Title: Sick Day

Author: Elfpen

Summary: The facts are simple. One, Will is undoubtedly, inarguably, and quite entirely sick. Two, it's time for the Ranger Corps Gathering again, and Will isn't going to miss it for the world. So, can the Ranger apprentice somehow use his honed skills, wit, and natural charm to pull a raging case of the flu unnoticed past Halt? Well, Will seems to think so.


Slowly, Will drifted towards consciousness. His internal ticker told him that it should be sometime around daybreak. However, as he lied in his bed slowly waking from his slumber, something felt off. His mind felt sluggish and groggy. He frowned. As his body woke with his mind, he registered with no small discomfort a horrible ache in his limbs and extremities. His frown deepened as he noted that in addition to this, his head was throbbing loudly, his eyes were gritty, and his ears and jaw were tight. Slowly, comprehension dawned, and a sinking feeling formed in Will's gut as he added up his symptoms. His horrible suspicions were confirmed when he swallowed. The taste he encountered was thick and bitter, leaving a grimace on his face. It was a taste he recognized, one that he was none too pleased to find. It was the taste of disease.

Nothing fatal, Will knew. A common cold, or perhaps a more threatening virus, but nothing that the doctors of Araluen hadn't seen and conquered before. Nonetheless, Will was extremely irritated, to say the least. Illnesses were annoying. They were painful, and they seemed to last for ages. To add to it, there was one blaring thought in Will's mind that just twisted the knife in farther. Today was the day that he and Halt were supposed to leave for the Gathering of the Ranger Corps. He had been looking forward to the Gathering for weeks - no, months. He had been counting off the days until he and Halt would finally go to see the rest of the Rangers at their annual meeting, And now that it was finally here, the apprentice had fallen victim to a petty illness.

Forcing himself into a sitting position with dizzying results, Will quietly cursed whatever disease had taken him, and tossed his bed covers aside. As this warmth was cast away, Will felt a dry chill run through his body. Cursing again, he stood to his feet, which sent his head throbbing even louder in his ears. His body swayed uncertainly as he staggered toward his ranger cloak, hanging on the wall. He draped the rough mottled fabric over his sleep clothes and huddled into its warm relief from his feverish chill. He stood there brooding for a minute or so, before glaring angrily at the mirror hanging over his small dresser. He looked horrible, he mused. His mop of hair was in a total disarray, and his eyes were bloodshot and had dark circles under them. The glands just under his jaw line were visibly swollen, and to top it all off, the combination of sleep clothes and a ranger cloak created a ridiculous look. He sighed. He was sure that if he were to speak, his voice would come out raspy and hoarse.

Halt would be disappointed, Will considered. The grizzled ranger would probably resent having to stay behind and care for a sickly apprentice instead of attending the annual Gathering. Will huffed. So much for the Gathering, he thought. He had been hoping to see Gilan again. It had been a while since Will had seen the tall young ranger, and he was rather fond of Gilan's jokes and easy-going nature. Even as the apprentice thought about his friend, he suddenly had an idea. A crazy, senseless, stupid idea. But, in his sickly state and with his adamantly determined nature, Will saw it as his only hope. Perhaps, he thought carefully, if he tried very hard to act and sound normal, and didn't let on that anything was amiss with his health, Will could convince Halt that he wasn't sick. And maybe, just maybe, he would get to go to the Gathering after all.