My Dr. Pepper tastes a little flat this time around, guys. I'm proud of myself for completing a story but at the same time, so sad it had to end. Nonetheless, here is the final chapter and I hope it's lived up to your expectations.
Disclaimer: William Joyce is a master genius who created these characters, and Dreamworks were the artists who brought them to the television screen. I'm very thankful for all of these peoples' hard work and acknowledge that they own Rise of the Guardians. I don't.
When I dropped down in Burgess, everything looked the same: relatively normal. People walked about, carrying groceries and talking on the phone. Kids ran around, laughing and playing. I began to get angry, thinking Phil played me. Having no idea where else the guardians might be, I prepared to go back to the air, teaching Phil a lesson when I returned to Santof Claussen.
Suddenly, a variety of screams, followed by an explosion, caught my attention. I looked to the direction it came from and found a puff of black smoke rising up into the sky from the woods...about where my lake should be.
"No way." I whispered in disbelief, taking to the air and rushing off toward it. Upon arrival, I found several trees lit up in a blaze of raging fire. I noticed immediately that each guardian was present, as well as a fair share of yetis and sentinels, none of them noticing me as they fought against evil spirits. I raised my staff suddenly when one flew at me, wielding a sword. I froze the blade irreversably and hit it, shattering the entire thing, knocking her into one of the fires. When a male charged at me with a fierce scream, I knocked him to the ground, several feet below, watching as his body disappeared in a puff of smoke upon death. I landed on the ground, continuing to fight, throwing all my anger and skill into each attack, blow and kill.
Not too soon after, the plentiful crowd of angry spirits had diminished significantly, only a few remaining. When North finished with his last opponent, he looked up and noticed me. Obvious rage stood out on his face. I glared right back, feeling betrayed by him. I'd been straight with him-told him who had killed me and that I had wanted to be a part in the avengement, and what had he done? Stood by and allowed me to be locked away in a room like a petulent child. At that moment, I didn't care what the hell the Russian thought.
Seeing a glimpse of movement from my periphial vision, I glanced at the object. Scurrying out of a decent-sized hole was Groundhog, looking astonished at the fact that his 'warriors' had been defeated. He surveyed the sight before him, turning toward me and freezing when recognition hit. I knew exactly what he was thinking. He'd thought I was stilll dead and almost couldn't fathom the fact that I stood there, a few yards away, a menacing look on my face. He shook his head, his fear greater, no doubt knowing I meant to exact revenge.
I stalked toward him slowly, aware he couldn't fly and, really, had nowhere to go. By the way he just stood there, cowering against the wall of a cliff, I knew he knew it, too.
"Jack, no!" Bunny's voice reached my ears as he noticed for the first time that I was present. "Don't!" I could hear as he struggled to get to me, probably being held back by a few yetis. I ignored him, though, gaze fixed on the disgusting furball before me...that is, as mush as one can ignore their significant other. Without warning, I took to the air, flying over to Groundhog and dropping down right in front of him.
Standing there above him as he curled in a ball, I felt the impact of that moment. The importance. I'd been waiting for that very opportunity for seventeen long years; I just hadn't conciously remembered for most of that time.
This was my one chance. I had to get it right.
"Kozmotis Pitchiner." I whispered, knowing with all the fear Groundhog was exuding that the man would be nearby. With the name I muttered, the rodent's eyes got even larger.
"Yes, Jack?" Pitch asked, stepping out from behind a tree a couple of yards away, an evil smile on his face.
"Your son will continue your work." I adressed Groundhog, then turned to Pitch. "He's all yours." I took a few steps back, waving my arm at the murderous being.
"No!" Groundhog screamed as nightmares charged toward him, taking firm hold of the rodent's fur and pulling him off into the woods.
"Thank you, Jack." Pitch said sincerely, slinking backward into the shadows. "One day I should return a favor." His voice said from every direction, ringing out in the open space. Everything was silent for a moment as we stood there in the peace of it all.
I felt avenged.
