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Remaining Days

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Two full moons of journey, Agron and Nasir crossed the Alps with other freed slaves and continued North. Agron has found himself on familiar grounds, lands East of the Rhine.

~oOo~

Our path, once sand then rocky slopes and ice, had given way to grass. Fields and valleys with colours and trees that recall from childhood memory were far removed from the stench of death and sands of Rome.
I looked to the man walking at my side; still wearing the clothes worn in battle, but with his spear strapped at his shoulder. His long dark hair was pulled back, giving sunlight full access to his jaw and neck. When Nasir felt my eyes upon him, he looked up at me and smiled. “The sun shines favourably upon us,” he said.
I put my arm around his shoulder. “You read my thoughts now?”
Nasir laughed, but then looked over the valley to the distant mountains. “Do your homelands draw near?”
“Still some days away,” I said with a nod. “But these hills and trees remind me of earlier years.”
Nasir smiled happily as we continued on our path. It was his decision for us to return here. We had crossed the mountains with a large group of freed slaves and while many had turned west, Nasir gave reason to keep North. “What better place to claim as home, but where one of us already does so.”
The truth was, I would go anywhere with him; wherever his heart desired, whatever he longed for, whatever he required, I would give. I had no other reason to go back to the lands from where I borne. No kin left to claim as mine, no lands to stake as owned. But there was peace there, a very real lack of Roman rule, and for now that was enough.
I pointed farther up the road. “If memory serves, we shall soon see signs of village life where the river meets the mountain.”
Nasir’s eyes quickly darted to the direction I spoke. An honourable warrior, he scanned the tree line and distant escarpment either looking for possible threats or places of protection. “Do you believe it safe? Should we seek cover of nightfall, or does daylight favour us?”
We’d encountered many towns and villagers in our travels North. Many wary, assuming threat by the battle clothes worn. We avoided larger cities, using wide berth and darkness to pass by, but the farther North we travelled – the more distance from Rome we gained – the better we were received.
“I’d give preference to daylight,” I told him. “If reception is warm, we could rest a while.”
Nasir shot me a surprised smile, his excitement evident from the shine of his eyes and the spring that found his step. But as village walls and rooftops came into sight, his shoulders widened and his hands twitched, as though ready to reach behind him and have his spear at hand.
I was, of course, unarmed.
As we entered the village, we were met with scurrying locals, hushed whispers and frightened eyes. Nasir offered warm smiles whereas I broadened my shoulders and raised my chin. While I understood people’s hesitance, I had lost patience with it.
The local towns people had begun to follow us, keeping safe distance of course, and when we reached the town centre two men stepped out to meet us. Alone, unarmed, they were no threat. Or foolish to think of themselves as such.
“Speak your purpose,” one of them said in my native tongue. He wasn’t the biggest of the two, but it was apparent he held rank.
Not knowing what was said, Nasir glanced up at me. I answered with a tone more for his benefit than the town leader. “We have travelled a distance and seek only shelter and food.”
The man inspected our clothes; a mix of slave rags and Roman armour. “Your attire tells a story.”
“One we do not wish to share,” I said. There was fair caution in my tone now and the gathered crowd fell silent. A quiet hiss escaped Nasir, his stance widened as though at the ready to fight.
“You speak with a familiar tongue,” the other man said. “From where do you come?”
“As a child, I am from lands three days North,” I answered. “More recent years spent on foreign soil.”
The first man cast his eyes over my chest guard, studying the Roman detail. His eyes widened. “You hail from Rome?”
Even in a foreign tongue, Nasir understood the word Rome. He grabbed my arm. “We shall offer gratitude, and keep on our way,” Nasir said. When I stood ground, he urged, “Agron!”
Murmured chatter spread through the crowd, and the town leader stepped forward. He held up his hand and urged for quiet amongst his people. He looked at me, almost disbelieving. “You are Agron?”
I raised my chin, and clenched my fists; the still-tender skin of my hands protested. I stared at the village leader. “What of it?”
