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do i dare or do i dare? [userpic]

Rise of the Guardians fic: Playing the Role

December 26th, 2013 (02:22 pm)
amused

feeling: amused

Title: Playing the Role

Disclaimer: I do not own Rise of the Guardians.

A/N: Yeah, I have no idea why I wrote this fic. I watched this movie with my kid, and we both sort of fell in love with it and after watching it so many times, this just happened. I’m posting it because it fills my loss of voice square on hc_bingo. Unbeta’ed.

Summary: So how does this work anyway?



-o-

The aftermath is really somewhat anticlimactic. Despite Jack’s reticence about becoming a Guardian, he has to admit, he’d sort of liked the pomp and circumstance.

But he doesn’t have Santa’s wonder at the core, so after the initial rush, he realizes he’s not sure what to do.

Bunny leaves first, heading back to his burrow with a mumble about getting back to work. Tooth makes a fuss but when the teeth start piling up, she’s on her way. Sandy bows grandly, but departs just as quickly, and soon it’s just Jack and Santa.

And a bunch of elves.

In the field, up against Pitch, it had all made sense.

Here, back in Santa’s workshop with pint-sized disasters and melodramatic monsters, Jack’s feeling a little less certain about his role. He wants to protect children and all that, but he’s been a supernatural malfeasance so long that he’s not sure what’s actually expected of him.

“So how does this work anyway?” he asks, watching as a few of the yeti try in abject frustration to stop the elves from taking a joyride on a conveyer belt.

“You protect the children,” Santa explains, no less grandly than before.

“Uh, yeah,” Jack says, tilting his head as one of the elves is equipped with a battery pack and light up sword. “But, uh...I mean, Tooth and Sandy have their jobs every night. You and Bunny work your yearly events. And...what do I do?”

“What you have been doing!” Santa says, flinging one arm up before wrinkling his nose and shaking his head at a green toy car. The yeti wails in dismay and Santa doesn’t stop to notice. “You go, ensure that children everywhere are having fun. But you may play no favorites. As a Guardian, you are fully committed to all children, everywhere!”

Jack chews his lips, trailing after him. Idly, he freezes a patch of floor, watching as a pair of elves lose their footing and pinwheel wildly into a display of balls. “So that’s it?”

Santa looks back at him, eyes narrowed. “Is that not enough?”

“No, I mean, it is,” Jack says, shrugging. “I just didn’t know if we had, you know...rules or something. Weekly meetings.”

“There are many rules!” Santa says. Then he lowers his voice, coming closer. “I do not think you’d follow them, though, so let us just stick to the basics.”

Jack smirks. “Probably a good idea.”

“And if we need you, we will call you,” Santa says, continuing on his trek around the North Pole.

“Do you guys, I don’t know, socialize?” Jack asks. “You know, dinner at the Tooth Palace. Movie Night with the reindeer?”

Santa bellows. “Socialize!” He breaks off, frowning. “Oh, you are serious.”

“Sure,” Jack says. “I mean, if we’re partners and stuff...”

“We are bound by our loyalty to children all around the world,” Santa agrees solemnly.

“Exactly,” Jack says. “So what do you guys do for fun?”

“Fun?” Santa asks.

Jack sighs. “The Man in the Moon should have called me years ago.”

Santa grins, slapping him roughly on the shoulder. “Better late than never!”

-o-

It feels a little weird, but Jack makes the best of it. He’s never been particularly conscientious, but he starts cutting away at an ice hill in Antarctica and builds himself a hideout. It’s not elaborate like Tooth’s Palace and it’s not flush like Bunny’s Burrow and it certainly doesn’t have the capacity of Santa’s workshop, but it’ll do.

He carves out a map on the wall, and presses his stick to the various points, starting with Jamie. With the spot lights up, it makes him smile.

He follows the seasons, then, picking his spots methodically but stopping off someplace unexpected at the end of each day, just to keep things interesting.

When he gets back to his cave, there are a few more point flashing, and Jack begins to understand.

It’s intoxicating after that, and everywhere he goes, he starts to see the difference. He hears children whisper his name, and they steal glances at him as he sweeps through. He has to be discreet now. People can see him.

People believe.

Back in his cave, he watches the lights glow.

And that may be the best thing ever.

-o-

That’s not all there is, of course. Jack can only be sated so long by twinkling lights and hushed whispers. He crosses paths with Sandy often in his travels, and together they make spectacular displays, freezing lights in the sky, wondering, fleeting dreams that dissipate only when the sun rises.

