When Naveen came back from work an hour later, I could tell because Rami’s whole body stiffened. I caught the movement out of the corner of my eye as I went to the fridge for some honey for the drizzle, and I didn’t expect to see anything much when I turned to look fully at him, but there he was, looking shell-shocked and still.
“Rami?” I asked, but he didn’t need to answer because then I heard it: Naveen’s footsteps on the driveway. Rami’s eyes flickered in that direction, like he thought he could see through solid walls and keep an eye on Naveen that way.
I put down the honey pot. “I’m going to go, you take five,” I told him and walked out of the kitchen fast. I made it to the living room just in time to open the door on Naveen’s startled face.
“Hey, Devlin,” he greeted me cheerfully. He couldn’t have missed the black Peugeot 208 Rami drove parked outside, much less Rami’s scent all over me. He leaned in and kissed my cheek, but his eyes were already darting around me, and by the time he straightened his face had fallen.
“Take your shoes off and come have some of that lemonade you made,” I suggested. He nodded almost stoically, undid the laces and kicked them off, then grimaced and pulled his t-shirt over his head as well, exposing his tanned skin, still sweaty from being outside in the summer heat.
“Weather was crazy hot today,” he said by way of explanation, and I nodded.
“You don’t have to tell me,” I replied, walking back the way I had come. “I’ve spent the day getting kicked for it.”
Naveen laughed a little too loudly at that, as if he needed to let something out.
Rami was still in the kitchen when we walked in, standing up like he was facing a firing squad. I hesitated, not knowing if I wanted to go to his side, offer some mute comfort. In the end, Naveen was so eager he bumped right into me as he came through the doorway, and instinctively putting his arms around my waist to keep me from falling. I wasn’t freaked out by the touch, but I didn’t want to risk it so I stepped forward and went around the table to get back to the cooking area. I was happy to play mediator if they needed me to, but I didn’t want to get in the middle of something that had happened between them.
“You could give me a kiss hello,” I heard Rami said in his deep calm tones, except anybody with ears could have told his heart was going a mile a minute, no super-hearing required. Naveen must have known because he approached him slowly, with plenty of time for Rami to lean in and take hold of his hair to lead him into the promised kiss. I put the honey back down to watch them. They were acting like they hadn’t seen each other for months, not two weeks: kissing wet and hard and messy, like they couldn’t really get enough of a handle on themselves to go slow.
I could see Naveen’s tongue as he inelegantly licked at Rami’s lips, and then the flash of Rami’s teeth as he tilted Naveen’s chin up to suck on it; hands all over each other’s clothes and legs close enough together it was a marvel of physics they hadn’t lost their balance and ended up in a tangle on the floor. Not that they seemed like they would have minded: Rami, who I had thought would be shy, was clearly a second away from just pulling Naveen down to the kitchen floor and putting his mouth way south of his neck, where it was currently sucking a bruise that even super-healing was going to take a while to fix.
And then the oven timer went off and they almost did fall, Rami’s head missing Naveen’s chin by a hair’s breadth. They both turned to look in my direction, and that broke the spell. I turned and pressed the timer button, opening the oven in almost the same move.
“Damn,” I said when the wave of heat hit me, but not because it was hot – because I was hard and the hot air felt like a caress on my swollen cock. I hadn’t even noticed, and now that I had I suddenly didn’t know what to do. I knew what one did with inappropriate erections at dinner time, of course: will them away. But what about with the first hard-on you’d had in three and a half months? It was silly, maybe, but I was afraid if I let it go unnoticed, it would just go away again.
“Devlin?” Naveen asked behind me, coming to peer over my shoulder to see why I was staring into the open oven. “Did it get…?” And then he must have caught a whiff of more than the meat. “Oh,” he exhaled right into my neck, making me shiver from head to toes. “You’re hard.”
“Yes, I… I need to make the drizzle. You guys have the worst timing…”
Naveen laughed, and pushed the oven door closed. “The drizzle? Seriously? Who gives a fuck about the drizzle? Go on, you idiot,” he told me and gave me a light pat on the side to push me out of the kitchen.
