AN: So sorry about the late update. I needed to figure this out. I like a lot of what I put in here but I'm not sure whether or not I should have included more into the bible study. I sort of skimmed through it since it didn't really have any specific meaning in the actual plot line.
In this chapter Hiccup has almost no dialogue. He's simply observing. This sort of just explains the home group set up. I wanted to include this though to kind of show Hiccup's anxiety and how he will possibly start to trust in Fishlegs a bit more. This will also stack more questions onto Hiccup's plate. He's also pretty nervous about being around Snotlout again. In the last chapter Hiccup says he hadn't seen him in few years. To be more specific, they hadn't seen each other since freshmen year of high school which will briefly be mentioned. It'll be explained why they haven't seen each other in a future chapter. Probably the next one. The hunk of Hiccup's background or 'testimony' won't be revealed until even later.
I want to note again like I already in did in my author's notes in chapter one that this is indeed a religious story. You don't have to read if you don't want to. I don't intend to write anything accusatory or offensive either. I do ask that you be considerate when writing reviews for my sake and other religious readers. Also, because not all of this is fiction. I'm using just a bit of my personal experience in the story. Thanks.
Shout out to Grizzly98 who reviewed my 'The One-Legged Truth' story. You understand what this site is all about: self-expression. Thank you so much for reading my stories. I don't know if you're following this one but I hope you read this. Thanks for the review.
I am loving all the reviews on this story! I really appreciate you guys giving me feedback and encouraging me to continue. Thank you.
I don't own How to Train Your Dragon or the song Come to the Alter that's used in this chapter.
I hope you enjoy!
There was silence as Hiccup took in the sight of the surprisingly timid Snotlout. Hiccup looked him over and noted the backpack that hung on his shoulders. He was pretty certain that Snotlout never carried a backpack when they went to school together. In fact, every class he walked into he'd take pencils from other students to do his work; if he did his work.
He never carried a backpack. He was just like those bullies on those silly TV shows or in those cheaply made movies about morals. He was big like bullies on TV. He laughed and scorned. He pushed and shoved. Just like on TV... He was never scared of teachers. He wasn't scared of anything. He was the perfect image; perfect example of the American bully. One that would never change.
And now, he cowers. He's cowering in front of the face of abused innocence; his biggest victim. He's cowering in front of his past as it stares back at him.
Hiccup's former image of Snotlout started to crumble at that exact moment. What happened? This was not the same boy from freshmen year of high school. How was he to respond to Snotlout who was no longer Snotlout? Should he acknowledge the former or the latter? They're two distinctly different people. Who was real?
The silence that reigned for a total of five seconds seemed to have lasted an eternity. The absence of utterance, word, and sound ended when the front door burst opened and so also the flood gates. Students started to pour into the house which suddenly seemed much smaller to Hiccup. Old friends greeted each other and introduced themselves to the new as Hiccup tried his best to stay out of the way. His breathing started to become labored as the noise increased. People started to notice him and greet him. He tried his best to remember each face and to keep the sweat off his palms as he shook hands with everyone. He registered the loud boisterous sound of the twins, whom he assumed were the same people from Astrid's story about the giant traffic cone. Even those distinct voices soon blended into the constant, rumbling reverberation that filled his ears. His heart sped up. He looked around in almost desperation for a familiar blonde.
As quickly as the noise overcame his senses, the sounds settled into distinguishable speech as he felt a hand fall onto his shoulder gaining his focus. He turned to see Fishlegs offering a comforting glance and a smile as he stuck by his side. He stuck close to Fishlegs and when he found a seat in the living room Hiccup was quick to find his own. He didn't want to have to sit of the floor and try to find a way back up again later. By the time Chloe returned, everyone had settled into the same living space and soon the bible study was in full swing. Hiccup would have to worry about Snotlout later. For now, he had questions he wished to be answered.