Sandy has a sense of humor, too, and Jack finds that if anyone understands fun among the Guardians, it’s Sandy. They’re fast friends, without even saying a word. Jack makes ice rinks in the sky and Sandy fills them with pirouetting animals, slipping amongst the stars.

They may or may not work together, outdoing the Northern Lights, reclaiming believers who gave up the dream a long, long time ago.

When they part, Sandy tips his head with a knowing smile and Jack grins once, lifting his staff to the wind as he takes off again.

-o-

Tooth is the first one to make a formal request. At least, that’s the best way to describe being accosted by a throng of tiny fairies all chirping and fawning in unison. He makes a show of it, but he doesn’t put up much of a fight to follow them back to the Tooth Palace.

It’s good to see it in immaculate condition, plus maybe a few upgrades since Pitch’s attempt. Tooh is busy as ever, fluttering about and Jack eases his way in, trying to be innocuous as she works.

“Don’t think I don’t see you there,” Tooth says, pausing in her order for the fairies to triple-time a case in Orlando, Florida. She flashes a grin at Jack. “I could see those pearly whites anywhere.”

Jack ducks his head. If he were capable, he’d be blushing. As it is, he looks back at her with a roguish smile. “So is this why you had your fairies drag me here?”

“I simply told them to send a request,” she says deftly. “But if they got overwhelmed with themselves, that’s not my fault.”

Jack chuckles. “Of course not,” he says. “Anyway, what can I do for you?”

“Nothing, really,” she says. “I’ve just been surprised that I haven’t seen you more, is all.”

“Well, I have been busy,” Jack says.

“Oh, I know!” she says. “The fairies have told me all about your growing presence. Good work on that! Children all over the world are talking about Jack Frost. You’ve even made them ones in Northern Russia start to like the snow again.”

Jack can’t help it if he smiles. “Yeah, I’ve been pulling out all the stops.”

“And it shows!” Tooth says enthusiastically. Then she pauses. “But work and no play...”

“Hey, that’s my motto,” he objects.

“Exactly!” she says, flitting closer with bright eyes. She seems to remember herself, and pulls back. “I mean, that’s why I was surprised is all. Remember, your job is about more than children.”

Jack frowns. “I thought kids were the whole point.”

“Oh, they are,” Tooth says. “Because they represent what can be. But at our core, we want to instill what we have into the whole world. Into each other.”

Jack doesn’t know quite what to say.

Tooth smiles again, almost shyly this time. “The Guardians need fun, too,” she says. “All these years, I hadn’t realized everything we’d forgot.”

Something unfurls in Jack’s gut. The last vestiges of his isolation seem to ease. He’s a Guardian now. People believe in him.

More than that, though, he belongs. Pitch might get people to believe in him, but he’d never have friendship. Camaraderie.

“Well, okay, then,” he says. “Then let’s go for a stroll.”

“Oh, I couldn’t possibly,” she says. “Have you seen the rate of tooth loss in India right now? It’s off the chart!”

“I think the fairies have got this one,” Jack says.

Tooth hesitates.

Jack gives her a look. “All work and no play, remember?”

This time, her smile doesn’t fade as they flit out together on the wind.

-o-

He’s the one who stops by at the North Pole unexpected, though the jolly big guy seems pretty thrilled to see him. It’s always a warm welcome there, no matter how much the yetis moan and the elves squeal. Jack’s not sure how Santa puts up with it, but it becomes pretty clear that Santa doesn’t care.

Santa sees beyond that stuff, and the more time Jack spends there, the more he does, too. He’s a good match for Santa’s wonder, and the whimsical creations at the North Pole always benefit from Jack’s fun touch. They spend hours together, creating and joking, and Jack comes to find comfort in the rumble of Santa’s laugh over the ice planes.

Jack remembers his family, but that memory is distant. Santa is as much a father as he knows, just like Tooth is his goofy sister and Sandy is his thoughtful big brother. Which just leaves...

“Hey, have you seen Bunny?” Jack asks as he’s munching on another cookie, flicking crumbs into the air before freezing them in place.

“Bunny? No. He tends to be more private that the rest of us,” he says. “That is why he lives in a hole, I guess.”

“Private,” Jack says. “But don’t you guys check up on each other at all? It’s been almost a month since we took on Pitch.”

