Dragon Treasure

A DreamWorks' How to Train Your Dragon fanfic by Raberba girl

Summary: Modern AU. Hiccup & Toothless have spent eight years in a cage, having nothing to live for but each other. Stoick has devoted his career to rescuing children from abusive environments, but Night Furies are a little outside his expertise. The last thing Valka expected to see when she walked into her estranged husband's house was an orphaned twelve-year-old boy and one of the rarest dragons on earth. (Rated for references to physical and sexual child abuse.)

A/N: I had included my usual "No slash" notation at first, but then realized that this fic has complications. Hopefully you know me well enough by now to know what sort of thing I would be able to write and what sort of thing I would never write. The main thing is that all the Hiccup/Toothless in this fic is platonic.

Chapter 1 - Performance (rough draft)

Stoick Vast, after years of hard work and faithful service, had become the head of his department. It was what he'd always hoped for, but the downside was that his job now seemed to mostly consist of endless paperwork, phone calls, and meetings. He was a physically active man and missed fieldwork, where he had a more fulfilling sense of actually getting things done and having a real purpose.

Not only was the desk job too distant, but he also didn't want to miss sight of his subordinates' perspectives and challenges. The last thing Stoick wanted was to become responsible for the very same sort of red tape that had so frustrated him earlier in his career.

That was why Stoick still did fieldwork sometimes. That was why he was in a circus tent on a muggy Friday night, surrounded by a vulgar, yelling, dirty crowd, watching a scantily clad and probably underage young woman putting on a performance that bore very little resemblance to any mainstream circus act.

The crowd bellowed in gleeful delight at the close of the performance, and the tattooed ringmaster swept back into the spotlight. "That was our beautiful Heavenly Sasheena! Give her another round, gentlemen!"

More bills and coins showered the perimeter of the ring, accompanied by another wave of cheers and applause.

The ringmaster bowed out of the spotlight, seamlessly replaced by another. The two men appeared to be partners, switching off between the lewd acts and the more circus-like acts. "And NOW! I present to you our prized wonder from the deepest reaches of the Sahara! The most deadly and elusive dragon known to man: the Night Fury! No one has ever laid eyes on the beast and lived to tell the tale - UNTIL NOW!" The second ringmaster seemingly vanished, and the ring went dark.

A moment later, a harsh beam of light snapped on, illuminating the small figure who was being slowly lowered through the air. It was a girl with long blonde hair, dressed in a flimsy white dress, dangling from a pair of chains that bound her wrists. Stoick's breath came short, and his hands clenched as he heard the crowd react with glee rather than anything near the disgust and worry he felt. Even if this was all an act, the girl looked so young and small and vulnerable...and hadn't the ringmaster said something about a dragon?

The girl's feet touched one of the middle platforms. For a long moment, she slumped there seemingly unconscious, and an anticipatory hush fell over the crowd.

Then, from beyond the beam of light, came a growl. Stoick's breath caught again when he glimpsed a predator's eyes in the darkness.

The virgin sacrifice stirred, and the noise of the crowd started up again. The girl groaned, shakily found her footing, and tugged at the chains that bound her.

There was another growl.

The light in the ring began to shift, the harsh beam slowly fading away as softer lights gradually illuminated the interior of the tent. A large, black, winged shape was now visible in the shadows, green eyes fixed on its prey.

The helpless girl saw it, too. She shrieked and jerked back, the chains preventing her from moving far. The crowd was yelling with excitement now, and the only reason Stoick hadn't charged down into the ring was that the girl's continued screams sounded more like a child shouting on a playground than cries of true terror.

Still, it made Stoick sick to watch. The dragon expelled a blast of fire that exploded nearly at the girl's feet as she struggled wildly and screamed for help. Then the beast launched itself at her with claws outstretched.

The girl jerked to the side just in time. The animal barely missed her, staggered to a landing on the other side of the platforms, and shook its head in surprise before growling and turning back for a second attempt.

To Stoick's relief, the girl finally managed to yank one of her arms free. The other arm was still bound, and even her free arm still had a length of chain attached to it, but perhaps this was more of an advantage than not. When the dragon leaped at her again, the girl let out a savage yell and snapped the broken chain at it like a whip.

