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Safe & Sound

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--

 When all those shadows almost killed your light
I remember you said, "Don't leave me here alone"

- Taylor Swift (Safe & Sound)

--


When Jamie wakes up the day after Easter, he smells the scent of snow in his room. There's no trace left behind of yesterday's magic. It could have been just another dream.

But Jamie smiles, hugging the blankets to himself. He knows what he saw. From now on, he’ll never forget Jack Frost and the guardians.

The remaining spring days are spent frolicking in the snow. Sometimes Jamie thinks he can see a guy in a blue jacket hanging around, but when he turns, there’s no one there. He laughs it away, though, giddy in the knowledge that Jack is watching over him and his sister.

The days grow warmer, and summer comes too fast. Jamie sighs over the lack of snow. He’s never been so excited for the change of seasons before.

It's not even summer when his mother springs the news on him and Sophie. "We're all moving to Florida next month," she says. "Your dad got a promotion and it's a lot easier if we all lived together, don't you think?"

Jamie stares. "But there's no snow there," he says, stupidly.

His mother raises an eyebrow. "Since when is that an issue?"

Jamie doesn't know how to explain that he loves snow, loves winter, loves the cold. Sophie begins to cry.

“Oh, come on you two! Snow’s not that big of deal!”

Jamie wants to protest, to be angry. But he’s never been a rebellious kid, ever. So he folds in himself, feeling forlorn.

That night, a cold breeze filters into his room, even though it’s been a warm afternoon. Jamie huddles in his blankets, and feels comforted.

They start packing two weeks later, and too soon, they’re in the car to a different state. Jamie says goodbye to all his neighborhood friends, and a silent goodbye to the place where he had the most amazing experience in his life.

Needless to say, Jamie never stops believing.

--

He's seventeen when he moves to Buffalo for his university. When it snows during December, Jamie nearly screams in joy. He jumps around their apartment like an excited little kid, and his roommate Craig shakes his head.

"Never seen snow before?" Craig asks.

Jamie laughs. "I haven't seen it since I was a kid," he admits. He wishes they spent holidays elsewhere, but his parents enjoy the Florida weather too much to bother. So he contents himself with too cold nights and freezing air.

"That's why you're still excited over it." His roommate shrugs. "It's not so exciting after so many years."

Jamie smiles. He doesn't know how to explain how precious the memory of snow is to him.

He starts taking long walks everywhere, despite the amount of snow. It’s a little therapeutic and nostalgic. He calls up Sophie and tells her about it. His sister practically yells at him in jealousy. They laugh and talk for a while, and Jamie promises to find a way to make her come over and visit, even if he has to be the one to pay for her plane ticket.

The days pass by. Jamie still looks up whenever he sees someone wearing a blue hoodie. He wonders if he’ll ever really see Jack Frost again. He still believes, of course, but sometimes it’s not hard to doubt if everything was just a figment of his young imagination.

Then something happens.

It's a cold, windy day in January, and even Jamie is struggling in his boots. There's no one on the street; Jamie doesn't blame them. All he wants to do is go to his apartment room and drink a hot cup of coffee and wrap himself in blankets.

Out of nowhere, a snowball hits him in the head.

"What the hell?" He asks, turning around in confusion. He surveys the street; there's no one there. Jamie blinks, and then he sees him; haunting blue eyes and snow-colored hair, tossing a snowball in his right hand, leaning against a lamppost in that nonchalant way of his.

Jamie's breath catches in his throat, and he doesn't realize what he's doing until he's already in motion. He launches himself at Jack Frost, laughing. "You," he says, throwing his arms around the guardian.

Jack's grinning at him, fond and mischievous. "Me," he says, returning the hug. Jack's touch is cold, but not freezing. There's a strange warmth to it that Jamie can't describe. They stand like that for a while; Jamie's thankful nobody's outside. It would look so weird hugging the thin air.

