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Rounding the Corner by kingpin1055
Rounding the Corner
Ecto-1, from the new movie currently being filmed in Boston and due out next Summer.

Originally hand drawn, then fleshed out and refined in Adobe Illustrator.
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Chapter Sixteen: A Dragon's Trial


Due to the severity of the crime, the case against Dagur was referred to the United States District Court located north of Berk, in Providence. The evidence of the bully's attempted rape of Hamish at Barry Cuda's, coupled with the incident reports from the first attempt at the school had presented a strong case.

The lawyer hired by Dagur's family had kept a brave face despite the evidence against his client, and he'd done his best to ensure that the bully received proper due process, but when the deranged teenager had collapsed under cross-examination and protested that Hamish had been leading him on, he didn't have any ground left to stand on.

The judge had only been in recess for ten minutes before she'd returned to give her verdict: sentencing Dagur to five years’ probation in the Rhode Island Juvenile Correctional system, as well as mandatory psychology evaluation to determine what future, if any, he might have.

A mid-October wind rustled the leaves surrounding the District Court on Exchange Street as the collected witnesses for the prosecution and trial observers stepped out of the building.

"He should've got more than five years." Stoick muttered as the group, consisting of himself, Hamish, Jack, Astrid, Fiske and Nicholas gathered beside one of the two statues sat in prominence in front of the courthouse.

"I'm just glad he's gone for now.  He might be out in five years, but with the psych studies, they might decide to keep him indefinitely." Hamish noted.

Astrid shook her head, going back over the developments in the court room.  "I knew he was sick... But that was... Unreal."

"The sad thing about all this is he probably was genuinely attracted to me." the green-eyed teen remarked, making the group turn to him.

"You don't feel sorry for him, do you?" Fiske asked incredulously.

"No." he affirmed.  "But a lot of recent examples in the media have shown that some of the most virulently homophobic people, including those who've campaigned against the LGBT community are those who were secretly in the closet.  Their lives became so poisoned and they became so full of self-revulsion that they turned into monsters who terrorise people just like them." he glanced amongst them as he elaborated.  "I don't feel sorry for Dagur because of what he did to me, I just wonder what could've happened to him earlier in his life, and how different things could've been if he'd had more support."

Jack felt the compulsion to lace the fingers of his hand with those on Hamish's.  The freckled boy glanced down for a moment, before looking back up at the ice-haired boy's face.  The shorter teenager's mouth spread into a smile.

"Can we not talk about him any more for a while?  It's been a long day and I don't know about you guys, but I'm starving."  Jack gladly changed the subject.

"There's a pizza place not too far from here, how does that sound?" Stoick suggested, much to their enthusiasm.

"It'll be our treat." Nick added.  Looking forward to having something to take their minds off of the past several days, the group walked away from the District Court.


A few days had passed since the final court hearing, and life in Berk was starting to return to something resembling normal.

The High School had been abuzz with talk over Dagur's arrest, and a new, more positive atmosphere had flowed through the building with the departure of the town's main delinquent.  Stefan, who'd been efficiently removed from the bathroom door at Barry Cuda's before the Police had arrived; had been given sufficient a scare to consider his current choices in life.  For the first time in a good while, he'd started to listen to what his father, Sven Jorgenson, was trying to tell him.
He made sure to avoid Astrid and Jack if he ever saw them, but it seemed clear that his cohort's arrest had put a scare into him.

Jack and Hamish had settled back into the routine of building a relationship, and it was the Haddock household that the white-haired boy was now driving to, following a request sent by text message asking him to meet the subject of his affection at his home.

Jack brought the red sedan to a stop on the curb outside of Hamish's house and stopped the engine.  He briskly walked up to the front door and had waited only a few moments after pressing the bell before the door opened to reveal Stoick.  The Police Chief greeted the tall teenager with a cheeful smile.

"Hey Mr. Haddock.  Hamish said he wanted to meet me here for something."

"He's up in his room." Stoick nodded towards the stairs as he opened the door further.  "Head on up."

"Thanks". the white-haired boy smiled and approached the stairs, pausing only briefly to sweep his hand along Toothless's back, the cat arching into the welcome contact of the teenager's hand.  Climbing the stairs to the second story of the house, Jack found the door to Hamish's room was closed and a sheet of paper was taped to it.  The sheet read:

Please knock.

His curiosity piqued, he rapped his knuckles against the woodwork and waited.

"Come in!" the younger boy's words were muffled by the door, but unmistakeable. Jack grasped the handled and pushed it open into Hamish's room, stepping into near darkness.

"Hiccup?"

"Please close it behind you."

Jack did as he was instructed and he stepped further into the darkness.

"Hic... What's going on?"

"Just one second..." the voice requested, and Jack could hear the sounds of somebody moving near the far side of the room.  The space was quickly awash with coloured light as multiple strands of multi-coloured fairy lights flared to life.  Jack looked around, taking in the sight of the room under the different coloured glows.

Meanwhile, Hamish had stepped over to his computer and jiggled the mouse, waking the machine up from its state of dormancy.  He then brought up what appeared to be a media player on his machine and pressed the PLAY button.

A moment later, stirring strings with a piano accompaniment began to filter out of the computer speakers.  Jack froze for a moment as the music stirred his memory.

"Wait... I know this song." he glanced at the lights again as recognition dawned on his face.  He then levelled his brown eyes back on Hamish.  "You recreated our date at the ice rink."

"As best I could." the auburn-haired boy shrugged.

"I would've thought you'd have wanted to forget about it, seeing as it was arranged as part of Dagur's dare."

Hamish crossed the room to him.  "I'm not completely convinced that was the only reason you did it." the freckled boy let out a chuckle at the confused expression on the taller teenager's face.  "You went to a lot of trouble with the ice rink. You got the keys for it; you found those roller skates... And then there was dinner and the walk before it.  That was a lot more effort than somebody on a dare would've gone to.  I think that when you came up with the idea, a part of you had worked out by then that you had feelings for me... Probably something subconscious.  It just took a few more hours for the rest of you to catch up."

As Hamish let his point sink in, he gently took Jack's left hand with his right, and he placed his free left hand on the older boy's waist.

"You really think so?"

"Yeah." Hamish smiled, and Jack smiled back.  As the music continued to build, they began to sway as they slowly rotated on the spot.

After a few minutes of comfortable silence, Jack finally spoke in a low tone: "What is this song, anyway?"

"It's from a movie from the 1980s, called Ghost." the freckled teenager responded.  "It's actually an orchestral version of an older song called Unchained Melody."

"Does this make it our song?"

"I think it can be.  There wasn’t really anything we heard at Barry Cuda's that first night that would qualify."

An amused chuckle parted Jack's lips.  "Thanks for this, Hiccup."

"No problem, Frosty." Hamish smirked, and the two of them shared a kiss as they continued to slow dance.


Epilogue


The warm sunlight filtering through the curtains over the bedroom window roused Hamish from his slumber.  He rolled over on the mattress and stretched an arm out, only to find the space in the bed beside him empty.  Blinking away the remainder of his sleep, he fully opened his eyes and scanned the room; his boyfriend was nowhere to be seen.

Pulling on his clothes from where he'd discarded them the previous night, he exited Jack's room and descended the stairs, finding the other teenager sat in the breakfast nook, staring without focus out of the kitchen window.

"Hey." the freckled boy greeted, making the oak-haired boy turn suddenly.

"Oh, hey." Jack returned.  "You sleep okay?"

Hamish nodded.  "Yeah, though I missed waking up next to you.  Did you get any sleep?"

"Enough." the auburn-haired teen sat down opposite his partner.

"We can put this off if you'd like, nobody would think less of you... Not Nick, not me."

Jack shook his head, but his expression showed he was grateful for his boyfriend's presence.  "I'll be okay.  I nearly forgot about it last year, this year I want to make it up to them."

The emerald-eyed teenager gave his companion a half smile as he gently rubbed Jack's hands as they lay on the table.  They remained there until they heard the sound of Nicholas's alarm clock going off, and the creak of the floorboards as the guardian rose from his bed.


Hamish held onto the bouquets of white Roses and Lilies as Nick's car slid into the parking lot at Raven Point Park.  The sky was grey and threatened to rain, which under the circumstances hadn't seemed entirely inappropriate.

It was now a full fourteen months since Jack and Nick had first arrived in town, and with so much time having elapsed even the worst of the memories of the previous year were mercifully fading.  In that time, Jack and Hamish's relationship had continued to blossom, and it was common knowledge now that they were each other's significant other.

With the growth of their relationship, Jack had filled in the rest of the details about the events revolving around why he'd left Pennsylvania with his guardian, and of what had happened to his mother and sister.

A year previous, Jack had been living with his mother Emily and his sister Olivia in Burgess.  His father had died several years before, leaving Emily to take on the duties of both parents.  Over time she and Nick had met and started to spend more and more time with each other, until the bearded man had become a common sight at the Overland house.

