D'Artagnan had thought that he'd proven himself to be a worthy recruit of the Musketeers; at least he thought so, after nearly getting himself blown up by Vadim. Saving Athos from his crazed, bloodthirsty former wife and being sworn to secrecy, which he would keep 'til his dying day. Taking a whipping for the king and nearly getting himself killed a number of times in the line of duty; he was still working on letting his head rule his heart. He still wanted to receive a commission but most of all, he wanted confirmation, verbal or physical, that he was accepted in the 'Inseparables' circle. He didn't want to gamble, drink or womanize like the other three but he did want to be accepted. Being a recruit was lonely, especially when most of the other recruits were from noble families or at least grew up in Paris. D'Artagnan may have gained a lot of experience fast while shadowing the Inseparables but he was still a farm-boy from Gascony and that made it hard to gain friends anywhere in Paris or at least the good type of friend like Constance. But he knew that the Inseparables had many secrets, even amongst themselves, so it was hard to get them to open up and accept a virtual stranger.
But it had been two years now and D'Artagnan was still playing the part of a 'glorified boot-boy', as Porthos would've said, minus the knife-work such a person usually did. He was practically the famed trio's servant, or at least that's how Constance once described him after a night of talking around the kitchen table. It still seemed as though Athos hated him, Porthos just teased him about his inability to hold liquor or his lack of ability with the sword. And Aramis? Well, Aramis either tried to push females on him constantly, mocked his virginity or used him to get women Aramis wanted.
Despite all the cons surrounded his 'relationship' with the Inseparables, D'Artagnan continued to hold on to the naive thought that one day soon, the Inseparables would call him 'brother', he'd even settle for 'little brother' or just comrade at this point! Anything other than 'whelp' or 'pup', which translated to him as runt or weak one of the lot. So D'Artagnan maintained his outgoing personality, his ready smile and eagerness to do anything and everything Treville or the Inseparables asked. He knew that the other Musketeers and recruits looked at him with either pity or contempt, knew that he was acting like he was a dog following his masters for scraps of affection; D'Artagnan couldn't bring himself to care what others thought of him, he was determined to be acknowledged by the crème de la crème of the Musketeers.
However, the constant, adrenaline-filled missions and usual workload (which was accentuated by his constant errands) began to take their slow and steady toll on the former Gascon farmer, especially since he volunteered constantly. Rumors slowly grew among the recruits and regulars that the Inseparables were working their 'whelp' to death and didn't realize it. Even Treville began to feel concern for his best recruit when D'Artagnan began to suddenly slow down; making unusual mistakes in his work or at training, which made Athos work him even harder, staggering around more than usual after a hard day. He ate less, never seeming to have time for a proper meal before he was out the door at the Inseparables' heels on another mission or just another errand, always returning in record time. His tanned, healthy complexion slowly turned sickly, bags under his normally vibrant eyes. Constance even sent Treville a letter at one point asking what was going on that had D'Artagnan so tired constantly. Having no answer, Treville called D'Artagnan in to his office and was appalled at his first close look at the lad in months; he looked like death warmed over.
"Saints, boy! When was the last time you slept?"
D'artagnan stiffened even more as he stood at attention, his body trembling slightly. "Apologies, Captain. I was sleeping when your messenger said you wanted to see me Was it something urgent?" Treville shook his head in disbelief; were the Inseparables blind or just thick in the head? "I've been hearing rumors that you're being run ragged by Athos, Aramis and Porthos. Even the Musketeers who don't really like you are concerned. Is there anything I should know about, son?"
D'Artagnan looked confused. "No, sir. The Inseparables are just teaching me to be tough, worthy of the Musketeers." Treville blinked. "Don't be daft, boy, you've more than proven yourself already! If things didn't have to be covered up so often, the King would've given you a commission months ago! I've even recommended it but he always pushes it aside because of 'pressing state business'!" Both men shared a grimace at the thought of their king before D'artagnan shook his head. "I'm willing to wait, sir, others have waited longer than this. The King will do as he pleases."
