"Welcome to Rivendell International Airport."

"Are you sure this is safe?" Boromir asked, eyeing the ebb and flow of travelers through the concourse.

"I still think we should have taken the train," said Aragorn.

"This is perfectly safe," Gandalf said with some annoyance."And much faster than train. Besides, the tracks might be closed at the Pass at this time of year."

"Do not leave baggage unattended."

"Don't worry, Bill, I'm not leaving you behind…" Sam whispered to the heavily-laden pony who followed along after him.

"This is a nonsmoking terminal. If smoking is an integral part of your being, please follow the signs to the smoking area to await your flight."

"Sounds like you," Pippin grinned, nudging Merry with an elbow.

"Elven Express Members please proceed to gate number 3."

"I wonder if they're going west?" Legolas wondered with a note of longing in his voice.

"Elven Express. Phah!" Gimli muttered, barely catching himself short of spitting.

"Please refrain from making inappropriate jokes or remarks about security."

"What are inappropriate jokes?" Pippin wondered.

"Just….don't say anything," Aragorn advised, striding past him.

"Why not?" Pippin persisted.

"About what?" Merry asked, his mind obviously wandering off towards displayed snacks at a nearby kiosk.

"Huh?" asked Sam.

"Never mind," Frodo said. "We're falling behind. Come on!"

"Will passengers Ugluk and Shagrat please report to the boarding desk. Mr. Luk and Mr. Rat, please report to the boarding desk."

"What kind of names are those?" Pippin asked.

"Yrch," Legolas said.

"What? Yuck?"

Aragorn frowned. "Not a good sign if they are also traveling south. I wonder what flight they're on?"

"We have bigger things to worry about," Gandalf said, brushing it off. "Everyone over here. Let's be certain we all understand what we're doing. No, no comments. Now everyone be quiet and just listen."

They followed him back into a corner and gathered around the hard seats that were bolted there. He stood, conveniently hidden behind a large potted plant, and rummaged in his pocket. A thick piece of paper was drawn out and unfolded revealing a neat stack of rectangular tickets.

"These," he said significantly, "are your tickets. Keep them safe, for we won't be able to find more. You remember our destination…"

Merry raised his hand. "Mordor?"

"Shhh!" the others hissed at him. "Quiet!"

"That was not only indiscreet, but incorrect, Meriadoc," Gandalf admonished to the blushing hobbit. He handed out the tickets and lowered his voice. "Look at the ticket, what do you see?"

Frodo considered his. "Guh-ducks."

"Or maybe Goo-dough?" Boromir offered, "If it's pronounced like they do in Dol Amroth."

"That's letters, GDX, not a word," Aragorn said.

"I thought it might be Elven," Sam said, rotating his to look at it from another angle. "So, what's GDX then?"

"It is the symbol for the airport of Gondor."

"Oh, of course. I knew that," Boromir fumbled.

"What do they call it in your country?" Legolas asked him.

"Uh. The Airport."

"Very practical," Gimli nodded.

"This airport, the one you are standing in, is the other symbol, RVX."

"I thought those were numbers," Gimli said. "Good thing we brought you along."

The wizard ignored him. "Look at these symbols and remember them. If anything happens so that our Fellowship is split up, you will need to be able to find your way to the proper gate or you will miss the flight. But also remember, we are traveling in secret! That is why we are not taking the flight into…that other place."

"M… " Merry started and clapped a hand over his own mouth.

"Gondor has a busy enough airport they shouldn't pay us any mind. If anyone asks, we are merely traveling there for a holiday. Once we are safely there the Steward will be able to help us arrange transport into…elsewhere."

Aragorn looked concerned, but Boromir nodded. "Of course!"

"Now, stay together. We still have to pass Security before we can get to the gate, but with our papers all in order it shouldn't be too hard." He glanced at the ticket in his hand. "Our flight is number 3019. "

"Which airline?" Boromir asked.

"GwaihAir. BeastAir would have been cheaper, but Elrond considered it unpredictable and was quite firm, something about the management. We shall look for our flight on that list over there and it will tell us which gate we are to go to."

They followed him towards the posted listing. "I'm sure glad we have him," Sam said to Frodo as they walked. "I would have been lost in this place already otherwise. And look, Mr. Frodo," he pointed to a sign they were passing. "What does that mean, you think?"

"Put liquids, gels or pastes in a baggie?" Frodo read. "I have no idea."

