Rating: K+

Summary: Spring has entered the lands, and Aragorn and Legolas, freshly fallen in love, decide that it is time that the young ranger visits Lake-town and leard its ways. What starts out as a normal trip turns into a deadly adventure when an old secret comes to the surface. Soon, Aragorn's life is in peril and Legolas has to risk everything to safe the young man.

Genre/Warning: Aragorn/Legolas slash hurt/comfort story.

Disclaimer: They are not mine and I will never own them.

A/N: This is my very first SLASH STORY. -AND- I am in a kind of burned out mood, as someone called it. I had planned to finish this story before posting, but the same someone suggested that I could post it chapter for chapter. I like the idea, as I did this with most of my previous stories. The reviews (there will be reviews, right? -g-) always helped me to develop the story and post faster. -hint hint- So, enough rambling, on to the story. I hope you like it. -looks nervously at readers- Have fun!

Chapter 1: A Long Expected Journey

Perched high in the boughs of the trees, the birds ruffled their feathers, tilted their little heads and chirped and twittered to their hearts' delight, greeting the morning sun. Warm rays wound through the trees, sprinkling golden light onto the new born, green leaves. Dew glittered here and there on the grass, and the few elves who returned from their nightly watch breathed in the fresh spring air. The sky was of a clear blue, almost like a pond high up on a mountain, where the waters were icy and unsullied by men, elf or dwarf.

A few of those warm rays filtered through the light curtains, which swayed gently in the breeze. Slowly, the rays wandered over wall, floor and desk, until they reached the comfortable double bed and the two occupants sleeping in it. One of them, a lithe, blond elf, lay on his side, his elbow propped on the bed, holding his head. His hair floated around his face, unbound and free, like a waterfall of spun, sunny rays. A smile played around his lips, while he gazed at the person sleeping so peacefully beside him.

Dark, tousled hair, a stubbly chin, strong cheek and jawbones, with weathered, but not old skin and features. The man was lying on his stomach, his head bedded on one of his arms, while the other had found its way under one of the many pillows. With every rise and fall of the man's chest, his head moved a little, too, and the smile on the face of the elf widened a little. Slowly, the elf's eyes travelled from the sleep relaxed face of the man down his body, taking in the broad shoulders, the muscular arms and the strong back. His gaze came to finally rest at the small of the man's back, and the elf was tempted to reach out and lift the blanket that covered the otherwise naked man to take a look at his behind. It was a strong, perfectly shaped behind, he knew. His smile widened even more when he remembered the last night, and the things they had done which had exhausted the man so much that he was still asleep, long after sunrise.

But suddenly, an almost wicked glimmer reached the elf's eyes. Lifting his head from his hand, he leaned forwards slightly. When his face was only inches away from the man's, he gently pursed his lips and blew, causing the man's hair to lift a fraction, before it fell down again. The man did not stir. His grin widening, the elf blew again, stronger this time. Again the dark curls moved, and this time the human mumbled something under his breath, before he settled again. Once more the elf blew, causing the man to sleepily slap at his face.

Mouth open in a silent laugh, the elf sat up on the bed, trying not to move the mattress too much. It would not do to wake the human now, after all. Stealthy as a cat, the lithe blond elf reached across the sleeping man and plucked a silky white feather from one of the pillows. Still smiling, the elf took the feather between his thumb and forefinger, and ere he could stop himself, he began to gently tease the human's nose with it.

A snort.

Unperturbed, the elf flicked the feather against the nose again, howling with silent laughter. Another, louder snort came from the man, but still he did not wake. Instead, he turned his head to the other side, sighing audibly. The eyes of the elf danced with mischief. Silently, he leaned over the man, letting the tip of the feather caress the man's nose once more. With a sleepy gesture, the human swatted at it, like one would do with a fly, mumbling something under his breath.

