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Stuck in the Middle with You

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Summary: A handful of Joss Whedon's creations land in the middle of Middle Earth and decide to take the journey set before the Fellowship also. After all, they DO fight evil.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Lord of the Rings > Cordelia-CenteredDuckiePinkFR15213,2742163,1656 Jan 056 Jan 05No

Rivendell

Disclaimer: The characters in this fanfic obviously do not belong to me. The Lord of the Rings characters were created by J.R.R. Tolkien. The Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel characters were created by Joss Whedon.
Timelines: Buffy s6 "Seeing Red" up to Tara's shooting, Angel s3 "A New World" up to Connor's return, and LotR "Fellowship" after the hobbits and Strider (Aragorn) arrive in Rivendell.
Note: Set in the movieverse. Sorry to the hardcore Tolkien fans on this one. It's much easier for me to pop in my DVDs to check events rather than scan or reread the book. I hope you find it entertaining despite that.



STUCK IN THE MIDDLE WITH YOU
by Duckie Pink



"Baby, no, please."

She was sobbing as the life ran out of her lover. "Tara? Please, baby, noooooo..." She screamed in rage. "NOOOOOOOOOOOO!" She was weeping louder. "Help me. Please. Help. ANYONE!"

There was a flash of light and a loud pop. Then nothing. Blackness.



Fred and Gunn rushed into the Hotel Hyperion to find Cordelia and the Groosalugg out on the floor. Gunn bent down to help the semiconscious Groo while Fred rushed to Cordelia's side. No one noticed how Groo was outside the painted pentagram, and Cordelia's legs were still lying within it.

"Cordy?" Fred helped her sit up.

Effectively placing both women completely inside the circle. There was the loud crackle of energy above them, and before either woman could even think of moving, they were sucked up into the portal. Even Fred's surprised scream was cut off as they vanished.

ANYONE.

Gunn and Groo just stared in horror. Gunn swore he had heard a voice in the crackle of energy. It had sounded like they said "Anyone", but he could not be entirely sure.

"That is not good." Groo said.

Gunn turned and gave him an incredulous look. It screamed "Thank you, Captain Obvious".



Spike had taken refuge from the sun in a cave not too far from the highway. He was trying to sleep, but as ironic as it seemed, the floor to his crypt was more comfortable. He was bored and uncomfortable which was a deadly combination. He was about to get up and start pacing when he felt the pull in his gut.

ANYONE.

"What the-" Was all he got out before he'd vanished from the cave entirely.



Elrond had just welcomed him to Rivendell when he heard crying. Heartbroken weeping. Frodo looked about to make sure he wasn't going really crazy. But the others were looking around in the same manner.

Gandalf's brow crinkled. "Do you hear..."

The desperate scream started out so quiet then whipped itself into full form by the time the two bodies had become completely visible to the room. All they could do was stare. It was two women. Mortal women, it looked like. One of them was bleeding badly. The other, a redhead, was holding her, covered in blood and weeping horribly.

"Tara, baby, please don't.... noooo..."

"Perhaps..." Elrond started.

The redhead's eyes shot up to him. They were entirely black. He almost stepped back from the power coming off of her, but he didn't. These were no ordinary mortals.

"May I?"

"Help me. Help me please."

"I will try." He leaned down and gently lifted the dying girl. He rushed out of the room with her. Best to get the wounded away from the aggrieved.

The redhead was in shock. Gandalf leaned down to her to help her to her feet. Perhaps get her to lie down. As soon as he did, he heard screaming again. It was high-pitched and quite girlish. Gandalf tightened his hands on the girl's arm, ready to yank her to safety if need be, though he did not know her. There was a loud popping sound, and two shapes fell from thin air on to the end of Frodo's bed. Both he and Sam jumped.

"Uh, what in the hell happened?"

Two girls again. One with short light brown hair. One with long brown hair. And they were dressed just as oddly as the first two had been. The short haired woman looked around.

"Oh great. Just fabu. Another dimension."

The redhead seemed to snap out of it a bit. "Cordelia?"

The short haired woman, Cordelia, looked at the redhead. "Willow?"

The long haired girl tugged on Cordelia's sleeve. "Another dimension? We aren't in Pylea, are we?"

Cordelia looked around. "Looks like no, Fred."

"Oh thank goodness. I'd just go nuts-y if we were there again."

