Feathers and Frost
A Rise of the Guardians Fanfiction by Poisonedrose 12
The 'Never' Rules
Jack felt the wind holding him up dissipate as his feet touched the cold surface on one of Tooth's seven majestic pillars that made up her dominion. He stood straight and watched as millions of tiny blue-green blurs flashed by in the last few red rays of the sunset, moving with purpose, teeth, and coins; their many wings giving off a pleasant, constant humming. He stilled in wonder; the last time he'd been here there had been no one but the Guardians and Pitch to fill in this immense palace. Now, charged full of hectic little mini-fairies, the gleaming gold and ornate architecture were quite an impressive site. Not wanting to interrupt the many busy bodies surrounding him, Jack hesitantly stepped forward, weight balanced on his front foot, and called out.
Immediately a dozen fairies swerved off their original course and made a beeline for him, chattering in excitement as they hovered near his face. Resisting the immediate urge to swat at them (they were not mosquitoes), Jack stepped back for personal space and greeted them with a warm smile. "Hey guys, do you know where Tooth is?"
Ignoring the one fairy that seemed to swoon at his smile (or more likely his teeth) he turned to three fairies that grinned with excitement and nodded a positive yes to his question. Calling on the wind to lift him, he followed Tooth's fairies to Tooth herself.
To his surprise, they led him not to a different part of Tooth's palace, but instead flew out toward a distant cityscape beginning to light up as Manny claimed the sky.
Jack flew, the wind rushing through his gleaming white hair and big, blue hoodie, a grin on his face as he enjoyed the sensation of being thrust through space with nothing for support but the air he breathed. The city grew bigger and more detailed as they swiftly passed the land below them – and then they were on top of it, its streetlights glinting off hummingbird feathers and ice particles. Sandy's golden sand began drifting down from above, the glowing particles weaving about before lingering at children's rooms and depositing sweet dreams for the night. Jack grinned, purposefully sticking his staff in the streams of dreams and watching the reaction of the glittering dust as it manifested into one fantasy or another. The group never let up speed, however, and he couldn't help but whoop and laugh out loud in glee at the tight twists and turns of streets and alleyways that the fairies led him through, adding his own acrobatic swings and somersaults in for good measure.
It was after one of his more dramatic front flips that Jack nearly ran into the fairies he was so stalwartly paying attention to. The wind, however, managed to push back on his built up velocity before he could cause harm, and then gently helped him hover in place outside a two-story open window covered by brick walls.
Jack leaned forward and looked inside. It was a child's room, of course. Walls were covered in finger paintings and crayon drawings; the floor littered with dolls and stuffed animals. A bed was directly across from the window, the back bed posts facing toward it, and Jack could see a small body breathe deeply underneath its purple bedspread, a sprinkle of the Sandman's work twisting and glowing above her head. What stood out most amongst the pinks, violets and gold, however, was Tooth's green and blue plumage, her wings a blur as Jack watched her flip a silver coin between her knuckles, place it under a unicorn pillow, and return with a tooth in its place. She smiled gently at the mess of brown hair visible above the covers, stuffed the tooth in a satchel on her shoulder, and then turned to leave –
She stopped, startled, as Jack waved and smiled at her through the open window.
"Jack!" She whispered, zipping to the window. "What are you doing here?"
"Hello to you, too."
He floated back, giving Tooth room to fly out the window and close it behind her. The fairies that had led Jack fluttered to their boss, squeaking in her ears and generally giving her what sounded like a warm greeting that she reciprocated.
She turned to face him, mouth in a happy grin and one hand flattening her ruffled head feathers, the motion not unlike pushing bangs behind one's ear. "Hi! I thought the weather here was supposed to be warm this time of year?"
Jack smiled back. "It is."
Jack directed the wind to push him backwards and up, and he landed on a phone line, balancing perfectly; his bare feet froze the line where they touched, and the ice slowly inched outwards on both sides. Tooth hovered up to meet him, her five fairies trialing after her and a calm curiosity evident on her face.
Jack shrugged, trying to look nonchalant; his arms held onto his staff, which hung horizontally across both shoulders, causing it to bob with the motion. "I came to help." He glanced down at the window she'd just exited, watching luminescent sand slowly trailing away from the window and back to the sky, its work done. "I mean, Pitch really took a toll on all of the Guardians, but you were the first targeted, the one to have to deal with the damage the longest, despite our best efforts to collect teeth in place of your fairies. I know Sandy helped the number of children which believe launch back up from their fall with his dreams, but there's still a lot left to do. And I'm a Guardian now, too, so I just . . ." He realized he was running into a ramble and gave her a sidelong, slightly anxious look, shoulders tight under his winding staff. "I just wanted to come see if there was any way I could help."
Tooth's eyes tightened, eyebrows pointing up and mouth opening in a soft 'O' shape as she gave a sigh, her face full of touched gratitude and hands clasped. "Oh, Jack. That's so sweet of you." Her fairies chittered in excited squeaks, the idea obviously pleasing to them.
Ignoring her fairies, Tooth gave Jack a tight, brief hug and then pulled back with her hands still on his shoulders, grinning; her amethyst eyes bright with the city lights and moon's reflection. "Of course you can help."
