Author's Note: My very first crossover fic. Please don't hate me.

EDIT 07-06-2013: Cover image drawn by the lovely miundy-foxy on Tumblr, used with permission and lots of love and appreciation :)

Disclaimer: I do not own Rise of the Guardians or How To Train Your Dragon.


Freefalling

Some called it a blessing.

Jackson Overland was one of the rare ones who received his wings when he was born.

His parents were both brunettes, so there could be no other explanation for the soft white hairs on their firstborn son's head other than the small, white and feathery appendages attached to his back.

The statistic was approximately one in ten thousand, but no one knew how or why that fraction of the world's population gained wings. Some people received them at birth, others woke up one day to find a foreign weight on their backs. Either way, the distribution was apparently random as there were no trends in gender, age, race, religion, skin color, sexuality or any other defining factors to determine who was or would be Winged.

No one knew what it meant either. Did having wings indicate that a person was fated for something in the future? Were they to be earned or bestowed by a mysterious higher power? Was it a genetic mutation that infected a select handful of the population with certain genes in their DNA?

There were countless studies dedicated to the Winged, all trying to understand what it meant, all trying to solve the mystery that had existed for as long as anyone could remember.

Jackson Overland did not know why he had grown up with wings, but it didn't matter to him.

He spent most of his time outside school having fun with his sister and the children in his town, laughing and playing games with them. Everybody knew him as the boy who always wore a cheeky grin around the children, the big brother whom every child wished he or she had, the mischievous trickster who scattered frost out of season with a brush of his pure white, feathery wings.

His mother called him her little 'snow angel'.

The other townspeople weren't so sure.

In the place where Jackson grew up, he was the first to be Winged. The strange phenomenon was not unheard of, as people who had traveled the country told stories of other Winged individuals, rare as they were. Nevertheless, there was always an atmosphere of unease, an impalpable tension in the air whenever Jackson was in the area. The adults steered clear of him, unsuccessfully persuading their curious and open-hearted children to do the same.

No one asked why Jackson never hung out with the teenagers his age, the ones whom he grew up with. No one asked why they slowly stopped talking to him over the years as they left their childhood behind, gazing at his wings less and less with wonder and excitement, more and more with jealousy and scorn. No one asked why Jackson always sat alone in his classes and rushed out the second the final bell rung, eager to return home to his little sister and to the smiling faces of the children who would beg him to perform tricks in the air.

His wings were not strong enough to support anyone other than himself, so he made sure to fly every opportunity he got, training them to be able to carry his sister one day.

Jackson Overland was not lonely. He had two loving parents, a sister who was just as playful as him and the town's children who adored him and he them.

And that was all that mattered.


Some called it a curse.

Four years after his mother died, eight year old Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III woke up one morning to find his face smothered in something that decidedly did not feel like his pillow or bed sheets.

At first his father had been proud. Three hundred years and his son was the first in their clan to be Winged, a symbol of status and power as perceived by his family. Hiccup found himself receiving the attention and respect he had always craved for: his father and Gobber listened to him when he talked, Astrid and the other kids stopped bullying him and the other villagers were much nicer to him, greeting him whenever he passed by.

Then when his wings grew big enough, they told him to fly.

Hiccup tried. He really did. But no matter how many hours he put into practice, no matter how many cuts and bruises he earned from rolling down hills and jumping off bridges, he could never get more than three feet off the ground.

He followed the studies on the Winged closely, stayed up countless nights reading up on birds and researching flight techniques, trying to figure out what was wrong with him, trying to understand why he had been blessed with wings yet cursed with the inability to fly.

Inevitably, the village's patience grew thin and Hiccup's failure began to cast a shadow over him, the weight of everyone's disappointment hanging over his head. He had been called Hiccup the Useless before his wings. After them he was known as Hiccup the Flightless. What was previously pride in his father's eyes reverted back to resigned exasperation and everyone else returned to ignoring him, dismissing him for the runt that he was.

Hiccup had expected it, but it didn't make being overlooked, being scorned and treated like a freak any better. And it wasn't for lack of trying because Hiccup wanted to fly. He wanted to make his father proud and he wanted to prove his worth to the village. He kept trying, he kept studying and he kept practicing, but eventually something had to give.

