Legolas stood perfectly still on a branch midway up a large oak tree, his fingers resting lightly on the bark as he peered down through the summer leaves. For many long minutes he stood unmoving, barely breathing, as he waited. Then, in the distance he heard faint footfalls which grew steadily louder, though they remained almost too soft for human hearing to detect. At last Legolas saw his pursuer come into view below and then the man's face looking up into the tree. He froze, like a deer on alert.
"Come down, Legolas, I know you are there," the man said.
"Nay," the Elf replied merrily, the tinge of mischief in his voice unmistakable, "you may have found me, but you have not caught me."
He reached and seized the branch above his head, swinging himself up and running along it faster and more nimbly than a man could run on the ground. Leaping without halt or hesitation into the branches of a neighboring tree, he ran on. After traversing a good bit of forest in this manner, he climbed to the ground and set off again at a swift pace.
Legolas was amazed by Aragorn's tracking skills. He always welcomed the opportunity to test the man whenever he visited Mirkwood, which was not as often as the Elf would have liked. Aragorn, for his part, also seemed to enjoy pitting his tracking prowess against the elusive Wood Elf and he never failed to accept one of Legolas' challenges.
Of course, if Legolas kept to the trees the man would not have stood a chance. For no one, not even a tracker of Aragorn's ability could follow an Elf though the upper branches of the old trees that grew thick in this forest. But when Legolas ran along the ground, he left a trail the man could follow, though how he managed it Legolas could not guess for Elves leave very little trace of their passing, so light of foot are they.
But Aragorn was no mere ranger. He was a Dúnedan, and one who had been raised and trained by Elves, so there was little that escaped his attention when he focused fully on a task.
Legolas set a looping, serpentine course that doubled him back in the direction he'd begun, designed to bring him up behind his pursuer. He planned to keep a fair distance so Aragorn would not hear him, and then the hunter would become the hunted. He licked his lips at the thought as he moved swiftly but stealthily along.
The forest was redolent with the scent of moss and fern, of flowering shrubs and green summer leaves. The air was perfectly still and warm within the dense, sheltering canopy of the ancient oaks and elms that grew in this section of the Greenwood. Legolas knew this wood as a man could know each stone and street of his city, and loved it no less, but the relationship of a Wood Elf with the living forest was one no mortal, or even an Elf of another realm, could ever fully understand. He could feel its vibrancy with each beat of his pulse; he could hear the songs of life sung from each plant, and taste upon the air the sweetness of its joy, the bitterness of its sorrow, and the pungency of its fear. He moved though this environment in the perfect comfort and security of one long accustomed to its moods and rhythms as he returned at last to the spot where he had begun his roundabout route.
Knowing that Aragorn would have to do much stooping and kneeling to find his trail, he expected that he would catch up to him fairly quickly. Then it would be a simple matter of slipping up on him when he was deep in concentration and... Well, there were several possibilities that filled his thoughts when he imagined stalking Aragorn from behind.
But as he followed the path he knew he had forged, Legolas did not see Aragorn at all. Moving slowly and cautiously forward, he cast about for any sign of the ranger. Thinking Aragorn may have lost his trail or have gone astray, Legolas smiled in triumph. He would enjoy telling the story of how he had evaded the Dúnedan ranger on this outing. Perhaps he would even compose a little song to commemorate his victory.
As he stood thinking on this, he was seized suddenly and powerfully from behind, strong arms wrapping around him, pinning his arms to his sides.
"Now I have caught you as well as found you," the man's voice said silkily, so close to his ear that Legolas jumped.
"But how did you know I would double back?" Legolas asked.
"Tracking is not merely a matter of finding one's prey, but of knowing who he is, how he thinks," Aragorn whispered.
"So you know how I think, do you?" Legolas said, a playful smile breaking over his fair face.
"Oh, yes." Aragorn breathed, his fingers stalking Legolas' tightening nipple through the sheer fabric of his silky tunic. "I know you like this," he said, circling and pinching the nipple gently while his tongue grazed the point of an elven ear.
