Sketchbook III

Warnings: Nope. Nada.

Rating: K

Genre: Hurt/Comfort/Angst

Character(s): Jack + Tooth + Sandy

Summary: Not once, in over four hundred years had the Sandman cried. But after witnessing the death of one so young... what are you supposed to do?

"I-I don't think I can watch anymore, Sandy..."

Sandy turned to the distraught fairy, glad to have an excuse to stop watching the scene laid out in front of him. It broke his heart and twisted it round and round; he didn't know how much more he could take.

He nodded his agreement as a numb kind of shock spread through his body, un-shed tears in the corners of his golden eyes. Not once, in over four hundred years, had he cried...

Over his head, he produced a wobbly image of a house, message clear; 'Let's go home.'

Numbly, Tooth nodded, grasping the tooth she had been holding even tighter, gathering up her will to get out of this memory.

When she opened her eyes again, she was on her knees on the floor of Tooth Palace, or (more specifically) the Tooth Storage Hall.

Like every other aspect of the palace, it was grand with high ceilings and golden support beams, with beautifully painted pictures spread around the hall like slowly blossoming flowers.

In the hall itself were piles upon piles of organized tooth boxes. The little golden containers were piled high, nearly brushing the ceiling, and they were all ordered alphabetically, thanks to the tedious work of the Mini Fairies.

But the glimmering piles of the metal canisters were unnoticed as Tooth stared at Rosie's tooth in her hand, an open tooth box nearby with Rosie's face printed on to it. Next to it was the sketchbook, still open on Jack's most recent drawing, just as the two Guardians had left it.

"Now I know why Manny chose him..." She said slowly, staring at the teeth in her hand like they were precious gems (which, of course, they were), "He cared so much."

Grimly, Sandy nodded, placing a small hand on her shoulder. He had already known that Jack cared, and he believed Tooth already had as well, but to see him risk and then give his life for his little sister... It was overwhelming at best.

The Sandman didn't know how long they sat there - usually he was good with time, considering his occupation, but... those memories had shook him to the very core. He didn't know how to react. His fingers were nu£b; it felt as though he were apart from his body, floating a sea of thoughts and sadness.

It was only when the sunlight, warm and welcoming, began to flood through the vaulted windows did he relinquish his hold on the fairys' shoulder. The light coaxed the Sandman out of his stupor, and suddenly, he remembered he needed to get the book back to Jack before he woke.

Gently, he nudged Tooth. She looked up at him blearily, her eyes red and bloodshot.

A picture formed above his head; a clock, ticking faster and faster. He leant down and picked up the tattered book, tapping it with his fingers before he made another picture. One of Jack laying down, eyes closed.

She raised a brow, here eyes widening slightly. "You took this without permission...?"

A little shamefully, the man nodded, his eyes roaming over the floor. Maybe he shouldn't have taken it at all; perhaps it was better if he hadn't seen anything...

Tooth could only give him an understanding look, as if to say 'I-know-why-you-did-it'. Unwillingly, she unfolded her gossamer wings and hovered upwards, placing Rosie's teeth in their correct place, before turning to Sandy with sad eyes.

"We'd better get it back to him before he wakes up then."

A fast flight later, the two were hovering down the halls of North's complex. Sandy could just about hear the yetis beginning to wake up and start their work on toys. North would probably already be awake, bossing them around in the workshop with his booming voice.

They didn't pay much attention to that fact, however, for the door to Jack's room suddenly came in to view as they turned a corner, the light blue hues of it seeming darker and darker as the pair walked toward it. The word 'foreboding', came to mind.

Tooth bit her lip as they landed just outside; a strange feeling crept around her stomach like an alley cat - something akin to guilt and a motherly need to comfort the boy mixed together like some absurd tornado. It made her feel ill.

Sharing one last guilty look with Sandy, her delicate fingers rested on the door handle, pushing it open as quietly as she could. The hinges sounded like gunshots in the silence.

She poked her head around, eyes squinting in to the dark.

"Umm, Sandy...? Was it like this when you left?"

The Sandman looked up in confusion, before he too peered in to the room.

What met his eyes was not the tidy room with a sleeping boy on the bed which he had left, but an absolute wreck instead. The covers were strewn across the bed; all the dresser's drawers were open or on the floor, their contents scattered across the ground. There were even patches of ice on some parts of the walls, and Sandy could tell just by their pattern that the winter spirit had not been happy when he had created them.

Jacks' pale form was nowhere to be seen; his staff too had disappeared from the room along with its wielder, proving the boy's disappearance.

Sandy's eyes widened as he flew urgently in to the room, pupils darting left and right. He spun to face Tooth and shook his head.

"Then this is probably very bad then...?"

He nodded, pictures poofing in to existence over his head. Jack, a magnifying glass and a bright warning sign. The fairy took a moment to register what those symbols meant, before nodding.

They were going on a Jack hunt.

Eventually, they found him. He was storming through (the otherwise empty) mail room. Paper was flying all around - mostly old letters from children who had long since grown up and stopped believing - creating a swarm of "Dear Santa"s to fly past Sandy and Tooth in a patchy blur.

Jack himself let out an irritated growl, dropping his staff and turning to punch the wall. As his knuckles hit the solid surface, all that could be heard was a faint crunching sound - the sound of breaking plaster. Tooth visibly flinched.