One day Hiccup started wearing shirts one size bigger and no one in his village ever saw his wings again.

Because the only thing worse than being Wingless? It was being Flightless.


Some called it chance.

Situated on an island somewhere in the North Pacific Ocean, the Sanctuary boasted large open fields and rolling hills, a paradise with abundant forests and clear rivers. There was a small settlement in its center for its inhabitants, bustling with life and movement as it grew steadily over the years.

The Sanctuary was a safe haven for the Winged, a place for those who wanted an escape or a fresh start in life, a home where they didn't have to pretend or hide. It was managed by the Winged for the Winged, and anyone seeking shelter from the world was welcomed with open arms.

Those who studied the Winged knew that there was a wide variety of wing types. Wings from the Avian class were the most common: from hawks and seagulls to sparrows and hummingbirds. There were also wings from the Arthropod class: butterflies, wasps and the like. The Mammalian class: bats and possums. Occasionally from the Marine and Amphibian class. Seldom from the Reptilian class.

Jackson was not a scholar in the field of the Winged, but if he was feeling imaginative, he would say that a certain brunet's wings resembled those of a black dragon.

Said brunet had an impressive wingspan, Jackson had to admit. His wings shone with a glint of purple in the sunlight and they had a sleek texture to them, seeming like a rough mix of scales and leather. They felt sharp and bony as they poked him in the ribs when the body they were attached to literally crashed into him when it fell from the sky.

It took a round of profuse apologies, some frantic scrambling to untangle themselves from each other, a quick check for serious injuries and a moment of awkward silence before they finally introduced themselves.

"I'm Hiccup," the brunet said before imperceptibly tensing, as if bracing himself for ridicule.

Not having the heart to tease the battered teen, he politely bit down a laugh and responded with "Jack Frost". After all, it was the name he went by for several years now.

"Like the legend?" Hiccup asked with a raised brow, his shoulders drooping slightly with relief.

Jack's smile was empty as he walked away without answering.


It took three weeks of secretly watching Hiccup injure himself trying to get off the ground before Jack decided to approach him.

"Why do you keep trying?" he asked without any greeting or move to help him, staring down flatly at the brunet's crumpled form on the ground as he struggled to his feet.

"Why do you hide?" was the response, and Jack nearly staggered backwards at the intense look in Hiccup's eyes as they focused on the bulge at the back of his blue hoodie.

Jack found himself unable to answer. He spun around and left with a hard look in his eyes, leaving Hiccup to pick himself up.


"I don't want to disappoint them anymore," Hiccup said to Jack when the white-haired teen finally sought him out again a month later.

"Who?"

"My dad. Gobber. The rest of my village."

Jack didn't ask about his mother. The look on Hiccup's face said everything he needed to know.

"I mean, what good is having wings if you can't fly?" Hiccup continued, lost in his thoughts. "At least, that's what my dad said. I want to make him proud. I want him to notice me. I want to change and stop being Hiccup the Useless or Hiccup the Flightless…" he whispered the last part so softly that Jack had to strain his ears to catch it.

"So that's why you came to the Sanctuary? To learn how to fly?"

Hiccup shrugged half-heartedly and gazed wistfully at the sky. "If I can get off the ground, maybe then he'll love me."

Jack stared at him for a long time with an inscrutable look in his eyes, not knowing what to say. In the end, he settled for shifting a little closer to Hiccup where they sat next to each other on a large boulder, gently bumping shoulders with him in a gesture of comfort.

The rest of the day passed by in companionable silence.


One day Jack went to meet Hiccup with his wings freed from the confines of his hoodie.

The brunet's eyes widened when Jack shyly unfurled them, but he didn't say anything, didn't press or ask why, and Jack was grateful for that. He did stare though, his forest green eyes filled with curiosity, and he reached forward with a tentative arm before pausing, silently asking for permission.

Jack nodded.

He remained as still as possible when Hiccup threaded his fingers through his feathery wings, trying not to shiver at the contact. It was an act of intimacy, what Hiccup was doing. In certain circles, touching between wings was a symbol of physical affection, the ritual initiated at the start of the mating process. Of course, not every Winged followed this convention.

