**I AM SO BEYOND SORRY I CAN'T BELIEVE IT TOOK ME SO LONG TO UPDATE! I hope you know I would never leave this story undone, but I just could not write, I still feel as though this chapter was not great, but I did work hard on it, because it had been so long. Sorry about this, I got really into Doctor Who and I could not stop myself. But I am back! I am in the JackRabbit feels again! I love you guys and even with my absence you all continued to support me and I got more supporters even during my break! You are the greatest people in the world! Thanks so much for everything! Just know I will always come back! I will never abandon you! NOW I will try to do weekly updates! I am in the right state of mind, and I think I can do it even working full-time this summer! You guys rock! 333 Hope that you enjoy this chapter and it doesn't disappoint. Stay beautiful!**
Jack had expected this, or something like it, but seeing his mother actually crying was more heartbreaking than he had originally thought. Honestly, he wasn't sure what kind of tears they were, happy? Sad? Regretful? Hopeful? Confused? Honestly she was probably feeling as many emotions about this as Jack had, and still was, when he had received his memories.
"Everyone?" Mr. Overland asked as if he was hearing a story about aliens. Jack looked at him, he couldn't really find it in himself to form words anymore, so he simply nodded and gulped, but while shooting his father an intense and knowing stare. His mother was still crying, only now Pippa had gone over to her and wrapped her arms around her, and stroked her back; however, it now look like Pippa was going to cry too.
Jack hated this. Yeah his family needed to know but he rarely saw his mother cry, only a few times in his life, but this was one of the worst. Maybe because he caused it.
Mr. Overland didn't stop staring at Jack, even when Jack looked away his father eyes never averted, and when Jack looked back into his father's watery blue eyes, matching his, he felt himself about to sob.
Next thing he knew his father had gotten up, and wrapped him into a tight embrace. Jack wrapped his own arms around tightly around his father, and both of them silently cried. Jack could tell his father was crying because he was slightly shaking and his breathing was unusual with the occasional soft moan. Jack found himself letting out gasps of air into his father's shoulder.
"Welcome back..." His father whispered in his ear, coming out groggy from his crying. Jack and his father tightened their hug. Jack couldn't stop shaking as tears escaped from his eyes.
Jack then felt another pair of arms wrap around him and his father and he looked, teary-eyed, to see his mother was still crying, but she had a smile on her face as she embraced her boys. Then Pippa joined in too, and not long after they were laughing and crying in a giant family hug. Jack was at the center of his family's affection, each of them surrounding him on every side like a warm and comforting blanket.
Jack was home. He was really home. He rembered growing up in this home, living here, eating here, laughing, crying, and playing Super-Duper with the whole family.
Jack could remember Super-Duper, his family's favorite game, every Saturday morning exactly at 11 it would start. Jack would be running around the house in his Batman socks, Pippa in Robin socks, and they would put towels around their necks and run around trying to rescue Princess Summer from the evil DR. WOW (Mom upside down, Pippa's idea) and her henchman EAGLE-MAN! (Dad is bald, there are bald eagles, Jack's idea). Stuffed animals were used and thrown as weapons, but of course the good guys would always win. They played this well until the accident, maybe they didn't play because of Jack's memories and maybe they play because they didn't have a princess.
"I'm glad to be back," Jack said, his voice slightly above a whisper. There was one final moment of a tight embrace before they released the hug. As they parted, each let out embarrassed laughs and wiped their cheeks from the remaining tears. Jack looked at all the red and puffy eyes his family had, assuming his probably looked very similar, and he couldn't help but smile.
Jack's mother took a deep breathe and let out a loud sigh. Then slapped her hands against her thighs awkwardly and said, "Soooo..." Trying think of what to say. Jack could see the millions of questions in his mother's brown eyes.
Jack gave his mother a smile, "How about you sit down and I'll-" then he stopped, his heart dropped as he turned around he let out a sigh of relief as he was met with deep green eyes.
Aster was here. He was still here. However, he had moved himself further away and looked a bit awkward and uncomfortable.
"Oops, sorry Kangaroo, didn't mean to leave you out," Jack went to hold his hand or kiss him, to confirm he was here and existed. Then the presence of his family sunk in, and he restrained himself.
Aster waved a hand and chuckled a bit, "No problem, mate, sorry I was in the way. 'Sides I am broken it's probably for the best."
