Author's note: Spoiler alert for episode 2. If you have not watched it, please do not read.
This is an episode tag for 'Sleight of hand'. I let this story get away from me so I've dragged on a little. Athos is out of character, so I apologise for that. I love all the Musketeers' characters but I needed Athos to be a little mean in this story. Hope you like the story and if you don't, that's okay.
Warning: This is not beta-ed. I apologise for all grammar and spelling mistakes.
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the boys or any other characters in this story.
D'Artagnan groaned as he regained consciousness. His head was pounding. He opened his eyes. Everything was blurry at first. He tried to rub his eyes but something was holding it in place. That woke up him up fully. His wrists were tied to barrels. Looking around he realised there were barrels everywhere.
"I was hoping you'd wake. I wouldn't want you to miss the high point of our brief acquaintance." The voice shocked him. It was Vadim. He was tying a fuse around a candle.
"Where are we?"
"In the tunnels, under the Louvre. They run from the palace to the city wall. Built by one of our King's forebears, as an escape route, bricked up in the time of Henry IV. I discovered them whilst working in the palace kitchens. You can almost feel the heat of the bread ovens." Vadim smiled at him, obviously very proud of himself. "You see, d'Artagnan, servants are like rats. They'll find all manner of secret exits and entrances. In exactly 15 minutes, that candle will burn down and light the fuse that will explode the powder stored in those barrels."
"Blowing me to pieces."
Vadim shrugged casually, "Well, certainly, but that's not the main purpose of the exercise."
"You know, it doesn't matter what you do to me, Vadim. You've failed. I told the Musketeers everything." D'Artagnan revealed, hoping Vadim would think his plans were compromised.
Suddenly, Vadim was in his face, growling. "You told them exactly what I wanted you to tell them. I explained the trick to you, d'Artagnan. You should have paid more attention." D'Artagnan struggled with the bonds as Vadim closed the door to the underground room. As soon as the door slammed, D'Artagnan started to panick. He wasn't worried about himself, he was worried about his friends. He got cocky, believing he had gained Vadim's trust. He should've known it was too easy. He looked down at his wrist. He can get out of here, he told himself as he started rubbing the rope against the edge of a barrel.
14 minutes later…
D'Artagnan could feel his wrists burning, but he continued the frantic rubbing of the ropes as he watched the fuse ignite. "Come on, come on, come on!" Suddenly his wrist broke free. He quickly worked on his other hand, still keeping an eye on fuse. It was getting too close. D'Artagnan jumped at the fuse as soon as he was free and put it out. Closing his eyes, he starting laughing at the relief of not dying. It didn't take him long, though, to remember he still had unfinished business with Vadim. He got up to get out. The door was stuck but a few good tugs got it open. He looked down in horror as five fuses lit at once. "You've got to kidding me." He whispered to himself, dancing around as he tried to put them all out. There was no chance. He started running. "They're not near the palace. They're safe. They're safe. They're safe." The force from the blast threw him, almost twenty yards before he slammed into the hard ground and blacked out.
D'Artagnan came back to the living, coughing hard as his lungs protested at having the air knocked out of them. He groaned as the pounding in his head doubled. He could hear the blood pumping in his ears. Grunting, he pushed himself to his feet but bent over his knees to catch his breath when a shadow ran past him.
He stood and chased after the murderer and thief.
D'Artagnan smiled as he noticed how frantic Vadim seemed. With all the dust in the tunnels caused by the bomb, D'Artagnan could have some fun with this.
"Vadim! Behind you." D'Artagnan warned in a loud whisper, before moving out of sight.
"You are full of surprises." Vadim underestimated the boy.
"I had a good teacher." D'Artagnan replied, "This way." He smiled as the man started panicking. "Vadim, this way." He continued dodging the man as he taunted him. "Over here."
"Enough!" Vadim called as he swung his torching. D'Artagnan ducked it and drew his own sword. Vadim may be a mastermind, but his swordsmanship was no match for D'Artagnan's, even in his condition. He felt more than saw his sword enter Vadim's body. He pulled it out, but when he looked up, the man was gone. He was about to follow when he heard footstep and spun, ready to take on the men coming. His vision blurred a little as the men came into view. He sighed in relief, "Athos."
"So, you are alive?" Athos spoke casually, the tone belied the concern he felt. "I think so." He looked at Athos carefully, then at Porthos. "You two look like you've been to hell and back."
Porthos just shrugged, "Just a little explosion. Nothing we can't handle."
"Vadim?" Athos asked, getting them back on track.
"Wounded." He looked at the blood on his sword, "Badly. He can't have got far." He said as he shone his torch in the direction the man left in.
Aramis had stayed quiet the entire time as he tried to get a closer look at the young man. He walked beside D'Artagnan, "You don't look well yourself." He said and sighed when he noticed D'Artagnan had jumped at his voice. He must be in pretty bad condition if he didn't noticed Aramis walking up to him.
"I'm fine." D'Artagnan recovered quickly from the shock.
Aramis was about to say something when they caught up to the thief. "Stop there, Vadim! Stop!" D'Artagnan ran forward, wincing as they stepped out into the daylight. He watched as Vadim stumbled, dying from the wound inflected upon him.
"I should have strangled you at the Chatelet, saved myself a lot of trouble." He said as he fell to his knees.
"Why didn't you?" D'Artagnan asked, sad that the man was dying and not being brought to justice as he should be.
"For the fun of it." He fell to the ground. "It was a good trick. It should have worked."
"It nearly did." D'Artagnan said as the life faded from Vadim's eyes. It was over. The King and Queen are safe, though D'Artagnan knew that it had nothing to do with him. The King and Queen were never in danger in the first place.
Athos slapped him on the arm. "You did good."
"Pfff…" D'Artagnan scoffed, "If by good you mean get the wrong plans and get blown up, then you're right. I did good." He turned to leave, "I want to go home." The three men watched as D'Artagnan re-entered the tunnels, stumbling a little.
"Yeah, that's a good idea." Aramis quickly followed the boy, keeping a close.
Athos frowned as he followed Aramis and D'Artagnan. Porthos walked up beside him, "Aramis is acting all mother-hen." Athos nodded, "That can only mean one thing."
"He said he got blown up." Athos pointed out, as he kept his eye on the man in front of him.
"How close to the blast do you think he was?" Porthos asked, curious.
D'Artagnan tried to ignore the man hovering over him as he concentrated placing one foot in front of the other. He thought he was doing a pretty good job before the tunnel started spinning. Throwing his hand out he found the wall to brace himself against, then turned to place the other hand against the wall, just in case.
"D'Artagnan?" Aramis was beside him looking at him with concern.
D'Artagnan closed his eyes, "I'm okay. Give me a minute." He sighed relief when he opened his eyes and everything was the right way around again. He took a deep breath and pushed himself off the wall. "I'm good."
"If good means bleeding and getting blown up, than yes, you are good." Athos grinned at the glare D'Artagnan gave him.
