Pairings: Athos/Porthos, Aramis/D'Artagnan
Summary: Part three - game, set and match...
AN: Part 1 : Part 2 (Link to the whole thing on AO3)
With the sun beating down out of a cloudless sky the match got underway. For the first five games everything went with serve as the players settled into their stride, trading a few points but holding reasonably comfortably.
As they changed ends after a break, Rochefort murmured to Porthos as he passed. "Hear you guys went missing earlier. What's with that? Thought you were going to make us a present of the match for a while." He grinned and moved on, but Porthos was left with his thoughts in turmoil.
It could easily have been an innocent remark, albeit one certainly designed to distract him from his service game, but the possibility that it was more than that, that one or both of the two players facing him had had a hand in what had happened to Athos - he felt the blood draining from his face, and jumped as Aramis' hand came to rest in the small of his back.
"Okay?" Aramis murmured, concerned by the suddenly sombre look on his partner's face.
"Yeah." Porthos shook himself. He had to concentrate, their opponents would be all over the smallest mistake. A few quiet words with Aramis on direction, and he moved to serve, wiping sweat out of his eyes and taking a deep breath.
On the far side of the net, Rochefort was taking vicious practise swipes with his racquet and Porthos was suddenly seized by the memory of finding Athos lying unmoving and bloodied on the ground. He grimaced, watching his first serve smack solidly into the net.
He centred himself, trying again, and his second serve went in, but it was too careful and he promptly saw it whizz back past him with the contempt it deserved.
Porthos pulled himself together enough to win the next point, only to grit his teeth as they lost the next two, leaving their opponents with two break points.
The harder he tried to concentrate, the tenser he got, and when his first serve was called out wide things only got worse. Porthos wiped his hands on his shorts, gripping his racquet firmly and sighting carefully down the line.
The silence around the court was ringing in his ears as the audience scented early blood, and he found he was holding his breath as he threw up the ball, served - and then time seemed to stand still as it caught the tape at the top of the net and teetered for what seemed like aeons - before dropping back on his side of the court. Double fault, and a break of serve in favour of Rochefort and Bonacieux.
Porthos' shoulders slumped, and he felt sick. "Sorry," he mouthed to Aramis, shaking his head in self-recrimination.
"It's fine." Aramis patted him on the back reassuringly. "It happens. It's just one game. We can take it back."
But the others stood firm despite all attempts to penetrate their defences, and even though Aramis held to love and Porthos to his infinite relief held his next service game as well - the single break was enough and suddenly they were down a set.
Porthos threw himself into his seat and stared miserably at the ground. Aramis leaned closer, resting his elbows on his knees so only Porthos could hear him.
"Let it go," Aramis murmured, guessing that Porthos was blaming himself for the loss. "New set, clean slate. There's plenty of time yet."
Porthos looked at him, face tight with tension. "I can't stop thinking," he confessed under his breath. "What if they had something to do with what happened to Athos? I just want to strangle them with my bare hands."
"Do it with your racquet instead," Aramis advised quietly. "Trust me, taking this title from them would be far more suitable revenge. You let them get into your head, you're handing it to them on a plate."
Porthos felt his breathing ease a little, and was reminded with a strange sense of familiarity of the years spent playing with Athos, when it would be Athos calming him like this, with quiet words of strategy and sense. The papers had referred to them as fire and ice - Porthos had been the passionate one, supremely athletic, seemingly everywhere at once, no ball too wide he couldn't reach it, no lob too high he couldn't smash it at their opponents' feet. Athos had been the calm and calculating strategist, all precision placing and master of the world's most infuriating drop shot. For a while they'd been almost unbeatable, at least until the cracks had started to show.
Porthos heard again Athos' words of the night before in his head. "Win it for me." He felt a steadying sense of purpose slowly filling him and looked at Aramis with a new determination.
"Let's do this."
Their renewed drive saw them break Bonacieux's weaker serve not once but twice in the following set, taking it triumphantly 6:2 and returning to their seats to thunderous applause. While both pairs had their staunch supporters in the crowd, a lot of the spectators had remained from the previous matches and quickly adopted the perceived underdogs, much to the annoyance of Rochefort and Bonacieux.
The third set went with serve, neither side giving an inch despite the sweltering conditions and forcing a tiebreak which Aramis and Porthos slammed their way through 7:2 with a series of blistering groundstrokes.
Two sets to one up they started to feel that they could really do this, and for while things looked like they were going all their way until Aramis, second-serving at 30 all, was suddenly called out with a foot fault.
Thrown, he shot a look at the lineswoman that was more questioning than indignant, having been certain he was in the right position. She shook her head, gazing impassively back at him and he shrugged, returning his thoughts to the matter at hand. Now though, their opponents suddenly had a break point and wary of double faulting again it was Aramis' turn to be too cautious with his serve.
Despite Porthos hurling himself half the width of the court to get his racquet on the return and ending up rolling over and over on the grass, his shot only made it as far as the net, and all of a sudden it was 5:6 and Rochefort was serving for the set. He took it, and Aramis and Porthos found themselves staring down the barrel of a fifth deciding set.
