Hi! This is my first multichapter Jelsa story, and probably my one and only. It's a human college AU. Also available on AO3!
He felt nothing but cold.
He couldn't breathe. He couldn't breat—he couldn't breathe.
Light, slowly ebbing away.
So, so cold.
Pain in his chest.
Cold, so cold.
Darkness, slowly crawling in. If he could just close his eyes, just for a second... there. He doesn't need to breathe anymore.
There's no light. Nothing but darkness.
Jack woke up with a start, eyes wide, cold sweat making his t-shirt cling to his skin. He cast his gaze wildly around, barely seeing shapes in the dark. He was breathing fast, and once he realized this, he tried to control his breathing.
Deep inhale, deep exhale.
Once Jack finally managed to calm down, he stood up from the sweat-soaked bed and went to the bathroom. Before he entered, he looked at his phone at the time.
5:17 AM. Delicious. No point in trying to go back to sleep, then.
Turning he light switch on, he flinched at the sudden influx of light.
When he opened his eyes, he didn't recognize himself in the mirror. Well, not the old him, anyway. Deep, purple circles betrayed his fatigue. The slouch definitely did not help, either. His hair looked oily. He snorted to himself.
„Could make me a grilled cheese on these," he mumbled. He didn't look healthy, not really. He was paler than usual, his eyes looked dim. He avoided looking at his chest.
„Need a goddamn shower," he whispered. Jack stepped in the shower, and with shaky hands, slowly turned it on. He gasped when the hot water hit his skin, and then relaxed nearly immediately, his posture saggy.
After he showered and brushed his teeth, Jack changed the sheets and put the dirty ones in the laundry – he'd take care of those, later.
His phone buzzed.
6:13 AM – Good luck on your first day as a junior, Jack! -Nick
Jack smiled to himself. Leave it to North to send him a goodluck message. He sighed.
„First day as a junior, eh?" he said out loud, his voice resonating in the empty apartment. „What's the worst that could happen?"
Elsa woke up with a start, her hand flying to her phone to turn off the alarm nearly instantaneously. She glared at it. She got a full night's sleep for the first time in forever, only to get woken up by her alarm clock? To that song, nonetheless?
She sighed. 7:30 AM. She vaguely remembered setting it up last night before going to bed. Good. At least she now had the time to freshen up, as to not look like an average zombie college student roaming the campus.
Like her dearest sister, for example. Today would mark Anna's first day as a college freshman, in contrast to Elsa's first day as a junior.
„ANNA!" she yelled, „WAKE UP!"
She heard some vague sound that could be described as a groan through the thin walls, and she smirked a little. Gently tiptoeing through the apartment, Elsa slowly and carefully sneaked into Anna's room. The girl was still asleep, her hair a bird's nest, a little bit of drool at the corner of her mouth. Elsa's eyes softened as she looked at her sister. So young, so precious.
This would be sweet.
Quietly, Elsa grabbed a pillow from her sister's bed, and with a smirk, smacked her right in the face with it.
Anna bolted upright. „WHA—? ELSA!" she yelled.
Elsa couldn't contain it any longer, and she set her giggles free, clutching her sides. Jesus, she hadn't laughed this much since high school! Anna, seeing her sister laugh like this, gently smiled. If that's what she would get for getting woken up this rudely, she'd take it every day.
Once Elsa managed to calm down, she looked at Anna, and noticing the soft expression on her face, she sent her a questioning one in return. Anna just shook her head.
„Nothing, sis. Ready for your first day? What's your first class?"
Hearing Anna's excited questions, Elsa felt butterflies in her stomach. Not the good kind – but the kind that started eating her insides. She forgot to take her pills, preferring to wake up her sister rather rudely.
„As ready as I could ever be, and if I recall correctly, it's an introductory class for stress management and mental health? What about you?"
Honestly, a stress management class for juniors? For freshmen, yes, she could understand, they needed to adapt and ease themselves into it, but she thought that for juniors, such lectures weren't necessary, and it would only take up her much valued time for herself.
She realized Anna had been talking the entire time. „—ure, honestly, but I think it's either Acting or History of the Theater. I'll check my timetable later."
„You do that. I'll go put myself together, wouldn't want to scare my peers," Elsa smiled at gently at Anna and slowly made her way towards the bathroom.
„YOU'RE TOO PRETTY TO SCARE ANYONE, ELSA!" Anna yelled back.
„They don't call me the Ice Queen for nothing," she said quietly.
