A/N: Hello! I am a new member of Team Dragon Star, and I am really honored to join TDS. :D This fic is both my first one-shot and my first HTTYD/RotG Crossover. This is a Modern!Hijack AU. I hope you enjoy! This features quotes from Joel Faviere's "Stay That Way" Suicide Awareness video on YouTube. I highly recommend you listen to it while you read and pause accordingly to your spot in the fic. :) Please review and share your thoughts. Oh, and I have not yet seen HTTYD2 yet, so please don't leave any spoilers.
***SPOILER WARNING FOR Frozen AND John Green's The Fault In Our Stars.***
Disclaimer: I do not own How To Train Your Dragon, Rise of the Guardians, Joel Faviere's "Stay That Way," or anything else recognizable.
TRIGGER WARNINGS: bullying, depression, suicidal thoughts and actions, cursing.
"I woke up, but I—but I wish I hadn't. This is all in my h—This is all in my head, right?"
Freshman Year: It sure is dark outside, Hilderic Henry Haddock notes as he takes turns between staring at his smartphone and out the second story window of his room. Fresh December snow covers the ground in a blanket, and the wind is howling. Hilderic can hear it through the thin glass window. His phone says it is a little past 10 at night. Still dressed in his signature blue jeans, green button-down and brown vest, Hilderic lays on top of the brown comforter of his queen sized bed. The fanlight burns overhead. I'm not motivated to do anything. Hilderic taps at his cell phone.
His touchscreen displays a variety of apps with an image of Hilderic and his best friend, Jackson Overland, in the background. Hilderic stares at the two frozen faces pressed together in order to fit in the camera's limited range: his own bright green eyes stare straight ahead at the camera. Shaggy, auburn locks of hair stick out in a messy manner. Freckles dot most of his tan skin, and a smile reveals slightly crooked teeth. If Hilderic looks hard enough, he can detect the shy hint of pink that had dusted his cheeks.
It's…I am nothing attractive. Hilderic's arm, the one not extended to snap the image, is slung over his best friend's shoulder blades. Jack's eyes, a beautiful chocolate brown, match his ruffled hair in color and are trained on Hilderic's face in the picture. Jack's skin is pale, not a blemish or freckle to be seen, and his teeth are perfectly white and straight as he smiles.
That picture was taken two years ago, in the autumn of Hilderic's seventh grade year. It was taken right after midterms, Hilderic remembers fondly as he catches a blurry glimpse of a beige desk behind Jack's head in the picture. His previous wallpaper had been of an ebony dragon the boy had sketched in art class at the beginning of the school year. Jack had recently gone sifting through Hilderic's old, small collection of saved photos and set it as Hilderic's wallpaper while Hilderic grabbed their food at Sweet Dreams, the ice cream shop in town that Jack is obsessed with. Hilderic doesn't have the heart to change it. Jack had been staring at him with big, begging, brown puppy eyes.
Nails scrape against Hilderic's bedroom door and push it open. The teen barely sits up in bed only to be attacked by his giant, Black English Mastiff. "Toothless!" Hilderic reprimands with a laugh. "Toothless, down! Sit! I said sit!" Toothless gifts his master a slobbery kiss with a large sweep of his tongue and sits at the foot of the boy's bed. "Oh, gross! Bad dog!" Toothless barks in triumph, and Hilderic thinks the dog is laughing at him.
When the dog had first been found and adopted as a puppy, he didn't have any teeth. This prompted Hilderic to name his best (canine) friend Toothless.
Hilderic lazily scratches Toothless behind the ears, the dog's sweet spot, and effectively spoils the giant beast.
There is a familiar pattern of vibrations coming from the high school freshman's side: a text message. He quickly unlocks his phone and smiles when he sees a text from Jack.
Now, Hilderic is usually one of those people who always has to start the phone conversation with his friends. He's never the initial responder to a text message saying, "Hi," "Hey," or "How are you?" But not with Jack, which Hilderic endlessly appreciates.
Jack will start texting him at any time with a new topic. Their conversation history on Hilderic's phone currently rests at about 1,068 messages total. Hilderic, again, doesn't have the heart to delete their messages from weeks and months ago, not until it starts to affect his phone storage capacity.
So, really, their conversation log is just one big chat on Hilderic's cell. He'll often go back and reread what he and his best friend had written to each other, just barely remembering what the exact context was. It brings him to release a needed laugh or a faint smile. It's always a good reminder that Jack cares. He likes to talk to Hilderic. The boy covered in freckles isn't alone, despite how often he feels that way.
Hilderic opens the message:
Jack: HICCUP! Come outside right now!
Hiccup is the nickname Jack gave Hilderic when they first met in first grade. Hilderic had been getting bullied on the playground by Snotface and the Rough-and-Tough nutty twins—also known as Scott Jorgenson and Rachel and Tyler Thorston—because he was a shrimp and had a slightly nasal voice, wasn't very strong and liked to read about dragons and did excellent in school. It was Jack's first day at that elementary school, and when he saw the nice, small boy get harshly shoved to the ground, he screamed at the bullies and waved a big stick threateningly in their direction. The three tormentors had walked away, no longer entertained. Hilderic had stuttered out a "Thank you" as well as his name, due to an embarrassing case of the hiccups that just wouldn't go away. Jack struggled with the pronunciation of Hilderic, what with it being a name the brown-eyed boy had never heard before, and decided to just affectionately call his new friend Hiccup. They'd been best friends ever since.
Hilderic: What? Why? Jack, what are you up to?
Jack: JUST COME! IT'S AWESOME! :D
Knowing how Jack loves to be cunning and get into mischief, the big smiley face at the end of the message does little to calm the teen's sudden anxiety at what his best friend could have done this time. He has a history of pranking the neighbors and various kids at school, something Hilderic is reluctant to encourage, even if the victims include bullies.
Warily, Hilderic pulls on his shoes and tries to hurry outside as silently as possible, not wanting to wake his parents, his father especially; some would describe Storr as a giant monster in build, mostly when compared to Hilderic, and the fact that his dad was the head chief of police didn't assuage the man's intimidating nature. Storr's name means: "a great man." Most people would consider that very fitting. Jack is crazy. What in the world does he want to show me at 10:30 at night?
Jack lives two houses down from Hilderic, so it's no big surprise for the green-eyed boy to see his best friend on his doorstep so late at night, in his favorite dark blue hoodie and nothing to protect his feet from the cruel weather. Jack finds shoes to be oppressive.
"What am I supposed to be seeing again?" Hilderic asks in annoyance. Jack's eyes are lit up with mirth, and his pure white smile matches one of a five-year-old on Christmas morning.
Jack takes his friend's hand. "Come with me!" he urges Hilderic with his deep voice and pulls the shorter of the two down the road towards the Overland house. Hilderic gripes about how the other's bare hands are ice cold and must be frost bitten by now, just like his pale feet.
When he sees the two snowmen in the front of his best friend's yard through the darkness, the first thing Hilderic thinks to ask is, "Is that my scarf?" One of the snowmen has a plaid scarf tied around its neck. If there was more lamplight available, the Haddock boy is positive the colors would be brown and green. He's been missing that scarf for over a year. The other snowman has a light colored scarf, most likely made of blue colored fabric; blue is Jack's favorite color.
"Yep," Jack says cheekily. "Isn't it great? That's us as snowmen!" Jack's childish side is simply adorable.
"Huh." Hilderic just now notices that Jack hasn't released his hand yet. Hilderic doesn't mind at all. "So, this is what you wanted to show me? No prank you pulled on the old, conservative couple next door? You didn't 'play another trick' on Emma, as she would say?" Emma is Jack's baby sister who was four years younger than the boys. She is in fifth grade now. Jack has a habit of teasing her.
Jack sighs in mock exasperation. "Yes, Hiccup, I promise I've been a good boy. I wouldn't want to be put on the Naughty List this close to Christmas, now would I?" Jack winks, and Hilderic laughs genuinely at his friend's antics.
"Can I have my scarf back?"
"No. Not until the snowmen melt."
They stand out in the cold for a few minutes, just gazing at the snowmen through the almost indiscernible darkness, occasionally squeezing the other's hand. Winter is Jack's favorite season, which is probably why he was so excited to show Hilderic the dynamic duo of snowmen. Winter, for Jack, is filled with wonder and fun. Hilderic prefers autumn, but he can acknowledge the beauty of winter, despite the boy's distaste for the cold.
