kegel84: (Marian - always watching)
[personal profile] kegel84
Title: Better Days Will Come
By: Kegel
Fandom: Robin Hood BBC
Characters: Vaysey, Robin, Marian, Much, 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: Vaysey deals with incompetent spies, Marian does her own thing, and Guy returns.

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


Chapter 21: Return

The coins felt good enough between his fingers. Vaysey smiled, holding one up. The silver reflected the light of the candle. It was yet the sweeter thinking of the fact that this was silver Hood had brought him. Returned to him. Well, technically it wasn't his, but the prince's, but the fact that he held it in his hands again would help getting back into John's good graces.

Holding the little speech that Hood had demanded had been less than agreeable though. Vaysey didn't like being made to look like a fool. But he thought he had gone over it well enough, blaming it all on a misunderstanding. Not that the people really cared, or that he cared at all what they thought, but knowing there might be glee in Hood because of it, stung.

A knock at the door of his chamber took Vaysey's gaze away from the silver.

"What is it?" he demanded loudly, looking back at the coins in front of him, as two men entered the room.

"My Lord," they said in unison, bowing.

Vaysey frowned. These men shouldn't be here. "Why are you not at Locksley?"

"He sent us away, my Lord."

"He? Hood?"

One of the men nodded. "Robin of Locksley. He told us to leave when he came to the manor."

Vaysey dropped the coin he had been holding in annoyance, it making a clinking sound when it fell onto the others. "You were not supposed to leave. You're supposed to tell me what goes on there!"

"Yes, but we could hardly stay when he told us to go."

"Who is giving you orders, Hood or I?" Vaysey yelled, willing to throw something at the man, but finding it too much a pity to waste the treasure in his reach on the incompetent men.

"You, my Lord," the man who had been silent so far was quick to reply with a glance at the other. Vaysey groaned.

"Then tell me something useful!"

"He's injured," the other blurted out.

"Injured?" Vaysey returned eagerly.

The spy nodded. "He has his hand bandaged. It's clearly hurting, too."

The sheriff had to stretch to reach it, but it was worth it. He picked up the cup that had been standing just out of his reach. "Tell me something new!" The cup didn't hit as the two men were quick to duck as it flew their way. "I already knew that! I'm not paying you to tell me things I already know. So are you going to be paid?"

The two spies looked at each other helplessly.

"A clue."

The men looked confused.

"Get out of here before your dead corpses are going to entertain me at dawn." The sheriff turned away as the men hurried to get out of his chamber. Those spies were absolutely useless, and Vaysey figured that they would not have helped much, even if Hood had not had the sense to send them away.

So Hood, Locksley didn't trust him, rightly so of course. But it was still a question in how far the man believed the tale that all those taxes and the silver were intended for the ransom of the king. While Prince John had not condescended to tell him so, the sheriff had heard enough rumors about the prince offering money to keep Richard captive. That was just another reason why he shouldn't cross the prince by not coming up with the needed funds, and not returning the ones that belonged to the man.

The thought of the prince brought the wonder where Gisborne was, and when he would come to fulfill his traitorous mission.

He had informed the guards that they were to let Gisborne pass into the town, but to give notice to Vaysey when this happened. The sheriff would be prepared, but wanted to deal with Gisborne on his own, with the guards in his backhand.

He figured Locksley would keep dropping in, too, but ironically this was the man who would never dare to kill him. If he judged him correctly from the experience of many years, Gisborne wasn't quite as sneaky as Hood at getting anywhere. But then he had misjudged the man – he had not seen the traitor in him.

Vaysey moved to the window that overlooked the castle yard. Nottingham lay dark beyond it. The next week would show how well he had Locksley in his hands. Tax day was coming and if everything went alright, the sheriff's chest would see more taxes from Locksley's holdings than ever before. For once Hood's gang would not try to take the money. Locksley believed it was all needed for the king's release from captivity. Vaysey guessed that it was actually needed; it would just never be used for that.

>>>>---------------------->


He awoke slowly. At first, everything seemed to be in place. The bed was comfortable, the air warm, the room quiet. He was home. Then, as sleep left and waking came, the urge to jump up and run came like a flash accompanied by the wonder as to what he was thinking being there, exposed to any of the guards that might be sent for any moment... It took him a second to remember that he was, indeed, home, and that there was supposed to be nothing to fear for him.

Robin rolled to his other side, staring at the wall. His thoughts went to the room on the other side of the wall. He wondered if Marian was sleeping. She definitely needed it, probably more so than he even. He felt sad for her. While he had been able to come home, she had lost anything of a home, of a family recently.

It was strange to just be able to lie here this calmly. It was like in earlier times – those very long ago. During the first year in the forest things had never been this calm. He had only slept lightly then – even if his night had not been plagued by nightmares. They had always been ready for detection, ready to pick up their weapons and provisions and run.

