Author: Birgitt Schuknecht
Characters: Allan A Dale, Robin Hood; Allan/Will, Robin/Will, Marian/Robin (all implied)
Category: angst, slash
Timeline: after A Clue: No, sequel to Opportunities
Spoiler: Nothing specific for the show. Spoilers for The Lord Is Thy Shepherd and Opportunities.
Summary/teaser: He could lead a normal life.
Word count: 1,785 (title and header not included)
Disclaimer: The copyrights to the events and characters of Robin Hood belong to Tiger Aspect Productions and British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). No infringement of those rights is intended. This story is mine, but no material advantage will be gained from its publication. The title is taken from the song "This Is Your Life" by Switchfoot.
Note: written for the prompt 084: He. (fanfic100-challenge).
"He could lead a normal life. Of all of us he could lead a normal life."
"What?" Robin sat up, abruptly. Allan's voice had interrupted a pleasant daydream: He and Marian had been enjoying a sunny, lazy day - a day just like this. In his vision, they'd been having a picnic and they hadn't quarrelled for a single moment. Robin grimaced. Right. It had been a dream, after all.
"You have lost your lands and your title. Much will never leave your side. John has been an outlaw for an eternity. Djaq is a stranger, a heathen. I... Well, you know about me. He is the only one who could lead a normal life."
Robin didn't answer. He understood and then he didn't understand at all. Allan had a point. Will Scarlett was outlawed like the rest of them, he'd even been sentenced to death, but he could leave Nottinghamshire, could go north or south. He still had family. And he had considerable skills that would save him from starving as long as he played by the rules. What Robin didn't understand was why Allan brought this up. He was tempted to let it go; this simply might be Allan being bored. The outlaws had found themselves with a few days off - the Sheriff was on his way to London and he had taken Gisborne and a considerable number of soldiers with him, no doubt to impress a gathering of powerhungry nobles. Nottingham Castle was in the hands of a strictly non-adventurous steward who would be content to use the convienencies of his temporary status for his amusement as long as the black-clawed cat was not at home.
However, Allan didn't sound bored. More like worried. Scared even. His choice of words and his voice hadn't shown anything of their normal - entertaining or annoying, depending on the mood of those who listened to him - flourish. The last and to be honest the only time he had sounded like this had been after his brother had been hanged.
"Is there anything you aren't telling me, Allan? And don't you dare to say something like Oh, it's really nothing, Robin!. Then I would have to kill you right here, right now." Inwardly, Robin cursed himself for being a coward, but he had to try and lighten the mood, had to give both himself and Allan an option to chicken out of this. Whatever this was about.
Allan gave him a smile, and it was a real - if sad - one. "One fine day he will realise what he could have and leave."
"Not Will," Robin said, without thinking. Then he started thinking. "Did he say anything to you?"
Allan hugged himself in a lonely embrace. Robin squinted. Had that been a shiver running through his body? "Or to anyone? Djaq or John?" He needn't to mention Much. Will wouldn't talk to Much. Not about something like that. No, Will wouldn't talk to Much. Period.
"Not that I know of."
Allan evaded Robin's gaze and Robin lost his patience. "Then what are you talking about?"
"I'm just wondering... Why does he stay? He must have a good reason. Beyond having nowhere to go. Because he has somewhere to go."
Robin stared at Allan. This was not a conversation he would have ever expected to have. With Allan of all people. This was the kind of conversation he might have with Will. Alright. He would answer Allan as he would have answered Will. "He hates the Sheriff and Gisborne." He paused; somehow the thought of Will hating anyone didn't sit right with him. It didn't matter that Will had stated his hatred, loudly and repeatedly. Robin cleared his throat. "He hates what they do to people. To his people. And he..." Loves us. "We are his friends. He is loyal."
"He could be loyal to his father and his brother. He loves them. He should love them more than he loves... us."
Finally Allan met Robin's eyes and the expression on his face, in his eyes, took Robin's breath away. Robin understood - with shocking clarity - why Allan was talking to him like this. What had made him open up to him. "Allan won't mind," Will had told Robin once and now Robin knew that Will had been wrong. Utterly and terrifyingly wrong.
"He should love them more than he loves us," Allan repeated. "You or me. If I had met him in another life, not in a cell, waiting to be hanged, but in a life where he was still the village carpenter's oldest son..." Allan swallowed. "He wouldn't have looked at me twice. Or maybe he would and realised what I am and then he'd have hidden his money and other valuables from me. From the likes of me. I saw it in his eyes when he looked at Tom."
