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Rated: 13+ · Fiction · Fanfiction · #2275053
On the advice of her friend Ruffnut, Astrid applies for a summer job.
Author’s Note: The rights to How to Train Your Dragon remain with Cressida Cowell and Dreamworks. Only the plot is mine.

I’m sorry, but it’s true.

§ § §

Astrid opened the door reading “Berk Summer Theatre.” Ruffnut claimed this place was hiring, and to talk to someone named Hiccup.

The office was a narrow rectangle, painted half in industrial gray and half in primer. The card table held a phone, a pencil jar, and an appointment planner. Taped to the table was a note reading Please Ring For Service. Astrid rang the desk bell and waited for a minute, before hitting it again. “Hey. I’m here for the job. My friend told me to find Hiccup.” She moved to the closed door behind the table and started pounding. “Is anyone in there? I’m looking for Hiccup!”

“I’m Hiccup.”

Coming through the door behind Astrid was a guy her own age, wearing black jeans and a vintage Ghostbusters t-shirt. Ruffnut said he had green eyes and nice shoulders. Tuffnut had described him as a freckled fishbone with messy hair.

This was Hiccup, all right.

“Once I put this down, I can help you.” He dropped a soft-sided cooler on the floor and grabbed the planner, before plucking a mechanical pencil from the jar. “Let me get some information. What’s your name?”

‘Astrid Hofferson.”

He wrote it in the planner. “Have you been here before?”

“No, I haven’t. A friend recommended I try this place. I’m looking for a job.”

“Gotcha. Today we have Thor, Apollo, Odin, Ares, and Mars available. Tomorrow I’ll have a better selection, if you want to pick one today.” He pulled a packet out from beneath the phone. “Booking your deity in advance gives you the opportunity to choose from a greater number of heroes.” He handed Astrid the packet. “Gods and goddesses are on the first page.”

Astrid cut off his spiel. “I am,” she enunciated, “searching for employment. I need work, and heard this place has an opening. I don’t want a god, I want a job.”

He looked up. “You are? You do? I’m sorry about the mixup. Yes, I’m hiring. We’ve been cursed with success, and don’t have enough staff. Come with me and and we can talk.” He turned the knob and said, “Watch your step, it’s a little cluttered.”

The door opened onto chaos. A mad-eyed rocking horse was draped in belts and scarves. Clown shoes and rainbow afros poked out of a box labeled Cat Toys. One of the tables was buried under bedspreads, tin snips, drill bits, and fake fur.

Amongst the tumult, Astrid spotted a wig on the floor. The hair was golden and roughly three feet long. Astrid picked it up. “Hey, Hiccup? What do you want me to do with Rapunzel?”

Hiccup looked back. “Actually, her name’s Sif. You can put her,” he scanned the room, “on that.” He indicated a plastic skeleton, and Astrid hung it up.

“Thanks. Now you’ve seen the place, what do you think?”

“There are no words for this room.”

“Well, anarchy fits. How about the unholy marriage of a hardware store and a craft supplier? Like a bunch of thrift stores committed suicide? Is it the square root of insanity?” Hiccup grinned at her. “Go on, I can take it.”

“All of it, plus garage sale leftovers and estate sale rubbish.” She picked her way through the morass. “Is this part of the interview?”

“No, I wanted to see your reaction.” Hiccup led her to a workbench. “If you want lunch, I’ve got extra. Allow me to clear a space for us.” Hiccup shoved most of the clutter aside, but moved the drafting tools to a second workbench, handling them as if they were precious. Maybe to him, they were.

Definitely a dork.

He pulled sodas out of the cooler, and took one for himself. “Berk Summer Theatre provides street performance. The performers play roles as gods, goddesses, legends, and famous people. We portray Greek, Roman, and Norse gods, Robin Hood, Joan of Arc, Roman soldiers, Amazons, Viking raiders—the menu lists them all.”

“Who pays you for this?”

“We have an existing contract with Berk for five to ten players a week. The players walk around downtown, talking to people and trying to drive foot traffic to shops and restaurants. We answer questions, tell them about outdoor concerts, Berk’s summer festivals, and where to find ice cream and good air-conditioning.”

“I bet that’s popular.”

“It is. We ask people to fill out a little card if we helped them or they enjoyed our company, “ he said. “Gotta justify the job.”

“How long are the shifts?”

“One or two hours. We also have businesses hire us. A gym hired Thor to stand outside, look muscular, and talk to everyone he could. Our Thor is a chatty guy who’s into physical fitness, and preaches it because he cares. It’s unscripted, and more people are trying out the gym. He’s there about once a week. Venus—Roman goddess of beauty—passes out coupons for hair stylists or beauty products. Demeter, the Greek goddess of agriculture, works the farmer’s market. Stuff like that.”

“What roles do you play?”

“Harried costume maker, prop designer, and manager of this madness. I spend most of my time here, when I’m not picking up food.” He pulled three sandwiches out of the cooler. “Take one.”

She chose the chicken salad. It was good, with the right amount of celery, and a touch of paprika in the mayonnaise. “What’s the pay for this?”

“The job pays minimum wage, but you can work for up to twenty-five hours a week. Most of the people who work here are our age, and you can hang out here between gigs. Besides that,” he added, “you’re perfect.” He froze. “For the job, I mean. For the job.”

“Oh? Why is that?” Hiccup was cute when he got embarrassed.

“You’ve got great hair. A lot of people find blonds attractive, and long hair fits in anywhere. Plus,” Hiccup gestured to her, staring directly at her face, “you’re comfortable with sleeveless clothing and form-fitting stuff.”

Astrid looked down at herself. The tank top was lower cut than the ones Astrid owned, and the skort—oh, gods, it clung to her. She was going to kill Ruffnut.

“Not that I’m asking you to wear tight things, I’m not, it’s just easier for wardrobe purposes. I mean, you don’t need any help looking good, well, great.” Hiccup ran his hand down his face. “I’m gonna shut up now.”

He was full on blushing, and Astrid couldn’t resist teasing him. “Would it help if I wore something tighter next time, for wardrobe purposes? I’m sure Ruffnut has spandex I can borrow.”

“Tuffnut’s sister? Yeah, she’d own spandex. She bought me these jeans, and made Tuffnut report whether I wore them to work. I finally did, and you showed up. I usually avoid dressing,” he crinkled his nose, “like this.”

Astrid began laughing. “Ruff threw these clothes at me, told me to put them on, and kicked me out to apply here. You only got tight jeans. I’m the one wearing ‘sleeveless and form-fitting.’”

He was drinking when she said that, and he sprayed soda out his nose. It set her to laughing again, and Hiccup joined her until they were wheezing.

“Want to help me plot revenge?” Astrid ate a bite of her chicken salad.

“I can do that. So,” Hiccup said, a little more serious, “are you taking the job? You did say you’d come back.”

Getting paid minimum wage wasn’t much, but the job sounded cool. She liked Hiccup; he was funny, and awkward, and easy to be around. He filled out the jeans nicely, too.

“When do I start?”
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