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Fanfic Lounge: The Fellowship of the Ring, The

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Setting: a smallish room, quiet and dark as if at night. There are two doors, one on each end, and a tiny gleam of light shows beneath the larger one. The decor is simple and homey, but at the moment the room is a little untidy. A couch, which usually occupies the far wall, has been pulled to the center of the room in haphazard fashion, with the matching coffee table pushed out of the way entirely. Various tables and chairs are scattered about. Among the furniture, barely visible in the shadows, are many lumpy shapes crowded together on the floor. And fast asleep on the couch, stretched out on his stomach with one arm dangling over the side, is a dark-haired young man. He's wearing jeans, a comfortable long-sleeved shirt, and brown leather shoes. He is ELIJAH WOOD.

After a while, the smaller door opens. A slim middle-aged woman darts out, quickly shuts the door behind her, and leans wearily against it. She is the SECRETARY, and she's not looking very tidy herself. Her normally neat hair is in disarray, and her prim clothes are rumpled and smudged. She clutches a clipboard to her chest and looks downright frazzled. Taking a second to catch her breath, she turns and begins to pick her way across the floor.

SECRETARY: Oh dear, oh dear... I do hope they'll stay quiet for a while.

She pauses when she reaches the couch, leans over and checks to see if Elijah is still sleeping. She sighs mournfully and shakes her head, then skirts the couch and moves to the larger door. With a last glance over her shoulder, she opens the door and slips out of the room. The brief increase in light reveals the slightest glimpse of the shapes on the floor before the room goes dark again.

A minute or two goes by in silence; Elijah snores softly. Then he jerks a bit and startles himself awake. Groggy, he rubs a hand over his face and starts to roll over...

ELIJAH: Mrrgh... oh, my heaAAGH!

... and promptly falls off the couch. Beat.

ELIJAH: Nice.

He sits up, rubbing the sleep from his eyes. Then he stops, looks around him, frowns. He has no idea where he is.

ELIJAH: What the... I don't remember— Geez, what did I do last night?

Still not quite awake, and feeling wigged out but trying to ignore it, he climbs stiffly to his feet and looks around. It's too dark to see much, but he notices the light under the door and starts walking toward it.

ELIJAH: [yawning] Man, if the guys pulled another prank while I was – oof!

He catches his foot on one of the lumps and goes pinwheeling off balance. He's so busy falling on all fours, he almost doesn't notice when the lump gives a yelp and sits bolt upright. The lump is a person. A rather small person. A rather small, hobbit-shaped person that looks remarkably like...

PIPPIN: Watch where you're walking!

ELIJAH: Well I'm sorry, but you were right in the –

He stops – huh? But before he can turn around, the shape right in front of him gets jarred out of sleep by the noise, pops his head up, and looks around warily. Elijah is suddenly nose-to-nose with a three-foot-tall furry-footed pointy-eared version of himself – none other than FRODO BAGGINS.

For countless moments, there is only open-mouthed amazement. Then...

FRODO: What devilry is th—

ELIJAH: HOLY SHIT!

And they're moving, both scrambling backwards as fast as they can go. Elijah gets tangled with Pippin in the process, somehow pulls himself free, and ends up sprawled half-upright against the side of the couch. Utterly and completely off his head.

At the same moment, the rest of the room is suddenly in an uproar. Woken by the shouting, everyone else that was asleep on the floor jumps up and starts talking all at once. You guessed it – it's THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING. MERRY and SAMWISE appear next to the other hobbits and blink in astonishment; ARAGORN, BOROMIR, and GANDALF spring over to them and stand at ready with swords drawn; GIMLI can be heard in the background, cursing and fumbling for his axe.

GANDALF: [thundering] Who are you, and what evil brings you here?

MERRY: Bli-mey!

ARAGORN: Stay behind me! He could be dangerous!

ELIJAH: DAAAAAAH!

Just then, the Secretary comes dashing back into the room. She takes in the scene before her and all but whimpers in frustration.

SECRETARY: Good gracious me! Please, everyone, there's no need for violence!

ELIJAH: [fixated on Frodo, pointing wildly] It talks! The dummy is talking!

SAMWISE: [offended] Here, you keep quiet!

Another panicked cry makes further discussion impossible – but it's not Elijah this time. The Secretary fumbles for a switch near the door, and glaring light floods the Lounge.

SECRETARY: [wailing] Oh, don't kill him! My supervisor will never forgive me!

She pushes past the group by the door and runs across the room. Elijah scrambles to his feet and staggers back, pulling his eyes away from the bizarre sight of his movie counterpart – only to gape in renewed shock at the image behind him. Across the Lounge, backed into a corner, is a wide-eyed and frantic ORLANDO BLOOM. He's pressed hard against the wall, frozen in terror – and, strangely enough, is not wearing a shirt. A feathered arrow is embedded in the wall about a centimeter from his head. Another is aimed point-blank at his throat by one mightily pissed off Elven Prince of Mirkwood – LEGOLAS GREENLEAF himself. Gimli stands growling beside him, axe poised, backing him up.

LEGOLAS: Changeling! Sorcery!

By this time, the rest of the Fellowship is up in arms. Elijah tries to run forward and is neatly stopped by Boromir's sword tip appearing a few inches from his face.

ELIJAH: Aiee! Watch it, that's sharp!

ORLANDO: Getimoffmegetimoffme!

ELIJAH: Orlando, don't move, for God's sake! They're crazy!

SECRETARY: [hostage negotiator] All right, everyone, let's not do anything foolish. We can work this out. No one has been hurt yet.

GIMLI: Let the changeling speak for itself! Who sent you? Where have you taken us?

ORLANDO: Me? How should I know?!

SECRETARY: Please, I can explain everything if you'll just give me a chance. Put the bow down. You too, gentlemen, there's no need to be pointing swords at people. Come on, now.

BOROMIR: [pointing his sword at people] Why should we trust you?

The Secretary has recovered enough to be irritated. She rolls her eyes.

SECRETARY: Do we really look like warriors to you? Just you put your sword away and I promise we won't attack you. I mean, honestly.

The Fellowship looks at the "changelings"; there is much logic in her argument. They look at Gandalf; he lowers Glamdring and nods slightly. Reluctantly, they step back. Legolas eases his bowstring, though he keeps the arrow notched. Orlando ducks out of the way and goes straight for Elijah.

ORLANDO: [clutching him] Elijah, thank God! Where are we? How did I get here? Who are these people? [looks down] And where the hell is my shirt?!

ELIJAH: This is insane! I thought you were in London!

ORLANDO: I am in London! [beat, helpless] I was in London....

ARAGORN: [to the Secretary, furious] Then you are behind this? Speak, woman!

SECRETARY: Oh, don't take that tone with me! I didn't summon you all the way out here just to have you be rude to people!

PIPPIN: Summon us?

SAMWISE: [fearful] She's a wizard!

GANDALF: [exasperated] I'll thank you to keep your mouth shut, Samwise.

SECRETARY: Don't be silly, of course I'm not. I just try to keep things tidy around here – and that's been all but impossible of late, I'll say that right now.

SAMWISE: But what do you want from us? And who are they? How strange they look!

ORLANDO: We're the strange ones here! Oh, bloody brilliant!

ELIJAH: What's going on? Is this some kind of sick joke?!

GANDALF: I care not what game is being played. We have a mission to complete, and we are not toys to be trifled with. Return us to our realm at once, I command you!

SECRETARY: I beg your pardon, Mr. Gandalf, and please don't turn me into some sort of amphibian for saying so, but I wish I could! I'm under strict orders to resolve this matter, no matter how many rules had to be broken. Believe me, if things were any less desperate, I'd never get a character involved in such a fix, much less drag the actors into it. I mean, look at them! They're so fragile, the poor dears.

ORLANDO: [snapping out of it somewhat] Now just a minute....

ARAGORN: Enough of this parley! Explain yourself or let fall your blow, but choose now before I set my sword in you!

SECRETARY: [sighing] For the sake of the upholstery I wish you wouldn't, but you can't hurt me. And even if you won't ask nicely, I'll do as you say, though I can already see it will take a good deal of explaining.

GIMLI: Out with it, then!

She takes a moment to brace herself.

SECRETARY: There's no way to put it gently, so I'll just be blunt. This place is called the Fanfic Lounge. You have been called here because you all figure prominently in fan-written stories loosely based on the works of Tolkien. My superiors in this realm have declared a state of emergency, and I need your help to put it to rights.

Long beat.

MERRY: Stories?

BOROMIR: "Tolkien"?

ELIJAH: Fan fiction?!

SECRETARY: [the words spilling out of her, tired and fretful] Oh, I was afraid this would happen, I'm so so sorry for everything! But you Middle-Earth folk were so scattered about and muddled up in the stories, I had to pull you out of the book itself to have any hope of finding you all together and in your right minds, and I had to search hours for reasonable stories of you two and even those were flying in the face of decency right and left – oh, this is awful, oh dear....

This little rant throws the last hint of reality out the window. Everyone stands there and stares at her, slack-jawed.

ELIJAH: [calmly] Oh, I get it. I've lost my mind, and now I'm hallucinating. Gosh, I hope I don't injure myself.

ORLANDO: Wait, wait, let me see if I've got this right. You wanted my help, so you decided to pull me from a poncy pre-teen internet story where I'm getting half-naked for some unimaginable reason?

SECRETARY: [crossly] Look, I did the best I could! That story was rated NC-17 for explicitness; you're lucky I got you out as early as I did!

Oh, the mental imagery. Orlando is speechless.

Boromir's had enough. He goes for his sword hilt.

BOROMIR: This is madness! You wish us to believe that we are naught but characters in a storybook?!

SECRETARY: [not missing a beat] No less than any living creature whose life is guided by some unseen hand, Son of Gondor. For are not our lives but a story, a small part written and entwined in the volumes of a Greater Tale, one that we follow and yet cannot hope to fully understand? And what did I tell you about the sword, mister?

