Disclaimer: I don't own the three musketeers.
A/N: So sorry about the late update! Life here has been crazy… but here's the next chapter! Hope you guys enjoy it, I endured a beating for it (my brother got a hold of a blow-up hammer and has been hitting my head with it while I type this. Oh, now he's stabbing me with a toy sword. He is my older brother, mind you) I do have 3 more chapters planned out for this, so stay tuned! But without further ado, go on and read!
Athos walked down the street as slow as possible. His late night patrol had put him in an exhaustion induced coma, and the musketeer had to fight to just keep his eyes open. The promise of his bed didn't cause the musketeer to walk any faster. If anything, his feet dragged with the want for rest. The sight of the apartment that he shared with his companions was like a sign from heave, but his sense of euphoria was quickly cut short when he saw that the door leading into the apartment was wide open. His legs found a new source of energy and he broke into a run, hoping beyond anything that his assumptions were wrong. When he stepped into the apartment and called each of his friends' names in turn, his stomach dropped below the floor as no answer came.
Cursing loudly, Athos ran back out into the chilled night air. He looked left and right, and thanked whatever god there was when he saw Aramis and Porthos jogging to him. But where was D'Artagnan?
"Athos!" Porthos cried.
"Thank God that you are back!" praised Aramis, but his face did not look relieved.
"Where's D'Artagnan?" Athos asked as calmly as he could, which still sounded lethal.
"Athos, we looked for him everywhere." said Aramis. "Everywhere."
"The lad could be anywhere!" heaved Porthos, wiping his forehead.
Athos cursed again and put his hands on his head, trying to remain calm. "Are you sure that you checked everywhere?"
"Within two blocks of here, yes." Aramis sighed.
"How long has he been walking?"
"We've been looking for an hour-" Athos cursed again. "-but he could have been walking for three hours tops." Porthos finished.
"Why didn't you lock the doors?" asked Athos, glaring daggers at both of them.
A fire blazed in Porthos' eyes. "Don't you dare blame this on me!"
"If you would've just locked the doors none of this would have happened." Athos snarled, jabbing Porthos in the chest.
"It's because of you that he's walking in the first place! The way you always talk about how we could die at any moment finally got to the boy's head!"
Hurt filled Athos' face. "That's low."
"That's low?" Porthos spat. "The boy can't process the probability of any of us dying. Don't you get it? The boy cares about us, Athos! Probably more than someone like you could ever comprehend. He's walking because his subconscious is trying to figure out what his conscious can't. Haven't you noticed that that's what he's walking about?"
Athos blinked several times, his heart painful in his chest. How dare Porthos blame this on him? Then he realized that there was a truth to his words.
But that didn't mean that Athos was just going to stand there and let Porthos blame this all on him.
Athos shook his head in fury. "How dare you-"
"Hey!" Aramis cut in. "We can't sit here and blame each other all night! Like Porthos said, the boy could be anywhere."
Athos' eyes wandered over to the river. "Anywhere?"
Aramis realized the severity of his words and quickly added. "No, I'm sure that he wouldn't…"
That's when Athos got the sudden urge to look up.
"What is it, Athos?" Aramis asked, looking at his paralyzed companion.
Athos just continued to look up, a deathly chill that had nothing to do with the weather settling over him. His limbs were numb and his brain wasn't working.
Aramis and Porthos followed Athos' gaze and they, too, lapsed into a state in shock.
D'Artagnan was, again, in a backwards jacket and one shoe. We was clutching his hair and quickly pacing back and forth. But this wasn't what terrified the seasoned musketeers.
D'Artagnan was on the roof.
"D'Artagnan!" Athos shouted again. He knew that a conscious D'Artagnan on the roof would be hazardous enough, but in his unstable state… Athos couldn't help but look again to the river below.
"He can't hear you!" Aramis said unnecessarily.
Athos cursed yet again and ran up to the house, trying to figure out how the boy had gotten up there. There were no footholds on the side of the building and no visible way to get up there.
"Porthos, is there a way to the roof from the inside?"
Porthos shook his head.
Athos watched D'Artagnan for a second, his nervousness growing as he watched just how close D'Artagnan was getting to the edge of the roof.
