I own none of these magnifico characters. They belong to Guillermo del Toro and DreamWorks.
The sun had long since set when Jim exited Trollmarket after organizing Blinky's library with Toby's help. They're little idea about using the Elix-Lore turned out to be a little messed up—but in the end, they managed to find a way to possibly get the ring off Strickler using the Kairo-Sect. He had told Toby, Blinky and Claire (who had called him over the phone to tell him that her situation with NotEnrique's party was finally settled) that they'd go to Gatto's Keep early in the morning the next day.
Toby had met up with Aaarrrgghh—who came back from NotEnrique's event at the Nu?ez Household—and told Jim he'd walk home with the Kubera troll. So they bid their goodbyes and went their separate ways.
While riding his Vespa, Jim felt his stomach growl with gnawing hunger. How long ago did he last eat something? He ate a bit of popcorn Toby brought at Claire's house earlier while they were brainstorming of how to get the Inferna-Corpula, and the last time he ate an actual meal was the sandwich he made for himself, Toby and Claire for lunch around one in the afternoon.
Hmm… I could fix up a few pork chops for supper. His mouth watered at the thought of nice, tasty pork chops seasoned with salt, pepper, paprika, crushed garlic and sliced onions over it. He might as well make a salad and rice for a side dish—he wanted to make sure he and Barbara ate to their fill after a long, tiring day.
The ten-minute ride to his house was pleasant; a few cicadas echoing from afar with crickets chirping into the night were soothing to his head. Things with Trollhunting business could get loud sometimes, so he was mildly surprised to notice the sound of his Vespa was not as loud or irritating to his ear drums. But then again, the Vespa engine wasn't as loud as a motorcycle engine.
The Trollhunter soon arrived at his house and noticed his mother's light blue car parked on the driveway, indicating that she was already home. He got off his Vespa, opened the garage, rode it inside, took off his helmet and walked into the house, meeting with Barbara, who was just taking off her white coat by the door.
"Hey mom," he said with a small, weary smile while he hung his bag on the staircase. "How'd work go?"
Barbara sighed tiredly. "Busy as usual." She looked over at Jim. "How was school?"
Her son shrugged while walking towards the kitchen. "Not bad."
"Anything new with Trollhunting stuff?"
"Not really," Jim stopped in front of the sink and washed his rough, callused hands. "Just looking for a way to get the ring of Strickler with Tobes at Blinky's library. We found something called the Kairo-Sect that might be able to help us."
"Yeah, but apparently life thought it'd be funny to hide it away from us so that we play hide-and-seek before we actually get to use it."
The two shared a brief laugh at the dry humor.
The young Trollhunter walked over to the fridge and opened it up, only to find half a liter of milk, an egg carton with only two eggs, a lemon, and a little bit of ham and cheese. "Uh…"
So much for getting himself eager for supper; they didn't even have pork to begin with.
"Not much, is there?" Barbara gave a chuckle.
Jim rubbed the back of his neck. "I was planning on making pork chops…"
Barbara patted her son's head with a smile. "We should stop by the store. We're going to need some food for the week. And I do have a taste for pork chops as well."
"Alright," Jim replied with a nod as his mother walked towards the stairs. While he waited, he pulled up a small piece of paper with a pen from the counter and started to write down the essential things that were needed.
"Let's see, meat, eggs, bread, vegetables…" He began to mumble what he wrote down. He figured if he was going to be making plenty of food this week, he'd make some for Claire and Toby as well. And he really had a taste for those pork chops.
"By the way," Barbara's voice came from her room. "Has Draal been moving stuff around in the basement lately? I couldn't find my paint stands where I left them earlier today."
"Oh," Jim tilted his head, tapping the pen on his chin. "I think I hid them behind the staircase. Y'know, didn't want him finding them and snacking on them."
"Well, if I find one scratch on them, I'll have him sleep in the woods tonight."
Jim chuckled and shook his head. "He said he'd be hanging around Trollmarket, so I guess you don't have to worry him tonight?"
"A little relief wouldn't hurt."
He got up and walked up the stairs, into the bathroom and opened the medicine cabinet and found no shampoo bottles. He looked over the toilet and saw there only one toilet paper roll left.
Better add them to the list.
After the mother and son had gotten ready, they went out to the car and drove off to the store in the cool summer night. While sitting on the passenger seat besides Barbara, Jim leaned by the window and stared out at the darkening sky. The streetlights flashed on his face while the car rode through the town of Arcadia. He found himself bobbing his head at the beat of Bohemian Rhapsody that played softly on the radio, the song nearing its end.
