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.
"I want a word with you," Charon said brusquely, pushing past Porthos without waiting for an invitation and marching into the flat.
Porthos followed him, looking wary.
"I had an unscheduled encounter with the filth this morning," Charon announced, hauling himself up to sit on the table. Porthos experienced a stab of resentment. That was Athos' accustomed place to perch, he'd sit there and watch Porthos cooking. Maybe he never would again, Porthos thought sadly, then shook himself.
"What did they want?" he asked, trying to look concerned. Charon shook his head slowly.
"Porthos, Porthos. What have I always said? Your poker face is shit, mate." He steepled his fingers and stared across them. "Now, thing is, there's only one person who knew about my involvement in this little affair. And I've established it weren't her that grassed me up."
"If you've laid one finger on Flea - "
Charon dismissed his anger with a disdainful curl of the lip. "Are you kidding? She'd have your arm off. Nah, I'm just saying, she knows which side her bread is buttered, yeah?" He rubbed finger and thumb together in a cash gesture. "I'm rolling in it these days."
"You're full of it you mean," growled Porthos.
"Now now." Charon was eyeing him with a gleam of amusement and Porthos felt unsettled, sensing that Charon was somehow playing with him.
"One thing she did let slip, was that she'd had a little chat with you," Charon continued speculatively, watching Porthos intently for his reaction.
"So - what, you think I went to the police?" Porthos demanded. "I've not spoken to them Charon, not a word, I swear." Silently grateful that he didn't have to lie about that at least. "I wouldn't do that, not to you."
Charon let him sweat for a second, then gave him a smile that didn't reach his eyes. "Nah. It's alright. I believe you."
Porthos relaxed a fraction. "You do?" He couldn't help the note of surprise that crept in, but Charon waved it away.
"I know you didn't." He looked serious for a second. "I've got powerful friends these days Porthos. In some very high places."
"You're nothing but a pawn," Porthos retorted.
Charon was unmoved. "Maybe, but it's in a bigger game than you realise. And I know when and how to lean back on people. Got them to do a bit of digging for me. So yeah, I know it wasn't you. Tip off came from the Fire Service, so I'm told."
Porthos tried to look surprised. "Oh? Well you still seem to be at liberty."
Charon snorted. "They've got fuck all evidence, have they? My word against theirs, right? Except - afterwards I got to wondering how the fuck they suspected me in the first place, if there was no evidence. I covered my tracks pretty well, I know that. So I do a bit more digging of my own. And you know what I discover? That my old mate Porthos is currently fucking a fireman. Now ain't that a coincidence?"
Charon's voice had hardened, and he glared at Porthos with a certain poisonous anger, although his tone was still deceptively light. "What was it, bit of pillow talk? Trying to impress him? I'm disappointed in you Porthos, turning your back on your old friends like this."
"I tried to protect you!"
"Really? Protesting my innocence while you sucked him off were you?" sneered Charon. "What turned your head Porthos? What's he got that's so beguiling? Big cock? Big house? Enormous sense of his own self-importance?" Charon smirked. "Does he get you to polish his helmet?"
"People could have died, Charon." Porthos shouted. "Did you once stop to think about that?"
"Why should I care? None of them ever did anything for me," Charon shrugged.
"And me? What about me?" Porthos stared at him with a hurt expression.
Charon sighed. "You were meant to get out. Not my fault if you were too fucking stupid to hear the alarms," he muttered, then his face hardened again. "And it doesn't mean I owe you anything."
"Why are you even here Charon?" Porthos groaned. "What do you want from me?"
"I want you to consider this a warning," Charon declared, getting off the table and shoving his hands in his pockets. "To stay out of my affairs. I'll let you off this time, for old times' sake, but you interfere again - well, let's just say I don't like people who cross me."
He fixed Porthos with a steady cold gaze, and walked out the door.
Porthos sank slowly into a chair, feeling breathless. There'd always been an edge of menace to Charon, but this was the first time he'd ever felt it turned against him. Porthos somehow felt after everything he'd done for Charon he should have felt more of a sense of betrayal, but in reality there was only relief. It was over. Done with. Now he could make up with Athos and they would move on, and if the price was Athos wanting him to testify against Charon then fuck it, he would. He'd given his friend every chance and had it thrown back at him.
Porthos suppressed a shiver. He was glad after all that Athos hadn't been here, and hoped Charon hadn't taken note of the name Porthos had blurted on the doorstep. Because Athos had been the one who'd gone to the police, and the malice in Charon's eyes as he'd walked out had been chilling.
