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The sword struck the post again and again, wood against wood, meeting in a dull thunk every time. The air was just beginning to reach the peak of the heat for the day, causing sweat to drip from the boy’s forehead along the side of his face. Even the sting of sweat didn’t deter him, though, swinging the sword again and again. Overhead, from the side. He parried an invisible blow, spinning slowly in order to jab and slice through his imaginary opponent.

The post was beginning to splinter under such an assault, though the boy remained relentless. Around him, the long grass swayed in one motion with a pleasant breeze. He paused only a moment to savor the feel on his sweaty torso before his attention was returned with greater vigor. Another spin to ward off an invisible attack, another swing that shook the poor post.

“Duro,” Agron began, voice thick with amusement, “you fight like a warrior I once knew.”

Duro immediately stopped in his surprised, so wrapped up in his practice that he hadn’t noticed the approach of Agron. As soon as he saw him, though, his face broke into a bright smile.

“Vati!” Duro called, running the little ways through the field in order to jump onto the man. The sword was forgotten near the post, as was all of his training. Agron’s laugh was warm, catching the boy midair and bringing him to chest in a tender way. “Do you mean Spartacus?”

Agron’s shrug was careless, adjusting the boy to rest on his hip with little effort. He slung his pack over his shoulder more comfortably, beginning to walk down the path towards the small cottage in the distance.

“A bit of him. A bit of my brother, more of your father than anything else,” Agron explained, using his hand to wipe some of the dirt from his son’s temple. “What brings you so far from home? Does your father know?”

The look of guilt was a familiar one, dark eyes looking down to avoid his father’s gaze. “Father said to keep busy, and all my chores were completed,” he explained, looking through his lashes at Agron—a look Agron was very familiar with on a different face. “I did not think he would mind.”

Agron hummed, shifting a little to pull Duro further upon his hip. “I am sure I can set mind to ease,” he offered, sharing a grin with his son.

The scent of food drew them in the closer they got to the cottage, the warm scent of home and what might have been stew. Their home was a simple thing, perfect for the hot weather that came with the countryside of Spain. Five rooms, large enough to accommodate them and occasional guests with little difficulty. They had built a surrounding fence from dried wood to keep the horse and cattle in, a little tighter around the front to form a sort of front yard but spanning hundreds of feet towards the back. On the right was a coupe for the chickens and a small hutch for the rabbits; to the left was a garden split by flowers, vegetables and fruits. It had taken some time, some money, and more than a lot of patience, but it was theirs.

Agron released Duro as he pushed the wooden gate open, the young boy running inside the cottage with a call of, “Vati is home!” Agron’s stomach rumbled as the scent of lunch assaulted him, leaning down to pet over the dog as it ran to him with tail wagging and tongue lolling. “Tiberius,” Agron greeted, letting the dog lick his face and rubbing aggressively at his belly when he rolled over. Tiberius took off a moment later, running to the back of the house to presumably continue pestering the cows.

When he finally entered their home, Duro was crouched beside the fire and Nasir no where to be seen. “The bedroom,” the boy prompted without question as Agron took to removing his pack and sandals.

“Be a good boy and put away the items in my pack,” Agron suggested in a tone that he had acquired at some point over the years. The one he remembered from his father, the one that said this is not a suggestion, but I am kind enough to make it sound like one.

When he found Nasir the man was completely bare, his back towards the door frame. The woven mat was pushed aside easily as Agron entered, eyes taking in the tanned flesh exposed to him with the same eagerness as he had the first time he’d seen such a thing nearly a decade earlier. Nasir’s hair was longer than it once was, skin darker with all the sun and littered with scars of countless battles survived. But still beautiful. Always beautiful.

“You return with haste or empty pocket?” Nasir asked, hooking his chin over his shoulder to look at Agron with an eyebrow raised and one of those private smiles.

Agron was drawn like a magnet, crossing over to his lover and wrapping his arms around him from behind, bringing his back against his chest. “Haste. Market was sparse, but fruitful,” Agron reported, his fingers splaying low on Nasir’s belly as he nuzzled into the crook of his neck. He smelled of home and familiarity, of sand and a hint of rose oil that he used to keep the scarring of his shoulder from tightening and hindering motion.

