I loved Rise of the Guardians, so here's this (soon to be giant) fic in its honour.
Just a note, the chapter names are taken from Cirque du Soleil, it's surprising just how well some of them fit.
Disclaimer: I don't own Rise of the Guardians, though I will own a copy of the DVD when it comes out.
Quidam (Latin) : The nameless passerby
Chapter 1 – Quidam
Sparkling frost flashed from the tip of Jack's staff, freezing the garden pond into a solid slab of ice as he soared overhead on a strong West wind. He laughed loudly, smirking as he froze windows and water fountains, coating roadsides and washing lines in ice. Snow danced in his wake, a blanket of the white powder already falling in the town and surrounding region.
Jack didn't know what the town was called, nor had any real desire to find out. All that mattered were the wonderful snow days and relentless blizzards which would dump even more snow on the ground, painting the world a beautiful, pure white.
After almost 300 years of being alone, was it any wonder why he'd stopped caring about the desires of others? Especially when they certainly didn't care about his wants and needs. The moon, he who drew Jack into this world, didn't seem to care enough to even tell him the answer to why he was needed in the world, and the people in the town couldn't see him, let alone touch him or hold a conversation with him, though sometimes it was nice to pretend.
His first and best friend was a large grey wolf, the alpha of his pack and the overall 'top dog' in his part of the forest. They had met over 150 years prior, when Jack had saved him from drowning after the river had swollen and swept him downstream. The alpha had immediately adopted him into the pack, sharing kills, shelter and company, the wolves becoming the family that Jack craved more than anything else, succeeding where humans failed. He'd protected the pack ever since, watching each new alpha take power and old ones pass on. The current alpha, who Jack called Regulus, was still new to his position as pack leader, relying on Jack to help guide the wolves through the winter, and the spirit was only too happy to help his family survive.
Jack bent over in the wind, swooping downward to land on a rock-crested hill on his hands and the balls of his feet, his wolf-fur cloak flaring out behind him. He lifted his head to the sky and released a howl, a greeting to his pack mates, a cry calling 'I'm here! I'm here!' to the ones who cared for him the most.
It wasn't long before the wolves materialised around him, pouncing on him and touching their noses to any part of his body within their reach. Jack rolled onto his side to bat playfully at Regulus' nose. He snorted and shook his shaggy head, the black fur between his ears becoming speckled with frost from the winter spirit's hands.
The pack settled around him after tiring themselves out, Regulus resting his head on Jack's knee and his mate lying by his side. The pack lifted their heads in unison, calling a howl to celebrate their beta and pack brother returning to them safely. Jack smiled, lifting his head to join in the howl.
Bunnymund shuddered at the touch of frozen water on his feet, the tips of his fur becoming damp from the cold substance. Why did it have to be him that went to find the frost-brat? He hated the cold, despised it even! He was a pooka, not a snow-hare, he was not adapted for such cold climates. North would be far better suited to the task than he, comfortable as the man was in the cold of the North Pole.
Bunny shook his head, glancing at his yeti escort as he lifted his head into the wind, ears laid back and nose twitching for the other spirit's scent. He shuddered at the reverberating howls of a wolf pack, not very far away at all judging by the volume of the noise.
"Best be quick." He said, nodding to himself as he darted into the woods, casting frantically for a scent of the winter sprite. The yetis trooped after him, grunting to each other in their own guttural language.
Bunny stopped at the edge of a lake, the whole area thick with the smell of the sprite mixed with that of a pack of wolves. The pooka's ears went back, his hatred for the canines coming to the surface. He leaned against a tree, his nose twitching as Frost's scent came through again. It was stronger, as if the spirit was in the clearing with him...
Bunny jumped aside as a blast of cold crashed into the spot where he had been standing moments ago, sheets of ice creeping up the tree trunk with a forbidding crack. The pooka glanced around trying to figure out where the blast had come from, only to be interrupted by another icy blast.
A furious cry echoed around the clearing, a mixture between a wolf's howl, a mountain cat's roar and a human scream. A wooden staff came flying at his head, missing his ears by centimetres as Jack dropped down from the trees, his furry cloak flaring around his slight body.
"Oh, Bunny. It's you." Jack relaxed out of his battle stance, standing with his head resting against his staff. "What're you doing here? I was under the impression that you didn't like me. What prompted this little visit? You're not still mad about '68, are you?"
"Yes, and I'll get ya back for that one day, mark my words." He thrust his boomerang forward threateningly. "But lucky for ya, I'm not here for revenge, this is about something else. Fellas."
