This is a one-shot dedicated to my dearest friend, Emma. Upon reading chapter 28 of These Silent Words, she immediately shipped my Tuck/Valeria pairing. This one-shot is an alternate chapter, depicting how things could have been different between Tuck and Valeria.

This is my first one-shot in several months. Hope you love it, all :)

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Valeria left Guy standing there and found herself returning to the camp alone. She figured that he would most likely stay out there for quite awhile. If there was one thing he hated, it was for his emotions to be in disarray—especially in front of Robin Hood or the gang. Men and their damned pride, Valeria hissed under her breath as she reemerged into the small camp...

"Where is ol' Giz? Pouting?" Allan asked, once he was comfortably seated on the ground.

Valeria shrugged. "Something like that, I suppose. You know how he is, Allan. He'll come back when he's cool and collected, and can act as if nothing is bothering him when something really is."

Allan nodded, "That's Gisborne for ya."

Just then, Valeria felt a soft hand envelop her wrist and she turned around to see Tuck standing there behind her. "May I speak to you? Alone?" His voice was gentle, yet urgent. She frowned slightly but nodded. "Of course," she said in reply.

Tuck led her a little ways from the gang and folded his robed arms across his chest, looking at her quizzically, as if by just observing her the answers he was looking for would magically appear.

Finally growing tired of the silence, Valeria asked, "What is it?" She felt strangely uncomfortable under his stare. But this was Tuck. Surely, he could never make her feel uncomfortable.

Tuck spoke in his deep voice, "You are sure there is nothing bothering you?" Valeria nodded her head but could tell that Tuck was not going to just simply leave it at that. "He did not hurt you?"

She laughed bitterly. "Of course, he hurt me. Just with words, not brute strength."

"Valeria, what did he tell you?" Tuck may have asked, but she knew he was demanding to know.

She shrugged. "Just the usual. How he's sorry for what he did, that he did it to protect me, and somehow that wondrously makes his actions right, oh! And he was jealous, the stupid man!" She huffed as her anger began to return.

"Jealous?" He echoed incredulously, "Of whom could Gisborne possibly be jealous?"
"You," Valeria replied, "The stupid twit is jealous of you."

"But-" Tuck stammered, "Why?"

Valeria brushed a strand of hair away from her eyes and chuckled. "Because he seems to believe that you fancy me. Imagine that! He has become so crazed by his guilt and sorrow that he actually has willed himself to believe that a monk, of all people, fancies me! It is positively preposterous! As if you would ever develop feelings for me." She was laughing now, it was a mirthless laugh, it was frustrated, but she stopped when she noticed that Tuck was absolutely silent. Not only that, he looked incredibly serious, and perhaps even a bit nervous. Valeria's eyes widened. "Why are you looking at me like that?" But the man was silent. "Please don't tell me that Guy has cause for his jealousy!"

Tuck unfolded his arms and began to smooth down his gray robes. "I cannot deny what I feel, Valeria." The woman made a mental note that this was the first time she had ever seen the man even remotely nervous. He was looking straight at her, which was a good thing, but she could practically hear his voice dripping with worry. "Somehow, just by you being near, I have found myself developing some unforeseen attraction to you. I see the very same things that Gisborne must have fallen in love with, and I find myself drawn to you. I have prayed fervently, begging that the Lord would take such feelings from me, but they do not cease. They just continue to grow."

Valeria felt her heart beating hard in her chest, and she brought her hand up to her breastbone in a hope of calming it. "But—b-but, Tuck, you are a monk!" She stammered in disbelief. She just could not comprehend it! This man, this man of God, did fancy her. And Guy had been the one smart enough to see it! How had she not?

"I know, Valeria," he said in a voice that was desperately trying to calm her, "Which is why nothing will ever, ever come of this. I have promised myself to God. That is one of the most important oaths anyone can ever make, and I wouldn't dare break it. And yet-" he trailed off.

"And yet?" She voiced, curiously.

"And yet," Tuck reached up to stroke her cheek and drew just a bit closer to her, "And yet, I feel in ways for you that I have never felt for any woman before. A man of the cloak is not supposed to feel like this. We pledge our lives to God, promising to solely love Him, and yet, I feel for you as a man feels for a woman whom he is deeply affectionate towards."

She licked her lips and was nearly certain that Tuck could hear her pounding heart. A faint blush crept up her neck as she realized that his soft, brown hand was still cupping her cheek. "Do you regret giving your life to God?"

Tuck was silent for a moment, thinking, before he answered. "Only when I think of you." Valeria was so stunned by his innocent admittance that it felt as if cotton was being shoved down her throat. "But," Tuck continued, "I do not regret it entirely because I know this is where my Lord wants me to be. He plans everything for good, and you were obviously not a part of His wondrous plan for my life." He groaned in exasperation. "But what good are the desires of men if they cannot be put to use?! Tell me one thing, just one thing." Tuck's voice had suddenly become a husky whisper. Valeria was surprised to hear such a vocal change and knew that his flesh and his spirit were in an inward war with each other.

"Anything," she managed to squeak.

"If I was not a man of God, if I was freed from this burden, would you have me? Would I ever see my affection returned?" He spoke as one who was desperately seeking water for his parched lips. So fervent was his demand. Valeria knew it was the preacher within him speaking.

