Rating: 15 (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.
The next few days dragged past, and Porthos found himself in a conflicted frame of mind. He'd heard nothing from anyone, and wished he'd taken down Aramis' phone number. He hoped d'Artagnan was okay. He hoped Athos was okay. More than once he decided to go down to the fire station, only to change his mind again. He'd promised Athos he wouldn't push things for a while, and was afraid that if he turned up it would give the wrong impression.
Then one Saturday afternoon about a week later, he walked out of his front door and straight into Athos.
Athos looked flustered at his unexpected appearance, and Porthos greeted him in surprise.
"Hello. Were you coming to see me?"
"Yes. Well. Actually I've been standing here for about ten minutes trying to make my mind up," Athos confessed, looking embarrassed.
"Come in," Porthos invited, starting to dig his keys out again, but Athos stopped him.
"No, no, it's fine, I can see you're on your way out. I just - I thought you'd like to know that d'Artagnan's going to be alright."
"Oh thank God." Porthos stared at him. "You must be so relieved."
Athos nodded. "You have no idea," he murmured.
"Are you alright?" Porthos asked. Athos looked dog tired, and he suddenly found himself hoping Aramis had hugged him when they'd heard the news.
Athos nodded. "Fine. Really. At least, I will be now." He hesitated. "That was the other reason I came. I wanted to say thank you. For the other night."
"I didn't really do anything," Porthos protested, but Athos smiled wearily at him.
"You stayed," he said softly. "And you cared. I didn't want you to think that I don't appreciate it."
Porthos smiled at him. "Look, I've just got to pick up a few bits and pieces in town. Why don't you come with me, let me buy you a coffee?"
Athos looked at his watch and Porthos assumed he was going to make an excuse and say no, but to his surprise Athos nodded. "Alright. But I'm buying."
They walked the short distance to the nearest row of shops and settled down at a table in the cafe as a cold rain shower began to spatter at the windows.
"I offered to resign you know," Athos murmured, after they'd sat in companionable silence for a while.
"What?" Porthos looked up at him, startled. He knew Athos had taken it hard, but he hadn't realised it had come to that.
Athos gave a rueful smile. "Treville wouldn't accept it," he admitted. "And d'Artagnan threatened to punch me from his hospital bed if I offered again."
"Good," Porthos said feelingly. "What did Aramis say?"
Athos looked amused. "Oh, Aramis just called me a twat."
"You and Aramis have been doing this for a while, eh?" Porthos ventured.
"Years. We started at about the same time. At first I thought we were going to hate each other. I considered him too loud and frivolous and sex obsessed. He found me dull and disapproving." Athos smiled. "Somehow though, we clicked. As time went by we found we trusted each other, understood each other. Maybe better than anyone else ever had."
"You must be very close."
Athos gave him a slight smile. "Jealous?" he teased.
Porthos laughed. "Maybe."
"You've got no reason to be." Athos seemed to realise what he'd said and flushed slightly. "I mean, Aramis is strictly into girls," he amended quickly.
"He's the only person who gets to hug you though," Porthos couldn't help saying.
"He's the only one who tries."
Porthos looked mournfully at him, and Athos looked back, reading the intention in Porthos' eyes a fraction of a second after the impulse occurred to him. Porthos made a lunge and Athos pushed his chair back in the same instant, holding a hand up and laughing.
"Not here. Please."
Porthos sat back, grinning. "Does that imply I can hug you later then?"
Athos didn't reply, but the fact he hadn't said no made Porthos' grin widen.
"Look, why don't you come back home with me?" Porthos suggested hopefully. "Spend the afternoon watching crap TV. Unwind a bit. We could stick a pizza in."
Athos smiled, looking away. "Tempting," he confessed.
"Say yes then."
"I can't." Athos sighed. "I'm due on shift in twenty minutes."
"Come by afterwards then," Porthos urged. Athos looked at him consideringly.
"It would be late," Athos said quietly. "Gone midnight."
"Doesn't matter," Porthos said immediately, astonished by the fact that Athos was even considering it.
Athos nodded slowly. "Alright. If you're sure?"
In the event it was closer to one in the morning when Porthos' door buzzer jerked him out of a doze. He stumbled out into the shared hall, fumbling for the light and then the door handle.
Athos was on the step, looking exhausted. He smiled, but there was a wariness to it, as if not entirely sure of his welcome, and Porthos couldn't help himself, as Athos stepped over the threshold he enveloped him in a full-body hug.
As his brain caught up with his instincts, Porthos was prepared for Athos to pull away, but instead, after the first second of frozen surprise, he hugged back.
For a moment they held each other tightly, and Porthos was just starting to worry that Athos must be feeling unbelievably rough to accept such unlooked-for comfort, when abruptly the light went out, plunging them into darkness.
Porthos swore, groping for the control near the door.
"Sorry, stupid thing's on a timer. Come inside." He lead Athos into the flat, and got a good look at him for the first time. If Athos had looked tired earlier in the day, now he looked dead on his feet, and there was a smudge of dirt across his cheek.
