Challenge Accepted

By Tricia


Aragorn was in love, but he wasn't a fool.

He stood beside the single window in Legolas' room and looked out upon the waterfalls and the darkness of night and he wondered. He wondered why Legolas had escaped to that darkness when he thought Aragorn asleep. Where had he gone? What was he doing? Worst of all -- who was he with? They were questions to which Aragorn feared the answers.

Something had changed in his relationship with Legolas, something so seemingly inconsequential that perhaps even the Elf was not consciously aware of it. But it was there. It stood between them like a bridge that needed crossing. To remain on this side was to dwell in ennui. To cross over it was a step Aragorn was not sure he was ready to take.

Coward, his inner voice mocked. You have led Men to war and yet you hesitate in this? Ah, but Aragorn knew well that in matters of the heart he would prefer to face down Death than bare himself to the ravages of heartache.

He forced himself to leave the room, telling himself he'd walk the halls until Legolas returned. But when more time passed with no sign of the Elf, he found himself outside, heading towards the waterfalls. To where he'd known his lover would be all along.

Legolas did not return his love. Aragorn knew that. He refused to delude himself that Legolas felt anything more than a strong affection for him. Aragorn had long pondered the ways to change that. But always it had come down to one truth: Legolas was an Elf and he was a Man. Legolas, fairest of all beings, could have his choice of any. That he had chosen to share his body with Aragorn was nothing less than a miracle.

Unfortunately, miracles were fleeting and Aragorn lived with the constant fear that one day Legolas would leave him. Aragorn knew it was inevitable, but he hoped to postpone it for as long as possible. That meant not presuming too much. Not possessing. Not coveting what wasn't his to covet. It meant, in essence, accepting that what Legolas gave him was all that Aragorn was allowed.

His path led him to a bridge so near the waterfalls that condensation dripped from its railings. The sound of his lover's voice nearby sent a momentary thrill through his body. Raised amongst the Elves, he knew how to creep forward without being heard. He followed the voices until he could get no closer. He stood, shaded by darkness, his view unemcumbered.

Somewhere in his heart he had known it would be Haldir. The Lorien Elf had appraised Legolas as an eagle would his prey. More than once the Man had caught the Elf staring at Legolas with naked hunger. Each time, Haldir had acknowledged Aragorn with a nod of his head and unconcealed arrogance upon his face. It was as if Haldir knew what Aragorn didn't. As though the Elf had known it was only a matter of time before he lured Legolas away from the bed he and Aragorn had shared for so long.

The Man stood silently, unable to hear the Elves' exchange but not really needing to. Moisture collected on his brow. His clothes grew damp and chill. He noticed none of this. In the hour that followed, his world turned askew. His initial shock was great. It gave way to an equally powerful anger. How dare Legolas throw away all that they had? The urge for violence was engulfing.

Yet as he continued to watch his lover with another, even anger faded to resignation. Though he did not want to, Aragorn realized Legolas was merely a victim of his own passion. The Man found small comfort in the knowledge that this seduction was purely one-sided. If it were not for Haldir's aggressiveness, the tableau unfolding before Aragorn might never have happened.

Except that it had.

When Legolas at last collapsed atop the other Elf, lying still as Haldir unbound his hands, Aragorn backed away, a maelstrom of emotions whirling through his heart. He returned to the main building in a daze.

Had the entire world changed? Or only his? He had thought he alone knew the secrets of Legolas' heart, but tonight had proved him wrong. Haldir had challenged Aragorn without the Man even knowing it. More importantly, the Elf had won.

He stripped in the darkness of Legolas' room and slid beneath the sheets. He stared up at the ceiling, prepared to wait. What little he did know of Legolas was that the Elf would bathe in the river before returning to the room. Legolas would not want Haldir's scent upon him for Aragorn to question.

So many thoughts flew through his head that scant minutes seemed to pass before the door eased open and a slender figure slipped into the room. Aragorn shut his eyes, forcing his body to relax. He had been right--Legolas smelled of nothing but himself when he eased into the bed and covered himself with the sheet.