"I'm going home to sleep off this headache." D'Artagnan started walking again. He groaned as he made his way up the steps. "Ahhh!" His hand shot up to shield his eyes as they arrived above ground. He almost stumbled back down the steps had Aramis not been there to stop him.
"You are not going back to the Bonacieaux house." Aramis took D'Artagnan by the arm and led him toward the Musketeer's Garrison.
"Why not?" D'Artagnan stumbled, but Athos was there to catch him, pulling his arm over his shoulder to keep him upright.
"Because I don't care for being slapped again and I guarantee you that will happen if we turn up with you in this condition." Aramis rubbed his cheeks where he was slapped twice by Constance Bonacieaux. "She really likes you."
"What condition? I'm fine…" His vision started blurring in and out. "Mostly."
Athos sighed and rolled his eyes, "Did I mention how bad an idea this was?"
D'Artagnan was barely holding onto consciousness when they arrived at Aramis's room at the garrison. They laid him on the bed. Aramis sat on the edge and examined the head wound along the hair-line. "Hm…this isn't as bad as it looks, which makes me suspect has another head injury." Aramis felt around D'Artagnan's head until he found a large bump on the back.
"Ow!" D'Artagnan complained, his eyes still closed and trying to move away from the annoying hands. "Go away."
Aramis laughed softly, "Not likely." He opened D'Artagnan's leather jacket and then pushed up his shirt. He hissed, "Figured as much."
Porthos whistled, "That's looks…"
"D'Artagnan? How close were you to the explosion?" Athos asked, a little condescending and a lot of concern.
D'Artagnan opened his tired eyes and thought about that question. He thought back to how he was tied to the barrels and burst into giggle, as if drunk. The others thought he had lost his mind, "I was sitting on the barrels of gun powder." He kept laughing until his broken ribs protested at the pain, groaning as he curled in on himself.
Aramis shook his head at his groaning friend, "Of course he was sitting on the gunpowder…" He gestured to the man on the bed and shrugged, "Because where else would you be but as close as possible to explosive gun powder!" He sighed and rolled d'Artagnan onto his back and lifting his shirt again, feeling the ribs. "Four ribs are definitely broken, a couple more are bruised." He got up and rummaged through a drawer across from the bed. "Get his clothes off. I need to wrap his ribs." He ordered his friends.
Athos sat D'Artagnan up and gently removed his jacket with Porthos help. Athos lifted his shirt as Porthos slipped D'Artagnan's arms from the sleeve before it could be pulled over his head. D'Artagnan looked at Athos through heavy-lidded eyes, "I'm sorry."
Athos raised his eyes at Porthos, "Right…" he said, slowly. Porthos just shrugged at him, "I'll humour you. What for?"
"I was careless." Aramis returned with bandages and started wrapping his ribs. "I could've gotten everyone killed." D'Artagnan's eyes started drooping.
"Keep him talking. He hit his head pretty hard, better he stays awake for now." Aramis instructed Athos.
Athos nodded, "You did more than anyone expected of you." D'Artagnan's head dropped to his chest. Athos lifted it up and gave his cheek a tap, "D'Artagnan, stay awake."
"Hmmm?" D'Artagnan opened his eyes, "I'm sorry."
Porthos chuckled, "Now what for?"
"I never apologised for accusing you of murdering my father." D'Artagnan answered, surprising everyone.
Aramis looked up at him as he finished tying off the bandage. "You had no reason to suspect your father's last words." He got up and grabbed a few more pillows from the cupboard. He arranged them behind the young man. "Lie back." He ordered, gently pushing D'Artagnan back against the pillows.
"You don't need to apologise for trying to avenge your father's death, no matter how misplace it was." Athos told him.
"I miss him." D'Artagnan admitted, tears coming to his eyes. He never really mourned his father's death. Life in Paris has been so busy. "I miss him so much." If he didn't have a concussion he may never talk to anyone like this about his father.
Porthos looked at the boy in sympathy, "He would've been proud of you, you know?"
D'Artagnan looked up at him, "How so?"
"Not many men who could look past their anger and help prove the innocence of the man he accuses of murdering his father." Porthos explained.
"If it weren't for you, I'd be dead." Athos told him.
"You know, I wasn't really sitting on the gun powder when it went off." The three men burst out laughing at that. The adrenaline of everything that's been happening coupled with his head injury was making D'Artagnan delirious. "What's so funny? I wasn't sitting on it!" He frowned, not happy his friends were laughing at him. "He tied me to it." Athos's expression turned cold at that revelation.
Aramis looked down at his wrist, "Damn it. I didn't see it." He picked up D'Artagnan's left arm and examined the raw skin around the wrist. "It's not too bad, though I'm pretty sure it must sting." He got up and then returned thirty seconds later with a small jar. Opening the lid, he dipped his finger in and scooped out the cream. He spread the soothing cream and spread it over the rope burns.
"That feels good." D'Artagnan said of the cool cream soothing the burn, then continued with his story. "I tried to stop the explosion but there were too many fuses."
"He talks a lot when he's concussed." Athos realised, not sure he liked this talkative d'Artagnan or not.
D'Artagnan frowned at him, "Did you get caught in the blast 'cause you didn't look so good in the tunnels?" He turned at looked up at Porthos, "Neither did you."
Porthos grinned, "We weren't sitting on the gun powder."
"I wasn't…" His eyes started drooping again.
"Hey. Hey. Hey." Aramis gently took D'Artagnan's head in his hands, "Don't sleep."
D'Artagnan obeyed the voice and opened his eyes but Aramis could see he wasn't happy with him. "Go away. I'm tired."
Athos grinned and shook his head, "He's like a ten year old right now."
"More like five." Porthos noted, "Poor kid is exhausted."
"And there is nothing more I would like than to let him rest but that could be harmful so until I'm satisfied with his condition, he is not sleeping." Aramis declared, making himself very clear. "Tell us more about yourself, d'Artagnan." He tapped the boy's cheeks to get his attention. "We haven't known each other for a long time and seeing as we are already sending you on missions, I think we should know more about you."
"Yeah, just in case we have to send your body back home." Porthos winced after he heard what he had just said.
"Really, Porthos?" Athos couldn't believe the man.
"I didn't realise I was saying it out loud." Porthos tried to explain, apologetically.
D'Artagnan groaned as he adjusted himself on the bed, "Lupiac, Gascony." D'Artagnan answered them, not realising Porthos had just spoke of the possibility of his death. "My father owned…well…I guess I own a farm there." He sighed, "My father and I were on our way to Paris to appeal to the King about the taxes. The people there can barely make a living because of the high taxes. He didn't make it." Athos watched as d'Artagnan's eyes started staring off into the distance. "We shouldn't have stopped. It was my idea to stop."
"What are you saying?" Athos asked, not liking the guilty look coming over D'Artagnan's expression.
"I wanted my father to rest. If we didn't stop, he'd be alive." A tear rolled down D'Artagnan's face. "It's my fault he's dead."
Athos moved forward and took d'Artagnan's head in his hands, "The only person to blame for your father's death is already six feet underground. You put him there! Remember that!"
