Author's Note: This is what's been taking up all my free time lately- I hope it turned out well. I'm obviously not a doctor, pass me a scalpel :)
The dialogue that I didn't make up myself came from the script by Ken Ludwig, adapted from the story by Alexandre Dumas.

Disclaimer: I don't own it! I'm merely borrowing the characters for my own enjoyment. No copyright infringement is intended.

Description: Athos was gut shot, then he was fine… What happened in between?

/\_/\_/\

"Hand me the documents or I'll blow your brains out." He said calmly, trying to reign in his anger towards his ex-wife. "You know I'll do it! Just give me an excuse! Go on! MAKE YOUR MOVE!" He was quickly loosing his patience.

Her only motion was to toss the documents onto the floor in front of him. "There. Take them."

He went to do so… And made the mistake of lowering his pistol. She made her move; she rushed him and they struggled for a moment, each trying to retain control of the weapon. Though neither seemed to have their finger around the trigger, the gun fired.

A hot white pain flashed through his gut as he felt the bullet pass completely through his body before it lodged itself in the dirt.
He didn't really care about that, however, as he clamped his hands over the oozing wound and fell to the ground. A scream filled the farmhouse and it took him a moment to realize that the sound was coming from his own throat.

Milady went to grab the documents from the floor, but the sound of his friends coming near the building stopped her and she ran.

"Athos!" Aramis' voice shouted.

"Athos, are you alright?" Porthos demanded as he entered the building.

They entered a moment too late and missed seeing Milady leave through the opposite door.
Aramis went to his right, helping him sit up before grabbing the documents off the floor to try and figure out what they were.

The pain was still white hot and it took a bit longer than expected to get his breath back.

"Athos! My dear fellow!" Porthos exclaimed, kneeling at the wounded man's side.

"What happened for heaven's sake?" Aramis asked urgently, trying to check his bloodied side even as wet, red hands stayed clamped over the wound.

Porthos seemed about ready to scream in frustration. "Athos!"

Taking a deep breath, he was able to respond. "We must to the King. Quickly." He could only hope his voice sounded stronger than he felt. He assumed it did as his friends weren't 'mother-ing' him.

The questions came flying, first from Aramis, then from Porthos.

"The King?"

"What for?"

Another deep breath, "There's going to be… an attempt… on his life." His strength was fading quickly, they had to hurry.

"How do you know?"

"Who said so?"

"That woman. And you must tell D'Artagnan, she knows." He ground out, the pain intensifying.

"Who knows?"

"Knows what?"

"What are you talking about?" His friends sounded truly befuddled, and he could sympathize slightly. But only slightly.

"Milady knows where Constance is! She's going to kill her!" He tried to get up; he had to help before Milady did something drastic. Unfortunately, he tried using his right hand, and as that was his wounded side, it made the pain increase tenfold- something he didn't think it could do.
He screamed, slumping back into his friend, welcoming the coming darkness. He held onto consciousness long enough to hear Aramis call his name, and for Porthos to say he would fetch a doctor.

"About time." He thought as the darkness consumed him.

/\_/\

Aramis was left with his unconscious friend in an abandoned warehouse in the middle of nowhere. A fever was already setting in and he knew that if his friend's wound wasn't treated soon, there would be no hope. The bullet had gone through Athos' right side, hitting a couple ribs before bouncing out his back. Aramis could only hope no vital organs were hit or his friend was as good as dead.

/\_/\

A fevered Athos woke suddenly, shivering and yet sweating in the stuffy room.

"Easy, easy." A calm voice said. "You'll be alright. Just rest."

A glass of some sort of liquid was pushed against his lips and Athos had no choice but to drink. Within moments he was out.

/\_/\

A sharp scream greeted Porthos when he walked into his friend's room. The large man made his way as quickly as possible over to the bed, and just in time too. Athos began thrashing about, his arms and legs waving wildly. Whatever nightmare his friend was having, it wasn't pretty.

"No!" He shouted, wrenching his body in weird ways to try and escape the grasp of whoever held him. "No!"