Tobes loves this song to death, he smiled fondly at the thought. He remembered the day when he and Toby first heard the song. They were just ten years old, riding to from fourth grade school in the same car of Barbara's when they heard it play on the radio. Jim has been puzzled with the sudden changes in the song, but Toby had been ecstatic, claiming the song was now his number one favorite. It still was to this day.
The unforgettable, overjoyed smile of his friend's ten-year-old face from that day had been one of those personal images Jim kept close to his heart throughout his life.
He lowered the glass from his window and inhaled the warm, summer breeze that blow through it. He missed riding in the car with Barbara to go do something normal for once. Sure, he's been here with her, but the last time he sat her with his mother was when she had to bring him and Toby back from the police department. Now, it was just to simply go to the store.
The two have been busy lately. It was nice to finally do something casual together.
Finally, they arrived at a Sullivan's groceries store, Barbara parking the car in the parking lot and grabbing a cart from the cart stands. There weren't many cars parked, so the store was sure to have a minimal amount of people in it.
"So, what first, kiddo?" Barbara looked over at her son once they walked into the building.
Jim glanced at the list he wrote earlier in the house. "Let's get soaps and napkins first."
And so, they shopped for their essential items: from soaps, shampoo, and napkins to diary, meats and fruits and vegetables. It was rather enjoyable; not too many people crowding the aisles and no dangerous troll or goblin threatening to take their groceries.
The two were now heading towards the checkout aisles, with Jim organizing the cart on the way. He looked at the list to make sure they had everything in the cart when he realized that they had forgotten to bring a carton of eggs.
"Shoot," he muttered under his breath, looking up to his mother. "Mom, I forgot to bring eggs. Let me go get them real' quick."
Barbara nodded. "Alright. Be careful."
"Sure thing," Jim turned around and began to jog his way towards the refrigeration area, gradually stopping by the eggs and looking between the two only brands that laid before him.
Hmm… that last one sounded interesting. Especial with the odd brand name. It looked different too: it wasn't in a colorful carton, but a rusty, authentic brown egg carton that reminded Jim of some old 80's movies he'd sometimes watch with Toby.
He grabbed the brown egg carton and opened it up, eyes widening with surprise to see beautiful, large eggs of different shades of brown, blue, pink and white. There was nice note inside on the top of the carton, explaining about the chicken farm that belongs to the owners of the brand.
Farm fresh, organic eggs from free-range hens. Hand-picked and washed.
From our coop to your table. God bless you.
Jim found himself smiling at the hand-drawn chicken sketch besides the last note. A part of him felt guilty for using chicken to make meals often, but he figured the hens that laid these eggs were happy, healthy, and taken good care by their owners.
Unlike other unfortunate farm animals.
The diary manager who had been checking the dates of different cheeses looked over to Jim and gave a gruff chuckle. "You should come Friday morning—the owner of the brand deliver's them eggs at around eight in the morning. Better take that last one before someone else snatches it."
Jim nodded. "Might as well," he murmured, looking over to the worker and dipping his head. "Take care, sir."
"You too, kid."
While walking through aisles and halls, Jim felt a strange churn of unease in his stomach. His mellow mood had suddenly morphed into that anxious feeling he got whenever there was something dangerous on its way. Unsettled, he began to walk quicker, his heart suddenly skipping when he heard a familiar voice screech:
"…away from me!"
His soul pierced.
Trollhunter instincts kicking in, Jim began to run through the halls of the store, careful not to drop the eggs and sliding to a stop when he saw Barbara facing someone he never expected to see.
Jim's heart stopped beating.
It can't be.
His blood ran cold.
It was him.
His limbs suddenly gave away. He stumbled and accidentally dropped the egg carton, hearing the eggs give a heart wrenching crack when they collided on the ground.
Grabbing his mother by the wrist with a pleading gaze was him.
Jim stared ahead, unable to move as James grabbed Barbara by the shoulders, desperately saying, "Barbara, please!"
Barbara shoved James away roughly, glaring at the man before her with a death glare. "Leave me alone."
"Listen to me! I can explain—"
Jim found himself running over to his mother, grabbing James' shoulder and whipping the man around harshly to meet eyes with him.
They were just the same.
