Dwalin wasn't sure if he was annoyed, amused or exasperated. Bilbo had surprised him by having breakfast ready. It was something he must have learned with the Zingara; an ash cake that was filled with meats and cheese. Dwalin whished there had been more and greedily ate Thorin's portion who seemed stubborn and refused to eat them. The lad seemed a little put out by it, but he continued on, paying Thorin no mind in return.

And now here they were midday and the atmosphere was so tense Dwalin wished for anything to snap it. Trolls, orc's, something to save himself from the stubbornness of Dwarves; the irony was not lost on him. He knew he could be more stubborn then most when warranted. He picked up his pace and matched it to Thorin's giving a glance back at the lad. Dwalin wasn't sure what to call him. He was definitely a hobbit, he had seen quite a few in his travels to the Ered Luin and the Blue Mountains, and yet his mannerism was one of the Zingara. Bilbo was keeping his distance.

"Yer' being stubborn." He said in khuzdul.

Thorin just glared at him. "I'm being stubborn?"

Dwalin grunted in agreement. "He didna mean anything by it. Not like he was usin ya."

"He lied."

"You could say 'e was more of in disguise."

"Why are you defending him anyways? He's not a dwarf, and really we do not owe him anything beyond this."

Dwalin grunted. "He warned us, got us out of tha' city."

"We still don't know if he is telling the truth."

They were quiet for a bit, the sound of their boots hitting the ground almost drowning out any of the wild life sounds.

"He likes you, and you can use a bit of companionship."

"What?!" Thorin, furious blue eyes turned on him and a finger pocked him in the chest. "Watch your mouth. I would never lower myself to allow that to happen." Turning, Thorin's pace seemed to pick up a bit faster, anger spurring him on.

Dwalin let the silence stew a moment. "You should think about it, is all."

"For the love of Durin, Dwalin, what has gotten in you?"

"You've been under a lot of stress and a Dwarf needs to have other outlets of release…"

"I'm fine." Thorin interrupted, his face going red from anger or something Dwalin was right about.

"If you say so."

"I know so."

It took all of Dwalin's will power not to punch his would-be-King. Anyone could see he was not fine. Thorin had been strung so tight the last several years he was surprised he hadn't snapped yet. Already he could see the laughter dying quietly; he smiled less and less and rarely would laugh. He was glad they would be heading back to the Blue Mountains. Perhaps Dís and the boys could bring him back around. Mahal knows that working in the world of men wasn't doing him any good. But a little bed companion couldn't hurt to ease the stress either.

The walls of Softwood came into view. It wasn't very large city, more like a large town. The Master of the place was a relation to that of Ossein, so trade was freely given back and forth between the two. As the peered down at the city from a small hill side, they could see the travelers going in and out of the city. They had avoided the main roads so as not to alert their attackers that they had left already. They should know by now and most likely would be heading this way.

"This is where we part ways then." Bilbo told them, his eyes solemn as he stared down at the town.

"What?" He and Thorin said at the same time.

"Are you not going down to the town?" Dwalin asked him. He felt a little unease to just let the Hobbit go on his own.

Bilbo shook his head and heaved a sigh. "No. Alishar will be expecting me to head here first since it is the closest place to get supplies. I will not let him take me so soon." There was hardness within his voice, and a bit of desperation. Desperation was never a good thing.

"Where will you go?" Thorin asked him.

"I don't know." Bilbo said with a shrug. "Mother has kin, the Nawa tribe. Perhaps I will go find them."

"Do ya even know where they are?"

"No."

"And just how are you going to survive out here, alone, by yourself?" Thorin all but growled at him.

Bilbo scowled back at him. "Not that it's any of your concern, Master Dwarf, but I have lived most of my life traveling the wilds. I can survive."

"You survived because you had family to help, not one little Hobbit out on his own. You wouldn't last the week."

"And I still say it's none of your business. Good day."

Before Bilbo could turn around and leave Thorin grabbed a hold of him. "You are not going anywhere."

"Let go of me."

"Not until you listen."