Treville had a bad feeling; D'Artagnan's replies sounded rehearsed; normally, the Gascon spoke passionately, without thinking. Something had shut down that passion in regards to his career. Perhaps D'Artagnan had voiced his concerns to the Inseparables and they'd told him these things. Worthy of the Musketeers when he'd nearly got himself killed multiple times already in the King's Service and never looked for recognition? And with how ill he now looked, how could Aramis have not dragged him to the infirmary by now or at least to his rooms? Aramis was never one for overlooking when one of the Musketeers was looking off-color.
As Treville left his desk and approached his recruit, Porthos came barging in, laughing when he saw D'Artagnan. "Here's our whelp! Oi, Athos," Treville noticed how D'Artagnan barely flinched at the Musketeer's name. "found him! He's talking to the Captain!"
"And what did that idiot boy do now!?" Athos made no attempt at being discreet in his sarcasm and D'Artagnan's eyes welled with hurt. "Well, when he's done, send him down! I need to put him through his paces! He's slacking lately!" D'Artagnan really looked like he was about to cry, although he was desperately trying not to show it. Anger boiled in Treville's breast but before he could say or do anything, D'Artagnan hollered, "Be right there, sir!"
'Sir'...? Treville felt sick. D'Artagnan had ever called Athos by his name, ever since he'd helped the former comte clear his reputation after the untimely death of the young man's father. Athos must've been driving him hard for D'Artagnan to be calling him 'sir'.
"Captain?" Porthos' expectant voice interrupted Treville's dark thoughts and he couldn't help but glare hard at the swarthy man. "D'Artagnan will come when I am done with him and not before. Get out." Porthos frowned and said cajolingly, "Now Captain, whatever the whelp's done, go easy on him. It's not fair that he should suffer both you and Athos in one day."
Treville wanted to punch Porthos as D'artagnan's face fell slightly. Sweet saints, his men were clueless! Before he could yell at Porthos, D'artagnan interjected hastily, "A-Actually, Captain! We can have this conversation later, yes? I'd rather not keep Athos waiting, the longer he waits, the angrier he gets. And then he really lets loose." The dread in his recruit's eyes made Treville back off. "Alright lad, go on then. But we will talk later, no excuses. Understood?" He locked eyes with D'Artagnan, trying to express without words that he wanted to help the boy. D'artagnan's eyes softened and he nodded slightly with a soft, "Aye, Captain. Thank you." Then he rushed from the office, brushing past Porthos before the older man could even speak. Porthos looked back at Treville in confusion only to wince at his captain's thunderous expression and leave also. After a few moments, Treville reined in his temper and walked outside to watch the match between Athos and D'Artagnan from the high walkway.
As always, the pair drew a crowd but this time, Treville saw the concern in the eyes of most gathered and nearly all eyes were focused on D'artagnan. A few were glaring at Athos and the other members of the Inseparables, their body language protective. D'Artagnan's stance was good but it was clear that it wasn't at his best. But as usual, Athos was too annoyed to notice, calling out insults and directives as he attacked and D'artagnan defended. The younger man made a good showing but Athos only attacked harder and harder. When it was clear his protégée was tiring however, Athos didn't let up for some reason. "Don't tell me that's the best you can do?! You attacked all three of us after walking nonstop to Paris for days and made a better showing than this! I see that we've obviously been pampering you too much but I intend to correct that mistake here and now! En garde, D'artagnan!" When D'Artagnan signaled that he was done, Athos feinted an attack. "I said, en garde! Put up your sword!" But D'artagnan was obviously exhausted.
Porthos stepped forward and said tentatively, "Athos, maybe-"
"ENOUGH!" Treville bellowed, his voice ringing through the garrison like a bell. Everyone looked at him, startled. They'd rarely seen their Captain so angry and now was one of those times.
"Athos, Porthos, Aramis, my office. NOW!"
"Basset, Julian! Assist D'artagnan to the infirmary."
There was a general sense of relief among the Musketeers as their Captain intervened and many glares followed the trio as they trudged up the stairs to meet Treville in his office. Much grumbling was heard from the men before Aramis closed the door. Treville whirled to look at them and growled out, "What the hell was that just now?" The Captain was out for blood; someone was going to pay!