One week prior…
Sunlight drifted in through the half open curtains, bathing the small room in a warm glow. Drifting it's way into the room, it found a lightly toned foot hanging off one side of a bed, the leg trailing up to connect with the rest of the body beneath the covers. However, the leg, and one peculiarly twisted arm showed from beneath the dark comforter, the rest of the body buried beneath the warmth. A soft twitch of the leg, then exposed arm was followed by a groan as the figure shifted the appendages back beneath the cozy confines of the blanket. With a soft sigh, the figure settled back down for another bought of deep sleep, when the door was roughly slammed open. Jerking up, a disheveled and squinting Will gazed out from beneath his tousled curls, his dark eyes clouded and confused.
"How can you look so obscenely exhausted when you've slept for at least twelve hours?" The rough voice, accented by a soft Hibernian burr, roused Will from his catatonic state with surprising speed. Indeed, the boy had slept for at least a good twelve hours or so, Halt taking pity on him after a long hard day of training and allotting him some extra hours of recuperation. Glancing out the window, Will judged it to be almost noon by the suns high pedestal in the sky, making his eyes blink softly in surprise. Halt never allowed him to sleep in this late…He was sure that either his mentor had finally snapped from his mandola playing, or Halt had some training or another so particularly evil that day, even he felt a nagging guilt for the poor Apprentice's misfortune. The thought that Halt was simply sympathetic to his exhausted plight was the furthest possibility from his mind.
"…It's noon…" Will stated in his shock, his exhausted eyes now wide with a worried light. Halt stared at his apprentice for a brief moment before slowly shaking his head with a sigh.
"I can see this is going to be a very intellectual conversation." He quipped rather dryly, crossing his arms and lifting his brow with a small smirk. "Now are you going to lie in bed all day, letting your muscles deteriorate, or are you going to get up?" The young boy quickly started to rise, only to flinch rather visibly and fall back to the mattress beneath him with a soft groan. Suddenly, a rhythmic beating started in his head, making his whole body give a painful wince. Halt's brows knitted together in worry as he briskly walked over to the paling boy, placing a hand on his warm forehead.
"Will, your burning up…" The worry in his voice sounded almost uncharacteristic, but Will didn't pay much mind to it. All the sickness hit him at once. He had no idea he'd even caught anything! His mentor gave a soft sigh as he reached down, gently pulling the blankets back up over the young boy and tucking them tightly in. The apprentice gave a soft whimper, struggling to move out of the now hot blankets, but Halt pressed his shoulders down gently yet firmly. "No, Will. You need to break that fever. I'm going to go make you some broth. When I come back, if you've managed to worm your way out from under here, I swear I'll tan your backside so hard it'll match your quiver." The tone was harsh, but Will could detect the underlying concern. He merely nodded his head, letting his eyes slide shut as he gave a quiet sigh. The older ranger had to allow himself a small smile as he brushed the young boys hair from his forehead. Will had the tendency to resemble a rather young pup. A sad, sickly little pup most of the time, mind you, but a pup none the less. The smile faded as Halt recalled seeing the boy have a bought of sneezing and coughing the previous night as they stayed out to train in the evening, but had thought nothing of it. Now that he thought on it, that's probably had the boy had contracted his ailment.
"Well no more late night training for you…" Halt muttered as he stood, leaving the now dozing boy to rest as he headed into the kitchen. Though he'd never admit it, when Will was in this state, he had Halt wrapped perfectly around his finger. The ranger had never been one for children, finding them better to be chuckled at from their antics and then left to their own devices. But with Will…it was like the little mischievous sneak had wormed his way into the man's heart without his notice. Halt would treat him just like any other apprentice most of the time, but when Will was hurt or in need, it was as if some paternal instinct kicked on inside of him, and he found himself comforting the boy as best he could. Halt gave a light scoff as he started to fix the thin soup for his apprentice, rolling his dark eyes in mock contempt.