Boromir isn't sure how to counter that one. He falters a bit and shuts up.

ELIJAH: [shaking his head briskly as if to wake himself] Okay, I can deal with this. I've heard of this. This must be a representation of some psychological "prison" constructed from my repressed frustrations. Or... something.

ORLANDO: [dubious] I don't think...

ELIJAH: [building up steam] No no no. I can stop this. All I have to do is decide to leave. So I'm leaving. Yes. I'm waking up now. And later, I'm getting some really expensive therapy.

As he speaks, he walks determinedly toward the smaller door that the Secretary came through at the beginning.

SECRETARY: [real alarm] Wait! That's the wrong — Mr. Wood, NO!

Too late. Elijah exits the room and slams the door behind him. There's a heartbeat of silence. Then – utter bedlam. An unholy noise erupts, a screeching roar that would upstage a pack of banshees at an N'Sync concert. Orlando, the Secretary, and the Fellowship cower in dread; the walls shudder and the lights flicker.

All at once, the door flies open. As the howling grows even louder, Elijah hauls ass back into the room, throws the door shut, and flings himself against it. Aragorn and Boromir are just in time to help him brace it closed and secure the latch before the door nearly gets blown off its hinges. As the entire room quakes from the onslaught, everyone backs up slowly, pale and shaken. Elijah's collar is ripped, he's missing a shoe, and he looks like he's about to go into shock.

GIMLI: What in the name of everything sacred is THAT?!

MERRY: Goblins! Demons! What are they, Gandalf?

The old wizard merely shakes his head, as though he may know the answer and hopes he's wrong. The Secretary is fussing over Elijah, clucking her tongue.

SECRETARY: Oh, goodness, look what you've done! Are you all right? Speak to me!

ELIJAH: [barely audible] Is ... this ... hell ...?

SECRETARY: [snappish in her relief] Well, it will be to get that lot settled down, thanks to you! You're lucky to have made it out alive! A lesson to all of you – never go into the Mary Sue room without authorization and protective equipment!

ORLANDO: The Mary S— pardon me?

Sure enough, the din on the other side of the door has subsided from earth-shattering howl to the unmistakable sound of girlish squealing. One of the endless multitude can be distinctly heard exclaiming "I got his shoe! I got his shoe!"

GANDALF: [glumly] It is as I feared, then.

The Secretary has led the dazed Elijah back to the couch; he sits limply. Orlando crosses over and sits next to him, concerned.

SECRETARY: All right, here we go... everything's fine. See, here's your friend!

PIPPIN: Everything's fine?! We're trapped in a little room with... whatever those two are, surrounded by screeching she-devils! Black Riders are commonplace next to this!

SECRETARY: You're not trapped. I brought you here, I can send you back just as well.

Gandalf nods slowly. It's as if he, being of the Wise Ancient Sort, has an idea what's going on.

GANDALF: You do mean to release us, then. I feared you had darker intentions.

SECRETARY: [embarrassed] Oh, no. Is that what you thought? What would I do with that silly Ring, even if I did want it?

The Fellowship gasps.

FRODO: You know about the Ring!

SECRETARY: Well sure I do. It's all clearly explained on Page 49. Don't you worry, that's furthest from my mind right now. A moment of your time, that's all I ask, and you'll be back home before you know it. [A fresh bout of squealing from the next room makes her glance furtively over her shoulder.] Just please, help me! This realm is in grave danger, and I didn't know where else to turn!

GIMLI: And our Quest? What of that? We haven't the time to be prancing off to distant worlds any time it suits your fancy!

SECRETARY: I have no intention of thwarting the Quest, I promise you. I'll return you to just where you left off. When you get back, you'll have been gone for less than a second, and you can pass all of this off as a dream if you want.

ORLANDO: Realm, dream, hallucination, I don't care. We help you, you'll let us go?

SECRETARY: On my honor.

ARAGORN: And after that, you will leave us in peace?

SECRETARY: You'll never hear from me again if you don't want. Though you're always welcome here, I'm sure.

There's an uncertain pause. Gandalf frowns, lost in thought. Finally....

GANDALF: Very well. We will do what we can.

Orlando looks at Elijah. Elijah sits back and lifts his hands in resignation.

ORLANDO: Sure. Yeah.

SECRETARY: [gushing] Oh, thank you thank you thank you! You won't regret it, I promise. [walking briskly for the larger door] Just sit tight here for a bit, everyone. I'm going to see if I can find some refreshments, and then we're going to sit down and work this out. [exits, pops her head back in] Be right back!

And she's gone, leaving Elijah and Orlando at one end of the room and the Fellowship huddled at the other. Very soon, the Mother of All Awkward Silences has fallen. Samwise coughs. A cricket chirps.

ELIJAH: [mumbled] I should have gone into commercials.

Chapter Text

As we left them, our heroes are in the lounge, waiting uncomfortably and generally avoiding eye contact. The Mary Sues have started up a constant chatter next door, and it's putting everyone on edge. The hobbits are sitting on the floor, while Aragorn, Boromir, Gimli, and Legolas stand close by, still ready to fight if they have to. Only Gandalf seems to be pretty much at ease. He's lit up a pipe and is pacing slowly around the room, trailing clouds of smoke and muttering to himself.

Inevitably, the hobbits start to whisper to each other.

MERRY: Where do you suppose they come from?

PIPPIN: Who's to say. They seem to be Men of some sort.

SAMWISE: A queer sort, to be sure. But their faces!

PIPPIN: Do you think that's what you'd look like, Frodo? If you were a Big Person?

MERRY: Shhh! They'll hear you!

Frodo looks decidedly uncomfortable. After a moment, he gets up and slips over to Gandalf.

FRODO: Are we quite safe? I am uneasy somehow, as if I have been here before.

The wizard puffs his pipe thoughtfully.

GANDALF: Yes, there is a distant memory of this place, for those who have the awareness to see it. I do not believe us to be in danger. But be wary, and do not take these tales too quickly to heart! All is not what it seems here.

Murmured conversations continue throughout the room. Elijah has calmed considerably, though he still looks a bit shell-shocked. Orlando taps him on the shoulder.

ORLANDO: [whispering] Hey. Elijah. You all right?

ELIJAH: Huh? Oh. I'm okay. I think. [notices Orlando's ever-present lack of shirt] You cold?

ORLANDO: A little. I'll be fine. [shaking his head in disbelief] Unreal, eh?

ELIJAH: [sneaking a glance at Frodo] I've had saner days.

ORLANDO: God, I still can't even figure how we got here. What happened to you?

ELIJAH: I'm... not sure.

ORLANDO: What's the last thing you remember doing?

Elijah thinks for a moment.

ELIJAH: I think I was... eating a sandwich... maybe.

ORLANDO: Huh.

ELIJAH: Yeah. Ham and cheese.

ORLANDO: Good?

ELIJAH: Eh. What about you?

ORLANDO: I might have been getting ready to go to sleep... or already asleep... I don't know! Everything is kind of foggy, and then all at once I'm waking up here and there's a wizard and an insanely perky woman and a bunch of little people....

ELIJAH: [laughing despite himself] And there's a dead witch under the house, and everything's in color....

ORLANDO: Heh, yeah. Left my ruby slippers at home, I'm afraid. Maybe if we knock our skulls hard enough?

Elijah pauses, considers, and obligingly whaps him upside the head.

ORLANDO: [amused and indignant] Ow! You git!

ELIJAH: Well, so much for that idea.

ORLANDO: [grabbing him by the scruff of the neck] No, no, I'm sure it'll work fine. Here, I'll just pummel your head into the coffee table.

Pippin, who has been watching them for some time, tugs on Aragorn's cloak and whispers audibly.

PIPPIN: What are they doing? Is something wrong with them?

ARAGORN: [wryly] I wonder.

Annoyed, Elijah shrugs Orlando off. Legolas, who has remained silent thus far, is staring at them with that unnerving Elvish focus of his, trying to work something out. Orlando notices, tries to ignore it for a few seconds, squirms, and finally snaps.

ORLANDO: May I help you?

Orlando is talking to Legolas. Very weird. For perhaps the first time in his immortal life, Legolas looks flustered.

LEGOLAS: [almost to himself] This is beyond my understanding ... still I fear deception, and yet no dark forces can I perceive....

ORLANDO: [withering] Ohhh, so that bit with the trying to kill me was just precaution. Thanks, I feel so much better.

LEGOLAS: [slight smile] Had I been "trying" to kill you....

Orlando could kick himself; he of all people should know that Legolas doesn't miss.

ORLANDO: Yeah yeah yeah. Stop staring at me. Hell, I invented that stare.

In the middle of this, there's a scuffling at the larger door. In a moment, the Secretary elbows it open, her arms laden, and peeks inside.

SECRETARY: Could one of you be a gentleman and... [delighted] Oh! You're mingling!

ELIJAH: That's one word for it.

SECRETARY: Well, goodness, don't let me interrupt. But could someone get the door? Hands a bit full here.

Being the Gallant Knight type that he is, Aragorn automatically goes to help her. That chivalry seems comically misplaced when she hands him two six-packs of Pepsi. He stands there for a long beat, staring at them in confusion and looking foolish.

SECRETARY: I'm sorry we're running low on proper food these days. All I could find was some leftover sodas and Doritos from the last time Dawson's Creek paid a visit.

A little red, Aragorn puts one pack on a chair and gives the other to Merry, who examines it with great interest. Elijah and Orlando watch, bemused.

ELIJAH: That's messed up.

ORLANDO: [deadpan] Whereas you playing basketball in full costume looked perfectly normal.

ELIJAH: Hey, I did that once.

The Secretary walks into the room carrying a few large bags of chips and the rest of the soda. She waves Samwise over to help her pull the coffee table to the center and sets the snacks down, chatting amiably all the while.

SECRETARY: I just realized that I completely forgot to introduce everyone. Gandalf, Aragorn, everyone, this is Elijah and Orlando. Elijah, Orlando, this is Boromir, Gimli, Samw— oh, silly me, you knew that already.

