Coffee, the true price of addiction.
This story was written for one of my best friends on her birthday, Werewolf 13, who not only provided me with the idea for this story but who also gave me a block of chocolate so that I could stay up all night and finish it. lol. :D I am now super tired and brain dead but she likes the story so it was worth it.
Werewolf 13/Ashley has recently discovered the joys of coffee and as i watched her bounce around like a super hyped boncey ball, talking the fastest she has ever talked in her life immediately decided to write a fic about coffee. This is what resulted, even if it wasn't what i had intended to write origionally. I was laughing as i wrote it (although that might have been because it was really tired and i was super exhausted) and hopefully you like it and find it as fun to read as i found it to write.
Thank you! HAPPY BIRTHDAY ASHLEY!
Will was waiting nervously on the crest of the hill above Redmont and his eyes darted restlessly back and forth in an attempt to spot his companions approaching. Tug stood grazing behind him at the tree line and the young ranger was beginning to regret his decision to come early.
It was time for the annual ranger gathering and Will had arranged to meet with Halt and Gilan just outside Redmont so that the three of them could travel to the gathering together. Will had arrived early to try and catch Halt off guard. It had seemed like a good plan at the time but now Will was remembering his first gathering and how Gilan had tried to out smart the grizzled old ranger and, most importantly, how he had failed miserably.
Somewhere in between his second and his third coffee that morning Will had started to suspect that out foxing Halt might not be as easy or as fun as it had seemed at the time. The meeting site was exposed and there was no way Will could wait in ambush for Halt on the path to the meeting site without exposing himself along the skyline. It was a horrible spot for an ambush and Will realized that that was probably why Halt had picked it. And if Halt had picked the meeting spot with an ambush in mind then that probably meant that he would be expecting an ambush which made anything that Will was planning to do a hundred times harder. And catching Halt off guard hadn't been an easy task to begin with, especially when you add Gilan to the equation.
Gilan was the unknown element to Will's plan. Will didn't know whether Gilan would arrive before Halt or after him but Will was leaning towards the possibility of them arriving together. Anything that can go wrong probably will. The young ranger was beginning to hate that proverb but he knew that it was true. The chances of Halt and Gilan meeting on the route to the meeting place were high and Will couldn't rely on Gilan being on his side. In fact, Will thought that Gilan was probably working with Halt to pay back Will for all those times when he had been an apprentice and Will had helped his former master to foil Gilan's plans.
Will thought that was what he would do in Gilan's place.
Sighing Will moved back into the shadows and allowed his cowl to cover his face. He clicked his tongue and gave Tug the hand signal to move back before he drew an arrow and waited at the edge of the clearing. Will didn't have a plan. He didn't doubt that either Halt or Gilan would have been able to figure it out and foil it if he had. He had decided to just make up what he did as he went along. Halt always said that you should play to your strengths anyway and Will was rather proud of his ability to 'wing it'.
The young apprentice smiled as he waited for either Halt or Gilan to make their move. He loved gatherings. They were definitely his favourite time of the year. All that intrigue and secrets and constant plotting was just downright fun.
Gilan grinned as he handed Blaze's reigns to Halt and vanished into the forest at the base of the hill that was their meeting place. He moved extra cautiously, aware that Will could be anywhere and that he was most likely waiting and watching for him. Gilan would be disappointed if he wasn't.
As he tried to stop his hands from trembling Gilan thought that he probably shouldn't have had that third cup of coffee this morning. It was impairing his judgement, making him jittery and anxious and Gilan knew that he would need all his focus if he was to pull this off. He had approached his old mentor that morning and asked his help in getting back at Will for all those times that Will and Halt had made Gilan look the fool. Halt had just raised his eyebrow at the request but had eventually agreed to be decoy so that Gilan could snake around behind Will and disarm him.
Of course their plan would have been useless if they had arrived at the meeting site before Will but Gilan had complete faith that his young friend would be there, waiting to ambush them. Besides, he had already been to Will's cabin and seen that Will and Tug weren't there and that his camping equipment was missing.
It wasn't until nearly an hour later though that Gilan finally found Will hiding in the shadows, arrow nocked. He was now forced to wait, perfectly still for another half hour though until the designated meeting time when Halt would make his appearance, providing the distraction that Gilan would need to get close enough to disarm Will.
