Jack Frost was a popular name among the children of Amity Park. At least a dozen kids had an imaginary friend named Jack. Danny didn't understand why. He heard tell of this 'Jack' character all the time, but he never knew what all the fuss was about. He didn't know anyone named Jack other than his dad.
It wasn't until Christmas Eve that Danny met the famous Jack Frost. He was seven years old, and tired of his family's bickering that had become a constant staple of the Christmas season, he snuck away into the frigid air of the deserted streets of Amity Park. He just wanted to get away from the fighting.
As expected, he eventually got lost. After a while of wandering, he found the park and took shelter under a tree. It wasn't long before the cold seeped through his winter coat, and Danny started to shiver. To make matters worse, he had begun to cry somewhere around the tenth block and his face felt more like ice than skin. Danny sat under that bare tree and cried his eyes out, trying in vain to wipe away his tears with his cold hands. He was the absolute picture of misery.
"Hey there, little guy. You lost?"
Danny started with a gasp and looked up at the figure standing above him. He couldn't see very well with the tears blurring his vision, but there was definitely someone there. Embarrassed, Danny quickly wiped at his face, trying to hide his tears and runny nose.
The figure above him gasped, making Danny look up at him again. "Oh, jeez. You're turning blue! C'mon kid, I'll help you get home." The boy said worriedly, reaching out a hand toward the shivering child.
Danny stared at the offered hand. It was almost as pale as the snow around them, and Danny could see traces of ice glinting on the teen's skin. The child raised his eyes and studied his face. The boy had snow white hair, glistening just the slightest shade of blue in the moonlight. His eyes were what really caught Danny's attention. They were the brightest blue he had ever seen.
Danny realized he was gawking and should have said something, so he blurted the first thing that came to mind.
"Your eyes are really pretty."
The teen looked startled for a moment before he was suddenly in stitches. His laugh sounded like ice chimes and the cold wind. Danny didn't know how that was possible, but that's what he thought of when the mystery kid laughed. As cool as it sounded, it got annoying fast.
It was some time before the white-haired boy stopped his hysterics, and by then Danny's face was heating up in an embarrassed blush, despite how cold it was. He pouted and folded his arms angrily. Making a small "hmph" sound. The teen noticed the kid's disgruntled look and quickly wiped away his tears of mirth and tried to wrangle his expression back to something more neutral.
"H-hey, I'm sorry, I wasn't laughing at you, I was just... ok, I was laughing at you, but not in a bad way! I was just caught by surprise is all." He tried explaining, but Danny only turned his head away, arms still folded. "Ah, I'm sorry, ok? I'm just not all that used to being talked to by kids. It's kind of a recent development. Here, let me help you up." The teen stepped around Danny so he could face him again. He offered his hand once more.
This time, Danny took it and stood up on cold, shaky legs. He wasn't all that surprised at how cold the strange teen's hand was. He had a suspicion, but he wasn't sure if he should voice it.
The mysterious boy smiled. "There we go! Now, let me walk you home. No one should be outside alone on Christmas Eve." He took Danny's hand and began to lead him out of the park, after a minute or two of walking, he suddenly stopped and looked down at Danny with a sheepish expression. "Ah, I almost forgot introductions! My name is Jack Frost, what's yours?"
"I'm Danny Fenton." The child answered before falling silent again. He stared up at the newly dubbed Jack for a while, a searching look on his face. "Are you a ghost?" He asked suddenly.
Jack looked surprised, but recovered quickly to answer. "I mean... technically, I am. More of a spirit than a ghost, really. I'm the spirit of winter. I bring the cold and snow."
Danny scowled. "You don't bring Christmas, do you?"
Again, Jack was caught by surprise. "No, I don't bring Christmas. North does. Why? What's wrong with Christmas?"
Danny's glare only intensified and the tears returned. "Everything!" He shouted. "I hate Christmas! I hate Santa and the music and the presents and- and..." Danny trailed off and looked down at the sidewalk, sniffling. "And I hate the fighting..."
Jack let go of Danny's hand and crouched down in front of him. He ducked his head so he could look at the kid's face, worried. "Woah. Hold up. Fighting? Who is fighting?" Jack lowered his voice and his expression turned angry. "They aren't hurting you, are they?"
It was Danny's turn to be surprised. He didn't understand why Jack would be so mad about this. "N-No. Nobody hurts me. W-Why do you care?"
Jack smoothed his expression into something less angry and straightened his posture so he could look down at Danny. "Because I'm the guardian of fun, and if you aren't having fun on Christmas, it's my responsibility to make things better." Jack declared, looking proud of his title. He grabbed Danny's hand again and began tugging him along. "C'mon, tell me what's wrong while we walk. Fenton Works is where you live, right? I know the way."