Replaying the conversation over and over in his head, Porthos gradually realised that something Charon had said was jarring, nagging at him. What's he got that's so beguiling? Big cock? Big house?
Porthos froze. At no point had Charon given the impression he knew who Athos was, in which case how did he know he lived in a big house? Just a throw away line? But it was hardly the first thing you associated with firemen. Porthos knew Aramis lived in a flat not much bigger than his, and d'Artagnan still lived with his parents. So how would Charon know what kind of house Athos lived in?
Unless he'd seen it?
Porthos went hot and cold all over. Charon had hinted at contacts inside the police. If that was the case, he could easily have got hold of Athos' details.
He grabbed his phone, was dialling Athos' number before he'd even thought about what he was doing. It was an over-reaction, Porthos told himself. Coincidence. Athos would be fine.
But he wasn't answering.
Porthos hung up in frustration, wondering what to do. He looked at the clock. Assuming Athos was on the same shift tonight, he wouldn't be at work yet. Porthos wanted to go out there, but he had no car and no idea how many buses it would take to get there.
He picked up his phone again. There was somebody else he could try.
Aramis answered just as Porthos was about to give up, and sounded polite but wary. Porthos wondered how much Athos had told him.
"Aramis! It's um, it's Porthos. I don't suppose Athos is with you is he?"
There was a hesitation on the line before Aramis answered. "No. We're not due on shift yet. What's up?"
"I tried to call him and he's not answering. Look, this is going to sound odd but - would you call him? It might just be that he's not answering for me. I just - need to know he's okay."
Aramis sighed. "Look, Porthos, I like you, but whatever you and Athos have fallen out about, I'm not getting involved and I am absolutely not running messages."
So Athos hadn't told him. The fact that even after everything that had happened Athos was apparently keeping his promise to keep Porthos' name out of things made him feel more guilty and miserable than ever. But right now there was a more pressing matter.
"No, Aramis, wait, don't hang up. I didn't mean it like that. I mean - I genuinely need to know if he's okay. I don't mean whether he's crying into his beer, I mean he might be in danger."
There was a startled silence. "What do you mean - "
"Aramis please!" Porthos interrupted, begging now. "Just call him for me?"
Aramis sighed. "Oh alright. Hang on." He hung up, and Porthos spent the longest couple of minutes of his life just staring at the phone. Even so he still jumped when it rang, and he snatched it up, willing the display to read Athos, even if he was only calling to tell him to fuck off. But it was Aramis.
"Alright, what the hell did you mean he might be in danger?" Aramis demanded, wading straight in without even a hello.
He sounded tenser than he had before, and Porthos knew the answer even before he asked, "Did he answer?"
"No, it's just ringing out, and that's not like him. So what the fuck did you mean?"
Porthos screwed his eyes shut and sighed. "The person who torched the Court and the Mill might be going after him."
"And you know this how?"
"Because I know who did it. And I think he knows it was Athos who reported him."
Aramis hissed through his teeth. "So you're where he got the info from. I did wonder. What the fuck are you mixed up in Porthos?"
"Something I keep asking myself. Look, I don't suppose you could go out and - well, check on him could you?"
Aramis came to a decision. "You at home? We're not far from you, I'll pick you up on the way past. Be outside in a couple of minutes." He hung up before Porthos could object.
Sure enough a few minutes later Aramis pulled up in front of his gate, and the question of who 'we' was, was answered when he found d'Artagnan in the front passenger seat.
Porthos clambered awkwardly into the back and leaned forward between the seats. D'Artagnan immediately slapped him round the head and he yelped.
"What was that for?"
"Making Athos miserable." D'Artagnan glared at him. "Saw him this morning and he was like a bear with a sore head. What have you gone and done?"
Porthos sighed. "Fucked up. Majorly. And I deserve everything I get, but if this rebounds on Athos - " he broke off, hardly wanting to contemplate it. "I'll never forgive myself."
"Oh cheer up, he's probably just too pissed to work his phone." Aramis rolled his eyes and put his foot down, and Porthos was flung back against the seat as they accelerated.
"Hold onto something," d'Artagnan advised. "He drives like a maniac even when he's not in a hurry."
"I heard that," Aramis complained. "Shut your cakehole or I'll let Porthos sit in the front instead."
"Could you maybe face the road for a bit?" d'Artagnan shot back. "Or at this rate it'll be Athos rescuing us."
Porthos fumbled for the seatbelt and kept quiet. As far as he was concerned, Aramis couldn’t get them there fast enough.