Nasir turned the radio down. No matter how loudly he turned it up, the loud angry voices out front still drowned out the music. They’d been doing so for almost half an hour. Naevia hadn’t retreated to the kitchen or called the cops so apparently there was no reason to worry. Still, it was probably driving away customers, so why was Naevia letting them carry on shouting?
He finished slicing the shortbread into fingers. Chocolate and plain, ready for the display cases. The voices were reaching an even angrier pitch. Nasir frowned. Naevia had told him to expect the unexpected working here, like it was a motto to cling to rather than a cliché to laugh at. He’d understood that after meeting Spartacus and Mira.
Taking hold of the shortbread plates, he opened the kitchen door. The raised voices hit him hard like slaps. One of the shouters was Crixus – for once, not wearing his coaching gear. The man he was aiming his furious words at made Nasir’s breath catch, and not just because he recognised him. Agron, coach and former player with the German Gladiators, stood, sneering, in the middle of the café. He was as gorgeous as he looked on television and the fire in his green eyes made something flare up volcanically inside Nasir in response. It also caused him to fumble the plates. That got everyone’s attention. Agron’s expression focused on Nasir, and somehow seemed to heat up even more. Nasir swallowed.
Naevia smiled in relief and helped him handle the plates onto the counter. Crixus nodded a greeting at Nasir before scooping up two pieces of chocolate shortbread – it was his favourite café product – and following Naevia out to the kitchen. She’d always take precedence over any argument that he was trying to win, which said a lot about the depth of Crixus's feelings for her. It never failed to make Nasir smile.
Then he remembered that Agron was still there and staring at him. Nasir cleared his throat. Letting the room stay silent would be way too awkward.
“Great game yesterday.”
“Thanks, they did good. Apart from Nemetes fucking up.”
Nasir chuckled. “You sound like Crixus.”
Agron’s expression darkened but then there was the noise of Naevia telling Crixus off for trying to steal her cheesecake and Agron smiled instead. The sight of that smile felt like a punch to Nasir’s gut. He’d always thought Agron was hot, but in the flesh, he was practically nuclear.
And Agron was smiling at him, his eyes travelling over Nasir in definite interest. Nasir’s heart hammered hard but he couldn’t help grinning back and offered to make drinks and maybe join Agron since there weren’t any other customers and it’d be weird to keep talking with a counter between them. Bold, sure, but Agron was being brilliantly obvious and when would Nasir get this chance again? Agron’s smile only widened.
They talked a lot after that, having swapped cellphone numbers, and Agron dropped into the café whenever his busy schedule allowed it. They never ran out of things to say to each other. The others teased Nasir, but Naevia also squeezed his arm and said without words how pleased she was for him. Nasir grinned back. He really enjoyed Agron’s company and that, combined with Agron's stunning physique and face, was well worth enduring any mocking from Mira and Crixus.
Then came the time when the Roman Group got especially vicious. They decided that the best way to derail Spartacus was to attack those closest to him. Mira was in her element, valiantly turning around most of the bad press that everyone associated with Fair Play, Equal Pay suffered. The things claimed about Naevia made Crixus more than furious and he had to be literally held back by Spartacus and Rhaskos several times. Naevia held her head high and constructed perfect biting counterstatements with Mira. She looked strong on camera.
“Only half of what they're saying is true, and the other half is twisting the facts.” Mira scooped up more double-chocolate brownie and soft-scoop German speciality ice cream. “Mud sticks. No one will be able to think about the campaign without also thinking about one of those possibly-true stories. We could drown in dirt before any legislation gets before the committee.”
A dark cloud hung over the campaign. And the focus on those around Spartacus meant that everyone was tailed. Private investigators, the best that money could buy, had been employed, to dig up anything that could be used as a weapon. Even after weeks of it, Nasir still stiffened every time that he clocked a car following his or whenever he glimpsed the same man out of the corner of his eye. It made him want to throw something sharp and heavy. He could understand Crixus’s rage. Instead, he got really good at evading his tail for an hour or so at a time. They all did, though the tails always found them again eventually.
One day, when Nasir was out checking some supply orders on Naevia’s behalf, somebody nearby whistled low. When he glanced over, Agron was smiling at him from behind a nearby deserted storefront. Nasir’s heart lifted and he smiled, managing to meander over casually. He hadn’t seen Agron for some time – the Roman Group’s horrific character assassinations of Agron and Duro had sent the German underground. Spartacus was convinced that if Agron wasn’t kept out of the spotlight, he’d say or do something they’d all later regret. So Agron did his usual daily coaching and appeared at matches but those were the only times that he was seen in public. Saxa and Donar made sure of it. Crixus had gone into similar lockdown, with Naevia and Rhaskos keeping an eye on him.
