“Calhoun, you can’t be serious? That…little guy from the bootleg arcade console? Really?”
“What of it?”
“No! Please share with the class! It’s because he’s small isn’t it?”
Calhoun’s voice has jumped to a flamboyant pitch to mortify the smothered whisper of her drinking mate.
“Not…entirely. His console is a rip-off! There I said it.”
The other residents of Tappers choke and watch cautiously from the sidelines. Only the quiet undertones of character themes bop in the pregnant pause. Gone is the playful spite of her previous words now they are dull knives warning with pointy side facing him.
“Tread carefully, soldier.”
“I’m sorry, Y/N, but I just tell it like it is. I mean, games like ours take years to make the right way! Hard work and…money! His got spit out by some two-bit coder in his mother’s basement!”
“Right way? Listen up, bub. Burglar Bilbo may have a shitty layout game but he goes to work every morning with his shoulders drawn back with pride and a grin on his face. It’s more than a just a living for him, he lives to make his game the best he can for his players. There is a dime to a dozen heroes that have incredible games that treat those same games as a chore. Bilbo enjoys it. That’s the way it is. Period.”
Calhoun swigs the root beer in her Tappers *copyright* mug. She is gripping the tabletop trying to reign her distraught feelings in, but it’s becoming difficult with the molten anger bubbling behind it.
“I get it! I get it! No offense to the guy, he’s doing the best he can with what he’s got. I respect that. But I’m sorry. I don’t understand why his game is so popular. What about us? You know…It’s just a slap in the face. There’s…you know! …There is branding and investments in games like ours. There’s was no effort that 8-bit…money grab.”
Calhoun stands ready and her stool clatters to the floor behind her. Her drinking buddy flinches expecting a punch having let his words get away with him. Majority opinion supplies that kind of assurance. She stands there, the leather in her gloves squeaking as her grip continues to tighten. A couple of other characters take damage points as they stumble into the floor and some even hide behind the countertops.
“Look at you! Mr. Majority has finally found his balls! Well, whoop de doo! And I’m sure the rest of em will pat your back and tell you how right you are! A real brave guy, standing up to Calhoun! Telling it like it is! Ain’t that a bite in my keister?”
The soldier doesn’t answer but his head is hung and his glass is being clamped by two sweaty hands to his lap. The rest of Tappers is uncharacteristically silent as well, many of them busying themselves. A few of them are even blushing into their mugs.
“I expect an upstanding hero from a big budget game likes ours to be the first in line come tomorrow when the arcade opens. Understood?”
“Oh, yeah? Yeah, what?”
Calhoun plants herself in front of her soldier leaning down to glare into his face. The soldier squirms in his seat, any bits of his courage fleeing from him.
Calhoun measures her every step from Tappers. Once away from the dangers of eyes she lets loose her distress. The train wobbles under her ferocity as she marches aboard the circuit. She glares at the wiring the entire ride, contemplating warring opinions of total strangers. All the while trying to cook up some dismissal that will satisfy her little man when he inevitably senses how shaken she is. But she knows that it’s a fight she’ll never win. Her coded military temper could never suppress a concerned Bilbo, even when she’s at her most intolerable trying to order the concern out of him. And she loves him for that more than she can possibly say. That thought leads her down another long contemplation of thoughts and she’s once again staring down the wiring with a stony scowl.
Everyone steers clear of her in Game Central Station. But she does see them out of her trained peripheral. A stone settles in her belly each time she sees them scuttle away and whisper. But Bilbo is waiting for her in their bed and that thought alone has her nearly running to Burgle Bilbo Baggins’s circuit train.
Burgle Bilbo Baggins is an infamous platformer, having earned itself a place on many gamers top ten worst games of all time lists due to it’s bootlegged platform design, rushed gameplay features, and glitches. The object of this game is to steal back Bag End and it’s treasure from the troll Thieving Tom with the powers of Burglar Bilbo’s magic ring. It’s existence an obvious cash in on Tolkien’s novels it was placed on the shelves and nearly forgotten for years until it was rediscovered in the 2000’s. Despite everything, it’s somehow gained popularity for its originality and hilarious gameplay that comes from its various glitches and designs.