There had been more rest once Will had built the camp. It was well-hidden and safe, and during that first winter they had found protection there.

Robin slipped out of bed in the quiet darkness around him, the feelings of restlessness still underneath when he thought of the past, when he wondered if it was really the past. He pulled the old tunic he had been wearing over his head and moved down the stairs moments later.

He wasn't downstairs yet when he came to a stop. He could just see her pulling the mask over her face, only to slip out of the door immediately after. Robin hurried down the rest of the stairs, wondering where she was going. And what she was planned, seeing that it was the Nightwatchman who had just left the house. Robin needed to know.

"Marian," he called, hoping she would still hear it, as he reached the door, pushing it open again and scanning the dark and quiet village around him for the Nightwatchman's form. "Marian," he called again, sure she would have to hear him now. In a way it was risky, for he didn't want to chance betraying her alter ego to anyone.

A shadow at the side came to a halt.

Robin stepped towards her.

"What is it?" she whispered.

"What are you doing?"

"Doing my work."

"What work? Do you still have something to hand out? Or are you going to steal anything?"

She laughed quietly. "You say it like it's wrong."

"I'm just worried. The last time I saw the Nightwatchman robbing someone, Gisborne stabbed you." And it had been Locksley manor she had been breaking into.

"I've been doing this for years. And Gisborne isn't here."

"You just barely escaped the sheriff. If he catches the Nightwatchman-"

"As did you," she reminded him. "I need to do this, Robin."

He looked at her, wishing that he could see her face. He nodded. "Then I'll come with you."

"I don't think that's a good idea. If they saw you with me, it wouldn't be long until they figured out who the Nightwatchman is. Or that you're still working with him."

"We did the same in Nottingham the other day."

"Robin," she said warningly, "I need to do this on my own."

Robin finally nodded, knowing she was right. It would be too obvious, unless he was to conceal his identity as well.

"Besides, you need to take care of Locksley," Marian added, surprising him as she pulled him towards her, pressing a quick kiss to his lips as she lowered the cloth that hid her face for a moment.

"Take care."

She vanished around the corner of the house and Robin wished that she had at least told him where she was going. Of course, it was still true what she had said back in Nottingham. The people still needed the help. There was just the question what he could do. Reasonably, he should be able to do more and safely now that he was back in Locksley – as long as he did not cross the sheriff, which was of course what had been a matter of course in most of what he and the lads had done.

He just knew what he could not do now – go back to bed.

It was crazy to be here and wonder what Marian was doing, waiting for her to return and hoping that nothing happened. Of course, she had been doing the same what she was doing now for years, then when he had been in the Holy Land and had not even known what was wrong in Nottinghamshire. Could he have ever imagined there what she was doing as the Nightwatchman here? That it was even what she thought necessary, had to think so?

He had returned to find her unmarried to his great joy, having expected her to be wed and with children by now. Instead she could just as well have been caught and hanged as the Nightwatchman by then. The world was crazy.

Robin cast a worried look into the direction where she had disappeared, before walking back into the house.

"Robin?"

He didn't need to see the man to know that it was Much, awake as well. He didn't know how the man had known, or maybe it was just coincidence that he seemed to have come after him.

"Why are you not sleeping?" he asked, smiling.

"You're not," Much returned, coming closer to the door so that Robin could see his outline. "Is anything wrong?"

"No, nothing," Robin said slowly.

"Do you... isn't it strange that the others aren't here?" Much asked suddenly.

Robin sighed. "They can come here, if they want to." Djaq, Will and John were still at camp. Where Allan was Robin had no idea.

"Have you told them that? Have you asked them?"

Robin closed the door that had stood open so far, hoping Marian would return soon. "No, I haven't. It's not obvious enough, is it?"

"It is your home."

"The camp is the home of all of us."

"This isn't camp," Much shrugged.

"There's enough space."

"You're a noble, and this is your house."

Robin nodded. "I have to talk to them." He had guessed it was obvious to the rest of the gang that they could come and stay at Locksley, but as Much pointed out, maybe it wasn't as obvious as he suspected.

Much was nodding in agreement, but he was smiling now.

"We can do that later, when it is lighter out. How about I make some breakfast? You would like that, I think. I know I would, I haven't cooked in here for a long time. It will be just like old times!"

Robin nodded, returning the smile and knowing that it was true. He was hungry, and having something to do would help take his mind off of Marian.

>>>>---------------------->


The sky hung gray over the town of Nottingham, but Gisborne didn't pay much attention to it. He had decided to return when he thought enough time had passed for the sheriff's worst anger to have calmed. Guy had known him, had worked for Vaysey for many years and believed to be able to estimate the man's moods.

