Pairings: Somewhere between gen and Athos/everyone
Summary: For the kinkmeme prompt: "When Athos drinks a little too much, he becomes a much more tactile person then usual, and it means that he's clinging to everyone who's near him at the moment. That's why he prefers to drink alone, so not to embarrass himself. Of course his closest friends are totaly aware of his little weakness, but pretend that they are not. That's why at least one of them is always sticking close to him, when Athos is drunk. And Athos, in his turn, pretends that he doesn't remember anything."
"I'll stay, if you want?" d'Artagnan offered, draining his cup of wine and settling back in his chair.
Aramis and Porthos exchanged a glance.
"It's fine," said Aramis.
"We've got it covered," said Porthos, at the same time.
D'Artagnan looked a little hurt. He'd been hanging out with them for several months now, and while in many ways it felt like they'd adopted him seamlessly into their friendship, in this one regard he was consistently shut out.
He'd got used to the way that every now and then Athos would go off to sit by himself to drink in silence, and he found it commendable that either Porthos or Aramis would always stay behind to see he got home safely. But despite the fact that on several occasions d'Artagnan had offered his own services, so far they'd always turned him down.
"Don't you trust me?" he said now, knowing he sounded sulky and hating himself for it.
"It's not a question of trust," Aramis said kindly.
"We're doing you a favour," Porthos added, smirking into his drink.
"A favour?" D'Artagnan looked from one to the other, frowning. "What, does he get violent? Maudlin? Sick?" He sighed. "Look, I just feel I should be pulling my weight."
"We leave you alone with Athos, you might find you've pulled more than that," Porthos muttered cryptically and Aramis stifled a laugh.
"It's - for the best," Aramis assured him. "Trust us."
It was just gone midnight, and d'Artagnan was standing outside the tavern, muffled in his cloak and shivering slightly. He'd left an hour earlier but had remained outside, determined to discover for himself what the big mystery was.
The door banged open and d'Artagnan ducked back into the shadows, as a large, shambling, four-legged creature almost fell out onto the street. The shape resolved itself into Porthos with Athos draped half over him and clinging to him for dear life. Behind them Aramis stepped out with rather more poise, carrying what looked like Athos' hat.
At first d'Artagnan thought Athos was hanging onto Porthos to keep himself upright, but then blinked as Athos wound his arms round Porthos' neck and kissed him unmistakeably on the mouth.
D'Artagnan froze, but Porthos didn't appear to make anything of it, just laughed and tried to unpick Athos' limpet like grip on him.
"Gerroff you great twat," he rumbled affectionately, pushing Athos' face away from his with a gentle hand.
"Porthos," Athos crooned protestingly, and buried his face in Porthos' neck instead, nuzzling him insistently.
Porthos snorted, looking round for Aramis. "Here, do you want him for a bit?"
Aramis grinned. "No, no, you're doing an admirable job. Keep it up."
Patting Athos absently on the back, Porthos directed his stumbling progress along the street, a firm arm around him to prevent him from either falling over or making a drunken lunge for Aramis. Unfortunately their path took them within feet of d'Artagnan's hiding place and sensing a figure lurking in the shadows, Porthos froze.
"Who's there?" he demanded. Aramis was immediately at his side, sword half drawn, and even Athos straightened up, alerted by the tone in Porthos' voice.
D'Artagnan stepped forward sheepishly. "It's only me."
Aramis sheathed his sword with a sigh of disgust, and Porthos rolled his eyes. Athos, on the other hand, gave him a wider smile than d'Artagnan could ever remember seeing from him and launched himself towards him.
D’Artagnan suddenly found himself with his arms full of Athos, who was giving him a bear-hug. He laughed in surprise, and tentatively hugged him back.
"Hello," he replied cautiously, aware that Aramis and Porthos were smirking at him.
"I think we've found a new nurse-maid," Aramis said cheerfully.
"Well he did offer," Porthos agreed.
Athos showed no sign of letting go, and D'Artagnan wasn't entirely sure what to do.
