but it'll cost you

but it'll cost you

She is everywhere, but that does not surprise him.

Guy has also been somewhat masochistic; it's what drew him to her in the first place. It has been a long time since he's felt anything beside the slow agony of being torn between his desires and his reality; he's gotten used to its sting.

And so it does not come as a shock that Marian should follow him. Usually she wears the white dress (thathekilledherin), but sometimes he catches her in his old favorites. "He's never going to give up, you know," she tells him, sitting comfortably on his bed, a book perched delicately in her lap. "Not now."

Guy ignores her, for the most part. He usually does.

Below, in the square, he can see Robin and his band of merry men, and when the outlaw's eyes turn upwards Guy shivers. They're bloodshot and hollow, shuttered and dark. A hunter's eyes. (A Gisbourne's eyes.)

"He was going to give it all up after we married," Marian adds, and his bed doesn't creak as she gets off it, moving soundlessly to stand beside him. "Those were the conditions." He looks at her out of the corner of his eyes. She looks sad, her eyes pinned to the man below. She raises a hand, but in the sunlight it's transparent.

She's as much a prisoner here as he.

She lowers her arm, giving her head a shake. Her pretty brown curls bounce against her cheek and she turns to face him, leaning her shoulder against the wall, confined to the edge of the shadows. As close to the sun as she can get.

It's ironic, in a way. That she is sewn forever to his side, the way she ought to have been, unable to even be seen by the one he stole her from. He wishes he could enjoy it more.

Guy keeps his eyes on the scene below. Robin is slashing frantically, not caring who his sword touches, fighting with savage desperation to reach the room Gisbourne stands in. Guy's not an idiot. He knows that one day the outlaw will succeed. He's not afraid.

"There was a time," Marian says, moving away from the window and to the desk, perching herself on the chair and looking so alive that for a second he feels that old familiar ache for her, that unwanted tenderness that always crept into his voice whenever he addressed her, "when I really thought I would marry you."

He turns his head, sharply, to look at her; a small victory for the ghost, but he has all the time in the world to even the score. "What?"

"Well, you aren't ugly," she tells him dismissively, waving an imperial hand. She looks comfortable where she is. Like she belongs.

(Is this how she could have looked, if he hadn't—?)

"And you … you loved me. I knew you loved me. I could see it in everything that you did." She pauses, and he thinks her voice softens. (It's probably his imagination.) "I never doubted your love, Guy. Only your intentions."

"I would have given you more than he ever could have," he says at last, voice controlled (it always is). "I would have given you a house, security, children—"

"—but love?" She interrupts, shaking her head at him. "You cannot give to me what is mine in the first place."

"You could have learned to—"

"—Yes. I could have. But I wouldn't." She walks toward him, a sad expression on her face. She reaches out and brushes her finger across his cheek. He can't feel it but he closes his eyes anyway, imagining the warmth he might have found there a year ago, two. Imagined what she would have felt like curled in his arms, fragile heart beating. Imagined what she would have felt like handing him his first son. Imagined— "I have loved Robin since before I could pronounce his name. I could have never thrown him away."

"He threw you away!"

"Far less permanently than you did, might I remind you."

She reaches out her free hand into the sunlight and he watches it fade like memory of her warmth. Ghost two, Guy zero. He sighs. Ignoring her is the best policy. He goes back to the window. The Sherriff is shouting for him, but he won't go. He's tired of being a guard dog. The Sherriff has enough of those.

Little John and Allen are dragging Robin away by the arms. The hollow man is screaming at them to let go, clawing his way towards Guy of Gisbourne's window.

Guy wonders when they reversed roles.

"He'll be back," Marian says into the silence. She takes up her post on his bed and goes back to reading. When he turns around she doesn't look up. "He'll always come back, until you're dead. And maybe even after."

Guy sheathes his sword.