James Hood
by VampyrAlex


Rating: NC-17
Pairings: Jim/Blair
Category: AU, First Time
Disclaimer: Not mine, also no money was made from this, yadda, yadda, yadda.
Notes: This is the first story I EVER wrote and is meant to be a parody of one of my favorite legends, not to be taken seriously. : -) Thanks to DarkCherry and Sherri for doing the beta.
Summary: Well, It's the legend of Robin Hood and then it's not! :-)

Cast of characters

James of Loxley AKA James Hood AKA Jim
Blair Fitzwalter
Little Simon
Friar Joel
Ryf Scarlet
Henri Brown AKA H
Brief appearance by Richard the Lionheart

Sheriff of Nottingham AKA Garett Kincaid
Sir David Lash
Prince Lee Brackett
Lady Alexis Barnes



It was a beautiful sunny day in Sherwood Forest, Nottinghamshire. The breeze blew through the trees caressing the two men as they walked silently in search of their game. One dressed in lincoln green, with a feathered cap and carrying a bow, the other tall and impressive, dressed in earth colors, carrying a staff.

They had been hunting a deer for some time, but just when it seemed the battle of man against nature was coming to an end, the magnificent creature always eluded them. Finally, near a small creek, they spotted the animal again.

"Now," the taller man whispered, knowing the other would hear him just the same.

The second man nodded, taking an arrow and preparing the bow, his eyes never leaving the creature. Just as he was about to aim, the peace of the forest was shattered by the sounds of a battle not too far, and the deer disappeared, frightened. Both men left their hideout, running towards the source of the noise.

They soon arrived at a small clearing where a few of Prince Brackett's guards were engaged in battle with road bandits. The guards were obviously losing, only three were left standing. They seemed to be protecting a fourth figure, covered almost entirely in a black cloak with a hood over the head, a safe shield from strangers. One of the bandits killed another of the guards, and advanced menacingly towards the hooded figure, which drew a sword, and took a fighting stance. Meanwhile, while another guard was killed, the two strangers decided to help out. It was not a fair fight after all, even if those were their enemy's men. Drawing their swords they quickly joined the battle and soon after the bandits were on the run. The hooded figure and the last guard standing approached them.

"Thank you for the help, kind sirs," the guard said. "Those James Hood men can be really dangerous."

The cloaked one turned to him. "James Hood? Who is that?" It was a man's voice, soothing and with a touch of a foreign accent.

One of the men, the one dressed in green, asked surprised, "You never heard of the outlaw, James Hood?"

"No, I haven't. Been studying in France since I was very young. Why? Who is he?"

"A wolfshead, an outlaw. A damned thief and a killer. Sheriff Kincaid has been trying to catch him for years," the guard replied.

"Well, it seems to me that with all the resources and men the Sheriff has, he should have been able to catch that outlaw then. What's the problem?" the foreigner asked.

"The man is a fox, moves like a ghost, and the people love him and protect him. He has a price on his head and still no one will tell where he is hidden, all we know is that it's in this very forest."

The foreigner chuckled. "Then maybe he isn't as bad as you make him, if he was all that you said, the people would never support him."

"It's said he only steals from the rich, my Lord." the guard said, looking uncomfortable.

"Oh? And why is that?"

It was the taller of the strangers that answered. "He gives the money that he steals to the poor. The taxes Prince Brackett wants from them are so high, they'd lose everything to be able to pay them. He helps them out to keep their farms and their houses and a little of their dignity."

The guard looked at the two men with suspicion. "You seem to like the man."

"Oh, I do! And we have news for you, guard."


The smaller of the men grinned. "Those were not James Hood's men."

"And how would you know?" queried the guard, annoyed.

The grin got bigger. "Cause *I* am James Hood and those were definitely NOT my men!"

The guard took a few steps back and started running away screaming, leaving the hooded figure behind with the two men.

"So much for bravery and loyalty!" the foreigner mumbled. Then he looked at the strangers. "So, you're James Hood. And you?" he asked the taller man.

The man smiled. "My name is Little Simon".

"Excuse me? *Little* Simon?"

The man smirked. "Yeah. My real name is Simon Little, but as a joke to my size the guys reversed it."

"And what are you gentlemen going to do with me?"

"It depends on who you are. There are a few friends of ours that ended up in Sheriff Kincaid's dungeons, maybe we can trade them for you." Simon answered.

The foreigner took the hood off and James held his breath at the sight. There, in front of them, was the most beautiful man he had ever seen, young, maybe no more than twenty, small but with a sturdy, lean body, long curly auburn hair cascading to his shoulders, pouty full lips and the biggest, bluest, soulful eyes ever seen on the shire, maybe the entire country.

"My name is Blair Fitzwalter and I'm King Richard's and Prince Brackett's nephew. I guess you have your trade easily then."

"An heir to the throne? What were you doing on these roads with only a few guards?"

"After Uncle Richard went to the Crusades I was sent to study in France. I was summoned by my Uncle Brackett a few weeks ago."

James was going to say something when a strong coppery scent filled his nostrils.

"What's the matter, James?"

"I smell blood." Looking at the young man in front of him he saw a tear on the left arm of the shirt, slowly soaking the cloth in blood. The cloak had hidden the injury, but now it was clearly seen.

Following his gaze, Blair shook his head. "It was that damn bandit. Nearly killed me, the bastard! Thank God for my sword fighting lessons!" he grinned.

James tied a piece of cloth on the wound to stop the bleeding. It wasn't too serious, but given to infection, it could turn out to be.

Something about the innocence in Blair woke up a protectiveness in James and all he could think about was not letting any harm came to this young man.

"Come to our camp with us, no harm will come to you. We can take care of your wound there," he said gently.

Blair took a deep breath. "Well, I don't have much choice at the moment, all the horses ran anyway and I have no idea where I am. Lead the way!"

Making sure to go in circles for a while so the young man couldn't track their way, they made for camp.