Will jumped, causing his fingers to nearly let go of the arrow on the bowstring in his hands as Halt rode over the hill on Abelard. Where on earth had he come from? Will hadn't even heard him approaching.
Slowly, methodically, Will drew the bowstring back till he felt his mussels straining and his fingers hovered next to his check. He aimed for a point slightly above and behind Halt's head, just in case he happened to move. Before he could release though, his instincts told him that there was something-or someone-behind him and he reacted instantly, dropping to the ground and rolling to the right. Still hoping to get a shot off at Halt, despite knowing that his sudden movement had given away his position, Will knelt with one knee on the ground and drew back the string before shifting his aim towards Abelard. Halt wasn't there. He had vanished leaving nothing for Will to aim at but an empty saddle.
Quickly, like he had been taught, Will assessed the situation and shifted his aim to Gilan who was only now beginning to recover from Will's sudden dive to the right. Gilan was holding his strikers Will noticed and he froze, deathly still as Will's arrow shot towards him, passing over his left shoulder.
The second Will's string was empty Gilan dived forward, hoping to use his advantage in height and weight to bring Will down. "No fair Gil! I win fair and square! If I hadn't aimed over your shoulder you would be dead already!"
Will dropped his bow to the ground and tried to grab the older ranger's wrists as Gilan pinned him to the ground and attempted to hit him with the strikers. Will wasn't sure whether or not Gilan was trying to actually knock him out or just score a hit but before he could find out, something dropped down from the sky and wrapped both Will and Gilan in a tightly woven net.
Will saw the exact moment that Gilan realized his mistake and he knew that the look was reflected in his own face. They had forgotten about Halt.
Halt looked down the shaft of the razor sharp broadhead at his two former apprentices. Both of them were lying on the ground under the net that he had thrown over them and were looking up at him in shock. He smiled grimly and raised his eyebrows. "If you two are finished here, it really is time that we get going."
In one swift movement Halt whipped off the net and slid his arrow back into his quiver. Leaving his apprentices lying stunned on the ground, Halt whistled and Tug and Blaze came out of the trees to stand beside him, looking down scornfully at their young masters. Are you ready to get going now? Their eyes seemed to say accusingly.
Gilan stood up first and held out a hand to pull Will to his feet. "How does Halt do it?" he asked Will as he looked sidelong at Halt who was waiting impatiently atop Abelard.
"I have no idea Gilan. Special blend of coffee, do you reckon?"
"Probably," Gilan agreed with his young friend.
They didn't stop for lunch until early afternoon despite frequent protests from both Will and Gilan. "It's your own fault that you didn't have a proper breakfast." He would say every time either of them requested a lunch or coffee break.
Halt was watching his former apprentices carefully and he could tell that each of them had a headache by the way they were keeping their heads still and that they were neglecting from scanning the path in front of them like they had been trained to. When they did stop for lunch Halt continued to watch the two rangers closely and he noticed absently that the first thing either of them did was reach for the coffee pot.
"So what's the plan for this year's gathering Halt? Anything special happening?" Gilan's tone was light and joking but Halt saw the underlying curiosity behind the question and he also noticed that Will was listening intently for Halt's answer as well.
"What hoping that I might have some information were you?" Halt raised his eyebrow.
"Do you?" Will was looking right at Halt now, abandoning any and all pretence that he wasn't interested in the conversation.
Halt sighed. "Just because I'm a senior ranger doesn't mean that I know what Crowley has planned Will. Sometimes I don't even think Crowley knows what he is going to do."
"You wouldn't tell us if you did, would you Halt?" Gilan sounded slightly disappointed as he sipped his second cup of coffee.
Halt smiled and looked both Gilan and Will in the eyes before answering. "No, I wouldn't."
It had been a clear night, even if it was a bit chilly so the three rangers had slept only in their sleeping rolls under the stars. Gilan woke up to the smell of coffee and he immediately felt energized. Today was to be the last day of travelling before they reached the Gathering Ground some time mid afternoon. He quickly crawled out of his sleeping roll and stood up, stretching as he saw that Will was already awake and the one brewing coffee. "I hope you're making enough for all of us" Gilan said as he began packing away his sleeping roll.
"Of course, Gilan. I know how grumpy you get when you don't have your morning cup of coffee." Will laughed as he passed a steaming mug of the strong brew to Gilan.