He listened as Astrid sang the lyrics to Come to the Altar. The song had a very simple yet blunt message, one you couldn't miss; God is welcoming, come to him. Hiccup understood the lyrics but wasn't ready to believe them. He wondered what the point of the song was if it was meant for those who haven't heard of coming to the Lord; like himself. The song insists on going to the Lord if you are struggling but why? Hiccup didn't know God. Wasn't this god like any other deity in any other religion? Demanding? Domineering? Overbearing? Intimidating? As the song went on he realized he was, perhaps, also 'hurting and broken within.' As Astrid sang the next line "forgiveness was bought with the precious blood of Jesus Christ" Hiccup continued to wonder what those words meant. He's been to Sunday school as a child and has heard the Easter story and Christmas story plenty of times. Why were these people so focused on these legends that Hiccup grew to believe were mere fictitious fantasies?
He didn't sing along with the others and was content with listening to Astrid's soft voice and the surprisingly good voice of his friend and roommate that sat next to him. Hiccup reasoned that his questions would be answered during the discussion portion of the night, not that he planned on talking. He just hoped that whatever Lucas talked about would satisfy his curiosity. Though, his curiosity had grown and he now had a great interest in what this was all about. He desired to know everything. He and Fishlegs were friends now. Maybe, if his questions weren't answered tonight, Hiccup could ask Fishlegs directly.
Astrid played a couple more confusing songs before she prayed and let Lucas take over. She had said that anyone could pray in between songs but because the majority of people were new, only she and one other leader, Cloe, spoke. Hiccup figured he wasn't the only one too shy.
"Okay, so, snacks are in the kitchen. We can take a few minutes to mingle and get drinks before meeting back in here," stated Lucas. Not wanting to lose his seat, Hiccup stayed where he was. Fishlegs left in a hurry to get food before everyone else took everything. Hiccup became nervous again, afraid that someone would try to start up a conversation. Luckily, Fishlegs took no time to get what he wanted before returning to his side. Hiccup felt a bit ridiculous and a little pathetic when thinking about how much he relied on his friend to stay close and keep him calm. He thought of himself as a burden and he hated how dependent he was on others, whether it was because of his disability or his insecurities.
Fishlegs handed him a bottled water and Hiccup nodded in thanks. He was quick to swallow a few sips in hopes of cooling down while in an overcrowded room. His eyes continuously darted about the room until Fishlegs spoke. Once again Hiccup was grateful to place his focus on one thing to keep his mind occupied. "You alright?" asked Fishlegs.
"Y-Yea. I'm j-just n-not used to b-being around so m-many people," replied Hiccup. He looked down to his lap and fiddled with the fray of his jeans.
"What about your classes?" Asked Fishlegs. "They can be crowded. Even more so."
Hiccup could understand his confusion. "Well...," he started. "I'm n-not really p-pressured into social interactions during l-l-lecture classes. I still get a b-bit anxious though." He looked up to see Fishlegs nod in understanding. "I used to b-be on medication but..." Oh, why did I say that? Hiccup looked back down at his lap. He didn't want to get into the reason why he wasn't on medication now. Fishlegs was his friend. Hiccup didn't want his friend to suddenly have pity for him. He didn't want his friends to think about every issue he had every time they laid eyes on him. He desperately wanted to be something more to them. He always wanted to be more.
Fishlegs saw that Hiccup had revealed more than he intended to. He also caught the look of sadness that had briefly filled the smaller boy's eyes before looking down. Fishlegs knew that trust would come with time. For now, he thought it best to have a change in topic. "How are your classes going? Do you like them?"
Hiccup looked up again. He visibly relaxed at the subject change. "Yea," he replied. "I still w-wish I had labs this semester." Fishlegs chuckled at his response.
"I don't think I've ever met anyone who was excited about labs before," said Fishlegs. They continued to make small talk while the others were getting comfortable in their seats once they had their fill on snacks. After about ten minutes Lucas called for everyone's attention. "Alright guys. Time to get started. So, there's quite a few new faces I see. I wanted to apologize for not having the opportunity for introductions. Usually we'll have a game or some other 'ice breaker' before worship so everyone could get comfortable but we started a little later than anticipated. We'll be able to do that next week."
