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.
Heavy cloud had made the onset of darkness come early and as they pulled up outside Athos' house it felt like the middle of the night.
A light showed within, and Porthos had a second of hope that Athos was inside and unharmed, going about his business oblivious to the alarm Porthos had managed to create in his friends. But it was a flickering light, fading in and out, and Aramis went rigid.
"Fire!" He almost fell out of the car in his haste, shoving his mobile at d'Artagnan. "Call it in." He was already running towards the door, Porthos at his heels.
"I don't have a key," Porthos panted.
Aramis shook his head. "We may not need one, he never locks his fucking door." Sure enough the handle yielded to Aramis' hand and they piled into the hallway, yelling Athos' name.
Smoke filled the space, and Porthos put an arm over his face, already coughing. Flames were licking up the panelling and devouring the furnishings, but it wasn't as well advanced as it might have been, and Porthos remembered the timers.
Had Charon kept one back? Porthos realised with a sudden sick fury that Charon had used him as his alibi. All the time Charon had been sitting in Porthos' flat, smiling at him, telling him he was letting him off the hook - he'd known Athos' house was about to start burning.
D'Artagnan ran in behind them. "They're on their way. What do we do?"
"Split up," Aramis said. "If you find him, yell. If it gets too dangerous, get the fuck out. That's an order." Ignoring the fact that it was technically already too dangerous and that none of them should be contemplating this at all without full kit, particularly Porthos, an untrained civilian.
Aramis ran off towards the kitchen, and Porthos made for the stairs. He was afraid now that something else, something worse had happened to Athos, or why hadn't he answered their frantic shouting? More to the point, why hadn't he got the hell out when the house caught fire?
Maybe he wasn't at home, Porthos thought hopefully, flinching away as a curtain burst into flame next to him on the landing. Maybe this was just what Charon had said, a warning.
He fought his way forward against the thickening smoke into Athos' bedroom, finding it empty. He could hear Aramis and d'Artagnan shouting to each other downstairs, but it was all negatives. He ran out again, coughing fit to throw up, and moved down the hallway, checking rooms as he went.
He found him in the bathroom. Pushing the door open it caught against something that proved to be a pair of legs, and Porthos dropped to his knees with a strangled howl.
Athos was sprawled on the floor, face down and unmoving. For a terrified second Porthos thought he was dead, and had to force himself to calm down enough to feel for the pulse in his neck. To his huge relief he found it quickly, Athos' skin warm beneath his shaking fingers.
"Athos? Athos!" He tried to rouse him to no avail, then remembered the others, still searching through burning rooms downstairs.
"He's here!" Porthos yelled. "I've found him!" He leaned over Athos' body, quietly pleading with him to wake up. Porthos thought at first he'd been overcome by the smoke, but as he turned him carefully over he found to his horror Athos had a cut over one eye, and his face was covered in blood.
No wonder he hadn't run out when the building caught fire. He'd been knocked unconscious and left to burn.
Porthos gathered him into his arms, struggling to his feet with a strength born of anger. He wished he'd got Athos to teach him the proper lift now - he'd picked him up before when they'd been fooling around, but unconscious, Athos was an awkward dead weight.
He staggered down the stairs, feeling the wooden treads crack and splinter under his weight as the fire ate away at them.
In the hallway, willing hands appeared out of the smoke to help him, and together the three of them stumbled out of the house supporting Athos between them.
Sirens in the distance heralded the approaching fire engines, and Porthos realised the whole thing had only taken a few minutes. It felt like he'd been in there for years.
They crossed the road to a patch of grass and he laid Athos gently on the ground. He was still unconscious, and Porthos watched as Aramis tried to rouse him with no luck. D'Artagnan fetched a bottle of water from the car and carefully rinsed some of the blood away from his face.
