Nasir doesn’t like to let on when he’s sick, but Agron always knows.
He goes out to the pharmacy and gets those man sized tissues that cover the whole of Nasir’s face they’re so big. He gets the ones with the balm in them, knowing that Nasir gets dry skin if he’s not careful. Eucalyptus menthol throat sweets not lemon because Nasir doesn’t like lemon, headache strips just in case, vaporub, paracetamol and hot chocolate.
When Agron gets home he puts everything on the table next to the sofa and lays out the biggest blanket ready for when Nasir shuffles out of bed still pretending he’s not sick.
Nasir took Agron to a palm reader once.
"I don’t believe in this shit," Agron had grumbled, pushing through the beaded curtain and wrinkling his nose at the smell of patchouli.
"Then it won’t matter what she says to you then," Nasir said. His hand was on the small of Agron’s back, gentle but insistent. "I’ll be right outside."
Sighing, Agron went into the dark little room. The ceiling was covered with a midnight blue fabric, dotted with golden threads imitating stars.
"Have a seat. My name is Sarah."
"You’re not what I was expecting," Agron said, pulling out a heavy wooden chair and sitting right on the edge of it.
"No?" Sarah reached across the table and took Agron by the wrist. Her fingers were cold and Agron fought the urge to shiver. He didn’t believe in this. He didn’t.
"You can’t be older than twenty five? Aren’t all psychics old women who live with cats?"
Sarah smiled, flattening Agron’s hand on the table, palm up. She traced the lines on his hand.
"I’m more of a dog person," Sarah said. "Like you."
"Lucky guess," Agron snorted. He didn’t believe in it.
"You’ve got a hard path to travel, long, but you won’t be alone. There’s a line here, almost invisible, but it lies parallel to your life and heart lines. Is there someone special in your life? A lover?"
Agron didn’t believe in this shit, but he found himself nodding anyway.
"He’s a constant source of strength for you. I’ve never seen a bond like yours. It’s something to cherish, but you must be careful not to smother it. You have a possessive streak."
Agron frowned. Another lucky guess?
Sarah smiled, totally unfazed by Agron’s expression.
"Don’t be afraid of his answer. This line here is a joining, a happiness. You have some big events in your future."
Agron placed his free hand over the pocket in his jacket and the twin gold bands tucked inside.
"Anything else?" Agron really wanted to get out of there.
Sarah let go of his hand and sat back.
"Just that you’re a lucky man. Not many people find their destiny like you have."
"Yeah, um, you’re right." Damn. "Not that I believe in all this," Agron added. He stood up and took a note out of his wallet.
"Enjoy the rest of your day," Sarah said as Agron walked out into the light, the beaded curtain tapping him on the back.
Nasir bounded over to him, two pink and white ice creams in his hands.
"So, how was it?"
Agron took his ice cream looked down at Nasir. He had some strawberry sauce on the corner of his mouth. Leaning down, Agron kissed it away, feeling Nasir smile against his lips.
"It had its moments," Agron replied thoughtfully.
Nasir frowned, obviously waiting for more details, but Agron thought he’d just keep it to himself.
"You want to go on the Ferris wheel?"
The frown on Nasir’s face changed into a soft smile.
"Ok," Nasir said, shaking his head a little at Agron’s illusiveness. "Just don’t rock the seat. I hate that."
"I won’t I promise."
Taking hold of Nasir’s hand using the one that Sarah had just read, Agron led them through the crowds of happy people, sugary candy floss and twinkling lights.
He suddenly felt that now was a good time to ask Nasir a question that he’d been holding onto for months.
Not that the palm reader had anything to do with it.
Agron didn’t believe in that shit.
This is the reason for the underage warning - but its mild. No sex.
Nasir was fourteen and in love.
Agron was eighteen, Nasir’s brothers best friend, and oblivious.
Nasir kissed him on a Tuesday.
It was raining. Thunder shook the house and Nasir watched out of the window as his brother and Agron jumped out of the pickup truck, t-shirts sticking to their chests, their silhouettes illuminated by the lightning streaked sky.
They’d only gone out for a pizza. Nasir was really too old to be babysat, but his parents insisted. It was stupid.
"Fuck! I’m soaked," Saf groaned. "I’ll go get some towels and something for you to wear, dude."
Agron nodded and shook his head like a dog, droplets of water splashing onto the walls and floor.
Nasir was used to being overlooked and ignored by his brother and his friends. He wasn’t offended. He was a kid and they were all older than him, cooler. It’s just how it was.
Agron was different though. He was nice. He spoke to Nasir like he was important.
"Where did this storm come from, little man? It was clear when we left."
"Just unlucky I guess," Nasir said, turning on the window seat to look directly at Agron without having to crane his neck.
"Story of my life, huh?" Agron smiled, teeth bared to show that it was genuine. Agron only ever seemed to smile at Nasir like that, but that could just be wishful thinking on Nasir’s part.
Agron was still smiling when Nasir stood up. He could hear Saf moving around upstairs, but not even the chance of getting caught would put Nasir off. He was the moth to Agron’s beautiful flame.
Standing up on his tiptoes, Nasir put his hands on either side of Agron’s face, his damp cheeks warm under his fingers, and kissed him on the lips. It was his first real kiss. Not a peck or a brush of skin on skin. No. It was an adult kiss. There was meaning in it.
Agron didn’t kiss back. He pushed Nasir away gently and held him at arms length.
"Why did you do that?" Agron’s face looked flushed, guilt and something else at war in his eyes.
"I’m in love with you," Nasir said, backing away and sitting down in the window again.
"You’re fourteen, Nasir."
"I know what love is. I know that you know too. I’m going to wait for you."
Agron’s mouth opened, but he couldn’t say anything.
Saf barrelled down the stairs and tossed a dry tee at Agron’s head.
"Nasir, go and get us some beers and then get your ass to bed."
Nasir stood up. He didn’t care that he was treated like a kid, or that Agron didn’t look at him as he left. He had time. And he was used to waiting.
"I can’t do this," Nasir said, chewing on his lip.
"You can." Agron kissed Nasir’s cheek quickly. "They love you."
"Look, do you want me to wait in the car? I don’t want to make them feel awkward."
"No, please… I want you here." Nasir picked up Agron’s mug of coffee and took a sip. "I might do a runner if you go."
