The budget cuts to the local public schools brought none of the students joy, especially when they heard their rival school had closed. The Ludus and Villa were to merge. In practice, that meant they shoved all the Villa students into Ludus’s slightly bigger building and cram even more desks into the classrooms.
As a junior, and someone who’d played against Villa since starting high school, Agron was not happy with this development, Crixus even more so. Not that he cared about what Crixus thought. Spartacus, on the other hand, was far too upbeat about it. Agron still remembered the speech he gave the other day.
“We should be mad at the politicians, not our classmates. We’re all Rebels now. They’re not any happier than us, so we need to make the best of this. If we join--”
Crixus interrupted him by leaning into Naevia and grumbling “does he have to keep doing this?”
Agron hated to agree with him on yet another subject. He did anyway.
But reasoning with Spartacus on this matter proved fruitless, as usual. Agron resigned himself to his other option: ignoring the existence of the newcomers aside from glaring firmly at them.
Once again, the school hadn’t put his and Duro’s lockers anywhere near each other. Agron ascended a flight of stairs without him and several more minutes of trudging later he stopped. He looked at the locker number listed on his slip of paper and to the numbers in front of him.
The bottom locker.
“Fucking administrators,” Agron growled as he dropped to his knees. He pulled his books out, shoving the ones he didn’t need until lunch into his new locker.
With all the footsteps echoing through the halls, he didn’t notice someone behind him until the person cleared his throat. Only then did Agron look up. This someone had to be a freshman. First of all, the guy was short, slim, and Agron surely would have noticed him from either school. He couldn’t forget those eyes.
“Yeah?” he said louder than he intended.
The freshman reached above Agron’s head and tapped the locker door. “I’m above you.”
“That’ll be my lucky day.”
The cutie’s eyes began to roll but he caught himself. Adjusting his backpack, he took a step back so that Agron had room to tower over him.
“Thanks.” He reached for his locker again, pulling it open now that Agron had moved. His head didn’t even reach the top of his locker.
“We can switch.”
Agron’s classmate turned to him, lips pressed together for a moment before he spoke. “Do you always move this fast?”
Agron tapped the metal door. “I meant the lockers.” He smiled. “But if you want--”
Hottie (formerly Cutie, now promoted) parted his lips, his eyes wide. Once the last few words fully registered, his cheeks flushed. “Oh. I--”
They both turned. Naevia waved at them both. Agron started to wave his hand until he realized that his own name failed to follow-- Nasir’s? So that was the freshman’s name? Before he had time to follow up that revelation with more questions, Naevia had pounced on Nasir, wrapping him in a hug. When they pulled away, Naevia brushed back a lock of Nasir’s hair.
“You’re wearing it down now,” she commented.
“And yours is braided. I love it.”
Agron looked from Naevia to Nasir. Alright. He hadn’t heard about any drama between Crixus and Naevia and definitely no break ups. That meant…
Oh, thank God.
Agron cleared his throat. “You know each other?”
“We went to middle school together.” Naevia turned to her friend. “This is Agron.” She paused. Her voice was no longer as light. “He’s Spartacus’s friend.”
Nasir’s eyes flicked to Agron’s, their soft brown color now darker. “Spartacus?” Harsh voice or not, his cold expression soon passed. “I suppose you’re a teammate of his?”
“Yeah, football and--” Agron stopped himself. “You’re not a freshman?”
“I’m from Villa. I played soccer. Spartacus is very skilled.”
“You’re a slave?”
“Agron!” Naevia hissed.
Right. No derogatory nicknames for former Villa students.
Nasir narrowed his eyes. “Habit?”
Fuck. “Bad habit.” Fuuuck. Agron opened his mouth again. “I mean--”
“I know,” Nasir said shortly. He shoved the rest of his books in his locker and closed it. “I’ll see you at the end of the day.”
Naevia shot him a long glare before she took Nasir’s arm and pulled him away with her.
Agron shook his head but a sigh followed the act. “Fucking ass.” Which he would not be doing.
For break, Agron and Spartacus convened in the hall.
Spartacus surveyed their fellow students, nodding. “So far, I think we’re all getting along well.”
“Mm.” Agron glanced down the hall.
