A/N: Oh, Lord, where did this come from...um...well, the first sentence just kind of jumped into my head, and from there, I came up with the rest of the story. I've been dealing with some personal shit lately, too, so this was a really good way for me to vent. It'll probably make 0 sense to the people reading it, so if that's the case, and you hate it, well...I warned you.
It's been so long since I wrote a story in this style, too, you know? I used to have this style all the time. I think my storytelling has improved, because I am not good at telling stories like this. I'm not. My inadequacy actually hurts me xD But it's okay. It was a vent fic.
On December 24th, Hiccup became a live wire.
It had started small – sometime back in summer, but the season didn't matter, had never mattered, because despite the sweltering July heat, he'd felt cold. It was a constant feeling, the cold was; it wasn't the kind that made his skin prickle or the tiny gold-ish hairs on his body stand straight up, and he knew putting on a jacket or turning up the heat wouldn't solve anything.
This was the kind of cold that ate away at him, feasting on his bones; it was the chill that came with being invisible. Other people looked through him; his father forgot he was there until he made dinner; when his father was home, the whitewashed walls recognized no other resided there. He was gray, like a ghost. If he made a noise, nobody knew he was there. He shivered when there was no snow. Nobody noticed when he wore his winter clothing in summer. Hiccup was cold, so cold.
Hiccup wanted warmth.
The silver taps gushed water, and when he stepped beneath it, his nerve endings lit up. It was not warmth; it was not heat; it was fire, lighting him up from the inside out, scalding him. It hurt, it seared, it burned, and it felt so good. He always liked taking a long time in the bathroom – the light shining from underneath the door let his father know he was there – and this time, it was nearly impossible to force himself to step out of the tiny room. Steam filled the space, and it was suffocating and thick and he couldn't breathe until he exited the bathroom.
When he looked down at his arms, they were raw and red and burned.
He left his jacket at home that day.
His shadow was there even when he turned out the light.
Hiccup could see it, out of the corner of his eye, the outline of a boy, sitting in the darkened corner of the room, hands on his knees, watching the person he belonged to. Hiccup smiled. Somebody saw him. Somebody saw him. Maybe his shadow was there because it sensed it wasn't needed any longer. He was fading, and he was his own shadow.
He was shadow until he was burned again.
His arm lit up like a thousand scorching suns, and he was alive. His wrist seared and throbbed and hurt, but it felt so good. The skin was red and angry and raw, and he wore long sleeves in August to cover it up. He used cool water grudgingly. He used every bit of warmth he possibly could. He was not a shadow.
Nobody saw him.
He burned with secrets. He brimmed with excitement and ecstasy, and always, he told no one. He couldn't remember the last time he'd gone to sleep without the flames licking up his arms. He wore his sleeves long, and beneath the blisters throbbed like a badge. He knew just the right way to lie down, and his arm never hurt when he lay like that, and he didn't exist and nobody saw him and he burned with this secret.
This was the best thing that ever happened to him.
The leaves were turning red. They burned fiery red, and glowed ember orange and flamed bright yellow. They took Hiccup's breath away. They were like fire. And when they fell from the trees, and the wind blew bitter and frigid, and he strode the empty rooms of his empty house, he was warm. His arm burned and his heart burned right along with it. He was on fire, and he would never stop.
He turned the water completely hot every time he washed his hands. He burned them. He boiled water once without the intention of ever using it, and when it was done, he turned the stove off and put his hand in it. Pink blisters exploded up his palms, and for days afterward, it hurt to hold his pencil. Nobody noticed except his English teacher – damn her – and he told her he'd gotten it from a cooking accident. He was higher than the clouds afterward. He liked lying. He was good at it.
He learned to recognize the different kinds of burns. He knew how to treat them. He was on fire, and he would never stop.
His reflection stopped smiling before he did.
He was fine.
He had no jacket.
He was warm.
Astrid was pretty. She was beautiful. She was the color in his world. She used to light him up from the inside out with feelings he didn't even know how to describe. She spoke to him when he was putting away his books. He smiled at her because he didn't know what else to do.
She'd spoken with him about chemistry – she wasn't that good, from what he'd gathered – and then she'd reached for his arm and he'd stepped away. He knew she was confused, but there was no way to tell her the truth. His secret was his, and it belonged to him and he belonged to it. Astrid didn't light him up anymore; this did. She wasn't the color in his world; this was.
He was higher than the clouds again.
Christmas was coming. He saw wreaths appearing in shop windows, and tiny white lights blinked from the rooftops of other houses. Men in red suits and fake white beards began appearing in malls, and Hiccup smiled at them when they passed, because he had nothing and everything, and his wrists hurt every second of every day.
He was on fire. He was on top of the world. He was perfect.
Hiccup guarded his secret with his life, and it was visible on his skin. Puckered pink burn marks littered the forbidden area beneath his sleeves, and they'd been there since July. They would never fade, but that was okay. All they did was show that he was visible. That he was on fire. That he existed. That he was warm.
He liked his scars. Ghosts didn't have scars.
Astrid talked to him again. She saw his red palms. He told her it was from washing dishes.
He was beginning to wonder if it wasn't the lying he liked so much.
He remembered a time when his skin used to be pale. Now it was red, permanently red; his hand burned and he lay just right and his arms didn't hurt but he still sobbed into his sheets.
Astrid wasn't pretty anymore.
He wondered how badly it would hurt if he burned his face on purpose.
The day before Christmas Eve, Hiccup lay down in the snow.
It was eight o' clock at night, and the snow had been coming down all day and now it lay in thick glittering piles of pure white, and it was still coming down, so he stepped outside and lowered his burning body to the ground, and turning his gaze to the sky.
The sky was wide and black, and it was funny because even though it was black it was producing little white flakes. Hiccup laughed, even though nobody could hear. Everyone else was locked up safely in their houses – their warm houses…
He had no jacket. He was warm.
He could see figures moving in front of the window of the house across the street, opening presents and exchanging candies, laughing as they unwrapped gifts.
He was warm.
He wondered if anybody would notice if he went up in flames where he lay.
On December 24th, Hiccup was cold.
There was no Christmas tree in the house. There were no lights. They had no stockings or presents. He didn't know where his father had gone. It didn't matter.
He was so cold. When he took off his shirt, all he could see was pink. He left his shirt in his bedroom and paced the kitchen floor without anything covering him. He was so cold. He wondered if ghosts could feel cold.
He wondered if ghosts had fathers that abandoned them.
He wondered if he was a ghost.
The front door was still closed. When he put a hand on his torso, he touched only bare skin. He looked at the stove.
He paced a little more, and turned all the eyes on. He watched them glow orange. He wondered how hot they needed to be before they'd burn him up and send him down to hell.
He looked down at his arms. They were burned and pink and raw. When he touched the newer ones, they still hurt. They weren't hot. He pushed away from the stove and kept pacing the kitchen. He could see snow falling from the dining room window. There was still only bare skin where a shirt should be.
He turned around and slammed a hand down on the stove eye.
It burned him. It set his nerve endings alight; it ignited him; it scorched him, seared him, singed him; the eye sizzled when he pulled his hand away, and his palm pulsed, angry and red and searing. He wondered if he would die if he crawled inside the oven and shut the door.
He wondered if Santa was real.
He hoped his father would walk through that door.
He wondered how badly it would hurt.
He didn't know what to do.
He slammed his hand down. It throbbed.
He couldn't stop crying.
He wanted to lay down in the snow again.
He wanted Astrid.
He wanted fire.
There was no damn way he'd be able to hold a pencil come January.
He would never have to find the right way to lie again.