“The Agron?” he asked. His tone had moved from cautious to eager. “The Agron from these lands, who stood as a General beside Spartacus? The freer of slaves?” The small crowd waited for my response, not a whisper among them.
“I stand so named,” I said, still speaking my native tongue. I put my hand on Nasir’s shoulder, “And this is Nasir.”
The reaction was one of hesitation, then jubilation as cheers went up around us. The town leader stepped forward again and offered his hand with a smile. “The legend of your name precedes you. A man East of the Rhine forever etched in the glory of battle against Rome. You are most welcome here.”
I took his hand, my grip still weakened. The bandages long gone, the man before me looked to our joined hands, seeing the scar on the back of my hand for what it was. I watched as his eyes sought my other hand where he found a matching scar. He understood in that moment, I saw the realization in his eyes. These were crucifixion scars. His eyes cast to me, in shock or awe, then over to someone in the crowd. “Gather food and drink for these men,” he ordered. “At once!” He offered me a smile and his name. “Call me Hughard.”
While we were greeted by locals, all with smiles and nods of appreciation, the village children keenly admired our garments and armour, most excited by Nasir’s spear. He let them touch it and laughed when they squealed with delight.
“Where is your sword?” one child asked me.
A woman hushed the child, scolding him for asking such a thing, but there was silence amongst the people waiting for me to answer.
“Sword and shield now mark the grave of the man we fought for,” I told them.
Most nodded in understanding, and the name Spartacus was whispered amongst a few. A few questions prompted many more, about Spartacus, how he lived, how he died, of the other men that stood belong side us.
Before I could give answer, a woman carried in a tray of food and drink. The man Hughard said, “Please, eat,” proudly putting his arm around who I assumed to be his wife.
I gave him a nod. “Gratitude.”
Nasir’s face brightened at the fresh meat, bread and cups of nectar. “Gratitude,” he said, repeating the word in my native tongue.
The warm reception of these people was not expected, but welcome. If their intentions were not clear, fresh food was a most welcome reprieve from the stale bread and turned meat we’d rationed on our journey.
“You are cautious?” Nasir asked quietly, in a tongue listening ears did not understand.
“A trait ingrained.”
“These people appear kind, and well receiving of you,” he said, picking food off the tray. He nodded his thanks to the smiling woman, and looked at the small crowd whose eyes had not left us yet. Nasir broke bread and handed me a portion. “Eat.”
I took the bread, and I too nodded at the woman. “Their intentions remain unclear,” I said.
“Their intention is to honour you,” Nasir said. “The mention of your name alone set excited whispers from lips. Even in foreign tongue, that much was clear.”
“Reputation means little, in light of circumstance.”
Nasir chose his words carefully. “Stand but corrected, Agron. Your reputation may be what finds you safe harbour.”
“You fucking correct me?”
He smiled with a mouth full of food. “Only when necessary.”
“Your bravery extends far from field of battle.”
Nasir laughed, and the sound warmed my chest. “As does your ranking, or so you believe.”
Smiling, I ate the offered meat and bread; more food than I’d eaten in recent memory. Nasir ate his fill, and when the woman handed Nasir the remaining food, he wrapped the remaining morsel in cloth and secured it in his parcel. When his knapsack was tied, he cast eyes on me once more. “Did you speak truth when you said we might rest a while?”
“If you wish, yes.”
Nasir smiled again, just as Hughard approached. Nasir and I both stood to face him. “We seek shelter,” I said. “Hard ground and stars for cover have grown tiresome.”
“If you wish a night’s refuge, it would be an honour to offer shelter under my roof.”
“Generous,” I replied. “But not necessary. We would seek something to rest a while.” I scanned the still-watching crowd. “Something which aids privacy. If you would be most gracious to lead us to such accommodation.”
Hughard nodded. “Not myself. But I know of someone who can offer what you seek. If you care to follow...”
Hughard led us to a man who he called Othamar. Othamar was a man of some wealth; a landholder, a farmer. The old man eyed us with due caution, and upon being enlightened of our names and histories, we were given a nod. We followed the old man to the end of the village and farther down a seldom-used track, through longer grasses and trees, and we came upon a small, forgotten hut.
