Chapter 5: You'll Never Get It
Chapter 5: You'll Never Get It
Chapter 5: You'll Never Get It

27th Aug 2012, 1:34 PM

by inhonoredglory

Hiccup glided down on Toothless, noticed the windy vacancy of the shore. The wind howled in his ears and lightning fragments caught the corners of his eye. No doubt they'd all gone home for the storm. He saw the lone flagship's great sail reeling gently in the gales, the ship beached on the shallow shorewater. His father was pacing the platform near the bow of the ship. Dad, waiting for me. Man, what a mess I am--

"Hiccup!" It was Astrid's voice, behind him.

He whirled, pulled Toothless up.

"Hiccup!" She was breathless, irritated, her little arms pounding her dragon impatiently. He was almost captivated again, the scowl on her face making her look so, ah, beautiful.

"Where were you?" she screamed above the gales.

Okay. He snapped out of it. So this didn't look very good. "Aaaah." He thanked the wind for suddenly flapping his hair over his eyes.

"You can't go running around leaving us in the dark." Her voice was amazingly strong in the storm. "You're not chief yet, you know," she boomed.

He cringed. He never liked the sound of "chief" and him in the same sentence. He upped his brows and sighed. "Sorry?"

"I had to keep your dad from thinking you were lost," she snapped, riding Stormfly dangerously near him.

So they were really gone that long. "I wasn't lost," he said, honestly wondering if she could hear him.

"And I had to keep Stormfly from flying off. Did you know there's been a scare back here?"

Hiccup raised his brows. "What happened?"

"That horrific boom made the dragons run -- or fly, to be precise. Stormfly's terrified."

Hiccup looked at the blue dragon, saw its wings shaking slightly, its eyes darting to and fro. He remembered the fear in the Skrill's eyes. The Great Dragon.

"Stormfly, it's okay," he tried to soothe. Toothless glared up at him. Yeah, I know, wasting my breath trying to talk normally in this wind.

"You heard the boom," she screamed, matter-of-factly.

"Well, yes."

"Then what was it? Is there a tsunami we don't know about?"

"No, Astrid, it was a water dragon. His roar--" The wind blew up suddenly.

"What?"

He looked down, at his father's ship on the edge of the island. He was gesturing to him largely, with one of those "grounded" looks, except worse. "My dad's calling, Astrid" he said flatly.

"He's gonna grill you, Hiccup," she screamed, with as much of a tone of sympathy as could be expressed in the catching wind.

Hiccup sighed, figured he should have expected something like this. Hiccup turned Toothless up, banked to dive down. Astrid pursued him, banking Stormfly. Toothless flapped down, sinking through the air, hovering over the long ship.

"Son!" His father's voice came through the storm.

"Yeah, Dad?"

His father waved a huge hand at him, irritated. "Get off that dragon and come down and talk to me."

Hiccup swallowed, urged Toothless to the shore. Toothless whimpered. "It's all right, bud, it's my fault anyway." Toothless landed gently. Hiccup slid off slowly, his prosthetic left leg sinking into the soft sand. He sensed Astrid landing next to him, and saw her run up to join him in the walk to his dad's ship.

He smiled at her. "Moral support?"

She smirked. "More like I still haven't heard what happened out there yet. And your dad is going to get it out of you."

Hiccup grimaced. "I thought you were supposed to be nice to me now."

She giggled, punched him lightly in the shoulder. "Of course it's moral support."

Hiccup sighed, trudged forward. "So which is it?"

She rubbed his shoulder, said nothing.

He looked at her, the playful eyes, the cheesy smile that spelled the death of all the fancy quips he could have thrown at her.

He was just getting happy when he reached the gangplank that led up to his father's great Drakkar. Gobber was strolling down to the edge of it, holding his good hand out to them.

Hiccup stepped back, let Astrid go first. She smiled silently and got herself up the plank. Gobber came back for Hiccup and they balanced their way onto the deck. "Yer father has some words for ya, young man," Gobber whispered, pointing to the far end of the ship, where his father paced from one side to another.

Hiccup nodded, took a deep breath and advanced, walking over the ropes and pulleys and random knots, past the sea chests and the crew, who looked at him in that funny way they'd been doing ever since Induction got into the everyday vocabulary around Berk. He shied down, tried to hurry forward and get it over with. As he advanced, the crew melted away behind him. He got that alone feeling as he crossed the last half of the ship, vacant rowing benches on either side of him. Dad must have told them to give us space to talk. Which means Astrid was right... This wasn't any public conversation.

He reached the edge of the deck that rose up slightly, and stopped in the shadow of his father, looked up into the bright green eyes and bustling red beard.

"Well, Hiccup, what do you have to say for yourself?"

Hiccup swallowed suddenly, heard the slap of the sea against the ship's hull. He could read his dad's eyes, the hot fire of accusation in them. A shiver ran down Hiccup's spine. "I didn't mean to," he said, quietly, forcefully.

His father's shoulders heaved down in a sigh. "Hiccup, how many times do I have to tell you? How many times does it take to get it into your head? Not the ships."

