Ch. 26: Family Reunion

(Cover photo is a collaboration drawing between @MimiNicolette and I. She did the lineart, while I did the coloring, shading, and the background.)

Katheryn quickly helped me to my feet. I turned around to see Trollex inching his way towards me ever so slowly.

"I'll leave you guys be for a while," she said as she backed away from me to go talk to Barb. They had a lot of catching up to do as well. I just stared at Trollex in awe.

Twenty still couldn't believe it had been that long since I'd seen or talked to my son in person. Seems like only yesterday we were playing hide and seek on the beach near Techno Reef...but now, he was king of the techno son...a king...

I offered him a gentle smile as tears began to form in my eyes. I nodded at him.

"I...I...I..." he stuttered as I slowly began to approach him. I reached out and placed my hand on his cheek, and at once, he stopped talking. Queen Poppy noticed what was about to happen and smacked Branch's arm.

"It's happening!" she squealed in delight. "Branch, hold me!"

"Why?" Branch asked as he wrapped his arms around Poppy's waist from behind. "What's happening?"

Poppy shushed him as they both watched us. I sighed, scrunched up my nose, and gave Trollex an Eskimo kiss.

As I pulled my head back to look at him again, I could see tears flooding his eyes as well. He bit down on his lip to stop himself from crying as the realization finally began to sink in. He then slowly rested his chin on my shoulder as I wrapped my arms around him in a tight hug. He didn't hug me back right away; he was still trying his hardest not to cry. He probably didn't want his techno trolls to see him get all emotional.

Other than the brief sniffling noises that he was making, I heard him start to hum a very familiar tune into my ear, almost as if he was giving me one final test to make sure I was who I said I was. A small smile began to appear on my face as I whisper-sang the lullaby into his ear:

Hush now, my baby
Be still love, don't cry

I didn't even have to finish the lyrics. That first line was good enough. He crashed, both emotionally and physically. He threw his arms around me and pulled me as close to him as possible. As he buried his face into my shoulder, his entire body began to shake. If my shoulder wasn't there to muffle him, who knows how loud his cries would've been.

"M-Mom..." he cried into my shoulder. "I-I'm...sorry..."

"Shh..." I whispered as I started to rub circles on his back soothingly. "It's okay..."

"I-I don't know...why I couldn't remember you..." he managed to say in between sobs.

"But you did remember me," I continued to whisper. The tears that had formed in my eyes only moments before slowly began to trickle down my face as I held my son in my arms. "Even though you may have forgotten almost everything about me, you still managed to hold onto the few memories that mattered the most..."

Trollex slowly lifted his head up; his face was drenched with tears. He was still shaking, but he had somehow managed to calm down a bit.

"W-Which ones?..." he sniffled. I cupped his face in my hands and gave him a kiss on his forehead. I could feel my heart filling with nothing but pure love as I stared into his beautiful green eyes.

"How I expressed my love for you..." I choked out. The calm that had washed over Trollex disappeared just as quickly as it had arrived. Fresh tears poured down his face as he held onto me even tighter.

"My mama..." he choked out happily as he closed his eyes and rested his chin on my shoulder again.

"My sweet baby boy..." I managed to say before I also closed my eyes and started bawling loudly. Our cries were quickly drowned out by the sounds of thunderous applause coming from all around us. There were trolls jumping around and cheering, while a few others were sobbing just as loudly as we were.

But then, almost as quickly as they had started, everybody stopped. The entire stadium was almost completely silent, aside from the few sniffles that could be heard every now and then. Why did they suddenly stop?

I opened my eyes, and quickly figured out the answer to my own question within a few seconds. Titus was hovering only a few feet away from us. His hands were shaking and he was staring at Trollex and I in disbelief.

"My that...really you?" he managed to say. I let go of Trollex, which in turn caused him to whimper like a child and grab onto me even tighter. I sighed and patted him on the head.

"I'm not going anywhere," I whispered to him. "I just need to talk to your father real quick. But you're going to have to let go of me for a few minutes. Is that okay?"

