If there was one thing that Jack Frost thought did not suit him, it was being nervous. He hated it with a passion. The way that his hands would just start fidgeting with everything within his grasp and how he'd stumble over his words. Lately that was the one emotion that he'd felt around one particular Guardian when he went to visit him.
As he exited the portal, Jack reached into his pocket to fiddle with the small box that was held inside of it. This felt like such a stupid thing to do. Bunny would start to think that he'd lost his mind because of the near-constant visits by the winter spirit. Now he was about to ask for one of the most ridiculous things that he could ever ask for. He could get anyone to do this but here he was, choosing the one that had held a grudge against him for over fourty years.
Reaching up with his other hand to run it through his hair, he sighed softly then started in one direction. He didn't always know where Aster would be at any given moment. The Warren was huge and the Pooka never seemed to stick to one schedule. The only time you could count on his position was during the Easter rush where he was always seen beside the river of dye painting eggs. During his off-season, he could be anywhere and doing anything.
Nerves got the better of the young Guardian and he took to the air, riding the gentle breeze. He quickly checked the river and found nothing, getting similar results at the field of flowers which would produce the eggs needed for Easter. Nothing at his burrow or the garden either. Jack finally landed with a slight scowl, letting out a small noise of frustration. Leave it to the irritating furball to go missing just when he'd actually got the courage to come down and ask for something so -
Bunny's voice made the winter spirit turn around suddenly, fingers that had been fumbling in his pocket withdrawing quickly and making him drop the box he'd been playing with. Muttering a small curse under his breath, he bent over to pick it up before his friend could, holding it to his chest where he could feel his own rapidly beating heart.
Straightening himself, he looked up into the brilliant green eyes of E. Aster Bunnymund. The one who had nearly died trying to save Jack's life and who had become one of his very dearest friends.
And who now had his heart tied up in knots.
"Don't do that!" Jack said, letting out an irritated huff as he pointed his staff at Bunny with one hand. It didn't take long for him to relax slightly, letting out a soft laugh. "You haven't done that to me since we met in that alley all those years ago."
The Pooka chuckled and gave a small nod. "Sorry about that. Thought you might have heard me comin'." He was being honest and the winter spirit had the decency to shrug apologetically which Aster didn't miss judging by how his whiskers twitched. Jack had started to notice the little things, like how he'd try to hide his amusement behind trembling whiskers or ears that angled a certain way. "What can I do for ya today? I was just checkin' on somethin' elsewhere in the Warren."
Shaking the box in his hand, Jack nodded toward it. "I came here to ask a favour, actually. I need your help with something and I thought you might be the best at this." It wasn't a complete lie, just a small one. North would have been okay to do it if not a little rough, Tooth might have been afraid to actually hurt him. Sandy would be too gentle. In Jack's mind, it had to be Bunny that did it.
Before he let himself think up some other excuse, the young Guardian held out the box for Bunny to take. It was something very simple, small but delicate. Sitting on a velvet cushion inside was an earring that had a carefully crafted icicle that resembled the crown that he now wore. It was one of the first things he'd made that actually kept its form without much effort, looking more like it was made of glass than ice. The cold betrayed the material used and Aster could obviously tell that it wasn't just some human-made trinket.
"You're lookin' to pierce your ears?" Bunny said finally, lifting up the box a little then holding it down again. He traced over the ice with one of his nails then pulled it away quickly, making Jack wonder if he was worried he'd scratch it. When his eyes looked up at the winter spirit again, they weren't teasing or even amused, just curious. "And you're askin' if I could do it for ya."
Nodding his affirmative, Jack leaned on his staff with a bright smile. "You know I can't ask anyone else. They'd never do it and I'm really only looking for one ear to be pierced. Just something to...change it up."
This time there was an obvious snort of amusement from the Pooka who closed up the box again to keep what was inside safe. "Like ya haven't been changin' it up so much lately. Almost like ya got hooked on doin' it once North gave you that new outfit." Bunny tucked the box into his bandolier then dropped to all fours.
Jack didn't need prompting at all as he automatically took to the wind and followed his friend to where his home was. It was always a shock to know that Aster had a home with an door that had a doorknob, chairs and sofas filling a sitting area and a plush bed made up mostly of cushions off to one side. The floor was carpeted, not with a thick rug but enough to cover what was obviously dirt beneath. The walls had been decorated with paint that looked old and cracked but still showing off the bright flower designs proudly.
Bunny shifted to walk upright again, making his way to the kitchen which was found through an archway off to the side of the sitting area. Jack was stopped mid-step before his friend spoke. "Not over there, we're gonna do it in here," Bunny said, motioning toward the kitchen. "Easier than me draggin' things out there."
Shrugging, the young Guardian entered the kitchen and sat down while he let out a soft breath. He was only slightly nervous. Having a hole made through one of his ears was definitely not going to be anywhere near as bad as some of the things he'd gone through. "Have you done this before? I don't see any earrings on your ears."
