West of the Moon

A Tolkien Fanfiction Archive

 

 

Mathom
Frodo's birthday gift to Sam is not merely something to set upon the mantel-piece.
Author: Willow-wode
Rating: NC-17

 

1/

The party was over.

It had been small, just a few friends and close relatives to drink the customary cup of cheer for Frodo's twenty-ninth (and Bilbo's one-hundred-seventh, a marvel all in itself).  Most of those well-wishers had left hours ago.  Merry and Pippin had stayed the longest--had in fact been in residence for most of the previous week--but after the party they'd unexpectedly declined another night's stay, claiming they were expected by Pippin's parents at Whitwell that evening.  This had been news to Frodo.  He'd protested, but the two had been insistent, and in the end he had been glad to see them go.  Pippin had kept mouthing ingenuously-suggestive and rather merciless quips and Merry, while his method of devilment was much less obvious, still had a knobby elbow that kept finding its way to his ribs, and there was a distinct gleam within his uptilted eyes that suggested 'about time, slowcoach'.

Frodo leaned over the round windowsill of his bedroom, still in his best habiliments of blue waistcoat and breeches, his chin resting on crossed, linen-clad forearms, and buried an expression somewhere between a smirk and a grimace into those cream-coloured sleeves.  Merry and Pippin knew him all too well; it was obvious from their meaningful glances towards the garden that they'd sussed out his carefully-guarded intent toward that garden's regular inhabitant.  In light of this even Bilbo's leave-taking was suspect; he'd gone to the Green Dragon and had told Frodo not to expect him until late that night.

Bilbo had never before left him alone on their birthday.  Save that Frodo wasn't alone.  Sam was still here.  Frodo had asked him to stay; he'd said he wanted to give him his gift later, in private.

He couldn't believe the conceit of such a notion--the assumption that Sam would indeed consider his intentions a gift and not a presumption.

So Frodo had stalled.  He'd finished the rest of the wine that Merry and Pippin had somehow left undrunk.  Then he'd had a pipe on the hillside.  After that was done he'd bounced up and nervously gone back indoors, where he had proceeded to brew another pot of Bilbo's strongest black tea only to find out that there was no more milk.  He'd glowered at the pot until it had grown cool, then shrugged, sighed, retreated to his room and...

And now the sunlight was beginning to dip behind the Hill and into the west.  The entire situation couldn't have been more private had it been planned this way, or more perfect if he'd carefully contemplated seduction in some lonely, wooded spot.  Save that he'd been a fool since tea, and now there was no chance left, it seemed.  The object of his contemplation was busily and eagerly grubbing in the soil; the earth's claim upon Samwise Gamgee was not even banished by special occasions.

Frodo clenched his teeth.

Such forlorn and foolish pique against such a vital part of his friend's existence was quickly assuaged, however.  There was an undeniable rhythm and power to Sam's motions, a steady dance of giving as the gardener bent over the newly-harrowed, rock-bordered spot that he'd paid especial attention to ever since Frodo had first been removed from Brandy Hall to Bag End over ten years previous. That rhythm also had transferred itself into a soft, tenor melody; rare was the day when Sam wasn't humming or singing over his work, and the pleasant sound put a fond smile to Frodo's lips.

The tune stopped; Sam squinted against the setting sun, noticed Frodo standing just inside the window and greeted him with an answering smile.  "The cousins gone, then?"

"That they are, and Bilbo too."

"I didn't see Himself go."  A slight frown.  "It en't like the Squire to leave you alone on your birthday."

Frodo made purposeful light of the fact.  "I think he had a tryst with that new shipment of brandy the Dragon's proprietor was boasting about."

A knowing grin tugged at Sam's mouth.  "Well, there is that, to be sure."

"And I'm not alone."  Frodo didn't move from his bent-over position against the sill, eyes holding to Sam's.

Peering at Frodo a moment longer, as if ascertaining that Frodo was indeed comfortable with all of the departures, Sam gave a small grumbling sound and rubbed at his nose.  Gaze turning down to the plot beneath his feet, Sam began to trail his toes over the dark loam.  "You still en't told me what you're wanting in your little bit of garden, here."

"You ask me every time you replant it,"  Frodo replied, not moving from his bent-over position.  "And I always answer with the same thing, autumn or spring:  You know what I like and you never disappoint.  Surprise me."

"Mmm.  P'rhaps I'm hoping you'll surprise me some day soon and be partial to something."

The words tingled in Frodo's consciousness and he shifted a bit uncomfortably, wondering if he was taking them in any way, shape or form as they had been meant.  The entire conversation had, no doubt according to his own state of mind, taken a slightly more suggestive tone than Frodo was comfortable with right now.  So he declined answer.  Instead he watched Sam pointedly not watch him, then shoot a quick glance his way, then move from the bare earth to the sunniest patch within the little plot.  This section was knee-high with feathery, purple-blossomed fronds, and as they rustled softly against Sam's bare calves, Frodo was becoming more and more aware that what he felt right now was not anything akin to what he usually felt when he let his eyes rest on Sam.

What he felt now was terror.  No, not just terror, but dry-mouthed, stomach-bending, run-howling-into-the-trees panic.  Frodo clutched the sill with his fingers, literally shaking.  It was to have gone so smoothly, this.  Like some fantasy.  But now the reality had hit and the time had come and he was unable to even move.  Fool!

He'd agonized and wondered, given careful consideration to every possible outcome and feeling, held it close and guarded, by some alchemy of emotion unable to share any of it even with those closest to him.  All of the uncertainty, held in balance against what?

The tally in his favour was not large or reassuring.  A wistful hope that Sam might somehow reciprocate what Frodo felt and wanted.  A wishful interpretation of a few intercepted glances.  And, more recently, a remembrance of an afternoon just over a fortnight previous...

For that day had started as any other, running much like the rest.  A warm afternoon, and a long walk which had ended at Bywater Pool, with Frodo deciding on a dip in the cool water.  Sam had seated himself on the shoreline, as usual patently refusing to go any farther into the water than his ankles, more than willing to wait Frodo out and taking as his consolation early inroads into the lunch they'd packed.  But what had begun to make this day so unusual was Sam's attitude upon Frodo peeling down for his swim.  Not to say that Sam didn't always seem a bit disgruntled that Frodo had the need to spend time on this crazy activity--"swimming like some mad Brandybuck"--but he had seemed more than particularly out of sorts.

He'd watched Frodo swim, true enough.  Sam had always been quick to claim that he'd at least be able to call for help--or, as Frodo pointed out as more likely, try to wade in and likely drown them both!  But once Frodo had splashed out, Sam's eyes were visibly downcast and his mouth twisted into a decided pout.  He'd rather uncharacteristically and vehemently thrown a towel towards Frodo, who had meekly caught the thick cloth and stared at Sam's rather-petulant profile.  Unsure of what he had somehow done, started drying off.

Then, when he'd been bending over and scrubbing at his chilled knees and shins, Frodo had decided something was crawling on his bare backside.  Mid-scrub he'd twisted to knock it away only to find that it was Sam's gaze he'd felt.  Their eyes had locked for two impossibly long seconds, then Sam had looked away, flushing to the tips of his ears.  Frodo had just stood there in stark realization of the heated potential of that gaze--and somehow he felt as if he was still being touched by those grey-brown eyes even though they had turned very pointedly to the luncheon basket....

Frodo had spent quite a sleepless night following that day.  What few hours he had put toward slumber had been spent in frustrating, quite telling dreams, after which he'd gotten up far too early with sweaty, sticky sheets, had refused breakfast and worried Bilbo, then had spent the rest of the day mooning about the smial, alternately smiling and frowning.  He'd regained some sensibility the following day, yet the time spent with Sam since had been all but taken over in Frodo's cautious wait for another inkling of that telling intimacy of glance.  Frodo was no longer even sure if he'd seen it.  Or that if he had seen, he hadn't somehow misinterpreted, or if such interpretation had made him overemphasize the glances since--and those much more guarded and few and quick.  Or why, if this was just to be another passionate game of action and feeling--as it was in its time with his two precocious cousins--it was all so suddenly complicated.

It shouldn't be.  In Buckland--indeed, in much of the Shire--these things were matter of fact and rather expected.  Tweeners were tweeners, after all, and one exploration often led into another quite naturally.  But things were very different here in Hobbiton than they'd been in Buckland.  He'd been over ten years under Bilbo's roof, nevertheless the more-conservative tenets of the inhabitants around Bag End still could catch him unawares.  Sam's reactions... they were confusing, hard to read.  Frodo dug his chin into his crossed forearms and watched miserably as Sam fussed and clucked to himself, seeming to care more about those wretched plants.

