Summary: Written for evilmaniclaugh's prompt "Athos discovers that Porthos actually was a pirate for a while. He finds the idea overwhelmingly sexy."
Athos was hunting through the sea chest in the corner of Porthos' room when he found the Spanish gold. It hadn't been the object of his search, he had recently mislaid his spyglass, and rather than pay out money he could ill-afford on another, Porthos had declared he had an old but perfectly usable spare which Athos was welcome to.
Once off duty they'd returned to his lodgings together, and Porthos had invited him to look for it while he laid a fire in the grate. Lifting out various objects that Porthos had accumulated over the years, one such had been a carved wooden box that Athos had set carefully on the edge, only to promptly knock it off with the hilt of his sword as he leaned back into the chest.
The lid flew off and the unexpected glint of gold spilled across the floor.
Athos quickly swept the pile of coins up into his gloved palm and returned them to the box. While their purses were all equally at each other's disposal when it came to the expenses of everyday living, any hoarded wealth of his friend and occasional lover was none of his business. But then he took a closer look at one of the coins and frowned in surprise to find it was of Spanish origin.
While a coin or two could be acquired easily enough, there were few sources of such a quantity, and even fewer legitimate. If it had been anyone else he would have assumed bribes or worse. But this was Porthos, and he merely looked up at him in surprise.
Porthos was watching him with a strange sort of hesitancy on his face, clearly wondering what Athos was going to make of it.
When Porthos ventured no explanation, Athos returned the box to the chest without comment and resumed looking for the spyglass. If Porthos wanted to tell him he would, and if he didn't - well, Athos had kept plenty of secrets of his own. A burning curiosity didn't equal the right to know something, and he trusted Porthos enough to be assured there was no sinister explanation for it.
His hand finally closed around a tubular leather case and he drew it out with an exclamation of satisfaction.
Porthos had walked over to him, still with a troubled expression.
"Everyone needs a nest-egg," he muttered, as Athos returned everything else to the chest and closed the lid.
"Indeed." Athos stood up and opened the case, sliding the spyglass out into his hand and examining it. While the case was battered, the instrument itself was in good condition, and he nodded his thanks. "This is very kind of you."
Porthos visibly relaxed a little. "You're welcome to it. Glad to help."
"Were you at sea then? I didn't know."
Athos had only made it as a passing comment, but Porthos froze and stared at him almost angrily, as if he'd been caught out in something.
"What's that supposed to mean?"
Athos looked at him, taken aback. "I only meant - that's a typical seaman's chest. I've never really taken any notice of it before. I wondered if you'd been to sea, or just picked it up somewhere else. That's all?" There was a note of apology to his words, and Porthos sighed.
"Sorry. I didn't mean to bite your head off." He occupied himself with removing his swordbelt and accoutrements, and finally made his mind up. "I was at sea for two years. Before I became a Musketeer."
"You've never said." Athos removed his gloves and set his own weapons down with Porthos', unbuttoning his top coat as the fire began to warm the room. "Navy?"
"Something like that." Porthos huffed uncomfortably under Athos' enquiring gaze. "Look, it's not a period of my life I'm particularly proud of, alright?"
Athos, who normally affected an entirely disinterested facade, looked more inquisitive than ever, although was clearly too polite to ask outright. Porthos gave in.
"I was a pirate, okay?"
Athos stared at him. "A pirate?" he echoed. "You."
"Yeah." Porthos fidgeted nervously, wondering how Athos would react. Athos' good opinion of him meant more than he liked to admit, and this could hardly be welcome information.
"Does Treville know?" Athos asked.
"Course he does."
"He's never said anything."
"He never said you were a bleeding count for that matter, but I bet he knew that an' all."
Athos conceded the point with a slight smile. "How did you become a pirate?" he persisted, and to Porthos' surprised relief he sounded amused rather than disgusted.
