It’s months later.
Jack finds himself wandering around while the kids he usually plays with go to school. Santa made him promise he wouldn’t pass a certain amount of snow days per year; they would never get a proper education otherwise.
And sure it’s sad to think about Jamie and his group growing older, growing up, moving on to bigger and better things, but there will be more kids. Jack is sure of that now.
So, as he trails his staff behind him, tapping it here and there to create a flurry of snow flakes, a sparkle in an otherwise dull patch of pavement, he notices a shadow on the ground.
It’s hard to forget what it felt like to be so afraid you wanted to die. Again.
Jack stops in his tracks, leaning against his staff, quietly and calculatingly, watching as the shadow leads down a lane. It’s daytime, sure, but the position of the buildings around this lane block it in; cut it off from most sunlight. And look at that, clouds are rolling in now, too.
It might be a mistake to follow, but Jack does it anyway. There are some things about himself he can't change. Curiosity will always be one of them.
When he walks towards the lane, the shadow retreats further, leading him deeper inside the slightly narrow crevice. He stops as he reaches the wall, turning so he and his staff are facing the only entrance. Better to be safe than sorry; Jack isn’t going to make that mistake again after he almost lost Baby Tooth.
Watching the way he came, he feels something trailing along his back, curling around his shoulders. It was stupid of him to forget about Pitch's shadow games on walls and sidewalks. He’s giving him the perfect opportunity to strike Jack right where he isn't looking, but something feels different.
“Jack, I'm so glad you haven't completely turned into one of them,” Pitch drawls, his long, slender fingers gripping Jack’s shoulder tightly but not harshly. Something isn't the same. “Do you know why I'm here?”
Jack doesn't turn around. “No.” But now he's dying to know why.
“I've been running from my own nightmares for so long, I've started to miss the light. But not quite enough to grovel at North, Tooth or Bunny's feet. You, however,” Pitch says, low and dangerously close to Jack's ear, “I've always felt a kinship to.”
Jack turns then, facing Pitch, his staff close in case he has to strike. “I thought you just enjoyed manipulating people you knew you couldn't beat.”
“Well, there was that, too,” Pitch concedes, sliding away from the wall to stand in front of Jack. “Are you willing?”
Jack narrows his eyes, pushing his staff against Pitch's chest when he tries to get closer. “Willing to what?”
“Aid me in a small way,” Pitch replies matter-of-factly, running a hand through his hair that seems to be losing it's usually life. It's no longer a point, like the flame of a candle in the dark, but hanging loose around Pitch's face. It makes him look...weak. Almost harmless even.
“Let me guess, you want us to join forces again? You offered before, I don't see why I'd change my mind now that you're powerless,” Jack snaps, moving his staff back to his side. Pitch isn't a threat at this point.
“Well, yes, but my nightmares are growing on their own. I've lost control. And the master becomes a prey to his beast, of course, but when the master is gone, who do you think the nightmare will go after?”
He circles Jack, fingers sliding across his shoulder, then against his chest. Jack tries not to shudder against the truth he hears in those words. The touch itself isn't doing anything to him, surprisingly. Jack doesn’t mind it, actually.
“You want me to get rid of your nightmares? Wouldn't that take the rest of your power away?” Jack asks, startling his own self with the concern in his voice. Pitch is a menace; he should be so lucky to be nothing but a spirit roaming around for the rest of eternity. Just a shadow - ironically - of what he used to be.
“It would indeed, but I would be grateful to you,” Pitch explains, bending down a bit so he’s eye to eye with Jack. “I haven't changed my mind about you, Jack. You are fascinating.”
Jack frowns, putting the end of his staff underneath Pitch's jaw when he tries to lean in. “What are you up to?”
Pitch's eyes widen, feigning innocence. “Whatever do you mean? I'm asking for you to help destroy what I've created, since I can’t face it alone in my current state.”
“And there's no trick? That's hard to believe,” quips Jack, lips curling in spite of himself.
