A light disarray of rain softens the earth, well enough to break it and pile it, with smoothness that it would easier to set back in place when everything was done. Nothing but the faint dulls of splashes, metal shovel grinding from rocks or roots now and then, but not enough to break one's train of thought. Unfilled breathing every so often when light lungs beg for a break, the reply never came.

Willing to keep going, having already near reach the aimed target, the clunk of wood tapping against metal was never a failing of a wonderful tone to some people.

Placing the shovel away from the opening, well enough not to fall over, the person found the lacked that kept the aging casket closed, with a good yank, the rust gave way and broke.

A small curse was not hard to miss; having the afterthought to think of fixing the lock after the deed was done. The lid resting on the rain-damped wall; carelessly with a knock, only having a sigh follow not long later, and having tried eyes look upon the ash-skin fading face, bone slowly making its way to show, a tattered suit with well placed crossed hands.

The one looking, eyes emoting with subtle understanding but sadly not fully; a fail in judgment that's all it was. Again a loose sigh came, with rustle of cloth, the ticking of a clock going as it echoed through the air.

The person glanced at the watch, a neatly polished pocket watch, braced in gold paint; with its sliver face living on as the once solid shade of black numbers grayed away. With gentle hands, placed the watch back in place where the now boned hand curved as if it was holding something. Once it was placed, the person bended down, resting a hooded head against a skull.

"Forgive how some lifestyles tend to stray onto a path that is at times hard to absolve and disregard." The words slipped out, looking into thin eyelids into the empty sockets, but the feel of something calming came and went, and it was welcoming enough.

Straightening up the person did, giving one more goodbye, before closing the casket once more. Fixing the lock; back in place, as if it was good as new. Carefully as a ghost; got back to level feet; grabbing the shovel, and swung out of the six foot grave. Tighten a grip as before, started to place the dirt back in place, in quicker pace, as the winds started to pick up, as did the rain.

A mud covered hand back swipe raindrops off the person's forehead, leaving a small streak of dirt behind. But it didn't stop at there, until the last bit of dirt was back in place, leveled out with a wave of a hand, growing new grass to cover anything that might have been out of place, and with that finally started to leave.

Only to have been stopped the moment the person turned to face a weapon of some kind in the faded lit night. But the spirit sense wasn't that hard to point out.

"Can I help you, keeper of spring and hope, and a bit early for you to oddly be out this time of the year and in weather as this? I would say . . ."

The weapon came closer to the person's face, as the other remained quiet.

Spice orange eyes lifted up to forest green ones.

"You are angry."

A glare was given.

"Whatever it was, you think I did, I speak of a light sorry for mostly it wasn't my liability, but there, I said it."

The weapon struck down. Quickly enough the other was able to block, but in the outcome of it, was retorted with a slice opening upon one's hand, oozing slowly as it held the weapon from going any farther.

"If you here to give me, and a quote, a long overdue punishment . . . can it not be here. I doubt those below would be very happy of this kind of matter on their soil. So please . . ."

"What have you done with Jack?"

"I'm afraid I don't understand the question, last I saw of young Frost, he was heading home for his oh-so wonderful snow days, among other things, and would see I around next mouth. If he isn't at the pond, try Master North, he could be there."

The word flowed even and calm, knowing very well of the other's anger and steadiness to attack again. But calmly the words went. Stalling enough for the winds to pick up, having the spring keeper's eyes to close, slim but enough, for once he open his eyes, the other was farther away.

"You little . . . I'm talking about whatever bloody spell you put him under, to come by the sides of the likes of you?" The words came out in bitterness, in some regards strong enough to make anyone flinch as being struck, but the tone was something the other had grown used to.

"That is a matter I cannot help you with. As before, he came to me, nothing more or less. And with that, I bid you farewell."

With the flick of the wrists, the person's body begun to sink into the ground, alike it was melting, quickly enough to miss any other assaults the other could have been planning to do.

Time from than had past, but the sting from it, took forever to heal. Damage was much heavy than it was first glanced at, having splinters logged in some areas of skin, discoloring over the time, wasting magic to heal would be a waste on a cut like this, the bandages and herds would have to hold.

Shaking off the thoughts of those weeks back went back to work. The potion was almost done.

"Hollow, you home! I come in baring gifts. I swear I didn't make them!"

A tired sigh, before the words of echoing were given. "Down this way, Frost . . ."

The words came to a halt when having the young winter spirit came zooming the other's home in a storm upfront. A large grin not hard to miss, to which, if it was returned, he didn't know nor cared, skipping a few steps from tripping, he soon stood in front of the large caldron, as the other was stirring it from the other end.

"I didn't you had one of these, kind of old fashion, isn't?"

"You making snowflakes as little children do, should not be brought up, yes?"