But Cordelia had her eyes on Willow. She was getting this horrible sense of pain off of her former classmate. Something was very wrong, and Cordelia didn't like it. "Will, did you have something to do with this? What happened?" She didn't like how the redhead seemed shell-shocked and had a nice blood spray staining her white shirt either, lending credence to her 'something is very wrong' vibe.

There was another flash of light and a pop. Spike landed with a "Bloody hell." on the floor.

"Spike?" Willow and Cordelia muttered at the same time.

Cordelia wasted no time. She rolled off the bed, grabbed a chair, busted it against the wall, took a broken leg as her stake, and was at Spike by the time he had managed to stand. Willow was amazed at how fluid her movements had been. Sam and Frodo had jumped quite hard at her violence with the chair. Gandalf could not help his jaw from dropping. She was resourceful, he'd give her that.

"No!" Willow waved her hand and the broken piece of wood flew out of Cordelia's grasp. "Don't, Cordy. Spike's semi-good now."

"Semi-good?!" Spike hissed indignantly.

"Shut up, Spike." Willow looked down at her hand for a moment. She seemed a bit confused.

Gandalf blinked. The redhead had removed the sharp piece of wood with her mind. He could feel the magic with all of them. It was not of this world, but grounded in earth nonetheless. The thin girl seemed to be the only ordinary mortal among them, but even she held a strange aura to her. Likely because she was not of this world like the rest.

"What in the hell is going on here, ay?" Spike looked Cordelia up and down. "Should have kept your hair long, ducks."

"Bite me, blondie."

"Who you calling blondie, dye job?"

"Again. Bite me."

"All right." He lunged at her.

"Stop it!" Willow yelled as Gandalf bellowed. "Cease!"

Cordelia and Spike where blown back several feet from one another. They all looked from Willow to Gandalf. Willow wasn't sure what was happening. She wasn't TRYING to use her magic. It was just happening here. All she had to do was think something, and it was happening. Like she was super-juiced, but it was all good. Too weird. It felt different too. It wasn't all-consuming like back home. She didn't feel like the magic could eat her alive here.

The bearded wizard cleared his throat. "I would like to know what is going on."

"Wouldn't we all, Merlin." Cordelia snapped.

Frodo and Sam both gasped. Gandalf's mouth crinkled to a bit of a grin. The Cordelia girl had the mouth on her. He liked a girl with a bit of spunk.

Willow seemed to snap out of her shock. "Tara!" She started for the door.

Gandalf closed it with a wave of his hand. "Let Lord Elrond tend to the girl. He will make her right again."

"Let me out." Willow hissed as her eyes swirled a red color then went back to solid black.

"Now, Red..." Spike began. He'd noticed Cordelia had taken on an unnatural glow the second Willow had gotten all demanding, and Willow, he noticed, Willow was acting less than normal anyhow. "Let's not anger the wizard. He might have to smite you down, pet. In the biblical sense of the word."

Willow backed down suddenly. "I'm sorry. I-I-I..."

"Red?"

"It's .... it's..."

Spike knew her well enough now to know when something was really wrong. "Willow, what's wrong?"

"T-Tara got shot."

Spike's eyebrows hit his hairline. Willow broke down crying again. Spike noticed for the first time that she was covered in blood. Tara's blood. Spike didn't think. He just grabbed the redhead in a hug. "There now. It'll be all right."

Cordelia was slowly losing her glow. She looked at Willow allowing herself to be comforted by Spike. "Too weird." She turned to Gandalf. "So, I'm Cordelia. That's Fred. The blonde is Spike, and the redhead is Willow. And you are..."



The mysterious events of Frodo's bedchamber spread quickly through Lord Elrond's house. Everyone was quite curious. Four mortal women and an immortal, so they said, man had fallen from nothing. One of them had been mortally wounded. Elrond had tended her for quite some time before he was satisfied that she would recover.

Strider or Elessar or Aragorn, whatever he went by in the heads and hearts of others, wanted to check them out. He was paranoid. That was difficult sorcery, appearing from thin air. He'd questioned Gandalf relentlessly about whether or not any of them had rings. That was the only way he knew of other than serious magics to appear so. Gandalf had explained that was not the way of it. He had ventured that each was there for a reason, and the other four were summoned by the redhead's breaking heart. That her pure agony had pulled the rest of them in. That was the gray wizard's reasoning. It made sense.