"Sorry," Aramis muttered gloomily, but Porthos slapped him on the back with a war-like grin of encouragement.
"We've broken them before, we can do it again. What were you telling me earlier? Don't let it get to you."
Aramis shook his head, swallowing water thirstily and spilling half of it down his shirt. "Fucking foot fault," he muttered. "I can't believe I was that stupid."
Porthos shrugged, glancing over at the woman who'd make the call. He'd been positioned further in, and hadn't seen where Aramis was serving from. "Shit happens."
Aramis stripped off his shirt to change it for a fresh one and the crowd hooted their loud approval, further irritating Bonacieux on the far side of the umpire's chair, who'd changed his in the last set to barely a murmur.
As it happened, they weren't the only ones observing the lineswoman in question. At the far end of the court, one of the ballgirls was staring at her intently, and as the players got up to open the fifth set, she found a chance to dash across to D'Artagnan, under the pretext of moving the balls up the court.
"That's her," Ellie hissed urgently.
"Who's her? Her what?" D'Artagnan looked up in surprise.
"The woman who just gave Aramis the footfault," Ellie whispered. "She's the one who gave me the message for Athos."
"What?" D'Artagnan stared back at her in startled confusion, but play was about to restart and they had no more opportunities to converse.
As the fifth set progressed, he kept a close eye on the woman in question. He'd never seen her before, although that in itself didn't mean anything, there were a lot of transient officials who only appeared for the duration of the tournament. D'Artagnan wondered whether to say anything to Aramis and Porthos, but remembered Athos' warning against distracting them and decided against it. All he could do was keep an eye on her decisions and make sure there was no funny business.
While the first few games progressed without incident, they were on the brink of breaking Rochefort's serve for the first time in the match, when Aramis' ball was called long. He gave it a hard stare, but it had been the far side of the court and he was prepared to let it go until his eye was caught by D'Artagnan standing in position at the back of the court, staring directly at him and shaking his head frantically.
Aramis immediately raised his finger to challenge the call, and the replay showed it had been firmly on the line. With Rochefort staring daggers at them they were awarded the game and the break, and returned to their seats in a jubilant mood.
At the back of the court the lineswoman half turned to stare at D'Artagnan, having caught his obvious signal to Aramis. D'Artagnan stared back coldly, and gestured with two fingers from his eyes to hers, making it quite clear that he'd be watching her like a hawk. She turned away with blank disdain, but he knew his message had hit home. The match could still go either way, but at least now it would do so fairly.
Rochefort and Bonacieux were conferring behind their hands, and came out firmly on the attack. Porthos, serving, was forced three times back to deuce, before letting his frustration get the better of him and double faulting again, giving their opponents another break point.
The next point was a long one, with all four men haring across the court for nearly twenty strokes before Aramis tried to lob Rochefort. It wasn't quite high enough, and leaping for it Rochefort promptly smashed it back across the net - right into Porthos' thigh.
He let out a loud bellow, more of surprise than pain, and the crowd booed loudly. Rochefort immediately held his hands up in apology, but the smirk on his lips wasn't missed by Aramis, who glared at him coldly before slinging an arm around Porthos on their way back to sit down, with the match back on serve once more.
"Yeah." Porthos rubbed his leg absently, wondering what the hell Athos was making of it all, up in the commentary box. The sheer amount of adrenaline in his system right now meant it wasn't especially hurting yet, but he could tell he'd have a massive bruise later.
"Tell me we're going to beat the shit out of them though?" Porthos added, muttering behind his hand to shield his words from both the umpire and the ever present cameras. There'd always be some smart arse who was lip-reading.
"We're going to wipe the court with them," Aramis agreed firmly. "And it's going to be beautiful."
The vicious move proved Rochefort's undoing, as Aramis and Porthos, seething with contained anger, proceeded to unpick Bonacieux's next service game point by point and break him to love. Aramis then held his own serve with the loss of just a single point, hammering down three aces in the process and forcing Rochefort to come out to serve at 5:2 down, needing to hold to stay in the match.
At first it looked like he'd succeed, reaching 40-love up in just a few minutes. But Aramis and Porthos dug in and refused to give an inch, making them fight every step of the way, and somehow the others failed to close out the game. Deuce came and went so many times the crowd were starting to laugh, with Rochefort and Bonacieux never able to capitalise on any of their hard-won advantage points.
Soon it was the longest game of the match by far, and everyone was starting to feel the effects. The sun was still beating down, and all the players were soaked in sweat. Porthos' leg was throbbing with every pace across the court, and Bonacieux had gone an unfortunate combination of queasy-green and sunburn-pink.
Finally a ball went seemingly wide past Aramis, and Rochefort immediately looked imperiously at the lineswoman. At the same moment, D'Artagnan turned to look at her too, knowing he risked a reprimand for moving out of turn, but determined she should know she was still being watched.
She called it out, a split second before the umpire made his own ruling anyway, and suddenly Aramis and Porthos had match - and tournament - point.