She was silent, not really knowing the answer. "I-" she tried, but did not know how to finish.

Tuck hung his head in silent understanding. "Of course," he said, but there was no bitterness, "You are in love with Gisborne."

"Yes," she admitted, "But-"

"But what?" Tuck asked in a quivering voice.

"But," Valeria took a deep breath to steady herself before reaching up to caress Tuck's cheek, "But I have feelings for you too."

Tuck cautiously dropped his hands to hold her waist. "You do?"

She nodded and smiled slightly as she, for the first time, realized that it really was true. Feelings for Tuck had slowly been growing in her heart. From when, she really did not know. All she knew was that she did indeed hold feelings for him.

Suddenly, Tuck brought his hand up to her wrist and lowered it to her side. His cheek itched with the lack of warmth, and he saw her frown in the fast approaching darkness. "What is wrong?" She asked, concern etched upon her beautiful features.

"I am still a monk. I have made a promise that can never be broken. Ever. And...you are in love with someone else."

"Tuck..." Valeria breathed out his name before bringing her hands up to curl around his neck and wind their way into his short, black hair. "I don't know when or why or even how, but when I'm around you, Gisborne fades to the very back of my mind and you are all I can think about. You are all I can feel. Can you feel how fast my heart is pounding?" Tuck could feel the rapid beat, that is how close they were, but he still looked doubtful. "It is beating that fast and that hard for you."

"I can give you nothing, Valeria. I am God's first."

She smiled sweetly. "And I am alright with being second only to God." It was getting harder for Tuck to argue.

"But I promised never to love a woman. How can I break that oath?"

She giggled. "Seems to me you already broke it, hmm?" When Valeria noticed that she could not make him laugh, she became serious. "But honestly," she stroked the curls on the nape of his neck, "Is it really so evil to love a woman? To love me? Especially, if I am willing to give you my love in return?"

"I just do not understand," Tuck replied, frowning, "You have never before shown any sign that you possessed feelings for me, and now you admit that you love me. How can this be?"

"Because I did not know that I loved you until you told me of your feelings, Tuck."

"Are you sure that you are not just seeking comfort? Because you are hurt, angry, frightened? And because Gisborne will not have you?"

Valeria laid a quick peck to his cheek. "I want you, silly man."

"Are you sure?"

"More than anything."

Tuck pulled her into an embrace and Valeria relaxed completely, breathing out a deep sigh of contentment. But then, he leant down and whispered into her ear. "I am sure too. But it cannot be." Valeria pulled away with confusion and Tuck tried to explain. "Not now. Not when we are marching off to Acre. But I make you a promise, Valeria, that I will try to find a way for us to be together, and damn the consequences."

Valeria raised an eyebrow. It was strange to hear the usually sedate monk swear. "So, for now, we can only be friends?"

"I am afraid so, my darling girl." Tuck whispered as he looked down at her.

Valeria could not resist the temptation to glance up at his lips. "Then, I shall wait. I will always wait." Tuck's soft hands came up to cup her cheeks as he leaned her head back so that she was looking straight into his eyes. Then, he moved very slowly. Closer and closer. Nearly kissing her before he pulled away slightly.

"What of Gisborne?"

Valeria sighed. "We will deal with that when it comes. For now, I just want-" And then, his lips pressed ever so gently to hers. It was strange. She knew that by the inexperience of his lips that it was his first kiss. Her heart fell as she realized that she was not so new to all of this. She had kissed Guy several times, but he had never been able to make her shiver like Tuck did. She wrapped her arms tightly around his back, bringing him close, and he carded his fingers into her strawberry blonde hair as he continued to kiss her, to revel in the beauty and smell that was Valeria. His Valeria. He could scarcely believe it.

And then, they broke apart and he held her close, mesmerized by her eyes. She laughed lightly. "What is it?"

Tuck smiled tenderly. "Your eyes...they are beautiful." Valeria ducked her head in a blush and rested it upon Tuck's shoulder.

"I love you," she whispered as softly as a caress.

"I-" Tuck nearly answered before a frightening voice interrupted. It was deep and cold and sinister. Valeria quickly pulled out of Tuck's arms to stare at the man who looked as if all of the fury of hell was burning with him. "Now, Gisborne," Tuck held up his hands and tried to reason. But Guy was far from hearing reason.

He quickly lept onto Tuck and pinned him to the ground. "She is mine! You will not take her from me!"

Valeria screamed out, "Please, stop! Guy, stop!"

He turned around, hurt in his eyes. "What the hell do you think you were doing?"

"I-I- Please..." Valeria whimpered but Guy did not listen. He punched Tuck hard in the nose before feeling the strong arms of Little John lifting him up. The next thing he knew, blackness assaulted him and he was unconscious.

Valeria quickly ran to Tuck and knelt beside him. "Are you alright?" The monk nodded and stood up, wiping the blood away from his nose.

"Quite, but I do believe we have a problem."

"What?" She asked with concern.

"It would seem our secret is going to be found out before it even began."

Valeria knew Tuck was right. They had a lot to explain to the gang. And, even worse and more frightening, they had a wrathful Guy to face.

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Hope you liked it! Especially you, Emma. I just was bored and kinda tried to throw it all together. Love ya so much!