But Aragorn still had no liking for it.

"What troubles you?"

He looked up into the always pretty and lately concerned face of Arwen and responded. "The visitors. The ones that appeared from nothing."

"I thought as much. Would you care to meet them? Would that ease your worry? The one is still healing, but the other four are quite fascinating. They will be at dinner tonight, I believe."

"You've met them?"

"My father had me help with the one witch-"

"Witches!"

"Witches in their world are not as they are here. It does not mean the same. They are female wizards of Gandalf's ilk. They mean us no harm."

He just stared at her. As if he didn't believe her. It really irritated her when he did that.



Willow watched Spike with a little half smile on her face. She was sitting next to the bed Tara was laid out in holding the witch's hand and watching the vampire. He was standing out on the balcony of the room they were all in basking in the sun like a cat might. The sun had no effect on him here. It was fascinating to watch him in direct light. It was just plain fascinating watching him and everything here. The place was absolutely gorgeous. It was the most beautiful place Willow had ever been. There were rivers and waterfalls, and green-ness and tranquility. Everything was so soft there. And it made everything within the place seem soft as well. Including Spike.

Cordelia was pacing. She was concerned about how they were going to get back home. She was worried about Angel and Connor. Fred was worried as well. She kept babbling almost incoherently about missing "Charles". Willow had gathered that Charles was the handsome, bald, black man she had almost met when she had gone to tell Angel that Buffy was dead about a year ago. There had not been much time for introductions that day.

Tara had yet to stir, but she was alive. Willow was so thankful. She could just kiss that Elrond guy. Even though she thought he was kinda freaky for wearing a tiara-looking thing and a dress. Oh well. To each his own. His daughter was pretty cool though. She'd gotten them all clothing to wear while theirs was being laundered. Spike was a bit growly about the off-white linen pants he'd been given with the matching off-white tunic shirt, but he'd gotten over it. Arwen had talked him into it. The look on Spike's face when the she-elf was talking to him almost made Willow believe he was getting over Buffy. Spike liked Arwen. Maybe not "liked her" liked her, but he smiled at her in a way that he smiled at few others. Not as if he were going to take any sort of action, but like he recognized her appeal. Willow didn't blame him a bit. She liked Arwen too. She recognized the elf's appeal as well. Arwen was a babe and a half.

Willow liked Gandalf too. His presence had an oddly soothing effect on her. He'd been in earlier to ask all of them questions. Each had told him what they knew - which wasn't a lot. Gandalf had surmised that perhaps Willow had been the one to pull everyone in. He had suggested that perhaps Fred had been transferred by mistake since she was holding on to Cordelia at the time. He suspected that the redhead really only meant to retrieve Cordelia and Spike. But why? Why Cordelia and Spike? Why not Buffy and Xander?

There was a knock at the door. Everyone looked at one another. Fred walked slowly and opened the door. She saw no one. Then she looked down. There were four little men with hairy feet and pointed ears staring up at her.

"Oh." She smiled brightly. "Hiya."

"We don't mean to disturb you. We was just a mite curious." The heaviest one said.

"Curious?"

"About you all."

"Oh." Fred looked over her shoulder. Everyone seemed to nod that it was okay except Spike, but Cordelia had already told Fred that Spike didn't count. Fred looked back at the men. "Well, come on in, I suppose."

Spike sighed loudly. Cordelia mouthed the words 'shut up' at him.

"Well, I'm Winifred, but everybody calls me Fred. That's Cordelia. That's Spike. Over there's Willow. And Tara's in the bed." She smiled. She was glad she remembered everyone's name. She'd seen Willow once before, but they hadn't actually met.

"Are they midgets?" Spike asked Cordelia quietly.

"Hobbits, actually." The one up front said. "I'm Frodo."

The heavy set one raised his hand. "I'm Sam. That's Merry, and that's Pippin."

Pippin grinned. "Or you could say we're Frodo Baggins, Samwise Gamgee, Meriadoc Brandybuck, and Peregrin Took. If you wanted to be formal, you know, which we don't."

Merry rolled his eyes. "Thank you, Pip."

Cordelia actually giggled at that. There was something very humorous about the four of them. She was also filled with and odd urge to ruffle their curly hair or cuddle with them. Weird.

"Well.." Fred said. "Then I'm Winifred Burkle, and that's Cordelia Chase."

