While neither liked to admit it, both Jack Frost and E. Aster Bunnymund were perfectionists. This meant that every egg had to be evenly colored and perfectly placed, while each snowstorm had to be started at exactly the right time so the kids would get at least some school off. They knew this about each other, and grudgingly admired the thought that went into each other’s work. So when one of Jack’s pranks went wrong, both were surprised.
To be fair, Jack reasoned, it wasn’t entirely his fault. He thought Pookas were supposed to be... fast. Maybe he had misjudged the reaction speed, but come on. Bunny must have done something different to mess up this wonderfully elaborate prank. He had been hiding in a small corner of the Warren, waiting to see the bunny tear past him with one of the stone guards rolling behind him. Instead he heard a loud curse, and then silence.
“Bunny?” Jack had finally called out after waiting for a good five minutes. He floated over and winced at the sight. The large rabbit was on his stomach, his fists clenched, and one leg pinned beneath the large, overturned stone.
“Jack? Did you have something to do with this?” Bunny looked up, his fists clenching and unclenching with pain.
“Well... yes. Maybe.”
“Well don’t just stand there, ya gumby, push it off!”
It took a lot of effort for the smaller-sized Jack to push the stone off of Bunny, but after awhile he had it lifted just enough for Bunny to gingerly move his leg out from under the Egg Guard. Jack winced when he saw it, it was bent at an odd angle and blood stained the normally clean fur. Bunny saw his look and sighed.
“See, that’s what you get.” he muttered. “Now help me get back to the hut, I’ll wrap it up and it’ll be fine.” Jack quickly flew to Bunny’s side and helped him limp back to the small hut where Bunny lived.
Bunny's hut was just as Jack would expect from an earth spirit: wooden beams supported the walls and ceiling, and grass poked in at all sides. What few windows there were along the front were filled with flowers that were a little too delicate to simply plant in the Warren. Jack could smell dirt and the different scents of herbs as he walked the limping Bunny over to a large wooden chair.
Jack watched anxiously as Bunny wrapped it up and cringed whenever he saw the Pooka’s ears flinch in discomfort.
“Um, sorry about that.” Jack started, and Bunny rolled his eyes.
“Yeah yeah. Think your bloody pranks through next time, we clear?” Jack nodded and gripped his staff nervously.
“Is there anything I can do to help?” he asked as the rabbit stood and gingerly put his weight on the firmly wrapped foot.
“You’re not going to leave until I give you something to do, are you?” Bunny said as he limped over to his bed. Jack shook his head, firmly setting his staff down.
“It’s the least I can do.” Bunny sighed as he sat down. He looked around the room, looking for something, anything, that would get Jack out of his fur.
“Fine. Go round up some eggs and get the paint. If I’m gonna be stuck in here for awhile I might as well not be bored.” Jack did a mock salute and dashed off to find the eggs.
Bunny got a half hour to himself, during which he steamed over the prank. That stupid Jack, never thinking ahead or of any consequences. At least it's no where near Easter. He thought. Jack returned at last with a basket full of eggs and some paint.
"Took you long enough." Bunny said, reaching into the basket and pulling out an egg.
"I knew the eggs walked, but you never told me they could run." Bunny chuckled and started to paint.
Jack managed maybe five minutes before he started to fidget.
"What'dya want now, Frostbite?"
"No one's keeping you." Bunny said, and immidiately Jack shook his head.
"I promised to help you out today, and it's my fault you're hurt."
"You're being more of a pain in my ears than being any help to me."
Jack scowled. "Gimme one of those." He swiped an egg and a paintbrush and started to paint.
"Jack, stop it, you'll do it wrong."
"Will not, watch!" It took a lot of effort to keep Bunny from yanking the poor unfortunate egg from Jack's eager hands, but soon Jack held up the egg with a triumphant grin.
The egg looked like a drawing that might've graced a kindergarten classroom wall: a messy pink flower complete with a sun with sunglasses on top. Bunny's ears flattened against his head in an effort to keep from laughing, but soon his shaking overtook him as he started to roar with laughter.
"It's not that bad!" Jack protested as Bunny held his sides with laughter. "It's just as good as the kind the kids paint!" Bunny just shook his head as he silently chuckled, and Jack scowled at him. "You've had years of practice. I bet you had the exact same result when you first started, with your big paws and all."
Bunny shook his head. "Nah mate, it's just..." he smiled, wiping tears from his eyes. "Not the best egg in the basket." Jack stuck out his tongue.
"You know I've never touched a paintbrush before."
