AN: I know some of you may be waiting for the next chapter to 'Testimony' and that will come soon but I couldn't get this idea out of my head. I'm editing the 2nd chapter and writing the 3rd. In the meantime, enjoy this one-shot.
Also, I haven't edited this. It's about 2am here in the Lone Star State and I won't have time to edit and post on Christmas tomorrow but I wanted to get something out. There may be typos. Sorry.
It was just a check-up. He'd rather be at school. Why didn't that go after school like they usually do? Why was his dad being so annoying? Ever since the accident a little over a year ago Stoick Haddock had been acting more and more like an over protective father. His son Hiccup Haddock had, at first, found this to be comforting. Before the accident Stoick seemed to not ever care about his boy. He left on business trips without ever really giving Hiccup any sort of notice beyond a note attached to the front door or refrigerator. Valka Haddock, the mother of this dynamic, went missing overseas while on an army scouting mission in Afghanistan when Hiccup was just a babe. So, for a long time, Hiccup Haddock had been missing a parental figure in his life. The only person close to fulfilling that role was his adoptive uncle, Stoick's best friend, Gobber.
After the hit and run where Hiccup was merely trying to cross the street before getting slammed into by a drunk driver Stoick made sure to always look after his son. However, after a while Hiccup grew annoyed at his father's constant questions concerning his health and whether or not he was comfortable with his prosthetic leg. Of course, he was uncomfortable. He had a fake leg. How could that ever be comfortable? And he could look after himself. He'd been doing it for years. He missed his independency.
"Well…" Stoick spoke up from his place behind the steering wheel. "… that went well. The prosthetist said that this prototype is working out well and offering you more mobility. What do you think Hiccup?"
That the last leg was just as good and you didn't have to make me get another after I fell again, thought Hiccup. "It's fine," was all the sixteen-year-old said as he continued to look out the passenger window. He was happy that the prosthetic could still be covered by a shoe. He had been going to Berk High for a few months now after Stoick decided to move to the town to offer them both a fresh start. He had made a few friends that he quickly grew close to and while they all have seen him limp around and knew he couldn't run very well, they still did not know about his amputation. He was grateful that they never questioned his lack of physical capabilities. He wanted to tell them at some point. It'd make things easier. He could use his arm crutches around them if they knew. He often used them at home when his amputation sight grew sore or when his knee acted up. But being an amputee was still very new to him and it still freaked him out. He didn't want to freak out his new friends either, not when he just got them.
"You've been wearing that knee brace every day and doing your exercises, right Hiccup?" His father's voice brought him back to the present. That's when he realized they were turning down a street he didn't recognize.
Half ignoring the question asked Hiccup sat up straighter peering out his window and responded with "Uh, yea. Hey Dad? Where are we going? We've never been this way." His curiosity grew when Stoick pulled into a small parking lot in front of what looked like a run-down animal shelter. The sign read 'Helping Paws.'
Stoick was slow to answer. He turned towards his son. "I'm not stupid son." This blunt statement caught Hiccups attention and when he faced his father Stoick continued. "I know you want to be able to do things on your own. I know you can get annoyed with me when I help you around the house." Hiccup started to take interest in his lap. Stoick, wanting to look at his son, lifted his chin with a large gentle hand. "But you must admit, you do need help sometimes. I suspect that in the future you'd be able to run and grow more independent but your new to this. Not only that but you hurt your knee too and the doctor said it may never be like it was. Mobility will forever be something for you to work on and improve upon. And you will need help." His expression grew even more somber. "I know I annoy you with all my pestering so, I thought that maybe you could do with a helping companion; a service animal. You don't have to call it that but maybe a dog could do more than just offer support; a dog could make a good friend. And you don't have to take him to school if you don't want to. Just to where you know you might need some extra help getting around or if you're alone." Stoick's face brightened while explaining how helpful this animal could be.
Hiccup liked this idea right away. He couldn't deny his father's words. He knew he needed help every now and again. He also knew that his dad may need to start leaving on more business trips again for his company and he would then be left by himself. He was never allowed to have a pet as a kid and so this made him a little excited. "O-Okay. Yea. It makes sense," he said slowly. Stoick smiled. It was obvious the father feared that his idea would be rejected. "I always wanted a dog anyway." They both gave a soft chuckle.
