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  Agron jerked away from the Syrain as if he'd been burned. In the frenzy of tongues and lips and teeth, he'd let his hands wander idly. He'd forgotten Nasir's wound, still fresh under the bandages, until he'd pressed his palm against it.


  "I'm sorry," he said, pulling away hurriedly. Guilt caused his cheeks to color as he rose to his feet. He'd been too quick to forget that his hands were made for fighting, not for tenderness. The Roman blood on his knuckles, a last token from the Arena, should have reminded him.


  Nasir's breathing evened again, though there was an arm still wrapped cautiously around his middle.


  "Don't be, it's this cursed wound that keeps me from your touch. It is no fault of yours, just an accident" he said, extending a hand to Argon, beckoning the German back into his arms.


  "I hurt you," he said, unmoving as his eyes flicked across the smaller man's form. The color had returned to his dark skin but he still looked worn thin. Agron was not surprised; fighting for one's life against such a wound would weary any man. 


  "What should have been a harmless touch to wound forgotten is not hurting me, I promise you. Many people have hurt me," Nasir said plainly, "You forget I was a body slave. I have learned the difference between one and the other."


  He rose of weary legs, using the wall to aid him, and crossed the short distance between them. His hand came to rest against the German's bare chest, fingers playing with the twisted leather cords that hung around the gladiator's neck. Nasir's hands, Agron noticed, were no beginning to show the callouses that came with the blade. They were no longer the flawless hands of Roman pet, but the hands of a fighter.


"No one has ever felt guilt or hurt about injury caused, beyond concern that looks could be affected," he said quietly, almost to himself.


He reached up, strong hand cupping the back of Agron's neck, meeting the gladiator's pale gaze. Agron felt he could get lost in the deep darkness of Nasir's eyes. The Syrian was smiling, that small, knowing quirk of the lips that made the mountain of a man before him feel weak at the knees. 


"I have never known what it is to long for another's touch so much as I long for yours. To be near fills an emptiness in me that  I did not even realize was there. Under my Dominus, I filled it with the pride of a good servant. When Spartacus took that from me, I replaced it with rage. But when I am with you, when you lay hands upon me, I feel it only because it is no longer there."


Agron could not help the smile that touched his own lips. This little wild dog had gotten the better of him again, with sense and reason. He reached out to tuck a stray sprig of dark hair behind Nasir's ear. 


"Still, I would not see you in pain. Not after having so nearly lost you," he relented.


Nasir leaned into the brush of Agron's hand, not breaking their gaze.


"We fight a war. Pain will come," he said, taking Agron's hand in one of his own, "We will survive as best we can. But let us not speak of pain any long. I wish only to think of sleep and you beside me. Let us take to bed."


Agron's brows furrowed.


"You are not well enough for that," he insisted. 


Nasir gave a small laugh.


"Only to sleep...for now," he said, knowing smile on his lips, "When time comes for more, I will hardly be so peaceable in my want for you."