Disclaimer: I own nothing you recognize.

Author's Note: As always, thanks to Mandi for beta'ing. This is different than anything I've done in the LotR fandom before, though I'm certainly no stranger to writing slash! It also involves reincarnation, which I've never really thought about before. Anyway, it's not what I've normally been writing in this fandom but the muses picked it up and here it is! Hopefully, and with no promises, I'll be able to update once a week for the rest of the summer.

Feedback is very much wanted. Any references you catch would tickle me pink. Also, feel free to make guesses about who is who, though it's pretty obvious in this chapter, and who will be making an appearance. There will be quite a few of them running around when all it said and done!

Chapter 1

"Let's get out of here."

Finley half smiled at the line and nodded. Where had he heard it before?

That movie, just after he'd gotten home. Ben had been dating...Julia? Jenna? Josie? He couldn't remember. He could never keep track of them.

It hadn't been bad, sort of funny, and Ben had stayed with him that night, after his girl of the week had left. Ben didn't mind when he had to wake up with him in the middle of the night, as if he was a child scared of the monsters under the bed. Or, at least, he never said so.

"You got a place around here?"

"Yeah. Why? Got a wife at home?"

There was a short laugh. "Hardly. No, I'm just moving back. Staying with my parents until the house I bought becomes available."

"My place then, unless you'd prefer a hotel?"

"Your place is fine."

"If you don't have a car we're walking."

Another laugh, this one a bit smothered. "I have a car. Do I get a name before you get in it?"

"Finley. Fin. Yours?"

Finley had gotten used to the trains. Living so close to the tracks he had had to or go crazy. He smiled ironically and took another long drag, the glow of his cigarette flaring. Maybe it would have if he wasn't already crazy.

"That's not good for you, you know?"

Finley glanced at the man currently sharing his bed. "Really? Hadn't heard. When'd that happen?"

Alexander snorted and rolled over so he was looking at the hunched figure. Finley sat on the edge of his bed, uncaring of the cold of the little room, resting his elbow on his knee and smoking his second cigarette of the night or, at least, since Alexander had met him.

"I don't suppose you would listen to me if I told you to quit," Alexander murmured. "I will anyway. You should quit."

Finley chuckled, took another drag, and flicked some ashes into the cup of lukewarm water on the bedside table. He half turned to look at the other man. "You've got a funny idea of pillow talk. You a doctor or an activist or something?"

"The first," Alexander answered. "And what about you?"

"Live off a pension at the moment," Finley replied, turning away, taking another drag. "Got odd jobs here and there. Nothing special."

"Where's the pension from?" Alexander asked, curious despite himself.

"Army," Finley answered, surprising himself. What was he doing?

There was silence for a moment, then rustling. A cool hand touched his back with surprising gentleness and rested just briefly on a thick scar. "Is that where you got this?"

Finley flinched at the touch and the hand quickly withdrew. He said nothing.

"Sorry," Alexander said.

Finley shrugged. He didn't feel a whole lot of anger. He didn't know why. Normally he kicked anyone out that asked but... "S'okay."

He stubbed out the cigarette and turned, giving the reclining man a shaded, half smile, "No more small talk."

"Good plan."
Finley had always felt small around his older brother. Things hadn't changed. Ben was broader, stronger, tanned and he looked, well, healthy. He'd never left the army. It was home for him but they didn't deploy him much anymore. He was a combat trainer, making good money and stationed near enough to the little apartment Finley called home.

And as he got out of his car and embraced Finley warmly his little brother felt, just for a moment, safe.

"You look well," Ben commented, slinging an arm around Finley's shoulders even after he released him.

"Liar," Finley commented with a very small smile.

"Better than last time I saw you," Ben amended. "Have you slept well?"

"No," Finley admitted. "I used a few sleeping aids and that's it until I really need them again."

Ben's face said it all. "Relax. I'm not going to turn into a drug user or anything."

"We need to find a better way for you to get a good night's sleep," Ben said firmly.

Finley felt just a bit of warmth because of the we. He had problems but...at least he wasn't alone.

That brought its own set of problems though. He knew he depended on his brother, probably more than he should. He knew if Ben ever got sick of him he wouldn't know how to cope, might not be able to cope, but, hell, he was only just coping as it was anyway.

"Come on, get in, we're going shopping," Ben said, pulling his little brother with him back into the car.

"Why?" Finley asked, doing as his brother said anyway, reminding him absently, "Seatbelt."

"Because if I know you all you've got in your fridge is a few beers and some old cartons of leftovers that are probably plotting their escape as we speak," Ben told him.

Finley snorted. "I don't drink, you know that. I have eggs, I think and some bread."

Ben raised an eyebrow. "Sunshine, that ain't going feed me for even one meal."

"Fine, shopping," Finley muttered as they pulled away from his building. "Don't call me sunshine, either."

"Ben, half of this stuff is going to go bad," Finley protested as his brother pulled another item off the shelf and dropped it into an already rather full shopping cart.

"No it's not. I'm going to eat it," Ben told him. "And so are you."

He poked his brother very gently in the ribs, knowing too well how little padding the younger man had. "You need fattening up, kid."

"Fuck you, old man," Finley replied but with a hint of a smile. "Just because I don't have your extra padding..."

"HA!" Ben snorted. "Extra padding, really Fin, if that's your idea of an insult you're losing your touch."

Finley chuckled. It was true enough, his brother was muscle and that was that. "It's too much though."

