rainjoyswriting: (kurt!)
[personal profile] rainjoyswriting
Everyone probably wishes I would stop, I have no regrets \o/ So! I tend to write the fic I *need* to write, and currently my brain wants to do nothing but this, which probably says too much about the state of my psyche right now, let's not discuss that -_-

Camberwell Rain, Musketeers fic, affinity verse part 1 - you can get to the rest in my memories (modern fantasy AU teen!musketeers, because teenage Aramis turns out to be *absurd* fun to write like I can't even tell you *_*)

Disclaimer: None of the characters are mine, OBVIOUSLY (fucksake) (Dumas originally, these incarnations are down to the Beeb, god love them). I guess I am to blame for their superpowered teen counterparts here in a weird way, they're *so* AU they barely count anymore -_-;

Rating: The verse will inevitably go to NC-17, this part R. When I write 'R' I really mean it, this is for adults, grown-up shit is gonna happen, if you're not in the place to deal with that then don't read it, okay? <3

Warnings and spoilers: Spoilers, we are *batshit* AU which seems to be how I write now (Rainjoy write your fucking novel) (No MEN IN HATS), so stuff from the series will be used as it airs but in a really diagonal way, no *outright* spoilers but awareness of what has happened thus far. Warningswise, anything that happens in the series really is likely to come up, do bear that in mind, and I do write for grown-ups; there will inevitably in this verse be violence (for which they are all to blame), sex (Aramis), underage sex (still mostly Aramis fucksake), drug and alcohol use (all of them) and abuse (Athos), swearing (mostly Porthos here, god love you Porthos), big old etc. There's also a *lot* of dealing with various kinds of seizures in this - I don't know if that could be upsetting for some people, the fic doesn't cover epilepsy itself but a condition in many ways very similar, if you don't want to deal with that then I don't recommend it. Sorry. As a side-note I don't recommend any of the ways characters use to deal with seizures in this fic to deal with real life seizures, it will become more apparent through later parts *why* they use these methods but no really really in real life do not put anything into someone's mouth during a seizure, really. I will come back and add to this list as I notice more disturbing stuff my brain has dredged up in its current disturbed state . . .

Summary: It takes him a moment - he feels like his own memories are behind a bank of fog behind him, he has to reach back blind through it praying to God that he doesn't put his hand in the wrong thing - before the name comes to him, shiny as a river stone in his hand, immediately as known as his own breath. "Porthos?"


Note: I will throughout the course of this fic be dealing with at least three languages, on and off, which I am not proficient in (why can't the characters I work with ever be into Ancient Greek); if you know your shit and want to correct any of the French or Chilean Spanish (it's not like Spanish-Spanish and I'm not even good at *that* \o/) here feel very free, but do mind contexts where a character isn't *meant* to be good at the language they're using, okay? <3







The man in front of him is tall - very tall - and broad across the shoulders, wearing what looks like chainmail made from leather at his throat and a sword Aramis would struggle to lift at his hip. Intimidating as he is there's still something gentle in his eyes, puzzled as they are on Aramis, something familiar about him like a memory from childhood never tarnished, one of those rare untainted memories of something kept so safe.

There is a scar, running down over one eye, that Aramis knows in some strange intimate way.

The man says, looking uneasy and confused, "Aramis?"

It takes him a moment - he feels like his own memories are behind a bank of fog behind him, he has to reach back blind through it praying to God that he doesn't put his hand in the wrong thing - before the name comes to him, shiny as a river stone in his hand, immediately as known as his own breath. "Porthos?"

And the man looks only more shocked, and starts speaking fast with surprise.

The problem is, he's speaking French.

He waves his arms. "Porthos, sorry, you know my French is-" He stops. He's never met the man before. He knows him; he's never seen him before in his life. He stares at him as Porthos stares back, rubs at his dark hair with a gloved hand and says something that in any language in the world still means What the fuck.

His French doesn't sound like Treville's, or any of the others. The accent is wrong but there's something else as well, something he doesn't understand enough to articulate. He tries, in Spanish, "How do we know each other? Am I - are you dreaming?"

Porthos squints at him, and his mouth is crooked as he speaks and it sounds so baffled, and all that Aramis can pick out of the weird French he's speaking is, "- so young?"

"Maybe you're the one who's so old," he says in English, and raises his eyebrows. Porthos rubs at the back of his hair, watching his eyes, looking him up and down just confused. It must be something in his expression, something in the cock of his eyebrow and his own only half-hidden fascination; very suddenly, the man grins. And when he grins memory stabs the heart of him, a thorn catching deep, the bruise and the blood of the best sort of pain -

He wakes.

*

He's lying on his side, and a hand is holding his head into the pillow, and the familiar taste of leather presses his tongue. Someone is pinning his arms to the bed by the wrists and someone else has his legs, hard around the knees. He pants through the leather, feels the wet on his cheek - saliva is one of the better options - and feels the ache in every muscle, the agony of release from their rigidity. And he knows it's been a bad one, as he coughs, the most he can manage like this, to let them know that he's awake.

Pressure relents, people let go. His hand is almost shaking too hard but he's always been stubborn, pulls the leather cuff from his mouth and tests the tension in his exhausted jaw. He's too clumsy to wipe his cheek on the back of a wrist but Treville sits with a little sigh in the chair by the bed, and wipes at his chin with a tissue like he's a child.

He swallows. "Thank you."

Treville just watches him for a moment, checking, and Aramis doesn't even try to pick himself up, gross as the wet pillow under his cheek is, he knows he's too exhausted for it yet. He just smiles, says, "I'm okay." and Treville watches his eyes for a second longer, then nods at the other people in the room. They leave them, just Aramis and Treville and the notepad on Treville's lap, he is so sweetly old fashioned; even Richelieu, the most medieval man Aramis has ever met, uses his phone.

Treville says in English, "Do you want a drink of water?"

