Author's Notes: Uhm. This started out as a scene between Robin and Marian and very, very quickly melted into a semi-slashy Will/Allan piece which took on a life of its own and refused to be stopped.

So . . . cool?

between two hearts


What are you doing

He thinks the cells seem bigger, somehow. He remembers the year previously, when it felt like he and his starving brother sucked up too much space, so that there was barely enough room to breathe much less move or sit or stand. But now he feels swallowed, small and miniscule and absolutely insignificant when sandwiched between the cold stone walls.

Somewhere around the corner, some poor bugger is screaming. He thinks he can relate.

"Will." He looks up, tensing at the sound of the horribly familiar voice. He imagines he can see the splinters in cracks wedged into the words, can hear the soft undertones of deceit and betrayal beneath a veneer of nervous discomfort.

He doesn't answer. He can't think of anything to say.

"Will," Allan says again, more plaintively this time. "Say something."

The carpenter doesn't obey; instead he stands and turns his back to the door, putting space and objects between them (even knowing Allan can't walk through the bars he feels safer with wood as a buffer, rather than just metal. Wood he can understand, but metal has never been anything to him but cold).

"For the love of God," Allan mutters, ruffling a hand through his hair, "Are you really just going to ignore me? What are you, seven?"

He barely controls the snarl that whips out of him, the force of the sound spinning him on his heel and shoving him in a near-lunge at the door. His fingers curl around the bars and his face presses right up against the metal, hot breath curling mist around the rail. Allan trips backward, jaw dropping, eyes wide and suddenly fearful. "Don't," Will growls, knuckles white in their fists.

He isn't exactly sure what he's demanding. Partly he wants to drag Allan into the cell and kill him, with his own two hands, to watch the life fade out of him even as he whispers his (pathetic) apologies. Sort of he just wants Allan to disappear, to vanish from the dungeon and from Nottingham and from England. Mostly he wants to hear his best friend confess that it's all just a mistake, he's not really for Guy, he's been feeding him false information, this is all just a stupid misunderstanding--

"Don't what?" Allan asks, quieter now, stepping forward cautiously. "Look, you don't understand."

Will tosses him a sideways look of disgust as he slowly looses his hold on the bars, turning from his best-- ex-best friend. "Don't I?" He asks tightly. He sets his jaw, not trusting his own voice. "We were best friends. You fought for what was right. Then Gisbourne tempts you with a few coins and . . ." He trails off. "And I realize I was wrong about you. Simple."

And it's Allan's turn to lose control, as he throws himself against the metal barricade (Will has never been so grateful to be incarcerated) and pushing so hard against it it's as if he thinks he can simply pass through. "You weren't wrong!" He cries, half-desperate and completely hysterical. "Gisbourne caught me, he-- he tortured me, Will, I thought I was going to die and I was prepared to-- I was, I swear it!"

"But you didn't!" Will turns on his heel, closing the space between then in three long strides, nose half an inch from Allan's. "You didn't die, Allan. You took the money."

"He made it seem so innocent," Allan whispered, voice cracking. "So inconsequential, like a trick at the pub, just a few secrets here or there and no one gets hurt-- not me, not Robin, not anyone and I get a bonus, that's all."

Will's voice is cold. "Roger of York is dead. And you had to know nothing between Robin and Gisbourne is innocent."

"After Roger I tried to stop it," he pleaded. "The day-- the day Robin found me I was in the pub, telling the barmaid to keep the money because it was over. When we thought Robin believed you were the traitor . . . " His eyes are fierce, and Will can feel his breath on his mouth, slipping over his lips and into his mouth. "Will, I would never betray you. You have to believe that."

He steps away, the proximity suddenly becoming too much, the words too much, he can taste them in Allan's breath and no matter how much he wants to kill the son of a bitch he also wants to forgive him. "How?" He asks, the bite gone from his voice. "Look at you, Allan. For all your pretty words, you're Gisbourne's man now. You said so yourself. You are the right-hand-man of the right-hand-man. Every breath you take from beneath those fancy new clothes is a danger to my life." He shakes his head, a sudden tiredness flowing through him. "Why are you here, Allan? What do you want?"

The other man hesitates. It seems that he is gathering strength, because Will can feel his leaving, seeping out of his body and onto the floor with every passing second that Allan doesn't present a plan for escape or some hint that he is here to help.

He hates the part of him that still believes Allan to be the clever one, the one who'll suddenly pull out a master key to the castle and claim he stole it off a kitchen maid during a fiery one-night-stand, laugh at Will's anger and ask What did you think I came here for? To talk? God you're such a woman.

"Forgiveness," Allan whispers at last.

He can barely summon the energy to murmur, "I am not God, Allan. I cannot grant you that."

"Then at least understanding," Allan amends, catching Will's eye hopefully.

Will tries to remember the last time he understood anything, much less another human being. If he's still for long enough, he can taste the bitter longing for days when he was starving and alone but so sure of everything. There was only him and the wood in his hand, waiting without fear or malice to be shaped and molded into whatever Will fancied, soft and malleable between his palms.

"That's the thing," he managed, tracing his fingers along the edge of the wooden table (a small comfort, but still something to grab onto). "I do understand." But before his words could brush comfort against Allan's brow, he murmurs, "I understand that you had a good heart once, Allan, before your greedy, poisoned mind took over."

He does not think he has ever said so many significant words at one time. And there are still more inside of him, words he must control, clawing at him, ripping his skin in their attempt to escape-- words like all you have to say is sorry.

"I never asked for your friendship!" Allan cries desperately, groping at this information is if it will save him.

Whoever had been screaming has stopped. Will tries not to think about what that may mean.

"You don't have it."

And then Allan is simply looking at him, face impassive, hands deep in his pocket, and Will is looking back, drinking in the curve and texture of his skin, locking the face into his memory, saying goodbye.

"I wanted to save you, when I found out you were here," says Allan, his words low but not whispered.

"But you didn't," he answers, not accusing, simply tired. "That's your problem, Allan. Your head always beats your heart."

The other man turns, walking slowly away, and every step feels like a mile, feels like the punctuation at the end of a tragically brief sentence. They both know that the next time they meet-- if there is a next time-- he will not hesitate to kill the traitor on the other side of the prison door.

The thought both relieves and pains him.