Hi! This is just a little something I came up with, because we definitely need more of our favourite four musketeers than three seasons. Reviews would be greatly appreciated!
Disclaimer: Sadly, I don't own The Musketeers.
Trigger warnings: Please expect swearing, graphic violence, mention of physical and psychological torture and some very bad jokes.
I dare you to move
"Whatever happened to one for all and all for one?", d'Artagnan muttered, bending down to pick up and then dismiss another of the wet branches that wouldn't burn even if he'd had dry kindling. The ground was already slippery from a few days of hard rain, turning the task of gathering firewood into more of an obstacle run with little chances for reward. A fact that his fellow musketeers knew very well. Huffing, d'Artagnan gathered his meager wood supply and returned to the barn which served as their shelter for the night. Barn was an overstatement, really. It was hardly more than a leaky roof supported by four posts of moldy wood and a few porous planks in-between. Nevertheless, Aramis and Porthos seemed quite comfy, watching his return with an amused expression. Even their charge, a lady of some importance to the King, had stopped complaining. Athos seemed to be asleep.
"Already back, d'Artagnan?", Porthos asked, trying to hide the glimmer of mischief in his eyes.
"There was nothing more to find."
"Perhaps you weren't looking hard enough", Aramis suggested, tipping his head back to reveal the beginnings of a smile. D'Artagnan was not amused.
"Perhaps you three could have lent a hand."
"Perhaps. But none of us were foolish enough to engage in a shooting competition with the three best shots in the musketeer regiment. You should have known better." Athos didn't even open his eyes to watch d'Artagnan's cheeks redden. Sitting down next to them in the decidedly damp straw, he tried to defend himself even while unsuccessfully trying to create a spark and complete his duties.
"I was mislead. When Porthos said we'd be shooting at the same target, I didn't expect him to choose the target by shooting it. He'd already won before we started. That's cheating!"
"Slander!", Porthos cried out in mock anger.
"I didn't cheat", Aramis offered with a self-satisfied grin. Neither of the men acknowledged his peace-offering, knowing full well that their companion hadn't been in any risk of loosing out.
"I also thought a shooting match on horseback would implicate that all of us shoot from the same distance, not waiting until we were right next to the target like you did, Athos."
Athos shrugged non-comittally. "You didn't specify the terms."
"That's not fair."
"My point exactly. Head over heart, boy."
d'Artagnan mumbled something unintelligible and concentrated on starting the fire. He knew full well that he'd been outmaneuvered by his older comrades. Again. Somehow, he never learned no matter how often they tricked and cheated themselves out of wagers, dares and tricky situations. Even Constance is better at spotting their little deceptions. d'Artagnan smiled at the thought, his annoyance draining away. A few minutes later, he finally achieved his first goal and went to ready a meal while his friends one by one scooted closer to the fire to dry off. Contented silence ensued.
They were just about done with dinner when the first shot rang through the night.
d'Artagnan ducked more out of instinct than anything else, throwing himself down next to half a rotten wall on the south side of the barn. He didn't even know which direction the shot had originated from, just that staying out in the open was a bad idea. "Anyone hit?", he asked at the same time as Porthos groaned. Immediately, the musketeers spun around to see their brother holding his left shoulder. d'Artagnan started to move over, but Porthos waved their concern away with a half-grin, half-grimace. "Nothin' too bad, take care of it later."
Meanwhile, Aramis had taken hold of the lady, ushering her into the corner next to the young musketeer. Only Athos had stayed where he was, eying the surrounding woods with a look of disdain.
"Just when things had gotten pleasant, huh?", Aramis quipped. The lady stared at him with wide eyes and shaking limbs, shocked at his gaily demeanor. If things would have been less dire, d'Artagnan might have laughed at her outrage. "Any idea how many are out there?", he asked instead.
"I counted at least eight", Athos said, his pistol aiming at something d'Artagnan could see from his position and with the rain obscuring his view.
"Eleven", Aramis stated with confidence. "Five to the left, four on our side and two closing in from behind." The lady gasped, turning around in a panic. "What will we do? We're outnumbered! They are going to kill every single on of us! I'll never meet the King!..."
"My lady, please", Athos interrupted, his voice sharp. "Be quiet." To their surprise, the woman actually stopped ranting at once, folding her fists into her expensive dress. "Thank you", Athos said, then turned around and loosened a shot of his own. Unlike the first one, his resulted in a scream. "One down, ten to go."