Half an hour later they were at the entrance of the camp, and Blair looked around curiously. The place resembled a village of small but strong huts, and it was full of life. Groups of children played together, running and screaming, and pretending to fight the evil Prince Brackett and his men; the women chatted and laughed in between keeping an eye on the children and taking care of the day to day tasks; the men chatted, checked their weapons and kept an eye on the women. Just an ordinary day in an outlaw camp.

James took Blair to a comfortable and well lit hut and sat him down. He went to get bandages and the special ointment one of the women in the camp prepared for wounds. Besides helping the healing, it took some of the pain away.

"Need help with the shirt?" he asked.

Blair shook his head. "No thank you, I'll manage." With slow and careful movements the shirt fell to the hard floor, revealing a lean chest marvelously covered with hair.

Gently, as not to scare him, James cleaned his arm of all the blood and then the wound, trying to ignore how his senses seemed to be enjoying the closeness to the young man, how his sense of smell kept bringing up the spicy, musky scent, his hearing focused on the steady heartbeat and breathing, how his sense of touch made him tingle all over when his fingers felt the baby soft skin, and his sight found so many different shades on the silky curls.

Finally he bandaged the wound. "Here we go."

"Thank you."

Blair rose all of a sudden, not giving James time to move, and the young man collided against him, forcing him to grab him by the waist to steady him. Two pairs of blue eyes met and locked for what seemed an eternity, an electrifying feeling passing through the both of them, bringing them closer. Slowly James brought his face down, lips closing in on Blair's, a promise of something to happen.

A knock on the door shattered the moment. The young man blinked, took a few steps back and grabbed his shirt, putting it on again. James went to open the door. It was Little Simon and with him came some of the band's merry men. Simon smiled.

"Blair, how are you doing?"

"Okay, thank you."

"These are some of our bravest men... and women," he added, after a clearing of a throat by Megan. "This is Megan, Friar Joel, Ryf Scarlet and Henri Brown. This is Blair Fitzwalter."

Henri nodded. "I worked for your father before he died. Great man, he was. We were all sorry to see him go."

They all sat at a round table and James asked the question turning on his mind since seeing the young man and the bandits.

"Blair, who knew you were taking that road today? Those men couldn't have been there by mistake or chance."

The young man looked at him. "What do you mean?"

"We control Sherwood. No one can go in or out without us knowing. There are *no* other outlaw groups around here, so they were there for a purpose."

"The only person who knew was my Uncle Brackett. Are you saying it was a plot to kill me and he knew or was behind it?"

Ryf said, "You don't sound very surprised."

He took a deep breath. "I'm not."

"Want to tell us what's going on?" H asked.

Blair gazed around. True, they seemed honest, but he didn't know any of these men, could he trust them? His eyes locked with James' again, and his heart started to beat faster. What was it with that man that caused him to have that reaction? Why did he feel like he had known him all his life?

"You can trust us, my son." Friar Joel said, as if he read his mind and saw his fears.

"Well, I did go to France to study, but as soon as I was of age I went to the Crusades to join Uncle Richard. Truth is I never liked Brackett very much, but Richard... he is a good man, you know? Anyway, I fought by his side for nearly two years, and then during a bloody battle we were captured. After a couple of months in their dungeons they let me go, and told me they would let Richard go if we paid them a ransom for him, otherwise, they would kill him. As soon as I arrived in Europe, I sent a messenger to Uncle Brackett, told him the news, and asked him to help with the ransom."

"What happened?" Megan queried.

"He sent a message back saying he had no money, that the country was almost broke since Richard had left."

"Bastard!" James snarled.

"I sent one of my men to check on how things were here, to know the truth. He never told me about you, but he told me what my uncle has been doing to the people. I wrote him again, and told him I was coming home, that I was taking charge of getting the ransom, and that when the people found out it was to save Richard, they would help. I also hinted that I wasn't going to let him keep acting like the King anymore. The true King of this country is Richard, and he is needed and badly. I'll stop at nothing to bring him back. The next messenger arrived with those few guards you saw on the clearing to escort me to Nottingham where Brackett would be waiting. Seems he is staying with the Sheriff. I thought he should have sent more guards, but their captain said we would be taking a secret road through Sherwood, and that there would be no danger. I guess it was stupid of me to trust him, but I never figured Brackett really would try to have me killed, after all he is my uncle. I also never thought he would set up his own men to get slaughtered. Obviously, those guards were in on the story, but weren't expecting their deaths as an outcome. Seems I was wrong about a lot of things."

"What now?"

"No idea, Ryf. But I could use your help."

"How can you know if we can be trusted?"

Blair looked Simon right in eye. "Gut feeling. Richard always told me to trust my instincts and they say to trust you. So, what do you say?"

"If it's to save King Richard, we'll do anything we can. We'll start to talk to the people, see how much money we can raise. As for you, I think you should go to Nottingham."

Everyone looked at James like he was crazy.

"Are you crazy?" Ryf asked. "If he goes, they'll kill him."

"No they won't. They obviously wanted to make it look like we killed him, but they can't take a chance and try while he is under the Sheriff's nose. Plus, maybe he can find out what Brackett is really planning to do about King Richard. He'll always be surrounded by people, it will be safer there than here. The guard that got away will tell everyone that Blair is with us, which means we'll have Sir Lash on our backs in no time."

"That's true."

Blair nodded. "Okay, tomorrow morning I'll travel to Nottingham."

"We will escort you most of the way, to make sure it's safe. Meanwhile, you'll be our guest for dinner."

"Thank you... For everything. I guess that means you won't be trading me for your friends anymore."

"Blair, if our plan works, soon our good King Richard will set them free himself!" H said.



The night was clear but fresh, and Blair wrapped himself around the shirt James had given him. After all, he couldn't keep wearing the other one, and arrive at Nottingham covered in blood. He was leaning on a tree a little away from the mass of people by the gigantic fire, just enjoying watching the happy faces.

