a/n: tbh this au is my absolute favorite. and i ship frostcup just saying.
They hadn't seen Hiccup in days.
Rapunzel had returned from her world a light brunette instead of the sunshine blond they were so accustomed to, with her hair severed unevenly just below her ears, and responded to Jack and Merida's shock with a fit of giggles.
"It's okay, you guys, I don't even miss it," she said, hands folded delicately in her lap. "Circumstances being what they were, I wouldn't have had it any other way."
Which was more vague than they were used to from her, but Jack and Merida had to concede, with a glance at one another. None of them had been too forthcoming about the problems they were each facing back home, and Jack had to assume it was just because it was something each of them had to face on their own. But Merida was all smiles, her brooding sulk a thing of the past, and Jack himself was feeling lighter than air, now that he was a Guardian and the children could see him.
All that was missing was Hiccup, and with each passing moment his absence in their little circle grew harder to ignore.
"Where has he been, do you think?" Rapunzel ventured to ask when the companionable silence stretched into something uncomfortable.
"Well we've all been busy with stuff," Jack replied, twirling his staff so he wouldn't fidget. "Maybe his stuff is just taking longer."
A snapping twig and the rustle of grass drew their attention quickly, and they all glanced up in a sweeping rush of relief as Hiccup came into view, struggling to the top of their grassy hill.
"Hiccup! Where've you been lad, it's been ages!"
Jack swooped over, grinning. "Having some trouble there buddy?"
Hiccup was doubled over, panting, and when he straightened, he staggered. Jack caught his arm quickly, and the smile vanished from his face when he saw Hiccup's left foot.
Or what used to be his foot.
There was a sharp intake of breath and the girls rushed over, Rapunzel already on the verge of tears. "Oh, Hiccup!"
Hiccup blinked. "Ra- Rapunzel? What happened to your hair?"
"What happened to your leg?" Jack yanked on his arm, sharply, eyes narrowed. Merida smacked him hard in the shoulder, presumably for his rough handling of their injured friend, but he ignored her. Hiccup tugged halfheartedly at his arm, and gave up when Jack only tightened his grip. "What happened?"
"A, uh...a dragon?"
"A what- "
And with a roar, and a rushing of wind, a dragon descended over them, thoroughly startling the girls, and Jack, too, who fell back with a shout, leveling his staff at the thing. Slitted poison green eyes held his stare, and the creature bared its fangs at them as it dropped to the ground and folded its wings. Merida was already notching an arrow, and it might have been funny to see Rapunzel hefting up her frying pan with a determined frown on her face, but it wasn't funny at all, because that was a dragon and Hiccup had lost his foot to one and they simply added two and two together.
But before they could avenge their friend, and really before more than four seconds had gone by, Hiccup was in between them and the monster, raising his hands to them like he was trying to stop an army going to war.
"Guys guys it's okay! It's okay!" He looked at Jack pleadingly, on the wrong end of his staff, and Jack was forced to lower it.
"I think you'd better explain," Merida bit out. "You tell us you lost your foot to a dragon and then when one swoops down over you, you act like the sky will fall if we so much as look at it cross-eyed!"
The young Viking reached up to the dragon's snout, and the dragon lowered its head for him, not breaking eye contact with Jack even to blink as Hiccup stroked the smooth scales between his eyes soothingly. "Jack- I think you scared him. He did this to someone else once too, when she shoved me down. He doesn't understand nuances, he thought you were going to hurt me when you grabbed my arm."
The Guardian blinked, a little taken aback. "I- oh. Sorry?"
The dragon considered him for a moment before his eyes dilated and his ears perked up a little, altogether a much less frightening vision. Hiccup looked delighted.
"His name's Toothless," he said eagerly, and didn't seem to catch Jack's look of stunned disbelief. "Without him I swear I'd be dead two times over."
At that point Rapunzel burst out, "Oh, Hiccup, can I pet him?"
Toothless tossed his head, like a horse annoyed by a fly, but consented to let Rapunzel pat his nose reverently, before she drew back again looking amazed by her own daring. Merida was shaking her head, and Jack said, "But- your foot."
"It's a long story? It isn't Toothless' fault though. And- and I don't mind, really, cause now we're even."
Jack's mouth worked silently, not sure how to word how not okay he was with that acquiescence, when Merida asked suddenly, "Do you fly with him?"
"I have to," the Hooligan responded, and turned to gesture at the saddle and the rigging. "See, this cable lines up to the pedal down here. I have to pilot the artificial tailfin to match the positions the opposite fin takes in flight or we'll crash. It's actually not as difficult as I'm making it sound."
"Show me!" The redhead exclaimed, and immediately Rapunzel was at her arm, beaming at him.
"Are you up for it?" Jack asked, giving in.
"Always," Hiccup responded, swinging himself into the saddle like he belonged there and clicking his prosthetic foot into place. "Toothless loves showing off, and you're a fresh audience."
"I seriously can't believe you call him Toothless."
Hiccup grinned, and shrugged, and murmured something to his dragon, and they took off, no running start necessary; black wings spread wide to catch the wind, dipping low and coming up fast, spinning and weaving, forgetting their audience and climbing higher up through the clouds, flying just to be free.
Watching them until they were out of sight completely, as the girls waved and cheered, Jack wondered how Hiccup could honestly say he wasn't anything special.