AN: Another one shot. I'm sorry chapter 5 of 'Testimony' is still not out yet. School has started and I have a few other things going on and fanfiction may be going on the back burner for a while until I figure some things out. I have the first few hundred words written but I haven't been able to finish. The only reason this is being posted is because I couldn't get it out of my head.
Also, I wanted to say that my bio on my profile very clearly states that my faith and beliefs are what inspire me. That's been on there since I started writing. I don't feel that my stories should have a "warning label" like some have suggested. I've had a couple reviews on other stories that claim that I "force my views" on people which is simply not true. You do have the option of not reading my stories. Just please read author's notes and profiles. They are informative and will clue you in on what the writer is like. That is what a bio is for.
Sorry if I sound grouchy. I'm not mad or anything. It's expected that these sort of reviews will eventually come up. I just wanted to clarify. I really do appreciate the feedback.
That being said, this story has nothing to do with religion. This is just some father/son fluff. I hope you enjoy.
"Attention Senior Class of 2018. Please make your way to the gymnasium for graduation details. I repeat; Senior Class please make your way to the gymnasium for graduation details," announced a faculty member of Berk High.
Mr. Watkins, the duel credit calculus teacher of Hiccup's third period class stopped writing his math problem on the white board while he tried to listened to the announcement over the static of the intercom. When the intercom clicked off he turned to face his class with his marker still raised in the air. His face deeply expressed his confusion about the announcement and right away the students could tell that this senior class meeting was not planned; or the rest of the faculty was not made aware of such an event. Mr. Watkins seemed to be just as confused as the rest of the senior students sitting in his classroom.
"Well…" he started to say. "I guess we'll be going to the gymnasium. You should probably take your things with you. I assume that by the time this is over with, you'll need to head to your next class." With that students started to pick up their belongings, stand, and push in their chairs with loud grating noises that made a few students shutter. Hiccup waited for the other students to make their way into the hall before grabbing his elbow crutches* that rested against his desk. As he hefted himself onto his one good leg his friend Fishlegs grabbed his bag and waited for him to insert one arm through the cuff of his crutch to steady himself before handing the backpack over to him.
"Thanks Fish," said Hiccup. Once he was adjusted Hiccup and Fishlegs made their way into the hall after their class. The calculus class was slow to make their way to the gymnasium as they were fond of their sarcastic, auburn-haired classmate and wanted him to catch up. Hiccup always had a kind heart and smile and welcomed anyone into his circle of friends. He always kept an optimistic and joyous attitude despite his circumstances. He was loved by his classmates and the school faculty alike. While they couldn't help the boy with his family's financial difficulties no matter how much they wanted to, they did do all they could to help the boy while in school whether that be by helping him with his bag, waiting for him in the halls, or opening doors for him. Each and every one of them wrote get well cards for him after the car accident he was involved in over Christmas break. His loss was tragic but his friends and classmates made living without a leg just a bit easier, even if his father wasn't there to help him in his recovery.
Hiccup's father, Stoick Haddock, was informed of the incident involving his son while overseas but was called into action before anything could be done. Stoick was a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. military and was fighting overseas in Afghanistan and hadn't been home to see his son in almost twenty-two months; too long for both father and son. Stoick was called into action after learning Hiccup was in the hospital and all hope that the father would make it back for his son's recovery was lost. Hiccup's hope of having him home for graduation was also dwindling. His mother had passed away when he was a young child and he desperately wanted his one and only parent to attend the ceremony honoring his greatest achievement.
As the group made their way down the hall other classes joined them. Soon more of Hiccup's friends were by his side as they headed to the assembly. "Hey Hiccup. Do you know what all this is about?" Questioned his favorite blonde that went by the name of Astrid. His closest friends soon caught up with him and they consisted of the cocky, short, brunette, Snotlout, the crazy twins, Ruffnut and Tuffnut, the husky encyclopedia known as Fishlegs, and the beauty that is Astrid Hofferson. Hiccup had to catch himself before he fell face first into the tile floor. Every time Astrid came around he found himself being even clumsier than his usual self. He couldn't understand why he always got dizzy at the sight of her and he wished he had his father there with him to explain the riddles and the obscurity of women.
After stabling himself on his crutches and continuing forward as casually as possible Hiccup stated "No, not at all. I was hoping you guys would know." The others shook their heads and mumbled their "nope's" and "no's."
"How's Gobber?" Snotlout asked. "He wasn't at football practice this morning." Gobber was Berk High's football couch and the only other person in the town that was missing a limb like Hiccup, his godson. The two-limbed couch was also Hiccup's care giver while his father was away.