„Nothing, sister dear," she yelled back.
After a quick shower, she applied some eye shadow and mascara, no foundation needed. Pulling her hair into a french braid, she felt the tightening deep inside her, and her lip started to tremble a little.
Deep breath, Elsa. The pills. She forgot to take her pills.
Jack had been sitting at the back of the lecture hall for nearly twenty minutes, gently typing away on his laptop, his gaze intense and focused. When he closed the tab, a picture of himself, North and his sister stared at him, all of them wearing bright smiles on their faces. He shook his head and smiled, a little nostalgic smile. If only his mother could see him now. See her now. She probably wouldn't be proud of him, but she definitely would be proud of her, of that he was sure.
From the corner of his eye, he could see someone sitting down next to him, right before a gentle wave of vanilla hit his nostrils. It was a girl, that much he was sure of – he'd never met a guy who used vanilla shampoo. Well, maybe North, that definitely wouldn't surprise him. Shaking his head, he focused on his laptop again.
His focus was useless, as the professor entered only a few minutes later, silencing the entire junior class with a look. The class was about to start. He sighed.
Why was this mandatory, again?
The professor introduced himself as Counselor Hans Westergaard, and he looked to be only a couple of years older than him, with ridiculous sideburns and a spring to his step that seemed too fake to be genuine.
„Welcome back, students!" he said, clapping his arms together. Jack's eyes nearly rolled out of his head when he heard the fake enthusiasm. Good. He definitely wasn't the only one who didn't want to be here. „I believe your summer vacation went well! Now, I'm incredibly excited, as I'm sure is the rest of you. Here, we will learn, together, how to battle stress and what it means to have good mental health. Should you have any questions, please, don't hesitate to ask!" he finished.
„If his sideburns are as fake as his words, I wonder how much glue he uses to keep them stuck on his face," he mumbled to himself, annoyed with the professor's false words, and even more so with his fake cheerfulness.
Jack heard someone snort from the next seat over, followed by a sound of soft giggling. His head snapped to his right, and his eyes fell upon the source of the sounds – it was the vanilla girl, who was looking at him with amusement in her eyes and a smile on her face. She was still giggling.
She was beautiful.
Jack's mouth automatically quirked upwards into a gentle smile, his cheeks reddening ever so slowly. She seemed to have noticed, and her smile widened in response. Jack quickly averted his gaze. He could feel her eyes on him for a few seconds. Before he could ponder on it, the feeling disappeared, leaving him to focus on the fake words of the so-called counselor.
„Now, since this is our first lesson, normally, I'd ask everyone to introduce themselves. However, seeing as there's about three hundred of you just in this hall, how about you write me a short essay about your most traumatic experience and send it to me? You have 20 minutes. Chop chop."
At the counselor's words, Elsa's eyes nearly bogged out of her head.
„What the fuck?" This time, it wasn't her laughing – rather, she heard a loud snort from her left. It was the pretty boy who made the joke about Counselor Westergaard's sideburns. Her cheeks felt hot.
She had noticed him right before she saw down, only minutes prior to the lecture. He was good looking, with sharp jawline, blue eyes a few shades darker than her own, and, of course, a full head of silver hair, which surprised her the most. The boy seemed to be around her age, maybe a year or so younger, which was not so surprising.
If she hadn't taken her year-long sabbatical, she would be a senior.
What surprised her were the deep circles under his eyes, not unlike her own only a few short months ago. Or maybe weeks? It was only the first day, though, it didn't make sense. Why did he look so tired?
It wasn't just one's regular, college-induced fatigue. This seemed deeper. He looked tired to the bone – physically and mentally.
She wondered what happened to him, but she knew it wasn't her place to ask. She didn't even know his name. She'd never met him before.
Also, she had been staring at him for a few minutes now. He had definitely noticed, based on the raised eyebrow. She blushed and shook her head, before mumbling a quiet apology and turning away.
Her greatest trauma, really? And to e-mail it to him? A college counselor? She could barely talk about her trauma to Anna, who pretty much went through the same thing. She refused to open up to some random college counselor whose smile looked about as fake as her own on a bad day.
Unbeknownst to them both, Jack's line of thinking followed hers.
Twenty minutes later, when only a couple of students sent their essays, the counselor's patience seemed to run out.
„Only twelve students actually wrote what I asked them to. Would anyone like to share why the rest of you didn't?"