Every winter in Burgess there was a fair that brought out the townsfolk, giving them the chance to have a bit of fun despite the increasing cold.  That year, Jack and Nick had gone off early to the fair, and would meet his mother and sister a little later into the evening.

The winter before Jack had moved to Berk had been turning into a bad one, and in such a rural community it wasn't uncommon for the roads to ice up.  The salting operation to melt the ice was underfunded and undermanned, and some routes had to be prioritised over others.  Whilst en route to the fair to meet with Jack and Nicholas, Emily's car had spun out on a patch of black ice, and skidded off into a ditch channel that ran parallel to the roadway.

The injuries to Jack's mother had been bad, and by the time the accident had been reported she'd already perished.  Olivia was still alive, but in critical condition, and had been taken as quickly as possible to the nearest significant medical facility.  It was late into the evening when Jack and Nick had finally been able to see and talk to her, and although she seemed in good spirits despite what had happened, the damage had already been done.  By morning, Jack and his guardian had been notified that Olivia had drifted away during the night.

The news had devastated them both, and had left them to cope with the torrent of emotions they were going through in a house full of reminders of the two people they were no longer sharing their lives with.  The Russian, feeling a combination of survivor's guilt and obligation to Emily and Olivia's memory had taken it upon himself to petition the system to become Jack's legal guardian.

The teenager had eventually returned to school, but he came back to a changed status quo amongst his fellow students.  Although they weren't intentionally unkind, he couldn't help notice them whispering behind his back, and keeping their distance from him.  He'd lost three members of his family in such a relatively short period of time, and as children were want to do, there were more than a few rumours about what could happen to them if they got close to the boy in the blue hoodie with messy brown hair.

Eventually, the response began to affect his grades.

For the two of them, Burgess was proving too much of a reminder, and too changed following Emily and Olivia's deaths.  Nick had remarked that he felt they might benefit from a fresh start and new surroundings, and in conversation with Jack he'd proposed they relocate in order to put the bad memories behind them; and to find better opportunities for work, and friendship.
Jack had been reluctant to leave the last members of his family behind, but on his guardian's encouragement they'd developed their new method of memorial, on the belief that as long as they remembered those they'd lost, it didn't matter if there wasn't a physical grave to stand over.

The admission had given new context to what Hamish knew, and explained better why Jack had been so eager to grab any potential friendship with both hands.  The freckled teenager had forgiven his partner long ago for what had happened between them, but it helped to know why some of the things had happened.
Hamish also felt it had helped Jack to finally open up and let somebody shoulder the burden of what had happened to his mother and sister, and the auburn-haired boy had been there for his companion when at the end of his account, his shoulders had started to shake and tears had started to roll down his face.  As Jack had observed that previous year, there was nothing to be ashamed of in crying.


A little time after Nick had come down for breakfast; Hamish had excused himself so he could go home and change, and had dug out a dark suit from his closet.  Showered and dressed, he'd returned to The Overland/Severnaya house to find the two main occupants going through the last preparations.  Out on the porch, Hamish had wrapped his arms around Jack in an embracing hug, and had accepted the silent invitation to attend the personal memorial service with them.  As they'd walked to the car, he'd given the oak-haired boy's hand a comforting squeeze, and it'd squeezed back in a sign of gratitude.

They'd exited the vehicle and were approaching the small strip of beach that lined the edge of the park, passing the Gazebo that would provide the only bit of shelter if the clouds did decide to open on them.

Hamish respectfully remained a few steps behind as Jack and Nicholas, holding the bouquets between them, began their service.

"This last year has been a difficult one.  I wish you had been with us Emily; there were times I'd liked to have heard your guidance and your kindness.  Olivia, there were moments I could've done with hearing that laugh of yours, it always brightened up any room." the large man set his bouquets into the water and stepped back to watch as they began to drift away.

Jack approached the water and knelt down. "Mom. Sis. I promised I'd try harder to keep you guys in my thoughts... I hope I've succeeded this time.  I've met somebody here who's helped me with dealing with what happened to you, and I hope you guys don't mind, but I told him what happened." he set the bouquets floating and rose to his full height.  "His name's Hamish... And I'd like you guys to know, wherever you are, that he's my best friend… And my boyfriend." despite the tears in the rakish teenager's eyes, there was a wide smile on his face.

Nicholas and Jack stepped back from the water's edge and watched as the flowers shrank into the distance.  Beside him, Hamish looped his right arm through Jack's left, and slid his fingers between his companion’s.  The auburn-haired teen didn't need to say anything, his presence there was more than enough.


The End

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Chapter Fourteen: To Catch a Dragon


When they were outside of school, Jack had killed time with Dagur and Stefan either in the alley behind Trader Johann’s on Main Street, behind the school building where it joined up with the Gym, and amongst the trees near the basketball court at Raven Point Park.

The red-haired bully had so far been keeping his distance from the school, alternating between the park and the alley to slay his sudden abundance of free time.  From a safe distance the four teenagers, split into two groups observed their targets as they smoked, kicked crumpled soda cans about and made various remarks about some of the other students at the school.  After ten minutes of careful watching, Dagur and Stefan parted company.  With the two troublemakers safely out of sight and earshot, the four teenagers regrouped.

"Okay, I think we have our plan." the freckled boy announced.  "Astrid, Fiske, as soon as you guys get out of school on Wednesday I want you to check here and the park for Dagur and Stefan."

"What do we do when we find them?" Fiske enquired, and Hamish turned to him.

"This is where you come in... This is a big favour I'm asking of you, if you have any reservations and think it's too risky, you don't have to take part."

"What is it?" the blond boy prodded.

"Once you've found those two, I'd like Astrid to call your phone... It'd have to be somewhere within hearing for them so they can hear it go off, and hear your side of the conversation.  You're going to 'accidentally'-" he made quote marks with his fingers. "-tell Dagur and Stefan that I'll be at the burger shack that evening, meeting up with Jack."

Fiske contemplated the plan before he nodded, a determined look in his eyes. "I'm in."

"They’ll probably confront you; try getting more information out of you." Hamish placed his hand on his friend's shoulder.

"It'll be believable if they catch me and get me to 'talk'.  I want to do this."

A grateful smile spread across Hamish’s face.  "Thanks, bud."

"I'll be there in case they try to get rough." Astrid added with a reassuring nod.

"Assuming they take the bait, I'd like you-" he looked at Jack and Astrid "-to find a discrete spot near the restaurant.  Fiske, I'd like you to get there before me, grab the microphone and hide in the bathroom so that you're ready to broadcast anything Dagur says.  With you guys in position, I'll walk along Main Street and wait outside Barry Cuda’s, just to make sure they see I'm there.  Then I'll head inside, and hopefully Dagur will follow me in."

"Should I tell Mr. Ferguson about our plan?" the blond boy asked, referring to his employer and the owner of the burger shack.

Hamish's face shifted to thoughtful as he considered Fiske's point.  "Would he let us do it if he knew?"

"I think so." Fiske replied.  "He's certain Dagur was the one who set the dumpsters on fire last summer.  I'm sure he'd love to help us."

"Okay, tell him what you think would be best he knew."

"I still think this is almost as bad as us actually leaving you gift wrapped at Dagur's front door."

The freckled boy affectionately gripped his companion's hand.  "I know you aren't a fan of this, but we need to do something a bit drastic."

"I'd have gone with crazy, but I know I'm not going to convince you otherwise." he sighed.  "So let's do something crazy."


By lunchtime on Wednesday, Hamish was ready to put the plan into action.  During a brief lull in the lunch crowd, he found himself alone with Jack.

"You still look unconvinced." the freckled boy observed.

"I've made my point; I don't want to give you any more to worry over."
 
"I want to know what you're thinking."

The taller boy frowned and looked the most reluctant that Hamish had eve r seen him.  "I'm worried about what could happen between you two.  Even if Astrid and I do manage to stop Stefan from joining him, Dagur is still enough of a threat on his own. He successfully beat me up without Snotlout's help.  I just wish there were some other way."

"I know you're worried about what can happen, but it's my choice to make.  I don't want anyone else to go through what I went through."

The brown-eyed boy let out a breath of frustration. "Then we'd better get the ball rolling."


With the final bell of the day rung, Astrid and Fiske had met up and proceeded to the first hangout spot to locate the two bullies.  Despite a thorough search, neither of the troublemakers could be found in Raven Point Park.

As the two blond teenagers quickly made their way out of the park and towards the centre of town, Astrid pulled out her cell phone and began typing away.

Dagur and Snotlout not at the park. Will try the alley next.

She quickly sent the message to Hamish's phone, and the two of them continued to jog.


"Where are they?" Fiske asked, concern in his voice. They'd gotten to the second hangout just off of Main Street, only to find that it was as empty as the first.

Astrid shared a concerned look with him, but didn't speak. Instead she relayed the information back to Hamish's phone.


"They weren't at either spot?"

Hamish shook his head. "Is there anywhere else you guys hung out?"

"Aside from hanging out the back of the Gym, there weren't any other spots I was aware of... But there were plenty of times those two were hanging out without me."