Willow smiled. "And I'm Willow Rosenberg. This is Tara Maclay, and that's... that's..." Willow grinned wickedly. "William the Bloody."

Spike smirked at the redhead. "Well done, Red."



The hobbits had lessened the tension considerably. There was just this friendly easiness to them. They even got Spike and Cordelia to come to some sort of a temporal truce or at least stop snipping at each other all the time. They'd stayed for over an hour. Elrond had come around and made them leave. Spike seemed sort of sad about it. It was weird. He'd gotten along with the hobbits the best. Spike hardly ever got along with anyone. Now he was back on the balcony. Willow would almost bet money he was going to sleep out there tonight.

"Hey pets... come and check it out."

Fred and Cordelia joined him on the balcony.

"What is it?" Willow asked as she walked out.

But then she could see. Riders were arriving.

"Hello salty goodness." Cordelia murmured.

"Which one, princess?" Spike asked.

He was leaned forward with his arms propped on the railing. They were getting along. It was weird, but they'd hashed through most of the Angel stuff with the help of the hobbits. Sam had insisted if they got to the root of their "snappin" that they could continue as friends. Strangely, it had sort of worked. Spike had always liked Cordelia. She pretty much said what she thought, and you had to respect that. What he didn't like was her choice of friends. Then again she could probably say the same about him. He hung around the Scoobies.

Cordelia leaned next to him. "The hulk carrying the shield."

"Really?"

"He looks manly."

"OY!" Spike yelled.

Willow, Fred, and Cordelia squealed and ducked.

"What are you DOING?" Cordelia hissed.

"OY!"

"Spike!" Cordelia hissed as she tugged on his pant leg.

"Might want to be careful, ducks. They're a bit loose, and I go commando. You keep tugging and I might catch a draft if you catch my drift."

Cordelia released Spike's pant leg as if it were on fire.

"OY! Yes, you there! Fancy a shag?! There's a princess up here who-"

Cordelia shot up, grabbed him, and wrenched him down next to her. "Are you crazy?!"

"Just having a bit of fun at the local's expense, luv."

"I don't think he's that local of a local."

Fred and Willow were giggling. They couldn't help it. The four peeked back over the edge of the balcony. The man Spike had propositioned was gone. There was another group dismounting. They all had long blonde hair. They were all dressed very "cloak and robes". A lot of them were carrying bows and quivers of arrows. One in particular caught Fred's eyes.

Fred sucked in air. "Oh my, he's pretty."

"Fred... Gunn?" Cordelia said with an arched brow as she followed Fred's line of sight.

But she couldn't deny it. Fred was indeed correct. He was a prettyboy. And kinda tall. And kinda nicely assed from what she could tell by that dismount from his horse.

"I can think that the tall blonde boy is pretty, Cordy. As long as I remain true to my Charles."

"Check out the ass on that." Cordelia muttered.

Willow blinked. "I saw. I very saw. He also has a looking like a girl thing going for him. Nummy."

"He's scrumdidillyumtious." Cordelia said as she rested her hand on her chin.

Spike eyed the object of their fancy. "He looks like a pansy."

"He is not a pansy."

Cordelia snorted. "You're just jealous 'cause he has a better ass than you."

"Hey!" He pointed at them. "No one has a better ass than me."

"Angel does."

"Please."

"Pfft." Cordelia waved her hand in his face. "You have the abs and the cheekbones, peroxide. Angel so has the ass. Trust me, I've studied it."

Willow gaped. "When did you see Angel's ass?"

"I don't have to actually see it to SEE it. It's out there. Begging for notice... among other things."

"Fine. Whatever. My ass is second to the poof's, but it is still better than that nancy boy's." He nodded down to the object of their interest.

Fred puffed up a little more. "He is not a nancy boy."

"He's the nanciest nancy boy that ever had long blonde hair with..." Spike squinted. "Braids in it. Oh bugger, what a flippin' fairy. He's wearing tights and braids."

"He has braids?" Fred leaned out of the railing.

"Careful, ducks." Spike grabbed a handful of the back of her gray linen dress to assure that she would not topple over the rail.

Just then the blonde in question turned and looked right at them. Spike, Willow, and Cordelia all took an involuntary step back accompanied by a gasp when he did this. Fred was still being held by Spike, so she was pulled back as well. The guy just stared up at them in this unflinching sort of way. Like he was trying to figure them out. Everyone else was a bit uncomfortable.

