Again, I'm staring this with another apology for lateness.
I'm. Really. Sorry.
In other news, I now also have an A03 account under the same name as this. Feel free to go and creep it. Oh yes, I changed my name as well, from fuzzyred to metaphoricalrhetorical. Sorry for any confusion!
This chapter's very short and probably utterly historically inaccurate. Sorry sorry sorry.
"What?" The Doctor nearly shouted his exclamation, his eyes widening in a delight which accurately displayed some of Felix's own internal emotions.
It took all of the barista's practised self-control not to begin raving. He managed, instead, to freeze into silent awe, and stare.
Robin looked between the two. He seemed a little disconcerted, but not, it had to be said, entirely displeased by their enthusiastic reaction.
The Doctor grabbed his hand and began to shake it vigorously.
"It's an absolute pleasure!"
"I..." There was an uncertain exchange of glances between Robin and the two women. "I...the pleasure is all mine."
The Doctor beamed. "I'm a huge fan. Taking from the rich, giving to the poor…well, it's a bit communist, but no-one really cares about that if you've got a bow and arrow. I think you're great, anyway. Brilliant."
Robin stared back blankly. The Doctor continued to grin for several moments, before his eyes widened a fraction and he began to flap his hands dramatically.
"Oh! Oh, wait!" He brandished a finger, knowingly. "1187! Crusades haven't happened yet, am I right?" He turned to Felix, looking meaningful. "The crusades haven't happened yet."
Robin continued to watch them. His eyes were unblinking, his lips parted, and his face was a still shot of bewilderment.
"Oh, don't mind us," the Doctor grinned. "Felix, would you like a drink? I bet you'd like a drink. Sir Robin'll buy you a drink, won't he?"
"Well then. That's that."
And with that sauntered off, pursued quite enthusiastically by the two girls.
Felix coughed awkwardly.
"Your name was…Felix?"
"Felix…of where? Where do you hail from?"
"Oh. Um…" Felix paused. "About. Here…here and there. Y'know."
Robin eyed him with a furrowed brow, and Felix hazarded an uncertain smile. The archer's gaze remained dark and unfathomable and Felix realised that he was, in fact, far from unattractive.
"I find you strange, wanderer. What brings you to Nottinghamshire?"
"I...we're looking for something."
Robin raised his eyebrows, apparently impressed. "A quest?"
"I...kind of? Yeah. A quest."
"Pray tell, a quest for what?"
Felix shifted. "We don't know..."
"Don't know? But then surely it is no quest, if there is nothing to be found, or achieved?"
"No, no...there is something...we just don't what it is." Gosh. That sounded convincing.
"That seems a doomed quest, my friend. Here. Ale."
A drink was placed in front of Felix, generously frothy and smelling strongly of hops. To taste, it was more pungent than beer, but the way it went to Felix's head straight away was not dissimilar. He heard Bobby's voice sounding with shocking clarity in his mind as he took a long, calming draft. Slow down, MacArthur. Fuckin' lightweight.
"But you seem an able fellow," Robin was continuing. "Or, certainly, your friend does."
That just about summed it up, Felix thought. He felt a little melancholy for a moment or two, until he registered that Robin's words were accompanied by a snigger, his eyes fixed on something just past the barista's shoulder. He followed his gaze to see the Doctor flanked by the two females, who seemed, to the Time Lord's evident bemusement and discomfort, to be making advances upon him to their best ability.
Felix snorted. "Yeah, he does."
Robin's gaze was on him again. "Might you tell me the nature of this quest, wanderer?"
"Um...well...I suppose we're sort of looking...well, for answers?"
"Ah! A quest for knowledge!"
"No..well...em..." We're looking for aliens. "We think...I mean...we're looking for something. Something here. But we don't know what it is." Robin gazed at him with blank eyes. "Has there been...like...anything weird? Near here?"
Robin paused. "You are on a quest to find something...strange and unknown? Here, in Nottinghamshire?"
"I have a tale which may interest you."
"I believe so. I cannot guarantee that it will aid you, but...well, if nothing else, it will surely intruige you."
"I'd wager you're about right." The Doctor had reappeared. His expression was intent. Robin nodded to him once.
"Doctor," he greeted him. "I warn you; you may be inclined to disregard what I tell you. I confess when I first heard the tale, I thought it fantastical...but then I saw it."
Felix found that he was inclined to shiver ridiculously as Robin dropped his voice with obviously intentional melodrama.
"Saw what?" The Doctor's voice was quite level and serious, but it had an edge of unearthly glee about it.
"The being." Robin leaned forwards. Although his tone was grave, a tiny smile played on the corners of his lips. He was enjoying retelling his story to an intrigued audience, it seemed.
Felix kept his eyes on the archer, but in the Doctor's voice he could hear his eyebrows raising in interest, lips curving in joyful anticipation. "'The being?'"
"The being," confirmed Robin, nodding ominously. "It is...well, it is somewhat like a man. It is of human stature and poise, yet its face...its attire, the tongue in which it speaks...these are all alien."
The Doctor's expression was bright and intent. "Go on."
"Many believe it to be some kind of savage; that is has been driven out of its wits. Perhaps...perhaps it is the work of Satan." Robin seemed in his element. He leant in and spoke in a hushed voice, his eyes shadowed with melodrama. Felix found himself quite gripped, holding his drink with fingers which squeezed unnecessarily tightly and listening quite intently.
