Summary: Four times Jack comforted the guardians and one time they comforted him.
Notes: I haven't read the books, at all, so any information you have not gotten from the movie are headcanons of mine. So the information isn't accurate at all, just me and my imagination filling the gaps.
Cold Comforts II
Nicholas St. North
It was really obvious to the Jack that North was strangely soft towards his elves.
He didn't know if it was because he found the little monsters cute or because they provided good entertainment (-elf bowling in Jack's case) for any weary soul that came through the doors of the workshop. Nonetheless, Jack loved the elves and were soft on them too (allowing them to nick some of his snacks now and then and freezing them for only a few minutes, rather than days, when they annoyed him) but not to the extent North was.
The old Santa often went out of his way to compliment each of them. Even when he was in a bad mood, he'd still say to the nearest elf in a grunt, "Very nice, keep up good work."
It often left the youngest guardian to wonder.
No offense to the tiny cretins but often they were more useless than not. Disrupting the yetis with work, causing power shortages (Kringle had 'accidentally' blown up the fuse forty-five times now), and licking at the cookies when no one was looking.
And even if North had decided to adopt them out of the kindness of his Russian heart, Jack still did not see why he went out of his way to compliment them. Did they have some sort of tragic, traumatic past he didn't know about?
Well, he had learned one thing in his short time as a guardian. When you don't understand anything, approach the most experienced guardians.
"The elves?" Tooth took the time to pause in her orders to give Jack a look. "You want to know about them?"
"Yeah, I mean, aren't you curious as to how North met them?" Jack said with a lopsided grin. The queen of fairies gave Jack a fond smile. This time, rather than looking at the pearly white molars of the boy, she was staring at the kind and curious face of the ice guardian.
"I'd like to help you Jack," She started. She hated to disappoint him, especially since he had been a big help in restoring her belief base. "But all I really know about the elves was that they were really good friends of North."
"Friends?" Jack contemplated, "So they've known each other for a long time? Did North save them from something?"
"I'm not sure…" Toothiana bit her lip, going through her own memories. They never really did talk about the elves much. Before Jack, whenever she and the other guardians met, it wasn't for small talks. Usually it involved saving the children or solving some world crisis or cementing their beliefs. And when they were done and finish with that, they would go back to their usual jobs, not talking for the next two to three decades.
It was strange, how much Jack had changed them.
"I'm really sorry Jack." The guardian of Memories immediately apologized when she saw the other's face fall in disappointment. "We never really talk about the elves much. The only time the others brought it up was whenever they were being a pest or stealing Sandy's eggnog." She confessed, "Maybe you'll have better luck asking Sandy or Bunny. Or better yet, why not ask North himself?"
"Ah," Jack's face turned hesitant and he stepped back, the frost spreading form underneath him. "I don't wanna seem nosy to the big guy, and I would have asked Sandy but he's been busier with his job lately." He toed at the nest consciously, "And Bunny- well," The winter spirit let out an uncomfortable laugh. "Technically I'll just be a bother."
"That's not true, Jack!" Tooth immediately insistedm surprising a few of her fairies. "I'm sure North wouldn't mind it if you asked him! Even Bunny!"
Blue eyes looked up startled as the sprite gave a hesitant smile, "You think so?"
The fairy flew closer, placing her hands on the other's shoulders, "I know so. Will you go and ask him now?" When she saw hesitation flash across that face, she added, "For me?"
A smile tugged at the pale face. Jack couldn't resist doing things for others. She tried to push back the thoughts that the only reason Jack was so eager to do things for them was because he was so eager to be accepted by them.
Her hold on his shoulder tightened a little bit.
"For you." He nodded, a smile lighting his face, "In fact I'll go and ask him now, if it'll make you happy."
"It will." Tooth said, nodding. "It'll make North happy too. You shouldn't hesitate in asking us if you're curious about something. We'll happily tell you everything you need to know."
The smile faltered a bit, "R-Really?"
"Yeah," And then because she thinks he needed a little reminding, she added, "We're a family Jack. You didn't forget that now, did you?"
The guardian of Fun felt like he was swallowing against something thick as he ducked his head, "N-No, I didn't forget. I'll- I'll go see North now. Thanks Tooth."
"No problem." She waved as the other flew off towards the North Pole, a strange feeling in his chest.
It almost seemed like happiness.
"Jack!" North greeted eagerly when the boy entered through the window. The Cossack had been humming to opera again as the elves brought him cookies. "Thank you little ones." He patted them on the heads as the elves jingled and ran out of the room giggling crazily.
