Rating: PG (this part)
Summary: Written for the prompt of "Athos rescues Porthos from a burning building. Porthos is so grateful that he's driving Athos mad." Modern AU.
Porthos finally arrived home late in the evening, disgorged from a taxi wearing disposable hospital slippers and shivering in his t-shirt. Letting himself into his flat, he made a cup of tea and sat down to dig through the drawer of random bits of paperwork that he'd never got round to sorting out, until he eventually unearthed a scrap of paper with Charon's mobile number on it.
Without a landline he'd have to go out and buy a cheap new phone before he could call him, although Porthos supposed there was a chance Charon would turn up at his door in the meantime.
He sighed. He was tired, and achy, and smelt of an unappealing combination of smoke and hospital waiting rooms. They'd given him two stitches in his forehead, some painkillers that had worn off hours ago, and some cream for the couple of mild burns he'd sustained, and for all that had kept him hanging around most of the day.
His mind drifted to Athos, wondering where he was and what he was doing right now. Whether he'd spared a thought for Porthos since they parted company.
Feeling rather lonely and sorry for himself, Porthos stripped off his clothes and dropped them in the basket. He'd have to take them to the launderette, and wished not for the first time that his flat was big enough to take a washing machine.
It was more of a bedsit really, a combined kitchen and living area, tiny bedroom and tinier bathroom, crammed into half the ground floor of a converted house. But it was home, and it was his, and there was something to be said for that. Also, it was still standing, which had a lot more to be said for it, Porthos reminded himself as he stepped into the shower.
The hot water revived him a bit, but it also made the raw skin sting like buggery, and he carefully daubed on the antiseptic cream before curling despondently into bed, reflecting that it was just as well Athos couldn't see him now.
It felt like it had been a long time since anyone had bothered to put themselves out for Porthos, certainly not without thought of reward or return. Quite apart from the rescue itself, he kept returning to the memory of Athos sitting opposite him in the ambulance, quiet and calm and reassuring. Realising that if he'd been bundled off to hospital on his own he'd probably have freaked out.
He had a lot to be grateful for, and fell asleep determined to find a way to show his appreciation.
Two days later Porthos made his way to the local firehouse with a basket over one arm and a stomach full of nerves. He had no idea if Athos would be there, but assuming he was working regular shifts and wasn't out on a call, then Porthos figured there was a good chance he might be.
He'd spent the intervening time wavering between determination to say thank you properly and the conviction that Athos would barely remember who he was. In the end, the realisation that he'd thought about precious little else than Athos for nearly forty eight hours was enough to convince him. Even if he was laughed out of the station he needed to see Athos just one more time.
Also, he had to admit a secondary motive in going there. He'd finally acquired another phone and called Charon, but there'd been no answer, nor had he turned up on Porthos' doorstep in either concern for his wellbeing or in search of a place to stay.
The local news hadn't reported any fatalities in its brief coverage of the fire, but Porthos had a nagging worry that Charon might have been in someone else's flat when the fire took hold. And he knew from experience that Charon might well have been in no state to notice the building literally burning down around him. Athos, or one of the others would surely know if anyone had died in there.
He reached the building and ventured into the entrance foyer. A woman in the reception office at first attempted to head him off, but when he asked for Athos by name and offered her first pick of the contents of his basket, he was directed through to a recreation room at the end of the hall.
Walking hesitantly in through the door, Porthos found a room with a scattering of formica tables and metal chairs, a couple of sofas, and a few kitchen units. A group of men were gathered around a table football game, and a couple of others that Porthos didn't recognise looked up at him curiously.
He was about to apologise and back out again when a friendly voice hailed him and he turned to find one of the firefighters who'd been standing with Athos that day was waving at him.
"Hello. It's Porthos isn't it? Fully recovered? Whatever are you doing here?"
He sounded curious rather than accusatory, and Porthos relaxed a fraction.
"Hello - ah, sorry, I don't - ?"
"Oh, I'm Aramis. And this is d'Artagnan. Were you looking for Athos?"
