Crossing Risky Lines
Olaf waddled his way over to Eliza and Jack with Anna, hopping up onto a chair to sit next to them at the table. "Anna had to help me clean up… I'm too short to reach the shelf the book came from, so I tried to climb it." Olaf said, thinking for a moment. "I'm not too great at climbing, I don't think."
Eliza giggled, Jack glancing over at Anna as she rolled her eyes playfully. Just then, Jack glanced towards the stairs when he noticed Hiccup coming down them in a troubled fashion, acting a bit uneasy. His smile faded, turning to Eliza.
"Hey, why don't you stay here a minute with Olaf and Anna, okay? Teach Olaf about the dangers of bookshelves." Jack said, Eliza nodding as he got up from his chair.
Hiccup looked up as Jack approached, sighing lightly. "Ohhh it's a mess up there." He said as he paced back and forth.
"What are you talking about? Hiccup, what's going on?" Jack asked worriedly.
"Something's wrong with Bunny, he… he tried to- he said he didn't mean to, but Alice was pretty shaken up and-"
"Alice?" Jack didn't allow Hiccup to say anything further, bounding up the stairs. He looked around, Merida catching sight of him and floated over to him. "Where is Alice? What happened?"
"Calm down lad, everyone is fine…" Merida said.
"That answers neither of my questions…" Jack said, moving past Merida as he went into Alice's room. He saw her inside, crouching down so they were face to face. "Hey, are you okay?"
"I'm alright, Jack. Bunny… there's a reason why he's been acting so oddly." Alice said.
"What happened, Alice? Is he hurt?"
"No… just try to be understanding towards him, he didn't mean it."
Jack narrowed his eyes then. "Did what, Alice? What did he do?"
"It was-" She sighed. "-he tried to kiss me against my will, but it was because of the-"
"He did WHAT?" Jack screamed, storming towards Bunny's room. Merida tried to stop him, but he brushed past her, entering Bunny's room. "Oh you did it now, you big ape!"
Bunny got to his feet, holding his hands up. "Mate, I know what you're thinking, but I swear, I didn't-
Before he could finish his sentence, Jack decided in that moment to set aside his powers, going the old fashioned way as he reared his hand back, punching Bunny square in his nose. Bunny stumbled back, landing harshly on his bed as he held his face.
"I don't know what the hell your problem is Bunny, but if you ever come near Alice again after this, I will blast you so far into the tundra that you will have snow coming out of your ears!" Jack shouted.
"Oh, bloody hell Jack!" Bunny cried, groaning in pain. "I didn't mean it, alright? Apparently, I've had some kind of dark force making me act like a first class jerk, mate!" He exclaimed. "I feel like dirt under my foot for it!"
Jack tilted his head, confused. "Wait, what? Dark force?"
Merida floated in quickly then, standing between Jack and Bunny. "Jack, after Bunny saw Bumby in his mind, he left a trace of dark essence that was meant to control his emotions!" She sighed, going over to Bunny. "Let me see." She placed her hands on Bunny's face, healing his nose.
"I swear, between you and Alice, I'm gonna have a hole in my face the size of the outback!" Bunny shook his head.
Jack bit his lip, feeling a bit bad for having punched him in the heat of the moment. "Look, I'm sorry, okay? I had no idea that this was happening, I… I was just so fed up because you had been so hard to deal with lately…"
Bunny was quiet for a few moments, looking up at Jack. "I get it, mate. I would have done the same thing if someone did that to Alice." He sighed, holding his head in his hands. "Everything just got so mixed up, Jack. I felt like everything was falling apart, that I was slowly losing everything I loved, everything I was…"
Jack sat next to Bunny, patting his back lightly. "Bunny, you're the guardian of hope, aren't you?" He smiled lightly. When he didn't receive one back, his own faded. "I know that you're upset over… Alice and I." He sighed. "Maybe I've been a jerk too. I shouldn't have just ignored the fact that something else was going on, that…" He clenched his fists. "… I won't let Bumby get away with this."
"Jack, that's what they want, mate." Bunny said. "We can't let them fool us into going back there unprepared."
"… you're right." Jack said after a few moments. "Bunny, friendly rivalries and everything aside, you're one of my best friends. I don't want anything to change that."
Bunny's expression softened, giving him a nod. "Neither do I."
"Well, I'm glad you settled that." Merida said as she floated in front of them. "If you hadn't, I would have had to make mincemeat out of you scallywags!" She shook her head, chuckling to herself as she floated out of the room. She saw Alice walking down the hall, smiling lightly. "Don't worry, they've worked things out between themselves."
"Fantastic. Maybe now there will be some peace around here." Alice smirked lightly.
At the sound of her voice, Bunny hopped to his feet, going up to her. "Alice… look, I am… I am so sorry-"
"It's alright, Bunnymund… you didn't intend to do what you did. You were influenced by Bumby's evil." Alice replied.
"It isn't though." Bunny bent down a bit, pinning his ears back as he sighed. "I'm supposed to be a guardian, Alice… I'm supposed to protect the children of the world. And… growing up, you believed in me more than anyone." He smiled sadly. "It was a long time ago, hell I have a hard time keeping track… but you were always one of the special ones. But then… one year… I didn't see you anymore… and I realized it was because you couldn't see me. I failed to protect you when you needed me most, Alice, and I allowed that to happen again."
Alice stood silent, staring at Bunny with surprise. "Bunny… what happened to me was no fault of yours. Sometimes, there are evils that cannot be stopped at first. You have to endure much suffering before their peril is no longer a threat. If there is one thing I learned from my suffering, it's just that. Endurance." She was about to say something then, but she stopped, entering deep thought for a moment.
"Alice?" Jack hesitated when she held a finger up, tilting his head.
"Perhaps that could be my center…" She breathed, a smile growing.
"Wait, what? Your-… oh, North had that talk with you, didn't he?" Jack asked.
"Yes… Jack, I think I've found my answer. I think that is how I help others, help myself… by enduring. By right I should have died in Rutledge… quite possibly even in Houndsditch… or even farther than that… I should have died in that fire. Many have said that to me, and they were right. I should have died. But the pieces of me that I retained within the world I created for myself, my Wonderland… they decided it was not my time to die. They consistently test my physical and mental abilities, they push my limits to the brink and possibly even further than that, they've helped me to bring down every enemy I've encountered…" She looked up at them, chuckling lightly. "As nonsensical as they are… they are a part of me. They are my method of mustering the will to go on when I myself have failed to do so in the past." She nodded. "And yes, Bunny… Easter was always my favorite holiday… I always loved the burst of life that came with the spring… I would never miss tea with the white rabbit, for he is a punctual creature… much like you are. He is kind, gentle, a bit out of his wits but they all are… and he has always been a dear friend, Bunny… because he was inspired by your care."
Bunny's ears perked up a bit, smiling softly as he pulled Alice in for a gentle hug. Jack couldn't help but smile at this; he didn't realize how badly all of this had been wearing on Bunny's confidence as a guardian. He realized in this moment, that the connection between him and Alice was something that could inspire healing for both, and that the threat of a rift among the group had been eliminated.