Danny did as the mysterious spirit asked. He told him everything. How his parents always fought around this time of year about Santa, what decorations to use, what kind of cookies to bake, and just about anything else. He told Jack about how they sometimes neglected him because of their research, but also that they meant well, at least. He just didn't like how it was only around Christmas that they didn't seem to get along. Jack listened to the kid pour his heart out, nodding along with a frown and furrowed brows.
It didn't take long before they arrived at Fenton Works. Instead of going in right away, Jack turned to Danny and crouched down in front of him. Jack gave him a smile and a pat on the head.
"Listen, I know things always seem bad this time of year, but that shouldn't change your view of Christmas and winter in general. Winter is the best time of the year. Just because your parents are being grinches doesn't mean you can't still have fun and enjoy the season." Jack told Danny in a soft voice that held a certain finality that made Danny take everything he said to heart. "After you open presents tomorrow, ask your big sister or parents to take you to the park. Don't go on your own, or you might get lost again. I'll be there waiting for you, and we can have snowball fights and sled and ice skate together. Your Christmas will get better. I promise."
Danny could only nod mutely. What could he say in response to that? Jack seemed to care a whole lot, and it left him speechless and confused. Danny had just met the teen, yet he was acting like an older brother right off the bat.
Jack grinned and nodded as well. "Good. Well, you'd better get inside before you freeze to the sidewalk! See you around, Danny!" He took a step back and gave Danny a little salute before a gust of wind swept by, and Jack was gone.
That night, Danny received a sound scolding from his worried parents about running away. He and Jazz also talked to their parents about the fighting and how it made them uncomfortable. The family agreed to be better, and Danny promised to never run away again.
The next day, the family had a nice argument-free Christmas Day. They opened presents and laughed together. Then, after Danny's prompting, had a family outing to the park where, true to his word, Jack was waiting with a gaggle of kids Danny's age. They played the rest of the day, and Jack kept his promise. It really was the best Christmas Danny ever had.
From then on, Jack visited Amity around Christmas. Without fail, the spirit would arrive in a flurry of snow in the city park, where dozens of the local kids waited to play in the fresh powder he always brought. Parents watched on the sidelines with smiles on their faces as their children frolicked through the snow, some sledding, others having snowball fights, and a few playing with their imaginary friend, Jack Frost.
He visited Danny often, spending personal time with him aside from playing with all of the neighborhood kids. He made sure Danny was having a good Christmas break, and Danny cherished his new friend. His parents eventually fell back into the habit of arguing every Christmas, but it wasn't all bad, because Jack was there for him.
Until he wasn't.
Danny turned thirteen a couple months before, and excitedly waited for Jack to arrive that December.
The younger neighborhood kids still played in the park. They still had snowball fights with uneven teams and laughed Jack's name, but to Danny, they were only talking to thin air. It was confusing.
Danny went home that Christmas Day with tears in his eyes and an ache in his heart. Did Jack abandon him? The more Danny thought about it, the more he worried. Jack had been acting weird the year before. He didn't spend as much time with Danny, and when he did, he seemed quiet and distant.
Then, an older memory came to the surface of Danny's mind. A few years back, he remembered Jack saying something about how the older people got, the less they believed in spirits and thus stopped seeing them. Jack specifically mentioned teenagers. Maybe that was it? Now that Danny was thirteen, he was technically a teenager. But he still believed in Jack with all his heart, so why couldn't he still see him?
Never before did Danny feel so alone.
Sure, he still had Sam and Tucker, but they stopped believing in Jack a long time ago. Jack was special. While his friends were spending Christmas with their families, Danny only had Jack. Not being able to see him hurt. It hurt a lot.
All through winter, Danny walked past the park every day, searching. It wasn't long before the kids stopped saying Jack's name. It was a few weeks before Jack usually left Amity, which was odd. Usually Jack spent as much time as he could here before his duties forced him to leave. Danny didn't dwell on it long, though.
Spring eventually came, and with it came a deep sadness. Danny missed winter. He missed Jack. He felt like he'd just lost a loved one. He knew that was ridiculous, because Jack was definitely still out there. Right?
As the months went by, Danny's sadness began to lessen. He even began to doubt. He began to forget. He began losing his belief. His memories of Jack lost their luster. They turned grey and fuzzy, like remembering a dream.
Sometimes he would have moments of clarity where he would recall Jack vividly, and his belief would rekindle, but they never lasted long. He would quickly lose grip on the memory and it would become indistinguishable from the rest. Like trying to call up something he'd long forgotten. Just out of reach.
By his fourteenth birthday, Jack seemed like an old imaginary friend.
The winter that year came and went. Christmas was dull, but Danny couldn't figure out why that was. Maybe it was because his parents started to argue again that year.
Then, in the spring, the accident happened.
