Chapter 9

It wasn't until 12:30 in the afternoon that Jamie woke. He had been in such a deep sleep he couldn't even recall dreaming. Reluctantly, the brown haired man peeled apart his eyelids to take in the new day.

Jamie sat forward and reached his arms up in a long stretch, feeling his joints pop from the poor sleeping position. He was still exhausted and considered going back to sleep, but something seemed out of place.

First of all, there was his yellow afghan draped over him. He didn't remember that being there when he fell asleep. He looked around the sun lit room again and tried to figure out the problem. Jamie's eyes finally fell on the empty couch beside him. It took a short moment for realization to dawn.

"Where the fuck did he go?!" Jamie exclaimed, jumping to his feet. Jack was no where to be seen.

Jamie didn't know which way to turn. He was flustered and completely caught off guard. He needed to find Jack. What if he had left and something went wrong? What if Jack had had a relapse and was alone?

And he had just fixed the damn kid up!

Jamie's heart raced in his throat and a dense nervous feeling settled in his stomach. He had to find Jack as soon as possible.

The search was on. He would drive to Jack's lake first. That was the most likely destination of the winter spirit. If he wasn't there, Lord, Jamie had no clue where he would look next. He would have to contact the guardians some how. He would write a note to North, or punch one of his own teeth out, if he had to.

Jamie continued to think of rash options to find Jack, all the while throwing on odds and ends of clothing somewhat acceptable for going outside on a brisk winter day. The end result was unlaced boots, a hat on crooked, and a half zipped winter coat. Jamie was out the door as soon as his car keys were in his grasp. He didn't even bother to lock the apartment behind him.

Jamie walked briskly down the front steps of his apartment and toward his car, cursing Jack for leaving. Goddammit.

He was on route for his car door but suddenly found his feet tripped. Figured, the one time he didn't tie his shoes they were his downfall, literally. Jamie fell graceless into a pile of snow plowed to the side of his driveway.

"I don't have time for this!" Jamie exclaimed, flailing around in unsuccessful attempts to remove himself from the rather deep pile of snow his bottom had become lodged in.

"Ugh, do you mind?" A disgruntled voice chimed in.

Jamie stopped his jerky movements instantly. "Jack?"

"What?" Jack, who had been partially covered by a thin layer of snow displaced some of the powder to reveal himself more clearly. Jamie had been unknowingly jostling the winter guardian quite a bit with his struggle and newfound close proximity.

"Jack're here! You didn't run off!" Jamie wiggled free of the snow to face Jack.

"Yeah, why would I..." Jack started but Jamie interrupted him.

"That's about the billionth heart attack you've given me! You didn't think it would be a good idea to tell me you were heading out? Maybe give me some peace of mind? I thought you'd gone off and died somewhere. For fuck's sake, Jack, think!" Jamie was panting. Perhaps it was the stress, or the worry, or the fact that he had gotten a very little amount of sleep, but Jamie felt his rant necessary.

"Jamie, calm d.." Jack broke off, his hand moving to cover an attack of ragged coughs. His chest was easily rattled from the events of earlier.

Jamie groaned, instantly feeling guilty for berating the winter spirit when he was still unwell. Jamie freed himself and managed to roll to where he could place a hand on Jack's heaving back as he coughed.

It took a few minutes for Jack to stop the fit, though when he did he was left wheezing and short of breath. "Sorry" Jack choked, swallowing thickly past his sore throat.

"No-no, no, I'm sorry for freaking" Jamie said grudgingly. He shouldn't have been taking out his anger on the "patient" anyway.

"It was stifling in your apartment," Jack said more clearly "I had to get out, and you were asleep. I didn't want to wake you after you had been up all night because of me,"

Jack's explanation would make Jamie feel even worse for yelling.

"Of course, it's fine. I over reacted. I'm just a little high strung after last night, you know?" Jamie said. "But you were able to get out here on your own, that's a good sign. How are you feeling?"

Jack paused as a few cars drove by. Jack watched as the drivers gave Jamie a quizzical sideward glance.

