Pairings: Athos/Porthos, Aramis/d'Artagnan
Rating: NC17 (this part)
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 man who opened the front door looked, d'Artagnan thought, rather like a weasel. It had taken all his powers of persuasion to get this far, explaining at length to the implacable metal grille fixed to the gate that he was here to do a feature on M. Rochefort. Finally, the electronic gates had swung silently open and d'Artagnan and Aramis had marched up the driveway, rather more confidently than they felt.
There had been pictures of Rochefort online, but somehow they hadn't managed to convey the slimy essence of him. He looked like the sort of man who was probably wearing women's underwear. Not, d'Artagnan conceded, that there was anything wrong with that, it was just in Rochefort's case you got the impression the women in question probably didn't know about it.
"M. Rochefort? My name is d'Artagnan, I - "
"Yes. You said." Rochefort peered out at them suspiciously, holding the door firmly in one hand so they couldn't see into the house. "Credentials?"
D'Artagnan handed over his press card and driving licence, and Rochefort scrutinised them carefully before handing them back with a grunt. Satisfied d'Artagnan was who he said he was, Rochefort didn't ask to see Aramis' details as well, and they both breathed a silent sigh of relief.
"This isn't a good time I'm afraid." Rochefort looked over his shoulder, back into the house. He seemed jumpy, nervous, and d'Artagnan and Aramis exchanged a glance. "Can you come back another time?"
"I'm afraid not," said d'Artagnan smoothly. "I'm on a deadline for this piece you see. If you're not able to see us today, I'm afraid the feature will have to go ahead without your input. Just that of your competitors." He dropped a few names that had cropped up in the course of his researches the night before, and Rochefort's expression soured.
"You'd better come in."
Hiding their sense of nervous triumph, d'Artagnan and Aramis walked past him into the hallway. It was a grand house, a wide staircase stretching up before them and several rooms opening off the reception area. Searching the place would be hard, d'Artagnan realised with a sinking heart. He hadn't realised from Porthos' blurry photograph quite how big it was.
"This way." Rochefort led them into the first room on the right, which proved to be a sitting room. It was ostentatiously decorated, with gilt fittings and velvet drapes, and d'Artagnan had to struggle not to wrinkle his nose.
"What a gorgeous room," Aramis said brightly. "You have a very lovely house sir."
"Thank you." Rochefort nodded slightly, untensing a little at the entirely unwarranted praise. "Forgive me if I don't offer you refreshment, but my housekeeper has the week off." He folded his hands and ushered them to a couch. "Shall we begin? I can't spare you much time I'm afraid."
"May I take some photographs?" Aramis asked, producing his camera. "Background, you understand. For the spread."
"Of course." Rochefort waved careless permission, then looked up sharply as Aramis walked to the door. "Oh, you mean - er - yes, yes of course. Please don't go upstairs though. I would like to retain some privacy. I'm sure you understand."
"Naturally." Aramis gave a half bow and went out, contriving to pull the door mostly to behind him. He looked upwards and sighed. If Milady was here, she would almost certainly be upstairs, particularly given Rochefort's explicit restriction. He wondered how likely the stairs were to creak if he tried to sneak up. Then again - a house this size - there was almost certainly a back stair, perhaps from the kitchens. And no staff on the premises to see him.
Aramis made a show of taking several shots of the entrance hall and staircase, just in case Rochefort was watching, then wandered down the passage until he was out of sight of the doorway. He opened a door on what turned out to be a dining room, and spotted another door on the far side.
This proved to lead to the kitchen, and after a couple of false starts involving a pantry and a utility room Aramis found a door that opened onto a narrow staircase leading up, and gave a mental cheer. All was quiet from the front of the house, and hoping that d'Artagnan was keeping Rochefort occupied, he started to climb.
On the first floor, Aramis gave up all attempts at subterfuge and hurried along the hallway opening doors to each side as quietly as possible. He knew he should be searching more thoroughly, but he also knew it wouldn't be long before he was missed, and in any case he suspected Milady would not be the kind of person to be hiding in a cupboard.
As it turned out, he was right. As he took the handle of the final door on the left, it abruptly turned under his hand, and the door was wrenched inward. He found himself face to face with a striking dark-haired woman, and for possibly the first time in his life, was rendered almost speechless.
"Ah - I, er - good morning, er - my apologies madam, I was looking for the bathroom." He backed away, and she followed him out, looking furious.
"Who are you? What are you doing here? Are you a friend of his?" The way she spat 'his' suggested that several days living under Rochefort's roof had not endeared him to her.
