|His First Night
Author: TheSingingGirl PM
Picks up after s3ep11. "So. Where do you want me to sleep?"Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Angst/Friendship - Guy of Gisborne & Robin Hood - Words: 4,360 - Reviews: 13 - Favs: 28 - Follows: 2 - Published: 07-14-09 - Status: Complete - id: 5217080
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
A/N: Companion piece to 'Her First Night', this picks up immediately after s3ep11 'The Enemy of My Enemy' and details Guy's first night in the camp.
"So. Where do you want me to sleep?"
The outlaws turned as one to look at Gisborne as if seeing him for the first time. They had been so preoccupied with the larger ethics and emotions surrounding Guy's unexpected joining the gang that none of them had stopped to think about the smaller practicalities that this would involve.
For his part, Guy felt unreasonably nervous. He felt, for the first time, as if he were of a lower rank than they: unwashed, law-breaking outlaws. Now he saw that in the unofficial hierarchy of fugitives from the law, Robin Hood's gang was royalty. In their hierarchy, he was no better than the lowest of peasants. That thought alone unsettled him. Then he knew that every person who now stared at him had a good reason to want him dead. He could probably hold any of them in a duel, but if it became even two against one, he was a dead man. And he was asking them where he was to sleep, in the midst of them, vulnerable and defenceless. He could only hope that their famed honour would prevent that eventuality.
But for now, there was a more immediate conundrum to be solved than life or death, and one that was more complex than it originally seemed. It was Robin who first realised the predicament they were facing when Guy voiced his question.
"You can have my bed," he said quickly.
"What?" said Much.
"But we've got a spare!" Kate protested.
John was the next to cotton on. "That bed, he should not use."
"Why?" Guy asked.
The bed in question seemed to be the one at the edge of the camp, obviously disused and currently serving as a storing area. To Guy, it seemed as nondescript as a spare bed could be, and yet...
Then Allan worked it out.
"Not being funny, but I bet Robin'd prefer to be in that bed himself."
Much's eyes widened in comprehension and he made a little 'oh' sound, but decided not to comment, instead turning to watch his old master with careful, curious eyes. Only Tuck and Kate remained oblivious.
"What's wrong with the spare bed?" Kate asked.
"Who last slept in it?" asked Tuck.
There was a brief pause as everyone waited for everyone else to answer. When no one did, it was Allan who began to explain in a roundabout fashion.
"Well, when Will first built the camp, it was my bed," he explained. "But then I – well, I got kicked out, didn't I? So—"
"Marian slept there," Robin continued in a low voice. "When you thought she was in a convent, she was here. But I expect you worked that out."
"When I came back," Allan carried on, "Will and Djaq had gone. So I took Will's bed."
Tuck, watching carefully, understood. "When I arrived, none of the beds was big enough for me, so we made a new one." He gestured to his larger bunk.
"And Allan told me mine used to be Djaq's bed," Kate said softly in realisation.
"So Marian was the last person to sleep there," Guy finished.
For a moment, silence reigned as a well-loved ghost made a fleeting appearance. Two men closed their eyes as they felt her presence. And then Guy made his way to the spare bed.
"Are you sure?" Robin asked, with no more volume than the rustling leaves.
Guy merely looked at him with ice cold eyes. He heard the reluctance, and he heard the compassion, and he defied both.
"But—" Much spluttered.
"Leave it," Robin ruled.
"But you even wanted—"
"I was offering for his sake," said Robin. "Not mine."
Guy was not sure how much of this statement was truth. Immediately, he thought it was entirely false, and yet there was something in his eyes...
"What?" asked Kate flatly.
"He loved her too," Robin shrugged.
Tuck nodded, Much turned away in disgust, Allan and John studiously ignored them; but Kate turned to Robin with a mind to ask him what on earth he was thinking.
"Please don't," Robin said before she even began. "Not tonight."
She could see how this was wearying him, so she didn't. She bit her lip and nodded once, then stood and moved to her own bed, not haunted in the least by its previous owner. Guy followed suit, turning away from the others and walling out the memories as best he could.
