AN: I'd like to apologize for the first time I uploaded this, in which uber formatting issues made it unreadable. Let's try again, shall we?
Disclaimer: Trollhunters belongs to Guillermo Del Toro.
Sometimes, everything just goes straight to hell.
That's what happened to Jim. Gunmar was dead, resting in pieces all over the street, but Morgana was a different story. They knew the fight against her wasn't going to be easy, but they weren't expecting her to have Merlin's massive magical power added to her own, having absorbed it throughout the centuries of her imprisonment. So, when the entire Trollhunter gang except for the new half-troll was restrained, Jim knew he was in trouble. Once again, however, he anticipated the wrong kind of trouble.
Jim was ready to die for his friends when he jumped in front of Morgana's bolts of death magic. He was not ready to open his eyes to the forest of Arcadia in the dead of night, standing as though he were bracing himself for the death magic.
He blinked twice, trying to make sure that what he was seeing was real. As he cautiously lowered his arms from their x-position over his chest, he took in the area around him. For one, the night wasn't artificial. It was just a regular night, moon high in the sky. The forest around him was full of the chirping of crickets and rustling of its nocturnal denizens, showing that nothing had disturbed them. He looked down, seeing that the grass was dead in a perfect circle around him. A ten-foot circle, if his estimates were correct.
Giving into his new instincts, he dropped into a crouch and then jumped into a tree, resting his back against the trunk with one leg dangling off the branch that he was now sitting on. Jim absentmindedly lifted a hand to his head, stroking one of his horns as he began to think. Starting with the most pressing question. 'How the hell did I get here?'
Jim quickly ran through several theories, discarding most as soon as he thought of them. He kept coming back to one, the most likely. 'Morgana's magic. But she definitely meant to kill me, not send me away,' he thought. So why had he come here, rather than simply die?
He came to another conclusion. Jim looked down at his chest plate, as he thought of it, noticing the amulet pulsing with his heart. 'The amulet. There was some sort of a blast before the magic hit me…' Which then made Jim realize something else. The light of the amulet was incredibly weak, being outshined even by the weak moonlight. 'It's even dimmer than when I was imprisoned by Gunmar,' he realized, anxiously pulling at his horn.
He stood up, the branch bending slightly under the half-troll's weight. 'The amulet's not going to be doing much in the next couple days. So, find out where I am, why everything looks fine here, and get shelter from the sun.' Now that Jim had goals, everything seemed much clearer. He set off to complete his self-assigned tasks with all due haste, hopping from his branch in the direction of where he knew Arcadia to be.
He passed the clearing where the ruins of Killahead bridge should have been on the way, remembering vividly the place where he had first tasted freedom from his idiotic venture into the Darklands. Something else was truly bothering him, though, as he grabbed a branch, swinging around it like a trapeze artist to stand on top of it. As he stared over the area., he could feel confusion swirling within him. The first thing that came to mind was a question: 'Where the hell are all the bridge fragments?'
He was getting more and more confused by the minute. There was no conceivable reason for the stones to be moved, what with Gunmar already being moved and the Darklands being destroyed with the quakes of the Eternal Night. Something was most definitely wrong with the situation, even more so than he had already gathered.
He needed to get to his mom's house. He needed to get to his friends, his family, his pack. He redoubled his efforts on finding his way back to Arcadia, jumping through the trees once more.
By the time that he reached his neighborhood, the sun had begun to rise, and he was nearly panicking with how close the light was getting. He managed to leap behind his house before any of the light caught him, heaving a sigh of relief. Jim was breathing heavily, a tribute to his night jumping throughout the forest and running along vacated roads. Once his breathing was back under control, he slipped the key out from under the mat and opened his door, stepping inside. He immediately noticed the familiar, scents, breathing them in and letting them put him at ease.
Now he just had to find his mom. If life had gone on after his little accident with Morgana, then it was safe to assume that she still had the late-night shifts at the hospital. Which meant that she was either there right now or in her room.
He chose to explore the latter and was able to hear her heartbeat once he got up the stairs. Smiling, he made his way over to her door, before noticing something familiar about the whole situation.
A note on the door, telling him "Late night at work, sleeping in. – Mom"
He knew this moment. He knew this day.
Everything about it had been committed to memory by him long ago.