Jack shook his head in amusement as he sat on the window ledge and leaned against his staff, "You know they licked that right?" He said when North was about to bite the cookies.
The old Santa paused, stunned before he put the cookie down, looking at Jack, bewildered, "You saw them lick it?"
"Yeah." Jack said thoughtfully, "Now that I think about it, they've always licked those cookies. You're always eating elf-salivated cookies." He pointed out.
The guardian of Wonder choked, "What? Jack! Why you not tell me before?"
"Ah, well we weren't close before." Jack said in a casual manner. "And besides, I thought you knew."
"Who in their right mind would willingly eat cookies licked by elves?" Santa huffed, although he said it a softer tone because of Jack's earlier statement.
"I don't know. I always thought you guys were an odd bunch." The winter spirit laughed and then he turned to look at the door where a few elves were peeking through. He flashed them a fond smile, "Honestly, why do you even tolerate them?" He asked jokingly.
At those words, North's expression dropped slightly, "They were-still are- good friends of mine. Brothers, you might even say. Brothers are always there for one another. No matter what happens."
"North?" Jack asked, wondering if he had crossed a line with his question.
The Cossack sighed, looking older and suddenly very weary as he turned grave blue eyes towards Jack. "You are curious as to why I keep elves, yes? Especially since all they do is cause trouble around workshop?"
The winter spirit nodded uncertainly but then he added, "It's fine if you don't want to tell me why though. I mean, I'm just curious- I-"
"They are my family." North said in a wistful voice, appearing not to have heard Jack at all, "Even before the guardians. They have been with me longer."
Jack nodded with confusion, hovering uncertainly. "Right." He bit his tongue to fight the urge to question the old Santa further.
Blue eyes snapped to the teen's face and North gave him a fatherly smile, "Believe it or not, they have not always looked like that." He gestured to the giggling elves on the other side of the door. "They had been companions to a brave pirate once, a long time ago. They laughed and cried together, they faced problems and rejoiced together…"
Jack remained silent as North turned to him, his face one of sadness as he remembered his past life.
"I owe them my life." The voice was choked now, lower as North blinked rapidly, eyes dimming. "They were my only family but because of one stupid mistake- so careless, so confident- I-"
The Cossack wasn't able to finish his sentence before he was met with an armful of Jack Frost, knocking him back on his chair with a huff of surprise.
"Jack?" The guardian of Wonder said in surprise as he placed a hand on the cool back.
"It's not your fault." Jack said fiercely, his thin arms tightening around the Santa. Blue eyes widened in surprise at the ice teen's words. "You shouldn't blame yourself because clearly the elves don't blame you. And even if they did, they'd be wrong."
"You don't even know what happened." North sighed tiredly.
"But I know what you're feeling." Jack insisted softly. North didn't see usually bright eyes dimming as they looked over North's shoulder wistfully, hundreds of years' worth of memories flowing in his mind. "Sometimes you hate yourself and you curse yourself, you feel like you're carrying this huge burden around and you just can't forgive yourself."
The guardian of Wonder listened to the cool voice with an underlying emotion he could not identify, his eyes were wide with surprise.
"But hating yourself won't change the past, it won't- it won't bring the people you love back. They're still here North and you do so much for those troublemakers," Jack laughed although there was a bitter tone in it. "They're lucky to have you and they know it. They don't blame you at all and blaming yourself, well, it's just a waste of energy basically."
At those words, Jack began to disentangle himself from the old man. The usual smile was on the guardian of Fun's face as he regarded Santa with a warm look of admiration, "You're a good guy North, give yourself some credit."
North blinked, the surprise melting away from his face as he cleared his throat, "I- Yes, thank you very much, Jack."
The youngest guardian gave him a mischievous grin, "Hey no problem!" He floated a few feet from the ground, "Anyway, I'm gonna go out there and pull a few pranks on the yetis with the elves help, would you mind?"
"As long as it does not disrupt production." North said seriously, trying to sound like a certain Easter guardian. This got a chuckle out of the guardian of Fun.
"Right!" Jack said brightly as he flew to leave, but then he hesitated by the door and turned to North, "And, uh, North?"
"If you, uh-" Jack took a deep breath smiling at the other, "It's not your fault okay? And if you need anyone to talk to, when the others are busy, I-"
"I will come to your first." North nodded seriously making Jack flush in embarrassment. But then the Cossack said in a softer and sincere tone, "Thank you again, Jack."
Blue eyes softened considerably, "You'd do the same for me." He shrugged before flying away.
