Pairings: Aramis/Porthos, Aramis/Porthos/Athos, mention of past Athos/Milady de Winter
Summary: When Aramis and Porthos invite Athos to join them it doesn't go well - but maybe they can still manage to work out between them what might work better.
A/N: I prompted this as "Athos doesn't particularly want to have sex. But he does like to watch..." on the kinkmeme months back, but despite two people offering to fill it, no one ever did. So I wrote it myself. I'm not entirely sure what I was aiming for, or whether I achieved it, or even if I like it, but it is at least finished after having started it in July, so I might as well inflict it on everyone else.
The day Athos walked in on them, it had almost come as a relief. For months, Aramis and Porthos had been torn over whether to share the secret of their burgeoning relationship, afraid that at best it would upset the balance of things, and at worst Athos might abandon them completely. At the same time, keeping it from him had weighed heavily on them and they hardly knew what to do for the best.
But now the matter was out of their hands. Athos was standing in the doorway with a stunned look on his face, and no amount of explanations in the world could wave away the picture they must have presented, kissing each other as if their lives depended on it.
Aramis removed his hand slowly from the folds of Porthos' shirt and cleared his throat, waiting sheepishly for the explosion. It didn't come.
"Well. That explains - " Athos let the quiet thought trail off, as if he had no more idea what to say than they did.
"We were going to tell you," Aramis said apologetically, taking heart from the fact Athos had voiced no immediate disgust or censure. "We just - didn't know how."
Porthos gave Athos a hesitant smile. "Don't hate us for it?" he pleaded softly. Athos looked startled.
"Hate you!" His hand drifted to his throat, fingers twisting into his scarf. "I - I could never - " he faltered again, dropping his gaze. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to interrupt," he muttered, heat rising in his face as he turned to leave.
"Don't go!" Aramis and Porthos spoke together and exchanged a surprised glance, relieved to find their instincts were the same.
Athos hesitated in the doorway. "You can hardly want me to stay," he said quietly, but there was a faint smile on his lips that said he appreciated the sentiment. "It's fine," he promised. "We're fine. Honestly."
And fine seemed a poor and meagre word to leave things on, but Athos had slipped out of the door and closed it behind him.
To their relief, things after that continued much as they had before. Athos appeared wholly genuine in his repeated averral that he had no problem with their relationship, and their initial fears that he might avoid them or become distant proved unfounded.
Concerned that Athos might feel left out, Aramis and Porthos, both singly and together, made sure to seek him out in their downtime as often as possible until one day, in pursuit of a single moment's solitude, Athos rounded on them in amused frustration and chased them out of his lodgings with a broom.
"I am entirely content with my own company," he explained later that evening, having shown up unexpectedly at Aramis' rooms with a bottle of good wine and an unapologetic smile. "I swear I have seen more of you two in the last fortnight than in the last six months combined."
He leaned back in his chair and offered them a smile. "I understand what you're doing, and I appreciate the thought," he murmured. "But you don't have to. Not on my account. I am not yet so jaded a man that I begrudge my friends' happiness."
"It's a rare man indeed who would not condemn us for what we're doing," Aramis noted, raising his glass to Athos in salute.
Athos shook his head slowly. "The people we are, the things we've lived through, each of us. It can be hard for others to comprehend," he mused. "Taking a lover who shares your world, who understands you? It makes sense. How can it not?"
"Wouldn't make sense to a lot of people," Porthos pointed out, taking hold of Aramis' hand. "And you know it. Shut up and let us thank you."
Athos conceded the point, smiling into his glass. "As you wish."
They relaxed, after that, into their old routines. Aramis and Porthos tried to remain largely discreet, but soon found that being able to be openly affectionate with each other in front of Athos lifted a strain from them they hadn't quite realised was there. Censoring their every word and look had been unconsciously tiring, and they valued their newfound freedom with a grateful appreciation.
Athos, for his part, found an uncomplicated pleasure in seeing them together, and in the way they cherished each other. He felt no jealousy for the simple fact it never occurred to him that anyone should want him, and his ingrained wariness of women meant it seemed simply sensible that the two men should have chosen each other.
