As siblings, Krel knows a lot things about Aja; like how impatient she can be, how she strives to become a great warrior, but most importantly how easily distracted his sister is. So he knew something was off when he saw Aja staring at a boy curiously.
The boy, as far as Krel knew, was tall, had short black hair and wore a blue sweater; the human didn't seem that interesting other than the fact that he constantly nervous. So at lunch, when Krel saw that his sister was still staring at the boy, he decided to ask her one simple question.
"Aja, why are you looking at that human?"
She quickly turned around and laughed, her face turning red. "What human?"
Krel rolled his eyes and pointing at the table in front of them. "That boy, you've been staring at him for a few days now."
Aja then scoffed at the notion. "I have not, you must be seeing things little brother."
Krel huffed in response and decided to change the subject, maybe Varvatos might know what to do.
Jim leaned to a different direction to see Aja while trying his best not to draw too much attention to himself, he had seen her a few days ago, and since then he wanted to talk to her but he was too nervous to do so. And that's what brings Jim to have a great idea in which he simply looks at her from afar.
"What are looking at Jimbo?" Toby asked in curiosity.
"Um nothing."He responded as Jim started fidgeting with his hands.
Claire knew he was lying so she turned to were Jim was staring.
"Is it the new foreign exchange students?" She asked.
Jim's face then became red. "No!"
"Ha! Your lying." Toby stated before realizing. "You have a crush on one of them."
"He does!" Claire said with a gasp.
And what sealed the deal was that Jim started to stutter and fumble on his words. His only coherent response was a frustrating yell before running off.
"Heheh he totally has a crush." Toby stated to Claire.
"Yeah, and I believe that Jim needs a little "push" to right direction."
"Stewart, Aja needs to know about a human boy, tall, black hair, acts strange around other humans."
"Krel!" Aja shouted before she punches her brother by the shoulder.
"Huh,with that description that kind of sounds like Jim Lake Jr." Stewart said as he was restocking his shop.
"Really?" She asked, with her mood immediately shifting.
"Yeah, real sweetheart; doesn't have a lot of friends though, he's always busy doing something and is usually known for skipping classes, poor boy is always on edge."
"Varvatos Vex questions why the queen in waiting is so intrigued by this human boy?" He asked, waving his walking stick at Aja.
"I don't know, I just saw him one day, he looked very… lively." She explained, her rubbing her neck as Aja blush slightly.
"Does the queen in waiting wish to court this Jim?" Aja was about to deny that claim but instead she simply shrugged, since she never actually met or interacted with him.
"Well, if there's one person who you would want to hook up with in Arcadia, then Jim Lake is definitely the one to pick." Stewart stated as a way to make Aja feel better.
"So what's this I hear about you and this girl at school?" Jim sighed at his mother's question.
"Toby told you." He muttered, flipping the stake from the frying pan.
"He's a talker Jim, you should know that by now." Barbara said with a chuckle as she sipped her tea.
"I know, I know." Jim added some seasoning to the steak and let it sizzle for a while.
"You think she's the one?" She asked, sounding a bit more serious tone.
"Not sure, I haven't really gotten the chance to talk to her." He answered, knowing where the question was coming from, he slid the steak to a plate and placed it in front of his mother.
"Thanks Jim." Barbara took a bite out of the steak and hummed happily. "And the girl's name?"
"Hm, Aja, I've never heard of her."
"She's a foreign exchange student."
Silence filled the room as the two ate dinner, as he ate, Jim started to recall the first time seeing Aja. She is so full of energy and excitement that he swore that Aja could travel around the world in two days, Jim's heart would melt whenever he got the chance to hear her laugh. "Jim, sweety, are you alright?" His mother asked with a worried smile.
"Huh? Oh yeah I'm fine." Barbara gave him a "Uh huh." as a response.
"I think now is the time you should start taking to her." She said, finishing her stake.
"Mom, it would be a miracle if I had enough courage to even make small talk with her."
"I'm only going to say this, where there's a will, there's a way." His mother stated before leaving the table.
