Notes: Bilbo Baggins and Smaug belong to J.R.R. Tolkien. OFUM belongs to the esteemed Miss Cam, and this cameo by OFUM!Bilbo and Smaug is being written with her permission.
It was, all in all, a very quiet Tuesday night at Angelo's. Lestrade had sent around a notification, which consisted of a giant flashy neon sign held up by a quivering Matt Chorell, who had apparently gotten on Mycroft's bad side after the tea party in Canon 101 (whispers had gone around about him claiming to steal Mycroft's role at the end of the Hounds of Baskerville), and was now being prodded along by a horde of mini-Hounds down the streets of London as he waved the notification for all to see.
It read, rather simply:
REPORT TO THE MORRIS LECTURE THEATRE TOMORROW MORNING FOR A CROSSOVER SEMINAR. STUDENTS WHO FAIL TO SHOW UP WILL BE SENT TO BASKERVILLE TO TEST OUT A NEW BATCH OF H.O.U.N.D.
"A crossover seminar!" breathed Anita Granger, shivering as she tucked into her spaghetti carbonara. "Do any of you guys know what it'll be about?"
"Everything?" suggested Marilyn Le with a shrug. "I mean, what hasn't been crossed over with Sherlock already?"
"They're catching up to Harry Potter, I think," agreed Detective Inspector Bridget Holmes, rolling her eyes. "That is, barring the amount of Potterlock there is already –"
"Have you even seen the amount of Wholock that happens? We all know Moffat would make it canon if he could," sniffed Mariah Black.
Kenzie Chase sighed. "I want to see Superwholock," she remarked.
"Superwholockvengers," butted in Claire Travers.
"Superwholockvengerstuck," retorted Cale Serfe.
Rose, who had been quietly reading over the project, leaned against the cushions of her booth and sighed. After a moment she set down the papers, took another bite of pasta, and resumed.
"Must be a new record for your attention," joked Melissa as she tried to look over Rose's shoulder. The blonde fangirl scowled and pressed the project to her chest.
"Well, it's certainly none of your business," she sniffed.
"Superwholockvengerstucktalia !" exclaimed Leevee, with an extra shout of "Kesesesese!" for good measure. Cale scoffed rather loudly at that; in Rose's opinion, the girl could really be quite obnoxious. And her hoarding tendencies could put Smaug to shame.
Speaking of Smaug –
The doors to the restaurant slammed open at that moment, and Alan Cablen came running in, eyes wide, face pale.
"Aw, look at what the bats dragged in!" snickered Daniel Herman, who was feeling more like Danielle at the moment.
"If you make a vampire pun on 'cat got your tongue', I will stake you," snapped Alan, pointing a finger at him. "I just ran into a dragon, and you sit here mocking my pain!"
"A dragon?!" demanded half the occupants of the restaurant.
"Yes, a red-gold dragon with a nasty disposition and Benedict Cumberbatch's voice!"
And then as one, the fangirls screamed.
"News of your arrivals has reached the fanstudents," Sherlock Holmes remarked drily. Across from him, Bilbo Baggins raised an eyebrow as he sank deeper and deeper into John's squishy red armchair. Through the window, a very draconian eye peered into the room.
"I think I can hear them screaming 'Cumbersmaug' from here," Smaug the Dragon remarked with an angry huff of smoke. "I am a dragon! A fire-breathing monster! You can tell your Cumberbatch fellow to stop being so…"
"Inherently sexy, as Stephen Colbert puts it?" suggested John Watson from behind Sherlock, stifling a snigger with a loud spate of coughing.
"Exactly," snarled the dragon. "Have you seen the fanbrats at OFUM? The new ones are just a bunch of squealing little Dwarf-glomping pigs. I'd have set them all on fire, but Miss Cam said that would be counterproductive."
"Piles of ash really don't learn very well," grumbled Bilbo.
"It would have taught them a lesson," hissed Smaug, glaring at Bilbo with his eye in a way eerily reminiscent of another Middle-earthian antagonist. "Dragons are not playthings, or joyrides, or –" he cut off suddenly, growling deep in his throat, "sex toys."
"I get the feeling we're partially to blame for that," John remarked mildly.
"As John puts it so succinctly, 'we're not a couple'," added Sherlock.