PIPPIN: Or-lan-do?

ARAGORN: These are strange names.

ELIJAH: [under his breath] Okay, "Thorongil."

GIMLI: Hmph. And how is it that you folk know so much about us, when we know nothing of you? Answer me that!

ORLANDO: [wondering how the heck he's going to explain this] Well, we've, um, heard of the whole Quest thing.

ELIJAH: Yeah. It's big news back home.

BOROMIR: [worried] And this is what our secrecy is worth! Is there now a spy among the Fellowship?

The members of the Fellowship eye each other warily.

SECRETARY: No no, silly. They've just read the book.

MERRY: [unnerved] That book again! Are you saying some... Tolkien bloke just made us up?

GANDALF: [amused] Or perhaps was wise enough to grow aware of our existence.

MERRY: [pleased with this idea] Oh!

SECRETARY: See, it's all in how you look at it. [clapping her hands] Okay, everyone. Take some snacks if you want them and get settled. We should get this over with and send you all back home as soon as we can.

That sounds like a great idea to everyone present. There's a general bustle as chairs are pulled up and food laid out. Elijah and Orlando each get a soda and sit down; the Fellowship watches them closely, and when they don't keel over and die after the first mouthful, a few of them (the hobbits, mainly) take some as well and examine them curiously.

As he goes back to his seat, Boromir tries to open his can with a dagger. It explodes. Startled, he drops it, and soda starts fizzing onto the floor. Quick check; amid the idle chatter, no one seemed to notice. He brushes himself off and surreptitiously kicks the can under the couch.

Soon, they're arranged in a semi-circle with the Secretary at its head, an unconscious parody of the Council of Elrond. Orlando ends up sitting in a chair next to Legolas (because it's funny, that's why) and they both look uncomfortable. After a moment's hesitation, Samwise and Frodo climb up onto the couch with Elijah, giving him plenty of room. Mustering up a polite smile, Elijah casts about for some way to make conversation and becomes rather interested in Frodo's furry feet.

ELIJAH: So do you really groom those or what?

FRODO: [defensive] I left home in a great hurry. There was no time to find my brush.

ELIJAH: No, that's not – no! They... um... they look good. Great, even.

FRODO: Really?

ELIJAH: I mean it.

SECRETARY: [clearing her throat] All right, everyone's set? Are there any questions before we get started?

Orlando raises his hand.

ORLANDO: May I have a shirt, please?

SECRETARY: [offhand] No.

ORLANDO: [sighing] Right, then.

She retrieves her clipboard and starts flipping through the pages, making occasional notes with a pencil. In between notes, she keeps the pencil tucked behind one ear, giving her a busy and professional look.

SECRETARY: Anything else? No? Okay, I suppose the first thing to do is explain the situation. Mr. Wood, Mr. Bloom, you'll know most of this already, so bear with me here. [falling into a meditative tone] I could go on for hours about Tolkien and his works, but for now all you need to know is that many years ago, this man from the distant land of Great Britain wrote a book about the peoples of Middle-Earth, and in particular, the Quest of the Fellowship to destroy the One Ring. That would be about the nine of you, of course. And before anyone asks, no, I can't just tell you how it ends. Regulations and all, you understand.

Though I will say the book was a brilliant success. For decades, millions of people have fallen in love with the story and the fascinating world behind it. They are the admirers – the fans. [with a flourish] And where there are fans, there are fan fiction writers. People who want to create their own stories about that world – which means taking the characters of one tale and placing them into another. Easily done for a person with an imagination and a pen, but for the actual characters involved in the story, meaning you fine people? Much more complicated. You have to be transported between parallel universes and across time and space and all sorts of weird multidimensional complications.

SAMWISE: How dreadful!

SECRETARY: Oh, it's not as bad as it sounds. Most of the time you never even realize it's happening. You're plucked out, you experience the story, you're put back where you belong, and you don't remember a thing. At most, it might seem like a vague dream at the back of your mind.

ELIJAH: And this place is... what? Stuck somewhere in the middle?

SECRETARY: Yeah, it's this whole space-time continuum thing. I could explain it to you, but it would make your head explode. Just think of this Lounge as the fan fiction character's metaphysical truck stop. Somewhere to relax and get back to your old selves, if the stories you're put through get too bizarre. And your full-service gas station attendant and supplier of snack foods [sparkly smile] would be me!

GIMLI: Bah! Even if we accept this explanation of yours – and I'm far from that, mind you – it still does not explain why we have all been dragged here!

SECRETARY: Well, I'm not finished. If you'll allow me....

Gimli grumbles but quiets down.

SECRETARY: As I was saying. Up to a few years ago, it was all smooth sailing in your department. Being a book and a very long and complicated one at that, it was harder to write about than, say, a television show would be. To write a story, a person would first have to complete an immense novel, which means we were only dealing with a select few. Brainy college students and eccentric English professors, mainly – and no Internet for a long while either, so between fanzines and newsletters things would get rather slow. Even when it did get busy and fantasy became more popular, we'd often be able to palm your stories off to the Dungeons and Dragons department or something like that. We were spoiled rotten, there's no denying it.

BOROMIR: Strange. This actually sounds familiar.

ARAGORN: Yes, it's coming back to me somehow. [perplexed] But what happened? Why are things different?

The Secretary sighs and bows her head, the very picture of weariness.

SECRETARY: They made a movie.

SAMWISE: [gasp!] A movie! Oh no! .... What's a movie?

ORLANDO: What now?

SECRETARY: Oh, it's a good movie, I'm not saying it isn't. Very good, actually, everything a true fan could hope for. But there's the problem. You don't have to read the book to write a story anymore – you don't even have to pay very close attention. Almost everyone has seen it and loved it, and nowadays anyone with Internet access can write a story, and they do. The stories have been flooding in – it's too much! We were caught completely off guard!

Elijah is dumbfounded.

ELIJAH: Is that why Orlando and I are here? Because we made The Lord of the Rings too popular?

SECRETARY: Mainly, yes. Though keep in mind, there are plenty of stories about you out there. You're just as much a regular at the Lounge as any of them, Mr. Wood.

ORLANDO: [getting a kick out of it] What kind of stories does he get, exactly?

SECRETARY: Oh, they're usually harmless, if a little surreal. He starts out as a sulky disillusioned pothead, and then he meets some random girl, goes head over heels in three minutes flat and takes her to Cancun, and....

ELIJAH: Whoa, whoa, pothead? I'm not a pothead!

SECRETARY: Oh, you're not always a drug addict. Sometimes you're just clinically depressed.

ELIJAH: This is unbelievable! I'm twenty-one years old and I have the most satisfying career on the planet! Do I look miserable to you?

SECRETARY: [soothing] It's not that they think you're miserable, per se....

ELIJAH: Then what? They want me to be miserable?!

ORLANDO: [gleefully] You do look so adorable when you're brooding, "Lij."

ELIJAH: At least they let me keep my shirt on, "Orli."

ORLANDO: That's not funny!

SECRETARY: Gentlemen, gentlemen. You're missing the point. Since the movie came out, the Lord of the Rings department has been all but overwhelmed. A few stories a week, that's fine, but now suddenly it's every minute of every day! If you think you have it rough, imagine what Frodo must be going through!

Frodo is dismayed; the Fellowship stiffen.

SAMWISE: Bless me, if that Ring wasn't enough to deal with! What about Frodo?

SECRETARY: They won't leave him alone, that's what! People keep snatching him off for some epic or other, and I can never keep track of him! One moment the poor soul will be walking through Ithilien during some inner-dialogue story or something, and then BAM! He's been hobbit-napped, and now he's off in Moria doing a hurt-comfort romance story with Aragorn! I'm at my wit's end! [wearily rubbing her forehead] It's only a matter of time before some author goes and damages him, or even loses him entirely. The entire fan fiction community will be in an uproar, if Tolkien's ghost doesn't come charging like a mother bear and kill us all. And I shudder to think of the legal liabilities that will fall on your head if that happens, Mr. Wood.

ELIJAH: [still thrown by "hurt-comfort romance story with Aragorn"] I'm sorry, "legal liabilities"? I have legal liabilities now?!

SECRETARY: [apologetic] You wouldn't have to deal with it if you hadn't taken the part, I'm afraid. But you did, and that means taking some of the responsibility for him.

ORLANDO: You know, she has a point. If you hadn't been all about the big-eyed pouty face routine, poor Frodo wouldn't be having this problem.

ELIJAH: But that's stupid! You can't blame me for that! [to Frodo, demanding] Can you?

FRODO: [big-eyed pouty face] I do not understand!

SECRETARY: See? See? Heavens, I want to run off with him now!

ELIJAH: But... [deflates] Aw, man.

Legolas is staring at Orlando's attire (or general scarcity thereof) and looking very worried.

LEGOLAS: Speak plainly – what fate befalls me in this place? I fear a great evil bends its thought toward me.

ORLANDO: [as Legolas] A great evil bends its thought toward me! Woe! Torment! [normal voice] Come off it, would you? Are you the one in danger of catching pneumonia here? No, I didn't think so.

SECRETARY: [unhappy] I'm afraid it's worse for him than you think, Mr. Bloom. They're ... they're coming for him.

A chill, like a breath of icy wind, seems to pass through the Lounge. Legolas trembles.

GIMLI: [nervously] "They"? Who are they?

She can't answer – but glances miserably toward the door of the Mary Sue room. As if they sense her thought, a wailing chorus rises on the other side. Even Gandalf gasps as realization sinks in.

ELIJAH: God, that's horrible!

BOROMIR: No! This cannot be!

The Elf lowers his head, his fair face shadowed in despair.

LEGOLAS: It is my doom, then. A tiro nin, Fanuilos! *

ORLANDO: [blankly] Oh my word. [to Legolas, sincere] I'm sorry, mate. I didn't know.

ARAGORN: You do not stand alone! We shall fight to the end!

GIMLI: But who are they? What enemy do we face?