The freckled boy mulled it over before he started to nod.  "And they could easily have had another hideout, some place they might've told you about if you'd won the dare."

"Maybe." Jack nodded, wishing that Hamish hadn't reminded him of the wager.

The auburn-haired boy paced the floor, considering how to proceed. "Is there any possibility they could be at the school?"

The taller boy shrugged.  "The school's as probable as anywhere else... Normally I'd say there's no reason why he'd go there, but this is Dagur we're talking about."

"I'll get Astrid and Fiske to check." he quickly tapped a reply to the blond girl's message, and sent it to her.


Astrid's phone chirped and she opened the received message.

"Hamish wants us to check the school, near the gym."

"Why would Dagur go there?  He'd only get into more trouble because of his suspension."

She looked at him with a shrug of her shoulders. "Since when has anything that he's done ever made sense?"


The student parking lot by the school was deserted, but there were still a few cars in the faculty lot, meaning that Astrid and Fiske would have to be careful about being caught.
Keeping close to the edge of the building, the two teenagers followed the perimeter towards the basketball courts and football field that lay at the far end of the school property.

The Gym building matched the architectural style of the rest of the school, but featured far fewer windows; what few that peppered the locker rooms and the gym itself were raised several feet above the ground, beyond normal head height, to allow for total privacy.  Attached to one side of the gym was a storage shed that provided some shelter from the wind and prying eyes.  Often it'd proven popular with those students who liked to indulge in their nicotine habits, and it also helped even less reputable students conceal a multitude of sins.

Stood leaning against the storage shed were Dagur and Stefan.

Astrid pulled out her phone and began to tap away.


Hamish's phone chimed on his desk, and he scooped it up.  Jack waited silently beside him, Toothless purring on his lap as the auburn-haired boy read the text message from Astrid out aloud.

"'Dagur and Snotlout at the school, tell Jack that was good intel.'" a smile ghosted Jack's lips despite the seriousness of what was going on.  "'How should we proceed?'"

"They're not going to believe that Fiske just happened to be walking around there, not this long after school finished."

Hamish nodded in agreement.  "How long could they end up being there for?"

Jack shrugged with uncertainty. "No idea, they could be there for hours."

The freckled boy bit his lip in thought, and Jack smiled at the sight.  Hamish's eyes then widened and he spun excitedly to Jack.

"If we can't bring Mjölnir to Thor, we'll bring Thor to Mjölnir."

The white-haired boy stared at him as if he'd suddenly started speaking another language.  "What?"

"Sorry!" Hamish returned, realising how cryptic it'd sounded.  "If we can't find a believable way of getting Astrid and Fiske to 'cross paths' with Dagur and Snotlout, then let's try push Snotlout and Dagur into their path instead."

"It's not Astrid's path I'd like to push Dagur into right now." Jack mused, earning a disapproving look from his companion.  A moment later, Hamish was sending his friend another text message.


Astrid's phone buzzed in her hand, making her glad she'd set it to silent.  She opened the newest message and frowned.

"What's up?"

At Fiske's enquiry she held the phone up for him to read.

Return to the front of the school. Pick a spot where you can observe anyone walking near the entrance but you can't be seen yourselves. If this works, you should 'bump into' them.

"I'm really not liking how this is panning out." the blond boy admitted as they both began to make their way back towards the front of the school.


The phone rang for a few more minutes before a female voice on the other end of the line answered: "Berk High School, how can I help you?"

Hamish took a quick breath before he replied.  "Can you tell me who I can speak to there about two teenagers I've just seen running to the back of the school property?  They looked like they were up to no good." he spoke in a voice that sounded like an imitation of his father's.

"I can pass that information on to the relevant school administrators, thank you for letting us know."

"It was my pleasure."

"Have a good afternoon, sir." as soon as the call had ended, Hamish sent Astrid another text message.

"You enjoyed that just a little too much." Jack observed with a grin.  The shorter teenager simply responded with a playful wink and a smile.


Hidden behind a parked car on the opposite side of the street to the front of the school, Astrid and Fiske watched as a member of the school staff marched Dagur and Stefan up to the front entrance.  As soon as they'd reached the front doors the staff member stopped and pointed out towards the street.

"If you're caught here again the Police will be called."

"Now." Astrid whispered and the blond boy nodded.  He rose to full height and began to walk so that he would pass in front of the school.  She shifted her eyes from Fiske to the bullies as they approached the street, and as soon as they were at a distance she felt was good enough, she made her phone dial Fiske's.

Several yards in front of her, Fiske's phone rang and he went to answer it.  As soon as he'd picked up, she ended the call and waited.

"Hey Hamish.  No.  Yeah... You want to go there tonight?" she strained to listen to Fiske's acted conversation, and she smiled.  The blond boy had proven on several occasions before now that he had more than a few hidden talents.  "Okay, I'll get you my staff discount.  I'll see you there.  Later."

Astrid shifted her focus to Dagur and Stefan.  The two had stopped across the street from Fiske and it seemed like they might've heard him.

"Hey!  Fishlegs!" Dagur bellowed across the street and Fiske jumped, genuinely shaken.  She watched as the two antagonists crossed the street towards the heavy-set boy.  "Who was that you were talking to?" the ponytailed boy demanded.

"Erm... Nobody?"

"Didn't sound like nobody." Stefan countered.

"Um... It was just my boss, he wants me to come in for an earlier shift."

"You'd better not be lying to me, you were talking to the Fishbone, weren't you?"

"Uh... Maybe?"

Astrid was fairly certain a cocky smile had spread across Dagur's face.

"Look, I'll make you a deal.  If you tell me where that wimp's going to be this evening, you don't have to get hurt.  He won't even know you were the one that ratted him out."

Fiske took a step back, and the two troublemakers took a step forward.  After a short while the blond boy let his shoulders slump, and he stared down at the ground beneath him.

"He's m-meeting Jack at the burger shack this evening... A... Around eight!"

Dagur took another step closer and placed both hands on Fiske's shoulders.

"There, wasn't so hard, was it?" he gave Fiske that awful grin, before a forceful shove, sending him falling backward onto the grassy verge.  He remained there until the two bullies had walked out of sight.  Safe to come out of hiding, Astrid rushed forward.

"That was amazing!" she cheered, helping him up to his feet.

"The terror was real." Fiske admitted, wiping beads of sweat from his brow.  "Do you think he bought it?"

"Definitely." Astrid nodded enthusiastically. "We need to tell Hamish... And later I need to convince you to try out for the school's production of The Tempest."

"I didn't agree to that!" he protested as Astrid dragged them in the direction of the Haddock house.


Chapter Fifteen: To Slay a Dragon


Jack watched as Hamish made the last preparations for their 'date'.  Clad in brown T-shirt that had been manufactured to look like it had a long-sleeved green shirt beneath it, and a pair of jeans with sneakers, Jack envied how easily the emerald-eyed boy seemed to pull off a look that appeared smart, or casual.  Despite what effort he himself could employ, the snow-haired teen would often have his intent frustrated by his often unruly head of hair.

"How do I look?"

"Better than okay." Jack smiled.  "I wish we were going on a real date."

The taller teenager was dressed in brown jeans and his old blue hoodie, it felt strange to be wearing it again after so long.  When he'd first started hanging out with Dagur and Stefan they'd encouraged him to go for the denim look, and for a while he'd liked it, but now the sleeveless denim jacket was a reminder of them, and he'd found himself favouring other choices of clothes.  He'd even been wearing the hoodie again with increasing regularity.

"Same here." Hamish agreed as he glanced at his watch.  "Half past seven, we'd better get going."

Jack nodded and the two teenagers left Hamish's room and clambered down the stairs to the front door.  Out on the porch, the brown-eyed boy waited as his companion locked up.  With the task completed, he stepped in front of his companion to momentarily block his way.

"Don’t do anything more stupid than you have to, okay?  That’s my job." he urged as he kissed Hamish’s forehead.

"I'm sorry I'm putting you in this position." Hamish swallowed to clear his throat.  "But I'm glad you'll be there with me."

"Whatever happens, I love you." the taller teenager rested his forehead against the freckled boy's.

"I know.  I love you too." they then shared a quick kiss, before separating.  "I'll see you at Barry's."

"See you there, Hiccup." Jack nodded with a sad smile, and he took off.  A few moments later Hamish stepped down from the porch and started his walk, he'd be following a slightly shorter route to ensure he arrived before his Jack.


Hamish paused before the ramp leading up to the entrance of Barry Cuda's and extracted his phone from pocket.  He pulled up Jack's number and waited as the line rang.

"Any sign of them?"

"Nothing so far.  Astrid sent me a text about three minutes ago saying she hadn't seen them at all."

"Great." Jack muttered.  "I'll be there soon.  Is Fiske ready?"

"Mr. Ferguson gave him the okay to go ahead with the plan, he should be in there with the microphone."

"Alright." Hamish could almost hear the other boy nodding on the other end of the line.  "Stay safe."

