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Frozen fic: Strike for Love (Strike for Fear)

March 27th, 2014 (09:01 pm)
embarrassed

feeling: embarrassed

Title: Strike for Love (Strike for Fear)

Disclaimer: I don’t own Frozen.

A/N: So my kids love this movie, and we have watched it way too many times in the last week. Fic was inevitable. I'm sorry. Beta thanks to sockie1000.

Pairing: Kristoff/Anna, post movie

Summary: She never asks him to stay. He always comes back.



-o-

Kristoff’s life is ice.

He harvests it; he ships it; he sells it. He knows how it looks, flat and flawless across the expanse. He knows how it feels, cold and smooth beneath the touch of exposed skin. He knows how it breaks, hard and splintered, pieces sharp enough to kill any man. He knows how to cut through it, pick it up and carry it safely on his shoulders. He knows how much it fetches at market, and he knows when to sell it for the maximum profit. He knows what it looks like when it’s forming; he knows what it looks like when it’s melting.

He knows the telltale sound of ice cracking beneath the snow, before his whole world stops.

And shifts.

Ice freezes; ice breaks.

His eyes widen, and he looks down. He knows ice, but he’s misjudged the flat lakeside against the frozen waters. The lakes are irregular here, and with the windswept snowstorms lately, it’s harder to tell where the land ends and the water starts.

Worse, it’s impossible to predict where it’s deep and where it’s shallow.

Nearby, Sven turns back toward him from what Kristoff knows now is the shore. He looks concerned, the question implicit in his eyes. What’s wrong?

He moves to step closer, but Kristoff shakes his head, heart starting to pound in his throat. “Not this time, buddy,” he says, trying to swallow back the fear. “Just stay there--”

Sven looks stricken, even as he paws the snow in barely-there obedience. He trusts Kristoff.

That’s funny now. All things considered. Because Kristoff’s careful, but he’s not perfect.

He’s really, really not perfect.

And he knows what’s coming next is something he’ll never be ready for.

Kristoff knows a lot of things.

He just doesn’t know if he’ll live to get it right next time as the ice gives way and Kristoff plunges into the icy water.

-o-

Everything goes white.

Kristoff’s senses come alive, and he remembers everything. He remembers trailing after the harvesters when he was barely old enough to walk, riding Sven across the snow with his small ice block in tow. It wasn’t worth much, but everyone paid top dollar to the cute boy and his baby reindeer. Kristoff doesn’t remember much before that; he just remembers ice.

And stone, because the ice led him to stone. The trolls are hard, but warm and full of life, and Kristoff learns more than he ever imagined. His instincts are cold and icy, but they teach him how to love and care. It’s not easy, being a boy raised by trolls with a best friend that is a reindeer. But it works.

And he works. He gets better at harvesting, and he leaves the trolls more often. He likes the warmth they offer, but the ice calls to him. The ice always wins. It’s not until he meets Anna that he realizes ice and warmth aren’t so contradictory after all.

Because Anna is both, and so much more. Anna believes in people, whether they are hot or cold or anything in between. She’s too bold and overly naive, but she’s beautiful when she smiles, and Kristoff knows the touch of ice and stone, but he’s never felt human flesh like hers before, when their palms press together and she steps up on her tiptoes to catch him in a kiss.

She drives him crazy, and she makes him laugh. She’s the last thing he thinks of when he falls asleep at night, her smile as bright as the Northern Lights above him. In the morning, he can hear her calling him back, even if she’s miles away and hasn’t said a word.

Kristoff is made hard as stone, cold as ice, but Anna teaches him something new entirely. Something that makes his heart race and his head spin. Something warm and malleable, something soft and tender.

It’s sort of implicit, he knows, that he could stay in the palace. There are lots of room, and homes in the village. There’s always a place at the table for him, and Queen Elsa welcomes him with a knowing smile. Anna waits for him by the gates, like she knows he’s coming -- and really, maybe she does. Or maybe she just believes in him more than he believes in himself, which is why he can’t stand to disappoint her.