I felt whole and innocent once again, instead of tarnished by the wicked death I'd been dealt. Warmth spread throughout me as I found myself pleased with my decision. Pitch would live off of Groundhog's fear until it wasn't enough any more, dropping him off wherever he saw fit, the furball drained of enough energy to bother with evil deeds, instead focusing on finding a stable home and getting much-needed rest.
"I'm proud of you, Jack. That was good decision, better than I could have hoped." North told me calmly, trying for comfort and, perhaps, trying to get back into my good graces. I just stared at him for a moment with a blank expression, before taking a few steps back.
"I'll see you at the pole." I dismissed his words, still hurt by his actions.
"Jack-" Aster started, walking toward me, his footsteps audible.
"Don't follow me." I told the pooka firmly, letting him know I was just as upset with him. With that, I took to the air.
That night, there was a knock on my bedroom door. I sat on my bed, legs up against my chest and arms wrapped around my legs. I'd been like that since returning, several hours earlier, immediately locking the window and door to prevent any unwanted guests.
"Yes?" I called back calmly.
"Dinnertime." The Australian accent answered.
"I'm not hungry." I called back just as calmly as the first time.
"Jack, please eat somethin'." He plead.
"Aster. I'm not hungry." My tone left no room for argument, serene, but firm. I heard a sigh from the other side of the door.
"Okay. But if ya change your mind, we'd love ta have ya." He relayed. I stayed silent, not really having an appropriate answer. I heard him sigh again before walking away.
I wasn't gonna stay mad at them forever. I knew that. I just needed a little more time to forgive them, to get over the way they'd betrayed me. It wasn't even all of them I was upset with. Tooth and Sandy had had no part in the matter; it had been entirely the other two.
And yet, much to my own disappointment, I'd found that not long after I'd arrived back at Santof Claussen, my anger had dissipated. That fact scared me a bit, knowing I couldn't stay mad at the two most important men in my life. Nonetheless, I also knew that staying mad at them would have been pointless. They'd tricked me with good intentions, trying to protect me. Aware that they'd meant well, possibly, might have been the real reason I couldn't be angry for very long.
In the morning, I decided. I'll talk to them in the morning.
The next morning, I went to the kitchen and got some fruit, not wanting to linger long enough to be cornered by either male. I waited a bit in a nestled hidey-hole as I ate the fruit, waiting just long enough until I was ready to find them-most likely together, I knew, trying to find comfort with their actions with the other. It was so them, worrying if they'd made a mistake, needing reassurance.
I found them in North's makeshift living room, facing the fireplace, talking softly to each other, which was strange since they were both usually pretty loud and outgoing.
"Okay." I said, standing behind them. Both their heads shot up to look at me, obvious surprise in each face. "I'm ready to talk." I nodded, looking between them.
"Jack-" they both started to say simultaneously, cutting off when realizing the other was trying to speak.
"I'll start." I suggested, taking an open chair and getting comfortable. They both watched me expectantly, entirely attentive. "You both hurt me." I stated simply, shrugging. When they each opened their mouths to speak, I held my hand up, effectively cutting them off. "No. I need to say this." I said firmly. "You both hurt me; you betrayed my wishes. Now, I love both of you-in entirely different ways-yet love you, nonetheless. And I know you love me. I understand your intentions were good, and that you only meant to protect me, but you went completely the wrong way about it." I felt tears start to prick my eyes and my throat begin to swell. Both men seemed to immediately notice this, regret and guilt in their eyes.
"I saw that headstone out back." I commented, keeping the tears at bay. "So I know you're both perfectly aware that I'm nearly three hundred and fifty years old. I am not a child and hate being treated like one, alright? I'm a guardian, that means that being put in dangerous situations and taking risks is a job description for me." I pointed out. "North, I don't ask you to refrain from spreading presents around the world because your sleigh could crash, and Aster, I don't forbid you from hiding eggs on Easter because one of your enemies could attack you. So asking me to stop from taking part in such in important aspect of my life-as your holidays are to yours-is just..." I trailed off, not able to finish, feeling the tears begin to fall down my cheeks. I looked away, wiping at them and chuckling. "I'm sorry, guys. I thought I was more put together than this."