Agron smiled, his dimples helping to settle the knot in Nasir’s stomach a bit.
"Do you want some cake?"
Nasir nodded and gave Agron’s hand a squeeze under the table.
"Double chocolate," Nasir added.
"You got it."
Agron walked around the corner towards the bar. Nasir’s nerves were getting to him. Being gay in this day and age shouldn’t be an issue. Gods, coming out to your parents shouldn’t make someone loose sleep and stop eating properly. It’s not right that Nasir has to be afraid that his parents are going to disown him or something.
Why couldn’t Nasir be in love and be happy without people judging him or telling him that it’s wrong?
Agron hoped that Nasir’s parents were better that that, but you could never predict these things.
When he got to the front of the queue, Agron put his hand in his pocket to get some change, but as he pulled his hand out the change slipped from his fingers and skittered all over the floor.
"Great," Agron sighed.
"Here, let me help." A woman, stylishly dressed with a warm, friendly face, crouched down to help Agron pick up his money.
"Thanks. I was in another world."
Agron stood and took the coins that the woman held out for him.
"One of those days?" The woman smiled, lines around her eyes doing nothing to lessen her beauty.
"Yeah," Agron said, paying for Nasir’s cake. "My boyfriends having a bad day and I’m worried about him."
"Nothing that cake won’t cure I hope."
"I hope so too," Agron smiled. "Thanks again."
Agron made his way back to Nasir. He was staring at the table like it held the answers to climate change and world peace on the Formica.
"Double chocolate," he announced, placing the cake in front of Nasir.
"Thanks," Nasir said, but made no move to touch it.
Agron sat down. He wanted to put his arms around Nasir, tell him that no matter what, he was never going to let anyone hurt him, but he couldn’t. He promised to keep his distance until Nasir had spoken to his folks.
He had to do something though. A gesture.
Pulling the napkin from under Nasir’s fork, Agron grabbed a pen from inside his backpack and quickly scribbled a note, the ink smudged, but readable.
I <3 U
He folded it and pressed it into Nasir’s hand. Nasir unfolded it on his lap and smiled.
"There’s my boy! Oh, hello again."
Agron looked around at the sound of a familiar voice.
"Oh," the woman repeated, putting two and two together.
"Mum? H-have you two met?" Nasir looked between Agron and his mum. He couldn’t help but see that Agron was on edge.
"In the queue a few minutes ago," she said with a bright smile. "A very charming young man."
Agron stood up and pulled out a chair for her.
"Thank you, erm…" She looked directly at Agron, indicating with a wave of her hand that she didn’t know his name.
"Agron, mum… this is Agron. Where’s dad?" Nasir was practically vibrating with anexiety and Agron couldn’t stop his arm from curling around his back.
"Parking the car. He won’t be long."
"Am I missing something here? Something’s going on. Agron?"
Agron bowed his head. “I’m so sorry. It was an accident. I didn’t even realise what I’d said.”
"What are you talking about?"
"Sweetheart, it’s alright." Nasir’s mum placed a hand on Agron’s arm and turned to Nasir. "He told me he was worried about his boyfriend and that’s why he was so jumpy. He dropped all of his money by the till."
"Honey, it’s fine, honestly. It wasn’t the most traditional way of finding out, but the way Agron spoke about you, and to a stranger… I’m happy for you, for both of you. And I’m so proud to have you as my son."
Agron let out a long breath and grabbed Nasir’s hand.
At that moment, Nasir’s dad arrived, looking flustered.
"There had better be whiskey in that coffee, Bernie. Young people can’t drive for shit!"
"Martin! Language!" Bernie smiled apologetically at Agron.
"Sorry, sorry. Nasir my boy, how are you?"
"I’m good dad, thanks."
"Who’s your friend? And why don’t I have any of that sinful looking cake?"
Nasir laughed softly. “Dad, this is Agron. He’s my boyfriend.”
Martins eyes strayed from the cake back to Agron.
"Oh right. Bernie, go and get me some cake would you? I need to do my ‘what are your intentions’ speech and it might take a while."
Chapter 5: The Shadow
Agron opened his eyes, letting them adjust to the darkness surrounding him. He could feel the presence of the other man in the room by the way his skin was prickling, goosebumps running up his arms like wildfire.
"You could make me tell you the code to the safe, you know? A lot quicker than cracking it if you ask me."
Agron switched the bedside lamp on and sat up against the headboard, the sheets pooling around his waist covering his nakedness.
The man in black stood up slowly and with a sultry grace that made Agron’s mouth water.
"I like cracking safes, Mr Carter. It’s what thieves do best."
Agron shrugged. “Do thieves usually steal from the same family twice? Or risk being identified by creeping into the rooms of their victims when they’re still at home. I’m sorry, but I’ve watched a lot of CSI and it’s never done like this on tv.”
Without turning around, the man in black tilted his head to one side.
"Let me see your face," Agron said, a desperate command tainting his words.
"No," the man replied softly, shaking his head to reinforce his denial.
"Tell me your name then."
"Why are you here?" Agron was frustrated now. The mysterious shadow wasn’t giving him anything to work with.
"Why?" The man squatted down once more, his hands reaching out to the glinting gold dial in the safe. Agron barely heard the laugh that came from the other side of the room, but it was there.
"Stop being a dick and answer me for once. You were like this in New York."
The thief continued to work on the safe, the distinctive click-click-click of the dial grating on Agron’s patience.
"I’m here to steal the Marquis Ruby for the same client who paid me to steal the uncut diamonds from your home in New York. That’s why I’m here."
He twisted the handle on the front of the safe, opening it with a loud, metallic clunk. He then retrieved a shallow black box from inside and quickly slipped it into a hidden pocket in the lining of his skin tight jacket.
"Would you mind switching off the light?"
Agron sighed. He cursed his own weak heart, obeying this strange creature without a second thought, it was madness.
Mere moments after the room went black, Agron felt the mattress next to him dip. The little thief crawled up Agron’s legs and settled himself on his lap, his knees pressed hard against the outside of Agron’s thighs.
Agron couldn’t contain the breathy moan when he felt the mans hands trail down his bare arms until their fingers were threaded together tightly.
"I’m here because I was curious. I did some research, I always do before a job… You were different. All this wealth doesn’t have any power over you and I wanted to see that for myself. It’s rare and I didn’t actually think that it was true."
