How could so much blood come from one person? The question floated through Guy's head as he watched the physician at work. She was far more efficient than that Blight fool, moving quickly, cleaning out the score of gashes that were plastered all over Allan's body. Allan was being held down, and he squirmed under the ministrations of the physician, his stifled grunts of pain reminding Guy of the torture chamber. More appalling than the screams, though was the frightful amount of blood that oozed from Allan's injuries. It was everywhere. On the doctor's hands, on the sheets of the cot they'd laid Allan down on, on pile of once-white rags that the physician had used to clean him up. Guy glanced down at his gloved hands, almost retching when he realized that the blood was on his hands, too.
"Is he alright?" Guy cringed. She was the last person that he wanted to see right now. How could he face her after committing such a heinous deed? Still, he turned to face her, shaking slightly. She wasn't looking at him, and he was almost relieved. She was instead staring at the physician, whose hands were practically flying over the numerous wounds splashed across Allan's skin.
"The burns are the worst of them. The blisters will need to be removed, and I'll keep an eye out for infection, though I can almost guarantee it will happen. If he gets through the fever, he'll be fine," The physician explained, her tone gentle, though she didn't try to dance around the issue. Guy shook his head. There couldn't be an "if he gets through!" He had to know that he hadn't just killed someone whom he considered to be a friend. He had to know that Allan would live. He had to know that Marian wouldn't see him as a hard-hearted killer. He glanced back at Marian, who had placed a hand over her mouth, stepping closer, trying to get a better look at Allan. She noticed Guy's panicked expression and gently laid a hand on his shoulder.
"You should go and get something to drink," she instructed calmly. "Something to calm your nerves." Guy nodded, obeying without thinking, marching off to the kitchen. Marian turned her attention back to Allan, who was unconscious for the moment. The guards had filed out, giving the doctor room to work. The new doctor was slightly older, but not quite old. She was actually a very nice woman, and she instantly noticed that Marian was staring at Allan's torso.
"There are so many," Marian commented quietly. The physician heaved a sigh, cleaning out a particularly dirty wound.
"There are," she agreed. "I've cleaned most of them out. He needs stitches, though. Have you any training?" Marian nodded slowly.
"A little bit," she admitted. The physician nodded.
"Will you help me sew him up? The faster we finish, the better." Marian nodded, cleaning her hands and taking up a clean needle. Allan was shaking terribly, sweat pouring down his face.
"Morgan," he mumbled in his sleep. Marian glanced up at the physician, wondering if she had heard. The older woman managed a kind smile.
"Must be the name of his sweetheart. Injured men often cry out for them," the physician noted, but she didn't seem to care enough to tell the Sheriff. Breathing a silent sigh of relief, Marian put a cold rag on his forehead, marveling at the man's bravery. He had submitted himself to torture to save his friends. Marian made a mental note to tell Robin as soon as she saw him.
Morgan didn't pause as she led the gang through her old shop, too worried about rescuing Much and making sure that Allan was alright. She took the most direct way that she could without being seen by the guards, who were all occupied with searching for Will. Morgan practically flew into the dungeon, her sword drawn, ready to fight. Thankfully, Renton was the only guard present. Noting the arrival of his mates, Much stood, gripping the bars of the cell door, which Renton promptly opened. Much stepped out of the cell, expecting to be yelled at. Surely, Robin had found out that this had all started out as his idea to trick him, and that he had recklessly endangered Will and Djaq, and that he had forced Allan to make a terrible decision.
To his surprise, Robin flung his arms around him, catching him in a bear hug. He accepted the hug, unmoving for a moment before he gingerly patted Robin on the back.
"Master?" he asked, nonplussed.
"You proved me wrong! I'm sorry, Much. I promise that I'll never ignore you again! I'll listen to every word you say! I value your advice, and I value your friendship, and if I ever act foolishly again, just say the word, and I will stop!" Robin blurted out.
