Title: Back To The Start
Summary: Porthos is feeling
"Your brothers are waiting."
As the faint noises of Aramis retreating up the ladder died away, Athos gave Porthos a look of mild reproach.
"You're too hard on him," he murmured.
Porthos gave him the kind of glare that would have had lesser men - or at least those who didn't know him quite so well - quaking in their boots.
"How can you forgive him so easily?" he blurted.
"I happen to think a man should be able to leave a life he doesn't want to live," Athos said equably. "Don't you? Or would you have me still be a Comte?"
"That's different and you know it," Porthos objected stiffly, then gave Athos a look that was almost pleading. "He left us," Porthos said plaintively. "He left me."
"I know." Athos patted him consolingly on the arm. "And suddenly you're hurting all over again. I do understand."
"I'm not hurting," Porthos lied crossly, shrugging him off. "I'm angry."
Athos leaned back against the wall and looked at him levelly. "If I'd left with Milady, all those years ago," he said quietly. "Would you have hated me as much?"
Porthos looked thrown. "I don't hate him," he muttered eventually.
"I know. I just wanted you to remember that as well." Athos straightened up and put an arm round Porthos' shoulders, now there seemed less risk of being punched for it. "Is there something else bothering you? You seem - distracted."
Porthos was silent for a moment. "This morning - in the battle." He hesitated again, then sighed. "When I saw you fall from your horse. I thought - I thought you'd been hit," he admitted, sounding choked up. "I thought I'd lost you Athos. Everybody leaves me."
Athos put his arms right round him, and for a moment Porthos let Athos hold him.
"No," Athos murmured quietly. "I'm still here. And - so is Aramis."
Porthos pulled back and gave him a mutinous look, but there was less pain in it than before. Athos half-smiled, and kissed him on the cheek.
A scuffling noise above heralded d'Artagnan's return down the ladder and they moved apart from each other, but Athos was pleased to note that for now, at least, Porthos looked a little happier. It was a start.