When I turned I saw Rami watching us, his lips swollen and his eyes crinkled into a smile. “I’ll make the drizzle,” he promised.
I wasn’t sure Rami knew how, but I didn’t much care. I almost leaned in and gave him one of those soft pecks Naveen liked to greet me with, but in the end, I was too aroused to be sure I would be able to stop. I ran out of the kitchen, putting a hand to my dick as soon as I crossed the doorway to reassure it that more was on its way.
I thought of them as I lay down on my bedspread and pulled down my zipper. The way Naveen’s naked arms had looked encased in Rami’s big hands, and how his mouth had seemed to want to devour every last remnant of flavour from Rami’s mouth. Oh, I had missed it, the velvet covered hardness, and the zing of finding the right spot just where I knew it would be, like the double satisfaction of receiving the pleasure and knowing it was my skill and precision that could bring it out. When I came I wasn’t thinking of Rami or Naveen, or anybody else; I wasn’t thinking at all. Just feeling, just being.
If there had been any lingering awkwardness between them, it would have probably been resolved through their mutual joy at teasing me. Rami’s drizzle was more than decent and the ribs weren’t too dry. But everything on the table turned out to be an excuse to make double entendres and suggestive comments: starting with the bones, continuing with Naveen swallowing around half a rib he had put in his mouth the wrong way around, and ending with Rami getting drizzle all over Naveen’s hand and proceeding to lick him clean.
If I hadn’t been rolling my eyes so hard at them, I’d have probably got hard again from that little show alone. The way Naveen was squirming in his chair by the end, I knew he hadn’t been so lucky.
“What’s for dessert, Devlin?” Rami asked me with little pretence at innocence.
I rolled my eyes at him. “Something that will keep; I figured dinner might get disrupted somewhat.”
He smiled, a little smug, and I didn’t say anything, even though I had been counting it equally likely they would have a screaming match as a make out session. They had worked it out, clearly.
“So?” I asked them both. “Are we pretending I don’t know what you guys are going to be doing five minutes from now?”
“Watch much, do you?” Rami asked.
“Not enough,” I told him, feeling heat pool low in my belly, remembering the last time right there in the kitchen. Crying in the driveway seemed like a distant memory, even though it hadn’t even been eight hours since. “But I’m not going to watch tonight. Do you want to tell me what’s gonna happen?”
Naveen let out a little exhalation, and I turned to look at him. He was flushed and bright- eyed, chest a little red, fevered almost. I knew that look well: he was hard as rock, and leaking, too. And somehow, even though he was looking at me, he was keeping it from affecting me directly. He lifted his chin, showing me his neck without breaking our gaze. I inhaled and felt it hit me, my own cock going from half-mast to full hardness. Painful, almost, but so good as well. Relished, like a long awaited present.
“What I would give to watch you two,” Rami said softly, almost like it had slipped out.
I didn’t mind. I felt too good, too full of life and desire and unspent energy to feel threatened by something as simple as his honest appreciation.
I turned and looked at him. “But you have watched us.”
“Yes,” he admitted with a soft laugh, “but it isn’t a sight I’m getting tired of anytime soon, Devlin!”
Naveen must have tired of our digressions, because he pressed Rami to return to his original topic. “I thought you were going to tell Devlin about tonight.”
Rami leaned closer to him and whispered something in his ear that made Naveen shudder and his lashes flutter over his cheekbones like trapped birds. I wanted to know what he had said, but I didn’t ask – Rami had been careful enough to say it quietly enough not even my ears had been able to pick it up.
Rami let go of him and leaned back on his chair to watch us both with an air of satisfaction. “Well, first we will go to your bedroom, of course.”
“Mine?” Naveen asked in surprise. This confirmed my observation that they mostly slept in Rami’s, which was slightly larger and had a view of the lake. Now I wondered if that had also been the room where Rami had got on his knees for Naveen, or had it not been his knees? Had they looked into each other’s eyes while their bodies joined together? Had Naveen seen the play of pleasure and pain on Rami’s face as he penetrated him? I wondered if there would be any time when I could ask, or if it would always be an unacknowledged truth between us all.
