(This is actually a three-way crossover, but I was only allowed to choose two. Written for the great_tales community's "Three Fandoms Walk into a Bar" challenge!)
Title: At the Sign of the Poison Apple
Characters: Explained in the End Notes
Fandoms: Lord of the Rings, Shrek II, Once Upon a Time
Summary: There are hobbits who have adventures thrust upon them, and there are hobbits who go out looking for trouble adventure. Sometimes the latter find more than they could ever imagine.
At the Sign of The Poison Apple
Isengar Took shivered and looked up at the name of the tavern: The Poison Apple. He hoped it was not an indication of the fare served within. He was as tired as he'd ever been, and not for the first time he wished for the comfort of the Shire. A good meal, some pipeweed, and even some fond nagging and a little cosseting from his older sisters would not go amiss. The Southern Star had a bad few days lately, what with being blown off course by a storm, and while the captain and his crew were looking over the damage done to her, he'd been sent off to find out about replenishing the galley. Ship's Cook was a big responsibility, after all, and part of the appeal of serving on the Star was the reputation of the food served aboard her-far beyond the quality found aboard any other ship.
He'd been to the grocer's and to the chandler's already, and had placed some of his orders, and was planning next to find a baker, when a sudden chill storm had made him decide to take shelter in the nearest inn.
Clearly he wasn't the only sailor here. Another ship had come in at nearly the same time as the Star, and Isengar kept a wary eye on the crew who had entered the tavern nearly on his heels. From the conversation he'd overheard, they too were far, far away from their usual haunts. But these men had the look of pirates about them, especially the one who was obviously their Captain, a long lean man who looked young except for the cruelty in his eyes and the gleaming hook upon the end of his arm. He was busy berating a chunky looking member of the crew who wore a red hat, and whom he called "Smee".
"Are you certain we'll find more magic beans here, Smee?" the Captain was asking the fellow, drawing his hook lightly across Smee's cheek.
"Y-y-yes, sir! I'm c-c-certain of it."
"You had better be right. I hate this place; it's creepy."
Isengar edged around them unnoticed. He knew at once that it would not be wise to be noticed by that crew. He made his way to the bar.
Now he had a chance to look about him, and realized that the tavern was even stranger than the pirate crew who'd followed him in. The barmaid was one of the ugliest females he'd ever seen before-in fact, he was not entirely certain she was female. And he began to notice some very strange people sitting at the tables...was that an old woman wearing a wolf mask? or was it a wolf wearing an old woman's nightgown? and was that a cat beneath that cloak, wearing a hat and boots? He blinked, and began to understand that this place was nothing like any place he had sailed before in the years since he'd run away from the Shire.
Reluctantly he went up to the bar; the ugly barmaid looked down at him, "What'll it be?" she asked in a deep and gruff voice. "Half a pint of bitter, please," he said.
She took a mug down and drew the ale and plonked it down before him, and then glanced at the top of the bar and said "Have ya had enough for one night, then, Gingie?"
To the hobbit's everlasting shock, the gingerbread man that had been lying atop the bar sat up and in a high squeaky voice said, "No, Doris! Hit me with another shot of vanilla!"
The barmaid took out a thimble sized mug and poured into it from a tiny bottle. The gingerbread creature took it, and though Isengar could not understand how, downed it with one gulp. It looked up at Isengar and said belligerently "What're you staring at? I suppose you want to bite my head off!"
"No, no, nothing like that," he replied in a voice that was almost as squeaky as that of the being he was addressing. He was completely unnerved. The fact was, he had thought of eating the thing before it spoke-now the very idea made him queasy.
The creature stood up, swaying slightly. 'Gar had the distinct impression that it was a little tipsy. "So," it said, looking at him intently with its candy eyes, "what are you?"
"I'm a hobbit," he said unsteadily. Talking food was simply not right. He suppressed a shudder. "and a sailor, ship's cook for The Southern Star."
"Are you a good cook?" the gingerbread man asked.
'Gar chuckled. "More than passable," he said.
"Ship's cook?" said another voice. 'Gar's heart dropped. It was the pirate captain, the last person he wanted noticing him at the moment. "Perhaps you'd be interested in a change of position? The Jolly Roger could always use a good cook. We haven't had a cook in a long while…"
"Ain't never had a good one," said a pirate voice in the background. The Captain turned and glared at him.
Isengar swallowed hard, and stood up as tall as was possible for a hobbit. "I am quite content on The Southern Star," he said.
" 'Content'?" Suddenly the man was looming over him. He leaned his elbow on the bar and looked at his hook with a nastly smile. "Perhaps we might be content to find your Star when we leave port? Perhaps if we take her we will be content to take you…" Suddenly a shadow fell over the pirate, and Isengar looked up, his breath catching in his throat. "Aack!" was the pirate captain's only sound as he was lifted up by large green fingers attached to the collar of his coat.
"Hmm…" Isengar thought he might swoon at the sight of the green giant holding up the one who'd threatened him. "I would say 'pick on someone your own size', but then I'd have to take my own advice, little man."
The captain was growing red in the face as his collar was choking him. The green fellow put him down and used one finger to dust off the collar. "I think you and your crew have worn out your welcome," he said.
The captain turned without a word and hurried for the door, followed immediately by all his motley crew. The green creature grinned. "Bye," he said. "Don't let the door hit you on the way out."
"Thanks, Shrek," said the ugly barmaid.
"Think nothing of it, Doris" said the green one amiably. "I'll have a swampwater."
"On the house, Shrek," was the reply.
'Gar looked up at him. "I thank you, too, sir. Isengar Took, at your service."
"No problem," was the reply. "If you don't mind my asking, "what are you?"
"I am a hobbit." He grinned. "If you don't mind my asking, what are you?"
He looked surprised by the question. "I'm an ogre." Just then his drink was placed before him, and he picked it up.
Isengar gave a sigh of relief, and finished his own drink. Perhaps he'd had enough of adventuring. When the Star returned to Dol Amroth, perhaps he'd go back home; the Shire seemed like a very good place to be all of a sudden.
For those unfamiliar with the Appendices to LotR, Isengar Took was Bilbo Baggins uncle, who "went to sea in his youth". Isengar appears in the Took Family Tree in Appendix C.
The Poison Apple tavern appeared in Shrek II; we have appearances there from Doris the Ugly Stepsister, the Big Bad Wolf, Puss in Boots, and Gingie the Gingerbread Man and Shrek himself.
Captain Hook and Smee, of course, are originally from Peter Pan, however, I had in mind here the newest incarnation of him: Killian Jones from the TV series Once Upon a Time.