AN: So I finally decided to write a sequel. And it's going to involve pirates ;) This is just to set up what's to come.

"No," Porthos ground out, eyes narrowing as he glared defiantly at Treville. "It's too soon."

Treville sighed, sitting back in his chair. He had expected no less from Porthos.

"Unfortunately the matter is not negotiable. The king knows who it was that discovered the plot against his life, and he trusts no others to track down the one assassin that escaped our rout of their base."

"How is it one managed to escape?" Athos asked quietly, his shrewd gaze meeting Treville's own. He knew Athos didn't like this mission either, but he wouldn't protest. Not that he could blame Porthos, of course.

"We're not sure. It's possible he somehow had word we were coming."

"Wouldn't that mean he was one of the men in charge of planning the operation?" Athos asked, raising an eyebrow.

"That's exactly what I'm worried about," Treville said heavily. "If one of the leaders truly did escape, he must be brought to justice immediately. We've had word that he's hiding out in Le Havre, waiting for a ship to carry him away."

He glanced at Porthos again. "It's a simple mission. Just find him and bring him back here. Whatever it takes."

"We've barely been back a week!" Porthos growled, arms crossed defensively across his chest. "He's not ready."

"I can speak for myself, thank you," Aramis said tartly, sitting forward and ignoring the baleful glare Porthos shot his way.

"You're not finished healing yet," Porthos protested angrily. Aramis raised an eyebrow at him.

"I'm perfectly capable of fulfilling my duties, Porthos," he said mildly.

"The captain promised us two weeks' leave," Porthos insisted, shooting a heated look Treville's way.

"I wouldn't be sending you if I had any other choice," Treville broke in at last, silencing Porthos with a stern look.

The trouble was that the big Musketeer was probably right. Aramis seemed to be back to his usual cheerful self, but there was a lingering stiffness to his movements that told Treville he wasn't ready to come off leave. Normally he would never drag him back in so soon, but after all that had happened the others would never go on a mission without him.

Which left Treville with no choice but to send them all.

"I'm sorry, Porthos, truly, but I cannot ignore the king's orders. He wishes his best Musketeers to track down the assassin and that's the four of you." He saw Porthos open his mouth to argue further and raised a hand. "My decision is final."

Porthos's mouth snapped shut and he glared mutinously at him, but he said nothing more. "When would you like us to depart?" Athos asked, breaking the tension.

"As soon as possible," Treville told him steadily, trying to ignore Porthos's simmering fury.

"Very well." Athos rose to his feet, gesturing for the others to follow.

For a long moment Porthos remained frozen in place, glare still firmly fixed on Treville, until Aramis laid a hand on his shoulder and he broke the fierce stare at last.

"Remember: whatever it takes," he called, rising to his feet to follow them out to the landing. Athos nodded but did not look around.

Treville sighed. He hated sending his men off angry or injured, but there wasn't much he could do. Being the captain was not something he took lightly, and he knew he would never forgive himself if something happened to Aramis, or any of them, as a result of his decision to send them too soon.

He watched the way Porthos seemed to hover protectively around Aramis as they left the courtyard and sighed again. He was not a religious man, but he offered a brief prayer that Porthos could keep Aramis safe.

It was all he could do.

And because I am a benevolent goddess, the first chapter of the sequel will be uploaded tonight after the second episode of the Musketeers airs in America. It's called "Never Shall We Die."