Reckless: After Astrid blows up to a comment Hiccup makes, her overreaction has unforeseen consequences. Requested by aaquater. Set shortly after GotNF.

Chapter 20: Reckless

"Ugh! I can't believe this!" Astrid raged as she stomped into the forge. Hiccup watched her warily from his table, knowing that when she was in a mood, she got… well, to put it short, dangerous. He decided that the best thing to do right now was keep neutrality in the situation. It wouldn't do anyone well if there were two crazy people yelling at each other.

Step one of completing that: find out what exactly had made Astrid so angry. There were a lot of possibilities.

"What happened?" he asked, wiping off his hands on a rag.

Astrid whipped around, loose locks of her hair sweeping in front of her eyes. She brushed them away angrily. "You know how Ack asked me to look after his children while he and his wife went to go visit some relatives?"

Hiccup nodded. Astrid had mentioned it yesterday, and had seemed excited by the job offer. He couldn't remember all the details of what she had told him, but knew she'd been planning a long "night of fun" for them… which probably meant using each other as human targets - but that was how Astrid rolled. Everyone knew that.

"Well," she said sharply, "I looked after them, and even stayed over for the night. We had lots of fun. The kids were screaming nearly all the time, so, trust me - I know."

"Of course." He could hardly hold back a snigger.

"But when Ack and his wife came back…" Her voice grew more bitter by the second. "The kids - in tears, Hiccup, tears! - told them that I was the meanest Viking they'd ever met and that they had almost been killed because of me."

Hiccup was momentarily speechless, and looked down to hide his expression, pretending to be busy with his work. It was no secret that Astrid was harsher than most would expect of a teenage Viking girl, but it sometimes seemed like she didn't realize the extent of the damage she had done, or was capable of. Once again, Astrid had blended the fine line between fun and dangerous.

"So… you're saying that they didn't almost die, then?"

Astrid didn't speak for a few seconds. "We're Vikings, Hiccup," she eventually said in frustration. "It's an occupational hazard. Still… Ack had the nerve to say that I was… that I was too violent and - and unstable in my emotions!"

Hiccup froze and exchanged a wary glance with Toothless, who stood nearby. The dragon's head was cocked incredulously as he watched Astrid. Hiccup nearly laughed at his friend's expression, but got himself under control. He didn't want to seem insensitive.

Toothless glanced at the door, then back at Hiccup, as if asking if he wanted to go on a flight (and also escape Astrid's temper). When Hiccup shook his head, the Night Fury sighed, but didn't run off like his rider thought he would.

He was still a little amazed by Toothless's loyalty to him. Even though the dragon had refused the mechanical tailfin Hiccup had offered him last Snoggletog, he still struggled to wrap his head around the fact that Toothless had chosen to stay with him. It was a pleasant feeling, though, to know that someone actually wanted him around, however strange it actually felt.

Hiccup tore himself away from these thoughts and back to his conversation with Astrid. "Astrid… I'm sure Ack didn't mean it like that. I mean, everyone knows that you can be a bit over the top at times when you get into things. Danger is what you love… even if it can almost get someone killed."

If Hiccup had looked at Astrid's reddening face at that moment, he would've immediately taken a step back. However he was still trying to finish his work, unaware of how Astrid was taking his words. "Are you saying that I'm careless?" she said in a low voice.

"Wha…" Hiccup finally looked up at her, at last noticing her displeasure concerning what he had said. "No… no, of course not. I just meant…"

"What?" she growled. "What did you mean?"

Hiccup deflated. "Astrid, you're strong… you're brave, you're fearless, and that - that's wonderful… I just mean that it's no secret that you expect everyone to be the same way. But some kids just can't handle all of… you." It was the opposite of what Stoick used to tell him ("You need to change all of… this."). Hiccup hadn't been tough enough, but Astrid was too intense. Either trait had their ups and downs.

To Hiccup's horror, Astrid was now glowering at him. That was never a good sign.

"Oh, I get it. You do think I'm careless. Reckless. Irresponsible!" Her voice began to rise as she spoke, increasing to a shout. "Well, I'll tell you something, Hiccup Haddock - I'm not! I'm the most capable Viking around! I never expect too much - I'm just expecting what it takes to survive!" She began to storm from the forge, and Hiccup, too taken aback to protest, was unable to say anything.


With that last comment, she was gone, leaving Hiccup feeling stunned… and awful.

Abandoning his work, he collapsed on a nearby chair, shaken by what had just happened. Despite being the target of much yelling most of his life, to hear it coming from someone he thought was his friend was a shock. Toothless crooned at him, but seemed to understand that he needed to think.