Jack rested against the wall for a moment, his fist still against the dent he had made, panting. After a moment, he seemed to notice there were other people in the room; he snapped around, the paper fluttering down to meet the ground once again. As his eyes landed on the two surprised Guardians, a look passed across his features - like a child who'd just been caught sneaking cookies out of the biscuit jar.

"Oh... Hey," he greeted weakly, waving as though he hadn't just put a hole in the wall. He seemed to catch sight of the mess, as he added, "I'll, uh, clean up. I promise."

But as Tooth stared at his face, the very same face she had seen mere hours before, drowning in icy cold water, Tooth found she couldn't contain herself. Ignoring the mess, she fluttered forwards, gripping him in a hug so tight that he couldn't breathe.

"Uhhh, Tooth?" He questioned, deeply confused, "I just wrecked an entire room and you're hugging me. I think that's sorta teaching me the wrong lesson here."

Tooth just smiled against his hoodie; he managed to be so happy and upbeat all the time, even with his memories hanging over him wherever he went. It was amazing, and she admired him even more because of it.

As Jack endured the rib-cracking hug, he gazed over the fairys' shoulder. His eyes found Sandy stood at the door, clutching what looked like a very familiar, very old, leather-bound book...

Without really knowing what he was doing, Jack shrugged off Tooth's hug and seemed to drift over to the Sandman like a ghost, his icy-blue eyes clouded with confusion.

"Sandy...?"

A guilty flicker of emotion flashed across the short mans' face, and he slowly lifted the book, dropping it in to Jack's' waiting hands.

"Jack-"

"Why do you... have this?" Jack interrupted the fairy, his voice curious, hurt even. Tooth nearly felt like crying as the sound of betrayal rippled through the room.

Cautiously, Sandy raised his hand in order to get the boys' attention, a series of images flashing above his head; Jack staring at a book as he sat on his bed - Sandy then taking the book and showing it to Tooth - Tooth then opening a very familiar looking box, before being surrounded by what looked like a golden tornado swirling out of the box and engulfing both Sandy and the fairy. The messages were clear enough:

'I took your sketchbook.'

'We looked at Rosies' memories.'

'We know how you died, Jack.'

And that lone bit of information made Jack feel extremely vulnerable. Like part of him had been exposed. He may have already told Tooth, but for them to see his death was a whole different matter. For him to even see his own death was disturbing, let alone other people.

As Sandy finished 'talking', a hefty silence fell over the room, each individual unsure of what to do next. Each person tried to not make eye contact with anyone else, for fear of being judged.

Unable to take it anymore, Jack began to walk out, his footsteps echoing through the air like thunder claps. But as his hand brushed the doorway, a voice stopped him dead in his tracks.

"You were a very good brother, you know."

The winter spirit turned to see Tooth, her thumbs twiddling as she looked at the ground. She hovered a little closer.

"She really loved you. So much." The fairy said, a faint smile playing across her lips at Jacks' surprised expression. Sandy looked between the two, smiling as he hovered out of their way.

"R-really?" The boy found his voice working of its own accord, as his eyes grew wide, his feet turning the rest of him away from the door.

"Of course!" Tooth said, now hovering close enough to put her hands on his shoulders and look him in the eyes, "She loved you with all her heart. You were her best friend. I could feel it - when in another persons' memories, empathy isn't uncommon. I experienced everything she felt towards you," she paused, smiling at the way Jacks' eyes were lit up, an eyebrow raised in silent question, "Love, admiration, and a need for closeness. You were her strength, Jack. For one person to be anothers' strength - now that really is rare. And you were hers, Jack. You were her strength."

But, rather than widening, the boys' smile faltered as he stared downwards, "But, if she relied on me so much, then what happened after I-"

"Jack," the fairy interjected, her tone taking on a stern edge, "I don't think you quite undertsand. You see," she took a breath, her voice becoming soft as her violet eyes locked with sharp blue, "Strength doesn't ever leave a person - not really. It can be changed, it can be morphed, it can be broken and healed, all in the same day - but it is never gone. I believe that Rosie kept her 'strength' with her for the rest of her life, knowing it was what you would've wanted. She held on to her memory of you, I'm sure of it."

Then, the boy said something neither Guardian had anticipated.

"Can... Can I see her? Memories, I mean..."

Tooth and Sandy shared a look, a small smile lighting up the small mans' face as he nodded. The fairy grinned, hookinh an arm around Jacks' own.

"I think you have a lot to catch up on, SweetTooth..."

Ehhhh, I really don't like how this chapter turned out -_- I may write a follow up at some point, but it's highly unlikely.

Anyways, I AM SO SORRY. This is the crappy update you've been waiting two months for (nice going Gurrbill X.x)

You see, I've been moving. To a flat. Six stair cases up. WITH ALL MY FURNITURE.

Yeaa... Hasn't been fun. Even if my muse hadn't conked out on me, I still wouldn't have been able to update (no internet for THREE WEEKS *cries*)

So yes, apologies. Gurrbill will go kick herself repeatedly for an hour now.

Thanks to:

Sheeijan

kyuubecky

MartialArtsDancer

Maddie

Shun-Kazami Girl

Don't touch my Seaweed Brain

RizReviewer

Eternal She-Wolf

Guest

Nanu Kitty

JustPlainOldMe

writer142

Cayran

E

SparklyWaffles

Lovepuppy316

QuillOwl

(I didn't do any replies because I wanted to publish this chapter A.S.A.P)