A/N: Wow, it's been a while since I've been in the 3M fandom and it is good to be home! First a special thanks to Laree England for being my own personal grammar Nazi and first reviewer for this story! ;) Also, if y'all want some mood music for this story, I had the song "Sound the Bugle Now" by Bryan Adams playing in the background literally the whole time I wrote it. Thanks for reading and enjoy!
Disclaimer: I don't own the Three Musketeers!
"D'Artagnan…" Athos breathed before he sprinted forward and skid to his knees next to his broken and bloodied boy.
For a moment, all Athos could do was stare in horror at D'Artagnan, who looked so lifeless and pale lying on the floor before him.
"D'Artagnan," he repeated, reaching out a shaking hand, putting it so gently on the boy's cheek, as if he was afraid the slightest touch would break him.
Suddenly, D'Artagnan's eyes weakly fluttered open and glanced around sluggishly for a moment before landing on the older man.
"Athos," he murmured quietly. Athos let a shaky smile grace his lips as a few stray tears found their way down his cheeks.
"Yes, D'Artagnan," he said, stroking the boy's clammy forehead with his thumb. "I'm here."
D'Artagnan swallowed hard and closed his eyes briefly before looking back up at Athos with a grim, pain filled eyes.
"I'm s-sorry, Athos." he stammered, but Athos quickly shushed him.
"You have nothing to be sorry for, my boy. You have done nothing wrong."
"It's n-not something I've done, it's something I fear I'm about t-to do."
The tears were now flowing freely down Athos' face as he grasped D'Artagnan's hand and shook his head roughly.
"No. No, D'Artagnan," Athos pleaded, his voice cracking. "Don't leave me. Don't you dare give up on me."
D'Artagnan suddenly sucked in a breath and looked around in a panic.
"Athos?" his voice shook with fear. Athos took D'Artagnan's head gently in his hands and turned his face towards him.
"I'm right here, D'Artagnan," D'Artagnan, however, continued to look around for Athos.
"I-I can't see you, Athos," D'Artagnan's voice was becoming weaker and Athos suppressed a sob. "Athos?"
"Yes, D'Artagnan, I'm still here." there was a heart stopping moment where D'Artagnan didn't reply and Athos thought he had left him, when suddenly the boy looked up at him, using all of his strength to utter,
"I love you, Athos."
Athos gathered the boy into his arms and put his forehead against D'Artagnan's. "I love you too, D'Artagnan," Athos sucked in a breath to steady his shaking voice. "with all my heart."
D'Artagnan made a wet, choking sound and squeezed his eyes tightly shut. Then, with a shaking breath, he relaxed in Athos' tight grip and breathed no more.
That single word was all Athos could muster as he was socked with a sickening feeling of grief. He shook his head and quaked with sobs as he leaded over and hugged D'Artagnan's now lifeless body securely to his chest.
Athos had never, in all his years, experienced such a deep, heart breaking anguish. D'Artagnan was his boy, his best friend, his savior, his light. Now that his light was gone, there was nothing left for Athos to do but stumble in the dark.
So there Athos sat, rocking back and forth with D'Artagnan in his arms, quietly and brokenly sobbing over and over again,
"My boy… my boy… my boy…"
Athos sat bolt upright in his bed, tears still streaming down his face and his breathing ragged. He looked wildly around to see that he was in his room and, judging by the moonlight streaming in through his window, it was late night to early morning.
Could it just have been a dream? Could D'Artagnan really still be alive? Barley allowing himself to hope, Athos threw back his covers and ran to D'Artagnan's room, pausing briefly outside the door, desperately not wanting to find the room empty, before flinging open the door and jumping into the room.
A crushing disappointment and grief came as he found the bed empty.
Athos roughly shook his head and took a staggering step back, wanting with all his heart to see his boy curled up in his bed as he usually was.
Athos raised his trembling hands, fisting them into his hair and tugging at the strands as he tried desperately not to let his sorrow devour him.