Stoick got out of his SUV and rushed around to help his son out of the vehicle but before he reached his side Hiccup opened the door and stepped out with his good leg and followed with his left. He smirked at Stoick in triumph but when he turned to close the door his knee twisted the wrong way and he would have fallen if it hadn't been for his father's surprisingly quick reflexes. Once his son was on his feet again Stoick gave him his own smirk. Hiccup rolled his eyes before limping after his father. He wished he brought his crutches. After all the exercises his prosthetist had him do, he was sore.
"Has anyone seen Hiccup today?" Astrid Hofferson walked up to her group of friends consisting the prank professionals, Ruffnut and Tuffnut Thorston, the school bookworm, Fishlegs Ingerman, and the ever so slightly intellectually challenged jock, Snotlout Jorgenson.
"Yea," replied Snotlout. They were all standing out in the front courtyard of the school after the last school bell rang for the day. He continued. "He's like super scrawny, red-ish hair, pale face. -ooff" he was cut off when Astrid elbowed him in the gut.
As Snotlout rubbed his new bruise Tuffnut said "We know that already." He turned to his sister. "Geez. And I thought we were the stupid ones." The twins' intellect rivalled that of a bird at times but beat out Snotlout's because the twins could spit out random facts that no one ever knew before. No one could deny that they could indeed probably read better than the jock. Where else could they get all that information without reading and studying?
Fishlegs turned towards Astrid after rolling his eyes to answer her question. "No, I don't think any of us have. He texted me though. He wanted to let me know he would miss chemistry since I'm his lab-partner. He said he had some sort of doctor appointment to go to."
"Doctor's appointment?" wondered Astrid. "Is he sick?"
"I don't know," answered Fishlegs. "I was in class when he sent it to me and Mrs. Clark saw me check my phone. She took it and said I could have it back after school. But now it's dead." He said this last part while taking his phone own to shake for emphasis.
"Well, I wonder if he is alright," said Astrid with slight concern.
"I know where he lives. I've only ever been once to work on our lab work in his living room but it's not far from here," Fishlegs responded.
"Cool! I've never been to H's house before. Let's go," said Tuffnut excitedly. His sister gave an evil chuckle from beside him.
"Yea. That way we could leave some sort of booby trap or something in his room," stated Ruffnut.
"Good thinking sis."
Astrid glared at them. "You or not pranking Hiccup." Visions of Hiccup falling down stairs or on slippery floors filled her mind. She didn't want her friend hurt. She knew Hiccup had a hard time getting around as it was without the twins' help. She turned to Fishlegs. "Lead the way."
They all started to walk down the sidewalk towards their friend's house.
Back at the Haddock Residents Hiccup sat on his bed while he watched his new big black Poodle-Labrador mix sniff out his new home. He smiled to himself. Hiccup had passed by quite a few dogs before catching the sight of his new companion. The owner of the shelter warned Hiccup that thought the dog is trained, he was young and can be very hyper at times. Hiccup didn't mind this. He was always being coddled by his father and he didn't mind being rough every now and again with the animal. Besides, the owner also explained that the canine was gentle and when he bit down on someone, he was so gentle that he could be mistaken for being toothless. This, of course, earned the dog his name: Toothless.
Hiccup and Toothless were the only ones in the house. Earlier Stoick had tied old socks to every door handle for Toothless to grab onto (which Hiccup didn't really find necessary at all) before leaving to run a few errands and to meet up with a few associates. Hiccup didn't mind him leaving. He wouldn't be left alone this time. He already had grown close to his furry friend and wanted to spend more time with him.
His thoughts about his father's old socks and door handles were interrupted by the sound of his door bell ringing. Toothless barked once before racing from the bedroom to the front door. "Wait! Bud!" Hiccup gave chase as quickly as his prosthesis would allow. Once he reached the front door he found Toothless sitting patiently waiting for him. Hiccup gave him one last glance before opening the door to find all his friends standing on his doorstep. Before he could say anything Toothless leapt forward to greet the new comers. Snotlout gave a yelp as he had the unfortunate position of being in front of the group therefor being the first to get tackled by the black canine. "Toothless! Get off!" Hiccup grabbed his collar to pull him off his friend. Toothless gave one last lick before settling next to his owner. Said owner looked up at his friends. "Sorry. He can get excited pretty easily it seems."
