The boarder

by Mikeytron

Atticus’s family has decided to rent the spare bedroom in their house. The new boarder turns out to be the sexiest hunk Atticus has ever seen. His life is about to change in a big way. A slow-boil coming-of-age muscle-growth romance set in the My Best Friend’s Muscles universe.

My Best Friend’s Muscles, #2 18 parts 86k words (#31) Added Feb 2023 Updated 24 Jun 2023 52k views (#109) 4.9 stars (141 votes)

Part 1 Atticus’s family has decided to rent the spare bedroom in their house. The new boarder turns out to be the sexiest hunk Atticus has ever seen. His life is about to change in a big way. A slow-boil coming-of-age muscle-growth romance set in the My Best Friend’s Muscles universe. (added: 25 Feb 2023)
Part 2 The new boarder is a muscular hunk beyond Atticus’s dreams, but there’s something mysterious about him that Atticus can’t quite figure out.  (added: 4 Mar 2023)
Part 3 Evan does Atticus a favour, then asks Atticus for a favour in return, revealing a few secrets along the way. Atticus’s sister is due to come home for Christmas, which poses a problem for the new boarder, one with an unexpected solution.  (added: 11 Mar 2023)
Part 4 Christmas arrives, and Atticus and Evan have to share a room for two weeks. Atticus asks an important question, and seems to be rejected, but anything can happen at Christmas. (added: 18 Mar 2023)
Part 5 Atticus snoops and makes a discovery about Evan, but then feels bad about it. Evan is coerced into joining the family at church. The two guys continue to get closer as Evan begins training Atticus at the gym. And Mutant Juice, the miracle muscle growth serum from My Best Friend’s Muscles, makes its first appearance. (added: 25 Mar 2023)
Part 6 Atticus and Evan finally share a night of passion. Emily returns to college. The boys try to navigate a blossoming relationship in the closet in a conservative small town. Evan’s deception is almost discovered. Atticus starts growing, and people are beginning to notice. (added: 1 Apr 2023)
Part 7 Finding clothes that fit is starting to be an issue. Atticus has trouble at work. Evan reveals something important. The boys celebrate Valentine’s Day. (added: 8 Apr 2023)
Part 8 Atticus and Evan plan their trip. Atticus’s muscle growth exceeds expectations. There are hints at a darker side to Mutant Juice, the miracle muscle growth serum Evan’s been using, which Atticus will be starting on soon. There’s a close call with disaster at home. (added: 22 Apr 2023)
Part 9 Evan endures an outing with Atticus’s dad and his homophobic good ol’ boy friends, with a dramatic and emotional aftermath. The boys escape to the city. (added: 6 May 2023)
Part 10 The worlds of “The Boarder” and “My Best Friend’s Muscles” collide as Evan and Atticus attend a bodybuilding expo and meet the Mutant Juice crew. Atticus gets his first dose, but of course there are complications. (added: 13 May 2023)
Part 11 Atticus endures a drug-induced delirious feeding frenzy as the Mutant Juice takes hold of him, preparing him for massive muscle growth to come. Comfort and help arrive from an unexpected source. Atticus begins to reckon with the repercussions this will have for his future. (added: 27 May 2023)
Part 12 Rob serves Atticus some tough truths about what his future holds, while Atticus continues his rapid growth, and Emily meets the new and improved version of her brother.  (added: 3 Jun 2023)
Part 13 Atticus experiences multiple sexual firsts. He and Evan return home, and the thin ice finally breaks.
Part 14 The conclusion of Atticus and Evan’s story. Dark forces threaten everything, and things get very desperate, but there is a happy (and sexy) ending. (added: 24 Jun 2023)
Part 15
Part 16
Part 17
Epilogue: One Year Later
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Part 1

I didn’t even know my parents were going to let my older sister’s empty bedroom. They told me the same late summer morning the new boarder was due to arrive, like they were telling me a package was going to be delivered, keep your ears open for the doorbell. That was typical of them. They were an odd blend of absent yet overbearing. That made my teen years in the closet a minefield to navigate, let me tell you. I’d think they didn’t care, that they’re not taking notice of what I do, the movies and TV I watch, the music I listen to, the clothes I wear. But then, without warning, they’d decide the video game I’d been playing is a bad influence, or Satanic, or whatever, oh and by the way you’re getting a haircut this weekend, mister, it’s getting too long, you’re starting to look like a girl. This hot and cold style of parenting meant, by age 19, I’d learned never to relax, to guard myself at all times. Never, ever trust anyone or anything that seems safe.

Anyway. My sister’s bedroom had sat empty for two years now, since she escaped to attend college several states away. I think our family bucked the trend of most evangelicals, who lock down their daughters hard but look the other way a little bit for their sons. Boys will be boys, but girls will be sluts and whores, that kind of thing– but that wasn’t our parents. Lucky for her, less lucky for me, I guess. I was the boy, the scion of the family line, and so it mattered more that I grew up proper. She could go off to a liberal arts school and study psychology. I was expected to stick close to home, choose a parent-approved career, walk a narrow path through life.

I graduated high school three months ago, and should have been starting college any day now, but I asked to work for a year first, to save money for tuition and get some experience, and that was deemed acceptable. I had vague notions of saving up money until I had enough to just… disappear without warning, some day. But, deep down, I knew myself better than that. I didn’t have the guts to cut and run. My family had their loving talons deep in me. I wasn’t going anywhere.

Anyway. I was telling you about the boarder.

“Why are we renting out Emily’s room? Are we having money trouble?”

Mom smiled at me as if my question was cute. “No, Ty honey, this is a favour for an old friend. You remember our trip to the west coast, right?”

Geez, mom, that was eleven years ago, I was a kid back then. “Of course,” I half-lied. I remembered bits of it. The redwood trees, mostly. They were too impressive to forget. Some early and unexpected stirring of my later obsession with size and growth, I guess. I didn’t find the redwoods hot, I’m not like a tree-fucker or whatever, but something about them did strike me deep. Although I’d be lying if I said I’d never fantasized about an erection the size of a redwood tree… veiny, thick as a house, straining for the sky, pulsing bigger and bigger… Ahem. I’m off-track again.

“We’re taking in my friend Barbara’s son Evan. You remember, you met him when we ducked into San Jose to visit? He’s starting at the college next week, and he’ll be staying here with us while he attends class. Save his family some money. Not that Barb needs it. You remember their house, right?”

Vague memories of another boy, about my age, chubby, awkward, focusing on his video game while our mothers gabbed in the kitchen upstairs. Us in the basement, light dim, air just slightly stale, his mouth hanging open as he played, blue light reflecting on his glasses, me sitting on the couch behind him, wondering if I’d get a turn, wondering if it would be rude for me to get up and go pee or if I had to ask first or something. We probably spoke about fifteen words to each other in the two hours we spent down there.

“Yeah, sure I remember him.” In a weird way, this set me at ease. Evan was a social non-entity. I wasn’t cool, I wasn’t sexy, I didn’t really matter much, but at least I was a couple of rungs up the ladder from an utter loser like him. He’d probably isolate himself in my sister’s bedroom most of the time. I was afraid a boarder would upset the equilibrium of my life. Evan, though? He’d be easy to ignore. Almost no different than an empty room.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

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Evan’s beat-up old Toyota Corolla was in hard shape; I could hear it rattle as it pulled into our driveway. I popped up out of my chair and stepped outside just in time to hear the ignition cut and see a dark-haired young man hop out.

My breath caught and my blood rushed south. He was… stunning.

Thick biceps with prominent cephalic veins popped out of the short sleeves of his tight black t-shirt. His shoulders were almost awkwardly wide, with rounded deltoids. His handsome, chiselled face was supported on a thick column of neck. His jeans hugged his muscled thighs, and as he turned to open the trunk and pull out his bags, I was treated to a round, bulging muscle-butt that tested the seams of the denim.

I was rock-hard in a second. This guy was a hunk. Was this Evan? Dorky, fat, asthmatic Evan?!

“Evan!” my mother called, dance-running out into the driveway in that way some flamboyant older women have. “You made it! I was praying for you on those roads, honey,” she said, throwing her arms around his broad torso, nestling her head on the thick pillow of his pecs. His strong chin slightly dented the blonde hair on her head, and he grinned over her at me, wide mouth curving, eyes bright. Fuck. He looked like trouble.

I swallowed, hard. My mouth was dry.

“Thanks, Mrs. Williams,” he said. Fuck me, even his voice was too much, deep but warm. What happened to the mouth-breather in the basement ten years ago? Did he get to go through puberty two or three times, unlike us mortals who only get one crack at it? The 19-year-old standing in our driveway simply oozed testosterone.

Eventually my mother released him. She looked a little flushed, taking a moment to smooth out her clothes. Ha. “Hey, Atticus, good to see you again,” he said, stepping forward, offering me a hand to shake. Lord, my palm must be slimy with sweat, but what could I do? I took it.

“Hi Evan,” I managed, my voice sounding croaky and wrong in my own ears.

“Let me show you upstairs to your room,” my mother sang, waltzing into the house. Evan followed. I stayed outside, rooted to the spot, my dick so hard it hurt, watching his big muscle butt flex and bounce with each step he took as he walked away from me, into the house.

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I don’t know how I made it through the rest of the day. Evan spent a lot of time in Emily’s old room, unpacking, although I noted he hadn’t brought very much, a single medium-sized suitcase. When I peeked through the open door later, when he wasn’t around, the room looked almost the same, like a teen girl’s bedroom. Already the scent of him was starting to sink into the space, though. Standing in the open doorway, I inhaled deep. God damn.

I was mostly ignored during dinner, which suited me fine. Mom and Dad quizzed Evan, who seemed more than happy to talk. He was confident, had an easy manner, was good at telling little stories. He was studying Sports Medicine. He’d taken a year off after high school to backpack in Europe. He told a couple of stories about a hostel in Barcelona. My parents hung on his every word. My mother refilled his plate without even asking him. Boy, he could pack away the food.

I couldn’t help but wonder if this was how they wished their son would be– strong, masculine, athletic, confident, likeable… all the things I wasn’t.

Whatever. If Evan took some of their scrutiny off me, that was all the better. I guess.

It wasn’t long after dinner was finished when Evan was yawning. My eyes nearly fell out of my head, seeing the thick cords of his neck bulge as his jaw strained open, the ropes of his bicep bunching and swelling and flexing as he tried to stifle the big, full-body paroxysm. I quickly regained control of myself, stopped staring, looked at the microwave clock, the notes pinned to the fridge with magnets, etc., etc., etc.

“Oh, my dear, we’re keeping you up with our gabbing, after you’ve been driving all day! Why don’t you treat yourself to a nice bath and then relax in your room a little bit? There’ll be plenty of time to get to know you better once you settle in.”

Evan made some token resistance to this suggestion, but really, I could tell the big man– big man? he’s 19!– was exhausted. He excused himself, pushing back from the table. Even with multiple servings of a big home-cooked meal in his belly, his waist was eye-poppingly narrow, making an extreme contrast with his ultra-wide shoulders and pecs and his big muscle butt and thick thighs. I could practically hear his jeans creak with the strain as he stood and began climbing the stairs, the weight of him audibly compressing the old wood with each step. Our entire house seemed barely able to contain him.

I waited an appropriate amount of time and then headed upstairs myself. I could hear the water running in the bathtub. I looked at the closed bathroom door, imagined Evan taking off his clothes on the other side… no, too much. I hurried into my bedroom, yanking down my pants even as the bedroom door closed behind me, my hard cock weeping after the afternoon of erotic frustration it had endured.

It took me less than a minute before I was spewing all over my hand and my skinnyfat belly.

Holy fuck. I wasn’t going to last to Thanksgiving, at this rate. Fuck, I’d be reduced to a gibbering puddle before Halloween. How am I going to cope with this?

I intended to play some video games to take my mind off of it, but I must have dozed off pretty much right away. I woke up hours later, still in my clothes but with my cock and balls still out, crusty with dried cum, my mouth dry, my head aching just a little.

Fuck. I looked at my phone. It was a little after 1 in the morning. Groaning, I began to get up, intending to take a quick shower, brush my teeth, and climb into bed properly.

Then I froze. I was hearing something. A distinct rhythmic sound. I closed my eyes and listened closer.

A gentle thud-thud-thud. A quiet schlick-schlick-schlick. Quick halting little breaths. Stifled little moans. From the other side of the wall my bed was pushed against. Inches away from my head

Years of cohabitating with my older sister, having her complain about my loud video games, me complaining about her blasting her music. The walls between our rooms were paper thin. Mom and Dad refused to pick a side– just learn to live with it, they said. Buy some headphones. Try to limit the amount of noise you make. Because whatever happens in one room, you can hear clear as day in the other.

Obviously no one had told Evan about that.

And here he was, jacking himself off. I imagined his strong hands running up his cobbled abs. (I hadn’t seen him shirtless, but I had no doubt that’s what was hiding under that tight black t-shirt.) Tweaking his nipples as he flexed his hard bulging chest. His hips bucking, that thick bubble butt flexing, as he…

Fuck,” a warm, deep male voice whispered on the other side of the wall. He made a tiny wordless whimper, and the rhythmic sounds stopped. He stopped breathing for a few seconds. Then he started breathing again, panting, sounding relieved, the race over. Evan victorious.

I lay on my bed, just a couple feet and one thin wall away from this.

Day One, I thought to myself. Just another eight or nine months of this. I couldn’t tell if I was anxious about how I’d last that long, or if I was unhappy that it wasn’t longer.

 

Part 2

My sister’s old bedroom may not have changed much, but the kitchen sure did. Evan ate heaping platefuls of my mother’s cooking for every supper, but other meals he took care of himself. Oatmeal, eggs, and ground turkey in the morning. Multiple Tupperware containers of chicken, rice, and broccoli in his gym bag as he left for class, returning empty in the late afternoon or early evening. Giant tubs of protein powder crowding up the counter by the toaster and the blender, with smaller canisters of preworkout and a small collection of shaker cups like orbiting moons.

It wasn’t hard to tell a bodybuilder lived here, now.

And as the weeks went by, Evan’s stunning musculature showed the results of this dedication. He seemed subtly bigger by the week. I expected my parents would be oblivious—although the way my mother sometimes looked at him, maybe not?—but how could I fail to notice his big arms getting ever so slightly bigger, his big ass sticking out just a tiny bit more, his wide shoulders just a fraction of an inch closer to wedging him in the doorframe every time he entered or exited a room?

I was right about one thing, though: Evan did spend most of his time in Emily’s room. His room now, I guess. Or rather, he spent most of the day at school, and then, after the evening meal, he retired to his room to study. How often I looked at the closed bedroom door and speculated about the massive hunk on the other side.

If he’d made any friends since moving here, there were no signs of it, nor did he seem to feel the lack. He was charismatic, even chatty, during those evening meals, his pecs dancing and bouncing, his biceps stretching and bulging as he gesticulated while telling stories to my rapt parents. But he didn’t relax with the family beyond that, either—he kept his distance.

The only other time he was at home and not in his room was during meal prep, but not even my obnoxious mother could summon the will to interrupt him during that operation. Our suburban kitchen became industrial, dozens of chicken breasts and cups and cups of rice being processed into carefully proportioned containers, stacked in the fridge and ready to go. And he did this frequently—one moment, there was barely space to store all the meals, then, just a couple of days later, they’d all be gone and he’d be repeating the process, brow furrowed as he scrutinized the food scale, the measuring cup. We knew not to get in his way.

As for me? Evan and I barely exchanged more than occasional rote greetings. If he remembered me from the basement ten years ago, he gave no sign of it. Figures. He’d been pretty forgettable himself, back then. Sure, now memories of him were branded on the brain, marking everyone who saw him as his personal erotic possession for the rest of their natural life—but back then? Back then he had been nothing. And I had been nothing, too. Two nothings, awkwardly existing in the same basement room while their mothers gabbed and gabbed in the kitchen upstairs.

And one of them had turned into… this… this… unthinkable hunk, this walking wet dream of outlandish masculinity.

And the other one had turned into, well… me.

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Evan never clued in to how thin the walls were. I certainly wasn’t going to tell him, and I already had quiet habits from living next door to Emily most of my life, so he never heard me and deduced the thinness of the walls, either.

As you’d expect from someone so obviously brimming with hormones, Evan didn’t just study when he was alone in his room. I grew very accustomed to the rhythm of his stroking and his hip-thrusts, the halting little breaths, the muttered words and phrases he commonly used—nothing notable, your standard fuck yeah, fuuuck, god, and various wordless whimpers and sighs.

What else could I do? I started to join in. Lying awake in bed, hearing this beef heap next door jerking himself off, why not? I’d try to time my strokes alongside his. My mind’s eye was consumed with imagining the private scene next door. Was he flexing, feeling his pecs and delts with his free hand? Did he play with his ass, his finger struggling to get past the meat of his massive glutes to tease his twitching hole? Did he tweak his nips? Was he looking at porn, or reading stories? Did he rely on his own imagination? A mirror? I’d use a mirror, if I were him. Fuck.

I liked to try and cum at the same time as him. It was tough, a moving target, but I got pretty close a few times.

And of course, he never had a clue about it. I’d had a big sister next door until I was 17. I knew how to be quiet as a library in a church when I jacked off.

I couldn’t tell if this one-way mutual masturbation made my situation more bearable, but once I’d formed the habit I had no way to break it. It was just too hot to have this secret intimate relationship with such a hunk. I was trapped in the gravity of this erotic black hole.

And Evan just kept getting bigger and hotter as the weeks went by, and the trap closed tighter and tighter around me.

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I worked at the Starbucks in the nearby shopping complex. Usually I walked to work. It was a bit of a hike to get there, but I appreciated the time to clear my mind, the time free from any social expectation. My life was truly my own during those unlovely walks to and from work, along the never-used sidewalk bordering a hectic hyper-capitalist stroad. I was saving as much money as I could, supposedly to help pay for school starting next fall, but during those walks I’d imagine doing wild things with the money, instead. Changing my name and moving across the country without telling anyone, for instance.

I just wanted to run away. I dreamed of starting a new life. And I often continued those dreams while at work, which could get me in trouble—Starbucks was fast-paced, and you had to pay attention.

I was daydreaming about running away with my savings to become a ranch hand in Montana, on a gay cattle ranch which almost certainly doesn’t exist, when it happened. My coworkers’ hushed giggly reactions broke me out of my inner fantasy into real life, which resembled a fantasy of another kind.

Evan was standing in the Starbucks lineup. He wore a tanktop and sweatshorts, damp with just the right amount of sweat to cling between both his cleavages, pec and butt, as if he’d just finished a workout. His bare delts bulged to both sides, almost freaky-big, two fleshy cantaloupes. His skin was so clear, so clean. He looked warm and smooth to the touch. He was so handsome, clear-eyed, clean-shaven, staring straight ahead. Head erect, nose and jaw proud without being overbearing. Honestly, Evan was movie-star handsome even without the muscles, Henry Cavill but younger. But the muscles! His thighs bulging and shifting shape as he shuffled forward with the line, straining the cotton of his short-shorts. Nice healthy unsubtle dickprint.

Holy shit. I was going to cum in my pants just watching him.

But some corner of my brain wasn’t fully overwhelmed with the eroticism of it all, and it started piping up with objections and observations.

Hey, it’s 11 a.m. on a Tuesday in October. Isn’t Evan supposed to be at college right now? And isn’t the college campus on the other side of town? He looks like he just finished lifting. He supposedly lifts at the campus gym. Why is he at the Starbucks near our house?

Then he saw me, and the most unexpected thing happened.

He gave a start, turned a little pale, and began to look… well… nervous. He fidgeted. His gaze was no longer calm, confident, direct—now it darted around the shop.

I let the girls take his order—I was on drink prep, not a register, at the moment, anyway, and besides, they were like a school of piranha eager to rip him apart like a bloody chunk. But the whole time he was ordering, I heard it. The slightest quaver in his voice, deep but not as deep as usual. It was like he had caught himself, and was now projecting a false aura of confidence. I could see through it.

I prepared drinks as he stood there waiting. I could practically hear him sweating. Despite his bulging muscles, Evan was nervous. What had him so rattled?

“Nathan?” I called out, placing the drink on the bar. Evan stepped forward and took the drink without looking at me, then made a bee-line for the exit.

Huh.

Lots of people have nom-de-starbucks, and usually I don’t think anything of it, but this time… it pricked at my mind. I had seen something I wasn’t supposed to see. I had stumbled on something, here. I watched Evan as best I could, while continuing to make drinks. He climbed into his dirty, old, on its-last-legs Toyota and drove off quick as he could.

It’s like I caught him playing hooky? But he’s in college, if he wants to skip class he’s allowed. Why would he be so nervous about being seen by me? Why would he give a fake name? And… hey… wait … Another realization dawned on me as Evan’s junky old car left the lot. I thought Mom said his family was loaded. I tried hard to remember what Evan’s family home had been like when we visited ten years ago, but all I could remember was the basement, which had just been… a basement? He had a then-current game console, but that doesn’t make a family rich. Why does he even drive that shitty old car, anyway, if he’s a rich kid? That old wreck of his is old enough to be worrying about finding a prom date.

Nothing was said about it at dinner that evening, and he was his usual friendly, charming self. He told stories about his anatomy professor, who was a real goof. He shared a few of the professor’s dad jokes (“what do you call it when a skeleton’s having a good time? An osteoblast!”).

It was like the scene in the Starbucks never happened. But it had, and it meant something—I just couldn’t tell what, yet. Was Evan a fraud? Was he even really… Evan?

A couple of days later, I asked my mom, as casually as I could, if Evan’s family was really all that wealthy, while he was away at class—supposedly. “He doesn’t seem like a spoiled rich kid at all,” I said, hoping to butter her up with some compliments about her new favourite.

“Oh, they’re loaded,” mom said conspiratorially. “His dad is an executive on some silicon valley thing. MySquare or whatever. You remember their house, right?”

I decided to go for it. “Yeah, sure, total McMansion,” I lied blatantly. “So why does he drive such a beat up old car?”

My mother shrugged. “Like you said yourself, Evan doesn’t seem like a rich kid at all, does he? The answer is obvious. His parents don’t want to spoil him, so they make him earn his way as best he can. I bet he paid for that car himself. Other kids like him don’t have a care in the world, crashing the sports cars they get for birthday presents or whatever, then daddy just buys them a new one anyway. Who wants a son like that? It’s admirable, if you ask me—you can tell what a great job Barb did raising him, making sure all that money didn’t go to Evan’s head!”

She probably went on after that, but I stopped listening. I mean, maybe she’s right.

Maybe.

I never saw Evan at my Starbucks again. It’s like he learned, that day, that it wasn’t a safe place to go. Like he knew if he went there again he’d have to face me, and, for whatever reason, that… well, that seemed to scare him.

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My sister came home for Thanksgiving, but Evan had no plans to leave for the weekend, either. This raised a momentary concern when making plans, but Emily was quick to resolve it. “I’m just there for one night, I’ll stay at Andrea’s house,” she said, referring to her high school best friend.

Emily was both like and unlike me. She had an assertiveness and a confidence I lacked. She’d flown the coop at the first opportunity and never looked back. She did what she wanted, and if she didn’t want hassle from Mom and Dad she just didn’t tell them.

While Mom and Dad accepted Evan easily, happily, I could tell Emily was testing him, smelling him out, trying to figure out what his deal was. I was so glad to see that. It made me feel less crazy that my closest ally was instinctively on my side, without me even having to prep her.

Evan wore an autumnal sweater that was fit to burst around his big heavy pecs, that visibly constricted the amount he could bend his elbow every time he reached to pass some dish or another. I could hear the chair under him shift and complain under his weight. I had no idea how much he must weigh—he was taller than me, maybe six feet, and gee, maybe 250? It was hard to say. Not like I could ask him. His arms were definitely over 20” around, maybe 21” or 22”. Remember, this guy is just fucking 19 years old. He ate an eye-popping mountain over food. I almost thought mom needed to buy a second turkey—there was practically none left over, unlike other years. I was rock hard watching this muscle glutton gorge himself past human limits.

After the meal, Emily and I headed into the backyard for some private sibling talk. We settled into the two swings, swaying and twisting and dangling as we caught up.

“I almost expected a meathead like him would have replaced my vanity with a squat rack, but he’s left my room almost untouched,” Emily said quietly. “That’s nice of him.”

“Mom’s got a crush.”

“You think? She follows him around like he’s a fresh pie and she’s an old time cartoon character floating along the scent trail. I’m surprised Dad hasn’t gotten jealous, but if anything he seems happy about it. I dunno, man. Our parents are kind of fucked up.”

I quickly shook my head at Emily’s sheer audacity. She didn’t pull punches.

But Emily continued. “Also, Mom’s not the only one with a crush.” She really didn’t pull punches.

I felt my face grow red hot as I tried to stammer a denial. “Shut up, little brother. I can read you like a book. You look at him like a starving man outside an all-you-can-eat buffet.” She smiled fondly, then paused and grew serious. “Be careful, Ty. You don’t need me to tell you Mom and Dad only seem clueless.”

I had a quick flashback to two years ago.

I was 16, Emily was 18, and she had just stunned me by telling me I was gay. Right out of the blue. We were sitting on these same swings on a summer night, after Mom and Dad had gone to bed. Emily was leaving for University in just a couple of weeks.

I tried to deny it, my voice catching in my throat, my heart rate doubling in a second. I tried to convince her she’d made a mistake. I wasn’t gay, I was just quiet, sensitive, artistic, a late bloomer. But she was confident. She didn’t ask. She already knew.

“You’re gay, Ty. I know it. I’ve known it since you were 12. You can lie to the rest of the world. In fact, you might have to, for now, to stay safe. But I love you, little brother. Just as you are. Your big sis loves you, and she’s always gonna protect you, okay? Even when she’s far away. Always.” And then she hugged me as my denials turned into tears, and kept holding me until I’d calmed down, and then kissed my forehead and took me to the 24-hour McDonalds.

Emily was like that.

My mind came back to the now, the same backyard, the fall scene, my sister on the swing next to me, the two of us dangling lazily, discussing the walking wet dream who had invaded our home.

“I don’t trust him, but… I don’t think he means us any harm, Ty,” Emily said softly. “You know Mom and Dad will go ballistic if they find out you’ve got the hots for him, and that probably would mean bad news for you and Evan both, so… try to keep your eyes in your head and your tongue off the ground. Maximum one awoogah noise per week, okay? But…” she smiled fondly. “Don’t count Evan out, either. Try to get to know him. Maybe he likes you back.”

I scoffed. “Impossible. Have you seen him? Have you seen me?”

“Yah,” Emily said, looking me directly in the eye. She never spun bullshit. “Yah, Ty, I have. I’ve seen you my whole life.”

And then she hopped off her swing and headed back into the house.

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Thanksgiving night. Emily had left for Andrea’s house. Mom and Dad were in the living room, sipping scotch and watching bad TV. I was on the couch with them, bored. Evan was upstairs, studying.

Logey and still too-full from dinner, I rose from the couch when the latest episode of The Big Bang Theory ended, just so my departure wouldn’t seem abrupt or raise comment, and bid my parents good night.

I went upstairs. I stood in the hall outside my room. I looked at the closed door to Emily’s room. Evan’s room. The simple white rectangle. I looked at it for a few seconds, and I couldn’t have even told you what I was thinking while I did.

Then I went into my room and started getting ready for bed.

I heard Evan through the wall again, and the corner of my mouth quirked into a grin. I hadn’t had a release all day. Sure, a quick jack off session would hit the spot, help me sleep.

I pulled off my pants and eased myself carefully onto the bed, so he wouldn’t hear the springs squeak and shift through the wall.

Like Pavlov’s dog, my dick was already hard, but I had only given it a couple of strokes when I realized something was off.

The rhythm wasn’t right. The breathing was different.

It took me a second to understand what was happening.

Evan wasn’t jacking off in the other room.

He was crying.

I let go of my dick and lay still. Stared at the ceiling. Listened to the big man whimper, his half-stifled sobs, private sounds he thought no one could hear.

I felt like I was violating his privacy so much more than I did all those other times. Masturbation wasn’t serious. This… this meant something a lot more. Why was he crying? What had happened? I could never ask him without revealing… way too much. It was impossible to imagine. This big hulking muscle beast of a man, shoulders shaking, nose snotty, eyes red… Unthinkable. Yet the longer I listened, the more certain I was.

It took him a little while to cry himself out. I didn’t move the entire time. I lay there, still as a statue, my thoughts too fast for me to discern them.

I don’t remember when I fell asleep, but the next morning Evan was already in the kitchen when I went down, making his eggs and oatmeal. He greeted me cheerfully and he looked exactly the same as he always did, just a tiny bit bigger than the day before.

I watched him pack his bag with his stack of bodybuilder meals, his gym clothes and lifting shoes, his laptop and his notebooks. His melon-sized biceps flexing and bulging as he worked. He stood, shoulder strap over one enormous shoulder. He turned, his thighs and ass almost bursting out of his pants. He walked to the door, swinging each leg wide around the other, a slow awkward waddle. And he left, so wide in the doorway he subconsciously angled himself to one side a little as he went.

 

Part 3

It was the first of December. I woke up from a nap, my dream quickly fading. Surreal snippets of images, slipping away like sand between fingertips even as I tried to recall them. Whatever the dream had been, it got my dick hard, and I was still throbbing even as I groggily became aware of my real surroundings. I smacked my dry mouth. Fuck, what time was it, even? How long had I been asleep? I got to my feet, still woozy, and stepped outside my bedroom.

At the same moment, Evan stepped out of the bathroom. I stopped in my tracks, my mouth hanging open. I might have made a noise, like “guh” or something.

He was wearing a towel. He was only wearing a towel. My still-not-awake brain noticed details almost at random, mixing the extremely erotic with the mundane. Little droplets of water beaded on his hairless lightly-tanned skin. He looked somehow both soft and hard, his skin like satin but his muscles like concrete. White towel, fuzzy terry cloth, tied to emphasize the narrowness of his waist. Two prominent cum-gutters. Wisps of steam cradled his body as it filled the doorframe. He had been in the shower. His hair wet, spiky, black. I’d never seen him shirtless. Heavy hanging pecs that jumped and twitched with every micromovement, topped by small, almost dainty little nipples. Faint squiggles of veins spanning his implausibly wide delts even as they were relaxed—made prominent by the hot water, perhaps. Even at rest, his abdomen was a defined six pack that flexed and bowed gently in and out with his breathing. Somehow the thick fuzzy towel only emphasized his big shelf of an ass projecting out from his narrow waist. The towel only made me wonder about the fresh soft cock underneath, probably smelling lightly of soap from the shower… For some reason I found myself considering how warm and tight his freshly washed asshole probably was… Made me wonder how it would feel to gently prise his mega glutes apart with my fingers… I realized I had just been… standing there, for way too long. Staring. Full mast. Tent pole pointing at Evan like a fucking compass magnet.

“Atticus,” he said. “Atticus, you okay?”

“... Uh, yeah! Sorry! Just woke up from a nap,” I mumbled, hurrying toward the stairs. “I didn’t realize anyone was home.”

“Class was cancelled,” Evan said as I hurried away. Idiot, he’s talking to you, don’t run off! Despite this clear and direct instruction from my brain, my feet were heedless, swift, and I thundered down the stairs toward the kitchen to get myself a drink and a snack. Evan’s big tub of protein powder gazing at me from its place by the toaster like the Eye of Sauron or something.

I guzzled a glass of tap water, opened the fridge to get a yogurt, and wandered into the living room. My phone was on the coffee table where I’d left it, before my nap. Not like me to not have it glued to my side—I must have been exhausted.

The bottom dropped out of my stomach as I opened my phone and saw the texts, the missed calls.

“Atticus where are you? Your shift started 15 minutes ago. Claire needs to leave and we’re slammed.” Received 18 minutes ago.

Fuck!!!” I yelled, putting my yogurt down and running back toward my bedroom.

“What is it?!” Evan yelled back, appearing at the head of the stairs as I charged up. He had put on a pair of grey sweatpants and a black XXL tanktop whose seams had not yet lost the fight against his burgeoning mass. It was pulled taut by his massive round pecs, twin suspension bridges spanning the gap between his traps and his chest. His short dark hair was still damp. He looked concerned, alarmed.

“I’m fucking late for work! I was supposed to be there half an hour ago and it’s gonna take me 40 minutes to speedwalk over! Fuck!”

“Oh, shit,” Evan said. “Grab your stuff and I’ll give you a lift.”

Somehow my anxiety doubled and my heart decided that now would be a great time to go for that Guiness Book tachycardia record. “You don’t have to do that!” My voice sounded strangled in my own ears.

Evan gave me a really? kind of look and said “I have a car and I have the day off and it’s not even that far away and you’re late. Come on, it just makes sense.”

Unable to counter this simple logic, I ran into my room, grabbed my work stuff, sent off a hurried apologetic text to my shift manager, letting her know I’d be there in 15 and oh my god I’m so so sorry.

Evan was sitting behind the wheel of his car when I popped out the front door. He looked concerned for me, but also like he was holding back a grin or something, like the situation wasn’t without its amusing angle. I climbed into the passenger seat, my heart thumping, my face burning, my stomach knotted.

Damn. The car was small, too small for Evan, really. His chest bunched up nearly to his chin when he grabbed the wheel, pecs mashed forward by his bulging biceps, and his far shoulder brushed against the door even as the one closest to me encroached on my space. In fact, I had to lean against my door just a little to avoid being in constant contact with his bare boulder of a deltoid. His skin was so smooth. Flawless. He still smelled like soap and shampoo, but the underlying testosterone musk was already beginning to reassert itself.

The inside of the car smelled like him too, but also stale, like old gym clothes. Fuck me, even that was arousing—my dick had retreated like a frightened turtle when I realized I was late for work, but now it stirred, began returning to life. I imagined Evan’s gym shorts, dank with sweat, riding up the crack between his big globular glutes. I imagined myself as those gym shorts, my face being pulled into that ass… fucking FOCUS, Atticus!

“You uh… you know the way?” I asked, brainlessly, as he backed out the driveway. He gave me a look while putting the car into drive and accelerating onto the street. Like, of course he knows the way. What the fuck was I thinking? He probably thinks I’m being bratty.

We sat in silence for thirty seconds. It was unbearable. I had to think of something to say. “You uh… you like… bodybuilding?” My soul shrivelled up like a raisin as I heard the words coming out of my own mouth. So fucking braindead.

Evan chuckled. “Yeah, I like bodybuilding. Hopefully people can tell by looking.”

I choked. “Uh… yeah, Evan. People can tell. You look… way different than you did eleven years ago.”

Evan shrugged, an avalanche of meat that threatened to unbalance the car and cause a rollover. “We were kids back then.”

“Yeah, but now you’re like, twice the size of me, at least.”

Evan grinned, clearly enjoying having his ego stroked. “You think? Thanks. I…” he seemed to be considering whether to continue speaking. “... I started going to the gym as a way to get away from my family. My mom, really. Lucky for me my dad would sign the permission slips for my membership before I came of age—Mom’s a classic narcissist, and she tried a few times to take the gym away from me once she saw how much I loved it. But yeah. Whenever I couldn’t stand to be at home, which was… most of the time, really… I’d just… go to the gym. Put my anger into the iron, you know.” He shrugged again, and his grip on the wheel tightened. The cables of his forearms jumped into relief, and the garden hose veins down his biceps bulged. “But yeah, thanks for noticing.”

“Out of the frying pan, into the fire?” I ventured.

Evan seemed confused. “Huh? Sorry?”

“Escaping your mom. My mom’s pretty obnoxious sometimes, too, and she’s uh… she’s really into you. Sorry if it’s weird.”

Evan seemed to think for a second, as if deciding which path to take, then the corner of his mouth quirked. “Your mom’s fine, trust me. There are worse moms than her.” He glanced at me before returning his eyes to the road. I couldn’t tell what he was thinking, and whatever it was, he kept it to himself. We continued on in silence for a minute more, pulling into the strip mall where my Starbucks was located.

