Disclaimer: I don't own Ranger's Apprentice

Gilan sat restlessly upon the old faded couch, fidgeting with his silver oak leaf, which was now at stake. Beside him, Halt sat silently, his brow creased in thought. Gilan wasn't sure what Halt thought about this dilemma he had gotten himself into, but he hoped his mentor wasn't too angry with him.

Baron Arald sat in the corner, surveying the pair. Understandably, Gilan was incredibly anxious, while Halt- Halt just sat calmly, keeping his face completely neutral, as usual. Halt was so unreadable it was frustrating. Across from the Baron, Crowley was pacing around the room, occasionally sending an agitated glance Gilan's way. Finally, he heaved back down into his chair.

For a moment, Crowley's eyes bored into Gilan, and then he shrugged despairingly. "There's nothing I can do without breaking my own conscience," he sighed. "I'm sorry, Gilan, but you've embarrassed the entire Corps."

Arald nodded in agreement. "Had this gone just a little bit further, you'd be set up for a good five years in prison and there would be nothing any of us could do about it."

Gilan nodded slowly, awaiting his sentence.

"You are hereby suspended from the Ranger Corps, until we decide otherwise," said Crowley. "When and if we decide to bring you back, you will be on probation for a period of twelve months. If you complete the year without any more – incidents – you will be reinstated as a fully-fledged Ranger. If not, than you will be permanently expelled from the corps."

Gilan nodded again. He had been expecting something like that. "I understand," he said.

"And you'll have to turn in your weapons," Arald added.

Silently, Gilan unslung his bow from his back, placing it gently across Crowley's desk. Slowly, he removed his Saxe knife and throwing knife from his belt and lay them down next to his bow. He began to fumble with his sword, but Halt's hand shot out to stop him. "A sword isn't a ranger's weapon," Halt said, 'So technically, you're allowed to keep it."

Crowley gave an exasperated sigh. "Fine," he said. "Keep the sword."

Gilan nodded, lowering his eyes.

"Good," said Crowley. "Gilan, Halt, you're both dismissed."

As they left the castle, Gilan was continuously glancing at his mentor, trying to decipher whether or not Halt was angry at him. Halt's stone hard face, however, was unreadable. They continued out into the courtyard, and Gilan was glad of the fresh air.

Suddenly, Halt spun round, grasping Gilan's arm and pushing him into the wall. "What exactly happened the other night?" he asked gruffly.

"You know, don't you?" Gilan asked, "They told you, didn't they?"

"You're worse than Will," Halt muttered. "If you have to answer my question with a question, only ask it once and at least try not to make it a stupid one."

Gilan groaned. "Look, I got drunk okay? And set the bar on fire. As you know."

Halt's iron grip grew tighter. "I want to hear the whole story from your point of view, Gilan. Now" he said in an undertone.

Gilan gave an exasperated sigh. "I don't remember that much. I was drunk."

"But what do you remember?" Halt pressed.

Gilan groaned again. "Please, let go of my arm. I need to think."

Halt relaxed his grip, but did not apologise. Gilan felt his knees begin to shake. Halt must have noticed, because he grabbed Gilan underneath the arm and led him to a nearby bench. Gilan eased himself down onto it, and Halt sat down beside him. Rubbing his temples, Gilan wondered where to begin.

"I doubt anything I tell you will be too different from what you've already heard," said Gilan. "If it is, it's probably less reliable then what you've already heard. If you want me to try and justify my actions, I've got nothing."

Halt glared at him. "For goodness sake, boy, stop stalling! I want you to tell me everything that happened. Now."

"I was riding back from castle Meric," Gilan began, "when a man named Bryn called on me. Apparently his daughter had been cornered by some thugs. They brutally beaten her, and stole her necklace from her. This necklace was an heirloom, and very valuable to the family.

"I agreed to help track them down- he was very worried, and angry- we called in to see his daughter before we left, she looked terrible. These thugs were pretty stupid and by nightfall we had them in the dungeons of castle Meric. Bryn was very grateful, he offered me a drink. I was tired, but in a good mood, so I agreed."

Halt nodded. "So he bought you a drink? But this Bryn doesn't sound like the sort to deliberately get you drunk, let alone to buy you the drinks so that you could."

"No, he wasn't. You see, after we had our first drinks, I was already very tipsy. Looking back, our drinks must have been spiked, because we were more than half drunk already. Neither of us were quite in our right minds, so Bryn offered me another, and I still can't believe I accepted. They weren't our last drinks either."

Halt nodded. "Continue."

"The next thing I knew, Bryn was unconscious on the floor beside me, and I was stark-raving mad."

Halt sighed. "Do you have any idea at all who might have spiked your drink?"

Gilan thought for a moment, then said, "There was a couple of men who Bryn knew, he made a quite unsavory comment about them as we walked in. They were acting very suspiciously, but it was a bar after all, so I thought nothing of it. But I vaguely remember them coming up to me once I was drunk, and talking to me, and buying me more drinks."

"Anything else?" asked Halt.

"I kept drinking and drinking, and pretty much ransacked the bar. I don't know, it was all a blur."

Halt nodded. "Okay, Gilan. And what's the next thing you remember clearly?"

"I woke up on the floor the next morning, with one heck of a headache. Bryn had already been taken home by his wife. Sir Rodney was there, checking my pulse. He helped me up and took me to his home, and looked after me. When I was completely recovered, he took me back to my cabin."

Halt nodded, making a mental note to thank Sir Rodney later for looking after his former apprentice, then discarded his idea. Gilan wasn't a boy anymore. It wasn't his place to thank someone on Gilan's behalf, and Halt was sure he had already thanked the battlemaster enough already.

Halt sighed. 'Okay, Gilan. Let's go back to my cabin. Will's made some nice stew for the three of us."

Gilan nodded miserably. "Yes, Halt"

Halt squeezed Gilan's shoulder. "Don't be so hard on yourself, Gilan," he said, "You've only been suspended from the corps. Last time I got myself drunk, I was expelled."

It was clear Will had nothing but sympathy for the suspended ranger. "But it wasn't your fault was it?" he complained. "Your drink was spiked! It could have happened to anyone!"

Halt shook his head. "Maybe it could have, but it shouldn't have happened to Gilan. He shouldn't have let his guard down, and he should have had more control. He caused extensive damage to the bar and really, he was undermining the Corps' reputation by being there in the first place."

Gilan flinched under Halt's stern eye. He had embarrassed the entire Ranger Corps. And while it was perfectly reasonable for a ranger to pop into a bar every now and then, for a ranger to throw himself into the centre of everything the way Gilan had was disgraceful.

Gilan sighed. "I'm going to bed," he murmured. Will opened his mouth for a moment, about to object, but then closed it again, nodding, almost solemnly. Halt shrugged, and signalled for Gilan to leave.

Later that night, Gilan lay on the old, springe mattress. He had given up trying to sleep, and was now desperately racking his brains, trying to remember the names of the two men who had approached him once he was drunk. He was sure Bryn had mentioned them.

And then he remembered.

Their names were Alda, and Jerome.

So what do you think? Please review! i realise there was a lot of minor details that maybe didn't quite make sense, but there you go.

Let's just say that the Meric and Redmont fiefs are quite close to each other, and being a small fief, Castle Meric doesn't have the authority to deal with matters such as the suspension of a ranger. And Crowley was in Meric because... well, he just was, okay? He's allowed to be!

Please, pretty please review! Constructive criticism welcome!