Disclaimer: Other than in my dreams, I am not Tolkien nor would anyone believe me if I said I was! And I'll bet you wouldn't be surprised if I said I don't make any money doing this either.

Author's Note: Written today in response to a fic prompt over at the Aragorn Angst Yahoo Group. The prompt was "hair" and the word restriction is 500 words. So what can I say? I felt like reading a little Aragorn angst today...

"Got a right fine head of hair, now don't ye, sonny?" The orc captain jerked the man's head back viciously and then shoved him face forward onto the hard-packed ground. He lay there, stunned, panting for breath, and his lone, involuntary cry of pain was met with raucous jeers.

"Well now, boys." The orc fingered the dark edge of the blade he held in his begrimed hand and he rolled his hapless captive over so that Aragorn was forced to look directly at the being's misshapen features. "Looks like our little ranger here thinks he's some kind of elf, don't it?"

The orc touched the elven braids Aragorn sported in honor of what had been intended to be a long overdue visit to Rivendell and leaned in closer, oddly fascinated by this man who looked like an elf. It seemed most unusual but the creature's brain was not developed enough to comprehend that there might be any significance to it.

The orc's breath stank and Aragorn, light-headed from the mistreatment he had just endured, fought hard not to vomit at the creature's nearness. He had no desire to do anything that might warrant further abuse.

"What do ya say, lads?" The orc grabbed a fistful of Aragorn's dark hair and then buried his nose into the man's neck and noisily sniffed. "He don't smell like no elf, that's certain." He grinned wickedly and gestured towards his companions.

The other orcs now crowded around, eyes gleaming at the prospect of further sport with their human captive. They could sense the fear the young man was unable to completely hide.

The orc leader still hadn't removed his hand from Aragorn's hair. With the other, he took his blood-stained knife and began to cut away at the man's richly made tunic, snickering at the occasional sharp hiss of pain that resulted when his knife dug carelessly into the ranger's bare chest.

"Now boys, our little friend don't look so fancy anymore, does he? So what say before he dies screaming like a stuck warg, that we give him a proper haircut and put him in his place?" He patted the grey-eyed man's face in mock sympathy and brought forth another crude dagger.

"Besides, I think that pretty hair might make a real nice gift to that elf lord back in Rivendell. Maybe 'e even knows the whelp."

The orc stood poised to chop off the long, wavy hair that fell down the ranger's back. Aragorn shuddered to think of his foster family's reaction to his being tortured and killed so ignominiously and he prayed to spare his family such grief.

Suddenly, his eyes flew open at the softest rustle of a leaf in the trees overhead and then quickly closed in thanks.

Indeed, only too late did the orc captain and his fellows comprehend the sound of an elven war cry that rang through the trees and moments later, the orcs' weapons lay discarded, the ranger's hair untouched.

The End