"Get it through their brains that a dragon like myself has better things to do than sleep with hobbits. I've never even met a hobbit until Bilbo; how the hell am I supposed to be sexually attracted to one?"
"Well, it's a good thing you aren't," Bilbo added, going rather pink in the face. "I doubt any respectable hobbit would dare to live with you! Far too much adventure for their digestions, you know."
"I could do with six hearty meals a day," the dragon mused.
Bilbo scoffed. "Hearty in your case means death in the rest of Middle-earth's."
There was a louder, closer scream, and a screech of claws. Moments later, a fangirl dangled outside the window, hoisted by her ankles by Smaug.
"PUT ME DOWN! PUT ME DOWN!" she shouted, hair flying everywhere. "SOMEONE HELP!"
"Who's that?" Bilbo asked, nudging John and Sherlock. Sherlock looked up.
"Oh, that new girl that got transferred in for trying to shoot Irene Adler in her piece," he muttered.
"She's not a Sue, but she is a bona-fide fanbrat," added John. In a louder voice, he added, "Smaug, put her down."
"I'm hungry," protested the dragon.
John groaned, got up from his chair, and crossed the flat to the freezer where Sherlock had stowed an entire human leg. He took it out by the toes and lugged it to the open window, trailing water (and a bit of blood) everywhere.
"You keep body parts with your food?" demanded Bilbo, looking nauseated at the very notion.
John rolled his eyes. "Sherlock's worst habit is not delineating where he puts his things. Don't bother peeking into the good teapot; he's drowned a dormouse in there."
"You can't just toss that leg away; I'm going to use it for an experiment," Sherlock snapped.
John laughed shortly. "Right, because keeping a leg for a week in the freezer's going to make it conducive to science. Get yourself another leg, Sherlock," he growled, before whistling and dangling the leg outside the window. Smaug saw it, and scowled.
"You should heat it up first," he grumbled.
"You're a big fire-breathing dragon. You can heat up your own food," John insisted. "Drop the girl, and you can have the leg."
"But the girl has two legs; wouldn't this be a worse trade-off?"
"I'll feed you the rest of Sherlock's body parts –"
"You'll do what?!" squawked Sherlock from behind.
"I'll find you a body from the morgue, then," John amended, "but you have to promise me not to eat anything that can still run away from you."
Smaug glowered at John, but with a sigh he dropped the girl – she crashed into the pavement and took off as soon as she could, screaming in fear – and nipped the leg from John's hands, swallowing it whole.
"Right then," John said, backing away from the window to fetch his jacket. "I'll be back in no time."
"Where're you going?" Sherlock demanded.
"There and back again," snapped John, "to the hospital morgue, of course."
"It could be because of James Bond, you know," Melissa mused to Rose the next morning over breakfast; students were still placing bets on which fandoms would be involved in the crossover lecture – although it was pretty obvious that The Hobbit would be one of them.
"James Bond?" Rose echoed, frowning. "They had a Bond movie marathon, but…"
"The new Q looks like Sherlock," Melissa pointed out, "with glasses."
Rose sniggered. "Yeah, well, Bruce Banner does, too, and he's got a purple shirt as well."
"Tony Stark played Sherlock, what do you mean –"
"That's not Tony Stark; that's Robert Downey Jr."
"Same thing," snorted Melissa.
Rose paused and considered it. "Point," she conceded. "I think Regina George playing Irene Adler was funnier, though."
"Stephen Fry's the Master of Lake-Town, did you know that?" demanded Anita Granger as she dropped by their table with her mug of coffee. "Mycroft Holmes is the Master of Lake-Town!"
"Ha, no wonder Smauglock burns down Lake-Town. It's not because of the Dwarves; it's because he has a grudge against his brother!"
They laughed at that for a while, but Rose lapsed when she saw Steven Marcus waving at her from the till. She smiled at him brightly, before ducking back into the conversation.
"Seriously though," continued Anita, giggling into her coffee, "Mischa's a bit disappointed that her partner bailed out to go attend the Victorian Baker Street Fanfiction Academy; even though he's a dick, his leaving means she's now paired up with that fanbrat –"
"The one who got roomed with Jinx because her roommate moved out to a single?"
"Yeah, her. They haven't gotten along for a second, her and Jinx."