Aragorn listened to him breathe, felt the Elf's familiar warmth along his side, and moisture gathered beneath his tightly clenched eyelids. Why? he wanted to shout, to the world, to anyone who would listen. Why betray me when I have given you so much? A hesitant touch upon his shoulder made him open his eyes and blink back the emotion.

"Aragorn, do you sleep?"

Legolas' voice was strange, choked. Aragorn turned his head on the pillow, regarding the Elf curiously. The wide Elven eyes were pools of liquid. As the Man watched, a glistening trickle of tears spilled over the lashes and down the curve of one cheek. Aragorn lifted a finger to the wetness, stunned.

"I have never seen you shed tears before," he murmured, his fingertip tracing the moisture.

"Aragorn," Legolas whispered brokenly, "Aragorn, there is something I must tell you."

Suddenly, his lover's confession was the last thing Aragorn wanted to hear. He covered Legolas' mouth with his palm. "Say nothing!" he whispered back harshly. The Elf's eyes were bright above his hand. "Tell me nothing, Legolas. Just--just let me love you."

More tears spilled from the corners of Legolas' eyes as Aragorn removed his hand and replaced it with his mouth. Their kiss tasted of salt and the sweetness that was Legolas' alone. Aragorn felt wetness upon his own face and knew that he, too, was crying. He rubbed their cheeks together, sharing their pain. He held Legolas' hand when the Elf would touch him.

"Aragorn, please," Legolas protested. "I must speak with you. I have done something unforgivable."

Aragorn shook his head, almost desperately. You do not understand, he wanted to tell the Elf. It is enough that you would admit it. I do not need to hear the words.

"I must, I must -- ah, no..."

Legolas' words collapsed into a moan as Aragorn's hand found him beneath the sheets. "No, Aragorn--" he sighed, before desire stole the last conscious thought remaining him. Aragorn leaned above him, watching the Elf's head thrash upon the pillows as passion undid him. Legolas never looked so beautiful as when he found his pleasure in the Man's hands. A sudden, blinding jealousy flared through Aragorn. Haldir may have had Legolas once, but he would not again.

Legolas shuddered within his hand, the brown eyes locking with blue at the moment of release. For the first time, Aragorn thought he saw more than just affection in the brown eyes. He saw sorrow and regret there, yes. But something more... Legolas blinked. Whatever had been there was gone. Sadly, in the darkness, it could have been anything.

Aragorn pulled the slender Elf into his arms and rested his chin on the soft pale hair. Legolas buried his face against him. You are mine, Aragorn thought fiercely. You will never know the touch of another while I yet live.


It was proof of Legolas' exhausting night that Aragorn awoke before him and was able to dress without his lover stirring. Aragorn stood by the side of the bed and studied the Elf. *His* Elf. Legolas lay with his arm thrown wearily across his forehead. Fading red lines marred the upturned wrist. Aragorn's mouth thinned as he remembered the source of those marks. Clenching his fist, he left without a sound.

He avoided the banquet hall where the others would be having breakfast. He was in no mood for company this morning. Passing through the kitchen, he grabbed an apple and a chunk of bread and headed for his favorite bench overlooking the river.

It was a beautiful day. The weather was fair. A shimmering rainbow arced above the falls. But to his regret, Aragorn could appreciate none of it. His thoughts were dark and desperate. He was losing Legolas. He did not know how to stop it.

How to catch and hold something as ephemeral as an Elf? Did you cup your hands, as Aragorn had done, and allow for freedom, hope for trust? Or must you clench your fist in denial and hold tight against escape? Either option did not hold appeal.

A sound he did not expect to hear broke into his musings. He brushed the last crumbs of his meal from his lap and stood, looking about him. Curious, he followed the sounds of swordplay.

He came upon Haldir and his brothers, engaged in a mock sword fight. Something dark stirred within Aragorn then. A sudden need for redress pushed him forward. The brothers saw him first, their welcoming words fading, unspoken, as they read the unpleasant smile upon his face. Haldir was last to turn, his sword drawing a line in the dirt as he faced the approaching Man.

To his credit, the Elf's face revealed nothing. "Aragorn, good morning. How fare you this fine day?"