They bumped fists, too short of breath to waste words conferring. They knew each other well enough to understand what the other would do, which way they'd run depending on where Rochefort's serve landed. It came in at 120mph, right at Aramis' feet, but somehow he got it back in play and the next few seconds were a frantic and confused blur of instinctive reactions and hardened experience until the ball sailed up, slightly mis-hit off the frame of Bonacieux's racquet. To Porthos it felt like he had all the time in the world to reach up and fire it back across the net. It seemed to almost burn a track through the air as it slammed down, hitting the ground right between Rochefort's legs, leaving him looking abruptly pale as it bounced on out of the court and thumped into the wall at the back.
The crowd erupted and Porthos dropped to his knees with the realisation that they'd actually done it. Distantly he heard the umpire confirm the score and suddenly Aramis was all over him, hugging the breath out of him in vindicated triumph. He grabbed Aramis' hand and let him haul him back to his feet, embracing him gleefully before trotting quickly to the net to shake hands with their opponents.
Bonacieux and Rochefort both looked sick, and retreated to their chairs as quickly as possible while Porthos and Aramis stood out on the court soaking up the huge waves of applause that were still coming. They felt stunned, hardly able to process the fact that they'd won and couldn't stop smiling, feeling like their cheeks would split any moment.
From his vantage point in the commentary box, a jubilant Athos watched as Porthos leaned in to mutter something in Aramis' ear, then started jogging across the court away from the knot of players and officials starting to gather for the prize ceremony.
"Now where's he off to?" Athos wondered aloud as Porthos didn't stop at the edge of the grass but leaped the barrier and started climbing up through the rows of seating, to huge cheers and a lot of laughter. It wasn't unprecedented, several previous winners had made the infamous climb to the players' box to triumphantly hug family and loved ones - except Porthos didn't have any family, and it was unlikely he'd be going to all that trouble just to see Treville.
As Porthos continued to climb through the seating, his destination abruptly became clearer and Athos' colleagues caught on at the same time as he did.
"I do believe he's coming our way," Athos heard, then jumped as he was slapped on the back.
"I think he's heading to commentary box one," they announced. "Perhaps to see our very own Athos." Amused hands pulled his headset away and pushed him towards the door, and he reluctantly stepped outside to a rising roar of approval from the crowd. Enough of them were die-hard tennis fans to know who he was, to know he was Porthos' ex-partner and appreciate most of the significance of Porthos' headlong dash - if perhaps not the whole of it.
Blushing slightly, Athos stood there as Porthos reached the level of the door and promptly threw himself into Athos' arms, panting and sweating and triumphant. "We did it! We fucking did it!"
"You mad bastard," Athos breathed, holding him tight and hardly knowing whether to laugh or cry for sheer love of him.
Porthos looked at him and grinned. He had a crazy urge, and no time to discuss it, just had to take it on trust that Athos wouldn't kill him for it. Before Athos could speak, Porthos pulled him close again and kissed him full on the mouth.
The crowd went nuts. For some it was validation of a long held theory, for some it was a complete but mostly welcome surprise; other people had never heard of Athos before today but were appreciative of a suitably dramatic end to a fantastic match.
When Porthos pulled back, he was relieved to find Athos smiling, his eyes shining with amazed surprise.
"I love you," Porthos whispered. "And I want everybody to know it."
Athos ducked his head, and gave Porthos a little push. "Get back down there," he smiled. "You're making a spectacle of yourself." Before Porthos could go, Athos pulled him back and kissed him again, prompting a fresh wave of applause from the crowd.
"I love you too," Athos told him. "And I'm so fucking proud." He grinned. "Now get back to work and stop making royalty wait for you."
Porthos glanced back down at the edge of the court where the Duke of Kent was by now waiting patiently to come on with the court officials and present the trophies, and gave a guilty smirk. "Oops."
He climbed back down to the court and rejoined Aramis with an apologetic if unrepentant smile. Aramis patted him on the back then put his arm around him, and together they presented themselves dutifully for the ceremony. Rochefort and Bonacieux still looked sick with disgust at the result and could barely muster a smile for the cameras as they held up their silver runners-up plates.
Aramis and Porthos though were smiling fit for twenty men, and paraded round the court for all the assembled press making the most of every second of their moment of glory.
Shepherded from courtside into an endless round of interviews, after a while Porthos looked up to see Athos hovering at the back of the conference room and shot him a grin. Athos gave him a smile of acknowledgement and leaned unobtrusively against the wall in a corner waiting for the pack of journalists to finally get through with them.
While he was waiting, Treville came to stand next to him, but other than a curt nod he said nothing, and Athos was bemused to realise that rather than being all smiles as he surely should have been at this point, he had an expression like thunder. Athos decided wisely to say nothing, and it wasn't until the four of them were alone together in the changing room afterwards that Treville finally exploded.
"What the fuck were you playing at earlier?" he demanded.
Aramis shuffled his feet and looked guiltily at the ground. Porthos, who'd been hugging Athos madly, head full of so many things he wanted to say to him that he didn't know where to start, pulled back and looked startled.
