A/N: This is an Outlaw Bandit AU about Regina becoming the leader of the merry men. This fanfic follows along with the idea that even in this alternate reality, Regina and Robin are still soulmates. I also know nothing about the actual Robin Hood stories so all characters in this story will be based on my interpretation from the show and my imagination. Hope you enjoy! Please R&R, it would mean the world!

Disclaimer: I own nothing. This story will eventually be rated M.

. . .

Regina becomes the new leader of the Merry Men, Robin's wedding goes off without a hitch, him and his new bride start working together at their pub.

Life goes on.

And yet...

Robin loves his wife; she's still the same woman he married. It's been weeks since the wedding, but something feels a bit off, and he'd be a liar if he said he doesn't know what's changed.

He had seen Regina before he met her, from afar, anyway. A flash of silky black hair disappearing into a crowd, quick fingers clutching something that didn't belong to her; an angry grunt and the dark shadow of another thief vanishing into the night once she realized that her target had already been thoroughly plundered by his men; and finally, her face on the wanted posters that hung on every bare surface in the kingdom. He admired her tenacity and skill long before he met her. Sometimes jobs that his men could barely accomplish took her minutes to complete, and when Zelena said she wanted him to step down as leader of the Merry Men, he could think of no one better suited to step in and lead in his stead.

It had been pure coincidence (and a lucky one at that) that had him coming across the Queen with a fireball aimed at Regina's head. He'd been meaning to track her down for weeks to see what she thought about his offer, but he'd been putting it off. He's not very eager to step down, but living an outlaw's life is not what Zelena wants and so it must be done.

So he pulls her from the Queen's clutches, and when he pulls her onto his horse and she greets him with an annoyed "I had the situation under control", he can tell he's picked the right person from the job.

"A simple thank you would suffice," he replies, but he can feel her shaking behind him, her breath uneven against the back of his neck.

He buys her a pint and bandages her hand, despite her protests and more than a few eye rolls. "To new friends and old rivals," he says. She's looking at him, musing with her brow furrowed as she sips at her ale.

"What is it?"

She shrugs. "Just thought you'd be...dirtier," and he cannot help but laugh. It seems she's been curious about him, too.

Robin offers her the job and that pensive look comes back.

"So what's driving you out of the business?" She asks.

One moment, he's thinking of his lovely wife to be, spouting words about being born to look into someone's eyes, words about true love and soulmates, and then he looks up and suddenly he's consumed. He's drowning in her dark chocolate gaze, mesmerized by her, from the way she yanks her gloves off with her teeth to the beauty of her smile and everything in between. It knocks the breath out of him and he doesn't notice the way she looks back at him, like maybe she is meant for love after all.

The moment is gone as fast as it came when Zelena comes it. When Robin introduces them, Zelena gasps, "I can't believe I'm meeting the Regina! Have you asked her yet, darling?"

Robin starts, "Actually-"

"I'll do it."

Robin looks back to the dark haired woman. "Really?"

She smirks a little, but there's something off in her eyes. He barely knows her, but he can see it all the same. "Why, are you having second thoughts?"

"No, not at all," Robin says, "I'm just glad to know I'll be leaving my men in good hands."

"Oh, this is so exciting!" Zelena says, "We need to celebrate, I"ll go get us some drinks." And then his bride-to-be is off to the bar and he's left alone with the woman who has captivated him so completely, and it feels dangerous.

"So," Regina says, "when do I start?"

"I'll, uh, be leaving for my honeymoon first thing tomorrow, but I can have Little John meet you here tomorrow to bring you to the Merry Men's camp."

She nods. "Have any advice for me?"

Robin smiles. "Those men were my home for quite some time. They can be a bit rough around the edges, but they are there when it counts. Get to know them-making an effort will help you gain their trust. Put faith in them as I have and they won't let you down."

Regina quickly glances back to Zelena, still procuring their drinks, and turns back to him. "I'd better get going. I've got some things to take care of before tomorrow."

"Of course," Robin replies.

"So…" She outstretches her hand. "I suppose I'll be seeing you around, then? I don't think your friends would be too pleased if you never came for a visit."

He shakes her hand. "This isn't goodbye."

Regina is looking at him and it feels like he's drowning again, but then she's out the door and he hasn't seen her since. He cannot stop thinking about her, and what's worse is that he doesn't even want to. Every thought of her calms him and drives him mad all at once. Zelena and the tavern have been keeping him busy, but he spends every spare moment wondering about the raven-haired thief. He had meant it when he said it wasn't goodbye, but he hardly has an excuse to go see her again, and hell, the Merry Men might have moved camp since he left and he'd have no idea where to find her anyway.

So Robin is left to wonder.

Until one day, he's cleaning glasses behind the bar when he hears the front door open followed by a riotous, "Oi! Robin!"

Robin looks up and there taking up the entire doorway is Little John, with Will shuffling in behind him.

"Well if it isn't the biggest scoundrels in all the land! To what do I owe the pleasure?" Robin bellows back, coming around the bar to greet his friends.

"Who says we need an excuse?" Will counters. "Can't we visit an old friend?"

"Of course," Robin says, "but I'm a bit busy-"

Little John smiles. "Not for the next few days you aren't."

