Disclaimer: Rise of the Guardians © Dreamworks - Full disclaimer on my profile.
Summary: Being invisible is a lonely existence. Maybe they can tough it out together. / Or: Jack wasn't the only one to drown that night. AU drabbles; major spoilers; gen. Based on art by suddenlysencha on Tumblr.
A/N: Okay, I saw the art by suddenlysencha (Tumblr) and couldn't resist (I made sure to get her permission first). An example of said art is being used as the cover (also with her kind permission). This won't be a well-thought-out, multi-chaptered fic, I'm afraid - just a series of drabbles, some of them taking on events in the film and some in-between, before or after. Probably not in chronological order. Maybe I'll take prompts/requests later on, too, if anyone's becomes interested.
This one was surprisingly hard to write, considering a lot of it is lifted straight from the film - and I'm sorry about that, but this being the introductory drabble, it was necessary.
Expect slow, sporadic updates.
Safety from the Storm
footprints in fresh snow: part 1
Darkness. That was the first thing he knew.
It was dark. It was cold.
He was scared.
That vice-like fear gripped him suddenly enough to make him gasp - and then he was aware that he wasn't inhaling air. Water. He was full of water - it was in his lungs and his eyes and somewhere, in the back of his mind, he knew that this should have bothered him.
His limbs twitched; his eyelids fluttered apart. His movements were groggy, hampered by the water that seemed to be everywhere. It blurred his vision, but he thought...no, that was a sheet of ice, muting what seemed to be moonlight. Was he just beneath the surface? The shadows congealing in his peripheral vision frightened him; his breath spiked again.
Then the ice broke, cracks creating web-like patterns through which bled the moonlight. It fell across his face, scattered the shadows.
And with them, the fear.
Suddenly, he didn't feel cold anymore - or, at least, the cold ceased to bother him. As if a weight had left him, or a gentle hand had taken his, he found himself rising towards the surface; he was lifted up up up into the crisp night air and drank it in greedily, chucks of ice falling away from his body. The water on his skin and clothes turned to paper-thin layers of frost that crackled and broke when he moved.
The moon was bright and full, all-encompassing - it was all the boy could do not to fall into its silvery depths. He couldn't look away.
Not his words - the moon's.
What did they mean?
Slowly, he was deposited onto the ice, which resealed beneath him. His thought processes were picking up speed; as he gulped down air, he blinked down at his hands (pale, with a very light dusting of freckles and long, thin fingers), patted his chest to reassure himself that he was all in one piece (yes, he was very definitely there beneath the coarse, brown fabric of his clothes) and took stock of what he knew of his existence.
One: he felt empty.
It wasn't hunger or thirst. It was a strange, aching hollowness in his chest that told him he was missing something - but for the life of him, couldn't figure out or remember what.
Which lead to number two: he couldn't remember anything.
Well, that wasn't strictly true. He could remember names and meanings. Faith - believing in something. Frost - ice crystals. How did they fit together? He remembered that the moon was called the moon, and that it was Winter (it must have been Winter, why else would the lake be frozen?). It struck him as odd that he couldn't attach any past experience to knowing these things - the earliest thing he could remember was the dazed beginnings of consciousness in the water just minutes ago. He could remember the names of objects (that was a tree, and that was the sky, and this was a shirt he was wearing) - so why couldn't he remember his own name? Why couldn't he remember his life?
Only one logical solution came to mind - he hadn't had one until just now. But someone had to have put him there, right? He looked back to the sky, to the comforting presence of the moon, and -
Of course. The moon. Who else?
Still half-entranced by it, the boy took a tentative step forward, skidded slightly and flailed to regain his footing (his feet were bare and he was dimly aware that the ice against his bare skin should have been hurting him); another step, and his toes nudged something wooden. A staff - a shepherd's crook. He nudged it again. A sheen of frost spread across it. Curiosity piqued, he picked it up and weighed it in his hands. It felt right. As if it belonged with him.
So why did he still feel as if something were missing?
He rolled the staff carelessly over his hands - accidentally tipping it off in the process. He caught it just as the end rebounded against the frozen lake and sent whorls of frost dancing across the surface. The boy stared.
The sound startled him into action - he dropped into a defensive stance, throwing his head around in an attempt to pinpoint the source of the noise. Was someone spying on him? He gripped the staff in front of his as a shield without thinking, a natural extension of his body, as if he'd been using it for years.
Nothing. Just moonlight and snow. Wary now, the boy cleared his throat and tried out his voice for the first time: "H-hello?" It sounded too loud in the stillness of the wood around him, too deep, too weak. He cleared his throat. "Is someone there?" he said, more strongly this time. "I...I won't hurt you. I promise. Whoever you are."
A moment of silence, then the crunch of footfalls compressing snow - a little girl peered around the trunk of a great, bare tree. She can't have been older than eight. The eye that the boy could see was blue and clear as cut diamond, and wide with what looked like awe; her shoulder-length hair was startlingly white. Her skin seemed to be the same pale shade as the boy's and even her clothes looked to have been cut from the same cloth.
"Jack...?" she whispered.
Suddenly, they came together in the boy's mind: Faith Frost. Not two words, but a name. Her name.
"Faith," he breathed - just as the girl ran and tumbled into Jack's arms.
A/N: I forgot to mention - when it comes to me, 'drabbles' tend to be, er, anywhere between 50 and 1,000 words. Heheh. The next few probably won't be quite so long.
Constructive criticism welcome.