"I, ah, I'm a photographer, my name is Aramis. We're here to do a feature on - your husband, is it?"
Too late, Aramis knew by her expression he'd fucked up. Members of the press - they'd be sure to know her face. And if they were really here to do a feature on Rochefort, they'd know he wasn't married.
He knew too, that his own expression had given away entirely too much. He was debating whether to turn and run for it, or to shove her back into the room and try and block the door, when she produced a small gun from the folds of her skirt and pointed it at him.
Aramis gave a nervous laugh. The gun was small, gold and decorative, and looked like an ornament.
"Now madam, you don't fool me. That's a cigarette lighter if I'm not mistaken." He forced a smile.
She moved the gun - fractionally - to one side and fired. Splinters of wood exploded out of the nearest doorframe and Aramis ducked.
"He won't help you." She jerked the gun impatiently. "Now move."
"What the hell?" Rochefort got to his feet as the door swung open to admit Aramis, walking sheepishly ahead of the gun-wielding Milady.
Rochefort had been jumpy ever since the loud bang from upstairs a few minutes ago. He'd told d'Artagnan it must have been his cat knocking something over, but had been casting frequent glances towards the ceiling and asking with increasing urgency where d'Artagnan's friend had got to.
D'Artagnan had placated him as best he could, but he too had been getting worried about Aramis. The thick walls of the house had muffled the sound, but even so it hadn't been the thump of something hitting the floor - plus a surreptitious glance around at all the velvet furnishings devoid of cat hair suggested it was extremely unlikely Rochefort owned one in the first place.
Now, Aramis gave him an embarrassed grimace, and sat next to him on the sofa while Milady stood over them with the gun.
"What are you doing?" Rochefort's voice rose in alarm. "Are you insane?"
"He saw me." She gestured at Aramis with the gun. "I had to take measures."
"Why didn't you stay out of sight?" Rochefort demanded. "I told you to lock your door!"
"I heard him searching the rooms," Milady retorted. "It was obvious he knew I was here."
Rochefort spun round and glared accusingly at d'Artagnan. "Did you?"
D'Artagnan hesitated, then nodded. "Sorry, there's actually no article," he added with some satisfaction as Rochefort's inflated accounts of his own importance had been getting on his nerves.
"You're supposed to be dead," Aramis pointed out, looking at Milady with some curiosity. At first glance he'd never have paired this dangerous and elegant looking woman with Athos, but then he remembered his first encounter with both had involved them pulling a gun on him, and revised his opinion slightly.
"You're in deep shit," d'Artagnan added. "Trying to get your own husband locked up for your non-existent murder?"
"He attacked her," Rochefort put in desperately. "She's been hiding here in fear for her life! He doesn't know she's here, does he?" He frowned. "How did you know?"
"She was seen," was all Aramis would say. Milady gestured impatiently.
"Save it," she snapped at Rochefort, who was still babbling excuses. "It's too late for that. If Athos knows I'm here, I have to go. The only question remains what to do with the witnesses."
"What?" D'Artagnan sat up. "What do you mean?"
She sneered at him. "What do you think I mean? It's not going to involve a pay-off, either." She raised the gun and Rochefort squeaked.
"You can't do it here!"
"Why not? Afraid the blood will clash with your appalling taste in soft furnishings?"
"You'll incriminate me! I agreed to hide you, not to be party to cold-blooded murder!"
"Too late to be squeamish, you're in this up to your neck." Milady turned back to d'Artagnan and Aramis. "Who else knows you were coming here?"
"The police," said Aramis, at the same time d'Artagnan said "Athos."
She smirked. "You're lying. If you'd told the police they'd be here by now. And Athos would never involve them."
The voice from the doorway made everyone jump. Athos was standing there with a gun in his hand, covering Milady with a steady grip. Rochefort exploded with indignance.
"Is this open season on my house? How the fuck did you get past the gates?"
"Oh, a little thing like an electronic lock wouldn't stop him," said Milady. She sounded mocking, but also slightly amused. "His company probably fitted it in the first place."
"Let them go," Athos said, nodding at Aramis and d'Artagnan. "Shoot me if you must. If you can. But this isn't their fight."
"It became their fight when you chose to involve them." She stepped forward and aimed the gun right between d'Artagnan's eyes, whilst being careful to stay out of grabbing range. "Drop your gun, Athos. Or I'll kill them in front of you, one at a time."