And she always goes with him when he leaves, walking between him and Sven through town and nudging him with her shoulder. She watches him as he takes Sven and the sled out to work, telling him to save a special piece of ice just for her. He’s not sure where this thing is headed between then. Official Ice Master and Deliverer or not, she’s a princess and he’s…

Well, what is he anyway?

An orphan?

An adopted troll?

An ice harvester?

He doesn’t know. He can’t figure it out. He just knows when he’s with Anna, life is perfect, but the ice always calls to him.

The ice always wins.

Ice is his life.

She never asks him to stay.

He always comes back.

He likes to think that the ice business is a world of absolutes, but he forgets that it’s anything but. Water freezes. Snow melts.

Kristoff’s not coming back this time.

She should have asked him this once.

-o-

Then, he splutters. Inhaling raggedly, he feels ice in his lungs as he coughs hard against it. He blinks a few times before he realizes his head is bobbing above the water line. His waterlogged clothes are heavy, and he can’t even feel his boots, but he’s alive.

For now.

Ice has crystallized in his hair, and it clings to his cheeks and freezes his eyelashes together. His vision blurs, and everything is a little gray around the edges. He goes still for a moment while he tries to remember what was so important in the first place.

He thinks of ice, and he thinks of the trolls. He thinks of Anna, and Sven--

Sven.

The reindeer is in front of him, braying wildly as he stamps the ice just beyond the jagged hole where Kristoff has fallen. It’s the sheer desperation in Sven’s eyes that makes Kristoff remember what happened.

He’s fallen through the ice.

He’s fallen through the ice, and he’s freezing to death right now.

He’s fallen through the ice, and he’s freezing to death, and he’ll never see the trolls again, and he’ll never see Anna again and Sven--

Sven.

The name grounds him, and he tries to smile at the reindeer. “Hey, buddy,” he chatters sluggishly. “Just gonna need a minute…”

He needs more than a minute, but he doesn’t have that much. He knows how fast the cold will take a man. He knows.

Still, the meager effort of lifting his arm and reaching for the ledge of ice is so much harder than he thinks it should be. Kristoff has worked with ice his whole life -- he knows what is to be cold -- but this…

This isn’t cold.

This is freezing.

Literally.

But Sven. And the trolls and Anna.

With effort, his gloved hand reaches the ledge, and he’s shaking so badly he can hardly see as he pulls himself closer. Sven’s nose is down by him in an instant, hastily licking away the ice in abject concern. It’s okay, it’s okay, Sven tells him. Please be okay, please be okay.

“I’m trying,” Kristoff says, putting whatever effort he can into levering himself up. “I just need a little boost--”

Sven already knows, and Kristoff feels hot reindeer breath on the nape of his neck as Sven bites at his collar and tries to hoist him up. It’s a messy effort, but together they manage to get Kristoff up and partially on the ledge.

“See,” Kristoff says, teeth clattering noisily. “Not a problem, we just got to--”

His words are lost, though, when the ice cracks again. He’s falling, and Sven slips, and Kristoff goes under again.

-o-

This time, everything is black.

And that’s really all there is.

-o-

In the black, Kristoff doesn’t remember the past. No, in the black, Kristoff sees the future he’ll never have. There’s no happy reunion back at the castle. There’s no welcome-home dinner with too much chocolate, and there’s no ball that he has to dance at even though he’s really a terrible dancer. He’ll never take Anna by the hand while she guides him through the halls, showing him every nook and cranny just because she can. He’ll never fumble through his would-be proposal with the trolls, and he’ll never ask for Elsa’s permission before trying to make all of Anna’s dreams come true.

He’ll never let Sven eat all the carrots or sing with Olaf on the beach. He’ll never share a room with Anna at the palace, gently running his hand up her arm, smooth as ice and warm as sun.

No, there’s no future at all, it’s just dark and cold and hard and nothing. Whether he dies here or whether he wastes his life breaking up chunks of ice, it’s the same bleak future. There’s nothing.

There’s nothing.

Kristoff never wanted much in life, but he realizes now, he wants more than this. He’s always been a little slow like this; he’s never been able to admit what he wants until he lets it go first. Anna almost died because he couldn’t figure it out. Sven had to turn him back around.

