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Hugo: Early afternoon finds me pacing my living room, startling Imladris repeatedly from her sun-drenched nap until she leaves me for the study. I'm feeling a bit trapped in this place, a little stir-crazy. I've called my kids, balanced my checkbook, cleaned the kitchen, showered and wanked, called the grocery store to have a few things delivered tomorrow, and now I'm as spinning as ever within my own thoughts. That won't do so I snag my keys from the shallow plate near the door and drive, not knowing exactly where I'm going. It takes only two trips around Wellie to realise this is not helping so I check my location and note I'm not far from someone I haven't seen in quite a while. I pull into the drive and hope to find him at home, for all I know he's off doing something ... director-y.

Pete: I'm flopped back, dozing and daydreaming on the couch, a tomato-pasta-basil-cheese Frankenstein of a soup left simmering on the stove. I really should have had an Igor around for creating that one, it's untouched by any conventional recipe yet written. Hmm, should have written it down, oh well, it's to be enjoyed once, and then you move on to the next meal.

There's a car in the drive, and I hear someone walking up the path. I'm up and stretching before the doorbell rings, letting loose a gigantic yawn before facing company. Hey, now this is good. Hugo's on the porch. I shake my head again to clear it, and grab his arm, hauling him inside. "Yeah, I know I've got that classic Audrey Hepburn polish and refined look thing going on, Weaving, don't hate me cause I'm beautiful. Was napping. Sort of. Erf, lazy Sundays shouldn't be allowed! So, what's on your mind today besides the lazy breezes unencumbered by the hindrance of a hairline?"

Hugo: "Was out for a drive, figured I'd drop in on a lazy hobbit and find out what was new and interesting. Actually, going a bit stir-crazy so I thought I'd come to annoy you for a bit. S'more fun than Dave these days, anyways. Boy's got a bug up his arse like he's taking one too many lessons from me on how to be morose and gloomy." I grin and flop in a chair, "he's living in my backyard, so to speak, did you know that?" I have no clue what anyone knows any more, for all I know, Dave told you while I was....away.

Pete: "Okay, slow down, ramble-boy. I swear you never change that way, I'd catch you halfway through a concept on the Rings set, and it'd take me all day to figure out what mental cart came before what horse in your head!" I fix my collar, why didn't Hugo mention it was half cockeyed? Follow me. Stir soup. Mellow. And tell me why the hell our Daisy's wilted and repotted himself in your backyard?

Hugo: Stir soup? The man's gone daft. "Had a place on some property that needed some fixing up.." Well, fuck me, he was serious. I stare at the ladel a moment before I shrug and give the soup a stir. "He was living in a pink room at Bean's at the time. Can you imagine that, christ, I'd have nightmares in a pink room. Speaking of nightmares," I gesture with the ladle before realising I'm dripping on the floor and I quickly move it back over the pot of soup, "this bowl-schite has Dave messed up. We're all going to need shrinks before this is over. Don't suppose you've got a handbook tucked away somewhere? Better yet, I hear you've contact with one of the higher-up's. Can't you ask him to, I dunno, give Morgoth a dirty magazine and tell him to wank elsewhere?"

Pete: I take the ladle from Hugo, if he can't show the utensil the proper respect and dignity, then no soup for him. I start laughing when I realize the words I just thought, but as I stir the soup myself, I think about what you just said.

"Well, I sort of have contact. Alan Lee's turned into the master of the cryptic contact. I've e-mailed him a dozen times since the calendar-incident and he hasn't answered a one of them. Was considering having a painting commissioned showing His Royal Avoidance posed at a desk writing me a letter. Figured that might actually force him to write back to me."

Soup's ready, and without thinking about it I ladle out a couple of bowls and set them on the kitchen counter next to a gigantic loaf of french bread. Oh, look, accidentally made lunch. "I really, really don't want to think about the aftershock of Morgoth, um, relieving himself like that, Hugo. Has your brain always been this screwed up and I was just to preoccupied to notice before?"

I get the bread ripped up into good sized dunking squares, and just lean on the counter, digging into my lunch. Dining room tables heaped with papers, and I'm not about to clear us a place to sit.

"And why the fuck did Bean paint his house pink? Something about him I should know?"

