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Those Below the Alpha: Ending 1

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Ending 1: Reconciliation

-TBtA-

Hiccup jumps forward:

-TBtA-

He planted his feet upon landing, throwing out his arms between Toothless and his mom. “Bud! No!”

Gagging, Toothless swallowed his blast. The Night Fury almost seemed taken aback by Hiccup’s decision to place himself in harm’s way to protect the others. Coughing a little, his blue glow fading, Toothless stared at Hiccup’s outstretched arms in confusion. Then, slowly, a different kind of light from his Alpha mode began to glow behind Toothless’ eyes. Realization.

Hiccup yelped as Toothless tackled him. “Agh--! Wait, no--!”

Toothless assaulted Hiccup with licks, slobbering all over the flight suit. Apologetic licks to the face, worried licks to the chest, and everything in between. Hiccup wriggled, trying to keep the saliva out of his own mouth.

Eventually, Toothless let him up. Hiccup stumbled away, sputtering. “Toothless! How many times have I said this doesn’t wash out?!”

Dripping with saliva, Hiccup looked at his best friend. All the round friendship Hiccup had learned to expect in his eyes was back, and stronger than ever. Toothless whimpered, looking away in embarrassment as he begged Hiccup to forgive him for everything that had happened over the past few days, everything he’d done.

Hiccup wanted to forgive him, but other movement caught his eye. His mother was checking on Astrid. His moment with Toothless broken, Hiccup went to check on her as well.

Astrid coughed awake, touching her chest, then pulling herself up. She groaned. “Gh- Gods. Toothless sure can--” She coughed. “... kick.”

“Are you okay?” Hiccup asked, wanting to help support her, but not sure where to put his hands. Valka held her back, helping her sit up.

“Y- Yeah,” Astrid gasped, “Just had... the wind… knocked out of me.”

Toothless cooed, sticking his snout over the foot of the crushed bed and into her face.

Astrid jerked. “W- Woah!”

He crooned again, clearly trying to apologize for hurting Astrid. Hiccup grabbed his head and gave him a scratch, making sure to rub a lot of Toothless’ saliva back onto him. “Aww, bud, she knows you’re sorry.”

Valka grinned at Hiccup and Toothless. “I knew you two wouldn't fight.”

Hiccup nodded, giving Toothless a rub under the chin. “I don't know what got into him over the past few days, but I think seeing me standing between him and you two snapped him out of it.” He shook his head. “Bridging the worlds between dragon and human, huh bud?”

Toothless whimpered again, nuzzling close to Hiccup and humming apologies.

“Yeah, bud, I know. I'm sorry I left you in the house, too.”

Astrid gave another cough. “W- Where’s Stormfly?”

As if on cue, the squawk of a Deadly Nadder made itself known through the backdoor. Astrid scrambled up, limping over to the blue and yellow head peering in.

“Storm… fly!” Astrid gasped, falling against her dragon, grinning. “Wow… I was… actually… kinda worried…”

Toothless whimpered again. Stormfly squawked loudly and angrily in his direction. Toothless’ ears shot up, his nose momentarily glowing blue… then he let it go. The Night Fury leaned into Hiccup, humming and seeking affection.

“You know,” Valka cut into both happy reunions, “I think both of your dragons will probably want to go flying with you.” She smiled slyly. “And I've found, the best way to get a dragon to listen to you is where they feel safest: in the sky…”

-TBtA-

A week later…

Toothless stood perched on the mast of the fishing ship, watching the sky warily. The deck below had five or six full nets of fish, all of which needed to be unloaded, sorted, and stored for winter so the human population of Berk wouldn't starve.

All that fish was attracting a lot of attention from the wild dragons still living on Berk.

Out of the wild blue sky, a Terrible Terror shot to the deck of the ship. It began slithering along the deck, headed toward a fish that had come loose from its catch.

Toothless roared, his throat flaring blue. Startled and controlled by the Alpha of dragons, the small dragon took wing without its prize.

