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02 March 2014 @ 01:49 am
RotG Jack & Sandy Fic  
I'm in an odd mood lately, so y'all are getting some odd fics? *grins sheepishly*

Title: Without Voice To Speak
Rating: G
Fandom: Rise of the Guardians
Characters/Pairings: Jack Frost, Sanderson Mansnoozie, mention of Jamie, North and Bunny. Jack & Sandy, Jack & Jamie
Summary: Jack and Sandy, two spirits long used to silence, share some triumphs and carefully work out how to speak between them
Wordcount: 3376
Warnings/Notes: Emotional H/C, themes of isolation, muteness and illiteracy, and tooth-rotting fluff -_-;
Disclaimer: Not mine

Without Voice To Speak

"Hey Sandman! Mind if I join you for a bit?"

A gust of wind snatched playfully at the edges of his sand cloud, and Sandy looked up with a bright little thrill of happiness at the voice, waving a greeting up to where the frost spirit bobbed cheerfully above him. Jack grinned back, swooping down to just above the cloud, but caught himself in a wobbling hover on his staff just before landing, glancing questioningly to Sandy for permission to go further. Still so hesitant sometimes, was Jack. Still so careful not to overstep his welcome.

Tch. Well, that wouldn't do. Jack's welcome couldn't be overstepped, not where Sandy was concerned. And perhaps it was about time to start showing him that, hmm?

The Sandman grinned, a wry little flicker of mischief that the Spirit of Fun recognised right away, but Jack had no time to do more than realise it before a stubby golden arm had reached up to snag his hoodie and yank him unceremoniously down into the cloud's embrace. He landed with a startled oof, but that lasted all of two seconds before he shot back up with a whoop and tackled Sandy down into his cloud's folds in turn. Sandy laughed silently, throwing Jack back up into the air with deceptive strength, before catching his arm and pulling him back in for a (somewhat) gentler landing. Jack caught himself on the cloud's edge, teetering precariously for a minute, before the combination of a helpful wind and Sandy's arm brought him safely in.

He squinted warily at Sandy for a second, eyes twinkling and suspicious while Sandy did his very best innocent impression, before giving up with a shrug of exasperation and plopping himself down to finally sit beside Sandy, setting his staff carefully to one side.

"I'm going to trust you not to knock the sand out from under me, here," the frost spirit cautioned, eyes still laughing but with maybe a hint of something more serious under it. "What was that, Sandman? Since when do you come over all tricky?"

Sandy raised an eloquent eyebrow at that, the reins of his sandstreams finding their way back into his hands, and Jack grinned sheepishly, remembering all the myriad instances of Sandy's playfulness in their first few meetings. His silence made it difficult to recognise sometimes, Sandy knew, a silent whoop so much less potent than an audible cry of joy, but Jack had been partner to his trickery enough times that he ought to know by now.

And did, Sandy thought, when Jack elbowed him conspiratorially in the side and winked in rueful remembrance. Jack did know. He smiled back at the other spirit, ever-warmed by the irrepressible mirth in Jack's eyes, and conceded that Jack probably knew better than anyone what mischief lay beneath the Sandman's placid, rotund exterior. Jack had never yet failed to gleefully invite himself into silent pranks more suited to their youngest than their most ancient member, and seemed to harbour no surprise at all at Sandy's tricksy streak.

Well, as the Spirit of Fun, that was only to be expected. But Sandy had long begun to suspect that it had more to do with Jack and with him than it did with the centers that defined their working selves. There was a warmth in a shared mirth that was more than duty and mutual nature, and Sandy rather thought Jack felt so too.

"... Earth to Sandman?" Jack said suddenly, side-eyeing him carefully where Sandy was busy smiling absently into the distance, and Sandy blinked hurriedly. He shook himself, a grimace of apology crossing his round features, and turned his attention back to his guest with all due diligence.

Jack grinned at him, a little smirk at his distraction and a little sliver of happiness at the renewed attention, before the smile fell and the oddest expression came over his face. Sandy stared, a quiver of half-alarmed curiosity creeping through him, as Jack's face flicked rapidly through nervousness to shyness to courage to determination to a bright, blank smile that covered over the rest like a snow drift covered the ground. Sandy stiffened, vibrating upright with more than a touch of alarm, when Jack abruptly looked away and started picking nervously at the threads of his trousers.

"So," Jack started, carefully not looking Sandy's way. "Um. I've been meaning to ask you something for a while? And I wondered if you maybe had a minute around now? If you're not busy or ..."

