A/N: Okay, so, a small note on how this story fits into the show's timeline (because I keep forgetting to address this, dammit):
Short answer: it doesn't. It really, really doesn't.
See, at first, I did try to fit it into the timeline of the show. But there's just too much changed and I can't figure out how to patch it all together, and moreover I don't want to. I want to be free to do my own thing entirely, canon be damned.
So I'm going with the excuse that events in ANW are set a couple of years before the show starts. Just...just roll with it. Please.
Disclaimer: Still not a doctor, psychologist, historian, or writer. Also, I don't own BBC's "The Musketeers" in any shape or form.
The door swung open further, admitting a shifty-looking man who shuffled nervously into the room. He was clearly wary, one hand clutching a knife, the man careful to leave the door open behind himself so he'd have an escape route.
He reminded one of a rat, d'Artagnan noted absently. One of the rats that typically scurried around the Court and periodically wandered into the wreck the Gascon called a home. The man had the same intent look, like he was watching anything and everything, and his movements were sneaky and quick like a rat's. He had the same demeanor to him that rats had, as if he were clever and crafty and knew so all too well.
He looked harmless, to be honest. But d'Artagnan could see proof to the contrary in his stance, in the way he held the knife. This man may not look particularly threatening, but he knew how to use a knife, and he was desperate enough to do considerable damage with it if the situation required it.
Automatically, the Gascon surreptitiously felt inside his left sleeve, feeling a small amount of relief when his fingers found his dagger. The familiar weight of his sword and pistols was distressingly absent, but at least he wasn't entirely unarmed. If push came to shove, he wouldn't be completely helpless.
The rat-man scurried towards them, holding the knife up as if it could serve as a barrier between himself and four soldiers who were trained to kill. He looked at them speculatively for a moment before speaking, his voice strangely soft and calm. "So, what do we have here?"
Without waiting for an answer, he crept towards the green-eyed man's corner, carefully keeping an eye on the three other prisoners as he did so. His gaze traveled over the chained man, and he frowned slightly when he recognized the iconic leather pauldron. "...You're a musketeer."
He clearly wasn't expecting any kind of acknowledgement of his statement, seeing as he immediately scuttled over to Aramis, than to the larger man, his frown deepening as he noticed the pauldrons. It wasn't a disappointed or angry sort of frown, however, but more of a contemplative one, as if he were mulling over how to turn the situation to his advantage.
When he turned to d'Artagnan, however...that was when his expression darkened somewhat. D'Artagnan shrank away ever so slightly as the rat-man spoke, his voice losing some of its tranquility. "And a Red Guard."
Wondering what had caused such a reaction, d'Artagnan spoke, keeping his voice as level and emotionless as possible. "Is that a problem?"
The rat-man eyed him thoughtfully for a moment, seemingly at a loss. "Not a problem, no...Merely means that you're useless to me, boy."
D'Artagnan automatically flinched at the degrading moniker, than flinched again when he realised that he was being entirely too expressive. The concussion and blood loss were fraying his poised demeanor, allowing him to appear weaker, more human, than he would have liked. Marcel would be furious if he could see him now.
"Don't call him that," Aramis abruptly snapped, glaring daggers at the rat-man, probably remembering d'Artagnan's dislike of the sobriquet. Strange. First Aramis saved his life, and now the musketeer was actively defending him. Him, a Red Guard he barely knew. D'Artagnan couldn't make head or tail of it all.
The green-eyed man evidently disapproved of Aramis' reaction, giving him a reproving look that reminded d'Artagnan unpleasantly of Marcel.
...In fact, now that he thought about it, quite a few things about the green-eyed man reminded him of Marcel. His demeanor, for one: this was clearly a man who prioritized reason over emotion, and took great pride in doing so. D'Artagnan had only ever seen one other man with the same guarded, emotionless stare, and that man was Marcel himself.
It also didn't help that, as far as he could remember, Marcel's eyes were almost the exact same shade of greenish-blue.
The green-eyed man spared the rat-man a calculating glance, as if assessing how best to proceed. It reminded d'Artagnan so much of the look Marcel had, of the one he himself would find in his own brown eyes on the rare occasions when he looked in a mirror.
In that moment, he decided that he didn't like the green-eyed man. The musketeer was clever and dispassionate, a dangerous combination. D'Artagnan would do well to be careful when in his presence.
