Summary: *Set after S2E4* What if Robin actually did drink the poison in order to convince Will to change his mind in saving the sheriff?
Disclaimer: I don't own anything but my own imagination. The rest belongs to BBC
A/N: This is just a short story that's been lingering on my mind, and will be posted in three parts. It is set alone, taking place after Angel of Death in which Robin actually drinks the poison instead of pretending to do so, and the events that follow.
Chapter One: I Want Tomorrow
He shouldn't have done it. There had been a voice; it was the little one that everyone had, the one that lived in the back of your head. It had warned him not to do it. Had warned him even before he had thought about it. Funny, how that worked. On how your mind knew that you were about to do something incredibly stupid even before the thought popped into your brain.
But he was never much of an expert in listening. He could remember when he was but a child, when his biggest of worries were figuring out how to wiggle his way out of an early bedtime, on how his mother used to belittle him. It was always about one thing or another; for the life of him he could not even remember what she lectured him about, just that she had. It was something he was born with, cotton stuffed in all his ears and perhaps his head too. Or so his mother always said. That much he did remember, mostly because he spent his nights trying to figure out how to get the cotton out before realizing she had not meant it in a literal sense.
Those times were so long ago…long enough now that the memory did not even seem real. It was difficult for any memory to seem real down here though. Where there was not even the smallest bit of light, and the darkness threatened to choke you if the smell failed in the task. He closed his eyes, hands covering his stomach as another wave of pain came. He thought he would have more time than this…
People were dying. It was not a pestilence; it was something fiercer than that. A devious deed, no doubt at the hands of the sheriff. The Nightwatchman, the people said. It was his pies…they did not blame him directly. Or her…Marian was the woman beneath that guise. Why would they blame him…her for it? The Nightwatchman had never brought ill fortune before. The food he found, it must have been tainted.
Yet Marian was here…a rarity now-a-days. Gisborne and the Sheriff kept her under lock and key, toted like a puppy on a leash, under the watchful eyes of the guards. She may live in the castle, but it was still a prison. She denied her part in it, something he already suspected. If Marian could not even seek privacy inside the castle, it was unfathomable that she would be able to slip out as the Nightwatchman. This made things all the more troubling though.
If it had been her, they could find a source; discover what was causing all of this mayhem. Now they were lost, grasping at the unknown while more people died. Yet out of all the foul things he had expected, he had never once thought poison. He wasn't sure what he had thought; perhaps that the food had gone bad, or someone had made a poor choice in ingredients, bringing this suffering about. Poison was just too far-fetched. It was too cruel. It was too much like the sheriff. He could have cursed himself for his stupidity.
He could remember that clearly. Coming in at the brink of the moment his men were preparing to sup. He had never intended to fire upon them. But there wasn't enough time; he had no other choice than to pray his aim was true. Afterwards, Joseph had confessed easily, it was more of a brag than anything else. He was proud of his work, despite how cruel and unseemly it was. Where the sheriff found men like Joseph, Robin could not say.
The only satisfaction he had now was that they were safe. All of his men were safe. That made his death worth it all. Already he could feel the fever, the creeping of the chill as the sweat beaded on his brow. He knew quite well how the poisoned worked. He had seen it take the old and the young, before being able to find a cure. It had been a simple chance of fate, but Robin had never been more proud of John than then.
The thought didn't last long and he grimaced, holding his stomach tighter as another wave came. It was as though he believed he could chase it away if he was only strong enough. If there was any truth to that, it would have to happen soon. He was growing weaker with each passing minute.
It had been Allan's idea on how to get through the barricade and into the castle. The guards did not know the full situation, and Robin believed that they did not even know that there was poison. They did know that Joseph was working for the sheriff however, and none of them were too keen on carrying a dead body riddled with pestilence back to the castle. There had only been one chance at getting through, and Marian, bless her, she had spoken so easily. She was quite good at lying, and it left him to wonder what other fib she had sprouted in the time past.
Then it had come to the hardest of all decisions. He blamed himself, most of all. He should have known; Will was fierce when it came to protecting his family. First it had been his mother, bless Jane, she had been a good woman. It had driven Will to thievery, and outlawry, the man trying to compensate his loss with actions that were reckless at best. Now the same had happened.
Will would not venture all the way to Scarborough just to take his brother from harm. There was no harm once outside the castle. Luke was old enough make the journey on his own. Robin knew it, and Will knew it as well. If only he had paid more attention to that fact, they would not be here right now.
'What do we do if he doesn't come quietly?'
'Then you make him.'
'But what if he won't?'
Much…the truest of his friends, a sort of a guardian angel that had followed him through the years. He was his crutch, the one person that could get him through anything, and yet drive him insane at the same moment. There was a reason he loved the man, and Robin suspected that was it. Many people told him that he was too easy on his servants, that he treated them more like playmates than actually serfs. Yet Robin could see no other way.
Much had been the only one that put up with all his hare-brained endeavors. The only one who didn't complain…well, that was not always true. Much liked to complain…he liked to complain often. Yet when it came down to business, Robin would trust no one more than he trusted the man.
He found himself quite lonely then, though the truth of the matter was that he had been so since his arrival in this dreary place. It was just the simple thought, and he could feel the tears brimming in his eyes. If he could have only one wish, it would be to see Much one last time. If only to encourage the man, to give him hope.
Bonchurch was what he had promised him . That promise had yet to come, but right now, right here, Robin did not want him to have it. He wanted the man to take Locksley. He wanted his people to be in good hands, and what better hands than those of his closest friend?
There were more reasons he wanted his friend; they were selfish enough, but he could not deny that he had them.