D’Artagnan didn't dare take his eyes off Milady, who stared back at him with a cool resolve that suggested she was entirely willing to carry out her threat. He wondered distantly what Athos would do - whether he was, after all, capable of shooting his own wife, or whether he would just let her kill them.
After what seemed an eternity, Athos sighed and placed his gun on the polished floor.
"Kick it over here," she ordered. When Athos complied, she picked it up and held it out to Rochefort. "Cover him."
Rochefort took it nervously and turned the gun on Athos, who eyed his shaking hand and sweating brow with some misgivings. At least Milady was less likely to have shot him by accident.
"Well. This is neater," Milady said briskly. "Now we can dispose of the lot of you, and no one will be any the wiser."
Athos, Aramis and d'Artagnan exchanged a look, all of them wondering whether it would help them to tell her someone else knew, or whether they would simply be endangering Porthos.
"Any last requests?" she asked, looking over her shoulder at Athos.
"Yes, I'd like a divorce."
"Oh I think I can do better than that. How would like to be my late husband?" She turned to face him, finger tightening on the trigger, and with the immediate danger removed, Aramis tensed himself to spring.
"Everyone remain where they are!" cried a voice from the hall, and suddenly the door behind Athos was shoved wide open and armed police swarmed into the room.
In the confusion, Milady hastily dropped her gun into the cushions of a nearby chair. "Thank God you're here," she cried. "Arrest this man, he's trying to kill me!"
To her indignant surprise, two policemen took her by the arms. "Let go of me!"
Gingerly, d'Artagnan got to his feet and retrieved something from the coffee table. "This might help," he said, holding it out to the officer in charge. "I was taping the interview," he explained, to Milady's baffled glare. "It's still running."
The group was escorted outside, to the sound of Rochefort's increasingly loud protestations of innocence.
"What I don't understand," said Aramis as they emerged into the fresh air, "is who called the police?"
"That would be me," said a rather embarrassed sounding voice and they all turned to find Porthos standing on the driveway, behind a cordon of police tape. He held up his left arm, to reveal a pair of handcuffs with a metal drawer handle hanging from them. "Stick to radiators if I were you," he said to Athos.
Ducking his head to hide a smile, Athos rummaged in his pockets until he came up with the key and handed it over, together with Porthos' car keys. "I'm sorry," he murmured. "I thought it was for the best."
"Yeah, well. Sorry about calling the police," Porthos said. "I just figured - when you said they might be in danger - you know."
Athos nodded, and turned to face the policeman that had walked over to them. "Don't worry," he said. "I'll come quietly."
"What?" Porthos stared. "Hang on, they can't arrest you! You're innocent! We found her!"
The policeman gave him impassive eyes. "Oh, we've got plenty to charge him with sir. Possession of an illegal firearm, conspiracy to pervert the course of justice and resisting arrest, for a start." He lead Athos away, reading him his rights, and Porthos stared after them, stricken.
"But - " he faltered, and Aramis clapped him on the shoulder.
"It'll sort itself out," he said. "Athos hasn't actually killed anyone, after all. And I, for one, was very glad to see them."
"And once I've got this story out, they'll have a hard job finding a jury to convict him of anything," d'Artagnan added.
Porthos though, wouldn't be consoled. It had been him who'd called the police in, and as he watched Athos be handed into a police car and driven away, all he could think was how whatever happened, Athos was hardly likely to forgive him.
Two days passed. At around eleven in the morning of the third day, a man walked out of a police station at least twenty miles from the one it was widely known to the press he was being held in, and blinked in the winter sunlight, as if not entirely sure what to do with himself.
"Need a lift?"
Athos looked up and shaded his eyes. Porthos was standing a few feet away, leaning against the wall.
"How did you - ?"
Porthos smirked. "D'Artagnan's got friends in low places." He pushed himself off the wall and came over. "You okay?"
Athos considered the question. "I'm not sure. They're not pressing any charges," he said after a pause. "Rochefort's apparently singing like a caged bird, and at this stage I'm a complication they don't need. So - I'm free to go."
"That's good." Porthos frowned. Athos didn't look overly happy. "Isn't it?"
"Yes. I suppose so. It's just - what do I do now?" he gestured helplessly. "It's over, but I have no wife, no home, no job. I suppose I'm just - rather lost, right now."
"You still have a home though?"
Athos shook his head, shuddering. "I have no wish to ever see that house again. Anyway, chances are it's still covered in her blood. I don't imagine the police bothered cleaning up all that well." He sighed. "I suppose I could go to the flat."
"Or you could come home with me?" Porthos offered quietly.
Athos stared at him. "I'd have thought you'd had enough of me by now."
