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When Worlds Collide
by Hapira Brandybuck

Chapter Two: The Search Begins

Joanie sat on the train as it made its way toward the library. She lived on the far west side of the city and she didn't have a car so this was her only mode of transportation. As the rain pulled in, she saw that the platform was unusually crowded.

They heard the scream of the train's brakes. They covered their ears as it came to a halt. People got off and went on it.

Joanie got off the train and stood at thebottom of the stairs, waiting for a break in the crowd. Something glinted in the corner. She walked toward it.

Aragorn swallowed heavily. They had been spotted by a girl that looked in her teens. He looked down and saw that the hilt of his sword caught the sunlight coming in from the street. He moved it back and she stopped.

Merry sneezed. All the others looked at him.

Joanie heard a small sneezing sound. She cautiously approached the corner and shined her penlight into the darkness. It lit up a small round face.She screamed and so did the face. She dropped the light and she shakily picked it up. "Who-who's there?"

A tall figure came out of the dark. She stepped back as he stepped forward. The platform was empty except for them. "My name is Aragorn," the figure said.

"Aragorn? No, it can't be," Joanie said.

"Why is that?"

"You aren't real, you're a character in a book." She opened her backpck and pulled out the book. Meanwhile, the hobbits crept out.

She handed the book to Aragorn and her gaze landed on the hobbits. "You are...."

"My name is Merry Brandybuck, this is my cousin Pippin Took and this is-"

"Frodo Baggins," Joanie finished for him.

Aragorn cast her a suspicious glance. He handed the book back to her. "Since you have this, you pretty much know our journey. How did you happen upon this book?"

"I didn't just find it, it's a widely successful book series. It's a best seller and they've even made a movie out of it.How y'all got here I have no idea."

"We were running from the Balrog and we were pushed into the abyss."

"No, that's not right. Y'all were supposed to make it across but Gandalf.... didn't." She saw the looks on the faces of the visitors. "Where's Legolas, Gimli, Boromir, Sam, and Gandalf?"

Frodo's face saddned. "We haven't found them yet," Pippin answered for him. "Frodo's worried about Sam."

Joanie crouched to Frodo's level. She lifted his drooped head with a finger. "He'll be fine as long as we find him as soon as possible. Buck up and we'll find all of them. I know what y'all have been through so far and I know what's coming as well. You'll need as much inner strength that as you can muster."

"Where do we start?" Frodo said confidently.

"Atta boy!" she smiled at him and patted him on the shoulder. She stood up and gathered her bag. "My parents don't get home until late because they work double shifts. Y'all can crash at my place."

They waitied for the next train and they found an empty car. Joanie jammed the doors shut and garnered odd looks from the visitors. "The less people that see you the better." Was her explanation.

"So where will we start our search?" frodo asked eagerly. Joanie could tell that Frodo was anxious to find his best friend.

"Honestly, I don't know." She saw all of their faces fall, even Aragorn's. "If they even are in the city, Chicago is a big city. Probably about the size of the Shire. What kind of things would catch his eye or distract him?"

"Gardens!" Pippin piped in. the others nodded.

"Grant Park! There's a forest there too so we may find Legolas there too."

Legolas looked around. He was in a tree and there was a robin flitting around by his hand. He looked down and saw a couple having a romantic picnic by the tree. He smiled and then looked around to get a better look at his surroundings. He climbed higher in the tree silently so as to not dusturb the couple. He peeked up and looked around. He was in a forest and there was music coming from an unknown place. 'Sounds like one of the hobbit-songs,' he thought. 'Speaking of hobbits....' He spotted Sam coming around on the grass. "Sam!" he called. Sam looked up and saw the smiling elf face.

"Aren't you a sight for sore eyes!" Sam said. Legolas jumped out of the tree and landed smoothly in front of him. For some reson Sam hadn't gotten up yet.

Legolas offered his hand to help him up and when Sam stood, his left leg gave out and he let out a scream. Legolas looked at it and saw that it was broken. "Aw, Sam, you've gone and broken your leg. Don't move, I will be back." The elf ran off.

