You guys have no idea how much all your support means. Seriously; I cried because I was so happy that everyone understood what I am going through. Anyway, I have a poll going that I think you'll like: Should I just focus on one story, which would be the most popular (aka, THIS ONE) and work on it until completion and move on to the next or try and stick with the update schedule? Vote here in a review, by PM, or at my profile. Thank you all so much!

DISCLAIMER: Sadly, no. Maybe if I win the lottery...

The Nightmare takes a sharp turn, but Jack takes a sharper one; staying right on the dark thing's tail. Reaching deep, he searches in vain for a forgotten piece of magic that could have made it through his tantrum. Curse his fore-thoughtlessness; if he even had just the smallest bit of energy the Nightmare would be a popsicle right now!

The beast leaps over a small picket fence into the usual urban garden, sprinting to the redbrick home and plunging through an open window. Jack follows a second after, landing in a sparse living room stacked high with unpacked boxes. Eyes scouring the shadows, he leads with his staff as he creeps into the kitchen.

Finding nothing, he drifts cautiously around the rest of the first level before backtracking to the staircase he noted when entering. At the top landing, he follows the sound of muffled snores to a large bedroom where a single human lies on her stomach. She must have collapsed there after a tiring day, seeing as her shoe's are still laced tightly. The Nightmare wouldn't like her fear, but if this woman is a mother...

Back in the hall, the teen pushes open the door directly opposite, entering a room glowing softly with holographic posters; almost all of them childishly drawn. Recognizing the self-portrait as that of the kid that fails at the art of snowballs, Jack shifts closer to check the golden sand floating above his head for any discrepancies.

Something taps against the window, and the elemental whirls to find Sandy waving cheerily on the other side. Straining to keep a sigh of irritation down, he stalks to the pane and snaps open the lock.

"Have you found anything?" he asks, causing the plump man to hastily put a finger to his lips.

Jack flicks his wrist, turning back to the bed as he replies, "He's not going to wake; he can't hear me. Where are the others, not arguing-"

"Here you are!" North thunders, squeezing in the same way as Sandy. "Ve were wondering vhere you had disappeared to!"

"Dude! Sleeping kid here!" Jack snaps, pointing with his weapon to the brunet.

"Eh, yer talkin' just as loud!" Bunny retorts, hopping out of his hole.

"And I could scream in his ear and the most he would do is roll over; what's your point?"

"Ah'm just sayin' that ya should practice what ya preach."

"This coming from the hypocrite that yells at Santa about procrastinating?"

"Ya can't paint eggs early or they rot!"

"Boys!" Tooth shouts, "If you're going to scream, do it outside!"

Jack rolls his eyes. "As I've already pointed out: he can't hear me. So in reality-"

"Whoa!" a new voice cries. "I need to drink Adrenaline more often!"

Four of the five entities stiffen, turning with comical slowness to face the child practically bouncing in his bed.

"So, what stage is this?" the brunet continues, ignorant of the horrified look a certain fairy is leveling him with. "The High or the Crash?"

"You drank Adrenaline?!" Tooth shrieks, feathers fluffing up; making her look twice as big. "Do you know what that does to your teeth?!"

"Do you know what it does to your nerves?" Jack counters, fighting the smirk that threatens to break out. "It fires them raw. I once saw a kid take a sip from his father's thermos; he couldn't sleep for a week."

North nods solemnly. "Da, I remember him. Mardead Jaffens, first time on zhe Naughty List, that one..."

"Mardead who?" the boy interrupts. "And why'd he get on the Bad List?" He suddenly pales and squeaks, "Am I on the coal side?!"

"Nyet, no! You are good little boy!" the big man quickly soothes, wincing at the noise. "Now just-"


A ball of pink hurls into the room; flying at the anthropomorphic rabbit. He stumbles from the force of the tackle, barely saving himself from toppling backwards onto the window seat.

"Aw Crikey," he curses, staring down at the blonde head. "Someone get this thing off meh!"

Jack snorts. "What, can't handle a little girl?"

"I'd like ta see you stay all cool an' collected with 'er clingin' to ya!" Aster hisses, tugging her arm gently in attempts to free his chest.

The albino glances to Sandy, who smiles secretly before approaching the two. A handful of dream-sand appears, and he deftly sprinkles a bit on the mortal's head. Her eyelids flutter shut instantly, but her hold does not slacken.

