Weight in Gold
Summary: an introspective look into Allan A'Dale's thoughts, ep01 of season 2. Some season 2, episode 5 spoilers at very end in notes.
Disclaimer: BBC owns all rights to the characters, plot, and everything else of their series, Robin Hood.
NOTE: DO NOT READ UNLESS YOU HAVE SEEN EPISODES OF SEASON TWO. FROM HERE ON IN, THERE BE SPOILERS.
It's high-noon in the market of Nottingham Town, as usual on Mondays, and here I am with Robin and Much, going off to rescue Marian. Again. It's like that girl doesn't know how to stay out of trouble. Trouble follows her around everywhere. I mean, when aren't we rescuing her, or not trying to get into the castle for some reason or another? Why aren't we focusing on the really important matters – like money.
Now, don't get me wrong, I don't mean it like that. But really, not being funny here, we need money to survive. Going after Marian to make sure she's alright is just taking time away from robbing some fancy noble on route to Nottingham.
I had to ask, since no one else was going to.
"Marian's in there!" snaps Much, in reply, turning to face me in anger.
"Yeah, she's probably having cakes and ale with the sheriff!" I retort, snorting a bit and mentally rolling my eyes. We all knew that she was Lady Marian, the daughter to the previous Sheriff of Nottingham, Edward. He's a Lord, and she's a Lady. A noble.
"You just don't get it, do you?" Much asks, sounding completely shocked that whatever thought he was thinking wasn't echoing in my brain as well. Apparently we were of two different thoughts. Not like that was a surprise.
"No, I don't get anything, that's what I'm saying," I almost plead, trying to get Much to see my point of view, "We risk our lives to get money, and then we give it all away. What's that about?"
"I—" Much began, but I cut him off. Arguing with him was never anything fun.
"I'm not being funny, we should get something. If we don't get anything, we're going to get weak. We get demoralized and then how are we going to help the poor?"
I glance towards the market, where Robin stood against a building. He's watching the coming and going of the other peasants, his hood up and shadowing his face. He was ignoring us, leaving us to fight amongst ourselves. What was that about? Didn't he understand where I was coming from? He was one of us now – poor, hungry, and under the Sheriff's thumb.
"You're not weak," Much argues, facing me. I don't know whether that was a compliment or an insult coming from him, considering what I was trying to say.
"No… but I might get weak!" I reply, angrily. With an inaudible sigh, I turn my head away from him, dismissing him. But I couldn't help to get one final dig in and mutter, "Anyway, it doesn't matter to you."
"Why?" Much asks.
"You've always been weak," I reply smartly, knowing it would rile him up. I am ready for a good fight, I want one.
"Very funny," says Much, his face turning a bit red in anger, "Funny... you know, why don't you just… just…"
"Why don't I just what?" I ask.
"Why don't you just jigger off?" snaps Much.
I look at my bearded comrade in amused surprise. "Jigger off? Youwhat? What does that mean? Jigger?"
"You know what it means!" Much replies, pointing a finger at me and waggling it a bit. He is right in my face, and suddenly, I just can't take this. What began as an innocent question, and me trying to get my point across, was now beyond a petty little argument between Robin Hood's men.
"Right…" I say, trailing off. I take off past Much, and Robin (who was still ignoring us – wonder if Marian let him get in her pants, if she has that much control over him), and made my way to the nearest tavern.
"What? Where are you going?" I hear Much call after me, and then wail a plaintive, "Master!"
But I don't want to hear what Robin had to say. I really don't care. Why couldn't they see my point?
Without us having the money to feed and clothe and take care of ourselves, we couldn't take care of the poor. Maybe Robin and Much can't see that. D'jaq, possibly, can't see that either. No one's really asked her what her life was like back home in the Holy Land anyway. I think we're all a bit scared of her, actually.
But no, Robin and Much can't see what things were like. They think robbing the rich to give to the poor is just some game to play – nothing serious. Who cares about swordfights and shooting arrows and being hung? It's all in good fun because Robin Hood will come and save you!
Sorry, but I've been there, I know what it's like to have that coarse rope tighten around your neck; it's rough and scratchy and then suddenly the ground beneath your feet is swept away and the cord around your neck is pulled sharp against your thorax and you can't breath, you can't see past the spots in front of your eyes despite the dark cloth that' covering your head… you can't bring your hands up to claw at your neck and you're beginning to go dizzy…
I shiver as I remembered that day. Never again, I vowed that evening, sitting with Robin and the other outlaws, would I find myself in the hangman's noose. I'd impale myself on my sword before that again. To feel so helpless, knowing that with each second passing it's a second less that you have to live…
Ah, the tavern. My home away from home. Now, who in here can I con some money out of for our cause? After all, it's not every day that some rich noble goes wandering stupidly through Sherwood forest. We gotta make end's meet some other way… and Robin's never questioned me before if I had some extra coin.