"Athos." Porthos tried to remain calm, but it was hard seeing his dear friend so hurt. "Athos, calm down!"

"Let them be! I'll go peacefully but leave my friends!" The wounded man obviously didn't hear his friend's words as he continued to struggle against his friend's strong grip.

"It's a dream! It's not real!"

"Aramis!" The high pitched scream hurt Porthos' ears, but he ignored it in order to help his friend. "No, Aramis! Please don't! No! Aramis!"

"Athos!"

"Aramis! Please don't go!"

Whatever his friend was seeing in his nightmare, it had something to do with Aramis- probably getting injured. Porthos couldn't do anything, just be there to keep his friend from hurting himself.

"I love you…" Athos whispered, his body shuddering before once again going limp.

/\_/\

"The bullet nicked his kidney on its way out. It isn't too serious, but we'll have to keep the wound clean while it heals or infection will set it even worse than it had before." The local doctor told Aramis and Porthos over dinner that evening. "He lucky, a little more to the left and he wouldn't be here at all."

"Thank you, Doctor. May we sit with him?" Aramis asked.

"Of course. In fact, talking to him may help. I'm doing all I can do to keep his fever down, it's all up to God now." The doctor picked up the used dishes and went to wash them, leaving the two men to debate what they were going to do.

"Athos said there was going to be an attempt on the King's life, and we've notified the Musketeers of this so they can protect him. But I'm worried about Constance. He said she was in danger as well, and we haven't been able to contact D'Artagnan."

"We'll just have to hope Athos makes a quick recovery so we can go protect her ourselves."

"I'll sit with him first, you go get some rest."

"Alright. Wake me if anything happens."

"Sleep well, Porthos."

/\_/\

"Oh, Athos…" Aramis muttered. He sat on the bedside chair, watching his friend trembling in his sleep. The fever had gone down slightly, but not much, and the Doctor was afraid of infection. If infection set in, his friend would go from bad to worse. "Come on, Athos. You need to fight. The Musketeers are guarding the King, but you have to get better so we can go protect Constance."

The wounded man showed no sign of hearing, only shifting on the bed and groaning in pain.

"Come on, Athos… Come on…" Aramis leaned back in the chair, swinging one leg over the armrest and resting his head on the backrest. Sleep came quickly, though the position wasn't comfortable.

/\_/\

The next time Athos woke, it was quite slow, as if coming out of a deep sleep. There was pain in his midsection, but he couldn't seem to move his hands to check it out.
He opened his eyes, quickly adjusting to the dark room lit by a single candle on a table by his head.

Lying across a chair, looking quite uncomfortable, was Aramis. He'd obviously fallen asleep while keeping watch over his friend and from the look of his face, the man seriously needed some sleep.

A feeling of security washed over Athos as he realized his friends had been there the whole time, watching over him while he battled against the gunshot wound infecting his body.
The security was enough that the feeling of lethargy swept over him, and he closed his eyes, prepared to fall back asleep.

However, before he managed to get quite fully asleep, Athos swore he heard Aramis mutter 'I love you'. But surely he wasn't speaking to Athos… or so he hoped.

/\_/\

Athos woke to the sound of voices. They sounded as if they came from the next room, but as Athos had no idea where he was, he had no idea where the next room was.

He swallowed a couple times, just enough to wet his rough throat. "Hello?" He tried to say, but it came out as a hoarse whisper. Thankfully, the door chose that moment to open and in walked Porthos.

Porthos' eyes went wide when he saw his friend looking at him and quickly called for Aramis to come while simultaneously grabbing a small glass of water and offering it to Athos. Aramis' face turned into a huge grin upon seeing his friend and quickly pulled up a chair, asking how he felt.

Athos took a sip of water, letting it slide down his sore throat. "Horrible. Where are we?"

"The local doctor's house- he's managed to keep your sorry butt alive after you managed to get yourself shot."

"Wasn't my fault." Athos ground out, the subsided pain beginning to come back.

His friends could see the pained expression and bid their friend a good night. Athos was asleep before they left the room.

