A/N: This is an Aragorn-Legolas friendship story. I have expanded a little on the argument between our two favourites in the film version of The Two Towers, you know the one... they're being dead sly when they're in a room full of Rohirrim and arguing in Elvish and then Aragorn explodes with: "Then I shall die as one of them!" Don't get me wrong, I love the way they make up in the film - actually, while I was writing this, I kind of forgot that they made up in the film at all! - but this is merely another way it could be done...

There's also a little dash of Gimli for the sake of the Dwarvish world, and a nice backstory for Legolas and Aragorn. It explains how Aragorn got that ring he wears. Enjoy! And please remember to review - I need to know whether I'm doing the characters we love justice enough to continue!

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It was another one of those infamously-wise little tid-bits that Legolas had always been brought up on as an elfling, and had - for as long as Aragorn could remember - always spouted in times of need, and that had consequently imprinted itself permenantly upon the back of the ranger's brain along with so many other phrases of the prince's. But this one idiom burned bright like the light of the a thousand torches in the ranger's mind at that particular moment, it was: 'Never let the Sun go down on an argument.'

~Well~ thought Aragorn ruefully as he shifted upon the cold, unyielding stone of one one parapet of the walls encasing the strong-hold of Helm's Deep, watching his breath smoke in the cooling air ~The Sun *is* going down, and the argument still hasn't been settled~

The infuriating elf simply couldn't see why Aragorn should be so willing to throw his life away 'so needlessly' for people he hardly knew - and that had lead to a large rift developing between the two, steadily culminating in the blurted statement of '*Then I shall die as one of them!*' exploding from Aragorn in the weapons-room, surrounded by those exact Rohirrim he was referring to.

It was not that Legolas was not compassionate - indeed, he was a lot more sensitive to the needs of other races than many of his kind... his gentle, caring spirit was what had attatched him immediately to the human child, Estel, when first laying eyes upon him - no, it was merely that Legolas' loyalty and love of his best friend flatly refused to let the man die in such a redundant manner. Aragorn suspected that the prince could not bear to have the ranger's death... 'cheapened', somehow, by so many others - for all expected nothing short of a massacre that night. Many would die before the dawn finally came, they knew... and Legolas did not wish for Aragorn's death to be buried under so many others; he wanted *everyone* to honour it if the northerner's time came during this battle - But how could that happen? How could one man be put up on such a pedestal, and his passing be so greatly respected and thought of as courageous and without fear, when so many others had sacrificed themselves as well. Legolas knew it would not happen, and that, perhaps added to the fear of losing a close companion at all, was what the argument had really been about.

It was not a selfish thought of the elf, it was a notion bourne of love for his best friend - one that Aragorn returned unquestionably, but sometimes, what one wanted could not be bestowed... and the ranger had seen that hurt reflected in the green, sparkling depths of the prince's eyes, just before a flaming anger had consumed them as Aragorn's harsh words registered. Then the eyes had dimmed completely after their spectacular flare, their oh-so- familiar light snubbed out and dulled at once, and he had turned from the ranger, his face a cold, stoic mask to emotion. It was one of the few times in their long friendship that Aragorn had been completely unable to read the elf's feelings - Legolas usually wore his large heart upon his green, embroidered sleeve, so when even his best friend did not know what he was feeling, things were bad.

Aragorn sighed and shifted again in his gloom, unsure of what course of action he could take. He could not abandon these people to their fates, there must be *something* he could do. Gandalf had left them, and was expected to return by dawn - but what aid that would bring to them, Aragorn was unsure. All he and the Rohirrim could do was wait - for both the White Rider and the enemy... and he *would* wait.

But also, the ranger was pained to see his best friend so unhappy with his decision, and wondered whether it was unfair and selfish of himself to keep two of his dearest friends here. Legolas, of course, would follow him to the ends of the earth and back, just as he would for him, and they all were members of the now-sundered fellowship, sworn to protect the Ring and to attempt to save the whole sorry mess Middle-earth had become under the imposing shadow, and that meant fighting battles. But Legolas', and indeed Gimli's, only tie to this place, this anticipated hell, was himself - could he live with their souls on his hands? Could he handle being solely responsible for the death of them both? It tore Aragorn apart that they might die merely because he would not leave... though they would die for the cause, the greater good, their loss would be unbearable to him. And Legolas was so miserable here, in this dark world of stone.

