“Be careful.” A happy chuckle, filled with warmth and love and so many things echoed around.
Brown eyes looked at his mother, smiling slightly, holding her gaze as he speaks, “We will.”
Bunnymund does not understand what he is doing here, why he was sent to this exact place so many years ago.
“It’s okay, it’s okay.” A boy, a young boy that looked barely eighteen with eyes and hair the color of oak, thin and gangly but not unattractively so. “Don’t look down. Just… look at me.”
This was Burgess three hundred years ago. A small village still filled with trees and houses still made from stones and wood. There are two children in front of him, one an older boy eighteen, the other a little girl shaking as she tried not to put too much pressure against the thing ice.
“Jack, I’m scared.” And as the voice speaks, two pairs of brown eyes looked down just in time to see the crack lengthen.
Bunny is frozen stiff because of the cold-and also because of the words that came out of the child’s mouth.
She said Jack.
That boy was called Jack.
“I know, I know…” And the Pooka somehow sees a similarity to the situation he had never seen before. The thin shoulders, the tense stance, the wary eyes… Although they were a different color from what he knew now, there’s a connection in his memories, a dark time when he had only one believer left as Pitch cackled in the darkness at his demise.
“You’re gonna be alright.” The boy- no, that wasn’t right now was it?- Jack says with a smile, nervousness hidden under determination. “You’re not gonna fall in. Uh…” And the warrior sees the older child think before he smiles at the girl. “We’re gonna have a little fun instead.”
And the girl calls out in desperation, “No we’re not!” Annoyed at her brother and scared for her life. Bunny does not blame her and if he could, he would hop in there and hit Jack on the head.
And yet he was still unable to move.
“Would I trick you?” And Bunny is watching them again, still unable to move, still unable to help. But then again this was not a normal situation he was dealing with after all.
“Yes! You always play tricks!”
He could not change the past.
And Jack laughs, as though he felt Bunny’s hopelessness and horror, as though he was preparing to taunt the Easter Kangaroo because really, what sort of guardian of Hope are you, if lose hope?
But Jack laughs for another reason. He laughs to keep the girl that was the center of his world calm. He laughs to make her feel relieved and better.
And Bunny’s heart twinges and drops for reasons he didn’t know.
“…Not this time. I promise… I promise you’re gonna be…” And Jack smiles softly, his hands reaching out in comfort as his sister stares at him with wide eyes. “You’re gonna be fine. You have to believe in me.”
Trust me. The words were loud even if he hadn’t said them out loud. And Bunny remembers the reason why he is here, the reason why he was thrown back to the past, forced to watch helplessly, as two kids try to get out of such a situation unharmed.
“You wanna play a game?” The boy says, arms spread an inviting. “We’re gonna play hopscotch, like we play everyday.” The girl starts to smile as Jack steps to the side. “It’s as easy as… one… Whoa…!”
Bunny and Jack had been fighting again, which really wasn’t a surprise, considering their rocky relationship from the start. Although the Pooka had vow to change and Jack had sworn not to annoy the old guardian often, the tension of several decades will not so easily vanish with a few simple promises.
It had been a horrible fight, as horrible as fights can go. It had started with light hearted jabs before it flew into a wide-blown battle. Words of hate were exchanged, shouting happened, and they very nearly went into a fist fight.
It had ended with Jack leaving, angry tears refusing to be let known. And Bunny had felt horrible, sure, but he felt more angry than regretful and had proceeded to ban the sprite from his home until further notice.
“Alright…” A hand reached out for the staff that was conveniently nearby. “Now it’s your turn.”
Of course after several days, Jack had tried to break in, had tried to apologize to him, but-
“One…” A gasp from the girl and murmured comfort from the boy. “That’s it… That’s it…”
The Pooka was still so angry and so hurt that he didn’t even listen. He didn’t even look at the boy and threw him out, shouting words he could barely remember because of the blood that rushed to his head in anger, when he saw the boy frosting over delicate plants.
And Jack hadn’t come back after that. And North had come to him instead, blue eyes burning with rare rage as he picked the Rabbit by his bandolier and threw him into the portal.
Tooth was there and so was Sandy. They weren’t angry but they were sad and Bunny had barely time to register what was happening when the fairy queen shoved a familiar object into his paws and Sandy’s dream sand began to surround him. “You have to understand him.” She said as Bunny’s eyes began to droop and the box began to glow. “Please try to understand. He didn’t want to hurt you.”
And just like that, he was here.
Bunny looked up in time, just to see Jack pull the young girl from the middle of the lake. She tumbled across the icy surface, sliding out of the thin ice as Jack slid back from the momentum.
The old Pooka began to laugh in relief as the two siblings looked up, smiling, identical brown eyes lighting up from the light of the sun rays.
“Yeh crazy drongo.” Bunny said fondly and he hopped forward as Jack began to stand up. “Yeh had me worried there. I nearly-”
And green eyes widened as the last thing that could be happening, is actually happening.
And two voices, one of the past and one from the future synchronize in their disbelief and horror:
And as Bunny hops forward, his leg falls through, and suddenly its dark and it’s cold and he was scared…
And Bunny just knew no more.