"It's not a huge cut," Aramis said for Porthos' benefit. "Face wounds always bleed like a bastard," he added, seeing Porthos was staring at Athos' bloodsoaked shirt with a frozen fear. "He's breathing fine, that's the main thing. We found him in time. Thanks to you."
The clamour of two fire crews spilling out of their trucks surrounded them, and the siren of an approaching ambulance added to the racket.
"This is all my fault," Porthos said miserably, sitting on the damp grass next to Athos and clutching his unresponsive hand.
"Don't be daft," Aramis told him, resting a hand on his shoulder as d'Artagnan waved the ambulance crew over to them. "If it wasn't for you, things would be a lot worse, think of it that way."
"If I hadn't acted the way I did this wouldn't have happened," Porthos moaned. If he'd only done the right thing instead of trying to stand up for Charon, if he'd gone with Athos to the police, they might have had enough to keep Charon in custody. Even if they hadn't, Porthos would at least have stood a chance of being with Athos this evening.
Instead, because of him Athos had been alone and unhappy, before being attacked and left for dead. He got to his feet, tears making tracks through the streaks of dirt and smoke, as the paramedics lifted Athos onto a trolley.
"Will you go with him? To the hospital?" Aramis asked. To his surprise, Porthos shook his head.
"He won't want me there. Trust me. After this he'll never want to see me again." Porthos turned away and Aramis called after him.
"Where are you going?"
Porthos looked back grimly. "To find the man who did this."
Aramis almost took a step back at the dangerous look on his face. "Oh. Well. Don't do anything I wouldn't do," he murmured.
"Yeah. Let us know if you need an alibi," added d'Artagnan.
Porthos hesitated, feeling an overwhelming sense of sadness. He would probably never see them again. He looked over at where Athos was being lifted into the back of the ambulance, and took a shuddering breath.
"Look after him for me, yeah?" he said softly. Aramis nodded silently, and Porthos turned away, striding quickly off into the smoke.
Aramis and d'Artagnan exchanged a look, frustrated and confused. Aramis sighed and handed d'Artagnan his keys. "Here, take the car back. I'll go with Athos." He looked at his watch and winced. "Can you explain to Treville why neither of us will be on shift this evening?"
D'Artagnan nodded. "Call me when he comes round, yeah?"
"Yes, of course." To d'Artagnan's surprise, Aramis gave him a quick hug before climbing into the ambulance. They slammed the doors and he watched it drive away, sirens already screaming.
It took Porthos less than two hours to find Charon.
He took a bus heading back into the centre, knowing that he could have asked the others for a lift, but not wanting to involve them. He wasn't yet sure exactly what he was going to do when he found Charon, and he was afraid of incriminating anyone else if he went too far. Every time he pictured Athos' bloody form, lying so frighteningly still on the grass, he felt like he would be capable of choking the life out of Charon with his bare hands.
Porthos banged on doors of mutual acquaintances - he found he couldn't think of them as friends any longer - until he found someone willing to tell him where Flea was currently living, and marched round there with a cold purpose.
"Porthos!" Flea stepped back in alarm as Porthos shoved the door of the squat wide open and strode past her.
"Where is the little weasel?" he demanded, shoving doors open until he found the room they were occupying. Charon, to his growing fury, didn't even look surprised to see him, just glanced up from his dinner with a bored expression.
"Wondered how long it would be before you turned up."
"You bastard." Porthos found he was shaking. "You absolute bastard."
Charon got to his feet, looking resolute. "I told you Porthos. I don't like people who cross me."
"You could have killed him!"
Charon raised an eyebrow. "Meaning I haven't? Oh well."
"When did you turn into a killer, Charon?" Porthos asked sadly.
"Maybe it was when you turned your back on me." Charon folded his arms. "Enjoy your fireman Porthos. Be glad he made it. And stay out of my life. You can consider this a warning."
Porthos stepped forward with a determined expression. "Yeah? Well you can consider this a citizen's arrest." And he drew back his fist and punched Charon full in the face.