And, I think with a sigh, I'm back at square one: Robin.
You've never gone hungry, my friend, I think bitterly.You've never tasted raw meat, eaten grass and held your stomach as it rejected anything and everything you put in it… you weren't taxed like mad by a crooked sheriff. You never watched your friends and family slowly die around you, faster in bitter cold winters and rickety buildings.
Ah, there's a gent who looks like he's willing to lose some coin over a mighty fine game. He's counting his pence, and it looks like it might be my lucky day.
Without a thought, no hesitation, I sit down at his table.
"All right? Just had your wages?" I ask, almost cheerfully.
He looks balefully up at me. "What's it to you?"
"I thought you might fancy doubling your money," I reply, earnestly and as solemnly as I could. You could never tell with peasants, whether they'd be dumb enough to take you up on your game. A con's and con, and they can get ugly fast.
And to think, once upon a time, before I learned my tricks, I used to be like him.
"I'm not being funny… but it costs me money every time."
Gotta make them think they can win. If they can't win, they won't play. Gotta let them also win the first few, to gain confidence… that's when you take it all away from them.
"Oh, shame, shame! Thank you very much."
Within minutes we've attracted a crowd and the pile of pence is growing at my elbow. People are cheering and calling out suggestions for which cup my latest victim should choose.
"Oh, unlucky, unlucky… another go? Have another go?"
I'm happily moving the faux-golden cups and so engrossed in my task that I don't notice the growing unease or the quick way my crowd disperses. I even ask, "fancy a bet, mate?" before I realise that my latest customer hasn't replied. It's only when I look up that I feel my face lose its colour and my heartbeat speed up in horror.
Guy of Gisbourne is sitting across from me, with the darkest, nastiest smirk I've seen on his face yet.
Oh, shit, I think, suddenly wishing I didn't listen to Much and jigger off.
The dungeon is just like I remember it being, dark, damp, and smelling of piss and shit and something I can't even begin to describe. I'm sharing my cell with some other bloke that I don't know or care to know, and the bloody idiot won't let go of my leg.
He's begging for something, that much I can tell, but when I question him, finally loosing my patience and snapping, "What?What? What do you want?" I see in horror that his tongue has been cut out of his mouth.
I back away and step nearer to the front bars, only to turn and see Gisbourne walking slowly, confidently, towards me.
"So tell me," he begins, a strange smile on his face, "Where are your friends?"
I feel sweat trickle down my neck and my spine, and I want to lick my dry lips, but that would give away the game far too early. Life's a game, you know – and to win, you have to play all sides. But, I think, if Gisbourne's got me now, I'll fight like a hero like Roy.
"What're you talking about?" I ask, calmly. Gisbourne turns away and I feel the first flame of panic lick my stomach. "Oh, not this again!" I feel triumph as he stops.
"You think I'm one of Robin Hood's men, don't ya? The one who looks like me… what's his name again? Allan, right? Allan A'Dale! My name's Tom… Tom!"
But Gisbourne is standing there, just smirking, shaking his head slowly as he looks at the ground and it's at that moment that I know I've lost the game.
Silence stretches between us and two guards pas by with a man slung between them from the far left room; he's bloody but conscious, staring at me with no emotion on his face.
This is worse than the last time I was here. There won't be any sitting in a cell, waiting for the morning to come for my appointment with the gallows. Allan A'Dale and Robin Hood and his men have caused too many problems, stolen too much money for a clean hanging.
"Don't insult me," Gisbourne coolly states. I don't reply, and he walks closer, an almost questioning look on him as he stops inches from me. "What's happened? Robin Hood kick you out, hmm?"
I look away, unwilling to reply. Why did I pick today of all days to begin a fight with Much? I could've done this back at camp, with Will and John to back me up. They know what it's like, living in poverty, without having anything and wondering if you'll make it to the next day while you're clutching your stomach tightly, trying to ignore the pains.
"Tricky working in taverns… doesn't sound very 'Robin Hood' to me."
I try one last time. "I told you, I don't know Robin Hood."