"Master, we should probably discuss this later. We are still in the dungeon," Much pointed out. Robin nodded, releasing his closest friend and taking a step back.
"What about Allan? Is he alright?" Morgan asked. Little John noticed the way that Much paled and cleared his throat.
"First, we go to the camp," he said gently. Morgan seemed more than ready to argue, but she nodded, leading them out of the castle.
Guy hated that his hands were shaking. He tried to steady them, raising the goblet to his lips, taking a large swig of wine. How could he have failed to notice that he was beating his own right-hand man? How could he have failed to realize that the man he had just tortured, nearly to death, was of a completely different build than the outlaw that he was meant to have interrogated. He took a deep breath, realizing that he hadn't woken the Sheriff up yet. He shook his head, drinking more wine. No, he wouldn't bother. The Sheriff might have paraded around and called Allan his "favorite," but all that really meant to the older man was that Allan provided him with the most entertainment. He didn't really care about the man's well-being.
It was the one thing about the Sheriff that Guy couldn't bring himself to emulate: his complete disregard for human life. True, Guy had no problem bringing punishment down on outlaws and thugs, grown men who had done something to earn his anger. But he couldn't bring himself to pass the same fury onto children, or people that he called friends. But he had done it. He had nearly killed Allan. He ran a gloved hand through his hair, debating whether or not he could go back, force himself to look at the broken body that he had helped create, force himself to endure Marian's gaze. He shook his head and drained his goblet. No, he couldn't face what he'd done. Not yet.
The group had returned to the camp, not asking any questions when Robin and Much didn't follow them inside, electing instead to pick their way down to the river, sitting beside each other as they watched the water flow.
"I'm sorry, Master," Much began. "I was just so worried about you! I couldn't get you to stop and listen! I was afraid that you were going to get yourself killed, so…" his eyes returned to the river.
"It's my fault, Much," Robin said. Much's stare immediately flew back to Robin. He couldn't remember Robin ever uttering those four words in that order. Robin had never been good at heart to hearts. For crying out loud, the man acted like a little boy when he tried to express his feelings to Marian! "I should have listened to you. You are my closest, dearest friend, Much. I'm sorry that I've taken you for granted."
"I'm sorry, too. I'm sorry that I tried to trick you. I'm sorry that I talked the others into helping me. I'm sorry I got Morgan to lie to you," he listed genuinely. His voice trailed off and he stared back at the river. "Speaking of Morgan, did Renton tell you how we set up our escape?" Robin shook his head.
"No, he didn't. He only said that Allan had created a diversion of sorts," he replied quietly. Much nodded.
"Do you know what the diversion was?" he asked.
"I know that he took a great risk helping us," Robin said, "What did he do? Dress like Will and sneak out of the castle? Alert the guards?" Much shook his head.
"Will was supposed to be tortured. Allan…" Much paused. "Allan proved me wrong." He looked up at Robin, who was waiting for a proper explanation.
"I thought he was just a coward. But tonight he did one of the bravest things I've ever seen," Much confessed, adjusting his cap. "The reason that he knocked Will out was that he knew Will would never agree to what he was planning." The pieces clicked in Robin's head, and he stared at Much, waiting for confirmation.
"He switched places with Will," Much finished, a pained expression on his face.
"And Guy nearly killed him," another voice added. Robin was on his feet immediately.
"Marian, what are you doing here?" Robin asked. "It's dangerous!"
"Everyone at the castle is a bit preoccupied," she answered. "Anyway, I thought you ought to know what Allan did for them tonight. I thought you ought to know that he really does care about you all. I thought you ought to know that they'll be moving him to Locksley tonight."
"Is he going to be alright?" Much asked. Marian pursed her lips, finally shrugging.
"The physician said that he'll likely get an infection. She said that if he survives the fever, he should be alright," she reported somberly. "I have to get back before I'm missed." She spared a moment to hug Robin around the middle, kissing him lightly on the cheek before disappearing into the trees.
