WELCOME! It is I, the Jelsa obsessed hoe. Tis my newest AU fic, this one hopefully longer than My Heart Beats For You. Thank you for clicking on it!
Among the ever busy streets of Burgess, a young boy, barely a man, could be seen sitting on the ground, not moving a muscle, just breathing, his expression vacant, and his eyes nearly empty, devoid of any energy whatsoever. The boy, wearing nothing but a pair of old trousers and a barely recognizable blue hoodie too thin for these chilly months. The boy, Jack, far too thin to fill out the hoodie properly anymore, shivered and wrapped his arms around himself, trying to keep any resemblance of heat within.
Sighing, he stood up, noticing it was slowly beginning to get dark. A person would feel safe in these parts during the day, but during the night, it was definitely not a place one should venture around alone. Especially alone.
Keeping his hood up, he put his hands in his pockets and left, careful not to leave anything behind. The streets, especially at night, could be cruel and unwelcoming, predominantly to those of no importance or possessions. Jack fit both the categories, and despite living this miserable life of no one's fault but his for nearly five months now, he still did not want to abandon this world without making his mark on it.
He had wasted – no, screwed up, royally – his life, but at least he still had the breath in his lungs, could still feel the beating of his heart, could still feel his fingers. Actually, no, scratch the last one, it was too cold for that.
Jack sighed and kept his head down, careful not to make eye contact with any of his peers in the ghetto. One of the first things Jack had learned while living on the streets was to mind his own business, keep his head down, and don't stir up trouble with other people. As long as he kept to himself and didn't steal anything from them, be it from the need to get a fix or a jacket to keep himself warm, most of them would leave him alone, even though he was one of the smaller fish around.
He found himself at his usual spot, far away from anyone to be the center of their attention, close enough to bolt should anything go down. It definitely wouldn't be the first occasion. The last time Jack had to run, quite possibly for his life, was the time a couple of teenagers, a year or two younger than him at most, violently beat another homeless man, just like him, near death. Near, because Jack had intervened, painting a rather large target on his back.
Luckily, all the lost weight from his current lifestyle meant that he was a quick runner. The only reason he had come back eventually was to gather his things, only for him to discover that they were there no more. Yeah, that night sucked. A lot.
Jack curled into a ball and closed his eyes, trying to keep the memories of not just that particular night, but many others, at bay. He brought the small pendant resting against his chest to his lips, gently kissing it, before letting sleep take him under.
He welcomed the familiarity with open arms, believing nightmares to be better than his current life.
Jack woke up to the sound of panicked yells, his body going rigid with alarm, heart pumping furiously against his rib cage from the adrenaline rush. Quickly standing up, he looked around, noticing the homeless of the ghetto frantically running away. Turning his head to the opposite direction of their running, Jack finally noticed one of the buildings near the ghetto to be on fire.
Why were they running? It's not like anyone could—oh, right. The fire department would soon arrive, which wouldn't be a problem. The problem would be the police arriving just behind them. The police officers of Burgess were not the kindest towards those below them, and as luck would have it, in their eyes, everyone without a home were the ones beneath them. Jack's instincts screamed at him to run in the opposite direction, to run away and never return, to find himself another place to survive another day. Yet something kept pulling him back towards the burning building, something akin to urge.
Surrendering himself to it, Jack ran towards it, quickly avoiding others, careful not to touch anyone. Once he was standing in front of the building, feeling the heat from the fire, he couldn't help but think to himself what the hell he was doing. Unfortunately, Jack did not have any more time to ponder his question, for merely a few seconds later, he heard a high pitched scream from the inside. Without a second's hesitation, Jack ran in, not caring about causing damage – it's not like he actually had money, and to be fair, he was pretty sure the building was already fairly screwed.
The flames licked at his skin, making him feel warmer by the second. Jack regretted last night's thoughts about being cold. He, for sure, would welcome some frost now. He laughed a little at the irony.
The screams continued, and Jack quickly found himself on the third story, trying to break open a locked door. Knowing his shoulder would not do any damage to the door, but rather the door would do more damage to his shoulder, he decided to try a different tactic. Aiming at the doorknob, Jack threw a mighty kick at it, nearly sending the door flying off its hinges.
Not even bothering to appreciate how cool the moment was, his ears immediately picked up on the terrified screams, now, without the barrier, much louder than before. Jack was finally able to identify the source of the screams – a boy no more than nine years old, clutching a teddy bear and looking at the flames with petrified eyes. Luckily, he was sitting against the wall.
„Kid," Jack yelled, his voice hoarse from smoke inhalation, „lie down! You'll be able to breathe!"
The kid, hearing the voice of an adult, was quick to obey, throwing himself down on the ground and breathing deeply. Jack followed his own advice and kneeled on the ground, ignoring the burn in his lungs.