The ranger cast his clear, grey eyes down to the level below his of the great fortress, searching for something familiar, and finally spied the golden head of his friend. Legolas was standing silently behind the wide ledge of the Helm's lower wall, leaning on it with his elbows, chin cupped in slender hands, looking wistfully out at the darkening plains beyond. An air of melancholy clung to him, and the glow he usually emanated, the light of the stars that all Elves - but most especially this one - carried, was dimmed. Though Gimli was quite happy to lodge here in the Glittering Caves temporarily whilst waiting for the battle to 'come to them' as he put it, the elf could find no rest where he could not taste the air, see the stars, and so was quite unhappy - though he did not show it to any who knew him not. But Aragorn knew him, and could see that Legolas was restless and uneasy, and the ranger imagined their arguement hadn't eased the prince's suffering any.

'*I am of the world of Men and these are my people: I will die as one of them...*'

He sighed again, but was then startled suddenly by a noise, and jolted so much he nearly fell, rather un-rangerly, from his perch as a deep voice rumbled from behind him, "It's only because the laddie cares that he acts as he does, Master Ranger." He turned were he sat and found Gimli stood with his hands on his stout hips, coal-black eyes searching his face for something. The dwarf continued, trying to help both friends out of the ridiculous mess they'd gotten themselves into, "You know he's just being his daft old self - he'll come around when the time is nigh."

"I know that, Gimli," Aragorn said softly as he turned back, watching the Elven prince straighten and walk off, head downturned and golden hair falling forward over his shoulders. After a short silence: "But why can't he understand?!" The question was blurted for Aragorn could not hold it back, but Gimli did not look shocked, as Aragorn expected.

He just smiled, and then roared with sudden laughter, strange to hear in the dark, ominous silence of the Helm, though the stone welcomed the sound of one of it's sons. "He is an elf!" he cried - to Gimli, that explained all. "He cannae understand anything that doesn't revolve around his own pretty head! *That's* why, lad!" He was jesting, of course, but Aragorn was reminded of those early weeks as a fellowship setting off from Rivendell, where the two creatures exchanged taunts and barbs on a daily basis.

He smiled weakly, his mood lightening a little - as it usually did in the company of this particular dwarf - and looked out upon the fortress again, a smile still gracing his face. "Aye..."

Gimli nodded curtly, knowing implicitly that he was right - he always was, after all - and said, "Well, if I don't get some rest, I'll drop my axe a second before those blasted orcs reach us, miss their necks and cut off their toes! So, I'll be off, but think on, Master Ranger - he just doesn't want to lose you... I'm saying, We all thought you'd left us before, but it seems you're like a bad penny: you always turn up... He'll stand by your side when it all comes down to it, though." The stout, toughened warrior, smiled - his work done - then turned and left in search of a worthy bed, leaving Aragorn alone with his thoughts.

'*He'll stand by your side...*' The words echoed sofly in Aragorn's ears, almost as if someone was stood behind him, whispering them like the sighing wind.

A memory of long ago came unbidden to his mind. He unconsciously glanced down to his left hand, and rubbed at the small ring on his forefinger. It was simple by design, but all the more beautiful for it's non-ostentatious presence. It was wrought of pure silver, but looked as though it had been made with the rays of the stars and moon, the shining lines weaving in and out of one another intricately, symbolising the lives of two certain beings. Within their meandering tendrils was set a small, oval stone of a greeny-blue hue, humbly resting it's nest of silver coils. Aragorn had carried this ring since he was nineteen summers old, and for nearly seventy years had cherished it as one of his most precious posessions, he had always worn it - even as a ranger, when one was supposed to be unidentifiable to all eyes, he wore this ring. For it was a ring of friendship and loyalty, and he smiled fondly at it as he remembered the time it had been given to him by his dearest friend.

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Another chapter to come.... Review this one, though!