A/N: The particular question, which also coined the title - pun intended ;) - was thrown into the ToA Discord server where I'm in by HoneyxMonkey. The resulting ideas around it inspired me to create this short story.

Disclaimer: I don't own Tales of Arcadia (Trollhunters, 3Below, Wizards and Rise of the Titans) or any character which you may recognize from the shows, the movie or books. They belong to Guillermo del Toro and DreamWorks Animation.

Cash, Card, or Gold Coins

Staring into the air, she blew her gum into a bubble. Slowly and carefully... Grinning inwardly, she quickly picked up a tape measure and held it to the bubble.

Ha! That was a new record.

A little further and with a satisfying feeling the bubble burst. Lazily picking the remains off her lips, she continued to chew.

And chewed.

And chewed.

She glanced at her wristwatch. With a groan, the woman threw her head back and looked at the slightly flickering neon tube above her. Just a lousy five minutes had passed since the last time she had checked the time...

Arcadia is a beautiful city. Small but nice. Hardly any crime and so much beautiful nature around it.

Yes, thank you, Mama. Sleepy provincial town, where the sidewalks were folded up after sunset! God, how she missed her various leisure activities in the big city! She had never been bored there. Here? Here was even the job to sleep in, which she had looked for to save money to move back to the city. Let her parents enjoy the meditative idyll of Arcadia Oaks, if that's what they wanted. She, however, was cut out for activity and adventure.

At least if she had been younger, she would have had to go to school here. Not that she longed for her school days back, but there at least she would have connected with other people her age with afternoon-filling homework, school activities, and maybe a fling or two.

But instead she was condemned to stare at this broken neon tube and to wish that it would burst for whatever reason and shower her with small pieces of glass. Then she could surely call it a day early and at least sleep the boredom away.

When she next lifted her eyes from her watch, the front door was swung open and the pervasive silence around her was interrupted with many voices.

Customers! After three endlessly long hours, human life in the store at last!

But as she watched the people come in, her eyes widened.

It was a gaggle of teenagers, who moved strangely crouched and apparently talked to each other as quietly as possible. She looked at the first young man confused. Completely dressed in black with a black helmet and black lines on each of his cheeks, he wasn't exactly your typical small town dweller. What he had in his hand was even more atypical... Starring at it she gulped. Was that a tooth from a megalodon? As... as an axe? What the heck!

She watched in disbelief as another figure stepped closer - dressed and painted like the first, only it was a young woman with a light-tan skin and an afro look, with quite a few twigs and leaves sticking out of it. Scanning her she saw something really disturbing! Strapped around her upper body was a sword scabbard including a corresponding weapon! But, no, that couldn't be. It was too small for a sword - the scabbard could at most accommodate a dagger. Furthermore, her dark trouser legs looked as if they were full of mud up to her knees.

"Can you move a little faster, guys? I'm starving!" she heard another female voice say. This one was barely recognizable as a human, the way she was covered from head to toe in mud and leaves. But that didn't seem to bother her at all. Instead, with a firm grip, she was supporting another person dressed completely in black.

Had there been an MIB convention somewhere nearby that she had missed?

But wait, the fellow the girl was supporting had blue streaks in his hair. What a change, hallelujah!

"Hold on, Teach. A-Tech, can you take over?"

"On it."

This new one seemed to have fallen into a river; his hair and clothes were dripping incessantly. As the puddle he was leaving on the previously clean floor increased, the urge to point out to him that this was a source of danger grew exponentially.

Instead, her gaze was drawn to another figure that - oh God! Did he have gashes on his face? Out of the corner of her eye, she caught the first three swarming out through the store, while the injured chubby boy bent over, panting, and leaning on something that also looked like a strangely shaped and somehow glowing axe. Or hammer. If she was honest, she had always imagined Thor's hammer to look like something like that as a child, until she saw the movie version in the theater.

Should she call an ambulance? Or wait, maybe the police instead? Because either these kids needed help or they were psychos. Then she would certainly need help!

Then the hammer guy straightened up again, and when he turned to the still open front door, she followed him with glances.

"Come on, Hunter, there's no way they were following us. We've got a few minutes."

As this Hunter entered, her jaw dropped. A huge sword in his hands and dressed in white armor, looking right and left, he entered the store walking backwards. When he closed the door after him and turned around, the first thing she noticed was his serious and steady gaze, searching for his comrades one by one and sighing when he apparently found them all.

His protective demeanor screamed to her that he was the leader of the group, and when he opened his mouth, she was one hundred percent sure of it.