"Apparently not." Porthos sighed. "Look, I got you arrested. The least I can do is make you a cup of tea, right?" He smiled. "And offer you a bed. You look done in."
"Haven't been getting a lot of sleep," Athos admitted. He had dark shadows under his eyes, and his stubble had become straggly beard. "Apparently police cells don't agree with me." He looked like he was at the end of his tether, and Porthos' heart went out to him.
"Come here." Porthos stepped forward and put his arms around him. Athos flinched slightly, then seemed to give in. He leaned into Porthos' embrace with a breathy sigh of gratitude, and Porthos held him tight.
"Last time I did this you handcuffed me to a kitchen unit," Porthos muttered, after they'd been stood there for a good few seconds.
Athos gave a hoarse laugh. "Not this time. I promise." He rested his head on Porthos' shoulder and sighed. "I'm sorry," he whispered.
"Well, glad we cleared that up." Porthos patted him on the back. "Come on, let's go home."
Back at Porthos' flat, all was quiet. He ushered Athos into his bedroom, where clean bedding was neatly made up, and nodded to him.
"Get some rest. You look like you could sleep the clock round. Are you hungry?"
"No. Thank you." Athos wavered. "You don't have to do this, you know."
"I know." Porthos sighed. "Am though. Look, help yourself if you want a shower or anything. I'll leave a towel out."
Athos ventured a smile. "I definitely picked the right man to take hostage, didn't I?"
Porthos grinned at him. "You'd better believe it."
It was early evening, and dark, by the time Athos woke up. He'd slept in boxers and t-shirt, and was surprised by how soundly he'd stayed asleep. He ventured out to the bathroom, reassured by the quiet noises of occupation from the kitchen.
Twenty minutes later, showered and shaved to a more respectable level of unkemptness, he dressed and went to find Porthos.
"Something smells good."
Porthos looked up and grinned when he saw Athos standing in the doorway. "Only pizza and chips I'm afraid. Will that do you?"
"Sounds amazing." Athos smiled, and Porthos beckoned him in.
"Would you like a drink? There's beer, or wine, or tea if you'd prefer?"
"A beer would be good, thank you." Athos took the bottle he was offered and waited while Porthos hunted the opener out of the drawer. The front was held on with duct tape, and he blushed. "Sorry, that was my fault. I'll pay for the repair."
"Nah. Don't be daft." Porthos cracked open the bottle for him, and toasted Athos with his own glass of red. "You're looking better. Did you sleep okay?"
"Yes, thank you. I needed it. You're very kind."
Porthos smiled quickly and busied himself dishing up the food. He didn't want to examine his own motives too closely, suspecting it was more that he liked having Athos around than from any altruistic sense of charity.
When they'd eaten, Athos helped him wash up, and then leaned against the counter with a second beer, watching Porthos put the plates away. He sighed, and Porthos looked sideways at him, thinking it had been a happy sort of sound.
Athos nodded. "Clean, rested, well fed. I feel like a new man."
Porthos smirked. "Yeah, well. Don't get rid of the old one too quickly, I kind've liked him."
Athos laughed, and Porthos came to lean next to him. Athos looked up, and studied him thoughtfully.
"Are you sure there's - nothing I can do?" he said carefully. "To say thank you?"
Porthos held his gaze, guilty feelings of arousal warring with guilt in general. "You can't imagine I'd ever expect something like that of you?" he said quietly.
"What if - I wanted to offer it?" Athos breathed.
Porthos stared at him, hardly daring to acknowledge the sudden hope in his chest. "But - you're straight," he objected. "You're married. To a woman."
Athos drained his beer and set the bottle down with a click. "Not for much longer. Besides, what's that got to do with anything?"
"Well." Porthos was at a loss. "You assume, don't you? I s'pose."
Athos let his fingers slide over the back of Porthos' hand, and he shivered.
"I'm bi," Athos said softly. "And no, this isn't misplaced gratitude, and no, you wouldn't be my first."
Slowly they leaned closer to each other, until their mouths met in a searching press of lips, that gave way to the soft heat and slide of tongue. Porthos pushed a hand into Athos' hair, still damp from the shower and pulled him close, deepening the kiss, and for a long moment they clung to each other fiercely.
"Promise me this isn't because you feel obliged to me," Porthos panted when they finally broke off, cupping Athos' face in his hands and resisting the urge to drag him straight to the bedroom.
"I promise," Athos said, equally breathless. He gave a sudden smirk. "If I'm honest, it's got more to do with the fact I've wanted you inside me since pretty much the day I met you."