"No, Jack. Ya have every right ta be upset." Aster soothed softly.
"Yes, and you are right. We were wrong to have treated you as child, instead of adult you are." North appeased, sincere.
"Can ya forgive me?" The pooka wondered. I nodded, wiping away the last of the tears.
"I forgive you, but you have to promise me you'll never do anything like this again." I stated. "Both of you." I eyed my grandfather-figure.
"We promise." They answered solemly at the same time.
"Jack, can I speak with you?" North asked a while later. I nodded, taking a break from doing the dishes.
"Yeah. What's up?" I wondered.
"Well, I been thinking about you a lot lately, and all the unanswered questions of rebirth and return of memory...and I have a few theories." This caught my attention.
"Really?" I asked interestedly. "Let's hear 'em." I waved toward him in welcome.
"Well, maybe incident of second death had as much to do with you as Groundhog. For example, just a few months after your demise, you were born to Overlands-your original family. Now, Groundhog represents the changing from winter to spring, so when you were shot-"
"I didn't actually die, just became a human, spring version of myself." I realized. North nodded proudly. "Okay." I conceded. "Answer this, big man: why did I wake up and remember everything the other day? Just out of the blue?"
"Well, was other day the same day you drowned in lake, attempting to save sister all those years ago?" He questioned, already knowing the answer. "Your date of rebirth?" He suggested. "Therefore, when the seventeenth year of that day occured, you returned to former self." He explained. "Just like three hundred and eighteen years ago."
"How come Manny couldn't point you four in the direction of my killer?" I challenged.
"Groundhog's attack was premeditated. He lured you to hidden area in middle of day so Manny would not witness murder. Man in Moon never knew who killer was." He shrugged, as if it was obvious. Thinking back, I realized it might have been.
"Are ya sure ya want to do this, Snowflake?" Aster asked, once again in his human form so as not to scare or intimidate anyone.
"I'm sure." I answered, ringing the doorbell with a sigh. He kissed me on the forehead in love and support. When the door opened, Sarah Overland stood in the doorway, astonishment so clear in her face. Not just at the man standing with his arm around my waist, but my appearance. The dead-pale skin, blue eyes and white hair was a bit shocking to her system. "Hi, Mom." I greeted with a smile, thankful that even in the tragic incident of my second death, I'd been given my family back.
"Come in." She stepped aside and motioned us in. I pulled Aster with me to the living room, sitting down on the couch, Mom taking the armchair. Before I could say anything, a female girl's voice rang out in the room.
"Mom-" My head snapped up at the doorway, finding Pippa there. My little sister's gaze set on us before realization sunk in. "Jack?!" She exclaimed. I held my arms out for her to rush into them. I held her for just a moment, appreciating I'd been given another chance with her. She pulled back, sitting in the other armchair. "Dad said that you ran off-that you weren't coming back." She told me, the sadness so obvious in her features.
"Would I ever do that to you?" I asked with a loving smile. She smiled back, relieved, shaking her head and wiping tears away.
"But I do have something to tell you." I admitted, taking Aster's hand, needing the support for what I was about to do. Both girls noticed that.
"What?" Mom's eyes shot back up to mine, attentive.
"The truth." I nodded. "The whole truth." My mom settled into her chair, getting comfortable.
"Alright. Let's have it." She encouraged. I sighed, chuckling and playing with my hair.
"You're gonna think I'm nuts..." I started.
Oh my gosh! I'm feeling hysterical and sad and happy all at the same time. I worked hard to wrap everything up and portray emotions correctly. I wanted to answer as many questions as possible and entertain to the best of my abilities. I hope everyone walked away from this feeling that everything intertwined and made sense. I'm thankful for everyone who took time to review and tell me their thoughts, as well as those who favorite and followed the story, so thanks you guys. If it isn't too much to ask, I'd really like one last review telling me what you thought of the story as a whole :l ;) xD
P.S-I've began thinking about a sequel and everything that could happen and am optimistic that I can do it. If anyone is interested, please tell me.