“A month!” Santa cries. “Do not remind me! Our production numbers took a serious hit with Pitch’s interference and I have been working double time and the yetis are lobbying for a union and so many headaches!”

Jack finds himself frowning. “You don’t think it’s strange?”

“The yeti? Of course it is strange, they are large mythological beasts who make Christmas toys,” Santa says. “But they are very nimble with their fingers, and very good with machines--”

“No, Bunny--”

“What about Bunny?” Santa asks.

Jack sighs. “That we haven’t heard from him. Don’t you think it’s strange?”

“Strange? No,” Santa says. “We all have our jobs. We do our jobs. This is our business, being Guardians.”

“But shouldn’t you guys look out for each other?”

“Guardians for Guardians?” Santa asks, the idea dawning on him. His face brightens. “That can be you! Jack Frost, Guardian of Guardians!”

“Whoa,” Jack says. “I thought I was in charge of fun.”

“And it is fun to be in charge,” Santa says. “Congratulations! Now hush, and eat another cookie. You do not want to insult the elves, now, do you?”

Jack scowls a bit, glaring at the ever grinning elf at his feet holding up the plate of half-devoured cookies. Jack considers taking one, but offers his staff inside, freezing the floor and sending the elf skidding, cookies in the air.

Santa roars with laughter.

Guardian of the Guardians.

At this point, Jack doesn’t figure he has much to lose.

-o-

Getting back to Bunny’s burrow is a bit tedious, in all honesty. Bunny’s done a good job at keeping it hidden, and Jack’s never sought it out on his own. At first, he thinks he’s in the wrong place when he picks a tunnel to slide down, but when he tumbles out the other side, he sees the lush, overgrown plant life along with a few giant eggs trodding by peacefully.

It’s subdued there, more tranquil than the manic pace of Tooth’s Palace or the nonstop movement at the North Pole. Jack can hear the running water, and the eggs remind him of cows grazing.

It’s simple, and yet abundant. Not really Jack’s style, but maybe he can see the appeal.

The question is, though -- where is Bunny.

Uncertain, Jack starts in. “Bunny?” he calls. “You home?”

He moves idly pass the water, sticking his staff and freezing the flow. “Bunny!”

Without the stream, the place is suddenly eerily quiet, and Jack realizes there’s something else off. The place has always been green, but it really is overgrown. The plants are intertwined and wild, and as he moves in deeper, there are still broken egg shells scattered, the bright colors standing out in the brush.

Frowning, Jack moves toward the tunnels again. “Bunny?”

His concern is growing, when he turns around and sees a six foot bunny glaring at him.

Jack raises his eyebrows. “Is that the customary greeting Down Under?” he asks. “Because I got to say, stalking people is not the best hello I’ve ever seen.”

Bunny’s eyes narrow.

Jack rolls his eyes. “Oh, come on,” he says. “Not even a hi, how are you? How have things been since saving the world?”

Bunny rolls his eyes, and he moves back toward one of the darkened tunnels.

“Whoa, seriously,” Jack says. “I thought we were over the past. So what’s with the silent treatment?”

Bunny turns back and looks at him plaintively. He opens his mouth, but all that comes out is a deep hacking cough.

Jack tilts his head. “Wait,” he realizes. “You’re sick.”

Bunny looks unimpressed by the revelation. In fact, Jack notices that Bunny looks generally awful. He’s no expert on bunnies, especially not overgrown supernatural ones, but Bunny looks thinner than he remembers. Sure, he’s still got his height, but his fur is scraggly and his whiskers sag. And his complete lack of a comeback is more than a little telling.

“Bunny,” Jack says. “How long have you been sick?”

For a moment, Bunny actually looks sheepish.

After hanging out with Sandy so much, Jack’s gotten pretty good at reading nonverbal cues. “The entire time?” he asks with a note of incredulity. “You’ve been sick since we got Pitch?”

Bunny lets out a ragged breath, clearly put out while he crosses his hands over his chest. But he makes no motion of denial.

“Sheesh, Bunny,” Jack says with a whistle. “Not much on the immune system, huh. How do supernatural beings get sick, anyway? Is it like a supernatural illness?”

This time, Bunny just looks exasperated.

Jack smirks. “I should have figured, though,” he says. “Not all of us are made to handle the cold. It’s not your fault if you just can’t take it as well as the rest of us.”