SECRETARY: [Galadriel-spooky] You know of whom I speak, Mithrandir.

GANDALF: Alas! this being is a bearer of great evil. She has many names, many faces. One by one, all men fall to her darkness.

SECRETARY: I know! Isn't that annoying?

And with that, the ominous mood is effectively squashed.

SECRETARY: [glowering in the direction of the door] People have been writing these characters up by the thousands from the moment Legolas came riding into Rivendell and straight into the heart of every teenage girl in the theater. They show up all ethereal beauty and dazzling wit and sickening melodrama, and they're all determined to go messing with the storyline and have poor Legolas fall head over heels in love with them. I've never seen the likes of it – they don't even make sense half the time. We have Elven Maids, and Incredibly Strong But Nonetheless Willowy Female Warriors, and Long Lost Twin Siblings of Established Characters, and Gossamer-Winged Faery Races That Tolkien Somehow Neglected To Mention, and Guardian Angels, and Kata-Weilding Animé Ninjas.... [muttering to herself] Animé. Animé! Tolkien was about as Japanese as a hot dog!

ELIJAH: Huh. I wondered why Sailor Moon was in there.

SECRETARY: You saw them! You can only guess what we're up against! They go hopping into stories without so much as a by-your-leave, they keep leaving pixie dust stains in the carpet, and they've utterly ruined the potted plants! [near tears] My beautiful Lounge!

FRODO: Is it even possible to stop them? It seems hopeless!

SECRETARY: It's not hopeless yet. Legolas is safe for now – but it'll only get worse if we don't do something. Far be it from me to criticize someone as legendary as Tolkien, but I do wish he'd thought to write up a few more strong female characters! He was just begging for Mary Sues to show up when he left them out. And then, heavens above, there are the slash stories.

This is something new. The Fellowship looks puzzled. Elijah and Orlando are suspicious that they've heard of this before – and wonder if things are about to get entertaining.

PIPPIN: [dubiously] "Slash" stories? What is Slash?

MERRY: A weapon of some kind? A sword?

PIPPIN: [sudden realization] Oh, Sting, you mean! That's Frodo's.

MERRY: Yes. He has the Sting stories.

SAMWISE: And old Mr. Bilbo too, if you remember.

FRODO: [examining the runes on the blade] Or before that, perhaps? Many a battle it must have seen, wielded by the elves of Beleriand long ago.

SECRETARY: [wistful] Oh my, that's such a nice idea! But no, they aren't exactly Sting stories, and yes, Merry and Pippin, you actually get quite a few of them.

MERRY: We do?

PIPPIN: Splendid!

SECRETARY: Hrm. Well. Yes. You see, in slash stories, two men, or two women – or, ah, two hobbits in your case, um, love each other.

ORLANDO: [wincing and grinning at the same time] Ouhh, here we go.

MERRY: What, me an' Pip?

PIPPIN: Well of course we do!

SECRETARY: Yes, yes, but I mean you really love each other.

Merry and Pippin look at her like she's gone batty. (More batty.)

MERRY: [and...?] Yes, we really love each other. We're best friends, certainly.

SECRETARY: No, I'm saying you reeeeeeeeally....

SAMWISE: What do you mean? You either love someone or you don't.

SECRETARY: Okay, try to think of it this way. If... Strider, say, were to decide to leave Arwen to be with another man, then that would be a slash story.

MERRY: But he did do that. He's with eight men.

SECRETARY: No! That's not what I mean!

PIPPIN: Well, say what you mean, then! Really, you aren't making much sense.

And with that, her patience runs out.

SECRETARY: Oh, for Pete's sake! Do I have to draw you pictures?

Beat.

MERRY: But if... [long pause] How would w— [longer pause] Oh, I say!

Elijah and Orlando have been sitting quietly throughout this exchange, trying to decide between collapsing with laughter and finding a hole to crawl into. The rest of the Fellowship is getting the concept and is in various stages of amusement and distaste. Gandalf, of course, seems rather unfazed by the whole thing.

GIMLI: Hah! There, young hobbit! That will teach you prudence, I'd wager!

SECRETARY: Now now, I wouldn't gloat if I were you. There are just as many who think you and our dear Mr. Greenleaf make quite the charming little pair.

Gimli does a marvelous rabid bulldog impression; Orlando and Legolas wear identical startled expressions.

ORLANDO: [bemused] What?

LEGOLAS: [astounded] What!

ELIJAH: Heh! [then, in response to Glare o' Brutal Axe Murder] Ahem. S'cuse me. Burped. [vigorously sips Pepsi]

GIMLI: I, Gimli son of Gloin, with an Elf! Treacherous! Vile! It is not to be borne!

SECRETARY: Well, you have it better than Aragorn, I'll say that much. It seems like the only stories he gets are slashy ones these days. Ones with Elrond, ones with Legolas, ones with Boromir, ones with Legolas AND Boromir (I try to keep you away from those), ones with Haldir, ones with Eómer, ones with Frodo.... now those Strider-slash-hobbit stories are a mite perplexing in the visual sense, I must say....

Boromir gapes; Frodo cringes; Elijah chokes on his Pepsi.

ARAGORN: Enough, enough! I shall be flung into tales of debauchery with any man I encounter on my travels, evidently!

SECRETARY: [snapping her fingers] Oo! Treebeard! Haven't seen one with Treebeard yet.

(Author's Note: If anyone reading this decides to go write an Aragorn/Treebeard story, I will shoot myself in the head.)

Pippin looks confused.

PIPPIN: Treebeard? Who's Treebeard?

SECRETERY: Don't worry, you'll find out. But with all due respect, Mr. Dúnadan, you can't go around kissing men's foreheads left and right and expect nothing to come of it. And with Arwen being practically the only female love interest in the entire book, and a good number of people trying to pair her off with Leg— oops.

ARAGORN and LEGOLAS: Arwen?!

SECRETARY: Oh, fudge, I didn't mean to bring that up.

ARAGORN: Ai, Undómiel! What ill tiding is this!

LEGOLAS: [appalled] Nay, Elessar, I swear to you!

SECRETARY: Now, now, there's no reason to get upset. People think you two Elves would look cute together, that's all I'm saying.

If ever an Elf could go red in the face....

LEGOLAS: Yet I know her not! And she has given her heart to another!

SECRETARY: Look, you know that and I know that....

ARAGORN: [calming himself] No, no, it is in fiction alone. Stay, Legolas. You have my trust. [grumbling] But the sooner I finish this Quest and marry her the better, that's for damn sure.

A lull falls. Elijah and Orlando, exhausted from restraining inappropriate fits of giggles, sit back and try to catch their breaths. Gandalf looks grimly determined; Frodo begins to wonder if the burden of the One Ring is so hard to bear after all; Legolas shoots Gimli a furtive glance, and shudders, and glances, and shudders, and glances....

Tentatively, the Secretary breaks the silence.

SECRETARY: It comes to this: if things continue as they are, this realm is in danger of being overpowered. We can only bend space-time and reality so much before boundaries weaken and rifts begin to open. If we don't want one too many Frodo Angst stories to collapse this entire dimension in on itself, we must find some way to deal with these stories and protect you all from great harm.

She pauses, her eyes searching each of them, pleading.

SECRETARY: So what is to be done?

Cue the cricket.

 

* "O guard me" or "O look toward me, Elbereth!"

Chapter Text

Make yourselves comfortable and put on some coffee, because it's going to be a long night. The prim semicircle that our group was seated in has given way to careless disorder. The Secretary is sitting down and idly munching Doritos; Aragorn paces about the room, thinking; Legolas has laid his bow and quiver next to his chair, and Orlando is fiddling with one of the arrows. They're all far beyond feeling awkward around each other at this point; right now, they're just eleven guys stuck in the same big mess.

SAMWISE: [morose] We're never going to get out of this, are we?

SECRETARY: Well, not with an attitude like that, we're not.

GIMLI: I still say we are a match for them! Why sit here quibbling? Send us to that realm and we shall gain a swift victory!

ELIJAH: Look, I'm not any happier about this than you are, but I don't think fan fiction writers deserve to be hacked to pieces. Rapped across the knuckles and forced to study grammar, maybe, but....

SECRETARY: We can't heckle the authors, it's against regulations. Besides, plenty of people do that already and it never works.

ORLANDO: Why can't you just shut down this department, if it's that much of a problem? Or at least put a limit on the number of Rings stories per day.

SECRETARY: [grimly] No. We will not censor the freedom to write; we'd lose too many good stories along with the bad ones. There's no way around it, people. The solution has to come from you.

MERRY: [sulkily drinking his soda] Why do we always have to save the world? It gets right bothersome.

Legolas watches Merry with idle curiosity, then picks up a can and tries to figure out the tab. Almost absently, Orlando takes the can, pops it open, hands it back. Legolas sniffs the beverage warily and tries a sip. Elf-keen sense of taste, ridiculous sugar content – he practically shudders out of his chair. Orlando shrugs, takes it again and starts drinking it.

LEGOLAS: Ai! What mountain brings forth waters such as this?

ORLANDO: No no no, it isn't supposed to be water. Mountain Dew's just a brand name.

LEGOLAS: [not exactly getting it] Brand name.

ORLANDO: Yeah. See, it's basically carbonated water with syrup in it, and they call it Mountain Dew to advertise it because it's supposed to be refreshing, and good GOD this conversation is weird!

BOROMIR: [shaking his head] I cannot see a way out. What chance do we have, if we can be snatched from our world at any moment?

GANDALF: [dryly] And because you are in a strange land, you must surrender your fate to chance? That would bode ill for us indeed, once we reach Mordor.

FRODO: But what can we do? If we wish to return home, we must play out the story; we cannot control how it ends.

SECRETARY: Not how it ends, no. There are subtle things you can still decide for yourself, but for the most part you just have to follow along.

Aragorn stops in mid-stride and scowls at her in frustration.

ARAGORN: There must be something we can do! What hope is there of succeeding in our Quest if we cannot defeat even this paltry obstacle?

