I do not own Robin Hood BBC or the characters. Only my own thoughts and that's even questionable.

Knowing something of the loss of a brother-in-arms,

All my works are dedicated to my best mate, (Sasquatch).

I held him as he died.

For where you have gone I have yet to follow.

(Calvin)


Prologue:

I didn't like how Robin treated his own best mate as the series progressed, so I changed it. Isn't fiction great?

To me, from experience, they are very close inseparable lifelong best friends, but not gay. Those that think they are have never had a best mate who would protect you, and you him, to the death and have no idea of what I speak of nor the true meaning of love.

Deviations from script;

Much's talking and ignorance is only an act so he doesn't have to fight as he tends to forget not to kill just like his master.

Much survived the Holy Land and fought alongside his master as Robin said in the very first episode. Therefore, he must be at least as good, and knowing how protective he is of his best friend, probably better.

Marian didn't die in the Holy Land, and Djaq and Will returned with Robin and the gang.

Robin does not die but is saved by Much and his alchemist friend.

For some background to my stories please read:

SilasBrandybuck, Mentor and beta reader. You-ll-Be-the-Death-of-Me

Also:

Empathise-Much I-Was-There-When-You-Died


We never talk.

Out of a restless slumber Robin slowly drifts awake from an undefinable uneasiness. Peering from weary eyes through the starlit darkness expecting to see his former servant sleeping next to him as always, he can just make out the mound of blankets next to him but sees no movement. Instinctively to reassure himself there's nothing wrong he reaches out to confirm that Much is there, but instead of his ever present companion his hand falls upon empty blankets. Startled fully awake, Robin jolts up jerking his head around searching for his wayward brother fathoming the worst. Straining through the darkness his eyes finally make out Much's slumped huddled form sitting not far away on one of the logs near the evening's dying embers, his wistful face faintly washed in pale red.

Drawing a deep calming breath Robin rises and slowly approaches his lifelong loyal companion. Sitting close to him he waits patiently for Much to speak but after a long uncomfortable silence Robin quietly asks so as not awaken the others, "Acre?" Receiving a barely perceptible nod from the distraught man Robin hesitantly asks, "Want to talk?" Without turning his head towards his steadfast brother Much whispers dejectedly in return, "Are you ready?" Stung by his accusing words, Robin drops his gaze sighing deeply remembering that night trapped in a barn so long ago when Much accused him from deep within his injured soul, "We never talk!… We just don't!" Pausing for a moment, he replies with thinly veiled uncertainty, "Yes Much." His devoted friend wearily turns his head towards him staring in unmasked disbelief until Robin again sighs deeply then responds with unfelt firmness, "Yes Much."

Nodding minutely Much returns his gaze back to the dying embers, leans forward placing several broken branches on the glowing coals, and stokes them bringing the dying embers back to life. He casts his gaze over the sleeping members of their gang listening intently for their measured breathing and light snores confirming that they are all still asleep, then blankly stares back at the growing flames hungrily licking up at the new wood gaining renewed life and says quietly with forlorn sorrow, "Their eyes… I can still see their cold eyes staring accusingly back at me as they die." and pauses waiting for his fellow wounded soldier to leave as he has done so, so often before.

Feeling Much's words resurrect banished images, burning their way into the very core of his being, Robin crushes his eyes closed resisting a violent urge to flee as his tormented visions overwhelm him. Digging his fingers into the deep rough bark of the fallen log he forces himself to remain listening to his brother.