Rami met his eyes to answer him. “Yes, yours. I want your smell all around me.”
That startled me out of my fantasy because it wasn’t just Naveen’s smell that he would find on his bed, but mine. After the first cuddling session, I had taken to napping with him after work almost every day. He’d know that’s all that had happened, of course, but it still somehow made me feel strange that he wouldn’t know till he walked into Naveen’s bedroom and it hit him right in the nose. Naveen whimpered, turning his face from Rami and, incidentally, towards me, and I was on my feet, leaning over the table and forcing his chin up to put my lips on his, too desperate for finesse. I slipped my tongue into his mouth and he sucked on it, then licked at my own lips till I granted him entrance. I had a hand on his collar, but he wasn’t touching me at all. I put my other hand on his elbow, intending to hold his hand down. But his elbow was bent out of my reach, behind his own body. I pulled back, confused, and found that Rami, standing behind him, was holding both his forearms somehow.
I met his eyes over Naveen’s shoulder, warring anger and gratitude making me mute. Naveen took the chance and rubbed his slightly stubbled cheek against mine, then went on and sucked on my earlobe, sending such a rush of pleasure through my nerve endings that alone might explain their existence. I wanted to get the table out of the way, to press myself against Naveen’s body, push my thigh between his and thrust till I came. A rush of white that would mean peace and freedom all in one.
I stepped back, feeling only slightly steadier than I had after Rami had hugged me, even if I was completely in control now. Naveen whimpered pitifully at being deprived of a part of me to put his mouth on, and when I looked back he was panting, still held in Rami’s arms, now set across his shoulders like a yoke instead of just keeping his arms back. His cheeks were almost as red as the glimpse of this tongue I caught every time he exhaled, and his eyes were focused on me like lasers, black as midnight and bright as stars.
“I have to go now,” I explained, nervously licking my lips. I looked down his body, where I could see he had actually got his trousers a little wet with precome, and shook my head to dispel the hypnotic effect he had on me. “I don’t…”
“Go,” he rasped out. “Just… think of us?”
I nodded, and they must have taken it as permission, or maybe they just couldn’t wait because before I could move, Rami’s hands left Naveen’s upper body and popped open the button on his black trousers. The sound Naveen made at that scared me almost as much as it excited me; broken and thready and desperately needy. I took a reluctant step towards the door, and then another, till I was outside the kitchen. I had to lean back on the wall to be able to remain standing while Rami’s throat clicked impossibly loudly, and Naveen’s little sigh of relief filled me with a liquid heat that made my limbs feel heavy as rocks. My cock throbbed seemingly in sync with the slick sounds from inside.
I closed my eyes to better watch them in my mind, and pushed down my trousers, baggy sport gym gear I hated but that fit around the new roundness of my belly. For a moment, the feel of my belly against my forearm broke me out of the haze of lust I had been lost in, but then I felt the wall shake behind me with the force of a body slamming against it. If that hadn’t been enough, Naveen’s responding growl would have set my mind back on track on its own. I took hold of my cock and felt it pulsate in response to my own touch. I slid my fingers down and pushed my thumb around my foreskin, slick and soft as sin. No wonder so many people had kept doing this despite being told it was wrong: there was no arguing with the body, it knew what was true so clearly, so unarguably that there was no way our jumbled, half made-up beliefs about the world could compete.
