Title: In-between

Author: tarotgal

Fandom: Lord of the Rings, post RotK

Rating: PG13

Pairing: Gimli/Legolas

Disclaimer: I don't own the boys. Wish I did. Though I'd probably just do this with them if I did anyway. But I don't get paid or anything for this. You know, typical disclaimer stuff. It all applies.

Summary: After Legolas gets sick, he and Gimli have a discussion about why and what they should do about it.

Notes: Blame Lady Korana for planting the inspiration for this one in one of her LJ posts to me tonight, about Legolas getting a cold after going through the mines :-)





     "Oh I didn't mean it like that!" he protested. "It's not that I don't love staying with you here," Legolas said, his words following Gimli as the dwarf slipped out from their nest of blankets and walked across the small, dark room. Sitting up on the bed, Legolas leaned forward, as though trying to get closer to the dwarf without actually summoning the strength and will to get out of the warm bed. He intended to call out to Gimli and ask him to get back in bed. Not only did he want to further explain himself, after the dwarf's initial incorrect assumption, but he was already missing the warmth Gimli's body brought to the bed. But he brought his hand up to his face instead, letting it hover a moment as he drew in a breath. Then he pressed the back of his hand against the bottom of his nose. "ahKshhhh! Kuhshhh!" He fell forward fluidly, long hair falling over his shoulders, framing his face.


     "I know," the dwarf said, sounding both a bit frustrated and a bit sympathetic. Gimli sighed and took the two goblets from the table. Then he cocked his head as he turned, looking back at Legolas as the elf sniffled and rubbed his hand at his nose. "It's just that every time you stay here, you end up catching cold."


     Rubbing the back of his hand beneath his nose still, Legolas nodded weakly.


     Gimli smirked and returned, the torch light dancing upon his bare skin as he walked across the otherwise dark underground room. He sat down on the bed, handing one of the goblets over to Legolas.


     Legolas took a drink, then lowered the goblet, still sniffling. For as many times as this had happened, he never seemed to remember to bring a handkerchief along with him. "Elves were not meant to stay underground so long in the cold and damp," Legolas rationalized. "Even with the fires and the gentle dwarf to comfort me, I still... I..." His eyes narrowed and he lifted his arm, this time burying his nose in the crook of his elbow. "ahhKShhhhh!"


     "Yes you do," Gimli agreed, deciding that the sneeze finished his statement better than anything else could have. "Which leads me to believe that... perhaps..." he looked down at his goblet, the warm liquid circling around as he turned it in his hand. He found that, while he had the courage to say it when he looked down at the cup, he really wanted to look up into Legolas' eyes as he finished. With a deep breath, he looked up and blurted out, "That perhaps I should go live with you in Ithilien."


     Something in the way of confusion registered briefly in Legolas eyes. "Gimli, I could never ask such a thing of you. To leave the Glittering Caves and your people to live amongst the elves in the forests?"


      "To live with you," Gimli emphasized. He took up Legolas' hand awkwardly in his own smaller, rough hands.


     Legolas let the idea sink in for a moment before he even dared reply. It was not as though they had not talked about this a number of times before. First when they were living together in Minas Tirith, and then later when they each found comfort from their own people and made frequent trips to and fro to see each other. And while the journeys were not long and hard, their frequency had increased drastically lately to the point where another of these conversations needed to be entertained.


     Legolas pulled his hand from Gimli's, looking apologetic. He cupped both hands to his face, leaning forward with a hard breath out. "uhhh..." He rocked in place, waiting for the urge to strike fully. His breath was warm against his hands and he closed his eyes to concentrate on the sneeze. "ihhh-KShhh! Kuhshhhh! KChhhhh!" After the sneezes, he opened his eyes and sniffed hard a few times.


     "Galu," Gimli said softly. The elvish word did not come easily to his tongue, but Legolas appreciated its sound nonetheless and all the effort behind it. He nodded his appreciation and shivered. "You must be chilled," Gimli observed. He gathered up one of the smaller blankets and wrapped it around Legolas' bare torso. "Don't know what I was thinking letting you sit here naked as a newborn elfling in this cold place," he muttered, pulling Legolas' hair out from beneath the blanket at his neck and tightening it around the elf.


     "You were thinking that it is much more fun making love to me without my clothes on," Legolas said with a smile. "And after the time we just had, I'm inclined to agree on that matter whole-heartedly." His hand and goblet emerged from beneath the blanket and he took another drink or two, tipping the goblet and draining it. Gimli took it back from him, then set both his and Legolas' to the side.


     Legolas raised his arm, taking the blanket with it, gesturing towards his lap. Gimli grinned. He was quite at home in the cold, dank caves and needed torches for nothing more than light. But he would not refuse a snuggle with his elf when invited, cold or not. He crawled up onto the bed and into Legolas' lap and arms. Legolas lay his head sideways on top of Gimli's head, the perfect height for it when they sat this way. Gimli leaned sideways against Legolas' chest, his legs outstretched along the bed beneath the blanket. His hand gently stroked the elf's chest, taking in his breathing and his heartbeat, stroking to soothe the elf. He knew well what it was like to feel ill far from home and one's own bed. All he wanted was for Legolas to be comfortable and content. And if that meant living in the forests of Ithilien he was more than prepared for that sacrifice. Even if it meant leaving his home and lordship over the beautiful glittering caves and all the secrets they held.