“Who are you looking for?”
“Do you know Nasir?”
Spartacus’s eyes darted to follow Agron’s gaze. His face fell when he found nothing but other chatting students. “I’ve been looking for him. I want him on my team.”
“You want him on your team?”
“Have you seen him in action?”
Agron bit back a less than savory response, allowing Spartacus to continue.
“He’s knocked me to the ground and gotten past me on more than one occasion. He needs more work. But if I can train him, he’ll be one of our best players.”
“Damn, Spartacus. I’m supposed to be the gay one. Did she break your heart that much?”
The muscles in Spartacus’s face tightened.
“Sorry,” Agron added. Bringing up Sura was a dumb move. She’d only moved last month. “No need to prove you’re straight. I’ll be gayer so no one notices your man crush.”
Whether or not that was the best method of comfort, Spartacus smiled. “I don’t think it’s possible for you to be gayer.”
“It’s not.” Duro came up from behind them and ruffled Agron’s hair.
Agron swatted him away. “Cut it out.”
“What’s your next class?” Duro asked.
“How many times have I told you my schedule?” Agron snapped, then unfolded said schedule to check. “Art.”
“Try not to draw too many dicks,” Duro said.
Agron looked at Spartacus but found only a shrug instead of any encouragement.
“Fucking art,” Agron muttered.
He’d never been in an art class before, save in sixth grade, and recalled little from that. Wait, he did. A a girl sat uncomfortably close to him and batted her eyes at him. No wonder he didn’t remember much.
No one passed him on the way to the classroom. With a few more minutes to go before break was over, he’d be among the first ones there. Pushing the door open, Who he saw made his stomach twist because it sure as hell couldn’t flutter.
Nasir, with his backpack already deposited at a desk, stood in front of the teacher. They chatted about-- something. Agron understood impressionism and all that shit but this was on another level. One he really hoped wasn’t going to be on a first day pop quiz.
The teacher, a middle aged, stereotypical (in Agron’s mind) artist with graying hair pulled back into a loose ponytail, looked over at him and smiled. “Ah, and another one. Sorry, Nasir.” He haphazardly pulled out a sheet of paper. “What’s your name, son?”
Somehow, Agron managed not to roll his eyes and restricted himself to a curling of his lip. “Agron.”
“An Agron and a Nasir. I won’t forget those.”
The teacher didn’t catch Nasir’s eyeroll.
“Zimmerman?” the teacher continued.
“Ah, like The Doctor’s creator in Star Trek. Have you got that a lot?”
Agron glanced at Nasir, who shrugged.
“No,” Agron replied.
“Wouldn’t expect it from someone like you.” The teacher set down his sheet of paper and turned to Nasir.
“Someone like me?” Agron practically barked the words.
The teacher glanced over at him lazily. “I’ve heard of an Agron before. Football?”
The teacher clucked. The popping sound of his tongue striking his mouth vibrated in Agron’s skull. “Typical,” he said. “Nasir, I can tell you more about--”
“No, thanks.” Nasir’s icy expression was a sight far worse than the one he’d given Agron earlier that morning. “I need to pick a seat.” He turned to Agron. “I play soccer so I never caught onto basketball’s rules. Can you teach me?”
Agron threw his backpack onto a seat in the corner. “Sure.”
Nasir took the seat next to him. They had a proper table instead of a desk but Nasir moved his chair closer regardless.
“That was great.” Agron grinned.
“I hate those guys who think you can’t like art and sports at the same time,” Nasir spoke quietly then dropped his voice to a whisper. Or a mutter. “Assholes.”
“Do you think we should have taken poetry instead?”
Nasir smiled. “I’m not good at it.”
“And you think I am? I can’t even draw.”
“I’ll teach you if he won’t.”
“Good, then we’ll pass together or fail together.” Agron held out his hand.
Nasir paused. His gaze trailed slowly up from Agron’s hands to his eyes before taking it.
“I knew you weren’t so bad.” Agron just noticed his grin had never left his face.
Slowly, Nasir mirrored it.
Regardless of how quickly Agron had warmed to Nasir, his new not-quite friend was still cagey around him. But what else could he expect of a slave-- no. He couldn’t think that. Nasir was just… reserved.
