Stoick is sick of a sixteen year old Hiccup and Toothless fighting.
|AN: This is a work of fan fiction based on How to Train Your Dragon. The rights to How to Train Your Dragon reside with Cressida Cowell and DreamWorks. Only the plot is mine.
I’m sorry, but it’s true.
§ § §
Stoick knew the long, warm days were a blessing from the gods. Berk buzzed with activity: planting, plowing, training, and building. The absence of dragon raids added to the busy atmosphere. It was a better time for Berk, and Stoick basked in the sunlight as much as anyone else.
If only his days were quieter.
Four hours of darkness made for a short night’s sleep; Stoick had always risen at daybreak, and his body resisted sleeping beyond then. Combined with the busyness of the season and the propensity of his tribe to seek him out for anything, he was becoming impatient. Today was worse than usual. It was Gripe day, and he had to call a halt to it when people returned to complain a second time. The council meeting dragged—there was drink to be had, and Mead Hall was cool and dark.
Tempers were shorter, and Stoick spent a great deal of time settling squabbles. He had become aggravated, and with the day ending as late as it was, he had to fight to constrain his temper.
He was heading home now. Not to rest, though he would greatly appreciate some of that, but to contend with Hiccup and Toothless.
They were fighting, still. He had been forced to listen, and it was maddening to listen to the idiocy they could come up with. Stoick had already been forced to listen to Hoark and Phlegma argue over seaweed. Seaweed! Stoick chased them off, but the argument continued and he knew they would return to him tomorrow with the same complaint.
“Gobber, they are driving me mad. I cannot believe making peace with the dragons would make the long dats harder to bear.”
“You can’t go blaming the reptiles, Stoick. This is a stubborn tribe, and you go through this nonsense every year.”
“We have construction going on dragon stables, feeding stations, and perches for them.” Stoick rubbed the bridge of his nose. “The dragons are not making life easier.”
“They’re helping with every bit of construction. The building is going faster than before we had them here.”
“Aye.” Stoick admitted. “It’s the people on Berk who refuse to work together. I’ve dealt with more petty squabbles today than in the last three weeks.” The long days affected them all. The warm weather proved welcome, but the additional daylight left the Hooligan tribe tired, which led to every type of upset. Stoick heard it all, and was beleaguered by it all. “I have put the stick outside the door every time I am home, and that used to be much rarer.” The stick was as tall as Stoick, and easy to see. When it rested against his front door, no one was to bother him.
“About time you did more of that.” They stood at the foot of the slope. “I had an unusual morning. Want to hear about it?”
“No, Gobber, I do not.”
“Excellent. It started with your son, Stoick.”
Stoick groaned. Hiccup and Toothless were a separate headache, worthy of an ice block by themselves. He ought to listen—Gobber had tolerated his grumbling for weeks, and he needed to return the favor.
“All right, what did he do this time?”
“He came in this morning, right on time. Walked in through the back and began staring at that corner of the ceiling where I have the anvil. He does that when he’s thinking,” Gobber said, seeing Stoick’s confusion. “I did a lot of nothing much and waited to hear it. I’m not going to get in the middle of something important when he plans to speak with me.” Gobber shifted his weight off the peg—the stump must achy tonight.
“Tell me what happened next. That is, if you intend to finish this story.”
“Alright, alright, don’t get your undies in a knot. So, your son comes over and gives me this look where he wants something, but he’s nervous about asking. I make him spit it out, and he doesn’t want to work. I was considerin’ letting him have a half day anyway, so I tell him yes. But,” Gobber leaned forward, “he didn’t want to skip work.”
“You just said he did.” Three ice blocks, he needed three ice blocks tonight.
“Aye, but he didn’t want to leave the forge. He had this other project he wanted to work on. I told him he was on his own, and I didn’t want to hear a sound out of him. The amount of whinging I’m listening to because of that dragon of his, I’m about ready to take a vise and force his mouth closed.”
“What was he making?”
“I dunno, but he lost the put upon attitude and got straight to work. Muttered to himself, but never a word to me.”
“He had Academy business to take care of. Do you know if he finished before he went there?” Hiccup did not like wasting time, and Stoick expected his son to be finished by the time Dragon Academy needed hin. Except Hiccup had requested the entire day.
