Jack is in an (unimportant and uninteresting) meeting with the other Guardians when he feels it. Like a flare going off his in his gut, it borders on something akin to pain before fading out into an eager, pulsing throb.
'Jack?' Toothiana looks at him curiously, head tilted to the side as she watches him with narrowed eyes. 'What's wrong? What is it?'
'Nothing,' he says after a moment, and Tooth frowns at his obviously staged answer. He offers her up a smile. 'Gut ache. Must have been a bad egg.' He tosses Bunnymund a sly look and the rabbit takes the bait, rolling his eyes and spouting off loud enough to draw the attention away from Jack. The other Guardians start to hush him, though Sandy gives Jack a wary, somewhat disbelieving look. Jack just grins and shrugs. Afterwards, when everyone has calmed down and North is speaking again, Jack lets his fingers rest on his stomach, hesitantly waiting for another bout of the strange feeling, but nothing happens.
He drops his chin into his hand and sighs.
Across the seas in a castle filled with ice, Elsa cradles her little sister's still body in her arms.
It is years later when Jack feels it again, almost two decades. He is lurking around Tooth's castle at the time, amusing the Little Teeth with wispy frozen patterns dancing from his fingertips. Toothiana herself stops by occasionally to watch and remark on a few of his prettier patterns before flitting off again, and he's in the middle of creating an exotic looking tree of sorts when heat flares in his gut and he drops to his knees with a gasp.
The Little Teeth flutter in a chirping, high-pitched chorus of panic, and Tooth lands by his side and places a hand on his back.
'Jack? Jack, what is it?' she asks worriedly, even as Jack clutches his hand to his stomach and gasps for air.
'So hot,' he chokes out. 'Damnit.' He focuses on breathing deeply, in and out and in and out, and he thinks back to the first time he felt this and waits for it to ease off into the gentle throbbing he vaguely remembers. It doesn't come, this time the pain lingers and Jack leans into Tooth's side, even as she sends Little Tooth to tell the other Guardians. The little fairy flutters worriedly around Jack's ear before darting off.
'It's okay,' says Toothiana soothingly, a hand rubbing at his back. 'Stay calm; everything will be alright.'
Jack forces a smile. 'Sometimes,' he says with labored breath, 'I wonder if you used to be a mother.'
Tooth's hand stills for a moment on his back, but she resumes her gentle rubbing after a moment. 'If I was, lucky for you,' she murmurs. 'Come on, let's get you lying down.'
It's a short while later that the pain subsides, and by that time the other Guardians are all standing at his bedside watching him with curious eyes. Bunnymund's face is inches from his own, and Jack stares at him with wide eyes.
'Please tell me you didn't kiss me.'
Bunnymund jerks back as if Jack has hit him, spluttering indignities and profanities enough to make Toothiana cringe. Jack grins as he pushes himself to his elbows, attempting to offer a reassuring smile.
'All this fuss over me,' he says with a teasing sigh, 'I do feel important.'
'This is no time for jokes, Jack,' says North in his rich, strong accent. 'What ails you?' He places a large hand on Jack's shoulder and gives it a squeeze.
'I don't know,' says Jack honestly, sitting up and swinging his legs over the side of the bed. He places a hand on his stomach again tentatively, but there's nothing; he feels normal. 'It came out of nowhere - like a bad stomach ache.'
Sandy frowns and throws up an array of images above his head and Bunnymund nods quickly. 'Sandman's right; we don't get stomach aches.' He glances back at Jack with a frown. 'Not unless -'
'It wasn't that,' says Jack firmly. 'It's not the kids. It's not the faith. It's... something else.' The others are looking at him with a wariness now and Jack doesn't like it, but he's too busy trying to think of what it could be to really care too much. 'I felt it once before, years and years ago...' Looking down at his feet, Jack shuts his eyes and shakes his head. 'I don't know, guys. I really don't.
Tooth makes a fretful sound and hovers closer to him. 'It didn't look good, whatever it was.'