He was drawn out of his ruminations when the green-eyed man spoke, voice level and controlled, just like Marcel's always was. "What do you mean, 'useless'?"
He was trying to figure out the rat-man's motives, d'Artagnan realized. Finding out why d'Artagnan was 'useless' could provide valuable clues as to why the four had been kidnapped in the first place. A simple yet effective plan, and one which Marcel would have approved of.
Somehow, it made him dislike the green-eyed man more.
The rat-man raised an eyebrow before replying, voice still soft. "The original plan was to kidnap the duke you were escorting, and ransom him."
That made sense.
"Unfortunately, my men were unable to get past your defenses. By the time we fought you off, the duke had already fled. You four were the only ones remaining on the field after the fight. So, we decided to ransom you instead."
D'Artagnan was beginning to see where this was going, and he didn't particularly like it.
"The brotherhood shared by the musketeers is legendary, and I doubt I will have much trouble collecting the ransom money from your brothers-in-arms…"
Of course not.
"...A Red Guard, however, is another matter. The Red Guards share no such brotherhood. To get a ransom from them would be impossible. They would infinitely prefer to leave the boy to rot."
Which made d'Artagnan 'useless'. Which meant that rat-man had no reason to keep him around. Which meant that said rat-man was probably going to kill him.
"What are you going to do, then?" he asked, although he already had an inkling. His eyes flitted involuntarily to the very sharp knife the rat-man was still holding.
"Normally, I'd kill you. I gain nothing by keeping you around," said the rat-man, still in a calm voice, as if killing was an everyday occurence to him.
Out of the corner of his eye, d'Artagnan thought he saw Aramis stiffen abruptly.
"However," continued the rat-man. "Your situation is somewhat different."
The rat-man eyed him appraisingly. "You are very skilled in combat, boy. You took out several of my best men. And I could always use an extra man in my team, especially one with a skill-set such as yours."
D'Artagnan was good at reading between the lines, and as such he could see what the man was really saying. Join me, and I won't kill you.
It shouldn't be so difficult to choose.
After all, he'd been taught to always prioritize survival. Marcel had drilled it into his head that nothing was more important than preserving his own life, no matter the cost. The first choice should therefore be the obvious one.
A part of him, however, chafed at the prospect of siding with a criminal. It was that same kicked-puppy, emotional, highly irrational part of himself which he constantly struggled to subdue, and which he had learned to despise. It urged him to do something, anything rather than ally himself with this man.
It was ridiculous. Aiding the rat-man was the most reasonable, logical choice. Personal prejudices did not change the fact that currently, d'Artagnan didn't have any other options than to join him. Refusal would end in death, and to try to fight the rat-man would be nothing less than foolhardy, chained to the wall as he was. Injured and with reduced mobility, he had almost no chance of surviving a fight.
The kicked-puppy part of himself had never listened to reason, however, and it still fretted at the thought of helping the rat-man. No matter how he tried to convince himself otherwise, there was still a small, niggling thought at the back of his mind that insisted that there must be another way-
He paused, breath catching in his throat.
There was another way. One that was reasonably safe and that had substantial chances of success. One that wouldn't kill him, but also wouldn't end with him becoming one of the rat-man's goons.
He'd have to be careful, however. If the rat-man got any indication that something was wrong…
Carefully, he schooled his expression into something approaching indifference, eyes training on the rat-man's knife, cold and considering. Keeping his voice steady and controlled, he replied. "Very well. I'll join you."
There was a choked sound from Aramis' corner. The rat-man grinned, removed a set of keys from his pocket, and bent down to release d'Artagnan from his chains.
D'Artagnan waited, and braced himself for a spring.
A/N: D'Artagnan has a plan, it seems. Also, good news: these chapters are getting easier to write. I'm finally getting the hang of how to handle damaged!d'Art. Yay.
Bad news: I keep neglecting Porthos for some reason. Bad authoress. But next chapter should be from his POV (if the muses are willing) so that should help make up for it.
Next chapter will feature d'Artagnan's master plan, more of Aramis being awesome, Porthos finally saying more than a single sentence (I'm sorry okay, my muses are stupid), and d'Artagnan angsting again about how Athos reminds him of Marcel.
How is this my life.