Trust in Blood
"Together, I know you can both do this…"
Guy of Gisborne found it ironic that the words he was recalling at that moment were Robin's father's. As soon as he had said them, he had already made up his mind to free Archer, with or without Robin's help.
Since killing Marian, he had been a walking corpse, every ounce of life he had ever possessed was now gone, had died along with her. When he had plunged his sword into her out of rage and loss, he knew he had killed himself as well and he had believed redemption was no longer within reach for him. He no longer sought it as well. No matter how much good he accomplished now, it would never undo all that he had done before. It would not bring Marian back. Redemption without Marian meant nothing to him and he knew that she was lost to him in the afterlife. She was safe from him and he would pay eternally for killing her. It was the only certainty he had now.
He viewed himself as more of a weapon than a person, a means to an end; a method to achieving something that goodness of nature couldn't. He would protect Robin and his gang's souls by sacrificing what was left of his to give. Where they couldn't threaten, rob or even kill, he would when it was required. That was all he was good for now.
Helping Robin find and save their brother would at least put him to good use and whatever thread of humanity he had left in him had wanted to reunite them as a family as Robin's father had wanted. Second only to having a life with Marian, was his desire to be a part of a family, a bonded family, not the dysfunctional one that he and Isabella had forged.
Without that purpose, he would have just meandered through the dregs of his life until something or someone took it from him. He had many enemies and with the possible exception of Allen, everyone in Robin's gang hated him as well, Kate most of all. He couldn't blame them least of all Kate. He wouldn't try to convince them by trying to defend his indefensible deeds. Action spoke loudest and he would use it over words. It would then be up to them to make their judgments from that. He would not beg for their forgiveness. He was no fool. He didn't deserve it.
He was too cowardly to take his own life, but perhaps hurling himself into each battle would bring him some satisfaction, perhaps it would hasten his end, but he was at peace with that.
Robin noticed Gisborne's disquiet and it made him uncomfortable. He was surprised to feel empathy for his newly discovered stepbrother. His father's appearance and revelation confused Robin and even though he was ambivalent about saving his half brother despite his promise, he had been surprised to hear that Gisborne seemed willing to rescue Archer.
After a contentious "welcome" by his band, they had set off to York. Gisborne barely defended himself against the accusations of John and Kate. His earlier words to Robin as they fought each other over Marian's death weighed heavily and felt painfully sincere.
"I'll never ask you for your forgiveness. I can't forgive myself."
And Robin had seen the desolation in Gisborne's eyes.
He had expected gloating from Gisborne, at best a sense of satisfaction for having taken Marian away from him if he couldn't have her, but that wasn't there.
He wasn't expecting him to say that he couldn't forgive himself for causing her death. He had offered no excuses. Perhaps Robin had rushed to judgment and Gisborne had felt remorse after all for what he had done. It sobered Robin.
It didn't mean that Gisborne should be absolved of Marian's death or that Robin should forgive him, but the revelation was significant.
"Because he showed no remorse for what he did to Marian!"
"You know nothing," Gisborne had said with a grief that Robin had actually felt.
Perhaps Robin didn't. Maybe he needed to understand as much as for himself as for Gisborne, but he wasn't sure Guy would be forthcoming.
Robin had felt his own guilt for beginning the cycle of Gisborne's rejection of his own self-worth back when they were boys and they had become orphans together. Guy had lost everything when his father had become a leper and Robin had not welcomed him back to Locksley when he and Isabella had been cast out. Perhaps if he had, things would have turned out differently as his father had said. Maybe a little compassion then would have changed the course of Gisborne's future. Just because he had been a boy himself, didn't mean he shouldn't be held culpable, after all, he had made the decision to take care of the town, which should have included Guy and Isabella, but he had let them leave in disgrace.
"I'm sorry," Robin blurted out.
Guy gave him a look of derision.
"For what?" He spat out, his voice gravel thick with self-loathing.
"For many things. Perhaps even for my father's acts. In the end, he was at least partly responsible for what had happened to us. But I...I should have welcomed you and Isabella back to Locksley."
