Pairings: Athos/Porthos (established relationship)
Summary: Follows on from the end of Through A Glass Darkly. Just inconsequential fluffy h/c really.
The heat of the afternoon was waning as they returned to the garrison. Unthinkingly moving to dismount, Porthos felt a bolt of pain shoot up his arm and slithered to the ground in less than elegant fashion. He hoped his involuntary groan had gone unnoticed amongst the clatter of horses, but suddenly Athos was at his side.
"You alright?" Athos murmured. Casual enough in the asking, but with watchful eyes fixed on him.
"I'm fine," Porthos snapped, and lead his horse off towards the stables.
He set about removing the harness, conscious of Athos doing the same for his own mount in the next stall. Moving slowly and with care, Porthos managed well enough until he tried to lift off the saddle.
His bellow of pain brought Athos in seconds.
"You're hurt." More accusation than anything else, but Porthos knew him well enough to hear the unspoken concern.
Porthos rested his forehead against the horse's flank for a moment, breathing through the pain.
"Dislocated my shoulder getting free," he told Athos through clenched teeth. "Rochefort put it back in for me, but - yeah. Bit sore."
Athos regarded him assessingly. "Why don't you go and rest up? Let me do this."
"I can manage!" Porthos retorted crossly, the pain making him brusque.
"And yet, you don't have to," Athos said calmly. "Is accepting help really the more painful option?" he added with a certain amount of mischief.
Porthos relented with a grudging sigh. "Fine. Thanks," he muttered.
Athos just nodded. "Go on. I'll come and find you."
Porthos was standing in his shirtsleeves facing another problem when Athos knocked discreetly at the door and came in.
"How are you feeling?"
Porthos sighed. He hated admitting to any form of physical weakness, but this was Athos, and they were at least alone. "Can't get my shirt off. Can't lift my arm above my head without wanting to scream blue murder."
Athos frowned. "Can you put your arms out in front?" Porthos nodded, and he came closer, taking hold of the hem of Porthos' shirt. "Bend over forwards," Athos directed. Porthos did as he was told, and Athos managed to draw the shirt off over his head with the minimum of discomfort.
"Thanks," Porthos tried rotating his shoulder and hissed.
"Let me see." Athos examined him with care, Porthos standing obediently passive beneath his probing fingers.
"Well? What's the verdict?"
"A little swollen, but you'll live," Athos smiled. "I should try and rest it for a few days, if you can."
"Chance'd be a fine thing, round here," Porthos grumbled.
"Let me see your wrists." Athos took hold of Porthos' hands and examined the abrasions on the skin. "I've got something for that." He took a small jar out of his pocket and set it on the table.
"How did you know?" Porthos asked.
"Rochefort was complaining about having spent the afternoon chained up with you," Athos told him, with the suspicion of a smile. "Personally, I wouldn't have minded so much," he murmured.
Porthos laughed. "I hope you're talking about my company and not his."
Are you trying to give me nightmares?" Athos carefully cleaned the scrapes and bruises, and smoothed on some of the salve. "There you go. Be good as new in a day or two."
"Did you get that from Aramis?" Porthos asked, as Athos poured some water from the pitcher into a basin and washed the cream from his hands.
"From his quarters. He won't mind."
"He's not back yet then?" Aramis had volunteered to accompany the party escorting the royal family all the way back to the Louvre. "How long does it take to ride to the damn palace and back?"
"Perhaps they found some other duty for him," Athos said noncommittally.
"Huh." Porthos looked sceptical, and Athos sighed.
"Does it hurt? Your shoulder?" Hoping to change the subject.
"Nah," Porthos lied. Then cocked his head thoughtfully. "Although it'd hurt even less if you came and kissed it better."
Athos smiled then, and came over to him. Porthos settled his arms around Athos and kissed him on the mouth, only to start backwards as the cold metal studs on Athos' uniform made contact with his bare chest.
"You're wearing too many clothes," Porthos complained.
Athos shed his outer layers and weapons belt. "Better?" he asked, when he was down to his shirt.
"It's a start." Porthos sat down on the bed and swung his legs up. He leaned back and automatically went to fold his arms behind his head, only to yelp in unexpected pain.
Athos rolled his eyes and sat down at the foot of the bed, starting to remove Porthos' boots for him.
Porthos settled back more gingerly, and watched him with a certain amount of fondness. There was something about the casual intimacy of the gesture that warmed him throughout.
He patted the bed next to him, and after a moment's hesitation Athos pulled off his own boots and crawled up the mattress to lie between Porthos and the wall, careful to keep off his wounded shoulder.
They kissed each other again, softly, and Athos settled against him, drawing idle patterns with his fingertip across Porthos' bare chest.
"So what?" Athos looked up.
"You were going to tell me what Milady was doing with you."
Porthos leaned over and laid a kiss in his hair. "Athos. Talk to me. Please. I'd rather know what you're thinking, whatever it is. Aramis has stopped confiding in me, don't you go the same way, I beg you."
Athos sighed. "What's to say? She turned up here claiming the king was in danger. That everyone was being held hostage but that they'd let her go."
"And you believed her? Just like that?"
Athos shook his head. "She - she said Aramis was dead. I didn't want to believe that, and it made me not want to credit any of it. At least until I understood her motives." He sighed. "And look where it got her in the end."
Porthos looked sideways at him. "Not under the King's protection any more," he ventured. "You could make good on your promise."
"You think I should kill her, after she helped rescue you?" Athos asked, surprised.
"No. Not especially. I just wondered if you did."
"I don't know what I think," Athos said heavily. "I feel so - confused. About everything." He looked away. "My mistrust of her could have been responsible for nobody coming to your rescue at all," he admitted, feeling somehow guilty for things that hadn't even happened.
Porthos snorted. "Me and Aramis had it all under control," he grinned, giving Athos a hug with his good arm. "We'd have been alright. Might have taken a bit longer mind."
Athos gave a reluctant smile, cheered despite himself by Porthos' bluff confidence.
"I want to trust her," he confessed.
"Because you're a good man."
"Because I'm a fool," Athos said bitterly. "She would betray the lot of us without a moment's thought if it served her own ends."
"Then let's hope it doesn't," Porthos said placidly. He rubbed Athos' shoulder with comforting affection. "Will you stay with me tonight?" he asked.
Athos looked conflicted. "We should be careful. If we do this too often, someone will notice."
"Maybe we should take a leaf out of d’Artagnan’s book," Porthos declared. "And stop caring."
"Well. As long as we don't have to kiss each other in front of the King."
Porthos grinned. "He might like it."
"That's what I'm afraid of," Athos murmured, and broke into a smile as Porthos threw his head back and laughed.
"It'd certainly be a fitting revenge on Milady if the King's next mistress was you," Porthos declared delightedly.
"A higher price than I'm willing to pay," Athos demurred with a smile. "I am quite happy with you."
Porthos kissed him. "Does that mean you're staying?" he asked hopefully.
Athos smiled. "I am."