Porthos' face brightened involuntarily, and Aramis indicated behind him with a discreet nod.
Porthos turned round and found that Athos was standing hardly any distance away at all, had obviously been standing at the kitchen counter with his back to the room when Porthos had walked in.
At finding himself in such unexpectedly close proximity Porthos immediately forgot all the carefully planned words he'd worked out and became utterly tongue tied.
Athos was dressed in black cargo pants and a white t-shirt, a clinical dressing visible around his left upper arm under the sleeve, and Porthos couldn't summon a single coherent thought apart from how much he suddenly needed this man to fuck him.
"Hello," said Athos, when it became apparent Porthos wasn't going to say anything. "Is everything alright?"
Porthos found his voice. "Yes. Uh. Sorry. I just - I never really got the chance to say thank you the other day. For, you know. Saving my life and all. So I, uh, made these for you." He held out the basket. "Chocolate brownies. Figured you could share them out. It's not much, but - yeah."
"Did someone say brownies?" d'Artagnan materialised at his side, Aramis right behind him.
Athos looked amused. "That's - very kind of you. Thank you." He took the offered basket and set it down on the table where it was immediately pounced on by the other two.
Porthos caught Aramis lifting one to his nose, and bridled at the implication.
"There's nothing funny in it!"
Aramis grinned at him, unabashed. "Pity." He took a bite and made appreciative noises. "Mmn. These are really good."
"Won't you have one?" Porthos said hopefully to Athos, as d'Artagnan followed Aramis' example and selected one eagerly but Athos had made no move towards them.
"Ah, I'm not really a huge fan of chocolate to be honest," Athos confessed. "I'm sure they're lovely though, and they certainly won't be wasted, thank you."
Porthos was stricken. "Shit, sorry, I should have checked. I just figured everyone liked chocolate."
"Athos always has to be difficult," Aramis smirked. "He's a nightmare at Christmas."
"Like you're complaining that there's always more for you," Athos drawled, and Aramis snickered.
Porthos was shaking his head. "I'll make you something else."
"No, really," Athos looked embarrassed. "You don't have to do that. You didn't have to do this. We were all just doing our job."
"Hey, don't discourage him," d'Artagnan grinned. "These are amazing."
"How are you not the size of a house?" Athos complained. "You never stop eating."
"Fast metabolism," d'Artagnan said through a mouthful of a second brownie. "Lots of exercise."
"Genetically skinny bastard more like," Aramis snorted.
Porthos watched the good-natured bickering with a smile, then sobered as he remembered his other question. "Um. There is one thing I was wondering. My friend's still not been in touch, and I just - were there any - did anyone not get out?"
Athos looked surprised, and shook his head. "Not that we've heard. They've been through the building pretty thoroughly and it seems like everyone made it out." He smiled. "You were the last."
Porthos couldn't remember the last time a simple smile had made him feel this giddy.
"Right. Thanks. Well, anyway, I won't keep you," he managed. "I just thought I'd drop in." Like he hadn't been obsessing over it for two days. "Oh, how's your shoulder?"
"I'll live," Athos told him. "Really, it's fine. How are you doing? I see they gave you stitches."
Porthos raised a hand to his head, remembering for the first time that he had an ugly graze down his face and a burn mark on his cheek. "Fine. I'm fine. Just a scratch," he said hastily. He decided to make his escape before he said anything humiliating, and despite his embarrassment over the brownies was glad that it had inadvertently given him an excuse to come back.
When he'd gone, Athos sat down at the table and picked up the crossword, hoping to avoid the teasing from the others that he suspected was inevitable.
"Athos," Aramis chided. "There is such a thing as being too honest you know. You couldn't just have taken a mouthful of what he was offering you?" he said, in an innocent tone entirely at odds with his suggestive grin.
"I could, but then I understood it was equally bad manners to spit," Athos murmured without looking up from the newspaper.
Aramis promptly inhaled a mouthful of brownie from laughing too hard and d'Artagnan had to bang him on the back until he recovered.