suzie_shooter (suzie_shooter) wrote,
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suzie_shooter

Fic - Hostage of Fortune (1 of 3)

Title: Hostage of Fortune (1 of 3)
Pairings: Athos/Porthos, Aramis/d'Artagnan
Rating: PG (this part)
Wordcount: 5,650
Summary: Present day AU. On the run for a murder he swears he didn't commit, Athos is forced by circumstance to take a stranger, Porthos, hostage - but is he telling the truth and can he convince Porthos of his innocence whilst holding him at gunpoint?

--

The road was narrow and steep, and in the dark it took all of Athos' concentration to keep the car on the road. He knew he was travelling too fast for the conditions, the slushy snow kept threatening to drag the wheels out from under him, but the lights and sirens were not yet far enough behind to risk slowing down.

Some way on, over the brow of the hill and as yet out of sight of Athos, another man had not been so lucky. A car rested at an awkward angle in a ditch, one of its back wheels in the air.

Leaning disconsolately against the rear passenger door, Porthos looked up in sudden hope at the sound of an approaching vehicle. With no mobile signal and no hope of getting his car back on the road by himself, he'd been resigned to a long cold walk to civilisation - but now perhaps he was saved. If it was something large like a Land Rover they could perhaps tow him out - if not, at least give him a lift to the nearest garage.

As the headlights crested the hill he stepped out into the road and made to wave down the driver. To his consternation the car seemed to speed up a little, steering out in readiness to drive straight past him.

Porthos, indignant and somewhat desperate, threw himself into the path of the oncoming vehicle in an effort to force them to stop. Even as he acted, he knew what a stupid move this was - he risked being flattened or making the other car swerve off the road, and also realised belatedly that it might well be a lone woman driver who was hardly going to stop for a strange man suddenly looming out of the shadows at night.

All of this went through his head in the fraction of time it took the car to fishtail to an emergency stop just inches from his knees, and Porthos leaned on the bonnet weakly.

He made his way round to the driver's window that was whirring down, and looked inside, resting an arm on the roof.

"Sorry about that, but I've had an accident and I wonder if you could - " Porthos broke off in sudden frozen disbelief. The driver of the car was pointing a gun at him through the open window.

"What - ?" was all he could manage. The sight of the gun made his mind go blank, it was so unexpected and so very chilling.

Was it a toy, a replica, he wondered. You didn't expect to come across people carrying deadly looking handguns in the middle of the countryside, not in this country. And then he heard, far down in the valley, the wail of police sirens, and realised that in all probability it was genuine, and that he was in deep shit.

"Get in." The driver jerked the gun, and Porthos blinked.

"What?"

"I said get in!" Up to now the driver had been staring back at him in almost as much confusion as Porthos

Porthos contemplated making a run for it, but the idea of getting a bullet in his back was hideous, and in any case his legs felt like jelly. He stumbled round to the passenger door and climbed inside the car.

"Open the glove box."

"What?"

He got an exasperated look in return. "Is that the only word you know? Open the damn glove box, there's a pair of handcuffs in there. Put them on."

Hands shaking, Porthos did as he was instructed, and sure enough found a set of metal cuffs. "Why the hell have you got a pair of handcuffs in your car?"

"Maybe my wife likes rough sex. Shut up and do as you're told. Loop them through the handle."

Porthos obeyed. He was regretting getting in now, but it was too late. When it was done, the driver nodded and stuck the gun in the door pocket and started off again at high speed. Porthos wished he'd put his seatbelt on first, but he'd thought it would hamper his chances of escape.

"Who are you?"

"Nobody."

"I'm Porthos," he ventured, thinking that was what they told you to do wasn't it, initiate conversation, get them thinking of you as a person not a target.

"Why would I care?"

"Well you abducted me, that implies a certain level of interest," Porthos retorted before he could stop himself. He was annoyed, he liked to think he'd be good in a crisis, but being confronted with an actual gun had made him go utterly blank. To his relief, his captor's mouth twitched in what might almost have been a smile.