Jim felt as if he were staring at an older version of himself in the mirror.
Same eyes. Same chin. Same nose.
It was as if he were staring at his older self.
He hated it.
He hated that they looked so alike.
Jim's breath began to speed up. A burst of rage suddenly bolted through his veins like lightning. His eyes never blinked, and his grip on the shoulder became harder. "Get the fuck away from her!" He rammed a powerful fist onto the man's jaw without a second thought.
James stumbled back, both in surprise and by the punch. He quickly placed a hand over his aching chin and began to rub it while looking up at the boy before him with shock.
Jim stood tall protectively in front of Barbara; hands in trembling fists, shoulders and jaw squared, and eyes blaring with hatred.
"J-Jim?!" James spluttered, blinking rapidly to dry the tears of pain from the hard punch he received. "I-Is that you—"
"Shut up," Jim snarled, unable to control the rage that pulsed through his body. "What are you doing here?" He was close to grabbing the amulet and pointing Daylight at the man's neck. "Why are you here?"
James shook at the hard, cold voice that came from the boy, his eyes wide.
"I asked you something," Jim would have rammed his fist into James' eye if it weren't for Barbara's hand on his shoulder keeping him back. "Why are you here?"
James' straightened himself, fixing the white-sleeved shirt and tie he wore. He cleared his throat, looking shakily at Jim and Barbara. "Barb, Jimmy—"
"Do not call us that," Jim's ice-cold glare made James shift uncomfortably.
The man tugged on the collar of his shirt, biting his lip. "Uh, right. Okay. Um…" He rolled his hand into a nervous fist, looking at Jim. "Listen… I was just passing by here, honestly. You know, for political business—"
"You work in politics now, huh?" Jim had his head tilted to the side, his face flushing with anger. "How luxurious it must be. I hope you're a Democrat because you sure are a real donkey for showing up here after eleven fucking years."
"Jim," Barbara squeezed her son's shoulder, although her ocean blue eyes didn't waver from James.
"J-Jim, please just listen…" The man stammered. "I was just passing by for business and thought… m-maybe I could see you…"
"Don't sugar-coat it, James," Barbara had a venomous tone to her voice. "Why are you here?"
James inhaled shakily. "I… I just… was just shopping here… didn't think I'd find you two…" He swallowed at the cold, tensing silence that followed. Jim's hardened eyes didn't leave James for one split second, so the man was visibly uncomfortable. "H-How have you doing—"
"We're doing perfectly fine," spat Jim bitterly between gritted teeth.
James looked at the boy before him, a weak laugh escaping him. "J-Jim. Look at how much you've grown… you're basically a man now…"
"I didn't need a dad to become one." Jim shot back curtly.
James winced, running a hand through his jet-black hair that was combed backwards in a way that made Jim's gut twist with painful recognition. "Look, Jim… I… I'm sorry… for ever leaving you—"
"You should be," Jim almost lurched forwards, but Barbara kept a firm hand on his arm. "You left us without a word. You left us vulnerable. We cried for you. We thought something happened to you. But then these people come and say you abandoned us to leave in the airport for Vermont? With a girlfriend? Did you ever tell your girlfriend that you're a married husband and father who left his family and responsibilities just to stick with a dirty little sl—"
"Jim, please," Barbara tugged Jim's arm, stopping her boy from saying anything else that would get them in trouble. She stepped in front of him and glared at James, saying in a scarily calm voice. "I don't care what you have to say to either of us, but if you think that you can suddenly win our hearts and stay over with us then forget about it, James. I want nothing to do with you anymore. Neither of us do."
James lifted a hand, about to grab Barbara's shoulder but one quick, icy glare from Jim made him stop. "Barb, please. Just—"
The three turned their heads to the side to see Toby standing with a baseball bat in his hands and two police officers at his sides. He had a dangerous grimace on his face and kept batting the baseball bat on the palm of his hand threateningly. "You ought to stop harassing my friend and his mom or else you'll serve a life sentence in jail."
Immediately James stepped away from Jim and Barbara, bewildered when one of the officers walked over to him with handcuffs. "What—"
"Sir, I'm going to have to take you to the custody for harassment." The officer, Detective Scott, grabbed James's wrist and began to pull him away.
"H-Hey! You don't even know me! This is my family! Let me go!" James tried to pull away.