Sandy dropped the sandstreams unceremoniously, leaning instantly and insistently into Jack's side and resting a small, careful hand on his arm. Jack's head shot up in startlement, blue eyes wide as he took in the concern on Sandy's face, and then his whole face creased into a strange mix of joy and ill-concealed pain. Sandy, who had some idea now where such things came from, who had some inkling of how long Jack had been alone and silent, only pressed his hand that little closer in response. Gentle, not a warrior's strength, but firm enough to be unmistakable in its presence.

"Yeah," Jack murmured, looking down at him. "I guess you do have time, huh?"

Sandy nodded fiercely, and then gave a rueful little shrug, gesturing to his head with his free hand so that Jack could focus on the flickers of thought-sand above it. Sandy kept it slow this time, remembering their first somewhat disastrous conversation, and merely repeated two symbols a couple of times for Jack's sake. A golden clock face, and a globe. Jack's brow furrowed in concentration for a second, before a bright, happy smile dawned across him.

"All the time in the world?" he tried, soft and warm, and Sandy smiled his best reassuring smile as he nodded, patting lightly at the chilled arm beneath his hand.

Oh yes. He had all the time in the world for this friend. Let it never be doubted again.

Jack fidgeted for a moment at that, glancing away while his instinctive flush of pleasure faded a bit, and Sandy gave him that moment freely, shuffling back a little to give him some space. They were more experienced with silence, they two, than perhaps most anyone else, and there were times when that mutual understanding was a balm between them, a shared secret that brought comfort in the spaces where their words had so often failed them before. Sandy gave Jack those few seconds to recover himself, their silence warmer and more golden than many before, and simply rested beside his friend.

"I've been thinking," Jack spoke up, soft and careful beside him, but no longer nervous. No longer quivering with the fear of being ignored. Sandy leaned against him encouragingly, tilting his head up to better catch the flurries of expression across that open face. Jack grimaced faintly, a touch of shyness never completely eradicated, but forged ahead regardless. "Okay. Bear with me. Me and Jamie, we've been practicing my reading? I mean, I'd picked up some over the years, but I tended to be moving around too much to really sit down with it, you know? But Jamie can see me, and he's been explaining his favourite books and stuff, and sometimes I popped in while he was doing his homework, and we've sort of ... He's been helping me? I think I'm pretty good now, actually."

Sandy blinked, raw confusion flitting through him, followed by a dawning realisation that had him smacking his forehead with his palm. Jack twitched, startled, but Sandy was too busy shaking his head to respond.

There were times when the four of them, all the Guardians, were forcibly reminded that there was an awful lot they didn't know about their newest member. Between battles and powers and centers and histories, they hadn't really had the chance to figure out some of the odder discrepancies in knowledge, which was probably why it had honestly never occurred to Sandy that a spirit born without memory from the death of a peasant boy in the 17th century probably would not have had much in the way of literacy. And given that most of Jack's next few hundred years would have been spent in relative isolation and with no-one much to teach him, it shouldn't be at all surprising that the elemental spirit would only have what he'd managed to scrape together on his own from curiosity and stubbornness, and perhaps the kindness of those few who managed to see him.

It stung, a little, that it had been Jamie that Jack had turned to for help, that it had been the human boy who'd done what Jack apparently didn't trust the Guardians to do, but Sandy was too old and too silent to hold that against the other spirit. He could guess, without ever asking, that it hadn't been so much that Jack didn't trust them, and more that Jack had not wanted to bother them, and more importantly had not wanted to reveal his deficiencies in front of them. They had healed a great deal since Pitch, but there were still some scars beneath the friendships Jack had built with each of them. With Jamie, Sandy could understand that it would have felt much more ... much more equal, an exercise in mutual learning, rather than Jack having to come begging, as it were.

It stung, it did sting, but it was the sort of thing that did not countenance sharing, a private guilt that need not weigh his companion down in turn.

"Um. You okay, Sandy?" Jack asked, leaning down to peer hesitantly through the fingers Sandy still had spread across his face. There was a quirk of a grin there, hesitant amusement, but it was a thin shield over the lurking worry beneath it. "Looked like you may have hit yourself a little hard there ...?"

Sandy shook his head, peeling his palm off his face to flap it dismissively in the air. Never mind, he meant, hoping the message was clear. Jack squinted cautiously at him, a dubious expression on his face, but leaned back a little to give Sandy space to elaborate.

Which Sandy, after a moment's careful thought, did.

Snowflake. Book. Question Mark. Exclamation Mark. Trumpet. Confetti.

You can read now? Wonderful! Congratulations!