“Joyous news. Lunch was just prepared, if you are inclined to eat,” Nasir murmured, soft and private. His hand came to cover Agron’s, head tilted so they rested cheek to cheek. Agron could feel his smile, the curve of his cheek against his own. Two old birds together in one coupe.

They stayed like that for a long moment, Agron absently dropping kisses over the curve of Nasir’s neck, Nasir humming a familiar lullaby from years ago when Duro first came to them as a blessing. A tanned little boy with dark eyes and beautiful curls, dressed in rags and so skinny that ribs were like stripes along his torso. Found along the streets of the city a little ways away, barely old enough to walk and yet there he was, alone. No name, no hope. Two old birds took a dove and made it theirs.

There was a squeal of pleasure from the main room, startling both men into quiet laughter. “I purchased him a new sword,” Agron explained, tilting Nasir’s face for two soft pecks to the lips before pulling away. “I caught him in the fields with the post again.”

“Relentless training, despite injury? Sounds like a tune that was once sung proudly from your lips,” Nasir offered loftily, finding a clean robe in the chest at the foot of their bed and shrugging it on. Cream against his dark skin, emerald detailing on the cuffs and hems. A present from Agron when they finished their home.

Lunch was a quiet affair, spent sitting in the garden to the right of their cottage. The flowers were something new, something that Nasir had wanted to try. But the vegetable and fruits were routine for season, ensuring a supply of food for themselves, as well as some extra income. It was one of Agron’s favorite places, sitting on the sun-warmed stone bench and staring out at the multitude of flowers and buds with a sense of pride in his chest.

Nasir told story after story, of times spent with the rebel legion, of how he and Agron came to be. It was one of Duro’s favorite activities, listening to the two of them speak of their youth. When the world seemed so different. Duro sat in Agron’s lap and Tiberius slept soundly nearby as Nasir entrapped them with tale after tale. There were interjections and laughter, Agron’s face buried in Duro’s curls more often than not to hide embarrassment from stories he would not rather relive.

After lunch was saved for adventuring, walking through the fields around their cottage and towards the woods. All the chores were completed, and lunch was large enough to have no need to cook dinner, so free time was available to all. There was a lake nearby, prime for swimming in such hot weather and they would travel often during the hotter months. The water was cool and fresh, too, a twisted vine attached to a tree that they could use to swing into the water. Agron had only seen others there once or twice in their many years of attending, so the place had the appeal and mystery of being somewhere secluded.

It was simple for Agron and Nasir to walk hand in hand, both lost in thought and soundless conversation. Duro and Tiberius ran ahead and chased every rabbit and pheasant possible, occasionally lost when the grass grew so high the boy’s head couldn’t be seen. But he would always run back to them, pouncing upon Agron’s back or taking Nasir’s hand to walk alongside. They would sing sometimes, lullabies that Nasir and Agron knew from their youth and had sung to Duro when he was younger. Tiberius was prone to fetching sticks, coming back with tail high and stick clenched in jaws to repeat the game over and over again.

It was a rare, pensive day for Agron. A day spent at leisure, with lover and child. All the blood and sweat and tears, all the kin lost, all lead him to sitting upon a rock in the late summer heat, watching said lover and child swim without a care. A life a freedom, one that he had thought had been ripped away from him, only to be granted once more with such prosperity. He wasn’t disturbed by the fact that his life was so mundane. After years and years of running, of fighting just to draw another breath, it was a more than welcome reprise.

Not all memories were bad, though. Agron could see himself and Nasir swimming in the lake years ago, before Duro, naked and carefree. Laying together on the bank, lazily kissing and eventually fucking with the water lapping at their feet. They would stay the night when the weather was fair enough. Chasing each other through the fields that surrounded their cottage, stopping only when breathless and falling to the ground laughing. Of actually building their cottage together, watching it transform from little more than a lean-to to the home it was now.

“Pry mind from thoughts,” Nasir interrupted, arms cold and wet where they wrapped around Agron’s shoulders. “Your son wishes to play.”

Agron’s eyes focused on the water, tracing Duro’s movements as he swam under it. Tiberius was there, too, attempting to snap at fish while staying close to Duro. Agron’s smile was foggy, though, eyes a little distant when they looked to Nasir.

