Allan twisted to look up from where he lay on the forest floor and saw a man whom he thought was dead.
"You know," said Vaisey with a nasty grin, "I'd very much like to finish you off right now." As he spoke, he viciously yanked the three arrows from Allan's back, causing him to cry out in agony and blood to run more freely from his wounds.
"But my men have already done that, haven't they? You're already dying, aren't you? Quite terribly, I hope. Well, I think I'll just let you go ahead and die slowly, painfully alone in the woods, knowing Robin Hood and his precious band of outlaws will be dead by the end of the day. Meanwhile…"
He fumbled at Allan's neck, easily brushing aside the outlaw's feeble attempts to stop him, until he pulled out the tag which marked Allan as one of Robin's men. The former sheriff tugged it free and finished speaking softly.
"Your friends will think you died a traitor."
Allen grinned cockily despite the pain. "Yeah? Well, get ready to be proven wrong. Robin's gonna win, I know it. He'll always beat you."
The sheriff glared at the man as he rose to his feet, then, with a roar of anger, kicked Allan hard in the stomach. Pain overcame Allan, and he was hardly aware of the sound of the army galloping away as he lay groaning in the dirt.
Responding to Much's call, Robin and the gang came out to see a bundle of something lying on the bridge as a horseman rode away. Frowning, Robin leaned forward and unrolled it. Three arrows, bound by some sort of cord, fell at his feet. There was a tense silence as he picked up the cluster and inspected it. The arrow tips had drying blood on them, and Robin had a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach.
"Robin," came Much's quiet, chocked voice, "That's Allan's."
"What? Allan?" He stared uncomprehendingly at the tag, dangling at the end of the tie, as Much's words registered.
"He must be dead," Tuck stated softly, his grief evident in his expression.
"No." John sank to the ground as shock, anger, and finally an overwhelming sorrow come over his face.
"No, no." Much protested, "I don't believe it. If Allan's dead, then where's his body? He'll be fine, safe at camp. He probably just lost the tag somewhere, and whoever found it is messing with us."
Before anyone could reply, the enemy army came charging into view, and they were rushing back into the castle to prepare for battle.
Allan A' Dale came to his senses gradually. Slowly and painfully, he pushed himself to a sitting position. This caused the pain to spike, and he gasped in agony.
It's too late to warn Robin, he thought, and he and the lads will think I'm dead. I'd better just hold on until they can come find me and figure out that I'm alive after all. I hope they at least know I didn't betray them.
The outlaw dragged himself laboriously to a tree and leaned against it, not even bothering to try avoiding his many injuries. Djaq would have had his head if she saw him like that; she'd probably yell at him about keeping the wounds clean and bandaging them. Allan was beginning to think it wouldn't do any good, anyway. Maybe, after Robin won – and he would no matter what the odds – the gang would come find him, but it would almost certainly be too late.
It was alright, Allan realized. He didn't want to die and, in fact, hoped very much to live, but at least if he did it would be as one of Robin Hood's men. There were quite a lot of things Allan regretted in his life – especially being too late to save his brother, betraying his friends – but they suddenly seemed very distant. Idly, he wished he could have seen Will and Djaq again and proven his loyalty, but otherwise, as a good friend often said, it was a good day to die.
He smiled slightly at the thought of Little John before drifting into unconsciousness.
"We should find Allan's body as well," Much said quietly as they gently lay Robin's body on the sun-warmed grass, "he deserves to be honored and remembered."
"Aye. That and more."
After some discussion, the group decided that Tuck, Much, and John would search for Allan while the other two remained to help the citizens. They made their way first to the camp. The empty wall of the camp, where they had tied their friend, seemed to taunt them.
"We should have trusted him," Much murmured, "If we had, maybe he'd still be alive."
Tuck placed a hand on his shoulder. "We did what we thought was best at the time. Wondering what we could have done differently will do us no good. Let us do what we can for Allan now by honoring who he was and remembering him as a loyal companion."
John stooped and picked up some frayed rope that had fallen to the ground.
