A Woman In Trousers

(Was: Kit's Journey)

Summary: Parties are no fun when you wake up to find yourself in a strange country, with a strange language and strange customs. Especially when you're greeted by the ugliest thing you've ever seen, and it's trying to kill you. Kit knows this, now.

Rating: T: Swearing and violence galore. Also includes cross-dressing and general gender confusion, including pansexuality and all that fun stuff (although no actual sex).

Disclaimer: Tolkien owns Middle Earth and all of the characters and places from the Lord of the Rings series and his other assorted works. I'm just borrowing them, and I promise to return them intact. For the record, this starts off in Rohan during the war of the ring, and will catch up with the books at some point, at which point Éowyn will probably become a prominent character, but I'm hoping to focus on the Rohirrim rather than the main characters.

Author's Note: This is a "girl drops into ME" fic. I hope I can surprise you with it. And while Kit is somewhat of a self-insert, her name is one I've never used before (and has nothing to do with mine save for that it can be shortened into something non-gender specific), and my characters tend to bend themselves around their names, so I'm fairly sure she'll end up becoming somewhat of her own self within a couple of chapters. I also reckon some Monstrous Regiment (Terry Pratchett) inspired scenes will turn up, but probably not for a while.

But anyway. Please enjoy. Please let me know if you enjoy it, if you hate it, if I've made a typo or a fault with canon. I don't have a beta yet, so there's only so much I can correct myself.

~Ela

Chapter One
Dreaming?

Kit woke up. It wasn't the most pleasant waking. She had expected the usual dry mouth and crooked back, but what wasn't usual after a hard night's partying was being wet and very cold. Sitting up, she groaned when her back complained. She wasn't too surprised, though, when she looked around. Sleeping outside was never particularly comfortable. But as far as she could remember there was nowhere this empty around Ash's house though.

"Very funny, guys." Kit complained as she rose, mostly to herself, since there was clearly no one around and the plain was fairly free of anything that would make a decent hiding place. A quick thought had her checking her pockets. "Okay, and you could have at least left me my wallet!" Leaving her where ever the fuck this was was all well and good, but on earth was she meant to get home without money or her cards. That was just not fun. Or even funny. No mobile either, she realised as an after thought, but since she only ever got signal in the city centre anyway, chances (not to mention sods law) was that she wouldn't have signal here either.

The only bright side to this huge pile of crap was that no one had dared to try and steal her clothes. They probably realised that that really was a step too far. She even still had her black comfortable boots on, although she was fairly sure that she hadn't been wearing them at the party last night. Still, there were more important things to be worrying about: things that she wasn't lucky enough to have. It was just as well she didn't get too bad hangovers, but her mouth was horribly dry and her tongue was swollen. All she really wanted was a glass of water. Or two or three. Preferably three.

Well, she wasn't getting anywhere just standing here. Even if she ended up further away from home, all she really needed to find was civilisation. Then she'd have to borrow a phone or something, and work out where the hell she was. And maybe then she could get home and get some well-earned sleep (not to mention as much nice cold water as her stomach could hold). Kit did wish that she had her headphones, though. Walking was boring without something pretty and loud blaring in her ears. Actually, most things were boring without something pretty and loud blaring in her ears, but walking in the middle of nowhere, where there was no road or even an obvious right of way was pretty high on the list. How on earth had the others managed to get her here? It wasn't as though she was light enough to carry – not over a long distance, anyway. There wasn't a house or a road, or anything in sight. They must have, like, been planning this for ages! What pains.

There was, though, Kit realised with a grin, a stream or something. She could hear it. Thank goodness that she didn't have her headphones after all; she would have never been able to hear the soft trickle over her usual full volume soundtrack collection.

It was harder to find than she thought it would be. Following the sound didn't seem to work: Kit clearly had no sense of direction. Eventually, she almost stumbled over it by luck. It was quite a big stream, hidden in a dip in the landscape. The water was filthy though, it had been stirred up by something, and ash and debris was flowing downstream. Her mouth was still achingly dry though, and she'd drunk from the river at home before, so there was no chance that this would be worse. Squatting at the water's edge, she scooped some up in her hands, drinking gratefully and then leaning forward so that she could drink properly from the muddy stream, quenching her thirst. Kit washed her face too, and stood up, feeling a whole lot better.

Now. There was stuff flowing downstream, which meant that there was something happening upstream. If she followed it, she would find that something, which hopefully was a something that could help her get home. See, now that was clever. The edge of the shallow stream was horribly muddy, though, and her boots had already acquired a heavy layer of mud, so she moved a little way from it where she could still follow it but didn't have to carry the whole earth around with her.

