Pairings: established Athos/Porthos
Summary: Set mid-episode four [Emilie]. d'Artagnan brings a steamingly drunk and miserable Athos back to the garrison. Porthos has to deal with him.
When he saw them stagger in under the arch, Porthos' first horrified thought was that Athos was injured. His arm was draped over d'Artagnan's shoulder with the young man supporting him and clearly taking most of his weight, and Athos' head was lolling as he dragged his feet through the dirt.
As they came closer Porthos could see he was only drunk, and while the immediate panic subsided, his heart sank in other ways. There'd been a time when this sight had been a regular occurrence, but not recently. For months, Athos had seemingly had his drinking under control for the first time in all the years Porthos had known him.
When Milady had first unexpectedly dropped back into their lives, he'd been braced for Athos to immediately backslide into old habits, but he hadn't, and Porthos had been so fiercely proud of him. But now it seemed something had happened to send him crashing back months in his recovery.
D'Artagnan guided Athos over and helped him slump onto the bench Porthos had just vacated.
"What the hell do you think you're playing at?" Porthos demanded in an angry whisper. This close, he could tell d'Artagnan was almost as drunk as Athos, and was suddenly furious at the thought d'Artagnan might have had a careless hand in this. "Did you get him drunk?"
D'Artagnan held up a placating hand, although he stepped back a pace involuntarily. An enraged Porthos was liable to punch first and not bother asking questions later.
"He got himself drunk. I just happened to think it was better to join him than abandon him to do it alone."
Porthos grunted. "What happened?" He cast a look at Athos, who was sprawled forward over the table with his head on his arms.
"Milady." D'Artagnan sighed. "She's managed to weasel her way into the King's affections, and has taken up residence in the palace as his mistress."
"What? How do you know that?" Porthos sighed inwardly. He should have guessed. Who else could make Athos tear himself to pieces like this?
"Constance told me. Athos overheard us talking." D'Artagnan looked shamefaced. "I'm sorry. I probably should have tried to stop him. Or come for you."
Porthos shook his head tiredly and patted him on the shoulder. "Nah. Once Athos sets his course at the rocks, there's no one can steer him away again, I've learnt that much. You did right to stay with him." He went over to Athos and shook him gently.
"Athos? Come on now. Let's get you to bed."
Athos looked up blearily, and half winced when he caught sight of Porthos, nebulous feelings of guilt overriding the haze of drink. "'m sorry," he mumbled, but Porthos shook his head.
"It's alright. Come on, let's be having you," he coaxed, and helped Athos to his feet.
"Is there anything I can do?" d'Artagnan offered.
"No, thanks, you've done enough," Porthos muttered rather unfairly, and slid a protective arm around Athos' waist.
"Don't blame him," Athos protested quietly, head resting on Porthos' shoulder. "You're angry with me, don't take it out on d'Artagnan."
"I'm not - " Porthos broke off. He was angry, although more with the situation than anyone in particular. Trust Athos to have picked up on it, regardless of how mild Porthos had kept his words. "Come on, you."
He guided Athos to the room they customarily shared when staying at the garrison, and once the door was firmly locked behind them he lowered Athos onto one of the cot beds and shoved the second across the floor with a practised movement, until it met up with the first.
Athos was face down, gripping the rough blanket weakly and groaning.
"You going to be sick?" Porthos growled suspiciously, yanking off his boots and then pulling off Athos' rather more carefully.
"Not if you can make the bed stop moving," Athos muttered.
Porthos snorted and climbed up behind him, settling as comfortably as he could before pulling Athos back against him and holding him tight. Athos immediately relaxed, and Porthos buried his face in Athos' hair and sighed. They'd been here so many times before, and he'd truly started to believe they'd turned the corner.
"Better?" he murmured.
Athos managed a nod, and his fingers came to rest over one of Porthos' hands. Porthos could feel they were shaking.
"And you were doing so well," Porthos sighed.
"Do you know?" Athos asked, in a low, miserable voice. "Did d'Artagnan tell you?"
"About her? Yeah." Porthos hugged him. "I'm sorry."
Athos shook his head convulsively. "I don't care. I don't care what she does," he said with sudden vehemence. "She can do whatever the hell she likes - whoever the hell she likes. I don't care!"
He twisted in Porthos' arms until he was facing him, and there were tear-tracks on his face. "Why do I care?" he added brokenly.
Porthos gave him a sad smile. "Because you love her."
"No!" Athos shook his head again, clutching at Porthos' shirt in distress. "No you can't think that."
Porthos covered Athos' hand with his and patted it. "I didn't say you were in love with her," he clarified. "But you loved her once. That doesn't just go away." He smiled at him, and kissed Athos lightly on the mouth.
"I still love Flea, in a way," Porthos said quietly, after a moment. "I always will. It doesn't mean I want to be with her, or that we're right for each other. And you'll never stop caring about Milady. And - I don't require it of you, either. And I don't need you to hide it from me." He pulled Athos closer until he was wrapped in his arms again, and kissed him. "I'm here for you," he whispered. "I always will be."
"I'm sorry," Athos sighed tiredly. "You've been so patient with me, and here I am undoing everything."
Porthos shook his head. "You've done it once, you can do it again. We can do it again. As many times as we need to."
"It felt - good," Athos whispered guiltily. "For a while it didn't hurt. Nothing hurt. I've missed that."
Porthos kissed him again then, on the forehead, the nose, the mouth. "Tell me in the morning it doesn't hurt," he snorted. "Tell me then how much you like it, when you're bent over the horse trough and moaning fit to die."
Athos managed a small smile, relieved that Porthos wasn't angry with him. "I love you," he whispered. "And for the record, I'm in love with you," he added, and Porthos grinned broadly at him.
"So I should think."