"But Dad--"

"You might know dragons, but I know people--" His voice was rising, getting hot. "--and I know there's something dangerous with that lot."

"Dad--"

"Then that great boom, which horrified our dragons. You're the expert. Where were you when we--"

"But, Dad!" Hiccup raised his hands desperately. "--now we know something about the ships and I wasn't gone that--"

"Son!" Stoick's voice boomed viciously, and he glared at Hiccup. "You stop interrupting."

Hiccup caught his breath.

His father leaned down towards him, put his hand out determinedly. "A leader gives orders because he expects them to be followed. By his own son of all people."

Hiccup flinched, stopped looking at him.

"What kind of an example are you giving to your tribe, Hiccup? What kind of a precedent is that?"

Hiccup opened his mouth, wondered if he could say anything at all that would deflect the truth. He put his head down, studied his boot vaguely.

He felt his father clear his throat, sigh in that heavy way like he'd just released something that had been festering in his mind a long time. "Son," the big voice began, steadied itself, "in three days you're going to be a part of my Council. You'll be at every meeting of war or exploration we have. You'll be called upon and trusted by the best of my men. You'll be an equal."

A shiver raced up Hiccup's neck.

He felt his father step down to the lower deck and put his hand on his shoulder. "Look at me, son."

Hiccup raised his eyes warily.

His father swooshed the fringe of hair from Hiccup's face. "I want you to realize that you're going to be a man, Hiccup. Think about that. And if you don't prepare yourself now..." He put both hands on Hiccup's shoulders, took a deep breath. "… you won't be ready." Hiccup felt the wind rush out of him. Those last words came out more like a statement of fact than a warning. It's not like he cared so much that he was ready by the Council's standards or able to wield a sword like his ancestors or get his name into the fables. But that pain in Dad's eyes… This meant so much to him… so much, and he doesn't think I'm ready. "Dad?"

But he wasn't listening, he was looking afar off, out into the sea. "Induction Day is happening whether you can take it or not." He was almost talking to himself now. "That's the point of it. Makes a man of you." He snapped back, looked at Hiccup. He took his hands off his shoulders. "Do you understand what I am saying?"

Hiccup inhaled, figured he'd better start making some changes. Induction was only a one day event and then it'd be over, right? He sighed. That was the catch, manhood wasn't a one-time thing. War and fighting and orders and troops. Making judgments and heralding the tribespeople. All your life long. At least, that's what Dad's vision of it was. His fingers started twisting themselves around his harness strap.

"Hiccup?" his father came again.

He pushed his head up. "Oh, yeah, Dad, I understand. I... get it."

His father shook his head gravely. There was some thought in his eye, going unsaid right now, and it probably went something like no, you'd never get it.

And he'd probably be right.
_______

Hiccup started back, went to look for Astrid, not really sure what for. He needed to think, consider his next move, perhaps. Induction, he was sick of the word. But his father... well, there was no question he'd have to do his best. Try better at Gobber's training? It hardly seemed possible.

"Son," his father said behind him. Hiccup paused.

"I'm not going to let you fly Toothless home."

Hiccup snapped back to look up at his father. He wasn't taking it out on Toothless, was he?

"You need to stay here. We need to talk. You need to talk."

"But that means Toothless will have to be in the ship..."

"Correct."

"But--" Toothless would never stand for that. "He hates to be cooped up." Of all things, he didn't want a repeat of last month, being tossed about by a dragon trying desperately to get him on his back to go flying. Toothless still remembered two years ago, captured on that burning ship. Old memories die hard.

His father brushed him off with a hand. "It isn't that bad."

"No, no, no." Hiccup gestured his fist emphatically. "He really hates it."

"Then just calm him down."

"Dad, I just don't think we should do that to him again." The storm picked up, flapped his hair over his face.

His father was getting emphatic now. "You need to tell the tribe about that great boom, and you need consequences for your actions."

Hiccup took a deep breath. "Dad, I understand, but I can't let Toothless--"

"Is it always about that dragon?!" His father gazed daggers into him, and Hiccup got weak in the knees suddenly. "You get that dragon in here," his father said, calmly, firmly.

"Yes, Dad," Hiccup whispered, moved to the end of the ship, to the gangplank. Astrid stepped quickly with him. "Gobber said we had to stand back. Was it that bad?"

Hiccup sighed, slipped down the plank, followed quickly by her. They slipped onto the muddy sand together. "Well?" she prodded.

"Ahh," he sniffed, slumped his shoulders. "I guess it was." He walked forward, looked for Toothless. The dragon bounded up to him suddenly from behind a rock formation, licked him affectionately.

"Hey, Toothless."

Toothless eyed him big and questioningly, looked up to his father on the ship and then down to Hiccup.

"Yeah, that?" He looked up at his father, still gazing at him. "Toothless…" He looked at his dragon. "I'm sorry, but he wants me on the ship. I… well, I made it bad for the both of us. Will you forgive me?"