He tried to make sense of the events, trying to figure out what he'd done wrong. He had told Astrid something he thought she knew - something that she had taken into serious offense. And when Astrid was offended…

"I ruined it," he whispered, horrified. He bit his lip. "I ruined it all. Astrid hates me now… even after taming the dragons… even after it all… I managed to screw it all up…" His chest felt hollow. Everything he had ever dreamed of had been given to him in these last few months - he should've known better than to think it would last this long. Everyone would eventually get tired of him, and things would go back to the way they were before… it was his worst nightmare coming true… Why did he think, after last Snoggletog, that things would be better? That his "friends" would stay by his side? That his long-time crush would put up with him, when she'd obviously despised him her whole life?

Swallowing hard, he stood weakly and returned to his workspace. If things were going back to before the Red Death, he needed to get used to working full-time in the forge. It was the only place he had that he knew he'd be welcome at… even he didn't think Gobber would kick him out.

"At least I have you, bud," he said over to Toothless. It was a comfort to know that he still had his best friend, though echos of him and Astrid's fight still rang in his head, sending pangs at his heart. "You won't leave me too, will you? If things get bad, we can always go somewhere and start a life of our own… just you and me… we could make it."

He sighed at the possibility. As much as he hated the prospect of everyone looking down on him like before, he would hate to leave Berk just as much. Still… Astrid had clearly ended their friendship. There was no doubt about that… She wanted nothing to do with him. It was only a matter of time before everyone else felt the same way.

Thor, he wished he'd have closed his big mouth.

"Reckless? Over-the-top? RECKLESS?"

Astrid swung her axe at the tree, relishing the loud slicing sound that came in return. The poor tree had slash marks all over it by now, but she was nowhere near done. There was a lot of anger pent up that she needed to let out before she did something she'd regret…

"I'm not careless," she huffed, retrieving the axe and marching back to her position. "That's ridiculous. I'm perfectly level-headed and in control. Hiccup doesn't know what he's talking about." She got ready to throw her weapon again, squinting at the target. "...Mutton-head… idiot… jerk… I can't believe he had the nerve…"

As she flung her axe out one more time, she began to cool down a little bit.

She could admit that she was tough. She did… well… look down upon those weaker than her; and she could be a little harsher than what was needed. But that wasn't a bad thing! She'd never thought she was doing anything wrong. Of course she wasn't.

Okay, maybe she'd been too hard on those kids… they were only, what, seven and five? Perhaps she shouldn't have expected them to be able to dodge the fireballs, or complete a three hour training regimine. It was possible she was… she was… you know…


Astrid sighed, and walked over to her target tree, but she didn't take out her axe. Instead, she sat down at the bottom of it, thinking over the fight - something she didn't do often.

Even if she'd messed up with Ack's kids… well, Hiccup still shouldn't have said what he had. He was supposed to be her friend! Though maybe she shouldn't have yelled at him, and her screaming really hadn't helped the situation, her anger at him wasn't completely gone.

Done with throwing things for the day, she removed her axe from the tree and trudged back towards Berk. A long night of sleep might help her clear her head.

A few days passed, and Astrid's fury abated. However, though things seemed to go back to normal, something seemed different… especially with Hiccup. She didn't notice it at first, but recent conversations were very… strange.

"Hiccup, Stormfly and I discovered a new trick!" Astrid exclaimed one day, rushing into the forge, where he was recently spending a lot of time at. She was very proud of the skill, and was excited to tell Hiccup about it.

"R - really? That's great," he said, smiling slightly. There was something off in his eyes, however, that made Astrid waver for a second.

"You want to see it? Toothless could come along, and we could all go on a flight together. It seems like it's been awhile since we…"

Hiccup's frown made her trail off. "Actually, I've got a lot to do right now. And Toothless and I just went on a flight." The Night Fury grunted in protest from his side, but at Hiccup's strangely pleading look, he quieted. "See you around, okay…?" And then he was gone.

The next day, something similar happened - and again, Hiccup left before she could finish, spurting out excuses and sounding like his old, rambly self. It was so odd that it took her a few more days to realize what was going on:

Hiccup was avoiding her.

The idea was so preposterous that she almost didn't believe it. Why in Thor's name would he not want to see her?

Yet the fact became undeniable as, for the third time that day, Hiccup averted his eyes and began to walk away - the moment he saw her. Dragon training was cut short these days, and usually Snotlout or the twins took over the lesson with their antics, knocking an unprotesting Hiccup into the background, where he willingly went. Anytime Fishlegs tried to speak with him, he'd crack a smile, reply, and then make some excuse about needing to go somewhere.