"Poor Mischa," sighed Melissa. "I heard that Dasha and Sabian are really excited about the Hobbit crossover lecture, though; they're working on something Sabian called… Ringlock, was it?"
"The hell is that?" scoffed Rose.
"Sherlock in Middle-earth?"
"Yeah, but… like, is Sherlock Frodo or something?"
"No, he's an Elf. John's a Hobbit. I heard they're going all out and changing the characters' names to Middle-earth names, too."
"What's wrong with their real names?"
"John's not an Anglo-Saxon name?"
"So it wouldn't work in Middle-earth because Tolkien focused on non-Romance languages?"
Anita frowned. "Yeah, the Dwarves all have Old Norse names, and the richer Hobbits have Frankish names, and…"
"And what kind of name is Sherlock for an elf? That sort of name probably belongs more with the Brandybucks and Tooks or something."
Rose bit her lip. "I… see what you mean?" she mumbled, shrugging. "I mean, I don't know too much about the details of Lord of the Rings, so…"
Melissa checked the clock at that moment. "Damn, we're going to be late for the lecture if we don't hurry," she snapped, leaping up from the table and taking her tray to the rubbish bin. Rose and Anita hopped up as well, grabbing their backpacks, and the three of them rushed out of Speedy's Café.
When the three girls took their seats in the lecture hall with the rest of the stragglers, several mini-Hounds glowered at them from the stage and the doorways. Anita cringed, but got out her notebook all the same.
There was a thunderous creak of machinery, and then moments later the curtains behind the lecture stage rose up to reveal Smaug the Dragon, still gnawing on what looked like the flank of a horse. The students quieted quickly.
Smaug fixed them all with a glowing golden-yellow eye, and for a moment Rose felt compelled to listen to the dragon, compelled to get up, walk to the stage, and calmly insert herself into his mouth. From the looks of everyone else in the room, they were all thinking similar things. Ellie Yelsnit had even left her seat and was leaning towards the dragon, eyes wide.
"Okay, cut it out, Smaug, no brainwashing the fanstudents to walk right into your stomach. That's not even fair," came the voice of John Watson as the ex-Army doctor stomped onto the stage, followed by Sherlock Holmes.
"Yes, that eye with that voice; what on earth were they even thinking, casting Cumberbatch as you?" sniffed the detective.
"You're basically telling me that you like to listen to the sound of your own voice," snorted Smaug, emitting a small burst of smoke. However, the compelling lure of his gaze receded somewhat, and Rose found herself relaxing into her seat.
Or as relaxed as she could get with a dragon in the room, of course.
There was a long pause, and then John left the stage to talk to someone outside the lecture hall. "You can come in, Greg, we told you Smaug's going to be on his best behaviour."
Moments later, the ex-Army doctor re-entered the lecture hall, holding the hand of one quaking Detective Inspector. Several Johnstrade fans – though they were rather few – cheered. Lestrade levelled them a nasty glare, and they subsided.
"Yes, I'm not going to eat you," snickered Smaug. "Seriously, though, why would I? You probably taste like plastic anorak." He grimaced. "Fanbrats taste better, you know."
A collective shudder ran through the students, and the new fanbrat collapsed in a dead faint.
"We're just waiting on one more person, then," said Lestrade, determinedly avoiding the dragon's amused glance. That one more person chose that moment to show up, strolling onstage with a pastry in his hand and his face smeared with blackberry jam. Some more fangirls swooned.
"Bilbo, Bilbo Baggins! He's only three feet tall! Bilbo, Bilbo Baggins – the bravest little hobbit of them all!" someone shouted in what could very distantly be passed off as song, before practically vaulting herself out of the chair and up the aisle, eyes manic and body ready to glomp –
A mini-Hound came barrelling out of nowhere, tackling the fangirl to the ground and dragging her off.
"Thank you, Jon!" Bilbo cried as the fangirl's screams receded. He wiped his mouth with a pocket handkerchief. "And just when I thought I'd seen the last of them."
"The last of them?" squeaked Wymarc Mecham.
"Introductions are in order," Sherlock snapped. "This is the special crossover seminar for Lestrade's class –"
"Beyond the Gaslight –" added Lestrade, still shaking slightly.
