The night sky was dark and gray, obscured by storm clouds laden with snow and hail. The wind howled, tugged at the fabric of his hoodie and ratty pants, whistling through his white hair. It was below zero in temperature at the South Pole, but Jack Frost wasn’t affected. He was a spirit of winter; the chill was nothing to him. No, he just felt cold and numb inside, just the way he liked it. Better to feel numb than to feel all the pain and pent up sorrow. The Guardians wouldn’t think to look for him here, but if they did, Jack could easily flee to another cold area and resume his miserable pondering there.
The Guardians wanted him to help protect the children? That would be a death sentence for Jack, because once he was officially a Guardian, he would have to depend on the belief of children to survive, and right now there was not one child on the Earth who believed in Jack Frost. There was a saying, sure, but Jack Frost had no reward to give for children who believed. He had the power of bitter frost and snow and hail and blizzards on his side, but no way of giving good dreams, coins, presents, or eggs. If anything, winter only heralded the approach of Christmas, a child’s favorite holiday if they had been good girls and boys. Only Jamie had been different, but Jack didn’t want to think about Jamie. His attempts of diplomacy had failed miserably. He had tried to become the mischievous winter spirit he had been before, but the words of Bunnymund had brought him back to reality.
Jack’s grip around his staff tightened, and he gritted his teeth in anger at the memory. What does he know about not being seen by the children? He has no problem with believers, and never will. Stupid stuck-up inconsiderate rabbit, only concerned about having a ‘proper’ Guardian.
Jack had not felt numb then, with the boiling surge of anger filling his gut. He had attempted to counter with an insult, which worked on the Easter Bunny, but the others weren’t fooled. They had seen how insulted and hurt Jack Frost was at Bunnymund’s words, and perhaps that was why they gave Jack time to think about it. Not that I need to think about it, really. The spirit drew his knees to his chest and rested his chin on top of them, his eyes flicking to the entrance to the ice cave he was in. The moon was obscured, which was a small relief. Jack didn’t want to look upon the face of Man in Moon, because he didn’t want to feel despair again. Anger worked, numbness worked, anything worked as long as he didn’t feel that despair again.
And then, something moved near the entrance of the cave. Jack Frost slowly stood up, gripping his staff tightly in both hands. It was just a small movement, of something hidden in the shadows. As he watched, there was another movement from the other side, like a person ducking just out of sight. “Show yourself!” Jack called, not in the mood for any sort of game.
“Very well,” said a smooth, light voice, and a figure emerged out of the shadows. Clad in all black, and with golden eyes focused upon him, Pitch Black glided forward, a small smile upon his face. Pitch was the reason that the Guardians had kidnapped him and wanted Jack to become a Guardian. Because, so long after the end of the Dark Ages, the Boogeyman had shown his face again to the world, and this time Pitch did not intend to just fade back into the shadows. No, from what Jack Frost had heard from the Guardians, the King of Nightmares was up to something more sinister. But what was he doing here?
“What do you want, Pitch?” Jack Frost asked, backing up slightly as the Boogeyman advanced. The smile grew larger as the dark spirit approached, but Pitch spread his hands, palms faced upward, to show that he was unarmed.
“I just want to talk, Jack Frost, and perhaps… extend an offer of comradeship, if you will let me… Shall we talk?” The Boogeyman said, his voice smooth and calm. He made no aggressive movement, and remained a safe distance away. Slowly, Jack lowered his staff, and Pitch Black crossed his arms. Why does he want to talk to me? And what does he mean by that offer? He would remain on his guard around the King of Nightmares, but Jack would listen.
“Not all that is going on at this moment with the Guardians is as you think, Jack Frost. What they’ve told you is merely a half-truth. Before the end of the Dark Ages, I was holding sway over the world with terror. Everyone, children and parents alike, could see me as easily as you can now. I held so much power over the beings of Earth, but I was… hollow inside. Back then, I didn’t know what loneliness was back then, what it was like to be alone, day after day, unseen, unrecognized, ignored. No, I was too busy spreading fear and sorrow, too caught up in my mad lust for power,” Pitch Black stared directly at the winter spirit, his bright, golden eyes practically glowing against his dark complexion. His face had a sort of distant, far-off look, but Jack could also see traces of sorrow in the King of Nightmare’s expression. Jack slightly loosened his death grip upon his staff, still wary, but no longer convinced the dark spirit would immediately attack. He also knew the pain of being invisible to all humans, even if, perhaps, he hadn’t been alone as long as Pitch. He remained still, waiting for Pitch to continue his story.
“But the Man in Moon put a stop to that. He brought forth the Guardians, with their ideals and powers suited to keeping the children of the world safe and firm in their belief in the Guardians. I tried to negotiate a deal with them, but all of them were closed-minded and convinced I was the enemy. They refused to believe that fear would help the children of the world, because they did not try to look further into my powers. They wrote me off as some sort of shallow, evil spirit who simply rubs his palms together and spreads Nightmares for fun. And, no doubt,” Pitch rolled his eyes, uncrossing his arms, his voice tinged with exasperation, “They probably told you that, as well. Well, did they? Did they say that I was some great evil rising again for some odd reason to trying and take over the Earth like some corny villain from a children’s story?” he asked, a smirk alighting on his features. Now that Pitch mentioned it, Jack Frost had been told something along the lines of that.
