Chapter 20: Outcomes
Annabeth awoke that night with a startled scream alerting her mother in the other room, the older woman entered her daughter's room as they shared an unspoken conversation. Claire sighed as she sat down on the bed before holding Annabeth close. "Where's Jack?" Annabeth asked her voice quiet and less confident than usual.
Claire stiffened slightly but relaxed with a sigh, she didn't want her daughter worrying any more about her brother than she already was. "He went out." Claire replied, she didn't like where this conversation was going.
"I think something bad has happened." Annabeth said her eyes focused on her sheets. Claire didn't say anything as she waited for her daughter to continue. "I had a nightmare that had fell through the ice…"
Claire sighed, "Jack's still here Annabeth. He's fine, everything's fine." she hoped it sounded convincing after all she wasn't entirely sure of her son's current predicament.
"It's different than the other ones." Annabeth said. Claire hummed in confusion, tilting her head to see her daughter's expression, the child however kept her gaze firmly on the blanket. "In this one he had white hair and blue eyes." Annabeth gave a small sob causing Claire to hug her tightly.
"Shhh…" She soothed, "It's just a nightmare…. They don't mean anything." Claire said rocking Annabeth back and forth.
"But it seemed so real." Annabeth muttered finally looking at her mother with red tear filled eyes.
"Everything's going to be fine." Claire said reassuringly despite the extra worry beginning to build up within herself. She let out another sigh as she held her daughter tighter. "He'll be back. I'm sure of it." Claire wasn't sure who she was trying to convince at that point, herself, or her daughter. She knew one thing though if Albert came home without Jack she wasn't going to be happy.
Jack had once again barely dodged the fourth onslaught of arrows heading his way from every direction. This time however, just as the arrows had been released so had an array of tiny darts. The winter teen's magic had cleared the danger of the arrows and several of the darts, Albert was becoming distressed, he was running out of long ranged attacks to throw at the teen.
The man got his chance to continue with his plan as one of the small metal darts struck Jack's hand causing the boy to cry out in pain as he dropped his staff in surprise. Using this as his only chance Albert released the weapon that would hopefully do enough damage to end this battle once and for all.
Jack, about to reach for his staff, stopped and turned when the sound of groaning wood caught his attention. Looking up to the trees he saw a large branch-less tree fall toward him from the lake's edge. Backing away quickly the winter teen slipped on his staff making him topple onto the icy lake surface. Seconds later the tree fell nearby less than a meter away from its intended target.
The ice shattered with the tree sinking first, its weight too heavy to keep it afloat, the rope, that had once been holding the tree up before it was released, ensnared Jack as it wrapped around his leg, effectively pulling him into the freezing water as well. Panicking Jack reached for his staff, hoping that he could use it to untangle the rope, his finger tips brushing the now ice-less wood surface as the tree continued to pull him under. If he had been a second quicker he may have been able to reach it instead he found himself being dragged into the dark depth's of the lake the water trying hard to freeze at his mere touch.
Unable to hold onto the lake's smooth surface any longer Jack began to submerge into the water. Struggling against the weight pulling him down Jack desperately looked for something to aid him, his staff now lying teasingly out of reach.
Albert walked out onto the ice a smile on his face as he sees the winter teen loosing the fight against gravity, before either can say anything to the other Jack vanishes under the surface his white form blending in with the ice starting to reform on the surface. Albert's smile widens, he had done it, he had managed to get rid of the being that killed his son.
It seemed only fair after all his son drowned in that very lake his daughter being an unfortunate witness. Not too long after the event he had found Annabeth at the lake with him, his daughter freezing in the cold winter air. It didn't take him long to put two and two together, this winter teen had caused the ice to crack the first time, he had wanted to kill his children, and clearly his son's death wasn't enough.
He just had to go after Annabeth, following her where ever she went, pretending to be her friend so that he could lure her to her demise. He didn't know why the teen wanted to do this but it didn't matter now, he was gone, and his daughter was safe from his cryokinetic clutches. For if there was one thing he knew it was that winter was cold and heartless, constantly preying on the weak and defenseless, it was why there was no life during these months, it all died during autumn, nothing could grow and everything was cold and frozen.