I don't know what to do.  What if you really don't want me?  What if I do this, and try to give you this, but instead somehow ruin everything?

Why did you even have look at me that way, then turn away?

And why, oh why didn't I think of all this before?  I have nothing else to give you!

Frodo crawled onto the rounded wooden sill, leaning his back against one edge and despondently propping his feet against the opposite side, agonizing in tighter and tighter inward circles.  He was not totally inexperienced after all, either with his own reactions or how to deal with them.  Granted, he could count on his fingers--with fingers left over--how many partners, male or female, he'd had in this particular dance, and he knew what he liked for himself and, even better, how to please someone else, but...

Now.  Here.  With Sam.

Somehow it wasn't simply reactionary, nor was it expected.  Companionship, comfort and Samwise Gamgee had always been synonymous with each other; Frodo realized that he had taken all of it entirely too much for granted.  It was as if some precious bloom from the garden near him had stayed rooted in the earth for nigh unto forever, closed to touch and sight.  And now suddenly it had quickened almost unbearably, sprang into fragrant blossom to call him deliciously close, and Frodo wondered at his blindness--how he had stood beside it all this time yet not even seen its rare pleasure. 

He burrowed down against the windowsill and crossed his arms, wondering how someone could feel this miserable and thrilled all at once.  To call his state of mind complicated was perhaps an understatement, despite the fact that for the first time Frodo's own and often all-too-crowded thinking processes had narrowed down to one extraordinary realization:

He was in love with his gardener.

Seemingly oblivious--and that was the real joke, wasn't it, that for once Sam was the one with his nose in the clouds? Or in this case, the dirt!--Sam kept puttering away not too far from the outside of his room, cutting an armload of the purple-fluffed green.  It was quite fragrant, wafting toward Frodo on the slight breeze, and a sudden vision of that sturdy body lying upon those green-soft boughs took Frodo so that when Sam turned he had to look away, his breath coming hard against his chest.

"Mister Frodo?"

There was concern in the voice, yet a smile attempted play about Sam's lips as Frodo took back his breath and looked up.  The expression was a bit hesitant, as if acknowledging that something was not quite normal, yet broadened gratefully as Frodo forced himself to smile in return.

"I'm breaking custom here, I know,"  Sam strolled over to the window,  "but these were just ready for the taking; too good to pass up.  So here's a mathom for you,"  he held the feathery violet-and-green armload up to him with a broad grin.  "And a fitting end to a pleasant birthday."

"I've still not gifted you your present and you're giving something to me?"  Frodo teased, glad of the distraction.  Swinging his feet inward, he dropped to the floor of his room.  "Get in here and let's find a place for those and..."  Frodo trailed off as Sam hefted himself easily into the window and landed on the rag rug below it, still clutching his offering in one arm.

"Did the Gaffer catch me swinging through your window again like this he'd give me what-for!"  was the grinned statement as Sam continued,  "'The door--'"

"'--Samwise, use the bloody door, boy!"  Frodo finished, perfectly mimicking the elder Gamgee's common drawl.  "'Who d'you think you are, that Brandybuck lad?'"  He shook his head, chuckling,  "Sam, I don't think your father will call me a Baggins until I've been here forty years!"

Sam laughed, a wonderfully low, rich sound.  Leaning back against the window, he was backlit by the fading sunlight, a nimbus of white-orange touching the edges of his thick, scattered hair and shadowing the sparks in his eyes from a brilliant flash to subtle embers.  He'd long since shed his 'posh' coat--the one that Frodo knew had been passed down from two older brothers and fit just a bit snug for true comfort--and his shirt was rolled back over his brown forearms and unbuttoned at the collar, betraying a sheen of sweat along his skin.  It never took Sam long to get back into his customary and comfortable mode of attire.

"Take a whiff of these,"  Sam ventured, holding them out.  "They're something mister Bilbo picked up in his travels, and every year they bloom in tiny, purplish fluffs and smell like... oh, I en't sure.  Vanilla, maybe, and cinnamon and... sage, like, somehow all rolled into one."

"Eniara,"  Frodo said softly, closing his eyes for a second and letting the sweet, sharp scent claim him as directed.  "Bilbo got them in Rivendell... Sam, have you been rolling in the mulch, or what?"  He reached out and brushed a streak of such from the smile-rounded cheek, then picked at a bit of fern from Sam's hair.  His fingers suddenly seemed clumsy; it took Frodo much longer than it should have to disentangle the bit of bracken and when he was finished he didn't take his hand away.  Sam's cheek was no longer rounded by a broad smile, but flattened and serious-soft as Frodo brushed his knuckles against it.  Grave eyes met his, measured and sparking with something indefinable then Sam looked down, lashes glinting gold, shadowing his eyes.  It was suddenly much more than the usual casualness of touch, even though Frodo had not intended it as anything more, and his hand lingered, trailed of its own accord from cheek to tanned throat.  Sam's pulse quickened beneath his fingertips, his breathing deepening and betraying, not recoil or resistance, but acquiescence.

Wondering at this, Frodo angled forward slightly, cupped his palm along Sam's jaw-line, lifted the downcast face.  Sam looked at him for long, nearly shattering seconds, their faces scarcely an inch apart.  Then as if drawn and unable to hold distant, Sam bent forward.  Still slowly, still with unreal tension, his lips touched the corner of Frodo's mouth.  A huge breath, almost a sob, expanded his chest and when it escaped against Frodo's lower lip, when Frodo turned into the breath then replaced it with one of his own, Sam's mouth softened further against his, clung.  With sudden strength he leaned into Frodo, the ferns crushing against his breast, the heady scent of their bruising wafting strongly between them.

Then just as swiftly as his former actions had been slow, Sam stiffened against him, backing against the window.  Unable to retreat unless he toppled into the windowsill, he wrenched sideways.  The ferns dropped to the ground, scattering about Frodo's feet, catching but not staying in his outstretched, emptied palms.  Sam nearly ran headlong into the bed; he halted, stared at it for three beats, then whirled about to stare at Frodo.  Not another beat later and he broke that gaze as well.

"I... I'm sorry,"  he stammered, looking anywhere but at Frodo.

For long moments Frodo wished that the floor would just open up and swallow him.  All the doubts, all the hesitations claimed him once again... no.  Wait.  He peered upward, toward the stilled figure standing before his bed.

Sam had been the one who kissed him.  He'd trembled as obviously as he was trembling now, and leaned against him, and clung to him like a second skin.   And now the breath they had shared took Sam's chest in staccatoed thumps; he was rumpled, flushed, looking away, hands clenched into fists.  Frodo realized that he hadn't just imagined the response--was not imagining it now.

"Why,"  Frodo voiced hoarsely,  "are you sorry?

"I didn't mean..."

"I did."

The words fell between them like stones smoothed by the river.  A breeze wafted in from the window, lifting Frodo's hair and making him shiver as Sam pulled his gaze upwards.

"Did you, then?"  It was almost a whisper.

Frodo broke the strange, uneasy standoff by stepping forward.  Sam straightened, eyes glinting white in the fading light.  Seemingly uncertain whether to advance or retreat, he ended up taking the most natural course to him: he stood his ground.  Frodo walked quietly over to him, steps that took an inordinate amount of time.

"I did,"  Frodo told him again.  "I told you I had a small gift for you."

"This is no small matter,"  Sam said low, once again looking down.

"No.  No, it's not."  Frodo clenched his hands, put them behind his back when all he wanted to do was reach out and spread them against Sam's broad chest, feel the rise and fall of it against his palms.  "Least of all to me."

Silence fell.  Frodo bit his lip, reached up and shoved the curls behind his ears, then hesitated.  He reached out, performed the same service for Sam.  The fair strands were thicker and less unruly than his own, stayed in place much more readily, and Frodo's hand lingered by Sam's temple, unwilling to draw away, tracing winged eartip and then downward to jawline and throat.  The storm-tossed eyes closed, and Sam shook as if with fever the entire time.  Frodo swallowed and dropped his hand to Sam's shoulder, the touch turning deftly impersonal as an insecure ineptitude possessed him. He didn't know this Sam, didn't know how to respond to this trembling, hesitant quietude.