Oh, Hiccup was so glad they missed out on that.
"I do want to ask one question though," continued Lucas. "How many of you were a bit scared of being on your own when you moved away from home to go to Berk U?" Hiccup scrunched his eyebrows in confusion as he looked around the room. People were expected to answer that? Slowly, one by one, the majority of students raised their hand. Hiccup was also scared to be on his own as he had been for a while yet he hesitated to raise his hand. Everyone seemed to be completely okay with revealing that one bit of weakness but he believed he already had so many obvious weaknesses that he didn't want to show another. Then he saw the hand of his childhood tormentor slowly raise into the air as well. Snotlout was afraid? Somehow that broke any wall of intimidation the question once held and hesitantly, Hiccup also raised his hand.
Lucas nodded his head and all hands lowered. "I was too. I was totally a momma's boy." Chuckles rolled around the room. "Today we're going talk about fear. Fear is something we all struggle with. It can take up our lives and stop us from achieving our goals. It can stop us from standing up for ourselves or for others; stop us from taking a step forward into the unknown. But God has overcome the world. He provides comfort and shelter. Daily we struggle with fear and daily we need to remember to turn to God in the face of anxiety. Philippians four verse six says this, 'do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.'" Lucas looked up from his notes and gazed about the room. "Let's pray." He then bowed his head as others followed his example. "God, thank you for this opportunity to come together..."
After his prayer Lucas went on to talk about how the Lord overcame the world and listed ways to practice faith and to rely on the Lord daily. Throughout the discussion Hiccup's list of questions continued to grow steadily. This God, this deity, why would this 'Lord of all' care about one's fears of the world? Lucas explained that while God had the power to do anything, He chooses to not simply take one out of a scary environment, but rather walk alongside; to strengthen them. That bit was still very confusing to the boy.
Lucas prayed one more time to close out the session before Cloe shared announcements. She shared information about group hangouts and when church was on Sunday. Hiccup took note of the Sunday service. While he still had questions he wanted answered, the people were also nice enough and he wouldn't mind going. After all, no one really had to participate during a service, right? He could just observe. His thoughts were interrupted when Cloe continued. "And now, we have life groups. So, students are broken up into smaller groups so you guys can talk about what you learned this week or just about life and what's on your heart. Don't worry; girls and boys will be separated. They won't be mixed. This will give you an opportunity to open up in a more private setting."
Wait, what!? The only thing Hiccup was aware he was participating in was the bible study. Now he had to join a group of boys and talk about life? What does that mean? Hiccup's eyes widened. He couldn't be in a life group. He couldn't talk in front of more than one person at a time. Certainly not about himself. Maybe he could get Fishlegs to take him back to the dorm...
"The life groups are led by members of the leadership team who consists of Heather, Lucas, Fishlegs, and myself," explained Cloe. Well, there goes that plan, thought Hiccup. Fishlegs was his ride but he had to lead a life group so there was no way out of this. Hiccup zoned out while Cloe called names and directed them to their appropriate leader. He was slightly panicked. He hoped he was at least grouped in with Fishlegs. His mind was pulled back into the present when Cloe said "There are surprisingly a lot more girls than boys. So, there really aren't enough boys to do two life groups so all of you guys, Fish, Lucas, Hiccup, Tuffnut, and Snotlout, will be in one."
Oh, no, thought Hiccup. He will be in the same group as Snotlout? Crap.
AN: I don't really know a lot about mental health and I don't pretend to be an expert. I just write what works. I don't mean to offend anyone. I still have anxiety but not as much as Hiccup and I wasn't completely sure on how to write that in. Let me know if you have suggestions on what to include about anxiety. I know it doesn't all magically go away one day but Hiccup will gain more confidence throughout the story.
Also, for those of you who are bold enough, I'd love to hear what bible verses this reminds you of or if you have one you'd like me to base a chapter or short story off of.
Thanks for reading!