Disclaimer: I, unfortunately, own nothing. tear. It all belongs to one brilliant man, and we all know who that is.

A/N: New story…don't know where it's headed, but come on for the ride. It could be fun.

"Not again…" said a strained voice that seemed to echo with utter dread. The cave walls embraced the constant noise that reverberated off the rocks like a stone that stands embedded in the earth against the onslaught of the rain. Grunts and groans could be heard from an over exertion of energy and panting breaths indicated pain and tiredness. The sound of clashing weapons broke through the thin blanket of security that seemed to seal the cave's entrance. Rain splattering on the ground could barely be heard over the sure fight that occupied the once silent cove. The brilliant glow from the crackling fire cast two shadows against the opposing wall, two shadows that danced amidst the flames.

"Do you surrender, human? Unlike you, I can continue this all night long," shouted a rather amused voice as another attack was awkwardly blocked.

"Never, my prissy friend, would I give you that satisfaction," panted another, his voice gruff and tired. Another blow came, another blow blocked. It continued on and on until finally, one shadow stumbled back, dropped his weapon, and raised both hands in peace, a stick pointed at his throat.

"Fine, have it your way. I am at your mercy." The dark-haired ranger finally ceded to his friend's never-ending durability.

"Oh, Estel, when will you learn that you are no match for my superior elven qualities?" the blonde elf sarcastically asked. He shook his head in amusement and dropped his stick away from his friend's neck. Just as he turned to sit back down by the fire, Aragorn grabbed him from behind and pinned his arm behind his back.

"And when will you learn, mellon nin, that I never like to lose?" He laughed triumphantly.

"Okay, okay, let me go."

"Not until you apologize."

"As you wish…mellon nin. I am terribly sorry." He said simply.

"Sorry for what?" Aragorn asked prompting him to respond.

"Sorry for this." With that, Legolas twisted his body out of the hold and flipped Aragorn over his back and onto his own on the ground in front of him. A soft groan came from the man lying on the ground beside the fire. Legolas could not help but smile at the sight of his now dirt covered friend.

"You play dirty, mellon nin. I thought only man was capable of such tactics. I see I was wrong." Aragorn said as he slowly raised himself to lean on his elbows.

"You dare compare me, the master of combat, to the likes of you? You're filthy." Legolas said a mock look of disgust on his face.

"Only because you threw me on the ground."

"Still, go outside. Perhaps the rain will suffice in bathing you until we can make it to a stream."

"And risk me getting sick. I'll be unbearable and miserable and…maybe I should. Then I could torment you until you apologize," said Aragorn thoughtfully.

"If it was not for this constant rain, we would have been in Imladris by now, and I would not have to be dealing with you without the help of your brothers to keep you in line."

"That's right, gang up on the lone human. That'll—"

Aragorn was suddenly cut off from his retort when the sound of upset horses filled their ears. Just outside the entrance and close enough to shelter, Legolas' and Aragorn's companions were tied securely to a log. The whimpers and frantic neighing along with the slapping hoof beats upon the sodden earth alerted the two friends to looming danger. With quick reflexes, Legolas pulled a small pail of water out and threw it on the fire, hoping to keep what little camouflage the two could maintain inside the cave. Then he strung an arrow on his bow and slowly crept towards the opening. Aragorn, trying to calm his breathing from the sudden adrenaline that coursed through his veins, followed the elf silently, no more than one step behind.

"Man cenich?" Aragorn whispered in his friend's ear, hoping that he could tell from where they were standing.

"Dartho," Legolas hissed, the concentration evident on his face as his eyes darted back and forth straining to see something moving behind the trees.

A large orc, seemingly searching for a temporary shelter, stalked into the opening from behind the overgrown plant life. He held a large weapon in his fist that seemed resilient to the pounding of the rain as it stood firm in his grasp. It was only a matter of seconds when the orc took one look at the two detained horses, wildly neighing, that he opened his mouth to let out a loud, shrill cry alerting, most likely, the rest of his group.

Seeing the orc's reaction, Legolas pulled back his bow, aimed his arrow, and quickly released it. Cutting effortlessly through the rain, the arrow embedded itself in the orc's neck, silencing it once and for all. The two friends waited quietly, the tension building as they strained to hear the sound of any orcs that had heard the call. Believing they were safe for the time being, Legolas motioned for Aragorn to follow him as he untied his horse and mounted it. Nodding in understanding, Aragorn did the same as they both knew that their plan to return home would have to occur sooner than they expected.

Just before either one was able to turn their horse towards home, an arrow was projected from somewhere deep within the forest. Sensing danger, Legolas turned around surprised but his reflexes were not quick enough. He felt a piercing pain shoot through his shoulder as the force caused him to lose his balance and fall from his horse.

"Legolas!" Aragorn yelled seeing the whole scene unfold before his eyes. He was about to dismount and aid his friend when more arrows came and nearly harmed him as well. A large group of almost two dozen orcs broke from their camouflage and charged toward the two helpless friends.

"Go, Aragorn!" Legolas yelled from his kneeled position on the ground. "You cannot fight them alone."

"I will not leave you, mellon nin. Never. We can fight this." Even as Aragorn said those words he knew that he could not fight all of the orcs alone with an injured friend, and after hours of training with Legolas, it just added to his exhaustion. Helplessness flooded his eyes and he looked pained at his feverish friend.