Sam seemed to ken that some sort of explanation was necessary, that he couldn't just numbly stand there and do or say absolutely nothing.  "Y... You don't have to... just because I...  I... shouldn't have done what..."  He huffed uneasily, then stated,  "It's not proper, mister Frodo, that I should have..."

Ah, familiar territory.  This Frodo knew how to handle.

"No, Sam,"  Frodo denied.  "'Twould be, perhaps, not proper if you suggested it.  But..."  he couldn't stop from smiling as he leaned over and whispered against Sam's ear,  "what if I'm the one suggesting it?"

A strange, indefinable sound made its way upward from Sam's chest.  It might have been a laugh--but then again, it might not have been.  "I see.  You've considered everything, then.  A  right thoughtful gift-giver."

"Not everything,"  Frodo returned with sudden seriousness, brow furrowing and--he knew--all but singing out his troubled thoughts.  "I hadn't thought of what I would do if you said no."

Sam's eyes opened, were drawn to his.  Frodo was quite certain he had never seen such perplexity in them before.  "How,"  was the hoarse question,  "can I say no when you look at me like that?"

Frodo shuttered his gaze, looked down.  "You can say no.  I don't want you to feel that you have to, if you don't want to..."

"Not want to.  How could I not want..."  There was an insistent, intense tremor in the low voice that made a shiver claim Frodo's spine; the shiver moved forward into his belly as he felt Sam lean toward him.  Moving until his cheek was almost resting against Frodo's own, it was Sam's turn to now whisper,.  "How daft do you think I am, then?"

A half-strangled laugh--wry amusement, chagrin, amazed relief--forced its way from Frodo's throat.  It was stricken mute as Sam turned his head, placed a gentle, feather-touch to his cheek.  The kiss was soft, hesitant, chaste.  Frodo closed his eyes.  Sam's lips trembled against his skin, then they withdrew.

Puzzled, Frodo reopened his eyes, saw Sam simply standing there.  The transparent gaze was filled with thousands of questions to match his own, the compact body was poised, waiting.

Waiting.  That was all it had ever been.  The shyness, the uncertainty, what Frodo had construed at insecure and panicked moments as unwillingness... all of it simply the necessity of holding back, of keeping to what Sam perceived as his place in reality.  Fantasy was one thing, but it didn't raise potatoes nor did it feed you at the end of the day, so better to not presume too much, depend upon it too heavily to come true.

And now, this.  Perhaps this sharing would be simply one more shared delight, perhaps it was capable of becoming much more--but being Sam, he'd waited.  Would have waited perhaps forever, compelled by some deep inner stillness, by an almost unfathomable resignation and patience and insistence that any initial move was not his to make.  For everything Sam was and had, he'd always given freely to Frodo.  All Frodo had ever had to do was reach out, take it.

Frodo reached out, took Sam's face between his palms.  Leaned forward.  Kissed him again.  The caress lingered; Sam's hands came slowly to meet him, the first settling in the small of his back, the other sliding across his right shoulder blade.  Frodo ran his tongue along the sweet, soft curve of Sam's upper lip, teased it open with a gentle nip.  Sam made a murmured, broken sound against his mouth; Frodo breathed it in, returned it with one of his own, gripped Sam's cheekbones tighter in his fingers.  The broad hands along his spine clenched, shaking, and the query that had lined that hesitant mouth grew firmer against his as they moved into each other, bodies joining up startlingly close.  There was absolutely no longer a question about who wanted what; Frodo's hips rocked forward into welcoming, fierce pressure.  The action was instinctive and needy and he couldn't have stopped it had he wanted to, but Sam gave a small, ragged gasp and broke from the kiss; for seconds it seemed as if his knees buckled.  Frodo still gripped his face; angled back slightly.

"That was nice,"  Sam put forth a bit shakily.

"Are you all right?"  Frodo queried.

"Oh, my dear, what a question."  It was still shaky.  "Don't think I've ever been better in my life, to tell you the truth, but..."

"But?"  Frodo felt a tiny thrill of concern.

"I know you're going to think this a bit odd."  Sam looked aside, bit his lip.  "But... but I've... I've never..."

"Never?   You've never had a playmate, been with a lad?  Or with a lass?"  The bright head shook once, twice and again.  "Not even yourself?"

An indignant flash.  "I'm not made out of stone, y'know!  You must really, really think me daft!"

It was rare that Frodo got to see Sam this fired up; those eyes sparked and shifted like a stormy sky and suddenly all Frodo wanted was to see more of it.  He smiled, cupping his fingers about Sam's nape.  "That's twice now that you've said that, you know."

"Well, sometimes the same words need saying, mister Frodo, and you keep asking me questions, and at a time like this!"  was the immediate retort, then Sam flushed and looked down.

Frodo leaned forward and buried his head in Sam's neck, but it didn't help.  The chuckle escaped him anyway and he felt fingers twitch on his backbone and a snort of surprised breath against his ear.  For some reason this was funny as well and he kept laughing until he was all but hanging on Sam's torso in mirthful convulsions, and Sam was looking at him like he'd lost his mind.

"You're always saying that I ask too many questions!"  Frodo explained, between giggles.

"Well,"  Sam ventured with due consideration, once more falling into the comfortable habit of plain hobbit sense,  "you do.  And I must say, if all this blabbering is what you're like wooing someone into bed, then..."  he trailed off.

"Then what?"   Frodo demanded, a bit weakly as he was still snickering.

Sam shrugged.  "Some things are maybe better done than said, I'm thinking,"  he ventured a bit slowly.

Pulled back, Frodo considered him.  "This bit of wisdom from one who claims he's never had a playmate?"  Sam flushed and looked aside.  "Which I find almost impossible to believe.  I've seen the eyes that follow you, Sam.  Mine among them.  I must note that, considering those eyes and those intentions, that you've not exactly been 'doing'."

"I must note, mister Frodo,"  Sam said with a sudden, rather sly smile,  "that you're still... talking."

Frodo blinked. Then grinned.  Then pounced.  Before Sam could even think to react, Frodo had grabbed him, whirled him about, and shoved him the several steps to land face-down on the bed with one arm pulled up behind him.  Frodo put all his weight firmly against Sam's back and leaned close, laughter still lining his voice, try as he might to make it fierce.  "How's this, then.  For 'doing'?"

"Um..."  Sam wriggled beneath him.  "Mister Frodo..."

Gripping tighter, Frodo pushed his weight downward; Sam huffed a sharp breath and stilled.  "But before we... um... 'do' anything further, we simply have to come to an understanding here."  Of course, Sam could have probably flipped over and turned the tables on Frodo before he could say another word.  However, as of now Sam seemed amenable to give him the little lie.

Either that or he was as indisputably aroused by this position as Frodo found himself.

"I'll not give in that you talk too much for anyone's good at times,"  Sam insisted into the feather ticking.  "But... oh..."

Frodo leaned closer, angling his body against Sam's rather painstakingly.  He felt Sam take in another huge gulp of air and for moments he wanted nothing more than to just curl up against that warm, soft/hard power that was Sam.  Instead he audibly swallowed, put his lips close to one ear.  This had to be settled.

"This 'mister Frodo'.  I mean, it's all well and good for day to day.  But it rather... well, it spoils the mood.  You see?  Because every time you call me 'mister', I'm expecting you to ask me where to stack the firewood cord.  Or to tell me that the verge needs trimming."

"But mister Fro--"

"And there you go again!  It's just a bit past silly, particularly now, don't you think?"

"Maybe for you," was the barely-heard mutter.  "Like you're expecting me to be able to think, particularly now."

A small smile curving his mouth, Frodo angled in even closer, felt Sam tense as Frodo filled his ear with misted breath.  "Let's make a bargain, then.  All I ask is if I'm close enough to do this..."  he ran his tongue along that same ear, and Sam drew in another halting inhalation,  "or this..."  he brushed the tawny hair aside and laid another wet line of warmth along the sun-browned nape.

"This is not what I'd call a fair asking..."  Sam protested shakily.

"Or this..."  Frodo continued softly, and 'this' was another forward push of his hips into the firm, round line of thigh and buttock.  Sam arched up against him; he did it again.  And again.  "Promise me."

"P-promise...?"  Sam gasped out.  "Promise you what?"

Frodo stopped.  "Promise me you won't call me 'mister'."

Sam collapsed against the bed and gave a frustrated groan.  "Is that all, then?"

"I want to hear you say my name,"  Frodo whispered, once more rocking against him slowly.  He no longer had any grip on anything except some kind of fabric--shirt or sheet, he was no longer sure--and there was nothing but that rhythm and that moment and the need to hear it, just hear his name upon those trembling lips.  "Please."