"You don't think they know about… well, you - do you?" Sam whispered, wide-eyed.

"That's baggie, not Bagg…" Frodo started before catching himself.

"There is much strange about this place," Legolas commented as he passed them.

Sam nodded and tugged on the rope in his hand. "Come on, Bill."

---

They gathered in front of the list and watched as the wizard traced his way down the listings with the tip of his staff.

"Ah. Here we are. Flight # 3019. Leaves from Gate #1. Departing to GDX with connecting service available to Dol Amroth, Isengard and…the other place."

"How did you figure all of that?" Merry wondered.

Gandalf didn't reply, but Aragorn helpfully pointed to the small lettering at the side. "See? DAX, INX and MOX. Those are the letters for the other three places he mentioned."

Frodo nodded. "It makes sense to me."

Pippin raised his brows, impressed. "You always were the smart one, cousin Frodo."

"When we get wherever we're going we'll let you do the translating," Merry agreed.

"At least we were able to get our tickets ahead, thanks to Elrond," Aragorn noted. "That line at the ticket counter looks pretty slow. Are they having to give names?"

"Hush," Gandalf admonished him. "He listed us under assumed names."

"Why?" asked Pippin.

"Weren't you listening? Because it's a secret," Merry said. "But I don't know about being listed as Elves." He walked on his tiptoes to make the point. "What would my parents say?"

Sam rolled his eyes at him, then swatted at Bill who was absently trying to eat his hair.

"We're not listed as Elves, only under false names," Aragorn assured him.

Frodo shrugged. "As long as they aren't orc or troll names, we should be good to go…"

"Look at mine, what kind of name is Koot Nippip?"

"Mine says 'Odorf'," Frodo said.

"Will you all stop talking about it?" Gandalf snapped testily. "You aren't helping. Now let me see, which gate do we go to?" He turned from one corridor to the other. "I don't remember…"

They paused and looked around. Time passed as various passengers struggled past them with assorted luggage.

"The answer is near, I can feel it," Legolas whispered.

"You mean we could just read it on our tickets?" Sam said.

"Shhh! Don't embarrass Gandalf…" Frodo hissed at him just as the wizard gave a start and suddenly started off towards the left. "Ah! Now I know! We go this way!"

"How can you tell?" asked Merry, trotting behind.

"I can smell the coffee shop, the air is more fragrant over here."

"We still have to get through security," Aragorn worried. He looked back at Sam who was still leading Bill the Pony loaded down with all of their bags. "And what about the luggage? I don't think they'll let on that many carry-ons."

The group slowed and formed a loose circle around Bill, who blinked at them sedately and swished his tail.

"Aragorn is right," Boromir said. "They only allow what you can carry, and even all of us together couldn't heft that pony through the door."

"What'll we do, then?" Sam asked anxiously, pulling Bill's furry cheek close to his own. Bill nickered and tried to nose Sam's patting hand for treats.

"We'll check him," Aragorn decided.

"What?"

"That way our luggage stays all together and Bill will still be able to come too."

"I agree," Gandalf said, nodding. "He has been a useful companion."

"Sounds feasible to me," Boromir agreed.

"All of you stay here, I'll take him. Sam, come with me," Gandalf said, reaching for Bill's halter. The pony turned and followed him, only hesitating a moment until Sam's hand joined the wizard's at his head.

"Poor Sam," said Frodo. "They better not accidently reroute that pony to another flight or he'll be beside himself with worry.'

"Bill learned much while he was in Rivendell," Legolas soothed. "I think if he is lost, he'll find his way back."

Gandalf and Sam, avoiding the line at the ticket counter, instead approached a tall Elven skycap who stood near one of the conveyor belts that were whisking luggage away to the planes.

Gandalf smiled his most friendly and beguiling smile. "Fine day, isn't it?"

"Well enough," the skycap said with a slight nod. "May I be of service to you?"

"We need to check some luggage," Gandalf said, still smiling.

"You've come to the right place," he lifted a small pad with pencil poised. "How many pieces?"

"Only one."

The skycap considered Bill the Pony and his assorted burdens. "Which one?"

"This one," Gandalf said with a sweeping gesture that took in Bill and all of his bags.

"All of that?"

"It's only one piece. Mark it for Gondor."

"But…"

"Is there anything that says a piece of baggage must be a geometric shape?"

"Well, no…"

"Is there anything that says my luggage can't have more than one compartment in it?"