“What time does your shift end?” Evan asked as he pulled toward the curb.

“I’m here ‘til close at 9,” I said.

“Cool, I’ll pick you up then.”

“What! No! Evan, you—”

“Better get in there, they look really busy and you’re late.”

Reminded that my shift started 45 minutes ago, I cursed under my breath, hopped out of the car, and jogged into the store.

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Evan’s beat up old Toyota was indeed waiting right outside the store when I walked out at the end of the day. He flashed his headlights at me as if I hadn’t had dreams about that dumb car and its musclebound owner for months now.

“How was it?” he asked as I flopped into the passenger seat, my feet throbbing. I’d been working this job for five months and my feet were nowhere close to being used to the abuse. Standing sucks.

“I hate this job,” I moaned theatrically.

“That bad?”

“Nah. Normal shift. I got a talking to, of course, but this is the first time I’ve been late, and they can’t afford to fire me, and I think she could tell it was an accident and I felt awful, so…” I sighed. “Back again tomorrow.”

Evan hadn’t started driving yet. He looked at me. Fuck, he was so handsome, so huge. The smell of him overwhelmed the small space. “You hungry?”

What was he asking? Part of me knew, but I wouldn’t let that part of me say it, even inside my own head. “Uh.. yeah, actually. Mom probably kept a plate for me back home.”

“She did, but, uh…” Evan grinned guiltily. “I’m a growing boy?” he offered, apologetic, voice rising in pitch, head sinking into his traps and delts as he raised his shoulders in a shrug, compressing his mouth. “So… where do you want to eat? What’s even open now?”

There’s no way this is happening. “There’s a 24 hour McDonald’s about half a mile toward the highway,” I said after a moment.

The car started creeping forward. “You sure? We can go a little fancier than McDonald’s, you know.”

Holy shit. “Yeah but uh… most places are going to be closed, or closing soon,” I said in a tiny voice.

“‘K, Micky Dee’s it is,” Evan said, the car accelerating toward the parking lot exit.

Evan insisted on treating me, since he’d eaten my dinner, he claimed. He put in an order for himself, too, and my eyes nearly fell out of my head as he riddled off about five menu items to the teen boy behind the counter, who was clearly even more enraptured by Evan’s massive muscles than I was—and that’s a high bar to clear. I was almost afraid he’d pass out from lack of bloodflow to his brain.

“What happened to chicken and rice and broccoli?” I asked as we walked toward an empty table, Evan’s tray overflowing with food.

“Issa treat,” Evan said, ducking his head to snatch a couple of fries into his mouth while still carrying the tray. One stray fry fucking fell into the cleavage between his pecs and stuck there. He grinned down at it, goofy, pleased. I walked just behind him. He was still wearing those grey sweatpants, and it looked like he was smuggling a pair of basketballs taped to the back of his body. His glutes shifted and flexed and bounced with each step as he swung one thick thigh out and around its rival/partner.

We ate and talked about stupid bullshit. Video games. Upcoming movies. Evan was excited for something coming out in January, and he said he’d take me to see it. What the fuck was going on?

Long after we’d finished our food, loudly sucking melted ice with a homeopathic hint of soda through our straws, clearly not wanting to leave yet, not wanting to break whatever pleasant fast food spell had us in its grips, Evan seemed to get serious.

“Atticus,” he said, his tone different, deeper. “I…” he struggled, as if trying to overcome some barrier inside himself. “Sorry for being so weird, that day I came into your Starbucks.”

I looked at him. Like, clearly there was something more he was going to say, right? Some form of explanation?

Evan blushed and averted his eyes, like I was the scary one. His voice became quiet and halting, his words jumbled. “I, uh… look, please keep this a secret, okay? I… I’m not… I’m not actually going to school. Never have been.”

I’m sorry to report that I laughed, although I was able to cut it short when he gave me a wounded look. “Sorry! It’s just… you had me so worked up, I thought it was something worse than that! Like you were some imposter who stole Evan’s identity and you had turned my sister’s bedroom into a meth lab.”

Evan grimaced. “I don’t like to lie, Atticus, but I felt like I had no choice. I just… I had to escape, and I didn’t have enough money to do it on my own, I needed somewhere to land that was far away but that I could afford, and well…” he sighed shakily. “Please don’t tell your parents. I…” He stopped, seemed to gather himself, regain control. He sighed, looked at me, his big liquid eyes framed by bushy sad eyebrows. “Sorry.” Fuck, he was beautiful.

“Don’t be sorry,” I said, reaching out to grab his hand without thinking. Surprised at my own boldness as it happened. It was like closing an electric circuit, and I almost gasped at the touch of his skin. His hand was so much thicker, stronger than mine. A man’s hand. “I’ve always dreamed about running away. You actually did it.” He held my gaze, his face becoming grateful.

“Thank you.” he said quietly. I let go of his hand, then, and the absence of his touch ached like frostbite.

The silence stretched. I felt like it would be wrong to press Evan, to quiz him. He’d tell me as much as he was comfortable telling, and I had to be content with that. I felt like he was ebbing away from me, like we had just experienced some sort of emotional high tide, an aqua alta, and now normalcy was gradually reasserting itself.

“Well. Thank you for telling me. I promise to keep your secret. And thanks for the late dinner. And for the ride,” I said, as I rose from my chair and gathered up my tray.

Evan gave me a winning grin. Fuck, he was handsome. “And thank you for letting me get that off my chest!” He bounced his pecs twice, playfully, the tanktop shifting and billowing.

“Cornball,” I said with mock-contempt, Evan’s grin only widened as we walked toward the door. Well, I walked. Evan’s musclebound waddle was an entirely different species of gait.

It was only on the drive home, Evan playing me some song he was into and telling me about the band, bright with dorkish enthusiasm, that it occurred to me. Was this… had that been a date?

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Just the next day, at the dinner table, Dad asked a simple question. “So, Evan, what are your travel plans for the holidays?”

Evan paused, his fork halfway to his mouth, just for a split-second. I don’t think Mom or Dad caught it, but I did. “Oh, I was… I was planning on just sticking around here, if that’s okay…?”

Mom and Dad shared a look, like this was unexpected and troubling news. “You sure you don’t want to go home for Christmas, son?” Dad asked, brows knitting in confusion.

Evan shot me a quick glance, as if begging me for help, but I couldn’t think of anything I could say or do that would rescue him, or even buy him time to think.

“Well, sure, it’s my first Christmas away from home, but, uh… Mom and Dad are doing Christmas in Hawaii, and uh… it’s their 25th wedding anniversary a couple days after Christmas, so… it’s a just the two of them kind of a thing. They say I’m old enough, I stopped believing in Santa at least two or three years ago.” Evan laughed, and maybe it convinced Mom and Dad he was relaxed, but I could sense the tension buzzing through his big, over-muscled body. “Besides, like Mom said, it’s not like I’m going to be alone for Christmas…”

Mom sat back in her chair. “Well, this does present a problem, I’m sorry to say, Evan dear. I wish you’d told us sooner. I don’t know why we didn’t discuss it at Thanksgiving, when Emily was here.”

“What’s the problem?” I piped up, wanting Evan to know I wasn’t abandoning him, that I was on his side, just… I had no idea what I could say or do that would be of any help.

“Emily’s coming home for Christmas, of course, and we told her she could have her old room back while she’s here. She’s planning to be here for almost a full two weeks.”

“Oh.” I could see Evan’s face fall. He was a good actor, but not flawless. “I’m… I’m sorry, I just assumed I was welcome, I… I can find a hotel, or ask… one of my classmates if they’ve got space on their couch….”

Poor Evan. I knew he had no classmates. I knew he couldn’t afford a hotel. I had to do something. A brazen idea flew into my head. Something possessed me—maybe it was my sister’s bold spirit inspiring me? But my mouth was moving before I could overthink it.

“Evan can stay in my room.”

Mom, Dad, and Evan all turned their heads to stare at me. I plowed forward. Can’t unring a bell.

“It’s just two weeks, I’ve got a queen sized mattress, there’s space enough, it’s Christmas, we shouldn’t let him be alone at Christmas.” I cut myself off, knowing I’d start babbling otherwise.

Mom and Dad shared a look. “That’s mighty generous, son,” Dad said slowly, the unspoken uncharacteristically so lingering in the air. A memory of my sister’s warning echoed in my ear: Mom and Dad only seem clueless.

“You’re right, Ty, I’d feel just awful if Evan spent the holidays alone in a hotel, or on some cheap couch in a basement across town,” Mom purred, rescuing me from my father’s scrutiny.

Evan looked at me. I couldn’t read his expression, then I noticed the corner of his mouth quirk. He was holding back a grin.

“That’s very kind of you, Atticus. I promise I won’t get in your way,” he said, as if butter wouldn’t melt in his mouth.

Oh, fuck. What had I just signed myself up for?

 

Part 4

It was the 23rd of December. Emily was due to arrive early that afternoon. Shortly before she showed up, Evan moved his suitcase, laptop, phone charger, and a few other things into my room. I sat at my desk watching as he carefully arranged his things in the corner.

As he worked I was treated to a view of him from behind, his broad back and shoulders. He turned toward me, his big round glutes rotating in their full 3-D glory, and gave me a grateful smile. “Thanks so much for doing this, Atticus. I promise I’ll do my best not to get in your way. You really saved my bacon.”

“Don’t mention it,” I said, my voice sounding unnatural in my own ears. My mouth was dry. My room wasn’t all that big, and he was such a huge guy, it seemed like he practically filled it. Even if I put on headphones and stared at my computer and did my best to ignore him, I knew it would be futile. I’d still be smelling him, still be catching glimpses of his muscles in my peripheral vision. Still be constantly aware of his presence.

And we’d both be sleeping in that same bed tonight. And tomorrow night. And ten more nights after that.

“Well, we should probably go downstairs and join the family, or whatever,” I offered, rising from my desk and leading the way. Emily had texted from her last highway stop a half hour ago, so she would be in the front door any minute now.

The afternoon went well, all things considered. Mom made the three of us, Evan included, wear Santa hats. It was ultra-dorky, childish, yet somehow, on Evan’s handsome masculine face and his super-muscular body, it was extra-sexy. It humanized him. I looked at him, rolling out gingerbread dough at my sister’s direction, his big arms flexing and bulging as he pushed the rolling pin back and forth, thick veins popping, stupid fuzzy Santa hat on his head. I was overcome with a desire to slip behind him, snake my arms around his tight ab-cobbled waist, lean my head against his wide back, feel his body warmth, feel his abdomen rise and fall with his slow breaths, smell him, hear—no, feel—the rumble of a chuckle in his massive ribcage as my dick hardened between his sweatpants-covered glutes…

Emily dabbed the tip of my nose with icing to rescue me from my own overheated imagination. “Earth to Ty! Come in, Ty! Start greasing the baking trays, please.” Evan grinned at me as I scrunched my face and wiped the icing off my face.

“Yes, Mistress,” I said with mock servility.

It was just the young people in the kitchen. Mom had left for a couple of hours, gone to decorate the church for the Christmas service with a bunch of other volunteers. Dad was in the living room, watching Fox News. I could barely hear some blowhard yelling about the War on Christmas in there. I imagined my dad, nodding along, grim-faced as he imagined the fall of western civilization at the hands of atheists and homosexuals saying ‘happy holidays.’

I glanced at Emily and Evan. She was so small, he was so large, yet he was paying close attention to her instructions. Hanging on her every word. At Thanksgiving Emily had been cautious, testing him, smelling him out. Now, she was open, confident, friendly. A pang of jealousy struck me out of nowhere. He looked smitten. What if Evan was my future brother-in-law? Would that be so bad?

It would be terrible.

I tried to shake the feeling, hid it as best I could, but for the rest of the day it haunted any moment when I let my mind wander, when I let my guard down. Ingrate, I thought to myself. Coward. She knows you’ve got a crush. She’d never do that to you.

So? So what if I’ve got a crush? Evan is probably straight, and he’s so sexy, and so gentle and kind, and she’s so pretty, and brave and good. If he’s into her, and she’s into him, what kind of monster would I be to stand in the way? To say no, you can’t have him, because he makes my dick hard, so no one else ever gets to touch him? Hideous. I need to… I need to get used to the idea now, so when it happens I’ll be able to act normal, maybe even be happy for them.

And so the rest of the day passed. A late-ish supper happened. Dad’s Christmas work party was that evening. He and Mom got dressed up and left, saying not to expect them back before 10 or 11. Emily disappeared a little bit after that, meeting up with Andrea and some other of her friends at a house party. She and her friends were all legal drinking age now, after all, although I knew that hadn’t stopped Emily before. Rules, to her, were things to work around.

I felt Evan’s eyes on me after Emily left. What was he thinking? Why don’t you have any friends, Atticus? Shouldn’t you be invited to a holiday party or two? The house felt big and empty and silent with just the two of us in it.

“Do you wanna…” I began, then stopped, feeling too dorky to continue.

“Do I want to what?” Evan’s eyebrow quirked at me.

“Uh… well… we’re 19, that’s… that’s legal age in Canada, I think. We could… pretend to be Canadian?”

“Atticus, what the hell are you talking about?”

Sigh. Too late now. “I’m asking if you want to raid Dad’s liquor cabinet. Just one drink each, he’ll notice if too much disappears.”

Evan let out a hoot of a laugh. “Atticus Tyler Williams!” he said, in a pretty good imitation of what my mother says whenever I’ve shocked or surprised her. And, yes, when I was little they called me Ty-Ty, and if you ever call me that I will find some way to discover your identity and murder you when you least expect it. “You do have a bad side, buried deep down in there, somewhere!”

I scowled. “It was just a suggestion. We don’t have to.”

Evan grinned. “No, no, I want to. Usually I don’t drink. It’s bad for bodybuilding. But, it’s the holidays, and it’s just the two of us… Lead the way, good sir. I won’t tell Santa if you don’t.”

And so that’s how we came to be in the basement rec room, Dad’s attempt at a ‘man cave,’ although he didn’t use it much. Occasional poker nights. I would beg for a closing shift those evenings. I’d walk home extra slow and hope all those loudmouth homophobe good ol’ boys would be gone by the time I dawdled up the driveway. Years of your dad’s friends calling you a sissy and a faggot in your own home, while your own father says nothing or, worse, laughs. Or them showing me pics of babes in bikinis and asking me what I thought of them and laughing at my discomfort… those experiences leave a mark.

There hadn’t been a poker night since Evan started picking me up after work, which he now insisted on doing any time I had to close. I wondered if I could trick him into another long night at McDonald’s, the next time Dad had his friends over late.

But those are problems for another day. Today’s problem: convince Evan that I’m smooth and sophisticated when it comes to alcohol. “I’ve only done this a couple times before,” I confessed, kneeling down to explore the liquor cabinet. “But it’s like most things, if you follow the recipe it turns out okay.”

Evan blushed, almost as red as the Santa hat still on his head. “I… I’ve never had a drink before.”

I looked at him, shocked. I just… assumed. Good looks, muscles, confidence, charm—he must have had an active adolescent social life before fleeing California, with plenty of underage drinking.

He shrugged his massive shoulders, his heavy pecs bouncing from the motion. “Like I said, it’s bad for bodybuilding, and, well, I never…” his eyes darted away and down. For all his massive bulk he seemed like a chastened boy. “I never really had… friends. Older guys at the gym mentored me, taught me. I did go to the gym Christmas party last year, back in California. But they’d never serve an 18 year old booze. They were good guys.”

My heart was hammering as I rustled through the bottles. “I never had friends either,” I said. “Which you’ve probably noticed. My best friend is my older sister. How fucking pathetic is that?”

“She’s nice,” Evan said. “She’s a good friend to have, I think.”

There was that spike of jealousy again, like a splinter in your finger making its presence known even after you think you’ve plucked it out. My hands found the bottle of spiced rum. “Here we are,” I said, pulling it out. “Spiced rum and Mexican coke. Tastes like Christmas. Or so I’ve read.”

Evan screwed up his face. “The sugar…” he moaned.

“Christmas comes but once a year,” I replied, carefully filling two glasses with ice, measuring out two shots, then filling in the cracks with coke. I gave one a gentle circular motion with my hand and passed it to Evan, then repeated the maneuvre with my own. “Cheers.”

We each took a swallow. It was cold and sweet and, indeed, tasted like Christmas. I felt the heat in my belly within moments. I smiled at Evan, and found him smiling back at me, his big puppy dog grin.

“It’s nice,” he said, taking another sip. “Mom used to make me taste her wine, sometimes, and that stuff was foul. It was cheap shit, I don’t know if that’s why, but man was it gross. And she’d get mad at me if I said it tasted bad or if I screwed up my face, like she took it as an insult. But this, this actually tastes good.”

“I’m glad,” I said, enjoying the unexpected feeling of worldly sophistication. I’d given Evan a new experience, had shown myself to be competent in at least one traditionally masculine art, even if I was a failure at most of the others.

“Let’s sit,” Evan said, moving toward the leather sofa in front of the big screen TV. I picked up the controller and turned to the fireplace channel.

“Oh, good,” I said, putting the remote back down. “I love this show.”

“Me too,” Evan said, “but it really jumped the shark in the fifth season.”

I took another sip of my drink, feeling the warmth spread through me. My anxieties were loosening their talons. We sat comfortably in silence for a few moments, sipping. Two young men on a leather sofa in a basement in the suburbs. In some ways, not too different from eleven years ago. In other ways, completely different.

“Hey, Evan,” I said.

“Yeah?” he answered.

“You know how we both said we never had friends.”

“Yeah.”

“... We’re friends, aren’t we? Me and you?”

“... I think we are.”

I smiled, and felt my eyes get kind of hot and full-feeling. “I’m glad.”

Evan reached his big heavy arm around my shoulder and pulled me closer to him, snuggled me up to him, made me lean against him. Feeling his muscles against my skin, even through two layers of clothes, was almost too much. The manly smell of him was so strong, this close. It felt like my heart was going to burst out of my ribcage. He grinned down at me and tousled my hair. Then, without warning, he planted a quick kiss on top of my head. It wasn’t really a romantic or a sexual kiss, yet I still felt waves of warmth radiate through my whole body.

“I’m glad, too. It feels good to have a friend.”

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I felt something hard and warm pressed against my body. There was a gentle rocking motion, an up and down and back and forth, very soothing in its way. My eyes fluttered open and I saw the ugly popcorn ceiling in the stairwell leading from the basement to the main floor.

“...wha?” I attempted, but my mouth was very dry.

“Shh. You fell asleep against me on the couch. Your mom and dad are going to be home soon.”

A surge of adrenaline. “Oh shit we left the booze out,” I tried to say, but it came out in a jumble, like “oh shoo we leffa booze out.” We’d been down there for hours, and had enjoyed several rounds. So much for ‘just one each.’

“I said shh, don’t you worry, I put it all away.”

“Dad’s gunna know,” I moaned.

“Maybe,” Evan admitted. “We had… more than one each, that’s for sure.” The warmth, the pleasure of sharing something with Evan, of showing off for him, the courage it gave me to relax around him, it had all been too much to resist. “We almost killed the bottle, but we can pay your sister to buy a replacement and sneak it in there, right?” Evan continued, pushing the door at the top of the stair open with his hip.

“I can walk,” I protested, feeling very embarrassed at having passed out, and now being carried around like a new bride. Or someone who broke their ankle.

“Maybe I like carrying you, though,” Evan said, looking down at me over his pecs. God, his smile. His brown eyes were so soft and kind. The butterflies in my stomach were on the verge of forming a union and organizing a hostile takeover.

He carried me all the way to my room—our room—and set me down gently on the bed. He turned around, then. “Get into your pyjamas or whatever, I promise I won’t peek.”

Face burning, I pulled off my clothes, acutely aware of my unimpressive build, my skinny limbs, my soft stomach. Evan was as good as his word, staring at the corner while I changed.

“Done,” I said.

Evan nodded, and simply began pulling off his own clothes. I guess my eyes just about popped out of their sockets, because he paused, shirt half off. “Oh,” he said. “Guess I should have told you sooner. I… I usually sleep naked. I don’t own any pyjamas. I was gonna sleep in a tank top and underwear while we shared a bed. It’s the best I can do. You don’t mind?”

“I’ll go brush my teeth while you change,” I said, my voice sounding strangled and strange in my own ears. Evan just shrugged as I rushed past him into the bathroom, my balance still a bit off from the booze.

“Hey, make sure you drink some water,” I heard him call. A few moments later he appeared behind me in the mirror, in a pair of boxer briefs and a tank that left very little to the imagination. His massive glutes pulled his underwear tight, making his bulge even more apparent, and his monster thighs tested the fabric on both legs. His quads hung over his knees, and his fat adductor muscles forced his stance wider than a normal man’s, so he seemed a little shorter than he really was. His arms looked so big that it was a wonder he could wear anything but tank tops, actually. Surely they were too big for any sleeves.

The rum was still in my system, and I found myself saying things I’d normally keep to myself. “Fuck, Evan, you’re huge.”

He smiled at me as he started brushing his teeth. “Not huge enough,” he said, flexing experimentally with his free hand. My eyes nearly fell out of my head. Just with that casual flex, it looked like his bicep was going to rip out of the thin skin that barely contained it.

“How much…” I swallowed. “How much do you weigh?”

Evan paused brushing and spat in the sink. His voice became softer, more intense. “I was 273 pounds this morning,” he said. I made some wordless sound, my own toothbrush abandoned. “I was about 240 when I showed up here at the end of summer… 33 pounds in four months is pretty good, I’d say. Fuck me, I wanna get to 300 next year. Fuck. My birthday’s in April, imagine if I can do it before I turn 20. 300 pound teenager.” He breathed heavier, flexed harder, stared in the mirror. I looked tiny next to him. “And then, after 300…” he was almost panting now, as he shifted from a double bicep into a side chest pose, his pecs rising almost to his chin level. “... after 300, more. Freaky. No such thing as too big.”

Fuck dental hygiene. I was rock hard, and, I was shocked to discover, so was he. His boxer briefs made it impossible to hide; his cock was angled out over his left hip, visibly stretching the fabric. I could see the ridge of his corona through the cloth; his cockhead the size of a fat plum. It throbbed in time with his heartbeat as he continued flexing and talking about how he wanted to get so much bigger.

“I wish I had muscles like you,” I said, watching him flex and move. “Why don’t you teach me, Evan? Show me how you did it. You were a skinny nerd and now you’re massive. Take me to the gym and teach me how to lift and I’ll eat all the same stuff you eat. And I’ll get big like you. Right? Please?”

Evan stopped flexing and got kind of weirdly quiet. Whatever fire had been catching suddenly guttered. “We should get to bed, it’s almost midnight, your parents and your sister are gonna be back any minute now,” he said, ignoring my plea. “C’mon.”

I felt myself sobering up quickly. He said he was my friend just this very same night. So why wouldn’t he take me to the gym with him? Was he embarrassed to be seen with me? I couldn’t bring myself to ask him these things. I followed him into the room and we bade each other a cursory good night.

He passed out within seconds, but I lay awake for what felt like hours. I heard the front door open for mom and dad. Overheard the murmurs of their conversation. At some point, I must have fallen asleep, because I don’t remember hearing Emily get home.

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Of course I had to work on Christmas Eve. Of course fucking everyone and their second cousin was out shopping. I had a headache, I guess it was a hangover, and I kept alternating between dejection and anger. I hadn’t been so drunk that I forgot last night. Cuddling with Evan on the couch, declaring ourselves to be friends, falling asleep against him, being carried up the stairs. Evan getting off on flexing in front of me, revealing just how freaky big he wants to get, and then, when I asked him to help me get big like him, he… just shut down, pulled back. All business, all of a sudden. Like I said or did something wrong.

It hurt. My stomach felt all twisted and I don’t think it was just from the rum. For a couple of hours last night I felt like… like maybe I wasn’t alone after all, like maybe I had finally found someone to… to what? I didn’t even know. My emotions wouldn’t settle in one place. He hadn’t done anything wrong, actually. I had just foolishly got my hopes up, like I always do. Then I’d start to get mad. He had treated me so tender and nice, but then froze me out without warning, that’s fucked up and not fair.

And while having all this turmoil, I had to keep my plastic smile painted on my face, chirp at customers, laugh at their dumb jokes, absorb their temper tantrums, their meltdowns. Pretend that I loved my job and I was happy to be there, basically.

And that’s what they mean by emotional labour, folks.

Finally, my shift ended. I gathered up my little holiday gift from the store manager and trudged outside, exhausted, feeling vaguely sick. It was close to 10 pm.

Evan had been picking me up after work ever since that first night. He hadn’t said he’d do it again today, but then, he hadn’t said he wouldn’t do it, either. I didn’t see his beat up old wreck anywhere in the parking lot, though, and my stomach sank further toward my shoes.

Then I heard three quick horn blasts. I looked over. Emily’s car was parked nearby, not quite so old nor quite so junky nor quite so cramped as Evan’s. My sister waved happily at me. Evan grinned at me too, his bulk overflowing the passenger seat. I could discern his pecs at a hundred paces, not only through his shirt, but through the goddamn windshield.

Well fuck, I thought unhappily. At least they didn’t forget about me. I guess I really did have to start getting used to the idea that something was happening between them.

“Cookie?” Emily asked brightly as I climbed into the back seat, offering me a tin of the gingerbread we had made yesterday.

“They came out good,” Evan said. Emily smiled at him.

“Not hungry,” I said, knowing I was being too grumpy, spoiling the mood, not able to stop myself.

“Bad shift?”

“Yeah. You know. Christmas Eve. No one wants to be out and about yet everyone is out and about. Can we just go home, please? I have a headache.”

Emily and Evan shared a look, then. “Sure thing, Ty. I’m sorry you’re having a rough day.” Emily put the car in drive and we started rolling. We were mostly silent the whole way home.

As we walked into the house, Emily gently hooked her arm around mine. “Basement,” she said. “Sibling meeting.”

Mom and Dad were in the living room, watching TV; they offered me half-hearted greetings, didn’t get up. Evan was digging in the fridge for yet another one of his chicken and rice tupperwares. I let Emily drag me into the basement. She beckoned me to go down first, and closed the door at the top of the stairs behind her as she followed.

“What’s up,” she said gently, quietly.

I squirmed, not wanting to answer. “Nothing. I’m just tired. Working service industry at Christmas is hell. I never want to hear Mariah Carey again.”

Emily snorted. “Bullshit. Something’s up.”

I felt like such a turd confessing to her. “You and Evan are gonna start dating and I’m jealous, and then I hate myself for feeling jealous.”

Emily laughed softly and pulled me into her, gently yanked my head down to hers so our foreheads touched. “Darling brother. I promise that won’t happen. It’s gonna be fine, Ty.”

“You don’t have to keep your hands off him for my sake. I’ll get over it. One of us should have him, right?”

Emily snorted. “So pragmatic. Listen. I said it’s gonna be fine. So: it’s gonna be fine. Okay?” She went on tip-toes to give me a quick peck on the forehead, then she stepped back. “Now.” She still had her purse. “I believe we have some espionage that needs doing. I heard from a not-so-little birdie what you boys got up to last night.”

Emily pulled an identical, newly purchased bottle of spiced rum out of her purse. She kneeled and fished the nearly empty one out of the cabinet. She opened the new bottle and carefully began pouring, refilling the old. “I bet the old man hasn’t touched this since I stole a nip from it three years ago. Too threatening to his fragile masculinity, I’m shocked he has it at all. What do you think, about… 85% full?” She stopped pouring. “That look right?”

I nodded. “Yeah, that looks about right.”

“Perfect. I’ll just keep the leftover for myself, then. Handling fee.” She deftly returned the old, now mostly-full bottle to the cabinet, and slipped the now mostly-empty bottle back into her purse.

“What do I owe you?”

Emily winked at me. “You don’t owe me nothin’, Ty. Merry Christmas! I’m just glad you’re finally figuring out how to break some rules. Now let’s get back upstairs and pretend we’re a happy family, okay?”

I was surprised to discover Evan had already gone upstairs for the night. He must have really slammed back that chicken and rice. I was equally disappointed and relieved. Sure, Emily had reassured me that nothing was going to happen between them, but that only eased part of my distress. I still felt shut down and rejected, the way last night ended. Emily and I sat in the living room with our parents, but I only lasted another half hour or so. My head hurt, I felt sick and out of sorts, and I wanted to go to bed. Maybe Evan would apologize, or even take it back, once we were alone and had a chance to talk?

He was asleep when I slipped into the bedroom, though. Not only was he asleep, he was whimpering, his face twitching and contorting. Some kind of nightmare. Half-remembered advice about not waking someone from a dream conflicted with my desire to rescue him from whatever was happening to him inside his own mind. A tremble ran through him, and he whimpered louder, a closed-mouth restrained cry, really. He sounded anguished and afraid.

“Shh,” I said, gingerly placing my hand on his huge round deltoid, a hot boulder covered in soft velvet. “Shhh.”

“Please,” he muttered, sleep-talking. “Don’t leave me, don’t leave, don’t…” then he whimpered again, but seemed to settle after, like whatever it was had passed. His face relaxed and he grew quiet.

I lay there, my hand on his shoulder, almost afraid to remove it, like maybe me touching him was what helped the nightmare pass. I remembered Thanksgiving night, when I heard him weeping through the walls. He’s not really going to school, but what other secrets is he still keeping?

I fell asleep like that, with one hand on his shoulder.

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“Merry Christmas, Atticus,” I heard a deep, warm voice rumble from a couple inches away.

“Nnngghaaah,” I moaned. Funny how for most of my life I’d be up at five a.m. on Christmas morning, too excited to hold myself back. When we were little, me and Emily would creep downstairs in the dark, the house quiet and cold, and see the big lumps of presents waiting under the tree. Santa came—the world was generous and kind. There was a benevolent power out there that could make your hopes, dreams, and desires come true. The stupid shit kids can believe.

I opened my eyes and saw Evan lying on his side, staring at me, his eyes bright and shining, an irrepressible smile on his face, his pecs bunched together under his chin. I was close enough to see the thin layer of stubble on his face, the simple bowed shape of his lips. A wild ache in my chest. He was so beautiful. It would be so easy to pretend he was mine, waking up next to him like this.

“Merry Christmas, Evan,” I groaned. I reached to my nightstand for my phone. 7:01.

“C’mon,” he said, getting out of bed. “I’m gonna make everyone breakfast, you can help me.”

And so I became his reluctant sous chef, doing my best not to fuck things up. Pancakes, bacon, eggs, coffee, thickly buttered toast. “Your sister and I went to the store yesterday while you were at work, and I picked up all this stuff. Not much of a present if I’m just using groceries your parents paid for. Plus I could splurge that way.” He waved a fancy thing of maple syrup at me and grinned with delight.

“Evan,” I said, groggily, keeping an eye on the pancakes, trying to judge best when to flip them. “This must have cost a bunch.” I glanced around, just to make sure. “I thought you were broke.”

Evan concentrated on the bacon frying in the pan. “Don’t worry about it,” he said. “Okay, we’re just about done here, let’s wake your folks. Emily already knows about it, she said she’d set an alarm herself.”

Of course Mom gushed over Evan’s surprise, and Dad grunted his approval over the bacon—in his world, liberals don’t eat bacon, so this was a strong indication to him that Evan was The Right Sort of Man. We almost felt like a happy family, the five of us eating this nice meal that the handsome, athletic, confident surrogate son had prepared.

Then it was on to gifts. Ever since we were little, Emily had designated herself as the elf who sat under the tree and handed out the gifts one by one. Midway through, she pulled a medium sized package out, glanced at the tag, announced “To: Atticus, From: Evan,” and passed it to me with a sly secret-sibling smile. This wasn’t a surprise to her, I realized.

My heart hammered. Evan’s gift to the family was breakfast, I thought. I unwrapped it. Evan watched, his face turning pink. He kind of gathered his big body up into himself, like he was nervous or something.

Inside there was… Fabric? I pulled it out. Two pairs of sweatpants, one grey one black. Three t-shirts and one tank top. And, at the bottom, two pieces of paper. I looked at him, and he nodded. “Read the paper.”

One slip was a six month gym membership. The other was a dorky, hand-drawn certificate for personal training sessions, infinite use, no expiry, sessions provided by Evan Michael Rossi, redeemable by Atticus Tyler Williams. Little cartoons of guys flexing along the border.

I looked back at Evan, who was looking at me, hopeful. “Do you like it?”

“Evan, I… yes, thank you.” I had to cut myself off. Stupid me, I think I might have cried if I tried to keep talking.

“I couldn’t spoil the surprise, now could I?” Evan said, his face breaking into a huge, relieved smile. “Merry Christmas, Atticus.”

 

Part 5

I had never been so sore in all my life than the day after our first workout. Lying in bed the next morning, I wasn’t sure I had the strength to rise. My thighs, my chest, my lats. All of them too small to even be properly perceived, externally, yet they dominated my awareness of the world, like a dizzying array of blinking neon signs made of pain.

I opened my eyes. Evan was up already, sitting in my desk chair, in his underwear, his laptop open in front of him, the room grey in the muffled morning light of winter. His side of the bed still dented from his weight, still smelling like him, still gently radiating his residual warmth. If he wasn’t sitting right there, I would have happily buried my face in that dip in the mattress and suffocated.

He didn’t realize I was awake, watching him through barely-opened eyes. He scrolled his laptop, engrossed, his torso illuminated by the blue glow of the screen, the big pecs crowned with the little nipples, the six bumps of his abs, the heavy hanging biceps twined with veins... My morning wood throbbed harder, taking some—just some—of the spotlight away from my aching muscles.

He held his chin in one hand, as if thoughtfully considering what he was seeing. The other hand idly scratched his balls through his underwear, making unthinking adjustments to his sleeping genitals. The scritch scritch scritch sound of his pubes as he scratched, clearly audible. He was all pale bulges, rounded shapes, bigger than any human has a right to be. His angular bedhead of dark hair, his alert, attentive eyes, drinking in whatever he was looking at on the screen. His perfectly shaped lips. Completely unselfconscious. Fuck, he was beautiful.

I saw the bulge he had been pawing at shift and move of its own volition, the cloth of his underwear pouch subtly tightening. Evan’s mouth parted as his rate of breathing increased. I couldn’t tell, too far away, but I’d bet $20 his pupils dilated. He reached down and groped himself again, a little more forcefully this time, visibly squeezing his cockhead between his thumb and his index finger, and then—curse my bad luck—he glanced toward the bed to make sure he was still unobserved.

“Oh! Morning,” he said, cheerfully, abandoning the brewing erection with no sense of shame or affront. Like it was no big deal that I’d caught him on the verge of masturbating. “Sore?”

I moaned dramatically and flopped over. “I’m never going to walk again.”

“Heh, well. The sooner you get moving the sooner it’ll ease off. Staying still is when it’s worst. Remember, we’re going again today, at 9. And then you have a shift at work. I’ll go get breakfast started. We need the calories. You get out of bed and drink lots of water.”

He hopped up, muscles flexing and re-arranging, turned his back to me, and jimmied himself into a pair of sweat pants, doing a little hop to pull them up over his enormous ass. I almost swallowed my tongue watching his glutes bounce and flex. “Up!” he said once again, grinning at me, as he waddled out the door and down the stairs. I could feel the vibrations in the floor as he went.

Fuck, I was really sore. What was he looking at that had him grabbing his junk, though? My eyes were bleary from sleep. His laptop was still open. The screen still glowing. It would go dark soon, though. I didn’t have much time. I painfully hauled myself out of bed, my knees threatening to buckle under me as my thighs protested, and hobbled my way over.

I listened carefully. Evan was audibly making us a bodybuilder’s breakfast in the kitchen, and if he decided to come back up, I’d hear him on the stairs with ample time to react… Emily was in her room, and she would be asleep til ten or eleven, at least. Mom and Dad had their master bedroom on the ground floor, an unusual quirk of our house. A later addition to turn the two bedroom into three. They didn’t go upstairs all that often, a fact I was regularly thankful for.

I was all clear.

