First, I'm an American writing in a British fandom. I apologize ahead of time for any mistakes, like if I completely butchered the British school system. Second, this is rather long. It just wrote itself, creating its own universe, and generally getting longer than I ever envisioned it. (NB: The ending is where the story's will to write died and JOTM and my sis, The Muse, threw in a few brilliant lines to help me out.) Well, enjoy!
It was the first day of school, the day that instilled in every schoolboy and schoolgirl in Great Britain a sense of dread. Dan Scarlett listened in on the chatter of his boys in the back seat. Their voices were full of melancholy and dread.
"Betcha Old Vasey gives out loads of detentions on the first day," Robin remarked, rather disrespectfully.
Dan smirked slightly. He would normally have felt the need to rebuke his foster son, but considering the boy was neither far from the mark, nor overly rebellious, except when the situation demanded it, Dan decided against saying anything.
"Maybe he'd like you a little more if you actually used 'Mr.' in front of his name," Will replied dryly.
Dan shook his head, smiling. His oldest son practically idolized his older foster brother, but he could never miss an opportunity to tease the boy. This was especially true, because Will was the more law-abiding of the two, while Robin loved to flirt with danger and flaunt authority.
"Daddy!" Dan turned briefly to look at his youngest boy, his little Lukey, "I don't want to get detention!" He sounded truly distressed.
"Don't worry, Lukey. Don't antagonize Mr. Vasey and he won't antagonize you." He looked meaningfully at Robin. "You too."
Robin gave Dan his most innocent look.
"What's 'tagonize?" Luke asked, his face wrinkling in concentration.
"Antagonize—make mad," Will beamed. "It was one of my vocabulary words for the summer holidays," He went on modestly to explain.
Luke looked relieved and then a look of fear washed across his face again. "What if I antagonize him on accident?"
"You'll be fine," Dan reassured his son.
He stopped the car. "We're here. All out!"
There was the sound of shuffling of bags and bodies as the boys clambered out of the van. Dan got out as well. He hugged each of them in turn.
"Have a good day, boys. I'll be back around lunch time. Try not to get into trouble before then!" He called cheerfully, as the boys ran up the steps. They really were good boys. He didn't expect them to get into trouble. He was thankful for his handyman job; it allowed him to stop by and check in on his boys occasionally, while fixing the plumbing or electricity in the school.
"We will!" The boys chorused, turning to wave.
"Marian! Stop!" Much cried out, trying to escape his foster sister's clutches. Marian held his shoulder tightly with one hand and with the other ran a comb through the boy's unruly blond hair.
"Much! You are going to make the family look bad, showing up to school looking like a vagabond! People will think Father does not take good care of us!" Marian sighed in exasperation, but refused to give up the fight. "And did you even wash your face this morning?!"
Much squirmed."Yes! Please leave me alone. You're makin' me look like a sissy!" He spied his friend come up the steps and turned to him for help. "Robin, help!"
Robin just laughed. "What's wrong, Much? Can't even get away from a girl?"
Much scowled and jerked away from Marian, who dropped the comb with a scowl of her own.
Marian's frown turned upside down as she caught sight of Luke Scarlett. "Lukey!" She, like any good little girl, simply adored little children and Luke had the advantage—or disadvantage, depending on whom you asked—of being her next-door neighbor. She engulfed him in a hug, and he, too young yet to be worried about cooties, hugged her back.
"Your first day of primary school!" She took his hand, "Let me help you find your classroom! I get to help the P1s this year. Isn't that exciting?" Her chatter disappeared down the hall as she and the youngest Scarlett walked away.
Much and Will looked at each other and shrugged.
"Girls," sighed Robin, in a voice that clearly implied he would never understand such strange creatures and was yet unsure that he wanted to.
"I think," said Much, as they walked along, "That I get to help the P3s this year..."
Will—very maturely—stuck out his tongue.
Vasey sighed. The first day of school always gave him a headache. He was never ready for the bustle of hundreds of bratty little kids running down the hallway. Every beginning of term was the same...
On the other hand, there were always detentions to hand out... Ah, bliss.
Now where was that worthless assistant of his, Guy Gisbourne? Vasey was feeling rather smug. He had finally found someone willing to do his dirty work.
Little John was feeling quite happy. He loved to help people, so he enjoyed being assigned to help the new student. Djaq's family had recently moved here from the Middle East. Her father was teaching medicine at the local university and so Djaq had been enrolled here in Castle Primary. She was friendly and not at all girly.
