Chapter 8: Fear
Annabeth's mother had walked into her daughter's room to see her sleeping in her bed her hair slowly drying and the colour returning to her face. She was going to be fine.
Her husband was currently adding more wood to the fire, his skin no longer pale but flushed from the heat of being so close to the fire. They were both fine, the mother sighed as she walked into the room kissing her daughter on her forehead. Her husband looked up smiling.
His smile didn't last as he saw his partner's sad expression, "What's wrong?" He asked moving towards her. Silently she gestured to the door, he nodded understanding before leaving the room his wife right behind him.
"Please, don't ever do this again." She spoke once they arrived in the living room, the man was confused.
"Do what?" He asked looking at her while taking her hand in his.
"Don't leave me." She whispered. His expression changed to understanding.
"Claire, I'm not leaving you!" He spoke his voice pleading for her to understand.
"Not on purpose you won't," She pulled away moving to the fire place suddenly feeling cold. He followed slowly unsure of how to respond. "Albert." She spoke catching his attention, "I'm scared." She finally spoke.
Albert took a step forward his brown eyes softening, "Scared of what?" he asked.
"Of loosing someone else," The golden haired woman hugged her tiny frame as she stared at the fire, "When you came back with Annabeth unconscious-" She stopped a sob breaking through. Her husband was at her side and pulled her into his arms in seconds, one of his hands on her waist to hold her close the other stroking her hair.
"Shhh, it's okay. Annabeth's fine nothing's going to happen to her I swear." He spoke gently.
"But what about you?" She looked up to meet him her own hazel eyes, "You go out in the middle of winter battling the elements, and yet tonight you vanished! I didn't know what to think. I-I couldn't think- everything was a mess and I feared - I feared that I would never see you again." Albert held his wife tighter praying for her to hear his silent thoughts of how everything was fine and that there was nothing to worry about. "Please don't do anything foolish loosing our son was hard enough my heart can't bare the thought of loosing you or Annabeth."
He nodded, "I promise Claire, I promise." He didn't know exactly what he was promising to but it made his wife happy and that was good enough. She pulled away slowly but before she let go she pecked his cheek before headed towards the fireplace, she adjusted it so that it would burn out soon. She didn't notice her husband walk towards the window until he spoke, "Odd. How could he have vanished so quickly?" Claire looked up.
"What do you mean?" She asked walking over.
"A white haired teen, he was outside when we came home." He replied.
"Oh! Him!" Albert looked at his wife with a questioning stare. "He's in Jack's room; you know when he wakes up you need to thank him for saving you life!" She said walking towards the bedrooms. "And for shooting him! It looked like you were trying to kill the poor child!" She said disappearing down the hall.
Albert stood in shock, he had been trying to kill the teen, and now he learned that his wife was taking care of him! What was the world coming to? Shaking his head to stalked towards his son's room.
Pushing the door open gently what he saw shocked him, lying in the bed with the blankets pulled up to his neck was the winter demon. But his shock didn't come from that it was the fact that the warmth of the room had made the child's skin look rosy with warmth, the golden glow of the fire turning his platinum hair amber.
He smiled the devil was going to die for the heat, his wife was clearly clueless to the boy's true nature after all she was making him suffer far worse than what he had planned originally.
As he closed the door to go to bed something didn't feel right as he walked down the hall.
Annabeth had awoken around three in the morning her face covered in sweat from her recent nightmare; she hugged herself close the darkness seeming to come from all angles. She didn't know what to do for every time she had a nightmare her brother was right there to fend them off, in the morning she often woke with him asleep next to her, but now. There was no Jack to protect her.
Time passed slowly as room gradually became darker, "It's just a trick of the light." She told herself hugging her knees to her chest; she was scared so scared her eyes were starting to water. A second hadn't even passed before she was out of bed and making her way for the bedroom door.
She was halted in the hallway, normally she would go to Jack's room if he wasn't already in hers but with him not there the only safe place left was her parents. She looked down the hall that was suddenly longer and darker than she ever remembered it being. Knowing fine well that she wouldn't be able to walk down the hallway alone in her current state she searched frantically for another option.
A quiet sob escaped her as her fear increased at the thought of only having one option, but thankfully her eyes rested on the faint warm glow coming from her brother's room.
Faster than a blink of an eye she was at her brother's door, knocking she waited for a reply when one never came she pushed the door open no longer able to stand the darkness of the hallway.
Inside her brother's room she saw everything as it had always been, tidy, her eyes ignored all of her brother's belongings that littered the room. Instead they were drawn to the fire place where she noticed the charred remains of what she guessed was once fabric. Her attention moved from the fire to the figure in the bed, she smiled upon seeing Jack laying there, a tiny wave of sadness washed over her as she thought of how he slept just like her brother soft breathing and all.
Ignoring the similarities she walked over pausing as she stood before him, she wanted him to wake up and comfort her to protect her from the nightmares and darkness that seemed to be everywhere. But the fear of him ignoring her weighed heavily in her mind after all he wasn't her brother.
