Sound And Furry, Signifying Nothing
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Author's Note: Don't blame this one on me. This one's Peter Jackson's fault.
Ezra Standish curled up deep in a comfortable leather chair, nursing his sore ribs. His eyelids drooped. He wasn't really in the mood to nap, but he was... just... so... tired.
His head fell to his chest. He breathed a soft snore, two, then started awake to stare, wide-eyed, around him.
He wasn't in a cozy living room any more. His feet were cold. He stood in a clearing of a deep, dark, woods before a tall, voluptuous woman who looked sort of like a pin-up model in a long gown. Sunlight slanted through the high branches in golden columns that barely reached the soft forest floor. He turned slowly, taking in the girl, the forest, the light, the other people who stood around him. Every single damn one of whom looked to be taller than him. Much taller. No. No, he wasn't going to believe this. This was simply unacceptable. But when he looked down his feet were still bare. And worse, they were furry.
He swallowed hard. Shut his eyes, opened them. And another set of furry feet were in his field of vision. He looked up into the somber, brown eyes of a creature who looked one whole heck of a lot like JD Dunne, if Mr. Dunne had been tossed in the dryer, shrunk, and had his ears, well, made pointy. Ezra groaned and reached up to find that JD's ears weren't the only set of auditory organs molested by the pernicious points. Not that he was all that surprised. The feet had been quite a tip off. JD leaned down to peer up into his face with a look of profound and sorrowing worry that never touched his features in real life unless he found the last donut gone before he got a chance. Ezra ignored him and looked around. The sick feeling in the pit of his stomach grew when he got a good look at his companions. Chris Larabee stood there, wearing scuffed leathers and a cape that had to have been dragged halfway across a small rural county. The blond man was glaring at him, and impatiently tapping his fingers on a prodigiously large sword. Beside him stood Vin Tanner. The bounty hunter must have finally discovered product because his hair was glossy and smooth. And braided. And it had... were those leaves he had in his hair? Ezra cringed. Vin had looked over his shoulder and was watching him from a pose that nicely displayed the stylish leather outfit he wore, putting Mr. Larabee's Medieval chic to shame.
"Wait a minute," muttered the Southerner, shaking his head sharply as if he could shake the points off his ears. "What the hell is going on here?" He turned, and nearly whimpered as he took in the man behind him. Well, maybe not a man. He looked like Josiah Sanchez if Sanchez had been shrunk from 6'2" to 4' nothing, and just about as wide as he was tall. The man was almost as short as himself! And what was he carrying? An axe? That was it. A big, shiny axe. And peering around him was a truncated version of Buck Wilmington. Oh lawd. Buck snuffled in his mustache and shuffled a pair of furry-goddamn-feet, sure as hell. And behind him, that asshole from Team 4 who nearly got him killed on the last bust. Fredericks, that was it, big as life and twice as ugly. And... was that Nathan standing back there, wearing a dress? Ezra shuddered. It was. It truly was. Nathan. Wearing a really ratty-looking, big dress, with absolutely no fashion sense. Why on earth would the man choose to be caught dead in drag, then show not the least touch of style... oh. Pointy hat. Big stick. Robes.
Goddamn it this was not happening. He was at Chris's place! He knew it. Chris was doing that thing he always did when a couple of them nearly bought the ticket for the big Bureau in the sky, gathering them close where he could play broody hen. Damn it! What was this?
Ezra spun to glare at JD. "JD, I swear this is the last time I let YOU order the pizza!"
Big brown eyes blinked in shock. "But Merry, I don't understand?"
"Don't you 'merry' me, young man! I absolutely REFUSE to enable your delirious anchovy dreams, do you hear me? Let me out of here right now!"
"Hey Pard, what's all the fuss?" The short, stubby version of Buck Wilmington finally emerged from behind Josiah. The lopped-off ex-preacher (he was not going to think of him as a dwarf, NOT going to think of him as a dwarf - ah hell, Sanchez the Dwarf) growled something about 'damn elves', only to earn a sneer from Vin, who flipped back his long, flowing hair and posed, showing off the leather-clad body he usually hid in big jackets and t-shirts.
Ezra spun to glare at Buck, taking him in from his oversized furry feet to his rumpled mustache and hair, and the wildly inappropriate leer he kept casting towards the tall woman in the gown. Vaguely, he noticed her making some sort of speech in stilted, overly-mannered language.
