What Can't Be by BlueKat

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Somehow keeping watch in the quiet night seemed like a waste of time. But the tall, dark-haired man sitting next to the small, hidden fire knew that they could be watched by a thousand hostile eyes. They couldn't afford to be careless, they couldn't even afford to make mistakes. Leaning forward as if actually feeling the weight of the mission on his shoulders, the man some knew as Strider placed another dry branch on the fire. The embers quickly caught up and long shadows licked over the cliff over them.

It was quiet, all he could hear was the quiet breathing and the occasional rumbling snore from the dwarf. Looking around Aragorn could easily spot his traveling companions. The dwarf Gimli slept soundly next to the cliff that was hiding the fire, seemingly unfazed by all of it. The elf Legolas preferred sleeping closer to the trees. The hobbits made out a small pile of curled-up figures, if Aragorn looked closer he was just able to figure them out individually. Of course Sam laid close to Frodo, and he had to smile at the sight of Pippin practically covering his friend, one hand in Merri's hair and stealing his blanket. Merry didn't seem to mind though, just slept on. Gandalf wasn't in sight, not that that gave Aragorn any worries.

Sitting back again, he let his eyes roam the ground for the last of them, feelings weaving through his minds as gentle fingers as he did. Silently moving he crept closer to the strong figure sleeping on his right side. In the dim light of the fire blonde hair seemed golden, the light catching on the casing of a sword and a heavy shield. He should have known the other man would keep his weapons close. After all, he was a warrior, just as Aragorn himself.

Sitting absolutely still, Aragorn just watched for a second. Even though he has never laid eyes on the man before now, before the all meeting, there was a familiarity between them he couldn't rid himself of. At first they treaded lightly around each other, like large cats. Eyeing each other carefully, there had seemed to be a lot of baring of teeth, hissing and ruffled fur at first. Still there was something else there...something that made its way through all of it, and made Aragorn uneasy.

The night settled quickly in the mountains, and they had walked a long, hard distance during the day. After finishing a quick meal, all had been too tired to do much more then getting ready for sleep. Aragorn had volunteered for the first watch, knowing he wouldn't get to sleep anyway and there was a lot on his mind. As the little camp quieted down, he allowed the feelings he knew he should fight to come to the surface again. His path was clear before him, it had been for a long time. Yet all it took was the first look from grey-blue eyes to tempt him to stray. And he would have strayed gladly. If not for the sense of duty he sometimes cursed. But in the quiet of the night he'd let himself have a rare dream of what could have been if things were different.

Studying the other man's face as if to imprint every little detail in his mind, Aragorn was startled when Boromir moved slowly, fine strands of light hair falling over his face. He was holding his breath, almost certain that he had somehow woken the other just by thought and yearning alone. In an almost desperate urge he reached out and gently brushed the hair away, the stubborn feelings hoping for Boromir to wake. Warm, smooth skin was a delightful shock to his fingers, sending lazy warmth up through him.

The intensity of the feelings made Aragorn sit back, knowing he was crossing borders already. But his hand moved as of its own will, leaving him with merely the power to just watch. He watched as his fingers braided slowly through Boromir's halflong hair, curling soft locks around a finger while admiring the play of light in the fair strands.

"I wish," he thought, as countless times before, "that he would have destroyed the wretched ring when he had the chance. That Elrond would have made him, forced him to do so. If only..." He stopped, knowing wishful thinking were of little use know. His heart was already full of disturbing premonitions, and there was nothing he could do to change the course of some of them. Taking advantage of his thoughtfulness his hand had moved, fingertips now drawing patterns on a warm cheek, touching the short beard that was softer than he had imagined. A shivering breath that ended in a sigh escaped Aragorn as he neared slightly open lips, moist breath coating his skin.

Licking dry lips, it was all he could do not to lean down and capture those lips with his own, to feel if they tasted as sweet as they appeared to be. Frustration welled up in him, spiced with the ever-present longing he feared was all too evident in his eyes whenever he looked at Boromir. "It's practically sorcery," he thought with a wry smile. "I'm bewitched. And I can't even fight it, just let it entangle me with a smile on my lips..." The rest of the camp, and his companions were forgotten for a while. Their mission pushed back into the back of his mind, kept there until the sun had risen and they had to continue. "It's not fair," Aragorn decided.

"It's a cruel trick of fate, this... To let me see you, to let me touch you...and let me know that it can't be. You will never be mine."

Sighing again, although silently, Aragorn took Boromir's hand in his, pressing a kiss to the palm, his eyes closed in a tremble of bliss and despair. Twining their fingers together, he stared at the sleeping man's face. "You could make him yours," an insistent voice said in his mind.

"You know he feels it too, you see it in his face, in his eyes, everyday. Forget about duty and honor...follow your heart. You can have him..."

"I can..." Aragorn whispered, not even knowing he was speaking. He was breathing heavily, drops of sweat coating his forehead in a fine sheen. "All I have to do is get rid of the ring, hide it somewhere... Yes, that's all... And then..."

He felt the presence before he heard the voice. He didn't even need to look up to see the shadowy figure of Gandalf, only a few steps away.

Reluctantly he let go of Boromir's hand, turning to Gandalf. The sorcerer was still hidden in the dark, only the glow of the pipe gave him away.

"He is not for you," the deep voice sounded inside Aragorn's mind. "And you are not for him."

Everything inside the dark-haired man wanted to fight those words, every fiber of him wanted to scream, cry, lash out, claw, anything, fighting to the end for a chance to change things. He hated himself when he simply bowed his head and meekly agreed.

"Get some sleep." Gandalf's voice wasn't devoid of compassion, nor sadness on the young warrior's behalf. But there was nothing he could do, nothing any of them could do.

Not another word was spoken as Aragorn woke Gimli, letting the dwarf take his seat by the fire. Not looking at Gandalf, he laid down next to Boromir. Closing his eyes, feeling reassured by the dwarf's low humming as he kept both hands on his trusted axe, Aragorn secretly reached out his hand. As his fingers touched the hem on Boromir's shirt and he was able to feel the warmth of the other, he finally could sleep.
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