Robyn prided herself on her tough exterior hiding her insecurities. While Tom and Julie Hiltner had chipped away at the façade, Robyn found it easy to put it back into place when confronted. It was why it was easier to be sarcastic and defensive around Daniel and Christine while being secretly terrified. But whether it was the day she'd been having, waking up in the middle of the woods, or the pain in her ankle, or a combination of all of the above, that insecurity spilled out in the form of one word.
Robyn stared at Robert Hood. The expression on his face seemed to match hers-sheer and utter disbelief. She barely registered Daniel stepping up next to her, or John Little and William Scarlett turning to study both her and their leader….and seeing recognition dawn. No wonder everyone's been staring at me all day, well, at least that might be part of it. But no, that was impossible. In so many, many, many ways, impossible. And yet….she couldn't shake the feeling that what she'd said was correct, somehow.
Robert Hood's expression, meanwhile, went from disbelief to anger. "Who is this?" he demanded, his voice a low growl. Then, louder, addressing the crowd that had gathered, "What kind of trickery is this?!"
"I-sir-" Daniel tried, but Robert glared him into silence. He turned his gaze on Robyn.
"This is a new low, even for the prince and the sheriff," he growled. He looked furious, but Robyn detected a hint of…was that sadness? "A cruel joke." He stepped up to her, his shadow making her shiver. "Who are you?" he hissed at her. "A spy? An assassin?"
"I-I'm not-" She wanted to say I'm not who you think I am, but she wasn't sure if that was the truth or a lie. Her eyes- her eyes- were staring out of his face! Robert Hood glared her into submission, and for once in her life, Robyn held her tongue.
"S-sir, I can vouch for her," Daniel said quickly. "I-I found her unconscious in the forest-" The green eyes bored into Daniel's and Daniel took a step back, quieting instantly.
"An act," Robert waved a hand dismissively. "Though I must say, this is by far the youngest woman the sheriff has used to try to get my attention."
There was a snicker from Will Scarlett, but John Little elbowed him. He coughed to cover it.
"Look, I can honestly tell you that I don't know how I got here," Robyn spoke up, wondering where the hell this confidence was coming from in the presence of this towering man. "I can tell you that I don't know the Sheriff or the Prince or whoever you think I'm working for." She looked up into matching eyes and dared him to think otherwise.
There was a moment of silence as Robert held her gaze. "Please," Robyn used the word deliberately. "I'm just as confused as you are." That was the truth, at least.
"Robert…" John spoke up. "My son did bring her in from the western woods just this morning. She was limping. It would appear that part of her story is true, at least."
"I-I mended her ankle, sir," Christine spoke up deferentially from next to Daniel, her eyes on the ground as she spoke. "She didn't fake it, it was horribly swollen."
"Regardless," William murmured quietly, "Robert, she's been to our camp. If she truly is working for the Sheriff or the Prince, we can't just let her go."
Robert hadn't taken his eyes off Robyn during the exchange. The crowd had fallen silent, waiting to see what their leader would command. Robyn held his gaze, stomach churning from nerves.
Finally, he spoke, turning away from Robyn to Daniel. "She's your responsibility," he told the young man. "Anything suspicious, anything out of the ordinary…and it falls on you."
Daniel gulped. "Y-yes, sir," he managed. He looked at his father. John Little did not look happy with this turn of events. Robyn bet as Robert's second in command, though, he wouldn't argue.
"And one more thing." Robert turned around and pointed straight at her. "Keep her out of my sight." With that final command, he whipped around and stalked away. After a moment, the crowd began to disperse, with more whispering and staring.
She looked at Daniel with a half smile. "Guess you're stuck with me for a while," she said, feeling like she'd dodged a bullet. Or an arrow.
Christine returned to her home with her father, leaving Robyn with Daniel and his father. "Well, son, you've outdone yourself in the trouble department," John told his son.
"It appears so," Daniel replied. "Uh, Robyn, allow me to properly introduce my father, John Little."
"Sir," Robyn said, figuring a little bit of manners couldn't hurt. She offered him a hand. "Nice to meet you."
After a moment, John shook her hand. "Can't say it's a pleasure, but hello to you." He looked at his son. "We'd best get home," he told Daniel. Daniel nodded. "Can you walk?" John asked Robyn.
Robyn tested her foot. Whatever Christine had done to it, it felt much better. "Better than before," she answered. "Maybe."
John looked at his son. "If she needs help, give it to her." He smirked. "Seeing as how she's your responsibility," he added.