"Morgan will never forgive me," Much muttered dejectedly, pulling off his cap and wringing it in his hands. "This is my fault." Robin shook his head, holding his best friend.
"Everything will be alright," he comforted. Much took a deep breath, replacing his cap and returning Robin's hug. They were closer than friends, and tighter than brothers. They were Robin and Much, and that was that.
Will felt as though a tree had fallen on his head. This wasn't happening. It simply wasn't happening. Allan couldn't be on the verge of death. He couldn't have switched places with Will. He couldn't have willingly resigned himself to torture. Will took in the hollow expression on Morgan's face. They'd only heard the news a moment ago, but the color was already gone from her cheeks; her eyes were wide with disbelief. As she left the camp, undoubtedly heading towards Nottingham, Much went to stop her, followed by Robin and Little John. Will sat in stunned silence, overwhelmed by the pressing feeling of guilt.
"Will," Djaq said softly, putting her hand on his, giving it a gentle squeeze. "don't do this." Will shot her a look that she couldn't exactly read, but she knew what was behind it.
"You didn't know. You couldn't have done anything to change it," she pointed out logically. Her hand moved to his face, gently guiding his head, turning his gaze to her. He stared into her large, brown eyes, drinking in the comforting stare she'd fixed him with. His hand moved slowly to his face, gently wrapping around hers. He nodded as the guilt subsided. Subsided but remained.
"Tonight, we can go to Locksley," Djaq suggested with a tiny smile. Will nodded. He owed it to Allan. He owed it to his best friend.
Morgan peered down the tree trunk, ignoring Robin's calls for her to come down. Little John stood back, leaning on his staff, staring up at Morgan, obviously concerned. She hadn't spoken since she'd found out about Allan, and she hadn't moved since she'd climbed up the tree to get away from them. Little John's instinct told him to leave her alone. She obviously didn't want to be bothered, not that he could get to her while she was in that tree. A squirrel, he was not.
"Morgan, I'll come up there!" Robin threatened, but Morgan didn't respond.
"Master, hold this," Much requested, pushing his sword and shield into Robin's arm. To Robin's surprise, he started climbing the tree. Much soon regretted his decision, grumbling as he finally pulled himself onto the branch that Morgan had settled on.
"Morgan, you couldn't have picked a smaller tree?" he asked, panting slightly with the effort of scaling the large tree. She was crying, and as soon as he sat beside her and put and arm around her shoulder, she buried her face in his chest and cried some more. He wasn't sure what to do. "Pretty girls crying into one's chest" was really Robin's particular cup of tea. He hugged her, deciding to do what he did best. Talk.
"He's going to be okay," he began. "He will be okay because he is a fighter. The Sheriff has failed to kill him; Robin has failed to kill him. He's not about to die because of some poxy infection." To his relief, she laughed weakly through her sobs.
"There we go. Just take a deep breath," he instructed, rubbing her back. "Look, they're moving him to Locksley, so obviously the doctor thinks he'll be alright. We can all go visit him tonight." He felt Morgan nod and patted her on the back.
"Brilliant… Morgan?" he asked. She sat up, wiping her eyes, her sobs reduced to sniffling.
"How do we get down?"
He stared at the man, still reeling from how hard he'd beaten him. True, the wounds were now clean and stitched, but they were still there. Even more stressing was the fact that Allan had yet to wake up. If he would just wake up, Guy could apologize and explain that he didn't know at the time. If he just woke up, it would prove that he was going to make it. If he just woke up, it would mean that Guy hadn't done some horrible, irreversible deed. He had dismissed the guards, and only Thornton was with him in the small cottage.
Allan looked uncomfortable, but there was no way that that could be avoided. The torturer had seen to it that no part of Allan's exposed upper body had escaped the horsewhipping, or the flogging, and Guy himself had flecked the ugly burns across his back and his chest. The physician had done a wonderful job of cleaning him up and had agreed to stay in Locksley, just in case anything had happened.