"And you." the freckled boy ended the call and slipped the phone back into his pocket.  He then turned and climbed the steps up to the entrance, his heart beginning to pound in his chest in anticipation.

He'd picked a spot by the bar where Dagur could see him if he looked in through the window, but not that he was obviously sitting out in the open like bait.  As he waited he looked around at the teenagers and adults who were sat around him, enjoying the atmosphere and their company.  He didn't like the fact he was going to have a hand in spoiling their evening, but he felt the ends justified the means.

After several minutes of waiting, his phone chimed.  He opened the message from Astrid:

He's here, watch yourself. I'll try keep Stefan distracted.  

He returned the phone to his pocket and took a deep breath, he was past the point of no return now.  He watched out of the corner of his eye as Dagur and Stefan casually entered the building as if they owned the place.  As soon as the ponytailed boy spotted the freckled teenager he began to approach, calm and not making a scene.  Hamish had heard second-hand from Fiske that after causing an incident two years back, Dagur had been permanently banned from Barry Cuda's.  Like with his hanging out at the school, he obviously didn't care in the least about getting into even more trouble.

Despite his determination, Hamish felt a shiver run up his spine as the bully and his attempted rapist finally arrived at his side.

"Hey Fishbone." Dagur greeted with a toothy smile that might have belonged to a shark.  "How're things between you and the snowflake?"

"We're fine." he responded coldly.

"And here I thought it was all busted up for good, guess you homos are a pretty forgiving bunch." a few of the other patrons stirred uncomfortably at overhearing Dagur's remarks.

"We managed to talk things out, despite what you did."

"So you two are back to fucking, are you?" that dark something flashed in Dagur's eyes again, in contrast to that awful, awful smile.

"I'm done talking." Hamish retorted as he walked past the two antagonists towards the Men's Room.  He pushed through the door and approached the sink.

"We're not done here." Dagur barged through the door behind the freckled teenager, he then pushed Hamish chest-first against the cool tiles of the Men's Room wall, and planted a hand either side of the auburn-haired boy's head, forcing Hamish to have to look over his shoulder at the bully.  "You got your fag boyfriend to beat me up, you got me suspended.  Far as I'm concerned, you owe me."

"I owe you nothing."

"Actually, you do." Hamish did his best not to grimace as he felt Dagur's warm breath on the back of his neck.  "If it weren't for me, you'd still be the same little fucking queer virgin you've been since I first laid eyes on you.  I got Jack to sleep with you, so thanks to me you got laid before the end of High School." he took his hand off of the wall and began to slide his fingers up and down the left side of Hamish's ribcage.  The bully's touch caused the forest-eyed teenager's flesh to shudder.  "Aw now, don't be like that." he slid his hand down across Hamish's buttocks and then between his legs before he then gave the auburn-haired boy a squeeze.

Hamish tried to push back away from the wall, but the stronger teenager forcefully shoved him back.

"This is your problem, you're a fucking tease." Dagur hissed into Hamish's ear.  "You strut around thinking you're the big shot, and then when somebody shows the slightest bit of interest you play hard to get."

"Get your hands off me!" Hamish shouted.

"We had fun last time... Until snowflake barged in.  He isn't here now, so we won't be interrupted.  He doesn't have to know."

"Fun?! You tried to rape me!"

"Call it whatever you want." the bully shrugged nonchalantly.  He then leant in to plant a kiss on Hamish's neck.

"Get.  Off.  Me." Hamish hissed through gritted teeth before he rammed his elbow backwards, slamming into Dagur's gut.

"Shit!" the bully wheezed as he stumbled back.  He then grabbed onto Hamish by his shirt and threw him back at the wall, the sound of fabric ripping filled the air as the neckline of the T-shirt ripped.

"You better hope that Jack got you nice and loose, because I'm not going to pussy around with getting you 'all comfortable'. Pucker up, Hamish, we’re going to have some quality time… ramming it up."

Dagur had only just got his belt unbuckled when the door to one of the cubicles swung open and Fiske stumbled out, microphone in hand.

"Leave him alone you asshole!" the blond boy bellowed, a surge of adrenaline evident in his voice.  A few seconds later the door to the Men's Room burst open, and a burly man with a blond moustache and an angry scowl approached brandishing a large metal spatula in one hand.  Following the large man was Jack, who looked as pissed off as the rest of them.

"You'd better leave that boy alone now or you'll be well tenderised burger meat when I'm done with you." Mr. Ferguson barked.  For the first time in Hamish, Fiske and Jack's lives, they saw the spectre of true fear cross Dagur's face.


Because of the serious nature of the incident (as had been heard by the two-dozen patrons who'd been in Barry Cuda's when the events had suddenly begun to broadcast over the burger shack's audio system), the Berk Police had been notified and had arrived quickly.  Hamish, Jack, Astrid and Fiske had been escorted into the back office by Mr. Ferguson as the Police dealt with Dagur.

"You're every bit the boar-headed, stubborn young man that your father was at your age." George Ferguson remarked as he sat a glass of Fanta in front of Hamish.  "Surely there would've been an easier way to get that boy in trouble with the Police than to offer y'self up like some sacrificial sheep."

The freckled teenager took an eager drink of the liquid before answering.  "There might've been, but as long as he was out anyone at school could've become his next target."

Jack hovered, desperately wanting to give his companion a hug and not let go, but knowing well enough that Hamish's clothes would be needed for evidence against Dagur.

"Make me this one promise, Hiccup.  Never try anything like that again." he pleaded.

"And please don't ever ask me to do anything like that again, it took every bit of me to not come out sooner so I could get everything incriminating." the blond boy requested.

"I won't ask you guys to do that again, I promise." he looked from Fiske, to Astrid, and then to Jack, giving each of his three friends a beaming, but shaken smile.  "Thank you.  Thanks for the help as well, Mr. Ferguson."

"If it's helped to put that pubescent arsonist and would-be rapist in a jail cell, then I'm happy to have helped."

The sound of the door to the office opening drew their attention, and Stoick walked in briskly, followed by one of his subordinates, a female Police Officer with short brown hair.

"Are you okay son? I got here as fast as I could."

"I'm okay Dad, Mr. Ferguson and the others stopped Dagur before anything could happen."

The elder Haddock's face relaxed a little.  "I wish we'd had more to act on from the incident at the school, we might've been able to prevent this."

"At least the little louse has shown his true colours." George interjected.

"My officers tell me you'd all heard it happening over the audio system... How in Odin's name did that happen?"

"Well... Um... You see Chief Haddock; I'd been doing an announcement over the system and had forgotten to turn it off when I went to the bathroom."

Stoick looked at Fiske with a raised eyebrow, before turning to look at the other teenagers and the business owner.  He then turned to his colleague who gave him a slight shrug.

"Stranger things have happened." she offered with some amusement in her voice.

"Very well." Stoick nodded.  "My officers will need to speak with each of you just to get a better idea about what happened." he then focussed his attention on his son.  "I'll grab a change of clothes from the house and have it waiting for you at the station."

With the instruction given, he left the room to the collective relief of the gathered crowd.

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Chapter Twelve: Licking One's Wounds


Darkness.  That's the first thing he recalled when he'd finally awoken.  A pitch black night that'd stretched on forever.  As Jack's faculties returned to him he realised he was lying down, and he tried to sit up.
The attempt was met with a strong and sudden surge of pain in the side of his abdomen, which echoed up to his spine; producing a dull throb in his head that pulsed in synch to his heartbeat.  Hit by a sudden wave of nausea and dizziness, the teenager gingerly lay back down, sighing in annoyance at the state he'd found himself in.

The combination of the pain and his swimming head had robbed him of the chance to try study the strange room he found himself in, all he could determine from the lack of light was that he was on a bed that was surrounded by some large pieces of furniture, and there appeared to be a window on the wall to his right, obscured by thick curtains.

Choosing not to move again, he lay there, trying to reassemble what he last remembered.  He recalled finding Dagur looming over Hamish, he remembered pulling the deranged pervert off of the scared teenager, and then he remembered a sudden darkness which was the precursor to his waking... Wherever he'd woken.  His watch absent and with no apparent clock in the room, he lay there and listened, seeing if he could identify where he was by the ambient sounds.

Beyond what he believed to be a door was a dull murmur, which sounded like quiet voices and shoes clapping against linoleum.  Beyond that, there was nothing useful he could learn.

After a while he'd tried to go back to sleep, but the soreness in his side and the still-present throb prevented him from falling into a slumber.  He was about ready to try shouting at the door, when a polite knock came from the other side.

"Hello?" Jack called out and a face, highlighted by ceiling lights from what looked like a corridor outside, poked through the gap between the door and the frame.

"Good to see you're awake, Mr. Overland.  Would you like me to open those curtains for you, or would you like a little more time to rest?" a soft female voice enquired.

"If you don't mind, could you open them?  I've spent enough time unconscious." the friendly-sounding woman entered the room, and crossed towards the window.

