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"Atlas"

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“Amos, what’s this?” Naomi asked, twisting her wrist so he could see the screen of her hand terminal. They were alone in the mess hall of the Canterbury, finishing a meal after a shift-and-a-half’s worth of repairs and maintenance. She’d been idly scrolling through the profiles from an escort company on Ceres, thinking she might want to plan something spicy for her next shore leave. But right now her screen held the image of a man that looked an awful lot like a younger version of Amos Burton, shirtless and holding a basketball.

Amos grunted in what might have been surprise. “That’s still up?” He leaned in closer. “Shit, that’s my profile! I can’t believe those lazy fuckers never took it down.” He grunted again, his eyes shifting without really focusing on anything. “Actually, I totally believe it. I wonder who they started sending out when people requested me.”

Naomi raised an eyebrow as she continued to scroll through the images on the profile for the man named “Atlas” who was actually her assistant. Her mouth started twisting up in amusement. The staged photographs were kind of ridiculous. “Do you always look so dramatic when you play basketball?” she teased.

Amos scowled. “Those were just some dumb promo photos they had me take.” He paused a moment, then added, “You know, ‘check out the sexy Earther, doing Earth stuff.’ I can't believe I kept a straight face.”

“Quite sexy,” Naomi choked out through a fit of giggles. She had just opened a series involving a striped sweater and distant, enigmatic looks out over the skyline of some Earth city.

“They added all those backgrounds later. This girl in marketing thought they’d help us get business from the Earther fetishists.”

“That’s a thing on Ceres?” Naomi asked, looking over at Amos. She supposed you couldn’t find a more stereotypically Earth-born body than his broad shoulders and powerful legs. Maybe only if he were a little shorter. She caught herself too late, realizing she had just looked him up and down like a piece of meat.

Amos didn’t act like he had noticed. “It’s a thing anywhere. Not that many Belters would confess to it.”

He had a point there. Naomi had returned to the profile, looking for something else to tease him about. He actually looked quite handsome in formalwear, his next outfit in the series. Naomi had only ever seen Amos in a jumpsuit, usually stained with sweat and grease. Occasionally stripped down to his undershirt when the temperature rose on a job. She scrolled past a set of half-naked photos quickly. It didn’t seem right to let her eyes linger on her coworker that way. Though when she glanced over at him, he had only a lightly amused look on his face, peering over her shoulder at the screen.

“Enjoying the trip down memory lane?” Naomi asked.

Amos shrugged. “I guess. That was a while ago. I almost forgot about it.”

Naomi raised an eyebrow. Not that she judged sex workers, but if she ever did something like that she imagined she’d at least remember it.

“It was an easy way to pay for engineering school, though,” Amos said, standing up to carry the remains of their meal to the recycler. “That shit’s expensive.”

The next header on the page was Testimonials. “There’s something to be said about hiring someone you know can hurt you,” read the first line. Apparently even as a young escort, Amos had already carried that air of barely-controlled violence around him. “This boy knows all the right buttons to push.” Naomi started to feel her face getting warm as her eyes ran over the words. “So polite, then so nasty.” “Earth’s finest ass.”

“What were you doing on the Ceres Escort network anyway?” Amos asked, stopping back at her table on his way to the door.

Naomi looked at him levelly over the top of her hand terminal. “Probably the usual reasons,” she said, mouth twisting into a self-conscious smile by the end of the sentence.

Amos’ face broke into a broad smile. “Of course. Guess you've got needs just like the rest of us. Just never thought of you that way, boss.” He gave a little salute as he headed out for his bunk.

Right back at you, Naomi thought as she watched him leave.