"Looks like it was cut by a knife," he commented, "I guess Allan managed to get himself free."
"Come, we will follow his trail and hopefully find him," Tuck said quietly.
It was relatively easy to track him, and when they came across two dead soldiers, they knew Allan had been well enough to fight when he made it out of camp.
"Allan was heading back to the castle," Little John commented.
"He was still going to help," Much murmured, "even when none of us believed him."
After a few minutes, they started to notice arrows stuck in trees and scattered around the ground.
"I think we're close," Tuck said, "We should split up so that we don't miss him, but don't stray too far apart."
The others agreed, and each went his own way.
Allan was pleasantly surprised to find himself waking up. He shifted a little, but it hurt too much to do more than that. He looked around. The sun was further east than the last time he saw it, so he must have been out overnight. He wondered if his friends were still alive, but he lacked the strength to get up and look.
Eventually, after Allan had been awake for a while – at least, it felt like hours but could be mere minutes – Much appeared at the edge of Allan's vision. For a minute, Allan thought he must have imagined the other man, but when he continued to not disappear, Allan thought maybe Much was real after all. Gathering what strength he could, Allan called Much's name as loudly as possible. It came out as more of a garbled moan than anything, but Much must have heard something because he looked around and caught sight of him.
Allan heard Much shout (much louder than Allan himself had been able to), "Tuck! John! Over here!" He ran over, and Allan forced himself to focus on his friend.
"Oh, Allan, I'm so sorry we didn't trust you," he said in a hurry, "and then we thought you were dead, or we would have looked for you sooner, and I'm so glad you're alive."
"It's okay, Much," he slurred, "Did we win?"
"We did," he said. Allan thought Much continued speaking but missed it as everything faded around him again.
Much had been searching by himself for only a few minutes when he thought he heard an odd sort of croak. Turning to look in the direction he thought it came from, he saw Allan, propped up against a tree and looking terribly injured by alive. He shouted for the others to join him and dashed over to his friend, overjoyed to find him not dead but concerned over his condition.
Their conversation was cut short because Allan fell unconscious soon after Much assured him that they had won – but before he had told him they had still lost Robin – so Much took the time to look at the other outlaw's wounds. Blood covered his back, probably from the three arrows that had been delivered to the gate the day before, and there was still an arrow through his leg. Allan's shirt was stuck to his back from the dried blood, but his injuries at least weren't bleeding any more. Without supplies, there was little Much could do for his friend, so all he could do was wait for the others to join them.
"John! Tuck!" he shouted again. To himself, he muttered, "Oh, where are they? They couldn't have gotten very far. Where are they?"
It was an agonizingly long minute or two before the pair appeared, running quickly from different directions. John arrived first and knelt down beside them, tears in his eyes at Allan's appearance.
"He's still alive, John," Much told him frantically, "We have to get him to a doctor."
Hope and worry fought almost visibly on John's face as he reached out a hand to grasp Allan's shoulder. Then the large man picked him up tenderly as Tuck joined them. Much hurriedly relayed the news to him, and wonder lit up his eyes.
"John, get him to the camp. Quickly. Much, run to the nearest town and get a physician. I'll do what I can for Allan, but my skill in healing is limited."
They parted once again, and Much felt hope and desperation fuel his legs as he ran as fast as he possibly could back to town.
He ended up running quite literally into Kate, who looked alarmed when he nearly plowed her over, but she grabbed his shoulders to steady him.
"What is it, Much?"
"We – found Allan," he gasped out, "He's alive – needs a physician."
Hearing this startling but welcome news, Kate sprang into action. "Wait here and catch your breath," she said, "I'll fetch someone."
Much nodded, inhaling large puffs of air as his friend ran off, and he prayed silently that they wouldn't be too late. Kate returned shortly with a thin, anxious-looking young man who had a bag, presumably filled with supplies, slung over a shoulder.
"Hi, I'm Ben-" he started.