Indeed, Alice's center could very well have been endurance… she was the strongest of them all, she had fought her way through hell and back, she was the link that kept them all together.
Later that evening, Anna took off her coronation necklace, placing it on Eliza's bedside table as she leaned over to tuck Eliza in. She rolled her eyes playfully when she heard Kristoff snoring from their room, turning when she noticed Jack in the doorway.
"Oh, hey…" She cleared her throat. "I heard the news… I'm happy for you."
Jack approached the bed, tucking a strand of Eliza's hair behind her ear as she slept. He glanced up at Anna sadly. "I want to be happy for you and Elsa too, Anna." He said. "I just… I feel like no matter how hard I try, Pitch has her so tightly wrapped around his finger… if I could just… show her that I want to help her without putting you in danger…"
"Jack, I know you're trying your best, and… I also know that Elsa will somehow see the truth. Please don't feel guilty for what's happened… for what it's worth, I've made lasting friends here despite my worrying over Elsa." Anna smiled. "And you're right, Jack. Being safe here is best for both her and I." Anna said. She said goodnight, taking her leave from the room.
It was then that Jack noticed she had left her necklace, about to get her attention when he heard something from down the hall. He furrowed a brow, leaving Eliza's door open a crack as he made his way towards the source of the sound. He blinked in surprise, red flags going up when he saw Hiccup supporting Alice as she struggled to stand.
"Alice, what's wrong?" Jack asked.
"I have no idea what's happening Jack, she said she's having stomach pains…" Hiccup said, worry in his expression.
"Where is everyone else?" Jack asked.
"Asleep… I heard Alice fall outside my room, so I came out here to try to help her up and-"
Alice started to scream then, gasping for air as her face was twisted with pain. Panicked, Hiccup and Jack set her gently on the ground, Jack turning her face towards him.
"Alice, you're going to be okay, just- Hiccup, go get Merida!" Jack exclaimed.
Hiccup nodded, jumping to his feet and running down the hall, nearly bumping into Bunny as he did so.
"Jack, what the hell is-" Bunny's eyes widened when he saw Alice's state, shaking his head. "What's wrong with her?"
"I don't know Bunny, she's in pain!" He answered.
"Make it go away then you gumby!" Bunny said, becoming nervous.
"Well gee, don't you think we should try to figure out what's CAUSING it first?" Jack exclaimed.
Hiccup came back with Merida then, the other guardians following close behind. Anna watched from her bedroom, her hand covering her mouth at the commotion.
"Move back, lad." Merida said with a serious tone, kneeling over her as she closed her eyes, her hands hovering over Alice's body as she writhed. After a few moments, Merida's eyes popped open, hissing lightly. "Great Scot!" She whirled her head towards Jack. "Listen to me carefully, ye ken? I need you to hold 'er down! The rest of ye, stand back!"
"M- Merida, what in the hell is happening?" Jack asked.
"There's no time to explain, if I don't hurry it's going to eat out her innards!" Merida shouted.
Jack shook his head in panicked confusion, doing as he was told. Merida carefully rolled up Alice's nightgown, everyone gasping when they saw something moving under the skin of her stomach. Merida took in a deep breath, biting her lip as her hands hovered closely over Alice's skin, trying to follow whatever was inside her. Alice cried out painfully, gasping wheezily for air. After a few tense minutes, Merida growled as her hands became transparent, disappearing into Alice as she tried to grab at the malicious entity. At this, it seemed to somehow sense the pursuit against it, its movement under Alice's skin becoming more erratic. Alice struggled, Hiccup having to rush over to help Jack hold her down, the two exchanging frightened glances. When Alice's screaming became choked, coughing up blood as her breathing became shallow and quick, Jack's eyes became moist with tears as he grit his teeth.
"Merida!" He cried, his fingers massaging Alice's shoulders as he held them. "Please!"
"I'm trying lad, this is a slimy devil!" Merida said as she narrowed her eyes, gasping as she finally grabbed hold of the thing. She shut her eyes tightly, grunting as she finally managed to encase it in her hands, making sure that no severe injuries were left when she finally removed it. She got to her feet, her curls bouncing as she struggled to keep hold of what everyone either recoiled in horror or grimaced in disgust at. It was a large, black leech, similar to the ones Alice had fought when Bumby had invaded her Wonderland. Merida gasped when the thing wriggled out of her hands, slithering quickly on the floor as it attempted to make its way back towards Alice. It was so close to its target despite Hiccup and Jack trying to move her back, when suddenly-
Bunny grit his teeth, his expression dark as he twisted his foot to crush the vile creature into black paste. He finally lifted it up, wiping the remnants stuck to him on the floor. Everyone fell silent, staring in shock at the remains of what had been pulled out of Alice. Too shaken to speak, they all maintained that silence for some time, until Jack noticed that Alice was still coughing up blood, struggling to stay conscious.
"Merida, something's wrong!" Jack exclaimed, gently pulling Alice against him so her back was pressed against his chest.
Merida quickly hurried back over, holding her hands up as she slowly frowned deeply. "This isn't good, laddies… it's a mess in there."
"Wh- What do you mean?" Jack looked from Alice to Merida. "C- Can you help her?"
"I'll try m' best… keep her still." Merida replied, her hands beginning to glow. "Come now Merida, you can do this…" She whispered to herself.
Bunny paced around uneasily, closing his eyes tight as his anxiety grew. Tooth slowly reached her hand down to take Sandy's in one, North's in the other. Sandy gave her hand a gentle squeeze, all of them silently hoping for Alice to make it out of this. Alice was becoming paler by the second, Jack's hand holding one of hers as a tear escaped, traveling down his cheek. Merida furrowed her brows deeply as she struggled, her hands trembling until she felt someone take one of hers in theirs. She opened her eyes, glancing over to see Hiccup force a smile, giving her a single nod.
"You can do this, Merida." He said, trying to encourage her. "Just try to remember how you healed me."
Merida exhaled shakily, nodding as she slowly looked back at Alice, her expression becoming determined as her hands reached forward, placing one over Alice's and Jack's as he held it, the other gripping Alice's hand lying limply on the ground. Her glow intensified then, Jack gazing upon it with awe. When he heard Alice inhale sharply, her eyes opening, he looked down hopefully at her.
"Alice?" Jack called her name quietly, Merida's glow fading as he turned Alice a bit to face him. "How do you feel? Can you speak?"
"Yes, I can, you silly boy." Alice said as she chuckled weakly, everyone sighing with relief. "I owe you all my life… you especially, Merida." She glanced over at her, taking her hand and holding it for a moment.
"Aye, it's good to see you well, Alice." Merida gave her a firm nod as she smiled.
Jack and Bunny helped Alice back to bed then; her internal injuries from the leech may have been healed, but she still needed to recover from the nearly fatal attack. After she fell asleep, Jack and Bunny joined Merida, Hiccup, Anna and the remaining guardians to discuss what had occurred.
"What in the bloody hell was that all about?" Bunny asked, holding his hands out.
"That lad, was the same dark essence that was making you act like a troll with a vengeance." Merida replied.
"Wait, hang on a second." Jack held his hands up. "That THING was in Bunny first?"