Soon after the conversation in James' cabin with the others, he had walked around and talked with some of those people, and his heart had hurt as he listened to the life stories they had to tell, of what they went through, the evil things done to them by his own flesh and blood, his own uncle. How could a mother bring up two brothers so different as Brackett and Richard?

He never did hear the steps behind him. "How's the arm?"

He turned to the voice. "Fine, thanks to you. I only feel a slight discomfort, that's all."

James smiled. "I'm glad." He got a little closer. "So, how did you end up going to study in France?"

"Well, my mother died giving birth to me and my father died when I was eight. Richard was about to join the Crusades and Brackett, well... Brackett didn't want to have to take care of a child, so they shipped me out to a famous professor in France. I finished the studies, and decided I wanted to join my uncle in the Crusades. End of story. But what about you, who is James Hood and who was he before?"

James' clenching jaw told Blair he wasn't very comfortable with the question, but the answer came quickly.

"I used to be James of Loxley, my father had some lands in the shire and along with my brother we kept everything running. My mother died when we were very young. One day, my brother Stephen got in a fight with David Lash and got killed. My father tried to bring Lash to justice, and instead ended up losing everything, including our land. He couldn't take it, so he killed himself. All because Lash is Sheriff Kincaid's dear friend!"

"God, I'm so sorry, James!" Blair said, putting a comforting hand on his shoulder.

"It's okay... Anyway, I guess I went a little crazy after my father's death. I went to Nottingham and challenged Lash, nearly killed him. Got arrested, lost my title, ran away and became an outlaw. At least to their eyes."

The silence between them stretched for a while, and then James turned to the young man. "We will help King Richard, Blair. I promise."

Blair smiled and his hand moved from James' shoulder to his chest, over the heart. "I know," he whispered. "I don't know why or how, but I trust you with my life."

It took a moment for their lips to join, another for them to know how good and right it felt. James explored the younger man's mouth to his heart's delight, finding his essence, finally getting input from the last of his senses on this divine creature in his arms. He had smell, touch, sight, sound and now taste. He felt Blair holding his head, making the kiss deeper, more passionate, and in turn he put his arms around the younger man's slim waist, feeling their bodies melt against each other. Finally panting but still in each other's arms, they ended the kiss.

"I don't want to go tomorrow... I want to stay with you." Blair whispered, moving away a little.

"I know, I want you to stay too, I think you're my future. But before we can truly be together, we have to rescue King Richard and defeat Prince Brackett. This country depends on us, all of us."

Kissing Blair's head and hugging him from behind, he whispered. "It's all right, we will be all right."



The next day dawned gray and cold. Seven riders passed through the trees silently, one covered in a hooded cloak, and surrounded in a protective circle by the others. Not long after, they arrived at the edge of the forest and dismounted.

"This is it, Blair." Megan said, and hugged him. "Please be careful."

"I will".

After Ryf and Brown also made their good-byes, Little Simon placed a hand on the young man's shoulder. "Don't be a hero. Just keep your ears open, that's all. Remember you are *not* an outlaw!"

Blair rolled his eyes. "All right already! Geez!"

Friar Joel was next. "My son, be sure to see where you tread and take the time to enjoy the castle's cooking. I hear it's divine! Oh, and don't forget to quench your thirst with a good wine!"

They all laughed at that and then moved away, leaving James and Blair alone. The two men gazed at each other.


"So... I guess this is it..."

"Yeah... James? Don't forget me..." Blair said in a choked voice.

He kissed the other man briefly, but with all the passion and pain he was feeling, and mounted his horse never looking back, knowing if he did he would never go.



Not twenty minutes later he was inside the castle, meeting Prince Brackett, David Lash, and the Sheriff in the main room. Brackett was seated in a large chair, resembling a throne, Lash was leaning by a wall, almost a nonpresence, and the Sheriff was by the fireplace looking at the flames. As he walked in, Brackett got up.

"Nephew! Thank God you're all right, I was scared to death! Tell us what happened! Yesterday one of the guards I sent to keep an eye on you arrived alone and said you had been attacked by James Hood's men, and that you had been captured."

Blair looked at the hypocrite in front of him, and felt the sudden desire to punch his lights out, but refrained when he thought on what brought him there. Pasting a smile on his face, he answered.

"Well, the guard got something right. We were attacked, but not by James Hood's men, but common outlaws, and they managed to kill all the others. I would probably be dead if it hadn't been for James Hood."

"What do you mean?"

"Well, dear Sheriff, it was James and one of his men that saved me from those bandits."

"They took you to their hideout?" Lash spoke for the first time.

The young man turned. "Sir Lash, I almost didn't see you there! Yes, they did take me to their camp, but they blindfolded me, I'm afraid. No way of finding the way. Anyway, they took care of my wound, since one of the bandits cut me, and then let me have dinner with them. This morning they left me in the outskirts of the town. No harm done."

Blair had decided to go with the blindfold story every 'victim' of James Hood told. He knew James and Simon had gone around in circles while taking him to the camp, but on the way back he had managed to take a good look at the trail. No way was he going to say he knew how to get to that camp, and this way he avoided more questions. Just a simple obfuscation really.

"Very well, nephew. I'm glad you're finally home, the rest can wait. I'm sure you're tired from all this ordeal, so I ordered a room be prepared for you. Get refreshed, get some rest, and we will meet for lunch. I'm going to invite a few of the noblemen that will be glad to know the news of your arrival."

Taking a small bow, the young man nodded. "See you at lunch then, my uncle. Gentlemen."

He exited the room, and walked with firm steps up the stairs making sure his boots made enough noise on the stone floor. When he thought it was safe, and after seeing no one was around, he got back down, and glued his ear to the door of the room he'd just left. The voice of Lash floated back to him.

"Well, my Lord, do you believe him?"

"Yes. He was out of the country for nearly fifteen years, there's no way he could have known Hood or even know of him. It was just a damn coincidence."

"What are we going to do?" the Sheriff asked.

