Nasir had settled into one particular spot - the same spot he had woken up in. He wanted to leave, to move on, to find someone or something recognizable beyond the forest and the sea, but he had no concept of where he was or in which direction he should move. Instead, he had stayed in one spot while he collected himself, gathered his bearings, and tried to heal. He was in pain that lapsed back and forth between numbing and unbearable. Agron was always on his mind.
He thought about how he had tried to distance himself from Agron, publicly at least, and how it had resulted in nothing but actually push them apart. His intention was to prove himself as strong and a leader, but now he was more pathetic than ever. He had put himself at a disadvantage; it was his own fault, and he had allowed himself to be overpowered, and then abandoned. Apparently, he wasn't even good enough to be a hostage.
He wanted to go back, especially to see Agron again. If Agron still lived. Besides the basic fact he had no idea which direction to try, something more important kept him from immediately rushing back to Spartacus and his army. If he could be so easily tricked into what was, in hindsight, so obviously an attempt at sabotage against Spartacus, he never deserved to be there in the first place. He knew from the beginning he never should have gotten drunk. He knew that man was after him. And he should have known the woman would have never really wanted him. She only wanted to seduce him into a dark corner, and he himself had made it absurdly easy for her to accomplish it. Spartacus did not need someone like him on his team. He hadn't proven himself a strong leader, he had proven himself a liability to the cause.
With this in mind, he had collapsed into one spot and stayed there for two days. He had no desire to get up, to find shelter, to find food, or water, or to move. He had entirely too much time to think. But eventually he realized he had to do something. The will to survive was stronger than the weight of his failure. Well, he thought, if he could never face Agron or Spartacus or Naevia again, he would have to do something else with his life. He would have to do what he had always planned, somewhere in the back of his mind, to find a small village and adopt it as his own, and stay there for the rest of his life. He would make the villagers like him, somehow, and he would make them incorporate him into their lives. He would find a way to make a living. He would build his own house, and hunt his own food. He would never cause trouble, or be a bother to anyone, and he could live that way, quietly, forever.
At the beginning of the third day, as the sun rose and Nasir couldn't tear his mind from thinking of drinking water, rain drops began to fall. He couldn't remember the last time it had rained, but it always seemed to happen at exactly the last possible moment before the lack of water became perilous, and this time was no different. The sea waves had been torturing him until then. He leaned his head back and held his mouth open, trying to catch as much as he could. After a while the rain fell so hard he could catch pools of water in his hands, and drank from them. He was inspired, then, to start walking.
He could not walk into the sea, which left him three directions that he could pursue. With his back to the waves, to the west, he could go south along the coast, east into the forest, or forge straight ahead, to the north. He had an inclination to go north. He told himself that probably meant Agron was to the north, so he went east instead. He felt walking along the shore would leave him too exposed.
He went perhaps a mile into the forest, east, before he stopped. The rain still fell, only now it was pouring hard and pounding into the ground. He journeyed in mud, his feet sticking with every step, and knew he would fall ill if it kept up for long. His head ached. He paused, just for a moment, and rested his forehead against the bark of a tree. He closed his eyes. He remembered the stories Agron had told him of Spartacus in his early days as a gladiator, and how the throngs of crowds at the arena idolized him for bringing the rain. The bringer of rain, they called him.
And when he thought of himself in some little village, trying to hide from his neighbours and hoping no one would ever find out anything about him, he wondered what would keep him of thinking of Agron and Spartacus then. What would his mind turn to every single time it rained? He would hate himself if he left them. He would never be happy again. It would be worse to desert them than anything else he could possibly do. And he would have fought for nothing. He was afraid to see Agron again when it was possible that Agron would never forgive him. But he would never forgive himself if he knew Agron might still be alive, and he never went back for him. Above all else, he could not really bring himself to leave Agron behind.
This thought process flashed through his mind in a fleeting moment, and before he really knew what he was doing, he had turned to the north. It was stupid. He didn't really know if he was going in the right direction or not. He had no way of knowing. He could only follow his instinct.
It took another two days before he gave up, and sank to the ground once more in defeat. But, of course, when he lifted his head, and gazed toward the horizon, he spotted it. It was the very same house Spartacus' army had claimed as their own. It was exactly the place he had been looking for. He laughed when he saw it.
The guards at the gates did not recognize Nasir until he told them who he was, and then it took them a moment to snap out of shock before one of them thought to tell Crixus.
Crixus appeared moments later, looking incredulous, but when he finally laid eyes on Nasir, he, too, laughed.
"Why do you laugh?" Nasir asked him.
"We should not be here anymore," Crixus told him. "If I had my way, you would have returned to an empty house. I was not going to wait one more day for you."
It was too much for Nasir to think about, so he said nothing.
"Follow me," Crixus ordered.
Nasir lagged behind as Crixus led him to a room in the back of the house, where Spartacus sat alone. Along the way he searched for a glimpse of Agron. Even the back of his head would do to appease him. But he did not see him anywhere.
Crixus and Nasir sat with Spartacus. Nasir had the distinct feeling he was going to be reprimanded.
"We think we know what happened," Spartacus began, "but I would like to hear it from you."