Guy shot him an empty glare yet Robin could see the pain in his bloodshot eyes.
"I don't blame your father. Not anymore. I can't. My mother loved him. I can't judge him too harshly. I understand him," Guy said, the tone in his voice deep with sorrow for his love for Marian which had been just as blinding at times. "As for you, I hadn't considered coming back. I was already an outcast. I thought I had killed my parents. If it absolves you, nothing you could have done would have changed that. I... sealed my fate that day. No one else."
Robin listened with a sympathy that he didn't think he would ever possess for Guy. Guy was taking responsibility for his actions, just as his father had told him that he should do.
"I lost the love of my life and I'm sorry if it pains you to hear that, but it's the truth. It's my truth. I have her blood on my hands. I know it. I see her in my nightmares, haunting me…as she should," Guy said with an ache in his voice. "I meant what I said, I'll never ask for your forgiveness. I have no right to it so you needn't feel you should offer it."
Robin hung his head. He wasn't ready to forgive Gisborne for killing Marian perhaps he never would be, but Guy's voice cracked with such unflinching guilt, his admission of it gave Robin pause.
Robin nodded then gave him a curious look.
"Archer, is he -"
"What? A way to redeem myself?" Guy scoffed. "No, I've done too much evil, killed too many innocents because I lacked the backbone to resist the orders of a madman. I see that now."
Robin heard Gisborne's resignation and found it hard to believe that Guy was in worst shape than he was, that his grief was at least equal to his own.
"Look, I know you hate me. Your band does as well. You don't need to put on airs for me."
"If not for redemtion, then why are you helping me save Archer?"
The question seemed to surprise and confuse Guy.
"He's our brother," Guy said as if the answer was obvious.
Then a realization hit. Guy bowed his head and his posture sagged.
"Ah, I see. You don't think I'm even capable of feeling anything for family. After all, I want to kill my own sister, don't I? I suppose I can't blame you for that either."
Robin didn't answer, but Guy knew he'd had it right.
"I've done many heinous things, but family is all I have ever wanted and it was the one thing I never had. I'm not asking for pity, perhaps, like your father, I don't deserve one, but nevertheless, Archer is family. I…"
Guy's expression hardened.
"Never mind, you'd never understand."
"I have nobody!" His words to Marian haunted.
Guy flinched from the memory.
Robin then took offense.
"I lost my family too, you know! I lost MARIAN! You KILLED HER!" Robin yelled, the anger of Guy's act resurfacing again.
Guy closed his eyes in pain, hearing the declaration.
"I know," He said, his voice trembling at the admission.
Guy took a breath.
"You don't have to tell me that I robbed you of her. How many times do you intend to remind me of what I already know? But at least you had her love, unconditionally."
Robin sighed, calming.
"I fooled myself into thinking I could substitute power over Nottingham for the family I had lost and…could never have," Guy swallowed back the rising emotion. "But I was wrong. I have nobody."
He repeated the words he had expressed to Marian.
It didn't matter about Archer being blood. In the end, when they rescued him, he would probably bond more with Robin than with him. He was truly alone in the world now.
Robin's anger dissipated as he heard almost something wistful in Guy's voice when he said he had no one.
"And before you lecture me about choices, I know full well that I didn't make the right ones…more than you can EVER know," Guy cried out in pain, winced at remembering how he had thrust a sword into Marian, how easy it went in, the shock on her face, the life draining from her body.
He saw the raw shame and hatred in her eyes reserved only for him.
That single act had completely destroyed him just as he had told Meg it had. He had destroyed her as well. Because she had felt sympathy for him, she had paid the price with her life as well.
He was truly cursed.
Robin noticed Guy's pain. Suddenly, his loss became their loss.