But she was too terrified to go back out into the hallway especially not when someone was so close to comfort her already, taking a steadying breath she reached out her small hand before shaking his shoulder.
At first he didn't stir, had she not been frightened she would have remembered her brother's stubbornness to wake up as well. The second time she shook him she did so with more strength earning a soft moan before he went back to sleeping. Frustrated Annabeth used both hands to shake the teen's shoulder; another sleepy moan emerged before slowly his eyes opened.
Annabeth smiled as sweetly as she could praying like mad that she hadn't upset him after all he did have power over winter and she didn't want it directed at her when he was angry.
Jack's eyes flittered open before his vision focused on a small female figure before him, just as his eyes were about to close again they snapped open once more at the thought of not being alone.
Standing before the immortal was Annabeth a sweet yet unsure smile on her face and he couldn't help but smile, to which her smile grew, was she expecting him to be angry or something. He then caught onto the distressed look in the eyes along with the shininess that only accompanied unshed tears.
He sat up immediately in worry ignoring as his back complained fortunately it wasn't as bad as before. "What's wrong?" He asked studying the child carefully.
"I-I had a bad dream." Annabeth replied quietly her averted eyes showing her embarrassment. Jack wondered what there was to be embarrassed about everyone had a nightmare once in their life right; it was only natural to seek comfort when they happen.
Knowing that the child wanted someone's protection he moved along the bed before patting the space he just freed. Annabeth smiled before climbing in, she pulled the covers up before settling down against the pillow all while smiling brightly at him despite the fear still in her eyes.
Jack also settled down having still been worn out from his near death experience, no sooner had he laid down, to fall back to sleep Annabeth cuddled against his chest her warmth slightly comforting against his slightly chilly form.
"Sleep well Annabeth." Jack spoke putting an arm around her, he wasn't sure why but it felt right as though he was scared to loose her.
"Goodnight Jack, may the Sandman deliver pleasant dreams." She smiled closing her eyes her fear melting away as she clung to her friend.
Jack smiled at the thought, the Sandman, he seemed familiar and yet he was sure he'd never heard of such an odd being. 'Bringer of good dreams, hmm?' Jack mused in his head. 'Well he wasn't doing a good job with Annabeth's dreams.' Unable to stay angry at the Sandman for long Jack found himself falling asleep.
Morning came quickly Claire was up, dressed and on with her daily routine come dawn, the smell of food helped wake her husband who had refused to leave the bed complaining that it was cold. Claire just laughed as she went to Annabeth's room to wake her daughter finally things were looking up, or so she thought until she learned that Annabeth wasn't in her bed. It was during her panicked state that Albert had chosen to look for his wife having not found her in the kitchen.
Thankfully before she could become overwhelmed in fear and panic she found her daughter asleep with the winter spirit much to the father's annoyance. "Aww, look at them." She cooed a large smile on her face. Albert merely shrugged before leaving his son's room; Claire scoffed slightly before following him out leaving the two to continue dreaming.
Annabeth awoke half warm and half cold upon opening her eyes to learn the reason behind this she found that she had been sleeping next to Jack, she smiled as the memory of why she was in her brother's room in the first place came back. She sat up quickly as a thought came to mind, she was treating Jack like he was her brother, in her head it didn't make sense but her heart was a different story.
With a sigh she looked out the window to the snow covered field that stared back at her, she had forgotten how much she looked forwards to winter, playing in the snow making snowballs, building snowmen only for her father to complain when Jack would take his favourite hat and put it on said snowman. Annabeth always admired the way Jack could make winter fun even though some people thought he was most annoying during the cold season.
In all her excitement Annabeth hadn't realised that she was bouncing on the bed which in turn startled Jack awake. The winter spirit was more than confused as his pleasant dreams vanished upon his rude awakening. His confusion turned to amusement as he saw Annabeth gazing on the window a small mischievous gleam in her eyes. Maybe today was going to be fun.
"Are you going to tell me what's got you in such a good mood?" Jack spoke causing Annabeth to look at him, her bouncing coming to a halt as she turned to look at him.
"It's winter." She replied.
Jack laughed, "It's been winter for a while now. If anything we're at least half way through it."
A silence filled the room as an unasked question filled the air; if Jack was a winter spirit what would happen to him once winter ended?
They didn't have much time to think as Annabeth's stomach rumbled, laughing the child left the bed, "We should get something to eat."
Before she could leave the room Jack replied, "Yeah especially if you want to beat me in a snowball fight." He laughed. It would appear as though Jack had their day planned, Annabeth didn't mind one bit, for all she said was 'Kay' before dashing out through the door in a cream coloured nightgown.
Jack laughed slightly as he watched her leave before picking up the staff that was thankfully by the bed, he still had to thank Annabeth's mother for helping him. With a soft sigh he left the bed, smiling as he left the room.