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Following the end of Fiondil's Elf Academy 3: The Enemy Within, I was re-reading the story, and was once more inspired by it, in particular by Chapters 80-82. (If you have never read his story and intend to do so, please bow out now, for there are spoilers for those chapters.)
I awakened late at night with the following idea in my mind, and as soon as I could, I wrote it out. I was uncertain about posting it, but I asked Fiondil's betas, and Alassiel gave me the go ahead.
Fiondil, this story is for you. Thank you for creating such a rich world, one in which a story like this could happen!
*S * P * O * I * L * E * R * S*
This story is about the friendship that grew up between Legolas, and the baby he rescued from a carjacking on the day he went to apply to the Wiseman Police Department.
The room was dark; the mechanical sounds of humming and beeping were a constant irritation to an Elf's sensitive hearing, but he paid it no mind. His attention was on the pale figure in the bed, the spirit only just barely clinging to the body, and yet clinging tenaciously. His hollow feeling of impending grief was nearly overwhelming. His father had warned him, of course, and he had deliberately decided not to listen.
Her name was Gabriella Williams. Legolas had known her since she was only a few months old when he had pulled her from the back seat of a carjacked SUV. Her mother had been so very grateful, and never could stop talking about his rescue of her little one. He had received a heartfelt thank you card from her, which he still had tucked away somewhere.
Most of the Elves in Wiseman had made friends among the children. Legolas, as Officer Liam Prince, had made more than most. He had often been sent to give talks on "stranger danger" at the kindergartens, or on the dangers of drugs at the middle-school. He was popular with the young ones and they listened to him with rapt attention. But it was about four years after the carjacking that he found out that Mrs. Williams had made sure little Gabriella knew all about the Elf who had saved her. When he went to her kindergarten class, she had latched on to him, hugging him around the knees, and calling him "My Elf-policeman!" After that he saw her with her family from time to time when he was on patrol, and always gave her a friendly greeting, which she returned with enthusiasm.
About two years later, she invited him to her sixth birthday party. He went with no little trepidation; he had heard tales of the chaos of mortal children's birthday parties. He needn't have worried. It was a simple family affair: Gabriella, her older brother Rafe, and her younger brother Mike, her parents, her grandmother, and a couple of cousins.
He had enjoyed himself immensely. Mrs. Williams was an assistant manager at the local Safeway; Mr. Williams was a science teacher at the middle-school. His mother lived with them, and watched the children when the parents had to work. The adults were interested in what he could tell them of Elven culture and history, but the children wanted stories. For the first time in millennia he found himself speaking freely of his mortal friends. Rafe wanted to hear all about Aragorn, and battles and dangerous missions. Mike was fond of his funny stories about Gimli. But Gabby, as her family called her (her father said it was not short for her name, but a description of her most persistent characteristic: she was definitely a chatterbox) wanted stories of the little people called hobbits who lived in holes in the ground.
The years passed and Legolas was thought of as "Uncle Liam" by the Williams children. When his duties (both professional and as a member of an Elven community preparing for war) allowed, he would occasionally accept a dinner invitation or attend Gabby's soccer games. But he did not see the family as often as he would have liked.
From the time she was old enough to understand the question "What do you want to be when you grow up?" her answer had been "I want to be a police officer." At first this worried him, that she was too influenced by her hero worship of him. It was a dangerous occupation for anyone, and he would have kept her safe if he could. But he soon realized that though it might have been so in the beginning, by the time she reached adolescence she had a true passion for the work.
The teen-aged Gabriella now preferred to be called "Ella" by her friends. But Legolas still called her by her full name, Gabriella. She giggled over boys, experimented with make-up, and turned to "Uncle Liam" for advice and a shoulder to cry on when the boy she admired did not notice her.
