Pippin glanced up at the moon. It was very bright tonight, only a day until its full. 'Strider says there might be rain tomorrow night. It's now or never.' He stood and walked resolutely to the fire. "Does anybody want to play Hobbit Quilt?"
In the firelight, Pippin could see that Sam was blushing, but Merry hooted loudly and shook off his blanket. "Yes!"
Frodo glanced at him, and a slow smile spread over his face. "Sure. Why not?"
Strider was cleaning the knife he'd used to skin the deer. He glanced up at Pippin. "What is Hobbit Quilt?"
"Well, you dare somebody to do something, or..." He shrugged. "I can't explain it very well. Why don't we four go, and then you can go?"
Strider considered this for a moment, decided the hobbits couldn't get up to anything really bad or embarrassing, and laid his cleaning rag and knife away. "All right. I'll play."
Pippin turned so Strider couldn't see his face, and grinned evilly at Merry and Frodo. Sam hid his face in his cloak. "Okay. We all have to sit close to the fire." They adjusted their positions. "Now, I'll ask first, since it was my idea. Merry, truth or dare?"
"Dare," Merry responded promptly.
"Okay. I dare you to talk like Lobelia Baggins."
"After ninety-nine years of waiting, all I get are silver spoons?! Bilbo Baggins, I hate you! You'll come to a bad end, mark my words!"
'This sounds innocent enough,' Strider thought, and he relaxed.
"Okay, Merry, your turn."
"Frodo, truth or dare?"
"When you found out that Bilbo left the spoons to Lobelia, what did you want to do with them?"
"Shove them down her throat."
All four hobbits hooted this time, though Sam quickly clapped his hand over his mouth, and Strider gathered that Lobelia, whoever she was, wasn't well-liked. 'I wonder why it's called 'Hobbit Quilt? It sounds like Truth or Dare to me.'
"Sam, truth or dare?" Frodo asked.
"I think I'll take dare, Mister Frodo."
"Okay. I dare you to walk like Gandalf."
Merry complained, "How is that related to Lobelia or the spoons?" He glanced at Strider, and explained, "Each truth or dare has to connect with the one before it."
"Gandalf encouraged Bilbo to leave, and that's how Lobelia came by the spoons," Frodo answered.
Merry frowned, but Pippin announced, "It's fair. It holds. Go on, Sam."
So Sam had to get up and hobble around the fire. He looked a little embarrassed, but managed all right, and his imitation was actually pretty good.
"Okay," said Frodo. "Are you ready, Strider?"
The Ranger nodded, wondering what was coming. He was confident he could handle anything these hobbits could throw at him.
Sam asked, "Truth or dare?"
"Dare," Strider answered.
Sam paused, ducked his head and said in a slightly shaking voice, "I dare you to act like a hobbit."
Frodo, Merry and Pippin groaned.
Sam glanced at them and blushed a bright red.
Strider climbed to his knees, scuttled over to Merry's pack, opened it and began pawing through it furiously. "Is there anything more to eat?" he demanded. "We've had one breakfast, but what about second breakfast? What about elevensies?" He looked up at them, and his face was creased with a look of absolute starvation. "Please, Strider, can I have a little more?"
Frodo laughed, even though it wasn't what he'd wanted Sam to ask, but the impression was pretty good. Merry and Pippin glanced at each other, shrugged, and laughed a little. Sam grinned.
"Skip me this time," Pippin said. "It's like when you skip a row sewing. That's how hobbits make quilts," he told Strider, who nodded gamely as he sat back down.
Merry turned to Sam. "All right, Sam, which one?"
"Dare, Master Merry."
"I dare you to kiss Frodo."
Strider blanched, but tried not to show it. 'What happened to the innocent hobbits?'
Sam blushed. Pippin snorted.
Frodo stood up and bowed grandly. "Come on, Sam, it won't be so bad."
Sam stood, blushing furiously, and walked to Frodo. He hesitated, aware of the eyes of the others on him, then bent forward and kissed Frodo square on the lips. Merry ad Pippin shouted encouragement. Frodo gasped, and now he, too, was blushing. "That was to make up for the groans, wasn't it?" he demanded.
Sam sat down, and it didn't seem as if his skin would ever be any color than red. He glanced at Frodo, who had also regained his seat. "Truth or dare?" he almost whispered.
"Have you ever seen Master Peregrin naked?"
Frodo squawked. "That's hardly fair!"
"You have to answer it," Merry told him, "or we get to dunk your head in water."
'I think I'd prefer the water,' Strider thought.
Frodo muttered something.
"What was that?" Pippin asked. "Couldn't quite hear you there."
"Yes! All right? We were both taking a bath!"
"Did you like it?" Merry asked.
"Only one question per turn!" Frodo cried desperately. He turned to Pippin, and glared at him. "Well?"