Jack remembered his sister playing with his wings, brushing them down and smoothing out his feathers. She had once told him that it felt like running her hands through snow except that his wings were not bitingly cold, just soft and cool with a touch of frost. But now…

Now there were splashes of grey scattered everywhere like a disease, like an infection. Patches where some of the darkening feathers have turned completely black tainted the pure whiteness that had once enveloped his wings. They looked faintly like storm clouds from a distance and when he shook them, black sand fell in place of frost and snowflakes.

Pulling his hand back with a frown, Hiccup glanced at him with worry and Jack spotted traces of black grit underneath his fingernails from where he had been combing through his feathers.

"I've always wondered why there was black sand wherever you walked," Hiccup remarked, rubbing his fingers together thoughtfully. "Did you come here to save your wings?" he asked.

Jack laughed bitterly and shook his head, turning away. "There's nothing wrong with them," he said. "I can fly – I just… don't really see the point."

When Hiccup stiffened beside him, Jack suddenly remembered who he was talking to.

"Sorry," he muttered apologetically, twisting his head back to look at the brunet. "That was insensitive of me."

Hiccup's face was hard as he contemplated the white-haired teen before him. Jack shifted uneasily under his intense stare, and when he could no longer bear the heavy silence and made to leave, Hiccup blurted out "teach me how to fly."

Jack froze, unable to believe his ears. He turned around slowly to face Hiccup, who was clenching and unclenching his fists distractedly as he looked down, his black draconic wings quivering slightly.

"I mean," he continued, still unable to meet his shocked gaze. "You don't seem to have anything better to do since you look so bored most of the time. Besides, it's more fun than watching me face-plant every time I try to take off, don't you think?"

"You don't want me," Jack insisted. "I – I don't know if I can –"

"Jack."

Hiccup finally lifted his head to pin him with the most sincere look he had ever seen. His hands were steady.

"I believe in you," he said seriously, and Jack knew that he meant it.

Stunned speechless, he smiled - truly smiled - for the first time in years, a hint of playfulness returning to his ice blue eyes.


They started on the ground with the basics. Jack showed Hiccup tips on how to angle his wings, how to determine when to stretch them and how to catch the right wind. The white-haired teen seemed to be able to sense whenever there was a particularly strong gust on its way, and he would quickly retract his own wings while laughing at his companion when it sent him tumbling backwards if he had his wings out. Needless to say, Hiccup was not amused.

Of course, when it came to actual flying, theory could only do so much.

Instead of making Hiccup jump off a ledge, Jack tied his waist to a tree, anchoring the brunet as he got used to the feeling of the wind under his wings. He practiced the tricks Jack had taught him as the other teen watched closely and murmured words of encouragement, familiarizing his body with gliding, flapping his wings and maneuvering in the air.

When the time came to remove the rope, Jack made sure to position himself directly below Hiccup, catching him whenever his wings failed or simply cushioning his fall when he landed on top of him and sent them both to the ground.

Curiously enough, whenever the latter happened, they were in no rush to separate themselves from each other like they did on the day they first met.

Months later, Hiccup was finally able to hover on his own for a bit. He still relied on Jack to catch him though, and the white-haired teen would not disappoint, sometimes flying up himself to meet the brunet halfway. Neither of them paid any attention to it, too caught up in each other, but Jack would hold them both up in the air for a while, at least until their combined weight forced him to return to the ground.

And if anyone noticed the whitening color of Jack's wings or the distinct absence of black sand, nobody said a thing.


It was raining on the day Hiccup gave Jack a scale from his wings.

They were taking shelter under a tree, both soaking wet from Hiccup's insistence to keep on practicing despite the darkening clouds eating up the sky. Jack had known better than to try and stop him when he was in one of his moods, but in Hiccup's defense, he did tell him that he could leave if he didn't want to stay, even though they both knew that Jack would remain until Hiccup was ready to call it quits.

Busy shaking off the water in his wings, Jack started when the brunet suddenly grabbed his wrist and pressed something smooth into his palm, curling his fingers over the object.

"That's for –" Hiccup stopped, cleared his throat and started again. "Thanks, for teaching me." He paused before continuing shyly. "And for accepting me."

