Title: Reluctant Allies
Disclaimer: I don't own any of it. They belong to someone else. I'm only borrowing them.
Distribution: whoever wants it, just let me know where it ends up.
Spoilers: After the fall of the Initiative, middle of the Fellowship of the Ring
Feedback: It is my muse!! I'll beg if I have to. Pleeeeeeze!!!
Notes: , /Willow's telepathic thoughts/, \\Others' telepathic thoughts\\
Notes 2: I just want to thank my wonderful Betas!! Thanks you guys!!!!
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"This is so not how I wanted to spend my Saturday afternoon," Willow grumbled to herself as she stood outside his apartment with her backpack. "And he's not even here. Great! That's it, five more minutes and I'm so out of here." Willow paced back and forth in front of his door. She stopped dead in her tracks when she heard his voice about a minute later.
"What are you doing here?"
"I, uh, you are still the TA for English Lit, aren't you?"
"Yes," he sighed heavily. "I am. What do you want?" He began unlocking his door.
"I need some help with the assignment." She admitted weakly as he walked into his apartment.
"And here I thought you were supposed to be the brains of that little operation of yours." He replied condescendingly.
"No, that was Giles. I'm just Research and Net Girl, and occasionally Bad Ass Wicca." She retorted.
"Do you really need help with the assignment, or did just come over to bust my chops?"
He was leaning against his door frame, blocking her entrance.
"I really do need help with the assignment, and if anyone found out I was here asking for help, there would go my reputation as the genius. And I kind of like that reputation. So, will you please help me?"
He thought about it for a moment. "Fine," he finally agreed, against his better judgment.
Willow relaxed at his answer. "Oh thank you, thank you, thank you."
He stepped back from the door and motioned for her to come in. Willow entered his studio apartment. It was sparsely decorated, but it was tasteful and homey.
"That was a nice test at the door, what with the not actually inviting me in part. I guess living on the Hellmouth has taught you a thing or two." She smiled at him as he lead her to the table.
"I wasn't too sure considering your outfit."
Willow looked down to see what she was wearing. Black leather pants, sensible healed black boots, black spaghetti-strap tank top, and matching black leather knee length duster.
"Oh, sorry," she said. "I was planning on going on patrol with Buffy after we got done. This is a normal patrol outfit. You know, black, easier to blend in with the shadows."
He nodded, "Makes sense."
"What's with your outfit? Just get off patrol yourself?"
"No, just got done with training maneuvers. It's kind of like practice."
"I know what maneuvers are. I'm not that ditzy."
"Sorry. Most people don't." He walked into the kitchen and opened the fridge. "You want some water?"
"I'm not most people. And yes, please." Willow set her backpack on the floor next to the table.
He walked back to the table and handed her the bottled water. She was about to open it when she noticed the book that was open on the table. She reached over and picked it up.
"What's this?" She asked curious.
"It's nothing," he was embarrassed that she had found it.
"It's old. It looks like something that Giles' would love. If I didn't know any better I'd say this was an ancient book of prophecies of some sort." She eyed the TA with a smirk on her face. He stood his ground and didn't say anything. "Well? Am I right?"
"If you're so smart, why don't you tell me?" He challenged her.
"Let's see." Willow began reading over the entry that the book was opened to. "It says something about a warrior and a mage and a journey to the center of the earth. Why does that not sound like fun?"
"Probably because it wouldn't be." He had to stifle the smile that was threatening. "I never knew that you could read Quenya."
"There are a lot of things you don't know about me, Graham Miller."
"Apparently. So, oh wise one, what else does it say?" Willow raised her eyebrow to Graham. "What? I've been trying to translate it, but it's taking me forever. This way is much faster."
"Fine." Willow rolled her eyes. "It says something about a ring, darkness, and a fellowship." She looked up at Graham. "Apparently the warrior and mage are supposed to help this fellowship destroy a ring or the earth will be covered in darkness, both literally and figuratively." She continues to scan the pages, turning them as she went. "Hmm, does this sound familiar to you? I can't quiet make it out."
