Backstabbing – But Not Really

By Talking Hawk

Author's Note: This story takes place a year or two before Bilbo's eleventy- first birthday. Just keep that in mind.

Frodo smiled pleasantly at himself in the mirror as he finished straightening out one of his best vests. He grinned, and put the finishing touches on his brown mess of curls. At this moment, Sam walked in the front door.

Sam had dirt on his cheeks. He had just finished doing some yard work. "I just finished planting those bulbs you liked," the gardener said, then he took a look at his friend. He grinned. "Going out tonight?"

"Oh, yes," Frodo said, glancing excitedly at his friend. "My date is quite a beauty, and she seems nice too. I hope it works out." Frodo took one last glance at the mirror, then turned to Sam. "Sam, what do you think?" "You're asking me?" Sam laughed, who only wore as good an outfit as that during relative's funerals.

"Why, yes!" Frodo cried with a smile. "You're going to be my best man." "Don't start planning the wedding before the first date," Sam warned playfully. The latter's face softened, and asked, "How pretty is she?" "She's not pretty, she's beautiful," Frodo corrected with a grin. Sam then thought of Rosie, who he had now had a crush on for a week. He imagined her smiling shyly at him as he handed her his most prized flower in his garden.

"Sam?" Frodo asked, a little nervous at his friend's goofy, distant face. Maybe he was coming down with something. Sam's eyes blinked, then returned to normal. "Mmm? Oh, I was just thinking." The brown-haired hobbit grinned and said, "Okay, just checking."

Frodo moved past his friend and grabbed his coat off a hook. "So, do I know her?" Frodo nodded and said, "I think so. She works at the pub we go to." Sam raised his eyebrow suspiciously. "Oh? What's her name?"

The Baggins threw on his coat, and straightened it out before opening the door. "Rosie Cotton," he said over his shoulder, then shut the door quietly behind him.

Sam's body went rigid, his eyes wide with horror. His environment turned a dark sort of blue, as if a giant standing above the hobbit hole had started crying upon it. After a moment of shock, he ran forward and slammed open the door.

"FRODO!" he cried out to the skipping hobbit. Frodo spun around, looking around for a second before his eyes averted to his friend. "Yes? Is there something wrong?" Sam ran down the steps of Frodo's front yard, jumped over the gate, and trotted up to his friend. "You can't go out with Rosie!" he shouted as he came face-to-face with Frodo.

"Why?" Frodo inquired innocently, raising an eyebrow. "Because…" Sam said hesitantly, ashamed, "she has a disease?" Frodo's other eyebrow rose. "What KIND of disease?" "The kind," Sam said nervously, "that is spread by kissing!" Frodo laughed, and said, "I hardly think we are going to kiss on the first date." He turned around and started walking towards the pub when Sam grabbed his hand.

"I can't let you do this!" Sam cried out, pleading with his eyes. Frodo turned back to him, and after looking in those sad, scared eyes, the hobbit frowned. "All right, I'll cancel my date if it'll make you feel better…"

Sam felt like leaping for joy and crawling under a rock for despising himself all at the same time. The hobbit had never felt such opposing emotions at the same time before. "Thanks…" was all he was able to muster. Frodo smiled sadly and put a hand on his friend's shoulder. "I need to go do some things in town. I'll see you tomorrow, all right?" After hesitating, Sam nodded, and his friend disappeared down the darkening road. Now he wasn't happy anymore, just self-loathing.

* * *

It had been a long time since Sam had come to the pub by himself. Frodo and Sam often went there together to have a good time or to celebrate some feat in their lives or in the community. The only times that Sam came by himself when he had wronged Frodo in some way, and felt like having a pity-party over it.

He got his ale, and took a seat in the far corner of the room where he usually sat on his pub trips without Frodo. The corner was shrouded in shadow so that no one would be able to recognize him from a distance. He looked around, and noticed that Rosie wasn't there yet. Frodo usually met his dates at the pub for a small drink before going out and doing something else, like dancing.

"For all I know," Sam muttered to himself, "I could've just separated two soul mates." Frodo and Rosie both loved dancing, at were admittingly quite good at it. The hobbit gulped down half his ale in sorrow. "Oh, I'm sorry, Mr. Frodo…" he said to himself, his eyes brimming with tears out of regret. Or maybe it was the beer.

Just at that moment, Rosie entered the pub, and smiled at the bartender, who was probably her friend. Her hair was up in a lovely hairdo, and she wore a beautiful blue dress, a pearly white blouse, and a blue shawl. Sam put his chin on his hand, looking dreamily at the beautiful hobbit woman. A moment later, after Rosie had taken a seat at the counter, Frodo walked in.

Sam's eyes widened with surprise, and after a moment, loathing. 'The traitor!' Sam thought privately. 'He said he was going out to run a few errands!' The hobbit's eyes burnt with anger. He could see the two talking to one another, but their conversation was inaudible to his ears. So, not being able to hear what his ex-best friend was saying, he merely glared at his smiling face.

