AN: GAUGING REACTIONS WITH THIS GUYS. Continue working on this, or place on the backburner in favor of other backlogged fic ideas? Crossposted with my AO3 Account.
He was born with the gift of laughter and a sense that the world was mad.
-Rafael Sabatini, Scaramouch, 1921
In the two years he'd been around, Jack Frost had found that the Moon had a way of being silent that made graveyards seem like banquet halls.
He tapped his staff on the ice, thickening it around the edges on his lake. It was a normal, routine act. He was always careful to keep the ice thick enough to skate safely on. It wouldn't do for one of the kids to fall through. Just the thought had him clutching his staff with some phantom anxiety, terrified him so deeply he sent even more ice to the thinnest parts.
For the kids, he reminded himself, ignoring the part of him that insisted it was his own terror that fueled his actions.
He hopped onto his staff, one foot in the crook and the other on top. He watched the village children skate, chuckling when they wobbled or tipped over. Despite being upset that they couldn't see him, Jack loved the children. They were so carefree in a way adults weren't, more open to his kind of play. He always made sure to keep his lake ready for them in winter. He kept the edges clear, tamped down a path back to the village, and drew his best frost designs on the trees just for them. He loved to watch them marvel at the fern-like patterns, tracing them with tiny hands and fingers.
A startled yelp drew his attention to his right, where a child tottered on one skate, the other thrown up in the air and arms wheeling as he tried to catch his balance.
"Careful!" he called on reflex, a grin lighting his face.
The child fell, crying out as he landed flat on his back. Jack laughed, ready to make a witty comment to himself, when the boy began sobbing and rolled onto his side. Blood stained the ice where the boy had lay, the back of his shirt torn open in shreds at his shoulders blades. Jack's grin plummeted, concern and confusion warring in his expression. He jumped from his staff, grabbing it and hurrying to the boy's side.
"You okay kid?" He knew the question was redundant, even as he asked it.
"Matthew!" The eldest member of today's skating group, a quartet of siblings, rushed over, cradling the boy's head in her lap. She called the other children, ordering them off the ice and to head home. Taking her skates off, she lifted her young brother—Matthew, Jack reminded himself—into her surprisingly strong arms.
"He'll be okay," Jack said, standing in front of her to make sure she didn't slip. "Trust me, he'll be fine. Kids heal quickly."
The teenager didn't respond, not that he'd expected her to, and proceeded to walk through him.
Jack closed his eyes, gritting his teeth against the painful sensation of someone ripping the air from his lungs, and sucked in a long, almost bitter breath through his nose as the feeling passed. With a quiet sigh, he shook the disappointment away and turned to smile at their backs as the group left. "Bye! Come back soon and I'll set up something awesome for you guys!" He waved until they were no longer visible, then turned to look at the small section of bloodied ice.
There was something strange about it, he decided, squatting for a closer look with his staff through over shoulder. This ice was rough, some of it wickedly sharp looking where it had ripped through the boy's shirt. The ice on Jack's lake was never sharp or rough when it was time for skating. He always kept it smooth for them, and hadn't failed to do so in the two years of his existence. Which begged the question, where had this ice come from?
There was a malicious snigger from the tree line behind him, and Jack whirled around, staff in hand and poised to defend. The creature that emerged, for Jack knew this was no human, had him lowering it in surprise and shock.
A sprite. Jack had actually found a sprite!
Jack had never actually met another member of the mystical world. Oh, he'd heard of them; beings and spirits like him who had magic and powers, but until today he'd never actually seen one.
The sprite, who Jack identified from the descriptions he'd overheard from children and adults that visited his lake, stepped across the snow and the cleared embankment onto the ice. He was tall, hair as white as Jack's own spiked to vicious points and tipped with frost. His skin was pale, wintery blue and covered by handsome gray trousers and an expensive looking blue tunic. Despite the obvious fine quality, they were ripped along the hems, as though the owner didn't care how rough he treated them. Pointed ears gleamed with silver cuffs, teardrop gems hanging from the lobes. Dark eyes gleamed as the sprite smirked at the bloody ice.
As ecstatic as Jack was to have finally met someone even remotely like him—conversations! He'd get to have real conversations!—the look immediately tipped him off to the culprit of the tampered ice.