Aramis tries to lift his cheek, can't, tries to pull the horrible pillow out from underneath his face, can't. Treville leans to help, and Aramis uses the bars of the bed's headboard to drag himself up to a shivery sit on the third attempt: he would always rather be stubborn than face-down. "No. I'm fine." He tests the inside of his mouth with his tongue, it always feel swollen afterwards, the skin oversensitive and tender. "How long?"

"Nearly eight minutes."

Aramis tilts his head, eyes closed, considering. "Bad one."

There's a pen on top of the notepad. "What did you see?"

He keeps his eyes closed, trying to remember his face, trying to hold it in his mind, the ways it moved with the expressions he wore, so familiar and strange and right to him. "A man. A very tall man, light brown skinned, black hair. He wore leather and carried a sword."

"Age? Height?"

"Old. At least thirty." Not as old as Treville, who is ancient, at least fifty. Aramis is sixteen, and doesn't expect to see twenty. "I don't know how tall. I think - in my head he gets taller now I'm not looking at him? He's tall, but he gives the impression of being even taller than he is."

Treville is writing. "What happened?"

He would shrug but his arms are too leaden. "Nothing. We talked. He spoke French with a strange accent, I couldn't understand him. Just that he knew me, somehow, we knew each other, and he thought I was young."

"You had a conversation with him?"

"It wasn't a dream," Aramis says, as Treville gives him a close look, because it wasn't. Even Aramis couldn't insert a language he doesn't speak into one of his own dreams, and besides, he had one of his episodes, so they both know it wasn't a dream. "We spoke, we couldn't understand each other."

"What did you say?"

He can't remember, it's already slipping away, he's so tired when he wakes from them. He can't remember. He shakes his head, too weary almost to speak, looks down at the leather cuff left there on the mattress, the crescent-curve of fresh teeth marks bitten into it.

"Aramis, try to remember. What did he say?"

"Couldn't understand."

"Do you remember anything else - anything else, Aramis, try to remember -"

His head is lolling, he's so tired. "Eres pesado. I'm too tired, captain."

English is a pain when he's like this. He thinks, in a rush of scattershot Spanish, quick as heat off a Chilean street, I knew him and didn't know how I knew him but I knew him like my heart knows to beat and he knew me, I knew he knew me, more than anyone who meets my eyes every day he knew me, even though I am -

"Different," he says, eyes closed and head hanging, drowsy to the sheets. "He was different."

"What do you mean? Different from what?"

Aramis has some vague thought that he'll show the captain, next time they see him, what was so different about him. But then the dark presses too close, and he's gone.

*

It's so hard to wake after an episode, especially a bad one. He knows it's late in the morning when he's aware of being awake again - he always has been good at guessing the time - but it's a mercy he's awake so soon, he's slept for twenty hours at a stretch in the past. He doesn't move in the bed, doesn't even want to open his eyes, though he can sense the springtime outside the window and he knows that it will be a beautiful day, the French countryside all green and blue like a Van Gogh, fresh clean air for miles. Aramis knows that clear daylight will only show up more his own vision swarming with the black midges of last night's episode's hangover, though, and he's too tired for it yet.

If there were someone else in the bed then he would roll into them and go back to sleep. But he's alone, so he gets bored very quickly, and in the end he has to open his eyes.

The first thing he does is touch his wrist and the leather cuff is gone, so he feels around under the sheets until he finds it to slot it back safe (because you never do know, after all, when you will have an episode so bad that you bite through your tongue and drown yourself in your own blood; more than that, it's just that something about the smell of leather comforts him). He scratches his hair back, and thinks about actually getting out of the bed, but, pff. A step at a time.

He tries to remember last night, what he saw, it's already too vague. He remembers a man's eyes, soft and worried on his. A name his mouth can start to shape but nothing more. And he does feel alone in the bed, lonely in the bed, and he did promise Treville he'd stop having sex with the staff but who else does he ever get to see in here - ?

There's been no-one since Marsac.

(. . . but then, his episodes are getting worse . . .)

The clock says it's nearly eleven, and he's hungry. He tugs down the t-shirt he sleeps in (Treville vetoed him sleeping naked since people have to come in to deal with so many of his episodes. He's also vetoed him swimming naked and if he had his way Aramis is certain that he would ban Aramis from being naked in all circumstances, the man would make him wash fully clothed if he could, it's as if he knows that Aramis naked is a very bad beginning.), ridden up his stomach, and gets up to open the curtains and hiss at the light. But it is a nice day out there and there aren't enough of those - he's not in Santiago anymore - so he slumps on the windowsill for some time, arms folded to make a rest for his chin, drowsily watching the trees through the vague, gloomy aura of what his episodes do to him. Everything projects a shadow all the way around itself, as if under distant rain.

In his head, he counts episodes. Bad one, bad one, medium one, bad one. He scratches his throat; soon he's going to have to change the criteria for a bad one.

There's a knock and the door creaks open to check, and he looks back, smiles at the face there. "Hóla, Serge."

Serge invites himself in smiling since Aramis is awake, pulling a little cart after him. "Bonjour," Serge greets him with, and then cheerily rumbles off into French which Aramis doesn't even try to follow, though he is very interested in the cart.

"Breakfast in bed, the captain is very worried about me. Or is trying to seduce me." Serge has no English nor Spanish, and Aramis has too little French to try to follow him. He likes talking to Serge a lot. "Do you think he's trying to woo me with pastry? Should I really compromise my chastity for a croissant?"

Serge keeps smiling and chatting, Aramis keeps smiling and chatting, and never does their conversation meet. Aramis hopes not, anyway. He sits cross-legged on the bed to pick over the contents of the cart and Serge goes to look out of the window, possibly commenting on the weather, while Aramis licks jam off his thumb and says, "You French are very good at breakfast - re-bacán, really - but I would blush to be asked to disrobe just because of le petit déjeuner in bed."

"Oui," Serge says, turning to him, delighted that Aramis has learned a new trick, "le petit déjeuner!"

Aramis nods. "Oui, oui. I mean, it's a lot to ask of someone, a man cannot make love for breakfast alone -"

There's another knock at the still-open door, and Aramis lifts his cup of hot chocolate, says contemplatively, "Maybe a hand job?" and fixes a bright morning smile on Treville standing there, face unreadable. "Bonjour, capitaine!"