'It didn't feel go -' Jack drops the sentence with a gasp, hands going to his gut as a rich, deep throb starts up within him. This isn't pain, it's most certainly not pain and oh, wow, okay. He has to go. He has to leave now. Pushing his friends' concerned smothering to the side, Jack snatches up his staff and staggers away from them. 'I'll be back,' he says with a gasp. 'But I've got to go. I've got to find something. Don't worry!' His sentence comes out in a rush of hot words, and whether or not anybody really got what he was saying he cares not, he's already summoning the winds and lifting himself up into the air.
North continues shouting long after Jack has gone, and Tooth continues to fret.
Bunnymund looks across at Sandy and rolls his eyes. 'Over-dramatic little blighter.'
Sandy immediately frowns, and then pauses before offering a half-agreeing shrug.
For once in her life, Elsa feels free. Years of restraint and hiding and worrying - it all seems fruitless now as she walks the halls of her ice palace. The whole building hums with the life she has given it, the walls sing beneath her touch, and Elsa feels more at home here than she ever has at Arendelle. Thoughts of Anna swim through her mind, and Elsa pushes them back as best she can.
Elsa is better without her; that much has been made more than obvious.
Her sister will be a good queen, though still young and a little frivolous, the people will like her far more than then they like Elsa. Save for the fact they do not like her at all; she is but a monster to them now, an abomination of unnatural gifts. Sorcery; she had heard the word and seen the fear in the villagers' faces as they'd backed away from her.
Elsa stops to look at her reflection in the ice and sees the frown marring her face. It matters not anymore, Arendelle and its people are far behind her, and that is the way it will stay from now on. She is free here, free to live how she wants without having to worry about repercussions. It is better here than anywhere, and as she realizes that, she starts to smile.
Jack doesn't know how he finds the place. It's a strange, almost sentient feeling that draws him to the castle, and when he sets eyes on it he's in left in awe of the finery. The castle is solid ice, and when he touches it a strange warmth sinks into his fingertips. But the surrounding area is quiet and uninhabited, and Jack wonders who would live in a place so far from civilization. It is nothing like the buildings of the city kids he knows, in fact, this looks like a building from a time long before...
Then, on the air, comes the rich hum of a voice, and Jack drops down and circles the ice castle warily. The pulse in his abdomen has settled now that he is closer to this building, it seems, but Jack is now motivated by curiosity. He's flitting past a window when he catches sight of someone, a woman in a dress of icy blues and sparkling silvers, and Jack flies eagerly to the next window. He misses her face by a moment, but he catches long, white-blonde hair pulled back in a braid, the gentle caress of a delicate hand on ice.
The next window allows him to glimpse her face.
A woman, yes, and a beautiful one at that.
As a Guardian, things like love and desire died a long time ago - they know not of their own needs - only of the children's, but Jack knows that whatever rule that is, it's certainly not in effect here. Then the woman lifts her hand and gestures to the window, and Jack watches in awe and admiration as ice swirls from her fingertips and creates a beautiful latticework. She glances at it to admire her work, but her gaze stops on him, and Jack realizes dumbly that she's looking at him.
Her eyes widen and she backs away, hands stretching out in front of her in either defense or attack Jack doesn't know.
'Whoa, whoa!' He says quickly, dropping down to perch on the window sill. 'It's okay, I'm not going to hurt you.'
The woman stares at him incredulously. 'I don't wish to hurt you,' she says pointedly, and her voice is strong but her eyes show her fear, and Jack steps inside carefully while holding his arms open in a gesture of peace.
Jack smiles. 'You won't.' He slowly curls the fingers of his left hand, and he watches as her eyes follow the wisp of snow and ice that flow from his fingertips and undulate toward her, swirling around her in a show of pretty snowflakes and a caressing breeze.
'Who are you?' she asks when the display finishes, and though she doesn't sound any less wary her hands have dropped, and she's watching him with an almost eager look.
He grins. 'I'm Jack Frost.' He watches disbelief shadow her features and he tuts. 'Don't say you don't believe me; you wouldn't be able to see me if you didn't.' He watches her silent evaluation for a moment before he decides to come clean. He tells her everything, what he felt and how it lead him here, but he leaves out the Guardian jazz.
'This is surreal,' she says after a moment. 'I never thought -'
'What?' asks Jack with a teasing grin. 'That I'd be this good looking?'
She stares at him for a long moment.