"It’s not my wealth. It’s my grandfathers and my fathers," Agron said, moving his body forward ever so slightly. "It’s not yours either. What you’re doing is wrong."
"It’s my nature. Wrong or not… It’s too late for me to change."
Agron felt the man pulling away. He couldn’t allow that, not yet. He yanked his hands free from the thief’s hold and wrapped his arms around his waist. The first spot his mouth reached turned out to be the mans neck, grainy with stubble and slightly damp with sweat. Agron flicked out his tongue, memorising the taste, and then kissed the soft curve of the man’s jaw.
"It’s never to late to change," Agron said quietly, not resisting this time when the man moved to get away.
As he passed in front of the window, he turned his head, looking back towards the bed and at the dark shape of Agron.
"Maybe it’s not too late for me?"
"Tell me your name."
"No," the man replied, shaking his head firmly.
"Will I see you again?"
Agron could just make out his thief swinging his legs out of the window. The moonlight appeared from behind a cloud, casting a silvery glow on the slender figure disappearing from his life for the second time.
"Does your father still keep the Romanov emerald at your family home in England?"
Agron nodded. “Yes.”
The thief’s smile was white and dazzling against the backdrop of night. Quick as lightning, he dropped down from the windowsill, holding onto the edge so that Agron could now only make out the outline of his head.
"We’ll meet again. Ask me your questions then, Agron. I might answer them next time."
Chapter 6: The Shadow
Part 2 of the mini fic from the other day where Nasir is a thief (previous chapter to this.)
Agron stepped out from the bathroom and turned on the main light, casting a warm glow around the room.
The thief was by the window, back turned, but Agron could see that he’d put on a black mask this time, concealing his face completely apart from a fine mesh over his eyes. He jumped visibly at the sound of Agron’s voice and his sudden presence in the room.
"It’s how I know when you’re here. You should think about changing your shower gel to something unscented." Agron stepped closer, but slowly, not wanting to spook the shadow and make him flee. "Why is it that every time I see you I’m giving you tips on how to get better at this?"
"You were meant to be out." The thief seemed to shift uncomfortably.
"Yeah, I was supposed to be. I had a meeting that was cancelled." Agron crossed his arms over his chest. "Is that why you waited for my last night to come here? You didn’t want to see me again?"
It figured that Agron’s movements had been monitored by the mysterious criminal. He wondered just how much of his life had been scrutinised by him.
The shadow didn’t respond. He just turned and walked swiftly towards a large painting on the wall behind a black desk. Removing the artwork and setting it carefully at his feet, the thief silently began turning the dial on the solid metal panel fixed to the wall, head tilted to listen for the right sounding clicks.
"I did. That’s the problem." The thief twisted the handle of the safe and opened it. "I don’t do distractions and I’m leaving now."
Agron nodded, watching closely as the slim figure looked up at him, dark lashes just visible through the soft material, fingers curled around the box containing the Romanov emerald.
"I had a feeling you were going to chicken out on me." Agron smiled. He held up the silver remote control that he’d concealed in his hand and pressed a button. The windows blacked out as heavy shutters slammed down over them, blocking out any means of escape. "You’re not going anywhere."
"A panic room?" The shadow tipped his head back. "Right. So, what do you want?"
Agron stepped a little closer, backing his intruder against the desk, but not touching him.
"I could have stopped you back in Milan. New York, too. You were interesting though and it was the most fun I’d had in years."
"What are you talking about?"
"I let you go," Agron said with an easy smile. "Could have stopped you like I have now, with the push of a button."
"You’ve had your fun, Mr Carter. I’d like to leave now."
"Ok, but for a price."
The thief stiffened and Agron took a step back.
"Relax," Agron said. "All I want is your name."
"Why? What the hell does it matter?"
"I don’t know," Agron sighed. "You’re… you’re not like other people and I just… I want to know you."
The dark figure leaned back against the desk, crossing his one ankle over the other, and tapping his fingers on the edge.
"I tell you my name and you let me out?"
Agron shook his head. “No, that’s a lie.”
"It’s not," the thief said. His tone mocking and yet playful. He was teasing Agron and they both knew it.
"For a professional liar, you kind of suck at it," Agron replied.
The thief uncrossed his legs and pushed off of the table. He walked the short distance between them, stopping only inches away from Agron’s body.
Agron was expecting more banter, more sharp comebacks, or maybe even a kick in the pants. What he wasn’t expecting was the thief to slowly pull the dark mask off of his head, a dark mess of raven hair tumbling around his shoulders.. He looked just the way that Agron had imagined. Beautiful.
"My name is Nasir."
Agron smiled, teeth bared. Yes, that was his name.
They were kissing before Agron had time to take a breath.
"I knew… you were home… tonight…" Nasir said between desperate, wet clashes of teeth and lips. "Knew about all the… mmm… security too…could have got out… ah… if I wanted…"
Agron bit down on Nasir’s bottom lip making him moan. He really didn’t care at this point. They were both playing each other and Agron had never felt more alive, more challenged by another man his whole life.
"Nasir," Agron breathed, his head resting heavily against the other mans. "You feel it too, don’t you? We’re connected. It can’t just be me."
"This is crazy," Nasir whispered, almost to himself. His hands were everywhere, on Agron’s thighs, his ass, running up his back. "What am I doing?"
"Something honest?" Agron smoothed his hands into Nasir’s hair, holding onto him and tipping his head back to reveal the inviting line of Nasir’s neck. Agron licked a long stripe over his pulse, laughing low in his throat when he felt it jump under his touch.
"I don’t do that very often," Nasir gasped. He was clawing at Agron’s arms even though in his heart he knew that Agron wouldn’t let him fall.
"Do it for me. Just me… Lie to everyone else for all I care, but not me." Agron hauled Nasir into his arms. "I could come with you?"
Agron didn’t want Nasir to change, he'd realised that it was impossible but it was part of what drew him to Nasir in the first place, the danger and excitement. But if he was going to do this, he wanted to be sure that Nasir wasn’t going to be a shadowy thief with him. He wanted the man underneath the mask.
"You know my name now. I couldn’t lie to you even if I wanted to." Nasir said, leaning back in Agron’s arms. "Get your bag."
