'I don't even understand why you're here,' Jack hissed. They were both huddled in one of the many underground tunnels that North's elves used to slink around the Workshop.
'Because I want to see this,' Pitch said, and Jack could hear the dark glee in his voice.
'Yeah, I'm doing it for fun, remember? To lighten up North a bit? You don't need to sound like I'm ruining his life or anything. You are a total creep.'
'Excuse me, but who was the one who decided to do this in the first place? It wasn't my idea. If you're not careful, North is going to end up with an Easter-sized grudge against you. You do remember that Easter, don't you, Jack?'
'Oh my god,' Jack hissed, 'Will you shut up? It's bad enough hearing about the first and second Easter I ruined from the Kangaroo, I do not need to hear it from you. I mean-'
Pitch kissed his way into Jack's mouth, sliding his tongue against Jack's, making his eyes drift shut. The combination of adrenaline and sensation combined in Jack's body, and he opened his mouth wider, moaning softly.
'There are other ways to shut up,' Jack gasped, shoving him.
'This is my favourite way,' Pitch said primly.
'The worst. You are the worst. No, get off, stop distracting me for like five seconds.'
It was two days after Christmas, and Jack had organised for the Guardians to visit North. It was mostly to make sure that North wound down properly, and didn't immediately launch into frenetic ideas for next year's Christmas. Everyone needed a break, and Jack was going to make sure that – visiting North being the perfect excuse – all of the Guardians got it. Even Bunnymund could do with a break. After all, it was still a few months away from Easter.
Besides, Jack had always wanted to do what he was about to do.
Jack made a small sound in the back of his throat when he found himself dragged forwards in the small space by the hem of his hoodie. Pitch slanted his mouth over Jack's and thrust his tongue in deep, slowly sliding it back and forth, until Jack whined and clawed at Pitch's shoulders. Pitch hummed in rich approval, leaning forwards, licking the roof of his mouth. If there was one thing Jack had learned about Pitch, it was that Pitch had a high libido, and was very generous with touch.
But seriously, Pitch, timing much?
Jack whimpered when Pitch bit down on his bottom lip, and then gasped when lips found their way to the underside of his jaw and started to suck.
'No, oh my god, you're ridiculous!' Jack said, pushing at him until Pitch moved away, laughing under his breath.
'You told me to stop distracting you for five seconds. I waited ten. I was very generous.'
Jack kicked him.
'If North sees a hickeyon top of everything else, he'll be pretty unhappy. He still thinks of me as some kid.'
Pitch muttered something under his breath about that, and then acquiesced, and didn't kiss Jack again. Jack couldn't tell if he felt happy or disappointed about that.
'So,' Pitch said, 'the plan is that I wait in my old room, provided it's not been used as storage for something, and then what?'
'I don't know, you're not part of the plan, I just wanted you here,' Jack said, frustrated. He hadn't really thought it through. It was hard enough organising the other Guardians to come and stay in the Workshop and make sure that North stopped working.
'I can make myself a part of the plan,' Pitch said, with that sort of silky, faux helpfulness that made Jack's gut clench. He wasn't entirely surprised at his reaction. That tone of voice was often a prelude to many other sorts of activities that left Jack a combination of pleasured, distracted, aroused, sore and exhausted.
'You're meant to make sure that North doesn't kill me,' Jack said, and Pitch sighed.
'Then I am sorry to inform you, but we're both screwed.'
'Yeah,' Jack said, grinning. 'We are.'
With that, Jack wriggled away from Pitch through the tunnel, dragging his staff with him, ready to execute what was perhaps one of his craziest plans since that exciting, if hampering, ice-heavy Easter that Bunnymund still couldn't stop referring to.
His centre might not be fun anymore, but that didn't mean he had stopped engaging in it as often as he wanted to. If anything, combining his old centres of resolve and fun together made him a little more mischievous than he used to be, when the mood took him. Also, living with Pitch and Pitch's dark streak didn't help. It also turned out that Mora could be a prankster. The three of them living with each other was often a catastrophe-in-waiting.