"Káno lórrah caran kuruni rankemen nólë. Êl Èr kemen fuin."
There was a huge gust of wind. Willow and Graham had to cover their eyes. Willow grabbed onto Graham's sleeve out of instinct. When the wind died down the two looked around to see what had happened.
They were standing in a wide open grassland that was open as far as the eye could see. Except for the large forest just to the northeast of them. It was the greenest forest Willow had ever seen.
"Where are we?" Graham asked trying to keep his voice calm, but not succeeding very well.
"I don't know." Willow was panicked. "I was just asking you if you knew what that line meant, then the big wind, then here. Oh, but look, good news."
"It better be," Graham told her through clenched teeth.
Willow held up her hand. "We brought the book with us."
"Actually, that is good news. Unless of course the reverse spell needs to be spoken by the people back home. And with the book here, that could prove a bit tricky."
"Graham, I hate to point out the obvious, but no one's going to realize we're gone."
"Sure they will," he protested. "When I don't show up for drill they'll come looking for me. And I'd venture to guess that when you don't show up for patrol tonight that Buffy will start looking for you."
"Yes, but you missed one little detail."
"And what was that?"
"People will know that YOU are missing, and people will know that I am missing. But no one is going to know or even suspect the WE are missing together. We're supposed to hate each other, remember? What with the Scoobies bringing an end to the Initiative and all."
Graham thought on that for a moment. "We're stuck here unless we can find our own way home, aren't we?"
"Yeah, pretty much."
"I suggest we find some shelter and you get started on that book to see if we can go home."
"Sounds like a plan. Lead the way Private."
Willow and Graham sought shelter in the nearby forest. They were about a hundred meters into the forest when they came face to face with drawn arrows. Willow and Graham put their backs to each other for protection.
A tall, brunette man stepped forward. He said something in a language neither Graham nor Willow understood.
"I. . . I'm sorry. But we don't understand." Willow told the man who, now that she looked at him, she noticed that he had pointy ears.
"I said," the man broke her of her mental evaluation of him. "You are trespassing in the realm of the Lord Elrond, humans. The penalty is death."
"Say something in Quenya, maybe that will change his mind," Graham whispered to her.
"I can read it, I can't speak it. Besides, last time I tried to speak it we ended up here. I'm afraid if I tried again we'd end up someplace worse." She whispered back to him.
"You can read the ancient language?" The man interrupted Willow and Graham before their conversation broke out into an argument.
"Yeah, is that a good thing? I mean, will it keep us alive?" Willow was nearly pleading.
"For now," The man informed her. "You will come with us. Lord Elrond will decide what shall be done with you."
The two captives began following the man through the forest.
"See," Graham whispered to her. "I knew that Quenya thing would save us."
"Yes Graham. You saved our lives. You're such a genius," she whispered back harshly.
"Hey, there's no need to get all snotty. You're the one that brought us here."
"You're the one that had the book on his table. Just be grateful that I'm here too. If not, you would've eventually gotten yourself stuck here by yourself."
"And what makes you think that?"
"You were the one that was translating the book, not me."
"You're the one that read the passage out loud that got us sucked into this world."
"It was your book."
"You're the one that came over for help on your English Lit assignment."
"You're the TA."
"You're . . . You're . . . don't ask me how, but SOMEHOW this is all your fault."
"WHAT? This is so not my fault. This is all your fault. You're the one that asked me to finish translating what you were to inept to do on your own."
"Will you two shut up already?!" The man turned around and glared at Willow and Graham. "You're giving me a headache."
Willow and Graham offered their apologies, but continued to glare at each other in silence. The man just shook his head and kept walking, grateful that they were at least quiet.
The group continued to walk until after the sun had set. Willow and Graham just looked at each other, thinking the same thing.
