Title: No Smoke Without Fire (Part 10)
Rating: 15 (this part)
Summary: Written for the prompt of "Athos rescues Porthos from a burning building. Porthos is so grateful that he's driving Athos mad." Modern AU.
The next night Athos took Porthos to a restaurant he'd booked. As they walked in, Porthos looked round nervously at the expensive looking fittings and stuck close to Athos, feeling out of place.
"Think I'm a bit under-dressed," he muttered self-consciously. He had a smart blue shirt and casual jacket on, but a lot of the clientele seemed to be in black tie.
Athos looked round in surprise. "You look gorgeous," he smiled.
Porthos smiled back gratefully. "Doesn't count if you're picturing me without my clothes on," he whispered, as a waiter lead them to their table.
"If I was doing that we'd never have made it out the flat," Athos whispered back, and Porthos relaxed a little, feeling better.
His happier mood lasted as long as it took for him to pick up the menu, and he stared at it in dismay.
"See anything you fancy?" Athos asked, finding Porthos' foot under the table with his own and resting their ankles together.
Porthos was too preoccupied to rise to the suggestive tone in the question, and looked up helplessly. "I don't even know what half this stuff means," he said in an undertone.
Athos leaned over the table. "Well that's basically just lamb cutlets - roast pork - steamed chicken - " he moved his finger down the list, reading upside down. He smiled reassuringly. "It's good food here, they just dress it up in poncy language so they can stick a few quid more on the bill."
That made Porthos look at the prices and he nearly choked. "Christ. I'd have to work for a week to afford some of these courses."
Athos reached out and took his hand. "Well this is my treat. Have whatever you like."
"Will you order for me?" Porthos pleaded, feeling lost, and intimidated by the hovering waiter in a way he wouldn't have been in the roughest pub in town.
"Well I was going to have the steak?" Athos suggested, and Porthos nodded gratefully.
Athos looked at him. "If you don't like it here we can go somewhere else?" he offered.
"No, really, it's fine." Porthos mustered a smile, touched both by the offer, and the fact that Athos was still holding his hand in full view of the restaurant.
Athos sighed. "Told you I was no good at dating. Next time you can pick where we go."
That made Porthos sit up. "So - we're definitely dating then?" he ventured.
Athos just looked at him steadily and picked up the wine menu without answering, but not before Porthos had caught the smile.
Three courses and coffee later they walked back out into the cold, feeling much too warm and well-fed to notice the biting wind.
"Was it okay?" Athos couldn't help asking.
Porthos felt for his hand and held it as they walked along. "That was the best food I've ever eaten in my entire life," he said feelingly. "And if I have to sell a kidney to take us back there one day I'm thinking it might be worth it."
"Thank God for that," Athos smiled. "Although I'm happy to take you there any time you want if it preserves your organs."
Porthos snorted. "Don't worry, I'll keep the ones you're most attached to." He gave Athos an enquiring glance. "So. Where are we headed then?"
Athos looked shifty. "Well I've drunk a bit much to drive us anywhere," he said vaguely.
"And that wasn't remotely on purpose, I suppose?"
"What's that supposed to mean?"
Porthos sighed. "Nothing. Just that you don't seem especially keen on me seeing your place." He looked sideways at Athos. "I'm starting to think you've got a wife and six kids tucked away out there."
Athos laughed. "God forbid." He shook his head. "No, really, it's fine. We'll go out there tomorrow if that's what you want."
"I just want to see where you live." Porthos stopped walking and pulled Athos into his arms. "I want to know everything about you."
"None of it's very exciting," Athos muttered, but he smiled when Porthos kissed him.
Keeping to his promise, after lunch the next day Athos drove them out to his house. As they wound through the suburbs the properties they were passing got bigger and more imposing, and Porthos looked around with increasing surprise. It wasn't a part of the city he'd ever had cause to be in before, but he hadn't realised it was quite such an exclusive area.
He mentioned it to Athos, who shrugged. "A lot of them are divided up into flats now," he said and Porthos nodded, although he couldn't help feeling this was on an entirely different scale from his own tiny apartment.
Athos finally pulled onto a gravel drive and stopped outside one of the biggest houses they'd seen yet.
"Well. This is me," he said, making no move to get out. "Are you sure you want to - "
"Yes." Porthos gave him an exasperated smile. "Stop wriggling out of it. Fair's fair, you've seen my rooms. Now I want to see yours."
Athos gave him an unreadable look, but unbuckled his seatbelt and got out of the car.
Porthos followed him up the steps and waited while Athos unlocked the front door. As they walked into the hall beyond, Athos closed the door behind them and gestured around rather helplessly.
"Well. Make yourself at home."
