AN: First splash in this fandom! Note, this is crossposted with my AO3 account.
Know how sublime a thing it is
To suffer and be strong.
-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, The Light of the Stars in Voices of the Night, 1839
"Jack? What's taking you so long? Jamie and—"
Jack jumped, the glossy pages slipping from his fingers as he dropped the Victoria's Secret catalog. It landed rumpled on the table, but Jack paid it no mind as he turned around, stuffing his hands in his pockets and smiling at the nineteen year old in front of him. "Hey Cupcake."
Cadence "Cupcake" Miller rolled her eyes fondly, crossing her arms over her chest. She flicked her gaze across Jack's face, and he firmly hoped he was projecting the kind of nonchalance that would assure her that no, of course he hadn't been reading that!
"Were you looking at women's lingerie?" Apparently he wasn't. Jack's smile stiffened at the corners, but rather than wait for his answer she continued, "Why were you looking at women's lingerie?"
"Just curious." He shrugged, focusing his attention on her forehead. It was hard to play it cool when you couldn't muster up the courage to look someone in the eye. "You know, pretty girls and stuff. I am a guy after all." That last line hadn't come out nearly as cocksure as it had sounded in his head.
"Jack, you're not the type to perve on girls in a Victoria's Secret catalog." She paused, face pinching in thought. "Or girls in general, for that matter."
That made him jolt. "What?" Now he did meet her eyes, and the frank honesty proved he would be unable to lie his way out of this truth.
That didn't stop him from trying.
"Psh-aw." He drew a hand out and waved it dismissively. "As if. How could you even tell if that were true?"
Her expression was so unimpressed he could turn diamonds from the air and she wouldn't have cared. "Jack, you can't watch Sherlock without blushing."
He bristled, a cool frosty blush curving over his cheeks in reluctant confirmation. "The man has a Godly voice!" he snapped, and then the blush faded as a sudden wariness turned his eyes downward. "You're not…upset?"
"Why would I be?" Cupcake's arms dropped, and she tried to catch his eye.
Jack gives a small shrug, gaze still firmly on the floor. "Not everyone approves of that sort of thing." When he chances a small glance at her face, the softness that has gentled her usually hard features makes him relax.
"Jack," she says, and there is no room for falseness or cruelty in her tone, "you're my friend. I don't care who you find attractive, as long as it makes you happy."
Jack finally meets her eyes, and the tightness in his frame eases. A grateful smile turns his lips. "Thank you, Cupcake."
She smiles back, before her attention shifts to the rumpled catalog behind him. "Now, about that catalog…"
He rubs the back of his neck self-consciously, his cool form of a blush frosting his cheeks and the bridge of his nose. "It's nothing. I really was just curious." The same 'curious' he's been for the past sixty years, when he first saw a pink and green babydoll hanging on the line in a woman's back yard. The styles had changed a lot since then, for the better, but he can still remember his initial reaction to seeing it, to touching it. Wondering at the light material and how soft it was and what would it feel like against his own skin? The thought had startled him, but it was one that had persisted in the back of his mind ever since, and with the acceptance and open abundance of such things in recent decades, it was a thought that was growing in prominence as well.
Cupcake came to stand beside him, picking up the catalog and thumbing through the pages. Her eyes scanned across the pictures, her gaze assessing when she turned to him. "Do you want one?"
Jack startled. "W-what?"
"Do you want one?" She held up the catalog.
"I…" Jack's eyes searched everywhere but her, his shoulders hunching. He looked hunted. "…yes?" It came out quiet, hesitant and embarrassed.
Cupcake nods, dropping the catalog back onto the table. "Come on, then. We'll go to my house and order it online. More variety, and we can find one you like. Besides, this catalog is Sophie's anyway."
Jack sputters as Cupcake grabs his arm, steering him firmly so he barely has time to grab his staff from where he'd leaned it next to the front door. "What about Jamie?"
She gestured dismissively. "I'll just tell him I had an assignment I forgot to turn in before Christmas break and the professor wants it by tomorrow. Now come on. I think we should look into something blue."
An hour and a half later they have found one he likes, though not in blue. Jack offers to find some way to repay her, but Cupcake refuses.
"It's going to be Christmas in a week, and it should be here before then, so we'll just consider a present, okay? It was on sale anyway."
Jack, still embarrassed but touched, hugs her with all the joy that he is.
She gives him the package the morning before Christmas. He'd just finished putting the white in White Christmas when he stops in to say hi, and she shoves the small clothing box in his hands. He hugs it to his chest like it's something precious—
—and in a way, it is; his first gift in over three hundred years—
—thanks her, and heads to North's. He'd taken to helping out his fellow Guardian on Christmas Eve with the sleigh packing and preparations. It meant something to him that he was trusted enough to help with the precious holiday. (Almost as much as the room North'd had made for him, before Jack had ever said a word about his homelessness. Jack found he spent many a night in that room these days, even with all the traveling he did.) With all the rushing around, Jack doesn't get the chance to open the package until late Christmas night.
