Disclaimer: Not mines. Make no money I. No sue, please.
Warnings: A/L Slash. No flame.
Author’s Note: MY EMAIL CHANGED!!! Isn’t that electrifying? Um, this is terribly embarrassing, please accept my most sincere apologies, but my story was ARCHIVED, somewhere, and, uh, well, I don’t remember where. Or whom. I can remember web layout and the other stories and other categories, but not the NAME. At all. Very embarrassing. I don’t even have the original email anymore, because I can’t access my old email. It dislikes me. So if, um, you’re reading this, and this rings a bell, please email me. It’s gelfling8604 @ yahoo.com, just so everybody knows.
Quick update on setting: Gandalf is back and alive (spoiler), and he takes the Company to the Rohan city. Is night there right now, and our heroes are spending the night. This isn’t anywhere in the book, but the TIME, for it to happen is there. They’re in a CITY. That’s important.
Part 9 - In the Bar
Aragorn was missing. Again. Gimli was beginning to sense a trend. Since the day that Aragorn had returned from his “discussion” with Legolas, bloodied and bruised, Gimli had kept quiet, and as far away from both as possible. Aragorn had simply glared at the short member of the Company, and Gimli had glared back. A short, sullen silence filled the air, and Gimli was itching for his ax in his hand, and not in his belt.
All Aragorn had said was, “Stay out of it.” Gimli had not deigned to reply.
He would not apologize, he was guilty of nothing, and if he did say something it would be less than humble, and the dwarf had no desire to fight either member of the Company. He wouldn’t mind a good brawl; something to clear the air and pummel some sense and respect into each other like he used to back home, but that wouldn’t work here. He really was in a foreign land, with foreigners he had thought he understood. But nothing normal worked here.
Why Legolas was so infatuated with the surly and silent Ranger and vice versa was something Gimli did not, would not even try to understand.
Legolas would not speak with him, would not even return the dwarf’s questioning glances. It was even worse than Aragorn’s callousness. Then there was that woman. She was pretty enough, and royalty, a member of Theoden’s court, and their hostess. Not quite as pretty or gracious as the Lady Galadriel, but pretty enough. Pretty enough to catch Aragorn’s eye, and he her own.
She had watched him throughout dinner, refilled his cup when he emptied it, and met his eyes when he looked back at her. Legolas had bent two spoons and one knife without realizing until he looked at the utensil or Gimli had nudged him. He had not even realized his hand was bleeding from the blade until Gimli had hissed and glared at him. Legolas had kept his head bent and eyes down after that, and ate with his left hand.
After he had seen where Theoden had lodged him for the night and perused the room, thanked every god he knew for the walls and roofs and pushed the wardrobe in front of the windows to keep as much light out as possible. If the air would only have been a bit stiller and dead, he could almost feel his father’s mines.
Legolas was not in his room when Gimli went to check, nor was he after nightfall. When Gimli found him again at around ten at night in his guest quarters the Elf had been sharpening his knives with a single-minded intensity that vampire would have been envious of.
Scrape, scrape, turn, slide up-down twice doubled, then scrape scrape, turn and repeat.
“Aye, Elf! Where in the ‘ells is that bloke? ‘E said ‘e was gonna be right aroun’ ‘ere but, wouldenna ya be guessin’, took off in the next third secon’ nobody was lookin’.”
Scrape slide, crosswise scrape pushing into the metal along the edge, pushing out the dents, making the edges ever sharper, ever thinner, ever sleeker.
“Aye, Elf? ‘Ave ya seen ‘im? Aye, I’m talkin’ ta ye! Elf? Didja go deaf, with those two huge buggers on the-“
“Um. Somethin’…look, maybe it didn’t work, an’ maybe I am sorry, not sayin’ I am, butcha gotta know lad if somethin’ t’were ta happen ta ‘im then-”
“Weeel, all right, if you’re sure.”
Gimli went to bed after that. He pumped up the fireplace as scorching as a blacksmith’s furnace, and dragged the blankets off of the bed, and after some serious thinking stole two of the pillows as well, and went to sleep underneath the bed. The roof was much closer that way, and far more comforting. Legolas woke him up after midnight by poking at his nose.
