Hello there! I am not dead! I'm extremely sorry for being on such a long and unnecessary hiatus, but my motivation to write had been kaput. I suppose it's because I relied heavily on being alone so much, and when I found someone, my creative output just died out. It wasn't right of me to rely on loneliness as a muse, and I apologize, and lucky for me, I have found another.
So without further ado, I give you the latest installment of Northern Lights
Disclaimer: characters belong to Dreamworks, and I am just a wee baby ●3●
Edit: something went a bit wonky with the uploading so I pretty much had to rewrite the entire thing. I'm very tired right now, so there is a possibility of there being a mistake or two. I apologize and I'll try my best to fix any when I can.
Today was the day, and he was ready. Any nervousness was tucked beneath a debonair poker face, and covered in false collected coolness. He was finally going to do it! Today was the day! And how was he going to do it?...
... He didn't have a clue.
The stout man released a silent sigh, fixing the golden tie around his neck and brushing small debris off his overcoat. Walking directly in front of one of The Mermaid's Den's large windows, he gave himself a long once-over. He tried tugging the little wrinkles in his clothes out, only to have them reappear, and tried to comb down his hair, which wouldn't cooperate and maintained its usual spiky position. It was now or never.
He stepped inside the nautical cafe, keeping his head held high in artificial confidence. Giving a simple nod to a few of the waitresses, he approached the counter with the target just ahead. It was like a game of Black-Ops, just on a less deadly scale.
He approached with the stealth of an assassin while the "target" had her back to him, humming as she wrote on a small pad. In his mind, he could practically hear some man whisper in an imaginary earpiece, "Don't blow this, Sandman. You're almost there. Just take out the target, then we're home free, amigo. I swear if you get through this alive, I'm buying you a beer."
Looking over the counter, since he was barely tall enough to peer over it anyway, the little man tapped on it to get the target's (or should I say, the owner's) attention. Hearing the light noise, the woman spun around, her fiery red hair flipping with the cinematic grace of a movie star, as her wistful eyes fell on him.
"Why Sanderson Mansnoozie! Is that you I see?" She chimed with an airy chuckle, her eyes crinkling like bird's feet.
Getting a full look at her from this angle, any and all confidence he attempted to build up came crashing down into a squishy mess. Her peachy skin was dotted here and there with the occasional freckle from too much exposure to the sun, while her eyes had a never-ending spark that twinkled like sparklers in the rain, and although she showed some signs of aging, she managed to do it in the most graceful manner a human being could.
"Uh... Sandy, love? Why you staring at me like I'm the boogie man, or something?"
Tawny eyes wide and mouth slightly agape, he cleared his throat and tried to look a tad more gentlemanly, which was difficult since he was comparable to a dying fish. Raising his hands above the counter, he slowly signed (since she barely knew sign language), "Can we talk private?"
Watching and nodding carefully, she released an 'ah' and pointed to a booth by the wall. Once seated across from each other and out of sight, she leaned in a little, whispering, "Why you being secretive? Are you a spy or something?"
Chuckling, he signed, "Wanted to ask you question.
"Wanted to ask... Oh! Alright then, go ahead."
Oh god... Sandy's nerves were set to explode, not to mention the inside of his stomach felt like a butterfly habitat. He could almost feel them crawl around if he focused hard enough. This was his one chance and if he blew it... He didn't even want to think about what could happen. Maybe she'd laugh in his face, or make fun of him behind his back for trying. But she'd never do that...
... Would she?
He just sat there puffing out his cheeks while staring at his feet, stretching out his fingers like he was about to whip out a gun, a look on his face that practically read 'Hey look at me! I murdered a dozen people and left the bodies in my basement!'
"Darling, you look awful sick. Want me to get you a ginger-ale or something?" She voiced, her red lips pursing in concern.
"No! No!" He quickly shook out of nervous fingers. "I wanted to ask..."
"... Ask me what?"
With cheeks full to bursting and nerves tingling to the point the swore he was vibrating in his seat, he signed like a madman, "If you wanted to go out some time?"
She stared at him blankly, one of her brows slightly curving as she repeated the signals to herself in mumbles.
"If I wanted to... To what? I'm sorry love, I couldn't really understand the rest."
Both of his hands went straight to his face in a sound slap, before he frantically looked around for a slip of paper, and silently cheered when he found a lone napkin on the edge of the table. He moved it in front of him and dug his hand into every pocket he had, the look on his face switching from pure determination to distraught when he couldn't find what he was looking for.
Nervously, he signed, "Pen?"
"... Pen? Oh, do you need a pen?" Pulling the one out of her front pocket, she handed it to him with a sweet grin. "Here you go, sugar."
Frantically, he covered the paper with one hand as the other scrawled messy words and occasionally shook the instrument when the ink stopped flowing, biting his lip once he finished. Handing the pen back to her, he cautiously slid the napkin towards her, facing the other direction once she had it.
Reading the words out loud, she murmured, "Would you like to go out some time?"
The silence that fell was too much to bear for the little man as he sat there, awaiting his fate. This situation was comparable to waiting for the executioner to hurry it up and let the axe fall down on his neck. He wanted to bury himself, somewhere a hundred miles away, at the bottom of the ocean, in a box covered in chains where no one could ever-
"Oh, Sandy. You've got me blushing like a rose bud." She mimicked a shy southern belle, "That was awful sweet of you."
He just stared back at her in disbelief, a long rush of air coming out of his lungs making him deflate like a balloon. Since when was he holding his breath?
"I'd love to. How 'bout we head out around 9:00, after I lock up?"
With shaky fingers, he said, "Y-yes."
"Fantastic! Then I will see you tonight, honeybun~"
She stood up and gave him a peck on the cheek, leaving a huge red mark on his face, before giving him a quick wave goodbye and walking into the kitchen.
Over his invisible earpiece, he heard that imaginary voice boom, "Alright Sandman! You did it! Now let's haul our asses on outta here. Heh, looks like I owe you a drink, huh?"