Marian's—Guy's bed was not exactly a shrine to its deceased occupant. It was not scrupulously neat and neither had it been left exactly as it was on the day she had left it. That would have been a ridiculous notion, seeing as Marian had been alive and well when she gave it up. Instead, it was half-buried in all the various articles that littered the camp, including some carpentry tools which no longer had a home under Will's bed, a handful of jewels from the last raid that had taken place, a bowl which had escaped Much's kitchen and a large pile of feathers destined for fletching. Unwilling to ask where these articles should be moved to, Guy dumped them unceremoniously on the floor. No one attempted to return them to their correct places; they had all retired to their own buns and, by the time Guy's bed was clear, they were in varying degrees of sleep.
Much seemed dead to the world, though thanks to the thundering snores escaping his throat, there was no question of exactly how alive he was. Allan was also totally unconscious, though a lot more silently so; sly even in his sleep. John was utterly still, but Guy was not certain that the large man was truly asleep. Tuck not asleep at all, but praying. How long must his confessions take, how many times had the monk broken the commandment 'thou shalt not kill'? Probably never, Guy remembered. Robin Hood did not kill if at all possible, Brother Tuck probably did not kill at all. Kate was ling in her bunk, but far from sleep. She kept rolling onto one side to cast a suspicious eye at the camp's newest addition, and then rolling back to the other side to try and doze off. Robin was curled up like a child with eyes closed and his breathing slowed, but Guy couldn't shake the notion that his newfound almost-brother was only acting. The question was why.
Was Robin planning to murder Guy in his sleep? Somehow, that seemed unlikely. For all that Gisborne had advertised the evil that was Robin Hood, he could not deny knowing how the man viewed himself: honourable. Murdering a man in his life didn't seem his style. Moreover, Hood had been the most accepting of him so far. It didn't make sense to Guy's more logical mind, but the younger man seemed almost forgiving of him, perhaps due to some romantic notions of brotherhood. No, Robin would not be trying to kill him. Not tonight, anyway.
Perhaps he was setting an example to his gang? Proving that he trusted Gisborne enough to sleep in his presence? Maybe, but that was a little pretentious, even for Hood. Then he must be deceiving them purely to convince them that he was asleep. Or... he could be deceiving himself. Trying to convince himself that he would sleep tonight.
Guy kicked his boots off and got into bed himself. He lay awkwardly on his back with a blanket draped over his legs and stomach, but leaving his chest and arms free to defend himself if needs be.
The sun vanished entirely behind the horizon. The fire died down to cinders. Clouds drifted across the skies, blocking different clusters of wakeful stars. The moon floated lazily in an almighty arc above the forest.
Guy of Gisborne did not sleep.
At first he was nervous about being the victim of a potential homicide, but as even Kate settled into slumber, he stopped worrying. Then he was plagued by thoughts of why on earth he was fraternising with Robin Hood, shared brother or not, and whether he had lost the last vestiges of his dignity just by being there. Still, he soon managed to convince himself that nothing mattered but getting vengeance on Isabella, and siding with Hood was merely the best way of achieving that goal.
Then, and only then, did Marian come back to haunt him.
It was more often than not that Marian visited him in his nightmares. Not just her death, but every slight she had ever shown him, always with the last words he had heard from her lips. I love Robin Hood. And then there was every smile she had bestowed on him, every kiss he had gleaned from her, always with a sword stabbing the blissful memories, always knowing she never meant any of it. And then there was the moment her glorious torment was ended forever.
He hadn't meant to kill her. Yes, he knew he had a sword in his hand, and yes, he wanted to hurt her, but he never meant for her to die. It had been instinctive: if someone wounds you, you wound them back.
He still saw her face. The small smile, naive and lovestruck, that was not for him. The pupils growing like pools of spilt ink, despite the blinding light. The sore, dry lips parted in an unmoving gasp. The love, the realisation, the fear, the detachment of one who knows they don't belong to this world anymore. All of this and more he saw in her face as he held her close, pinned by his sword. He had her. He held her.
He let her fall.