Athos nodded wearily. "Rough night," was all he said, making it clear he didn't want to expand on it.
Porthos frowned. It had occurred to him once, lying awake in the small hours, that if Athos hadn't been looking right at Charon's window at that one particular moment, or made the split second decision to come in after him, it could easily have been his charred corpse that Athos pulled out of the building. And then wondered how often that kind of thing happened during the course of his job.
"You must see a lot of crap in your line of work."
"You could say that." There was a heaviness behind Athos' eyes that hadn't been there before, and Porthos resisted the urge to pull him into another hug. They were standing just inside the door, still close together and it would have been easy, but he wasn't yet confident that it would be welcomed.
"Is everyone alright?" Porthos asked, suddenly anxious. It would be too cruel if another member of the team had been hurt so soon after d'Artagnan. But Athos nodded.
"The crew, yes, they're okay." Leaving the implication hanging that maybe there were others less fortunate, and Porthos frowned.
"They should give you counsellors to talk to about this stuff," he said.
Athos shrugged. "They're available, if you so choose."
"Let me guess, you prefer to self-medicate with alcohol?"
"I didn't come here to be criticised," Athos protested, but while his voice was tired, his eyes were amused rather than defensive. Porthos speculatively reached out and smoothed a stray lock of Athos' hair back from his face. Athos didn't flinch.
"What did you come here for then?" Porthos murmured, closing the gap between them and smiling suggestively.
"Someone promised me pizza."
"I'd better put the oven on then, eh?" Porthos made no move to do so, still standing in front of Athos, gazing intently into his eyes. Athos held his gaze, and for a second they just looked at each other.
The kiss was sudden, and passionate. In the end it was Athos who kissed him, although Porthos was already leaning forward to meet him. Their mouths came together with warm intent, lips already parting in anticipation and they pressed together, all pretence at restraint gone.
There was no space to think, to worry, to breathe. Porthos was hard in seconds, taken too much by surprise to give a thought to controlling his body's reactions, and was fairly sure Athos was just as hard.
When they finally broke off, panting and both a little stunned, Porthos left his arms around Athos, keeping him close.
"Maybe we should skip the pizza," Porthos murmured against Athos' mouth, as he kissed him again, savouring the moment.
"Are you kidding? I haven't eaten for hours," Athos objected with a smile, kissing him back without hesitation.
Porthos took him by the hand, leading him over to the kitchenette and turning the oven on, fetching out pizza from the freezer and plates from the cupboard all with one hand.
Athos gave a quiet laugh. "You know, you could do all that a lot more easily if you let me go."
"No chance. You might run away," Porthos grinned.
"I promise I won't. I'm too tired to run anywhere," Athos sighed.
Porthos immediately slipped his arms around Athos' waist and kissed him again, still marvelling at the fact Athos was letting him. "Would you like a drink?"
"Wouldn't say no."
"Red wine okay?"
Porthos took a bottle out of the cupboard and fetched two glasses. He'd bought it against what had at the time been the remote possibility of Athos ever being convinced to come round, and now was glad he had. Not knowing what Athos liked, he'd taken Aramis' joking suggestion of claret at face value and bought that - paying far more than he would have for himself, but staring blankly at the range of Bordeaux wines on offer and still having no idea if it was good enough.
In any case Athos accepted it gratefully and took two large swallows before leaning back against the counter with a sigh.
"Better?" Porthos smiled, and he nodded.
"Thank you," Athos said softly. "For everything."
Porthos drew him in for another kiss, deciding he might as well take advantage of it while Athos was in an amenable mood. Athos leaned against him afterwards and Porthos held him close, feeling vaguely guilty that this was obviously less about Athos being in a good mood than feeling low and vulnerable. He took comfort from the fact that it was hopefully helping, and that Athos was quite capable of telling him to stop if he changed his mind.
They ate the pizza sitting side by side on the sofa, and finished the wine between them. Afterwards, Porthos put an arm around Athos' shoulders and settled them more snugly together.
Athos watched him in silence, and didn't object when Porthos leaned in to kiss him once more.
"Is this okay?" Porthos whispered, even though by now Athos' arms were round his neck, and there were soft lips against his throat.
"Yes," Athos breathed, and it was enough.
They kissed for a long time, equally fierce and gentle, eager and slow. They ended up tangled together lying flat on the couch, the fact they were fully dressed doing nothing to disguise the fact they were fully aroused.
Porthos took a chance. "Did you want to go to bed?" he offered softly, kissing Athos beneath the ear and biting him gently on the ear lobe.
"I should really go home," Athos sighed, looking at the clock.
"Well you've drunk too much to drive anywhere," Porthos pointed out. "Stay?"
"It's not fair on you."
"How'd you work that out?"
"Because I can't tell if I'm - if I'm only here because I've had a bad night," Athos confessed.
"Athos. If you want to use me? To forget for a while? I don't mind." Porthos took his hands, looking seriously into his eyes. "We're both adults. I want this. And if you do too then - where's the harm?"
Athos finally nodded, and whispered his surrender. "Alright. Yes. Yes."