"Your assignment this week is to create a project reflecting what you learned this year, and I swear if I see someone make another volcano, I will make all of you fail!" Mrs. Janeth explained as she passed out the criteria for the project. "You will be working in groups of two."
Jim smiled as he already knew who his partner would be, he swiftly walked to where his best friend sat. "Hey Tobes, I guess it's just you me as always."
"Uh yeah about that." Toby clarified.
"Um what is it?" Jim asked, already thinking of a thousand scenarios that involved him screwing up and affecting his relationship with Toby in the process.
"I'm doing a project with Darci, we already have the whole thing planned out, sorry Jimbo."
"O-oh okay." Jim felt a little betrayed by that since they would practically do everything together, but he understood why. Darci was his girlfriend and doing schoolwork might be a couple thing, right? Jim walked away and awkwardly stood in the middle of the class. He saw that Steve and Eli were already in a group together so that was a no until Jim then realized that Claire was by herself and thought he could give a go.
"Hey Claire, do you um, want to be partners for the project." Claire was almost going to say yes before she made eye contact with Mary. From afar, Mary gestured Claire to come with her then pointed and Jim and Aja.
She understood what her friend met and gave the boy next to her an apologetic smile. "Sorry Jim, Mary asked me first and I said yes."
"Th-that's fine." Jim reassured with shaky voice as he was starting to feel his throat becoming a bit tight. Claire got up from her seat while getting all of her stuff and rushed towards Mary.
"Can't believe you almost ruined our plan C-bomb." Mary whispered.
"Sorry about that, but did you see the look on Jim's face, he was so heartbroken." Claire sighed, feeling incredibly guilty for what she did.
"I know Jim cares a lot about you and Toby, but in the long run he going to thank us in the future." Mary reassured as she wrapped her arms around Claire's neck.
Maybe Jim will thank his friends in the future, but for now he had the strong urge to ditch them all in a deserted island. Jim looked to see if there was anyone left and saw Shannon alone and reserved as always. "Hi Shannon, do want to want to work on the project together." A girl's shoulders tense and avoided looking at him or so he thought, in reality Shannon silently pleading the others for help since there was no one besides Jim that didn't have a partner.
In the table next to them were Aja and Krel. "We could use paint to make it look colorful, the board is going to be very huge and we could use those strange human attire at the store we saw…" Krel's mind wandered for a bit as he let his big sister ramble on about the project, it then his eyes laid upon Shannon and Jim, the boy Aja liked. He looked at his sister, then Jim, then his sister again and got an idea.
Krel stood up and walked towards the two teens. "Little brother, where are you going?" Usually Aja would go and follow her brother to whatever direction he was at, but since Krel was walking at Jim's direction, she was too flustered to go with him.
"Pardon me but are you in need of a partner for the scientific project? If so then I would be glad to assist you." Krel asked politely.
"Sure!" Shannon said, almost sound quite relieved. Jim wanted to say something or at least speak his mind, but he thought that it would be rude; if Shannon wanted to be someone else then so be it, still that doesn't mean it didn't hurt less as the last time. Jim could feel his throat getting tighter but resisted the urge to cry and sat back down to his seat.
Aja really couldn't believe that her brother left her for another student, she huffed in annoyance and looked around to see if there were any other student that didn't have anybody. The person Aja could find was Jim, she felt as if there were butterflies in her stomach. Aja took a deep breath and started to approach Jim. The others eyed at the two of them silently, waiting to see what would happen.
"Hi." Aja said nervously, waving at him from the side.
"Hey." Jim responded, grabbing his hair and pulling it slightly.
Aja shifted her weight back and forth. "Do you…. Do you want to be my partner for the scientific project?" Jim tried to answer but he had trouble putting the words together, making his sentences sound like gibberish, so he quickly nodded instead with a sheepish smile, the bell soon ran which meant it was lunchtime.
"Lively! Tomorrow, at my house?" Aja smiled excitedly when Jim nodded again.
At this point she couldn't contain her excitement so Aja hugged Jim before leaving, it took about ten for the boy to process what just happen. He was distracted for the rest of the day thinking about Aja and what to do for tomorrow.