He’s afraid, and he’s uncertain. He doesn’t want to push too far or make any assumptions. Reindeers are better than people because people hurt you. People go away; people don’t come back. Reindeers are safer. Easy and predictable.

As much as he loves Sven, maybe people have their advantages.

Anna.

He wants more than ice, finally.

Too bad now ice is all there is.

-o-

Funny, though, it smells like reindeer.

That’s okay, though.

That’s okay.

Everything’s okay.

-o-

Then, there’s a burst of cold.

Next, warmth.

So much warmth.

Kristoff sighs and doesn’t fight it.

Not that he could even if he tried.

The winter always thaws. There’s an inevitability to that he’s taken for granted until now.

There are a lot of things he’s taken for granted until now.

-o-

When he wakes, he’s in a bed.

A nice bed.

A really nice bed.

Then he realizes why.

Kristoff is in a really nice bed in the palace.

Which means…

Anna.

Anna is there.

She looks ridiculous, pale and worried, even as she’s tipped back in sleep in the chair next to him. She startles awake with a snort, nearly toppling over before she catches herself and sees that Kristoff is awake.

“Oh! Hey! Hi!” she says, her face brightening immediately. “You’re -- I mean! You’re awake!”

Kristoff blinks hazily. His chest feels heavy, and his limbs are like dead weights. “Yeah,” he says, a little confused. “I fell through the ice.”

Anna’s eyes were wide. “I sort of figured that,” she says. “I mean, I figured you could have been struck in the heart by magical ice powers but falling through the ice just seemed more likely.”

“Sort of the same effect, though,” Kristoff murmurs, trying to sit up with a wince. His breathing is a little strained, and he feels stiff and sore.

She moves forward to fluff his pillow. “You were pretty bad off,” she says, sounding truly worried. “They weren’t sure. I mean, I didn’t know--”

Kristoff swallows guiltily. “I know how it works,” he says, and he still remembers seeing Anna freeze in front of him. It had been the worst moment of his life -- to think of making her endure the same is sort of hard to take. “I never meant for it. You shouldn’t have had to see it.”

“You shouldn’t have fallen in at all,” she reprimands. “You can’t do that. What will Arendelle do without its Official Ice Master and Deliverer?”

Kristoff raises his eyebrows and resists the urge to remind her that her sister is essentially a Snow Queen and that his title has been superfluous since the start.

She’s flustered, though, and Kristoff doesn’t have it in him. “Sven brought you back,” she says, explaining it as though he asked the question. “Dragged you until another ice harvester found you and brought you here. We called doctors and built a really big fire, and there were so many blankets...”

Kristoff doesn’t know what to say to that.

Anna bites her lip. “It was Sven, though,” she says. “You were saved by a reindeer.”

It does sound ridiculous, but it’s also not surprising. The only thing as constant in his life as ice, is Sven. “We’ve been through a lot together,” he muses, clearing his throat hoarsely.

“You’re really not exaggerating,” Anna remarks, a little overly earnest. But then, Anna doesn’t know how to be less than earnest. “You were so cold…”

She looks scared and distant at that, and Kristoff feels even worse. It’s not like he wanted to freeze to death, but the thought of leaving her without a goodbye or a good explanation is even worse to think about. He suppresses the urge to cough and reaches for her hand instead. He takes it, and she looks at him in surprise.

He smiles, giving her hand a squeeze and relishing the warmth. He’s cold, he realizes. He’s been so very, very cold, and most of it has nothing to do with taking an unexpected winter swim.

He never says no to her, but then, maybe she shouldn’t always have to ask, either.

“I know,” he tells her. “But I’m not anymore.”

Tentatively, she starts to smile back. Then, she grins, reaching over and sitting next to him before taking up his other hand and kissing him on the cheek. “No,” she says. “You’re not.”

“Never again,” he promises. Because he’s spent his life breaking ice, so he’s sort of forgot -- ice doesn’t just break. Sometimes it melts, too.

The best times, at least.

She leans forward to kiss him again. “Never again,” she agrees.

-o-

Kristoff’s life is ice.

But his happiness is warmth.

And he never confuses the two again.