Jack was smaller and faster than Pitch, and he left Pitch down in the shadows to sort himself out while he crawled his way free into an empty fireplace and then poked his head out of it, making sure no one was around. Aside from two elves who waved at him absently before going back to fighting each other, no one was in the room he entered.
The Workshop was definitely quieter than usual, but Jack could still hear the sounds of toys, of yeti working. They were supposed to be on holiday. North was terrible at making sure he and everyone else took breaks.
Jack crept through the room, out of the door, and then shot up through the centre of the Workshop all the way to the top. He looked down through the many levels, adrenaline racing through him. Yeti had spotted him now, and several had rumbled out warnings to each other.
Then the yelling began.
Jack was always welcome in the Workshop, but for some reason the yeti could always tell when he was up to something.
So he had to work fast.
'Hey, Phil!' Jack called out, as Phil came thundering up the stairs towards him. 'I feel like it's been a really long time since we've caught up, you know?'
Phil yelled something unintelligible at him.
'Don't be like that,' Jack said, tumbling through the air and creating giant flurries of snow behind him. 'I come with gifts! Belated Christmas gifts! How about a snow day?'
Jack laughed at him and sailed up back through the Workshop again, creating snow and ice as quickly as possible, making sure it fell thick, fat and heavy throughout. It would melt, it was only water, and it certainly turned the giant mess of colour and noise into a quieter, whiter space that Jack enjoyed.
There was a commotion on the lower levels as the rest of the yeti realised what was happening, and just as Jack unleashed the heaviest quantity of snow yet, he saw North burst out onto one of the landings and look up. He stared at Jack in shock, and Jack waved down enthusiastically.
Toothiana and Baby Tooth emerged from one of the rooms, eyes wide. Sandy came down through one of the upper windows to watch happily. Bunnymund hopped beside North and placed a commiserating hand on his shoulder.
That's right, Bunny, you do that. You know what it's like.
Jack laughed, he couldn't help himself.
And then he laughed harder when he saw several bursts of golden light impact the snow flurries, turning the snow into glowing beacons that stayed alight even as they landed upon toys and yeti heads and banisters and landings.
He didn't stop until the Workshop was thoroughly coated in snow, until the yeti had all stopped working and were standing on various floors looking up at the snow flurries and the indoor clouds and Jack, no doubt wondering when it would all stop. He didn't even stop when North started to laugh, clutching his belly and bending over, even as Bunnymund still awkwardly patted him on the back.
Jack saw Pitch step up alongside North and Bunnymund, and decided that his impromptu snow day was at an end. He sailed back down again, landed lightly in front of them, turned and executed an impish bow.
'At least I waited until after Christmas!' Jack said, as North straightened.
North reached over and clapped Jack on the back so hard that Jack staggered forwards. He recognised a tiny amount of revenge in that gesture, but poked North affectionately with his staff all the same, making frost spirals curl out on his clothing.
'Ah, Jack, that is quite an entrance you are making!' North said, as he picked up a handful of the glowing sand and rubbed it between his fingers, releasing the golden light.
Pitch stepped up so he could stand alongside Jack and then placed a hand on his shoulder. Jack leaned back into it. It was a welcome warmth.
Bunnymund looked between the two of them, and then simply rolled his eyes. He was finding it easier to accept that Pitch was not the Nightmare King, these days, but he still seemed to have his own private thoughts on Jack and Pitch living together.
Toothiana flew over, and Sandy came on the back of a golden dolphin that dissolved back into dreamsand once he had landed. He flashed up many different symbols at Jack, and Jack looked at Pitch for help interpreting. Pitch had an amused look on his face, and then he raised his eyebrows.
'Sandy enjoyed himself,' Pitch translated. Jack was sure Pitch had omitted a great deal of the message, but as Sandy nodded in agreement with the translation, and North didn't correct him, Jack left it.