Fred was just staring back with equal, if not more, intensity.

"W-Willow?"

They all turned at the new voice. Tara was finally awake.



Dinner was an unusual affair.

Arwen had come back and offered to loan the women clothing. She offered for Spike as well, but he said he would prefer not to wear any girlie robes or pansy tights or anything of the sort, that he'd just stick to the linen until his own clothing was dry. But he'd thanked her quite politely for her offer. He'd even suggested that he should carry the still-weak Tara down to dine. Both these gestures had gotten him and odd, yet pleased, look from Willow. he'd been almost mellow since landing in this dimension. Willow was worried it might be some sort of trick on his part.

Arwen had also given them a bit of a who's who. Elves, dwarves, hobbits, wizards. It was all fascinating to the group. Just as demons, slayers, vampires, werewolves, and witches would probably be to Arwen or any of her kind. The hobbits had started a bit of it, but Arwen took it a step further. The hobbits had mostly explained about hobbits. There was a lot about different weeds for smoking and eating and gardening.... and drinking ale.

Arwen had told them about elves. It was fitting since she was one. They'd all been enraptured. But that might have been the speaker not the words being spoken. Each had agreed that they could listen to Arwen talk forever. She had such a beautiful and soothing voice. And then there was that being quite the babe thing she had going on.

Arwen had spent a great deal of time talking about someone named Aragorn. Who was also referred to as Strider, but Aragorn was his real name or something. It was a bit confusing. Now they were all insanely curious to meet the man. He was no elf, and he held great sway with Arwen's affections. The Californians, the Texan, and the undead Brit were very interested to see what manner of man held such a position. Willow was put to mind of when Buffy would talk about Angel. Way back in the day when there was no soul clause that they knew of. When a vampire with a soul just happened to be most of the slayer's world. The way Arwen talked of her Aragorn was staggering. Willow also got the feeling the she-elf had been quite in love with the man since the first time she'd clapped eyes on him. The witch also got the feeling that Arwen wasn't allowed to discuss such things with her people, that there was disapproval on some level. The redhead was glad the she-elf had chosen to confide in them, for whatever reason.

So the five had arrived in Lord Elrond's dining room to have all eyes instantly set upon them. The guy Spike had propositioned had looked right at them. The long haired blonde eyed them with some curiosity as well. They had learned from Arwen that the blonde was an elf. If she hadn't told them, the ears would have been a dead giveaway. They had also learned that the man with the shield was named Boromir, and he was from Gondor. There was also a man standing near Arwen that seemed to be dissecting the group's every move.

He made all the hair on Willow's neck stand on end. There was something about the way he was looking at all of them. It reminded her of the way Angel looked at people for some reason. This had to be Aragorn. Arwen had mentioned that he was very curious about the five of them when they had been hashing out the clothing issues. Gandalf and Elrond had just smiled and them. Both curious to see how the group assembled for the secret council would deal with these visitors. Elrond had already been asked about them by many of the elves. Especially Legolas. Elrond could not remember a time when the elf of Mirkwood had so many curiosities.

The hobbits had provided the most boisterous of welcomes. Shocking everyone in the room.

Sam stood. "Bless me, Mr. Frodo, but the sleeping pretty is awake."

"Ay, Spike sit with us!" Pippin called.

Spike nodded with a smile and walked to the end of the table the hobbits were sitting at. He gently placed Tara in the vacant chair next to Sam.

"This, mates, is Tara the lioness in mouse's clothing. Be real nice to her. She's on the mend, but she can be quite vicious when crossed."

"What?" Tara whispered.

"Buffy's birthday, pet. Anya?"

"Oh." Tara blushed.

Sam took it upon himself to acquaint Tara with everyone. He nodded to an older hobbit with grayish white hair sitting at the end of the table near Frodo and Pippin. "That's Mister Bilbo Baggins. He's Frodo's uncle. You were asleep earlier, so I'm Samwise Gamgee, Sam if you please. That's Mister Frodo. That there is Pippin, and here's Merry."

There was a general exchange of pleasantries with Bilbo by the others. The older hobbit had heard nothing but Spike this, Willow that, Cordelia this, Fred that, and but wasn't the sleeping Tara girl pretty, all afternoon. It was good to see the live representations of the younger hobbits' musings. And he had to admit the Tara girl was pretty. For a mortal and being of the race of man in size.

