Toothless' ears wiggle. Hiccup can't stifle a small giggle - The action is so easy to pair with that of his dragon's much larger ears perking up to listen for danger. The feeling of this is so instinctual, he clambers for Toothless' back even as the larger male drops to all fours for him... And instantly collapses under Hiccup's weight.
:Agh... When did you get so heavy?:
Hiccup groans. :I didn't, stupid lizard!:
:Bud; Hiccup makes an annoyed sound through his gritted teeth, :You're not big enough to carry me anymore:.
The footfalls echoing softly through the cave register to them both now, and Toothless snarls, the action now alot less menacing. Hiccup grabs his hand before his dragon starts a fight he cannot win. There has to be a way out of here, he hopes in desperation, there must be. He follows the feeling of cool air rushing towards him, Toothless starting to pick up pace right behind. Thank the gods he can run on two legs, he muses, and even in the rush of the moment sudden memories of Toothless carrying him to bed in the loving embrace of his forelegs coming back to him. Talented dragon.
A pained roar, and a flash of heat blasts the walls of the cave passage behind them. Toothless wraps his arm around his small viking and points ahead as they run over the cold stone.
:There. That's it!:
Hiccup's heart picks up, he can't help smile at his mate, and he throws himself through the small opening, straight out into blinding sunshine.
Hiccup ducks, and he feels his mate moving his body to shield him as he does. Normally it would be a wing, but now Toothless uses his entire torso. They go down in a heap, again, a whole body twice his weight pinning Hiccup down. If he wasn't so used to roughhousing his dragon the feeling of it would be unpleasant, instead it was expected.
This isn't the most pressing thing. The most pressing thing is whoosh - THUNK - ROOOARRRRRR noises that take place right above them. Hiccup pushes his overprotective sack of ... meat off and glances towards the sounds, only to see a huge male Night Fury howling in pain and thrashing against everything around him, including Hiccup and Toothless. Astrid yells and he glances in her direction - She's got a look of trademark anger, impatience and fierce determination, one he's seen a thousand times.
"Get your scrawny ass over here before that thing recovers, or the next axe is going in your head."
Hiccup pushes himself up with lithe muscles. He reaches for his partner's hand and finds it already extended for him to wrap his fingers with. The feeling of leading Toothless like this makes him shiver a little, even through the rushing adrenaline. Toothless took Hiccup's guidance easy, natural. But it was normally a tug at the harness or a command - wrapping their fingers together was both unsettlingly alien and amazingly personal. The feeling of grass brushing against his ankles, the sunlight, the blue sky, all aspects of the current world that pass by in a flash. They dive for the treeline and hear a fwooooshhhh~ as the field behind turns from foliage to fire.
"You knucklehead! You do realize your boyfriend is naked, right? And I'm not even going to ask how a dragon can... Ugh. Like I said before, I'm glad he took care of you. I'm.... Actually glad you're - ouch! - happy."
"Yeah, there's alot of low lying branches in these woods. Watch your step too, ground is uneven." Hiccup's voice is alot more nasally and awkward, but he impresses himself with how competent he sounds. Was this the result of a life on the run with a dragon, or just the pressure of this situation?
Hiccup jerks back as his handhold with Toothless is strained, and he sees his dragon tripping over a series of roots from the huge pines crowding this area of forest. He reaffirms his grip and hauls his mate forward with as much force as possible. Miraculously, Toothless regains his footing and maintains their pace.
After a seemingly endless run through the woods, they stop behind a massive oak and pause for breath. Toothless immediately slumps to the ground and awkwardly splays his body against the ground.
The dragon-human looks up at his partner with wide eyes.
"You can't do that kind of thing... Not when you're like this, look, you've grazed your skin right down the side of your body."
Toothless only gives a confused growl in response, but it turns gradually into a mewling sound as Hiccup brushes the debris off him.
"You still like old dusting off treatment, huh bud?"
It's not too long till the trio find a stream of clear fresh water to drink and clean their wounds. Hiccup is still amazed by the willingness of Astrid to share her supplies, the light backpack she brought efficiently and tactically packed in typical Astrid fashion.
Toothless winces each time the disinfectant touches his skin, causing Hiccup to stop and make the bigger male assure him he's okay. After this sequence repeats itself a few times, Astrid stomps over and barges between the two.