Jack smiled back, his worry seeming silly now, and bowed dramatically low before whirling up into the air, suspended by the wind. "What will you have me do, milady?"
"So do you enjoy being back in the field?"
The original three fairies that had arrived with Jack had left a while ago, and so it was just the two of them covering ground together. Much of the time was spent in silence, but almost as much was comfortable, drifting conversation.
Tooth smiled softly at a tuft of short, spiky, sandy hair under bed covers and nodded in response to his question. "If anything good came out of the disaster with Pitch, it was you getting your memories and me realizing just how much I missed these kids."
Jack (silently adding to her list the opportunity of seeing Bunny being reverted into an adorable little rabbit, despite the not-so-good conditions in which it occurred) opened the satchel he now carried and let her drop the pristine tooth inside one pouch. The other was filled with multiple currencies in coins and occasionally cash; by the end of the night the former should be full and the latter void. Jack clipped it safely shut, putting a slightly affronted look on. "Hey, what about me becoming a Guardian?"
"We've already discussed this," She grinned knowingly as she flew steadily past him towards the open window. "You've been a Guardian all along; you just didn't know it yet. Being chosen was really just a formality, albeit, a difficult one, since you were so stubborn and uncertain at first."
He shrugged and nodded, unable to deny it.
She flew out and Jack followed, not-so-carefully rubbing against the drifting stream of sand still inside, which then burst into a fire-breathing dragon that flew protectively outside the window. Upon taking this tooth-scavenger hunt, Jack had soon realized just how much Sandy and Tooth work together; he puts the kids in a deep and peaceful sleep and she soon follows, knowing that she won't disturb a soul as she works. They made a great duo, one that protected the children in their most vulnerable moments of unconsciousness. (Jack might have been jealous, except he was the Guardian of Fun, so he was much more concerned with the children when they were actively awake. Or at least, that's what he told himself.)
Tooth spoke, knocking Jack from his wondering thoughts. "Looks like we're done with this city. The next one's much bigger, so let's split up. You start at the south end and I'll start at the north, and we'll meet in the middle."
Jack glanced down from their high vantage point in the sky and grinned competitively. "Bet'cha I'll cover more ground than you."
Tooth just gave him a look, her whole body shifting from place to place in midair with her questioning gaze as she spoke. "Uh, Jack, you do realize I'm the Tooth Fairy, right? I've done this most of my life and you've done it all of one night . . ."
"I'll still win."
Tooth couldn't help it; either Jack's contagious spirit of fun was getting to her, or she'd really missed being in the field, but the blatant challenge sparked a flurry of excitement in her, her feathers shifting and her wings picking up speed in anticipation and adrenaline. She gave him a small, confidently knowing smile. "You'll lose."
He gave her a sideways, cocky smirk, his staff sent spinning midair and then caught expertly in one hand. "Bring it, Feathers."
Jack was still 8 blocks away from Center Street when Tooth showed up at the same house he was in, proudly declaring with a twirl in the air and puffed up feathers that she had already grabbed all the teeth on her half of the city and the rest on his.
He gaped, mouth open to voice something about his disbelief, thought better of it and clamped his jaw shut, face still open in surprise. It quickly shifted into a chuckle of slight incredulity and a smile of acceptance. "Ok, you got me. Never bet against a fairy."
Tooth raised an eyebrow, the edges of her lips following suit. "You can add that to the list of 'nevers,' right underneath 'never race a rabbit.'"
Jack laughed out loud at that, adding to her list with: "And 'never get on Sandy's bad side.'" They both laughed, remembering the gentle Sandman as he faced his exact opposite in battle filled with gold and black sand.
A hand ran through snowflake colored hair, and Jack grinned unapologetically. "I guess you four are already helping to put me in line, huh?"
Tooth gave a kind, playful smile as she fluttered forward, the next destination in mind. "Is that a bad thing?"
His hair ruffled with the wind as Jack followed, his smirk mischievous. "I think I can manage a few 'Never'-" his hands formed air quotations "—rules. Give me any more, however, and well . . . There's only so much a Spirit of Fun can handle before rebellion manifests into multiple marvelous pranks."
Tooth turned to face him, but continually kept moving in her original direction. "But North still hasn't taught you a 'Never' rule yet!"
"Yes he has."
"Well, he didn't say it to me specifically, but it was definitely spoken."
"Oh? And what is it?"
Jack's briefly thought back to Tooth's despair at her palace as she watched its empty remains crumple from Pitch's blow, the kidnapping of her fairies and the children's following unbelief bringing water to her eyes. North's immediate and vibrant reaction (as well as almost impaling Bunny with his sword) had impressed Jack, causing the Guardian's words to ring within his mind: "No! No! No such thing as too late!"
He gave a fond, nostalgic smile at the memory. "That it's never too late, so never give up."
Tooth stopped, and Jack almost ran right into her as she hovered in midair, her large, intent eyes focused on him. He hovered too, the wind moving about him like a swimmer treading water to stay afloat. His eyes were wide, startled with her sudden seriousness.