/\_/\

Athos woke suddenly, a dull throb coming from where he'd been shot. "Hello?" He called, hoping someone was nearby.
His hope was made real when the door opened, and a small balding man entered.

"Ah, good. You're awake." The man's deep baritone didn't quite fit with his body, but Athos had seen stranger things and he didn't comment.

"Who are you?"

"A miracle worker, according to your friends."

"You're the doctor, then?"

"Indeed. And the only thing between you and God these past few days."

"How long have I been here?" Athos asked, he had to know how much time they had left.

"Four days, and you'll be needing a couple more before you're ready to go traipsing off to fight battles."

"There's no time. Constance needs our help." Athos insisted. "I need to see my friends."

"That can be arranged. But I'd like to see if you can stand. Your fever broke two days ago, and you've been healing quite nicely since then. Careful now." The doctor reached behind Athos' shoulders, showing surprising strength when he easily lifted the tall man to sit upright. Athos managed to swing his legs over the edge of the bed with little pain, and then the doctor was helping him to stand.

His legs were weak, wobbly, at first and Athos thought he might fall. But the doctor held onto him until he had his equilibrium, and then let go, though he stayed close, just in case.
The two walked out of the room, the bright sun coming in through an open window blinding Athos for a minute.

"Athos!" His friends' cheerful voices reached him as the blindness went away, and he saw his friends sitting around a small table, small bowls of soup in front of them. "Athos!"

"We must leave immediately." He informed them, knowing he'd regret it later but willing to deal with the pain if they could keep Constance alive.

"We figured you might say that." Aramis grinned. "But eat something first."

They needed to find D'Artagnan and get to the Convent to save Constance, not necessarily in that order, but eating sounded quite good at the moment. "Fine, then we leave."

/\_/\

The ride to the Convent in Bethune wasn't long, but longer than Athos liked. His side had begun aching in earnest along the way, and occasionally a bright flash of pain went through his body, making him struggle to keep his mouth shut.

They'd met up with D'Artagnan and Sabine somewhere along the way, Athos didn't quite remember when or where. Aramis had given him the documents they'd gotten from Milady, and Athos kept them close.

D'Artagnan was off his horse almost before it stopped, tying the reins to a post and rushing to the Convent's door. Sabine quickly followed him, while Porthos went over and held Athos upright while Aramis got off the tall stallion. The two then proceeded to carefully help their good friend down, trying not to jostle him.

It didn't work. Athos groaned as a wave of pain came, similar to what he felt back in the farmhouse but lesser in magnitude.

"Sorry, sorry." His friends muttered but he tuned them out, trying to focus on getting into the Convent. The door was just now opening and Athos pushed out of his friend's steadying hands, following D'Artagnan and Sabine into the atrium.

"Constance!" D'Artagnan yelled, looking around rapidly for her.

The rest of them followed suit and shouted as they began checking rooms. A woman's scream could be heard coming from the other side of the building. "D'Artagnan!"

D'Arty leapt through the doors leading to the rest of the Convent, rushing to the room he thought the scream had come from.

There was a table with flowers, an altar, a few doors… But no Constance.

"I heard her voice!" D'Artagnan said, oblivious to the fact that they all had heard her scream.

"This way!" Aramis took off, heading through one of the doors leading out of the room.

Porthos followed, "Quickly!"

Athos didn't really feel like running, but after hearing Constance's scream, he would stop at nothing to make sure Milady didn't do anything to her. "I'll try around back!" He called, moving quickly and with a strength he didn't really feel, to the door leading out back.

"I'll try the stable!" Sabine shouted after them, letting them know where she would be.

/\_/\

"She's not in the building." Porthos informed them when they came together again. "Not that we can find."

"She's not around back, either." Athos felt defeated. Had the Countess won? Again? He should have shot her before trying to get the documents, but he was a man of honor… That had been his downfall both this time and the last time, only this time he might've brought Constance down with him.

"Then where is she?" D'Artagnan's frustration came out evident in his voice.

A scream, which was very familiar to Athos even though he wasn't about to tell anyone that, came from the room they had originally been in.
Realizing Sabine wasn't with them, the four took off, pushing through exhaustion, and pain in Athos' case.