Blue eyes sparkling, the elf was just to tickle the man's nose one more time, when he froze mid motion. One of the man's eyes was open, glaring at him darkly. Feelings his cheeks reddening slightly, the elf leaned back on his heels, trying to hide the feather behind his back. The man opened the other eye as well, gazing at the elf.

"And what, pray tell me," he said sleepily, "were you doing?"

"Nothing." The elf said, grinning innocently. The man narrowed his eyes suspiciously, but before he could say more, the elf spread his arms wide, sighing, "Ah, what a wonderful day, Estel. Now, up with you! We are late as it is, sleepy head."

Grumbling, the man rolled onto his back, blinking against the bright light that streamed into the room. "Too early, Legolas. It must be night still and the light comes from the stars."

Laughing good naturally, Legolas shook his head, "Nay, my friend. It is bright daylight you see, and the birds are singing. Get up now ere the day is wasted."

When Aragorn merely groaned, rolling to his side to avoid the bright light, Legolas sighed dramatically. "As you wish." And with one fluid motion he pulled the covers back, exposing the man to the air.

"Legolas!" Aragorn complained, reaching for the covers, but Legolas simply threw them to the ground, grinning. "It is too early yet to get up." Aragorn said, rubbing his eyes. "And Lake-town will still exist, no matter when we get there."

"Aye, but the sooner we get there, the sooner we will be home again." Legolas retorted, gazing at the man.

"One could think you dread going there, Legolas." Aragorn teased his friend, knowing fully well that Legolas feared very few things. And the human settlement Lake-town was not one of them.

"No, I do not dread going there." Legolas said, and there was a strange glimmer in his eyes that Aragorn knew only too well. When the elf leaned forwards, coming closer and closer until his face was only inches from his own, Aragorn felt goose bumps appear on his skin. "But you know," Legolas said, "letting his finger trail slowly down Aragorn's bare skin, "the sooner we are back, the sooner we can enjoy from the soft, plush, clean, smooooooth linens we have here in Mirkwood."

Pronouncing each word with a little push of his finger, Legolas pushed Aragorn down onto the mattress. Straddling the man, who now grinned openly, Legolas tilted his head to the side. "But of course, if rangers enjoy the cold, hard earth of forests, or the creaking beds of the inns in Lake-town…" He pouted minutely, causing Aragorn to laugh outright.

"Enough, Legolas, enough." Aragorn laughed, fully awake now. "I think I see your point."

"I knew you would, with time." Legolas said, leaning down again. "Humans can learn, after all." Grinning, he bent down, cupping the side of the man's face with his slender hand and brushing his lips against Aragorn's. When Aragorn opened his lips slightly, Legolas took up the invitation, and soon they were kissing deeply, longingly, but without haste. Breaking apart, Legolas softly touched Aragorn's bottom lip with his forefinger, tracing the outline from one corner to the other.

The fact that they were both naked was lost on neither of them, and it was already having its effects. Feeling his member harden slowly, Aragorn gazed up at Legolas, who still straddled him. The elf's hair was unbound, like it only was when they were alone together, and it fell around his face in golden tresses. The smooth, hairless body, the strong muscles rippling under the skin, it was enough to make Aragorn's breath catch in his throat. No matter how often he saw Legolas like that, no matter how often the elf allowed him to see him thus, to touch him, feel him, love him…Aragorn thought it a miracle time and time again. And to be loved in return by Legolas….that was something Aragorn would never understand.

"Estel?" Legolas asked, tapping his finger against Aragorn's cheek, smiling gently.

"Huh?" Aragorn made, torn from his thoughts. Slowly, naturally, he let his hands, calloused from the year long use of sword and bow, caress up Legolas's thighs, to rest on the elf's hips.

"You had that expression on your face again." Legolas said, tilting his head to the side. "As if something surprised you." And he reached out, moving his thumb across Aragorn's forehead, as if to chase the expression away.