But it was not of Marian's death that he thought now. Despite his unspoken assurance that using Marian's bed would not affect him, he found himself wondering about the time she had spent here while he believed her in mourning at St Kirklees Abbey. Had she been happy, sleeping out here in the forest? Had she been actively working with the gang to hinder him? And what had happened on this very bed? Had Robin comforted her over her father's death here? Had they sat together and talked, cried, laughed? How many times had she and Robin kissed where he was now lying?
Suddenly he could stand it no longer. He stood and stalked out of the camp, making his way to the top of the valley it was nestled in. He was loath to go too far and risk the gang assuming he had run off to betray them to someone, so he made sure he was in full view of the sleeping figures if they should care to glance upwards. Then he dropped his head into his hands and groaned softly.
"I wondered when you'd give up. You're a stubborn man, Gisborne."
Guy was standing and had whirled around before the second sentence was begun, but Robin held his hands up.
"I'm a light sleeper."
"You weren't asleep at all," Guy accused him.
Robin sighed. "No. I don't sleep that much."
The younger man walked to the edge of the crag and sat, his legs dangling over the edge. After a minute or so, Guy did the same, leaving a sword's length between them.
Neither knew how long they sat like that, slumped with exhaustion and time-dulled grief. Finally, Robin spoke.
"You know, I never really believed you loved her," he said, as though they were in the midst of a perfectly normal conversation, perhaps concerning the weather. "I thought you just wanted her because she was engaged to me. Anything of mine..."
"I didn't think you loved her," Guy said in his normal, blunt fashion. "You left her."
"And that's why you hated me," Robin surmised. "Well, that and the whole thieving rogue persona. But that's why I hated you: because you were wooing her and I thought you didn't love her." He paused. "We could've been each other so easily."
"No, we couldn't," Guy said flatly, but Robin was speaking over him.
"Oh, come on. If you'd been Lord of Gisborne with Locksley swallowed into it, rather than the other way round, and maybe if we'd been born into each other's families..."
"But we weren't."
"No," he said, but he said it thoughtfully, still considering the possibility. And even though Guy was certain that nothing could have stopped him on this path to destruction, he couldn't help but wonder.
If it were Robin's father who was the leper, Guy's who was well-respected by the community, would Guy have inherited Locksley and Gisborne, aged fifteen to Robin's nine? Would he and Isabella never have been parted for money, then leading to her bitter desire for revenge on her brother? Would he, tragic orphan of beloved, healthy parents, have enamoured Marian when they were both young and innocent? And then, crucially, would he have left her? With Isabella and Marian fighting to stop him, he didn't think so. He would have stayed, married his love and ruled over his peasants with the fair and generous hand that Robin was famed for, because he would have felt no need to strike back at the governing bodies of the country that had exiled him without ever lifting a finger. And more: he would have been there to look after his wife's father, helped him keep his job as Sheriff. Vaisey would never have begun his reign of fear and extortion over Nottingham. The world would have been a far better place. And if a small voice asked what would have become of Robin, exiled to a foreign country with not even a baby sister for company, only a child himself, he soon quashed it.
Put that way, it seemed as though everything hinged on Isabella. Apt, as his life had revolved around her. The money he had received from Squire Thornton upon her marriage had made him, tipping the balance so he had become a man of standing once more, allowing him to come home to Nottinghamshire. Now, it had been she who had broken him.
"How did you do it?" Robin asked in a deathly murmur. Evidently his mind had been following a different trail to Guy's.
"Do what?" Guy said harshly. Of course he knew to what the question was referring, but he hoped that Robin would not be able to give voice to the query, and he would be spared from answering.
Unfortunately, his hopes were in vain. Robin looked evenly at him. "How did you manage to kill Marian, the woman you professed to love?"
Some combination of the sleep deprivation, of the night of mental agony, of the calm expression on Robin's face and the velvet shadows that prevented Guy seeing whatever emotion lurked in the other man's eyes; all of this played a role in actually letting Guy answer, and answer truthfully.
"You weren't there, you didn't hear. The King was right there, I was going to kill him, and she leapt in front. I stopped. And then I tried to get past her."
"You didn't mean her harm," Robin translated.
"Of course not. I was going to marry her when we got home."
Robin raised an eyebrow. "She wasn't aware of this?"
