Well, for the last time- I don't own Robin Hood!
Now, i tend to get a little sentimental when posting the last chapter of a long fic- so really- don't mind me.
Most importantly- I would like to thank everyone who has read this from the beginning or come in half-way through or even as recently as the last chapter! All your comments meant so much to me- what can I say? You make a writer feel loved!
Now I had this list out and I was going to mention everyone's name but then I was terrified I would forget someone and they would be offended- so I decided against saying names- I think you all know who you are- I love you guys!
Ok, here's the chapter- I have lots more notes at the end!
Much struggled not to roll his eyes as Robin and Allan returned from their talk and Robin immediately called for a hunting party. Seeing Allan's embarrassed face that held hints of annoyance and Robin's glower, Much could almost tell exactly what had gone on. Allan had given his reason, Robin hadn't understood what Allan really meant and now both men were unhappy.
Perhaps sensing their leader's mood, everyone readily agreed to go hunting except Will, who opted to stay behind with Allan. Robin quickly told John and Djaq to go one way, and strode off quickly in the other direction, leaving Much to follow. Much did of course- he always followed.
They held up the pretense of hunting for perhaps 10 minutes, before it become obvious that with Robin stomping around the forest they were scaring away any game that might be there. Much prayed that John and Djaq managed to have better luck than they were going to have- he was getting sick of vegetables. Never the less, Much silently followed Robin, pretended to hunt, said nothing when Robin scared away at least three deer and was not surprised when Robin suddenly threw down his bow.
"It doesn't make sense, Much!" Robin exclaimed, spinning around. "I mean- the whole reasoning… it's off! I don't want to say it's stupid but really- It just doesn't make any sense!" Robin paused to take a breath and Much interjected his words while he had the chance.
"It doesn't make any sense to you," Much stated calmly, bending down to pick up Robin's bow. The man was always so careless with the thing- one day it was going to break and then he would be upset.
"What's that supposed to mean?" Robin asked, focusing his glare on Much. Robin's glare didn't seem to affect his servant at all, who simply continued wiping mud off his bow. Much made Robin wait a moment longer before sighing and looking up.
"I mean," Much continued. "That just because it doesn't make sense to you- doesn't mean it doesn't make any sense."
"Why would it make sense to someone else and not me?!" Robin cried, sweeping his arms out in the questioning manner he always did.
'Because you wouldn't get it,' Much thought to himself. 'Because no matter how poor you get, or whether you're an outlaw or a noble, or whether you're alone or surrounded by people- you will never, never understand what it means to truly follow.'
Robin had always been a leader- Much sensed that the moment he met the man. He never looked natural when he had to bow to a superior- he had looked even more awkward when he had to kneel to the king. As a teenager, Much had seen Robin tell a grown man what to do and see that order followed without question. His master had some kind of quality that forced people to obey him- well he supposed forced was the wrong word- Robin made people want to obey him. Even when he was under the direct command of the king, Robin never followed blindly. He thought over orders, sometimes to an almost treasonous extent. It was lucky that Robin always managed to be right, because otherwise he would have probably been hung. Robin had changed battle plans on nothing more than a hunch, never bothering to consult Richard on these things. It simply worked out that Richard either never noticed, or recognized Robin as a good leader and left the younger man to it. It got to the point that Richard didn't even really command Robin anymore- simply suggested what he wanted done and counted that Robin would see to it. Despite this unspoken agreement between the two men, there had been times when Much thought he was going to have to fight the king's guard just to keep Robin from being killed at Richard's order during one of their arguments.
Though Robin was as kind and open and empathetic as any man Much knew, his master would never be able to truly understand how the rest of the world felt. He would never quite grasp that other people weren't as confident as he usually was, that they didn't think like he did, that other people weren't sure where they stood. He would never know what it felt like to trust someone else to tell him what to do, to depend on another to make the important decisions, to know that following a leader was the right thing to do. And because he would never know that, Robin would never know the relief that you finally had someone good to follow, the knowledge that you could trust your leader to have you do the right thing, and also the underlying fear that one day he would decide you weren't good enough and leave you right back where you started.