The urge to throttle the handsome Elf was nearly overpowering. Aragorn motioned towards their swords. "I have come to issue challenge, Haldir of Lorien."

A look of understanding broke over the other's face. Haldir's smile tipped just a little higher. "Indeed? I fear that I am no match for you, Aragorn. The fight will be quick and unsatisfactory."

Would that it were to the death, Aragorn thought to himself. Deceptively calm in the face of Haldir's cockiness, Aragorn shrugged. "You have had time to warm up and I have not. Perhaps that will even the odds a bit. Though I doubt that you need it."

"You flatter me. Surely my skills are inferior to your own." The Elf's grin held innuendo. "Or so I have been told."

Aragorn's vision went red for the briefest of moments. A hundred images of Legolas and Haldir together flashed through his mind. His fingernails drew blood in his palms. "Lend me a sword," he demanded of the brothers, uncaring of the fury that leaked through the

words.After a nod from Haldir, Rumil hesitantly presented the hilt of his sword to Aragorn. The Man hefted it and took a few practice swings to gauge the weight. Satisfied, he faced Haldir across the dirt.

"What are the stakes?" the Elf asked with feigned innocence.

Aragorn's smile was a thin blade. "I think you know as well as I."

Haldir's returning smile was triumphant. "So we are agreed. Excellent. Let us begin."

The first clashes of their swords were tentative as each attempted to feel the other out. Haldir danced forward and back on light feet, his sword tip circling. Aragorn was patient. Though he wanted nothing better than to run the Elf through, he waited for the arrogant creature to come to him.

"You are a dull swordsman," Haldir taunted, making a quick jab then swiftly darting backwards. "Where is the passion of your forefathers, Aragorn of Arathorn?"

"I do not spend myself so easily," Aragorn replied smoothly. "Perhaps you should practice the same."

Haldir gave a burst of laughter. "Well said." He ducked under Aragorn's guard and tried to stab the Man's gut. Aragorn easily fended off the blade and attempted his own riposte. Haldir knocked the stroke aside.

"How very like a Man to challenge me this way. Does he approve of this defense of his honor?"

Aragorn ignored him. He swung his blade in a high arc that would have sliced the ties from the Elf's tunic had he moved a second slower.

"If it is any consolation," Haldir continued, slightly breathless now, "I don't think he enjoyed himself as much as he could have. A pity, but I think he was distracted by thoughts of you."

"Say one more word about him," Aragorn warned in a voice like sharpened steel, "and I will draw more than first blood from you, Haldir."

A shadow of unease darkened the Elf's fair face. "You do not play at games," he stated.

Aragorn bared his teeth. "I do not."

Haldir's gaiety fell away. "Then let us fight. I, too, have an interest in winning."

The sounds of metal striking metal was bitter discord. Aragorn fought with deadly intent, his strokes precise. To him, Haldir was little more than a rabbit that needed to be pinned down. He moved carefully, deftly avoiding the quicker Elf's slashing strokes, returning his own whenever Haldir left an opening.

The Elf was an experienced fighter. Haldir recognized the differences in their fighting styles and attempted to use his speed to advantage. He combined his movements, spinning and slashing to get beneath the Man's guard.

They were well matched. Perhaps too much so. Though both fighters breathed with effort and wore the sweat of their efforts, neither had gotten close enough to make the first strike. Haldir jumped forward, his sword held at an angle. Aragorn brought his arm up, meeting the blade with a shock he felt in his shoulder.

"What is going on?"

Legolas' icy demand momentarily distracted Aragorn. He fell back as his opponent's sword tip sneaked past his guard, nearly slicing his cheek.

"Princeling!" Haldir called out, delighted. "You have appeared at the most opportune moment. Our gracious host has issued a challenge of honor. It appears that he is attempting to defend yours."

Aragorn wished that he could see Legolas' face. But with his back turned and Haldir before him, he was unable.

"And do you know what I am fighting for?" Haldir continued, uncaring that he did not receive a response, "I am fighting for the opportunity to enjoy your company yet again."