He hoped, at least. There were times when the effort of translation to people more used to speaking was so laboriously haphazard. It was extremely annoying at times. But Jack was pretty good at it. Jack had started catching on, and usually showed a surprising amount of patience for Sandy's stuttering symbolism.

More than North, anyway. Not that that was difficult. While North was perfectly capable of focus to the point of obsession, social situations weren't really the places it occurred to him to bring it to bear.

"Yeah," Jack said, smiling softly. "I can read now. Thanks, Sandy. It's, um. I'm pretty proud of it, you know? It kind of only took me a few hundred years."

Sandy shook his head, reaching over to lean on Jack's arm and bounce happily in place, his enthusiasm and happiness as visible as he could possibly make it. He grinned at his friend, wide and uncomplicated, and stubbornly refused to express anything less than complete pride and happiness for the achievement.

It was, after all, not Jack's fault that no-one had helped him in all that time. Really more the opposite.

And Jack, after a moment's lingering shyness, cracked open a grin of his own, and beamed in open pride right on back. So easy with his confidences, when assured they were safe. So happy to share his achievements, to share everyone's achievements, when given half a chance. Oh, Sandy wanted to punch people sometimes over Jack. He wanted to punch himself sometimes over Jack. But they were fixing it now. They were working on it now, and that had to count for something.

"But, yes." Jack shook himself after a second, bumped backwards a little to shake them out of their mutual appreciation party for a minute. "Um. I had a point? With the reading thing. I did have a point beyond making you cheer for me."

Sandy pffed, waving a hand. Good enough reason, he thought silently, a wry little look to get it across. Jack bit his lip, shaking his head at him.

"It's nice," he agreed. "Don't get me wrong. This is really nice, Sandy. But if it keeps going I'll get a swelled head, and Bunny will be forced to deflate me, and then where will we be? Heh. So I thought I'd put a shine on it, make it good for shared company, yes?"

Sandy scrunched his face up dubiously, but settled back down onto the cloud's surface with an approximation of good grace, waving magnanimously. Jack laughed at him, bright snickers tugged from him all unwilling, and Sandy bit back the warmth it kindled in him, tucked the bright caring away somewhere secret, where it wouldn't further embarrass his young friend.

Question Mark? he asked, with a carefully false expression of interest to keep the bubble of Jack's humour afloat a little longer. Jack nudged him quellingly with an elbow, but the brightness didn't fade from his eyes, so Sandy counted that one as a win.

And then, yet again, a small twitch of nervousness crept across Jack. The hesitance he always seemed to have before putting something out there, before admitting he'd made an effort towards something not his own. Sandy, who had begun to recognise it when it came, sat up that little straighter in the face of it.

"There was this book Jamie showed me," Jack started carefully, waving his hands a little in agitated explanation. "A dream dictionary? Have you ever seen those? Jamie thought I'd like it since, you know, I'm sort of friends with the Sandman over here."

He looked at Sandy, a hesitant little smirk, and Sandy nodded immediately. Friend, yes. Most definitely that. Jack bit his lip, and started up again.

"So, um. I was wondering. I don't think the book he showed me would have been that much use, some of it was ... kinda weird, to be honest. But it made me think?" He shrugged uneasily. "I thought about those symbols you use, how they're mostly human? But sort of clumsy, because humans mostly talk in words when they can. No offense or anything, little guy!"

Sandy dismissed that, waving a hand ruefully. He'd just been thinking it himself, after all. The symbols humans used changed so often, and most of them said so little, that his 'speech' to anyone who'd come from human stock had always been stilted at best. There had been better systems, systems designed for people who couldn't speak very well, but there had been a surprising dearth of spirits willing to use them. To be honest, there had been a dearth of spirits willing to even hold still long enough for him to make the attempt, let alone to learn another language purely for his sake ...

He paused, stilled suddenly, as he began to have an inkling of where Jack was maybe going with this. Of where Jack, who had always given him a surprising amount of time and attention while he was busy stuttering his way through random symbols, might be obliquely trying to angle towards with this talk of reading and dictionaries.

He looked up, something half-caught between hope and confusion on his face, and found Jack staring solemnly down at him, something soft and warm and utterly serious in his eyes. An earnest willingness, when Jack realised that he'd caught on, a deep, warm, desperate willingness to try it, to try something, to make things that little easier for his friend. Jack looked down at him, and Sandy realised that yes, that was exactly where Jack was going with this.