"You don't look quite so pale as this afternoon." Merry noted as he looked Tara over. "Nothing some good ale won't fix."

"Th-thank you, I th-think."

All the elves in the room turned to look at her when she spoke. Tara blushed bright red. Willow eyed them all while taking Tara's hand possessively, The redhead sat in the chair next to Tara. She tightened the grip on her hand, closed it in both of hers, and pulled it in her lap. Spike rolled his eyes and settled himself between Merry and Pippin. He admitted there was a lot of staring at Tara going on, but Willow might as well have growled or peed on her. Talk about possessive. Spike shook his head and concentrated on Merry and Pippin. The three immediately began chattering.

Cordelia sat next to Willow. Fred grabbed the chair next to Merry. Fred looked up slightly shocked when Gandalf sat on her other side. He had such a presence that it made Fred a bit nervous, but Gandalf smiled warmly, and Fred's nervousness melted away.

The table was almost rounded out when Arwen took the remaining chair next to Cordelia, and Aragorn took the one next to Gandalf. Elrond took the chair at the head of the table. He was curious to see how this mix would, well, mix. Elrond was not shocked at how the hobbits had taken to the mortals. Hobbits were friendly by nature. What shocked him was the way the blonde man, Spike, who was very NOT mortal, seemed to be taking to the hobbits.

The other tables filled up quickly. Cordelia noticed that most of the "races" stayed with their own.

"Elves and dwarves don't mix. And both distrust mortal man." Gandalf said as if he could read her thoughts.

"I was getting that."

"You aren't entirely mortal." Aragorn said quietly. He'd been studying the woman with the short blonde-ish hair the most of all of them. The redhead and her companion partook in sorcery like Gandalf. The man with them was definitely an immortal creature of some sort. The girl with the long brown hair was just that - a girl. But the one called Cordelia was different. There was something human yet not about her.

"Aragorn..." Arwen whispered.

"Listen, Shaggy, I don't think that's any of your business." Cordelia snapped. "Why don't you go take a bath or something. The greasy wet look is out, you know. No one did it as well as Ethan Hawke in Reality Bites."

"Cordy." Fred hissed.

Aragorn could not help the slight look of surprise that flickered on his face for a few seconds. No one had ever insulted him so... if he had even been dealt an insult. He was not so sure. She was awfully strong-willed. He got that sense from her. Just from hearing her speak. She was very sure of herself and very noble. Regal. Like a queen almost.

Gandalf was attempting not to snicker. The lost king of Gondor set down by a mere girl. Well, a partial mere girl anyhow. He could feel the power on her. The decided lack of mortality in about half of her body. And goodness. There was a lot of the light inside her. She would aid them more greatly than even he could fathom. Because that was what she did. She was a light that fought darkness.

Fred leaned around Gandalf awkwardly and thrust her hand out to wave at Aragorn. "Hi, I'm Fred. Don't mind Cordy, she's just Cordelia. Sometimes she gets cranky about being half demon."

"Fred!" Cordelia hissed.

"Half demon." Aragorn was reaching for his sword when he remembered Arwen had made him take it off earlier. And now she was glaring at him a bit because she knew exactly what he had been doing.

"You're half demon?" Willow asked quietly.

Cordelia sighed.

"You did it out of love." Gandalf supplied. "You have a noble heart, my lady."

Cordelia actually blushed.

"You're in love, Cordy?" Willow squealed. "With who?"

Cordelia gave her a look.

Willow suddenly got it. "Oh." Had to be Angel. "OH!"

"Don't tell Buffy."

"No. Of course not."

"And it's not her and his kind of love anyway. That all powerful Romeo and Juliet crap."

"Oh?" Gandalf said. "Not powerful?"

Cordelia looked at him hard.

"Time will tell on that count, my lady."

*~*~*~*~*

The five were preparing for a night of rest. Rivendell was so comfortable a place. They had agreed now that Tara was recovering that they should start looking for a way to get them home.

Though there was plenty of space in his house, Elrond had opted for keeping the group together. There were two huge beds in the room, and after much bickering it had been decided that Fred and Cordelia would take one while Willow, Tara, and Spike would take the other. Spike had offered to take the floor, but Willow would have none of it. No floor for Spike. The beds were certainly big enough to not be that close to him in sleep. Especially if she and Tara snuggled up.