Jack opened his palm when Hiccup released him and his head snapped up in shock when he registered the black scale in his hand. He locked eyes with Hiccup, who had a slight blush on his cheeks as he wiped sopping bangs from his face and waited for Jack's reaction.

"You know what this means, right?" Jack asked, keeping his stance casual and his voice as steady as possible to hide the burst of elation in his chest. He had a cool image to maintain, after all.

Hiccup nodded shyly, looking away with a small smile.

Jack grinned and combed a hand through his wings, retrieving a snow white feather of his own and returning Hiccup the favor.

Because giving someone a piece of your wing wasn't just a gesture of gratitude.

It was a sign of trust.


Jack told Hiccup that he hadn't flown since the accident.

They were on their way home from their annual skiing trip, taking a mountainous road towards the highway. His father was driving, his mother was in the passenger seat and his sister was in the back staring out the window as her brother flew overhead. As usual, she had begged him to carry her but despite his training, his wings still weren't strong enough to support them both, so he settled for putting on an air show for her instead, performing corkscrews and loop-de-loops and generally providing some entertainment as she watched eagerly through the glass and laughed with delight.

No one saw the patch of black ice coating a section of the road ahead.

Jack could only watch in horror as the metal trap containing his family skidded haphazardly and crashed through the protective railings, tumbling down the steep slope towards the valley below. His parents were killed instantly, but when he dove after them and landed at the crash site, he found his little sister still breathing, unconscious and barely alive.

There was no one around for miles and Jack had never felt so helpless in his life, cradling her limp body close to his chest as his wings flapped as hard as they could, trying to lift them both off the ground to find help. He only managed to make it to the main road before his sister finally gave out, taking her last breath and dying in his arms.

Without the protection of his family, Jack was cast out from his town by fearful people who called him an 'ice demon' when he returned broken and alone. The children cried with him, but they could not move their parents into letting him stay.

The day he left home, the day Jackson Overland died with his family and Jack Frost was born, was the day his feathers started to fade to black, leaving trails of black sand wherever he walked.

Lost and hated with nowhere else to go, Jack became a traveler, wandering the world alone for several years with the thought of cutting off his useless wings every day until he heard about the Sanctuary. The station master told him that he could either fly to the island or use their provided shuttle and travel by sea.

Jack didn't even have to think about it. He took the ferry.


Hiccup told Jack about the time he was bedridden for five weeks after his cousin pushed him off a cliff.

Snotlout said that his instincts would kick in, allowing his reflexes to help his wings make him fly, and he had barely given him enough time to protest before shoving him forcefully off the edge.

But Hiccup didn't remember catching the wind and soaring through the skies. He remembered falling without any way to stop, his wings flapping uselessly against the rush of air as it burned his eyes and twisted fear in his gut. He remembered screaming in pain when he crashed to the earth, uncontrollable tears streaking down his dirtied cheeks when the excruciating pain from his shattered left leg and four cracked ribs finally made him pass out.

He spent his birthday in the hospital that year, but the best part had yet to come.

It was all Hiccup's fault apparently. Snotlout was only trying to help, they said. His cousin couldn't be blamed for his accident. No, it was all on Hiccup the Useless, Hiccup the Flightless.

His father only visited him twice: the first time when he was admitted, the second time when he was discharged. The nurses said that he was there in the ambulance with him, but Hiccup remembered waking up alone to an empty ward. The mayor seemed to have more urgent matters to attend to, other responsibilities to take care of.

Gobber was the only one who came by with any sense of regularity. The mechanic would visit at least once a week when he had the time, occasionally bringing him his sketchbooks and drawing materials to keep him occupied. He never stayed long though, half an hour at the most, leaving him to his own devices for the rest of the day.

Months after Hiccup was discharged, on the day the cast on his leg was finally removed, he went to the store to buy himself some new clothes. Three years later, he packed his bags and left home in the middle of the night.

Hiccup never looked back once as he headed towards the nearest port.


"Out of curiosity, what are you going to do once I teach you how to get your skinny ass in the air?" Jack casually asked one afternoon as he lay comfortably with his back to the grass and wings spread out, craning his neck to face Hiccup who was sprawled on his chest after another failed attempt at flying followed by a somewhat successful catch. "Go back to Berk?"

