A/N: That's it, I've officially fallen in love with this movie (to the point of screaming at my TV when Brave won the Golden Globe. Seriously, I want RotG to get the Globe and Brave could take the Oscar. RotG wasn't nominated for an Oscar! What the juice is wrong with the world) and everyone in the fandom. Ok, not a huge fan of any ships sailing away out there (next thing you know, we're gonna see Baby Elf…) but I do love the angst. It's freaking delicious.
Anyways, I've wanted to write a chapter fic for a long time. Ever since Jack stole my heart and never gave it back, I've had this need to absolutely whump him as bad as the Tennant fangirls whump the 10th Doctor. But every story (well-written or not and trust me, I've read too many to count) contain the same basic setup: Pitch returns, shit goes down, Jack is injured, the Guardians feel guilty, everyone's feels are shattered, Jamie somehow ends up in there, and then everyone's a big happy family again.
There's also a lot revolving around the fact that Jack tends to…kill people inadvertently through hypothermia. There's no good way to say it, is there? It's interesting and continuously being expanded on, but we can totally go farther!
Culminated from every Jack angst story out there, this idea consists of pretty much every aspect of a typical Jack angst. Hopefully, this turns out a smidgen different from the rest. Maybe…I'm not making promises.
Great, now I wrote way too much and I'm gonna have to make this first chapter really long. I'm sorry if I've insulted anyone/stolen anyone's idea. At the first sign of plagiarism, please tell me and I'll change/delete the story. If it does happen, know that it was not purposeful or done out of spite.
To any of you who read through this, I'm sorry this author's note is so long! Hope you guys enjoy the fic!
I've been around for a long time. I'm not going to lie; it's been lonely and unbearable. Sometimes, when I look back, I just have to wonder how I lived. Or, at least, how I thought I lived.
Now, I can see how empty that life was. It was cold and dark at every turn and I found myself asking why. Why did the Moon choose me? Why wouldn't he talk to me? Why couldn't anyone see me? Why was I alone? What did I do to deserve this?
Why am I sane?
The Moon was silent, still is. But I can find the answers now. There are words in the silence and, sometimes, all you have to do is listen. Just…be patient and listen.
…I think my patience is running out.
All the questions are returning and I can't stop them. Why now? What did I do to deserve this? Why, when I had everything I had ever longed for, ripped away from me so cruelly? Why can't Pitch just slink back into the shadows like the coward he is and just leave me alone?!
Why did I lose my family?
Why did I lose my center?
Why did I hurt my friends?
Why do I have to be Jack Frost?
A hooded figure stepped forward in silence.
Someone sighed and broad shoulders sagged under an invisible weight.
Hovering tall, another form continued their harsh glare. They were completely resolute, yet hurt and betrayal could easily be seen in the seemingly stony gaze.
A different set of eyes concealed all emotion. No accusations were made, but no solace could be found.
A large silhouette joined the group. His eyes, once grand blue orbs filled with wonder, were dull and so very saddened. The man hefted an ancient leather-bound book into his arms. His body rumbled as he cleared his throat of dryness and hesitance. With one last look at his comrades, he turned to the guilty. Distressed azure met dead cerulean and though it could be easily missed, a twinge of sympathy was passed from one to the other.
A curt nod came from the right.
No more stalling.
With a heavy heart, the formal procedure commenced.
"Jack Frost," a booming voice echoed, "You have broken your oath by taking the life of a child in cold blood." A hand tightened around rough wood and a pair of eyes clenched shut.
It was quiet and dark, never a good combination. Everything was dead silent. Nothing moved. His breath was as cold as ever.
The first sense to come back to him was touch. He could feel a sturdy floor beneath him. The material beneath his hand was too smooth to be soil, but too rigid to be glass. His brain quickly surmised that he was sitting on a wood floor. His bare feet suggested otherwise. Albeit being frosted over, the ground beneath his toes was soft and fuzzy. It was definitely a carpet and a familiar one at that. Out of all the things in the universe, why would a carpet be the most familiar to his frazzled mind?