They were just settled in when a knock came. Willow smiled. It was probably Arwen checking on them yet again. She'd already done so hundreds of times. She made sure they had enough blankets and pillows. She had wanted to make sure Tara wasn't in any pain from her wound. She wanted to make sure they had things that were comfortable enough to sleep in. She wanted to make sure no one was still hungry or needed water or anything. They were all really starting to like Arwen. She was so nice. And of course there was her whole sexy babe-ness.

Willow opened the door. It wasn't Arwen. It was Gandalf. She looked at him oddly.

"Might I come in?"

"Oh, okay."

"There's a tale I'd like to tell all of you, a bedtime story if you will. You all can decide what it is you should do with it."

"What sort of story?" Fred asked as she sat up in the bed and tucked her knees to her chest, then hugged her arms around her legs. She finished by resting her chin on top of her kneecaps.

Gandalf was a bit fascinated that such a tall girl could fold herself up like that. With folding abilities like that, he was willing to bet she was an excellent hider. He smiled at her. "It's about a ring."

Willow sat behind Tara and let the other witch nestle against her. Spike had sat up and propped himself against the headboard of the bed. He patted the bed for Cordelia and Fred to join them. They did. Cordelia sat on the corner near Tara's feet while Fred took her same tucked position, but between Willow and Spike. Gandalf sat on the other corner of the bed near Spike's feet. They were all such children compared to those he knew now, but these children had seen things, many things. He could sense it from them. They had fought battles. They had seen real evil. They had faced it down and come out nearly unscathed. He could sense it on them. Some of them had touched the very darkness itself and been able to pull back from it.

That was they exact reason he was going to confide in them on some things. They might be of some aid in the matter before the council. They might sway the hold of the shadow's threat.

"It begins a long time ago-"

"In a galaxy far, far away?" Spike asked earning him a hard slap on the arm from Willow. "Ouch! Bloody hell, Red! Sorry, Gandalf. Proceed."

"A long time ago, with the forging of several rings of power. Three to the elves, seven to the dwarves, and nine to the kings of mortal man, but there was another ring forged in secret, riddled in the dark, one ring that would rule them all..."



Aragorn would be the first to admit he'd been quite wrong in being paranoid about the group of women and their blonde man-friend. Though Fred made his head ache a bit with all her babble, and Cordelia was a bit snappish, he did like Cordelia's wit. She was gracious in her manner, but if she was displeased, you knew. Spike, it seemed, was getting along famously with the hobbits through tales of blood and gore. Spike was a vampire. Willow had explained it to them all. A creature that fed on the life's blood of other creatures. Strangely, he had not needed any blood so far. For that Aragorn was thankful. He did not think he could abide by such things.

As he walked around the now empty chairs waiting for the rest of Lord Elrond's council to show, he thought about two things. Why Gandalf had let it slip at the adjourning of dinner to Cordelia where the secret meeting of the council was taking place. It was not like the wizard to just "let things slip out" like that. His mind was also quite full of what Arwen had recently said about him being Isildur's heir not Isildur himself.



"We should really be thinking of a way to get home." Tara said as the group was getting out of bed. "Don't you guys think we should be thinking of a way to get home? I mean, I feel much better now."

"I don't know. We should be going." Cordelia said. "I feel like there's something else I'm supposed to do here though."

Fred perked up. "Did you have a vision?"

"No, I just have a feeling." She chewed her lip. "Maybe we ought to check out that council meeting."

"We weren't invited." Willow said.

"Pfft. Invited, insmited. I know we weren't, but why did Gandalf Graydude-"

"I don't think his name is Gandalf Graydude, princess." Spike interjected.

"Shut up, White Fang. Point-making here." Cordelia took a deep breath. "So why did wizardguy let us know where the meeting would be and then give us all the background on the ring? The ring is evil. It was forged in evil by evil. It's all about the being evil with this ring. I don't know about you guys, but I fight evil. I think we're supposed to help here."

Willow smiled. "You really have changed."

"Thanks."

"Bugger these fairies and their big bad. It don't concern us." Spike said. "I want to go home."

"Go home? To what? Buffy working out the cramp in your pants?" Tara asked. "Or having sex with Anya on the Magic Box table?"

Spike glared at her.