North's Christmas parties were a thing to be admired. Considered the party of the year, spirits of all shapes, sizes, and seasons clamored for one of the coveted invitations. The party began the moment North returned Christmas morning from his deliveries, and carried on long into the night.
Jack watches the stumbling, drunken spirits and Gods (the Asgardians could only hold their liquor for so long after Loki spiked the already alcoholic punch), anticipation churning his stomach. Totally sober himself, Jack has no problem warding off those who entreat him to stay when he announces he's heading to bed.
He enters his room on light feet, firmly shutting the door behind him. His staff is set against the wall, and Jack approaches the bed with quiet steps. He pulls the box from its hiding place beneath the bed, and hesitates before opening it. Staring at the box resting innocuously on the blue quilt, he finds doubt beginning to creep along the fringes of his mind.
Jack clenches his trembling fingers into tight fists, summoning up the curiosity, the unexplainable want that has burned in his heart for the past sixty years, and tears open the box before he can completely second guess himself.
The babydoll is black. A black ribbon bow is nestled innocently between two small cups that Jack has no hope of filling, breastless as he is. Slowly, he picks it up by the thin spaghetti straps, letting it hang in his grip. He admires the ruffled edges and fine quality of the material, silky and sheer. It feels delicate in his hands, and his heart gives a few extra thumps at the thought of wearing it himself. He sets it aside for later in favor of the other garment in the box, the one Cupcake had talked him into. He had been more hesitant about the panties than the babydoll, but when Cupcake insisted he had to have the matching set he'd reluctantly allowed her to order them.
They're strange in his hands. Low-cut and covered in rows of ruffles, he feels an unexpected interest perk in his gut at the thought of wearing them; more potent and tangible now that he was actually capable of doing so, and not just imagining it with the picture on a computer screen.
He puts them down and musters up his courage, stripping down until there is nothing left covered. He decides to try the babydoll first, lifting it above his head. It's like water on his frame, rippling and flowing down his skin to rest just on his hips. He stretches his arms above his head, testing the feel of it, and notices that his bellybutton peeks just under the hem at the motion. Satisfied, he turns his attention back to the panties.
Decidedly more nervous about these, he's slower to put them on. But eventually they are sliding up his legs and rest below the babydoll's hem on his waist. He blushes heavily at the way they cup him; cool, gentle and intimate.
Done, Jack sits on the side of the bed, takes a deep breath, and raises his head to look in the large mirror across from him on the wall.
He nearly doesn't recognize himself. Pale skin, so much more than he's used to seeing, covered as he usually is, and long limbs contrast the darkness of the babydoll and panties. He'd feared that his paleness would make the black seem harsh, a condemnation rather than a compliment. He'd been wrong, luckily.
Jack stood, approaching the mirror to get a better look, and his previous nervous fluttering has morphed into a fantastic thrill. The babydoll slips across his skin with the sway of his steps, the panties cupping his bottom in a way that is strangely empowering. The entire experience is oddly intimate, the brush of ruffled hems and material the closest he's gotten to a loving touch.
Staring in the mirror, Jack's eyes take in every inch of smooth skin and black ruffles. He'd never considered the idea of attractiveness in relation to himself. There were no spirits that had ever shown any sort of interest before, with his ratty hoodie, fraying trousers and too-thin frame. The thought had been easily dismissed in the negative.
But now, in front of this mirror and filled with a newfound confidence that brightened his eyes, Jack Frost could say with all assurance that he felt beautiful. As feminine as that sounded, and as false as others may find it, it rang with a surety in him that raised his chin a fraction and softened his mien.
Running his fingers along the skin of his clavicle, he was unable to stop the thought that flit across his mind like a burning trail of fire.
What would fur feel like on his skin?
The blush that claims his cheeks, neck , and skims the tops of his shoulders is fierce and thick with frost. He presses the heels of his hands against closed eyes, groaning in embarrassment. Now was not the time to be having fantasies about Bunnymund. No matter how much he'd longed for it for so many years. No matter how much he admired the last Pooka warrior for his strength and determination, his devotion to the children he protected. No matter how much he'd come to respect the care Bunnymund put into each and every last egg he created. No matter how much Jack lo—
He quickly put a firm clamp on his wandering mind, but wasn't swift enough for his heart. It thumped a firm rhythm in his chest, each beat suffused with a desperate hope he was usually so careful to dampen.
Grinding the heels of his palms harder into his eyes, Jack takes a long, deep breath. He almost hates that Bunny does this to him, that the loathing he'd once felt had melted, chased away by the gentle thaw of spring and a growing realization that Bunny wasn't quite all hard-work and deadlines. It was definitely a part of him, but beneath the gruffness and scowls was a healthy sense of humor and a vein of loneliness that ran deep and heavy. Jack resonated with loneliness; understood it with a kind of familiarity that lingered in his sighs. As the realization that maybe they weren't so different after all became more and more apparent, Jack found himself seeking out the other Guardian to explore this possibility deeper.