And really, I don't. It's not a lie… I know Robin of Locksley, the Lord who came back from the Holy Lands and is now a common thief. But he doesn't call himself Robin Hood, not usually… so I can get away with this fib, as long as I believe it. He's Robin of Locksley to me, always will be.
Gisbourne isn't fooled. He murmurs, "Show me some respect… and maybe we can talk about a deal."
Deal? What kind of deal could he possibly suggest? Oh, I know… here's a dagger and back to camp you go, Allan ol' boy, and while Robin sleeps, you can slit his throat. That's something Gisbourne would suggest. After all, this man left his own child in the forest, hoping it would die. He's a cruel man, living in a cruel world.
"Sir Guy? The Sheriff says it's show time," a guard informs Guy from the dark passage across from my cell, and I find my interest is piqued. Showtime? I love a good performance… but only when I'm acting in it.
Gisbourne looks down, thinking, and then takes one, good, hard look at me.
Finally, he states loudly to the two guards from earlier, "Torture him."
Panic slices through me like a hurricane. Torture? Is he mad? People don't recover from torture in Nottingham's dungeons!
I try to recover. "Hang on," I begin, weakly. I try again: "Hang on! Alright, I admit, I'm Allan A'Dale."
"Too late," chuckles Gisbourne.
The two guards unlock and reach into my cell, grabbing me roughly and smelling like sweat and blood. I'm pulled out and I try to dig my feet into the rough stone floor.
"We had a deal! You said a deal!" I shout back, as I'm pushed past Gisbourne, struggling as hard as I could.
"Too late," he replies. "It's not good anymore."
And that, as they say, was that.
I'm covered in bruises and there's dried blood from a cut on my cheek and my left eye feels swollen shut. Even if I somehow manage to make it out of this place with my life, Robin and the others would wonder what happened to me. I can't let them know – they already think I'm the loose link in their solid chain. The one who drinks; the one who gambles; the one who whores around.
Sad thing is, it's a bit true. I've never regretted my actions, but when a man faces death, everything begins to fall into place around you and you begin to wonder if the life you've lead was even worth it.
A fist slams into my gut and I want to bend over in pain, but I'm tied to a post. Instead, I winch and suck in my breath.
"Listen… listen, we can talk this out. Surely…" I plead to my jailer, weakly. I try again. "How about a little bet, eh?" I am a gambling man, after all; I couldn't stop now if the Devil himself were in front of me. "You a betting man? How about a little wager?"
A well-aimed knuckle catches me on my injured cheek and my head whips around. A taste of blood.
"That'sno, by the way," the guard replied, in a tone that reminded me of my favourite saying, not being funny, but… it was nonchalance. He did his job so often there was no fun in it anymore. It was just something to do, just like my saying was something to say, a reflective action.
My jailer is leaving me in peace. He's gone off to torture another poor, unsuspecting fool.
And he leaves me with my thoughts, but there's nothing else for me to do here; nothing but think.
What time did I leave Robin and Much behind? It was noon, at least… but there are no windows here in the dungeon and I can't tell how much time has passed. Have they missed me? Do they wonder where I am? Or are they thinking: that silly Allan A'Dale, gone off and gotten drunk with the others in the tavern and spending money on ale instead of helping the poor!
I have my reasons, you know. I have reasons as to why I do the things I do. I feel strongly for the poor and I am firm in Robin's cause. Even if I wasn't, I'd be loyal to him. He saved my life twice before: once when I was being hunted by the Sheriff's men, and then again when he saved my neck. I can never repay him for the kindness he has shown me.
Not many people have shown me kindness before. My brother and I got along as well as two brothers growing up hungry and poor could. My father has been dead nearly a score; I barely remember him. My mother couldn't pay the taxes and after that winter I found myself an orphan. But I still had Tom.
Who did you have, Robin? Who remained by your side all those years?
As the pain from my cuts and bruises overwhelms me, I succumb to darkness, with a single thought: who was there for you, Robin?
It's a bucket of icy cold water cascading down my bare shoulders and torso that wakes me.
Gisbourne is standing over me and I'm more than a little confused. Is he here to torture me with sweet, seductive prayers for a bitter and frustrated man? But I'm not the only bitter one. His eyes are rimmed red, like he's been crying – but I know that Guy of Gisbourne doesn't cry.
"Are we having fun?" he asks, sarcastically.
I lower my head in reply. Of course not, you bastard. What do you think?
