A/N: Before you read this, I'd like to explain what it is. It started out as a short little drabble, but it got longer and longer, and now it's almost a short story (it will be four chapters altogether). As you might guess, it's very angst-y. It's also semi-stream-of-consciousness, present tense, and it switches between Legolas, Aragorn, and Gimli, but it's all third person. I'm also assuming a Legolas/Aragorn friendship and pain-filled past - you know the type of story I'm referencing (I love them but haven't yet managed to write one of my own). Hope you like it! And please review, even if you didn't.

Disclaimer: I own neither the Lord of the Rings nor the Awakening.


Waves Like the Sea

"The voice of the sea is seductive; never ceasing, whispering, clamoring, murmuring, inviting the soul to wander for a spell in abysses of solitude, to lose itself in mazes of inward contemplation. The voice of the sea speaks to the soul. The touch of the sea is sensuous, enfolding the body in its soft, close embrace."

-The Awakening by Kate Chopin

Chapter One

"You're mine now, Elf," the man hisses, his breath hot against Legolas' ear. The man is uncomfortably close; he has a firm grip on Legolas' hands, bound together behind his back. The tips of his boots touch Legolas' heels, and the man's chest brushes almost imperceptibly against the Elf's back as the man whispers in his ear.

"I belong to no one, least of all you," Legolas says calmly – it always irritates them more when he is calm. He does not know why he persists in antagonizing them – by now he should have learned, but it has become a game almost – the glares, the calm looks, the biting words, those are his weapons – and if it is a game it is a little more bearable, it gives him something to think about, to dwell on, something other than what will happen to him this time.

"You belong to me, Elf," the man says harshly. Flecks of spittle hit Legolas' cheek; he wrinkles his nose in distaste. "And I paid a pretty penny for you, too."

Indeed he did – it is not funny now, but it will be funny later; he will laugh about it later, Legolas tells himself: He and Gimli, captured together on the outskirts of Mordor and taken here, to Harad, with other unfortunate wanderers, fetched very different prices, Legolas' markedly higher. One day this will be funny, he tells himself.

It is not funny now. Legolas cannot think - does not want to think - why this man paid such a high price for him. He does not know the man's name or his profession. He was simply bought and taken through the streets of this town – he does not know its name either – to a giant building on the outskirts of the city, a huge sprawling thing complete with dense gardens and a dank, dark cellar where he is currently being held. The structure has an air of something dark and illicit; he does not particularly want to find out what happens here.

"You cannot buy me with money any more than you can buy yourself a respectable name," Legolas says. Unless he has missed the mark, this man is new money – he has the look: the overconfidence, the gaudy clothes. It is all part of the game – Legolas is observant, knows just what to say to cause the most effect.

He has not missed the mark. The man shoves him forward, causing Legolas, with his bound feet, to lose his balance and stumble to his knees. The jarring pain is mingled with a sense of satisfaction: he is winning.

"Secure him," the man snarls, and his underlings cautiously approach Legolas. He is bound hand and foot, he cannot resist much; still, he manages to trip one of them as they drag him to the wall.

Three of them hold him down as another cuts the bonds on his wrists and another two seize his arms and force them in front of him, where they are bound again. The rope is linked through a metal ring on the wall and tied securely, leaving Legolas kneeling, facing the wall, his back exposed to the room at large.

He knows this game. He has played it many times.

He hears the crack of the whip before he feels it and does his best to avoid flinching. When the blow comes it is surprising: the whip is thicker than those he has encountered before. He keeps his face carefully blank, staring at the stone wall. They cannot see his face, but it is how he plays the game.

The blows come harder and faster, cutting first his clothes and then his skin. He had forgotten what it felt like; it has been several years since he has been beaten like this, since before the War of the Ring…

It is becoming a struggle to keep his face impassive, and at the rate this is going, he knows what comes next: tears, moans, whimpers, screams, sobs – but never, never pleas. That would be losing. And always, through the pain: pride, contempt, and if his voice can be trusted, insults. If he can insult the man, the round ends in a draw; if not, if Legolas collapses, spent, sobbing against the wall, he loses. Sometimes he can make it silently to unconsciousness – then he wins – but that is difficult and this time he knows he will not be able to do it.

His back is bleeding freely now, his tunic in tatters. The whip falls again; he stays silent, but his face screws up against the pain that washes over him in waves.

Waves.

He has not been beaten since before the War, since before the sea-longing. Has he perhaps found a key, a strategy that will allow him to separate himself completely from his shameful reactions, that will allow him to keep his pride and win the game?

The whip falls again. Waves, the pain is in waves, waves like the sea. He knows it is risky, but it is worth the gamble. As the whip falls again and again, he submerges himself in the waves of pain until he is not looking at the wall, he is not kneeling on the floor, he is not there…all that he knows is the waves and the call of the sea.

He has won.