"It was nothing, Legolas." Smiling, Aragorn sat up slowly, holding Legolas tightly so that the elf would not topple down from him and land very unelflike on the hard stone floor. When they both sat comfortably, Aragorn leaned in for a quick kiss, letting his tongue stroke Legolas's teeth gently for just the fraction of a second. "We really should get going if we want to make any progress today." He said, a look of slight disappointment in his eyes.

"Aye, we should." Legolas said, kissing Aragorn soundly on those red lips that tasted like ale, pipe weed and travels. "And we really have no time for this." He added, a mischievous sparkle in his eyes. "But, wash we must ere we leave, this way or that, so…" And with that, Legolas kissed Aragorn again, while his hand sneaked between them, searching and finding what it was looking for, and making the man moan in pleasure.

Fastening the last pack on the back of his mare, Aragorn threw a look over his shoulder. Only a few feet away from him, Legolas stroked his horse's nose gently, whispering to it gently. As if the horse understood him, it flicked its ears, neighing softly. Shaking his head and breathing in deeply, Aragorn fastened the last knot, before he patted his own horse on the long neck and took the leather reins from the saddle.

"Ready, Legolas?"

Legolas whispered to his horse a moment longer, before he turned around and flashed a bright smile at the ranger. "Always. I was only waiting for you to finish packing half of our household on that poor mare of yours."

Giving Legolas an annoyed look, Aragorn began walking into the direction of the gates, the heels of his boots clicking softly on the cobble stone courtyard. "I have not packed 'half of your household'." He told the elf indignantly. "Those are the basic provisions every ranger should take with him when leaving on a journey."

Raising an eyebrow skeptically and taking another look at the bulk of packs that threatened to break the poor horse's back, Legolas retorted, "Basic provisions? Basic as in making a quick trip to Lake-town? Or basic as in journeying to Mordor and back?"

Shooting Legolas a minute glare, Aragorn shook his head, "Basic as in: Legolas and Estel journey to a place where there are none of their fathers' guards, no supervisors, no elven healers and no twin brothers to save their behinds." And in his mind he quickly added: and no one hovering over them or watching them or teasing them or mothering them or lecturing them or entering bedrooms without knocking or…

Laughing lightly, Legolas shoved Aragorn playfully with his shoulder, "We are not 'that' bad, mellon nin."

"Oh yes, you two are." A deep voice came from behind them, making them both jump and turn around quickly. So quickly even, that Aragorn lost his footing on the cobble stones for a fraction, swaying dangerously, before he found his balance. When he looked up to the one who had spoken those words, his heart nearly plummeted into his stomach.

There, right in front of them, in the middle of the bright sunshine, stood King Thranduil. The monarch had his hands crossed behind his back and stood as regal as ever. His expression wavered between stone cold and decidedly unfriendly. And when those light blue eyes, that were only a shade darker than Legolas's gazed at him, Aragorn swallowed thickly….and wracked his mind for the fasted way out of Mirkwood. No wonder the spiders of Mirkwood avoided coming near the palace. The look of the King would have scorched them immediately.

But before Aragorn could even register that thought completely, Legolas stepped forwards, "Ada! I thought you had duties this morning."

"I had and I have." The King answered, his eyes travelling back from Aragorn to his son. It was no secret in Mirkwood that the elven King had no particular love for humans, especially not for those that came and went as they pleased. Which, unfortunately, was just 'the' description for Aragorn.

"Then what brings you here, father?" Legolas's happy voice ripped Aragorn out of his dismal thoughts. Was it only him or was the look of the King getting even icier?

"I came to saw my farewells to you two. And to wish you an uneventful journey and a safe return." Thranduil said, for the first time since he had come smiling. Suddenly, the face of the King became much softer.

"Thank you, Ada!" Legolas smiled, bowing his head minutely, which Aragorn quickly mirrored, so as not to anger the King. Aragorn was a guest in Mirkwood, after all, no matter how many times Legolas tried to convince him that he was family. "Ada, I promise that we will be careful. No orc hunting, no spider chasing, no dwarf infuriating. Don't worry. We will come back in one piece this time. After all, Lake-town is a friendly town and the road free from the spawns of Morgoth."