Joanie, Aragorn and the hobbits got off the train at the stop nearest Grant Park and they split up and scoured the area.

"Legolas!" Aragorn called. Legolas's keen hearing picked up his call from across the park and her ran swiftly to him.

"Aragorn!" he yelled when the man came into sight. The two met with a hug, grateful to see each other. "Come with me! Sam's hurt!" Legolas said with alarm. They ran to where the elf had left Sam.

Aragorn knelt next to the hobbit that lay in pain. Joanie saw them and ran up. "What happened?" she asked.

"He broke his leg," Legolas answered.

Aragorn went to say something but Joanie cut him off. "I've got something for the pain," Joanie dug back into her backpack and pulled out a bottle of aspirin. She jammed one of the pills down Sam's throat He almost choked on it but he swallowed it. "We need to put a splint on it...." that would be the first time she spotted Legolas. 'Oh my god.....' her eyes lingered on him until she recollected her thoughts. "I need two arrows..."

Legolas reached behind him and pulled them out as swift as a wink. She took off the arrowheads and handed them back to the elf. She put one along the top of his leg and the other underneath. She pulled a pair of soccer socks out of her backpacke and used them to tie it in place. "This'll do for now but my dad will make a castwhen he gets home. He's a doctor." she explained. "It'll have to be popped back in place too. I would do it but I have a little more faith in my dad's abilities than my own."

"Sam!" Frodo said happily as he ran up to them. He gave his best friend a big hug. "You're alright!"

After everyone had a chance to be reunited and rest a bit, Joanie decided that it was time to move on. Sam was propped on Frodo and Merryís shoulders and they went to the sidewalk. Now that the majority of the Fellowship was reunited, the attitude was much more lighthearted than it had been.

Joanie went into a gas station store. She bought a map of Chicago and marked it in the store.. "Aragorn, Legolas, come here," she beckoned with a finger a few feet from the others. "Here is a map of Chicago. I marked your path in black. I will go with Sam in a cab to my house. Stick to the path and youíll be fine. Itís somewhat the long way around but thatís the best path I could think of in matters of not being seen. Any questions?"

"How will we know when weíve arrived?" Legolas asked.

"You see that flag?" She pointed to the American flag flying atop a pole. "Thatís the flag of my country. You will see that hanging in the front window. The house is blue and there is a little dog on a cahin in the front yard. If you see that house but the flag is not in the window, that means Iím not there yet. Jump over the fence and up a tree you will find my little sisterís clubhouse. Itís about the size of a hobbitís entryway. Inside youíll see a big stick. Toss that on the ground at the bottom of the tree and thatís how Iíll know youíre there, okay?"

"Let us get on our way then," Aragorn stated.

"Good luck and Iíll see you soon," Joanie said to them looking pointedly at Legolas.

She hailed a cab and helped Sam inside. "1132 N Madison please," she told the cabbie.

The vehicle sped away and the others continued along.

When she arrived, she did not see the stick in the yard so she went in the house and put up the flag. With a small salute, she turned from the window and went over to Sam. "How you feeling little buddy?"

"My leg doesnít hurt quite as much anymore." He said from where Joanie had laid him on the couch.

"That pill I gave you is an aspirin. Itís for general pain relief. Seeing as hobbits are different from humansI donít know what kind of side effects it may have on you but I donít think that it will be too severe. If you feel sick or anything let me know, alright?"

"Alright," Sam said. "I donít believe Iíve caught your name."

"Sorry, Iím Joanie Woodriver," sher said shaking Samís hand.

Twenty minutes later, the others arrived. "What took you so long?"

"We got lost," Legolas explained while he glared at Aragorn.

"It was not my fault. The hobbits wanted to get some vegetables from an elderly womanís garden," Aragorn explained.

Joanie giggled. "Itís okay. Find a seat, make yourselves comfortable. Iíll get some food and something to drink for all of you."

Joanie opened the refridgerator. "Shit! Mom didnít go shopping." She thought for a moment and then grabbed the phone. "Hello? Pizza Hut?Ö.."

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