Hello, everyone, I'm back from the dead with a pretty cool announcement!

SO I got an interesting Christmas gift early! I was actually approached by mcguires63, who happened to save the lost chapters at the time of their publication before they were The Lost Chapters™. so without further ado, here's the missing chapters back up!

A HUGE thank you to mcguires63, without whom these chapters would still be lost!

The first thing he'd thought he'd feel was unmitigated relief.

Of course, he was wrong.

Exhaustion that d'Artagnan hadn't been aware he carried suddenly crashed over his shoulder, like a tidal wave meaning to drown him. Every ache and injury in his body was instantaneously determined to make itself known, throbbing in time with d'Artagnan's heartbeat, which filled his ears with white noise and blocked out the words of his companions. Ba-dum. Ba-dum. Ba-dum.

Swallowing dryly and realizing then just how much his throat hurt, d'Artagnan tried to blink the blurriness from his eyes; instead of banishing it, it only grew. The inside of his ears hurt terribly and his head was suddenly all too happy to beat to the base of a drum. The world decided in that moment to start swaying violently, sending d'Artagnan nearly to the ground as he tried desperately to steady himself; the rocking was off-setting, and d'Artagnan's soles burned as he shuffled over the rocks to get his footing back.

Distantly he was aware, somewhere in the back of his mind, that his friends were calling for him. Did they sound concerned? D'Artagnan couldn't tell. He just knew that his stomach was tossing and the world was rocking and that he was really, really sore.

His knees were wobbly and he finally couldn't keep up with the rocking anymore as the pace of it sped up. Feeling his legs buckle beneath him and bracing for the inevitable, painful acquaintance he'd make with the stone, he shut his eyes tight-

only to find himself being drawn gently to a firm chest, his face pressed against coarse fabric. Although slightly stifling, it was more comforting than anything, and he leaned into the embrace willingly. The scent hanging around him was of Porthos, and without taking his face from the jacket, he murmured, "P'rthos." It wasn't a prayer nor a question, just a simple acknowledgement that d'Artagnan knew where he was and with whom.

A vibration under his cheek. "Aye, d'Artagnan. I have you."

And if Porthos sounded uncharacteristically tender, d'Artagnan was too exhausted to really note it.

"Let me...check...over...him...garrison...Treville…done." It sounded distorted and strange to the Gascon's ears, and he found that couldn't care much at the moment about anything. Porthos was holding him up and he was safe, so what else did he have to worry about? His body felt numb. He couldn't feel his fingers. Was he standing?

No, Porthos was holding him up. Why? Had he fallen?

Suddenly alarmed, he thrashed, and heard a stressed exclamation from above him. "D'Artagnan! Easy, easy!"

And suddenly the reality of the situation slammed into him like a brick wall as his body once again forcibly reminded him how injured he really was. Unable to contain a strangled moan, d'Artagnan sagged back into his friend's arms, not sure what was burning but knowing something had to be because he was in so much pain-

And then another voice whispering in his ear, and a hand in his hair. "Shh, d'Artagnan. It's alright. You are safe."

An image of himself tied down to gunpowder, Vadim leering at him rose, unbidden, to his mind's eye and he subconsciously let out a small, distressed noise. Instantly ashamed of himself for showing such weakness in front of men he so respected, but he found that it didn't really matter at the moment.

"It's alright, d'Artagnan," came to him again. Softly. A hand slide through his hair soothingly. "Rest."

And so he did.

Aramis had a certain sense about him- a sort of instinct- when it came to his friends and injuries. And he supposed that when it began to scream at him he should have listened instead of carefully inspecting Athos and Porthos discreetly then dismissing it, but truly, he had been elated that the mission was finally over and d'Artagnan could come home.


Actually, his real mission had just begun.

Because when d'Artagnan's face suddenly- far, far too suddenly- paled until it was positively ashen, Aramis knew, knew that he had been a blind fool to disregard that instinct. D'Artagnan began to sway dangerously, his eyes darting around to things that weren't there. He spread his arms, as if to steady himself, and took stumbling steps to the right and left, like he was rocking with the earth.

