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Fear and Courage

By ThatDarnLakeSiren

Fantasy / Mystery

Sweetest of Nightmares

A young boy, about four or five years old, is running through the woods. He has leather pants, no shoes, a soft woolen long sleeved shirt, messy brown hair and bright blue eyes. Its dark, the moon gone, and only starlight for him to see by as he runs through bushes and crashes into trees. He stumbles across a pond, pauses, and runs around its edge.

He's afraid, almost deathly so. Of the dark woods, of bears, and most of all, being all alone. Glancing over his shoulder, he crashes straight into a dark-robed, black haired, grey skinned man. The mans silver eyes glare into the sky blue ones. The boys fear is refreshing, gives him a feeling of power, and best of all, he can be seen.

But then, the boys fear vanishes, nearly the moment his eyes find the Boogiemans'. The Fear, the power Pitch felt goes away; but then a different power, a different strength, seems to fill him, even stronger than the power of Fear. He glares down at the boy.

"Hello, mister! Who are you? Can you help me?" the little boy asks, tilting his head cutely.

Pitch glowers at him. "Do you know who I am, boy?"

The little boy shakes his head. "Nope! My names Benny!" he replies cheerily.

Pitch narrows his eyes. "I am Pitch Black, otherwise known as the Boogieman." he waits for the surge of fear from the boy, but nothing happens.

"I don't believe you! The Boogieman is all mean and scary! You're nice." Benny exclaimed, reaching up for one of the mans hands.

"I am the Boogieman, you little twerp!?" Pitch shouted, jerking his hands back. This little boy was grating on his nerves. And if he doesn't believe in me, how can he see me?! Pitch thought to himself.

Benny drew back a little, a hurt expression on his face. "I didn't mean to make you mad, Mr. Black. I-I just thought that the Boogieman would look like a bear or something . . . my mommy told me that the Boogieman can read your mind, and will look like whatever it is you fear most. My mommy doesn't lie . . ." Benny admitted, looking up at Pitch.

Pitch rubbed his chin. "Well, I can't turn into your worst fears . . . " he leaned down into the boys face, "I am your worst fears." Benny didn't flinch away, only looked into the mans eyes. He wasn't scared of Pitch in the least.

"You can't scare me. I'm not afraid of you." he said bravely, puffing out his chest.

Pitch stood up straight again, scowling down at him. "I know what you are afraid of, though." he retorted. "Should I tell you, or would you prefer to admit it?" he added for affect.

Benny shrugged. "I'm not afraid of anything. Of the dark, monsters, bad guys, bears, wolves; and I'm not afraid of you, either, Mr. Pitch Black man." Benny exclaimed, pointing up towards the mans face.

That statement, that MiM blasted true statement, struck Pitch hard, right to his core. He thrived on Fear; no one believed in him without being afraid of him.

"I believe that you're nice, though." Benny added, hugging around the mans knees, the highest he could reach. Another surge of that unfamiliar power coursed through Pitch again; and stayed.

Pitch finally realized what it was; Belief without Fear. He'd felt similar in an area nearby, and had decided to search for it when it approached his lair, but he never thought that it would be a small child. Which left him to wonder why young Benny was even out here all alone.

"Can we be friends?" Benny asked, interrupting his thoughts. A large bit of fear ran through the boy. That was his worst fear; having no one to have fun with, no companion to look after him, play with him, and keep him safe.

This young boy, with no Fear of Pitch, yet Belief in him, was asking for him to quell his fear. Pitch smiled genuinely; he was touched; his heart, which he thought had long, long since stopped caring about anything but his own selfish wishes, reached out for the little boy. "Yes, Benny, we can be friends."

The boys fear disappeared as he smiled. "Thank you!" he tightened his hug, and Pitch reached down to scoop the boy into his arms to hug him properly. Benny laughed, kicking his legs.

"Lets go have some fun!" he exclaimed, flapping his arms as if he were a bird.

Pitch found himself rather amused by this little boy. "I'm afraid not, Benny. Its late, you really need to get home. We can play some other night though, okay?" he replied, though he felt a twinge of regret.

Benny pouted. "Awww! No fair, we just became friends." he whined, gripping the spirits robes.

"You need to rest to grow big and strong though, Benny. One day, you'll be as tall as me!" Pitch tried to cheer him up, even though he felt a twinge of sadness at this thought. By that age, he won't beleive in me anymore, the Boogieman thought.

Another bout of Fear, then sadness coiled around Benny's heart; and stayed. His worst Fears, almost come true, had come true before he met Pitch. "I can't." he replied quietly, tears welling in his eyes. "My house burnt down . . . my mommy and daddy told me to run away. Mommy was trapped beneath some of the roof, and daddy tried to save her, but more of the roof fell down on them. It was on fire, so I ran away so it wouldn't get me."

Pitch held the now-sobbing child to his chest, rubbing his back. He felt truly sorry for this little boy now, then a twinge of anger. Where were the Guardians now, when this little boy needed their help?

"It's alright, Ben, I won't let anything get you. I'll . . . I'll help you find a new family!" he couldn't care for the little kid, not with trying to hide from the Guardians and MiM. That's why he was out during the new moon; the one day out of the month that MiM could not clearly see all the happenings of Earth. Benny looked up at him with large, hopeful blue eyes.