Agron lunged in for another kiss before moving over to the bed and picking up a duffle bag he’d packed the day he landed in England. It was everything he needed for a life on the run with a criminal.
When he turned around Nasir was smiling, the remote control that Agron hadn’t noticed was missing in Nasir’s fingers. He pressed a button and the shutters slid up.
"Are you sure about this?" Nasir threw the remote onto the desk and closed in on Agron again.
For the first time since they’d met, Agron saw actual fear in Nasir’s eyes.
He kissed Nasir again, softer this time, his tongue lapping softly at Nasir’s.
"Ok," Nasir smiled and walked to the nearest window, opening it and hopping up onto the window ledge, looking at Agron with a mischievous glint in his eyes.
"Um, yeah… do you think we could leave by the door? I’m good, but I’m not that good… yet."
Nasir chuckled and jumped back into the room, grabbing Agron by the neck and kissing him roughly.
"You’ve got a lot to learn, Mr Carter."
"And you want to sign up for a years membership?"
The man with the dimples… Agron, might as well be called Jupiter, smiles that glorious smile and puts the end of his pen between his teeth.
Nasir sits up straighter in the plush leather chair.
"I, um… yeah I do."
It’s not a lie, not really. Nasir loves swimming and he comes as often as he can, whenever he’s got enough spare change to pay the entry fee. He can’t afford to pay for a years membership though. Some weeks he can’t afford food. He doesn’t really remember how he ended up in Agron’s office if he’s totally honest.
"The years membership includes access to the pool and the gym. You’re into swimming aren’t you?"
Nasir nods. He really loves swimming. He really loves seeing Agron walking around the pool on the days when he lifeguards. He really, really loves those rare moments where Agron strips down to those navy blue swim shorts when he instructs classes in the junior pool.
"I’m not great at it but its relaxing."
He knows he should tell Agron that he’s sorry and that he won’t be able to go ahead with the membership after all, he can’t afford it, no way in hell, but the light from the window is casting such a warm looking stripe of golden sunshine on Agron’s neck that Nasir just can’t find the words.
"Well, the starter package includes access to the pool and gym, free parking and vouchers for the cafe… and one on one time with the trainers."
Agron says it so nonchalantly that if Nasir hadn’t been pining after him for weeks, learning his mannerisms and the different types of smiles he has, then he would have missed the way that Agron’s eyes had darkened when he mentioned the one one one time.
"You mean… you could help me to swim better?"
Agron chuckles, and god damn it, isn’t that just the best sound Nasir’s ever heard.
"Well, me, or whoever you want to work with. It’s part of the membership."
Nasir takes a deep breath. He could sell his guitar, but it was a present from his grandfather. He could borrow some money… but then he’d have to pay it back and…No, he can’t. Nasir looks across the table at Agron, amazingly fucking hot Agron. It’s going to be the last time he’s going to see him because after this Nasir is going to be far too embarrassed to ever show his face here again.
"Um, you know, I swim here a few nights a week. After I finish work that is. I wouldn’t mind giving you some tips… I mean, you already swim here and it would save you from shelling out for a membership," Agron says, his eyes lingering a bit too long on Nasir’s lips.
Nasir blushes, fucking blushes, damn it… Agron knows he’s fucking broke and is giving him a way out. Pity… really not what Nasir wanted from Agron.
"I’m just saying… I don’t do one on one swimming lessons for members, only classes and they’re usually schools. Just makes sense if I’m here, and you’re here, and we’re swimming at the same time… I’m rambling… shit."
Nasir lifts his eyes and can’t help but smile. The cool, professional exterior of the gym guy hottie has melted in front of his eyes. The dude is seriously flirting with him. Nasir could die if he wasn’t so fucking turned on.
"It’s up to you though, little man. Just think about it before you commit to a membership is all I’m saying."
Agron stands up abruptly and sucks in a breath. Nasir absolutely does not notice the way that his t-shirt stretches just right over the soft/hard grooves of his chest. Mmm, muscles.
"I’ll think about it, yeah… thanks."
Nasir walks to the door with Agron close behind him. He’s grateful that Agron has given him a way out of the membership without being to obvious about it.
"Um, so I swim on Tuesday and Thursday nights."
"I usually come on a Monday," Nasir says, a grin spreading on his face. "But I can switch."
"Yeah?" Agron clears his throat. "Don’t think I’ll go easy on you cause I’ll be off duty. It’s not going to be easy."
"Nothing worth having ever is," Nasir replies. "See you Tuesday."
Agron is so late.
He promised Nasir he was going to be there on time, promised him, and now he’s let him down. Again.
"He’s going to kill me," Agron groans.
"Yup," Duro agrees.
"D’you think he’d divorce me over this?"
"Yup," Duro agrees again.
"Fuck the gods!" Agron swings the car into the closest space by the station doors and jumps out, leaving the door wide open and ignoring the tirade of curse words coming from his now freezing cold brother.
Being built like a tree has loads of advantages. Pushing through hundreds of irritated Christmas shoppers at rush hour is not one of them.
"Excuse me, sorry… ouch, no need to jab me with an umbrella, dude!"
Agron weaves his way through to the waiting area at the far end of the train station and bites down on his lip. Hard.
He can’t laugh now. Nasir would not only divorce him, but he’d chop his balls off too.
Up ahead, next to a woman holding a sleeping baby and a group of teenagers is his husband. He’s sitting on his backpack, probably because he’s given his seat up for someone elderly knowing Nasir. He looks adorable, Agron thinks, like a sexy Christmas elf.
The fact that Nasir is dressed as a Christmas elf might have something to do with that.
Nasir’s got his arms around his red and white striped knees. The little green outfit he’s wearing fits him like a glove and Agron should stop thinking about buying a Santa outfit for himself to wear. Fuck.
"Hey! Nasir!" Agron waves and Nasir blinks up at him. He looks exhausted and now Agron feels even worse. "I’m sorry I’m late. Traffic was insane and there was a diversion and…"
"It’s ok," Nasir says, standing up, bells tinkling sweetly with every move he makes. "Stop fucking grinning."
"You look so damn cute though."
"I wouldn’t mind you being an ass if I hadn’t been waiting here for half an hour. They close the toilets after ten so I couldn’t even change out of these ridiculous clothes."
