whenever Jamie saw him, they were having too much fun sledding and building forts and conducting snowball wars against Captain Cupcake and her Boondocks Brigade. Jamie never remembered to ask.
But he remembered - all his friends remembered - standing in front of the Guardians that night, defending them against what the Boogeyman was going to do.
And if Jamie could do that, he figured nothing else in life could be too hard.
So when, toward the end of sixth grade, he'd caught Moe and Terry intimidating Stacy Hollins, trying to extort her lunch money out of the littler girl, Jamie had stepped up to the plate.
And so had his friends.
There were nearly a dozen witnesses, and Moe and Terry getting two weeks' suspension had felt like a victory, well worth Jamie's bruises and the knocked-out bicuspid, one of the last of his baby teeth.
It was the tail end of May when Jamie tucked that tooth under his pillow, but when he woke up the next morning, his room was freezing. Under his pillow was a twenty-dollar bill, and a note in loopy florid handwriting that read,
Way to go! We're so proud of you. Have you considered reading up on Gandhi's non-violent protest methods?
Jamie had grinned, the soreness in his jaw totally worth it. He kept the note in his pocket all day, and showed it to his friends, sparking a round of secret smiles between them.
That afternoon, he realized that he'd totally missed finding Jack's present. To be fair, it was clear, and had been left on the windowsill instead of under his pillow. Jamie had picked it up. The three-inch snowflake looked like it was spun of the finest glass, but it held a chill in it that hinted otherwise.
His free hand touched his chest, where the snowflake mark was.
He'd begged some string and a thumbtack from his mom, and hung Jack's snowflake in his window, where it would catch the sunlight.
It wasn't until Jamie was seventeen and soaked from a snowball fight, that Jack found out about the mark. The winter sprite stood inside Jamie's room, tapping the hanging snowflake with his staff, making it spin and throw refracted light all over the walls while Jamie stripped down to his briefs, which were the only dry thing on him. He found clean jeans and got into those first, then sat bare-chested on his bed, stuffing his freezing feet into dry socks.
"Jamie," Jack said, and there was something odd in the Guardian's voice that made Jamie stop and look up. Jack was staring at his chest. "What's that?"
Blinking, Jamie looked down, and realized Jack was looking at the snowflake mark, which he honestly forgot about most of the time. "Um," he said, brilliantly. "I think you gave it to me when I was ten. Same day you became a Guardian."
Jack stepped forward, knelt before the bed. He reached out, but stopped shy of touching Jamie's bare skin. "I don't even..." He looked up, blue eyes meeting Jamie's. "It feels like a little part of me. But I don't know how it got on you."
"In me, I think," Jamie said. "It... feels cool in the summer, and warm in the winter. I've kept forgetting to tell you about it." He looked at the mark. "It used to be smaller," he offered. "Like, half the size."
"Really." Jack hesitated for a moment more, then pressed his palm against the mark.
Frost shot out across Jamie's chest and shoulders, halfway down his arms. Jamie gasped.
"Sorry!" Jack had pulled his hand away, and was looking up at Jamie, wide-eyed and apologetic.
"It's... okay, I think." The frost felt cool, but not uncomfortable. Jamie shrugged a shoulder, testing. The design moved without cracking. He brushed at it with a hand; the pattern neither melted nor came away.
"Jack." Jamie glared at the winter spirit. "If this doesn't come off and I can't go swimming this summer, or change in the locker rooms because of it, we are going to have words."
Jack looked half sheepish and half mischievous.
"No," Jamie warned.
This mischief faded away, though there was now a hint of worry in the back of Jack's eyes. "I don't know what it is, Jamie." Jack pushed to his feet. "This has never happened to me... because of me, I mean, before. I've never even heard of anything like this!"
Jamie shrugged and reached for a clean shirt, pulling it over his head. Hiding the frost that felt like a cool hug. "Well, it doesn't seem to have done me any harm yet."
"I guess not," Jack said, but his eyes were still troubled.