Woulda, shoulda, coulda


Sometimes, when the sun is high above and he is ruled less by instinct than scheme, he languishes in the deepest shadows and thinks he should have been mine.

He's known Jack Frost for centuries. He has known of him since before the boy was raised, of course – Jokul Frosti, Old Man Winter; they were names bandied about long before the English took him on and the Moon gave him form enough to breathe. He'd never paid him much attention though. He was just another seasonal spirit. Odd, in that he had strength enough to have form and identity beyond his seasonal power, but not altogether unusual.

But oh, he'd known him.

Not just as a scared boy, or a lost spirit, or a cry on the wind. He'd known him as the one who brought cold nights and dark days. The one who could make the wind howl and rattle even the tightest windows. The one who taught children there was plenty to fear in the bright, white snow.

If only he hadn't been so obsessed with making them smile.

Jack Frost should have been the one to keep the children safe with fear. If only Pitch had seen it before.

He should have been mine.

It would have been easy, he realises months later, as he skulks through Burgess and overhears Jack speaking to his precious little believer. It would have been so easy, if he hadn't baited Jack.

He shouldn't have played on his weakness. Shouldn't have ignored him.

"I'm giving the children a level playing field," he should have said. "Giving them a chance to think for themselves. If the Tooth Fairy is so wonderful, let the children believe unbribed."

Because that, he and Jack both know, is what the coins are. What the presents and the eggs and the oh so sweet dreams are. Bribery. Payment for services. For belief, and wonder, and hope.

Jack scoffs at the idea of him doing the same, and tosses a shepherd's crook full of snow at his little believer. He doesn't bribe children. He finds the idea a little repulsive.

It would have been easy!

It would have been honest, he thinks a year later, as Jack drops to his knees next to a broken, shivering woman.

She will not survive the night. Not with nowhere to go, this winter chill, and the wounds on her ribs. She will die, and Jack Frost will not save her, even if he could.

The guardians spin their pretty tales and act like the world is only full of goodness. They speak as if Pitch is the only darkness in the world; that he is all there is to fear.

"You know better," he should have said. "You know that there is so much to fear. So much that dreams and happy thoughts will not protect them from."

Jack Frost brings blizzards and ice. His own former life came to an end because of the danger he can create. Even now, he warns his believers against himself, to carry gloves and scarves and don't go on the ice, it's not thick enough!

Fear is a teacher. Frost could have been the same.

He should have been honest.

Time is not so swift for those who know eternity is possible, and Jack is struggling to tolerate the guardians' incessant friendship. It is too much after too little and he needs more than a couple of years to feel as comfortable as they want.

He is angry, today. With himself, with them, with everything. He takes his anger out on a large settlement in Korea. Pitch watches from a shadowed doorway and thinks…

It could have been glorious.

But, he remembers, as Jack's eyes glow white, clearly visible through the snow-blind and the wind, he did not whisper sweet nothings or truths. He did not beckon until he had already broken. It would have been fine with another, but for a boy who had spent three hundred years building scar tissue, it had been foolish.

But still, as shards of ice crack windows, and children cower in their parents' arms, strong windows rattling in the wind and frost creeping under cracks in the doors, Pitch can't help but think, if only he had done things differently…

It could have been glorious.

There are some amazing fanvids on YouTube, by the way, which re-edit the scenes into dark!Jack. So scary and awesome.