and once again, NO EXCUSE for the lateness and I am sorry. now this chappie started out as something that was gonna be a bit angst-galore for Will, then changed a little while into it, then about halfwya through completely changed, then changed direction AGAIN! so hopefully it all fits together fairly well. mind you it is 1:47am as I write this AN and I have proof read but bearing in mind the time there are probs loads of mistakes. err..please review. and as always..


Chapter Four

They had been riding for just over two hours and Halt was observing Will closely. It was obvious Tug was attempting to make the journey as painless for his master as possible whilst keeping up the pace but every so often Will would flinch and his lips would open in a silent gasp. It was also obvious that he was exhausted.

And rightly so, Halt thought. After all the boy had been through, being mistreated as a slave, his addiction to warmweed, then getting stabbed, add into the mixture that he was still recovering from the warmweed therefore needed a lot of rest and that he was hardly getting any he had a right to look exhausted sitting in the saddle.

"I think we'll stop here for an hour or so." He stated.

Horace looked at him curiously, about to ask why they were stopping so early but Halt gave him a pointed look and nodded to Will. The exhausted Will.

Horace helped Evanlyn down, whether she needed the help or not, he did not care, that wasn't the point. "A fire, Halt?"

"I think so." There didn't seem to be anyone around, though usually that made Halt think twice about it he knew Will and Evanlyn would be grateful for the warmth. Especially Will.

Speaking of Will...

Halt looked over to where Will was dismounting. He noticed the familiar look on his face, that expression that popped up when faced with a problem. Halt started to move over and help him dismount when Will decided he'd take his chances and got down himself.

Halt supported him just in time as his knees buckled.

He laughed sourly. A laugh that Will was not supposed to laugh. Will was an optimist, always. He didn't laugh sourly at things. "I guess I'm not as strong as I'm use to being," he mused to Halt.

And that tone. Sour and negative and...wrong.

He'd have to sort it out. Later. For now he ordered Will over to the newly lit fire and ordered him to stay there while he sorted out Tug and Abelard.

By the time everything was done to set up camp Will was out cold, lying in an awkward position by the radiating warmth of the fire. Halt raised an eyebrow in amusement. His dear apprentice was going to have one sore neck by the time he woke up.

He let Will sleep through the preparations of dinner. And the cooking of dinner. Only when he was just about to eat did he gently lay a hand on Will's shoulder and shake him gently. Will woke with a frown and as he sat up, his hand went straight to rubbing the back of his neck. Halt chuckled quietly.

"What's so funny?"

"Oh, nothing."

Will knew Halt was laughing about something to do with him, he also knew that if Halt didn't want to, he wouldn't say a thing.

The friends ate in light conversation. Bad jokes were thrown around by Horace, though Evanlyn laughed at every one. Everyone seemed content. Horace had found his best friend, alive and relatively well, considering. Halt had found his son-like, talkative apprentice. Evanlyn had been found, which was good enough for her. But she'd also been found by a tall, dashing warrior apprentice, who was also a good friend. And Will had his master and friend back. His confidence. His stability. His rock.

Will had almost everything back. But a few times during the meal he went silent and stared off into the distance a little bit. Horace and Evanlyn, too wrapped up in each other's company, didn't notice but Halt never missed a thing. And this was no exception.

After the meal Evanlyn offered to take first watch but Halt declined. She was still exhausted, and as if to prove his point after being told she wasn't needed she instantly hit the sack. Horace took first watch, which left Halt and Will alone by the fire.

Halt reached behind them to get his medical pack.

"Take your shirt off, Will. Let's have a look at that wound."

Will complied without complaint.

Halt unwound the bandages and peered at his wound. "It doesn't look too bad. Well have to make sure to clean it every day so it doesn't become infected." As he said this he reached over to the cooling pot of water near the coals of the fire.

Halt knew he'd need sterile water to properly clean Will's wound and while he was preparing dinner he boiled a pot of water, then let it cool slightly so it wasn't too hot for his apprentice to handle.

Will was leaning back on one hand, facing the fire to give Halt enough light to see in the dimming day.

"This might sting a little." He slowly poured the water on Will's chest, where the wound was.

He gasped slightly, it did sting a little, and the water, though not boiling was still quite hot. He gripped Halt's upper arm tightly with his spare hand and clenched his teeth when Halt used the dirty bandage to thoroughly clean his wound.

Finally Halt finished cleaning the wound.

"Sorry," he muttered. "But it's either a little pain now or a hell of a lot later when it gets infected."

"Don't worry about it. It's not like I've had enough pain lately, what's a little more?"

Halt looked up from where he was applying a herbal paste to numb the area a little and to help fight infection. He was about to say something when he simply shook his head and continued at his task. He gently rewrapped some fresh bandages then as Will had trouble lifting his arms higher than his shoulder, helped him get his shirt back on.

"Thanks, Halt." Will's voice was quiet.

Halt merely grunted in reply.

"I'm sorry, Halt. Really."

The older Ranger looked at him, "I know."

Will shook is head. "I don't even know why...It's just, all so hard."

"I know, Will."


Halt nodded. "Yeah. You spend so long trying to be strong for someone else, so they can get through it all alright. You spend that time being a leader, going through things that no one should ever have to. And you don't slow down to look at your doubts, or fears, because if you do you realise it's all fake and you get so scared because you think the other person will see right through you and give up themselves. So you stay acting strong and when help finally arrives you have time to stop and think and look inside yourself and you find you hate it.

"Not because of the things you've done, they aren't too bad. But because of the facade you've been putting up to keep that other person safe. And you realise that it was always a lie and if they found out now, the truth, then it would be alright, because they have someone else to turn to, to keep them safe. But after everything you find you can't let down that act because you're afraid of what people might see underneath it, and you're afraid of what you'll see yourself."

Will swallowed.


"Because I was the same, Will, exactly the same in every way. And I realised too late that keeping up the facade after it was needed was a bad idea and I lost someone very close to me. I distanced myself from them and I lost them." He reached over and put a hand on Will's shoulder. "And I don't want to see the same thing happen to you. You have two great friends, and you do not want to lose them."

Will sprawled forward and wrapped his arms around Halt's waist. Then gasped in pain as the sudden movement stretched at his wound. He chuckled a little laugh. A short, tearful but cheery laugh, and Halt knew, for now, his work was done.

"Thanks, Halt."

"Any time."

For a while afterwards they just sat in each other's company, watching the fire burn, until Halt sensed Will had a question. Ah, one of those questions, once they started he knew Skandians would burn their own ships before the questions stopped.

How he missed those questions.


He raised his eyes to the trees. "And so the begin," he muttered. Then, "Yes Will?"

"Before, when you were talking...who was it that you lost?"

There was silence then, "It doesn't matter anymore. She's gone."

aaannnnddd thats it. :P

please please please please PLEASE REVIEW! :D :D thats all th detail Ima go into with Halt and his little bit of angsty story there unless you guys want more than review dammit and tell me ;D I do have the whole story of what Halt's talking about planned out in my head and I know exactly who hes chatting about if you want it but yeah.. ermm..I think thats it.....

so please review and

luv u all..