Hilderic feels Jack's shoulders twitch with a slight shiver, and he silently rubs Jack's freezing fingers with his own. Jack grins at him dumbly with his lids half concealing his stunning chocolate spheres. It begins to snow lightly, and snowflakes lightly dance down from the sky and get tangled into the boys' dark hair and cheeks and eyelashes.
And for now, Hilderic doesn't mind that he is secretly in love with his best friend and is too scared of rejection to say anything. For now, this is enough. For now, the blinding darkness lingering in Hilderic's head has faded to a forgettable place. Because… Jack makes him happy, so incredibly happy.
"Honestly, my arms, and legs, are completely separated from my will, to my want—to my want to move forward. Move—Move forward? Right. Move forward, right?"
"There you are, Hiccup!"
Hilderic closes his locker with a slam and turns around hesitantly to see his best friend grinning at him. The green-eyed boy forces a smile, hoping Jack doesn't notice the redness around his eyes. "Oh, Jack, hey. G-Goo-Good morning!"
"Where were you earlier?" The brown-eyed freshman asks with a small frown. "Sandy and I were waiting for you by your locker, but you never showed…" Hilderic gulps.
It's currently passing time between first and second hour. Hilderic had been ushered into the main office by Mr. Mildew as soon as he entered the building of Berk Public High School. Mildew, the guidance counselor who ironically hates all children, is a cantankerous old man with an out of control graying beard. The guidance counselor's office is filled with pictures of the man's sheepdog, Fungus, as well as homemade "inspirational posters" that are really just filled with sarcasm and belittlement. Hilderic had to sit through two minutes of Mildew adjusting the teen's schedule for the upcoming semester and twenty minutes of the angry man screaming about how worthless and shameful so many people thought Hilderic was, not helping the young boy's low confidence.
"I-I, oh, sorry. I was dragged into Mildew's office for a…for a meeting, right when I got here, and I had to miss a-all of Spanish as a result. Sorry." Actually, Hilderic would have been able to attend the second half of first hour just fine, but he had been too busy crying his eyes out and scratching his arm in the boys' bathroom. He hopes that his eyes had lost the redness by now.
"Nah, it's cool," Jack amends as he bumps Hilderic's shoulder with his own. They begin walk down a different hallway for their next class. "What about?"
"What?" Hilderic asks, distracted by the fact that he is trying to not collapse to the floor; his legs are unexpectedly wobbly at the moment.
"What was the meeting about?"
How I won't go anywhere in life. How I'm a complete disappointment to my dad. How I'm a useless, miserable waste of a life form that ruins everything he touches. But Hilderic can't tell Jack that. He thinks about the schedule change.
"Oh, just some problems with m-my schedule for next semester. Turns out I can't take government with you fourth hour like we wanted. I have to take gym instead."
"That sucks. Well, let's hope for the best. Maybe…Maybe this year you won't get hurt."
"Doubt it. Knowing my luck, Astrid and Snotface will be in that same class. Really, I'm only safe if I'm the sole student in the class, and there is no teacher." Hilderic has always had a history of getting injured during gym class, even when Jack was there to help minimize the damages.
Jack shrugs and offers a sympathetic half-grin as he says, "I'm sorry, Hiccup. I wish I could take gym with you."
"Eh, I'll survive. Y'know, maybe," Hilderic deadpans, still secretly feeling crumby. He picks up his pace as they round a corner. "At least we'll have English together, and—and biology." Jack nods with an encouraging smile. "Anyway, I have to get to Art. See ya later, Jack." Hilderic walks faster down the hallway, leaving his brown-eyed companion to go to his chemistry class.
"We'll eat lunch with the Easter Kangaroo in the hall, by the Band Room!" Jack calls after Hilderic. "Like we do everyday."
Hilderic briefly turns around to respond with a small, honest smile, nearly getting plowed down by a giant upperclassman because of it. "L-Looking forward to it, Jack."
"This room—the room matches my mind, and I used to break this, all of it."
The brash sound of a whistle causes Hilderic to flinch as he steps out of the boys' locker room, dressed in his gym shorts and an old, black T-shirt advertising some band he doesn't even like anymore. The gym teacher is Mr. Mulberry, who stands in the center of the court with a clipboard in hand. Hilderic hears the man muttering students' names, so he is probably busy taking attendance. Mulberry has a fat blonde beard that spreads around his face. He wears a green shirt with the school's insignia of a ferocious Viking across the chest and red and tan striped sweatpants.
Hilderic and his classmates do the mandatory warm up activities for five minutes; first a brief jog around the basketball court and then stretching in a circle. During this time, Hilderic catches his breath, not being the athletic type, and glances around at the other kids. Just as he suspected a month ago, Astrid and Snotface are in his gym class, along with two-dozen other dimwits who like to mock Hilderic for his high class-rank and love of fantasy.
Astrid is leading the stretches. Her blonde hair is pulled into a side braid and leaks over her left shoulder; her bangs hang limply over her blue eyes. She's wearing an old lacrosse T-shirt and black soccer shorts. She is very strong and athletic. Hilderic remembers the first time he talked to the highly temperamental girl: It had been in kindergarten. He had seen her scribbling in a fairy tale coloring book and approached her with a smile filled with sincerity and innocence. He had taken a seat next to her and asked if she wanted to see his coloring book filled with dragons. He thought she was a cool person and had hoped she would be his first friend. She had looked him up and down with a glare, huffed, and pinched his arm, saying that was for sitting next to her without permission. She then punched him in the arm, hard and with malice, saying that was for everything else. Hilderic still doesn't understand why she hates him so much, but he's given up on trying to gain her friendship a long time ago.
Hilderic glances at Snotface, whose black hair sticks out in disarray and blue eyes that stare at Astrid with longing. Scott flirts with Astrid on a daily basis and gets shot down every time.
Mulberry calls the students over to him. "Now, today," he says. "We will be playing Medic." All of the students, aside from Hilderic, cheer with glee. Medic is like dodge ball, except, instead of sitting on the sidelines when you are hit with a ball, you take a seat on the floor wherever you are hit and wait for one of your team's two medics to drag you back to the thick, red line on your side of the court, referred to as the Revival Line, and then you are back in the game. The goal is to get both of the opposing team's medics hit with a ball and on the floor at the same time before one can help the other, and then the game is over. He splits the class into two teams. "The first team's medics will be Tyler Thorston and Scott, while second team will have Astrid and Hilderic."
Most of the class blows up in rage and annoyance.
"WHAT?!" shouts Snotface with a laugh, who points a finger in Hilderic's direction. "You can't have Hilderic the Useless be medic! The other team is screwed. I call instant victory." Tyler and Rachel, who are identical twins excluding gender, with the same messy, long blonde hair, snicker as they slap at each other like always; they have a habit of being violent with each other and fighting.
Most of the other kids utter something akin to Scott, saying Hilderic is completely useless and should just sit out while someone else, anyone else, takes the role of medic.
"Enough!" Mulberry yells to regain order. "Hilderic Haddock will act as Medic, and that is the final say. Now set up the dang game, for Thor's sake."
Hilderic awkwardly struggles to put on one of the yellow vests that symbolize his role in the game, all the while his classmates bump into him as they make their way onto the court. The green-eyed misfit feels extremely alone, especially when Astrid grabs his arm and hisses, "Just, stay out of my way, Useless," in his ear just before the game begins.
The game doesn't go well for Hilderic. Astrid expertly drags all of their down teammates back to the Revival Line, so he has nothing to do but stay back and try to not get assaulted with colored rubber balls. After a tense fifteen minutes, Hilderic gets hit in the face by a ball Snotface had thrown, and he goes down. Astrid drags him back to the line, muttering curses at the auburn haired boy, while all the other teammates reluctantly act as a barricade. Rachel, who is on Snotface's team, somehow manages to toss a ball that lands on Astrid's shoulder, and the game is done. Hilderic faces many glares and scoffs from his teammates. His hearing unintentionally zones in on the insults that are flung his way, and his brain repeats them like a song that's stuck in his head.
God, Haddock can't do anything right!
Why does he even have to be in our class? He's such a pain. He shouldn't even be here.
He's utterly worthless. Useless. Nothing.
Mulberry starts another round of Medic, with different students as the medics this time. Hilderic, feeling an unexpected weight of pain and loneliness on his shoulders, sits in the corner on the floor, out of reach of most of the balls, hoping to be out of the way and hoping class will be over soon. He scratches his arm until Mulberry yells at him to stand up and participate. The sting had felt nice, dulled his thoughts slightly. Hilderic stands obediently and picks up a ball that had rolled over, but he doesn't move.