Sighing thoughtfully but making no move to get up, Hiccup shrugged lazily. "Maybe. I don't know," he admitted, resting his head just under Jack's chin. "I might travel for a bit. See the wonders of the world or something."

"I can show you some pretty cool places if you want. I've been almost everywhere," Jack boasted, dropping his head back as he gazed at the cloudless blue skies above them. "And then you can head home when you've finally gotten tired of me."

The undercurrent of loneliness in Jack's lighthearted tone did not escape Hiccup's notice. "I'll never get tired of you," he said honestly, reaching out to grasp the white-haired teen's wrist. "And you could always come back to Berk with me, you know."

"You sure?" Jack asked after a moment of hesitation, his voice quivering with a tinge of hope. "I might just end up cursing your village with eternal winter," he joked weakly.

Hiccup snorted. "In Berk, it already practically snows nine months of the year and hails the other three. Trust me, Jokul Frosti, you'll fit right in," he grinned and tightened his hold on Jack's hand.

"Looks like I'm stuck with you then," Jack sighed in mock disappointment as he wrapped his free arm around the brunet in a half-hug, squeezing lightly.

"I'd like to see you try and get rid of me," Hiccup smirked. "You wouldn't stand a chance against all… this," he pushed himself up and flexed his wings in a faux display of power, causing Jack to burst out laughing.

It went unsaid, but both of them held the same thought in their hearts as they playfully bantered back and forth.

Please don't leave me.


The Sanctuary was burning.

Hungry flames raged through the island and licked at the skies, unsympathetic to the chorus of screams piercing through the night accompanied by the wild barks of hunting dogs. The distinctive smell of gunpowder permeated the air as the rivers began to flow crimson.

It was no secret that there were people in the world who wished for nothing more than to cleanse the population of the Winged, those who they dubbed impure and unnatural. The Sanctuary was protected of course, by governments in allied countries and numerous organizations supporting their cause.

Still, no one had expected an invasion on the island stronghold, a massacre rivaling genocide in scale and devastation. Some valiantly tried to fight back while others attempting to flee took to the skies, but all of them had been taken by surprise, caught off guard by the ambush.

They were no match for the fear that reigned freely that night: fear which froze them on the spot as the barrels of guns pointed towards them; fear which drove the intruding parties to carry arsenals of weapons and unleash packs of dogs to hunt down those who were different from them, those who they couldn't understand.

By the time word had gotten out about the attack and the outside world had received the desperate cries for help, there was almost nothing left save for smoldering ruins in the wake of all the destruction and bloodshed.

The number of survivors was never released to the public and the tragic events of that night was henceforth dubbed as the "Red Death".


Hiccup's hand was laced tightly in Jack's as they ran for their lives, sprinting through the forests with terror pulsing through their veins and their hearts pounding wildly in their chests. The barks of the hounds that had been sent after them had decreased substantially to faint echoes, but they knew better than to stop and catch their breaths.

Bursting out of the trees, they quickly dug their heels into the ground and screeched to a stop when the path before them dropped off sharply towards the ocean at the edge of the island. A full moon watched them in silence as they panted heavily and spun around to face the way they came, contemplating their next move.

Slowly but surely, the angry shouts in the distance began to increase in volume.

"Go."

Jack's head whipped to the side and he stared at Hiccup in shock when the brunet abruptly tore his hand out of his grasp, the vacuum causing his fingers to curl as they ached with the sudden loss of warmth. Somehow, Jack knew what he was going to say and a sinking feeling began to pool in his gut, horrified realization and utter denial stirring in his widening eyes as they took in Hiccup's determined expression staring back at him.

"I can lead them away and buy you some time. Their guns won't work if you're far enough from the island," Hiccup explained, the corners of his mouth twitching up in what was meant to be a reassuring smile, but Jack could see the raw fear clearly in his green eyes. "That is, unless they manage to get in a lucky shot or something. But hey, you fly like a lunatic, so maybe you'll be able to make it, yeah?" he teased with a smirk, trying to mask the tremble in his voice.

