Eret, son of Eret, hasn't been acquainted with Hiccup long enough to recognize that the young chief of Berk's conduct has changed. Eret does, however, identify the toll that grief can take on a young man's spirit. Hiccup is friendly towards Eret upon his arrival, albeit a bit wary. Rightfully so, too, Eret mulls. He has been granted his second chance to assume the position of both a rider and a defender of Berk. Only months ago, Eret had the young leader as a temporary intruder on his ship, every kind of sharp weapon aimed at his chest, though Hiccup seemed undaunted by the situation.

The nest that Skullcrusher has prepared for himself, located outside the village, rustles occasionally as the Rumblehorn cozies itself. Skullcrusher takes kindly to Eret but he's still in the process of accepting his full and utmost loyalty so he doesn't sleep in the same home as Eret just yet.

"He likes you," Hiccup comments, a bright smile illuminating his features. "I think you might remind him of my dad."

"Really?" Eret implores, dubiously. "Do I remind you of Stoick the Vast?

"No way," Hiccup snorts, wrinkling his nose in disgust. Eret knows Hiccup is joking but he still sternly shoves him aside when he makes his way towards Skullcrusher's coiled form, nestled comfortably in a patch of sticks and shrubbery. Hiccup had suggested they find a cave—the more fitting destination for a dragon— for Skullcrusher to reside in but he figures just this night, a nest will suffice.

"I mean, hey," Hiccup continues, concerned that his quip might've instilled legitimate insecurities, "If he can put up with you, then that's good enough for me."

Eret rolls his eyes. He strokes the patch of rough skin behind Skullcrusher's ears and sure enough he begins to grunt and purr softly in appreciation. "You're rather tactless," Eret jeers, lips curling into a perceptive smirk "are you aware?"

Hiccup folds his arms across his chest. This type banter is common between them. Eret has never had a younger brother before but he imagines this is what it would feel like. Though, perhaps 'brotherly' wasn't the right term to describe their unconventional friendship.

"Oh please," Hiccup replies. "Tact is for people who are afraid of speaking their minds. And for people who are, admittedly, not very good at putting things so…eloquently. Like me. Yes, I kind of agree with you for once, actually. I don't have a lot of tact."

Eret turns to meet Hiccup's gaze. He chuckles and shakes his head at the flustered Viking. Hiccup scratches the back of his head and smiles docilely. Eret has taken a liking towards the boy, that much is certain.

Eret recalls his own father whenever the silence persists during empty nights like these. He doesn't know which is worse; losing a mother or father at a young age, unable to develop a relationship through the rough patches of young adulthood, or fully obtaining a long-lived bond and then having it snatched from your life all at once. Both selections are agonizing, he thinks. Eret was a mere child when his father grew ill and passed away quietly in his sleep. He loved his father, as natural order deliberated, but there was so much the two should have shared and Eret had so many questions that would remain unanswered.

When the two leave to hurry back to the settlement for dinner, Hiccup's eyes fixate on Skullcrusher's formidable mass. It must hurt, Eret thinks, to have a constant reminder of his father's legacy surround him on a daily basis. Of course, Hiccup would never admit to his father's dragon having any negative bearing on his welfare.

The sullen glance lasts longer than Eret would've expected. So long in fact, that Eret was tempted to ask Hiccup if he would like a moment alone but Hiccup diverts his glance, offers Eret a watery smile, and dashes along the path.

It isn't terribly often the two will share an evening of drinking together. Hiccup spends most of his days taking care of the village and more recently, concocting a plan to ensure that food is stored properly before winter arrives.

Currently, the two are seated in the dining hall, sipping goblets filled to the brim with mead. Hiccup is narrating a fond memory of his father and his story is accompanied with drunken, wild hand gestures and that awkward slump his shoulders make. Eret tries to ignore how wide Hiccup's shoulder blades are for his otherwise lissome frame.

"I was a stupid kid and I mean, maybe I still am."

