You’re pretty sure that you met him when you were six.
You had taken a nasty fall off the jungle gym when you were in kindergarten, and some odd looking boy had shuffled up to you to make sure that you were okay.
He was tiny, had gray skin, wide silver and yellow eyes, and tiny candy corn-lookin’ horns that poked out of the fluff of black hair on his head. You’d never seen anything like him before.
He looked pretty worried, and you were laying there and staring up at him in shock with your arm definitely twisted in a way that was not natural. The look he gave you made tears well up in your eyes and your chest clench in panic, and you opened your mouth to let out a pained cry.
Your little anime shades were awkwardly hanging on your face, and he started to babble about how you might fucking die or how those pointy edges could’ve gone through your goddamn eyeballs. On top of that, he started chewing you out for missing the one monkeybar you were supposed to swing to.
That day ended with a trip to the hospital and a cast on your arm with your Bro scolding you for not finessing those monkeybars well enough. The weirdest thing, though, was that this weird looking person was with you the entire time. And you mean the entire time. He was there in the backseat with you during the ride home, and Bro didn’t even seem to notice or care.
You stared at each other the whole time, your throat threatening to close up from the nervousness of what Bro was yelling about in the background.
This boy made you nervous, and you hated him for that.
No matter where you went, he was there, watching. Sometimes he was quiet when everything was calm, but then there were times when he’d get closer and in your space. He’d whisper about how your Bro could come in any second and that you should be more prepared than holding a stubby crayon in your fingers.
Your Bro had cut you some slack when your arm was casted and for a few months after that, but then one day, he shoved a sword into your tiny hands and raised his own. Your “troll friend”, as you dubbed him, looked panicked, which made you panic. Who the fuck gives a seven year old a fucking sword?
Bro spent the first three months training you in sword fighting techniques, and you didn’t have an actual sword fight until your eighth birthday.
With each swing and clank of metal, your troll friend watched and cringed from the sidelines.
You had grown accustomed to having him around, and it had become a normal part of your life to have him there to warn you.
You’d.. never actually had a conversation or asked if he had a name. But most of the time his face was scrunched up like a baby that had just tried a lemon for the first time, so you decided to call him your Lemon Boy instead. It made more sense, even if he did look like some mythological creature you’d see in Dungeons and Dragons. Troll Friend versus Lemon Boy. Yeah, the latter had a nicer ring to it.
The only times he’d disappear out of your room more often than not was when you were talking to your favorite internet buds that you met on Club Penguin when you were about nine, or when you had your headphones on and were mixing some ill beats. Well, okay, your beats were lacking more at nine, but it was still comforting to you. It was a safe place when you didn’t want to think about school or your Bro knocking you black and blue.
Depending on how long you were doing those things, however, he’d eventually wander back in and sit on the edge of your desk to watch you closely.
For some reason, you never really questioned why he was there until your first serious sword fighting injury. You’d gotten hurt before and had the little scars and marks to prove it, but nothing like when you were eleven.
You should’ve gone to the hospital or something, but obviously you couldn’t or else the scary men would separate you from your only blood relative like your Bro had told you. Foster Care was awful, he told you. He said bad shit only happens to the children there, and that you were lucky to have a roof over your head, clothes on your back, and a good parent that taught you how to defend yourself.
The sword had gone two inches deep in your side, and Bro had cleaned, stitched, and wrapped it up the best he could, but it fucking hurt so bad that you kept sobbing into your pillow.
You felt a light weight sink down on the edge of your bed, and you instinctively knew it was your Lemon Boy. You didn’t want to look, but you already felt a warm hand pressing right below your fresh wound.
Groaning, you had clenched your teeth and peeked up at him with more pathetic tears in your eyes.
“What the fuck do you want now? Why are you still here? Leave me alone!” You hiccuped and tried to swat his hand away, regretting it instantly because ow- you moved too fast for this shit.
But he did retract his hand and frowned. “It’s going to get infected. You need to go to the hospital, cuntbait. You’ll lose too much blood or it’ll get infected and that gross pus shit will start spewing out! Come on, get up! You need to go now!” At this point, he had started to lightly shake you, and he seemed genuinely concerned.