After whispering on and off until class ended, Agron and Nasir made their way out.
Though he’d like to do some other making out. But first…
“Hey!” Agron called when Nasir’s path diverged from his.
“Yes?” Nasir’s head turned to dart away from the people brushing past him.
“Spartacus wants you--”
Nasir jerked his head back to look at Agron, eyes firmly fixed on him.
“On his team,” Agron finished quickly.
“Spartacus?” Nasir repeated skeptically.
“He thinks you’re really good. You landed him on his ass several times, right?”
Nasir’s eyebrows went up at that. “I did. And he still wants me on his team?”
“Yeah. You should join us for lunch.”
Nasir hesitated but as the seconds ticked by, he finally came to… “I’ll think about it.”
With the influx of largely unwanted students, Agron had a more difficult time finding his brother and friends. But Duro’s unkempt hair could be spotted if not a mile away, then ten feet of crowded teenagers away. As he came closer, he saw Spartacus, then the shorter but broader Crixus.
“What kept you?” Crixus asked. “Get lost?”
“Did Naevia?” Agron replied. “Don’t you share one hip?”
“Only sometimes.” Duro laughed.
Before Crixus could grab Duro, Spartacus stepped between them and nodded in Agron’s direction. “There’s Naevia-- and Nasir.”
“She mentioned bringing him,” Crixus huffed. His gaze remained locked on Duro.
“And you let her?” Duro said, grinning, ignorant of how Crixus’s nostrils flared.
Agron leaned into his brother. “Pretty sure he plays for the other team,” he muttered.
“Not anymo-- oh damn it, Agron.”
Agron nodded, not at Duro but Nasir.
“Crixus!” Naevia sped up her pace and left Nasir behind. Moving as one, as always, Crixus pulled Naevia against him while she leaned in. She wasn’t the only one to receive a half hug.
Agron didn’t recognize the girl. Her blond hair was tied back. She draped over Nasir much in the same way Naevia clung to Crixus. Or vice versa.
“I’ve been looking for you,” the girl continued playfully.
“Naevia’s introducing me to her friends.” Nasir nodded. “Crixus, it’s nice to finally meet you.”
Crixus nodded in return, grumbling something that vaguely sounded like “you too.”
The girl clinging to Nasir stepped away from him, her eyes falling on Agron. “And who are you?” she asked, her voice taking on a sultry tone.
Nasir covered his laugh by holding a hand to his mouth and clearing his throat. “Chadara, that’s Agron. He has the locker below mine.”
“Oh.” Given the sudden change in Chadara’s look and the step back she took, she’d heard about him already.
That was good, right?
Spartacus cleared his throat. “Nasir? I’ve been wanting to talk to you.”
Nasir met his eyes. He had to raise his head a considerable distance, his chin jutting out as a result. “I thought you would.”
Agron cleared his throat too but it his hopes were soon dashed. Negotiations were already in progress as Spartacus and Nasir moved closer to speak. He was now left behind with Chadara, who’d somehow summoned Mira.
So he shoved his food into his mouth and waited for a chance to say something. Duro stole his attention instead. Well, he thought as he cast his seventh glances at Nasir in under five minutes, Duro had mostly stolen his attention.
The rest of the day passed without incidence. Which was to say, he dealt with some asshole classmates new and old, got into a (sadly only verbal) sparring session with Crixus. And did not see Nasir again.
Agron arrived at his locker almost as soon as class ended. Longing for home, his fingers were still remarkably slow when it came to grasping his books. His arms were slower in responding as well. When he’d finished packing his backpack and still had no company, he shoved his books back into his locker again.
Agron closed his eyes when he heard Nasir’s voice behind him. Betrayed by too many loud classmates in the hall (assholes) and Nasir’s quiet footsteps (magnificent).
Agron pushed himself away so he could roll back against the next locker and-- winced as his back hit the lock. Ignoring it, he spoke as smoothly as one could with a chunk of metal digging into his skin. “Waiting for someone.”
Nasir looked at him, less wary than he’d been earlier that day. Almost, dare Agron say, at ease?
Scratch that. He wouldn’t go that far.