The thought that he's never see him again, though, was nearly all consuming. He'd never again hear his ringing laughter, never again see the glint of mischief gleaming in his blue eyes, never again-
The man in question froze. He knew that voice. Athos knew that voice. Dare he hope?
"Athos, are you ok?" Athos slowly lowered his hands and turned around, eyes widening at the figure standing in front of him. "I just got up for a glass of water. Did I wake you?"
Athos couldn't move. He couldn't speak. All he could do was stare at the living, breathing boy standing in front of him and let the fact that he was alive sink in.
When Athos didn't respond, D'Artagnan took a step forward and hesitantly asked,
This final utterance of his name seemed to break the spell that had been holding him in place and, without warning, Athos sprung forward and enveloped the boy in a fierce, bone crushing embrace.
"Athos, what-" D'Artagnan stopped when Athos buried his face into the crook of the boy's neck and D'Artagnan felt the warm presence of tears seep through his shirt. D'Artagnan was shocked. Athos never cried.
D'Artagnan instinctively put his arms around the older man, still confused as to what was going on, but deciding to let Athos settle down before questioning him.
Athos, for his part, merely readjusted his hold on D'Artagnan so that his had was holding the boy's head to his chest and griped his night shirt like a lifeline.
"My boy…" he whispered softly through his tears. Athos buried his face in D'Artagnan's hair, simply relishing in the feeling of the boy's soft breath against his neck.
After a minute of standing in silence, D'Artagnan finally spoke up.
"Athos, come, sit down." the younger man managed to extract himself from Athos' iron grip, although a trembling hand still remained clutching his sleeve, and lead him over to his bed, where the two sat down. "What happened, Athos? What's wrong?"
Athos swallowed thickly stared at the floor, trying to regain some semblance of control over his emotions.
"I had a nightmare," D'Artagnan waited patiently for more of an explanation. "And in it, you…" Athos had trouble bringing himself to say it. The images of D'Artagnan's bloody, lifeless body were still fresh in his mind and he reached out and held onto the boy's wrist, the steady pulse reassuring him. "… you died." Athos looked up at D'Artagnan with watery eyes. "You died and there wasn't a damn thing I could do about it."
D'Artagnan's heart squeezed upon hearing this. He had had similar nightmares in the past and knew of their realism and crushing sadness. It had been Athos who comforted him after that haunting dream and now it looked like it was D'Artagnan's time to repay the older man. He leaned his head against Athos' shoulder and Athos put an arm firmly around the boy's shoulders.
"I'm here, Athos. I'm alive and well. I promise that I'm not going anywhere." Athos nodded shakily and leaned against D'Artagnan's head, planting a soft, paternal, kiss in his hair.
D'Artagnan sighed contentedly and looked up at Athos, whose eyes were drooping down.
"You can stay in here tonight if you want to, Athos." offered D'Artagnan. Athos nodded again and the two laid down, Athos on his back with D'Artagnan curled up against his side, his head resting on the older man's broad shoulder.
As D'Artagnan nodded off, wrapping an arm around the other's torso, Athos felt himself relax completely for the first time all night. The thought of losing the warm presence beside him was too much to bear and Athos didn't know what he would do with himself had that dream not been just that; a dream.
Who would bring him out of his darkest moods? Who would make him feel both young again and older than he had ever felt before? Who would keep him going when he got down on himself? Who would he fuss and fret over on a nearly daily basis? To who else would he give such unconditional love?
No, there would be nothing else without D'Artagnan in his life. It was times like this when Athos marveled at the fact that he had gone so long without the young Gascon in his life. Now that he was in his life, however, Athos swore to himself to keep him there.
"You must promise me that you'll let me die first, D'Artagnan." Athos whispered softly. "I could not bear going through losing you again." Athos was not a selfish person by nature, but just this once he allowed himself this one selfish wish, that he would not have to go one day without the boy at his side. That he could be the first to go so that he did not have to suffer through this life without his light. His savior. His D'Artagnan.
Well, there you have it! Make sure to tell me what you think and thanks for reading!