When Agron leaves Spartacus and Mira, the ghost of a plan towards the arena in Capua turned to fully-realized plot, he knows that he should get what rest he can before departing in a few hours’ time. Common sense be damned. Too long has he been from Nasir’s side, and if Naevia’s words are any indication, the chance to be so now is a gift he must cherish before they part once again, either by his departure for Capua or alternative paths he tries not to think too hard on.
Medicus explains that she sent Naevia to sleep, a thing for which he is grateful. The girl deserves rest after all she has endured, but above all things her presence is a tacit reminder to Agron of all he now stands to lose.
Gods be fucked, when did he and the Gaul begin to stand on such common ground?
He supposes, really, it was the moment Crixus himself gasped, “The boy, Nasir,” and the Syrian had refused to be sorry. Fury had coursed through him, rage at having been betrayed, but with it came something else. Something new. Something a little like pride, strong, palpable, that spoke to the corner of Agron’s mind that had admired a wild little dog for taking on the Bringer of Rain. Something a little like what he imagined his parents had felt, all those years ago, when they had that look in their eye like they wanted to devour each other whole.
Agron braces his hands, arms length apart, leans upon the stone berth where Nasir now lies, and bows his head. Medicus has assured him that the worst has passed. Nasir will live. This does nothing to assuage the nerves coursing through him - the wound is far beyond anything he himself has ever endured, and through his fear Agron feels a tiny spark of that same pride.
He yet fights. That is what he told Spartacus, a thing he has thought of the young man time and time again.
From the very first moment Agron has been so much as aware of his existence, Nasir has fought. Fought first against the turning over of his world, now to defend his reclaimed identity. The spirit he possesses has brought a change over Agron, he can acknowledge that now – it is no longer Duro’s face, smeared with blood and lifeless, that swims before his eyes as darkness and sleep claim him, but Nasir’s, hiss upon his lips and poised to strike, ready to take on this strange new world absent all he once knew. Ready to claim the life that is rightfully his in memory of what was stolen.
With overtures ignored – a tender hand upon cheek, concern for his well-being above others given voice, the occasional crude comment slipped in when he was of a mood – it is too much to hope for that they will do so together, but perhaps they might as brothers now that Nasir has shown him the way.
Damp strands of black hair cling to the Syrian’s clammy forehead, beads of sweat upon his pale face. Gently, Agron brushes his fingers along the fevered heat of Nasir’s brow, tucking the ebony lock behind his ear. He yet fights.
“Agron,” he murmurs, and the German freezes. Nasir shifts slightly, craning his neck to an odd angle before returning it to a more comfortable position, yet his eyes remain closed. Agron lets his hand travel down to cup his burning cheek, unsure what to do beyond that, unsure of what to do with the distinct impression that his tongue has slid down and become stuck somewhere in his esophagus.
Nasir relaxes into the feel of Agron’s palm and says, “Stay close by. Help shoulder weight.”
Still frozen in place, Agron’s eyes widen. He glances at Medicus, hesitant, who sets aside what herbs she is twisting together, stands, says, “Fever dreams. A thing to be expected, yet they shall pass. I will be in the yard should his condition change.”
He returns his gaze to the man beneath him for a moment only before her words set in and he realizes they are alone. A canny woman, Medicus. They have not been afforded such privacy since parting ways, and trepidation battles with elation at the prospect. Unconscious or no, Nasir, on the other hand, seems perfectly at ease.
“I have never known such gentle touch,” he says thickly, and Agron can’t help but brush his thumb across the smooth skin of the darker man’s cheek, palm still firmly cupped to jawline the color of burnt gold. “Dominus was a jealous man, one unwilling to share me, yet that did not always prompt him to take care.”
The thought of a Roman shit’s hands upon Nasir – a cut lip, his mind’s eye conjures for him, bruises flowering in blues and purples upon neck and back, impassive composure the likes of which Naevia and Benipé donned a lifetime ago clumsily hiding an inelegant limp – brings blood to Agron’s cheeks, as does the thought of Nasir being displayed about as some favored pet.
He wants to tell him to stop, that he shouldn’t be revealing such things when he is of unsound mind, but Agron stands helpless and transfixed at the sound of his voice.
“I was sold to him when I was still a small child,” Nasir continues, his voice barely louder than a whisper yet an all-consuming roar within Agron’s ears. “He made his desire known some years later… I had to teach myself many things. How to please. How to observe. How to make myself invaluable. How to make myself rise to a man I did not desire. How not to place care in my own wants. Desire was a dangerous thing. But I desire you – “ and Agron’s breathe hitches at that “ – and I am unsure if that is yet something to be feared.”
“Never,” Agron wants to say, and perhaps he does. It does not matter. He slumps to his knees and takes Nasir’s hand in both of his, holds it close to his chest.
How is it that the very man who taught him to live without Duro could have been taught to fear such basic wants of men? Agron’s teeth clench. To live as a slave is to be made to suffer base humiliations, a thing he knows well. It has never before occurred to him that to be raised as a slave is to be groomed in ways unfathomable to freeborn men.
All these weeks, with each passing day his desire has grown to hold Nasir close in his arms, a desire ignored out of respect for the man’s disinterest. Never once has it occurred to him that such longings are shared, only to be ignored out of a well-trained fear.
Inwardly, Agron vows to do as Nasir has asked. He will help shoulder the weight until such burdens are a thing of the past, long forgotten. They will fight together now.
“We will keep each other safe,” he promises, pressing a kiss to his knuckles. “And when you wake, stronger even than before, you will know.”