* * *

"Hello, Rosie," Frodo greeted her with a smile. Rosie smiled and flipped her hair over her shoulder. Half her hair was up in a sort of bun, while the rest fell over her shoulders. "Where were you?"

"Well, um," Frodo stuttered as he took a seat next to the other hobbit. "I was talking to a friend." "Oh?" Rosie asked, cupping her chin in her hand, grinning at her date. Frodo coughed and said, "Yes. I don't want to waste your time, so I'll get straight to the point. My friend told me that you have…a disease." The hobbit bit his lip nervously, worried that he was going to embarrass his date. To his surprise, she started laughing.

"I don't have a disease!" she said when she was finished. "You don't?" Frodo asked, quite surprised. "No," she responded, shaking her head. "Oh." Frodo looked down at his hands on the counter a moment, then turned back to the other hobbit. "Rosie, I'm sorry, but I don't think we should go out again." "Why?" Rosie pouted. "Because I have a fake disease?"

"No, no," Frodo said, trying to bring her down gently. "You see, if my friend made that up just to stop me from going on a date with you, there must be a good reason for it. I really was looking forward to dating you, but no matter what they are, I'm going to respect my friend's wishes. I hope you can understand that."

Rosie sighed and nodded slowly, avoiding Frodo's eyes. "Yes, I suppose." Frodo smiled sadly and said, "But I would be willing to buy you a drink for taking the trouble to come out tonight." Rosie smiled understandingly, and nodded. "Here's the money. Would you mind ordering our drinks while I use the John?" His date complied, and accepted the money. As Frodo went into the restroom, the hobbit from the corner followed him in.

* * *

"Sam, what on earth are you doing here?" Frodo cried out, startled. Sam glared at the other hobbit. "You said you were going into town to run a few ERRANDS!" Sam shouted. "You were FOLLOWING me?!" Frodo screamed. "How could you?"

Sam gasped, offended. "No, I didn't follow you! I came here to buy myself a drink. What are YOU doing here?" Frodo glared back at Sam. "I came here to cancel my date, rather than letting Rosie sit here all by herself, wondering why I wasn't here. What was I supposed to do?" Sam sighed angrily, and said, "Well, I don't know! You could've told me you were coming here."

Frodo sighed in exasperation. "Besides, what do you have against me dating Rosie? Do you not like her or something." Sam shook his head violently. "I don't not like her…" he whispered, looking at his feet. "Then what is it?" Frodo asked, pleadingly.

"…I told you that she had a disease so you wouldn't go out with her," Sam confessed, shrinking back. Frodo put his hands on his hips and said, "Well, I already guessed that." "Well, that's not the end of it," Sam said, indicating that Frodo should be quiet and listen before saying any more. Frodo complied and Sam continued, "I…I like her, a lot. I've liked her for a week."

Frodo's eyes widened, and he threw up his arms into the air. "Then why didn't you just tell me?" he cried out. "Well, I didn't know you were going to go and date her!" Sam shouted defensively. He paused then looked down at the floor and said shamefully, "I'm sorry for lying to you… It was a cowardly and rotten thing to do, and I'll understand if you never want to by my friend again." He squeezed shut his eyes, and waited for Frodo to yell, "I hate you, Samwise Gamgee!"

It was quiet. After a moment, Sam peeked open his eyes, and looked at Frodo. Tears were rolling over his cheeks, and he whispered, "How could I not want to be your friend?" Sam raised his eyebrows, and Frodo hugged him. They stood silently for a moment in the embrace, then parted. Frodo wiped away his tears quickly, slightly embarrassed by his show of emotion.

"So," Frodo said, finished with erasing the streams of tears down his face, "what are we going to do?" The hobbit smiled and suggested, "How about you go out there and talk to her?" Sam shook his head dramatically, fear in his eyes. "No, not that!" After a moment, Sam sighed and asked, "What ELSE can we do?" Frodo rubbed his chin thoughtfully for a moment, then uttered, "I think I have an idea…"

* * *

"Where's a doctor?!" Sam cried out from the men's bathroom. He came out, carrying a fainted Frodo in his arms. He ran up to the bartender and cried out, "Tell me where a doctor is!"

A hobbit stood up from one of the tables and walked over. "I'm a doctor," he said. Sam blinked at the man in surprise, having not contemplated what to do if there was an actual doctor there. "Um…you won't do!" he cried out. "Why?" the doctor asked, flabbergasted. "You're the wrong kind of doctor!" "But you don't know what kind of doctor I am," the doctor countered.

Sam sighed, and turned back to the bartender. "Could you tell me where a DIFFERENT doctor is, please?" The bartender blinked in surprise, and pointed towards the door. "Fifth house to your right." "Thank you," Sam said, nodding his head in gratitude. With that, he carried Frodo out the door.

As Sam ran away from the pub down the dark street, he whispered breathlessly to Frodo, "Thanks." Frodo awoke from his faint, and grinned. "What are friends for?" And so they ran down the road, a lovesick gardener carrying his grinning best friend.