Gilan nodded his thanks for the coffee and quickly slapped Will in the back of the head. "How dare you call me grumpy!" Before Gilan could take a sip of his coffee however, Halt snatched it out of his hand before swiftly stepping past him and grabbing Will's cup as well. "Hey, get your own, Halt!"
"Halt there is a cup for you here, look! You don't need to take mine!" Will pointed to a rather large mug sitting next to the coffee pot before he stood up quickly and tried to snatch the cup back from his former master.
Halt, deftly avoiding both Gilan and Will, stepped backwards and purposefully poured both cups of coffee onto the ground, ignoring the protests of the other two rangers. "Until the end of the gathering, you two are going to stop drinking coffee, I'm taking you off it cold turkey. You have allowed yourselves to become dependant on a drink and I can't allow that. What if you have to go without if for a few days during a mission and you can't think straight because of it? What if you make a mistake that gets you killed?" Halt was almost shouting the last part.
Both rangers, who had been protesting quite vocally since the second that they had heard the words 'stop drinking coffee' and 'cold turkey', fell silent abruptly when they heard what Halt was saying.
Will felt ashamed of himself. How could he have allowed himself to become addicted to coffee? He hadn't even noticed but thinking back he realized that the strange headaches and dizziness and shakes now suddenly made sense. They all corresponded to times when he had been without coffee and they had vanished when he had had some. Instantly he felt sick, remembering the warmweed and Will turned around before vomiting violently into a bush behind the campsite.
Both Halt and Gilan looked at Will in shock as he turned frighteningly pale before he began to shake and vomited. Gilan was puzzled as to what has caused such a strong reaction in his young friend. Surely Will wasn't that addicted to coffee that the mere thought of giving it up made him sick, was he? Gilan had never been told how Will had been under the influence of warmweed during his time as a slave.
Halt however dropped the two coffee cups that he was still holding and quickly fetched a wineskin before handing it to Will so that he could rinse out his mouth. Resting a comforting hand between Will's shoulder blades Halt began to talk to his former apprentice, making his voice as soothing as possible. "I'm sorry Will, I wasn't thinking. I didn't realize that this would affect you so badly…"
"No, Halt you're right. God, you're right! How could I have been so stupid?" Will said, running one hand through his hair, the other gripping his saxe so tightly that the knuckles went white. Halt's wineskin lay forgotten on the ground where Will had dropped it.
Gilan stepped up to Will other side and looked the young man in the eyes. "Will, don't worry, things will be fine. I was just as stupid as you remember? We'll get through this. We just have to make it through the gathering without any coffee-admittedly a first-but we should be fine! I'll be there with you the whole way. We can have headaches and be sick and sore together!"
"God, Gilan you don't understand! I should have known better than to get addicted! How could I have allowed this to happen! I was so stupid!" Will was shouting now and he pulled away from both Halt and Gilan before mounting Tug and galloping from the small clearing.
"What's he talking about Halt? What does he mean, he should have known better?" Gilan said, confused.
Halt turned to look at Gilan, a sad look in his eyes. "When he was taken as a slave in Skandia he got addicted to warmweed. It took him months to be weaned off it and even when he did get the drug out of his system he was weak for months."
"That's not the same though. Warmweed is a drug, and a dangerous one, coffee is just that, coffee." Gilan was looking in the direction Will had ridden off in, concerned.
"Will doesn't think it's any different. To him it's still just an addiction and I have no doubt that it's going to hurt like hell to break it. His body will react differently because he is remembering the previous addiction and it will be even harder to quit because of it."
Will rode into the gathering ground that afternoon beside Halt and Gilan. Both he and Gilan were pale and shaky but Will was by far the worse of the two. Neither he nor Gilan had had any coffee since the previous night and Will was sweating visibly and his eyes were glazed slightly but he sat upright in his saddle, pretending valiantly that he was ok.
As the three of them were unpacking, Crowley came over and before Halt could warn him he approached Will. "Are you ok Will? You look a little sick there."
"I'm fine." Will's voice was scratchy and he stuck to monosyllables, afraid that if he used bigger words it would make his headache worse.
Crowley frowned but wisely chose not to address Gilan; what ever was wrong with Will he could plainly see that Gilan had too. He turned to Halt, a puzzled expression on his face. Before he could ask what was going on Crowley felt Halt grab his arm and pull him out of earshot of the younger rangers before explaining what was going on.