“Did you find him?”
“Aye? Oh, elf, it’s ye, for a minute I was thinkin’ that-”
“Did you find him?”
“Eh? Ah. Ahhhh…no. Nay, I didna, but I wouldna fret overit, Aragorn’s a grown man, an’ a Ranger tas well, so I’d be well enough thinkin’ he’d could take care o’ himself well enough, seein’ ‘ow ‘e did nearly take us through here and there and all o’ Fangorn on his own, so there isn’t tanythin’ ta be worryin’ over.”
Legolas had blinked at Gimli, his blond hair spilling on the floor, his weight supported on his hands on the floor. He had nodded his thanks, then stood and walked silently out. Gimli stayed awake a bit longer, then pulled the covers up higher and fell asleep.
Legolas found Aragorn in a bar, after searching the House, the stables, the kitchen, and the Lady Eowyn’s quarters as well.
He hadn’t actually entered, but had simply…glanced in discreetly, and listened with all the patience and skill he had been born with and learned. He was gratified and relieved that the Lady slept alone, and had blushed furiously. He didn’t like what he was thinking, he hated, no, loathed, what he was feeling…but that didn’t stop him from doing either.
He had escaped into the town, avoiding everyone with eyes at the cost of walking and jumping across the roofs, hanging on the walls and hiding in the shadows.
He sat down next to Aragorn silently in the empty bar, the smell of beer and salt ingrained even in the wood of the table. The bar was empty of even a keeper, Aragorn the only customer. Legolas had almost not recognized, but his eyes caught the ivory handle of Anduril in the morose darkness. The silence hung between them, until Aragorn spoke.
“Dooye e’er know why, um, nah, wonder…why werewolves are, um…sad. Always. An’ orcs. Too. An’ whyen we kill ‘em?” Aragorn slurred, the lines faint on his face.
“Because they are fell, Aragorn, and would kill us, given the chance.” Legolas answered patiently, as if to a child.
Aragorn frowned, his brain slowed, yet still definite. “Errhmm.”
Legolas sighed. “Because they can derive no pleasure save from blood, most often our own”, he stated quietly.
Aragorn grinned brightly.
“Exactly! And ‘cause they, um, ‘hey want powher. Ower us. Any’hing. Funny ‘hing, power, ya know, because…” there was a pause, and a vacant stare. “ ‘cuase…Nobody says no. Ae’ing migh happen. Aniythin’ good, issall ‘ventures and drink and good food daaammmnn good food wi’ jolly friends and wennn-ches all aroun’ an’ aboun’ an’ abou and aroun’...”
Aragorn whirled his hand descriptively in the air; his arm following the motion and falling out of his chair to one side till Legolas pulled his seat back to the stool.
“That not be the true nature of life, Aragorn.” Aragorn didn’t appear to hear.
“Powher..Power,” here Aragorn said the word ardently, a theatrical tone entering his voice, “Power ken bring ya ae’ing, ih kin bring ‘eedom, ih kin bring joy,” here his voice lost it’s edge and deep baritone, a raspy whisper replacing it, “ih kin e’en…it kin e’en bring ya…love, Legolas.” Aragorn voice had cracked at the word “love”, and his fist clenched.
Legolas fidgeted on his stool.
“Thou knows that not be-”
“Anything Legolas… en’ quiet up, oose tellin’ ‘his story, yer or I? Aiway, that’s wha’ ‘ey…we, Men, ‘hink….Believe.”
“Men kiv ‘oney lives, elf.” Aragorn continued quietly. “Wehrall rivals, issall enemies, all fightin’ fer dat pohwer, ‘at joy zhat comes in gold and blood tha’ weone bother ta make erown joy.”
Legolas opened his mouth. Aragorn waved him away.
“We don’t ‘ike each other. Trust me. I’ve known….hhhhundredssss,” he waved one arm in a circle, “Men from e’erywhere on Middle Earth, Men from ‘orodwaith inna north ta Harondor and Rhun to Wessern Forlindon. We don ‘ike each other, an’ we don’ like ta share. Hobbits are some’hin’ now, now, theys do love each ohher somemow, an’…they make their own joy. They are very smart.” Aragorn nodded sagely.
