The humans were having too much fun to notice the mysterious footprints appearing around them and the extra snowballs whizzing through the air. I had just blocked one of Jack's snowballs by shielding myself with my wing, but when I moved it again, a wild shot from Jim hit me right in the stomach. Jack started laughing so hard that he didn't even see my next attack coming until it splattered across his face. I dodged immediately, using Liz as a human shield until she darted sideways to hide herself behind the truck. Jim gave chase and I assumed Jack would come with him, so I ran around the vehicle as well. Suddenly a mound of snow fell straight down onto my head and I looked up in surprise to see Jack floating above me, pointing and laughing.
“No flying!” I yelled and leapt up to grab his leg and yank him back down.
I must have yanked a little too hard, because he gave a short cry just before being slammed face first into the powdery snow on the ground. For a split second I felt sorry, but then I quickly moved to fling more snow on top of him as I laughed victoriously. As they chased each other on another lap around the truck, Jim and Liz passed right through my body, blinding me for an instant; and Jack used that opportunity to hook his staff around my ankle and pull me off balance. I landed flat on my back with my wings sprawled out and my body planted deep into the snow. Before I could even try to roll myself out of the divot, Jack pounced on me and pinned my arms out to the side.
“Look,” he laughed, “Now you're a snow angel!”
With his hands busy holding my own down, I knew he couldn't drop snow on me; but I still had one other option to deliver the last strike. With the edge of my wing, I flung a clump of snow towards Jack and it smashed against his cheek, clinging there for a moment before dropping right onto my own face. As I shook my head vigorously to get the snow off, we both started laughing. The sound of it mingled with the playful laughter from the humans a few feet away as they spun around each other, trying to shove snow down the back of the other's jacket. Suddenly Liz let out a yelp, and Jack and I both turned our heads to see what was happening. The woman had slipped on some ice and was about to fall, but Jim bent and caught her half way down, holding her dipped backwards in both arms the way he used to do when they took salsa lessons before their wedding. They froze in this position, panting and staring at each other in surprise. Slowly, he lifted her back up to her feet and brought one of his hands up to cradle the back of her head. My eyes wide in anticipation, I watched him battle his cautiousness with courage and lean in to give his wife a soft peck on the lips. As soon as he started to pull away again, Liz threw her arms around his shoulders and drew him into a passionate kiss. My mouth fell open and I blinked a few times to make sure what I was seeing was real.
“Hon,” Jim gasped as soon as they parted for air, “Before I go, I wanted to give you these.” He fumbled his fingers into his jacket pocket and pulled out the clover earrings, setting them carefully into Liz's palm.
Her face lit up as she got a closer look at the gift, “They're so beautiful, dear! I really love them...thank you!” She captured him in another long kiss, then grabbed the collar of his jacket with her empty hand, “The roads are probably going to be really icy today, love. Why don't you just stay home?”
“That...” his surprised face changed into a large grin, “That sounds really nice.”
The couple linked hands and started walking back towards the house, leaving me still lying in the snow with Jack Frost sitting on top of me. I turned my head towards the winter spirit again and he stared back down at me, looking entirely smug from his victory.
“I don't believe it,” I whispered in awe.
“Yeah, that was the whole problem,” he chuckled, “But you believe it now, right?”
I nodded slowly, “I don't know how, but it actually worked.”
“Well, I knew it would work,” he grinned, “Love and fun make a good combination, don't you think?”
Still distracted by the miracle that had just taken place, I furrowed my brow and studied Jack's face, “How did you know? How did you know love could still exist?”
“Because!” he burst, as though he thought it was completely obvious, “Because...”
His expression hovered somewhere between determination and desperation, and his focus darted from my eyes to my mouth. It was a look I had seen on a million different faces in my mind, but I almost didn't recognize it without the feeling which usually accompanied it. Then I felt it – the fluttering heart, the shortened breath, the tunnel vision – only it wasn't echoing from a vision, it was purely mine. I was so distracted by the sensation that I nearly forgot what came next, until I felt Jack's icy hands leave my arms to lightly cup the sides of my face. He closed his eyes, so I closed mine too; and a moment later his lips were against mine, chilling them and pulling them into a very gentle kiss.
For a couple moments there was nothing in the world but us, my senses only registering the pure excitement in my own chest and the cool pressure of his lips. Then a floodgate seemed to open and I was bombarded by a deluge of feelings and voices and images and tones that overwhelmed my senses. Over it all was the deafening alarm that only resonated through me on the very rare occasion that destiny was about to unite two true soul mates fated to be together for an epic love story. The alarm came with its usual vision; but instead of a place, time, and a couple faces, I simply saw the view from my own eyes. I hadn't even realized they were open, staring up in a daze at Jack's alarmed face. Blinking rapidly, I was gradually able to regain control of myself and shift my extra senses into the background, like I used to have to do back when my powers were strong.