"What did you do?" the brother asks, bolting out of bed. "If you hurt her-"
"She's fine, Sandy just sent her back to her dreams." Tooth smiles warmly, seeming to have gotten over the energy-drink fiasco. "Just as you should too."

He frowns. "Wait... So I'm not asleep? This is real?!"


"Oh sweet, I can't wait to tell the others!" He grins broadly, rubbing his hand mischievously. "They're going to be so jealous!"

"Twenty bucks says he blows it out of proportion," Jack offers, leaning against the door jam. The dream weaver frowns in his direction, and he raises his hands in self-defense.

"Just trying to keep things interesting."

The fallen star shakes his head, blowing the sand in the child's face and catching him before he collapses to the floor.

"I think someone should stay here tonight," Tooth proposes, garnering inquiring looks from the others. "We never did find that Nightmare, and there are two kids here at the perfect age."

"Easy pickins," Bunny adds, nodding. "Why don't we have a rotation? Four go out and try to find a new trial while the other stays behind."

"Zhat is great idea!" the Cossack exclaims. "Who vants first shift?"

"I'll take it," the Queen volunteers. "And I'll send Baby Tooth out after an hour to find someone else."

Everyone nods, and Jack makes a show of stretching his arms.

"I'll be in the lake if anyone needs me," he informs before swinging out the window.

North frowns. "Did he mean zhat literally?"

Bunny sighs, tapping his foot twice. "I don' really care anymore."

^ . ^

Btw, I think review responses will vanish for a time; just because my schedule is so jam-packed already...

GuardianWitchDemiGhost: No, not mushy...he's just seen how he...kinda overreacted a bit. Sorry it took so long and thank you infinitely for your patience!

NerdyLittleCray: Yeah, I just typed that for effect. And it worked!

Dreamitandbelieveit: Oh, don't worry! When Jack meets Jamie, you will be upset at first but then the waterworks will start (I hope!)!

Phantom Trainer: Thanks for the support and all, and yes: Sandy is "dead" in this chapter. Cause ya gotta weaken the Guardians somehow!

felicityinorlando: Thank you! I just write what I think goes!

TheFadingLight: Oh no, the town still has snow; Jack's just spreading the frost. I've got your vote on the companion fic, and thanks for the well-wishes!

Time to Be: You'll see what Pitch's plans are soon enough; have no fear! And thanks for the love and patience!

Sheeijan: Yeah, I was toying with the idea of having them fall on each other and make a lot of noise too! Sadly, my muse denied me the happiness...And you're correct: Jack truly believes he will never be seen. In the big fight, you'll get to see this more in-depth.

alight: I know, but Jamie's descended is here! And I know, everyone mourns for the pond...

Jokermask18: Thanks, many of the readers wondered about how Jack and Rita meet and such, so I was like "Hey, might as well give them what they want."

Lau: Tell me about it! And my school is so crowded! I can't thank you enough for your patience and understanding!

Darlene10104: Big fight? Sure, why not?! And awed-ness...most definitely!

Serendipity's tears: Oh, sad name; but I like it! Thanks for the support about the companion (love the analogy). Hopefully I can post it soon...

Dark Inu Fan: Yeah; humans take over everything...And you're right, the town is now an 'Atlantis' of sorts. Thanks for your ongoing support!

8fangirl8: I'm glad you're enjoying everything and I can't thank you enough for being so understanding! It truly warms my heart!

akizaki14: Hey, picture change! And I know; bad people! That's JACK'S lake!

Melissa98: Thank you! I'm sorry about the...well, everything and lateness and all, but education must come first!

K: Good questions...and I can't answer that last one, but yes. Jack has calmed down.

savedbygrace94: ERMERGERD, hey! I knew you were back! Sorry about the total fail in updating; school doesn't know when to quit!

Sora Tayuya: Interesting name...anyway, Jack chasing a Nightmare while low on energy is most certainly a good thing for drama!

Honey Bagder 1: Thank you! I hope this continues to build in better-ness!

Lolxxx: Dude, I bet Jack could toss them around the world. He's just too lazy to do it (don't tell him I said that).

Azhaeda: LOL! I'm so glad you like SDS! Chapter 3 (the last introductory) is well on it's way! I just have to finish Wraith...