"He had a lot of respect for the King's Musketeers." D'Artagnan smiled, "It was what he wanted for me. He knew I would never be content with being a farmer. I want to earn my commission for him, but if I do..."
"When you do." Porthos corrected him. They had no doubt D'Artagnan had the makings of a Musketeer.
"My father will not be there to see it." D'Artagnan continued, "I want to earn it for him, but he won't be there." He was losing control of his emotions now. They didn't know what to say to the young man. What do you say to a man who had lost his father? "Can I sleep now? I don't want to talk anymore." D'Artagnan didn't like that he was losing control in front of the three men he respected.
Aramis sighed and moved in closer, "Look at me." He ordered as he brought the candle in closer. D'Artagnan did as he was told. Aramis held up a finger, "Follow my finger." The actions were giving him a headache and making him a little irritable.
"You're hurting my head." He complained.
Aramis just smiled, "I'm satisfied your head injury is not serious." He announced to the others relief, "Go to sleep." He watched as D'Artagnan's eyes closed and was asleep in seconds.
It was about ten minutes later, when a knock at the door drew their attention away from their young friend. Porthos went over to answer it. "Captain." Porthos greeted, letting the man in.
"How is he?" The Captain nodded at the young man in the bed.
Athos had to bite his tongue to stop himself from saying some choice words to his captain. Aramis could see the steam coming out of the man's ears. The captain had made it clear on several occasions that D'Artagnan's life was worth nothing to him so he didn't understand why he would even bother checking on the boy. "He'll recover." Aramis answered, "He's got some broken ribs and a couple more bruised and a concussion. He fell asleep not too long ago so I would appreciate it if we kept the noise level to a minimum." Aramis could foresee the confrontation coming up and was hoping to cushion D'Artagnan from it.
The Captain nodded. He understood what Aramis was saying. He would keep it short. "I've spoken to the Cardinal and made sure D'Artagnan's name has been cleared. Just give it a few days to make sure word gets around before you let him step outside the gates. I don't want a Red guard taking a knife to him and then claiming ignorance."
"Of course if that happens it's worth it because we got Vadim and if d'Artagnan pays for that with his life, than that's just bad luck for him." Athos hissed as he stood from the bed. Aramis sighed, obviously Athos did not get his not so subtle message.
Captain Treville stood by his decisions, "He knew the risks."
Athos took a step towards Treville before Porthos put a hand on his chest to stop him, "Yes, he knew risks. He knew he was going to be strapped to barrels of gun powder and blown to pieces!" Athos yelled, losing control as he thought about how close D'Artagnan had come to losing his life.
"Athos!" Aramis called in a harsh whisper. D'Artagnan had been shocked awake by Athos's barely contained rage. He was looking around confused, so Aramis took the opportunity to make sure the Gascon didn't have any brain damage.
"What's going on?" D'Artagnan asked, confused and much disoriented.
"Can you tell me your name?" Aramis asked him.
D'Artagnan glared at him, "Did you wake me up to ask me that?"
Porthos covered his mouth at the young man's expression, trying to smother the laugh that wanted to burst out. "No, I did not." Aramis grinned, trying to contain his own laugh, "but can you answer me?"
"D'Artagnan…Charles D'Artagnan." He groaned, closing his eyes.
"Where do you live?" Aramis asked another seemingly stupid question.
Aramis shrugged, "Yes, right now."
"At the Bonacieaux." D'Artagnan glared at him, "You know that, why are you asking?"
"What's my name?"
D'Artagnan looked at him, deadpanned, "I'm going back to sleep." He declared as sunk into the comfortable cushions, closing his eyes. He growled when Aramis didn't let up.
"Answer the question and you can sleep."
D'Artagnan bolted up from the pillows, grunting at the pain across his middle, "Are you sure you weren't the one who got a blow the head, Aramis?"
Aramis just smiled, he knew D'Artagnan had just unknowingly answered the question. He pushed him back against the pillows. "You can go back to sleep."
D'Artagnan was just about to do that when he noticed the extra person in the room. "Captain?"
Treville nodded and was about to step towards him when Athos stepped in front of him, casually, hoping D'Artagnan wouldn't notice anything was amiss. "The Captain was just telling us your name has been cleared." He turned back to Treville, "He was about to leave." D'Artagnan looked at them suspiciously, but he kept quiet for now.
Treville sighed. He knew it would take a little time for Athos to reign in his temper. "Rest." He ordered before leaving the room. Athos glared at the man's back and continued glaring even after the door closed. His attention was redirected by Porthos deliberately clearing his throat. Athos looked at him, "What?" Porthos nudged his head in d'Artagnan's direction. Athos turned that way to find d'Artagnan looking at him curiously.
"What's going on between you and the Captain?" D'Artagnan asked him. Athos could tell by the squinting that D'Artagnan's headache was bothering him. The boy needed rest not a conversation.
"You got your orders. Rest."
"Technically, I'm not a Musketeer. I don't take orders from any of you." D'Artagnan's eyes started closing of their own accord, "but in this case…"
Porthos shook his head, amused, "That boy is very stubborn and has too much pride." He turned to Athos, his thumbs hooked on his belt, "Remind you of anyone?"
Aramis chuckled, "Porthos, shut up before Athos shoots you." Porthos just shrugged. He always was the more reckless one. Act first, think later. "Athos, I'm not happy about the way the Captain handled the situation either, but confronting him about it after it's all over isn't going to do any good."
"It'll make him think twice before he sticks d'Artagnan in a situation like that again." Athos fumed, "You heard him. He was tied to the gun powder. We're lucky he's alive. He never should've been given the mission in the first place. He has no…"
"Athos," Aramis gestured to the man in the bed who was stirring a little, "Keep it down."
Athos closed his eyes and sighed. He didn't even understand why he was so worked up about this mission. They've done this plenty of times and he barely knew d'Artagnan. He stood their staring at the young man in the bed with the bandages around the ribs and a nasty bruise forming down from the hair line. He was young…too young. "I'm heading out." Athos didn't wait for a reply from the others.
"He cares about the boy." Porthos noted.
"More than he cares to admit." Aramis agreed, "You should go keep an eye on him. He'll be drinking."
"Yeah, yeah, I know." Porthos groaned, "You know it's your turn to watch him." Aramis looked at him incredulously, and gestured to d'Artagnan. "Excuses, excuses…" He droned as he walked out the door.
Porthos sat with the tortured man and watched as he drank away his emotions. He didn't know why Athos did this every night. He knew it had something to do with a woman but that was about it. It's not that he minded watching his friend's back but it would be good for him if he would just talk about it rather than just trying to drown it with wine. However, today, Porthos had a theory which he was stupid enough to try and test out now. "That boy's got to you hasn't he?" Porthos smiled at him, smugly.
Athos glared at his friend, "What and who are you talking about?"
"D'Artagnan! You worry about him."
"He's injured. I'm…concerned." Athos shrugged, "No more than I worry about you or Aramis when you get yourselves shot."
"Huh! You don't take on the Captain when we get shot."
"That's because it's usually your own stupid fault." Athos gave him a thin smile.