'It was a joke,' says Jack, now feeling a little awkward. 'You know, ha ha. Or not.' He gets the feeling that she's a rather serious person, and Jack decides to tone it down for the time being. 'Don't worry,' he says when she doesn't respond to him at all. 'Look, whatever you can do - no one else can do that. No one but me, at least, and I've been around for a long time, let me tell you.'
'What is your age?' she asks tentatively, curiously.
Jack shrugs. 'Nineteen. Give or take three hundred years.'
She lets out a nervous little laugh and backs away. 'I am delusional. You are obviously a figment of my imagination. Anna's ridiculous engagement has gotten to me. Now I'm creating men.' She gives him an appraising sort of look. 'I could have done worse, I suppose.'
Jack laughs. 'Trust me, I am not part of your imagination.' He grins. 'But thanks.' He turns his head, looking around the room intently, staff swinging between his fingers lazily. 'This is beautiful; this whole place. You did all of this?' He doesn't really need to ask, but he gets a splinter of satisfaction when she blushes prettily and nods. 'It's impressive,' he says, fingers reaching out to brush the walls. 'What was this about an engagement anyway? Anna? Who's that?'
'You're awfully inquisitive,' she says, and there's that wariness back in her voice.
Jack sighs and turns back to her, holding out his hand as he stops in front of her. 'Hi, I'm Jack Frost,' he says charmingly, hoping a more formal introduction will do the trick. 'And you are?'
She looks at his hand with a mixture of emotions that Jack can't place. 'I can't,' she says. 'If I touch you you'll -'
'Freeze?' Jack grins at her. 'Doubt it.' He doesn't pressure her further, just waits for her to bring her hand up and place it in his of her own accord. Jack had initially been going in for a regular handshake, but then he raises her hand to his mouth and brushes his lips across the smooth skin across the back of it, and he grins when she gasps at the small trail of ice and snowflakes his lips leave behind.
'Unbelievable,' she murmurs, and then takes her hand back. 'My name is Elsa, and that will be quite enough of that.'
Jack just smiles. 'If you say so, Elsa. Now, what about this... engagement?' He waits for her to answer patiently, and although after a moment he has to coax her a little more, she tells him of her sister and her 'true love' and even Jack snorts incredulously at that. 'So why was all this happening? Why was there a ball and -'
'It was my coronation,' she says coolly. 'Today I was crowned queen and my people disowned me.' She glances at Jack. 'It has been eventful, with that there is no doubt.'
Jack just stares at her. 'You're the queen?'
She shrugs. 'I was. My sister will be a better queen than I.'
Jack considers pressing it, but he can tell that she won't appreciate it if he does. 'Well, who else is here?' he asks, looking around the room. 'This place is huge, after all.'
'It is only me,' she says firmly. 'As it should be.'
'Really?' drawls Jack. 'Sounds kind of lonely. Well, I guess you won't mind if I stick around then, will you?'
Her look of horror suggests that yes, she does mind, but Jack just grins and winks at her. Looking appalled, Elsa gives him an indignant huff and sweeps away on her heel. Jack watches her go with something akin to admiration.
Elsa isn't sure if she fully believes the current man inhabiting her castle to be Jack Frost, but deep down she has her faith. Part of her is elated at the idea of having someone like her; someone who can do the things she does. Someone who thinks she's normal. But then Jack says he is hundreds of years old, and although Elsa has seen him fly past on the wind many times over in the past two days, she can only wonder if that is true, also. Sometimes Jack is a child, as frivolous and loud as Anna is, and other times when she catches him watching her with a somber face and old eyes she can see the years behind him.
She wants to let Jack into her life, but she's scared.
Jack seems intent on making her forget her fears.
'Ever been sledding?' he asks one morning as he appears from nowhere; a usual habit of his, Elsa has come to find.
Elsa makes an undignified snorting sound. 'Of course.' Then she amends her poor behavior and says, 'though not in a long time.'
Jack just grins. 'You might want to change out of your pretty dress, then.'
She tries to look insulted, she really does, but she can feel the smile creeping onto her face even as she sticks her nose in the air. 'A lady does not go sledding.'
Jack floats past her and taps her hip with his staff. 'Good thing you're no lady.' His wink and his laugh make her sputter, and when that only makes him laugh more she shoots a small whirlwind of ice at him. It catches him off guard and he drops out of the air with an impressive amount of flailing, and when he looks at her she smiles smugly.
