Written for the folowing prompt on the ROTG Kink Meme:
A funny bit of rabbit trivia that popped into my mind one time:
With wild rabbits, it's the female rabbits, does, who do all the digging and other maintenance work on the burrows.
So... Aster, the lone bachelor that he is, has sorta let his warren go. The gardens and the things needed for the Easter preparations are in perfect order, but the actual living quarters are a mess. Jack, having been raised in a day and age when children were expected to pitch in on the household chores from early on can't ignore it. So he sets about tidying the place up for the organizationally challenged kangaroo.
But, in a pooka warren having a doe take up interest in some lone buck's burrow usually means that she intends to share it, so Jack puttering about his very personal space, dusting and re-arranging, is hitting Bunny hard in some instinct that says: "Hey, look! Something young and pretty looking for a nest to share? Don't let him get away!"
Intellectually, Bunny knows Jack doesn't mean it that way, but that does little to curb the way watching Jack makes other things they could be doing in that burrow creep into his mind.
The first time Aster found Jack in his home he was coming back in from a long, long day out on the Warren. Despite the aid he'd received from all the other Guardians in setting his home to rights after Pitch's attack on Easter, he was still far behind in production. Well, he was almost back to where he should have been for early fall, but he was bound and determined to make next Easter the biggest and best ever seen, so by his new, improved standards he still had a long, long way to go.
Aster paused at the gate to his humble burrow; the home carved Hobbit-style into the side of a hill, with the main living quarters just below ground level and his sleeping chambers further below that. Once, the sleeping chambers had consisted of several clusters "rooms," designed to hold several litters of children at a time. Now, those extra rooms were long abandoned to time and disuse, forgotten in the wake of the Pooka genocide. With a motion slowed by exhaustion, Aster eased the gate open, trudging up the walk, the setting sun washing the flowers of his garden with hues of orange and red. It wasn't until Aster reached the door however that he first noticed something was awry. Really, with a nose like his he should have smelled something off form the gate. Hell, he should have smelled the interloper the moment he entered the Warren. It was a testament to his bone-deep weariness that he hadn't. With a heavy sigh Aster pushed the door open; waiting for the practical joke, for surely there was a patch of ice on the floor or a snowball to the face waiting for him. What else could one expect when Jack Frost was around?
Aster was therefore incredibly surprised when he stepped into his bright, open kitchen to see Jack elbow deep in his sink, cheerily scrubbing dishes. Aster could admit that he didn't do a lot of cooking, preferring a mostly raw, vegetarian diet like most Pooka. And lately even his usual food prep had fallen by the wayside due to his schedule, fresh salads and the occasional soup being replaced by grabbing a carrot or some celery to chomp on while continuing to work. Aster was ashamed to admit that his preoccupation with his duties had begun to show physically; he had lost weight, both due to his poor diet, and the loss of muscle mass caused by the sacrifice of his daily Kata's. That didn't mean however, that he didn't have dishes. He had dishes galore in fact, stacked in the sink and on the sideboard nearly to the ceiling, last he'd looked. Dishes that had probably sat there for months, slowly building up during the occasions when he'd actually slowed enough to take a proper meal and then being left to moulder while he ran about prepping frantically for his holiday.
Dishes that were now systematically being immersed in soapy water, scrubbed furiously, rinsed in a dish of clear water on the counter then set to the side on a towel dry.
Aster blinked. Then blinked again. A third blink however, did nothing to dispel the dish-washing mirage that had taken up residence in his kitchen. He was tempted to back out and try opening the door again to see if that worked when the mirage turned around and smile a brilliant ivory smile.
"Bunny! Glad you're back! I was worried you'd be out there all night; I've been here for hours. And look!" Here, Jack gestured to the waning pile of dirty tableware that was still remaining. "I've almost slain the Dragon!" His grin this time was so self-satisfied, the laughter dancing in his eyes that Aster couldn't quite help the corner of his lips twitching up into a smile.
"Right foul beast that, yeah? Need'n any backup there Jackie?" The nickname slipped out before Aster could control it. That traitorous bastard of a body part, his mouth, smiling and saying things without his owner's permission!