Before long the entire Gathering knew that Will and Gilan were going through withdrawal because they had decided to quit coffee. Thankfully though, the news about Will's former warmweed addiction was kept out of the rumours.
Both Will and Gilan kept to themselves for the rest of the night, only coming out of their tents when absolutely necessary.
That night the three comrades sat together with their half eaten meals and no coffee, Halt having forgone the drink also as he was feeling rather guilty. There was no dinner time conversation as neither Will nor Gilan were in any condition or mood to talk. In fact, the entire gathering felt rather subdued this year with the melancholy surrounding the two young rangers seeming to have affected the entire camp in some way.
Will was unaware of the other happenings in the camp however. He was now shaking constantly and his head was feeling as if it was about to explode from the pressure. Despite how much he told himself that it was all in his head it didn't seem to help and Will refused to take any drugs to lessen the effect of the withdrawal. He excused himself from the campfire where he had been sitting eating dinner with Halt and Gilan and made his way back to his tent.
He didn't make it however as half way there he started to feel nauseous and he threw up his meal, the potatoes and lamb tasting no where near as good the second time around. Suddenly Will felt a presence beside him and he jumped when he realized that it wasn't either Halt or Gilan but a ranger that he didn't know very well. It took Will a few minutes to recall his name, Tony.
Tony held out a wineskin and Will took it gratefully, taking a large gulp of the liquid before instantly spitting it out again. Brandy! Will hadn't tasted any that strong since he was in Skandia. He looked at the ranger in shock and the man laughed, a loud ringing sound that hurt his head, and gestured for him to take another sip.
Will did so, being in no state to refuse and he was surprised to find that the pounding in his head and the shaking subsided somewhat. He looked at Tony in surprise.
"That stuff's so powerful it can work wonders. A miracle cure I call it!" Tony said, grinning.
Will took another sip, a larger one this time and he found himself grinning as well. "It's not as strong as Skandian stuff. You can polish your armour with that stuff," Will exclaimed, giggling. He took another mouthful of brandy.
Halt was sitting with Gilan around the burnt out embers of last night's fire and he kept glancing anxiously towards Will's tent. It was past lunch and the young ranger still hadn't woken up. Although, Halt thought, glancing sidelong at Gilan, if Will was in as bad shape as Gilan it was probably a good thing that he was still asleep. He would be in hell when he woke.
Gilan was sitting with his head between his knees and holding a half empty wineskin of water weakly in his hands. He was groaning and he kept spitting up bile as he shook. His skin was clammy and his eyes bloodshot and covered in a thin white film and he was sweating so much that it looked like he had gone for a swim. A ranger with more than average medical knowledge had been over to check Gilan out and he had said that the effects of withdrawal should start to wear off by tomorrow. Normally, if someone quits a drug cold turkey it should get out of their system in 24 hours but the healer wasn't so sure about Will. He had said that he would need to examine Will when he woke.
Will was drowning. He was wet and his entire body felt heavy, he couldn't move and he was cold, so cold. He felt as if he was breathing in water and his head hurt with every breath he took. Up was down and he was spinning, first one way and then the next, faster and faster and faster!
And suddenly he was awake. Will sat up suddenly before a wave of nausea hit and he scrambled forward, barely able to find the opening of the small one man tent before he fell onto the ground and vomited, the brandy burning his throat. Oh god his head! The tiniest sounds assaulted his mind, sounding like drums as the echoed through his head.
He gave a shout and rolled into a ball, clutching his head in his hands, all the while shaking violently. Dimly he became aware of hands on his back, rubbing back and forth and a voice saying words of comfort but he wished whoever it was would stop. Didn't they know how much it hurt? His head hurt, it hurt to breath, it hurt to move, every single part of him hurt!
Halt shouted for the healer as he hunched over Will and tried to calm him. He smelt the rancid smell of brandy and urine and Will's entire body trembled beneath him, flinching away from his touch.
The healer arrived less than a minute later and he swore when he saw Will lying on the ground. He lent down and quickly turned him over noting how Will cried out in pain when the light of day entered his eyes. He put his hand to Will's neck and he was shocked at how weak and erratic it was. Will's skin was clammy and he was covered in sweat. He turned to Halt. "Help me get him to the river and someone fetch him clean clothes and lots of blankets."
