Rise of the Guardians
Jack Frost, Nicholas St. North, Toothiana, E. Aster Bunnymund, the Sandman
When Toothiana asks Jack what he remembered, no one is expecting the answer.
Notes: Written for this prompt on the rotg kinkmeme
It's something North doesn't notice until after, though he thinks he should have seen it sooner. He tries not to dwell on the heartbreaking aspects of winter too much when he can do nothing about them. He may be a Guardian of children, but he cannot save every child.
It's startling, the similarities, but Jack is always moving, always so lively, that North has simply never connected the still, pale, peaceful children on Christmas Eve to the pale winter sprite.
The topic comes up unexpectedly when Tooth asks about Jack's memories. They're all curious, but the memories of children are Toothiana's domain and so the other Guardians let her ask or not, as she thinks best.
Jack says, "They showed me I was meant to be a Guardian." He smiles a bit. "When I was alive, I was always playing games and making everyone laugh, especially the kids. It's how I figured out that my core was fun." Jack's smile turns a bit wicked, a bit nostalgic. "Man, I would have loved a snow day when I was a kid. When you're a settler in a small town like Burgess, there really isn't a lot of free time."
But North is stuck on an earlier point, and because he doesn't often concern himself with manners or tact (unless they're necessary, but they're rarely necessary around his fellow Guardians), he says bluntly, "When you were alive?"
It's an odd turn of phrase, not 'when I was mortal,' but 'when I was alive.' North does not like the implications.
Jack blinks, sidetracked. He says, blithely, as if his words are not important, are self-evident, "Yeah. My sister and I were skating on the lake, but it was really too late in the winter and the ice was thin. It started to crack under her, and I saved her, but then I drowned." North can feel his shock at the perfunctory explanation, and he's pretty sure he has the same expression of horrified surprise as Tooth, Bunny, and Sandy. Jack watches them, uncertain. He shrugs with forced nonchalance, adds, "What's the big deal? Isn't death kinda necessary for the whole rebirth schtick?"
And North realizes why Jack had always seemed a bit familiar, in the unnatural pallor of his skin, stubbornly winter-temperature, in the way frost edged his eyelashes and tinged the tips of his fingers blue. North gives presents to all children, even those without trees to set them under or stockings to slip them into, even if it is only an orange. For a child on the streets, an orange is more food than they eat on a daily basis. It is always the most horrible thing to bend down next to a child in a doorway and realize he or she will not need North's orange the following morning.
"No, mate," Bunny says, for once subdued. "Most of us were asked."
Jack looks--North isn't sure how Jack looks at the revelation. Unsure, perhaps a bit bitter, resigned. It is a look entirely unsuitable for the usually cheerful spirit.
North suddenly drags Jack into a hug, the hugest and warmest he can make. Jack stiffens a bit, in uncertainty or surprise or both, before he thaws, melts a little into North's arms like snow giving way to the sun. He is cold, the kind of chill that had always seemed natural for the embodiment of winter, but now seems something else altogether. North knows it will be a long time before he looks at Jack without seeing his death as much as is after-life.