“What right have you?” Fiera Summers screams. “What do you have that I don’t? You're just a stupid, selfish brat that creates chaos for his own benefit!”
A whip of pure fire comes arcing towards him, and Jack dodges just in time, the sleeve of his blue hoodie almost going up in flames.
“I don’t want to fight you!” The winter spirit yells back, raising another wall of ice to block out the incoming attacks.
“It’s not your choice, Frost!”
Another burst of flame shoots toward Jack, this time accompanied by thorny vines and what he’s pretty sure is poisonous flower pollen. Thankfully, Wind speeds by and blows it away, the golden dust blown straight into the flames and burning up, harmless.
“You’re not fit to be a Guardian!” Oren Fall cries. “I should have been chosen! You’re nothing but a careless, spoiled child!”
“Shut up, Fall!” Fiera shoots back, voice tensed and maniacal, redirecting her anger at the Autumn spirit. “If anyone should have been chosen, that someone is me! My season is the most useful, the most powerful, my season outranks all of you!”
Jack watches the argument escalate, and he’s not particularly surprised that even a coordinated attack like this could end up this way. It’s no secret that those three hate each other, and it’s no secret that they hate Jack as well. After all, even though Jack knows and accepts that the balance of the Earth depended upon all four of them being able to carry out their duties, the other three either didn’t know, or didn’t care.
Spira Green, the Spirit of Spring, was the least aggressive of the lot, but still plenty violent in her own right. She was impatient and quick to judge, and she hated both Fiera and Oren, Fiera for ending her season, and Oren for painting over her beautiful greenery.
Fiera Summers, the Spirit of Summer, was haughty and arrogant, and as hot-tempered as her season suggested. She hated Spira for being the first season of the year, a right that she believed belonged to her. She hated Oren for much the same reason Spira did, and could never get along well with any of them, even, apparently, when given a common enemy.
Oren Fall, the Spirit of Autumn, was resentful and moody, and despite his season’s underlying symbolism, was shockingly resistant to change. He hated both Spira and Fiera for being more powerful than him, because they were older, and a Season’s powers grew with their age, barring special circumstances. Oren also resented the fact that his season was the shortest of the four, and thus he had the least time to enjoy his work.
And of course, all three hated Jack for a myriad of reasons, the main one being that he had the longest season of them all, and in some places, had a complete monopoly of the weather.
Of course, there were some places where it was Fiera’s season year-round, mainly the tropics and the deserts, but in the tropics Fiera sometimes needed to share that area with Spira and Oren, because their powers were required for the monsoon rains and winds. In the desert, it was Fiera’s territory, and hers only, but the land area was tiny compared to what Jack had, and the summer spirit didn’t like that at all.
Jack watches the argument between Summer and Autumn increase in intensity and deadliness, and surreptitiously adjusts his grip on his staff and makes to fly off before they notice.
He doesn’t get far before Spira’s cry breaks up the fight, and then all three are focused on him once again.
Oren’s thorny vines are encircling his bare ankles before he can react, the sharp points breaking his skin and drawing blood from shallow wounds, dragging him back down.
Jack hisses in pain and allows the vines to pull him back, knowing that if he struggled, he could jolly well force the thorns deeper and slice into his Achilles tendon, and then not only would he be going up against three Seasons, but he would also be unable to walk, and at their mercy.
The moment his bare feet touch the ground and the vines slacken some, he blasts the damned things with a burst of ice and watches in satisfaction and they freeze over, brittle and hard, before shattering.
Oren growls and stalks forward, but a wave of fire roars to life in front of him, and Fiera giggles, high and crazed. “Looks like the little snowflake’s ready to fight back, Fall. Let’s see what he does.”
Jack rolls his eyes, because Fiera’s being too bloody presumptuous again, and no, Jack’s not going to fight back, at least not until he’s certain that that’s the only way out of this situation.
He knows he can take on the three of them, he’s done it before, but that’s not without some serious injury on his behalf, because even though he’s the most powerful, three against one is never a fair fight.
“Well, little snowflake? Go on, give it your best shot.”
Jack’s lips thin. “I’m not going to fight you, Fiera.”
“Ah, but fight you will, Frost,” Spira cuts in. “Or is that all that that blustering, clumsy, idiot of a Christmas spirit is teaching you? To be a coward?”
Jack’s grip tightens on his staff, knuckles going white.
He doesn’t think the others know what they’re doing, thinks they assume that insulting the other Guardians will do nothing but satisfy their own sadistic need to hurt, but what they don’t realise is that insulting one of them means insulting all of them, and Jack doesn’t like it when you insult his friends.
“Or are you learning all this idiocy from that fickle, hyperactive feathered freak you all call a queen? Hah. You’d have been better off staying alone in your little frozen lake,” Oren continues, all three coming ever closer.