"Thornton, I think I will stay here tonight, in case he wakes up," Guy explained, but as he looked at Thornton, he noticed that the man wasn't looking at him. He was staring at the window. Guy turned to see what the man was looking at. He couldn't say that he was surprised to see Morgan standing on the window sill, frozen, looking like a deer who'd spotted a hunter. Guy looked down at Allan before looking back at Morgan. Perhaps it was because he felt bad about what he had done. Perhaps it was because a part of him still considered Morgan to be like a sister. Whatever the reason, he turned back to Thornton.
"Do you see a woman standing in the window?" he asked, raising and eyebrow. Thornton shook his head.
"No, I most certainly do not," he replied.
"Neither do I. Come, Thornton. I wish to retire." With that, he ushered Thornton out of the house, sparing a final glance at Morgan.
"Thank you," she mouthed silently. He nodded and went on his way. Morgan jumped down from the window sill, moving immediately to Allan's side. The others filed in after her, crowding around Allan's bed. There are many old tales that say that a man can sense when his closest friends are near, and perhaps that's what happened as the gang waited patiently. Allan slowly opened one eye, his brow furrowing with confusion at what seemed to be a very sudden changed in atmosphere.
"Morgan?" he asked weakly.
"I'm here," Morgan answered quickly, taking his relatively unscarred hand, lacing her fingers in his. They were expecting her to cry, but she sounded calm and collected. Much recognized what she was doing. It was the same thing that he'd done when Robin had woken up from his injury in the Holy Land. She was being strong for Allan.
"Guys?" Allan asked, sounding more confused than anything. Much spoke first.
"Allan, we just wanted to say thank you," he commended quickly.
"You saved my life," Will thanked evenly, "Again. You're a good man, Allan."
"You didn't have to do what you did," Djaq pointed out.
"You were brave," Little John admitted. It was like they'd all divvied up a speech, the way that one picked up where another left off. That having been said, Allan managed his trademark grin.
"Nah, it was nothing," he gushed. He looked over at Robin, who had yet to say anything at all, and the smile fell from his face. Robin cleared his throat, looking up at the rest of the gang. They took the hint, throwing around another quick round of hushed thanks before leaving the cottage. Morgan stayed, giving Allan's hand a reassuring squeeze. Robin looked around the cottage for a moment, staying silent.
"I'm sorry, Allan," he finally muttered. Allan gawked in evident puzzlement. Robin took a deep breath.
"That day in Nottingham, after I'd banished you, you said that maybe, if I'd listened, I would have understood," he reminded quietly. "You were right. I should have listened. I'm sorry." He didn't wait to see Allan's reaction, to hear Allan muster a reply. He climbed out of the window of the cottage, giving Morgan a perfunctory nod before disappearing into the night.
"Did that just happen?" Allan asked in a quiet voice. Morgan nodded, stroking his forehead.
"Does this mean I can go back to the lads?" he asked, smirking.
"Eventually," Morgan guessed. "For now, get some rest." She planted a light kiss on his lips, moving to the window. Her instructions made him realize just how tired he was. His eyes slid shut. Sleep claimed him before she had gotten out of the cottage.
The end! Yeah, I know, the whole gang hasn't forgiven him as of yet on the show, but I think it'll happen. Seriously.
Wow, this was a really dramatic story, now that I look back on it.
I like playing around with the idea that Guy isn't completely warped.
This was actually the first story I've ever written that had a torture scene, and therefore a recovery/medical/whatever scene. I dunno how all that turned out, but I enjoyed that massive introspection that stemmed from it.
Sorry that there wasn't a wedding after all, but I did tell you not to hold me to that one…
Anyway, I hope you all enjoyed! Thanks to RixxiSpooks, Liz4, socksycherry. Stripysockz, Marian66, DeanParker, Soapy-Liedown, scorpiagirl93, Gwenyth Hunter, PetiteDiable, Pig-The-Prophetess, Ashley162, and MissWed for reviewing!