Synopsis: Jack Frost has failed as a Guardian. While he hasn’t failed the job, the job failed him. He had not been able to keep up the number of believers. So, he asks the Man in the Moon for a favor. Just one favor: Take back the gift he had been granted. Now, he needs to adjust to his humanity. Will he regret his decision?
Pairing: Human!Jack x Older!Sophie
Alternate Link: Here
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“Oh, we have a guest?”
Sophie was curled up on the chair Jack had propped himself on. He was actually… shocked. He had never actually come face to face with any adult besides Jamie. He had no idea how to act. React. He just… stared at the woman.
She snorted and adjusted her glasses with a smile. “Hello, there.”
“Uh… hi.” Jack responded dumbly.
Adults. They don’t respond well to fun all the time. He had seen how Jamie and Sophie acted around their mother. He had seen how other children acted around their parents. Jack knew he was not in a place to act like them.
“Mom,” Jamie stood up and motioned to Jack. “This is… Jack.”
“Jack, huh?” She smiled warmly. “So you’re the boy my children won’t shut up about.”
Wait, they’ve talked to her about him? How much did she know? What did she know? His first name? His whole name? Should he even introduce himself as Jack Frost? What would she think? Probably nothing of it. Adults never looked too deeply, unlike children. They saw what adults did not.
Then again, there was an ignorance as a child and an ignorance as an adult. They changed as you grew up.
Jack slipped off the armrest and timidly stood next to Jamie. Sophie was at his back. “I’m… I’m Jackson Overland Frost.” Memories of the dream he had last night were recalled. The dream was of the former life he could not recall. He had few memories, the best given to him by Toothiana. His full name was spoken by a rather frustrated mother in his youth. He wondered if he pulled a prank or what he had done to illicit that tone. He held out a hand. “Just call me Jack.”
“So, Jack Frost, hm?” she chuckled, stepping forward to take his offer. “The way they talked about you as kids, they certainly made you sound like the myth.”
“‘Cause I am.” Jack grinned. The woman laughed.
“I was wondering when I’d finally get to meet you. I’m Susan.”
“Mom, he’s staying here.” Jamie interjected, putting a hand on Jack’s shoulder. Jack looked to Jamie, raising an eyebrow.
“Sure,” she said without a beat. “What would you guys like for dinner?”
“No, I mean he’s staying the summer.”
The woman paused a beat. She looked between her children—one steadfast, the other anxious—and met Jack’s gaze. He felt as if he was under a microscope. She studied him, taking in his body language, his expression, the light of his eyes, the uncertain grinding of his teeth.
That was way too easy.
The woman shrugged and repeated her former question. Sophie suggested spaghetti, so the woman made a mental note and gave them a gentle smile. Jack wasn’t quite sure what to make of Susan’s motives, her easy agreement. She didn’t even question where he came from. Though, he should be prepared when she did.
When Susan and Sophie finished their discussion of what was going to be for dinner. Susan turned back to Jack. Her face was kind and gentle. He was reminded vaguely of a face in his dream.
“How old are you, Jack?” she questioned.
Jack had to think for a moment, do some math and maybe some best guessing. “Eighteen…?”
She chortled. “Are you asking me or telling me?”
“Telling you.” he decided.”
“You know, I expected you to be much older.” she pondered. “The way they talked about you.”
“Well, I hope they didn’t tell you anything bad. Like the time I knocked Jamie’s baby tooth out.” Jack smirked.
“Oh, no, Jamie didn’t tell me about that.”
Jamie elbowed him. “Jerk.”
Sophie picked something out of Jack’s hair and the boy turned to her. She held up a piece of a leaf and raised her eyebrow, looking him up and down from behind. Suddenly, he felt very embarrassed. He had slept in the dirt, was coated in sweat and probably reeked of pond water. He had never felt self conscious like this.
“I’ll run a bath. You should probably get cleaned up.” Sophie brushed past the boys and headed towards the stairs.
He watched her, short hair tied back into a ponytail bounced as she darted away. She gave him one last glance before disappearing. He turned to Jamie and Susan.
“Um… thanks. For letting me stay here.” he regarded Susan sincerely. “I’ll make it up to you, okay? I promise not to be a free-loader.”
“It’s no trouble, Jack. We take in strays all the time. As you can see.” she motioned to the kittens that had seemed to taken to the Greyhound as a mother. “We always have room.” She peered towards the staircase and whispered to Jack and Jamie. “And if you’ve gotten Sophie to relax around you, I suppose you aren’t all bad.” She winked at him.