"Um. Guys?" D'Artagnan broke off, his eyes widening slightly.
"What's wrong?" Aramis asked cheerfully.
"He's got his hand on my arse," d'Artagnan hissed.
Aramis and Porthos exchanged a look.
"Could be worse," Aramis said.
"Probably soon will be," Porthos agreed, and they sniggered.
"Not helping!" D'Artagnan hissed at them, trying in vain to deflect Athos' wandering hands.
"Oh, don't take any notice," Aramis advised. "He just gets a bit - tactile, when he's this drunk."
"Handsy," Porthos nodded. Then grinned. "Occasionally bitey. But he means it affectionately."
"Bitey?!" yelped d'Artagnan, shoving Athos off him completely in alarm.
Athos looked mournfully at him. "Don't be like that," he mumbled. "Come here."
Helplessly, D'Artagnan let Athos pull him back into a tight embrace, while Porthos laughed till he choked.
"You have to be firm with him," Aramis advised.
"Yeah. He likes that," Porthos added, weak with laughter and holding himself up on Aramis' shoulder.
D'Artagnan glared at them. "You think this is funny, don't you," he complained, as Athos started mouthing up the side of his neck.
"More like fucking hilarious to be honest," said Porthos.
"We did warn you," Aramis pointed out.
"No you didn't! You were all cryptic and mysterious!" D'Artagnan tried to fend off Athos' searching lips and only succeeded in diverting him to the other side of his neck.
Aramis conceded the point. "If you were Athos, would you want us telling everyone you got like this?" he asked instead.
"Well. No. I suppose." D'Artagnan sighed. "I'm not everyone though."
"No. And perhaps you're right, we should have said. But it wasn't our secret to tell, and we've been used to watching Athos' back for too long. Sorry."
D'Artagnan shook his head. "It's alright." He turned his attention back to Athos. "Hey. Time to go home, okay?"
Athos focussed on him a little blearily, and nodded obediently.
"I think he likes him," Porthos grinned.
Athos chose this moment to try and kiss d'Artagnan on the lips, and Aramis sighed happily as d'Artagnan ducked backwards so fast he hit his head on the tavern sign.
"I think he really likes him."
D'Artagnan was swearing and rubbing his head, and simultaneously attempting to stop Athos from trying to kiss it better, and Aramis and Porthos agreed that this had been the best evening's entertainment since they could remember.
"Morning." D'Artagnan smiled cheerfully at Athos as he took his seat at the end of table the next morning, hat pulled firmly down over his eyes to block out the glare of the sun.
Athos looked briefly up at him and grunted, returning his attention to the drink in front of him, which was all he could stomach.
Aramis clapped d'Artagnan on the shoulder. "Don't take it personally," he advised. "He's not good at morning afters. Did you get him home alright?" They'd left him to it in the end, d'Artagnan insisting that he was more than capable.
D'Artagnan looked down the table at Athos, head bowed and uncommunicative, and sighed. There was something sad about the fact he only felt able to be affectionate when he was off his face.
"Yeah. Yeah, no sweat."
Not feeling the need to tell them that left alone, he'd given in and let Athos kiss him. Which he was hoping wouldn't turn out to be a problem. Was that why Athos was ignoring him?
"Don't worry. He probably doesn't remember," Porthos murmured. D'Artagnan looked up in shock.
"Remember what?" Wondering for a cold second if they'd followed him home after all.
But Porthos just shrugged. "Last night," he said non-committally.
"We've been taking him home for a lot longer than you, after all" Aramis murmured, on his other side. "He can be very persistent."
"And there's nothing wrong with being kind," Porthos added quietly.
D’Artagnan looked from one to the other, realising they were probably telling him they'd done the same thing at some point. He nodded, slowly.
"You really think he doesn't remember?"
Porthos shrugged. "If he does, he's never said. Maybe it's better that way. For everyone."
D'Artagnan wanted to protest, but held his tongue. And later, as he watched Porthos go without being asked to refill Athos' cup, and Aramis coax him into eating a little, he realised love could sometimes be a quiet thing, and still be love.