Lives were like stories. Page after page, chapter after chapter, a never ending sequence of long, summer days and cold, winter nights. Each hour became a sentence, each minute a word, and every second a form of punctuation. Life is the longest book to ever be written, each book different from the last, in the library of the universe. Some stories were lost to time, others ended too early, while some haven't been written yet. But truth be told, a life was nothing more than a long sequence of memories. Fate foresaw the creation and publishing of these memories, drawings bridges between time and making necessary sacrifices. It was fate that placed people in their own lives and gave them a story to create. It was also fate who weaved bonds between individuals, linking their tales together, turning multiple poems into one epic. Fate would birth and destroy new writers with new lives and new memories, and in its wake, would lead them into their own destiny.
Alas, not all memories could be so blissful.
In the vast dark, stretched a hallway with windows on either side dusted in a fine layer of frost. The ground was numbing beneath a pair of small, bare feet as they trekked along as silent as the wind. Dull light collected in stale wisps on the dusty ground, tracing each individual mark the plump, dirty toes made. A boy carefully moved along, through the repetition of window after window; he held back his breaths as best as he could to avoid detection. When the end was finally reached, he turned the corner to see that in a large lunchroom, he was surrounded by dead faces.
Each one was a child's face, hollow and devoid of hope. It was like they were each small bathtubs filled to the brink with wonder and color, but someone pulled the plug and didn't bother to fill them back up. They all looked like holograms set on repeat, standing or sitting perfectly still, the only motions being blink and breathe. And when looked at by a certain angle, they were all see-through, practically pale ghosts withering away into nothing more but piles of ash. The boy stared at each one, but they couldn't even see him as he tip-toed past abandoned toys, dirtied and abused.
He went further, down another hall just as plain as the last. But every step he took changed slightly, as concrete became softer and crunched like snow and boring windows gained gaping cracks. Random debris littered the space, including rocks that stubbed his pale feet, or button-eyed dolls that tried to charm him with artificial smiles. At the end of the hall grew a rusted door, solidified by ice growing around it and snow piled high on both sides. The wind became horrendously bitter and nipped at him like angry pixies, commanding him to go back.
But he stayed. He stayed and looked at the door with its old carvings of planets and suns permanently embedded in its faded flesh, and the large full moon that stared back at him, daring him to venture into its domain and discover what dwelled behind the entrance. The boy raised a hand to push it open, until a voice drifted into the mist and beguiled him away, towards the soothing sound of, "Jack... Jack... Come find me!..." In such a weak, innocent voice.
He could only turn and look for it as the voice grew nearer, "Jack... Come get me... I need you..." The boy lifted his feet to run, but invisible hands held him down as the voice cried desperately, "Jack!... Please!... I'm scared!"
"Mary!" Jack screamed as his head popped off the pillow. His lungs burned for icy breath to fill his deprived body, while the pupils in his brown eyes shrank to the size of pinpoints. Jack looked around the room and tried to identify where he was.
He recognized the dresser on the far left, the bathroom door on the right, and everything else in his bedroom. He could only sigh in relief as he tried to calm his stammering heart. He hopped out of the sheets, traces of cold sweat sticking to his flesh as he moved in to the bathroom for an icy shower to dull away the nightmare.
The temperature continued to drop as the days passed, the frigid taste of autumn diminishing and becoming crisp with ice crystals. He could practically taste them on the tip of tongue once he got out and moved near the window. The sky burned a bright blue, dotted with puffy clouds like a spilled bag of cotton balls across the azure expanse, each one a different shade of white or grey as they lazily drifted in the sky. The youth looked at them and smiled while he pulled on a pair of boxers, because clouds meant snow. My god, he was positively crazy about snow! By the end of the month the weather was sure to change from raindrops to snowflakes. Snow meant playing outside with the neighborhood kids, spending the holidays with his friends, and especially pulling nasty pranks (specifically on a certain man by the name of Bunnymund...).
Today was Saturday, a great day to be alive. Mostly because Saturday mornings were dedicated to an endless variety of videogames, and the nights were reserved for plenty of drinks and the occasional one night stand. So, he tossed on a Ghostbusters t-shirt, a pair of jeans, and didn't even bother to put in his blue contacts as he made his way into the living room. He had plenty of time before work started and he could always eat breakfast later, because right now it was gaming time.
There, shining like a beacon of nerdy goodness on the coffee table, was his copy of Assassin's Creed III, glowing in some divine light. He grabbed it and purred on his way over to his gaming system, "Oo baby, I'm gonna play you so hard today..." The fact that this man talked dirty to his games was just further proof of how lonely he was. A few nights ago, he practically made love to his copy of Borderlands. On the kitchen counter. But before the molestation could commence, a man began singing from his kitchen.
"Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose..."
Quirking a brow at the random dulcet tones of Christmas music, he whipped his head over to the kitchen to see his phone vibrating across the counter. A Christmas themed ringtone could only mean one person. Quickly grabbing it, Jack was greeted with the cheery grin of North on the screen, and even more music. Upon unlocking it, he was surprised by the triumphant laugh of the man's strong Russian voice.
"Ah! Good morning Jack!" He nearly sang.
Groggily, the youth ran his hand down his face, replying with a yawn. "Ugh, g-good morning, North. Why you calling so early? Work doesn't start till-"
"I know, I know. I called because I have favor to ask of you."
"Remember? You owe me favor, so get dressed and come meet me at my house."
"Right now?! Come on, I wanted to-"
"Quit with the complaining, and get over here unless you want me to make you work for Bunnymund the entire day?"
"Got it! On my way..."
The man hung up with a chuckle, leaving Jack grimacing like a grade-schooler about to serve detention. Not exactly how he wanted to spend his Saturday morning, but with the threat of working for Bunny lingering in the air, Jack was willing to do anything.
One of the many great things about Nicholas St. North was that he lived in the same neighborhood as Jamie Bennett and his young cohorts. Even though he qualified as an adult, Jack loved to hang out with the neighborhood kids since they all knew how to have fun unlike most of his peers, not to mention they actually listened to him, since everyone else apparently couldn't. He was the pack leader of this little cult dedicated to snowball fights and pillow forts, ghost stories and pranks, and all the wonders of childhood.
