Title: Pawns and Players (but open to better suggestions 'cos it's an awful title)
Fandoms: AU crossover Robin of Sherwood/The Dark is Rising Pairings: Bill (Will Scarlet)/Barney Drew, Robin/Will implied, Will Stanton/Simon Drew Archive: yes to Britslash, the Kennel and Heather (if she wants it).
Notes: I visualise this happening in the mid 1980's.
The hall is filling up rapidly. There are few other places to go after all, and the eager little freshers are desperate to increase their sense of belonging. Roll up, everybody. Join this society or that. Hell, join 'em all. Write your name on their list and give 'em your 50p. That's all most of 'em are interested in, anyway.
That was him, last year. Wandering around this dirty great hall, grudging paying out money to the Football Club and being persuaded to join The League of Sherwood. Poncy name, he'd thought at the time. Poncy name for a load of poncy prats dancing around in tights. But Robbie had looked at him with that grin of his and said 'Come on, Bill. This could be fun,' and he'd found himself handing over his last 50p.
There's Robbie now, mid way between the League's table and the Archery Society. The birds are gathering there, listening with giggly rapture to his smooth, upper class act. They're all reaching for their purses, practically wetting their knickers as he gives each of them a blinding smile as they hand him their money.
Marianne's being all gracious as she hands out the receipts. She looks good in her 'Lady Marion' gear, if you go for the tiny and feminine type. She gives Robbie a quick kiss when a couple of the birds linger too long, re-establishing her claim. Kitten with claws, that's Marianne.
She laughs at something Robbie says and kisses him again. Bill feels a familiar churning in his stomach and clenches his hand around the cheap biro he'd nicked off the GaySoc table. Mark hasn't noticed it's gone. Which isn't surprising considering he hasn't signed up anybody all night. Nor is likely to. Bill doesn't know what its like in larger colleges, but GaySoc is a bit of a joke here. Nobody who's actually gay has, as far as legend goes, ever joined the Society. Mark is the Union Vice-President and is president of GaySoc by default. He's aggressively heterosexual, a fact Bill knows all too well having spent last year in the room next to him. The only time GaySoc had members not on the Union exec was when the Liberal Society had joined en masse one year and used the money meant for a 'Promoting Gay Awareness' course to organise a piss-up. If you're queer, it's best not to be open about it here.
Si is on form tonight. He's chivvying up the would-be football players. You can see Simon Drew's history on his face, hear it in his voice: Captain of his school football team, Head Boy, model student. Si has given up the football captaincy this year to concentrate on his Ph.D. Tim, the current captain, is in the union bar with the rest of the team, getting well and truly rat-arsed. Bill wishes he was with them, but Si has talked him into sitting behind this sodding table for the night.
He knows he's easy, does Bill. A sucker for Simon Drew's earnest camaraderie, an even bigger sucker for Robbie's flirting eyes and seductive grin. Mind you, Si would be horrified if he ever found out that Bill has mild fantasies about him. Robbie, on the other hand, probably knows exactly what Bill feels about him. Not that he's ever done anything about it. But it's there between them, adding an extra spice to their 'best pals' routine. Sometimes, late at night, Robbie turns up at his door, dishevelled, wide-eyed, languid and smelling of Marianne. He sits, knees drawn up to his chin, on Bill's bed and rambles on about this and that. And Bill wonders what Robbie would do if he ever took him up on that unspoken invitation in his eyes and body.
And sometimes it seems that he knows. Sometimes, in the grey misty moments between sleeping and waking, Bill remembers what Robbie's naked body feels like against his, how his skin tastes, what he sounds like when driven out of his mind by pleasure. And sometimes Bill just thinks he's going slowly round the twist.
And there's someone heading towards the table. Small but muscular, blond hair, good-looking in a wholesome boyish way, vaguely familiar, although Bill's sure he's never seen the bloke in his life before.
Si welcomes the newcomer with a smile and Bill suddenly knows the reason for the sense of familiarity. The resemblance isn't overwhelming, but it's there. This is Si's often mentioned little brother Barney. The artist Barnabas Drew. Eighteen and already semi-famous. Strange, he hadn't expected an almost-famous artist to look so ......ordinary.
And then the artist turns fully towards Bill. Dreamy eyes roam over his body, a quick pink tongue darts swiftly over slightly parted lips. The very air itself seems suddenly electrified, and Bill knows how tonight will end.
'Are you coming to Si's party tonight, Barney?'