After what might have been an hour, what she thought might be some sort of village appeared on the horizon, but it was really too far away to see properly. It looked a bit weird anyway. And why were there still no roads? Something was really wrong here. As she got closer, she began to hear noises, and then, straining a bit, she heard something that sounded suspiciously like… screaming? That wasn't good. She stopped dead, chewing on her lip as she deliberated. Had it been a scream?

There was another one, a definite scream this time, but before Kit had a chance to turn tail and run for the metaphorical hills, there was the noise of something behind her. Swallowing, she turned on her heel, and then it was her turn to scream.

Chasing a young man was quite simply the ugliest thing she had ever seen. Transfixed, she seemed to forget how to move, becoming even more terrified as she noticed the swords that they were carrying. Now she knew that this had to be some sort of crazy, far too realistic dream. Or possibly a film set, although there was a complete lack of cameras.

The boy yelled at her as he approached, but Kit didn't understand a word of what he was saying. Grabbing her, he tried to push her away, towards the village, but she was far too scared to move, staring at the ugly creature (which was also horrifyingly tall up close, especially for a short arse like her). Giving an annoyed huff, the boy stopped in front of her, muttering something to himself, and looking almost as scared as she felt. He brandished his blade at the creature, trying to look braver than he was.

"What the fuck is going on?" She screamed at the boy, who just gave her a confused look, which almost lost him his life. Kit saw the blade of the creature ready to strike over his shoulder and pulled him out of the way. The pair of them fell down, the boy landing heavily on top of her, knocking the wind out of the pair of them. He had to save her next, rolling her out of the way as a heavily blade embedded itself in the earth where they had just fallen.

Swearing furiously, Kit scrambled to her feet, a yank on the back of her t-shirt from the boy helping. Looking at him, she saw her own fear reflected in his eyes, and it made her a little calmer. He didn't know what to do either. Hands shaking, she turned to the beast, the boy beside her holding his sword out in both hands. It looked a bit too big for him. Kit realised that he was younger than she had thought, 15 or 16 at the most.

Shit. And now she felt responsible for him. He was practically a kid, the same age as her middle sister. But what on earth was she meant to do? She had no weapon, and even with one, would the creature stop? She had never thought about killing something, and had never wanted to. Would she be able to kill, a living, breathing being? Even if it didn't appear to be human and had a face not even a mother could love, it was still murder.

But then the creature lunged at her, and Kit was forced to fall back on instinct. Dodging out of the way, she was grateful she the boy got in between them, clashing blades with the beast with a loud clash of steel on steel. He blocked the blow, and then managed to free his blade to put in a stab towards the creature.

"No, no, don't!" Kit yelled, suddenly scared for the boy. She didn't want to see a death, least of all such a young man's. That would be an utter waste of life. She didn't think that she had ever acted so much like a girl, and yet here she was trying to stop this one on one fight to the death by screaming at them in a language they probably didn't understand. When she stamped her foot, they both looked at her as though she was crazy. But at least the boy took the chance, ducking to stab the creature through a gap in his leather armour. It let out a bellow, aiming a wild blow at the boy so that he had to back away, leaving his sword buried in the creature's side. It pulled the sword out, tossing it away towards the stream. As it advanced on the boy, he was forced to back up, drawing a pitifully small dagger from his belt. He looked horribly harmless with the great creature menacing down on him.

Kit now took the chance, ducking out of sight, dodging away towards the forgotten sword. Picking it up, she was shocked to find it was heavier than she expected, but at least she could hold it. The boy was signalling at her wildly. She assumed that he wanted it back, but it only served to bring the beast's attention back to her. Paling, she backed up, only to find that she had stepped back into the stream. She hadn't realised that she was so close to it. The creature grinned – or at least bared it's teeth at her – barring down on her. But her boots were good, and while her feet were soaking from the water that had flooded over the top of them, she still had enough agility and grip to jump back the three steps it took to cross the water onto the other side. The creature snarled, stepping into the water to follow her. She tried to steady her hands and the heavy sword that they held. One more step. Just one more.

She flung herself forward, pushing all of her weight into the sword. If she failed, she'd end up flat on top of it, defenceless, and then she would be in trouble, but there was no other way for her to do anything with the heavy sword.

The two of them fell backwards into the water with a splash, the pommel of the sword smacking painfully into Kit's stomach. For once she was grateful for that little beer belly of hers, as it cushioned some of the blow, although it still hurt like hell. She struggled to lift her head above the water, and then realised that the creature was still struggling weakly underneath her, its black blood staining the water around her. She shifted her weight to use it best to her own advantage, pinning the creature under the water until the struggles ceased, when she half collapsed, panting.