But, instead of being able to swing by and give a quick hello, he dragged his sorry ass over to North's humble abode for a favor he owed to the old man. And by humble abode, I mean sprawling two-story dream factory worthy of Santa Claus himself. Although his house was the same size of the others on the street, his outshone every single one by a mother-fudging landslide. Wild peppermint overtook the spaces below almost every window, which were all painted gold in elaborate designs; the scent of sugar cookies somehow managed to coat the entire property, even if no one had baked that day. The grass was horrifically lush and green, bringing all other lawns to shame, while his red brick chimney at the back puffed out pure, white clouds that smelled disgustingly sweet.
Jack stalked along the sidewalk and yawned. Once in front of the house, he took a sharp turn onto the concrete path towards the porch, eyes half-open and droopy. Before he could even reach up to knock, North tossed the door open, balancing trays of baked goods in one hand.
"Glad to see you're here, Jack! Now you get to help me!" He laughed, his cheeks and the tip of his nose rosy red.
Eye twitching, Jack adverted his gaze to the man, the food, and back. He could feel a tidal wave of warmth rush over him along with the scent of frosting.
"Huh... You've been busy."
"Yes, yes, now come in!"
Ushered inside by a hand as big as his head, the scent of baked goods practically slapped him across the face when North closed the door and rushed back into the kitchen. From the doorway, he could see trays upon trays of cookies decorated in orange and black, shaped like pumpkins or cats.
"So, uh, what've you been up to, North?" He asked, stepping closer to snatch a hot cookie off a plate on the counter.
"I've been busy making preparations." The older man said, pulling out another tray onto the counter to cool. In total, there was about four trays, filled with sugary confections, and two humongous plates dusted with them in flashy Halloween colors.
"For what, exactly?" He took a small bite, dropping a few sprinkles in the process.
"For the bake sale, of course!"
"Yes, we are having a bake sale for the Burgess Elementary School!"
Munching on the squishy confection, Jack nodded and asked, "Think there'll be anything left for the shop?"
"Of course! Except, I do not think Tooth will be very happy to see them."
"You kidding?! The second you bring a cookie in there, she'll be on you faster than a damn cheetah."
Chuckling, North opened the oven and popped in two cake pans overflowing with peachy batter. Wiping his hands on a tattered kitchen towel, the man leaned back against the counter and grabbed a cookie for himself.
Swallowing the last bit, Jack wiped away stray crumbs and cleared his throat. "So, what? You called me over here to watch you bake cookies?"
"No. I have something better in mind." North put down the cookie and grinned wickedly, pointing to the living room. "Come with me, please."
Doing as instructed, Jack trailed along behind the large man who seemed way too cheery today. They walked past the living room and into the parlor at the back; the old man opened a door which led to his garage/workshop. Despite having been in there many times before, Jack still couldn't believe how big the room was, since the view from the outside did the place no justice whatsoever. A roomy table littered with half-made toys took up the entire right wall, along with any tools he had, while the left side was reserved for North's prized possession: a 1957 red corvette convertible.
The lad began, "So, what do you want-"
"I want you to wash my car."
Jack slowly turned to the old man who crossed his arms and nodded, that cheery smile never wavering.
"You can't be serious."
"But it's cold out there!"
"I thought you liked the cold?"
"Haven't you ever heard of a car wash?"
"Yes, but I think you can do a much better job."
North hit the switch on the nearby wall to open the garage door, letting chilly air creep in like invisible ice. Stammering, Jack turned to the old man to add in another protest, but instead got a rag tossed in his face, and a bucket complete with sponge dropped in his palm, along with the keys to the car.
"Not too much wax, okay? And don't scratch paint, I want to show off car to the fellas." The Claus-doppelgänger said with a wave of his hand as he headed back inside and closed the door behind him, still grinning maniacally.
Well, a deal was a deal, and Jack was starting to regret ever making it. The keys were put into the vintage car's ignition, eliciting a lion roar and a long kitten purr from the engine as it was pulled back into the driveway. Bringing the top up, he took out the keys with a sigh and set to work. He found liquid soap and carnauba wax set out on a nearby bench, along with a note which read, "Don't forget the tires - North."
Did the old man plan this?
The bucket was filled with water colder than a witch's tit, soaking the sponge completely to the point Jack swore he saw it shiver. He practically poured half the bottle of soap in there, creating a thick layer of pure bubbles. Rolling his hoodie's sleeves up, Jack dunked the sponge in the frothy mixture, soaking his own hand to the bone in chilly liquid.
Staring at it, he released a strong sigh and mumbled to himself, "Note to self: never makes deals with North, ever again."
Gleaming like a sign of ghoulish delight from a pinboard in the dentist's office, was a poster for an upcoming event at the end of the month, which would be in a few days. It was decorated in pumpkin orange and licorice black, wielding a wicked ferris wheel in the middle with a deliciously evil grin adorning its face.
It was for the annual Burgess Autumn Carnival, and Baby Tooth couldn't have been more excited. She and Jack had gone very single year they'd been together, on Halloween, right after the costume party they always attended the night previous. It was actually during one of these festivities when she first saw Jack.
It was back in middle school, when she remained attached to a small clique of chatty birds hellbent on being the most popular, the examples being charm-covered cell phones with large phone bills, and excessive amounts of boys dated then dumped.
She had been coerced into attending the carnival by sugar-laden lies about 'how much fun it was gonna be' and 'all the cute boys that'll be there'. Well, the second they arrived, she had been ditched and left to rot by the game booths. As she stalked around for something to do, which was difficult since she only had $15 dollars, she managed to find a boy with chestnut hair and eyes to match sitting by the ferris wheel, all alone. She remembered how sad and abandoned he looked, a hollow look imprinted on his face as if he lived through WWI. Before she could even walk over to say hello, he scurried away to watch the fireworks being held near the field.
They didn't become friends until a few years later, in high school, when Jack pushed her out of the path of an oncoming bus, but that's a story for another time. After that, they were like two peas in a pod, and Baby Tooth absolutely could not wait to spend this year's carnival together. Especially since there was boy-candy involved.