Sabine was standing over Milady's body, and Constance lay across the room. D'Artagnan rushed to Constance's side, picking her up and holding her close.

Sabine turned away from Milady's body, seemingly disgusted at herself for just killing another human being, but relieved that her brother's enemy was dead.
Aramis, Porthos and Athos just stood, glancing from the dead body, to Sabine, to D'Arty and back again.

"D'Artagnan…" Constance gasped out as her lover cradled her head in his arms.

"Constance!"

"You came for me…" Constance said, her voice low and filled with pain.

"Of course I did." D'Artagnan said, trying to reassure her. It might've helped, but the pain radiating from Constance's body took priority and she cried out.

"Oh, Constance. My dear Constance. Please don't go. Stay with me. There's so much I want to say to you. And I want to show you Gascony, where I was once a little boy, and I promise it will make you laugh -"

She cried out in pain again. Athos had a hunch that her time was almost up, even though he wished it weren't. His own pain was still a constant bother, but he ignored it for now. He had more pressing matters to attend to.

"Please!" D'Arty begged, holding Constance closer.

"Always remember… how much I loved you." Constance whispered, her body going limp and her eyes closing.

No one seemed willing to break the silence that descended over the room, just waited for D'Artagnan.

"Nooooo!" He screamed.

"It shouldn't have ended like this. Not for any of us." Athos said quietly, glancing at the body of his former lover.

"He'll pay for this." D'Artagnan ground out through clenched teeth. "The Cardinal will pay. As God as my witness!" He left Constance's body and rushed out.

"D'Artagnan, wait!" Sabine shouted, going after him.

"Come back!" Porthos yelled, Aramis echoing him a second later.

Athos knew what the boy was about to do, and he also knew it wasn't worth it. "Don't be a fool!"

The three friends went back out to their horses, Athos choosing to try and ride his own this time. It was painful, but he ignored it as best he could. He had a feeling he'd regret it later.

/\_/\

Sabine, Athos, Porthos and Aramis arrived at the King's Garden mere moments after their young friend, but Athos feared it wasn't soon enough. He had warned D'Artagnan that love was a fool's game, but he'd not tried to stop the romance.

They entered the garden to find the young boy strangling the guilty Cardinal. As much as Athos wanted to let him continue, he couldn't.

Shouts of 'Stop!', 'You fool!' and 'Don't do it!' filled the air. Sabine's voice carried above the others as she tried to pry her brother's hand from around the Cardinal's neck.

"D'Artagnan, stop it! Please! You'll be hanged!" She was alternating begging and ordering her brother. "D'Arty, stop!" She shouted, finally managing to get him to release Richelieu.

"How dare you?" The Cardinal gasped, his own hands massaging his sore neck. "How dare you?"

Monsieur Traville chose that moment to step forward and demand an explanation. "Athos, what's going on?"

"Arrest this man this instant! Send him to the block!" Richelieu shouted.

"Just wait, wait, wait." Traville ordered the crowd, continuing when everyone was silent. "Athos?"

Though sore from the rough ride, Athos managed to keep his voice steady. "Miss Bonacieux was murdered by the Countess de Winter. With the help of the Cardinal."

"Constance?" The Queen asked, shock plan in her voice.

"Yes, Your Majesty." Porthos answered quietly.

"Oh, no!"

"That's ridiculous!" Richelieu cut off the Queen's cry at the loss of her lady in waiting. "I had nothing to do with it!"

"You sent her there! You knew where she was!" D'Artagnan told him, leaping back towards the Cardinal. Athos expected it, however, and managed to grab the boy.

"Lies. Fabrications. I defy you to prove a word of it." Richelieu seemed awfully sure of himself. "And I want this man arrested instantly! Rochefort!"

The Cardinal's henchman took a step towards the young man, but stopped when Aramis and Porthos pulled their swords.

"Your Majesty, tell your guards to arrest him! I insist on it! You saw what he did! The law demands it! You know it does!"