"Your going soft, old man…" He muttered to himself, allowing a small smile to slide across his lips. "But maybe it's about time…"
His whole body felt sluggish and slow in it's movements, a small sigh escaping him as he gave up on attempting to turn over. It just simply wouldn't. He was about to try and sit up, when he felt something gently brush his lips. The rough texture felt like wood, and a faintly delicious smell reached his nose. He didn't need to open his eyes to tell what it was. Opening his mouth, the apprentice swallowed the offered broth with relish, the soup warming and gently filling his stomach. His apprentice gave a slight chuckle as he dipped the spoon into a bowel for another mouthful.
"Good to see your appetite never fails you…You might give Horace a run for his money." He shook his head as Will merely opened his mouth expectantly, and gave a small smile as he took in the offered mouthful. Honestly, the only thing Will always seemed to retain besides his hunger was-
"Has my fever broke Halt? When will I be able to get up? Can I get out from under the covers yet?"…His innate ability to ask questions at rapid fire. Halt sighed at the gravely voice that Will had obtained, frowning as he filled the boys mouth with another spoonful of broth.
"No, I don't know, and no. Now no more talking. You sound like your throats getting sore." Will gave a soft nod in response as he settled down again, the bowl now empty. Halt tucked the blankets back around Will tightly, wanting to break the boys fever as soon as possible. He gently gave Will's hair a tousle, a comforting gesture as the boy began to drift once more.
"You'll be better soon, lad." He said with a small frown, his heart cinching painfully at the sight of the weakened boy. He let a small sigh pass his lips, shaking his head as he retreated from the room to fix him a fresh pot of coffee. At times like these, it was always best to have it on hand, because he knew he'd be up all night checking on the resting boy. Yes, he was definitely wound tightly around that little finger of Will's.
A rather rapid knock roused Halt from his reading of the Ranger's newsletter, his coffee nearly spilling out of his mug. Frowning as he realized how completely unguarded he was, Halt resolved to try and not get so complacent in his cabin. But at the moment, it was hard not to. He was rather worn down from his worry over the boy that still lie sleeping in the nearby room, and so as he finally was able to relax he drifted a bit as he tried to rest. Setting his mug down along with the paper quickly, he walked to the door and peered through a small hollow in it. A flash of ashen blonde was all it took before he realized who it was. Opening the door, he was greeted with the sight of a rather distraught Alyss, immediately knowing what the visit was about. Offering a kind hand on her shoulder, he led her into the cabin.
"You look exhausted. You really shouldn't worry so much. It's just a bit of a cold." Halt said sternly, though the words were meant to show concern. By now, the young courier could discern the underlying emotion to the ranger's word, not as good as Will was able to, but enough to know what he meant. She gave an agreeable bow of her head, but her pale brows drew together in worry. "He's resting in his room. Probably still asleep." Halt replied to the worried expression, almost blinking as the girl rushed past him with speed that would rival Abelard and Tug. Shaking his head slowly, he followed after her to see her fretting over the boy as he slept, brushing his hair gently as she checked his temperature with the back of her cool hand. The boy shifted under the light touch, a small smile appearing on his face as he gave a sigh. Alyss paused as she looked down at him, a light smile coming to her features as the boy's eyes gently fluttered open. Looking up, he smiled weakly at his guest.
"Hullo Alyss…" He murmured softly as she continued to stroke his hair back gently, making him lean into her soft touch. Halt watched for a moment by the door, a small smile passing over his lips. Neither of the occupants of the room, however, noticed, and he walked away quietly to give them a little privacy.
"Looks like I'm not the only one Will has hooked…" The ranger muttered with a small, fond smile. Resting in his favorite chair, he picked up his paper once more, finally deciding that with Alyss around, he could worry a little less. That was, if Will wasn't contagious, anyway. He cringed at the thought, sorely tempted to go and lie down a little…boundary rule for the two of them, but thought better of it. Surely neither of them would be that foolish…
However, Halt would soon learn that you should never underestimate the hormones of two love struck teenagers. Especially when those two teenagers had been eyeing each others lips very interestedly.