Bunny watched impassively as North's yetis grabbed Jack's arms and hefted him off the ground. The winter sprite snarled in surprise, releasing several loud barks as he struggled in the furry giants' arms. Bunnymund's ears went back at the sound of growls reverberating around, the bushes rustling as a large pack of wolves materialised around them.
Jack barked again, eyes flashing savagely as the yetis tried to push him towards an open sack. The big male of the pack snarled, his long teeth bared as he and four other wolves leapt at the yetis, forcing them to drop Jack in order to protect themselves.
"Regulus," Jack called, summoning the wind to pull him away from the yetis. He yipped a quick order - most likely an order to retreat - before trying to escape himself.
He wasn't fast enough.
Bunny leapt into the air, snatching Jack as he tried to fly past and stuffed him into the fire-truck red sack. The white haired boy struggled wildly, a lupine howl echoing from the bag as the yetis tied it tight.
"Let me out!" Jack screamed, thrashing frantically. "Let me out let me out LET ME OUT!"
"No can do, mate." Bunny nodded to the yetis, watching as one pulled out a snow globe and smashed it, opening a portal to the North Pole. It rumbled at the rabbit, gesturing to the portal with a large clawed hand.
"Me? Hehehe, not on your nelly." He waved his paw dismissively. "See ya back at the Pole." He tapped the snow-covered ground, opening a hole to his extensive tunnel system. He leapt down into the warm darkness, just seeing the yetis toss Jack through the portal and several wolves leap at the yetis before the tunnel closed behind him.
Jack struggled violently, forcing his way out of the bag once it had hit the ground. His head poked out of the opening, glancing left and right and barking for his pack.
He was in a room that he didn't recognise, lying on a plush red and gold rug in front of a blazing fireplace. A few paces away from where he lay was a large man, dressed in red and black with white hair and a long beard. Just off to the side hovered a colourful fairy, shooting orders at a swarm of mini fairies flitting beside her. A little golden man snoozed in a corner, completely dead to the world.
The wolves were nowhere to be seen. Jack couldn't help the relieved sigh. At least the pack was safe.
"There he is, Jack Frost!" The big man boomed, striding towards him as Jack worked his way out of the sack.
"Oh Fenrir, you wouldn't believe this..." Jack murmured, finally recognising the big man as Nicholas St North, Santa Claus himself. That must mean that he was at the North Pole.
"I hope the yetis treated you well." North continued, watching with a wide grin as a roughed up yeti tried to grab the snow sprite, only for the boy to nimbly pounce out of reach, his staff held ready in case of danger.
"Oh yeah," Jack drawled sarcastically. "I just love being shoved in a sack and tossed through a magic portal."
"Really? Good! That was my idea! You know Bunny obviously."
"Obviously." Jack sneered. He gave a wolffish bark, making the rabbit flinch, and bared his teeth in a feral grin.
"And the Tooth Fairy." The fairy was suddenly up in his face, her violet eyes appearing very big so close to the winter sprite.
"Hello Jack! I've heard so much about you, and your teeth!" She gushed, a half dozen mini fairies buzzing around his face.
"M... My wha-" Jack couldn't even finish his sentence before fingers were in his mouth, a demanding "let me see!" all the warning he got.
"Oh..." The moan she released could almost be considered orgasmic, making Jack feel very nervous. "They really do sparkle like freshly fallen snow!"
The fairies squeaked happily, their little hands clasped under their chins and besotted expressions in their faces, flying around him like excited hummingbirds. Jack smiled. The little ones were cute, he'd let them have their fun. Their 5" something boss was the one he inched away from.
"And the Sandman," North tapped the little golden man. "Sandy? Sandy? Wake up!" Jack smiled sympathetically as the man jolted awake, waving his hand in a tired greeting before he slumped again.
Jack waved his staff to get their attention. "So, anyone wanna tell me why I'm here?"
Sandy's hand immediately came up, little images made of sand appearing above his head. A moon, a snowflake, a strange looking human torso, a swirl similar to a tribal air symbol, a weird stumpy thing, and suddenly they were movingly too fast for Jack to keep up with.
"Um... Yeah that's not really helping, but thanks for trying, little man." Jack stood and walked away, tapping his staff on an elf's pointy hat to freeze the annoying little thing. "So was it something I did that brought you four together? Some prank gone wrong that I can't remember or something? Am I on the Naughty list?"