Feeling his panic rising, he quietly opened the door. Confirming that his mother was indeed sleeping with her glasses on. Out of habit, and to keep himself from panicking more, he gently took them off and laid them on her bedside table. Jim then vacated the room, closing the door behind him. He slid down the wall and put his head in his hands.
This was the third time that he's gone through this day.
Somehow, it got harder every time.
For a long while, Jim simply sat there, vacantly holding his head. Trying to process that he was sent back to the beginning again. That everything he did was seemingly for naught. It was simply too much for him to handle. He felt like he was stretching, hollow, exhausted, and about to explode. It just wasn't fair.
Suddenly, a knock came at the door. "Jimbo?! We're almost late! You better not be sleeping in!"
Toby. He didn't know about anything. Not yet.
He couldn't. Not now. He wasn't ready, Toby wasn't ready. It would be a disaster to talk to him now. The only problem was that Toby was now entering the house.
"Jimbo, if you're not up and ready in two seconds, we're going to have detention for the rest of our lives! We'll be so late that our kids have detention! And then they'll never graduate, and then when we get old and can't work anymore, our kids won't be able to provide for us, and then we'll die of hypothermia because we're homeless and don't have anything to keep us warm!"
It was all he could do to not burst out laughing as he hid in his mother's room. Toby never failed to raise his spirits, even if he knew that he was about to kill Toby's.
As Toby peeked in his room, Jim quickly jumped out of his mom's room and over the stairs, using the rails to lighten his fall so that he wouldn't make a sound. He then crept to the basement, cautiously avoiding the patches of sunlight despite knowing that they blocked the harmful ultraviolet rays that would turn him to stone. As he quietly closed the door to the basement, he heard Toby becoming more panicked.
"Dr. L! I can't find Jim!"
He groaned in his head, knowing that his mom needed her sleep. He quickly found a hiding place in the ceiling of the basement, as his mother responded to Toby, groaning, "What do you mean… He's always up by this time. And my glasses were on when I went to sleep."
"He wasn't outside waiting for me, and he wasn't anywhere downstairs, and he wasn't in the garage!"
He heard the thud of his mother's feet hitting the floor. "Alright, I'll help you find him."
The next fifteen minutes broke Jim's heart. They grew increasingly frantic as they called his name, even searching the basement a couple times. The entire house was being turned upside down, as if he was hiding under a couch. Eventually, after both his mother and Toby were crying, he heard his mother dial the police.
"Hello? Yes, I'd like to report a missing person… James Lake Jr., my son, he was asleep when I came home last night, and he hasn't gone to school, and his best friend and I can't find him. He doesn't have his phone wherever he is, it was on his bedroom floor. He isn't the type to go out alone without telling anyone… yes, sorry I'm trying to remain calm. Is there anything else I can tell you?... Okay. Thank you, just please, find my son." She hung up, sobbing, as he heard her knees hit the floor.
He sighed, wanting to apologize to his mom immediately. He knew he couldn't, however. He wouldn't drag her into this until he figured it out himself.
He settled into his position on the ceiling, waiting for her to go to work. He knew that she had a gigantic hoodie for her own comfort, one that would probably fit him in his troll form. Once she finally left was when he would get it.
He had a plan.
Barbara finally left, having to go to the hospital despite her own condition. She knew that she couldn't do anything to help with the investigation; the police had already questioned her about him and she had given them his photo.
Jim slowly crept out of his hiding space in the basement, tasting the air to make sure that he was alone in the house. Certain that everyone else had left, and that no one was watching, he bolted up the stairs to his mother's room, grabbing the large nondescript hoodie in her closet. He threw it on over his armor, noting that it managed to cover his horns well enough that it just seemed like he had a hat on under it. He found a pair of sweat pants covered most of his greaves, despite leaving oddly shaped knees. Next, he rifled his mother's medical supplies, finding bandages to cover his hands and the bottom of his face, along with his feet.
It was time to see if the other amulet existed, or if it had been replaced like his past self.
Getting through the backdoor, he managed to get the hood low enough to shade his entire face. His hands were stuck in his pockets, and he did his best to stay in the shade. He immediately set off in the direction of the canals.
The trail on the way there held many fond memories; he and Toby speeding through it to get to school on time, and that other time that they were running away from Bular with Blinky and AAARRRGGHH! All the memories brought a sad smile to his face.
Coming upon the over look of the canal, he stopped, simply staring at the scene from his memory. A pile of rocks just out of the shadow of the bridge; that's what most saw. Another smile came to Jim's face at the thought of Kanjigar, his ghostly mentor and advisor from the Void.