Albert walked away satisfied with his work. The man looked at the branch of a staff before picking it up, he hummed in amusement, it felt like a normal branch. With a shrug he threw it away not caring where it landed. Feeling happier than he had since his son's demise he went home, knowing that he didn't have to worry about some winter spirit.
Unknown to Albert, Jack was still aware of his surroundings the freezing water having no effect on him as it had the last time. Pulling at the rope Jack began to free himself, it wasn't until he saw the extra ice on his clothes and skin that his presence in the lake was making it freeze from the inside out. Confronted by this new information Jack began working faster at freeing himself from the tree.
Looking up to the surface Jack sees just how far down he is, the bottom now visible the tree landing disrupting the lake bed. Glancing once more to the lake's surface he glared at the rope holding his leg. It wasn't bad enough that he was causing the lake to freeze from where he floated but that he was also struggling to hold his breath. Doubt of making it to the surface began to creep into Jack's mind he ignored them in favour of pulling at the rope trying to untie it.
Meanwhile Albert had made it home safely the warm glow from the windows a comforting sign as he entered the wooden building. He was shocked, however, as he saw his wife silently crying on the sofa, guessing from her silently weeping Annabeth was asleep.
Claire looked up from the fireplace to see her husband in the doorway, the cold air eager to get inside. She shivered slightly before her mind made the connection she had been dreading. Her expression darkened considerably as she rose from the sofa, Albert having closed the door was unaware of his wife coming towards him. He turned in time to see her scowling at him no more than a few feet away.
"Where's Jack?" She asked, sharp and quick to the point. Albert surprised by his wife's seriousness hesitantly replied.
"Somewhere, where he can not hurt our family again." Claire's expression turns from annoyed to scared before quickly becoming anger her hands fisting at her sides.
"What did you do?" Her tone clipped as she struggles not to yell for Annabeth's sake.
"What I had to." Albert replied quickly, "He was trying to harm Annabeth…" he gestures to the direction of their daughter.
"That's not true…. Jack is her friend."
"Jack…" Albert's tone on his name showing his distaste for the winter spirit, "Is a winter demon… he's nothing but trouble." Albert says hoping his wife will listen to reason.
"He is not a demon…." Her voice indicating that there's no reasoning with her on the matter. Albert ignores it and begins listing Jack's abnormalities, such as his ability to create snow and frost, his cold temperature and some of the other abilities he has witnessed the teen perform.
Annabeth lay in bed the sound of yelling having disturbed her sleep, stretching she sat up in order to hear better, much to her surprise she heard her parent's yelling. Jumping out of bed she quietly makes her way towards the living room, the source of the shouting.
Peeking through the half open door Annabeth see's her parents standing before each other both clearly angry, their faces flushed red and their fists clenched. Sure she had heard her parents argue before after all everyone argues but she had never seen them this upset before. Judging by what they were currently saying Annabeth learned that their argument was about Jack. Which she quickly noticed was not there.
"You did what?!" Claire yelled all her anger suddenly gone as she was struck with horror the wound in her heart that had finally healed now torn open, the pain more unbearable than the first time. Tears filled her eyes but they don't fall, instead her pain and sorrow turn to pain and anger, her heartbroken filled teary eyes now show anger and loathing.
"I got rid of him." Albert spoke normally his voice thankful for the sudden stress relief from yelling.
Claire couldn't handle it anymore, "HE WAS YOURSON!" she yelled, the pain in her voice still evident despite the anger. Albert was at a loss for words, surely Claire was joking, the winter teen had looked nothing like Jack. After all their son had brown hair not white, and warm brown eyes not cold blue, his skin though pale was full of life, the rosy and cream hue it had evidence of that. The winter teen however was pale, snow cold pale. Albert began to think of things to say that would hopefully change Claire's mind but he had noticed the pain of her voice and he could still see it in her eyes. She surely believed that this winter teen had been their son, sure they wore the same clothes and were the same height… and sounded a like but that didn't make it so.