Officer Scott looked at James with an unimpressed look. "Don't bother calling them your family, James. I was the one in charge of the search party for you back in 2005 when Ms. Lake reported you were missing." He frowned. "You shouldn't have left your car by the Los Angeles Airport. It gave you away."
"No buts, James. You've done enough damage to this family. And unless you want to, like this kid said—" He gestured to an angry Toby. "—serve a life sentence in prison, then you better comply and leave the Lake's alone."
"But I AM a Lake!"
"You are not part of this family, James," Barbara objected. "Not anymore."
James looked back at Jim and Barbara, begging for help. "B-Barb, Jimmy please. I can make it up to you!"
"Oh right," Jim scoffed. "Try making up for abandoning your responsibility eleven years ago with billions of dollars. A smart idea for a politician. I'm surprised you're being caught just now after so long for your actions, sir."
James opened his mouth to protest, but Officer Scott pointed a taser at him. "You better not say another word, James—or else I'm letting these people decide what to do with you."
Jim watched as the officer took the man who was supposedly his father out of the store. He wetted his lips, not even realizing he was breathing harshly until Barbara asked him, "Jim—sweetie, are you okay?"
He snapped out of his angered trance, turning around to meet eyes with his mother's. The two stared at each other, unable to process what they what they had just witnessed.
Jim gave a slow nod, his eyes trailing his surroundings. He was suddenly aware of the small crowd of people gathered around them, some even recording on their phones.
The other officer who had stayed behind raised a hand and waved it. "Alright everyone, Step away please, there's nothing left here for you. Geez, you're worse than a bunch of flies over a chunk of food."
Gradually the people began to walk away, murmuring among themselves while occasionally glancing back at Jim and Barbara.
"That mangy no-good deadbeat," Toby muttered angrily, a deep frown on his face while he gripped onto his bat and glared at the exit where Officer Scott and James left from. "He sure has a lot of nerve to come up to you guys."
Jim snorted through his nose and looked around to see the egg carton he had dropped. He couldn't help but feel his heart sink when he saw egg yolk spilling out from the box. Had he really dropped a dozen of beautiful colored eggs just because his dead-beat father decided to show his face? Jim had a feeling the hens who laid those precious eggs would have a bad nightmare about what had happened to their hard-worked eggs.
Toby placed a hand on Jim's shoulder, his green eyes immediately softening. "Don't worry about him, Jimbo. The police will take care of him. You won't be seeing him ever again."
Jim hated that he felt so shaken. He didn't care about James. He really didn't. But seeing him again after so long made Jim's stomach churn with hatred and pain. The old wound that he thought had heal was ripping open, bleeding millions of negative emotions into his heart.
Yet, he could only stare at the dropped egg carton with blank eyes.
Toby's gaze followed the Trollhunter's, and realization washed over him. "Oh," he said glumly. "Did you drop them?"
Jim opened his mouth to yes, but he couldn't get himself to say anything. He just gave a single, guilty nod.
Toby patted his friend's shoulder and gave a small smile. "It's okay, Jimbo. I'll call someone to fix it up. It was an accident."
Jim stared at his dearest friend with a long, sad gaze. He gave the smallest of smiles and managed to choke out a "Thanks, Tobes."
Grinning, Toby walked off to find a worker, his bat still in hand.
Jim stared off at his friend, feeling his throat tighten into a knot. He felt confused at why, but right now he felt like bursting into tears of hatred. He didn't give crap to James Sr., but just seeing the face made Jim feel like ripping something, like throwing stuff around. He wanted to slam his head into a wall so hard it would make it bleed. He wanted to cry out, to scream how much he hated the man that ruined his and his mother's life. He wanted to forget about that bastard.
"Jim," Barbara's voice snapped him out of his darkening thoughts. "Let's pay and go home. I don't want to be here any longer than necessary."
Jim nodded, following his mother who pushed the cart towards the checkout aisle. He gave one last, mournful glance at the egg carton, unable to shake off the crushing guilt.
He silently vowed to never come back to this store ever again.
Jim silently passed the shopping bags from the cart to Barbara, who placed them into the back of the car. He kept glancing back at the entrance of the store, hoping to see the silhouette of Toby's walking out. He reached into the cart and felt nothing, so he looked down and saw that all the bags were inside the car now.
Barbara turned back and looked at Jim. "That's all?"
While his mother closed the back door of the car, Jim pushed the cart into the cart stand that was besides the car, eyes still looking out for his friend. "He hasn't gone out."