When Robin asks when he means, Little John's grin widens. "As good as Regina has been to us, we've missed you. We talked to Zelena and she agreed to take care of everything here for a few days so you could come spend some time at camp."

Now it makes sense-the way Zelena had kissed him this morning and said "have fun" before she left for the market.

"Well come on, man!" Little John says, starting back towards the door, "We're wasting precious time!"

. . .

Robin is welcomed into camp with slaps on the back, tight embraces and loud whooping. He's there no longer than two minutes before a drink is shoved into his hand and he is greeted by the familiar smell of food cooking over an open fire-he feels at home, and he feels lighter, like a weight has been lifted from his chest. He hadn't realized just how much he's missed this.

His friends are filling him in on everything they've been doing, but then he looks up, and there's Regina coming out of what used to be his tent.

Robin stands and Gods, she's a vision-he'd thought that maybe the feelings he had for her were just a quick lapse in judgement, a spark that burned hot and fast; something that would evaporate like it never existed, but now that she's standing before him he feels like a fool for thinking it at all.

"Hello, Regina."

She smiles at him, but it doesn't reach her eyes. She only nods and says, "Robin," before turning to the rest of the men. "I hope you all have a good time tonight, but I expect this camp to still be in one piece in the morning."

All the men nod, promise to do the best they can and return to their merriment. Regina looks back at him then, her back straight and jaw set. It's been almost a month since he's looked into those eyes, and he savors every moment of it.

"Don't worry, milady," he calls. "We won't have too much fun."

She gazes at him for one moment more, and then she turns back into her tent, and it's the last he sees of her all night.

. . .

Robin wakes at dawn feeling like utter shit. His head is pounding, his stomach is turning, and even the barest hints of the morning sun behind his eyelids just makes it all worse.

"So much for not having too much fun."

With a great amount of effort, Robin opens his eyes and turns his head to see Regina sitting on her cot, lacing up her boots.

"Morning, milady," he groans.

"You came stumbling in to my tent last night and passed out on the floor," she says and now that he's looking around, he realizes that yes, he is indeed on the floor of her tent with a blanket thrown over him. Robin's always prided himself on his charm, but this is certainly not the way into her good graces.

"I'm so sorry, Regina, I didn't-"

"It's fine," she says, standing and reaching for her bow. "With how much you all drank last night I'm surprised you could walk at all."

"Still, I should never have invaded your privacy. I apologize."

Regina smiles down at him. "Thank you. You can get some more rest if you want, I'm going hunting."

Robin shoots up and even though his body immediately protests, he can't help it. He's wanted a chance to see her alone for weeks, and this is it. "Would you mind terribly if I went with you?"

Her brow furrows."You're hungover."

"I know," he winces, and there's no point in lying, is there? "But I want to get to know you better. I want to truly know who I've entrusted my men to."

Regina's face softens at that, her hands flexing around her bow. "Fine. I'd actually like the company. Let's see if all the stories about your arrow never missing its target are true, shall we?"

Robin borrows Will's bow (he'll hardly miss it, he's still passed out cold) and follows her out of camp. For a while, it's mostly silence. His headache begins to fade, and he finds himself admiring her; the ways she moves through the forest, the way she handles the bow. She's strong, but graceful and so bloody beautiful.

"Do you do this every morning?" He asks.

"I try. We don't really need the meat, but it helps me relax. I like the quiet-the woods have their own sort of silence."

He chuckles. "I can imagine you don't find much peace and quiet living with a group of men. How has it been going? I'm hoping you don't regret your decision."

"Not at all," she says, but he sees a different answer in her eyes.

He stops walking. "What is it, Regina?"

She tells him nothing is wrong, but he can tell something's bothering her, so he asks again. "You can tell me anything," he says, and he means it.

She sighs. "The Queen is still after me. I thought it would be safer for me here, and it is, but it's only a matter of time before she starts searching these woods."

"The Merry Men will protect you."

"I know they'll try," Regina says, worry bleeding into her voice now. "But the Queen is powerful. If she wants to kill me, a few men with pointy sticks are not going to stop her."

"Maybe not, but they'll try their best. And so will I. I won't let anything happen to you, Regina."

It's a bold statement, he knows it, and it has her gaze snapping to his. She looks touched and stunned by his words, her lips parting like she wants to reply, but she just lets out a shuddering breath.

When she speaks, her voice is soft. "You can't promise that."

He knows she's right-the promise of safety is foolish when the most powerful sorceress in the land is after her-but it's a promise he wants to make. Foolishness be damned.

Robin takes her hand and squeezes it gently. "But I want to. I want to help you, Regina."

He shouldn't be doing this, it feels almost like a betrayal because every moment spent with her draws his heart strings tighter and tighter, like getting ready to fire an arrow, and he has no idea what will happen when the tension breaks. She stares at him for what seems like minutes, but is truly only a moment or two, and he can hear his heart pounding so loudly he's surprised he can hear her when she speaks.

"Why?" She asks.

Why indeed.

He doesn't know what to say to her, because he doesn't have an answer. So he doesn't say a thing, but they're so close together now he can feel her breath warm against his face. The silence stretches on until she quickly passes her thumb over his wrist and steps back from him.

"We should get back," she says, turning away from him. She's right-he knows-and he follows her back the way they came.