Please...this is... wonderful...

"Frodo,"  was the response into the bedding.  "Frodo...ohhh..."  It trailed off into shaking silence and it seemed as if Sam was burrowing his entire being into the all-too-forgiving surface of the bed.  Frodo knew that if he didn't stop now it was going to be too late to stop--and all this while they still had their clothes on, by the stars what would it be like without them?

He lurched backward.  Sam lay there for three expectant beats, then said a word that Frodo had never before heard pass his lips.  With a reproachful look over his shoulder, he muttered,  "I think you're enjoying this!"

For moments Frodo misunderstood what he meant.  "I thought you were, as well."

"Not... that.  I think you're enjoying...!"  Sam turned over and raised up onto his elbows, still peering censoriously at him, and Frodo's heart nearly stopped.   All worked up and tousled and flushed, half dark with the waning light, his hair in his eyes and lying tangled in his sheets, his bed...  Sam was in that moment one of the loveliest things Frodo had ever beheld.

His lovely companion, however, seemed highly unaware of the effect he was having for he tried to continue then spread his hands when adequate and aggrieved-enough description failed and stammered,  "Y-y-you know they have words for lasses that do things like this!"

Sudden understanding came, and with it the undeniable fact that well, yes, maybe he was enjoying it.  A little.  "These things should take time, you know,"  Frodo said, tucking a smile into the corners of his mouth and moving on silent feet over to the door that led into the hallway and the remainder of Bag End.  He shut it.

"And how much time do you reckon we have, then?"  It sounded a bit frustrated.  "'Cause I should think mister Bilbo won't be gone forever, and even at that, I..."  he trailed off and Frodo turned to him curiously, leaning against the door.  Sam's round cheeks were once more scarlet.  "I'm not sure, considering what you were just doing, that... well.  I'm not sure for how much... for how long I..."

Frodo didn't take his hands from the door latch behind him, one side of his mouth still curving upward.  "It doesn't matter, you know."

"How can it not matter?"  was the reasonable query as Sam sat up, feet dangling off the edge of the bed.  He raised his face, mouth framed with another question, stopped dead as he saw Frodo still leaning against the door.  He just sat there as if stricken mute.

"Sam?"

"I... I... Oh, my dear."  Sam's gaze was sprung wide, fastened to him.  "Just seeing you... don't ever think I've seen you with that look to you...  leastways, not directed at me.  I know I en't.  It's like... like you know just what you're wanting and how to get it and it feels... it feels like a kick to the stomach..."

Frodo bit his lip hard against another smile, knowing that Sam might take it amiss.  But it was all he could do to not burst out laughing again, not because it was funny, but because of the sheer, heartrending and thrilling relief; the knowledge that he had this unexpected, sweet sway over a situation that he had never dreamed would really happen.

Sam wanted him.

He spoke gently to the knowledge, suddenly terrified that it might burst itself into a thousand shards if he flung himself into it with any abandon.  "It doesn't matter how long it does or doesn't take.  Bilbo's not going to come back here if my door's closed; which it is.  And,"  still gentle,  "I can promise you right now that since this is your first time it will go by entirely too quickly."

Sam was still looking at him with that incredible mixture of amazement and longing, as if he were starving and his first meal in days was being held just past his grasp.  Frodo felt his own grasp, restive and anxious, clench more tightly to the doorknob, and wondered if he could possibly bear the overwhelming gift that had been just handed to him in the well of Sam's eyes.

Sam was silent for a moment, then asked a bit plaintively,  "Are you just going to stare at me all night, or are you coming back over here?"

Frodo shuttered his gaze a bit self-consciously and didn't answer--he wasn't sure he trusted his voice.  The sweet sting of fantasy's kiss was quickly being overwhelmed by the bite of reality; the knowledge of who was seated, waiting in his bed, was leaving him quite unable to form coherent speech.  Instead he bit his lip and went over to his dresser, reaching out to the lamp sitting there, rotating the wick higher.  Light splayed into the darkening room.

"Frodo?"  Sam's voice climbed the scale a bit, tightening with anticipation.

He lit a small taper from the lamp.  Shielding the flame with his palm, Frodo went to the wall sconces, setting the candles in them alight.  And all the while he fussed with the candles, he felt those sepia-grey eyes on him like a brand.

"We need light?  En't it supposed to be dark?"

"Not for you, love,"  Frodo said softly, then,  "I know you don't like the dark."

"Well, and I appreciate that, truly, but..." he trailed off, then blurted out,  "Seems to me that you're still not doing."

Quiet laughter bubbled from Frodo's chest, his friend's rather exasperated and nervous fretting restoring his own badly-skewed sense of equilibrium.  "You know,"  he continued, lighting various candles until the room was filled with a soft, rose-gold light not unlike the color of Sam's wavy hair,  "for someone who's so new to this, you're awfully demanding."

Sam narrowed his eyes.

"Is this something I should take note of, then?"  Frodo said lightly as he walked over to his bedside.  One by one, he picked up Sam's dangling feet from where they hung over the bed's side and tossed them onto the bed proper.  "Docile vertically and demanding horizontally?"

Scooting to the center of the mattress, Sam flushed to the tips of his ears.  He seemed to have a renewed awareness of exactly whose bed he was fussing away in, for he stammered,  "I... I'm..."

"Sam, I'm just teasing you.  Don't be sorry,"  Frodo hefted himself onto the bed and shifted out of his blue waistcoat and braces.  "In fact, you can just demand away.  I like it."

"I..."  Sam's voice was all but strangled as Frodo set fingers to the dark fabric of his shirt, pulling it from his waistband and slowly unfastening the buttons.  He watched Sam as he did so--those grey eyes had muted to clouded sepia, following the downward progress of his fingers with inordinate fascination.

"What do you want, Sam?"  he asked, insistently gentle.

"I... I..."  was the stammered start, then almost inaudibly, into his shirt collar,  "I want... you.  Just you."

"Well that's easily arranged then, isn't it?"  His own buttons summarily dealt with, Frodo left his shirt hanging open on his torso and leaned forward.  The coarse weave of Sam's shirt tickled his fingertips, yet Sam still didn't look up even when Frodo pulled down his braces one by one.  Eyeing the bent head, Frodo divested Sam of his shirt then leaned even closer, burying his lips in the bright hair.  Wavy, thick strands tickled Frodo's nostrils as Sam shifted, angled forward hesitantly, laid his forehead with a sigh against Frodo's breastbone.

Cupping his fingers about Sam's nape in a soft, subtle question, Frodo shivered as those lips sought his bare skin, felt the body next to him quiver in an unmistakable answer.  And as Frodo moved over, straddled Sam, the frame beneath him jerked in astonished reaction.

So much balanced on that small surface, that joined fulcrum of hips and thighs and belly and oh! that, too--each straining against the other in fierce contrast to soft, asking hands.  Frodo started to rid himself of his own shirt, then hesitated.  The fingers that had been so sure upon Sam's clothing were abruptly clumsily shy upon his own, aware that there wasn't much of him beneath his shirt.  Certainly he'd not the broad, muscular expanse of ribs and chest that was now bared to the fading light; Sam was properly and well fleshed despite the oft-ranginess of tweenhood.  Irritated with his hesitation, Frodo hastily yanked his shirt off, flinging it aside.  After all, how often had they seen each other bare?--along the riverside, in the baths, shucking off dripping clothes after a run home in the pelting rain.  And as he twisted, the small stretch upward tilted his hips fully forward, an compelling commingling of pressure and friction that made him tighten even further, made Sam gasp beneath him.  The brown hands clenched midair as if unsure of what they could reach for.

Candles flickered.  The tightly-ticked feathers of the mattress were a so-soft cradle, enveloping them.  The unbleached sheets, when held to Frodo's own too-fair skin, seemed merely yellowed and pale.  Next to Sam they betrayed themselves as tawny threads shining with nubbled amber and brown, settling and framing bronzed flesh and rose-wheat, tangled hair.  Even Sam's eyes glinted with gilt, framing the grey orbs like the sun coming from behind a storm cloud.  Frodo ran his fingers along that summer-gold, lightly-furred chest, unable to take his eyes away.  Sam also kept staring at him with that same bewildered, awed look that both rattled and filled Frodo almost past bearing.  Moreso he knew--he knew--that it was mirrored in his own gaze.

I want you.  Just you...

