Nasir woke in their tent to find Agron at the end of their blankets, muttering to himself as he sorted out his armor. Tangled and twisted from last night when they were discarded in haste rather than properly put away, it was an interesting mess of leather and metal.
He took a moment to appreciate the play of muscles in Agron’s back, from broad shoulders to the small dip above his ass. Scars, faded white and angry pink, littered his skin and told the story of the past six months better than any poet’s recitation.
Nasir reached a foot out and pressed it against Agron’s back, laughing softly when he jumped.
“I would not see more scars here,” he said.
Agron grunted in response and took hold of Nasir’s foot, pulling him out of his warm cocoon of blankets by his ankle. He flailed for a bit but quickly gained his balance and sat up, kicking away Agron’s hands.
“Why do curses spill from your mouth so early? You could not have seen Crixus yet.”
Agron held up the tangled mess of his baldric, shoulder guard, and torn pieces of a former ring-mail shirt.
There were few pieces of armor salvaged from the Roman shits that could fit Agron’s frame. Even this mess of straps and buckles was tight on him, leaving impressions on his skin, yet it was still better than no protection at all. He also lacked the agility and skill of both Gannicus and Crixus, who wore much less armor. Gannicus certainly believed arrogance to be its own shield . Of them all, Agron presented a larger target, standing head and shoulders above almost all other Rebels.
Nasir leaned forward, wrapping his arms around Agron’s waist and resting his chin on his shoulder. He smiled at the sharp intake of breath; Agron still so pleased and surprised to be touched in love. It was still new to Nasir as well, to be able to have whatever he wanted, whenever he needed it.
“Do you not enjoy it when I dress you each dawn?”
Agron turned his head, and nuzzled Nasir’s face, lips gently brushing together in a far too quick touch.
“It feels like a benediction each time you prepare me for battle.”
“Then save such harsh words for Roman fucks. I would not see you so displeased in our bed.”
He laughed as Agron dropped his armor and turned fully around, leaning his forehead against Nasir’s own. They stayed that way for but a moment, breathing in each other’s scents and steadying heartbeats. This was their time, no thoughts given to past mistakes or the battles to come, just a moment of peace in the middle of blood-soaked ground.
Nasir titled his head just enough to capture Agron’s lips in a soothing kiss. It was a greeting, a promise, and a prayer. He hoped each night to welcome the day in such a manner and each time it occurred he thanked whichever gods were listening. He pulled back, smiling at the happiness in Agron’s eyes.
“Come,” Agron said, lifting him off the blankets, “help me with this mess.”
He toed the pile of leather once Agron put him down. “I suppose it would only be proper since I caused it.”
Agron’s hands rested on Nasir’s hips as he leaned down to quickly nip the side of his neck. “A welcomed distraction at the time. Spartacus calls for a meeting though and I foresee a raid before the noonday sun.”
“As true a prediction as you and Crixus coming to words,” Nasir said.
“We refrain from coming to blows; do not take our insults away from us.”
Nasir just shook his head as he easily undid the knots and tangles. He was used to such a task from a lifetime ago, and found it much easier than Agron. Little knots did not frustrate Nasir like the knowledge that he would have to stay behind again from whatever plan Spartacus conceived between now and the end of the morning meal. Nasir knew he was valued among the leaders and they relied on his ability to organize and delegate. Naevia was the older of the two former body slaves, but Nasir had years running a much larger and wealthier household above her. It was almost second nature, organizing the simple but essential things to keep the Rebels supplied. It was Mira’s former position, and taking up her mantle still felt almost like a betrayal, but he did so in honor of her memory.
Agron pressed tight against his back. “I would have you speak thoughts.”
“Only reflections of where we stand now.” He squeezed Agron’s forearms before turning around. “Let’s see this done then.”
Agron held his arms out for the first set of straps. Nasir quickly helped untwist them and lay them flat across his skin before circling around to Agron’s back. He needed a stool to help fasten and buckle everything. First, though, Nasir needed to complete his own routine. Nasir knew Agron had traditions of preparing himself from when he fought in his homeland and in the arena. This time between them was now ritual shared with Nasir. He touched, kissed, and whispered prayers into every bit of skin before he covered it. He dragged fingers across the side of Agron’s neck and all skin left bare.
Nasir paused when it came time to fasten Agron’s ring mail. His fingers lingered over the Gorgoneion that rested on Agron’s right shoulder, ready to fasten mail to pendant. He remembered the discussion they had when Nasir insisted Agron must choose this armor over the others. A protection symbol, stolen by the Romans and adapted to their own use, would find its revenge covering Agron. It was only a symbol and yet, it helped Nasir breathe easier to know that the eyes of death guarded and guided Agron.
Next came the stomach guards, the leg greaves, and lastly, the vambraces over Agron’s wrists. Nasir stood back and admired his work, knowing that all the attempts at perfection would be ruined the moment Agron stepped out of the tent and into a patch of mud; or Lugo; or Saxa.
Agron took Nasir’s face in his hands and kissed him softly. Then again. And another. Nasir felt worshipped when Agron was like this, so thankful and careful, almost delicate in his actions. They’d taken too long though and the voices gathering outside their tent sounded more disgruntled with each passing breath.
“Go,” Nasir said. “Act out your intimidating show to put our new members in their places. Find me whenever Spartacus gives you leave.”
“I will find you whether he gives me leave or not.”
Nasir’s laughter followed him out of the tent and into the camp.