But Much didn't say any of that- maybe because he knew Robin still wouldn't understand, or maybe because he knew it would just make Robin more confused and angry or maybe because he felt Robin didn't need to know all of it. Instead, he shrugged, throwing Robin an innocent "I don't know" look.
Robin growled under his breath and looked away from Much, out towards the forest. Much saw him thinking over the conversation once more and continue to come up with nothing.
"It's just- the whole mission was my idea!" Robin said, coming back to try and talk it out with Much as he commonly did. "Why would he think that I would just leav-"
Suddenly Robin cut off and turned a shocked face to Much.
"Hey!" Robin declared, planting his fists on his hips. "How do you know what reason I'm even talking about! I never told you what he said."
"And I don't think you should," Much interrupted. That conversation was between Robin and Allan- he didn't want to be a part of it. Though he knew the basic idea behind it- the specifics that Allan had spoken and the exact words were something private. Robin nodded his agreement before pushing once more.
"Well, still- how do you know anything about it then?"
It was Much's turn to look away from Robin and into the surrounding woods. How did he know?
The answer was simple- he'd been there. They had been in the Holy Land for a little over a year and Much, though had previously taken minor injuries- had been slashed quite badly by an enemy sword. He had been wounded, seriously so- and had made the same decision Allan had. He hadn't told Robin, instead he had helped Robin clean up and had made sure Robin was fine before sneaking off to the medical tent and getting stitched up. He had refused to slow down over the next few days for fear that Robin would notice. But in the end, he healed fine, Robin never knew, and he had avoided the conversation Allan had been forced into. Much was almost glad to have been injured in a war where no one would notice rather than a small group where all attention would be on him.
If he was injured now, he was sure he would tell Robin- but back then their relationship hadn't been as strong. But of course saying this would also hurt Robin, so instead he looked up and fixed a carefree grin on his master.
"Lucky guess," he declared, putting placing the bow back in Robin's hands. Much nodded and it was his turn to walk away. He felt Robin frowning into his back and sensed Robin shrug and give up. He continued to walk away and left Robin to follow. Robin did of course- he always followed.
"Hey!" Robin called. "Wait up!" Much did roll his eyes this time- Robin would follow- but not for long.
Allan gently lowered himself to the ground, the slight pulling on his back only serving to increase his general state of unhappiness. As much as he tried not to think about the conversation that had occurred between Robin and himself, it would not leave his mind. And the more he thought about it- the more he hated it.
He wasn't quite angry with Robin for forcing the issue- in a way he knew why it needed to be said. But he still hated how embarrassed it made him feel, how weak it made him seem. In other gangs, if you did something wrong you got a quick beating and then it was done. You might hate it while you were taking the punches and kicks and maybe for a few days after, but at least when it was done, it was truly done. You didn't have to spend your whole life regretting it or re-playing it in your head.
All he wanted to do was go to sleep and just wake up and pretend it never happened. In truth, he wasn't even paying attention to the young man who sat across from him. He was just going to lie down and wake up at a much later time. But just as he was about to go through the task of getting himself all stretched out without causing too much pain to his still-stitched back, a quiet voice stopped him.
"So?" Will asked, looking not at Allan, but at his hands which were idly whittling. The man was always whittling.
"So what?" Allan asked, bewildered. Will's head snapped up looking at Allan as if he had 5 heads. Allan raised an eyebrow, honestly confused as to what was happening. He still wasn't used to having to be aware of others feelings quite yet- having friends in general was still a new concept.
"You didn't tell me," Will said, glaring. Allan blinked uncomprehendingly before he realized that Will wanted an explanation too!
For a moment he felt the anger and annoyance rise in his chest. Will wasn't the leader of this group- he didn't have a right to know- he had no right to ask! He looked down, making a feeble attempt to calm himself, when he was really just fueling his anger. He was exhausted, he didn't want to even see Will, he wished he hadn't told Robin, he just wanted to be alone. God, did everyone have to know everything in this stupid gang! He took a breath, intent on telling Will to sod off and just leave him alone. He had almost started speaking when he looked up and meet Will's eyes.
