Chapter 2: Broken
Morning came swiftly the warm rays of light peeking through the fluffy white clouds that littered the sky. The small village was already awake people hurried on with their daily lives chatting happily to friendly faces. Children played in the streets tossing snow an occasional startled cry coming from a parent due to stray snow balls, but everything was otherwise normal, happy and chaotic.
One family had yet to join the crowed streets; the couple sitting at the breakfast table staring off into space, a cold silence filled the air. Neither spoke as soft footsteps moved across the wooden floor causing small creaks to break the silence. The cause being a light weight little girl who was dressed in warm clothes, she looked at her parents waiting for them to acknowledge her presence in the doorway, they didn't.
With a soft sigh she walked to the front door opening it to reveal a startled woman who was about to knock on the door stood before her, behind the tall woman stood several more women their children clutching to their mothers skirts. A small ghosted the child's face as she opened the door wider.
"Hello Annabeth." The woman nodded in greeting as she walked in her friends following her. "Where are your parent's?" She asked her voice hinting at pity.
Annabeth didn't want this woman's pity, she just wanted her brother back but both of her parents had said that that would never happen. "In the kitchen." She pointed in the direction she had just come from. As the women turned to look to the kitchen they never noticed as the child slipped out through the closing door.
With a thankful sigh she dashed off into the forest not looking back as she raced towards the only place that mattered.
Another moan escaped him as the bright light of day greeted his sore eyes, with a startled yelp he sat up taking in the surroundings through blurred eyes and a thumping headache. Slowly the dizziness subsided as he scouted out the area again with better eyes.
Upon spotting the hooked branch memories of the night before came flooding back, standing up he looked to the tree that he collided with only to see a large thick patch of frost and ice.
"I must have been going at some speed." He laughed to himself swinging the branch onto his shoulder. Shaking his head he looked to the sky in thought, if he gotten off the ground by a couple of inches was there a possibility that he could go higher?
His thoughts were interrupted however as twigs began to snap indicating that someone, or something was nearby, Jack just hoped that is wasn't the wolves. Searching past the trees he watched as a small figure ran by the snow kicking up behind her as she ran. He could see her breath from here making the judgment that she was tired.
He looked behind her to see the same pack of wolves that had chased him the previous evening chase her suddenly a strong need to protect her came to mind and Jack rushed towards her without a second thought.
Jack ran as fast as he could the girl's small figure growing as he got closer, she didn't see him coming as she ran past as he was less than two feet away, she ran ahead showing remarkable speed for someone so young.
Jack fell behind but he quickly pushed himself to go faster, the gap between them closed, just when he feared that he would pass by her he pulled her into his arms before fleeing from the wolves close behind.
She screamed as her weight left the ground, she didn't have time to think about it as trees flew by as fast as the wind, her hands clung to whoever was holding her, as the world blurred by.
Unlike the person carrying her she paid attention to anything the sped into view, trees went by narrowly missing them and she cringed back her grip tightening with each narrow miss.
The narrow misses were about to become a full on crash as a large tree appeared, "Look out!" She cried pointing to the tree. Jack took his eyes off of the girl in his arms to see the tree fast approaching, learning from his last crash he swayed suddenly.
But that sway turned into to a fall as the pair came crashing down to the ground before continuing their journey down the small hill, before finally stopping on top of a well frozen lake.
Annabeth sat up as she felt the cold ice against her face, looking around she saw a white haired boy not to far from her, he shook, the small jolts barely supported by his arms, scared that he was hurt she rushed to his side rolling him over to learn that the boy was in fact laughing and not shivering from the cold as she had first suspected.
"W-What's so f-funny?" She stuttered shivering slightly, how cold this boy not be cold? She looked at him and was surprised to learn that he had no shoes on, her question came back with more force but she pushed it aside for now.
"Y-Your face!" He spoke between breaths, her face dropped slightly.
Huffing she replied, "Well you should see your face. I'm sure that's not blackberry juice on your forehead." She said pressing the spot lightly.
Jack's laughing was replaced by a hiss of pain in an instant as his head began to throb once again, pulling his hand to his head he applied a slight amount of pressure to the spot only to gasp in pain.
Moaning Jack moved his blue eyes from the floor to the brown one's that watched him curiously. "Who are you?" She suddenly asked.
Jack was slightly taken back by the question before he choked out him name, "Ja-Jack." He cleared his throat, "And you are?"
"Annabeth." She replied a troubled look on her face.
Jack noticed it, "What's wrong?" he asked.
"Your name reminds me of someone." She whispered. Standing she looked around to see that they were at the edge of a frozen lake, the same frozen lake that broke her family. Realization set in as she hurried away from Jack and to the centre of the frozen water.
Jack watched as Annabeth began digging up the small layer of snow covering the lake, her gloves hindering the process of digging further as they came in contact with the ice below.
Moving closer he watched worriedly as she threw off the mittens before scrapping at the newly thickened ice. Her breath coming out in short frantic pants as she beat at the ice, Jack's heart fell; there he stood watching as a girl tried desperately to break the ice.
"You're going to break the ice." Jack stated simply hoping to get the girl to understand that breaking the ice was a bad idea. She wasn't listening, sighing Jack spoke louder, "Whatever you're trying to do it won't work, besides the water's freezing, if you fall in you have a high possibility of drowning." She still wasn't listening.
