If you have not already done so, I highly recommend you read Jael's story Not Fade Away before embarking on this tale, or you will simply not get it. You can find her work here under the pen name Jael the Scribe. I recommend ALL her works. They are exceptional!
Summary: It is rumored that in the last stage of life, elven men go through a final stage of development. For Aaron Rivers, aka Thranduil the Elvenking, the change comes as a surprise, for he has always considered such things to be a myth.
Written for Jael's birthday, set in her Not Fade Away universe and posted with her permission.
A Birthday gift for Jael
Some Things Never Change
By Nieriel Raina
Aaron Rivers stared in the mirror, not quite certain he wasn't seeing things. Tilting his chin up, he stared harder, then tilted it the other way. He rubbed his eyes and stared again. He tried running a hand over his face, but it was still there!
"What are you doing?" Felice, his wife, asked with a raised brow.
"Nothing." Aaron turned away from his wife and moved into his dressing room to prepare for the day. He was tired. That was all. He had NOT seen what he thought he had seen. It simply could not be. No… It was a myth! A foul joke of the Noldor! A cursed rumor spread by those heavy-handed, arrogant, black-hearted…
Aaron closed his eyes. If it were true, his wife would notice. She would say something. Wouldn't she? He swallowed and slowly turned around to face her, forcing a smile.
Her lovely eyes centered on his face, tracing every part of it so clearly he could almost feel her fingers… Her eyes widened as they reached his chin. Damn! Damn, damn, damn! It could NOT be true! He started to turn away, but she grabbed him and reached up to touch the golden fuzz on his chin.
"I don't know." He brushed her hand away and reached for his pants, putting them on and already plotting what he would do. He grabbed his cell phone and brushed past his blinking wife, moving into the bathroom where he shut and locked the door. Then he called the one person who could help him.
"Oh, it must be bad if you're calling me that. What is it Thran? Why are you calling me when I live just down the hall?"
"I need you to…er, bring something for me."
"And that would be?"
Aaron cleared his throat, scratched at the annoying fuzz on his face and sat on the closed toilet. "Err…"
"I— It— There's—"
"I cannot help you if you do not tell me what you need." He could hear the irritation in his old friend's voice.
"I need a razor!"
"Did you say you need a razor? What kind of razor? For cutting poster board or something? Galen have a project he's working on?"
Aaron dropped his head into one hand, resting his elbow on his knee. He held the phone to his ear with the other and just breathed for a moment. When had he started breathing so hard anyway? It wasn't the end of the world. It wasn't as if it meant he was…
"No." His voice was hoarse. Since when did he sound like that? "I need… Damn it, I need a razor. A RAZOR!"
"Galion? Did you hear me?"
"I heard you, I'm just not certain you're serious. Is this a joke?"
Oh, how he wished it were a joke. A stupid, annoying, dirty Noldor joke! He scratched at the gold fuzz again. "I'm serious. I…er… Just bring it, will you?"
"Like for shaving?"
Aaron could now hear a distinct smile in his old valet's voice. He was going to kill Galion when he showed up. With his bare hands. Maybe with the razor. "Yes, for my face!" he roared, then winced as his voice echoed in the closed room, just as someone knocked on the door.
Damn. He couldn't let her see him like this! It had been bad enough for that one brief moment. "Bring it quickly, Galion."
Wait, what was that sound coming from the phone? Was it laughter?
"Right away, my lord!" Galion's voice sounded choked.
Oh yes, he would kill Galion…right after he delivered the razor!
Felice jiggled the door knob. "Thranduil? Let me in."
"No." He snapped the phone shut. "You can't see me like this."
"My love, it is nothing to be ashamed of."
Of course it wasn't! Because he wasn't going to leave the blasted things on his face! He rubbed his hand over his chin again. Elves did NOT grow beards, no matter WHAT those ignorant Noldor said. No matter how old he got! Not that he was old. No, compared to some of his people, he was still… well, middle-aged, he supposed. And none of them had beards!
Did they shave? That had to be it! Or was it only certain races that got these blasted itchy hairs on their face? Was it a Sindar curse?
"Open the door."
He folded his arms across his bare chest and glared at the door as he would have once done from his throne. He glanced down at the toilet and then shot up to pace around the room. He couldn't let her see him like this. She would be repulsed! She'd hate it! She'd always commented on how handsome he was…and now? He gulped and scratched and paced and fumed.
WHISKERS! Of all the things the Noldor had to be right about, why did it have to be whiskers? Why, he would NOT look just like those scruffy humans! He sank back down on the toilet and whimpered.
He could hear Felice talking with someone on the other side of the door. Leif? No, surely she would not…
The door swung open. His wife and son stood in the doorway staring at him. "Well, that's just not a sight I wanted to see," Leif said with a look of disgust.
Thranduil shot back up from the toilet and turned his back on his family. Even his son found the things repulsive! "Go away." How dare his only son say such a thing! To comment on the — the cursed hair growing from his face.
"I meant seeing you sitting on the toilet. The beard is quite flattering."
His shoulders straightened slightly as he heard his son walking away. Then she was there, her arms slipping around his waist, her hands rubbing comfortingly over his chest.
"Thranduil," she whispered, coming around him and looking up into his face.
He tried to look away, but she cupped his cheek and forced him to meet her eyes. "It is quite flattering. In fact…" Her tongue brushed over her upper lip and her fingers slid seductively around his neck. "I think it's very sexy."
Sexy? Whiskers? He stared at her in disbelief.
"Oh yes, sexy." She reached up and kissed him, her fingers toying with the fuzz on his chin.
Well, then. Perhaps it wasn't so bad. Her fingers drifted down his bare chest as parts of him roused. Been a while since she had done that! He wrapped his arms around her, drawing her closer…
"I got it!"
Aaron spun around and glared at Galion who stood huffing in the doorway holding an electric razor like he'd won a prize at the fair.
Aaron eyed it a moment, then glanced back at Felice. She lifted a brow, her tongue slowly caressing her lower lip. "Never mind," he said, eyes narrowed on the razor. "I don't need it after all." He gave the door a solid shove, and turned back to his wife. "Are you sure it's sexy?"
She smiled. "Oh yes…"
Aaron Rivers, president of Rivers Enterprises, did not leave his bathroom for three hours. When he finally did show up at work, it was as Randy the janitor. He wore a bright smile and a dusting of gold fuzz on his chin. "Look at that!" he showed it off to Hal with a flick of his fingers. "Sexy, eh?"
Hal just stared as Randy meandered about the lobby with a mop and bucket, whistling a lively tune. Every now and then, Randy stopped and ran a hand over the fuzz and nodded to himself.
Thank you for reading! If you have not read Jael's stories, I HIGHLY recommend them!
Author's Note: The rumor of elves growing beards in their final stages of life actually comes from Tolkien and is evident in LOTR by Cirdan having a beard. Apparently, he changed his mind in later years, but had not made the edit to Cirdan before his death. Whether elves truly do grow beards in later life or remain beardless for eternity, I leave up to you to decide. It was simply a bunny that would not leave me alone and Jael's Randy was the perfect candidate for a humor piece on it.