SECRETARY: [checking her watch] Well, whatever we decide, it had better get going pretty quick. Merry and Pippin have a shounen ai scheduled at Amon Hen in ninety minutes, and I don't even know how long we can keep Legolas.

ORLANDO: Wait, Amon Hen? Isn't that the bit where all those goblins come charging out of nowhere, and Merry and Pip—

SECRETARY: [eep!] Mr. Bloom! Please!

ORLANDO: [taken aback] What? I was just....

SECRETARY: I'm sorry, really I am, but if you don't mind, I had to pluck them out of Book Two, Chapter Three. Page 277. Just before "Crebain out of Fangorn and Dunland" and all that. They haven't got that far yet.

ORLANDO: Oh, whoops! [brightly, to Merry and Pippin] Right! Forget I said that.

Uncertain pause. The Mary Sues seem to be having a sleepover party (replete with pillow fight) next door, and it's hard to concentrate over the noise. Frodo shakes it off with an effort.

FRODO: [to Secretary] You said there are some things we can choose for ourselves. What can we control?

SECRETARY: Well, how cooperative you are with the author, for one thing. I mean, if the story isn't a good one, Gandalf can be impossible to write. And how many stories does he get each week? Maybe two.

LEGOLAS: Would this help the rest of us?

SECRETARY: Yes, some. But it's exhausting work, especially going up against so many. [pauses, sighs] I think it's going to have to be a little less direct than just fighting the stories. We need to be creative about this.

ORLANDO: [half-serious] How about summoning a troop of Uruk-hai to the Mary Sue room?

SECRETARY: Oh, ha ha. [then, as she warms to the idea] Say now!

ELIJAH: Are you sure that's a good idea? They don't have any sort of Hydra Head thing going for them, do they? The Mary Sues, I mean, not the Uruk-hai.

Pippin looks confused.

PIPPIN: Uruk-hai?

ORLANDO: Err... you'll find out.

PIPPIN: [going off] Well that's just lovely! I should have stayed home. "Someone with intelligence," my eye!

SECRETARY: [re: idea] It is awfully tempting, I have to admit. But even if it was successful, more will come – they always do. And at worst, the warriors would fall to the Mary Sues' power before the first blow fell, and what would we have then? A bunch of lovesick Uruk-hai. Wouldn't be pretty. No, we have to strike at the core of the problem.

GIMLI: And what does that mean?

SECRETARY: It means each of you has to find some way to influence the writers, as to avoid overuse of certain plot points. I have one or two ideas, but we're in need of some serious brainstorming here.

ELIJAH: Well, let's get it over with, before Legolas gets sent on a picnic with Aragorn, or Fiesty Barmaid With A Troubled Past, or whoever the hell they decide to pair him up with this time.

LEGOLAS: [wryly] I would choose you, Aragorn, if that is any comfort.

Orlando laughs. Earlier bickering aside, the guy is pretty cool.

Having a concrete task at hand, the Secretary returns to crisp determination. She flips through the pages in the clipboard and gets out her pencil.

SECRETARY: Okay. What I'm going to do is deal with you one at a time. We'll start at the characters with the smallest problems and work our way upward. Mr. Gandalf, as I've said, you're more than capable of holding your own in the stories, so I won't preach. If I could just ask, though – do you still have contact with the Old Guard? You know, the scholars and intellectuals who fell in love with the book fifty years back?

GANDALF: Yes, at times.

SECRETARY: Good. If you'd do me the hugest favor and drop them a note. A lot of them are teaching advanced English classes, or have children and grandchildren of their own. Their power is stronger than they imagine. The great minds of old can use these movies to rekindle the appeal of fine literature. [beat] Or at least sit the kids down and make them read the darn book for once.

Gandalf nods sagely.

GANDALF: I will deliver your message. In return, please ask the late Mr. Tolkien to stop calling on me at all hours of the night to vent his frustrations, as it makes staying properly rested a difficulty.

SECRETARY: [making a note] "Stop griping. Can't sleep." Gotcha. Okay, moving on to Boromir.

Boromir lifts his chin proudly, ready to face down the universe. The Secretary skims through his case file.

SECRETARY: Let's see here. Boromir son of Denethor... knight of Gondor... pretty sheild... right. The situation isn't desperate. You get enough of the romance fics, but not too many, glad to say. Slash gets heavy at times, but it's nothing we can't handle. Your story potential is, uhm, not quite as expansive as the others, so you should be fine.

BOROMIR: [slightly insulted] Expansive... feh. Why would my legend be any less than the rest of the Fellowship?

He gives Elijah a questioning glance. Elijah squirms.

ELIJAH: Hey yeah, you know, that's... gee, I couldn't say.

BOROMIR: Hmph. They don't know a good tale when they see it, I'll warrant.

SECRETARY: Well, that's debatable, but it's neither here nor there. In any case, if things do start getting rough, we have a loophole. For some of your stories, we can pop in Faramir instead, and they never even know the difference. He was so eager to go to Rivendell before your father sent you, he'll be glad to help.

She flips a few pages.

SECRETARY: Okay, now it gets a bit more complicated. Mr. Aragorn? Oh, stop pacing, would you, you're making me dizzy. Now here's the situation. You're an appealing character, really you are. And your vow to protect Frodo on his Quest is, let's face it, charming as all get-out. It's just ... well, the slash. We've been trying so hard to handle it, but it's getting a bit much. You do have a distinct lack of lady friends, after all.

ARAGORN: [biting] Do forgive me if I haven't spent my time throwing myself at women for the past several months. There were other things to tend to, even if I wasn't betrothed to –

SECRETARY: [a tad nervous] Arwen, yes. Funny you should bring her up. See, your obvious attachment to her makes your Mary Sue factor almost zero, and that's a good thing, believe me. And I'm in no way trying to insult her, she's a fascinating character, very... pretty, and noble, and... chaste, and....

ARAGORN: Pretty! Noble! She is nothing less than the fairest and purest of all living beings in Middle-earth! She is the greatest treasure of ...!

SECRETARY: Yes, yes, I realize that, I do! It's just that we see so little of her. And no offense, but she could loosen up just a smidge.

As Aragorn sputters over this last comment, the Secretary turns to the actors.

SECRETARY: I understand that your director is making some decisions in regards to increasing her role in the story. Fleshing her out, so to speak.

ORLANDO: Yeah, pretty much. I think he's still figuring out how far he can take that before the Tolkien following gets upset.

SECRETARY: Right, right. And I'll trust him to stay as true to the book's intent as he can. But my superiors are encouraging Arwen's development as much as possible. The screenplay is technically fan fiction, after all, and that means we have a little influence here. I've spoken to Arwen a few times in the past couple of days, and she's agreed. If we can delve a bit deeper into her character, that's great. If we can get her into a battle or two – fabulous. I'd even be willing to have the movies play up just a bit of a love triangle aspect with Legolas... easy now, Aragorn, I said just a bit. Giving Arwen a sexy edge makes her more interesting to the general public, meaning more people will write Aragorn&Arwen stories. Let's face it, better for us to have Arwen slightly off character than to have you lusting after the hobbits all the time.

Aragorn starts to argue, but breaks off. She's got him there.

SECRETARY: Would you agree to this arrangement?

ARAGORN: Very well, if we must.

SECRETARY: Good, good. She'll be right back to normal when she returns to the book, I promise.

ELIJAH: And hey! Speaking as one who has seen One Night at McCool's? Sexy Arwen is a big plus.

ORLANDO: Most definitely. Have a good time, you old dog, you.

Aragorn tries not to look too interested.

SECRETARY: Moving on, then. Mr. Gimli... this should be fun....

GIMLI: [adamant] I will not go traipsing about with the Elf. I refuse.

SECRETARY: I know, I know. And that's part of what I wanted to discuss with you anyway. You haven't been holding up your end of the fics nearly enough, I have to say. There's the slash, yes, but it's a relatively small amount, and other than that? Practically nothing. I haven't come across one romance story for you – not one. Really, is that fair to the others?

MERRY: Oh, I can't quite say that's his fault.

BOROMIR: [teasing] What with all the charming hobbit competition, you mean?

MERRY: No, no, it's just that Dwarf-maidens don't seem to be in great supply. Even Bilbo never saw one, and he visited with the Dwarves all the time.

SAMWISE: Aye, Mr. Merry, that's a fact. Truth be told, I've sometimes wondered if they exist at all.

GIMLI: Don't be daft! What, you think we Dwarves just spring out of the ground? Of course they exist! They just stay at home in the mines more often than not. Better place for them, too. Smelting to be done. [beat] Though the road does get lonely, betimes...

SECRETARY: [jotting away] Well, maybe if you lot were equal opportunity employers who let their women pitch in every so often, you wouldn't get so lonely, would you? Now, I'm going to see if I can dig up some Dwarf-centered stories for you. There has to be someone who'd be interested in developing that aspect of Middle-Earth. And we'll see what we can do about the she-Dwarf thing. In the meantime, can anyone think of some way to broaden Gimli's appeal to the younger crowd?

ELIJAH: I don't know. I mean, he already talks loud and beheads things; what more do you want?

ORLANDO: [smirking] You could have him join the WWF, just for grins.

The Secretary stares at him blankly for a long beat.

SECRETARY: That has to be the strangest thing I've ever heard.

ORLANDO: Yeah, I wasn't seri—

SECRETARY: I love it! That's going on the list! [scribble scribble] What a good idea!

ORLANDO: Good ide— it was a joke!

SECRETARY: No, really! He'll be a hit!

GIMLI: What are you talking about? Who will I hit?

SECRETARY: [really going with it] Big hulking wrestlers, that's who! Annoying loudmouthed warriors who really haven't a clue about fighting techniques! You could wipe the floor with them!

Gimli lights up like a 100 watt bulb.

GIMLI: A battle! Now that's more like it!

SECRETARY: Just imagine! There's even one who calls himself The Rock! If we had you two face off, the slogan potential would be endless!