"No, no… but…"

"Does it specifically say a pony cannot be luggage?"

"Uh, no…but…"

"Then go ahead and list him as one piece of luggage." Gandalf slipped something gold that clinked into the skycap's hand. There was a slight pause.

"Yessir!" The skycap said and cheerfully wrote out two tags, handing one to Sam and tying the other around Bill's neck.

"Now," Gandalf said, "Over here, Bill." The pony followed his lead and stepped up onto the conveyor belt. "Sit! Stay! Good boy!"

Bill obediently settled himself on the belt and was whisked away through the flapping doorway, his forelock waving in the wind. He looked as if he were enjoying it.

"Goodbye, Bill!" Sam cried after him. "Be a good pony…"

Meanwhile, the others were considering some of the signs mounted on the walls nearby.

"Look at that, Merry…" Pippin pointed with some longing at the sign displaying a flight to SRX in the Shire, continuing on to MDX along the coast.

Merry sighed. "You know, I've lived all my life near the Shire Airport, but I've never been over the hills to Mithlond. I've heard it's got great fish chowder and a boffo view from the café."

Frodo considered the sign. "I didn't know they'd opened an air-strip in Erebor. I wonder if that's how Bilbo got over there."

"Which one is Erebor?" Merry asked.

"Right there, ERX. See? It's connecting through Mirkwood, it must be Erebor."

"Irks?" read Pippin, "Why ever did they call it that?"

"Must have been because of all the Dwarves over there," Merry whispered with a grin.

"I'll pretend I didn't hear that," growled Gimli behind him.

Somewhere behind them an announcement came over the speakers, "Glorfindel, please meet your party at the baggage claim area… Flight #2570 departing to Rohan with local connection available to Dunharrow now boarding at Gate 4. "

They turned around as a growing sound of bongos approached them. A large group of hairy Wild Men gamboled past them beating small drums and waving tickets, quickly making their way around the bend that sported a large number 4. Three tall blonde men who smelled strongly of horses ran after them, followed by a clump of somethings vaguely man-shaped, grey-green and see-through that stood their hair on end. A handful of tickets floated along with them as they silently slid around the same corner.

There was a long moment of silence.

"At least that's not our flight," Gimli finally offered. "Stood my hair on end, those last ones did."

They all nodded again in silence.

"Good, I see you're finally holding your tongues" Gandalf observed as he and Sam rejoined the group.

They just looked at one another. "Nevermind," Aragorn covered. "Now, how about that security check?"

----

Clutching their tickets, they approached the roped off area for Security and nervously got in line. "Remember," Gandalf reminded them, "They may not appear fearsome, but these Elves hold the key to our success. If they do not let us pass, all is come to naught. Do whatever they tell you to."

They slowly sorted themselves into a queue with Gandalf taking up the rear.

"Act natural," Aragorn advised, slouching against a trashcan.

"I am," Boromir retorted from where he stood at full height, sternly scanning the crowd around them for any threats.

"You look like you're expecting to be ambushed."

"Who knows? Maybe we are."

"Where would they come from? The restrooms?"

"Perhaps. Better to be prepared than to regret it later."

Aragorn sighed.

Merry nudged Frodo. "Look at that, a doorway standing all by itself."

"It's like a garden-gate," Sam noted. "The widow Rumble has a lattice one, with purple clematis trained up over it. Beautiful thing to see."

"No flowers on this one," Frodo noted.

"That's because it's winter, of course," Sam replied. "I bet these Elves make it a real show-stopper in the spring."

They watched the travellers ahead of them making their way through. "Looks like we have to walk through it," Merry said. "Some kind of Elven ceremony?"

"Elves complicate everything," Gimli said. "Even walking through doors."

Trying to be inconspicuous in spite of their mixed appearances, they slowly edged their way towards the security guards who stood by the archway with Legolas taking up the rear.

Aragorn, who had placed himself at the head of the line in case there were any dangerous moves from the guards, finally stepped up before them, handing them his ticket as he had seen previous people do.

They guard examined it. "Nrogara Cte?" he said. "Odd name."

"It's a Northern dialect," Aragorn said with a straight face.

"Going to Gondor?"

"Just visiting some cousins."

"All right, seems to be in order. Take off your shoes. Go ahead and step through the gate."

"Take off my shoes?"

"That's right. They go in this bin. You can put them back on after you go through."