"Okay, look. No more whining, you're a dragon. A Dragon, for crying out loud to Loki."
She grabs Toothless in a headlock and with a few swift motions dabs the disinfectant over his scarring before he can barely react. As soon as it's done, she returns to the rock she was leaned against and continues running her sharpening tool over the fine edge of an axeblade.
Toothless' stomach rumbles, and his eyes go wide.
:Ahh! What's that? What's happening to me?:
:You dork; Hiccup replies, gathering his knives in either hand, :You're hungry, that's all:.
:I'll fish for Us. Hiccup needs to eat:.
:No Bud, Don't dive into the water and try to scoop anything up with your mouth:.
Toothless croons, relaxing against the tree, but still visibly admonished and cowed.
As Hiccup's staring at the fish darting through the water, his heartbeat begins to slow and his senses relax. That is, until a hand rests on his shoulder.
"Um, I know your boyfriend is... very fetching. But maybe we should find him some clothes?"
"The word is 'mate', Astrid. We're mates, because he's a dragon and I've become a dragon, because of him.."
He notices the effect his words have instantly. The touch on his shoulder grows cold, than withdraws.
"Yes, Astrid, I really. That's why I have these scales. It's why I live in the wild, why I spend every waking moment with him. It's why I roar sometimes, or growl. It's why I can speak to him in the dragon language, mindspeak, and it's why we share our dreams together."
There's a moment of silence. Hiccup slices his blade through the water and swoops it out with a fish on the end. He tuns to look at her, tense and riled.
"I thought you might be different. You might understand. But you're just like everyone else. Being with a dragon is wrong. Being with another male is wrong. I'm so sick of it."
"Hiccup, I don't-" She tries to catch his shoulder once again but he slips away, bringing one fish to the fire and another to Toothless.
"Uh, Do you want this cooked or r-"
Toothless leans forward and grabs the entire fish off the blade with his mouth. Hiccup lets out a small gasp, and he hears Astrid do the same behind him. As the large man struggles to fit the whole fish down his throat Hiccup starts to chuckle. Toothless can only drop the fish back onto the ground in befuddlement and tilt his head in a motion of questioning, as if asking the dead fish why it would not just slide down his throat as normal.
Hiccup picks the now saliva-coated morsel off the ground and adds it to the skewer. With an easy elegance, he goes through the practiced motions of preparing their meal. Fish is the staple food, easy, tasty, comfortable. He knows the smell and taste both from his entire upbringing, and from being the prominent factor in his mate's diet. Therefore, a fishy smell hardly registered to his nose anymore, and he enjoyed the smell and taste of it on Toothless' tongue. It linked so often with the taste of Toothless.
Astrid crunches her teeth on something in the background. Hiccup is curious enough to turn his head and look.
"It's so Astrid to have long-lasting biscuits packed."
Astrid makes a face. "Bite me."
Hiccup smirks. "Is that jealousy I hear coming from Astrid Hofferson?"
"Not in your life, fishbone," came the quick reply.
------------------- ~~ ---------------------
The rest of the day passed quite quickly, if not awkwardly, and they found the way to Astrid's camp with little difficulty. Over the course of an hour or so, Hiccup found he could exchange snarky barter with Astrid in a way that was not entirely unpleasant. With a bit of awkwardness and alot of stumbling, Hiccup helped Toothless into a somewhat ill-fitting pair of Astrid's spare clothes.
"Night Furies have a keen sense of smell, and are excellent trackers. It's best if Toothless and I keep moving. Our scent will be less distinguishable then too."
Astrid looks into the campfire she's been poking at with a stick for some time now. Her eyes look solemn. She brushes her hair aside, breathes out.
"I - I really do wish you all the best. I didn't... I didn't mean to seem so, y'know."
Toothless pads up to her. The crooning sound he makes is at once adorable and somewhat odd. He nudges against Astrid in a friendly gesture Hiccup knows all to well.
The lithe young man laughs. "That means he likes you, by the way."
Astrid wraps an arm around the Night Fury's head, tousling his great mane of black hair. Then, to Hiccup's surprise, she beckons him closer aswell.
Hiccup takes a few steps forward, then uneasily sits himself down on the other side of Astrid. Her other arm wraps around his neck, as powerful as ever. Her axe-throwing arm.
"Thanks. For everything."
"You too, Haddock."