A small fist came up and smacked into Thorin's jaw. It was enough of a surprise that his grip loosed and Bilbo slipped out. Dwalin just watched the whole exchange with a sense of fascination. Never had he seen someone stand up to Thorin, in such an amusing way. Thorin dived after the wayward Hobbit and they both fell to the ground, Khuzdul being spat out along with Zingarian; which Dwalin could only assume was nothing flattering.

Feet kicked out and another fist flew before Thorin had Bilbo pinned beneath him. They were both breathing heavily, glaring at each other. Thorin had a split lip and the Halfling looked to be sporting a new shiner. By the Valar, the tension between the two was so palpable he could practically taste it. A sudden image of both of them naked and writhing for different reasons had Dwalin chocking on his own spit and hen could only shake his head. By rocks and stone, if Thorin knew what he thought he would probably run him through. He needed to find a different reason to keep the Hobbit around.

"Get off me you overgrown rock!" Bilbo shouted. That was a new one, Dwalin thought with a chuckle.

"Not until you listen to reason."

"Why do you care where I go?"

"By Mahal you are stubborn. Are you so eager to meet death then?"

"I can take care of myself."

"And I say you are not going anywhere until I say so."

Things were getting worse, Dwalin cleared his throat and two sets of eyes glared in his direction. "Can ya keep it down while ya grope each other? Yer going to bring us unwanted attention."

That got their attention; Thorin blinked at him, looked down at Bilbo his eyes widening and practically threw himself off the Hobbit, and Bilbo went a bright red , as he scrambled up to his feet. There was now a good five feet between them; and they refused to look at each other.

"Here is what I'm proposin. You two," Dwalin pointed between the two of them. "Will stay here and behave. No running off." He pointed at Bilbo. "And no groping." He pointed at Thorin who gave him such a murderous rage, Dwalin was surprised he didn't kill over right then and there.

"Just a minute-" Bilbo began to argue.

"Watch your words Dwalin." Thorin growled.

"I will head into the town, get some supplies and we can then all move onto the next safest place. Agreed?"

Arms crossed over his chest, Thorin nodded. He looked at the Hobbit. "Well?" Dwalin could see that he was thinking it over but finally agreed. Dwalin watched some of the tension seep out of Thorin's shoulders. "Good." With that Dwalin turned and headed towards the town alone and prayed to Mahal that those two would not kill each other before he got back.

Bilbo stormed off down the hill towards a small outcropping of trees. The nerve, the nerve of that Dwarf! Thinking he can just say or do whatever he likes, when he obviously didn't want to be around him in the first place. Bilbo didn't want to admit that he had been a bit hurt over that. He tried to shake it off. Why should he care anyways? They would just leave him eventually, it's not like Bilbo mattered to anyone. Wasn't that a depressing thought? Mother would have made him do extra chores for sure, ones he didn't like. She always told him he was destined for something bigger than this, something she read in the stars. But Bilbo couldn't read the stars and felt just about useless right now. When they had been attacked how much help had he been then? Thorin was right; it was difficult for him to survive all on his own. That's how he had ended up with Alishar.

Dropping his bag down next a small stream, he stripped off the wig and the dress. At least he could be himself again. Kneeling down, Bilbo ran the cool water through his hair washing out the sweat. It felt good, and cooled his temper somewhat; not that he could stay angry at anyone for long. The water ran down his bare back the coolness felt good. A twig snapped and he glanced up to see Thorin as he made his way towards him. Well, he could always make an exception.

Deciding the best course of action would be just to ignore him; Bilbo began to roll up the dress, with the wig tucked safely inside and exchange it for a pair of real pants (not the short ones he was wearing) and a shirt. Bilbo near yelped and jumped when a hand touched his back.

"What's this?" Thorin demanded, his scowl still in place, anger lacing through his voice.

"What's what?" Bilbo asks trying to look at his back over his shoulder, even though that was near impossible; while at the same time dislodging the Dwarfs hand. It left a hot warmth behind that made him entirely uncomfortable.