Shaking his head Albert tired to make sense of what was happening, the more he began thinking about it the more his wife's comment made sense. But it couldn't be true after all he would never hurt his son and that teen had definitely not been him…right? No, he was positive, but it would explain how both Annabeth and Claire were able to get along with him. It would also explain as to why he had helped them out of the woods when they were close to freezing to death when they first met. But surely he would have known if it was his son.
It didn't make any sense, if this winter teen was his son wouldn't his wife have tried to tell him or Annabeth for that matter. His mind suddenly thought back to Annabeth's plea's for the two of them to spend time together and get along.
Albert paled. It all made sense. This winter teen, the boy Annabeth took to calling Jack, was Jack, their Jack… his son. His heart began to race as he realised just what he had done.
Neither had noticed as Annabeth had slipped away from the doorway and had went back to her room, rummaging through her clothes she pulled out her warmest ones before quickly dressing. If she wanted to save her brother she was going to have to act fast. Moving over to the window she pushed it open the cold winter breeze killing the small fire before she climbed out and began heading into the forest.
She was unaware of another breeze that caused her bedroom door to slam shut startling her parents. Claire and Albert investigated the noise and were shocked to find their daughter missing. Albert searched the room while Claire walked over to the window to close it only to stop when she saw the footprints in the snow outside. Following them with her eyes she gasped in horror upon seeing them enter the forest.
"Albert!" She called panicked. Albert turned to see his wife staring in horror out the window. He moved closer and cursed under his breath before quickly exiting the room Claire following close behind him after shutting the window. Albert looked for his spare weapons should they need them while Claire dressed herself for the cold winter night temperatures.
Exiting the house when ready they went to the part forest edge where Annabeth's footprints were located following them, they looked for their daughter. Albert having a good idea only glanced at the footprint to continuously confirm his choice of directions.
Annabeth arrived at the lake completely out of breath, leaning with one hand against a tree she tried to recover. Once she deemed herself able to continue she pushed away from the tree and carefully made her way out onto the ice. She didn't get far when she slipped on something near the edge of the frozen surface. Falling back into the snow Annabeth looked over her fallen form to see Jack's staff at her feet.
Standing up with the staff in hand she moved to the part of the ice that seemed bare of broken arrows. Guessing from the coat of fresh ice and the large mass of arrows embedded in the ice she guessed that Jack had once been near the current position. Kneeling on the surface Annabeth ignored the memories of similar event from not long ago. Brushing away the snow Annabeth looked into the dark depths of the lake hoping that she might be able to see her brother's white hair underneath.
Under the ice Jack had tried adjusting his temperature or at least stop himself from subconsciously freezing the water around him, as it was beginning to hinder him from freeing his leg of the rope. Slowly Jack had managed to control his abilities enough to stop the water from freezing, this however now came at a price, for he starting to feel the cold temperature of the lake's water. The pressure of being at the bottom of the lake was also taking its toll and Jack prayed that he would finally get the rope off so that he could surface for some much needed oxygen.
After a few more pulls at the rope with no ice to stop it from sticking together the rope came free untangling itself from Jack's leg in the process. Moving to swim towards the surface it was only then that Jack noticed that his powers were beginning to build up within him. It caused great discomfort and pain as he tried to focus on the task before him. Now at the surface Jack pushed against the ice, slightly shocked to learn that it wouldn't budge.
Spotting a place where the snow had been brushed away he looked through to see the blurry figure of Annabeth. The twelve year old gasped at seeing her brother before she began hacking away at the ice with one of the arrows in a desperate attempt to free him.
Jack decided to help her, his lungs begging more frantically for air now that he was so close. Though much to the horror of both of them the ice hand only gotten thicker the more Jack tried to break it. Wondering he placed his hand on the ice only to see small frost pattern stem from his hand. It seemed that while he was not freezing the water around him by mere touch anymore, touching the ice would cause his hand to adapt to the freezing temperature. His now restless powers seeping through causing the ice and water to freeze at any chance they got.