Bunny stares at him.

Jack just can’t help himself. “It’s a good thing I’m here now,” he says. “So now when we have issues that handle work away from the Equator, you will be able to stay safe and snug in your comfortable little hole.”

Bunny takes a breath, scowling. He opens his mouth to protest, but the garbled wheeze is impossible to make out -- especially when it’s followed by another round of hacking that is so severe that it leaves Bunny winded and bent over.

Jack’s glee fades. He move forward. “You okay there?”

Bunny looks up at him, eyes shining bright with what looks like fever.

Though come to think of it, Jack’s not sure how any of them could have a fever. His brow creases. “Is there something you need me to do?”

Bunny straightens abruptly, shaking his head.

“Bunny, can you even speak?” he asks.

Bunny’s gaze burns even brighter.

“Oh, come on,” Jack says. “If you’re sick, we should get you looked out. I mean, there’s got to be some kind supernatural doctor out there, doesn’t there?”

Bunny shakes his head, gaze flitting up toward the sky where the moon is still visible in the daylight.

“The Man in the Moon?” Jack asks. “What’s he going to do about it?”

Bunny shrugs with a morose look.

Somehow, the implications are clear. The Man in the Moon is in charge of things, and Jack doesn’t have to ask certain questions to understand certain answers anymore. The Guardians are alive in their own way, and while they beat Pitch, it isn’t without a sacrifice. The slight list in Sandy’s soaring; the way Tooth pauses to catch her breath; the way Santa rubs his knuckles periodically when he works.

These are the consequences of unbelief. Like growing old.

They’ll get it back, eventually. Bunny, too, though Bunny lost an Easter entirely. Jack can still remember the diminutive form. Bunny lost more than the rest of them.

It’s going to be harder for him to get it back.

But how? He thinks about calling Santa, maybe bringing in Tooth. Even Sandy...

Except...this is Jack’s role. To bring a smile to people’s faces, and not just children. But his friends, too.

Even Bunny.

Jack winces sympathetically. “Well, maybe you just need some rest,” he suggests, more gently now.

Bunny looks more than a little suspicious.

Jack rolls his eyes. “I’m just trying to be thoughtful,” he says. “You clearly don’t feel well.”

Bunny’s eyes dart about his burrow.

Jack understand. “What if I stay here,” he suggests. “I think winter can take one night off. I’ll look after things, make sure the giant eggs don’t break themselves on the ice.”

Bunny frowns.

“Better still, I’ll melt the ice,” Jack offers.

Bunny does not look particularly thrilled by that offer.

“I’ll be on my best behavior,” Jack pledges, holding up his hand. “Guardian’s honor.”

That one actually seems to work -- either that or Bunny is just too miserable to bother fighting him anymore. He sneezes before coughing again, and this time when Jack gestures back toward one of the darkened holes, Bunny doesn’t stare Jack down.

Instead, he lets Jack touch him gently, guiding him forward. “We’ll just get you settled down, then,” he says. “Get some nice rest and when you wake up, you’ll be ready to go.”

Jack has no idea if that’s true, but it seems to be working, so he doesn’t bother to question it. Bunny retreats into the darkness, and Jack watches as he eyes Jack warily before curling up into a ball -- a very fluffy ball, Jack might add -- twitching a few times, coughing once and sneezing twice, before his eyes close.

Jack lingers, listening to the congested breaths before they even out, and Bunny is well and truly asleep.

-o-

Back in the light, Jack feels like he’s done something good. Pride swells in his chest, until he looks around.

The burrow is still a mess. He doesn’t know Bunny that well, but somehow he knows the mess is not his style. Leaning over, Jack fingers one of the broken pieces of egg guiltily. It was his absence that let this happen.

This is sort of his fault.

He sighs, glancing back toward the hole before looking up at the sky.

“Guardian of the Guardians?” he asks. “‘Cause this isn’t what I had in mind.”

The Man in the Moon doesn’t move.

Jack sighs. “Which is why it’s probably so important,” he mutters, looking back at the Burrow and setting to work.

-o-

The next morning, Jack is asleep in a tree, nestled on a frozen branch. He’d tried sleeping on the ground, but it was entirely too warm. When he froze a patch in the grass, one of the eggs had slipped on it and made such a scene that Jack had nearly given up. The tree isn’t comfortable, but Jack’s slept in worse places and the ice feels lovely...