"Oh that." Bilbo shook his head. "It's nothing." His back shouldn't look too badly, some dark red bruising maybe, a few welts, nothing serious. A few days and it would most likely be gone. Bilbo quickly slipped his shirt on, it was an off-white color that buttoned up which he would tuck into his pants. A dark red vest went over the shirt that hung loose in front. Along the edges it was embroidered with gold thread; it was something he had done himself and he had chosen various flowers and vines as its motif.

He sat down and took his boots off, letting his feet free felt so good and he couldn't stop the please sigh from escaping. He washed his hairy legs and feet off as well and let them dry. Noticing the Dwarf was still staring at him, as if glaring would make him go away somehow. Thorin finally noticed that he was watching him and turned and sat in the shade under a tree.

Feeling like he could now change his pants without an audience, Bilbo quickly did so; and decided that his feet could use a break from the boots for a while. He shoved them into his pack and without anything better to do, he went and sat near the Dwarf. He wasn't about to admit that he was wrong per say but Bilbo wasn't a fool. He knew what his chances were out here alone and it wasn't good.

Picking up a stick, he began to make shapes in the ground. It was a game he played with the other children to pass time; useless by oneself though. Bilbo would make a scratch, than another and another till he could make no more moves, cross it out and start all over again.

As he started a fresh one and made a move, another stick joined his and made the opponents move. Bilbo looked up to see Thorin sitting closer; and when did that happen? Bilbo couldn't stop his smile and quickly ducked his head. He made the next move. It was a simple game and usually ended in a draw, unless the players were sharp and watched for their opponent to make a mistake, which Bilbo was. So was his rival it seemed.

Thorin would win some, then Bilbo here and there; mostly they ended in a draw.

"Does that happen often?" Thorin asked his voice softer as if afraid he would scare Bilbo off. Bilbo stiffened a bit but then relaxed.

"Not often." He said slowly. "Only when I've pissed Alishar off enough to warrant it."

"He doesn't sound like a very good leader."

Bilbo swirled his stick in the dirt, their game clearly over as an unspoken truce seemed to float between them.

"He's not."

"Then why do you stay with him? Surely you have family elsewhere-"

"No, I don't. And if I did I wouldn't know about them. When…" Bilbo took a deep breath. "When our caravan was attacked only a few of us were able to get away." He looked up into those cool blue eyes. "Alishar, Jonatan, Maralene, Barlan and myself. Five of us. Only five out of fifty of us survived. Maralene disappeared one night, and Barlan died of an infection to a wound he had received. I have no one else to turn to. Who would take me in, a Zingara with Hobbit blood?" Bilbo shook his head and turned away.

"What about Hobbit relatives?"

"You think I haven't thought of that? Where would I go first and ask what? Did anyone loose a Hobbit twenty some odd years ago? And by the way he was raised as Zingara and has become a pretty good thief. You think they would still welcome me in with open arms?" Bilbo said this last part with a little more heat than necessary. He had to take a few deep breaths to calm down. "I'm sorry. I just get so frustrated sometimes. I'm so …" He ducked his head and turned back to the dirt with his stick.

"You're so…?" Thorin prompted.

Bilbo couldn't look at him and looked to the forest to his side. He knew how pathetic his voice sounded, how desperate, but he couldn't stop himself from saying it. "So alone."

A warm hand covered his and Bilbo turned back with surprise to see Thorin staring intently at him. "You are not alone." Something flopped in Bilbo's stomach and his breath caught. There was something so familiar in that gaze, some part of the Dwarf that said he understood.

His heart pounding Bilbo pulled away and stood up. He needed to clear his head; the Dwarf was making him saying things he would rather not. Bilbo only took two steps when his necklace heated up. He hissed as a hand immediately encircled it. His eyes immediately scanned their surroundings.

"We need to move." He hissed at Thorin.

"What?"

"We need to move now!"

Maybe it was the tone in his voice, the plea boarding on terrified, but for once Thorin seemed to do as he asked, grabbing their packs he tossed Bilbo his and pulled out his sword.

"What is it?" Thorin asked as he too scanned their surroundings.

A loud howl was heard through the woods, followed by others.

"Warg's." Bilbo whispered.


A/N: If there are any big glaring mistakes please let me know :)