Aramis and Porthos though, did not forget Athos' words about being with someone who understood you, and occasionally returned to them in times of quiet contemplation, skirting round an idea that neither quite liked to yet give voice to.
While they had chosen each other, luck and circumstance, not to mention a considerable amount of alcohol, had had a lot to do with their first coming together, and their tight-knit, three-way friendship meant that had things worked out differently that night, both Aramis and Porthos saw it as entirely feasible that either of them could have ended up with Athos instead.
Whether Athos would or would not have been up for this, and if so with which of them, was the subject of a certain amount of late-night, brandy-fuelled speculation.
The part that so far, neither of them had had the courage to suggest to the other, was the recurring and secretly arousing idea that they could possibly invite him to join them.
It was some months later that the opportunity finally arose. The three of them had spent the evening together in Porthos' lodgings, and were slumped comfortably in front of the fire, while a wild night raged outside.
Athos, seated between them, finally yawned and stretched, and attempted with some difficulty to sit up. "I suppose I'd better be on my way," he said, "Let you get to your bed."
"You could always stay," Porthos murmured, settled against his shoulder and loathe to lose his warm presence. He flicked a speculative look over to Aramis, who was already looking back at him with an amused interest in what Athos' response would be.
Athos gave a low laugh. "I hardly think you'd appreciate me being in the way."
"You wouldn't be." Porthos leaned closer. "Listen to it out there, it's horrible. You'd get soaked. Stay here instead."
Athos looked round at Aramis, uncertain as to exactly what Porthos was implying. He was draped all over him and murmuring suggestively in his ear, but then he was also drunk and sleepy and this didn't necessarily mean anything.
"You could join us," Aramis clarified, seeing that Athos was confused. "In bed. If you wanted?"
Athos looked startled. "Join you? What - I mean - why would you want - " he broke off and cleared his throat. "I don't think I could offer you anything you don't already have," he said with a slightly rueful smile.
"Don't undervalue yourself," Porthos muttered, and Athos wasn't terribly surprised to feel a hand moving up his thigh. Although he was when he looked down and found it belonged to Aramis.
"I appear to have fallen into a conspiracy," Athos smiled, flattered by their attentions but not really taking them seriously.
"Nah." Porthos grinned at him. "If we'd actually planned to seduce you tonight, we'd have got you a lot drunker."
Athos could feel himself blushing, and was also aware that the longer he sat here without trying to leave, the more it looked like he was accepting their offer. Which he wasn't. Was he? He reached for his glass to cover his confusion, relieved there was still a mouthful of wine left.
"Say yes," Aramis coaxed, sensing that Athos was wavering. "We don't bite."
"What would - what would you expect of me?" Athos asked warily.
"Nothing you weren't willing to give," Aramis reassured him.
Porthos nodded. "You wouldn't have to do anything you didn't want to. I promise." His breath was warm against Athos' neck, and when Athos turned his head automatically to look at him, Porthos kissed him on the mouth.
It wasn't a hard or demanding kiss, just a warm press of lips, but it sent a jolt of something through Athos that made his breath catch in his throat.
"Come to bed," Porthos whispered, a lazy smile on his lips barely inches away, his eyes heavy lidded and gentle. Despite his friends' urging, there was nothing demanding or expectant in their manner, and Athos found himself more tempted than he'd thought possible.
To leave this cosy haven for the cold rain and wind outside was in itself unappealing, and the allure of a warm bed and warmer arms was a strong one.
"I - alright," Athos heard himself say, and was drawn up out of his seat by delighted and willing hands.
To his relief they made no attempt to undress him, but allowed him to disrobe at his own pace. By this time both Aramis and Porthos were naked in the bed, and with a mixture of anticipation and nerves, Athos climbed in beside them.
"What would you like?" Aramis asked solicitously. "To fuck one of us?" Athos' eyes were wide and rather alarmed, and Aramis smiled. "Or something less dramatic," he finished. "Why don’t we start with something simple?"
He leaned across and kissed Athos carefully on the mouth. After a second, Athos started to kiss him back, and Aramis drew him into his arms, deepening the kiss. Porthos settled against Athos' back, winding his arms around him and pressing kisses to his shoulders.