Deciding that it would be best to wait for Annabeth to break the ice he tried to push himself away from the icy surface of the lake. Only to learn that his body wasn't listening for it seemed to prefer floating to sinking, making Jack panic every time his hand came in contact with the ice above him.
It took him a second to realise that the build of his powers was messing with his body functions as heart was beating painfully in his chest. He could have sworn at that point his blood was frozen, it seemed logical as it would be the reason for him floating without effort at the top of the lake as it took more effort to keep away from the ice than to be near it.
Claire and Albert arrived at the lake edge moments later both quick to spot their daughter who was still hammering away at the ice with an arrow. Albert felt sense of
déjà vu upon seeing his daughter out in the middle of the lake.
Annabeth remained unaware of her parents presence as she continued to try and free Jack, she watched him struggle to keep from touching the ice which would freeze more at his contact. Hitting the ice with every ounce of force she had Annabeth was able to wear a small ditch into the surface, crack began appearing as she continued but she ignored them in favour of helping her brother. Slowly the ice began to weaken to a dangerous point Annabeth reluctant to give up until it cracked from either the pressure of from when she broke through.
"Annabeth you have to stop!" Albert called stepping to the ice while holding his wife's arm. Claire looked at him curiously, "If she breaks the ice she'll fall in." Albert quickly clarified. Claire paled.
"Annabeth stop!" She called hoping to get her daughter's attention as the ice strained as the two adults tried to get closer. The groans of the ice becoming louder the closer the parents got, both still trying to get their daughter to listen, but Annabeth was too focused on freeing Jack that she didn't hear them.
"Almost there." She muttered to herself as she watched Jack struggle to remain holding his breath.
Jack waited below the surface for the inevitable, he knew that if Annabeth cracked the ice she'd be at risk of falling in, especially now that their parents had pushed parts of the icy surface to its limit with their combined weight. The cracks clearly evident around from under the surface, yet hidden by snow above.
With one final strike Annabeth pierced the lake's frozen top the arrow head striking one of the major cracks running across the thin ice. Annabeth let out a scream before she vanished into the freezing water. Albert and Claire called after her both panicking for their daughter's safety as they waited for her to resurface, each inching closer at a slow pace as to not break the ice further. Their fear of what happened rapidly increasing as time began to pass with Annabeth yet to resurface.
I normally don't put AN's down here but I need to know :D what do you think should happen to Albert? Please comment as it means I can finish the next chapter off and get it updated sooner thank you :D
Incase you're wondering about Jack's powers in this last part:
- Also just to clear things up near the end here with Jack's powers, when he stops using them as he doing so that he doesn't freeze the lake (which will trap him inside), it causes his powers to build up from within himself (as his powers are within himself and not the staff). This is very uncomfortable for Jack as it means he can be cold in cold temperatures such as the freezing cold water of the lake. Due to the access amount of build up in his powers Jack experiences the consequences of his blood starting to freeze (as he's only just leaned how to control his temperature on the outside only not both outside and inside) this makes him float more easily. Which is bad for when he touches ice his hand automatically becomes its normal frozen cold self and his powers relive the pressure, this way which would normally make Jack last longer in control his temperature. Except he's in time limit for as to how long he can hold his breath.
- So Jack is unable to touch the ice without making it worse and he cannot let his powers be freed for it would freeze the whole lake with him in it. Another side effect of his partially frozen blood adds to more discomfort as his heart cannot function properly.
- Everyone including Jack is unaware that he's not in any real danger from drowning as he had already done so once which have left his lungs damaged from the first time. So I'm saying he cannot die of drowning instead it would only cause major discomfort to him as the water would freeze in his lungs which would stop him from breathing. (I personally don't think Jack needs to breath and it's just a habit from being human, as like I said he died while drowning so death by suffocating and drowning wont apply to him.) ANY QUESTIONS PLEASE ASK :D Thank you :)