Halt snapped out of his shock at seeing Will so helpless and he gently put his arm around his former apprentices' waist before pulling him to his feet and carrying him to the river. He was shocked at how light Will was. He shouldn't be that light, should he? God it hadn't even been two days yet! Will can't have lost that much weight in such a little amount of time should he?
"His body is trying to fight the withdrawal and it is using a lot of energy. Because Will hasn't been eating lately his body has had to use up some of its fat stores to get energy which is why he is so light. It's normal in a case like this, don't worry, I can help him." The healer spoke calmly and firmly but Halt couldn't help but worry about his young apprentice. Will was lying in the river, his shirt and pants had been removed and Halt could see the tears coursing down the young face.
"What can you do to help him?" Halt asked, trying to keep his voice steady.
The healer pulled Will from the river and laid him on a thick blanket before answering. "I need to get as much water in him as possible and there are some herbs that I can give him to help with the withdrawal. It should help make the effects more bearable until his body stops having cravings."
Halt frowned when he heard that the healer was planning on giving Will herbs for the withdrawal, thinking that Will might become dependent on the herbs to keep away withdrawal symptoms. When he voiced his suspicions though, the healer was quick to reassure him. "Normally you would be right Halt but I'm afraid that I don't have a choice. Will is going through very serious withdrawal and if I just leave him then he could die. I won't sugar coat it for you Halt. Things are serious. It is possible that the herbs that I give him will affect his dependence on the drug and could make it more serious if he ever has a relapse and takes it again, but Halt, I need to know what he really took. I don't care if it's illegal or if it could cost him his position in the corps. I'm trying to save his life. Do you understand that? I have seen withdrawal and I know that this isn't from coffee."
Halt felt tears track their way down his cheeks. He took a deep breath and, ignoring the numerous rangers who were gathered around them, he explained about Will's time in Skandia and the warmweed.
When he had finished the healer just nodded, saying that it certainly explained what was happening and that he could still help Will. Halt sighed and seemed to collapse within himself when he heard that and Crowley caught his friend before he could fall over.
The healer gave orders for some of the rangers to carry Will to the command tent where he would be treated and he remained their with Will for most of the night, until he was sure that the withdrawal was breaking. Halt cried with relief when he finally heard that Will was going to be ok, and quite a few other rangers could be heard whooping with joy as well.
It was the last day of the gathering and Will was almost fully recovered. He was still pale and shook slightly and he had lost a lot of weight but he was able to keep food down now so he was slowly gaining weight once more. The whole camp knew now that Will had been addicted to warmweed but to Will's surprise, they didn't think any less of him for it. In fact, some even praised him for being able to break free of the drug's hold. A lot of slaves weren't so lucky.
Halt, Will and Gilan were sitting around the main fire with most of the other rangers for a night of singing and jokes. Both Will and Gilan were on the receiving end of a lot of friendly needling about no longer being able to drink coffee. More than a few rangers had walked past them loudly sipping a cup of coffee of their own or had made a point of standing upwind of either Will or Gilan with a particularly fragrant brew. Neither Will nor Gilan minded though; they just made sure to trip the ranger later or to sneak up behind them and make a loud noise when they weren't expecting it.
Halt didn't know whether Will or Gilan would ever drink coffee again, but he suspected not. From the looks of things Will had also given up on brandy but that was understandable at least. As Halt watched his two former apprentices joking and laughing he smiled and drank the last of his coffee before placing the empty cup beside him and turned to join in the younger ranger's conversation.
Ok i hope you liked it!
I feel all sad because i took away Will's coffee but i couldn't just have him become addicted again and have him go all through all that pain for nothing now could i? My origional idea was to have a competion between Will and Gilan to see which of them could last the longest without coffee but that plan kind of went 'kerplunk' when i started to write...
I also kind of have no idea about withdrawal and all the information was dredged up through my vast knowledge of TV shoes and other random facts that have stuck in my brain. Preferably i would have looked up about coffee and the effects of withdrawal befoe i had started but my dad has banned me from the internet until i do all my homework. I have had to resort to sneaking onto Fanfiction during school to update and read other people's stories. (I'm in computer studies at the moment, :D)
Please let me know what you think of the story and if you could, please send a happy birthday message to Werewolf 13. :)