"You might want to close your eyes for a moment, it's bright out." Jack did as he was instructed, and a warm light began to glow behind his lids.  Cautiously he lifted them to see, and he was greeted by the sight of a nurse in her forties with salt-and-pepper hair tied into a bun.  "How are you feeling?"

"Sore, and a little groggy.  Where am I?"

"You're at Berk Medical Centre; you were brought in yesterday evening."

Yesterday evening?! he gaped.  "Does Nicholas Severnaya... Does my guardian know I'm here?"

"Mr. Severnaya was informed as soon as you were brought in, and he spent most of the evening here until the end of visiting hours." she explained as she crossed back to the door.  "The Doctor who treated you last night should be with you shortly.  If you need any assistance with anything, please use the call button beside your bed."

Jack glanced down at the handset that lay on the bedside table to his left.  When he'd looked up again, the nurse had vanished from his room.

As she had predicted, after a brief lull of time a man in his sixties, wearing a white coat poked his head in, a beaming smile on his face at seeing Jack awake and alert.

"Good morning Jack." he greeted amiably. "I'm Doctor Michaels; I was the attending physician when you were brought in last night.  You gave us all a nasty scare when we first saw you."

"How bad is it?"

The Doctor scanned Jack's chart, just to double-check. "You sustained three bruised ribs on your right side, as well as a knock to your head that looked a lot worse than it actually was due to a cut you'd received to your hairline.  We've given you some stitches for the cut and performed an X-Ray to make sure there wasn't anything more serious." he explained as he shone a flashlight into each of Jack's eyes, gauging the pupil response.
 
"Yikes." the white-haired boy remarked, digesting the information.

"I want to keep you in until early afternoon just to make sure there wasn't anything we might have missed, but I'm confident that if nothing crops up, you should get the all-clear and be able to go home later today."

"Thanks, Doc." the teenager nodded.

"You're very welcome." Doctor Michaels smiled.  "I'll be on my rounds for a bit, but I'll pop in later to see how you're doing.  In the meantime, you have a visitor."

Jack looked up as much as he dared, not wanting to set off the throbbing again.  As Doctor Michaels left the room, Nicholas entered, quickly crossing it to greet Jack.  The older man’s face was a portrait of relief.

"My boy, are you alright?"

The teenager managed a slight chuckle.  "I've been better, but I'll live."

"I know some of what happened, but I want you to tell me in your own words."

We're going to do this now? he looked away briefly, thinking where best to begin.
"After he'd been gone for nearly a week, Hamish finally came back to school tod-" he paused to correct himself.  "Yesterday.  At lunch his friends Astrid and Fiske told me he hadn't turned up to meet them, and after we'd asked Stefan-"

"One of this boy Dagur's friends?"

"Yeah..." Jack nodded.  "After speaking to him, we went looking for Hamish and found him trapped in one of the locker rooms with Dagur.  When we finally got the door open, we found Dagur trying to... trying to... Hurt him."

"It's okay Jack, I believe I know what you mean." Nick placed a hand on the white-haired boy's shoulder.

"When I realised what I was seeing, I just got so angry.  He'd done so much to make Hamish's life miserable, and that wasn't enough for that bastard.  I hit him... Nick, I really hit him.  I managed to pull him off Hamish, and I think he hit me or something... I can't really remember anything after that."

"That matches what I'd heard." the guardian nodded.  "I know we've both had a difficult time of recent, but I want you to know, I couldn't be more proud.  You helped someone who was in need." he chuckled a little.  "Maybe you're a guardian too?"

Jack managed a lop-sided smile.  "Maybe."

"Balakirev!  I nearly forgot, I am not only visitor you have today." the bearded man crossed back toward the door and held it open, after speaking for a moment with someone who was stood in the hall outside, a freckled visitor stepped inside.

"Hey." Hamish greeted, with a casual wave.

"Hey..." Jack breathed, his surprise evident.

"There are things I need to attend to, so you can come home later.  I leave you two to talk." Nicholas explained with a knowing wink before he left the room, closing the door behind him.

The two teenagers remained in a laboured silence for a few moments, before Hamish finally spoke.

"So that's Nick." the auburn-haired boy remarked.  "Leaves quite the impression."

"He can be a bit larger than life." the brown-eyed boy admitted.  "He's got a big heart though, and it's always in the right place."

"Yeah." Hamish nodded, taking a few steps closer to the bed.  "How are you feeling?"

"They say I've got a few bruised ribs and had a knock to the head... But it looked worse than it was." he remarked, a pained look then appeared on his face as he acknowledged the elephant in the room.  "Hic... Hamish, about what happened..."

"Wait, please.  Before you say anything, I... Uh... I have something I want to say." the younger teenager walked around the bed and sat in the chair nearest to it.  "When I learned about Dagur's dare, I was upset, hurt and I felt betrayed.  To deliberately mess with my feelings like that was cruel, and a jerkish thing to do..."

"I know.  I'm really sorry that I did that to you." Jack nodded sadly.

"However, I've had a chance to talk to Astrid, and there's obviously a lot more going on than I was first aware of.  She told me about how you were intimidated by Dagur... And given what's happened, you had good reason to be.  She also told me about how you'd admitted that you'd actually developed real feelings for me, that you'd even said you loved me."

"I know it probably won't mean much, but I still do."

"I believe you." the green-eyed boy nodded with a weak smile.

The older teenager licked his lips nervously.  "It was the sight of you the morning after... The morning we woke up together that finally made me realise it.  Until that morning, I'd been trying to convince myself that I was straight, and that what I'd been feeling was just down to being confused from all that biological stuff with my hormones."

"Being attracted to other people of the same gender can be hard to accept at first; our social environment plays a big role in that." Hamish elaborated.

"Either way, I wasn't being honest with you or myself, maybe that's why what we had was doomed to fall apart." he paused, and he took in a deep inhale of breath. "I'm... I'm gay. Really, actually, gay."

Hamish could almost see the wave of relief wash over the teenager.

"How do you feel now?"

"That I'm not lying anymore."

"Good.  I'm glad to hear that." the auburn-haired teen nodded, before a thoughtful expression crossed his face.  Despite how things currently stood between the two of them, Jack couldn't help but note how handsome his companion was when he looked so serious.

"What're you thinking about?"

"I'm trying to decide where we go from here.  Our relationship started with a lie, and I'm not sure what we had can be salvaged." he paused as he tried to put his thoughts into words.  "However, I also can't ignore the fact that even after I'd told you to leave me alone, you still came to help me after Dagur tried to... Rape me.  I saw the look on your face and I heard the anger in your voice... And knowing that he was the one largely responsible for what happened happening... I feel more inclined to hate him." his emerald eyes widened suddenly in sudden realisation. "Here I've been talking, and I haven't even thanked you for saving me."

"It was no problem."

"No, seriously." Hamish interjected.  "You got him off of me and got yourself injured in the process.  Thank you, Jack." he rose from the chair to stand but hovered awkwardly.  "I'd try hug you but I'm worried I might make your bruises worse."

"How about you shake my hand?" he offered his left hand out and the freckled boy shook it gratefully.

"So what does this make us?  Friends?"

"Maybe..." Hamish mused.  "I said our relationship, as it was, was built on a lie, and because of that it can’t be salvaged... But under the circumstances, I'm open to wiping the slate clean and giving it a fresh start with a new relationship... If you want to hang out some time?"

Jack blinked, unable to fully process the development.

"Are you asking me out on a date?"

"No, I'm asking the other guy right in front of me." he teased.

"Ow... please don't make me laugh, it hurts." Jack gasped, tears in his eyes.  Once he'd managed to settle himself down again, he cast an appreciative look Hamish's way.  "I'd like to hang out with you some time... When I'm not such a mess."


Despite the arrival of lunch, both Hamish and Jack had continued to talk.  Fully embracing the fresh start the younger teenager had suggested, the taller boy had started to tell his companion about his earlier life.  As the conversation had progressed he'd admitted that one of the reasons he'd originally gravitated towards Dagur and Stefan had been because in the final months at his previous High School, Jack had become isolated from the rest of the student body.  He hadn't wanted to go through that kind of loneliness again, which had also had the unfortunate result of making him a bit too eager to grasp hold of the first apparent branch of friendship he'd encountered in Berk, little realising that the branch had some concealed thorns.

Nick had eventually returned, along with Dr. Michaels to let the two teenagers know that Jack could be dispatched, and after signing him out the bearded guardian had gone on ahead to ready a few things in the car.

"...I really don't need a wheelchair!" Jack protested.

"Dr. Michaels said it wouldn't hurt to wheel you out to the car, it would help prevent any extra dizziness until you got home." Hamish countered.

"Ugh, fine."

As they exited the main entrance of the Medical Centre they were greeted by the sight of Nick in deep conversation with Stoick, whilst Astrid and Fiske stood nearby.  Upon seeing Jack, the two other teenagers cheered.

"Ow... Tone it down guys; I've still got a bit of a headache."

Stoick broke from his conversation with Nick and stepped forward, towering over Jack.  He then knelt down and removed his peaked Policeman's cap.