From then on, Stoick was able to relax a little, as the performance aspect became more apparent. The girl transformed from helpless victim to vengeful warrior, breaking free of the second chain and battling the dragon in earnest. There was a bad moment when the dragon pounced and pinned her under its claws, lowering its head to start mauling her, but somehow she managed to throw it off.

Stoick became uneasy again when he saw the girl's skin and dress, as well as the dragon's scales, become streaked with something bright red, but he kept telling himself that surely it wasn't real blood. If nothing else, the dragon and its handler were valuable resources; whoever ran the circus wouldn't want either of them to get damaged during a performance, right?

The 'blood'-stained girl, her hair now in artful disarray and her dress starting to fall off one shoulder, had beaten the dragon into whimpering submission. After placing her foot on the dragon's neck and making a dominant pose for a moment, the girl stepped back and began to bark out commands. The dragon submissively obeyed each one, performing tricks until it finally ended with a deep bow.

The former virgin sacrifice leaped astride the dragon's back, cried out triumphantly as the animal shot one last blast of fire into the air, then made a couple of circuits of the ring, waving, before exiting with her winged beast.

Honestly, Stoick was impressed. He would have preferred a less...fetishistic expression of her skills, but it was still amazing that anyone could have such control over a dragon, a Night Fury, of all things. He was sure that Valka could have done it, but he could imagine no one else who'd be able to forge such a powerful connection with a giant fire-breathing lizard.

Stoick waited impatiently through the finale, eyes mostly on the dragon tamer and her beast when they came out with the other performers. Then, at long last, was the confusion and chaos of the crowd exiting the tent.

Stoick made his way to the backstage area, where performers (mostly adult males, he noted) were laughing and drinking together. He noticed flashes of sparkle and color and female voices through a doorway under a sign that read 'Harem.' The tattooed ringmaster was standing under the sign accepting admission fees, and Stoick started heading in that direction, but then he passed a large cage and forgot to keep walking.

The dragon was inside, and so was a human. It was a boy, about twelve years old, with ragged auburn hair and pale skin covered with freckles and scars. He was barely clothed, and had streaks of what was now obviously dried red paint peeling away from his skin. The white virgin sacrifice dress lay discarded outside the cage, in a pile with the blonde wig, the chains, and what must have been a set of false breasts. The boy and dragon were interacting with playful affection, the dragon nuzzling and licking and gently pawing at the boy, who laughed and petted and praised the creature.

Stoick observed all this in a single moment, for in the next moment, the dragon fixed its eyes on Stoick, pupils contracting in a way that instantly transformed its expression from loving and cute to alert and dangerous. It took the boy a beat longer to react, but then he noticed Stoick as well, and scrambled to his feet with a wary expression and a hand grasping the dragon's shoulder. All the unguarded affection had evaporated, though a bond seemed to remain between boy and beast.

"You're the virgin sacrifice," Stoick blurted out.

"Makes for a better show," the boy said tonelessly.

Stoick frowned at the cage, suddenly realizing that it was locked. Even though the boy was inside. With the dragon. "Do you have the key to this?" Stoick asked. He took the opportunity to step closer and surreptitiously plant a micro-camera on the cage.

"Do you?"

The larger ringmaster came sweeping up before Stoick could reply. He was one of the only men Stoick had ever seen who was as tall and bulky as Stoick himself was, though the man otherwise looked different, with long black hair and cold eyes set deep in a scarred, craggy face. "That one's not available," the ringmaster snapped, "unless you're willing to go through the dragon to get to him."

"The dragon?" Stoick fumbled, trying to figure out if the man was implying what Stoick thought he was. The dragon in question was now growling at the ringmaster, until its young handler murmured something to it.

"He'd be expensive, anyway. You think I have anyone else who can handle this beast? You think you can pay enough to make it worth my while?" The man then listed an astonishingly high price, an amount virtually no one would pay.

As Stoick was still gaping, caught off-guard by how...well, by how easy this job apparently was, since the tip they'd received had pretty much now been confirmed, the ringmaster grinned. "That's what I thought. Of course, there's always the harem - we've got one or two who'll probably suit your tastes." He named the admission fee, which was a much more typical amount. Stoick felt sick at the offer's implication.