Hiccup turned to Snotlout confused. "Really? He dropped me off at the front of the school this morning. He didn't tell me he was going anywhere else. Although..." Hiccup's voice died out as he continued to think. "He was acting funny. He was oddly quiet on the way here. He's terrible at keeping secrets so that may be him attempting to keep something from me."
"Weird," commented Tuffnut, another member of the football team like Snotlout. The others nodded in agreement. They all continued to ponder their odd circumstances as they entered into the gymnasium. The students filled the stands and the group of six sat on the bottom row for Hiccup's convenience. They found their missing coach was standing at the center of the gym along with front office faculty, the principle, and a few people who held cameras.
Why was there a camera and film crew? And is that the yearbook committee? These thoughts ran through Hiccup's mind as Principle Mala finished setting up a portable speaker and microphone system. She tapped the mic with her finger and there was a screeching sound that emanated from the speaker that instantly grabbed everyone's attention. She worked quickly to adjust the sound system to fix the problem before speaking up.
"Good…" Mala checked her watch before continuing. "...morning students. I hope the semester is going well for you all. We're reaching for the finishing line now. We're only about a month away from finals and then graduation!" The crowd applauded in excitement. Once everyone settled down she continued. "So, I'm sure you are all wondering why you've been brought down here when you should be studying or those final exams and I have your answer. We're doing something a bit new for this graduating class. But before I fully explain what we'll be doing, I want to tell you the reason why. This is very important.
"As I had said before, graduation is close at hand and you all have worked hard for this accomplishment. While many of you have entered into new relationships, accomplished many things along they such as earning scholarships or winning football games, a few have faced strife and tragedy as well. Some of you got into your dream school while others did not. Some of you started your first job while others are still searching for employment. Some of you have gained popularity and others not. Some have gained new family while others have lost. Some may have even lost a part of themselves." A few eyes turned down towards the hunched shoulders of Hiccup Haddock, the boy who had lost the most this year. "But you're here. You made it. You finally made it through the finish line. Be proud. We, as staff, are proud of you too.
"Others are proud of you as well; aunts, uncles, parents, grandparents, friends, mentors. And while your success was brought on by your hard work I believe you also must give credit to those who have supported you along the way. I'm not just saying that because I'm one of those people. I promise." There were a few chuckles at her joke but they quickly died out. They were taking Mala's words seriously and to heart. "I ask you, no, I implore you to go to your source of support and thank them. For where would you be without them? Think about who those people are; your inspiration, your motivation, maybe your hero." Hiccup was quick to wipe away the tear that had escaped his eye. As Mala spoke he thought of his father. He missed him so much. Stoick was his hero, his idol. He hoped that his father would come home soon so he could thank him for all he's done.
"Who are your heroes? Who has saved you? Who has brought you forward in life? Parents? Care givers? Celebrities? Past presidents? Teachers? Soldiers? What defines a hero? Someone you admire or look up to? Someone who has made great accomplishments? If they were defined by character, I can honestly say there a several heroes among you." The students looked to each other in thought. They were heroes? How? "You've achieved so much and many of you have overcome prejudice, bullying, heart ache, illness, injury, death, tragedy. Believe it or not, some of those little freshmen out there look up to you. You are their hero. You inspire others. To be completely honest, you inspire me.
"That all being said, we'd like to recognize a few heroes that have stood out this school year." Students had been enraptured by the principle's speech and had been sitting at the edge of their seats to take in every word. Once she explained why they were all there they sat back and looked briefly to one another in curiosity before listening again. "We don't have any fancy certificates but we through something together for those of you who will be recognized. There will be ten of you. After I call you name you will come down here and collect your very own "Berk High Hero" t-shirt and a twenty-dollar visa gift card that you will hopefully spend on school supplies." The students buzzed in excitement. Sure, the rewards weren't anything special, but being recognized in such a way awesome to them.
"Please step down..." Mala read the first name. "...Astrid Hofferson." Hiccup wasn't surprised in the least that she would be considered a Berk High Hero. She was 'Astrid the Fearless' after all. The students applauded as she went down to meet the principle and claim her prize. "Astrid has been a true leader this school year both out on the soccer field and in the halls. She has stepped up as class president to assure that everyone is treated equally. She has gone beyond her duties and has made sure that other students outside of the class of 2018 are also treated fairly as well. She is a true role model to the upcoming graduating classes." Mala then turned toward the blonde to shake her hand. Astrid was directed to another portion of the gym to stand with other 'heroes' as they made their way across the gymnasium to join her.