Treville almost snarled. "Before your match. I came to look for you. Nobody could find you anywhere, we were on the brink of it being declared a walkover. If I find out that you - either of you - " his finger swung from Porthos to Aramis and back again - "risked this tournament for the sake of a quick fuck - " his finger went wider to take in Athos, who looked affronted.
"Well, you can blame me if you want," Athos said in a clipped tone. "As technically yes, I might have been lying down, but I was at least unconscious at the time."
It was Treville's turn to look taken aback. "What?"
The whole story came out then, from the delivery of the whisky through to their discovery of Athos out cold in the service tunnels.
"And you've no idea who hit you?"
Athos shook his head. "Whoever it was, they came up behind me." He frowned, trying to piece together the last moments. "Heels. I vaguely remember the sound of heels." Athos looked up, surprised. "I think it might have been a woman." For a second he looked almost impressed. "Hell of a swing on her, to knock me out for the whole ladies' doubles final."
"Wait - " Treville held up a hand, staring at Athos. "Are you telling me you were unconscious for over an hour and still went on to cover the next match?"
Athos shrugged. "Well. Yes."
"Are you clinically insane?" Treville dug in his pocket for his car keys. "You're coming with me. Now."
"Where to?" Athos looked surprised.
"We'll let the professionals be the judge of that, shall we?" Treville glared at him, daring him to object. He might not be Athos' coach any more but he still considered him one of his boys, and had a protective streak a mile wide for all of them, however gruff he might be to hide it.
Athos sighed. "Oh, very well." He slid an arm round Porthos' waist and kissed him on the cheek. "Guess we'll have to celebrate later. See you at home?"
Porthos shook his head. "Sod that, I'll come with you." He grabbed his bag and gave Aramis a quick hug. "Catch you tomorrow, yeah? Sorry I nearly ballsed things up earlier."
Aramis grinned at him, still on a high. "We got the result we wanted. Nobody ballsed anything," he assured Porthos. It was only after they'd all gone that he gave a slight sigh. Celebrations should certainly have been in order, but now he found himself abruptly on his own.
Just then the door cracked open again and he looked round, expecting one of the others to come back for something. Instead he found D'Artagnan looking in at him with a hesitant expression. "Is it alright? Can I come in?"
Aramis nodded, a smile spreading over his face. "Yes. Of course." D'Artagnan immediately stepped inside and closed the door firmly behind him before launching himself into Aramis' arms. As they staggered back against the tiled wall already kissing, Aramis reflected that he was about to get the pay-off he craved after all.
D'Artagnan's hand was stroking over the front of his tennis shorts and Aramis stiffened quickly under his fingers, turned on by his brazen approach and more than ready to go all the way right here in the locker room if that's what D'Artagnan was up for.
Before he could suggest anything, D'Artagnan had dropped to his knees and suddenly Aramis found he couldn't speak at all, as D'Artagnan rubbed his cheek along the thick line of Aramis' erection before following it with his mouth, breath warm and moist through the cotton.
Aramis reached out to steady himself on the changing bench, taking deep breaths to suppress the feeling that he was seconds away from coming in his underpants. There was a heavy ache in his balls that was growing more intense by the second, D'Artagnan's teasing lips doing their best to drive him crazy.
D'Artagnan hooked his fingers into the waistband of Aramis' shorts and pulled them down a short way, slowly exposing the tip of his cock and teasing it with a flick of his tongue.
Aramis groaned, resisting the urge to fist his hand in D'Artagnan's hair and force him into taking it all at once. He felt D'Artagnan's lips curve in a smile against his hip, before pressing open mouthed kisses in a wet line down the crease of his thigh.
D'Artagnan eased Aramis' shorts down a little further, kissing him daintily on the head of his cock and smirking at the noise Aramis made, before his tongue flickered out again, licking at the slit.
"Fuck." Aramis clenched his hands tightly, feeling his legs starting to shake with tension. D'Artagnan took pity on him and finally pulled his shorts and pants right down to his ankles before wrapping a hand around his cock and sliding it into his mouth. He took Aramis wet and deep, sucking down on him with a slow and intense pleasure.
Aramis was by now breathing hard, shoulders braced against the cold tiles of the wall, legs locked and trembling, the whole of his awareness concentrated on the wet, warm motion of D'Artagnan's mouth. Aramis had been sucked off by a lot of people in his time, but D'Artagnan was better than all of them, firm without being uncomfortable, confident without being showy, and above all unashamedly dirty.
He felt his orgasm approaching, a rising tide of pleasure centred on the soft strokes of D'Artagnan's industrious tongue, and groaned low in his throat. Sensing he was close, D'Artagnan re-doubled his efforts, his lips sliding spit-slick and swollen around Aramis' cock.
Aramis came with a loud and wordless moan of satisfaction, spilling into D'Artagnan's mouth and feeling him swallow around him again and again. Breathless and lightheaded, Aramis watched D'Artagnan sit back on his heels and wipe his mouth. At that angle, with his shorts stretched tight over his thighs, his own erection was obvious and Aramis held out a hand to him.
