A/N: This is angst. Lots of angst. Don't read if you don't have chocolate at hand. For raouldehadleyfraser's prompt on the kinkmeme. I'm sorry, I wanted to write the fluff, but then this happened.
SPOILERS FOR THE LAST EPISODE. (Though I doubt you would be here if you haven't watched it yet.)
The tears are authentic. Aramis is certain of that. He needs only to think back to how distraught d'Artagnan had been when he really had found out for the first time, and he knows.
So is the anguish in the lad's voice as he pleads. I swear, Athos. I didn't know.
Athos had forgiven him immediately then, even claimed there was nothing to forgive, but d'Artagnan still held himself accountable for letting himself be seduced by Athos' wife.
That vile woman.
She dares ask d'Artagnan for help? Porthos knows it's good and well and according to plan, but something in him just flares at her gall. He is loath to shove the Gascon away when all he wants to do is exchange places with Athos. But he would really strangle her, crush the life out of her so her lips would stop dropping poisonous words.
It's going to happen any second now. A barely perceptible twitch of d'Artagnan's hand, a discreet widening of the eyes from Athos are all the cues they get, and d'Artagnan lunges.
The shot reverberates through the alley. Aramis winces in sympathy for the young man. He certainly seems to have gotten the tail end of this mission.
Athos shouts as d'Artagnan staggers backwards. Aramis can't see the boy, but his heart leaps in his throat.
There is genuine anguish in Athos' eyes and real anger in his voice.
He rushes forwards, Porthos doing the same as d'Artagnan falls. Both musketeers' eyes go immediately to the blood…
Mother of God, there is blood everywhere. No, no, no. It was supposed to be the arm, a flesh wound! Nothing to worry about.
Aramis spares the barest of glances towards Athos, standing there looking for all the world like a madman, his face torn between drunken rage and anguish. The hatred and disgust in his eyes is forced only until he looks at his wife, who stares with horror at the sight.
Treville had rushed forwards to catch d'Artagnan as he fell and he cradles him now. Porthos has never been much of a believer but he finds himself pleading, begging, crying.
Please God, let him be alright. Let him be fine. Don't let him…, he's so young. No, no, stay awake, stay awake, stay awake.
He does not realize his frantic litany has taken words and he is slapping the man lightly, just wanting to see those brown eyes again, to not let them close.
Aramis is doing something, anything, everything, to not let more blood gush out. He wishes he can just command the life back into their friend, to heal with nothing more than a touch or a word. He wishes they had never agreed to this. He wishes that wretched woman had taken an interest in him rather than the youngest member of their group. Then he could have been the one to get shot. He wishes he had joined Athos' side in the argument when the man had threatened to really kill the boy if he ever repeated his ludicrous plan to the captain.
For now Athos might have just carried out his threat. And in doing so killed them all.
The world does not contract to a point and stand still. There are voices everywhere, people talking, someone praying, a woman's dripping with hate and scorn. But Aramis hears and sees nothing but the red blood on his hands.
He is sure he got the all of it blood off. Rubbed his hands clean everyday, for hours. The blood of twenty loyal brave souls, all dead on a frozen ground in the middle of a haunted forest. The blood of his dearest friend, as he collapsed against him, dead by his hand. The blood which follows him still.
This time, this time it's the blood of a brother and Aramis knows. He knows his hands will never be clean again. Not after this.
There is a tremble in Athos' limbs which has nothing to do with the three bottles of wine he has drunk and everything to do with the sight in front of his eyes. He looks at the prone body on the ground, surrounded by friends. He looks at Porthos' head, bowed over their friend, he looks at Aramis' shaking hand covered in blood, and he almost turns the musket in his hand on himself.
If the wine has interfered with his aim, if his shot had pierced anything vital, if he has killed d'Artagnan, if he has murdered his little brother, he doesn't want to live.
He sees her standing so close and his breathes stutter to a stop. Once again… This time it isn't Thomas, this time it's d'Artagnan. Athos' vision blurs. He is a gaping wound and all the world is salt.
It is only Treville's glance which stop his hand. It tells him the young man in his lap is still breathing, that he is not dead, that there is life in him still.
In a single glance the older man rights Athos' world again. He stumbles backwards, only half in pretense as the sheer utter relief hits him.
There is a voice in his head which sounds comfortingly like that of the boy lying so very near, which reminds him that there's a mission to see through, an act to continue, a plan to complete. He fights every instinct, every fiber of his very being as he struggles to not rush to the side of his fallen brother. He tears his eyes away from the prone body, and fixes a burning gaze on her.
He doesn't have to pretend as he raises his pistol towards her with a growl of ferocious anger. Only a small part of him registers that he can't really kill her right then, and he's grateful that Treville stops his hand.
There can be nothing that goes wrong with the plan now, the plan d'Artagnan has bled for.
Aramis grabs him from behind as he tries to fight off Treville in his attempts at getting to her, and Porthos assists the captain in keeping him at bay. The bigger man yells at her to run, to get away if she wanted to live and she glances at the body lying on the ground.
Aramis tells her to take him, care for him if she wants, that he's a traitor to them anyway and Athos thanks God for a second that d'Artagnan is unconscious.
The words would have hurt far more than any bullet can. They have enough to apologize for when this is all over.
Porthos tightens his grip as Athos redoubles his efforts to get to his wife, not wanting her anywhere near their friend. He doesn't know if it is to stop Athos or himself from rushing to d'Artagnan as his limp body is lifted by her and put on to a cart.
They watch as she leads their wounded and helpless brother away and suddenly Porthos and Aramis have to physically hold Athos as he slumps down, his legs going slack. A sob tears through, it is difficult to tell which of them it comes from, and Aramis shudders as all three of them sink together on the ground, a mess of limbs.
Treville looks at the three of his best men collapsed together in a heap. Never has he seen them look so lost, so defeated.
Especially considering that their plan had worked without a hitch. So far.
O Lord in heaven, please have mercy on all of us. Watch over our brother. Let him be alright.
Thoughts would be welcome. Your reviews never fail to inspire. :)