A/N- Hi there, Mira here with your daily reminder that Pitch is not a good person. And that if Jack ever attempted to end their friendship, it would really not end well.

But don't worry, this scenario won't ever actually happen because Pitch would have to do something really heinous to get Jack to abandon him, and Pitch would never willingly jeopardize his friendship with Jack. It's fun to explore what-ifs, though, isn't it?

Jack had stopped visiting him. Pitch had at first managed to convince himself that this was a relief. No aggravating, overexcitable teenager rushing through his hallways, upsetting the Nightmares and causing a ruckus. No one to create hidden slicks of ice or chuck snowballs at him.

No one to break the suffocating, ever-present silence and loneliness of his home.

Pitch took to following Jack around whenever he could, watching from the shadows as the boy went around his tasks as a Guardian. He looked fine, the same as always. Pitch wanted to ask him why he didn't come anymore, but couldn't bring himself to swallow his pride. It wasn't that he wanted Jack to be around, that would be silly and weak.

He didn't try approaching Jack at all. Maybe out of fear of confirming what was worried had happened.

It was when Jack didn't show up for Halloween that Pitch couldn't deny the fact that there was something wrong, something missing. He had to talk to Jack.

"Been busy lately, Frost?" He asked nonchalantly, stepping out of the shadows behind the boy.

Jack flinched and whirled, staff up. "Pitch. I thought you knew better than to show your face to me," he said, voice and expression cold.

Pitch's brow furrowed. "I… Jack, what are you talking about?"

"You should know what you did. She was just a little kid, and now…" A sorrowful expression flitted over Jack's face before he shook his head and the icy glare dropped back into place. "I don't ever want to see you again, boogeyman. Next time I do, you'll wish you never crawled out of that hole of yours!"

Pitch choked. "Jack, ple-" The Guardian was already gone in a whirlwind of snow and ice.

What had just happened? Why? Why would Jack say those things? He couldn't be serious, he couldn't, no. It was all just a joke. A prank, Jack would come back in a second and laugh at him for falling for it.

But he didn't come back. And the terrible finality of his words struck Pitch like a physical blow. He clutched his chest desperately. It felt like when a child ran through him, magnified a hundred times. Like the rejection at Antartica, but a dozen times more painful. It felt like he was being torn apart, ripped to shreds from the inside out. Like all his innards had been scooped out and replaced with molten lead. Like the world was falling to pieces around him or maybe it was just him that was falling apart, he couldn't tell anymore.

It couldn't be, no. Jack couldn't turn away, he couldn't. Not again. He was the only one who understood, who walked the same path Pitch had. His other half, the missing piece of himself. Cold and dark. They couldn't be separate, Jack couldn't hate him, no, no, no. This wasn't happening, it was wrong.

Everything was wrong. The world was wrong.

Yes. That's what it was. This wasn't right. This didn't fit. Jack, his Jack, wouldn't abandon him, no. It was all the Guardians' fault. They had turned Jack against him. Yes, that was right. Poor Jack had been taken in by their lies, convinced that the boogeyman wasn't really his friend, was just a heartless monster.

…Well, who was he to disappoint the Guardians?

Jack would see. Once the Guardians were gone, he'd come to his senses. Once Jack had no one but Pitch, he'd see how much their friendship was worth. Then he'd never, ever leave. He'd beg for Pitch to forgive him.

And he would. Of course he would. What are friends for, after all?

Even Pitch had always been hesitant to harm children, at least physically. Terrifying them, traumatizing them, emotionally scarring them, that was all fine. Part of the job. But dead children didn't fear anything at all, and what was the fun in that?

Of course, this little quirk of his, this weakness, had been what had led to his defeat after all. He'd postured and threatened for too long, staying his hand from snuffing out the last light in a brutish and uncivilized way. At some level, he'd hoped that the threat would be enough to scare the child into submission, so he wouldn't have to follow through. And he'd paid for that.

No more. To defeat the Guardians this time, he had need of an army. Nightmares weren't good enough, he needed more fearlings.

And besides, the belief and fear of a million or a hundred million children couldn't compare to his connection with Jack Frost.

So he'd gone to visit his believers. The children had jumped and yelped at his appearance (as they should, oh if only they knew…) but they'd calmed down easily enough when he gave them a disarming smile and asked if they wanted to come play a game with him.

"Like Halloween?" They would ask.

"Of course. Just like Halloween," he'd lie with a smile, before whisking them away.

He'd forgotten just how sweet pure, unmitigated horror was, fear that wasn't diluted by the certainty of safety, of being able to go home where everything was fine again.

He'd forgotten how much he loved to hear those last, strangled screams before the children finally succumbed to the darkness and joined his army as fearlings.

The disappearance of so many children didn't go unnoticed, not by the Guardians or the human authorities, either. But he'd been prepared for that. Hiding the entrance to his lair was child's play, his realm of shadows mutable as always to his will. Avoiding the Guardians when he ventured out to collect new recruits was a little more challenging, but not by very much. There were only five of them, after all, to guard six continents worth of children. And while he lead the fools on a merry chase across the globe, the fear instilled by the abduction of so many young ones spread like wildfire through adults and children alike. He drew on it, growing stronger with every passing evening.

As promised, Toothiana was the first one he targeted. It was really very unwise of them to split their forces to try to cover the most ground. It made it dreadfully easy for Pitch to ambush her with his hordes of fearlings and Nightmares, subdue her and drag her down, down into the shadows.

They had tried to stick together after the loss of one of their members, but their soft spot for the children of the world was their undoing. Luring them away one at a time took skill, finesse, but Pitch wasn't short of either, nor of patience.

North fell next, then Bunnymund, and finally the Sandman.

He couldn't kill them, of course. The downside of having immortal enemies. But it was simple enough to catch them when they were alone and drag them away, shut them up in cages and chains and prisons, burying them so deep in his domain that no ray of light from the sun or the moon would ever reach them.

He hadn't bothered being showy, hadn't bothered gloating or celebrating. They were in his way, and he wanted them out of it as quickly and efficiently as possible. He couldn't care less what happened to them after that. Or what happened to the rest of the world. All of his focus had collapsed around a single point.

It was surprising, really, how effective he could be when he didn't waste all that energy on appearances or enjoyment. There was only room from heartless, brutal efficiency, because there was only one thing that mattered now. Jack. And now the poor boy was all alone. But not for long.

Pitch curled around the shivering, hiccupping boy in his grasp, stroking his hair gently, reassuringly. The screams and the insults and the thrashing had given way to sobbing, and even that had tapered off as physical and emotional exhaustion swamped the winter spirit. Through it all Pitch had held Jack, firmly but gently, oh so gently.

"Shh, shh. It's okay now. I've got you. You're safe," he whispered comfortingly. Jack didn't seem to listen but the boy had always been stubborn. It didn't matter. Soon enough he would see the truth, come to his senses. Pitch was nothing if not patient.

They were huddled together in one of Pitch's cages, piled with snow to make Jack more comfortable. The boy's staff lay propped against a wall, safely outside of reach. He hadn't wanted to take it away, but Jack had kept striking it against the bars and Pitch was concerned it would break. Jack seemed to be hurt the last time it was broken, and Pitch couldn't bear to see him in pain.

It was for his own good.

All around the cage the shadows and Nightmares and fearlings writhed and hissed, but they did not dare to touch the boy or his staff. Nothing would ever, ever be allowed to harm the winter spirit. He'd see the rest of the world shattered and salted and burned before anything would take his Jack away from him.

"I'll never hurt you, Jack," Pitch promised. "And I'll never let you go…"