For a second D'Artagnan looked almost surprised, as if he hadn't expected Aramis to reciprocate, and Aramis took a moment to kiss him thoroughly, making sure D'Artagnan understood his honest appreciation. It was important to Aramis that his lovers had as good a time as he did, however casual or fleeting they might happen to be.
Pressed together like this, Aramis could feel the insistent pressure of D'Artagnan's cock against his bare thigh, and wasted no more time in pulling down his shorts and pants. D'Artagnan groaned faintly, breath warm against his neck, and Aramis bent him forwards over the bench, hand around his swollen cock, working him hard with a steady wrist.
D'Artagnan was firm and warm in his hand and Aramis' fingers were soon slippery with pre-come, the wet noises of skin on skin as he jerked him off just audible over their laboured breathing. It didn't take long at all before D'Artagnan groaned, bending double and striping the dark green of Aramis' towel with thick white spurts of come.
"So." Aramis watched D'Artagnan pulling up his shorts and experienced a sudden sense of regret as he realised he might never see him again now the tournament was almost over. "What are you doing tomorrow?"
"Working," D'Artagnan told him. "Got to be around in case I'm needed on court for the junior finals."
"In the evening?" It would be the champions' dinner, and Aramis was taken with the idea of walking in with D'Artagnan on his arm.
"Sorry. Working again." D'Artagnan sounded brisk and matter of fact, and Aramis suddenly wondered if he was being turned down. He flushed, and dropped the matter.
"Okay. Well. Thank you, anyway, for - for a great fortnight."
It was D'Artagnan's turn to blush, and Aramis pulled him into an impetuous hug which he was relieved to find D'Artagnan returned with interest. They kissed each other one last time, lingering over it with a sweetly sharp sense of parting, then D'Artagnan made for the door.
"Oh. There was one thing," D'Artagnan turned and Aramis was surprised by the spike of hope he felt.
"The lineswoman who gave you the footfault, and a couple of dodgy calls? She was the one who sent Ellie with the message for Athos."
"What!" Aramis stared at him, his disappointment that D'Artagnan hadn't changed his mind about staying fading in the face of his shock.
D'Artagnan nodded. "I looked for her afterwards, but there was no sign. Checked the roster, as far as I can tell she was listed as C. de Winter, but nobody seems to know anything about her. Looks like she was a late replacement for someone who was taken ill." He shrugged. "I don't know if that helps? If she was involved, she's probably long gone by now."
Aramis shook his head slowly. "I guess it's something to go on." He smiled. "Thank you. And - I never thanked you for what you did on court," he realised. "I'd have let that shot go if it wasn't for you. It was a turning point."
"Yeah, that was one of hers," D'Artagnan said darkly. Then he smiled. "Still, guess it's all over now. You did it. Champ." He grinned and punched Aramis on the arm, before finally turning to leave without a backward glance.
Alone again, Aramis slowly sat down again on the bench, and sighed.
It was late when Porthos and Athos finally got home. Athos had been poked, prodded and x-rayed and finally been given the all-clear barring a probable mild concussion. As they walked in the front door Athos yawned, and Porthos rubbed his back.
"How do you feel?"
"Okay. Bit of a headache, but otherwise not too bad. Considering." He smiled, and Porthos took him into his arms, shuddering at the thought of how it might have ended.
"You should go to bed," Porthos advised, despite the fact he was still buzzing from his victory and felt like he wouldn't be able to sleep for hours.
"Mmmn. Coming with me?" Athos invited with a suggestive smile.
"Thought you had a headache?"
Athos leaned in and brushed a kiss just below Porthos' ear, making him shiver. "Perhaps you could take my mind off it?" he whispered. "Besides, you're the conquering hero remember? To the victor the spoils, right?"
"Now there's a promise." Porthos kissed him intently, then smirked. "Hope that doesn't mean you'd have banged one of the others if they'd won?" Athos made a revolted face and he cackled. "Come on then. I don't have to carry you up the stairs slung over my shoulder do I?"
He followed Athos up to the bedroom, pinching his arse every other step and dodging out the way of Athos' slapping hand with a grin. Upstairs, he immediately tackled Athos from behind and bore them both down to the bed.
"Idiot." Athos struggled round onto his back, breathless and half-laughing. Porthos was on top of him, radiating heat and barely suppressed desire. He lifted Athos' hand and pressed it firmly against his own crotch, forcing Athos to fondle his erection through his shorts.
"Feel that?" Porthos growled quietly, leaning over him. "I've got such a fucking big load for you."
Athos let out a huff of breath, chest tight with arousal. He pulled Porthos down closer and kissed him hard, feeling his own cock starting to rise and thicken. He squirmed out from under Porthos' legs, turning back to quickly strip him of his tennis shirt and then drawing down his shorts and underwear.
Slowly he exposed Porthos' hard cock and bent to take him into his mouth. He loved the fact Porthos was so big, loved that sucking him made his jaw ache, loved the anticipation, knowing that soon all of that cock would be stretching him open, making him beg and moan.