Her skirt-like feathers fluttered behind her, the next city's lights close enough to light her features from below while the moonbeams showered her from above, highlighting her honest and curious eyes. "And what did you almost give up on, Jack?"
Jack's eyebrows rose and his mouth opened, stunned, and then closed, uncertain. "I . . . I almost gave up on . . ." He pauses, glancing down at the city's lights as he mentally regains his footing, and remembers his plea to the Moon the night Bunny showed up and the kidnapped him and the whole adventure that brought Jack to the Guardians had begun. "I almost gave up on ever being believed in. On ever being seen and acknowledged. I almost gave up on my existence, why I was even here in the first place." He lifts his head to look her in the eyes, his expression open and honest and pleading for understanding. "I almost gave up on ever having companionship, on some form of recognition." His eyes are downcast again, his hand absent-mindedly rubbing up and down his staff. "I was pretty hopeless and lonely, after 300 years of feeling lost."
Tooth is still, uncertainty putting a stopper on any action or words she'd like to put forth. She wants to reach out and comfort, but doesn't know how to do so in an appropriate manner. She knows the Guardians could have befriended Jack years ago, any other lesser spirits could have (and probably did) as well, but she also knows that's not the root of his loneliness. After all, Jack had clearly had some interactions with Bunny beforehand; it was evident in the way they'd been 'introduced' with each other when Jack had been dragged to the North Pole (she presumes jokes and pranks and snow on Easter is the cause of the infamous familiarity). Jack had also had incidences with North's yetis when trying to break in to his workshop, and she also knows he's played with Sandy's dream sand and viewed her fairies at work upon his leisure.
No, Jack has had plenty of playful interactions with spirits throughout his 300 years, and so that's not the problem. The problem was always the kids, the people; those fragile mortals who he worked so hard for to be recognized, and yet continually walked right through him. For a spirit, and especially a Guardian, the people and children are always the ones who matter when it comes to being known and seen and believed in. Tooth knows all this. She knows that Jack becoming a Guardian changed some, but Jamie and his friends believing in Jack Frost changed everything he's ever worked for, and so she knows it's not her who he needed recognition or companionship from necessarily. He needs the kids.
But just because he doesn't need her as much as he needs children to believe in him, doesn't mean she isn't needed at all or can't help. Tooth hovers in midair, contemplating this, and then does what she usually does in times of distress between friends. She hugs him.
Jack freezes, caught in the unexpectedness of the action, and then slowly hugs her back with a chuckle. The comfort is welcome, and he knows he can't hold a cold exterior around the warmth that is Tooth.
Tooth gives one last squeeze and then pulls back, a solemn and kind smile on her face. "But children believe in you now, Jack. And you're a part of the Guardians. You're not alone."
He smiles a lopsided smile, the joy of this fact obviously twisting his insides with a happy disbelief. "I know. That's part of the reason I wanted to come help you tonight, as a thank you. Without you guys, and without my memories that you stored, I don't know if Jamie would ever have seen me." His eyes light up with a soft smile of gratitude. "So thank you, Tooth, for helping me find who I was and who I am, and thanks for helping me find my first believer."
She grins back. "And your family, Jack, who will continue to help you find more believers, you can't forget that."
His eyebrows squint in confusion.
Tooth laughs. "The Guardians! You can't really expect to become a Guardian and not be considered family. At the very least, we're all good friends."
Jack smiles, picturing them all in a family photo he'd seen people do every Christmas. "Best friends."
"Right," She nods confidently.
"So, my feathered best friend, speaking of believers, are we going to gather these teeth or what?"
Tooth jumps midair and gasps, startled to have gotten so sidetracked, and begins zooming towards the next town, Jack trailing after her with laughter and snow.
He was glad he listened to North's 'Never' rule. It was great to have a best friend among the Guardians.
A/N: Well, this gave me some difficulty. I think I started this just before the new year, and it's taken me this long to write almost 3,000 words? Jeez I'm slow.
Anyhow, I just really like the idea of Jack and Tooth being best friends (and maybe even more than that). I started this with the intention of it being multi-chaptered and probably containing lots of one-shots that over time show their growing friendship and relationship, but then I started writing and this became much more than I originally planned. I began thinking it was too long and too winded and needs to be cut down, but I couldn't bring myself to cut any parts out without it sounding off. So despite the fact that this chapter feels like it's starting off too slow, I'm sticking with it.
Plus, writing about Jack's 300 years alone sharpened my opinions on the matter. Everyone else seems to be saying the Guardians practically abandoned him by not befriending him in those 300 years, but in my mind that's how spirits are, and that it's actually the kids, the believers, who really matter. But coming to this conclusion means that Jack doesn't really need a friend among the Guardians as much as he needs believers, and that that's kind of anti-helpful to this story's whole plot of him needing a friend among the Guardians… I just hope I made it work in this chapter.
After all that worry I was finally like, "Screw this! I'm posting it anyhow and reviewers can help me sort it out!"
I guess I just want to know A) if there are unnecessary parts that need to be cut and B) if you like how I portrayed Jacks loneliness and needing a friendship through Tooth.
Thanks for reading!