"Okay, Warhammer, help Sombra and the Creepslayerz." Swinging his sword onto his back, where there seemed to be some kind of holding device for it that she hadn't noticed before, he took the three steps to the other two and scanned Teach's torso with quick movements of his hands. Hissing, the young man grimaced, and when his legs buckled, the two holding him carefully sat him down so that he could lean against the wall under the seek-find bulletin board.

Without thinking, she got up and opened the small staff fridge for emergencies. With quick steps she approached the three of them while she took her thin shawl around her neck and wrapped it around the cooling pad. When the armored leader's gaze met hers, she stopped and held it up tensely. It only lasted two seconds or so, which seemed a lot longer, until he nodded and she knelt down in front of the injured man.

"Goodness gracious! I have to say I'm impressed by how serious you guys take your LARPing. But you shouldn't overdo it."

She lifted the guy's shirt and carefully pressed the cooling pad against his ribs, where his leader's touch had hurt him. Looking up to gauge his reaction about the frozen chill, she was nearly knocked off her feet at his hazel eyes with an almost golden tint, staring at her with an intensity and depth that made her doubt for a second that a teenager could have such. And whatever he had been doing outside must have charged him electrically, because when his fingers touched hers to detach them and hold the cooling pad himself, her skin suddenly tingled.

Strange, normally she got a real jolt in such situations, but this sensation was even almost pleasant.

"Thank you, Rosalie," he replied after his gaze darted to her name tag for a brief moment.

"No prob. Are you hurt anywhere else?"

He smiled while shaking his head, and she wondered if he'd been hit on his head. If their group had such creative weapons, she could guess what the other groups were armed with. And they really didn't look like props or to be even edgeless. Was it even allowed to carry something like that around?

She then heard quick footsteps behind her, but before she could turn around, the young woman who had helped him before was kneeling next to her.

"Here, Teach." Tearing open a candy bar, she held it out to him, which he accepted with an obvious smile of gratitude.

Sighing, Rosalie got up and looked at the dirt and mud marks from everyone's shoes. "Be careful what you wish for," she muttered to herself as she stepped into the restroom, throwing two regular towels over her shoulder and wetting some paper towels. Then, taking a deep breath, she grabbed the garbage can and equipped with it all stepped back into the entrance area.

There was something surreal about the sight of this group. By now all seven had gathered around the boy with the beautiful eyes, with the two MIB wannabes standing with their backs to them, apparently standing guard and keeping an eye on the area outside the market. The others knelt or stood around the injured guy and everyone was holding a cup and chewing on chocolate bars.

All but their leader. His bar was lying untouched, and a full cup was standing next to him with the fizz bubbling happily around the straw while he surveyed everyone again and at the same time held the cooling pad, so that his comrade could eat and drink.

Without a word, Rosalie handed the dripping boy a towel and threw the second one on the puddle so none of them slipped and possibly dislocated a shoulder or something. Then she pushed the damp paper towels into the hands of the concerned girl and the chubby boy. Up close, the wounds on his face and arms actually looked real, but she couldn't be sure. After all, nobody would go to movies anymore if the filmmakers couldn't pull off real-looking wounds. But better be sure...

"Okay, all of you. Listen up," Rosalie spoke in a firm voice and fortunately had everyone's attention right away. "Do you need an ambulance? And I don't want to hear any bold statements like, we're fine. You there," she said to the boy with the gashes. "Are those wounds real or is that fake blood?"

"Uh..." the latter stammered and then looked at his comrade with the armor.

"She's fierce," she heard the injured young man whisper, leaning his head back against the wall.

With narrowed eyes, she turned her gaze to him and crossed her arms. "Yes I am. I'm the night shift here and you stumbled into my store. That is-"

"Actually, we didn't stumble," the wet boy spoke up, by now rubbing his shoulder-length hair dry.

"Semantics! And please don't interrupt me. Listen, nearly all of you look like you've been dragged through the mud."

"Literally..." muttered the one girl, and against her will Rosalie had to smile.

"Yeah. But really. I don't even want to know what kind of role-playing games you've participated in. Actually, I do, but it's not a priority right now. Shall I call an ambulance for you? Because I can hand you a first aid kit, but other than sticking on band-aids and wrapping up cooling pads, my medical skills are poor."

"Ah, nah, the cuts don't actually hurt. I'll go wash them off under running water and I'll be fine."

"You sure?"

"Absolutely." The smile that beamed at her showed braces and that he was definitely convinced of his statement.

"What about you?" she turned to the other injured man.

"Could be a cracked rib, but it's not too bad."

"Aaaand Dumbledork is playing the hero again. Dude! The Coach won't even let us near the pitch with the suspicion of a cracked rib! And you want to get back into the fray?"

"Maybe we should really call it a day," his guarding partner agreed with him.