Taking a breath and looking at Aragorn, Thranduil raised an eyebrow, "Well, as good as free from them."

"Ada!" Legolas laughed, shaking his head with a grin. "I told you not to scare Estel like that."

"Really?" Thranduil lifted an eyebrow in question, but when he saw Legolas's mock exasperated look, he exhaled strongly. "Alright, my son, alright." And in the next moment, as if by some miracle, the stern, patronizing King was gone. In front of them stood a smiling parent, wishing his son and his friend a save journey.

"Better." Legolas decided, smiling at his father. When Thranduil gave him a slightly pouting look (something that Aragorn had never seen an elf Lord do and that amazed him immensely), Legolas laid a hand on his father's shoulder.

"I know you like scaring Aragorn, Ada. But he is my friend, and you promised to behave."

If it was even possible, Thranduil's pout got even worse, and Aragorn quickly looked around him, searching for the wizard who surely had bewitched the King to be suddenly so…normal. And as if that was not scary enough, Legolas leaned towards his father, whispering loud enough for Aragorn to hear, "You still have the servants to scare, Ada. And your advisors. And think about the Captains. Oh, and the spiders! You can still scare them away."

Thranduil seemed to contemplate this for a moment, then nodded, "You are right, Legolas. And besides, scaring humans is much too easy anyway. I long for a challenge."

Smiling, Legolas hugged his father, wishing him farewell and promising once more to be careful. Aragorn mumbled something that could have been a farewell, but sounded more like 'fafel'. When his eyes met the King's, Thranduil eyed him up and down with narrowed eyes, making Aragorn feel like a juicy spider that wished to be scared away. It would not have surprised him had Thranduil suddenly thrown his arms into the air and yelled 'Booh!'.

But, Thranduil did not do something that unelvish. On the contrary, after a moment of gazing at Aragorn, the King smiled at him, bowing his head in the traditional elvish farewell gesture.

"Namarie, Estel of Imladris and Strider of the Rangers. I bid you a good journey, a pleasant stay and a safe return. Mirkwood's gates will always be open for you."

Stunned, Aragorn merely nodded, before he turned and followed Legolas towards the gates. Only when the heavy stone gates had closed behind them and they had mounted their horses, did he realize that, for the first time in all those years, King Thranduil had been really nice to him.

Sighing heartily, Legolas gave him a huge grin, "See? I told you he likes you."

"Does he?" Aragorn asked, still not sure whether this little scene had really happened, or he had fallen from the horse, bumped his head and was dreaming all of this.

"Sure he does." Legolas slowly rode down the path that sneaked through the forest, choosing for a leisurely pace. "He only likes to scare you."

"Why?" Aragorn asked, while ducking under a low hanging branch.

"Because he likes you, Estel. It is his way of showing it. Of breaking the ice." Shrugging, Legolas closed his eyes, enjoying the play of light and shadow on his face.

'His way of showing me that he likes me? Breaking the ice?' Aragorn thought morosely. 'Then I really do not want to know what he would do if he considers me family one day.' But he did not say these things aloud, letting Legolas enjoy the spring sun in peace. And if he was honest with himself, somewhere deep down, Aragorn was feeling honored that the mighty King of Mirkwood, who had fought so many battles and won so many victories, liked him enough to want to scare him. After all, during all those years that Aragorn now visited Mirkwood, the King had always shown him the utmost respect. And considering that he and Legolas were more than simply 'friends', which was no secret either, Aragorn admitted that it was amazing that the King had not thrown him out years ago.

The two riders crossed a small stone bridge that stretched across a gurgling stream, before they entered the deeper woods. Deciding that dwelling on the subject of his relationship with King Thranduil was not the best way of starting this lovely day, Aragorn sighed deeply and buried the theme in the back of his head. Breathing in the fresh air, he looked around, amazed at the change in scenery this early spring had brought to the forest.

