A/N: AAAAAAANGST. :D I'm sorry, guys. It just occurred to me how similar the two battles were, and it occurred to me that, traumatized as Hiccup was sure to be from the Green Death, he was probably scared out of his mind when it came to that thing in the latest episode
"Hey," Astrid called cheerfully, "you missed the scrub-down. You should've seen it." She smiled lightly, waiting for Hiccup to react.
He didn't. He kept staring out to sea, like he was thinking hard. He'd been doing that a lot since the Whispering Death attack.
She urged her Nadder closer, and, when she got within touching distance of Hiccup, she slowly brought a hand up to his shoulder and tapped it.
He started slightly, flinching a little before relaxing and realizing it was only Astrid. "Hi." He gave her a smile, one that didn't quite reach his green eyes, which were filled with pain, like he was trapped in a memory.
"Hmmm." Astrid mused. "You wanna tell me what's going on?"
"What do you mean?" he asked.
"You haven't been…normal," she struggled to spit out the words. "Not since the attack, anyway. You've been sneaking off to be alone every chance you get for the past three days. That isn't like you, Hiccup."
Hiccup swallowed. They were reaching what he didn't want to talk about now. "It's nothing," he insisted.
Toothless knew his rider was lying, but he hesitated to point this out to Astrid. His human had been fluttering through states of nervous anxiety to out-and-out terror for the past three days and nightmares had caused him to wake up in spasms of panic every morning and sometimes in the middle of the night.
His human was sad and scared, but he was being incredibly close-mouthed about it, even around Toothless, which worried the Night Fury.
"It's obviously something," Astrid said quietly, and she slid out of her Nadder's saddle, leaning against Stormfly's side and fixing Hiccup with a piercing look. "Why don't you just tell me?"
Hiccup slowly and reluctantly slid off Toothless as well, leaning against Stormfly, too. Stormfly curled up, apparently quite content to let them rest against her, at least until she got bored, anyway, and decided to buck them away and fly off, but Toothless wasn't that at ease. He circled the young teens anxiously, watching Hiccup for any sign of sadness or fear, any sign that he needed Toothless and even if he didn't, that dragon was going to stay right there.
Hiccup kept staring out to sea, trying to form the words. "I just…I'm…" he took a breath and suddenly began talking, spilling out everything he'd been thinking these past few days. "I'm worried. I mean, I have a feeling we haven't seen the last of those things, for one. For another, I really don't care much about seeing Gobber be given a bath, not with how serious things are looking right now. For a third, nobody's been thinking about Alvin the Treacherous but me and it's driving me insane."
Astrid glanced at Hiccup, surprised. He normally never sounded so…angry.
But the boy clearly wasn't done. He finally had a listening ear and he had been aching to talk to somebody about Alvin the Treacherous for days. But although that was the subject he set out to discuss, what came tumbling out was, "And I know it sounds really weak, but Astrid, I'm scared."
"Scared?" Astrid turned to face her friend. "Why?"
He took a breath and drew his knees up to his chest, letting his head fall into his hands. "That dragon…it reminded me of the Green Death."
"Oh." Astrid caught her breath.
"See, I said it was stupid," Hiccup mumbled. "I can't sleep anymore, because I keep having dreams about it and it always ends the same way: Berk falls. Always."
He took another deep, shuddering breath and Astrid expected more, but nothing came out, so she spoke instead. "Listen, Hiccup," she placed a comforting hand on his shoulder, "anybody would be scared. You're scared, but you know what? You're still here, right?"
He glanced up at her, surprised. She gave him a tiny smile, and then punched him on the shoulder.
"It'd be scary for anyone," she told him. "I mean, think about it. You fought a dragon bigger than any in existence. If that doesn't take its toll on you, that doesn't show your bravery; that shows your stupidity."
He gave a small chuckle and she smiled wider, glad to see him happy once again. He ran his fingers through his hair and whispered, "I didn't mean to be so short with you guys these past few days. I'm just frightened. And really worried. But I shouldn't have taken it out on you guys."
"It's alright," Astrid whispered.
"I panicked," Hiccup said in a very quiet, emotionless voice, as if he were telling her his deepest, most shameful secret. "During that fight the other day, I panicked. I realized how close it was to my last one, and it scared me really badly. I wanted to fly out of there, but I couldn't. I just had to kind of bottle it up, and it's been trying to explode out of me in the worst possible ways since. I'm trying to be alone so I can deal with it myself and so I can really think everything through."
"That's okay," Astrid whispered. "You have to deal with it and you know what? That's okay. You don't have to be the strongest person all the time, Hiccup. You're brave and you're smart and you're strong – but even you need a few days to be weak."