"Really?" he pressed.

Pitch held him tighter. "Really. I promise, Benny." Benny, exhausted long before from the nights events, curled into the Boogieman some, falling asleep. Pitch sat down beneath a tree in the snow, looking up at the stars he could see.

I promise to guard you, little one, he thought to himself as he cradled the homeless child, I promise that I'll guard you when no one else can. . . I'll be your Guardian. The Boogiemans words were true, without a hint of hesitation. "I promise to be your Guardian . . ." he murmured to the night air, sealing Fate in a way that, in the end, he nor anyone else would be able to imagine.

Before too long, Pitch stood, and, with aid of the shadows, traveled for miles, ducking in and out near human dwellings, trying to determine where he could put the small child. He stopped near a smoldering house, that was no more than ashes and a charred, wooden skeleton. Walking a little closer, Pitch realized that two half-burnt, long-dead figures lay in the middle of it all.

He held Benny closer to his chest, hiding him from the sight should he wake. This must be where he used to live . . . and from the looks of it, the fire went on for some time, he thought, looking around at a few burnt-down trees that surrounded the house. Daylight is approaching . . . I'll bring him back to my home for now, then, I guess.

The sky was just getting rosy when Pitch showed up just outside the entrance. Looking around, he spied something not to far away. A house, a human dwelling, that appeared to be occupied, if the smoke coming through the chimney was any indication. It was close to his lair, yet seemed to be some distance from the nearby human settlement of Burgess.

"Perfect! But how to get Benny over there . . ?" he thought aloud, carefully stalking closer. Fresh snow lay everywhere, and more was coming down. If he laid Benny outside the entrance, it could look like he walked there himself. Ducking into the shadows and appearing by the mostly snow-free doorstep, he gently set Benny down. Gently getting the childs hands to release his robes, he smiled down at him fondly.

Giving the child a final pat on the shoulder, he ducked into the shadows, appearing on the other side of the pond. It was about a half hour later that the door finally opened and a brown haired, brown eyed ten year old girl began to step through. Benny had long since started to shiver, curling into a small ball to try and stay warm. The girl nearly tripped over him, lurching back inside the door before falling over, having lost her balance.

She looked at the doorstep and gasped, standing and beginning to shake the boys shoulders. Benny roused quickly enough, looking up to meet the girls eyes. He began to cry, he was cold and hungry and a little scared now. Pitch didn't enjoy the fear he was picking up from Benny; it made him feel a bit nauseated, in fact. The girl scooped Benny up and brought him inside, shutting the door quickly.

Pitch crept closer, listening in for awhile to make well and sure that they would take care of him. He soon discovered that they had lost a family member a few days before. For once, Pitch hoped that this family could heal from what they'd been through. Not just Benny, but young Emma and their mother, as well.

For the next few years, Pitch would help Benny sneak out on the night of the new moon, and then they would play and laugh and have fun. Pitch showed the child wonders, sparked hope and wishful dreams into him, creating memories that would last forever as they had their fun. And then, it all fell down.

The next night of the new moon, Benny, now age nine, did not tap on the window like he normally did, ready to go have some more fun. Pitch waited an hour or so before approaching the house warily, deep in the shadows. Benny told him everything that had happened over the moon cycle whenever they had their starlit fun, from events to weather.

He never said that the family was going anywhere for some event; at least, not what he could remember. Hiding in the shadows in the house, Pitch listened and looked. The mother, Mrs. Overland, was sobbing, while the girl, now age fourteen, stared sullenly, numbly into the fire, holding a small, stuffed animal to her chest, dried tear tracks on her cheeks. In her arms was was Patch, a small, real raccoon, stuffed toy that belonged to Benny.

The young boy had found the dead, baby raccoon and brought it home. He had been very upset to learn that it was dead and that he hadn't been able to save it. His sister had skinned it and made it into a little toy for him, and Pitch always found it amusing how the child had chosen its name. Now was definitely not a time of joy and laughter, however. Something was very, very wrong.

Pitch searched through the whole house, coming up with nothing. Benny wasn't sick in bed, and he never had any motivation to run away, nor did anyone have the motivation to kidnap him.

Unless a certain spirit had spotted him playing with the youngster, despite his precautions. Pitch didn't want to jump to such conclusions and reveal himself outright, but he had to know what really happened. So he stayed. The family soon went to bed, the sister cuddling the raccoon as she went to bed, and the mother soon after. Pitch stayed with the sister.

He watched her until the sun began to rise before he left. He could only assume that Benny had died; whether through sickness, or an accident, but either way, it left a terrible, bleeding wound to the mans heart.

He had nothing and no one now.

What he did not see was, after the mother and daughter had awoken and left for town, was the small, 9-year-old boy with dark, pastel grey hair that had a few jagged, bright yellow streaks in it, small, light blue freckles under his eyes, and blue eyes like the sky. The youngster snuck into the house, picked up the raccoon toy, and disappeared, leaving behind only a small slip of parchment paper as a note, nailed to the inside of the door.

He wore leather pants, a white, woolen shirt, and a small, soft cloak made of grey and brown rabbit skins. He looked around for a while in the spots he and his best friend had played in and visited, but couldn't find a trace of them. Saddened, the young one left, turning into a small, dark grey wolf with electric yellow eyes, blue tipped ears and white wings, flying away.

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