"Fine." The man sighed. "I suppose it hardly matters now does it. My name's Athos."

"What have you done?"

"I haven't done anything!"

"Okay. Okay, fine," Porthos tried to sound placating. "What do they think you've done?"

Sirens and lights down in the valley, glimpsed between the trees. Heading in the wrong direction by the looks of things, but on these roads it was hard to tell. Athos was driving far too fast, but after the first few hair raising corners at high speed, Porthos began to realise he did at least have the ability to get away with it.

"They think I killed my wife."

Porthos' blood ran cold. "Did you?"

"No!"

"Alright, fine, sorry." Porthos held up his hands, as far as he could at the awkward angle the cuffs allowed. "Do you think you might want to slow down a bit?" he ventured, as Athos went into a skid on the sheet ice, only to steer out of it with a minimum of muttered swearing and hold the road.

"Not really," Athos said dryly. "Not having gone to all this trouble."

"Why do they think you killed her?" Porthos asked after a moment, when Athos had fallen silent again. He wasn't sure this was the most calming topic of conversation, nor was distracting a man driving hell for leather through icy roads in the dark, but keeping him talking had to be good, right?

"I came home to find the place covered in blood. Police arrived about a minute after me, had been tipped off."

"If you didn’t kill her, who did?"

Athos snorted. "I don’t believe she's dead. There was certainly no body. They were trying to get me to tell them what I'd done with her."

"If it's not her blood though - they'd be able to tell. You might be in the clear?"

"Probably is hers. Wouldn't put it past the cold hearted bitch to open a vein just to spite me."

"You think she's setting you up?"

"I know she is." Athos sounded bewildered and angry all at once. "Apparently she's been telling the police I've been threatening her, that she was afraid for her life. And that I'd taken out a huge life insurance policy on her."

"But you hadn't?"

"No." Athos hesitated. “But it turns out there is one, in my name. I had nothing to do with it."

Porthos looked at him in the dim light. He looked tense and angry and defiant and dangerous. But if he was maintaining his innocence, maybe he would be reluctant to use the gun.

"Why did you take me hostage then if you're not a killer?" he asked.

Athos looked sideways at him and nearly went into a tree.

"Shit! Sorry." He steered hastily back onto the road, and the incongruity of his apology almost made Porthos laugh. "You saw me," Athos explained, a little sheepishly. "You could have told them which way I was going."

"Surely if you reckon she's still alive they're the best placed people to look for her? Wouldn't you be better off handing yourself in?"

Athos shook his head frustratedly. "They think she's dead, they'll be looking in the wrong places. They'll be dragging the rivers and looking in hedgerows. All the while she's probably holed up in a suite at the Ritz for all I know. They don't believe me." He looked quickly at Porthos and sighed. "You don't believe me either do you?"

"Course I do."

Athos snorted. "Don't lie to the nice man with the gun."

"The fact I'm currently manacled to a car by a madman with a gun, does rather make me less inclined to believe he's innocent in the first place. Now if you were to let me go..."

"Nice try. But no, sorry, I can't risk it. Look - Porthos, was it? Just - do as I say, alright? Behave yourself. And I give you my word I won't hurt you."

"Where are we even going? People are going to notice if you march me out at gunpoint."

"Not where we're headed they won't." Athos pulled in at the side of the road and felt in his pockets until he came up with a key. "Here. Undo yourself from the door and put them back on." He got out of the car and walked round to cover the passenger side, while Porthos got out.

"What are you doing?" Porthos asked, nervous that he was about to get a bullet to his head regardless of Athos' words, but Athos took the keys back and jerked his head at a gap in the hedge.

"Through there."

"I'm hardly dressed for snow," Porthos protested. He was wearing lace-up canvas gym shoes and a light fleece.

"My heart bleeds. Now get moving, before yours does."

