Written for the following prompt from Zoe Maria over at the beta branch:
The musketeers are captured. Athos is bored, Porthos amused, and Aramis just wants them to avoid his face. d'Artagnan thinks they're all insane.
d'Artagnan hates waking tied up. Not that that's happened many times. Only once, in fact. That time he'd woken up tied to a hundred barrels of explosives. It had been suitably unpleasant, and had had him waking up in a panic for a week after.
He can't quite decide whether this is worse. He's not tied up to explosives, but there is rather a large quantity of wicked looking weapons of various sorts hanging on the walls and from the ceiling of the dusty, dimly lit room where he and the musketeers are currently being held captive.
"Athos. Athos!" he hisses. He kicks Athos' foot. Athos stirs, opening his eyes with a moan.
"Yes, d'Artagnan, what is it?" he slurs, sounding hung over.
d'Artagnan stares at him. "We've been kidnapped!"
Athos blinks lethargically, looking around. "Yes, it appears we have. I guess we'd better wake the others. Porthos! Aramis! Wake up!" He kicks at their feet.
Aramis jerks awake, then Porthos.
"Gentlemen, it appears we have been kidnapped," Athos declares.
"Ah. Well, this should be fun," Porthos says with a half smile. "I do hope they're smarter than the last ones."
"I don't," Aramis chimes in. "It's the stupid ones that are the most entertaining."
"I disagree. The smart ones are a better fight," Porthos counters.
d'Artagnan gapes at them. "Have you all lost your minds? Does the fact that we have, in fact, been kidnapped not concern you?"
Athos shrugs. "Not really."
"Naw," Aramis says.
"Not in the least," Porthos adds.
d'Artagnan looks up toward the ceiling. "Lord, help me. I am surrounded by lunatics."
"Oh, my. The boy appears to be genuinely worried. Dear d'Artagnan, have you no faith in us? We are rather experienced with this sort of thing," Aramis says nonchalantly.
"As much as it pains me to say, Aramis is right. We've gotten ourselves out of far worse," Porthos agrees.
It's at that moment that d'Artagnan notices that Athos' chin has fallen to his chest, his eyes shut.
"Athos. Athos!" he calls urgently.
Athos' head snaps up and shoots a glare in d'Artagnan's direction. "Can't you see that I'm trying to get some sleep?"
d'Artagnan blinks. "I thought-I thought you'd fallen unconscious. I was worried that you were injured."
"No, d'Artagnan. Bored, maybe, but not injured. Now would you let me sleep?" Athos grumbles.
Unfortunately for Athos, it is at this moment that their kidnapper comes into the room. He sighs as his attempt to sleep is foiled once more. Pathos and Aramis exchange a glance, and both look like they're fighting back laughter.
The kidnapper certainly does not strike d'Artagnan as amusing in any way. He's large and brutish, with a scar down one side of his face and a glare that shoots daggers.
"I see my guests are finally awake," he booms. "Glad to see it." He glares toward Porthos and Aramis. "Is something funny?"
Aramis puts on a sober expression and shakes his head vehemently. "Oh, no. Not at all."
The kidnapper cracks his knuckles in a foreboding manner. "Well, down to business. It has come to my attention that you recently transported some valuable documents. I want you to tell me what was on those documents."
Porthos snorts. "Now that-that is funny. You really think we'd be allowed to read classified documents?"
"No. But I don't believe that would stop you."
Aramis raises an eyebrow. "He's got a point there," he says out of the corner of his mouth. "However, we did not read those documents, so we can't help you."
"I think you read those documents, and that you will help me, with a little persuasion." He looks at the four men before him, as if deliberating something very important. d'Artagnan shudders to think what that something might be.
"Which of you should I start with?" the kidnapper wonders aloud.
"If you start with me, please avoid the face. That's how I charm the ladies," Aramis says with a grin.
d'Artagnan is convinced now. He has been kidnapped, along with three completely insane men. Athos looks bored out of his mind, Porthos is chuckling, and Aramis is worried about his face. They should be taking this seriously, but they're treating it like it's a joke.
The kidnapper turns to d'Artagnan. "You've been awfully quiet. And you're much younger than the rest. Greener."
d'Artagnan swallows. "Do not mistake my youth for weakness," he says, successfully keeping his voice from betraying his fear. Aramis actually looks impressed.
The kidnapper laughs. "You're a cheeky one, eh? Well, let's see if this changes anything."
What happens next must take no more than a few seconds, but it seems like an eternity. The kidnapper pulls a pistol from his belt, takes aim, and pulls the trigger. d'Artagnan feels the bullet before he hears it-a white hot pain tearing into his shoulder. He screams in pain, black spots dancing before his vision. The other three are on their feet in an instant-which further confuses d'Artagnan's already addled mind-and make quick work of dispatching the kidnapper. Athos kneels and cuts d'Artagnan's bonds.
"Porthos, help me get him up. We've got to get out of here," Athos commands.