"You don't think so?" he chipped in, surprising even himself. Contribution to discussion was not usually a pastime of his. Generally, he made a point of avoiding vocalising his thoughts.
Robin looked at him, and shook his head with dark sobriety. "It is not human."
Felix could feel the Doctor smiling behind him.
"Good stuff," he grinned. Felix turned to look at him, and the Time Lord's eyes glowed. "Could be exactly what we're looking for. If not, well...come on." He grinned. "It's an alien in 12th Century Nottingham. Who can resist?"
Felix smiled back, a little taken by the thought. Alien. 12th century England. Robin Hood.
"You intend to seek it out?" Robin's gaze was more than a little incredulous. "I...should warn you, Doctor." He paused. "Men have tried."
"They lost their lives."
"And yet here you are," pointed out the Doctor, eyebrows pointedly raised.
"I'll be fortunate, too. Those men...I'm sure they were very brave. I bet they were fantastic...but they were missing one thing, Robin."
"And what, sir, would that be?" Robin's voice was a little stiff. He evidently disliked hearing his late companions spoken of in anything less than terms of glorification.
"They weren't me."
Robin's gaze was unreadable for several moments as he brought his drink to his lips and took a long, thoughtful draft of his drink.
"Meet me tomorrow, Doctor," he said, after several moments. His voice seemed decisive. "Meet me on the Eastern brink of Sherwood Forest, at dusk. And you, sir." He nodded to Felix.
Felix glanced back at the Doctor. The Time Lord was watching Robin, eyebrows slightly elevated. "You'll help?"
"Men have died."
"Yet...you are confident you will not."
"Oh, no. Not confident. You never know."
"But you still wish to see it?"
"Then I shall aid you, Doctor."
Felix felt, somehow, that this exchange was rather significant, although he wasn't entirely sure how so. Robin looked at the Time Lord as though challenging him, and the Doctor looked back with an odd little half-smile.
Robin nodded once. "Have you lodgings for the night?"
The Doctor waved a vague hand. "Oh, we thought we'd just..."
"Stay in the inn," advised Robin, "They have a vacancy." With that, he summoned a robust-looking barmaid who agreed that there was indeed one room left.
"Brilliant," the Doctor grinned.
Felix was very still. He was loathe to stir, to stretch, to twitch, for fear of seeming untoward.
"This is cosy."
"Mm." Felix shifted an inch, keeping his eyes to the ceiling, his form tensed.
"Not bad for the 12th Century."
"I'm serious. I shared a bed once in the Renaissance Era. Not a patch on this."
"Yeah, this is luxury."
The conversation fizzled away, somewhat pathetically. Felix felt the Doctor wriggle beside him, and wondered if the Time Lord shared any of his discomfort. Was it strange for him to be lying in such close proximity to a recently-confessed homosexual, or did such things not concern him? He was realising now that despite deciding to travel in time and space with the Doctor and his strange box that, actually, he barely knew the man.
Not man. Alien. He had to keep reminding himself of that, as well. It was far too easy to spend time with the Doctor; it seemed unfeasible that they weren't actually of the same species. Except, of course, for the fact that the Doctor was superior to him in every way.
Anyway, he knew from experience that he should exercise caution. He was well aware that people (regardless of species) were taciturn, and dangerous. Some were hateful, of course, and some very wonderful, but there were also those funny ones in-between who seemed fine until a certain physical barrier was accidentally crossed and then all of a sudden Felix was left with a bloody nose and a 'don't touch me, you fag'.
Well. That had only happened once, in that context at least, but he had been consequently left with a healthy awareness of peoples' unpredictability, and the utmost respect for the personal space of others. Never, ever, ever disregard what may or may not be occurring in somebody's mind. Never.
"Doctor?" His voice was quiet.
"Want me to move?"
"I'll take the floor, if you like."
"No, no, no, no, no. We couldn't have that!
"Oh. Ok." Felix breathed in slowly, once, and exhaled quietly. "You don't mind?"
"Mind? No. Why would I mind? Do you snore? Tell me you don't snore."
"I'm, like...well, gay."
"Yeah. Yeah, I got that."
Felix shifted slightly, and his eyes flickered to glance at the Doctor, who seemed at ease as he watched the ceiling. "I..." he muttered. "That's not...for you, it's not...odd, is it?"
"I'm an alien, I can't really be prejudiced."
"I'm in the same bed as you."
"Am I making you uncomfortable?"
"That...that's not really the issue."
"It's not a problem. You're not harbouring a secret love for me, it's all good."
The Doctor's tone was laughing, but Felix felt as though it were an accusation. It wasn't, of course, but his lingering disbelief that the Time Lord accepted him, liked him, even, and seemed very much willing to keep him around was foremost in his mind.
"No, no. You're okay." He wondered if he'd answered too hastily. The Doctor gave him a nudge.
"You should sleep. You're human, you get tired."
"Do you sleep?"
"Now and then."
The implication was that tonight was not going to be one of those rare nights during which the Doctor slumbered, and this made Felix marginally uncomfortable. The Time Lord would be awake as he slept, potentially observing him probably with some amusement.
Surprisingly, however, he was beginning to not care, so he proceeded to shut his eyes in search of rest.