“That’s another thing. He canceled training, told everyone to skip it and do whatever they wanted. He always gives them a task. ‘Just because I’m throwing up and can’t teach does not mean you skip your rescue maneuvers practice.’” Gobber shook his finger and Stoick chuckled. That sounded exactly like his son. To cancel outright and tell them to goof off was not Hiccup, yet he did that.
“So I went to the council meeting, and when I came back to the smithy, he’d gone. Left two batches of nails, a stack of sharpened weapons, and a note thanking me. I haven’t seen him since.” He lifted an eyebrow at Stoick. “So, can you tell me what’s going on in his head? That wasn’t the Hiccup I know.”
“He had not been the Hiccup I know for five days, and I am fed up with him and Toothless both. Until a few days ago, they were inseparable.” Stoick the Vast ran his fingers through his beard. “This stupid quarrel is driving me insane.”
“Eh, give it time. You signed up for having a touchy teenager the moment Hiccup was born.” Gobber grinned. “I bet you never expected the Night Fury, though.”
They stood at the base of the slope; a score of steps upward was Stoick’s home. Haddock house stood two stories tall, an extravagance, but not unexpected for the home of a Viking chief. Stoick topped seven feet, and was four hundred pounds of girth draped in scale armor. A bigger house was a necessity, if only to avoid concussion.
“It’s a constant battle. I expect sarcasm and grumbling and moodiness, but this is excessive. Toothless is just as prickly as my son. I have two adolescents, and it’s maddening to live with them.”
“It can’t be that bad. They’re still talking to each other, aren’t they?”
“It’s all angry barking and growls from the dragon, and threats to destroy the tailfin from Hiccup.” Stoick gave a sharp exhale. “They tried to drag me into it. Toothless listens to every word I say, and becomes obnoxiously cooperate to aggravate Hiccup. Hiccup wants to drink, talk, and play King’s Table with me, and cut Toothless out completely. I refuse to accommodate either of them.” Stoick stabbed his finger at Gobber. “Do not tell me them talking is a good thing.”
“”Ah. So, there aren’t any signs of improvement?”
Stoick lowered his finger—none of this was Gobber’s fault—and answered his friend.
“It’s getting worse.” He set his jaw, remembering. “This morning, the altercation became physical, and I had to force them apart.”
“I have trouble picturing that. Not that I doubt you, it’s just unnatural. What happened?”
“They were on the top of the steps when Toothless swiped at my son’s legs and knocked him down all of them. Hiccup got up, and when Toothless She was near enough, kicked the dragon in the chin with his left foot.” The prosthetic was on that side, and Gobber saw his friend wince. “Hiccup called him the spawn of an eel-fed Skrill, and Toothless ripped his shirt open with the sharp bit of his tail. It left a long scratch.”
Gobber was looking more and more alarmed as Stoick spoke. “I never thought Hiccup knew half the curses he used on the dragon. I dragged him away before he could punch Toothless.”
Gobber gaped. Like Stoick, he believed those two would not hurt one another.
“I had to force them apart. I have not been that angry in years.”
“What did you do?”
“I told them to be silent, but they glared and snapped at each other as if I had not spoken. I had to grab Hiccup by the chin to make him face me. Toothless laughed at him and I clamped the dragon’s mouth shut.” Toothless was troublesome enough, but Hiccup had gone from being sixteen to six in a moment, and his immaturity was worse than the fighting. “I cannot recall the last time I snatched him like that—a half dozen years ago, at least.”
“I told them their behavior was abominable, and I was not putting up with it. If they were no longer friends, if they truly hated one another that much, I would separate them. I was not sharing a roof with them until one of them was gone, and I did not care who. I told them to stay out of my sight and left.” He pinched his nose. “Do you think it’s too much?”
“No, I don’t. This here’s a case of stubborn pride. It doesn’t matter what the fight was about. It’s gone from not being wrong to making the other one give in. Hiccup leads the riders, and Toothless is top dragon, and they’re fighting for control.”
“Do you think their friendship is broken?” A terrible thought, that was, and frightening. Much as Stoick wanted to deny it, they were two halves of a whole, and would remain broke if this kept on.
“They both need a solid kick in the arse. I’d drop them both on separate sea stacks and leave them there for a day. They’re not broken, just stubborn and stupid.”