"Yes, yes. Of course. He's right, I'm afraid. There's nothing I can do about it. The boy will hang." The King didn't sound very sorry, but then again, he had a country to rule. One man really didn't effect him.

"No!" Sabine cried even as she was moved away from her brother.

"Guards!" No one moved toward D'Artagnan. "Musketeers."

Athos wasn't the only one that realized what Richelieu was saying. He was ordering the Musketeers to do their duty to the Crown. None of them liked it, but in this case he was right.

"Let them hang me if they must. I have done what is right and that's all that matters." D'Artagnan told the Cardinal, keeping his head raised high.

Aramis and Porthos sheathed their swords and each went to an opposite side next to D'Artagnan. They seemed very relunctant to lead the boy away to the gallows, and Athos couldn't blame them.

"Wait… The gallows… The letter!" Athos remembered.

"Wait!" He exclaimed, making everyone in the courtyard pause. "D'Artagnan, this is yours now. Show it to the King."

He pulled out the document, handing it quickly over to D'Artagnan and watching him head to the King. Aramis and Porthos were sending questioning glances his way, and Athos nodded to assure them that he had everything under control.

"It is by my order and for the benefit of the State that the bearer of this note has done what he has done. Signed Cardinal Richelieu. Oh. Well. Then he's off the hook." The King sounded awfully happy about that, but maybe Athos' hearing was off.

The Cardinal, on the other hand, wasn't happy one bit. "Let me see that! That's impossible! I take it back!"

"I'm afraid you can't." The King grinned. "It's a Carte Blanche. That's the law you know."

Richelieu whirled to face D'Artagnan, his face showing his rage. "You have crossed the line between incivility and disrespect. There are those in society who will not forgive you. I strongly suggest that you watch your back." He stomped off, heading out of the Garden. He passed Rochefort, and his henchman headed in the opposite direction- toward the king. "Rochefort! Now! You imbecile!"

The poor fellow had no choice but to follow Richelieu's orders and turned and followed.

Everyone paused a moment after the Cardinal was gone, seemingly suspecting something else was about to happen. D'Artagnan broke the silence. "Forgive me for intruding, Your Majesty. I apologize."

"Oh not at all, not at all." The King waved his hand in the air to show it wasn't a problem. "I've been wanting to do that to the Cardinal for years." The King's smile grew wide, showing his excitement.

Monsieur Traville spoke up next, stepping forward. "'D'Artagnan' isn't it?"

D'Artagnan turned and bowed before responding. "Monsieur de Traville."

"You're just like your father. Impetuous. Disorderly." Traville smiled "And very brave. It takes courage to be yourself, you know. I'd say it's about time you were a Musketeer.

"Well past the time, if you ask me." Porthos earned a nudge from Aramis for his remark.

"Monsieur, I-I'm very honored." D'Artagnan seemed surprised at the offer, though Athos didn't know why.

"As well you should be."

"But I don't know if this is the time, in light of Constance. I-I mean…"

Sabine interrupted her brother's stuttering. "D'Arty, I think it is the time. And she would have been very proud." She gave him a quick hug before moving to the side, out of the way.

D'Artagnan turned back to Traville. "All right. Thank you, sir."

"Well kneel, kneel." Traville ordered.

Watching D'Artagnan get knighted brought memories to Athos' mind- he remembered his own knighting, and how honored he felt then. He remembered before then, when he changed his name and moved away from his home, all because of a woman. He'd loved her; his love had known no bounds. And yet as soon as he saw the mark on her shoulder, he did what he thought was right and hanged her. His betrayal was greater than hers had ever been, and he silently prayed for forgiveness.

He felt a sense of peace fill his soul and he swore he heard a soft voice, which sounded awfully like Milady's, saying, 'I forgive you.'

He didn't know what adventures lay ahead, but he was ready for them. He had his friends by his side and a sword in his hand… Nothing could stop him.

/\_/\_/\

Author's Note: Well? Whatcha think? It's my first time trying something besides Stargate or NCIS, so I'd love to know what you think! Thanks for taking the time to read! ~Penguin