Porthos did as he was told. Standing up he could see he was considerably bigger and heavier than Athos, and wondered if he should try and overpower him, but Athos was standing out of reach and covering him calmly with the gun.

"Don't," Athos said quietly. "Do as I say, and we can both get through this. Don't be a hero."

Miserably hunched against the cold night wind, Porthos trudged along in front of Athos, round the edge of two fields and down a muddy track apparently used by cattle, until they came to a stream.

"Now what?" Porthos asked, looking round.

"Into the water. Go upstream"

"You're kidding me."

"Do I look like I'm joking?" Athos waved the gun at him. "If they come after us with dogs this'll confuse them."

Reluctantly, Porthos stepped into the water. It was fast but reasonably shallow, and he splashed along the stream bed with tired resignation. After what felt like years, his feet numb with cold and his jeans dragging heavily round his calves, Athos touched him on the shoulder. "Up here."

A dark opening in the hedge showed on his right and he staggered up a rutted track leading uphill until Athos touched him again and forced him to climb over a stile into anther field. In the corner of this was a wooden cabin, and it appeared to be this Athos was making for.

The place was dark and deserted, and Porthos leaned against the wall, panting. "So now what? You break in?"

"Shouldn't need to. Somewhere around here - " Athos was feeling under the lip of the doorstep, and Porthos realised for the first time his concentration was on something other than him. There was a pile of wood next to him and he picked up a large piece of timber, moving stealthily towards Athos and lifting it over his back.

Athos turned and suddenly there was a gun in his face. "Drop it."

Porthos, caught out, gaped at him and then lowered it looking embarrassed. "Just thought we might need to make a fire," he muttered.

Athos unlocked the door with the key he'd found and gestured for Porthos to go inside.

It was dark and cold, but dry and out of the wind. Athos drew the curtain across the window before turning on a lamp, avoiding the main lights.

"Over there. Get on the floor."

For a stomach pitching second Porthos thought he was going to shoot him anyway, but Athos dug the handcuff keys out of his pocket and threw them over.

"Lock yourself around the radiator." He held the gun on him steadily.

"You won't shoot me," Porthos said, trying to sound firm. "You said you weren't a killer, remember?"

"No I didn't. I said I didn’t kill my wife," corrected Athos flatly. "Besides, I could always shoot you in the leg. Stop stalling."

Porthos did as he was told. He hadn't liked that implied suggestion that Athos had killed someone else, one little bit.

The safest thing, for the moment, was to do as he was told, and Porthos undid the cuffs, looped them through the pipework and the bottom of the heavy cast iron radiator, and snapped it back on his wrist. His skin was sore where they'd been rubbing, especially now the feeling was coming back into them.

Satisfied he was secure, Athos set the gun on the table and sank into a chair himself, rubbing his eyes and groaning slightly.

"You alright?" Porthos asked. It was still in his mind that the best thing he could do here was try and build a relationship, gain his trust.

"I've had better days," said Athos, dryly. He stood up again and did a quick circuit of the cabin, pulling all the curtains and familiarising himself with the space.

When he came back into the living room Porthos was pulling at the pipework and broke off looking guilty as he reappeared.

"You won’t shift that, I helped put it in," Athos told him without anger. "It's not going anywhere." He went over to the woodburner and examined it, ducking out of the front door quickly to fetch some logs.

"Told you we'd need wood," Porthos said, and Athos almost smiled, although he didn’t reply.

"Is this your place?" Porthos persisted, taking heart from the fact Athos had held his temper in the face of provocation.

"No. Belongs to a friend." Having got a fire going, Athos sat down again and stared at the flames rather blankly.

"So now what?" Porthos asked. "We sit here all night? They'll be looking for you. They'll come here sooner or later."

Athos shook his head slightly, but didn’t answer.

"You don’t have a clue what you're doing, do you?" Porthos realised suddenly. "You don’t have a plan, you're making this up as you go along."

"It all came as such a shock," Athos said distantly. "It's not like I had time to think about it."