Athos got a sudden idea. "Porthos, boost Aramis up. He can grab the edge of the roof and pull himself up. Then he can wake up D'Artagnan-"
"No," said Aramis. "Athos, I can't wake him up. He only responds to you."
"You're easier to lift than me."
"You're both about the same to me," said Porthos.
Athos sighed and had to hold back a yell as D'Artagnan nearly fell off the roof.
"Hurry!" said Athos, running up to the building. Porthos interlocked his fingers and Athos stepped up on them. He was able to get a grip on the roof, but Porthos wasn't able to lift him up any higher. Athos' fatigue suddenly found its way back to him as he hung there, desperate to get to his boy.
Athos could hear Aramis and Porthos cheering him on from the ground.
We're not in a bloody race here, he thought to himself, grunting as he found the arm strength to pull himself up. He lied on his back, clutching his sides and wheezing. I'm getting too old for this, he thought bitterly.
Athos rolled up and found himself face-to-face with D'Artagnan. There was a fire in his eyes and he was breathing heavily.
"D'Artagnan," said Athos, putting his hands up.
"Go," D'Artagnan said with such subtle force and such venom that Athos had to blink and remind himself that the boy was sleepwalking to prevent himself from having his emotions hurt. "Get out of here!"
"D'Artagnan… It's me…"
"You all better be satisfied," spat D'Artagnan, pointing at Athos and phantoms of other men around him. "They sacrificed their lives for you. And you all just stand here, completely uncaring and oblivious!"
"D'Artagnan, it's me, Athos!"
"How dare you utter his name?" D'Artagnan yelled at him. "You aren't fit to lick the dirt off his boots." he paused for a moment, tears filling up his eyes. "And it's all my fault…"
D'Artagnan looked to the edge of the building and blinked. Then, mummy-like, he began to go toward the edge that hung over the river.
"D'Artagnan, no!" Athos shouted.
That was when D'Artagnan began to sprint.
Athos lunged forward to try to snag the boy's clothing, but was too late. D'Artagnan launched himself off the building.
Athos ran to the edge and watched in horror as a large splash rippled out. Athos knelt down and clutched the edge of the building, his eyes frantically scanning the water for any sign of D'Artagnan. The shock of the water had to have woken D'Artagnan, but it was likely that he had gasped in shock and got a lungful of water, and from the speed that the water was rushing down, D'Artagnan must have been swept under the bridge.
Athos stood up and fumbled with his uniform, throwing it and his sword off on the roof. He took a deep breath, braced himself, and dived off of the building.
The water was so cold that it was a wonder that Athos didn't get a lungful of water himself. He paddled up to the surface and sprayed water out of his mouth. The river was already dragging him along, and he looked through the water in his eyes, trying to see D'Artagnan.
He wasn't there.
Athos let out a curse and held his breath, plunging again into the icy water.
Athos forced his eyes to pry open, and they stung. He blinked and squinted, desperate to find any trace of him, then he saw a flash of white. If any warmth was left in Athos, it left him as he saw D'Artagnan. He was pale, his eyes closed and arms and legs spread out. There was a ghostly look to him, and his hair and clothes swayed around him in a haunted manner. Athos was frozen in place for a moment, and his heart froze in his chest as the worst flitted through his mind. D'Artagnan had obviously stopped breathing…
Athos frantically swam over to him, grabbing the boy around his arm and trying to haul him up to the surface. He was able to get one gasp of breath before he was dragged back down by the additional weight of D'Artagnan. The boy didn't way much, but when Athos was tired from fatigue, had the river working against him, he had little to no oxygen left in his body, and had the addition of 160 pounds of dead weight, it was physically exhausting just to try to stay afloat.
Athos had no choice but to yank apart D'Artagnan's jacket and le it sink down to the bottom of the river. It helped a little, and Athos wrapped D'Artagnan's arm around his shoulders. He kicked up to the surface and sucked in as much air as his lungs would allow. D'Artagnan was even heavier as he broke the surface, but Athos kept his grip around the boy's waist.
He saw brick walls on either side of him but decided he didn't have any breath left to spare for one more curse. His eyes darted this way and that for any hold that would stop their fast acceleration down the river's current, but found none.