Slowly, he walked to the edge of the shadows, and cautiously stuck a hand into the light. When he only felt an uncomfortable heat, as if he had been sitting next to a fire for too long, he stuck a foot out. Feeling the same sensation, Jim took a deep breath and stepped fully out into the light.
The clothes worked well enough, he decided. He would have to find more if he ever needed to venture into the light again, or if he was caught in a place with no shadows. Jim slid down the inclined portion of the canal, keeping an eye out on the sewers for any unwelcome watchers.
Not that they would know who he was.
Sure enough, he caught six glowing eyes peeking out of one of the sewer grates, shutting once they caught sight of him. Jim was caught with a sudden temptation, to go and throw himself in the comfort of his adoptive father; listen to his guidance and accept his affection.
The half-troll mentally steeled himself. There was a plan already in place, and he needed to do certain things. None of which, as of now, included Blinky.
He allowed himself a moment of respite once reaching the shadow of the bridge, as it had become unbearably hot under his clothes. There was some smoke curling out from under his sleeves and hood. After sufficiently comfortable once more, he took the final steps to the body of Kanjigar the Courageous.
While a pile of rocks had no right to be imposing, Jim's knowledge of who the rocks used to be made him treat the stones with reverence, setting them aside as if they were made of glass. He kept a slow pace until finally, the amulet was unearthed.
As it had for the past two times, the amulet called to him. "James… Lake…"
It was as imposing as the first time.
He cupped the amulet in his hands and lifted it, making sure to stay in the sunlight with it. If Jim ventured back into the shadows, the trolls might try to attack him for taking the amulet. 'It's so much smaller than I remember…' He nearly jumped out of his skin when the amulet spoke again. "James… Lake…"
He frowned. The first time, it had stopped saying his name after he picked it up. "I'm here," he said. "It's me, old friend." In the back of his mind he was ridiculing himself for talking to the amulet again.
But then it changed.
Jim's blood froze. A choked whisper came out of him. "What?"
Jim's mind stopped working.
It started back up again when he felt like he was on fire, the sun's rays beginning to penetrate his clothing. He nearly screamed in pain before he sprinted for the forest, ignoring the fact that he could be seen, and leaped over in the incline into the forest. The half-troll kept running, the amulet securely in his hands and away from where it could hurt Claire.
This was so far out of his realm of thinking that he hadn't even considered it a possibility. He assumed that Draal would be chosen, as he had been the last time that Jim hadn't taken the amulet. Instead, it was going to drag down Claire, where she would be put in more danger than she had ever been than when she was with him. He finally slowed down when he determined that he was far enough away from civilization that no one would hear him.
He screamed. He roared to the heavens. He punched a tree so hard that part of it uprooted and had partially bent around his fist, cracking the other side. And then he cried.
He fell to the ground, realizing how alone he was for the first time. There was no way that he was going back, and even if he did reconnect with his friends, they would never share the memories and experiences that he had gone through with them.
Claire would never save the entirety of Trollmarket with her shadow staff.
Draal would never be proud of his progression, because he didn't train Jim.
Toby would never remember the days of the dynamic duo, before Claire. And he would never remember all the times afterward.
Blinky wasn't going to remember calling Jim his son.
AAARRRGGHH! wasn't going to remember his wingman, and all the times he saved Jim's life.
Were his friends really even his friends anymore?
He threw the other – Claire's – amulet at the tree across from him. It shined back, as if mocking him. He simply lay where he had fallen, breathing hard as the tears slid from his face.
And as always, it was Toby who lifted his spirits.
"Maybe your old life is over, but that doesn't mean we can't be a part of your new one."
Once Toby's voice in his memory came to him, he couldn't help but think over the implications. All the things that they could do better this time, everything that they could do together now…
Claire would never be possessed by Morgana.
Draal wouldn't die facing Gunmar.
Angor Rot could get the chance that he deserved.
Toby and he could have new adventures together.
Blinky and AAARRRGH! will always join them on their adventures.
Vendel could survive this time.
They wouldn't have to leave Arcadia to find a new heartstone.
His mind filled with all the new possibilities, he stood up and dried his tears. 'Huh, wondered if I could still cry as a troll.' Jim had another plan now, one that might just be able to solve his problems. And the first step?
Visit a couple people very special to him.