Aragorn shrugged and knelt down to tug off his boots, then walked through the gate.

BEEEEEEEEEP!

Everyone still waiting in line jumped.. Aragorn startled and reflexively whipped out his sword. The guards just shook their heads at him.

"That's probably what set it off."

"What?"

"It's metal, you'll need to take it off."

"Metal?"

"The gate detects if you are carrying any metal," the first guard told him as if instructing a small child.

Aragorn took a deep breath then slowly unbuckled Anduril in its sheath and laid it aside. "Now what?"

"Walk through again."

He tried a second time.

BEEEEEEEEEEP!

"Any other weapons?"

He reluctantly pulled out his dagger and handed it over.

"Jewelry?"

"What? Jewelry?"

"You know, rings, necklaces…that sort of thing."

The Ring of Barahir and the Evenstar soon joined his dagger and boots in the bin. A third attempt removed his arrows and bow, a belt and several bits of loose change.

"Finally!" the guard said, rolling his eyes. He handed the non-weaponry back to Aragorn and dropped the rest into a box.

"Hey, what about my sword?" Aragorn asked rather anxiously.

"Sorry. Move along now."

Aragorn unhappily moved to the side to watch the rest of the group come through. They'd all been watching his adventure and whispering between each other, trying to learn what worked and what didn't.

Pippin stepped up and handed the guard his ticket.

"Koot Nippip?"

Pip shrugged innocently. "They're all called that where I come from."

"All right, Koot. Remove your shoes and step over here."

"Don't have any."

"What?" the guard looked down and raised his brows. "No shoes?"

"I, uh, decided to save time at the airport and not wear any."

There was a slight pause. "Right. Any weapons?"

"Only this little sword, that's it. It's harmless. I don't even know how to use it, really." He tried to tuck it back away, but they took it from his hand.

"What's that?" one asked pointing at a bulge in his coat pocket.

"Apple?" Pippin said, wondering why they were asking.

"No fresh produce. Sorry," they said, pulling the apple out. "Any more?"

"Look, if you want to share that's fine but…"

Ignoring him, they riffled through his pockets, deftly removing two pears, three more apples and a brown apple-core.

Pippin, a bit crestfallen, walked through the gate. Everyone in line braced themselves but no noise was heard.

"Thank you," the guard said. "Move along."

"At least I still have my cheese," he whispered as he joined Aragorn by the wall.

"Great," Aragorn muttered cynically. "Next time we meet up with some orcs we can kill them with a big hunk of cheese, right to the throat."

They looked back over to where Merry was having his ticket examined. "Kcubydnarb Codairem?"

"Just call me Cuby, everyone else does."

"What does it mean?" the guard asked, intrigued.

"Uh, it's a… plant. We um, dry it and smoke it."

"Is that what's in this pouch, then?" asked the other, taking a pinch out of Merry's pouch and sniffing it.

"Of course," he said, "I always carry some, uh, as a family token, seeing as it's my name."

"Sorry but we can't allow unknown substances like this to pass."

"But it's not unknown, it's…uh, it's…whatever that was you said."

They gave him an odd look. Merry returned it with the most woebegone and pitiful look he could muster, but to no avail. Apparently Elves were not affected by the looks he'd successfully used countless times on the Shire lasses. The pipeweed pouch was gone, along with the short sword he'd gotten from the barrow.

Seeing as it was going rather slowly, Legolas wandered off to do a little shopping. The others watched with trepedition as Gimli stepped up to the Elves. He handed over his ticket as if daring them to question it.

"Frawd Yknits?" grinned the Elves.

"You have a problem with that?" Gimli glowered at them and fingered his axe. One of the guards reached for it but he twitched it out of their hands. "Ye'll not be touching this. I'll set it aside, but I want to be clear that it is MY axe."

One of the guards turned and picked up a small bell, giving it a silvery ring. Another Elf in airport uniform quickly paced towards them. "This one is being uncooperative," they told him.

"I am NOT," huffed Gimli.

"Come this way, Mr. Yknits. I'll make sure you get where you need to go," the new guard said. Gimli hesitated.

"Go on!" Gandalf called from where he was waiting in line behind them. The Dwarf gave a grunt and followed the guard to a separate security station at the side.

Sam stepped up next.

"Eegmag Esiwmas - finally, a proper sounding name!" the guard said. "Sometimes I don't even know how I can be expected to pronounce these other ones."