He continues. "Hood was here. Did you know?" the conversation is nonchalant, like we're friends. Not being funny, but that's a particularly humour-inspiring thought.
"Didn't try to rescue you. So I was thinking, one chance to live."
I had made up my mind. "I'm not helping you to kill Robin." If I could gain anything with Gisbourne, I had to tell him what my terms were. "I'm not helping you kill anyone."
They can say what they want about me, but I have my morals.
"Yeah, I respect you for that," come the surprising words from Gisbourne, who crosses his arms and looks at the stone floor. "So let's look at this in another way, shall we? An exchange: let him go along. A little information, a little money – a conversation."
I pause to think; I wouldn't actually be stopping Robin or hurting the gang… just… slipping information here and there. No one would die because of me. No blood on my hands.
"What sort of conversation?" I ask, narrowing my eyes. I won't be played the fool, Gisbourne.
"Oh, how about this one? If I need extra guards in a building, you'll let me know. If I need to reroute a convoy… that sort of conversation. I am not robbed. Robin is not killed. You'll be doing us both a service."
Gisbourne is walking towards me now, like a predator around his prey. He's smelled a weakness in me, and is now exploiting it. I'm so ashamed, I can't look at him; but on the other hand, I need the money he is offering.
"You and I, we're the ones who make supposed betters look good. And they take us for granted. And what happens when they move on? Then it's our turn. You want to help the poor? Help yourself first." He leans close. "Make provision for the future. You'll never be named, never be implicated. This is just between you and me. You'll be my eyes and my ears. And when all this is over," he held up the money pouch, "you'll have money, and possession and you can help the poor to your hearts' content."
I lean my head against my wooden post, the one I am tied to, and let out in inaudible sigh.
I am damned.
I'm still bruised and battered from Gisbourne's punches, and those of his guards, but I'm alive and free and now a spy for the Sheriff. This was not my intent when I first joined Robin. First, it was thanks for saving my life; then it was because I believed in the cause, and now, it's because I need to survive.
As I near the camp, I can hear Robin speaking, and some of the men replying – Much or maybe Will. Not deep enough for John's voice.
"If I had died, today Much – or if I die tomorrow… you'll carry on without me!"
Robin – what are you saying?
"How?" asks Much, and I want to shake my head at his stupidity. "We are Robin Hood's men!"
"No! You are Robin Hood!"
"You are Robin Hood. And you are, and you are. All of you."
"We're not though, are we?"
Way to state the obvious, Much. Brilliant, really.
"Listen to me: listen. We are not just six outlaws in the forest. We are the spirit of England, and that is Robin Hood – and that lads… that is this country's only hope!"
"We are Robin Hood!" states John firmly, and I make my entrance; John is passing mead around. I have to stop Robin before he does something stupid. Or gets drunk.
"Hello lads!" I greet, a cheerful smile on my face.
"What happened to you?" asks D'jaq, her eyes narrowed and a small frown on her face. I panic for a moment. She can't know, it's not possible for her to know – no one must know.
"Oh, tricked one or two too many," I reply in what I hope is my best who cares voice.
Much turns around, handing me a cup. "Well, I could have told you. We are Robin Hood."
"Just say it!" Much practically snarls at me. It's a shame we don't get on – he's a pretty decent bloke, after all.
Confused, but above all, obedient, I comply with the others as everyone says loudly: "We are Robin Hood!"
I raise my cup for a toast, and then glance down – Gisbourne's money pouch is showing on my belt obviously. I lower my arm and casually drape the folds of my cloak over it, to hide my lack of loyalty.
I'm sorry, Robin. But what it comes down to is that if someone must die, better me than you, my friend. No matter what you say, about us all being "Robin Hood", it's not true. You're the legend, you're what people look up to.
And if it means to pretend to spy on you to keep you alive – or worse, actually spy on you to keep you alive – I'll do it, Robin.
Because you are worth your weight in gold, and I am not.
Final notes: Unsure about Allan's brothers' name. Settled for "Tom" and not "Lucky George" in the episode 'Brothers in Arms' from season one. I tried to be as accurate as possible for the lines, but I fubbed one or two, I'm sure.
End notes on Allan: Okay, so I wrote this after I saw episode one in season two, and it's been a work-in-progress since, and episode five just aired this past Saturday. I'm saddened that I did not accurately portray Allan, and I worry for next weeks' episode and the rest of the season! But, I did my best and had hoped Allan was redeemed – and maybe in the future he will be.