“I’m not,” Nasir said. He quickly and smoothly-- as smoothly as those small yet defined muscles in his arms-- exchanged some books from his backpack and locker. “Everyone else is busy. I think Spartacus wanted to see me but--"
“But he really comes on hard with the recruiting. I know.” Agron move away from the locker and made an attempt to discreetly rub the now sore spot on his back. “I’ll save you from him.”
“I appreciate that.” Nasir smiled.
Agron’s knees didn’t give way or melt into a puddle, no matter what his senses told him. “Do you have a car I can walk you to?”
“You think a ‘slave’ owns a car?” Nasir retorted.
Agron winced. Two sore spots hit in five minutes. “Sorry, it slips out. You Villa students have to call us something, too.”
“Mostly rude gestures with our fingers.”
Agron nodded at the memory of certain games played against the now nonexistent school. “Yeah, I remember that. Hey, I can walk you outside. I have to drive my brother and I home.”
Nasir nodded. Then he fell into step not quite alongside Agron but slightly behind him. No stolen glances for a while, then.
“You must live pretty far away?”
“Farther than I’d like,” Nasir said. “I’ll manage.”
“With the bus?” Agron crinkled his face in disgust. His own memories of that bus had involved a lot of unpleasant scents and only staying awake because of the hard seats.
“Naevia and Crixus offered to take me some of the way.”
A car ride with the school’s most affectionate couple. He stopped his brain before it could summon an image of that. Seeing them at school was enough. Seeing them after school was when he practiced a lot of avoiding glancing in their general direction until they’d restrained themselves to cuddling. He looked at Nasir. “Good luck with that.”
Nasir smiled but his face was grim. The haunted look of a man who had seen too much even in the small lunch period and breaks they’d had that day. “They’re not that bad.”
“Well, Gannicus is worse,” Agron conceded.
Naevia and Crixus hadn’t been caught mid blow job under the bleachers like a high school student straight out of a movie.
“I’ll remember that.”
“Be strong, little man.”
Nasir glared. Agron grinned. And together they found their way out of the school. Which was good for Nasir, as Agron almost lost track of him and had to steer him back in the right direction.
As soon as they were out, Chadara swooped in. A blur of waving blond hair, flashing white teeth, and a holding fucking chatterbox in her mouth. She mentioned something about Pietros and oh my God look there was that boyfriend he was talking about. Agron followed their eyes and saw a slim, decidedly twinky teenage boy in the arms of--
“Barca? With that fucking slave?”
Chadara whirled around at the same time as Nasir but she was quicker to the draw. Proceeding to flip Agron off, she then led Nasir away.
“Fucking beast of Carthage,” Agron muttered. Ruining his first day.
“FUCKING BEAST OF CARTHAGE!” Duro yelled behind him, now that Barca and-- Pietros moved on to kissing in defiance of them. “What the f--”
Agron clamped his hand over Duro’s mouth before Nasir’s expression turned into a full on scowl.
Could this get any worse?
Duro’s arms remained folded over his chest for the entire drive to school. Agron grit his teeth and, after giving it further consideration, decided that making them late would be a spiteful thing to do. Even if Duro made him look worse in front of Nasir. Agron had the right to do that all on his own, damn it.
They might have exchanged words about how he’d only known Nasir for “one fucking day and you barely saw him.”
Actually, on even further consideration, Agron didn’t feel like talking to Duro either.
They continued in silence, all the way to the parking lot, into the school, and parted that way too. Though they exchanged a wave first and Duro might have nodded. Agron’s eyes already focused farther ahead before he fully registered it. What caught his eye was the very same silky black hair he’d admired yesterday, attached to someone he’d admired as a whole yet more.
“Agron.” Nasir glanced over his shoulder at him.
“You survived the ride home.”
Agron received an almost blank stare in response for several moments before Nasir’s lips curved.
“I don’t think Crixus wanted to endanger Naevia by distracting her while she drove.”
“Good idea. Who’d have thought he can have those.”
“She wouldn’t be interested in him if he couldn't,” Nasir said lightly. He slowed to let Agron catch up, feigning struggle with the stairs. As if those lean but well muscled legs couldn’t propel him up fast enough to land him a spot on the soccer team on day one.