Aragorn had stayed the winter in Mirkwood, enjoying his off time from the rangers with his best friend and lover. During that time, snow and ice had covered most of Mirkwood's forests, with frozen rivers and hard earth. The hunting trips and patrols he had joined had been less than comfortable; more often than not he had stayed awake through the night, afraid that his toes or fingers would freeze off.

But now, only a few weeks into Viresse, the weather was warm and the sun had shown for more days than it had rained. The grass was green and lush, while the rivers and streams gurgled merrily, sparkling and shining in the sunlight. Off the path, the birds chirped in the trees, while squirrels chased each other round and round happily. Flowers blossomed already, although by right they should not have been awake yet. The bright, light green of the new born leaves battled with the blue of sky; it was sight to behold.

Tilting his head towards the sun and enjoying the warmth, Aragorn smiled contentedly. This, he thought, was the perfect beginning to a hopefully great trip. Beside him, Legolas enjoyed the sun himself, relaxing the reigns and giving his horse all the freedom it needed. The road they were using was still close enough to the elven settlements to be guarded thoroughly, and he knew that nothing would happen to them. Orcs and wolves did not dare to come this far north, and the shadow had not spread so far yet. This area was still as lovely as it had been hundreds of years ago.

For almost an hour they rode in comfortable silence, simply happy to be together. The sunlight painted a wonderful mosaic of light and shadow on the path, and the chirping of the birds and the buzz of the insects created a peaceful background melody and soothed them both. When the sun rose higher and the air became warmer, Aragorn shrugged out of his thicker leather overcoat, and after a moments contemplation he rolled up the sleeves of his grey shirt as well.

"Will this not be too cold, Estel?" Legolas asked, watching while Aragorn folded his overcoat and stuffed it into one of his saddlebags.

"Oh no. The sun is strong enough. There is no wind either." Aragorn shrugged, giving Legolas a small smile. Leaning back in his saddle, Aragorn patted his horse's neck. "So, Lake-town. You have been there before, have you not?"

Legolas nodded. "Aye. Many years ago, before the dragon Smaug scorched the mountains and destroyed most of the town. I have not been there since…" he screwed his face up in thought, "almost 200 years, I think."

Aragorn's eyes widened in disbelief, "Two hundred years? You told me you knew the town!"

"I do." Legolas answered, smiling. "So much cannot have changed since my last visit."

Giving the elf a disbelieving look, Aragorn shook his head. "Legolas, I'm sorry to say that, but two hundred years is longer than most humans live. Everything will have changed."

"Well, then we will have to explore it together." Legolas winked at him, making Aragorn all warm and comfortable inside. "And besides, the thought behind this trip was to show Lake-town to you. You are the one who wanted to see it and get to know the area. If this journey serves to enlighten me as well, I am more than happy to have come along." Legolas added, shrugging.

"Aye." Aragorn replied mock sourly. "But a certain elf who will remain unnamed here, told me to know the town and its inhabitants, and to be happy to show me all he knew."

With a sparkle of mischief in his eyes, Legolas leaned closer towards Aragorn, speaking softly, "And I will show you all I know. Have I not always?"

Aragorn needed only the fraction of a second to understand the meaning behind those words, and he blushed a sweet tinge of pink. Laughing, Legolas leaned back, gesturing at the road. "We will never make it there before fall if we keep this pace." And with that said he pressed his thighs into the horse's flanks, galloping down the road. Shaking his head at the elf's antics, Aragorn patted his horse and then sped after his friend. He had a feeling, that this trip would be more than interesting. Especially with Legolas around.

To be continued

-bites nails nervously- So, what do you think? Is it that bad? -looks suspiciously at readers- You can be honest, really, I can take it. -smiles vervously- BUT, you could consider putting your critics into nice wording. Or serve it with a yummy cappuchino, sprinkeled with some chocolate and cream...-drool- cappuchino...