Agron takes Nasir’s hand and brings it up to his lips, kissing the back of it lightly.
"I’m an actor, Agron. What the fuck am I doing playing an elf in pantomime?"
The group of teenagers are watching them now, giggling faces half hidden behind their hands.
"It’s just a means to an end. You’ll get something soon, I know you will."
Nasir wrinkles his nose, there’s glitter on the end of it and he rubs at it with frustration.
"Come here," Agron says, turning around and crouching down a little. "Hop on."
When he hears Nasir laugh, he knows that he is going to be alright.
Nasir pulls on his backpack and rests his hands on Agron’s shoulders, jumping up onto his back. He might look stupid, he may feel stupid, but Agron loves him and he makes sure that every day Nasir knows that he’s proud of him no matter what.
"Do you get to keep the outfit?" Agron asks, digging his fingers into Nasir’s thighs.
"Yeah, I had to buy it." Nasir kisses Agron’s neck. "It’s a shame you were so late picking me up though cause the only way you’re getting any elf action is if you’re the one in the tights."
Agron laughed and walked a bit quicker. He could get on board with that.
"He suffered from severe blunt force trauma. If he wakes up there could be some brain damage, but we’ll know more when the swelling goes down. Blindness is another possibility, but again, it’s a case of waiting."
Dr Rodriguez clenched his jaw. Giving people bad news never got easier.
"You can talk to him. Sometimes patients in comas can be receptive to their loved ones voices and it can bring them back."
"Can I see him now?"
"Yes. He has a lot of bruising on his face, so prepare yourself. Considering the magnitude of the crash though… his bodily injuries were relatively mild."
Inside, Nasir screamed. Relatively mild? Fine, maybe Agron had no broken bones or anything, but being in a coma he might not wake up from and even if he did wake up, no one knew if he’d even be able to remember his own name. That didn’t sound ‘relatively mild’ to Nasir.
"What happened to the other driver?" Nasir blinked back stinging tears.
"He passed away," the doctor said quietly.
"Was he drunk?"
"The investigation is still ongoing, but it appears that he was."
Nasir shuddered. Such a pointless waste of life.
"Can I see him now?"
"He’s just through that door."
Nasir’s legs moved as though independant from his body. He felt numb, ghostly, the artificial lights above his head adding to his sense of disconnection.
The beeping sound of the heart monitor hooked up to Agron’s chest was the first thing he saw, green light flashing, a strong line that proved that Agron was still alive. Somehow, seeing that gave Nasir the strength to look at the bed.
Dr Rodriguez had been right after all. Agron didn’t look like he’d just been cut out of his mangled car. His arms and chest were red from scratches under all the wires and pads that were attached to him, but he didn’t look like there was anything seriously wrong.
It was only when Nasir forced himself to look at Agron’s face did a sound of painful sorrow escape him. A tube was coming out of his mouth, his lips an unnatural bluish purple colour. Agron’s eyes were swollen closed, angry bruises making him look like he’d gone ten rounds with Mike Tyson. Even the bloodied bandage around his forehead didn’t conceal the damage.
Nasir sat down on the hard plastic chair by the bed and touched Agron’s bicep with trembling fingers.
"Crixus called this morning." Nasir sniffled and wiped his eyes. He had to be strong now, hold Agron up until he got through this. "There’s a pub quiz on Friday night. He said to tell you that he knows you cheated last time on that question about astronomy so he’s making the quiz harder."
The heart monitor beeped steadily.
"I was thinking of going to Wong’s tonight for takeout. Finally going to try those wantons you’ve been having kittens about. They better be as good as you say they are."
Nasir removed his hand from Agron’s arm. His stomach hurt.
"You smell funny. What is it they use in here that makes it smell so weird? Antiseptic probably. Suppose that’s good really?"
This was so stupid. Agron couldn’t hear him. Nasir knew he was clutching at straws, that the chances that he’d get Agron back were slim, but he would keep trying until his throat was raw from talking.
"I can’t lose you. Agron, please… I love you so much."
Nasir lay his head down on the pillow and closed his eyes. Just for a minute, he thought as he drifted into the dark. He’d keep trying in a minute.
"Don’t you dare leave me," Nasir said quietly, spreading his fingers carefully over Agron’s heart.
When Agron’s fingers twitched, Nasir was asleep so he didn’t see. He would though. Agron would keep doing it until Nasir saw it.
He wasn’t going anywhere.
"This is your body model for the class today. Introduce yourselves and get comfortable. We'll be starting in about ten minutes."
Grace, the teacher at the art school moved away to another partnership and left Agron standing with the most beautiful man he'd ever seen in his life.
"Hi," Agron said, smiling. "Agron."
Agron nodded, setting his bag down on the desk and taking out his materials, paints, brushes and his iPod. Nasir stood still, wrapped only in a dark blue robe, his bare legs and feet catching Agron's eye.
"You've done this before?"
"Yeah, a bunch of times," Nasir said casually. "You?"
Agron sat down behind the desk and rolled up his sleeves.
"Never done a life class before, not with a person anyway, but I've done the basics, fruit and objects and that kind of thing. I didn't... It was boring."
"I can imagine." Nasir smiled. "You ok if I..." He waved a hand up and down his body to indicate that he was ready to take off his robe.
"Yeah, sure, if you're happy, go for it."
Nasir undid the sash around his waist and the robe slipped from around his shoulders leaving him totally naked.
"Do you want me standing or sitting?"
"Sitting I think. We're going to be here for a while so..."
"I can stand if you like? I'm used to it so I won't be uncomfortable."
Agron considered for a minute, he could already imagine the outline of his drawing on the blank canvas and the figure he could see was standing.
"Are you sure you don't mind?"
Nasir shook his head.
"Would you mind tying your hair up, Nasir?"
"Sure," Nasir replied, removing a band from around his wrist and pulling his hair back into a smooth ponytail. "This ok?"
"Yeah that's great. Could you stand at an angle, um, just turn a little to your right."
Nasir did as instructed and Agron nodded.
"I hope you don't mind but I always listen to music when I start drawing. I can't shut everything out otherwise."
"Nope, I don't mind. What are you listening to?"
Agron switched his iPod on and flicked through the library. Music was an important tool that he used to focus his mind and let go of the world around him. Every day was different.