Barbara walked up besides Jim and placed a hand on the distressed boy's shoulder. "Do you want him to ride home with us?"
"…It's a pretty long way back."
They waited for another few moments until they saw the stocky silhouette of Toby's walking out of store. The boy had a bag in his hands and his bat tucked under his arm. He kept glancing around until he spotted Jim and Barbara. He waved ecstatically and began to hastily walk towards them. "Dr. L! Jimbo!" he exclaimed when he caught up to them. "Phew! I was able to find one last egg carton of that cool new brand that came in—uh Family Firmstead, right?"
Jim gave a dry chuckle. "Yeah. Thanks a lot, Tobes."
Toby gave a humble grin. "No big deal, Jimbo. Just looking out for ya." He gave a quick knowing glance at Barbara, who smiled gratefully at him.
"You're welcome to ride back with us, Toby," said the exhausted mother, gesturing to her spacing out son who just stared at the egg carton.
Toby nodded. "That'd be nice." He handed the egg carton to Barbara, who had opened the back door and placed then carefully on top of a toilet paper package. He looked over to Jim and gave his friend a smile. "You okay, buddy?"
Jim nodded, a small smile appearing on his lips despite the choking knot on his throat. He reached for the side door handle and opened it for Toby, letting his auburn-headed friend sit inside before closing it. He and Barbara then went into the front of the car and sat inside, closing the doors and fastening their seatbelts.
Turning on the engine of the car with the key, Barbara began to drive out of the parking lot and to the road. She waited by the exit to let some cars pass before riding out to the streets.
Toby sat in silence on the seat behind the one Jim sat on, looking around the dark car and fiddling with his fingers. He looked at Barbara and noticed her hands on the wheel kept squeezing and stressfully digging her nails in them. A surge of pity washed over him.
Dr. Lake was basically his mother. She had helped take care of him with Nana ever since they moved in Arcadia when he was five. She took him and Jim to school when they were younger, often looked after him for his Nana and even paid for his education. (Really, his Nana was legally blind—how was she suppose to handle payments and emails on computers?) He could only imagine the pressure thus good-hearted woman had when she realized she had to take care of so many responsibilities so abruptly without any warning.
His eyes fell at the rear mirror from Jim's window, and while the streetlights flashed by, he could see his friend's blue eyes staring outside, torn and watery.
The redhead knew Jim couldn't care less about James Sr. He had repeatedly said so—but Toby knew deep down, the Trollhunter was still hurting from the man's abandonment, even after all these years. James' sudden appearance was sure to bring back painful memories that both Jim and Barbara would much rather burn in a ditch than keep.
Not liking how his friend was looking like, Toby reached his right hand towards Jim's right shoulder, rubbing it reassuringly as if to say It's okay, Jimbo.
Jim looked down at the chubbier hand on his shoulder and placed his own left one over it, squeezing it gratefully. A tiny, sad smile came on his, and he met gazes with his friend on the rear mirror.
They arrived at the Lake Household at around ten thirty-three pm, with Barbara and Jim taking their groceries out of the car and into the kitchen with some of Toby's help.
"Will you two be okay for the night?" asked Toby while standing by the doorway as he watched the mother and son place their items on the kitchen counter.
"We'll be fine, Toby," Barbara gave the redhead a warm, grateful smile. "Thank you for your help today. We really appreciate it."
"Anything for you and Jimbo, Dr. L," Toby gave small wave with his hand, looking over to his friend with a smile. "I'll see you tomorrow."
"See you, Tobes." Jim dipped his head, starring off as his redheaded friend walked away towards his house. He continued to bring in the rest of the groceries, closed the car and house and helped unpack and clean the items they brought with Barbara.
Barbara had opened a shopping bag and pulled out the pack of pork chops, tiredly eyeing them and saying, "Why don't you save those pork chops for tomorrow, kiddo?"
Jim nodded glumly, placing a gallon of milk and block of cheese in the fridge. After the earlier events, he had completely lost his appetite. How he wanted the have those pork chops.
They just finished organizing the groceries to where they belonged when Barbara's phone began to ring.
A deep frown came to Jim's face when he realized it was the hospital calling.
Could they not see how exhausted his poor mother was? Wasn't there anyone else who could take her place for at least one night so that she could rest? Why did they always have to call her?
His blood boiled when he saw Barbara drop her head and shoulders in defeat after the person on the other line finished talking. "Alright then—I'll be there in ten minutes." She hung up.
