A HUGE thanks goes out to my beta, sylvi10!

Allan ran faster than he ever had before. Going from being tied up for hours to pounding across the forest floor had made his legs stiff and every step agony, and his wrists burned with the raw lacerations from the ropes he had been tied with, tied up and left alone by his own comrades, his friends. Some friends they turned out to be, he had fumed as he stood there. I gave them everything I had, risked my life over and over to fight their battles. And this is how they thank me for it.

Allan A'Dale had never been a quick-tempered man, preferring to absorb others' wrongs against him instead of deflecting them back. But he had felt true rage before, that union of ice and fire that made a man willing to kill for retribution. The last time he had felt it, he had been standing on a thin beam over a cauldron of boiling pitch. But even then, through a driving hatred and freezing ire, in the duskiest corner in the back of his mind Allan had been angry with himself as well. Everything is a choice. That was what made this time different from all the rest. Isabella's proclamation had come out of nowhere for Allan just as it had for the others; for once, he hadn't done anything wrong. In fact, he'd barely done anything wrong for nearly a year, ever since he had returned to England with Robin, Much, and John. After seeing just how closely death lurked in every shadow when Marian had lay bleeding out on the ground, Allan had developed a gratitude for this chance to prove himself once more. He had thrown himself into his work, obeying Robin's every order, not complaining when he was woken from a kip to go on a mission (no matter how much the rest was needed), and even restraining himself from teasing Much unless he knew the cook was in the mood to take it. And while his friends really hadn't seemed to take any notice of the change, they hadn't directly mentioned Allan's past transgressions, either. But he had been a fool, a fool to think that they would ever forget them, or even try and let them go. That was what made this anger different from all the others. It wasn't rage he felt this time; it was hurt. Immobilizing, hopeless hurt. Was this how they had felt when he had sold their secrets?

But he had done his time, hadn't he? Surely all of what he had put into this, even giving up a chance to forever leave Nottingham and all the memories it forced at him, just to do his penance, it had to have been enough... But of course not. When had the good in Allan's life ever equaled the bad? He didn't go around every day dwelling on it, of course, but deep within himself he knew it was true. He had been lying to himself.

He had stayed there with that thought for hour upon hour, shivering uncontrollably from the cold rain and feeling the unforgiving sting of the ropes eating away at his wrists just as the old guilt and fresh betrayal ate at his heart. But then Tuck had come flying into the camp, knife in his hand, a look of urgency mixed with unbelievable grief in his dark eyes, and Allan had forgotten everything.

Robin Hood was dying.

Tuck had told him about Guy, too, as he cut him free, but Allan had no time to grieve for him just yet, not while he might at least get a chance to say goodbye to Robin. For even though his leader's last words to him had been an unfounded accusation, he was still Allan's friend, the man who had saved him from the gallows and given him a new purpose in life, and a family, even if those relationships had been eclipsed by misunderstanding and fear. And Allan still loved him.

Tuck and Allan reached the clearing from one side just as Much, Little John, Kate, and Archer appeared from the other. In the center was Robin, on his knees, his eyes turned skyward toward the setting sun. He murmured something that Allan could not hear, and then Much asked quietly,

"Is it true?"

Robin nodded. "The final battle." His voice was somber, yet accepting. That was Robin; valiant to the bitter end. He had known that his cause would be the death of him one day; he had been waiting to welcome it with open arms, Allan suspected, since the moment that he had held Marian's still form to his chest.

But as Robin looked at the small group of outlaws, Allan could see the reluctance in his eyes-even Robin, who might think the arrival of death to be such a blessing, could hardly have realized what a terrible burden it would be to say goodbye. Tuck moved forward toward their fallen leader as the others did the same from their side of the clearing, but Allan found himself hanging back with the strange and awkward sensation that he was intruding on a private moment to which he had not been invited. He stood there alone as Robin bid his farewells, first to the heartbroken Much, and then to the incredulous John, the reluctant Archer, the resigned Tuck, and the grieving Kate. She nestled her head onto his shoulder for a moment and Robin murmured.

"I'm sorry I have to leave you. All of you."

So that's how it would be, then. Robin was finished, had said his final goodbyes. And Allan was still standing there in the back, always the outsider, the unwelcome sinner at the table of the righteous. He bowed his head in despair.