Treville gives him a half inch of a nod and then speaks to Serge, in French, so Aramis goes back to breakfast, because his head throbs too much to even try to follow right now, his brain feels shrivelled. He waves to Serge as he leaves, and gives Treville a smile, because he knows that Treville loves him really. Treville knows that Aramis is sixteen and very bored and by this point not especially naïve about how long he's likely to live, so why should he really do anything but exactly as he feels like doing at any given moment?

Treville sits back on that chair by the bed, and says, "You slept well?"

"Filo. And you?" He tilts his mouth half-apologetic. "I get you up in the night as well."

Treville sighs through his nose. He's not a captain, he goes by 'Agent Treville', but for some reason Aramis has always known that he's the captain and the captain he has always been. Aramis tends to go with his intuitions, after all, to the extent of his own forgotten name; poor René, who died back in Santiago, because he woke up in France and knew that he was Aramis and couldn't even try to answer to another name now.

"I checked the diary."

Aramis swallows hot chocolate and nods, because he already knows. "Five out of seven nights, and getting longer. I'll beat my record soon."

"You'll beat it regularly at this rate." Treville looks at his hands in his lap, says, "There are doctors in-"

Aramis catches his smile before it gets too large, because on one level it genuinely is funny. "They can't help. What's wrong with me isn't physical, is it?"

Treville is silent for a moment, as Aramis finishes his croissant and picks up his cup again, says, "Why won't you let me have coffee, captain, really, how much worse could it make me?"

Treville looks at him. "Is it a rift?"

Aramis looks away. He always feels strangely vulnerable, strangely isolated, when he talks about this. But he tips his head, allows, "It might be." His episodes always get worse before a rift; they got worse and worse before Marsac, and better when he was there - and after he left, so much worse. "It might just be me. Two years and I'm the only part of a circle we've got." He shrugs, awkwardly. "How long am I supposed to live like this?"

"An air affinity survived for ten years without a circle in the sixties."

"Oh, good. Eight more years of my head full of wasps and poison. Water isn't like air."

"I know that."

He doesn't like self-pity, it's not like it helps. "It could be a rift." He smiles for Treville. "Another shot at it."

He blew the head off the last three opened rifts. He had to, they all went wrong.

Another shot at . . .

He's afraid that Treville will ask him to try to ascertain that it's a rift, and he knows that his powers aren't up to it. Two years since the rift split Aramis' life in two and he has no more control over his mind now than he did then. He's water affinity, he's porous all the way to his soul, and things wash in and things float up and the tides are enough to drown and he can't fight any of it, he can barely keep himself from sinking even on good days. Without a circle he never will have any control, and the closest to a circle he's ever come is one air affinity who fucked off and left him alone, mid-seizure and covered in someone else's blood. In the year since Marsac disappeared there have been three more rifts, and no survivors. The only consistent thing in Aramis' life is that he gets worse, and if it's not proximity to a rift, if he is just deteriorating, then without a circle the deterioration won't stop.

But, there is no point in worrying about the things he can't control. He drinks his hot chocolate, and thinks about going for a swim.

Treville says, "You could speak to Richelieu again."

"Ni cagando. I will not speak to Richelieu."

"He's the only other water affinity you might ever get the chance to learn from."

"I will not speak to Richelieu." He doesn't know what it is but he's put near Richelieu and his back feels like ferrets are running all over it and Aramis trusts his intuitions, Aramis has always trusted his intuitions, and his intuitions tell him that Richelieu can go fuck himself. Treville sighs, and Aramis pushes the remains of breakfast aside, no longer hungry. "Is Anne - still - ?"

"She's not in the country." Treville gives him a look, and Aramis looks back as innocently as he can; he can look damnably innocent when he wants to. "I'm sure she'll speak to you when she's back," Treville says, like he would rather that she wouldn't. "She's always had more heart than sense."

Of the only successful circle formed in the last fifty years, Anne, their earth affinity, is by far Aramis' favourite. She is kind and patient and very quietly wise. And also very beautiful. And also fifteen years older than him, but Aramis likes to have ambitions.

The hangover of his episode crawls down his nerve endings, making his bones feel old, and heavy. His joints hurt. If a rift is opening - if, if, if - he'll hardly have the strength to face it, and he can't ask anyone else to do it. He's the one with the affinity. He's the one whose life has to be saved. He can't ask them to risk themselves for him, not against that, not when he knows what happens when it goes wrong.

His body hurts like hammers have hit it, and the bed under him really could look very inviting, if only it wasn't so lonely.

"Maybe I should head to the gallery," he says, rubbing one stiff wrist. "Just in case."

He always has been stubborn.

*

The villa is old and very grand, and Aramis fell in love with it at first sight, walked around on his first weeks there with a hand on its perfect walls, gawping up at its beautiful ceilings. Treville's unit took it over some time after World War Two - presumably Treville isn't so old that he was actually around back then - and it's been adapted, over the years, to its new occupants. That includes the swimming pool in the rear of the villa, where ordinarily Aramis would float the hangover away, comforting lop of water against the marble walls all around him. But today he goes to the cellar adapted to a shooting gallery, because there's more than one way to calm himself.

Ear protectors because he's still oversensitive to sound, though Treville never has been able to get him to wear the ridiculous eye protectors. He checks a gun over and steadies it in both hands as vague dark specks jostle the edges of his vision, and he blows six bullets into only three holes on the distant bulls-eye. He lifts the gun, pouts, it gets boring when it's too easy. Maybe he can charm someone into working the clay pigeon machine for him. Of course he can charm someone into working the clay pigeon machine for him. Even if they don't share a language.