It was just a gmail inbox on the laptop screen. I shouldn’t invade his privacy… But I wasn’t interested in his private emails, I just wanted to know what turned him on. Is that so awful? Okay, maybe it is. I never claimed to be a good person, are you satisfied?

I quickly glanced at the other tabs Evan had open. Bingo. OnlyFans logo blaring out at me, one over. He must have just tabbed to gmail before he got up, trusting me not to snoop. My conscience jabbed at me, but I ignored it. I carefully navigated the cursor over to the OnlyFans tab and clicked.

I was braced for a bunch of hetero stuff. Girls. Bikini babes or whatever. Vaginas, I guess? I’d never really seen straight porn, okay? Just… I was preparing myself for bad news so that any and all surprises were good. I still believed Evan was probably a straight boy who didn’t know he was toying with both my heart and my cock. I needed to believe that all my wishful thinking was delusional, just to get through the day. Hope felt far too dangerous a flower to let bloom in my garden.

But the pleasant surprise wasn’t a feed of gay porn. Nope. He was on a single OnlyFans profile page, not a feed.

His own.

CollegeMuscle19
Help this big guy get even bigger! Erotic bodybuilding videos (solo) 6’1 275 pounds 19 yrs old 8” uncut

My heart started racing. I could only see the two most recent post without scrolling.

The first was text under a selfie, him in a tight black t-shirt, behind the wheel of his car, flexing a bicep and grinning at the camera. I recognized the parking lot outside my Starbucks—waiting to pick me up from a shift, maybe? The text was an apology for taking two weeks off without posting new content, due to unforeseen circumstances. I glanced back at my—our—bed. I guess those were the unforeseen circumstances. Can’t really make movies for OnlyFans when you don’t have a room of one’s own.

The second was a video. Emily’s bedroom was unmistakable in the background, but only to me. To Evan’s credit, he seemed to take care to make sure nothing overly identifiable was in frame—I just knew that room inside-out, is all.

What was in frame, though, was, well. Him. Veiny cock in one hand, the other arm flexing his bicep, cocky grin on his face, big round pecs hanging heavy, big triangular play button emblazoned over them like a superhero chestpiece. 471 likes, 37 comments. Evan was very, very popular, it turned out. No wonder he had been able to afford those gifts. I drank it in. I’d only seen the suggestion of his cock through his underwear before. It exceeded the promise of the bulge—Evan was hung. I guess the 8” thing wasn’t an empty boast. Gorgeous, uncut, foreskin half-pulled back, tight on a plump head.

The top comment was automatically displayed under that video. It was from some user named Mateo. It said “Fuck, you’re blowing up! That Mutant Juice is treating you real well ;) Let’s see 300 before your bday, big guy.”

My finger itched to hit play, to watch. Or to scroll down and see what else was here. Had he done any, well… collaborations? With men or with women? The question of what he was, sexually, still rankled me.

But this was too dangerous, and also, too, well… wrong. I returned to his gmail inbox, trying to position the cursor exactly where it had been before I touched it. I stepped away from the computer, my heart pounding, and began the arduous task of getting dressed. Guilt throbbed in my heart even as Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness throbbed in every other part of my body.

But of course I also memorized Evan’s username and resolved to have a good, long, close look at it later.

And just what the fuck was “Mutant Juice,” anyway?

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Finding time to investigate Evan’s OnlyFans was tough, it turned out. Evan was stuck at home until he could pretend that class had started again, and I was his only company. The only time I got away from him was at Starbucks, and I couldn’t very well leisurely browse porn while on a busy shift.

Evan and I watched movies, played video games, went for drives, hung out with my sister when she wasn’t with her friends. In fact, the three of us made a nice trio. We did a bunch of things in the nine days that remained of Emily’s visit. We went skating after dinner on the 29th, for example. Emily had gone pretty far as an amateur figure skater in her teens, and I was decently good at it, but Evan, California boy, had never been on a pair of ice skates before, and it was like watching an elephant trying to tap dance. Hilarious, cute, and weirdly sexy to see this muscle freak of a man hobble around so awkwardly. He landed on his butt many times, big heavy arms clumsily windmilling as he went down, but, like Emily and I reassured him, he had plenty of padding back there, so not to worry. We laughed and got hot chocolate. So wholesome.

But OnlyFans nagged at my mind. As the days went by, I felt more and more like… maybe I shouldn’t look at it. I felt guilty for having snooped. Maybe I should pretend I hadn’t, try to erase the memory. Despite his obvious comfort with near-nudity, Evan never took his underwear off around me, and I should respect that. No matter how much I obsessed over his thick ass, his veiny cock, his heavy balls…

A part of me dared to hope I might see them in real life, and I felt a little sad I had spoiled the surprise of that first reveal. Like peeking at your Christmas presents in early December. Foolish thoughts. As if that would ever happen.

After a couple of days, I decided I would ignore my discovery. Evidently, Evan was making enough money from OnlyFans that he didn’t have to worry. Good for him. The way he acted, tricking my family into taking him in was the only option he’d had, last summer—he had to escape what his home had become, but he didn’t have the money to afford it. Now, he had that money, or at least I assumed he did. Did that mean he’d be moving out soon? Not like I could ask him without admitting I’d snooped on his laptop.

But it’s easier to create porn for the internet when you’ve got a place of your own, after all. And he wouldn’t have to worry about his lies being discovered by my Mom and Dad. So he should move out, as soon as he can afford it, right?

And. Well. That was a dismaying thought. But did I really think he’d just move into my family home permanently? Did I really think he was my new sexy step-brother? And that was how it’d be forever? That was so fucking stupid of me, but yeah, part of me did kind of think that.

I forgot about OnlyFans, but I did google “Mutant Juice,” though. That comment from Mateo, talking about how the Mutant Juice would have him over 300 pounds before his birthday. It was just some supplement. I could have guessed that, I suppose. “Mateo” was probably a spambot, probably not a guy at all. The Mutant Juice website made some wild claims, and had some clearly photoshopped models hawking their wares. Just silly and unbelievable before and afters. A lot of snake oil salesmen in the fitness world, I guess. No one could be that big—they made Evan look like an anemic bookworm.

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After we got back from skating, Emily got dressed up for a night out with her girlfriends, and Evan and I relaxed in my bedroom, watching a movie on my computer, eating popcorn in our pyjamas—or boxer-briefs and tank-top, in his case. He made us both protein shakes before the show, and paused the movie halfway through to run downstairs and get both of us yet another meal of chicken and rice. He was really focused on making sure I was doing this muscle growth thing right, and every now and then, when I hadn’t had a forkful for a few minutes, he’d softly yet insistently say “eat.” A simple one-word command that I was powerless to resist.

After the movie, we got ready for bed, turned in, and went to sleep. Evan told me that after food, sleep was the most important part of growing muscles. You can’t grow if you don’t get enough sleep. And we were due in the gym at 7:00 the next morning, thanks to an earlier start at work later that day. My adolescent nighthawk tendencies had to be severely reformed. And Evan was just the man for the job. When he said eat, I ate. When he said sleep, I slept. When he said lift, I lifted. He was remaking me, slowly, inevitably.

Yeah, it was hot.

At some point during the night I woke, disoriented. I felt something warm against me. Solid, Enveloping me. It was snowing outside. The world was muffled. It took me a moment to realize.

Evan was holding me in his sleep. His huge muscle body was enveloping me. I felt his skin on my skin, his breath, his warmth, his smell, his… him. Stiffly poking my scrawny little hamstrings.

I became terrified of moving. He’d wake up. He’d break the embrace. And I wanted this to last… so long. Forever. I wanted time to stop right here and never resume.

The erection between my legs throbbed with such intensity, I worried I’d cum without even touching myself. Just the flexing of my cock would be enough to drive me over the edge.

Then I felt Evan’s mouth against the nape of my neck. Lips just gently brushing against my skin. Rapid shivers of pleasure raced through my body. He wasn’t kissing me. Our contact was microscopic. Electric. Arcs of intense pleasure closing the circuit.

I couldn’t help it. I whimpered. I trembled.

Almost as if by reflex, Evan reacted by tightening his grip, pulling me closer into him. His lips were fully pressed against the back of my neck now, no gentle feathery touch.

And then he kissed the back of my neck, tenderly, lovingly, slowly, as he held me against him. I don’t know how long he kissed me. At least fifteen or twenty seconds. It felt like hours. I felt him throb against me. I felt myself throb. I was going to ruin these sheets any second.

Then he made a contented grunting sound, wiggled a little as if trying to burrow deeper into the mattress, sighed, and began faintly snoring, his breath hot against my skin. Using me as a fucking body pillow. Now that I minded at all, you understand.

I teetered on the precipice of orgasm for god knows how long, but I didn’t cum. I can’t tell you if I was happy or sad about that.

I have no idea how I fell back asleep, but somehow, it happened. When I woke up, he was back on his side of the bed, a mountain taking up most of the sheets, his mouth hanging open adorably. Like it hadn’t happened. But it had. I was sure of it. It hadn’t been a dream.

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Mom and Dad really wanted Evan to start coming to church with us on Sundays, and had tried to convince him to do so at multiple family dinners over the fall. He’d always resisted, made excuses. But my parents had him cornered, now. I couldn’t say no, they traipsed me out there any Sunday I didn’t have a shift at work, the dutiful son. Even Emily, our rebellious wild child, understood it would massively torch her social capital to try and fight Mom and Dad on this. So Evan had to either come up with some reason he was busy on those Sundays during Christmas, or he had to take a cue from me and my sister and play along as best he could.

Evan really didn’t have anything like church-appropriate clothes. He’d brought a few ‘nice’ articles of clothing with him when he moved in back in late August, but he’d gained more than 30 pounds of muscle since then. He tried on one shirt in front of me. I almost came in my pants as he stood there, goofy grin on his face, joints stiff from the screamingly tight fabric. Then he flexed and the cloth loudly ripped as his massive muscles erupted through the seams. “Wish I had filmed that,” he said to himself as he pulled the rags free from his body.

So we made a quick trip to Wal-Mart. Evan was now wearing a pair of size 44 camel pants that barely fit his thighs and ass but which pooled with endless loose fabric around his waist, sloppily cinched by a belt, and a polo clearly meant for a very obese man, judging by the way the shirt billowed around his waist, even when tucked into the belt—yet Evan’s arms still filled the sleeves like sausage casings.

“Sorry, Evan,” Emily said as the three of us drove along in her car, on our way to the service. At least our parents had been content for us to take two vehicles. I think they had the same idea I did—that maybe there was something brewing between Emily and Evan—and I think they cautiously approved. Evan’s performance during the service today would probably go a long way to encouraging or demolishing that opinion. So letting the two lovebirds drive together was good, and having me along for the ride as a chaperone to ensure it didn’t get too sinful was also good. “Are you even religious at all?” she asked as we waited at a red light.

“Not really. Most of my life we weren’t anything. I guess Dad was Catholic, Italian surname and all that. But his mom, my grandma, was actually Japanese. His side of the family were just like… low key don’t care about organized religion. My understanding is Grandma and Grandpa Rossi both kind of burned bridges with their families to get together—Italian boy and Japanese girl in the 1960s, not that common. But yeah, Dad’s family weren’t the kind of folks to put much value in tradition.” Huh. Evan was one-quarter Asian. I hadn’t realized. Now that I knew, I guess I could see it in him, subtly. He shifted in the front passenger seat—obviously the big guy was stuffed up there, it would feel cruel of me to ever call shotgun when Emily took us anywhere. “As for Mom… after Mom and Dad split up, Mom kind of got into like… multi-level-marketing spirituality, if you get my drift? Sending money to strangers and expecting spiritual rewards from it. Complete nonsense. Whatever we’re in for today, can’t be worse than that.”

“Just pretend to pay attention and don’t react if someone says something outrageous,” I offered from the back seat.

“Is someone going to say something outrageous? Christmas service wasn’t bad at all.”

“Probably, yeah. Christmas service is basically a variety show. This is a lot more, uh, intense. And bad.”

“So bad,” Emily echoed grimly.

“Okay. Well, I’ve got a pretty good poker face,” Evan said. Emily took her eyes off the road for a brief moment to shoot him a ‘it’s cute that you think that’ look, which he seemed to completely miss.

And sure enough, the sermon was awful, and it dragged on. I could feel Evan shifting next to me. I occasionally caught Emily’s eye, on the far side of him; it felt like the two of us were on a ‘get Evan through this, the poor innocent dear’ team. Mom and Dad were to my other side. The other church people eyed our family openly, with our XXXL new addition very obvious. I wondered what sort of gossip they’d concoct about Evan. I didn’t really care, but there was very little else for me to do, and I certainly wasn’t going to tune into the sermon, which, I am so sorry to inform you, was on the topic of drag and grooming and the LGBTQIA+++ menace to society. Now that Christmas had yet again—somehow!—survived the annual assault against it by the Woke Mob, the fearmongers and bigots had to find a new thing to whip the crowd up, and degenerate homos were next on the menu.

I could feel Evan tense next to me. He didn’t have my practice at letting this rhetoric slide off his back. I noticed Emily subtly reach out and squeeze his hand. The mostly-dead embers of my jealousy did threaten to flare, but even an idiot like me could see she was trying to anchor him and help him endure the spectacle of hate parading as piety in front of us, which we simply… had to accept without question or comment or protest. There was no fucking way I could make a similar move in this room, no matter how stealthy. A man giving another man’s hand a reassuring squeeze? Safer to tightrope walk the Grand Canyon with no training. And one of us had to steady him.

I let my mind wander while keeping my eyes forward and my head up and still, a skill long honed from just such scenarios. I wondered if Emily hadn’t been there throughout my childhood, if I would have just accepted all this hateful nonsense as true, and how that would have twisted me as I fought against my own nature. Sure, I was still a closet case, but at least I knew myself, at least I wasn’t at war with who I was.

I didn’t recognize it at the time, but now I did. All through our childhood, Emily pushed me to think for myself, gave me counter-examples, exposed me to ideas that ran contrary to the narrow worldview being violently imposed in this room on a weekly basis. Thank fucking god, should a deity really exist, for my older sister.

But where did she get it from? How was she such a free-thinker with an unbreakable will of her own? I could almost hear her sardonic response: because I’m an Aquarius, duh. My mouth quirked slightly before I regained control of my face. Probably only ten or fifteen minutes to go.

Finally, it was over. But there was no escape—we had to endure the post-service coffee social for at least fifteen or twenty minutes. Running for the exit right away would be rude, and was therefore impossible. Was it rude that I had to sit still for an hour and listen to a full-frontal assault on my identity, with open calls for people like me to be driven out of society? No no, of course not. But god fucking forbid I don’t stick around and having coffee and an apple square with these people for ten minutes. That would have been wrong of me..

Evan looked miserable in his comically ill-fitting clothes, cornered by the coffee machine, being interviewed by a scrum of church ladies in their pastel dresses and fancy hats. So much for his poker face. I could hear them as I approached. “You must play football with a build like that!” “It’s so good you managed to escape California, I hear it’s mob rule in the cities out there, you’re so much better off here.” “Oh, my daughter is taking classes at the college too, let me call her over and introduce you, it can be so hard to make friends in a new place.”

“Evan,” I said, raising my hand to him. His eyes met mine, and they all but screamed help me. “Emily’s car is having some sort of problem, come have a look at it.”

“Excuse me, ladies,” Evan said, trying to gracefully manoeuvre his way free, his big muscle ass almost knocking over the coffee urn. “I believe my very gracious hosts need me.”

I led him out of the room. He leaned in close to me. “I don’t know jack shit about cars, Atticus,” he said softly.

I shot him a quick flat look, but waited for us to be in the hallway leading to the parking lot before I whispered incredulously “Em’s car is fine, Evan.”

“Oh. Oh.“ He had the grace to look embarrassed. “Sorry. I just… god. My brain is like soup after all that. How do you put up with this? Every week?”

“Oh, those ladies know every single detail about me, down to how yellow my pee was this morning. They’re no longer interested in me, they leave me alone and wonder why I don’t have a girlfriend yet. But you’re a puzzle, a mystery, and they consider it their business to know everything about everyone.”

Evan frowned. He looked hurt. “No, not that. The… the other stuff.”

“The sermon?”

“Yeah.”

I shrugged and pushed the door open. Outside, it was a clear, sunny day, cold for this part of the world, yet so much warmer than the well-heated room we had just escaped in the ways that really mattered.

“You just do. You get numb. You just… realize that the world is like that. Can’t change it.”

Emily was already leaning against the car. She gave a relieved wave as we approached.

“Hostage successfully extracted, commander,” I said when we got close enough.

“Great. Let’s get out of here before they find a lasso big enough to fit over this one’s neck and wrangle him back in,” Emily said, unlocking the car and climbing behind the wheel.

The drive back was quiet, though. Evan spent most of it looking out the window. Whatever his thoughts were, he was keeping them to himself.

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Evan and I were only sharing a bed for twelve nights, and they were rapidly slipping by. I spent most of my days yawning and bleary-eyed, because I would lie awake and watch him sleep in the half-lit gloom, instead of sleeping myself. His peaceful face, his huge body. I’d inhale deeply through my nostrils and smell him, feel the unbelievable warmth radiating off his body, the way my mattress tilted toward him, like I was caught on the lip of a gravity well.

Sometimes before turning in for the night, we’d lie on the bed next to each other and play on our phones, showing each other stupid TikToks and memes and whatever that made us laugh. Remembering our drunken cuddle session and that deeply tender nocturnal back-of-the-neck kiss, I’d slowly, slyly inch closer, until my head was nestled on his big delt, or against his pillowy left pec. We were nice and snuggled up. He didn’t seem to mind. Sometimes, he’d idly play with my hair for a few seconds before returning to his phone. I could feel his breathing, feel myself slowly rising and falling to its rhythm.

I felt so happy during these moments that I don’t know how I could stand it.

Of course, we couldn’t close the bedroom door, that would have been immensely suspicious. But I kept my ears open, and the moment I heard a footstep on the stairs I would shoot over to my side of the bed, create a generous safe buffer zone between us. Thankfully, that only happened two or three times.

It was our last night sharing the room. Emily was going back to college tomorrow morning. This was potentially our final “friendly” cuddle session. Maybe that’s what made me finally get brave.

“Hey, Evan, how… how big do you think I can get?”

He shifted a little. “Hard to say, Atticus. Depends on if you stick with it. It’s not like there’s a simple equation. It’s a years-long process.”

“Let’s say I stick with it.”

He shrugged again. “I still can’t really say, dude. Can’t tell the future.” He could sense my dissatisfaction. I could feel his chest flex and twitch as he started working on his phone. “Hold on.” After a few seconds had passed, he handed me his phone. It was displaying a picture.

“This was May of last year, I’m like 215 in this photo,” he said as I examined the image. It was Evan, all right. Smaller, but still sturdily built, athletic. Handsome. Looking nervous, though. Out of his element.

He was standing next to a jaw-dropping monster of a man in a skin-tight black tanktop and black booty shorts. He had dark hair and a beard, handsome, but his face was the last thing I noticed. Unthinkable thighs exploded out to both sides from the legs of the shorts, which were practically twin tourniquets. His arms were comically elevated by lats, which simply refused to let them be lowered. His inflated delts and traps gave him an outlandish, exaggerated appearance, a cartoon of masculinity, threatening to swallow up that handsome face. His biceps looked like they were attempting to burst out of their skin as he flexed his free arm, the other hand clasping Evan’s. I’ve known girls with waists smaller than those arms. Hell, I’ve known guys with waists smaller than those arms. This other man… he couldn’t be real.

“That’s Joe, one of the Mutant Juice Spokesmutants. He’s the one who gave me my first dose. I paid extra for that, even though I was trying to save up money to make a break for it. Worth it. They took this pic literally right after. I guess… I ought to have come clean to you sooner that I was on the Juice, no 19 year old can get this big without it.” He clearly sensed my confusion. “Spokesmutants. You know.”

“... no?”

“Atticus, have you… not been paying attention over the last couple years?” Evan took his phone back, opened his instagram feed, and began scrolling so that we could both see it. “All the big guys have just been blowing the hell up, bigger than what used to be possible, and there’s new mass monsters popping up every week. Let’s see.” He narrated as he scrolled through his feed. “That guy’s on the Juice for sure. Him too. Bullshit, bullshit, fake natty, keep meaning to unfollow him… ok, here we go. There’s Antoine. Fuck, look at the size of him. See the caption? 445 pounds, cripes. Another Spokesmutant.”

“I don’t understand.”

“Mutant Juice? It’s basically replaced steroids? Well, not replaced them. It works better if you use both of them, but the Juice is legal, at least for now, so lots of folks just use it alone. Still works wonders. You really don’t know what I’m talking about?”

I felt myself shrink, embarrassed by my ignorance.

Evan sighed. “Well. It’s a legal muscle building compound that came on the market like a year and a half ago, and it works incredibly well. It’s raised the ceiling for what kind of size can be achieved. There’s no way I’d be pushing 280 pounds months before my 20th birthday without it..”

“And it’s… safe?”

“Yeah, remarkably so. They’ve been itching for an excuse to ban it, but so far they haven’t been able to find any reason. Well, there’s one, potentially, but it’s so rare… never mind.” Evan shifted to look down at me, like he was unsure of how I was taking this.

“So… will I get to use this stuff too?”

Evan grinned, clearly relieved that I wasn’t going to give him a hard time. “It’s still tough to get your hands on, they just can’t make enough to satisfy demand, but… I do have a contact, you can probably cut the line. Might still take a few months.” His left hand dropped from his phone to my puny little baby delt and he gave it a fond squeeze. “Better if we build you up naturally as best we can first, anyway, so a little delay isn’t the end of the world. But yeah, if you want it… we can make that happen for you. If you really wanna see just how freaky huge we can blimp you up. I want that for you, you know. I wanna watch you just…” he held his hands close together, then shot them wide apart while making an exploding sound with his mouth. “Blow the fuck up.”

“Hey, Evan.” I could feel his breathing. It was faster, heavier. His skin felt hot to my touch.

“Yeah, Atticus?” His voice was lower, darker. I could taste the sexual excitement in it.

Visions of Joe and Antoine, these 450 pounds muscle freaks, floated through my mind. “How big can you get?”

My head bobbed as he gave out a little <I>heh</I> sound. “Let’s just say, I wanna take a sequel of that photo with Joe in a couple years, but by then, he’ll be the small one.”

I glanced down. Evan was hard as a rock, his big dick making a blatant tent in his shorts. I was too, of course. And Evan was looking down at my cock, and the tent in my pyjamas.

“You wanna see that, right, Atticus?” he breathed, reaching for my cock. He gave it a squeeze through my pyjama pants. “You wanna see me get so big I don’t fit through doors, huh?”

I moaned despite myself, trying to keep it quiet. Evan was squeezing my cock rhythmically now. “Y-yeah,” I stuttered, melting under his touch.

“Guess what I wanna see?” Evan answered, voice so low, so deep, so sexy.

“Wh-what?”

“I wanna see you get so fuckin’ big that you make me look like the small one.”

I whimpered helplessly, not able to formulate a response, as my erection, already one for the record books, strained to get even harder. Evan shifted, letting my head fall to the mattress. He tossed his phone to the floor and pulled my pyjama pants down. My dick popped free, reaching desperately toward the ceiling.

“Jeeezus, you’re hung,” he breathed as he brought his face closer to my dick. I could feel his hot breath on my quivering cock. “I thought I had a big one. This thing has gotta be ten inches at least. Fuck, Atticus, you’ve always been a big boy in one way. I wanna grow you a body to match this dick. Or more. Get your thighs so big this monster cock looks small.”

I could only whimper in reply as he slowly closed his mouth over my dick. Making eye contact with me, almost as if pleading, he slowly slid it down his throat, stopping at less than halfway as he gagged and pulled back a little.

Embarrassed, I reflexively tried to stop him, to apologize for almost making him puke, but he pushed me back down on the bed. “Shh.” Then he resumed working on my dick, focusing on the head, swirling his tongue around the corona, applying very strong suction to the sweet spot right on the underside of the dick, just below the head.

I looked down. He was working intently on my dick, his cheeks caving in from the suction. His spiky dark hair. His thick traps. He was propping himself up with an arm, and his bicep and tricep each bulged alarmingly, almost too much meat for the limb to handle. His big round pecs hanging so beautifully, bouncing slightly as he bobbed up and down my cock.

And he was going to get so much bigger. Bigger than Joe. Bigger than Antoine. 500 pounds? 550 pounds? 600 pounds? More? How much was even possible? Just how huge could Evan get?

How huge could I get?

Thank god some small part of my brain was still thinking about our long-term survival in this homophobic conservative household in a red state. I grabbed a pillow and stuffed my face into it a split second before I started pumping cum down Evan’s greedy throat. I couldn’t stifle my moans, my ragged heavy breathing, but at least the pillow probably meant it wasn’t audible downstairs, that we wouldn’t be discovered by my parents.

The moment passed, I removed the pillow and lay back, dazed, staring at the ceiling, my mind too fractured for thoughts. Evan crawled back up, grinned that stupid adorable puppy dog grin of his. Then he leaned in and kissed me.

 

Part 6

Evan broke the kiss after a few seconds, pulled back slightly, looked me in the eyes, as if hoping to see something there and finding it. “I’ve wanted to do that since the day I first pulled in your driveway,” he whispered.

I broke our eye-locked gaze to glance at the still-open bedroom door. This all felt risky as fuck, but as long as I kept my nervous squirrel reflexes honed and ready, the blessedly creaky stairs should provide enough warning for us to hastily rearrange the bedroom scene if need be.

What Evan said finally penetrated my mind. He wanted to do that since the day he moved in. That, that was unbelievable. “You’re joking,” I whispered, reflexively, feeling his hot, heavy body pressed against me, his gorgeous face so close to mine.

“Why would I joke about something like that?” Evan asked, earnest. Like he seriously had no clue as to why I might doubt it. He was so innocent, so pure, so good.

I stifled a laugh. “‘Cause I’m… I’m nothing. And you’re, you’re…” my hands roamed his ultra-wide shoulders, dense as concrete orbs, down his big bulging arms, far too large for my fingers to come even close to encircling. “You’re… all this.”

Evan closed his eyes, leaned his forehead against mine, and chuckled. “Well… if it helps convince you… I could do it again?”

I tried to say yes, but it came out as a sort of affirmative squeak. It did the job, though. His lips pressed against mine, gentle yet insisting. He kissed me every few words. “You are.” Kiss. “The most gorgeous.” Kiss. “Guy I’ve ever seen.” Kiss. “And you don’t even know it.” A final kiss, one that kept going and going as I felt myself become lightheaded.

God, his lips. They were so firm, strong yet yielding. We lay there, joined at the mouth, tongues exploring, dancing. He was all I could see, smell, taste. He filled my mind, and my body wouldn’t stop trembling. This was my first kiss. Well, second, I guess, the first was a minute ago. Or all those quick short ones—this was kiss number six, very technically speaking? Whatever. Call it the first. First kiss. Like, with anyone. Ever. I could never have dreamed of one so good. In fact, this all felt like a fantasy, like I’d jolt awake any second.

When we eventually pulled away from each other, I felt a strange calm, a certainty, a power, even. “Close the door,” I whispered. I would keep my ears on high alert, but I wanted to be a little freer to enjoy this last night together. Who cares if a closed door looks a little suspicious. Evan and I went to bed early so we can get to the gym tomorrow morning. There. An easy chaste heterosexual alibi. Oh, you heard some noises? Evan was showing me some stretches, they were really intense! I was ready to tell whatever lies I had to tell.

Evan nodded, hopped up. I almost choked watching him waddle over to the door, big round butt shifting and bouncing with each step, arms propped up on his lats. He couldn’t not strut, the width of his shoulders and his tiny waist required it. He gently shut the door, then turned back to face me, still lying on the bed. I drank him in. In his tank top and boxer shorts, big fat pecs threatening to bust out, delts freaky wide like overripe canteloupes, thick bulbous arms choked with prominent veins… and his handsome eager face, watching me, waiting for my next instructions.

I stood up and made my way over to him. “Lose the pants,” I said. I don’t know where this confidence, this command, came from. But Evan seemed to like it. He eagerly pulled his boxer briefs off, his big fat uncut cock flopping out, the same cock I’d spied on OnlyFans a few days ago. He was three quarters of the way to a hard-on; it bobbed lazily, defying gravity more and more with each heartbeat.

“Turn around.”

Evan obeyed promptly.

I got down on my knees, pulled those massive glutes apart, and buried my face there.

Of course I’d never done anything like this before. I’d never gone on a date. My first kiss was two minutes ago. But if Evan wanted to kiss me since the day he moved in, then I wanted to eat this ass just as long, and now I was determined to have my wish.

Look. Sex ed in our schools is very, very limited and fully heterosexual. How to eat ass was not covered. I guess some straight people do that too but whatever, not the point. I had no idea if I was doing it right, is the point. Evan’s crack– deep canyon, more like– was warm, sweaty, hairy, musky. My tongue found his hole and teased it; he jumped and shuddered and whimpered, so I pressed harder, further, tongue darting in and out, circling around. I was surprised at how sweet it tasted; I drooled like mad, desperate for more. I felt his circle of muscle tighten around my tongue, and it only made me push harder, deeper. I had a steady grip around his thighs, so big I had trouble reaching around them. I could feel him quake and tremble. He was leaning against the doorframe. I think if he didn’t have something to hold himself up, he might have collapsed, as I relentlessly devoured him from behind.

“Atticus,” he whimpered, pleading, helpless.

I was merciless. I didn’t care if I suffocated in there. I was going to eat him alive. I felt him twitching, flexing, straining, his back arching as I delved deeper, harder, faster, desperate with a hunger that only grew the more I fed.

“Atticus!” he softly cried, doing his best to keep the volume low. In that moment, I didn’t care if anyone heard him, though. I’d burn this entire fucking house to the ground without hesitation if that was the price for this moment. The object of my desires, my obsessions, my hopes, my fears, reduced to a quivering whimpering mess as I drove him mad with my tongue… I felt his whole body flex and stiffen, his joints lock, his breath catch in his throat. He started involuntarily bucking his hips, but I kept my iron grip around him, kept my face pushed deep into his ass as he thrusted.

A second later I felt something hot splatter on my left hand as Evan helplessly groaned, his glutes contracting hard, threatening to pop my head like a grape. Then I felt his entire body relax. He resumed breathing, hard and fast, like he’d just ran for his life and was safe now, barely.

I slowly pulled my face out of his ass and turned him around, looked up at him wonderingly. I should have known what had just happened, but the unreality of the entire situation had me uncertain of everything.

“I came,” he breathed, seeing my confusion.

I felt my brows knit together. “Hands-free?”

Evan nodded and swallowed. He looked overawed by the situation, too. “Uh huh.” His half-hard dick bobbed with every little movement, a thin thread of cum descending toward the floor from the tip, pearly in the dim light.

I raised my left arm, saw the white jelly drooling along the back of my hand. Without thinking, I raised it to my mouth and licked it clean. Instantly I regretted doing this, what if Evan thought it was gross or weird? I’d never been with anyone else, ever, remember. I don’t know what’s normal and what’s not.

But Evan let out a whimpering breath as he watched me do this. “That was hot,” he said.

I got up, uncertain about what to do now. We’d both had our orgasms. We’d ingested each other’s DNA. Do we compare notes? Rate each other’s performance? Update our spreadsheets? Talk about our feelings? Schedule brunch? What’s the protocol here?

Evan seemed to sense my hesitation and uncertainty. “C’mere,” he said, leading the way back to the bed. “Cuddle up.” The mattress squeaked and groaned mightily under his substantial weight as he climbed in.

We curled into each other, face to face, our limp dicks drooling ever so slightly onto our naked legs. Both of us still had our tank-top and pyjama shirt on, respectively. Bare-ass naked, but nipples covered. Something about that struck me as so funny, and I laughed about it, then felt silly explaining why I laughed. I felt exhausted yet energized, on the verge of sleep yet more awake than I had ever been before in my life. Delirious, that’s the word, I guess. I was delirious. I couldn’t stop staring into his eyes in wonder as we lay in the bed, gently holding each other. Couldn’t stop grabbing at his arms and shoulders, marvelling at how solid he was. How real. He couldn’t stop kissing me. I felt like my chest would split open from all the feelings crowding up inside it.

“Atticus,” Evan breathed, his voice thick, tightening his hold on me, inhaling deeply, staring into my eyes, his hands holding my face delicately, lovingly. “Atticus. Atticus. You have no idea how happy I am that I ran away from home.”

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At breakfast the next morning, Mom and Dad and Emily were at the table when Evan and I rolled up. Emily was hitting the road after we ate, and her bags were piled up by the door, ready to go. Evan would get his room back. It was a bitter thought, now, considering all those nights we could have been enjoying ourselves, sharing a bed, but hadn’t.

“Morning Mr Williams, Mrs Williams,” Evan said cheerfully as he started puttering in the kitchen, preparing the eggs and ground turkey and oatmeal that was his usual breakfast, and mine too, since we started going to the gym together. I slid into my usual seat at the kitchen table and glanced around at my family.

There was something vaguely formal about the seating situation, about my parents’ air. I felt the bottom drop out of my stomach. Had they heard us last night? Were we busted?

“Morning, son,” Dad said, addressing Evan, not me. I guess we were safe. Him calling Evan son was a very clear indicator. No son of my father’s would ever be a homo, a truth that was a ticking nuclear bomb in my life, sure to detonate one day– but not today.

Emily looked up from her cereal with a sly smile. She caught my eye and mouthed the word “finally.” I felt my face go crimson, which only made her smile wider. Mom and Dad were still in the dark, but Emily for sure knew everything.

Fuck me, the thin walls between our rooms. Of fucking course. I felt my face almost burn away as I tried to remember all the things Evan and I had said to each other last night, the horny talk that would be so cringe and ridiculous if any third party, let alone my sister, were to hear it.

If Mom and Dad wondered why I was blushing like a Florida sunset, they said nothing. I sat down and sipped my coffee until Evan put a plate in front of me then took his own seat with his own plate.

“This is more than usual?” I asked, unsure.

“Yep!” Evan said cheerfully. “Week two, upping your calories a bit. Gotta keep pushing.”

“You gonna turn my little brother into the Incredible Hulk?” Emily asked, teasing.

“Yes ma’am, that’s the plan,” Evan replied as he dug into the mountain of food on his own plate.

“I won’t recognize him when I come home for spring break! He won’t fit through doors. Green looks good on him, thank the lord,” Emily replied. I didn’t think it was possible, but my blush somehow intensified further. Emily absolutely heard everything last night.

“I’m so glad you’re taking Ty to the gym,” my mother chirped, either clueless to my distress or misunderstanding it as general embarrassment. “He needs it.”

“About time you manned up, Ty,” Dad chimed in. “It was part of God’s plan that brought Evan into this house.”

“I surely believe it, sir,” Evan replied, smiling innocently at me. My mind flashed back to me, face buried between those huge glutes, tongue probing his twitching and quivering hole while his cock sprayed. God’s plan, indeed.

Mom glanced between Emily and Evan, I noticed. Probably wondering what else was part of God’s plan for Evan and this family. Yep. My parents for sure thought something was budding there. Honestly, good. It would provide cover. Disguise what was actually happening.

After breakfast, the family gathered outside to see Emily off. She hugged each of us in turn, Evan first, as my parents looked on approvingly. She whispered something in his ear, then giggled and pushed him away to embrace my father and my mother. She saved me for last, and our hug was the longest and the tightest.

“Come see me in the city this April. Bring your boyfriend,” she whispered in my ear. My heart did a summersault with that last word.

“I love you, Emily,” I whispered back.

“I love you too, Ty, and don’t you forget it.”

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Atticus Progress Log

Week 1, Dec 27: 141 pounds, 33” waist, 36” chest, 11” arm

Week 3, Jan 17: 152 pounds, 32.5” waist, 37.25” chest, 12.25” arm (notes: big newbie gains!)