A hand caught the back of her t-shirt before she fell back into the water, pulling her up until the boy could quickly wrap his arms around her chest. He pulled her up and out of the water to the shore, where Kit flopped down. Looking across at the boy as he pulled his sword out of the creature, she pale again, bile rising in her threat as she realised what she'd done. Turning away, she hurled the contents of her stomach out onto the ground. She shivered, feeling the struggles of the creature under her body again, even though she knew that it was gone.

A noise made her look back up and she realised that the boy was looking down on her, talking, although what he was saying didn't appear to be in English. He sounded a little panicked, and his eyes were on the village. She looked down again, quickly gathering her strength and then rose.

"Look, darling, I'm sorry but I can't understand you." Kit mumbled, resisting the urge to try and explain herself with her hands. That was patronising tourist stuff and she could do better than that.

He frowned at her, tilting his head in confusion. He looked cute like that, Kit thought, suddenly. Like a lost puppy. He didn't bother trying to explain himself though, just giving a shrug and indicating that she should follow.

He jogged off, and Kit felt an eyebrow rise. He was a bit panicked. But when he turned around, beckoning her again, she shrugged as well, and padded after him, her wet boots and clothes weighing her down. They were headed towards the village and Kit finally realised that she could smell smoke. The boy sped up and Kit found herself really struggling to keep up. It was just as well the village was closer than she had thought. The houses weren't as tall as she had expected, and they were all "olde worlde", wooden and thatched. Which meant they were burning particularly well.

Kit had stopped and she started when the boy caught hold of her, dragging her forward for a few steps. She pulled herself together and ran after him. People, mostly women and children, were running around in panic and confusion. Some of them were tying to put out the flames, but most of them seemed to be more concerned about gathering belongings, as though they'd already given up on their homes. Dodging the panic, she kept her eyes on the boy, who led her to the other side of the village, where there seemed to be a full fledged battle going on, between villagers and creatures like the one that she had killed at the river side. It was small, admittedly, but to Kit it seemed the most horrifying thing she'd seen in her life.

Bile rose in her throat again, and she swallowed it back. The boy thrust a short sword into her hands, and she immediately dropped it in shock. He expected her to fight? But she was just a girl! And obviously unfit, too. Another one of those creatures ran towards her, and Kit felt the fear gather in her bowels this time. It wanted to kill her. She some how managed to hold herself back from pissing herself and dropped to the ground, tripping the creature and grabbing the sword that she'd dropped at the same time. Heavy booted feet kicked her already bruised stomach as the creature ran into it, falling over her. She forced herself to rise; tipping the creature forward again, and then quickly leaned over it to embed the sword through the back of its neck. Adrenaline suddenly took over, quelling her fear and the pain for the moment, and moving her automatically. Yanking the sword back, she screamed and threw herself into the battle with a bloodlust that probably wouldn't have surprised anyone who had seen her as a child.

Kit wasn't really all that good with the sword: drama had taught her to hit her opponent's blade rather than the other person. But she found it was fairly easy to hit the ugly beasts in the back while they were distracted with the villagers, and that way she was kept mostly out of the way of their wicked looking blades. Plus, apparently short fat girls in jeans and DMs were invisible. It was probably the whole "you see what you want to see, rather than what's there" thing. That, or people were just too distracted to pay attention, even though she seemed to be the only girl fighting. But really, whatever. While they weren't paying attention to her, they weren't trying to kill her, and that was probably saving her. And she really would like to stay in one piece – that way when she got home she could kill the others.

There was another young man on the ground at her feet. She almost tripped over him, and it woke her from her trance like state. "Oh. Shit." She swore vaguely, trying to catch her balance, half stepping over him. There was one of the creatures trying to get at him, and it glared at Kit as she got in between it and its prey. Realising that this wasn't the best of situations, she tried to reason the best way out, stabbing randomly at the creature from her unsafe position over the man to keep it from attacking her first. It was enough to force the creature to step back, Kit quickly stepping over the man so that she could balance herself better. Feeling, rather than hearing, him rise, she was relieved to feel his back brush against hers. It allowed her to focus on this beast in front of her rather than having to worry about what was sneaking up behind her. Blocking a sword strike away from her face, she swore again, the pain from the strength of the strike flaring up her already aching arms.

