Faramir was not looking forward to explaining to Eomer why he had agreed to untie Boromir. He knew his second in command would not agree with his decision, nor would he believe there was any chance of convincing Boromir of the righteousness of their cause. The only reason he had been so quiet about the man's presence was that his being here was not by Faramir's choice. But this had been his decision and he knew Eomer would have much to say on the matter.

Sighing Faramir went looking for Eomer, knowing that he would need to tell him before he told the other men. He needed Eomer on his side, not just because he was his second, but because Eomer was his best friend. It was hard enough to do what he did without this causing a rift between them.

He found Eomer doing some sewing out near one of the lesser used entrances. It was a surprisingly domestic moment from a man who was more at home with a sword in hand rather than a needle. Faramir's smile only widened when Eomer looked up and scowled.

"You find it amusing that I do women's work?" He jabbed the needle hard into the shirt he was mending as if it were an enemy needing slaying. He then set the shirt aside and said "So, what brings you to my side?" He looked Faramir over critically and said "You seem calm enough. I take it then that our unwelcome guest has behaved himself."

Faramir nodded, unsurprised that Eomer knew where he had been Knowing that Eomer was not one for words, he got directly to the point. "I made a bargain with Lord Boromir so that he could stay untied while he remains in our custody. He has given his word to cooperate and so I've given him the use of his hands."

Eomer's response was as Faramir expected. "Are you out of your mind! You've freed him? You know what will happen to all of us should he escape! This is the best location for our base. We cannot afford to have it discovered!" He had risen to his feet and was pacing angrily. "I cannot believe you did this without consulting me. If you had, I would have talked you out of this madness. You must rescind this at once. Never mind, I'll go do it myself." he said and made to head back into the main area of the caves.

Faramir grabbed Eomer's arm and said "No. I will not rescind my promise. " He continued on, overriding Eomer's angry retort. "Listen to me. I am aware of the enormous risk I am taking here. A risk that applies to all of us, not just me. But I think that we have a chance to show Lord Boromir what he has been blind to all this time. We have a chance to win support at a level that could change the tides for us. Yes this is a risk but its one whose reward makes it worth taking. As it is now, we are barely making a scratch on the surface of the suffering that is out there. Lord Boromir is the son of the Steward. One day he will be the Steward. We can't let this opportunity pass –there is too much at stake and too few of us. Please Eomer – I need you on my side on this." He looked at Eomer pleadingly.

Eomer pulled his arm out of Faramir's grasp and growled, "I cannot believe you allowed that bastard to charm you. Are you a blushing maiden to allow honeyed words to cozen you to rash acts? By the gods, Faramir – I thought you had more control than that!"

Faramir stiffened alarmingly and said in a cold and controlled voice "You go too far, Eomer. I was neither charmed nor seduced into anything. I choose to untie him. I made that choice and I stand by it. Now you can back me on this or not, as you chose but I will discuss this no further. " He turned to make his way back into the main cave area.

Eomer realized that he had insulted Faramir unjustly and moved to stop him. "Wait. I am sorry. You are right, that was an unfair thing to say. You have always shown good judgment – even in the face of your own personal needs. You are a good leader and I was wrong to accuse you of misdeed just because I have doubts about the wisdom of this course. " He pushed a strand of long blonde hair away from his face and sighed. "I guess I'm just upset that you didn't consult me first. "

Faramir put his hand on Eomer's shoulder in a gesture of forgiveness and friendship and said, "It came up rather quickly. Believe me, I did not go in there intending to untie the man. I was there to give him something to read to keep him occupied. But Pippin came to see me as I was choosing what to give him and he made me realize that we can't go on as we are. There just aren't enough of us and the risks increase every day. We need more support at the higher levels of government. It's not enough that we return money to the poor. For one thing, it's never enough. Too many suffer and there is just no way to reach them all. What we need are people in power who will stand up to Denethor and rein him in. Boromir is Captain-General of Gondor and the future Steward. If we can win him to our cause, he has the connections to do what we can never do on our own. He can reach the people who collectively have the power to control Denethor. And as heir apparent, he could bring them together. It's a risk, Eomer but one we have to take."

Eomer looked thoughtful but doubtful. "What makes you think you can win him over? He's got a stake in keeping things the way they are. "

Faramir nodded, but said, "I thought very much the same thing, but in talking to him, I've come to realize that Lord Boromir knows little about how the policies his father creates affects the people. As a solider, he has isolated himself from the people, allowing orders to dictate his decisions. But he is a man of honor and I believe that if he is made aware of what is happening, he will want to do something to change it. "

Eomer shook his head in disbelief. "You are a fool, Faramir. You think that deep down everyone has a sense of honor like you do. But I tell you, that one will not care about others' fates. It is only his own that concerns him." Faramir opened his mouth to argue and Eomer held up his hand to forestall him. "But foolish or no, I will support you on this. We're in this together, fool's quest or no."

Faramir smiled and gave Eomer a big hug. "Thank you, my friend. It means a great deal to me to have you on my side. I promise you, I will exercise every caution and in two or three week's time, when it has grown quiet again, he will be on his way to Minas Tirith. I will not risk our safety by keeping him here any longer than that – regardless of how close I might be to success." Seeing the grudging look on Eomer's face he decided to leave the man alone for now. They could talk more on this later when Eomer had become more accepting of the plan.

"Well, I'd best tell the rest of the men so there are no ugly incidents. I dare say there will be others who will think me mad for this." He gave Eomer a self-mocking smile and then turned and headed back into the main caverns.