"Mom, can't they—"
"It's an emergency shift, Jim. Dr. Lenz is still out on her honeymoon, so I have to fill in for her."
Jim bristled. "But you need to rest too, mom." His voice came out higher than he wanted, maybe because his throat was tightening up.
"I know, Jim," Barbara placed a hand on her stirred son. "I'm sorry, Jim, but I have to get going. I'll be back around twelve." She planted a kiss on Jim's forehead before grabbing her coat and walking out the door, but not before saying, "Don't stay up too late."
Jim didn't move or say anything. The tight knot in his throat prevented him from making any noise. He only stood silently in the kitchen, listening to the door close and the car engine turning on before riding away.
He was alone.
Just like when he was younger.
Why do you have to go again, Momma?
Will you be back sooner?
Tobes is too tired to play today, Momma...
Can't you stay?
With a heavy heart, he turned off the kitchen light and walked up the stairs, heading to his room and towards his clothes drawer to grab a white t-shirt, baggy sleeping pants and a pair of boxers. He closed the drawer and was about to walk out of his dreary room when he heard his radio turn on.
"Warhammer to Trollhunter. Do you copy?"
Jim paused, turning his head to look at the radio on his desk. He walked over to it, place his clothes on the bed and picked up the radio. "Trollhunter to Warhammer. What's up, Tobes?" He looked outside his window to see Toby's silhouette on his bedroom window.
"Nothing much. Just finished showering and changing."
"I, uh saw Dr. Lake ride out. Are you okay there, Jimbo?"
Jim's grip on the radio intensified, his teeth clenching tightly together. He inhaled and exhaled for a few moments before responding huskily, "Yeah, hospital needed her again. I was just gonna... go wash up."
"Okay…. Do ya want me to come over?"
Jim's lip tugged upwards briefly. "Nah, Tobes. Just stay home and rest. You've done enough for me today."
"All I did was call the cops and let them do the dirty work, Jimbo. And maybe you should take your own advice and take it easy. Also, don't worry about the Kairo-Sect and all that. I told Claire we'll look for it after tomorrow. You just wash up, watch some Gun Robot and relax."
Jim blinked his moist eyes, choking out, "Thanks, Tobes."
"Anything for you, Jimbo. And for the last time—are you absolutely sure you're okay?"
"…I will be."
For a moment there was just silence.
"Alright, Jimbo. I'm gonna hit the hay now."
"Good night, Tobes."
Jim placed down the radio on his desk, watching as Toby turned off the light of his bedroom across the street. He picked up his clothes and walked out of his darkened room, going into the bathroom, closing the door to hang his clothes behind it.
He leaned his back against the door and covered his stinging eyes with a hand, sighing exhaustedly and shakily. He didn't bother to turn on the bathroom light, letting the darkness consume his overwhelming emotions. Why did he feel like this? Why did he feel like breaking down in tears and brawling like crazy?
What did he ever do to deserve such a good friend like Toby? What did he ever do to repay his dear friend for being with him since the beginning? Since they were just little kids? Since he was feeling lonely because his mother was often busy?
And why did his mother always have to work so hard? What did she ever do to have to be so busy all the time? Why couldn't she just leave the hospital be and let other doctors take her place for once? He barely spent time with Barbara nowadays. With both her job at the hospital and his Trollhunting missions and stuff (and school as well), even just talking to his mother was becoming rare. He missed spending time with her like when he was much younger; he missed watching TV on the couch with his mother, leaning against her and falling asleep cuddled up with her without a care in the world.
You're becoming selfish, snarled a nasty little voice in his head. A whiny, selfish little brat...
No. I'm not.
He sighed shakily and dropped his hand from his face. He wasn't going to get anywhere wishing his life had been different. He walked up to the sink and looked up at the mirror, about to open the medicine cabinet when he caught sight of his own reflection.
His heart lurched.
What was he doing here? What was that bastard doing here? How did he get in there?
Jim only gapped at himself, his muscles tensing as if he'd been face-to-face with Gunmar the Black.
It wasn't James.
It was just his reflection.
Was he stupid enough to be fooled by a mirror?
Calm down, Jim.
His breath hitched.
He stared at himself, and he swore the corner of his right eye had a speck of red in it.
He was Jim—James Lake Jr.
Son of James Lake Sr.
His hand curled into a tight, trembling fist.
The face in the mirror was like the face of his father's.