Guy broke off and rode further away to avoid more inquiry leaving Robin behind in his wake. If left to talk any longer, he might reveal that when death came for him, the truth was that he didn't want to be completely alone or completely forgotten by everyone. He had no right to ask it so he had to hope it would be offered if enough time passed, if given enough opportunities to do some good. It would never be enough, he knew that, but perhaps compassion might take root if shown his vulnerability. These days, it seemed like he was a raw, open wound and all he was getting was salt poured onto him.
He had once told Marian that humanity was a weakness. If that was the case, then hope was an indulgence yet he clung to it with desperation.
The road to York was long and arduous and Robin and Guy knew that they had to rest the horses as well as themselves before moving on. They knew that the rescue would be far from easy and that they would need all their strength.
As both men settled for the night, a fire warming them after a meal of rabbit, Robin pondered everything that Guy had told him and it brought back memories of Marian, not only in the ways that tore at his heart with loss and loneliness, but in ways that he had dismissed at the time, treating Marian's observations as well as the behavior he had noticed when she was with Guy, as just her inherent compassion.
In the stark light of her loss, he could no longer deny that Marian had seen something in Guy that no one else had bothered to notice, probably because Guy had never revealed himself so intimately to anyone but Marian. He also had to accept that perhaps Marian truly cared for Guy. She had defended him at times and even had told him of how he had stayed to protect her as well as Nottingham when Prince John's army had attacked it. He had seen with his own eyes, the glances that Marian had sometimes thrown Guy's way. She had even saved Guy from being drowned by him. He could no longer deny that she had been right all along about Guy, that there was more to him when not under the influence of the Sheriff.
All the more bittersweet then that she had died at Guy's hand. In her last moments with him, she had not revealed anything other than her love for him, but Guy's comment to him about not knowing anything when it came to his remorse may have hidden meaning.
"She cared for you, you know," Robin offered.
The flickering flames of the campfire shadowed Guy's face in a way that prevented Robin from being able to read what was there.
"She pitied me. Her sole purpose was to spy for you," Guy growled.
"She stayed with you in Nottingham."
"What does it matter anymore?" Guy said. His voice was littered with emotion, frustration at talking about her and also almost a cry at the edges of his throat at the loss of her.
In a quick flash of the firelight, Robin saw a tear streak down Guy's face.
"Is your purpose to torture me with reminders of her, your way of getting revenge? Because if it is, you needn't bother, believe me I torture myself every day," Guy said. "I'd think it would pain you as well to bring up those memories."
"Aye, it does, but remembering her also gives me comfort. Her compassion, even towards you."
"Because you can remember her love for you," Guy said. "For me, all I see is her ridicule and how I…"
Robin took in a breath.
"She would want me to forgive you."
"I doubt that."
"You truly didn't know her if you think that."
"But this IS me, this is who I am, the Night Watchman, everything. You say you love me and you don't know me."
Guy closed his eyes from the memory.
"Perhaps…I certainly didn't love her enough or I would have saved her like she had saved me those countless times," Guy said, resigned. "I think to this one thing, even she would agree that I don't deserve forgiveness. Not from anyone."
"If I am willing to consider forgiving you, for her, why can't you forgive yourself?"
"I don't want to."
"Because in some ways, the self-recrimination keeps her with me!" Guy shouted in pain and exasperation. "You have her love to keep you going. As hard as it is to believe, her disappointment in me, keeps me trying to make it up to her even though I know I never will. I can't give up that disillusion. Not yet. Maybe never. It drives me."
Guy turned over and sought to end the conversation and find whatever little sleep he could.
Robin decided to give Gisborne his peace for now. He had given him food for thought. Perhaps seeing his self-torment was a way for him to reach his own peace. Only time could do that.
Gisborne startled awake in the middle of the night. He looked around and all he saw was fog surrounding him. He spotted Robin soundly sleeping near the dying embers of the fire. Guy knew that he would get no more sleep and tried to stoke the flames back up for warmth.
He heard a whisper in the wind. He couldn't identify it, but it kept getting clearer and clearer until he was able to finally hear it as a voice, a feminine voice. It was calling his name. He whirled around himself to see if he could locate the direction of the voice, but it seemed omnipresent.
"Guy…" she said.
