If you asked him, Holden wouldn’t say that he and Amos were having sex. He’d argue that the present participle having implies a pattern, an ongoing and regular thing, like some kind of relationship, which was absolutely not what was happening. They had sex, sure, in sporadic intervals, when one or both of them needed to blow of a little steam. It was an arrangement, if anything. Less than that, even. It was just a couple of happenstances strung together at random, like natural disasters— unplanned, unpredictable, and more often than not, violent. In Holden’s world, people who are having sex kiss each other on the lips, sleep in each other’s beds, maybe even make each other breakfast after. People who are having sex don’t pretend it never happened as soon as it’s over. They don’t rinse the memory away in the shower, watch it pool around the drain until it swirls into the recycler and turns into the water they drink.
“Ew, dude,” Amos said as Holden told him this, choosing that detail of all things to complain about. “Rule number one of life on a spaceship: don’t talk about where the water comes from. That’s, like, Spaceship Etiquette 101.” Holden put his cock back in Amos’s mouth, and the big man took it willingly, despite his performative eye-roll.
“You’ll guzzle my come like you’re starving for it, but you draw the line at drinking sterilized bathwater, like everyone else in outer space,” Holden accused, a statement more than a question, as he bucked his hips with crescendoing harshness that silenced any defense. Amos just shrugged with his hands and took Holden deeper, suppressing his gag reflex expertly as he brought Holden closer to orgasm. He welcomed the roughness. He’d get Holden back for it later, and they’d both enjoy it even as they pretended not to. He tugged on Holden’s balls, a little rougher than would be pleasant.
“Okay, old man,” said Amos when his jaw got tired, flicking the space between Holden’s balls and asshole. Holden flinched, and forced his way back into Amos’s mouth, the head of his cock brushing against the back of his throat before he pulled it straight back out. “Hurry it up before I start using teeth, I got shit to do.”
“You pulled your boss into the machine shop in the middle of the day to suck cock when you’ve got work to do?” Holden asked as he slapped Amos’s face with his length, leaving splatters of precome in his sideburns and beard. Amos didn’t appear to mind.
“You put your dick down your mechanic’s throat in the middle of the workday and you got complaints about my productivity?”
“Didn’t think so, boss,” Amos mocked. Holden was hardly his boss on the job, preferring to regard everyone as a co-owner, let alone in bed. They were equals, or at the very least, they took turns being in charge. Amos would not be on his knees if Holden hadn’t been in the same place just a few minutes earlier. But it was Holden’s turn, so he took control, lacing his fingers in the hair at the nape of Amos’s neck and pulled him back down, using Amos’s stoic face like it was nothing but an instrument for his own pleasure, until his come spilled from the corners of those plush lips.
He came down from the high of orgasm with a smirk on his lips, until Amos spat the load in his face. His smirk made the instant transition to a grimace.
“What the fuck, dude?!” Holden complained, wiping the back of his palm over his lips and chin to scrub himself of the evidence as he stood.
“You look better covered in come,” offered Amos by way of explanation, with an unapologetic shrug of his shoulders.
“Yeah? You look better with your face in a pillow and a cock in your ass,” Holden rebutted.
“Yeah, right,” Amos laughed, a rough sound with no real amusement behind it. “When’s the last time you fucked me in a bed?”
“What, you wanna cuddle after, princess?” Holden tucked himself away and zipped his coveralls, and it was like the TV channel changed from a porno to a sit-com.
“Nah, you smell bad enough this close,” Amos jeered. Holden flipped him off, and Amos returned the jab with a wet willy. The childish back-and-forth diverged into even-more-childish wrestling, until the two were all sprawled limbs and panting breaths, and not in a sexy way.
“Okay, uncle, uncle. Get back to work,” said Holden. Amos licked a stripe up his neck and jaw like a dog before letting him up, and Holden left to shower as Amos continued the neglected repair.
★ ★ ★
They weren’t having sex, insisted Holden to himself as the water crashed over his shoulders and trickled down his back and legs, hot enough to scald his pale skin pink. If they were having sex, Holden wouldn’t have to imagine what Amos looked like completely naked under him, instead of half-clothed and bent over the furniture, or fully-dressed save for an unzipped fly. If they were having sex, Holden wouldn’t have to imagine what Amos’s skin felt like pressed fully against his own, two sweaty bodies moving together like they belonged, instead of one using the other like a fleshlight, then returning the favor. If they were having sex, Holden wouldn’t be massaging the soapy pads of his fingertips along his own rim, wondering what Amos’s breath felt like ghosting against his hole, taking his time prepping him on his tongue and fingers until he was ready and begging to be filled.
But they weren’t having sex. Instead, whenever Amos decided there was room in his schedule to fool around, Holden got two calloused fingers lubed hastily and stuffed inside him, a hand clapped over his mouth to muffle his moans, and a half-assed ‘you ready?’ before a fat cockhead pressed him open.
Holden had no right to complain. He liked the way Amos treated him, like a tissue to be disposed of after a single use. Besides, Holden treated Amos the same way. Such was their arrangement— two people borrowing each other, getting off, and then pretending nothing happened. And if, when it was over, Holden made a habit of standing under the hot spray of the shower imagining what it could be like if they gave each other just a little bit more, then Amos didn’t have to know that.
★ ★ ★
A wolf-whistle, sounding muffled through the speaker of a comm, signaled to Holden as he entered his quarters that Naomi was on a video call. He tightened the towel around his waist and rolled his eyes, with nothing but love.
