"Think we should turn back now, bud?" Hiccup asked, patting his dragon's black head. Toothless rumbled in agreement and started turning around, his rider instinctively making the necessary adjustments to his tailfin.
The two friends were enjoying a long, relaxing flight, which had been few and far between since Stoick's death two months previous. Hiccup had been extremely busy with his duties as Chief, and only because Astrid and Gobber had taken over for the day could he go on his joyride with Toothless.
"What's that down there? It looks like... a campfire?" There was a blackened patch of ground on the small island they were passing, but no fire.
"Let's go down and see, Toothless," He decided.
As they got closer to the island, Hiccup could see the remains of a campfire in front of what looked like a cave, but as far as he could there was nobody nearby. Hiccup jumped off and walked cautiously, Inferno in hand, towards the opening of the cave. As he rounded a corner, something jumped into his path; it looked like a Skrill. Toothless snarled, getting into a defensive position.
"Easy there, bud," Hiccup said quietly, putting his free hand out to stop him. He put Inferno down and held his hand out to the Skrill, talking soothingly to pacify it. The dragon slowly rested its forehead on his palm, its horn touching his fingers. Looking at the Skrill, he could see something on its back.
"Is that a saddle?" He asked, his eyes narrowing. He scrutinized the dragon carefully, its markings looking familiar to him.
"Viggo?" He gasped, recognizing the Skrill as the dragon who had helped Viggo and him to infiltrate Johann's base, where Viggo had died while helping Hiccup escape. Or so he had thought... until now.
"Viggo? Are you in there?" Hiccup called, realizing that the former Dragon Hunter would probably be further in the cave that was most likely his home.
"Hiccup. As perceptive as ever, I see," Viggo's voice, so familiar and yet startling, filled the cave, as the man Hiccup had thought long gone came into view.
"You're alive?" Hiccup asked, still startled that his former nemesis was alive.
"I think what you really mean is, 'How are you alive'? Viggo asked, with a slight smile. "I expect you would like to know the whole story. Why don't you come in here? I have a reasonably comfortable home in here, with Lynnedslag."
"Is Lynnedslag the Skrill?" Hiccup questioned, as they walked further inside Viggo's cave. The 'room' he obviously lived in had a makeshift wooden bed with furs piled on it and a single rough chair. There was also a flat rock similar to the one that Toothless slept on back in Berk.
"Yes, I named him that he took me straight through a lightning storm" Viggo replied, gesturing for Hiccup to take a seat on the chair, while he sat down on the bed.
"I owe him my life, you see. After you left Johann's base, he fought off the Hunters and let me ride him. I passed out while we were in the air, but I think that he flew me to an island that was friendly to both dragons and humans."
Hiccup could see that Viggo was struggling with his obviously uncomfortable memories of the time.
"Are you alright, Viggo?" he questioned, feeling slightly concerned.
"Yes, of course, Hiccup," Viggo looked as if he had been startled out of a trance. "I just don't like to think of this much, that's all."
"Well the arrows you saw had, luckily for me, not pierced anything vital, so the natives of the island were able to heal my wounds partially. From what they told me, they healed Lynnedslag too." He continued.
"And did you make the saddle? It's quite ingenious, really." Hiccup looked at the saddle, which had a sheath that he thought was for the firesword Viggo had made. "By the way, I added your Zippleback gas feature to Inferno, about a week after you 'died'."
"I'm flattered. Yes, I did make the saddle, or rather I showed the design to a blacksmith who made it for me. It was quite easy after studying your saddles."
"So, after I was recovered enough from my wounds, Lynnedslag and I left that island to get in touch with the rest of the world. I found out at the Northern Markets what happened to Johann and Krogan, and I heard about your fight with Drago. I was sorry to hear about your loss, Hiccup."
"Thank you, Viggo. We're still recovering from Dad's death, but it helps that we found my mother at the same time."
"I didn't know that, I thought she died some years ago in a dragon raid?" Viggo asked, slightly puzzled.
"I thought you died a few months ago," Hiccup retorted.