And then the day came when Bunny had laughed with him, and Jack had suddenly been all but lost to warm green eyes and a heady voice.
Jack lowers his hands, and nearly flinches at the longing he sees in his own eyes. He sighs, and tempers his own heart. He would not linger on Bunnymund this night.
Resolutely, Jack wandered the room, letting confidence fill him with every step in his new lingerie. He pushes Bunny from his mind as best he can, focusing instead on the enjoyment he feels. He wonders what it would be like to fly with this on. It would never happen unless he went to Antarctica to be absolutely certain he was alone, but after what happened with Pitch that was definitely not happening.
That night, glorying in the silky smooth texture of the babydoll and panties, Jack sleeps feeling more secure in himself than he has in a very long time. The next morning the lingerie is hidden once more, and his friends are none the wiser as to what he'd been up to.
Jack continues to wear his lingerie on nights he is certain to be left alone. Usually this is when North is meeting with Ombric, or goes to visit Tooth in her palace. Those are good nights; nights filled with self-assurance and deep-seated satisfaction. In the months after he feels more confident in himself, and it shows. He isn't as quick force himself into helpfulness, the uncertainty that had once plagued him that his presence is a burden has lifted. In simple terms Jack is happier, and his center glows all the more for it.
He took quickly to the panties the more he wore them, and there were some days he wore them with his regular clothes when he felt he needed the confidence boost. The quiet knowledge that beneath his frayed trousers he wore the delicate scrap of beauty was potent and thrilling.
He is surprised when Cupcake gifts him a second set the next Christmas Eve, making it clear in no uncertain terms that this is going to be a reoccurring thing and to expect more in the years to come. Before he leaves, he makes a unicorn of ice and puts it on her windowsill. It's the closest thing to a present he can give, and the closest he can get to payment that she'll accept.
He waits until Christmas night once more, slipping away when the drunkenness has taken hold of the guests and heads to his room with frantic anticipation.
This babydoll is red, and has faux laces of thick black ribbon up the back. Black roses border the bottom, which falls further than his black babydoll to rest at his mid-thigh. Thick spaghetti straps cross his thin shoulders. The panties for this set are called cheekies if Cupcake told him right, and are as red as the babydoll. Small chiffon flowers are sown on the sides at the hips. Jack's heart is as warm as his blush is cool when he sleeps in it that night.
He dreams of Bunny.
"Watcha doin', Cottontail?"
Aster gives Jack a look that is more fond exasperation than true annoyance. Such a thing has become more and more common lately, and was continuing to develop ever further in that direction as time went on.
"Frostbite," he greets. Watching Jack come to rest beside him, Aster relaxes. He observes Jack from the corner of his eye, how calm and peaceful the other is, and a tiny smile buds on his lips. He remembers how Jack used to be. The boy'd flit around with no aim other than to bring winter, never settling, never resting. (Never sleeping either, as they'd eventually come to discover. Apparently Jack'd had a bad run-in with a bear during a nap early on in his spirit-hood, and hadn't taken the risk since. They'd been quick to change that.) Jack had fairly vibrated in his skin, too earnest, too excitable, and overall just too much. And far, far too vulnerable.
It was strange to think that such a powerful spirit was so easy to hurt. After the incident with Pitch, Jack's uncertainty had reared its head in a big way. He'd fairly attached himself to each of them for a time, all smiles and laughter and here let me help yous. It had taken them a year to figure out what Jack had been doing, and even then they'd only discovered it because Jack had passed out in the middle of a meeting. Jack's pain-killer induced furtive pleas to please don't be angry, I just wanted to be useful, I don't want you to send me away, please don't leave me alone again had fairly made his fur stand on end. They were still working on Jack's abandonment issues, but he seemed to be getting better in recent years.
Aster had taken the opportunity of a drugged-up Jack Frost to ask the question that had burned a hole in his tongue waiting to be asked.
"Oi, Frostbite. The Blizzard of '68, why'd you do it?"
Even drugged and with an incredibly lax mind-to-mouth censor, the answer still comes out halting and reluctant.
"I wanted to see if it was possible to exhaust my magical core."
The look Aster'd given him was one of shocked horror. "Are you daft? Lesser spirits have been known to die from doin' that. Were you trying to kill yourself?" He says the last part more for affect than actual wondering, but the reaction that follows sends his horror plummeting into his stomach.
Because Jack's wide eyes and stiff posture are almost as telling as his silence.
The subject is quickly dropped, but a solemn understanding has been reached in Aster's mind—Jack Frost is to never feel that way ever again.
Since then Jack had settled a bit as a Guardian, both figuratively and literally. The new sense of purpose the position gave him had taken away some of the too much, as Jack adjusted and began to fit into himself more. He had direction, now. He had aim.
