A Musketeer's Heart - Chapter Twenty-Seven

Six months later

“Get out!” Tréville snarled, then glared at Aramis as Athos, Porthos and d’Artagnan dragged their feet out of his office. “Not you.” His voice turned silky. Dangerous. “You stay.”

A few years back, hell a few months back, Aramis would’ve swallowed thickly, waiting for the verdict, dreading it. Not anymore. That had been a different time, he’d been a different person. A few months back Aramis still cared about his employment, enjoyed his employment. Now he didn’t. It was a job which he happened to be good at. It helped him pass the time from waking to going to sleep, it put food in his mouth and clothes on his back. Nothing more. Although, he couldn’t claim not to care about anything anymore. There were his three friends, putting their necks in danger because of him. That was his only regret for his behaviour of late. That Athos, Porthos and d’Artagnan were in danger because he was reckless, because he didn’t care about what happened to him. He cared about what happened to the other three and he’d tried to push them away, keep them from the deep, dark hole he’d crawled into, but they wouldn’t be deterred. They followed him into the hole, kept pulling him out of it, put their lives on the line in order to save his.

That’s what this latest foray into Tréville’s office was about as well. He’d gone off half-cocked in search of danger, in search of that elusive destruction, and his three friends had followed him. Again. And he’d almost gotten them all killed. Again. It seemed Tréville had finally had enough. Aramis smirked slightly. It was about time, really. Once he wasn’t a musketeer anymore, maybe he’d be rid of his three guardians. He doubted it, they certainly seemed adamant in sticking to him like ticks. Even d’Artagnan’s impending fatherhood hadn’t swayed them. He rolled his eyes in disgust. One would think that a man about to become a father would take better care of himself, but no, there the lad was, right at his side, in front of him, or watching his back. Idiot. They were all idiots. He was a lost cause. He thought Athos was good at recognizing those, but he’d been wrong. They stayed, they stuck, they protected, they got hurt, and they annoyed the hell out of him.

“What the Devil is wrong with you?!” Tréville roared, bringing him out of his reverie.

“Nothing, sir,” Aramis replied, albeit knowing the question had been rhetorical. But his answer probably infuriated the Captain even more, so that was a bonus.

“Bollocks!” Tréville spat. “You have a death wish, we all know it, but you also have three loyal friends that won’t let you die without putting up a fight.”

“No one asked them.”

Tréville scowled. “They’re musketeers. And they’re your friends. God only knows why. They’re doing what every good friend would do. Trying to save you.”

“I don’t need saving.”

“No, what you need is to pull your head out of your arse and stop this before it’s too late.”

Aramis arched an eyebrow at the Captain’s choice of words.

“What will it take, huh?” Tréville put a hand on his shoulder. “One of your friends dying? What will it take for you to see you’re wasting your life, son?”

Aramis looked at him, wondering at the change in the Captain’s voice, his demeanour.

“This isn’t even a life, Aramis,” Tréville said softly. “It’s a poor copy of it and your friends are trying to show it to you. Keep you from throwing what you could have away. They’re risking their lives for yours, because they know you deserve it. We all do.”

He knew that, he knew his friends were sacrificing all for him. Their lives, their happiness, their future. Damn it, Constance was with child yet d’Artagnan spent more time with him than with his wife. Porthos had found joy with a lovely widow, was contemplating marriage, but wouldn’t leave the musketeers because of him. And Athos...Athos had finally moved past his past, was looking forward to playing uncle to d’Artagnan’s children, was talking about retiring to his estate, but couldn’t because of him. They were musketeers to the core. All for one and one for all.

Aramis suddenly felt ashamed. Humbled. They were there for him, keeping him safe, keeping him alive, but was he there for them? Was he living by the second part of the musketeer motto? No. He wasn’t. He was selfish. Had been selfish for a while. Ever since that foggy morning when he’d watched the carriage depart the palace, taking his heart, his life with it.

Tréville smiled as if he’d read his thoughts and liked the conclusion. “There are plenty of musketeers, I can spare the four of you. You’ve done enough. All of you. Now you deserve a normal life. A family. Happiness.” He looked at Aramis pointedly. “All of you.”

Aramis swallowed convulsively. “Sir...”

“Don’t think,” Tréville snapped, slapping him on the back of his head. “Thinking is what brought you here. Thinking makes you stupid.” He thumped his fist on his chest, over his heart. “This is never stupid. And it’s never wrong. Why don’t you listen to it for a change?”

“I lost it, sir,” Aramis admitted softly.

Tréville smiled. “Go get it back, then.”

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