TITLE: "Departure" (3/?)
AUTHOR: mcee (mcee@fangy.net)
SITE: http://fangy.net/lotr
ARCHIVE: List archives, others just ask.
PAIRING: Frodo/Sam, Merry/Pippin (soon: Aragorn/Legolas)
SUMMARY: The AU continues with part 3, in which our heroes get to Bree.
THANKS: To Alex and MJ! *mwah*

Apologies for the wait. Previous chapters may be found here:

* * *

"So help me god, Meriadoc, you kick my seat one more time and I'm tossing you out through the vent holes."

Frodo saw in the rearview mirrow the face (a mere twitch of the mouth, really) Merry made at Sam, who glowered back at him before slumping down into his seat and eyeing the speeding scenery with a sulky pout. Merry calmly flipped him off and propped his elbow against the window, nudging Sam's seat forcefully with his knee. Next to him, Pippin snored, coiled onto himself and looking deceptively angelic with his open mouth and the thin gold lashes fanned evenly on his pink cheeks.

Wondering if this was what cabin fever felt like, Frodo tightened his grip on the steering wheel. He watched with barely contained glee as the bright 'Downtown Bree: next 8 exits' sign zoomed by. "Almost there, boys..."

Merry squinted up at the metropolis' skyline reflecting off his glasses and sparkling against the grey midday sky. "Huh. Bree. Hey Pip." He blindly smacked the sleeping boy next to him, who snapped awake with a snort.

"Huh? What!"

"Lookit. Bree."

It had been a while since they had been to the city. Aside from Merry (and, by default, Pippin), who had more than a passing knowledge of the Shire's club circuit, the Hobbiton people were generally happy holing up in their quirky little suburb, without much care for the metropolitan chunk of lights and metal and cement glittering alluringly North-East of them. As this particular carfull zoomed down the widening highway, the city enveloped them quickly, almost sucking them in, drawing them into its very heart through its throbbing arteries. Traffic changed from lazy speed to reckless hurry, and the cars seemed flashier, angrier, more colourful, even though they were the same cars that had sluggishly strolled down the highway along with them.

Even in the daylight it seemed as though they were entering a different world, one bigger, harsher, ahead of its time, delightfully anonymous. Things passed them by without even sparing a glance their way; buildings loomed over their heads, lights blinded indiscriminately. It was a bit brash, too, a bit vulgar, a bit risqué. The big ol' town, the city, the metropolis, and all roads led to it.

Merry licked his lips distractedly and was jostled closer to the mud-splattered window by Pippin, who suddenly felt very much awake. Patterns of lights and shadows skipped over their faces and they looked up up up as the Mustang rolled to a quiet stop at a red light.

Sam cleared his throat to break the heavy silence that had befallen the four. "So. Bree. What now."

Frodo reached down to feel the circular bump of the ring in his jeans pocket. "Merry, where's the Prancing Pony again?"

"58th and Wellesley. Follow York till you hit 59th--it's a one-way down and Wellesley always has construction."

"Right." Frodo rolled down his window, letting in air laced with the bracing smell of exhaust, and signaled out of the turning lane.

Sam turned around and looked at Pippin, who was still stretched across Merry's lap to look out the window, this time at the passing pedestrians (his side didn't have pedestrians). "Think you can get in the Pony, Pip?"

Pippin shot Sam an impatient look. "Of course I can get in."

"His ID's pretty good," Merry provided distractedly, not moving a muscle to dislodge Pippin.

Sam narrowed his eyes and held out a hand. "Let's see it."

Merry yanked a beaten wallet from Pippin's back pocket (conveniently at eye-level) and produced the card, which he flipped into Sam's hand. Sam brought it to his face, turning it around between his fingers. A tiny picture of Pippin stared back at him sternly, looking, by some miracle, a good ten years older. Large grey letters in the background spelled 'LORIEN'. Over it, smaller black print detailed a street address in the swanky suburb, as well as Pippin's cheated specs.

Sam snorted. "You, from Lorien. Right, Pip."

"Could happen..." Pippin protested weakly.

"In what *world*."

"Shut up."

"How did you do this?"

Pippin sat back on his heels with a smug smile, an elbow resting on Merry's shoulder. "Child's play."

"Literally..." Sam muttered before getting the card snatched back from his hand with a huff.

Pippin stuffed it back into his pocket then moved to straddle Merry, thin fingers removing Merry's shades casually. "I'll have you know, Samwise Gamgee, that I'm useful for *some* things."

"I can think of a few right this second..." Merry muttered, grinning against Pippin's nuzzling face. His fingers threaded through the belt loops riding a bit too low on Pippin's hips.

Frodo glanced in the rearview mirror and made a face. "Ugh. Guys, I just got the car cleaned. Cut it out."

"It's these damn sportscars," Merry tried in between whatever his lips were doing (what, they didn't want to know). "Backseat is so small, we're practically sitting on top of each other."

Pippin rearranged himself in Merry's lap and Merry grunted against his mouth, slumping into the seat. Sam was propelled forward once again, his hand shooting out and connecting with the dashboard forcefully.

"Fucking hell--Do you MIND?"

"No no, not at all," came Pippin's slurped response.

Frodo chuckled, eyes resolutely glued on the traffic around them. Sam muttered. "I hear the sound of one zipper and you're both WALKING up York."

TBC [Part 4: The Prancing Pony and Aragorn. Ooooh.]