"Today feels like a Led Zeppelin day," Agron said.
He caught Nasir's smile, a flash of white teeth, before the sound of Grace addressing the class.
"Ok everyone, you should have all introduced yourselves to your partners by now and you can start drawing. The class is one hour, but more time can be arranged on another day if you don't finish today."
Agron put his headphones over his head and switched 'Black Dog' on. He quickly sketched a rough outline of Nasir's body, the lines and curves, the slender but toned grooves of his legs and arms. Agron snorted in frustration at it. So far it looked no better than a child's picture.
The paints he'd arranged on the desk looked wrong. He leaned down and rummaged inside his bag until he found a box of charcoal. Adding some of the soft material to his sketch made him relax a little bit and once he got his fingers involved, smudging and sweeping, the image in his head finally began to come to life on the canvas. It looked better, abstract in a good way, and Agron could recognise Nasir in the picture.
'Immigrant Song' blared and Agron flicked his eyes up to study his subject every few seconds. His right arm was aching, but like everything else he ignored it, dedicating his full attention to what was in front of him.
Nasir stood like marble, smiling softly, eyes looking somewhere in the distance.
One part that Agron was struggling with however were Nasir's hands. Taking his headphones off he put down his charcoal and crossed his arms.
"Something wrong," Nasir asked curiously.
"I can't draw hands. Is it ok if I come a bit closer?"
It wasn't usual. Artists and models were advised to stay in their separate areas, but it was at their own discretion.
"Alright. You don't seem like a sex fiend," Nasir chuckled.
"What?" Agron's eyes widened. "Fuck, no... I mean, sorry I didn't think. I'll, um... I'll just stay right here. I wasn't trying anything.
"Agron, I was kidding. I'm sorry. It wasn't funny." Nasir turned from his frozen position to face Agron properly. "I make jokes when I'm nervous, ok. I'm sorry, of course you can move. It's no problem."
Agron thought for a minute and then stood up and moved his chair around the desk, still further away than he'd like, but better than before.
"Why are you nervous?" Agron kept his eyes on the canvas and shook off the weird thing that just happened and made a few practice sketches of Nasir's wrist and the top of his hand. Fingers he was saving till last, they were the hardest.
"You talk to yourself when you draw. Did you know that?"
"I do?" Agron frowned and put the end of the charcoal in his mouth, forgetting that it wasn't a pencil.
"Yeah," Nasir continued.
Agron swallowed and started to draw Nasir's thumb.
"Hm, oh lots of things. Some more than others. How did you hurt your arm? You mentioned it and you've been rubbing at it." Agron looked up and blinked. "If you don't mind me asking?"
"No, I don't mind." Agron looked down again and drew Nasir's forefinger. "It was crushed. A few years ago a building near to my house collapsed and some people were trapped inside."
"Wow, and you were one of them?"
"No, I was trying to help people to get out and more of the building collapsed. I was in between the falling building and the one next to it and was kind of pinned. My arm took the worst of it."
"That's horrible, but you saved peoples lives. That's pretty heroic."
"It was stupid."
"I don't think so."
Agron sighed and put the charcoal in his mouth again.
"Can you spread your fingers for me?"
Nasir did and Agron continued sweeping the charcoal in sure black strokes over the canvas.
"Me talking about my arm didn't make you nervous. What else did I say?" Agron stood and picked up his chair. "Thanks, I'm done now."
Nasir arranged his body into his original position as Agron went back to the desk.
"You kept repeating one word. Beautiful."
"Oh," Agron said, a bit taken aback, but relieved that it wasn't curse words or something. "I guess I was just stating the obvious. You are beautiful. I'm sorry if that made you feel nervous, but like I said before, I wouldn't do anything like that. I'm not a pervert."
"Ok class your hour is up," Grace called out, cutting Nasir's response off. "Make sure to write your names down before you leave if you need more time with your model."
Agron frowned. He was no where near done with his piece, but now he felt awkward asking Nasir for another session. His stupid mouth didn't know when to stay closed and now he'd made Nasir feel nervous.
"Can I see?" Nasir arched an eyebrow as he put his arms into the robe and closed it around himself.
"It's bad," Agron said, stepping closer to the canvas.
"Come on, I'm sure it's not. Please?"
Agron sighed and turned the piece around, watching as Nasir looked at it.
"I told you. I think I'd better stick to drawing fucking mangos."
"Agron, it's not bad. It's good actually. This is your first time working on a life model and it's better than a lot of the works I've seen from more experienced artists. I like how you used the charcoal to create shadow." Nasir looked back at the picture again. "It's very me."
"Well, that's one thing at least, seeing as it was you I was drawing." Agron closed his tin and swept his paints into his bag.
"Don't get all pissy," Nasir said, coming to stand next to Agron and untying his hair. "I meant that it actually feels like me. I've had people drawing me before and all they see is my body, what I look like, but yours... I don't know. It's me."
Agron didn't know what to say, but luckily Nasir wasn't done.
"When I said I was nervous, I didn't mean that you made me feel like that, but that I was nervous because I'd never had anyone say that about me before."
"You're fucking kidding me?" Agron didn't believe for a second that no one had told Nasir that he was beautiful.
"Hot. Sexy. Fuckable. I've been called a lot of things."
"No," Nasir said. "And you didn't even know you were saying it. It was nice to hear is all I'm saying. I didn't expect it, but it wasn't unwanted so don't act so put out, ok? I'm not going to report you to Grace for being sweet."
Agron laughed. "Now we've both been called something we've never been called before. Sweet... You're a dork."
Nasir prodded Agron in the arm and picked up the canvas.
"So are you writing your name down for another session or are you giving up?"
They walked to the large doors exiting the hall and Agron stopped by the desk and stopped.
"Agron, do you want to book a second session with Nasir?" Grace tapped a pen on a form and looked between the two men in front of her.
"Well?" Nasir asked, folding his arms.
"Bossy little man, aren't you?" Agron smiled, feigning exasperation. "Fine. I didn't get your damn hands right anyway."
Nasir smiled happily and Agron signed the form.
"I guess I'll see you next week then?" Agron grumbled.
"Yeah, you will."
Agron took his canvas and started towards the door. Just before he left he turned back and found Nasir watching him.
"You really are beautiful, Nasir," he said, meaning it completely.