Toothless shoves his muzzle into Hiccup's side, a forthcoming gesture that implies he thinks his rider is giving himself too much credit.

"Okay fine," Hiccup mumbles, shooting Toothless a frown before he continues, "I definitely still am."

"Give yourself some credit," Eret teases, "chief of Berk, you may be new to all of this but your keenness makes up for what great deal of experience you lack."

"Gee," Hiccup retaliates, "Tell me how you really feel."

"I feel that I've never given you my proper condolences." Eret admits. "My father died when I was quite young. Younger than you, even."

Hiccup raises an eyebrow. "How young are we talking here?"

"Nine," Eret divulges.

"Ouch," Hiccup mutters. He shifts uncomfortably in his seat. Eret doubts Hiccup has opened up to anyone about these matters as of late.

"I behaved a lot like you did when my father died," Eret continues. "Haughty, moody, stubborn, unwilling to follow orders…"

"Okay, first of all," Hiccup protests, sitting upright in his chair, "You're only what, five years older than me?"

Hiccup points a reproving index finger at Eret. Eret stifles his laughter. He doesn't doubt that Hiccup has an unyielding and authoritative side to him—the side he's sure was passed down from Stoick—but his drunken upheaval doesn't do him any justice.

"Secondly," Hiccup scolds," You're always haughty, moody stubborn and unwilling to follow orders and I'm sure those traits were ascribed to you since the day you were born."

Hiccup's accusing finger hangs in midair as he pauses to take a gracious gulp of mead. A tiny sliver of the sweet drink trickles out of the corner of his mouth. Eret follows the drip with his eyes. The trail ebbs down the young man's chin and then makes it's way down his pale, freckled neck. When Eret gulps, he feels a knot twisting in the back of his throat.

"As I was saying," Hiccup commences," You are all of those things and I am not. That was the initial point I was trying to make. Although I don't know why I was trying to make it in the first place. I forgot why I got mad. Oops."

Hiccup giggles and stuffs his fist in his mouth in order to still his uncharacteristically childish glee. Eret's face is etched in sheer amusement.

"I think you've had more than enough to drink tonight," Eret reprimands. Not many Viking leaders are reduced to this altitude of inane giggle fits. But Hiccup isn't like most Viking leaders.

Eret moves to Hiccup's side of the table and offers to help him up.

"I'm fine," he says. Hiccup stumbles and falls backwards. Toothless attempts to nudge him forward, hoping that Eret will catch his fall.

"Whoa!" Eret laughs as Hiccup's body collapses into his. "Not as tough as you think you are."

"Oh shut up," Hiccup grumbles, grasping at Eret's biceps to hoist himself upright. It proves to be a painfully awkward moment because Hiccup is clutching Eret's arms and he's pressed firmly against Eret's strapping torso. Eret doesn't particularly dislike the lanky build squashed against his. Hiccup is warm and his hair smells like sweat and for some reasons, peaches. Who knew, with this boy.

Hiccup must've sensed that their proximity was prolonged for quite some time because he clears his throat. Toothlesss watches Eret apprehensively, eyes narrowing into tiny slits, not out of concern, but out of curiosity.

"I think I'm okay now," Hiccup mumbles.

"Right," Eret agrees.

Toothless allows Hiccup to lean on his weight. The boy and his Night Fury exit the dining hall. Eret sits down, sighs, and buries his head in his folded arms.

The two never discuss that night. Eret prays that Hiccup thinks nothing of it. A few days later, Eret makes his way towards the plaza, where Hiccup's home is located. He carries a crate filled with newly sharpened tools. Hiccup asked to look at them before they were placed in stock, so he could agree that they were up to par. Eret didn't see the point in being so meticulous but he knows better than to argue.

He saunters his way down the route, greeting townsfolk on the way. "Good morning, Ruffnut," he greets. Ruffnut is seated idly on a log, lacing up her boots.

"Ech. Been there, done that, over it," she drones, rolling her eyes.