"No," he said honestly. "But it was that or have her hanged."
"You could have let her go," Robin suggested.
Guy shot him a fierce look. "Don't push my patience, Locksley."
"Sorry," said Robin, easily, carelessly. "So go on? You were trying to kill King Richard."
There was no trace of accusation in his tone of voice, but Guy still bristled. Nevertheless, he pressed on.
"She tried to stop me, naturally. Told me she wouldn't let me do it, as if she wasn't unarmed and weakened. I should have just pushed her out of the way then."
"But you didn't."
"I spoke to her. I remember, I told her that I would kill the King and we would be married."
Robin couldn't resist a tiny smile. "I wish I'd seen her face."
The following silence stretched into minutes as Guy wished he hadn't, before Robin prompted him, "And she said?"
Guy threw his head back and stared at the silver-grey canopy. No starlight filtered through the shrouded sky.
"She said she would rather die than marry me. She said she was going to marry you. She said she—"
He couldn't finish.
"She loved me," Robin finished for him, but it was closer to a statement than the guess it should have been. "So you killed her."
"It wasn't like that!" Guy protested. "I just— I—" He broke off again, grinding his teeth in frustration. "She hurt me so many times, and I never struck back."
"No?" Robin said incredulously. "Burning down her home? Imprisoning her father?"
"And you would rather I imprisoned her, is that it?" Guy snarled. "When I found out she was the Night Watchman, you would rather I let her be hanged instead of hatching a plot that put me in considerable danger from the Sheriff?"
"Of course not!" Robin snapped, exasperated. "I just meant that you could hardly claim to never have done her harm!"
"I did as little as possible," he vowed. "I could have done so much more to her, but I never did."
"Why? Because you thought you still had a chance?"
"Because I loved her!"
"But the minute you knew for certain that she loved another, you killed her."
Guy hissed in irritation. "I was there to kill. I had a sword in my hand and the smell of blood in my nose; I was prepared for it. And then she was there, stopping me. And—I never meant to kill her."
Robin was staring, unseeing, down at the slumbering camp. "The sad thing is I believe you."
Robin's lips twisted into a smile that said nothing. "It was so much easier just to hate you."
There was no reply to that, so Guy didn't attempt one. An owl hooted dolefully somewhere near as the forest slowly lost its silver sheen and became green and brown once again.
"She didn't hate you," Robin said abruptly. "Despite everything. She was grateful to you for keeping her safe in the castle, where I could not. And I think she pitied you."
Where once this comment would have made Guy flare up, he accepted it. "She didn't love me, though."
"No," Robin admitted, "but you should have heard her on the morning before your wedding. She certainly convinced me that she was alright with it."
"Until she tried to rob me."
"Even after that. When she you had wounded her, and we had her out here in the forest, thinking she would die, I actually argued with her about you."
Guy chuckled half-heartedly. "Nice to know I made you jealous."
"Immeasurably," Robin added.
Something occurred belatedly to Guy: "Why do you call her your wife? She said she was going to marry you."
Robin's face softened. "We married as she lay dying, your sword still in her belly. The King gave us one of his rings. We didn't have a priest, or the Latin ceremony, but we recited the vows to each other. That was enough for me."
The first ray of orange sunlight fought its way through the trees and struck a patch of grass between the two not-quite-enemies. Robin shifted his hand into the glowing spot to feel its warmth and see the unearthly light play over his skin.
Guy remained in the shadows.
"Explain something for me," he said.
"What?" Robin asked guardedly, looking up.
In answer, Guy merely looked down at a blonde head lying still after her restless beginning to this most unusual night.
"Kate," Robin stated.
Robin sighed. "She loves me. And I... I care for her. Enough that I will give her whatever's left of me."
Thoughtfully, Guy nodded. He could empathise with that, he thought, remembering Meg. "And what about Isabella?"
"You know what?" Robin asked rhetorically. "I don't know. I don't know why I went to her, and I certainly don't know why Much or John didn't stop me. I suppose... she helped me forget. I first knew her before I ever knew Marian existed. And then she was a way of getting back at you. And I've got to hand it to your sister, Gisborne, she can be witty and charming and brilliant company. I did like her for herself, but it was never enough. Not for me, and certainly not for her."