'It's cold enough out here!' Toothiana said, wrapping her arms around herself, but her chastising tone was softened with the warmth in her eyes, the smile that followed.
'It'll melt,' Jack said. 'It's just snow.'
Sandy nodded, and then said something in symbols to North, and North replied with a grunt of agreement and a small laugh.
Pitch's hand on Jack's shoulder scratched at him lightly through his sweatshirt. And Jack was grateful for it. Now that he wasn't trying to annoy the Guardians on purpose, he was sensitive to whether his prank had gone too far.
'You should relax more,' Jack said to North, but then he looked at the other Guardians too. 'You all should. If I have to come and make snow days in each of your homes every year, I'll do it.'
'He will,' Pitch said flatly. 'Trust me.'
'I'd like to see you try, mate,' Bunnymund said, but there was a jovial gleam to his eyes that indicated he was partly joking.
'I'm serious,' Jack said. 'You all work too hard. You always lose touch with the children really quickly. And you know, I know what that's like now. And it sucks. Just because something's a habit, doesn't mean it should be a habit. It's not like any of you have the centre of 'working too hard.' North should go out and experience wonder in the world around him sometimes. And Tooth, you should go and make your own memories, that aren't just about collecting teeth! Sandy should...actually Sandy you're pretty good, you're doing a good job I think, of balancing working too hard with making your own dreams come true.'
Sandy bowed in response to that, and beamed at him.
'And Bunnymund, you're all about hope, and you know as well as I do how easy it is to lose touch with a centre that's fragile. You should definitely be out there, looking for more of it, so that you don't spend too long cloistered inside that Warren of yours. You guys are all ridiculous. You all agree that North should take some more time off after Christmas, but you never think it's true for yourselves! I'm like, the only one who seems to know how to pace myself. I don't think you need me to take more time off.'
Bunnymund snorted, and North grinned.
'Speaking of centres,' North said, and Pitch groaned.
'Oh no,' Pitch said, and Jack rolled his eyes.
Pitch had been a brat about the subject of centres, especially his own, ever since he'd discovered what it was. There were times when Pitch seemed wiser than the ages, when an ancient knowledge shone out of his eyes and every word he said was placed with the precision of someone who had been trained as a war General. And then there were the times when Pitch was basically a petulant child. The subject of centres brought that side of his personality up faster than anything else.
'Have you guessed Jack's centre yet?' North said, and Pitch stepped back from Jack so he could look at him. Jack had been holding back with the reveal. He was a little nervous about it. It was a fairly fundamental change inside of himself, and it was the centre he wanted to keep for the rest of his life if he could; if Pitch didn't approve, that might cause some problems.
'I have not,' Pitch said quietly. There was a curiosity in his eyes.
Jack realised, with the rest of the Guardians around him, he should say something. Especially because North would probably just reveal it anyway, and Jack wanted to say what it was for himself.
'Did you choose it yourself?' Bunnymund interjected, and Jack grinned.
'Yeah, actually! That was good advice you gave me. So...thanks for that.'
'Any time,' Bunnymund said, and his ears twitched in appreciation.
'Go on,' North said, looking warmly at Jack. 'Tell him what it is being.'
Jack turned and looked up at Pitch, and then shrugged in a lopsided manner.
'Uh, it's freedom. My new centre is freedom. Because I wanted to feel like I had more choice. Fun kind of weighed me down a bit, and resolve weighed me down a lot. I just wanted to be able to choose for the fun to be more balanced, for the resolve to be something I don't have to have stuck there all the time. I can know that when I have to be resolved, I will be, and then I'm free to let it go when I need to. Or I'm free to leave and come back, and you guys will still all be here. So it's...freedom. Mora helped me choose. She was the one who made her life really different and chose all of us, and ever since then she's pretty much done her own thing.'