You hated it and the way he looked at you, and you slapped at his hands again. “I said leave me alone!” You sat up, scrambling to press your back up against your wall to get him away. Your chest was doing that tightening thing again, and his words swirled in your head. You didn’t want to die or have that nasty, smelly pus crap oozing out of your body.
But Bro said that people have survived worse than this without professional medical care and shittier medical supplies. He had to be right, right?
“Dave, get up! I know it hurts! It hurts a lot, right? It can feel better if-”
You shook your head and held your side, grimacing. “Shut up! Why do you always have to tell me stupid shit? I’m fine! I’ll be fine!”
“No, you won’t! You’ll probably be dead in the next two days!”
You kept shaking your head vehemently at him, just wanting him to stop. You’d be fine. You knew you would be fine. “I said shut up!” You snapped and kicked his leg with your foot, which startled him and almost got him off the bed. “Why do you always follow me and watch me?! I fucking hate you, you weirdo!” You’re certain your prepubescent voice cracked in there once or twice, but he looked upset nonetheless.
“I don’t-” He tried to start, but you cut him off.
“You don’t do anything to help me when I need it! You just sit there and watch this happen, so stop it! Go away! I don’t want you around me anymore! All you’ve ever done is get me to worry and believe all the messed up stuff you’ve told me!” You threw a pillow at him, and he growled when you got him in the face.
He grabbed the pillow and tossed it back, but just missed your head and hit the wall. “There are so many things that could go wrong! I’m trying to look out for your sorry ass! Why do you keep trying to get rid of me for wanting to help you?” His eyebrows furrowed and you clutch the pillow, trying to not let his sincerely hurt expression get to you.
“...I don’t need your help. You’re not helpful to me. I can handle myself. You just make me feel nervous and upset for no reason. How is that helpful?” You furrowed your own eyebrows at him and examined him closely, your eyes drifting down to his hands that were wringing over and over.
He then clenched his fists and looked right into your eyes, honest and sincere as he always was. “You’re stuck with me, though. You can’t just throw me away. I’ve always been a part of you, Dave. I don’t want to go.” You could swear that he looked a bit close to tears, and you had to avert your gaze. You were just kids. You didn’t understand this, and neither did he.
When you extended out your hand for him, he seemed confused by it until you sighed and simply grabbed one of his hands to hold. You were still in pain, but the comfort of someone’s hand was nice.
You were seventeen now, and your weird ass Lemon Boy didn’t even tell you his actual name until you turned sixteen. He told you that Lemon Boy was a fucking retarded name, but you tried to explain a few times why it was fitting and why you’d silently called him that all these years while chuckling over his reaction.
His name was Karkat and you still weren’t exactly sure what he was. He was just.. there. It took you awhile to notice that Bro couldn’t see him. Although, you don’t know how that took you so long, considering Bro never once questioned why there was a gray-skinned boy in your apartment at all hours of the day.
Some of your friends could see him. But only the ones who were close to you and knew what you were actually like, so it wasn’t many people.
When you had a video call with Rose, she was the first person other than yourself to ever take notice of your Lemon Boy hanging around you. You almost shit bricks, and so did Karkat. She was fascinated with him and the way he looked, noting just how alien and abnormal he was.
It took a lot of fuckery and explaining to tell her that you didn’t even know what he was, and that she was the only other person who could see him. Fuck, you didn’t even think Karkat knew what he was. All you had was some vague clue that he told you when you were eleven. I’ve always been a part of you, he’d said. Whatever that meant.
Sometimes you still had these moments where your chest tightened and your stomach churned, and all you could feel was pure dread with Karkat watching over you. You’d even thrown up a handful of times from how bad it was, and he always seemed to try and comfort you afterwards. Any of his nervous thoughts resonated through you and wound you up, and he hated himself for it and you could tell. You wanted to hate him for making you feel that way, but you knew neither of you could help it.
But you’re pretty sure you knew that you’d both be okay. He’d always be there, and you’d have to hold his hand and let him hold yours to get over everything together just fine. He was your Lemon Boy, after all. You had time to figure it out. For now, you'd learn to care for him like he tried to care for you.