Thorin finished his bottle of Fuller’s, then brought it down hard on the bar. “Sure.” His head was throbbing from the blaring music of the dance floor behind him. Of course, the alcohol wasn’t exactly helping.
“What’s wrong?” Bofur asked, cracking open another bottle and placing it front of Thorin, who immediately downed about a third of it.
Thorin asked Bofur, seriously, “Why do I bother?”
Bofur didn’t pretend to be ignorant. “Because everyone deserves happiness.”
Thorin laughed. “Deserves.” He drank another large swig. “And what does it mean when someone gets nothing.”
Bofur leaned on the bar. “It means someone hasn’t found the right guy.”
Thorin shook his head. “Maybe there is no one.”
“Not everyone gets a One, you know.”
“I thought that once, too,” Bofur said quietly. “But then … life taught me otherwise.”
Thorin gave Bofur a cocked eyebrow. “Really? Are you two official now?”
Bofur laughed and shrugged. “Maybe not … traditionally. You know Nori likes to be free.”
“So do you.”
“Exactly! Neither of us wants to be tired down. The house and the picket fence and the rose garden out back … that’s not for us. But then that is what makes us ... 'Us' ... before for 'each other.' You need to find the guy that is perfect for you.”
Thorin had to agree; he wanted nothing more than to find the guy perfect for him. But for him, he wanted a traditional relationship. He wanted the house, and the fence, and the rose garden; he wanted it all! To him, that was perfection. He wanted to bring flowers home and have his partner happy to see him. He wanted to talk about their day and share even the mundane, ordinary things; work, life, chores. To him, that was what love was all about; what was the purpose of life if it wasn’t shared?
So, where was the guy that wanted those things as well?
Thorin had grown up with the stories and tales, which only fueled his dreams. The great Mahal created souls and then split them in two, placing each half into a different being, so that everyone had a true soulmate, a ‘better-half’, their One, so that when they found each other, they would know what true completeness meant. Thorin’s grandfather, Thror, had spoken of being struck, like lightning out of a blue sky, when he met Thorin’s grandmother, Hrera. Thorin’s mother, Fris, had described how the world seemed to still the moment she and Thorin’s father, Thrain, had looked into each other’s eyes. Thorin’s brother, Frerin, just a year younger, believed the tales so truly that he didn’t even bother looking, so convinced was he that he would find his other half. Even Thorin’s sister, his little sister, Dis, had found her One, Vili, at the tender age of twenty and now, four years later, she had two little boys and was as much in love with her husband as he was with her; which was very much.
So why the hell was Thorin twenty-eight and still alone?!
Because there isn’t anyone for you, said the traitorous voice of doubt in his head. You are destined to be incomplete, to be without. You are not worthy of what the others around you have been blessed with.
Thorin hated that voice, but he couldn’t argue with it either.
Enough was enough.
“I’m off,” Thorin said, emptying his Fuller’s and standing up. It was getting late and the only thing worse than going home alone was going home alone and closing the club. He threw a couple of quid on the bar for Bofur. “See ya, Bo.”
“See ya, Thor.”
Thorin sulked out and made his way to his car.
Maybe I should just move away.
The music was too loud and the second he walked into the club his head felt like it would split. But Bilbo Baggins reminded himself that he was only stopping by, grabbing a quick one, and say hello to his friend, before heading over to see his mother.
“OI!” Bilbo shouted over the din. “WHO DOES ONE HAVE TO BLOW TO GET A DRINK AROUND HERE?!”
Bofur turned around, a smug look on his face and ready expletive on his lips, only for his mood to instantly lift when he saw who called to him. “BILBO!”
Bilbo laughed. “Hey, you!”
Bofur came around the end of the bar and gave Bilbo a big, warm, bear hug. They each planted a kiss on the other’s cheek. “What are you doing here?!”
“I just popped in on my way to my parents,” Bilbo said.
Bofur’s smile faltered. “I heard about your dad. I’m so sorry.”
Bilbo smiled softly. “Thanks. But … it wasn’t like we didn’t know this day would come.”
“Maybe. It’s still hard when it does.”
Bilbo nodded. His father, Bungo, had put up a noble fight. Lord knows, no one fought better. Yet, when all was said and done, no one could not cheat death, one could only decide how to cross the finish line; painfully and ugly, or with grace and dignity. Bungo crossed over quietly, with his wife and son at his side. It was beautiful, even in its sadness.
“What can I get you?” Bofur asked, going back behind the bar.
“Just a quick one,” Bilbo replied, taking a seat. He turned his head and saw an empty bottle of Fuller’s at the other end of the bar. Yeah. That’s a good idea. “A Fuller’s would do.”
“You got it.” Bofur opened a cold bottle and set down in front of Bilbo. But when Bilbo tried to pay, Bofur waved him off. “It’s on the house.”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” Bilbo said, trying again to pay for his drink.
“I’m not and I said, no.”
Bilbo sighed and took a drink, but slipped his money in the tip jar when Bofur wasn’t looking.
“So …” Bofur said, coming back to Bilbo after getting drinks for a few others are the bar. “What’re your plans?”
Bilbo sighed. “I’d planned on staying at least through the end of the week. If Mum’s doing okay, I’ll probably leave on Monday.”
“Back to London.”
Bilbo nodded. “It’s great there, Bofur. You’d love it.”
“Nah. My brother and his family are here and besides … London is too tempting a place for Nori!”
They both laughed at that.
“Are you happy?” Bilbo asked.
Bilbo rolled his eyes. “Don’t start.”
“I just asked a question.”
“And I know why you are asking.”
Bofur leaned on the bar. “You could move back you know.”
“I know.” Bilbo set his bottle down and stood up. “I think it’s time to go.”
“Oh, now …” Bofur looked guilty. “I didn’t mean to upset —”
“You didn’t,” Bilbo insisted. “It’s just late and I wanted to see a friendly face.” Bilbo had been at the lawyers all afternoon and then dinner with his extended family all evening. “I’m just tried.”
“Well …” Bofur didn’t look much happier. “At least promise to stop back in, or come see me before you leave.”
They gave each other a hug and Bilbo told Bofur to give Nori his best. As he headed out to his car, Bilbo realized that he now had one less thing to keep him there, only his mother left really.
It certainly wasn’t like he had anyone special in his life.
No matter how much his heart might have ached for it.