"Ah, I think I might be a bit tired." She told the surprised creature calmly, pushing herself up off the ground in a pounce that allowed her to stab the sword into its neck. Black blood sprayed her face as she fell back, and she choked on it. Her strength finally left her then, and she fell down to her knees panting. The stench of the blood on her face made her retch, and she puked again, emptying what little else she had in her stomach onto the ruined ground, and then collapsing beside it. Her vision darkened a bit as the man that she had saved stood over her. That was sweet of him.

Kit slipped in and out of consciousness, but the battle had been half finished when she and the first boy had arrived, and there were few of the ugly creatures left, although many of the villagers had also fallen. The noise of battle trailed off, but was replaced with the keen wailing of the injured and those who had lost loved ones. The man stepped back and crouched down beside her. He spoke, but again she had no idea what it was that he was saying. Looking at him, she tried to push herself up. He reached out to catch her, supporting her.

"I'm way too bloody tired for this." She mumbled. She clearly wasn't in England any more. Which explained their weird clothes and houses, although what the hell the ugly creatures that had been attacking where, she had no idea. "Look, I'm lost. Is there someone here who speaks English? Enggggglishhhh." She drew out the word slowly, trying to make it as obvious as possible. "Like tea and crumpets, although I guess I could cope with Americans and their lack of u's as long as they know how to get me home." She was rambling, too exhausted to stop herself, even though she was clearly confusing the young man.

"Eng-lish?" He repeated, pointing at her.

"Yes, that's right. English."

He pointed at himself and smiled at her. "Algar. Allllgaaar."

Okay, so the drawn out thing was irritating. She must remember to try not to do that too. But what was more important was that Algar was a name. She knew it. It was like… a composer or something. She hadn't listened to Classical FM for a while, but it was definitely familiar. And definitely not a language. Shaking her head, she sat herself up properly, facing him. "No, no! I'm Kit. English is the language." She explained, and then realised that he wouldn't be able to understand. Pointing at herself, she said, "Kit. I'm Kit." She pointed at him next. "Like you're Algar, I'm Kit. Oh, and English is my language. My words." She indicated with her hands at her mouth, trying to get the idea of words across to him. It took a little while, before he began to understand, and gave her a name in return that she certainly hadn't heard of. Kit sighed, scrunching her shoulders up. "This is going to be tough."

Algar stood up, and then leaned forward to pick up her sword. Cleaning it on one of the dead creatures, he handed it back to her, and then with a smile helped her up. She brushed herself off, trying to hide a slight stagger, and then managed to totter after him as he left the battlefield.

The villagers had gathered away from the half burnt out village and were arguing g heatedly. Algar was greeted by a sot covered woman who threw her arms around him joyfully, and the boy from the stream, who waved at Kit, greeting her with something she didn't understand.

"Oh. Hello again. I'm glad you're okay." There was blood on him, but he was clearly more or less okay, because he didn't look too battered. Smiling at her, perhaps understanding her tone, he offered her a flask, which she sniffed at, before taking a drink. It was water, clean and cool, and she gulped some down, and then looked over at Algar. The younger boy nodded, and indicated him, so Kit passed the flask onto him, who drank from it gratefully. He passed it back to the boy, and then started to talk to the older woman animatedly. Kit heard her name, but then zoned out of the excited talk, even when the other boy joined in, looking at the villagers around her. They were tired looking, and many were injured. They were mostly blonde or red headed though, which surprised Kit. Her own mousy blonde hair was one of the darker shades in the group. Perhaps they were somewhere Scandinavian.

A prod in her arm brought her attention back to Algar. He indicated the woman to her, and then spoke in his language. Kit thought she caught a name, and so repeated it cautiously. "Mae?" She asked, pointing at the woman, who nodded. Kit smiled, and offered her hand to shake. "It's nice to meet you. I assume you're Algar's mother?" There was a general look of confusion, and Kit laughed a little, having had forgotten about the language barrier. She reached out, gently taking the woman's hand and shaking it to show her the greeting. "It's nice to meet you, Mae."

The woman frowned, and but allowed the strange movement, saying something that sounded like a greeting in her own language, which Kit tried to catch but had difficulty following the complex new language.

The boy was introduced next, and looking at him, Kit assumed that he was Algar's brother. They had the same straw-coloured blonde hair as their mother too, and bright brown eyes, plus a cute little dimple in their chins. He was introduced as Leax, a name that Kit found a little hard to copy the first time, but he offered his hand to shake without hesitation. He greeted her again, and this time she tried to copy it, causing a laugh from the three. Kit frowned, but Algar patiently corrected her, letting her copy him until she got it right, and then grinning brightly at her. Kit couldn't help but smile back, feeling that she had finally achieved something.