"I do not understand," Djaq looked up at her guide, her accent giving a pleasant lilt to her words, "Why do they call you Little John?" Even though he was only a few years older, he positively towered over her.
"It's a nickname. My dad says it's ironic."
Djaq carefully searched her sometimes frustratingly limited knowledge of the English language. "What does ironic mean?"
Little John thought for a moment. "It's like a joke. Or when something is the opposite of what it really means." He shrugged.
Djaq looked slightly confused, but dropped the subject.
"Your classroom is right here." He opened the door to her classroom for her. "Wait for me here when you're done. We'll find the lunch room and eat lunch together."
Djaq smiled. "Thank you, Little John. You have been most helpful."
Little John glowed with pleasure. "You're welcome. See you later!"
Luke scurried down the hall, following the crowd. He hoped that they were all heading towards the lunch room. He was very hungry. He wasn't watching where he was going and that was how the trouble all began. He ran smack into a very tall, very scary man, dressed all in black. Luke whimpered.
"I'm s-s-sorry, M-mr. Vasey. I didn't..."
Luke didn't think it was possible for the man to look any scarier that he had a moment before, but he was wrong. The man's face turned fire-engine red and Luke backed away. The man grabbed him by the shoulders so tightly that it hurt and Luke could feel tears pricking in his eyes.
"I...am...not...Mr...Vasey!" The man shook Luke with every word, "I am Mr. Gisbourne! Do you understand me?"
"Y-y-yes, Mr. Gisbourne," Luke was crying in earnest now, "I'm sorry. I didn't mean--"
"Hey!" Luke turned and looked in relief at his older brother.
"Leave him alone!" Will looked fiercely at Mr. Gisbourne.
Gisbourne released Luke and turned to look at Will with a smirk.
"Are you talking to me, twerp?"
"Yes," Will straightened up bravely. He usually made a point of avoiding openly defying authority, but he would not let anyone hurt his little brother!
"Are you actually telling me what to do?"
Mr. Gisbourne was beginning to turn fire-engine red again and Luke felt fear swell in him again. Was Mr. Gisbourne going to hurt Will?
Will couldn't think of anything particularly profound to say—words were far from his forte—so he settled on an old brilliant standby: "Yeah." He crossed his arms for effect.
Gisbourne's face turned an even darker shade of red.
"Detention!" He thundered. "Now!"
Little John pointed to a table in the corner of the room. "I'll introduce you to my friends. They're good people. You might have met Will. He's in your year."
Djaq searched her memory as she balanced her lunch tray. She did not particularly care for this British cafeteria food. However, when Little John had seen her eying the food with distaste, he had said no one really liked it, so she supposed it was rather an unfair comparison to her food at home. "Will? The dark haired quiet one?"
"Yep, that would be him. Funny, I don't see him... Maybe he's finding his little brother."
Little John led the way to a table in the corner of the cafeteria. A boy and girl were sitting there. They appeared to be arguing. When Djaq reached the table, she realized by the impish smirk on his face, the boy was clearly enjoying tormenting the girl. The girl was becoming more and more agitated as she talked, her face flushing a rather unbecoming shade of red. She was rattling papers, which appeared to be the source of the argument.
"I can't believe it's the first day of school and you're already doing homework!" The boy's eyes danced merrily as he reached across the table and grabbed one of her papers. She slapped his hand.
"Leave it! And maybe if you actually did homework, you wouldn't be on the verge of washing out of school!"
The boy leaned back, with the relaxed air of somebody about to win an argument, "You can't wash out of primary school."
The girl gave an exasperated sigh, but before she could say anything else, John cleared his throat.
"Djaq, meet Robin—he's the troublemaker—and Marian. She's an angel. Robin and Marian, this is Djaq."
Marian beamed at Little John and, moving her things out of the way, beckoned to Djaq to sit by her.
"Oh," Little John explained suddenly, "The excited one is Much."
Djaq looked up to see a boy running top speed across the cafeteria, dodging under the arms of a few disgruntled lunch room monitors.
"Robin! ROBIN!" The boy bawled, as he skidded to a breathless halt in front of their table.
Djaq raised an eyebrow in amusement. Was this normal behavior? Marian, on the other hand, looked scandalized.
"Much, calm down. Breathe." Robin hopped to his feet and crossed around the table to stand next to his friend. "What's wrong?"
Much took a few shaky breaths before bursting out, "Will and Luke are in detention!"
Marian gasped, while Little John and Robin exchanged worried looks.
Djaq looked at them in confusion. Detention certainly did not sound very good, but they sounded a bit as if they were over-reacting. Could detention really be that bad? Marian saw her confusion and endeavored to explain it to her.
