WARNING : THIS CONTAINS AN ORIGINAL CHARACTER !
This is a gift for the amazing Twisted Skys. Tabe, the Spirit of Summer, belongs to her and the story Invisible, and is so awesome that he prompted a one-shot of his own, something which is actually pretty amazing considering I hate most OCs with a passion. But he's too well-crafted to hate.
Also, I'm pretty sure that "Frostbite" is an invention of the fandom, but it's too good to pass up.
When Jack tumbles into his warren late one morning in January, Bunny is annoyed.
Surprised, intrigued (just a little. Not much), slightly confused. But mostly annoyed.
Because Jack's not alone (not that he wouldn't be annoyed if he was. Nope.). No, Jack falls from one of his tunnels ass-over-teakettle and yet manages to find his feet without losing hold of the person he's clutching to his chest. That's all Bunny registers, that Jack's here and he's holding someone up, before he gets a faceful of frantic Winter Spirit (Wow. Apparently he's not the only one to be able to cross the Warren in a single leap).
"- and he won't wake and it's kind of like when I get stuck in a desert except the opposite really and he just has to sleep it off but it needs to be in a warm place because obviously Tabe's not like me well he is only for summer and so normally I'd take him to my pond but I can't and this was the only warm place I could think of and we won't be in your way I promise I can just put him in my room well not my room really but you know the one you lent to me that time not that I think it's mine or anything-"
The call actually cuts through Jack's litany and he looks up anxiously at Bunny, who can now see that the spirit Jack is supporting is that Tabe guy. He doesn't know him well; in fact he could have sworn that he and Jack had gotten into the mother of all arguments. What's Jack doing, pleading on his behalf?
"It's fine, Frostbite. You can put him in your room" - there's a flash of startled pleasure in Jack's eyes when Bunny says your room – "Do you need anything?"
Jack shakes his head and carefully drags Tabe off. Bunny watches and tries not to think of the relief in Jack's eyes when Bunny didn't kick him out (not this time).
Jack is completely, totally, unnaturally still.
It unnerves Bunny.
He's been sitting on the ground next to his bed for the past five hours, leaning his chin on his crossed arms resting on the edge of the bed, staring at Tabe as though it'll make him wake up any faster. It's a bit creepy, if Bunny is totally honest with himself.
Bunny's been walking past the room again and again for the last four hours and actually hovering outside the door for the last hour or so, watching the frost child watch the summer spirit. Taking a deep breath (he doesn't know what he's actually steeling himself for. But somehow, it feels like walking on a battlefield), he finally walks in. Almost immediately, he's struck by the heat. It attacks him, his fur, and he thinks that Jack must have found a way to turn it up all the way. He makes his way to the bed.
He's seen Tabe a couple of times before, but he goes around wearing large, sweeping robes embroidered with leaping flames that cover him from ankle to wrist, huge sleeves swallowing his hands, and he always has his hood up and a scarf over his face, the way Bedouins wrap one around to their mouth and nose to protect themselves from the desert wind, so the most he's ever seen of the Summer Spirit's face is a patch of skin the color of burnished copper and a pair of dark eyes. Lying on the bed, his robes drawn back and his scarf carefully folded besides him, his features are entirely visible for the first time. There's a distinct Persian cast to his face, with sharp cheekbones and a firm mouth. His voice is deep and smooth, tinted with an exotic accent, and Bunny had him pegged at much older, physically thirty or older when they first met, especially all bundled up in that cloak that hides all of his body and makes him look bulkier. He looks quite a bit younger as he sleeps, only a few years older than Jack – early twenties, maybe.
Especially with his hand lying so close to Jack's. As though the boy's afraid to take it.
"You know, if you're afraid you're too cold, you probably shouldn't be in the same room."
Jack doesn't answer, and Bunny's brow flickers in concern – he crouches next to the boy and waves his paw in front of his face. Jack turns, but it's sluggish, and his eyes aren't quite focused on Bunny.
"Oi, Snowflake, you hear me?"
Jack nods, slowly, and Bunny feels the boy's forehead. He hisses; it's burning. Well, actually, average warm – but that's too warm for the Spirit of Winter, he knows it. He gets to his feet and gently grasps Jack's arm.
"Come on mate, let's get you somewhere cooler."
But Jack shakes his head violently, looking more aware than he has for hours, and glares drunkenly at Bunny.
"No. I'm not moving."
Bunny glowers back. Jack matches him glare for glare, a pretty impressive feat considering he's going a little cross-eyed.
Bunny swears and goes off to find some ice cubes.
When he comes back, Tabe's awake and stroking Jack's hair.
Bunny halts in the doorway and watches for a moment. Jack's fallen asleep, head pillowed on an arm, hand clenched into the bed sheet, suspiciously close to Tabe's own hand. There's a little smile on Tabe's face, and Bunny clamps down on the jealousy rearing its ugly head inside his heart.
Tabe turns his head, and sees him.
"Hello, Bunnymund." He inclines his head politely. "Thank you for your hospitality."
Bunny gives a grunt that could pass for acknowledgement and walks over. He kneels down next to Jack and gently tries to pry him loose, but Jack whines in his sleep, so he gives up.
"Don't fret. He'll be up and about in a couple of hours. The heat really tires him."
I know that is on the tip of Bunny's tongue, but instead he looks up at Tabe.
"This has happened before?"
"Oh yes. Many times. Jack and I are very similar, despite our different natures, and we have both suffered our share of season discomfort."
"He's helped you before?"
"Oh yes. Though usually it's more the other way round. Jack is far more reckless than I. You could say we've had ample opportunity to save each other's skin, though. We've know each other a long time, you know. We bumped into each other back when he was just a new spirit. I had to explain to him what being a Seasonal entails."
"Why you?" bursts from Bunny's mouth despite his best effort. Tabe cocks an eyebrow at him, and Bunny steels himself to go on. "You're Summer. Why would he ask you for advice?"
And for help goes unsaid.
Tabe eyes him expressionlessly, and his voice is cool when he speaks again, his fingers threading through Jack's hair again.
"Who else was there?"
Okay, Bunny can't say that was undeserved and yet it still feels like a punch to the gut. Unable to hold the Persian's dark gaze, his eyes drop and come to rest on Jack's sleeping face, content and peaceful as Tabe's fingers card through his wild locks. Bunny has the stray thought that he's never ruffled Jack's hair. Or hugged him. He might have patted him on the shoulder once. He thinks. He's not sure.
Tabe's voice breaks him from his thoughts.
"He cares, you know." Bunny finally manages to wrench his gaze back to those too-knowing eyes, dark, unreadable pools that somehow turn soft when they settle on Jack. "He must trust you, since he brought me here."
The dark eyes pin him in place.
"Don't let him down again."
Swallowing, Bunny nods. The ice cubes he's brought are melting but he's content to crouch there by Tabe's bedside, Jack between them, Tabe's hand carding through his hair and Bunny's paw on his shoulder.
Jack is jumping in place, itching to go. It's been a matter of hours and both spirits are up and running. Jack is keeping up a running stream of chatter as he drags Tabe towards one of the exit tunnels, going on about how the Persian owes him a race now –
They're nearly out and into the tunnel when Jack suddenly lets go of Tabe's sleeve and doubles back. Bunny only has the time to think what now? before Jack slams into him.
Two arms come around his midriff and before he realizes what's going on, Jack has hugged him and chirped "Thanks for everything, Bunny!" into his ear before running to Tabe and dragging him out of the Warren.
Left alone, Bunny blinks and a slow smile makes its way across his face.