“Now, Jamie, when Jack’s finished washing up, you should get him some lunch. Once he knows where everything is, he’s free to help himself.”
“Seriously, Jack. We’re fend for yourself here except for dinner.”
“Uhh…” Damn. Jack had no idea how to make food of any kind. He had no idea how to prepare a dish or feed himself. He never had to eat before. Sure, he COULD eat, but that didn’t mean he had to. He was never hungry. He couldn’t recall ever being hungry, but something about his frame told him he knew it all too well in life.
“Okay,” he conceded.
Jack was uncertain and incredibly so. And he knew this was only the start of it. Even in the bathroom, Jack was so confused about what all those soaps were for. He never needed it. He never got dirty or smelly. Dirt never clung to him. Nothing did except for frost. And Sophie. He smiled in the soapy water at the thought of the times that Sophie would make him carry her or she refused to let him leave until she had enough of fastening herself to him.
Boy, was she clingy.
Jack spent a time reading the directions on the back of the shampoo and conditioner bottles. Okay. Those were for hair. Sophie had pointed out Jamie’s body wash that he could use, which he assumed was just really smelly soap. It was. It reeked strongly of cinnamon. Well, he did smell pretty good. Perhaps it wouldn’t hurt.
When Jack finished, he put on the clothes given to him. Jamie’s clothes fit him pretty well. They shared a similar frame, although Jamie was slightly taller. It wasn’t enough to make a difference.
Jack took a moment to look at himself.
He did look weird. Jack had never really cared about what he looked like. He thought he looked slightly roguish, if he didn’t say so himself. Spiked hair and a daring glare.
Jack thought about the looks Jamie and Sophie were giving him. They were curious. Well, at least they weren’t disgusted. He didn’t look THAT different. Just healthier in skin color and darker in hair and eye color.
Jack headed downstairs, his footfalls heavy. At the foot of the stairs, he glanced back to the staircase and down to his feet. He wasn’t sure if he liked this added weight. He almost started longing for flight. The boy shrugged it off and figured, hey, he chose this. There was going to be good along with the bad. He would have to take it and get used to it.
In the kitchen, Jamie and Sophie were sitting at the table, waiting for Jack. They smiled to him.
“Good to see you out of that hoodie and those pants.” Jamie noted. “I was almost getting tired of seeing them.”
“I would have worn those until you died just to tick you off.” Jack quipped. Well, perhaps he would have changed his sweatshirt at some point. He had never taken off those pants. They were comfortable and practical. Unlike these shorts Jamie provided.
“Sit down and eat, Frosty.”
Jack sat at the table and picked up the sandwich in front of him. He had never been a picky eater. He had eaten pretty much everything edible. Even candy roaches. They ate sandwiches and chips and drank soda, nothing fancy for a first mortal meal.
But Jack asked for seconds. And thirds. Jamie stopped him at his fourth. Sophie laughed, reminding him he could eat as much as he’d like at dinner. Jack hadn’t realized how hungry he was. How much he could eat without feeling uncomfortable. Was that hunger? Wanting to eat more? Or gluttony?
They spent the afternoon making room for Jack to sleep in Jamie’s room. Jamie suggested that Jack try on his shoes, which Jack found he did not like. He hated the confinement in his feet. Nope, there was no way he’d actually wear those. Jamie suggested that his shoes were actually too small. So, once they made room for Jack and set up a sleeping space on an air mattress, they gave Jack a pair of flip-flops to wear and took him to the thrift shop.
Great. A shopping trip. Jamie told him he wasn’t wearing his clothes for the rest of his life, so they went clothing hunting. Jamie was broke, off of work for the summer since he had a job close to school. It was an hour away from their home in Burgess, so it wasn’t worth going to and from. Sophie had a little money from baby sitting, but she dug into her saving-up funds. Which was actually a lot of money, considering she sold her art frequently at art galleries.
They bought Jack second hand clothes and Sophie let him pick out any trinkets he thought were cool. She noticed him looking at a few things with considerable interest, but he set them down and moved on.
In the car back home, Sophie dug through the bag. “Well, this should get you through the summer.” she noted.
“Wait, I need more?”
Sophie considered him with furrowed brows. “… Do you not like having things?” she questioned frankly.
He never thought about it before. But… “I guess so. I don’t really have any place to keep the things safe for a long time and… the few possessions I’ve tried to keep were time-damaged. I don’t let myself… get attached to objects. Except my staff.” Jack added quickly. “That’s the one thing I don’t think I’ll ever be able to let go.”