Porthos bends down and pulls d'Artagnan's good arm around his shoulders.
"We must go, d'Artagnan. Have you got your legs beneath you?" Porthos doesn't wait for the answer, standing up and pulling the younger musketeer up with him. d'Artagnan lets out a cry as his wounded shoulder is jarred. Then, taking a deep breath, he pulls gently away from Porthos. "I can walk; it's not my leg that's injured." His words are tight with pain.
They're in a cellar of some kind, and so must go up a flight of stairs. d'Artagnan does okay at first, but he's losing a lot of blood. Overcome with dizziness, he stumbles on a step, falling forward. Porthos catches him under his good arm and hauls him up, bearing most of d'Artagnan's weight as they go up the rest of the steps.
There are men waiting for them at the top, about a dozen. Aramis and Athos fight them off, clearing a path so that Porthos and d'Artagnan can get into the upper room. Porthos ducks out from under d'Artagnan's arm, leaving him leaning against the wall.
"I can't very well fight off a bunch of revolutionaries if I'm too occupied keeping you on your feet, now can I?" Porthos says, standing protectively in front of the injured musketeer. "You'd best draw your gun; you'll probably need it."
d'Artagnan does so, though from his place behind Porthos, there's not much he can do. He manages to fire off a shot, hitting one of the assailants. The musketeers are holding their own against the anarchists, and d'Artagnan is thinking that they probably would be out of there by now if it weren't for him, when something connects with the side of his head and everything goes black.
Aramis is in combat with one of the rebels-though, it's not really a fight, with Aramis merely toying with the boy-when he sees d'Artagnan drop like a rock. Damn.
"Porthos!" he roars. "d'Artagnan is down! We've got to get him and get out!"
Porthos looks over his shoulder and lets out a curse. "Cover me!" he shouts back. Athos and Aramis immediately begin thinning out the men around the other two. Porthos scoops up d'Artagnan and hauls him over a shoulder, as easily as if he were a sack of potatoes. "Damn. I'm going to get blood on my shirt."
It's hard to tell because they're in an enclosed space, and they're moving, and frankly they all look the same, but Aramis counts six remaining men between the musketeers and the exit. The musketeers are down to two and a half, what with Porthos having to haul about an unconscious d'Artagnan. The odds have been worse. His sword connects with flesh. Five men, now.
Porthos makes it out. Night has fallen, and rain is falling in sheets. Aramis and Athos fend off the attackers, giving Porthos time to heave d'Artagnan up onto a horse, then mount behind him.
"Come on!" Porthos calls.
Aramis and Athos quickly oblige. Athos cuts the ropes of all but two horses and sends them running into the night, then swings up onto one of the two that are left. Aramis is about to follow suit when Athos shouts, "Look out!"
Aramis turns in time to stop a sword separating his head from his body, but not fast enough to deflect the other sword that cuts across his leg, mid-thigh. He lets out a shout of pain, running his sword through the chest of the offending radical.
"Aramis!" Porthos shouts.
Aramis mounts his horse with a fair bit of difficulty, gritting his teeth in pain, and kicks her into action. "Peace, Porthos. Merely a scratch! There's a village nearby; we need to get there as quickly as possible."
The musketeers ride into the night. A few of the remaining kidnappers try to chase them down, but give up quickly. On foot, especially in this weather, they don't stand a chance and they know it. Aramis's leg is throbbing, and he can tell it will probably need stitches. Fantastic. It's begun to rain sideways, and Aramis struggles to see Porthos ahead of him, and wonders if Athos is having the same problem seeing him. He sighs. It's going to be a long night.
They stumble on the village a good half hour later. It's small, but there's an inn where they can hopefully take care of the injured musketeers and then sleep. Porthos slides off of his horse and gently lifts d'Artagnan off. Athos helps Aramis off of his horse and supports him to the inn.
Athos bangs loudly on the door. "Let us in!" he shouts over the rain.
A few seconds pass and a light can be seen in one of the upper windows. In a few more seconds, the door swings open, revealing a sturdy woman with a candle in one hand and a large butcher knife in the other. She looks like she's ready to fight; she's glaring, her eyes steely, every muscle tensed . Then she takes in the sight of them-d'Artagnan limp in Porthos's arms, Aramis leaning heavily on Athos, the lot of them soaked through to the bone-and her expression softens. She steps away from the door.
"You best get inside," she says.
The musketeers gratefully enter the humble inn. Aramis gets straight to the point.
"Madam, do you have a table where I might work on my injured friend?"
She looks at d'Artagnan, whose skin has become a nasty pale grey. She points with her thumb. "Through here." She clears some bowls off of a large table and Porthos lays d'Artagnan gently on the wooden surface.
Aramis is already preparing to work, rolling his sleeves up. "I need as many candles as you can spare, and a bowl of water and a cloth. If you please."
The woman nods and scurries off. Athos puts a hand on Aramis's shoulder. "What about your leg?"