     Gimli heard and felt Legolas' breath quicken. "Going to sneeze again?" he asked.


     Legolas' body was already tensing up and swaying a bit. Legolas nodded, his chin bumping the top of Gimli's head, one of his hands leaving Gimli's side to hover halfway to his face. He breathed out heavily, feeling the sensation rushing through him on all levels. His skin crawled with the urge, his eyes strained, his nose twitched. He stuck his tongue out just a little, letting it rest against his bottom lip, determined to make its job easier. "ihhhh... hihhh..." With each breath in his chest rose more and more. And with each breath out, not quite as much air managed to escape. Then the breaths changed to gasps and the look of intense concentration on his face changed to one of recognition and anticipation. "heh-KIHShhhhhhh! Ketchhhh! Kshhhh! ahhKshuhhhh!" He rocked in place, losing his grip on Gimli from the strong sneezes. He sniffled miserably as he straightened up, rubbing at his nose.


     Gimli reached up, straining his neck, and kissed Legolas' cheek, then his nose. Legolas' nose wiggled again at the tickley, itchy sensations the kiss caused, but the elf smiled around this. "Galu," he said again. Then he pulled the blanket back around them both, holding the ends closed to keep the warmth in. He knew they should really bathe and dress for bed, but Gimli was not in a hurry to leave this moment behind just yet.


     "Thank you," Legolas whispered back, smiling mildly. With all the sex, snuggling, and sneezing, he was beginning to feel a bit tired and longed for a bit of sleep that he would not normally need at all. He hugged the bushy-haired dwarf in his arms for a few minutes more, lost in the moment.


     Then Legolas spoke, soft and unemotional. "I would not ask you to give up your home here, my friend."


     "You are not asking. I am volunteering," he replied quickly. "It pains me to see you suffer so on your visits here. You are right. Elves were not made to live in cold, dark, damp caves."


     Legolas shook his head. "But dwarves were not made to live up in trees, where the sun is hot against the skin and a storm's touch cannot be ignored." Just another difficulty standing in the way of an elf and dwarf trying to be together.


     "I would endure it for you," Gimli insisted. "I would learn to be happy anywhere if I could stay by your side. You are what comforts me, not the dark or the caves."


     To this, Legolas had no reply but a deep sigh. Likewise, he would follow the dwarf anywhere  and be comfortable so long as they were together. Through battles, through hardships, through trials, it mattered not. And though sex and snuggling were certainly preferable to dying in battle, he would choose to die beside his friend if given the chance simply for the calm in his heart it would bring to be close even in that. However, he knew that before too long, no matter how content Gimli was, the dwarf would soon long for the sights of rocks and caverns. Just as he longed for the sea and the land that lay beyond it.


     "There seems to be but one solution then," Legolas said plainly. "And that is to find somewhere in the middle to live. Somewhere where I can have the trees dancing in the morning light and birds' songs to wake me. And where you can have the rocks of caves and the darkness to draw from." Legolas held back a fierce yawn as best he could with his eyes closed and his teeth clenched. But it showed in his face and his body, for Gimli was still against his chest and listening to his breathing.


     Without words, Gimli broke away from Legolas' hold and eased the elf down on the bed. Then he crawled beneath the covers and tangled them around the two of them. He lay on his back, and Legolas set his head on Gimli's chest and shoulder, settling into that comfortable position between Gimli's hugging arm and his strong body. Legolas nuzzled his soft face into Gimli's beard as the dwarf's finger traced the curves and sharp point of his ear. "Do you really think such a place exists?" Gimli asked, feeling the elf relax against him.


     "I do not know," Legolas replied truthfully. "But I mean to search with you for it for as long as it takes. That would make me happy." He closed his eyes under his body's orders. It begged for sleep. And with his face in Gimli's beard, it appeared like night outside to him, rather than a cave with torches lit upon all the walls. Plus the deep scent of the dwarf which filled his beard was familiar and soothing.


     "Aye... that would make me happy," Gimli agreed. He kissed the top of Legolas' head, and then ran his hand through the long blond hair, combing and pulling it back neatly.


     Legolas tensed up, his fingers flexing against Gimli's bare chest as though wanting to grab at something. Gimli's hand patted gently on his head. "Go ahead and sneeze, Love," he reassured him.


     Legolas nodded in appreciation, then cupped his hand over his nose and mouth. "ihh-HIHShhhh! Kshhhh!" Gimli's arm was tight around his shoulders, keeping him steady. He kissed the top of Legolas' head again and continued to pet gently. Legolas smiled and closed his eyes again in contentment. It really wasn't so bad to catch cold on every visit to the caves. Not when he got attention like this. And nothing was so bad so long as Gimli was there.


     "Nice thing about sleeping like this..." Gimli whispered, seeing that Legolas was already starting to drift off to sleep.


     Legolas' smile became more defined on his gentle lips. "Since we are already undressed we can save time in the morning when we want to make love?"


     The sound of Gimli's hearty chuckle told Legolas he had guessed correctly. "Get some sleep," Gimli said, his smile showing through in his voice. "A good sleep will help your cold." He tapped Legolas' nose and hugged Legolas closer, settling in for the night. Legolas gave a soft sigh and hugged Gimli back before drifting off, sure that his dreams would not be nearly as pleasant and comforting as what he had when he was awake, no matter where they were.