Treville tried to teach him to shoot. It alarmed the both of them, that the fourteen year old orphan from Chile he'd picked up half-dead two weeks before took a gun into his hands for the first time and knew what to do with it like he knew what to do with the hands that held it; like his borrowed English, Aramis suspects that it's someone else's memory, the shooting. He's water affinity, he's porous, and things get in. But while it makes sense that he woke up in France able to shoot someone's eye out of the back of their head given the times he has now needed to do that, he still doesn't understand why he woke up speaking almost perfect English. French, surely, would have been more useful. It's luck alone that Treville had enough English for them to do away with the translator in far over her poor head dealing with the stream of Aramis' staccato slang-scattered Chilean-Spanish, and she with her so civilised Madrid tongue. Why English? He doesn't need English. He's stuck in France with the French. Surely his ever-absorbent brain should have soaked up some French and saved him the pain of learning it?

His mind is as contrary as he is. He inserts another clip, lifts the gun to aim and there's a boy in front of him, his own age, rubbing his nose like he's feeling awkward; a broader boy than him, with warm brown skin, and uneasy brown eyes on his.

Everything has gone slow and distant, and he can't move.

- until he blinks, a few slow times, and the boy is gone. He can lift his head again, can actually shift his fingers on the gun. He hates those. Hates seeing something that's not in front of him. How is he supposed to trust what he sees when sometimes he sees other things - ?

That boy . . .

The man from last night stirs in the back of his mind. Wipe a good dozen years off him and put him in jeans and a t-shirt; okay. So Aramis is being haunted by a man-boy who looks good in leather, or not, his call, Aramis is easy. There is a boy, there will be a boy. Aramis understands his own intuitions.

He steadies the gun in both hands, and prays, quick and silent, that the boy will not be a rift. He isn't so selfish as to wish this life on anyone, especially not someone with eyes as kind as his.

Then he makes only two holes with six bullets, and decides to go for a swim.

*

He wakes hunched forward in bed, on his side and cramped tight in a ball, breathing panic-fast around the leather he drops from his mouth, gasping, he can't get enough air down. He's not being held down, he can't have been thrashing, and the hand on his face is Treville's as he looks scared down at him, and damn it, captain, Aramis needs him of all people to not be scared.

He wets his lips, pants, "How long?"

Treville still looks shaken. "Two and a half minutes."

He's surprised, he'd expected another record from his face. "Not bad."

Treville's fingers press through his hair before he takes his hand back. "The second in three hours, Aramis."

"¿Qué? What?" He tries to lift his head like that's a good idea, drops it again with a snarled hiss; the whole world just lurched up faster than he did. "When did - I don't remember -"

"Do you remember what you saw?"

He keeps his eyes screwed closed, nausea makes his jaw feel heavy and he hates throwing up. "A building. It was a school." He doesn't know how he knows that it's a school; as if that is the strangest part of his powers, really. "The sky was going dark, it was bad. Captain - what did I see last time?"

Treville doesn't even need to look at the notepad. "A building you said was a school, and its windows exploding outwards."

Aramis swears, and tries to sit up; Treville motions the others out of the room - the night staff who so often have to come pin their water affinity down before he can crack his own head open off the wall, unneeded this time - and Aramis keeps a hand on top of his head because something in there is trying to fly all the way to the moon. "I don't remember that."

"Is this a rift?"

"I hate not remembering -"

"Aramis."

He squeezes both his hands on top of his head to keep his brain from leaking upwards out of his skull like helium. "What do you think?" He hisses his breath out, his skull feels like it's vibrating, squints his eyes open. "It's like someone's doing construction work up th-"

Behind Treville's shoulder the boy looks at him so worried, and says, gruff English voice, "You okay?"

. . . that boy was standing in the gallery, and sitting by the pool, and waiting outside the shower, and at his shoulder in the cafeteria, and behind his back while he pretended to study French last night -

Treville stares at his face, looks over his own shoulder, looks at him paler now and says, "What can you see?"

"It's that boy." He blinks, and blinks again, and he's gone, and all his muscles sag. "He's been following me all day, every time I - it's that boy. He's a rift."

"What boy?"

He touches, under his t-shirt, the cross Anne gave him the first time they spoke, the prayer immediate and silent, because that boy will need all the help he can get. "I told you about him, I saw him last night, he's been back all day -"

Treville flips a page in his notepad, says, "You saw a tall dark-haired man with a sword last night."

"He's the same!" he snaps back, and he knows it's not true but it is, and he puts a hand to his forehead because he's being rude. "I'm sorry. I'm -"

"I know. It's alright. Breathe."

He tries to. He tries to calm himself. But all he can think is that if this goes wrong, he'll be emptying a clip between that boy's kind eyes, and the thought makes him want to retch.

Treville says, voice calm, "Who is he?"

"I don't know." He does; he just doesn't, as well.

"Where is he?"

"I don't - he's English. His voice is English. He's my age."

Treville just watches him. "How do we find him?"

Aramis opens his hands, helpless. "We wait for my next little episode and pray that it is precise. No - give me your pad." He draws, even though his hand doesn't want to grip the pen right, the building as he remembers it, brick and tall windows, clumsily childish but close enough. "It looked like that. Does that help?"

"The world is full of buildings."

"Give it to someone under the age of fifty and tell them to look at pictures of high schools in England on Google. I would do it myself, but." He puts a hand over his eyes, rubs the skin, he's so tired. "There are a dozen elephants stepping on my brain."

Treville stands up, touches his shoulder, says, "Go back to sleep. There's nothing you can do right now."

At some point very soon, he is going to have to walk up to that boy with such kind eyes, carrying a gun in his hand. He finds the leather cuff again, fits it back around his wrist, and Treville waits until he catches his eye before he turns the light off and closes the door.

In the dark, head on the pillow, exhaustion like lead blankets over him; he runs through prayers, words so known that they can make him forget everything else, but he knows what it is that he's praying for.

Don't let it go wrong don't let it go wrong don't let it go wrong this time -

He won't be water affinity, he thinks, forehead like a brick to the pillow, eyes as closed as concrete. He already knows that. He won't be another water affinity, useless to Aramis in terms of his circle, he knows that that boy won't have an affinity with water as well. Not Porthos.

He's asleep before he can hear his own thoughts.