"I expect you'll be wanting this," Sam said, politely handing over his short sword. "I think that's it."

"What about that pan?"

"Well, it's a… a frying pan. For cooking," Sam said, wondering if they were addled.

"It's a potential weapon."

Sam gave a weak laugh. "Only to chickens and rabbits, or maybe a fish now and then."

They just held out their hands. Sam handed his precious pan over to them with a sigh.

"Let's take a look in that pack…" He watched in growing dismay as they rooted out every last piece of his precious cookware set, even the ladle. One of them held up a small box. "What's this?"

"Salt," Sam said.

The Elf opened it and cautiously sniffed at it then dropped it in the bin.

"What?! What did you go and do that for?" Sam demanded.

"All white powdered substances have to be confiscated."

"What color do you expect salt to be?" he asked in amazement.

"Go on through."

Sam glumly joined the others. "Sure going to be short commons once we get there. What do they think we can do, just eat things raw?"

"Bleah," agreed Pippin sympathetically. "Want some cheese?"

At the other security station, Gimli had been coaxed to lay aside the axe he had been carrying and the one from his belt as well. He slowly bent to yank off his boots, then the metal-toed socks beneath them.

He held up the redolent socks and waved them about with a smirk. "You'll be wanting to check these?"

"No, the Elf said, holding out a small bin. "Just put them…cough in here…"

"Heh-heh-heh-heh…." He dropped them in and then set about tugging off his helm.

Frodo peeled his eyes away from watching Gimli and the shape of his form-fitted helm-hair. Taking a breath, he went forward, extending his ticket.

"Odorf? Haha."

"It's more poetic in its original context." Frodo said, reluctantly handing over Sting in its sheath.

"Anything else? I see you didn't wear shoes either."

He gritted his teeth. "No." Through the imposing gate he went.

BEEEEEEEP!

"Okay. There's a…um, mail shirt. Do I have to take it off?"

They nodded in unison. Frodo slowly pulled off his coat, weskit and shirt. Everyone's eyes widened as the mithril shirt came into view. He pulled it off and replaced his clothing. The guards admired it and turned it in the light.

"Anything else?"

He gritted his teeth again and faked a smile. "I don't think so."

BEEEEEEEEP!

"What do you have in your pockets?" one of the guards suggested. "Or maybe it's a belt buckle?

Frodo turned out his pockets for them, growing more desperate as he did so.

"Is this mithril?" the other guard asked, still fascinated with the mail-shirt. They both admired it. Frodo grabbed at this moment of inattention to slip the Ring on its chain over his head, cupping it in his hand.

"Yes," he encouraged them, "if you turn it in the light sometimes it makes rainbows."

"Really?" They turned it this way and that.

Thankful beyond thankful for the Elven delight with beautiful things, Frodo abruptly lobbed the Ring right over the security gate towards his friends. They stared at it coming at them, uncomprehending. With a small 'clink-kersloop' it vanished into a trashcan next to Sam.

The guards finally dropped the shirt into the bin and turned their diamond-dazzled eyes back to their job. "Now, where were we?"

"I got the shirt off. So…now I go through?"

Getting a confused nod in reply, he finally walked through the gate without the buzzer catching him. He was so pleased with this he jauntily waved back at them as he went, but the guards had already turned their attention to Gandalf, who was holding out his ticket.

Behind them, Frodo trotted then sped up until he hit the trashcan at a dead run and all but dove into it. There was a small explosion of wrappers, napkins and half-empty coffee cups, then a pause as he apparently found what he was looking for. Aragorn surreptitiously reached in and helped pull him back out. Sam helpfully flicked gum and sticky wrappers off of his Master.

Merry gave an odd look. "If you needed some coffee, I'm sure we could have gotten you some…"

Off at the side station, Gimli stood truculantly by a slowly growing pile of metal that now equaled half his mass.

The guard stood over him with crossed arms. "Keep going."

The dwarf grimly unbuckled more belts and accessories as his layers were removed. "This is ridiculous." Grumbling, he handed over his small throwing axe and yanked at his hauberk until it finally crashed to the floor.

The guard took the small axe between the tips of his fingers and quickly dropped it onto the pile. He wiped his hands on his tunic. "Three axes?" his eyebrows quirked.

"Four," Gimli growled, extracting a hidden one from the pile of chain-mail at his feet. "And if I were not constrained by my need to reach Gondor in this manner, I might say what I am thinking would be a prime use for them."