The lecture was long but was not as heated as he expected when he finally woke up from that memory-induced dream Tooth and Sandy put him under.
The Pooka had barely spoken ever since he woke up, his ears were pressed to his skull. North, Sandy, and Tooth began to worry that maybe they had taken things a bit too far and they had asked if the Pooka was alright but instead of answering their question, Bunny asked them one of his own.
“Have ya… Have ya always known about how-” And the old warrior choked as he continued, “-About how Frostbite died?”
North looked at him confused but answered, “Yes, Jack had told us a few weeks after Pitch’s defeat. Why do you ask?” North questioned but then his eyes widened at the crestfallen look on the other’s face. “Bunny?”
“So you knew.” Bunny said and he looked down.
It was Tooth who gasped, covering her mouth with her hands. “That’s the first time- Oh Bunny! I’m sorry! I’m sure he-!”
“That’s enough Tooth.” The old warrior said with a sigh as he slid out of the bed he had been lying on. “It’s fine, I understand. I’ll go apologize to Frostbite.”
“Bunny!” Tooth called out, but the Pooka had already tapped on the ground and jumped through the tunnel. Sandy and North exchanged looks as the fairy folded her hands against her heart.
“I’m sorry Bunny. I’m sure he was eventually going to tell you, too.” She whispered.
It did not hurt, it didn’t hurt at all.
The fact that Jack had entrusted a part of his past to the guardians other than him did not hurt at all.
He understood that he did nothing to deserve the trust the other guardians gained from the newest guardian. He understands that he had no right to feel sad about something that had been predetermined long before.
He hadn’t trusted Jack.
And so in turn, Jack did not trust him.
“Frostbite!” Bunny called out just as he hopped out of the rabbit hole and into the cold forest of Burgess. His rabbit ears twitched as he looked around for the sprite-
But strangely enough, he wasn’t there.
“It’s the Easter Bunny!” The Pooka froze as he very nearly hopped away when the voice called, “Wait! Mr. Easter Bunny! It’s me! Jamie!”
“Oh.” Bunny breathed out as he smiled at the brown haired kid that rushed towards him. “Hey there little ankle-biter. What brings ya in this neck of the woods?”
“I’m waiting for Jack!” Jamie piped up with a grin.
“I see.” Bunny raised an eyebrow. “Do you, by chance, know where he is?”
“Yeah!” Jamie said with a grin. “He said he was going to go and visit your Warren. He heard from Baby Tooth that you weren’t there, so he wanted to get there before you came back so that he could apologize.”
The old Pooka stilled, eyes narrowing. “He’s in my Warren?”
Jamie’s smile faltered. “Are you angry?”
Bunny’s nose twitched at the question and he sighed when he looked at the wary look on the kid’s face. He bent down and patted the kid on the head. “Nah, just- I just thought he gave up on trying to talk to me. ‘M surprised that’s all.”
The young Bennett let out a sigh of relief. “Good! I thought I got Jack in trouble.” He said but then he gave the Pooka a thoughtful look. “And you know, Jack isn’t the type to give up at all. So, if I were you I’ll forgive Jack for whatever he’s done to you already. Knowing Jack, he probably hadn’t meant to hurt your feelings.”
The Easter Kangaroo blinked before he smiled uncertainly, “Yeah. Thanks little ankle-biter.”
“You’re welcome!” Jamie said as he waved when Bunny turned to leave. “Bye! Come and visit me and Sophie soon!”
Bunny barely replied a quick ‘yes’ as he hopped down the nearest tunnel and into the Warren.
The scent of snow and cold was unmistakable the moment he stepped into the luscious green of the place he called home. Green eyes narrowed and his nose twitched as his ears swiveled back and forth looking for the out of place winter spirit.
“Jack?” Bunny called out as he hopped to the pathway which held the strongest scent of snow. The sentinels shifted nervously as the Pooka hopped about. “ I know you’re here! Ya don’t have to hide from me Frostbite! I swear I won’t get mad!” He called.
Just as he said the last words, a call resounded somewhere to his right.
Loud and urgent.
“Bunny!?” The tone made Bunny’s fur bristle. “Bunny? Is that you? Bunny! Help me!”
The voice was high and distressed and it made the Pooka growl as he ran through the grass and went around the trees as fast as he could. “Jack? JACK! What’s wrong!?”
The Pooka’s hackles rose as he neared the direction towards the color dye river. He was going so fast that he nearly ran through Jack’s staff. He swiveled back when he caught sight of it and he proceeded to pick it up, heart thumping in panic.
“Jack?” Bunny called out warily.
“BUNNY!” The voice was closer and Bunny ran in four legs as he shortly arrived at the destination where the voice came from.
A frightened Jack Frost met his sight when he finally arrived in front of the infamous river dye.
“Jack! Are you alright?” Bunny asked, relieved. “How’d you get there?”
The immortal teen, gave him a look that said, Really? You’re asking this now?
The young winter sprite was standing on top off a very thin layer of iced river dye that was cracking at his feet, because he was unable to maintain the cold for much longer without his staff.