"Not exactly. See… after we returned, I sensed something was off about Bunny, but I had a hard time seeing exactly what it was. It hid itself away in Bunny's mind so I wouldn't see. It was merely pure aura then." Merida answered.
"Okay, this may be an awkward question to ask, but do you think that something happened when um… sorry Jack… when Bunny… kissed her?" Hiccup asked.
They were all silent for a moment, Sandy raising his brows and holding his hands out at Bunny with an odd expression. Bunny groaned, holding his head.
"I didn't mean to do anything, Sandy, will you lay off? I already got socked in the nose by mister cool guy over there…" Bunny sighed.
Sandy gave him a wary look, taking Tooth's hand in his, and pointing at Bunny with his other one before waving his finger, then proceeding to swipe it against his throat, giving him a firm nod with a serious expression.
"Sandy, Bunny is NOT a girlfriend stealer!" Tooth scolded. "Bunny would never hurt any of us like that, Merida just explained he was under the control of some dark power."
"Bumby was behind this." Merida said. "This all happened after Bunny said he saw him in his mind during the last fight. After the altercation between him and Alice earlier, this happened because the dark aura concentrated into a physical form." She glanced to the upper floor. "He was trying to kill Alice from the inside."
"Literally…" Hiccup cringed. "That was the most disgusting thing I ever saw, and as a Viking, I've seen some pretty gross stuff."
"We have to be very careful from this point on." Jack said. "Obviously if they're going to go this far and make this elaborate of a plan, they're willing to do anything."
"They must be taken down, Jack." North said, standing up. "Look at the lights." He motioned to the large, rotating globe of Earth. "The lights of the children in England are disappearing. This… Bumby… is harvesting more and more children each day. If we do not stop him, we are all in grave danger."
"I say we go back there right now and teach those foul blokes a lesson." Bunny slapped his fist into the palm of his other hand.
"No." Anna stood up then, sighing. "I'm sorry… but you have to remember that my sister is still there. And as long as I'm living, I'm not going to let her die. Please… you have to spare her."
"She's working for them… she's working against us, the children. She's one of them now, Anna." Bunny said with a serious tone.
Anna shook her head, becoming tense as she clenched her fist. "You're so worried about how you weren't able to help Alice after her family was killed… well what about Elsa?!" She shouted, surprising everyone. "All of Elsa's life, she's been alone! No one has ever cared enough to try to help her, to bring HER joy! Her whole life, she's been afraid of herself… I always thought she was trying to shut me out… no, she was trying to protect me, to shut herself IN. You're right, Bunny. She is one of them because that's how she sees herself. She sees herself as a MONSTER." Anna began to tear up, biting her lip. "I will always see past the cold exterior. She had a warm heart, a GOOD heart. I will always, always love her and fight for her. No wonder her mind's been so twisted by Pitch… because fear is all she's known her whole life, he was her guardian when you should have been!" She screamed, pointing at Bunny.
There was a thick silence in the room then. Bunny stared at Anna as his expression softened, pinning his ears back as he hung his head.
"… I'm sorry." He said lowly, regretfully. "You're right." He shrugged.
Anna stood up a bit straighter, glancing around the table. "You all have good hearts too." She started. "I know that you can save her. Elsa is the strongest person I know… and she will fight for what she believes in. But if she keeps following Pitch, if she keeps listening to him… the prophesy that I heard before coming here will come true. She'll turn dark… she'll start to lose faith in everything she loves."
Jack felt a renewed determination within him; he would not allow Bumby nor Pitch to get away with what they had done, he would not allow them to claim or damage anymore lives. He looked over at Anna, taking in a deep breath. "I won't let that happen." He started. "North… before all of this began… you were trying to show me how to be a true guardian." He said as he glanced over at him. "The only way Elsa is going to be saved is if she learns what it means to be happy, to feel joy. And there's one person in her life who knows that."
"Jack, if you bring Anna to their hideout, she'll be nothing short of live bait for them!" Hiccup exclaimed.
"I know. I won't bring Anna…" He reached into his sweatshirt pocket, revealing her coronation necklace. "I meant to tell you that you had left this in Eliza's room…" He said to Anna. "But I think it's time she knows that her sister needs her."
They all glanced at each other before finally nodding in agreement. "So… how do you expect to make out when you just decide to waltz in there like a gazelle into a den of lions?" Bunny asked.
"Waltzing? I'm Jack Frost. I'm going to blow in like an unsuspecting winter draft from under a shoddy door and give this to Elsa herself. It's not a solid plan, but it's the best one I've got." He said. "I'll head there at dawn tomorrow. Hopefully Pitch and his gang of freaks are heavy sleepers."
Bumby's angered scream echoed throughout the depths of the cavern, his glasses reflecting eerily in the low light. It was one of the few times he had forsaken his reserved nature, displaying his rage as she shoved one of the many puppet children inhabiting the darker areas of their lair aside. He clenched his fists, exhaling sharply as embers within his molten form began to glow.
"What seems to be troubling you, doctor?" The Queen asked, her eyes glowing in the darkness.
"Those fools are trying my patience." He growled lowly. "I was so close; I had her life within my clutches... indeed that Scottish princess shall pay dearly for opposing me."
"And how do you plan on doing that?" The Queen asked.
"I'm going to buy my time." Bumby answered, narrowing his eyes. "They are no doubt shaken up; their decisions will not be made with a clear mind. They'll jump into something without looking first."
"How might you determine that, doctor?" The Queen asked, raising a curious brow.
"Because as you know, your grace, I am proficient in anticipating and manipulating how the mind works. They will act upon instinct because they have been cornered; the security of their sanctuary has been penetrated. I am going to allow them to respond with whatever their emotions drive them to do, allow them to make the next mistake." Bumby answered.
"They will try to take their revenge." The Queen warned.
"Of course they will... but as I already told you, their minds will be clouded. They will be driven heavily by emotion, not logic. It shall be the flaw of their action, their downfall." Bumby assured. "Continue to keep your eyes and ears open, your grace. The opportunity to strike may be upon us soon."
"I'll be the one to determine and execute that." She smirked, sashaying as she took her leave.
Elsa sat with Wick, the two giggling lightly as she wrapped a blanket around herself.
"Are you cold? I can keep you warm." Wick said.
"No, it's just comforting." She smiled lightly. "I always wrapped a blanket around myself to feel protected growing up... especially in the dark, when I had nightmares."
Wick frowned. "But you and Pitch get along so well."
"Yes... we do now." She was silent for a few moments. "I never thought I could be close to anyone, Wick. I always tried to keep this distance between myself and everyone else because I thought it was for the best. It's still hard sometimes... getting accustomed to closeness... to not being alone."
Wick twiddled his fingers a bit. "I'm afraid to be alone." He said quietly. "After the guardians turned me into a pumpkin... when you guys woke me up, I was afraid that if I was left alone, they would find me and do that again."
"How did they do that, exactly?" Elsa asked, curious.
