Title: Brilliant Disguise

Rating: PG-13

Characters: Guy, Marian, Robin/Gang

Disclaimer: The characters herein are the property of the BBC. All rights reserved. No copyright infringement intended and no profit is made by the author.

Summary: She fought down the hysterical urge to laugh as she wildly wondered whether she could overcome the confused mix of feelings she had for Guy and sink the dagger into his chest in order to protect Richard.

A/N: Assumes a very different ending to S2's journey to the Holy Land

Chapter One

"Sire, you must listen to me," Marian urged as she boldly reached out and laid a hand on the King's arm. Her eyes blazed with the intensity of her resolve. "You must leave this place," she told him. "Vasey and his men are on their way. They will not stop until they see you dead!" she cried.

"The Black Knights are loyal only to your brother and the Sheriff," she told him. "Come away, my lord," she pleaded. "While there is still time."

Richard laid a hand over hers. "Are there none among the Knights who are loyal?" he asked softly.

Marian thought of Guy and dropped her gaze to the floor, conflicted as ever by her feelings for him. Though she would not condemn him by giving voice to his name, neither would she lie to her king.

"None, my lord," she whispered. "There are none."

She drew in a deep breath and raised her eyes to meet the King's.

"I fear that they are not far," she told him. "Hood and his gang were gaining ground on them when Robin sent me on ahead to warn you, but I am not sure if they were successful in catching up to Vasey and his men."

"And you were tasked with saving me?" Richard asked with an indulgent smile.

Marian's temper flared as always when faced with a patronizing male.

"Yes," she said through gritted teeth. "If you would but listen and come with me!" She fought the childish urge to stomp her foot in frustration when he merely shook his head and smiled serenely.

"At least permit me to increase the size of your personal guard," she pleaded.

Again, Richard shook his head. "There are men enough in and around this house," he told her. "I do not wish to have my every move monitored by my guards."

A sudden commotion outside the room silenced the retort poised on the tip of Marian's tongue and she moved instinctively in front of her king. The door flew open and she was startled to see Guy, wild-eyed and out of breath, burst into the room. Blood matted his dark hair and trickled sluggishly down the side of his face from a wound hidden somewhere near his hairline. Her heart sank as he staggered toward them and her fingers gripped the handle of the dagger at her waist. She fought down the hysterical urge to laugh as she wildly wondered whether she could overcome the confused mix of feelings she had for him and sink the dagger into his chest in order to protect Richard.

Her gaze flew from Guy's face when Robin strolled into the room only a few steps behind his nemesis. In a movement at direct odds with the relaxed confidence of his demeanor, he reached out with one hand and brutally shoved Guy to the floor. The Sheriff's lieutenant swayed as he pushed himself to his knees.

"Robin!" The King's voice rang out. "What in God's name is going on?" he demanded.

Robin stepped forward, his sword gripped tightly in one hand. "My lord, this man was sent to kill you," he stated grimly.

"Sire…" Guy struggled in an attempt to climb to his feet. Robin reached out with his free hand and grabbed a fistful of the other man's hair, viciously yanking him back to his knees and laid the edge of his sword against the vulnerable column of his exposed throat.

"Not another move, Gisborne," Robin growled. "Or I will slit your throat and end your miserable existence now."

Marian watched fearfully as Guy subsided and sank back onto his heels. His gaze locked onto the King's.

"My liege," he began, entreaty evident in his voice.

Richard took a step forward and gently pushed away Marian's protectively restraining hand. He moved across the room until he stood directly before the two men.

"Release him," he ordered Robin, never taking his eyes from Guy's face.

"Sire," Robin protested. His grip instinctively tightened on Guy's hair, causing the other man's face to contort in a pained grimace.

"Robin," the King said softly. "Release him now."

Robin reluctantly let go of Guy's hair as he slowly lowered his sword to his side. His entire body quivered with visible agitation at the King's dangerous proximity to Guy, and Marian's own tension was noticeable with every rapid, shallow breath she took.

Guy straightened his back as the King stood over him.

"Do you have it, Guy?" Richard asked. Marian was startled by the easy familiarity with which the King addressed the dark-haired man.

"No, my lord." Guy shook his head and lowered his gaze.

"Guy."

Disapproval and disappointment colored the King's tone causing Guy to tip his head back and raise his gaze to meet the monarch's.

"Hood has it."

Richard turned his attention toward the sandy-haired man standing beside him and held out an imperious hand.

"If you please, Robin."

Confusion marred Robin's handsome features.

"I… I don't…"

"The pact," Guy growled. "The King wishes to see the pact."

Robin's gaze darted around the room, almost relieved when he realized that everyone else was just as bewildered as he. Everyone, it seemed, with the exception of the King and Guy who appeared to be holding a wordless communion. He reached into his tunic and withdrew the parchment, handing it over with obvious confusion.

"We found Gisborne trying to escape with this on his person," he told the King.

Richard unfolded the document and ran his eyes over the list of names at the bottom.

"Did everyone sign?" he asked.

"Yes, my lord," Guy replied.

The King barked out a short laugh. "What took so long?"

Marian and Robin shared looks of complete bafflement at the strange exchange between the two men.

"Some were… reluctant to sign," Guy admitted.

"Ahhh…" the King nodded. "So some felt at least a remnant of loyalty," he guessed with a satisfied tone.

"No, my lord," Guy explained. "More a reluctance to provide written evidence of their treachery."

Richard continued to study the document in his hands. "I see your name here, near the top, Guy," he remarked idly.

"Indeed, my lord."

Marian was startled by the familiar smirk on Guy's face and his almost flippant response.

"It would have been difficult to convince the others to sign if I was not willing, even eager, to do so myself," he continued.

Richard made a face. "Mmmm-hmmm," he conceded dryly. "I do see your point." He rolled the parchment and idly tapped it against the palm of one hand.

'I trust you did not coerce anyone into signing."

"Of course not, my lord." A trace of indignation colored Guy's voice. "The names there represent men who have willingly embraced treason against the Crown."

"All but one, eh?"

"All but one, Sire." Guy confirmed and looked steadily into his King's face to see the monarch's lips quirk into a small smile. Only then did he allow himself to relax as, with a pained sigh, he sank back onto his heels and dropped his chin onto his chest.

Richard reached down and stroked one hand over Guy's bowed head.

"Well done, lad," he said softly. "Come. Rise, Sir Guy."

The King held out a hand and helped Guy to his feet.

"My lord!" Robin protested hotly. "This man is a traitor!"

"No, Robin," the King flatly denied. "He is loyal."

"Marian," Robin cried. "Tell him."

"Sire." Marian stepped closer, bewilderment etched onto her lovely face. "Evidence would…" Her voice trailed off as Guy turned his face to hers. Tired resignation and betrayal played across his hawkish features.

"My lord," she continued in a pained whisper. "Robin and I have known this man for several years now and have seen…" Her fingers toyed with the gold cross hanging around her neck in agitation. "I urge you to use caution," she finished lamely.

Robin snorted in disgust as her unwillingness to lay bare the evidence of Guy's many crimes. He opened his mouth to give voice to the damning litany but was stopped when the King lifted a forestalling hand.

"You have known him for several years," he acknowledged. "But I have known him since he was a babe in his mother's arms," Richard said. "He is my godson."

TBC