A/N: Okay, so I don't know if I'm entirely happy with this ending...but well, it's what came out as I was writing and I like it, even if I'm not really happy with it, if that makes sense. I do feel it ends rather abruptly and for that I am sorry. I've felt done with this story for a while and found that I needed to just end it instead of dragging it on and on and on. Plus, I have another idea in the works, so keep an eye out for more stories. I am officially done with any story relating to Broken though. I feel I have explored that idea enough. Wind might make more appearances and she might not. I guess it depends.
Anyways, I hope you enjoy this! And if not, sorry to disappoint you all!
Disclaimer: I do not own Rise of the Guardians.
North paced back and forth in front of the fire in his workshop, fretting over the recent flight of Jack and Sandy. Bunny stood off to one side, watching the large Cossack pace as he tapped a foot impatiently against the floor. Tooth fluttered by the window, her eyes never leaving the horizon as she searched for the others to return.
"Why don't we just go after 'em?" Bunny asked, pushing away from the wall to walk over by North.
"You saw Sandy," Tooth said, eyes still not leaving the window. "He was very clear that we were to stay here."
"Yeah, what's he gonna do if we don't?" Bunny asked.
"No, Tooth is right," North said with a sigh, collapsing into one of the big armchairs. "We messed up, badly."
"Says who?" Bunny asked.
Tooth finally glanced at the others. From Bunny's tone and words it would seem he was angry, annoyed even, at what had taken place. But she could see the worry and regret in his eyes. He felt just as bad as they did that they had pushed Jack away. Again.
Tooth shook her head and turned back to the window.
"We'll just have to wait until they return," she said softly.
"Well, well, well, on the outs again with the little frost spirit?"
All three turned to the new voice in the room, eyes widening in shock.
"Can't say that I blame you; he was never meant to be close to anyone."
"Pitch," Tooth hissed, glaring at the man who leaned against a wall, shrouded in shadow.
"Yes, that's me," Pitch said, contemplating his nails.
North and Bunny moved towards the boogeyman, drawing weapons as they did so. Pitch twisted in the shadows and disappeared, reappearing in another corner. He tutted.
"Is that any way to greet an old friend?"
"You're no friend of ours," Bunny said, attacking with a boomerang. Pitch disappeared once more, reappearing by the window in which Tooth kept watch for the others.
"Such a shame," he said, whispering in her ear. Tooth spun, ready to attack, but he was already gone. "You guys seemed to get on famously."
"Quit your hiding and come out and fight like a man," Bunny growled.
"But why would I do that?" Pitch asked, standing up in the rafters, which was a favorite place of Jack's. Seeing Pitch up there infuriated the Guardians. "It's much more fun to play unfair."
Several Nightmares appeared out of the shadows, tossing their heads and snorting, their red eyes glowing. The Nightmares approached the three Guardians as Pitch watched on, grinning.
Tooth glanced out the window once more, an act that Pitch caught sight of. His grin widened.
"Oh, I wouldn't go hoping that Frost and the little man will make it," he said idly as North fought off a Nightmare, reducing it to black sand. "They had a, ah, prior engagement."
"What did you do?" North demanded. He wondered how Pitch had gained back so much strength so quickly. It had only been a year since they had defeated him, and yet he seemed to have recovered quite of lot of his power.
"Oh," Pitch grinned, an expression that sent shudders down the spines of the three fighting the Nightmares and increased their worry for their youngest member. But Jack was with Sandy, so he should be okay. Right? "Just a little re-oomph."
Guardians and Nightmares alike blinked in shock as Pitch was slammed forcefully down from the rafters and into the wall beside the fireplace. The boogeyman fought to rise, but he seemed to be struggling against some invisible force.
Frost crept in through the open windows, spreading like spilled milk over the floor and encasing the still stunned Nightmares. Golden dreamsand whipped its way in with the frost, taking out those Nightmares who had sense enough to dance away from the frost.
"What is-" Pitch continued to struggle against his unseen captor as the Guardians grinned.
Both Jack and Sandy appeared in the window, looking over the scene to check that the others were okay. Sandy looked furious, his eyes, once assured that his fellow Guardians and friends were safe, locked onto Pitch. Jack looked a little mused. His hair was messier than normal and he had a small cut on his cheek.
"I really would stop fighting, if I were you," Jack said, although it came out in the strange double voice, as if someone else were speaking with Jack.
"How did you escape?" Pitch growled, not ceasing in his struggles.
Jack and Sandy remained framed in the window as they watched the boogeyman.
"If you thought we'd be taken out by a couple of your allies, you thought wrong," Jack said.
The surprise attack on their way back to Santoff Claussen was a shock and had caught Sandy, Jack, and Wind off guard, not having expected Pitch to make a comeback quite so soon. The fact that Pitch left the fight to a few of his Nightmares and two of the lesser boogeymen only proved that he had yet to recover his full strength. Jack had gotten the scratch to his face in the initial attack, where he had been pinned down until he had Connected with Wind. Sandy had been pinned as well, but managed to escape just as Jack freed himself with Wind's help. After that, it had been a rather simple matter to take care of their attackers. With the deep freeze they were now in, they wouldn't be darkening any doorways or hiding in closets anytime soon.
Sandy was slightly worried at the fact that Jack and Wind had Connected – he hadn't forgotten the story of the other spirits who had held the same bond – but there was little he could do once the deed was done. He just hoped his friends wouldn't burn up because of this.
"Besides," Jack continued. "Your Nightmares are hardly frightening."
Pitch stopped struggling to stare at Jack, wondering just what the dual voice coming from the boy meant. He'd never heard of such a thing before. It didn't matter, though. No one insulted him and got away with it.