„Come here," he said, stretching his hand out. The boy quickly crawled over to him and into his arms, desperate for comfort. Desperate enough to ignore the fact that Jack hadn't showered in a week or two. Jack quickly hugged the boy back, before letting go after a few seconds and looking him in the eyes. He could hear the sirens from the outside, indicating the arrival of the fire department.
„Alright, I'll need you to be brave for me, okay? We're gonna get out of here, okay?" Jack asked. The boy, small and terrified and not unlike Jack, nodded. He was shaking, but the determination in his eyes equaled that of Jack's.
Together, they left the burning apartment, careful around the stairs. The boy's knees gave out halfway through, forcing Jack to carry him the rest of the way. Finally, he could see something other than smoke and walls, and with a final sprint, he burst through the already broken entrance, clutching the boy in his arms.
Jack let go of the boy and collapsed on the ground, gulping large breaths of air.
„Smoke inhalation," he wheezed out, „is a bitch."
Beside him, the boy giggled at the swear word, before collapsing on the ground with a coughing fit, just like Jack.
„Are you alright, sir? Is the child okay?" someone asked. Jack looked up and saw a pair of paramedics, along with a fireman, right in front of him.
„I'm fine," he coughed. „Help the kid."
One of the paramedics had been helping the boy before Jack even answered the question, and Jack sighed. Good, at least the kid would be okay.
„Is there anyone else in the building?" the fireman asked, offering Jack a hand. Jack looked at it for a second, hesitating. Eventually, he grabbed it and hauled himself up.
„Don't know, only heard the boy's screams," he said, his voice slightly clearer, yet still raspy. Jack noticed the rest of the fire department trying to put out the fire.
„You did good, kid. Let's get you checked out, you don't look that well."
„Probs because I haven't had a warm meal in months," he muttered to himself.
„What was that?"
„Nothing, my voice is still a little hoarse."
The fireman gave him a strange look, but he kept smiling, still obviously relieved to see Jack and the boy alive, despite not knowing them in the least. One of the paramedics decided to turn his attention to Jack, checking him over.
„Jeez, kid, the smoke did a number on you. You need a shower!" he exclaimed. Jack blushed in embarrassment, knowing it wasn't just the smoke itself. The comment seemed to catch the attention of one of the police officers, who made his way over to the pair.
„Could you leave us alone for a moment, please?"
Once the paramedic left, the officer asked, „Can I see your ID, young man?"
Jack looked at him and said, „No."
Giving Jack a stern look, the officer asked, „Any reason for that?"
Sighing, Jack looked at him and started counting on his fingers, „Multiple, actually. Got my wallet stolen around three months ago, I think it's a little rude of you to ask me that, given the situation, and, obviously, I'm homeless."
The officer's expression hardened, making Jack wince slightly. „Why aren't you in one of shelters, then?"
„All of them are full. I don't want to replace anyone."
Sighing, the officer said, „Be that as it may, kid, I still have to arrest you, you know that, right?"
„That doesn't even make any sense! Being homeless is not a crime!"
„Not really, but you don't have an ID, which means I can arrest you for failure to identify yourself, just like I can arrest you for lotsa other things, like begging for money or littering, or even blocking the goddamn sidewalk," he said, his expression turning slightly manic.
Jack was beginning to get worried now, knowing well how the local police treated the homeless. The man seemed kind, at first, but now he could see through his mask with quite a bit of clarity. Nevertheless, Jack was not one to back off from arguments, „Begging for money? Blocking the sidewalk? What the hell are you talking about?!"
„Soliciting. Loitering. Littering," he started listing off, but Jack stopped listening. Knowing the fact of over, and that he would at least get a holding cell for the night, Jack stretched his arms in front of him, shocking the officer into silence.
„Well, get on with it, would you?" Jack said impatiently. The officer looked at him and grinned. While Jack was thinking of multiple nasty words to say to the man as he was being led to the police car rather roughly, he decided not to say any of them.
Inside the car, Jack smiled at the thought of the small, brave boy being alive.
He spent the night in a holding cell with a couple of other people, most of them in a similar situation as him – not running away quick enough. Okay, so maybe not the exact same, per se, but close enough. Jack, in his usual fashion, did not talk to anyone, opting to try and sleep against the wall.
„Overland," said one of the officers. Jack's head snapped up. „You're free to go, all charges have been dropped."
Most of the conscious cellmates shot him a look, one either of jealousy or hate.
To say Jack was confused would be a giant understatement. Nevertheless, he decided to use this opportunity. He stood up, his back cracking slightly after a night spent in the cell, he walked over to the cell bars, waiting for the officer to open it for him. Once he was outside, the officer, one of the better behaved ones, pointed at a large man sitting on one of the benches and said, „He bailed you out, God knows why."
Scratch the better behaved part.
Jack shrugged and approached the man, feeling a tiny bit anxious.
A tiny bit more than a tiny bit. His heart was pounding almost as fast as it had been in the building.