Jim gazed at the house and look back at the phone in which he saw the address Aja gave him, he tried his best to shake off his nerves and knocked on the front door. Noises came from the house before a tall, brown haired man opened the door. "Ahoy there champ, the name is Ricky Blank!"
"Jim Lake Jr, I'm your daughter's science partner." He said, trying to politely escape the man's strong grip.
"My you have quite a hold there bucko, I can barely feel my hand." Jim forced a smile on his face as he felt his knuckles crack.
"I wouldn't be so sure." He thought.
Jim was then dragged inside and he looked at his surroundings, Aja's house looked old fashioned and in a good way. Jim let his hand touch the wooden table next to him and felt how smooth it was.
His train of thought was cut short as someone grabbed him by the arm "Oh is the lucky man whose with our daughter?" A blonde woman who wore a dress with an apron said with a large grin.
"In a way, yes." Jim mumbled
"Well expect no funny business between you alright, we care about our princess very much." The woman added before going back to sweeping the house, giggling as she left.
"...Okay." Then Jim's left arm was being pulled down by an old man.
"Are you Jame Lake Jr.?" The old man asked, not sounding too pleased about him.
"Y...yes sir." The man pushed Jim to get a closer look, his eyes narrowing.
"Hurt the queen-in-waiting and I'll be sure to give you a glorious death." Jim was very startled by the comment and tried to escape the man's grasp in most polite way he could.
"That's enough Varvatos, you shouldn't scare our guest." Aja said, pulling Jim away for Varvatos. "He's here because our school is doing a scientific project and we need to be in a group."
"Really? Varvatos thought he had come here to cou-."
"Okay, we're just going to be in my room to plan our project, bye." Aja quickly said, as she rushed to her room while dragging Jim.
"You have very nice… room." He remarked, looking at his surroundings.
"Ah thank you, sorry about Varvatos, he doesn't like new people." Aja explained.
Jim let out a nervous laugh and started rubbing the back of his neck."That's alright, um, so should we start brainstorming or…"
"Hm? Oh! Right, let me just." Aja searched around her room to find a pencil and paper.
"Is this what you're looking for?" The queen in waiting turned around and saw Jim holding a notebook on one hand and a blue pen on the other.
"Thank you Jim."Aja said. "So which subject will we chose for our scientific project?"
"Well I was more into earth science, but I think it'll be interesting if we add other subject that we learn this year." Jim explained.
He then chuckled at the comment, which made Aja's heart flutter. "Yeah, like space, though I didn't learn much about astrology since I kept missing class a lot."
"And why is that?" Aja asked out of curiosity.
Jim froze for a moment, his mind scrambling around to make some kind of excuse, so he let out a nervous laugh while tugging his collar"Personal issues, anyways all we need to do is to brainstorm what our presentation will look like and what we'll say."
The young Akiridion pursed her lips. "Hmm, maybe the both of us could talk about one subject for the scientific project."
The two kept throwing ideas left and right, in which they settled with Aja presenting about the Astrology segment while Jim took the Earth science. When it was time to plan out what the project would look like, Aja immediately started to ramble about the presentation and what materials they needed. She sometimes talked so fast that it was hard for Jim to understand her.
While Aja sketched the appearance of the presentation, Jim was researching the subject on the computer, writing notes down on his own notebook.
Once Aja was done, they went to the store to buy their materials, the queen in waiting grabbed various cardboards and and black fabrics. Although Jim reassured Aja that his mom would allow them to use her paints, he remembered that there were some that needed to be refilled as well as buying new brushes.
Once the two had all that they needed, Aja and Jim makes the project from his backyard. While Jim was careful and made calm brush strokes as to not make any mistakes; Aja made quick and messy brush strokes, spreading paint all over her.
In the night when Jim didn't have any trollhunter duties, he was busy fixing notes as much as possible. Jim didn't want to mess up like he did with so many things; even when his notes seemed perfect, he felt like there was something wrong with it. Aja enjoyed spending time with Jim on this project, she has never met a human as peculiar as him. Jim was extremely generous as kept suggesting that they could recycle the things he had.
