Disclaimer: not mine

Chapter 8

Jack closed his eyes as the ground came up to them, not loosening his grip on Pitch for a second. He felt the vibration for a split second as Pitch hit and then he slammed into the other Spirit. Despite the fact his body was dead, the pain was intense, and he lay there, stunned and overwhelmed. Slowly he began to move, dragging himself off of Pitch, using his staff to lever himself back to his feet, feeling his ribs shift as he did, hissing in pain. Even having his cloak mostly shut hadn't been enough to protect him from that kind of impact. He hated to think what kind of speed and force they'd hit with, at least he'd had Pitch's larger form to somewhat soften the blow.

He leant heavily on his staff, staring down at the Nightmare King. He'd kidnapped Tooth's Fairies, tried to shoot Sandy in the back…had been spreading those Nightmare Horses around for years…he'd heard the stories of what he'd done over the centuries too. Was there anything redeemable about him?

He reached out, not with his own powers, but with the power he had as Harry's Reaper. Nothing was immune to Death, not even Guardians, the Man in the Moon, nothing. All things died in the end, even Immortals…everyone except Harry and him anyway. Part of him wanted to call on Harry for his advice, but he needed to trust his own judgement, that was why he worked separately from Harry, to learn and grow.

For the first time, he reached ever deeper into his connection to death, bracing himself as he lifted his staff, feeling the wood shift under his fingers.

Eyes a mix of gold and silver slowly fluttered open, Pitch staring up at him, unable to move, to defend himself. "Yo..can't…killll…fear."

"I am Death's Reaper," he told the beaten Spirit, "so yes, I can actually." He drew on all of his strength and swung, watching the life fade from the ancient Spirit before collapsing beside the body, his staff shifting back to the normal appearance, even as he let his eyes close.

"Jack!"

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North landed the Sleigh and they all leapt from it, rushing to the landing spot. Tooth gasped, hand pressed to her mouth as they found the two. He ignored Pitch's obviously dead body to move to Jack, calling his name, but there was no response. He knelt down, not bothering to feel for a pulse since Jack was technically centuries dead. He ran his hands along his body, feeling the breaks in several bones. Who knew what kind of internal injuries there were as well.

"Sandy," he called, Dreamsand would make a gentler method of moving him. Obviously realising what he wanted, the golden sand wove around Jack, holding him still while some dusted over his face to ensure he remained out, before lifting him off the ground. North did wonder if the Dreamsand could actually affect Jack or not given who and what he was but he was likely to be out for a while anyway.

"Is he?" Bunny asked.

"Jack will heal," he assured him.

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"Pitch…is dead. I see it, but I can't believe it," Aster shook his head.

And with his head clean off! How? Jack carried a staff not a sword. After millennia Pitch Black was finally ended for good. A day he had never thought would come after Pitch had become as tied to Earth and its inhabitants as they were.

He looked over to young Jack Frost, lying utterly still on Sandy's sand. He didn't even appear to be breathing! His nose twitched as he used all the senses he had…he bounded swiftly to Jack's side, staring down at him. "North…he's…he's dead." He was just a kid, Winter Spirit or not. He'd agreed to help them despite not agreeing to be one of them, and he'd had a good reason to turn it down. He'd even shared power with Tooth to help her, despite belonging to Winter…he was a god bloke.

North seemed to hesitate before sighing. "Jack has been dead for three centuries. Drowned saving his sister and Manny brought him back but could not restore him to life."

Aster's eyes went wide and he looked at the boy again, they all did. He died? None of them had died to become Guardians. Which meant….however he had died had been what drew the Man in the Moon's attention to him. Still, to live for so long, dead but yet still in the world…how much was he unable to do because of that? Could he even eat or sleep?

"Wow! I knew you weren't a dream!" the childish voice had them all turning to see the boy from before, shoes and a coat thrown over his pyjamas but he still had to be cold…and shouldn't he still be asleep from the sand? Wide brown eyes moved from Guardian to Guardian, North shifting to hide Pitch's body from the boy's view, if he was capable of seeing him. The kid stared at Sandy and the floating bed of sand, looking puzzled.

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Jamie looked between them, he'd known it wasn't a dream! They were real! Santa Clause, the Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, and Sandman. He'd heard the loud crash, it had woken him up, and had come out to see. He wasn't sure what had caused it but they were here! Though what was the Sandman doing? It was like a stretcher made of sand but there was no one on it, was there? "Is someone hurt?" he asked, shifting closer, was the sand indented a little?

