No Words Left is yet another amazing character study story done by RedSkittleQueen on AO3 (Queen of the Red Skittle on FF.net) for the Rise of the Guardians universe. Inside the Wallpaper, which I reviewed last year, was the first story I read by her, and I was blown away. It was dark, heart-wrenching, and at its core, it had some damn good writing and characterization. RedSkittleQueen isn’t my favorite author—her fics are sometimes a little wordy, to name one problem I have with them—but her take on the RotG characters is always spot on. She puts them into tough situations with no easy way out, raises some interesting questions on morality, and the characters are forced to learn and grow from their experiences. That is especially true of No Words Left.
In No Words Left, during a freak storm accident while Pitch and the Guardians are fighting, both Pitch and Jack are struck by lightning. Jack blacks out, and when he comes to, he can hear Pitch speaking to him in his mind. It turns out that Pitch’s consciousness was transferred from his own body to Jack’s when they were hit, and no one knows how to fix the situation. An unfortunate side effect of their merging is that Jack’s powers change—he can no longer control snow, but his ice powers have been fused to Pitch’s abilities. As a result, Jack is unable to spend time with Jamie and his friends, having fun, causing faith and belief in him to waver.
Also not helping the situation, North and the other Guardians are a bit put off by what’s happened, and they are concerned that Pitch can influence Jack’s thoughts and actions. Though the Guardians maintain their trust in Jack, Jack knows that their doubt is there, and that’s something Pitch latches onto. Pitch and Jack have two different ideologies—Pitch sees the bad in people before the good, while Jack and the Guardians are just the opposite—which creates some interesting conversation between the two characters.
In the privacy in his mind, [Jack] said to Pitch, All you’ve done is thrown me a couple of names of I’m sure supremely bad people. And what do you mean, ‘No concept of love’? [North] is pretty much one huge teddy bear. Are you saying I should take your advice on love? You? Pitch, have you ever loved anything in your entire life?
“Careful, Frost,” Pitch said. Claws pricked the young Guardian’s mind.
Jack winced and said nothing, focusing in on North, who hadn’t stopped talking.
“. . . to go, but know we will find the answer soon.”
“Oh?” Jack stood up and pulled back his hood, even though in the darkness it meant little. “You’re leaving now?”
The young Guardian felt the heavy weight of North’s hand on his shoulder. The other was a furnace compared to the winter spirit, and as much as Jack appreciated the gesture, he was relieved when the hand was removed.
“All this will be over soon,” North said, and Jack could literally hear his friend’s smile. “Trust your belly. And remember: if anything happens, use globe.” Then the Guardian of Wonder was moving back to the sleigh, his cape making slithery noises as it dragged over the grass. As with the first time with Bunnymund and Sandy, Jack watched silently until North was gone, struggling with the ingrained anxiety of abandonment. In the silence which followed, Pitch snorted.
“A creature who has no concept of hatred won’t have a clue about love.”
Emboldened by what Pitch had said earlier, Jack snorted back. “Uh, Pitch? Reality check: all you know about is hate.”
Pitch coiled, pressing against the young Guardian’s skull. “Shows you what you know,” came the bitter reply, and no matter how much Jack prodded for clarification, the Nightmare King remained an unapproachable force for the rest of the night.
Unfortunately for Pitch, we learn that if Jack cannot return him to his own body in time, he will fade away and die. This creates a moral dilemma for our characters—do they let him die, because he’s evil? Or do they try to save him, because he needs help?
In a not-very-shocking turn of events, Jack does decide to save Pitch, but he only has a short period of time to do it since Pitch is fading away. Though Pitch’s impending death is a big part of the story, the fic mostly centers around him and Jack talking to each other. Not a lot happens in the story other than their conversations, and in this case, that’s not a bad thing. As I said earlier, No Words Left is a character study, and it goes about that study by putting Jack and Pitch into an unwanted situation where they have to get along and trust each other, which is where the main conflict comes from. While Jack is faced with his moral dilemma, Pitch is stuck having to rely on Jack in order to survive, which is rather terrifying for him.
No Words Left does an amazing job of exploring both their characters, and like Inside the Wallpaper, Jack and Pitch gain a better understanding for each other without actually becoming friends. It is both true to their characters and insightful.