"Uh, Jamie maybe we should go inside. It might look a little strange to the neighbors if they see you, um, out here alone talking to no one..."

"You know what, fuck it. I don't care if they think I'm crazy. If they want to ask questions they can go ahead. I'll just tell them the truth: I'm just chillin' with Jack Frost," Jamie said bluntly. Jack let out a bark of laughter which quickly turned against his favor as he triggered another coughing fit.

Jamie chuckled as well and continued rubbing Jack's back in comfort. "No, but seriously, how are you feeling? Your chest is bothering you now, huh?"

Jack gave a few last hacks, his eyes beginning to stream, "Yeah a bit," Understatement, "But my side feels unbelievably better,"

"Well that is a plus," Jamie said, "I'm sorry about waking you, I'll let you go back to sleep if you'd like,"

"Wait, you would seriously let me? You don't want me back inside so you can 'assess'?" Jack asked

"Well, I might go grab my stethoscope, but yeah, I mean, rest is great! Now you stay here, and I'll be right back,"

"Yeah, okay," Jack sad, as Jamie clumsily stood and trudged back to the pavement and into his apartment. He trailed large clumps of snow along with him. It took but a second for him to return, tripping back through the snow to where Jack sat.

"Okay, I'm just going to listen first. You know the drill," Jack obediently rolled back his sweatshirt.

"Jamie, your hands must be freezing. Don't forget to take care of yourself once in a while. Go get some mittens or something, before you get frost bite,"

"Weird, I didn't know you bite. That's kind of concerning. Are there any ware-wolf-like effects when that happens? Am I going to turn into a white haired winter wizard every full moon?" Jamie asked nonchalantly.

Jack rolled his eyes and gave Jamie a hard look.

"It's fine, now lie back" Jamie said firmly.

Jack sighed and did as he was told. Jamie was not going to heed his advise so it was not worth the battle. It would go more smoothly if he simply complied.

Jamie's eyes scanned over Jack's torso, both pleased and displeased. The angry bruise that covered Jack's side was waning at an impossible rate. The edges were almost too dull to see, and the once deep black epicenter was already fading to a light purple. On the other hand, the raw skin covering Jack's chest was red and blistered. It had clearly bubbled even more since he had seen it last. It didn't seem Jack's body was much of a match for burns at all. He would have to get some sort of salve for that.

Jamie popped the stethoscope into his ears and placed the diaphragm onto Jack's abdomen. He was happy to hear the very normal high pitched trickle of activity in every area he listened. "great," Jamie murmured to himself happily.

"It looks a lot better," Jack said peering down at the wound intently.

"It is," Jamie said, "Do you mind if I push?" Jamie's hands hovered over the pale skin until Jack gave the okay. Jamie gently kneaded all around Jack's belly. There were tender areas, of course, but nothing like before. And Jamie did not felt a single mass, either.

"You're side is on the mend! And nearly healed I might add. You weren't kidding with the speed were you?" Jack shook his head and smiled wryly. "Now for your chest,"

Jamie hesitated, looking at Jack with guilt. Every ounce of that was his fault. He had burned Jack's skin and clearly done some internal damage with the hot rag. That was the cough's explanation.

"There isn't much I can do but treat the burn and continue with plenty of rest. Unless you are having trouble breathing, it's just kind of a 'wait for it to get better' sort of thing, unfortunately,"

"That's fine, I can lay low for a little while longer," Jack said, adding a yawn to to the end of the sentence.

"Clearly," Jamie said, watching Jack carefully roll his shirt back over his burn and cuddle deeper into the snow. "Well, call me if you need anything,"

"Will do," Jack said, stifling another yawn.

Jamie slowly made his way out of the snow bank and trudged back to his apartment door. Truthfully, Jack had been right and his hands were freezing, but that really didn't matter to him. He was just elated that Jack was on the mend. He entered his apartment and shut the door, turning around to lean his back against the warped wood. Slowly, he let himself slide to the floor.

He was still reeling with exhaustion from the night before.