"You could still let me go. Holding me hostage isn't going to do you any favours."

"You'd tell them where I was," Athos sighed. "And I may yet need a bargaining advantage."

"Far as they're concerned, you're armed and dangerous," Porthos pointed out. "They'll probably shoot you on sight."

Athos stood up suddenly and Porthos flinched, but he only went over to the kitchen units and started hunting through cupboards. He found some tins of soup and heated it on the stove. Porthos watched, hopeful that he might get some. It had been hours since he'd eaten, and his stomach was growling at the smell.

When it was ready Athos brought a bowl over for him, setting it on the floor with a spoon.

Porthos lifted up his hands, chained a few inches off the floor. He could feed himself, but only if he ate on his knees.

"I'm not an animal," he objected.

"You forfeited your right to freedom when you tried to hit me over the head," Athos said. "You only have yourself to blame."

Porthos grumbled but Athos ignored him, sitting at the table to eat his own. Afterwards Athos shared out a packet of biscuits he found, and then looking through another cupboard came up with a bottle of wine.

"Don't I get any?" Porthos asked, watching Athos pour himself a glass.

Athos considered, then poured some into a plastic beaker and carried it across.

"What am I, twelve?"

"You could use a broken glass as a weapon," Athos said.

Porthos looked him over cagily. There was a professional calmness about the way he held the gun that suggested a familiarity with it, and Porthos couldn't decide if that worked in his favour or not. It meant the man was less likely to panic and shoot him without really meaning to. On the other hand, if he decided it was necessary, he had little doubt Athos would carry out his threat.

"So. Your friend not likely to walk in on us then?" Porthos said, somewhat hopefully, but Athos shook his head.

"Treville rents it out in the summer. He's not likely to come near the place in this weather."

"Tell me what happened."

"Why? You don’t believe me."

"Convince me," Porthos suggested. "It's not like I'm going anywhere, is it? You said the police wouldn’t listen. Well, I don’t have a choice."

Athos thought for a while. "I came home and the place was covered in blood. The gun was on the table."

"You normally leave guns lying around the place?"

"No, it's normally locked away. I picked it up."

"And the police burst in to find you holding it?" Porthos guessed. "I'm guessing you don’t watch a lot of crime drama?"

There it was again, that ghost of an almost-smile.

"It would have had my prints on it anyway." Athos sighed, stretching his feet out towards the fire. As an afterthought, he pulled the cushion off one of the other chairs and tossed it across to Porthos.

"They said she'd come to them before. Saying I'd been making threats. Telling them she was afraid for her life. Apparently she'd made a call a few minutes earlier, and it had ended with a scream and a shot."

"How did you get away?" Porthos asked. "I don’t imagine they let you out for a breath of air."

"I convinced them I needed the toilet. They let me go because the window was too small for me to squeeze through. What they didn’t know was the frame was rotten. I'd been meaning to get round to fixing it for months. I managed to kick the whole thing out, was away before they knew I'd gone."

"So what is your plan?"

"I need to find her. I need to prove she's still alive, to prove my innocence." Athos looked at him. "You don’t believe me, do you?"

Porthos frowned. "Let's say I'd be more inclined to be sympathetic if I wasn’t currently chained to a radiator."

Athos looked at him for a long moment, then sighed. "Oh, what's the point. Who am I kidding." He dug the keys out and threw them across.

Porthos looked at him warily then unlocked the cuffs, rubbing his wrists in relief. He stood up cautiously. Athos didn’t move, was sitting on the floor by the woodburner with his back to the couch.

Porthos hesitated. He should go. But on the other hand, it was the middle of the night, he had no idea where he was, and no transport. It was dark and snowy and cold.

The gun was resting near Athos' hand on the floor. Porthos slowly bent and picked it up. It was heavier than he expected, and for a second he considered forcing Athos to cuff himself in his place, while he called the police. Except he suspected Athos would refuse and call his bluff. He set it carefully on the table and stepped thankfully away from it.

