Frost and Flame

Chapter 11- Merry Christmas

“These toys won’t deliver themselves!” Jack was happy to see that North had returned to his normal self. The nightmare attack at the Pole was nothing more than a bad memory. Everything was ready and the children, now fast asleep, had been returned home.

While North climbed into his sleigh, the yetis lowered the toys down behind him. There was no room for the other guardians this time but North still required their assistance in the deliverance. Bunny was already gathering the toys he would take through his tunnels. Sandy had a bag full of Christmas goodies ready to go. Before Jack picked up his own bag, he checked on Tooth a final time. She and the elves had been making progress on the fairies. Baby Tooth had opened her eyes for a few moments before falling unconscious again. Seeing one of them awake again gave Tooth hope but it made her even more frantic. She had made it clear to the others that she wasn’t joining them tonight. The other guardians were completely understanding, albeit were worried for her. She had been working nonstop for the last few days, distressed about the health of her fairies. Her feathers were almost always ruffled and her eyes looked tired.

Since Tooth herself was preoccupied, it had already been decided that the guardians would collect the teeth while they were delivering the toys. Tooth was exceptionally grateful that they had offered to help once again.

“Are you sure you’ll be ok here?” Jack asked her. Exhausted, Tooth nodded.

“Go. My fairies need me.” Jack was sympathetic towards her but didn’t challenge her decision to stay. Jack jumped up onto the wing of the sleigh. He gave her a short smile before the reindeer charged off, dragging the sleigh behind.

It was a race for the teeth all over again, only this time they were leaving more than just a quarter. Jack bounded into each house, placing gifts underneath the brightly decorated trees and taking the tooth from beneath the child’s pillow. It was fun for sure, but no matter what he did there was still something missing.

Jack figured a visit to an old friend would help keep his mind occupied. He darted his way through the air into the town of Burgess. He leapt in through the window of a house. He held his mini sack of presents over his shoulder in a Santa Claus mockery. He felt pretty ridiculous doing so but it made him laugh.

“Jack?” A smile formed when he heard the sound of his name come from a familiar voice. He spun around to face Jamie. He was looking taller each day. The young boy’s eyes were wide, his expression mirroring Jack’s. He ran forward and hugged the winter spirit.

“You here!” he exclaimed in a hushed voice. He didn’t want to wake his mum or sister. Jamie suddenly looked baffled.

“Why are you here?” he asked. Jack put his bag of toys down. Jamie stared at them, his confusion amplifying.

“Just helping out North” he said in a cheery voice. There was no way he would tell Jamie the real reason he was helping with the Christmas present delivery. It would be much too complicated to try and explain. Jamie didn’t even know who Jaz Flame was, let alone that she had been chosen as a guardian before turning evil. Jack didn’t want Jamie to worry about the guardians or Pitch being back. The last thing he wanted was for his first believer having to be dragged back into the war of the immortals. As a guardian, it was Jack’s responsibility to protect the children and bring fun to them. So that’s what he was doing.

He reached over to his bag and pulled out a box. He showed it to Jamie, who could hardly contain his excitement.

“This is yours” he said, going to hand it to him. He suddenly pulled back, to Jamie’s surprise and disappointment. “Although, you’re not supposed to be up Christmas Eve, are you? Santa doesn’t deliver toys to those on the naughty list.” Jamie suddenly understood what Jack was doing and smirked.

“Says the guy who holds the record” he retorted. “Besides, you’re not Santa. You don’t get to decide.” Jack laughed at his response, handing him the present.

“Fair enough” The two of them were interrupted as Sophie walked into the room, rubbing her eyes.

“Uh oh” Jamie muttered, his shoulders rose in embarrassment. This was exactly what they had been trying to avoid.

“Jamie?” she yawned, looking at her big brother. “What’s happrening?” Jack was amused by her attempt to say a big word with fatigue. She had always had a bit of trouble speaking but for a girl who only recently turned four, she was doing well. She caught sight of him, jumping up and down excitedly as if all drowsiness had vanished completely from her system.

“Jack! Jack! Jack!” she giggled. Smiling, Jack put his hand back in the sack, taking out a second, larger present. He held it out to her.

“Here you go, Soph. You’ve been a good girl.” She struggled to hold it, toppling over from its immense size. She hit the ground, by only laughed. Jack was glad to see she was ok. Jamie, on the other hand, wasn’t surprised. Ever since she could walk, she had been falling over. He was amazed she had such an injury tolerance.

“Now you’re not allowed to open them till tomorrow, deal?”

Jamie and Sophie smiled. “Deal”

As much as Jack wanted to stay with the Bennett’s, he knew he still had a lot of work to do before the night was up. He made his way to the window he had entered from.

“Jack” Jamie called out, making him turn back.

“What is it?”

Jamie looked uneasy as he fiddled awkwardly with the sleeves of his pyjamas. “I was just wondering,” he began. He finally looked Jack in the eye. “If you see Pippa tonight, could you ask her if she’s still upset with me?” Jack was confused by Jamie’s request.

“I thought she was your friend—”

“Oh she is” Jamie clarified, cutting Jack off. “She’s just mad at me since I kind of accidentally ignored her a few days ago when we were waiting for you to come.” Jack remembered how he had failed to keep his promise by not showing up.

“Sure” he assured him. “And listen, I’m sorry for not turning up that day.” Jamie shrugged his apology off.

“Hey, you’re a guardian now. I’m not the only kid you have to look out for.” Jack was pleased to hear that his friend understood. Saying his final goodbyes to the two of them, he left their house and flew to the next.

Jack wasn’t sure if he was even meant to ‘play Santa’ at Pippa’s house. He slowly crept in through the window of her house, checking to see if any of the others had already been there. He frowned when he saw a pile of presents already under the tree. He shook the idea of leaving from his head. Gifts or no gifts, he still had one more task to complete here. He made his way up the stairwell. Pippa’s bedroom, he knew, was at the end of the left corridor upstairs. He entered her room, looking at her sleeping soundly. He gently stirred her awake.

Her eyes opened in a flash, screaming when she saw him. Knowing the noise of her cry would wake her parents, Jack covered her mouth with his hand. An icy sensation flowed through her head, numbing her face. Shivering, she pushed her hand away.

“Jack! What are you doing here?” She rubbed her cheek and lips, trying to return feeling to them. Guilt of waking her up clouded his mind.

“Sorry” he apologized. “Jamie wanted me to talk to you.” At the mention of his name, Pippa turned away, crossing her arms.

“I’m not listening to anything he has to say” she said stubbornly. Jack exhaled deeply, knowing now it would be a long night for him. He sat down on the bed beside her.

“He’s sorry for ignoring you” Jack passed on Jamie’s message. Pippa glared at him.

“Why are you relaying messages for him? Don’t you have better things to do, like protecting the world?” Jack was taken aback by her quick come back. He took a moment to think about his reply. Pippa was an intelligent but sensitive girl.

“You’re both my friends” he answered her. “I don’t like seeing you two fighting like this, especially if it’s somehow related to me.” She couldn’t argue with him. She sighed quietly.

“I’ll talk to him,” she murmured. Jack couldn’t have been more relieved by her choice.

“Thank you.” He watched as she climbed back into bed, falling asleep almost as soon her head hit the pillow. With a brisk nod of satisfaction of what he had achieved, he opened her window and soared out into the night.

It wasn’t long before he had joined the others back at the Pole.

Jack had been careful to keep a lookout for Pitch, Jaz or the nightmares all night. Much to his surprise, they never came.

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