Just then Robin swept his eyes one last time over his small group of friends and caught a glimpse of dark chestnut hair, obscured by the other outlaws who were standing in front. Swallowing past a throat dry with affliction and grief, the fallen legend spoke with a cracked voice.

"Allan...you came."

The young thief's head shot up at the sound of his own name. The rest of the Gang parted so their leader could lay eyes upon the man who just this morning he had been convinced was the scum of the earth. But now Allan could see the need in his eyes, that unsettled look that was never a good thing in a dying man. And that gaze was focused upon him.

"Yeah. Yeah, of course I came." Tentatively, he approached the man who had shaped the path of the last several years of his life, and Robin wrapped him unhesitatingly in an embrace. Allan felt his own body stiffen momentarily, but then remembered himself and returned the gesture, hoping that Robin had not felt his discomfort.

"Allan, I am so sorry..."

Allan longed to say something that would put the dying man at ease, something like "That's all right, mate," or "We all make mistakes", anything. But he found that he couldn't bring forward any words. He suddenly recalled Djaq's recollection to him of saving Marian's life when she had been stabbed for the first time by Gisborne. The Saracen woman had become the closest thing Allan had had to a rock when they served in Robin's Gang together, a sturdy, stable place where he felt the safest and most comfortable. Allan had always looked up to her values, and to Djaq herself-he thought that if someone could lose their family to a group of people and then risk their life for the same group of people because they believed in something, their words deserved more than a passing thought. Those words had once been Djaq's father's and were now her own creed, a creed whose upholding had been her final request to them all before their Gang had parted ways.

"I have seen during these past weeks that this war is far from over, as is our fight. I do not know when or how this will end, and my heart tears with the knowledge that the carnage we have seen here, in my homeland, is to be reflected in yours, now more than ever. No matter what horrors you may see, I ask that you all, my dearest friends, promise me this one thing-that you will allow those who have little time to hold on to their dignity to preserve it. Do not lie to a wounded man, and never lie to a dying man."

Allan shivered.

It was that thought that caused him to cast his eyes guiltily upon the ground at the moment Robin released the embrace.

"Allan...Allan look at me." Slowly, Allan did, and it seemed to him that Robin's green eyes were brighter than they had ever been, be it in mischief, pain, or love. He had to steel himself against pulling away from that gaze, from the terrible urgency in it, because these were quite possibly Robin's final words; he had no choice but to give them his attention.

"I was wrong to mistrust you. The others...they were just following my lead. They would have believed you if I had. You've changed. I should have seen that. You've become the man you strove to be, Allan."

Shocked, all Allan could do was stare at him, not daring to hope that his words were true. After standing tied up so long in the camp, running the events of the past several months through his head-the suspicious glances in his direction when they thought he wasn't looking, the "hands up who hasn't betrayed the Gang" jokes, the way the atmosphere seemed to grow uneasy whenever he contributed anything to a plan that involved infiltrating the castle-how could he believe this sudden change in perspective now, even in such dire circumstances? Become the man I strove to be? How could Robin know? How could Robin Hood, champion of the poor, noble Crusader and war hero, already lauded throughout the land as one of the greatest philanthropists the world had ever known, know what it was to have done something so selfish and hurtful that it tormented your dreams, made you wake up shaking, soaked through with sweat and fighting tears because you had seen soldiers advancing on your unknowing friends and you wanted to scream "turn around!", but you were too far away for them to hear you? How could he know how hard Allan had to try, every single day of his life, not to think about the horrible things he had done, because if he dwelled on them, he would be utterly consumed by the hopelessness of the plight he'd gotten himself into? And he had been so close, so very close. The illusion had been so real. He had finally started to feel like part of a team again, maybe even a part of a... But no. How could he ever have been so stupid as to believe that he could ever be a part of anything again?

"And I am proud of you."

The statement seemed so utterly out of place with Allan's thoughts that he almost laughed. But then Robin grasped the back of his neck with his hand, the same gesture he had done so long ago when Allan had quite by accident swallowed a plant that had made him very ill. The action had frightened Allan then because it had forced him to look into Robin's eyes, and he had seen such worry and concern there that he had been completely convinced that whatever was in that plant was going to end his life. It frightened him now as well, because this time there still that look of immediacy that told Allan that Robin was a man with unfinished business, and they all knew that his time ran direly short.

"Allan, I need to know..." Robin's words were cut short by a hiss of pain as his knees buckled. Allan leaned forward to catch him, his slight form nearly collapsing with the weight.