Porthos looked at him, confused. Then looked around again, at the staircase leading up, the furniture in the hall, the open doors leading off. It still took a good few seconds more for the implication to sink in.
"Is this - all yours then?" Porthos asked hesitantly. Athos nodded, looking more withdrawn and tense than he had for a long time, but Porthos was too taken aback to notice.
"I mean - it's not flats? This whole house is - yours?"
Athos nodded again, then found his voice. "I inherited it," he said quietly. "I grew up here."
Porthos blinked. "Jesus Athos, how much is a place like this even worth?"
Another shrug. "I guess if I fixed it up a bit - maybe a million?"
Porthos almost choked. "You must be - " he swung round to stare at Athos incredulously. "You must be fucking loaded."
"Not really?" Porthos echoed. "The tax and upkeep alone must be - " he tailed off. "Investments, huh? Must be pretty fucking big ones. Because I looked into becoming a fireman remember. I know how much they're paid, and it's fuck all."
"I've got a bit put by," Athos muttered awkwardly, resigned to Porthos' outburst and not having the first idea how to handle it.
Porthos just stared at him. "When were you going to tell me?" he asked flatly. "Why didn't you tell me?" Feeling like he wanted to curl up and die with embarrassment, having been subjecting Athos to his glorified bedsit when he was used to something like this.
"I was going to," Athos said faintly, but Porthos glared at him, humiliation turning into anger.
"Really? When, exactly? Because now I come to think back you've been putting me off from coming here for fucking weeks."
Athos looked away. "I didn't want to make you uncomfortable," he said.
"Uncomfortable?" Porthos stared at him. "How fucking patronising is that?"
For the first time Athos glared back at him, finally stung. "So you're not then? Uncomfortable? You're fine with it all?"
"Yeah. Why wouldn't I be, you stuck up prick?"
They stared at each other, both shaking with tension. They'd never argued, not like this, not for real, with harsh words that left them feeling sick and angry.
Porthos tore himself away, trying to recover the situation. "Let's have a look at the place then," he said, trying to make it sound interested and only succeeding in sounding accusatory. He marched through the first doorway he came to, Athos trailing miserably after.
It was a dining room, holding a huge polished oak table and sideboard, big mirrors in gilt frames making it look bigger than it was, and a stone fireplace. An ornate fencing sword hung on the chimney breast, and Porthos nodded at it.
"Do you know how to use that then?" he joked, trying to lighten the mood.
"I do, actually," Athos replied absently, and Porthos snapped.
"What are you, some kind of millionaire playboy superhero? Is there anything you can't fucking do?"
Athos stood in the doorway, arms wrapped defensively around himself, watching Porthos with a broken expression. "Make people happy?" he whispered.
There was something so hopeless in his tone that Porthos finally turned to look at him, and saw the misery in his eyes. All the anger drained out of him in an instant, and he stared at Athos with guilty horror.
"Athos. Athos." He closed the gap between them in two strides, and the fact that Athos actually flinched as Porthos opened his arms to him made Porthos want to throw up. He enveloped Athos in a hug tight enough to take his breath away, and after a startled, disbelieving second, Athos tentatively returned it.
"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry." Porthos took a shuddering breath and kissed Athos' hair. "Forgive me, I never meant - Athos, I'm sorry."
Athos was a knot of trembling tension in his arms, but as he took in Porthos' stumbling words, he finally let himself cling to Porthos as hard as Porthos was holding on to him.
"I never meant to patronise you," he breathed. "I'm sorry Porthos, I fucked everything up, I just never knew what to say. I'm so sorry."
Porthos shook his head. "No, I'm sorry. I never realised I had quite such a giant chip on my shoulder." He pulled back and looked Athos in the face, feeling sick all over again as he realised how close Athos was to tears.
"I love you Athos," he blurted, and a second later winced in horror at his own timing. To say it now, when he'd just found out Athos was loaded - how would that look? Bad. It could only look bad.
But Athos was staring at him with what looked strangely like hope.
"Porthos?" he breathed. "Do you mean that?"
"Yes. God, yes. Every word. I love you." Porthos stared back at him, willing Athos to believe him.
"I love you too." Athos' lips formed the words, but no sound came out and he swallowed, frowning, about to try again when Porthos' mouth came crashing over his.
The kiss was messy and off centre and had too many teeth involved, but when they pulled back and looked at each other, this time it was like a cloud had been lifted.
They smiled, and at first it was tentative and unsure, but as they held each other's gaze it gradually got broader.
Porthos pulled Athos back into his arms, and this time the kiss was deep and heartfelt, and lasted a long time. When it was over they stayed leaning against each other in a fiercely secure embrace.
"Are we okay?" Athos whispered after a while. Porthos nodded, turning his head enough to kiss Athos on the cheek.
"Always," he whispered back.