He began unlacing his metal-studded undershirt. "And I don't mean for chopping wood…" he continued, muttering to himself.

Boromir looked back at Gandalf, who gestured him forward. He squared his shoulders and proudly stepped up to the guards, handing them his ticket.

"Rimorob?"

"No, that's SIR Rimorob," he corrected.

The Elves met his gaze. One of them raised his brows. "Well, SIR Rimorob, you still have to hand over any weapons, and remove your shoes."

Boromir unbuckled his broadsword and handed it over, smiling slightly as the guard had to momentarily struggle to lift it up into the bin. He knelt and removed his boots, handing them over with dignity.

"What about that shield?"

"It isn't a weapon," he pointed out.

"It has metal."

"But it isn't a weapon."

"Take it off," the guard said with some annoyance, "if you want to go forward."

Boromir seemed to weigh that thought in his mind a moment.

Aragorn rolled his eyes. "He better just hand it over."

Pippin looked up at Aragorn and then at Merry. The two of them immediately began jumping up and down, waving their arms and pantomining handing over the shield.

Boromir, his eye caught by their motion, had to grant them a small smile. He slowly unstrapped his shield and let them take it from his hands. "I'm only letting you take that because my friends think I should," he clarified. "It is only for their sake, and not for my own…"

"Yeah, yeah. Whatever," the guard said. "Is that it? Any loose change? Daggers? Jewelry? Belt buckles?"

Boromir, interrupted in his speech, gave a frown but held his tongue. He silently emptied his pockets and lifted his head, stalking through the gate.

BEEEEEEEEEP!

"Now what?" he snapped at them.

"Your horn," the guard pointed. "It has metal on it."

"It's a HORN! For pity's sake, give it a rest! What do you think I'm going to do, honk someone to death?"

"Maybe," the guard said with a straight face. "We've seen stranger things."

Boromir looked like he was seriously considering turning the horn into a weapon after all, but instead he slowly unhooked it and gave it over, then walked through the gate again. This time there was no sound. No sound except that of his horn being added to the bin of weapons behind him.

"Men!" commented the guards, shaking their heads.

Behind and to the side, Gimli dropped another belt-buckle onto the pile and began systematically removing coins from various small pockets, the lining of his cloak and the hems of his shirt. Being a Dwarf, he had apparently brought along more money than any of them had thought possible. "Now I better get every coin of this back. I know exactly how much is there, and I'm not offering any tips for good service," he groused, nearly as red as his beard.

"Attention all passengers. Flight # 3019 with service to Gondor has been delayed due to inclement weather. Repeat, Flight #3019 has been delayed."

Legolas ambled back to the line, a steaming cup with "Bruinen Beans" emblazoned across it and a half-eaten bagel in hand. "Is everyone through?" he asked Gandalf.

"Everyone but you and I." Gandalf was vastly relieved that it was nearly done, though he hadn't counted on their losing so many valuable things along the way. " It's been taking us so long, it's probably just as well that our flight's been delayed a bit. We seem to have a bit of trouble getting our supplies through."

Legolas took an unconcerned swig of his latte and gave Gandalf a wink.

"Next!" one of the guards called.

Not sure what to make of the wink, Gandalf had to leave it for later. Gathering his robes, he stepped forward and handed over his ticket.

"Ridnarhtim?" the guard read. He peered at Gandalf and his hat. "Any relation to Radagast?"

"Perhaps," Gandalf said. "but without any livestock." He dug in his pockets and dropped a couple coins and a paperclip in the bin. Unlacing his boots, he dropped them in then checked his pouch. From this he extracted a small bag of toffees and popped one in his mouth.

"Toffee?"

"No bribes," the guard replied stiffly.

"Only being polite," Gandalf said. Keeping a carefully neutral expression on his face he unbuckled Glamdring and allowed it to be placed in the bin with Sting, Anduril and the rest.

"Is there anything in that hat?" they asked suspiciously.

"Only rabbits."

"What?"

"It was a joke."

"No inappropriate jokes," the guard intoned.

"That was hardly inappropriate," Gandalf chuckled. "Would you like to hear an inappropriate one? Once there were these two Elves walking along a river and the one Elf says to the other…"

"What about that staff?" the second guard interrupted. "Isn't that a weapon?"