"Touché" Viggo acknowledged, slightly embarrassed.
"It turned out that the dragon that carried her off took her to his nest, where she lived for 18 years. We found her at the King of Dragon's nest, the same day Dad died." Hiccup explained.
"By the way, how is it I never heard about you being alive? I would expect that someone who saw you might mention it to me, especially if you were at the Northern Markets asking about me."
"I asked a few Dragon Hunters who owed me their lives. They promised not to tell anyone. Even though Johann and Krogan were both dead, there were other Hunters and Fliers who would give a lot to see me dead."
"Actually, Krogan may not have been dead then. The mysterious buyer you spoke of turned out to be Drago Bludvist, who had Krogan executed after his failure to secure the King of Dragons. We have one of Drago's men who is now a Rider, so we know a lot more about Drago's methods than we would have otherwise."
"So many people who were meant to be dead and turned out to be... not. You haven't by any chance seen Ryker recently, have you?" Viggo asked.
"No, actually, I haven't. How about Johann's son?"
"I didn't realize he had a son." The former hunter looked rather surprised at Hiccup's question.
"Well, I didn't realize Dagur had a sister, even though I knew him since I was about 4 years old." Hiccup retorted. "But no, I don't think Johann had a son."
"You have a point. How are Dagur and Heather, by the way?"
"About the same, really. Dagur married Mala, so now he's the King of Defenders of the Wing Island. Heather is Chieftess of Berserk, and she goes by Heather the Unhinged now, even though she isn't. Dagur would probably never forgive her if she, well, went Berserk."
"And your 'Greek Chorus', as Dagur persisted in calling them?"
"You know that it isn't really possible to describe them," Hiccup protested.
"But here goes. Snotlout is currently trying to woo Heather, and failing tremendously. He will also probably be my second-in-command when he's older, so his father is training him for that. The twins have picked up where they left off 3 years ago as pranksters devoted to Loki. I did try to give them something to keep them busy but they thwart all efforts to turn them into law-abiding citizens. Fishlegs also picked up from before the Edge, although he is also part of the Village Council now. And Astrid is part of the Berk Guard and senior Dragon Trainer."
"And your Betrothed, I presume?" Viggo asked slyly.
"Um, well, yes, but we don't plan to marry anytime soon, even though the rest of Berk are continually telling me it's my duty to provide a heir. But she is unofficially my second-in-command, and she's covering for me today, and… Oh Thor I'm going to be horribly late to get back to Berk."
"Oh, I'm sorry Hiccup, I didn't mean to delay you. Why don't you start back now?" Viggo's calmness made Hiccup able to think more clearly.
"Oh no, it was my fault really, I should have been looking out for the time. Why don't you come back with me? If Lynnedslag is anything like Toothless, I'm sure he would appreciate the flight."
"I'd like to, Hiccup, but I'm not sure the rest of Berk would appreciate my coming there. I don't think I'm the most popular person there." Viggo said regretfully.
"Then fly with me part of the way. For one thing, I'd like to see how well a Skrill can fly when it isn't trying to kill either Toothless or me."
"I think you'd be surprised. I definitely was when we first started flying together. I would even go so far as to say he could beat a Nadder in a race- when it's eating chicken." Viggo and Hiccup were already nearing the opening of the cave and mounting their dragons.
"How do you know about the chicken thing? I don't remember seeing that on any of the Dragon Eye lenses." Hiccup questioned.
"Johann knew about it somehow, and I tested it out. He probably learned it from Astrid, or even you."
"Makes sense." Hiccup nodded. "Alright, show me these moves of yours."
In the air, Hiccup and Viggo showed off unashamedly in front of each other, each trying to top each other's latest manoeuvre. Despite Hiccup having ridden for much longer, Viggo had obviously formed a close bond with the Skrill and was able to communicate his ideas to Lynnedslag instantly. It struck Hiccup that he had never seen Viggo this relaxed before
"You're really quite good at this, Viggo." Hiccup admitted when they started flying straight and level towards Berk.