"YOU WEREN'T IN THE WAY!" Mrs. Overland pretty much screamed at Aster, but almost as if she were trying to comfort him but also scold him for thinking that. "I AM SORRY YOU WEREN'T IN THE HUG! HERE ANOTHER HUG FOR YOU!" Mrs. Overland wrapped her arms around Aster, who winced in pain. Jack's mother must have noticed cause she loosened her grip,
"Me too!" said Pippa, jealousy and laughter mixed in. She went over and joined lightly hugging him as well. Mr. Overland too joined lightly wrapping his arms around the group as he laughed.
Aster looked unbelievably awkward in the middle, not able to move his arms to wrap around them, so he was stuck looking like a deer caught in the headlights, and he looked at Jack for help.
Jack smiled, amusement and joy in his features. Jack looked on at the hug, though because it was such a loose hug, since they didn't want to crush Aster in his brittle state, it seemed more like a huddle. Either way it was funny to see Aster squirm a bit.
When they broke the hug Aster gave a polite, but awkward smile and whispered "Thanks." which caused everyone to snicker a bit, Aster turned slightly red, but it was barely noticeable Jack thought he might have been the only one to notice.
However, as his family turned around and looked at Jack, the light-heartedness that was there was now gone from everyone's faces. Jack's heart beat rapidly once again cause he knew he could only push this off for so long, but he was so incredibly nervous. Step 1, tell them I have memories back. That was the hardest part, maybe?
The hardest part was talking about Summer, and he wasn't sure he could. He wasn't sure if they could, his family would have to relive Summer's death all over again, and he felt terrible. But it had to be done. It was inevitable. Right? Was it too late to turn around now?
"Frostbite?" A warm voice asked as a warm hand closed around his. Jack looked into Aster's eyes trying to convey all his jumbled up feelings. Aster gave him a supportive smile, while squeezing hand gently before letting it go. Jack looked away from Aster to see his family was seated, the previous light-hearted atmosphere replaced by an anxious and serious one.
"I, uh, I don't know where to start with this..."
Jack was stalling and everyone obviously knew it. Jack took a deep breathe and decided to rip the bandage of quickly.
"I visited Sunner today, well her grave, honestly this all happend not that long ago, within the hour, but I came directly here. Uh, am I make sense? Uh, basically, I got Aster from the hospital because he was released today and he went with me to visit Summer's grave. I, uh, oh yeah I remembered her. Saw the article of our crash in the newspaper."
Pippa gasped a little and cupped her hands around her mouth. Mrs. Overland placed a silent hand on her leg, then nodded for Jack to continue.
"I saw the article. Oh this is the short version by the way. It is, um, a really long story." Jack snuck a quick glance at Aster who gave him a half-smile. "I saw the article and Casey told me where the grave was..." His voice trailed off for a moment and he lowered his head. He wasn't. Entirely sure how to address what had triggered the rest of his memories it was embarrassing and maybe disrespectful?
Jack looked up at his family once more, then to Aster who was standing to his left. Jack reache out a hand and grabbed Aster's, a sense of determination shot through Jack, as he looked back at his family.
"He unlocked my memories...this...he is the Easter Bunny..."
Jack's family didn't need a further explanation, they knew what this meant to Jack, who this was to Jack, and he noticed the recognition in their eyes.
Their eyes darted from one to the other, no one saying anything obviously trying to decide where to go from here.
Mr. Overland spoke before anyone else, "I think you betterstart from the beginning..."
So Jack did.
Jack had finished telling them everything, well, almost everything, he had left out some more personal details about what happened between Jack and himself. Aster could say though, that as Jack talked and as he confessed thoughts and feelings that triggered emotions, he was excited to hear what Jack was feeling at that time.
It was funny to see the protective shine in Mrs. Overland's eye as Jack talked about Mr. Black giving him extra work. Aster thought that he might be getting a very strongly-worded message from her.
It also broke his heart when Jack mentioned how dark everything felt even for just the one day when they weren't speaking. This part did warrant him a quick glare from all three members of the family at the same time, but it was so quick Aster wasn't sure if it happened at all.
When Jack finished, he bowed his head, "I am sorry I didn't tell you before that I was getting memories back, I just didn't want to get anyone's hopes up. I didn't know what to expect and I honestly wasn't sure if they were real or hopeful memories..."
There was a bit of a strenuous silence, and the Overlands looked like they were going through all the information they had just been told, trying to make sense of it all.
