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The Unfortunate Thing About Trees

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Aramis adjusted his musket and emitted a doleful sigh that bespoke of as much despair as disappointment. This... situation, was once again proving the old adage that just because you could do a thing, that did not mean that you should, in fact, do it. Whether or not he was indeed as possessed of feline grace and the speed of a hummingbird, as Athos insisted, seemed rather inconsequential at the moment.

Aramis glanced down from the the top of the pine tree and sighed again.

“Why, remind me again, did I not only let you talk me into this, but also agreed to let you come up here with me?”

“Because you did not think that I would drop the rope,” Athos shrugged, and leaned in a relaxed fashion against the trunk, his legs dangling carelessly off the branch he had been straddling.

“Hm,” Aramis offered and looked down once more, taking in the scene below. The rope was, indeed, just as he had suspected, and in fact had proven to himself moments earlier, on the ground underneath the tree. “Why did you drop the rope?”

“Why?”

“Yes, why? Pourquoi. Perche. Wherefore.

“Are you asking because you genuinely want to know or because you’re trying to decide whether or not to shoot me with that thing?”

“My dear Athos, isn’t it strange how every time I think I’ve mastered the vocabulary of a language, you promptly render it obsolete?”

“Is that a rhetorical question?”

“No, no, you’re right. I think I am going to shoot you. After all, there’s no one else for us to shoot up here, which once again brings me to a couple of pertinent questions. One: where is the enemy? And two: why did you drop the god damn rope!?

“Would you believe I have a problem with trees? And ropes? It’s a curse really. Nothing ever comes of it, apparently, each time. Long story.”

“Well, you’re going to have a long time for telling it because, yes, well.... Hm...” Aramis looked down again and shook his head. “How do we get down from here?”

Athos looked generally unconcerned as he chewed on something that looked suspiciously like a bouquet of pine needles.

“Well then? You’re a military genius of sorts. Or so I’m constantly being told. Say something strategic, damn it!” Aramis kicked his friend’s shin, resulting in unbalancing himself enough to come close to losing footing.

“Don’t die,” Athos reflexively grabbed onto the other man’s belt. “You have no idea how embarrassing that would be for me.”

As if suddenly illuminated by something that Athos said, Aramis handed him the musket, and proceeded to quickly unbuckle his belt from around his waist, removing the sword and tossing it down beneath the tree.

“This is not quite the most comfortable place for nudity, is it?” Athos cocked an amused eyebrow.

Aramis cast him another forlorn look and accused him of being a deviant, only causing Athos to resort to his usual unassailable retort - of mute shrugging.

“You can spend as much time up here as your graciousness desires, but I’m going to use this belt to climb down the tree.”

“Excellent!” Athos’s eyes lit up in such a way as if he had been mentally trying to imprint Aramis with this very idea the entire time, and he now beamed like a proud teacher whose student had risen to the challenge. “Say, Aramis... When you get down there... Could you just toss the rope back up?”

Aramis wrapped the belt around the pine truck and, holding an end in each hand, slowly began to descend down the tree, with the aforementioned gracefulness, if not of a cat, than at least a really courtly racoon.

“Only if you promise to hang yourself!” Aramis shouted up, having reached the ground and becoming reunited with his sword and the discarded rope.

“I’d probably just end up breaking the tree branch, you realize!” Athos shouted down.

“You’re not that fat!”

“What are you two imbeciles doing?” Aramis turned on his heels to behold their Captain. Monsieur de Treville did not look amused. In fact, quite the opposite. The Captain twisted his moustache angrily, and flared his nostrils at the young man.

“Would you believe, reconnaissance, Captain?” Aramis tried his most charming of smiles.

“Not with this racket, I wouldn’t!” Treville looked up into the tree, from which Athos saluted him. “Monsieur Athos, are you planning on joining the King’s Squirrels?”

“My apologies, Captain. I’ll be right down.” The older musketeer checked to make sure that Aramis’s abandoned musket was safely unloaded before he tossed it down into the grass. Then, incomprehensibly, he appeared to squat down, grasp the branch he had been straddling with his hands, swing himself down to a lower branch, and then, as if his feet had wings, he simply jumped down the remaining eight to ten feet.

Brushing off his hands and knees from the loose pine needles, Athos bowed towards the Captain, and graced Aramis with an infuriatingly smug smirk.

“Yes, quite,” Treville muttered, not knowing precisely the best way to reprimand his men and not entirely sure what for. “Don’t let it happen again.”

“No, Sir,” both musketeers answered in unison.

Watching the Captain’s form depart through the foliage, Aramis glared at Athos again.

“You unbelievable asshole! Why didn’t you just do that to begin with?”

“No need to be angry. It’s just something I picked up in the Navy, I suppose. I just never really thought it could be applied to trees. Just... riggings.”

“Sometimes I think I don’t know you at all,” Aramis shook his head. “What Navy? What riggings?”

Athos pulled him in for a quick kiss.

“You know the important things.” He smiled before turning his back to Aramis and taking off through the trees as if he was nothing more than an unruly schoolboy who had been caught spitting in the Holy Water.