Wick sighed sadly. "This is what happened; I became friends with Pitch, because we helped each other. The guardians told me that scaring children was wrong, but Pitch said I should be who I am. The guardians didn't like that, though. So one night, during the dark ages... they came after us." He closed his eyes, envisioning the memory. "They tried to hurt Pitch, but I stopped them. Pitch got away, so it was just me. I told them that they were mean, that I would make sure that children would never believe in them. They got angrier, and Bunny... the worst of them all, used the book to make my light go out. See, my flame wasn't as powerful as it is now, I had no chance against their magic book. I was stuck, in the words of the spell to bring me back, like I was asleep. Because I don't have a real soul, they can just do that to me again."
Elsa's eyes widened. "I won't let them." She said. "How would they be able to do that?"
"All of them would have to be here, and the moon man would have to see." Wick said.
"The... moon man?" Elsa asked, tilting her head.
"He's the one that chooses the guardians... but he's pretty stupid if you ask me, picking them to be guardians..." Wick pouted. "He doesn't even really talk, he's a big circle in the sky."
Elsa raised a brow, craning her head to look out of the small crack through the ice, a bit of moonlight pouring through it. "So... the moon chooses who gets to be a guardian and who doesn't? The actual moon itself?"
"Yeah... pretty crazy, huh?" He asked.
Elsa chuckled lightly. "Not as crazy as you think." She yawned, covering her mouth as she did so. "We should probably get some rest. Who knows what could be planned for us tomorrow."
"Okay." Wick smiled, leaning over to kiss Elsa's cheek. The young woman blinked, blushing a bit as she glanced over at him. "I saw Pitch do that earlier." He giggled. "It tickles."
Elsa exhaled slowly, chuckling lightly. "Do you know what that action is, Wick?"
"Um... not really." He said as he scratched his head through his hat.
"It's a kiss. You give one to someone you love." Elsa said.
"Well, we love each other, don't we?" Wick smiled.
"Yes, but there are... different kinds of love." Elsa tried to explain.
"Oh..." Wick said as he thought. "I don't really know anything about love."
Elsa frowned lightly, thinking for a moment. She then waved her hand, conjuring a snowflake shape with her powers. "Love... is like snowflakes. It's unique for everyone, none is exactly the same. There's love between friends... between family, like Anna and-"
"Like you and me, right? Brothers and sisters are family." Wick smiled a bit.
"Yes... like you and I." Elsa smiled lightly.
"What about you and Pitch? What kind of love is that?" Wick asked.
Elsa stared at the turning snowflake shape in her hand, its shape and design changing with each turn. She closed her eyes for a moment, exhaling slowly. "I… I can't be sure. I don't know if there is a name for what he and I share."
Wick tilted his head. "Don't you like him?"
"Well…" Elsa bit her lip as she struggled to find an answer. "It's a bit complicated, Wick. I certainly feel that… that I need him, and I believe that he needs me, too. The exact reasons for that are still being discovered by both of us." She waved her hand, making the floating snowflake disappear. "We've both lost much, we've both suffered greatly as well. And… we're both searching for something."
"What are you searching for?" Wick asked.
"... a way to end our misery." Elsa said sadly. She laid down on her side, curling up as Wick frowned.
"Are you going to sleep now?" He asked.
"Yes, I would like to…" Elsa said tiredly, pulling the blanket tighter around her.
"Okay, I'll be quiet." Wick said.
Elsa cracked one eye open at him, remembering when she was a child, how Anna would rouse her from sleep in anticipation of a night filled with merriment. She smiled ever so slightly, snaking an arm from under the blanket, gently holding Wick's hand.
"Goodnight, Wick." She said, closing her eyes.
Wick glanced down at his hand, smiling as his twig like fingers held hers. "Night, Elsa."
In her heart, Elsa knew that though he claimed to know nothing of love, he was teaching her more about it than he realized. His kind and simple nature towards her allowed her to come out of her shell, to be who she truly was without fear of judgment or rejection, because the affection that Wick had was unconditional. He wasn't the smartest pumpkin in the patch, and he didn't have to be, he wasn't the most agile or serious, and he didn't have to harbor those qualities either. Elsa was perfectly content with exactly how he was, just as he was with her. There was a growing sadness in her heart as maybe, the more she thought about it, perhaps Anna had felt the same way. That like Wick, she was simply her sister, nothing more, nothing less, and that regardless of who she was, Anna would always love her. Elsa's one wish was to see Anna again, even if it was for a few minutes, to ask for her forgiveness. She mustered one last glance through the crack allowing the moonlight to enter into the dark space, mentally conveying this single wish to whatever force governed it. If it was true that this mysterious man in the moon had the power to influence the fate of others, she hoped that it would spare her a single shred of mercy and allow her wish to be fulfilled.
Jack moved quickly and quietly, pocketing Anna's coronation necklace as he moved light on his toes through the halls. He hesitated outside of Alice's room, smiling at her lightly as she slept. His heart always skipped a beat when he was near her, never feeling like this in either his human or guardian life. He felt so at peace with her, especially now that he also had his beloved sister back in his life; to his awareness, that is.
He wanted the same happiness for Anna. He knew that feeling of helplessness, when he was so invisible to the world and could do nothing to change it. He felt he owed it to her to reunite her with her sister; and he was going to do whatever he had to, even risk his own life, to do so. He took a snow globe, nodding to himself as he cast it, making his way back to London.
As soon as Jack left, a second figure quietly emerged, glancing around to make sure the coast was clear.
"Okay... just grab a couple, check things at home real quick, then come back here... no one will have any idea I left, no one will want to put my head on a stake. It'll work out perfectly." Hiccup whispered to himself as he snuck down the hall. He went to the room where he had seen the snow globes last, opening the drawer and sighing with relief. He was about to take one in his hands, when a sudden voice nearly made him jump out of his skin.
"Hiccup? Y' alright, lad?"
He whirled around, his eyes wide as he glanced around. He straightened up then, pressing his back against the drawer to close it as subtly as possible. "O- Oh, Merida, I uh... I must have been sleep walking... I have absolutely NO idea how I got, got in here so I am just going to go to bed now and pretend this never-"
Merida held out a hand, pressing it against Hiccup's chest to stop him. "What were y' doing in here?"
Hiccup chuckled nervously, scratching the back of his neck. "Well I told you... I was sleep walking so, who KNOWS what my subconscious was trying to-"
"You were trying to leave, weren't ye?" Merida asked, furrowing her brows.
"N- No! Merida, I swear, I was just trying to-"
"You think that you can just leave us now? You have a job to do, lad!" Merida exclaimed.
"Yes, Merida, and I have neglected that job for nearly two months, I'm the chief of my home!"
"Ah, so y' admit it then!" Merida shouted.
"Yeah, alright, I tried to leave, okay? But I promise, I was going to come right back!" Hiccup said.
"Y' say that now... but you would have seen them... your family... and you wouldn't want to come back."
"Can you blame me? Haven't you wanted to do the same, Merida? Don't you care about your family? You're a princess after all!"
"Of course I care about m' family! But I'm not going to abandon this kinship!" She allowed some of the curls to fall into her face as she turned her face away. "I'm DEAD, Hiccup. M' family can't see me anymore. THIS is the only family I have now."
Hiccup sighed, about to say something when Alice approached. "The two of you are going to rouse the entire workshop with your bickering..." She hissed.
"A- Alice!" Hiccup exclaimed. "Are you feeling okay?"