"Say what you like, but you care for D'Artagnan and you're scared!" Porthos was playing with fire now and he was starting to regret it when he saw fire in Athos's eyes.
"I don't care about the boy and I sure as hell am not scared!" Athos growled at him. Porthos just put his hand up, backing off, but with all the wine in him, Athos took it as a challenge. "You don't believe me?"
"I didn't say that."
Athos got up, "I'll prove it to you." He stumbled out of the tavern.
"Athos!" Porthos called as he followed the man onto the streets of Paris. "Athos, where are you going?
"I'm proving to you that I don't care what happens to that boy." Athos called back, lifting the bottle in the air, as if in victory. Porthos just rolled his eyes and followed the man.
Aramis was nodding off in his chair next to the bed when he was rudely awakened by Athos barging into the room, drunk. "Athos, what are you doing?" He asked as the man approached the bed. Aramis looked down to see D'Artagnan waking up to the disturbance. "Damn it! Porthos, you were supposed to be watching him."
"I was!" Porthos winced, "then I kind of provoked him."
"Get up, boy!" Athos pulled the sheets off D'Artagnan. "Get up and get out! This is the Musketeer's garrison and you're not a Musketeer."
D'Artagnan looked at the man swaying above him, still not quite awake and feeling very foggy. "Athos…what…"
"I said GET OUT!" Athos grabbed him by the leg and yanked, his strength fuelled by his anger at himself for caring for the young man. D'Artagnan landed hard on the floor, the back of his head slamming against the wood.
D'Artagnan's world filled with pain and turned black. He couldn't see, hear or voice anything. He could only feeling the pain pounding in his head and radiating through his torso. Then finally unconsciousness took him.
"ATHOS!" Aramis grabbed him and shoved him towards Porthos. "Get him out of here!"
Porthos grabbed Athos's arm with the intent of pulling the idiot out, but Athos fought him. "Let me go! I haven't finished." Porthos closed his eyes, then without warning punched Athos across the face and watched him drop to the floor in a heap, unconscious. "Yes, you are." He knelt to make sure Athos was out cold before he went over to the bed to see if Aramis needed help.
Aramis bent over D'Artagnan, slapping his face hard, "D'Artagnan! Wake up! Wake up!" There was no response from the man. "Damn it!" He felt around his ribs and sighed in relief when he didn't find any more damage to them. But the relief didn't last long when he noticed blood on the wooden floor near D'Artagnan's head. Gently he turned the boy's head and saw more blood. The hair at the back of D'Artagnan's head was caked in blood. "Damn it!" He cursed again.
Porthos knelt down at D'Artagnan's feet. "How is he?"
Aramis showed Porthos the blood on his fingertips. Porthos closed his eyes at the sight, realising the damage that's been done. "Help me get him onto the bed. I'm going to get some warm water." Aramis stood and walked out the door, completely ignoring Athos, unconscious on the floor. Porthos moved to D'Artagnan's side and easily scooped the boy up, laying him on the bed. As he did, D'Artagnan opened his eyes.
Porthos grinned in relief. "Hey."
D'Artagnan frowned at him, his vision was blurry and the head felt like someone had taken an axe to it. He groaned and curled onto his side when the pain in his ribs made itself known. What's going on? He wondered. He didn't remember being in so much pain. Porthos watched on, feeling helpless. He didn't know what to do. However, when D'Artagnan looked to be losing consciousness again, he knew he had to act. "Stay awake. Stay awake." He encouraged as he knelt, taking D'Artagnan's head in his hands. "Don't sleep." He gave him a sharp slap on the face, shocking the young man. When D'Artagnan's eyes shot open again, he ordered, "Stay. Awake."
Aramis returned to hear Porthos talking to D'Artagnan who was curled up on his side with his back to him. "Is he awake?" Aramis put the basin of water down. Porthos nodded. "Good. Keep him talking. I'm going to clean away the blood to check the damage."
"What do I talk about?"
Aramis looked at him incredulously, "I don't care. Anything." He grabbed the clean cloth and soaked it in the warm water, wringing it out before carefully parting D'Artagnan's hair and wiping at the blood on the scalp. He felt D'Artagnan jump at the pain, but he ignored it. He needed to check the severity of the injury.
Porthos winced when D'Artagnan hissed at the pain. "Um…" He squatted at the side of the bed, staying at the same level as D'Artagnan, "Let's talk!" He said overly enthusiastic.
D'Artagnan frowned at him, "Are you going to ask me stupid questions too?"
Athos chuckled, "Well, he remembers that, which is a good sign."
Porthos thought about that. Asking stupid questions wasn't a bad idea. It's easier than trying to make conversation with a half conscious man, but he decided against it. He opted to take advantage of the situation, seeing as D'Artagnan seems so willing to share when he's concussed. "So, is there a lady you're fond of?" Aramis just shook his head grinning as he continued his ministrations.
"Hmmm?" D'Artagnan had trouble understanding the question.
"Come on. You can tell me." Porthos encouraged, "Maybe someone by the name of Constance Bonacieaux?"
"Constance?" D'Artagnan smiled dreamily, "She's beautiful and smart."
"And violent." Aramis added, still feeling the sting of her slaps.
"She's married." D'Artagnan said sadly. "There's another lady."
Porthos raised his eyebrows at Aramis, who smiled, impressed by the young man. He never thought of the boy as a ladies' man. "Do tell!"
"She framed me for killing a man after we…we…well…you know." Porthos didn't know what to say to that, "She was beautiful…but not beautiful like Constance. Constance is…radiant…kind. This woman is…deadly."
"Ah…the woman you have unfinished business with." Aramis recalled their conversation at the tavern after they had cleared Athos's name.
Porthos looked at Aramis amused and whispered, "If we ever need to know anything about him, we should just knock him over the head." Aramis gave a short laugh.
"I heard that!" D'Artagnan complained, then frowned at Porthos, "Why does he hate me?"
"Who?" Porthos asked, confused at the random question.
"Athos." Aramis paused what he was doing and looked up at Porthos. Porthos sighed. How was he supposed to answer that?
"I thought we were getting along. I thought we were friends."
"You are." It was Aramis who answered, "He just has issues. It has nothing to do with you." Aramis finished cleaning the scalp and was satisfied that it was only the skin that had broken. The skull was intact. However, whether or not the concussion is worse now than before, they'll just have to wait and see. "I need you to lay back so I can check your ribs." Aramis nodded to Porthos to help turn D'Artagnan onto his back. It was going to hurt and it's only natural that D'Artagnan would fight against the pain. Porthos supported his head with one hand as he gently pushed him onto his back by the shoulder. Aramis pushed against the legs to stop him from curling up again. D'Artagnan let out an involuntary sob as the pain intensified. Aramis sighed and sat down on the bed. "D'Artagnan?" D'Artagnan opened his eyes, though it was glazed over in pain. "I'm going to give you something to drink for the pain." The young man nodded. Aramis got up and went to the shelf in the room. He grabbed a bottle and returned to the bed. He gently lifted D'Artagnan's head, careful of the cut at the back of his head, and presseded the bottle to his lips. D'Artagnan took a small sip, then turned away from the foul tasting liquid, "Just a little bit more." Aramis urged. D'Artagnan turned back and looked at the man with tired eyes. Aramis waited, not wanting to force it onto him, not after everything that has happened. D'Artagnan sighed, then opened his mouth and took in another mouthful. "That's good." Aramis smiled and lowered the young man's head back onto the pillow. It wasn't long before d'Artagnan's breathing evened out and he was resting.