For now it was Porthos moaning, as Athos licked around him and took him in as far as he could. Porthos pushed between his lips, impatient and eager, and Athos wrapped his fingers around Porthos' hips to hold him steady.
"Don't stop," Porthos groaned, when Athos sat up and kissed him instead, lips reddened and wet and irresistible. He returned the kiss with enthusiasm, pulling Athos into his lap and groaning again when he found Athos was as hard as him.
Athos shook his head. "I want you inside me," he breathed, voice tight and desperate. "I need you inside me. Right now."
Porthos flipped them over so Athos was sprawled on his back, efficiently stripping them both of their remaining clothing and pushing two of his fingers between Athos' lips. "Suck," he ordered, and Athos did as he was told, eyes wide and dark in the half-light from the landing, tongue swirling around Porthos' fingertips as he sucked on them, making Porthos draw in a sharp breath at the sudden spike of lust that ran through him.
"Fuck." Porthos shoved Athos' legs wider and delved between them, making him gasp as he worked wet fingers inside him.
Athos moaned, driving himself down harder onto Porthos' fingers, needing more, and Porthos laughed with delight. "You're so filthy," he whispered.
"Shut up and fuck me," Athos instructed, although Porthos could see he was smiling. He smiled back, taking a moment to move over and scrabble for a condom in the bedside drawer while Athos' palms beat an impatient tattoo on his arse.
"I'm going to give you such a pounding," Porthos mock-snarled, making Athos snicker with triumph.
"I can take it," Athos promised in a whisper, kissing him again, biting at Porthos' lower lip and sucking it into his mouth.
Porthos pushed Athos down and spread him, thrusting into him with barely restrained desperation. All the pent up energy he'd been fighting down since winning the match came spilling out, all the triumph and adrenaline and pride that he'd had to contain during the endless press conferences and then the hours waiting in the hospital, it all crashed over him like breaking waves of desire, Athos not just taking it but cherishing and loving every tempestuous instant of it, reflecting his own need and longing back at him like a mirror to his soul.
They clung to each other, chests heaving for breath, bodies slick with sweat and joined as one, Athos with his head thrown back as Porthos moved inside him, slower now but just as intent, thrusting into him over and over, at just the right angle to make him see stars.
Athos came with a groan, his devastating climax making him shudder from head to foot. Porthos held him tightly all the way through it, feeling Athos quivering against him, the wetness of his release coating both their chests.
When Athos could breathe again Porthos started moving once more, pushing into him with a renewed vigour for a few fast strokes before pulling out completely and slipping the condom off with one hand. He knelt up and fisted his cock quickly with the other, working himself roughly as he gazed down at Athos lying beneath him.
It didn't take him long to come, and he bit his lip in moaning pleasure as he painted wet stripes across Athos' chest and belly.
Finally sated, Porthos dropped down beside him and wiped the worst of the mess from them both with his discarded shirt. After that they crawled under the covers and kissed for a long time, slow and loving and tender now the passion had all been comfortably ridden out.
"How's your leg?" Athos murmured after a while, sleepily enjoying the sensation of being completely enveloped in Porthos' arms. "I never asked, what with everything else. Fucking Rochefort - I came this close to getting suspended for swearing on air."
Porthos laughed quietly, knowing that Athos with his infinite control had almost certainly done nothing of the sort. Although he might have tutted, which for the BBC would have been condemnation enough.
"I'm alright. It's sore, but the worst I'll get is a fuck-off great bruise." He propped himself up and looked down at Athos, face suddenly serious. "How are you feeling?" Feeling abruptly guilty that barely two hours ago Athos had been having his skull x-rayed and here he was having just fucked him half through the mattress.
"Better for being here with you," Athos murmured, running a fingertip down Porthos' spine.
Porthos though, had started thinking about the attack again, and how much worse it could have been. If Athos' assailant had hit him harder, or in a different place, or they hadn't found him, or - Porthos shivered.
"Porthos? What's wrong?" Athos kissed him softly on the temple, having felt him tense up.
"When I found you lying there earlier - I thought - just for a second, I thought - " Porthos broke off, burying his head in Athos' shoulder and having to control himself for a moment. Athos held him close, peppering kisses in his hair with a reassuring ferocity. Finally Porthos gave a shaky laugh at all the pecking and looked up again, regarding Athos with eyes gleaming with held back tears.
"Made me realise," Porthos said hoarsely. "I don't know what I'd do without you. Before you - I had nothing. No-one. You gave my life a shape Athos, made it mean something." He gave Athos a crumpled smile, leaning into the hand Athos was cradling his face with. "I need you, Athos. Maybe more than you need me," Porthos whispered.
Athos smiled. "I doubt that," he said softly, knowing there was a very real possibility that if it hadn't been for Porthos he might not have made it this far.
Porthos covered Athos' hand with his own and turned his head to press a kiss to Athos' palm. "We need each other then," he said.
"Perhaps just the way it should be." Athos drew Porthos down into his arms again and kissed him gently, stroking his hair, hands gliding soothingly down his back.