Eomer watched Faramir walk away and allowed himself to show the concern he was feeling. He knew Faramir believed he saw signs of potential within Boromir, but Eomer knew differently. And since Faramir was far too good a person to protect himself the way he should, it would be up to Eomer to see that Boromir knew better than to try to charm his way into Faramir's good graces. No one hurt Faramir – not on his watch!

He headed back in, making sure to avoid the cavern where Faramir was talking to the other men. He grabbed up his mask and hood and pulled them on and then headed down to the room where Boromir was being held.

Pushing past the curtain, he saw the prisoner lounging back and reading. Seeing Boromir looking so comfortable caused Eomer to grow angry again. He strode to where Boromir was sitting and grabbed the book from his hands. He threw it down on the bed and glared at Boromir. "So, you think you are clever, don't you?"

Boromir had been surprised to see someone come through the curtain. He knew right away that he had never seen this man and it became clear quickly that this man did not like Boromir. His accent proclaimed him a Rohirrim, which explained the instant dislike. Boromir had spent some time in Rohan and knew first hand how much the people had resented the Gondorian presence in their land. He wondered if he had personally encountered this particular Rohirrim or if he just hated Boromir for who he was. He imagined he would find out soon enough.

Deciding that the wisest course for now was to be non-confrontational, he sat up straight and said "And what is it that I am supposed to have been so clever with?" He suspected it was about getting his hands left unbound but he was far too experienced to make assumptions.

Eomer bristled at Boromir's remark, believing Boromir to be mocking him. "You know what I refer to. You think because you wheedled and charmed your way into getting your hands free that you have somehow gained an advantage. Well I will tell you right now, step so much as a hair out of line and you will answer to me. The Fox has been quite generous to you because he is a fair person, but if you are thinking of taking advantage of that generosity, think again. My loyalty is to The Fox and that means I will protect him, even if it's from himself." Eomer leaned closer to Boromir and growled "Have I made myself abundantly clear?"

Boromir nodded and said "Yes, quite clear." And then because his curiosity could not be contained he added, "The Fox must be something quite special to inspire such loyalty. " He knew he was running the risk of antagonizing the man, but after his last encounter with The Fox, he wanted to learn more about the man. He was a puzzle and one that Boromir was itching to solve. He couldn't exactly explain what it was about the man that drew him so, but he found himself wanting to understand just what made the man tick.

Eomer sized up Boromir, trying to gauge why the man was asking. Looking at Boromir he had to admit that the man was certainly good looking. Years of soldiering had given him a muscular frame and the blonde hair and green eyes gave him an exotic look for a Gondorian. In that he had something in common with Faramir who inherited his red-gold hair and blue eyes from his mother rather than the Gondorian dark hair and gray eyes. And while Faramir was not someone to let a handsome face win him over, there was no escaping the fact that Boromir had just the kind of look that would appeal to Faramir.

So the question became, would Boromir try to trade those looks for more thanjust a few liberties?

Eomer scowled at Boromir and said careful "Yes, he is very special. There is not one man here who wouldn't give his life for him. Never have I met another man who has his courage and nobility. We follow him because he would never ask us to take a risk that he would not do himself. We reward that care and fairness with our unwavering loyalty. So I tell you again, think to harm him and you will answer to me. I do not have his fairness or his compassion and so am not burdened with the need to play by the codes of nobility. I don't like you or what you stand for. I would have no problem showing you a few manners"

Boromir nodded and wisely kept his mouth shut. It was clear this man was harboring more then a grudge against him and now that he believed that Boromir had used his charm on the Fox to get the liberty of his hands, it gave him one more thing to hate him for. And since Boromir's current state of "safety" existed solely because of The Fox, it would behoove Boromir to not give him any reason to have to choose between his prisoner and one of his men. So he kept quiet and waited for what the cloaked man would do next.

Eomer waited for a response from Boromir and was slightly disappointed that the man merely nodded and said nothing more. Still, it was clear that he had gotten his message through to him and that was what mattered. The Gondorian pig would think twice before trying to use Faramir for his own gain. Giving one final glare, he turned and left swiftly.

Boromir looked at the curtain and frowned deeply. Perhaps he couldn't be completely sure of The Fox's promise of safety… Still, the Rohirrim had not actually laid a hand on him, merely warned him not to step out of line. Camcir would probably have done the same thing in these circumstances. Thinking of Camcir, Boromir felt a stab of guilt. The man had tried to warn him that he was being hasty and he had brushed him off. When he got out of this, he made a pledge to himself to listen to the man when he advised him. In fact, he rather wished the man were here to advise him now.

Boromir sighed and resigned himself to his own council. That the Rohirric had come of his own will was clear. He saw himself as defending The Fox against a crafty foe – one who would use underhanded tricks to get his way. That last part rankled Boromir, but he had to admit that such an attempt would be in keeping with someone of lesser pride and the Rohirric had no reason to think highly of him.

Still, the Rohirric had been concerned enough to warn Boromir away. Does that mean he is concerned that The Fox might be susceptible to such a ploy? The thought sent a pleasant tingling through Boromir and he shook his head to clear it of such thoughts. He was in a dangerous situation and it would be foolhardy to allow himself to be distracted by ill-timed attraction. Besides, how can you feel desire for someone you have never truly seen?

Determined to put such thoughts behind him he picked up the book and opened it to the page he had been reading. Still, it was rather hard to concentrate when his mind kept replaying the feel of calloused yet gentle hands and blue eyes filled with warmth and laughter…