Summary: Will's pov. And explanation of Will's need to challenge Robin. Time frame is sometime after Children of Israel and before The Greatest Enemy.
Rating: G
Spoilers: First 2 series are fair game, but really only minor spoilers for Robin Hood & the Sorcerer and Children of Israel.
Disclaimer: The character and concept of Robin of Sherwood belong to Richard Carpenter and HTV.

One Leader

by: Rebecca Carefoot

I never wanted to be a leader. Why should I?

When you lead, you're responsible for the people who follow you. Your decisions are their decisions. Your choices mean the difference between life or death for them. It takes a certain kind of man to make those choices. Most can't. The fear gets to them. Doubts and second-guesses worming inside until they can't make even the simple decisions. What it comes down to is you have to be very sure of yourself, very brave, or very stupid to be a leader. You have to believe so deeply in what you're doing that you're willing to risk other people's lives. Or you have to be so vain and half-witted that you don't understand the consequences. I may not be the smartest man you'll meet, but I'm not that stupid.

Leader. To lead. It's not something I want.

And that's what they don't understand.

There can't be two leaders, Robin tells me like it's something new. As if I don't already know.

I was a soldier. I know better than any of them that there can only be one leader. I saw what happened when our captains fought for power. Battle plans were useless; men didn't know where to go. Our noble commanders scrapped among themselves while we died.

Confusion. Chaos. Slaughter. They're big words you use when you don't really know what it means to live through death. In the real world things are smaller. In the blurring silence of death you notice things. You see things like the stubble on a man's face, the pattern of blood on your friend's face. I'll never forget. I can't, can I? When there is more than one leader, there is no leader. It's a lesson I don't need to be taught.

But I can't explain that to them.

After Elena died, I didn't want anyone near me. She was the first person I really loved, first person I took responsibility for. Her pain was my pain. No, her life was my life more like. She was my wife, and in a way I was her leader. She accepted my decisions as her own...most times anyway. I don't mean that it was directly a mistake I made that killed her. But the way I felt, it might as well have been. I knew it was my fault. I was supposed to protect her and I didn't. That's all that matters. I didn't. That guilt never goes away.

Once she was gone, I changed. Whatever softness they left in me, I killed. I wasn't Scathlocke anymore, I was Scarlet, and I decided I'd do what I wanted from then on. I wouldn't care nothing for anyone else. I killed those soldiers who raped and murdered her because I wanted to. It was my choice, and I loved it.

Robin changed everything, damn him. I was supposed to die, and the fact is, I didn't much care. But living I had the chance to keep killing. For Elena and for me. He saved me from the gallows, and I expected at first I would continue on my way. Alone. Like I wanted. But he made us a group. He gave us a purpose. He forced me to care about other people again. A part of me hated him for that, still does. When Tom and Dickon and the others died, a part of me wanted to kill Robin for making me care about them just so they could be taken. I had never wanted to feel that kind of grief again, I had promised myself I wouldn't. Mainly I just wanted to leave, to be on my own so I could keep it from happening again, keep myself from the pain.

I stayed for him. Yes, I believed what he said about England, about us. At least for the moment he was speaking. But more than that I believed him, that he was Herne's son, that he was Chosen. It's hard not to believe in Robin; he's that kind of man. The kind of man that can make you do what you don't want to, make you give up a life you've chosen for yourself to live the life he's chosen for you.

I never wanted to be a leader, but I didn't want to fight for the people either. I only wanted to make my own pain less, by hiding, by not being hurt again, by killing. Maybe you'd call me a coward, but you'd be a fool. Until you know the pain of watching what you love die, you can't know how much it hurts and you've got no right to judge me. You can't know how much peace there is in not caring.

Robin made me feel again. He made our band a family, and I care for all of them, trust all of them. I know what it really means. He saved me. From what I would have become. The part of me that loved Elena thanks him for that. But there are times when it's hard to forgive him. He took my peace from me. He made me take the hard way.

The others don't understand. They think I challenge him because I want to lead. Even Robin thinks it. It's not that simple. I only wanted to lead myself. I only wanted to be alone, to make my choices for me. I wanted my heart to die with Elena. I gave up what I wanted, and I did it for him.

I need to know he was worth giving up that peace for.

When I question him, challenge him, when I demand an explanation why we didn't do things the way I wanted, why we didn't kill Gisburne or why we moved our camp, I do it because I need to know he has an answer. His choices are mine now, and I need to know they're right. It's not so easy to let go, to let someone else choose for you.

When I left him, left them all, it was because I saw the villagers turn him away. And for a moment I stopped believing. In that moment he was wrong. I had lost almost everything by the time I met him, I had nothing but my emptiness left, and I gave that up for him. In that moment, he was nothing. I had given up the little I had left for nothing. It was too much. I needed to be alone. I had to lead myself, to get back what I lost. So I acted for myself; I robbed people in need. Used to be I wouldn't have cared. Now he's changed me too much, and I can't go back. I can't steal for myself. I can't live for myself. I found out when I tried to that it's not as easy as walking away anymore.

I have to know it was worth it.

So I butt my head against his. I challenge him. And the others think I want to lead.

They don't understand.

There is only one leader. And I need to know he's a leader worth following.