Porthos made a contented noise, settling at Athos' side and pulling him as close as possible. After a second he sniffed, although it was more an assessing sniff than a tearful one, then raised his own arm and sniffed again, making a face.
"Christ, I'm offending myself," Porthos muttered. "Should I go and shower?" Realising he'd never managed to get round to it since coming off court.
"No." Athos burrowed into him and closed his eyes. "Too tired. Let's just sleep in our own filth."
Porthos grinned. "I knew I loved you for a reason."
At nearly midnight the players' centre was deserted and the only sound was of high heels clicking imperiously down the corridor towards the exit.
"I paid you to do a job. Milady."
The unexpected voice made her stop in her tracks and turn slowly. Richelieu was standing behind her a little way up the corridor and she reflected not for the first time that the man could move as silently as a bat when he wanted to.
"And you gave me the impression your team were the better players," she retorted coldly. "If a couple of points were enough to lose them the match - "
"You were supposed to be my insurance!" Richelieu growled.
"One of the ball boys was onto me. I'd already made two suspect calls, if I made another I ran the risk of being exposed. And I'm sure you wouldn't want that - for both our sakes."
Richelieu narrowed his eyes at the implied threat. "As for that debacle with Athos - I told you to distract them, not half-kill someone! What the hell were you thinking?"
"If I'd only locked him up he might have escaped. I had to make it look good. It would have worked, but they found him too early. I sent someone down to give them the message that he'd gone missing, but they'd somehow already gone looking for him." She shrugged dismissively. "You can't win them all."
"Winning them all is the point!" Richelieu hissed. "I want my money back."
"Sorry. Spent it."
They glared at each other. After a while, Milady relented a little. However much it annoyed her, he was technically right. "Fine, how about Flushing Meadows? I'll do you a discount."
"You'll do it for free. Or I'll crucify you." It wasn't entirely clear whether Richelieu was being metaphorical or not, and she made a mental note that if he became too much of a threat he might need neutralising.
"As you wish." She gave him a slightly mocking bow. "You might want to get your boys to practise a little first though. I can smooth their way, but I can't polish a turd." She pushed through the doors and vanished before the spluttering Richelieu could come up with a suitable reply.
Richelieu was stalking across the darkened carpark when Treville stepped out in front of him and he almost growled, feeling that the day was going from bad to worse.
"What are you doing here?" Richelieu snapped ungraciously.
"Looking for you." Treville folded his hands in front of him. He was lying, but there was no reason to let Richelieu know the truth where a convenient lie would unsettle him more. He'd actually returned here after dropping off Athos and Porthos, having still been with them when Aramis called to relay D'Artagnan's information about the mysterious lineswoman.
Treville had promised he'd investigate, it being at the time the only way to convince Athos to go home to bed. Unfortunately the name C. de Winter seemed to be a false one, as did all her registered contact details, and oblivious to the fact that the object of his enquiries was at that very second driving at speed out of the far exit, Treville had reached a dead end. Athos had flatly refused to involve the police, saying it would detract too much from Porthos and Aramis' well-deserved attention, and reflect badly on the tournament.
"And?" Richelieu made a show of looking impatiently at his watch.
"I just wanted to let you know. That if I ever find out you had any hand in what happened to Athos today, I will end your career," Treville said in a dangerously calm tone.
"I have no idea what you mean."
"I hope not. For your sake."
"Enjoy your success while it lasts," Richelieu said distastefully, starting to walk away. "Next year we'll take the title back, don't you worry."
"It's good you have something to look forward to," Treville called after him. "Because for now, runner up? From where I'm standing it's still called losing."
The next day was Sunday and the final day of the championships, with the men's and mixed doubles' finals playing out to packed crowds. Aramis watched the singles for a while and then drifted across to watch the juniors on court number one, telling himself it was important to support up and coming talent and that it had nothing to do with anyone who might or might not be fetching their balls.
Regardless, there was no sign of D'Artagnan on court and Aramis returned home to dress for the champions' dinner that evening with a nagging feeling that he couldn't quite identify and refused to consider might be loss.
Aramis arrived early and alone, and was standing at the bar eyeing the talent in the room with less than his usual enthusiasm when he was hailed from behind.
Aramis turned round to find Porthos grinning at him, Athos at his side. "Hey." He smiled broadly, embracing them both. "How are you?" he asked Athos, glad to see he was looking better. He'd had a text from Porthos earlier on during the men's final to say they were both staying at home to give Athos a chance to recover.
"Good, thanks. Clean bill of health. A good night's sleep and a decent meal, all I needed really."
"And I'm sure Porthos made sure you got something approximating to both," Aramis murmured with a knowing smirk, making Athos choke with stifled laughter and Porthos punch him in the arm. "Ow!"
"Where's D'Artagnan, anyway?" Porthos demanded. "Thought you'd have invited him along. Or is he yesterday's news now?"
Aramis flushed a little. "I was going to, but he's working. Apparently."
They sat down at a table and started picking with interest at the various bowls of things set out to eat before the main courses arrived. A waiter brought over a complimentary bottle of champagne, but Porthos stretched out his hand to forestall him. "No, thank you."