They don’t notice Jack’s staff beginning to shimmer from the sheer amount of frost that has built up on it, don’t notice Jack’s cheeks flush a pale pink with anger.
“Maybe it’s that tiny little fat man that stupidly allowed Pitch Black to corrupt his sand. So stup-”
Fiera picks up the thread, leering, only to be cut off when Jack lets out a yell of fury, sending a wave of frost blasting outwards, throwing them all back.
“How. Dare. You,” Jack grits out, staff still glowing from the release of power, his eyes sparking with rage. Ice is spreading outwards from Jack’s feet, and Oren and Spira struggle to their feet, Fiera taking longer to rise as she shakes off the nauseating, burning effects of an attack by the opposite element.
Even in his anger, the attacked had been fairly controlled, the summer spirit knew. If Jack had used a powerful attack, she wouldn’t have been able to stand, much like Jack would be when faced with one of her powerful attacks. That was both a pro and con of fighting someone who was simultaneously your strength and your weakness.
But while Fiera knew the risks of instigating a fight with her antithesis, she was bitter, and reckless, because what right did Jack Frost have to be more powerful than her? She was the eldest of the Seasons, she should be the most powerful! But Jack was created by the Man in The Moon, with the help of Mother Nature, while all the other Seasons had been created solely by Mother Nature alone, and they had to share their powers with other helpers of their season, but Jack, Jack was the only bringer of Winter.
And, well, the last Winter Bringer had passed almost half a decade before Jack had been created, and while Mother Nature had been able to find many others to fill the ranks of Spring, Summer and Autumn, Winter had always been a hard season to find helpers for. Try as she might, there was simply not a being, spirit or otherwise, suited to be a Winter Bringer.
Until the Man in The Moon had found Jackson Overland, had seen the boy crash through the thin ice with a smile on his lips, ever proud to have saved his sister, even at the cost of his own life.
And so the Man in The Moon had sought out Mother Nature, and together they had brought the boy back, together they had bestowed upon him his powers, Mother Nature his wintry gifts, and the Man in The Moon his ability to bring joy and fun, to spread good-natured mischief.
“And one day,” the Man in The Moon had told Mother Nature. “I will want him as one of my Guardians.”
To this, Mother Nature had nodded agreeingly, and then Jack Frost had been born.
The two spirits hadn’t realised that their combined gifts would make Jack Frost so formidable, and it was a stroke of luck that Jack was the one to wield such power, because the boy was too selfless to use said power for his own benefit.
But Summer was jealous, and sore, because Jack Frost was younger, but Jack Frost was stronger.
So Summer made his life hard. She ostracised him, and encouraged others to ostracise him as well, and they followed, because she was the eldest, and like it or not, they either grudgingly respected her, or feared her.
So Jack was outcast, even from his own kind.
Fiera takes a while to regain her bearings, in which time both Oren and Spira are already attacking Jack, each trying desperately to break past his barrier of ice and wind.
The Wind, another thing the Seasons hate Jack for. Why was Jack able to command the Wind, have the Wind at his beck and call, when said Wind barely ever listened to the other three?
Fiera screams in anger, vision flashing red, at the sight of the Wind protecting Jack, at the blatant reminder that Jack Frost can do things that she can’t. Flames shoot towards Jack, fast enough that not even the Wind or the preternatural grace and speed of the other spirit can save him, and Jack lets out a sharp cry of pain as the flames lick at his skin, the wall of ice he’d constructed barely enough to stave off the worst of the attack.
Wind hurriedly extinguishes Jack’s smoldering clothes, but there is nothing she can do for the red, blistering skin beneath the charred cloth.
The Spirit of Winter bites his lip against the burning pain, coating the burns in a thin coat of ice and trying desperately to sooth the burning.
The distraction is all Oren and Spira need to double their efforts, barbed vines encircling Jack’s wrists and ankles, thick grass growing in an unnatural arc over his mouth and nose, weaving themselves into a gag. The gag causes Jack to gasp for breath, trying to draw in air through the small gaps between the blades of grass, but the action isn’t enough, the air that filters through little and low in oxygen.
Jack can feel his brain shutting down slowly, trying to fall into an unconscious state to conserve as much oxygen as possible, but if Jack blacks out, he’ll almost definitely be killed, or at least horribly maimed, by the other Seasons.
He can’t let that happen. He still has the scars from their first fight, slightly more than a century and a half ago, when Oren had been a newly-minted Spirit of Autumn and all four of them were less powerful, less able to inflict damage, to kill than they are now.
And Jack knows how easy it’d be for Fiera to kill him now, just as easy as it’d be for him to kill her. But while Jack has no intention of killing the other Season, he can’t say the same for her.