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The weeks that followed were deceptively normal, yet also utterly different from anything I’d ever experienced before. Life was the same. Work at Starbucks, church on Sunday, live in dread of my parents discovering their son was queer. Except life wasn’t the same at all. I was a gym rat now. I was eating like a bodybuilder now. I… well, only Emily had called him my boyfriend, and that was just the one time, but I had… whatever it was… with Evan. A boy liked me and I liked him back. That was really fucking new.

Evan took me to the gym five days a week, and I quickly became familiar with it. I learned how to do exercises, how to move my body. I became aware of my muscles, and how they move my joints, in a way I’d never even considered before. Honestly, anyone reading this who’s trying to bulk up– body literacy! That’s what they mean by ‘mind muscle connection’! Evan made me execute these movements slowly, deliberately, making sure I felt them the way I ought to. “You’re not training the movement, you’re training the muscle!”

If I was by myself, I probably would have put the weight down whenever it started to hurt, but Evan demanded I keep going, until I literally couldn’t move the weight at all. “Failure,” he called it. You need to “go to failure” to grow. I thought it was kinda funny. The only way to succeed is by failing over and over and over. Kinda profound as a concept, actually.

And the food! All my life I just ate what I wanted, when I wanted it. Now I had to make sure I ate enough every day, and enough of the right sort of food. Evan started sending me to my shifts at Starbucks with tupperware containers of meals– he was adamant that snacking on the fare we sold wasn’t an acceptable substitute for proper muscle-building meals.

The results became apparent with shocking speed. In mid-January, I was brushing my teeth, and I noticed my tricep shifting with the motions of my hand. I called Evan in and he grinned with pride at me as I flexed my little baby arm, trying to ignore how his massive meat-suffocated limb still dwarfed it.

He grabbed me after a minute and pulled me into a deep kiss, his strong calloused hand gripping and squeezing my tricep. “Minty,” he remarked, as I was still midway through brushing my teeth. He grinned excitedly, and I felt his dick harden and poke my thigh. “Proud of you. This is just the start,” he said, stepping back, obvious tent in his pants.

I wanted to toss my toothbrush in the sink and tackle him right then and there, but I could hear Mom and Dad watching Tucker Carlson downstairs, so I settled for reaching out and giving his dick a quick squeeze through his shorts. “Just the start,” I repeated, smirking, visions of what I might look like in a year, two years, five years dancing in my head. The promise of Mutant Juice dangled in front of me. These “newbie gains,” as Evan called them, were nice, but he warned me they’d slow down any day now. I couldn’t wait to get that magical muscle growth supplement in me. I couldn’t wait to really start blowing up.

“Soon,” Evan would always say when I asked him for updates, for any idea when I might be able to start. “I’m waiting to hear back from my guy.” I was so impatient, I tried to give him the benefit of the doubt. There was no reason why he’d want to hold me back, right?

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In the house, we had to find little moments to steal for us to be affectionate with each other. We were always on red alert, knowing that one false move would bring the apocalypse down on our heads.

We were very careful even outside the house, as well. Evan still picked me up after work when I closed. Occasionally he’d also pick me up when I got off in the afternoon, but I insisted that was too risky. He was supposedly at school across town. Evan pulling into the driveway with me in the passenger seat at 3 pm would just look too suspicious. Mom only had two days a week in the office, and Dad’s gig had him working unpredictable hours.

But those nights when I walked out of Starbucks and into Evan’s car… I began asking for closing shifts just to get more of them. Not that they were simple, mind. We agreed it was too risky for us to be affectionate in public. My hometown is properly a small city, big enough that we were probably safe, but you never know who might spot us. It just takes one person from church seeing me give Evan a peck on the cheek, and then it’s all over.

So we kept our hands to ourselves… mostly. I’d climb into the passenger seat, Evan would smile at me, then he’d reach over, as if to shift into drive, but he’d give my thigh a quick affectionate squeeze before gripping the stick shift. Then his car temporarily had two stick shifts, because my dick would rocket to a full erection, and I saw no reason to try to hide it. In fact, it was kinda fun to tease him with my big tentpole as he pulled out of the parking lot– I wasn’t too concerned. Evan couldn’t stop raving about how hung I was, still sometimes seemed stunned by the sheer size of my schlong– to the point I sometimes wondered if he was playing it up a bit? Anyway, despite the fact that apparently I’m mega-hung, I doubt the head of my erect cock rose so high you could see it through the car window. One time Evan actually did grab it by pretend-mistake, looking down in mock-shock, giving it a couple firm through-the-fabric strokes. “Why won’t it change gears?” he said with faux-innocence. Cornball.

Then we’d drive. Evan was too dedicated to our bodybuilding progress to treat us to fast food except on special occasions. But he usually had protein shakes for us, and we’d sip on them as we drove around town, listening to music, talking, enjoying the chance to be our true selves for an hour. It was Us Time. We’d glance at each other, horny as hell, desperate for each other’s touch, but daring to do little more than occasionally rest a hand on the other’s knee as we went along.

Evan would drive us to an empty parking lot in the office park, swing his car around back of the building, stop in the shadows, cut the engine, kill the lights. Then he’d look at me, both of us in the shadows, barely visible. Breathing heavy. He’d say “fuck, you’re beautiful,” then dive across the car and lock lips with me, hard, his big calloused hands roaming my body as our tongues wrestled and we panted. Awkwardly mashing each other’s straining erections. Occasionally letting our cocks out for proper handjobs, but always aware we might need to put them away with a moment’s notice.

One time we actually did get caught. A cop car pulled in a few minutes after we’d parked. “Fuck!” I yelped, pulling back, straightening myself up, my heart hammering, my entire body full of dread. The cop car’s headlights cut a swath through the interior of Evan’s car as it rounded the building. Had we been spotted, even in silhouette?

Evan also quickly composed himself, but he seemed very casual and easy in his manner when he rolled down the window as the cop approached.

“Evenin’, officer,” he said, his voice just slightly tinged with a very authentic-sounding southern drawl which I knew was utterly alien to a California boy like him.

“Hell, son, you’re a biggun.” The officer hadn’t meant to say that, but Evan’s freakishly huge muscles made him go off script. He recovered fast, though. “Evenin’, fellas. I spotted you boys pull in here and I just want to make sure you’re not up to no trouble.”

My heart was pounding, trying to get out of my ribcage, but Evan was smooth and cool. “No trouble at all, officer. My buddy here, he’s got some bad girl trouble, and we just came out here for him to talk it out in private. If that’s a problem, we can move on…”

The policeman gave no indication if he bought Evan’s story or not. “You really talkin’ ‘bout girl trouble, sittin’ out here in the dark, boys?” Oh fuck, he knows. To my mind, young men would only seek out the cover of darkness for one thing: to do freaky gay shit with each other.

“This ol’ hunk of junk, the battery drains real quick if I let the lights run,” Evan said, neither too quickly nor too slowly. “Last thing I want is for her not to start when it comes time to head on home.”

The policeman leaned into the window and took a few long, hard sniffs. He glanced at the mostly-empty shaker cups from our protein-shakes. “Well, I don’t smell any marijuana or alcohol. You make sure advice is the only thing you give your buddy here, you get me? I’ll let you off with a warning. Don’t stick around here too long, you hear me?” He stepped back, then shook his head in disbelief as he took a final look at Evan. “Damn, son, you make Arnold look like Justin Bieber. Never seen muscles like that in my life.”

Then he turned and slowly sauntered to his squad car, got in, and drove off.

I felt myself break into a cold sweat. “Oh thank fucking god,” I exclaimed. “I thought we were fucked.”

Evan took a long slow breath, then shook out his body. “We might have been, you never know with a cop. But we’re two white boys, or close enough, so they’re a lot more likely to give us the benefit of the doubt. I figured he was mostly concerned about pot or booze, and sure enough. I don’t think the idea of us making out even crossed his mind.” He shrugged, his massive shoulders mounding up. “They never think gay guys are gonna have muscles. Small town morons.” There was some bitterness in his voice there, but also, I noted, it was the first time I’d ever heard Evan refer to himself as gay.

I looked out the passenger window at the blackness of night, the squat, depressing office building we’d hidden behind barely visible. I frowned, unable to get back into the mood. “I hate living here,” I said.

Evan was quiet. He’d already run away from home, so I guess he could relate, but I sensed there was something more to it than that. Maybe he was reflecting on how he’d left behind a very progressive, gay-friendly area for a very conservative, gay-unfriendly area. “It won’t be forever,” he said finally.

I scoffed. “Well, I’ve got to start working on my community college application for the fall. Gotta stay close to home.”

“Says who? Why not leave? Apply to the same school Emily’s going to.”

I had a sour feeling in the pit of my stomach. I knew what Evan was trying to do, but for some reason I felt resentful about it. But why? Why the hell did I feel so bound to stay in a small town where I’d never be able to be myself? To never move more than five miles away from parents who did not know the real me, and who would disown me if they ever did? Why couldn’t I dream of a better future, why couldn’t I work toward it?

I wasn’t going to find the answers to those questions any time soon. Definitely not tonight. That cop had utterly ruined the vibe. “Let’s just go home,” I said eventually. Evan was silent, but he took a moment before turning the car’s ignition, like he was about to say something, but then didn’t.

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“I was talking with your mother this morning, Evan,” my Mom breezily announced over dinner one late January day. I almost choked on my food. But Evan didn’t seem surprised or dismayed at all.

“Wow, Mom’s usually so busy, I’m surprised you were able to pin her down,” Evan said. “I think she took empty nest syndrome as a personal challenge.”

“I surely did get that impression. Barb was always a goer. Oh, you should have seen some of her projects she did for the sorority, back in the day. Just endless energy. Nice to know some things never change. Anyway, she was telling me you’ve taken quite a shine to both my children.” Mom beamed, clearly proud that her kids looked good in Barb’s eyes.

Evan ducked his head and blushed very adorably. “What can I say, Mrs. Williams? I never had siblings. It feels a little bit like I do now, and I admit I like it. I’ve come to think of Atticus here like a brother.” Evan was sitting to my right, and as he said this he brushed his big muscular thigh against mine, subtly, unseen by my parents. Cocky asshole, I thought, not unfondly.

“I asked her for some pictures from her Hawaiian anniversary, but she left me high and dry.”

“Oh, well, you might be waiting a little while for those if she didn’t send them right away.” I could sense Evan falter slightly. His Mom and Dad had divorced several years ago, but that’s not the story he told my parents. Evan confessed to me the Hawaiian anniversary hadn’t been a planned deception– he had to quickly invent a reason why he wasn’t going home for Christmas, and that was the best lie he could come up with on the spot.

I tried to keep my face calm and smooth, like Evan, but inside I was panicking. If my Mom had asked Evan’s very divorced Mom about her non-existent anniversary trip to Hawaii, then Evan’s entire deception was just one freakin’ text message away from totally unravelling. How could he be so cool and collected?

“What do you mean by that?” Mom asked, confused. “Pardon me for saying it, but Barb was never all that modest. She must want to show off a trip like that.”

“Mom’s so distractable, I swear she’s got undiagnosed ADHD, you might never see those pictures. She doesn’t mean to be rude, she’s just always losing track of things like that. Meaning to do something but not actually doing it. Made for a pretty unpredictable childhood!” Evan was aiming for jocular but he couldn’t keep the bitterness fully out of his voice. I sensed there was some real frustration and trauma woven into his deception. Also, I felt like this lie of his was… weak. ‘Mom won’t send you any pictures because she forgets to do stuff.’ I could feel the ice under us, how thin it was.

“I just can’t imagine having your 25th wedding anniversary in Hawaii and not taking a single picture!” Mom marvelled, shaking her head.

Evan laughed. I guess it was convincing to everyone else at the table. “Oh she took them, I’m sure. Whether she’ll remember to send them, that’s the question. She doesn’t mean to be rude, it’s just how she is.”

Mom seemed to accept this. Dad sat silent and a little sulky the whole time, checked out of the conversation. I thought he was off in his own world, but he must have taken notice of me, because, after a brief lull, he unexpectedly spoke up.

“You’re filling out, Ty. Finally getting a pair of shoulders on you. You’re doing good work, Rossi,” he said, addressing Evan like he was a coach addressing his star quarterback.

I squirmed, not sure how I felt about this positive paternal attention. “No false modesty, Atticus. Your Dad’s right. You’re starting to get a serious pair of arms on you, too,” Evan said, grinning at me. The smarmy fucker, flaunting our kink right in front of Mom and Dad and them none the wiser. “He’s put on 10 pounds since Christmas, sir, and he’s leaner now than he was then. He should be benching his bodyweight for reps before Easter, for sure, even if he puts on another 25 between now and then..”

Dad seemed pleased. “Too late for football, but better late than never. Keep it up, son.” This time, to my surprise, he was addressing me.

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A couple hours after dinner, I found Evan in his room, door open, playing Hades on his laptop in a tanktop and shorts, the same nocturnal uniform he wore during those charmed twelve nights of Christmas when we shared a bed. He kept his room door open a lot more, since Christmas, and I typically took it as an invitation to hang out, although we never let our guard down much. A lot of Mario Kart, only occasional kisses or brief bouts of frottage.

I ducked into his room and sat on the edge of his bed, watching him battle his way out of hell. He pulled the headphone can off his left ear and grinned at me briefly. “Hey stud,” he half-whispered.

“You’re not… freaking the fuck out?” I asked quietly. He took a slightly longer look at me, paused the game, and took his headphones fully off.

“Why should I be?”

“My Mom was talking to your Mom! She asked her about that fake-ass Hawaiian anniversary trip!”

“Shhh! Not so loud. Yeah, yeah, I know. She wasn’t talking to my mom.” Evan’s smile became devilish. He stood up. Fuck, he was getting freaky big, just watching him move, it was hard to think straight. He’d put on a dozen pounds since Christmas, at least. It was like his body was running out of places to slab on the excessive muscle he continually forced it to grow.

He waddled over to his nightstand and pulled out an old flip phone. “Say hi to my mother, Atticus,” Evan said, waving the phone back and forth jovially. Then he pitched his voice comically high, Mrs Doubtfire style. “Oh, helllooo Atticus! So nice to finally meet you! My son just won’t shut up about how great you are! I think he has a crush on you!

I gave him a flat look. “You don’t use that voice to try and trick my mother, I hope. She’s not an idiot.”

Evan scoffed. “No, of course not. My ‘mother’ only texts. She’s in meetings all the time, you know. Simply can’t take social calls!”

“So… you got a burner phone and use it to pretend to be your mom.”

“Yep. Burner phone, fake email address… I’ve been corresponding with your Mom, pretending to be my Mom, since June of last year, man. This whole scheme would fall apart otherwise.”

I was both impressed and concerned. “Well, I’m glad you’re… thorough.” Was this criminal? Probably. Was I an accessory to the crime? I guess? But I couldn’t really make myself care. What I did care about: how long can Evan keep this up? Surely at some point my mom will want to speak to Evan’s mom properly. Want to see her on Facetime. Propose a family trip to the West Coast with Evan this summer. Whatever. Something like that.

Evan couldn’t keep this charade up forever. In a way it was impressive it had lasted almost six months without being discovered. The precarity of his position– our position– really weighed on me, in a way it never had before. This could all end tomorrow with one single slip-up.

“What if your mom comes looking for you? Or what if my mom calls your mom’s landline or something?”

Evan grimaced. “Won’t happen. A lot changed since you and your mom visited us when we were kids, Atticus. Not just Mom and Dad splitting up. The old phone numbers and emails won’t work. And I’m sure my mother doesn’t care if I’m alive or dead.”

Something in him hardened in that moment, and not in the sexy way. “I’m sure that’s not true, Evan,” I said reflexively. I still had a naive belief that even the most flawed mother still held some residual instinct to care for her child.

Evan’s face took on a look I’d never seen before, though. He wasn’t angry. He was… stony. Cold. Unforgiving. “Believe me. She doesn’t care. And the feeling is mutual.”

I was a little frightened. Was I offending him? Hurting him? Had I accidentally put my foot into something that would ruin our sweet little romance?

“What about your Dad, though?” I asked, not knowing what else to say.

My fear must have been apparent on my face, because Evan softened. He tossed the burner phone onto his bed and moved over to me. He gathered me up in his enormous muscular arms, my face squished against the concrete boulders of his pecs. My arms instinctively attempted to encircle his yard-wide lats; they fell comically short of meeting. “I’m sorry, Atticus,” he said, simply. At first I thought he was comforting me, but I felt him shake a little bit as we hugged, and then the realization hit my brain like a sniper’s bullet, unseen, swift. He wasn’t comforting me. I was comforting him. I tightened my half of the hug, and I felt his body seize, heard him breathe a single ragged breath. My memory flashed back to the night I heard him crying through the walls, the nightmares he had when sharing my bed over Christmas.

“Shh,” I said, not knowing what else to say. “It’s okay.”

“Yeah,” he said after a second, his voice sounding little and lost in a way I’d never heard before. “Yeah. It’s okay. It’s okay. I’m here. I’m safe, for now. I hope safe for a while. Long enough for me to build a bridge to someplace better. Permanently safe.” He released the hug, pulled back, looked at me. Like he wasn’t sure if he should say the next thing. “Someplace safe for… us?”

It was too huge a question. My emotions were too conflicted. I’d never had a plan for myself. Never envisioned anything better for me. But god, yeah, I wanted to run away with Evan. Move to some big city where we could just… be boyfriends together, openly. Where we didn’t have to lie and hide and deal with all this shit. Where I could kiss him without first making sure my parents were still glued to the TV in the living room. Going to the gym together, getting freaky big together.

So why didn’t I jump at the offer he’d just made? Why did I let fear and doubt keep me silent, in conflict?

Evan didn’t seem too hurt by how I froze at his offer, though. “Too soon, too soon,” he said softly, as if chiding himself. “Don’t worry about it. Forget I said anything.” He stepped back, returned the burner phone to its hiding place, dug around under his bed and pulled out his Switch. His biceps bunched up halfway to his goddamn wrist as he held it up. “Mario Kart? Best three out of five? Winner gets a blow job after Mrs and Mr go to bed?”

You know I said yes. And you know, a couple hours later, I was pumping a monster load down his greedy throat as my parents slept soundly below us. I could never quite tell if Evan truly sucked at Mario Kart, or if he lost on purpose, at times like this.

 

Part 7

As the weeks went by, it was more and more difficult for me to keep my hands to myself around the house, more and more difficult for me to not just blatantly stare at Evan. It wasn’t just my increasing familiarity with his body, my increasing sense of ease with doing gay stuff with him. It was also, well… him.

He just kept packing on more and more muscle, and the clothes which had been sexy and flattering in August were bordering on obscene now, when he could squeeze himself into them at all. I spent a Thursday afternoon with him, going around various stores, your Targets and your Walmarts and GAPs and whatever, trying to find some new stuff. At Christmas we had to pour him into a business casual outfit meant for an obese guy, and it had barely worked—excess fabric pooling at the waist, sleeves and legs that still could barely cope with his limbs and his ass.

But he had grown in the weeks since then. When he actually ripped the shoulder seam of an XXXL shirt just trying it on, forcing us to pay for the useless ruined garment, we had to face facts: Evan’s days of wearing off the rack were behind him. Fuck, it was hot, but also, in practical terms: what was he supposed to do? Wrap himself up in bedsheets?

“I know a few online shops where the Juiced up guys buy their stuff. It’s a little pricier, but I can afford it. I guess I knew this day was coming, just I didn’t think it would get here this fast. I haven’t even been on the Juice for a full year, yet.” He couldn’t stop grinning and pawing at his own massive biceps, his protruding pecs. “300 before my birthday,” he whispered to himself a couple times.

Evan still hadn’t told me about his OnlyFans. I guess I should have asked him how he could afford it right then and there, feigned ignorance and given him the chance to fess up? I didn’t, though. I don’t know why.

Later that night my resolve broke, though, and I checked in on his OnlyFans to see just how well it was doing. I didn’t scroll down far, I didn’t click play on any of the videos, it still felt vaguely wrong that I knew it existed at all, but… damnit, I was curious.

It was even more popular than it had been a couple months back. Evan had to be rolling in it at this point. Yeah, he had expenses. Gym fees, a massive grocery bill, gas, but he paid a pittance for rent. He must be growing his savings almost as fast as he was growing his muscles.

Anyway. I was talking about Evan outgrowing normal people clothes. I insisted on keeping the ruined garment we were forced to buy. It’s kinda hot, right? This XXXL shirt Evan’s massive muscles destroyed just trying to fit his inflated torso into. Big basketball delts refusing to be contained. I think I’ll always remember the sudden sound of the riippp and the goofy, embarrassed yet delighted look on Evan’s face when he realized what had happened. Like he couldn’t believe it himself.

What was more surprising was when the same thing happened to me at work a couple days later.

I was crouching down to get a box of stuff off a low shelf. As I straightened back up, I heard the tell-tale sound of fabric tearing, felt the cold air of the walk-in on the back of my thigh. Like Evan, I was surprised, but unlike Evan, I was not amused.

I set the box back down and grabbed my phone.

Help. My ass just ripped out of my fucking pants at work.

Dancing dots as Evan typed. Animated gif of a very sweaty man fanning himself.

I’m serious! Help me out!

Fine. You’re no fun. I’ll grab some pants and bring them to you. Try not to turn any of your redneck customers gay.

I put my phone back in my pocket then felt it buzz. Took it back out. Evan again.

Actually what am I saying, turn them ALL gay. OMW.

I didn’t know what to do in the meantime. The rip was big, and it ran right across the top of my hamstring / bottom of my glute, so it wasn’t just… underwear-clad ass cheek showing, it was bare hairy skin, bottom-of-butt and top-of-thigh.

Were my clothes really getting that tight? I swung my arms around and felt how my preppy button-up shirt cut into my armpits in a way I hadn’t really noticed before. Holy shit. Experimentally, I tried to hulk out of the shirt, expecting nothing to happen, and…

BANG

I must have jumped a foot as the seam across my left lat failed catastrophically—not a demure rip but a fucking gunshot type sound. I couldn’t see the tear but it had to be a foot long at least.

Phone again.

!! I ripped out of my shirt too!!

Dot dot dot.

OK, now you’re fucking with me. slow day or something?

I’m serious! Bring a shirt too!

Fine, fine. You owe me.

And then he put an eggplant emoji and a water droplet.

“Atticus? Do you have those café items yet?”

Fuck! There was no way to hide this, was there? Not like I can just go hermit mode in the walk-in until Evan arrives. He didn’t say where he was—he actually did hang out on campus sometimes, since he couldn’t be at home and he had to be somewhere, and he certainly was the right age to be a student, and it’s not like they check your ID when you walk into the student center…

“Y-yeah,” I said, kneeling back down to pick up the box again, feeling the tear in my pants gape open as I bent. “I uh… I had a wardrobe malfunction, though,” I said as I carried it back out to the storefront.

I never really got along super well with my coworkers. We didn’t hate each other, but I didn’t join in their gossip and their banter, either. I walked out, set the stuff down, and turned around to demonstrate.

“Jesus, bro, you hulked out,” Brad, the 30-something stoner said as he glanced up from making drinks. “Nice ass.”

Joanne, my shift manager, glared at Brad briefly, then shook her head. “Well, that’s not really appropriate for dealing with customers. I’ve been noticing how tight your clothes are getting. Couldn’t you tell it was time to get some bigger ones?”

I felt my face begin to burn. “Well… no, not really. It kind of… crept up on me, I guess.”

Becka, who could be a bit bitchy, was on the register, unable to join the conversation as she dealt with customers, but she gave me a glance, disbelieving, a little scornful.

“Well, I plum don’t know what to do. We need you here, the afternoon rush will be starting soon, but I can’t think of any position to put you where you don’t have to turn your back on the customer. That shirt is only fit to be a rag, and those pants…” Joanne trailed off but I could feel her disapproval and frustration.

“I, uh… I already texted a friend, and he’s bringing me a new shirt and a new pair of pants. Bigger ones. I dunno when he’s going to get here, though. I hope soon.”

Joanne sighed. “Well, take your all breaks now and hope he gets here before we get busy, Atticus.” She shook her head. “Unbelievable. Get back to work, people. Strip show’s over.”

So I sat in the corner of the store, using up my break time to keep my obviously offensive ass and lat out of the customer’s line of sight. I watched the clock tick by. I texted Evan asking for some sense of how long he might be, but he didn’t answer.

Then I saw his beat up old Toyota pull in, saw him struggle to clamber out—fuck, he was far too big for that little car—and waddle up to the store entrance. It was the first time he’d come inside since the day months ago when he showed up unexpectedly and I caught him red handed, very obviously not attending physiotherapy lessons on the other side of town.

All my coworkers fell silent, stopped what they were doing. The customers turned and looked. I swear to god. It was like Elvis or Jesus Christ or Barney the Dinosaur walked in the door.

Evan was oblivious to the gaping stares. He waddled over to me, like a parade balloon that had broken its moorings, unable to lower his arms, big pecs bouncing and jostling with each step, swinging each muscle-bloated thigh wide around the other, grey sweatpants so form-fitting they looked like tights, obvious dickprint, shit-eating grin on his face.

“Show me first,” he said when he got to me. I couldn’t keep the smile off my face as I stood up and turned around. “Fuuuuccckk,” he breathed softly, watching me demonstrate how I’d busted free from my old clothes. I could literally see his cock fatten up through the tortured fabric of his overstretched sweats. He awkwardly tossed me a plastic bag with some clothes in it. “Here’s your new stuff. Pick you up at 9?”

Fuck. Every fibre of my being wanted to kiss him right now, like a normal couple might, a simple way to say thanks for saving my bacon, you’re the best, can’t wait to see you tonight.

But of course I couldn’t. “Yeah. 9. Thanks. I better hop into these and get back to work. I used up all my break time sitting here.”

I ran off to the bathroom, locked the door, and changed as fast as I could. When I emerged, still tying up my apron, Evan had already left. All my coworkers stared at me. I ignored it and hurried to return to work.

Joanne came up to me as I circled around behind the counter. “There’s five hours left before closing, that’s too long to make someone work straight through, go ahead and take your breaks as usual, Atticus. I was just… cranky… about the situation, and I wasn’t being fair to you.”

I was surprised. “Oh! Thank you!”

I sidled up to Brad to help him make drinks, as the pile of people waiting had begun to grow unmanageably large. It felt odd to be wearing clothes that had extra room, I realized. Guess I really was growing.

“She gave me my breaks back,” I said wonderingly as I started to pull an espresso shot. That wasn’t like Joanne.

“Yeah, your boyfriend talked to her while you were changing, told her it wasn’t fair or legal to make someone work five hours straight without a break,” Brad said, dopey, like it was no big deal. “Guess she listened.”

If I was on a TV show or in a movie the camera would have done that thing where it zooms out on the background at the same time it zooms in on my face. ‘My boyfriend’?! ‘My boyfriend’?! What?! What!?!

Brad, dazed and confused as always, seemed utterly unaware that I was totally imploding next to him. “Venti toasted oat vanilla latte for Red!” he called out, putting the drink on the counter and pivoting to start the next one.

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I was a tightly controlled mess for the rest of my shift. Brad knew. Brad knew. But how did he know? I couldn’t ask him without confirming he was correct. We were so careful! Who else knew? How did they know? I felt like a park ranger in the dry season coming across an unattended campfire. The whole forest could be on the verge of burning down unless immediate action was taken! But what was that action?

I realized nonchalance was my only move. Anything I said, any question I asked, any denial I made, would just confirm the assumption Brad had made. I realized too late I ought to have said, straight away, smoothly and simply: “oh, he’s not my boyfriend, we’re straight.” Like it was no big deal. But I was so bowled over that the moment to say that passed me by, and asserting it now would be overcompensating. It would look guilty.

So I made bullshit sugary hot milkshakes on demand for the next five hours in my new roomier duds, did my best to keep all interactions with coworkers as superficial and meaningless as possible, helped close up the shop, then marched out to Evan’s car, holding myself together through sheer force of will the whole time. I climbed in as he started the ignition.

I shut the door. “Hey ba—” he got out before I exploded.

“They know!! They know!! Fuck!!

“Woah, woah, calm down,” Evan said. “They know what?”

I took a few slow breaths and looked at Evan. His face was a mixture of concern and amusement. “Brad, my stoner coworker, called you my boyfriend. Like it was just a widely known fact.”

“Oh. Well. I mean… I sort of… am your boyfriend… right?”

“That’s not important right now! How could he know that? Who else knows? You know what Mom and Dad are like, they’d kick us out tonight if they found out!”

“Wow, you’re such a romantic,” Evan said with heavy sarcasm, turning his face away from me.

Somehow, stupid as I am, I saw right away what I’d just done. The realization cut through my anxiety in that moment, and it probably rescued me from making a real mess of things. Evan just called himself my boyfriend. It wasn’t a word either of us had ever used. Ever. This freaky hunk of ever-swelling muscle, this gaming nerd with the movie star good looks, this sweetheart who always went out of his way to help me, this not-so-little lost runaway… he just called himself my boyfriend. He went out on a limb, hopeful, nervous, and I smacked him aside like it was nothing. I could see I’d wounded him. I scrambled, trying to undo it.

“God, I… I’m sorry, Evan, I… I was just…”

“I know,” he said gently. He still looked hurt, but softer.

“I love what’s happening between us, and I get so… so scared that something might happen to… to take that away. Take you away. You… you’re…” Fear was gripping me now. I had to let him know I didn’t mean it. I didn’t mean to take him for granted. But my words were failing me. I had to tell him how I felt.

“I said I know,” he repeated, gentler, putting his big, calloused hand on top of mine.

I felt my eyes start to well up. I guess the shift had been more stressful than usual, between my wardrobe malfunction and being casually outed by Brad. I blinked fast but I couldn’t stop the tears. “I…” I choked up, couldn’t finish what I was going to say. “I… I…”

Evan leaned toward me, his massive bulk seeming to fill the car, to surround me with his strength and warmth. “Atticus…,” he whispered, so softly, “...I know.” He kissed me sweetly on the forehead. Fuck whoever might see it. We needed this. “I know. Me too.”

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Atticus Progress Log

Week 1, Dec 27: 141 pounds, 33” waist, 36” chest, 11” arm

Week 3, Jan 17: 150 pounds, 32.5” waist, 37” chest, 12.25” arm (notes: big newbie gains!)

Week 7, Feb 14: 159 pounds, 31.5” waist, 39” chest, 13.25” arms (losing fat, gaining muscle—can’t keep this up for long)

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“Your mother and I will be home before 11,” Dad said, standing in the doorway in a maroon button-up shirt and brown dress pants. Evan and I were sitting in the living room, steaming plates of chicken and rice and broccoli in front of us, the beginning of the first Captain America movie paused on the TV screen. Evan’s pick, but whatever, I figured we wouldn’t be paying much attention to it once Mom and Dad left. “I’d say no partying, but who am I kidding,” Dad continued, more to himself than to us.

Mom floated down the stairs in a turquoise dress, her hair in a fancy up-do. Mom had been a beauty queen when she was young, Evan says it’s where I get my good looks. Emily and I for sure inherited her fine bone structure, her petite frame, but frankly I consider that a mixed blessing at best. Anyway, she was dressed like she was going to a gala, in contrast to Dad’s “modestly successful suburban contractor takes wife to Olive Garden” outfit.

“Wow, Mrs. Williams, you look great!” Evan said, not missing an opportunity to further butter her up, shore up his position in the house.

“Why thank you, sweetheart, I do enjoy a chance to dress up every now and then,” Mom said, twirling a little. “At least someone appreciates it! Come on, dear, the reservation is for 8:30.”

“Happy Valentine’s!” Evan called out to them as they headed out the front door. My heart rate was already speeding up, bloodflow heading south. Evan paused a moment after we heard the door close, then he grinned at me. “Don’t give me that look, mister. They aren’t even in the car yet, one of them might pop back inside any second, they forgot their phone or whatever.” He gestured at the steaming pile of food in front of me. “Anyway: eat. No touchie ‘til the plate is clean.” He picked up the remote, hit play, and started methodically shoving his food into his own mouth.

We ate in silence and watched the movie. Steve Rogers was getting his super soldier serum. “Take steroids, beat up Nazis. The American dream,” Evan quipped, bouncing his pecs with a mischievous grin when he caught me staring more at his chest than at Chris Evan’s. “You horny or something, Atticus?” he asked playfully.

“You picked out a movie with a literal muscle growth sequence, you ass,” I replied. “And we’re home alone, which never happens, and you’re making me just sit here.”

“Hey, I want to do a group activity too, but we need to finish our meals first.” Evan looked down at his plate, as if assessing something, then sprang into action like a gator ambushing its prey, cramming the rest of the food into his mouth super-fast, gulping it down like he was in an eating contest. My eyes must have bugged out of my face. He tried to stifle a belch when he finished, but was unsuccessful. He patted his solid musclegut, now bowing out, his delicious tan skin just peeking out from under the hem of his tank top. “Catch up, Atticus.”

I looked at the dismayingly large quantity of food still remaining on my own plate. Then I looked at Evan. I wanted my hands on his bulging muscles. My cock in his mouth. And that wouldn’t happen until I finished eating. With a determined effort, I did my meagre best to imitate his face-stuffing stunt. It took me at least three times as long to do it, but I managed. I groaned when I finally forced the last forkful down my unwilling throat. I noticed Evan was on his phone, thumbs flying, as I choked down the last of the food. He wasn’t idly scrolling. He was doing something.

He put his phone away and stood up from the couch. “Bedroom. Now.” We had the house to ourselves for a few hours. It was a precious and uncommon opportunity. “I’ve got a Valentine’s Day present for you,” he said.

My heart beat harder, faster. “... Oh?”

“Well, I’m not going to tell you what it is, ding-dong. Let’s go upstairs.”

I followed him up the staircase, his massive glutes right at eye-level with me, twin planets, flexing and bulging as they powered 290 pounds of teenaged meat up each step. God, I wanted to suffocate between those cheeks, more than anything. He glanced over his shoulder two thirds of the way up, grinning wide enough to split his handsome face, then he quickly hauled his sweatpants down, exposing his bare ass. He wasn’t wearing underwear. He did a quick side-to-side wiggle, his massive glutes swaying inches in front of my nose, big enough to have their own centers of gravity, then he hauled his pants back up and continued climbing the stairs. I felt I might pass out from lack of blood-flow to my brain.

He led us into his room. His laptop was open on the desk. He traced his index finger over the trackpad to wake it up, typed in the password. I snaked my arms around his waist, his muscle belly hard and bowed out from his meal, yet still so much smaller than his chest and his hips. I gently nudged my stiff cock against his mega muscle butt. He made a happy little whimper, but then said, unexpectedly, “Not yet. Present first.”

What the heck was my present? Something on the computer? I didn’t get him a present! Should I have? We didn’t say we were doing presents!

Zoom was already open on his laptop. He double clicked something, starting a call. I let go of his waist and jumped back, confused, a little alarmed, scooching lower so the tent from my achingly hard ‘big donkey dick,’ as Evan called it, wasn’t in frame.

A cute guy’s face appeared. Well-groomed short dark hair and beard, stylish. Dark eyes that sparkled, a mouth that looked good for smiling—and for kissing. Mid-to-late thirties, if I had to guess. A fairly nondescript office behind him.

“Atticus, meet Mateo de Leon, head of marketing and social media for Mutant Juice,” Evan said, angling his monstrous torso in such a way that he was blocking less of me from the camera.

Fucking hell! He didn’t tell me anything about this! I would have combed my hair, brushed my teeth, changed my shirt! Evan seemed amused by my consternation.

“Hi, Atticus, Evan’s told me a lot about you,” Mateo said, smiling warmly. I could tell this man was a charmer.

“H… Hi there, nice to meet you,” I said, scrambling to find my equilibrium.

“I understand you’re interested in trying Mutant Juice. Evan’s probably told you there’s a significant backorder, currently running about 6 to 8 months for new clients. We keep expanding production, but we can’t make enough to keep up with demand.”

I nodded. “Yes, sir, Evan has explained all of that.” I didn’t mention how Evan hoped I could jump the line—it would seem entitled, rude. Maybe this was a test?

