I actually wrote this story a while ago, on deviantart, and had been meaning to convert all of the i /i stuff to real italics. :D I take no credit for the plot idea or the cover art :) One-shot.
It was dark, the air stale as if it had been left sitting for days... maybe even years. This place was a tomb of stone, with random staircases falling to nowhere and hallways disappearing with no way to go. Such was the way of Pitch Black's layer, and it was confusing by design. After all, what does one feel when they're lost, helpless and confused, wandering down random passageways in the dark?
Fear, of course. Raw fear.
Jack Frost gritted his teeth, kept his wooden staff ready to either blast an icy snow bullet or club someone in the face with it. He followed Pitch here from the world above, where the sun was warm and the air crisp and fresh from the fallen snow. Jack's grip tightened around the wood; he was here to end things.
Pitch Black and Jack Frost, after all, a long history together. It started off with black sand on a globe, continued with a promise of revenge...
And today, Jack thought grimly, it will all end.
His bare footsteps were silent on the gray stone floors. Stone surrounded him, surrounded him like some sort of burial ground. It was cold, but Jack didn't mind. After all, he thrived in the cold, thrived in the snow and the early morning chills. It was the silence that Jack hated and, after three hundred years of suffocating silence, it was understandable.
Suddenly a shadow on the wall moved; Jack spun, heart beating into overdrive. His magic tingled his fingertips, vibrated down the base of the staff and illuminated the pale blue glow of frost. But there was nothing there exactly like last time and the time before that. Jack swallowed, turned back around.
"This is going to end tonight," he muttered under his breath, taking another silent step.
To his surprise, a voice answered. "Are you so sure about that?" The voice was cold - not Jack's type of cold either. This cold was the frigid voice of fear, the type that sent shivers down his back and reminded him of spider webs...
Jack spun around in an instant, magic clawing its way out of him. He saw it; it was a glimpse, but he saw the shadow disappear down the hall. Within seconds he was chasing it, his frozen footsteps in the halls the only testament he was there in the first place. As he ran the his frost followed him, crept along the walls and down the ceiling.
Tonight, Jack swore.
The hallway curved left, then suddenly dropped into thin air. But Jack could hear Pitch's laughter coming from down below, luring him to the black depths he couldn't make out. It was a long drop, a drop that could easily kill a normal human, but thankfully Jack wasn't a normal human. He was a Guardian, a winter spirit, the Jack Frost. He jumped down below without any hesitation.
His stomach flew into his throat just as the wind, his wind, jerked him up. Within moments he was no longer the hail plummeting from the sky above but a snowflake, soft and graceful, gently landing on the stone floor below. Pitch laughed, his laugh bouncing off the tomb-like walls, and Jack was following in an instant.
He sprinted all the faster, struggling to catch up. His footsteps hit the ground, though his bare feet didn't feel any pain. Within seconds he rounded the corner to a much larger room, mind set on freezing the whole layer solid...
...when he froze, breath hitched into his throat, sapphire eyes wide. Because there, standing just a few feet away, was an identical copy of himself.
Jack scowled, staff raised threateningly. What the...? he thought, slowly moving forward to... himself. It was strange; the copy had the same white hair, the same pale skin, the same blue hoodie, the same ratted brown pants. Jack's scowl deepened; the copy even had the same staff.
Suddenly the shadows behind the copy stirred, then condensed onto the floor. Black sand rippled from the dark hole until a figure formed; Pitch Black himself. The boogieman placed a single gaunt, gray hand on the copies thin shoulder and smirked, yellow eyes gleaming.
But Jack only grinned in that mischievous way he was famous for. "What," he taunted, "you can't get enough of me?"
To his surprise, and utter horror, Pitch wasn't the one who answered. Instead it was the copy who raised its pale head, smiled at him, eyes twinkling. But there was one flaw; the copies eyes were yellow whereas Jack's eyes were the purest of blues. The copy's smile widened. "Not quite," it said, idly twirling the staff in its hand. "Though, feeling unwanted is a feeling you know quite well, huh Jackson?"
Jackson! Jack's eyes flared, his fist clenched around his staff. How does that... that stupid copy know about my real name? "Well," Jack retorted, not one to let an insult fly, "at least I'm real."
That hit a nerve.
Suddenly the copy launched itself at him, yellow eyes flaring in pure hatred. Jack yelped and jumped backward, staff already flaring with power. Clear blue frost exploded from the tip and created a thick jagged barrier made entirely out of ice. Jack's feet hit the stone floor, head jerking up to survey the damage. Did I hit it? he wondered.
But when the cold haze cleared the air, the last thing Jack expected to see was another icy barrier. But, instead of Jack's clear ice, this one was darker, as if black smoke itself had been frozen into the air.
"Nice try," the copy smirked, stepping from behind its masterpiece. "Guess being 'real' ain't it's all cracked up to be, seeing as how I just beat you."
