The sun had set, though it was hard to tell any difference from the general darkness from the pouring rain. It would be just his luck that after having the rental car jumped, the clock would be reset to 12:00. He tried to ignore the flashing and concentrate on getting to the hotel before check-in closed.
Legolas knew he would never live this down. The one time he decided to do things on his on and so far it was a total disaster. First the plane was delayed and he missed his connecting flight and then they lose his luggage. The company he’d reserved with had given away his rental car and he had to go a grade lower. And after all of that, the blasted thing had broken down. He would never hear the end of it from his father.
Legolas' father, Thranduil, was a business tycoon. Thranduil, although he thought it was important to give his son responsibility, also insisted on doing, or paying someone to do, all of what he called "the unimportant things" in his son’s life. But this time Legolas had put his foot down and demanded he be allowed to take care of everything on his own. He insisted that he do the planning of his own itinerary and handling all the bookings by himself. At the time Legolas hadn't been sure if it was more to prove to his father he could do it, or if it was to prove it to himself.
But here he was now, driving a cheap and broken rental car, racing along dark backcountry roads, on a rainy night, trying to race against the end of check-in. Even if he did make it, it was not the end of his night. Legolas still needed to get back on the road and get himself to the convention center. And he couldn't even call anyone to let them know what had happened because his international phone had been in the bag that the airline had lost.
Legolas drove as fast as he could manage in these conditions. Even with his good eyesight and the windshield wipers on the highest speed, visibility was low. But he couldn't afford to slow down and he was thankful that these roads seemed mostly unused. He doubted things could get much worse than they were right now.
He tried formulating his apology. But everything Legolas came up with just sounded like a childish excuse and not like the explanation of the Vice President of marketing. He wasn't sure what would be the worst part of arriving late at the conference, where he was one of the organizers, the probable disciplinary actions of the board, or his father's disappointment.
He increased his speed and zipped around the curves of the road's leaf layered surface. The stress of it all was urging Legolas to go beyond speeds he would normally be comfortable going, even on a clear sunny day. The image of his father's face in his mind's eye made him flush with the heat of frustrated embarrassment. Mostly at himself for allowing this to somehow happen. He gripped the wheel tightly and leaned forward as if the short distance would improve his ability to see.
“C’mon,” he said aloud, “you can do this. Just a little faster.”
When he last had seen a clock it must have been close to 5pm. But how long had he been waiting for roadside assistance? And how long was it since he had left the highway behind?
Legolas couldn't estimate the time well after so much stress, but knew it had to be at least 40 minutes since then. And he suspected it was closer to and hour and a half.
He went around a big curve when a flash of bright metal caught his eye. What was that?
Legolas was suddenly right behind it. He tried to hit the breaks and veer around, but the tread on the old tires did little against the slickness of the wet carpet of leaves.
There was what seemed like a long slow silence.
Then there was a loud crack as his car struck a hard object. There was a screech of rubber against the road.
He managed to bring his vehicle to a stop on the opposite side of the road and jumped out. Legolas was panting. His whole body was trembling from adrenaline.
A body lay on the grass of the shoulder. There was a motorcycle to the side, the wheels still rotating.
No! There was no way this was happening. Not now. He ran to the body and paused, suddenly unsure of what to do. He needed to call an ambulance. But it dawned on him that he had no phone and no idea where he was, other than somewhere on road 350.
Legolas knew that time was essential in these situations. They'd learned about that on the company CPR and First Aid training retreat.
"Are you alright?" Legolas asked, his voice quieter and shakier than he had hoped.
There was a groan and the biker tossed aside his helmet.
He knelt over. "Try not to move too much, sir. There's been an accident. Do you have a phone on you?"
"In my satchel. On the bike," answered the man.
“Don't move,” Legolas said and quickly retrieved the phone, returning to the man’s side. "Okay, I am going to use your phone to call an ambulance. Is this alright with you?"
There was moaning and an affirmative groan.
"Sir, do you know where you are?"
The man tried to sit up and Legolas put a firm hand on his shoulder not wanting him to move and risk exasperating any injuries. “Easy. Stay still for now.”
"This is the south stretch of 350, just before the last exit to 61."
"That's good. Just hang on. If you allow me, I'll check your injuries while we wait for the ambulance," Legolas said, dialing paramedics.
The man gave him a weird look, or at least under the streaks of blood, it looked like an odd look.
Legolas went through what he remembered he should look for as far as information to give the emergency operator. He told them of the head injury. Then, at the instruction of the woman on the other end of the line, he went through a list of questions with the man to determine his condition.
