You kind of wish someone had a stopwatch.
You just broke a world record for sprinting the distance to your house in the snow, the chilly night air biting at your face.
At least, that’s how it felt.
You burst in through the door, praying that he’s still there, still hanging on.
Much to your relief, Jack Frost is exactly as you left him.
You take a seat on the couch by his torso and pat his cheek in hopes that this attempt to wake him up will be successful. Which it isn’t. He doesn’t show even the slightest reaction, in fact.
“C’mon, Jack,” you say as you take out the blue vial that the Leprechaun gave you. You wave it in front of his closed eyes. “You need to take your medicine. It’ll help you. Please?”
You sigh and cup the vial in both of your hands, shoulders slumped. You finally have something that can help him, but you’re not sure on how you’re going to get this stuff into his system so it can work its magic.
You look back over at him. If it weren’t for the pained expression, he could be sleeping. Your eyes trail down his features, from his hair to his nose, from there to his lips.
You get an idea.
The last kiss you shared started this all. You’re hesitant to give him another, but it’s worth a shot. If it means getting his mouth open just enough to pour the vial’s contents down his throat…
“I’m so sorry if this hurts you more,” you whisper as you lean in, closing your eyes out of fear.
And your lips meet his limp ones.
Unlike usual, his lips are feverishly hot, no sign of his normal coldness found anywhere. You almost want to pull back. It’s starting to burn.
Then you feel him twitch and begin to kiss back.
Surprised, you continue on, bearing through the unbearable heat.
He breaks the kiss, and you sit back, your heart racing as hope courses through your veins.
His lips are still slightly parted. His eyelids flutter and slowly lift, unveiling his dazzling blue eyes. They seem to have lost their lively shine, though, and are glossed over to match his sickly condition.
His mouth curls into a weak smile.
“You’re a real knockout, you know that?” he croaks.
“Don’t talk,” you command him. Still smiling, he nods. You fiddle with the stopper on the vial, a small pop accompanying the successful open. The smell of pine and clear air fills the room.
You hold the vial to Jack’s lips, putting your arm behind his back to help him sit up a bit. “Drink up. Courtesy of the Leprechaun.”
After briefly raising his eyebrows in astonishment, Jack closes his eyes again and slightly opens his mouth, frowning a little—like a kid being forced to take cough medicine. You tilt the vial up, a clear yet silvery liquid tumbling from it.
Once it has been emptied, you hold onto it in your hand tightly as you watch Jack gulp down its contents.
“Not…bad…” he exhales, relaxing as you set him back down onto the couch, his eyes still closed.
It has almost an instant effect on him.
You can feel his temperature rapidly decrease back to normal as you take your hand out from behind his back. Blue slowly creeps back to its usual places—his fingers, toes and so on—as his breathing becomes far less labored.
He’s unconscious once again, but you can deal with that now. You feel yourself relax along with him, a sigh of relief escaping you.
But things aren’t still completely resolved. You know that a trip to the North Pole is still necessary. Jack isn’t completely cured.
And you know that you can find much-needed answers there.
So you pack up a few things, such as a couple of books and a change of clothes (even though you know the Pole will have spares). Then it hits you.
Where’s Jack’s staff?
In all of your panic, you had lost track of a very important item.
Remembering that you had heard it hit your porch floor after that fateful kiss, you head back outside.
Your eyes scan the floor, searching for the magic staff.
The first light of dawn shoots out over the land as the sun peeks out over the horizon. It settles down right on the main body of the staff, which is laying just feet up and to your right.
You walk over to it and bend over to pick it up.
But thin, long, grey fingers wrap around it before yours do.
Your heart pounds against your chest. Seriously? You’ve gotta be kidding me. The icing on the cake.
You straighten up.
And your eyes meet Pitch’s, the harsh gold in them accentuated by the morning light.
He switches the lifeless staff from one hand to the other, grinning evilly.
“Well, hello again.”