*

The fourth and final episode of the night wakes him around seven AM - he's already thrown up twice, and he's shaking uncontrollably as he tells Treville because he knows it that it's going to happen in London and he needs to get dressed, they need to be looking for him.

"Drink something. You can't even stand up."

He feels old, and very shaky, as Treville tries to aim the cup for him. But Aramis also realises that 'London' feels strangely new in his mouth, and realises that it may be the first time that he's ever said the word, which is oddly pleasing. He says, "Did they tell you when you took this job how much babysitting it would involve?"

The captain just murmurs, "No-one anticipated you, Aramis." and tilts the cup so he can drink.

It takes too long to shower, though the water does soothe him some. He flashes the water off himself with a single flick - small benefits of his affinity - and dresses in baggy jeans, a t-shirt he won't mind destroying, a holster at his hip and under his arm. The cross never comes off. He doesn't cross himself because he doesn't like God to feel that He has to get involved in this, surely this is nothing to do with Him. He is there for love and beauty and sorrow and this will be madness, bedlam and blood, and Aramis will only ask for Him again afterwards. You can't ask for forgiveness before you do something.

He's got his toothbrush in his mouth again - he really hates throwing up - sitting beside an agent on the edge of his bed, going through online photographs of high schools in London (there are damnably many of them) when Treville walks back in. "We have clearance for take-off, as soon as we know where we're going."

Aramis shrugs - since his last growth spurt he has eloquent limbs for shrugging - and takes the toothbrush from his mouth to say, "We'll know soon enough, he's not usually shy about making himself seen."

"Who?"

"¿Qué?"

"Who isn't usually shy?"

Aramis stares at him. He has no idea what he's talking about.

He's water affinity, he's porous. Things get in. On the plane his head is buzzing unpleasantly, everything feels slanted slightly sideways, he feels too porous, he feels things pressing on him and he has nothing to fight them with, they drop like stinging pebbles right through him. His French is at least good enough to still be insisting non non non to the agent with the laptop, clicking through the arse-end of Google's cache of photographs of London schools, before he grabs the man's wrist and can't blink, for two whole seconds, as the building in the photograph does not suddenly explode, as storm clouds do not bunch over it like God's own wrath. "That. That one, where is that?"

"Camberwell," the agent calls ahead to Treville further up the plane, reads out the post code and Aramis repeats, more new syllables on his tongue, "Cam-ber-well." and smiles. What is it to camber, how does one do it well? "Buena onda."

Treville looks at him. "Should we have the school evacuated?"

"No." His eyes almost unfocus with how horrible even thinking about that is. "If you break - no. It has to happen there."

The thought of someone changing what he already knows is going to happen makes the nausea heave his stomach down again; he suspects that someone interfering with what Aramis has already seen happen will at least make him throw up and at most might make him haemorrhage. "If he isn't in the building then the rift will only open wherever he is, captain, at least we know where it'll be now. If they send the students home then he could be anywhere in London, we'd never find him until -"

Treville says, grimly, "Until the rift opened."

"Si po. This is - I know it isn't good."

"It's a school."

Aramis winces, because, yes, no-one his age should be facing this. "Can we warn them gently? Have them ready to evacuate but not actually . . ."

"There'll be panic." Treville holds his phone in a fist, mouth gone tight, then turns away to call someone. Aramis is all edgy with too much energy, touches the gun at his hip, remembers not to touch the cross. What can he do? Wait until he's there and then he'll know, he always knows, he's water, the flow just takes him. As soon as he sees Porthos' eyes, he'll know.

He'd like to see London as they lose altitude - there was a rift in Wales last year that he would rather not remember, but he's never seen London - but the sky has gone black, and rain howls up and dashes the windows. Lightning blooms, silent and implacable against the black shapes of buildings, before the boom of thunder and the agent with the laptop starts and swears in French. Aramis touches the window, where water droplets on its outside bunch and run together to his fingertips.

"Air," he says, feeling it touch cool to the back of his neck. "He's air."

Like Marsac, and a complement to Aramis, not his opposite. It might help. Treville is walking back, gripping the backs of seats - the plane is small, only seats a dozen but is almost empty - to sit by him. "We've had their sports field cleared, we should be able to land. Are you alright?"

"Yes." Thunder cracks the air directly above them and Treville tenses, but Aramis feels so steady now. "Are you?"

Treville gives him a look, and Aramis puts a hand over his so-sincere heart and smiles innocently at him. "You will stay back, captain."

Treville looks at the ceiling, shaking his head, not to mean refusal but just that he doesn't like it. Aramis says gently, "Captain, I can't protect you and cope with the rift."

"Protect me. I was a soldier before you were born."

"You were a soldier. This is - captain, this is not what soldiers do."

Treville's face has gone tight that way it does. "This isn't what teenage boys do."

He shrugs. "No, but, you know what we're like."

"'We'?" Treville says, and (Porthos and I, you know we-) Aramis feels himself unfocus that way again, snaps his smile back steady.

"I'll be fine. Haven't I been trained by the best?"

Treville points right at Aramis' forehead, and stabs his finger a little with each word. "Every one. Of my grey hairs."

"I will behave. This will be simple. In, find Porthos, stop him being so stupid, out. It'll be fine, I've had plenty of practice, ¿cachai?"

"Who's Porthos?"

"¿Qué?"

"'Porthos', who is -"

The landing is a jolt, a thump and lurch simultaneous to thunder breaking, Aramis has his belt on but grabs the back of the seat in front all the same, and Treville curses in French, which makes him grin. He snaps his belt off, stands up, loses all pressure in his head and stands there still for a moment, gripping the seat back, eyes blinking wide, black bubbles pop around him and he wishes Porthos were there to steady his -

Fuck, Treville is right. Who the hell is Porthos, and why is he all that Aramis can think of?

"Aramis -" Treville says, but Aramis murmurs to himself in Spanish (all he knows is have to find him have to get out there have to find him idiot Porthos out on his own) and heads for the front of the plane, grabbing the door to exit as Treville catches his wrist, says, "You don't look right."