The thorns dig ever deeper into Jack’s wrists and ankles, red blood flecking the ground around him. His burns are rubbing painfully against the ground, blistered skin abrading on contact with the rough floor. He holds back screams of agony as the pain shudders up and down his spine, curling through him like a demented serpent.
Above him, all three of the others are standing, smug, sadistic smiles on their faces.
“Looks like we melted the little snowflake,” Fiera jeers. “What’s the matter, Frost, can’t take the heat?”
As if to prove her point, the summer spirit waves a hand, drawing lines of fire across Jack’s body, and the winter spirit twists, writhing in agony as the intense heat races throughout his body, reddened skin blistering and charring, the smell of burnt flesh saturating the air.
“No,” Jack mumbles, too weak, the heat and pain sapping his strength. “Please, stop, please.”
Fiera lets loose a deranged cackle.
Out of the corner of his watery, blurry eyes, Jack sees both Oren’s and Spira’s expressions, torn between disgust and satisfaction.
Finally, the burning stops.
Jack sucks in as deep a breath as he can get through the gag, biting hard at his lip to prevent the screams from escaping, because the other three are insane, bloodthirsty beasts, and if he shows any sign, they’ll pounce.
Then a hard blow to the chest knocks all the air out of his lungs, and a searing pain spreads throughout his chest cavity.
A foot stomps down on his arm and the bone shatters, a muffled scream torn out of his throat at the action.
He tries to breathe, tries to get air, but then the burning in his chest intensifies a hundredfold, and Jack breaks out into an uncontrollable coughing fit, turning his head to the side so that he doesn’t asphyxiate on his own saliva.
His next breath is wet, and unsteady, and his next cough splatters the gag around his mouth with blood.
The gag tightens, grass prickling at his skin, and there’s a vine -one of Spira’s, this time, and not barbed like Oren’s, but no less dangerous- curling around his throat.
Jack can feel his air supply cutting off, his breaths becoming ever shallower, trying desperately to get all the oxygen he can. The suffocation is familiar, air in short supply, it’s so familiar… He can remember how it felt-
The water is closing in over his head, the frigid cold soaking into his very bones, flooding his nose and mouth, burning in his chest, his lungs, and at least he saved Emma, at least he managed to save his sister, but no, please, no, he doesn’t want to die!
He tries to kick out, but his limbs are held back, heavy, leaden, he’s drowning.
He’s dying .
Then suddenly there’s air again.
The winter spirit gasps, heaving in precious breaths, the pressure on his lungs lessening, pain shooting through his body from the simple inhalation, but he can breathe again, he can move his limbs again!
Everything comes rushing back, and Jack can hear the Wind rushing around him, wrapping him in her protective embrace, ruffling his hair in concern.
“I’m okay,” he says breathily, reassuring and relieved, and he’s not sure who he’s actually trying to calm, Wind or himself.
“I’m okay,” he repeats again, just to feel the words in his mouth. “I’m fine, just another attack, I’m fine.”
And yes, he really is fine, if not a little shaken. He’s been getting these panic attacks since he got his memories back, and well, he’s mostly learnt how to deal with them (or at least their aftermath).
Jack turns, feeling eyes on him, and he meets Oren’s and Spira’s gazes, emotions flitting across their faces, a little angry, a little awed, and a lot frightened.
Then he sees the ground he’s standing on.
What had once been a large clearing of damp, bare earth is now a frozen tundra, the shattered, frozen remnants of Spira’s and Oren’s attacks littered around him in a wide radius, almost as if caught in an explosion, with him as the bomb.
And slowly, Jack realises, that’s exactly the case.
He knows that when his emotions get the better of him, his powers tend to go haywire and out of control. The last time that had happened, discounting the battle with Pitch, was during the Easter of ‘68.
And, well, it looked like that had happened here too.
His panic attack must have triggered a similar response to what had happened when Sandy’d died, flash-freezing the grass and vines, embrittling them and freeing him.
All three of the other Seasons are on the icy floor, Fiera sprawled haphazardly on her back, unconscious with her arm bent at an unnatural angle, clearly broken, if not dislocated, and fingers blue, frostbite settling in.
Oren and Spira are propped up on their forearms, looking bleary and dazed, staring at him with something akin to terror in their eyes. Then they scramble to their feet and flee, leaving Jack alone with Fiera’s supine form.
The Guardian sighs, rubbing at his forehead in exhaustion, trying desperately to ease the pounding, throbbing migraine, a byproduct of both power exhaustion and his injuries.
He musters his remaining reserves of strength, banishing the cold from around Fiera, before calling upon Fiera’s helpers to aid their lady.
Then Jack collapses to the ground, the world going gray as he shifts in and out of consciousness.
The last thing he remembers is Wind’s soft caress before she picks him up gently.
Then he blacks out.