“You,…you elves are differ..din….Elves. Yeah. You stick toge’her, e’en when you don’t like each other, ‘cause zhat’s what you are. Tha’s whatchu do.” Aragorn’s gaze wavered and drifted to the counter. “’cuase sere’s so little of you left anyway, and dwarves…well, they…stick…dwarves. Yeah. They are.” Confusion crossed Aragorn’s face, followed by attentiveness.
Legolas raised his eyebrows, his eyelids demurely lowered while his turned downcast to the bar, and one corner of his mouth twitched up once. The other joined it, into one of the few smiles that he had given in three months. His eyes softened.
Aragorn sniffed through his nose, and swirled his drink around again in his hand. He did that often when he was nervous, or thinking.
“I’ss lonely. Bein’ human. I’soo lonely.”
Thus dropped the rock.
“Someone ahways wants what you got, e’en iffen ‘snothing, because we wan’ more. We wan’ that power. We wan’ that love. It’s cold, and weak…and getting weaker everyday.”
He took a drink.
“Gandalf was wrong. Old boy. King of men…no. Not me. Nothing short of a miracle, that one. Like wolves, we are…looking fer the light…looking for hope, yeah, ahways, taking but we know we shouldn’t…just for a little while. Just a little while.” Aragorn said again, moving the mug to his lips.
He rasped, softly, so soft the words almost ran together into drivel, “It would be so much colder, if we didn’t. Much, much colder. You couldn’t believe. Never.”
“This weakness, this…this keeps us going…we’d die, if we didn’t give in, once in a while. Gives us strength, our weakness. Yeah. See… bottles there.”
Aragorn pointed at a empty space on the counter, but Legolas could see knocked down bottles around it and on the ground.
“Shouldn’t have had ‘em. Nope. Nononono…No. Trying to find joy, trying to…drink the world away. Yup…Not real, this peace,” Aragorn smiled softly, sadly, yet not bitter. “No…It’ll leave. Always,” he whispered quietly.
“It’s too good, too good for me, too good to hold, to…to stay.” Aragorn face became blank, thoughtful.
“But, even though I don’t have it…Even though, it’s not, mine,” Aragorn lingered on the word, breathing life into the syllables, “even though…all that…I’ll miss it, still, when it goes. Like you.”
“I shalt not leave. Not without you.”
“You will. You will. Ah, yes.” Blood shot eyes grinned at the counter.
“I’m in love with you.” Honest eyes seeped onto the blotched counter, trailing emotions through the stale beer and dust, edging closer to the other’s elbow. “Shouldn’t have. Shouldn’t be. But I’ll miss you, when you go. An’ you’re not even mine.”
Aragorn gave a light chuckle coated in a moan.
“Feel sorry for you….No matter what happens, even if we win the Ring and beat Sauron or lose, lose it all, all…No matter what, I won’t see it. Not all. I won’t know.”
Aragorn sipped from his mug.
“I’ll die, you know…and I won’t be thinking ‘What if I did…’.an’ ‘What if I’d gone...’. an’ whatever and all. What if, what if…and you’ll hear that all your life. Yup. Youuu, bugger. And I’ll be dead. Poor bastard.”
Aragorn turned to look at him, his eyes bright and direct, and a bright, drunk smile on his face.
“Just like the orcs.”
There was a dangerously feverish, awkward pause. Aragorn smiled faintly, and slowly revolved his head back to the counter, giving the elf his profile. He threw back the pint and his head, his throat working as it swallowed the liquid down.
“Thou art a very merry person when thy drinks, Aragorn.”
Aragorn did not even blink, might not even heard the words, and dropped his head down to his chest, his jagged dark hair effectively covering his face, the tanned column of his neck visible, yet pale against his shirt.
Then he laughed, loud and offensive, the sound shattering the sacred silence that had blanked the bar. Legolas jumped on his seat, his mouth opened awkwardly.
Aragorn’s sides heaved, he clutched both sides of the counter and his laughter bordered on hysteria and madness, his body convulsing as he lowered his head under the counter and gasped for breath while he continued to chortle.
When Legolas sat back down his cheeks were painted a light peach color, before paling and his mouth closed and his lips set themselves into a thin line. His voice turned cold, flat.
