Nasir had liked Lugo when he'd first met him, but time had quickly worn the gold off the new friendship. Lugo seemed bothered by the idea of Nasir being given any tasks that Lugo himself was given -- or thought he ought to be given -- that involved fighting or weaponry. He'd even heard Lugo quip that Saxa was more of a man than Nasir (truth be told, she was more of a man that most, including Lugo). And when someone had called Nasir Agron's "little woman", Lugo laughed rather than defending Nasir. The betrayal still stung -- though not as much as the face of the man who had actually given voice to the insult, once Nasir had punched him ....
And yet, when actually given tasks that befitted a warrior -- such as the night watch they were on right now -- Lugo treated it like the job was a joke and slept instead! How did the man have such big muscles when he didn't seem to do anything to keep them?
Nasir fought the impulse to smack the man in the back of the head when Lugo refused to keep his eyes open. He'd already gotten into a few tussles with the man in the last week, and Spartacus had voiced displeasure over it.
"I already grow concerned about bad blood between Agron and Crixus -- I need you to be level-headed one, so that I, in turn, can rely on Agron as I need to."
Spartacus had a way of tempering reprimands with praise; it was part of what made him a good leader, and why Nasir didn't want to disappoint the man. And so Nasir bit back his anger and ignored the German, scanning the backside of the temple. He let his gaze rest on Agron, sleeping below, for just a moment, wishing he could be warm and asleep beside his lover instead of awake and cold beside the oaf.
The next thing he knew, he was falling off the wall, a hand stilling his cry of alarm.
"Stay here, and stay quiet," came the commanding voice of Spartacus. Nasir watched in great confusion as the leader of the slave rebellion hoisted himself over the wall in the garb of a Roman centurion.
"What they doing?" Lugo asked.
"Silence!" Nasir hissed. Did the man purposefully not obey orders, or was he just that much of an idiot?
Well, Nasir did as he was told ... at least, at first. The sounds of commotion concerned Nasir, though -- he worried for his lover and his leader alike. He ran for the temple entrance, not caring if Lugo followed or not. Once he got inside and heard Spartacus telling everyone that they would be dead if it hadn't been a test, Nasir wished he hadn't come in, ashamed at his failure as a watchman. To be fair, he had been watching for outside threats, those that would have come from a distance, not circled around the base of the wall, but still ... if he hadn't been distracted with thoughts of Agron -- or his anger at Lugo -- maybe he would have heard them ....
Humiliation was revisited the next morning when the subject of the breached wall was brought up. Nasir wanted to rip Lugo's ears off when the man suggested that Nasir was lacking in manhood and unfit to stand watch beside him. The fact that Agron took Lugo to task for sleeping on the job soothed Nasir some, in that it demonstrated Agron's love for him -- but at the same time, Nasir suspected that it wasn't doing his reputation any favours. Case in point, Crixus called Nasir Agron's "boy" not a moment later. Nasir wasn't sure whether he was angrier that he was seen as needing defending, or that Crixus insulted Agron yet again. Never mind that Agron had saved Naevia when the Gaul had been oblivious to the cries of his own beloved! And what was wrong with Agron laying into Lugo for sleeping on watch? Agron hadn't been the one with guard duty -- he was no more at fault than anyone else who was sleeping in the courtyard, like Oenomaus! Yet Crixus did not criticize the former doctore! Besides, as leader of the Germans, it was only right that Agron be the one to discipline Lugo -- and it was not the place of anyone but Spartacus to discipline Argon!
And then Lugo had to go and complain about Nasir having a sword when he didn't. Nasir would have given in to his increasing ire, if not for Agron bringing him back to himself by blocking Nasir's way with his arm. Thankfully the act reminded Nasir that there was a larger discussion going on. Proving to Lugo that Nasir was worthy of his sword would have to wait a little while.
Finally, Spartacus dismissed everyone -- with Oenomaus ordering Nasir back on the wall with Lugo.
Agron took Nasir's face in his hand just then, wagging a stern finger at him. "Behave yourself. There will be plenty of time to teach Lugo a lesson after your shift on the watch is done."