Astrid had a huge smile as she bent down to pet Toothless. "Aww! He's so cute! I didn't know you had a dog Hiccup!" Toothless wagged his tail looking innocently back up to Hiccup. Oh, he liked this dog.
"And what kind of name is Toothless?" asked Snotlout as he stood back up after getting knocked down.
"What kind of a name is Snotlout?" teased Ruffnut with a chuckle.
Hiccup spoke up once more. "What are you guys doing here?"
Astrid stood and stated "You weren't at school today. We were just wanting to know if you were okay."
"Also, we brought your homework," said Fishlegs stepping forward with a thick folder. He handed Hiccup the folder and asked "May we come in?"
Hiccup nodded and moved back to let everyone in. "Sure. And, uh, I'm fine. I just had a check-up," he explained.
"During school?" questioned Astrid. The group all made themselves comfortable in the living room seemingly prepared to hangout for a while.
Hiccup looked around making sure his crutches were still in his room before answering. "Yea. Usually that would be scheduled for after school but Dad wanted to surprise me by afterwards by going to the animal shelter. Toothless is a new member of the gang." He stated this last part while smiling down to his new friend.
"Ummm... what's with all the socks on all the doors?" Tuffnut started to walk around eyeing all the door knobs. Before Hiccup could offer an explanation Tuffnut started to head down the hall... towards Hiccup's room. Did he shut his bedroom door?
"Uh, Tuff. We're all in here. There's nothing back there." Hiccup started to follow, Toothless keeping close to his side. He wasn't fast enough. As he rounded the corner he saw the male twin peer through his open door curiously.
"Dude," said Tuffnut loud enough for the others to hear. As the others filed into the hallway to see what peaked Tuffnut's curiosity he continued. "You. Have. A... poster for Imagine Dragons!? Dude! That's like the best band ever!" With that, he rushed into the bedroom, the others rushing past Hiccup to see. "Guys! It's autographed!" exclaimed Tuffnut.
The group of friends gathered around the poster. Hiccup slowly entered the room behind them. He looked over at his wheelchair and crutches in the corner of his room. A second prosthetic sat on top of his desk on the other side of his bed. He sighed. They are bound to notice.
Astrid turned back towards Hiccup. "Hiccup! That's so... cool." Her words died in her mouth as she saw him looking sadly towards the corner of his room. "Hiccup?" Her concern grew when he did not respond. The others heard the worry in her voice and turned to watch the interaction. Astrid followed Hiccup's eyes to see what he was staring at. She gave a small gasp when she saw the equipment. "Are those yours Hiccup?"
The others looked to see what she was talking about. They were confused by the sight. Was he that handicapped? Snotlout looked around further and caught sight of the prosthetic laying on the desk. He walked over to it. "What's this?" he asked while picking up the leg. The others turned to look.
"I think it's a leg Snot," stated Ruffnut. Snotlout shuttered before dropping the leg on the floor.
Hiccup hurriedly shuffled over to pick up the prosthesis. "Snotlout," he grumbled. "Be careful. This is my back up." He dusted off the metal limb before setting it back on the desk. The room fell silent. He continued to face away from his friends as his words sunk in.
"Sorry. This is a little embarr-"
"Hiccup, why haven't yo-"
Both Hiccup and Astrid broke the silence at the same time. After they both blushed Astrid gestured for Hiccup to start. "I was just gonna say..." He started hesitantly. "… this is a little embarrassing. I, um, no one really knows about my... disability except for my dad." He rubbed the back of his neck nervously looking down at the floor.
Astrid spoke up then. "Hiccup. I-I don't understand." Her worry was mounting.
Hiccup sighed and sat on his bed. He then bent down and lifted his left pant leg to reveal a metallic limb. The pieces all fit together and all eyes widened when everything clicked. Hiccup was an amputee. Their eyes widened even more when Hiccup pulled his pant leg past his knee revealing how much of the limb he had lost. His knee was also wrapped in a brace. No wonder he struggled to walk across the school hallways.
"Hiccup," Fishlegs broke the silence that had taken over the room again. "You have nothing to be ashamed of." He smiled towards his friend. Hiccup looked up towards the group to find them smiling encouragingly. "We all have weaknesses. I mean, I am a terrible test taker. I know I'm the biggest nerd of the school and I'm always studying and keeping my nose in a book but..." He looked nervous now. He wanted to reassure his friend and let him know that everyone has a weakness. Everyone had a secret. They were all friends. Fishlegs wanted Hiccup to know that he could trust them with his secrets. "… I've only passed like three tests all semester. I always get A's on projects and homework. On our chemistry labs too. So, I've managed to keep a passing grade so far but they're all C's. Tests just... kill me." This seemed to be quite the reveal for everyone in the room. He spoke once more. "Thank you for sharing Hiccup. Even if it was by accident. Now we know how we can be better friends. Now we know how we can support you. And now... you know my weakness."