Annabeth scrapped more and more ice away unaware of the danger she was putting herself in as she ignored Jack's warnings. The pressure of the worn ice straining from the water underneath as it continued to be dug away by the girls nails.
"Listen to me, breaking that ice is dangerous you'll fall in, and from there it's a long way down to the bottom." Jack didn't know how he knew that the lake was deep but he decided not to question it as the girls pace picked up, the faint glimpse of moving water could be seen under the worn away ice.
Just as Annabeth was about to break through her hands her pulled from the ice, her body turned to face Jack as he stood over her. "I have - I have to help him!" She cried tears spilling from her eyes.
"Who?" Jack asked hating how unsympathetic he sounded.
"My brother." Annabeth whispered. Jack froze he wasn't expecting that, slowly he got down to eye level with the twelve year old.
He sighed knowing that she had probably been told this many times since her brother's death but he had to help her see the light, he wasn't about to let her risk her life for a one that had ended so tragically. "Y-Your brothers-" Jack began only to be cut off.
"No-No! He's not!" She screamed her pain returning as she longed for his embrace, she wanted to be with him so badly. She wanted to feel the warmth his body gave, the soothing of his hands holding her safe, the way he made her feel warm just by being in the same room as her.
"Listen." He coaxed releasing Annabeth's hands to cup her to have her face him, "Just because he can't be with you physically doesn't mean that he can't be with you here." He pointed to Annabeth's heart; she smiled slightly as tears flowed from her eyes.
Jack couldn't take it anymore the pain of watching the girl suffer finally broke into his heart; slowly he pulled her into a hug. Annabeth wasn't expecting the hug to feel so familiar, the only thing that was missing was the warmth but Jack was as cold as ice.
They had sat there hugging on the ice until a pair of desperate voices filled the air calling out for Annabeth. Lifting her head away from Jack she looked about to see a heavy snow fall blocking most of her vision she hadn't realized how cold she was until her warm breath touched her hand, it stung like a thousands needles.
"I'm here!" She called out to the voices, but when they began to grow distant she panicked she didn't want to loose her parents in this storm. "I'm here!" She called again, the wind muffling her voice slightly. "Mom! Dad!" She yelled shakily getting to her feet, Jack stood with her. "Mom! Dad!" She called out again desperation leaking into her voice.
Worried she walked off in the direction she last heard her parents. Jack watched as she began to walk away his mind commanding him to follow her to make sure she made it safely to her parents. After a moment his legs complied and he began to follow her, as he came to the edge of the lake the hooked branch laid half buried in snow. Thinking it might come in useful Jack picked it up before hurrying after Annabeth.
The girl was making her way up the hill while shielding her eyes with her arm as the wind increased. "Mom! Dad!" She called again. This was all beginning to seem all too familiar for comfort, "Mom! Dad!" She shrieked her mind begging for them to hear her.
This was what happened the other day she had gotten lost in the light snowfall as everything began to look the same, she had called out for Jack to help her, she had no idea at the time that when she walked out onto the lake that it would cost her brother his life.
With the memory so close to bringing her to tears once again she called out, "Mom! Dad!" her cries echoing through the trees, Jack stood close by watching as Annabeth called out to her parents, he could tell that they wouldn't hear her the wind was too strong.
Mom! Dad!" Her voice broke as her small frame shook with every sob that racked her body. "Please, don't leave me-" She cried, she stumbled forward through the storm praying to bump into her parents and not a snow covered tree.
Jack watched from close by he would have gladly helped Annabeth call out to her parents but for some reason his throat would become dry every time he tried. It infuriated the teen, here he was watching the child pour her heart and fear into every cry for her parents and they couldn't hear her all because of that blasted wind.
Standing next to Annabeth he searched the area his eyes unknowingly seeing further than Annabeth could in the storm, he spotted something, two small dots in they would have been in hearing distance had it not been for the wind.
"Mom! Dad!" Annabeth's voice was straining above the wind but the couple never turned around, Annabeth couldn't see anything only a white curtain of wind and snow. Her throat burned with screaming and she felt sorry for Jack considering that he was standing next to her but then again with the strength of the wind he probably only heard her at half her volume. "Mom! Dad!" She yelled she voice falling to the wind. "Please." She begged above a whisper.
Jack snapped his anger directed to the only thing available the hooked branch, bring it up high as he could he slammed it down with all his anger behind it, the wood connected with snow and a wave of wind erupted from the contact point and suddenly there was no wind and the snow was falling lightly.
Annabeth stood shocked as she looked at Jack, Jack looking as equally surprised as his new friend. Shaking his head he mentioned with the branch to the direction of her parents. Annabeth understood and smiled, "Mom! Dad!" She yelled as loudly as she could, causing Jack to grimace. "Mom! Dad!" She called before running in that direction. Please let them hear me. She thought as she ran, she continued to call out her voice sounding broken in the windless air.
She was a mess that was for such, she hadn't checked to see if Jack was following her she hoped he was but at the moment she just hoped to be in the parent's arms listening to the complain about the danger of the forest and how worried they were.
"Mom! Dad!" She called her voice croaked out; a sudden fear of not being heard encased her as she sped up. She never saw the tree root until her foot tripped over it sending her hurtling to the ground with a startled cry.