Eret knows she's referring to the one-time-romp they had a while back, but he isn't at all staggered to see that she's misread his intentions. When Eret reaches his destination, he gently places the crate at Hiccup's front door. There's a sudden holler coming from inside.

He can't make out what's being said but the voice belongs to Hiccup. Another voice pipes up—Valka's—and then finally the sound of stomping feet. Hiccup exits the front door, slamming it as loudly as he can, then scurries off, without acknowledging Eret's presence. Eret only sees Hiccup's face for a split second and the young chief is livid. He watches Hiccup disappear into the horizon, craving the audacity to call after him.

"Wow." Hiccup remarks, a little breathlessly. "Not bad for an amateur."

Hiccup leans against Toothless, the look on his face a bit too smug for Eret's liking. Eret manages a steady landing and he and Skullcrusher emit a whirlwind of dust when their masses hit the ground. It's true that Eret is new to the ways of a rider, but he feels Hiccup's comment was unwarranted.

"Give me some time," Eret teases, pompously, "and I'll surpass you."

He removes his helmet and it hits the ground with a thud. "Doubtful," Hiccup derises."But I appreciate your keenness. It makes up for your lack of experience."

Hiccup looks immensely pleased with himself. Eret wonders whether he admires Hiccup's tenacity or if it makes his blood boil to be outwitted by a man not nearly as bodily intimidating as himself. The way he speaks sometimes, you would've thought Hiccup was the same sizable combatant his father once was. "I've completed most of your obstacles." Eet claims, stepping forward.

"Yes, you have," Hiccup chirrups.

"So what does it take to earn the approval from the chief of Berk?"

"Can you jump off your dragon in midair and freefall without dying?"


"Well, then, there you go," Hiccup vexes, placing his hands on his hips. Toothless snickers alongside his rider, wings furling in satisfaction. Eret inches closer toward Hiccup until they're toe to toe. Hiccup stands his ground, chest puffed out, head held high. He's still smiling despite the fact that Eret's body is soaring over his.

Hiccup's ascendancy wavers a bit when Eret sizes him up and drinks him in. Eret's eyes focus on Hiccup's metal peg leg; they then make their up his lean torso, armor clad chest, and then back to his fair features. Eret is fortunate that Hiccup can't hear his heart pounding furiously against his ribcage.

"Uh, just some friendly competition, Hiccup promises nervously, "Can I help you with something else or..?"

"No need," Eret answers, backing away slowly, smirking. "I think I ought to give consideration to your challenge."

He adjusts Skullcrusher's saddle before embarking on his return to the village. He wants to savor this moment. He chooses not to look back to see Hiccup's reaction.

The dining hall is empty around this late hour but Eret has been working by the docks for a majority of the day and he hasn't had a chance to help himself to a proper meal. He's startled when Hiccup emerges from the entrance, scuttling past him before he has the chance to say hello.

When he grabs a fresh bowl of porridge, he notices Valka sitting at a table, gazing at nothing or no one in particular, chin resting glumly in her palm. "Good evening, Valka," he address her, warmly.

Valka snaps out of whatever thoughts consume her solemn state of mind and she says, "Yes, Eret, of course, it's nice to see you. Come, sit down," she motions to the empty bench adjacent to hers.

"I'm sorry if I seem out of sorts," Valka explains, offering a kind yet pained smile, "I'm afraid my son is rather disturbed lately."

Eret nods. More or less, this was Valka's polite way of saying her son was acting like a hormonal wreck.

"No need to elaborate, I figure I already know what ails the boy."

Valka laughs gently, her voice light and airless. "You speak as though you're twice his age."

She shakes her head and adds, "Yes, he handled my husband's death with such grace and I suppose after Berk quieted down, that's when he had time to truly process what had happened."

Valka pokes at the food on her dish absentmindedly and explains, "When there's quiet, there's room to feel. As long as you keep yourself occupied, so long as there's no strife to distract you, there's always room to feel. I would know, I've lived twenty years in silence."

Eret remembers the night they spent together when Hiccup stopped to stare at his father's former dragon.