His words, delivered in an innocent undertone, took a second to register with Porthos' brain. From there, they took a lot less time to register with his cock, and he pulled Athos into another, harder kiss, pushing him back against the wall and pinning him there with his body.
Athos groaned, pressing into Porthos' arms with a desperate need. Porthos could feel that Athos was as hard as he was, and just as eager.
"Should we fast-track this to the bedroom?" Porthos muttered, one hand burrowing under Athos' shirt to curl around his hip, and kissing along his jaw.
"God, yes." Athos bunched his fists in Porthos' jumper and dragged him towards the door without further discussion.
Undressing hastily, they exchanged shyly appraising looks as they stripped, before settling into the rumpled sheets that Athos had not long vacated.
"Tell me what you want," Porthos breathed, taking Athos into his arms and kissing him over and over, full of joy at finally being able to do so.
"Will you fuck me?" Athos asked, his whispered plea making Porthos shiver with excitement.
"As many times as you like," he agreed, grinning. Emboldened by Athos' request he reached down and wrapped his hand around Athos' cock, making him groan quietly with pleasure. He was warm and firm in Porthos' hand and Porthos stroked him slowly, kissing Athos again as they both lay down full length and pressed against each other.
Athos spread his legs encouragingly and Porthos' hand dipped lower, exploring between them. "Please," Athos breathed, bucking into the intimate touch. Porthos swallowed, his own cock throbbing with need. He reached over to scrabble in the bedside drawer, with increasing frustration.
"Hold that thought," he told Athos, climbing awkwardly off the bed. Athos watched with amusement as Porthos scurried out of the door, his erection bouncing lewdly in front of him. From across the hall came the sounds of a bathroom cabinet being rifled, and a few moments later Porthos reappeared, triumphantly clutching a fistful of sachets.
"Knew I had some somewhere," he grinned, dropping back down to the sheets.
"Lucky." Athos smiled and took a condom from him, ripping it open and rolling it onto Porthos' cock himself. "God look at you," he murmured, half to himself. "You're incredible."
Porthos laughed, self-conscious but flattered, and pulled Athos into a heated kiss before slicking himself up from a sachet of lube. He pushed Athos' legs wide and lifted his knees, smiling as Athos wriggled down in the bed to a better position.
Porthos worked him open with shaking fingers, nervous of fucking up but spurred on by impatient arousal. He'd never in his life gone from first kiss to falling into bed with someone this quickly before, and was conscious that he had no real idea of what Athos liked or didn't like.
Athos though, seemed more than content with the way things were going, urging him on with hoarse pleas and self-conscious laughter until Porthos finally obliged, pushing into him with a slow care that left them both groaning.
Once they were both comfortable they fucked hard and fast, Athos encouraging Porthos deeper with every wild thrust. Muscles taut and skin beaded with sweat, they gasped in ragged breaths between kisses. It was a release of tension for both of them after the anxiety of the past few days, and also somehow a sealing of the trust that had built between them from such instinctive beginnings.
When Athos finally came, wrung out and blissfully exhausted, Porthos held him and kissed him as he shook in his arms, finding his own completion moments later and burying his cries in Athos' shoulder.
They disentangled themselves carefully, and cleaned each other up. Porthos' belly was wet with Athos' come, and Athos impulsively drew a heart in it with his finger, making Porthos wheeze with surprised laughter.
Porthos kissed him affectionately, pulling the duvet back over them.
"Was that alright?" Porthos asked, vaguely anxious that he'd rushed everything too much.
"It was more than alright." Athos smiled up at him, trailing his fingernails lazily over Porthos' chest. He was settled in the crook of Porthos' arm, and feeling very snug.
"Have you thought any more about what you'll do next?" Porthos asked, after they'd lain there in contended silence for a while. "You were talking before about going abroad, but - will you maybe stick around?" he said hopefully. "D'Artagnan's story's cleared you in the public eye better than the courts ever could."
Athos looked at him. "Depends."
"Whether there's anything for me to stick around for?" he ventured. Porthos nodded slowly.
"Yeah," he breathed. "Yeah, there is. If you want it."
They smiled at each other then, before kissing slowly and warmly.
"You're full of surprises, you know that?" Porthos murmured, after a while.
"Like what?" Athos looked amused.
"Well - gun-toting security specialist, ex-army, bloke who handcuffs his wife during sex - suppose I just assumed you'd want to be on top."
Athos looked at him speculatively, then broke into a smile.
"I never said the handcuffs were for her."