Jack tensed, and the words flew out of his mouth before he could stop them. „Well, counselor, maybe it's a little hard for people to share the hardest moments in their life with a person who is barely qualified to be a counselor, don't you think?" his voice resonated in the large hall.
Jack was pretty sure he could hear a pin drop in silence such as this, but he didn't care. He continued. „You claim to be a counselor, but do you even realize how hard it is for some people to actually talk about their issues with a trusted person? No, you probably don't. You probably can't think to save your life. How about you show some respect to everyone here?"
The more he talked, the more he noticed Counselor Han's face redden – whether it was with embarrassment or with anger, he wasn't sure. Probably both.
„You," the counselor snarled, „leave. Now."
Not even sparing him a glance, Jack packed his things and stood up. His eyes caught the pretty blonde sitting next to him, who was looking at him with something akin to shock in her eyes. He broke the eye contact and pulled his hood up. Jack felt her eyes on him until he closed the door.
It was a slow day at the Starbucks, which allowed Jack to be interrogated by one of his best friends.
„You're shitting me, right? You seriously got kicked out of your first lecture, on the first day of school, because you told off a professor?" Hiccup asked, writing a name that didn't even resemble the one the customer gave him.
„He ain't even a professor," Jack responded, „he's a fucking counselor who doesn't know shit about what it means to actually help people."
Jack decided not to mention the pretty blonde to either of his best friends.
Hiccup laughed. „Well, someone's grumpy today."
Jack sighed. „Sorry, didn't get much sleep tonight. Again. Plus the whole getting kicked out of the lesson fiasco... God, I hope North doesn't find out."
„Doesn't find out what?" Jack turned around, coming face-to-face with a person he least expected to see today. His face broke into a smile.
„Hey, Aster. Whatcha doin' here?" he asked. Aster looked at him incredulously.
„Ordering coffee, what does it look like I'm doing?"
„Oh, I don't know, visiting your best friend, for example?" Jack responded sarcastically.
Aster slapped himself on the forehead. „Right, yes!" He looked at Hiccup. „How are you, best friend?"
Jack rolled his eyes. „Ass."
Jack was also pretty sure he hard Hiccup mumble jackass under his mouth, which resulted in Hiccup getting gently smacked upside the head.
„Movie marathon at ours tonight? Hiccup, you could bring Astrid. Tooth's been asking about her. Jack, you in?"
After both Jack and Hiccup confirmed their affirmative, with Jack's being far less enthusiastic than Hiccup's (mostly because he wanted to get some sleep, but he knew he wouldn't get it, anyway), Aster threatened, „Now give me my Nitro Cold Brew, Overland, before I talk to your manager." His usual theatrics were not surprising in the least. Jack rolled his eyes again.
„Love you too, Sonjack."
„What the fuck, Bunnymund?"
„So, how was your first day?" Elsa asked as she and Anna strolled through the park, both of them with ice cream in their hands. At the question, Anna immediately perked up.
„Oh my God, it was so awesome! Theater history is so interesting, like you wouldn't believe! Who knew Shakespeare was a memer? Oh, and acting is so much fun! Though I still prefer singing. And everyone was so nice! Oh, that reminds me, Kristoff called me, says he wants to take me out to dinner tonight," she finished with a dreamy sigh.
Elsa smiled at her sister's enthusiasm, and her smile only widened at the mention of her sister's boyfriend of two years. „I hope you have fun, sis."
Anna finished her ice cream and wrapped an arm around Elsa's shoulder, who tensed slightly. Before Anna had a chance to lean away, Elsa relaxed into the touch and smiled. „Thanks, I definitely will. What about you? How was the.. stress health class?"
Elsa laughed. „Stress Management & General Health. It was... definitely interesting. The counselor's a dick, though."
Anna choked. „This is probably the first time I've heard you swear since high school! Spill, now!"
And so, Elsa told her. Told her about the stupid, entitled counselor, told her about his even more stupid sideburns, and, of course, mentioned the unsung hero of the day, who stood up to him and put the dumbass in his place.
„Wow," Anna said, stars in her eyes. „Was he hot?"
„Sorry, sorry! But I mean.. was he..?"
Elsa sighed. „Yes."
Half an hour later, they found themselves in front of the local Starbucks, which was mostly visited by other students of their college. Elsa, an engineering major minoring in business, consumed large quantities of coffee. Mostly black and homemade. She had never been to this Starbucks before.
Elsa was pulled out of her reverie by Anna shaking her shoulders. „Come on, let's go! I want a pumpkin latte and by God, I am getting a pumpkin latte!"
