It completely melts your heart.
The thing that brought the two of you together. That one song, that single, insignificant line that you had sung so long ago that had led you to seeing him. The first domino that had fallen in a long line of wonderful events.
You’re smiling at the fact that he’s finally doing this trademark action to you, but it’s tearing you apart at the same time.
To know that this is the first and last time, that he won’t ever nip at your nose again.
At least, not on purpose. Or not knowing who you are, if he does decide to mess specifically with you.
You don’t want him to see you cry, but you can’t help it. This is just too much. You feel your bottom lip begin to quiver, tears blurring your vision.
He stops, the wide, mischievous smile that you’ve grown to love spreading across his face. It only stays for a few brief moments though, vanishing the moment he sees the tears welling up in your eyes.
In a flurry of wind, he flips right-side-up, his bare feet now planted firmly on the ground. He clasps his hands onto your shoulders, sending a small chill through your body, his eyes connecting with yours.
His eyebrows are furrowed in a worried expression.
“What’s wrong?” he asks you, his voice laden with concern.
That’s it. You really can’t take it anymore. The tears stream down your cheeks like miniature waterfalls, your body shaking with heavy sobs. You bow your head to unsuccessfully hide your face from him, not wanting him to see you cry. You try to wipe the tears away as they come, but every time you manage to clear your face, more tears quickly replace the others, endlessly falling.
He’s utterly confused. “I don’t get it, I’m fine no—”
But your tears continue to come.
Jack sighs, his shoulders dropping in defeat. He pulls you close to him, wrapping his arms around you in a tight hug. He leans his head on top of yours, completing the embrace as you bury your face into his chest, gripping onto the back of his hoodie, never wanting to let go.
He rests one hand on the back of your head, whispering things like “shhhh” and “it’s going to be all right” to you.
You can hear the blush in his voice.
As usual, he’s a little embarrassed about showing his kind and sensitive side.
Nevertheless, it makes you smile, his soothing voice and the hug eventually calming you down.
“Now,” he says after clearing his voice, putting you at arm’s distance away from him, his hands still resting on your shoulders. “What’s up? It’s gotta be something big, ‘cause you’ve never been like this before.”
He suddenly looks surprised, then squints at you, leaning in a little.
“It’s something to do with me, isn’t it?”
You slowly nod, unable to break your gaze from his.
“All right then,” he says, sighing and straightening up a bit. “Go on. What is it?”
You begin to tell him everything, your voice shaky at first. You start from when you had left him to go get the healing serum from the Leprechaun, this time including the parts about Pitch and good little Jamie (but still excluding your conclusions about the moon’s plans), and then the events at the Pole. The smile brought to his face on hearing about Jamie disappears, giving way to a frown as he learns of his fate unless the harsh, tragic cure is administered to him…
“I won’t do it,” he states defiantly, crossing his arms.
“But Jack, if you don’t, you’ll—!”
He shakes his head, stopping you in your tracks. “I’d rather become this pointless, wandering entity than forget about you.”
You blush and smile, flattered. But you know that you can’t let him become that, to live out eternity in that horrible state.
He’d be unable to think and actively love, too, according to what Pitch and North have said. No cognitive functions. He’d still love you, but it’d be a stagnant love in a memory, resting deep in his heart, not outward and living. He’d remember you, but even if he were to remain around you for the rest of your days, he wouldn’t be able to speak a word, offer an expression, to build on the love…to even recognize you as the object of his devotion.
Besides, the children need him as he is. They need their guardian.
“Jack,” you quitely say, placing your hand on his forearm. Your eyes say it all. That, even though it hurts like nothing else, you won’t let that happen to him, that you’ll eventually be okay.
That, because of how much you love him, you can’t let that happen to him.
His expression softens. His arms drop down to his sides as you pull back your hand.
“How long do I have?”
“A little less than a day,” you say, looking over and out the window.
The sun is already high in the sky. A clock that doesn’t tick, silently reminding you of the diminishing amount of time that you have left with him.
The world seems so sad and quiet. As if it’s sympathizing with you.
At the same time, though, it goes on as if nothing is wrong.
“Well, let’s make the most of it then,” he says as he smirks, that mischievous look returning to his face as he takes your hand in his.
Before you can react, he has snatched up his staff and bolted out the door, practically dragging you behind him.
“B-be back in a bit!” you call back to North and Tooth, who raise their arms in surprise as they begin to go after you, their calls and questions stuck in their agape mouths.
You and Jack weave in and out of elves and yetis, with you yelling the directions to the fireplace room—and thus exit—ahead of you to Jack. You’re forced to pull him into the right direction a couple of times to prevent him from wandering off to get a better look at the workshop. You don’t think North would appreciate that and don’t want to end up on the Naughty list, if you aren’t already on it. Not like the massive number of yetis would let the two of you pass. But you’d like to avoid that situation.
Jack is laughing the entire time. So alive, having so much fun. You can’t help but smile along.
When the two of you make it outside, Jack pauses, grinning even wider.
He closes his eyes, chin slightly elevated as he takes a deep breath in and out of the crisp, cool air. He scrunches his toes a few times. You know what he’s doing, as you’ve done the same thing so many times in the past. You love the feeling of snow under your bare feet, as well.
This seems to only energize him more, his eyes shining, lips curled into the biggest mischievous smirk that you’ve ever seen, revealing his set of perfect, white teeth.
“Ready?” he asks.
You tighten your grasp on his hand.
“Bring it,” you taunt, feeling the smile on your own face widen.
“Do the honors? I think you know where I’m heading,” he says as he cocks his head to the side, waving his hand in a “go ahead” motion.
You take a deep breath and face out into the canyon. The wind begins to pick up, making fallen snowflakes dance in the air once again.
“Hey, Wind!” you call out into it, your heart racing in expectation of what is to happen next, momentarily remembering your first day with Jack. “Take us home!”
And with a laugh from Jack, the two of you are lifted up high into the air.