“I am shocked to the core,” he teased, laughing when Duro resurfaced nearby and goaded Agron into play by splashing at him. Playing was often a gentler term for throwing Duro repeatedly into the air and letting him crash down into the water. Nasir could do it, but he lacked the height and pure strength that Agron did.

Plus, it was amusing.

It was night by the time they finally returned, still soaked and exhausted, Duro sleeping soundly against Agron’s back. Tiberius followed at heels when they entered their cottage, Agron immediately going to Duro’s room across from their own in the main room. It was smaller, littered with little toys for both boy and dog, as well as some wooden weapons. Tiberius curled into a ball at Duro’s side once the boy was on the bedroll, Agron covering both of them with the blankets to ward off cold.

Something kept him there, though. Maybe it was the somber mood he had found himself in, unable to remove himself from head. But he sat there and watched this boy, his son, sleep, his hand gently stroking Duro’s curls back from his face. A precious face, just a look able to send a warmth through Agron’s chest that he had thought himself incapable of feeling. It was different than his love for Nasir in subtle ways—no less fierce, no less powerful, though.

He barely noticed Nasir lounging in the doorway with a candle, arms crossed over his chest and cream robe clinging to his form once more. The glow of the fire was barely there in the background, just enough to keep them warm for the night but not enough to cause any danger. Cool fingertips dragged along his shoulder brought him from his thoughts, head tilting just enough to watch Nasir beckon him with a toss of his own head. The glow of the candle disappeared behind the doorway mat, and with one last kiss to Duro’s forehead, Agron followed.

Agron found Nasir much the same way he had earlier—back to him, long hair down and around his shoulder blades. The candle was placed on the bedside table, as well as a shallow dish of oil. There was no mistaking purpose of motion, especially not with the look in Nasir’s eyes when he finally turned to look at Agron.

“You watch him as if he took life in your womb,” Nasir commented, voice quiet in a tender sense. Agron’s hands found rest on his hips when he came closer, Nasir pressing a soft hand against his cheek as he continued, “Such love. Such devotion.”

Agron pressed the first of many kisses to Nasir’s lips, sweet and quick, just a gentle peck. “Living and fighting without meaning only produces beasts, not men with souls,” Agron reminded him, fingers coming to toy with the collar of Nasir’s robe. It parted easily for his hands, and Agron was more than pleased to find Nasir bare beneath. Such dark skin against the lovely cream, his palms feeling too warm against Nasir’s sides as they traveled.

Their second kiss was slower, Agron opening his mouth and letting the other man in. A soft brush of tongues, Nasir’s hands traveling from shoulders to chest, fingering scars so far since burnt into memory. Agron could do the same. He knew Nasir’s body from head to toe. His hand passed over a jagged scar at the small of his back, still sensitive and pink against his skin. There was the large scar at the junction of shoulder and arm, one that almost cost Nasir his limb. The stab wound from the Roman soldier in the forest, from the first and last time Agron abandoned him. Some along his thighs from wayward spears and arrows, a notch in his lip that matched the one Agron had in his jaw. And Agron loved them all, paid homage to the beautiful body before him whenever allotted.

The robe slipped like silk from Nasir’s body, catching briefly on his elbows before sliding to the floor silently. Agron took the opportunity to wrap his arms fully around the man, effortless in the way he lifted him to allow their kiss to deepen. Nasir’s legs around his waist brought back too many memories, of quiet nights in leisure or quick fucks against trees and hard ground. He was getting too old, too sentimental, because the burning in his chest only intensified as he pulled back to stare down at Nasir.

“What?” Nasir questioned quietly, fingers tangling in the hair at the nape of Agron’s neck to tug him down for a softer kiss. “Weary mind travels to bed.”

Agron quirked his lips in a smile, something small and genuine, making the short trip to their bed and laying Nasir upon it. A sight he had seen countless times before—Nasir sprawled out naked, dark eyes beckoning to him—still robbed him of breath and thought. Nasir wasted no time, though, tugging at the hide belt around Agron’s waist and pushing the loose breeches from his hips as soon as possible. Hands fell to Agron’s hips with firm intent, the hot slip of tongue along his stomach and downward.