Calhoun stamps through the game: resembling a march on Munchkinland with intent to destroy. Hobbit Holes line the hills that sit aside the winding paths towards Bag End, all of them blindingly bright colors and silly circular designs. Calhoun remembers the first time she set foot in this place she felt sickened at how happy and sunny everything looked. Like a beautiful painting stuffed through a playdoh factory set and spit out into a game design. But Calhoun has learned to find the comedy in it, just as she sees Bilbo does.
As she follows the dizzying path, doors to empty unlived Hobbit holes fly open and close of their own accord through brightly saturated pixel glitches. Squirrels and birds above her head bend and twist in on themselves gruesomely as they glitch through trees and hilltops. Tom, the lumbering vulgar troll with a heart of gold despite it all, sees her coming and waves.
“Sergeant! Lovely day, isn’t it? The squirrels glitching in the grass does wonders for my nasal- ”
“Stuff it, Thieving! I’m not in the mood!”
“Oy! Piss off then, sheesh.”
Bag End is the star of Hobbiton, an asymmetrical mountainous hill with a tree situated on top of it, just to tie the look together. In appearance, it almost resembles the shoe house from the old fable, randomly assembled circular windows situated every which way and manner; like a strange hill-hotel where every hobbit is cramped inside wherever room could be found. And in the very front is a giant green door, the only door that Calhoun doesn’t have to bend down to walk into. Nearly breaking down that door, she storms in. She ignores the startled looks–scowls from Lobelia and Otho Sackville–of the other occupants.
“Dear me, what is all this racket? You there, warrior woman! What do you think you’re doing?”
Calhoun curses beneath her breath but turns to Dora anyways. Speaking to Dora with the dignity and respect she would owe to any commanding officer.
“I’m sorry If I disrupted you, Dora. I got carried away.”
“Aunt Dora, dear. You should be sorry. If Bilbo is to have you to wife, he ought to be teaching you manners! I suppose Bilbo cannot be bothered to when I’m here to advise, after all?”
Calhoun almost feels better. Aunt Dora is a Navi character in the game: the relator of wisdom about gameplay features and missions. However, most, if not all of, her advice is utterly useless to the tasks of the game and she comes off as more of a comedic presence to the player than anything else. And yet Dora acts out the part of the titular character bearing the burden of keeping the game afloat on her shoulders alone, whether the arcade is open or not And as irritating as Calhoun finds her on a bad day, she easily laughs her head off on a good day. But it is a bad day and she finds the venom rising in her teeth nearly too much to withhold.
“Of course not, Dora. I forgot myself. It won’t happen again. But if you would excuse me, I’m terribly late.”
“Yes, go on. Go on. Be sure it doesn’t. And tell Bilbo that he ought to be eating up more, he can barely fill a waistcoat at the present time! No Baggins should wed looking like that! Dreadful!”
“I’ll be sure he does. Goodbye, Aunt Dora.”
In her newly stoked rage, she nearly kicks the door of the master bedroom off of its hinges.
“Honeysuckle! Oh, my End! What-”
“At ease soldier.”
“But dear heart, you’re upset.”
Calhoun grabs Bilbo’s face and brings it to her own and kisses him hard, nearly enough to forgo any tenderness and be straight up bruising. She reaches under him and scoops him into her arms. Bilbo hums with discontent.
“Buckle down, you’re about to be in for one crazy night. You ready?”
Bilbo lets out another high hmm this time in anticipation and trepidation in equal measure.
“Eh, no! No! No…eh, recreation until you tell me what has you so riled!”