"This close to a rift? Do I ever?"

But Treville is looking him over a particular way and Aramis knows that that means something bad. He smiles, which usually helps, but usually not against Treville; and then there's an under-the-ribcage boom that's nothing to do with thunder and he turns already yanking the door open, rain hits him like a cold blanket as he kicks the steps down -

The windows of the school's top floor have just exploded outwards, glass and rain on the concrete ground.

It's as dark as one in the morning and the rain is a typhoon, the water streams and lashes, not that Aramis minds that so much but it's cold. Teenagers in dark green and their teachers are already pouring out of the school, shrieking at the glass, the rain, the sounds of the fire alarm blaring over their heads before the sound is dragged painfully sideways and trails into silence. The wind knocks him forwards, swearing in startled Spanish, he wasn't expecting it - which makes him mermelado, Porthos is air, what did he think would -

Porthos, he thinks, helpless with the name alone, and behind him Treville shouts over the wind, "Do you know what you're doing?"

"This close to a rift? Do I ever?" He flashes a grin back at him, Treville with an arm up to shield his eyes from the blast of the water, and his eyes look -

Aramis touches his arm with wet fingers, promises, "I'll bring him back, captain." and turns to run to the school, heading for the open main doors where students are streaming out.

A teacher calls something to him that Aramis doesn't trouble himself to catch, his mind dragged wide by the rift and Porthos and the rain, water on his skin sings to him his life, water makes him feel -

He takes the steps up to the main doors three at a time, duck-dodges the teacher's grabbing hand and hears Treville behind him call to him in English, he'll have his ID out, confirming that somehow Treville has all the authority of NATO behind him while Aramis bumps and darts between unpredictable teenagers, they all in school uniforms and his t-shirt already clinging to him, trainers squeaking on the wet floor inside the building, the lone fish swimming against the rushing tide. Another teacher calls to him and he waves a vague not now as he sprints past and upstairs (he can sense Porthos like he's holding on to something inside him), and out of sight of the main crush of the crowd to see and panic, he whips the gun from his shoulder holster (Porthos is on the second floor, the highest, he knows), up the last flight of steps with his heart a hollow-boned bird inside him (who the fuck is Porthos?) and he shoulders a set of double doors open, wet trainers shrieking on the floor.

It's a long corridor, shattered windows on one side and classrooms along the other, every window in each of their doors blown open; in the stream of broken glass running down the centre of the hallway, shadowed and lit only by another flutter-flare of lightning across London's horizon, a girl is crouched over a boy on the floor, looking up at Aramis like a lioness.

He holds his hands up to show that he's harmless and realises as she drags the boy's unmoving head against her chest, glaring at him furious and terrified and shaking, that one of his hands has a gun in it.

He smiles, a little desperately, opens his mouth and for a moment teeters on the brink of three languages and the rift open so close that his mind's stretch is beginning to tear it. "Hello, lo sien- no - je sui- non - I'm so sorry, I know, I know I look flaite as fuck right now -" Hair plastered to his skull, eyes only half-focused, thrumming with rift energy, gun in his hand. "- I promise I don't mean harm, I'm trying to help, I need to find Porthos -"

The blonde girl tugs the boy's head closer underneath her throat, says, "Who the hell is Porthos?"

"I don't know," he says, and grins, because there's a level on which it's fucking hilarious, he knows Porthos would find it funny. "A rift has just opened, this -" He waves the gun at the sky like the world is ending over London. "- this happened because something broke in someone and I need to help him, where is -?"

The girl stares at him, shivering there on the freezing floor in her school uniform, unconscious boy in her arms. "You're not in someone's crew?"

"¿Qué? I'm -" How to explain this? He can't understand anything himself right now, all he knows is the hum of the wire in him vibrating its need through his every trembling nerve, "I just need to find Porthos."

She stares at him, clasping the unconscious boy close, grazed white knees under her pleated skirt, and wets her lips. "You won't hurt him. The one who - this." She nods her head at the apocalypse rolling in, forty days and forty nights won't cover it, the thunder makes London shake. "The one who did this, you won't hurt him?"

"Porthos? He's -" He blinks, blinking hurts, and it makes no sense to him, it's anathema, inconceivable, blasphemous. "I would never hurt Porthos."

"He's called Isaac."

"¿Qué?"

"Not 'Porthos'. The one who did this, he's called Isaac."

She's wrong, but there's no time to argue. "Where is he? Is he hurt?"

Her eyes are frightened but still fierce, her back still straight kneeling on the glass-scattered floor in her school uniform. "You swear you won't hurt him."

"On my honour as a gentleman, on my immortal soul, I would never hurt Porthos."

"We're talking about Isaac." she snaps, and he blinks, shrugs.

"No estoy ni ahi. 'Isaac'. He's -" He squints, and proximity to the rift pulls at him like it's trying to part his bones. "- close, is he hurt, what happened?"

"He fought with Charon 'cause they're morons," she says, hiking the unconscious boy closer to herself, he's bleeding from the side of his head. "He's been off for days, all quiet an' angry, an' they wouldn't shut up fighting an' in science they just - he just -"

She looks at a door further up the corridor, and Aramis walks up, puts a hand on her shoulder, says, "You must get him to safety. ¿Cachai? Get him out, I'll help Porthos."

"Isaac!"

He shrugs again. "If you insist."

The wind hits the building in that second so hard that a window frame further up the corridor, empty of glass, buckles inwards, and the girl flinches around the unmoving boy. "You must go!" Aramis squeezes her shoulder, then hurries on for the door because he knows. "I'll tell him you're okay, just go!"

She starts dragging up the body of the boy. "My name's Flea, this is-"

"I know!" he says, waving an arm behind himself, Go!, and kicking the door open to get to Porthos.

The wind inside snatches the swinging door and slams it into the wall, and Aramis throws himself down as the wind sucks and grabs overhead, ready to grab him and pulverise him into something. There's glass at the edges of the floor - it's a science classroom, splintered test tubes and beakers, windows all blown outwards, lights hanging dead from their broken fixtures, stools blown crazy around the room.