Moments passed before Jack realized that Pitch Black was waiting for an answer. “That was pretty much how they described you, sure,” He replied, and the dark spirit laughed mirthlessly. “As I expected,” Pitch began, and this time, he started to pace back and forth, still maintaining the same distance from Jack, “but there is a flaw in that logic. If all I have to do with my immortal life if just try to take over the world again and again, then what have I been doing? I’ve had that Nightmare army for at least five hundred years, perhaps even a thousand, if my memory serves me right. I could’ve attacked by now, or tried to take over the world one child at a time, but I haven’t. Why is that? That’s what has your Guardians in a tizzy, Jack. They don’t know me, so they make assumptions about my actions and my character. I hope you will know better by now.”
It did make sense, Jack Frost had to conclude. But still, there was something… off about the King of Nightmares.
“Alright, I’ll assume you’re right about all those points you mentioned. However, that doesn’t explain something. Why are you here now, and why have you resurfaced after so long?” Jack asked, relaxing his grip on his staff and leaning on it. He was interested now, after Pitch had basically dissolved the entirety of his knowledge about the dark spirit.
“Why, Jack Frost, I would assume you would know why. It’s the same feeling you’ve being experiencing for three hundred years!” Pitch said, and suddenly he was uncomfortably close, poking one long finger into Jack’s chest.
“Loneliness. Pain. The feeling of being invisible, of being brushed off, not believed in. Oh yes, I cause nightmares, but that does not lead to children believing in me directly. They fear what they see in the nightmares, but they do not fear fear itself. And you, Jack Frost, you’ve known the same. You’ve lost someone precious to you recently, and now the loneliness is back full force, yes? I’ve seen the weather around the world, you seem uncaring of the snowstorms and blizzards you cause,” Pitch said, and Jack Frost’s eyes darkened at the hints the dark spirit dropped about Jamie. But he didn’t want to think about it, because all the feelings Pitch described would come back in full force. He could definitely feel a connection to the dark spirit, but that didn’t mean he trusted Pitch fully. The Guardians had apparently lied to him (though that was because they were blind about Pitch), so why not Pitch Black?
“I am tired of hiding in the shadows, of continuously having the Guardians look down upon me because I am not one of them, the elite spirits chosen by Man in Moon. I am tired of being alone, invisible, practically powerless, always being hunted down by the Big Four. But, as crazy as it sounds, my goal is not taking over the world with fear,” Pitch laughed, and then his piercing golden eyes sought out the icy blue of Jack Frost’s eyes, “No, instead I just wish to teach the Guardians a lesson they won’t forget for a very, very long time. To counter this, perhaps because the Man in Moon still thinks I am a power-hungry lunatic I was at the end of the Dark Ages, he has pulled a desperate move to make you a Guardian. But what happens when the terrible terrible Boogeyman is sent back into the shadows? I presume you’ll be stripped of power, or you’ll perish because of your new responsibilities. I assume you know that the Guardians exist on the belief of children, and that is where they get their power? But remember what that overgrown rabbit said to you- and yes, before you ask, I was listening in on that- you, Jack Frost, have no one who believes in you. And once you get appointed as a Guardian, if you listen to them, you’ll vanish as soon as everything’s in order. And this,” Pitch paused for a few moments, backing up a little bit, so that he was within a comfortable distance from the winter spirit, “Is where I wish to make an offer to you, Jack Frost.”
“What is the offer?” Jack said, his grip tightening on his staff as he stared at the Nightmare King. He felt a little nervous, apprehensive, but excited as well, wondering why Pitch Black had sought him out here, told him his life story. What did the dark spirit want to offer?
“It’s quite simple, Jack Frost. I wish to join forces with you, to become partners, a family, if you will,” Pitch said, extending one dark hand towards Jack. A family? Was Pitch serious? Jack didn’t know what to say or do. He remained frozen in place, staring at the dark spirit. All the other spirits, Tooth and Bunny and North and Sandman, they were all so busy. Jack had enjoyed the Tooth palaces, and the Warren before his blizzards had ruined two Easters, but the owners had always shooed him out quickly, too busy to talk with him, to keep him company, to stave off Jack Frost’s persisting loneliness. Only with the threat of Pitch did they want to extend an invitation to their little ‘family’ to Jack, and what happens after?
“I’ll think about it, if that’s alright?” Jack said finally, breaking the awkward silence. Slowly, Pitch retracted his hand, but he did not look angry. And then he gave a half-bow. “Of course, this isn’t a decision that is made lightly. The Guardians should be here soon; to try and convince you, after my little distraction at the Tooth Palace is over. Think about it Jack. What goes together better than the cold and the dark? We don’t have to be alone any longer. If you have come to a decision, just call my name. I will not take too much offense if you wish to join the Guardians or remain neutral, but be warned if you join the Guardians I will consider you an enemy, understand? No matter the choice, I want you to tell me in person. Goodbye.”
And with that, the nightmare spirit vanished, leaving the winter spirit alone with his thoughts.