“We do hold aside a small number of doses per batch for promotional purposes. Evan sent me a few photos but I wanted to see you for myself, and I think you’ll do just fine.”

I knitted my brow. “I’ll… do?”

“You’re much smaller than most guys when they start. In fact, you might be the smallest person yet to start on the Juice, although there’s no real way for us to know for sure. I’m not trying to be rude—Evan tells me you only started training seven weeks ago, and your progress has been very promising. His vote of confidence goes a long way with me.”

I glanced at Evan, who nodded encouragingly. “His focus in the gym is amazing for a newbie, and he’s dedicated to the lifestyle. I don’t think he’s gonna flake.”

“No way! Never!” I squawked at the very suggestion.

Mateo smiled. “You two are cute. Atticus, could you take your shirt off for me and move around a little bit.”

Not feeling completely right about it, but not wanting to wreck an opportunity by being a prude, I peeled my shirt off.

Mateo made an approving noise. “You could be a mainstream model, Atticus. You’ve got a gorgeous face, excellent proportions, great lines, great aesthetics, and the little bit of muscle you’ve put on in the last couple of months suits you very well. You’re very aware that, with Mutant Juice, you’re going to rocket far beyond what most normal people would consider fit, attractive, athletic, yes? We’re in the business of making freaks.”

I glanced at Evan, the huge boulders of flesh overwhelming his body. “If it can make me as big as Evan, it’d be a dream come true.”

Mateo smirked. “Evan’s still growing, as I’m sure you know. Both of you are going to be much, much bigger. Does the idea of being a 900 pounds couple excite you? Give it a couple of years and that’s what your reality is going to be.”

I couldn’t help it. An involuntary moan escaped my lips. Mateo’s smirk broadened. “I’ll take that as a yes. Well, then. It will take a couple of months to arrange. But lucky for us, there’s a large bodybuilding competition and expo somewhat near to you in April. Same weekend as your birthday, Evan, funny enough. Both of you, meet us there, and there’ll be a Mutant Juice starter kit there with your name on it, Atticus. I’ll forward Evan the details.”

My heart started racing and I couldn’t keep the giddy smile off my face. “Thank you, sir! You won’t regret it!”

“You can call me Mateo, Atticus. And I’m glad to see how excited you are. Happy Valentine’s Day, you crazy kids,” Mateo said, winking. “Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do.” And then the call ended.

Evan looked at me expectantly. I heard a high-pitched sound of excitement coming from my own mouth. I couldn’t help it. I started jumping up and down. Evan threw back his head and laughed, then grabbed me up into his arms and kissed me, our hard dicks like crossed sabres, smushed between our bodies, mine lithe, his freaky. I was still shirtless.

“Hope you like your present,” he quipped, breaking the kiss.

“Take off your clothes and get on the bed,” I breathed, panting, my voice dark with lust. “I’ll show you just how much I like it.”

Evan stepped back, smile widening, and began peeling off his tank top. It was an ordeal, but I didn’t help him. Watching him struggle was very, very, very fucking hot. Finally he managed to fight his way out of it, tossing it into the corner.

“Fuck,” I breathed as his arms lowered to his sides—well, tried to, his yard-wide lats meant he’d never assume such a position again—and the massive globs of muscle choking his torso settled into their resting position.

His pecs were obscene. Bigger than a fetish model’s silicone boobs, yet looking nothing like them—all muscle, flexing and twitching with his smallest micro-movements. They were so big they didn’t stick straight out from his collarbone, they gently arced up just a bit. His little nipples were only ever along for the ride, looking absolutely tiny on his mega-pecs. His rounded biceps sagged a little under their own weight, almost like they’d fall off the bone, until the moment he moved his arms, when they gathered into sickening balls, split by veins thick as a garden hose.

“Pants too,” I rasped. He peeled them off painfully slowly, his quads forcing his legs apart, threatening to swallow up his kneecaps, his calves so huge they bulged out and down from their lower insertion points, giant hanging globes of meat.

As he had revealed on the staircase, he was going commando. His dick bobbed in the air, already slick with pre-cum.

“I can’t wait to see how big you get, Atticus,” he said, sweetly.

“Face down on the bed,” I replied, feeling my mind somehow… shift gears. Like the anxiety and deference I typically felt had all evaporated away in the nuclear furnace of erotic desire, leaving a core of pure, diamond-hard command.

He did as I said without hesitation or question. I walked toward him, pulling down my own pants, stepping out of my underwear, tossing them to the side. My huge cock leading the way like a dowsing rod, except it wasn’t pointing at water—it was pointing at ass. The Mount Everest of butts, twin peaks of assmeat rising up off the mattress in front of me.

I clambered over him, pulling his glutes apart, diving in with my mouth, like I’d done a couple of times now. Teasing him, soaking him, making him moan and writhe.

Then, I did something we hadn’t even really talked about, or prepared for.

I pulled back, instinctively took a handful of his spiky black hair—not too rough, but not gently—aligned my dick with his giant ass, and started pushing in.

“Atticus!” Evan gasped as he felt what I was doing. “I… ooh, fuck…” he whimpered. I felt his hole twitching around the head of my cock, almost like it was trying to draw me in.

“I’ve never done this before.” Was that my voice? So deep, hard, quiet yet powerful?

“Neither have I,” Evan whimpered.

“Do you want this?”

I felt his super heavyweight body trembling under me. “Yes, fuck, yes, I’ve wanted it for months. There’s… there’s lube in the drawer where I keep the burner phone.”

I hopped off, grabbed the bottle, jumped back, and started slathering up my dick and his crack. I had no idea how this went, what we were supposed to do, but it seemed like good common sense to err on the side of using too much instead of using too little.

Evan was panting hard, grinding his hips up into my hand as I spread the lube around, finger-fucked his hole a little bit. “Be… go slow, you’re… you’re really big and I… fuck!

I was pushing my cock into him now. I could feel his ass resist me, and then, with a sudden pop and a flash of pleasure more intense than I’d ever felt in my life, I was inside. Evan made a wordless sound, shock and pleasure and fear.

His hole was going nuts, flexing, twitching, and every movement was erotic meltdown for me. “Evan!” I gasped, like a just-caught fish flopping on the deck of a boat. I only had my head inside, pretty much all my shaft was still out, but the sensations were overwhelming as his butt gripped around the base of my corona. “Evan! Fuck! Your ass! Fuck!” My brain was going haywire, my hips tried to get a rhythm going but every tiny motion was too much, too intense, so the result was a series of small herky-jerky motions.

Evan whimpered. “Atticus… Atticus… fuck, you’re so big. It… augh… fuck….!”

I could feel his inner walls pulse and grip me, pulling my dick deeper inside, squeezing it, milking it. I felt like a bull on a cattle farm, being drained. I looked down at the enormous heap of beef under me, around me, in front of me, surrounding me. Evan’s freaky huge body. His mind-breaking gluteal globes, split apart by my big veiny dick, most of me still not yet inside. I pushed in another half inch; Evan’s breath caught and his limbs spasmed, and I groaned without being able to stifle myself.

I guess I hit Evan’s prostate or something? That last half inch had him shaking, and it wasn’t stopping. He was babbling, like he was trying to get words out, but it was just incoherent syllables. I grabbed his hair again, pulled his head back a little, and pushed myself in a little deeper. I was completely unprepared for the result of such a small action.

Atticus!!!“ Evan fucking bellowed, and his hips started bucking like crazy. I felt like I was riding a mechanical bull. It was like he was jerking me off with his ass more than I was fucking him. I was trying to hold back but it was all too much, I felt probably the biggest load of my life forcing its way through my dick and deep into Evan, no way to stop it, hurtling over Niagara Falls at terminal velocity. I came and came and came, at least a dozen fucking spurts, maybe more, and Evan just kept bucking and trembling and milking more and more cum out of me.

“Ev… Ev… Evan… fuck… fuck…” I whimpered like a broken Speak & Spell. I felt myself almost blacking out, collapsing onto him as he kept slamming his hips into the mattress.

I don’t know how much time passed. It probably was only ten or fifteen seconds. But it felt like a lifetime. My dick slowly softened, slithered out of Evan, flopped limply against our thighs, soaking wet. Even soft as an overcooked noodle my dick was a good six inches, which Evan said was… ridiculously big.

“I came,” I said hoarsely.

“Me too,” Evan croaked into the mattress. Both of us were soaking wet with sweat. I rolled off him and he turned over to face me. “I didn’t know… fuck me… I didn’t know a person could cum that hard. Atticus. You. Fuck.” He whimpered. “I didn’t know it would feel…”

I nodded. “Yeah. Me too. I think I almost fucking died. That was… fuck. Incredible.”

We lay like that for another little while, dreamily touching each other, gently, not speaking, too spent, too overwhelmed, too stunned, to do anything else.

Then I heard a car pulling into the driveway. Evan did too. We leaped up in unison. I gathered my clothes and ran into my own bedroom, bare-ass naked. Evan closed his door behind me. Thank fucking god our rooms were right next to each other, and that it took Mom and Dad about a minute between pulling in and walking in the door. Thank fucking god we heard them.

“We’re home!” Mom called. I had already jumped into my pyjamas and was now sitting in my gamer chair, controller in hand, wishing Steam would hurry up and load so my alibi would look better in case Mom or Dad decided to come upstairs right away for some reason.

“Hi,” I yelled out. My voice sounded strangled, hoarse. Fuck. I coughed quickly, tried to get it more normal sounding. “You guys have a good night?”

“I don’t know why we go to that restaurant,” I heard Dad grumble.

“It’s our place!” Mom answered him. Then she raised her voice to answer me. “It was a lovely night, honey. What are you boys up to?”

“I’m just playing some games. Evan’s studying for a midterm.”

“Well, your father and I are going to head on to bed, I think. Good night!”

I waited for a slow count of 50, listening carefully. Then I fished out my phone and texted Evan.

I think we’re in the clear. That was close.

Yeah. Worth it though. God damn. When can we do that again?

I had the same question. I wanted to do that every day. Multiple times a day. I wanted my dick to permanently live inside Evan’s ass, frankly.

No idea. Probably not for a while. Something to look forward to.

In April when we go get you your Juice. I hope before then. But definitely then.

Something to look forward to, indeed.

Later that night, as I drifted to sleep, my mind obsessively replaying snatches of memory from my fuck session with Evan, some other corner of my brain piped up.

Mateo. Didn’t I know that name from somewhere? I couldn’t recall. But I felt like I’d heard it before.

 

Part 8

The bodybuilding expo where Mateo told us to meet him? In the same city where Emily goes to University. Now isn’t that handy? I remembered how, when she gave me her goodbye hug at Christmas, she whispered in my ear: “Vome see me in the city this April. Bring your boyfriend.”

Despite that, I felt a little nervous about texting her to ask if Evan and I could crash at her apartment. I don’t know why. Maybe because I felt a little weird about the whole Mutant Juice thing? Like I expected her to disapprove, or to be suspicious of Mateo and his motives, or something? I don’t know.

Or maybe it was because the idea of dorky little Ty going to a bodybuilding show was just so out of character, so obviously a fetish kink thing, that I just… choked on the idea of my big sister knowing about it.

But Evan told me to get over myself and ask her already, or he’d do it for me. They traded phone numbers at Christmas, and every now and then I realized they’d become regular texting buddies. In fact, Evan and Emily seemed to text each other more than either of them texted with me.

Anyway. I asked her, and of course she was over the moon and said yes immediately.

Now I just had to tell my parents.

But what to tell them?

“Hey, have you noticed that our boarder has been steadily bloating up with more and more muscle, and by now he’s almost impractically huge? If you’ve got two braincells to rub together you probably know he’s taking drugs to grow like that. Sorry, ‘supplements,’ because they’re not illegal (yet). Well, that’s going to be me, too, because I’m going off to the city next month to get a needle stuck in my ass. It’s this new muscle growth serum which you probably can’t distinguish from steroids. It’s actually more powerful than steroids, funny enough! What’s that you say? Girls don’t like musclebound guys? That’s very true! But you see, Evan and I are homosexual lovers with a strong kink for muscle growth, and as far as we’re concerned neither of us can ever be too big. In fact, just thinking about it makes semen spurt out of my penis, which by the way has very much been inside his anus. Haha, yeah, it’s not what you’d expect, is it? Your little sissy son topping—sorry, ‘topping’ is when you stick your dick in another guy’s butt—topping such a big masculine meatball? It’s true, though! Anyway, we won’t be around for a few days in the middle of April. Hopefully Evan and I can fuck at least four or five times when we’re gone, you guys really cramp our style around here and we’re desperate for more sodomy. I’m gonna miss church that weekend, which is a real shame, but at least I won’t have to reset my ‘days without being subjected to homophobic ranting’ counter, like I do most weeks. Anyway, hope that’s all fine with you!”

I’m sure that would go over really, really well.

“Why are you stressing about it?” Evan asked as we loaded plates for my next set at the gym. Evan trained me, but he didn’t work out alongside me. He said he had all the time in the world, so he liked doing his own workout while I was busy at Starbucks. It gave him something to do when he was out of the house pretending to be at school.

But I knew it was really because we were so disparate in our strength and our abilities. Like right now—we were loading up a 185 pounds bench press, which Evan claimed was an insane amount of weight for someone to bench just ten weeks after they started. But he got kind of quiet and bashful when I asked him how much he benched for reps. Eventually, after I insisted, he confessed it was 375 pounds. Loading and unloading all that weight as we traded off sets, it would just be impractical. I probably couldn’t be trusted to spot him. And maybe I’d find it demotivating to be so dramatically outshone, day after day, workout after workout, set after set, rep after rep.

But anyway.

“Why am I stressing about it?” I repeated his question as I slid the plate onto the barbell. “Don’t you feel like we’re living on borrowed time, Evan? Something’s gotta give, the status quo can’t last. You entering true freak size territory, me growing like a weed, us becoming best buds all of a sudden, don’t you think it might arouse suspicion? And then we go on a long weekend trip together? Into the city where all the homosexuals and democrats live?”

Evan shrugged. “It’s spring break. I wanna go get laid. And I’m gonna wingman for my heterosexual swole-mate Atticus, an utter alpha Chad in the making.”

I scoffed. “That lie might work,” I said, circling around to sit on the front of the bench. “Might work, if you didn’t stay in every weekend ‘studying.’ Face it. We’re both loser nerds and my parents definitely know it.”

Evan shrugged. “Point taken. I dunno, don’t they think there’s a little romance budding between me and Emily? Let’s play that angle, your sister invited us. Clue her in so she knows to play her part in the ruse. Anyway: enough talk. Do your set. This is a new weight and I want to see at least 8 reps, big boy.”

8 reps? You fucking know I gave him 11. He shook his head in disbelief as we racked the weight and I popped to my feet, my pecs throbbing with pump. “Unbelievable,” he muttered to himself.

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I liked working out. It turned out the gym was a friendly place. At first I was scared of it. I still didn’t always feel comfortable there. There were some definite warning signs. A “Don’t Tread On Me” flag and a “Thin Blue Line” flag hanging from the rafters, for example. But I mean, this is a small city in a red state, what do you expect? I figured if they knew Evan and I were queer there’d be trouble, but it’s like Evan said when we encountered that cop: folks around here really don’t think gay guys are gonna have muscles. It’s like their idea of what a gay man is gonna look like stopped with Liberace. As I left twinkdom behind, I could literally feel the scrutiny ease, the acceptance start to envelope me. It was like, to the bigots around me, I was proving my heterosexuality by growing my muscles.

Freakin’ unbelievable, right? How clueless some folks can be?

So if I ignored the right-wing paraphernalia, it was a friendly place. And yeah, I ignored it, because, well, what’s the other option, as long as I’m stuck in this dumb shitty town? Hide in my bedroom?

The gym’s owner was a retired bodybuilder, and he liked to stop and chat briefly with Evan whenever he saw him on the gym floor. There weren’t supposed to be freelance trainers, but he’d given Evan special permission to train me, back when Evan was setting up his Christmas surprise. That’s how much he liked Evan. Probably he knew Evan wasn’t making any money off it. That would make it easier to agree to.

The first few weeks, I felt like he ignored me. But as time went on, I started to ping on his radar. One time, he stopped to watch us. I was going far into the red zone on a set of squats, Evan yelling at me for more reps, me groaning and bellowing like tortured livestock but giving him the reps he demanded. I finally racked the weight and sank to the floor, trembling, panting like I was fighting for my life, intensely nauseated. Evan darted away—well, as fast as a beefalo like him can ‘dart’—then returned, dragging a bucket over. I crawled to it, clutched the sides, held my head over it, dry heaved a couple of times but managed to keep it all in.

Only as the red mist clouding my vision cleared did I notice the owner watching all this unfold. “Damn, son,” he said, approving. “You keep that up and you’ll have a nice set of wheels on ya in a couple years.”

“Thank you,” I said weakly, my voice shaking. Evan grinned proudly as he went about unloading the weights.

“What’s your name, son?” the owner asked me.

“Atticus.”

To Kill a Mockingbird,” the owner said.

“Uh… yeah.” I was still breathing very, very hard.

Whatever he thought of my parent’s choice of name, I couldn’t say. “Well, my name’s Tom John, and if you ever need anything, Atticus, or if this big lug ever gives you any trouble, just holler.”

He wandered off. Evan was smiling fit to split his face. “He likes you,” he said quietly, once the owner was out of earshot.

God, my lungs felt like burning cobwebs filling my chest. “Does he?” I gasped, wondering when I’d finally catch my breath.

“Hell yeah he does. He’s a no bullshit kind of guy, doesn’t say much to most of the guys who lift here. You just got the Tom John seal of approval and he doesn’t give that out to just anyone. I don’t trust him, not yet, it’s gonna take a lot for me to trust a middle-aged straight white dude in this town. But you’ll always know where you stand with him, and that’s worth a lot. Anyway. You gonna puke?”

I shook my head no. I still felt weak and nauseated, but not as bad as in the direct aftermath of the set from hell. My breathing was finally starting to get back to normal.

“Okay, I’ll wheel this bucket back to the corner. Now you know where they keep it. Then: walking lunges!”

I moaned dramatically and flopped over onto my back, staring at the ceiling, but when Evan came back I got up and, by fucking god, I gave him all the lunges he asked for.

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Evan took my measurements every few weeks, on set dates. It was March 7 now. Time to do it again.

“Here?” I asked, uncertain. Until now we’d done it at home, but Evan was leading me into the posing room at the gym after our workout.

“Yeah, here,” Evan said, like it was no big deal, digging in his bag for the tape measure. He opened up a spreadsheet on his phone. “I wanna start building up your confidence. Take off your shirt.”

I did as asked, somewhat reluctantly. Occasionally I saw big guys with their shirts off, it was that kind of gym. I was still way too small to just toss my top like that. But Evan was the boss when we were in the gym, and I did as he said.

I looked in the mirror. Damn. The lighting was severe, casting harsh shadows over my body. It made me look, well… muscular. Nothing at all like my freakishly overbuilt beast of a boyfriend, but I was cut, defined. My pecs weren’t huge but they were evident, casting little shadows. My delts were rounded. My arms well-muscled, traced with veins. Hell. I looked like a fitness model.

Evan nodded his approval, but stayed all business. “You weighed this morning like I asked, right? What was it?”

“Uh… 167 pounds.”

Evan shook his head. I couldn’t decipher his meaning. “Relax,” he said, unfurling the tape and circling it around my belly button. “31 inches,” he noted quietly. He moved the tape up to my chest. “41 inches,” he said, again, without much expression. “Jeez. Ten inch drop. Flex,” he instructed. I squeezed my measly bicep. “14 inches.” Again, dull, quiet.

“Is that bad? I’ve been doing my best, but I can work harder, I can eat more, I know I can, I…”

Evan shook his head again. “No, no, Atticus, you don’t get it,” he said. “You’ve gained 26 pounds in the last ten weeks, and you’ve lost two inches off your waist, so that means you’ve gained probably more like 35 pounds of muscle while losing fat. At first I said it was newbie gains, but it’s too much, too fast. If you did a quick prep, you could compete in Men’s Physique right now, if you wanted to, and you’d do well.” He shook his head. “Whatever this is, it’s more than newbie gains. I think… I think all this time you’ve just been… a nuclear bomb of muscle growth, waiting for someone to light the fuse. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anyone grow so fast, totally natural.”

“So the kid’s natural,” I heard a gruff voice behind me. I jumped and turned to see Tom John stepping into the room; he’d been leaning on the doorframe the whole time, I realized, watching.

“Yes sir,” Evan said. Evan wasn’t surprised, he had a clear view of the door the whole time. He knew we were being observed.

Tom John nodded approvingly. “Anyone else I’d say you’re full of shit, but I can tell you’re an honest kid, Evan. You ain’t natural though, are ya?” he asked.

“No sir. My one year anniversary for Mutant Juice is in May. I did a cycle of test and dbol before that, and I’ve been running 250 mg of test a week since I started the Juice. I hear a permanent high cruise gets better results from the Juice than blasting or cycling.”

This was stuff Evan had never told me before, and frankly, I didn’t really understand it, didn’t know what dbol was, didn’t know if 250 mg of test a week was a lot or a little, didn’t really know anything. What the heck was ‘blasting’?

Tom John grunted. “Can’t say I approve, but I’d be a hypocrite if I tried to stop ya, I remember being 19 and sticking a needle in my ass cheek. Young guys are supposed to make dumb mistakes, that’s what bein’ young’s for. But Atticus here really is all natural? You’re really not shitting me. Just a Belgian Blue and no one knew it, huh?” Something else I didn’t understand—what the hell does Belgium have to do with anything—but Evan seemed to.

“Sure seems that way, sir,” Evan said.

“Keep him away from the Juice then, boy,” Tom John said abruptly.

“...Sir?”

“That Mutant Juice… it’s a godsend for normal guys, lets us look like Olympians. Guys who’ve got it in them to look like that without it…” his face and voice turned dark. “It fucks ’em up, you hear? I don’t care what anyone says. Ain’t nothin’ worth trading in your life to be a circus sideshow. And fuck, you boys ain’t even old enough to drink. You’ve got your whole lives ahead of you. It’d be a stupid waste.” Tom John noticed my confusion, I suppose, because he backed off. “Pardon me. I don’t mean to tell you your business. Sometimes I don’t know when to keep my yap shut. Evenin’.” And then he walked out before Evan or I could say anything.

“That was weird. What’s he talking about?” I asked Evan as he buried his face in his phone to record my updated measurements.

“Eh… he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. It’s no big deal. Mutant Juice is from before his time, it’s still really new, he’s scared of it, that’s all. He heard some rumours and decided they were true.”

I narrowed my eyes. It felt like Evan was evading my question. “Really?”

He sighed and looked at me. “Mostly. Look. There’s a tiny percent chance that you’ll be what they call a super-responder. Some people want to legitimize them as their own division in bodybuilding, they want to call it Leviathan. It’s just a tiny tiny percent of people who respond to Mutant Juice way more than normal guys do, that’s all. They get way, way bigger than you can even imagine. As long as they keep taking the Juice they keep blowing up. They can stop any time they want, and the growth stops too, but… none of them ever want to stop.”

“Well, I mean… that sounds great, doesn’t it? No such thing as too big? Why would they stop? I know I wouldn’t.”

Evan chuckled. “I always forget what a sick fuck you are,” he said, lovingly. “Anyway, Tom John’s mistaken. There’s no correlation to how well someone grows on their own and their chances of becoming a Leviathan. Nick Walker threw a hissy fit on Instagram when he started the Juice and got totally average results out of it. It was damn funny, actually. There’s only a couple dozen Leviathans who’ve popped up since the product launched, and hundreds of thousands of people are on it. It seems like it’s a random distribution, as far as you can tell from such a limited sample size. Maybe someday they’ll figure it out, isolate the gene or whatever. If it even is genetic. I can think of one pair of brothers where one of them turned out to be a Leviathan and the other just got normal results. Anyway. You’re gonna be fine. You’re more likely to die in a car crash driving to the expo than you are to be a super-responder.”

“Well… if you say so. I still don’t see why you and Tom John act like it’d be a bad thing. The more muscle the better.”

Evan grinned at me. “That’s the spirit,” he said.

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Week 1, Dec 27: 141 pounds, 33” waist, 36” chest, 11” arm

Week 3, Jan 17: 150 pounds, 32.5” waist, 37” chest, 12.25” arm (notes: big newbie gains!)

Week 7, Feb 14: 159 pounds, 31.5” waist, 39” chest, 13.25” arms (losing fat gaining muscle—can’t keep this up for long)

Week 10, March 7: 167 pounds, 31” waist, 41” chest, 14” arms (unbelievable)

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I felt crushing pressure. My morning wood ached, sitting on that line between pleasure and pain. My mouth was dry. The room was dark. “Whazzit,” I muttered, clumsily pawing at whatever had a hold on me.

“Shh,” Evan said. Even in my disoriented state, I could hear the grin in his voice.

“Nnnooaaawwwwhuuuggh,” I moaned wordlessly, my usual excitement at feeling his intensely sexy body against mine countered by my annoyance at being woken so early. “What’s time,” I grunted.

“5:15 a.m.,” Evan said, nibbling at the nape of my neck.

“Is too early,” I muttered, burrowing my head into the pillow.

“Yeah, princess, you need your growth sleep, and you dad’s gonna be up and getting ready for work soon, but, well…” He gently thrust his hips at me, and I felt his big cock insistently butting into my sore hamstring.

“Evaaaaann,” I groaned in complaint. “Too risky.”

“Much as I wanna fuck around, I’m just trying to get you out of bed, lazy,” he whispered, humping me more energetically.

“Fine! I’m up!” I awkwardly clambered out of bed. Evan popped up as well, naked except for a pair of boxer-briefs. They were nowhere close to up to the task of covering his record-shattering glutes even before his big throbbing hard-on pulled the fabric taut in the other direction. Somehow, he looked more obscene than if he was nude. His crack was eating up fabric like a prisoner coming off a hunger strike. “What?”

“Follow me,” he said. Jesus, he was big. He had to angle his body to fit through my door, he couldn’t lower his arms because of his lats, his traps were starting to encroach on his ears, and his legs were so damn monstrous that he walked like a fucking penguin, circling each thigh around the other.

I whimpered, feeling a spurt of hot pre dampen the front of my pyjamas, which I was, myself, rapidly outgrowing.

Evan squeezed into the bathroom and I followed. He stood on the scale and gestured for me to look at the number.

299.2 pounds.

He bounced up and down like an excited kid. I watched his glutes move from my position by the sink, my morning wood harder than ever. “Today’s the day, Atticus,” Evan whispered, excited. “I don’t care if you have to tie me down and force feed me like you’re making foie gras, I’m gonna do it and you’re gonna help me. My birthday’s in two weeks. So if you stuff me silly today, then I can say I’m a 300-pound teenage bodybuilder for thirteen whole days before I turn 20.”

He settled his excited bouncing as he monologued, but part of him was still moving involuntarily. His cock bobbed and pulsed and throbbed in his overstretched boxer briefs. A wet spot was forming by the fat head. I reached out and gave it a firm squeeze. He grabbed the sink, his knees going weak, and stifled a moan.

I squeezed his dick with each word. My voice was low, commanding. “Three.” Squeeze. “Hundred.” Squeeze. “Pound.” Squeeze. “Teenage.” Squeeze. “Bodybuilder.” The last squeeze I didn’t let go. He almost sank to the floor as I held him tightly by the dick, a farmer demanding milk from his cow. I saw Evan shudder, felt the force of cum trying to push my fingers apart, saw the wet spot blossom as he soaked his pitiful underwear. He whimpered, trying to stay quiet. It almost sounded like he was crying. I was merciless, I didn’t let his dick go until well after I felt his spasms slow and stop.

Evan drew a long shaky breath and his eyes met mine. The look in them. Devoted. Pleading. Boy, it felt nice.

Then I heard noise down below. We both froze.

Shit. Dad was awake and getting ready for work. Had he heard us?

“Evan, is that you?” He was at the foot of the stairs, calling up. He heard us.

“Yes, sir,” Evan answered after a second. I slipped around behind him, as silently as I could—it’s a lot easier to be stealthy at 173 pounds than at 299. I gestured emphatically at the shower. “Just about to hop in the shower, sir,” Evan said, picking up my cue really quickly. That ought to keep dad from investigating, he had a red-blooded American’s delicate sense of horror at the sight of a naked male body. I glanced through the bathroom door, across the little hall area, at both of our open bedroom doors. Even if we closed the bathroom door, ran the shower, and hid in here, if Dad came up those stairs he’d see I wasn’t in my room. He’d figure it out pretty fucking fast.

“I was just wondering if you were busy next Sunday after church,” Dad said. I heard him start up the stairs. Fuck! Fuck! I grabbed a towel and urgently indicated for Evan to wrap it around his waist, hiding his cum-stained underwear, and step out to halt Dad’s ascent into the homosexual den of sin that had become our home’s second storey. Dad wouldn’t know what’s under the towel, after all—Evan would look just like a dude about to step into the shower, pausing to chat with his landlord.

Evan, bless him, was faster on the uptake than I would have been. Smooth and quick, he wrapped the towel around his ab-knotted waist and stepped out into the hall. Dad sounded three or four steps from the top—way too close for comfort. I considered silently stepping into the shower to hide behind the curtain, but thought better of it. There’d be no way to explain that, it would look guilty as fuck if I was discovered. Whereas if I just… stood here in the bathroom… if Dad finished climbing the stairs, I could plausibly claim I had just woken up to… to pee… and Evan was…. Also in the bathroom… chatting with me… while only wearing a towel… fuck, fuck, fuck, there just wasn’t a Plan B.

We were three seconds away from disaster.

“Uh well, I’m still shadowing at that physiotherapy clinic on Sundays, but after it closes I don’t have any plans.” That was, of course, a lie. It was the fib Evan had concocted to get out of being dragged to church with the rest of us every Sunday.

“That’s perfect. Me and some of the boys are going to the driving range after services, around 4. I’d like you to join us. It’s past time I introduced you to them.”

Poor Evan was caught in a trap. There was no way he could say no to this, and he knew our immediate safety required him to say whatever he needed to say to get Dad back down those stairs and out the door.

“Y-yeah, sure, that sounds… that sounds great, sir. Just text me the address and I’ll head right on over after I get off my shift at the clinic. Next Sunday?”

“Three days away, that’s right. I’m mighty glad to hear it.” Dad paused and I could almost see him give Evan a considering look. “God damn, son, you’re just about the most jacked bastard I’ve ever laid eyes on. We’re gonna have to reinforce the floors and widen the halls. Never would have guessed little Mike Rossi had it in him. Haven’t seen your dad since his wedding. He was such a skinny fucker in that rented tuxedo, look like a teenager going to prom. He’d just about disappear if he turned sideways. Nothing like you at all.”

I got the distinct impression that my dad and Evan’s dad were… not friends. Evan gave a hollow laugh. “I’ll tell him you said hi.”

Dad grunted. “You do so. Now I better scoot or I’ll be late. I’m on site today.”

Evan returned to the bathroom as Dad descended the stairs. I didn’t relax, though. After Evan squeezed his muscle-bloated body through, I closed the door with medium force, like a strong guy closing it who has no reason to try to be particularly quiet. Then I made a beeline for the shower and turned the water on.

Evan stood in the middle of the bathroom, eyes closed, breathing slow. The sound of the sham shower filled the room, throwing the bloodhound off our trail, providing a little sonic camouflage to boot. I turned my attention to Evan.

He was shaking. “Hey,” I said, putting my hand on his veiny meat-packed shoulder, like the muscle was about to burst from his skin. It was hot to the touch, smooth. Touching him felt so good. “Hey. You did a good job. You saved the day.”

Evan didn’t say anything. He didn’t react at all. He kept his eyes closed, and he kept breathing very slowly and deliberately, in through his nose, out through his mouth. I was starting to get worried. Yeah, I was scared too, but it seemed like something was actually wrong.

Finally, after four or five more slow breaths, he opened his eyes and looked at me. I felt a stab in my heart. There was something in his eyes I couldn’t read, some sort of pain, or fear, or something. The bathroom was starting to fill with steam from the fake shower, the air getting heavy, warm. My poor musclebound boyfriend, who could probably deadlift a small car, he looked so hurt and scared, just then.

“It’s okay,” I said, leaning in, kissing his forehead gently, moving my hand to the side of his head, holding his face against mine. I felt a shudder run through him. “It’s okay.”

“...Yeah,” he whispered after a moment. “Sorry, it’s…” he paused, like he was considering something, or making a decision. Whatever it was, he backed off. “I can’t believe I just agreed to go to a driving range with a bunch of redneck good ol’ boys.”

“I’m so sorry. It’s gonna suck. There wasn’t really any way out of it.”

“Yeah. It’s almost like… he wants to be friends with me. It’s weird.”

Our heads were still gently pressed against each other, our faces so close that our lips almost brushed as we spoke quietly to each other.

“He wishes you were his son, not me,” I said. “He’s never been much proud of me, or interested in spending time with me. I think most of my life he’s been embarrassed by me.”

“Atticus,” Evan said, gently. “Don’t say that.”

“Why not? It’s true.”

Evan had no response. We stood like that for a moment, in the hot, steamy bathroom, quietly holding each other, foreheads pressed, faces almost touching.

When Evan spoke, he was barely audible, but there was such… force in his words. “You’re worth a thousand of him, Atticus. I’m going to take you away from this place, and I… I hope you’ll see that, eventually. You’re worth ten thousand of him.”

I laughed a bitter little laugh. It caught in my throat and I realized maybe it hadn’t been a laugh, but a sob that I’d crushed to death before it could escape.

The moment was punctured by the sound of the front door closing. Dad had finally left for work. We were safe again, for the moment. Well, not safe. Less endangered. Evan took a long slow breath, kissed me like he meant it, slow and long and tender, then broke our embrace. He dropped the towel from around his waist and shimmied out of his cum-soaked boxer-briefs. I made a mental note to pick them up later and take a good long huff of them, they looked fucking sodden with his essence, his musk, his cum and his ass sweat.

He looked at the shower. “Waste of hot water,” he murmured. “I should actually hop in, since I made a mess in my pants somehow. Do you want to…”

“It’s not safe,” I said, reflexively. “Mom’s still home.”

“It’s 5:30 in the morning, do you really think she’ll be poking around our bedrooms in the next ten minutes?”

I looked at him, hand on the shower curtain, ready to pull it aside, his massive hanging pecs, so big they rounded up toward his chin, his arms the size of a normal man’s legs, resting uneasily at an angle on his yard-wide lats. His soft cock dangling, almost sweet and innocent and gentle, between thighs that looked almost tortured by the amount of meat that had been forcibly packed on them, the sweep of his quads a mind-bending parabola, the muscle sticking out so fucking far. I could see his damn mega-glutes bulging out to the sides even though he was facing me.

Then I looked at his sweet loving face, and I remembered how he’d stood there, trembling, eyes closed, doing breathing exercises. How he’d bounced up and down after weighing himself, giddy with excitement about his own progress, pulling me out of bed to share his glee with me. He was such a pure, gentle soul, and, fuck, insane and unbelievable as it was, it truly seemed like… like he needed me.

I smiled at him. “OkaY. I’ll join you. You scrub my back, I scrub yours?” I asked, wiggling out of my pyjamas, which had been getting mighty tight on me recently, for some mysterious reason.

Evan grinned. “Deal.”

 

Part 9

I was scheduled to work that Sunday. Ordinarily, that was a good thing. It meant I had a legitimate reason to skip church. This week, though, I was anxious. Evan was at the driving range with my dad and his shitty friends. I don’t know what I thought I could have done, if I wasn’t working. I wasn’t invited to join the men in their recreation, and if I had been invited, what did I think I could do to make things better? In fact, I’d probably make things worse, more suspicious. My shift at work was an agony of suppressed anxiety, serving entitled customers while knowing Evan was enduring… whatever it was he was enduring, and that our secret relationship was undergoing stress testing that I couldn’t even anxiously observe.