"Thank you for helping my Son." he smiled.  "I'm glad to see I was right about you."

"Glad to have helped.  Thanks for coming, Mr. Haddock."

Before responding, Stoick rose back to his full height.  "It was the least I could do, I wanted to see for myself if you were okay." having taken a few steps backward, the Chief of Police had opened the way for Astrid and Fiske to approach.

"Hey guys. Thanks for visiting."

Before Fiske could utter a word, Astrid slugged a fist into Jack's left arm, causing his eyes to widen.

"Ow!" he flinched. "Did I happen to say something about being in a hospital?"

"That... Was for what you did to Hamish." she then leant forward and planted a kiss on his cheek.  "And that was for saving him."

Hamish glanced down at Jack and the white-haired boy returned his look.  "Nope, you’re still stuck with me, freckles." he remarked playfully, gaining a laugh from the rest of the group.

"You guys should come over to the burger shack when you're feeling better."  Fiske interjected. "You can use my employee discount."

"How does that sound, Hic?"

The auburn-haired boy nodded with a grin. "Sounds like a plan."

"Standing here, Jack... I think I was wrong and you were right about Berk." Nick glanced at the others stood around him.  "There are good people here."

Stoick politely coughed, drawing their attention.  "I need to be getting back to the station.  Hamish, I can give you a lift home?"

"Thanks Dad, but if it's alright with Mr. Severnaya... I'd like to go with him and make sure Jack's okay."

After a moment the white-bearded man let out a deep laugh.

"Of course you can!" he beamed.

"That's settled, then." the elder Haddock smiled broadly.  "I'll see you back at the house, Son."

"See you, Dad."
 
 The Chief of Police turned toward Nick before departing. "I’ll be in touch, Mr. Severnaya."

"Thank you, Chief Haddock." the guardian shook the red-bearded man’s hand.  As Stoick departed, Hamish turned to Fiske and Astrid.  "I'll talk to you guys later."

"Sure thing."

"Text me." the blond girl smiled and they gave both boys a wave before walking off.


Chapter Thirteen: A matter of Principal


Due to the seriousness of his injuries and of the incident, Jack had been given permission to take the rest of the week off of school to recuperate, with the hope that he would be able to return the following Monday.

Over the course of the weekend the two teenagers had hung out: watching movies in Jack and Nick's living room, sat out on the back porch and sharing impromptu meals in the kitchen with the white-bearded man, whilst also killing time with Astrid and Fiske.  For the taller of the two boys it was a relief to see their familiar rapport restored, and the increase in morale undoubtedly helped with his recovery.  By Monday morning, he felt like his old self again, and the bruises were quickly fading away.

Jack had been expecting a call to the Principal's Office sooner or later; however he hadn't been expecting to be called in along with Astrid, Hamish and Fiske.  The four teenagers had been sat quietly waiting for five minutes or so when the door to Principal Fisher's office opened and the tall woman with coloured hair granted exit to the taller and imposing figure of Mr. Pitchiner.  The four teenagers had a pretty good idea why they'd been summoned, and given the English teacher’s presence, having been the first teacher that Fiske had found on that day, their conclusion was cemented.  Principal Anna Fisher turned her attention to the four youths.

"Astrid, Hamish, Jack, Fiske... Please come into my office."

The four of them stepped into the room as their Principal closed the door behind them.  Jack and Hamish took the seats closest to the desk, whist Fiske and Astrid sat down on a couch that was sat against the wall with the office door.  Principal Fisher sat down in the chair on the opposite side of the desk and he regarded each of them in turn before she finally spoke.

"Thanks for coming to see me.  I wanted to let you know that the school board has contacted me about their decision regarding the incident last Tuesday.
As you're all aware the school has a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to bullying and violence amongst students... Because of that Mr. Faustino has been indefinitely suspended." she focused her attention on Jack.  "Jack, I want to reassure you that you won't be punished for what you did.  You did what you did to prevent a sexual assault... The board has recognised that and has cleared you of any wrongdoing."

"They only suspended him?" Astrid asked, her disappointment clear as a bell.

Principal Fisher sighed sadly.  "I had wanted to expel Dagur from the school, but the board was reluctant because they didn't think the case for it was strong enough.  They were worried that if his family challenged the decision, there could be enough leeway to overturn the expulsion." her purple eyes spoke of her own disappointment.  "I'm sorry that they didn't take things further."

"So he could come back." Hamish acknowledged sadly.

"It is possible." she nodded.  "Is there anything you four might've forgotten to mention at the time that could help the case against him?" the four youngsters looked amongst themselves, they had nothing.  "I want to let you guys know I haven't given up on this matter.  I don't want someone as dangerous as him back in my school.  Had there been enough for the Police to act on, we might have been looking at a different outcome." she sympathised.


"Un-fucking-believable." Jack muttered, his face a thunder cloud.

"Don't even think about doing anything to him." Hamish insisted.

"Why shouldn't I?  He tried to rape you and he put me in the Med Centre!  He's getting away with a slap on the wrist!"

"I don't want you doing anything to him because I don't want you being brought down to his level." the freckled boy pleaded, now gripping both of the taller teenager's hands. The act, and possibly the look on Hamish's face succeeded in defusing Jack's murderous look, and his expression relaxed.

"I don't deserve you, you know that?"

"No, you'd don't." Hamish smirked before he gave Jack a consolatory peck on the cheek.
 
Astrid decided to cough perceptively, drawing their attention.

"I'm glad to see you guys back together, don't get me wrong.  But we do need to do something about you-know-who."

"Even if he stays clear of you guys, he still makes life miserable for plenty of other kids in the school." Fiske added.  "And because his attempt on you was stopped, he might try something like that again on someone else."

Hamish groaned, before he nodded in reluctant agreement.  "They're right... We need to do something..." he then refocused his look on Jack. "But no hitting him!  His way is violence, we've got to beat him with what he doesn't have an abundance of... Brains." he gave them a determined smirk, which made Jack's eyebrows rise.

"What have you got in mind?" Astrid asked.

"I don't know... Yet... But Dad can't be involved.  If we have any chance of getting something the Police can work with, we can't afford to let Dagur's family claim that the Police entrapped him."


"This is a terrible idea." Jack remarked.  The four of them were crouched in Hamish's room, having decanted to the Haddock house after school had ended.  They'd made sure that Stoick was still out at the station before they began any further discussion concerning Dagur.

"I know it's not perfect, but what other choices are there?"
 
The snow-haired boy had to concede to the forest-eyed teenager's point.  They didn't have many other options.

"Dagur's suspended until further notice, which means there's no chance of catching him on school grounds.  I think the next best thing that could work is confront him directly about it and see if he admits to what he tried to do."

"You could try recording anything he says." Fiske nodded as he idly stroked Toothless's back.

"I don't think anything we could record would be admissible." Hamish countered.  "We need him to confess in front of independent witnesses."

Fiske appeared to be lost in thought for a few moments before his eyes widened.

"Hold on guys... How easy would it be to get Dagur to Barry Cuda's?"

The three other teenagers looked amongst themselves.

"He might try follow me if he saw me.  He's obsessed with me enough as it is, and he might want to pay me back for getting him suspended." Hamish considered.  "What’ve you got in mind?"

"We have wireless microphones for the music station at work.  If you can get Dagur to go into one of the bathrooms with you, one of us could be hidden in there with the microphone... We could then broadcast anything he says to you over the speakers."

"It's still pretty risky, what if Snotlout comes along with him?"

"Leave him to me." Astrid smirked.

"Okay, so we're going to have to bait Dagur." Hamish nodded, before turning to Jack. "Where would he hang out whenever he wasn't in class?"

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Chapter Ten: All that remains


As he’d feared, Hamish hadn't turned up to his class at all.  Not wanting to see him get into trouble from being tardy, Jack had made sure to inform Mr. Pitchiner that the freckled boy had gone home because he was feeling ill.

In contrast to the morning, the remainder of the afternoon dragged on nearly endlessly, leaving too much time for Jack's thoughts to linger on the disaster during lunch.  When the final bell rang at the end of the school day, he traipsed slowly over to his car in the parking lot and slid the key into the door. He didn't proceed any further, instead opting to rest his head against the cool metalwork.

What the hell do I do now? he thought despondently, lost as to how to proceed.


Hamish didn't return to school for classes on Tuesday, or for Wednesday.  Eventually he missed an entire week of attendance, a week that was only made slightly less worse by the thankful fact that Dagur and Stefan had decided to leave Jack alone, the damage having been done.

On the eve of the weekend, he'd tried to call the auburn-haired boy, but all his calls would do was ring before eventually going to voicemail.  It wasn't long at all before his attempts would only go to voicemail, indicating that Hamish had turned his phone off.

The thought had occurred to Jack to go to the Haddocks' house and try speaking to him directly, but he'd quickly dismissed it.  Unable to make any progress, the he'd fallen into the habit of brooding over what had happened.  Although Nicholas had picked up in the change in Jack's attitude, the teenager was unwilling to open up, frustrating his guardian's attempts to help and find the source of the problem.

