Back at the camp, Haru, ‘Bella, and Astrid were trying to coax Jack down from the trees. The drider seemed to be spooked by Rin’s earlier hostility. It took Hiccup attempting to drag himself towards the tree for Jack to finally come down.
"Why do you think Rin would attack you like that, Jack?" Astrid asked when everyone settled down, "I mean, he was nervous around your kids, but he looked ready to kill you!”
Hiccup bit his lip and looked anxiously up at Jack. He had a pretty good idea of what might’ve happened. Jack wasn’t always a good guy, after all. Hiccup squeezed his mate’s arm reassuringly before asking,
"Jack… is Rin one of the people who wandered into your territory before?”
The others looked attentive, not quite understanding why that was so important. Isabella fidgeted nervously with her hands; she didn’t like it when her friends fought. Astrid’s eyes narrowed thoughtfully; she was pretty sure what Hiccup meant, but didn’t want to jump to conclusions. Haru’s hands clenched in his lap. He also had a pretty good idea of what was going on. Jojo was the one who said what no one else wanted to.
"It would make sense for Rin to attack you if you raped him first." He pointed out coolly, "It’s not like you had a reputation for being gentle with your victims.”
It took a while but eventually Jack made his way down from the tree with assurance that no one would try to kill him. He was still pretty shaken when he got down and would not let go of Hiccup who he had locked in a bear hug.
When the questions came up Jack paled even more than usual. Even the comforting squeeze on his arm by his mate did little to calm him down. But in the end it was Jojo’s statement that really hit the drider hard, making him cringe. Hiccup turned and glared at Jojo but the mouse morph only kept his gaze on Jack just like the others. Soon Jack gave a shaky sigh and pulled back from Hiccup and looked up, although he refused to meet any of the gazes of anyone.
"Yes," Jack said, clenching his hands tightly. "I’ve encountered him before in my territory…"
3 weeks ago, before Jack met Hiccup…
Jack had received word from his children that a human - possibly a newbie champion but it was hard to tell - had wandered into his territory, so Jack decided to investigate. When he saw the human - Rin - he looked worse for ware than the drider thought: he had bags under his eyes like he had barely slept in days, his clothes were ripped and covered in dirt, no armor and no visible weapon on him. Jack also thought he heard his stomach grumble from lack of food. Jack looked down at his arms, a few non-poisonous fruits in his arms, and thought he might as well give the newcomer a few and point him towards Owca where they could feed and shelter him.
However when he got close Rin only freaked out. Jack offered him food that the human knocked away from him (“It could be poisoned!” he yelled at him) and proceeded to either try and run away or attack the persistent drider (“I’m only trying to help you,” Jack would say). Jack figured that Rin must have encountered another drider - one of the corrupted ones and got spooked - so he was very distrusting of him, but Jack could not leave him alone in the forest with horny imps and tentacle monsters wandering around.
Jack and his children caught up to Rin who had managed to get a hold of a chest containing the clawed gauntlets and tried to fight back. Jack was quickly getting irritated and was tempted to leave the human to his own demise, but one of his children got too curious and got too close for comfort to Rin. He lashed out and kicked the 2 week old drider hard, almost killing him. That instantly set off Jack’s parent instincts and he attacked Rin. He was not hard to take down and soon Rin was trapped under Jack’s drider body, looking up at him in wet eyes filled with fear.
"You will pay for that…" Jack growled and…
Jack trailed off from there, looking down at the ground out of guilt and shame. Hiccup had a shocked look on his face, yet he understood to some extent why he resorted to violence. Everyone else had either looks of disgust, shock, fear or a combination of them all for the drider who sat before them. The children all sensed their daddy’s distress and cuddled up with him, cooing softly.
"I understand why you would want to hurt Rin if what you’re saying is true," Astrid started levelly, "But there is a line that shouldn’t be crossed. Even in Mareth…"
Sometimes Hiccup really hated how truthful Astrid could be. She always had a strong moral compass and always had a clear understanding of why people did what they did. It wasn’t always nice to hear what she thought. Hiccup could feel Jack tensing with his entire body. He was aware that he’d done horrible things, and he was trying to make amends for them, but sometimes the road to redemption looked so long. Astrid wasn’t exactly helping, but she was right. There were some lines that shouldn’t ever be crossed.
"We should look for Rin." Hiccup suggested quietly, "Well, you should look for Rin. I’d only slow you down.” He amended with a half-smile.
He could talk to Jack in private when everyone was gone. The drider definitely needed someone to be there for him now.
Even though Jack kept his gaze on the ground he could still feel the looks of everyone on him and it felt like rocks being piled on top of him while he was underwater with how heavy and suffocating it was. The drider was even sure that Jojo was shaking his head in a judging manner and that Isabella thought even less of him than before. Soon Jack let out a shuddering breath, but he was far from relieved.
Then the drider stood up, his children watching him curiously. ”I will go look for him. He can beat me up, kick me, do what he wants if it will make him feel better, even though I know it won’t be enough…”
The entire time Haru watched Jack silently before he stood up next to him. ”I will go with you,” he said, gaining everyone’s attention. ”It’s best if it is only the two of us.” When everyone looked at him in confusion including Jack, Haru looked down in shame. ”It’s my fault that he is here in the first place. I need to take some form of responsibility for what happened. And while it was not as bad as what you did -” Again, Jack flinched when Haru looked up at him, making the drider want to look away but he didn’t “- I hurt Rin once before, so I know how you feel…”