Title: First In Line
Summary: In which Athos and Porthos share a bath. That's - pretty much it.
AN: Follows on from episode 2, very minor spoilers.
The door to the bath-house swung open admitting a blast of chilly air and Athos sank deeper under the steaming water with a mutter of protest. Porthos banged the door closed again and grinned down at him.
"How do you always manage to get here first for the clean water?" he demanded.
Athos looked up innocently. "A masterly combination of stealth, skill and speed?" he suggested.
"Or you bribed someone else to stable your horse for you."
Porthos shook his head and started taking his clothes off. "I don't think there's an inch of me that's clean," he complained. "Half of me's all over brick dust and the other half's bloody river mud."
"And there in a nutshell is why I wanted to get here first," Athos muttered under his breath. He'd been in the same situation though and sympathised to a certain extent, if not quite enough to let Porthos have first go.
Aware he was being watched, Athos looked back up to discover Porthos standing over him, completely naked.
"Are you getting out then?"
Athos made a face. "Not entirely sure I can. To paraphrase your earlier point, I don't think there's an inch of me that's not bruised."
"Shift up then." Porthos stepped to the back of the tin bath and pushed at Athos' exposed shoulder.
"What? What are you doing?" Athos protested, pulling himself forwards as Porthos clambered in behind him, making the water slosh over the sides.
"What does it look like I'm doing?" Porthos asked. "I'm not standing around like a pillock waiting for you to let the water go cold. Takes too bloody long for them to heat up any more." He settled himself to his satisfaction at the back of the bath, and sighed with pleasure. "Ah, that's better."
Athos looked heavenwards. "Well. This is new."
Porthos grinned and reached out to draw him backwards. "Come here. It'll be more comfortable."
Athos lowered himself back gingerly until he was settled between Porthos' legs and resting against his chest.
"Please tell me you bolted the door?" Athos said.
Porthos grinned. "Couldn't say."
"Can't remember. Probably. What does it matter anyway?"
"I'd prefer not to be the laughing stock of the garrison if it's all the same to you."
"Suit yourself." Porthos settled his arms round Athos' waist and wriggled further under the water. Athos could feel Porthos' groin pressed snugly against the small of his back, and sighed. He hated to admit it, but it was quite comfortable like this.
For a few minutes they didn't say much, just enjoyed the luxury of being immersed in hot water, and each other's quiet presence. Porthos gradually rinsed himself off, with Athos amenably lending a hand for the bits he couldn't reach.
"You hurt?" Porthos asked quietly, watching Athos wince as he bent forwards.
"I'm fine," Athos said automatically, then conceded a smile when Porthos looked sceptical. "As long as I don't try and do anything stupid like, say, move."
Porthos dipped his hands in the water and smoothed them over Athos' back and shoulders. "Feels like half the palace fell on us," he agreed, repeating the motion slowly, enjoying the unaccustomed liberty to touch Athos like this. They'd lain together numerous times, but it was usually hard and fast and frantic, and more likely than not at least one of them would be drunk. It was a rare opportunity indeed to take such time with each other.
"I didn't thank you," Porthos said after a while. "For pulling me down back there. I could have been ripped to shreds by that explosion."
Athos turned round and looked at him with a slight frown. "You don't ever have to thank me," he murmured. "You know that."
"Doesn't mean I can't," Porthos said, then smiled. He bent forward, Athos leaned in to meet him, and they kissed each other softly.
A sudden banging on the door followed by someone irritably rattling the latch made them jump, and jerk hastily apart. Porthos grinned.
"Apparently I did lock it," he said.
"Lucky for you," Athos muttered, making Porthos grin all the wider.
"Come on. I've got a date with a flagon of wine, and you're buying." He hauled himself out of the water, dripping everywhere, and gave Athos a hand up.
Whoever it was outside banged on the door again. "Yes, yes, we're coming, hold your horses," Porthos bellowed, towelling himself off roughly.
Athos looked ruefully at the scum-laden water they were leaving behind them and had a moment to be glad he wasn't the next in line.