He hated it so much.
It was the same face that hurt his mother when he was just five years old.
He punched the mirror.
The mirror shattered and the shards stabbed his fist, blood splattering all over it and the sink. Jim gave a tiny yelp at the shock of his own action, his breathing becoming more ragged. He didn't feel pain, though. It was as if his body were… numb. He stared down at his bloody hand and at the rest of the broken mirror to see part of his face reflecting it.
This was all his fault.
He punched the mirror again.
If he wouldn't have left, Barbara wouldn't have been so busy with work.
He punched again harder.
She wouldn't be so tired.
She could have spent more time with him.
Not always at work.
And choked sob escaped Jim's tight throat, his hand, arms, sweater, the sink, mirror, wall, cabinet and floor looked like he murdered someone.
He trembled violently. He took a few steps back, tears streaming down his unfocused eyes. The world was spinning, the room felt as if it were closing in on him. His chest was heaving with his wheezing breath.
He was scared.
He wanted someone. He needed someone. Barbara, Claire, Blinky, Toby. Anyone. He didn't want to be alone with himself. He hated being with himself. He hated himself.
What's wrong with me? He could see his own eyes staring back with every single shard of bloodied glass that laid on the floor and sink. No. Those weren't his eyes anymore. Those were the eyes of his father staring back at him.
His back reached against the door, and his shakily brought up a hand and tapped it. He turned to face the door and fell to his knees, the tapping growing into a ferocious pounding. His bleeding fist stained the door with each punch, and he suddenly rammed his head against the door like a mad boar, howling how much he hated himself.
How much he hated James.
Toby was half asleep in his bed when he heard a blood-curdling scream that pierced his soul in the silence of his bedroom.
His heart stopped.
He shot up his bed and immediately look out the window, seeing the dark Lake House before him. Did something happen to Jim? He could feel his stomach churn with anxiety. He grabbed his radio and asked in an alarmed tone, "Warhammer to Trollhunter. Do you copy?"
The light in Jim's room didn't turn on.
"I repeat. Do you copy?"
Something happened. He shouldn't have left Jim by himself.
I shouldn't have left him. Not after today. Why did I listen to him?
He immediately ran out of his room, down the stairs, and past the living room where Nana was watching TV.
"Toby-Pie?" asked his grandmother. "Is everything alright?"
"I need to check on Jim!" Toby said hastily, bursting out the front door and running towards his friend's house as quickly as he could. His stomach kept making swirls and his heart was racing. He clicked the doorbell, and when he had gotten no response he began knock the door. "Jim?" he called out anxiously, his brows furrowed. "Jimbo!"
He took a few steps back, looking around hysterically before running towards the right side of the house. He opened the window of the basement and squeezed himself in, desperately pushing himself through and grunting when he fell on the cold, hard ground. He groaned and sat up, his head aching from the crash. He tried to see his surrounding, but the basement was utterly dark. No light or anything.
Toby gasped. Was Jim being attacked by Angor Rot? By Strickler?
He pulled up his phone and turned on a light, making his way up the stairs and into the kitchen. The kitchen was dark, but the staircase light was on, so he turned off his phone and ran up the stairs, the pounding noise growing louder.
By now he could hear something that chilled him to the bone.
Sobbing. Glass cracking. Pounding.
"Jim?!" Toby ran up to the bathroom door, bursting it open with such force and hitting something with the door.
A grunt. More crackling glass.
Toby tensed. "What the—" His eyes darted around the bathroom, looking at the mirror on the medicine cabinet was completely shattered and stained with blood, the sink and floor stained as well.
Amidst an ocean of blood and glass with his fists and head bleeding like Jesus Christ was Jim Lake.
Toby immediately dashed to the Trollhunter, cupping the boy's face with his stubby hands and saying, "Jim, what the hell?!"
Jim looked horrible. His eyes were red from crying, his right eye had a large stain of blood on the white of it, and his forehead had blood streaming down from his ruffled raven-dark blood-stained hair. He looked down at his friend's hand and felt himself become weak with horror when he saw large to itty bitty shards of glass sticking out of the bloodied flesh, almost unable to notice them because of the gushing body fluid.
Toby swore he felt like puking. "Jim, what the hell did you do?!"