He was not being reasonable. Will knew the pact, the deal that was to be had. If the sheriff died…then so did all of Nottingham. Will knew it…Robin knew he knew it. But he also knew it was hard to think logically when one was hurting so. That was why he knew he had to cause another form of pain. It wasn't fair, but at the time it wasn't so much about being fair. It was about doing what needed to be done.
Will was expecting many of things more in likely. But never for Robin to charge as he had done so. That was why he was able to get the vial so easily. There was no taste, just as Joseph had said. He would not even be aware that he was drinking something if it had not been for the wetness that slid down his throat. How much he consumed he could not know. It had to be enough, enough to make the other man think.
And it did make him think. There was still more arguing, Robin trying to plead his point in an angry manner while Will defending his. Robin could understand, did understand. But Will had to understand as well. He didn't get much time. In truth he never expected the poison to work so quickly. It had taken hours for it to work on the villagers after eating, and there had been no telling how long it had taken with the sheriff. Perhaps it was because he had taken it straight, perhaps it was because he had taken far too much. He would never know.
First he was collapsing, losing his hold on Will as he went down. But in the next moment he was wrapped in a protective embrace, one that was firm and fierce, more yelling and pleading going on. It had been difficult to concentrate as the poison worked through his veins.
There was another shiver, a wave of pain as his stomach turned in on itself. It nearly stole the breath from his lungs and Robin found himself on the verge of tears as he tried to banish it all away. He longed for the same warm embrace, the arms that held him before. He knew that he was going to die, but so help him he did not want to die alone. Even if it meant another would have to lose their life, he wanted someone here.
It was more than selfish; it was downright cruel. Cruel that he would wish a similar fate on one of his own for his own desires. Though he wanted to see Much, wanted the man to be here, he could not stand to watch the other die. Could not die knowing that the same fate would befall him. Despite how willing Much would accept it. He was a brave man…far braver than Robin was.
There was also Marian. What he would give to see her one last time. Perhaps there was a chance of that. Her father was down here as well, locked away in the same dungeon far below his timid cell. She would have to cross his path if she were to visit. What would she say? What could she say?
It was better if she did not see him like this. Better if she did not know of his foolish actions. Yet he prayed that somewhere in her heart she would be able to understand why he had done it; why he had to do it. Time was not something that they had a luxury of. He had had to make Will understand, had needed to open his eyes so that he could see…
The other man had relented, now more than eager to lead the others to where Djaq was locked away. To get the antidote. Robin knew he would never be able to run that far. The sheriff's quarters were nearby, he would go there. They were reluctant to leave him, and Robin understood why. But he was only one man. If he died his death was not significant. The others would carry on in his place. But the sheriff…the sheriff's death would bring the demise of hundreds. That he could not allow.
Once they had gone he struggled to his feet, but collapsed shortly after. His stomach was seizing, twisting painfully as though someone had shoved a dagger inside of him and was twisting it all about. He could barely even crawl. It was no wonder Vaysey and Joseph had been crawling about, mewing like pitiful beasts left to wander the streets without any food. This pain was like anything he had ever experienced. Even worse than when Gisborne had stabbed him in the war.
He forced himself to crawl, scooting during the times he collapsed, but it wasn't enough. When he heard the footsteps he expected it to be the others. He was going to curse them, demand they see to the sheriff. It was an easy ploy. He would refuse the antidote until they did so.
It had not been them. Instead it had been the last person he expected. The Sheriff himself, striding down the hall with a gleeful look on his face. Robin had not been able to even stand, not even able to put on a false pretense as the other had approached. He had laughed, dangling the vial above his head, just out of his reach.
The taunting started then, but Robin could not listen. His hopes were failing, perhaps as fast as his body was. If the sheriff had the antidote, then it meant the others were caught. They would not give it up willingly. Now the sheriff would live, and they would die. Because of his own stupidity. At least Nottingham would live. At least they would survive…
He was crying now, from the pain or the memories he could not say. All he knew was that it was getting hard to breathe. His lungs were fighting for the air, no matter how putrid tasting it was. And his tears did not make it any easier.
The fever was taking a fiercer hold now, chills working his way through his body and leaving him sore. It would be soon…it had to be soon. He did not think he could deal with this much longer. There was no promise of another end. The sheriff had left him in here to rot, had proclaimed that his body would still stay in this very cell long after his death, so that it would provide food for the rats. If he was lucky enough, he would have the pleasure of dying before they began feasting.
He tried to banish the thoughts, focusing instead on the knowledge that he had been wrong. That the others had not been caught. They had made it out alright. It was a comforting thought, giving him the smallest of hopes. Djaq, without a doubt, could make more antidotes. The sheriff's poison would not work anymore with the people, and so had failed in that cruel endeavor. If the others were smart enough, they would teach others how to counteract the poison, and word would spread quickly. No one would have to suffer again like he was now.
And suffering he was. His eyes pressed closed, the fever threatening to overcome him as his stomach tightened all the more. His thoughts were starting to fade, and Robin knew the latest phases of poisoning rendered one thoughtless. He would lose the last bit of his conscious mind, slipping into whatever lay in wait for him beyond this life.
He found himself wondering if there was heaven, if it was like what it was said to be. He wondered if he would find others there; his fallen comrades in battles, friends that had passed on before him…even his parents. Will's father was no doubt up there; Robin could only imagine to what he would say to the other man once they met in the afterlife.
And in turn he would be watching out for the others. Secretly encouraging them to continue, to carry on in his name and fight the evil the sheriff brought about. Someone had to do so, there had to be hope somewhere. All was not lost simply because he was. They had to know…they had to believe.
Had to believe, that they were still Robin Hood. It was the last viable thought he had, welcoming the darkness with open arms as he was lost to the world around him.