“It will meet purpose,” Othamar said, speaking a tongue so both Nasir and I understood.
Meet purpose? Fuck the gods. Vines overtook the walls, holes marked the roof and Jupiter himself only knew what animals took refuge in it.
But Nasir’s excitement was evident by his smile. “Gratitude,” he said and was quick to the door, still smiling as he disappeared inside.
Othamar’s eyes fell upon me just as I looked to the heavens and sighed. He smiled before I followed Nasir inside.
It was just as I assumed it would be. Dark, cold and smelling of rodent and shit.
“It more than meets purpose,” Nasir said. Even in the darkened room, I could see how his eyes equalled his smile.
He’d lost fucking mind. “It’s fit for Roman pigs.”
Nasir laughed. Not even my words could dampen his mood.
The old man now stood in the doorway. “Clean it as you will. Use what comforts you find. It has stood empty for an age.”
“Evidence apparent,” I said, looking around the small and filthy floor.
Nasir was quick to stand beside me. “How many days are we afforded? And at what cost?”
“A price you’ve already paid,” Othamar answered. He cast eyes over my bloodstained armour and the scars across my body. “If you are who reputation claims you to be, you have much cost already.”
At his words, memories of sacrifices made flooded my mind. With a heavy heart, I gave him a nod. “A cost we pay still.”
Nasir was quick by my side. His hand on my back anchored me in a way only he could. The man before us offered a smile, and turned to part company but before he’d made the door, Nasir stopped him. “Would you agree for us to hunt these lands?” he asked keenly. “For food and fur. We would only take what is needed.”
The old man nodded. “To the river as you please. My land extends thus far, and back to the Eastern road. I’ve not touched this portion in some time so the woods should be plentiful.”
“Your generosity humbles,” Nasir said.
The man gave a nod, then cast his eyes upon me. “If you’ll pardon the intrusion, no disrespect is intended,” he said. “Your hands... are those wounds what they seem?”
I paused to consider telling him to mind his tongue, but his offer of shelter gave weight to his question. Or to my tolerance of it. “If you presume scars borne upon cross, your thoughts presume correct.”
“And yet you live,” he replied. “The Gods favour you.”
My eyes fell to Nasir. “For reasons not my own.”
The corners of the Syrian’s lips curled into smile, faint colour fell upon his cheeks. “You flatter.”
It was then we heard mutterings from outside, and upon inspection, found some of the town people before the hut, their arms laden. “We bring wares,” Hughard said. “Seeing you empty handed, we offer you basics for your stay. We make offer, then will grant privacy sought.”
Hughard was accompanied by another younger man, two women and a gathering of wide-eyed children. They held linens and wrappings of breads, the man’s arms were burdened with wood, and they greeted Othamar with respect and kind smiles.
“You bring these for us?” I asked.
I was still wary of their purpose, but Nasir stepped forward. “Agron’s fellow kin prove generous, beyond what words of gratitude allow,” he said to Othamar, knowing he understood. Nasir smiled kindly, taking one woman’s burden. “Please, come inside,” he urged them, using hand gestures to suggest they follow.
I watched as he walked inside, followed by strangers. He could defend himself well, and I had no cause for alarm, but he’d not been from sight in months and it was not proving easy now.
Witnessing my eyes follow Nasir, Hughard said, “You are cautious.” A simple townsman, he was no threat, merely curious.
“A reflection of my character,” I offered, given his generosity. “Not yours.”
“You are a legend of these lands and we are honoured you pass through here,” he went on to say. “We offer only good will, not disrespect.”
Nasir was suddenly at my side. “None taken,” he said. “Apologies for appearing without thanks.”
My eyes fell on Nasir. “You speak for me now?”
He smiled up at me. “When words to mend are called for.”
The younger man with Hughard eyed Nasir with keen eyes. “You fought alongside Agron?”
“Bravely,” I answered for him. Letting it be known to this simple fuck that Nasir was spoken for.
Nasir smirked at my jealous nature, only to irritate me I was certain, but looked up on our visitors and nodded. “It was not always so, but freedom and guidance in battle saw it to light.”