Hiccup smiled. "And now we know how we can support you."
Tuffnut spoke up. "I have dyslexia," he said simply. "I walk around with headphones in all the time not because I'm jamming out but because I'm listening to audio-whats-its. Recordings of text books and stuff." This was yet another surprise for the group. Their encouraging smiles never dropped. Tuffnut turned to his sister.
She spoke next. "I'm afraid of being alone. I stick close to my brother. We're best friends and all but I'm secretly afraid that I'll never end up with anyone so I just stick to my brother because he'll be all I have one day." Ruffnut surprised even her brother. Tuffnut placed an arm around his sister's shoulders and squeezed.
"Well, as long as we're all sharing..." All heads turned to hear Astrid speak. After all, she was known as Astrid the fearless. What kind of weakness did she have? "I-I'm afraid..." There it was. Fear. She grew nervous and looked to Hiccup. He smiled towards her. Out of the smiles, his was the most encouraging. She continued. "I'm afraid of being weak. I'm afraid of ruining my image. My dad, he... he's always been hard on me. He has high standards. I need to be his perfect daughter."
"I can sort of relate to that," said Hiccup. "To think that if we didn't open up to one another we wouldn't have known we share a common struggle."
They all turned to Snotlout. His eyes darted back and forth. He gave a nervous chuckle. "Well, I guess it's my turn." He swallowed hard. He looked to his friends. They nodded to him and he knew that he could trust them. "I-I... I don't want to be dumb." Their eyes widened at this revelation. "I know I am... I study a lot more than you think I do but I just... Things don't come to me easily. My dad is hard on me too and I can't let him down. I need to go to college and play football. I can't do that if I fail my classes." He sighed. "I don't even like football. I-I... I like theater." This last reveal was also a big shock to the group.
Hiccup took a breath. "Thank you. All of you. It's been pretty hard trying to get by with just my dad. Now I have a great service animal and I know I have my friends to help support me." He looked directly at Snotlout and said "And I will support all of you too. To the best of my ability." Snotlout smiled in response, encouraged by his words.
Tuffnut walked over to the wheelchair. "So," he said as he sat down, "can you, like, pop a wheelie in this thing or what?" The group laughed as he rolled back to Hiccup who still sat on his bed. His face grew serious as he looked towards his friend, an expression hardly worn by the teen. "You're not weak. I don't know how you lost a leg but the fact that you're still here and can make it across the room on one leg is incredible. You overcame your weakness. Your strength is encouraging Hiccup." He smiled. No one has ever heard such wisdom come from the male jokester. They were all moved. Though Hiccup looked doubtful. Him? Strong?
Astrid hugged Hiccup quickly. "He's right Hiccup." To see Astrid react in such a way made Hiccup almost believe Tuffnut's words. Maybe he was right. Sure, he needed help sometimes but he did survive and showed strength. Maybe he could start to believe if his friends believed. The others eventually joined in on the hug. Toothless wagged his tail as he watched the friends connect.
Sure, none of their struggles would be easy to work through, but they did have each other to lean on and to turn to for support. Fishlegs helped Snotlout study and Snotlout helped Fishlegs gain confidence. They all stuck close to Ruffnut to let her know that she was not alone. They all went to Snotlout's first play. Astrid's dad agreed to meet Hiccup's dad who had learned from pushing his son too far. The gang slowed down for Hiccup and stood up for him when others teased him for his limp or when he used his crutches. They brought him his homework while he recovered after another knee surgery. Toothless' job didn't seem too hard since his master had all of his friends by his side but he was a great best friend.
Friendship, fellowship, and vulnerability. Three things that these teens learned work well together.
Colossians 3:16 "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God."
AN: While I know this verse is better fit to define what a church gathering should be, I feel it also shows how one can lift another up. Show wisdom given by Christ's teachings. Live by example and be humble.
Praying everyone has a Merry Christmas. (Or Snoggletog.)