Pitch pursed his lips, and then smiled at Jack; the soft, sweet smile that he often only offered to him in private.
'I like it,' Pitch said.
'It means I'm free to live with you,' Jack said, grinning. 'Remember? You should've guessed then, when I asked to live with you.'
'I was rather distracted by the fact that you asked if you could live with me,' Pitch said, and Toothiana laughed.
'The next time you stay here, Jack, I will remember this,' North said, waving his hand around at the snowy chaos. Several yeti were grumbling in the background. One had already gotten a broom.
Jack scowled, made a snowball, blew on it and threw it as hard as it could. It hit the yeti who had fetched the broom square between his shoulders. The yeti dropped the cleaning implement, turned and opened his mouth to start yelling, and then suddenly did the yeti equivalent of a chuckle, which sounded like a strange purr.
'Those yeti are too super serious for their own good too,' Jack grumped.
Conversation continued between them all, until North finally declared that it was time for breakfast. Everyone started to follow, Pitch included, but Jack hung back. When Pitch noticed, he walked back towards Jack, waving off the rest of the Guardians when they looked back inquisitively.
Jack toed his foot on the snow-covered landing, and then walked over to a banister, dusting off glittering snow and sending frost spirals along it instead. Pitch joined him, leaning precariously over the edge of the railing and looking down, before straightening and turning his back to the chaos, looking towards the corridors and doorways that led to North's rooms instead.
'They're less afraid now,' Pitch said quietly. 'All of them. North in particular. In the middle of the war, he was very frightened. Of losing you, of losing more yeti, of losing his Workshop, of losing his way. You've helped him, you know.'
'Me?' Jack said, turning around and leaning his back on the railing, mimicking Pitch. 'I didn't do anything except freak out a lot.'
Pitch laughed, dismayed, under his breath.
'We both know that's not true. But even your panic gave North something to focus on. He likes to nurture. Having us both here helped him. With the living shadows gone, I think he may actually start to settle down. As much as he can, anyway, with a mind like his.'
Jack turned towards Pitch, and then held his hand out and collected several drifting pieces of snow in his palm. He tipped the snow forward into his fingers and rubbed at it, until small rays of golden light spilled forth.
'I guess cold and light go together even better,' Jack said, and Pitch hummed in quiet appreciation.
'Would you believe it, the Workshop is almost tolerable right now.'
Jack stepped away from the railing, wondering if he could convince North to make one of those iced chocolates he'd made for Jack some time ago. They were delicious. Pitch fell into step behind him, brushing snow off his robe with delicate fingers.
'I wonder how us living together is going to go in the future?' Jack said.
Pitch smirked at him and shrugged a single shoulder.
'Oh, it will likely be terrible. I assure you.'
Jack responded to Pitch's smirk with a grin of his own, only to see Pitch's face transform as he smiled widely. Jack's heart beat faster. He reached out and took Pitch's hand in his own, squeezing it, sending frost spirals against his skin. A familiar warmth moved through his arm, it triggered a chill in his bones that felt like the best parts of winter, the most exciting of the winds.
They shared their smiles a moment longer, before Jack turned around, tugging Pitch with him in the direction of the kitchens.
'Terrible, huh?' Jack said.
'Abominable,' Pitch drawled, chuckling when Jack put on a burst of speed and tugged so hard that Pitch stumbled. Jack whirled and steadied him, knowing the light in his eyes mirrored what he saw in Pitch's. 'Just imagine, both of us trying to enjoy ourselves, making the most of each other. I can't think of anything worse.'
'I can't wait,' Jack laughed.
Author's Notes: The complete acknowledgements and gratitude for this fic can be found over at this posting of the chapter Archive of Our Own (and you can get the link to that over at my Tumblr, at Not-Poignant). But just briefly; thank you so much for reading and being a part of this! No, there's not likely to be another book, but hopefully I will return to the RotG fandom for some oneshots and so on in the future! :)