"I'm faring much better, thank you... but it seems Jack has already taken his leave. Now is not the time to be fighting amongst ourselves, we must remain alert during his absence." Alice replied.
"Aye, lass. I'll stand post, I can bear the cold." Merida said, shooting a glare at Hiccup as she shoved past him.
When she was far enough away, Merida sighed sadly as she unsheathed her sword, floating outside to keep watch. Did she mean so little to Hiccup that he was this desperate to get back to Astrid?
Jack exhaled sharply, bracing himself for what he was about to do. He drew his sweatshirt hood over his head, trying to remain concealed as he moved quietly through the shadows. He remained vigilant, knowing that eyes could be watching, waiting in the darkness. He bit his lip, trying to find where Elsa was located as quickly as possible. He glanced behind him, turning around as he gripped his staff to walk backwards a few steps. As he did so, someone emerged from the shadows, extending their hand as the ice guardian's back faced them.
"Don't take another step."
Jack whirled around, pointing his staff at the source of the voice when he realized who it was. He lowered his staff a bit, holding his hands up.
"Elsa... I'm not here to hurt you." Jack said.
"I know who you're here to hurt, and I'm not going to let you get to him. I don't care what you say, I'm not going to leave Pitch's side." Elsa responded.
"I'm not here to hurt him either. I'm here to talk to you." Jack said.
"This is some kind of trick, he warned me that you would try to sway me to your side." Elsa said.
"Why do you trust what he says?" Jack asked. "What's the reasoning?"
"Because my sister begged for him to help her, to help us, and he answered her plea." Elsa answered.
"Did she? Are you sure about that?" Jack asked.
"Stop trying to play mind games with me!" Elsa cried.
"Fine. You want a solution? We'll go back to the workshop right now and ask her." Jack nodded his head towards where he entered.
Elsa scoffed. "Do you take me for a fool? Her heart is frozen, her life is endangered, because of me! Pitch has helped me to control my powers, to give me hope of bringing her back! I won't believe your lies!"
Jack shook his head. "Pitch is the one lying to you, Elsa..." He looked down, his hand taking something out of his sweatshirt pocket. Elsa furrowed her brows, taking a step back as he approached her fearlessly.
"Stay back!" She warned, stopping completely when he opened his hand to reveal the coronation necklace. Elsa gasped lightly, glancing from him to the object, Jack allowing her to snatch it out of his hands and gaze upon it breathlessly. She looked up at him, her eyes filled with confusion.
"Where did you get this...?" She whispered.
"I got this from your sister, Elsa. She is with us, safe and sound, but she's miserable because all she wants is to see you. She wants you to go home, where you belong." Jack sighed. "I know what it's like to love a sister more than anything. I thought I had lost her forever and I was so happy when I found her. Now if Pitch really cared about you, he would let you go, right now, and see Anna."
Elsa's head whipped up to look at him upon hearing her name. She shook her head as she clutched the necklace to her, running her other hand through her hair. "No… no this… this cannot possibly be-"
"Please, Elsa… I would bring Anna here myself but it's too dangerous… you have to leave this place. I made a promise to her that whatever I could do to reunite you both… I would do it." Jack said.
For a moment, as Elsa allowed several tears to escape from her eyes, he thought that perhaps he had finally gotten through to her. But when she slowly looked up at him, glaring darkly, the hand holding the coronation necklace began to tremble.
"What did you do to my sister?" Elsa asked lowly.
"I already told you, she's safe… she's staying with us, Kristoff and Olaf are with her." Jack replied.
"Did you force her to do this? Are you keeping her there against her will?" Elsa screamed.
"No, Elsa! Please, just… come and see for yourself!" Jack exclaimed.
"Give her back to me!" Elsa became distraught, beginning to sob as she began to freeze the surrounding area. "If you so much as do one thing, ONE thing to her, I will end your life!"
Jack glanced around, hearing someone approaching. His heart filling with regret, he turned to make for a quick escape. When he was at a safe distance from the cavern, he rubbed his face, sighing sadly as he hung his head in disappointment.
"Why won't she just believe me…?" He whispered to himself.
Meanwhile, Elsa felt a pair of arms pick her up from the ground, helping her to stand steady on her feet.
"Elsa, what's the matter?" Pitch asked her, lifting her face. "I thought the nightmares had stopped."
"This was no nightmare…" Elsa said as she sobbed. "He was here!"
Pitch narrowed his eyes warily. "Who was here?"
"Jack Frost… he has her, Pitch… he has my sister!" She cried, holding up the coronation necklace. "He wants me to go to them… we have to get her back…"
Pitch could feel his blood boiling. That persistent Jack Frost, daring to even attempt creating a rift between them! Oh, he would certainly pay dearly for this… all of them would pay.
"Listen to me carefully, Elsa." Pitch said to her softly. "You know as well as I that he is trying to turn you against me. He knows that we have something between us, and he knows the one thing you want most. He will fabricate any lie to try to convince you, but Elsa… I need you to stay here. Regardless of what he says or does, I need you to stay."
Elsa looked up at Pitch, frowning when she noticed a pleading look in his expression, as if he were begging her in his own way. "How did he get this, Pitch? How could he have gotten this necklace? What if he is really keeping her there? I… I need to know if she's still alive."
Pitch bit his lip. What a fool he had been, thinking he could keep this up without assuming the potential risk. If he allowed Elsa to go to the workshop, if he allowed her to see Anna, it would be all over. She would know he lied to her, she would realize he had kept her, all this time, from the one person she wanted to be with more than anything, her sister.
No. He would not endure that pain again.
He had opened his heart once, long ago, before time was time, to the beautiful creature he called his Lady. Her life was torn from him prematurely, and he fell into pure darkness without her light to guide his heart. He became the nightmare that he suffered, relived, day after day, when he would open his eyes and find that she was still gone. He could not tear his gaze from Elsa; her eyes were so enchanting, so hypnotizing, he became so easily lost in them. It was the first time in a countless age that he had even fathomed opening his heart again, and he was not going to let anyone take her from him. He didn't care if he was damned for it, hell, he didn't care if she was damned for it. He knew that the raw emotions they felt for each other was real, even if the reason for their development wasn't. He may have lied to her… but he didn't want to lose that light pouring into his dark heart now. A part of him feared that if he lost Elsa, that he himself would be completely lost forever, as Lady had prophesized in his visions.
Pitch took Elsa's hands in his, giving them a gentle squeeze. "If it shall bring you comfort… I will go myself."
Elsa gasped lightly, shaking her head. "No. They'll try to kill you."
"And they may capture you if you go there. Elsa, I will not allow you to go on your own." Pitch said.
"Then let me come with you. I need to see if she's there." Elsa pled.
"Out of the question. I don't trust them… I assure you, I can handle myself well. Besides, Jack will surely be expecting at least one of us to be pursuing him right away, so for both of our sakes, let us wait until at least tomorrow. Their expectation will waver just enough to let their guard down. If she is there… then I will report back to you and we can take her back together. If not… then at least we will have avoided a potential ambush or something of the like." Pitch suggested.
Elsa thought on his words for a few moments, sighing as she nodded. "Alright. We'll… we'll discuss this more tomorrow, then."