"Steady, Robin," he murmured, guiding the poisoned man carefully downward to sit upon the leaf-littered ground. "You just take it easy..."

"No, Allan, it's too late for that. I have to know that you believe that what I say is true. You are a good man, Allan, and I need to know that you know it."

Had Allan been standing, he would have stepped backward away from the archer in surprise. So this was the cause of that haunting urgency. The fire in those green eyes was more intense than ever now. For a moment their spark lit within Allan the same anger that he had experienced when Robin had first left him tied up in the rain, forbidding him to fight with his friends and throwing everything he had just begun to believe into a downward spiral. After causing Allan to call his own morals and motivations and place in this world into question a mere few hours ago, how could Robin ask him to believe in himself once more?

But then Allan saw that there was something else in Robin's eyes as well; physical pain and utter exhaustion. Even the short speech seemed to have cost his strength terribly, and Allan realized that he needed to speak now, for Robin was fading quickly. Djaq's words flashed through his mind again, chilling him with the thought of what he was about to do. But he had no choice. He was stuck, just as he always seemed to be.

"I know it's true, Robin. I believe you, and I believe in myself. I do." Allan laid a hand on Robin's arm and squeezed it, forcing a smile. Robin nodded, and Allan was relieved to see peace finally come over his visage. The archer made a weak attempt to get to his feet, and Allan slipped an arm around his back and helped him stand. Robin swept his gaze one final time over the small band of outlaws with whom he had changed the world.

"I'm sorry I have to leave you..." he said again, his voice hardly a whisper by now. "But I have to do this alone." And with that, he turned and began to amble deeper into the forest, like a wild animal seeking solace in the privacy of the last moments of its life.

And all Allan could do was stare after him, a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach. For just this morning he had been an innocent man blamed for a crime he had not committed. Now, as the sun vanished behind the trees, his accuser had called him a good man, but Allan could barely even feel his grief as guilt churned like bad meat within him. And suddenly he could hear Djaq's lilting voice again, whispering in his ear.

Never lie to a dying man.

With that beautiful sound, the horror of what he had just done struck him like a thousand arrows, and he realized that he could not stand to be in this place, with these people, for a moment longer. He inhaled with a stifled gasp, turned, and fled back toward the camp. He doubted anyone would notice his absence.

His path ended up leading him not to the camp, but past it. He just kept running and running, completely ignorant of where he was going, until the lack of physical land forced him to stop lest he tumble into the stream.

The stream. This was where he had been going all along. He did not need to look around him to know that he was standing between the trunks of two giant oak trees, which had innumerable times provided shade from the summer sun, shelter from the wind and the rain, and support for when one just wanted to rest. The stream was a source of life-the crisp, clear water it gave had kept them alive for years. But it was also a vessel of fellowship, and of peace. This spot in particular had been a haven for three people in the best days of their lives, a place of laughter, of joy, of tears, of comfort, of rest, and of friendship. Now Allan was the only one left, and never in his life, a life that had often been so bereft of company and companionship, had he felt so terribly alone.

"Please stay, Allan. You can live here with us in Bassam's house, make a new life."

"I can't. I 'ave to go back."

"But why, Allan? You have nothing to prove."

"I 'ave everythin' to prove."

How noble his intentions had been! Those words had probably been the most noble he'd ever spoken. As much as it had broken his heart to leave them yet again, he had known that he could never stay there without proving to himself that he was the man that the only two people who had ever truly believed in him thought he was. He was going to go back to the Holy Land; it had always been his intention to go back. But he had wanted to take that step with a full heart-it was to be his rest, his reward for his loyal service, and for his penance, a life of bliss to be lived out with the two people he loved most in the world. But he could never do that now-the Gang's betrayal had brought the fragile framework of self-confidence that he had labored for months to build crashing down about him in one terrible moment, and now Robin's death had destroyed any chance he might have had at rebuilding it. But that didn't matter anyway; he was already too weak from his labors to try again. No, there was only one thing left for him to do now. He would return to them, but not in the way that he had planned. He hadn't need of any trumpet fanfares, nor did he possess a desire to shout his accomplishments for all the world to hear-all he had wanted was to be able to smile at them and say that he had done it, and that he was free. But now he couldn't even have that. Instead he would come back to them a shattered, weary shell of a man, and he knew that while they could slowly, painstakingly piece him back together through a curtain of their own tears, there would always be cracks. He had fought this battle one too many times to ever be whole again.