"Right . . . anyway, gifts, here!" Frost said with glee, holding over a small cloth wrap, fainted smell of ginger wasn't hard to miss.

Hollow held out a hand for them, with the passing words of thanks. But kept eyes on the bubbling purple sludge before them.

"What happen to your hand?"

Baring a moment to place the snack bag on the table nearest to Hollow, glancing ways to Frost before looking down once more, the wrapped hand searched blindly but wisely what was needed next.

"Just scuffs with one of the spirits, nothing new . . . take a seat." Hollow said in unfocused thoughts as the color changed in the pot, as to why it did, was the reason alone for the broken words and the harsh scrapes of a chair being commanded near.

"Oh, again, should I have a word with them or something?" Frost answered back, a bit put off by the shorts words from the other.

"Not needed. They mean well, misjudging is common in many, bring in to view may do more harm than good. In more so to what is on the subject matter."

"It was Bunny, wasn't it?" Frost asked, leaning a bit, just enough into Hollow's eye view, when a reply wasn't returned, it was all he needed.

He gave a groan in frustration, rocking back and forth hard enough to stand up again. Catching the falling chair before it hit the ground and looked at Hollow.

"He came near again . . ."

"Frost, I know you mean well, but if you want this friendship to stand as it is, we take small steps. I fight my battles, as you fight yours. Agreed?"

For a moment, a response wasn't given. Having Hollow look up at Frost in the eyes, showing a sign of begging was a low to any person, and one that wasn't going to happen, but the words that might as well have been.

"Please, young Frost, not to your team. Nor bring anything in haste to me or my fellow shadow walkers. Please."

In a matter of moments, a nod was given.

"Good, thank you. Also . . ."

"Had a feeling there was more." Along with a scuff of a laugh, but he listen.

"I was just thinking that maybe you stay away for awhile."

"What?"

"It is a sound idea. Frost, they think I have you under some spell, it would be best to prove them wrong. Stay away and come back, I'll let you decide, but it can't be just the next day or something. It what has brought to this point . . . so, understand?"

"Sadly yeah, I do, but I thought . . ."

"Jack."

"Okay, okay, fine, I just like leaving . . ."

"I'll be traveling anyway, checks up and everything. You'll barely know I was gone and I very much need a breather from you."

Jack gave an eye-roll to the loose stand of sarcasm, but didn't point it out. It was a rare moment that Hollow dared enough to break those stoic manners.

"Small steps, right?"

"Ant size if needed."

"Great . . ." Jack aired out, making way out of the room, heading for the hallway, shoulders slumped a bit. But grinned, when he pretty heard a spacious grunt from the other, taking his steps slowly now as he was leaving, not once turning back before hearing.

"Frost, you don't have to start now, even I know you could never pull that off. And I will ask so you don't pester later. Would like to help, my hand is becoming sore as of late."

"About time, I starting think the worst you know!" Jack yap; with softness but glee and marched back over, helping a friend.

Another sigh, before the words came. "You are just being dramatic about everything now, yes?"

A smile was the only answer given.

Later that day, with the potion done and bottled, a quick clean of the tomb, and the two went. Having the stone door shut with an echoing thud, and the night sky being their light before having Jack's staff gives a faint glow alike that as a lantern.

"Now again, young Frost, I'll be gone for just under two months. Give or take a day or so, depends on how things go. No slacking off on your part while I am away."

"Yes mother."

"Nay those tones with me, young Frost, unless you wish to become a toad or something . . . happen once, I won't shy away to do it again."

"It was kind of fun though."

"So is busting water pipes, but you on doing not see me doing it out of boredom do you?"

"No. Got it, two months at most, but really, it feels like you're just away from this. Bunny is just being Bunny; you don't have to leave for him to back off. He'll come around."

"Many thought the same for Pitch and we all know how that turned out."

"Hollow . . ."

"I will see you again. Don't follow and stay on track with your duties or I will have Trickery after you."

"I'm shaking like the alps over here, no really."

Hollow bowed a bit, and with a snap of fingers gone. Leaving Jack alone on the sandy lands of the large graveyard, with a heavy sigh, he too left.

But not without stopping by Bunny's place. Thinking on pranks he has yet to practice on him. Two months just seemed a lot of opening options to play them all out. Only thought left was; where to start and where to end.

"Long months these are going to become, pranks galore really . . ."

Something small but harshly thrown at his head, echoed his brain about, having to see what hit him. Seeing at his feet, a rock, with paper wrapped around it. Picked it up when seeing his name and slipped it open.

And leave the Easter Keeper of Hope alone that is a warning, young Frost. Again, Trickery is watching.

Out of habit, His eyes scanned the area and truth to the words, there was Trickery the annoyed black ghost kitten, glaring hard at Jack.

"Oh come on!"

The End . . .?