And Aramis knew that he really, really, really shouldn't have ignored that instinct.

Observing keenly that d'Artagnan's knees were starting to tremble, he barked at Porthos, who was nearest: "Porthos! Catch him!"

The larger man, immediately knowing who Aramis was talking about, lunged, supporting d'Artagnan and pulling him to his chest as the young man crumpled. Porthos cupped the back of d'Artagnan's head in the palm of his hand so that it wasn't rolling, pressing d'Artagnan's pain filled face into his jacket. D'Artagnan's limbs lost some of their tenseness at this, relaxing further into Porthos' arms.

They hadn't known this young man long- three months, since the middle of winter to the start of spring- but he had managed to bury himself deep into their hearts and refused to let go. Aramis felt concern rising too quickly in his throat, and it took too much effort for him to force it back down to the depths from which it came.

He had to concentrate.

He only barely heard d'Artagnan whisper something to Porthos, who answered back with a calm but still worry laced, "Aye, d'Artagnan. I have you."

D'Artagnan fell frighteningly silent, and Aramis came forward to inspect his wounds. Exhaustion was one, plain and simple, but as Aramis gently prodded at d'Artagnan's body he found that one shoulder was terribly inflamed with what Aramis predicted was a dislocation; moving down, he felt along the young man's ribs, which shifted under his gentle pressure. D'Artagnan let out a breathless moan. Broken, then, perhaps badly bruised.

Moving down d'Artagnan's arms, he felt nothing amiss there and left them alone. "I can't look him over completely now," Aramis said to his companions, whose faces were coated in anxiousness. "He's got a few broken ribs and a dislocated shoulder, and many bumps and bruises, but I think he'll be okay."

"M'hff." D'Artagnan's muffled voice spoke for the first time, and Porthos gently drew d'Artagnan's face from his coat. Bleary eyed, d'Artagnan glanced around a few moments and then, his face growing alarmed, began to struggle.

"D'Artagnan!" Porthos cried as he tried to maintain his grip on all of d'Artagnan's gangly limbs, "easy, lad, easy!"

D'Artagnan stilled, panting, his eyes too bright. Aramis sighed and palmed his forehead, already dreading the heat that he found there.

"And he's a fever that's climbing. I can't treat him here."

"Mff…" D'Artagnan groaned incoherently, and it was then Aramis spotted the gleam of blood against their friend's temple. Lithe fingers softly felt at it, and d'Artagnan jerked his head away when he reached a gash on the crown of his head. There was no bump.

"And...most likely a concussion," Aramis sighed, and Athos let out a stressed breath between his lips.

"'Mis...'Thos…" D'Artagnan murmured, almost too quietly to be heard, and Aramis shushed him.

"Shh, d'Artagnan. Rest."

D'Artagnan blinked at them for a couple moments more, his eyes clouding before they shut completely, long dark lashes laying against pale olive cheekbones.

They all let out simultaneous exhales of relief. "Porthos, we need you to carry him," Aramis said as he bundled d'Artagnan, who had begun to quiver a little while back, into his jacket. "Athos, you should probably report to Treville about the mission being completed."

"And yourself?" Athos queried, more to find out where he's headed to see to d'Artagnan than out of genuine curiosity. Aramis knew this.

"We'll go to the Bonacieux house. I'm sure Madame Bonacieux is concerned for her lodger."

And, with concern festering deep in their hearts, they parted ways.

When d'Artagnan awoke, the first thing he was aware of was that everything hurt. Everywhere.

"Is he awake? I thought he'd stay asleep for this part."

"At least we've wrapped his ribs and taken care of his lacerated wrists. What do you think did that?"

"No idea, but now all we have to do is tend to his feet."

"Hush, both of you. He is coming 'round."

When he tentatively opened his eyes, he found the light at a suitable level, only causing mild stabbing to lance through his head. Blinking the sleep away, he muttered drowsily, "whuss' goin' on?"