“The lad came to the smithy this morning, begging to pursue some project of his own. He couldn’t focus on anything else, so I let him chase whatever idea was in his head. I figured it couldn’t hurt.” Gobber shifted, taking his weight off his pegleg. “What happened next?”
“I said I was weary of them and their stupid quarrel, and if they refused to make peace, I would separate them. I told them to keep out of my sight and left.” He pinched the bridge of his nose. “I do not want to evict anyone, even for a night, but it may become necessary. Do you think it’s too much?”
“No, I don’t. This here is a case of stubborn pride. It doesn’t matter what the fight was about any longer, so long as the other one gives in.”
“Could you come in? Perhaps another person would...” Gobber interrupted Stoick.
“Nuh-uh. I’m not getting between my apprentice and his dragon.” He stabbed his hook at Stoick’s chest. “You’re Stoick the Vast—Chieftain, Warrior, living legend,” Stoick snorted, “you can handle a couple of teen-agers without my assistance. Besides,” he said, “you can always kick them both out.”
“I’ll keep that in mind.” He entered the house, resigned to forcing another truce.
Several lanterns and the fire had been lit. As his eyes adjusted, he spotted subtle differences. The trestle table had been polished. The oak surface was smooth to his touch, and light reflected off the gloss. An unfamiliar tankard sat at his place.
It was made of iron at twice the standard dimensions, a proper size for Stoick. He hefted it. Stoick had not yet found a tankard that felt heavier than a thimble, but this one had enough weight to be comfortable in his hand. The rectangular handle ran almost the height of the tankard, with a breadth that allowed Stoick to fit all his fingers inside. The thick base made spilling his drink less likely.
One area sported the Clan Haddock crest. Other smaller engravings covered the metal: the chieftain’s cape, the dragon on his belt buckle, his warhammer. Beneath a silhouette of Stoick was an engraving of his helmet, and a tiny one of Hiccup’s, a matched set. The base had another silhouette, this one of his dragon Thornado. The rim was etched with a series of irregular ovals, the shape of Night Fury scales.
Beside it sat a quarter cask of mead, its scent reminiscent of roasting meat and stolen kisses. He placed it beside the tankard, and a memory from ten years past surfaced: Hiccup, the morning after he got in his first serious trouble, rising in darkness to clean and set out dagmal for Stoick. He had been shamefaced for the transgression, and distressed he had angered Dad. The actions were an apology, and a promise to be better.
Ten years on, his son made him a tankard.
Hiccup’s bond with Toothless was powerful, but his father had been there all his life. Stoick was Hiccup’s anchor, and his outburst had unmoored his son, forced him to think, and driven him to produce the tankard. Each etched line and curve was a show of contrition from a boy who regretted hurting his father.
Stoick heard the familiar clunk of a prosthetic. They descended the steps, his son’s shoulders hunched, and the dragon’s belly grazing the floor; both avoided his eye. They were two guilty children in trouble with the grownups, hoping for mercy and doubting their chances of receiving any. Stoick donned an impassive face, gave them a long look, and gestured them toward him. Hiccup swallowed, and Stoick hid his amusement.
“Hello, Hiccup. Toothless.” The dragon offered a tentative warble.
“So, how was your day?”
“It improved once I left the house.” Hiccup grimaced, and Stoick waited for him to fill the silence.
“Yeah. I’m, um, sorry about that. I...we...might have gotten carried away with the arguing, and insults, and...stuff.” He rubbed his neck. “We didn’t mean to upset you.”
“I’m glad it was not deliberate—a planned effort would have driven me to another island.” Stoick’s voice was dry. He looked at the Night Fury. “Did you want to add to that?” Toothless crooned and gave him a mournful look.
“Have you settled your differences?” Gobber was right; if they had not, both would sleep elsewhere.
“We made up, right, Toothless?” The dragon nodded, eager to confirm Hiccup’s statement. “We’re okay now. Everything’s fine. Please don’t split us up.” So, they were inseparable again.
“All right. I accept your apologies and hope this will not reoccur.” Their relief was palpable, and they were so pitiful he wanted to laugh.
“No, no, we won’t do this again. Toothless and I know better. Really.” Hiccup’s babble ran out, and they exhaled in unison.
“Good. There is one more thing.”