And he had a home.
What a meeting that had been, when they'd started rotating the meetings to each other's homes so Aster didn't have to keep trekking through the snow around the North Pole and Jack had announced that he didn't have a home for them to meet at. The room North had already given Jack had gained a lot of new things very quickly after that.
Aster continues his sketch of a new egg design, looking over the field that housed the main tunnels his googies used to reach various continents. He realizes that he's sat here with Jack once before, a little Sophie in his arms.
Jack really had been good with her. He was good with all kids, now that Aster thought about it. He played with them, looked after them, brought joy and fun and loved them with every bit of his center. The thought comes unbidden that even by Pooka standards, Jack would be a very desirable catch. Good with kids, a strong warrior, beautiful…
Aster blinks away the train of thought, confused and surprised with himself.
"What do you want, Frostbite?"
"Just thought I'd come visit you since Easter's over. What are you drawing?"
Aster flashes the sketchpad at him.
Jack laughs, "You just finished Easter and already you're getting to work again. You're such a busybody!"
Aster's ears twitch as Jack laughs, noting the differences from now to before. Jack's laugh now is fitting, comfortable—smoother than the ones he remembers from when Jack first became a Guardian. His laugh then was too boisterous, too big; a laugh that was trying to make up for the fact that there was no one to laugh with it.
The first time Aster had laughed with Jack at a prank he'd pulled on North's elves, Jack had immediately stopped. The confused awe on Jack's face had been nearly painful to see. Then he'd smiled, small and sweet and grateful, and Aster had wanted to gather Jack into his arms and—well, it was best not to linger on that for too long.
It was amazing how wrong he'd been in the majority of his assumptions about Jack Frost.
The boy was a trouble maker, for certain, and proud of it to boot. But he was more responsible than Aster'd ever given him credit for, more careful and hardworking. It had been a shock to hear how much work Jack put into bringing winter, and then to make sure it was as safe as he could make it on top of that. Apparently many a child had been saved from thin ice thanks to Jack's interventions.
"Jamie's been really 'big brother' with Sophie lately."
Jack's words rouse him from his thoughts. Apparently he'd realized this place's significance as well. "Hm? How so?"
"She's dating Claude."
Aster dropped his pencil. "What? When-when did this happen?" A surge of protectiveness has him sitting up straight, attention focused solely on Jack's smiling face. Sophie may be older—little sheila was seventeen now, wasn't she?—but she still believed, and she was still his favorite little ankle biter, no matter how much she aged.
Jack laughs again, and while it should have made Aster annoyed, instead it only calms him down slightly. "Relax, you're acting just like Jamie! Yeah he's older, but only by three years. Besides," Jack leans back on his elbows, his smirk mischievous, "I already gave him the shovel talk. He knows not to hurt her. Jamie gave him one too, but I think his involved a lot more shovel and a little less talk." Jack's gaze grows thoughtful as he stares into the distance. "I wonder if I'd have been that way with Emma."
Aster blinks, settling back down and picking up his pencil. "Who?"
Aster very slowly sets the pencil down again. He turns to the winter spirit cautiously, as though Jack'll bolt if he's not too careful. "You have a sister?"
"A long time ago." Jack's tone is soft but sure; he wants to talk about it, but is willing to hold back if Aster doesn't. "Before I became Jack Frost."
It takes Aster a tremendous amount of self-control to hold his tongue and keep from blurting an over-zealous inquiry. Of course he wanted to know, they all did, but Jack had never said anything and so they had never asked. He has to force himself to speak clearly and hide how eager he is to know. "How did you become Jack Frost?"
Whatever Aster had expected, it wasn't what he got.
"We were ice skating. It was her favorite thing to do in winter. I'd made the skates myself, just for her. We lived where Burgess is now, and we were using that lake we cornered Pitch on. It was the closest and best spot for miles around.
"Anyway we were skating. The ice was thin in places, but we knew how to tell if it was safe. I should have reminded her to avoid that spot." There is a twinge of regret in Jack's voice. "But I didn't. I should have, but I didn't. So she forgot and skated right onto it. The ice cracked under her."
Aster listens closely, and is aware that no matter how close Jack's body is, his mind is someplace far away.
"She was so scared. But I told her it would be alright, that she wouldn't fall in. I asked her to play a game with me; to believe in me." The raw meaning in the word chokes Jack words for a moment, and he pauses before he continues. "I got her to play hopscotch. I'd taken my skates off, and my staff was nearby. The ice I was on was thicker than where she was, but still cracked a bit under me. I got to my staff," Jack's sitting up again now, and using his staff to make gestures with the story, "and had her make three steps. One," Jack began reaching forward in the air with his staff, "two," he was fully extended, eyes seeing something that wasn't there, "three!" The staff hooked onto waist of an imaginary girl, and Jack yanked the staff back towards him, throwing the invisible person to safety. "I flung her to sturdier ice. I saved her…"
Aster was beginning to see where this was going. Jack had done a great deed, and Manny had seen the potential so offered Jack the position. He'd done this with other spirits before. Aster opened his mouth to congratulate Jack for his act, but stopped when Jack continued to speak.