"Nothing for now, I need to think for a while. After lunch we will talk again. For now... business as usual."

Blair decided it was a good time to leave and go to his room before he got caught. After lunch he'd try to listen again.

Once in his room, he took a long bath, and dressed in new cloths chosen for him by a servant. Taking a deep breath, he opened the door and left to go to the banquet room for lunch. In one of the large corridors he found Lash.

"Sir Lash? Are you lost, by any chance?"

"No, I was waiting for you."

"Oh, really? And why is that?"

"I don't believe you, you know. I think you know where to find that wolfshead, Hood."

"Well, that's too bad." Blair replied, steeling his voice, though his heart was beating double time. "Because I really don't care what you do or do not believe, Sir Lash. I do not like you or your manners and I do not need to remind you who my uncles are. They will not take kindly to any wrong done to me. So I suggest you keep your thoughts to yourself in the future. Now excuse me. I'm late for lunch."

Turning, he left as quickly as possible, without giving the impression he was running, always feeling Lash's eyes on his back. He arrived at the banquet room and was immediately greeted by his uncle at the door.

"Nephew, I want to introduce you to a few of the noblemen that favored us with their presence today, but first I want to have a small talk with you."

"About what?"

"Well, the last years, since my good brother went to the Crusades, the country has been having some financial problems. I have managed to keep things under control, but the Court's chests are almost empty, and we need money fast, or with the winter so close, we will have no food for the poor in case of a failed harvest, or one of nature's disasters that happen so often."

"Hypocrite..." Blair mumbled.

"What was that nephew?"

"Nothing, my uncle, nothing. But what does that have to do with me?"

"Blair, you had your twenty-first birthday this year, and all your father's lands and title are yours now, so it is time you settled down. Now, I know you are Richard's ward, not mine, but since he is not here, I decided to take his place and find you a bride. She is the daughter of an extremely wealthy man, and since you are indeed the heir to the throne next to me, you will need the money her dowry will bring. Besides, Lady Alexis Barnes is one of the most beautiful women I ever seen. You could do worse."

"What? Uncle, I do not wish to be married! I will not do this and you have no right. Only the King can decide who I marry and you are not the King!"

Brackett grabbed him by the arm, ignoring his wince of pain as he touched the wound. "You listen to me! Richard is not going to come back, and I will be King. That's why these people are here, they are my supporters, and Lady Alexis' father is one of the biggest of them, and wishes her to marry you. Now, you *will* obey me, or your life will come to an end pretty soon. Do I make myself clear?"


"Good. Now, put a smile on your face, and meet your bride and the other guests."

Almost dragging him inside, Brackett started to introduce him to all the noblemen, finally stopping in front of a young woman.

"Blair, this is Lady Alexis Barnes."

She bowed to them. "My Lords..."

Lady Alexis had blond hair and blue eyes, and was indeed a beautiful woman, but looking into her eyes, all Blair could think about was James, and how much he wanted to be in Sherwood in the strong man's arms. Still, not being able to do much for now, he sat by his bride's side and ate lunch, speaking only when spoken to, always with a fake smile on his face, but his sad eyes revealing what he really felt.

He felt Lash's eyes on him during the whole meal, and couldn't help feeling a sense of dread. What was going to happen to him now?



After the meal, Blair saw Lash, Kincaid, and his uncle moving to the main room again. No one else was around, so he went to listen by the door again.

"Have you thought about what we are going to do, my Lord?" Sheriff Garett Kincaid asked.

"Yes, I have. I *am* going to be King and for that I have to get rid of Richard, having him away in a dungeon isn't enough. Tonight, I'm sending a messenger to those infidels, saying they can keep my brother and go to hell. With the news of the demise of my dear brother, I will have no choice but to step in his place, brokenhearted but determined to honor his memory."

Lash laughed. "Perfect, my Lord. And your nephew?"

"He will obey me, he has no option, but nevertheless, keep an eye on him for a while. I need Lady Alexis father's dowry and bad. These dinners and parties for supporters cost money, and ever since that outlaw Hood started to attack us, I don't have nearly enough for my plans."

"That's another thing, we have a few of his people in our dungeons. What are we going to do to them?"

"Hang them in the morning. Maybe he'll try to set them free, and we can catch him."

"Very well, my Lord. I'll take care of that."

The conversation went on, but Blair stopped listening. He had to get word to James about the messenger, and had to free his people. Thanking God he had spent many summers there when he was a kid, and knew all the corners of the castle, he went to the stairs that led to the dungeons, as silently as possible, checking at every curve to see if he was alone. Finally arriving, he saw a guard.

"Damn..." he muttered.

Seeing a steel bar next to him on the ground, he grabbed it and put it behind his back. Taking advantage of the fact that the man was pacing, Blair waited, and as soon as the guard turned his back on him, he approached and raising the bar, hit the man on the head with it. Then getting the keys, he opened the only occupied cell.

Several pairs of eyes looked him up, trying to figure out who this young man was.

"I came to get you out of here. The Sheriff is planning on killing you tomorrow morning."

They all got up, and a woman approached him. "My name is Carolyn. James sent you?"

"Not exactly. Come on, no time to explain now. I know a secret passage that will take you near the forest, I'll take you there."

Through the corridors, he took them to the entrance of the passageway, and while the others started going, he took Carolyn's hands. "I need you to give a message to James. Tell him a messenger is leaving here tonight to tell the infidels they can kill Richard. He has to stop him, it's in his hands now. Brackett wants to become King, and will stop at nothing to do it."

"Ok, don't worry. James will know what to do, you did the right thing. Anything else?"

The young man blushed. "Tell him... uh... T-tell him I love him."

She smiled. "I will. Bye"

Waiting until the woman was out of sight, Blair started to get back. Arriving at the dungeon area, he prayed the guard was still asleep, which he was, but just as he was getting to the stairs, a voice stopped him. "Going somewhere?"

He turned and stood face to face with Lash and Kincaid.