Athos though, shook his head. "Don't be daft." He signalled to the waiter to continue, although kept his hand over his own glass. "It's fine," he told Porthos quietly. "I'm fine. If I wasn't, I wouldn't be here - I couldn't be. Have fun, you deserve every second of it." He looked back at the waiter and smiled. "Could I just have an orange juice please? Plenty of ice."
They'd been sat there a while, watching the first few brave people moving onto the dance floor and waiters starting to bring out plates of food when Aramis sat bolt upright, staring across the room. Athos and Porthos turned to see what he was looking at, and finally realised that one of the waiters was D'Artagnan.
"Guess he really was working," Porthos murmured, but Aramis was already out of his seat and making his way across the room.
D'Artagnan turned and almost dropped his tray, Aramis helping him steady it quickly.
"Aramis. Hi." He put the tray down carefully, pushing his hair back and looking flustered but not entirely surprised.
Aramis held his palms up. "Why didn't you say this was where you were working?"
D'Artagnan blushed, hanging his head a little. "I was only supposed to be working in the kitchens, but they were short-handed." He looked up at Aramis and sighed. "Look, I'm just a catering skivvy. A nobody. And you're a hot shot tennis star, man of the moment. Next week you'll be halfway across the globe and hooked up with someone else. I'm not daft, I know this isn't - that I'm not - " He winced, wishing Aramis would interrupt him. "We've had a good time, yeah? I know that's all it was. I suppose I didn't want you to have to tell me goodbye."
Aramis waited to be sure he'd run out of stuttering things to say, then continued to stare helplessly at him. D'Artagnan shifted uncomfortably. "What?"
"I was going to invite you," Aramis said. "Tonight. As my plus one."
D'Artagnan looked startled. "You were? Really?"
"Really." Aramis made up his mind and held out his hand. "Dance with me?"
D'Artagnan looked around, blushing darker than ever. "I'll get fired," he protested, but he was smiling.
"Fuck 'em. Dance with me," Aramis insisted, and this time D'Artagnan didn't object as he was lead out onto the dance floor. They moved to the music, at first just next to each other, then holding each others' hands, and finally in each other's arms, pressed together chest to hip, and gazing into each others' eyes. The kiss that followed felt inevitable and natural and seemed to last forever.
Across the room Athos nudged Porthos and nodded at where Aramis and D'Artagnan were now dancing together, slow and close, D'Artagnan's head resting on Aramis' shoulder.
"Do you think it's true love?"
Porthos snorted. "It's always true love with Aramis. Ask me again in a week."
"I thought I was supposed to be the cynical one?" Athos murmured. Porthos leaned over and kissed him on the cheek, but Athos turned his head and captured his mouth. Porthos made a noise of protest, awkwardly conscious of the champagne he'd been drinking, but Athos pulled him closer, deepening the kiss, his lips warm and eager, tongue soft and insistent in Porthos' mouth.
"You shouldn't - " Porthos breathed, resting his forehead against Athos'.
Athos smiled at him, sheepish and sleepy-eyed. "Couldn't resist. Besides, you mostly taste of olives."
They looked at each other and laughed quietly, hands tangling together on the table. It was a new feeling, to be this open about things in public, and both were enjoying the novelty.
"You okay?" Aramis murmured, enjoying holding D'Artagnan in his arms, but worried that he was unusually quiet.
"Yeah." D'Artagnan looked up at him. "It's just - this doesn't change anything, does it? This time tomorrow you won't even be in the country any more. You'll forget me."
Aramis held his gaze. "You could come with me?"
"I - what?"
"Come with me." Aramis stopped dancing and took D'Artagnan's hands. "I'm serious."
"As - what?"
Aramis shrugged. "I don't know. We'll figure something out. I just won a shit-load of prize-money for a start, so it's not like you'd have to worry about working for a while." He grinned, and D’Artagnan laughed, half-disbelieving.
"You want me to be a kept man?" he teased.
Aramis drew him closer and kissed him. "All I know is, I want you to come with me," he said quietly. "Everything else we can work out later. Say yes."
D'Artagnan laughed, shook his head, and smiled helplessly back at him, biting his lip.
Athos and Porthos looked up as Aramis rejoined them, this time hand in hand with D'Artagnan.
"He's coming with us," Aramis announced, a little defiantly. "Back to Paris." Looking around as if expecting an objection.
Porthos shrugged. "Okay." He winked at D'Artagnan, who smiled back shyly.
"Congratulations," Athos murmured, giving Porthos an amused look and pushing the champagne bottle towards D'Artagnan. "Here, help yourself. You can have my share."
D'Artagnan laughed then, finally relaxing as he realised they didn't think he was some kind of gold-digger, leaning against Aramis' side and throwing his apron under the table as Aramis poured him a drink.
Athos raised his orange juice. "To the new champions," he proposed.
Porthos shook his head. "No, to us. To all of us. Everyone round this table's done something worth toasting this week. And long may it continue."
The four of them clinked glasses in the middle of the table, three champagne flutes and a glass of tinkling ice, and echoed his words with a smile.