North listened to the ruckus the other caused as he left, the elves rallying in his wake, and shook his head fondly.
Jack Frost was truly something else.
And if the next time the guardians held a meeting and they noticed Jack making beautiful sculptures for the elves, no one said anything.
Later, North would go to his office and find a fragile ice sculpture of him and the elves. The only telltale sign of the anonymous gift giver would be the frost on the window panes and the cool crisp air left behind by a mischievous snow spirit.
Jack knew something was amiss when he went to the next monthly guardian meeting and found no trace of a certain cotton tailed guardian.
"Hey, where's Bunny? Running late?" He asked the last question in disbelief since Easter guardian was known for always being on time- since it was proper guardian behavior and he often loved rubbing it in Jack's face that he was faster in getting to North's workshop than him.
"Ah," North exchanged looks with Sandy as Tooth's voice became hushed orders towards her mini fairies. "Bunny will not be able to make it to today's meeting."
Jack's eyebrows scrunched in concern, although he tried to keep his tone indifferent, "Why? Is the Kangaroo sick or something?"
"Oh, no, nothing like that." Tooth assured him, finally turning away from her work. The tiny fairies went on their way, knowing that they shouldn't disturb their mother anymore. "It's just- today is the fifteenth." She said as though that explained the other guardian's absence.
"I'm guessing that date's important, but for the life of me I can't understand why." The guardian of Fun said sarcastically.
Sandy motioned to his sand, forming a sand form of Bunny with his ears down and his back on them. Sand Bunny seemed to be grieving.
North nodded his head sympathetically, "What Sandy and Tooth are trying to tell you Jack, is that, today is the day when Bunny became the last Pooka."
"Oh." The winter spirit said, his hands tightening around his shepherd's staff. His face pinched in sadness, "I had no idea."
"It's okay sweet tooth, he just needs time to grieve. You'll be having your usual fights again before you know it." Tooth flew over and soothed him with a pat on the shoulder.
"So, he's at the Warren right now?" Sandy nodded in confirmation at Jack's question, "And he'll be okay tomorrow?"
"Ah," North looked uncomfortable, "It usually takes a week before he comes out of the Warren again. It's a pattern he has done for years." He glanced Jack's expression and said, "He grieves for a long time."
"Alone?" Jack asked and they all nodded, "He can't- I mean, haven't you tried-?" Comforting him? Talking to him? "-visiting him?" He finished lamely.
"We have, Jack." The guardian of memories assured, "But this is just one of those things that's best to be left alone. We've tried visiting him a few times before but-"
"He really prefers to be alone, mal'chik." North said seriously. "Even if you went there now, he'll just ignore you and in the end, it was better if he was left alone."
No one deserves to go through that alone. Jack wanted to say but he bit his tongue and just nodded in defeat, shoulders slumping.
One week later…
"Hey Sandy!" Jack waved at the sandman one cloudless night. The sandman smiled at the newest guardian and motioned for him to join him in his cloud of sand.
Jack happily obliged, allowing the wind to carry him to his friend's side. "Busy night?"
Sandy nodded, creating his usual sand figures to describe his night as Jack nodded with interest. Sandy's explanation dwindled as he focused on the dreams he was sending to the children below.
"Have you heard from Bunny?" Jack asked the little man who turned to him and shook his head. The winter sprite pursed his lips, "I thought North said it takes a week?"
Sandy nodded, raising his sand to explain that after a week, Bunny would emerge from the Warren to start travelling the world to look for new plants so as to stop thinking about his grieving. It wouldn't do, after all, if the guardian of Hope started becoming depressed since he was the Light of the children.
Jack bit his lower lip, "I've been all over the place but I haven't seen him. Do you think something's wrong with Cottontail?"
Golden eyes narrowed in worry as well and Sandy seemed to take that in consideration. He gave Jack an expression that seemed to say, But what can we do?
"We should go and check on him." Jack said in determination and Sandy slowly shook his head.
You heard what North said. Sandy weaved his sand, He'll just ignore us. We've tried but Bunny is Bunny, he'll just ignore you.
"Sounds like Cottontail." Jack acknowledged. "But even so, this 'vacation' of his is taking too long. I'll bring him out of it."
Sandy's expression seemed torn between dissuading and persuading. Seeing the stubborn look on the other's face, the guardian of Dreams just gave him a double thumbs up.
Nodding at the well wishes, Jack waved goodbye at Sandy before flying off towards the Warren. Sandy sighed as he gave the moon a fond smile.
If anyone could bring Bunny out of his depression, it would be Jack.