Agron tilted his head just a bit. “Not a strong defense of your friend’s boytoy.”
Nasir covered his mouth but the following laugh remained audible. “We didn’t get off to a good start.” Nasir looked Agron’s way and held his gaze. “Like some other people I know.”
“Yeah? And did you change your mind?” Agron smirked.
They stopped at the top of the stairs. Nasir faced Agron entirely-- eyes, head, and body. Such a fine--
“I’m not sure yet,” Nasir said.
“He’ll win you over.”
“Maybe. If he can stop sticking his foot in his mouth.”
Agron opened the door leading to the hall and held it open for Nasir. “Shows how agile he is.”
“I didn’t say that talent doesn't have its appeal.”
Agron’s smile more than lingered even after they’d got their books and parted. It fixed itself firmly enough to stay plastered on his face through the start of first period.
To have English at the start of the day was unforgivable. There was only so much bullshit he could deal with. So why he heard German coming from the classroom, he had no idea. It didn’t sound like they were thrilled with the class either.
“These damn teachers and their rules. What do we do here? Stick our thumbs up our asses while we pretend to read Twilight?” Came a deep, gruff voice.
“You can stick your thumb up his ass,” said a girl. “What is this Twilight?”
Agron opened the door. “A vampire book that misses the point of Dracula,” he replied in German.
The group of Germans-- a short, muscular man, a thin blonde girl, and a few attractive guys-- looked at him.
“Do you take offense to my accent or the book?” Agron asked.
“You speak German?” The gruff voiced guy asked.
“My family’s from there. I’d visit--” Before he finished, they’d bodily hauled him over.
“You,” the girl stroked her hand up his arm, “will help us.”
Agron lightly grabbed her wrist and pulled her away as though he were holding a rabid yet delicate skunk. “I’ll think about it.”
She promptly withdrew her hand, twisting out of his grip with ease. “Oh, perhaps Lugo?”
“No one is seducing me!” he snapped.
“Can I?” Shouted a German voice from down the hall, prompting laughter from the group, Agron included.
This time Duro found Agron during break. The crowd of exchange students didn’t deter him.
“You found all the Germans?” Duro asked, giving each of them a once over, especially Saxa.
“They found me.”
“Hard to miss him,” Saxa growled as she eyed Agron instead of his brother.
Agron edged away. “I’d introduce you, but I have to go to--” Just as he looked up, he spotted just the sophomore he wanted.
Not so subtly nudging Saxa toward his brother, Agron equally unsubtly looked at Nasir. He soon caught Nasir’s eye and waved him over. After one dubious look with pursed yet glorious lips, Nasir made his way over.
“Art class with Nasir,” Agron finished at last.
Glancing from Agron to Saxa, Nasir nodded. Sizing up the crowd, he chimed in, “we have to draw dicks on our teacher’s white board.”
That earned him a roar of laughter from the Germans and a kiss to his forehead from Saxa. Agron winced.
Once they walked off, Nasir said nothing, simply staring ahead of him as he matched Agron’s pace. Agron, for his part, was in no hurry to get to class.
“Sorry, about uh--”
“Yes?” Nasir prodded.
“Saxa being Saxa.”
“My best friend is Chadara. I’m used to that.”
“I thought she was only like that with guys she wanted to hook up with,” Agron said. He turned the corner, noting that Nasir was constantly a fraction of a second behind him. Always off the beat.
Nasir sighed wearily. “Especially with them.”
“What? She keeps stealing your men?”
“She’s not cold hearted,” Nasir answered.
Agron fought back a grin.
“You look pleased,” Nasir commented.
“Oh, just nice to know I don’t have to worry about her anymore.”
Nasir didn’t shoot him a glance, not one that Agron noticed. “That’s bold.”
Coming up to a door, Agron stepped ahead and held it open for him. He also took it as an opportunity to turn around to face Nasir. “That’s a yes.”
Slim as he was, Nasir easily slipped past, but he slowly. Enough for Agron to catch more than a glimpse of the smile playing across his lips.
“Oh my God, Duro. You’re fucking kidding me.” Agron tapped his foot as he shook the thermometer, beeping its own offensive statements.