About an hour after sunset, the group came to a clearing. Willow looked around her. She saw a city, unlike anything she had seen before. It was breathtaking in its perfection and beauty. An arrow in her back reminded her to keep walking.
The group descended into the city, near one of its many waterfalls. Graham and Willow were led to what could only be described as a palace. They were taken into a great hall and were presented.
"Lord Elrond," the man spoke to an older, tall, brunette. "We came upon these humans on the outskirts of the forest. The female claims to be able to speak the ancient language."
"Read, not speak," Willow corrected.
"What shall we do with them?" The man asked, ignoring Willow.
"Leave me with them. I wish to speak with them." Lord Elrond announced. "Leave us."
The soldiers exited the room leaving only Willow, Graham, and Lord Elrond.
"What brings you here?" Lord Elrond demanded.
"We don't even know where here is," Graham admitted.
"Rivendell, in Middle Earth," Lord Elrond told them.
"Middle Earth," Willow mumbled. "Why does that sound familiar?"
"You're the genius, you figure it out," Graham mumbled back to her.
"That's it," she almost yelled.
"What's it, Rosenberg?"
"The book. It talked about the center of the earth. I think it actually meant Middle Earth."
"Makes sense," Graham nodded. "Hey, wait. Does that mean that we're the warrior and the mage?"
"I'd have to go with yes on that one."
"You're a witch?"
"What's the difference?"
"SILENCE!" Graham and Willow jumped at Lord Elrond's yell. They had both forgotten he was even there.
"Sorry," they both said.
"Our nerves are a little shot," Willow offered Elrond.
"Yes, I can tell," Elrond smirked at them. "You mentioned a book. I assume the book in question is the one you're holding." They nodded. "May I see it?"
Willow handed the book to Lord Elrond. He looked through it. "So, you can read Quenya. Impressive." Elrond handed the book back to Willow. "So you're here to help the fellowship."
"Sir," Graham spoke up. "As you can tell, we're not from around here, we're not quite sure how we got here, and we have no idea what this fellowship thing is about. Truthfully, we just want to go home." Willow nodded her head in agreement.
"I wish I could help you, but I cannot," Elrond regretfully informed them. "You see, a great evil has arisen in Middle Earth, and according to that prophecy, and a similar one here, you're here to help stop it. So you see, you cannot go home, at least not until you have finished your part in the quest."
"Did I ever mention," Willow whispered to Graham. "That I hate being part of prophecies?"
"That something that happens often?" The commando asked.
"You try being best friends with the Slayer and then you tell me."
"Before you two start in on each other again," Elrond interrupted good naturedly. "There will be a Grand Counsel tomorrow morning. I would like for the two of you to attend."
"Of course," Willow answered. "We'd be honored." She placed her hand over her heart.
"Wonderful," Elrond smiled at the girl. "Someone will show you to your rooms, dinner will be served in about an hour. You are invited to attend. Some clean clothing will be brought to you that would be more appropriate for such an occasion." Lord Elrond turned and left the two young humans, doing what they do best - arguing.
"So, are we going to this dinner?" Graham asked.
"I don't know about you, but I'm planning on it."
"So I guess that means that I have to go too."
"And why does it mean that?"
"Someone's got to make sure you don't do anything stupid."
"Stupid? You think I'm stupid?"
"I never said that."
The two continued their argument throughout the palace as they followed their host's servant to their rooms.
"All I can say is that I am going to be at the dinner. You can be there or not, I really don't care." Willow walked into her room and nearly slammed the door.
"Oh, you can bet I'm going to be there Rosenburg." Graham yelled at Willow's closed door then proceeded to slam his door shut as well.
They both leaned back against their doors, sighed, and thought,
Willow walked confidently into the dining hall, at least she looked more confident than she felt. She had no idea what to expect tonight, least of all from Graham. She shook her head to clear her mind as she continued her way into the room.
Graham sat at a table, facing the door, talking with Aragorn, Legolas, and Boromir. He had been keeping one eye on the door since he arrived.