"And we were originally going to invite delegates from the Official Fanfiction Academy of Starfleet as well, but some time problems came up and…" John shrugged. "But we do have Bilbo Baggins and Smaug the Dragon from the Official Fanfiction University of Middle-earth here with us today, so if you could give them a round of applause, that'd –"
He was broken off by the sound of wild applause and cheering. Bilbo flushed a brilliant shade of pink. Smaug snorted, before glaring at them all again. The crowd instantly silenced.
"Yes, yes, quiet. Thank you," said John, coughing as Lestrade shuffled the cards. "Well, shall we begin?"
"Sure," replied Bilbo. "All right, now, all of you. How many of you know my story? There and Back Again: A Hobbit's Tale?"
Several hands went up. Bilbo nodded.
"Right, and what about Frodo's story, The Lord of the Rings?"
Some other hands went up as well.
"Is it from the books, or the… what did you call them?"
"Films," growled Smaug.
"Yes, films. Raise your hand if you first heard of us through the films."
A few hands went down.
"And through the books?"
Those hands went back up; everyone else put their hands down. Rose, who'd withdrawn her hand, glowered at Melissa, who had her hand raised.
"Right, thank you." Bilbo smiled cheerily. "For those of you who aren't aware, the film version of my story, which is a prequel to Frodo's, is already amongst us. My story details how I, an ordinary Hobbit of the Shire, did something uncharacteristic to most Hobbits and went on an adventure with twelve dwarves and the wizard Gandalf to reclaim gold from the fire-breathing dragon Smaug here." He pointed to Smaug, who huffed in annoyance.
"Those meddlesome dwarves," grumbled the dragon.
"You did do the draconian equivalent of some random stranger barging into someone else's home and declaring that it along with all the possessions inside now belonged to them. It's only natural for the suddenly-displaced people to want to retake it," John replied reasonably.
"Oh come on, it was their fault they paraded about all those glittery shiny things," sniffed the dragon, rearing up slightly so everyone in the hall could be temporarily blinded by stage lights reflecting off his jewelled underbelly.
"How would you like it if I suddenly decided to turf you out of your house and steal your things?" John demanded. He paused. "Wait, isn't that exactly what The Hobbit is all about? My bad."
Several students giggled weakly. Smaug glowered at John in an 'I would eat you, but then that would cause too much bureaucratic paperwork, and I can't even hold a pen to deal with that' sort of way. John smiled innocently.
"Moving on," snapped Sherlock. "Now the reason why The Hobbit is relevant to us is because the actors who play Smaug and me and Bilbo and John are the same."
"And by lesser extent, Mycroft and the Master of Lake-Town. But that's a problem for the 1895 campus," added John.
"This sudden reversal from playing best friends to theoretical enemies may have caused some of you," continued Sherlock, as John made a cough that sounded too much like 'Johnlock' for comfort (according to rumour, just the other day the ex-Army doctor had been prevented from entering his room by a sentient lock shaped like him that kept on demanding a summary of John Locke's theories of social contracts as the passcode. John had found it both annoying and amusing, and was hoping to duplicate the Johnlock to put it as an extra warden for all Staff-only areas.), "to get a little lost along the way."
"And by a little lost, we mean really, really off the track of canon lost," finished John.
"This invisible little riddler of doom has never been and will never be my flatmate, my bodyguard, my moral compass, or my best friend, and especially not my lover," growled Smaug, prodding Bilbo in the back with a claw. Bilbo turned and glared at him.
"The feeling is definitely mutual, O Smaug of the Hideous Morning-Breath," snapped the hobbit. "I could've sworn you made Sauron faint that one time you ate all of Farmer Maggot's onions for breakfast – I mean, Morgoth was definitely taunting him about it for a week or two afterwards. You should consider seeing one of those newfangled things Miss Cam calls a 'dentist' –"
"Most 'dentists' that Miss Cam referred me to refuse to deal with my teeth," replied the dragon. "The Mouth of Sauron apparently had the same problem back in the day…"
"Yes, well, at least the Mouth of Sauron doesn't threaten the 'dentist' with incinerating or eating them on the spot. You really need to work on that."
"They need to stop scheduling appointments at times when I'm hungry," scoffed Smaug, still gnawing contentedly on his horse flank. Melissa muttered something about silver blazes. Rose frowned in confusion.
