A/N: Alright, so I had so many requests to do this that I finally decided to follow through with it. I just hope it lives up to you expectations! This is an alternate ending to the sixth chapter of Broken, but I've tried to make it so it could be read as a stand alone. However, it will probably make a lot more sense if you read Broken, and FrostFeathers will also play a part.
Disclaimer: I do not own Rise of the Guardians
"If you break that, I will let you go."
Bloody Bones' offer hung in the air like a bad smell as the Guardians looked at each other and thought about what to do. Occasionally, one of them offered a half-hearted solution to their problem as the heat of the room drained their energy just as surely as the cages drained their power.
"That won't work either," Bunny said, shooting down yet another idea listlessly.
"I have nothing else, then," North said, looking defeated.
"Me either," Bunny sighed. Sandy shook his head and Tooth looked close to tears. Jack was wracking his brain, but he knew there was nothing any of them could do.
He bit his lip, before forcing down his apprehension. He could do this, for them, for his family.
"Hand me my staff," Jack said, reaching through the bars for it.
"No Jack," North said. "We won't break it."
"We don't want to hurt ya, mate," Bunny said.
"But there's no other way out," Jack said. "And…and you won't be the ones hurting me, I'll be the one doing it."
"Jack," Tooth said. "That's just as bad."
"If not worse," Bunny muttered.
"Please," Jack said, looking at them, begging them. "Please. Let me do this for you. I'll be okay, I promise. Just, please let me do this. It's my fault we're here in the first place."
"Not true," North said. "You were just doing Guardian job, even before you were Guardian. Is all our fault."
"Still," Jack said. "We don't have another choice."
The others looked at each other. They knew they were out of options, they knew breaking Jack's staff was the only chance they had of getting out of there, but they couldn't do it. They couldn't betray Jack like that. Had promised themselves they wouldn't.
And no matter what Jack said, it would be a betrayal, just like Bloody Bones wanted. And none of them wanted to do that to Jack. None of them wanted to hurt him more than he had been hurt in his life.
But then they heard something they weren't expecting.
"Please," Jack whispered, sounding utterly defeated. "I can't be here anymore."
And that broken plea did it. It was obvious to the others that Jack was not handling being caged here well at all. Not only were the cages sapping their powers, but the heat was stifling to them, which meant it had to be unbearable to the winter spirit.
A glance at Jack confirmed this as they noticed his flushed cheeks, fever bright eyes, and continuous trembling. Even if they didn't break his staff, North wondered how much longer the winter spirit could last in these conditions.
"Alright mate," Bunny said, reluctantly picking up the staff. "Just, promise you'll be okay, right?"
"I promise," Jack said, although with how weak he felt, how drained, he wasn't sure if that was true. But if it got his family out of there, he would do it, even if it killed him.
Jack reached for his staff once more.
"Oh Jack," Tooth said. "We're not going to make you do it."
Jack was surprised at how well they seemed to understand his connection with the staff and the wind, even if they didn't know the extent of it. Jack was prepared to break it, but he knew it would cost him dearly, because that staff represented a friendship that had lasted through his whole life. Jack was prepared to break it, but he knew that it would be like ripping out his own heart.
"We'll get you out mate, we promise," Bunny said, twirling the fragile wood in his paws. Sandy nodded in agreement.
"Alright," North said. "Let's get this done quickly, so we can all go home."
Jack watched anxiously as North took one end and Bunny held the other. Tooth and Sandy stood off to the side and Jack met their gazes briefly before turning back to stare at his staff. Apprehension filled him as North began the count down.
"Two," Bunny continued.
"Three," North and Bunny said together. Together they bent the staff, fast, until it split in half. All four winced at the resounding crack, echoing like gunfire, and waited for the cry of pain that would surely follow.
But it never came.
Four pairs of eyes darted from the broken staff to the smaller cage that contained their youngest member.
For Jack, the break had been the worst he had experienced and he wasn't sure if it was because he was already weakened by the cage, the staff had been broken so often, or a combinations of the two. Or it could've been something else entirely.
But right then, Jack didn't care about the reason why. His breath caught in his throat, his vision blurred, and it felt as though someone had poured molten lava over his heart to run rampant in his veins. He tried to look up at his friends, his family, to assure them everything would be okay, but his vision went white and he knew no more.