Legolas' smile faded and he trembled in the man's arms, his lips parted in pleasure as Aragorn continued to gently maul his tunic-clad nipples and kiss his ear. He turned in Aragorn's arms and kissed him fully, pressing himself against the man.
"What am I thinking now?" Legolas teased, his eyes bright as he broke the kiss to look into Aragorn's grey-blue eyes.
"I hope it is the same thing as I," Aragorn said huskily. He reached for the Elf but Legolas pulled away and with a come-hither look, dashed again into the forest.
Aragorn growled low in his throat and set off after him, but before he had gone ten yards the Elf was again out of sight among the trees.
The trail was easier to pick up this time. Legolas was using no stealth, merely running headlong into the forest. Aragorn followed the trail easily, wondering what his prey had in mind this time. He followed the clearly marked trail through a stand of trees and gasped at the sight before him.
A glade opened beyond the trees, grassy and with a clear pool in its center. The area formed a bowl-like depression within a circle of oaks and ash, completely surrounded and secluded. But as charming as was the pool within the glade, it was not what had taken Aragorn's breath away. No, what had done that was the naked Elf standing in the pool, his eyes closed, the water at his navel, caressing his arousal that rode just below the waterline. Aragorn stood mesmerized by the sight until Legolas opened his eyes, as though just noticing him, and winked.
"It seems you have caught me again," he said, raising his unoccupied hand to his chest, sending a cascade of crystal droplets down his chest and belly, droplets which glistened in the late afternoon sun.
"So I have," Aragorn rejoined," and this time you will not escape so easily." He removed his tunic and leggings, laying them next to Legolas' clothing, and he waded into the water.
As he advanced on the elusive Elf his ardor grew, and Legolas continued to pleasure himself, seeming to take little notice of his approach. But when Aragorn was within an arm's length, Legolas took a step back, then another, and another, leading the man on until his back was at the edge of the pool.
"It seems I have trapped myself at last," Legolas sighed with mock weariness.
"Just as I knew you would," Aragorn laughed.
Aragorn leaned in close, his hands upon the Elf's chest, pinning him in place as he inclined his head for a kiss. Legolas pulled back a bit, making Aragorn stretch for his prize, but then relented, kissing the man eagerly while Aragorn's hands roamed his smooth, eternal flesh and the water lapped sensuously at their hips.
They made love in the pool for hours, their bodies swirling in a dance of timeless passion, a gentle breeze rustling the leaves of the trees around them. As evening began to fall, they quit the warmth of the pool and lay together on the grassy ridge, hands entwined as they watched the first stars wink at them through the branches overhead.
"You have captured me truly this day," Legolas said, giving Aragorn's hand a squeeze. "It is a pity that you cannot remain in the Greenwood longer this trip."
"Aye," Aragorn agreed, "but I must make my way back to Imladris at once. Lord Elrond has summoned me."
"Perhaps, while there, you will walk one eve in the woods as the sun is setting and think of our time together," Legolas said.
Aragorn lifted the Elf's hand and kissed the back of it gently. "I shall, and I promise you that every evening I spend in the wood will bring me thoughts of my lovely prey," he said sincerely.
"What are you thinking, Legolas?" Gimli asked, as the Elf stood within the Hornburg at Helm's Deep, staring at the Evenstar in his hand. "You know he will not come. He is gone from us. There is no reason to stand here waiting when there is much left to be done."
Legolas smiled softly down at the Dwarf and placed a hand on his shoulder. "I know you are right, my friend, but I shall remain a few moments more nonetheless. I promise I will come to you soon."
Gimli nodded and moved away, leaving the Elf to his thoughts and the grief he knew was rending his friend's heart.
Legolas turned the Evenstar over thoughtfully. Aragorn had taken his walk in the woods of Imladris, just as he had promised, and now he held the result in his hand. He pocketed the jewel, his grief tempered by the knowledge that he had lost the man long ago, though his love for him would never wane.
Aragorn, it seemed, had proven the most elusive prey after all.