He finally gathered enough of his wits back together, pretending to be tipsy as he fumbled for his wallet. "That's...that's, er...I didn't know it'd be that much," he whined. "I don't think I-"

"Get out," the ringmaster snapped, his expression changing to one of disgust. "Leave, before I have the dragon chase you out."

Stoick started to shuffle away, stealing a glance at the dragon handler in the cage as he did. The boy was pale and tense but otherwise composed, his hand still clutching the beast. The dragon was pressed close, its whole body and tail curving around the boy in a protective arc, altering between a worried look at the boy, a suspicious glance at Stoick, and a glare of sheer hatred at the ringmaster.

'Just hold on for a few more days,' Stoick thought sadly. 'We're coming for you. I promise.'

o.o.o.o.o

Fortunately, one of the other agents had made it close to the 'harem,' as well as the central backstage area; another had gotten a camera planted on the ring. Between the four feeds, the department was able to monitor much of went on at the alleged 'circus,' piecing together the daily lives of its inhabitants.

There were six females total, two of them likely underage. There were three male minors, including the dragon handler. It took nearly a week of surveillance before there was enough collected evidence to indicate that, along with two of the adult women and one man, four of the five underage performers were also apparently doubling as sex workers.

The fifth minor was the dragon handler, who spent every moment caged right alongside his animal except during rehearsals and some training, performance prep, and the next performance itself. The boy's long hours in the cage were spent in constant interaction with his dragon. When they weren't sleeping curled up together or sharing the buckets of fish that were tossed in to them at mealtimes, they were often either playing or training.

Sometimes they would play like animals, pouncing at each other and wrestling and growling and snapping. It looked awful, but the boy never seemed to get hurt, and he was often laughing as he teased and grappled with the deadly beast. (Said deadliness was eroded a bit by the boy's name for the creature, which sounded a lot like "Toothless.")

Other times, the boy would work on training his animal, either with verbal commands or equivalent hand signals. When morsels of food weren't available as rewards, the dragon seemed happy to obey commands in exchange for permission to lick or nuzzle its handler instead - 'kisses,' as the boy called them. In addition to various tricks, the dragon also altered its behavior on command, acting aggressively protective or harmlessly friendly depending on its handler's orders.

All this was what the boy taught on his own initiative. His training outside the cage was a different story - the larger ringmaster would loom over him and shout at him, agitate the dragon, and sometimes strike the boy with a rod or a whip. No medical care was given; the only treatment the boy received for his wounds was after he was thrown back into the cage, when his dragon companion would curl around him and lick away the blood.

The CWD now had sufficient evidence of crimes being committed against all five children. It was time for a raid.

To be continued...

Author's Notes: I tried to look up whether the video footage recorded in the circus would count as legally- or illegally-obtained evidence, but my findings were inconclusive. *sweatdrop*

This is one of the many random story ideas that came to me at work. It was an image of Stoick as some kind of social worker or law enforcement officer who hears reports about a disreputable circus, goes to investigate, is surprised to find how affectionate HiccTooth are with each other backstage when they'd so recently acted very differently onstage, finds out that they're both being abused, and rescues them. I didn't think I could actually write it, so I just filed it away in my "Ideas" document, but after a few months it returned to me as a more coherent story. I still thought I shouldn't bother trying to write it, because it tackles so many subjects that I have no firsthand experience with, but I finally decided to just suck it up and write it anyway and research as best I could. I had to do a lot more research than usual. *sweatdrop*

There are probably still errors, and feel free to correct me on anything, but in some cases I'll fall back on the excuse that this AU is a non-specific society that might have different laws and regulations than mine or yours. *sweatdrop*

This fanfic's rough draft is complete, so you can expect regular updates. It's ten chapters total (including the epilogue).

This is the first true multi-chaptered story I've diligently worked on and finished since Little Wind, which I drafted in the fall of 2011, and Christmas at the Castle, which I drafted in summer 2011. The multi-part stories I've posted in the meantime don't feel like multi-chapters to me, because they're either overgrown one-shots or written in standalone installments.

I wrote this story from start to finish in about 12 days, which, for me, is a rare case of sustained productivity...