Nasir couldn't decide if it was better or worse that Agron wasn't going to be there to hold him in check in the meantime. As he stood on the wall, he tried to avoid looking at Lugo, as every glimpse seemed to stoke the fire of Nasir's anger. A short while later, he caught a glimpse of Agron leaving with several others. Wondering and worrying about where the man was going only served to agitate Nasir further.
When Lugo bumped into Nasir as they paced the wall, nearly knocking him off, it was just too much.
"Oh, apologies, little man! I not see you, you so small!" Lugo sneered.
Rage flooded Nasir like venom. Hissing, he shoved the man right off the wall. Fortunately (or unfortunately), Lugo fell on the temple-side, landing in the wooden awning and rolling off, grasping the wood so as to halt his fall.
"Nasir!" Oenomaus barked.
Nasir met the other man's gaze for a moment, then ducked his head. He respected Oenomaus almost as much as Spartacus, and it grieved him to have disappointed the man. "Apologies. The heat makes anger quick to rise."
"Just as it makes sense -- and Germans -- quick to fall, it seems," Oenomaus replied, bemused, as Lugo struggled to regain the wall. "Lugo! Lose your footing again, and find yourself training instead!"
"Little man attack me, and I get punishment?" Lugo protested.
"I am not blind," Oenimaus snapped. "Bait a man as you did Nasir, and catch what you deserve. Get back up there and see to it that it doesn't happen again."
As everyone else turned their attention back to their tasks, Gannicus made his way up the wall and sat beside Nasir.
"Six eyes are better than four," the man explained, shrugging at Nasir's querying look.
Nasir shrugged back and turned his attention to scanning the treeline. Curiosity got the better of him, though; Agron had told him how disparaging Gannicus had been of their efforts. "Why do you stay?" he asked the man.
"I doubtless have price on head now. "
"Because you killed Glaber's men and captured his wife?"
Gannicus nodded. They were silent for a long moment.
When it was clear the man wouldn't say more unprompted, Nasir asked, "Why did you do that?"
"I hoped Spartacus would be satisfied with her blood and end foolish war."
"Why would you think that? Spartacus does not fight for self alone! He fights for all!"
"So I see now," Gannicus grumbled.
"It is more than that; even if he had stopped fighting, Argon would not, nor would I. Probably not the rest of the villa slaves, or the Gauls, or the Germans, either. "
On the other side of Gannicus, Lugo snorted. "Little man say one thing true, at least."
Focusing on the memory of Agron's admonishment for a moment, Nasir managed to ignore Lugo and his slight, and continue. "And even if we would not continue to fight, we are all dead men. Glaber would end us to prove point. There is no retreat now."
"So it would seem," Gannicus agreed.
Gannicus spotted the approaching wagon first, but Nasir noted something the other man did not, that Agron led it, and reported so. Crixus, of course, was furious, believing Agron to have repeated a recent mistake. When Spartacus revealed that the approaching wagon was procured under orders, Nasir smiled faintly, nodding. He knew his beloved could be counted on, and he reveled at Crixus being proven wrong in favour of Agron.
Agron finally got close enough that Nasir could see his eyes; the German waved a hand high in greeting, which Nasir enthusiastically returned. Spartacus came up beside Nasir, watching. "It seems Agron succeeded in mission. Perhaps you might reward him with more intimate welcome than gesture from afar?"
Grinning fiercely, Nasir leapt down from his perch and raced towards his returning lover. He was gratified when Agron left the wagon in the care of his comrades and hurried to meet him. As Agron wrapped his arms around him, Nasir both thanked the gods and prayed that the war would end soon -- even if their reunions did more than make up for the fear and worry he felt whenever they were apart.
As he kissed Agron, it took a moment to register that something was different. "You taste of wine!" Nasir remarked when Agron let him breathe.
"Such was our mission -- Spartacus charged us with finding libation," Agron confirmed, grinning.
Nasir returned the smile without feeling. He'd paid dearly for previous indulgence, and wasn't eager to repeat the experience. He envied Agron's apparent ability to enjoy drink without penalty ....