"It's with Mr. Vasey! He's the evilest headmaster this school has ever had! They say," She lowered her voice to a conspiratorial whisper, "Kids go in and they never come out."
Djaq leaned away, eyes wide with horror.
"Robin, we have to help them." Little John stood up and looked at Robin earnestly.
Much nodded his assent.
"We need a plan." Robin scanned the lunch room as if it could unveil one to him. His face lit up suddenly. "I think I have one."
Will shepherded his little brother into the detention room. It seemed impossibly huge. Will felt his eyes widen. Mr. Vasey's chair's back was towards them and it was impossible to see if the fearsome headmaster was even there.
"Sit!" Barked Gisbourne, pushing them towards a line of chairs against the wall.
The boys promptly followed orders. As they sat down, they noticed a pathetic figure was sitting there already. He was rather gangly, with a crooked nose, and sandy brown hair that stuck out every which direction. Will recognized him vaguely as Allan Dale, a boy in the fourth year. If Will's memory served, he was the boy who showed up to school with bruises and too-small school uniforms.
He grinned at them as they sit down. "So, what are you here for?" Without even waiting for an answer, he continued, looking cockier by the minute. "I was caught gambling."
Will couldn't quite keep his mouth from falling open in shock. Gambling! Luke, too young to know what gambling meant, just looked at the strange boy with mild interest.
Allan seemed to enjoy their shock. "Cheating, too." He shuffled the tattered deck of cards in his hand. "I was playing the Vanders twins for their lunches. I was winning, too. Betcha I'm the best card shark in the whole school."
Will, who was still in a state of shock, was willing to bet Allan was the only card shark in the school.
Luke fixated on the only part he understood—the mention of lunch. He sighed ruefully. That, he supposed, was one of the worst parts of detention: missing lunch. "Why'd you want their lunches?"
For the first time, a bit of the cocky disappeared from Allan's face. "Wouldn't have lunch otherwise," He muttered, looking at the floor.
Will felt his sympathetic heart twinge at the boy's words. He made a mental note to bring extra in his lunch to share with Allan, that was if they ever made it out of Mr. Vasey's office alive.
"Everyone clear on the plan?" Robin asked, looking at each of the members of his rag-tag gang in turn. They all nodded vigorously, even Marian, who looked the most hesitant to be involved in such a—frankly—foolhardy plan. Last of all, Robin looked at Djaq. "Are you sure you want to join us, Djaq? It's not your fight."
"It is now," The girl replied firmly. Determination was written all over her face. She hated injustice of any kind. Much had told them what had happened to the Scarlett boys and she did not think either one of them deserved detention. Besides, Will had been nice to her. He had helped her find her seat, and whenever she had gotten lost while they were reading in class, Will had reached across the aisle and showed her where they were. She looked around the table. These kids were her first and only friends in this strange, new country. She wanted to help them all. After all, that's what friends did. Also, it was a good excuse to get rid of this horrible food.
"Will was brave!" Luke was busy telling Allan all about Will's heroic deeds, oblivious to the fact that his brother was turning pink and shifting uncomfortably on the chair. "He stood up to Mr. Gisbourne and everything!"
"Wow. That's pretty impressive, kid," Allan whistled.
Will turned a shade darker of pink, vaguely resembling a carnation. "It was nothing. I bet you would have done the same thing for your brother, if you had one."
"I do," Allan nodded and actually looked serious for a moment. "I would have, too."
Will and Allan looked at each other for a moment. It was a moment of camaraderie. There in the bowels of the diabolic headmaster's lair, a friendship was formed.
"Kids of Castle Primary!" Robin stood on the table, shouting loudly above the sound of young voices. The lunch room fell eerily silent as every face in the room turned towards him. "A great injustice has been committed today! You all know Will and Luke Scarlett. They are good boys. Yet, Vasey and Gisbourne have put them in detention. All because Will stepped into save his little brother from Gisbourne! I ask you, noble kids of Castle Primary, is this right? Is this just? Will you tolerate this? I, for one, will not!"
There were murmurs of assent and confusion. The lunch room monitors, who had first been staring in shock, now lunged towards Robin.
As Robin finished his valiant cry, his gang added their voices to his. "We will not!" They cried as one.
Robin left off the table. "Charge!"
Screaming warrior yells at the top of their lungs, the small band of merry students raced towards the door. All who stood in their path were felled by the menu items of the day—a white, slimy substance the cafeteria tried to pass off as mashed potatoes and a dry concoction known as "mystery meat." It was not a pretty sight.