That's when the pain truly hit.
He gasped and couldn't help but shutter against his body's protests. Everything hurt. His whole body simply ached and refused to comply with the movement he so desperately wanted to achieve. If he was hurt this badly, it meant one of two things. He was either in more trouble than he thought or someone else he cared about was being threatened. Neither option was appealing.
Still, in order to figure out where he was, he had to figure out what had happened. His eyelids were objecting to the command to open and felt as though they were weighed down by three ton weights. No sounds met his ears beyond his own frigid breath rushing to and from his lungs. Besides, the blood pounding through his eardrums prevented him from hearing anything beyond the functions of his body. Well, wasn't that useful?
Taste proved to be a dead end. His mouth just felt dry and no matter how many times he tried swallowing his own saliva, it obstinately remained desiccated. His head was throbbing with every beat of his heart. Despite the fact that his eyes were firmly clamped shut, dizziness and nausea swept over him. He mused sullenly that the two went hand in hand. Where there was one, you could find the other not too far behind.
Suddenly, the sharp odor of copper rushed through his nose. He recognized that smell as quickly as a certain Guardian recognized that a platter of his favorite sugar cookies were just around the corner. That familiar metallic scent was one he was far too acquainted with. Every encounter he'd had with a less than friendly spirit ended in this. Sometimes, a brisk spar with Bunny would lead to this. A bad run-in with a bear always left this in its wake. He could smell blood. Cold blood.
But the worst part…the blood wasn't his.
So he did the one thing that he could, acted upon the single thought overtaking his mind.
"You are hereby stripped of your title as a Guardian of Childhood and will be banished from every realm across the spirits' world." The eyes remained closed, ears taking in the sounds around him. The voice of a former friend reverberated through his mind. Bones in a hand popped as fists curled tighter than could be imagined. Shifting sand and fur shuffled against the wood floor. His harsh breathing was inaudible to all but him.
His fear was now a reality.
He couldn't care less.
He deserved it.
Fierce blue eyes flew open accompanied by a gasp. Whether the sharp intake of air was from shock or pain was debatable. The answer would never be found, for it wasn't important.
Horrified irises took in the peripheral scene. Furniture was overturned and ruined, pieces of fluffy stuffing and light bird feathers littering the floor. An upright brass lamp had fallen over, the bulb shattering on impact. Two smaller lamps shared the same fate, glass glittering menacingly from the hardwood floor. Only one stream of light entered the room. The artificial beam was provided by a streetlight behind his head. The false golden hue shone through the window, providing just enough brightness for the boy to observe the scene before him.
Without a second thought, pale hands pushed an equally pale body to its feet. The boy staggered slightly and stumbled, clutching a nearby coffee table to break his fall. Subconsciously, his left hand tightened around a long, crooked branch. He gasped, regaining his breath before dread pushed him onwards.
In the poor lighting, Jack surveyed the scene once more. A large green couch had been overturned, white fuzz popping out of its cushions' seams. Deep scratches marred the neatly polished cabinet to the left and the TV within it would no longer bring joy (or distraction) to the room. A chair in the corner had a bad fight with the wall, streaking grey against the previously white paint. His toes curled on the linen beneath him, a nervous habit developed through anxiety and decades within forests. If he tried, he could imagine the bright reds and yellows of a temperate forest. He could feel twigs and branches snap beneath his feet and leaves crunch at even the softest touch. He could hear his frost crackle behind him, providing a trail to his current location. He could envision the wind caressing his face, the constant through centuries of isolation, as loose leaves dropped from their perches above his head. He would catch one, marveling at how tough it had been through the year and how fragile it could be during the fall.