“There's no catch,” Pitch says seriously. “You help me, and I will be in your debt.”
“Until you find some way to regain your power,” Jack adds, smiling for some reason.
“Yes,” Pitch agrees, not bothering to lie. Jack isn’t surprised by the answer, just the open honesty. And the offer he's being given.
This is...exciting. The thrill of having someone like Pitch under his command for a while, even if it's only a few years, makes Jack feel more alive than he has in a while.
It’s not that being a Guardian isn't fun and all; it just isn’t the same now that he has responsibilities. There were no rules before; he was his own boss, free to come and go as he pleased. But now he can't even make a snow day on a whim, because it has to be scheduled in and approved of by the other Guardians, as well as the Man in the Moon.
This - this would give him something else to focus on when he's bored on days like today.
“Do we have a deal?” Pitch asks, extending a hand to Jack.
Jack observes the graceful way Pitch's fingers uncurl, the colour much lighter than his hair or his outfit. He’s taking Pitch’s hand in his own before he's even uttering his reply of, “sure”, shaking firmly to seal the deal.
“I'm grateful to you, Jack,” Pitch admits, bowing his head in politeness. “Tell me when you've managed to chase away those dark nightmares, and then I will give you what you wish.”
Pitch is backing away, grinning, disappearing along the bricks in the wall, as the sun moves from behind the clouds. Jack wouldn’t be surprised if Pitch somehow controlled them.
Jack doesn’t have anything better to do this week - what with there being no meetings, no scheduled snow days, and no time for him to visit Jamie - so he seeks out those stallions he met not long ago.
He wonders if he should be suspicious of how quickly he gets rid of them. They dissipate through the wind, reverting back to a golden thread of sand that’s drawn to its master. He doesn’t have to worry about it returning to Pitch at least.
Jack is strolling down the same street he was when the shadow appeared - Pitch, rather - and he sees it again. He follows Pitch without hesitation this time; the shadow is even smaller, even less threatening, than that day when they made the deal.
He faces the wall when he strides between the two buildings, meeting Pitch in the lane.
“Have you decided what I can do to return the favour?”
Jack's brows knit, and he shakes his head. “There's nothing I want.”
Pitch seems confused by this, taking a few slow steps forward. “Nothing at all? Nothing even I could conjure up to bring a smile to your face?”
Shaking his head again, Jack squeezes around his staff. There is something.
“Nothing you may not need, but desire more and more by each passing day?” Pitch whispers, fingers stroking along Jack's cheek, down to his neck. “Nothing maybe you aren't even aware that you want?”
“You sound like you know something I don't,” Jack states grumpily, moving his head away when Pitch tangles his fingers in the silver locks.
“I just want to ensure you have no regrets once I disappear. I will not make this offer again,” Pitch murmurs from behind Jack, the lilting quality to his voice making Jack feel light-headed.
There is something, but Jack isn’t supposed to want it. He’s not going to want it. He won't want it. What would the other Guardians say? Would they even allow him to be a Guardian anymore?
The silence stretches on.
“Well, in that case, I will be leav--”
“Wait,” Jack cuts in, sounding as desperate as he feels. “Okay, there is one thing. But I don't expect you to agree.”
Pitch looks absolutely maniacal when he leans in close, breathing the words again Jack's mouth, “Anything.”
“You,” Jack blurts out, closing his eyes to avoid seeing the look of disgust that will surely be painted across Pitch's expressive face.
Silence returns again. Then—
Jack is shocked but pleased to feel that Pitch is still breathing against his parted lips, not having moved when he heard the request. Jack chances opening an eye, then the other, and Pitch is looking at him with sheer delight (and an arousing glint of mischief in his eyes that he usually hides).
“Of course, Jack,” Pitch answers, eyes intent on Jack's. “If this is what you're certain--”
Yes. Yes. Yes. He says it in his mind.
