A/N: Bumped up the rating. I'm paranoid. Plus, I might end up touching on some angsty and possibly adult-ish themes in this series. I officially give up any pretense that these count as drabbles, or attempts at adhering to a word limit.

Let's do the time warp again ~


raison d'être


Winter came, as it is wont to do.

It came to the little colonial village of Burgess as it had the last ten lonely years: bitter, unforgiving. The snow and winds made Faith and Jack feel more at home, but would chase shivering families indoors and crease the faces of parents as they worried over food and shelter and whether their fragile babies would survive the next frozen night.

It was enough to give the Frosts a guilt complex.

What did it matter that a snowdrift felt like blankets to them, when for a human to be buried in one was a death sentence? What good did their powers over ice do, when it withered crops and froze livestock? It wasn't their fault - they didn't choose these abilities, they never intentionally caused villagers harm - but even entering Burgess felt like a terrible deed, every step heavy, as if they were carrying death on their backs.

Sometimes, a child or two would brave the cold weather to play in the snow. Usually, that was the most company that Jack and Faith got every year, though the children were unaware of them; even then they were careful to keep their distance, fearful of what havoc they might wreak if they got too close.

Today, the children were skating on the lake.

Jack watched from a tree branch a few metres away with Faith resting on his lap, amused by the children gliding across the frozen surface of the water but trying to ignore a nagging sense of unease. They recognised all three children, of course: Joshua, Mercy and Seth. They'd spent enough time in Burgess to have learnt some names.

Joshua had put up some resistance when Mercy and Seth tried to drag him onto the lake with them.

"Mother said to stay away from the lake," he'd said quietly, biting his lip. He reminded Jack of Faith when he did that. "She says it's dangerous."

"'Mother said, mother said,'" Mercy mocked with a put-on lisp. "Come on, Josha, don't be such a baby."

"I'm not!" he'd snapped. "I just think -"

"Then stop thinking," Seth said. He was already skating in lazy circles on the ice. "You know what my mama says? Says we shouldn't think so much. Says we should concentrate on growing strong so we can be good workers when we grow and look after each other."

"But we've got to think to talk to God -"

"Please, Joshua?" Mercy fluttered her eyelashes. She had big doe eyes, the persuasive sort; the siblings saw Joshua's resolve waver. "For me?"

In the end, Joshua was persuaded onto the ice. He even cracked a smile as Mercy grabbed his hand, dragging him with her as she traced figure-eights on the lake. Faith leaned forward in Jack's lap - he felt her jostling as she fought the desire to join them, to put her ice skates to use. She'd grown extremely talented with them, to the point where she could easily stand on them without teetering as if they were ordinary shoes. Jack kept her pinned to him with the staff, though. And still he couldn't shake the feeling that something was wrong.

Faith, as always, noticed the shift in his emotions; she twisted around in Jack's lap, looking at him with concern. "What -"

She didn't get a chance to finish the question.

The ice groaned, cracks spiderwebbing out from beneath where Mercy and Joshua had slid to a stop. Seth, who'd been sitting on the snowy bank, scuttled back on his hands and heels with a cry like a frightened baby; Mercy and Joshua's breath hitched and they clutched each other in a spike of panic. The shift of weight made the ice crumble faster. Mercy and Joshua blanched.

Darkness...

Jack barely registered how Faith had stiffened in his lap. The air was sucked out of his chest.

...dark...cold…

The surface crackled again. Mercy shrieked.

...scared...

Afterwards, neither Jack nor Faith were sure who made the first move - it was instinctual, an unspoken plan forming between them as the frost forms under their fingers. It propelled them both off of the tree and across to the lake, the wind at their backs. Jack released Faith moments before they hit the icy surface. She landed perfectly on her skates, zipping forward across where the children had been moments before; in the wake of her skates, the ice thickened and sealed. The children had been swept onto thicker ice by a gust of snowy wind kicked up by Jack's staff.

It was over in a heartbeat. Then it was still.

Mercy began to cry. Joshua put his head between his knees and shook violently.

"JOSHUA THADDEUS OVERLAND!"

Joshua snapped his head up, as did Mercy, Seth, Jack and Faith. The bellowing voice belonged to a broad-shouldered, broad-necked, broad-chested, broad-everythinged man with thick, roping muscles, leftover streaks of brown in his grey hair and a look of utmost fury on his leathery face. He dumped two armfuls of firewood on the snow next to him and loped towards them, mighty fists swinging beside him.

"YOU GET OFF THAT ICE RIGHT NOW."

Even whiter than before, Joshua scrambled off of the ice; he didn't reach the edge before his father reached out a long arm and hoisted him up into the air by the scruff of his neck. Mercy and Seth were in the process of hot footing it as fast as humanly possible.

"What in the Lord's name were you thinking, boy?! Skating onto thin… How would your mother react?"

"I - I'm sorry -"

The man began dragging Joshua back to the village by the ear, scolding him viciously as the boy attempted to stammer something about an angel of God and a miracle rescue. Faith and Jack watched them walk away, Jack's hand on Faith's shoulder. The snow swirled gently around their feet.

"His father was really worried," Faith whispered. Jack realised she was trembling slightly and pulled her against him.

"Yeah."

"He almost died."

"But he didn't," Jack said, squeezing her shoulder.

"Because we saved him." Faith's eyes began to sparkle. "We're heroes."

"Heroes," Jack repeated. He liked the sound of that. Heroes. Guardian angels, like Joshua said.

And then he thought, who said winter has to be dangerous?

.

.

.

.

There was not another winter death at the Burgess lake for decades.


~ROTG~


A/N: Psst. Hey. Guys. Don't you think the review box is the perfect place to put constructive criticism? Especially for someone who really needs it. Like me. Particularly when it comes to building up tension in a scene. You know you want to, lovely readership ~