"Anyone could tell with that paint job." Jack ignored the comment and picked up another egg, turning and covering it with the delicate patterns of frost.
"Oi, stop that! You'll make them uncomfort-" Bunny flicked his paintbrush at Jack and a drop of paint flew off and onto the egg. The bright purple paint kept down the trails of frost, leaving a pattern that even Bunny wouldn't have been able to trace. The two guardians stared at the egg in between them. "Hold still." Bunny said, dipping his paintbrush and covering the rest of the egg with small droplets of paint so the entire egg was covered in spider-like lines.
"Not the best egg in the basket, huh?" Jack teased with a smirk, and Bunny rolled his eyes.
They spent the rest of the day decorating eggs and swapping stories. Bunny talked about the first few Easters and how (though he hated to admit it and it took a while for Jack to get him to tell) his eggs were a lot worse than they were at the present. Jack talked of snowball fights and freak storms, and messing up Cupid's aim with a well-aimed snowball to the head. Soon the sky grew dark, and the egg basket finally ran empty.
Jack stood up slowly, making every excuse not to leave the room. "Well, I better get going, then." he said slowly, twirling the staff in his hands. "That is, if you don't need any more help."
"You don't have to go, that is, if you don't want to." Bunny answered, a little faster than he would have liked. "Besides, wouldn't it be hard to find your lake in the dark?" The two of them both knew this to be false, Jack trusted the wind to take him wherever he needed to go, but he nodded.
"Got any spare blankets?"
Soon Jack was in a large blanket on the floor, the two of them still talking. Neither of them wanted to turn out the light, but soon Bunny's ears were drooping and Jack's eyes were barely staying open, so Bunny blew out the candle. Silence filled the room.
"Good night, Kangaroo."
Running. Running in the dark. His sensitive ears could hear murmurs in the distance, but a sense of panic soon filled him as the murmurs turned to shouts and screams. His vision was blurred, he couldn't see a way forward but his paws drove him through the darkness that wouldn't seem to go away.
The screaming is louder now. Worse, he recognizes it. His kind, dying. "Just get to them, just get to them." he found himself saying under his breath. "Just get to them just-" a new, higher-pitched call has joined them. The small girl, Sophie, looking at him scared. He jumps to get her out of the way of whatever it is that is chasing them, when she disappears in a burst of smoke.
A hauntingly familiar laughter fills the air. "Can't save your species, can't save your believers, even Jack would betray you for something better." says a voice from the shadows. "Come on then, rabbit. Show me how fast you can run!"
Bunny jolted up, banging his injured foot in the process, and cursed. His ears swiveled atop his head, his chest heaving as if he actually had been running through the mysterious dark tunnels. He drew a paw across his face in an effort to calm himself, but it still took a good minute to realize Jack was in the room. He turned suddenly and saw the two blue eyes staring at him from just above the bed.
"Did I... did I wake ya?" Bunny asked trying to get his damn breathing under control. Of course. Of bloody course you have that damn dream TONIGHT. Jack, meanwhile, hadn't answered, just looked up at the rabbit.
"You have nightmares too?"
The question surprised Bunny. Of course I have nightmares, you ice cube. Was the first thought that came to mind, but Bunny pushed it aside. He's probably had nightmares for the first time since he got his memories back. Bunny remembered.
"Yeah, I uh, just haven't had that one in a long time." Damnit, why'd you say that?! Jack blinked in surprise, and Bunny flopped back down on his bed. "Just, go back to sleep, wouldja?"
Bunny's heart was still racing, but he had gotten his breathing back down to a normal rate as he tried to push the dream away. It had been the same nightmare he always had, but for some reason Jack was in it this time. He let out a sigh through his nose and squeezed his eyes tight in his concentration. He flinched, however, when he felt a light weight on the mattress next to him.
"Scooch over, fleabag." he heard Jack mutter as he claimed some space for himself on the bed.
"I've always been alone when I have nightmares." Jack interrupted, his blue eyes glaring at him from a messy case of bed hair. "Why should you have to be?"
The comment shocked Bunny long enough for Jack to firmly tuck himself under the covers and put an arm around Bunny. "This is what Jaime does when Sophie has a nightmare." Jack said, half to himself. Bunny wanted to protest; he had dealt with nightmares before and he did not need to start hug-therapy now. However he felt the hand slowly clench up some fur as Jack started to fall asleep. There's no use lying to yourself, Aster. Bunny thought to himself. You needed this. Jack's hug was cool, but the blankets around them made it tolerable for the both of them. Bunny slowly wrapped an arm around Jack's smaller frame and gave a small squeeze.