He can't do anything right! Worthless. Useless. Nothing. Useless. Nothing. Worthless. Worthless.
He shouldn't be here.
In the locker room after gym, Hilderic quickly changes clothes and grabs his backpack. Snotface has a very smug look about him as he passes Hilderic and shoves him into the wall effortlessly. "Sorry, Useless, I didn't see you there," the bully spites out with a mocking laugh, and he fist bumps Tyler.
Hilderic's fingernails bite at his palms in an attempt to lessen the male's emotional anguish. Either way, pain demands to be felt.
Hilderic wants to throw an insulting remark back, but he knows it would be useless, just like he is. Snotface is a muscular, arrogant bully with a rock in place of his brain. Yet he somehow has more friends than Hilderic, and he loves to torment the smaller, gangly boy.
Oh, and there's one more thing you need to know: Storr Haddock and Spencer Jorgenson, Snot's father, are half brothers.
Meekly, Hilderic utters, "Don't worry about it, cuz," before hurrying out of the room.
Hilderic is just so tired.
"The light is now—The light is now on, uhm. The room is completely lit up. But for some reason I-I still—I still can't—I can't see absolutely anything. Not even through my lids."
As Toothless amuses himself by running up and down the stairs and making a lot of noise, Hilderic sits at the kitchen table doing his English assignment, the last of his homework for the day. He has to write a short, 250 word minimum response to the relationship within Romeo and Juliet, which is, in the boy's opinion, the worst love story in existence, and he wishes people would stop trying to compare their relationships to them. Hilderic is positive that the people who have written all those crappy love songs referencing the Shakespearean couple have never read the play in its entirety.
The auburn-haired boy is extremely grateful that, while Jack is an extreme romantic, his best friend also despises the star-crossed lovers.
Hilderic has never believed in Love At First Sight. You can't love someone just by seeing him or her one time. That is just physical attraction, infatuation, lust, but nothing close to love. And the fact that they commit suicide only on the grounds that they can't live without each other is incredibly ridiculous. He would be doing it for far more...valid reasons if Hilderic was ever going to commit—nope. Not going there. He should just stop thinking.
He quickly finishes writing how the R&J Tragedy is the worst, most unrealistic standard a couple can have for a successful relationship and packs his books away in his backpack. Green eyes find the time displayed on the oven: 4:46 PM. He whistles, and Toothless comes barreling into the kitchen just as his master fills up his giant food bowl on the floor.
Valma, Hilderic's mother, comes into the room to see her son roughhousing with Toothless, whose tail wags in pure joy. Her light green eyes sparkle at the sweet sight, and she clears her throat.
Hilderic looks up to see his mother smiling at him and Toothless. "Oh, hey, Mom. How are your photos coming?"
Valma makes a living as both a photographer and an artist. She recently took a lot of group photos for Berk's High School Basketball team, and is just now developing them. "They are coming along perfectly, though it took forever for the bunch of clods to settle down for the pictures," she says with a huff. She opens a drawer and starts putting on a yellow apron. Her hair is the same auburn shade as Hilderic's, but it is pulled back into three thin braids
Hilderic chuckles. Valma rarely has any patience for the younger generation, excluding her son and his small group of friends, of course. Berk continues the stereotype that most athletes were louts.
"Would you mind helping make dinner tonight?" She waves a pair of tongs in her hand.
"I would be happy to, Mom. Uh. What are we having?"
Storr gets home from the Police Station earlier than normal that evening. Dinner conversation between Hilderic and his muscular father is filled with clipped sentences and awkward pauses. It seems to have always been this way, as far as Hilderic can remember, anyway. Storr has a vast red beard that has been losing its color over the years, possibly due to the stress that comes with carrying the title of Head Chief of Police. His blue eyes mostly stare at his plate or his hand when he pries the crab legs open with just his hands. Hilderic needs to use a cracker to open his due to his severe lack of strength.
Hilderic knows that his father is ashamed of him; the boy can see it in the man's eyes. But, despite what one might think, it has nothing to do with the fact that Hilderic is gay—Storr is very accepting and supportive about that. Storr Haddock is not a homophobic man. He's ashamed of his son, Hilderic is positive, because he's weak, and he's not a leader. The teenager is clumsy; he's constantly dropping things and tripping over his feet, and he makes a mess out of everything. Outside of his small circle of friends, Hilderic hardly says a word. And to top it off, Hilderic doesn't want to join the police force like Storr has always wanted for his son. Hilderic can't remember a time where a conversation with his intimidating father hasn't been awkward on both sides. They don't have a lot to talk about.
The teen concentrates on breaking open the crab legs and gently extracting the coral tinted meat. Valma starts talking about possible plans for Hilderic's nearing birthday at the end of February—he suffers the misfortune of being born on the 29th, just one more thing Snotface and the others have made fun of him for in the past—but her son offers very little input.
As a man, Hilderic knows he is a failure.
"I-I, ah—I just don't wanna even be—I don't even wanna be here. W-Wait. What? Why?"
Hilderic has known Gobber his whole life. The fifty-one-year-old man is Storr's best friend as well as Hilderic's godfather. Like, Storr, Gobber is incredibly beefy and muscular, towering over Hilderic at six and a half feet tall. The man is now a veteran cop, having lost his left hand and right foot while rescuing a kidnapped little girl; he has prosthetics for those lost limbs. Despite being plagued with the disabilities, Hilderic finds that Gobber is one of the most sarcastic, cheerful and loyal people he has the pleasure to know.
Hilderic spins around in Gobber's chair as the older man finishes filing documents for new firearms. Since he can't exactly go out and protect people as successfully as he once could, Storr has granted Gobber the job of ordering and organizing the station's supply of firearms. It's the summer before Hilderic's sophomore year, and the boy would love to be spending time with his friends, especially Jack, but he can't right now. Storr likes to use these free days to drag his son down to the station and help Gobber as Hilderic's summer job. There isn't much to do today. Hilderic stops his spinning and stares at Gobber's long blonde mustache while he gets lost in his thoughts about Jack.
"Hilderic, what're ye doin'? Quit yer daydreamin', an' get te work! Whaddya think I'm payin' ye for?"
"Gobber, you don't pay me. Dad does," the freckled boy responds. "And I'll have you know that there isn't really anything for me to do today. We already brought the new orders to storage, and you're almost done with filling."
"Eh, I guess you're right. Say, how's yer mother doin' nowadays? I haven't seen mucha her lately."
"Mom's been busy. She's getting paid to paint a portrait of the mayor and his family."
"Well, aint dat excitin'!" Gobber grins.
Hilderic nods in agreement. Gobber puts the present files back in a drawer and locks them away.
Green eyes light up when he feels his phone buzz in his pocket. He pulls it out and sees a text from Jack.
Jack: Hic, I'm really really really REALLY bored. :( Are you done with work yet? Please save me from the cruel demon that is Boredom! I want you to buy me ice cream! Sweet Dreams is screaming our names, I swear.
Hilderic chuckles with a lopsided smile.
Hilderic: I'm done at 1. You can wait a half hour, can't you? :P And, hey! I bought last time! It's your turn, dork!
The blonde adult changes the subject with a sly smile. "So, have ye finally asked Jack out yet?"
Hilderic's face sets on fire as soon as his best friend's name evacuates Gobber's mouth. "N-NO!" The word comes out loud and rushed, and the young boy's voice cracks, which only fuels his severe embarrassment. "I-I mean, um, n-no. No, I haven't. A-And I don't plan to!"
Gobber laughs good-naturedly, "An' why not? It's clear ye really like the lad. I can tell ye have for eh long time." Hilderic drops his head onto his boss' desk in an attempt to hide his blushing face. "Don' deny it, Hilderic! I saw the way ye were smilin' at yer phone jus' now."
"Gobber…" Hilderic threatens against the wood.
"Hiccup…" Gobber mimics.
His head quickly rises, and green eyes lock with aged blue ones. "Don't call me that!"
"Why not?" the adult snickers as his prosthetic hand gestures to something far beyond their room in the police station. "Jack does." Hilderic's head snaps towards the open door, but no one is there, which is a relief.
"Th-That's because he came up with it!" Hilderic tries to defend with flailing arms. "He's—I mean, it's special—It's our thing. I…" Hilderic groans at his awkward inability to form coherent sentences.
"'Course t'is. Now answer my question: why don' ye ask the lad out on eh date already?"