"The movement swung me around, and I took her place instead."
Aster's assumptions flew out the proverbial window. But no, surely not. Such a thing was practically unheard of.
"The ice was already unstable from her weight, and while I may be kind of small for a guy, I'm still bigger than she was. There was enough time for me to see she was safe before the ice broke and I fell through."
Terror grips Aster's heart in a strangle hold. No. No, it couldn't be.
"I heard her scream, but the water was cold and dark, and I was scared. Luckily it didn't last for too long. I passed out pretty quick before I died."
"You died." Aster finally manages to find his tongue.
Jack blinks, coming back into himself and shaking away the vestiges of memory. He nods. "Yep. The next thing I knew it was night time and Manny had brought me back. He told me my name, but I didn't know who I was or why I was there, or what my powers were. Everyone I saw walked through me."
"Why didn't you ask other spirits?"
Jack's bitterly amused look at such a suggestion shouldn't be as upsetting to Aster as it is. "Are you kidding? Summer spirits hate me on sight, spring spirits aren't much better. They've got this, 'Jack kills everything he touches' vibe going on. Autumn spirits are better, but they're usually busy, and they get annoyed when I try to play with them. As for winter spirits…well, the majority of them are either sprites made by Mother Nature, or are the result of black magic and would sooner eat me alive than talk to me. The sprites are pretty cruel when it comes down to it, too, and I've yet to meet one that liked me."
Jack's shallow grin makes Aster give in to the urge that's been prickling across his muscles since Jack admitted to his death, and he draws the deceptively small boy into his arms. Jack is frozen, arms hanging uncertainly at his side as Aster resists the urge to chin him. Finally Jack's pale hands come up to clasp Aster's shoulder blades, and he nuzzles his face into the soft fur of Aster's chest.
"Thank you for telling me," Aster murmurs. He feels a sense of satisfaction that of all the Guardians, he is the one Jack has decided to tell, and he swiftly squashes it down.
Jack nods into his chest, tightening his grip.
They stay like that for a while, all warm fur and cool skin, before Jack draws away, embarrassed and blushing frost down his neck. (Aster wonders how far down the blush goes, and has to bite his tongue to stave off the following reaction.) Jack leaves, slightly awkward but thankful. Aster thinks he sees a flash of red at Jack's waist when he bends to pick up the staff he dropped during their hug, but then Jack is gone and Aster lets it go.
It wasn't important.
Jack continued to visit the Warren. Sometimes for pranks that Bunny handled good-naturedly, sometimes just to talk. (Bunny was a very good conversationalist. When he wasn't being a fluffy grump, he was pretty insightful and laughed at a lot of Jack's jokes. It was nice.)
That year Cupcake gives Jack a pale yellow babydoll of translucent chiffon. This one is a higher cut at the top and brushes his thighs, but is also strapless. Being able to see his nipples through the chiffon makes his stomach clench and calls the ever-present blush the lingerie gives him. The underwear brings the flush to his clavicle.
A thong. Cupcake had gotten him a thong. It was pretty enough, the same yellow as the babydoll and with lace edging, but it was the principle of the matter! Nibbling his lip, Jack decides to hell with it and puts it on. He's grateful at least that the actual 'thong' bit is thicker than he usually sees.
Just as it had been with the first set of panties, Jack comes to like the thong as well. The extra exposed flesh adds a new element to the ensemble, a fresh excitement that brings about the first stirrings of arousal.
That night Jack gives in to his urges. He does so with Bunnymund's name on his lips, and a declaration of love that he manages to voice aloud for the first time. It is stuttering, nervous, and trips on his tongue clumsily before hovering unanswered in the air. When he finishes it is with a lax body and heavy heart.
Because joy is light, and hope? Hope is a terribly heavy burden to bear.
(He wonders how Bunny does it.)
They do continue to grow closer, but it done slowly. Jack is hesitant and reserved, whirlwind-ing in and flitting back out before Bunny has a chance to notice the leaden hope that has taken root in his chest.
It's October when Jack decides to start avoiding Bunny more, barely visiting and sticking around after the weekly meetings only long enough to throw one half-hearted tease before he's out the nearest window. This continues until Christmas, at North's yearly party.
Jack sticks himself in a corner for the night, anxious to get to his room and try on his newest present. Cupcake had hinted that this time there was something special inside, and he was eager to find out what it was. He looks around at the milling guests, biting the inside of his lip. He knows it's too early to leave, the only one drunk is Puck, and some spirits have yet to even touch their liquor. But the curiosity is eating away at him, so he rocks on his heels and decides to take a chance.
He's halfway to the upstairs staircase when his arm is caught in a strong grip.