Athos was watching him now, as if puzzled that he hadn't made an immediate run for it.

Porthos made up his mind, came over and sat next to him on the floor.

"So." He said. "Where do you reckon she's gone then?"

Athos looked at him, bewildered. "You can go, if you want," he said quietly. "I won't stop you."

Porthos shrugged. "Where am I going to go? Come on, talk to me."

"Well. There are a few places I can think of she might have gone," Athos said finally, seemingly accepting Porthos' intention to stay. "We have a flat in the city - I don't think she'd go there, but it needs to be checked. And there are a couple of hotels she's used before."

"She goes to hotels when you've got a flat there?" Porthos frowned.

Athos shrugged delicately. "We've had our ups and downs."

"I'd say trying to frame you for murder's definitely more of a down," Porthos snorted. "What about friends?"

"Most are mutual, I don't think there are any she'd trust not to give her away. Unless - " he looked thoughtful. "There is someone. She doesn't especially trust him, but he'd be the type to back her in something like this just because he hates me."

"So what's the plan? Go round the various addresses looking for her? Mate, your picture's going to be all over the national news by now."

Athos sighed. "What else can I do? I have nowhere to go."

"What about this Treville bloke?"

Athos nodded slowly. "He'd hide me. He'd probably even believe me. But what would he get in return, a jail term for aiding and abetting. I can't hide in an attic for the next twenty years. I need to clear my name, and to do that I need to find her."

Porthos drained his cup and reached for the bottle. Athos smiled slightly. "You can have a glass instead if you want," he said. Porthos laughed.

"Nah, I'll stick with this. You can get more in it, anyway," he added, topping up Athos' glass as well.

They sat and stared at the flames through the door of the woodburner in silence for a while, their trousers gradually drying out. "I'm sorry," Athos said softly, after a while. "For bringing you here, for everything. Will there be people worried when you don't come home?"

"No, I live alone," Porthos said without thinking, and then realised that if Athos was still harbouring any violent intentions towards him, that might not have been the smartest answer. He looked sideways at him. "Er, I mean, yes, there's a whole family that will have called the police by now."

Athos smirked at him and Porthos gave a rueful laugh. "I'm not very good at this," he said. "I've never been a hostage before."

"I've never taken one before," Athos said. "I guess we can learn together."

Porthos cackled. "I like it better without the cuffs." He eyed Athos curiously. "You never did tell me exactly why you had a pair of handcuffs in your car."

"Yes I did."

"You said - oh." Porthos blinked. "Okay. I thought you were kidding."

"Like I said. Ups and downs."

--

The rest of the night passed uneventfully. Athos let Porthos take the bedroom, while he himself stretched out on the couch. He didn't sleep much, too wound up and tense, and lay there watching the sky grow lighter beyond the curtains. Up to now he'd been acting on instinct, but Porthos was right, how could he expect to move freely in daylight when everyone would be looking for him?

A movement made him look round, and he found Porthos standing in the doorway to the bedroom wrapped in a blanket.

"I've got an idea," Porthos said. "I've thought it through, and it's the only solution."

"Then I'm all ears," said Athos, moving up to give Porthos room to sit down. "Because unless you can come up with a miracle, I'm sunk."

"Let me go and look for her. I could go round all those places you mentioned no problem, and come back here afterwards, while you stay out of sight."

Athos stared at him in astonishment. "Why would you do that? After everything I've done?"

Porthos shrugged. "I suppose - " he hesitated. "I suppose I just believe you."

"You don't know what she looks like."

"Describe her then. Besides, soon as I get a phone signal her picture's probably all over the news."

Athos got up and made them tea. There was no milk, so they drank it black, while Athos wrote down all the places he could think of to look. "Are you sure about this?"

Porthos looked at him. In the early morning light Athos looked tired and beaten, and Porthos felt rather sorry for him. He didn't come across as dangerous, although Porthos suspected it would be a mistake to underestimate him.