Hilderic deflates with a sigh. "Be-Because…well, I'm sure you know why." He looks up at the blonde, lifelong friend of his father's. "I…I don't want to mess anything up. Jack… Jack has been my best friend for almost ten years, Gobber. I…If I lost Jack's friendship because I…because I made up his requited feelings for me in my head, I…I don't think I could…I just can't lose him. I need Jack in my life. We have so much together; I'd rather be his friend than nothing. And—And I know that he's like me, he's gay too, but I…I don't see how he could ever love all…this." Hilderic makes a weak gesture to the entirety of his body.
"What's not te love?"
Hilderic keeps his lips firmly pressed in a straight line. His brow furrows as he stares at Gobber incredulously.
Ever since fifth grade, Hilderic has had feelings for Jack. Hilderic remembers feeling scared and confused about it and wondering if he was a freak. He had been too scared of talking to his father about the crush he had on his male best friend, so he talked to Gobber, who has always acted as the middleman between the two.
The blonde had listened and comforted the small child, telling Hilderic that it was okay. He wasn't a freak. There was nothing to be ashamed of. Gobber had seated a tiny Hilderic on his knee and told the boy that he, Gobber, was the exact same way. He also thought girls were icky, and he also wanted to hold a boy's hand. Gobber also wondered why two males or two females couldn't get married. This had shocked Hilderic. He had asked if his father knew this.
"He does," Gobber had said with an encouraging smile. "He's known for, oh, 'bout 30 years now, lad. And yer father is completely fine with it. He supports me—he's still ma best friend after all. And I know he'll still love ye even if ye ever fall in love with another boy. Yer his son."
In sixth grade, Jack and Hilderic came out to each other. It had been a conversation full of fear and worry and embarrassment, but it ended in smiles and hugs and promises that this didn't ruin their friendship in the slightest.
The cell phone vibrating in his hand brings Hilderic back to the present.
Jack: I can try, I suppose. But just for you, though. ;P UGH! Hiccup! Buy me food, pppllleeeaaassseee? Just this once? I'll be your best friend~!
The young male smirks at the message. Jack knows that he is already his best friend.
Hilderic: I don't know, Jack. I mean, I'm pretty sure I already have Toothless as my best friend. You could be my second best friend. :P
Jack: NO! I'M your best friend! ME!
Only a few seconds pass after opening this message before Hilderic's phone buzzes again in a fit of seemingly never-ending spasms.
Jack: Okay, how about this.
Jack: I buy the ice cream today.
Jack: Like, I go out and buy it right now
Jack: And I hurry over to the station
Jack: Since it's like a ten minute away from Sweet Dreams,
Jack: And I give you your ice cream as soon as you get off work.
Jack: And as my reward for going alone on such a kind and noble quest,
Jack: I GET TO BE YOUR BESTEST BEST FRIEND FOREVER AND EVER!
Hilderic rolls his eyes. Buzz.
Jack: You have to give me a hug.
Jack: Because I'm lonely
Buzz. Hilderic shakes his head in disbelief; it never ends. He's grinning, though.
Jack: And I miss you. :)
Jack: Cause, y'know, I haven't seen you since yesterday…
Jack: DON'T JUDGE ME! XP
Finally, Jack ceases his flow of messages.
Hilderic: JACK, STOP BLOWING UP MY PHONE! XD
The auburn-haired teen looks over his best friend's messages, finding them very sweet and funny. It's moments akin to these where Hilderic dares to hope that Jack is flirting with him and not just being his funny, adorably clingy self. Hilderic dares to hope that Jack might have feelings for him that go beyond an extremely close friendship. But he knows deep down that the idea of Jack ever falling in love with him, Hilderic the Useless, is nothing but a pathetic fantasy. Because he's unlovable.
Hilderic: And there's something wrong with your plan, Jackson. The ice cream will have melted before you even get here. It's 90 degrees out you goof. ;P
That is an example of Jack cursing when Emma is in the room and looking over his shoulder.
Fear flashes briefly across green eyes at the sound of Gobber's booming voice. Oh yeah. He's still at work. He looks at the digital clock on Gobber's desk: 12:45 PM. There are 15 more minutes before he can be done with work. "S-Sorry, Gobber!" Hilderic murmurs sheepishly.
"Quit texting your boyfriend on the job," the blonde giant jokes without any real reprimand.
Again, a blush blossoms across a majority of Hilderic's face; the color is dark enough to hide some of his freckles from view.
"JACKSON OVERLAND IS NOT MY BOYFRIEND!"
Gobber cackles in response to the uproar Hilderic had managed to release from his tiny frame. The man sighs, "You're right. He isn't your boyfriend." A beat. Hilderic nods in triumph. "Yet."
Hilderic's open palm is soundly introduced to his face.
"Within a matter of seven hours of sleep, I'm numb, not loved—what. Not loved?Wait. I'm loved, right? Right?"
Sophomore Year: The shower water scorches Hilderic's skin as he stands under the spray, working a lather of shampoo through his dripping, auburn locks. Showers are a time for Hilderic where his thoughts wander to any corner of his mind. He can think up new art projects, chores he has forgotten to accomplish, possible hangout plans he wants to suggest to Jack, and especially the darkness that seems to always linger under the surface of his daily life. Most of which he will forget as soon as the bathing is over.
After about ten minutes of having the burning water turn his skin red, Hilderic shuts off the flow and opens the shower door, finally able to breath properly without the heat suffocating him. He grabs a towel and begins drying off. Time passes slowly.
Towel wrapped around his chest, Hilderic looks to the floor at his pile of dirty clothes. He had worn a school spirit shirt along with a pair of loose jeans that needed his woven leather brown belt to stay up.
Eventually he runs the damp fabric through his wet hair in an attempt to dry it and then lets the towel fall to the floor.
Hilderic doesn't think about anything as he wraps the belt around his neck, loops the strap through the buckle and pulls, so that the buckle is about an inch or two away from completely trapping his windpipe. He lets the length of the belt fall limply against his body due to gravity and nothing holding it up.
He stands naked like this in the middle of the cramped bathroom for a while. Staring at the yellow paint that covers the walls. Not thinking about what he is doing, eyes unfocused. He feels the cool, smooth surface of the tiles under his feet. Hilderic gradually, silently steps over to the white towel rack that hangs against the shower door. Thin fingers grab the free end of the belt and drape it listlessly over a free hook that is at eye level due to his height. Hilderic squats as far as he can while his right arm is raised in the air, still holding the tip of the strap in a loose grip.
He closes his eyes.
The portion of the belt that circles his neck tightens and the diameter shrinks a small bit. But it's nothing deadly. Nothing to worry about. He stays like this for a few moments.
Hilderic stands quickly, heart suddenly pounding against his chest. His eyes blink rapidly in succession, refocusing on reality. In five seconds, the belt is disentangled from his neck and dropped on the hard floor. The metal belt buckle makes a brief PANG against a tile, but Hilderic can't find the energy to flinch at the sound.
He keeps taking deep breaths, trying to calm down and move on. Trying to forget about what had just occurred so effortlessly. Trying to get dressed for bed.
Hilderic's hands are shaking.
This has happened four times before, four times in the past year. This mindless act with the brown woven belt and a hook or a doorknob—it's always ineffective, of course. Hilderic doesn't understand why he does it. He doesn't think about why he does it, what it might mean, doesn't want to confront the reason why he does this stupid thing.
Hilderic sinks to the floor as his heart tries to palpitate at a slower, normal speed. His behind is uncomfortable against the cold floor, especially since his flesh is still heated from the shower. The sixteen-year-old chooses to ignore it.
His knees curl up against his chest and stay put with his long arms wrapped around them.
…Sort of like a noos—
SHUT UP! Hilderic screams internally. Shut… Shut up. Think about something else. Anything else. Why… Why was I thinking that? Hilderic stands up and pulls on his green flannel pajamas. He stares at his reflection in the mirror and scratches his arm with sharp fingernails that need to be clipped.
The young adult wanders down the hall back towards his room and closes the door after Toothless enters. Hilderic feels mentally exhausted and crawls into bed after a few minutes of tapping at his phone and spoiling Toothless with constant attention. But Hilderic stays up late into the night and early morning, thinking about darkness, feeling alone, and wondering why he is even breathing.
"I just, it just arrived—it juh—it's stupid. I'm stupid. Am I?"
One thing Hilderic has learned from being in high school that has nothing to do with his education is that Jack has quite a few family friends who attend Berk High School. Though, they are all upperclassmen, and a few of them have already graduated.