"I knew you wouldn't stand still. Too bad, really, such a young age to die." Lash said. "What do we do with him?"

"Take him to his room for the moment. I'll ask Prince Brackett what he wants to do."

"Right." Manhandling him none too gently, Lash took him to his room, while Kincaid disappeared to go find Brackett.



James and Little Simon were counting the money they had managed to get for the King's ransom, when the door opened all of a sudden, and Megan walked in like someone had knocked the wind out of her.

"You won't believe who showed up!"


Megan stepped out of the way, and Carolyn walked in surrounded by Ryf, H. and Friar Joel.

"Carolyn! How did you manage to escape?"

Closing the door for some privacy, she shook her head. "I didn't, I was set free, me and the others."

"Set free by whom?" H asked.

"A young man, said his name was Blair."

"Jesus! If Brackett or the others find out..." Ryf whispered.

"I don't think he had much choice, he said the Sheriff was planning on killing us tomorrow morning. He gave me a message, though. There's a messenger leaving the castle tonight, to tell the infidels that they can kill King Richard, that he won't pay the ransom. Blair said Brackett wants to be King at any price, and I guess the first step is getting rid of the competition."

"Not if we can help it! Simon, organize a small group of people, and put them along the main road, he won't dare go through Sherwood. Post lookouts near the castle, so we know when the messenger leaves."


After all the others left, Carolyn turned to James. "He gave me one more message."


"That he loves you."

James blushed, but smiled. "Thanks.... And welcome back."



Lash closed the door behind him, and threw Blair on the bed.

"It's just us now, boy. I knew my instincts were right, you know where to find those outlaws, don't you? You believe they are fighting for a good cause, don't you? Talk, you little witch!"

"I don't know what you are talking about!"

"Really? We know you were the one to release those prisoners. Do you deny that?"

Blair kept his mouth closed and looked at the man, obviously he was enraged, which made him very dangerous. He had to be careful with his words.


"Fine, I did it. But only because they were going to be killed. I'd have done the same even if they hadn't been Hood's men."

Lash snarled. "Yeah, right! You can't fool me! I know people like you, parading yourselves in front of everyone, thinking you can do anything.... Well, not here!"

He hoisted Blair out of the bed, grabbing him by the shirt bringing them chest to chest, and looked him in the eye.

"The Sheriff, he thinks he is the master around here, but in reality, I'm the one that holds the cards, the one the men obey. And I can make you pay dearly for crossing me, boy. Where is Hood's camp?"

"I told you I don't know!"

"Liar!" Lash yelled and slapped him hard. "I want the truth!"


And before Lash could hit him again, he punched him, knocking him to the floor. "Never, and I mean NEVER, hit me again Lash!"

Before any of them had time to say anything else, the door opened and Brackett and Kincaid walked in.

"What is going on here?" the Prince asked.

"Nothing," Lash hissed, getting up. "So, what are we going to do with him?"

"I need him to marry Lady Alexis, so we can't kill him right now. I already sent word out that tomorrow we will have a celebration dinner to announce the engagement, and in seven days time the wedding will take place. He will remain a prisoner in this room, and will only go out for the dinner, and the wedding. After that... he'll have a tragic accident somehow. Too bad he won't be able to attend the wedding night, but maybe one of us can comfort the grieving widow." They laughed at that.

"And what if I refuse to go through with the dinner and the wedding?"

"Oh, my boy! Unless you want those friends of yours dead, you will do as you are told."

"Friends? What are you talking about?"

"We managed to recapture Hood's men." Kincaid lied. "Their lives are in your hands."


"Yes. So, what will it be, will you behave?"

Shoulders bent in defeat, and head bowed, he whispered the only possible answer. "Yes..."

"Good boy! See you tomorrow at dinner then."

The three men left, leaving him standing alone in the room with his dark thoughts. And again James came to his mind.

"Now we'll never know if I really was your future..."



A few hours later, the door to his room opened again, and a servant girl walked in with a tray full of food.

"Your dinner, my Lord."

"You can take it back, Whitney, thank you. I'm not hungry."

Making sure that the man standing guard was outside and had closed the door, Whitney turned her attention to the young man.

"You know, I always liked you very much Blair. Even when we were kids, you always played with me, and never treated me differently because I was a servant's daughter, or later, a servant. It's time I do something for you. Let the tray stay, you might change your mind."

Giving him a small kiss on the head, she left the room, leaving behind a very confused young man.



It was close to midnight when Little Simon, Megan, Ryf and H. joined James and Friar Joel in James' main cabin room.

"Well?" Friar Joel was obviously worried.

"The messenger is dead. We didn't mean to kill him, but he gave quite a fight and we had no choice." H. replied.

James nodded. "Unfortunate, but necessary. Good work." There was a knock on the door. "Come in."

Whitney walked in and Megan smiled. "Whitney! What are you doing here?"

"I bring news from the castle."

"What's going on?" Ryf queried.

"Blair is in trouble."

"What?" They all got up.

"Kincaid and Lash found him after he set our people free. He is locked in his room for now, but I overheard some talks, and they are planning to kill him."

"God..." James whispered, feeling his heart beat faster.

"Not that I'm complaining, but why wait to kill him? I mean, now they can accuse him of treason, and just hang him!"

Whitney nodded to Simon. "Yes, but they need him. Brackett wants to be King, and for that he needs supporters, and supporters cost money. One of his supporters will give him a big dowry and I mean big, if his daughter gets to marry Blair.

"Damn!" H cursed. "It's a good plan. I mean, think about it, Blair is an heir to the throne, the only one after Brackett, if Richard dies, and the man obviously doesn't know they are planning on killing his daughter's future husband, all he knows is his daughter may end up Queen. Anyone would give a fortune for that to happen!"

"Exactly," Whitney agreed. "Now, from what I heard, the plan is having the wedding in seven days from now. Brackett gets the dowry, and then kills his nephew, making it look like an accident. He gets rid of two problems, gets the money, and loses the only person that can threaten his chances of being King should Richard really die, plus someone that is against him, and on our side."