Agron and Nasir had been frequently communicating via text. It was an incredible rush to see him in the flesh again at last. Mira and Naevia were right – he really did have it bad. As soon as Nasir got close enough, Agron yanked him out of view of the street. Nasir's back ended up suddenly pressed against Agron's front. Nasir gasped at the abrupt and intimate contact. It felt amazing. From how close Agron was clutching him, he shared that opinion.
“Your tail lost you a block back,” Agron explained. “Mine's talking to yours. Thought I'd take advantage of the distraction.”
“Glad you did.”
Agron chuckled. He was clearly glad too – Nasir could feel very physical evidence of that. In fact......Nasir shifted slightly, electing a shuddering hiss from Agron. Yep, very glad indeed. Nasir moved again and Agron pushing his hips forward in response, gripping Nasir’s thigh hard. Nasir swallowed back a moan. Agron huffed out an amused aroused breath. Neither of them stopped moving.
Then Agron's phone bleeped. Agron muttered a string of curses, slowed their movement, and retrieved the message. Nasir took in deep breaths and smiled. He could feel sweat running down his back and Agron’s rapid heartbeat. He’d done that. He wanted more.
“Spartacus,” Agron said. “Something’s happened. I need to lose my tail.”
Nasir arched back lightly, because he wanted to and because he really liked the noises that it brought out of Agron. “I can do that for you.”
Agron’s grip on his thigh tightened again, then he pressed his stubbled face deep against Nasir’s neck and breathed in. His teeth hungrily grazed the skin there. Nasir tilted his head to give Agron better access. God, it felt good.
Agron panted against his neck. “You are…..”
His phone bleeped again. Agron groaned murderously. Clearly whatever was happening couldn’t wait. He reluctantly pulled away and Nasir turned to face him, trying to steady his breathing. He couldn’t help grinning, despite the interruption.
“Later?” he suggested.
Their first kiss happened soon after at a football game. Naevia and Nasir went together since Agron and Crixus’s teams were clashing and Naevia had left Saxa and Lugo watching the café – nobody would start serious trouble on a game day with them behind the counter. Nasir hadn’t seen Agron since their storefront encounter, a fact that deeply annoyed and frustrated both of them.
Agron spent a lot of the game shouting at the referee. It made Nasir laugh. Agron looked so on fire pitch-side, so passionate. It made similar feelings fire up inside Nasir. It made him really want to get his hands on Agron. Naevia definitely enjoyed her similar view of Crixus – he did a lot of shouting at the referee too, and the linesmen.
Post game, they fought their way to security who escorted them to the back area, the places that fans never got to see outside of television. Agron was holding court with some of his staff so Nasir hung back until the German was free. Agron lit up when he caught sight of them. Nasir grinned back, the fire inside him growing even more. Naevia nudged him and hugged Agron quickly before heading off to find Crixus, hoping to prevent him from spending too long shouting at his players.
Agron pulled Nasir into a lingering hug. Nasir held on just as tight. Then suddenly Agron was moving, taking Nasir with him, and they were tucked away around a barely-lit corner with a locked storage door behind them. Nasir laughed in surprise.
Agron waggled his eyebrows, every angle of his body oozing the kind of intent that Nasir had been hungry for for weeks now. “For old time’s sake.”
Nasir grinned, it was good to know that he wasn’t the only one with a craving. He didn’t have time to add any more to that thought because Agron pushed him up against the wall and kissed him. Nasir responded immediately – they’d both been waiting for this for way too long and he was going to enjoy and plunder every second of it. Agron tasted of sweat and mint gum and something purely Agron. Nasir pushed back, rolling his hips and licking into Agron’s mouth. He couldn’t get enough.
When Agron eventually pulled back for air, he looked dazed. Nasir squeezed his thigh.
“For old time’s sake.”
Agron growled, a sound that sent a really pleasant shiver down Nasir’s spine. “You’re free now, right? Once I’m done with the press shit…..”
Nasir squeezed Agron’s thigh again. “Ready when you are.”
Agron quickly swooped down for another kiss that Nasir greedily returned. They were both soon panting and Nasir had managed to get his hands under Agron’s jacket when Agron’s phone went off with a call from Mira – she’d given them all the time that she could but the press needed soundbites now and even Crixus had managed to peel himself away from Naevia for five minutes.
Agron dropped another lingering kiss to Nasir’s lips, his free hand making a suggestive greedy journey down Nasir’s body. “The things I’m going to do to you…….”
Nasir grinned filthily, his mind alive with ideas. “Likewise.”
They hadn’t stopped exploring each other since.