I pulled up, keeping my grip loose and teasing, and keeping my arse pressed against the wall, still vibrating with the press of their bodies against the other side. A wall I could have broken with my bare fists if I had liked; a wall so thin as to be almost imaginary, almost virtual. I was there with them, I thought, and my fingers curled closer involuntarily, thinking of Rami’s thick shaft, of how sucking on it had left me truly breathless for the first time I could remember. Wasn’t it true that when you thought of someone, you brought forth in your mind all your experience of them? And they were thinking of me, too – I knew it, deep like instinct, unquestioningly. I wondered if they knew I was on the other side of the wall. I thought Naveen might have been too distracted for it, but Rami... Rami always noticed everything. I pulled harder on my cock. I was slick already and so ready I could have fucked someone bare with no trouble. The image of the long line of Rami’s back and arse leaning over Naveen’s body flashed in my mind and my hips snapped into my own fist, too shaken for finesse. I did it again, thinking of putting my hands on his hips, of pressing my cock between his perfect, round, arse cheeks and of the sound of his elaborate breathing as he remembered the feeling of it, half aroused, half embarrassed.
I felt like I could barely remember the feeling of a man’s body yielding to mine, slick and hot and desperately tight around my cock as I tried to keep from coming too fast. I clenched my fist almost painfully against my cock, and started coming. Eyes shut against the light inside my own head, hand moving fast over my still sensitive cock. I opened my eyes and looked down at my hand. There was very little there, of course – some part of me was producing something akin to semen but without any sperm… the quantity was closer to what I would have got on my shorts after having to remain hard without touching myself for a while than anything I had ever produced when orgasming. I looked up at the ceiling, wiping my hand on my shirt before settling it against the wall again. One advantage, I thought, no more mess when jacking off.
Naveen and Rami were reconciled but tentative in a way that left me feeling I could speak up more. Two weeks alone had completely changed my relationship with Naveen and I felt confident I could touch him any time I wanted, put my arms around his waist, or lean against his side, and he would soak it up without asking for a millimetre more than I was offering.
It gave me hope: if I could do it with Naveen, I could do it with Rami. Rami had registered for college in autumn, and was now going through all the instructive videos on modern construction ever uploaded to the internet. He sat in either the living room or in the kitchen since his bedroom didn’t have a desk, just a low table where his clean laundry kept getting piled up higher and higher by Naveen, till Naveen himself ran out of patience and shoved it into drawers at random.
I kept working in my room, door mostly closed, where I could listen to music in other languages that kept me from picking up random noises around the house and getting distracted by them. For some reason, maybe money, only the bedrooms were soundproofed. But when I got up for tea or a toilet break, both activities now closely linked, Rami would be there. So I offered him a cuppa, or a sandwich, and we sat drinking together for a few minutes. It was harder to engage him than Naveen, because he seemed to regard talking as both too revealing and unnecessary. But there was one thing I knew he would want to talk about – something I wanted to know, too.
“What was it like with Naveen before I came back?” I asked him, and took a bite of my sandwich.
Rami swallowed his first bite and his expression turned wistful as he started, “We were living together in your mother’s house for three months, and I think it took Naveen about two weeks to figure out I was interested in men in general and not just Omegas. Then he kissed me, just leaned over after your dad and your brother went in after this barbecue we had in the back garden.” He shook his head, “He shocked the hell out of me, but I kissed him back straight away. I knew Alphas had arrangements with each other, the same way Jeremy and I had, but I wasn’t even thinking about that. We got on, and he was fit and he kissed me, and that was about it.”
“Jeremy is your step-cousin, the human?” I checked.
Rami grimaced. “Jeremy isn’t my cousin, Devlin!”
“Sorry, sorry. I didn’t meant to imply anything weird,” I said, laughing at his outraged expression. “Go on, what happened then?”
“Well…” Rami stirred his tea for no practical reason I could see. “With Naveen it was different from the beginning, or almost.” He took a long drink, then paused and took another sip. If he had been human it would have been a good time to offer some liquid courage, but to get a werewolf of Rami’s size to relax that way would take a whole bottle of top shelf spirits. The cup clinked against the saucer when he finally put it down. “I knew I was in too deep, that he was an Alpha, too, and it should be just… sex, helping each other out… fun.” He said this last word as if he thought it meant the opposite.
“Is that why you didn’t say anything to me about it till you had to?”
“I don’t know, I guess so. It wasn’t supposed to be anything important enough to tell anybody. It was casual, it was… a ‘thing’ we did, not something… not something we were.”