Athos turned a little and Porthos kissed him in turn, slow and deep, delighting in this new aspect to their relationship.
"This okay?" Porthos asked quietly, when Athos had kissed them both, and was sitting curled between them looking a little more relaxed. Athos was half hard, and trying not to look like he was intentionally covering himself with his hands.
Both Porthos and Aramis were fully erect, had been since Athos had first agreed to this, and both quite unashamed of the fact.
Athos nodded, and Porthos beamed at him. "Tell us what you'd like. Or show us? We're quite up for anything."
Athos, while covering his own shame, had been looking them both over with shy pleasure and a certain amount of arousal. "Can I touch you?" he asked under his breath.
"Of course." Aramis licked his lips. "Anywhere you like," he added, making Porthos laugh.
Hesitantly, Athos reached out and curled his fingers around Aramis' cock. Aramis gave a quiet sigh of pleasure, and Athos started stroking him, eyes flicking up to see if it was acceptable. He found it curious, touching another man in this way, and a rather detached part of his mind was interested in the sensations. At the same time he was getting harder himself, although when Aramis reached down to try and return the favour, Athos discreetly blocked him with his arm and leaned forward to kiss him instead.
Whether due to the novelty of it or the fact that Athos was a fast learner with a determined wrist, Aramis came in remarkably short space of time, groaning his approval loudly as he spent all over his stomach.
Once he was cleaned up, Aramis beamed at Athos with a satisfied goodwill. "Would you like me to suck you?" he offered hopefully.
Athos though, shook his head. "Suck Porthos, he must be feeling left out," he smiled.
Porthos, who'd been quite happy watching Athos bring Aramis to a climax, was even more happy to agree to this, and lay back to allow Aramis to kneel between his legs.
Athos watched proceedings intently, and Porthos, catching his scrutiny, reached out a hand towards him. Athos though, captured his fingers and wrapped Porthos' hand in his before he could take hold of Athos' cock, kissing his knuckles absently.
When Porthos had in turn spilled into Aramis' mouth and been licked clean with enthusiasm, they both turned their attention to Athos, who squirmed a little beneath their hands, moving bodily away from an attempt to touch his buttocks.
"Won't you let us make you come?" Aramis asked finally, when Athos had deflected several attempts on both their parts to take hold of him. Despite his wriggling he was clearly aroused, and Aramis wondered if his reluctance stemmed from a worry things would be taken too far. "Just with our hands?" he offered.
Athos sighed a little. "If you must," he muttered, and lay back against the pillows. Porthos put an arm round his shoulders and was relieved when Athos smiled up at him.
"Okay?" Porthos whispered. Athos nodded, although his expression was a little tight, and he felt tense against Porthos' side.
Aramis was already working him, a slick palm stroking Athos' cock with a smooth, firm rhythm, tight circle of his fingers working him in a way he knew could make Porthos come in a couple of minutes when he was in the right mood.
Maybe Athos wasn’t, or maybe he liked it differently, because some time went by and while Athos was still hard, he hadn’t come. Aramis tried it faster, then more gently, until his arm was beginning to ache. Athos was making appreciative noises, but they were starting to sound a little forced, even to him.
"Aramis, leave it," Porthos said suddenly, and stretched out a hand to still Aramis' wrist.
"But he hasn't - " Aramis broke off. To stop now felt like he'd failed, and he was determined to get it right.
Athos though, had given Porthos an unmistakeable look of gratitude when he'd called time on it, and Porthos was certain he'd done the right thing. He'd felt Athos getting tenser and tenser in his arms, and it hadn't been the building tension of an approaching climax, but the stiffness of a man feeling increasingly awkward and uncomfortable.
"I'm sorry," Athos muttered, sitting up and drawing his knees up to hide his still erect cock. "It's not you. It really isn't." He looked round, finding Aramis looking baffled and a little hurt and Porthos looking concerned, and suddenly needed to escape.
"I need to use the - you know." He slid off the bed and grabbed his cloak, wrapping it around his naked body and slipping out of the door to brave the rain. He shut himself in the privvy, sitting down in some relief as his erection waned, and taking deep breaths.