At the side of the room, near the devastated windows, not even reacting to Aramis' entrance, is Porthos.

He knows him, now, this close to a rift the energy pours through him like a tide, he knows Porthos and all his strength draws from him, from knowing him, anticipation trembles him like he's been looking for him for all of his life. "Porthos!"

He's his age, close enough, broader than him but not much taller, and the wind is around Porthos like a blasting cloak, the wind comes to his call, to the scream of the rift broken open inside him. Aramis remembers this, the madness of it, the inability to get beyond the break in himself, Porthos can't even hear him. He picks himself from the floor, legs unsteady in the wind and all the rift energy, and tries one last time, screams so hard it hurts, "Porthos!"

- nothing. He can't hear him.

Eyes squinted against wind so hard it dents his eyeballs, Aramis aims the gun up at the ceiling and fires, three times.

The boy's head lashes to him, quick-snap turn, and his hands flex in their almost-fists at his sides. "Porthos," Aramis says, every instinct is to hurry to him holding his hands out, Porthos, knowing whines in him for wanting him. "Porthos it's me -"

He takes a step on crunching glass towards him and stops, cold wind on wet skin, understanding himself that he doesn't know what he's saying. Too much rift energy is speaking through him and for one second he remembers being René, who didn't know these things, and was whole; Porthos still feels like that now. "Isaac," he says, holding his weaponless hand up placating. "Isaac, my name is Aramis, I'm here to-"

Thunder rips the sky from its moorings, deafens and disorientates him, he hits the floor shoulder first with a scrabble of Spanish and glass. "- Porthos, avispate, it's me!"

"-the fuck're you?" Porthos rumbles to the depth of his diaphragm, voice inhuman with thunder.

On his knees, hand held up, "Aramis, Porthos, you know me, try to remember - because I would never hurt you, I'm here to help-"

"Help - ?"

"Porthos something has broken in you and you have to handle the rift or it will suck you inside yourself and something bad will come out of it, it will take you and use you like-"

"-the fuck is Porthos?"

"P- Isaac." He's slipping sideways himself, forget what this is doing to Porthos, Aramis' unbalanced mind is water, he's always pouring loose and now the rift energy makes him slant on his knees, his mind runs across the floor and drains away. "Isaac, please, you must steady yourself, you must feel for the break and understand -"

Porthos turns his head, slow as a storm rolling in, and blinks at the open windows, at all of London cowering underneath his hurricane. "I did all this . . . ?"

"Porthos please, please can you -"

Something is badly wrong; he drops the gun (he'll never aim it at Porthos) to grab the desk next to him to stay upright in his kneel, staring at the glass-scattered tiles, stunned with how it opens inside him, black blooming outwards. "Dios ayúdame, God I cannot -"

Porthos turns to him and the wind outside growls, the building creaks, Aramis' head has already slipped sideways even if his body hasn't yet. "What are you doing?"

His mouth opens; three languages try to emerge; nothing can. Eventually he manages to swallow, knuckles tight enough to snap on the table's leg, voice difficult and clipped and hurting his teeth as it comes, "There is too much rift energy. I am having an episode."

"An epi-?"

His fingers are too uselessly loose to get the leather cuff's catch, and he tells the cuff, in calm Spanish, that it is the son of the biggest bitch. "Porthos, please, I need your help."

The wind moans, and Porthos says, "What's wrong with you?"

"I am going to have an episode. Now. I need you to please hold my head so I don't concuss myself and I am sorry if I vomit on you and Porthos please, please, there is no time -"

The wind sounds distant, and confused. "What -"

The floor rises to meet him, swings up like it's drunk, and he does feel the first cold knock of it off his forehead, but nothing after that.

*

He wakes up huddled to a fast-beating chest, warm ribs pressing out at him with every panicked breath, a heavy palm pressing his cheek in close. He's still for some time, eyes slit open but he can't really see anything, until he can swallow, suck a breath down, can get out with a failing tongue, "Porthos?"

The body under and around his sags a little, and his head is rolled back in that hand; he's spilt across his lap, tucked in close against him - Porthos had been hugging him in to his side, his own back pressed to a desk, looking down at him now shaken and pale-faced, eyes huge with worry. This close he can see the scar, still there, running down across one frightened eye. "'ve you stopped?"

He swallows again, the inside of his mouth oversensitive, puffy, and he can taste the cut edges of his tongue; the bastard cuff wouldn't come open. He nods just a little, and his voice comes tired and cracked. "Have you?"

Porthos looks up at the broken-open windows, the sky a grey swarm of cloud out there, hanging heavy as if confused by whether it should storm again. "What the fuck was that?"

"Rift," Aramis murmurs, and touches the very centre of Porthos' sturdy chest. "You're holding it. Good."

Porthos is shivering, a little, cold in this room open to the wind. "What the hell is wrong with you?"

How to even answer that question. Aramis just smiles at him, and says very honestly to the boy he didn't know existed until yesterday, "I missed you, Porthos."

"I'm not Porthos, I'm -"

He looks up and over his shoulder at the crunch of glass, and his hunch over Aramis becomes more defensive. Aramis hasn't the strength to move his neck, it's only when Treville bends over him that he can see him. "Captain," Aramis says, happy now.

"I take it that this is Porthos."

"Who the fuck is Porthos? I'm not Porthos!"

"And I'm not a captain," Treville says wearily, "and he isn't Aramis. You get used to it. Are you hurt?"

"No po."

"There's blood in your teeth."

"An episode. Porthos helped me."

"What the hell is wrong with him?"

Treville shakes his head. "We do not have the time for that. What did you see, Aramis?"

He blinks, slow and sleepy, and he wouldn't explain it even if he could. What he saw - he hardly understands how he understands it but he knows, now, why he speaks English almost as naturally as Spanish, why he woke up in France with a mouth full of the language of a country he'd never even seen. It was for Porthos. It was so he would be able to understand Porthos, and be understood by him. All of this, all of his life, every step and stumble and back-step along the way to bringing him here, the rift inside him, the journey from one continent to another, everything, all of it was just so that he could be here today, and meet Porthos, all of it was just so that they could both be together and right again.