"There's one thing I don't understand," Megan stated "Why would Blair go along with that? He doesn't seem the type to go without a fight."

"He isn't. I don't know exactly who, but I think they threatened to kill someone if he didn't do what they wanted. I heard Kincaid pride himself of having the idea, but couldn't tell who it was they were using."

"God, we have to do something," James said, pacing.

"Yeah, but what?" Simon asked. "We can't just attack the place, it would be suicidal."

"From the outside yes, but there's another way."

All eyes turned to Whitney.


"Tomorrow night they will have a big dinner to celebrate the engagement and to make it official. Well I know for a fact that they hired a band for entertainment. You can grab them and take their places. You know how to play instruments, it will be easy. All you need is a few disguises."

"Whitney, you are a jewel! Simon, have someone watch all the roads leading to Nottingham, and warn us when the musicians show. Let's get this country back to King Richard."

"Long live King Richard!"



The door opened and Lady Alexis walked in. Bowing to her future husband, she said, "My Lord, Prince Brackett asked me to come and get you. All is ready to our engagement dinner."

"My Lady, I must be honest with you, I have no desire to marry at this time. I'm being forced by my uncle, as I'm guessing you are by your father."

She smiled and shook her head. "No, I'm not being forced into this marriage my Lord, I was the one that gave the idea to my father."

"What? Why?"

"I want to be Queen, it's that simple. I wasn't born to be the wife of some simpleton nobleman, I want power, and the easiest way to get it is by marrying you. I don't care what kind of marriage we'll have, but there will be one, make no mistake about it."

Blair took a good look at the calculating woman in front of him. "You're forgetting one thing. King Richard may be away, but is still King, and even if he dies, Prince Brackett will be the direct heir to the throne."

Alexis laughed, a cold sound, sending shivers down Blair's back. "Yes, but I know Brackett sent a messenger last night to tell the infidels to kill Richard, so he is as good as dead. And as for Brackett himself... well, maybe in the near future he will have a hunting accident, or maybe eat something that wasn't proper. You never know."

"You're planning on killing him?"

"Yes, and you will say nothing about it. He will never believe you, and I know you're in enough trouble already. Now, let's go to the dinner."

Taking his arm, she lead the way to the banquet room, while Blair kept thinking there wasn't an honest person in all the damn Court.



"My Ladies, my Lords, Lady Alexis Barnes, and my Lord Blair Fitzwalter."

As they walked into the room, all heads bowed to them until they were seated at Prince's Brackett's table, along with Alexis' father, Lash and the Sheriff.

Brackett got up, and beating his fork on his goblet a few times to get everyone's attention, he finally said, "My friends, we are here tonight for a joyous occasion. It is with great pleasure that I announce the wedding between my dear sister Marian's son, Blair Fitzwalter, and Lady Alexis Barnes. The wedding will take place in six days, and of course you are all invited! For now, just eat and be merry, and toast to the future happy couple. May they have a long life together!"

The toast was made, and the band started to play a happy tune in the background, though no one was paying much attention, everyone was too busy with the newest gossip.

Once again, during most of the meal Blair was quiet, thinking about his life. In less than a week, he'd be a dead man, and his last memory of this earth would be a wife that he didn't want, and that was as evil and greedy as the other three men around him. If only he could see James for one last time...

"Oh, James... I love you..." he whispered, and in the corner where the band was playing, one of the musicians whispered back.

"I love you too..."

The night passed slowly, at least for the 'musicians' and for Blair, but finally, around midnight, the guests started to leave. Blair did his duty as host, and along with his uncle, saw the noblemen and their families to the front gate. Lady Alexis Barnes and her father were the last to go. Kissing her future spouse coldly on the lips, she smiled.

"Can't wait for our wedding night, my Lord," and laughing that cold laugh again, she left.

Prince Brackett turned to his nephew. "You did well. Seems that our prisoners will keep their heads... at least for a while more," he added laughing.

"Go to hell! You know you won't get away with this, don't you? James Hood will stop you! Richard will come back!"

"Don't kid yourself, child! My brother is dead! I am the King now!"

"You are *not* my King and will never be! My King is Richard, you're just a wannabe and a poor one at that!"

Lash grabbed him by the arms. "Watch your tongue, boy! Or I will personally take great pleasure in teaching you some manners!"

Blair snorted. "What? Like yesterday? I don't think so!" And that said, he hit his knee on the man's groin, and punched him to the ground again. He was going to turn to his uncle, when he found himself face to face with Kincaid, sword in his hand, and ready to strike.

"Don't make me use this, Blair!" he hissed.

"I wouldn't do that," a new voice warned.

"What's the meaning of this?" Brackett growled to the musicians that dared to speak up to him.

"Not one hair of that boy's head is to be harmed, if you know what's good for you," one of the musicians said, a tall, dark man.

Blair took one look at him, and started to laugh. "Man, where did you get that outfit?"

"Hey, it was the best I could come up on such short notice," Simon replied, also smiling.

They all took their wigs and hats off, and Kincaid took a step back. "Hood! It's not possible!"

"Oh, but it is," James said, smiling.

Brackett turned to his nephew. "You did join them, didn't you? That's why you freed the others."

"Don't you mean, tried to freed them? You captured them again."

"No, they didn't." Megan said, and Blair looked at them.

"Carolyn and the others got to the camp then? They gave you my message?"

"Yes," Friar Joel answered. "They told you they had captured them again? Is that why you agreed to this charade?"

Blair nodded silently, and turning all of a sudden, punched Kincaid so hard, they heard his jaws pop.

"The kid sure can throw a punch," H whispered.

"Son of a bitch! And you!" Blair growled.

Looking at his uncle, he started to advance, but a yell from Ryf stopped him. "Blair, look out!"