She was about to take her leave, heading back to her resting area when she felt one of Pitch's hands hold onto hers, refusing to let her go. Elsa closed her eyes as she furrowed her brows, leaning back against Pitch's chest as he drew her back to him gently. He was like a strong pillar, supporting her in her emotional fragility. No words were spoken between them, for none needed to be. She knew that he wanted, needed her to stay, and that she decided that she too wanted, needed him.
Indeed, as she had expressed to Wick that previous night, she did not have a word or term to describe what she and Pitch had… but whatever it was, it was their own, and neither was willing to give it up for anything.
North sighed worriedly, more lights going out around the city of London on his large globe of the Earth. He felt helpless, but knew that he needed to protect his workshop, salvage what he could to still do his job.
But his heart sunk when he realized that he was failing to salvage the children of London... and that if these malicious forces were not stopped soon, that the darkness that was plaguing London would grow to consume all the lights of the world.
The only thing that could distract him was Jack returning, looking to him when the young guardian appeared.
"Jack, are you alright?" North asked with concern, placing a hand on his shoulder when he noticed he was a bit out of breath.
"Yeah... but I got absolutely nowhere with Elsa." He sighed, shaking his head. "Now she thinks we may be keeping Anna here hostage!" He exclaimed.
"Pitch has got her mind so twisted, he has her so set in his ways..." North closed his eyes for a moment. "This is not good, Jack. Her life is in danger as long as she-"
"I know that, North... but no matter what I try, she won't listen to me, she won't believe me... she believes him." Jack hung his head, feeling defeated.
Alice glided down the stairs then, followed by Anna. "Anything to report, Jack?" She asked, frowning lightly when she saw Jack's expression.
"She didn't take the bait. She thinks we're trying to use Anna to lure her into a trap..." Jack said. He glanced up at Anna, biting his lip. "I'm so sorry, Anna. I tried everything."
Anna was silent for a moment. "How is she?" She asked quietly.
"She's... she misses you. But Pitch has got her so convinced that what he's saying is the truth..." Jack answered.
"What happens now? Do you think they will come to us?" Alice asked.
"I can't say for sure. Elsa may try to come here, but if she were to see Anna is fine and learn about Pitch's lies from her, it may risk her joining our side. So if anyone is going to come, it won't be her, or at least not alone." Jack hissed as he rubbed his forehead. "I just made everything worse for us, didn't I?
"No, Jack, please don't beat yourself up over this." Anna said, taking a step forward. "I know that I would be putting my life at risk... but I think the only way Elsa is going to believe us is if she actually sees me."
They were all quiet for a moment; this was something they all wanted to avoid. But the situation was becoming dire now, and they were quickly running out of options.
"We'll take some time to think it over." Jack said. "At least they don't seem to be hurting her... so as long as Pitch keeps her in one piece, we don't have to worry about her life being at stake."
Alice thought to herself for a moment. "I think we all need something to lift our spirits a bit. All of this pandemonium is not helping to maintain our morale."
"Oi, you can say that again!" Bunny exclaimed, hopping down the last five or so stairs as he crouched down to scratch his ear with his foot. "Someone needs to whip me up a carrot cake or something!"
Alice rolled her eyes playfully. "I think we should all have a little gathering with some friends in London."
"Friends? What friends?" Jack asked.
"Mr. Daniels, Mr. Bacardi, and Mr. Smirnoff." Alice smirked, chuckling a bit. "We all need to unwind a bit, and being that I'm known for being improper and unladylike in the area anyhow, it won't do much to tarnish my reputation by being seen in a pub."
Jack tilted his head, ignoring the fact that Hiccup was heading downstairs. "A- wait, what? Why didn't you ever tell me you had friends back in your-"
"It's a joke, Jack. They aren't real people; they're names for an assortment of fermented beverages." Alice chuckled, patting Jack's shoulder.
Hiccup raised a brow as the scene, smirking a bit. "Little bit after your time, Jack?"
"Like you would have had any clue either!" Jack bumped his arm into Hiccup jokingly, the two chuckling.
"So, who will join me then?" Alice asked, looking around.
"I'm supposing I could use a change of scenery!" Merida shouted as she floated down to them. "Count me in!"
"You know I'm going if you're going." Jack said.
"Well if you three are going, I'll tag along." Hiccup added.
"Bunny? Anna?" Alice asked. "Will you be accompanying us?"
"Oh, um, no thank you… someone needs to keep an eye on Olaf." Anna replied. It was a poor excuse, but she felt more comfortable staying where she was.
Bunny sighed lightly; did he want to be a fifth wheel? Sure, Hiccup and Merida weren't really together, but he knew without a doubt that Merida liked Hiccup. Not wanting to make things awkward for them or himself, he shrugged it off. "I'll help Anna keep those two little ankle biters occupied. You all go on ahead."
"Alright then. How about we take a turn about London, remaining low key of course, and we'll make the pub the last stop after a short day of merriment." Alice suggested.
"Sounds good to me… though I'd like to know where in the heck any grass is in that place… or trees." Hiccup said.
Alice laughed at that. "Ah, yes, you and Merida are from a time far before the industrial revolution of England. It's a rather large city; you would have to go to the country to see grass and trees…"
"I'm up for explorin' anything new." Merida smiled. "Let's get going!"
Jack pocketed a few snow globes, not noticing that Hiccup eyed them a bit as his smile faded slightly. "We'll be back tonight." He said to North.
"Alright, you all be careful, and stick together." He said, nodding to them as he headed towards his little office.
As Bunny watched the four disappear, he sighed lightly, glancing over at Anna after a few seconds. "You gonna be alright?"
"O- Oh, yes…" Anna replied, smiling lightly. "I want to thank you also… for everything you're doing. It must be hard for you to go against your commitments…"
Bunny nodded. "I don't have a sister… but I do know what it means to have family. I'd do anything for my mates. Same concept with you and Elsa. It's gonna be tough what with her helping Pitch."
"If only I could give this Pitch a piece of my mind… I would tell him that I don't care what he wants, that Elsa belongs at home, with her family… with me. She deserves to be loved, not stuck in some dark, cold cave." Anna said.
"Wasn't she in one of those to begin with? That ice castle?" Bunny asked.
"Her castle? Oh… no, it was… it was the most beautiful thing I ever saw. She made the whole thing herself. It wasn't a dark place… but it felt… empty, lonely… like her." Anna frowned.
Bunny tilted his head sadly, noticing that Anna was beginning to tear up. "Bring it in, Sheila." He said as he hugged her. "Come on, now. I don't like seeing a sad face, and not just with those ankle biters. It's been a bumpy road, but we'll make it to the end. I know we will."
Anna wiped her eyes a bit, smiling as she hugged Bunny back. "Wow, your fur is pretty comfy."
Bunny chuckled a bit at that, scratching the back of his ear. "Eh, kids like the big fuzzy stuff, what can I tell you?"
"Maybe I should ask Eliza and Olaf to help bake that carrot cake for you. It'll help pass the time…" Anna suggested.
"Don't have to ask me twice!" Bunny exclaimed, Anna giggling a bit as she followed him into the kitchen area.