"Be safe, Aragorn. Find help."

"No!" He made to leap from his horse, but Legolas was quicker. He stood up and planted a firm right hook into his friend's cheek knocking him unconscious. He quickly secured his friend as best he could and swatted the frightened horse on the behind, urging it to run. "Forgive me, mellon nin," Legolas whispered. The sight of his friend galloping unaware into the forest on the path toward Imladris was the last thing he saw before the world turned black.

Elladan leaned silently against the archway, his mind elsewhere, focused on his brother and his friend somewhere out in the wilderness. Since late last night a sense of dread had been slowly creeping its way into the front of his mind. His eyes stared unseeing at the beautiful spring morning that lay just before his feet. Everything seemed to be alive as the shining sun vanquished the gloom of the previous rainy day. So lost in thought he was that he did not notice his twin walking noiselessly up behind him, a mischievous grin painted his face.

Elrohir could not pass up such an opportunity to surprise his brother. He thought back to all the times Elladan played pranks on him and it just fueled his desire for payback. Without a second thought, he jumped on his brother's back and yelled, "Hey there, dear brother!"

Elladan stumbled forward between the weight of his brother and the shock of his presence. His moth was agape and his breathing quickened. When he realized there was no threat, his eyes flashed with anger and he pulled the dark-haired elf into a headlock.

"What did you do that for, Elrohir," Elladan asked through panting breaths as he tried to calm himself.

"Payback my dear brother. Simple revenge." Elrohir tried desperately to escape his brother's hold, but he had him held tightly.

"Apologize," Elladan urged as he tightened his hold even more.

"Fine," Elrohir gasped, "Let me go. I'm sorry! Ease up will you?"

With a smirk of satisfaction, Elladan released his brother from his hold. Elrohir quickly fixed his hair and straightened his tunic so as to not leave any remnants of his embarrassment. This just caused Elladan to laugh with amusement at the twin's distress.

"Laugh while you can, brother. I will have my revenge someday. We do, after all, have forever." Elladan smiled, ignoring the empty threat. He was fairly confident that his brother would forget it by tomorrow morning. Elrohir was never one to hold a grudge.

"What was so mind consuming, anyway, that you of all people did not notice my approach? You seemed really deep in thought," Elrohir began, deciding a change of subject was in order.

"Oh, just your average worry over a certain accident-prone, trouble-attracting human that we all know and love," Elladan responded nonchalantly trying not to worry his brother about a danger that might not even be real. He did enough worrying for the both of them as the more responsible and overprotective one.

"Ah-huh," Elrohir muttered skeptically as he eyed his twin trying to discern the validity of his statement.

"Everything is fine, Elrohir."

As soon as those words were uttered, the two brothers heard the approach of a frantic horse. The clapping of the hooves and the seemingly panicked neighing caused both elves to bolt from the entranceway toward the worrisome noise. The sight before them made Elladan's stomach drop as his earlier fears became real.

"Estel!" They both yelled in unison.

Aragorn lay hunched over the front of his horse, arms dangling uselessly on either side of the animal's body. His unmoving state sent fear into the elves before him. Elladan reached out a tentative hand toward his brother's neck, fearing that the man had left them, but he sighed in relief as a steady pulse beat beneath his fingertips.

"Is he alright?" Elrohir asked nervously when he realized that Legolas was not with him. His absence meant that something terrible must have happened, and therefore, Aragorn was most likely not in the best condition.

"As far as I can tell, he has a high fever, and there is nice bruise on his jaw. Come, help me get him down," Elladan said trying to keep his voice steady. He was almost relieved to find that the man was not in as bad of shape as he originally perceived. With Elrohir's help, the man was easily removed from his horse and gently carried into the security of the Last Homely House. As hurriedly as he could, Elladan took Aragorn into the man's room, and laid him on his bed.

"Go get ada," Elladan ordered as he made to remove Aragorn's boots to make sure that his brother was comfortable. Elrohir fled from the room, knowing better than to argue with his twin when he was that upset.

"Oh, Estel, what has happened now?" Elladan whispered to the empty room. As he moved to place the blanket over Aragorn's feverish body, the man groaned as his head rolled from side to side.


"El-dan," Aragorn rasped no doubt from the onset of a sore throat and dehydration. Glazed, gray eyes opened ever so slowly until finally they focused on the blue ones before him.

"Welcome back, little brother," Elladan said, smiling warmly at him. Aragorn allowed the ghost of smile to form on his lips as his eyes slowly began to close again.

"Estel, I know you feel terrible and I will let you sleep, but I need to know. Where is Legolas?" As soon as the name left his mouth, Aragorn's eyes shot open as the memories came flooding back. He sat up quickly and attempted to get off the bed. When Elladan tried to push him back down, the man only struggled harder.

"No, Legolas, he's-" Aragorn couldn't continue as a coughing fit took over his body. He sagged against the strong arms of the dark-haired elf, unable to stay upright any longer. Elladan held him to his body as he tried to calm the man. He rubbed his back soothingly hoping to ease his pain. Finally the coughing stopped and Elladan laid his brother back down on the bed, though the worry never left his eyes. Aragorn began to fall asleep again, unable to stay awake any longer. As he tried to resist the pull of peaceful slumber, he managed to mutter a few words that Elladan had to strain to hear.


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