“An honour, yes?” the younger visitor said.
“One which accompanies sorrow of loss,” Nasir answered.
“We were sorry to hear of the horrors that lined the Appian Way,” Hughard said. “I can not imagine such-”
“Of which horrors do you speak?” I asked.
The visiting men eyed us cautiously. Nasir stepped closer to me, waiting for answer.
Hughard’s voice was quiet. “There was word that Crassus had lined the road to Appius with the remaining slaves upon crosses, to give warning.” He lowered eyes to the ground. “Some six thousand dead. I assumed this familiar knowledge.”
“We crossed the mountain after seeing burial of an honourable brother,” I told them. “Upon descent, we separated from the others and continued North. We know not of what you speak.”
Nasir reacted with concern and anger, his eyes were wide. “Agron.”
Othamar then spoke, wary of our reaction to this news. “We shall grant you our absence.” The visitors bid us farewell, and backed away.
Without waiting to be alone, Nasir gripped the spear at his back. “We should return. And let us show Crassus that the fight for freedom does not end with Spartacus.”
I felt pride and sorrow swell in my chest. I looked to where our visitors disappeared back down path from where they came, then back to Nasir. I gave him a sad smile and sighed in return. “We should not.”
Nasir was silenced by surprise. The words he would not speak caused his eyes to harden and his jaw to set.
I touched his face as though a feather. “Speak your tongue.”
His dark eyes shot to mine. “You once swore to me your place was on the battlefield.”
“Nasir, I swear to you now, it is no more. My place is with you,” I said. “Here. Where we shall see out remaining days.”
“What of the war?” Nasir asked. “For all that have fought and lost? Who fights for their memory if we do not?”
“Have we not lost enough?” I said, holding my temper. Why could he not see? "Memories are grand, Nasir, but heart and flesh hold more purpose. And at what cost do we fight now? Spartacus is not of this world, and many by his side for his cause. I am grateful, but the war for us is over. My war is over.” I held up my still-healing hands, and spoke softer. “These scars hide horrors you can not imagine. To have wished for death on a cross but have the Gods spare me, brought only reason for living to mind.”
Nasir’s shoulders fell as his breath left in a rush. “Me?”
“And only you,” I told him. “The debt to Spartacus is a heavy weight, but is it not better to have life with leaden gratitude than it is to have death for cause?” I held his face in hands. “On that cross...”
Nasir’s eyes filled with sadness. “You wished for death?”
“But to see your face once more.”
He leaned into my hand and pressed his lips to the scar there. “Agron.”
I pulled him against me. “We have fought, and we have lost much,” I spoke a whispered breath in his hair. “Do we not deserve peace for remaining days? Have we not spilled enough Roman blood to be granted that?”
It was then Nasir stood straight, and spoke with quiet determination. “I think the Gods would allow such a trade.”
I lifted his chin and kissed him, a touch of which I would never tire.
Nasir smiled, but I recognized the look in his eyes. “We were given gifts by your people, of soft cloths and kindling. Let me clear the hearth for fire, and make us a bed.”
I kissed him again, desire never far from surface. “No need for fire yet. The heat shall come from within.”
He smiled and taking my wrist, led me into the small, dark house. He flattened the linens into a softer bedding, then turned to face me. He unclasped his shoulder guard and let it fall to floor. “You speak of fire. Show me such flames.”
I took his face with sure hands and kissed him with unequalled desire. He took my tongue in his mouth and his fingers found purchase over skin. I pulled the threads and clasps of his clothes, revealing bare flesh, touching all were I could reach. When he moved to undress me, I stilled his hands. “Allow me,” I told him.
Then he tried to turn in my arms, giving me his back, giving me access, but I held him still. “No,” I all but breathed. “Lay down for me. I will watch pleasure in your eyes.”
“You will witness more than that,” he replied, then lowered to the ground.
