by Azhiaz*

The damn frogs just would not shut up.

Mark sat in the canvas folding chair, uncomfortable in the unwieldy Elven armor, slouching as much as the stiff plastic would allow. The rain had finally let up to the point that shooting would resume shortly, but the mist hung damp and heavy over everything, coating skin, metal, and fabric alike with beading wetness.

The frogs, naturally, loved that.

Mark, however, hated frogs.

He sat, trying to think about the audition he had coming up for a touring production of Oedipus Rex, and failed miserably. The screeeee-screeeee of the frogs was maddening, undercutting his thoughts like nails on chalkboard.

As if that irritation wasn't bad enough, an extremely large frog took the present opportunity to vault from the tree overhead into Mark's lap with a wet green plop.

"Aaaaaaa!!!" Mark yelled as he jumped up, flailing his arms frantically and overturning the chair. The frog hopped off in a huff and Mark suddenly found a hundred or so sets of eyes turned to him in amusement. One set seemed particularly amused. Craig.

"Scared of frogs?" Craig asked as he strolled over, a very un-Haldir like grin splitting his face.

Mark scowled. "No, you poncy git," he replied, "Little bugger just…surprised me, 's all."

"Ah. Okay." Craig didn't sound terribly convinced. Mark knew he'd been set to film a Lorien scene shortly, and he figured Craig had come over in the meantime to annoy him, as usual.

Mark bent over and picked the chair up, red burn crawling up his cheeks. He sat back down with as much dignity as he could muster. The snickers faded out and the crew turned their attention back to other matters. Except Craig, of course. Craig pulled up another chair and sat down.

"You know," Craig began, "frogs aren't anything to be afraid of."

Mark shot him a frosty look. "I said I wasn't afraid of them."

Craig chuckled. "If you say so. They're really interesting creatures. I've actually just ordered some whistling frogs for my garden."

Mark's eyebrows shot up in surprise. "You garden?"

"Yeah. I'm actually putting in a tropical garden behind my house now. The Birds of Paradise are particularly lovely. Do you garden?"

Mumbled response. "Um, yeah…a bit." Could this day get any stranger than discussing gardening with Craig? Mark thought. Next we'll be swapping jam recipes.

Thunder suddenly rumbled, low and ominous, in the distance. Mark shifted uncomfortably in his chair. Craig's gaze remained fixed on him, and Mark found himself noticing for the first time that those eyes were really very, well…blue. Disconcerting. He opened his mouth, not certain what to say next, when Craig threw his arms wide and burst into song.

"It's not easy bein' green. It seems you blend in with so many other ordinary things. And people tend to pass you over 'cause you're not standing out like flashy sparkles in the water- or stars in the sky…"

Mark didn't know what to do, short of gawping, mouth open in what was actually a very froglike expression. His jaw snapped shut when Craig got out of the chair and got down on his knees in front of him, clutching his chest with minstrel-ish flair as he continued. "But green's the color of Spring. And green can be cool and friendly-like. And green can be big like an ocean, or important like a mountain, or tall like a tree…"

Oh shit. All eyes on him again, twittering giggles spreading like wildfire. Mark sank down further into the chair, wishing fervently for a convenient sinkhole to appear and swallow him up.

No such luck. By this time, a couple of grips had come over and joined in the impromptu chorale. Surrounding him. Serenading him.

"When green is all there is to be It could make you wonder why, but why wonder why? Wonder, I am green and it'll do fine, it's beautiful! And I think it's what I want to beeeee…"

Damn, but he hated frogs. The note trailed off into the chill air, hanging briefly before the crowd burst into applause. Enough of this, Mark thought, and he started to stand up when Craig grabbed his face with both hands - enormous hands popped unbidden to mind - and planted a kiss squarely on his lips.

Very squarely.

Craig's lips were soft, surprisingly soft, and Mark closed his eyes automatically for a second before snapping them back open. Oh. Craig opened his eyes as well, blue looking into blue, merriment twinkling naughtily.

Before Mark could say anything Craig stood up and grinned at the assorted catcalls. He whistled back over his shoulder at a laughing Hugo and walked off humming a froggish sort of tune. Then the rain started again in earnest, and Mark blessedly managed to escape to the relative safety of his nice, amphibian-free trailer.

Later that night, sitting curled up on his ratty tan sofa, Mark heard a soft rap at the door. He stood up, frowning- he wasn't expecting anyone. When he opened the door, he didn't see anyone. The short gravel drive was empty. He was just about to close the door again when he looked down at the steps. The little stuffed Kermit looked up at him with a familiar twinkle in his eye.

Mark decided then that maybe, just maybe, frogs weren't so bad after all.


*Back up fic