“Hi, Camina,” he greeted. The tiny picture smiled at him, a cocksure press of lips with a raised eyebrow that gave the Belter an air of dominance.
“How go my favorite cuckold?” she said instead of a greeting. Naomi giggled.
“We’ve been through this, Drummer,” said Holden. “I’m only a cuckold if you let me watch.” Drummer’s smile brightened as she shook her head.
“What that make you then, Jimmy? Third wheel, ke?” He groaned at the nickname, a name only his parents called him, but the way she said it was secretly growing on him. He hadn’t loved hearing the familial nickname from someone who wasn’t family. But it was becoming clear, as time passed and they got closer, that Drummer was family. He could allow it.
“I prefer ‘adoring boyfriend who wants the love of his life to have everything she needs and more,’” he said, looking at Naomi and not the screen. She smiled. It wasn’t lip-service. He was happy to share Naomi, and felt no jealousy about the relationship between Drummer and Naomi, even though it didn’t include him. He loved Camina, though there was nothing romantic or sexual about that love. Holden didn’t like to call himself a ‘sister-wife,’ but the shoe fit.
“Cute, tumang,” Drummer pulled his attention back to the hand terminal. “It have nothing to do with little crush on big cock Hulk man?” Holden looked at Naomi, who shrugged innocently with her hands.
“I don’t have a crush on Amos,” Holden insisted.
“But im know who I mean, keya?” she insinuated to Naomi, who was smiling the way she always did when her two loves bickered fondly, like her heart was too big for her chest. Naomi’s love was so strong it could be stretched and contorted without bending or breaking, shared between two lovers but never muddled. Naomi loved Holden and Drummer, separately and together, equally and differently. Sometimes, times like this, Holden wanted to love Amos like that. But Amos could never want that, so Holden could never say he did.
“I don’t have a crush on… big cock Hulk man,” Holden said, not knowing if he was trying to convince Drummer, Naomi, or himself.
“Mi pochuye, Jimmy,” said Drummer, knowingly. I understand, Holden translated with his minimal knowledge of Belter. “What’s the word, Nagata? Denial?” she asked, knowing the word full well. She always dumbed it down for Holden, and he suspected it was more to make fun of him than to help him understand what she was trying to say. When it was just her and Naomi, they spoke Belter lightning fast.
“Go easy on him, darling,” Naomi warned, “Amos is not an easy man to fall in love with.”
“I’m not in love with…” Holden started, and then decided there was no point in arguing. He kneeled on the bed, then fell flat onto Naomi’s pillow.
“Poor Jimmy,” Drummer said.
“Yeah,” Holden agreed, lying prone, inhaling the sweet smell of Naomi on her pillowcase. “Poor Jimmy.”
“Aw,” she cooed, only partially sarcastic. “How ‘bout Nagata show you titties, make feel better, ke?”
“You just want to see my tits,” Naomi accused, pretending to be scandalized even as she gave an amused smile.
“Always, setara mali mi.” My love, or something like it. Maybe darling. “But this for the poyawala.” That, he couldn’t translate. He recognized the suffix ‘-wala’ from some derogatory terms he knew, but didn’t know the direct translation. It didn’t sound like a nice word, but he knew it was meant gently. Drummer liked to tease him, like an older sister, though he believed her to be younger than him. An older-younger sister-friend who was fucking his girlfriend. There wasn’t really a word for it. Maybe she knew one in Belter.
“Please don’t call my boyfriend ‘the cocklover,’” said Naomi, though she was smiling. Holden laughed into the pillow as he learned the meaning of the word.
“Im love cock, no?” Drummer defended. She wasn’t wrong.
“He doesn’t call you conyowala.”
“Is ‘conyo,’ pussy?” Holden picked his head up to ask.
“Yes, Jimmy. Pussy.”
“Can’t I be conyowala, too?”
“How ‘bout owala?” Drummer suggested, delivering the insult with a smirk, but without ill-intent.
“That’s like fucker, right?”
“Literally it’s more like ‘hole lover,’” said Naomi. Also not wrong, technically, but not exactly a pretty thing to be called. Suitable, however, for his fluid sexual tendencies.
“Inya-baby need lessons,” Drummer said like a scold in Holden’s direction.
“What, Belter Curses 101?” he questioned.
“Ya, dzhemang.” He knew the suffix ‘-mang’ meant something like ‘man,’ but ‘dzhe’ could be anything.
“What does that mean?” Holden asked.
“You find out,” she said cheekily. “Mi gonya go. Oyedeng, poyawala,” Goodbye, cocklover. “Mi du amolof to, Nagata.” I love you. When she hung up, Holden looked at Naomi for the answer.
“Dzhemang kind of means ‘dick.’
“Literally, it’s like, man with a crooked penis? But no one uses it like that. It’s just another insult like pashangwala or owala. Got a lotta ways to say ‘fucker,’ us.”
“She meant it lovingly, though. Likes you.”
“Has a funny way of showing it.”
“Kind of like you and Amos?” She wasn’t wrong, but Holden didn’t want to think about it anymore.
“I don’t want to talk about Amos.”
“Okay, poyawala,” she teased playfully, crawling into their bed and curling up next to him.
“Nah, what’s Belter for ‘Naomi-lover’?”
“Cheesy, Inya-baby,” she said, kissing him on the cheek.
“Fine, fine. What’s Belter for ‘kiss me’?”
“Tu wanya beshang wit mi, ke?”
“Ya,” Naomi confirmed.
“Tu wanya…” She kissed him.
Holden stopped thinking about Amos. For a little while.