"You still remember," Jack says to him, when they separate. "You still believe."

Jamie shrugs. "There are some things that are hard to forget."

Jack laughs at that, and reaches out to touch his hair, hovering to do so. Jamie starts; he hadn't realized how close their heights were. Jack Frost used to be so big in Jamie's memories; protective and caring. He never expected a day would come when he would be taller than his childhood guardian.

"You look," he starts, and stops.

"Cool?" Jack supplies, smirking. "Awesome? Fantastic?"

"Young," Jamie says, and then he blushes.

Jack doesn't seem to take offense at it. "I'm a guardian of children," he says. "You wouldn't want me looking like a tetchy old man, would you? Santa's already got that covered."

Jamie laughs. "You look exactly the same though," he says. "Shorter, even."

"Hey!" Jack pokes him at the side with his stick. "You just got a growth spurt and now you're full of yourself, Jamie."

Jamie ruffles Jack's hair. He's imagined running his hands in that hair for a while; it's soft and strange not like hair at all. Jack swats his hand away, still laughing.

"So," Jack says, his grin as devious as always. "You in the mood for a snowball fight?"

--

They stumble back into his apartment after a long snowball fight, laughing with their arms over each other. Jamie's cheeks are flushed from the cold. Jack floats lazily beside him as Jamie unlocks the door to his place. "Sorry for the mess," he says as they step inside.

Jack looks around with a curious eye. "Nice place you got here," he comments. He goes to the shelves, picking various trinkets up like an eager little kid.

"Hey, Jamie!" His roommate, Craig, pops his head over the hallway; Jack immediately puts down whatever he's holding, hiding his hands behind his back. He whistles innocently, and Jamie covers his laugh with his mouth. "I thought you got lost somewhere, dude. It's freezing cold out, shut the door."

Jamie smiles apologetically at Jack as he closes the door with a quiet click. Craig lets out a sigh of relief and walks into the room. "That's better." He shivers. "Still cold, though. What the hell were you doing, going out during this kind of weather?"

Jamie shrugs. "I like the cold. Winter's my favorite season." Jack does celebratory somersaults in the air at that.

Craig shakes his head. "You're crazy, man." He looks around. "I thought I heard you talking to someone when you got in. You finally brought someone over?" His eyes are bright with curiosity. Jamie's mortified to realize that Jack is listening in just as intently.

"Nah," he says. "Got no time for something like that." He moves to make himself a cup of coffee. He catches Jack's eyes and waves the mug at him, but Jack shakes his head no.

Craig, unaware of Jamie's unspoken conversation with someone else, looks disappointed. "Well, if you're not busy - Daniel's got a party tonight. You comin'?"

Jamie shakes his head. "I think I'll just rest tonight," he says.

"Okay, dude. Your loss. All the hot chicks are gonna be there," Craig says. He grabs his coat. "I'm gonna go out to buy some stuff. See you later!"

"So who's he?" Jack asks when Craig's ambled out of the apartment.

"My roommate," Jamie replies. "He's an okay guy. Likes to party a little bit too much for my taste, but hey. It means I get the room all to myself on Saturday nights."

Jack nods absently, and goes back to looking over the things on the shelves. Jamie takes his brewed cup of coffee and settles down on the couch, peeling off his mittens.

"So how's Sophie?" Jack asks him, as Jamie takes off his scarf and winter coat.

Jamie sighs. "Still in Florida with my mom. I bet she'd love to see you again." He smiles. "She misses the snow."

Jack floats down to sit beside him in the couch. "I visit sometimes," he says. "On cold winter nights."

"I know," Jamie says, smiling to himself. One time he had woken up freezing in his bed, his window accidentally left open. When he had stood up to close it, there was an intricate snowflake pattern drawn on it. "You could have at least woken me up."

"You were sleeping so soundly," Jack says, leaning against the couch's arm. "Didn't want to wake you up from your nice dream."