ELIJAH: Dude, you can do that?!

SECRETARY: Absolutely. If Star Trek: Voyager can do it, so can we. Okay! I'll schedule some stories for Gimli in the WWF department, then. Great thinking, Mr. Bloom. [a thought] Say, you should try writing fan fiction yourself sometime!

ORLANDO: Ha. No.

SECRETARY: Well, good progress anyway. Let's talk hobbits, shall we? Merry and Pippin, we'll start with you.

PIPPIN: Right!

MERRY: Huzzah!

At this point, it should be noted that Merry and Pippin are each on their second can of soda and have their eyes on a third. Sugar high ahoy.

SECRETARY: I’d have to say the main problem here is characters getting pigeonholed. There are so many stories people could write about these two, if they’d just take a moment to think of the possibilities. Merry’s surprising ingenuity, for example, or the history of the infamous Tookish streak that gets Pippin into so much trouble. But no. It’s always slash, hurt/comfort, slash, hurt/comfort. Pippin falls down and bumps his head and Merry has to smooch him back to health. Poor things.

BOROMIR: Egads. How irritating!

SECRETARY: I’ll grant you that, but it’s a bit more than just irritating. There’s a real danger when you get characters into a rut like that. If you keep putting them in the same story over and over, it takes longer and longer to get them back into character. And we can’t send them back to The Lord of the Rings acting like that, it would mess everything up. You two will have to do something to get separate stories for a while.

PIPPIN: Well, don’t look at me! Merry’s the one that’s doting on me all the time.

MERRY: Doting on you! Rescuing your sorry backside is more like it!

They start bickering rapidly.

PIPPIN: Oh, you do not!

MERRY: I do too!

PIPPIN: Do not!

MERRY: Do too!

PIPPIN: Do not!

MERRY: Do t— stop that, Pippin!

PIPPIN: There you go again! Acting all high-and-mighty, you… you pillock!

MERRY: [squeaking indignantly] Git!

PIPPIN: Prat!

MERRY: Whiney… stupid… head!

PIPPIN: I mock your feeble insults! Hahahahahahahahahahahaha!!!

Beat.

ORLANDO: [to Pippin] Right, no more caffeine for you. Hand it over, boyo.

The Secretary looks bemused and makes a note onto her clipboard.

SECRETARY: Well well. Not quite the solution I had in mind, but it'll do.

ELIJAH: What solution? Mountain Dew? How does that work?

SECRETARY: Think about it. Imagine the reaction if every M/P story was two hobbits on a sugar high having s—

ELIJAH: [clutching his head] OH. God. Oh.

SECRETARY: Yes, that's the one. Merry, Pippin, I'll just keep some two liter bottles handy when you have slash duty. One or two stories like that and they'll start looking for something else to write.

ORLANDO: [managing not to laugh] You think that'll be enough? Those writers, you know, they're persistent....

SECRETARY: Well, if it comes to that, we'll try getting them drunk.

ORLANDO: Ah. Good plan.

PIPPIN: [sobering] Just a moment – you're certain we won't remember any of this later?

SECRETARY: Promise. Though you might notice a slight headache and some pulled muscles the next morning.

MERRY: Well, okay. As long as you promise.

ELIJAH: [rubbing the bridge of his nose] That is not right. Gyahh....

SECRETARY: Good, that’s one more down. Let’s keep going. Just a few left and then we’re done, but now we get to the big problems. Frodo, Sam… ergh.

FRODO: [depressed] I’m sorry. I never meant to cause so much trouble.

SAMWISE: It isn’t your fault, Mr. Frodo! Why, it’s that blasted Ring again, more likely than not.

Frodo absently fingers something tucked into his collar.

FRODO: Does it have such a power? How dreadful that would be!

GANDALF: The wiles of Sauron are cunning indeed. All the more reason to destroy it, as soon as we can.

Elijah perks up. All at once, he's oddly intrigued.

ELIJAH: So you really have it here? What's it look like?

FRODO: [hedging] Ohhh, not much to it, really. Round, shiny, yellow-colored....

ELIJAH: Do you think I could s—

SECRETARY: Ooookay, punkin. Don't make me separate you two, all righty?

ORLANDO: Honestly, Elijah, you know better than that.

ELIJAH: [a bit startled] What? I wasn't gonna!

SECRETARY: Yes, that's what they all say.

BOROMIR: Hmph. Weakling.

ELIJAH: Okay, YOU of all pe—

SECRETARY: A-hem!

ELIJAH: [grumpy] Well he shouldn't!

SECRETARY: Mo-ving on, please. The point is, Frodo is getting worn out and Sam is being typecast as a bumbling puppy without an ounce of sense. There are too many people putting them into too many crazy situations all at the same time, and it’ll end in disaster if we don’t stop it. We should be thinking less about mysterious rings of power and more about fixing the problem.

ELIJAH: Okay, fine. Is there something I can do?

SECRETARY: Well, that depends. Tell me about this romantic comedy thing of yours coming up.

ELIJAH: The wha? Oh! Yeah, it's this –

SECRETARY: There's a pretty girl in it?

ELIJAH: Well, Mandy Moore....

SECRETARY: Do you kiss her?

Elijah blinks.

ELIJAH: Aaaaand how is this relevant?

SECRETARY: Trust me, it's a huge help. The faster you can lure people over to your other characters, the better off we'll be. When does the movie come out?

ELIJAH: I don't know. Sometime next year.

SECRETARY: [shaking her head] The Two Towers will be out first. We don't have that much time. Hokay, Frodo. Looks like the ball's in your court.

FRODO: [bravely] What must I do?

SECRETARY: First off, you're going to have to go easy on the "wide-eyed" thing. No, I'm serious, your eyes just – there! Yes, that! Stop it! Okay, that's better. And second, if you want to avoid being cuddled to death, then the only choice is to become less cuddly. You could – goodness, I don't know – start arguments, or hog the food, or whine all the time....

Frodo is not liking this idea. He starts to protest.

SECRETARY: Wait, wait, hear me out. When you return to Middle-Earth and resume your Quest, you may be as courteous and endearing as you like. You have nothing to fear from that in the book. But fan fiction is a whole different ballgame. You have to adjust. Roughen yourself up every so often. Be rude to people. The less-determined writers will start to leave you alone.

SAMWISE: [stoutly] You can be rude to me, Mr. Frodo!

SECRETARY: There you go. Perfect. That'll help with the slash issue too. Here, Frodo, give it a try.

FRODO: But... but I could never...!

SECRETARY: Now now, I know you don't want to, but we all have to make sacrifices here. Start small; call him a name or something. He understands, don't you, Sam?

MERRY: [enjoying himself] Go on, Frodo! Have at 'im!

Expectant pause. Poor Frodo's at a loss.

FRODO: Um... w-well all right, uh... Sam, you're a... a...

Samwise braces himself; ohhh, the loyalty...

FRODO: ...blockhe— [caves instantly] No, I can't! Oh Sam, I'm sorry! I didn't mean it!

SAMWISE: It's all right, Mr. Frodo!

They hug.

ELIJAH: Wow, guys, that was brutal.

SECRETARY: [struggling] Well...maybe if they worked on it a little, they could... [gives up] ...alter the most touching, well-known friendship in literary history. Drat. It won't work.

ORLANDO: Of course not. What with Tolkien's idealization of the whole master/servant rela— Sam!

SAMWISE: What! What'd I do!

Orlando has an idea. Boy, does Orlando have an idea.

ORLANDO: Why do you stay with Frodo so much, Samwise?

SAMWISE: [bewildered] Because I promised him I would.

ORLANDO: Why?

SAMWISE: Because it’s my duty, if you follow me.

ORLANDO: And why’s that?

SAMWISE: [fumbling] Because… because I’m his friend, and…

ORLANDO: [triumphant] And his servant. Am I right?

Beat.

SAMWISE: Well, yes. Yes, you could say that.

ORLANDO: And the Gaffer was Bilbo’s servant, wasn’t he?

SAMWISE: Yes, but….

ORLANDO: How long has your family been serving others, Sam?

SAMWISE: I don’t know. A while….

ORLANDO: A long while, right? For generations. Because it’s expected of you.

MERRY: What difference does that make?

ORLANDO: What difference! I should think it’s obvious. I mean, just because Sam is born into a certain family, he has to settle for tending Frodo’s garden for the rest of his life? That doesn’t seem fair. It’s right exploitive, if you ask me.

Frodo is shocked at the very idea. Elijah is trying not to snicker.

FRODO: Exploitive!

SAMWISE: [resentful] He is not! I get holidays whenever I like!

ORLANDO: Well, sure, you do. You’re one of the lucky ones. What about all the other hobbits in the Shire that have to drudge away cooking the meals or cleaning the chimneys all day? Some of them could be making lives for themselves, starting their own careers, getting educated. But they’re stuck being the hired help, all thanks to some muddled-up family tradition put in place by the upper classes. Don’t you see? It's all part of this... outdated imperialist dogma which perpetuates the economic and social differences in your society.

ELIJAH: [under his breath, á la Monty Python] I'm being repressed! I'm being repressed!

ORLANDO: Quiet, I'm working here. [to Samwise] What I'm saying is, the circumstances of your socioeconomic status have no bearing on your potential. Defy the norm, Sam! You could set a new standard! You could advance a new spirit of equality! You could... [hesitates; it's worth the risk] You could be Mayor!

PIPPIN: Mayor? Sam?

SAMWISE: Me?!

ORLANDO: You! Am I right, Elijah?

ELIJAH: [deadpan] Abso-LUTE-ly. We have a sense about these things, you know.

SAMWISE: [in awe] Bless me!

The Secretary shakes her head wryly, but doesn't interrupt. Orlando’s in his element.

ORLANDO: In fact, I happen to think you can do anything Frodo can, if you just put your mind to it. Why should he get all the attention? Get out there on your own and kick some ass!

Despite his brief confusion as to how kicking an ass would remedy the situation, Samwise is obviously intrigued. Still, he wavers.