Hugo: "My brain's always been screwed up. First epilepsy, nearly strangled during a rehearsal, then an elf, remember?" I snort and dunk a piece of bread in the soup, mindful not to get any more soup on the floor after the look of 'doom' you gave me. "Really, my brain is the worst specimen of a normal brain you could find. Better not donate my body to science, might raise some questions." I snicker at the idea of a bunch of students standing around my cadaver, all set to do an autopsy and what the FUCK is going on with this guy omigod call the medical textbook people! All running into eachother with scalpelsin hand in a hurry to be the first one to report their findings, catastrophy in the morgue. "Bugger on Alan conveniently finding himself otherwise absent. Not that I thought he'd actually help but I wanted to get a picture with one of the big guys. Have him autograph it even. Wonder how much that'd go for on ebay? 'Authentic Valar-signed photograph! Certificate of Authenticity included.' There are some people who'd buy that, you know."

Pete: "Hell, I get requests from fans for personally autographed glossies of King Kong. No, they don't want my signature, they want King Kong's. So, yeah, tell em you've got a Valar as a drinking buddy, they'll buy it. And ya know, I don't look forward to the day some no-life basement dweller life wearing tinfoil in their stocking cap figures out there's elves and worse in Wellie." I lean on the counter, idly dunking my bread and damn, I really should have written down this recipe, I should write a cookbook, oh, that would be fun. Do the talk show circuit, get my own slot on one of those home and gardenchannels, give up writing and directing and what the hell am I thinking? "We're the biggest conspiracy theory since Kennedy, you know. Just no one knows about it. Yet." I give you a look. "You seem even more bitchy than usual, sunshine. Spill. You been okay since getting out of that cave?"

Hugo: "Me? Bitchy? Nah, it's just my endearing personality." I grin award-winningly at you, tossing another bite of soup-soaked bread into my mouth. Pretty damned good stuff, I should hire you as my chef. I give you a half-hearted shrug, keeping my personal info personal but that's not to say I won't speak of others, "I see my friends' lives stumbling and crashing into more doom than even I can murk in, I see idiots complicating our lives worse than they were, I see innocents being threatened by things they should be ignorant, I see little hope in a world blind to our conspiracy, and and.... I seedead people," I end in a loud whisper, eh, true enough but I can mock, right? I think I deserve the right to mock our lives. "I maintain the right to be bitchy on account of our lives sucking. Besides, it's good to foray into the varying pathways to displace anger in a more calm and productive mannner." I nearly singsong my words, amused as much now by them as I was the first time I heard it spoken, "I tried meditating, too quiet in my head, it wasn't nearly as effective as being bitchy." I smirk and salute you with my bread. "Good soup."

Pete: I sop up the last of my soup, and lean away from the counter. "You want to see idiot's lives complicating our lives, Hugo my boy? Follow me to wonderland." I amble out of the kitchen, turning back to glance at you "Dead people, my arse. I'll show you worse. Live people."

I pull open the hallway closet, and then I I stand back and let you see what's inside. A stack of charred laptop computers. Reams of smoky, burnt papers, the stacks slumping to the wall, crumbling to ash and barely readable.

"Stupid, stupid writers. Teenagers that think they're the Next Big Thing. Nervous housewives writing out their lost lives. Men pretending to be elven maidens. Women swaggering in words as valiant men. And all of them fucking with Tolkien's characters."

I slam the door, it's no use you poking through the mess. It's all a ruin. You can't read it, though I did, seconds before each story burnt to a crisp, taking it's collective hardware with it in most cases.

"Wonder why it is I'm lost in my work and my planes and my cooking? There's your answer, mate. Tell me where my pals the Valar are helping me out here. I got rid of the pencils. But I can't get rid of the will to write in everyone out there."

Hugo: I raise a brow at Peter's outburst. Okay, I kind of deserved it. But just doesn't make much sense -- guess he's under as much pressure as the rest of us. Hell, maybe -he- should see someone. But at least he hasn't gone off the deep end yet. The moment I see him in pants, I will fear for us all. "We knew about the fan fiction, Peter, no sense worrying over spilt milk. If we burn our copy, it's still out there floating around in computer-land, waiting for the next reader." Yeah, pretty clueless as to what he's saying here. "You're still writing variations on a theme in M-minor? Fuck, Peter, can ya stop before Elrond has six arms and a third head?"

Pete: I shut the closet door, shaking my head. Frying my laptops must just be a way to poke at me from the great and mysterious Void, cause Hugo's right. Wrecking my equipment doesn't make the stories go away. I can't help laughing now. "Ya know, there's something even Morgoth can't control, right? The internet. No one can, there's no central place to knock it all out, and I don't think he's got enough resources to do that from where he is. Hell, he's a damned nusiance and he's making our lives hell, but what keeps me from crawling under the sink and staying there is knowing he's got some limits." Mentally, I add 'for now' but I don't say that out loud.