Legolas gasped but Aragorn barely heard him. Haldir had gone too far. Aragorn was done with patience. He had been trained to fight at Rivendell with the Elves. He knew their style, though Haldir had forgotten this. When the Elf attempted a move Aragorn knew well, the Man took advantage. Parrying the jab, Aragorn spun and rushed towards the Elf's unprotected side. Halir brought up his sword too late. Aragorn's blade was at his throat.

Gray eyes glittered, a trace of fear limning their rims. "You have me at a disadvantage," Haldir acknowledged. "First blood is yours."

"Not yet," Aragorn hissed. He leaned forward, pressing the blade just a little farther into the fair skin. "I would have my satisfaction, Haldir, for the wrong you have done Legolas and me."

"Aragorn, stop!"

The Man shook off Legolas' hand, his eyes boring into Haldir's above the sword. A bead of blood welled along the Elf's neck where the blade cut into him. "Say it," Aragorn ground out.

Haldir swallowed, wincing as the movement pushed his throat against the sword. "You win. I concede." Despite his situation, a self-deprecating smile tugged at his lips. "He is yours."

"You are both fools!"

Aragorn looked over his shoulder, caught aback by the violence in Legolas' voice. The Elf's face was flush with color, the brown eyes blazing. "I am not a trophy to be fought over!" he snapped angrily. "I do not belong to either of you."

Aragorn dropped the sword and extended his hand. "Legolas, wait--"

But the Elf would not listen. Swift as a deer, he shot towards the forest. Aragorn hesitated, then pushed away from Haldir and charged after Legolas.

Aragorn knew he could not hope to catch the Elf. He wanted only to keep Legolas in sight. He was quite prepared to run into the night if that was what it took before Legolas slowed. Fortunately for the Man, Legolas did not extend their chase. Aragorn saw him slow to a walk, the Elf's bent head shining in the sunlight that filtered through the treetops like a mosaic.

Aragorn did not slow his pace at all. He came up swiftly behind the Elf. Legolas turned in alarm. The Man crashed bodily into him, knocking them both to the moss-covered ground.

Legolas twisted beneath him until he was face up on the ground. "What are you doing?" he demanded, trying to push the larger body off of him.

"Do not ever run from me again!" Aragorn told him angrily.

Defiance made the Elf's face flush. "Do not tell me what to do," he retorted. "You do not own me, though you and Haldir would fight over me like livestock."

"Haldir owned you last night," Aragorn said quietly, his eyes narrowed.

The Elf drew still beneath him, the brown eyes unblinking. "I did not ask him to," Legolas said in a voice bereft of emotion.

Sadness swept through Aragorn. "Nay, you never ask, do you? And therein lies my fault." He buried his hands in the thickness of the Elf's hair. "For so long I have been afraid to take what I want from you, Legolas, for fear of driving you away. But that is what you want, isn't it? To be taken. To be held. To be owned by another."

Legolas shook his head mutely, but Aragorn read the need in his eyes. The Man bent his head and brushed his lips across the Elf's brow. "You do not want to ask. I will not make you. Yet."

"I know not of what you speak," Legolas argued, shivering slightly as Aragorn trailed his lips down the side of the Elf's face. "Always, you have been good to me. You have loved me with the utmost tenderness."

Aragorn laughed against the fair skin. "Tell me you do not want more and I would call you a liar. You are passionate, Legolas. I have yearned to taste that passion but been fettered by my fears." He lightly bit the curve of the Elf's ear. "Well, I am restrained no longer. I have grown weary of my impotence. I think it is time I took control."

"Control..." Legolas echoed faintly, closing his eyes as Aragorn licked the tip of his ear. "Yes."

"Yes," Aragorn agreed huskily. His tongue traced a winding trail along the Elf's sensitive neck. "I am taking control of everything that you feel from now on, Legolas. All the pleasure, all the pain --" he blew air across the moistened skin "--you will feel what *I* want you to. *When* I want you to. And when you find your release, it will be because I alone allowed it."

Legolas moaned at the words, his aroused body shifting suggestively beneath Aragorn's. Aragorn had to fight for control as the motion brought their erections together. For the first time since they had become lovers, Aragorn thrust against the Elf in a blatant demand for what he wanted. Always before it had been the Man who succumbed, the fear of scaring Legolas off preventing Aragorn from airing his desires. Not anymore. Aragorn wanted Legolas in the most primal way possible.