Elsa rolled her eyes, not without affection, and entered the coffee shop with her sister in tow. What she didn't expect, however, was the silver haired barista bickering with his colleague.
She stopped in her tracks, her anxiety flaring up, freezing her in place. Elsa's eyes widened. She took her pills, why was she reacting this way?!
„Elsa, are you okay?" a gentle hand touched her shoulder, and Elsa shook her head to clear it. She smiled at Anna and nodded. „Yeah, let's go."
„Two hotties coming in, eleven o'clock," mumbled Tuffnut. Jack gave him a hard glare. Tuffnut promptly shut up. When he looked at the two approaching hotties, as Tuffnut put it, his eyes nearly bulged out of his head when he saw the pretty blonde from his lecture today, with a girl who looked fairly similar to her, only shorter, more freckled, and strawberry blonde hair.
„Welcome to Starbucks, a place full of love and joy," said Jack monotonically. He grinned a little at their flabbergasted expression. „What can we offer you today?"
The strawberry blonde smiled. „One pumpkin spice latte, please! Make it big. Name's Anna."
„One pumpkin spice latte for Anna, got it. And.. you?" he asked, looking straight into the platinum blonde's eyes. She blushed. He blushed, too.
„Uh, one caramel macchiato, please," she said quietly. Jack smiled kindly at her.
Her eyes widened. „Huh?"
Jack thought she was adorable. „Your name.. for the cup?"
„Oh, uh, right. Elsa. My name's Elsa," she said, this time with more confidence.
Jack smiled. Elsa. What a pretty name.
„I'm Jack," he said, and then facepalmed.
Dumbass, he thought. The girl – Elsa – however, seemed to find it amusing. „Nice to meet you, Jack."
„Nice to meet you, too," he said gently, looking into her eyes. He cleared his throat. „Anyway! One caramel macchiato for Elsa, also coming right up!"
From the corner of his eye, he noticed Hiccup looking at the exchange with great interest, as was the strawberry blonde. Anna? Anna.
Jack set out to make the drinks, while Hiccup rattled off the price. During the making process, Jack was silently berating himself.
„You've got issues, Overland, but you used to be smooth. Jesus Christ, why would you tell her your name when you asked for hers for a fucking coffee cup. Come on," he whispered quietly to himself, making sure no one heard him.
After the drinks were done, he promptly gave them to the girls, hopefully not mixing them up. He shouldn't, considering the latte was hot and the macchiato was cold, but one never knew. With a final glance, the girls left, and Jack sighed.
„So... Elsa, eh?" Hiccup said, waggling his eyebrows.
„Shut up, Haddock."
„What was that?" Anna questioned.
„What do you mean by?" Elsa asked, pretending to be confused, all the while knowing what her sister was asking. She decided to play dumb.
„You were totally eye fucking the guy!" Elsa choked on her macchiato. What a shame, it tasted divine.
„I was not!"
Elsa sighed. „Look. You are, no doubt, aware of the boy I told you about. The one that told off the counselor?"
After seeing Anna nod, she said, „That was him."
Her sister's eyes widened. „Him?! HE was the one that told the counselor to fuck off?"
Elsa winced at her sister's use of language, but decided not to berate her on it. She nodded.
„Well, that one's a hot piece of a man. Not my type, obviously," Anna said.
„Obviously," Elsa nodded, her voice dripping with sarcasm. „Listen, can you just drop it?"
Seeing Elsa uncomfortable, Anna decided to indeed drop the topic. She still thought the guy was hot. And based on the way he looked at Elsa's face (when Anna was a child, she used to think Elsa hung the moon. The guy wore a very similar expression), he thought she wasn't bad herself.
She shipped it.
„So, what did we hear about you embarrassing yourself in front of a pretty girl?" Tooth asked that evening, her voice mischievous.
Jack groaned. „Fuck off, Tooth."
She tsked. „That's not how you talk to your elders, mister."
He rolled his eyes. „You're a month older than me. What's the point of your question?"
„Jack, you used to be a heartbreaker," at his indignant protest, she hastily corrected herself, „you used to be able to flirt yourself out of any situation. What gives?"
„Nothing. I just got tongue tied. I was tired. I still am. Drop it." Seeing his expression, Tooth relented, but not before giving him a look.
Deciding to throw him a bone, she asked, „So, what movies are we watching today?"
„I.. I thought Aster was taking care of it?" The confusion in his voice was hilarious.