"A third head, Hugo? You implying he's got two, now? Make Elrond give one over to Dave, sounds like he's lost his." We're walking back to the living room now, and I pop the lid off a big decorative chinese vase that used to be my umbrella stand just inside the door. The wafting aroma of #2 pencils floats out, and I grab one, spinning it between my fingers. "I think the old man's discovered office supply shops now. Slips a few bills from my wallet and then I find this... yeah, still writing."

Hugo: I'm confused. But that's nothing new. Pencils, on the other hand, I can handle pencils. "Is it so wrong that Tolkien wishes to write more, Peter? He's the creator of Middle Earth in our world, if he wishes to write, given no control by those will remain nameless, is it so wrong? Look at his stories, at least they turned out for the good, as we know it. The crew won, they managed to get rid of all the baddies in Arda, it was a good thing. You, no offense, killed offHaldir, sent the elves to Helms Deep, did some funky stuff with Faramir's character, Arwen, no Glory, sent Celeborn West with Gally and the Ron-ster. You made a lot of changes to the story. I'd be more concerned about -you- writing, truthfully, than Tolkien. Someone might have been influencing what he wrote, but it turned out -good-. Perhaps there were some other influences with Tolkien's works."

Pete: Well, damn if I can find much to argue with in there. "Hugo, you feeling okay, mate? I think you just had a lucid moment." And it's not like I haven't spent entire nights thinking about this very thing. I've tried to explain to others before that we had valid reasons for all the changes we made to the movies, but it feels like my argument's a little thinner each time I pull it out. "I'd like to think that, yeah. That Tolkien had some good forces prodding him too.And, well, Alan did mess with the calendar." Still, some of the writing Tolkien's done these past couple of years has been disturbing. But not all of it. "Maybe you're right. Sometimes he writes bleak alternatives, but usually it's just some strange variations. Have I shown you the margin notes Tolkien wrote a few months back that had Elrond moving to Gondor as Aragorn's advisor? Or the one where Elrohir and Elladan married twin girls from Dol Amroth?"

Hugo: I snort at that --- from what I've heard, the twin sons of Elrond would do no such thing. Speaking of which.. "they're here, you know. The sons of Elrond? Here. Now. Despite the odds and despite having no bloody part of your movies they're here and endangering their lives every time they bloody shift. Two yokuls looked in the bloody bowl cause they fucking felt like it. Plot thickens, sensei. Glory shifting that one time through Dave was odd enough, but the twins? Likely get themselves killed, they will!"

Pete: "Yeah, I know they're here, they dropped by one day selling magazine subscriptions." You give me one of those eyebrow doom things, and I roll my eyes. "Seriously. They came by. Well, they looked like a couple of locals except for the pointy ears, and they were hellbent on giving me shit about the Glorfindel oversight, among other things. Cripes, I swear, give me a time machine and I'll remake those movies in a heartbeat. And they'll be called Glorfindel Saves The Lord Of The Rings. Top billing, I swear on a Feeble."

Hugo: Laughing, I have to agree. Might appease some of the stauncher book-fans. Hell, if Glory was -mentioned-. Jesus, what kind of effect would it have on us? On...everything?

I don't even want to think about that.

"Met one of them the other day, Gareth is his name? Wanted to strangle the chap but resisted the baser impulses. Doesn't seem quite right, rnadom people lookng and getting involved. Whatever, I told Dave I'd make peace and behave myself. Well, not in so many words. All the about we refilm the movie, kill off Morgoth for certain this time? I'd be game."

Pete: "Gareth? Can't say I know him by his Wellie moniker. But let me see if we can figure them out. One was slight of build, longish hair, pouty lips, every inch Mr. Sensual Boy, the kind everyone casts in movies but me. The other looked more street-smart, bit of a punk going by his clothing, but well, I was talking to the elves, so I can't judge a book by it's cover, can I?"

I feel I should offer you something, even though you're probably stuffed with soup and bread. I'm a lousy host. I've never had that knack of offering the proper beverage, taking coats and layering them nicely on the frilly bed in the guest room, hell, do I have a guest room? I think I used to, now it's storage for odd props and planes and excess office stuff. When did my house become a waystation for so much clutter?

"So, Gareth's needing strangling, you say. Would he be the punk kid, or the harlequin romance boy? And who the hell decided they made a matched set? Damned unnerving, I have to say, they're like night and day."