"On Naughty list? You hold the record." Jack smirked. "But no matter, we overlook. Now we are wiping clean the slate."
Jack could physically see their desire for him to ask. "How come?" He sighed and rolled his eyes, hugging his cloak closer to his body. 'This'd better be good.'
"How come?" North's voice almost shook with glee. "I tell you how come. Because now, you are Guardian!"
It was as if some kind of signal had been sent to the various creatures around the workshop. One minute there was silence, the next a full blown fan fair complete with brass music and flaming torches. Jack scowled, his eyes narrowed dangerously. The noises and growing crowd was starting to set off the instincts he'd developed with the wolves and he wanted nothing more than to escape the noise and heat.
Jack snarled, baring large canine teeth as he lifted his staff above his head, bringing it down with a resounding crash and the sizzle of forming ice. The elves went flying back, the yetis skidding along behind them.
Silence reigned again.
"Are you for real?" Jack's glare could have frozen molten lava. "You ignore me for 300 years, and then suddenly decide to make me a Guardian? You're out of your minds! What the hell possessed you to think that I'd want to be one of you?"
The four stared at him, as if trying to figure out if what just occurred actually happened. Then there was booming laughter. North was bent over himself laughing, clutching some sort of book to his chest. Jack's glare darkened. The other three just glanced between the two, Tooth backing away a little, Bunny with a confused look on his face and Sandy with a little question mark floating above his head.
"Of course you want to be one of us." North said after calming down. "Music!"
"No music!" Jack snarled quickly, freezing a trumpet-baring elf that came too close and knocked it into the crowd with his staff.
"This is all very flattering, and I mean that in the broadest sense of the word, but let's get this straight. You don't want me. You're all about work and time limits and bringing joy to children. That's all well and good, but I'm not like that. I don't follow deadlines; I don't go out of my way to bring joy to children. I do things when I want to, not need to. I'm a winter spirit, not a toy giver. I'm not a Guardian."
"That's exactly what I said!" Bunny piped up from his place by the fire.
"Jack." Tooth fluttered to the sprite's side, gesturing for him to look at the giant globe rotating behind him. "I don't think you understand what it is we do." She swept her hand at the glowing lights dotting the globe. "Each of those lights is a child-"
"A child who believes." North put in, his voice suddenly serious. Jack growled furiously. "And good or bad, naughty or nice, we protect them. Now no more wishy washy, Pitch is out there doing who knows what! We need to stop him before he harms children."
"How dare you?" North turned around, confused as to the anger in the smaller spirit. Jack stood with his head down, eyes hidden by his hair and shoulders shaking with rage. "How dare you!" His head was lifted, revealing eyes burning with ice fire. "You drag me here, expecting me to be compliant to your wishes and just do as you say, become a Guardian. And then you tell me this! Children who believe?! Protect them from Pitch?! Easy for you to say, you have believers; have a reason to protect them! Why should I help you 'protect' them? They don't help me, they don't even see me! My only 'believers' are a pack of wolves for Fenrir's sake! And as much as I may love them, they hardly appreciate my work like humans can." He panted hard, eyes still flashing with rage.
"You think we decide?" North interrupted, still infuriatingly calm. "No, you were chosen, just like the rest of us were, by Man in Moon."
Jack stiffened. "What?"
"Last night, he chose you Jack." Tooth said gently, still unnerved by the younger spirit's anger.
"Maybe." Bunny muttered.
"The Man in the Moon, he talks to you?"
"You see? You cannot say no. It is destiny."
"But..." Jack walked slowly towards the window through which then moon was visible. "But why wouldn't he tell me that himself?" The sprite groaned, running a hand through his white hair. "So, after three hundred years, this is your answer, hm? To be like them for the rest of eternity? Hiding away from the world, spending the year thinking up new ways to bribe kids into believing? Oh no. That's not for me! And you are a fool to believe that I'd ever roll over and accept this like some sort of obedient dog. I'm no one's bitch, Moon man, least of all yours."
He turned back to the Guardians. "I'm sorry that you had to go to all this trouble, but you really are better off without me. I'm the beta of my pack, they need me and I have no real desire to help the children." He laughed sadly. "It's not like they'd ever even know that I'm there anyway. For all that the children enjoy my snow; for all that I play around with them; chances are they'll never believe in me. Not a single one has in 300 years. That's gotta count for something."
The Guardians shared a glance, their eyes darting from the moon to the world-weary, white-haired spirit.
"Jack." The boy looked up at the sound of North's voice. "Walk with me, please."