Hmm… it wasn't just Astrid, then. He was avoiding everyone else as well. Even public interactions with Stoick seemed strained and painful, though there was no reason for it to be that way.

"You want to go on a flight later?" Astrid asked Hiccup after a stressful dragon training lesson. He had immediately backtracked to the forge, where he was tinkering with whatever he could get his hands on with, though nothing needed any work.

Looking flustered, Hiccup turned away from her once again. "I really shouldn't…"

"Why? You have something going on?" She was beginning to really feel his absence now. They usually spent the whole day together, riding and talking dragons. Hardly seeing him for an entire week was catching up to her. By now, her anger at him was gone, and she barely remembered the fight from earlier, having had too many quarrels since to recall that single one.

"Um… I've just got lots of work to do," he said awkwardly, dodging Astrid as she attempted to get closer. "Sorry. Maybe you should ask Snotlout or something… he'd want to go…"

Astrid was stunned. "Fly with Snotlout? No thank you, dragon training with him is more than enough time wasted. I want to go with you. I'm sure the forge can wait for a little while-"

By now, Hiccup seemed on the verge of panic. His hands were trembling, and even from behind, she could see that the tips of his ears were red. Astrid was starting to grow concerned, an unfamiliar emotion. Was he sick? Angry? Mad? What the Thor is going on with him?

"No, I can't," he said softly. "I… I can't go." He set down his things and turned around, but his eyes were still fastened to an invisible spot on the floor. "Dad wanted me home early tonight, I should go-"

"I happen to know for a fact that Stoick's going to be on the other side of Berk until tomorrow afternoon. I also know that no one needs their weapons fixed at the moment, which currently renders you useless."

She almost missed it, but Hiccup flinched.

"Look… you're acting… weird. Really weird. You're all distant and stuff… you won't look me in the eye, you're avoiding me, and I - I never see you anymore. Is there something going on?"

"Of course not." His words were too rushed. Too quick. Too strained. And gosh, his tone was all too familiar, as if he'd used it a thousand times, yet Astrid couldn't quite recall a specific moment that would clue her into what was going on.

"Hiccup." Her voice was curt.

She couldn't do this anymore. She couldn't watch her best friend act like a total stranger around her. Hiccup was always there for her, and it was high time for her to be there for him.

"I know something's wrong. Did something happen? Did someone say something?" Did I say something? she privately wondered.

He paled. "W - what? No. No, I'm fine. Don't… don't worry about me. It doesn't matter. It's… useless. Sorry, didn't mean to bug you." He abruptly turned around and started to leave the forge.

"What the… Hiccup, did you just apologize to me? You didn't even do anything." She ran up to his side before he could leave, trying to force him to meet her eyes. However, he was still looking down, anxiousness clear on his face.

All too suddenly, she noticed his stance - the slumped, ashamed form, the ducked head, nervous hands… all a stark change from the confident, smiling figure of what he'd become in recent months.

It was like before - before Toothless and the Red Death, and all. Almost like he was …

Astrid practically staggered, nauseated with her revelation.

Hiccup was acting like before. Like he was still the village runt, the unwanted heir, the target of Snotlout's bullying and the twins' pranks… His sudden, meek behavior, the lack of sarcastic remarks, and his somber mood… Gods, how had she missed the signs? Hiccup was scared… not of them… but… of losing them.

And she had a sneaking suspicion why.

"Hiccup…" She gently reached out and touched his shoulder, but he shuddered. His fear sent a pang of hurt through Astrid's chest so strong she didn't know she was capable of such a feeling. "Hiccup… what's going on?"

Her voice was light and tender; she didn't want to spook him off. Not when he'd forced himself down to this because he was scared that she was going to to leave.

He froze, face stuck in some kind of grimace. "Nothing, Astrid… oh, look at the time. I've got to feed Toothless. He needs to be-"

"No. You're not going to go and change the subject on me again."

"...Sorry... I didn't realize..."

Yikes. This was a new low even for Hiccup. Though he'd been overly self-sacrificing and reclusive before having friends, he'd never so willingly submitted. This meek version of him was not Hiccup, and that scared Astrid. Where was the dragon boy she knew and loved? And why had he gone away in the first place?

Scratch that last question. She could tell herself whatever she wanted, but deep inside, she knew the truth.

"No - I'm sorry, Hiccup. This is all my fault, isn't it? From our fight last week." She shook her head. "I shouldn't have yelled at you. That was wrong of me, despite whatever you said. Did you… did you really think that I was going to stay mad at you forever?"