Aramis let out a breath of relief when he was sure d'Artagnan was resting comfortably. Then he turned to Porthos, glaring at him. "What happened?"
Porthos shrugged apologetically, "I might've goaded him."
"You goaded him?" Aramis turned to the unconscious man on the floor. "With what?"
"Pointed out that he cared for the boy, so he came here to prove me wrong." Porthos winced at how much damage his words had done.
"I asked you to watch him, not provoke him. Who knows how much damage you've done to both of them?" Aramis sighed when he saw how guilty Porthos looked, "I'm sure it's not irreversible." He tried to ease the guilt, "How hard did you punch him?"
"Not as hard as I would've liked." Porthos growled. Athos wasn't the only one D'Artagnan got to. It seems the young man has a way of bringing out people's protective side. "Should we leave him there?"
Aramis thought about it, "Nothing more than he deserves, but I don't want him to see D'Artagnan when he wakes up." Porthos nodded, understanding. He stood and walked over to the man on the floor, grunting as he hoisted Athos onto his shoulder. "I'll see you in the morning."
Aramis sighed and shook his head. The next time these two see each other, it'll be interesting. He started cleaning up before he sat down to keep vigil over his young friend.
"About time you woke up."
D'Artagnan's mind was foggy. "Where am I?" He couldn't move his arms.
"In the tunnels, under the Louvre. They run from the palace to the city wall. Built by one of our King's forebears, as an escape route, bricked up in the time of Henri IV. I discovered them whilst working in the palace kitchens. You can almost feel the heat of the bread ovens."
D'Artagnan frowned as a feeling of deja vu came over him. This has happened before. "Vadim?" He shook his head to clear his vision, expecting to see Vadim fixing to blow up the tunnels. He was shocked when it wasn't Vadim but Athos. "Athos, what are you doing?"
Athos sneered at him, "What does it look like I'm doing? I'm blowing up the tunnels and you with it."
D'Artagnan started pulling at the ropes tying him to the barrels. This wasn't how it happened. "Athos, stop it. Let me go."
Athos grinned and walked up to him, "I am letting you go. You're not made to be a Musketeer. You don't belong with us. I'm putting everyone out of their misery by letting you go." Athos stood back and shook his head, "I pity you, trying so hard to be one of us when you don't have it in you." He laughed as he lit the fuse and closed the door.
D'Artagnan started panicking, "Athos! ATHOS!" He looked in horror at the fuse got closer and closer…
Athos woke up in his room with a bad headache. Porthos or Aramis must have got him back to the garrison again. He groaned as he got himself out of the bed when he noticed his jaw felt stiff. He moved it with his hands, then he realised he was already fully dressed which confused him even more. He wondered what trouble he had gotten himself into last night. Usually the boys would get him out of his shoes at least. Probably getting tired of me. Athos stepped outside of his room, heading to the trough to wash up and get ready for the day when a panicked call came from Aramis's room. "ATHOS! NO!" D'artagnan. Athos bolted across the courtyard and barged straight into his friend's room.
Aramis was asleep in the chair next to the bed when he was shocked awake by D'Artagnan's panicked called of Athos's name. D'Artagnan was sitting up on the bed, breathing heavily and looking much disoriented. He was looking around the room as if to try and work out where he was. "D'Artagnan?" Aramis spoke cautiously, when his door swung open.
D'Artagnan turned to the intrusion and saw the man in his nightmare. He felt the urge to back away from him but there was no where he could go. "What happened?" Athos asked Aramis who was keeping a close eye on D'Artagnan. D'Artagnan looked like he was ready to pounce. "D'Artagnan, are you feeling well?"
D'Artagnan tried to calm himself when he realised it was only a nightmare, but he couldn't understand why his mind would conjure up such a ridiculous scenario. Why would Athos want to kill him? He knew it was absurd but he couldn't stop the panic rising as Athos came closer to him. What's wrong with me? Athos was looking at him with concern. A memory started forming. "Get up and get out! This is the Musketeer's garrison and you're not a Musketeer." That wasn't a dream. He remembered it clearly now. The pain both physical and emotional. Athos was about to place a hand on the boy's shoulder when D'Artagnan flinched, glaring at him. "D'Artagnan, what's wrong?"
D'Artagnan was confused, this wasn't the same man he saw last night. But then, the man he saw last night was a stranger to him. "Why do you care? I'm not a Musketeer."
"What?" It was Athos's turn to be confused. He turned to Aramis who looked weary but Athos could tell he knew what was going on. "Aramis?"
Aramis sighed, "You don't remember last night." Then he put up a hand to stop Athos from answering, "Of course you don't, you never do."
"What are you talking about? What did I do last night?"
D'Artagnan started getting up, wincing as he swung his legs over the side. "You guys talk. I'm leaving." He stood up a little too quickly. The room started spinning. Both Athos's and Aramis's arms flung out as D'Artagnan started swaying. Athos caught him under the arms and lowered him back to the bed. D'Artagnan didn't say anything as he tried to even out his breathing. He was nauseous and usually deep breaths would help him but that was difficult with his wrapped ribs. He wrapped his arm around his middle, hoping to support his ribs while he breathed.
"D'Artagnan, lay back and rest. You're in no shape to be walking around." Athos ordered him.
D'Artagnan scoffed at that and then grimaced at the pain, "Funny considering you tried to throw me out last night."
Athos's eyes widened, "I…" then he frowned and looked at Aramis. Aramis nodded at him, casually, that is pretty much what happened. "I don't know why…"
"It was clear why?" D'Artagnan closed his eyes and his vision started darkening around the edges, "I'm…not…not a…m…" Athos watched in shock as D'Artagnan's eyes rolled back and collapsed onto the bed.
"D'Artagnan!" Athos shot forward and leaned over the man, tapping his face. "D'Artagnan!" Aramis made his way around the bed and pulled Athos away. He turned D'Artagnan's face towards the light from the window and opened his eyelids, one at a time. He smiled when D'Artagnan started stirring already. The longer D'Artagnan stayed unconscious the more danger he would've been in.
D'Artagnan groaned at the spinning ceiling, covering his eyes with his forearm. He felt like the entire room was turned upside down. "D'Artagnan, look at me." D'Artagnan didn't want to. The light from the window was hurting his head. Aramis looked over at the open window, then looked back at Athos. "Pull the curtains." Athos nodded and pulled all the curtains around the room shut. "You can open your eyes now." D'Artagnan slowly moved his arm, squinting cautiously until he determined for himself that the light was bearable. Aramis pulled his arm down the rest of the way and peered into D'Artagnan's tired eyes. "You're no more concussed than you were yesterday but the passing out is a cause for concern."
