Author's Rant- *sobbing* Why am I doing this I should be studying for midterms I have no control over my life.

Okay, I swear, this will be the last chapter I add to this thing. I'm putting my foot down, brain. Do you hear me?

... Anyway, I have created another non-crack ending to the thing, because reasons. Don't judge me! I promise I'll get on actual, non-insane fics as soon as I can wrestle my muse away from this terrible thing.

It had been months and he still hadn't the faintest idea how to get back home.

At the moment, though, he wasn't so concerned about that as the staff that was currently being pressed against his windpipe as he stared up into suspicious blue eyes. He'd just had another fight with his other self and had come out of it pretty badly off, crawling off into an abandoned barn to nurse his wounds. He must have been a little too preoccupied with trying to keep too much of his black blood from pouring out of the gash in his side, because the next thing he knew Jack Frost had somehow gotten the jump on him. At least Jack was looking healthier, though there was a harshness to his eyes and face that wasn't present in his Jack.

The frost spirit glared down at Pitch. "Which one are you?" he asked.

"Which one?" he asked flatly, inwardly panicking a bit. How had Jack found out? He'd stayed as far away from the Guardians as possible. Had the other him said something? Likely. He'd no doubt want to distance himself from Pitch's actions, considering how far from the norm they were. He hadn't expected the Guardians to believe such an outlandish tale, though.

"There's two of you, isn't there? I saw you fighting."

Oh. "Does it matter which one I am?" Pitch asked. He really should be fleeing through the shadows right now. Staying would likely end in Jack severely harming him, after all. But it hurt to move and it had been so long since Pitch had spoken to anyone…

"Depends." Jack tightened his grip on the staff. "Are you both evil?"

Pitch chuckled at that. "Do you expect an honest answer from me? I'm the boogeyman, Jack. Or one of them. Isn't that enough?"

"I want to know why."

"Why what?"

"Why you took me back to North."

"Why not? Maybe I just wanted to spite the other me. We aren't on the best of terms, you see." Pitch held out the hand that had been clutching his side, showing the black ichor that covered it.

Jack winced a bit at that and shifted so that his staff was no longer putting pressure on the boogeyman's windpipe, though it was still aimed at him. "You're… different."

"I'm not from around here. You may have guessed," Pitch shouldn't be telling Jack this. It was safer for the boy to be wary of any Nightmare King. But he couldn't bring himself to break off the connection. He hadn't realized how desperately he missed home until now.

"So why are you here?"

Pitch smirked. "Maybe I was sent here to be your guardian angel."

Jack blinked, then chuckled a bit. "Heh. That's a good one."

The fact that this Jack was still able to laugh was a good sign, Pitch thought. "Don't I fit the bill? I must have misplaced my halo somewhere."

More laughter spilled from Guardian. "I didn't know you had a sense of humor."

"We haven't really had the opportunity to chat before."

"Guess not. Last time, I…" A slightly haunted look came into Jack's eyes. He squeezed them shut and shook his head. "How do I know you're not lying to me?"

Pitch shrugged. "You don't. This could all be a trap. I could just be distracting you long enough for a Nightmare to just sneak up behind you."

Jack flinched and whirled around. Nothing. He snapped back around to face Pitch again only to find that the boogeyman had faded into the shadows.

"You shouldn't trust me, Jack," came a soft reply, then nothing but silence.

Jack frowned and leaned on his staff thoughtfully. Just why was this Pitch so odd?

After another month of fruitless effort and research, Pitch felt despair start to creep up on him. He was never going to get to go back home. How long had he been gone there, he wondered. Had he missed Halloween?

Pitch leaned against a tree and sighed. What was he supposed to do now?

"Hey, Pitch."

He wondered momentarily if all Jacks had some kind of ability to let them know when his brooding was starting to reach critical levels and to storm in right at that moment. Maybe you just sulk an inordinate proportion of the time, a part of him piped up. It sort of sounded like Jack. "Frost," he said flatly by way of acknowledgement.

"You look really down. Like, more gloomy than usual. The other Pitch usually just looks angry." Jack landed several meters away, still holding up his staff defensively.

"Your powers of observation astound me," Pitch muttered grumpily.

"What's wrong?"

"Nothing. Everything." Pitch replied softly. "I just… I want to go home." The vulnerability of those last words made the boogeyman cringe. How did this blasted boy manage to drag out these confessions from him?

"Can't you?" Jack asked.

"If I knew how, I would."

"Where are you from?"

"Parallel dimension, different reality, something like that, I think. I don't know." Pitch said wearily. "It doesn't matter."

"North might know. Or Sandy."

"They won't help me."

"Maybe not, but they'll help me. And I do owe you one, still." The Guardian crept closer to Pitch, within arm's reach. "Now, hold out your arm."

Pitch eyed Jack suspiciously. "Why?"

"I gotta have some way to know which one I'm talking to, don't I? Now, arm."

Pitch sighed and held his left hand forward. Jack tapped it with his staff and a band of ice curled around the boogeyman's forearm like a bracelet. "There, that should stay put for a while. I'll see what I can do." With that, the wind lifted the Guardian up and he zipped off.

Pitch idly fingered the ornament, pondering. Jack was remarkable, in any reality. He seemed to be able to let resentment, bitterness and anger slide off of him like water. This trait had probably been what kept the boy sane through all his years of isolation, what had let him bond with the Guardians despite centuries of neglect, and –this last thought made Pitch scowl a bit– what had led Jack to turning down his offer in the Antarctic. The boy was simply terrible at holding grudges. Though, he supposed, it also had been what had let his Jack reach out to the defeated Nightmare King, so it wasn't all bad.

He definitely was not going to allow himself hope on this front, though. The Guardians would never help him, even if they could, and Jack would surely forget about him and go back to playing with children. No, he was on his own.

Though, he supposed, there was no harm in keeping the ice bracelet on for now.

The third time he was found was after another scuffle with himself, though it wasn't Jack who came across him. Instead, large, furry arms grabbed him and he found himself being shoved roughly through one of North's gaudy portals.

After a moment of disorientation passed, Pitch opened his eyes to see all of the Guardians glowering down at him. Panic surged through him and he scrambled backwards. He wasn't strong enough to fight them all off, not unprepared like this. A shadow, he had to find a shadow and get out of here.

"You say this one is not our Pitch, Jack?" North said, gripping his sabers.

"Yeah, that's the one." Jack looked at Pitch, who was still looking around for an escape route. "Relax a bit there. We're going to get you back home, alright? Manny even agreed to help."

Pitch stopped to stare at Jack. "The Man in the Moon? What makes you think that I want his help, or any of yours?"

"Beggars can't be choosers, Pitch. Besides, you aren't getting a say in the matter."

Once again Pitch was seized by the Yetis and dragged to the center of the floor, where a beam of moonlight was spilling onto some kind of pool of opalescent liquid. "Say hi to the other Jack for me, would you?" Jack said, and then Pitch was plunged into the stuff and everything went white.

Pitch awoke to something whining and nudging him with its nose. One of his Hellhounds seemed to be concerned about him. What for, he wasn't sure. Sleep wasn't common for him, but it wasn't unheard of. Pitch growled and shoved the beast away. The movement brought his arms within his line of sight and a blue-white glimmer caught his eye. A band of ice lay around his wrist, like a shackle.

Pitch frowned. What was that doing there? For a moment a niggling feeling of deja vu struck him, like something out of a dream. But the feeling passed and Pitch snapped off the ice. Whatever it had been, it probably wasn't important. He did have a sudden urge to go check up on Jack, though.