“Did you freeze my tree?”

Startled, Jack jerks awake, falling out of the tree. He tries to catch himself, but the fall isn’t far enough to get any wind and he hits the ground unceremoniously.

“Ow,” Jack hisses, sitting up and rubbing his elbow. He glares through his bangs at one very angry looking bunny. “What was that for?”

“I don’t know,” Bunny says tersely. “Maybe my tree.”

Jack scoffs, getting to his feet. “It’ll be fine,” he says. “And whoa, hey, wait -- your voice.” Jack’s eyes brighten. “You’re better!”

Bunny shifts back on his heels slightly and clears his throat. “I am feeling much better.”

“Ha!” Jack says. “I helped you feel better!”

“I was almost over it anyway--”

“No way,” Jack says. “You were sick and miserable and you couldn’t even talk. And I helped.”

Bunny sighs. “And I’m beginning to wish you hadn’t.”

“Aw, come on,” Jack says. “Admit it. Me being here helped.”

Bunny draws a breath. “I don’t see how--”

“I let you rest,” Jack says. “And you listened to me. That helped!”

“I’m not sure what your point--”

“My point is that we’re friends!” Jack says, almost exploding with what he can only call joy. “You and me. We’re friends.”

Shaking his head, Bunny looks vexed. “If I had known you were going to make such a big deal--”

“Oh, please,” Jack says.

“All you did was sleep,” Bunny protests. “And you broke into my burrow and--” He pauses, looking around. He looks confused. “And you cleaned it up?”

Jack follows his gaze, feeling a bit proud actually. The pieces are all gone; the hedges are trimmed. The flowers are easily seen and blooming in full view of the sun.

“New life, right?” Jack asks, beaming. “I’ll admit, I was never big on hope, but I think I may be getting it now.”

Because the place is sparkling. Its flush and new and amazing. Jack is all about the cold, but he’s not so frozen as to fail to appreciate the warmth of this place; the warmth in his chest when he thinks of his friends, Bunny included.

Bunny nods, still a bit in awe. “New life,” he agrees, and his eyes settle on Jack. “Second chances.”

Jack grins. “See,” he says. “We are friends.”

Bunny gathers a breath and lets it out. “Yeah,” he says. “I reckon we are.”

“Great,” Jack says, and he rubs his hands together. “Just wait until I tell the others about you losing your voice.”

The humor fades on Bunny’s face. “You wouldn’t.”

“Oh, but I would,” Jack says.

“I thought we were friends,” Bunny protests.

“We are,” Jack says. “But I’m the Guardian of Fun. And what is more fun that a speechless six-foot Easter Bunny?”

Bunny’s eyes darken.

“Too bad I didn’t have a camera,” Jack says. “But I’m pretty sure I can make your likeness out of ice--”

Bunny taps his foot. Then he grins.

Jack is confused for a moment before he looks down and sees the ground open up beneath his feet. “Hey!” Jack yelps as he loses his footing, plunging down.

“Thanks for everything, mate!” Bunny calls after him, voice echoing down the hall. “Don’t call me -- I’ll call you!”

The jab isn’t cruel, and there’s a familiar lightness that Jack appreciates. That Jack missed.

That Jack knows he’s going to come to count on for all the years to come.

-o-

Later, Jack finds his way back to his cave. He hunkers down, pressing himself against the cool, glassy ice and looks at the map on the wall. The lights are still building, burning and swelling, growing more and more in number with each passing day.

North America, South America, Asia, Europe...he’s known everywhere now. And there’s a light at the North Pole and one coming from Tooth’s Palace. One dances across the map.

And, there, brighter than the others, is a gleaming light in Australia.

Jack’s not always sure what he’s doing, but with all that, he’s pretty sure he’s doing something right.

Comments

Posted by: Moogs (moogsthewriter)
Posted at: December 26th, 2013 10:10 pm (UTC)
Transformers - Bee Sam

LOVE THIS. Now I need to go watch this movie again. Soon. Ish. After I get done packing. But I love the idea of Jack being the Guardian of the Guardians -- it fits. :) And the banter between Bunny and Jack is always awesome.

Posted by: do i dare or do i dare? (faye_dartmouth)
Posted at: January 13th, 2014 03:03 am (UTC)
psych road ahead

LOL, Liam and I have watched this movie so many times. I don't know why I wrote fic for it, but I sort of don't regret that I did :)

Thanks!

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