They, including Jack and Hilderic, would all eat in some predetermined hallway during lunch because the cafeteria would always be crowded and deafening. It's fun, Hilderic has found from doing it every school day. Everyone is really nice.
It's only been a week since his sophomore yearstarted. With a plastic bag harboring his packed lunch, Hilderic walks down the Band Hallway—the secluded hallway with only the band/choir room and some restrooms. He takes a seat on the floor by the door to the Band Room. No one in their group of friends is actually in band, but they like to listen to the music that other students will produce.
Today Tiana is sitting across from him. The slanted bangs of her dark hair are dyed yellow and turquoise. She wears purple contacts that contrast against her tan skin, and always dresses in bright rainbow colors. She's always worrying about her friends' teeth because she is planning on becoming a dentist after high school. Being two years older than Jack and Hilderic, she's currently a senior.
"Good afternoon, Hilderic!" Tiana smiles kindly in between bites of her homemade salad.
"Hi, Ti," the auburn haired boy responds quietly. "How is your U of M application going?"
"Oh, I'm almost done!" she rushes. It is common for the girl to speak quickly. "I just need to get a few teachers to write a recommendation for me!" Hilderic nods in understanding, and Tiana glances down the hallway. "Oh, hi, Sandy!"
Sandy is a short boy at 4'10, making him legally a midget. He is introverted with strangers, and he doesn't say much unless he feels it is necessary, but he is extremely kind and loves to help others. Hilderic doesn't know how many times the junior has helped him pick up his books. His name, Hilderic finds, really suits him, because the boy has very sandy colored hair and tan skin.
The quiet boy's hazel eyes sparkle as he waves at his seated friends and sits next to Hilderic.
Jack comes down the hallway with his own packed lunch. Hilderic chuckles when Jack pouts, because Sandy has taken his usual spot. The brown-haired boy takes a seat next to Tiana and steals one of her carrots.
Nick, Pitch and Aster, the three other boys in their corral of friends, have already graduated and are currently in their first years of college.
Nicolas North is tall, buff and a little rotund. His birthplace is Russia, so he speaks with an accent. He already has a brown beard and mustache and thick eyebrows that hover over his large blue eyes. All of his friends agree that he will look just like Santa when he is an old man. He has the words Naughty and Nice tattooed to each of his beefy forearms since he lost a bet with Jack. He is going into engineering and business.
Kozmotis Pitchiner, or Pitch to his friends, is a calm, reticent person. He has very pale skin, and black hair that is always gelled back. He also towers over Hilderic, being over 6'. His eyes are a light grey with flecks of gold mixed in. Pitch usually likes to dress in dark clothes and trade sarcastic remarks with Aster and Jack. He's currently at Yale, for law. Pitch has a British accent.
E. Aster Bunnymund is originally from Australia, something that is very evident from his thick accent. He is 6'2, thin and very muscular. He has black tribal tattoos on his shoulders and forearms. His hair is dyed a grey blue, and usually would be pulled back into a long ponytail. Despite his tough appearance, there is a layer of kindness in his bright green eyes when he is around his friends. Jack and Hilderic often wonder if his parents knew of the possible pun with his name when Aster was born on an Easter Sunday: EAster-Bunny. Aster and Jack often get into heated arguments and spew insults at each other, Jack's favorite being the Easter Kangaroo, but they are very protective of each other when they need to be, like brothers. Aster wants to own a daycare after going to college because he loves children. His first name is a mystery.
Hilderic remembers that in the fall last year, when he was a freshman, he would see Aster sitting in the halls by himself, doing homework while all the others ate in the cafeteria, so the young boy suggested to Jack that they eat with him in the hallway. So they did, everyday, and the others joined them eventually. At graduation that spring, Aster had told Hilderic that he appreciated it.
Hilderic is usually very quiet during lunch, but his friend's don't mind. Fearing that he might end up saying something stupid, meaningless or awkward, Hilderic is content to just listen to the various conversations his friends are having. He'll sometimes feel too tired to listen to the others' antics and will find peaceful solitude in listening to sad music on his phone with headphones. He never shows his music to Jack; most of it are really sad songs. He doesn't want to worry Jack about anything.
Tiana is ranting about the AP class she and Hilderic share, and Hilderic feels weirdly exhausted and numb right now, so he puts his ear buds in and starts listening to dark and depressing songs with his eyes closed. The lyrics hit home every time.
"Yesterday I was high on happiness; yesterday I wanted to see today. Today I want nothing. No passions. What is passion?Am I fucking insane? I ha—I have to be fucking insane."
Hilderic frowns at the ugly mug that stares back at him.
It's a Sunday night. He's in his bedroom. Toothless is napping downstairs and his parents are watching the news. Jack's parents have him on lockdown until he finishes his English essay.
I hate myself, Hilderic abhors as he stares at the mirror on his dresser. I'm so pathetic. I can't do anything right. I'm so ugly.
A finger traces the small scar on the right side of his jaw.
No one will ever love me. No one will ever fall in love with me. I'm nothing.
Tears leak out of Hilderic's eyes.
I'm useless. I'm worthless. I'm so stupid, so weak. I can't do this.
Hilderic peers out his second story window. All I would need to do is take out the screen and jump. He suffers through a few deep breathes. No…That would probably just break my arm or my leg. I would need something else.
Hilderic crawls under his covers and scrunches his eyes shut. Why am I in so much pain?
He gets a text from Jack, but he doesn't have enough energy to respond. He's so tired—of so many, many things.
I hate myself.
"Within five minutes of this next twenty-four hour day, I've already asked myself more questions than I've asked myself in the past year of my whole entire life."
Hilderic is walking Toothless up and down the road a few times when he hears his best friend's voice call, "Hey, Hiccup!"
He smiles at the sight of Jack and Emma heading his way, dressed in jackets for protection against the declining weather. "Hi, Jack! How are you doing, Emma?" He bends down to ask this, wanting to make eye contact with the sweet, young girl.
"I'm good!" she smiles happily. Once again, Hilderic is amazed with how similar Jack and his sister look. Same brown hair, same lovely eyes, and same contagious smile. Emma looks at the giant mastiff at Hilderic's feet with adoration and longing.
"Do you wanna pet Toothless?" Hilderic asks.
Jack laughs at his sister's eagerness. She rests on her knees and pets the top of Toothless's head, causing the black beast to lick her face. Emma giggles. Jack bends down for a second to briefly rub the dog's back. "I bet you're gonna try to get Mom to get you a dog again, aren't you, Emma?" Jack teases.
"I want one just like Toothless!" Emma declares as she gets back on her feet. "He's so cute and big and protective!" If Toothless were to stand on his hind legs, he would be taller than Hilderic and Jack.
Hiccup chuckles, "He wasn't always this big. I remember when he was just a newborn pup. Jack and I were able to carry him with just one arm."
"I remember that," Jack smiles down at the mastiff. "Dang, Toothless, what happened to you?"
Hilderic's green eyes lock with Jack's, and the freckled covered boy feels his cheeks grow warm; it isn't from the autumn cold.
Emma tugs on Jack's shirt, glancing between her brother and Hilderic. "Jaaaaack," she whines. "Tell him already!"
Hilderic raises an eyebrow in confusion at that random command, "Tell me what?"
"N-Nothing!" Jack stutters with an awkward smile, cheekbones turning the faintest of pinks. "She's just being silly. It's nothing really. Just that, um, we were going to go to the library tomorrow, and Emma was wondering if you had any suggestions for her." Emma frowns for a brief second, but remains silent.
"Oh, Christopher Paolini's Eragon, definitely. That's one of my favorite books."
Jack sighs dramatically. "You and you're dragon books."
"You love it," Hilderic defends, trying to sound nonchalant. He holds his breath. Emma squeals for some unknown reason. Maybe Toothless just did something adorable when he wasn't looking.
Jack just winks.
"I feel ageless. I feel lost. Actually not even lost—becauseif I was lost, that would mean I existed, which I don't. Wait, do I? ...Yesterday I did…Or did I?"
The darkness in his bedroom is indiscernible when the shades are closed at midnight.
Hilderic can't sleep. He's had trouble with that lately. He'll be exhausted, but his body refuses to go into unconsciousness. He's found that listening to music helps to eventually lull him away from his currently dark reality.
The playlist he's listening to is self-titled. Suicide Songs. It's composed of songs that are are either about someone who wants to commit suicide or someone who is trying to be helpful. He's listening to a song by Joel Faviere on repeat.
