A/N: First, let me explain why I have written this. I know that this tale is already a good one with where it is left off, and I have no idea how this epilogue will effect this story's approval rating, but I wrote this for those of us that, despite the tale is good the way it was told, absolutely hate sad endings. Especially the kind of endings I left this story with. I wrote this, also, because I, myself, do not like unhappy endings, even bitter-sweet ones, and if I can help it, I will try and not write those types of stories.
Fortunately, for me and others that want an epilogue, I had an idea come that brings us here. This epilogue was a pain in the rear to write, especially considering that Aragorn did NOT want to give me any ideas for it. You can ask my friends, they were witness to some of the problems I had with the ranger. Eventually he gave me an idea, which, of course! was one that would be a big pain to figure out how to do. Obviously, I have figured something out, and I am sure Strider is a little bit, deep down inside, put out with that.
Strider: Hey! I am not!
A/N: Sure, whatever you say, adan. Anyway, this epilogue is written to the song 'Dead Man (Carry Me)' by Jars of Clay. I hope this epilogue is acceptable.

January 1, I've got a lot of things on my mind
I'm looking at my body through a new spy satellite
Try to lift a finger, but I don't think I can make the call
So tell me if I move, 'cause I don't feel anything at all

A feeling of weightlessness assaulted his senses. Looking down, Aragorn caught sight of something quite unexpected - he saw himself lying on the ground, with an arrow sticking out of his chest and looking quite pale. The ranger could feel his brow crinkle in confusion. He saw Aderyn standing beside his body, and some one else he did not know kneeled over him. Was he still alive? He hadn't thought he had died... had he?

Aragorn tried to move, but he didn't think he had done so. It was hard to tell though. He could feel everything and yet nothing at the same time. He could feel the wind whistling through the trees, he could feel the grass beneath him, he could even feel the arrow in his chest. But he couldn't feel himself breathing, moving, twitching. Nothing. It was bizarre.

The ranger closed his eyes on the aerial view, trying once more to move. But he couldn't feel anything at all that indicated he had moved. If only someone could tell him if he had, it was driving him crazy!

So Carry Me,
I'm just a dead man
Lying on the carpet
Can't find a heartbeat
Make me breathe,
I want to be a new man
Tired of the old one
Out with the old plan

Strider opened his eyes to look down once more upon his body. He didn't want to be dead, but he was not going to regret his choice - he was not. He knew, despite his wishes, that he really was dead. That his body was without life as it lay upon the carpet of grass. They would find no heartbeat, but he wondered - as a man leaned over him - if they could make him breathe once more. He wanted to. He wanted to be alive again, a new man with an example of a good life to live.

I woke up from a dream about an empty funeral
They've got hearts to break and burn
Dirty hands to feel the earth
There's something in my veins,
But I can't seem to make it work... won't work

Then his vision suddenly began to change, and Aragorn saw things entirely different - he wondered how much time had passed, if indeed any at all. The man heard crying and found himself looking down upon a funeral, his family the only people gathered around. And with a great deal of sadness he deduced that it was his own. His heart felt weighted with sorrow at his broken-hearted family. Last thing he had ever wanted to do was cause them pain.

He watched silently as dirty hands dug into the earth to finish digging out the hole he was to be placed in. Strangely enough, Aragorn could almost feel the pain emanating from his family and the other elves that were digging; he could feel their hearts breaking and burning.

Strider turned away from the scene. It was unbearable to watch his loved ones go through this and not be able to comfort them. He felt something stir in his essence, deep inside, coursing through his body like his veins, but he could not pinpoint what it was. Aragorn just felt strongly that he needed to be with his family, needed to let them know he was here, but suddenly he found he could not make that work.

Can you find a beat inside of me?
Any pulse?
Getting worse?
Any pulse?
Getting worse?
Inside of me, can you find a beat?

The ranger heard a gasp, but it seemed so far away. He dimly heard speaking that seemed to be coming over a long distance. Aragorn strained to hear them, wondering what it was. The ranger saw, through what seemed to be a long tunnel, the moving image of a man that leaned over him, speaking to some other people. Strider could not understand what was being said. His vision swirled and changed so that he was looking down upon himself once more as he struggled to understand what had occurred.

His heart fluttered for a moment with hope - could they have found a beat? A pulse?

After a second, crushing doubt filled him - of course they wouldn't have, he was dead - before a thought occurred to him. He had felt his heart flutter with hope... his heart fluttered! Could he really still live?

But the next moment, everything was rushing away from him as darkness swallowed him up. For a long, long while, he knew nothing more...


...Aragorn opened his eyes, blinking in confusion. He shifted, and then let out a sharp moan at the pain it caused.

Wait - pain? The ranger registered pain. If he ached, that meant he was alive, right?

"I think he's waking, Ivorr."

"That is good to hear, Righ." Two men appeared in the ranger's vision. "Go inform Caer, the young man will be delighted at this change." It had been a long struggle to hold onto Strider, but they had managed to stabilize his condition - thanks to a mysterious stranger who had disappeared without a trace after helping them - and the ranger had been resting peacefully for a few days.

"Right away, sir." Righ hurried out of the tent to retrieve Caer. The young man had not been retried since they had received Strider's evidence, but they had welcomed the young man back to their camp while they tended to the ranger and they waited for the retrial.

Ivorr smiled down at Strider, who just blinked at him, still trying to comprehend things. "Though it may be painful, welcome back to the land of the living."

His words finally broke through the haze in Strider's mind and Aragorn smiled.