Stoick’s look softened. “This tankard is magnificent, Hiccup. It is the work of a master craftsman. I never expected to own so fine a thing. It is unparalleled and I am honored you made this for me.” He included Toothless; the two were a team, and the gift came from both. “Where did the mead come from?”
“The mead is from Toothless. He bartered for it.”
“What did you barter?” Toothless cringed and put a paw over his face. Hiccup cleared his throat.
“Toothless volunteered four hours of babysitting the Quartet.” The Night Fury moaned, and Stoick’s jaw dropped.
“Those hellions?” The two sets of Thorston twins, ages four and seven, were inventive and tireless daredevils. Most in the tribe preferred battling pirates; it was safer. “Then I am twice honored. Thank you, Toothless.” The answer registered, and he blinked. “This is Gerda Thorston’s special stock. She only breaks it out for Snoggletog.”
“Toothless can be pretty persuasive. So, do you like it?”
“It’s astonishing. I have never had so personal a gift, one so suited to me. I do not have the words, Hiccup.”
“I wanted the tankard to be exclusive. Other chiefs can wear the cape, or carry a hammer, but with you and Thornado on there, it can’t belong to anyone else. People can use it, and pass it down, but only Stoick the Vast can claim it. It’s yours. I thought,” he added quietly “it could be an heirloom.”
“I would like that. I am certain no Haddock has possessed such a thing, or it would have been kept with the legacy items. To own something made for my size...you have no idea how wonderful it is.” Hiccup, barely over five feet tall, remained silent.
“I guessed at some of the dimensions. I can change it, make it heavier or enlarge the handle. If you don’t like the engraving, it can be replaced with whatever you want.”
Toothless rolled his eyes. He and Stoick knew it was perfect, and Hiccup thought it needed work. “Do not change one thing. This cannot be improved. Are we clear?” His son put up his hands, surrendering. “Did you show this to Gobber?”
“I wanted you to see it before anyone else.” He rubbed his neck. “So, you like it?”
Stoick looked at the dragon. “If you would.” Toothless whapped Hiccup with an ear flap, and Stoick nodded his thanks. “I love it. It’s perfect. The engraving is amazing. If you make me say it again, I will slap you.” A look crossed Hiccup’s face, one Stoick first saw the day Hiccup cleaned the house. The boy was with his dad, everything was fixed, and the trouble behind them. Dad was pleased and proud, and life was good again.
“Hiccup. Come and sit.” His son acquiesced, and Stoick asked him, “Where is your mark? I cannot find it.”
“I left it off. My mark would take up space I could engrave. There’s blank spots, if you want to add...” Stoick held up his hand, silencing his son.
“Good. I have changed my mind. Add your mark, a new one that includes Toothless. Choose the most prominent place available. I want everyone to know this tankard was crafted for me by my son Hiccup and his best friend Toothless. A shared heirloom, down to the final generation of Haddocks.”
Hiccup gaped, gobsmacked, and the dragon almost knocked Stoick over in his excitement.
“Yes, you are welcome, now get down. Go on, back to the floor. Toothless, do not lick me. Ugh.” Stoick drew his sleeve across his face, and Hiccup intervened.
“Give him some space, bud. Come on, stop licking him—you know the slobber doesn’t come out easy.” Toothless got down and gave Stoick an apologetic look. Hiccup spluttered.
“You lick Dad once and apologize, but I get this all the time, and you laugh at me. Stop ruining my clothes, you useless black lizard.” Stoick chuckled, then realized something was missing.
Each night since his son was four, Hiccup poured his father’s drink when he returned home—ale for difficult days, and mead when the burdens were lighter. This week, Hiccup had been the worst of Stoick’s burdens. He wanted to mend things and act like an adult, so he might pour the mead.
Hiccup had grown older, but his character remained the same.
Stoick tapped the tankard and for the first time, Hiccup filled it and Stoick drank not a measure of alcohol, but of ease. Hiccup might fail, but he more often succeeded, and while he was young, he was becoming a man to be proud of.
“Now pour one for yourself.”
§ § §
In the DreamWorks franchise, Snoggletog is similar to Christmas.
A quarter cask is fifty liters or thirteen U.S. gallons.
Dagmal—”day meal”—is the Viking equivalent of breakfast.