Jack shook his head fiercely. "I'm not leaving without you," he said, scowling. "We can double back, cut through the east side of the –"

"I can't fly, Jack!" Hiccup snapped angrily, the harsh truth eliciting a flinch from the white-haired teen. The cold reality of their situation had finally sunk in and Jack felt like it had slapped him in the face. Paralyzed, he could only stare back numbly as Hiccup glared at him, panting hard from his outburst and the earlier chase in the forest.

And it was true. Despite months of practice, the brunet still had yet to master kicking off from the ground and launching himself into the air. Even if the wind had managed to lift him, he could only sustain flight for a few minutes at best.

"I can't fly," Hiccup whispered, his voice cracking slightly as his face softened. "But you can. There's no time to find somewhere to hide and there's no point in both of us dying here, so get your wings in the air and save yourself!" When Jack didn't answer, he frowned and added "I'll push you off the cliff if I have to."

Jack's protest died in his throat at the desperate look in Hiccup's eyes. He knew the other would follow through with his threat if he refused to budge, but could he really live with himself knowing that he had abandoned Hiccup to his death?

Unconsciously, Jack's shaking hand reached for the black scale hidden safely in the pocket of his hoodie, gripping it tightly as his mind raced to come up with a plan, anything that could hold back their hunters while they found another escape route, anything that could get them both off the doomed island safely regardless of how slim the chances were, anything that could help Hiccup fly –

And then it hit him.

Years ago, he had not been strong enough to save his sister with his wings, but what about now? Jack couldn't guarantee that he could do it now, but at that point he was desperate enough to try anything. This was the only option they had left, but while his adrenaline started to spark that bit of confidence, there was lingering fear casting doubt as to whether it would work.

He remembered letting his sister die. He remembered sprinting through the forest with her body cradled tightly to his chest as he jumped irregularly, trying to get airborne but to no avail. He remembered his wings flapping uselessly under their combined weight, slowing him down as his feet pounded frantically on the earth.

Jack feared that his wings would still not be able to carry them now, but he knew that he feared leaving Hiccup behind with the hunters, leaving him to fend for himself and to die all alone, even more.

Much, much more.

So with that, Jack knew that he had to try. And if his wings should fail him again and they should fall from the sky, he could take comfort in the fact that he had kept his promise to himself, to stay by Hiccup's side regardless of whether it was in life or death. Steeling himself and summoning his courage, Jack made his decision.

"It's okay to not be able to fly. I'm not expecting you to," he said firmly, trying to be comforting as he assured Hiccup, noticing the look of surprise that flashed across the brunet's face. "If you're going to fly, I want you to be doing it for yourself. Not for me, not for your father, not for anyone else. Only you."

Taking in a deep, shaky breath, Jack continued. "I'm not telling you to try and be someone you're not. All I'm asking is for you to trust that I'll be able to carry you. I –" he swallowed hard. "You have to believe in me." The last part trailed off into a whisper as Jack stared pleadingly at Hiccup, waiting for his answer.

Hiccup was stunned into silence by Jack's unexpected speech. He knew what Jack was planning and he understood the consequences that followed if things didn't go according to plan, but right now it was all or nothing. Either they both survived or they both didn't. The odds really weren't in their favor, but Hiccup knew that this was the only chance they had. Besides, if they were going to go, at least they would go together.

And he wouldn't have it any other way.

"Always," Hiccup whispered, smiling earnestly as his eyes locked onto Jack's, conveying the unmistakable faith he had in the other.

Neither of them remembered who moved first, but the next thing they knew they were leaning in, their faces dangerously close to each other's as their breaths mingled and they could practically feel the heat emanating from the other's body.

Jack's eyes slid closed as he tilted his head downwards and gently captured Hiccup's lips, his arms wrapping themselves around the smaller male's waist possessively. Hiccup responded with a soft moan and reached up to thread his fingers through Jack's hair, pulling him closer to deepen the kiss and press his body flush against his.

The sinister shouts in the distance grew alarmingly louder.

Hugging the brunet tightly, Jack spun them around so that Hiccup's back faced the sea. There was no need for words to convey what was going to happen next. Without breaking the kiss, Jack stepped forward and leaned against Hiccup just as the other pulled his wings in and hooked his arms around the white-haired teen's neck.