Sam made a small, soft noise, and Frodo realized he'd spoken the words aloud.

"I do.  And I'm glad I'm your first," Frodo whispered back, curling up with the sudden emotion.  His knees pressed into Sam's wide-sprung ribs, their breastbones laid one against the other, Frodo nuzzled Sam's neck, inhaling the essence of him: earth and green, sweat and sun, and the whiff of eniara sharp and sweet, a scent that from this night on would be aligned with the taste and touch of Sam.  "I want to be your first."

"Well... I... I think you're going to get what you want,"  was Sam's rather husky answer as one hand lifted upward ever so slowly, traced itself with considering hesitation along Frodo's backbone.  Frodo arched against the soft touch and a measuring smile lit Sam's features rather startingly as he also succumbed to the heady feeling of his touch causing such reaction.  "Don't you always, then?"

"Do I?  Well, what I want right now is to touch you."  Frodo lowered one hand to Sam's waist, tugged at and released trouser buttons; shifting his hips over, he slid his hand further between them.  The smile faded from Sam's lips and he drew in a sharp, taut breath, his hand clenching along Frodo's spine.  Momentarily frustrated by more cloth, Frodo traced a tactile line along the bulged-out clout, found the securing loops then quickly unknotted it.  Freed, what he sought lurched eagerly into his palm as Frodo curled a delicate, firm grip about its length--all stone-hard need and velvet-soft skin.  Sam's eyes closed, his lips parting in a silent wonder of exclamation, his head angling back hard into the pillows.

Frodo lingered over the touch, the sensation of life quivering and pulsing within the slim circle of his hand.  Exploring, smoothing, his fingers danced over a particularly sensitive spot, assured further by a sudden moan as Frodo leaned over, kissed the damp forehead and temple, traced parted lips over Sam's mouth and chin and throat, reaching his hand downward even further to exploit this newfound knowledge of vulnerability.  His thoroughness sent uncontrollable shudders through the frame held firmly between his knees, twisted the gentle face into fierce and delirious expressions of pleasure, coaxed delicious sounds from the tanned throat.

Lovely... oh, yes...

Not more than fifteen seconds of this and Sam was panting, quivering, nearly done; it was frustrating but utterly necessary to back off and Frodo quieted his partner's groaned protest with a kiss as he released him, rolling off to kneel beside him.  Sam watched almost numbly as Frodo first removed the remainder of his own clothes, then shifted willingly as his own trousers were pulled over his hips and down, to be hurriedly discarded.  As if any remaining propriety had been shed with his clothes, Sam reached out for Frodo and tugged him firmly, rather importunately close, fastened his mouth upon his with a decided impatience that said he was fairly done with waiting.

No, no more waiting...we've waited too long for this as it is...

Skin against skin, warm and hard and needy; Frodo whimpered and Sam's mouth opened beneath his greedily, one hand reaching up to entangle tightly in dark curls, the other curving against the small of his back and down.  Those broad, callused fingers and palms were rough, joltingly exciting upon his flesh, cupping and clenching against his thigh, lifting him atop and even closer.  The unbelievable confrication as they pushed against each other, captured and entwined against each other's bellies.  The sense of sweet submission as Sam's leg angled itself fiercely about one of his own, holding him there.  The sense of heady puissance at that strong body trembling beneath him. The necessity of soothing it with more caresses.  His name--no titles, no given graces--just his name, tasted again and again on Sam's lips, and the echoes of it in his own voice, in muted, open-mouthed sounds against the tensioning cords of Sam's neck.  The strong clench of those hands hard against him, one in his hair, the other sliding down between his thighs...  just... there...  please... Just the twining and the tensing and... oh, yes... the rhythm which every split-second grew more frantic.

"I can't..."  Sam muttered.  "Can't... stop... Frodo...oh...  Oh."

The feel of Sam throbbing to completion against him drove Frodo over the edge as well.  He shuddered hard, cried out and came, his voice a shrill echo into the stillness.  Dropping his forehead to Sam's for a matter of seconds, he drew a halting breath then lifted his head once more.  Eyes met eyes, clung and held; for an indeterminate span of time there was nothing but that gaze, and that exchange of silent wonder.  Then Sam was suddenly gathering him close, his grip so tight it was nigh onto painful, but it was welcome pain and Frodo curled willingly into it, folding against the sweat-damp warmth of his lover's chest, trembling.

Silence, stunned and sweet, broken only by the heaving of his own lungs, by the feel of Sam's heart hammering, impossibly rapid, against his cheek.

"I wasn't much good to you,"  Sam finally said, chagrined.

Frodo laughed--he couldn't help it.  It was so... Sam.  "Oh, yes you were,"  he said against the still hastily-expanding ribs.  "And next time will be even better."

"Better than this?" was the breathless reply.  "It might kill me, that..."  his hands tightened so suddenly and harshly that Frodo squeaked.  "Oh.  I'm sorry."

Frodo raised his head, although it was abruptly and incredibly difficult to do so, and threw a quizzical glance at him.

"It's just..." Sam's face was uncommonly pensive.  "You said 'next time'."

"Yes.  Do you think there won't be?  A next time?"

An uncomfortable glance touched him and slid sideways.  "You said it was a gift.  I just... wasn't sure..."

Frodo shifted against damp skin, placed a gentle kiss against Sam's breastbone.  "I thought it could be a lark, yes.  Something else to share.  But... I knew better.  I knew it was... more."

Sam's arms tightened about him, a bit more carefully this time.  "We both should've known, at that."  Frodo laid his head down once again, closed his eyes.  He felt absolutely lethargic, with a massive content he'd not known was even possible.

Another pause, then hesitantly,  "Frodo?"

"Mmm?"

"I'm pretty sticky."

Frodo chuckled, not only at the statement but the wry tone in which it was presented.  Again, so Sam.  Not quite complaining, yet still...  "The wages of being under instead of over."

"So you planned this, did you?"

"You're the one that was so... um... demanding as to where I should be, you know."  Frodo peered upward, smirked teasingly.

"Well, you know,"  Sam conceded with a slight grin,  "'twouldn't take much to flip you over, you being such a flyweight, and get you all sticky."

Frodo just looked upwards at him.  Sam's fierce pretense faded; he shook his head.  "You know, don't you?  You know what you do to me when you give me that look."

"Now I do.  And I'm glad, too."  Frodo returned to his snuggled position against the broad chest.  "I do believe I'd never have gotten you here otherwise."

Sam considered this, then said with that lovely, slow smile,  "Aye, it might've taken more time.  But you'd've had me, one way or another.  You always get what you want, you do."

"Mmm.  There's no doubt I've got what I want now.  A bit selfish of me, if you must know."

Sam's brows twisted in puzzlement.  "Mm?"

"Well,"  Frodo yawned, suddenly and undeniably drowsy.  He ran his fingers lightly over Sam's collarbone.  "I got a gift as well."

An amused snort informed him that the statement was well and truly aimed.  "And no proper mathom, this."  His hand ran up and down Frodo's back, smoothing over his skin as if he couldn't get enough of the feel of him.  "I'm thinking I can't exactly put this on the shelf."

"I'm thinking you've kept it on the shelf long enough, Samwise,"  was Frodo's sleepy, if pert answer.

*  *  *  *  *  *

2/

It was almost painful, this.

Sam lay on his side, head propped on one hand and wondering how such a thing had come to pass.  For it had, and his Frodo--his!--slept all nestled up against him, cheeks still flushed, lips parted and breath whistling gently through them, all that dark hair curling on the pillows and slender hands folded in the sheets.  Plain, sensible sheets they were, too--something he'd not expected in the Baggins household but certainly something he'd expect from this Baggins who now slept in his arms as trustingly as a bairn.  Oh, they were softer than he'd ever known sheets to be, alighting against his skin like rabbit fur, but their costliness was subtle, not anticipated until they smoothed against you and coaxed pleasured reaction.

Suddenly he smiled, wondering if he was still thinking about the sheets or Frodo.  It was in truth hard to think about anything right now other than where he was and how he'd gotten there.

And Frodo... 