"I'm staying two days and you might eat like a bird but I eat like a cow," Ben told him. "I'm not listening to any more complaints from you until we leave the store. Do you still like Lucky Charms?"

"Not since I was eight," Finley grimaced.

"Oh, you're no fun at all," Ben groused.

Ben smiled at Finley's chuckle. He couldn't help but worry about his little brother. The first time he'd seen him, still in the hospital then, swathed in bandages and so drugged he could barely open his eyes, he had known he was damaged more than physically. It had never been fixed, he didn't think. He wasn't sure it could be.

He felt Finley stiffen beside him when he was examining cereal boxes, trying to decide which would be the most disgustingly sugary just so he could get away with eating it this once.

"Hello Fin," someone was pleasantly greeting as he turned to look at his brother. A man had stopped in front of them. He looked around Ben's age, thin, dark tied back hair, beard and silvery eyes that looked oddly familiar.

"Alex," Finley replied, his voice...strange, Ben couldn't quite place the emotion in it.

The aforementioned Alex smiled at Finley and it all seemed pleasant enough but Ben knew the other man's eyes were on him and he thought, maybe, there was a hint of a challenge in them.

"This is my brother Ben," Finley said, breaking the strained silence.

"Nice to meet you," Ben said, extending his hand and, in doing so, stepping a bit in front of his little brother. Not that he didn't trust the guy he just didn't trust the guy.

"Likewise," Alex answered, his smile turning genuine. Then his pager went off. He cursed and glanced at it.

"Ah, damn," he smiled apologetically. "I've got to run. I'll talk to you some other time, Fin."

Ben watched him as he handed his basket of groceries to one of the store employees and hurried out of the store. He looked at his little brother's expressionless face and raised an eyebrow.

"Who was that?" he asked.

"Just a guy," Finley answered.

"Just a guy," Ben repeated. "A guy who is what to you?"

"An acquaintance," Finley replied.

"Don't lie to me, brother, you were never good at it," Ben told him. "Another one night stand?"

"What I do between my sheets isn't your business," Finley muttered.

"Anything that could get you hurt is my business, Fin," Ben sighed. "Tell me you used condoms."

"I always use condoms. I'm not looking to die, Ben," Finley snapped. "I've never taken the chance to before, why the hell would I do something stupid and do it slowly?"

Ben's eyes softened a bit as he looked at his brother's angry face. He wasn't a child anymore, he wasn't an innocent, but Ben had to constantly remind himself of that and he never stopped worrying about him.

"I know, I know," Ben soothed. "Look, I'm sorry, okay? You're my little brother, it's my job to worry about you."

"You can't control everything," Finley told him tonelessly, rubbing his arm.

"I know, but that doesn't stop me from being concerned," Ben replied. He looked around and sighed. This was not the right place for Finley to go off on him. Half the time he would snap and then get real weepy, the other half of them time he would get explosively angry and occasionally he'd get so spacey Ben wondered if he should take him to the hospital or something.

"Come on, let's buy this junk and get the fuck outta here," Ben said, giving Finley a nudge with his shoulder. "Get some take out, relax, and you can tell me about it, alright?"

Finley nodded wordlessly. It was not a comforting sign. Ben sighed. It looked like it would be a very long night.
The world was dark.

It was dark and it was cold and it was...Oh god, it was so, so lonely.


The name echoed off into the darkness and Finley shivered as the black mists seemed to wrap more tightly about him.

Oh God, he could hardly breathe they pressed so tightly against him.

He fell, panting, to his knees. His whole body ached with a fierce pain and he felt dizzy from the lack of air. It was killing him. Whatever this place was it was going to kill him.

He choked on a sob and struggled to stay on his knees, knowing he would never get up if he fell. If he let himself lay down that would be the end of it and something, some purpose, kept him fighting against the cold and the dark.

It reached him slowly, the warmth, and he shivered more fiercely because of it for one moment it was there and the next the cold bombarded him again, weakening him further. It was a reprieve, though, however brief and he clung to it as best he could with hands and a mind numbed by the cold.

Then, suddenly, that light and warmth exploded about him joyfully, so bright he had to shield his eyes. He blinked and they managed to focus.

A man stood before him, more noble and great than he had ever seen. He was speaking, but his words were muffled somehow and though he knew he should be frightened at this strange man he was not, for the light shone about him, the light was him, and he came as a healer and so he would be, to more than one trapped soul.

He extended his hand, eyes kind, face glowing. He reached out, took it and...


Finley awoke with a start and a choked gasp. His lungs felt as if they had been flooded with air after a long drought and he eyes felt as though they had been rubbed raw.

Ben was next to him, had been shaking him, but seeing he was awake he clasped his little brother against him, looking worried. Finley trembled in his arms, trying to make sense out of everything.

He had never had that particular dream before though God knew he had had worse and he had had weirder ones.

He tried to relax, tried to focus on Ben's words. His brother kept a tight hold of him. Finley spared a moment to hate himself for doing this to his brother but only a moment.

That was as long as he could keep that man's face out of his mind.

His name was Aragorn, he knew, and he had saved him from...from something awful.

Finley shuddered and gave a soft moan, remembering the darkness. Ben hushed him, rocking him back and forth as if Finley was a child again. He buried his face against his big brother and wept, shaking in his arms.

If he had not been so distraught and so muddled about this new dream he would have recognized that his saviour had Alexander's face.