"Yes, a dear friend, but he will be alright with some rest," Santa told him, a large hand resting on his shoulder.

"Who is he? Why can't I see him?" Jamie asked in confusion.

"Ah, to see a Spirit you must believe in them. Sadly, none believe in Jack," Santa shook his head, looking sad.

Jack? A Spirit called Jack…he couldn't think of any so how could he get believers if no one knew about him? Well…no, he had heard of a Jack, just the other day. "My Mom mentioned Jack Frost, that's the only Jack I've ever h…" he blinked as suddenly there was a body lying on the sand, mostly covered by a cloak, the visible skin was very white, so was his hair. "Jack Frost," he gasped, eyes wide.

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North looked from the boy to Jack and back again. Could he… "Can you see him?"

The boy nodded, eyes still wide. "He doesn't look much older than me!"

"Ah, Jack was seventeen when he became a Spirit," he explained, without mentioning that he was dead. He studied the boy and nodded as he recognised him from the Nice list, Jamie Bennett.

Jamie hesitantly walked towards the sand, staring down at Jack. "He'll be okay?"

"Spirits aren't easy to kill mate, you'll see, he'll be back on his feet in no time," Bunny offered.

"We will tell him to come see you when he's better," Tooth told him, smiling gently.

It was a good idea, to reassure Jamie. And it would do Jack good as well, for three hundred years no one had seen him except Spirits and the recently dead. North nodded at Bunny who approached the boy.

"Come along kiddo, time to get you home before ya freeze."

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Harry froze, feeling the instant of pain from Jack and then him pulling deeper on the power of Death than he ever had before…then nothing, he was unconscious. What was going on over there? He was still hitting nothing but dead ends so he vanished, heading for the Pole, knowing North would take Jack to his home to recover.

He found Jack in the same room as last time, perching on the edge of the bed to look him over. Oh Jack…he placed a hand on his forehead, sending him energy to speed his healing.

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North opened the door and relaxed as he saw Harry sitting on the bed. "He is well, yes?" he asked.

Harry looked up at him. "He will be. What happened North?" he kept stroking white hair with one hand even as he asked.

"Pitch Black, he was going to shoot Sandy in the back. Jack stopped him, knocked him out of the sky and ensured he hit the ground. Pitch is dead, when we found them Jack was unconscious and Pitch had…lost his head."

Harry nodded but before he could speak, Jack moved slightly, eyelids fluttering. "Jack? Can you hear me?" he murmured.

Jack made a soft, pained, noise before going still again.

"I'm going to take him home," Harry moved to carefully lift Jack into his arms.

"Tell Jack that he should visit young Jamie Bennett when he is recovered. The boy is worried for him," North smiled.

"A mortal child?" Harry seemed surprised, and North grinned, nodding.

"Yes! He saw the rest of us earlier in the night and must have heard the noise of Jack and Pitch hitting the ground, came to see. He saw Jack lying on a bed of Dreamsand and we told him Jack would come and see him, to prove he was alright."

"I'll tell him," Harry promised, and with that they were gone.

North made his way back to the others and took his seat.

"How's the kid?" Bunny asked.

"He has gone home to recover," North answered. "His companion came for him."

"Companion?" Tooth asked curiously.

"Harry found Jack the night Man in Moon brought him back, he took him in, taught him. They are very happy together and a good pairing."

"Oh," she gasped and then smiled as she realised what he meant, obviously pleased that Jack hadn't been alone for his existence. "You've met him? What's he like?"

"A very nice young man, physically they are the same age, although their looks are quite opposite. He is a very nice young man, older than Jack, and did nothing inappropriate when Jack first woke with no memory. It was Jack who approached him years later," he quickly pointed out. He knew some may wonder, but memory or not, for his day, Jack had been mostly an adult when he died. Even if North had thought him younger when they first meet, due to the childish joy he held. Hmm…perhaps he was Guardian of Joy?

"They are good together, Jack makes Harry play and Harry settles Jack," he settled on saying. "Perhaps you shall meet him when Jack returns."

"And what about him being a Guardian?" Bunny grumbled.

Tooth shook her head. "Even with Jamie Bennett now able to see him, that is only one child. That is not enough belief, what would taking the Oath do to him?" she asked.

Sandy began flashing up images and North nodded in agreement. Yes, Jack deserved to have knowledge of him spread to the children. He had tried over the years with Jack Frost themed wrapping paper and the like. He had one line in a song and that was all. Even to other Spirits he was little more than a myth.