"Ha! I dare you to moon Strider!" Frodo was grinning.
Pippin got up, bowed to Frodo, turned his back on Strider, and pulled his pants down. Strider wasn't quite fast enough to cover his eyes, and he got a good view of a round, small, white, hobbit-ass. He felt the blush starting on his cheeks and tried to stop it. He failed miserably.
Pippin pulled his pants up. "Okay, Strider, same question."
The Ranger was still trying to get his reaction under control. "Dare... no, truth!" he gasped.
"You have to do the first one you say," Pippin answered gleefully. "I dare you to go swim in the river!"
Strider stared at him in surprise. "What?" was all he could manage.
"Go take a swim in the river! Strip on the bank, and jump in!"
"If you don't, we'll pour water over your head and in your pants!" Merry cried.
''That's it,' Strider thought despairingly, 'the innocent hobbits have gone away. And I don't think they're going to return any time soon!' "Wait! How does my taking a swim relate to you pulling your pants down?"
Pippin smiled charmingly at him. "I was partially naked. Now you'll be completely naked!"
'Innocent hobbits? Where?' Strider wondered miserably. He sighed and got up. "All right." 'I'll get them back.' He remembered playing Truth or Dare with the other Rangers, and smiled to himself. 'I won't restrain myself, then.'
Once they were all by the river, though, Strider hesitated. At last he reasoned, "If I don't take everything off, it will be very wet. I don't want to carry mildewing clothes to Rivendell.' He pulled off his boots and socks, then dropped his cloak off his shoulders. Next to come off was the outer shirt, then the inner one. His brown-tanned skin glowed warmly in the moonlight. He shivered. It was autumn, after all. One of the hobbits whistled; he couldn't tell which one. Hastily, he stripped off his pants and undergarments, then strode into the water.
The shocking cold made him suck in his breath, and he turned to climb back out. All four hobbits were staring at him. He tried to cover his manhood, slipped, lost his balance, and crashed into the water. He went under and came up sputtering.
"I dare you to go in, too!" Pippin shouted at Merry.
"No! Besides, it's not your turn to dare!"
"Fine! I'll go then!" Pippin grabbed something out of his pants pocket, then stripped hastily.
Strider was struggling to get up when Pippin flung himself into the water. He grabbed the astonished Ranger around his middle, and dragged him down. He rubbed the thing in his hand furiously against Strider's head. When they surfaced, Aragorn's hair was covered with suds.
The Ranger tried to get out, but then Frodo was on him, too. He shoved Strider back under and he and Pippin set about cleaning him. Merry at last gave in and dove in. Sam stood uncertainly on the bank.
"I'll wash his chest if you wash his armpits!"
"Never! You wash his armpits!"
"You're both chicken!" Pippin declared. "I'll do it!"
"Who wants to wash that part? Are you brave enough, Pip?"
"Uh, that's a bit too personal for me. Make Frodo do it! He's the oldest!"
"Hey!" Frodo shouted. "He has a lot more hair there than hobbits do!"
"Let me see!" Pippin cried.
"No, thank you," Merry said.
Pippin grabbed Merry by his ear and made him look.
"It's like a forest!" Merry declared, and he was laughing.
"Would-you-please.... Do-you-mind!?!" Strider shouted. "That's for Arwen!"
"Get between his toes! Yuck! He could grow mushrooms down here!"
"Are you talking about his toes or his other part, Frodo?"
"I'll get his legs!" Merry volunteered.
"Sure, go for the easy job! I'll do his butt, since you're both chicken-hearted hobbits!"
"Not my ass-aaahhhhh!"
"Can you fit your hand in his-?"
"Yes! My hand's smaller than yours!" Pippin answered.
Aragorn rose suddenly out of the water, and he looked furious. He reached behind him and grabbed Pippin. He lifted the hobbit right out of the water and threw him far away.
Pippin hit the middle of the river and went under. The current grabbed him and he couldn't fight it.
"Pip!" Merry screamed.
Strider swore and dove after him. He swam hard, glad of the bright moonlight as he searched for the hobbit in the churning water. 'Infernal, annoying...' His thoughts dissolved into curses in three languages.
Finally, he spotted Pip, who was fighting desperately. Strider caught him, drew him under one arm, and made for the bank. But it was too steep and rocky in that place, so he turned back upstream. 'Besides, do I really want to go walking through the woods, naked, with a bare-assed hobbit under my arm?'
Back in the camp, as Strider drew furiously at his pipe, Merry whispered, "Was it worth it?"
"We got him to loosen up and take a bath at the same time, didn't we?" Pippin answered smugly. "Of course it was worth it!"
The next night, Strider asked as they were eating their meager supper, "Truth or dare, Merry?"
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Story notes: Movieverse. I don't do very many of these, so please forgive me for any mistakes I make. Flames welcome, but they will be used to cook the deer Strider killed.