Legolas left the man, whose name it turned out, was Gimli, for just a moment to move his car the rest of the way off the road and put on his hazard lights.
When he got back, the man was quiet. "Gimli?"
There was no response.
Legolas checked the breathing and pulse. The man was breathing normally and his heart rate was steady. But the loss of consciousness had him worry. The man was cold, but it was hard to tell how much was from being on the ground in the freezing rain, and how much might be blood loss.
Legolas put him into rescue position to make sure he would be able to continue to breathe. Then he pulled off his coat and laid it over Gimli to try and keep him warm until the paramedics arrived.
Brushing some wet hair out of his face, Legolas tried to concentrate on breathing himself. He didn’t know what he had done to deserve such a day. What cosmic power had he managed to piss off?
Either way, he felt immeasurably guilty for his actions. His selfishness and carelessness had caused this accident. Thank the valar that the man had on a helmet. He took Gimli’s hand again, checking the wrist to continue monitoring his pulse. There was some small measure of relief that at least the heart rate remained strong and steady.
He did not know how long it was before the flashing lights of the ambulance came around the bend of the road. He was interviewed by one paramedic as the others lifted Gimli onto a gurney and up into the ambulance. He glanced over at the man he didn’t know and he felt that he could not simply leave Gimli to be taken off alone.
The paramedic turned to get into the ambulance and Legolas found himself following into the back of the vehicle. As the paramedic was closing the doors he seemed to take notice of Legolas.
"Are you a friend or family of this man?"
"I am responsible for him," replied Legola.
He was ushered in to sit on the seats that lay to either side of Gimli.
The entire journey to the hospital, Legolas did not take his eyes off the unconscious man. Gimli was the sort of muscular, tough guy you would expect to be on a motorcycle. The black square frames of the glasses seemed a little out of place on a biker, but he had all the other trappings. Gimli had curly red hair pulled back into a short ponytail and a short cropped beard and moustache. Above the left eyebrow, Legolas noticed a couple of metal studs, which were now streaked with blood. And there seemed to be a tattoo peeking out at his collar.
He wasn't the religious sort, but Legolas found his hands wrung together and he prayed to any power that would listen, that this man, Gimli, who he had barely had a chance to speak a couple of words with, would be alright.
"Is there anyone we should contact?" asked a man in mint green scrubs.
Shit! Legolas had forgotten entirely about the conference. "Yes, my father. I can take care of that myself though if there is a phone I can use," said Legolas
"I meant for him," said the nurse, motioning to where Gimli lay, "however, please take the time to contact your own family as well."
"I am sure there is someone who ought to be contacted but,..." Legolas paused and then he patted his pocket. He still had Gimli's cellphone. "I'll take care of contacting his family. Thank you again."
The nurse showed Legolas to an area designated for phone calls and Legolas pulled out the phone.
He hadn't really taken much notice of Gimli’s phone earlier, what with all the panic. It was an older flip phone and Legolas was thankful because it meant there was no password lock to get into the contacts.
A part of him felt guilty though. He had never gone through someone else's phone before. His entire life was on his smartphone. Looking through a phone felt like an invasion of privacy.
Legolas opened the phone and he looked at the grainy pixels of the background. A group of four faces, all looking related, were crammed together. At least when the family showed up he would be able to recognize them.
He went through, looking for anything that said mother or father. There was nothing obvious. However, there were a bunch of listings for the name Kili.
The only reason to have so many listings for one person would be if you really needed to contact them, Legolas reasoned. He figured this was probably his best bet to letting Gimli's loved ones know his condition.
He picked the one that said "Kíli Cell PM" and waited as it rang.
Legolas took deep breaths, trying to calm his nerves. He didn't have to explain his fault in the matter just yet. He just needed to make them aware of the accident.
"Yo, Gim! We were wondering what was taking you so long to get here! The party's great!" Legolas was straining to hear the man's voice over the background music and voices.
"Hello, Mr. Kíli, this is Legolas Greenwood. I am afraid your...," he realized he didn't know their relationship and corrected himself, "there's been an accident."
Something in the tone of Kíli's voice made the bottom of Legolas' stomach drop out. "It was a minor accident and his condition is stable. But I thought you would want to contact relatives and friends to let them know he is here at Laketown General Hospital."
"Can I… is there any way I could talk to him? His mum'll have my head if I don't hear how he's doing from him."