"I can't believe Pitch is gone for good," Bunny admitted, and they fell into quiet contemplation of just what that meant for them.

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Jack woke but remained relaxed, recognising the arms around him instantly. What had happened? He turned his head, feeling a lingering ache in his very bones, looking up into worried green eyes. "Hey," he croaked and then sipped at the water Harry pressed to his lips. "Wha' happened?" he asked.

"What do you remember?" Harry asked, pressing a kiss to his forehead.

Jack shifted, turning over slowly, resting his against Harry's shoulder. He sighed as warm fingers began running through his hair, another hand rubbing his back…his bare back. They were naked and in their bed, but he'd been….North's…he'd been called by North to help the Guardians. The Tooth Palace, collecting teeth… "Pitch," he whispered.

"You killed him, I felt you call on more of my power to do it. North said Pitch had tried to kill Sandy and you stopped him," Harry finished for him.

"That's why I ache." Because hitting the ground at that speed was enough to damage even him.

"They took you back to the Pole and I picked you up there. And North had some very interesting news."

"Hmmm?"

"You have your very first believer," Harry answered.

Jack lifted his head to look up at him. "What?"

"A young boy by the name of Jamie Bennett. He came across them when they were getting you away from the impact site."

"Bennett…" Jack smiled. "Good kid, believes in bigfoot, aliens…" he closed his eyes and settled back against Harry.

"Well North promised him that you'd visit once you're back on your feet."

"'Kay."

"Get some more sleep then a nice warm bath when you wake up."

He vaguely heard Harry's voice as sleep pulled him back under.

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Jamie sat on his bed, reading by flashlight. It had been nearly a week since he'd met Santa and the others. Since he'd seen…seen poor Jack Frost lying so still. He hoped he was okay. He looked up as there was a tap at his window, he was on the second floor. His eyes widened as he met bright blue eyes. He dropped the torch and scrambled to the window, pulling it open. "Jack Frost," he whispered.

Jack smiled at him and clambered through the window. "Hello Jamie."

"You're okay! You looked…but you're okay, right?"

"Right," he nodded.

"You're really real," Jamie looked him over. "Do you really nip peoples noses?" he asked, and then grinned when Jack laughed.

"No, I don't know where that came from."

"So what do you do?" he sat on his bed, legs crossed, leaving room at the bottom.

Jack stood, looking uncertain, and Jamie watched him. Santa had said…oh, he probably hadn't been around kids so didn't know what to do. He patted the mattress and Jack hesitated but then set his staff aside and sat down. Soon they were talking and laughing together and it was so much fun! Even if he did get told off by his Mom for staying up way too late.

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Jack landed on the balcony and pushed his hood back, able to see the gathered Guardians through the glass. He hesitated but then put a hand to the door, pushing it open, a gust of cold air preceding him.

North looked up and grinned at him. "Jack! Good to see you," he called, standing up. "You are well, yes?" he walked towards him, and Jack let himself be half suffocated in a hug, before being led over to the chairs, taking the one furthest from the fire as normal. An elf soon appeared with a tray of cookies but Jack shook his head.

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Aster looked Jack over, dressed like he had been before. He looked totally healthy, but now that he knew what to look for, he could see the signs, the utter paleness to his skin, not just of winter but of death. What had the Man in the Moon been thinking when he made Jack Frost? Poor kid, to die so young and then be brought back with no memory, no clue to what was going on. If that Harry hadn't have found him who knew how he'd have turned out, probably like the rest of the Winter lot. And he shuddered to think it, but what if Pitch'd been the one to find him? A lost, lonely boy would have been easy for the Nightmare King to twist into an obedient servant. With Jack's power…

If the Man in the Moon thought Jack was one of them, then they should get to know him, be friends at least. Easter was tomorrow and he'd added in some last minute winter themed eggs, with the image of a white haired young man with a shepherds crook. No one deserved to be unseen for centuries.

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"Got him," Harry grinned as Jack joined him.

"Got who?" he asked, leaning in for a quick kiss before taking off his cloak.

"Well, them technically. As for who, the source of all the trouble."

Jack straightened up, eyes wide. "Who?" he asked. He knew why Harry was so angry, beyond the risk to the magical and non-magical worlds, they had caused the death of Harry's godson and the woman who could have raised him.

Harry tossed him a list and Jack read it in shock. What were they thinking? Were they thinking at all? He looked up at Harry, seeing the simmering anger, and if they hadn't caused so much death and destruction, he'd almost feel sorry for them, almost. As it was, he was looking forward to getting some hits in.

TBC…