A fresh Monday dawned and Jack dragged himself out of bed.  Part of him was reluctant to go to school, but his desire to try fix things with Hamish won him over, leading to him missing the first period of the day in the hope he might catch his freckled former friend arriving.  At lunch Jack sat alone, eating his meal disinterestedly and looking miserable.  He deserved it; he knew that, as he poked his fork at his mashed potatoes, no longer feeling hungry.

By the end of classes, Jack returned to his car, knowing that Hamish had now missed a fifth day of school in a row. As he unlocked the sedan, he felt a presence behind him, and turned to see Astrid marching up to him, with what looked like murder in her blue eyes.

"Did nothing I say about Hamish sink into that thick, peroxide bleached skull of yours?"

He backed up against the vehicle, never having seen such anger and intense hatred from the girl before - having not seen her for most of the previous week, her resentment toward him had built up into a volcano.

"It all did!" he shouted.  "What you'd told me about Stefan picking on him, that he's had a rough time because of his cousin and Dagur... That you were the first person he came out to and you helped him come out to his Dad.  I even know a little about how his mother passed away when he was young!"

Astrid looked a little disarmed at his response, and her expression softened to a degree. "Then why did you do it?"

He looked her square in the eye. "Because I'm a coward, I'm desperate for acceptance and because I was probably as scared of Dagur as Hiccup was." he slid down the side of the car into a sitting position.  Opposite him, she sat down on the patch of grass adjacent to the parking spot.  "Hell, I think I was probably even more scared than Hamish.  Despite all the shit Dagur put him through over the two months since I moved here, I never once saw him get a rise out of Hamish.  I wish I could've been that strong."

"You managed to stop Dagur and Snotlout when they were hurting him in the Locker Room."

He looked up at her sceptically.  "For all I know they probably arranged that so I'd come in and save him, making him think better of me."

"Maybe they did, but what did you feel when you found them?"

"Angry." he responded.  "Pissed off they were picking on him."

"Go on."

"And after I managed to get rid of the pair of them, I felt better.  I felt better knowing that despite what they'd done to him, he was going to be okay."

"And how did you feel after what happened on Monday?"

He looked at her, wondering where this was going.

"Like a little shit.  I hated seeing how hurt... How... Betrayed Hamish looked, at how you looked... At how disappointed Fiske was with me.  I hated what had happened, and I fucking hate Dagur and Snotlout."

"You hate them for what they did to you and Hamish."

"Yes."

"Because..."

"Because I love him."

Jack paused, a tad shocked at the certainty in his admission.  Astrid eased herself back, a knowing smile now on her face.

"I believe you." she nodded.  "It's a mess, a real big one."

"I make a mess of everything." he lamented, letting his head swing down so that he could get a good, long look at his sneakers.

"So what are you going to do?"

He looked apoplectic.  "What can I do? I've fucked things up with him; he doesn't want to talk to me... He's been out of school nearly a week now. I tried calling him, but he didn't respond."

"Did you go to his house?"

Jack shook his head.  "I thought about it, but I didn't want to add a charge of stalking onto things."

"Maybe you should go see him." she suggested.

"I probably can't do much more damage at his point." he remarked sadly.  He then gave her a look expressing his curiosity.  "Why are you trying to help me?"

"Because as I once said to Hamish, he was the happiest I'd ever seen him when he was dating you... And I want to see him that happy again." she explained. "I have no idea if what you broke... Unintentionally... Can be fixed, but if you really do love him, then you'll give it a shot.  You've already done something incredibly stupid, you might as well try something crazy."

"Something crazy." he smirked despite how he felt.


He couldn't believe he was doing this, but he acknowledged that desperate times called for desperate measures.  Jack hesitated only a moment before pushing the button for the bell, and he then waited for what felt to him an excruciatingly long span of time.

The door opened to reveal Stoick, a scowl of anger appearing on the Chief of Police's face.

"Leave now, Jack." he directed coldly.

"Chief Haddock, please wait!" the white-haired teenager held up both hands as he pleaded.  "What I did to Hamish was stupid, selfish and I deserve your anger." he paused, nervously running a hand through his hair.  "I'm sorry for how I treated your son, he deserved better than that.  If he never wants to see me again, then I'm prepared for that... I'd just like to apologise to him... If I can."

The bearded man scrutinised the rakish teenager on his porch, to Jack it felt like the elder Haddock was surveying his soul.

"I'll see if he's prepared to come down from his room.  Stay here."

The door clicked closed as Stoick walked away, and Jack shoved his hands into the pockets of his jeans to stop them fidgeting as he waited.


Stoick's hand hovered inches from the door to Hamish's room before he gave it a knock.  After a few moments of waiting without an answer, he slowly opened the door and peeked inside.  Hamish was sat at his desk by his computer, a set of headphones on his head.

"Hamish?  Son?" the freckled boy didn't respond, the only movement came from Toothless as the black cat perked his head up at the sound of the older man's voice.

The elder Haddock sighed in frustration.  "You might have better luck convincing me you hadn't heard anything if your headphones were actually plugged in."
The auburn-haired boy's shoulders slumped and he looked down to see the headphone jack dangling towards the floorboards.  With more animation than was necessary he slid the item off of his head and dumped it on the desk beside the computer.  "There's somebody at the door who'd like to speak to you."

"I don't want to see him."

Stoick nodded sadly, wishing that he hadn't heard the tone in his son's voice.  "I'll be starting dinner in a little bit, we could eat together or I can bring yours up if you'd prefer."

"I'll let you know, Dad."

The bearded man closed the door as he made his way back towards the stairs, shaking his head at what was transpiring.


Jack's face had fallen as soon as the Police Chief had told him that Hamish didn't want to see him.

"Thanks for trying, Chief Haddock." he nodded glumly and turned to walk away.

"Jack, could you wait a minute?" Stoick stepped out onto the porch, closing the door behind him.  "What happened with Hamish is something nobody should have to go through.  He's feeling hurt and betrayed, as well as disappointed in someone he trusted and was opening up to." he paused to let what he'd said sink into the teenager.
 "Now with that said, I like to believe I'm a good judge of character... It's something I've honed after all the years I've been working for the department.  I do believe that despite what's happened, you aren't a bad kid... Just that you've had some bad influences in your life since you moved here."

Jack nodded. "Dagur and Stefan."

"I've been aware of those two for a while, and I've had a few conversations with Stefan's father about how his boy has been treating mine.  My gut tells me that despite what influence they've had on you, you're a good lad, and I believe you when you say you're sorry for what happened to Hamish."

"What does your gut tell you when I say... I love him?"

Stoick paused as Jack's admission sank in.  "It tells me you're telling the truth." Stoick approached the teenager with a sympathetic face.  "He needs time.  At the moment he's acting only on his feelings, his anger and his hurt heart.  He's a smart boy, and when he starts acting with his head along with his heart, I hope that you two can start again... But for that he needs time, and some distance will also help."

The white-haired boy chuckled sadly.  "You've got a good way with words... You ever consider running for Mayor when you retire?"

Stoick scowled at the idea.  "I'd rather not go into politics if it's all the same.  Too much drama, if you can believe it."

Jack was smiling now, it wasn't at full strength, but it was getting there.  "Thanks for the talk, Chief Haddock."

"Mr. Haddock." the bearded man corrected.  "You'd better get going, I imagine your guardian's probably worried about where you've gotten too."

"Yeah." the tall boy nodded, a moment later a look of sad resolution materialised on his face.  "I should tell him what happened."

Stoick watched as Jack walked away and climbed into his car.  Turning to head back into the house, he looked up to see Hamish stood at his bedroom window, watching as the red vehicle slipped away.


Chapter Eleven: The moments where we fall


The sound of humming led Jack to Nick's makeshift workshop in the garage joined to their house.  He was hunched over his desk painting an intricate design on a wooden toy when the teenager appeared at the door.

"Jack!" he greeted, his eyes dancing with warmth.

"Hey, Nick."

"I have toy prototype I'd like to show you." he smiled, before setting the item down and switching off the magnifying lamp he'd been using.  "But first, how was school?"

"It's... Complicated.  Can we go inside?"

"Sure, sure." Nick nodded as they re-entered the main structure of the house and sat down at the breakfast nook.  "Tell me what is on mind."

Over the course of the next twenty minutes, Jack told his guardian everything: Dagur and Stefan, and the influence they'd had on him, the dare, Hamish, the dates they'd been on; Jack's struggle and acceptance of his sexuality, realising his feelings for Hamish, the falling out following the revelation the previous week and his conversation with Stoick from earlier that evening.

During the length of Jack's confession, Nicholas had remained silent; his only responses were a selection of subtle facial expressions and an appropriate nod here and there. Once the white-haired boy had finished talking, he looked to his guardian for a response.

"Oh Jack..." Nick sighed, sadness in his eyes. "I wish you'd told me sooner, I could've helped."