He felt his anger plunge into nothing, his mouth seemed to go dry to keep himself from speaking, for a moment he stared- shocked. He looked away again, not wanting to see those eyes, feeling guilty and ashamed. He could've been fine, he could've yelled right back, he could've unleashed his temper. He could've done all of those things very easily- if Will was angry. If Will was angry, Allan could've been angry right back. If Will was angry Allan would've known what to do- and that was to yell or punch before the other person got the chance to yell or punch at you. It would've been fine- if Will was angry.
But he wasn't. As Allan had truly looked at his friend, he had seen something unfamiliar in those eyes, something that he almost didn't recognize, something he never thought himself worthy of causing. Will was hurt. The glare that Allan had caught had faded into some look of disbelieving hurt. Allan struggled to wrap his mind around what was going on. He meant enough to the carpenter that Will was hurt when he didn't tell the other man he had been injured. It didn't make any sense- Allan didn't mean that much to anybody. In his world, people rarely cared that much about their own family. He didn't deserve that- Will should be angry- not hurt.
"I lied before," he said suddenly, surprising himself. He was half-trying to convince Will that he wasn't worth getting upset about, half-beginning to explain. That didn't make sense either- just a moment ago he had vowed to never tell anyone anything again and now here he was talking almost as if he wanted to. He snapped his mouth shut and carefully looked up.
It was no good- Will was still looking at him with that face. The only difference in it was now it held a touch of curiosity. He was going to have to finish what he started and try to explain it a little. He looked out into the forest, and then down and then finally setting for where the fire would be flickering if there was a fire.
"When I told- when I said my father was a blacksmith," he finally continued. A part of him was crying for him to shut up, was reminding him that he always said his father was a blacksmith- it was part of the character he played. The fun, invincible Allan a' Dale had a father- and he was a blacksmith. But more of him couldn't stand to see the look on Will's face, and would tell anything to make it go away.
"That was a lie," he repeated without really realizing it. "I don't know if he was a blacksmith- I don't even know who he was. My mom didn't even know who he was. Hard to tell, I suppose, when you're shagging every-"
He cut off quickly- that was further than he meant to go. He didn't look at Will, not wanting to see what Will thought of this new information. Instead he fumbled for the words to express what he was trying to say.
"The point is," he said firmly. "I never had, well- I mean, you've got parents and a brother- well I actually have one of those- a half I suppose, but what I mean is… I guess I'm just not used to it," He finished lamely.
He glanced at Will to see the look was still there, perhaps it was fading slightly and it was rapidly tinting with what he thought was confusion- but he couldn't tell. He couldn't think of anything more to say. What would other people do at this point? Suddenly he had it- it even seemed simple- apologize. That should've been easy and he told himself firmly he could do it.
The only problem was- he hadn't ever done it before. Oh, sure- he had said the words before- he said them all the time, usually grinning as he did. But he had never meant it, he had never needed the other person to know that he meant it. He had never had a friend who he needed to apologize to- if he was being honest, he had never really had a friend this close before. For a moment, he was terrified- friends were just another thing that you could easily loose- but he brought his mind back to the problem at hand. Saying sorry- apologizing. He tried to think of some fancy words to say, something that would let Will know he really meant it- but came up with nothing.
Finally he took a deep breath, and looked up at Will, meeting his friend's eyes.
"Look, Will," he said, trying not to feel as if he were about to jump off a cliff. "I'm sorry."
"ALLAN!" Djaq's voice seemed to come from nowhere and Allan jumped, breaking eye contact with Will. To his surprise, Djaq and John were already at the far end of the camp.
"I just remembered something," Djaq said, throwing three dead rabbits on the ground. Allan forced a grin to his face and glanced down at the dead animals.
"They reminded you," he asked, still grinning. "Djaq really- I don't think I look like dead bunnies." Djaq gave him a quick smile, before continuing.
"It's been a week," she declared, starting to rummage through her pack.
"Yes," Allan said, nodding and not following.
"We have to take your stitches out," she explained. His face must've paled, for she quickly added, "Don't worry- it shouldn't be too bad. Some people think they should stay in longer- but my father always said that if you kept them in too long then the skin starts to heal itself over the stitches, which just makes it that much harder to get them out. And I don't think we have any proper cutting utensils anyway so-"
"Djaq," Allan broke in. "That's fine, really, take 'em out- whatever you think. But could you please stop talking."