“You want to stay home sick in my place?”
Agron thought about it. Then he looked at the number 101 flashing at him. “No thanks.”
“Then leave me alone.” Duro burrowed under his covers.
“So what do I tell Mom--”
Duro jerked the blanket up over his head.
Agron rolled his eyes. “Fine. I’ll send the teachers your regards.”
Duro said something that sounded remarkably like “Mfff mmm mmmmff.”
“What?” Agron, who’d been moving for the door, paused and turned back.
Duro’s face emerged from the blanket but it was now mostly covered by his tangled hair. “I feel like I have mono,” he moaned.
Agron threw up his hands. The thermometer hit the ceiling. “You don't--”
The thermometer hit him in the face.
A week later, Agron slumped into his seat in art class.
He’d received many looks from Nasir since they’d met. Not all of them had been good but Nasir had softened to Agron’s habit of, as Mira put it, shoving his foot in his mouth so far it was a wonder he didn’t gag on it. This look wasn’t bad though, or teasing.
“You don’t look good today,” Nasir said.
“My brother has mono,” Agron grumbled, chin resting on his hand and eyes downcast.
“I’m not contagious,” Agron promised him as he had many others. “I don’t have it. But he’ll be out for a month.”
“It’s that bad?” Nasir’s voice carried a sympathetic tone. When Agron looked up, he found it mirrored in Nasir’s dark eyes.
“According to the doctor. I shouldn’t have let him run the other day.”
Nasir shook his head. “I wouldn’t blame that on you. Duro’s not exactly--”
Agron’s head shot up. “Not exactly what?”
Blushing, Nasir scrambled. “I mean, he’s careless about certain--”
“I’m kidding. You can say he’s an idiot.” He gnawed his lip. “But I was more of one.”
“Agron, as long as you didn’t give him mono--”
Before Agron could more than make a face, pompous art teacher began class. Agron paid him no attention.
As soon as Agron and Nasir joined Spartacus for lunch, their captain and friend sprang into business matters.
“Nasir, can you stay after school to practice?”
“One on one?” Nasir asked.
Spartacus and Nasir ignored this as politely as their capabilities allowed.
“I haven’t convinced anyone else,” Spartacus said.
“Not even Crixus?” Agron leaned back in his seat and grinned at the look Spartacus leveled him with.
“I hear he’s having a one on one with Naevia,” Spartacus replied. He turned back to Nasir. “But we won’t have that kind. Well?”
Nasir nodded. “Sure.”
Agron paused. On the one hand, he had to check on Duro. On the other hand, the last time he’d checked on Duro, his brother had threatened to throw his alarm clock at him if he didn’t stop mothering him. Also on the other hand was seeing Nasir in action.
“I’ll watch,” Agron said.
Nasir and Spartacus both looked at him with eyebrows raised. They then looked at each other. Spartacus shrugged.
“Why not?” Spartacus said.
Agron kicked the ball a few times to get things started and help them get used to his sheer unpredictability. People might comment on his thighs, but Agron’s skill at kicking balls was not as refined as his skill at catching them.
Almost immediately, Nasir stripped off his shirt. Whether to curse or bless this hot day, Agron couldn’t decide. He had other things on his mind. Such as the flash of white teeth behind beautifully formed lips when Nasir smiled at him every time Agron kicked the ball over his head and into the net.
“You should join the team,” Nasir said. He tugged his pony tail tighter.
How were his arms nearly as toned as his legs? This was unfair.
“I butt heads with Crixus enough.”
“He didn’t make the cut,” Spartacus interjected. He threw the ball at Agron, who’d never noticed his friend retrieve it.
Agron rolled his eyes. He chucked the ball hard at his chest. “Thanks, Spartacus.”
Spartacus curved his chest and let the ball glide down it and to his feet, taking off with it. Nasir followed and Agron’s eyes drifted down to his ass.
It really was too hot today.
Several weeks later and several things were certain to, if not the entire school, then at least half of it. One- there were always going to be growing pains with the merger of the two schools, but there would be no rebellion. Two- Agron was a mess without his brother to focus on. And, on a note related to all of the above, three- Agron was beyond smitten with Spartacus’s favorite soccer midfielder. In some cases, you didn’t even have to attend school to know these things. For example...