Mala went on to honor about seven other students out of the small-ish class two hundred. Of course, there were a few jocks who were named heroes for what they've done on the field but there were also a few who had accomplished well in academics. Mala then called the ninth person on stage. "Hiccup Haddock." The applauding seemed to grow louder as Hiccup grabbed his crutches and made his way over to the makeshift stage. They were proud. "While Hiccup's good grades didn't get him into the top ten, I'm sure he could have been if certain events hadn't transpired. Hiccup is not a star athlete either. No, I believe he is a hero and a role model everyone should look to when they are trying to overcome adversity and misfortune. Hiccup has exemplified such great strength and endurance. He's worked hard despite his limitations. The driver of that other vehicle may have taken a part of Hiccup away from him but Hiccup didn't let him take his drive and spirit away from him as well. He still stands as tall as ever and continues to prove that strength in heart is for more important than strength of body." As Hiccup shook Mala's hand the crowd got to their feet and cheered as loud as they could. Hiccup had been on quite a journey and they all laid witness to his achievements. Not one could deny that they admired the young man.
As the crowd finally settled and Hiccup went to stand by Astrid Mala went on to talk about the last hero of the night. "Now, this last hero is not a student. The tenth hero to be recognized is someone who many of you have looked up to in your first year or so at Berk High. This man was once a part of the school board during your freshmen year and had been involved in many school wide events before he was called away to be a hero elsewhere." The students now looked confused once more. Hiccup looked around and couldn't find who Mala was talking about. His eyes met Gobber's and the football coach winked. Before Hiccup could begin to question the man's behavior Mala spoke. "Please come to the stage... Stoick Haddock for your bravery overseas and your dedication to this school and your son."
At the principles words several things happened all at once. The door to the back of the gymnasium opened, the crowd erupted in cheer, the statue still photographers and film crew started to dance around using their equipment, and Hiccup froze in utter shock. His father took a few steps forward and his son had yet to turn and see him. He smiled broadly. Astrid grabbed Hiccup's arm to bring him out of his stupor. She gestured behind him. He turned around slowly on his crutches to see his father standing there in his greens and boots smiling. "Dad," he whispered hoarsely. His throat suddenly grew thick with emotion. He dropped his t-shirt and card that he managed to wedge under his arm onto the floor and used his crutches as fast as possible to race towards his father. After only two steps Hiccup threw down the crutches and took a hop forward in a desperate attempt to reunite with his loved one. By that time Stoick had rushed forward and was quick to grasp his son and lift him into his arms. The boy may have been eighteen and almost a high school graduate but the thought of embarrassment didn't even cross his mind as he threw his arms around the neck of his father and buried his face into his chest and beard. He then wept in utter joy of being reunited with his hero. "I've missed you."
"Son," said Stoick in a voice just as thick with emotion as his son's. "Oh, I've missed you too my boy. But I'm here now and I'll see your graduation ceremony and I'll get you that leg and I'll be here for anything else you need me for. I'm so sorry I've missed so much in your life Hiccup." Hiccup just hugged him harder. At the moment he couldn't care less what his father had missed. He was there with him now and that was what mattered.
The crowd was still cheering loudly and the film crew continued to record father and son as they stayed in their embrace. Hiccup's closest friends had the biggest smiles of anyone in the room. Snotlout tried to hide his but soon gave up and started to weep just as much as the emotional Fishlegs. The soldier and student didn't register or acknowledge anyone else around them. They were, for the moment, in their own world. After several minutes of embracing each other Stoick set Hiccup down on his one foot and looked into his teary eyes. "You'll be here for anything? Does that mean..." Hiccup started to say.
"Yes. After they kept me from seeing you while you were recovering, I decided on retirement. I've already got another good paying job lined up. I'm here to stay son." Hiccup smiled hugely and hugged Stoick again across his middle. The larger Haddock kissed the top of his son's head and returned the embrace. He knew his son needed him but he was also proud of what he had accomplished without him. Hiccup was an inspiration and most certainly, his hero. He looked up to the young man just as much as the young man looked up to him. They were heroes reunited.
*elbow crutches-used alone or in pairs to stabilize a person while standing or walking when one or both limbs are immobilized
AN: What do you think? I was watching some really sweet "coming home" videos on Facebook and I thought about this. I've read a few stories where Hiccup is the soldier that comes home or even Astrid being the hero and returning home but I have yet to find one where Stoick came home as the hero. I hope you liked it.
I also want to note that I don't know much about the military and I'm sure there's some procedure to be followed if there is an emergency back home involving a loved one while one is overseas. But this is what worked for the story.