"That's better," Jack said, voice echoing with Wind's as Pitch's struggling stopped. Jack leveled his best glare at the boogeyman and there was no playfulness or fun reflected in them. "I would advise you leave now, and never bother us again."
Pitch nodded, feeling the strange bonds that had held him release him. "Of course, Jack," Pitch said, turning towards the shadows.
"Jack!" North, Tooth, and Bunny shouted, sensing the boogeyman's intentions.
A wave of darkness rushed towards Jack and Sandy, rising to fill the whole room between the two Guardians and Pitch. The roar of the power was almost deafening, but it never touched the two Guardians.
Like sand flowing through an hourglass the darkness twisted and swirled harmlessly past Jack and Sandy and out the open windows to be whisked apart by the wind. Jack lowered his hand as the last of the power dissipated into the sky.
Pitch moved to retreat, and found himself unable to as a golden whip wrapped around his waist and yanked him off balance. North, Bunny, and Tooth all surrounded the boogeyman as he struggled back to his feet.
"You hold no power here," North said.
Pitch glanced at each of the Guardians, backing away from the semicircle they made around him.
"This isn't over," he hissed, glaring at them. "You haven't won."
A flash of blue white ice lashed out at Pitch, forcing him to stumble backwards or be iced over. Without a further word, the boogeyman twisted in the shadows and was gone.
North, Bunny, and Tooth turned to see Jack, now standing on the floor of the workshop, addressing a transparent woman, her dress whipping in a breeze that was not present.
Anytime, Wind replied, her voice audible to all the Guardians.
"I don't believe it," Bunny said, eyes wide and staring. "You were telling the truth."
"Of course I was," Jack said, words slurring together as the toll of combined powers took hold and darkness washed over his vision. "I don't lie about things like that."
Jack crumpled to the ground after making that statement and the figure made of wind – Wind, the Guardians acknowledged – vanished.
"Jack!" Tooth cried out, rushing over to the fallen winter spirit, worry plain on her face. North and Bunny were not far behind; not knowing what damage Jack had taken before showing up here to help them defeat Pitch.
Sandy informed his worried companions that Jack and Wind were merely resting after having expended so much power, and that the only injury Jack had sustained had been the scratch to his cheek.
Jack was only unconscious for a day this time, but remained in bed on the second day as his fellow Guardians surrounded him and peppered him with questions. Despite having seen and heard Wind the day previous, the others, apart from Sandy, still had a difficult time in grasping the fact that Wind had a personality of her own.
Well, at least they had difficulty with that fact until Wind forced all the windows in Jack's room open, swirling inside with her full power and dumping the three disbelieving Guardians from their chairs. When Bunny, North, and Tooth had made complaints to Jack about the treatment, Jack had laughed.
"It wasn't me," he said, light dancing in his eyes, turning them a crystalline blue. "Wind's the one you offended."
"She's really real," North said, wonder in his voice.
"Ah, come on North," Jack said, smiling. "All you need to do is believe."
"And of course I'm real," Wind said, kicking up a flurry of snow into the Guardians' faces and making Jack laugh as his friends spluttered from the cold.
Sandy made several pictures appear over his head in rapid succession, making both Jack and Wind laugh harder.
You're right, Wind said, settling on the bed beside her boy and tousling his hair. I am spending too much time with Jack.
The Guardians heard this declaration and began to laugh as Jack protested, a smile on his lips.
North caught sight of that smile, the relaxed way Jack was sitting, and the fact that he had finally trusted them all enough to let them in, and smiled himself. The nightmare he had had at the start of it all, the one planted in his mind while locked up by the evil Bloody Bones, flashed in his vision. Only this time he realized something. There was nothing to that nightmare, nothing to fear from it. Because North would never do something like that to Jack. Never. And even if he tried, North figured there would always be at least one spirit stopping him from succeeding. And by the looks of it, that would be Wind, and North never wanted to be on her bad side.
Bunny, too, was pondering his own Nightmare, coming to terms with what it was, nothing more than evil thoughts forced into his brain. He would never do such a thing to the boy he considered his younger brother, even the thought of it made him sick. And now Bunny was fairly certain he would never be able to, no matter what happened in the future. Jack just seemed to be that lucky in friends.
Sandy brushed his nightmare with golden sand, turning the vision of Jack being consumed by Sandy's power into one where they roamed the earth together, creating wonders like the golden snow and figure skaters they had played with when Jack had fled the other Guardians. Jack was family to Sandy, and there was no way he would ever let anything happen to his family.
Tooth pondered her own nightmare, realizing that accomplishing such a task would be impossible as long as Jack was friends with Wind. Wind would never let Tooth continue to fly over the ocean as she drowned Jack, not that Tooth would even want to. She pushed that nightmare from her mind one last time, laughing at Jack's flustered face. She felt her own cheeks heat up as his eyes caught hers and held, felt her heart flutter in her chest, and wondered what would happen between them. A part of her regretted she hadn't kissed Jack that night she'd watched over him, but it was a very small part. She found she was content to stay friends with Jack, to learn more about him. At least, for now. And perhaps, as time passed and they got to know each other better, perhaps something more would form between them. But for now, Tooth would let sleeping dogs lie, as the saying went, and would wait for time to make things more clear to her and her heart.
Jack laughed with his friends, shrugging out of North's hold as the large Cossack knuckled his hair. He felt at peace with his family now that he had told them everything and answered their questions. He felt comfortable. He felt like he had finally found a home.
'You know, Wind,' Jack thought to Wind, able to communicate with her through thought now, even when they were not Connected.
What, Jack? Wind asked.
'I think we're going to be okay.'