"Naw, I got it. Was going to make dinner too, but then I saw there were no clean, well, anything really so I got started, and you can see where that led." Jack looked a little sheepish, and in his expression Aster could see reflections of all the little comments he'd been hearing over the past couple of months from all his friends, about how he was working too hard and overdoing it and not taking care of himself. Comments that he'd denied so vociferously that the other's concerns had eventually stopped. Well, the vocal concerns at least, he knew what they were all thinking. It seems like the Frost child was the only one who was willing to take matters into his own hands. Aster had to repress another fond smile at the thought; leave it to Jack to use breaking and entering as an expression of worry. And theft, too, if the little pile of washed vegetables pulled from his own garden and resting on the far counter was any indication of Jack's intentions to make dinner.
"Well, don't let me interrupt your fine progress then there, mate." Suddenly feeling somewhat renewed, Aster came fully into his home for the first time, closing the door behind him and sauntering over to the counter where the produce was laid. "You like salad then, Frostbite?" Aster glanced over the shoulder to the left to look at his guest while he spoke.
"Eating's not really a requirement for 300 year old frozen corpses." Jack said, with a somewhat bitter twist to his lips, from where he was valiantly conquering the mess. He had suds in his hair and streaked across one cheek, the sleeves of his hoodie were covered in damp handprints from where he was constantly pushing them back up to his elbows, and the front of him was soaked a dark blue and spattered liberally with bits of food from the slopping water. Taking in the whole visage, Aster could honestly say that he didn't think Jack had ever looked more becoming. The thought flashed through his mind like a lightning strike, and he quickly tore his eyes away, focusing instead on the head of lettuce he currently was holding in a death grip. Forcing himself to let go, he reached out and snagged a sharp knife from the clean stack of dishes and began to chop.
"Didn't ask ya if ya were hungry ya drongo, I asked if you like salad." From the corner of his eye, Aster saw Jack's head jerk up so fast he mentally winced in sympathy for the imagined neck ache. The boy's expression was open, his eyes sharp, looking for any sign of falsehood in the Pooka's face, a typical Jack reaction to both any offered kindness, and any deliberate ignorance of the biological peculiarities resulting from his death and rebirth. Pretending indifference, Aster continued chopping vegetables, appearing for all intents and purposes absorbed in his task. A Pooka's peripheral vision was wider and much more acute then a humans; a fact that Aster was banking on that Jack didn't know. A fact that must be true, as, seeing no signs on insincerity Jack slowly relaxed, resuming the task at hand before replying with forced calmness.
"Yeah, I could go for Rabbit food." Aster didn't have to sneak a glance at Jack to know that there was now a small, smug grin on the other spirit's face. Huffing a noise somewhere between a grunt and a laugh he got back down to work, carefully julienning the carrots and tossing them all into a bowl on top of the bed of lettuce.
The sun was finally making its exit for the night, painting the kitchen in the murky grey of twilight. Aster laid down his knife long enough to light the lamps before continuing, finishing off and setting the table for two, pumping two large glasses of cool water to accompany their meal. They settle into their seats across the small table that has seen far, far too many solo meals and dig in, Aster carefully serving his guest the requested portion before helping himself. Conversation is light and casual, a comfortable exchange that eventually tapers off into companionable silence as the plates empty. Aster props his elbows on the table and rests his chin forward onto clasped hands, observing the boy in front of him, who in turn is observing the home around him. The boy is brushed in flickering gold from the many hanging lamps that fill Aster's burrow with their soft light. The night is warm, but there is a little bit of winter bite to it; a cool freshness like the hint of mint he always sprinkled into his salads and was still lingering on his palate. This is the calmest, the stillest, and perhaps the most content that Aster has ever seen the boy, who is usually near-manic with his energy and youthful exuberance. Young Jack sits in Aster's second chair, so long left empty like he owns it, like it was made for him, like he belongs here in this place. Sitting back in his seat to take in the full tableau, Jack's crisp whiteness against the earthy brown of Aster's home, he can't help but think that maybe, just maybe belonging here was exactly what the kid did. And while Aster knows that he owes a good portion of this feeling to instincts screaming at him the something pretty was showing interest in his burrow, and therefore in him by extension, there was some small part of him that couldn't help but be grateful that, above anyone else who could have visited today, it had been Jack who came.