“Have you actually learned anything at these soccer practices of yours or are you just checking out that slave?” Duro asked.
The brothers had seated themselves on the couch-- opposite sides-- and were doing what they should on a weekend. Absolutely nothing.
“Nasir,” Agron corrected. “It pisses everyone off if you call them slaves.”
“You’re just saying that because you like to watch him after school.”
“Hey, I just like helping out during practice.”
“You fetch them water.”
Agron thought back to how, after drinking most of the water, Nasir had the habit of spilling the rest of it down his head before tilting his head back and tossing his hair like--
“You’re drooling.” Duro’s voice cut through his thoughts with all the tact that his brother possessed: none whatsoever.
“I don’t drool.”
“You nap in the living room. Everyone can see you drool.”
Agron threw up his hands. “I’ll let you catch up on school gossip on your own.”
Duro smirked. “Will you?”
Agron glared at him. “...So Spartacus dumped Mira when he realized she was just a rebound. He finally got his shit together enough that we stand a fighting chance against beating the Pirates this season--”
“On the soccer team you’re not on--”
“I get your point!” Agron snapped but with no malice behind his words.
Duro laughed. “You’re too easy.”
“I haven’t seen your brother yet.” Nasir took out his sketch pad and flipped through it.
“He’s catching up with people. And flirting with your friend, now that he’s kissing disease free.” Agron leaned back in his chair, killing time waiting for class to start much as Nasir was, looking through what sketches to present to the teacher.
Nasir put his hand to his mouth and made a sound that barely passed as a cough
Agron nudged his leg with his foot. “Fine. Keep it to yourself.”
Nasir nudged back. “She’s into Mira now.”
Agron stilled, hands frozen on one page. “Wait, really?”
“Yeah, Mira got over some things and--” Nasir tilted his head. “What’s that?”
“What’s what?” Agron followed Nasir’s gaze, right to his sketch pad and--
“It’s a guy playing soccer.” This was the one time he prayed that his art sucked too much for someone to tell what it depicted.
“Is that me?”
Agron paused. Tempting as it was to say it was some random guy, he couldn’t bring himself to. Flirting with Nasir had been a lot easier when he was just a random guy himself. Or maybe it had been easier when Agron wasn’t caught with an abysmal drawing of him.
“Yyyeeeees,” came the drawn out response.
Nasir turned away.
Agron snapped his sketchpad shut. Stupid fucking idiot--
“I don’t feel guilty anymore about this,” Nasir said. His fingers fumbled over pages until he flipped to the right one and held up his own sketchpad.
From a technical level, speaking as a high school art student without a full semester under his belt, Agron found it flawless. Nasir captured the motions of running beautifully, with particular detail to the muscles. The Agron in the drawing stared at the soccer ball with determination.
“So I don’t look like an idiot when I play soccer?” he asked.
Nasir didn’t answer. Agron looked up but Nasir didn’t meet his eyes.
“Hey,” he said gently. “It’s amazing.”
Nasir met his gaze and smiled. “Thanks. I didn’t know if--”
“Of course.” Agron said, not knowing what he answered but he was sure the answer was yes. He was also sure that Nasir’s face, and in particular his lips were drawing closer.
The door opened and more students piled in. Nasir jerked back. Within the confines of his head, Agron cursed profusely and vigorously. By the time he looked back, his likeness was tucked away in Nasir’s backpack, safe from anyone’s view, including his own.
On top of being flustered, neither of them had spoken for the rest of class. After it was over, they had to part ways too fast.
If any of his teachers had asked him to comment on anything in his classes after that, Agron wouldn’t have been able to even give a bullshit response.
“Agron, I have no idea-- HEY!” Duro shouted after his brother.
Agron swept past. Nothing was going to stop him from getting to his locker in time to see Nasir.
...Unless Duro grabbed his backpack and yanked him back. That would do it.
“Idiot!” Agron turned. “You’re not supposed to do any heavy lifting!”
“I wasn't. I was asking if--”
“Can it wait?” Agron shifted his backpack so the weight distributed evenly between his shoulder.