While she sat in the break room, sipping some mint tea as a few of the dentists bickered over last night's boxing match, she ran such devious plans in that dark little head of hers. Baby Tooth may be short and adorable, but she could come up with ideas frightening enough to shake Hannibal Lecter.
A new player had come into the giant board game of life, who was cute and available, and completely unaware of the fact that he was going to lose. No one beats Baby Tooth at her own game. No one. And if Cupid couldn't lead her friend and this newcomer down the right path, then she was going to go ahead and roll the dice, play the card, and have them land directly on the 'Marriage' square.
For the past few days, Jack talked about nothing but the freckled Dragon Boy and every little thing about him. He mentioned about his cat, and his wicked tattoos, and the dorky faces he makes. He was being worse than a fangirl. Jack had noticed the most peculiar little things that just fascinated him in the oddest fashions, which was startling to say the least. Jack had never done that to anyone else. Not even the girls he used to date. So, what did he see in this kid anyway?
To put it in Layman's terms: he was crushing hard. Jack had a huge crush and was completely oblivious about it. Baby Tooth knew everything there was to know about her dork of a friend. She knew he was upset when he pulled his hoodie over his head. She knew he was happy when he stretched his arms behind his neck. And she knew when he was up to something when he looked away from her and smirked. She knew every little mannerism and movement he made, so it wasn't hard to tell that he had a crush.
So how exactly was she to go about this? I mean, this was a delicate situation that required planning and preparation. But most of all, she needed a stroke of luck. Things like this were never easy to pull off.
Why did she insist on playing Cupid with them? Well, for one thing, Jack hadn't been in a real relationship in forever and he could use some stability in his life.
"Hmm..." She hummed to herself, taking a sip from her mug with a pearly tooth adorning it.
She adverted her eyes back to the poster, that ferris wheel's toothy grin never wavering. Her eyes popped open like fire crackers and she could've sworn a lightbulb just exploded over her head.
"Mm, this is gonna be the best Halloween ever..." She chuckled darkly.
The bickering dentists stopped to look at her, to which she sucked in her lips and took another sip of her tea before getting up and awkwardly shuffling out of the room.
Jamie Bennett and his fellow cohorts were greeted by a most unusual sight during their walk around the neighborhood. As they trekked by Mr. North's house, they found a familiar head of white hair and blue hoodie with the sleeves rolled up washing a bright, red car in the driveway.
"... Is that Jack?" Asked one of the twins.
All members stopped to look, with smiles growing on their faces and laughter beginning to bubble up in their bellies, as the young man cussed and mumbled while scrubbing the car's hull in small, frothy circles.
Jaime began to snicker, "Pfft... J-Jack, is that you?"
The look of horror that grew upon the guy's face was priceless to say the least. The way he slowly turned his head and let his eyes wander over each of them liked a scared animal made them burst out cackling like a pack of hyenas.
"Dude, what are you doing?!" Pippa snorted out, clutching onto her stomach.
With the utmost grace he could possibly muster in a situation like this, Jack stood at full height and said, "It turns out North is secretly a karate master and he's teaching me how to fight, so I can defend myself from the snooty rich kids."
"Haha, what!" Squealed another.
"Haven't any of you ever heard of the Karate Kid? You know? Mr. Miagi? Wax on, wax off?"
Everyone slowly shook their head.
"Ah geez... Well, if you guys help me then maybe I can show you the movie."
"Is it any good?"
"It is a classic." He proudly stated, scrubbing behind the mirror with a squeak.
"But why are you washing Mr. North's car for?" Someone shouted.
"'Cause I'm so awesome, that's why. Come on, if you help, I'll rent you guys any movies you want... Nothing rated R though."
The chance to see horror films and adult comedies was much too tempting, so with a look casted to each other, the group silently agreed and grabbed a rag from the garage.
When North came outside a while later, he was surprised to see the neighborhood children on top and underneath his car, polishing it with old rags until the red automobile shined with an unholy aura of sublimity. Each little head turned to him like a lot of kittens, Jack's head slowly rising from the opposite side, a guilty grin on his face.
The look on the man's face could only be described as defeated as he immediately turned back around and went inside, hands up in surrender. From a nearby window, they heard him curse in Russian, before he yelled, "Okay! That is enough for today. Put down your things and leave. You do not have to go home, but you can not stay here. That means you too Jack, I'll see you at work."
"Does this mean I'm done?" Jack shouted back.
"Yes! Just put down things and go, I'll pick them up. Oi... I am so done."
"Uh, Fishlegs? Where are the twins?" Astrid asked, as she walked out of the extra room at the back of the apartment, wiping dust off her hands from a particularly old box she helped unpack.
From his spot in the living room, cradled on the couch with a book about the Byzantine empire, he murmured, "Uh, they said they were going out. Why?"
"They took a pack of matches and some boxes."
"I'm sure they wouldn't do anything stupid."
"I forgot to mention, they also took my lighter, some newspapers, and the papers from your backpack."
A bookmark was thrust into the book as it was hurriedly slammed onto the coffee table, followed by him jumping up and pulling on his jacket in a panic.
"Dude, what's the big deal?" She asked, taken aback.
"I'm not gonna let them burn my fanfiction!"
Before she could get another word out, he ran out the front door. No, I mean he literally sprinted down the hallway, dodging the other tenants on an inhuman rampage. Astrid didn't even know he could move like that...
"What's with all the screaming?" Hiccup questioned, popping his head out of his doorway, Toothless peering out by his feet.
"I don't know, but it was pretty freaking hilarious."
"Did... Did he say fanfiction?"
Snorting while trying to keep the laughter down, she bit her lip and nodded, walking into the living room and plopping down onto the couch.
Snickering, he crossed his arms and leaned in the doorway, "What are you laughing for? You write fanfics too."
"Pfft, what? No I don't."
"Yeah you do. Remember I found that one about those guys from Supernatural doing the do?"
Flushing a shade of pink Hiccup never saw before, Astrid threw him the nastiest look she could manage, which was enough to scare off a wild pig. Toothless immediately backed away and hid underneath the bed, leaving Hiccup to cower beneath the wicked gaze of the blonde.