Ridding myself of clothes, pulling straps and threads, letting them fall to the floor, I knelt over him. I pressed my lips to the scarred flesh of his ribs, trailing hot breath and lips to his cock. As I licked him and took him into my mouth, his hands found purchase in my hair. I set tongue upon his hardened flesh, and took him deep into my throat, lips firm around his base. I cupped his sac in my hand so he hissed and writhed, murmuring words of bliss and love. To have him at the mercy of my mouth, under my touch, was empowering; my pleasure was to give, instead of receive.
As his cock swelled, ready for release, he moaned low and arched his back, and when he succumbed to pleasure, I drank all he gave me.
Letting his spent cock slip from between my lips, I kissed up his skin and lay my head on his chest. His arms wrapped around me. “Agron,” he said, his voice husky and sated. “You play me like a melody.”
I smiled and kissed the skin of his chest, but put my ear back to his ribs. I felt his pulse under skin, his heart beat, just for me. “Your heart beats the rhythm.”
He chuckled and shook his head. “It amazes me you were feared as a barbarian. If they could hear the words you speak to me, or feel how soft your touch.”
“No one else will ever feel my touch,” I said with more growl than intended. I looked up at him, to find him smiling. “You are brave to tease me,” I cautioned him, but he smiled wider. “You are all biting wit of late.”
“To see you smile again.”
“I smile because of you, not the wise remarks.”
Nasir chuckled once more, then he exhaled loudly. “You know, Spartacus once said such thing to me.”
“He spoke of what?”
“Your smile. That he saw it absent when Duro was struck from this world, but returned once more when you found me.”
I considered this for a moment. “Maybe.”
“He said you smiled and laughed often with your brother.”
“We did.”
Nasir’s fingers traced the lines of my face. “Spartacus said he only saw your true smile again when your eyes fell upon me.”
“Happiness returned with you,” I murmured. “Though Spartacus spoke the truth, I was a different man.”
Nasir’s hands held my face. “You are a different man,” he said.
“I recall those very words said to Crixus,” I replied with a sad smile.
He shook his head. “After him, after the death of all our brothers. But none more so after the day Spartacus left this world, I have seen a different man in you.”
“I know not what you mean,” I replied, though my words held no conviction. I felt what he saw, but admitting as much turned errant thought into binding reality.
“You are without anger,” he said softly. “The fight in you, gone.”
I brushed the hair from his forehead. “I am weary of it.”
Nasir leaned up and kissed me. “You are still the warrior I first feared, and then loved. You are not a defeated man, you are no lesser a man. You are a changed man.”
“How could I not be?” I replied. “How could we not be changed?” I sighed, quelling any desire to press the issue. “You might speak some truth in that regard, but I’m not that changed a man. If someone threatened to steal you from me, in life or love, I would rip the skin from his scalp.”
Nasir laughed. “Changed, yet the same. Agron, you are still, and forever will be, the only one who holds my heart.”
“And you mine. For all days.”
Nasir sighed and I lay my head again on his chest. His fingers found my hair, his lips the top of my head.
“And you never feared me,” I spoke into the darkened room. “You feared no one.”
Nasir laughed. The sound rumbled in my ear. “It may have appeared so. Masked well with want to live.”
I leaned up on bent arm. “Can I ask of something you said when we met?” I asked.
“Of course.”
“You said you were more Roman than Syrian. Did you refer to years spent on Roman sands compared to home soil?”
His answer was a whisper. “Yes.”
“Were you just a boy when bought into slavery?”
Nasir’s hand swept across my brow and along my jaw. For a long moment he said nothing, as though not wanting to burden with me with such knowledge, but then he gave a nod. “I don’t recall exact age, nor much before it. I was maybe five or six summers young.”
My jaw clenched in anger. He was bought as a body slave as a mere child. I’d assumed as much, but never confirmed it true, and it lanced my heart to hear it now. I couldn’t bear thought of him enduring such acts. “I am glad your Dominus was stripped of breath. My only wish that it was by my hand.”
“It wasn’t all bad,” he said, his fingers raking my hair. “I was fed, and spared life. My brother was older, taken and sold. I never saw him again.”
“Oh, Nasir...”
“My memory of him is him calling me by name when taken.” He gave a sad smile. “All the years after, I would repeat it in my mind so as not to forget.”
