Idk how I feel about this chapter, guys... at the end of the chapter it might seem like the end of the fic, but it's not. I'll explain down below. Read on! :)

"I don't know what to do, Pauline. Tell him now?"

"You can't, Halt, he'll be in shock, especially after everything he's been through."

"But he's clearly proven himself to be a ranger."

"Halt, he tried to rob a convenience store."

Will heard voices creeping in at the edge of his consciousness and let out a groan as he felt a sharp pain in his chest. He peeled his eyes open painfully, and saw the blurry forms of Halt and Pauline standing to the left of his bead. Will took a look around, noticing the whiteness of the room. Judging by that and the IV stuck in his arm he concluded that he was in the hospital.

Pauline looked over Halt's shoulder and saw that Will was awake. "Will," she said and rushed to his side. "How are you?"

"Been better," he mumbled. "What happened?"

"You were shot, Will, at the convenience store."

Will thought for a couple seconds before the memories of his attempted robbery came rushing at him. "Oh shit." Panic filled Will as he thought about what would happen to him and Horace. "What about Horace? Is he okay? Or the cashier? Jerome didn't shoot him, did he?"

"Calm down, Will," Halt said and Will's wide, terrified eyes shot up at him. "Horace is safe but arrested and the cashier was never harmed. They also arrested Jerome and Brynn, although Alda managed to escape."

Will managed to slow his racing heart a bit. At that moment a nurse came in and, upon seeing Will awake, said, "Hello, Will! My name is Angie, I'll just be checking your vitals and the doctor will come in and see you later, okay?"

Will mumbled an "okay" and the nurse quickly did her task then left with a promise to check in again in about an hour.

"Well, I'm going to go down to the cafeteria," Pauline said. "Do you want anything, Halt?"

"No, thanks," Halt said and Pauline glided out of the room, closing the door as she left. Halt turned back to Will. "So, how did you get mixed up with this gang?"

"Don't bother asking," Will said bitterly. "I'll have to tell the police, give a statement, be arrested, then I'll be interrogated, and have to repeat the whole thing in court. You'll probably receive a report or something then you can read all about it."

Halt sighed. "You won't be getting arrested."

Will's brows furrowed in surprise and confusion. "Halt, I fucking tried to rob a convenience store at gun point. I think the police might consider that to be, I don't know...illegal."

Halt almost smiled at Will's confusion, but he held it back. "Don't worry about it, I have connections."

"Let me guess, the insurance place?" Although Will didn't see how that could be of any use and briefly wondered about what he had heard while he was unconscious, something about a ranger?

Halt shrugged. "You could say that. Anyway, tell me about how you got mixed up with the gang."

Will looked down at his bed sheets, unsure of exactly where to start. "Well, I met them when I lived in Meric. They offered me a position in their gang and I accepted, nothing more to it." Will looked up into Halt's eyes, silently pleading that the man just let it rest at that. Obviously, he didn't.

"What else, Will? Why did you join? There's got to be more to it than that."

"I had my reasons." Will's voice took on a defensive tone as he began to glare at Halt.

"I'm sure you did, I want to know what those reasons were." Halt crossed his arms and looked down at Will.

"What does it matter to you?" Will spat. "What am I to you? Just your paycheck, right? You don't care about me, as soon as I'm eighteen I'll be gone and you won't bother trying to find me because I'm nothing to you. You've only known me for a week, but even if you knew me longer it wouldn't change a damn thing. I'm a nobody, an orphan who's let too many good chances slip past. You don't understand, I'm nothing." Will was out of breath and had to lay his head against the pillows to keep from passing out. His chest stung and looking down it seemed that his bandages were starting to bleed through

Halt was silent for a moment before he said quietly, "You aren't nothing, Will. Do you honestly think that I didn't care after all the trouble I went to to make sure you wouldn't be charged for what you did? I think I deserve to know exactly everything that happened with you and that gang."

Will felt his heart clench and something inside him crumble. Before he knew it, he said, "I was living in Meric with a foster family. There were four other kids living there, I have no idea how those people managed to pass an inspection. There was beer bottles everywhere and all the kids had bruises. When my foster dad got mad at me he'd-" Will stopped himself and tried to push back the flashbacks that were tugging against his brain. He took several deep breaths and closed his eyes, keeping them that way as he said, "He'd make me take my shirt off, then he'd whip me with his belt. Sometimes it was once, sometimes it was ten times. I have several scars, which is why I'm always late to Gym class, so I don't have to change with everyone else. Then one day, after a particularly bad beating, I was bruised just about everywhere, I was walking outside at night when I bumped into Alda. He noticed my injuries and guessed what had happened, he said that if I joined him and the gang it'd basically be like having a family. I fell for it."

Will opened his eyes and several tears leaked from them. Halt shook his head sadly, feeling pity for his foster son. "They weren't your first abusive foster parents, were they?"

"No." Will's voice came out like a croak.

Halt mentally swore and felt like flinging something against the wall. He promised himself that he'd find out who these people were and make them pay, never allowing them to lay a finger on another child ever again. But at that moment he had to remain calm, for Will. "You'll never have to worry about that with me and Pauline," he said and ruffled Will's hair gently in an attempt to cheer him up.