"I know you are not untouched," he murmured, pulling back slightly to look into his lover's eyes. Aragorn saw the flash of guilt there, but no longer cared about what had passed between the Elves. "I want to push my way inside you, Legolas. I want to bury myself so deeply in you that you forget you have ever felt another."

Legolas' eyes turned black with desire. His lips parted. "Yes, Aragorn. I want to know what that feels like. What *you* feel

like."Sliding off the slender body, Aragorn propped himself on an elbow and eyed the the Elf laid out before him. The possiblities were tantalizing and too numerous. Aragorn settled with pushing his hand beneath the Elf's tunic so that his palm could glide over the muscled plane of stomach.

Legolas sucked in his breath slightly as the Man's large hand spanned his ribcage on a slow course of exploration. Aragorn watched his lover's face, enjoying and taking careful note of the flickering reactions that panned over the Elf's face. Before, Aragorn's touch had been reverent, almost grateful. Now, he mapped Legolas' body possessively, measuring all that was his.

His fingers found the twin nubs, furled tight as pebbles. Aragorn gave in to his desire and pinched them hard. Legolas' reaction did not disappoint. The Elf arched up from the ground, surprise and pleasure warring on his face.

"So you like that?" Aragorn murmured, dipping his head to catch Legolas' mouth in a quick kiss. "There is so much for me to discover about you. It is as though this is our first time together."

Legolas' hand tangled in his hair, pulling him up. The brown eyes were wide and trusting. "Indeed, it is our first time in all but name."

Aragorn swallowed, unable to believe the emotion he thought he could read in the Elf's eyes. Thickly, he said, "Then allow me to be the first to show you what pleasure the two of us can create."

His hands left the hardened peaks, skirted chest and stomach to pause at the band of the Elf's leggings. When his mind urged restraint, Aragorn jerked the fabric down rebelliously. Legolas jumped, startled, but did not object as his arousal was freed from its confines.

Aragorn looked on the pulsing length with new eyes. Legolas truly was a beautiful creature. The urge was strong to worship at this ivory pillar. But instead, the Man curled his hand around the heated flesh and stroked slowly. Legolas moaned at the deliberateness of the touch, his hands clenching in the moss on either side of his body.

"Aragorn," the Elf panted, "let me feel your mouth."

The Man only smiled. "You forget how it is between us. You have no say in how you find your pleasure. That is up to me."

Legolas glared at him balefully, until Aragorn's stroke forced him to clench his eyes in sweet misery. The Man watched him intently, his own desire growing painfully tight as he saw how Legolas neared his peak. As pearls of liquid slickened the tip of the Elf's erection, Aragorn decided Legolas had had enough. Aragorn stroked him hard once, twice, then abruptly released him.

"No!" Legolas' cry was desperate, his body bending around his unsated desire. His hands flew to his straining length, but Aragorn knocked them away.

"No pleasure unless *I* allow it," Aragorn reminded him silkily.

Anger, frustration, desire -- the peculiar mix of emotions turned Legolas' face a tortured mask. Satisfied that he had controlled the Elf, Aragorn ran his fingers over the shining head of the Elf's erection. He coated his fingers thickly in the glistening essence before pushing his hand between Legolas' thighs, seeking the entrance hidden there.

Aragorn felt himself harden further as his finger pressed against the tight ring of flesh. Using the Elf's own moisture to lubricate him, Aragorn slid a thick finger into the clenching heat. Legolas was tense, still unused to this particular invasion. Aragorn found his resistance uncomfortably arousing.

With care, he inserted a second finger, widening the opening that would not relax. His fingers caressed the tight flesh, probing for the spot that would bring Legolas under his control. With a victorious smile, Aragorn found it. Legolas bucked, gasping his name.

"Did you know," Aragorn purred, stroking his fingers back and forth over the heart of the Elf's pleasure, "that I can undo you this way without laying further hand upon you? I think that I would like to see that."