“We will go now, Aragorn,” he said, stretching the ‘will’. “We have dallied in this foolishness long enough, you agree?”
“Why?” Aragorn laughed, “So we kin go back ta th’ same damn folly out there?” He giggled, and poured himself more ale from one of the two upright bottles on the counter. Legolas’ eyes followed the flow, and he grew colder. His voice turned deadly soft.
“It be not folly, and thee know it.” Legolas’ shoulders squared and his voice grew firmer, but still soft. “Time enough to end this self-pity, this disgraceful image. Come, there are others out there worth more than that drink you cradle now. What of Gandalf, and Boromir? What of the hobbits, of Frodo? What of Gondor, Aragorn, what of the Ring?”
“Speak not to me of the Ring, Elf, I know that fine enough!” Aragorn shouted back, anger boiling off in alcoholic draughts rising out of his seat and swinging towards the Elf. Their leggings touched, and the air between them sizzled.
The fog burned from Aragorn’s eyes, the blood and lineage of the Numerons visible for the first time since the counsel of Elrond and meeting Eomer. His eyes smoldered, his cheeks were flushed from the ale and his face gaunt from everything in general.
“Of that…I know.” He stated softly, dangerously. Even drunk, a Ranger is still dangerous, sometimes more so. Aragorn tottered side to side, then sat down again on his stool. His eyes were still hostile, but the anger drained slowly from his muscles.
“Of that…I know indeed.” He whispered again, and stared moodily across the counter. “Too well.” He sighed deeply, and swirled the content of his mug. He pursed his lips, and drew in a deep, calming breath. Legolas shifted in his seat, turned halfway to the counter and raised his chin.
“So you see, that’s the difference. The big difference. You Elves are so different, so,…beautiful,” he turned on his stool, tore one hand off the mug, and which glided across the void that separated them, hovering anxiously in the air between.
Legolas’ hand crept on to his thigh.
“So very,” Aragorn’s hand reached level with the other’s face, but did not touch it or come closer. Legolas’ calculating eyes burned into the appendage, while his ivory fingers lighted faintly on the knife handle in his belt.
The grubby fingers ghosted on the white cheekbone, blood shot eyes resigned and despairing met the startled and meticulous gray eyes.
The Elf had one foot behind the chair and the other on the floor; fingertips curled slightly on the handle of his knife and his other hand on the edge of the counter. If need proved, he could dash back quickly or he could slice the other’s hand off. He didn’t flinch away from the other’s proximity, and his face was carefully blank while his eyes were wide, and emotions raged.
Yet his neck inclined gently.
The smile died gently on Aragorn’s face, the fragile cheerfulness that the drink had painted on his face eroded. He stopped moving completely; even his chest refused to quiver now. He blinked once, twice, into the Elf’s eyes, the glaciers of thought in his mind sliding towards collision.
His wrist moved lethargically, deliberately up and closer, while the Elf’s eyes continued to burn into him with murderous intensity. Legolas drew himself up, dignity and pride emanating. Yet he did not move back, nor away.
The pads touched tenuously, gentle as a butterfly’s heartbeat, the sensitive skin below the eye, before sliding slowly, thoughtfully, down the pronounced cheekbones, stopping a few inches before the other’s mouth.
Aragorn swallowed, his eyes never leaving his hand and the surface that they defiled. Legolas’ rib cage rose up and out of his chest; his hand tightened at the hilt of his knife.
“I would have thee as my own…if I knew, but why…”
Aragorn’s lips moved silently, his fingers applying the slightest more pressure, not yet even pressing against the other’s skin, but resting beside it.
“What?” fell the whisper off Legolas’ lips.
Aragorn’s fingers fell back to his side.
“Why what?” Legolas demanded louder.
“But all.” Aragorn looked once again into Legolas eyes, before his gaze drifted to the other’s lips. “Angel,” he whispered, his eyes going out of focus on what they saw and instead focused on his mind, and what was going on internally. He was gone. A million miles away.
“Thou art drunk.”
“Come. We shall leave.”
Aragorn shrugged again. Legolas guided him, gingerly, by the arm and out of the bar. He left some coins on the counter.
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