SAMWISE: But I can’t just go off and leave him. He’ll be needing my help.

ORLANDO: Exactly. And this is your chance to help him, don’t you see? He has more than enough to be worrying about right now. If you must be pulled out of Middle-earth at any given moment, take control of these stories and give him a break. You have a responsibility to him – and to hobbits everywhere – to take action. So what are you going to do?

SAMWISE: [stronger now] Well, when you put it like that, I suppose I might….

ORLANDO: You might or you will? Right now, Sam! Make a choice! Take a stand! Will you do it?

That does it. Good ol' Sam is fired up.

SAMWISE: All right! All right, I will!

ORLANDO: Excellent!

ELIJAH: You da hobbit!

SECRETARY: [breathless] My, but you paid attention at that Guildhall academy of yours!

ORLANDO: Thanks, I do my best. [aside to Elijah] "You da hobbit"?

Elijah shrugs, grinning.

SECRETARY: Okay. Okay, I think that will work. Good luck, Samwise, you're going to need it. I guess that just leaves Legolas, and....

Everyone stares at the door of the Mary Sue room. Everyone slumps. Next door, several of the Mary Sues have got out lyres and pan flutes and are playing a stirring Christina Aguilera medley.

ORLANDO: You know what the worst part is? She's immortal.

SECRETARY: Immortal and unchangeable. There's really no avoiding her in any fandom, to say nothing of yours.

LEGOLAS: Then what can be done? Have I no hope?

SECRETARY: Now now, we can't give up before we've started. We've got this far, haven't we?

PIPPIN: What if... well, maybe someone could write a story where Legolas goes off his head and shoots her full of arrows?

LEGOLAS: [desperate] Yes, I could do that!

SECRETARY: That story's been written already. She comes back and haunts him in his sleep. It... doesn't end well.

ARAGORN: Then some trick, perhaps, to make Legolas less appealing to her?

SECRETARY: Well, there's always....

ARAGORN: .... which would not involve him falling in love with me?

SECRETARY: Oh. No, not really. The whole "immortal wisest and fairest of all beings" thing is too much of a force.

LEGOLAS: Curse my Elvish beauty! It seems I must fling myself in front of an Orc's poisoned dart if I wish to escape!

SECRETARY: They wrote that one too. She saves your life by turning you into a vampire.

Legolas groans and buries his face in his hands. Glum pause. Things aren't looking good.

ELIJAH: Honestly. Give any character piercing eyes, mystical fighting skills and a British accent and people go absolutely nuts over….

The Secretary’s head snaps up.

SECRETARY: Hold on a moment – what did you say?

ELIJAH: [puzzled] Oh, you know. The whole "ancient race of graceful warriors" mystique. They love that stuff.

All at once, the Secretary is aglow. She snatches up her clipboard and pencil.

SECRETARY: That’s it. That’s it! Gracious, why didn’t I think of that myself! How perfectly simple!

ELIJAH: What? What’d I say?

SECRETARY: [scrawling notes] Let’s see now… Link from The Legend of Zelda… Drizzt from The Dark Elf trilogy… a couple of Babylon 5’s Minbari… Robert Jordan’s Aeil race should give us at least three or four… we could get Obi Wan Kenobi if George Lucas doesn't sue....

Elijah and the rest of the group are utterly confused by this time.

ELIJAH: Will you stop for five seconds? Seriously, what did I say?

SECRETARY: Well, these characters are clones, you see.

ORLANDO: Ohhhh, clones. Okay. No, wait, I’m still lost.

SECRETARY: Sorry, just a bit of the jargon around here. All of these characters, to varying degrees, are inspired by Tolkien’s Elves. Because Tolkien defined the fantasy world so completely, there isn’t a single one of these characters that hasn’t been influenced by Legolas in some way.

GIMLI: Ah, I see! Then as far as the unholy masses are concerned….

SECRETARY: They’re just as good as Legolas. For all the Mary Sues care, they are Legolas. Hence, The Clones.

She finishes her list with a flourish and grins at them.

SECRETARY: Watch this – here’s a neat trick. [lifting her clipboard aloft and speaking in ringing tones] It Is Done!

Brief silence, and then – shazam. From the next room comes a noise that’s somewhere between tinkling crystal, howling wind, and a grand finale fireworks display. The door to the Mary Sue room is backlit in dazzling light which swirls, flashes, and shimmers with nifty four-pointed sparkle thingies. As everyone gasps and shields their eyes (as is expected of people gazing at nifty four-pointed sparkle thingies) the light seems to condense to a spot just inside the door and wink out. Out of nowhere, countless manly voices take up a stirring call; the Mary Sues squeal deafeningly in response. The ground begins to rumble. The Lounge shakes as thousands upon thousands of dainty feet pound the foundations in a stampede.

ARAGORN: [shouting over the din] What have you done?!

SECRETARY: [gleeful] Wait for it!

Even as she speaks, the noise reaches its height and starts to subside. The sound of running feet dwindles; the shrieks fade to a distant howl, then to a wailing note on the wind, then to silence.

All is quiet. Their faces begin to light up.

ELIJAH: [whispering] Does anybody else hear that?

Legolas strains his Elvish hearing to the utmost.

LEGOLAS: [puzzled] I hear nothing.

ELIJAH: [woohoo!] I know!

Legolas slumps with relief.

SAMWISE: It worked! They're gone!

ARAGORN: A triumph! The Battle of the Clones!

ELIJAH: Since Attack of the Clones would be copyright infringement. Ha ha ha! Hoo boy.

ORLANDO: Oh, Elijah. For God's sake, man.

ELIJAH: Sorry. Sorry.

LEGOLAS: But what has happened? Where have they all gone?

SECRETARY: It’s simple, really. I summoned those characters to embark on heroic quests – ones which require the assistance of a few dozen courageous and beautiful maidens each. The quests will take at least as long as yours, if not longer, and they’ll be romantic and adventurous enough to satisfy the most melodramatic heart. I’d say we can divert a good three-fourths of your Mary Sues to these stories and they’ll never know the difference. You can get a good night’s sleep for once, Mr. Greenleaf – or a good night’s Elvish fugue state, whatever you want to call it.

GANDALF: Most impressive!

SECRETARY: [blushing] Oh, goodness, Mr. Gandalf. You could do much better any day of the week, you know that.

She makes a final note into her clipboard, then pauses. She glances at the ceiling, listens for a moment, and breathes a deep sigh of satisfaction. All is calm in the fabric of space-time.

SECRETARY: Ahhh! Much better.

MERRY: [hopeful] So does this mean we're done?

SECRETARY: Looks like it!

ORLANDO: Wait, what about us? You can handle our stories okay?

SECRETARY: Oh, it isn't much of a problem. [hinting] Of course, if either of you were to decide to get married or join a monastery in the immediate future, I certainly wouldn't complain....

Slight beat.

ELIJAH: I like her. She's funny.

SECRETARY: [resigned] All right, it never hurts to ask. Just one thing – in the unlikely event that you read the stories written about you and experience negative side effects such emotional scarring or recurring nightmares....

ORLANDO: [getting it] Ohhh. We wouldn't hold you accountable.

SECRETARY: Really? Oh, good. That's very understanding of you.

ELIJAH: Sure. It's cool. Do we have to sign something?

SECRETARY: Nahh, I trust you. Well! I guess the only thing left to do is send you all back where you came from. You folks back to the book, and you two back to your fanfics.

ORLANDO: I don't suppose you could put us back a little further along? Say, just after the "The End" bit? I'm not keen on losing my pants too.

SECRETARY: Ohhhh, goodness, I don't know, that's completely against regulations.... [caving in blithely] What the hey, we all deserve a break. Off you go.

The Fellowship start gathering their gear together.

GIMLI: It's back to our extremely grim and perilous Quest, I suppose.

PIPPIN: You know what the funny thing is? I don't feel so bad about that anymore.

SAMWISE: Me neither. Why, I'd even be in the mood for making some sausage rolls for dinner when we get back.

PIPPIN: Oo! Sausage rolls! How do we get to Middle-earth?

SECRETARY: [pointing to the larger door] Down the hall, fifth door on the right. Not the fifth door on the left, that's Gotham City.

Everyone's set. Aragorn and Boromir lead the way toward the door, with Elijah and Orlando bringing up the rear; the Secretary stands next to the exit to usher them out.

SECRETARY: [flight attendant] Buh-bye! Thank you! Bye now!

ARAGORN: The Fellowship strikes its first victory! I am proud to be a part of so courageous a group.

BOROMIR: In an entirely fraternal and comradely sense, of course.

ARAGORN: [as he and Boromir exit] Well, of course.

MERRY: You know, it's a shame we can't just leave the Ring here. It's as good a hiding place as any, I'd say.

SECRETARY: Oh, heavens no, not the Lounge! With all the characters that come through here? What if one of the Star Wars people found it or something?

ORLANDO: Heh heh. Jar Jar Binks with the One Ring.

GANDALF: Do not speak of such evil!

ORLANDO: You're right, sorry.

SECRETARY: Goodbye, Mr. Gandalf. Always an honor working with you. Good luck with the whole... you know... [whispers] oretold-fay agic-tray eath-day.

GANDALF: Oh, yes, that. It'll be a nuisance, but I'm rather certain it ends well.

SECRETARY: I'm sure it will. Until next time! Bye, Merry and Pippin! Oh! Gimli! Just a tip – you might want to practice fighting with folding chairs.

GIMLI: [from the hallway] Hah! I will defeat those ruffians barehanded!

Just before he exits, Legolas faces Elijah and Orlando, places a hand over his heart, and bows.

LEGOLAS: Elen síla lúmenn' omentielvo.

ORLANDO: Um... thank you?

ELIJAH: [sotto, to Frodo] What's that mean again?

FRODO: [prompting] "A star shines...."

ELIJAH: Oh, right! "Hour of our meeting." Got it.

SECRETARY: Bye, Frodo. Good luck on your Quest.