There was nothing he could have done, Lash had hoisted himself off the floor, grabbed Kincaid's sword, and was striking a blow to his heart all in a matter of seconds. The blade was inches away from him, when Lash stopped cold. He made a strangled noise, looked at the arrow suddenly buried in his chest, and dropped dead on the ground.

All eyes turned to James, seeing the bow still in his hands. Blair smiled at him. "Thanks. Seems you saved my life... again."

"Don't mention it."

"James..." the young man warned suddenly, seeing Kincaid grab the sword.

"It's okay, Blair. He's mine, we have some unfinished business."

Kincaid took a fighting stance, and a true duel of masters started. Both men knew special moves and tricks, but James was younger and in better shape, and after a few minutes of close calls, he finally disarmed Kincaid.

"Consider yourself lucky I don't kill you!"

At that precise moment, the guards attracted by the noise walked in, and Brackett yelled. "Arrest them all!"

Blair thought quickly. "Don't you dare!" he growled. "From this moment on, Prince Brackett is no longer the Regent of this country, and both he, and the Sheriff, are under arrest. They conspired along with Sir Lash to take over the country and have King Richard killed, and are charged with treason. I will take Prince Brackett's place until King Richard returns. Any objections?"

His voice left no room for doubt, and the guards bowed to a choir of, "No, my Lord."

"Excellent. In that case, take those two to the dungeons."

"Very well, my Lord."

The two men were dragged to the dungeons kicking and screaming, leaving the outlaws, and the young man smiling at each other.

"That was pretty impressive," H stated.

"Thanks." Looking around, Blair saw the royal secretary trying to get away.

"Going somewhere, Alan?"

"I... No, my Lord."

"Good. Your job is to take down and enforce the royal orders, am I right?"

"Yes, my Lord."

"Here is my first wish as Regent. From this moment on these men will no longer be outlaws and the price for their capture is to be dropped."

"But, my Lord --"

"Are you contradicting me, Alan?" he queried in a menacing voice.

"Oh no, my Lord! Forgive me, my Lord!"

"Fine, then. Then do as I say. And another thing, tomorrow when I wake up, I want to hear that the taxes were lowered to half of the current price. Do I make myself clear?"

"Yes, my Lord. It will be done."

"Good. Now go do your job."

After the man left, Megan asked. "What now?"

"Well, it's too late to make any more decisions, or make any other moves, so I propose we all get some sleep. Consider this castle as your home, there are plenty of empty rooms to rest in, and plenty of food in the kitchen, which I'm sure Friar Joel will be glad to know." They all laughed. " And again, thank you for helping me."

"It was a pleasure," Ryf said. "If we didn't have King Richard, I'd be honored to have you as King."

Blair's eyes widened. "Oh, my God, I almost forgot! What happened to the messenger?"

"We got him."

"Thank God! Tomorrow we will have to see how much money is in the safes. We need to put the ransom together."

"Yes. We've managed to get some money together already, but tomorrow we will see what else we can do. Guys, go find a room to rest, Blair and I still need to talk."

"Okay, Goodnight."




Blair led James to his room, and as soon as he closed the door, found himself surrounded by a strong pair of arms. Relaxing in the warmth of the hug, he sighed.

"God, I missed you!" James whispered. "How can I possibly be in love with someone I met three days ago?"

"Love at first sight?" Blair ventured, smiling.

"Whatever it is, I thank God for it."

The outlaw took Blair's hand, and looked into those wide blue eyes. "I love you, you know?"

Their lips came together in a sweet chaste kiss, becoming hotter as the passion took over their bodies. Moving closer to the bed, they stared at each other awkwardly for a moment, until Blair finally took the lead by slowly taking his clothes off, then laying naked on the covers. James took a minute to run his eyes over the lithe body so wantonly displayed for him. Beautiful, the face of an angel, the body of a devil, and all for him.

Taking his own clothes off, he sensed the young man's eyes on him. Blair was taking in everything, every detail of the man in front of him, the cropped silky hair, the clear warm blue eyes that smiled each time they looked at him, the muscled fit body, powerful but so gentle at the same time. A wave of lust went through his body, shocking him, and making him hard.

"James!" he begged.

The older man finally joined him on the bed, putting most of his weight on him, but not enough to make breathing difficult. They kissed again, hands touching each other without reservations, with all the love they were feeling, all the despair of having been apart.

James started to rain kisses from Blair's jaw to his neck, pausing to nip one earlobe, licking, nibbling, leaving several love marks, claiming this young man as his. Moving down further, he found a nipple and caught it lightly between his teeth, biting gently until it was a hard nub, then licking, nibbling again, until Blair was sobbing and writhing under him. Finally satisfied, he moved to the other nipple, and gave it the same loving treatment, enjoying Blair's increasing moans and little whimpers.

Continuing his journey down, he stopped to lick and nip the ribcage, causing a deeper moan, and traveled all the way to the navel, paying special attention to the delicate button, licking, plunging his tongue inside, rimming it, nibbling the edge. The reaction to his loving was explosive, the moans and whimpers got louder, while Blair shook his head from side to side, holding the bed covers for dear life.


Deciding he had teased the younger man enough, he turned his attention to his prize, Blair's cock, hard, throbbing, and weeping pre-come. Licking it once, he took the head in his mouth and sucked, causing a scream and a thrust of hips from his lover, nearly gagging him. Grabbing Blair's hips in his strong hands, he let the cock slide down his throat again, sucking again, licking, even nipping lightly until Blair screamed his name and came in his mouth, making him swallow every drop of his seed and then raising to kiss the young man, allowing him to taste himself on his lips.

"Oh God..."

"Liked it? There's more."

He let his hands slide to Blair's ass, caressing and squeezing the cheeks, asking for permission.

"Please... Yes."

"Turn around."