Inside, Aramis was irritable. "Why did you stop me? He was almost there."
"No. He wasn't," said Porthos flatly. "Face it Aramis, we fucked up."
"What do you mean?" Aramis demanded, ready to take it personally given that he'd been the one trying and failing to bring Athos off.
"I mean we promised him he wouldn’t have to do anything he didn’t want to and promptly talked him into something he clearly didn't," Porthos shot back, keeping his voice low but becoming increasingly angry. It wasn’t with Aramis, but himself. He'd seen Athos wasn’t overly comfortable, but had thought they could settle him. No, he'd wanted to see him come. It had been selfish.
"What are you talking about? He said yes didn’t he?"
Porthos snorted. "I don’t know what the rest of your lovers sound like, but if it had been a woman who gave me a yes that unenthusiastic and reluctant, I'd have - " he sighed. "I dunno. Asked her again, at least." He rubbed his face and looked bleakly at Aramis. "We wanted him. We wanted him to want us. He was fending us off the whole time earlier, and we ignored it. You know we did."
Aramis stared at him, angry and indignant, mostly because he knew Porthos was right. Then he subsided with a groan and put his head in his hands. "What do we do?"
Before Porthos could answer, the door creaked open and Athos edged back in, his hair wet from the rain.
"I should - I should go," he said quietly. "I'm sorry, I didn’t mean to ruin this for you, but - it's obviously not meant to be."
"Don't go?" Porthos said. "Stay with us? Just to sleep, I mean. Please, Athos. Don’t go like this. We fucked up, let us make it up to you."
Athos hesitated, more relieved than he'd anticipated that they weren’t demanding he leave immediately. But if they thought they could still make this work, that might be just as awkward.
"I don't think I can be what you need me to be," he said carefully.
Porthos got off the bed and came over, taking his hands. "Then let us be what you need," he said sincerely. "Show us what that is."
Athos let himself be lead once more to the bed, and Porthos took the cloak from his shoulders.
"I'm sorry," Aramis said quietly. "I thought I knew what I was doing. I thought I was good enough to make you like it, and saying that out loud makes me realise how fucked up that is. I'm sorry."
Athos shook his head a little. "It's my fault. I knew it probably wouldn't work, I should have warned you. But I thought maybe - " he tailed off looking a little wistful, and Aramis hugged him instinctively, before pulling back and looking guilty.
"Sorry, I - should I not touch you?"
"No, it's okay," Athos said. "At least - "
"Hugging's allowed?" Porthos suggested, and Athos nodded gratefully. Porthos immediately wrapped him in a bear hug from behind and Athos almost laughed. The warmth and comfort of Porthos' body after the cold outhouse and moment of fear that he'd screwed everything up between them was the most welcome sensation he'd had all day.
Porthos planted a wet kiss on his bare shoulder and then froze. "Um - "
Athos twisted round to look at him. "Kissing's fine too," he said with a slight blush, and Porthos gave a sigh of relief.
Athos nodded. "It's rather nice," he confessed. Porthos immediately leaned in and kissed him on the mouth, slowly and lingeringly, and Athos sighed his appreciation.
When it was over, Athos turned to Aramis and held out a hand. Aramis took it, but hung back a little.
"If you'd prefer just Porthos - " he started, wondering if Athos' earlier failure to come had been a lack of attraction to him, but Athos shook his head.
"It's more that I don’t especially like being touched," Athos admitted, flushing scarlet but realising now that making things clearer made everyone more comfortable. "At least - I mean - "
"No touching below the belt?" Aramis clarified with a smile, leaning over for his kiss, and Athos nodded.
"I'm sorry if that sounds - weird."
Aramis shrugged. "I've heard weirder. I knew woman once, wouldn’t let me make love to her, but only wanted to smack me with a riding crop."
Porthos sniggered. "Was that sexual, or had you just pissed her off?"
"Hey!" Aramis lay down on the bed, holding Athos' hand and playing with his fingers. "I haven't told you what she did with the riding crop handle afterwards."
Athos made a face and Aramis laughed. "Sorry. Too much information?"