"You put it so eloquently." Eret contemplates. " I wasn't too different from Hiccup when my father died."

"I'm terribly sorry for your loss," Valka confides. It's a response Eret has heard far too many times but it sounds sincere coming from Valka.

"No worries," Eret assures, "I didn't have the weight of the world on my shoulders like he does."

"Aye," Valka sighs, "That he does."

It's becoming increasingly difficult to focus with Hiccup nearby. There's an unresolved tension permeating the air when the two are in one another's company: tension thick enough to be cut with an axe. Neither of the two is exceptionally gifted in the art of communication.

Hiccup isn't hostile. He is, however, quick to remove himself from conflict. Valka had explained later on in their exchange that Hiccup was offered the role as chief before the battle of the Bewilderbeasts took place. Hiccup hadn't uttered a word, to his father. Instead, he ran away, in the most literal sense, and spent the remainder of his day on a remote island.

Valka lamented that her son keeps pushing people away and it isn't like him at all. He has fought with Valka numerous times and he's argued with his girlfriend, Astrid, the blonde rider. Astrid would've made a fine suitor, Valka had divulged, but now she's not sure of the young couple were even speaking to one another anymore. In fact, no one knew of the current affair of their relationship.

Eret is beginning to understand Hiccup's nature but strangely enough, it doesn't dissuade his fascination.

Hiccup starts to confide in Eret when it comes to his authoritative duties. Eret doesn't imagine his advice can be that novel but Hiccup certainly thinks otherwise. Recently, Eret explained that the onset of winter was making it difficult to harvest crops, thus resulting in the current food shortage and the solution was simple: just assemble a group of dragons to capture fish and that should suffice for the time being.

("I'm terrible at my job," Hiccup had wailed, "Why didn't I think of that?"
Eret pat him clumsily on the shoulder.)

Now, there was a knock on his door. He opens the front door of his crowded hut to see Hiccup grinning madly, his eyes ample with anticipation and Eret is sure he's bouncing up and down just ever so faintly, like a toddler.

In his arms, he holds thick folds of woven cloth and leather. "Guess what?" Hiccup twitters, brushing past Eret and forcing himself inside.

Skullcrusher is taking a nap by the fireplace (he finally warmed up to Eret and is now taking up far too much space in their tiny home) and the sudden racket of scampering footsteps and the slam of a door displeases him. The Rumblehorn grumbles in aggravation.

"You've grown that extra three inches you've been hoping for?"

"Frankly," Hiccup shoots back, "I could live without your snide remarks. But, I'm in a good mood today so I'll let it slide."

Hiccup drops the materials in his arms atop Eret's table and he smoothens them out, arranging them so they line up just right. "You barged into my home to show me that you're making new clothes?" Eret inquires. "I'm fascinated, tell me more."

"No," Hiccup corrects him, holding up a lean cut of leather by the corners, "I'm making you a suit."


"Oh," Eret says again, smacked with realization. " A suit for flying. I didn't think you'd go through with supporting that notion. Honestly, I was bluffing at the time."

"Oh, I knew you were bluffing," Hiccup goads. "There's no way you could outdo the dragon master."

Eret's eyes roll far up into his skull.

"On the other hand," Hiccup adds," Berk could use more fearless, free falling dragon riders so I took it upon myself to—" he hoists up the fabric and chucks it at Eret, who catches it with ease—" decide that I shall take you under my wing and show you the wonders of my expertise."

Hiccup then reaches into the compartment of his glove and pulls out a collection of pins between his fingertips. "Hold still," Hiccup orders. "Lift your arms up. Yeah like that, good."

Hiccup offers Eret a toothy grin and says, "I don't have any exact measurements so I just used whatever fits me and I kind of doubled the length, by a lot, because you're, you know…"

"Tall, strong, burly, muscular, and dangerously handsome?"

"Yeah, yeah, whatever. Taller and bigger than me, yes."