Jim's chest heaved with his ragged breathing; his eyes welled up with tears while sorrowful wails rasped from his throat. He lurched forwards and pressed his forehead against Toby's bare shoulder,
Toby felt trembling hands wrap around his torso tightly, a warm wetness soaking his white tank top. "Jim?! C-Come on, man say something! You're scaring me!" His voice cracked with despair and fear.
Jim wept hysterically on Toby's shoulder, hiccupping and gasping uncontrollably. "Don't leave," he sobbed. "I don't wanna be alone."
Toby froze, his heart cracking at how sorrowful the words sounded coming out from Jim. He looked from the shattered glass on the floor and turned his head to the back of the door, stomach stirring at the bloodied dent marks on the door. "Jim," he whimpered. "why did you hurt yourself?"
Jim shook his head, his sobbing easing little by little.
"Jim," Toby could feel his blood run cold when the weight of the Trollhunter's body started to become heavier. He quickly grabbed Jim's shoulders was forced make the lad go on his knees. He became more frantic when he saw the blue eyes drifting closed and the head start to bob around forwards. "Jimbo, no, no, no, no don't do that! Jim!"
Jim made a whining noise and sadly looked up at Toby, his back heaving with every hiccup. His head was spinning, and his limbs felt like they turned into jelly.
Toby frantically pulled out his phone and dialed Dr. Lake, struggling to keep Jim awake. "Dr. Lake? Dr. Lake—"
"Dr. L, I don't know what's wrong with Jim!" Toby spoke quickly in a shaky voice. "IheardscreamingcomingfromthehouseandIcametocheckandIfoundhimcryinginthebathroomandhepunchedthemirrorandhe'sbleedingsomuch—"
"Toby, calm down. What happened?"
"Jim's trying to kill himself! He's bleeding so much he's gonna pass out—"
Jim's head suddenly fell forwards and knocked the phone out of Toby's hand. The phone fell on the shards with a crack, but the redhead managed to grab his friend with both hands before his head hit the deadly floor.
"Toby? Toby, what happened?!"
He placed growing unconscious Trollhunter's head on his shoulder and grabbed the phone, barely able to keep his hands from trembling. "Dr. Lake, please come."
"I'm turning back now. I'll be there in just a few minutes—Toby, please tell me what happened."
"I-I don't know! I heard screaming from my room a-and—Jimbo? Jim don't go to sleep! Stay awake!" Toby lifted his shoulder up and down to move Jim's head.
The Trollhunter responded with a groan.
"Toby? What did he do?"
The redhead lifted one of the hands that were by his waist and felt his stomach drop when he saw the million shards of glass stuck in the flesh from up close. "H-He punched the mirror."
Toby cringed. "I-I don't know what happened, Dr. Lake—did you two argue o-or something before you left?"
"No, we didn't! I just—Toby, please just get Jim away from the bathroom and take him to the dining room. I have to hang up now, I'm almost there."
"A-Alright. Drive carefully." Toby placed down his phone and stood up, trying to get Jim to stand as well. "Come on, Jimbo. We need to go downstairs."
Jim groggily tried to lift his shaky body, leaning heavily against Toby for support. He could barely feel his throbbing hands; his legs felt like those of a newborn fawn, and his head felt as if the whole world was stuffed inside it. He didn't even register when Toby had led him down the stairs and to the dining room. He was sat on a chair with a thud, his head swaying to the side and his body almost falling over if it weren't for his stouter friend's hand grabbing him.
"No, Jimbo you need to stay awake!" Toby urged, lifting the Trollhunter's bloodied head with a hand while the other grabbed the Trollhunter's shoulder. "Dr. Lake will be here right now. Just don't fall asleep!"
Jim blinked and nodded slowly, his sad and dim blue eyes glancing around the dark room. The stairway light was the only thing barely giving off a hue to the dining room, but he was still able to make out Toby's emerald green orbs. "Tobes?"
The redhead shakily looked at his friend, swallowing nervously. "Yeah?"
Jim's gaze fell sadly, his eyes filled with unshed tears. "Don't leave."
Don't leave me like he did.
Toby stayed still, his own throat tightening up just by how heartbroken his dear friend sounded. He pulled Jim into a hug, blinking his own watery eyes. "I'm not leaving, Jimbo." he said softly, stroking the thick, bloodied hair with a chubby hand. "I won't ever leave you."
Jim buried his face into Toby's bare shoulder, shutting his eyes and silently crying into it. He didn't want to be alone. He hated being alone.
Being alone made him feel like he wasn't entirely alone.
The mirror showed him that.