He whispers along to the words, "They think you're crazy. They think you're mad. They call you stupid, worthless, tell you you're not worth it. And now you're walking back to the place you call home, but you feel so alone. The same hurtful hits, it's your darker place, in your virgin ears, the remarks they make. And if they, if they really knew, all those things that you do in your room, to hide the pain, I bet their minds would change. Yeah, I bet their minds would change. They'd change, if they knew the pain. Change. Cause I believe in these scars. Cause I believe…"
Hilderic wonders if he should be surprised that he is crying.
"This is what depression sounds like. This is what 20 percent of teens will suffer from a... They'll suffer from a depressive disorder prior to adulthood. 30 percent of teens that suffer from being seriously depressed have comorbidity, meaning they also suffer from alcoholism or other substance abuse."
Being avid fans of all things Disney, Jack and Hilderic decide to go see Frozen in Berk's movie theater; it's not a terribly long walk from their houses. The songs are fantastic, many Disney tropes are addressed throughout the film, and the plot, while rushed, is sound. Hilderic wonders why Anna is the main protagonist instead of Elsa, though, because he felt he identified more with the Snow Queen. Jack agrees with him.
"You know," starts Jack jubilantly, "I think Elsa's character, and her situation as a whole, could be a giant metaphor for coming out of the closet."
"You think so?" Hilderic pulls on Jack's arm to stop him from jaywalking since a car is coming.
"Yeah. She has to hide who she really is from her family and the kingdom—she's literally stuck in her room—and she eventually accepts herself and gains acceptance from her sister, who still loves her."
"That's really cool and—and progressive!" Now Hilderic can't stop the big, lopsided grin that takes over his face. Hilderic finds that he was moved the most by Elsa's character, especially her verse during "For The First Time In Forever." He quote what he remembers, but without singing it, "'Don't let them in, don't let them see. Be the good girl you always have to be. Conceal, don't feel. Put on a show. Make one wrong move and everyone will know.'"
Conceal, don't feel. Put on a show. Don't let them see. That really connects with Hilderic. His darkness, his—his depression, he can't let anyone know about it. He has to try to be happy even when he isn't. He has to try and feel numb in order to block out the pain. But of course, he can never tell Jack this. He can't.
"Uh-huh." Jack stops walking and turns to stare at Hilderic more closely. It's 11:00 PM, so the yellow streetlights are on and light up their faces. Hilderic looks at his best friend expectantly, still smiling. "I like your smile." A simple, honest statement.
Hilderic blushes unwillingly. "Th-Thank you." His smile turns more modest, and there is a blissful tug on the green-eyed boy's heart.
"Suicide is the third leading cause of death in teenagers. When it goes untreated… When it goes untreated, it is the primary cause of suicide in teens, where they are 12 ti—12 times more likely to attempt suicide."
Sometimes Hilderic will get unbearable headaches in the middle of the night. He suspects it is from staying up so late all the time, and it is just his body demanding that he get more rest. So Hilderic would sneak downstairs to take a pain reliever and hurry upstairs and try to sleep away the pain. It has happened so often though, that Hilderic just took the bottle of "Equaline extra strength pain relief" up to his room and hid it on his desk in between the wall, a lamp and a stack of books.
Sometimes Hilderic will feel so tired and hopeless. He'll stare at the drug facts, wondering if it would be possible to overdose, but never actually tries to. He'll count the number of red pills that remain. So far, there are 11 left. It would take more than 8 in 24 hours for there to be an overdose, so it could be just enough. But the Overdose Warning says nothing about suicide, so all the overdose could do is kill his liver.
Tonight, he has another headache; he's had it for most of the day, actually. He took a pill earlier. He's crying again, thinking: They aren't the only ones who are in pain! Who "they" are, Hilderic isn't exactly sure, but he's in distress anyway. He feels like no one would care. No one loves him. He's nothing. Worthless! Useless! Hilderic sobs.
He's thankful that Toothless is sleeping in his parents' room tonight. Recently, he moved the pill bottle from his desk to under his pillow.
His headache is torture. It still hasn't gone away. He opens the bottle in the darkness. His hands are shaking. He keeps thinking, I could do it! I could die! I just need to put them all in my mouth and swallow! It could be over! Aloud, he whispers, "No. No. Just take two. Just two at most. Don't take any more. Please don't take any more than that. You can be strong. You don't have to die tonight. Just hold off for one more night. Please. Please, hands, obey me!" After two pills are down his throat, Hilderic forces the cap on and shoves the bottle under his pillow. He's still crying, but he soon falls into a black, dreamless slumber.
"Only 30 percent of depressed teens get treatment.30!That's ah—That'sminiscule!"
It's been a tough day at school. Hilderic is exhausted, he can't focus. He just wants to sleep and never wake up. He feels so sad and alone. It's only the start of November. He doesn't know how he'll survive the rest of the year, the rest of high school.
When the sophomore finally makes it to lunch, he is the first one in the hallway. Jack comes next. The brown haired boy notices that his friend seems oddly silent. Hilderic isn't eating, and he's shaking from nerves and his struggle to stay awake. Jack sits right next to Hilderic.
"Hey, Hic," he whispers. "You okay?"
Hilderic shakes his head and collapses in Jack's arms, begging for a hug.
"You okay?" he asks again, rubbing the Haddock boy's mid back.
"I—" Hilderic breathes deeply. "I'm so tired, Jack." The boy's voice cracks.
"You're okay. You're okay. You're okay." Jack repeats this for a few minutes. Hilderic is so grateful for this moment. He's so happy. He loves Jack so much. He'll be okay. He'll be okay.
He pulls back from Jack's chest, and his best friend peers down at him hesitantly with a small smile. "You good?"
"Yeah...Yeah, thanks, Jack. I...I needed that."
"For every one suicide death in teens, there are 10 more attempts. Girls suffer from depression more often than boys, yet boys are more likely to die by suicide."
On the second floor of Hilderic's house, there is a landing that is blocked off only by a wooden banister. It looks over the front door. The ceiling in between is extremely high and there is a chandelier. It's late, past midnight. Hilderic sits with his legs in between the banister posts. There is enough space for his legs, but not his head. He lets his legs dangle. If he closes his eyes, he can pretend he is about to fall. He stares at the chandelier that hangs from above. What would it be like to hang myself?
Hilderic can't move. He wants to die so much. After sitting here for ten minutes, he gets up with shaking limbs. He could try to push himself over the banister and fall to the next floor. Would that kill him? Probably not. All it would do is wake Toothless, then his parents. And then they would know. Regretfully, Hilderic wanders back to bed.
How much more can I take?
"Teenage boys are less likely to seek help for their—for their depress—Teenage boys are less likely to seek help for their depressed feelings."
Hilderic is walking to Jack's house. They are going to study together for an algebra test, so he has his backpack with him. He's moving slowly.
A car is heading towards him. I could jump in front of that, he thinks. It would be so easy! This is a thought that has run through his head for over a year whenever he walks past a moving car. I could do it! It's coming my way. It'll only be five feet from this spot. It's coming. Hilderic's feet twitch, begging to move in front of the car, but—but Hilderic can't do it.
The car passes. The driver heedless of the turmoil occurring in the auburn haired teen's mind.
Hilderic manages to force the darkness to a different place by the time he knocks on Jack's door.
"Almost 10 percent of teen—of the teen—Almost 10 percent of the teen population has attempted suicide. 20 percent have thought about it…Almost 10 percent of the teen population has attempted suicide, and 20 percent have thought about it. Do y—?"
Hilderic stands on a chair. Above his head is the ceiling fan in his room. It's motionless, but the light is on. He has the woven leather belt around his neck again.
Hilderic ponders how he would be able to attach the free part of the strap to one of the blades. It would be easier to use the buckle, but that is around his neck. He isn't very good with knots.
WHAT AM I DOING? Hilderic isn't crying. He feels numb. So very numb. He removes the belt from his neck and steps down from the chair. He puts the brown piece of furniture back where it belongs next to his desk.
He feels so alone. He doesn't have the energy to talk to Jack.
"15 percent of teens that suffer with a depressive disorder will develop bipolar disorder. Approximately one third of depressed teens will have turned to alcohol or other substances."
"Valma, everywhere he goes, disaster happens! What am I supposed to do?"
"You don't have to yell at him all the time, Storr. Do it enough times, and he'll surely come to hate you. Do you want that?"
"Of course not! But I don't understand why he can't follow the simplest orders!"