The hopelessness of that final sentiment, mingled with his grief for Robin, finally overtook him, and he sank trembling to the ground beneath the larger of the two mighty oaks. And for the first time in a very, very long time, Allan A'Dale wept.

He opened his eyes to the palest beginnings of a dawn; it took a few moments for him to realize that a hand gently shaking his shoulder had been what had aroused him.

"It is time for you to wake, my friend." Allan recognized that voice, the depth and regality of it.

I wasn't your friend yesterday.

The monk had obviously caught a glimpse of the blue irises, for Allan suddenly felt a hand beneath his head and a cup being pressed to his lips.

"Drink. It's only water."

He didn't want to give Tuck the satisfaction of obeying, but Allan hadn't eaten or drank since the previous morning, since before John had slammed up against that support beam, and he was so thirsty. He felt the blissful coolness fall past his lips and into his throat, and he swallowed automatically. After a few sips, he sat up slowly, and Tuck handed him the cup so he could drink by himself. When he had finished, he put the cup down and suddenly recoiled backward when he saw Tuck reaching for his hand.

"I must clean those wounds, Allan."

His wrists. The raw rope burns had began to scab in the night, but Allan could see the dirt caught within the new skin covering.

"You didn't seem to 'ave a problem with me gettin' 'em in the first place." He glared at the monk accusingly.

Tuck didn't answer. He just reached for Allan's hand again, and though he was loathe to give it, Allan had suffered from blood poisoning before, and it had made him sick nearly to death. He had no desire to endure that ever again, especially without Djaq and Will to see him through it. He relinquished the appendage, and winced as Tuck began to scrub at the cuts, drawing fresh blood to wash out the filth. Allan cast his eyes downward as the monk did his work, occasionally letting out a hiss of pain. Tuck was not nearly so gentle in his ministrations as Djaq had been. He missed those small, deft fingers and that sweet, songlike voice telling him that all would be well soon, as well as the larger, stronger hand of Will on his arm, a wordless conveyance of comfort and support. No doubt they would do the same things for him when he told them the news, but he still worried. Beneath the loving embraces and soothing words, would they be ashamed of him as well?

"John said I might find you out here." Tuck's words broke suddenly into his thoughts and Allan started, stifling a hiss as the sudden movement jarred the monk's cloth upon his lacerated wrist.

"No surprise it took 'im this long to figure it out." He did not try to keep the bitterness out of his voice.

"We thought you had taken off, and Archer and I have been busy dealing with the others' grief. We've lost two members of our group, including our leader, Allan. Everyone's taking it hard."

Two members of our group. Two. In his lamentations surrounding Robin's death, Allan had completely forgotten about Guy until this moment, and suddenly he felt an ache within him where he had thought there was nothing left to damage. For years the Gang had considered Guy of Gisborne one of their primary enemies, but while working for him, Allan had seen Guy try to be good-when he defied the Sheriff, or fumbled kind words to Marian, or helped to save her from the hangman's noose. He had made some terrible mistakes, one in particular, and when Robin had suddenly brought him into the camp and told everyone to accept him as an ally, Allan had been wary immediately. But Guy had proved himself a valuable asset to the team, and for a very short time, Allan had begun to believe that perhaps there was hope for this man who had gone so low as to murder the woman he loved. And if Guy could find redemption and be whole within himself, then maybe, just maybe...

But just as that redemption had come, death had followed swiftly, and with Guy had perished all of Allan's hopes of what it might mean for himself. Not that they mattered anymore, anyway. Now the both of them, Guy and Allan, were just two grains in a mound of salt immersed in water-never would they be able to recover what they had lost. Allan swallowed hard and cast his eyes upon the ground.

"After you left yesterday, we decided that we will carry on our fight against Prince John in Robin's memory. It's what he would have wanted, don't you think?"

Allan did not move, did not answer. Carry on. The words sounded so foreign to him; he couldn't even think of carrying on. He would never carry on again, because his final chance for doing so had died with the legendary Robin Hood.

Tuck finished wrapping the final bandage and said his name again, obviously bothered that he was not answering his questions.

"Allan?"