Ah.  There was the real wonder.  Of all the times they'd shared the same pillow, be it a cloak or a pack or just the grass and the earth, never had he seen such an expression on that arrestive face.  Not that Sam was one that had a word for every occasion like this lad curled next to him, but yes...  Arrestive was the quite the proper word for Frodo Baggins.  He might not have the same type of look as most hobbits, but that was only expectable, no matter what others might say.  How many times had Sam heard that it was a good thing the Brandybuck sprout old Bilbo Baggins had adopted had money--and was likely to have more from his uncle's estate when the time came--because he sure didn't have the looks or the temperament to catch a proper wife?  Frodo would even say this himself, with that matter-of-fact self-deprecation that always made Sam grit his teeth in righteous anger--moreso in this case because Sam had always wondered how those wretched busybodies could be so blind.  Didn't they see the stardust in that dark hair, or the moonlight in those eyes?  Too skinny, they'd dismiss with a sniff, too big-eyed and pale, too elvish--but Sam had always longed to see those elves, and had found both delight and enchantment in Frodo's unthinking, linear grace.

His hand tremored, wanting to reach out and brush the curls back from that tranquil face, but Sam was suddenly shy.  Shy.   Now that was a laugh, considering what they'd just been doing not even an hour since.

Sweet pain, it was.  Abiding and indefensible and nigh unto debilitating, and all Sam wanted to do was touch Frodo, to keep on touching him until that peaceful face lit up all hot once more and try to return the gift given--and what a gift.  He could never hope to match it in thousands of years.  Of all the dreams he'd held so close and dear, the reality had so far surpassed waking and sleeping fancy.  Suddenly it was almost too much to be borne within one mere hobbitlad's heart.  Quietly, carefully, he backed away, crawling out from under the sheets and from the bed.  Frodo shifted and for agonized moments Sam thought he'd awakened him.  But no... Frodo gave a soft mutter then rolled onto his back, arms flinging wide, kicking the sheets restively away from his chest.  Sam stared, immobilized by the sight of all that candlelit ivory and sable and russet against smooth muslin, which pooled about slender hips and tickled at the dark, fine wisps angling downward...

Breath grabbing in his chest, Sam turned away, feeling inexplicably as if he was going to panic.

He'd never felt like this before.  Not the first time he'd looked at Frodo with eyes that were no longer unaware.  Not in the time between then and now, when he'd allowed himself to fantasize upon the possibilities that could be contained in Frodo's agile frame.  And those imaginings always halting themselves mid-fancy by the line that must never be crossed--the eyes that should and must continue to turn away so as not to betray themselves, the hands that busied themselves with continual tasks when they had ached to reach out and claim what was not his and could never be his.

Yet... now it was his.  Those fevered dreams and desires that could never be... now they were.  They existed.  They'd happened.  Even more incredible, Frodo had made them happen, had all but seduced him to prove that those things existed.  Sam couldn't believe that he'd been so addlepated as to never guess the passion hidden beneath the smiles and stern looks and tears and endearing, bewildered twists of brow.

And now, this strange mating of joy and despair and rightness and agony...

He backed.  Tripped on scattered clothes.  Snatched them up.  Attempted to pull his shirt over his arms, found that it nowhere near would fit, realized it was Frodo's and dropped it--save us all, it wasn't even the same color or texture, was he out of his mind?  By touch he found his own shirt and breeches, grabbed them up and pulled them on, braces hanging... ran a hand through tangled, thick hair, stared at the ferns scattered on the floor, crushed and sweet... then a few steps forward, silent and quick, to vault the window sill and land outside and stagger forward a few paces and...

Sam took a deep, cleansing breath.  The Bag End gardens filled him, eased the sudden emptiness that had almost seemed like fear.  How could he be frightened now?  He'd seemingly attained his heart's desire... yet something was yawing within him, large and shaken.  The garden bore witness to it.  The earth was always here, no matter what, sweet in his nostrils and soft beneath his toes and quiet, so quiet.  As if she too knew that something entirely and overwhelmingly important had overtaken her faithful son and lover, cleaving him, blood and bone and breath.

He looked behind him.  The window sill loomed suddenly large, and the interior of Frodo's room flickered with spastically-lit shadows, as if the candles lit with such deliberation were guttering with wax-melt and threatening to go out.  An inexplicable tremor shook him and he turned instead to new-made evening.

It's no small matter, this.

It wasn't.  Particularly when all he wanted to do was run back, climb that window, crawl once again into that oh-so-comfortable bed and submerge himself in those rainwater eyes...

Ohhh... And I don't even know how to swim.

The night was pocked with stars--even the full moon, rising fecund and golden over the Hill, couldn't deny the glimmer of them all.  Sam wrapped his arms about himself tightly.  He always felt so over-faced and awed, small and insignificant under the canopy of night; never before had he even wanted to contemplate them with any closeness.  It had been Frodo who'd brought him out--one clear, vast night had literally dragged him under the heavens, laid next to him on the grass and made pictures and stories of the twinkling deeps.  Even still, it was only with Frodo at his side that he truly felt the wonder of it all--only through Frodo's presence that he felt comforted by the emptiness above.

It was too much, again.  Too much to bear in his straightforward heart, and Sam bent his head under the sky's vast weight, returning instead to his own comfort and strength.  The garden was never beyond his ken.  A small pond not four lengths from him mirrored the sky like Elvish cold-metal, and a frog chirped questioningly in the stillness, then began a steady, soft trill.  One by one the evening sounds resumed, startled silent at his appearance but recognizing him somehow and now mandating the soft, steady rhythm of night.  It was as if the earth's heartbeat traced up through the soles of his feet; she rose up to meet him as he bent to her, settling on knees and haunches and tracing callused fingers in the well-tended soil.  This patch was his especial project, tilled and readied with rake and hoe and bare hands until it was soft and fine, ready as a new bride for quickening and planting.  Waiting.

He'd begun it some years ago, when Frodo had first come to Bag End and had been so ill that for long weeks he couldn't even leave his room.  It had been a bad time, all the way around; they'd thought at first he might never recover from it.  Sam had spent far too much of Bilbo's coin--not that the old hobbit hadn't been willing, he'd been that worried--finding mature fall plants that would show their splendor just in time for Frodo's recovery.  He could still remember the wan figure seated shakily on the sill, curled in too many clothes and a blanket to boot, smiling for the first time since his illness at the amount of work and care his new friend had invested for his viewing pleasure.

That had been the moment when Sam had first known; the moment when he had teased a smile from that solemn, pale face.  His thinking, entirely too crowded since Frodo had walked into his life, had coalesced into one moment of iron-hard truth.  Grey-gold eyes had delved blue over the birth of this garden plot, and Samwise Gamgee knew that he'd somehow lost his heart to Bilbo's odd, bookish, rascally cousin.

As Sam matured, so had the garden, and it had over the years become not only a mental focus, but a needed physical release of desire and devotion: all the things he couldn't voice, all the ways he couldn't touch.  He spent many days each season trying to decide what to plant here, what would be special enough to meet a pair of sleep-softened eyes when they first alighted upon the day.  For those first sickly days had formed a habit that persevered even when Frodo fully came back into his normal tensile strength; more often than not he would rise, brew himself a cup of tea then curl up on his window ledge, looking out into the morning.  Sometimes Sam had been there to see him do it, others not.  Cloudy, sunny, rainy, fair--none of it seemed to matter but that Frodo linger there and dust the slumber-spun cobwebs from his mind, soak in the sights and smells of earth and sky.  And none of it mattered to Sam but that his Frodo should have something particularly lovely to wake to.

Sam settled down in the bare patch of earth beneath the window and took up a handful of moist loam, brought it to his face and smelled it.  The richness of it--sharp and heady, musky and dark--filled him, uncannily and sensually reminiscent of the ardent hobbitlad who had seemingly always been his friend and was now by some magic chance also his lover.  It released further the tight knot within his breast and he gave a quick sob.  Tears spilled over and dripped onto the ground, and he knelt there on hands and knees, almost in homage, and the earth quietly and inexorably took in the strange, sweet beauty of his pain, abided it.

As always.

"Sam?"

So quiet and asking, so gentle, that voice.  Yet it could also raise sharply in anger, grate the senses with unconscious arrogance, sigh with fond and fussy exasperation.

And now he knew how it could catch and throb richly with passion.

"Sam?"  The little boy's voice, this.  Tentative, caught with his hand in the cookie crock perhaps, and unsure of whether to attempt to spin an incredible lie or just admit that he couldn't possibly wait for dinner.  "Are you all right?"

"I'm all right."  Sam raised his face and saw the slender silhouette framed in the windowsill, looking down at him.  Frodo hesitated briefly, then hopped gracefully through the opening, closing the short distance to him on silent feet.  Dark brows furrowed at the sight of his own brimming eyes, then amazingly softened with understanding.  The last nearly made him burst into those unfathomable tears again--instead Sam ventured, almost reproachfully,  "I thought you were sleeping."