"My leg can wait," Aramis replies. To appease the older musketeer, though, he tears off a strip of his shirt and binds the wound tightly. "There. That'll do for now."
He takes out his dagger and cuts d'Artagnan's shirt, then gingerly pulls it away from the wound. The woman returns with another candle and a bowl of water, a cloth draped over one arm. She sets the things on the table.
"I'll go get more candles," she says, and disappears again.
"Athos, take that candle and bring it here," Aramis commands. Athos quickly obeys. Aramis sets to work wiping the blood away so he can better see the wound.
"Porthos, your flask."
"My-my flask? Why my flask?" Porthos protests.
"Because I need to clean the wound, and I know your flask is full. You can refill it later. Now hand it over."
Porthos glares and reluctantly hands Aramis his flask. Aramis opens it and pours the alcohol on d'Artagnan's shoulder. The young man flinches and a moan escapes from his lips.
"I've got to take the bullet out, or it could get infected. Athos, bring the light closer." Aramis pours alcohol over his blade. "Porthos, you hold him down."
The woman is back in the room now, and Aramis waves her over. "I need as much light as possible. Could you hold that closer? Thank you."
He takes a deep breath. It's not like this is his first time patching up a friend. Far from it, in fact. It's just the first time he's had to seriously patch up d'Artagnan. They've all become rather protective of him, and, well...It was going to happen eventually. He's a musketeer now. It comes with the territory. Besides, a good scar is always a hit with the ladies.
He examines the wound a moment before sticking the point of his dagger in. d'Artagnan lets out a scream, his back arching.
"Porthos!" Aramis barks, even as Porthos puts his weight on d'Artagnan.
"Can't I just-you know." Porthos punches his hand with his fist.
"No, you cannot. He's already had a good knock on the head today. Just-hold him!"
Aramis goes back to his work, digging the knife about. d'Artagnan cries out, his hands clenching and unclenching, writhing about as well as he can. Aramis is grateful that Porthos is keeping his torso still enough for him to work. After another moment, he carefully brings the knife point up, and grabs something with his other hand-the bullet. He grins triumphantly. d'Artagnan's stopped moving about, his cries reduced to whimpers.
"We're not done yet, my friend," Aramis murmurs, serious again. He cleans away the fresh blood and takes out his needle and thread. d'Artagnan gasps sharply as the needle goes into his skin, but other than that is quiet through the procedure. Aramis isn't sure this is a good thing. He finally finishes.
"Madam, you've done so much for us already, but I must ask one more thing. Is there a bed where he could sleep? He's in need of some good rest," Aramis says.
She nods, and this time Athos scoops up the younger musketeer and follows the woman through the inn. Aramis sits heavily. His leg, which he'd ignored up until this moment, is throbbing now, sending little waves of pain through his leg. He undoes the binding, wincing a bit.
"Porthos, would you mind holding a candle for me just a bit longer?"
"Are you sure you're up to it, mate? You look exhausted. I could-I could do it."
"No!" Aramis insists quickly. Porthos looks a bit hurt at that, actually, and Aramis feels a bit guilty. "Not that I don't trust you. It's just…I don't trust you. Well, I don't trust anyone actually. I'd rather do it myself is all."
Porthos sighs, picking up his flask from the table and passing it to Aramis.
"Thanks, friend," he says. He grins broadly. "Cheers!" He takes a swig before pouring some on his leg. He hisses in pain and wait a moment for it to pass.
"Are you sure you've got this?" Porthos asks.
"I'll be okay," Aramis answers. He grits his teeth as he pushes the needle into his skin. His breath comes quickly from between clenched teeth as he carefully stitches the cut on his leg. By the time he's finished, his brow is slick with sweat and his hands are shaking. He slumps in the chair, closing his eyes. He lets out a long sigh.
"Will you be needing rooms too, Monsieurs?" the woman asks.
Aramis nods gratefully and Porthos helps him to his feet. Now that the exhaustion has set in, he finds himself unable to put any weight on his injured leg, and awkwardly hops after the woman, Porthos supporting him.
"Are you sure you can spare the beds?" Aramis asks.
"Oh, we've not had anyone through here in days. Didn't'ya wonder why your companion didn't wake anyone up? Not a single guest here tonight, and my husband's very nearly deaf. It's not like you're taking advantage. The handsome one-Athos was it?-assured me you'll be paying in the morning.
"Of course," Porthos says. He guides Aramis into the first open room and helps him sit on the edge of the bed. "Anything you want to say to me?"
Aramis looks thoughtful for a moment before shrugging. "Not that I can think of, no."
"What, no 'Thank you, Porthos, for helping me to my room?'"
Aramis snorts. "Do you ever thank me when I half-carry your drunk self all about the town? No. Being your caretaker is a thankless job, Porthos."
Porthos shakes his head. "Good night, Aramis," he says as he shuts the door.
Aramis lies down, not even bothering to take his boots off. He's fast asleep in moments.