Porthos shrugged. "How do all really awful decisions come about? Fell into bad company in a harbour tavern. Was offered a position on a ship. By the time I realised what manner of ship it was, we were a long way from shore, and it was join them or get me throat cut."
He shrugged again, defensively. "It wasn't like I was a stranger to fighting or thieving," Porthos muttered.
Athos came closer, stepping quietly and deliberately into his personal space, and Porthos relaxed again, sliding his arms around Athos' waist.
"I was looking for brotherhood, I think," Porthos continued in a lower voice. "And there was a strong bond between the crew. But killing for money lost its appeal pretty quickly, and after two years I came ashore again. Searching for a better life."
"With a box of Spanish gold as a souvenir?" Athos teased.
"I had a lot more at first," Porthos admitted. "Gambled most of it away."
Athos' frown was eloquent, and Porthos sighed. "I know. I know. I managed to stop while I still had some left. Figured one day, maybe, I'd be old and I'd need it. Made myself a promise I'd never touch it and I haven't."
"I've heard people call you Porthos the Pirate," Athos said, again with that hitch of his lips that in anyone else would have been helpless laughter. "I just thought it was a nickname." He lifted his hand, touching first Porthos' earring then his bandana with light fingers, before tracing the line of the scar over his eye.
Normally a man in constant motion, the touch of Athos' fingers on his skin was always enough to still him and Porthos allowed the gentle exploration with a smile.
"Is that when you got this?" Athos asked. He'd heard many conflicting tales of how Porthos had come by the scar and had always wondered which was true.
Porthos fixed him with a look. "You're not about to ask me if I had an eyepatch are you?"
"Did you?" Athos asked immediately, looking amused.
"Only for a couple of weeks," Porthos conceded, and nudged Athos in resigned protest at the expression of delight this prompted. "My face was weeping pus, trust me it wasn't a sexy look."
"I'm sorry. I'm not laughing at you." Athos smiled at him. "I'm just enjoying the image of you swinging from the rigging with a sword between your teeth."
Porthos snorted. "Knew a man who tried that once, nearly cut his own head off."
Athos wrapped his arms around Porthos' neck with a smile, and Porthos held him close with a sense of mild surprise. It normally took at least two bottles of wine to coax Athos into his bed, but if he didn't know better he'd have said the look on Athos' face right now was one of unadulterated lust.
"I thought you'd have disapproved," Porthos murmured, lowering his face until his lips were just brushing Athos' mouth. "Piracy's hardly a bastion of honour and decency."
"Well, I'm not saying I'd condone it as a way of life," Athos replied, his eyes fluttering closed as Porthos' lips travelled across his cheek. "But I'd be lying if I said the image didn't hold a certain appeal."
Porthos grinned. "Are you saying it's a turn on?"
"Well, I wouldn't go that far," Athos drawled, but he didn't protest at the hand now groping between his legs.
"Liar." Porthos smirked. "You're hard as hell."
"Are you sure that's not just the spyglass?"
Porthos burst out laughing and tackled Athos round the waist, swinging him bodily onto the bed. "You want me," he declared, climbing up after him and straddling Athos' thighs.
"Maybe," Athos conceded, smiling.
Sprawled on his back, at this angle there was no way Athos could deny his obvious erection, and Porthos fondled him through his breeches. "Definitely."
Athos stroked a hand up Porthos' leg, and Porthos bent over to kiss him again.
"I'd - prefer it if nobody else got to know about it," Porthos murmured a little hesitantly. "The fact I really was a pirate, I mean. It could be awkward."
"My lips are sealed," Athos promised, drawing Porthos down into his arms. "You know that."
Porthos nodded gratefully, kissing him with a slow pleasure. He might not want the wider world knowing about his past, but Porthos found it was a weight off his heart to have told Athos, and not been diminished in his eyes.
Far from it in fact, if the eagerness with which Athos was responding to his kisses was any measure, and as Porthos stripped them both of their clothes he reflected with a smile that perhaps there were still certain advantages to be gleaned from his previous life after all.