Countless times, countless intimate moments, and Agron still drew in a quick breath as Nasir took him into his mouth. Lips parted in a soundless moan, doing his part and carding his fingers through Nasir’s hair to keep it out of the way. And Nasir wasted no time, tongue knowing all the right places to exploit. Just under the crown, the sensitive slit in head, along the vein that pulsed strongly along the left side. More and more, cheeks hollowed in a sweet suction, lips taut around the thick base. They had time, all the time in the world comparatively, so Agron traced the junction of his cock and Nasir’s lips with his thumb, dark eyes flicking up to meet his and rob him of breath again.

Agron was not the only breathless one. In moments Nasir was pulling back, pressing heated kisses along the side of Agron’s cock as he worked him slowly in his hand. Agron could only watch as Nasir buried his face against his skin, nose snug against the base of his cock, inhaling the scent of him. That warranted an actual moan, something low and private, overwhelmed by the intimacy of the action.

The hand on Agron’s hip drew him closer and closer, Nasir kisses made a wet path up the line of his stomach. He stopped to work a scar, tongue laving against Agron’s skin with a little smile. A tease, Agron knew. An attempt to goad him into action. There was very little debate on who was in control of the relationship. They were both men of equal standings, of sound mind and strong spirit. But Agron was Nasir’s. He would do anything asked, anything to receive a certain look or smile. So when Nasir looked at him, laying back upon their bed once more with those eyes and his arms coming to rest up over his head, Agron could only let out a groan and fall to him.

His hands went to Nasir’s biceps immediately, keeping his arms pinned above head while they kissed hungrily. Agron was not above biting, and Nasir was not above reciprocation. Occasionally laughter and moans dabbled their kisses, Nasir’s legs spread once more for Agron to settle between and start a slow roll of hips. Agron’s mouth traveled, as it wont to do, messily kissing Nasir’s cheeks and jaws until the man was laughing quietly. The laughter melted to moans when his target switched to neck, a drag of teeth against the sensitive skin to be soothed with tongue.

“Agron,” Nasir mumbled, over and over again, sounding a little breathless and a lot more aroused. “The oil.”

And of course Agron complied. He removed his hands from Nasir’s biceps, one hand reaching out to dip his fingers in the shallow bowl. His kisses didn’t stop, however. They traveled lower and lower still, until Agron could nuzzle his face into Nasir’s stomach with a pleased noise. He curled his fingers carefully to avoid dripping any oil onto their linens, as though they wouldn’t be soiled by the nights end anyway. Still, his fingers made quick work, slipping between Nasir’s cheeks as the man spread his legs wider to accommodate.

It was Nasir’s turn to card his fingers through Agron’s hair, to be breathless and writhe as Agron took him into his mouth. It was one of Agron’s favorite sides to Nasir—the unimaginably sinful whore he could be in bed. And Agron watched it all, watched Nasir press his face to the side and part his lips with the most beautiful flush on his cheeks. It only made him want to work harder, take Nasir deeper, just to see more of it.

His fingers teased when they brushed over Nasir’s asshole, stroking over the tight ring of muscle with the patience of a man not being serviced and only wanting to serve. Over and over again he stroked, barely there and slicking the skin with the oil. Nasir’s thighs clenched around his sides tightly, a subtle display of strength and a clear sign for Agron to cease in his teasing. And, naturally, Agron obliged.

The first finger slipped in with practiced ease, hand twisting as he entered and getting Nasir to arch with a mumbled curse. Agron’s free hand went to his hip, keeping them in place as he continued to work him with both mouth and fingers now. Slowly Agron bobbed his head, tongue swirling at the tip, lips tight under the crown to suck a little harder. It was a languid process, working another finger up into Nasir while sucking him off. Agron’s own erection was easily ignored in favor of watching Nasir moan and pant, hips twitching fruitlessly against the strength of Agron’s hand.

“Care to offer assistance?” Agron teased as he pulled back, licking over his lips only to taste Nasir there. The look he was granted wasn’t necessarily a glare, but definitely dry enough to earn a chuckle in response.

Still, Nasir’s hand went to the bowl of oil, two dipped inside with pointed precision. It had been a joke, but there was not a single regret in his mind. Agron’s mouth went a little dry, watching the hand move in slow-motion to where Agron’s fingers were currently buried inside the tight body. It seemed effortless, the way Nasir pushed the fingers into his body, far tighter then around Agron’s fingers that it made him moan at the mere thought of his cock being there.