Alice, Jack, Hiccup and Merida spent the day remaining low key as they went sight-seeing through London. Despite its sometimes dreary and dark atmosphere, there were some nice parts to it as well. Merida and Hiccup were especially fascinated with the display of buildings, clothing, architecture and technology. The two gasped, whirling around when a train whistled, speeding by on its tracks. Merida cried out in surprise, Jack laughing when she clung to him fearfully.
"Calm down Merida, it's not going to hurt you!" Jack chuckled. "That's just a train, it's a machine that helps get people from one place to another.
"Wow… it breathes fire, just like dragons! I've never- how does it move on its own like that?" Hiccup breathed.
"It runs on coal. It's the fuel that makes it run." Alice answered as they moved on.
They passed by a printing shop, stopping when Hiccup and Merida peeked in curiously.
"How… how is it able to make all that writing appear so fast?" Merida asked.
"It's a machine called a printing press. It takes writing and duplicates it so it can be given to many people to read. It's printing the local newspaper. London's finest." Alice said, chuckling when she saw how engrossed Hiccup and Merida were as they stared through the window.
This continued through the day, Jack and Alice getting a kick out of Hiccup and Merida's astonishment to their futuristic surroundings. Soon, as the late afternoon was upon them, they made their way inside a local pub. It was pretty empty, the four grabbing a booth towards the back to tuck themselves in their own little corner. They sat and talked for a bit before Alice got them their first round of drinks.
"Can't say I've ever had a 'fermented beverage' before, as you call it." Jack said to Alice, taking a sip. He blinked a bit in reaction. "Definitely an acquired taste."
Alice took a sip, having no problem as she dabbed her mouth with a handkerchief. "Don't fret, you'll become accustomed soon enough."
Hiccup raised his brows, looking as his glass and nodding. "This stuff isn't half bad." He said.
"This is great! You're right, Alice, I LOVE the cider!" Merida exclaimed.
"So... now that you're a bit familiar with my area of residence, you'll have to give a tour of your homes someday." Alice said.
"Yeah, I'd like to see the other dragons you have, Hiccup." Jack commented.
"You'll need to stay a while, there's hundreds of different species. We're still trying to find another Night Fury, like Toothless." Hiccup said.
"He's the only one of his kind?" Merida frowned. "Poor laddie."
"He'll be alright..." Hiccup said as he finished his first glass. "It doesn't bother him too much. He thinks it's gross when Astrid and I get all 'mushy...'" He sighed. "Odin, I miss her..."
Merida tried to act like this didn't bother her, but it did. She finished off her first glass then, pouring another out of the bottle. "You'll see her soon enough, lad. We're going to beat the stuffing out of that Bumby the next time we find him."
"Let's just think about something else..." Jack said. "I think all of you would be amazed to see where I come from. I mean, I started out around the same time period as Alice, but I've lived a pretty long time. I've seen some stuff."
"I'm quite sure you have, you're from at least two hundred years or so in the future." Alice said, taking another sip. "Can't imagine the developments that have been made in that span of time."
"It feels so weird... around this time, I was still wondering who I was and why I had these powers... knowing what I know now, the wait was definitely worth it." Jack said.
Alice smiled lightly, reaching across the table to take Jack's hand. At this, Merida sighed, taking another sip of her drink. "So where's the liveliness around here?" She asked. "The music, the hearty laughter?"
"Well granted, we are in a shadier location... not much liveliness to have in the entire vicinity." Alice replied. "But we have to keep attentions somewhat off of us, so it's a sacrifice we have to make."
"It's not so bad... the dining halls in Berk can be pretty cold and dark at times." He said. "Though, growing up, no one let me sit closer to the fire so that could have had something to do with it..."
"I can't see you being as helpless as you say you were, Hiccup. You're a pretty tough guy... don't give yourself enough credit." Jack said.
"Thanks... but you would have laughed if you saw me five years ago. Scrawnier than I am now, wimpy... a klutz, no doubt." Hiccup downed another glass. "The only reason anyone in Berk pays any attention to me now is because I saved their butts. Twice."
"It takes more than just might and strength to be admirable, Hiccup." Alice commented. "I do understand that it's an important asset for your time period, but there are other amiable qualities you possess."
"Yeah... wish Astrid saw some of those sometimes..." He sighed, taking another sip. "I mean, right before I got thrown into this whole mess, we were on bad terms and everything, and I just... I just want to work things out..."
"Maybe she should be the one worryin' lad, not you." Merida said.
"What do you mean? Astrid never worries about anything." Hiccup replied.
"That's the problem. Who is she to think she's so high and mighty?" Merida asked as she took another sip. "Aren't you the chief? There should always be respect and honor between a King and his Queen." She moved some of her hair out of her face. "See, tha's why I couldn't bear the thought of being married off... there goes m' freedom, and they'd only like me because I was a princess!"
"You're complaining because people LIKE you?" Hiccup tilted his head. "That makes absolutely no sense!"
"They don't REALLY like me, Hiccup... they don't know me!" She frowned.
"So get to know them then." Hiccup replied.
Alice and Jack watched them in silence, not exactly knowing how to contribute to this conversation.
Merida downed another drink, staring at Hiccup. "Y' really don't get it, do ye lad?"
"Get what? If people actually wanted anything to do with me before I became a dragon rider, I would have taken up the offer!" Hiccup threw his hand up.
"This isn't some group of friends, Hiccup; this was going to be an arranged marriage!" Merida exclaimed.
"W- Well... couldn't you at least try being friends with them first?" Hiccup asked.
"No! They were ridiculous!"
"Oh, so you're no different than anyone back in Berk, not giving any of those guys a second thought, and you have the nerve to criticize Astrid!" Hiccup exclaimed. "And YOU don't even know HER!"
"I do have the nerve, lad, I do." She placed her glass down. "Because you are nothing like anyone from Dun' Broch. And I don't have to know someone to know when they don't appreciate someone good to them."
"Well gee, thanks, you must live with a horde of ogres then!" Hiccup groaned.
"Why is it so hard for ye to understand what I'm trying to say?" Merida whined.
"What, that you think that just because you can fight well and you're a princess that you can have some kind of competition with-"
"I LOVE you, Hiccup!" Merida finally shouted, staring at him.
Jack and Alice glanced at each other, raising their brows as they awaited in suspense for Hiccup's reaction.
Hiccup leaned forward slowly, placing his glass down. "Merida, let me say something to you. I. Have. A. Girlfriend." He leaned back, taking another sip of his drink.
Merida's mouth hung open for a moment, shaking her head. "But Hiccup, I actually care more than-"
"Enough already, okay?" Hiccup exhaled sharply. "I have been with Astrid for five years? You think I'm just going to throw that all away?"
"Hiccup, please, I just said that I love-"
"Well I don't love you Merida, so just drop it!" He downed another drink, pouring another from the bottle. "You think because you're royal and you can fight really well that you can just take whatever you want, that everyone can just step all over me like some bear skinned rug!"
"H- Hey, come on, Hic... you're making her cry." Jack finally interjected.