"I should probably fight you for my sister's honour," Guy said lazily.
Robin stared. "Why, Gisborne, did you just make a joke?"
"Believe it or not, I have laughed in my lifetime."
"I must admit, I do find that hard to believe."
And for the first time since they were tiny children, they both laughed. Together. It only lasted perhaps a second, but it happened.
A groan broke the moment, but it came from neither of them. Much, well-used to waking at dawn, was stirring. A few metres above him, the two men watched as he noted Robin's empty bed and ignored it, then saw Guy's empty bed and panicked. Guy had half a mind to call out to him and let him know that no, he hadn't murdered his beloved master and friend, but Robin smiled mischievously and put a finger to his lips.
"You're such a child," Guy muttered.
"You're not the first person to tell me that," Robin murmured back.
Much ran over to Allan and shook him. "Allan! Allan!"
"Wha'?" came the groggy reply.
"Robin and Gisborne are gone!"
"Both of them! They've just disappeared!"
Allan yawned. "You don't think they've just gone for a walk?"
Much spluttered. "Robin and Gisborne?"
"They survived York, didn't they?"
"Guess Allan knows you quite well," Robin observed.
Guy felt slightly touched that Allan had faith in him to this small degree, but Kate had now awoken.
"What's going on?" she asked, swinging her legs down from her bunk. She saw the empty bed by hers. "Where's Robin?"
"Gone!" Much cried. "And so's Gisborne!"
"What?!" she half-shrieked.
Tuck jerked awake, as did John, but Kate was already a whirl of activity, grabbing her half-sword and buckling its sheath round her waist, attempting to pull on her boots at the same time.
"Kate!" Tuck said. "What's wrong?"
"Gisborne's disappeared, and he's got Robin!"
"Really?" Robin muttered, offended.
"What?" thundered John.
This was Tuck, who had made his way to one of the abandoned beds, and was no holding up Guy's sword.
"Why would he have left without his sword?"
"I don't know!" Kate snapped. "So we wouldn't suspect anything?"
"Or maybe," Robin said loudly," it was because we're just here, enjoying a little chat."
Every head snapped up. John's face was exasperated, Allan's smiling slightly, Tuck's assured and proud, Much's purely relieved and Kate's suspicious and mistrusting.
"Are you alright?" she called up.
"Of course," Robin said, as though there were no other possible option. "We're just coming down."
He jumped to his feet and offered a hand to Guy, who considered ignoring it but realised that this was the best way to gain the gang's trust. He grabbed Robin's hand, and accepted his help.
"You know, I still don't like you," Guy said as they made their way back down the slope.
"Good," Robin retorted lightly. "I don't like you either. But I don't hate you anymore. In fact," he said, drawing to a halt just out of sight of the others, "I've got a proposition for you."
"I'm not joining your gang," Guy said, anticipating his words.
Robin visibly deflated. "It's got to be better than going around on your own. No purpose, no shelter, no company. And since you're here, doesn't that make you technically part of the gang anyway?"
"I'm only here until Isabella is deposed. And do you honestly think the people of, say, Locksley will welcome me as a beneficiary?" Guy asked sceptically. "I, for one, don't."
"Three days ago, did you honestly think you could spend half the night talking to me without once trying to kill me? No, I didn't think so either." When Guy was not forthcoming with an answer, he smiled. "Just think on it, alright?"
He entered the camp, Guy a couple of steps behind him, and was immediately accosted by a flying tangle of dainty limbs and blonde hair.
"Don't do that again!" she ordered.
Tuck shook his head indulgently behind her as Robin began to protest his innocence, now staving off both Much and Kate. Allan rolled his eyes, still stretched out lazily on his bed, though when he caught Guy's gaze, he looked away.
Well. Rome wasn't built in a day, and it would take far longer than that to build up the trust of the outlaws. But Guy felt strangely comfortable after his first night in camp, strangely accepted, and closer to Robin than he would previously have thought possible, not that he would voice that thought aloud.
Yes. His first night was definitely a new beginning for him. Even if it was the beginning of the end.