Will nodded silently, perhaps not feeling completely safe, but close. Then he said, "First you have to tell me what's going on around here."

"Oh?" Halt raised an eyebrow, suspecting he knew where Will was getting at.

"You can't possibly be working for insurance can you?"

For the second time Halt had to hide a smile. "No, Will, you're absolutely right. I don't work for insurance."

"I knew it."

"Instead I'm a ranger. A sort of spy, in a sense."

"Seriously!?" Will knew Halt had to do something that involved secrecy, but he had suspected something more like security. He never thought of Halt as some James Bond kind of guy. "But if you're a spy, why are you telling me? Aren't you afraid that I'll break your cover?"

"Not particularly, because I want you to be my apprentice."

Will briefly wondered if this was all a hallucination from the meds the doctor gave him. "An apprentice? And learn ranger-spy stuff? What exactly would an apprentice do?"

"He doesn't ask pointless questions, for one. And you'd be shadowing me as I go on numerous missions to protect Araluen. We'd deal with threats from both in and out of the kingdom."

"Wow." Will absorbed all that Halt had said. "But why would you pick me?"

"Because you proved yourself in that convenience store. You stood up to Jerome, fully knowing that you could get yourself killed. Also, George has given me some pretty encouraging notes about you."

"George? I knew there was something odd about him."

Halt nodded. "George is already in Scribeschool due to the fact that he's multilingual. Everyone knows about Scribeschool, the Diplomatic Services, Battleschool, and even Master Chubb. What they don't know is that they're all involved in one task: keeping Araluen safe. In Scribeschool the students are taught to hack computers, write formally, and speak different languages. Mostly the same with those in the Diplomatic Services, called Couriers, which Pauline runs. Except instead of learning how to hack computers they are taught politics and debate. Battleschool is for training the best soldiers. And Master Chubb's kitchens not only make excellent food for everyone involved, but they also create and produce poisons for us to use."

"So," Will started piecing the information together, "the Choosing is used as a recruiting place for students to enter the Secret Services?"

Halt nodded slowly. "You got it."

At that point Gilan barged in, his hair tousled and his eyes wide. "Will!" he shouted. "Guns!? Seriously!? Haven't you heard of this thing called gun safety? Honestly, I leave you alone for a couple of hours and you start prancing around Redmont waving a pistol in your hand, getting shot at, and landing yourself in a hospital."

"Gilan, calm down," Halt said gruffly.

"Hold on, Gilan said he worked for Life Saving Insurance as well. Is he a ranger, too?" Will asked.

"Yup," Halt said. "Although he's rather tall and eccentric for a ranger, if you ask me. Even if I did train him." Gilan glared at Halt but Halt ignored him. "He's stationed at Meric, and if I'm not mistaken he was going after your gang."

Gilan stopped glaring at Halt and said, "That's right. Almost caught everyone but Alda, Brynn, and Jerome managed to slip before I was able to get my hands on them."

Halt focused his attention on Will. "So, what do you say? Are you going to be a ranger?"

(A week later)

"Hey, Will! Wait up!" Horace jogged down the school hall to where Will was standing by his locker. Will had taken a week to decide that he would be an apprenticing ranger. Officially, his training wouldn't start until summer, so he was going to finish up the school year. Halt had tugged a couple more strings and managed to get Horace out of jail, figuring that the boy deserved a second chance.

"Hi, Horace," Will smiled at his friend.

"Everyone coming to the assembly?"

Will shrugged, wincing slightly as the movement sent pain to his chest where he his bullet wound hadn't yet healed. "Probably, let's check."

Of course, for the time being, no one other than George knew that Will was an apprenticing ranger unless they managed to get into their desired fields. Will had no doubt that they'd succeed, and eagerly awaited them to begin their training.

When Will and Horace had reached the Gym they easily spotted Jenny, Alyss, and George sitting near the top of the bleachers and raced their way up to them. "Hi, boys," Jenny greeted them.

"Hi," Will said. "Does anyone know why we're having an assembly today?"

"Alyss! You didn't tell them?"

"Tell us what?" Horace said.

Alyss turned to Will, a small smile on her lips. "You know that debate tournament I had? The one where I was debating affirmative for self-defense classes? The teachers took it to the administration, and now they are testing my idea out. For the last couple of weeks of school we will be learning how to defend ourselves."

"That's awesome!"

"Good afternoon, students," the principal said from the middle of the court, holding a mic in his hand. "As you may have heard, due to the ideas from a particular student, we have decided to test out the idea of a new class being added to our curriculum. For these last, short weeks of school we will be teaching you guys self-defense. Now, if you'll put your hands together as a welcome for our temporary teacher, Mr. O'Carrick!"

Will's eyes widened and he could barely contain his laughter as he watched a scowling Halt walk to the principal and shake his hand. Later, Halt would tell him that his boss Crowley made him do it, but Will had a theory that that wasn't entirely true.

Ok, I wasn't going to have Gilan in this chapter, but your guys' reviews inspired me :D I repeat what I said earlier, THIS IS NOT THE END. The next chapter will have a time gap, so no scenes with Halt as a teacher (as humorous as it could be), skipping to the time where everyone has already been accepted into their desired fields. So the next chapter might take a little while, I have lots of planning to do. Also, I really hate the title of this fic. Ideas?