Title: More Than Just A Memory
Word Count: 845
Characters/Pairing: Archer, Much
Warnings: Spoilers for the series finale.
Disclaimer: None of it's mine, except the order in which these words were written.
Summary: Sometimes, if he concentrated, closed his eyes and tilted his head just so, Much could see Robin in Archer.
A/N: Written for the Unusual Pairings Ficathon on the Robin Hood Fan Community.
Chasing the past, I stumbled into the future ~ T.A. Sachs
Sometimes, if he concentrated, narrowed his eyes and tilted his head just so, Much could see Robin in Archer. His former master smiled at him from behind blue eyes, spoke to him through an unfamiliar mouth. He was nestled between the wrinkles on Archer’s face, appeared whenever his younger brother grinned an infuriating grin. It was the little things: the cocked eyebrow, the layer of boyishness draped carefully over the anger boiling underneath sun-burnt skin, the childish delight with which arrows were shot, the talent for tricking and outwitting anything and anyone under the sun.
Other times, Much desperately tried to find his former master in the man he followed these days, searched his face for hints of Robin; for traces of the man he’d known, loved and served for so many years—and found that he couldn’t find a thing.
Archer never snapped at Much when he sang for him. Yes, he occasionally told Much to shut up, but there was no menace behind his words, no clasp to his shoulder to lessen the blow and certainly no apologetic look in his eyes later on.
Archer didn’t call him Mooch.
There was something about the man that intrigued Much, irritated him even. Because Robin was somewhere in there, woven into Archer’s facial features, living on in the man’s manners and his daring way of approaching problems.
He was Robin and yet he was not Robin.
Much found himself staring at the man more often than was appropriate, hoping for his best friend to shimmer through. Archer noticed, of course, how could he not? But he never told Much to look away, merely raised his eyebrow suggestively.
He was most definitely not Robin.
That didn’t stop Much from watching him though. Sometimes, he wasn’t even sure whether he was looking for Robin or for everything Robin was not in the newest addition to the gang. Resemblances made him yearn for what was; differences made him mourn what would never be.
One day, when Much caught himself looking for Archer’s eyes in his precious memories of Robin’s face instead of traces of Robin’s infamous grin in Archer’s expression, he knew something had changed. That day, he found himself wishing Djaq was still with them. She would have listened to him, heard him out, offered an explanation, a solution perhaps.
Did he need any such thing?
Much had never yearned for his former master in a physical sense. He’d yearned for Robin’s trust, his friendship, his laughter. He’d yearned for his attention. With Archer, he wasn’t sure what he wanted. Pieces of his former master, surely, but he was starting to fear he was searching for more than just a memory these days.
That thought, that realization, was terrifying.
For Much was no longer chasing memories. He was chasing something else, something foreign, something new, something scary.
Much was familiar with the taste of his former master’s skin, but not with that of his mouth. Robin could not be found in and behind the curve of Archer’s lips, not in their shape and probably not in their taste either. Much would never know, for he had only kissed his former master on his cheek.
There was nothing to be gained from kissing Archer’s lips, no memory to chase, and no past to bury himself in. Yet, Much wanted to fit his mouth against his new leader’s, trace its shape with his tongue.
It was sinful. Against the law of God. He didn’t need Tuck or John to tell him that.
But something about the way Archer’s eyes lit up whenever Much touched him, something about his expression—an expression he’d seen on Robin’s face, but only when looking at Marian—made Much doubt whether what they were doing was truly wrong. Because surely, something that felt so right couldn’t be wrong, could it? Much had often been told he was simple, but Much wondered if even the most complicated of men could be blind to the way he felt in Archer’s company; could believe his feelings weren’t to be had. For how could feeling so right be as bad as it was said to be?
Archer’s mouth felt warm against his. Familiar. Like coming home.
But Much wasn’t visiting Locksley Manor when he tasted Robin’s younger brother. Archer didn’t taste of straw and wood, of linen and lavender. He tasted spicy; exotic. He tasted of far places, distant shores, countries Much would never see. He tasted of things that were once beyond Much’s reach—things he now knew through simply being with another person. Hope. Love. Belonging.
Much didn’t love Archer the way he loved Robin. Love, he now knew, came in different forms. But there was room for both men in Much’s thoughts. Loving Robin had led him into the forest; loving Archer gave him the strength to stay there. Archer would never be Robin, and Robin had never been Archer. But that was alright. That was as it should be. As it always had been.
As it always would be.