"Yoohoo! Cottontail, you here?" Jack called out, bringing the cold wind with him as he entered the colorful Warren of the guardian of Hope. No one answered him and the guardian of Fun's eyebrows furrowed as he flew about.
The newest guardian flew around the Warren weaving through the oldest of trees and mountains before spotting a place that stood out in the colorful parts of the Easter Bunny's lair.
It was an endless field of white flowers. The variations of white lilies, white chrysanthemums, white poppies, and other flowers Jack could not name, invaded the grassy field. They weren't arranged in any order, rather they were clustered and mixed together.
Jack may not know what flowers some were but from what he can identify, the flowers all meant the same thing. They all delivered the same message.
"Bunny?" Jack called out tentatively as he hovered above the field before landing, not looking completely out of place because of his pale pallor and shockingly white hair. Only his blue hoodie and worn brown pants made him stand out amongst the field of white.
There was a soft sound to Jack's left and the guardian of Fun turned abruptly, expecting a six-foot rabbit glowering at him for his invasion. He was wrong, however, and instead of finding and angry rabbit, he noticed that a certain section of flowers moving about. Curious and worried, Jack moved towards that section of flowers.
Blue eyes widened when they saw a certain Easter rabbit curled up amongst them, long ears pressed against his skull as he slept on obliviously.
The look on Jack's face softened into one of sadness as he kneeled beside the older guardian, running a cold hand through the messy fur. "You gumby." He murmured, the Australian slang rolling off his tongue before he could stop himself.
He sighed and sat himself comfortably beside Bunny before looking up at the sky. "You shouldn't go through this alone, you know."
And like the three hundred years before he met the guardians, nothing answered Jack but silence.
Aster Bunnymund woke up to an unnatural chill running up his spine. He groaned, eyes still closed, as his nose twitched and realized that there was only one reason why it would be so cold in his home at this time of the year.
Meddlesome gallah, The warrior mumbled to himself as he shifted in his sleep. Didn't North and the others warn him about this week?
I don't need this right now, Bunny thought to himself as he shifted and shivered when he felt a certain coldness hovering. Brat brought this onto himself. I'll ignore him and hope he goes away.
But the coldness persisted, not allowing Aster to go back into his fitful dreams. Annoyed, the guardian of Hope's eyes opened, glaring at the ground, refusing to acknowledge the guardian with him. He slowly sat up, face turned away carefully from the place he knew the other would be situated in.
He expected Jack to speak up, to throw him a greeting or a lame joke as he stood up and went about his business.
To his surprise however, the winter sprite said nothing, even when Bunny had stood up to his full height and began to hop away.
Instead of saying anything, Jack just followed the other quietly. A strange behavior that made the Pooka feel uncomfortable. But he ignored it and was instead grateful for the silence. Jack had the uncanny ability of riling him up and he didn't want to lash out on the other guardian, especially with the state of his mind right now.
And so, Bunny went about his business, going through things in a dazed manner, planting seeds, painting, and then going back to the field of white flowers to mourn.
Jack didn't know this, but beneath the soil where hundreds of flowers bloomed were the objects of his fellow Pookas. He had taken all that he could before he left his home planet and buried the remnants of his clan in soil. To represent his own grief and mourning he had planted flowers that symbolized the loneliness he felt in his heart above their possessions.
And he had been mourning them ever since.
It was a perfunctory function now: sitting in the field of white, forgetting to eat and just drifting off to sleep. He felt more and more horrible every time he woke up. His dreams were haunted by wars and cries of Pookas he could not save.
Bunny did not know how long he had been sitting there, when he suddenly felt something cool being placed in his paws.
Bunny's head snapped up and he met the sad blue eyes of Jack Frost who looked at him with pursed lips. The pooka looked at him unseeingly before looking down into his paws to see a glass of water.
Jack continued to say nothing, not even urging him to drink. He was just a cool and surprisingly soothing presence beside the rabbit. Not really thinking about it, the Pooka lifted the glass to his lips and took a drink.
He didn't realize how thirsty he was until he drank the cool liquid.
Jack gave him a small smile, taking the glass and flying off before coming back with a pitcher of water this time. It was around his sixth glass that Bunny started to become sleepy, and it wasn't long before he was lying back down on the field of white flowers, the sky darkening above him. The Warren recognized that its master needed his rest and reacted to his tiredness accordingly.
The last thing Bunny felt as he drifted off was the familiar feeling of a quilt being placed above his shivering form.
