This is sort of a continuation of Piece of Belief since I kind of left it as a cliffhanger. Now that Jack has followers he needs to adjust to his new powers, the fact that North and him have officially moved on to a father/son relationship and the dynamics that come with that - especially North's over protectiveness after Pitch kidnapping Jack. And Pitch, well he's not happy to lose his hold on Jack and will do anything possible to control the winter spirit's powers.
Before I start though I will apologize for and and all spelling and grammar mistakes. I'm used to working with an editor who catches whatever I miss - love that the girl and sorely miss her - but this isn't for work so I can't pester her. Sorry, will try to make as few mistakes as possible.
Normally at this time of year North was almost completely focused on Christmas. The biggest holiday of the year was only a day away and there was still so much to be done yet Father Christmas had his mind elsewhere. Namely young Jack Frost. Since finally getting Believers - albeit an extremely large number in a short time thanks to Pitch's twisted quest for power - and his abilities increasing at an alarming rate, North felt the need to keep a closer eye on the boy. He wasn't so much worried about Jack losing control of his new found power, he had proven e had a handle on things as soon as the number of Believers leveled out. Jack was shockingly powerful, maybe more so than any other Guardian simply because he was an Elemental and gifted with unique abilities before becoming a Guardian. What worried North was that Pitch might try something again and that this time Jack might not be so lucky. He was worried because no matter how much he asked Jack what had happened while he was Pitch's captive he wouldn't say or just claim not to remember because he was unconscious for the majority of it. But North knew, he knew Jack was lying because each time he asked there was that shiny piece of fear and small moisture of tears that the child would blink away before answering with a small dismissive shrug, as if everything was fine. If that wasn't bad enough the night terrors gave away the trauma he must have experienced in his short time with Pitch. There were no physical wounds - Pitch preferred psychological torture to physical, the wounds always lasted longer, but North knew the signs, remembered others before Jack who suffered at the Nightmare King's hands. The nights when Sandy was too far away to help, North would lay next to the trembling child, pull him in his arms and try to chase away the nightmares and coax him into a relaxing slumber. Even if Jack didn't want to talk about his problems North was there for him, he would protect his adoptive son.
It was hard letting Jack go to do his job and harder still not to demand he be home by a certain time, despite his youthful appearance Jack was over 300 years old and much of it was spent being on his own. Being given orders now, unless pertaining to the safety of children, wasn't going to cut it with the winter sprite. So while the boy was gone North had taken to pacing, finding it hard to focus on his job while the boy was gone. It was only when he was home, safe and sound, that he could focus on his work. More and more often Jack would be in his office watching him work, helping out or simply reading. More often than not, Jack drew in those quiet times and North would get distracted by his utter focus and creativity.
He was becoming a mess.
Was this what it felt like to be a parent? Sure he'd worried about Jack a lot the nearly six years since Jack had become a Guardian, more so the last five since Jack moved into Santoff Claussen but the last few months it was non stop. The fear of Pitch doing something was so strong he was almost tempted to take the sleigh and follow the boy, but that would be going too far and it would push Jack away from him more than anything. So he paced and looked up to the full moon, praying that Manny would give him some sort of advice, some hint of what he could do to protect his child. Of course the Man in the Moon only answered when he felt the time was right which obviously wasn't now. Nor was it when Jack had the power boost or was taken by Pitch. Some days North was sure MiM truly had no clue what was going on in the world unless it affected children. And, despite Jack being a child, he was immortal and apparently the small rules didn't apply to him. If they did Jack wouldn't have spent 300 years alone.
Frowning, North turned away from the moon and tried to focus on his work. "Needs more glitter," he said to a Yetis as he moved through the production floor. Almost everything was set, just a few hundred gifts left to wrap and they'd be set for the big day tomorrow. There was plenty of snow in the North Hemisphere thanks to Jack, perfect for landing the sleigh. The weather itself was supposed to be clear. Everything was going to be perfect. So why was he still worrying so much. Everything was fine. Jack was fine.
He leaned against a pillar, his head against his forearm. Some days he felt far to old for this.
"I'm back!" Jack sang, slipping through the skylight three floors above.
North gaze up, smiling as the small figure floated down to land on the Globe of Belief, obviously not seeing North. The older Guardian chuckled as he boy lay back, rolling onto his belly to gaze down at the hard working Yetis and scurrying elves, his eyes wide with wonder as a toy plane flew by. One thing Jack loved most about Santoff Claussen was North's workshop. It was every child's dreams to see where Santa made all his toys and Jack got to live there. He even got to test the toys - despite saying he was too old to play with them.
Jack lay on his belly, his chin resting on his hands as feet kicked the air, his staff laying next to him, looking every bit the child. "North?" he called, not seeing the older man on several floors beneath him.
North smiled, tempted to call the boy to him, but it was rare to see the child at ease and with such rare, fully relaxed smile. But when North blinked Jack was gone. Surprised, he looked around. Now where could he have-
"There you are!" Jack sang, hanging upside in the air in front of the Guardian of Wonder. "You'll be happy. There's a nice thick layer of snow everywhere. I might have to give it a touch up tomorrow night so the kids can have a snowball fight after they open they're presents but that won't take long." He flipped around to land on the bannister and sat down. "Jamie and the kids say high. You won't believe how big Sophie is now and Jamie and the twins...they're taller than me!"
"That is what happens when children grow," North explained, placing a large hand on Jack's slim shoulder. "They can not stay small forever." Like you, he wanted to say but kept it to himself.
"Maybe if I take one of swords to their knees," Jack joked but there was a sudden sadness to his crystal blue eyes and he shuffled his when he stood and slowly swung his staff at his side, freezing an elf as it hurried by. "You know, just to keep them shorter than me."
"Ah, but soon they will be adults, height won't stop that."
A small sigh and tug at the small leather bracer around his right wrist before he shrugged. "I suppose."
North gave one of his belly laughs as he draped a large arm around his shoulders, secretly happy to have the boy home, and steered them to his office for hot cocoa and cookies. Perhaps now he would get some work done. It was late and North knew that Jack most likely hadn't eaten dinner yet...probably not lunch either, knowing the boy's eating habits, so he had dinner brought to the office. There was only the two of them, there was no reason the eat in the dining room.
While North looked over the planned route for tomorrows deliveries Jack buried himself in a book, sitting at his favourite window seat with his staff propped up next to him. Why he still insisted on bringing it everywhere with him, North was unsure. It still helped conduct Jack's magic but was no longer needed, not with the amount of Believers Jack had. North chalk it up to separation anxiety. After all, the staff had been a part of Jack for over 300 years. It would be like North giving up his sabers. Something that was never going to happen.
Jack must have felt his gaze on him. He looked up from his book, a questioning brow raised. "What's up?"
Glancing at the large map on his desk then back at Jack he smiled and fetched their mugs of cocoa, Jack's cold of course, and sauntered over to the youth and took the arm chair next to it. "I was wondering if you'd be interested in helping me delivery presents tomorrow? You could spread your snow at same time, no?"
The boy's face lit up. "Yeah, of course."
North smiled. One less worry. He could keep an eye on Jack while they both did their duties and the child would be none the wiser and maybe North would finally feel better about letting him out of his sight. Besides what was better than bring wonder and joy to children for a father/son activity?