Jamie says nothing, just takes a sip of his coffee. It's blessedly warm, in comparison to Jack's cold presence. Jamie doesn't mind, though. Their knees are touching.

"Wish you guys didn't move to such a boring place," Jack says, after a while. "I'd make it snow in Florida all the time if I could. But hey - your light never goes out. Though North doesn't exactly bring you gifts anymore."

"I'm a little too old for that, I guess," Jamie says, chuckling quietly. A silence descends on both of them. Jamie twiddles his thumbs, anxiously sneaking glances at Jack. The guardian is still looking over the apartment with curiosity, as if everything in it was a marvel. He catches Jamie’s stare, and tilts his head questioningly.

"I-" Jamie says, and then stops. Jack looks at him expectantly, and Jamie takes a deep breath. "I missed you," he whispers, quietly, like a confession.

Jack smiles fondly as he reaches to pull Jamie into another hug. "Missed you too, Jamie," he says to Jamie’s shoulder, his breath cold on Jamie’s neck. "You never forget your first believer."

Jamie wants to say he'll never forget Jack Frost either; that one night when he had made it snow in his room and then dragged him into the most unbelievable experience in his entire life. Jamie knows he won't forget it as long as he lives. The details slip from his mind; he can't remember what the Tooth Fairy or how the streets in his old neighborhood looked like, but he recalls Jack Frost with perfect clarity. He remembers being terrified by the Bogeyman and Jack assuaging that fear.

Jack had made him feel safe. It’s something he didn’t feel often as a kid, with his father working in a different state all those years. Perhaps this is why Jack has such a strong impact on him.

Jamie slowly eases out of the hug to look Jack in the eye. "Can I touch you?"

Jack blinks. "What?"

"I mean." Jamie lets out a breath he didn't know he was holding. "You're here. You're real. I have a hard time wrapping that concept in my head," he admits. "I mean I believe in you but-"

Jack puts his hand over Jamie's free hand. His hands trace snowflake patterns on his palm. "Real enough for you?" he murmurs, grinning as snowflakes begin to peel off from the design on his skin, coming to life.

Jamie puts down his coffee cup, marveling over it. The snowflakes float upwards, and Jamie reaches out to touch them. His hands land on Jack's face. The dancing snowflakes reflect on Jack's blue eyes.

Jamie strokes Jack's cheek. He's so pale - his skin looks like human skin, but it's cold and far too smooth. He's like an ice sculpture. Jamie touches his eyelashes; instinctively Jack closes his eyes. He lets his fingers wander onto Jack's soft pink lips. They're not warm at all; Jamie had imagined if there was one part of Jack that had heat, it would be there.

Impulsively, Jamie leans in to kiss him; Jack tastes like freshly fallen snow and minty toothpaste. His breath is cold but it's not freezing either.

Jack pulls away, a light blush on his face. "What was that?" he says.

"A kiss," Jamie says. "Never had one before?"

Jack gapes at him, clearly at loss at what to say. Jamie thinks it's funny. "You look like you've never kissed anyone ever," he points out.

Jack snaps his mouth shut. "I've been around for more than 300 years; of course I have," he protests indignantly, though his face is still red.

"Right," Jamie says. Privately he thinks of his friend Stacey, who's dating their History professor. He knows about age gaps, but this is a whole thing altogether. Three hundred years, for goodness' sake. There is old and there is immortal. He can't stop his lips from quirking up into a smile.

"What - what are you laughing about?" Jack says, shoving him lightly. He doesn't look mad, just confused and a little peeved. It's adorable. It makes Jamie's smile widen even more, and soon he's fighting the urge to giggle like mad.

"It's just," he says, after he recovers from a silent giggle fit, "you're the worst kind of guy to introduce to parents."

"I am not!" Jack says, sounding so wounded Jamie nearly apologizes. "I am an awesome guy. Parents would love me."