"Well maybe she'll finally understand how I've been feeling the last two months! It was hard enough trying to be nice to someone who looks like they're about to devour your soul, but obviously people in 'Dun 'Block' or whatever don't know how to take a hint!" Hiccup grabbed one of the bottles, storming out of the pub to sit outside.
"Well, so much for trying to unwind..." Alice sighed lightly, moving closer to Merida to gently rub her back. "Perhaps we should have placed a limit on you both. It seems you both need to learn how to handle your liquor."
Merida began to sob, letting her head rest on the table, her curls bouncing a bit as she did so. "Y- Ye think I don't miss m' own family...?" She asked in between sobs. "I thought that I at least helped him make this bearable..."
"You do, Merida, he's just having a hard time thinking right now." Jack said, not knowing exactly how to console the distraught Banshee.
As Jack and Alice tried to speak to Merida, two shady men entered the pub, sitting not far from the three. They spoke among themselves and had a couple drinks, when they happened to notice Alice sitting near them. Not being children, they were not able to see Jack, or even Merida for that matter, being she was a Banshee. They snickered, glancing over at Alice as they spoke to themselves.
"Well, isn't she a familiar face? Got nothing better to do with 'erself I suppose. Must have 'erself a pretty penny to afford that much to swallow up."
"Probably from swallowin' something else…" The second man chuckled. "… she's a real fanatic, that one. Walks in the streets she does, mumbling and jumping as if she's seen a ghost. A first class lunatic. But boy, is she a looker."
As Alice took another sip of her drink, she noticed the room began to spin a bit; normal, she hadn't had alcohol in a while, so it made sense that her tolerance level was a bit rusty. "Jack... we shouldn't allow Hiccup to wander on his own..." She mumbled.
"Jus' look at 'er, talking to 'erself now…" One of the shady men commented.
"Fine..." He sighed, getting up. He walked across to the entrance, poking his head out to see if Hiccup was anywhere in sight. He noticed him slumped up against the building, sighing as he nonchalantly tossed his empty bottle aside. He held his head, groaning.
"All I do is mess everything up..." Hiccup said to himself.
Jack frowned; he remembered when he had reached this low point, quite literally, curled up at the bottom of the ice glacier with Baby Tooth.
But when one reaches their lowest point, the only way to go is up.
Jack crouched by the disheartened Viking, putting a hand on his shoulder. "Hiccup, come on. Let's get you back inside."
"Why? So I can hear that... that good for nothing ghost girl say more bad stuff about-"
"Hiccup, you know you don't mean any of that, so stop trying to hurt her." Jack sighed.
"You don't understand, Jack..." Hiccup let his head fall back so he could stare up at the night sky. "Astrid... is my everything. She's the only reason that I'm worth anything. She's the one thing that got me through EVERYTHING... battling a huge dragon queen... losing my leg... losing my DAD..." A tear escaped from his eyes then. "... he must be so disappointed in me. I can't protect my village. I am nothing without Astrid."
"That's not true, Hiccup. I was where you are right now, once." Jack said.
"… what do you mean? You're a guardian Jack, you're actually good at protecting people." Hiccup murmured.
"That's not how I always thought. I was a wanderer once… for over two hundred years, actually. I had no responsibilities, no purpose… I had no idea why I was given these powers, why I was who I was. Then I found the guardians… and boy, Pitch tried to mess with my head… and he almost succeeded. But then I found my reason for existing. It was because a long time ago, I saved a little girl. That little girl was my sister." He smiled to himself. "Look… I know you miss your family, I get it. This is hard for all of us. But this is not the answer. Think about it Hic… Merida has a family too. Her parents, her three brothers… they're probably feeling the same way Astrid is right now. She's trying to be strong, but she needs everyone's support."
Hiccup sighed, a small moment of clarity coming to him as he held his head. "I was a huge jerk, wasn't I?"
"Well, yeah, but I'm sure this was at least partially responsible for it." Jack said, holding up the empty bottle.
"Remind me never to drink that much of that stuff again, even if it DOES taste good…" Hiccup groaned.
Jack was about to help Hiccup get to his feet when Merida poked her head out, wiping at her face a bit. "Let me help, Jack. Alice sent me out here to keep an eye out."
"Thanks, Merida." Jack said as the two helped Hiccup inside. They all sat down, Merida avoiding Hiccup's gaze.
"Merida… I'm really… I'm sorry for… what I said…" Hiccup swayed a bit. "It's just… it's so hard sometimes… being away from someone you love… you deserve better."
Jack glanced over at Merida as she nodded, thinking it was best to just accept his apology and keep any lingering thoughts on the subject to herself. "It's alright, lad."
"We should get home… it's been a long day." Jack said, about to get up when he noticed Alice was appearing a bit tense. "Hey… you okay, Alice?"
She didn't really respond, her eyes wide as she held her head, keeping it lowered. "J- Jack… I fear I may have had a bit too much to drink myself…" She said barely above a whisper.
"What do you mean? Do you feel sick?" Jack asked.
Alice side glanced over towards a table not far from them, Jack's eyes following hers as he noticed two scruffy men glancing back every once and again, chuckling to themselves.
"Looks like she's servicing a nice young bloke after all. Must be one of them wealthy ones, enough to spend a few pounds here and there to take pity upon the nice pickings wandering about the streets." One of them said.
"Wouldn't want to get 'er in a rage, no sir, she'd be the she-devil that devoured your soul. I saw it m' self once… like the fires of hell in 'er eyes, arms swinging as if they would grow wings and take to flight. Night that the Mangled Mermaid burned to the ground. Though, I can't imagine how good of a time that'd make if she were bound. Must have made many a night to experience stuck in that looney bin, strapped 'er down good, 'er head lolling around like a ladle stirring that stew of a brain." The second said.
"I heard the same, the staff don't 'ave a care, too many loonies to attend to tha' none're paying attention. She didn't know the difference, maybe even liked it. When the mind's gone, what's left to speak but the flesh, hm?" The first commented.
"I see them, Jack…" Alice whispered. "Those blasted twins, the Tweedles. One more mischievous than the other. I'm… I'm back there, Jack… back within those… sickly white walls… the room is spinning…"
Jack however, was not listening fully to what Alice was saying for one reason. Despite their cockney accent and their manner of speaking, Jack was able to get the gist of what the men were saying as he listened to them, gritting his teeth as ironically, his blood began to boil. He was clenching his fists, unable to allow their degradation of Alice to continue for another minute. Without a word, Jack stormed over to them, benefitting him that neither of the men could see him. His rage reached its limit, rearing his fist back to punch one of the men square in the jaw. Before the other could really react, being they were both halfway to being drunk anyhow, he did the same to the other, subsequently knocking both their lights out as they lay on the ground unconscious. He was about to inflict further damage when a pair of hands held his shoulders firmly from behind, keeping him steady.
"Alright lad, let them be now…" Merida said, patting his back. "Ye did a good number on them, they've gotten their comeuppance."
Jack took a moment to calm himself, nodding. "Fine. Let's just get ourselves home. Alice and Hiccup need rest."
When all four managed to get out of the pub and into a secluded area, they cast another snow globe to get back home. What had started as a day to try to forget their troubles turned into a harsh reminder of all that rested upon their shoulders, and that many hardships still awaited them in their unpredictable endeavor.