Blair obediently laid on his stomach, while James started a slow, loving kissing session, starting on his neck, going all the way down his back and ending on his buttocks, with more licks, nips and sucking. The younger man was helpless under the sensual assault, only managing to moan or whimper, writhing under James' weight holding him down. James pulled his cheeks apart, and with one finger, caressed the opening to Blair's passage. Using the ointment he had used before on the wound, he stretched his lover slowly, first one finger, then two, finally three, until he thought he was ready.

"Turn around, I want to see you..." he whispered.

With Blair facing him, James entered the tight passage tenderly, not wanting to hurt his lover, giving him time to adjust. Not long after, he was fully inside, stroking Blair's sides and then started to thrust, gently and slow at first, and when the young man started to thrust back, faster and harder. Pumping his lover's cock hard again, they started a perfect rhythm until they came together, calling each other's names.

They cuddled under the sheets, and were nearly asleep when James whispered. "I love you, you know?"

"I love you too."



Blair never knew waking up could feel so good, with a mouth nibbling his earlobe gently, and two strong arms keeping him warm. "Ummmm..."

"G'morning, sleeping beauty."

"G'morning, James. Sleep well?"

The older man laughed. "You can say that, yeah."

There was a knock on the door. "Blair, it's Simon."

"What is it?"

"There's a man downstairs to see you. Said he came from far away to see the Regent."

"Oh damn..." he muttered. "Ok, tell him I'll be right out."


Both men dressed quickly, after an even quicker wash, and went to meet the stranger. He was seated in the main room, cloaked in a similar hooded cap, as the one Blair had when James and Simon had met him, also shielding his face, with Friar Joel, Megan, Simon, Ryf and H. keeping a close eye on him. It almost made the younger man laugh, feeling how protective they were of him.

"May I help you, Sir?"

"Are you the Regent?"

"For the moment, yes."

"I'm sorry, I thought the Regent was Prince Brackett."

Blair took a deep breath. "My name is Blair Fitzwalter. My uncle is no longer the Regent, I'm afraid. I'm taking over until the time we have our dear King Richard back."

"You think that will happen?"

"Definitely. He was still alive, not so long ago, I saw him myself, and even though he was caught by the infidels, we are gathering the ransom they asked for him as we speak. He will be our ruler once more."

"I see. And why isn't Prince Brackett Regent anymore?"

"He, the Sheriff, and Sir Lash, tried to plot to kill the King. There was no way I was going to let them take over the throne, and the country. I'd do anything to stop them."

"Even join common outlaws?" the man asked, pointing out James and the others.

"There is nothing common about them, Sir, and they are not outlaws anymore." Blair answered in a cold voice.

"Because of a law you made. And if the King doesn't approve of this?"

"Then I will become an outlaw with them."

"Against the King of whom you so valiantly spoke seconds ago?"

"If need be. I love King Richard, but these men stood up for him, for his throne and his country, while he was in the Crusades. Well, damn the Crusades! He should have stayed home and taken care of his people!"

"But you fought alongside him in the Crusades, did you not?"

"Yes. He was the only family I really ever had, not even my father was that close to me, and if the only way to be close to him was to join him, so be it. But... he should have stayed...." he looked at the hooded man with moist eyes. "...*you* should have stayed...." And with that he knelt on his knee and bowed his hand. "My Lord..."

The man took the hood off, and the others were face to face with King Richard himself. They all knelt as well.

"Rise, all of you."

When Blair was looking straight at him again, he nodded. "You are right, I should have never left this country. It was a mistake I will never make again. But I am proud of you, my child. You truly have the spirit of a Lionheart."

"So, you're not mad about what I did and said?"

"No. I wanted to test your convictions and your motivations, that's all. I have spies all around, my boy, and as soon as I got back in the country, they told me exactly what my *dear* brother was up to. You did well, you and your friends."

"What happened? How are you here? I mean, the ransom --"

"I got away. Pure luck, they were transferring me to another prison and I managed to escape. Now, to business. Alan!"

The royal secretary walked in. "Yes... My Lord, you're back!"

"How perceptive of you. Write this down: From this moment on, I will take my rightful place as the King of England, with Blair as my only heir. My brother will lose his title and his lands, as will Kincaid, and both will face trial for the crime of treason against the state. Since my nephew already lowered the taxes, and declared these men... and women..." he added after a clearing of throat from Megan. "...not outlaws anymore, all I have left to do is return to them their lands, and titles, as of this moment. And since we need a new Sheriff... Sir James of Loxley, will you accept the job?"

"Yes, my Lord. Thank you."

"Don't mention it. Anyone my nephew considers worthy of helping him, is no doubt also worthy of such a position. And you, good man, what is your name?"

"Little Simon, sir."

The King chuckled. "I see. Well, you will take Sir Lash's job and take care of all the guards, security, all that."

"Yes, my Lord, thank you."

"The others can be your helpers in whatever you need. Well, that's done, it's time to go. I can't wait to go to my castle, and see if it's still standing! Blair, come."

"My Lord..."

The King turned and saw his nephew still standing in the same place. "Well? Yes?" Seeing the sad look on Blair's face, he nodded. " I see. You want to stay with them."

"Yes, my Lord."

"Very well." He turned to the others. "I'll leave him to your care then. Remember he is my only heir now, and quite possibly the future King of this nation."

"Yes, my Lord."

"Good. Time to go. Alan, you're coming with me."

"Uncle, thank you."

"Just remember to come visit me sometime, you hear me?"


After the King left, all went to their new posts, except James. They looked at each other and came closer.

"Forever?" Blair whispered.

"Forever," and their lips met to seal the promise.

And they all lived happily ever after.

Final note: The King ruled until the end of his days, time in which his heir got the throne. Blair, the new King never got married, but together with the Sheriff James of Loxley had a prosperous reign, making the country the most powerful of Europe at the time. Kincaid and Brackett both rot in a dark dungeon for the rest of their miserable lives, and guess what? Lady Alexis Barnes did marry a simpleton nobleman, but more than she bargained for. His name was Sir Dawson Quinn. :-)


P.S.- I made it all up and any similarities to the actual story are a DAMN big coincidence!


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