Aja wondered if she would miss him when the time comes that she has to leave Earth, Aja didn't want to hurt Jim like that. She blew a raspberry and hit herself with her pillow; tomorrow was the day they would present their project at the science museum. Earlier in the morning, Aja bragged to Krel that their presentation was very lively, and she truly believed that.
Both Aja and Jim woke up early in order to make it in time for the presentation, since their project so big it would take about two hours or more to be in the museum. While Aja had no problem carrying right side, Jim was having trouble because of his arm being recently injured by a rampaging Gumm-gumm.
"Are you alright Jim?" Aja asked as she heard Jim hissed in pain.
"I'm fine, just a tad bit sore." He lied, lifting his left shoulder to make sure his book bag wouldn't fall.
"Maybe we should've asked your mother for help."
"No, um, she was sleeping so we shouldn't, uh, yeah." Jim explained, recalling how tired she before he left.
After three hours or so of awkward silence, they made to the museum; many students stared at them and their project as they continued to walk. While Aja didn't seem to notice, Jim certainly did; he looked down and tried his best to control his breathing, letting his science partner guide him to the entrance.
Once the two were inside, they started prepping their project. Aja looked in awe at the student's project, some were small and simple while the others big and project was made of cardboard with painted town as well as the black fabric covering the top.
Jim gave Aja her script while he took out his; he felt like he couldn't breathe anyone, with the addition of his throat closing in. The little voice inside Jim's head told him that he messed up, that they would fail this presentation because of him. He failed to keep Gumnar in the Darklands, what's to say Jim couldn't fail on his academics like he has for so long.
"Hey Jim, the teachers are almost coming, are you excited? Because I am!" Aja's smile slowly fell she then noticed how Jim didn't look happy. "Is there something wrong?"
He wanted to lie to her, but Jim felt like if he spoke more than one word, he would break. "I... I'm scared…" Tears were starting form in his eyes
Aja quickly walked towards Jim and placed her hand on his shoulder. "It's alright Jim, after we're done, you won't be afraid anymore."
"That's not true, I'm going to mess up, I always do. You're so confident that we did a job, I'm scared that… that I do enough." The queen in waiting watched as Jim was sobbing.
She responded by smacking both of her hands on Jim's cheeks and pulled him closer to. "Jim, I haven't read your scripts yet, but I bet it's the most amazing thing I'll read. We've all made mistakes, but that's what makes us… human."
Aja looked at the crowd and noticed that Jim's mom was there, so she looked back at him. "You also helped me with the project, and I am forever grateful because of that. To me Jim, you are the most extraordinary person I've ever met on this planet."
Jim gave out a small sniffle and started wiping his tears. "Thank you."
Aja then smiled at him and gently patted his back. "Just breath."
So Jim then inhaled. One...Two...Three...Four
Then exhaled. One...Two...Three...Four...Five...Six
"Okay, let's do this." Aja then ruffled Jim's hair and walked to the teacher in which he slowly followed her.
Aja started the presentation by an introduction of what her subject was about, then Jim did his introduction while stuttering a bit. Then when they went inside, it was a dark room with small LED light bulbs that were glued on the black fabric that made it look like the night sky; in the cardboard were gemstones that they painted with colored light bulbs.
Jim tried his best to speak clearly as he could with the teachers while Aja had no problem talking, but they both expressed their passion about their subject. The teachers were impressed and said that they would most definitely get a good grade.
Then a visitor came to check their project, Jim got a little more confident the more he spoke. After a while, his mom came to see them.
"Mom, what are you doing her? I thought you were at work?"
"Oh I was, but I got a call from someone named Varvatos Vex, and he told me you had a science project, so I took the day off." Barbara explained.
Jim then scratched the back of his head. "I'm glad you came mom, we really appreciate it."
"Anything for my son, now come on, I want to take a picture of you two." Barbara said, her phone already out.
"Mom!" Jim exclaimed, his face turned red.
"It's alright Jim." Aja suddenly wrapped her arms around Jim's neck. "I don't mind."
"Well if she doesn't mind, then that's fine by me." Barbara remarked.
"Fine." Jim mumbled.
Once his mother took the picture, it was photo of the of them; with Aja having a large smile on her face while Jim had timid smile.