Trollex nodded as he slowly loosened his grip and hovered over to the other troll leaders, who had all gathered to one side to talk amongst themselves. I turned my head back towards Titus and crossed my arms.

To be completely honest, now that we weren't at high risk of being turned into rock zombies and were both alive and well, I was kind of pissed off at him.

I had every right to be mad at him right now. He had told me to wait for him to come and save me all those years ago. I waited for him...for twenty years...and in all those years, I thought he had forgotten about me. I thought he never cared about me enough to come and rescue me from my prison, or worst of all...

I thought he had fallen out of love with me...or he never did...I got so low that at one point, I had thought everything he had ever told me was a lie, and he had used me just to get an heir...after all...he chose to save him and not me on that day...

And when he finally did make the trip to Volcano Rock City, it wasn't to rescue me. It was because he was dragged here against his will, along with the other techno

"Where have you been?..." I grumbled under my breath. My tears of joy quickly became hot and angry as I glared daggers at him. He didn't even notice how upset I was. He wasn't even answering me! As he hovered closer, I puffed out my chest and prepared to give him a piece of my mind.

I had an entire lecture ready for him, and I was about to really let him have it, when I finally noticed the glossy look in his eyes. I saw nothing but love and joy in those eyes. I had to quickly look away from him before I could succumb to his loving gaze.

"I waited for you...I thought you would never come...where have you been?..." I asked again. This time, there was a sign of weakness hidden in my voice. I didn't sound upset anymore. All of the negative, angry thoughts that had entered my brain began to dissolve into a mixture of reasons and logical answers. It was like my conscious was trying to convince my heart to stop being so egotistical.

Did he forget about me?...
He thinks about you every day...

Does he care about me?...
He has saved your life more than once...

Does he love me?...
Don't you see the way he looks at you...He always has, and he always will...

My heart and my conscious continued to bicker with each other as Titus continued to move closer to me.

"I'm I? This is...really happening?...You're real...r-right?" His voice was cracking and tears began to fall freely from his eyes. I squeezed mine shut. My head was still tilted towards the ground.

He told me to wait...
He never said how long...

My conscious opened my eyes to help me see the beautiful truth that was standing before me.

He's here now, right?...

I looked at him once more, and in an instant, all of my anger disappeared. I had forgotten why I was mad in the first place. My conscious was right...he was finally here. Wasn't that what really mattered?

My facial expression softened and I lowered my arms to my sides as Titus hovered only a foot away from me.

"I-I'm not going crazy, am I?...I-I can see you...I-I can touch you..." His bottom lip began to quiver as he reached out and gently placed his hand on my face. His touch sent shivers down my spine. My knees began to feel weak, but I quickly caught myself before I could fall over. I stared longingly into his eyes as tears of joy began to fill mine once again.

"Titus, I-" I began to say, but Titus quickly held a finger up to my lips. He brought his face closer to mine until it was only inches away. I could feel his shaky breath on my skin.

"I'm sorry I made you wait for so long," he whispered to me as he caressed my cheek. A smile crept across my face as I lift one of my hands to touch his face as well. He carefully placed his other hand over mine and sighed longingly.

"Then don't make me wait any longer," I whispered back. Within an instant, our lips connected for the first time in over twenty years. His lips tasted exactly how I remembered, if not sweeter. Our teardrops began to mix with one another as they slid down our faces. I could feel our pixel hearts beating as one as they glowed brighter and brighter the longer we had our lips locked together. I had forgotten how much I craved his kiss, his touch, and everything else about him.

I could hear the audience roaring even louder than before, except this time, they didn't stop. They just kept on cheering, even when I pulled my face away from Titus's and continued to stare at him. I missed this so much...I never wanted this to end.

"In all honesty..." I said as I smiled playfully at him. "That was worth the wait."