There, he's managed to sound hardly interested at all, just making small talk.
Barney boyishly handsome face breaks out into a delighted grin.
'*Si*? He calls you Si?'
There's a resigned snort from his older brother.
'Bill says Simon is a 'poncy name'.'
'Oh, that's wonderful! Yes, Bill, I'm definitely going to Simon's party.
You'll have to tell me all the stories about him.'
Bill can feel Robbie's burning gaze on his back. He turns and Robbie's standing as still as stone. Silently staring and somehow barely human. Bill meets his eyes, falling into their wild dark depths.
Then Marianne wraps her arms around Robbie and tickles him, making him squirm and giggle, and the moment is lost.
The party isn't a typical Football Club piss-up. There are all sorts milling round the large attic flat: the usual bunch, but also lecturers, post-grads. Robbie, Marianne and a couple of other League members are here. There are even a few arty-types, obviously invited to make Barney feel more comfortable, though he's ignoring the lot of 'em and downing cheap lager like nobody's business.
There's a bloke in the corner. A brown-haired, nondescript type. No-one Bill recognises. Even in this mixed company he seems out of place, apart. And Bill notices that Robbie's half-turned towards the stranger, a startled recognition on his face. There's something in the way they're both standing: a similar stillness. It almost seems as if the two of them are having a conversation, but neither man is moving his lips.
Bill isn't given time to reflect any further on the subject. Hands are pulling him, and he finds himself following Barney Drew down the old wrought iron fire escape and into the garden beyond.
Barney's clearly not used to booze in any quantity. Even the moonlight can't leech the flush from his face, and the dreamer's eyes aren't quite focusing on him. But that doesn't stop him from pushing Bill on to a bench, sinking to his knees, undoing Bill's flies and swallowing him whole. Barney is good at this. Even as inexperienced as he is, Bill can tell that Barney is very good at this.
Bill bites his lip, knowing that he mustn't give in to his impulse to scream.
The pain from the wound he inflicts seems to make the pleasure more intense. Part of his mind is yelling at Bill that just up that staircase are a bunch of drunken gits, his best friend, and a handful of his lecturers. Not to mention Barney's big brother. But none of that matters, 'cos Bill is flying.
And he's falling asleep, despite himself. He's aware that Barney is working at his own cock, making little moans that send shivers up Bill's spine. Bill wants to help out, but his limbs have turned to lead. There's a soft gasp beside him. Later, he feels hands fastening him up, and a kiss brushed across his temple. And then peace.
The two watchers move away from the stairs and towards the sleeping forms. The brown-haired man moves Barney Drew to the other end of the bench and arranges him in a less incriminating position. The blond man reaches out a hand to gently caress Bill's face.
'You could have stopped this, Herne's Son.'
'It's not that simple.'
'Yes, but it really isn't that simple. I've been through this too many times. I hurt him, or I hurt her. Or I hurt both of them. And I always hurt myself. I was trying to keep it less....intense... this time round.'
'We defeated the Dark but darkness still exists in man. The world will have need Barnabas Drew again. Your irresolution here could have dire consequences, Herne's Son.'
'Do not chide me, Old One. You have no authority over me.'
'Forgive me, my Lord, I spoke out of turn. But this relationship cannot be allowed to continue. You will have need of your Shield soon enough, so best you make sure of him in whatever way you have to. And Barney Drew has another destiny, painful but needful.'
Then the brown-haired man sighs.
'I hate this.'
A soft laugh, no humour in it at all.
'Tell me about it.'
Barney is gone when he wakes up. But Robbie's sitting beside him, holding his hand.
'I need you, Bill. I always need you.'
'And I need her, too. When we're not together, things fall apart.'
'I don't think I can do this, Robbie.'
'Listen. Just...listen. A few years ago, there was a ...battle. A big one. And one side won: the side my Father allied himself to a long time ago. But not all of our enemies were vanquished. There are pockets of them still living in the hearts of men. And there will be another battle. Not like the big one, but nasty all the same. And I need you, my Shield, as I've always needed you.'
'You've been in the League too long, Robbie.'
'Don't dismiss this. You know I'm telling you the truth. Somehow you always know. Every time. every life.'
'A battle, you say?'
'I'm not any kind of a soldier.'
'You will be. And we will be together.'
'Robin, call me Robin, just for once.'
'Told you, it's a poncy name. I don't use poncy names. An' Marianne'll have your bollocks if you cheat on 'er. Then she'll have mine.'
