kegel84: (Will and Djaq)
[personal profile] kegel84
Title: Better Days Will Come
By: Kegel
Fandom: Robin Hood BBC
Characters: Allan, Much, Will, Djaq, Marian, Guy
Rating: T
Disclaimer: Anything that you recognize I do not own.
Summary: A twist of history and an unexpected offer give Robin new opportunities in his fight for both his people and country. It also brings new dilemmas, as he and the gang have to make hard choices to find their way when conflicts come to a head.
Spoilers: Till mid-season 2.

Chapter Summary: Allan and Much go along with Allan's plan, Will and Djaq talk, and Marian suffers a loss.
Warnings: Character Death

Notes: Thanks to [ profile] emmithar for the beta!

Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8

Chapter 9: Close

Allan nipped the beer, tasting the strong flavour of it. He smiled, watching the other man stagger towards his table. It was surprisingly convincing, considering that Much hadn't had a single drink. He had also argued against this charade for quite a while. Allan had finally convinced him though, if only by the promise that they might find Robin this way.

He placed the three cups on the table, as Much was sitting down opposite of him.

"Fancy a game?" Allan asked, loud enough for others to hear.

Much nodded, and Allan showed him a coin that he had put under one of the cups. Then he moved the cups around, Much keeping his eyes on the one the coin was under. After a few moments, Allan looked up to him expectantly.

"This one," the other outlaw pointed at the cup on the right, sounding uncertain. Allan knew that the other man had to be exhausted and he could see his tiredness even in the dim light of the tavern. To the other patrons it might look just as convincingly as him being drunk.

Allan lifted the cup and indeed he found the coin under it. He gave Much a bright smile that the other man had a hard time to match. Much was deeply upset. He had been looking for Robin all night and day, while Allan had taken some time to rest and come up with his plan.

"You win," he told the man now, handing over two coins. "Fancy another?"

Much nodded again. So far they had not drawn the attention of any of the other people who were sitting in the inn with their beers.

Allan once again placed the coin under one of the cups, before moving them around. Much once again found the right cup and Allan handed over more coins. By now some of the men on the table next to them were watching their game.

Much won yet another time, still not appearing as happy as he should have been considering his lucky streak. Allan frowned. He was somewhat worried about Robin himself, but he did not share Much's dejection. It wouldn't help them, and if they were indeed not able to find Robin, they still would have to live with it; they had suffered loses before. He gripped the cup in his hand tighter, pushing the thoughts aside, as he placed the coin under the cup again, winking once at Much.

Hopefully the man would remember that this was the sign that he would start losing now, for a number of men were observing them, one or two of them even rising from their seats to get a better look. This time Allan moved the cups painfully slow, as to make sure that everyone would be able to remember where the coin was. Then he waited for Much's wrong guess.

Much pointed at the cup at the right, though both of them had to know very well that the coin was under the left one. Allan lifted the cup with a slight smirk and a groan when through the inn, as Much lost his money.

"Want another?" Allan asked then, but Much shook his head, standing up as quickly as if his seat has been heated. "Anyone else fancy a game?" Allan asked into the round then. Several men volunteered at once. Allan smiled. "Let's take one at a time." He had known that Much's loss despite it being obvious where the coin was would motivate other players, especially after they had seen Much winning before.

Allan hoped that the players they wanted would appear soon enough. He didn't mind making some money, but then he also remembered the last time he had played this game in Nottingham and he didn't wish for a repetition of that situation. It was wiser to not keep up the game too long.

Of course, if they were to be arrested, they would have achieved something as well, at least in Much's eyes, who had argued for that action since the last night. The actual plan was different though. The question they wanted answered was the same, but they wanted to keep their options open, something that wouldn't be the case if they landed in the dungeons of York. For the last hour before entering the inn they had been waiting outside, observing the clientele that entered the tavern, and as Allan had guessed before, a number of castle guards had been among them.

Befriending them was the goal, and if he had to lose the hard-earned money of the other patrons to them, it was to be so. Getting the guards to talk would be interesting too, and they could only hope that they would find one with the right information. If they did not, they still had the possibility of getting themselves – or one of them – arrested, or else they might be able to take out a guard and infiltrate the castle as they done so often in Nottingham. Allan smiled. They had possibilities. He just hoped Robin would appreciate their effort, later, when they would come to save him. Allan didn't mind doing this at all. He could achieve something, too, and if he had to lie and cheat for it, he could go along with it very well.