Hilderic sits at the top of the stairs on the second floor. He can hear his parents arguing. About him. Again.
Stupid. Worthless. Useless. Nothing.
The voices of his parents are expanding.
"He's useless at the station, Valma. That's the only real career choice he has! He thinks he's gonna be an artist —painting nothing but dragons all day? Ha, good luck with that!"
"Storr, he can hear you!" Hilderic's mother yells in disbelief.
"Well, he should hear. I only want what's best for him! He says he's too scared to become a policeman, but I keep telling him: 'It's an occupational hazard!"
Hilderic gives up on eavesdropping and disappears in his room. He cuddles with Toothless while he listens to his Suicide Songs playlist.
"Approximately 50 percent—50!—50 percent of depressed teens have a family history of depression."
Calm down. Calm down. Calm down. Calm down. Calm down. Hilderic thinks it like a mantra as they move in a horizontal circle. You're okay. I'm okay. Just don't look down. Don't look down. Don't look down. Don't think about what it would be like to jump out of the seat. Or what it would be like to fall. Or what it would be like to hit the ground and have my brains splatter all around the park below. Don't think about how much I want that to happen. Look at something else—Look at Jack! Yes, look at Jack. Jack is good. Jack is my best friend. I love him. He helps chase the darkness away. Th-The ride is almost over. I can do this. Don't cry. Don't freak out. I'm fine! Don't let the others know about this stupid internal panic attack. I'm okay! Okay. We're on the ground now. Now we just have to wait a bit to get out and do something else—something fun! We'll go find some other ride that doesn't instill these bad thoughts and desires and wonderings. Finally! Okay, we're going towards the exit. And we never have to go on that stupid "Windseeker" again.
It's a crisp November Saturday right before the start of Thanksgiving Break, and for the occasion, Jack planned a trip to Cedar Point in Ohio. Pitch, Nick and Aster are home from college, and Sandy and Tiana don't have work.
Friday had been a half day for the high school students, so after everyone had met up at the Overland house, they all packed their suitcases into either Nick's brown minivan, called 'the Sleigh' to humor the Santa Claus jokes, or Pitch's black Lexus, and they were then beginning their five hour car ride adventure. It was about 10 PM when they found a motel that was about twenty minutes away from the amusement park, and the large group of friends bought three rooms. They are spending the whole day at the park and staying another night to rest up before the antagonistically long car ride back to Pennsylvania on Sunday morning.
Hilderic has had a really fun time so far. They have a goal to go on every ride in the park at least once. Aster is vexed by this decision, since the thrilling roller coasters remind the eighteen-year-old of Nick's horrible driving, but Jack makes sure to drag him along for the fun of it.
Hilderic really likes the scary coasters that make you lose your ability to breathe; tied between "maXair" and "Millennium Force", the boy has a hard time picking which thrilling ride is his favorite. Those are the rides he's gone on three separate times, and they are always a blast. Jack agrees.
It's about 1:00 in the afternoon now, and Hilderic, having just had an impromptu mental breakdown on "Windseeker," would really like a chance to sit down and eat.
"Hey, guys? Let's get a couple elephant ears or something to share—I'm starving." Hilderic's throat is still tight, so he has to force out a laugh. "There's a stand really close that way."
"Yes!" Nick shouts in excitement as he throws his fists in the air! "I vould love elephant ear very much! Good idea!" The immense male wraps a buff arm around Hilderic's shoulders, causing the smaller boy to get jostled around a bit. "Who is vith me and Hilderic?" After knowing the Russian for over a year, Hilderic has gotten used to his accent.
Tiana and Sandy both clap in delight at the thought of food. Pitch nods curtly as he studies a map of the park.
"Yeah, I'm good with that," Jack says.
"I could go for a bite, mate," mutters Aster, who seems to hover towards a trashcan every time they exit a ride, looking like he wants to vomit. "I got enough moolah on me for about three of 'em, ankle biter," the Aussie says to Hilderic. "You reckon that will be enough to feed all of us?" Hilderic nods. "Come on, then," he pats Hilderic's shoulder with a grin. "Oi, Jack! Go grab us a table!"
Jack offers a thumbs up, and everyone else follows the brown-eyed boy while Hilderic and Aster get in line for food. The line isn't bad at all; there's only one person ahead of them.
Hilderic finds the large body that suddenly crashes into him from the side to be unexpected, and he falls to the ground. Aster quickly helps Hilderic to his feet.
"Move it, ugly faggot!" the offender shouts as he pushes off the cement and hurries away from the elephant ear stand. Hilderic flinches at the insult.
"DIPSTICK!" Aster roars at the rude stranger's fleeting back. "You okay, ankle biter?" he asks as he tries to check Hilderic over for any injuries. "Hilderic?"
"Y-Ye-Yeah!" the shorter male rushes. "I'm f-fine, I promise. My hands just sting a little from the impact. I'm okay. Th-Thanks." But he's not really okay. Suddenly all those emotions from the Windseeker are back, and Hilderic is trying to take subtle deep breaths to calm down. I hate myself…
"No worries." Aster smiles, though Hilderic can still detect an undercurrent of anger from the man at what just transpired.
Hilderic finds it kind of strange with how protective the Australian is of him. Jack will often tell him that "the Easter Kangaroo just sees you as an accident prone little brother, that's all. He's like that with me, too, though far less frequently."
They bring the collection of fried dough back to their friends. Hilderic ends up splitting a whole one with Jack, which makes him feel better somewhat.
They go back on the maXair after everyone finishes eating the fattening snack; Hilderic loves the dizzy feeling he gets.
Hilderic has a great time with his friends for the rest of the day, and he is able to force the distasteful event to the back of his mind where it will soak in his inner darkness.
"I was depressed."
Hilderic feels like an idiot. It's late at night. Again. He's feeling terrible about himself. Again. He's listening to sad songs. Again. He wants to die. Again. He feels numb and worthless. Again. He's tired of living.
The high school sophomore goes on his phone and types, "suicide," into the search bar on YouTube. He scrolls. There is a four-part documentary, a Tedx Talk, strangers who have committed suicide, a "suicide forest in Japan."
There is one video on the first page that Hilderic is sure he's watched at least five times in the last two years. It's titled, "Watch if you know anyone with a suicide problem, even yourself." It's about 13 minutes long. The girl's voice with the sad music always brings him to tears.
He listens to the girl as she speaks his thoughts and actions. Despite the fact that he doesn't have a sibling, and despite the fact that he would never kill himself over petty reasons, he sobs and sobs and sobs. He's sorry. He's sorry. He is so sorry. He cries and cries and cries. But it's all done quietly. He's shaking. Crying, crying, crying. A waterfall of tears.
The video works. For now. It pushes his suicidal thoughts to a far, far corner of his mind. But just for now. Hilderic knows the dark feelings will come back in a few days. But he's exhausted. He doesn't want to be gone yet. He doesn't want to be dead yet. He knows there would be no going back. But he's still so sad. So sad and guilty. He keeps it bottled inside.
"You feel like you can't doanything about it."
On the last day of school, Hilderic, Jack, Tiana and Sandy go to see The Fault In Our Stars on opening day.
Tiana had her graduation a month ago, but she had planned to see the film with them for months. All three boys have read the book and absolutely love the story, Tiana has never had the time to sit down and read the whole thing. Sandy was smart enough to bring a couple boxes of tissues. All four of them grab a few handfuls in preparation.
Hilderic finds himself beginning to tear up during Hazel's opening monologue, but he doesn't allow them to fall yet. Jack and Hilderic release a choked laugh during all the humorous scenes involving Isaac. Right before the dreaded Gas Station Scene, Hilderic begins to bawl uncontrollably. This was, in his opinion, one of the saddest scenes in the novel, and he knew it was coming up next. He couldn't hold his sadness back anymore. He finds it hard to breathe.
A stranger somewhere behind him hisses, "Shut up!" rudely in his ear, causing the teen to cry even harder as the darkness starts to enter his mind. He tries to lessen the noise he's making, but it's impossible. He isn't the only one crying. Jack is crying. Jack grips Hilderic's hand, and comforting brown eyes make contact with green. Hilderic knows he'll be okay, they will be okay. They occasionally wipe at their eyes. The boys don't release hands until after Augustus Waters dies and more tears are shed.
That's the thing about pain. It demands to be felt.
"It's a war. No mind."
Come on, Haddock, you can do this! Be brave! Don't chicken out. It's time you finally do this. You have to do this—Jack, do it for him!