"Nice to meet you, but we have to go. My friend's life depends on it." Much seized the physician and began to rush him toward the hideout, Kate following close behind them. The three of them made it to the camp quickly, though not as soon as Much would like. John greeted them gravely as they arrived, and ushered them in, looking relieved.
Allan lay on his stomach on his cot, and Tuck knelt next to him, cleaning the wounds as best he could. Kate's eyes widened in horror at the sight, and Ben immediately joined Tuck at Allan's side and got to work. The rest of them, unable to help except perhaps to heat water and keep a fire going, clustered silently together slightly out of camp where they were out of the way but close enough to keep an eye on their friend. All they could do was wait.
Someone was talking quietly but incessantly not far from his ear. It was oddly soothing and made Allan want to smile, but it took him a moment to figure out why. Ah, right, because it meant Much was around, which meant he was home among his friends. Gradually, the stream of sound took shape and formed actual words.
"…and Ben says you should be fine in a few weeks, and that's better than being dead, isn't it? I mean, you'll get to take it easy for a while and watch us do all the work while you laze around camp. I daresay you'll enjoy that, won't you?"
Eyes flickering open, Allan lifted his head slightly to see his friend engrossed in sharpening his sword while speaking, presumably, to Allan himself.
"And you'll probably use your near death to get us to do things for you and get out of all the chores you don't want to do. I can't believe I'm looking forward to that." Allan deemed this a good time to interrupt and announce his state of wakefulness.
"I'm not being funny, but I think I really could use a vacation," he said.
At this, Much looked up, startled into silence at Allan's voice.
"Huh, I never thought I'd see the day that you'd shut up."
"Allan! You're awake!" He hurriedly set aside his sword and whetstone and drew closer to Allan's side.
"Yeah, I noticed that, mate." He tried to sit up, but the formerly dull throb of his back spiked painfully. Much pushed him back down gently.
"You really shouldn't be moving," he told Allan, "Ben – he's the physician who's been looking out for you – said you shouldn't get up for a few more days."
"Alright. I guess getting up's a bad idea, anyway. Where is everybody?"
"Kate and Archer are in Locksley helping out with rebuilding, and Tuck and John have gone on the usual rounds," he answered carefully, "Ever since Ben said you were out of danger, we've been taking turns sitting with you and helping people out, so it's just good luck you ended up with me."
"And Robin?" There was something about the way Much's face fell that filled him with dread. "Where is he?"
Much hesitated momentarily but said simply, "Allan, Robin's dead."
"Isabella cut him with a poisoned dagger, and he died just after destroying the castle with Vaisey and his troops inside. Gisborne's gone, too."
Allan stared, overcome by the news, and Much shifted closer to grasp his hand, offering what comfort he could. They remained silent for a while, thinking of all they had lost.
Presently, Allan asked, almost fearfully, "Did- did he know I didn't betray him before he died?"
"Yeah, he knew." Much glanced nervously at his friend before continuing. "We shouldn't have doubted you in the first place, and we're all sorry about it. You're a good, loyal friend, Allan, and I'm glad you're with us."
"Thanks, Much. I'm glad to be here too."
They fell into lighter conversation after that, and despite the fresh grief coursing through him, Allan felt almost at peace. There was still a major unanswered question, however, that he hesitated to ask but did eventually.
"What do we do now Much?"
"We're going to continue Robin's fight for him, helping the people who need it and defending England from Prince John and anyone who would harm her." The former manservant looked at him seriously as he continued, "It's your choice. Do you want to join us?"
"I'm sticking with you lot, of course. Where else would I be?"
Much smiled. "Good, because who else would I find to complain about my cooking as much as you?"
Allan yawned, and he felt sleep creeping up on him as Much continued speaking cheerfully in the background. His last conscious thought was, "We are Robin Hood."
Author's Note: I'll admit, this ended up a bit longer than I anticipated, but it was fun to write. I just finished watching the show for the first time recently, and this idea wouldn't leave me be, so here it is. Constructive criticism is welcome, but so is tact. I hope you enjoyed!