"You do not drink?" Agron asked Nasir, disappointed at the lack of a cup in the man's hand as the wine was passed around the temple.
"Wine does not like me as I like it," Nasir explained, ducking his head. Agron's heart melted with the gesture, as always. "I am content to taste it only upon your lips," Nasir added, glancing at Agron slyly.
"Then taste it now," Agron suggested, pleased when Nasir eagerly took him up on the offer.
A short while later, Agron stood with his arm around Nasir, feeling contented, as Spartacus explained his intentions for the day. He took a perverse mirth at Nasir's obvious disgust upon learning he was to be paired off with Lugo for a match. Agron tugged his lover close and touched his forehead against Nasir's a moment, heart as awash with the warmth of love as his body was with the warmth of wine. Then he reluctsantly let the man slip from his embrace and face the task Spartacus had given.
Agron smirk as his little spitfire stood up to Lugo. The smirk became a ferocious grin as Nasir pounce like a lion on Nemetes. Even when Nemetes eventually turned the tables, Agron still burned with pride for Nasir. Nemetes was obviously a warrior of many years, after all, while Nasir was a fighter only newly born: that Nasir held his own against the man as long and well as he had was a feat worthy of praise.
Despite Nasir's refusal of wine earlier, after the fight, Agron found him with cup in-hand, and it worried him: dark thoughts, he knew all too well, were the worst reason to dink, and only made the mind even darker. Seeing Nasir act like a kicked dog after the fight broke Agron's heart, but he knew coddling Nasir would not serve him -- not in the days of war to come. Doubtless Nasir would not welcome such treatment anyway. So instead, Agron gave him advice, and restrained himself to only touching Nasir's chin, to examine the cut lip there. He was gratified when Nasir smiled, even as the youth pulled away like a child shirking off his mother's attentions. Argon gave Nasir's head a playful, affectionate shove, and tried not to think how much Nasir reminded him of Duro just then.
And then Lugo showed up. "We lose ..."
Agron knew he had to let Nasir fight his own battles, but he found himself tensing anyway.
"... but little man fight like giant!" Lugo finished, grinning broadly.
Agron grinned as well, happy to see Nasir and Lugo embrace warmly, as the friends they had started out as. He could tell Nasir was relieved to be on good terms with the man again; Agron was glad too.
Nasir's mood was palpably lighter as they watched the next match, and Agron found himself relaxing accordingly -- at least until Spartacus announced the next pairings. If his stomach didn't turn so at the thought of fighting alongside the Gaul, he might have better appreciated Nasir's own mirth over it. Or maybe it was Nasir's amusement that kept Agron from being even more disgusted than he was. He wasn't sure whether to be relieved or upset that Crixus was to be his ally rather than his opposition -- especially when he learned that his opponent was Oenomaus!
Agron tried his best during the fight, but he wasn't terribly surprised when Oenomaus thoroughly trounced him. He would have questioned the claim Spartacus had made that he was pitting everyone against their equals, but there would be no point: there was no pair at Crixus and Agron's level who likewise had a grudge to shed, and no such opponent in the gap between his and the level of Oenomaus and Gannicus. Besides, in battle, one always ran the risk of fighting one's betters. He just hoped that when the time came and the battle was to the death, he would survive ....
In the meantime, he had Nasir's embrace to balm his pride.
"You fought well," Nasir murmured against Agron's chest.
"Did you not see fight? I lost," Agron chuckled.
"But you stood ground far longer than most could against Oenomaus!" Nasir pointed out.
Crixus approached just then, a smiling Naevia at his side. Despite his friend's smile, Nasir tensed alongside Agron, as if they shared one body. When he realised that Crixus was offering, at long last, peace, a fledgling smiled pulled at his lips as he hoped Agron would accept. The smile matured into a beaming one when Agron grinned and clasped arms with his rival. Crixus offered wine and commiseration. Overjoyed at the treaty, Nasir smiled at Naevia and put an arm around her. The two friends had often talked of their mutual wish that their beloveds would get past their grudges and see one another for the allies they were supposed to be. Now, it seemed Nasir had another thing to thank the gods for that day -- especially Bacchus, and the gift of peacemaking wine.