'Marianne will understand. Marion always understands. She doesn't like it,
but she always accepts it. You're the one I have problems with. And me. I
have problems with me, too'
'Which one of us is the nuttier, eh, Robbie?'
'I think it's about even, Will.'
'Bill. Don't you start calling me Will. Only me Granny calls me Will. It's a...'
'...poncy name. Yes, I know. But you're remembering, aren't you?'
'Sort of. It's all like a dream I had a long time ago. Was it real, Robbie?
Did it happen?'
'What's 'real', Will? There are more worlds than just this one, and none of them is less 'real' than any other.'
'We...I....I was Will Scarlet!?'
'That was one of your names, yes.'
'An' you was Robin Hood. Herne's Son.'
'I'm always Herne's Son, like it or not.'
'An' we was...'
'Yes. And you always stay with me, Will. Marion leaves, but you always stay.
I need you, Will...*Bill*.'
'I know. I just needed to know that you knew, too.'
'And neither of us gets any choice in the matter?'
'If I could change it..... Truthfully, if I could change it, I wouldn't. I need you.'
'Okay, then. But I'm not calling you Robin.'
'I think that's optional.'
'Good. An' you're not calling me 'Will', get it?'
'All right. So, what do we do now?'
'Well, I don't know about you, but I'm going to bed. I am, to borrow one of your phrases 'bloody knackered'.'
'Can....can I come too?'
The October morning air resounds with mildly manic giggling.
'Well, give me a few hours sleep and I'll make certain you do 'come'.'
There's a long-suffering sigh. Then a half-hearted scuffle.
Barney isn't sure how he ended up on Simon's sofa. He clutches his aching head and navigates his way around empty bottles, heading for the fire escape. The door's open and he can see down into the garden. Bill's down there with another man. As Barney watches, Bill slings an arm round his companion's shoulder.
Barney sighs. Looks like he's not wanted. Again.
Will Stanton observes Barney's slumped shoulders as he puts on his coat and walks out the door. It's going to be a rough few years for Barnabas Drew. It is possible he won't survive the coming conflict. Or, at least, not survive it whole.
'Will! When did you get here?'
'A little while ago. I've just seen Barney. He's going into town to get some breakfast.'
He follows Simon into his bedroom and makes sure that the door is locked behind him. Simon is a few steps away, looking awkward and uncomfortable.
'This is odd.'
'Will, you know what I mean. It's bad enough having Barney here. I don't mean bad, just...'
'And I'm making it odder?'
'You're always odd, Will Stanton.'
'There is that.'
'I was going to tell Barney about....about us this weekend. I never expected you to come here. You never come here. I'm not sure I can tell him now. Not with you here.'
'Oh, hell! I'm making a mess of this, aren't I?'
'Just a little. But that's all right. I love you, so I'll forgive you.'
'Annoying brat. Can't remember why I ever changed my mind about you.'
Because you realised how absolutely wonderful I am.'
'That must be it. Come here.'
Will melts into Simon's arms. For just a little while he allows himself the luxury of pretence. Simon is bigger, comforting, his rock.
'I had a dream about you.'
'Yes, and Great-Uncle Merry was in it.'
No, not now, Will thought. Just for a short while, let me have this little peace.
'Simon, Barney will be back soon. Do you want to spend the next hour talking about your Great-Uncle? Or would you rather be doing more pleasurable things?'
'Well, if you put it like that... Mmmm, that's nice. You can do that for a while.'
'It'll be better on the bed with less clothing on.'
'The man's a genius.'
'And don't you forget it.'
'Maybe you shouldn't tell Barney about us.'
'Will! I'm not ashamed...'
'I'm not saying that. Just... Barney doesn't like me very much.'
'That was years ago, Will. And I didn't like you then, either. I want to be with you, Will. And I know we can't make this public, but I don't want to hide this from my family any more. You told your family.'
'Well, I didn't have much choice after Mary and Barbara found out about us. It wouldn't have been fair, asking them to keep something like that from the rest of the family.'
'And now I want to tell my family.'
'Fine. Go ahead.'
It can't last. If Simon finds out that I'm letting Barney walk into danger knowing he's likely to get hurt, he'll end up hating me. I'm Will Stanton. A young man who wants to be with the person he loves. I'm of the Light, but I'm also me. Herne's Son gets someone to share his many lives. I only want someone to share one life with me.
Is that too much to ask for? Even I can't tell.