"You sound surprised," Viggo observed teasingly.
"I am rather. You've been riding for only about a couple of months, and you only had yourself to practice with." Hiccup retorted.
"But I watched your manoeuvres for quite some time, and I have flown with both Krogan and you before."
"Actually, both Krogan and I fly in different ways to you. Krogan forced his Singetail, and I have the tailfin to control."
"I flew on Astrid's Nadder a few times, too. Stormfly, wasn't it?"
Hiccup stiffened slightly.
"Yes, you did, didn't you?" He said, somewhat bitterly.
"I'm sorry, Hiccup. It was the only way I could think of. But I suffered for it too, you know." He reached his hand up to his scarred left cheek, just below his sightless white eye.
"I know, it's just... I said the nightmare was over, but it was just beginning. You asked me if I could 'imagine the pain of betrayal' when we last met. There was no need for imagination. Ten minutes after telling me, and I quote, 'My respect for you is beyond what I could possibly put into words', you tell me to choose between Astrid and the Dragon Eye? The future of the dragons over my future? Do you have any idea what that did to me?"
"I really am sorry, Hiccup. If I could go back and do differently, I would. Please forgive me, Hiccup."
"It's alright. It was war then, and they say that all's fair in love and war."
They flew in silence for about an hour, occasionally speeding up or doing aerobatics to relieve the monotony of the flight.
"What happened to the Edge after you left it? I would have thought the volcano might have buried it." Viggo asked suddenly.
"I don't think so. We covered up a few of the holes with Gronckle Iron and Deathsong Amber, and Mala's Eruptodon sometimes goes over there for a meal, I think. Why? Did you think of going there?"
"The thought did cross my mind, yes. The dragons there might be able to use my help. I understand that a lot of them were hurt?"
"Yes, we rescued a lot of them and healed wing sprains and things like that."
"Do you think they would, well, recognize me?"
"If you can make them understand that you've changed, they will accept you, Viggo. It's like with Vikings."
"But would Vikings accept me? I've done so much against Berk. Would they forgive the Submaripper incident? The Fliers' attack on Stoick? Putting a price on your head? Hurting all of you?"
"The Riders probably would. You heard the twins and Snotlout talking about you during the Shellfire incident. Fishlegs doesn't hold grudges; if he thinks you're sorry, he would forgive you. Astrid knows you saved my life at, as she thinks, cost of your own. She would probably accept you for that, even after you threatened hers more than once. The rest of Berk would accept you if I asked them to; they wouldn't try to kill you, but some of them would be a bit unfriendly, I expect."
"That sounds like an understatement to me. Would they have accepted Johann if he had come and apologised?"
"Probably not, but that's different. He pretended to be our friend for years, since long before I was born. He tricked everyone on Berk, so they would think he was tricking them again. As, in fact, he probably would be. If you come with me now, you would see."
"Do you actually want me to come?" Viggo asked, sounding unsure.
"Yes. I owe you my life, Viggo. I thought I'd have to die before I would be able to thank you. If you are 6 hours of flight away, I'm very unlikely to see you again anytime soon."
"I owe you my life too, you know. If it hadn't been for you, I wouldn't have been able to train the Monstrous Nightmare that saved me."
"But if it hadn't been for me, you wouldn't have had to escape the cave-in base, would you?" Hiccup snarked back.
"There's no use playing what-if, Hiccup. You saved my life, I saved yours. We're even."
"Which means I can do… This!" Hiccup stood up on Toothless, grabbed Inferno, and jumped onto Lynnedslag, pushing Viggo off. Lynnedslag dived to catch Viggo, but Toothless swooped in and caught him first.
"Hiccup! Wh… What did you just do?" Viggo gasped, sitting on Toothless, who was gliding next to Lynnedslag.
"I swapped dragons with you." Hiccup shrugged, grinning. "Why, did you think I was trying to kill you or something?"
"I thought you must have spent too much time with Dagur," Viggo shot back. "Yes, I thought you were trying to kill me."
They swapped dragons again, Viggo almost falling off Lynnedslag's back as he tried to get on in mid-air.
