Disclaimer: I do not own the Robin Hood series, nor any of its characters.
A/N: This takes place somewhere in the first several episodes of Season 3. Please enjoy, and please don't ignore the happy blue button at the bottom of the page!
. . . .
The Holy Land. It had been a time of epic, world-crashing failures beyond any proportion, as well as sly quiet victories. But even they had dulled after time, becoming nothing but disgusting failures. One disgusting failure, to be entirely specific. A faded and hideous shadow without the regal sheen of leather or the cool, calculating eyes that glimmered with pure and beauteous disregard for human life. Failure to be useful, failure to be tough, failure to be self-aware, failure to do anything but swear vengeance at a rainless sky and look like a half-drowned, half-dead animal. But of course, this was all idle speculation. A grieving man needed time, after all … it wasn't a big problem and it certainly wasn't annoying anything. A clue …? No.
It was profoundly annoying, and Vaisey could barely tolerate Gisborne these days. Their failure to the kill the king had made the stakes even higher for the Sheriff of Nottingham, and now more than ever he needed allies. Gisborne had been his greatest ally, and truly a thing of beauty to watch. One nod from Vaisey and a sword plunged into the belly of another rebellious peasant. A commanding waggle of Vaisey's fingers and messages were promptly dispatched, soldiers were sent out in thin obedient lines, executions were happily executed, and order was restored all over Nottingham. Gisborne hadn't been Vaisey's right-hand man; he'd been Vaisey's right hand.
A hand that was now not lopped away, but shriveled and frail, and useless, and that was much worse. What happened in the Holy Land had broken Gisborne like a dry twig, and the Sheriff could not stand it.
The Holy Land had not broken the Sheriff – it had made him stronger, and angrier. Oh, such a grievous time it had been. Such failure …
It had started out perfectly, pregnant with promise and accomplishments. Robin Hood had been prancing happily through Sherwood far, far away (or so Vaisey had thought), Marian had been cowed and trussed up in chains (well, for most of the time – damn it), and the road to Acre was easy and clear, parted before him like the great Red Sea – oh, such glory. And things had only gotten better.
Even before they'd left English soil, Gisborne's man had abandoned them. That slimy little outlaw draped in well-to-do clothes, following after Guy like a pathetically loyal shadow ... like Guy had once done for Vaisey. And it had been sickening. The soft simmer of jealousy had been a constant and sour pang in the back of Vaisey's mind. But it had also been dangerous. The thought of Gisborne in league with another, being somehow caused to rise up, in whatever form or manner, against the Sheriff – was not something he enjoyed thinking about. The same problem had existed with Marian, and it was unacceptable. Gisborne was his, and no one else's. And if it meant destroying every man and woman who came into close contact with him, Vaisey would make sure it stayed that way.
Which is why Allan's leaving had been a joy. Disposing of him somehow in the Holy Land would have been far too distracting.
Yes, things had been going well. The voyage was swift enough, the plans were in place, they were on their way to watch the death of a king, Marian was quickly and silently disposed of, and then …
In Acre. With his grubby, good-for-nothing gang. And then things had gone terribly, terribly downhill. Vaisey had been forced to get physically involved, which had not been anticipated. The king had been alive and kicking, damn his royal hide, and Marian was also there. Oh, yes, Marian was very much there.
She had been the cause of both a failure and a victory. The failure was obvious, and massive, but the victory was unobtrusive and very sweet. She'd died ... at Gisborne's own hand. If it hadn't been for King Richard still very much alive and squealing like a stuck pig in the sand, Vaisey would've giggled outright. As it was, he had to get out of there before Hood's gang ripped him to pieces. He'd found a horse, and called Gisborne.
Gisborne had come. Why not? There was no one to distract him now, no one to hold him back. Not Allan, not the leper woman who Vaisey was very happy to say he'd never lay eyes on again . . . only the Sheriff of Nottingham. It had been indeed a victory.
Or would've been a victory, if the pathetic grieving and the moaning would finally come to an end. If ice would once again fill those narrowed blue eyes, if the curved spine would straighten, if the hand would become a fist, and if those cold chains of power and obedience would once again clamp tightly around leather-swathed wrists. Why not? Why ever not?
Because, it seemed, Marian was not the only one who had died that day in Acre.
But there would be a reckoning. Oh, yes, Vaisey knew. A storm was on its way.