"I probably just moved too fast." He groaned as he pushed himself up. Aramis took him by the arm and helped him most of the way, slowly this time. "Thanks." D'Artagnan looked around the room. "Where's my shirt?" Athos looked around and spotted the shirt hanging over a chair by the table. He walked over to get it, wanting something to do instead of just standing around, completely clueless.
"I don't know why you'll need your shirt considering you're not going…" Aramis was interrupted by a hand holding a shirt, reaching past him. He turned and narrowed his eyes at Athos. Athos looked at him with a 'what' look.
D'Artagnan just smirked, "Thank you." He said, sarcasm dripping off his words as he took the shirt. Aramis, however, snatched it before he could put it on. D'Artagnan glared at him. "Give it back."
"You won't need it. It's not cold in here." Aramis gave him tight smile in reply to D'Artagnan's glare.
D'Artagnan put his hands on the bed, "I don't need a shirt to walk out of here." He steered himself for the pain he knew would come, but he didn't expect it to be so bad. He barely got off the bed, when he doubled over in pain.
Aramis foresaw what would happen and had an arm out to catch him, pushing him back on the bed. "Get his legs." He ordered Athos. Athos did while Aramis pushed D'Artagnan onto his back. "You're not leaving this room until I say you can." He frowned when D'Artagnan seemed to have trouble breathing. He sat down onto the bed. "D'Artagnan, look at me." D'Artagnan opened his eyes, exhausted. "Take a deep breath."
D'Artagnan nodded and breathed in. "Ahhh!" Athos watched as D'Artagnan threw his head back as he writhed in pain. "Hurts." He barely took a breath.
"What's wrong with him?" Athos asked, clearly concerned for the boy.
The concern in Athos's voice seemed to penetrate through the fog of pain. He opened his eyes and looked past Aramis to Athos. He didn't know who this man was. Is the man in front of him the real Athos or the one who pulled him out of bed the night before? They were completely opposite. "His lungs are bruised." D'Artagnan's attention was directed back to Aramis, "It's going to hurt, but you're going to have to take even breaths." D'Artagnan nodded. "And I will tie you to this bed if you move, even a centimetre."
D'Artagnan almost pouted, "How long?"
Aramis shrugged, "I'll let you know." He looked at how exhausted and how much pain D'Artagnan was in. "Anyway, you can't leave the garrison until words gets around that you're not a wanted criminal. Close your eyes and rest."
Aramis stood and stretched, turning to D'Artagnan "I'm going to wash up and grab some breakfast. If you're staying, try not to do anymore damage to the boy, physical or otherwise." Aramis sighed at the confused look on Athos's face. "You can explain yourself when he wakes up."
"Explain myself? I don't even know what I did." Athos complained, running his fingers through his hair. He sighed, "Can't you just put me out of my misery and tell me what I did? Why, in God's name, is he worse than yesterday?"
"Because you pulled him out of bed! He hit his head, started bleeding and…" Porthos had walked in on their conversation and decided he wanted to get in on punishing Athos.
"…he also has bruised lungs." Aramis revealed to Porthos.
"Bruised lungs?" Porthos nodded impressively at Athos, "You did a number on him…and that's not even including telling him he doesn't belong here."
Athos looked down at the injured man. "I did all that."
"Yes." Aramis patted him on the shoulder as he passed him, "but the thing is, I don't think his physical injuries are what's bothering him." He grabbed Porthos on his way out, knowing Athos wanted to be alone.
Athos walked around to the other side of the bed and sat in the chair Aramis had occupied the entire night. He folded his arms and leaned back into it, watching over the young man sleeping in the bed. He could see the short, rapid breaths D'Artagnan was taking due to the damaged to his lungs. Yesterday night, D'Artagnan only had a minor concussion. There was no damage to his lungs or bleeding from the head. On top of that the image of D'Artagnan shying away from him in fear when he entered the door just made him hate himself even more. "How cruel could I have been last night to warrant fear from a boy who has rarely shown fear?" He asked himself. He closed his eyes and concentrated, trying to recall what happened last night. What would make him hurt D'Artagnan? He remembered leaving here after his confrontation with Treville, feeling confused about his protectiveness over the boy. He's never felt a bond with anyone so shortly after meeting them, but that is what happened with D'Artagnan. It scared him and he definitely didn't like feeling scared, so he did what he always did. He went to drown out the feeling. This is where everything gets fuzzy. He remembered Porthos being with him, which meant the easiest way to work this out was to ask the man, but judging by the look on Porthos face this morning, he may not be willing to talk to him. He sighed, why was he bothering to rack his brain? Like Aramis had said, he never did remember what happened the night before. Anyway, he's a Musketeer. He could deduced what happened. The only reason why he would come back and attack D'Artagnan was to prove he didn't care about the boy, which meant Porthos had called him out on it. "Stupid man never knew when to shut up." As for himself, he always did let his pride get him in trouble. He sat there and let out a long breath. How was he going to explain all of this to D'Artagnan?
Aramis returned two hours later to find Athos watching the man in the bed. He sighed. "Has he woken up at all?"
"Hasn't even stirred." Athos answered without looking away.
"Not even a little?" Aramis asked, the tone in his voice made Athos turn to him.
"No, why?" Athos could see the seriousness of the situation in Aramis's expression.
Aramis strode over and gave D'Artagnan a hard slap. "D'Artagnan!"
"Aramis, what is it?" There was the fear again, the fear for D'Artagnan's life when they found his blood in the cellar.
Aramis didn't answer him, "D'Artagnan!" There was no response at all from the man in the bed.
Suddenly, Athos could see the problem. D'Artagnan wasn't supposed to be unconscious, just resting. "Why won't he wake up?"
Aramis shook his head, "Head injury's worse than I thought. Damn it!" He stood with his hands on his hips. He didn't want to have to do this but there was no other choice. If D'Artagnan stayed like this, he may never wake up. "Keep trying to wake him up. I'll be back." He left without waiting for a response.
Athos sat on the bed and gave D'Artagnan a quick and harsh shake of the shoulder, "Open your eyes, D'Artagnan." He shook him again, "Wake up! I don't know what Aramis has planned for you but I've seen that look on his face and it's not going to be good. So wake up!" Nothing. "Come. I still owe you an explanation and I can't do that if you can't hear me." He waited. "D'ARTAGNAN!"
Aramis walked in with a lancet, bowl, towel and a leather strap. "I think you manage to wake the man on the other side of Paris." Aramis put the instruments on the table, keeping the strap. He sat on the bed and tied the strap tight just above D'Artagnan's elbow, then laid the towel under his arm. "Grab a couple more pillows and place it behind him. I need him elevated." Athos nodded and did as he was told. Aramis lit a candle and then held the blade of the lancet over the flame, ensuring its sanitation. "Get me the alcohol on my shelf." Aramis instructed as soon as Athos had D'Artagnan elevated. Athos uncorked the bottle and handed it to Aramis. He poured the alcohol over the blade to cool it, then looked over at Athos on the opposite side of the bed. "I hate doing this." He sighed as he searched for the vein he needed to bleed. Once he found it he placed the tip of the lancet against it and made the incision. Blood started flowing freely from D'Artagnan's arm. Aramis put the lancet down and grabbed the bowl, placing it under his arm to catch the blood. He gently placed D'Artagnan's arm onto the towel he had laid on the bed.