"You're invisible, you bring snow with you everywhere, you're way too old, and you're always traveling," Jamie says, enumerating with his fingers. "It would be a terrible relationship."

Jack scowls. "I have a charming personality," he argues. "I have really nice teeth - the Tooth Fairy can vouch for that. I am awesome with skateboard tricks! I'm also the life of the party. Kids love me."

"You're also really, really hot," Jamie adds. He blushes when Jack stares at him. "You know, for being the guy of ice and snow, I mean."

Jack runs his hand through his hair. "Huh," he says. "No one's told me that one before."

Jamie thinks, it's because the only people who can see you are ten-year-olds and below. Kids don’t exactly have a concept on how much they would want to bang a guy who is straight out of the storybooks.

"It's never going to work out," he says, more to himself than to Jack. Jack hears it, though, and frowns. "What's never going to work out?"

"You and me," Jamie explains, a little embarrassed. "To begin with you don't even like me, of course-"

"But I do like you," Jack interrupts, his expression serious. "You're special to me, Jamie. Why do you think I'm even here?"

Jamie feels his whole face go warm at that. Indeed - Jack has followed him all the way to Buffalo, just to give him a snowball fight. "I mean, not in the way I'd like you to want me," he murmurs. At Jack's confused expression, he shakes his head. Three hundred years old, and with the mentality of a twelve-year-old. He wonders if Jack's ever been interested in anyone like that, and he decides he'd rather not know.

"I don't really get it," Jack says out loud. "But hey. I've watched over you since you were a kid. That's got to be good enough, right?"

Jamie thinks, that counts as stalking, and says, instead, "I think you're missing the point here."

Jack looks at him; really looks at him. It's so intense that Jamie doesn't know where to look, so he focuses on his hands.

"How do you want me to want you?" Jack says, finally.

You, beside me, all the time. Jamie knows it's greedy, and it's not going to happen, ever. The children need Jack Frost, more than Jamie Bennett has ever wanted Jack Frost. "I want you in a human way," he responds, shrugging. "It's selfish and I know it's impossible. You're Jack Frost, and I'm just one in a billion mortals."

"No," Jack says firmly. "You're Jamie Bennett, and if you didn't believe in me I wouldn't be here right now." Jack takes Jamie's hands and squeezes it. "You're my light that never goes out. How else would I know where to find you all the time?"

Jamie lets out a choked, helpless laugh at that, because he never imagined this would happen. He has always thought that Jack would politely but firmly reject his advances. "You don't understand," he says. "I just want to kiss you all the time. We can’t do that.”

Jack stares at him, a little too long. Jamie’s already regretting having said those words, when Jack says, “That’s it?”

Jamie blinks, and says, “What?” but Jack Frost is already leaning in to kiss him, this time with more intent than Jamie can ever imagine.

When they break apart, it’s Jamie’s turn to blush. “W-what was that?” He stammers, and he blushes deeper at Jack’s smirk.

“A kiss,” Jack replies, looking too pleased with himself. “Never had one before?” he adds, teasingly, and Jamie buries his face in his hands.

“You know what I mean,” he mumbles. There’s hope blossoming in his chest and he doesn’t want to think about it right now. He knows Jack isn’t being intentionally cruel, but this all seems too much.

He feels Jack’s hand on his shoulder. “Hey,” he says, soothingly. “Look, don’t think about it too much, okay? We’ll find a way to make this work.” When Jamie pulls his face away from his hands, he’s greeted by Jack’s bright smile. The Tooth Fairy was right - Jack has amazing teeth.

“I like you,” Jack continues. “And you like me. So it’s a win-win sort of situation, right?”

Jamie manages a small laugh. “I guess.”

“And besides,” Jack grin gets a little more impish. “Kissing’s fun. You know I’m really good at having fun, right?”

As Jack pulls him in for another kiss, Jamie decides he’ll worry about things some other time. For now, he’s just going to have some fun.

--