"Aragorn, no," the Elf protested weakly. "I beg of you, don't tease me this way."

The Man kissed aside his objection. "Shhh," he murmured against the anguish-bitten lips. "There is much to come. Do not think I would cast aside my pleasure in taking you with my body. For now, just feel, Legolas. Enjoy this."

A possessive smile was upon Aragorn's face as he watched Legolas crumble beneath his touch. With each swirl of his fingers, the Elf shuddered in pleasure, short, harsh cries breaking from his lips. To Aragorn's hungry eyes, Legolas was a sensual feast. The Elf's long pale hair clung wantonly to his sweat-sheened forehead. A rosy bloom brightened the high cheekbones, contrasting with eyes whose pupils had dilated to midnight black. Unconsciously, Legolas's tongue darted out, licking his lips at each stroke of his pleasure. Aragorn wanted to devour him.

As Legolas unwound a little more, Aragorn changed his plans. The Elf cried out gratefully as Aragorn shoved his own breeches down and lifted his body over his lover's.

"I cannot wait," Aragorn panted, sliding his fingers from the tight enclosure and replacing them with the tip of his swollen member. "I must be inside you or I will die."

"Yes!" Legolas whimpered, clutching frantically at the Man's buttocks.

The unfamiliar touch goaded Aragorn to thrust forward, hard. He experienced a moment of regret as his haste brought a cry of pain to Legolas' lips. Aragorn paused, his length twitching within the tight passage. He bent his head and slid his tongue along the seam of Legolas' lips, urging them open. Around a shuddery sigh, Legolas admitted him.

Aragorn plunged his tongue inside, mimicking what his body longed to do. The motion was erotic and soon, Legolas responded. The extreme tightness around Aragorn relaxed enough to allow him to slide backwards. With his tongue still in the Elf's mouth, he pushed his hips forward once again. Their moans of mutual pleasure blended between their lips.

Aragorn moved within Legolas with care, building their pleasure with maddening leisure. He kissed every inch of the Elf's face, suckled at the skin of his neck and shoulder. Eyeing the pale column of Legolas' throat, Aragorn's smile turned wicked. He pressed his lips to the fair skin and sucked until Legolas squirmed at the pain.

"What are you doing?" the Elf panted, groaning as his desire mounted.

Studying the mark he had left upon the pale skin with satisfaction, Aragorn replied, "I am branding you, Legolas. Let no one question now that you are mine."

"Ah, gods," Legolas breathed, his eyelids lowering, "when you say that..."

"'Tis nothing but the truth," Aragorn said simply.

He flexed his hips to prove it. Legolas could not deny him. The Elf was his.

Aragorn pushed into the welcoming heat, losing himself to sensation. Legolas' body began to tighten around the Man, his hands clutching at Aragorn's shoulder. Nearing his own breaking point, the Man recognized the Elf's state. Dropping his shoulders so that he lay fully upon his lover, Aragorn drove his body deeper into Legolas'. The Elf held him almost helplessly, his eyes unfocused and

dark."You may come now," Aragorn whispered. Legolas moaned.

The Man kissed him fiercely as the flesh rippled around him. Legolas cried out, his head thrown back against the moss. Silver liquid spilled warm between them. Aragorn drank in the sight of him and could not help himself. He jerked forward, shuddering, as his life's essence passed forth into Legolas. Gasping for breath, he collapsed onto the Elf's chest.

Legolas stroked his hair as Aragorn lay content, listening to the Elven heartbeat slow its tortured rhythm. "Thank you," the Elf said softly.

Struck by the odd comment, Aragorn raised himself to his elbows. He studied the fair face, youthful in afterglow, and felt the need to possess war with his desire to love. "You have never before surrendered to me in either your heart or your body," Aragorn said slowly.

Legolas met his eyes frankly. Aragorn forgot to breathe. At long last, love--not affection--blazed in the Elven depths. "Perhaps I have never surrendered to you because you have never asked," the Elf replied gently.

Aragorn pressed the Elf to him, possession and love finding concert within him. "Then I shall ask every day now for the rest of my life," he declared.

Legolas' response was fond. "Nothing would please me more."

The End

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