We closed at 7 on Sunday, earlier than on other days. I told Evan I’d text him for a ride just before close, to rescue him from my dad and his shit friends if they tried to take him out drinking or something after the driving range. Neither of us knew how long this social outing my dad had planned would run.

It was difficult to focus on my work, and I had to re-make more drinks than usual because I kept fucking up. I kept trying to figure out what my dad was up to. I remembered his poker nights at home, those same asshole friends showing me pinup bikini girls and asking what I thought of them, then laughing in my face at my obvious discomfort, even when I tried to lie and say something dumb like, ‘oh wow, hot.’

So when Evan walked into the store at 6:30, angling his inhumanly muscular 300 pounds body through the door just to fucking fit, my heart went on a rollercoaster ride, up to my throat, down to my feet, back and forth. I couldn’t read his expression, but he didn’t look like himself. He wasn’t relaxed or smiling. He didn’t shoot me a grin as our eyes met across the cafe. I couldn’t say how he looked. It wasn’t good, I could tell that much.

Becka was on the register and she smirked at me, clearly enjoying my distress even if she had no clue why I was feeling it. There was no line, Evan walked right up to the counter. “Hi there, how can I help you?” she asked.

“I just want to talk to Atticus, please,” Evan asked politely.

“I’m sorry, he doesn’t have any break time left, you’ll have to wait til we close.”

Fucking Becka. I was literally standing fifteen feet to her right. I tried to give Evan a frustrated, apologetic look, but he was focused on my coworker.

“I’ll wait, then. Tall mint tea, black.”

“Can I get a name?”

“Evan.”

No pseudonym this time. He moved down toward the drinks counter like a massive heavily-loaded container vessel about to wedge itself in the Suez canal. Closer to me, away from Becka, that hag. She looked at me with a ‘well?’ expression. I sighed and started making Evan’s tea, even though it made more sense for her to do it. Hot water on a tea bag isn’t an espresso beverage, Becka. You can manage this one.

As I handed the mint tea over to Evan, I studied his face. He hadn’t spoken the whole time he was standing there. “Everything okay?” I asked quietly.

“Yeah. No. Yeah. It’s… we’ll talk when you get off.”

Fuck! I had to know now! Fucking Becka. The store’s dead, give me five minutes to talk to my boyfriend.

I watched him walk over to the seating area, his massive ass flexing and shifting with each step, the downlighting striking dramatic angles on his body, the vast globes, the planes and depressions, the sheer topography of him.

The store remodeled after the pandemic, made the cafe less comfortable, made the chairs smaller, harder, less welcoming. I hated it. Normal people couldn’t really sit comfortably in them. Evan? It would have been comical if he didn’t look like a puppy dog lost in a rainstorm, if something wasn’t clearly wrong. His tall mint tea looked like a novelty miniature compared to his enormous body. He set it on the table in front of him and pulled out his phone. His thumbs flying. I stared at his face, trying to interpret every shift of his eyebrows, every quirk of his mouth. What happened when he was out with my Dad and his idiot friends?

Becka was standing next to me before I realized it. “See something you like?” she sneered. I must have jumped a foot.

“Evan’s my foster brother,” I lied. I wasn’t going to have a repeat of the situation with Brad. He was a friendly stoner who wouldn’t hurt a fly, I wasn’t really that worried about him, he’d just taken me off-guard. Becka, though, she was a shark in the shape of a sorority girl.

“Foster-brother, huh.” She didn’t sound convinced.

“He only moved into our house last year, he’s had a tough life, I’m worried something happened. Normally he’s a lot more upbeat. Clearly he came here to find me, not to drink a mint tea in the corner.”

“Well, too bad. You’re an employee, not a social worker. You can comfort your ‘foster brother’ in your own time.”

The rest of the shift was excruciating. Made worse by the fact that almost no customers came in, so there was plenty of time for me to watch as Evan very obviously sank deeper and deeper into whatever black hole he was trapped in. I almost quit on the spot, ripped off my too-tight apron just to run over to him.

But I didn’t.

Becka walked over to kick him out at 7. “We’re closing for the night, sir.”

From my place behind the counter, I called out. “For god’s sake, Becka, he’s my ride home, let him sit in the chair while we close.”

Becka smiled the smile of a petty tyrant. “I don’t think Joanne would be too happy with me if I let that happen,” she said.

“It’s okay, Atticus, I’ll wait in the car,” Evan said, hauling his enormous weight up out of the chair, which groaned in relief. I wonder just how many pounds the stupid little piece of furniture was rated for… We definitely had some obese patrons who outweighed Evan, but there’s something about muscular weight that just seems… more directional. More difficult to handle, to hold.

I tried to rush closing, but Becka sensed my hurry and dragged her feet, made me re-do things, seemed to delight in my frustration. What a fun way to learn my coworker’s a repressed sadist. Finally, we were done. I was free, and I almost ran for the door, pulling off my apron even as I hurried out.

The parking lot was almost empty—most of the stores in the big box complex were closed already. Evan’s car was by itself. Even as the light was fading, I could see there was no one behind the wheel.

“Evan?” I called out. “Evan?” I repeated, louder, when there was no answer. His car was right there, the other stores nearby were closed… where was he?

I pulled out my phone. Texted him. “Hey, I finally escaped where are you? I can see your car.”

I stood there like a chump, waiting. Becka emerged from the store, smiled a sickly smile at me, and wished me a good night.

Evan’s empty car just sat there. The world was deafening in its quiet. I was starting to get scared, now. What had happened? Where was he? Paranoid fantasies about my Dad’s shitty friends began to boil over in my brain. Had he been abducted? Should I call the police? What would I tell them? Would they even help us?

Get a grip, Atticus. Look around. He won’t have gone far.

I examined his car first. His gym bag was on the backseat, a half-drunk protein shaker in the cupholder up front. He clearly had intentions of coming back. No signs of violence or struggle. I tried the car door and it opened. Not locked.

I looked around. If I was Evan, and if something had happened to disturb or upset me where would I have gone?

Maybe I should have been systematic. Looked in a sweeping grid pattern, or an expanding spiral, or something. I don’t know what you’re supposed to do. I know I just let my feet guide me, as my heart climbed its way up into my throat. I stacked sandbags in my mind against the flood of fear that was steadily rising. Keep it together, Atticus. He needs you to keep it together.

Where was he?

I found him around the back of the supermarket, by the dumpsters, near the chainlink fence, train tracks on the other side, although I’d never seen or heard a train go by. He was huddled, sitting on a concrete divider, curled in on himself. I could see his body shaking. Could hear his ragged breathing. It wasn’t a normal sort of crying, the noises he was making. He sounded like a hurt, lost animal.

“...Evan?” I said hesitantly, not sure if I should approach.

He sniffed loudly and looked up at me. His face was a wreck, eyes red, nose snotty, features strained, like he was about to break apart. He was holding his phone, I noticed, had been staring at it.

He sniffed again, took a long shaky breath in. “Fuck, you’re finished, I didn’t mean to be gone so long, I… Sorry, I…” he managed before breaking again, unable to get anything else out. I walked over, put my arm as far around his massive shoulders as I could reach, glanced at the phone he was clutching.

There was a picture on it. It was Evan, smaller than he was now but still solidly built, standing next to a frail, sickly-looking middle-aged man with an oxygen cannula under his nose. The other man’s clothes were too big for him. They were both smiling at the camera.

Evan noticed me looking. “‘s my dad,” he managed to get out. “My birthday last year. Ten days before he…”—then he broke again. But he said enough for me to fill in the rest. I pulled him closer to me while he cried, circled around to pull his face into my chest, felt him shaking as I held him.

“Shhh, shhh,” I said, not sure what else I was supposed to say. “It’s okay.”

Evan whimpered. I felt him shaking his head ‘no.’ “‘S not okay,” he said, muffled. “Not okay.” He took a few hard, fast breaths, like he was trying to gather his strength for something, and then he whispered, barely audible, “I miss my dad” before losing his voice again. He sobbed hard, like the sounds hurt him as they escaped his throat.

I didn’t know what to tell him. I didn’t know what to do. I just kept holding him while he cried himself out. I don’t know how long it took. We were behind a supermarket in a queer-hating southern town, and I was holding my boyfriend while he cried like a baby. The sun had set and it was starting to get dark.

Eventually he pulled away from me, straightened up, laughed shakily at himself, wiped the snot from his nose with the back of his hand. “I got your work shirt all messed up,” he said, looking at the slimy mess he’d left behind.

“Like that matters,” I said.

“Sorry, Atticus, it’s just… I should have known I wouldn’t have the strength to handle today. Your dad… he’s nothing like my dad, but he… it reminded me… and we’re so close to the day… my birthday, then the day he…”

“You don’t have to explain,” I said.

“No, but I want to.” He stopped, did that slow breathing thing I’d noticed him doing a few days back. I waited for him to resume speaking. “Dad… always made my birthday special. This one coming is my first one without him. He used to take me out of town. We’d get ice cream and do something, like go to this waterfall not too far away, or maybe the beach, or a museum, or something like that. He made sure to spend the day with me, just me and him. Last year…” I could feel the stress in his voice, could hear it threatening to break again, but he regained control and kept talking. “He got the diagnosis in November. Told the family at Thanksgiving. Emptied out his savings, tried every single thing that could be tried. But it was just… too advanced. Too aggressive. It moved so fast. He went into hospice start of April. That picture is from the garden outside. He insisted on taking me on my birthday trip. Even if it was just 100 feet. A nurse took that photo. Mom never visited him in hospice.” Evan sniffed loudly and wiped away more snot. “And ten days later he was gone. And he’s been gone ever since.” For all his mass, his strength, his power, he sounded so little and lost.

I nodded, not sure if I should say anything, wanting to let him know I was listening. “You were close with your dad.”

Evan nodded. “Mm-hmm. Yeah. He was… he was really great. I came out to him on that last birthday. I wish I’d been brave enough to do it sooner. But he hugged me and he said…” Evan’s face scrunched and he started breathing fast again. “He said… he loved me and he was… proud of me… and he knew there was a guy out there… who’d treat me right… and… and he was just sorry… sorry he’d never get to meet him.” Evan was full-on crying again, now, and I pulled him back in.

He collected himself more quickly this time, though, only a minute or so. He pulled back, his face wet like pavement after rain, his nose running, his big dark eyes peering into mine, shining. “He would have really liked you,” he said, simply, holding my shoulders in his big strong hands, holding my gaze. “He would have loved you.”

What do you say in response to something like that? I let the moment hang without words. Eventually, I had to speak. “I’m glad we’re going on our trip next weekend,” I said.

“Yeah, it’s exciting, you’re going to get so huge, I can’t wait.”

“No, idiot. I mean, that’s exciting, too. But… we’re going somewhere for your birthday. Now I know what that means… I’m really glad it worked out that way. I promise we’ll always do something, every year, okay? Me and you.”

Evan smiled even as his eyes crinkled and started watering again. He pulled me in this time, a rib-creaking hug. “Thank you, Atticus,” he whispered, simply.

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We drove around til almost midnight. We didn’t do much more than hold hands and talk, yet I never felt closer to Evan than I did then. His voice was raw, his eyes red, but he had a feeling… kind of like how a day feels after a big rainstorm. Cleansed. Open.

“I hate to ask, but… how did it actually go with my dad and his idiot friends?” I said eventually as we pointlessly burned fossil fuel on a backroad, the moon big and full in the sky to our left.

Evan grimaced. “Not great… but nothing we have to worry about tonight. I’ll tell you later, if that’s all right. Today’s been a lot. We’re still safe, for now.” He dropped his right hand off the wheel and reached toward me; I caught it and gave it a squeeze.

“I was so worried,” I said.

“How do you think I felt? I was shitting bullets, or sweating bricks, or whatever. God, straight men. I had to take so much shit with a smile. I don’t know why they think insulting each other is a way of showing affection. Oh, one thing, though. Your dad gave me, uh, I guess The Talk? About Emily.”

“Oh?”

“He said he’d be happy to welcome me as his son-in-law, but that we couldn’t have sex before we got married. Not in those words. Something more like, he’s got a twelve gauge shotgun and he’ll use it if I… ‘spoil her.’” Evan grimaced. “Have I mentioned I really hate straight men.”

“At least that gives us some cover for our trip next weekend.”

“Yes. That’s true. Boy, I can’t wait for that. It’s going to be so good to just… be with you, Atticus. I hate all this sneaking around. We need to get the fuck out of this town.” Evan seemed to grow thoughtful. He fell silent, his knuckles tightening on the steering wheel slightly.

“Thinking about something?” I asked after a few moments had passed.

“Yeah.” He glanced at me, like he was considering elaborating. “Never mind, though. Not tonight. Soon, but not tonight.”

“Fucking hell, Evan, you’ve just gotta retain a shred of mystery, don’t you.”

Evan chuckled. “Fair. It’s just… too much for right now, and I’m already exhausted. I promise, when we’re in the city next week, we’ll talk about it, okay?”

“Okay.”

Evan glanced at me and grinned, some of his boyish exuberance returning. “Fuck, I love you,” he said, his face breaking into a gigantic grin.

“I love you too, Evan.”

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“Welcome to Casa Emilia,” Emily said, pushing open the front door of the midrise apartment building to let Evan and me inside. “Jesus,” she said with her next breath, getting a good look at us. “What the fuck have you two boys been doing? You’re enormous.”

“Good to see you too, big sis,” I said, smiling, pulling her into a hug. Somehow, enveloping her petite frame in my newly muscled arms made me realize just how much my body had indeed changed in the last four months. Evan was next, and observing, it was hard to believe Evan and Emily were even the same species; he was about three times her size.

“How’s my beard?” Evan grinned as they broke apart.

I frowned. Evan had always been clean-shaven.

“Delighted to see the two of you safe and sound,” Emily replied. She clocked my confused expression. “Evan… you’ve neglected his education, this is concerning. Although, also: amusing.” Evan gave me a Cheshire grin that mirrored Emily’s. Evidently, neither my boyfriend nor my sister were going to enlighten me as to what was going on. “Come on upstairs.”

We walked into Emily’s apartment. Her roommate was sitting on the couch; she jumped to her feet as we walked in and hurried over. “This is Imani,” Emily said.

“It’s so good to finally meet you!” Imani said, gathering me into a giant hug. She had a wonderful smell that I couldn’t quite put my finger on, and a big, bright smile. She seemed genuinely delighted. Her dark hair was in a multitude of small braids, with little beads that clacked as she moved. “Emily never shuts up about her sweet little brother and his big lunk of a boyfriend,” she said warmly, releasing me and giving Evan a hug. “Our home is your home for as long as you’re here, and whenever you need it. You’re family!”

From behind us, Emily gave directions. “There’s a pull-out in the office, which… hoo boy, I hope it can hold your weight. Christ, the two of you together must be close to 500 pounds.”

Evan shrugged his mountainous shoulders. “Yeah, that’s about right.”

I grabbed Evan’s bag and my own and deposited them in the office. It wasn’t a big apartment. The office was clearly intended to be a bedroom, but it held a desktop computer and a futon, currently in sofa form. There was only one other bedroom. Gears were slowly turning in my head.

I walked back out, looked at Emily, Imani, Emily, Imani… “oh my fucking god,” I said, despite myself.

Evan’s faced crumpled as he tried to hold in his laugh. “You should see your face,” he said, voice shaking with suppressed mirth.

“Pick up your jaw, little brother. It can’t be that much of a shock, can it?”

“I… you… I…”

Imani crossed her arms with mock seriousness. “Emily, is your brother all right? Has he never met lesbians before? You seriously never told him?”

“No! He’s got to figure some things out for himself, doesn’t he? This one seemed real easy, I figured he’d piece the clues together eventually.”

“How long…?”

“We’ve been together for three years, we moved in together last September,” Imani said gently. “Maybe I should get you a glass of water. Or some tea?”

I nodded gratefully. “Tea.”

Emily stepped forward and took my hand, leading me into the living room. “I didn’t want to deceive you, little brother… I almost came out to you when I saw you agonizing over me and Evan at Christmas, but, well, I could tell he was a big ol’ homo the minute I laid eyes on him, and, how shall I put it… he’s seriously not my type? Anyway, I told you not to worry about it, and I hoped you might put the rest together on your own…”

I looked at Evan, who was still clogging the hallway with his immense bulk. “Did you know?”

“Back at Christmas? No, but I suspected. Emily’s got big pixie queer femme energy, but I dunno, I thought maybe things were different in the south. I knew she wasn’t into me, though, and anyway, I was desperate to get your attention at that point, so. It made sense to make her into an ally. But yeah, I’ve known for a couple months now. We text a lot.”

“Tea,” Imani announced, stepping back into the living room with a steaming cup, little string and tag hanging over the side. “Milk or sugar?”

I shook my head no. “Thanks. Do Mom and Dad…”

Emily threw her head back and barked a laugh. “God, no! Ty, can you even imagine? Living in sin, with a black girl? They’d disown me if the stroke didn’t kill them first. And that’d mean I couldn’t be there for my little brother. And, well, my little brother still needs me. So I pretend to be straight, for your sake. Once you and Evan escape that shit hole, I’ll tell them. Hopefully you’ll join me and tell them at the same time, although I won’t try to pressure you into that. That’s gotta be your own decision. But maybe, faced with losing both their children in the same moment, maybe—maybe—that’d give mom and dad enough pause to start deprogramming all the homophobic gunk clogging up their brains. I dunno. Probably not. It’s our best shot, though.”

I started laughing. I couldn’t even say why. I tried to start explaining a couple times, but my words failed before I could finish a sentence.

“Everything okay, Ty?” Emily asked as my laughter continued. I looked around the room, at my enormous musclebound boyfriend, my sister’s girlfriend, my sister, me, in this room in the city… we had our whole futures ahead of us. A year ago, I couldn’t imagine this. I kept laughing. Joyful disbelief.

“Yeah,” I said, managing to get myself under control. “Yeah, everything’s amazing.”

Evan stepped in, ruffled my hair, smiled down at me. “Goof,” he said, fondly.

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After about a half hour of chatting, Imani stood up in that way people stand up when they want others to notice. “Emily, darling, we had that thing this afternoon, didn’t we?”

“Oh yes, Imani, my sweet, that thing. We can’t be late.” The two of them began gathering things as if to leave.

“What thing?” I asked, suddenly concerned that we were an inconvenience. “Should we come, too?”

Emily paused, one arm inside a cardigan, and gave me a withering look. “Evan. Please explain to my dimwitted brother what’s happening.”

Evan put his heavy arm around my shoulder and squeezed me into his musclebound torso. It was like being abducted by a sentient rockslide. “Your sister and her girlfriend are leaving so we can have sex,” he said plainly. I felt my face catch fire.

“Gay men are so romantic,” Imani quipped, looking up with a grin as she laced her boots.

“Blunt, but correct. We know mom and dad’s house is basically blue balls palace for the two of you. We want to make sure we get out of your hair regularly this weekend. Just… text us when you’re done, all right? We’re actually just going to the cafe down the block to read and hang out. Have fun! I mean it!”

And then they were gone.

I turned toward Evan. “So, do you want to—” and then he was on me. Yanking my pants down and sucking on my dick like he was invented by Dyson. Not taking his mouth off my crotch, he lifted me up and carried me into the office where the futon had been converted into a bed for us. He threw me onto the futon and stood over me like a glutton before a buffet.

“Fuck, Atticus, I’ve wanted your dick in my mouth all fucking day, I almost blew you at that rest stop halfway here,” Evan paused to pant before diving in to resume his enthusiastic blowjob.

I looked down at him, his spiky black hair, his massive traps, his mega-wide shoulders, the twin ridges of his back, more muscle in each spinal erector than most men have on their goddamn bodies. My boyfriend was a freak, and he had one mission in life: to make me cum. I whimpered, feeling him move, like a relentless machine. My balls pulled up as I got close.

That made Evan stop. “Ah ah. Not yet,” he said, standing up, pulling off his shirt and pants. I made an involuntary sound as he kicked his clothes to the side. He stood before me, fully naked. I’d seen it all before, of course, but something about this moment, the fact we were in a place where we didn’t have to worry, didn’t have to hide, it was like seeing him with new eyes.

His pecs were so huge they sagged under their own weight when relaxed, but jumped into steel-hard orbs with the smallest movement. His arms were overstuffed with meat, almost too much muscle for the limbs to handle, like the movement of his elbow joint had to be compromised somewhat. His cum gutters were elegant filigrees drawing the eye down to his substantial dick, uncut, veiny, throbbing. I could see the curve of his massive glutes from the front. I whimpered again, and my exposed dick, still wet with Evan’s spit, pulsed involuntarily, releasing a spurt of hot pre. He crouched to rummage in his backpack, pulling out a bottle of lube.

“Didn’t have a chance to prep,” Evan said warily as he moved in toward me. “But I think it’ll be okay. Just be careful.”

Minutes later, the head of my massive cock pushed into Evan’s ass, and I felt the blinding flash of pleasure as the rim of my corona passed the ring of his muscle. If anything, it was better than the first time, somehow. Evan was gasping and moaning, giving hitched little breaths as I slowly pushed into him, inch by inch, watched his watermelon-sized glutes be parted by my mega-dick.

“Atticus,” Evan whimpered. “Fuck me.”

Slowly. Slowly. Inch after inch. “God, you’re about to poke my fucking lungs,” Evan gasped. “Just how fucking hung are you??”

Finally, I was totally in. I held myself there for a minute, my pubes pressed against Evan’s glutes, my arms trying and failing to encircle his doublewide garage-door lats. It felt like I was fucking a warm, living mountain of flesh. I couldn’t help myself. I’d been slow and careful this whole time. One small buck of my hips became two, become many, not small, not careful. Soon I was jackhammering Evan, I couldn’t help myself, or stop myself. He was groaning, loud, intense. I could feel my entire length inside of him, each micrometer being gripped and massaged by him, pulled deeper. I wanted to be absorbed into Evan’s ass, in that moment. I was delirious.

“Ah! Ah! Ah! I’m cumming!” I exclaimed. It had snuck up on me. I had no warning beyond that. Evan was insensible, he was babbling, as I rammed my dick in harder than ever and held it there as spurt after spurt left me. I never felt anything like that. My cum flowing out of my dick deep into Evan felt better than anything I’d ever felt before.

I collapsed onto him, whimpering, crying. Limply, vainly, I tried to reach around him to maybe give him an ineffective handjob, to help him get off. My searching, fumbling fingers found puddles of hot goo. Evan had already cum—a lot.

I felt myself slithering out of him, still half-hard. He was trembling, his massive muscles quivering and flexing involuntarily. But he managed to flip me around so we were lying face to face. He kissed me deep, his tongue exploring my mouth, our lips parting, pressing together.

“I fucking love you,” he grunted, quiet, breath hot. “I can’t wait to see them slide that little needle into your ass cheek tomorrow. You’re gonna get bigger than me, Atticus. I just fucking know it. I can’t wait to see it. Fuck.”

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“We should let Emily and Imani know they can come back,” I said after we’d cuddled for some time.

Evan sighed. “Not yet.”

“It’s their house, Evan.”

“I know, I know, it’s just…” he grimaced. “There’s something I need to tell you and I wanted to do it in private, and, well, if I don’t do it now, then my last excuse is gone.”

My stomach flipped. “What?”

“... Okay. So. Uh. I’ve got… I’ve been supporting myself financially… since before I even left California… with an OnlyFans page.”

I waited for more. Was that it? “Evan, babe… I’m so sorry I’ve kept this from you, but I’ve known about that since Christmas. I… may have accidentally… seen it on your laptop.” I squirmed a little, trying to put a positive spin on ‘I invaded your privacy.’

“Oh, you mean that actually worked? I… was trying to find ways to let you know I’m gay, hoping it would jump-start something between us.”

I squawked. “You idiot! On the very first day you arrived, if you had snapped your fingers in my direction I would have cum in my pants!”

“Okay, but like… you know my OnlyFans?”

“Not really,” I confessed. “I saw that you had one, then my conscience struck and I stopped snooping. I only saw two posts, and neither was very informative. I did see your cock in one of them, which was too bad. I hate spoilers.”

“Oh! Okay, well… maybe go and have a better look at my profile some time.”

“Is that…all?”

Evan grimaced again. “No. It was just context. So, at the driving range with your dad and his friends… you know Tanner?”

One of dad’s awful friends. Real unpleasant guy, tall, bad teeth, breath stinks, always grins at me in a way that gives me the creeps. “Tanner, yeah, I know him.”

“Well. He cornered me at one point, away from the others, and pulled out his phone and… it had my OnlyFans page open on it. He said…” Evan took a big breath and let it out slowly. “He said… if I didn’t ‘rail Dan’s shitty little twink son hard enough to make him cry and post a video of it,’ then he’d send my OnlyFans to your parents.” Dan is my dad.

My stomach clenched. “But, Evan, this… this is awful. What are we gonna do?”

Evan sighed. “I don’t know, Atticus. Whatever we do, we need to decide together. He didn’t give me a timeline, but I figured we’d be safe for at least a week, long enough to get here. Maybe we don’t go back. Or…” he seemed apprehensive. “We could do it, if you want to? You’re fucking gorgeous. We could make it into a joint account, we’d make enough money to live, easy. It could be our ticket out of that shithole town. I mean, I hate to give that creep what he wants, but if it keeps us safe and it helps us escape… we could do it?”

I closed my eyes and pinched the bridge of my nose. “I dunno, Evan. It’s a lot.”

“We don’t have to decide yet. I’m so sorry, Atticus, I really hoped this wouldn’t ruin our weekend.”

I opened my eyes and looked at my gorgeous muscle freak boyfriend, at the worried expression on his beautiful face. He really cared for me. He was really worried. “It’s okay, Evan. Whatever we do, it’s gonna be okay.”

Evan looked relieved at this show of confidence from me. “Yes. As long as we’re together. We can face anything, together.”

 

Part 10

I’d never been to a bodybuilding expo before, and I don’t think anything could have prepared me for the sight. The convention center was full of men, and most of them were bigger than me. Some of them were bigger than Evan. Sure, there were women there too, fitness girls or whatever, but my attention was so absorbed by the men… the girls were like a supercharged version of Becka, but the men… the men seemed like an alien species.

The air felt charged, different. I couldn’t help but think of the gallons of testosterone contained within this large room. I swear I could smell it, or something—even though it all smelled basically… like normal air. I can’t explain it. Everywhere I looked, unnaturally muscular men, big round glutes in tight grey sweatpants, big pecs pushing out the fronts of tanktops, making the straps into twin suspension bridges leading up to mounded traps… the way these men just walked. The way they took up space. The way they looked around. The way they looked at each other.

The way they looked at me.

“Evan!” I hissed as we awkwardly moved through the crowd. “I don’t belong here.”

Evan glanced at me, his eyes soft. “I get it. I felt the same way last year. Sometimes I still feel that way. But I promise you it’s all in your head. You see some big mean piece of meat staring at you like you did something wrong? He’s probably imagining getting your ankles onto his shoulders. Or vice versa. I swear to you, you fit in. You look like a fit athletic 19-year-old who’s eager to grow. And isn’t that exactly what you are?”

I shrugged uncomfortably, not really able to refute Evan’s argument, yet wanting to.

“Seriously, Atticus, just enjoy the eye candy. You think I’m big? Check out the dude over there.”

Evan nodded at a severely handsome man with dark hair and thick eyebrows, standing at a booth selling some preworkout I’d never heard of. He glanced out at the crowd with a sexy glower. He was so huge that he looked uncomfortable, like there was no way for him to stand without his own muscles getting in his way. He was somewhere between my height and Evan’s, maybe 6 foot, and he was over 400 pounds if he was an ounce. He raised a hand to scratch an itch on the side of his head and he could barely make contact between his fingertips and his scalp, his biceps and pecs colliding to prevent it.

I felt my cock involuntarily pulse and throb in my pants. “Fuck,” I whimpered.

“I know, right? Definitely a dude who’s been on the juice for at least a year, maybe more, depending how big he was when he started… I’d say he’s got another 30-40 pounds to grow before he maxes out. Even then, he’ll still gain a couple pounds of muscle a year as long as he keeps taking the stuff. Wild, isn’t it?”

“Shit! He saw us watching him!”

Before Evan could reassure me, the dude’s scowling face broke into a lascivious grin, like one of those billboards that shifts between two completely different ads. He bounced his massive pecs, left, right, left, right, then flexed both of them hard. They damn near hit his chin. Then he winked and cocked an eyebrow at us.

I was rapidly approaching full mast, and quite aware that my, uh, endowment could not be disguised or concealed. The massive juiced-up beast’s eyes momentarily widened as he clocked what I was packing.

“See you at the afterparty?” Evan called out to him.

“Oh yeah,” the dude answered in a gruff, gravelly voice. “You’ll be seeing a lot of me, I hope.”

We moved past the booth. “What did I tell you, Atticus? That dude was practically on his knees begging for it,” Evan said quietly.

My heart was racing. I felt supercharged and also spaced out, like my brain was simultaneously in fifth gear and in neutral. “Evan, we… we never talked about… if we were… exclusive or… or…?”

Evan gave a big laugh. “You’re so fucking cute, Atticus. I’m gonna let you call the shots on that one. I’m happy to look but not touch, but hey, maybe you feel different? We’re young. You’re my first boyfriend, and I know I’m your first, too. I think most people in our situation are pretty jealous and territorial. I mean, you’re… I think you’re really special. Like, incredibly special. I never dreamed I would luck into someone like you—I didn’t even know you were still living at home when I scammed my way into that spare bedroom. But if you ever want to, uh, sample from the buffet… I won’t care. As long as you still like me I’ll be good. I mean, I think so. Won’t really know ‘til it happens.”

“You think that dude would be into both of us? Maybe that’s a good way to, uh, experiment with how we feel about things?”

Evan grinned at me. “Maybe he’s into the two of us. But his eyes were fully focused on Atticus Junior, there, and he looks like he almost swallowed his tongue in shock.” He nodded at the obvious bulge in my pants. “Not that I blame him, I still want to do a double take every time I see it. We’ll see. We don’t need to make these decisions just now.”

“Hey, what did you mean by ‘the afterparty’?”

We were approaching the large Mutant Juice booth, which had big, easy-to-spot signage. “Later!” Evan said quickly as a man swooped out of the crowd to throw his arms around Evan in a familiar hug.

“Evan!” he exclaimed dramatically, and the voice clued me in—it was Matteo. “And not-so-little Atticus!” He released Evan from the hug and offered me a handshake. “Good to see both of you, hope you’re enjoying the show.”

“It sure is something,” I said blandly, unable to think of anything better.

“Just a little paperwork for you to sign, Atticus, and then we can do the deed, but I should introduce you to the team first. After all, you’ll be working pretty closely with some of them, and with myself, of course.”

I gave a blank stare. “Sorry, what?”

Matteo paused. “Oh my. Oh my dear. It seems we haven’t been communicating clearly. The Juice you’re about to receive is coming from the pool we set aside for promotional purposes. It’s how you’re able to jump the line—that, and we’re all just so fond of Evan, here. It won’t cost you a dime, but we do require you to make regular social media posts showing your progress, and we have the right to call on you no more than three times a year to participate in official photoshoots or public appearances.” Matteo gestured at the big booth, one of the anchor tenants at the expo. “All the guys you see in the black squarecut shorts with the little MJ logo on the left ass signed the same contracts.”

My eyes followed Matteo’s hand. The booth was populated by a half dozen behemoths, ranging in size from about equal to Evan to significantly bigger than the mass monster who had propositioned us a moment before. I felt my mouth going dry at the sight. I simply could not imagine shrimpy gawky little me wearing those shorts, standing alongside those men. It was comical.

I glanced at Evan. I don’t think he quite realized this was the nature of the deal, either. “Matteo, I don’t think we… knew that was what Atticus was signing up for. He’s still in the closet, and this will be a lot of exposure.”

Matteo barked a laugh. “So’s Antoine, and so’s Justin, and probably a couple others even I don’t know about. I keep telling them it’s safe to come out now, but they just won’t do it. Their decision!”

“His parents don’t know he’s doing this, though.”

Matteo’s eyes narrowed, like he suddenly became distrustful. “I thought you said he was 19.”

“I am!,” I interjected. “I turn 20 in August!”

“So what’s the big deal? You’re an adult, parents don’t like it, big whoop? You better be fucking 19, though, we could get into some truly rancid shit if we give this to a minor. Some members of the board want us to restrict it to 25 and up out of an abundance of caution.” Something about the way Matteo said that gave me the impression he didn’t think highly of that opinion. “Off the record, and I’ll deny I ever said this, but I wish we could try it on someone even younger. Evan was one of our youngest-ever, he’d only just turned 19, and look at the fucking size of him, in just a year—seems clear to me that the closer to puberty you are, the harder it hits. Although we’ve had dudes in their 60s and 70s take it too, and the results are still pretty fucking phenomenal. Anyway. So help me out, here Atticus. What’s the problem?”

I stammered. “I… I dunno, it’s just… I haven’t had a chance to think about it.”

“If you think it’s a little exploitative, there’s a chance to renew, renegotiate, or cancel every year—if you cancel, the free Mutant Juice supply stops, of course. And we know that even a freebie isn’t nearly enough to pay you—you’ll also get money based on how well your social media posts perform, plus a pretty generous appearance fee for any photoshoot or event you represent us at. It’s like a little part time job. Like getting more muscular than your wildest dreams is going to be your actual job, Atticus. Isn’t that exciting?”

I looked at Matteo. Fuck, he was a handsome man. Cute, really. Clearly he didn’t take his own product—he was fit, athletic, but not noticeably muscular. His dark eyes glittered, he had a cute button nose, and his mouth was, frankly, beautiful; sensuous lips that curved naturally, made it seem like he smiled often, warmly and honestly.

I looked at Evan. We had been talking about ways to get out of my parents’ house, to get out of my prison of a hometown… maybe this could be part of that solution? He smiled at me, supportive, letting me speak for myself.

“Okay. It sounds good to me. Sorry for the hesitation. It was just unexpected. You’re very generous.”

Matteo smiled. “You’re the smallest guy we’ve ever offered a promotional contact to, but you’re very handsome, and your gym progress in just four months suggests you’re going to inflate like a balloon once we get this Juice in you. The before and after pics are going to be jaw-droppers. You’re going to break a lot of hearts and milk a lot of cocks, Atticus. And you’re going to help us sell a lot of Mutant Juice, too. Now, which one of our Spokesmutants do you want to do the deed?”

I looked at the guys in square-cut black shorts again. I didn’t even know most of their names. Then I looked at Evan. There was no one else I wanted more than him.

“Well… I know it’s not what you asked but… maybe Evan could do it?”

Matteo thought for a second. “We’ll get Rob to supervise, just for legal reasons. And if anyone asks, Rob did the shot. But getting a Spokesmutant to give you your first jab is like, a perk. It’s supposed to be something you enjoy. So, if you want Evan to do it… that’s in keeping with the spirit of things. Hey! Hey Rob! Get over here!” Matteo raised his voice and started bouncing up and down, waving his hand in the air back toward the booth.

One of the biggest booth-behemoths noticed, and nudged a man standing next to him, whose back was to us. I belatedly clocked how big the second man was; he wasn’t showing much skin, so it was possible to look past him, but once you noticed him, it was clear he was an utter powerhouse.

He was in some faded jeans that had to be custom made; his huge ass was testing the seams, and despite his wide-set stance his thighs were clearly pressed together two thirds of the way down to his knees. He was wearing a tucked-in polo shirt that was baggy around the waist but tight as hell everywhere else. His back was b r o a d. As he turned to us, his face took me aback—I expected another sexy stud, but from the neck up he looked like… a vice-principle? An accountant? Short cropped salt-and-pepper hair, obviously balding, round wire-frame glasses with watery blue eyes, thin lips drawn, mouth a flat line, maybe 40… He noticed Matteo waving and began lumbering our way. Everyone quickly got out of his way—he wasn’t the biggest guy at the booth, although he was substantially bigger than Evan, but he was clearly the most important person at the booth.