"Beat me?" Jack scoffed. "As if."
Pitch Black, watching from the shadows, smiled and whispered, "Let the fight begin." With that he turned and disappeared down one of the hallways; it was his time to leave this place of stone.
Ice layered the floor in a thick sheet. Black ice mixed with clear ice and formed complex patterns on the stone floor. The air was chilled, practically frozen over in a freezing white mist.
Jack's feet felt frozen to the ground, but he somehow managed to keep fighting. Sometimes he slipped, sometimes he accidently missed his target - his stupid copy - and sent the shot wild. He didn't know how many days had passed and didn't really care to keep track. Time was nonexistent in this frozen stone tomb. Jack idly wondered if the other Guardians were worried about him yet. Sometimes his actions went on autopilot during his exhaustion and his mind wandered. He wondered if the Sandman was sleeping right now. Sometimes he wondered if Tooth was going out on a teeth collecting run, if North was busy ordering his yetis around, if Bunnymund was making Easter eggs. He wondered what Jamie was doing... was he going to school or was it a holiday? Jack never seemed to keep track.
Suddenly the copy-Jack was directly in front of him, staff bent back to launch something at him. Jack's body instantly reacted though his mind struggled to keep up; his arms moved, ice formed around him in a protective cocoon. He had once wondered where Pitch went, but as the minutes dragged into hours and his muscles burned like no other he stopped caring.
Now his mind was numb, simply numb with only enough energy to send signals that meant only one thing: survive.
Suddenly the ice broke in front of him, sending pure shards spiraling in all directions. Jack barely had time to block the sudden blow as another staff resounded against his. Yellow eyes glared at him from underneath silver bangs but, to Jack's surprise, the copy was... crying.
"I hate you," it growled. Suddenly Jack was thrown on the ground, skidding across the slick floor.
"The feeling," he gasping, getting to his feet, "is mutual." But his vision swam and his head rocked back and forth, almost as if he were on a boat. His staggered upright, forced his tired limbs to move, forced himself to stand. But as the seconds dragged on it got harder, more difficult, and it was getting hard to breath.
This is it, Jack realized. He glanced at his pale hands; they seemed more pale than usual and shook against the harsh strain of constant fighting. He glanced up, forced his gaze to focus on the copy. Its hoodie looked more ragged, it was slouched and Jack realized at that moment that this was it for the both of them. They reached their limits at the same time.
"Let's finish... this," Jack muttered between pants. He summoned all of the ice he had left, all of the cold and all of his crystal clear frost. The copy-Jack noticed and did the same.
This was it.
One of us, Jack thought, will never leave this place.
The air chilled further, the ice on the walls, ceiling, and floor thickening. This frozen tomb would become exactly that in the literal sense of the word - a frozen tomb. But not mine, Jack silently swore. He summoned all of his magic, every ounce he had left, and let it simply explode out of it.
The force ravaged through him with a force he had never felt before. A scream ripped out of his throat; he heard an identical scream across from him.
This is it.
The last thing Jack felt was his arms and legs freezing over, filled with a cold he didn't understand, before he fell forward and slipped into unconsciousness.
This will end tonight.
When Jack woke up, the first thing he noticed that he was no longer surrounded by ice. Instead he was in a bed with bandages wrapped all around him. A window was close by and, with a wince, Jack managed to prop himself up. His muscles felt stiff and sore, his lower lip bruised from when he accidently bit it. Blisters covered the bottoms of his feet; some had burst.
Outside, however, it was a beautiful day. The sun sparkled off of the snow like a thousand diamonds, each small crystal more brilliant than the last. Snow covered the world in a single sheet, gently sloping the hills and softening the dips of the North Pole.
"You're awake!" Jack turned his head as North opened the door, holding a tray of cookies. "I was wondering when you would wake up!"
Jack groaned; suddenly he was excruciatingly tired. "How long have I been asleep?" he asked, plucking a cookie off of the platter.
"Ah... three days," North said mid-bite. Jack nearly choked.
"Th-three days?" Jack asked, managing to swallow. "How long have...?"
"You've been missing for seven," North confirmed. "Speaking of which," he added, rubbing his white beard. "What happened? When I found you it looked like a war had been going on."
"Something like that," Jack muttered, then said, "Anyway, did you see some other guy there? He looked like me - well, exactly like me, but had yellow eyes."
North scowled. "No," he replied simply. "Why? Should I have?"
Jack blinked in surprise, then turned back out the window. The image of the copy-Jack's crying, angry face telling Jack that he hated him flashed through his mind. To be honest, Jack wasn't sure what to make out of that.
"No..." Jack said slowly. "Nevermind. Forget I said anything."
North blinked, then shrugged. "Whatever you say... I'll be back later to check on you!" he hollered as he closed the door. Jack watched him leave before turning back to the frozen world outside.
I wonder where he went...