Hiccup, balanced on Toothless’ neck as the dragon balanced on the mast, gave his Night Fury a rub. “Thanks, bud. You're doing great.”

Toothless crooned, turning to look over his shoulder as he remained vigilant of the sky.

The boat bumped into the docks. Standing up in Toothless’ stirrups, Hiccup shouted to the Vikings on the decks, “Start unloading! Remember, fabric covers first, then carry to the lower storehouse!”

There had been storehouses, plural, down on the docks. Sadly, the other two had been crushed by Drago's Bewilderbeast. Until they had more time, they were making do with one.

Vikings jumped off the docks and onto the ships, bringing large pieces of fabric that they wrapped over the fishnets, and all the fish inside. Toothless, spotting a wild Nadder heading for one of the uncovered nets, gave another roar. “Keep going, guys!” Hiccup encouraged the Vikings below.

Toothless shook his head as the Nadder flew off, the blue in his nostrils fading away. Hiccup patted him on the head.

“Not sure why they want this fish, bud, but I’m glad you're here.” Hiccup crossed his arms. “It's not like there aren't torch towers full of fish just for them, or anything.”

The sound of quick flapping rapidly approached. Toothless turned to roar again, then stopped and cocked his head. Hiccup turned to look.

“Fishlegs! What do you need?”

“Hiccup! I made a mistake!” Fishlegs squeaked.

Hiccup's blood ran cold. “A mistake? What are you talking about?”

“The fish-fabric-covers!” Fishlegs cried, “If we just carried them out to the fishermen with any dragon, we wouldn't need you and Toothless to guard the fish! It'd already be covered as it came in! O- Or if we had sent them out with the covers in the first place…!”

Hiccup relaxed, actually putting his hand to his head. That was a really simple solution; It was almost comical that he hadn't thought about it. “Fishlegs,” Hiccup cut into the other Viking’s babble, “You're right, that would be much easier. But, please, when you say mistake, I’m worried a whole flock of Gronckles is going to fall on our heads.”

“But… But…”

“Fishlegs,” Hiccup repeated, “You're right. Thank you. Write it down for next time and let us finish up here--”

Toothless sniffed, swinging his head.

Hiccup looked down. “What’s up, bud?” He looked past his friend, noticing the clear deck and the retreating Vikings. “Oh, okay, we are finished here.”

“'Iccup!” someone called from below. Hiccup turned around, looking over the sail and under Toothless’ wing at Bucket and Mulch, standing on the dock. “Thanks for the escort, lad! Y’ probably saved five a’ those catches!”

Hiccup grinned. “It’s my job. ‘Lesson one: A chief's first duty is to his people.’”

Toothless snorted, nodding in agreement. He and Hiccup had gone over the things Hiccup had learned from his father about being a leader many times since Toothless’ incidents with Hookfang and Stormfly.

… All two things Hiccup had learned.

“I think tha’s about all we need!” Mulch called up.

“What did we need?” Bucket asked.

“Oh, nothin’ Bucket. Le’s go help preserve the fish.”

Toothless, eager to stop balancing on the ship’s mast, shot into the air the moment Hiccup opened his tailfin. The two of them spiraled upward, leveling off above Berk’s highest mountain in the afternoon sky.

“Wow. You get antsy balancing on that ship, bud?” Hiccup asked.

Toothless growled an assent, wobbling in the air as he shook out his legs.

“Don't worry. I think that's probably the last time we’ll have to do that.”

Toothless glanced under his wing, back behind them. A moment later, Hiccup heard the heavier wingbeats as well. Locking Toothless’ tail, Hiccup knelt on Toothless’ back, turning around to watch their new flying companions arrive.

“Hey mom! Astrid!”

Astrid sat strapped securely in Stormfly's saddle, the Nadder settling in behind Toothless without comment or fanfare. Valka and Cloudjumper, on the other hand, rose much higher up than Toothless’ glide plane, diving back down, then spiralling to bleed speed. Of course, Valka stood on Cloudjumper's bare neck through the entire maneuver -- the showoff.