“Cupid?” Jack gripped my face harder once I finally focused on him again.
“Jack?” I sat up, immediately feeling the new energy in my body and the thickness return to my wings.
Everything in my senses pointed to the younger spirit, and my automatic instinct was to put an arrow through whomever my senses directed me toward. Out of pure reflex, I jumped back to hover at a good distance from my target and reached for my bow; but as soon as my hand touched the wood, I stopped and looked back down at Jack in confusion.
He stood up slowly and narrowed his eyes in a sly smirk, “What are you going to do, shoot me? It's a little late for that, angel. I told you, it doesn't always take an arrow.”
Sure enough, I could read everything he was feeling and it made me blush, “Thank you, Jack. You did it. You brought my powers back.”
“I didn't do anything,” he protested, “I've felt like this for days, and you couldn't sense it – it was your feelings that brought your powers back.”
Normally the feelings I experienced weren't my own; but Jack was right, these were too pure and affected me too physically – they were definitely mine, surging through my own heart in a dizzying flutter of anticipation, nerves, and contentment. I was embarrassed that he could read me so well, even though it was only fair; his own attractions were as clear as a picture to my resurrected powers.
“Stop gawking,” he flew up to hover in front of me, “Just admit you like me too.”
I couldn't help but smile with relief. Now it all made sense. Now I knew why the sound of his laughter made me happy; why eye contact with him made my breath catch in my chest; why being close to him felt so comfortable; why a single kiss from him could make me believe in love again.
“I like you too,” I admitted quietly, lifting my hand to brush it through his soft hair, “I guess love and fun really do go well together.”
“I told you so,” he smirked, catching my hand and using it to pull me in for another, more confident kiss.
This time I got to feel the whole thing and it made my skin tingle in satisfaction. I kissed back with just as much enthusiasm and I could feel him smiling so widely that he couldn't even purse his lips anymore. I tilted my mouth away and rested my forehead against his cool one, closing my eyes and basking in the feelings we were giving off. For a few more seconds we huddled contently against each other in our weightless pose, then he squeezed my hand which he was still holding.
“You know what else I told you?” he murmured and I opened my eyes to find that mischievous look had returned to his face, “That we would have a rematch as soon as your powers were back. And now your powers are back and we have to tell the others that the mission was a success...preferably as soon as possible.”
“Race you to the North Pole?” I suggested, untangling my hand from his and backing up a few feet.
“Last one there has to tell the kangaroo about the new snowfall,” Jack raised the stakes, then sprang into motion just before shouting, “Go!”
I chuckled and shook my head as I watched him steal his head start, knowing full well that I would already be waiting for him at the North Pole by the time he finally arrived. To think I might have missed out on this by blinding myself to everything except the routine of my work. Having my powers stripped away had given me the chance to find what I had been missing and rebuild my center, only now it was more than love – it was the bright combination of love and joy.
When I returned to my castle, I had a warm reunion with my cherubs and apologized to them for the frightening ordeal of losing our powers. I happily promised to handle at least a few cases a day on my own, while the cherubs would continue to carry out the rest based on my orders. That night, the moon and I had a long talk and I came to realize that everything had happened for a reason. If my powers had been at full strength, I never would have fallen for Jack in a natural way; and if the moon had told me this, it would have spoiled the surprise. It was comforting to know that even when he wasn't directly guiding me, my old friend was still watching out for me.
On Valentine's Day, I was exceptionally busy; but I set aside some time to meet Jack at Jamie's school, where I made sure that the specially-designed Valentine card had the intended effect on young Zoey. At home, Jamie and Sophie's lives have become everything Jack had hoped they would be. Now the family has grown closer and shares more time – and more fun – together, and nobody ever mentioned a therapist again. I still check on Jim and Liz Bennett's book often, and although some of the leafs had nearly disintegrated away at the edges, the newer pages are all thick and clean and written in bold ink. Jack peeks at it occasionally as well whenever he visits, but usually we just curl up with volumes of the Frost family's love stories and take turns reading them to each other. Our favorite thing in the whole library, though, is a thin little tome – only a couple chapters so far – with a stamp of a familiar heart-covered snowflake just below the names on the title page: Jack Frost and Cupid.