After his deliberations, he would remember that he had a job to do and begin spreading his frost. Grey clouds would gather above his head, indicating a light dusting of snow. No dark storm clouds would make an appearance. His clouds were more iridescent, allowing the impeded sun to spread its light but not its warmth. His clouds were bright with a dash of grey. Thunder clouds were dark and ominous.
Jack Frost was not dark and ominous. Jack Frost was not a grumpy old man. Jack Frost was not malicious blizzard waiting to strike a helpless community of humans trying desperately to stay warm.
No, Jack Frost was a benevolent spirit. Jack Frost was an animated young boy. Jack Frost was nothing more than a flurry drifting on a winter's breeze. Why people thought otherwise was beyond his comprehension.
Yet, as he gazed at the dark pool of scarlet staining the once pristine carpet, he was beginning to doubt the innocence he represented.
His previous distractions were flushed from his mind, musings overtaken by worry. He knew why everything seemed so familiar, why he subconsciously knew where he was upon regaining coherent thought. He tried to deny it, but he couldn't dispute cold hard facts.
The damp red spot, once obscured by a splintered tabletop, was enough to send Jack into a frenzy of emotions. Questions and answers flew through his mind faster than he could fly on the wind.
Where was he?
Why was he there?
Judging by the black sand sprinkled across the carpet, he was there because Pitch Black had been.
Why was Pitch there?
He most likely wanted revenge on Jamie for still believing in the Guardians during his golden hour. That was over two years ago. Jamie still believed. Pitch still held grudges. Put two and two together and you get four.
What was he doing there?
Jamie's his best friend, so he was obviously trying to protect him.
Whose blood was on the floor?
…It certainly wasn't his, for he left his own red smears beneath the window sill.
Oh, Man in the Moon, please let it be a nightmare…
"You will be erased from the memories of children and branded as a traitor for all to see." It was kind of ironic how all would see his brand except for those who mattered. He wasn't a danger to spirits. They could take care of themselves and defend their homes in case he came along. No, the children needed protection. From him.
They had always needed protection from him.
His breathing picked up as he hobbled over to the damp patch. Dropping to his knees, he caught sight of something he never wished to see. Turning his body away, he retched. He tried to focus on the burning pain flooding through his esophagus. He coughed and sputtered as he willed the acidic bile past his lips. Tooth wouldn't like this at all. It would ruin his perfect teeth.
Whirling his body around, Jack caught sight of bright teal, yellow, and blue plumage. Tooth was just unconscious. He breathed a sigh of relief, but it was short lived when he turned back to the other figure on the floor.
Jamie was deathly pale, rivaling Jack's skin tone. Short, panicked breaths escaped Jack's lips. His hands wavered uselessly in the air, as if trying to decide whether or not to hold the child close or keep away to prevent frostbite. Hopeful blue eyes were trained on the boy's small chest. He willed the boy to breathe and pushed down the mounting fear, letting hope flood his mind.
The body didn't move. It was then that Jack noticed the child's brown eyes.
The kid's eyes were open, staring into the void of a whitewashed wall. Gripping the boy's face, Jack probed the soulless russet irises for any sign of life. Instead, he saw a question.
"Why?" they seemed to ask.
"Why what?" Jack whispered, holding back tears. Eyes only questioned when the voice couldn't, when the voice was dead. The voice was dead when the movement died. The movement died with the heart. The heart was dead when you couldn't see the life behind the eyes, when the eyes were soulless.
"Why, indeed Jack." The boy's head snapped towards the shadows. There was no mistaking the smooth, callous voice calling to him from the corner of the room where no light touched. His hand tightened around the staff that never left his side.
"You will live out the remainder of your life in isolation with little to no contact with other spirits."
Isolation would hurt more the second time because he would know what he lost. Amnesia was a mercy compared to this. Maybe it wasn't too late to thank the Moon for it…or pray for MiM to take his memories again.
"Get out!" he shouted in anger. A powerful stream of frost shot towards the shadows, only to collide with the wall. Infuriated, Jack rose to his feet. "What are you doing here?" he growled.