"Yeah, well you better hurry up and get ready for work, you little-"
"I'm already dressed and on my way out, Elvira. So while I'm out, please don't let the twins burn down my apartment." The boy chuckled as he fixed his green tie and tucked it underneath his vest.
"Eh, can't make you any promises, Leonardo. I'm gonna be heading out too."
As he strolled by her, pulling the sleeves on his white shirt down to cover his tattoos, he let out a small gasp and quipped, "Oooh, really? Is it safe for you to be in public, Mistress of Darkness?"
She grabbed pillow off the couch and tossed it, hitting him in the face with a pop. "Yeah, but unfortunately, my black dress is at the dry cleaners. Now hurry up and get out of here so your cat and I can trash your apartment."
"Pfft, you kidding? We all know where his loyalty lies."
"Astrid, I could get him to pee on you if I wanted. So, unless you wanna smell like a litter box-"
Another pillow smacked him across the face from the couch, with Astrid standing up prepared to launch another one. Letting out a snigger, Hiccup grabbed his keys and jacket, making it out the door before she could land another blow.
Blowing her hair out of her bangs, she plopped back down on the sofa, and found a little black furball sitting next to her, leering in her direction.
"...What?" She mumbled.
Toothless just meowed and twitched his whiskers as he jumped down, holding his tail high as he slinked back in Hiccup's room.
E. Aster Bunnymund was never fond of this time of year. In all honesty, he hated it.
Before work, he quickly got dressed in the silence of his apartment and took a long stroll, heading towards one store in particular. The air had a gloomy heaviness to it, it even seemed to stick to his skin and drag him down. But he pushed against it, this invisible force he only seemed to feel since everyone else seemed completely unaffected. Aster felt a sour taste infiltrate his mouth from the coffee he had this morning, that being the only thing consumed, so he tried to swallow it down, only to have it taste even worse. Sighing with a mixture of contempt and exhaustion, he pushed himself down the street at a steady pace, a fish fighting against the current.
Without having to look up, he sharply turned and walked into a store, the bell on the door jingling to announce his arrival.
The man behind the counter was bent over, riffling through a few things and said cheerily as he turned around, "Welcome to Frank's Flowers! How may I help- Oh... Um, nice to see you again, Aster."
The other male nodded in his direction and headed towards the back, murmuring, "Nice ta see you too, Frank."
"It's, uh... It's that time of year again, huh?"
The man, Frank, nodded his head, looking downward as he shuffled his feet awkwardly, twitching the mustache on his upper lip. Aster stuffed his hands in his coat pockets, sighing as he overlooked each and every bouquet of flowers, but none of them were deemed good enough by his standards. They were either too dull, or there weren't enough flowers, or they had too many odd colors. The azaleas looked nice, but so did the zinnias, not to mention the carnations...
After searching through every flower, picking through each petal, he found a hidden gem stuck behind the wilting roses. A decent-sized bouquet rich with delicate, little wonders; it held plump bulbs on green stems, exuberant lilies striped in pink and yellow, speckled here and there with a touch of baby's breath.
Aster dropped the item on the counter, digging in his pocket to take out his wallet. Before he could pull a bill out, the man stuck a hand out and said, "Don't worry about paying. This time, it's on me."
Hesitantly, he slowly placed the bill back in, murmuring, "You sure?"
"Of course! You're one of my best customers. I'll let you have this one."
Giving a sincere smile, Aster took the bouquet and nodded to the man, walking out with the flowers firmly grasped in his hand. The sun started to shine a bit brighter, filtering through the golden leaves and delicately tracing patterns on the withered grass below. A few birds sat on ledges or branches, bathing in the soft light before it would disappear completely behind a blanket of winter. The man rubbed the back of his neck, ruffling some of his bluish-grey hair as his weary green eyes searched for familiar landmarks on his way to his final stop.
The crisp air filled his lungs with autumn leaves and burning wood. He always liked the sorts of smells in the air around this time, but not today. Despite the neutral look on his face, he was breaking on the inside. The beautiful rays of early morning couldn't break through the turmoil coursing through his veins, nor could the chittering of fat, little birds crack through the lead that weighed down his heart. If someone could pull back the surface of Bunnymund, they would find a broken man, misshapen and twisted in ways that no human could ever really handle.
Without realizing it, he found himself at his destination. His eyes were casted to the ground, immediately recognizing the sidewalk in front of black, iron gates and the earthy grass just ahead beginning to die. Aster took a deep breath and strolled into the cemetery.
All around him, thick grey gravestones stared back at him like blank faces as he passed through the aisles, the familiar crunch of leaves underneath his feet the only sound. The abundance of tall trees cast shadows all around, placing each sleeping soul in a soft darkness. Far ahead, in a circle of young trees that stretched for the sky, there was a small grave, bathed in shimmering light. The headstone stood out in a virgin white, polished and cleaned as if it was put there recently.
Aster quietly advanced towards it, taking a shaky breath as he sat on his knees, placing the bouquet carefully in front of it.
He whispered, "Hey there sweetie, look what I brought ya. I-I know you don't like pink, but... But I know you like lilies..."
The wind rustled slightly, shaking the leaves in front of him as if it were a response.
"I just wanted to come visit you before work. I know you hate it when I'm busy, s-so that's why I came early... Oh, and by the way, I-I'm trying to quit smoking. I'm sorry about doing it in the first place, but I guess I just picked up the habit after you..."
He let out a sigh and brushed his thumb over the dates, from 2000 to 2008.
"I-I just wanted to tell you...happy birthday... You would've been 13 today, love..."
The minute that word slipped past his lips, tears welled up in his eyes, breaking past the barrier as they slipped down like rain drops, plopping against the earth with thick thuds. Any strength he tried to build up all morning deteriorated within seconds, as he choked back sobs threatening to come out. Breathing became a chore, his damaged lungs taking the toll of the pain racking through his body.
"I'm... I'm so sorry, love... I'm so sorry..."
He wrapped his arms around the gravestone, resting his head on top of it, salty tears staining the white stone with black spots. He tried to pretend what he was holding was warm and alive, hugging him back. But all he felt was a ring of iciness encircling him.