"Not enough, possibly. Tell me she didn’t stick it up your - "
"Oh god no." Aramis looked alarmed. "No, her, er, you know. Her - " he cleared his throat. "Um."
Athos took pity on him and smirked. "I was married you know. I do have a basic grasp of female anatomy."
"Yeah, however did that work for you?" Porthos asked.
"Porthos! You can't ask that!" Aramis choked.
"You know why not!" Aramis tried to convey with a look how bad an idea he thought probing into the intimate details of Athos' marriage was, given how it had ended.
"I am right here you know," Athos pointed out, although he was smiling. He was lying between them now, Porthos plastered against his back and Aramis massaging his hand, and it felt - nice. Safe, even. The question of sex having been dispensed with, he found somewhat to his surprise that he could relax, even with them all naked.
"It worked. In a way. I can’t really say more than that," he told Porthos. "I loved her. I could sustain an erection, at least. I could make her come without coming myself." Athos looked away. He'd been worried at the time that one day she would ask for a child and he wouldn’t be able to deliver. Now, he imagined she'd been grateful he couldn't.
Porthos was kissing down his arm, contrite at stirring memories best left alone.
"You've never liked sex, then?" Aramis asked after a while, unable to contain his curiosity now that Athos hadn't seemed averse to answering Porthos' questions.
Athos shrugged, considering how to put into words something he wasn’t entirely sure of himself. "I wouldn’t say that. I get aroused. I can make myself come. It's just - when someone else tries it makes me tense up. I don't especially enjoy it."
"You like comfort touching but not sexy touching?" Porthos suggested, nibbling his earlobe experimentally.
Athos blinked. "Yes, I suppose you could put it like that." It had never occurred to him it might be that simple. Or perhaps it had just never occurred to him he might meet someone willing to accept the idea, without immediately trying to fix him. There had been few people in his life willing to offer unconditional comfort.
"Do you think there's something wrong with me?" he asked quietly.
Porthos looked at him. "Do you?"
"Based on what everyone else seems to think - " Athos couldn't help glancing at Aramis. He knew how much Aramis loved sex, how sensual and physical he was. He couldn't see Aramis understanding how someone might not like it. He would surely assume Athos just hadn't met the right partner yet.
Aramis though, shook his head. "Screw everyone else. Or rather, don’t screw them," he amended with a lopsided smile. "Are you happy? I don’t mean are you relieved we've left you alone, I mean - are you happy without it? Because as far as I can see, that's the difference isn't it? Between looking for something you can't find, or being perfectly happy as you are. And if it's the latter then no, I don’t see there's anything wrong with you." He grinned. "I mean, I think it's peculiar, but by the same token I imagine you think I am."
"Well, quite." Athos' lips tugged up in a smile. "And that's not even related to the sex."
Aramis spluttered with laughter and slapped Athos on the leg.
They settled down to sleep, the three of them tucked snugly together in Porthos' bed, with Athos in the middle. They'd asked if he'd prefer to be on the outside but he'd said he was happy to stay where he was, and both Aramis and Porthos were touched by his trust in them.
The next day, although there was little awkwardness between them, when Aramis asked Athos if he would return with them for the evening, Athos politely refused.
Caught between not wanting to foist their company on him where it wasn't wanted, whilst suspecting that Athos was declining more because he thought he would make things complicated if he didn't want to participate, Aramis had let him escape before he'd decided what to say.
Porthos came over, having witnessed the conversation and Athos' subsequent departure from a distance.
"He thanked us, but claims a prior engagement," Aramis sighed.
"Did you believe him?"
"Not for a second."
Porthos was indignant. "Then why didn't you talk him round!"
Aramis gestured helplessly. "Because then I'd have been accusing him of lying. We can't force him to join us if he doesn't want to."
"I think he does, though," Porthos sighed. "In his own way. Don't you?"
"Yes. To be honest I do." Aramis nodded, and put his arm round Porthos as they made their way out of the gate. "But it's up to him."
A week passed, and another. Despite several further discreet invitations, Athos always found a reason to be somewhere else, until finally Porthos decided things had to be talked out, one way or the other.
He approached Athos when he was in a quiet corner of the courtyard, cleaning his weapons.