He wasn’t expected to be shooed away by Nasir, but he was, fingers removed and body curling to kneel almost dumbly at the foot of their bed. Nasir had everything under control, obviously, two fingers working himself open obscenely while the other hand began to jerk himself off. Agron had no words, only the throbbing in his cock to remind him of purpose for living at that point. He couldn’t decide which to focus on—the slick slide of Nasir’s hand along his cock, or the fingers that were scissoring himself open to grant just barely there glimpses of pink that made Agron want.

It could have easily been moments or months before Nasir seemed to remember Agron was there, kneeling at the foot of their bed with a blank expression and cock painfully hard, leaking freely. And he stayed that way, even when Nasir removed hands from person and crawled towards him, licking the tip of his cock with a smile and moving into his lap.

“Has mind melted to nothing?” Nasir asked, teased, wrapping his legs around Agron’s waist and fitting his cock between his cheeks. The touch was enough to snap Agron out of his reverie, his hands moving to Nasir’s slim waist in order to lift him slightly. Nasir understood, one hand pulling his cheeks apart while the other guided Agron inside of him to the hilt.

“My mind has no other thoughts but you,” Agron explained breathlessly, leaning forward for a wet kiss. That much was true. All he could think about was the tight heat he had sunk into, cock straining for release but knowing its place.

Nasir hummed out, punctuated with a devilish roll of his hips. “Pretty words from a pretty mouth,” he mumbled, teeth nipping at Agron’s bottom lip and drawing it into his mouth. “But set mind to task and relieve me of any knowledge save for your name and cock.”

Agron sprung to action, pushing Nasir back into the bed once more. The legs around his waist fell wide, wider still when Agron’s hands settled on the back of his knees to push them up and out. The knowledge of Nasir completely open and vulnerable to him was almost too much, too soon, but Agron carried on with the hard slaps of skin against skin as he fucked him deep.

Nasir’s nails left redden marks along Agron’s thighs, miniscule compared to what he had been used to. What had been the norm. Breath was taken from lungs again as he worked his hips, moving from hard and fast to but mere rolls of his hips, pistoning his cock in and out of the willing body beneath him. Agron could see the appeal of such a position. Nasir was beautiful, hair splayed along the pillow, lips parted in a barely-there smirk as he watched him. Dark hands slid along Agron’s torso, up around his back to drag him closer, bring him in for more. Nasir’s hands were restless, moving down the line of his spine to grip onto his ass, pulling him over and over again

It was only a matter of time before Nasir grew tired of the position, of the angle. Agron had no qualms in finding himself on his back with a push, though, with Nasir above him and replacing his cock once more. The first sink had him moaning out, head tilted back only to invite Nasir’s teeth and lips to the tender flesh. Agron’s hands found purchase on the man’s hips, attempting to keep up with the harsh rhythm they had managed to set. It had been so long since this animalistic urge had been sated. Not to say that they hadn’t had sex in a while—no, it had been merely days. But not like this. Not with the breathy moans, the slapping of skin and skin, the trembling limbs and sweaty bodies.

“Oh fuck,” Agron managed to moan out, eyes shut and lips parted as he breathed. Nasir took advantage for a kiss, something wet and messy that neither of them minded much. They were getting older, endurance lessening while orgasms staved for longer. It wasn’t disheartening in the least—it just meant that they needed to be creative.

Agron knew the sharp wince of pain when he saw one, Nasir immediately pausing and gripping onto the small of his back. The old spear wound there, still agitated with too much use. Agron remedied the situation, unfolding Nasir’s legs from under himself and moving the man onto his knees and elbows. It was easier in that way, to even out pressure and allow Agron to massage the sore muscles. It also gave Agron a beautiful opportunity to tease, just gently pushing his cock head against Nasir’s entrance over and over again.

“If you wish to keep it, make use of it,” Nasir warned, face buried in his arms.

The roll of his eyes went unnoticed, but Agron did as asked. He pushed inside the willing body once more, one hand falling to the scar at the small of Nasir’s back to rub the tensed muscle as he fucked him. It was a beautiful vision, Nasir’s body tight around him, his own cock glistening in the candle light with every pull back, only to slide right back in as if they were made for one another. He had Nasir moaning again in seconds, Agron just watching in amazement as every thrust sent a beautiful shock wave through his body.