Allan laboriously raised a pair of dull, lifeless eyes toward him. Tuck gazed back with an intensity that was obviously designed to light a fire within his soul and said,

"Allan, if you want to prove to the world that you are a good man, the best way to do it is to continue the fight! Help us help the poor, unseat Prince John, and restore England to its rightful state!" The conviction in the monk's voice would have been inspiring, but by now Allan's heart was a forest scorched by an extended wildfire. Every inch was blackened, charred; there was nothing left to burn. His own voice sounded unbelievably weary to Allan when he responded.

"Why would I try to prove somethin' that isn't true?"

Leaving Tuck with a stunned expression on his face, Allan rose and, shoulders slumped, made reluctantly for the camp.

Normally when he pulled that ingenious little lever, Allan would always feel a sense of warmth and anticipation wash over him as the door-in-the-hill swung open to reveal the closest thing he had ever had to a real home. He had never been without his insecurities, even there, but there had always been a warm fire, and relative shelter, and best of all his friends. Allan had always enjoyed watching that door open.

Now, however, it was with a heavy heart that he watched the barrier fly upward, for he knew what he would find behind its protection. Where there was once cheer, there was now sorrow; where there was company, there was now loneliness; where there had once been the tiniest, nearly unnoticeable bit of promise, now only distrust and regret remained.

The camp was predictably quiet, each of the Gang members nursing their grief in their own, private way. Little John lay on his side in his bunk facing away from the center of the camp, his face hidden by a tangled mass of fur-like hair, but Allan could tell from the tenseness of his muscles that he was not asleep. Kate, too, lay on her bunk, but her breathing was even and her face peaceful, though tear-stained-it was obvious that she had finally cried herself to sleep after many hours of grieving. Archer sat near the back edge of the camp, obviously feeling as though he was not quite worthy to share in the others' pain, though he had just lost two blood members of his family. Much stared with equal silence into the flameless ring of stones that was the fire pit, his knees pulled up to his chest, his hands wrapped around them. His face was reddened and splotched with tears, and occasionally his breath would shudder. His reaction of turning toward Allan upon hearing him enter the camp was severely delayed, but when he did, Allan was shocked at how glad he seemed to see him.

"Allan, you came back! I...we thought you'd left for good." He lowered his eyes guiltily and pulled his knees up even tighter to himself. Looking at his wilted form on the ground, Allan realized that he felt no resentment anymore toward Much or any of the others for their actions and words against him the previous day. Because now he knew that he had deserved them after all. Instead, he felt his heart tear for the former manservant, separated from the one person that he had loved the most in all the world. Allan knew only the slightest bit of what he was feeling-his relationships with Will and Djaq had been so different from the one that Robin and Much had shared, and for Allan there had always been the promise of seeing them again-but he knew that it couldn't feel good. Who would have thought that, for all of their differences and quarrels, Allan would find Much the hardest to leave behind? But now here he was, about to take away forever someone else that Much cared about; he was betraying a friend yet again. Funny, he thought with an exhaustion tinged with cynicism, how your true colors start to shine through in your actions so quickly after you realize who you really are.

Not trusting himself to speak, Allan went silently to his bunk and began to gather up his meager belongings and wrap them in his blanket, ignoring the stares of Much, Little John, and Archer piercing his back. He then heard Tuck reenter the camp, and Kate sit up at this new disturbance, and realized that everyone's attention was fixed on him. Finally, he heard Tuck's voice again, quieter and more subdued than it had been when they had sat at the stream bank.

"You really are leaving, aren't you?"

Allan swallowed and nodded, not looking up from his packing.

"Please don't leave, Allan." Much's voice cracked. "I'm sorry I didn't listen to you yesterday. We all are."

Allan tied a knot around the contents of the blanket-sack and turned to face his friend. "I know, Much," he said softly.

"Then why are you leaving?" Little John's voice was still layered with the grief of losing Robin, and this combined with his frustration and misunderstanding and anger gave it a sort of desperate intensity that normally would have made a similar emotion arise within Allan. But the exhaustion in his heart was just too thick to be surpassed by anger or even self-defense.

"Because there's nothin' left for me 'ere, John," he said wearily. "None of you 'ave trusted me since we got back from the 'oly Land." He gave a dry, emotionless chuckle. "For awhile I was even naive enough to believe that you 'ad..."

"We did!" John's voice was defensive.

"Did you?" Allan spoke the question quietly, letting his point sink in. The camp was uncomfortably silent. After several seconds of no response, Allan spoke again.