As they left the room, Much pulled out five straws from his pocket, still wrapped in their white packages.
"I knew these would come in handy some time," He huffed, handing each gang member one.
Robin crowed. "Much, you're a genius!"
Much blushed with pleasure. Little John high-fived the younger boy, with a grin. Marian rolled hers over in her fingers with distaste. Djaq stared at hers in confusion. What could they possibly use a drinking straw for? She watched as the boys quickly ripped off the wrappers and—to her shock—started to chew them. Marian sighed resolutely and delicately unwrapped hers.
"Save these," Robin instructed between noisy chews, "For Vasey."
Djaq watched as Marian popped a small piece in her mouth and chewed, a look of disgust spreading across her face. She gagged and Much thumped her cheerfully on the back.
"Steady up, Sis, don't swallow."
She shot him a scowl.
Djaq, still feeling, quite confused, followed suit. These British have such strange ideas...
"All right," Robin said, "Everybody ready?"
Will swallowed nervously. Gisbourne had stopped discussing with Vasey. Vasey swiveled to face them. He templed his hands.
"Well, well, what have we here?"
Gisbourne stood in the background, arms crossed and a smirk on his face.
"Do you," Vasey asked with exaggerated patience as he looked at the brave faces before him, "Have anything to stay for yourselves?"
His words were left unanswered. The boys had adapted their best staring-down-the-evil-Headmaster-in-the-face-of-certain-death faces. Vasey sighed, but not entirely without delight. Things were about to get messy...
"All right, I see we will have to do this the hard way. Gisbourne, bring the littlest one to me."
Luke gasped and clung to his older brother in terror.
"No!" Will cried, wrapping his arms around Luke.
"Yeah!" Allan lunged forward to stand between Gisbourne and the Scarletts. He was not going to let anyone hurt his new friends.
Gisbourne advanced menacingly, a definite sneer on his lips...
"Now," Robin turned towards Djaq, "Spitballing is an art. Have you ever tried it?"
Djaq shook her head.
Robin grinned roguishly, "I'm about the best that's ever been. I can hit a man from a thousand yards off. You see that locker?"
Djaq craned her neck. "No."
He put the straw to his lips and blew. "I hit it." He looked smug.
"How can you be sure? You can't even see it."
"He didn't," whispered Marian to her.
Robin scowled and started to argue, but Little John cut him short. "Robin, focus! We must save Will and Luke!"
Robin held up his hand to stop them all before they reached the door.
"Killing we do not do," Little John spoke, his voice resonating in the hallway.
"Little John, you can't kill somebody with a spitball!" Marian protested.
Robin looked annoyed that his dramatic speech had been derailed.
"We get in, we get Luke and Will, and we get out. No showing off."
"That includes you," muttered Marian.
Gisbourne lunged at Allan. Vasey chuckled evilly. The door burst open. Spitballs began flying in. Allan took advantage of the distraction to lunge out of the way. Gisbourne fell in a rather comical heap to the floor.
"Get up, you idiot!" Vasey bellowed, covering his face. "Do something!"
"Will! Luke! Here!" Robin beckoned to them. Much threw each boy a straw.
Vasey and Gisbourne struggled in vain against the deluge of spitballs.
"Freedom!" Robin hollered jubilantly, following his gang out the door.
"After them!" Vasey wiped spitball residue from his eyes.
Gisbourne attempted to follow them, but his impaired vision only resulted in him running head first into the door post.
Dan Scarlett pulled his van up to the door, cheerfully humming. It had been a good morning so far for him and he hoped the boys could say the same. He had just been about to get out of the vehicle, when the doors of the school suddenly burst open. The sight froze him to the spot, open-mouthed. Will burst through the door, followed by a boy Dan didn't recognize. Marian and a girl Dan did not recognize either followed. Last of all, came Little John, with Luke on his back, and Robin. Dan still had his mouth open when Will opened the door and called, "Get in!"
Eight breathless, laughing children piled into the back of the van.
"Go! Go!" Several voices shouted at once.
Dan did the only thing a man taken by complete surprise could do: he stepped on the accelerator. As the van shot out of the school parking lot, he turned to briefly search the faces for his eldest son.
"William Locksley Scarlett, what do you have to say for yourself?"
Well, what did you think? I hope you had as much fun reading as I did writing it. I put time and effort into this, though, and I would love it if y'all would take a minute and drop me a review. They cost you nothing and make me happy! Please be considerate--if you add this to your favorites or put an alert (despite the fact it's finished) on it, please review and let me know what you liked. Thanks ahead of time! :)