The filtered sunshine speckled around the ground waved as a breeze shook the branches above, making the yellow splotches dance around and whip back and forth across his back. He tried choking back the sobs, the sounds similar to an animal in pain, but they continued to push him down and fly out of his weakened lungs. That is until he heard other voices infiltrate the silence and bring him out of his state.
Quickly sitting up, Aster wiped his tear stained cheeks and gave the grave a weak smile, before leaning over and pressing his lips to the top of the stone in a chaste kiss.
"I-I'll try to visit you more often, love. I promise." He said, standing up and giving the smooth surface an affectionate rub. "I've got to get going now. Just remember that I love you and I'll see you again real soon."
Backing away, Aster offered the grave a small smile and a wave as he fixed his coat, strolling out of the cemetery with that heavy feeling weighing down his chest now gone, replaced with an odd sense of relief.
Taking in a deep breath, Hiccup strolled into his new workplace, trying to seem confident even though he felt like jelly about to plop on the floor. Today was officially his first day on the job, and he prepared himself the night before to the point where he was ready for anything. Literally anything. Like if a zombie outbreak just happened to start in the middle of work, he would know what to do. Or at least know how to make it out alive.
Swallowing down those damnable little butterflies that tried to surface once more, he made his way to Mr. Ostern's office, repeating a mantra of "you can do it" and "don't screw this up" to himself.
With a knock at the door, the man on the other side granted him entrance and gave him a cheery grin upon seeing the boy as he walked in, helping alleviate some of the nervousness.
"Good to see you Henrik! I hope you're ready to begin work?" The director said with a kind smile as he stood up from his desk.
Gluing his hands down to his sides, he nodded and cleared his throat, "Y-yes sir."
"Are you nervous?"
"...a little bit."
"Aw, that's okay, son. You've just got a case of the first day jitters."
The man gave him a hearty pat on the back, nearly toppling the boy over as he handed him a small name tag, the words 'Assistant Curator: Henrik Haddock' printed on it in bright, gold letters.
"Okay, son, you're going to be heading down to the new Nordic exhibit and check in with the chief curator you'll be working under. His name's Daniel, not much older than you. He should help you get settled in a jiffy."
Hiccup looked down at the name tag in his hands, swallowing down a small lump forming at the back of his throat.
Chief curator? Crap, he totally forgot about him.
"Alright, just head back down this corridor and into the main lobby, down into the modern art exhibit, then take a right and keep straight. You should be able to find it from there." The man said with another hearty smack to the boy's back as he ushered him out of the office, sending him off with a wave and a smile.
Stiffening his wobbly spine, Hiccup pinned the name tag to his vest and followed his set path, keeping his head down as that small voice in the back of his head griped on about who might this Daniel be. He was supposed to be around his age, so he didn't really know what to expect. Maybe he'd be like one of those hipsters and try to sound profound and wise, when in reality he didn't know shit. Or some pothead who would sneak off and smoke behind the building, leaving everything to him. Most importantly, would he be nice, or parallel his cousin Snotlout to a T? He prayed to every single god he knew that it wouldn't be the latter...
The Nordic exhibit lie dead ahead, it's bold letters overhead crafted out of driftwood and scrawled with runes. Creeping in with the stealth of a mouse, Hiccup curled his fists against his chest, keeping an eye out for anyone else in there. Scanning over a few items, he was pleased to see ancient leather shoes and rusty daggers sealed underneath glass cases and authentic viking helmets set on their own stands. As he looked over a mannequin wearing old, Scandinavian clothing, he remembered the tales his father used to tell him as a child. He would tell him about gruesome beasts covered in scaly armor that could eat men whole, and of the brave Vikings who battled them to their dying breaths. Well, the good thing about working here was that it reminded him of home.
With a smile, he looked over the other items thrown about the room, until his eyes fell on an item in particular which brought about an unnerving sense of familiar dread. It was a painting of a bloody, scarred warrior, with glowing yellow eyes and a ghastly grin, showing off his bloodstained teeth. At the bottom of it, there was a label that read in English and runes: Draugr.
This creature was also part of his childhood stories, but not in a good way. His father told him about it one night, when he was caught sneaking out in the dark. He said that young children who went out in the dead of night were easy prey for the Draugr, a Viking zombie that had the strength of a hundred men and killed for pleasure. The tale worked and kept Hiccup inside for many nights after that, until one fateful night when he was 13 and Snoutlout and the twins decided to pull a prank on him, which involved his cousin dressed as the creature and hiding under his bed. Suffice to say, it scarred him for life.
Hiccup felt a shiver crawl down his back as he stared into those grim eyes, until he felt something crawling down his shoulder.
A whisper ghosted across his ear, "What are you doing here?"
Letting out a shrill gasp, he flailed his arms and turned around, clutching his heart when he found himself face to face with another person instead of a beast ready to chop his head off.
It was a boy around his age, maybe a little older, with long, red hair pulled back into a short braid at the back of his head, and eyes so dark they could put Norman Bates to shame. He had a long face and his lips were pressed into a thin line as he scowled and crossed his arms across his chest, scrutinizing the boy in front of him.
Stammering, Hiccup managed to calm his palpitating heart and say, "Uh, I-I'm looking for Daniel?"
The deranged-looking delinquent flashed him a murderous smile and growled out, "That would be me..."
Aaaaaaand there went any hopes Daniel could be a nice guy...
"Oh..." Hiccup stood straight and brushed himself off, extending a hand to the man with a sincere smile, "I'm Henrik, the new assistant curator."
Ignoring the gesture, the other man just looked at the boy and huffed, "So you're the fresh meat, huh?"
"I-I beg your pardon?"
"First thing first, kid." He began, folding his arms behind his back as he stalked back and forth in front of the boy like a tiger, "Don't call me Daniel. I will also not accept 'Danny' or tolerate 'Danny-Boy'. Call me those things and I will gladly skin you."
He pulled Hiccup forward by the shoulder and leaned in close, pointing a finger in his face, "You may call me Daniel in front of our boss, but for the rest of our time together, you may only refer to me as Dagur. Understood?"
