First phase (1)

Panic

Burgess, 1710

Spring's grip was settling in on the region already. Jack groaned to himself, twirling his staff absently. He had to leave the area again? Couldn't it just be winter here all the time? This was his home. He should be able to have whatever season he liked. His gut wrenched unexpectedly and he grimaced. It felt like that whenever he was in a place that wasn't winter. He didn't like it and wanted to move on, but didn't want to be dismissed from his own home in this manner. There shouldn't be any reason why he should be dismissed, really.

This was the third time it had happened now. He would have complained except no one would listen. No one ever did. So he kept to himself and amused others, finding their astonishment and amazement at the frost patterns on the ground and the amount of snowfall a gift in itself. Maybe he had to move on, but they didn't and he would ensure they enjoyed his presence even if they didn't know it was him. It was the closest he was ever going to get to being acknowledged at this rate. He had been trying for three years and no one had even so much as glanced at him.

Oh, whatever. If no one was going to care, he might as well not leave.

-.-.-.-

The first few weeks were fine.

The two weeks after that were uncomfortable.

The two weeks after that were downright dreadful.

Jack groaned, leaning his head back against a tree. With the snow gone, it was much harder to start a snowball fight. Throwing mud at people just wasn't the same. It wasn't funny then – it was humiliating. He stopped doing that after the first day. He couldn't skate around the pond, drawing frost patterns all over it. To warm up one section of the pond was hard if the rest of the area wasn't frozen as well. He didn't know why, but he was hesitant to try and disturb the way it looked like things were supposed to go. Freezing the entire pond seemed to fall in that category.

He had seen some small sprites wandering around his pond. They had taken one look at him and run off, clearly disturbed at having a winter spirit around when he was clearly out of season. He hadn't seen a single seasonal creature after that, but he wasn't sure what to make of the absence of life. If they knew he was here, why wouldn't they come by again to see who he was? Was there something about him that just made them immediately distrust him?

This whole idea had been a bad one. He couldn't stand the heat. There was nothing to do. No one was enjoying anything he did. There was absolutely no point in him being here. The more he thought about it, the more he wanted to move on.

And so he did. He left for the south part of New Zealand and enjoyed the cool temperatures there. For a week, he spread snow around and made people enjoy the season. But that uncomfortable month and a half lingered in the back of his mind, as well as the sprites that had been around his pond. Sprites didn't go somewhere that was territory of another. Did they not know it was his? Did other sprites just wander around his pond when he wasn't there? The thought was disturbing.

That was why he found himself back in Burgess just a little while later, staring at the pond. His gut was doing all kinds of interesting things, trying to make him leave. He was undeterred, determined to do something about this. This was where he wanted to live. Even if he wasn't here all the time, it was still his place and he wanted to be able to return to it as he should. Wasn't that fair?

So he froze the pond and he froze the trees. Instead of focusing and using technique to keep the area cool, he made it all freezing cold. It was much more enjoyable this way, wasn't it? He skated and spun through the air, content to be back in his element. The wind wrapped around him, although it seemed more hesitant than usual. He was still getting used to the wind carrying him around. He wasn't sure what to make of it so he simply didn't think about it.

He was sitting in the boughs of one of the trees, looking down at the pond below. Some of his best works of frost were there, he thought. To be honest, though, he always thought that the ones he had just made were his best. He smiled and leaned back, thinking for a moment about what to do next. He opened his eyes and looked down again, preparing to put his new ideas into motion.

A cold gaze met his.

He stopped, pausing as his entire body locked into place. Without even thinking about it, he knew this person was here because he had done something wrong. This person was wrapped in a cloak, head hidden in the grey wool. He seemed innocuous enough, not giving off any sort of feeling or emotion other than age and cold. His hands were hidden in his cloak, but Jack knew they would have a grey tinge to him, just like the rest did. His cowl wasn't tilted up in any way but it seemed like he was staring at Jack all the same. There were eyes looking at him even if he couldn't see them.

Jack dropped down onto the ground despite every instinct he had. This was the first person who had looked at him in three years and he was not about to let a little dread and creepiness get in the way of that. He grinned, trying to push back any tentativeness although he was sure it showed through. "You aren't from Spring," he said cheerfully, leaning against his staff. "I-"

"No, but she is coming for you."

Jack paused, frowning. "Coming for me?"

"You cannot be here, Frost. This is not where you are allowed. Go back to New Zealand. I will not warn you again."

Jack shook his head. "No. I tried, but… This is my home. Why should I leave it when it's mine?"

"Your home it may be. That does not mean you belong here all year round. Do you know who I am?"

Jack paused, thinking about it for a few seconds. "They call you Old Man Winter, don't they?"

"They do. Why do you think I am here?"

"I suppose I'm in trouble for being in Spring's territory."

"Spring is coming to punish you," Old Man Winter said in his dead voice. "Do you know what Spring does to her victims?"

"I really don't want to know," Jack said nervously.

"Do you know why she is coming?"

"Because she is irritated I'm in her zone?"

Old Man Winter remained silent for a few seconds. Jack tilted his head to the side curiously. He started to speak but stopped, breath no longer passing through his throat. His eyes widened in realization and he looked at his elder, not sure why this was happening. Old Man Winter continued to say nothing, even as Jack's legs collapsed beneath him. He didn't speak when the ice from the pond folded in on itself, climbing over to Jack and wrapping itself painfully around him. There was silence in the pond as the ice turned into sharp points and stabbed him repeatedly. No sound could be heard except for thuds as winter sprites, tall and willowy with the strength of the strongest trees, moved forward and hit him with oak branches.

"She is furious because you have broken the law that was set down between the seasons. You have caused her pain and have dishonored us. Do not be so foolish as to do so again. If you should make such a mistake one more time, you will never have pain inflicted upon you by another season. It will always be by my hand. We are not allies. We just happen to both be of Winter breed. Any misfortune you bring upon yourself leads to distrust and a lack of cooperation between the seasons. Your pain is worth avoiding that."

Jack wasn't sure when exactly he left, but he knew that Old Man Winter was gone long before the winter sprites finally finished their work.

-.-.-.-.-

a/n: I'll start by saying I shouldn't be writing this. I'm working on two other stories (Deal Breaker, a Rise of the Guardians and Avengers crossover, and Crosscurrent, a Rise of the Guardians human!AU that is being written and will be flippin' EPIC by the time it's done) and need to finish a third, but this little plot idea has been eating the back of my brain for a while and it has to be written. I usually try to write more than 3k words for each chapter, but these are not being written as I usually would write them so they're going to be at odd lengths. Some will be shorter and some longer. Just about all the phases have a reason for why I'm including them, even if you can't see it yet. It'll all conclude in a finale involving Bunny.

It's going to be written a little oddly and I've never done something like this before, so please let me know how it works out from the reader's perspective. It's going to be done in phases. Each phase is one of the problems he gets himself into and any aftershocks caused by the problem itself or from him trying to fix the problem. (Let's face it. Things are never fixed the first time. I was messing around with a friend and broke a board thing in the couch. Then I learned he lost his wallet and I was pretty sure it was in the couch so I cut open a part of the underside to try and get it out. [TO MY TWIN: What happens and is said on fanfiction. Net, STAYS on fanfiction. net!])

I did not like this chapter but it needed to be written because his relationship with Old Man Winter needs to be understood for this phase. Jack seems childish because he's only been around as a spirit for three years. In the next chapter, two decades will have passed and he'll seem older. But because I don't like this chapter, I'm posting it at the1 same time as the second chapter.