(A/N: Sorry I haven't updated this in a long time - I just got back from a volunteer relief trip to help a city that was hit by a tornado, and it was amazing. Sadly, I got a bad cold the first day of the trip, but the trip was still just as fun :D I feel crummy and this chapter is crummy so I apologize for that.)
After the first race, dragon racing had become the new village entertainment, new matches announced almost weekly. The thrill of watching their tribe's most skilled dragon riders competing brought a sense of competitiveness and adrenaline to all the Vikings that scrambled to watch the games. The limited number of seats that were quickly constructed for the first race had now expanded well past vast rows of seats enough to compensate for the entire village, allowing them to get a clear view of the new painted goal baskets constructed for each competitor. Each individual rider's basket had a headboard with their respective dragon painted onto it, all with their own distinguishing color.
Entering in what would be their fifth race, Hiccup absently adjusted a strap on his flight suit while he lingered near the gaming arena entrance. Toothless, growing restless at the lack of movement, frequently nudged at his rider to go inside and prepare for the race. But as usual, Hiccup was too focused on his own thoughts and didn't respond. With a huff, the Night Fury plopped onto the ground and waited for an indication that they were going to make their way to the starting line.
Hiccup leaned against the stone wall as he scanned the pathway once more. Astrid always seemed to come a bit late, but he had no idea why. Probably to fly a bit with Stormfly to warm up. Ever since he and Toothless had won the past 5 races, she'd gone off to practice on her own to even out the competition. He didn't mind; he liked her competitive nature and he wouldn't be surprised if she ended up winning sooner or later.
A Nadder's squawk shook him out of his thoughts as his gaze snapped up to find Astrid casually walking up the pathway with Stormfly right at her side. Toothless perked up and instantly went to greet the dragon while Astrid made her way to him with a teasing grin playing on her face.
"Ready to lose today?"
Hiccup smiled and raised an eyebrow, straightening up. "Haven't you said that the past five races?" He chided, laughing when she lightly punched him on the shoulder.
"Today's different. I've been training with Stormfly all day yesterday and we're definitely going to win." Astrid declared, following Hiccup as he started to make his way inside. Their dragons, noticing the riders' departure, immediately followed excitedly, ready for another day of high intensity flying.
The twins and Fishlegs were already by the field where they all took off from, positioned near their dragons. Hiccup was surprised that Snotlout wasn't there yet; he always used to show up first and hype himself up to win the race before everyone else.
"Where's Snotlout?" Hiccup inquired, only receiving blank stares in response.
"Probably off trying to sabotage the race so he can win." Tuffnut replied nonchalantly, examining his nails.
Hiccup exchanged a look with Astrid before making his way towards an open patch of grass from where he'd take off. The buzzing of the crowd could be heard even from where they were, and it filled him with a sense of excitement that he always got before a race started. Toothless was by his side instantly, crooning with anticipation on taking to the skies. His hand reflexively began to scratch the Night Fury's head affectionately as he eyed the clear blue sky eagerly. Another perfect day.
"Everyone ready for some Hookfang to kick your butts?" A familiar voice shot through the brief silence that had fallen among the teens. Hiccup already knew who it was, but as he turned to greet his cousin, he froze, eyes widening in surprise. The other teens had a similar reaction, all gawking silently as Snotlout lumbered over with Hookfang in tow.
Snotlout smirked at their reactions, puffing his chest out proudly. His cheeks, chin, and forehead were striped with red and yellow paint, his Monstrous Nightmare colored in the same paint. It gave off a warrior like and prideful aura that the others couldn't help but admire.
"Woah, what did you do to your face?" Ruffnut blurted out, eyes still wide with fascination.
Snotlout grinned and made his way in front of Ruffnut, flexing his arms. "I did it for you, babe. Do you like it?"
Tuffnut grimaced at sidestepped away from the pair, gagging dramatically. Ruffnut scrunched her face in confusion again, slightly leaning backwards from the young Viking.
Hiccup stifled a laugh, unsure as to why Snotlout was suddenly making advancements on Ruffnut, but didn't make a comment on it. He had a more important question.
"Why the paint?" He spoke up, gaining Snotlout's attention as he lowered his arms and smiled triumphantly.
"Just wanted to get into the spirit of the race. We look cool, right?" He boasted, basking in all the attention he was receiving.
Hiccup couldn't deny that it was a good idea, and he grew more enticed by the idea of paint.
"That's a great idea, Snotlout!"
"I know right! … Wait, really?" The other teens looked just as baffled at the revelation. Snotlout with a good idea? That was rare.
The idea grew in Hiccup's head as he nodded animatedly, gesturing wildly with his hands.
"Yeah! We should paint ourselves and our dragons for the races, like Snotlout did! It makes things more interesting and gets us into the racing spirit!"
The others nodded thoughtfully, eyeing Snotlout as if he was a new species.
"Okay, but that doesn't change the fact that Hookfang and I are going to kick your butts." Snotlout retorted, trying to make his original intention clear.
"Oh really now. How exactly are you going to beat a Night Fury's speed or a Deadly Nadder?" Astrid challenged, crossing her arms.
"Hey, we're here too you know!" Fishlegs piped up, the twins noisily agreeing.
"This paint is what will win me the race! Also you can't forget that Hookfang is strong and can beat all you guys in the blink of an eye." Snotlout began to ramble, so immersed in his mini speech of how he'd win that he didn't near the warning signal that the race was about to start.
Hiccup smiled wryly, inching his way towards Toothless' saddle until he could smoothly hop on and open the tailfin. The other teens, realizing that Snotlout was too absorbed in his thoughts to notice, were also slowly climbing onto their dragons. He grinned at Astrid before nodding, and at the sound of the starting horn, took off swiftly, the other riders close behind. All except for Snotlout that is.
Snotlout yelped at the sudden takeoffs, coughing at the dust that had been disturbed in their wake.
"Hey, not fair!" He yelled angrily, jumping onto Hookfang's neck to join the others.
Hiccup was still the first to lead the pack, quickly diving low towards the ground to intercept one of the target sheep that was timidly making its way across a nearby field. Grabbing the sheep was easy enough, but the way Toothless suddenly tensed sent the warning that something else was coming.
Instinctively, Hiccup pulled Toothless into a barrel roll and felt Astrid and Stormfly rippling the air above them. He settled back upwards and grinned as Astrid pulled around to try again with a determined look.
"Let's show them a few of our own tricks, bud." Hiccup whispered, clutching the sheep as they flew past the roaring crowd. Toothless growled in agreement, flexing his wings fully as he pulled into a sharp turn towards the goal baskets. In one fluid motion, Hiccup flew upside down over his basket and dumped the sheep inside, being the first to score yet again.
"That's my son!" Stoick's voice could be heard booming from where he sat at the chief's chair, getting the best view of the game. Hiccup grinned and circled around towards the other teen's as they scanned for the other sheep.
"Nice try, Astrid!" He called out teasingly, sharing a smile with her.
"Oh don't worry, you haven't seen what we could do yet." Astrid called back, switching between staring at him and scanning the ground for more targets.
"My paint is winning me this game!" Snotlout repeated stubbornly, flying lower than the others to have a better chance of reaching the sheep first.
Hiccup chuckled, watching his cousin amusedly as he caught the wool of another sheep scampering behind a nearby house from the corner of his eye.
"Alright Snotlout, show me what you got!" Hiccup called as he dove down, rapidly narrowing the distance between him and the new target sheep.
Needless to say, Snotlout didn't win the game. But he did help start a whole new Viking trend when it came to dragon racing. All because of some paint.