"Thanks," Nasir replied softly, knowing that Agron wasn't lying. "See you soon."
Chapter 11: Stitched Up
"Can you open your eyes for me?"
"Your eyes are too nice, mm, my eyes aren't."
Donar chuckled, but Agron paid him no mind. He was still holding the young mans bloody face in his hands, trying to get him to unscrunch his eyes so he could check him over properly.
It was typical really. Ten minutes before his shift ended and he was called to a local bar because of a fight that had broken out. The life of a paramedic.
"Trust me. I'm sure your eyes are just as nice, ok? If you open them for me I can check you over and then you can go home and get some sleep, yeah? You must be tired?"
The young man nodded slowly and opened his eyes to little slits.
"Almost there." Agron smiled. This guy was pretty cute. "What's your name?" Agron's fingers moved deftly up to the cut that was bleeding through the mans hair. It wasn't too serious but would need stitches.
"Ouch is an unusual name," Agron said, dabbing the cut with some cotton and alcohol.
"S'not that, silly. It's Nasir. I fell over, you know? Hit my head on the fucking bar. Is that why you're here?" Nasir opened his eyes more and blinked. "You have really nice eyes."
Agron laughed, but felt a heat spread out on his cheeks. It wasn't unusual to get hit on by dazed, injured men and women in his profession. He was used to it. Nasir though... he was making him feel something low in his belly, a flip-flop, back in school, giddy type feeling that he hadn't felt since, well, high school.
"Thank you," Agron replied when he finally remembered how to speak. He knew he had to keep Nasir talking. He just had to remember that he was working and not meant to be getting a crush. "Can you tell me what happened here, Nasir?"
Nasir nodded again, hissing a little when Agron's fingers reached a cut under his eye that contained a small sliver of glass.
"There was a big idiot, uh, and he was saying something really loud in a girls ear, then... Ow, shit, that hurt!"
"Sorry," Agron said, placing the glass he'd removed in a silver dish in Donar's hand. "So this big idiot started the fight?"
"Mm, no, was the girl actually. She hit him with a bottle and then he fell into another idiot and it was like... What's that game?"
"Game?" Agron frowned, his hands cupping Nasir's face gently. He should probably stop doing that, he thought, but his fingers weren't listening.
"Yeah, you know, the one where... where they touch and fall down. Little wooden bricks." Nasir must have put his hands on Agron's knees when he wasn't looking because all of a sudden he could feel them there, burning through the thick cotton of his green work trousers.
"Dominoes," Donar said from somewhere behind Agron's back. "We need to put Nasir in the ambulance, mate."
"Yeah, dominoes, that's right." Nasir spoke softly, his voice still slightly slurred. "One went over and then boop, boop, boop, all went down. I was meeting my friend and I guess he's late and I had a couple of beers already."
"I can tell," Agron said with a smile. "We need you to come to the hospital so that the doctors can makes sure that you've not got a concussion, but you should be able to go home in an hour or so, ok."
Nasir nodded, he did that a lot, and let his hands slide from Agron's knees.
"I'm sitting on the floor," Nasir grumbled as he was helped into a more upright position by Agron and Donar. "This is embarrassing."
"We've seen a lot worse," Donar said, taking Nasir's right arm while Agron took his left. "Did your friend show up? We can find him if you want someone to ride with you."
"He, um, text me I think, saying he couldn't make it." Nasir felt for his phone in his jeans pocket after he'd been seated on the bed in the back of the ambulance. "I should call him I guess."
"Why don't you wait until you get to the hospital? It's only ten minutes away and I'm going to need you to lie down on this bed for me," Agron said.
"Will you lie down with me? You're cute. Are you single?"
Donar laugher as he shut the back doors of the ambulance leaving Agron temporarily alone with Nasir.
"I'll sit with you how about that?" Agron fastened the safety straps over Nasir's waist and then waved at Donar in the drivers seat that they were good to go.
"My head hurts," Nasir said groggily.
"Yeah, I know. The doctors will give you something for that."
"That bar was really fucking hard. I cut myself didn't I?"
"Yeah you did. Under your eye and just above your hairline. You'll probably need stitches."
"Mmm," Nasir mumbled. "That's great. Scarface."
"Hey, it's not so bad. It'll make you look like a badass." Agron grinned.
"You have dimples. Are you for real? No one is as hot as you in real life."
Agron shook his head and laughed. "I definitely think you've got a concussion, Nasir."
Nasir shook his head and closed his eyes.
"You have to keep your eyes open, little man. Come on, show me those peepers."
Nasir opened his eyes and blinked like a sleepy bear, slow and uncoordinated. Agron smiled and put his hand on Nasir's shoulder, rubbing small soothing circles with his thumb. His heart did a little leap and he cursed himself for being so easily enamoured by someone.
"We're here," Donar called out, swinging the ambulance into the parking spot at the front of the hospital.
Agron let himself be disappointed for a second, but then Donar was pulling the doors open and his time with Nasir was up.
"Are we good?" Donar hopped into the back and helped Agron get Nasir to his feet.
"I wish you were a doctor too and then you could stay," Nasir sighed.
"These guys will take good care of you ok, don't worry." Agron handed Nasir's notes to the doctors who met them at the door.
"Ok. Bye then... Agron who has nice eyes."
The doctors took Nasir further into the hospital and Agron watched him go, feeling a bit sad.
"What the hell am I, chopped liver? Oh Agron with the nice eyes, won't you please accompany me back to the ambulance so we can pack up and go the fuck home?" Donar bowed and held his arm out for Agron to walk before him.
"Shut up," Agron said, pushing Donar roughly, but laughed along with his friend too.
He dragged his feet back outside, hands stuffed into his pockets, wishing to hell he'd had the balls to slip Nasir his number.
Two months later.
"I'll check Mrs Harris over. Agron, go see what the trouble is over there."
Agron left Donar with the little old lady with purple hair and walked a few paces to where a group of about four or five people were blocking the second reported casualty.
"Excuse me, could I get some space please? Thank you."
Agron's breath caught when he saw who was sitting on the ground.
"Hi... again." Agron smiled like he'd just won the lottery.
Nasir looked up and smiled awkwardly, his eyes widening slightly, but he didn't speak.