Yes, I'm avoiding talking about your proposition. Yes, it's tempting. And yes, it's scary, too. Just film him being offed and he's.... off? "Um, so, this remake you propose. You up for reprising your role, or will you be conveniently on the other side of the globe, then?"

Hugo: "He would be the street-wise kid. I think. Dunno, never met the other. Works at a a band." I gesture absently, eager to get off the subject. I did tell Dave I'd play nice. But people make it so hard.

And Peter thought I was serious. Eh. Could be worse. "Of course I would, who else would you get to be all doom and gloom? Can hardly replace me." Running a hand through my hair, batting my lashes, I look the proper (fallen) angel. "Then, on the other hand, we're down an orc, urak-hai and witchking. And I don't suppose Morgoth would put up a fight. Could prove interesting."

Pete: "You do realize I wanted Keanu Reeves to play Elrond. He'd have looked good in those long flowing robes. I was pretty upset when he wasn't available for the part. I think it was Dave that mentioned you could really use some work... oh, quit giving me that look! I'm kidding. Mostly."

So. One of the sons of Elrond is currently housed in a bartender wanna be rock star. Perfect, just lovely. I feel a migrane coming on. Definitely time to change the topic.

"Okay, I can't stand the eyelash batting. Stop it before I give in to your charms. Oh, and did you see the blurb in the weekly fish-wrapper? Costume party to benefit the Embassy Theatre? Damned good cause that, I think I'll go. You game?"

Hugo: "Costume party?" First I'd heard of it. Ashamed to admit I read the tabloids but I must've slept through that edition. What the hell would I go as, Elrond? Hah, now, wouldn't that be a riot. "Hadn't heard of it, but I might just have to. The Embassy Theatre, is that the one you helped restore? Always been meaning to stop by and check the place out, now I have an excuse. Think I'll go as Elrond. Or perhaps just shift and -be- Elrond." I snicker at the idea of the elder at a party. A costume party, no less. Oh, he'd -hate- it. "Better yet, can I force Elrond into my Mitzi silver sequins and heels? Oh, that would be brilliant."

Pete: "Oh, right. Elrond the Party Animal. Force Mitzi on him, yep, at least I'd have a dance partner! Don't give me that look. I can dance. Really." I start contemplating changing my costume, maybe I really should go as a hobbit, everyone thinks I'm one anyway. Maybe I'll go in drag. Little hobbit lass. Yeah. There's some nightmare fodder for the gang.

"Anyway. Should be a fun party. You could use some fun, Hugo. I can tell by the forehead creases, they're in danger of going permanent. You need to lighten up. Yeah, I know life's full of crap, but still. I've got my soup and my airplanes. You really need a hobby, you know."

Hugo: "I have hobbies. Staying alive is a good hobby. I read - yet another good hobby. Educational. I harrass my neighbor. Lots of hobbies." I nod in reaffirment and smirk at the thoughts of you dancing. That's actually quite the scary thought. Huh. A Halloween party, eh? Maybe I'll send the other me in, liven it up a bit. They're all so dreadfully serious anyways.

I nearly laugh out loud at this thought, then shake my head at your look, much amused with myself but really nothing to share. One of those inside-inside jokes. "Now that you've fed me and amused me, I probably ought to be going. Supposed to call the kids in..." I check my watch, "20 minutes. They get anxious when I don't. Something about being away for a few months made them wish to hear my voice and they actually listen to me speak. Fancy that."

Pete: "You'd better get going, then. And you can reassure your kids that you're eating well, at least I've made sure of that!" Made sure you're other things too, but well, that's water under the portal bridge, and it's oddly reassuring to know that you lot are somehow keeping your ties to the mundane world alive. Soup, yes, that's mundane and nourishing, keeps a body alive, if not food for the soul. Soul food isn't my forte. Maybe a re-write of certain pub scenes and changing 'it comes in pints!' to 'it comes in bowls with croutons atop!' would help. Might be worth a shot, anyway. I sense a pencil sharpening night tonight.

I walk you to the door, and give you my best director's smile. "Tell the anklebiters Pete says hello. And hmmm. I think I'll try giving our elusive Alan another call tonight. Just for the hell of it. See you at the party then, mate?"

Hugo: "Tell him I said hello, then, if you get ahold of him." I step out the door, giving a small wave as I go. Off home to call the kids and do...something...productive with my day. "And ah..if you would, mate, tell him thanks?" I give a quick smile and get into my car debating the now-ever-present topic, just what the hell am I going to be for Halloween?

December 2006

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