There were a lot of things about Will that never failed to amaze Halt: The boy's courage, his wide-eyed curiosity about the world, his inability to consume alcohol.

In under different circumstances, Halt would have found this situation wonderfully amusing. But it was neither Alyss or Horace who had to take Will home- it was Halt.

"Watch that branch Will. Watch it-!"

In whatever intoxicated world Will was in at the moment, failed to allow him to hear properly. The branch snapped across Will's face with a sharp clap and he cried out, "OW! Bee! Bee!"

Halt merely sighed at this, readjusted his hold on Will's arm and kept trekking towards his cabin. The moon allowed just enough light to illuminate their way, but not enough to warn Will of every low branch or high tree root. As a result, the boy tripped. And often.

"You know Will," Halt huffed. "I have half a mind to leave you here in the forest."

Will happily, stupidly, shook his head. "Mmm…can't!" He wrapped his arms around his mentor's waist. "Got you and won't let you go!"

"Yes, I can see that. I look forward to your hangover tomorrow morning."

Will said nothing. He merely happily buried his face into Halt's torso, walking awkwardly along side of him. Halt mused with the idea of tripping the boy, but the warmth coming from his body was a welcome sense. It was cold tonight and a Ranger's cloak doesn't exactly keep one toasty.

The little cabin Halt called home slowly came into view. Will took no notice until they were inside, their footsteps going from soft crunching of leaves to the hard pounding from wooden floors. Even then the boy refused to let go of the Ranger. "We're home Will. You can let go now."

The boy took a deep breath. "You smell good…"

Halt rolled his eyes and steered his apprentice to the bedroom. There, he shook off Will's hands and maneuvered him into bed. "Oh yes," Halt grunted as he took off Will's boots. "I'm going to enjoy your hangover so much."

"Where did you get that scar?"

Will was pointing to a horizontal slash across the right of Halt's neck. It came from a failed assassination attempt; the villain didn't cut deep enough. "I cut myself shaving."

The boy made a face. "Liar."

Halt shrugged. "It won't matter if I told you. You'll probably won't be able to remember this in the morning."

"I like drinking," Will muttered stupidly into his pillow. "Makes me feel good…kinda like warmweed…"

A flush of red overtook Halt, anger consuming him. He suddenly grabbed the boy's shoulders, shook them and growled, "Don't you EVER say something like that again! It is easy for weak men to fall back into their temptation and I will NOT let you be one of them!"

Will's brown eyes were wide and shocked. Halt fought hard to take control of his breathing and slowly began to unhinge his fingers from Will's arms. "I'm sorry," He said, running a hand through his short hair. "I've seen too many men who gave up life for that drug and once you tasted it, it's very hard to resist it. I don't want you to become one of them."

"Halt…" Will's eyes were still bright and for a moment, Halt thought his declaration made him sober. His assumptions were proved false a moment later when a goofy grin suddenly overtook the boy and he squealed, "You care so much about me!"

Halt groaned.

()

A/N: Okay, this was supposed to be a slash piece, but ended up as this. Hope ya enjoyed! R/R!