But Jack is already dragging Pitch in closer, leaning up on his toes to get a better angle for the kiss. The spark that's been between them ignites, burning Jack's lips, making him actually feel almost chilled as Pitch’s darkness surrounds them like a cloak. It tugs at Jack's limbs, forces him to wrap around Pitch, and he's being hefted up against him, back pressed against the wall.
Pitch's muffled moans against Jack's lips make Jack shiver, and he clutches at Pitch, legs squeezing tight around the narrow waist. It's a lot of firsts for Jack.
Jack has never kissed anyone before; he's never had a crush for more than a few weeks; he's never felt someone's body this close to his, this willing to surrender to all of Jack's needs.
But, as he nips and licks at Pitch's parting mouth, making the dark flesh darker somehow, brighter, and harder for Jack to resist, he regrets not having tried this sooner.
“Take, Jack,” Pitch purrs, pulling away slightly. “I wasn't lying when I said I'd give you anything.”
“I want…” Jack pants, tracing Pitch's swollen lips with his thumb. “I want more of this.” Jack tangles his fingers in Pitch's hair, hips rolling in slow circles as he kisses harder, frenzied, biting down on the slippery edge of a playful tongue when it flicks at his lips.
Pitch tastes like a lot more than darkness and scary dreams; he tastes of freedom, determination, experience, and everything Jack could ever need to survive as a Guardian for the rest of his existence.
“Do you feel that?” Pitch asks teasingly, kissing down the side of Jack's face, hand trailing up Jack’s spread thighs to press between. He cups his erection, making Jack hiss with pleasure. “Do you want this?”
“Yes,” Jack says at last, arching and pushing his hips closer to those skilled hands. “Please.”
“As you wish, Jack,” Pitch murmurs, licking across Jack's collarbone and sliding his hand in Jack’s pants at the same time.
“Ah!” Jack cries out, nearly hitting his head against the wall behind him. Pitch laughs, low and devious, cupping the back of Jack's skull with his free hand while his cape of shadows keeps them both upright.
“I knew there was something special about you,” Pitch explains, tightening his grip on Jack's length, tugging and tugging as quickly as he can. “I knew from the moment you were created that we would cross paths in a memorable way.” Jack whimpers when Pitch bites into his neck, fingers pressing into the slit at the head of his cock. “I'll tell you a secret,” Pitch offers, mouthing at Jack's collarbone. He grins when Jack sighs with contentment. “I had hoped it would end like this.”
The fingers curl tighter around Jack’s cock; there's short, frantic jerks focused on the head, while Pitch fills Jack's mind with praise and sensual thoughts. “I love to see you like this,” Pitch admits, “Reckless and free like we're meant to be.”
Jack loses all sense of time as he comes, spilling over Pitch’s fist, and then he blacks out.
Pitch is still there when Jack remembers how to open his eyes.
“I'm glad to see I didn't accidentally murder a Guardian. I would be in a lot of trouble, Jack,” Pitch teases, sucking on his fingertips. “You won't be telling them about this, right?”
Jack clears his throat, head spinning, and mesmerized by the mess he left on Pitch's fingers. “N-no.”
“Good,” Pitch replies with a grin. “Then there will be more fun to be had.”
“You mean.” Jack holds his head as it throbs; feeling so flushed with heat and wrung out that he can't seem to get his comforting ice back around him yet. “You mean this isn't over?”
“Please,” drawls Pitch, “we've only just begun. Besides, I don't think you'd want to leave me in this state for eternity, would you?”
Jack looks down at the very visible bulge hidden under Pitch's clothes. Is it wrong that he is now considering doing just that? He chuckles, and Pitch looks mortified for a split second.
“Naughty boy,” Pitch says simply, and Jack shrugs playfully.
“So when do you want me to...” he trails off, gesturing at Pitch's lower half.
Pitch disappears, reappearing behind Jack, pressing his groin up against Jack's back. “I'll come and find you, dear Jack.”
Then he's melting into the wall, fading away, leaving Jack with the tingle of lust all over his skin. Jack doesn't know if he can wait until Pitch's ready, not when he's had a taste of what it can be like for the rest of eternity.