"Oh, but I'm too pure to do that, aren't I? Too innocent? Not ruthless enough?" Hiccup threw his words from months ago back at him.
"And one day, that's going to get you killed." Viggo quoted himself. "Definitely. But I'm sure you'll be glad to know that I don't plan on being the one who kills you."
"But isn't it those same qualities that have stopped me from getting me killed in the last five years? Turned so many enemies into friends? Toothless, Heather, Alvin, Dagur, Mala, Eret, all sorts of other dragons, and now you?" Hiccup shot his bolt and waited for Viggo's reaction.
"Fair point. On the other hand, it's what got Johann, Krogan, and Ryker killed." Viggo retorted.
"No, they got themselves killed. Johann was killed by the King of Dragons when he tried to steal the egg, Krogan got killed by his employer when he failed to capture the King, and you dropped the dagger that stirred up the Submaripper that killed Ryker. It was, unfortunately, my fault that Dad was killed. If I hadn't tried to reason with Drago I probably wouldn't have almost got hit by Toothless. No, bud, I know it wasn't your fault." His last remark addressed to Toothless, who had crooned apologetically.
"It wasn't your fault either, Hiccup. By your own logic, Drago was the one who ordered the other Bewilderbeast to force Toothless to kill you. It was his fault. You are not a killer, Hiccup. You will kill if that is what is necessary to protect those whom you love, but you are not a killer. It isn't who you are." Viggo turned to look at Hiccup while speaking, his eyes meeting Hiccup's as he saw the relief in them.
Hiccup looked down. "When I was being captured by all those bounty hunters, Krogan and I fell off a cliff. I managed to find a handhold on the side, and Krogan grabbed my metal leg. He told me to pull him up. His wait was dragging me down, and I was slipping. So I undid my prosthetic, and he fell into the sea. I… I thought I had killed him. And I wouldn't have survived even then if Ryker hadn't pulled me up. I dropped him for nothing. I don't know how he did survive, but it wasn't due to any effort on my part. Would someone who isn't a killer have done that?" He asked, a trifle bitterly.
"A killer wouldn't feel bad about it, Hiccup. A killer does not regret killing, even if it was the only option. And I'm sorry that I made that happen to you, Hiccup." Viggo apologised.
"Actually, it was only because of you that Ryker didn't kill me then and there. He said that you wanted to kill me yourself. Luckily for me, the other Riders and my Dad appeared before it got to that stage, but it would have been too late for me if you hadn't told him you wanted me alive." Hiccup explained.
"Why do you care?" Viggo asked suddenly.
"Why do I care about what?" Hiccup asked, puzzled.
"Why do you care whether I think you are a killer? I'm the one who has tried to kill you so many times. Usually, people don't care what their would-be killers think of them. Why do you?" Viggo expanded on his question.
"You taught me a lot, Viggo. When I met you, I had never met an enemy who could outwit me. I was the master strategist. I didn't think of myself as unbeatable, but I was overconfident. You outplayed me the first time we met. You were always a step ahead of me, usually more. Johann couldn't do that. Nor could Krogan. They preferred brute force methods than strategic attacks. Did you ever play a Maces and Talons game with Krogan?"
"You were quite the interesting opponent, I'll admit. Most people fought like Dagur- classic Viking methods. You, on the other hand, were much more unorthodox. To tell the truth, you caught up with me more than once; you just didn't exploit that advantage before I pulled ahead again. If you had more experience, you would probably have been able to even the scores more often. As it was, you did win the game. As for Krogan, he never played Maces and Talons. He believed killing pieces of marble was no use when you could just kill real people instead."
"Sounds like Snotlout." Hiccup put on a Snotlout-voice. "'Why read words when you can just kill the stuff the words tell you stuff about?' That was in Dragon Training when we were still at war with dragons." He said.
"And does he play Maces and Talons?" Viggo asked curiously.
"No, but he does watch when other people play if he's bored, though. You know, we should have a game someday. I'd like to see if you're as good as Maces and Talons when it's on a game board as you are when the pieces are real people."
