An addition to my one-shot, Decaf. It's about time Halt responded to Will's teasing.
Disclaimer: I do not own Ranger's Apprentice.
A long time ago, laughter had been exhibited by a certain individual at Halt's expense; an expense which had worn out the ranger, as apparently messing with his coffee was funny. Halt had watched and waited for the right time to respond. After all, he was a ranger. He moved undetected until the timing was right.
That timing was finally here. Will would pay.
It was that time of year again. Will had ridden out to join Halt before heading to the gathering. Halt and he were partway there, and would get there tomorrow. As was typical, they settled down to make camp, and Will found water and tended the fire while Halt prepared to cook their meal.
Because they were not often in contact, they had enjoyed their day on the road and had fallen back into the easy banter that made up a large piece of their conversation, conversation that Halt, if he decided to admit it, would enjoy.
After a slight lull in the conversation, Halt asked a simple question, "Would you like some coffee? I will make some while you collect more dry wood."
"Coffee would be great." Will grinned. It was a chilly evening, and even though he was about to go to bed, the warm liquid in his stomach would do wonders.
When he returned, the delicious fluid was handed to him.
"I'm really not all that tired. I'll take first watch." Halt offered as the younger ranger sat down.
"I wonder who will be new at the gathering this year," Will replied, sipping his drink.
"I believe last I heard we had two new recruits, but as the job of a ranger goes, that number may have shrunk." Halt replied, watching as his friend took another mouthful of his coffee.
As was expected, Will asked another question. "Have you seen Gilan lately? I haven't heard from him in a while."
"He's fine." Halt answered, "He is one of the lucky ones with an apprentice."
Will grinned. "No need for sarcasm, Halt. Both he and I are very much aware you enjoyed having us. Besides, what would you have done without us, in some of the situations we have been in?"
"Died a quick death not caused by questions." Halt replied darkly. Will finished his coffee. He opened his mouth again, but Halt cut him off, amused. Some things never changed. "Your questions will be answered tomorrow. Sleep now. I will take first watch."
Will sighed but agreed. He had known asking the questions would get a slight smile in the older man's eyes. He pulled his cloak over him and lay on his side, prepared to wake up and fight at a moment's notice. To wake up, he first had to fall asleep.
It had been a long day on horseback. Will was mostly used to it, but it was still tiring. That, combined with the excitement of tomorrow meant that Will really should get some rest. He closed his eyes. His mind continued to race. The questions would not shut down. He began to use ranger tricks. He went through various techniques of shooting his bow. He threw his knives. He mentally focused on the double knife defense, and how precisely to jump off a cliff if an ax-man was running at him, and he had no other options. These were all details he could do in his sleep, yet he wasn't. He even resorted to counting out how many Skandian's were rowing a ship. When all this failed, he sat up again. Maybe a glass of water would help.
"You need your sleep." Halt commented as he saw the younger man stirring.
"I know. I must just be excited. I really can't sleep." Will replied, not the least bit tired.
"Well, if you can't sleep, how about you take this watch, and I'll take the next one. I think I could do just fine. Even now, I'm yawning." Halt replied, inhaling broadly as he let out a yawn.
This action stirred a brief memory in Will's mind. "Halt, do you remember that time Lady Pauline bought you decaf coffee?"
"I try not to," Halt replied grimacing, "that was a depressing day."
"You do know we were only messing with you. It was funny after all." Will replied.
"Was it?" Halt answered, "I think I know better jokes."
Why was this memory nagging at him? Will thought hard. After all this time, why would this memory be coming to mind now?
"Something bothering you?" Halt asked, sipping his glass of water.
"You didn't have coffee." Will replied, surprised, and then suspitious.
Halt shrugged. "I didn't need it tonight. Besides, I've heard the caffeine can keep an old man like me up all night."
"Oh really?" Will replied, eyes narrowing.
Halt treated the question as rhetorical and snuggled down into the ground.
Will snooped around the site, stopping to pick up a bag. "Halt, what is this?"
"That?" Halt rolled over, already knowing what in Will's hands, "That's the bag for the grounds I used."
"Oh?" Will questioned, "and why didn't you use what you usually used?"
"I thought you might like to try something new." Halt answered.
"No, I was fine with the old stuff." Will glared at Halt, guessing the reason for his sleepless night.
Halt grinned, an uncommon gleam in his eye, "Funny, I thought you liked espresso."
A/N: Yes, it has been awhile, but I thought of this and then couldn't leave Halt at Will's mercy. Read and Review if you feel so inclined.