"I know." he watched as his guardian rose to his feet and opened the door that led out into the back yard for the kitchen, letting in a cool breeze from outside.

"I had hoped that coming here would help us both.  That it would be like Spring: a new beginning.  I fear I am wrong.  There are too many bad holds on you here."

Jack shot to his feet.  "But there are good ones here!  Astrid, Fiske... there's Hamish."

Nick glanced back at him.  "And you broke his trust, and also maybe his heart."

"I know..."

The white bearded man allowed a silence to descend between them as he considered what to do.  "We should at least wait and see when he returns to school, after that... We'll need to talk."

Jack nodded glumly.


The question of when Hamish would make his return was answered at the start of classes on Tuesday.  He looked worn down and sullen, a ghost of his former self.  When he'd first arrived he'd been met by Fiske and Astrid, the latter of whom had given him a strong hug.  Jack had watched from a distance, wanting to be there but knowing that if there was any hope for the two of them, he'd have to let the freckled teenager be the one to make the first move.

In Geography, Jack had deliberately arrived after the auburn-haired boy so that he could pick the desk furthest away from Hamish.

The ivory-haired boy had tried to pour his concentration into his classwork, but he'd found himself stealing glances towards his former friend and lover during the two-hour class.  When the bell for recess rang, the freckled boy was the first out and instantly lost amongst the crowd of students in the hall.

A break came with the single period of Science between recess and lunch, and Jack was able to preoccupy himself with learning about the Periodic Table.  The Science lesson had ended more quickly than he'd liked, and he was once again in that familiar, uncomfortable environment where his relationship with Hamish had imploded.


Hamish was relieved that he'd only had one lesson with Jack, and that the taller teenager had chosen to sit as far away as he could from him.  Despite his relief, he was in no mood to talk to the snow-haired jerk any time soon, and he tried to force out the thoughts of Overland in favour of grabbing his books for his next class after lunch.

Sadly, somebody behind him had something else in mind.  He emitted a muffled yelp as one hand was clamped across his mouth and the other strong-armed him in the direction of the gym, pushing him forcefully.  Hamish flinched as he was banged against the door to the boys' Locker Room and was thrown to the cold tiles, his backpack dropping to the floor like a heavy sack of potatoes.

On all fours, he looked over his shoulder to see Dagur standing over him, a broad and unsettling grin plastered across his face.

"No Astrid, no Fishlegs, no Jack." the red-haired bully tutted.  "Not very clever, letting yourself get caught alone."

"You already got him to humiliate me, what more do you want?"

"I want to teach you a lesson." he took a step forward and knelt down to get a closer look at his prey.  "You've been strutting around here like some fucking peacock ever since you announced you were a fairy, and somebody needs to fix that."

Hamish shook his head in disbelief.

"What?" he asked incredulously.  "It's not something that can be fixed... It's innate, it's determined before you're born!"

"No!" the bully bellowed, startling the auburn-haired teenager. "No it fucking isn't!  It's a goddamn choice.  You chose to be a homo and I'm going to fuck some sense into you."

Hamish gaped.  "You're absolutely crazy." the instant he saw Dagur starting to unbuckle his belt he began to back up and shouted for help.


Jack had planned to hang back from going to the cafeteria straight away so that he could give Hamish more space and let him have his lunch in peace.  In the distance he spotted Astrid and Fiske turn and see him, before quickly approaching him with urgency.

"Have you seen Hamish?" Astrid enquired, concern in her voice.

"Not since Geography, why?"

"He was supposed to meet us for lunch, but he hasn't shown up." Fiske interjected.

"He's probably just finishing things up at his locker..." Jack trailed off as he noticed Stefan walking towards the cafeteria.  "Hey, Snotlout!"

Stefan stiffened and spun, anger on his face.  The anger melted into surprise as Jack, followed by Astrid and Fiske cornered him.

"Where's Dagur?  You two are always thick as thieves." she demanded, an edge of menace in her voice.

"Who cares?  He isn't the boss of me."

It was Jack's time to confront the bully.  "I've know you two nearly three months and I've never seen you guys apart, where is he?  What's he done to Hamish?!"

Stefan was starting to look uncomfortable under their combined presence.  His attitude diminished as he finally caved.  "He said he had to do something and then he'd meet me for lunch.  I swear he didn't tell me what it was."

"Why should we believe you?" the blond girl arched an eyebrow.

The chestnut-haired boy was starting to look desperate.  "Because he fucking terrifies me, okay?  He used to be alright years ago, but ever since he started going after Hiccup he's been obsessed with him!  That's all I know, I swear!"

"Where could he be?" the blond boy asked, his face written with worry.

"Where you broke up that earlier fight with Hamish and Dagur." Astrid deduced, looking straight at Jack.


Muffled noises greeted them as they raced to the locker rooms at the Gym.  Finding the door locked, Jack began to kick at it.  Although it shook in the frame, it didn't budge any further.

"We need to barge it." Fiske instructed, before he and Jack took several steps back and hit it with their shoulders.  Their combined mass caused the door to shake and something in the handle to crack.

"Again!" Astrid shouted, and the two boys hit it a second time, causing it to open a few inches as the lock started to fail. "AGAIN!"

They hit the door a third and final time, breaking it open.  Jack tumbled into the room, whilst Fiske kept his balance by grabbing onto the splintered frame.  As Astrid entered behind him, the snowy-haired teen rose to a crouch and witnessed the horrible scene unfolding in front of them.  Dagur hovered over Hamish in only his T-shirt and his underwear, his jeans discarded on one of the benches.  Huddled on the floor was Hamish, one of the bully's hands planted across his mouth and stripped of his shirt.  The item of clothing appeared to be tied around his wrists, binding his arms behind him. He looked imploringly at them whilst the bully, seemingly ignorant of the new arrivals, leaned towards his intended victim.

"Get a teacher!" the blond girl cried as a sick realisation overwhelmed Jack.

He's going to rape him... he gaped, his mind reeling as he looked around.  His eyes suddenly landed on a wooden broom in one corner of the room.  Without thinking he grabbed the item and ran to aid his friend, with Astrid following close behind.

Just as Dagur made a move towards the freckled boy's belt, Jack slammed the head of the broom against the tormentor's ribcage.  He tugged the stunned Dagur off of Hamish and threw him to the floor.  As he took care of the ponytailed bully, Astrid knelt down and quickly unbound Hamish's wrists.

"Fuck you." Dagur wheezed.

"Go to Hell you deranged bastard." Jack snarled.  A moment later the bully had pounced from where he was lying and tackled the taller teenager to the floor.  For a split-second Jack was aware of a sudden pain at the back of his head, and then the lights went out.

I don't think I can adequately describe how much I love this series.  The animation (backgrounds and characters) is beautiful, the jokes and in-jokes great, the comedy has had me laughing out loud and I'm enjoying all the little nuances and depth that the cast continue to reveal. :)

Without a doubt, one of the best shows to come out of Disney in years, and really evokes what I liked best about The X-Files and Supernatural, rather than the over-arcing alien conspiracy, I preferred the one-off* "monster of the week" stories.

* Adrian Toomes still effectively counts as a "one-off".
  • Mood: Cheerful
  • Listening to: BABA
  • Reading: Journal #3
  • Watching: Gravity Falls
  • Playing: NORT
  • Eating: Nachos
  • Drinking: Pitt

deviantID

kingpin1055
Ben King
Artist | Hobbyist | Digital Art
United Kingdom
Current Residence: A house...no, really
Favourite genre of music: A wide variety
Favourite photographer: None I'm aware of, they're generally all good.
Favourite style of art: No explicet style
Operating System: Windows/Windows XP
MP3 player of choice: Either Windows Media or my Creative Labs MP3 player
Shell of choice: Conch... I'm a fan of "The Lord of the Flies".
Wallpaper of choice: Is flock out? Oh well...
Skin of choice: Fleshy
Favourite cartoon character: I have a lot of favourites, Homer Simpson, Peter Venkman, Garfield the cat...
Personal Quote: "We have the tools, we have the talent"
Interests

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HarshRealities Featured By Owner 2 days ago
Thanks for the +Fav!
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kingpin1055 Featured By Owner 1 day ago  Hobbyist Digital Artist
You're welcome! :)
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UrsusVanDraco Featured By Owner 5 days ago  Hobbyist General Artist
thanks for noticing and :+fav:ing my photo :)
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kingpin1055 Featured By Owner 1 day ago  Hobbyist Digital Artist
No problem. :)
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Thanks for the fave!
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kingpin1055 Featured By Owner Aug 18, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
You're welcome! :)
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LupusWorax Featured By Owner Aug 12, 2015
Thank you for having an eye on me :)
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kingpin1055 Featured By Owner Aug 18, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
No problem. :)
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Altair-E Featured By Owner Aug 9, 2015  Hobbyist Digital Artist
Thanks so much for the fav, it's real pleasure that you like this work! Fav fella (Badge) by Ehsartem 

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You're welcome, and you earned it. :)
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