His tone alerted me that I might have been wrong about their perfectly smooth reconciliation. “What about now?”
“Now…” He sighed. “Naveen asked me if I was serious about him and I said yes, but I’m not sure how important the…” He swallowed, seemingly unable to complete the sentence.
“The fucking,” I guessed, and he nodded.
“I’m not sure how important it is,” he repeated. “And I don’t know if I want to do it again.”
“You told me you were okay with never having any type of sex with me again,” I reminded him.
He looked startled, but nodded. “I am.”
“Is that because what you have with Naveen is enough?”
Naveen would have denied it immediately, but Rami paused, then explained, “Part of it is, yes, because I know I couldn’t go without for… for that long. But if he wasn’t here, if it was just you and me… I would find another way. I wouldn’t want to lose you over it. You are too important to me.”
I nodded, a bit shaken at the extent of his devotion. I didn’t know if I could have stayed with a guy who couldn’t sleep with me. I had always thought maybe Jiang might have dated me longer if I had let him top sometimes, and now that it wasn’t simply a particular sex act but all of them that were off the table… I couldn’t help but feel like I was somehow less than a catch.
But it wasn’t all about me; I hadn’t asked for my own satisfaction. “But you can’t believe Naveen would do the same for you? Not even the same – just give up on one type of sex because you don’t like it…”
“But I did,” Rami interrupted, sounding upset. “If I hadn’t liked it, Naveen would never mention it again. I know that. But I liked it, a lot, and he knows, so…”
“If you liked it, why do you think you don’t want to do it again?” I interrupted. It was what Naveen would ask, I thought, or want to, anyway.
Rami shook his head, looking like an animal in a trap, desperately searching for an exit. “I… It was – it was too much.”
“Why was it too much?” I pressed. Maybe it wasn’t very tactful, but Rami could get up and walk away any time he liked.
“It’s stupid, but…” He trailed off.
“I thought it was good,” I said.
“It felt almost like my first time. I mean, it was but… not the physical part, but the rest, that moment when you look at someone and you understand there’s no hiding anything… that they know what you look like when your body stops listening to you, when you need it so much you just can’t… that they have felt your sweat and put their hands and mouth all over you, even the parts that you think maybe nobody should touch.”
I nodded, offering, “And you keep wondering if you are doing something wrong because it seems like you are suddenly in the spotlight, and he’s not going to miss a single mistake.”
“Yes,” Rami said, too fiercely, eyes bright and teeth set like he was holding back even more than he was letting me see. “Does it get better?” He asked, suddenly looking so young. “With someone who… who wants to stay?”
“Yes,” I said, remembering, body and soul, a journey that needed no steps and that was truer than anything reality could provide. I remembered what I had felt getting in bed with Dan after a long day. “You forget to be worried, because, after all, he is ridiculous too, sometimes, and you haven’t left. And it gets normal, it’s crazy to think now that something that intense can be normal, but it is. It becomes the one thing you know will lift your spirits, or comfort you, just let you stop thinking about all the things that worry you…”
Rami was staring at me, lips parted, looking stricken. “That’s what we took away from you,” he said very quietly.
“I forgive you,” I said. For the first time I could admit out loud that he had wronged me – for the first time I could let myself be angry with him for his part on this. And then, for the first time, I was able to let it go. Because that’s what you do when you are alive: you let go, you accept you fucked up and you got another chance because you are still around to be sorry for it. And you forgive yourself – you let the pain slip through your fingers instead of clutching it close, like it can somehow bring you back to the point where you messed up… and then you heal. You are never the same again, but you put something else where that thing you lost used to be, you patch yourself up and you move on.
And if you forgive yourself, which is harder than forgiving anybody else, then forgiving other people becomes possible. Because you understand that making a mistake is not the same thing as being a bad person, even if it’s a terrible mistake; even if the consequences are disastrous. If they are sorry, if they say it and you can believe they mean it, you give them another chance as well.