"Yes."

Athos nodded. "Then I'm in your hands."

Porthos hid a smile in his tea mug. That was certainly an image he didn't object to.

"You know what, you should probably shave off the beard," Porthos said. "It'd make you a bit less recognisable."

"I'm attached to this beard," Athos muttered, automatically putting a hand up to his face rather defensively.

"More so than your liberty?"

"Fair point."

Porthos left just before nine, and Athos watched him go with a certain anxiety. More snow had fallen in the night, and he'd advised Porthos to go back the way they'd come, following the bridlepath to the road and leaving the snowy driveway up to the cabin undisturbed.

He watched him disappear across the field, and wondered pensively if he was doing the right thing, or whether armed police would descend on the place as soon as Porthos got a phone signal.

--

Darkness had fallen over the cabin, as the short winter's day came to an end. Headlights lit up the driveway and Porthos paused on the road, looking up towards what his scrutiny of the map told him should be the right track.

The snow was now churned up with wheelmarks, and he wondered if Athos had been apprehended after all. But he'd had the radio on, and there'd been nothing about a capture, so he made up his mind and drove on towards the cabin.

All was dark, and he got out and tried the door, finding it locked. He knocked cautiously.

"Athos? Athos it's me." And then, as an afterthought, "I'm alone."

After a long pause, there was a rattle at the lock, and Athos peered cautiously out.

Cold, Porthos shouldered his way in, and Athos quickly closed and relocked the door behind him, finally risking switching the lamp on.

They stared at each other in some surprise. Athos had taken his advice and shaved his beard off, and looked drastically younger and surprisingly vulnerable.

"I didn't think you'd really come back," Athos said finally.

"Yeah, well. I must be daft." Porthos gave him a crooked smile. "Didn't really think you'd still be here, for that matter."

"I must be daft too." Athos said quietly. They smiled at each other, the hesitant trust of the morning getting slowly stronger.

"I brought dinner," said Porthos, swinging a bag up onto the table. "I hope you like curry."

"God, yes, I'm famished." Athos looked rather stunned, and Porthos gave him a little push.

"Find us some plates then. And a bottle opener, I brought some beer." Porthos pulled a chair out and sat down as Athos clattered about in the cupboards.

"You had visitors?" Porthos asked, remembering the tyre tracks outside.

Athos sat opposite him, looking pale. "It was the police. They knocked on the door and called out a few times, but all the lights were off and I hid under the bed." Athos looked sheepish. "I guess they're just checking the area."

Porthos studied him over his beer, wondering how scared Athos had been, hiding alone in the dark. He couldn't imagine having to face going to prison. Especially if he didn't deserve it. He realised with a slight sense of surprise that he was inclined to believe Athos now, even though the day hadn't been particularly conclusive.

"You're all over the news," he declared. "Armed and considered dangerous, do not approach."

Athos gave a faint smile. "Bit late for that."

Porthos snorted. "Ex army, they reckon?"

"Where do you think I got the gun," Athos murmured.

"Not meant to hang on to 'em, are you?"

"They do tend to frown on it, yes."

Porthos looked at him. "Possible PTSD, they're saying," he ventured gently.

Athos shook his head. "No one really comes back unscathed. But no, nothing that bad." He sighed. "I told you, she was telling lies about me. Making me out to be unhinged."

"Suspected alcohol dependency?"

Athos tilted his head and gave a one-shouldered shrug. "Probably can't really dispute that one, to be fair." He drained his beer and picked up another with an ironic tip of the bottle to Porthos. "We all have our own ways of coping."

"Anyway," Athos continued, changing the subject. "How did you get on?"

As they dug into the food Porthos related the events of his day. It had started with a long and tedious walk into the nearest village three miles away, where he finally picked up enough phone signal to call a garage with a view to pulling out his stranded car.