Y/N climbs onto their bed–the master bedroom is completely of Bilbo’s own design, him having figured how to hack into the code of his game and tweak here and there–and folds her arms around him trapping him while she kisses and lightly bites at his ears and nose and neck.
“No can do. I need to blow off some steam. Sex now, talk later.”
“But, dear, I really uh, I mean, Y/N really! It’s not good for you to bottle-”
Later as they sit side by side in their bed, Calhoun rubbing her legs through the downy comforter, Bilbo turns to her and tries to broach the issue again.
“Are you ready to tell me what happened?”
“We had a compromise.”
Bilbo gives Y/N the stink eye and Y/N can’t help but smirk a bit at how sweet she thinks this man is. How grateful she is that she landed a man who meets her demands and overbearing attitude with patience and reason.
“Fine, I got a reputation to uphold. I was down at Tappers having a few drinks with Robert and things got messy. He said some things. I said some things. Things were said.”
“What kind of things?”
“Not nice things. Things that would get your butt shoved on the playground.”
“Fine, he was talking crap about your game. How it was cruddy because of its programming. So I told him off. End of story.”
Bilbo reaches over and traces down her back, tapping at the little string of bones leading from her shoulders and skimming his fingers into the cradle of her tailbone.
“My sweet…you shouldn’t waste the breath defending me. That’s very old gossip. It’s not worth all this.”
“It is worth every last drop of spit that flies when I open my mouth.”
“Drop it, Burglar.”
“Absolutely not! Not when it makes you so upset, though heaven knows why.”
“Why? WHY? Because I love you, idiot! I don’t have to have any other reason!”
Calhoun stands away from the bed. Her nails sinking into her thighs as she tries to take deep breaths. But she can’t. She is furious that Bilbo is taking this so well. But beneath that she’s in awe at his ability to be nobel in the face of something that makes her so impetuous. He’s more than she ever deserves and how dare those entitled viruses presume anything about this generous and loving man of hers. Her sweetheart. Against her programming, with as much baggage as it entails, he found it in himself to love her.
Bilbo climbs onto his knees and wraps his arms around her hips, laying gentle kisses across her flexing back.
“Hmm, I love you too. I still…can’t believe that I…landed you… You’re such a fabulous lass, I don’t deserve you.”
Calhoun wraps her arms around him and pulls him into her lap. They hold each other while she calms, running her hands through his hair while he skims her legs and sides.
“You deserve better.”
Bilbo laughs. He still can’t believe that her, this phenomenal soldier, this commanding and strong woman, would find him worth her time. Worth marrying. It’s beyond anything he could have ever dreamed of.
“Then it seems we’ve reached a stalemate, my dear.”
Calhoun laughs, finally finding some understanding, and she’s amazed as she always is by her Burglar. She pulls him down into the bed, and curls around him with the intent on falling asleep.
“I love you.”
“Love you to.”
A/N: Shout out to @middle-earth-imagines for the imagine that inspired this story. I hope all of you page turners enjoy this! That One Writer out!
Summary: In an AU where Ahsoka is the one to raise Leia, the two of them crash land on a primitive planet a year after the Empire forms. Bilbo Baggins is really confused about this strange wizard woman with swords of light.
Ahsoka’s head felt like it was overflowing, words in many different languages pounding at the edge of her mind. She needed some time spent alone to reorganize her mind with the new information the filthier Force sensitive had shoved into her head.
Unfortunately, there were numerous Dark beings approaching, many wargs and a few others, ones that she suspected were the masters Trip had spoken about. She would have to make time for mental organization later, once she had taken care of these threats.
Ahsoka didn’t want to hurt any of the wargs, not after befriending Trip and learning that they were Dark but not evil, but if they did turn out to be a threat to either herself or Leia then she would deal with them.
‘“My dear Frodo!’ exclaimed Gandalf. ‘Hobbits really are amazing creatures, as I have said before. You can learn all that there is to know about their ways in a month, and yet after a hundred years they can still surprise you at a pinch.”