Hilderic paces the length of his room. Toothless is asleep on the teen's bed, having claimed the space as his own. It's late. Of course it is. His phone is in his hand. He stares at the picture of him and Jack, the one from seventh grade. He still hasn't had the heart to change it.
He presses the Contacts app. Begins scrolling. A…D…G…J…N…P…S…V—Back up to T. Where is it? Ah—TALK. There it is. He presses the saved contact and sees the different saved phone numbers for suicide hotlines.
He presses one at random, not really caring at this point.
The phone rings three times on his end, waiting to get through. Someone picks up.
It's a male's voice: "G'Day, mate. This is the Pennsylvania Suicide Prevention Hotline. M'name's Easter, and I'm listenin'." The man is Australian, Hilderic can tell from the accent. The voice is extremely familiar, but it just has to be because Hilderic is constantly around people with foreign accents… How many people's names involve the Easter holiday?
"Hello," Hilderic croaks out, suddenly anxious. "I—" He takes a deep breathe. "I don't really know why I'm calling now."
"You can talk to me, sir, Whatever you're doin', sir, can wait. Know that there is always, always someone out there who can talk to ya. So, talk to me. How—How old are you?
The boy whispers, "I'm sixteen…How old are you?"
"I'm nineteen myself."
"I have a friend who's nineteen; he's Australian. Are you Australian? I can hear your accent."
"Yessir, I'm an Aussie. So, what's eatin' ya?"
"Well, I-I, I've never been—been diagnosed before, officially, but I know that I have been suffering from depression and suicidal thoughts for almost t-two years now…I think that's how long I've been feeling this way. I, um, I'm gay. But—I'm not ashamed of that. At all. I'm not sad all the time because of that. I'm just…sad."
"Being gay: there is nothing wrong or unnatural about it. I'm glad you know that and—well—don't hate that part of yourself, at least. I have a few really good mates who are gay, and I fully support them."
"Yeah. Yeah," Hilderic breathes. "J-Jack—My best friend, Jack, he, uh, he's gay too. So, y'know…that helps. He helps. I love him. I-I-I, well, I'm, uh, pretty sure that if—that if it wasn't—if it wasn't for him, and my other friends too, but mostly him, Jack, I would be 6 feet under the ground by now…To put it bluntly."
"It's good that you have a kind group of mates to keep you grounded…I'm sorry, I reckon I never caught your name, sir."
"Oh yeah. Uh. It's Hilderic Henry Haddock, and, um, Jack has this nickname for me—Hiccup."
There is a pregnant pause. Hilderic wonders if the man is holding back laughter at the sound of his ridiculous name, but when he hears his name repeated back to him, it isn't coated with chuckles.
"Hil—Hilderic Henr—Haddock." The man's deep, accented voice turns gentler, even more familiar, as the voice cracks just a little. "Ankle biter, is that…is that really you?"
Easter. Not Easter, but E. Aster. I heard him wrong.
No, this isn't happening.
This can't be happening.
Of all the people to pick up his call—
"W-What are you doing here?"
"I volunteer at the local Suicide Prevention Center in the summer."
"Oh." Hilderic takes a calm, slow deep breath. "Well, I'm gonna go. Like I said, I don't really to be calling—"
"Wait, Hilderic, hold it just a—"
"I'm fine! I'll talk to you later, Aster. So, please don't tell Jack! Uh, h-hooroo. Goodb—"
Hilderic hangs up, first the phone and then his head.
"You're surrounded by every single thought you never thought you'd have."
Hilderic: Hey, um, can I talk to yo—
Hilderic: I have been feeling really depressed and suicidal for over two years now and—
Hilderic: I'm really scared. I don't know what to do help me Jack—
Hilderic: I love you—
Hilderic: You are my best friend and I want to thank you for taking my pain away. You mean so much to me. I know that if I didn't have you and our upperclassmen friends in my life, I would be 6 feet under the ground by now. So th—
Hilderic: I don't know what to say, Jack.—
Hilderic: I really want to tell you about my depression and suicidal thoughts and actions, but I'm so scared that you will hate me—
Hilderic: I'm so scared that you won't care—
Hilderic: I have been in love with you for a really long time, and I want to pretend that you could maybe fall in love with ME someday, but I know that is impossible. How could you ever love all…this?—
Hilderic: Thank you for being my friend for so long, Jack. I don't know how I could have made it this long without knowing you…and loving you—
Hilderic: WHY CAN'T I WRITE INTELLIGIBLE SENTENCES? I'M TRYING TO TELL YOU THAT I AM DEPRESSED AND SUICIDAL AND I AM FINALLY REACHING OUT TO YOU AND NOTHING WILL SOUND RIGHT. THIS IS SO FRUSTRATING!—
Hilderic: I'm giving up on this.—
Hilderic: Hi, Jack. I'm falling in love with you. I've had romantic feelings for you for years and I am way to scared of rejection and losing your wonderful friendship to ask you. I don't know how in the world you would ever find me dateable and lovable and attractive and worth anything, but if you do, please call me because I will probably end up deleting this in embarrassment so never m—
Hilderic screams and sits up in bed, staring at his phone in disbelief. "Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck. FUCK!" His hands tear through his hair. "Stupid thumb!" He starts pacing around his room, trying to take deep breathes. What am I gonna do? Jack is going to hate me now! He's never going to talk to me again! He'll never date someone as useless as me.
Hilderic: IGNORE THAT LAST MESSAGE. TOOTHLESS STOLE MY PHONE. The 4th of July heat must have driven him insane!
As soon as that message is sent, Hilderic's phone begins to ring to the tune of "Don't Stop Believin'." It's Jack. Hilderic screams, FUCK, in his head, takes the biggest breath he has ever taken, releases it, and presses Accept Call.
"J-J-Jack? Um, hi. L-Listen! Ignore th-those last two messages I sent you. I, um, I didn't mean to sen—"
"I love you, too, you goofball."
Their first official, fancy date will be in two weeks.
"Tell someone, something. It doesn't even matter if it's just a small sign. A bunch of small signs add up."
It has been a week since the accidentally sent text message and the phone call. Hilderic is still really embarrassed about it, but he's mostly glad that, one, Jack feels the same—somehow—and, two, Hilderic didn't send any of his other typed out texts. Those would be really hard to talk about on the phone.
Jack and Hilderic are at the park with Emma, whose begging succeeded in bringing Toothless along. She's petting him and hugging him and showering the dog with attention. His tail wags like a fan, which is needed considering July brings 90 degree weather.
The boys are sitting on a stiff park bench holding hands and blushing. Hilderic is really happy. Jack loves him. He doesn't think Hilderic is worthless. He says Hilderic means so much to him.
Hilderic's throat tightens and his hand unconsciously follows suit.
"Is everything alright, Hiccup?"
"Wha—Yeah. Yeah I'm—I'm good, I just—" A shuddered intake of breath. "I just—" Another. "I—"
Jack turns to fully face his best friend and love. He says gently, "Hey, hey, Hiccup, you're okay. Deep breaths, Hic. Deep breaths. You...You wanna talk about it?"
"Jack!" Hilderic rushes. "Jack, I-I need to tell you something—something really, really important. Could we—w-we—Could we talk later—alone? Please? I-I'm so scared. And sad. I'm sad all the time. And angry. And guilty. I-I don't want to hurt you by doing something really, really stupid."
Brown eyes widen in surprise. "Yeah, of course—of course, Hiccup! After we bring Emma home, I'll go with you over to your house. Your parents aren't home, right?" Hilderic nods. "Great. Great. We can talk in private there." Jack squeezes his companion's hand.
Jack doesn't know everything yet, Hilderic thinks with a meek smile caused by anxiety, but he will soon. And he'll help me. I know he will. And, maybe, I'll start to actually move forward. With him. Together. And I'll be okay. I'll get through this pain and self-hatred.
"Hilderic." Said boy is surprised that Jack is actually using his first name for once. "Do you know what your name means?" Hilderic can't remember. He shakes his head. "It means, 'a warrior.' You're a warrior, Hilderic. You're a fighter. And as long as I'm here, you are going to keep on fighting—this, this pain. And—And know this: You are alive. And I want to you to keep it that way."
"If you're reading this right now…that means you're alive.Stay that way."
A/N: ^ I mean it. ^ If you or someone you know is depressed or suicidal, in the U.S., call 1-800-273-8255, if outside of the U.S., visit www. suicide international- suicide- hotlines .html. Just take out the spaces.
You are alive. Stay that way.
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