"Why do you stare at the door?" Legolas asked Graham as he sat across from him.
"I traveled here with a female, and I just want to make sure that she is safe. I haven't seen her yet, and I'm beginning to worry."
"There is no need to worry here Graham," Aragorn, who sat next to Graham, placed a hand on his shoulder. "She will not be troubled here."
Graham snorted. "You don't understand. She'll most likely be the cause of the trouble." Graham told his new friends.
The four of them were laughing when she walked into the room. Graham's breath caught in his throat. The other three men, upon Graham's sudden silence, turned to see what he was staring at.
She was a vision, pure and simple. She wore a flowing, long white gown that clung to her in all the right places. In the fire and candlelight, she almost looked like she was glowing.
"She's beautiful," Boromir whispered.
"That she is, and more," Aragorn agreed with the other human.
"Her hair, it's like liquid flame," Legolas said.
Graham was silent. His three companion made mental notes of his change in demeanor.
Willow made her way to the table where sat four of the most gorgeous men she had ever laid eyes on. Willow appraised the four men. She had no idea that velvet could be so masculine and sexy. No one at the table spoke, they all just stared. Willow waved her hand in front of Graham's face.
"Aren't you going to introduce me to your new friends?" She asked sweetly.
Graham pulled himself out of his stupor, as did the other three.
"Sorry," Graham told her. "This is Aragorn, Legolas, and Boromir. They're here for the counsel tomorrow too."
"It's a pleasure to meet you all. May I join you, or is this a boys only table?" Willow teasingly asked.
"Please, join us," Aragorn said. All four men stood and offered Willow their seat. She smiled and thanked them, but walked around and took an unoccupied seat on the far end next to Boromir, who beamed even though he was receiving nasty glares from the others. Willow just smiled. She loved all the attention.
Soon, dinner was served. Willow and Graham asked lots of questions about Middle Earth, wanting to know as much as possible about this world they were about to help save. They learned about the Elves, of which Legolas was one, the dwarves, the hobbits, and also of the darker things such as orcs and one Dark Lord.
The food was wonderful. As soon as dinner was over, everyone moved into a large ballroom. There was singing and dancing. Willow had never had so many men ask her to dance. Graham finally got up the nerve to ask Willow for a dance.
"We ought to talk, Willow," Graham started.
"About what?" Willow was distracted by the feel of his strong arms around her.
"Seeing as we're going to be stuck on this strange world together, I think we ought to try to get along. We're going to need to trust each other, our lives and others' lives may depend on it."
"I agree. I think starting over is probably out of the question, but I think we could try to put the differences from our world aside. We can deal with them if and when we get back."
"Agreed. As of right now, the problems of our world don't exist."
"Agreed." Willow could feel the tears start to well up in her eyes when Graham said their world didn't exist. She knew he meant their problems, but it made her miss home. It made her wonder if she was ever going to be able to see her home again. She ducked her head further into his chest trying to hide the fact that she was crying.
"Willow, you're shaking. Are you alright?"
She nodded her head.
"No you're not, you're crying. What's wrong?" He wanted to pull her back and look her in the eyes, but that would've caused an even bigger scene, considering that everyone was staring at her to begin with. So he pulled her closer into him to try to shield her from the onlookers, and slowly danced them off to the side so that they could make their way outside.
Willow was silent as they danced toward the door, and as she let him lead her away from the masses to a private gazebo.
"Talk to me Rosenberg," Graham pleaded. "Tell me what's wrong."
"I miss home," She sobbed. "And I'm scared that we're never going to be able to get back."
"I know Berg. Me too." Graham held Willow tightly as she cried.
She had cried until she had no tears left to cry, then Graham led Willow back to her room. She was still dazed, but he had managed to avoid letting her be seen by curious onlookers. He made sure that she got inside alright before heading off to his room.
Neither of them ever mentioned the fact that hers weren't the only tears that had been shed in the gazebo that night.