He then spotted an ethereal form coming towards him and as it got closer. He identified her. Marian. He slouched his posture in defeat, returning to the fire.
"Come to haunt me again, have you?" Guy said sadly, as if what he was experiencing was routine.
Marian's expression grew sad as well.
"Look, I know you're a dream, please just leave me alone."
"Am I?" Marian said as she pointed towards where Guy was sleeping. Guy followed, but didn't find himself there.
He looked confused, but recovered.
"It doesn't change anything. You're still dead. I still killed you."
Marian had tears in her eyes, but they were tears for him.
"I'm here to tell you that I want you to let me go for your sake. I fear you'll truly go mad with guilt if you continue to go on like this," she said, her voice having that sensitive pleading that broke his heart more times than he could count. It usually drove him to go against his nature and the Sheriff to help her at the risk of his own safety. "It's not what I wish for you."
"You're too late for that. It may not be what you want, but isn't it what I deserve? To be constantly reminded that I…failed you…that I…" Guy swallowed back his grief. "I killed you?"
"No, Guy. It's not too late. You can go on just as Robin is trying to do. You will need each other."
"Funny, Robin's father said the same thing, but he will never forgive me for killing you anymore than I can forgive myself," Guy pointedly said.
"Through my eyes, he's seen the Guy that I know, the one I told him was capable of compassion and who possessed humanity."
Guy drew a sarcastic smile. "And yet you rejected me nonetheless."
Marian's expression was pained. "As I said to you once, I had to follow my heart, but it was wrong of me to hurt you like that."
"No, you were being honest. I know that now. I just couldn't accept it. I kept harboring hope. Well, no more. That Guy died with you. He is no more."
"You're wrong. He is within you," Marian pleaded his case again. "He has always been within you, but the Sheriff and Isabella, they coerced you to doing evil."
Guy shook his head.
"No, no, no one made me kill you."
"I did, Guy, by mocking your failings, telling you that I could never love you. I drove you to kill me."
"STOP!" Guy screamed, placing his hands over his ears. "This isn't really you. This is just my mind trying to justify what I did to you."
"No, I'm real. You're not the only one who feels guilt, Guy. Why do you think I come to you?"
"Clearly to torture me–"
"No, I truly cared for you, Guy. I care for you even now. I have hurt you as no one ever should hurt someone. Where was my compassion and humanity then? I corrupted the goodness in you by my harsh words and I need to make you find it again before I can rest."
"You saw good where there was none," Guy said, repeating the words he had said to Meg, yet another casualty taken for his attempts at absolution.
He wasn't even man enough to save her.
"You're wrong, because it was there to find –"
"No, like this, it was just an illusion, a front to keep you with me. Once you saw my true nature, you knew there was nothing to save. There never was."
"Meg didn't believe that," Marian mentioned.
At first Guy was surprised that Marian would know her name, but he then reminded himself that this was all an illusion of his own creation.
"And look where it got her. Just as dead as you are," Guy bitterly spat out.
"No, she saw something worth saving as I did."
"And you were both wrong," Guy said, remorse in his voice.
"What must I do to convince you?" She said, the exasperation in her voice giving him a memory that brought a brief smile to his face.
He then became grave again.
"To trade places with you. Only then will I believe my life was worth anything."
Marian shook her head, sadness in her eyes.
Guy collapsed to his knees onto the forest floor, weeping.
"Marian…please stop this," he sobbed. "Leave me be."
"Robin's father was right. You must forgive each other, forgive me because it is me who is tearing you both apart."
Guy looked up at her, his face wet with tears.
"I'd forgive you until the end of time," he said. "But it won't change anything."
"I know you would and that is the compassion I knew was within you. You must find a way to forgive yourself."
"That is the one thing I can not do. Not even for you," Guy said as he collapsed into exhausted unconsciousness.
The visage of Marian bent down, kissed Guy on the cheek and stroked it.
"I see I have more work to do."
She then disappeared into the mist.
TO BE CONTINUED…Thanks for reading.