Titus gave me a goofy smile. "Oh really?" he asked mischievously. "Well, there's more where that came from." He pulled me in for another kiss, except this time, his lips were full of passion. I gladly accepted his kiss as I lifted my arms up until they were dangling over his shoulders. In return, he slithered his hands down my body until they were on my waist. We felt like we were the only trolls left in this world. In fact, we had gotten so lost in our kiss that I barely heard Barb clear her throat.

"I hope you two lovebirds know that you aren't the only trolls here, because the way you are eating each others faces is starting to get a little nasty."

I quickly pulled myself away from Titus as my face flushed bright red with embarrassment. A few trolls were whistling at us from the audience. Oh dear...I looked over at the other troll leaders to find shocked expressions on every one of their faces. Even Trollex looked a bit disgusted. I chuckled nervously.

"What?" I said, acting completely clueless. Titus hovered back over to me and wrapped his arm around my waist. "I haven't seen my husband in a very long time, okay! Can't I kiss him?"

I watched as Barb's eyes widen in surprise. "Wait!" she stammered. "HE'S YOUR HUSBAND?!" I could see Katheryn's jaw drop out of the corner of my eye.

"Absolutely!" I answered confidently. "And in case it wasn't obvious earlier, King Trollex is our son."

"YoU hAvE a SoN!?!?" Katheryn screeched.

"I HAVE A COUSIN?!" Barb screeched just as loudly. I burst out laughing.

"Yep!" I giggled. I motioned for Trollex to come over to us as both Titus and I stretched our arms out towards him. "Come here!"

As a happy smile appeared on his face again, he quickly zoomed over to us and practically jumped into our arms. He latched onto me as both Titus and I wrapped our arms around him in a group hug, which was something I had never gotten to experience until today. More tears of joy fell down our faces as we stood there, hugging and smiling.

I couldn't have been any happier. I had finally been reunited with my family.

"I don't mean to break up this happy moment between y'all, but Queen Barb was supposed to call you over here, doll," I heard Delta Dawn call out to me. "So, can you come over here real quick?"

I sighed, let go of the two techno trolls, and jogged over to where the other troll leaders had gathered in a circle.

"What's up?" Everybody looked at each other, nodded, then turned back to look at me.

"We have made a decision," Queen Essence began.

"Since Trollstopia is now living in harmony once again, we need someone to make sure this peace remains," King Quincy continued.

"We need someone to watch over us, and who else would be better at that than the harmony troll herself!" Trollzart continued.

"Today, you have shown us exactly how far you'd go to keep all trolls safe," Delta Dawn said.

"You made the ultimate sacrifice, which is something none of us could've ever done if we were in your shoes," Barb said. "Figuratively, I mean. None of us wear shoes, so-" Queen Poppy cleared her throat and Barb quickly stopped talking.

"You have proven to be a great leader, a great queen, and a fantastic friend," Poppy squealed. Trollex rushed over to us and finally asked me the question the others were building up to ask me.

"Mom, we would like you to become the keeper of harmony and Queen of Trollstopia, just like our ancestors promised. But the real question is: Do you accept your role?"

I was stunned. Although I had read about this in my Harmony troll book, I never knew such a position was even allowed anymore. However, deep down inside me, I knew this had been my destiny all along! And you know what? I wasn't dreading it. I was excited!

"I accept my role as Queen of Trollstopia!" I shouted. All of the troll leaders smiled and cheered as they turned to face the audience.

"Long live the queen!" They shouted to their tribes.

"Long live the queen!" The audience chanted in unison. I could feel tears in my eyes again, but this time, I fought them back while wiping the remaining tears off my face. I had cried enough for one day.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, a crazy idea popped into my head. I glanced over at Titus and motioned for him to come over to us.

"I would like to make my first request as Queen of Trollstopia!" I said while addressing the other troll leaders. They all turned to look at me as I turned to look at Titus.

"Titus...since you are technically no longer king of the techno trolls...I was wondering..."

"For you, my love, anything!" He said as he held my hands. I laughed. He still acted like a child sometimes. I took a deep breath, and asked him a very simple question:

"Would you like to rule alongside me as King of Trollstopia?"