"I woke up,"  Frodo said quietly, halting before him.  "You weren't there.  The bed was cold."  He then confessed, a bit shyly,  "I... I was lonely."

Stardust seeding in his hair, moonlight eclipsing his vision:  Frodo's dark head was crowned with stars, his eyes reflecting the tawny harvest moon as surely as the tiny fish-pond.  Save that the water was still and breathless, and Frodo's eyes were shimmering, changing every other second with too many emotions to name.  He'd slipped into the same set of breeks so willingly discarded earlier, and his shirt was just as obviously and hastily donned.  Left hanging open, the dark fabric melted as a shadowed reflection into the darkness of the garden, the slim, white line of Frodo's body betrayed only by moon-kissed belly and breastbone and throat.  Sam looked up at this vibrant addition to the grounds he had tended and cared for and touched with broad, capable hands, and met those astonishing, changling eyes, and thought Frodo the most beautiful thing he'd ever seen.

As if this silent power of exchange proved too much for him, Frodo was the one to look away.  Whatever surety he'd held frantically to in order to claim and direct their passion seemed to elude him; he tilted his head, closing his eyes as if to let the night kiss his upturned face.  His profile outlined itself with the full moon, which was so bright Sam could see his chin quivering.

"Mister Frodo?"  he voiced softly.  Is it all right?  Tell me we're all right...

The suspiciously glimmering eyes turned to him.  "You've dirt on your nose, now,"  was the next, purposefully-light statement; Frodo bent over Sam's still-kneeling form to brush at his nose with two fingers.  Both voice and fingers trembled.  "I know you love your garden, but must you eat it as well?"

Sam smiled a bit ruefully, rocking back on his haunches and realizing the withdrawal for what it was.  Scared, are you?  Uneasy with what's suddenly happened?  Well, so am I, no doubt... but I'm here, aren't I?   Your Sam's here.  He grasped the index finger, touched his lips to the callous that raised along one side of it--no workinghobbit's hands, these.  Smooth and sinewy, marred only by the tools of pen and ink and paper.  "You say my garden?  'Tis yours.  And mister Bilbo's."

"No."  Now the soft voice was once again strong, firm with certainty.  Frodo's thumb traced along Sam's lower lip.  "Bilbo's always saying it's your garden, and he's right.  If sweat and toil, if love and back-breaking work count for anything toward making something yours..."

Sam drew in air, shuddering and sharp, as Frodo abruptly pulled him close, fingers massaging at his nape.  Sam pushed aside the soft linen shirt, nestling his cheek into the even softer texture of Frodo's belly.  He closed his eyes, laid his breath there, interlaced with tiny kisses.  Frodo's fingers tangled in his hair, his stomach quivering against Sam's mouth.

So if I love hard enough, and sweat and toil hard enough, can I make you always mine?  Sam parted his lips, let his tongue blaze a trail of sensation from just above Frodo's navel to his right hipbone.  Fingers clenched tightly, almost painfully in his hair and, even more telling, he could feel the rising flesh that stirred, hardening against his chest and collarbone.

"Sam."  It was a hoarse whisper.

"You took care of me pretty well, didn't you?"  Sam answered softly, between nips and kisses.  "But that's my job, isn't it, to care for things?  To tend them. To find their needs..."

"Sam.  I wanted to care for you.  I wanted you, not what you could do for me."

"And you did,"  he assured, fingers working at trouser buttons with what he hoped was adequate finesse.  "But now you're awake, and maybe it's time you got some attention."

"Here?"  Fond, slightly disbelieving.

"Here."  Firmly, brooking no argument.

If I love you hard enough, and take care of what you need, give you what you want... and somehow, what you want and need is me...and save me, all I want is you, with me, here.

"I..."  Whatever Frodo was about to say juddered into a halted, shaky gasp as his trousers were separated from his hips and Sam took him gently, if firmly, in hand.  Undeniable proof of passion, revealed and all too revealing--and so much like his Frodo, delicate-seeming and soft as the newly opened petals of a rose, yet arching with decisive, undeniable strength toward his touch.  He ran his thumb experimentally along the underside, as if testing the keenness of a blade, smiled in satisfaction as Frodo jerked in response, did it again.  And again.

"S...Sam,"  Frodo breathed, pulling at his hair until Sam peered upward at him.  His eyes were brilliantly dark and just a bit wild.  "I don't think I can just... I don't think I can... just stand here while you..."

"Come here, then."  Sam reached up and pulled him down a bit firmly, met the surprised look with a fierce, quick kiss.  "And why not?  If this place--our place where I've poured every ounce of my love for you until now... if it's where everything I've ever cared for lies, then I reckon it's only right that I need you lying here, as well."

"So much for propriety,"  Frodo said, softly teasing, whatever uncertainty had claimed him seemed to have taken flight beneath Sam's own certainty--it had somehow been exactly what was necessary to gentle them both.  Frodo leaned back on his elbows in the fresh-turned earth and looked up at him from beneath his brows, a soft smile playing at his lips that irredeemably turned Sam's bones to butter.  Oh, and Frodo was a rascal all right--he  knew what that look did, had smiled and said as much not long ago as if he liked the fact that his best friend felt it like a physical blow.  Not just the smile, and the voice, but the sight of him, all stretched out and clad in nothing but a soft, dark shirt and his hair and the starlight--it was taking away every ounce of plain good sense Sam had ever possessed.  This Frodo he'd never had the chance to see, this rather wanton and straightforward lad who had bedded him with such unyielding artlessness and who nevertheless seemed to know exactly what he liked and how to claim it.  Frodo kept looking at him, sloe-eyed from beneath even darker eyelashes, and the wonder of it struck him again, low and powerful and undeniably exciting.

Oh, my dear.  Hit me again, won't you?  Maybe with luck and a bit of practice I can even clout you back...

Sam laughed wryly and reached out, fingers grasping for and taking Frodo's hand with ever-increasing surety.  "Propriety?  Ah, but if this is my place, and if you meant it when you said that I was not to call you 'mister' when one of us was close enough to do this..."  he leaned forward and kissed him once again, a lingering caress laid high on one cheekbone,  "then perhaps it's pure and simple the proper thing to do after all."

"As long as no one takes a mid-night stroll."  Frodo shifted, put his lips to Sam's knuckles, then took the forefinger into his mouth.  The sudden reminder of what that agile tongue could do--and what he'd no doubt still not seen it do--shook him to marrow; Sam took his free hand and ran it down the line of Frodo's breastbone, bent and set his parted lips to the pale throat.  Frodo arched into both caresses.

"No one will see us if they do," Sam whispered.  The pulse-point beneath his mouth quickened madly. "Your room and on the Hill above are the only places there'll be any line of sight to here.  I reckon I'm acquainted with every inch of this garden."

"I'd rather you got acquainted with every inch of me,"  Frodo whispered back.

"What do you think I'm doing, then?"  Sam retorted softly, his hand gliding ever so slowly downward, making pleasant, meandering stops along the way.  He remembered how starkly and fascinatingly uncomfortable it had been, the teasing before the seriousness; the touching and the whispers and the tantalizing promises made in both--then the way they had been fulfilled.  Anyway, once was not enough to learn those contours and angles, and that once had gone way too swiftly and one-sided for his liking.  He wanted to touch Frodo, to memorize him like a fantastical, wildish map of nerves and reactions.  He wanted to tickle any remaining secrets loose with his fingertips, with his tongue.  He wanted to find out if his hands--so capable and skilled with the earth--could also gain this skill.  If with touch alone he could have the power to make Frodo forget his own name.

His progress was very promising--Frodo's breathing had quickened, almost doubled.  "You could... um... 'do' just a bit faster, you know."

"Seems I recall someone telling me that these things should take time."  Sam bent, set his lips to following the path where fingers had crossed.  Frodo's heart jerked beneath his hand and his ribs strained upward.

"Not fair... using my own words against me..."

"Well, just reminding you.  Anyway, I like the idea of taking my time with this."

"Sam..." 

"Being so new to it, I just want to make sure that the job's done proper, and all."

"Sam."  Now Frodo's voice was very firmly laced with impatience--a familiar and fond, if irritated, cant that usually accompanied the words,  'get on with it, then!'

"Now who's demanding?  But I'm used to that and all, with you,"  Sam muttered somewhere near his middle-most rib.  "And you're always fussing that I don't move fast enough for you, so seems to me you'd be used to that by now."