"How much blood do you need to release?" Athos asked, worried that D'Artagnan didn't even stir when he was cut.
"Several ounces every hour or so, until he shows signs of waking." Aramis answered, "Hopefully that's soon. Bloodletting is the last resort."
"What are his chances?"
Aramis shook his head. He never like bloodletting because with the cases he has observed it had only worked half of the time but he didn't have a choice this time. He was about to answer when Porthos barged in. "Someone said you went to get a lancet, which can only mean one thing." He stopped when he saw the blood flowing from D'Artagnan. "Damn." He cursed softly before pulling over two chairs from the table. One for himself, the other for Aramis. No words were needed. They knew they would be staying by D'Artagnan until he woke.
The procedure was performed another three times and Athos was starting to lose hope. D'Artagnan was getting paler and paler each time he was bled. Aramis didn't want to have to do it again. At first they didn't see the small movement in the fingers. It was Porthos that noticed the movement the second time. He sat up straight, making the others do the same. "Porthos?" Aramis asked when the man just stared at D'Artagnan's hand.
"There!" Porthos exclaimed, pointing at the hand, "Did you see it?"
Aramis looked down. Athos waited. Aramis smiled in relief when he saw the finger move as well. "He's waking up." Athos closed his eyes in relief. He didn't know what he would do if D'Artagnan remained in a coma because of his actions. "Porthos, I need some water and a clean towel." Porthos nodded and went to get it. Aramis went to his shelf and grabbed a gauze and bandage, then sat and waited for Porthos to return.
"Is he going to be okay?" Athos asked him.
"I won't know until he wakes up fully." Aramis answered. Porthos returned with the water and towel. Aramis proceeded to clean away the blood, then placed the gauze over the wound before wrapping it tightly, stopping the bleeding. He placed everything in the water basin and put it on the table in the middle of the room, then returned to his seat, dropping into it, exhausted.
Porthos patted him on the shoulder, "Go rest in my room. We'll watch over him."
Aramis shook his head, "Not until he wakes up."
"Then at least close your eyes and rest. We'll wake you when he does." Athos nodded to him, thankful for the man's skills and knowledge. Aramis has saved their lives plenty of time. He would trust the man over a physician any time. Aramis nodded. He rested his feet on the side of the bed and closed his eyes.
Two hours later…
D'Artagnan felt strange. Weak.
"I think he's waking up." He recognised Porthos's voice.
"D'Artagnan?" That was Aramis calling him. He tried to open his eyes but his lids refused to obey. "Take your time."
Athos waited impatiently. He needed D'Artagnan to open his eyes. D'Artagnan's brow furrowed as he tried to do as Aramis asked of him. Finally, he managed to open his eyes, albeit, only for half a second. Athos couldn't wait any longer. He got up to sit on the edge of the bed and placed a hand on the side of D'Artagnan's head and neck, turning the boy's head towards him. "Come on. Wake up."
D'Artagnan felt the gentle hand on him. The touch helped him to focus, so he tried again. When his eyes opened, everything was blurry. He tried to lift his right hand to rub away the cobwebs but he couldn't move it. He tried his left hand and found it was easier to lift this one. He rubbed at his eyes. When his vision cleared he found Athos looking at him in concern. "About time you woke up." He said as he removed his hand, conscious that the others were eyeing him.
D'Artagnan frowned at him, "What…" He grimaced at his dry throat. Aramis had anticipated this and already had a bowl of water in his hand. He gently lifted D'Artagnan's head and pressed the bowl to his lips. D'Artagnan sipped the water, grateful of the cool liquid running down his dry throat. He opened his mouth for more. "Slowly." He was allowed a couple more mouthfuls before the bowl was taken away. His eyes started drooping again. Why was he so tired? He fought the fatigue and forced his eyes open again. He realised all three of his friends were sitting around him looking at him in concern. He moved to push himself further up when an ache in his right arm drew his attention. He looked down at it. "What happened to me?" He asked when saw the bandage around his arm.
"Your concussion was worse than I thought. You fell into a coma." Aramis explained.
D'Artagnan awoken a little at that revelation, "I what?"
Aramis nodded at the bandage. "I had to bleed you to release the blood building around your head injury."
D'Artagnan closed his eyes, "I thought it was just a bad headache."
"It was and more." D'Artagnan opened his eyes when he felt Aramis's hands turn his head, "Look at me."
D'Artagnan smiled, "You say that a lot to me these days. You should be careful. Word gets around and your appeal with the women is going to diminish exponentially."
The men laughed at that, glad to see D'Artagnan was well enough to joke. "I would like to say you're recovering but after what just happened, I'm going to hold off on that until I'm sure. We'll be keeping an eye on you for the rest of the day."
D'Artagnan looked at him, annoyed, "You're the King's Musketeers. Your job is not to babysit me."
"Our job is to take care of our own." Athos told him, "And you are a Musketeer in every way but in name." He smiled sadly at the confused expression on D'Artagnan. "Don't think about it, D'Artagnan. I'll explain everything when you stay awake long enough."
D'Artagnan frowned. He wasn't sure he wanted an explanation. He didn't want to find out that the Athos he had the misfortune of meeting yesterday night was the real Athos. D'Artagnan knew he was being a coward, not wanting to hear the truth, but being a Musketeer is what he had to live for now. It's his reason for being, if he wasn't wanted here than where could he go? "I'm tired."
"You lost a lot of blood. You'll be tired for a while." Aramis told him even though D'Artagnan was looking at Athos when he spoke.
"Go to sleep, D'Artagnan." Athos ordered his friend, "I'll be here when you wake up."
D'Artagnan closed his eyes, thinking he was just delaying the inevitable.
It was Porthos's turn to be confused, "He actually listened without argument. Are you sure there's no brain damage?"
"I'm quite sure." Aramis stood, "I'm going to Porthos's room to sleep. Call me when he wakes up. If he doesn't wake up in two hours wake him up and ask him some stupid questions." Aramis left those instructions with his friends and headed out the door. He really needed sleep.
Porthos sat there for all of two seconds before he started talking, "You know you were an ass last night."
Athos smirked, "Yes, I know, but I'm pretty sure you provoked me."
Porthos shrugged, "I did and I regret it but you're still an ass." Athos laughed outright this time. Porthos and Aramis were his friends for so long that they never really tip-toed around him. If they were unhappy about the way he was acting, they will tell him to his face. "You know it's normal to care about someone." Porthos pushed on, "It's normal to worry about him when he's injured. You don't have to keep a distance."