He heard his name called from his left. He whipped around and caught sight of Porthos and Aramis, and Porthos had a rope dangling over the wall for them.
With a grunt Athos made his way slowly over to the wall. Athos felt his muscles begin to burn, and he caught himself making a deal with God, if he even believed in Him. He begged that if things were to go wrong, that He would take Athos' life and make sure that D'Artagnan was okay.
"Come on, Athos!" Porthos shouted, a desperate expression on his and Aramis' faces.
Athos gathered all the strength he had left and gave one last and mighty kick, and relief flooded through him as he felt his hand close over the rope.
He held on tightly to D'Artagnan as Aramis and Porthos combined their strength to pull the two musketeers up.
Athos didn't take the time to thank them as he crawled over to D'Artagnan, brushing the boy's long hair out of his face. D'Artagnan was cold and pale, and no breath entered or exitted his body.
"No." said Athos. "No, no, no, no…"
Athos moved in a flurry as he tried to make D'Artagnan expel the water from his body.
"Come on, boy!" he plead. "Breathe!"
As if on cue, D'Artagnan eyes flew open and he coughed, water overflowing from his mouth. He rolled over and clutched his stomach as he threw up, coughing and his lungs burning. He took in quick gasps of breath anyway, wincing at the pain that ran throughout the outside and inside of his body.
D'Artagnan only caught a glimpse of Athos' relieved face before he was in the older musketeer's arms, clinging onto him tightly and burying his face in Athos' neck as a child would hug its father.
Athos was thankful that he was soaking wet so as to hide his tears. He held the boy as tightly as he possibly could, holding the back of the boy's head and burying his face in his hair.
Athos realized that both of them were shaking, but he got the sense that it wasn't from the cold. This just made him hold D'Artagnan tighter. He knew that he would never forget this day.
This was the day he almost lost his boy.
He kissed the top of D'Artagnan's head and released him. He smoothed out D'Artagnan's hair and gave him a look that overflowed with love.
"I'm so sorry," his voice came out barely above a whisper.
D'Artagnan's eyes were rimmed red. Together, they said, "I'm just glad that you're alive."
Athos patted the boy's shoulder and gave him a rare smile. He sensed Porthos and Aramis looming above them, and the two soaking musketeers accepted their hands and got up.
"Are you okay, D'Artagnan?" Athos asked, giving him a look that said Don't play it down.
D'Artagnan sighed. "My lungs are burning and my head's buzzing(1) but the worst part of it is the nightmare." he shivered. "You were all-"
"Don't think about it, D'Artagnan." Athos said forcefully. "Don't. It wont happen. I wont ever let it happen. I-I care about you too much to let any of it happen."
D'Artagnan grit his teeth and squeezed his eyes shut, but it was too overwhelming. He knelt down and pinched the bridge of his nose, his shoulders shaking.
"I just want it all to stop," he whispered, his voice quivering. "It's unbearable…"
His emotions finally took over. He covered his face with his hands, trying to hide from his companions.
"Why is this happening to me?" his muffled voice came from behind his hands.
Athos and Porthos exchanged a glance. Porthos was the first to speak.
"Athos, I'm sorry about what I said. "I just-" he took a deep breath. "I was frightened, and I wanted to blame it on someone. None of what I said is true, Athos."
Athos shook his head. "No, you're right. It is my fault."
D'Artagnan got back to his feet. "Athos, nothing that you've done could have caused this."
Athos looked at the traumatized boy's face and felt a twang of pain in his heart. "No. It is my fault."
"No, Athos!" Porthos snapped. "I was just being stupid, I didn't mean it-"
"But what if you were right nonetheless?"
"Athos," said Aramis. "This night's horrors are getting to your head. Don't blame yourself. D'Artagnan will probably grow out of this with time. Until then, all we can do is help him through it the best we can."
Athos locked eyes with D'Artagnan and felt something spur up inside him. A fire that starts when a parent cannot protect their son, but will do anything in their power to try to anyway.
"You're right," said Athos. "And that is exactly what I am going to do."
(1) Selmer, which movie is this from?
Hope you all liked it! Let me know what you think!