Buck stood on tiptoes, then balanced to waggle one foot, "Hey, Galadriel, you know what they say about hobbits with big feet!"
"Stop it!" Ezra hopped up and down in frustration. "Stop that right now! I utterly and categorically refuse to be a hobbit! This is your fault! You and that miniature maniacal munchkin of a sidekick! This has to be the aftereffects of food-poisonin' induced by that vile fare you two ordered for our dinner!"
"Hush, it wasn't that bad." Ordered the tall man in black. Ara-chris or whatever he was calling himself in this twisted group hallucination.
"It most certainly IS that bad, Mr. Larabee. Or is it your Lordship Larabee here?" A fist balled up in response to his words. How nice to know that some things stayed the same.
The Vin-elf leaned down and smiled, tugging Lara-gorn back before Ezra could be squashed. "But Sir Meriadoc, if this were a dream would it not be your own?"
"Absolutely not! When -" He caught himself at the word and corrected it on the fly, "If I'd dreamed this I'd be taller! And better dressed." Ezra plucked at his clashing vest and coat.
"But you seem quite the stylish hobbit to me." Vin smiled and tapped one long finger on his coat. Ezra noticed the finger was perfectly manicured and that, alone, would have told him that he was a long way from Kansas. Or anywhere else that made sense.
"The concept of a stylish hobbit is so unlikely that I barely know where to begin," growled Ezra.
"One must always begin within oneself," intoned a deep voice from a disconcertingly long way over his head. He looked up to see Nathan gazing down with a kindly, impatient look that usually accompanied bandages on minor wounds. "Perhaps this is all the dream of a greater being than ourselves."
"Or perhaps this is a bit of undigested potato, Mr. Marley." Ezra glared over his shoulder. "Or should I say, Mr. JD 'Frodo' Dunne?"
"Me?" Squeaked JD. "What did I do?"
"This is 'cause of those mushrooms you put on the pizza, isn't it? You -" He spun to face JD, who stared solemnly back, fingering a large, gaudy ring hanging from a chain around his neck. Ezra lashed out and grabbed the thing, studying the letters around the big stone. "Evil High, Class of '97? My lord, Mr. Dunne. Have you no shame?"
"Let it go, Merry!" JD backed away. "Have you taken leave of your wits?"
"I've taken offense, is what I've taken! Young man, I don't know how this happened or why, but I have no intention whatsoever of remaining in this place."
The tall pinup was standing beside them now, looking troubled. "Your hearts are heavy and you require rest. Please, be at ease."
Buck burped loudly and waggled his eyebrows. "Love to! You're an elf of the wood, well, I got some wood for ya right here!"
JD frowned. "Behave."
"Mr. Wilmington, you are disgusting!"
"There's nothing wilting about me, and you better get that head of yours looked at if you can't remember a simple name like Sam."
"Oh no, ooooh no," Ezra spun on JD again. "This is your fault. You and Miss Wells and that hobby book for mushroom collectors."
"Oh, and they were wonderful mushrooms!" burbled the voice of a wee, furry-footed Orrin Travis. "Especially with those tomatoes and that bacon!"
"Judge Travis?" Ezra shuddered and shut his eyes tight, opened them wide. "Nooooo!"
"Hey, hey," A hand shook his shoulder roughly. "Wake up."
"Oh my God, Chris!" Ezra grabbed Chris's wrist and started up, staring around the living room. He was breathing hard and feeling vaguely ill.
That didn't stop him from dropping to his knees and nearly kissing the floor. The doghair, on the other hand, stopped him cold. Ezra patted the floor instead and muttered, "There's no place like home, there's no place like home."
"Ezra?" Chris had crouched down beside him and offered a hand to help him up. Ezra groaned as the ribs broken in their last fiasco, er, escapade let him know they were not happy about this. "That was some nightmare."
"Oh, indeed it was." The Southerner slumped back in his seat and wiped a shaky hand across his face.
"You'll have to tell me about it." Chris grinned. "Meantime, Nathan says it's time for your meds."
Ezra stared at him, then to the pizza on the coffee table, and the snoring shapes of Buck and JD, sprawled on the floor. Not a pointy ear or furry toe in sight. He sighed in relief and turned back to smile sweetly at Chris. "I think I've had enough of altered states for one day, Mr. Larabee. Let's just let this one go."
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