Athos nodded affably enough as he sat down, and Porthos was grateful that if nothing else they had at least managed to retain their friendship throughout all of this.
Porthos cleared his throat, and licked his lips, and studied his boots, and Athos looked sideways at him and smiled slightly.
"Aramis has already asked me, if I can save you the trouble. Regretfully, I cannot join you this evening." He continued cleaning his sword, and Porthos sighed.
"Would you rather we stopped asking?"
Athos hesitated. He'd rather assumed they would eventually stop of their own accord. He hadn't expected to have to make the decision himself.
"I can't - "
"We're not asking you to."
They looked at each other. Porthos tugged off his bandana and scrubbed his hands through his hair distractedly. "I thought - you seemed like you - enjoyed our company, at least?" he said, a little plaintively.
"You know I enjoy your company," Athos said immediately. "I hope I have never given you the impression otherwise. I was rather given to understand these invitations were - to join you in your bed."
"That doesn't mean you have to have sex with us," Porthos said quietly. "And maybe we've not made that clear enough." He glanced round, making sure they were quite alone. "Athos - what we've been trying to say is - we'd welcome your company. As often, or as infrequently as you need. Whether you want to join in or not. Even if you'd just prefer to watch. Or even it's just to spend the night sleeping between us."
Athos opened his mouth, then closed it again. "I, er. That's - "
"It's garbled, is what it is," Porthos said with a rueful laugh. "I don't know what to offer you, because I'm not really sure what it is you want. But I think you want something. Because the one thing I don't believe is that you're truly happy alone." He sighed. "Tell me I'm wrong and I'll leave you in peace. We both will."
"You're not wrong," Athos said quietly after a moment. "That night - just being with you. Both of you. It felt - " he looked away, searching for words.
"It felt right," Porthos finished for him. "Having you there. It felt right. And I think that's part of the reason we've kept pestering you, is because ever since, it's not felt right with you missing. This isn't an act of charity Athos, we're not pitying you. We miss you."
Athos looked at him then, with a guarded hope in his face that made Porthos' heart hurt.
"Come home with us tonight Athos," he whispered. "Let's start over."
And Athos, finally, nodded his agreement.
"Can you tell us what you like?" asked Aramis softly, when they had all eaten, and were comfortably arrayed in front of the fire with full glasses.
They'd stuck to safer topics over dinner, but now they were warm and well-fed and curled up together in the candlelight, it seemed the right time to broach the subject of what might happen next.
"You've told us bits of what you don't like, but I'm still not sure if there's any of the sex stuff that's okay for you?" he continued.
Athos gave a stifled laugh. "The sex stuff?" he echoed, keeping his eyes fixed firmly on his glass but to their relief sounding amused.
"I - like watching you," he said after a pause, venturing a look up. "And I would say - I should have said this before - don't avoid anything between yourselves because of me. Just because I may not like something, I am still quite happy to see you enjoy it to the full." He blushed, hoping it would be taken for the heat of the fire. "Are you really sure you don't mind an audience? I could just join you afterwards for the sleeping part?"
Aramis laughed. "Are you kidding? Have you any idea how much of a turn on it is?" He looked at Athos and realised what he'd just said. "No, okay, you probably haven't."
Athos smiled. "Well, I'm glad to hear it," he murmured.
"So just watching?" Porthos prompted. "Or - ?"
Athos considered. "I don't mind joining in with certain things. At least - this is perhaps going to sound odd - I don't mind doing things to other people, but I don't necessarily want them done to me."
"You say you 'don't mind'. Do you like it though?" Aramis asked. This had been bothering him ever since the first night, worrying that Athos had felt compelled by the circumstances to jerk him off when he hadn't wanted to. To his relief, Athos nodded.
"Yes. I mean - I like giving pleasure. Who wouldn't? If I can make you feel good, that makes me feel good."
"But you won't let us reciprocate?"
Athos frowned, drawing his knees up and wrapping his arms around them. Porthos glared at Aramis for having caused such instantly defensive body language.
"If he don't enjoy it, there'd be no point would there?" Porthos retorted, topping up Athos' glass and putting the bottle down again just out of Aramis' reach, so he was forced to get up to fetch it.