The next day passed in a blur for both Willow and Graham. There had been so much to take in. A Grand Counsel had been called and after much debate, the Fellowship of the Ring had been formed. The Fellowship would accompany the Ring Bearer into Mordor to Mt. Doom to destroy the Ring.
The Ring Bearer was one Frodo Baggins, a Hobbit from the Shire. Also representing the Hobbits would be Samwise Gamgee, Peregrin Took, and Meriadoc Brandybuck. The Dwarves were sending Gimli son of Gloin, and for the Elves, Legolas Greenleaf of Mirkwood. The race of Men was represented by Boromir, eldest son of the Steward of Gondor. The Númenoreans, which was a race of Men with Elvish blood - Kings of Gondor, were present by way of Aragorn son of Arathorn. Gandalf the Grey was there for the Istari, the wizards. Plus, the two Humans not from Middle Earth.
The Fellowship set out early the following day. Gandalf was the unofficial leader of the Fellowship.
"We must hold our course West of the Misty Mountains for forty days. If our luck holds, the Gap of Rohan will still be open to us," Gandalf informed the group as they walked.
"Forty days? He's kidding right?" Graham asked the group in general.
"You wish," Willow retorted. Graham slowed so that he walked next to Willow.
"Do you always have to back talk me?"
"As a matter of fact, yes, I do."
"And why is that?"
"Someone needs to put you in your place."
"Oh really. And just what place is that?"
"You think you're all high and mighty just because you're in the Initiative. Well I've got news for you Soldier. I've been fighting demons and evil a lot longer than you have. And until you've killed as many demons and have stopped as my apocalypses as I have, I suggest you keep your mouth shut and keep marching."
"You? Killing demons? You make it sound as if you've been doing that all your life."
"Nope. Only since I was fifteen."
"Fifteen." Graham's argument was deflating fast.
"That's right Private Miller. I've been fighting side by side with the Slayer for nearly five years. And even she doesn't have any idea how good I've gotten."
"What do you mean, even she doesn't know."
"As much fun as this conversation isn't, how about we just go back to walking in uncomfortable silence. I think the rest of the Fellowship would appreciate it."
"Fine. But this isn't over." Graham stalked back up to his place in line.
"I was afraid of that," Willow mumbled to herself.
"Are you alright, my Lady?" Willow looked up to find she had been flanked by Aragorn on her right, and Legolas and Boromir on her left.
"Yeah, I'll be fine. And please, just call me Willow, or Wills." She rewarded them a sincere smile for their concern.
"He should not speak to you in such a manner," Boromir said.
"I agree, a Lady deserves more respect than that," Aragorn added. Legolas nodded.
"Graham's just under a lot of stress. As are we all. But you have to understand. Where Graham and I come from, we're supposed to hate each other."
"From the sound of it, you two do the same things - fight against demons. Why would you hate each other?" Legolas asked.
"We disagree on the how and why of it. He used the latest technology to capture the demons and study them. I used age-old ways, and sometimes magic, to destroy the evil. Anyway, it's no big deal. Arguing is what Graham and I do best. Look, don't worry about it. If it get's to the point that it needs to be dealt with, I'll take care of it."
The three guys around her just looked at her oddly for a moment then fell back to let Willow walk ahead of them.
"I think we need to talk to Graham about the appropriate way to treat a Lady," Boromir suggested.
"I agree, Boromir," Aragorn told them. "But when? The Lady Willow will be most upset if she found out."
"This is true," Legolas added. "But I'd rather her be upset with us than for her to be treated like that by him."
"I agree," Boromir said.
"As do I." Aragorn had an idea. "But she has asked us not to do anything, that she would take care of it. So, as much as I would like to take matters into my own hands, I suggest that, for now, we let the Lady Willow take care of it."
"Agreed," The other two said.
None of them saw the smile that graced Willow's face, now that she was aware of their wanting to protect her, thanks to her little eavesdropping spell.
"We'll stop here for lunch," Gandalf announced.