Robin had some trouble to follow Allan's argument. "Do you truly think Will wouldn't have been your friend in any other life?", he said, abandoning even the attempt of being logical, rational. Allan shrugged and Robin grabbed his shoulders. "Look at me, Allan! What is this about?"
"The only reason he's staying here is you, Robin. He is in love with you. He might shag me but he's in love with you."
Robin let go of Allan. That couldn't be true. "Did he tell you that?"
"Not in so many words. But if you had seen that look on his face when we-- well, when we nearly left, you would know. I have seen that look and I know."
Robin tried to remember all those times he'd been with Will, tried to recall their conversations and arguments. Was there a chance that Allan was right? That he - Allan - was only a second best for Will? He couldn't say. He simply couldn't say. Until now he hadn't really cared. Will was too precious to him to seriously think about such dangerous questions. Until now. "Why are you telling me this?", he asked, although he was sure he knew the answer.
"I do not want to see him getting hurt. I want you to treat him right." Allan stood up, brushing leaves and dirt from his trousers. "Tell him when you have made your choice. Tell him if he doesn't stand a chance in this."
Robin watched him leave. Suddenly he did remember. He remembered the way Will looked at Allan, how he touched him. "Allan won't mind." Yes, Will was definitely wrong about that, but there was no doubt he was in love with Allan. What he - Robin - shared with Will was different. Some kind of love, maybe a twisted kind of love. Something born out of loyalty, friendship, gratefulness, whatever. Surely not that kind of love. Will loved Allan and, going by the pain Robin had just seen in Allan's eyes, Allan loved Will.
He should do something. He didn't want to, he might lose Will as a lover. If he didn't do anything he would probably lose Allan as a friend. And that could lose him Will, too. As a lover and a friend. And the chances of the latter-- Robin cursed silently. He was thinking like a leader, not like a lover or a friend. As it should be. Go and be irrational with Marian. There lies your future. Sherwood will end.
Again Robin cursed the little voice in his head. Or voices. Voices that sounded like Allan's and Will's. He stood up and ran after Allan who had already left the camp. He passed John, who sat on watch, threw him a questioning look and John understood, indicating the path Allan had taken. Djaq was on a quest for herbs and mushrooms and Will had volunteered to go with her. They should be back soon. And Robin knew he had to deal with this... thing before they returned to the camp.
It took him only a few minutes to spot Allan. He quickened his pace some more and then he whistled. Allan turned around, crossing his arms over his chest. Robin slowed down and stopped. It was better to keep some distance between them.
"I'm not being funny but I thought leaving camp was a fine clue that I wanted to be alone," Allan said, in an unequalled blend of daring and arrogance, and for a moment Robin thought their argument from before had been part of his daydream. Well, he had made up his mind and he wouldn't allow Allan to hide behind haughtiness.
"You are a coward, Allan A Dale. Do you think you can ditch all this on me and just run? You were talking about my choices, but this isn't my choice. At least not mine alone. It's your choice, too. And it's his choice and how can he choose when you keep some vital facts from him? Like you loving him?"
For a moment Robin was certain Allan would jump at him, but then Allan simply shrugged and smiled. Fake-smiled. "I'm the last one to forgo a gamble, but even I must have some chance of winning before I risk--"
"Do not speak to me about risk, Allan!", Robin said, furious. "As long as you do not talk to Will, honestly, you are not taking any risks. For all I know all your fine words from before could have been a mere act. A scheme to get out of this, without risking anything." Robin knew he was way out of line, but he couldn't let this chance go. Allan could be more slippery than a freshly caught fish, but Robin was also sure this fish was secretly dreaming of being caught.
Allan looked like he wanted to shout at Robin, but then he shook his head. He stared at his hands, clenched to fists. "I... He... How could he possibly love--" Allan broke of.
Robin's anger vanished at the sight of him. "Allan, listen... You said he could lead a normal life. You are wrong. He couldn't go back. He... simply couldn't. He cares more about this than any of us." Sherwood will end. "I know he does. And even if you do not believe me... How about you treating him right? Give him some credit. You cannot truly believe that he would knowingly hurt you, whatever he decides to do. Not Will."
"He... He... I know he cares." Allan looked up and there was that pain in his eyes again.
It hurt Robin to see him shattered like this. He yearned to comfort him. "That, he does." If Allan wanted more - and how could he not? - he would have to talk to him.