"You are constantly hungry. And I'm a Hobbit, so I think I know what constant hunger looks like."
"Which brings me back to the original point of why can't I adopt the six meal schedule like the rest of you furry-footed midnight snacks," snapped Smaug, belching out a large cloud of sulphur. Several people in the front seats grimaced, and even Rose had to wrinkle her nose at the very distinct scent of rotten eggs wafting from the stage. Sherlock, John, and Lestrade all had conveniently pulled out clothespins for their noses.
"Are you two quite finished with your domestic bickering?" snapped Sherlock.
Bilbo shuffled away from the dragon, shooting him a dirty glare over his back. "Yes, why don't we move on? Can we establish first and foremost that Smaug and I don't get along? He's the antagonist, I'm the protagonist, and there is no way in all of Middle-earth that I would ever consent to having sex with a dragon."
"Or to bring him home."
"Yes, why on earth would I ever, ever bring Smaug back to Bag End with me? First off the entire premise of my story is to destroy Smaug because keeping him alive would mean countless deaths for all of Middle-earth –"
"Not to mention that my death was obviously timed by that meddling wizard Gandalf so that the dark lord Sauron wouldn't have me on hand to keep those pesky Elves and Lake-men at bay when he saw fit to expand his domain," added the dragon with a sulphurous yawn.
"Exactly," said Bilbo. "If you bother ever picking up a copy of the books, you'd know that while my nephew was trekking across the southeastern side of Middle-earth, the elf-realms of Mirkwood and Lothlórien were attacked by forces from Dol Guldur, which was Sauron's outpost in the south of Mirkwood. I think the film talks about Dol Guldur in a bit more detail than my book."
"By that time, the Dwarves that had taken my mountain –"
"It was their mountain to begin with, you encroaching lizard," snapped Bilbo.
"Yes, well, with me gone the Dwarves regained their strength there, and were therefore able to help the elves successfully assault Dol Guldur. Now imagine what would have happened if Bilbo, suddenly deciding that I was going to be his new best friend, had my life spared and brought me back to the Shire."
"You were attacking Lake-town at the time. They killed you in self-defence. If I'd spared your life, you'd have burnt down Lake-town and then flown back up to roast yourself twelve Dwarves and a foolish Hobbit. Then in that case, the wargs and goblins from the Misty Mountains would have probably overwhelmed the Mirkwood elves when they came tramping around for blood, and you'd probably let them live nearby because evil attracts evil, and then all of that corner of Middle-earth would've been already within Sauron's grasp when he made his second grab for power."
Rose was feeling very, very lost at all of this, although some of her peers – Melissa, for one – seemed more horrified than confused.
"In brief, though," Bilbo continued, addressing the room at large, "Frodo would have died very quickly if I'd kept Smaug alive, I probably wouldn't have survived to bring the Ring back to the Shire, and then the entire plot of Lord of the Rings would've been rendered moot. Not a fun prospect."
"I am a fire-breathing entity of evil," snapped Smaug. "I'm not Sherlock with extra scales. There's a disconnect between the two of us that has to be recognised, because even though we're both misanthropic geniuses –"
"If you were a genius, you'd cover up that bare patch," said Bilbo sotto voce.
"Because even though we have similarities, our biggest difference is that Sherlock is good, and I am bad," finished the dragon. "If you need a hands-on demonstration, feel free to walk into my mouth."
"Not funny," snapped Lestrade, although he still looked pale as a bleached sheet.
Smaug chuckled darkly. "Going back to the lovers bit – take a look at Bilbo. Now take a look at me."
There was a pause, before Bilbo piped up again. "Pairing off a hobbit with an elf or a human is already bad enough with the height and the breeding equipment, but a hobbit and a dragon? Are you serious?"
"We should also clear up the misconception that we fire-drakes are even remotely humanoid. Wrong. No. We are more like winged serpents than anything else. We cannot shapeshift into something humanoid, either. So if your Smauglock looks human, you're doing it wrong."
"Admittedly it's fine to have Sherlock as a dragon-like character in an Alternate Universe – but not when it's set in Middle-earth," amended John. "If you want to use Middle-earth, you play by Middle-earth's rules."
"That includes breeding equipment. Dragons are like lizards and snakes. Last time I checked, I don't have mammalian genitalia. I would probably be concerned if I did." Smaug rolled his eyes and puffed a smoke-cloud of amusement. Bilbo cringed.