"I'm not necessarily more skilled than you. I'm rather surprised Heather and Dagur never told you what I said the first time they met you. I told about my games with my grandfather when I was a boy. He always won, so I thought that he was better. There are two ways to be fooled, Hiccup. One is to believe what isn't true, and the other is to refuse to believe what is. I was a fool when I believed that my grandfather was more skilled than I. But what happened to 'What I am not is your friend, your ally, or your Maces and Talons buddy'?" Viggo ribbed him.
"Well I think the first one was disproven today and the second one disproven when you helped me infiltrate Johann's base, and we definitely did not just 'leave our personal lives out of this', so there's no reason for the last one not to be invalidated sometime soon." Hiccup retorted.
"You make a good point there. I did, however, lose my set when I 'died', so I haven't had much practice recently."
"I think I know just the set for you. It's life-size and made of solid gold, and all you need to do to get it is win a tournament. Any objections?"
"None at all. When can I collect it from Berk?" Viggo said, turning the tables neatly.
"Please don't ask them to deliver it to Berk if you win it. It would be a better idea to send it to Berserk instead, don't you think?"
"Maybe, but that would mean I couldn't see Toothless carrying a life-size and solid gold Accomplice. I mean, that would be your natural choice of piece to bring first, wouldn't it?" Viggo shot back.
"I rather think the Traitor would be more accurate, don't you?" Hiccup pushed.
"I'm not dead yet, and I'm sure you know that the Traitor always dies?"
"Heather isn't dead either. But perhaps I should make sure you don't turn out to be the other exception that would disprove the rule?" Hiccup asked mock-threateningly, activating Inferno.
"Don't trouble yourself." Viggo unsheathed his own firesword and clanged it against Hiccup's.
"No trouble at all." Hiccup replied, pulling Toothless around so that he ended up slightly above and behind Viggo, placing Inferno so that Viggo could feel its heat at the back of his neck.
Lynnedslag went into a steep dive, and just as Toothless' faster diving speed almost crashed him into Lynnedslag, Viggo side-slipped and pulled above Hiccup so that he was in the same position Hiccup had just been.
"Nice move, Viggo." Hiccup approved as they moved back into wingtip-to-wingtip positions.
"All I did was ask Lynnedslag to get me behind you. He did all the work." Viggo admitted.
"Dad said I would be a dead man if I tried to separate the Dragon Fliers and their Singetails in my mind. He was wrong about that, but it applies to Riders and their dragons. Unless it's Snotlout and Hookfang, in which case they do it themselves." Hiccup shrugged.
They flew in silence for a little longer, with exception of a few remarks.
"You know, this reminds me of the first flight we took through the fog bank. Everyone was just repeating 'Into the Great Beyond. The Great Beyond. Yeah, the Great Beyond.' over and over again. We had started out much more enthusiastic, looking for both new dragons and Dagur."
"Has Dagur given up on his obsession about Skrills? He isn't going to dragon-nap Lynnedslag, is he?" Viggo asked, more to relieve the monotony than from any real anxiety.
"He's got his own dragon now. Two of them, in fact. Shattermaster his Gronckle, who is unable to fly now, and Sleuther the Triple Stryke, whom we rescued from the Dragon Fights. He's not going to try to separate a dragon from its rider, not unless he wants to start babbling because he was struck by lightning."
"Good to hear." Viggo said rather absently.
"You know, I didn't actually plan to kill you, that time I put a bounty on your head," He said after flying in silence for some time.
"You didn't? Ryker certainly thought you did." Hiccup stated in surprise.
"I couldn't trust him completely by then, and it was the only way I could ensure you got to me unharmed. I told him that I didn't want him to torture you so much that you were wishing for death by the time you got to me." Viggo explained.
"Of course. That would take all the fun out of it, wouldn't it?" Hiccup mumbled sarcastically.
"But what did you want to do with me, then?" He asked, puzzled.
