Disclaimer: not mine

I'm putting a pole up for my Guardians fics on my ffnet account, please vote. I'm considering redeeming Pitch in one and want opinions on which fic it could happen in; Death's Winter, Not Quite a Mirror Image, Winter's Frost, or a new story.

Chapter 16

Aster looked up as Jack joined him, dressed in the loose clothing he wore to bed. Tomorrow, Jack was going back to the Winter Court and he refused to let any of them go with him. He understood why, Jack had to claim his position without it seeming like the Court would become part of the Guardians or something. The thought of Jack going back there…

"It'll be okay," Jack whispered before kissing him.

They'd gotten the hang of kissing each other which was very nice. He felt Jack's hand stroking through his fur, and it felt nice too. He was shocked when Jack straddled him. "Snowflake?"

"You aren't anything like her Aster," Jack answered before pulling his shirt off, revealing even more pale skin.

He didn't care about how Jack's body had changed due to her interference and it was good to know it would have happened naturally, eventually. He gently touched Jack's chest, feeling his heart pounding. "Jack…"

"Don't you want me?" he asked shakily.

"Your heart is racing mate."

"I'm not scared or flashing back or anything," Jack swore. He shifted on top of him and Aster blinked, oh. How hadn't he realised? "I don't know how long I'll be gone, how long it'll take to get things under control. I want this, please." He ran his hands through Aster's chest fur, and he shivered.

"Okay," he agreed. "Never actually done this with a human before," he warned, and Jack nodded. "Any time you want to stop, just say, and we will," he promised. No matter how sure Jack was at the moment, that could change. They'd take it at Jack's pace. It had been a very, very, long time since he'd been in a relationship too.

Jack kissed him again, leaning over him, and he steadied him by gripping his hips gently. Eventually, he began gently exploring the smooth skin, finding Jack's body totally hairless, then again with the changes to his skin, it wasn't all that surprising. He hadn't really paid attention to that before, that was all. When Jack lifted up to wriggle out of his pants, Aster helped. He'd seen him in varying stages of undress over the years, but never fully naked, not like he was now. Jack blushed at his perusal but didn't try to cover himself or put a stop to things.

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Jack couldn't help blushing as Aster looked him over, he knew how different he looked since his kidnapping. He wasn't sure why Aster was attracted to him, but he definitely was from the look in his eyes. He'd told the truth, he wasn't scared, but he was nervous. His only experience had been with her and while he knew from catching sight of a few couples how it should work between two human males, they weren't human. Jack might look human, but he was a Spirit, he was Winter now, he'd been dead for centuries and was now partially alive…who knew how his body worked.

He rocked against Aster, happy to see he obviously liked it. He did it again, getting into a rhythm. The feeling of warm fur on his bare skin felt incredible and Aster was obviously enjoying his efforts too.

"Jack…" Aster groaned, and Jack stopped.

"Am I doing something wrong?" he asked, and Aster shook his head, stroking Jack's back and he couldn't help arching into his touch before being tugged down into another kiss. The touch moved down his back, ever lower, and he jerked slightly at the odd sensation. The touch immediately withdrew, moving back up his back.

"Sorry," Aster whispered, and Jack shook his head.

"It just felt strange." But it also made sense, very different to anything he'd had done to him with her. He wanted to be with Aster however they could be. "Can we?" he asked, and Aster blinked at him.

"You sure?" he asked, and Jack nodded.

"I want to try, please. I…I just don't know how," he admitted. "I've seen…"

"Shh, it's okay Jack," Aster kept stroking his back. "We'll figure it out together mate."

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Aster watched Jack sleep, the new Winter King breathing softly, face peaceful, as he law in his arms. He honestly hadn't expected that, not so soon, and especially the way they had done it. he had thought that Jack would want it the other way around, to be in control, but while Aster had let Jack control things, he had chosen to have Aster inside of him…something she wouldn't have done. Was that it? He had wanted it that way because it was very different to what he would have done with the Snow Queen?

It had taken some trial and error and a bit of awkwardness, but they'd worked things out eventually. In the end, it had been really good, to be so close to someone he loved. He wanted that every day, but it wasn't possible. Jack would be leaving for the Winter Court soon and who knew how long he'd be gone. Even beyond that, they both had their duties to attend to, though Jack was the one whose work took him all over the world all year around. He was gone a lot more than Aster was but that was the way things were. Hopefully, once he had the Court all worked out, Jack would be needed less. After all, the Snow Queen had pretty much never left the Court, not that he could see Jack doing that even if he did find Spirits he could trust, Jack was also a Guardian and he loved playing with the kids.

Jack stirred in his arms, humming softly and Aster pressed his chin to the top of his head, nuzzling at him.

"Go back to sleep," he whispered, stroking his side.

"Bun…?" he mumbled.

"It's too early," he assured him, and Jack pressed closer, going still again.

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Jack stared at the image in the mirror, was that really him? He was still getting used to his changed appearance but the clothing…

"You look amazing," Aster told him as he moved in behind him.

"I don't look like me," he argued.

"It's just clothing," Aster assured him, wrapping an arm around his waist.

Just clothing…he'd never worn anything like it! the outfit had arrived from the Pole, curtesy of the Yeti. White silk and fur with silver and blue mixed in, his own chosen colour mixed in with that of the Court. The outfit was formal but also designed to ensure he could move easily on land or in the air. He glanced at the box on the counter and grimaced.

"Is that necessary?"

"Maybe not for us, but for them? They'll expect it Jackie," Aster reminded him, and he sighed but nodded. Aster opened the box and drew out the crystalline circlet within, gently settling it on Jack's head. He'd vetoed a full crown at least, not wanting something so pretentious or like what she had worn.