"Well, that's no way to greet the person who tried to stop your heinous crime," Pitch spat back, materializing behind the teen. "I was going to explain what happened, but I guess you don't want to know." Jack turned to face him.
"What did you do Pitch?" His voice was bestial and his glare even more so. The Boogeyman took a startled step backwards.
"Why do you always assume it's something I've done?" he asked. "Do you believe yourself so high and mighty that you can just go around accusing other of your actions? I may not have the most righteous past, but it's nothing compared to what you've done today." Jack stiffened.
"…I don't know what you're talking about."
"I guess you hit your head harder than I thought," Pitch sighed. It was weird. The man looked slightly distraught and disgusted. "You don't remember?" Jack shook his head. "Well, I usually love being the bearer of bad news but I think I'll leave this one to sweet little Toothiana." Sarcasm was evident, but the disgust remained. "Just remember Jack: I would never physically hurt a child, let alone go as far as you have."
"What did you do?" Jack asked in horror. All anger drained from his mind and pure horror took its place. He didn't care if Pitch was having the feast of his life. All that mattered was what happened in the blank part of his brain where a memory should have been.
"No Jack," Pitch shook his head with a chuckle. "What have you done?"
And then it all came back.
"Have you, Jack Frost, anything to say for yourself?"
All attention was given to the lithe teenager. He remained silent.
There was an icicle and a lot of anger. He remembered a fight and Pitch and Jamie screaming at him. He remembered Tooth, flying through window and yelling at him. There was a nightmare and swirling black sand and falling…falling against the wall.
There was pain and suffering and screaming. There was blood and chaos and insanity. There was snow and cold and frost and death. There was fear and darkness and dread. There was no redemption.
"Jack," a soft, trembling voice spoke. "What did you do?"
He didn't have the courage to look Tooth in the eye. There was no writing this off as one of Pitch's cruel nightmares. No, this was reality.
When the Guardian of Memories remembered such a horrible incident, then it happened. No if, ands, or buts.
Jack Frost was no longer a Guardian.
"I'm sorry Jamie." Jack's broken voice couldn't fix his crime.
He killed a child. That child was Jamie.
He killed his best friend.
He wanted to be punished and it looked like this was the best way.
"Jack Frost, you are no longer the Guardian of Fun. The title and position can never be returned to you." Despite the complete lack of emotion in his voice, North's heart was shattering. As he grabbed the cool end of the twisted iron rod, he closed his eyes. He couldn't do it. He couldn't brand Jack.
He couldn't hurt the child he'd grown to love.
As if sensing his discomfort, a small hand landed on his shoulder. Looking up, North met Tooth's determined gaze. There was a fire behind her violet eyes that he'd never seen before. Out of all of the Guardians, Tooth hurt the most.
She turned the products of her hurt into a mask.
"Give it to me," she commanded softly. Instead of the friendly, bubbly Tooth Fairy, North saw the fearless leader of the fairy armies. She was a battle-hardened commander who had just been through the strain of combat. She would do what she believed was right and nobody would stand in her way.
Not even Jack Frost.
Taking the rod from North's hand, Tooth glided over to Jack. Although she was hit full-force with the boy's terrified blue eyes, she did not choke under the pressure. "Which hand is your dominant hand?" she asked quickly. Hesitantly, Jack held up his left. "Give me your right hand." A small mercy would be shown to the traitor once housed as their own. North was grateful.
Jack silently extended his hand. He deserved this, deserved the searing pain that was about to come. Without warning, the bright orange brand came down on his hand. He couldn't stop the scream that ripped out of his throat.
The burning was nothing like he could have ever imagined. His entire arm felt way too hot and way too cold. It wasn't natural. He didn't know when the metal was removed until frozen blood crackled against the pale skin of his hand. Morbid curiosity gripped his mind as he examined the burn.
The brand was a heptagon in reference to his previous hexagonal symbol. Intricately spread across it was different languages. His stomach dropped as he found letters he could read. It didn't take a genius to know that every other language clump translated to the same thing.
