Title: Nightmares

Rating: PG

Word count: 904

Characters: Much, the gang

Summary: Much has many nightmares

Disclaimer: Robin Hood is copyright to Tiger Aspect and the BBC. All Rights Reserved. No copyright infringement is intended, and no money is being made.

He wakes gasping for air, having awoke from a vast desert, fighting for breath, it's heat scorching his throat and sand whipping at his skin. Even awake he can feel the heat of the sun, the ache of his eyes from it's bright light. It takes time for his heart to stop beating so fast, for his mind to unwind and settle down.

"Good sleep?" Allan asks with a yawn in the morning.

"Yes," he replies, the lie easier to tell then the nightmare.

Some nights he wakes with hands shaking, rubbing them against his clothing to wipe away blood no-one else can see. The blood which dripped from them in his dreams, surrounded by a sea of bodies, hollow lifeless eyes staring at him. It brings with it a nauseous feeling in his gut, forcing him to sit up and hope his stomach will calm and his body will let him rest.

"I've chopped some wood for the fire," John says, "Want help preparing those rabbits?"

Much shakes his head and tries to look grateful for the offer as he cuts away the skins and blood seeps onto his fingers, ignoring the familiar look and feel of warmth it brings.

Other nights he won't even close his eyes, because he wants to avoid the nightmares. Instead he listens as the rest of the camp sleep while he wills himself to stay awake, shifting restlessly in his bunk, hoping sleep won't come unless it's a dreamless state where nightmares can't haunt him.

"You tossed and turned all night," Will complains irritably. "You got ants in your bed or something?"

Much doesn't answer but looks apologetic. If only ants were the problem.

There are nights when he dreams of fighting unseen enemies, sword defending attack after attack. Each strike makes his weaker, he can't see his attackers faces but they seem to rise from out of the forest floor on every side of him. He downs one foe only for another to step into their place, and every time his sword grows heavier in his hand, his shield less defensive. No matter how much he yells for help, no-one comes and eventually a sword pierces through him and he awakes in a cold sweat, breathless and the feel of cold steel piercing into his stomach.

In the dark, a hand reaches into his and gives him a moment of comfort. Djaq never asks about the nightmares that cause him to cry out into the night but is always there to hold his hand, to re-assure him he is awake.

A nightmare has haunted him over the years, of Robin and impending doom and no matter how hard he tries, be it to fight down a foe or prevent a catastrophe, Robin always dies and he is left bereft. Shadows lurk in the corners of the nightmare, ready to catch them unawares, always engulfing Robin, leaving Much to suffer on alone.

Much has given most of his life to serve Robin, followed him into battle, tried to make his life as easy possible and living in the forest hasn't always been easy. Robin complains that he talks too much, that he complains too much, that his cooking leaves much to be desired.

But Much works hard to prevent the nightmares becoming a reality, because he doesn't want to live with that feeling of loneliness that he wakes with when he wakes from that familiar dream. So he puts up with his masters griping, his fellow outlaws grumblings and murmurs. He readies his sword and prepares for battle, despite the haunting memories of war swarming his mind, because he needs to protect Robin, even as Robin sets aside his own safety to save others. Robin would lay his life down for the people of Nottingham and Much would lay his life down for Robin.

"You could have gotten yourself killed," Robin angrily spits out after one particularly ugly battle with the sheriffs guards.

'So could you,' Much thinks to himself without reply.

"What were you thinking?" Robin throws down his bow and scowls. The gang have all skulked off into the camp to treat their wounds, rest their aching bodies and escape the wrath of their leader.

Much just allows Robin to let off steam and still doesn't reply. How can he explain to Robin his reasons? Robin would brush them aside as sentimental, unreasonable, unwarranted. Robin wouldn't understand and Much doesn't need him to. He just needs to know this dream that has haunted him since they were young won't become a living nightmare. He's lived the others, months crossing the desert where the sun saps at your strength and seems to suck moisture from your skin. He's struck down innocent people in the name of God, King and country, until they were standing in a sea of bodies, lifeless eyes staring up at him. Much knows what it's like to fight in a battle of unfair advantage, where the enemy surrounds you three to one and just keep on coming. He knows the feel of steel as it cuts into your skin making you wonder if this will be the blow which steal life from you.

But a life without Robin, that must remain a dream, because he couldn't live with the loneliness, that would be a burden too much to bear.