"I am old! I know you get to be ageless, but you really need to remember not everyone does. My knees are ancient and my legs downright tottery. You wouldn't part an old man from his walking stick, would you?"

"Well…." said one.

The other wasn't so snowed by the friendly twinkle or grandfatherly smile. "Hand it over."

Gandalf paused, clenching his hands on his precious staff. "It's only to lean upon."

"Then you cannot pass!"

The wizard clenched his eyes shut for a moment. "Very well…" The staff left his hands.

He walked through the gate.

BEEEEEEEEEP!

Gandalf frowned at that, honestly perplexed. "Now what could that be?" He patted all of his pockets again, then suddenly held up a finger. "Aha, I know." Rummaging, he soon extracted a small metal flask.

"What's in it?" one of the curious guards asked.

"Miruvor," Gandalf said. "And a fine vintage too."

Their eyes lit up and one even licked his lips. "Miruvor? I'm afraid we'll have to confiscate that. No liquids you know." They both reached out for the flask.

"Just a moment!" Legolas' voice came. "That's mine!"

"What?" all three said in confusion.

Legolas stepped forward and reached out a hand for it. "I let my friend borrow it earlier. So sorry."

"Oh!" the two Elves said, "Well, in that case…"

"Oh yes, just borrowed it…was holding it for him while he had his coffee…" Gandalf said, going along with it. The wizard passed the flask to Legolas who gave him another wink and tucked it in his belt.

Gandalf walked through the gate, forgetting to walk like an old man. No buzzer sounded.

"Well, that was interesting," Merry observed from over at the wall. "But what about old Gimli over there?"

"Do you think they'll let him through?" Sam asked. "'It would be a shame for him to have come all this way just to get left behind in the airport."

"They're sure searching him," Frodo said.

Gimli was, in fact, blushingly down to his skivvies but his metal beard clips were now giving him problems.

The Elven guard pulled out a pair of scissors. "If you won't remove those metal clips from that disgusting beard, we'll may just have to cut them off."

Gimli was aghast. "Cut my beard?!"

"Beard-growers are known troublemakers anyway. It's a proven fact."

The dwarf was livid. "Proven fact? Well, you know what I say to that? Zun kisda nunstruck gitund zlotermeyer-ja! Flizzenkolt!" He groped for one of the discarded axes.

The Elf frowned and adjusted his hold on the scissors. It might have gone ill indeed except for Legolas suddenly calling out to him. "Hold!"

"What?" the guard asked as Legolas came up to him. He pointed at Gimli accusingly. "This one is a dwarf!"

"So he is, but it's no fault of his own is it? He was brought along with our group to provide amusement and help with the camp chores. Go ahead and let him through. He'll need all his metal too."

The guard looked doubtful. "Well, if you say so…"

"I….I am not….you!" blustered Gimli. "Chores….!"

Legolas just gave him a serene smile. "No doubt the Gondorians will find him even more amusing than we do. Now gear up and go help the others, they'll soon be in need of sandwiches and coffee, and don't forget to I need my bowstring rewaxed this evening."

The guard shrugged and left Gimli to struggle back into this things. Legolas casually hummed a tune and strolled back to the first set, handing them his ticket.

"Legolas Greenleaf?" one of them read. "From Mirkwood?"

"None other," he said. "Sorry for any problems my father's performing troupe caused for you. Oh, and here, I have these two knives but they're harmless, and everything else is all natural fibers."

"Of course," they grinned.

Legolas took out a white paper bag with 'Rivendeli' on it. "I bought too many of these, you wouldn't mind finishing them for me, would you?"

"Lembas-on-a-stick!" One of the guards said, peering into the bag. "Thanks."

"No problem. Have a great day and say hi to everyone back at the Hall for me will you?" Legolas said. He slipped around the gate instead of through it but the guards didn't comment.

Suddenly spinning around he gave a graceful snap of his fingers. "Oh! One more thing. You don't mind if I take that bin off your hands? I let them borrow these things and look what they do with them." He rolled his eyes at the antics of all those crazy non-Elves and nudged a guard with an elbow. The guards laughed and nodded along with him as he deftly rolled the bin of weapons away.

"Come along!" he sang back at the staring Fellowship. "As soon as our Dwarf rejoins us, we need to catch that flight!"

"Elves," Gimli growled, continuing with an unintelligible reply as he pulled his hauberk back over his head.

It was probably just as well.

"Thank you for choosing Rivendell International Airport."