"I wondered," Jack said quietly, "if maybe you had a different dictionary I could borrow? One that maybe ... one that has better symbols in it? Because I can read now, Sandy. You could write it down, and I could maybe ... I could try to learn it? If you wanted?" He ducked his head, fiddling with the fraying threads at his knees once more, while Sandy just stared stupefied at the side of his head. "I mean, maybe you don't need it. You've been doing okay for, what, longer than I've been alive? But I thought ... I know what it's like to have no-one hear you, you know? I know what it's like when no-one listens. So I thought, if you needed it, I could learn how to ... how to listen better for you? Maybe?"

He trailed off, he hunched into himself in desperate self-defense at Sandy's silence, so terribly afraid of being found wanting yet again, of trying and failing yet again, but Sandy couldn't move. Not yet. Not while those words, that offer ... He couldn't. He couldn't move, something knotting in the center of his chest and throttling all thoughts of response for one long, endless moment. No-one had ... No-one had ever thought ...

He blinked rapidly, shaking faintly in the golden glow of his sand and the wan fall of moonlight, and forced himself to reach out. Forced himself to lift his arm and bring it, so lightly, to rest on Jack's shoulder. Forced himself to inch sideways until he was pressed against the younger spirit, with his hand on Jack's shoulder and the warmth of his tiny, ancient body pressed into the frost spirit's chill. Jack shuddered, his breath hitching, and slowly raised his head to look at Sandy. To face the music, from the half-terrified expression on his face, and figure out how badly he'd messed up.

Except he hadn't. Except he really, really hadn't, and there were golden facsimiles of tears in Sandy's eyes, and such a stunned, desperately moved expression on his face, that Jack couldn't possibly believe otherwise. Symbols had deserted Sandy entirely, far too numb and too full to dare try and make sense now, but sometimes symbols, sometimes words, were not needed at all. For two spirits so accustomed to silence as they ... sometimes words weren't necessary at all.

"Oh," Jack said, soft and awed, and Sandy opened his arms desperately, pushed at Jack's shoulder to turn him towards him and opened his arms in instant, instinctive invitation. Jack gulped, swallowed silently, and then lunged forward. Then scooped Sandy up, so much larger and so much younger, and pulled Sandy in to rest against his wildly-beating heart. Frost spiraled down his arms and across Sandy's suit in his agitation, feathers of ice patterned into the grain of golden soul-sand, and Sandy cared not the slightest. He pressed as close, held as tightly, and hugged Jack as close as stubby arms could bring him.

Friend, Sandy thought desperately, thought as loudly as he could, pressing his face into Jack's chest to press it home. Friend, forever and always. Never unwelcome again. Remember it, Jack. Please, never forget it. Not ever again.

And it was silent, all his words were always silent, but silence was a thing Jack was so very used to listening to. With the tightening of his arms around Sandy's body, with the tiny hitch of his breath as Sandy pressed that message against the cage of his breastbone, Sandy had hope that maybe, somehow, Jack had managed to hear it anyway. He hoped that that, of all the things he wanted to say, was a message Jack knew how to listen to.

But if it wasn't, if the sentiment had only fallen uselessly into the silence that lay between them ... Well. Jack had offered to learn the silence for him. Jack, who had been crying hopelessly into emptiness for so very long, had offered to learn how to listen for the words in someone else's silence. And Sandy promised, here and now, that the very moment he knew Jack would hear that message, he would never stop saying it again.

There were some things, he thought, that deserved to be said, even if you had not voice to say them. There were some things that deserved, beyond anything else, to be heard.

And that ... that was most definitely one of them.

A/N: I'm not actually sure how valid the idea of Jack being largely illiterate before the movie is. I don't think we ever see him read anything properly? He looks at the book Jamie drops on the ground, but a) it's face-down, and b) it's fairly obvious from the dinosaur pictures what it's about. Given when he was from, how much memory he had when he was remade, and how he moves around so much and is very much an outdoors kind of spirit, it seemed like a reasonable theory to me? He's stubborn and bored enough to pick up a lot, but with only intermittent access and nobody to care, I'm not sure how much he'd have had before the timeframe of the movie.

I could be wrong, though. The idea was in my head, and I thought I'd go with it for the story's sake -_-;
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Current Mood: worriedworried
mskitsch: shout it bethmskitsch on March 2nd, 2014 02:02 am (UTC)
Just one thing to say: <3
icarus_chained: Mischieficarus_chained on March 2nd, 2014 02:14 am (UTC)
*smiles* Thank you!
ptath03ptath03 on March 3rd, 2014 03:38 pm (UTC)
Shouldn't have read this at work -- now I'm tearing up!

Wonderful little story. I enjoyed it a great deal.
icarus_chained: Mushishiicarus_chained on March 3rd, 2014 05:14 pm (UTC)
*smiles, bows* I'm glad. Thank you!