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Denial, Chapter 1 "Out of the Woods"

Title: Denial, Chapter one: 'Out of the Woods' 
Author: darkentwisted
Characters/Pairings: Robin/Much, Robin/Marian, Carter/Much
Rating: PG (for mild slash content, this chapter)
Genre: Slash
Words: 1961
Disclaimer: All characters owned by BBC, BBC America and Tiger Aspect Media.
Notes: This is the first chapter of the 'Round-Robin' fic. 'Denial' (How appropriate!) Multiple authors will contribute to individual sections or chapters. The story starts off from the Robin Hood episode 2x08 "Get Carter." 
Want to play? Come join us! Check out the Rules and join in the Round Robin fun!

Summary: Much has decided to accompany Carter back to the Holy Land to deliver Robin's message.  The gang must learn to cope with the absence of the subtle but vital ways they needed the former servant while continuing their fight against the Sheriff and Guy of Gisborne.  As squire to a crusader knight, Much must also adapt to his new life and face the horrors of war again that he and Robin left behind.


Denial, Chapter One: Out of the Woods
by
DarkenTwisted

“I could use a good man like you in battle.”

Much stared at the fire, disbelieving his ears at the other man's words. He spoke cautiously to keep from offending the knight. “I am not a manservant anymore. Robin has given me my freedom.” He stood up straight. “I am a free man now.”

Carter examined the blond outlaw with amused curiosity. “I know. I don’t need a servant. I need a squire and Robin has assured me you would be the best.”

“He...he did what?” The former servant’s eyes went wide. He couldn’t believe Robin would shed him so easily. But then Marian was in the forest now. How quickly their friendship had been laid aside for her love. He felt a dagger in his gut. He felt betrayed. “He told you that!”

Carter put up his palm to stay the aggression. “Easy. He is not sending you away. We were just talking and he mentioned how fine a horseman and servant you were to him.” His eyes twinkled, “And how invaluable you are to him now.”

Much smiled as he continued to gaze into the fire. “He said I was invaluable?”

“Yes,” Carter replied. “I could use someone invaluable back there.”

A million thoughts raced through Much’s mind. To go back to the place that gave him a thousand nightmares. It made his palms sweat and mouth go dry just to think about it.  To go back to the heat and the blood and the ever-constant threat of death and leave Robin outlawed in the forest was unconscionable. But then what did he have here?

Robin was with Marian now, outlawed or not. Much had no one and being outlawed himself, no chance of being anything other than cold, damp, starving and always afraid of being captured and hung by the sheriff.

At least back in the Holy Land he would have the three squares the King's army provided and a fighting chance to get his Bonchurch, that is if he wasn’t killed first. And this time to return  to Acre as a squire, practically a knight himself! No longer would he have to put up with being treated as a servant and having to take the abuse and leavings of the nobles just to sustain.

It was a hard decision, one that would take time and a lot of thought. He took Carter’s extended hand immediately. Carter laughed jovially as he patted the cook's shoulder. “Glad to have you with me, Squire Much. I feel safer already with you at my back.” Carter stifled a yawn. “Time for bed. We leave early the morrow, best get some sleep.”

“Tomorrow,” Much repeated as if in a dream. He stared back into the fire realizing the next day his whole life would change. He wondered how he would break it to Robin that he was leaving him and with a man who only days earlier had been their mortal enemy.  He barely slept the entire night and when he did, he dreamed of war.

>>>––––––––––––––––>

They woke while it was still dark; washed and dressed in silence. Much marveled at his new companion as he splashed his chin with water and prepared to shave. He rubbed his own stubble and wondered if he should do so as well. His new master assured him his present appearance would be but temporary. Carter promised him a stopover in Portsmouth for a proper bath and change of new clothes before sailing across the channel.  “Cannot have my squire looking and dressing like a servant when we go to see the King.” The crusader smiled as they dressed.

A jolt of excitement went through the outlaw. To be presented to King Richard as Carter’s squire instead of merely tolerated as “Loxley’s servant” made him shiver. He grinned shyly at the easy way his new master accepted him. As they dressed in silence, Much took in Carter’s well-muscled, pale torso in the firelight and blushed. Everything about the man was perfect.

Carter caught him looking and chuckled warmly at his reddened cheeks. “See something you like my friend?” Much definitely did. The rest of the outlaws were starting to stir and he made off to start the daily chores of getting breakfast together. It would be the last time he did so for the gang. He smiled to himself and decided to hold the answer to that question for later.
 
Robin lay by the fire alone as he and Marian were still not speaking to each other.  He looked so young and vulnerable and it pained the former servant for what he was about to do.  Much paused for a few seconds, it would be hard to tell someone you spent nigh five years at the side of at war and more than that growing up, that your path was about to diverge from his.  Robin stirred before the former manservant even touched him. "What troubles you my friend?"
 
Much pouted in the exquisite way that made his upper lip turn into a Saracen bow and Robin knew it was going to be more than just talk of war, "I...I want to leave...with Carter...back to the Holy Land."
 
Robin said nothing but sized his friend up sadly.  He sighed and raised up, curling his arms around his knees as he studied the blond outlaw.  "I thought you would."
 
Much stammered, feeling all composure leaving him, "It's not because of Marian.  I like her here...really. It's just that Carter asked me and he wants me to be his squire and I might just have a chance of an audience with King Richard and clearing our names..."
 
"I hope you have the life with Carter I could not give you, old friend." Robin interrupted his friend's rant with a whisper.
 
Much stopped and stared round eyed with surprise.  What was the outlaw leader thinking?  "Robin..."
 