Listening to them bicker, Athos untensed a little. The fact they were even trying to understand him made him feel both warm and confused. It was embarrassing trying to put these things into words, but the fact they were both taking it all so matter-of-factly was helping.
Porthos was frowning thoughtfully, and after a second put down his glass and got to his feet. "Stand up," he said to Aramis, beckoning impatiently.
"Why?" Aramis looked confused and Porthos rolled his eyes.
"Never mind why, just get up."
Aramis did as he was told, shooting a baffled glance at Athos, who shrugged, although was watching with amused interest.
Porthos reached out and started unfastening Aramis' shirt, and Aramis slapped at his hands, laughing. "What are you doing?"
"I'm stripping you," Porthos declared with a grin. "And then I'm fucking you."
"Oh. Is that so." Aramis looked amused. "I thought we were supposed to be talking about Athos?"
"Which is clearly making him uncomfortable," Porthos pointed out. "Whereas the one thing he's said he actually likes, is to watch. So strip, pretty-boy, and let's give him a show."
Aramis opened his mouth to protest on principle, then realised that he didn't actually have any objections to this plan. He shrugged, then glanced back at Athos with a smirk. "Alright."
Satisfied that Aramis was now starting to remove his own clothing, Porthos undressed himself in eager haste. Soon he was standing there stark naked, hands on his hips and grateful for the warmth from the fire on his bare arse.
Aramis, who'd unlaced his shirt and was slowly unbuckling his belt, looked both pained and amused. "A show, you said," he pointed out. "I was trying to be tantalising."
"He'll have fallen asleep with boredom at this rate," Porthos objected, winking at Athos, who was resting his chin on his hand and hiding a smile in his fingers.
"He would never be so ill-mannered." Aramis let his breeches fall to his ankles and stepped carefully out of them.
"Alright then, I'll fall asleep through boredom," Porthos persisted, although he could see Aramis was already hard under his small-clothes, and grinned expectantly.
"Well, I'd expect that kind of rudeness from you," Aramis told him, unruffled. He unlaced his linens and removed them with an elegant grace.
At the sight of Aramis' erection Porthos licked his lips, and slid a hand around his own cock, which was rising steadily. He stroked himself a couple of times, shooting a sideways glance at Athos to make sure he was still into it.
Athos had curled his legs up beneath him comfortably in the chair and was watching them both with a look of captivated appreciation. It suited him not to be the centre of attention, but at the same time he was grateful for their little glances, reassuring him that he wasn't intruding, that they wanted to do this for him as much as for each other.
He watched Porthos and Aramis come together in each other's arms, drinking in the way their bodies fit together with the unselfconscious ease of long custom, loving them for letting him be part of this.
He watched them kiss each other, their hands roaming each other's skin with slow, lingering touches that turned into grasping, urgent encouragement as their embrace became more heated.
Athos found he was hard himself, already breathing rather heavily as he watched them stumble across to the bed.
From somewhere beneath the lithe sprawl of Aramis' limbs, Porthos waved a beckoning arm.
"There's a chair over here, if you want a better view," he called to Athos. "Or feel free to join us on the bed."
Athos hesitated, then moved into the chair Porthos had indicated. He was content to remain at a discreet distance, at least for now.
Porthos grinned at him from the bed. "Best seat in the house, that."
"Do let me know if I should applaud at any point," Athos said with a smile.
"Oh, you'll know when," Aramis laughed. "Usually round about when Porthos manages to come in his own eye."
"That was once! Once!" Porthos jabbed Aramis in the ribs indignantly, then smirked at Athos. "I don't know why I put up with him."
"Oh, I do," Aramis said, wrapping his fist around Porthos' cock and pulling him firmly with long slow strokes.
Porthos lay back and groaned appreciatively, until Aramis came to a stop just as he was getting close to orgasm. He raised his head indignantly. "Oi!"
"I thought you were going to fuck me?" Aramis reminded him. "I'm doing all the work here."
"Bout time you pulled your weight," Porthos grinned, sitting up unabashed and reaching for the bottle of oil he kept by.