"I wanted to put you out of action so that I could make a final attack on the Edge and Berk. Without you, the other Riders wouldn't be able to defeat me. I could probably make them sign the treaty I offered to you before the Defenders of the Wing episode." Viggo answered.
"But how would you put me out of action? I've always found a way to escape before, so it wasn't likely to change then. The only thing that would stop me would be losing my other leg or something else as drastic, which you just said you didn't want to do." Hiccup pointed out the gaping hole in Viggo's plan.
"Let me ask you a question. Would you have gone against the Viking Council laws if I invoked one of them against you?" Viggo asked instead of answering Hiccup's question directly.
"Unlikely. As Heir of Berk, I was expected to obey those laws even more than most people. But what law could you have used? I can't think of any that would stop me, except… Oh." He trailed off as he realised what Viggo was driving at.
"Exactly. It wouldn't have been permanent, just long enough. I would have revoked it after your friends had signed the treaty. That's why I wanted you unharmed." Viggo clarified.
"If that had happened, the others might have been killed." Hiccup realised. "And here I thought I would be the one who would have died if they hadn't rescued me from Ryker."
"Would you have preferred that? Assuming, of course, that my plan would have gone through."
"My certain death or their possible deaths, and the certain deaths of more dragons? That's a hard one. Add the fact that if I chose the first option, the second would probably happen anyway? I guess I'd go with your plan. It would be extremely humiliating, though." Hiccup grimaced.
"Life generally is. It can be painful, or humiliating, or both. Very rarely is it neither." Viggo said soberly.
"If Dagur had thought up your plan and used it, it would be firmly in the 'both' category, I think. So why wouldn't it be with you?" Hiccup asked.
"You'd got too much potential for me to destroy it. People with more strength in the head than the body are too rare. That's why I prefer to be on the same side as you than for us to be trying to kill each other. If we tried hard enough, we'd probably both succeed."
"Such words of wisdom!" Hiccup said with gentle sarcasm. "But you're right. You probably could have killed me more than once."
"And Toothless could have killed me at least once." Viggo responded.
"Unless you were about to kill me, I don't think he would." Hiccup stated.
After some time, Hiccup spoke again. "We aren't far from Berk now. Race you there?"
"But I don't know where to go." Viggo argued.
"True. We should probably go to the Cove so that you aren't seen until I can explain things to Astrid and Mum." Hiccup decided.
"It's your call." Viggo shrugged.
Hiccup led the way to the Cove. Viggo landed there while Hiccup continued to the village, where he was met by an annoyed Astrid.
"You're late, Chief."
"So it's Chief, is it?" Hiccup snarked.
"Too right it is. Did anything go wrong?" Astrid asked, her annoyance giving way to concern.
"Not really, but I found a Skrill. It came back with me." Hiccup said.
Astrid crossed her arms. "Alright, out with it. What's so important about this Skrill?"
"Viggo's riding it." Hiccup said directly.
"He's alive?" She asked in surprise.
"Yep. I left him outside the village." He explained.
"Why am I even surprised? The man doesn't seem to know how to die." Astrid said in mock-exasperation.
"He would probably say the same thing about us. You don't mind him coming here, do you?" He almost pleaded.
"Hiccup, he tried to kill you!" She protested.
"He saved my life, Astrid. I thought you of all people would understand that! You were willing to forgive him when you thought he was dead. Why does that change because he's alive?" Hiccup argued.
"Alright, then. But I'm not sure the rest of the village will accept him." She warned.
"He knows that. As long as they aren't openly hostile, he'll be alright." He said.
"Do you want me to go to the Cove and bring him here?" Astrid offered.
"How do you even know he's there?" He asked.
"Because I know you and I know that that's where you would have left him." She said triumphantly. "Do you want me to go or not?"
"Yes, please. Just don't kill him, okay?" He asked.
This is my first fanfic here, so please excuse anything OOC about Hiccup. I know that 'Viggo lives' stories have been done before, and they usually are more exciting than simple Viggo-Hiccup dialogues, but I felt like I had to write this. I will try to get the other chapter out by the weekend. Please review.