"Hey!" He tapped his staff, smoothing out the roughened ice and making the sprite frown. "I know messing with the kids is fun—even I get a kick out of 'em falling sometimes—but we don't' want to hurt them." The sprite didn't answer, still frowning at the patch and beginning to walk towards him. "Look, I know you're mad but seriously, making them hurt themselves is not okay." Jack scowled at the continued silence, the sprite right in front of him now. "Could you at least look at me when I'm—"
Jack coughed violently as the sprite walked through him, feeling as though his lungs had just squeezed themselves shut, heart stuttering to a halt for a terrifying, breathless second. This hurt so much worse than the other times he'd been walked through. He wheezed as he regained his breath, straightening from the hunched position he'd adopted. There was panic in his gaze as he turned around, panting and wide-eyed.
"You can't hear me," he said to the sprite's back, who didn't turn or acknowledge that he'd spoken. He moved to stand in front of the sprite,right where the rough ice had been. He stared into dark eyes that looked right through him. "You can't see me."
For a few moments there was silence, then the sprite huffed and kicked the ice before walking back into the woods.
Jack Frost stood on the lake for several hours, watching the Moon as it rose, silently pleading for an explanation he would never receive.
Jack would later tell himself that he didn't care. That he was glad the winter sprite hadn't seen him. Afterwards he began watching them when he could, and they were all mean anyway. Who wanted a mean sprite to be the first person they ever talked to? Certainly not him.
It was too bad he would never be good at lying to himself.
While this was the first time a mystical being would walk through him, it wasn't even close to the last.
Nicholas St. North was not a man to be taken lightly. He did his job to his best effort and fullest extent, but most of all he did it happily and with a grin that often had Bunny rolling his eyes at North's post-Christmas banquets. He was a man of innovation and ingenuity, and had never been faced with something he could not overcome without a little help from his magic, his center, or his swords (and perhaps, when the problem involved freak blizzards, a glowing red light from a brave little reindeer).
So it was with utmost surety that North faced down an annoyed E. Aster Bunnymund after calling the Guardians together with the Aurora.
"Come on, mate, Pitch went out with the dark ages. We made sure of that, remember?" Bunnymund swirled his brush on the egg in his hand, giving North an exasperated look.
"I know it was him. We have serious situation!" North countered. His attention, as well as the others', was caught as Sanderson Mansnoozie, his longtime friend and the Sandman, shook a poor elf by his belled hat. Sandy pointed at the opening in the ceiling of the Globe Room, a crescent moon of sand forming above his head.
"Ah! Man in Moon! Sandy, why didn't you say something?" North turned, missing the deadpan stare and annoyed look Sandy shot him, raising his arms welcomingly at the moon that peeked through the opening. "It's been a long time, old friend. What is big news?"
A beam of moonlight centered on the floor, ebbing away until an unpleasantly familiar silhouette formed. A shadow of Pitch Black.
"It is Pitch," Bunny acknowledge lowly.
North pat his belly knowingly and tipped his head, then directed his attention back to the moon. "Manny, what must we do?"
The moonlight brightened, concentrating on an ornate symbol. The four Guardians gathered around as blue light shone from a large crystal that rose from the floor. Toothiana fluttered nervously, her fairies flicking around her as she awed at the crystal. "Ah, guys, you know what this means?"
"He's choosing a new Guardian," North awed.
"What?" Bunnymund stuttered. "Why?"
"Must be big deal," North noted. "Manny thinks we need help."
Bunnymund huffed. "Since when do we need help?"
Toothiana weaved in the air, excitement widening bright purple-pink eyes. "I wonder who it's gonna be?" At a symbol from Sandy, she adds, "Maybe the Leprechaun?"
Bunnymund clasps his paws together fervently, murmuring, "Please not the Groundhog, please not the Groundhog."
The light grows brighter as it refracts through the crystal's facets, and for a moment the room is a brilliant show of dazzling blue. And then it dims, congealing into the area above the crystal to reveal—
North frowns at the blue light, which doesn't seem to be forming any kind of discernible figure.
"Ah, is it supposed to do that mate?" Bunny comes to stand by North, peering closely at the crystal.
North shakes his head. "I am not sure, has never done this before." He glances up at the moon, a frown on his face.
Sandy forms the image of a broken crystal in his sand.
"No. I do not believe is broken." North crosses his arms, stroking his beard thoughtfully. "Perhaps Manny is telling us something."
Toothiana flew forward to contribute to the conversation, not noticing the single fairy that seemed to hover closer and closer to the doorway before it snuck out, flying as quickly as its wings could carry it to North's office. The fairy squirmed under the door, no problem after the number of pillows she squeezed under routinely. She spotted the snow globes on one of the shelves, and pictured a frozen lake before knocking it over, a portal opening to her destination. She flew through, determined to find the person she was looking for.
No one else may have been able to see the image formed above the crystal, but she definitely had. And this little fairy, known to only one person as Baby Tooth, knew exactly where she might find Jack Frost.