"Nine", Aramis said, a grin on his face. His shot met his target, instantly felling the man. This apparently prompted the remaining men to rethink their strategy and come at them in full speed.
"'ere we go." Porthos actually seemed happy to abandon his gun in favor of his sword, especially since his musket had jammed, probably due to the residual wetness that clung to everything. Now that the men came running, he could do some damage.
"d'Artagnan, guard the back. Porthos and Aramis, you're with me", Athos said, pulled his weapon and charged into the fray. D'Artagnan lost sight of them for a while, being busy with the two men that had been approaching the back of the barn. To his trepidation, they actually turned out to be quite good with a sword and even more so fighting in tandem. He barely had enough time to evade the blows raining down on him. Twisting to avoid being skewered, he got a look at Athos, whose three foes pressed him equally hard even though there was a heavily bleeding fourth comrade lying next to them. Nevertheless, Athos seemed to have things well in hand, whereas Porthos…
"Porthos, duck!", d'Artagnan yelled, letting his dagger fly from his weak hand to embed himself into the chest of a man that had been about to stab the musketeer in the back. His moment of inattention cost him, though, as the bigger of his two opponents managed to slice his upper arm and leave a deep cut. Cursing quietly, d'Artagnan switched his blade into his left hand and riposted. He didn't have much room to maneuver, because he had to keep himself between the men and the lady. Thus, felt the loss of his dagger dearly, receiving a few more shallow cuts before he took out one of the men with a reckless lunge Athos wouldn't have approved of. As if he'd read his thoughts, d'Artagnan heard his mentor call his name in warning, the reason being another fighter who'd managed to sneak past Athos and was now approaching the youngest.
He probably thinks I'm the easiest target. Time to prove him wrong, d'Artagnan thought, blocking a thrust from the big guy and then turning to deliver a strong kick into the solar plexus of the second. The man let out a surprised grunt, staggering back involuntarily. Unfortunately for him, Aramis' canteen had been lying forgotten right behind him. The foreign object made the man stumble further, losing his balance to land halfway on his ass and, more importantly, halfway in coals of the fire. Roaring, the man rolled in the mud for a moment, allowing d'Artagnan to focus on the big opponent. A few quick strikes had the bulky man backing up with d'Artagnan following him.
Out of the corner of his eye, the young musketeer saw the burned one get up. Instead of returning to the fight, however, the man smiled sleazily and reached for the lady. Casting a desperate look at his companions, who were too far away to intervene, d'Artagnan parried another forceful thrust. In that moment, d'Artagnan saw the scene playing out: him defeating the big guy while the other one killed their charge. He couldn't allow that to happen.
Without another thought, he turned and pushed his sword forward with as much power as he could manage. His blade caught the burned man straight in the chest, making him crumble to the floor just before he could reach the quivering woman. However, it also left his back wide open. For a moment, d'Artagnan thought his opponent might not have noticed the huge advantage and began to hope he'd be able to pivot in time. Then he felt the cold burn of metal on his lower back, slicing through the thick leathers and biting into his skin. With a scream he couldn't contain, the Gascon fell to his knees, loosing his grip on his sword in the process.
"d'Artagnan!" Although it was hard to think through the burning pain, he could hear Aramis shouting for him. He also saw the riders appearing at the edge of the field in front of the barn, backup for the attackers, no doubt. He saw Porthos bleeding from his shoulder wound and Aramis' heavy breathing as he dueled a mountain of a man. He saw the blood on the ground in front of him and felt his muscles slowly turn into jelly.
"Go for the horses!", he shouted back, reaching for his weapon with weak arms but not being able to obtain it. The man who'd injured him was close, so the young man ignored his discomfort, heaved his body onto its back and lashed out. His legs caught the man at the knees and brought him down.
"We're not leaving you!", Porthos bellowed, only to be overruled by Athos, who'd seen the new foes on the horizon as well. "We'll be back for him. Come on, let's get the lady to safety. The mission..."
"I know!", Porthos replied, anger and sorrow mixing in his eyes. Athos pulled him back relentlessly. Their commander saw Aramis pull the lady onto one of their mounts and ride away into the rain and sighed. At least that part of their mission hadn't gone down the drain. Then his eyes skipped back to their youngest brother, who was still grappling with an opponent more than a feet taller than him. It nearly ripped him in two to grab the reins of his horse, swing himself up and gallop for the safety of the woods, not daring to look back lest he abandon the mission to rescue their Gascon.