“This is Rob, our CEO,” Matteo said warmly as he got close by. “Rob, you remember Evan, from San Jose last year? We had lunch with him. This is his boyfriend, Atticus, the new promo recruit I was telling you about.”

Rob looked me up and down, and I felt stripped naked. He was clearly assessing me. This man was probably twice my age, and I could tell he was no bullshit. “He’s too young and too small,” Rob said gruffly. “No offense, kid.”

Matteo frowned. “The decision’s already been made, Rob. He’s already in the system. It’s my department and the board signed off on it. He’s 19 and he’s made incredible natural gains in just a few months. As you would remember from the last board meeting, unless you weren’t paying attention…”

Some thoughts passed across Rob’s stony face like high, fast clouds in a clear sky. “Okay,” he said, softening his manner. “Sorry, Atticus. I’ve been under a lot of pressure. Just remember, you’re representing our company. Don’t get us in trouble, okay? More and more there are people trying to take us down.” I must have looked confused, or surprised, or scared, because Rob sighed. “Nothing you have to worry about. Just stuff I have to worry about. Why did you call me over, Matteo? Just to say hi?”

“Atticus wants Evan to administer his first shot, instead of one of our guys. I figure you can just… oversee it, and if anyone asks we’ll say you did it. I don’t see why we can’t fib, Evan knows what he’s doing and it’s kind of sweet, don’t you think? Puppy love.” Rob looked skeptical. “Oh come on, Rob, you gave Angelo every single one of his shots, and it’s not like that was particularly safe or ethical when you did it, was it?”

Rob sighed, like he was defeated. “Okay, okay. You’re right. You win. Follow me behind the curtain, boys.” He turned, slowly and deliberately, like a fully laden cargo ship, and lumbered back toward the booth; Evan and I hurried after, leaving Matteo, who was grinning at us playfully.

In short order, we were in a little private area, curtained off from view. My pants were around my ankles. I stood awkwardly, chubbed-up dick dangling, a cool alcohol swab rubbing against my right buttcheek. “I promise it won’t hurt at all,” Evan said gently as he removed a pre-filled syringe from its sterile wrapper and popped the top off the needle.

Rob watched, trying to be business-like and bored, but I could tell he enjoyed this at some level, even if he had misgivings at the wisdom of it. I tried to stay calm, but I couldn’t help it. I’d been waiting for this moment for months, and I was already hyperstimulated by all the muscle around me; my cock twitched and rose as I felt Evan’s warm, calloused hand on my skin, steadying me. I felt the needle part my pale skin; Evan was right, it didn’t hurt at all. Fifteen seconds of pressure, that’s all. My cock bucked involuntarily, hardening up as Evan depressed the plunger. I felt it dribble pre, my disobedient dick drooling in front of the Mutant Juice CEO. My face was burning up. The corner of Rob’s thin lips quirked into a smile. “You’re not the first one to have that reaction, kid,” he said reassuringly, voice warm gravel.

And it was done. The Mutant Juice was in me. The stuff that had turned Evan from a dorky gamer nerd into a titanic muscle god would now begin its work on transforming me.

Evan’s hand left my skin, he stood up and tossed the empty syringe into the sharps container. I pulled my pants up, face still red hot; the little droplets of pre very obvious on the cement floor. Rob stepped forward, tossed a towel on the droplets like it was no big deal, then shook my hand. I felt a pleasant warmth spread through my body, unexpectedly delighted at this show of acceptance and kindness from the CEO who’d previously deemed me too small, too young.

“Welcome to the gang, kid. If no one’s told you already, watch for signs of extreme hunger developing within the next 12 to 36 hours,” Rob said. “You’ll be with Evan, and probably surrounded by Juiced up guys, so if it happens just speak up and we’ll know what to do. We should have your address on file, so you’ll get a box of four pre-filled syringes every month; take them once a week. If they’re ever late, it’s nothing to worry about—you can take a break from the Juice whenever you want without worrying about it. We’ll give you your first box to walk out with today.”

Evan broke in. “Oh, Rob, our living situation is pretty precarious, we might be relocating in the next month or two, mail could be dicey. Would it be okay to give Atticus like, two months of Juice instead of one, just today?”

Rob shrugged. “Yeah, sure. He’s getting it for free, so it’s not like we’ll be out any money. Knock yourself out.” Evan grabbed two boxes from the stack under the folding table and handed them to me; I tucked them into my backpack. Then something seemed to occur to Rob. “Let me just note that on Atticus’s file, though. I don’t think you’re trying to scam us, but… we really can’t have people re-selling Mutant Juice, and we really can’t have people overdosing on it. You remember what happened to Ole. Anyway. I trust you, just… making sure. So will you boys be at the afterparty?” Rob asked, brightening, as if trying to move off an unpleasant topic.

“I haven’t talked it over with Atticus, but probably, yeah.”

“Good. You should come. We shipped Angelo down.” Evan’s eyes went wide. “Yeah. It was his idea. He wanted to do a tour of the big shows in the U.S. ‘While he still can,’ is how he put it. There’s gonna be a couple of others there too. Smaller ones, of course.” Rob’s face broke into a satisfied smile.

Evan looked at me. “We have to go now, Atticus. You don’t understand. Angelo almost never makes an appearance.”

“Would someone please tell me who the hell ‘Angelo’ is?” I said, getting annoyed.

Rob chuckled at my frustration, looking for all the world like a favourite high school math teacher who had massively overdosed on steroids. “He’s my husband, pup,” he said fondly, grinning.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

We sat outside the convention center, eating Chipotle bowls as a treat. I made Evan explain this ‘afterparty.’

“It’s an invite-only event people expect the Mutant Juice guys to do at any expo and show where they set up a booth. They hire out some space, usually like a small warehouse outside town. I say invite-only but it’s not like it’s hard to get one, the afterparty is for any and all juiced up gay guys who want to come. Being on Mutant Juice and being a man who has sex with men are like, the only criteria. It’s like, part rave, part cocktail party, part strip show, part orgy. Or at least that’s my impression. I… actually haven’t ever been to one. I was too shy back in San Jose last summer, and that was my only chance before today. But they’re kind of notorious. They’re supposed to be camera-free zones, but every now and then you’ll get like, a blurry pic, or maybe a short shaky video… they seem wild. Like, naked freak muscle fucking on the dancefloor wild.”

I felt anxiety rise in my stomach. “Not really our scene, is it?”

Evan smiled reassuringly at me. “No, it isn’t. Why do you think I skipped the one in San Jose? But it’s something neither of us have experienced before, and we’ve been explicitly invited by the CEO, and that 400-pounder who was gagging for your cock will be there, and, well… Angelo.”

“Rob’s husband.”

“Not just that, Atticus. Angelo was the first-ever Leviathan. Rob, Matteo, and a few other gay guys developed Mutant Juice during the pandemic, and they had a pretty big human trial, but they still had no idea a tiny tiny percentage of guys would just… explode on the Juice, like, no limits no brakes growth. Rob must have started Angelo on it before it went to market, and well… he wasn’t ever a pro bodybuilder or famous or anything, and he keeps a low profile, but people in the know talk about him like he’s the fuckin’ Yeti. I think the guys who run the company are nervous that if the public knew just how freakishly huge Leviathans can get, they’d ban the product, schedule it as a dangerous drug, something like that. Although that’s a ticking clock, considering the few dozen other Leviathans lumbering around in plain sight just keep growing and growing. Anyway, it’s like, a rare privilege to even see him. Usually you have to be invited to Rob’s house, and like you saw he’s not exactly Mr. Sociable.”

“So… how big is Angelo?”

“I dunno. Guess we’ll find out tonight. There’s rumours and gossip but you know that can’t be trusted. But I do know some of the, uh, public-facing leviathans are up to like 1100, 1200 pounds now, require live-in caretakers, can’t really walk on their own anymore… Angelo has to be bigger than them, since he got a head start.”

My heart started pounding. All the cryptic warnings I’d heard, the explanations that were deliberately light on details… “I could end up housebound? Or bedbound? Like one of those My 600 pounds Life guys except with muscle instead of fat?”

Evan shrugged. “Could, but almost certainly won’t. 99.99% of guys, they rocket up to 300 pounds, then jog along to 400, then crawl to 425 or 450, and then kind of stall out there. Adjusted for height, of course. That’s gonna be me and that’s gonna be you too, Atticus. Being a Leviathan is like winning the lottery, you don’t expect it to happen, and you certainly don’t plan around it.”

I looked down at my Chipotle bowl. I was having trouble finishing it. “I guess I don’t have that hunger he warned me about,” I said, glumly stirring the rice and chicken.

Evan smiled warmly at me. “Cheer up, Atticus. Shouldn’t 450 pounds be enough for just about anyone? Plus, that means we can still go to Palm Springs, or walk around the MOMA, or whatever other gay shit you want to do together.”

“What about the afterparty?”

“We’ll go, we’ll look at Living Wonder of the World Angelo just to say we saw him, we’ll be polite to Matteo and Rob, and then, if we don’t like the scene, we’ll get an Uber back to Emily’s. Deal?”

I looked at him. Fuck, he was beautiful. “Deal.”

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

The warehouse was far more impressive than I’d expected. Clearly a team had spent a few days preparing it, cleaning it up, setting up lighting equipment, and so on. The bar technically had a few alcoholic drinks but I noticed almost no one was ordering them—alcohol and bodybuilding don’t mix, as Evan had drilled into me. Instead, a lot of people were walking around with fancy protein drinks in cocktail glasses, an innovation I never expected and found myself delighted by. I ordered a Proteina Colada and stood next to Evan on the mezzanine, taking in the scene.

I was definitely the smallest guy here, but that made sense. Rob said guys were typically bigger than me before they started the Juice, and my first dose was only 12 hours ago. Yet everyone smiled at me, many of them enthusiastically. Like they knew I was a bomb whose fuse had just been lit, and they were eager to see the explosion in the weeks and months to come.

The music was pounding, at the level where you have to lean into someone’s ear and shout, but Evan told me there were multiple chillout rooms where you could talk normally. I watched these 250, 350, 450 pounds men ‘dance,’ if you could call it that. Some of the smaller and medium sized—relatively—guys were good dancers, but it was clear that 450 pounds of raw muscle just isn’t built to bust a move. Just bust a button. Or a chair.

Some guys were in custom-made harnesses and jockstraps, big meaty asses on full display. Others were in colourful and revealing clubwear, cut-off tank-tops, tight booty-shorts. Others were bursting out of jeans and t-shirts, although the t-shirts didn’t last long. It wasn’t a rule to show skin, but clearly everyone here wanted to. There were already knots of men sucking face, humping each other, feeling each other’s biceps and pecs. The dazzling lights illuminated them haphazardly, throwing random parts into stark relief for brief moments before shifting again. It was a kaleidoscope of muscle.

Evan looked at me and grinned a kid-in-a-candy-store grin. I took a sip of my Proteina Colada. Damn, it tasted good. Little parts of my mind were screaming at me that I didn’t belong here, that my parents would find out about this, that I would blow my cover. Other parts of my mind were stamping their feet and insisting I was too small, too weak, to be in this crowd. But Evan was here. Every time those voices started to win, I looked at him, and saw myself reflected in his eyes, and I felt better.

The DJ brought the music down, and an electric current of anticipation ran through the crowd.

“Mutants of the South, welcome!” the DJ yelled, grabbing a mic. He was clearly one of the tribe, too; he was wearing skintight black pants, no shirt, with two thin suspender straps that framed his oversized pecs deliciously; clearly chest day was his favourite. His waist was tiny, like my hands could circle it, yet his abdomen shifted and bulged with muscle. “I’m DJ Titz4Dayz, and welcome to your Afterparty!” The crowd roared in approval. “As you can see, we have three Leviathans with us tonight. Weighing in at 715 pounds, our first titan of the evening… Carlos!”

Before that moment I hadn’t really noticed three platforms at the back of the warehouse, illuminated like museum displays but shielded by curtains. The first curtain fell, revealing… an absolute monstrosity of human flesh. A handsome Latin face was perched precariously atop the mound of muscle, wedged between pecs that made the DJ’s look anemic and traps that clearly rose to the height of his skull. I don’t think he could nod his head, or look left to right for that matter—but he did raise an arm so overburdened with muscle the elbow could barely bend to wave at the crowd. He was naked, and his dick was at full mast. Clearly he enjoyed the show.

“Our second Titan, weighing 808 pounds at just 5’5”… Scott!” The second curtain fell, revealing a mutated mass of flesh that dwarfed the barely-mobile Carlos. He was also naked. Scott’s dais rotated slowly as he smirked at the cheering crowd. As he turned, his massive ass demanded my attention, its oversized globularity impossible to ignore, and I felt like I would pass out from lack of blood to my brain. I had never seen a pair of glutes that huge, that round, that muscular. They stuck out like gravity was meaningless. They pressed against his lats, presenting a muscular wall to the audience that was significantly wider than the man was tall. Then he flexed his ass, bouncing his left cheek and his right, and the crowd lost their fucking minds. I gripped the railing of the mezzanine hard, unable to stop my hips from thrusting the air at the sight. Evan chuckled at me, but I could see the undeniable bulge in his pants, too.

“And finally, the man of the hour…” The crowd fell silent; all eyes were on the still-obscured central dais. “Weighing in at one thousand…” the DJ grinned, clearly milking the audience’s impatience… “... six hundred….” The crowd broke, screamed in delight, disbelief, anticipation, but the DJ refused to continue until they quietened down again. “... and eight-four pounds…. Angelo!”

The curtain dropped and I almost passed out. My brain couldn’t process what I was seeing. Carlos and Scott were still recognizable as human, if mutated and warped versions of human. Angelo was just… all muscle. He was heavier than Carlos and Scott summed. Limbs stuck in a starfish position. If he could wiggle his fingers and toes, that’s all he could do. His handsome face, Mediterranean by my guess, broke into a warm grin. Wouldn’t it be awful, an entire life of complete immobility? Not housebound, not bed-bound, but well and truly musclebound? Yet Angelo seemed delighted. He seemed in ecstasy, and some part of me doubted he was faking it.

1,684 pounds. And still growing, from my understanding.

I noticed each dais had a ‘normal’ sized—if 400 pounds is ‘normal’—minder; as if on cue each one glanced at the Leviathan they were tending then pulled a man up from the audience. Clearly each freak had picked out one partygoer each, some lucky mortal selected to worship them.

“If you want a chance to pet a monster, and who could blame you, make your way to the dais for your own five minutes of heaven, but don’t get greedy! Respect Carlos, Scott, and Angelo, they’ll invite you up if they’re ok with you touching them. Otherwise, feet stay on the floor, gentlemen! Now, let’s fuckin’ flex!” The DJ set his mic on his turntable and raised both arms into a double bicep. His guns had to be at least 25”, a size that I would have considered jaw-dropping just fifteen minutes ago, but he looked… normal compared to the three freaks of nature on the three dais behind him.

“Whaddya think?” Evan shout-whispered into my ear as the music resumed pounding. My eyes were stuck on Angelo. Bigger than the other two freaks put together. He seemed impossible. It seemed there must be some limit, and that whatever it was, it should have been… many hundred pounds below the size he had attained.

But there was no limit. And he was still growing. My mouth was dry. I felt faint.

“Atticus? Buddy? “You wanna go feel up one of them? We’ll get invited up, I know it.”“

The music was beginning to sound like I was underwater. My vision was squeezing shut, like I was looking at the room through a tunnel. All I could see was Angelo’s freak body, his complete and utter immobility, the chosen bodybuilder from the crowd next to him, enthusiastically thrusting his naked hard dick against… I guess Angelo’s thigh… he was so huge it was difficult to tell which muscle was which, sometimes…. while Angelo grinned down at him, unable to do anything but passively enjoy it…

“Atticus!” I felt Evan’s hands under my armpits as my knees bent without my volition; I was sinking toward the floor. He looked alarmed.

A terrible pain shot through my stomach. It felt like my intestines were trying to rip themselves apart. I swear I heard an unnatural growling sound, even over the pounding music. Evan’s eyes were wide; he was scared. He was feeling my face with his hand; I could tell the skin was clammy. I was trembling.

I knew what I was feeling.

“Evan…” I gasped. “I’m… I’m so fucking hungry.

 

Part 11

The next couple of hours are a blur. I remember details, moments, but they’re scattered in time—nothing connected to anything else. It’s probably because my blood-sugar was crashing. Turns out Leviathans have some pretty fucking dramatic birthing pains.

It’s what they call a hypertrophic metabolic crisis. Something about a super-responder’s body goes into freak-out mode when it first encounters Mutant Juice, and it mounts a hypertrophic—that is, muscle-building—response unlike anything previously known to human physiology. Basically, my body was going Chernobyl mode.

That’s why the constant, insistent hunger I felt, people like me feel—you have to eat or, well… it’s bad. They theorize that without massive quantities of food, a body undergoing a hypertrophic metabolic crisis would cannablize its own tissue in order to build muscle, starting with bodyfat but quickly moving on to organs, connective tissue, anything that’s not muscle, even shit you need to live. A super-responder in a hypertrophic metabolic crisis who’s prevented from eating would probably die in agony. That’s what they think. They say it’s never happened.

I believe them, too. I said I don’t remember a lot. One thing I do remember: being hungrier than I’d ever been before. I don’t know if you understand what this is like. If any of you freaks out there have experimented with bodybuilding peptides, ghrp2 and whatever, you might have an idea of it, but it’s more intense, and it doesn’t go away, not for hours and hours—ten, twelve, or even more. If people weren’t shoving food in my direction, I would have run into a supermarket and started cramming food in my mouth right there in the aisle. If I was in the wilderness without anything at all, I would have dropped to my knees to shove fucking dirt into my mouth. I was trembling, clammy with sweat, and unable to think of anything but consuming, ravenously, indiscriminately.

So that’s why I believe them when they say no one has ever died this way, although they think it’s theoretically possible. The only way I wouldn’t have eaten, and eaten, and eaten, and eaten, is if someone was physically preventing me from doing so. And even then, I would have fought them like a rabid animal to break free so I could shove something, anything, into the ravenous void that had replaced my stomach.

So what do I remember, other than the delirious hunger?

First thing: I remember Evan yelling for help, shoving his protein cocktail into my hands. It was gone in two seconds.

I remember the guy who’d been eyeing me up at the expo leading me toward the chillout room. I don’t know why it wasn’t Evan who was with me. Maybe he was getting me food, or letting people know what was happening. I remember begging the near-stranger for something to eat, anything, fucking anything, please, and him grinning at me, an eager light in his eyes. “Oh, kid, you just hold tight, you’re gonna be very well fed in just a couple minutes, trust me.”

The music was pounding. The lights were flashing. I felt too weak to walk, this guy was practically carrying me. My feet were on the ground yet it felt like I was floating. All around me, muscular men, buff men, swole men, freakish men, behind them three erotic nightmares of muscular excess on platforms. They don’t stop the party because some kid is having a bad trip. Men in various degrees of undress, flexing, sucking face, sucking dick, joined at the pelvis. And their rhythm would break as this guy led me through the crowd, and they’d all stare at me. Then they’d realize what was happening, and their faces would change.

Harsh angles of light and shadow, unnatural colours. They looked at me like a shark looks at a bloody chunk. Some of them broke off. Followed. Got ready. Ready for what? I couldn’t think. I needed to eat. Fuck I needed to eat. I needed food or I would die.

The next fragment I remember. I’m in the chillout room and Evan’s there. The Expo guy is still there, too, just behind Evan. So are some other people I don’t recognize, sharks from before, still with the bloody chunk look on their faces. I still don’t know who most of those guys were, to this day. Party goers drafted into the war against my overwhelming hunger, running me protein shakes from behind the bar, a steady stream of overblown muscle gays in jock straps and thongs, pecs and glutes bouncing, flexing, jiggling as they hurry, bringing me an endless parade of fuel for the nightmare furnace burning at my core.

Fanciful and carefully balanced recipes were out the window; cute puns on well-known cocktails were forgotten. This was about taking kilogram after kilogram of whey, adding enough liquid (the more calorie-dense the better) for me to swallow it, and shoving it down my fucking throat as fast as possible. Over and over and over. Industrialized feeding.

I remember clutching my stomach, already feeling overly full, taut, painful. My shirt was off, I don’t remember when that happened. I looked like I was about to enter my second trimester. I felt ashamed, I remember squirming, trying to hide my body from these men, watching me, chanting for me to chug, chug, chug, as the guy from the Expo handed Evan another litre of thick protein glop. I clutched at my distended belly, feeling sharp stabs of pain as it stretched out beyond its natural capacity. It was like an incubus sitting on my abdomen, a heavy alien weight, growing, swelling, destined to crush me.

“Evan,” I gasped, tears stinging my eyes. “It hurts.”

Evan smiled gently at me, held my face in my hand. “You can take a break if you need it, Atticus.”

The demon in my belly roared to life at the very suggestion. I violently ripped the litre of protein out of his hands and inverted it over my lips, sucking at it, greedy like a newborn calf. It was empty in seconds. I gasped like a fish on the dock as Evan took the empty shaker and handed it off to one of the other guys who were helping us. “More,” I babbled, brainless. The next protein shake was in Evan’s hands; I snatched that one, downed it. “More.” Another. “More.” Another. “More.” Another. Over and over, my belly swelling, dangerously full. The hunger refused to quit, it had me in its jaws, it was going to feed me until it killed me.

“Never heard of a feeding frenzy as intense as this one,” I heard some deep voice rumble. No idea whose it was.

“He’s gonna be a freak for sure,” some other voice answered.

The next fragment I remember.

I was in the passenger seat of an unfamiliar car. Staring out the window at the passing lights in a daze. I don’t remember how I got there. I almost forgot where in the world I was, what city, what state. I almost forgot who in the world I was. Someone’s massive leather jacket was draped over my shoulders; I didn’t recognize it, but it smelled of roided male sweat. I still had no shirt on, still had no memory of taking it off, no idea of where it had gone.

There was a large brown paper bag resting on top of my weirdly bloated belly, like it was a fucking dinner tray made out of taut, tortured flesh. I glanced down at this, this… thing exploding from my midsection, and my consciousness rebooted, like an office computer powering up on Monday morning.

I opened my mouth to ask where I was, what was happening to me, but instead of words the most massive belch in my life came out instead. Mortified, I tried to suppress it, but I couldn’t. I clamped my hands over my mouth and looked at the driver with my eyebrows almost up to my hairline.

It was the guy from the Expo. Darkly handsome, muscular as hell, a good 100 pounds more muscle mass than what Evan had on his already stunningly-developed frame.

“You back with us, kid? Atticus, right?”

We were driving through suburbs. Stopped at a red light. A gas station ahead to the left, a Taco Bell ahead to the right. The car dashboard said it was 3:31 am. Depeche Mode’s Violator was playing on the car stereo, about four songs deep. Emily used to play this album all the time when she was still living at home. Damn,, I thought. Just missed “Personal Jesus.” It’s funny, the things you think at times like these.

you wear guilt
like the shackles on your feet
like a halo in reverse

I moaned. My belly hurt. Full wasn’t even the word. It felt like someone had strapped a funnel to my mouth, set me down under a cement mixer, and forced me to swallow 20 gallons of wet concrete, which had hardened into a roughly spherical shape inside of me, barely contained by my poor overtaxed skin.

And yet, I still felt hungry. Just not as… deliriously ravenous as before.

Fuck, I didn’t even know if this was the same night. About five hours had passed, if it was—they announced the Leviathans around 10:30 and I collapsed almost right away after that. I glanced at my lap, looking over the giant ball gut I’d somehow sprouted. It didn’t seem possible for a human stomach to contain this much food. I guess I was leaving humanity behind, like they say. The bag planted on my belly was from Wendy’s. In it were several balled up foil wrappers, empty french fry containers, all the food bodybuilders aren’t supposed to eat…

there’s a pain
a famine in your heart
an aching to be free

Dave Gahan singing away as my brain tried to unscramble everything.

“Who… what… I…” Fifty questions clamoured to be the first one out of my mouth.

“Take it slow, kid, you were really out of it. You asked me my name about five times already tonight, and I think you forgot it three seconds later each time, but maybe this one will stick. I’m Leo.”

“Evan…?”

“He’s with Mateo, they went ahead. We tried to get you to go with him, but you weren’t ready to be, uh… moved, yet. Boy, you fought like a tiger any time someone even tried to get between you and whatever edible object was within 100 feet of you. I think you cleaned out the protein bar in the first hour, me and a couple other guys bought like $300 worth of groceries and brought it back to the warehouse a little after midnight, and that’s all gone too. And we weren’t the only little group Mateo sent out foraging.”

I frowned. “Evan wouldn’t leave me. Definitely not… at a time like this.”

can’t you see?
all love’s luxuries
are here for you and me

I felt suspicion rising in my stomach. I remembered stories of date rape drugs, watch your drinks. I remembered Leo watching me with hungry eyes that morning. Angelo’s 1684 pounds of raw, immobile muscle, me collapsing, quaking with hunger, this bizarre beach ball filling my lap, Emily’s favourite album on the stereo… this was all a hallucination. A delusion. No human can be 1684 pounds. No one’s waistline can double in five hours. God would never let me win the lottery. And Evan would never leave me alone with a strange man when I’m so vulnerable.

“He said you might say that. Look at your phone, check your texts.”

I awkwardly pulled my phone out of my pocket, not used to maneuvering with this huge glob of flesh stuck to my midsection. Sure enough, a text from Evan. “Atticus baby, don’t be scared, we’re setting up Rob’s AirBnB for you, I’ll explain more later, Leo’s gonna drive you over as soon as you’re able to make it. Don’t be scared. I love you.”

This stopped me from freaking out, but I still didn’t understand. “Why… what…” An angry gurgle erupted from my aching ballgut.

“Still hungry? Damn,” Leo said, glancing over at me, his full lips quirking into a sexy smirk. “You already made me stop at Wendy’s. Google says it’s about another 12 minutes til we get to the AirBnB, but if you really want, we can raid a 7/11 or something, I think there’s one at the next light.”

Another, louder growl from the demon that had possessed my stomach, seemingly hell-bent on making me gorge myself until I split open like an overripe melon. I whimpered, holding my poor abused belly. “Yeah… please. The hunger pangs are getting strong again.”

and when our worlds they fall apart
when the walls come tumbling in
though we may deserve it
it will be worth it

“Leo… What… what’s happening to me?”

“Feeding frenzy. You’re gonna be a fucking monster, kid. Leviathan. Super-responder. You had your first Juice earlier today, right? “

“Yeah…”

“Super-responders all go through this, it’s like, the way you know. Hypertrophic Metabolic Crisis. Basically, you eat like a maniac for a day or so, and your body turns it all into muscle. Dudes gain like, 15, 20, 25, even 30 pounds of muscle basically in 48 hours. They say the more you eat during your frenzy, the faster you’ll grow, or the bigger you’ll grow, or something. Like it sets the course for how you’ll progress as a Leviathan. It’s all bro-science, no one actually knows. Some dudes at the party wanted to strap you down and force feed you. They wanted to hear you squeal. But Mateo got real mad at them and they shut up after that.”

“Oh.” I felt dizzy. I had no memory of any of that. “Thanks for… not letting that happen.

“Don’t mention it. Evan would have fought them if Mateo hadn’t taken charge of the situation. They were scumbags, but that man loves you, Atticus, I’ll tell you that for free. I mean. I won’t lie. It’s fucking hot as hell to watch you build up that mega food baby, knowing it’s all gonna be raw muscle tissue soon enough, but like… you’re a kid. You’re obviously in pain, you’re probably scared…” Leo looked at me, his sexy dark eyes softening. “We gotta take care of you.”

I felt a pulse of warmth and gratitude that almost distracted me from the steadily growing hunger deep inside me. “Thanks. I… fuck. This doesn’t seem real. How is any of this even possible.”

Leo shrugged, keeping his eyes on the road, even though there were no other cars around at quarter to four in the morning. “I don’t think even the Mutant Juice guys understand really why it happens, or how, or what it means. They do know it’s very dangerous not to give you food if you’re asking for it, so if you’re hungry then we’ll stop and you should eat. And they know the severity and duration of a frenzy varies from guy to guy, and, well… boy, I don’t know if anyone has ever seen a frenzy as intense as yours. I think Mateo was scared, but he was trying to hide it.” Leo paused, glanced over at me again. I could see concern in his eyes. “You… you doing okay?”

I clutched my belly and winced. Yeah, I was so full it hurt, but that’s not why… the hunger was growing faster, overwhelming me, taking over my brain again. Demanding I be fed. I found myself rooting through the Wendy’s bag, looking for a stray french-fry, anything. I found myself considering eating the paper and cardboard wrappers for the grease. I whimpered.

“Food.”

Thank fuck Leo was already pulling into the 7/11. I was fumbling under my unfamiliar alien gut, unbuckling my seatbelt, ready to race inside and start gorging again. I didn’t give a fuck. I didn’t care if I fucking burst. I needed to feed.

“Jesus, Atticus, I don’t think the world is ready for what you’re gonna become.”

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

I felt like a fucking woman in labour as Leo helped me hobble into the empty condo lobby. He frowned at his phone, awkwardly punching an unfamiliar code into an unfamiliar number pad. The door audibly unlocked, Leo pushed it open, then ushered me inside. I couldn’t stand up straight, my gut was so distended, protruding, heavy. I was shuffling, giving short hitched breaths. I hurt.

And yet, the hunger was still there. Dull enough that I could ignore it for a while, but not sated.

“When’s it gonna go away,” I whimpered, leaning on Leo as we moved toward the elevators. Ordinarily, the sensation of 400 pounds of sexy Italian muscle pressed against me would have woken Atticus Junior for sure, probably given him a runny nose, but right now I was in so much discomfort I don’t think anything on the planet could have stirred me toward an erection, not even this fucking handsome Juiced Up stud who spent god knows how much money at 7/11 as I ripped open party bags of Doritos and inhaled them one after the other like fucking Kirby.

“Soon, baby, soon,” Leo said soothingly. “Tomorrow.” He helped me into the elevator and pressed the button for the 15th floor.

Evan was waiting at the elevator when the door slid opened. I almost cried when I saw him.

“Atticus,” he said, rushing to me, helping me out of the elevator. He was kissing my forehead, supporting my weight. “Baby. I’m sorry I left you there.”

I groaned in reply. “‘S’okay,” I gasped, my breath short, rapid. My lungs didn’t have the space to properly expand, my fucking gut was pushing up against them.

Evan seemed to fully register my condition, then. “Holy fuck,” he breathed. “Holy fuck. You’re enormous.” His hands wandered my spherical gut, protruding so far in front of me it would have been comical if it didn’t hurt so goddamn bad.

Leo grinned at him. “Yeah, our little tiger is gonna be a freak’s freak, by the looks of it. Never seen such an extreme reaction before. God knows how much he’s gonna gain as this digests.”

Evan didn’t seem quite so delighted. “Your sister’s gonna kill me,” he moaned quietly, even as his hands continued to roam my overstuffed expanse.

Realization rushed in with his words. We promised Emily we’d be home no later than 2. We were supposed to go for brunch at her favourite spot tomorrow morning. Then a walk in the park. It was now almost 4 in the morning and I was in a strange condo building on the other side of town. I’d basically spent the night on a drug trip, more or less, gripped by an unnatural hunger that was impossible to satisfy. And now I had the physique of someone overdue with triplets, barely able to walk, barely able to breath, and I still wanted to goddamn eat.

Fuck. What are we gonna tell Emily? How to explain that? It can’t be hidden, it can’t be lied around. And the truth? The truth that I was signing my life away to become an immobile pile of meat, only capable of sitting there passively, flexing and growing and cumming with a mindfucked grin plastered on my face? A willing junkie. No hiking trips, no wandering art galleries, no funky restaurants, no university, no life. Just muscle. Only muscle. I was going to be only muscle.

I was crying before I even realized it, Evan supporting me, rubbing my hair. “Shh, shh, it’s okay, Atticus, it’s okay,” he said.

I tried to explain why I was crying, but I wasn’t even sure I knew, myself, and I couldn’t get more than a word or two out anyway. This was what I wanted, right? This was sexy as hell, right? Mom and Dad couldn’t stop me. Nothing could stop me. My life was my own, and my ultra-rare biology combined with this wonder drug made the choice I was too much of a coward to make for myself. The drug would say it for me. My muscles would speak for me as they exploded out of me in the months ahead like a split atom. And my muscles would say: fuck you guys, fuck your conservative small town ways, fuck your church, fuck your sin, fuck whatever cold conditional weak thing you think love is. This is who I am. This is what I am.

I never had a clear plan for my life before. I never knew what I was supposed to do with it. I had no ambition, no desire, other than to run away, to escape, and that was so vague as to not even count. Now, I knew. I knew what my life was for. It was a blessing, what was happening to me.

But I was crying.

“He’s had a long night,” Leo said to Evan as Evan held me, tried to calm me down.

“Atticus, it’s okay, if you don’t want this you can always stop, you only keep growing as long as you keep taking the stuff, I know you’re in pain right now but this hunger is gonna fade by midday tomorrow and this… thing on your middle will shrink back down, and you’ll get a nice boost of muscle from it, and then we can give the Juice back to Mateo and thank him for taking care of you tonight, if that’s what you want. None of this has to happen if you don’t want it.”

I started to calm down. “No, no,” I said. “That’s not what I want to do, I just… I just… Evan…” I huffed and puffed. Fuck, my gut felt five seconds away from splitting there in the hall of the condo building. “I don’t know, I…”

“Shh. Shh. We can talk about it tomorrow. You look so tired, Atticus. Let’s get you in here and in bed. Rob says you should sleep if you can. We’ve got it all set up. One of us is gonna be awake at every moment, watching you, and if you need anything we’re gonna jump to get it, okay?” Evan and Leo led me down the hall, pushed open a door.

It was a new-build condo; at the time I didn’t know how generic and anonymous it was. To my country yokel eyes it seemed sleek, modern, expensive, impressive. Rob was sitting at the kitchen island, his hulking form still in the same polo shirt and muscle-stuffed faded jeans as this morning. Round wire-framed glasses, short-cropped salt and pepper hair, balding. His eyes warm but worried, his mouth tight with concern. His big masculine fists were cradling a glass of scotch. I could see his left leg rhythmically bouncing with anxiety; it stopped just as we walked in, like it was a private indulgence he allowed himself. Gentle jazz was on the stereo; I didn’t recognize it at the time, but thinking back I’m pretty sure it was Nina Simone’s first LP. He seemed relieved to see me, utterly unfazed by my Overdue Pregnancy look.

“Life sure throws you curveballs, huh, kid,” he said in his gravelly voice, like all of this was very normal and everyday. He got up and moved toward me, putting his arm around me, helping Leo and Evan support me, guiding me toward the bedroom. “I wasn’t there with Angelo when he went through this. He just sent me a text, worried about how he couldn’t stop eating, and a pic of him looking like he’d swallowed a beach ball. One of my life’s regrets, not being there.” His hand on my back, between my shoulder blades, his palm so rough, yet so warm. “We didn’t even know super-responders were a thing, back then. We know so much more now. We’re gonna take good care of you, kid. You don’t have to worry about anything, okay? We’re gonna take care of you.”

 

Part 12

I woke up shivering in a strange bed. My mouth was dry and my body ached. Like, all of it ached. Blinking felt like dragging sandpaper over my eyeballs. The sheets were soaked. Like someone had dumped a gallon of water over me. If you’ve never woken up in truly sodden sheets—like, not just damp, but absolutely soaking wet—I don’t know if you can understand quite how disorienting and miserable it is—you know you have to get up and out of the cold wet bed, but also you just want to fall back asleep.

Then I felt hands under my armpits, pulling me up out of the soaking bed. “C’mon, big boy.” A voice. The room was dim, my eyes weren’t focusing, I was staring at a pair of enormous muscular pecs barely contained by the thin cotton of a tank top, but that could be almost anyone. I weakly pushed at the chest, intending to stand up on my own, but my efforts were so laughably feeble. I tried to crane my stiff tender neck to get a better look at who it was.