Jack grins. 'That's more like it.'
Elsa raises a brow and shoots another light sheen of ice and wind at him, and this time he gives his hand a lazy wave and it parts around him with ease. Something twists in Elsa's gut at the sight of him, sprawled out before her with his arrogant smile and ice in his white-grey hair.
She turns away before the feeling can grow.
Jack doesn't sleep. He dozes, but he's aware, and so when Elsa retires for the night and moves to her bedchambers, Jack waits a long while before sneaking up after her. He thought it wrong at first, but now he can't help himself, his eyes roving over her as she breathes evenly in her sleep. Her beautiful gown is gone, replaced by something far more suited for sleep, and Jack traces his fingers along the fine bones of her ankle and her delicate wrist, feeling something stir inside him.
Tonight he can't help himself, his touch lingers longer than usual, and he feels a constriction in his chest at the sight she makes, white-blonde hair spread out over the snow and ice of her bed.
It takes a moment for him to realize she has said his name. He jerks back, immediately stepping away from the bed with an apology on his tongue.
Elsa stirs and blinks at him sleepily. 'Don't be strange,' she says thickly, 'at least lay down beside me.'
And oh, thinks Jack as he takes a tentative step forward, how he has underestimated this woman. He fits himself behind her, curving his chest against her back, and she is tense for a long moment before she allows herself to relax into his hold, and Jack finds himself curling around her to fit the mold, delighting in the way she is pressed against him. This is unlike anything he has ever experienced before; an intimacy that he knows of but has never been apart of. It comes as naturally to him as the snow had when he had awakened after the lake.
He presses his face into her neck, breathes in her cool scent and lingers in the ticklish feeling of her hair soft upon his cheek. Gently, on a whim, he presses his lips to the hollow of her throat.
'Alright,' she murmurs, although she doesn't move. 'That will be enough of that.'
Jack just grins.
After that night, Elsa finds herself warming to Jack a lot more. There is a line of intimacy that has been crossed, and though Elsa has no experience in these things prior to Jack, she knows that now they are closer in a way that isn't entirely born of platonic friendship.
One morning she is standing on her balcony, watching the pink sun rise and turn orange and gold, when Jack comes up behind her and places a hand on her waist. Elsa tenses at the touch, it is strange and foreign, but she reasons that this is no different to when they sleep and Jack curls his arm around her waist in the night. She waits a moment before allowing herself to lean backwards. Jack's chest is firm behind her, and as she rests her head on his shoulder he moves his hand around her body to rest on her stomach, splayed fingers dipping downwards and her entire body goes taught.
'Relax,' murmurs Jack into her ear.
'Easy for you to say,' she replies, watching the sun steadily rise. 'You who has three hundred years of experience with these kinds of intimacies is far more comfortable with them than someone like I.'
Jack is silent for a moment, and Elsa twists her neck to look up at him. He isn't grinning smugly like she had expected. 'You'll find,' he says after a long moment, without looking down and meeting her gaze. 'That our experience levels are somewhat similar.' Elsa stares at him disbelieving. 'You don't get much action when nobody can see you,' he clarifies, still not looking at her. 'Even when they can see you... let's just say I've never had the urge.'
Elsa processes this. 'Both your language and your attire are strange,' she says finally, fingering the material of his blue top. 'Where are you from?'
Jack holds her tighter. 'A long way from here.' Now he does look down at her. 'I traveled a long way to find you, Your Majesty.' There is the smile slowly rising like the sun, and Elsa rolls her eyes and turns back to the beauty unfolding around them, even as Jack presses a kiss to her cheek. She feels herself wanting more, the desire to tilt her head becoming stronger and stronger with each day, but not today. She lets him kiss her cheek again, and then he rests his chin on her shoulder and they watch the sun climb into the sky silently.
'I think we're connected,' admits Jack. He is lounging on a slab of ice, arms behind his head as he watches Elsa add little additions to the foyer of her palace.
'How so?' she asks, turning to look at him over his shoulder. 'You did say you felt pulled towards here, didn't you?'