“Didn’t you just see him?” Duro shook his head. “Fine. Go. Ignore your brother.”
“Awesome, you’re the best,” Agron mumbled, not having heard anything past ‘go.’
It didn’t take long to get to his locker. With any luck, he’d beat Chadara there and--
Nope. She was right by Nasir, giggling. When her eyes fell on Agron, she waved. “Not with your brother?”
Nasir started turning the moment Chadara moved her arm. He smiled.
Agron grinned. “He can live without me for a few seconds. Hey, Nasir--”
“I’d better find Mira.” Chadara promptly and bounced away.
Agron threw his backpack in the locker, lunch not only forgotten but squished. “Let’s go.” He took Nasir’s hand as he left.
“You don’t think this is cliche?” Nasir asked as they stopped just outside the school, soccer field stretched before them.
“I’m not going to blow you under the bleachers,” Agron said. Though now that he’d mentioned it, Agron found himself reevaluating his judgment of Gannicus’s earlier antics.
Nasir hesitated, then brushed his thumb along the inside of Agron’s wrist. “Does that mean you can be discreet?”
A shiver spread through Agron’s body. “It means I respect you too much to be that cheap.” He paused. “But if you want it…” He tugged Nasir’s hand.
Nasir not only followed the pull but turned to face Agron completely instead of standing by his side. “Ask me when it’s not lunch. ...I’ve been thinking, you know, I haven’t seen you at a soccer game before this year.” Nasir said.
“Spartacus is my friend but I’ve never wanted to come for him.”
Nasir blinked, cheeks flushing, eyes beginning to crinkle. Only when Agron flashed him a grin did he receive a proper laugh to that statement.
“You can’t help yourself,” Nasir said.
“With--” Nasir glanced at the door behind them. Instead of answering, he touched Agron’s shirt.
Agron needed no further encouragement. He grabbed Nasir’s shirt, pulled him back, and pressed him against the wall. Nasir rose into the kiss that Agron had to bend to give. Seconds ticked by uncounted as Agron familiarized himself with Nasir, taking note of what had him gripping Agron tighter. But focusing proved difficult the more time passed, with Nasir’s lips on his and his hands relaxing to spread flat against Agron's chest.
When they parted, Agron pressed his forehead to Nasir’s. “I’ve wanted to do that since I saw you, little man.”
Nasir began to laugh, then stopped and tapped Agron’s chin before he moved back. “What did you say?”
“We need to go over what to call me.”
“Sorry,” Agron mumbled, the word swallowed by Nasir’s mouth as pulled Agron back to him.
Duro leaned back against the locker. They had realized several weeks ago that a table wouldn’t fit their group’s new additions. Lunches now took place in the hall.
“Hey Spartacus, I’ll be back on the team after winter break, right?”
“As long as the doctor says you’re not at risk of rupturing your spleen,” Spartacus replied. He started to look over in the direction of Mira and Chadara, then stopped. That couple, for their part, looked at Agron and Nasir, also happily huddled together.
“I could have gone back to playing a month ago! The only reason I didn’t is because Agron was trying to get into your soccer team.”
Agron leaned in to whisper in Nasir’s ear. “That’s one way of putting it.”
Back pressed against Agron’s chest, Nasir laughed. “I should do that for your football team.”
“Motivate me to kick Pirate ass like you did this season?” Agron rubbed Nasir’s arm. “You’d better. With art class over, I won’t get to see you as much.”
“You’ll have to drop me off after school some time.”
Agron perked up. “Yeah?”
“You know, to make art.”
“And do something more respectful than blow you under the bleachers?”
Agron realized too late that was the moment when the conversation lulled around them.
Duro threw up his hands. “Agron! For fuck’s sake. What am I going to do with you when it’s prom?”
“No, what is he going to do to me during prom?” Nasir grinned.
“Study anatomy?” Agron suggested. “Hey Nasir, do you like top or bottom lockers more?”
Judging by the way Duro’s eyes popped, he hadn’t yet fully come around to the joining of Slaves and Rebels. But for his part, Agron was a major fan.
Speaking of, maybe he could get Nasir to try cheerleading.