"Oh, ok." Agron frowned and squatted down next to Nasir. Two months of thinking about Nasir was for nothing then. "So you fell off your bike when Mrs Harris' dog ran in front of you and you've hurt your arm, yeah?"
Nasir nodded and held his arm out for Agron to inspect. Agron clenched his jaw to hide his blatant embarrassment.
"Does this hurt?" Agron applied some pressure to Nasir's swollen wrist and watched Nasir's face twist in pain. "Alright, it's probably fractured so I'm going to put a brace on it until we get you to the hospital. Are you hurt anywhere else?"
Nasir shook his head and looked down at his knees.
"Fine," Agron sighed. "Can you stand?"
Nasir nodded and accepted Agron's arm, using it to pull himself to his feet. They walked in silence to the ambulance.
"Just wait here a minute, I'm just going to see if Mrs Harris is joining you."
Turning around, Agron saw Nasir beckoning him back with his hand. When he got back to where Nasir was standing he was surprised when Nasir plucked the notepad and pen he kept on him out of the front pocket of his shirt. Nasir wrote for a while before ripping the page out and thrusting the note into Agron's hands.
I fucking bit my tongue when I fell off my bike and I can't talk without sounding like an idiot.
Like the last time we met.
I'm really happy to see you again.
I still think you have nice eyes.
Am I allowed to ask you for a date?
Agron folded the note and put it in his pocket and then took the pad from Nasir's hands.
I'm happy to see you too, Nasir.
I've been thinking about you.
Your eyes are nice too.
Where are you going to take me on this date?
When Nasir read the note he blushed and shrugged his shoulders.
"We can talk about it later, little man," Agron said, placing his hand on Nasir's uninjured arm. "You know, you could have just come to the hospital if you'd wanted to see me again, you didn't have to injure yourself."
"Shuk ut," Nasir grumbled, covering his mouth with his hand and smiling behind it.
Agron started writing again and when he handed Nasir the note he tucked a strand loose hair behind his ear, enjoying the way Nasir's eyes darkened at his touch.
"For when the swelling goes down," Agron said, grinning suggestively and then walking away, swaying his ass very much on purpose.
Nasir traced the slanted digits of Agron's number with the tip of his finger. He was going to call him as soon as he could talk without drooling. He couldn't wait.
Chapter 12: Stitched Up - part 2
Nasir: “Hi. Agron, it’s Nasir… the clumsy idiot.”
A: “Nasir, hey. You sound good.”
N: “I’ve had an ice pack on my tongue for two days.”
(Both men laugh.)
A: “How’s the wrist?”
N: “It’s good. The cast is annoying and I can’t ride my bike till it comes off so I’m walking to work now, but it could’ve been worse. (Clicking noise over the phone.) So, um, are you free this Friday? I’ve seen this Cuban place that’s just opened up and I thought maybe we could try it?”
A: “I’m off work at six so we could go after?”
N: “Yeah, definitely! Or something much cooler and not so desperate sounding. Sorry.”
A: “I’m kind of eager to see you again too. Hopefully this time you’ll be injury free.”
N: “I can’t promise that. I’ve already stubbed my toe this morning and I got a paper cut reading a magazine last night.”
(Agron laughs more and Nasir joins in.)
N: “Hey, I’m keeping you in a job, you should be thanking me.”
A: “Oh, I intend to.”
(A loud crashing sound followed by a mumbled curse.)
N: “I dropped the phone.”
A: “I figured.”
N: “Is it weird that I’m really glad that I got hurt. I wouldn’t have met you if I hadn’t.”
A: “I don’t want to sound like a sadist, but I’m really glad you got hurt too. That sounded better in my head. I mean, it would have been better if we’d met under different circumstances, but I’m glad we did… meet. Uh, I’ll just shut up now.”
(Nasir laughs softly.)
N: “Do you want me to meet you at the hospital? Around six thirty? We could go for a beer first?”
A: “Yeah, that’s great. I’ll see you soon.
N: “Yeah, ok then, bye.”
Text (from Nasir): I'm at the hospital.
Text (from Agron): I'm nearly ready. Just changing. Be right out.
Text (from Nasir): No, I'm in the hospital. Room 325. Sorry.
Text (from Agron): On my way.
"Hey," Agron said, stepping into the room and smiling at a very sheepish looking Nasir. "Are you ok?"
"It was an accident."
"Isn't it always with you?" Agron smiled and sat down on the edge of the bed. "So, what've you done?"
Nasir took a deep breath. "I was walking here and I may or may not have been thinking about you and not looking where I was going and all of a sudden I was flung in a hedge."
Agron bit his lip. "What flung you?"
"A woman with a shopping cart, ok. One of those big ones from the supermarket and it really hurt. I landed funny and someone thought I was dying or something so they shuffled me over here. They think I've broken a rib." Nasir pouted and picked at the hem of his shirt. "M'sorry about tonight. I was really looking forward to it."
"Me too, but there are other nights." Agron put his hand over Nasir's and squeezed it gently. "I think you're worth the wait, little man."
"Really?" Nasir opened his fingers so that their hands were linked.
"Really," Agron agreed and leaned in, looking down at Nasir's lips and then back to his eyes. Nasir nodded slightly and Agron closed the distance between them, kissing Nasir deeply.
"Mmm, nice eyes and a good kisser," Nasir said breathlessly when Agron sat back.
"I'm awesome." Agron grinned and pulled Nasir's hand up to his mouth, kissing the back of it quickly.
"I've got to have an X-ray soon. You don't have to stay."
"We're still on a date, Nasir. When you're done we can get some shitty coffee from the canteen and then I'll drive you home so I can kiss you again on your front porch."
"I don't have a porch."
"Shut up, I'm being romantic."
Both men laughed and Nasir held Agron's hand a little tighter.
"What was she doing with a shopping cart in the street?" Agron frowned.
"I have no idea," Nasir said, smiling. "Waiting for a moron not paying attention to walk in front of her?"
"You're just a bit accident prone. What would be really good is if you, hmm I don't know, started dating someone who was good at looking after hurt people, a paramedic maybe? A paramedic boyfriend."
"Yeah." Nasir smirked. "I'm going to have to start looking for one. Do you know anyone who fits the description?"
Agron laughed and kissed Nasir again, on the cheek this time, but he was already addicted to the thrill of it.
"I might know someone who's perfect for you actually."