It transpired that his car had already been recovered and was in the possession of an irritable local constable, who Porthos then had to spend another hour convincing that he was the owner and apologising for abandoning it the night before, and leaving the accident unreported.

"It was late, I just wanted to get home," Porthos had lied, wondering as he did so why he was bothering. Why not just tell the truth? He owed Athos nothing, and he could get into substantial trouble for helping him. But something held him back, and he'd stayed quiet.

Finally he'd been allowed to go, and having endured another lecture on how lucky he was, and didn't he know that there was a dangerous murderer on the loose, Porthos had made apologetic noises and escaped as soon as he was able.

"Well. There was no sign of life at your flat. I did the rounds of the hotels you suggested. Nearly got arrested for loitering, checked out the lobbies, saw a few possibilities but no one who really matched the pictures on the news." Porthos flicked through a few shots on his phone and Athos shook his head at each of them. The last image was one Porthos had saved for reference, the one being used by all the news sites for most dramatic impact. It showed Athos and his wife smiling for the camera, both of them in smart evening wear.

Athos turned away. "Happier times," he murmured. He pushed the remains of his curry around on the plate, then set down his fork, appetite gone. "No luck, then. No sign of her." It had been a long shot.

"I tried that final address you gave me too. Couldn't get close, 'cause the gates were locked, but - there is a woman there. Dark hair, about the right build. But I was too far away to get a good look."

"Did you get a picture?" Athos asked, looking up sharply.

"Yeah, hang on." Porthos fiddled with his phone and held it out. It showed a blurry figure some way distant, side-on to the camera.

"That's her." Athos stared at the picture in faint shock. "That's Milady."

"Are you sure?" Porthos asked dubiously. "It could be anyone. What if it's just this bloke's wife?"

"Rochefort's not married."

"Athos - " Porthos hesitated. "I know you want it to be her. Do you not think that might be clouding your judgement?"

Athos looked at him. "I know my own wife. Would you not recognise a woman you knew intimately?"

Porthos snorted. "I don't know any women intimately. Not really my thing," he said quietly, wondering how Athos would take that. You could never tell.

Athos just raised an eyebrow. "Man then. You'd recognise a boyfriend wouldn't you? Even at that distance?"

"I don't have a boyfriend."

Athos almost laughed, handing back the phone and shaking his head in frustration. "You must be close to someone. I'm just trying to make a point."

Porthos relaxed a little. "I suppose so. Yeah, okay. I guess you could be right. So what now? What if it is her? You can't just march in there and accost her, she'll claim she was in hiding, that she was afraid you'd come to finish the job."

The uncomfortable thought that this might be exactly what Athos was doing crossed his mind, and Porthos shifted in his chair, glancing round surreptitiously and wondering where the gun was.

Athos guessed what he was thinking and sighed. "I'm not trying to kill her. I just want my life back."

Porthos nodded slowly. He'd spent most of the day questioning his own motives, not to mention wondering if he was being taken for a ride. He conceded that he was attracted to Athos, but he wasn't daft enough to imagine there was any hope there. There was just something about the man that made Porthos want to help him.

"We need to get you out of here," Porthos said. "Chances are the police'll be back with a search warrant for all the local hidey-holes if they decide you haven't skipped the country."

"Where can I go?" Athos asked helplessly. "They'll be watching the flat, they have to be. And I have hardly any money on me, I can't go to a hotel. And if I use my bank card they'll trace me."

"Come with me then," Porthos said, making up his mind. "I live on my own, no one'll see you. Let's go now, while it's dark. It'll buy us some time, at least."

Athos looked up at that 'us', and smiled briefly with a bemused gratitude. "Why are you helping me?" he asked. "Not that I'm complaining, but - you must know you could get yourself into a lot of trouble."

Porthos shrugged awkwardly. "Don't look a gifthorse in the mouth. Maybe my life's just that dull, eh?"

"Then I hope I don't bring you more excitement than is comfortable," Athos murmured.

-(tbc)-
Tags: fic, the musketeers
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