The former earl put a hand out and reeled in his confused friend, "Everything we do is a choice, Much.  You now have a way to fix the life I've broken for you.  How can I deny you that?"  He sighed as he looked into the pale eyes of the one man who he now knew was truly braver than he could ever be. "All I can say is that I do not ask this of you.  You know what we left behind there.  To revisit those horrors I would not wish on Gisborne himself, much less my best friend."  His eyes glistened with unchecked sadness. "But if you end up fixing both our lives in doing so, I will be honoured to the end of my days that you did so of your own free will."

Much smiled at the closeness of his friend.  He once wished Robin could be so much more, but now it panged him to lose even that. He nodded sadly,  "I will do this for us, Master."
 
"And I thank you, Much.  Till we meet again, my loyal friend." With those words Robin lightly brushed his lips against those of his former servant.  Across the camp Carter witnessed the act of separation and felt a shiver of remorse.  What had he just done?

>>>––––––––––––––––>


Sunrise found him side by side on horseback next to Carter. The knight looked magnificent as the early light glinted off his pale blond hair and in his blue eyes.

Much in his dirty ragged clothes and skullcap felt smaller in comparison. He sat straight in the saddle however, as the gang saw them off. Marian kissed the former manservant on the cheek. “Oh Much, I cannot believe you are leaving.”

Much smiled back stifling a tear as he did so, “Look after him, Lady Marian.” He then nodded his head in the odd little way that made her giggle. “Keep Robin out of trouble till I return.”

Marian laughed softly. “I’ll try… if he doesn’t kick me out of the forest first.” She sobered, “Look out for yourself, Squire Much, and come back home soon.” She looked at Robin as he walked up to them.

“You really want to do this?" Robin looked into the eyes of his friend sensing the confusion there.

"I must, Robin.  I need to try to make this right.  I don't know where I fit in any more and..." He smiled at Carter, "he needs me."
 
Robin forced a smile on his face even though his heart was on the verge of breaking. "Then fight well my friend,” the outlaw winked. “And watch your back.”

Much swallowed. “I would stay if you asked me to Robin. I would never leave you if I thought for one minute you needed me.” He smiled at Marian. “But you have each other now." He sighed, "You don’t need old Much hanging around anymore.”

Robin smiled and took his hand. “I will always need you, old friend.” His eyes glistened as he pulled the other man down till their foreheads touched. “No, you are right. This is for the best. Having you with him while Carter tells the king of Prince John’s treachery is a good idea. It will reinforce our sincerity and get us the help we need to defeat Vaisey.”

Much was more hurt than relieved. His lip quivered as he spoke and he tried to hide his disappointment with a broad smile. “Then I’m off to save England.” He nodded at Carter and straightened in the saddle like a good squire should. “Time to go, Sir?”

Carter nodded at the former Lord, “I will look after him.”

“See that you do,” Robin replied, with just a hint of malice. “I expect him to be best man at our wedding upon his return.”

“If we ever have one!” Marian shot back curtly, still angry over the previous day's events.

“He shall return a proper lord by then, as you will be again.  I will clear your good name, Robert Loxley. But first I will visit my brother William’s grave to say goodbye to him properly. I recon I owe him that." Carter shook his horses reins. "We will see to it that King Richard gets your message." With that the two men rode off as the remaining outlaws waved after them.

“I shall miss him,” Marian whispered.

Robin joined her as they watched the men ride off in the distance. His former servant was still looking over his shoulder as he rode away. “As will I,” he said fondly. He changed the subject to keep from sobbing as his eyes glistened. “You disobeyed me and you kissed Gisborne.”

“I saved your life!” Marian added indignantly. “And you tied me up.”

“And you could have got us all killed,” he parried back playfully.

She looked back at their friend riding away and her tone softened. “I’m sorry. I’m not used to taking orders. But I can learn.” She looked up at the man she loved fondly. “I’d like to be part of your gang.”

Robin watched as the man who was by his side since the crib shrank away in the distance. Much was once again gone to face the horrors of war that he couldn’t and he swallowed a lump. “And I’m not used to you being in the forest…but I’ll learn.”

Marian smiled, “Truce?”

Robin nodded looking at her fondly in return. “Yeah…truce.”  The former noble ran forward, easily skipping over boulders. He called after the two riders, “Safe journey my friends!” In the distance, Much waved back at them.

Marian ran up and took the outlaw leader’s arm in hers as they waved back. Robin smiled and laced their fingers together. He suddenly frowned in realization at the other outlaws. He exclaimed under upturned eyebrows, “One of us is going to have to learn to cook.”

>>>––––––––––––––––>

To be continued…but by whom?

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
robinfanatic
Apr. 24th, 2009 10:15 pm (UTC)


darkentwisted (who is completely to blame for this whole adventure) talked me into helping with the Round Robin - there was something about lavender... more lavender... - I will grab ch. 2. But I really really do hope that some of you will help determine the direction the story goes!!



Edited at 2009-04-24 10:16 pm (UTC)
shaman_whore
Apr. 25th, 2009 11:02 pm (UTC)
Oooh, a great start! Love the bit about Much's lip being like a saracen bow, and that ending bit! I definately look forward to reading the next bits but I'm trying to follow jonathan creek at the moment so I don't think I could do it full justice.
Very good work though!
thinkpink20
May. 9th, 2009 11:12 am (UTC)
Oh, I was really nervous about reading this! I kept spotting it on the flist and being unsure about the Much/Carter relationship (Much/Robin is my OTP! I know Carter can treat Much in the way Robin never could but... well, OTP! :)) But I'm really glad that I read it - you gave Robin and Much a fitting parting; I was really glad that you made it obvious how difficult it was more them to seperate instead of just pulling them apart.

I'm off to read Part 2! :)
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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