It took a while before the first man that Allan recognized as a guard sat down opposite of him. The man already seemed to have downed some beers, and Allan made sure to let him win the first round, keeping up his mood, just as he had done with other patrons from time to time, though most of them still had lost money to Allan's quick fingers.

"Want another round?" he asked after the guard had pocketed his coins. After a moment the man nodded. "It can't be easy," Allan chatted friendly, as he prepared the cups again, "with the measly wages you get."

"No, it's not," the man confirmed, keeping his eyes on the cups Allan was moving around.

Allan let him win again and the guard grinned, taking the coins the outlaw offered.

"Another one?"

The man nodded again and Allan once again played his game, this time giving the other no chance to win, as he let the coin disappear in the palm of his hand.

"Ah, unlucky!" Allan exclaimed.

"It's not my day," the guard shook his head, frowning at the cup that had proven to be the wrong one.

"Want to try again?"

"One more time," he nodded. "Need to be back in the castle in the morning, you know."

Allan inclined his head, setting a winning round of cups in front of the other.

"Ah, you win!" he said this time, seeing the temptation to continue in the man's face. The man was standing up though. "Wait, you sure you don't want to play another? Those filthy prisoners won't care how many rounds you had tonight."

The guard frowned. "Don't have anything to do with prisoners. I'm standing guard at the sheriff's chamber."

Allan grimaced. "Well, maybe another time." The other man vanished deeper into the tavern, and Allan sighed, as he watched him leave, realising that this had been a waste of time and money. He suspected more and more that they had to find another way into the castle, no matter that they didn't even know if Robin was in there or not.

Will handed the last sack of grains to Owen, the miller of Nettlestone, before he nodded to John. This was done. The two men and Djaq had arrived back from York the previous night and had since then prepared to distribute the supplies among the villages. The venture had gone over well, although they had to take care not to draw the attention of any guards to them. Will figured that the sheriff might just as well seek to stop them from distributing the food, and would try to seize it for himself.

Will looked around for Djaq and when he saw her he nodded towards her as well, and she understood. They would make their way back to camp now and wait for the rest of the gang to return from York with the second load of supplies. They had actually expected that the three men would have already found their way to Sherwood by now, not having planned to leave very much later than them.

Will knew that Robin had wanted to gather information in York as well, but the man had also told him that he would not take long, and that he, Much and Allan would leave perhaps a day after the others at the latest. Still, so far there was no sign of them in the villages around Nottingham, but Will guessed there could be many reasons why they had been either held up, or why the outlaws had simply missed each other.

Djaq though, seemed worried. That was at least the way he interpreted her present expression. He didn't ask about it, before they were back under the shelter of the trees of the forest. John was busy taking care of their horses that they would keep for a little while longer until they knew that they would not need them any more.

"They'll be back soon," Will said then.

Djaq needed a second before she looked up to him, and nodded.

"You're not worried, are you?" he asked.

"Not about that," she said, shaking her head once.

"What else then?"

Again she didn't answer directly and Will was already not expecting her any more to do so. Unwilling to pressure her on it, he turned his gaze to the ground, looking around for promising looking pieces of wood. While they would be waiting for the others, he could just as well get to work on something.

"I worry about Allan," she said then, and now it was his turn to look up surprised.

"Why Allan?" She couldn't possibly mean the present situation, for then she would have to worry about Robin and Much just as well. Will was confused.

"Something troubles him."

This didn't exactly clear Will's confusion. They were all upset about the things that were happening around them, and he had the suspicion that Allan wasn't the one who was most touched by it. It had to be a different matter instead, something that concerned only Allan.

"By what?" he asked therefore.

"I do not know, but I think it might have to do with Robin."

"So Robin and Allan aren't getting along," Will shrugged. That wasn't so strange; they all had their disagreements within the gang, and the two were no exception. If anything, they disagreed more than the others. Robin did not always care for Allan's nature. And while he accepted this fact, he could see Djaq believing otherwise.

"It is not that, but something deeper, I think," she tried to explain. "I sense it with Robin, too; he is different towards Allan."

"Are you sure?" he questioned. "I think... he's keeping things from all of us, not just from Allan. You know how he is, trying to solve everything on his own..." Will knew his words to be true, but he wondered how much Robin had realised that he could not always do everything alone... the last autumn should have affirmed the man that he was not alone, that the gang was there, even if the people, whose goodwill Robin so craved, were not.

