I'm so sorry about the unexpected drop of this story; it was one of the fics I couldn't bring myself to continue due to my worsening depression, but now that it's back under control, I'm slowly finding the motivation to continue the ones I seemingly abandoned.

"Are you okay, Ronnie?" Grell whispered the next morning when Ronald awoke.

Ronald shook his head and whimpered. He nestled in closer to Grell, his eyes wide as he looked up at the older male's face. "...W-william..."

Grell wrapped his arms around the boy, holding him closer. "Yes? What's wrong, sweetie?"

Ronald licked his lips, unable to comprehend why William had put himself between him and the man. Did that mean that the dark-haired male really wasn't a bad person after all? "...He... protected me..."

Sutcliff smiled sadly. "Yes. That is the kind of person my William is, after all. We care about you, Ronnie; that's why we took you in. We'd both do that for you."

Ronald sighed softly, closing his eyes. After what William had done... it was much easier to believe Grell's words than it had ever been for anyone else. After all, no one had ever been kind to him, let alone do that for him... "...Can I... stay with you... Grell...?"

"I was going to spend my day at the hospital with Will," Grell explained in a gentle manner, "and I'm sure it will be uninteresting for you, dear. I could take you to meet my friends, Alan and Eric, and you can play with them for the day."

Ronald bit his lip as tears welled up in his eyes; he didn't want to leave Grell's side, especially not to go to other people he didn't know. He shook his head, his blond locks flying into his eyes. "N-no...! I-I... I will be good at the hospital...! I promise...! Please, take me with you..."

Grell understood. He really did. He knew, after having come so far so soon with Ronald, he couldn't compromise that progress. "Okay, Ronnie. Would you like to bring anything with you so you don't get bored? We'll be there for a long time, and there's really nothing to do at hospitals."

"...Can..." Ronald frowned, worried that he would get into trouble for asking, but really wanting to be able to draw, "...Can I bring some paper and pencils...?"

Grell leant down and pulled the child into a hug. "Of course you can, Ronnie, dear. You don't have to ask. Go and grab some while I get ready, okay?"

Ronald nodded, leaving Grell alone. The redhead sighed as he moved to his wardrobe, pulling out a white dress shirt and brown slacks, his brown vest and his favourite red woman's coat. He dressed himself quickly before he left to find Ronald and prepare him for the day ahead of them.

Sutcliff could only hope that William would be okay; he didn't know what he'd do without the dark-haired man there by his side.

~~At the hospital~~

William smiled softly at Ronald as the boy walked into his hospital room, clinging to Grell with a look of fright on his face. He was propped up in the hospital bed, an IV drip connected to him, as he closed the book that was sitting in his lap.

"Hello, Ronald," William said. "How are you?"

Spears was unprepared for the way Ronald detached himself from Grell's waist, charging over to his and wrapping tiny arms around his own stomach. He winced, the action unsettling his wound, but he didn't move the boy.

Grell moved to stand behind Ronald, running his hand through the messy locks of hair. He smiled sadly, noticing the way Knox cried into William's stomach.

"Looks like you've made a new friend, Will, dear," Grell whispered, fixing his glasses.

William nodded, moving an arm to wrap carefully around small shoulders. He wasn't usually one for affection, but how could he not want to show this damaged boy that he really did care? "Ronald, as long as you're okay, I will be fine. I promise. I give you my sincerest apologies for what happened; I only want you to be happy."

Ronald lifted his head to meet William's gaze. His tear-stained face donned a bright smile, his eyes half-lidded as tears continuously flowed from underneath them. He shook his head. "I... I am happier now than I have ever been..."

William allowed another small smile to grace his face at these words. Maybe... that attacker hadn't been such a bad thing after all.

Due to a lot of reasons, I'm trying to finish off my older fics as soon as I can so that you guys won't be disappointed and I won't be overwhelmed myself, so this will be the second last chapter with an epilogue to follow. Again, I am sincerely sorry for making you all wait so long just to hear this news. I hope this chapter makes up for the wait.