Hiccup pays no heed to Eret's triumphant, cocky smile. He wraps the comically large hide of leather around Eret's bulky arms, his chest, and his thighs, securing the material snugly with the pins.

"I think I have an idea of how wide it needs to be," Hiccup says.

"You're quite the innovator," Eret compliments.

"Thanks. You know me, not a lot of brawn but plenty of brains. For the most part."

Hiccup steps a few paces backward in order to survey his measurements. "In addition to the leather that's there to protect you from the cold, I'm jotting down some sketches so I can figure out how I'm going to fit the wing on your back."

After Hiccup deducts that he'll know where to go from there, he begins unwrapping the leather from Eret's stature, glowing with enthusiasm.

"This is awfully thoughtful of you," Eret jives. "Have I done anything to warrant this generosity? Or am I growing on you sooner than you would've thought?"

The corners of his lips curl upward, more deviously than he intended. Hiccup unfolds the final layer of leather from Eret's arm and slings it over his shoulder. His focus shifts to the smarmy, physically arresting man towering over him. Eret is pleased to see the younger rider is blushing. His cheeks are colored with bashful hues of red and pink, his lips taut.

"Like I said," Hiccup falters, "I just want to share my knowledge with someone else."

Without thinking, Eret places a firm hand on Hiccup's bony shoulder and says, "Thank you."

"Um, You're welcome," Hiccup replies.

Eret notices Hiccup's bangs are too messy for his inclination, so he reaches to touch the tangled mess of locks, hoping to brush them from his eyes. Eret pauses, realizing what he's about to do, and a stark chill of mortification travels through his bloodstream, rendering him clammy and disarrayed. He must look incredibly stupid standing there, stunted, his hand raised in the air while he tries to figure out an excuse for bringing his gestures so closely to Hiccup's face.

"You have something in your hair," Eret lies.

"I, uh, I'll take care of that then, I guess. Later, I mean." Hiccup says, confused, probably seeing right through Eret's blatant cover up but there's a touch of authenticity in his voice and Eret will just have to rely on that small window of faith. When Hiccup leaps out Eret's door, too excited with his latest creations to be troubled by Eret's ineptitude, Eret sits down by the fireplace to join his sleeping, horned acquaintance.

"You heard and saw nothing today," Eret exhales loudly to Skullcrusher, scratching his Rumblehorn's neck. Skullcrush growls and Eret doesn't understand whatever language Dragons speak but he's sure whatever's been said is pretty judgmental.

"Perhaps you could speak with him?"" Valka pleaded earlier today. "He looks up to you."

Valka had fought with her son and Hiccup stormed off to what she suggested was the arena. The arena was only busy during the day for dragon training. Eret groans as he makes his way towards the monumental dome. He had a soft spot for mothers and he's confident they're all aware, especially Valka.

The gate to the dome's entrance is wide open. Hiccup is pacing angrily around a crate of tools, aided by his Night Fury. Toothless follows his trail, attempting to console him by nuzzling his face into the crook of his owner's neck. The dragon's efforts are fruitless, so the discouraged being sulks, curls up at Hiccup's side, and proceeds to survey his anguished friend.

"Wait here, boy," Eret whispers to Skullcrusher. His dragon obeys, seating himself steadily on his haunches as Eret makes his presence known. Eret slips through the gate just as Hiccup picks up a dagger and throws in furiously at the closest target. He manages to miss the target and the dagger hits the wall meters away.

"You have terrible aim," Eret says, lengthening his palm towards Toothless. Toothless's anxious disposition calms. Eret isn't quick enough to yank his hand away in time. The Night Fury's tongue darts forward to courteously lick his hand. Eret grimaces and he tightened his mouth as Toothless unleashes a slimy, wet greeting kiss on his skin. He's in a forgiving mood so he forces Toothless a grateful smile.

"Another jab at my less than imposing performance," Hiccup snaps, "Thank you. Just what I need."

Eret yields, elevating his hands in jest and says, "I come on peaceful terms."

Hiccup rolls his eyes and heaves an exasperated breath. "I'm guessing my mother sent you."