"Don't apologize, son," Mr. Overland spoke up, "It is amazing! It is something that we need to celebrate!" He smiled, but even Aster could tell how forced it was.
Aster looked as Jack have his father a half-hearted smile. "Thanks dad, but I think we have something more important to do..." Aster hated that he couldn't just hold him, comfort him, and take this pain away from him.
"Summer, uh, what did I do during the funeral?"
Everyone on the couch looked at each other, panic evident.
Mrs. Overland stood up and grabbed Jack's shoulders and looked at him with determination. "You have to remember Jack, this was when you didn't have memories, you were still in the hospital! You cannot let yourself be haunted ok?"
Jack gave a small nod, but it was far from reassuring, as his expression saddened greatly.
"Look, like I said you were at the hospital. You were still coming in and out of consciousness, you were in there for a few weeks, you couldn't help it!"
Aster could see Jack fighting back his tears.
Jack started shaking slightly, Aster only noticed when he looked at Jack's hand.
Suddenly, without much warning Jack shocked everyone by falling to his knees and letting out a cry for mercy and regret. This was the second time Aster had seen that in one day, and it was no easier the second time, his heart shattered. He looked and sounded like he was being tortured.
"I-I'M SO SORRY! I'M SO SORRY I KIL-"
Aster did not register the pain from swiftly moving without caution to wrap his arms around Jack, until Jack clung to him. Even as the pain registered it was numb, because Jack was his main focus now.
"Don't ya dare." Aster wasn't sure if he was talking to Jack or to the ghost of Summer that haunted Jack. Jack had seemed fine, after Aster had stopped him the first time from blaming himself, but had Jack been lying? Was he secretly this entire time blaming himself, crushing himself? But maybe the thought, the question was buried in the back of his head, trying to dig its way out, to make reappearance, and this sort of emotional moment and information was enough to bring those thoughts and regrets to surface again.
Aster rocked Jack back and forth in his arms lightly, as the boy clung to him desperately.
"I did it, Aster," Jack whispered into his shoulder, when his sobs became less fierce, but was still shaking terribly. Aster really had never wished so hard for someone to not say his real name in his life. Jack separated though, and Aster saw the loss of light in his eyes, he looked like stone.
Jack stood in front of his family, whom Aster had forgotten about when he was holding onto Jack. Aster grabbed a crutch and managed to get himself up, but the pain he had been ignoring was now hitting him, but he refused to let it, he was trying to focus on Jack.
With his head down, and a barely audibly he said, "That day, the day of the accident I asked to get ice cream,"
"Jack that doesn't-" Pippa started but Jack held up a hand to silence her, which obviously hurt Pippa.
"I wanted to get ice cream so bad because…because…" Jack lifted his head and Aster thought he might have sent a look of regret to Aster. "Because he…the Easter Bunny was there."
Aster hadn't known this, but he tried not to let the shock show on his face. No one looked at Aster, no one wanted to look at Aster, and he didn't look at them, all eyes stayed on Jack. Fear started to rise in Aster.
"I wanted to see him…I hadn't seen him in so long, and he was…he is my happiness…he is the best thing to ever happen to me." There was a light chuckle, it was happy but it was also cold. This both lifted and broke Aster's heart.
"Both times we've met it had been so quick that I have placed him as my number one that I relied on him. I have always been selfish when it came to him, I put myself before everyone, and that is why Summer died. I am so sorry. I am so very sorry." His face was still stoic, but now tears were rolling down them once again.
"No. It was my fault." Aster had no idea why the words came out of his mouth. Everyone looked at him now, even Jack with his deadpan eyes showed a bit of a spark.
"I am the reason you went to get ice cream. I am the reason you begged her. If I hadn't been there, I hadn't been any part of your life…you wouldn't have driven to get ice cream. Summer wouldn't have driven you and she would be alive today. She would be standing in front of you instead of me." Aster said evenly, although in his head he was confusing himself. He didn't really mean it; it was just to spark a reaction from Jack, but for a bit he believed it. Then again maybe he needed to.
"No," Aster looked to see Jack reach a hand out to him, desperation and plea in his eyes, which was better than nothing at all. Jack grabbed onto his shirt, and looked like now he was going to cry for Aster.
"No…No please don't do that to yourself!" Jack pled. Aster felt terrible for doing this as he looked into Jack's eyes. "You didn't kill her…you didn't run the car into her…you didn't have control over anything!" There was a pause as Aster continued to stand there deadpan, and all that could be heard was the tick tock of a clock.