"There you are, Frostbite."
Jack turns quickly, forcing off the grip, and clutches his staff close to his chest as he sways side to side. He grins crookedly. "Bunny! What's up?"
Bunnymund crosses his arms, the look in his bright green eyes scrutinizing. "You've been acting off, mate."
"Whaaat?" Jack stops his sway, drawling the vowel mockingly. "I'm just being me, Bun-Bun."
The other doesn't rise to the bait. Bunny's nose twitches, his ears swiveling as he stares a hole in Jack's face. "Don't play with me, Frost. You've been acting wonky for months."
"Bunny you crazy," he teases, and begins backing away. "Now excuse me, I've got to—oomph!"
Jack is forced to halt his retreat as he meets a strange forcefield at his back. He turns, running his hand along what should be nothing but air, finding a solid resistance to his efforts. "What the…?"
Bunny groans, and begins searching the area around them. "Not again. North and his bloody traditions."
"What? What traditions?"
"Just a sec, mate—ah-hah!" Bunny plucks a sprig of mistletoe from the hanging basket at his side, just over their heads. "Enchanted mistletoe. Didn't think he'd really break the stuff out again after what happened last time."
"What does it do?"
"Well," Bunny drops the mistletoe on the ground, "now that we've walked under it, it won't let us go from this spot until…" Bunny trailed off, looking Jack firmly in the eye.
"Until what?" Jack breathes. A light frost dusts the top of his cheeks.
"Until we've kissed, Jack."
Jack's breathing stops for a fraction of a second, and then he's laughing a tad too boisterously to be real. "Well I guess we'd better get it over with, then!" He approaches boldly, every piece of his heart clamoring for attention.
Bunny seems to search for something in Jack's face, and his ears droop when he can't find it. "Yeah, I suppose so."
Bunny's hand pulls Jack into him swift and fierce, and he slants his lips across the winter spirit's in a flash of warmth and fur. Jack's eyes go impossibly wide, but before he can reciprocate (his heart thump-thump-thumping in his chest, and surely Bunny can hear it?) Bunnymund has drawn back.
Jack stumbles as he's freed, stuttering, "W-well! Tha-that was c-certainly interesting!" He coughs into his fist, continuing to back away, his hope rising and surfacing and Bunnymund must be able to tell, must see it in his face.
Jack escapes before he can crumble, and heads directly for his room. He has a gift to try on.
Aster sighs, nursing the same drink he's had for the past three hours. He's barely sipped at it, and while the rest of the party is making its way into the normal level of drunken debauchery, he's nowhere near buzzed. He swirls the glass, liquid skimming but not sloshing over the rim.
"Bunny! What is wrong, friend?" North's hand smacks Aster's back, and he sloshes the drink on his fur.
"North!" Aster glares heatedly at his clearly buzzed friend, setting the empty glass on the nearby table and attempting to mop the alcohol from his fur. "Watch what you're doing, you gumby!"
North waves his concerns away, taking another drink. "Calm down, Bunny. You are being down! Usually you are dancing on tables by now. What is problem?"
Aster sighs again, giving up on his fur. He leans on the wall, staring at the staircase he last saw Jack climbing. "It's about Frostbite."
"Ah yes, you are worried for him."
He blinked in surprise. "Yeah, I am. He hasn't been acting right. How did you—?"
"Is because boy is in love with you. He will be fine."
Aster's fur bristles. "What?"
North pauses with his drink halfway to his lips. "He did not tell you this?"
North's expression takes on frazzled appearance, and he curses creatively in Russian for a moment, mumbling about the, 'oblivious boy,' and , 'how is it he was the only one who noticed?'. "But you were kissing earlier! I saw you myself!"
"That was because of your enchanted mistletoe, you big idiot!"
North's alcohol flushed cheeks become darker in embarrassment. "I am going to go—"
"North." The tone is something North has rarely heard before, and it brooks no argument. "What do you mean?"
North closes his eyes, rubbing the bridge of his nose. "It is not my place to say," he admits. "You will have to ask Jack."
"Which room is he in?"
"Upstairs, down the hall, make a left, third door on the right."
Aster is gone before he can finish the sentence.
Aster's heart is beating like a hummingbird's wings in his chest, hope, his very center rising up as everything he's imagined, everything he's denied himself these past years comes to the forefront of his mind. He'd held back for Jack's sake. Surely the winter spirit wouldn't want to mate outside of his species? But if North was right…
If North was right…
He stops outside Jack's door, ready to knock, when a muffled sound comes through the wood. He blinks, and places his ear against the door.
"Bunny…aah…Bunny, I love…mmmff! Love you. Love you…love you—nnn…"
Aster draws back with wide eyes, the stirrings of primal heat in his abdomen and he just knows he's going to be peeking from his sheath soon.
He takes a deep breath, opens the door, and his heart jumps into his throat as he catches sight of Jack Frost.