Agron’s curiosity was peaked when he saw Nasir’s hand reach out once more, fingers dipping into the oil. Logic (how was he thinking) told him it was probably for jerking, but then Nasir was pushing himself up onto one arm and eventually coming to kneel while leaning back against Agron’s chest. Head against shoulder, Agron could kiss him again. The kiss muffled his brief noise of surprise when those same oiled fingers found Agron’s asshole with relative ease.

“On with it,” Agron murmured, breath hitching when fingers followed orders and breached him. It was almost too much once more, hips stuttering in their rhythm, unsure of whether to buck back and forward. And Nasir knew, he knew, with the way he watched Agron with that little smile on his face. Agron retaliated the only way he knew how, with his fingers circling Nasir’s cock and beginning to jerk him in an off-rhythm to his thrusting.

The end was near, that much was evident. Their kisses turned into simply breathing into each others’ mouths, dappled with moans and eyes screwed shut. The fingers inside of his ass were clever, knowing all the right spots to have Agron practically seeing stars. And Nasir was faring no better, his entire body shaking, leaning more heavily back against Agron’s chest with every thrust that brought him forward.

It was Nasir that came first, spilling over Agron’s fingers and tightening delicious around his cock. And Agron milked him through it, through the tremors and the waves of pleasure. The mewls and sighs were nothing new, but still had the same effect on Agron. He was drowning, but a dumb animal working on instinct, driving himself harder and faster until he reached his own peak. Pressed deep inside Nasir, he came, moaning out into their kiss and shaking in his own right. Thighs trembled from exertion, mouth dry from panting but all irrelevant compared to the pleasure that coursed through his veins and made him light headed.

Their kiss slowed to something softer, Nasir still leaning back against Agron’s body. Fingers were removed from ass, causing Agron to let out a breathless noise and kiss Nasir that much harder for it. The little sneak. His hands traveled over the dark torso before him, smearing seed along Nasir’s skin with little remorse. They could bathe in the morning, before Duro woke, and maybe enjoy a quiet breakfast and the sunrise.

“Breath has trouble returning,” Nasir said, sounding completely sated and a little sleepy.

Agron’s smile was warm, pushing their noses together as he kissed Nasir gently. “Sleep will find itself most welcomed,” he responded, wrapping an arm securely around Nasir’s waist to bring them down onto the bed without separating cock from ass.

Their kiss continued, despite the awkward angle on Nasir’s neck. Something slow and measured, truly tasting all the smoldering lust and love for one another. Nasir tugged a thick blanket over them, the chill of the night settling in over their sweaty flesh.

Eventually they settled down completely, Agron’s face nestled in Nasir’s hair while the dark man stroked his forearm with gentle fingertips. Bodies still connected and thrumming, lax with spent pleasures, it was a good way to end the day.

“Your mind has captured you today,” Nasir murmured, voice soft and sleepy. It was a casual statement, one that Agron could either take to heart and explain, or shrug off.

Agron hummed out thoughtfully, tightening his hold on Nasir. “Filled with thoughts of luck and privileged, of lover and child, of home and peace. All things once thought to be impossible.”

Nasir tangled their fingers together loosely, tugging them up under his chin to kiss along Agron’s scarred knuckles. “Pleasant thoughts, then, made special and enforced by not so pleasant memories.”

“Pleasant enough,” Agron offered loftily, his statement split by a yawn, “with many unpleasant. Of war and blood, yes, but also of love and devotion.”

Another hum, a quiet noise from Nasir before a barely there smile that Agron could feel without needing to see. “Sentimental old fool,” Nasir accused.

It was true, though, and Agron knew as much. He was becoming sentimental in his older age. Less rebellious, less self-centered. He had a family now, a home, with livestock and crop in which to care for. More so, he wanted this life. This life spent going to market to barter, coming home to find lover and son sun-warmed and happy. So much more different than he would have suspected life would play out when he was first brought to Capua in shackles.

“No argument can be thought of,” Agron finally settled on murmuring, closing his eyes to allow sleep to take him without fear of what morning would bring.