Suddenly, Danny was thrust into the spotlight, tasked with the impossible and labeled a villain. He was half dead and constantly under fire. Never before did he have so much on his shoulders. Even with his friends there to help, Danny was afraid he would crumble under the weight.
To make matters worse, he began seeing things that his friends couldn't. He saw streams of golden sand flowing through the dark skies. He saw little iridescent green bird-things flying to and fro every night. In the spring he would sometimes catch a glimpse of something huge and grey in the corner of his eye.
Everything came to a head on Christmas Eve.
In a fit of frustration at his parents' behavior, he destroyed something dear to a certain ghostly author.
The shitstorm that went down that day left Danny exhausted and utterly Christmas-ed out. He was ready for the season to end.
Danny was tired. Tired and sad. He didn't know why he was sad. He knew why he was tired, for sure. Christmas Day was a little better than the year before, thanks to the ghosts allowing him a day of rest, but it still felt... empty. Something was missing, and Danny couldn't figure out what it was.
The thought that something was wrong made Danny restless. He wasn't able to sleep that night, and at around 3 o'clock PM, he decided to take a flight around town to clear his head.
That didn't help either. The feeling that something was missing just kept nagging at Danny. It was incessant and annoying. There was something there, just out of his reach. He vaguely remembered the cold, and a somehow familiar laugh, but he just couldn't recall it no matter how hard he tried.
So entrapped by his thoughts, Danny didn't notice a blue blur dart up from the park and into his path. The boy cried out in shock when he collided with something- or someone, he realized when he heard an answering shout. Danny lost altitude and fell to the rooftop underneath him. Luckily, it wasn't too far of a drop, but it still hurt.
"Ow ow ow" Danny hissed, rubbing his head where a bump was beginning to form.
"Oh my gosh, I'm so sorry! Here, let me help you up," came a frantic voice.
Danny looked up and saw a teenager. He looked around his age, and if it weren't for the white hair and unnaturally pale skin, he could have mistook the stranger for a regular human.
Danny groaned. "I thought you guys said you'd leave me alone? The truce is still in effect! Skulker said it goes until midnight on the twenty-sixth!" He growled. Danny clambered to his feet and let his hands spark with ectoplasmic energy as he glared at the seemingly shocked specter in front of him. "Leave me alone. I won't fight you, but I won't just sit by if you attack."
The other white-haired ghost just stared at Danny with wide eyes filled with horror. It was like he was frozen. The halfa was starting to believe that he actually was until the ghost began to tremble and tears welled in his eyes. Now it was Danny's turn to be shocked. He let the charging ectoblast fade and took a step back, raising his hands in surrender.
"I-I'm not going to hurt you! Like I said, there's a truce!" Danny said gently, feeling guilty for scaring the poor ghost. His words didn't seem to affect the stranger, though, as his tears only seemed to come faster.
"D...Danny?" The ghost whispered. His voice sounded so sad.
Danny nodded, confused. "Yeah. That's me. Danny Phantom, and you are?" He prompted, hoping that making small talk would calm the ghost.
The ghostly teen didn't seem to even register the question, though, and instead took a step closer and reached out a shaking hand. "Danny... you're a ghost? B-but I saw you just last year! H... How did you... die?" He asked in a choked voice, his hand hovering next to Danny's cheek.
Danny eyed the ghost warily. "Uh... do I know you?"
The stranger flinched back as if struck, pulling his hand away and instead wrapped it around the crooked wooden staff he held to his chest like a lifeline. His icy blue eyes darted away, and stared down at his bare feet.
"No... you wouldn't remember me. Even now that you're..." the teen trailed off and closed his eyes tight.
Danny felt sorry for the ghost, but most of all he felt confused. "Remember you? I think I would have remembered meeting you. I swear I've never seen you before in my life." Even as he said that, Danny began to feel as though this stranger was familiar somehow. The way his white hair was wind-swept. How he clutched his staff as if he were terrified of letting it go for even a moment. How the frost glistened on the worn blue hoodie he wore.
Danny took a step closer and inspected the specter. "On second thought, you do look... familiar. What's your name?"
The ghost looked hopeful for a moment. "My name is Jack. Jack Frost."
Danny repeated the name to himself a few times, trying to recall where he'd heard it, because it did sound familiar. "Where have we met before? It must've been before I became a halfa, or I surely would've remembered you."
Jack glanced back up at Danny, eyes wide once again, but not in horror. "H-halfa?" He whispered, hope coloring his voice. Suddenly, the ghost's hands were on Danny's shoulders and those icy blue eyes were staring directly into his own, filled with an odd desperation. "You're a halfa?!" He shouted.
Danny phased out of the ghost's grip, startled by the sudden explosion of emotion. "Y-yeah! Surely you've heard of me? I'm like, one of the two halfas in existence. I'm infamous in the Ghost Zone."