Hiccup shrugged, looking miserable. "Astrid, it's not... I don't… I don't know…"

"Hiccup," she said, "It's me. Astrid. Your friend. You can talk to me."

He still seemed nervous and jumpy, but he reluctantly nodded. Astrid led him to a stool, where he sat down. She pulled up another chair and took a seat in front of him. Hiccup played with his hands for awhile until Astrid touched his shoulder, where he must've found some strength to speak.

"It's only been a few months since everyone started treating me differently, and each day, I'm scared that things are going to go back to the way they were. That everyone's going to start treating me like - like before." He took in a breath. "Because, you know, I didn't change. I just trained a dragon, and suddenly I was everyone's hero. Sooner or later, I knew you'd guys get tired of me again and I'd go back to being the nobody I was before."

Though Hiccup was clearly uncomfortable at sharing this, he was unable to stop himself from going on. Astrid nodded in encouragement despite the despair she felt as he spoke. At least he was getting this out. It would help. She was no expert at deep talks, but she could tell this would help him.

"I didn't like the idea, but it seemed inevitable; I was going to lose you guys. When you yelled at me, I thought… I thought that you were the first to stop being friends with me. That everything I had feared was finally happening… I decided I'd just distance myself so… so it wouldn't hurt so much when everyone did the same… And I guess the reason I'm not myself is because I thought maybe if I wasn't so stubborn, you guys wouldn't be annoyed with me anymore. I'd do pretty much anything to keep you as friends." Frowning, he shook his head. "I screwed up last week. I keep on screwing up… and this time, I knew I'd just made one too many mistakes…" He wasn't crying, and didn't seem so meek anymore; he just looked lonely. So lonely.

Horrified at his answer, Astrid swallowed, an odd thickness building in her throat. Did Hiccup sincerely think that he had broken their friendship by a few measly words? A single fight, when she'd had a thousand? She'd known Hiccup found it difficult to process suddenly having friends after a lifetime of being ostracized, but hadn't thought he'd bring himself down to this state with the thought his friends were going to abandon him. She wished she had a good reason to argue with Hiccup, but the other Riders had treated him awfully until a few months ago. In some twisted way, all of this made sense.

"Hiccup…" She cleared her throat, torn between anger at herself and at Hiccup for believing she'd do such a thing. "You're… you're allowed to make mistakes without people abandoning you for them." Gods, she could've killed her younger self right then. She'd been so awful to Hiccup… it was her fault for giving him these problems.

He still didn't look convinced, so she went on.

"Take… Toothless, for example," Astrid said. "Why do you think he's still here?"

Hiccup was quiet for a moment, then gave a weak smile. "Uh, the free fish?"

Astrid squinted. "There are more things that Toothless likes than fish, Hiccup. Starting with you."


"Of course. You're his best friend. He can always count on you. Thick or thin, you're there for him, and he trusts you for it. Anyone could see that. That's why Toothless didn't leave you, even when he had a chance to be free. That's why he's still here. And why I'm still here - and will always be."

She reached forward and took Hiccup's fidgeting hands in hers, looking him straight in the eye. "You're my best friend, too. Even though the other Riders and I treated you terribly, you forgave us and even chose to become our friend. I shouldn't have overreacted to what you said. That was my fault, and mine alone. I'm sorry, Hiccup. For everything."

He blinked, a smile twitching at his lips. "I'm really your best friend?"

"Really," she laughed. "Look… I shouldn't have taken your words the way I did. That… that was reckless of me. But I'd never cut off a friendship because of one fight - do you even know how many quarrels I've had with the other Riders? And we're all still friends!"

Hiccup appeared startled for a second, and then nodded, looking a lot happier than he had in awhile. "Right. And I'm sorry that I offended you. I didn't mean to, and before you say anything, I know it was partly my fault too, if only just for starting this."

She shook her head. "It doesn't matter. Hiccup, we're friends - best friends. And by now, I think you know that no matter how much I like you, we're going to get in a fight. That's part of the package deal. But going to take a lot more than that to get rid of me."

Laughing, Hiccup squeezed Astrid's hands. "I'm glad. And I'm glad that we're friends again."

"Me too." She grinned, then leaned forward and gave him a quick peck on the cheek before she could think twice about it. Having a relationship with Hiccup would be difficult, she knew, and she could plan on lots of drama ahead.

However, looking at Hiccup sitting there with that goofy grin she loved so much, she found herself not minding at all.


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