They toppled over the edge.

Walking fishbone or not, Hiccup was not as weightless as his scrawny appearance led most to believe. They fell at first, plummeting through the air as Jack flapped his wings with everything he had, stroking them up and down with all the muscles in his back and every ounce of energy he could muster. Hiccup clung onto him and buried his face in his neck, holding him close and murmuring a prayer to all the gods he could think of at the moment.

Someone must have been listening because shortly after Hiccup shut his eyes in anticipation of gravity's final gift to them, Jack's wings caught the wind and they shot upwards, quickly gaining distance from both the black sea below and the burning island behind them.

Laughing with disbelief, Hiccup pulled away to grin widely at Jack, whose relieved and joyous smile threatened to spill over his face as he whooped in triumph and soared through the air, snowflakes glittering in the moonlight where they scattered from his wings. They had a chance, Hiccup thought, his heart swelling with rapidly growing hope. They could actually make it –

Then someone fired a gun, clipping Jack with a bullet.

The forceful impact combined with the unexpectedness of the attack jarred him sharply, sending waves of pain shooting through his arm and causing him to falter. Panic bloomed in Jack's chest when Hiccup started to slip from his grasp.

Two more shots sounded, both hitting their targets.

Jack choked out a gasp and snapped his eyes open, his wings automatically flaring out in reflex as they halted his descent towards the sea. He shook his head to clear the darkness from his vision, having temporarily blacked out when the excruciating pain from his bleeding shoulder had become too much to bear.

The blood drained out of his face when he realized that his hands were empty.

Hiccup was silent, his eyes wide and mouth open in an expression of muted shock when the third bullet had finally separated him from Jack's arms. He dropped like a stone, feeling a nostalgically helpless sense of falling that he had experienced only once many years ago. As he hurtled towards the inky sea below, he caught sight of a group of men at the edge of the cliff, waving their rifles in the air.

"HICCUP!"

Jack screamed, one bloody hand clutching his bleeding shoulder as he dived after him, tears escaping his ice blue eyes as they looked at him with the most fearful expression Hiccup had ever seen. More bullets sliced through the air and Jack jerked back instinctively, one arm reaching out helplessly towards the falling brunet.

I'm going to die, Hiccup thought numbly, a strange feeling of calmness washing over him in the face of his final moments. He closed his eyes in grim resignation to his fate, but then something stirred inside him, nudging him from the depths of his soul.

Fly, it whispered.

I can't, he despaired.

You can. Only you.

The last part was said in Jack's voice, echoing through his mind and enveloping his heart with encouraging warmth. Hiccup's eyes snapped open as he reached for the white feather in his vest pocket, gripping it tightly.

In a leap of faith, he opened his wings.

One arm came up to shield his face as he crashed head-first into the sea and plunged completely under, submerged by the dark liquid which swallowed him whole and muffled Jack's cries of horror somewhere above.

But Hiccup's wings had caused him to enter at an angle, the momentum carried forth from his arced trajectory and high speed enabling him to break the water's surface just as easily and take to the air. Unused to independent flight, he wobbled slightly at first, trying to control his breathing and angle himself in the way that Jack had taught him. His wings eventually righted themselves and he pushed down on the air, swooping gracefully upwards to meet Jack.

As he did during the first time they met, Hiccup literally slammed into the white-haired teen, very nearly knocking them both out of the sky as they clutched desperately at each other. Hiccup winced at the sight of Jack's bloody state up close, mindful of the bullet holes punched into his flesh as he hugged him as tightly as he dared without aggravating his wounds. Jack's arms hung limply at his sides, in too much pain to return the brunet's embrace, but he was laughing and sobbing as he pressed his wet cheeks against Hiccup's freckled ones.

The Sanctuary gradually shrunk into a small dot in the distance, the enraged curses of the hunters lost to the wind as Hiccup and Jack travelled further and further away towards the horizon. They flew side by side, the tips of their wings brushing ever so often under the full moon smiling down on them.


They called it destiny.


Author's Note: Thank you for reading. Comments are greatly appreciated :)