He lets his head sag to Porthos' chest, to hide there from Treville's questions. Treville must be feeling particularly glad that no-one is dead because he lets it go, pats Porthos' shoulder and says, "Can you help me carry him out?"

Aramis whispers to Porthos' chest, "I can walk."

Porthos gives a deeply derisive snort, and Aramis grins, though his eyes are sinking closed. He doesn't need to stay awake. It'll be okay. Porthos will look after him.

I told you that he was different, he thinks, as arms hike him up, and he lets his head hang. But he's the same, really, isn't he?

He has missed Porthos.

It's going to be so good, finding out who the hell he is . . .

Date: 2014-03-19 12:33 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] brighton-girl.livejournal.com
I just wanted to say HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!

Date: 2014-03-20 04:31 pm (UTC)

Date: 2014-04-13 06:16 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ohmygodstopit.livejournal.com
I read the first three parts of this in one weekend because I'm a goose and I got carried away, and every time I've come back to comment there have been new parts and I've zoomed off to eat them up and failed to comment again, so I need to rectify that because this deserves more appreciation than I know how to express. Every alternate universe I've ever read by you has been so incredibly rich and engrossing and intriguing that it sucks me in and makes me fall in love with characters in so many new ways, I've had your Porthos and Aramis lurking in the free spaces in my brain for days.

Yes, they're so much younger and they're in an entirely different situation, but they're both still so distinct and recognisable. Two minutes in the same room as Aramis, and Porthos' unexpectedly huge heart and Musketeer-ish loyalty is still more powerful than the rift inside him. I love how Aramis is completely realistic about how grim his prospects are without a circle to help him, and that he's lonely and bored and doesn't understand half of the stuff that pops into his head, but remains optimistic and charming and devout even when everything's going to shit.

Oh, and doting long-suffering Treville, their relationship is wonderful and sad. Like three times older than him and having to stand back and watch helplessly while young Aramis runs into crazy, unpredictable situations and tries to reassure his experienced Captain. Poor darlings.

One of my very favourite lines is "... more than that, it's just that something about the smell of leather comforts him." It made me so happy, it's such a wonderful little touch, it took a moment for it to even click in my head. That and the image of Richelieu taking notes on a smart phone, that gave me a hell of a hoot.

But yeah, as always not enough words to express how thankful I am for the thoughtful, layered, beautiful things you write, I'm going to be better with commenting and try to express it anyway because you give me consistent joy in a world where that's never a particularly sure thing, thank you, thank you <3

(Also, I watched an interview with a few of the actors last night, and when asked to describe the character of Porthos, Howard Charles said, "a human hurricane", and about five million flowers blossomed in my head, it made my day.)

Date: 2014-04-13 08:02 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rainjoyswriting.livejournal.com
This comment made me happy, thank you very much for it ^^

I'm updating so much that it's a wonder anyone bothers to keep up with me, so honestly I don't mind ;) This verse is my happy place right now and those two *devour* every part of my brain they can - even the parts I really ought to be using for other things - so, it's really nice to know that they're occupying other people too <3

Treville I adore, and their relationship with him I adore (I do absolutely love murder-crazed musketeers after he's injured in that fight, they *so* love their captain <3). He hates me, naturally, I gave him manic teenage versions of Porthos and Aramis to deal with, but I love him? And the idea of Richelieu with a smartphone, ahem. And those two teenage idiots being so cheerfully crazy together. I'm glad you like them too ^^

Howard Charles' comment in that interview is a big part of why I made him air affinity in this; he really might have gone firewards, but this seemed so much more *Porthos* when I thought it through (air is linked to the intellect, and he's by far the smartest of them, judging by their decision making throughout the series -_-). Aramis was always going to be water, which is linked to the soul. The other two . . . we'll see ;)

So, basically, I'm really glad you're enjoying it =) And thank you so much for reading it, honey, as fast as I'm vomiting it out; thank you very much indeed ^^

Date: 2014-05-10 04:59 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] puddle-of-light.livejournal.com
From the very first scene, this fic is so intriguing. I love that Teen!Powered!Aramis gets a glimpse of BBC!Porthos - and I'm still completely in the dark as to where that will lead - and they recognise each other.

I love that despite the terrible situation his teenaged self has found himself in, Aramis retains his character, finding what joy he can and trusting to his deep faith in God...and of course he'd sleep his way through the staff... :)

Despite a wealth of information about the verse, it never feels confusing and is instead so brilliantly real and well conceived.

How you introduce Issac ( with bonus Flea!) is great. His entire world has cracked open and he doesn't know what's happening but he ignores it all because he's needed and even though he doesn't know Aramis, he cares.

And lastly, even though I have no idea what it means, the Chillian Spanish is glorious!

Date: 2014-05-10 07:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rainjoyswriting.livejournal.com
I'm really glad you have enjoyed it from the beginning, honey, because I know the first fic starts off a bit - Aramis ^^; Porthos and Aramis would recognise each other anywhere, though, in any circumstance, that I'm entirely sure of <3

Writing Aramis as a teenager has been *hellish* fun and as he gets older I'm going to miss it so much ;_; A lot of his character traits get exaggerated by his situation but what disturbs me is the ones that *don't* get exaggerated; he's already quite irresponsible enough *before* he gets de-aged ;) And Isaac (I love Flea!) - I mean, my gods, he's just one of the *nicest* people, Porthos, and they're very lucky to have each other ^^

Chilean Spanish has been a fucking education I can tell you o_0 I'm still picking through it with Google's help but really I urgently need to make friends with a native speaker, I don't even speak Spanish and finding information on this variant is much more difficult. And naturally most of the words I now know in this language are swearwords ;) So, I'm really glad you liked it from the start, honey - thank you for reading it, and thank you so much for going back to comment; thank you! <3

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