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The King's Madmen

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There was a boom of cannon shot, followed by a peppering of musket fire that struck chips from the top of the wall and knocked Aramis' hat into the dirt at their feet. They exchanged wide-eyed glances, before engaging in a brief and hasty period of rearranging so that nothing vital should stick out somewhere unfortunate.

"Well," Aramis noted mildly, picking his hat up and dusting it off. "That's got my pulse racing, right enough."

Porthos, next to him, leered happily. "You love it," he growled, grinning. "Don't lie."

Aramis sniffed, dropping his hat back on his head where it belonged. "Certainly not," he said, his hands perfectly in time with Porthos' as they primed their pistols. "I am the very soul of caution and circumspection, I'll have you know. Destined for a life of peace and sober contemplation, before I fell in with a foul, rabble-rousing sort of crowd and ended up here. Where I am, yet again, being shot at. Hmm. I do wonder whose fault that is."

He looked up, his pistol warm and ready in his hand, and met the eager light in Porthos' eyes. Porthos, for his part, only smirked, and tipped his head backwards towards the top of the wall.

"So, you don't want to be first, is what you're saying?" he asked, the very picture of innocence, and Aramis laughed as he swung himself around into a crouch, light and deadly on his feet. Porthos followed him, smooth and ready at his side, and Aramis saluted him gently where he crouched.

"You just try to keep up," he chided brightly, and vaulted over the wall before anyone could even attempt to gainsay him. Porthos, with a bark of laughter, launched himself at his heels, grinning all the way.

Behind them, still crouched beneath the wall, d'Artagnan turned to look at Athos.

"They're insane," he said, with idle cheer as he brought his own pistols to readiness. "You do know this, yes? There is not a shred of sanity between them."

Athos shrugged, a soldier's grin playing gently at the corners of his mouth, and turned in unison with d'Artagnan, their shoulders warm against each other.

"Utterly insane," he agreed, soft and easy. "But then ... what does that make us?"

And d'Artagnan, following him hot into the breach, had to concede the point. Because they were Musketeers, were they not? They were all insane, every damned one of them he'd come across, and himself as well for good measure. To a man, they were all insane.

Life, he thought fondly, was so much more fun that way.