Fred decided to put in her two cents. "It can't hurt to check out the meeting. I mean, at least then we'd really know what's going on here. Then we could decide what to do about it."

Cordelia smiled widely before getting back down to business. "So who's the sneakiest?"

Willow and Tara looked at Spike.

"Oh well, thanks." He grumbled.

Willow sighed. "Vampires lurk. You are still a vampire."

"Last time I checked."

Cordelia was pacing and tapping her finger to her chin. "But he shouldn't go alone.... Fred!"

Fred jumped.

Spike looked at the lanky brunette. "No way."

Cordelia snorted. "You don't know Fred like I know Fred, blondie. She's excellent at hiding."

"Right then." Spike held his arm out to Fred. "Shall we, ducks?"



Spike and Fred slid into place under the bushes right as the meeting was getting underway.

"Comfortable?" Spike whispered in a barely audible voice.

Fred nodded.

"Who's there?" Came another voice.

Fred jumped as Sam crawled up next to them.

"Sam, what in the bloody hell are YOU doing here?"

"I could ask the same of you, Mister William." Sam whispered right back.

"What are you doing?" Spike hissed.

"Droppin' the eaves."

Fred clapped a hand over each of their mouths. "Shh. They're talking."

Legolas leaned back a bit more in his chair. He could have sworn he just heard voices in the hedge behind him. But that was crazy, right?



Fred and Spike were practically bursting when they managed to get back to the room. Willow could hardly keep up with them. There was a ring, an evil ring. Big bad mojo all over this ring, forged by a dark lord, blah blah blah-gity blah. There was to be a group going to take the ring back to Mordor where it was made. They were going to cast it back into the fires it was made from, or to direct quote "the fiery chasm from whence it came", that being the only way to destroy it. There had been yelling. Boromir had wanted to use the ring against the evil Lord Sauron. To wield it against Mordor. Aragorn had warned him that the ring answered only to Sauron. It's evil was too great to wield.

Apparently Aragorn was the lost king of Gondor. Boromir was pissy about it. One elf, Legolas, had gotten pissy right back with Boromir about it. A dwarf who was called Gimli son of Gloin by Elrond had tried to destroy the ring with something. It had not worked and there was a mini explosion. Made weapons not being of much use against evil rings forged by dark lords apparently.

There had been a ton of angry voices. Some business about not being able to just walk on into Mordor. A lot of talk about foul air and big evil and great eyes and the like. It had all ended with Frodo offering to take the ring to Mordor since no one else seemed to have the balls to do so. But his single moment of bravery had lent a few others to stand and say they would aid him.

There was a fellowship of nine taking the ring to Mordor. It included Frodo, who had chosen to bear the burden to end the bickering, Sam, Merry, Pippin, Gandalf, Aragorn, Boromir, Gimli, and Legolas.

"So what do we do about this?" Fred asked.

"Why should we have anything to do with it?" Spike asked.

"Ever seen Quantum Leap?"

Everyone looked at Fred like she had lost her mind. She didn't care. She was used to that look.

"It may be our way home. You know, we do a good, and we leap on."

Spike snorted. "What if the next leap isn't the leap home? What if it takes us to the Land of Oz or some rot?"

"Then I guess we follow the yellow brick road." Fred snapped.

"Oh no." Cordelia grabbed a chair. "Uh!" She pressed the palm of her hand to her forehead. This one kind of hurt a little. She was shocked. She hadn't had a vision that actually hurt in a while.

"Cordelia?" Willow was walking towards her.

"We have to follow them." The former cheerleader said suddenly.

"What?"

"We have to follow them. There's danger. I can't even sort it out it was so much. Some much darkness and evil and danger. Gandalf falls into this dark nothing. Boromir gets shot. He gets it with wicked fat-looking arrows by this thing that popped out of a slimy snot bubble covered in what looks suspiciously like the doo doo. That thing is evil. Made by evil. By someone named Saruman. And he's gross and snot-covered and naked a bit. Eww."

"Saruman's naked?" Fred asked.

"No, the doo doo snot monster is."

"Well, pets, what are we waiting for?" Spike could see there was no getting out of this. The girls wanted to help, so he'd best get all of them on their merry do-gooding way.

"We'll need clothes."

"We'll need weapons."

"We'll need supplies."

"We'll need a plan."

Spike smirked. "What we'll need is Arwen."

=====

end part 1
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