'When you use your magic in fear, it physically hurts me.' Elsa looks stricken for a moment, but Jack barrels on. 'When you do it for pleasure, like this? When you were building this place? It's not painful. It's... something else.'
Elsa regards him with an almost sly look. 'Something else?' Jack raises an eyebrow and she grins. 'Carry on,' she says with a flourish of her hand.
'Can you feel me?' he asks as he makes horses prance through the air. 'Can you feel anything when I do things like this?'
Elsa looks upset for a moment. 'No,' she says honestly, 'but I wish I did.'
Jack watches her for a long moment, eyes slowly traveling from her face down the length of his body, gaze lingering on her breasts and her thighs, an unashamed, silent appraisal in the look. When he meets her gaze once more Elsa is watching him with an unreadable expression. Then she starts toward him, something strange and hungry entering her eyes, and Jack sits up further, watching her make her way towards him.
She lingers in front of him, slightly unsure but wanting, and then she puts her hands to the sides of his neck and Jack sighs. The touch is not a touch alone, slowly, deliberately, her magic dribbles in a tender caress from her fingertips, ice traveling down Jack's spine. He almost shivers.
'Can you feel this?' she asks, voice low and rich. Jack just nods. 'Well then.' Her hands leave his neck and she's stepping away. 'I would say your assumption is correct. We are connected.'
Jack just stares at her. 'That was cruel.'
Elsa tosses him a wink over her shoulder.
'I'm a Guardian.'
The day Jack tells her this is the day they have their first fight. He explains it as best he can, but he can see as soon as he starts that Elsa isn't taking it well. By the time he's finished her lips are pursed and her hands are clenched.
'You can not abandon these children, Jack.' Elsa is angry, Jack can see it in the way icicles sprout from where her feet touch the ground in her pacing. 'You can not just leave them -'
'Because you didn't leave your entire kingdom,' he shoots back. 'You didn't leave your little sister, right?'
Elsa scowls at him. 'I did what was best for both them and me. You are here solely for selfish purposes.'
'What of it?' growls Jack, 'am I not allowed to want something for myself after years of having nothing? What do you say to that? Should I just give every part of myself away for everybody else?'
Elsa lifts her chin. 'If that is the title you have accepted, then yes.'
'Well you accepted the title of queen but here you are, ruler to no one but your own insecurities and a bunch of snow.' Jack knows as soon as he's said it that he's hurt her, but when he takes an apologetic step forward Elsa shakes her head and throws up a wall of ice between them. 'Don't,' he says, but Elsa is still shaking her head.
'Just leave, Jack. Just leave.'
And Jack is hurt and hard headed so he does.
Explaining what has transpired in the past week to the other Guardians is too difficult, so Jack just shrugs and offers vague lies. He isn't even trying hard, and when he goes out to visit Jamie the boy can see he isn't entirely happy.
'Where have you been?' Jamie asks as he licks at an ice cream. Jack catches it melting down the side and swirls his finger around the top, freezing it up again.
'Far, far away.'
Jamie makes a face. 'Sounds like the start of a fairy tale.'
Jack almost smiles. 'It could be.'
Interested, Jamie licks at his ice cream and ponders this. 'Was there a girl?'
'Was she pretty?'
'Did you guys... kiss?'
Jack wants to say yes. He does. But he would be lying. He had kissed Elsa, lips on her neck, her cheek, her shoulder, her knuckles. But no, they had never kissed, and Jack says so.
Jamie frowns. 'You've got to kiss her; that way you'll know if you love each other. Hey, if you do love her, does that mean you won't be coming back here?'
'I don't think it works that way,' admits Jack, 'though I wish it did. Of course I'd come back. I'd never leave you.'
'Good,' says Jamie, with a note of finality, and then proceeds to tell Jack about all the trivial things in his life, and Jack listens intently and freezes Jamie's ice cream every time the boy forgets to eat it, but his heart isn't in the conversation, and all he can think about is Elsa, alone in her castle atop a mountain in the middle of nowhere.
The more he thinks about it the more distressed he becomes. He will never forget Pitch, or what Pitch had said to him. Isolated. Alone. Hated.
'Hey - hey I've got to go -' Jack gets to his feet, summoning the wind as quickly as he can, and Jamie just rolls his eyes and licks his ice cream.