"You can't blame yourself for something like that! It is not your fau-" Jack stopped. He stepped back from Aster, and let go of his shirt, the realization in his eyes. Aster wasn't sure if Jack was mad at him or was just in shock.
There was little difference in his eyes, there was something there though. Then suddenly, Aster could see it, the flood of thoughts that hit Jack as he sorted through everything he had just said.
"I..I killed Summ…but…ugh!" Jack wasn't crying but he grunted in frustration, not entirely sure what to make out of his thoughts. He grabbed his hair, not tightly, but in obvious frustration. "No…no…but…" His hands slumped to his side.
"I….I couldn't control it," He sighed.
There was a moment where Aster could see as the tension, blame, and pain leave Jack's body, as his shoulders relaxed slightly. Everyone sat in silence, since no one knew exactly what to say, how to move forward from this moment. There was still obviou regret in Jack's eyes, but the blame was gone.
Then there was a small chuckle, and Jack looked into Aster's eyes, emotion and spark back in his own eyes,
"You are one crafty Kangaroo..." Jack smirked.
He smirked! Aster gave himself a mental high-five for his accomplishment.
Aster then gave a smirk of his own, "I have to be crafty dealing with a dill like you."
There was a pause, the tension, angst, and anxiety that had been in the air was gone, there was some peace settling in.
Suddenly, Pippa spoke up, "We should play Super Duper..."
Mrs. Overland clapped her hands together in excitement and started bouncing. Aster wondered if the last few minutes even happened with the way everyone now was bright and cheery once again. Aster smiled, he had no idea what that meant, but he thought it was cute that this little girl was offering suggestions, and bringing back the mood of 'happy family.' Maybe it was obvious, or maybe Aster was just reading into it, but Pippa did a great job of creating the peace.
"What is Super Duper?" Aster asked Pippa.
"Me and Jack are superheros who try to rescue the Princess from Dr. WOW and Eagle man, and we use stuffed animals as weapons," Pippa explained with intense spirit.
"We need a Princess though," said Mr. Overland.
Then all of them looked at Aster, who wanted to protest, and opened his mouth to do so.
"BUNNY WOULD BE PERFECT!" Mrs. Overlans exclaimed and Aster wondered when she had started calling him Bunny, but he didn't say anything on that topic.
"Wha, but I-"
"Think about it Kangaroo, you are damaged, you wouldn't be able to do much, and being the princess would be perfect," Jack explained. Aster saw the mischief in his eyes, the excitement of seeing Aster as a princess, but he mostly noticed how Jack was smiling a genuine smile, that he was happy.
With a sigh Aster agreed, "Alright call me Princess Bunny." Everyone laughed. Jack's smile widened, and Aster wondered, when had he told himself he would do anything if it would make Jack smile?
Pippa and Jack got the stuffed animals, their towels, their socks, and Aster's princess hat.
It was something from a medieval fairy tale, with a pink cone shape and a long piece of purple lace flowing from the top.
"We've got your Princess now! You cannot defeat us!" said Mr. Overland.
Aster got caught up in the fun, as stuffed toys flew around, as pillows were used build forts, and everyone shouted different insults or remarks at one another. Aster got so caught up he couldn't stop from acting like a Princess.
"Oh, rescue me my dear heroes!"
"Crap. Summer you're going to die."
Those words invaded my mind, beyond the song, as I looked onto Jack's panicked expression. Everything slowed for a moment, and I looked as Jack tried to lift a hand. It was probably happening so fast, but I couldn't tell, these last moments as I smiled at my younger brother I cursed whoever was responsible for the pain that this was sure to bring my brother.
This wasn't fair, I wasn't going to get to see my brother and sister grow up. I won't be at their weddings or school graduations. I am going to miss out on their lives. This isn't fair I didn't do anything wrong, I've lived a good life, why would you do this to me. To my family. Maybe it was a selfish thing to say, but everyone deserves to be selfish once in a while right?
Looking at my little brother now I almost wish that he would forget me, forget all of this, so he could live a good life without any regret. I know him, he will blame himself. No, I don't want that he didn't do anything wrong.
I begged to someone, maybe to someone in the future or a higher power, as I looked into his eyes, the regret and fear already apparent in his vivid blue eyes.
"Please, let him know…"
I heard my voice reach out to him,
"It's not his fault."
I saw deep blue eyes studying me and looking back at me with such fervor, will, and regret.
Then everything went black.