Athos first instincts was to deny he cared again, but then he looked at D'Artagnan, pale and weak in the bed, and remembered it was those instincts that caused all this. Vadim may have put D'Artagnan in the bed, but it was his stupid pride and fear that is keeping him there. "I don't like to admit it, but yes I worry about him. He's young and impulsive. On top of that he feels the need to prove himself which means he'll take needless risks." Porthos raised his eyebrows in surprise at the admission. Athos smiled at him, "I don't remember what I said or did to him last night, but I can still see his fear when he saw me this morning. He was scared of me. I'm not letting my pride do that to him again."
Porthos nodded, glad to see Athos come to his senses, "That's good to hear, but you need to tell him that." He nudged his head towards the man in the bed.
"I know." Athos said softly.
It was three days later when D'Artagnan was able to sit up in bed and stay awake. There were a few times Athos thought he would have the chance to talk to D'Artagnan but he could barely speak a word before D'Artagnon would start to drift off. He sat there in the chair awkwardly as D'Artagnan sat in the bed, fidgeting with the quilt, feeling a little uncomfortable himself. "You know, you don't have to sit with me. I'm fine now."
"Aside from the headache, dizziness and nausea." Athos tried to joke to ease the tension. He sighed when D'Artagnan continued fiddling. Athos leaned forward with is elbows on his knees and hands clasped. "Listen, D'Artagnan. I know I was out of line the other night." Athos shrugged, "I was drunk."
D'Artagnan scoffed, "Right, I noticed."
"I don't even remember what I said but whatever I said, I didn't mean it." Athos urged the boy to hear the truth in his words.
D'Artagnan smiled sadly, "My father use to tell me that if you want a man to tell you what he really thinks, you should get him drunk."
Athos closed his eyes, knowing he would not be able to avoid telling d'Artagnan how he really felt. "I was married once and she died. How and why, I would rather not reveal, but it has left me quite…"
"An ass?" D'Artagnan helped Athos with is articulation problem.
Athos chuckled and then gave a one-sided shrug, "As good a word as any. Anyway, I've always tried to keep my distance with everyone I meet. If I don't let it get personal, it won't hurt as much if something happens."
"So telling me I'm not a Musketeer and that I don't belong is your way of pushing me away." D'Artagnan deduced. He started feeling bad for giving Athos a hard time. He did, after all admit to worrying about him. Athos was looking down at his hands, feeling the shame of his actions. "I'm more worried that you seem to be comparing your feelings for your wife to your feelings for me. Because, you know, I like women…I really, really like women." He smiled when Athos started laughing softly. Athos looked up at him, with a grin on his face and shaking his head.
"I bear my heart and soul and that's what you get out of it?" Athos asked, trying to looking serious, and failing badly.
D'Artagnan shrugged, "That and … you're an ass." He laughed with Athos before he sobered a little, "I'm sorry about your wife."
Athos nodded, "I'm sorry about your father. It sounds like he was a very good and honourable man."
"He was." D'Artagnan answered, then frowned, "You got that from the thing I said about a drunk man speaking the truth?"
Athos shook his head, grinning, "You talk a lot when you're concussed."
"I told you about my father?"
"Yes, and according to Porthos, you also spoke about a couple of women…" Athos raised his eyebrows at him, "Madam Bonacieaux being one."
D'Artagnan closed his eyes and leaned his head back, "I'm never going to hear the end of it, am I?"
Athos was about to answer when Porthos and Aramis walked into the room, "She's beautiful and smart…" Aramis said theatrically. They had obviously caught the last part of their conversation.
"Don't forget radiant and kind." Porthos pointed out.
"That's right! She is kind while your mystery woman is deadly."
D'Artagnan groaned at the humiliation. "That's not fair! I almost get blown up and you two take advantage of the situation!"
Porthos and Aramis just looked at each other and shrugged unashamedly. That was pretty what they did. Athos just laughed while D'Artagnan glared at them. "I take it you two boys worked it out."
D'Artagnan smiled and nodded, "As long as Athos understands my preference." Athos rolled his eyes while the other two looked between them, confused. They were obviously missing something.
Aramis wasn't going to push. The private joke was a testament to the strength of their friendship. "How are you feeling today?" Aramis asked as he moved to check his ribs. The rest has helped a lot with D'Artagnan's bruised lungs and ribs. As for the head injury, that would require another few days of non-strenous activities. "In other words you subscribe boredom for the next few days." D'Artagnan said, deadpanned.
"At least it's not bed rest. You can go outside now!" Porthos tried to cheer him up.
D'Artagnan's lips thinned and his eyes narrowed, "To watch all of you have fun while I sit and twiddle my thumbs. Yay." His voice lacked any enthusiasm.
Aramis just shrugged, "You can stay here or go outside. Your choice."
Athos threw D'Artagnan's shirt at him, knowing what he would choose, "Right, because you actually gave me a choice there." He said as he slipped his arms through the sleeves before gingerly pulling it over his head. He swung his legs over the side of the bed and looked down at his boots sitting on the floor. He cursed and he blew his hair out of his face, knowing he couldn't bend over to get them, let alone put them on. "Damn it." He was shocked when Porthos grabbed the boots and slipped them on his feet without a word. "Thanks." He whispered as Porthos stood back up. He realised how lucky he was to be considered a friend to these three men. He may have lost his father, but he found a new family in Paris.
"Just don't get used to it." Porthos laughed.
"I won't. I don't think Constance will be happy if I brought you home to dress me." They laughed as D'Artagnan stood with an assisting hand from Athos. "Thanks." They headed out the door, keeping close by as D'Artagnan made his way over to the steps. The table should have been the better option, but he found sitting on the steps more comfortable, as he could lean back against the rails. He closed his eyes and felt out of breath. He didn't like that such a short walk tired him out so easily.
"Give it time. Your strength will return." Aramis said, reading his mind. D'Artagnan gave a tired smile and nodded. The three left him to start their training. They didn't notice Treville standing on the balcony watching the young man on the step. It was a hard decision to put D'Artagnan undercover to attain the whereabouts of the gunpowder and it was even harder to continuously put the boy in danger. He will stand by his decisions but he wasn't sure he would if D'Artagnan had not returned. D'Artagnan has proved himself worthy to be a Musketeer ten times over during this one mission alone. If it were up to him, he would be commissioned already. He watched as the young man's head started bobbing, a tell-tale sign d'Artagnan was losing his battle with sleep. Treville went inside his office and came back with his cloak. Quietly, he made his way down the steps and knelt beside the sleeping man. He gently laid the cloak over the boy, protecting him from the bite of the cold air. As he stood back up he realised Athos was staring at him. Athos had made it clear that he did not approve of Treville's decisions but what's done was done. D'Artagnan's back and making a recovery. It was time to make amends. Athos nodded at his Captain. The Captain nodded back, before he turned and ascended the stairs to his office. Aramis and Porthos stopped when they noticed Athos's attention was elsewhere. They turned their attention to where Athos was drawn to and smiled at the sleeping man. "This is where he belongs." Athos whispered, mostly to himself. D'Artagnan truly was a natural fit for the Regiment of Musketeers.