Jack writhed on the sheets, the experience more erotic than the last time he'd indulged in this. Cupcake hadn't been lying about this year's present. The babydoll was baby blue silk, opening at the front beneath his nonexistent bust. It was edged in white fluff, white chiffon flowers at the straps. Blue silk panties with an innocent white bow hugged his hips.
But the special addition, now that had definitely been a surprise.
A matching pale blue garter belt was comfortably nestled over the panties, the clips holding up a pair of white stockings that nearly blended with his skin.
It hadn't taken Jack long to find he liked the garments. Then hours later, lounging on the bed, his mind had wandered as it had the year previous to Bunny, and he found himself in his situation once more.
Jack's hand is clamped over his mouth, trying to muffle the noises he can't help making. His legs rub together, attempting some sort of friction to combat the burning in his abdomen. His left hand is running across his chest, pinching and flicking pale flat nipples. "Haaa-aaah!"
The rubbing is proving fruitless, so he pulls his left hand from under the babydoll and slides it down between his legs. He presses the heel of his palm into the half-hard erection that's beginning to bulge out the front of his panties. In his mind his hand is warmer, larger, covered in soft fur.
"Bunny…aah…Bunny, I love…mmmff!" He curves his fingers, firmly trailing them across. He continues his breathless confession to the Bunnymund in his mind. "Love you. Love you…love you—nnn…"
The door opens, and it takes Jack a moment to acknowledge the sound for what it is. He opens his eyes hazily, turning his head towards the door, and goes stock still.
Bunny is watching him with wide, green eyes that are growing steadily darker as Jack watches, the Pooka's pupils blowing wide.
"Bunny!" Jack sits up, searching frantically for a pillow to hide behind, arms doing their best to cover what scant amount they can.
"Jack." Bunny enters the room, closing the door firmly behind him.
Jack looks at the door with panicked eyes, scooting back on the bed as Bunny approaches. "What are you doing here?" He scowls, defensive anger marring his visage. "If you're here to…to laugh at me—"
"Not that, Jack." Bunny reaches the bed, and his gaze burns. "Say it again."
"Say what?" Jack's hand fumbles for the pillow, finally bringing it around to his chest. He's only covered by it for a moment before Bunny has surged forward onto the bed and ripped it away once more. "Hey!"
"Say it again for me Snowflake." Bunny's hovering in front of him now, his hand a warm weight that skims just above Jack's shoulder. He locks Jack's eyes with his, refusing to let them go. "Say you love me."
Jack's face crumples, fear and hope warring in his bleeding heart. "I can't," he whispers.
Bunny approaches again, and Jack leans back to maintain their distance until he is lying flat on the bed, Bunny hovering over him. "Say it Jackie." A soft furred hand runs up Jack's arm. "Please."
And maybe it's the please, or maybe it's the dreadful, awful, heavy hope in his trembling heart, but Jack does. "I love you, Bunny."
Bunny takes a long, deep breath. "Aster," he finally says. "I want you to call me Aster, Snowdrop."
When Bunny leans down to chin the top of Jack's head, he can hardly smile for the breathless, wonderful joy that has lightened his heart. Jack prepares to wrap his arms around Bunny—Aster—when he notices the smell.
The realization plummets Jack's heart. Of course. Of course, Bunny was drunk. Of course this wasn't the meaningful moment he'd been longing for.
But Bunny was here, and he was warm and chinning him, and it's the closest Jack's come to what he wanted and damn it all but he'll take it.
Jack pulls Bunny down to him, ignoring the smell of alcohol and presses kisses to everywhere he can reach on Bunny's neck and chest. Bunny honks his surprise, the sound strange enough that Jack giggles into Bunny's shoulder. At his laugh Bunny makes a low, pleased rumbling sound.
Jack whines when Bunny pulls away, taking with him the sensation of fur on his skin that he's wondered at for so long, but Bunny shushes him. "I'm not done with you Snowdrop." On his knees, Bunny lifts and draws Jack's legs apart, settling himself into the cradle of Jack's hips.
Jack stares up at Bunny, confused. "Aster?"
Bunny shudders when he speaks. "All this time," he says to himself, "and now here you are, spread out like a feast to mah eyes." His hands slide up Jack's legs, and he snaps one of the bands holding up the stockings. His accent, Jack notices, has gotten thicker. "You look good in this, Snowdrop."
Jack blushes, and Bunny's eyes follow the trail of frost down to Jack's clavicle. "So that's how far down it goes."
Jack gasps when Bunny's hands are pressing into the bulge of Jack's panties, arching his hips in invitation. "Mmm, Aster!"
"That's right Snowdrop." He begins to stroke Jack to full mast through the silk, and Jack throws his head back. "Say mah name."
Jack snaps his half-closed eyes open when Bunny's hand is replaced by something less wide, but hotter and heavier. He raises up on his elbows, mouth falling open when he sees the leaking red cock Bunny is now grinding into Jack. "Nnnaah!"