"I am afraid he hasn't woken back up yet," answered Legolas, knowing this would be hard to take.
"By Mahal's beard, I thought you said it wasn't that serious!" came the frantic voice.
"The doctor's are looking him over now. He appeared at the scene to have minor injuries, but he lost consciousness soon after. I am sorry to have had to make this call."
Legolas could hear the panic on the other end even through the silence. He didn't have a clue what to do. He should've let the hospital staff take care of it, but he wanted to take responsibility for his actions. Now he just wanted to hang up.
"He is in room 1283. I am sure the doctors would like to get a full medical history from the immediate family if they are available. Good night," Legolas closed the phone without waiting for a response.
Why had he done that? Was he losing his mind? First he was playing at being a real member of his father’s company, now a medical professional? He probably would need to talk to someone after this: a therapist.
He sent Tauriel a text. Right now he was not able to face the wrath of his father. He also didn’t think he was emotionally capable of hearing anyone else be upset right now. Legolas made sure to include where he was, that he had contacted insurance, and anything else he knew his father would want to know.
He turned off the cell and went back to Gimli's room.
“I agree. We will have to monitor him carefully just to be sure though,” said the doctor to the nurse Legolas had been speaking with earlier. The doctor made a note on a clipboard.
“Sorry, what is his prognosis?” Legolas asked.
“It appears he has a concussion. Beyond that, we won’t know until we’ve gotten the results from the x-rays. You did some good work out there. Take a course or something?” the doctor said as she slipped her pen back into her breast pocket.
“Yes, mam,” Legolas replied, but he could not help but feel like “good” was the least accurate description of his actions that night.
The doctor gave him a pat on the shoulder before exiting, the nurse at her heels. Legolas sat in the chair at Gimli's bedside and laid his forehead on his knees. He would stay until this Kíli or other family of Gimli’s arrived. Or until Gimli himself woke up. Legolas would prefer if Gimli were the one to wake up so he wouldn't have to explain things to anyone else. Still, he needed to make amends somehow.
Tentatively he reached out and laid a hand over the other man’s. “I'm don't know how to apologize enough, Gimli,” he said with a deep sigh. “This is all my fault. I should've just let my father make the arrangements. But I wanted to desperately to prove that I could do it on my own.”
Legolas stared at the man’s sleeping face. Gimli's expression was serene as he drew deep breaths.
“Please wake up. Please wake up and be okay.”
Legolas was startled from watching over Gimli by a familiar voice.
“Thank the Valar, you're alright!” exclaimed Tauriel as she entered the room and threw her arms around Legolas.
It genuinely scared him and he jumped in her arms.
“Tauriel! What are you doing here?” he asked, then quickly added, “My father isn't with you, is he?”
She smiled. “No, he stayed to continue the conference. He wanted to come, of course, but you know how your father is about public image.”
Legolas nodded with a half laugh. He knew all too well.
“Legolas,” she said, suddenly serious, “he was shaken to think that you were injured. Even though your message said you weren't, he was clearly picturing the worst. As was I, honestly. I am relieved to see that you aren't.”
Legolas glanced back to Gimli. “It was my fault, Tauriel. I was trying to make up time on the road.”
For the first time she seemed to really look over at Gimli. “How bad is he?” she asked.
Legolas shook his head. “The doctor thinks it's a concussion. But they are waiting on some results before they know for sure.”
“Well, you've already spoken to the insurance company about everything, right? Why don't we get you back to the hotel so you can try and put some of the trauma of this night behind you. I am sure they've reached his family and they will be coming soon,” said Tauriel laying a hand on his shoulder.
“No,” he said simply.
“I know you think you're doing the right thing here, Legolas, but you've done all you can do to help. You're just going to sit here, beating yourself up, and getting more and more depressed. We can ask to be contacted when he wakes up. Let's go back to the hotel and wait. You look like you haven't eaten or slept in days.”
Legolas didn't know when he had last eaten, but he felt no hunger. “I am not leaving him.”
“Legolas, you don't need to be stubborn about this. There's nothing you can do--”
“I won't leave!” he cried, standing up.
Tauriel took a step back.
“I am staying until he wakes up or his family tells me to leave.”
Tauriel said nothing and took a seat by the bed.
Legolas sat back down, turning his attention back to Gimli, who had not stirred.
“Will you at least go get yourself something to eat? I will watch over him until you get back,” said Tauriel in a small voice, not looking at him, her own attention on Gimli.
Feeling a little guilty for yelling at her, he nodded and left without a word.