“Your stone eggs attacked me and took my staff and the only way I could escape their massive stone bodies was to stand on top of this- this thing you call a river!” Jack said in a voice that barely escaped hysterics. “Now, can you please help me off? Please? I don’t like the fact that my ice is cracking under my feet.” He said in a crisp tone that told Bunny not to question him any further on a subject he didn’t know about.
Except Bunny did know.
And the flash of Jack’s last human memory appeared in his mind, green eyes dimming as he approached the edge of the river dye. The old Pooka started to walk into the river, shivering as the thin ice melted around him. “Crikey! That’s cold.”
The young guardian of Fun pursed his lips as he willed his ice to thaw around Bunny, just enough so that the Pooka can wade towards him, arms and paws outstretched as he got to Jack’s position in the middle of the river.
“What?” Jack said, a cocky smirk on his face but it was ruined by the old fear in his eyes. “Not gonna ask why I didn’t just swim ashore when you arrived?”
“Not my business.” The pooka grunted as he held up his arms. “Now, you gonna c’mere or what?”
Jack frowned, hesitation clear in those blue eyes. “You’re just gonna dump me in the river. Don’t even think about doing that, unless you like being frozen in the middle of this pastel mess.”
“I’m not gonna dump ya just like that.” Bunny snorted, but then suddenly his green eyes lit up as he thought of something. “Ya have to believe in me Frostbite.”
The winter imp’s dark brows rose, “What-?”
“Yer gonna be alright.” Bunny said in a condensing tone, soft and hesitant but also serious. “I’m not gonna let you fall in.” He saw blue eyes widen and the Pooka continued to speak. “You have to believe in me, alright?”
Green eyes widened when cold arms suddenly came around his neck, hugging him close as the last of Jack’s ice melted just in time for Bunny to catch the other before he was submerged into the colorful river.
The grip on his fur was firm as Bunny waded carefully through the thick liquid. He was careful to hold Jack up, so that the white and blue spirit wouldn’t turn out to look like a unicorn just puked on him. When he finally arrived at the edge of the river, he gently deposited the spirit on the dry grass and was about to pull back-
-But Jack continued to cling to him. His face was pressed against the side of the Pooka’s neck.
“You knew…” Jack whispered and Bunny flinched. “You saw my memories.”
“North’s bright idea.” The guardian of Hope snorted but then he said in a softer tone. “Sorry about what happened before.” He said sincerely. “And also for looking into yer past without permission. I came looking for you to explain. I promise not to be a hot headed old man anymore.”
The arms tighten around him. “So you forgive me?”
Bunny snorted, “There’s nothing to forgive Frostbite.” The Aussie said casually. “Although yer mighty annoying, but I guess that’s part of yer charm that I have to live with.”
“Thank you.” Jack said in relief before his grip loosened and he pulled back to look into green eyes apologetically. “And I’m sorry, I was going to show you my memories eventually but-”
The old warrior shook his head. “It’s fine. All’s good. We can start over again. That alright?”
The winter sprite brightened as he nodded but then he added slowly, “Uhm, well-”
“What’s wrong Frostbite?”
“It’s just, you know about my past now. Sort of. And the guardians already told me about their pasts and everything and I just- well- since we’re sort of friends now- I-”
“Yeh wanna hear about my past.” Bunny concluded and he smiled at Jack’s uncertain gaze. “I don’t mind telling ya. I trust ya Frostbite.”
And Jack inhaled sharply before he smiled too, grin as bright as the sun. “I trust you too, Bunny.”
Maybe several centuries from then, or maybe a few decades or years (or maybe in just a few months)…
“Hey, Frostbite can I tell you something?” Bunny suddenly called to the sprite who flew down from his perch on the sentinels.
“Sure, what’s up Cottontail?” The guardian said with a wide grin that made Bunny’s heart skip a beat.
The Pooka grinned playfully, “Can I trust ya not to repeat what I said to you to anyone else?”
Jack’s eyebrow rose as he tilted his head, leaning with interest. “Sure! Lay it on me then, fluff!”
The old warrior chuckled as he produced an egg from his bandolier. Blue eyes widened when the familiar painting of a rabbit and a certain boy with white hair and blue eyes holding hands met his sight. The sprite’s cheeks frosted as Bunny urged the other closer.
“Found this little one hiding near the rocks by the river dye.” The guardian of Hope grinned. “I thought you trusted me Frostbite? Why didn’t you tell me ya had a talent for painting?”
“I- uh- That’s- I- actually I- I like-” Jack began to say but he was cut off when Bunny suddenly leaned forward and rubbed their noses together.
“Like ya’ too gumby.” The Pooka purred as Jack froze, blue eyes widening as the rabbit pulled back. “Now, I trust ya won’t say those words to anyone else other than me, right?”
There was silence, making Bunny look on in tension, wondering if he had somehow misinterpreted-
Suddenly there was loud laughter and to the Spring guardian’s surprise, the snow imp hooked his staff around Bunny’s neck and pulled him forward to kiss him on the nose.
“Yeah, I promise.” Jack said breathlessly, blue eyes sparkling. “I like you too, Cottontail.”
And Bunny sighed in relief. “Good onya, Frostbite.”