Jack's eyes were filled with tears of joy as he darted forward once again, despite Danny's choked protest, and wrapped the halfa up in a hug. "You're not dead! Thank the stars! You had me scared for a bit, there!" The teen laughed loudly, spinning Danny around as wind whipped around them.
Danny could only stay frozen in shock in the ghost's cold grip and hear him laugh directly into his ear. Even the hug felt familiar. And that laugh...
Ice chimes and the cold wind.
He remembered that laugh. It came with the cold. It came with snow and ice and snowball fights. It came in the winter, because Jack made it so.
Then, suddenly, a memory came to the forefront of Danny's mind. He remembered being cold and scared, lost and on his own. He remembered feeling hopeless, but he also remembered a pale hand, bigger than his own, and a pair of shockingly blue eyes filled with mirth and warmth. It was Jack.
It was like the floodgates were opened, and long lost memories filled Danny's head. They were full of happiness and fun. He played with Jack and nearly the entirety of Amity's population of children, which was how he met Sam. He remembered spending time with just Jack. The two of them alone without other kids to bother them. He would tell Jack about the presents he got, about the latest comic book he was reading, and just about anything else that was going on. Jack listened to every word. He was one of his best friends, just like Sam and Tucker were.
How could he have forgotten?
"J...Jack?" Danny whispered.
Jack tensed and quickly set the halfa back on his feet. "I'm sorry- oh, jeez- you don't even know me and here I am hugging you! You must think I'm some kind of creep. I'm so sorry!" He babbled as he took several steps back, cheeks a pale blue, which Danny identified as a blush. He twisted at his staff in his hands and stared down at his feet like a kid caught stealing from the cookie jar.
Danny grinned and brought a hand up to muffle his snickers, but Jack still heard him. The spirit looked up, the blue of his cheeks growing darker, and pouted. Danny only laughed harder.
"What are you giggling at?" Jack grumbled, embarrassed. "I don't find any of this funny."
Danny forced himself to stop laughing. It was easy when he realized that behind his pout, Jack still looked sad. It made him remember that Jack thought he didn't remember him. Danny smiled and stepped toward the winter spirit and pouted back.
"Why the long face, snowball? I thought you liked to laugh?" Danny said, winking.
Jack's face went slack and he stared at the grinning ghost in front of him for a long moment, before he smiled ear to ear, eyes shining with joy. "You- you remember me?!" He gasped.
Danny nodded and laughed heartily when Jack darted in for another hug. This one was even more bone-crushing and dizzying. The wind whipped around the two, as if it were just as happy.
"I can't believe it! No one has ever remembered a guardian past thirteen!" Jack shouted before letting go of his friend. He placed his hands on Danny's shoulders and shook him lightly. "How is this possible?"
Danny grinned and shrugged. "Perks of being half-dead, I guess? I mean, as soon as I became a halfa I started seeing the fairies and the Sandman's dream sand again. I think I even caught sight of Bunny once or twice! I thought I was going crazy! Glad to know I'm not!"
Jack let go of Danny's shoulders and covered his face with his hands, giggling like a madman. "Oh my stars, this is great! Just wait until the kangaroo hears about this! A teenager who can see Guardians!" Jack suddenly gasped and looked up at Danny with wide eyes. "The Guardians! They're going to flip! You have to come with me to the workshop!" Danny didn't have time to reply before he was swept up by the winter wind. "You can fly, right? You're too big for me to carry, so follow along!"
Danny hesitated as jack flew high into the sky and pulled a little glowing orb from his hoodie pocket. It was , and though he didn't have school the next day, Danny knew his friends and family would still worry. He mulled it over for a moment, debating on whether or not he should go, but Jack's voice cut into his thoughts.
"Come on, Danny! We have so much to catch up on after I rub you in the kangaroo's face! No teen believers my left foot! He can go take a carrot and shove-"
Danny made his decision and soared up to Jack's side, smiling still. His cheeks were starting to hurt. "I'm coming! I can't wait to see the look on Bunny's face."
Jack beamed at him and tossed the glowing orb into the air. It shattered and a colorful portal formed out of thin air with an odd sucking sound. Jack offered Danny his arm and took off into the portal as soon as the ghost linked his arm with the spirit's.
"To North's workshop! You're going to love it, Danny! I can finally take you there after all these years." Jack shouted over the roar of magic as the portal closed behind them.
Danny had to keep himself from speaking, lest he say something idiotic. He was absolutely ecstatic. He was going to see Santa's workshop! It was his childhood dream come true! He was a bit nervous, though. What would the other Guardians think of him? He was a half-dead kid and they were centuries-old spirits. What if they thought he was unnatural?
Danny looked to Jack as the colors of the portal faded into the frigid air of the North Pole, and felt his worries fade away at the sight of Jack's sparkling eyes and beaming grin.
He could face even the most ancient and powerful spirit, as long as Jack was right there with him.