Willow looked around. They were on a cliff of sorts, a rocky cliff at that. But it would serve its purpose. The hobbits started to prepare lunch, since hobbits were such big fans of food they were unofficially dubbed the cooks for the journey.
Willow wandered over to a flat, open area so that she could look over the land below her. The land really was beautiful. If it wasn't for the impending apocalypse Willow was sure that she would enjoy Middle Earth very much. She was so wrapped up in her thoughts that she didn't hear Graham walk up next to her.
"What did you mean when you said that even the Slayer doesn't know how good you've gotten?" Graham asked quietly.
"That's none of your business," Willow retorted defensively.
"Ah, but you see, it is," getting testy.
"And how do you figure that?"
"I have to fight side by side with you, and I'd like to know if I'm going to have to spend my time saving your ass."
"The only ass that's going to need saving is yours."
"Last time I checked, I'm the one with all the training, not you."
"Then you might want to check again."
Without hesitating, Willow turned and swept Graham's legs out from underneath him. Graham landed on his back with a thud. Willow assumed a fighting stance. As Graham stood, Willow punched him square across the jaw sending him stumbling back a few steps.
Willow was vaguely aware that the others had gathered around to watch, especially who she like to mentally referred to as her boys - Aragorn, Boromir, and Legolas.
Graham was able to complete a leg sweep that landed Willow on her back. She instantly did a move that she learned from Buffy, she rolled her legs over her head, then flipped them forward so that she was standing. Graham actually took a step back, not expecting the move. Using his uncertainty to her advantage, she pressed on. She connected a side kick right in his stomach, doubling him over. She continued with an elbow to the back of his neck, leaving him sprawled on the ground.
Willow efficiently rolled Graham on to his back, and sat astride his chest, with her knees pinning his arms out to the side. She pulled her knife, that she had been given in Rivendell, to hold under his chin to order him to yield. Graham was somehow able to grab hold off her wrist to stop her, he was even trying to turn the knife into her gut.
"Spies from Dunland! Hide!!"
Using Willow's distraction, Graham grabbed both of her wrists lifting them above her head. He rolled them both under a large jutted rock. Graham had Willow's body tucked under his with her arms pinned above her head.
Willow's heart was pounding, her breathing ragged. She was sure it was from either the fight or the spies that were flying over head. There was no way that it could possibly be from being covered with Graham's hard body, or the fact that his lips were mere inches from hers. His bright blue eyes pierced her emerald green eyes, boring into her very soul. If she moved her head forward in the least, their lips would touch. All Willow could hear was her heart pounding in her ears and her ragged breaths. She could feel his heart pounding, they were pressed so close together. She noticed that his breathing was as uneven as hers.
Graham risked a glance to her ruby lips, just as her tongue slid out to wet them. Oh, how he wanted to taste her lips. She was his match, in every way. He knew it. He'd guessed it earlier, but after the fight, he knew it. There was no denying to himself that he wanted this red-head that was under him. But, he'd never tell her that. There was no way that this Fire Goddess could ever want him, not after the way that he'd treated her. But if he didn't get off of her body soon, she was going to know exactly how much he wanted her.
But those lips, they were so inviting. And she kept her eyes fixed on his. Graham finally got up the nerve to close the minuscule gap between his lips and hers. He lowered his head. He watched as her eyes closed in silent anticipation. He closed his eyes.
"It's clear. Come out!"
Graham jerked his head up so fast, that he almost knocked it on the rock above him. He quickly rolled off of Willow and out from under the rock. He turned to watch Willow roll out from under the rock, then offered to help her up. She refused and turned to make her way to the others.
"The passage south is being watched," Gandalf informed them.
"Then where will we go?" Pippin asked.
"We must attempt the Pass of Caradhras."
"What's Caradhras?" Willow asked, dreading the answer.
Gandalf turned and pointed behind him. It was the largest, most snow-covered mountain Willow had ever seen.
She mumbled to herself as the Fellowship set off, "I had to ask."