I kissed his chest, atop his heart. “It saddens.”
He shrugged. “I have life, freedom. And you.”
I rolled us over, and this time embraced him in my arms and pressed lips to his forehead. “My world of slavery was a brutal one, but I at least have childhood memories of happier times.”
Nasir tightened his hold on me, and after a stretch of contented silence, he asked, “What does the new dawn bring?”
“Hunt for meat, collect water.” I cast gaze across the room, my eyes adjusted to the dark. “Fix this squalor. Make a table, a bed. A proper bed,” I corrected. “It’s been too long on cold grounds and rock.”
Nasir propped up on his arm. His smile warmed my heart. “Really?”
With a gentle touch, I tucked stray hair behind his ear and thumbed his jaw. “I saw how eager you were when you first drew sight of this place. If staying here brings such look of happiness, then I am more than willing to comply.”
He leaned in and kissed me. “A place to call home has long been absent.”
“Home?” I asked. “Home for me is not walls and thatched roof. Nasir, my home is where you are.”
He smiled once more. “You are reflective today. More so than normal.”
“By Roman hands, I have learned gratitude for each moment,” I told him. “Days such as these should bear reflection.”
Nasir leaned in and kissed my lips, and his fingers traced along where my necklace once was. “Your neck remains bare,” he said quietly.
“I was stripped of all upon cross.”
“Of more than leather strands and brass buckles.”
“Maybe so. But I don’t care to revisit that time.” I traced his lips with my fingers. “Those memories keep company with melancholy, and I’d rather rejoice in living, than relive dying by Roman hand.”
Nasir frowned but stayed silent. The skies outside were darkening and night would soon be upon us. “Let us make fire,” I suggested in attempt to lift spirits. Wrapping a loin cloth around me, I sought out dried grasses and twigs for Nasir to start the fire, but when I went inside, found he’d not made any attempt. “Speak your troubles,” I said, kneeling beside him.
“No troubles,” he replied quickly.
It was not like him to hold tongue in such regard. He’d always been one to speak his mind. I piled the dried brush on the hearth, and took the flint and iron from his idle hands. “Nasir, if something is of bother, please break words. Your lack of them is cause of concern.”
Still naked, kneeling next to me by the hearth, he cast eyes upon my face and smiled. “No troubles,” he repeated. “The opposite, it would seem.”
I struck the iron to flint while I considered his words, but after a few strikes, my attempts to light a simple fire were failed by ruined hands. I growled in frustration, yet before I could throw the flint against fucking wall, Nasir’s hand covered mine.
“Fucking hands are useless!” I said, biting back my anger.
He took the flint from me, and lifted my hand to gently lay against his face. “Speak no such thing,” he murmured into my scarred flesh. “Your hands, your very touch...” his eyes closed, “they spark life in me.” Nasir kissed the marred flesh of my palm, then turned hand to kiss along my knuckles. “Far from useless. I’ve seen these hands bathed in Roman blood and then grace the most gentlest of touch. These hands have defended the weak and clenched fist at Rulers and Dominus alike.”
“These hands can no longer hold sword,” I countered.
“Enough of gentle words,” Nasir said sharply. His dark eyes narrowed at me. “Enough of pity. These hands,” he squeezed mine in his, “these are the hands that hold my heart, and you’ll do well to consider them in such regard.”
I smiled at his frail attempt to rebuke me.
“Do not cast that look,” he said, repeating my own former words to him. “And wipe smile from face.”
“Do you chastise me?”
He finally smiled. “When necessary. Now start this fire.”
I gnashed my teeth at him, causing him only to laugh. I picked up the flint and tried again to spark fire and as luck would have it, a few strikes later we had spark and the brush and tinder caught alight.
I smiled victoriously, over such a simple fucking task, and Nasir chuckled beside me as he built the fire. “I would say I told you as much,” he said, blowing on the embers. “But fear it not advice appreciated.”
“You would fear that correct,” I replied, but I leaned down and kissed his cheek. “I will source out more wood and anything of use before all sunlight is lost. I won’t be long.”