Bunny's grin is devious as he takes a firm grip on Jack's hips, thrusting swiftly and firmly. Bunny's thighs smack into Jack's bottom with each motion, rocking the pale spirit up and down, bouncing him on the mattress.
"A-Aster!" Jack stutters through the jolts. "Don't sto-op! Do-on't stop!"
"Didn't plan to, Snowdrop."
Jack whimpers, holding his arms up and nearly pleading. "Aster, please, A-Aster!"
Bunny comes down into Jack's embrace, and Jack wraps his legs around Bunny's waist. Bunny kisses his neck, nibbles his shoulders and licks a path from chin to lips. He kisses Jack, a simple press of lips that isn't forced or rushed and suddenly it's everything he's ever wanted. Jack moans when finally Bunny's tongue slips into his mouth. Bunny's everywhere. He can taste him on his tongue, smell him in his breaths, feel him around and over him. It's strong and heady and wonderful in ways his imagination could never have hoped to match.
And perhaps because it is tinged with the bitter smell of alcohol and might be the last chance he gets, Jack lets his heart bleed onto his tongue and spill over in his words. "I love you, Aster. I love you."
Bunny looks deep into Jack's eyes, pupils so wide the green is a mere sliver in the impossibly heated void. "Your eyes are snowflakes," Bunny notices, and goes to speak again, but it is then that their orgasms sneak up on them and snap the line of tension. Jack finishes in his panties as Bunny's seed splashes hot and thick across his stomach. Jack quivers, breathing heavy mists of frost in the air. Bunny gathers him into his chest, and Jack clings as close as he can.
"Don't leave," and he's almost ashamed at how much it sounds like begging.
"Not going anywhere, Snowdrop," Bunny assures. "Got too much to tell ya."
Content with the knowledge that, at least for now, Bunny wasn't going to abandon him, Jack falls into sleep.
When he wakes, Jack is oddly warm considering how cool his room usually is. He keeps his eyes closed for just a little longer, wanting to linger on the bittersweet dream of last night. He wants to fall back into sleep, if only to try and prolong the fantasy of Bunny warm and soft against him, but doing so would only make it worse when he finally had to acknowledge the reality.
Sighing, he opens his eyes lazily, and then immediately snaps up to full attention.
He is not in his room at North's.
He is in a nest of pillows and quilts—and twigs?—in what can only be a bedroom. Jack spots his staff against the far wall, next to a ladder that leads into a room above. He's in the Warren.
Horror widens Jack's eyes as he realizes that the night before wasn't a dream; that it had happened and that in his drunkenness Bunny had brought Jack back to his nest. (And if the feeling in Jack's lower extremities was anything to go by, had cleaned him up as well.)
Jack climbs from the nest, desperately trying to ignore that he's still wearing his lingerie, hurrying to his staff and climbing the ladder. Perhaps he could slip out without Bunny noticing—
Jack has climbed into the kitchen it seems, and Bunny is standing ten feet away hanging herbs to dry. He turns, ears swiveling as they detect the sound of Jack's movements, and spots Jack pulling himself through the hole.
Jack clutches his staff protectively, eyes darting around like a cornered mouse and blushing that Bunny is seeing him in this attire again. "I…I…," Jack sputters before noticing the exit to what appears to be a garden to his right. "I'll just go."
Bunny catches his shoulder before he can go two feet around the sturdy table. "Oi, why you leaving so quick?"
Jack frowns, and confusion begins to seep into his upset. "Look, I know you were drunk last night. I could smell it. We can…we can just pretend it never happened—"
"Jack," Bunny's voice has lowered, and thank goodness that his eyes haven't left Jack's face for one moment or Jack might have just died right there, "I barely had a couple of sips. North made me spill my drink just before I came to you."
Understanding dawns across Jack's face, and it makes Bunny smile. "You mean last night was…?"
"All me, Snowdrop. Alcohol had nothing to do with it." Bunny's nose twitches, and he drops his hands, turning away to look out the near window. There's something bashful in his voice now, such a charming contrast to last night's smooth assurance. "Do you love me, Jack Frost?"
Jack, for all that it's worth, doesn't hesitate this time. "Yes."
Bunny coughs into his fist, "Good," and glances slyly at Jack from the corner of his eye, "cause I love you too."
In an instant there is five foot ten inches of pale skin and lingerie in Bunny's arms, kissing every inch of his face that Jack can reach. Bunny chuckles, and kisses him back.
When Jack Frost cares about you, he does so with every word and action. But when Jack Frost loves you, he does so with everything that he is, down to the last frayed edge and broken fragment in the crevices of his strong, bleeding heart.
It's a gift Aster is humbled to receive, and overjoyed to reciprocate.
Where love is concerned, too much is not even enough.
-Pierre-Augustin De Beaumarchais, The Marriage of Figaro, 1784