FRODO: Thank you.

ORLANDO: Now Sam, remember what I said. It's up to you.

SAMWISE: I will.

As Frodo and Sam exit....

FRODO: [anxious] You know I never meant to repress your potential, don't you, Sam?

SAMWISE: Oh, don't you worry, Mr. Frodo. We'll just have to discuss my wages later, is all.

ELIJAH: Watch out for giant spiders!

SECRETARY: Mr. Wood! Now what did I tell you?

ELIJAH: Well, I'm just sayin'. General rule of thumb.

SECRETARY: [skeptical] Sure. Oh, I almost forgot, I need to take you two through the central office to send you back. It won't take long.

ORLANDO: [walking out the door] That's fine. And when I get home, I'm going to put on a tee shirt. And a flannel shirt, and maybe a sweatshirt over that if I can find one that matches, and a coat, and....

Elijah angles a curious glance at his own clothes, which were perfectly normal before the Mary Sue attack.

ELIJAH: What story did you pull me out of, anyway? It couldn't have been too crazy if I was dressed like this.

The Secretary laughs gently and pats his shoulder.

SECRETARY: Oh, you dear thing, you. I think it's better if you never find out.

ELIJAH: Yee.

They exit.

 

 

THE END

Chapter Text

Because you all are being so incredibly nice to me, I bring you....

The Fanfic Lounge: LotR – OUTTAKES

*****

Early Act 2, as Elijah and Orlando are sitting on the couch talking:

ELIJAH: Wait... do you hear something?

ORLANDO: [puzzled] What?

ELIJAH: [just a bit panicky] Please tell me you can hear that.

ORLANDO: [hears it too] Wait a second. Something beeping? Like an
alarm?

And sure enough, the sound is audible; a faint, persistent noise like a
stopwatch going off. The Fellowship begins to hear it, and a few of them
take one or two steps across the room, trying to figure out what it is.

ELIJAH: It sounds like it's coming from....

He gets up, listens for a moment, and crouches down to look under the
couch. Seeing something, he lies flat on his stomach and sweeps his arm
in. After a moment or two of straining, he pulls something out, sits back
on his heels, and holds the object up. It's a Star Trek tricorder – not a
prop but a real one, displays flashing and chirping away. Elijah and
Orlando stare at it blankly. Elijah closes it; the beeping stops.

ORLANDO: Crikey.

Elijah looks rather spooked. Handling the device as if it might explode,
he gets up, walks over to put it on the coffee table, and gets the crap
scared out of him when Samwise, who was looking under the table for the
noise, pops his head back out.

ELIJAH: Dyah!

SAMWISE: Agh!

In an instant, Legolas has an arrow to the string. Orlando leaps to his
feet.

ORLANDO: Down, boy!

SAMWISE: I'm sorry! I'm sorry!

ELIJAH: That's okay! You're fine!

Legolas lowers his bow and struggles to calm himself – and Orlando, under
stress as it is, proceeds to go off on him.

ORLANDO: What is it with you and shooting at people?!

LEGOLAS: [tightly] I'm... sorry.

ORLANDO: Did I play you to be such a psychopath?! I mean, bloody hell!

*****

I toyed around with this part for a while; it's a fun little scene. The
tricorder bit was a reference to the original Fanfic Lounge story I wrote
for Star Trek: DS9. While this LotR version is by far the biggest and most
intricate of the two, the DS9 one was the birth of the idea and I'm still
fond of it. I ended up leaving this part out because I just couldn't
figure out how to fit it in without messing up the flow of the story.
While Elijah and Samwise scaring each other and Legolas going for his bow
made me giggle, I decided that we already had Psycho Legolas and Bloody
Hell Orlando in the previous act. This part would have been redundant;
plus it would have made it much harder to have Orlando and Legolas striking
up a friendship by the end of the act, and I definitely didn't want to lose
that. Still, "down boy"... hee hee.

*****

Different version of the "I'm not a pothead!" exchange:

ELIJAH: Whoa, whoa, pothead? I'm not a pothead!

SAMWISE: [obviously thinking cooking gear] What's a pot head?

ORLANDO: [gleefully] Pipeweed. Elijah smokes the pipeweed.

HOBBITS: Ohhhhhh.

ELIJAH: [you suck] Thank you, Orlando.

Later....

The hobbits begin to fill their pipes.

MERRY: [to Elijah] Want s— ?

ELIJAH: No!

ORLANDO: He's trying to quit. Makes him right grouchy, dun'it?

MERRY: I daresay!

*****

Heh heh. I really didn't want to let this one go. See, I knew I wanted
Elijah to say "I'm not a pothead!" and I also knew I wanted him to say "At
least they let me keep my shirt on, 'Orli'" so the main objective was
getting from one line to the other. I started down this path and really
had fun with it, but no matter how hard I tried I couldn't direct it toward
Orlando teasing Elijah for being adorable while brooding, at least not
without overshooting the punch line and hammering the joke into the ground.
And then I started thinking, you know, I don't know Elijah Wood at all;
considering his liking for Indonesian clove cigarettes, he very well might
have responded to Merry's offer with "Wow, really? Hook me up!" I still
can't decide, so in the end I just dropped it and tried a different tack.
Seemed to work pretty well, I'd say.

*****

At some point in Act 2:

SAMWISE: [sputtering] But that's just... that's....

ELIJAH: [only here to help] Lame-ass?

Frodo considers it and nods slowly.

FRODO: "Lame-ass." Yes. That's it.

*****

Mwa-ha! Okay, you really want to know what happened with this one? I was
absolutely tickled with the idea of Frodo going back to Middle-Earth with
"lame-ass" in his vocabulary (e.g. "The Ring weighs heavily upon me. Lame-
ass Ring."). So I wrote up this line and tried really really hard to find
a place to put it. All the scenes where the characters find out the kinds
of stories they're getting and complain were filling up and taking their
own directions, but right up to the end I was on the lookout for an
appropriate spot.

I came very close to going into the Frodo/Sam slash idea and using it
there. Then, as I sat there pondering, I thought "Welllll, just because I
think all F/S stories should rounded up and flung into a deep pit doesn't mean that I should alienate my slash-loving readers. And would Elijah really consider the idea of Frodo and Sam being gay a lame-ass idea? He might disagree, but he might not insult it, either. Is calling Frodo/Sam a stupid idea insulting gay people in general?"

"Sir Ian McKellen is gay, isn't he?"

I think that's what clinched it. An image of Sir Ian glowering at me for
inadvertently calling gay people stupid made me so self-conscious that I ditched the "lame-ass" idea completely. The good thing that came out of this inner debate was the subtle line "Gandalf, of course, seems rather unfazed by the whole [slash] thing." I think Sir Ian would approve. ;o)

*****

Other ideas that didn't make the cut:

Act 3 - Aragorn decides to discourage people from writing stories about him by constantly speaking in archaic English dialects (e.g. "Alas! thou wouldst I slayeth the blah blah blah....). I discussed this with a friend and we both laughed at the thought; it was mainly inspired by stories where an author tries to mimic Aragorn's kingly speech, makes him sound like a nerd at a Renaissance fair, and eventually gives up. It's also a gentle jab at Tolkien; I mean, if you read some of Théoden's dialogue in The Two Towers and then immediately jump to one of Pippin's speeches, you can give
yourself whiplash; it's like reading two different books. I dropped the
idea because I don't know diddly about archaic English and would have had to do some major research to get it right. I mean, sheesh, Legolas's lines in Elvish were hard enough to look up, so doing proper justice to the roots of the English language would have taken forever. And if Act 3 had taken any longer, I was worried you guys would mob me. ;o)

Same idea for Legolas – discouraging the Mary Sues by always speaking in Elvish. Almost put it in, then realized that most of the Mary Sues speak fluent Elvish if they aren't Elves themselves, and an author can easily get around the obstacle of the language by simply saying "Legolas said in Elvish...." and proceed to write the dialogue in English. Crap – won't work.

Arwen shows up dressed as Xena in order to show Aragorn the "benefits" of expanding her character. Oh, don't get me wrong, I'm growing fond of Arwen's portrayal in the movie, purist though I am. Doesn't mean I'm above making fun of it. Still, bringing in Arwen for a cameo made things too confusing and detracted from the satirical aspect of the story.

Legolas, Aragorn, and Arwen getting into a Jerry Springer-esque argument over the topic of A/L slash. Same idea as above; too confusing, less satirical, and by this point I was starting to feel sorry for Aragorn, so I left it out.

Gimli gets a girlfriend. Now, I really do feel sorry for the poor guy in
that he never ever gets romance stories written about him. But how would it help the crippling Mary Sue overpopulation if we encourage Dwarvish Mary Sues to be written up on top of all the rest? And you KNOW that the Dwarf Mary Sues would be going around bitch-slapping the Elf Mary Sues, and that would have wreaked unimaginable havoc, or at least driven the Secretary insane.

Frodo going with the "be rude to Sam" idea and actually enjoying it – or, conversely, Sam getting rather angry with Frodo after Orlando's speech about social equality. I tried several times to have them really arguing with each other, but I just... couldn't... do it! I love their friendship; as the Secretary pointed out, it's "the most touching, well-known friendship in literary history." You just can't mess with a thing like that.

Orlando and Elijah coming up with a few ways to make themselves less appealing, e.g. spreading rumors like "I still live with my mother" or "I leave the toilet seat up." This one crashed and burned when I found out that Elijah DOES still live with his mother and it's obviously not working. ;o)

The Uruk-hai in the Mary Sue Room idea. Came close to having that really happen. I mean, imagine – the dazzling light bursts into being on the other side of the door, and instead of Legolas clones there are dozens of snarling drooling goblin men with cruel scimitars. Sounds of hacking, slashing, girly voices screaming, Uruk-hai bellowing in triumph, death, mutilation, dieyoustupidannoyingcharactersDIEDIEDIEDIEDIE....

I think I dropped that idea because it kept raising my blood pressure.