The old rabbit woke up the next day, feeling more rested than before. He blinked his eyes blearily and sat up. Jack was still there, still beside him, and idly, he wondered if the other slept at all. But then he shook his head, deciding he didn't care.
He didn't want to talk to anybody right now.
The warrior stood up unsteadily, shrugging off the quilt that Frostbite placed on top of him to protect him from last night's cold. He turned away from the guardian of Fun to hop away and begin his perfunctory duties again.
But then, he paused when he saw a familiar glass of water not far away.
He chanced a glance over his shoulder. Jack was still in the same position, legs crossed face tilted to the sky as though reveling in the sunlight. Aster's mouth twisted into a frown before he quickly grasped the glass and drank from it before hurriedly putting it down and hopping away.
He failed to see the smile that graced Jack's lips when he left.
It went on this way for the next few days, Jack accompanying him silently on his usual chores, leaving a glass of water eight times a day in Bunny's path and pretending not to look when he drank. Eventually the glass of water started to be paired up with a bowl of carrots. If Bunny wasn't ignoring him, he would've scolded the teen for taking his vegetables without permission.
But Bunny's stomach told him not to argue as he nibbled on the expertly grown carrots, trying to look uninterested.
Finally on the sixth day, the rabbit began to speak.
"Jack." Bunnymund said, voice rough, as he sat on his usual spot in the field of flowers. The winter spirit, who had been looking at a white poppy in interest, jumped in surprise when his name was suddenly called. Wide blue eyes looked at the Easter Bunny. "Jack." Aster prompted again, in which Jack smiled uncertainly in response.
"Yeah, Bunny?" His voice was hoarse from several days of disuse and his face was paler than before. The Pooka frowned at the other.
"Have ya been sleeping at all these past few days?" The rabbit asked the newest guardian who grinned.
"Aw, worried about me Cottontail?" Jack laughed, voice still raspy, "That's sweet! But don't worry, I'm fine."
"That really doesn't answer mah question," The warrior grumbled, "And while we're in the subject, have ya drank or eaten at all too?"
"Hm," The winter spirit tilted his head thoughtfully, "A sip now and then, a nibble here and there."
Bunnymund frowned, "That's not healthy."
"So is locking yourself up in the Warren for a week without eating or drinking." Jack reminded him good-naturedly but there was something fierce behind the words even as the sprite smiled.
Bunny sighed, "Why did ya even come here Frostbite? Didn't North and the others warn ya against that?"
The guardian of Fun scoffed, "And since when have I followed what anyone else says?" Bunny opened his mouth before closing it thoughtfully and Jack nodded, "Exactly."
"Still, I never thought you'd be the caring sort. Barging in here like you own the place and keeping tabs on me." Bunny mumbled, "Why haven't you said anything for the last several days, huh?"
"Because I figured the others already did that, and seeing as I'll be ignored anyway, why bother talking?" Jack shrugged, "If you need someone to give you an earful you'd have gone out of the Warren."
"Then why'd you follow me around?"
The spirit rolled his eyes, "Because someone's got to keep an eye on you and make sure you don't do anything stupid."
"Ha, that's rich coming from you." Bunny snorted.
Jack smirked before he continued, "And also," He cleared his throat, "I figured you'd need some sort of company. Grief is easier when there's someone beside you."
"Well!" Jack suddenly shouted, breaking the heavy silence. He got to his feet, the usual mischievous grin on his face, "Seeing as you're better now and no longer a walking Bunny-zombie, best if I'd get going. Don't wanna overstay my welcome, yeah?"
"Jack." Bunny started to say as the sprite allowed the wind to catch him. "JACK!" The Pooka hopped and grabbed at his feet dragging him back down.
"Ow- hey! Watch it, Cottontail!" The spirit of Fun frowned down at the other. "What is it?"
"Stay." The Pooka said before he sighed, "I'm off to make some dinner, ya should join me. Ya need fattening up."
Jack blinked in surprise before a smile slowly began to adorn his features, "Aw, Cottontail! Is that your subtle way of thanking me for taking care of you this past week?"
"No!" Bunny said defensively but then he caught sight of the amused twinkle in Jack's eyes and sighed in defeat again. "Whatever, I don't care what ya think. Just stay here long enough to eat then I don't care where ya go afterwards."
The expression on the ice spirit's face softened as he said, "Okay, I don't mind." He said as he landed softly beside the older guardian.
The rabbit huffed but began to lead the way towards the garden as Jack followed suit. The guardian of Fun didn't notice the grateful smile on Bunny's face as the Pooka led the way and finally, finally, placed the past behind him.
Author's notes: To semestral breaks! Cheers!