"We can't," their leader objected and stood up. If Rosalie had blinked for a second, she would have missed his helmet literally disappearing into thin air. Again, her jaw dropped and she was speechless as she stared at his face now framed by raven hair. But before she could process what she had been seeing, the blue-streaked guy leaned forward with a grimace.

"Jim is right. We need to get back. Archie can't hold them off alone for long and I sense that he's about to fall back!"

"Um, Teach? Mission names?" the muddy girl asked quietly, who was still washing her face with the wet towel, while giving Rosalie a worried look that made her nervous.

"Don't worry, I'll take care of that. Come on, we have to pay for our things."

Slowly he rose, but it was that Jim who stepped up to the cash register looking at her expectantly. Where he suddenly took the wallet from he was holding in his hand was beyond her comprehension. But she was just glad that they had remembered to pay.

"Well then." With a practiced gaze, she counted the empty bar wrappers and the bars that were still lying with the group, added the cups as she stepped back to the register and entered it all in. "That would be eleven energy bars and six cups," she summarized, showing him the total.

"Six cups?"

"Yup, six. Lucky for you we have the ongoing promotion Take seven cups, pay six. But since you haven't had yours yet, Jim, you might want to grab a lid so you don't spill it. Or drink it before you go out again." Showing her best salesman smile, she saw how tired he looked. It instantly pricked her conscience and she felt the need to cheer him up a bit.

"So... King Arthur... Will it be cash, card, or gold coins?"

She wouldn't forget for a long time the completely taken aback expression on his face as he stared at her. When the corners of his mouth twisted into a tiny smile and his body shook as if he was laughing inside, she considered it a success. Then warm laughter reached her ears coming from the background and Dumbledork-Teach, or whatever his real name was, stepped next to his leader.

"Would you actually accept gold coins as payment?"

As if nothing was hurting him, he leaned a little on the counter and looked at her with a wide grin.

With raised eyebrows she stared at him for a few moments and then grinned as well. "Depends. Are you actually in possession of some?"

"We really need to go, Douxie!" whispered Jim beside him, placing the amount penny by penny on the counter.

"I know," he looked at him completely serious for a moment before turning back to her with a smile.

That he could switch so quickly between seriousness and flirtatious insouciance sent a shiver down Rosalie's spine. Either he was a really very talented actor or he had years of experience wearing a mask to fit in saddened her, and when she saw that his smile no longer made his eyes sparkle, she knew that he was no longer maintaining his obviously flirtatious facade.

"Have you been able to hack in yet, A-Tech?"

"You think I'm a rookie, B-O? I've already cut the tape, as you would put it. No one will know we were here."

"What the..." muttered Rosalie, her gaze flickering to the others in the background. For a second she saw that the wet boy had swung the towel over his shoulders and was holding some sort of tablet in his hands.

But then this Douxie - what a strange and at the same time beautiful name! - stepped right into her field of vision.

"I thank you for your help, lovely. But it's better for you not to remember us."

"What?" she gasped, and a cold panic spread through her within seconds. "No! You-"

"I'm sorry."

With both hands he reached out and cupped her face. As he did so, he spoke strange words that Rosalie didn't understand. But she had no time to think about them, for almost immediately her body grew heavy and a fog seemed to form in her mind that grew denser and more impenetrable with each breath.

"Don't fight it. In a few minutes you'll wake up again and everything will be as it was before," he murmured in a soft voice that seemed to add to the effect.

"No..." she tried to resist anyway.

"Sssh... Lie down for a moment. That's it."

In a brief moment of clarity, she noticed that there was a hard surface beneath her face, but she lacked the strength to wonder about it.

"Now sleep..."

Blue-golden eyes were the last thing she saw before sinking into soft darkness.

"Is everyone ready?" Jim asked when Toby returned from the restroom.

"Ready," said Claire, lowering her glowing hands as all the muddy footprints and telltale splashes of blood and water were cleaned up.

"Ready," confirmed Steve and Darci, who were holding up their weapons and would now cover the rear.

"All digital trails cleared, equipment stowed and ready to go." Krel grinned, now glowing faintly blue again.

"Ready to go, Jimbo!"


Looking over his shoulder, he saw his friend brushing a strand of hair from the young woman's face and then lay her shawl down beside her as if it had fallen off on its own in her sleep. Straightening up, he held his magic-glowing right hand against his ribs for a moment and then took a deep breath. His staff appeared in his left hand and, looking grim, he nodded to Jim.

"Ready when you are, my liege."

"Let's go then, Trollhunters! Let us help Archie send the rest of the demons back to hell!"

One by one they stormed out of the market after their leader and silence returned.