The man seemed to notice him and immediately stood up rather gracefully, given his enormous form, and thanks to Jack's quick eyes, the tattoos peeking from under his sleeve. Jack then looked up at him, and despite the man's bushy eyebrows and intimidating beard, there was nothing but kindness in his eyes, something that shocked Jack to his core. He hadn't seen someone look at him like that in a long time.
„Ah," the man grinned, „Jackson Overland, I presume!"
There was the tiniest bit of a Russian accent, something that, Jack found, added to the mystery of the man.
The giant offered Jack his hand, and hesitantly, Jack shook it. The man's touch was firm, but not bone crushing as one would expect. „Not one for talking, eh? That's okay. Come, let's go outside. I promise I'm not a serial killer," he guffawed.
Jack, despite his senses both screaming at him to trust him and to run away from him at the same time, decided to follow him outside the police station, if only for the sake of leaving the wretched building. Once they were outside, the man looked at him.
„I am Nick St. North, but you can just call me North or Nick, whichever you prefer, my young friend. Now, tell me, how did you get into this mess?" he asked.
Jack shrugged, and for the first time in nearly a day and a half, he spoke, something urging him to trust North, „Wasn't quick enough to run, I guess."
The man smiled kindly. „Wasn't quick enough to run, or too selfless to let a young child come to harm?"
Jack looked at him, surprised, if a little stunned. He then schooled his expression to appear monotone. „I have no idea what you're talking about. Now, thank you for bailing me out. Can I leave now?"
North's face suddenly grew serious, and Jack gulped. „You can leave anytime, Jackson. Can I call you Jackson?"
Jack shrugged, and North continued, „Thank you. Jackson, I know what happened. Jamie... well, the boy you saved... told me the story. How you saved him from the fire, and how you later got arrested simply for being homeless. Children notice things, you see, Jackson. They notice a lot. And he noticed you helping him, when you could run away and not have to deal with any of this."
Jack didn't look him in the eye, and yet North persisted, „Instead, you chose to save the child. And you chose to be arrested, knowing it could happen. Why?"
This time, Jack looked at him with something akin to fire in his eyes, „Why. Why?! How could I let a kid, an innocent kid, die?! Who would do such a thing?! How can you say that I could run away?! I only did what I had to!" he nearly yelled.
„You didn't have to," North said quietly, „and yet you did."
Jack seemed to deflate a little at that, losing his energy. „How do you know the ki—Jamie?" he whispered.
North went from weird-but-genuine-grandpa to businessman in a second. His voice was the epitome of cold and professional when he explained, „His parents were not home at the time of the fire, meaning they left a young child at home by himself. They are facing charges of neglect for that, for the child could have died. In the meanwhile, I have been given temporary custody of the boy. I am his guardian for now."
„Why you?" asked Jack.
„Because," he smiled, „I run an orphanage. The North Pole Orphan Home. Maybe you've hard of it?"
Jack shook his head in the negative. „No matter. The orphanage is also one of the reasons I'm here, with you."
Seeing Jack's confused look, North elaborated. „You are nineteen, correct?" Jack nodded. „That means I cannot legally allow you to live in the orphanage as an orphan, despite you being one."
Jack winced at his words, and North seemed to realize his mistake. He moved on. „But, you can live in the orphanage if you work there!" he smiled, spreading his arms, obviously delighted at the idea.
Jack felt the opposite of that.
„Why would you want me to live in your orphanage?" he asked. „I'm sorry, but I'm not worth the trouble. How about you find another homeless kid? Maybe a minor, someone who could actually thrive in there? Thanks, but no, thanks."
Jack turned around and started to walk away, only for North to catch up to him in a matter of seconds. Turning Jack around, he grasped him tightly by the shoulders. His grip wasn't tight enough to bruise, but it was just tight enough for Jack to feel it. North looked into his eyes and said, „This is exactly the reason I chose you! Jackson, you have so much potential. I have read your file. You've been arrested multiple times since you were seventeen! You barely graduated high school, despite having a 3.5 GPA in your junior year. You had a scholarship! You could've achieved so many great things!"
Before North could continue, Jack stopped him and whispered, „Had. Could've. Not anymore."
„Maybe not. The past is in the past, Jackson. But you know what I see when I look at you?"
„A stinky hobo who weights about as much as one of your arms?"
Ignoring the comment, North continued, „A selfless young man willing to put his life on the line for people he never met. A brave boy who suffered so much and yet still hasn't given up. How long have you been homeless, Jackson?"
„Five months," he whispered. „I've been homeless for five months."
„Let me help you, Jack. You are not a charity case. You would have to work, just like the others. But I can offer you clothing. Warm meals. A shower. An actual bed. And what do you know? A family, maybe."
Jack flinched at the last sentence. „No more family."
North sighed, „Very well. The rest still stands."
Not knowing what else to do, and fearing he had nothing else to lose, Jack made a final decision.
PLEASE talk to me im desperate for social contact.. also obvi r&r thanks loves