Toothless' eyes got big again and he hummed sympathetically, nuzzled Hiccup's face, throated a smile. Hiccup put his arms around the dragon's head. Thanks, buddy.

Astrid put a hand on Hiccup's shoulder. "I'll walk back with you," she said, and they trudged back together. Hiccup noticed that she didn't ask about his illicit adventure, and he was grateful. He looked up at her and they shared a smile.
_______

Hiccup watched Astrid fly off on Stormfly, looked back at Toothless by the bow. Toothless hung his head and front feet over the edge of the ship, sinking the left side lower into the water, pitching the hull. Toothless gazed at the storm and the speeding blue wings growing farther and farther away. The cold, fast winds curled through the black dragon's wings, shaking their membranes.

Hiccup sighed, turned his head and looked at his father manning the tiller. Dad had that look in his eye, the thinking look. He eyed Hiccup, put his big hand out and gestured Hiccup forward.

Hiccup walked up to him.

"Well, son, it's your turn. How did it happen."

Hiccup took a breath. He wouldn't dodge this time. Or mumble. Or make excuses. He looked back at Toothless a moment. He was still okay. "I was curious about the lights under the ship. I went there to find out, and I encountered a Skrill." He inhaled again. "The Skrill was frightened by a large water dragon, who caused the boom you heard." He detailed the encounter over the sea, then eyed Toothless again, saw the dragon looking from side to side, expectant, moaning lightly. That was the beginning. He pursed his lips, continued. "By then, I was far enough to see the ships."

He felt his father take a greater interest. Toothless was eyeing the crew now, his tail flapping, dragging on the boards, his wings flat against his back.

Hiccup continued to watch him. "There were a lot of ships, miles maybe. I watched for a while, then I came back." Toothless was opening his wings now, leaning over the edge again, pulling his head forward, groaning. The ship jerked suddenly, and Hiccup caught his balance.

Hiccup wanted to go comfort him, but his father spoke. "Explain the ships, son. I was intending to send a party over, but apparently you preempted me."

Hiccup bobbed his head back and forth, looked down.

"The ships' appearance?"

"Old." He eyed Toothless, who was looking at him now, worried.

"Any sign of location, identification?"

Toothless was cowering at the mast now, the huge sail flapping. "Uh... they were quite well-kept before. Maybe--" Toothless shook his head at the pole. "--a lot of travel?"

"And the people, did you see the crew, the chief?"

Hiccup put his hand out in Toothless' direction. It's okay, buddy. He looked back at his father. "The people? I, uh, well, there was a girl." The man who looked like Dad… "And a man who looked exactly like you. Those two had authority." Toothless flapped his wings, screeched and ran up to the bow, turned back to the mast, back to the bow. The ship lurched to the movement, and the crew started yelling at Toothless. Hiccup stepped away and started to yell something back, but a hand was suddenly on his shoulder, and he heard his father say something. Hiccup turned back. "What?"

"I said, did he have a curved sword?" His father's eyes were very pointed now, as if all the world, the storm and the wind, did not exist at all.

"Who?" Hiccup asked, his mind flitting from that odd look to Toothless, whose jolts he still felt vibrating the ship.

"The man on the ship, Hiccup."

"Oh, uh…" Toothless was bounding, cowering, crawling towards the stern, looking at Hiccup. "Uh…" He thought back, saw the ships and that scene. "Yeah, I guess he did." Toothless put his wings out again and threw himself into Hiccup, soft enough to keep the boy from falling. He moaned wildly. Hiccup stroked him. "Toothless--"

His father was strangely quiet and Hiccup turned and looked up. Stoick's eyes were wide open, looking out into the sea. Toothless screamed plaintively, old fear and memories in his wide eyes. "Toothless, you're gonna be okay." The dragon shook his head briskly, mouthed Hiccup's harness from the front, dragged him slightly.

"Son…" His father's voice was soft.

Hiccup put his hands on Toothless' face. "Toothless, you've got to calm down."

"Hiccup, you realize that may be Rune."

Hiccup paused, turned to his father. So that was the name of Stoick's brother. He blinked at the shard of wind that hit him suddenly. The name so rarely came up in his life, and to hear his father speak it with such emotion...

Stoick looked out at the sea, to the horizon, where the ships were, where the storm was now low and blustering. "So he's come back after all these years..."

Toothless wailed, flapped his wings desperately, catching Hiccup's attention again. His father was muttering something about banishment, undoing that, restoring Rune's rights again in the tribe, starting again from the beginning.

Toothless was pushing his head harshly into Hiccup. "Dad!" he shrieked, "Toothless can't stand it. Please, won't you let me take him home?"

His father turned to him, a glassy look in his eye. He blinked, as if he suddenly realized where he was. He looked at Toothless. The dragon shut his eyes tight, moaned, opened them and bobbed his head to the sky, wailing.

"Dad, please."

His father blinked slowly, waved his palm at him, nodded his head slightly.

"Thank you, Dad," Hiccup breathed and mounted Toothless quickly. In a moment he was in the storm, wind and rain and lightning in his face.

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