"What makes you say that?"

Hiccup pivots angrily, crossing his arms against his chest, knuckles white, squeezed in a firm, defiant grip, and nostrils flared. Hiccup's rigid and guarded posture indicates that he is a wild, wounded dragon, best approached with caution.

He is fuming and Eret has never seen Hiccup so irate during the course of their alliance. The younger man's eyes are bloodshot and they're paired with weary, darkened and circular bags that reveal lack of proper rest. Hiccup must've been crying earlier, from the looks of it, but Eret is already facing apprehension so he ignores further observation.

"Well," Hiccup begins, his brows wrinkling and undulating, the sneer curling at the crease of his mouth, "I've lived twenty years without a mother but I'm pretty sure I know how mothers work by now."

Eret arches an eyebrow in disbelief. "I'm sure you could treat your mother with a bit more respect. She's worried about you."

"Oh," Hiccup dotes, sarcastically, "You're absolutely right! You go on ahead and do exactly what my mother is expecting. Here—" Hiccup rushes furiously towards Eret and yanks his arm. Eret stumbles but manages to sustain his balance.

"Come closer, let me cry on your shoulder. You can talk me out of my tantrum, give me some heartwarming advice, and we can go home, arms linked, side by side, like the great pals that we are, as if nothing happened and everything is just peachy."

Eret retches from Hiccup's grip, twisting his arm free, scowling incredulity.

"I've barely uttered a word and look at you, you're acting like—" Eret shakes his head "- a brat. It's not very becoming for someone like you."

"Oh," Hiccup snarls, balling his fists, "don't start."

"I didn't come here to argue," Eret exclaims, "Can you calm down and at least tell me what you're so upset about?"

Hiccup turns his head to the side, indifferently. "It's none of your business," he answers.

"Unbelievable," Eret scoffs. He rubs his temple and dedicates a moment to serious contemplation; should he just leave? There doesn't seem to be much point in reasoning with Hiccup while he's in this state. Eret was well informed by both his parents and even Astrid that Hiccup is a persistent one, but gods have mercy. He looks to Toothless, who has enveloped his wings around his body to shield himself from the outburst.

"Hiccup," Eret tries again, relaxing his shoulders, "I'm your friend. I can see your hurting and after all you've done for me, let me at least help you."

Hiccup's features soften from those words and there's a lovely twinkle in his irises, as though he's too drained to smile with his mouth so his eyes are smiling for him. The fondness resonates as he continues to speak.

"It's stupid family stuff and I don't want to get anyone else involved in it," Hiccup mutters. He's guarded himself again, not just physically—with his arms not hugging his torso—but emotionally as well.

"Fine," Eret hisses, "But it seems to me that your solution to everything is to ensure that no one gets involved and that doesn't seem to be working in your favor."

"What are you taking about?" Hiccup sneers, any lasting vulnerability now evaporating from his demeanor.

"You know exactly what I'm talking about," Eret states. He straightens his posture, unabashed, staring Hiccup in the eye.

Eret wants to verbalize the significance of the bond they've been forming but Eret allows room for silence. He permits Hiccup the chance to assert himself. Hiccup merely shrugs and says, "I don't know."

There's an uneasy lurch in the pit of Eret's gut. Of course Hiccup knows. "I'm getting a little tired of your cowardice," Eret growls.

He's somewhat regretful of how harsh his accusations sound but he's losing his patience.

"Wh-" Hiccup's eyes widen, his jaw drops, and he sputters, "What? First I'm a brat and now I'm a coward? You're really having at it, aren't you? Go on, get it out of your system."

Eret counters, "You're a coward. Every time something goes wrong, you run away. You literally run away from your problems. It's pathetic."

Hiccup's face turns to an unusual and vibrant shade of red and purple. "You-" Hiccup stutters. Eret holds his ground, waiting for Hiccup to strike back with the aptitude that's made him so renowned.

"- Would a coward do this?"