“How do you do that without falling?!” Hiccup asked his mom as he carefully stood on Toothless’ neck, wobbling.

“Practice, Hiccup!” Valka shouted back over the wind of their altitude.

Astrid snorted. “I think you're both crazy. Hiccup, how'd the fishing escort go?”

“Fine, just… just fine.” Hiccup looked to Valka, remembering something. Astrid had mentioned “both” and something back when Toothless was still a little bit crazy with his Alpha power had resonated with that…

He remembered. “Hey, mom, I have a question!”

“Oh?” Valka asked, strolling up Cloudjumper's back and onto his wing to get a little closer to Hiccup and Toothless.

“When I told you Astrid was moving in,” something that had happened the night he and Toothless had reconciled, “You didn't seem happy about it.”

Valka dropped into a crouch, grabbing Cloudjumper's wing as they passed through a spot of turbulence. She didn't let go when the air cleared. “That's actually quite a story, Hiccup.”

Hiccup took a step up Toothless’ back, off the saddle, then dropped back to a crouch. He wasn't cut out for this. Or maybe it was him and Toothless both. He was much better at falling than at trying to balance. He and Toothless were much better at falling. “Well, I've got two hours before Toothless and I need to help Gobber with the new storehouse.” He'd planned in this flying practice specifically because he had a lot of free time. “What's the story?”

Valka smiled, patting Cloudjumper's wing. Standing up suddenly, she practically danced back to Cloudjumper's neck. Standing back in her usual place, she grabbed on. “I think, Hiccup, that's a story for another time, perhaps many years from now. Though, you might already have a guess!”

Cloudjumper bled altitude, shooting out past Toothless toward the mountains of Berk. Growling, Toothless accepted the race, pumping his wings. Hiccup lost his balance, toppling off of his friend’s and smacking his wing. “Agh! Toothless!”

Hiccup heard Toothless’ roar as he fell. As suddenly as he'd begun to fall, a pair of taloned feet wrapped around his arms and arrested his descent.

Hiccup looked up. Astrid looked down, around Stormfly's neck.

“Saved your life again, Hiccup!”

“What?” Hiccup spluttered, “When was the last time?! And I'll have you know, I had that totally under control!”

Toothless dove past them, spiralling a little due to his fixed tailfin not matching his organic one. He roared again.

“Bud! I’m coming!”

Astrid smirked. “Stormfly, drop!”

Hiccup swung his legs, planning to kick off Stormfly's chest as he’d done Hookfang's when trying to get kidnapped by Eret. It didn't work, because Stormfly dropped him before his feet were in position. “Hey!”

“Good girl, Stormfly!”

Hiccup rolled his eyes, focusing on controlling his dive and finding Toothless. Without his helmet, his eyes watered. He made a note to himself -- one of a pile all reading the same thing -- that he really needed to get around to making a new one.

Toothless came up a lot faster than he expected. He smacked into his dragon’s wing, disrupting Toothless’ just re-stabilized flight. They dropped, together, diving side by side.

Hiccup looked at Toothless. Toothless looked at Hiccup. “Y’know, bud, I like this a lot better than balancing on your back!” Hiccup shouted over the wind.

Toothless glanced downward, then warbled and gestured to his neck, the action making him spin. Hiccup stretched out an arm, grabbing onto the saddle and settling down. He unlocked the tailfin, then followed Toothless’ lead as they pulled out of the dive into rushing, eye-watering flight.

“But this is great too,” Hiccup shouted into his friend's neck, the two of them shooting clear over all of Berk’s buildings in a matter of seconds.

As they slowed down, Hiccup stared at the blue ocean ahead of them -- the infinite horizon. He marvelled again at how, a week ago, he’d come a few moments from losing his friend to the corruption of power. If Toothless hadn't seen Hiccup's gesture as protective… If Hiccup had done something else...

Hiccup dispelled the thought, giving Toothless a rub. The Night Fury would never do something to hurt anyone that permanently -- especially not him.

Right?

-TBtA-