"Well you've got plenty of it to pull," Aramis retorted, meaning to make a jibe about Porthos' weight but he cackled delightedly when it sounded like Aramis meant his cock.
Athos shifted position in the chair, one knee hooked up to rest his foot on the seat, and the heel of his hand pressed tight against the bulge in his breeches. Aramis gave him a smile.
"You can, um - you know. If you want."
"Get it out, he means," Porthos supplied helpfully, shoving Aramis unceremoniously down to the bed into the position he wanted.
"Thank you," Athos murmured. "I'll bear that in mind." It was a tempting thought, but he wasn't quite there yet. For now he was happy to watch, and remember it all for later.
By now Aramis was spreadeagled wantonly on the covers with Porthos delving between his legs, and Athos was surprised by how gentle he was, in contrast to the teasing and manhandling of earlier. By the time Porthos took him, hooking up Aramis' knees and nudging carefully inside him, inch by inch, Athos' cock was throbbing in sympathy and he splayed his fingers across the cloth, discreetly rubbing himself. He still couldn't bring himself to be blatant about it, but the others were in any case entirely distracted.
Porthos was thrusting into Aramis with a cheerful vigour, while Aramis was clinging to him for dear life, head thrown back in a picture of ecstatic bliss. Athos thought he had never seen anything so arousing in his whole life, or so beautiful as the sight they presented. Locked together in mutual desire and affection, they played out their love before him, for him, and somewhere along the way as he gazed at them in growing wonder, Athos lost the tense, defensive curl to his body.
By the time both Porthos and Aramis were spent, lying sweaty and tangled on the rumpled bed, Athos had a smile on his face neither of them could ever remember having seen before. They assumed at first that he'd come whilst watching them, but when Athos got up from the seat and quietly went without being asked to fetch them both wine and a damp cloth, it was obvious he was still aroused.
"I could get used to this," Aramis grinned, as Athos handed him a cup of wine and after a second's hesitation settled on the edge of the bed.
"So could I," Athos murmured, and Porthos beamed at him.
"You'll come again then?" he said eagerly, then snorted. "So to speak."
Athos nodded, colour high in his cheeks but somehow more relaxed than he'd been earlier. "If you'll have me." He smiled. "So to speak."
Porthos laughed uproariously, then patted the pillow next to him. "Come and cuddle."
"If you want," Aramis added carefully, aware they were both still rather sweaty and sticky, and Athos gave him a grateful smile.
"I do." He hesitated again, then came to a decision and stripped off his shirt and breeches before crawling in between them.
Porthos put an arm round him as Aramis pulled the covers up over all of them, and they settled down comfortably.
"Thank you," Athos said quietly, after a while. "Thank you for letting me be a part of this. And for - understanding."
"Thank you for joining us," Aramis said, toasting him with a smile. "I hope we gave you a suitably debauched show?"
Athos smiled into his cup, as Porthos nuzzled kisses into the crease of his neck. "I think perhaps this has been the most memorable night of my life," he said.
"Well there's a challenge for tomorrow night's performance then," Porthos grinned.
"Are you sure you don't mind this?" Athos asked in a low voice. "I feel like I'm not - offering you anything."
Porthos looked indignant. "Athos, you're offering us you. You, here, with us, like this. That's huge."
"He's right," said Aramis quietly. "You fit. We all fit. We complete each other. And for the record, if you're happy watching, I am more than happy giving you something to watch."
"He always was a big tart, mind," Porthos announced with a grin, and Aramis leaned over Athos' shoulders to slap him round the head.
Athos smiled, letting them bicker around him. It felt familiar, and safe, and for the first time in a long while he realised he felt genuinely loved for who and what he was, rather than despite it.
The sense of dread he'd come to associate with the idea of sex was gradually dissipating, and Athos allowed himself to wonder if he might even reach the point where he really could bring himself off in front of them.
For now though, it was enough to be here, and to be not just accepted but wanted. Porthos was snuggled down on his left, one leg draped over his and an arm round his waist. Aramis was sitting up to his right, still drinking wine, and leaning companionably against his shoulder.
Aramis was right, Athos thought. They did all fit. And there was no place in the world he'd rather be.