"Understood?" The redhead growled, pressing his sharp nose against Hiccup's as he gripped the front of the boy's collar.
"Good!" The look on Dagur's face softened to something akin to kindness as he folded his arms behind his back once more and backed away. "Second thing: I own your ass, so don't even think about giving me lip. If you wanna be bumped up, then you do what I say, when I say it. Got it?"
"Since you're a newbie, I'll go easy on you today and show you the ropes. Try to keep up because this ain't no kindergarten class, kid." He gave the boy a passive-aggressive pat on the back as he ushered him out of the room, a sadistic grin curling on his cheeks.
Hiccup forgot to include 'deranged redheaded lunatic' in his list of things to be ready for.
Out of dozens of towering skyscrapers, stark against the skyline, stood a massive tower made of black glass. It grew and curled against the clouds, feeding on the shadows it casted over the city, swallowing any hopes of escaping its sight. In slick, curvy letters, the words "Black Industries" shimmered in the sunlight across the front of it.
At the base of the structure, a slick, black Jaguar pulled up in front of the entrance, its engine growling as a uniformed man opened up the back door, bowing his head as a man in a sharp, black suit slipped out. His slick, raven hair shined in the sunlight, and his greyish skin had an aura that read of pure deviousness. Everything about him sang 'dastardly mastermind'; the way he swaggered into the building, making everyone look down out of both submission and fright as he passed through the lobby and into the elevator, causing the receptionist on the top floor to squeak as he passed by.
"G-good afternoon, Mr. P-Pitchiner..." She mumbled, a mousy girl who cowered beneath her enormous glasses. He passed a small glance over at her, causing her to release another squeak, before heading to the end of the hallway. In front of him stood a mammoth, ebony doorway, which he opened to reveal a massive office.
Stepping in, he released a sigh as he trekked along the carpet through the gloomy room, until he reached the desk and grabbed a remote control, flicking a button and causing the blinded windows to open, letting light creep in. He took a seat at the half-circle shaped desk close to a window, giving him a perfect view of the city he would eventually claim as his.
Curling a finger under his chin, he allowed a content smile to slip on his thin lips. All of Burgess would be his one day.
Every business owner would bow down and allow his sharp claws, dripping with oozing blackness, to capture and consume until the city was nothing more than pitch black. Nearly half of the city's business owners already have.
All, except one. The smile faded as the thought of that one, particular person who was just prolonging the inevitable crawled into his head. Nicholas St. North was a stubborn man. This he knew all too well. But even the toughest of mountains come crumbling down eventually...
His thoughts adverted to the others working alongside him. There was that insufferable Aussie who had a bit of an overbite, the chipper bird who looked like the rainbow splattered all over her, the golden mute (whom he disliked the most because of personal reasons), and the newest one, Jack Frost. He paid particular attention to the youngest member of the man's crew, with a head of white hair and the attitude of a child. His spies had told him that the old Russian had a soft spot for him, so perhaps there was a weak link in his midst that he could easily crack open given the right opportunity.
He pushed the intercom button and spoke as clear as thunder, "Sarah!"
On the other end, there was an audible squeak as the girl scrambled to answer, "Y-yes, Mr. Pitchiner?"
"I need you to do me a favor."
"What d-do you need, sir?"
"I need you to collect all the information you can on a young man by the name of Jackson Frost."
Faintly glowing against the cosmos, besides a few weak stars that dared to shine above the city, the moon took its spot in the sky. It slowly creeped, casting its gaze over everything it could as the world beneath it pumped like a heart. It peered into every crevice, finally settling over an apartment complex as a young man with wispy white hair unlocked his front door and slumped inside, releasing a yawn the minute he closed it.
Jack stretched backwards, feeling the pops in his spine before hunching over and walking to the couch, crashing down on his face. It had been an awfully long day.
Including his little favor this morning, Jack went directly to work afterward and was not in the least bit glad to find a group of sorority girls all asking for their house logo or something from him. I mean, he probably would've enjoyed being able to touch so many girls at once, but the noisy birds were chittering away like canaries. Not to mention, they always found something to either point out or complain about. Later on, a few drunken businessmen came in, a few with neckties tied around their heads, and asked for some ridiculous things in ridiculous places. One guy asked for an Oprah quote above his right butt cheek, another wanted some Chinese serenity symbol on his chest, and the last one (who was probably the most inebriated) demanded a rainbow dolphin on his face.
Suffice to say, Jack did them, but he purposely butchered them for the hell of it. The Oprah quote was turned into one by Dr. Seuss, the "serenity" symbol he wrote actually meant 'ass monkey', and the rainbow dolphin remained a rainbow dolphin. That was a opportunity Jack absolutely couldn't pass up.
It was funny earlier, but now he couldn't give two shits. His hand was stiff and cramping, a fat, ugly blister forming on his middle finger. His shirt was stained in booze, sweat and wet ink from one of the businessmen who decided to give him a hug as thanks, directly after he was finished. And to top it off, a gross bruise formed on his thigh from a few of the girls who were bickering in the shop and spilled a bottle of water, causing him to slip.
All he wanted to do now was melt into the sofa and stick his hand in the freezer. That is, until his phone began vibrating in his pocket.
"Ugh... fuck me." He groaned, flipping over to fish the damn thing out, wincing as he looked at the bright screen.
A new message... from Baby Tooth. Fantastic.
Punching in the code with glazed eyes, he read it out loud, "Hey frosted flake, u up to anything?"
He quickly typed back, "I'm busy dying. Call back tomorrow."
"Aww, what happened?"
"Long day, what you want?"
"Why don't u give your little dragon boy a call?"
Jack's eyes shot wide open and he sat up, arching a brow at the words in front of him.
"Come on, dude. He's probably had a long day too, why don't u give him a quick call?"
"...what are u up to?" He leered at the device, bringing it closer to his face.
"Nothing. I'm going out, and I don't want u to get bored without me, my little snowflake ;p."
Before he could respond, another message beeped and read, "Catch you later, prince snowball. Tell your gay lover I said hi!"