'You're gonna go kiss her, right?'
Jack grins. 'I'm certainly going to try.'
He's almost there when he feels it, the first twinge of pain. This bout is sporadic but there, and it only serves to make him travel faster.
By the time he gets to the castle, Elsa is gone.
In a cell of her own kingdom, Elsa looks down at her bound hands and cries. For Anna, for her parents, for Jack, for herself. Slowly anger builds in her, anger and hurt and all the emotions that she never wanted, all the things that made her lose control, and the ice starts to spread.
Jack arrives to see Elsa holding onto an ice statue of a young girl. She is crying. Jack drops from the sky in a whirlwind of ice and snow and sleet, and he's about to wreak havoc when the statue begins to thaw. Elsa looks up in awe as the girl becomes real again, and Jack hears 'Anna' escape from Elsa's mouth.
Jack steps back, holds himself at bay as the two are reunited. All he wants is Elsa, to touch her, to reassure himself that she's alive and that everything is fine, but he knows the meaning behind these moments; he knows the importance in this reunion. He eyes the strange, sentient little snow man with a curious gaze, and the creature stares back at him with an open mouth. Jack puts a finger to his lips and winks.
When Elsa turns, she catches sight of Jack, and her grin widens even more. 'Love thaws,' she is saying, and when she raises her arms and lifts the winter from her land, Jack is filled with a red hot burning that makes him groan in pleasure. Elsa is alight with love and laughter, and as she leaves her little sister to punch a young man in the face, Jack sneaks up behind her and presses a kiss to her shoulder. He knows there is a possibility he'll get iced, but Elsa just tilts her head to the side and allows him more room. It is opening, a silent acceptance.
'Did you have fun without me?' he asks, teasing and light, but there is an apology underneath it all.
'Can they not see you?' she murmurs, and Jack looks around the now floating boat.
'They don't believe. Strange, all things considered.'
Elsa hums, and when her sister comes over to take her hand, Jack lets them go. Elsa turns back to look at him though, and he drops a slow wink in a promise.
He watches that evening as the kingdom falls in love with Elsa. She is the apple of their eyes, her and her bouncing sister, and once Anna is skating happily across the ice with Kristoff, the burly blonde, Elsa smiles contently and steps inside the castle.
Jack drops from his perch on the roof and follows her.
Elsa knows he's behind her, she can tell by the change in temperature, by the way the hair on the back of her neck stands up in anticipation. Just to tease, she throws pretty ice lattices on the windows, drops vases onto lonely tables, and each time she hears Jack's breath hitch behind her. She leads him to her room, throws the doors open and decorates the place in ice - not holding back in the slightest.
Jack's arms encircle her from behind and trap her hands to her body.
'That's quite enough of that,' he says, and his voice is husky in her ear. Elsa shivers and lets him twist her around. He is a good height taller than her, but Elsa cares not. She reaches up to touch his cheek. 'I'm sorry for what I said.' He moves his head to kiss her hand. 'I'm sorry for leaving.'
Elsa smiles softly. 'You needed to leave. I needed to do this.'
Jack feels immensely proud of her in that moment, of this strong young woman who he barely knows but feels as if he has lived ten lifetimes with. He rubs his thumb across her cheekbone and smiles at her. Elsa's responding smile is soft and caring, and Jack feels excitement mount in him when her eyes narrow and her smile turns sly.
'Jack Frost, as the Queen of Arendelle -'
'Your Majesty,' he says, falling into the little game with ease. 'What would you ask of me?'
When she presses her mouth to his Jack feels his world shift, and he takes her face in his hands and steals her breath, instinct born of years leading him to lick into her mouth and elicit little sounds from her throat. She is pressed up against him, the gossamer-ice of her dress a thin barrier to the expanse of all her pale, flawless skin, and Jack wants all of it and more. Elsa pulls back and inhales sharply, tongue tracing her lips in a way that makes Jack lean in and steal another kiss while she laughs against his mouth.
He smiles as she bites at his lip. 'Anything you ask, my Queen,' he says in a raw, hushed honesty. 'Anything and it will be yours.'
Elsa's smile is wicked and loving. 'You, Jack,' she says, and her eyes shine brighter than the sunrise on fresh snow. 'Only you.'