"But you were right not to, I realize that now. The things we do, the choices we make, the crimes we commit-they stay with us our 'ole lives, no matter what we do to try to make 'em go away. And it all gets so much worse when you 'old your dyin' friend in your arms and 'is last request is for you to tell 'im that you believe in yourself, and you 'ave no choice but to lie to 'im because he's dyin', for Christ's sake!" He broke off with something akin to a hopeless sob, and found that he was physically shaking as he relived that awful moment all over again. That look of peace on Robin's face, perhaps the last that had ever graced it, had been the start of the eternal turmoil in Allan's heart. And the worst part was knowing that he would be forced to relive that moment for the rest of his days.

"But..." Much seemed stunned by this confession. "But Djaq said..."

"I know what Djaq said. I've let 'er down, and I've let Robin down, and all of you..." He stopped again, shaking his head. It wasn't worth continuing. He should have always known he would turn out to be no different than his brother, no more able to pull himself out of this rut than Tom had been.

"Now do you see why I 'ave to go?"

He took their silence as a consent in the affirmative. He was about to make for the door to the camp when Kate's voice made him pause.

"Where will you go?"

He almost said "home." He had thought of the Holy Land as his home ever since Will and Djaq had decided to remain there, because to him home was where they were. But how could he call it a home when all he had to offer it was shame and defeat and grievous tidings?

"The 'oly Land. Someone's got to tell Will and Djaq."

There was sort of a consensual nod. No one, not even Much, who put so much faith in the power of friendship, put forward the postulate that Allan's dearest friends would help to heal him in time. The members of the Gang could all see the irreversible toll that their actions and Allan's forced lie had taken upon their friend. Allan started for the door.

"Allan..." Much's shaky voice broke the silence. "Allan, I'm sorry." And this time Allan knew he wasn't just talking about his actions the previous day. For beyond the layer of apology lay a genuine empathy that Allan had never before seen in the cook, and suddenly he knew that his friend was not only grieving for a dead person, but for a dead soul as well. Allan felt guilty all over again for leaving him, but at the same time he was touched at his friend's reaction. He went to Much and embraced him, allowing the man who had gone from near-enemy to dear friend in the past few months to shed a few tears into his shoulder.

"I'm sorry, too," was his whisper. Then, he gently detached himself and turned away, leaving the quietly distraught Much standing in the middle of the clearing.

A soft, deft hand, normally so steady and confident, shook ever so slightly as it caressed his cheek, a cheek whose dampness contrasted with his smile at the promise of a future as a redeemed man. Another, stronger hand squeezed his shoulder with abnormal force, the action as much out of its owner's attempt to control his own emotions as it was to provide him with comfort.

"What can we do to make you stay?" The normally deep voice was choked, old feelings of betrayal stirring up behind it. But this time it demonstrated no anger or icy fury, only pain and sadness.

Allan shook his head.

"Nothin', mate. You've got to understand; I love you. I love you both, and if there were a way that I could stay 'ere with you and never 'ave to go back to England, I'd do it in a 'eartbeat. But after what I've done..."

"...you could never truly rest." The soft voice finished his sentence for him, and he managed a grateful half-smile for her.

"I know I've made it seem lately like my word's not worth a lot, but I've never meant anythin' so much as when I say that I promise you I'll come back someday."

They both nodded, faces stained with tears. Djaq managed a smile for him. Sweet Djaq, always so strong. Will had stopped trying to maintain a hold over his emotions. Allan embraced him first.

"Do you remember," Will asked through his tears, "the first day we were a part of the Gang? You looked out for me, and you were so confident that everything was going to turn out well for us, and that no matter what happened, we would be all right." He stopped and drew a shuddering breath. "When you get back, will you be the Allan I knew then?"

Allan marveled at how, though in the time they'd known each other, Will had gone from rash adolescent to controlled, eloquent man, he still managed to sound like a small child in need of reassurance.

"I will be," he whispered into the raven hair, and he felt his friend relax, ever so slightly.

"Goodbye, Allan."

"'Bye, Will".

Then he was in Djaq's arms, the place he'd always felt the safest, and for a sliver of a moment he allowed the facade he had put on for Will to slip, his tears sliding onto her neck and down into her back. Her beautiful voice trembled as she spoke.

"You are a good man, Allan A'Dale. One day you will see that. And then you will come back to us, and finally be at peace."

This final illusion destroyed, Allan A'Dale left the outlaw's camp in Sherwood Forest for the last time.