Gaining courage from the continued presence of the man he has followed since birth Much takes a ragged breath and continues calmly, "In my nightmares I am back fighting in Acre. I can feel my sword striking into flesh and bone, feel the warmth of their blood spatter my face running down my neck and arms, watching as they join all the other broken and disemboweled bodies bleeding into the sand… I hear the ringing of swords, the mournful moans of the dying mixed with that of the sorrowful screams of brave lads holding in their bowels who will never feel the warmth of a woman's touch crying out in frightened tearful agony for their mothers." Giving in to his torturous memories Much drops his head resting it in the palms of his hands and with a sorrowful hitch in his voice continues, "Their accusing look of horror mixed with pain and disbelief as I slice them open or withdraw my blade from their chest continues to haunt me." After a moment, barely audible, Robin hears as only a weeping breath, "Their death… My torture…"

Taking measured breaths staring gravely into the growing fire, unwillingly drawn into reliving the war through the sorrowful words of his brother, Robin quietly replies in deep sorrow, "I know Much, I know." Releasing his death grip on the wooden log, Robin places a knowing hand on his tortured mate's tattooed back, and pauses listening to the forest hold its breath as though urging him to let go.

Gaining strength from Much's unrestrained poignant words, Robin lifts his head moving his hand to grasp his mate's shoulder, tenuously holding onto his emotions as he stares off into the interminable darkness beyond the reach of the growing flames and says quietly, "I took courage in the knowledge that you were by my side protecting me as I felled one Saracen horseman after another before they could wreak death upon our men. But when my bolts were gone I too took up my sword and fought alongside you."

Feeling a glimpse of relief, emboldened, Robin casts a half gaze over his band of outlaws confirming that they are still asleep finally feeling able to share his nightmares with the only other person who could possibly understand. Releasing his tightly restrained emotions, with great sorrow he tells Much, "I too can never forget the shock on their faces when they knew their lives were forfeit, the sight of torn and limbless bodies, the death filled groans of all those men and young lads draining their lives into the sand, the enemy… our friends, consume my nightmares still. Taking a man's life up close rather than from afar is… You feel…" Much feels the hand on his shoulder tighten as he hears Robin take a quavering breath and with raw knowing emotion whisper, "You can feel them die, see it in their eyes that they too know that they are dead, and it's you who are taking their lives… And you know it's you." Out of the corner of his eye Much watches a tear fall to the ground from the bloodied worn soldier next to him leaving a wet crater in the fine dry powder of the forest floor below.

After a long hollow silence broken only by the crackling of the small fire struggling to push back the accusing darkness while casting its weak flickering light on the two desolate soldiers and the unnaturally still trees surrounding them, buried within his nightmare of memories Robin whispers forlornly, "I too can still clearly hear the sounds of battle, see the look on their shocked agonized dying faces… Feel my blade piercing flesh ending lives, the warmth of their blood upon me, watching our enemy and our comrades spill their blood and entrails onto the sand and slowly die… Slowly die... Alone."

Robin takes a deep shuddering breath, turns his head towards his brother and says with heart wrenching despair, "But my worst torment is that I too know what it is like to feel a blade end life, to die." Startled, Much turns to face his loyal friend finding him gazing back with rare tearful eyes and hears him say with heartfelt affection, "I do love you, and if it weren't for you, you Much, I would be dead, and I will never forget that." Gazing at one another with a bond of love that only true blood brothers can know, Robin adds with finality, "For you and you alone hold a special place in my heart and will forever be my best friend. No one can, nor will, ever come between us, together we will never be alone."

The two bloodied warriors gaze at one another with a lifetime of mutual affection further hardened by war and fervently clasp scared hands then stand and grasp one another in a back breaking brotherly embrace both gaining courage from one another and turn the rusty key unlocking their accursed emotions allowing their memories of the war's horrors to wash through and away from them unaware that four sets of tearful eyes are silently watching, now with the full understanding of their unbreakable devotion.

After a time the two relieved veterans break apart, wipe their eyes, and grinning gratefully at one another echo, "Feel better?" Much watches as Robin nods slightly and with a capitulating grin says with admission, "Yes Much you're right, we should talk." Grinning in victory, Much swings his arm around his former master's shoulders and the two wander back to their pallets, lie down, and return to an restful slumber as a gentle breeze picks up rustling the leaves in the trees while sending up small sparkling embers to drift in the wind.


FIN

The feeling of taking a life up close and personal is far different than that of taking from afar.