Every letter and symbol surrounded a central picture. Jack gagged once he realized what the image was.
There was a dead child forever branded upon his hand.
Tears trickled down his cheeks as his forehead met the grooved wood of his staff. How would he live with himself? What would happen to him?
Could spirits die?
"Now," North began, walking back into the Globe Room. When had he left? Jack noticed a scroll in his hand. "We will erase children's memories of you. Jack Frost will be nothing more than an expression to them." One Guardian couldn't take it anymore. Guilt was mounting in his mind and nothing could stop it. If he was going to say something, try to alleviate the situation for the young spirit, it had to be now.
"Wait a minute!" Every head turned towards Bunny's outburst. His paws were in the air in a halting expression, his green eyes scrunched in irritation and confusion. "I'd like to call upon the Unanimous Rule that someone," he glared at North, "created after the fiasco in 1876. If one Guardian disagrees with a ruling, then he or she may suggest another. I say we give Frostbite a choice. He can either leave now and deal with losing the kids farther away from here or stay and feel every unbearable moment of it. The larger the distance from the Pole, the less pain he feels." It was a test, one that Jack couldn't possibly decipher at the moment. His mind was too overwhelmed, shocked, and guilt-ridden to see the underlying meaning in anything.
"Very well, I agree with Bunny," North grumbled. Sandy gave a quick nod. Tooth sighed in defeat.
"Well Frostbite," he said as he put a large paw on the teen's shoulder. He couldn't help but notice when the younger spirit flinched under his touch. "The window's over there."
Jack looked at the Pooka and then to the circular window above the globe. If he left now, what good would it do? Nothing would prolong the inevitable. No amount of running would ease the mounting guilt. He realized that he deserved his fate. In fact, he was almost craving the pain now. He rubbed the newly created brand on his left hand. The burning agony from the heated metal didn't seem to hurt enough. He needed more. He hadn't been punished enough yet. The injuries from the fight with Pitch weren't severe enough and, damn it, he needed to be punished. Clenching his jaw, he clutched his staff and stood tall.
"I'm staying," was his simple reply. Despite the sadness welling up within Sandy's heart, he knew that Jack had passed Bunny's test. Maybe the Pooka had a valid point. Maybe…maybe everything wasn't as it seemed to be.
North shattered his musings. Parchment scroll in hand, the man cast the boy a final pitying glance. The boy responded by lowering his head, trying to make himself smaller in the other's eye. Another sigh escaped North's lips as he unrolled the list. Everybody faced the globe in apprehension.
Losing the first child hurt more than Jack could have ever imagined. Clutching his staff close, he stifled his screams into muffled whimpers. He could feel Cupcake forget his existence, feel her lose belief.
He could feel the abandonment and, after 300 years, it hurt. It hurt.
Another invisible hand ripped something out of his soul, out of his center. In that moment, Jack knew he could never be whole again. Even if some miracle proved him innocent, he would never be the same. A tear escaped from the corner of his eye.
His breath became short. He gasped, trying his best to remain standing. He could get through the pain. He'd been abandoned before.
But that abandonment had been conscious. This was forced.
It hurt even more.
He stopped listening by then. Everything burned. He was kneeling now, desperately trying to catch his breath. He could feel the eyes on his back. He barely registered Bunny's paw on his shoulder, the one form of comfort anyone had offered to him since his return to Santoff Clausen.
Even though only a handful of kids believed in him, losing every single one of them was pure agony. By the end of it, he felt light-headed and nauseous. The wounds he received while fighting Pitch were nothing compared to his damaged center. That's when it really hit him.
He was no longer a Guardian.
He had no friends.
He was alone again and, this time, it would stay that way.
Before anyone could stop him, Jack ripped himself away from Bunny's loose grip. The Pooka was startled and could only watch as the boy flew out the window. In a flurry of snow, he was gone. Bunny cursed himself for missed opportunities. He cursed himself for not rationalizing sooner.