"Sam."

Hiding a triumphant grin against Frodo's side, Sam dipped his hand downwards.   Frodo pushed into his palm with a soft groan; Sam leaned upon his free arm, moved his hand with long, slow strokes, and watched.  Blue-black eyes rolled upwards, fell closed, dark hair tossing back and all but blending into the rich earth.  One arm flung itself upward, fingers restively digging into the soil, parted lips trembling, jawline clenching and releasing in perfect rhythm with each careful stroke of Sam's hand.  Had these expressions played so appealingly across that mobile face the first time they'd loved?  How much sheer wonder like this had he missed in the tangle of bodies and cover of sheets and the first, rapid heat of his own demand?

Suddenly Frodo's brow quirked; as if aware of Sam's unwavering gaze his eyes opened, slid sideways and met his questioningly.  "What are you doing?"

"What do you think, then?"  He didn't stop the careful deliberations of his fingers, didn't stop taking careful note of Frodo, quivering and restless beneath his attentions.  "Watching you.  You're so beautiful, you know that?"

Slow fire burned across those moon-pale cheeks; dark lashes lowered and hid Frodo's eyes but not his thoughts.

"You are."  He slid his hand away from Frodo, started to unbutton his own shirt.  "And I'm going to show you how much."  His hands were shaking suddenly, shaking so hard he could barely catch them to fabric.  He just wanted so much to please Frodo in return--perhaps what he didn't know, he could make up.  Perhaps he could just use his imagination; there was no doubt it had been quite overactive up to now in regards to Frodo.

Besides, he wasn't totally without a brain in his head, no matter what that old trout Lobelia said... and anyway, he'd heard the lads talking, and... curse it!  His fingers didn't seem to want to work...

Frodo gave a wry chuckle and sat up, reaching out to bat Sam's hands away.  "Not if you can't even unbutton your own shirt, you're not."  Before Sam could draw two breaths those dexterous fingers had unfastened his shirt and drawn it back over his shoulders; rather bemusedly Sam let him.  He then let Frodo reach down and unfasten his breeches, pulling them down and away.  Sam shifted out of them, shucked the shirt from his arms then found himself kneeling face to face with Frodo, the cool earth cushioning his knees and shins, the night sounds rising around them.  He reached out, touched one warm cheek, trailed his fingers over throat and chest and swiftly downwards, once more wrapping his fingers about hardened velvet.

Frodo sighed and leaned forward into Sam's chest, fingers splaying across his ribs.  Sam buried his face in the dark curls--they smelled of earth, of juniper, of cinnamon/sage eniara.  Frodo's tongue traced delicate spirals across his breastbone and Sam's hand twisted in reaction and a muted "ohhhhh..." came from the vicinity of his left nipple and those hands which had so easily shed his clothing cupped his own erection, seeking a particular tender spot that Frodo had exploited all too thoroughly in their last joining.  Sam took in a ragged gasp as he found it, smoothing quick fingertips across and down and back up again; Sam reached forward, tangled both hands in Frodo's hair and pulled his face up to meet his own, pulled him hard against his torso.

The kiss was almost bruisingly thorough, lips and tongues curvetting within and about each other.  They were one silhouette beneath the bowl of stars, not even a finger of moonlight found its way between their entangled, kneeling frames and the frogs and insects thrummed in rhythm with thundering heartbeats and gasping breaths.  Sam pushed him back once more into the soft soil--or was he pulled along as Frodo leaned back?--but no matter and Frodo's hands were everywhere at once it seemed, his opened shirt falling halfway down his shoulders, Sam's own hands tangling in the dark fabric.  Once more he angled his body against Frodo's, and there was nothing in his universe but the feel of the slender body beneath his own, cradled between earth and flesh, warm and sweated and slick; Frodo tense and panting against him with blazing, half-shuttered eyes as Sam gave one push, then another, then another...

And he had to stop, to back off, because it was either that or lose whatever semblance of control he was enjoying, and Frodo gave a mute gasp as they separated.

"Don't stop,"  he pleaded, and Sam started to move over him again, then hesitated.  This had been so nice last time, but he wanted more.  He wanted...  he frankly wasn't sure what he wanted, only that it involved more.

"Sam..."

The entreaty broke Sam from stillness; he moved his hand downward once again.  His eyes upon Frodo the entire time and ready to cease what he was doing should there be the slightest hint of uncertainty, he bent double.  Still hesitant, noting every nuance of Frodo's body cant and facial expression, he covered him with his mouth.  Frodo's entire frame lurched beneath him, but his face suggested bliss rather than recoil; Sam bent to his work with renewed intent.  Tongue circling and darting, the taste of salt and mist, fingertips exploring and probing and ah, there it was, and the reaction was startling and immediate and it seemed the stars themselves would dance to the sweet music that released itself from Frodo's throat.  More... please...  One leg curled about Sam's, pulling him farther against and within, capturing his own risen reaction between milk-white thigh and soft, moist earth and he pushed instinctively and willingly into the incredible, frictioned imprisonment, groaning a name... Frodo... in question and the answers not only in words...

Oh...  Sam...  harder...  ohpleaseohSamdon't... stop... please...

Sam gave him what he wanted, teeth scraping, hand twisting, pushing, and Frodo's torso arched up from the earth and he laughed, and cried out, and oh, yes... and Sam tensed, groaned, and took him even deeper, willing both refuge and release as they both came into each other and the earth.

A patina of sweat ablaze upon his cheeks and glossing over his lips, Frodo closed his eyes.  Sam smiled, pillowed his head upon damp and heaving hobbitlad, and felt vast contentment.  Slowly, sounds began to once more insert themselves into his consciousness.  Several frogs hummed a bass couplet beside the small pool, and night birds sang within the branches of the roof tree.  The wind had picked up, whispering through bushes and leaves.  However none of it was as pleasant upon his ears as the sound of Frodo's spent gasps and thundering pulse ringing against his cheek and ear, laboring in time to his own rapid heartbeat and ragged breathing.

A hand laid itself rather shakily upon his damp hair, gave a tug.  Sam abandoned his quivering, abdominal pillow to a somewhat quieter one against Frodo's shoulder and neck.

"I thought..."  Frodo sighed, turning his lips into Sam's neck,  "I thought you had never... where did you learn that?"

"Watching your face."

Lustrous eyes, inebrious and all but black in the half-light, turned to him curiously.

"You don't stop to think, do you now, how much you tell me with this,"  Sam touched one finger to the full lower lip,  "or these,"  his fingers moved upward and traced a light feather-touch over half-closed eyelids,  "or these,"  he leaned forward and kissed first one eyebrow, then the other.  Then Sam pulled Frodo close, wrapped about him tightly.

"D'you think I don't notice what you need?"

Frodo was quiet, curling up beneath him, just as determined to make their bodies once again into one entity.  For long moments they lay side by side, regaining grasp on normalcy.  Then a soft, rueful grievance issued from near Sam's shoulder.

"Well, I should think you can't help but notice I'm rather in need of a bath at this point."

Sam grinned against Frodo's hair.  "Wages of being under 'stead of over."

Frodo twisted about to face him; an exasperated look ensued.  "You keep using my words against me, you know."

"Well then, I don't know the right words, the fancy words for all of this."  Sam kissed his shoulder, tense and tender as a butterfly's landing.  "So I reckon you can take care of that for me."

A snort.

"I wasn't hearing any complaints then.  You can't be too terribly sticky, you know."

"Well..."  Amazingly, it was Frodo who looked downward with a sudden blush.  "I am, a bit.  And I have dirt where dirt should not be."

"A little dirt in your crevices won't sicken you, you know."

"Maybe.  But it's bloody uncomfortable!"  Frodo's gaze slid sideways to meet his own, and there was a teasing light in them that gave fair warning.  "Truth be told, I was rather afraid I'd get stickers in my arse when you suggested this."

"Stickers!"  Fair warning or no, teasing or no, there were some things that weren't meant to be borne.  Sam sat up indignantly.  "There's no stickers in this garden, mister Frodo, I'll tell you that right now and plain!"

And his Frodo just lay there, smirking, all but naked and damp and covered with dirt, and still managed to look beautiful doing it.  "I told you not to call me 'mister'."

Smug little sod.

"So what's next?"  was Frodo's further query.  "I could really use a bath..."

"Ohhhh, you."  Sam had to smile, and reached for him.  "Come here."

*  *  *  *  *  *

 

Back to Slash Story Listing