Nasir shook his head. "I woke up. I was alone, and beaten. It was the Gaul who came after me that night. I think he hit me in the head. And the dark haired girl worked with him. She led me to him."
"And you don't know where they are now?" Spartacus asked.
"And you don't know why they left you?"
Crixus looked him up and down. "They probably thought you were dead."
Nasir tried to smile at him. "Do I look that bad?"
Crixus was not amused. "Did anyone follow you here?"
"How did you find your way back?"
"I don't know."
Crixus looked at Spartacus. "He is lying."
Before Spartacus could reply, Nasir tried to answer the question again. "I was pulled in the right direction."
Crixus gave him a mocking smile. "By the gods, do you think?"
Nasir was solemn. "Maybe. Haven't you ever been separated from someone you love, and felt overwhelmingly compelled to find them again?"
That shut Crixus up, and Spartacus took the hint. "Agron is ill. He's been overcome with fever since we left to find a new location to set up camp. And when we returned to find you gone... I don't think it helped him to recover any faster."
Crixus stood. "I will bring him to Agron's room," he volunteered.
Both Nasir and Spartacus gave him a questioning look, but Nasir didn't care enough to try to decipher his intentions. It appeared Spartacus could not decipher them either, because he nodded, but still he frowned.
Nasir followed Crixus wordlessly down the halls. When they reached Agron's bedroom, the room they had once shared, Crixus stopped and took hold of Nasir's shoulder. "If you simply walk in, you will kill him. He is very weak. Let me ease him into the matter gently."
Nasir wanted to run in immediately, but he worried about Agron, so he nodded.
"Stay out here until I signal to you," Crixus said, and entered the room alone.
Nasir peeked around the corner to look at Agron as Crixus took a seat at the end of his bed. Agron was pale and sweating and seemed to be half asleep and half awake at the same time.
"We have heard news of Nasir," Crixus told Agron quietly. Agron sat up straighter, anxious to hear. "It seems some of the men I brought into our ranks have betrayed us. They took Nasir for ransom. If not just for money, for information, also."
Agron stared at him, silent.
"I am sorry," Crixus said. Nasir was shocked. He had never heard Crixus apologize to anyone, or be so emotionally honest. He hardly knew he was capable of it.
"Has Nasir been found?" Agron asked, choosing his words carefully, not wanting to ask, but wanting to know, if Nasir was alive or not.
When Crixus hesitated to answer, Nasir realized what Crixus was doing. He remembered when Agron told Crixus that Naevia was dead; a horrible lie that had practically killed Crixus to hear it. But Crixus was strong then, and Agron was weak with fever. Crixus was going to tell Agron that Nasir had died, and it probably really would kill Agron to hear it. It was Crixus' revenge.
Nasir was panicked, and couldn't decide if rushing in to stop Crixus from saying it would help anything or not. Either way, Crixus was not gently easing Agron into anything. He was about to shout at Crixus from the hallway, hoping the sound of his voice would shock Agron less than jumping into the room would, when Agron spoke again. Crixus was taking too long to answer him, and Agron was getting frantic.
"How do you know all of this?" he asked Crixus.
Crixus stared at the floor, as though contemplating something, before he finally answered. "We have heard it from a messenger."
"Who? I must speak to him," Agron demanded. "Send him in here."
Crixus nodded, and wordlessly left the room. He looked at Nasir, and Nasir could see Crixus had been thinking exactly as Nasir had been. He knew Crixus had almost told Agron that Nasir was dead, out of revenge, but had changed his mind at the last minute. Nasir wanted to thank him, or express gratitude somehow, but before he could do anything, Crixus pushed him into Agron's room, and then he disappeared into some other part of the house.
Nasir was in shock. He was too frightened that Agron would die, or break into a million pieces, if he took one step further, so he stayed in one spot, frozen to the floor. Somewhere inside he knew his fears were ridiculous, because Agron was the strongest person he had ever known, and he could withstand a little fever and a little shock, but still he could not move.
Agron stared at him, with his mouth open in shock.
"I'm sorry," Nasir finally said in a rush. "I should have never done... what I did."
Agron continued to stare, and still said nothing.
"I only want to be with you," Nasir admitted, secondarily. "I don't care about what other people think, or about other places I might live, or about other lives I could have... I just want to be with you."
Agron closed his mouth before he spoke. "You didn't run away?" he asked.
Nasir shook his head. "Why would I go without you?"
Agron smiled at him. "Come here, Nasir. I want to make sure you're really here."
Nasir relaxed, realizing only then all of his muscles were tensed. He crossed the room and climbed into the bed, into Agron's lap. Agron pulled a blanket over his shoulders even though Nasir was covered in dirt and Agron had laid there for days. They kissed, and Nasir apologized again against Agron's lips.
"If you want to go, I will go with you," Agron assured him for the second time. "I would go anywhere and do anything for you."
"No," Nasir told him. "I want to be here. I want to fight with Spartacus, and at your side. That is the most important thing, not admiration and respect. We are doing what is right."
After that, Nasir convinced Agron to sleep and try to recover. He promised to talk to Crixus in the morning and tell him not to force them all to move on while Agron was too ill to walk. "And if I cannot convince him," Nasir said, "I will just have to carry you."
Agron was too tired to laugh at the thought, but he smiled before he fell asleep.