With a parting smile and nod, I left him and scavenged around the grounds for more wood and branches. Collecting what I could, I went back into the house to find the room lit by soft fire, and Nasir , still naked, still sitting in front of it. Again, he looked troubled.
I dropped my burden with the other stack of wood bought by villagers. “Nasir,” I called gently. “Break words of worry,” I said. Kneeling down to face him, I saw that he was holding a token from his necklace. Taken from around his neck, he now held it in his hands. “Nasir.... please speak.”
He looked up at me with warm eyes and smiled. “No need to raise concern.”
“Advice given too late.” I looked again to the necklace in his hands. “The leather adorns your neck no more?”
He held the beads as though made from immeasurable wealth. “These beads from leather strands around my neck are not those of a Dominus. They are worn of free will; a mere decoration, but one I call my own. And you... you are without any.” He smiled and licked his lips as though nervous. “Agron, I offer you mine. I want you to have half of all I own.”
I looked to the beads, then to his face to see only honesty there. I reached out to touch his cheek, humbled by his words. He laughed a little and a flush fell upon his cheeks. He held the long beaded token in his hand. “We would share the same leather and beads, to prove we share common bond. We are tied to one another but in free will. You are not my Dominus, but I belong with you, always. If you agree to wear it...”
Unable to form words, I held his face and pressed my lips to his.
Still with smiling lips, but now uncertain, he spoke quietly, “You are yet to answer.”
I took his free hand and held it over my heart so he could feel how it thundered in my chest. “My answer is yes, with the power of a thousand suns, yes.”
His smile was instant and one of relief. “You paused.”
“I was struck of words,” I admitted honestly. “Your offer stilled my tongue.”
“But not your heart.”
I laughed incredulously. “You cause it to take flight.”
Rising to his knees before me, he reached around my neck to tie the leather strand. He kissed my cheek and gave a laugh. “A Knot of Hercules.”
A laugh of surprise escaped me, and again words failed to form on tongue. My eyes caught his and with a nervous smile, I felt heat flush my cheeks. A Knot of Hercules was only given to wed, and he referred to this as such. Is that what we now were? Would we be forged in common, unbreakable bond by such a gesture? “Nasir...”
Nasir’s hands stilled on my neck, and then he kissed the skin on my shoulder. “A sacred knot, Agron.”
My hand felt the bead that now sat on my chest, humbled by his want to call me his. I swallowed down an imagined weight in my throat. “To match the meaning of your gift.” I tried to say more, but lacked the words to do justice.
“It is a rare thing to see you short of words,” he said with a righteous smile.
“Mistake not my silence for disregard. I fear my words not enough to balance scales of love.” I shrugged. “Nasir, I have nothing of worth to give you in return...”
He shook his head in disagreement. “You have given me all.”
“But no token to show you as mine.”
This time he smiled, but he took my hand. Turning palm upwards, I presumed him to trace the scar there as he often did, but this time he did not. His fingers unclasped the wrist guard I had worn in last battle, and still wore to that day. Nasir took the worn, bloodstained leather band from me, with a quiet reverence. He then returned it to me, but offered his left wrist, waiting for me to reclasp it to him. “Worn around the wrist closest to heart,” he said. His eyes stayed trained on the cuff he now wore. When he spoke, his words were barely a breath. “I shall wear it always; my vow betrothed for all remaining days.”
I pulled him close against me, gripped his thigh and lay him down beneath me. I pressed my body onto his and sought his mouth with mine, kissing him with a passion I could not contain. I pulled my mouth from his only to draw breath, and whisper his name. “Nasir.”
He smiled. “You’ll anger the gods to speak my name as in prayer.”
“Let them attempt to bring wrath upon me. I fear nothing when I am in your arms.”
His eyes darkened and swam with love, a coy smile upon his lips. His hand which touched my face, led down my neck to where his necklace now graced my neck. “It leaves my heart full to see this upon you.”
I kissed him once more and repeated his words. “I shall wear it always; my vow betrothed for all remaining days.”