The Little men lived in a tree. Which, Robyn normally would've thought was pretty awesome, except that to get up to said home in tree, she had to climb. In a dress. With a bum foot. If anything, staying here is going to give me killer upper body strength, she thought as she climbed the ladder, between John and Daniel. Despite his girth, John climbed with ease. Once he arrived up on the landing that served as a porch of sorts, he offered a hand down to Robyn, and pulled her up with one hand. "Welcome to our humble abode," he said as Daniel popped up below her.
Robyn leaned on the rope railing around the small platform. "Wow," she said, taking in the view. "You can see everything from up here."
"Really?" Daniel asked as he came to stand next to her. "All I can see is trees."
She shook her head and smiled. "You know what I mean," she said. "This is pretty cool. You know, in my time, treehouses are making a comeback."
"Why would they have left?" Daniel asked. "They're extremely useful."
"Well, they're more used as playhouses for kids," Robyn explained. "Hardly anybody actually lives in them all the time."
Daniel considered that. "Their loss," he decided. "Here, come on. Let's go inside."
"Thanks," Robyn said, taking the hand he offered. Daniel helped her through the door. Pausing just inside, Robyn took her surroundings. She was standing in the main room. A small fire smoldered in a rock-lined pit in the center, smoke drifting through a hole in the ceiling. The walls were lined with wooden shelves. Robyn caught sight of some tin pots and pans on one shelf. She saw a ladder angle up and out an opening on the other wall, with footholds chipped into a bigger birch branch. "Father's room is up there," Daniel told her, seeing her staring. "I sleep here." He pointed to a bed frame lashed together with cord and branches. "But you can have my bed, and I will take the floor while you're here," he offered.
"I don't want to put you out of your own bed," Robyn protested.
"It wouldn't be the first time I've had to sleep on the floor," Daniel grinned. "I brought a stray dog home a fortnight ago and Father made me sleep on the floor and give the dog the bed."
Robyn laughed. "So I'm just another stray?" she teased him.
"Definitely the strangest one," Daniel said. His eyes widened as he realized what he'd said and snapped his mouth shut. "I-I'm sorry."
"Don't be," Robyn grinned. "You're not wrong."
"It's impossible!" Robert Hood was pacing.
Will Scarlett pointed to the floor. "If you keep that up, you'll wear a hole clean to the ground, and I'm not going down to get you. You can spend the night in the dirt." He kept the grin on his face even as Robert glared at him. "What?" he defended himself, resting his forearms on his knees. "Yes, the girl has your eyes, Robert. There are thousands of women in this country. Odds are good that someone else also has green eyes!"
Robert stopped pacing and ran a hand through his hair. "I-I just…..the resemblance is uncanny!"
"I agree," Will told him honestly, his voice turning serious. "For a moment, it was as if time had sped forward. I remember those eyes from when she was only three days old. But it's impossible-you said it yourself." Will leaned back against the wall of Robert's home. "You told John and I what happened that night. It's only been a year," Will reminded him. He tossed a thumb out the door. "That girl has to be Christine's age-a teenager at least."
"I know," Robert said finally, running a hand down his face. "Perhaps it's the missing her that has me seeing her in this new arrival's face." He stared into the fire. "Wishful thinking."
"And no one could blame you," Will said, and meant it. "Though you may want to stop hating the girl simply because she's got the same color eyes as your long lost daughter. I'm no expert by any means, but if she's a spy for our good Prince, she's a bloody good actress."
"It could still be a trick by John and the Sheriff," Robert cautioned. "I'm not ready to make friends with her just yet."
"Understandable. You tend to be sour toward your friends lately," Will grinned. Robert raised one eyebrow and Will laughed. Though Will was younger than Robin by a few years, the two, along with John Little, were brothers in every sense but blood. He knew he was safe teasing the imposing man sitting across the fire from him. "There is certainly something different about her though, isn't there?" Will continued, poking the fire with a stick. "Christine was telling me that when she first arrived, she wore some very peculiar clothing. It wasn't a fabric she had ever seen before, nor style."
"Could be something the prince has access to," Robert noted. "In any case, we'll want to keep an eye on her. I don't want her running back to her handlers without us knowing about it."
"I don't see the Sheriff or Prince John sending in a teenage girl to do their dirty work," Will offered. "You're paranoid, my brother."
"Perhaps," Robert admitted. "But paranoia breeds caution, and that's what I plan on having."