Hiccup tugs at Eret's fur collar and their bodies crush simultaneously. Hiccup molds his weight into Eret's. Eret doesn't even have an instant to blink before Hiccup gracelessly presses their lips together. Eret's body freezes and he isn't sure if he's terrified or elated but a cold sweat permeates every inch of his skin. Eret's eyes remain open and he sees Hiccup's eyes are screwed shut.

An electric jolt snaps within him when Hiccup's timid, chaste pressing of lips delves into something Eret didn't know Hiccup was capable of. He hastily shoves his tongue into the older man's mouth and Eret can sense that Hiccup doesn't quite know what he's getting himself into because his muscles stiffen for a handful of seconds and his tongue is suspended limply, unsure how to probe itself into an accurate ministration.

Eret relieves Hiccup of his diffidence by tracing his hand along the small of the boy's back and then pushing him forward until the willowy form is aligned with his as securely as can be. Hiccup releases a tiny whimper when Eret licks the roof of his mouth, his chest expanding from the strange but gratifying sensation.

Eret prays to the gods that the natural response to an enticing kiss like this doesn't take effect just yet. He's certain the boy has kissed before but he's not convinced he's experienced in any sort of deeper intimacy, let alone with a man. Hiccup delivers another diminutive gasp when Eret sucks lightly on the young leader's tongue.

Hiccup's hands hang uncertainly by his sides and he sluggishly levitates them so they rest against Eret's shoulders. Kissing Hiccup was everything he thought it would be and everything he never knew he needed. Hiccup's lips were warm and supple. His body was lean and it arched perfectly into his touches.

Hiccup's hands caress and explore the expansive, masculine shapes of Eret's attributes. His nimble fingers graze his collarbones and the thick hairs along his chest.

It takes every ounce of willpower for Eret not to picture Hiccup sprawled out hungrily across his bed. Images of Hiccup staring up at him with pleading eyes, tousled hair, and a crooked, bashful smile do not cloud his thoughts. At least they don't until Hiccup outright moans into his mouth and then suddenly Eret's livelihood shatters -like a mirror does when it hits the ground and breaks into thousands of tiny pieces- and suddenly hypothetical Hiccup in Eret's imagination is moaning around something that is certainly not Eret's mouth.

Not surprisingly, Hiccup yelps when Eret's growing arousal pokes him in the abdomen. He breaks away from the kiss, reeling backwards as if he's stepped on a snake.

"I'm sorry," Eret heaves, shamefacedly. "I'm sorry. I haven't…been close to someone like that in a while."

"I-I, uh, can't believe…I just did that. I don't know why I did that," Hiccup murmurs.

Eret's mouth is caked with dehydration so when he tries to gulp, he only swallows the thickness of the air. His voice cracks when he attempts to console his friend. "Grief, uh, has strange effects on people," he offers. He's not entirely sure if what he's saying is meant to quell Hiccup's or his own anxieties.

"Did I really just do that?" Hiccup stutters rhetorically, his erratic hand movements emphasizing his bewilderment, "Did I just kiss you? My friend…?"

Hiccup repeats, "No, no, no," in a helpless mantra, hands covering his face, shielding himself from Eret as much as possible.

"Why did I do that? What was I thinking?" Hiccup blubbers frantically.

"Stress leads people to make…unlikely choices, as well," Eret adds, weakly, feeling as though his knees could give out and his body will sink into the ground, hopefully never to resurface. "You've clearly been stressed, I assume. I mean, you won't tell me why, exactly."

"I need to go," Hiccup croaks, hobbling for his Night Fury, prodding it's side in urgent fashion. Toothless gives Eret a quizzical expression before he's hauled away and Eret returns the dragon a sorrowful glimpse that reads, "hell if I know, friend."

"Hiccup," Eret sighs, biting his lip. Nothing he can say will persuade him to stay but Eret can at least try. The sight of a frenzied, emotionally compromised Hiccup and his night fury scurrying off into the distance has become so common to Eret, it may as well be a part of his weekly regime.