Elrond, along with most other citizens of Middle-earth, was not very interested in the parallel world, that place that called itself Twenty-First-Century Earth. There weren't any elves there, just humans and their silly machines. There weren't wizards either, nor Ents, nor hobbits, nor even any stupid dwarves to spice things up. Totally uninspiring place, in Elrond's opinion.
But his daughter Arwen, ever since cozying up to that hairy human, had been awfully soft on the idea of a world with nothing but Men. And so eventually she talked him into getting with the times and installing a bank of internet terminals in one of Rivendell's libraries, so they could have a look at what this world was up to.
And it wasn't long afterward that Meriadoc Brandybuck, who was learning to navigate this boring bunch of documents they called "the web", discovered something truly horrifying.
Merry shoved his chair back with a cry. Legolas, leaning against the shelves with a book, looked up. "What is it, Merry?"
Merry pointed a furious finger at the computer. "That--THAT--never happened!" he shouted. (In Rivendell they didn't have the same rules about not shouting in libraries as they have on Earth.)
Legolas closed his book and strolled over. He bent to read the screen. An alarmed look crossed his face. "My goodness. I should hope not," he said.
"Merry, what have you found?" asked Pippin, who was sitting in a window seat, looking at a book with Frodo.
Legolas sank into the chair beside Merry, gazing at the computer. "'Slash fiction archive'?" he murmured, puzzled.
"I was looking up my own name," Merry said, "you know, just for curiosity--and I found...I found..."
Legolas, still reading the screen, filled in, "A story in which Pippin and Merry are, er, 'tag-teaming' Samwise and Frodo."
Pippin leapt to his feet. "I BEG your pardon?" He dashed to the computer. Merry drew closer to it again.
Legolas shooed them away. "Get your own; there are nine others that nobody's using."
Merry rolled his chair to the next terminal and called up the web browser. Pippin hovered close to him. "See, Pip, I just typed in my name, like this--and down here, there it is--that's where I found it."
Sam appeared from between bookshelves and demanded, "Is someone makin' untrue allegations about us? I could've sworn I heard--"
"You did, Sam," Frodo said, smiling. "They've stumbled upon something called Slash Fiction."
Sam frowned, and went to another computer and sat down. "How do you read it?"
"Here Sam, try this." Pippin seized a scrap of paper and a charcoal pencil, and jotted down the web address. He pushed it across to Sam.
Sam set about trying to use the web browser. Boromir strolled up and showed him how to find the address.
"Well, it's fiction; they got that right," Legolas murmured. "Ai! King Elessar, you might be interested in this."
Aragorn, reading in another corner, looked up. "Are they writing of me as well?"
"Of you and of me," said the flustered Legolas. "Together. In...in LOTS of stories. I'm shocked! And angered--this is complete slander!"
Aragorn laughed and stood up. He came to look over Legolas's shoulder. "I could take that as an insult, my friend. I'm rather flattered, myself; a pretty thing like you."
Legolas glared at him.
Gimli emerged from the bookshelves, and climbed into another chair. "Arrgh!" he said after a moment. "ME and that arrow-twirling elf??"
"I assure you," Legolas said coldly, "I'm just as nauseated."
"They do know this never happened?" said Merry, who was still horrified.
"Of course, Merry, that's why it's called 'fiction,'" assured Pippin, who was reading another story with fascination. "But why 'slash'? What's that mean?"
"It means pairing two or more characters of the same sex together," piped up Frodo. "In an erotic or romantic situation. I believe it comes from the notion that the pairings are listed as the two names with a slash between them--Gimli-slash-Legolas, for instance."
The others in the room stopped and stared at him.
"I do a lot of reading," Frodo added, sheepishly.
"Hobbits never fail to surprise me," sighed Gandalf, from an armchair nearby.
"Mr. Frodo!" called Sam, his face the picture of revulsion, staring at the screen. "You--you ought to see the things they're saying about you!"
"Sounds like he's seen them already," Aragorn said.
"I haven't, actually," said Frodo. He set down the book and came over to Sam. "The ones I saw were about some little boy training to be a wizard in a place called Hogwarts. He was very popular with the writers, but much too young for my tastes. Move over, Sam."
Sam made room in the elf-sized chair for Frodo, who hopped up beside him.
Boromir moved to the next terminal and sat down, and began looking up more stories. "Hmm. Even you and me, Aragorn."
"Really? Why not Arwen and me?" Aragorn pondered, still reading over Legolas's shoulder. "That at least makes sense."
"Don't hover, Your Majesty," requested Legolas, somewhat tartly. Aragorn sat down at the next terminal and began to browse.
"They prefer same-sex pairings," Arwen said, entering the library with a cup of tea. "Read some of the ones about Eowyn and me, if you want a little thrill." She sat down on her husband's lap, gave him a sip of tea, and turned her attention to the screen.
"You and the Lady Eowyn? Kinky," murmured Aragorn, doing a quick search for that.
"You get in on the action, too, you lucky devil," Boromir told him, from his place across the table. "I found a three-way."
Sam tapped his fingernail on the monitor. "Oh now, see, Frodo, I'd never do that to you. Never."
"I know you wouldn't, Sam," Frodo assured. They read further. "Hmm," Frodo added a few seconds later. "But if you did, I might do THAT in return." Frodo looked at him and broke into a mischievous smile.
Sam blushed deeply and turned his eyes back to the computer. "Isn't nice to tease, sir," he muttered.
"All right," sighed Gandalf, "you've all piqued my curiosity." He got up and went to the nearest empty computer chair, and began perusing the archives.