"We should have waited," he growled under his breath. Sandy floated over to his comrade, agreement shining clear in his golden eyes. "He didn't need to experience that, not without us being absolutely sure." Tooth gave an indignant huff.
"Bunny, I'm sorry to burst your bubble, but this was the only thing we could do. To break the oath that severely is unheard of." She sighed. "It was the only thing we could do…" she repeated, as if trying to convince herself as well.
"But what if we're wrong?" He couldn't help but ask, not after what happened last time they doubted Jack.
"Do you not believe me?" Tooth asked with an incredulous giggle. "Do you not trust me?"
"Of course I trust you! But-"
"I was there!" she exclaimed, cutting off the startled spirit. "Bunny, I remember! I remember what happened! I couldn't believe it and I didn't want to believe it, but there's no arguing with facts! Jack stabbed Jamie!" Tooth exclaimed, tears forming in her eyes. "There's nothing more to it."
"Why?" Bunny challenged.
"...Because Jack lost control," Tooth replied with a sigh. "We all knew it was a miracle that Jack managed to get through three centuries alone with his mind somewhat intact. But last night, last night was awful. Pitch was there and tried to give Jamie a nightmare. Jack arrived not too long after that and the two started fighting. From what Baby Tooth told me, it escalated into an incredible display of power. But then, Pitch said some things...horrible things and Jack...Jack went crazy.
"I showed up when Jack was chasing down Pitch with an icicle in his hand. He kept shouting something about a lake and a belt. I didn't know what it meant, but I flew over and tried to get things under control. But...Jamie thought he could stop Jack. The boy didn't want his best friend to become a killer. He...Jack stabbed him without hesitation. Pitch was the one who knocked him out. He must have been scared because he threw some nightmare sand at me and fled. Next thing I know, I see Jack apologizing to Jamie..." She couldn't continue her recollection. "Jack's mentally unstable, more so than we originally thought. We're just doing what's best for the kids. If they can't interact with him, then they won't get hurt. The other elemental spirits will keep him from doing anything more than bringing winter."
"Toothiana, think about it," the Pooka whispered. "Does that really sound like him? We all know Frostbite gets mad, but would he really sink as low as to kill a kid?" Bunny's voice grew steadily louder. "He's dedicated his life to protecting children just like the rest of us! Do you think he'd just throw that all away?"
"Bunny, you didn't see him. He let himself lose control and he was insane. Not in the funny way, in the scary way. Nobody could talk sense into him. After so long in isolation, it's a wonder he could hold a civilized conversation with us! Jack is dangerous and history has supported that time and time again. You can't keep defending him!" Tooth shouted, unable to contain her anguish. She was scared and that led to anger which led to hatred towards Jack. That anger and hatred was now turned on Bunnymund. When the Pooka didn't give an immediate answer, she continued.
"He admitted it himself! He remembers what happened exactly the same way I do! Why are you convinced he's not guilty?"
"I'm not saying he's not guilty, I'm just saying that maybe we don't have all the information. Maybe we jumped to conclusions and put the poor kid through trauma he didn't need. Maybe we were wrong, just like Easter!"
Tooth fluttered around his head, exasperation written clearly over her face. "Why are you taking his side?" she shouted, voice booming across the Globe Room.
"Because as long as there's hope, I'm gonna stand by the kid!" Bunny shouted. His eyes wandered across blue, violet, and gold. With a sigh, green orbs drifted towards the window. Not a snowflake stirred. No blizzard was coming tonight.
Jack wasn't coming back to the North Pole.
A/N: Thanks for reading! Sorry, I can write accents as well as I fake them. Basically, I can't write accents for my life. :3 Also, I hope Tooth and Bunny's slight OOC-ness was explained. In my mind, after the Easter disaster, Bunny would be the one to not doubt Jack's intentions.