"It is just not Robin," Djaq went on, turning to face him. Will returned her gaze, knowing that she held that tone whenever she was serious. He knew she cared for both of them, loved them like family. Will could say the same, but he also knew it was not his place to dwell in every conflict or petty secret, whatever it may be.

"Everyone is having a hard time," he distracted her, telling her what was on his mind. "People are starving, taxes are only getting higher, and the king may never even come home. That's all there is to it. But things will get better; they have to, don't they?"

She watched him for a moment, then nodded in quiet agreement. But he could tell she was not fully convinced. It was a small matter, and she in time would come to understand that it was stress causing all of this mishap, and little else. At least, it was what he had convinced himself.

"The villages will need more food soon," she said then, and he nodded, knowing she had put the other matter aside for now. "It will still be weeks before the people will be able to get fresh supplies from the fields and the markets."

Will nodded again. "I think Robin plans to go back to York and get more soon."

"Can we pay for that?"

He looked at her gravely. "If we can't, we have to get more money from the sheriff. He's taking it all from the people, so he's the place to go to get more to feed them." Once Robin, Much and Allan would be back from York as well, it was only the question how exactly they would accomplish that.

When she had decided to break into the dungeons, she had thought it was her last hope.

By now she had come to realise that this hope had never been there. Marian had thought that once her father would be out of that dreary cell, back in a real house, with a warm fire by his side, he would recover, but instead she could see him fading in front of her eyes, ever more clearly since they had arrived in Locksley.

She had taken to her room for a few minutes now, hoping to compose herself, before she would return to him. Her gaze fell on the small bag she had brought from the castle. She had found Guy looking at it the other day and had chastised herself for her carelessness. She didn't think he had seen the Nightwatchman's cloak, for he certainly would not have reacted as calmly as he had then, if he had seen it.

Guy had left her alone with her father for the most part, only to a few meals he had invited her, times when he had been asking her to stay at Locksley, more or less openly. He knew as well as she that her father would not live long, but he also had to know that she could not stay, in that case even less than if he were to live.

She hadn't yet received answer from any of her father's friends she had written to, and it was no surprise considering the little time that had passed since this had been done. She didn't know if any reply even would arrive, before her father would pass away. She swallowed at the thought, suppressing the tears that threatened to come. He hadn't asked about it. She knew he was worrying about her, but he had not yet voiced the question as to where she would go; maybe because he knew she would not be able to give an answer.

After sitting on the bed for a few minutes, she took her bag and moved to store it under the bed, at least out of Guy's sight, though she guessed he would not intrude into it purposefully. Still, it was just another reason why she would not be able to stay. The Nightwatchman would have to live on; there were people in Nottingham who depended on it, and this would not be possible if she stayed here at Locksley.

A sound behind her made her turn and she met Guy standing in the door to her room, a grave expression on his face. With a feeling of unreality she moved to her feet, shaking slightly.

"Marian." He closed his eyes for a moment. "I have sent for a priest."

She swallowed, but could not say anything. Hurrying past him, she rushed out of the room and into the one at the opposite side of the corridor. She had only left it less than half an hour ago.

The next hours passed for her in a fog and when the morning came she could barely remember the night. This time she had shut the door of her room behind her, had locked it even with the bolt that she had not touched before.

Now she was staring at her bed, observing the folds in the blanket. She didn't know what to do, didn't even want to do anything. After some moments she wondered if Guy would follow her, would knock at the door at any moment, but there was no sound. It was silent, the whole house seemingly asleep. Or dead.

She moved over to her bed, the creases still in her focus, before she turned her head to the window, only noticing now that the sun had gone up. It had to have been for a while because it had already moved well over the horizon.

The tears came easily then and at the moment she cared little about who came, or where she would go.

It had to have been around noon when there was finally a knock at the door, soon followed by a voice that could only be Guy's. She still sat quietly, not moving, not answering, maybe waiting for him to call again, but nothing came.

There was silence again and as it became unbearable, she stood up, once again moving to the window of the room as she had done so often during the few days that she had been here. It seemed to be a warm day; she could see people moving outside, not wearing heavy clothing as they had done for months before.

The shadows of the houses were becoming longer as the afternoon moved along, as did those of the trees at the other side of the village, where the thickness of the forest began. She knew that things had to be done, though Guy had earlier promised her he would take care of it, expecting her to sleep. But still, she was on her own now, had to go out there, despite how little it mattered at the moment.

Chapter 10
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