A sigh of defeat escaped his lips as his head lolled back onto the couch. Maybe calling the kid up wouldn't be such a bad thing, right? They've talked over the phone before and that conversation went well, for the most part, so this wouldn't be a stretch.
Before his head could catch up to the rest of him, his fingers were already scrolling through his contacts, finding one person in particular and hitting the call button without a second thought.
The cool, breezy night air washed over freckled skin and shook brunet hair back and forth. A pair of green eyes shimmered and reflected city lights, casting their gaze over the line where the sky and the plethora of buildings crashed together.
Resting his cheek in his hand, Hiccup carefully listened to the snores pouring from inside, he being the only one in the household awake. Tomorrow the twins would be heading back home, mostly because they missed their two-headed snake. Soon after that, Fishlegs would be off too, then eventually, Astrid. It wasn't easy having to stay and watch his only friends leave, back to the world where he truly belonged. Not that he was regretting moving here, or anything...
Sighing, he opted to head back inside until he felt something vibrating against his backside. Quirking a brow, he reached into his back pocket to find a familiar number flashing on his phone's screen. With an odd twinge growing in his stomach, he hit answer and pressed the device to his ear.
"Good evening, Dragon Boy!" He heard Jack say on the other end.
Silently sniggering, Hiccup said, "Well of it isn't my lovely husband."
"Hehe, you really think I'm lovely?"
"Yes, Jack. You're awful purty."
"Aww, aren't you sweet. But there's something I've been meaning to ask you."
"What is it?"
He heard Jack pause, taking a breath before speaking, "If we're engaged, how come you haven't put out yet?"
"Pfft! Oh gods... Jack, I wouldn't sleep with you for all the money in the world."
"Hmm... how about five bucks?"
"How about no?"
He groaned, "Oh come on, Hiccup. I'll show you a good time! And I'll even throw in a coupon for some orange juice!"
"Hm, as tempting as that sounds, I'm gonna have to decline."
"Aw, fine. But you're missing out on all this, buddy!"
"Mm, yep. It's a shame, really. I'm missing out on shagging with a bony teen who hangs out in a parlor all day and sticks needles in people."
He heard the other boy guffaw, "Oh please! You're the one with the bony ass!"
"Then how come you wanna get me into bed with you, hm?"
"Well, I..." He could he the other boy gulp and shift around, "Huh, you've got me there, Lizard Tongue. I guess I've got a fetish for nerdy fishbones with pretty eyes~"
Tugging at his collar, Hiccup felt a small heat grow along his cheeks. Trying to switch the topic, he blurted out, "So! Uh, Jack..."
"I've got two things to ask you."
"Ask away, Dragon Boy."
"Why do you know where I live?"
"Oh, heh... To be clear, I'm not stalking you or anything. That girl who was helping you move in with your friends a while back told me. She came in and talked about a 'Dragon Boy' moving nearby and I was a little curious, is all..."
"Ooh... that explains a lot."
"So, what was your other question?"
"Um... on the first day I really got settled in, I remember being on my balcony and I saw this guy with white hair looking up at me... That wasn't you, was it?"
The breath in Jack's throat hitched as a memory flashed through his head, of freckled skin and auburn hair bathed in amber light.
"Shit... T-that was you?"
"Yeah? You really scared the shit out of me, dude."
"Sorry, I do weird things when I'm drunk. Once I accidentally ended up in Canada with a Sesame Street sticker on my forehead."
Hiccup let out a loud snort, slapping a hand over his mouth as he looked behind him and listened to the snores.
"For the love of Eir, Jack! Are you a frat boy?"
"Pfft, maybe. Wanna go on a panty raid some time?"
"Uh, no thanks."
"Hmm... Then how about we just hang out?"
Hiccup paused and blinked. Quirking his brows, he felt that odd twinge in his belly once more when he answered back, "Hang out?"
"Yeah, you know? Hang out? It's this thing people do when they wanna be friends and shit. I guess you wouldn't understand since you were raised by cats."
"Hehe, for your information, I was raised by sheep."
Jack snorted and snickered into the phone, "So what do you say, Sheep Boy?"
"I-uh... Y-yeah, sure. Why not? Unless you're planning on getting me drunk and tricking me into going to Vegas with you so we can act out The Hangover."
"Aww, damn. Well there goes my weekend plans."
"How about you show me around a bit tomorrow, and we'll see where the day goes."
"Sounds good to me, Fishbone."
"Heh, alright then, Frosted Flake."
"Then I shall text you in the morning, Scaly Skin."
"I shall await your call, Snowball Sucker."
"Pssht-what?! What did you just call me? You cock-sucking little cu-"
Hiccup swallowed down his words and slowly turned around to find a very pissed-looking Astrid in the doorway to the balcony in her pjs, scowling while she carried a pillow in her right hand.
"...I'm gonna have to call you back. Goodnight Jack."
"Goodnight my darling little Hiccup."
Without looking, he hung up and slipped the phone back into his pocket while the blonde slowly advanced, pillow raised above her head.
"Astrid look, I'm sorry if I woke you up- ow! Ow! Hey! Ah! For the love of-quit it! I think you've made your point!"
40 pillow slaps later and Astrid quietly went back inside, leaving a red and sore Hiccup on the balcony floor in the fetal position.
Oh my gosh! More notes from me! Whoopie, I am such a dork!
This entire chapter is made out of snippets of chapters I had worked on and deleted and other ideas thrown into the mix.
The title was inspired by the movie Pulp Fiction, which I'd recommend to anyone who has yet to see it. Warning though, it's not for the faint of heart.
And I cannot take all the credit for this. My beautiful and amazing partner helped to review for me beforehand and inspire a few parts, mostly the last scene. It's a true fact that he has the tendency to call me Dandruff Flakes, while I return with Dragon Breath. But then again, he really is the Hiccup to my Jack.
Speaking of which, Ian if you're still reading this, I hope all my stupid jokes made you laugh because you are truly my inspiration. I honestly love you with all my heart and I know I've said this a million times, but I'll say it again because I want to:
Will you marry me?