Nasir gripped my face and kissed me with equal fervour. “Agron, I would have you inside me.” He pulled the loin cloth from my hips and shifted his weight under me. His legs fell open and he lifted his hips to press his eager cock to mine. “Fill me, so I can feel your heart beat within me.”
My cock throbbed between us. “Your words will bring me undone too soon.”
He threw his head back and laughed, so I lifted his thigh and pressed hardened cock against willing hole and watched as his chuckles fell to groans, as his eyes fluttered closed and his exposed neck corded with strain and pleasure.
I pushed into him, until fully seated within. Any concern that I may hurt him were quashed when his fingers dug into the skin of my hips, keeping me there, pulling me closer still.
I moved with a tempered pace, savouring each gasp, each murmured word of love, each groan. With every sound that fell from his lips, I pushed harder within him. Unable to rein in need, desire, want or need, my body ached for release.
But I would not have it yet.
With weight upon elbows, my hands cradled his face and in the flickering light of the fire, when his eyes opened the love that cast gaze upon me stole my breath. His body moved in time with mine, his thighs raised near chest and his hands roamed all skin he could reach. When I leaned down to kiss him, he took my tongue like he took my cock, and whimpered with body’s desire.
When I could stave off pleasure no more, I kissed down his jaw to find neck and wrapping my arms underneath him, held him to me as my hips flexed one last time and my cock emptied inside him.
The world fell from sight and sound. My head swam with angels’ song and my blood was laced with flame as a pleasure only Jupiter himself could bestow swept through me.
“Agron,” Nasir whispered with kisses to my ear. “Are you yet of this world? Or did the Gods steal you for splitting the heavens?”
I chuckled into his neck. I felt as though wine rendered my mind and body of little use. “Jupiter sends his regards,” I mumbled, my voice husk.
Nasir laughed underneath me and rolled me off him, only to keep me close, his back now faced the fire. His arms wrapped tight around me. “You keep company with the gods now?”
“When you send me to them,” I replied, kissing his face, his hair.
Nasir chuckled once more, but settled into my side. “I shall never tire of sending you.”
“I shall never tire of going.”
He then kissed the bead upon the necklace given; his token of forever. He was silent.
Content.
I traced gentled fingers on his back until he spoke again. “And we shall stay here?”
“We can live in hidden peace, for as long as the Gods allow.”
“We will need new linens at a time, new cloth and fur, but we’ve no dead Romans to take from, nor coin for purchase.”
“I am no shepherd, nor tiller of soil,” I told him again. “I’ve not the patience, nor the skill for such a thing.”
Nasir laughed quietly in my arms. “Do you think anyone in these lands could rival your skill at hunting? Your ability to track down Romans and sever heads from bodies was matched only by Spartacus himself.”
“You compare fucking Romans to pig and goat?”
Nasir laughed again. “Insult to animal.”
“They smell sweeter, and prove more loyal.”
I could tell there was smile upon lips when he spoke. “We shall trade in meat and fur, or live young for farm or sport.”
“Hunters?”
“We would be unmatched.”
I smiled. “We shall need iron for knife and blade. Pikes to gut and bleed, pens to hold the not yet dead...” then I remembered my hands. “My ambitions may exceed my ability... my hands won’t allow such tasks.”
“You will heal in time, and until then I will shoulder weight.”
I shook my head. “Must all my words return to me?”
“Some I would rather lose from memory,” he said, though he tucked himself closer in my side. “Some still comfort even in dreams.”
“How is it you can sweeten sour thoughts with words alone?”
“I know your mind,” he replied, his voice sounding tired. “Tomorrow we can start turning wooden sticks to spires.”
“Nasir, my hands...”
“You are maimed, not useless.”
I pulled back from his hold, but my glare upon him was wasted by his still-closed eyes and failed attempt to withhold smile.
He mumbled, “Do not cast fucking look.”
I groaned. “More returned words.”
He pulled me back to him and lay his head on arm as though a pillow, his face buried in my chest. “Sleep. Tomorrow lends much to do.”
I kissed the side of his head. “So begins remaining days.”

 

~oOo~

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