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AU plotbunny popped into my head on the drive in to work this morning. And since it's been slo-o-ow this morning, it got written. No idea if this is a oneshot, or if it's going to get more later.

The Other Side Of The Ice
by K. Stonham
first released 16th July 2013

Everything was divided into Before The Ice, and After The Ice.

Before the ice, Jamie had been normal. Brown hair, brown eyes, okay, maybe a little odd given his interest in cryptids, myths, and supernatural, but everyone had just written that off to a possible future as a college professor.

After the ice, streaks of white bled into his hair, his eyes focused on things that weren't really there, and the normally garrulous teenager shut up like a longneck clam.

"You're worrying them," the silver ghost said.

Jamie studiously ignored the apparition sitting on his bed. Sine, cosine, tangent. Sine, cosine, tangent...

Jack sighed gustily and flopped down onto the comforter. "Ignoring me won't make me go away, Jamie."

"You're not real," Jamie said under his breath.

Jack rolled over onto his stomach, blue eyes examining the teenager at the desk. "The guy who's spent his whole life looking for ghosts and yeti finally gets a glimpse into the supernatural world, and he's denying it." He tsk-tsk-tsked through his teeth. "Disappointing me here, Bennett."

"Go away, Jack."

"Mm, nope." Jack didn't even pretend to consider it. "You're the first person who's seen me in three hundred years. And that happens to be my pond you almost drowned in, so the rules say I gotta make sure you're okay."

"There are rules?" Despite himself, Jamie looked up, interested, until he remembered that he wasn't supposed to be talking to people who weren't actually there.

"Sure there're rules. And, no, they're not more like guidelines." Jack propped himself up, one hand under his chin, the other tracing swirls on the coverlet. Silver frost followed his touch. "I got the whole winter and watery death and especially that pond thing. My responsibility, y'know?"

Jamie's eyes were on his math textbook, but his pencil was still over the paper. He could be thinking. Or listening.

"So, since the ice broke under you - stupid trying to skate that early in the season, by the way - you're under my jurisdiction. Or protection. Whichever."

"Protection?" Jamie asked, almost against his will.

Blue eyes shadowed, looked down. "There are things," Jack said slowly, "that are a lot worse than drowning in winter. Dark things. And people who can see them are fair prey." The words sounded like they were being dragged unwillingly out of him. Like he had personal experience of the dark things.

"Prey." Jamie didn't like that word.

"Prey." Jack looked up again, and his smile was lopsided and curiously tight. "There are bad ways to die, Jamie. Drowning is... benign, in comparison."

Jamie remembered the dull crack of the ice, the sudden downward plunge, his skates weighing him down. The ice water had soaked through his jacket and clothes in an instant. He'd gasped in shock, thrashing, trying to fight his way to the surface. But his fingers had brushed only the underside of solid ice. The air and water in his lungs had burned cold, like frozen knives. His blood had rushed in his ears. After a few minutes, though, it had all drifted away, like he was resting in a nice cool cocoon.

He remembered his eyes drifting closed.

He couldn't swear the hand reaching out for him hadn't been clothed in a blue sweatshirt. But he also couldn't swear he hadn't imagined it.

He'd woken, the better part of a week later, in the hospital. With a blue-white winter ghost perched on a wooden crook, peering down curiously at Jamie.

Jack hadn't left since.

"Jamie?" His mom knocked on the doorframe and stepped into his room, carrying a small tray. "I thought you'd like a snack. How's the homework going?"

Jamie tore his gaze away from Jack Frost, and managed a weak smile for his mother. "Dismally," he told her as she set the sandwich and hot chocolate down on his desk.

"Hmm." Her fingers combed through his weird-colored hair as she leaned over his shoulder, looking at the equations. "Over my head, too, I'm afraid. Why don't you call Monty and see if he's free for a tutoring session?"

"Yeah." Jamie hadn't really talked to his friends much - or they hadn't talked to him - since the accident. He didn't know if it was because he was too wierd for them now, seeing ghosts and spirits and all that, or if they just didn't know what to say to him. "Yeah, maybe I should." He'd only been falling further and further behind in math over the last two months.

"You do that." His mom straightened, and shivered a little. "You should keep the window closed," she chided, stepping over and taking care of it. "You're just letting the heat leak out, and we're not made of money, you know!" She turned and brushed at the frost patterns on his comforter. Her fingers passed right through Jack, who winced and shifted out of the way. "You'd think you'd gotten enough cold for a lifetime, Jamie."

Jamie looked at the comforter, at Jack. At the frost patterns that apparently weren't just his imagination. Jack met his eyes levelly, one eyebrow quirked.

"Yeah," Jamie said, not knowing what to think. "I'll try to be better about that. Thanks, Mom."

"Love you, sweetie," she said, walking out the door. "Don't forget to call Monty."

Never looking away from Jamie, Jack reached out and tapped the side of Jamie's mug.

The steam rising off the drink vanished.

Jamie swallowed.

"Prey?" he asked, voice hoarse and unsteady.

"Prey," said Jack.

October 2017

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