"Not mine!" said Elrond, who had been standing near the doorway. "You're all a rather sick lot, if you ask me."
"But Daddy," Arwen said sweetly, "don't you want to know what you and Legolas supposedly do on those lonely late winter nights?"
"You--you--if you weren't a queen I'd lock you in a broom closet, you insolent tart!" sputtered Elrond. Arwen batted her eyelashes at her father.
"I think someone wrote a story about that," mused Aragorn. "Yes, here we go--the 'incest' section."
Legolas leaped to his feet. "Lord Elrond--I assure you I am equally disgusted--I would never, ever, not in ten thousand years--"
"Oh, shut up, Legolas!" retorted Elrond.
Legolas closed his mouth and sat back down in his chair. After a moment, his hand furtively crept back to the mouse and began clicking on new stories.
"Incest section," said Boromir. "I see. Faramir and I--hmm, that's a bit off-putting. But putting an elf woman between us--now THAT I can approve of."
"Ohhh, Merry!" said Pippin, enthralled. "Us two and those elf twins! Now that's a pretty picture."
"Pip, are you mad?" demanded Merry.
Pippin just shrugged one shoulder, gazing enraptured at the story. "Elves are the fairest; everyone knows that."
"And the easiest, to judge from these," added Gandalf.
Legolas and Elrond muttered angrily, but didn't speak up. Arwen giggled, and turned to kiss her husband.
"Hmm," said Frodo. "Gollum and myself. I can't say I'm fond of that pairing. Go back to the ones about you and me, Sam." He sent another sly grin at his companion.
Sam shook his head, but obeyed, miserably. "You oughtn't to read all these, Mr. Frodo."
"Me and hobbits?" laughed Boromir. "That's ridiculous! I'd crush you poor fellows."
"I may be sick," announced Elrond loudly.
"Doesn't anyone put me with a nice Shire girl?" Merry whined.
"You've nothing to complain about," said Frodo, eyes dancing with merriment. "I'm paired with everything in Middle-earth that walks. And even a few things that don't."
"So am I," said Legolas. "Ai! Surely I'm not THAT attractive."
"Oh, quit fishing for compliments," teased Aragorn, beside him.
"You really are rather fair when you're angry," commented Gimli, from across the table. "I hadn't noticed till now."
"Do you want an arrow through your skull?" retorted Legolas.
Gandalf clucked his tongue against his teeth as he read another story. "Now, really, Saruman and me? A century or two ago, perhaps, but at our age?"
"There are some things I could've lived without pondering, Mr. Gandalf," Sam said firmly.
"Mmm," commented Aragorn as he read the screen. "Would you really do that with Galadriel, my love?" His hand slid up Arwen's thigh. Elrond made a sound of disgust and turned away.
"If Celeborn would give me permission," she purred. They took a few moments to make out at their terminal.
"Well, we have a live show; why are we reading fiction?" remarked Boromir, grinning.
"Let's go...umm...rinse out this teacup," Arwen murmured to her husband.
"Indeed, yes...we must do that..." Aragorn closed the web browser, scooped up his wife in both arms, and strode out of the room with her.
The others watched them go, then turned back to their computers.
"I guess that's why people read these," mused Pippin. "Kind of puts you in a cuddly mood, doesn't it?"
"Please get away from me, Pip," requested Merry.
"Frodo," begged Sam, "Mr. Frodo, it's late. Stop reading these things and let me take you to bed."
Frodo, and everyone else, burst into snickers, even Legolas and Elrond.
Sam blushed even deeper. "That's not what I meant!"
"I know, Sam," laughed Frodo. "We're sorry. All right, I'll stop for the night." He clicked the browser shut, and slid out of the chair. "Now..." He gave Sam a sultry look, and undid the top button of his shirt. "Take me to bed, Samwise Gamgee."
Everyone (except Sam) exploded again in laughter. Sam sighed and got out of the chair, and began following Frodo toward the door. "I told you, you oughtn't read those."
"Oh, Lord Elrond?" called Frodo. "Do you have any slippery scented Elven oils we could borrow? Because, you see, Sam needs to give me a nice slow massage..."
Elrond gave him a strange look; all the others continued giggling.
"Be quiet!" said Sam. "Lord Elrond, I apologize for him..." He tried to shove Frodo out into the hallway.
Frodo resisted. "Wait! What about honey? Or jam, or whipped cream? Anything sweet that I can lick off his body will do. Can you send some to my room?"
"Goodnight, Master Frodo." Elrond smiled, tolerantly.
"Go!" hissed Sam, shoving Frodo to the door. "Sorry, everyone..."
"Oh Sam!" said Frodo theatrically, arms waving in the air. "I'm losing consciousness! I'm fainting! You shall have to undress me and bathe me all by yourself!"
Merry, Pippin, Boromir, and Gimli were lost in hilarity, wiping tears of laughter out of their eyes. Legolas was grinning modestly; Gandalf chuckling.
"Now, stop that," insisted Sam, and flung Frodo out into the hallway. "Goodnight, all...I'm sorry, again..."
Frodo's fingers caught the edge of the doorway, and his head popped back into the library. "Wait! Some wine! Ooh, I bet if I get him liquored up he'd do me! That's the ticket! Send some wine to my room, Elrond! Or--"
Sam pulled Frodo firmly off the door frame and hauled him away down the corridor, leaving the others in a heap of giggles.
"Well," Legolas said, standing up. "I, for one, am locking my doors tonight."
"Prude," somebody muttered.
Legolas spun around to see who said it, but everyone was snickering equally. There was no telling.