Nope. He was already very anxious being away from it for as long as he had. That was the one thing he had over the lonely three hundred years. The only thing that didn’t deteriorate. It was the only thing he needed as well as his channel of power. It was a piece of him. He didn’t realize how very connected he was to that staff until Pitch snapped it seventeen years ago.
That was possible the most painful thing he had ever experienced. Jack felt as if when the wood snapped, so did a bone, or some piece of his very soul. He was debilitated. The only thing that distracted him from the lingering pain was Baby Tooth.
Jack wondered if there was still that connection. He clutched his chest when he came to this realization. What if not every part of him was human? What if the staff wasn’t just a stick, still? What if it still held a piece of Jack Frost inside of it? He didn’t want to test it. He didn’t think he’d be able to repair it if it snapped.
Back home—home… he liked the idea—they put Jack’s clothes in their place.
“Um… so, what should I tell your mom?” Jack asked.
“You don’t have to tell her anything.” Jamie assured him. “She knows we’re a good judge of character. She’ll trust you if we do.”
The boy frowned. “But… I’d feel bad. She’s putting her trust in me without any reason.”
“And you’d break that trust by lying.” Jamie shrugged. “We can try the truth.”
“You’re crazy, Jamie.” Sophie pipped in. “You really think she’ll believe the truth?”
“Well… only one way to find out, right?”
They sat at dinner, Jack feeling jittery and nervous. This wasn’t going to end well. Nope, not one bit. He wondered what he would do if Susan thought of her children and Jack as insane. Or if they were playing a game with her. He really just wanted to tell her the truth, he did. But… he wondered if a lie would be easier. But what kind of lie could he come up with?
Besides. Jack was always frank. He would rather be honest and snarky about it then tell blatant lies.
His heart pounded in his chest as he struggled through general conversation. He was still uneasy, speaking to Susan. She wasn’t a threat, not by any means. He simply did not know how to interact with adults.
“So, Jack, can I ask where you came from? You don’t have to answer if you don’t want to.” Susan asked.
Jack chewed his lip. Okay, simple. “I’m actually from Burgess.”
“Really? How come I’ve never seen you around?” Burgess was a relatively tiny town. Everyone knew everyone. While they kept to themselves, they still knew their neighbors by name.
“I travel a lot.” Jack shrugged. “I’ve been everywhere. But I come to see Jamie and Sophie a lot. I try and seem them every week.”
“And I’ve never seen you.” the woman chuckled. “How do you manage to do that? Travel, but still see my children as often as you do?”
“I flew.” Jack smiled. Jamie and Sophie watched, very careful of the conversation.
“Impressive. Very impressive. Where’s your family in all of this?”
Jack chewed on his words. “They’re… um… They died. A long time ago.”
Susan frowned and set her utensils down. “I’m… I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to bring up a touchy subject.” she said quickly. “You don’t have to answer if you don’t want to.”
“No, no!” Jack insisted. “I do. And… really, it’s okay. I barely have any memories of them.” The words were coming out so easy. “I honestly didn’t even know I had a family until recently.” He noticed her confusion. She wasn’t sure if she should question it or how to word her question. “I’ve pretty much had amnesia for three hundred years.”
She thought he was exaggerating. “Didn’t anyone take care of you?”
“No,” Jack shook his head. “I’ve been on my own for so long. But I found a family, eventually. They tried to take care of me, but they couldn’t help me. They’ve done everything and I’m so grateful to them. It hurt… having to leave them.”
Her face was unreadable.
“He doesn’t mean he’s a troubled teen, Mom.” Jamie assured her.
“I wasn’t thinking that.”
“He was dying, Mom.”
Dying? Well, he guessed that was actually the right term for it. He was going to disappear and fade into nothing. The alarm that was raised caused Jack to push away from the table.
“What?!” Susan stood up. “Are you okay? Do you need a doctor? Should I take you to the hospital?”
“No, no,” Jack laughed. “I’m fine. I’m perfectly fine now. Everything’s all better.”
“What was wrong with you?”
Jack scratched the back of his head. “It’s going to sound ridiculous.”
“Dying isn’t ridiculous.”
Sophie took his hand under the table and squeezed it. She was there for him. He linked his fingers with hers and glanced at her before turning to Susan. “I… um… didn’t have any believers.”
She was quiet for a moment. Gears were working, trying to make sense of all of this. She tilted her head, not seeming to understand and Jack wasn’t surprised. No one would understand something like that unless they were familiar with the world he was from.
“It’s only fair that I tell you the truth, so… Let me start from the beginning. It was 1712 … .”