In Middle-school, like many of her peers, she had joined the Wiseman branch of the SCA. Legolas found he spent more time with her now, as he taught the young people archery and as one of the authorized Youth Marshals he helped to supervise the fighting with padded foam swords that the under-age members were allowed to use. She threw herself into her role with passionate abandon, always willing to help, even with the nasty jobs at events like washing dishes and carrying out the trash. She was only seventeen when she was given her Award of Arms as "Lady Elanor of the Tower" for her hard work.
Many of the Wiseman children of her generation, especially those who had worked with the Elves, joined the military. She entered the US Army when she graduated high school, though she just barely squeaked by the minimum height requirement. Six years later, she returned to Wiseman after spending her army hitch in the Military Police.
By this time Dave Michaelson had taken a well deserved retirement and had gone on to run for City Council, leaving the former Lieutenant Conrad as the new Chief. Lieutenant Liam Prince had become a detective several years earlier, and now was chief of detectives and Conrad's second in command. They were pleased to get someone with Gabriella's skills and background; Legolas was even more pleased to see his former pupil accomplish her dream. She was doing well, living with her parents again, and had begun dating a fellow police officer, a promising young man named (to Legolas' everlasting delight) Sam Gardener.
And only four months later, she was here in a hospital bed, the result of a domestic dispute call gone bad. She and her partner had gone in to deal with the call; while her partner, an older motherly woman, dealt with the distraught wife, Gabriella had watched the husband with efficiency, but when he decided the petite woman would be an easy target, she had humiliated him. Using expert moves, she had him down and cuffed in seconds. He yelled profanity at her all the way back to the police station.
His mother had bailed him out. Three days later he lay in wait for Gabriella to get off duty and gunned her down right in front of the police station.
Legolas' rage when he was told (for he had not been on duty at the time) had been white-hot. Conrad had forbidden him to join in the chase for the shooter and Loren and Quinn and Ron had backed the chief up. All that was left for him to do was to go to the hospital and stare through the glass in the ICU until Margaret Williams was too exhausted to remain. Gabriella's father had insisted on taking his wife somewhere she could rest, and Legolas took her place at the bedside.
And now he was left to sit here, hoping against hope that she would keep on clinging to that little speck of life. He held her hand, lending her what strength he could, singing softly in Sindarin.
"Remind you of anything, young Greenleaf?" The familiar smell, the strong hand on his shoulder, he knew at once who it was. He turned to see Olórin. The Maia was not in his guise as Oliver Grey, nor in the form he usually wore among the Elves. This guise was an old and familiar and very welcome one.
The Maia gave a sad smile. "You seemed as if you needed a friend right now, more than a guardian angel. She has always reminded me of someone we both knew and loved."
Somehow Legolas managed to summon up a weak chuckle. "Pippin. With her curly hair and constant chatter, I always thought perhaps she might have a touch of Took in her somewhere?"
Mithrandir shook his head. "If she does, it does not make itself known to me. Still, she has that sort of persistence."
"She did not deserve this. I wish I could get my hands on the animal that did this to her!" His anger threatened to surface, but Mithrandir's hand tightened on his shoulder, and he subsided.
"Pippin made it," he reminded Legolas. "In spite of everything against him, in spite of his being squashed flat by a troll, and frightening us nearly to death, he not only made it, but he thrived. It would not surprise me if Miss Gabriella does not follow his example."
Legolas nodded, slightly encouraged. She had always loved the story about Pippin and the troll. "I don't suppose she will be singing and dancing the springle-ring anytime soon though." He let go of her hand and reached up to tuck a small curl away from her face.
"No. She does not have hobbit physical resilience. She will have a long recovery and need much help from her family and friends."
As he smoothed her hair back, he felt a small movement as her face ever so slightly leaned into his touch. His heart leapt for joy. "Mithrandir!" The beeping grew stronger, and he could feel her fëa strengthen.
He looked up to see a smile on his old friend's face.
"Uncle Liam?" it was the tiniest of whispers. "Tell me a story."
As tears of joy ran down Legolas' face, Oliver Grey slipped from the room to let the doctors know their patient had awakened.
He smiled as he heard the voice behind him. "In a hole in the ground, there lived a hobbit..."
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