"I look ridiculous," he grumbled, and Aster chuckled.

"You look like a king," he rubbed his chin over the top of Jack's head, and he leant back into him. "Be careful," he warned.

"I promise," he turned to hug Aster tightly and then leant up for a kiss. "I'll come ho, back," he quickly covered what he'd almost said.

Aster smirked at him. "You'll come home."

Jack blinked. Home…it had been so long since he'd had a home. He swallowed hard and then nodded. "I love you," he whispered and then bolted.

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Aster stared after him, blinking, and then he smiled. He hadn't expected to hear that from Jack, not for possibly years, not after everything he'd been through. Pity he'd run off as soon as he said it. He shook his head and then went around tidying up before getting to work for the day.

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Jack appeared before her throne, ready to throw up an ice shield, but the room was silent. He looked around and grimaced, moving to the side of the Yuki-onna who was sprawled at the bottom of the stairs to the throne. He carefully rolled her over, checking for any signs of life, finding something very faint. He hesitated but then carefully reached out for her magic with his own, feeding a trickle of power to her.

Slowly, she began to strengthen, stirring, even as Yeti appeared and Jack looked up at them. "Why are you here?" he asked in confusion, blushing slightly at the answer that they had wanted to be there for him since they were technically Winter too.

He glanced down at a soft noise and saw dull eyes staring up at him. "Can you hear me?" he called gently. He…he knew her. She had been the one to patch him up and take him back to his room when he was injured in training, at least until the Queen had taken him to her bed. "What happened?"

She didn't answer, just staring through him, and he swallowed. "We need to find everyone else," he told the Yeti who quickly spread up to search even as Jack lifted her up, carefully laying her on the dais as he tried to work out what was wrong. Of everyone at Court…she had been the kindest to him, even when they both barely felt a thing, and he'd never even learnt her name. He brushed long white hair off her face, trying to sooth her if she was aware, trying to work out what was wrong with her.

Within minutes the Yeti were returning, some carrying almost lifeless Spirits and creatures. The entire Palace was silent, the occupants either deeply unconscious…or worse. Jack stared at them in shock and horror.

And then there was a commotion at the doors, and he looked up to see two Yeti supporting a Mahaha supported between them. Not one he had seen at Court during either of his 'stays'. He'd never actually seen one at all in his travels across the northern lands. Most considered them something of a joke, who killed by tickling someone to death? And they weren't exactly the brightest either, easily tricked.

Jack approached and it stared at him dazedly but more aware than any of the others. "Do you know who I am?" he asked, ignoring the creepy grin on its face.

"K…ng…"

"What happened?" he asked, and then listened carefully.

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Aster was shocked when he felt Jack enter the Warren, quickly putting his tools aside and heading for where he had entered, finding him sitting on a bench in front of their home…and yeah, he got a kick out of even thinking that phrase. "Snowflake?" he called in alarm, seeing his slumped posture.

Jack looked up at him, revealing icy tears on his face. "Aster." He got up and threw himself at him.

"It's alright, I've got you," he promised, holding him tight.

"They…" Jack shuddered.

"What happened? Are you hurt?"

Thankfully, he shook his head. "The Court…they're all dead or unresponsive," he choked out. "Her magic…"

"Oh Jackie," he whispered. Okay, he wouldn't put that past her at all. He wouldn't shed a tear for most of them, she'd collected those that would have revelled in violence and death even without her urging. But he doubted they were the only ones there. "It isn't your fault," he promised. It wasn't, Mother Nature had arranged the duel and Jack had no way to know what would happen with her death.

"I don't even know her name but…she was the first one I found. She…she used to patch me up after training, was as kind as she could be with her emotions numbed. She's alive but…"

"Shh," he kissed the unruly hair, rocking him gently. "We'll take a look, yeah?"

Jack nodded and pulled back, taking his hand and then they were in the throne room. It was warmer than last time thankfully, because of her death or because Jack was now King?

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Jack stood in the snow, watching the last body fade away. The living were being cared for by the Yeti after North and Aster had looked them over. No one was sure if they would recover or not and even if they did, if the effects of Winter's Kiss would wear off or not.

Winter's Kiss…he hated it…and he knew he now had that power. Why? What was the point to it? Why would Mother Nature even give anyone that power? He didn't want it. He'd never use it…would he? He…he could see a use for numbing a mortal to the cold, he'd come across people over the centuries that had died from the cold because he couldn't help them. But the rest of the powers that came with it?

"Alright Jack?" a heavy hand clasped his shoulder and he looked up at North.

"No," he admitted and North nodded, squeezing gently.

"We will help however we can. For you and because it is right. So much death is not good, could unbalance the Season."

Jack nodded; he was worried about that too. He may not like the nastier Spirits and creatures associated with Winter, but many did actually play a role.

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North watched Jack go back inside and shivered, it was warmer than their last visit but still cooler than the Pole. Jack had no desire to be Winter, to be King, but now the role was his and North knew he would do his best for all of his people. To have so many dead or in the condition they were would hurt him, even if he did not know them or agree with what they did. Jack had a kind heart, sometimes too kind.

Had this always been the plan for him? Had Manny brought him back as a Winter Spirit to take the Snow Queen's place? Or had it just worked out that way? Then again, the Grim Reaper held an interest in him as well. Pitch too if that recruitment offer had been real. Jack drew others to him, and a King needed that kind of charisma. That didn't mean he wished the boy would have had more time to grow as a Guardian first.

Once they had helped him fix things up with the Winter Court, then North would find a way to give Jack a vacation, Bunny too. It was obvious things were progressing there and he was happy for them. They both deserved to be happy.

TBC…