"Please, spare us that mental image," grumbled the hobbit as he continued. "Now, to hobbits. Admittedly, John and I have a lot in common – we're both good shots, for one, and we like our creature comforts, and we're loyal to our friends."
"We're what you term…" John frowned. "The extraordinary everyman, wasn't it?"
"Yes, the ordinary fellow who has much more to him than what meets the eye. It's therefore not that hard to blur the lines there, and it's much more reasonable than conflating Smaug with Sherlock."
"Seriously though," said Lestrade, finally finding a moment when his voice was steady enough to speak, "this seminar's not meant to dissuade you from crossing us over with the Tolkienverse. It's just to point out the parts of canon that might come into conflict, and to remind you that you have to play by two sets of rules."
"It's not fair to Middle-earth if you trample over their canon in favour of setting us up as a hobbit-dragon couple," agreed John. "It's disrespectful to all the work Tolkien put into his world."
"It can be done, and it can be done well," agreed Bilbo. "But to do it well you'd have to respect all of us."
"Speaking of respect –" began Smaug, but Bilbo cut him off.
"No, Smaug, we agreed not to feed you until after the class," he snapped.
Smaug twiddled idly with the bones of his horse flank. "That was a foolish agreement. Who made it?"
"You and I," replied the hobbit, crossing his arms.
The dragon growled, and set the horse bones aflame.
"Well. That was interesting," remarked Sherlock long after the seminar was over, and Bilbo and Smaug had returned to OFUM (Bilbo had to bribe the dragon with more treats in the form of sheep and OFUM fangirls).
"Interesting doesn't even begin to cover the bloody huge dragon we had to live with for a night," growled John. "Or the extra food that Bilbo ate up. How can such a small thing have such a bottomless pit for a stomach?"
"I have no clue," Sherlock replied, lounging upside-down on the couch with his legs dangling in the air.
"Bilbo said you were unnatural for not eating," continued John as he shuffled through the case notes.
"He's a simpleton who's a slave to his own metabolism," retorted Sherlock.
"He's also a cunning riddler and apparently one of the few people at OFUM who can convince Smaug not to eat so much. Poor dragon's not taking resurrection very well."
"That was rather obvious," sniffed Sherlock, "judging by him comfort eating every other minute. I think we'll have to keep the air fresheners at 221B for the rest of the semester – the stench of that dragon's breath was worse than that one time I kept rotten eggs for an experiment –"
"Oh yeah, we had to fumigate the entire flat because of that," groaned John.
"That reminds me: what exactly does OFUM do with the excess dragon dung that must be piling up as a result of Smaug letting himself go?" Sherlock asked, frowning as he steepled his fingers.
"I'd rather not know, actually," John replied, burying his nose into the case files. "Did you see the casebook?"
"Felt it, more like. New canonical details, slight tremor. Nothing too serious, I suppose, except for a definite age for myself, Mycroft, and Moriarty."
"And you need to get better taste in women's magazines."
"Knitting Weekly contains all the wisdom of the universe, John; you wouldn't understand," sniffed the detective as he closed his eyes. "Have we managed to find Miss Dawson yet?"
"No; has she contacted you since the last call?"
Sherlock shook his head. "Time's running out. We're springing the trap on Saturday."
"I can't believe you've roped students into doing it," growled John. "What if one of them gets hurt?"
"Are you saying that you seriously care about that?" scoffed Sherlock. "They're fanbrats. They'd do anything for us."
"That's an abuse of power," snarled John.
Sherlock snorted. "Yes, and making them outrun taxi cabs along Baker Street on Tuesday morning isn't?"
"So is this," replied Sherlock, shrugging.
"I don't see what's so educational about throwing students into the face of dang –" John began, but Sherlock's mobile rang at that moment. Still dangling upside-down from the sofa, the detective pulled out his mobile from his trouser pocket and answered it.
"Sherlock Holmes." There was a pause. "Yes. I see. I'll be there in a bit."
"What?" John asked as Sherlock hung up.
"Lestrade called. Said that Stapleton discovered a girl lying unconscious in a deserted lab area at Baskerville."
Sherlock chuckled. "The girl's name is Ava Dawson."