To the Krel Tarron who first landed on the dump heap they called ‘Earth’, making friends had been the last thing on his mind. He and his sister were walking targets, their parents had been reduced to their life cores and Mother was grounded permanently, unable to fly.
(It hurt to think about Mother now. Krel wondered what he would have done differently had he known what would happen.)
Even as they integrated themselves into human society and explored the ups and downs of life as a ‘teenager’, and Aja quickly grew to regard the primitive life forms as their friends, he remained adamant. But as social as she was, Aja never strayed far from him. They were all each other had, after all. Her friends came with her and pulled him to them, and he’d reluctantly found himself becoming attached. He formed bonds, and found that perhaps it had been rather rude to think of them as primitive, when they were so much more than that.
Now Morando was gone, and so were Aja, Varvatos and Eli. It was lonely without her, the Blanks being the only thing left of their little found family, but they made sure to talk every day. Eli seemed to have grown on her too. It was nice to see her getting used to her position as Queen.
“Mama and Papa would be so proud of you,” he made sure to tell her this as much as possible, though carefully rephrased every time. He didn’t want her to grow tired of hearing it, and it helped to not forget them. She told him about how they were managing. Repairs to the city had begun – on both Arcadia and Akiridion-5 – and the citizens were slowly adjusting. It helped that they’d adapted to change after the Eternal Night incident. Nothing really seemed weird to them anymore.
Krel was grateful for all the free time; to tinker, listen to some tunes on the box of boom (Stuart had given him a new one) and ‘hang out’ with his new friends and allies. He and Toby had grown particularly close, since he felt Steve had only ever gotten along with him for the sake of Aja. Without Aja and Varvatos (and Mother) his old house felt entirely too big for him, so he found himself over at Toby’s home more often than he’d admit. Toby continued to pursue his filmmaking hobby, and Krel begrudgingly began to accept his ‘director’ attitude as being quite endearing. He wasn’t sure why it made him feel so warm, but it was a nice feeling and he did not push it away. Sometimes they would play video games together, when both of them felt so bored about the lack of ‘creepers’ to fight, as Eli would put it. Other times they just sat together in companionable silence. It began to dawn on Krel that there was more to the young troll-fighting human than war-hammers and nougat nummies, because sometimes he would rest his auburn head on Krel’s upper shoulder and they let their bodies relax. It was comforting to know they had each other. That was how they were now, Krel’s new mini-project held loosely in his lower arms, the others flopped over Toby’s polished wooden floor and the cheery sounds from the abandoned game of Go-Go Sushi faded into white noise.
Krel peeks at him and notices his forlorn expression. Without thinking, he asks him, “Are you feeling alright? You look…sad.” Seklos and Gaylen, he’s worse than Varvatos Vex at this.
“I miss them,” Toby answers, his voice unusually quiet, “Jim and Claire and Blinky,” Krel waits for him to continue, “We used to be a team, we were unstoppable. We were the Trollhunters. But now, thanks to Gunmar and -,” he grimaces, “- Merlin, they’ve gone off to New Jersey, Trollmarket is deserted and Aaarrrgghh and I are all that’s left off the old gang in Arcadia.” He fiddles with his controller, ignoring the loud “GAME OVER!” that blared from the TV as a result, “Jim and I were best friends since kindergarten, and I was the first person he told when he got that amulet. We were so excited, we thought it was the coolest thing ever,” he snorts tiredly, “Guess we should’ve seen this coming, huh?”
Krel is silent. He can feel Toby’s heart rate against his chest and waits for it to settle before speaking. “I feel the same way. Now that Aja and Varvatos and all of my family are gone - except the Blanks, I guess – I just feel kind of…numb?” he isn’t quite sure if it’s the right word, “Sometimes I wonder if it was a good idea to stay, but then I remember that I don’t really have anything going for me in Akiridion-5. I’m not ready to be a king. I’m happy here, most of the time. Now I have friends and a home and music. It’s nice.”
Toby adjusts his position a bit and Krel feels a little strange. Nervous, and his stomach flips. Slowly, hesitantly, with every logical part of his brain telling him to pull away, he wraps his arm over Toby Domzalski’s shoulders. The other boy tenses at first but relaxes almost immediately, and he raises his head to smile at Krel. A voice in his head that sounds like Mother hums approvingly.
“I dunno if I can go to New Jersey, but Jim calls when he can. So does Claire. She cut her hair recently, it’s a pixie cut now. She and Jim are still going pretty strong,”
“They sound lively,” Krel comments, borrowing the word from his sister’s vocabulary. Toby’s smiles falls, though, and Krel wonders in a panic if he said something wrong.
“I was a third wheel a lot when they were together. You know, you have your power couple and then there’s just the old best friend that tags along for the ride. I know it sounds horrible and I know Jim cares about me, they both do but…” he sighs in mild frustration.
“I know,” Krel says, and he means it.
“You just can’t stop those feelings, you know. They’re like, always there.”
“At your lowest point,” Krel’s eyes raise up to the ceiling, and he thinks about his own doubts that have plagued him for as long as he can remember.
“Right?” Toby agrees, and it’s quiet again, “You know, Krel, I’m glad you’re here. It’s nice to talk to you.”
“You and I are not so different, Tobias Domzalski,” Krel smiles, and is rewarded with one in return from the human boy.
They sit there close together until Toby’s Nana calls them for afternoon tea and Toby pushes himself up off the floor, yelling loudly but not unkindly to ask if they have any more chocolate chip cookies left.
If the Krel Tarron of then were to look upon him now as he follows his friend down the stairs, his trinket forgotten, and his sister and home-planet over 100 light keltons away, he would be scandalised. But the Krel Tarron of now is wiser and more grown-up than he could ever have hoped to be, and he thinks he finally may be ready to move forward.
(Aja calls later that night and he tells her about his day. She smiles widely and responds to his carefully concealed praise in her blunt and honest way,
“They would be so proud of you too, little brother.”)