He didn't have any trouble getting into the town and to the castle yard, but the behaviour of some of the guards caused him to frown. There were nervous glances between them and one guard hurried into the castle when Guy was dismounting his horse on the yard. The man was probably running to the sheriff to be the first to tell the news. Still, the reactions made Gisborne wonder if Vaysey was still so angered that the guards were scared to witness a meeting between the two men.

Nevertheless, Guy couldn't imagine that Vaysey would still be furious about Marian. She just wasn't that important to him.

Guy might have failed the sheriff in that regard, not javing taken her back to Nottingham before Vaysey, but he never would have forgiven himself if she had been executed because of the sheriff's wrath, no matter that it was foolishness that had brought her into the situation in the first place.

But despite failing to follow Vaysey's order, he was certain the man would take him back into his service. He was a loyal Master-at-Arms, had always done what was needed for Vaysey's – and most of the time also his own – position. He had failed him in Marian's case, but that was just a personal matter, something that would pass. He couldn't sacrifice her because of the sheriff's choler, on a matter that was of no importance – Edward wasn't even alive anymore now.

Guy tried to banish the thoughts of her then. He didn't know where she was, so thinking of her just vexed him. Once he was back in Vaysey's good graces, he would start looking for her again. He would find her and would make sure that she was safe.

He walked up the steps towards the castle, assuring himself once more that his sword was at his side. It wasn't that he was afraid of Vaysey, but he didn't want to regret not taking precautions, in case the sheriff had not calmed after all. Raising a weapon against him wasn't anything that would count as fortunate either, no matter that he did not feel like ending up down in the dungeons because the sheriff was still furious about the matter with Marian.

Guy made his way up to the sheriff's quarters immediately, large strides taking him upstairs quickly. He had not much thought about what he would say, but he trusted in his hope that the sheriff would he pleased to see him back, would have calmed about that matter.

Guy hadn't quite made it to the sheriff's room yet, when he stood suddenly in front of the man himself.

His expression was somewhere between shock and anger. "Gisborne."

Guy noticed that the sheriff's hand went to the sword at his side. Nevertheless, he gave a small bow. "My Lord."

"So you have finally come."

"I have returned," Guy confirmed carefully.

"You underestimate me, Gisborne. Funny, when you think of how long you have worked for me. You should know me better."

"My Lord?" Guy asked confusedly.

The sheriff removed his sword in an apparently calm manner, looking at the blade for a moment before he raised it towards Gisborne and nodded briefly.

Guy was frozen to the spot for the blink of an eye, but then he took his sword as well. "My Lord, I am sorry we have had this disagreement. I swear my loyalty to you is as strong as ever and I-"

Vaysey laughed. "Don't be ridiculous, Gisborne."

"Sir, I apologize for my actions in regards to Marian." Guy knew that there was no point in laying out his reasons for what he had done. Vaysey would not care about them.

The man scoffed. "The leper? You're a traitor, Gisborne. What do I care about the leper?"

All of a sudden, Vaysey brandished his sword and Guy brought his forward to intercept it. There was a clang as they met and Guy stepped backwards.

He had to get out of here. Guy wasn't fully aware of what Vaysey was talking about, but the man was apparently not ready to let him back into his graces quite yet. He swung his sword again and Gisborne retreated even further.

"Kill him," Vaysey called and Guy glanced backwards, seeing guards closing in on him, swords raised. Guy parried and defended and tried to move out of the circle, but there was always a man who blocked his way out. They used to be his men; guards that followed him, that followed his order. Now they seemed to have no qualms in lashing out at him, trying to deal the fatal blow.

Guy turned around to face the sheriff again, fending off the man's sword once more. It wouldn't be much longer before one of them managed to be successful.

Then something flew from the left side, hitting Vaysey over the head and causing him to crumble to the floor. The distraction stunned the others and gave Guy the opportunity to scramble away, casting a glance back to see the Nightwatchman slip back into the shadows.

He didn't look back again as he rushed down the stairs, guards on his heels. Once he had made it to the castle yard, it was quiet, reassuring him the chase had been given up for now. Guy let out a breath, still in shock as to what had happened.

His mind was taken of the matter for a moment as he caught sight of a mask and a cape that belonged to none other than the Nightwatchman who was climbing down from the castle.

Why had the man saved him? By all rights the Nightwatchman should want him dead, seeing that Gisborne had once nearly succeeded in killing him.

Guy kept his gaze on him. Now he was the pursuer, seeing a chance to get back into the sheriff's good graces, if he finally caught the obnoxious criminal. He would not let the man get away once again. This time he would get him, and prove his loyalty to the sheriff once and for all.

TBC
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kegel84

March 2011

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