Though the Pooka had his head stuck in a cupboard, he emerged with the smallest pot that Jack had ever seen. This he filled with a small amount of water then set on the wood stove which he started prodding to life again with new wood and the embers still smoldering inside. "I've seen it done. Not in a long while but I've never thought about doin' it myself."
A grin tugged at Jack's lips and he set his staff in front of him, twisting it idly with his fingers. "You've got a lot of ear to cover, Cottontail. It might be swiss cheese by the time you're done," he said, a playful laugh escaping him.
It was almost as if Aster had heard this somewhere before and he rolled his eyes as he went to a drawer. Pulling it open, he took out what was very obviously a pincushion and pulled out one of the needles. Jack wasn't sure he was doing it for dramatic effect to remind the young Guardian what was going to happen or not but Bunny rolled the needle between his thumb and forefinger before turning back to the stove. He dropped the pin into the pot and left it uncovered, shifting back to rest against the counter opposite the stove.
"I like keepin' it simple. I don't need a ring catchin' on a tree branch or gettin' snagged somewhere," he said, reaching over to scratch at his other arm. Eventually the Pooka shrugged then pulled out the box he still had, holding it out in front of him and turning it over in his hand. "At least you don't have to worry about that. Just never thought you'd be the type to go for somethin' like this."
As Bunny set the box on the table, Jack set aside his staff so it didn't get in the way later. He shrugged, his eyes subconsciously watching his friend's every movement. Ever since the battle with Old Man Winter had been won, the winter spirit had struggled to come to terms with what he now realised in his heart. He sighed softly, leaning back in his chair and putting his hands loosely on his legs. "I just thought it'd look good."
This time Aster said nothing and the winter spirit looked up to watch as the small pot was drained over what looked like a strainer the Pooka used for removing tea leaves. After a moment, Aster picked up the needle then moved in front of Jack, giving him an expectant look. "Which ear did ya want it in and where?"
Jack reached up to tug at his left earlobe, quickly dropping his hand again. "There, just where any other earring would go," he said, grabbing the box and opening it. The young Guardian pressed his lips together tightly, looking down at what would soon be hanging in his ear. It wasn't that he was nervous about it, not in the least, it was just...
His head was inclined upwards gently by a hand that had been slipped under his chin. Jack tried desperately not to let his cheeks colour and he very nearly dropped what he was holding. It was the proximity which got to him. From where Bunny was, he could feel the warmth of that soft fur.
Fingers rubbed gently at the teen's earlobe, making a small shiver go through him. It was a rather intimate touch, something he wasn't used to feeling. The light touch of the needle's tip grounded him again, the surface feeling warm but not scalding hot. Bunny mumured something which sounded like "Brace yourself" which gave Jack only a brief moment to shift one hand to hold onto something while the needle began to sink into the soft flesh of his ear.
That "something" he'd grabbed was Aster's fur and Jack didn't even realise it as he squeezed his eyes shut. It hurt but it wasn't life-ending, just as he expected. Before he knew it, his friend had worked the needle clean through and the Pooka reached down to pull the earring from the box Jack still held. Normally they would use studs until things healed but, being a spirit like he was, this tiny hole would seal up quickly.
Bunny removed the needle then replaced it with the earring that Jack had chosen. He heard the clasp close and then felt the odd weight of the ice dangling from his ear. It was only then that he realised that he'd been tugging at Aster's pelt the entire time. He held his breath and retracted his hand like he'd touched a fire, tilting his head up just to bump his nose against Bunny's chin.
Seemingly amused by the awkwardness that his friend was experiencing, the Pooka pulled away just enough with a chuckle to let Jack raise his head but they were still so close together. It was close enough that the winter spirit could swear that he could feel the fur tickling against his lips.
It really wasn't his imagination. He really could feel fur but also warmth against his lips.
Was this what a kiss was like?
He only got to return it for a brief moment before Aster pulled away a bit more this time, both of them letting out a nervous laugh. Jack opened his mouth then closed it again. He was going to try and deny it, as if it were a simple mistake that they'd kissed. In reality, it told him what he'd wanted to know, the question he didn't even get the chance to ask himself.
There was no resistance as Bunny leaned in again for a more mutual kiss, the winter spirit feeling the other's hand under his chin again. It wasn't too deep, not too intimate, it was just what he needed.
The second time that Aster pulled away, neither of them looked nervous or rattled. It was almost like Jack could read the amount of relief on Bunny's face. Exactly how long had his friend hid this from him? It was an accident but it was a happy one which caused all of the winter spirit's worries to fade away. It didn't matter how long Bunny had held out. Jack would never have returned his feelings the way he wanted to until now.
"You weren't gonna just get me to do this and run, were ya?" Bunny asked quietly, his eyes hopeful. "Sure I can't convince ya to stay for a bit of tea and to just...talk?"
Jack laughed softly at this, tipping his head to one side as he shifted in his seat. "Right, just talk," he teased, earning a snort of amusement from the Pooka. His smile turned soft and more genuine as he nodded. "Yeah, I think I'd like that."
For the first time since the battle ended, Jack was truly sure of what he felt.