Djaq flushed, looking embarrassed and nodded quickly. Soon she signaled for Allan to lay down on his bedroll. Allan gulped and tried not to look terrified. He glanced over at Will, trying to gauge if he had been forgiven.
Unfortunately, the carpenter's face was even more unreadable than before. Allan bit back a sigh- he didn't know what else to do. And yet, if Will didn't forgive him, he would have to think of something.
Trying to move slowly without seeming to, Allan headed over to his makeshift bed, took of his shirt and laid down carefully. He struggled not to flinch when she first lay on hand on his back, and was afraid he didn't succeed when she snatched her hand away as if it had been burned.
"Don't mind me," he said cheerfully, trying to get her to loosen up. "Just get 'em out, kay, Djaq?"
"Right," he heard from above him and he heard her re-gain her confidence. He winced as he felt something pull out of his back, firmly closing his eyes. It was creepy to think that string was coming out of there, and it was getting more painful as she went along. He began to regret getting her into a good mood by joking. This hurt! And on top of it- he still didn't know if Will forgave him or not- the man hadn't said anything. But then again, Allan knew that he couldn't say anything- not in front of Djaq and John.
This continued for a few minutes as Robin and Much returned empty handed from their own hunt. He had been trying to remain silent during the whole process, a part of him shuddering away from remembering how he had screamed when she cleaned them out. But as she pulled out a particularly deeply embedded one, he gasped.
"Sorry," Djaq whispered and he tried to give a jerky nod, not trusting his voice at the moment. He felt the urge to shift his legs, but dared not as he didn't want anyone holding him down like last time.
Suddenly he felt a hand on his shoulder, he flinched away from it at first, but it stayed there, silently comforting him. It was too big to be Djaq's and roughly callused- but then again everyone's was. Must be Robin's, he decided, keeping his eyes closed. He grunted as Djaq pulled out another thread.
"Don't worry- can't be too much longer," the voice to whom the hand belonged said from above him. For a second he didn't believe his ears and then slowly he cracked one eye open in case he somehow got the voice wrong.
He hadn't been wrong. It was Will Scarlett who was currently gently holding his shoulder. Their eyes met and Allan knew he was forgiven. The relief he felt almost scared him- but he pushed that away for now. For now it was enough that Will had forgiven him, that he hadn't lost his closest friend over something dumb, it was enough that Will was there now. The relief must've shown in his eyes, for Will answered with the makings of a smile tugging at the corner of his lips. Allan nodded and then closed his eyes again- he was forgiven.
A little while later, Djaq pulled out the last piece of string and leaned back. Allan gently pulled himself upright and then even more gently leaned back on the nearest tree.
"How do you feel?" Djaq asked, looking concerned. "It wasn't bad- only 2 started bleeding again- so that's good. But do you feel alright?"
Allan glanced around the camp. Djaq was looking at him intently, waiting for his reaction. There was John who, again, was looking a little on the green side and carefully keeping his gaze away from the small pile of thread that lay next to Djaq. Robin was using a long bit of wood to keep himself standing and he twirled around it gently, looking confident as always. Much was beside Robin, beginning to make dinner and only pausing to hear Allan's answer. And Will was propped up on the tree next to him, whittling once more. Everything seemed to be back to normal.
He grinned. "Yup," he declared, nodding proudly. "I'd say I'm completely healed."
Well, i hope you all enjoyed the last one (and don't think the ending is too cheesy- I figured I was entitled to a little bit)
anyway, when I finish a fic- I like to ask you (the reviewers) to kinda not only look at this chapter, but really the whole story so I know what to improve on. You know, overall strengths, weaknesses, that kind of thing. I would also love to know what your favorite chapter/moment was and also you're least favorite chapter/moment. (Personally re-reading chapter 1 was physically painful- god bless you for making it past that) Umm... any other commments you want to throw in, please do at this time- because it's your last chance... (and for you people who may be reading and not reviewing- it's you last chance for that too!)
On another note- I am planning to write more RH fics- I'm going to take a break and then a Robin/Much friendship one will be up... eh- start of July- I hope you all pop in to see that one!
Wow, in conclusion, I just want to say I've really enjoyed writing this fic and am so glad you all seemed to enjoy it as well! Ok then, I guess this is it for Injured... it seems weird... ok-well- bye then!