Too tired to stand, Jamie stayed where he was, back against the door, and pulled out his cell phone. He cringed when he saw the missed calls and messages. It turned out he had left his phone on silent.

6 new voice messages and 10 unread texts. Unsurprisingly, they were all from Sophie, who he had completely forgotten about in all the commotion. He regretfully began to read through the texts which ranged from full on worry to death threats.

Sophie was somewhat of a drama queen. He guessed he couldn't blame her though. He would have been riddled with worry if their roles had been switched. Not even choosing to listen to the voice messages, Jamie pulled up his keyboard and typed in her number by heart.

His stomach knotted, knowing he was about to get an earful.

"FINALLY" Sophie's shrill voice made him pull the phone away the minute she picked up. "Why haven't you returned any of my calls or messages? You knew I was worried! Is Jack still there? Is he okay? I am on my way there right now,"

"Woah, woah, slow down," Jamie said taking a deep breath, "First of all, I didn't answer your calls because I was a little preoccupied. Second, Jack is okay, and thirdly, yes, he is still here,"

"Jamie, I am so mad at you right now. You wait until I get there,"

"Yeah, looking forward to it, but Soph, before you come, you should know that Jack is still recovering. He was um, pretty sick," that didn't nearly cover it, "He is resting right now,"

"But he is okay?"

"Yes, absolutely. 110 times better in fact" Jamie said realizing the weight lifting off his shoulders.

"Well good. I am about 10 minutes out, see you in a bit," Sophie hung up the phone, leaving Jamie to his quiet rest against the entry way door.

Jamie thought of his relief and smiled, just so happy Jack was okay. In fact, it was probably possible for Jack to start eating again. That thought had Jamie standing up from the floor and making his way to the kitchen.

He knew he had told Jack he could rest but getting him hydrated again was way more important. He wanted to take care of that before it became another issue to throw on the pile. Pouring a small glass of water and an even smaller cup of mild juice, Jamie made his way back outside.

"Hey Jack," Jamie said, wading back through the snow, balancing the two cups. "I have something for you,"

"hmm, what is it?" Jack said, groggily.

"I have some water, and juice," Jamie said, finally at Jack's side.

Jack's face was not of utter refusal but he certainly did not look too enthused about introducing anything into his system just yet. "I'm not sure Jamie, my stomach still feels weak,"

"I know. That's why I just brought you a little bit. You are probably still feeling bad because you are so dehydrated. This will help, I promise,"

"Fine" Jack said, taking the cup of water from Jamie and sipping on it carefully.

"Oh, and by the way, Sophie is coming over,"

"Sophie!" Jack said excitedly, he paused though, thinking it over, "I don't really know if I want her seeing me like this,"

"Too late, she is 5 minutes away. Besides, I already told her you were under the weather. Better she see you today, compared to yesterday."

"True. Well, if that's the case, I'm not going to go back to sleep," Jack handed the empty cup to Jamie before finding his staff and effortfully pushing himself into a standing position. "Woah," Jack said as his head spun and vision darkened considerably. Jamie had stood as well and grabbed Jack's upper arm to stabilize him. "Dizzy," Jack said blinking away darkness.

"Remember, take things slow. You're recovering,"

"Right," Jack agreed.

At that moment a large gust of wind picked up, nearly taking Jamie's lopsided hat off with it. Jamie flailed to keep it in place, surprised by the sudden gust.

"Hey, clam down, wind, you're going to take out my friend," Jack said with laughter throughout his voice. The wind, however, only seemed to pick up pace, swirling and buffeting playfully.

Though Jack was naturally lifted a few inches off the ground, Jamie was sent off balance and face first into the snow.

"Alright, alright, knock it off!" Jack laughed, finally quelling the movement and touching back to earth. Jack gingerly made his attempt to help Jamie to his feet. "Sorry about that, the wind isn't great with self control. Its excited I'm back" Jack said with a toothy grin.

Though Jamie's Jacket was now full of snow and his face was dripping with melt he smiled back happily and threw his arms around Jack.

"I am too,"