Hesitation. "D'Artagnan, I wish I could put you back under," Aramis speaking, then, "but I'm afraid if I do, you won't awaken again. You have a nasty concussion, especially from the amount of blood we'd found at the hideaway. I was wishing you'd remain asleep for this part, and so I am sorry. It is going to be quite painful."

D'Artagnan, who was still extremely groggy and very much confused, made a small noise. Athos's face, when it came into his vision, was hard, but sympathy softened it at the edges. "Take it easy, d'Artagnan," he instructed first, and it was only then d'Artagnan realized he had been holding his breath, "and calm down."

He waited a few beats for d'Artagnan to completely relax against the covers again, when he became dimly aware he was only in his smalls. Flushing in shame, d'Artagnan avoided his friend's knowing gazes. Athos continued like he hadn't noticed, which d'Artagnan was grateful for. "We have to cut the bottoms of your boots off your feet. They've melted on. I take it you were close to the blast when it happened?"

It was true; the soles of his boots had been worn down and scuffed at anyway, and the blast had completely torn through them at places and managed to scorch the pads of his feet. He nodded his understanding. "It's going to hurt," Porthos said quietly, compassion lighting his dark eyes.

D'Artagnan nodded, taking a deep breath and fisting in the covers. "Do it," he commanded wearily.

Aramis needed no further permission, cutting and peeling the deformed pieces of leather from d'Artagnan's skin. The Gascon choked back sobs, his eyes burning with the force of retaining his tears. He would not cry, he told himself angrily; not in front of these men.

It was Athos who truly broke him, d'Artagnan would say later. He could handle the pain and the burns and the aches and the exhaustion all on his own, gritting his teeth to keep from crying out while his eyes were firmly squeezed shut, but when the first brushes of fingertips through his hair started, he lost his resolve. He gasped, heaving, his lungs desperate for air as his eyes watered under his lids with tears he wouldn't let escape, gasping huge breaths that shook his frame and threatened to interfere with Aramis' careful work had Porthos not pinned his legs to the bed to keep them still.

D'Artagnan felt the bed dip near his side, felt Athos' warm hand as it slowly threaded through his sweat slicked hair. It was then he became aware of just how hot and uncomfortable he was, feeling icky and achy and all together not well, and he realized he had a fever.

"It's alright, d'Artagnan," Athos said, his face kind and his eyes tender. "Just try to sleep. Close your eyes."

And despite himself, despite all the pain in his body, he obeyed, and found himself whisked away.

"Is he out?" Aramis asked absently as he finished pulling the last bits of the boot from d'Artagnan's foot, hands steady and voice deceptively light.

Athos was not a man who needed touch, was never a man to first extend the offer, but he had found that he could not let d'Artagnan endure it alone. No, he hadn't expected the tears, but had not been as shocked as he thought he'd be. D'Artagnan was innocent, only just leaving boyhood, and there was no shame in tears of pain he had no doubt pushed away since his father's death.

There was no judgement in the faces of his closest friends.

Aramis finished with a relieved sigh, saying, "now he can rest in peace. I'm confident we've caught the infection before it could fester, though we should keep an eye on it for the next couple of days. Seeing as he has a concussion, we'll need to wake him up for the next few hours."

Athos nodded. "I'll take first watch."

It was a testament to how strong their friendship that Aramis and Porthos didn't even try to disagree.

D'Artagnan's fever gave him nightmares throughout the night. Sometimes he called for his father in tones that threatened to break his friend's hearts; sometimes he'd call for them. Mostly, he muttered "please, no".

His fever broke around midnight according to the candle mark, and d'Artagnan's dark orbs found Athos's own. "'Thos?" He slurred groggily, reaching out blindly. Athos caught his hand and rubbed his thumb on the back of it.

"Sh, d'Artagnan. You're all right. Sleep."

And d'Artagnan, safe in the knowledge that he was watched out for, slipped into slumber once again. Athos shifted in his seat, getting into a more comfortable position, reaching for the bottle below the chair. His fingers halted before they met it, though, and came back to push his hair off his face, sighing.

It would be a long night.