“Leo,” I croaked.

The darkly sexy stud chuckled and spoke softly. “Yeah, it’s my shift. It’s about 8 a.m. but you’re not done sleeping it off yet, stud, nowhere close. But we gotta change your sheets if you’re gonna have any chance of falling back asleep. And probably get some water in you. Kidney strain is no joke.” He raised his voice a little. “Guys? He’s awake. Sheet change.”

Rob and Mateo entered the room in a moment. Leo set my feet on the floor, checked to see if I could stand on my own—I could, but I wobbled—then moved to join Mateo, who was carrying fresh sheets. Rob had a gallon jug of water in his hands. He passed it to me as I stood there, naked and shivering. “Chug as much of this as you can, kid. Your body is producing tens of pounds of muscle and the amount of protein it’s processing is gonna shred your kidneys if we don’t stay on top of it. Drink up.” The jug was almost too heavy for me to hold, but I did as he said. Something about Rob made you want to obey him, not in a mean or scary way. Like you didn’t fear his punishment. I couldn’t imagine him angry. It just felt soothing and nice to fall in line, to let him take charge.

Mateo and Leo were busy stripping the soaking sheets off the bed. I saw a blobby kind of melted snow angel shape the sweat had made. Me, I guess. I gulped down the water, shivering, and Rob brought me a big beach towel, wrapped me up in it, started rubbing my limbs, my back, my chest. His strong arms supporting my weight as he dried me off. It felt so nice, this big fatherly muscle bear of a man holding me, caring for me. I felt my dick stir, felt my cheeks flush a little bit. I tried to switch my train of thought onto a different set of tracks.

“Where’s Evan?” I asked between gulps as Rob continued his work with the towel, Mateo and Leo continued changing my sheets.

“He’s talking to your sister,” Mateo said as he struggled with the new mattress cover, trying to figure out which way to align it. “Stupid thing,” he muttered.

Rob grumbled. “‘Teo. Evan asked us not to tell him that. It’s just gonna make him worry, and he needs to sleep.”

“I want to see them.” I said. I’d mostly stopped shivering and I’d gulped down at least a third of the gallon of water. I was feeling more awake, more alert. More importantly, the mind-destroying hunger had gone. “I need to see them.”

Rob gave me a really? kind of a look, quirked his eyebrow. He stopped rubbing me dry, stepped back. “If you can get dressed on your own and do five pushups, you can go crash their party, how about that?”

I let the towel fall to the floor, intending to begin getting dressed, and immediately regretted it. The air was so cold. No, that wasn’t it. I was so hot. It was like the most intense fever you’ve ever had. Already I was sweating again, could feel my limbs trembling anew. Those dry sheets wouldn’t stay dry for long. I was shivering, shaking, weak as a faun. I realized there was no way I could get dressed and walk across the room without help, let alone go to… wherever Emily and Evan were. Not here, I surmised.

There was a full length mirror next to the closet. I glanced in it and wished I hadn’t.

Fuck, I was a wreck. Hunched like an old man, visibly trembling, dark shadows under my eyes. My enormous belly had reduced in size, about half as large as it had been when I hobbled in late last night, barely able to draw a breath because of the grotesque globe of flesh on my midsection. Now, though, I looked… okay, I still looked wrong. There wasn’t any fat on me, anywhere; the vestiges of my former skinny-fat build had boiled away. My veins were popping in a way they never had before. Every muscle was hyper-defined, each movement making fibres shift and jump under tissue-paper-thin skin. And then the six months pregnant belly just… sitting there. Smaller than earlier but still utterly out of place. Hard as a rock, like before. If anything, harder. An orb of hot steel barely contained by my stretched, tortured skin.

I rubbed my hands over its surface and shivered.

“Yeah, that thing is gonna be another six or eight hours deflating, at least,” Rob said. “You’re turning everything you ate into muscle, which is why you’re burning up, sweating like a pig at a bacon factory, all that. The worst part is over though, I promise.” I guess I still looked dismayed, or upset. “Hey, guys? Could you give me a few minutes alone with Atticus?” Rob said suddenly.

Mateo and Leo shared a look. “Sure, boss,” Mateo said, leading the way out.

Rob gently clicked the door shut behind them, pulled up a chair, and gestured for me to get back into the freshly made bed. I felt suddenly aware of my nakedness, my semi-hard cock flopping from thigh to thigh as I clambered back onto the mattress, under the delicious clean dry sheets. I sat there, propped up on my pillow, belly launching out into my lap, waiting for Rob to say something. He just looked at me. His watery blue eyes behind his wire-frame glasses. His close-cropped salt and pepper hair. His visibly receding hairline. His titanic arms, stretching out the sleeves of his polo shirt; a different one from yesterday, I noted, pale blue. He had changed at some point during the night. Time stretched. Then he shook his head and exhaled slowly.

“You scare me, Atticus,” he said simply, quietly.

“I… scare you?” I didn’t know how to take that. I considered myself probably the least threatening human being on planet earth. Weak of body and spirit, a pushover who can’t even bench two plates, a guy who never speaks up even when he should, a guy who always takes the easy way out. And Rob was a rich, powerful CEO, body of a god, wet dream of a husband, the entire world of bodybuilding wrapped around his little finger.

Rob pinched the bridge of his nose. “Sorry,” he said, Canadian accent suddenly obvious. “I’m not… good with people. I’m a researcher.” He visibly struggled. “Atticus. I was going to wait to do this, but, well, I might not get another chance to get you alone, and well, Mateo spilled the beans about Evan and your sister, so I doubt you’re going to have an easy time falling back asleep anyway. Am I right?” I nodded yes. “Well. I feel like I should fill you in on… what your life is probably going to be like, going forward.”

“Oh. I’ve been thinking about that,” I said, remembering how I had broken down crying in the hallway last night, suddenly aware of all the things I’d never get to do.

“Yeah, Evan told me about that a little, but….” Rob sighed again, as if truly unsure how to proceed. “What’s your career ambition, Atticus? You in college? What are you studying to be?”

“I… no, I’m not in college. I’m a barista. Not exactly my calling. In fact, I hate it. I was gonna apply to study a trade this fall, but… I dunno what. I never had any answer for what I wanted to be when I grew up. Dad’s a contractor. I don’t want to inherit the family business. But I don’t have anything else I want to do, either.”

Rob grunted. “Well, that’s one less dream to squash, I guess. Most jobs are going to become impossible for you to do in the next year or two. Basically, if you can’t dictate it, you can’t do it. But you have to comprehend how this is going to be massively expensive, yes? Mutant Juice does incredible things for nutrient partitioning, Leviathans like Angelo don’t have to eat as much as you might guess, but my man still puts away about 15,000 calories a day right now, and that number’s only going up. We’ve had to custom-build our residence to accommodate him. Moving him anywhere is a logistical nightmare and a four figure bill, but seeing the same four walls day after day after day wears a man down. I run a company so we pay for two part-time carers to assist him during the day—feed him, wash him, help him… relieve himself. Keep him company so he doesn’t lose his mind. I can’t be there all the time, and Atticus? People like you? You need someone with you, pretty much all the time. In a year or two you won’t be able to scratch an itch on your own nose. And you might be wondering, well, why don’t I stop? Grow to 300, 350 pounds, something reasonable, and just quit?” Rob sighed. “That’s the thing about people like you. You never do. Quit, that is. We’ve been studying why. Current hypothesis is Mutant Juice rewires a Leviathan’s dopamine pathways. Basically, the more you grow, the more satisfied you feel. You won’t quit, probably, even when you get so huge you lose the ability to walk.”

He paused, but I sensed there was more, and if he had a question he wanted me to answer I wasn’t sure yet what it was. “There’s three options for Leviathans, Atticus, and you’ve gotta pick one of these: either you’re independently wealthy and retire early to be an immobile heap of muscle—so you better get rich real fast. Or you have a wealthy partner who doesn’t mind being married to someone who’s more of a geographical feature than a person in some ways—so you and Evan better start planning the wedding, and Evan better get rich fast. Forgive me for saying neither of those seems all that realistic.

“Or, third option, you become, well… let’s call a spade a fucking shovel, kid. You become a sex worker, Atticus. That’s what most Leviathans have to do, it’s their only viable way to make money. Charge rich guys $1500 to rub their little pricks against their massive pecs until they spew their measly load. Do that ten times a month and you’ve got enough money to support a Leviathan lifestyle—barely. Or you find a rich patron to foot all your bills and hope what they want in return for bankrolling your existence isn’t too onerous. Carlos and Scott? We gave each of them $4,000 for four hours of work tonight, plus we paid for transportation and meals for them, plus they got whatever tips. Because we know our little miracle serum has put them in a tough place. I’d pay them a lot more than that if I could, but we’ve gotta at least break even on events like this. Is that a life you think you can be happy living? Flex on a dais while horny dudes one third your size hump your leg then hand twenty bucks to your handler, then it’s the next one’s turn? Drenched in fifty men’s cum by the end of the night? Let an old businessman with bad breath come to your house and lick your bicep and squeeze your nuts, and you’re too musclebound to even push him away if he starts to get too aggressive for your liking? Is that a life you think you can live?”

I thought of Evan and Tanner, my dad’s asshole friend who was blackmailing us. Rail Dan’s shitty little twink son hard enough to make him cry and post a video of it, if I remembered Evan’s report correctly. We had to do that soon, this weekend, there wouldn’t be a safe way to do it once we returned home, and who knows how long that creep’s patience would last? But did I want to become a fetish porn star? An escort? Well, it seemed like the choice had already been made for me. Maybe it was made for me the minute Evan accepted Dad’s invitation to go to the driving range with his asshole friends, and the jaws of Tanner’s trap closed around our ankle. Maybe the choice was made for me the day Evan drove his old Toyota into our driveway for the first time.

Rob looked at me as if he expected me to say something. I didn’t have an answer for him. I wanted to be free, that was all I ever wanted, dreams of running away to Montana or the moon, and this looked like freedom, but it also looked like the opposite of freedom. “I… I don’t know, I… If Evan is with me, maybe I could be okay, I don’t think I can do it alone though, but… I…”

Rob’s expression softened and his face fell. “Oh, Atticus, Atticus, I… fuck. I scared you. That was too much reality, too fast. I told you I’m not good at talking. I suck at words. I’m supposed to be in a lab, not… not helping a scared teenager through a life-changing event.” He gathered himself, leaning toward me. “I’m not angry with you. I’m not trying to frighten you. I just, I just… I want to be real with you, Atticus. We’re going to help you, the best way we can, I just want you to know what the challenges we’re facing are. Okay? I’m on your side, bud,” he said. I nodded, feeling a lump in my throat. Rob leaned in further, grabbed my tricep, and squeezed it fondly, smiling. “I promise I will do my best to make sure nothing bad happens to you, okay?” He held my arm. His hand felt so strong and warm, in a way it was more reassuring than the tightest bear hug. I got the sense Rob didn’t show affection easily, or effusively, and this clasping of my arm meant a lot, coming from him.

“Okay,” I said after a second, hearing how thick my voice sounded in my own ears. “I believe you.”

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

“Where is he?!” I heard a familiar voice, assertive, afraid of nothing, through the walls. I was in that half-awake half-asleep state, but this woke me up right away, I tell you.

“Emily?!” I called, groggy, my voice sounding almost sepulchral. Raspy, dehydrated, yes, but also, fuck, a full octave deeper than it normally did. It had a… resonance to it, like it had a compression effect applied. My head was swimming.

The door opened, and my sister rushed in, Evan and Leo on her heels. “We’re not trying to hide him from you!” Leo was protesting, but Emily didn’t care what he said, she was an Atticus-seeking missile.

Feeling stronger, I pushed the sheets off me and heaved myself into a sitting position on the side of the bed. Emily stopped in her tracks midway to me and her face rapidly went through a series of expressions. Surprise, fear, dismay, care, affection.

“Oh, Ty… Evan tried to warn me, but…” Her hands flew to her mouth, and she gave a quick gasping inhale, then she flew to me. I don’t think her feet touched the ground. I felt her arms reaching around me. Not meeting. Her arms struggling to encircle me.

Her arms struggling… to encircle me….

She was raining kisses on my cheek and forehead. “You overgrown idiot,” she laughed. I looked past her at Evan. He looked shocked, too. Evidently he clocked my confusion.

“Atticus… have you… seen yourself?” Evan hesitantly asked.

“Not since like 8 a.m… I looked like hell, then.”

“Emily… I think we need to let him get his bearings.”

Emily let go of me, stepped back, nodding. “Yes, you’re right. You… you look a lot different, Ty. Come on, come over to the mirror with me, okay?”

I was still naked under the sheets. I squawked in complaint as Emily pulled me to my feet, grabbing a pillow and quickly hiding my privates from her view. She rolled her eyes. “Like I care, Ty. Whatever you need to do to make yourself comfortable. Come on.”

She pulled me across the floor to the mirror, turned me to face it squarely, shifted to be behind me simply because there wasn’t space in the reflection for us to stand side by side.

Holy fuck. Holy fuck. A stranger was looking back at me. My face the same, but subtly changed. I suppose the small muscles of my jaw and forehead had grown. I looked more mature, more handsome, more confident, more powerful. I looked… well. I looked like a man, for the first time in my life.

But everything else…

Wide shoulders and a broad chest tapering down to a shockingly narrow waist, cobbled with abs, shifting subtly in and out with my breath. Rounded deltoids capping thick corded arms. Quads sweeping majestically, twinned horizontal arcs, each calf a sensuous pair of ovoid muscles, like four ostrich eggs. All of it shrink wrapped in pale, milky skin, traced with veins as if lovingly placed there by an artist crafting his masterwork. Michelangelo’s David, but on tren.

I realized I was feeling myself. Like, literally. My free hand was roaming my muscles, as if testing and retesting and retesting that this impossible thing had actually happened. A wild laugh erupted from my mouth. I looked over at Evan, who was watching me, and he laughed in return. Even from here I could see his eyes shining, could feel the shared excitement, the love. My dick was rapidly inflating with blood behind the meagre pillow I’d grabbed to protect my modesty. The dull reminder that my sister was standing right behind me, hand between my shoulder blades—fuck, what did my back look like now?!—did nothing to slow down my insistent brewing erection.

Emily clearly clocked what was going on, the crackling lightning of excitement and desire and giddy exhilaration between Evan and me. “Do I need to fetch you a bigger pillow, Ty?” Emily quipped, removing her hand and stepping away from me with a sly smirk.

Somehow this little jibe made us all feel… more normal about what was happening. We laughed and grinned, like my intercontinental ballistic missile of a dick was somehow a wholesome gag at the end of an 80’s sitcom episode, like me being flung at warp speed from a kinda hot twunk to a chiseled slab of masculine perfection was just, like, a whimsical little escapade, tee hee.

It was just the three of us. At some point, Leo had slipped out of the room without me noticing. Now he returned with a scale. “I darted off to a CVS to grab this a couple hours ago, I knew we’d want to know,” he explained. He placed it on the floor and fiddled with it to set it up. “How much did you weigh yesterday, Atticus?” he asked as he worked.

I glanced at Evan. “175 pounds,” I said.

“Well, step on, let’s see how many pounds of muscle Santa brought you for Christmas.”

I stepped on, waited for the display. Evan and Leo crowded in to see it, too. Emily stepped back, shaking her head a little bit. Kind of a rueful gay boys will be gay boys vibe.

221.8 pounds. None of it was fat. Quite the opposite, I was ripped in a way I never had been before in my life.

Leo gave a low whistle. “47 pounds in 24 hours, that’s gotta be a record, big boy. I’m not an expert like Mateo and Rob but I’ve heard guys talk about a 30 pounds gain being exceptional. I think like 20 is more normal. You really are something else, kid.”

“Yeah, but how heavy is that pillow?” Emily remarked dryly. She glanced at me, then, and her humour failed. She seemed nervous. “He’s not gonna… keep growing like that, is he? We’ll need to buy a barn for him before the end of the month, if he is.”

“God, no,” Leo answered. “He seems okay now, but I’m glad you didn’t see him last night, or this morning. He looked like hell. He was a wreck. His body just went through the wringer. Luckily, it only happens once, it’s like getting calibrated. He’ll ‘only’ grow like a couple pounds a day now. But, you know, that adds up. 600 pounds in a year, that kind of thing.”

Emily’s face turned grave. “Ty…” Then she caught herself, gave a steadying breath. “No, we can talk about this later. Evan tells me you can stop whenever you like, so, you know, if you want to be the bigger man in the relationship, I can support that, use this stuff for two or three months or whatever, but…” she got a little tearful. “I always thought me and you would hike the Grand Canyon once we got away from Mom and Dad. Go out dancing together. You know. Shit like that. No, fuck,” she cursed herself under her breath. “I said I wouldn’t have this conversation with you yet. You’ve been through so much, I don’t want to put you through anything else this weekend, you deserve not to fucking worry for one day in your life. Just… remember there’s more to life than muscles, you adorable weirdo.” She gave a shaky breath and straightened her posture. “Just remember, whatever you do decide… I will support you. You gotta know that. I will always, always, always support you, Ty. Big sister promise.”

Still holding the damn pillow over my crotch, I gestured for Emily to come in for a hug. It still felt weird, the way my new body overwhelmed her petite frame in a way my old one never did. I kissed the top of her head, the smell of her hair product. “Love you, sis. I promise, I’m gonna want to talk to you a lot while I figure out how I’m gonna make this new reality work. You’ll help me make sense of it, okay?”

We finished our hug and broke apart. I was very aware of my nudity now, contra everyone else’s fully clothed state. “Uh… I guess last night’s clothes wouldn’t really fit me now, would they?” I said awkwardly. Evan and Leo were both so much bigger than me, still, any clothes they’d have I’d still be swimming in. Ditto Rob, and Mateo was quite small, smaller than I had been before… all this. “Does anyone have anything I can borrow?”

Leo grinned at me. “Mateo’s out grabbing you something as we speak. He took a look at you while you were sleeping, about 40 minutes ago, and decided off the rack XL would probably suffice until you get a chance to go shopping for yourself. But I mean, don’t spend too much. You’re gonna be outgrowing anything you get within a couple weeks, remember.”

I shook my head. This was really going to affect every aspect of my life, wasn’t it? I looked at Evan. He looked at me. “Hey, guys, could I have a couple minutes alone with Evan?” I asked. “Don’t go too far,” I said to Emily.

“Sure, Atticus, we’ll just be in the kitchen, okay?”

The door clicked behind them. I dropped the pillow. Evan whistled.

“Uh… happy birthday? Hope you like it?” I said, spreading my limbs as if I was a medical specimen. He walked toward me slowly, each step deliberate, devouring me with his eyes.

“You,” he breathed. “You were already the sexiest human being, in my eyes, but now… fuck.” He reached me, his hands running over my smooth, taut, silken skin, tracing the curves and protrusions of my newly-sprouted musculature. My dick, already half-hard, was rapidly finishing the job, poking Evan in his thigh. He leaned into me. Our mouths met, lips opening, tongues probing. He broke the kiss for a brief moment to sigh “Atticus” before he resumed, the intensity building, his hands roaming my broad shoulders, down my strong back.

“I dreamed about this,” murmured. “Never thought there was a chance of it coming true.” He didn’t specify what he meant—us finding each other, in all the chaos and noise of existence? My body being so finely tuned to Mutant Juice that all of our sickest, most unreal fantasies were suddenly realities, realities we were rocketing toward? His words from months ago, the first time we hooked up. The memory flooded back as he kissed the pillar of my neck, as his hands roamed my thick, powerful limbs.

“You wanna see me get so big I don’t fit through doors, huh?,” he’d said, his hand on my cock for the first time in my life. “Guess what I wanna see? I wanna see you get so fuckin’ big that you make me look like the small one.”

Evan was going to get his wish. I could feel my balls pulling up. I was getting close, even though our hands had stayed above our waists, even though Evan was still fully clothed.

I pulled back. “Much as I want to… show you my appreciation, my sister’s waiting, and Mateo and Rob, and…” I sighed. “There’s a lot we have to figure out. A lot of practicalities we need to sort. I know, I know. Not today. Today we can just be happy.” I sighed. Time to contradict myself, show what a hypocrite I am. “I’ve been thinking about Tanner.”

Evan screwed up his face like he smelled something rotten. “Really, Atticus?”

“Yes, really! We’re going home tomorrow afternoon, and we can’t film amateur pornography at home. And it’s already been more than a week since he issued his demand. So we’ve got tonight and tomorrow morning to make it happen, and we haven’t even talked about it since you mentioned it. And, and… and it’s your birthday.” I softened. “Maybe I want you to top me. Maybe that’s something I want to give to you. You’ve given me so much.” I felt my face start burning, my eyes sinking toward the floor. “I couldn’t think of a present for you, Evan. I want to give you everything, but I don’t even have anything to give you, other than, well… me. I want you to have me. okay?”

Evan gathered me into a hug. Not a foreplay hug, not a prelude to a makeout session. An honest hug. “You’ve already given me everything I need to be happy, Atticus. But if this is something you want to do, then… well… okay. But where? How?”

I remembered Rob’s hard but truthful words, about the things I’d have to do just to survive as a Leviathan. I needed to toughen myself. Let go of childish reluctance. My body was going to be a commodity anyway, may as well start dealing with that reality. “Let’s ask Leo if maybe we can go to his place, and he can film us, okay? He’s been really helpful, and a perfect gentleman, and, well, we can’t ask Emily, and I don’t want to ask Rob or Mateo, so who else is left?”

Evan sighed, pressed his forehead against mine. “I hate that we have to do this, Atticus, but, well. It’s that, or we just… run away. Me and you. Right now. Your parents are going to shit out their spines when you walk in the door 50 pounds heavier than you left on Thursday afternoon. Most of my stuff is still back at your parent’s house. Your stuff too. But, well, it’s only stuff, right? We have each other, and your sister and her girlfriend will help us, and I’ve got money in the bank. We could just run away.”

My stomach climbed up my esophagus then flopped back into its place. My dream was always to run away. And now a perfect man, who I loved more than I knew you could love someone, was trying to convince me to do just that. But how long would Evan’s money last before it ran out? How long could we crash on Emily’s futon? Could we even make OnlyFans content at her apartment? We needed a plan. I wanted to run. But I needed to know where we were running to.

“Let’s talk about it over the next couple of weeks, and aim to be out of there by June, okay?”

Evan grumbled. “You’re gonna be pushing 300 pounds by June, big boy, your mom and dad are gonna feel a certain way about that. But whatever you say.”

 

Part 13

“That’s what he said? Literally those words?”

“Yes. ‘Rail Dan’s shitty little twink son hard enough to make him cry.’”

Leo sucked air through his teeth and shook his head. “No one’s first time should be rough like that. Atticus, how’s your acting? Think you can fake some tears? Pretend like you’re being hurt more than you are?”

I frowned, remembering my one underwhelming turn on stage in the Grade 10 production of Our Town. “I’m not a good actor,” I said.

“You can’t be worse than the majority of porn actors out there,” Evan said, rubbing my shoulder. “And someone’s gonna have to break it to Tanner that ‘twink Atticus’ is very much a thing of the past. Look… this is more your idea than mine. If you don’t want to do this, you don’t have to.”

I looked at him, his kind dark eyes. “I do want to do this, though! Even before I learned about this stupid blackmail situation, I kind of… this is something I wanted to do for you. Give to you. I…” My voice dropped, my face burned. “I want to feel you inside me, Evan.” That confession made, I moved on to the practical arguments, picking up steam. “And we need to keep our secret safe for a few weeks more, and I need to get used to being an amateur porn star, so we may as well start now. But worrying about all that shit is kind of killing the vibe for me.”

Leo looked at us. “You guys are sweet enough to give a fella diabetes,” he said, not cruelly. “Look. I appreciate you wanting me to film you, get good angles, all that, but this feels… This Tanner shithead is violating you, right? That’s what’s actually happening here. And I kind of don’t feel right zooming in on the details for this creep’s satisfaction. It’s wrong, what’s happening here, even if you’re accepting that it has to happen. Maybe it would be best for all of us if we go with a ‘hidden camera’ approach? I can set up my webcam and go for a walk. You pretend you don’t even know it’s there and just do what comes naturally. I’ll come back an hour later. A little light editing, and the job’s done, right?”

I felt a surge of gratitude toward this massive heap of darkly handsome muscle, the stranger who’d scowled at me from across the expo floor like I’d done something wrong, the first time I saw him. At every opportunity, the things he said and did made me trust him more. “That sounds good. Thank you, Leo,” I said, putting my hand on his enormous deltoid, feeling its warmth through the stretched thin black cotton of his 6XL t-shirt. “I wanna tell you. If we didn’t have to make this dumb blackmail, I kind of… well… Evan suggested maybe the three of us…” I swallowed hard, feeling my face start to burn and my dick start to stiffen. Leo was grinning, understanding the words I was fumbling to say. “Look, I’m just saying…”

Leo’s eyes flickered toward Evan, and whatever he saw in that brief moment was clearly enough. His smile widened, the biggest grin I’d ever seen on the smouldering stud’s face. He grabbed me behind my head, pulled my face toward his, and locked lips with me.

I felt like I was going to jump out of my skin and melt with pleasure in the same moment. The way he kissed. It was so much like how Evan kissed yet also not at all like how Evan kissed. Did every man kiss in a unique way? Was someone’s kiss as distinct as their fingerprint? I felt my heart hammering, my dick straining. Leo’s tongue, firm, muscular, pushing into my mouth, darting and dancing around my tongue. At some point, Evan got up from his chair; I didn’t even notice, I guess my eyes were closed, but then I felt him press against me from behind, his hands encircling my tight ab-corseted waist, his hot breath on the nape of my neck. Shivers ran through my body like electric current and I broke the kiss to moan.

“What you’re trying to say,” Leo murmured, his voice dark, rough, sexy, “is that you’re horny for me. Well, good news,” he smirked, dropping a hand to give my dick a squeeze through the cheap H&M sweatpants that Mateo had procured. “The feeling is mutual. For both of you.”

Evan was peeling off my new XL shirt. The resistance my lats gave as the fabric stuck on them, its upward movement momentarily halted, was so exhilarating. I had wings now. I had pecs. I had boulder shoulders. I had cum gutters. I had teardrops. I had horseshoes.

Fuck,” Leo said, his eyes going wide, the shock and awe in his voice impossible to fake. Oh yeah. I almost forgot. I had a massive cock, too. That, at least, wasn’t new. “Is that allowed?” he said, grinning, before sinking to his knees and swallowing the first third of my 11” length into the wet furnace of his mouth.

I felt Evan behind me, his hips gently but steadily bucking into my ass, his mouth making out with the back of my neck, his arms draped over my shoulders, cupping my pecs, fingers tweaking my nipples. My nips weren’t ‘wired,’ I’d learned the term was, but it was still hot as hell.

I tried to reach behind me, to pull down Evan’s pants, to free his thick veiny uncut cock. I was hungry to feel his dick between my enlarged glutes. Leo was masterful, worshipping my spire of meat with his mouth. Looking down to see 400 pounds of tan veiny muscle suckling on your dick like drawing out your cum was the only thing that mattered in the world… his sharp cheekbones, even more obvious as his cheeks went concave with the force of his suction. His heavy eyebrows. Glancing up at me. Those dark eyes, pleading.

I let out a whimper, a moan, without meaning to, without even realizing it. There were no parents downstairs to hear. We could be as loud as we wanted, here.

“Turn on the camera,” I panted. Leo and Evan both paused what they were doing.

“You’re sure?” Evan asked, his arms still wrapped around my newly broad chest.

“Yeah,” I breathed, too horny to think. Maybe this is how we’d always have to do it, inflate Atticus Jr. with so much blood that my brain didn’t have enough oxygen to actually feel anxious. “Do it.”

Leo hopped up, grabbed his tripod, set up his phone on his desk, and hit record. Meanwhile, I spun around, pulled Evan’s pants down. He stepped out of them, kicked them into the corner of the room, pulled off his tank top in one smooth sexy motion. Leo was still in his black t-shirt, 30” arms exploding out of the tortured sleeves, muscle-bloated thighs popping out of his custom-made khaki shorts. He looked like a god of muscle sex as he sauntered back to us, his muscled bubble butt flexing and shifting for the camera’s benefit. I grabbed his broad shoulders, pulled him in for another passionate kiss. Evan followed, and I was sandwiched between both larger men, pressed on all sides by their hot, sweaty muscle, the smell of testosterone and sex overwhelming me.

Evan’s arms reached past me to Leo’s shirt, worked the fabric up, pulled it over Leo’s head. I gave a startled gasp at my first sight of his naked torso.

Evan was 300 pounds of voluptuous teenaged beef, marbled wagyu, each muscle plump, full. Leo, by contrast, was 400 pounds of raw lean sirloin, every muscle so defined it looked like it might rip out of the skin if he flexed hard enough. Ribbons of striations danced and shifted with each move. His light brown skin was glorious in the warm light, I wanted to touch every inch of him, and there were just so many inches.

I sunk to my knees, fumbling with the buckle on his shorts. He grunted, undid them for me, stepped back to let them fall and kick them aside. His cock was glorious. Uncut, like Evan’s. The shortest of the three of us, but not small. Goldilocks dick—just right, in size and shape. Truly a thing of beauty. He stepped forward, locked lips with Evan while I closed my mouth over his straining hard-on.

The sound of my boyfriend and Leo making out over my head while I sucked Leo’s dick. Some higher part of my brain stepped in to do a momentary self-assessment.

Was I jealous? Fuck no. This was… I felt like I was flying. This was what being gay was all about. This was an overload of muscle and dicks and testosterone and sex and masculinity. I had no reason to doubt Evan’s love and devotion to me. Or mine to him. And we both thought Leo was hot. And we both liked him. And we both wanted to experience his body. Why should repressive politics from the days when brides were chattel being exchanged between families stop this? This wasn’t just sex, this was liberation. This was communion. This was transcendence.

I let Leo’s cock pop out of my mouth, felt myself drooling, saw my slobber all over its veiny length, the delicious purple curve of its head half-uncovered, half-obscured by his foreskin.

“Evan,” I said. “Fuck me while I suck him off. Do it.” I sounded… was that my voice? This had happened before, with just me and Evan. My deference, my anxiety, all boiled away in the nuclear heat of my erotic frenzy. I was in command. I was in charge. I was the one on my knees, sucking a dick, about to have my virgin hole fucked, yet I was the one calling the shots, no question about it.

I smirked at the camera, breaking the fourth wall. Sorry, Tanner. No crying twinks today. Sorry to spoil your creepy fantasy.

Evan didn’t question me. Didn’t ask if I really meant it. There wasn’t room to doubt it, the way I had spoken, deep, resonant. Evan broke off, grabbed the bottle of lube waiting on Leo’s nightstand. Not even the comical farting sound as he squeezed out a generous dollop could break the mood. I felt his hand on my back, steadying me. The heat and pressure of his cockhead pushing gently between my glutes, looking for its entry.

“Do it,” I said, expecting pain, willing to accept it. Pain is temporary. No pain no gain. I grabbed Leo around the back of his thighs and pulled him closer, swallowing as much of his cock as I could without gagging.

I felt him push. I felt my body resist. “Relax,” Leo whispered, too quiet for the camera to pick it up. And I did relax, and Evan pushed again, and&ndash;

oh FUCK

I felt my body go rigid, my mouth shoot open, Leo’s cock popping out, bobbing in front of my face. I didn’t see his cock, though. I didn’t see anything. My throat felt like I’d just made some sort of loud noise, but I hadn’t heard it. My ass was instinctively pushing back against Evan, as if trying to drive him deeper into me. My limbs were quivering.

I heard Leo chuckle. “I think he likes it.” I sensed his body looming over me as he leaned in, kissing Evan as Evan fucked me for the first time.

It didn’t hurt. That’s not the right word. There was some pain, quickly fading as I grew used to it. The sensation was… overwhelming. It was delicious in its too-much-ness. I can’t… I can’t liken it to anything, if you’ve never experienced it. Needing to pee when your bladder’s empty is the only thing that comes to mind, and that’s such a silly, limp, impotent comparison. I was shaking, moaning, quivering, and each thrust Evan made sent electric shocks through my whole body.

I don’t remember taking Leo’s dick back into my mouth, but it was there, like a pacifier, something for me to moan around. Without warning, it was spurting; I clamped my lips around the thick column of flesh and swallowed for my life, tasting the salty-sweet-almond flavour. Just like kissing, Leo’s cum tasted both similar to and utterly different from Evan’s. Is that a third unique thing, something that also differed from man to man? His fingerprints. His kiss. His cum.

How do you live in a world with so many beautiful, sexy men and not want to sample as many of them as you can? Every guy who’s ever turned your eye, walking around with a dick swinging between his legs, a pair of balls brewing his own unique and potent masculine spirit.

Fuck. I’m a slut. I’m a gay slut. The realization slamming into me like a transport truck whose brakes have failed.

Was this a problem?

Fuck no.

“Atticus!” Evan gasped, the speed and force of his thrusts increasing. Leo was tweaking his nipples, which, unlike mine, definitely were ‘wired.’ He was flexing as hard as he could, his pecs twin mountains of flesh encroaching on his chin. He grabbed me and pulled me in close, held me there as he unloaded in me, spurting over and and over, more and more. “Atticus! Fuck! Fuck!”

Once Evan finished, I think we floated onto the bed. King-sized mattress, but even that can barely hold a combined 900 pounds of man-meat. Our limbs entangled. Our sweat flowing together. Our dicks softening, drooling like melting icicles. The unfamiliar ceiling. My hands tracing two bodies, one familiar, one new. Their hands tracing mine, and each other’s. I felt a three-person union in that moment, something I could never have expected. Hollywood doesn’t tell you this is possible. TV doesn’t tell you this is possible. Junior High Sex Ed doesn’t tell you this is possible. Mom and Dad don’t tell you this is possible.

But men can combine and melt into each other in numbers greater than two. I was staring, slack-jawed, in awe and wonder and relief, at a simple fact the world had conspired to hide from me: There are no rules.

Finally, my mind began to reform. “You’re welcome, OnlyFans,” I announced, feeling the two men twined around me chuckle and groan at my corny sense of humour.

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Emily and Imani took Evan and me to Emily’s favourite diner for breakfast the next morning, like we were supposed to do yesterday, except yesterday I was in the process of… utterly transforming. Imani couldn’t keep her jaw off the floor when she got her first sight of me, and all through the rest of the evening after our threesome with Leo and into the next morning she was full of jokes and quips. Sometimes she’d just stop what she was doing and take a good look at me, shaking her head in disbelief.

But it was time to leave. The utopia could not last. No utopia can.

“Don’t be strangers,” Imani said, hugging us goodbye first. “Now that I know you, I expect to see plenty of you, ya hear?”

“We need to make our plans, but, you know… we’ll probably be neighbours soon. We need to move to a city. May as well be a city where we have friends.”

“Family,” Imani corrected, smiling sweetly. She held me by my shoulders at arm’s length for a moment, looking at me as if trying to memorize my face, then she stepped back and let Emily say her goodbyes.

“Atticus…” Emily said, somehow putting 100,000 words’ worth of meaning into my name. She hugged me so tight my ribs creaked, even with a new thick layer of muscle insulating them. She leaned her face up toward my ear, whispered. “Be careful. You just took a huge step forward, and it’s tough to go backwards. And just your… new look. Mom and Dad are going to know something’s up. They’re going to be watching. Please, please… get out of there as soon as you can, okay? Pack your bags and come back next weekend and stay for good, I won’t care. Please.”

I hugged her back. “It’s gonna be okay, Emily,” I whispered back. She sniffed, and I realized suddenly she was holding back tears. “It’s gonna be okay.”

She let me go, wiped the corners of her eyes, went to hug Evan. “Take care of him,” she said as they embraced, no further elaboration needed.

“I promise,” Evan said back, simply.

And then we got in his beat up old Toyota and began the long drive home.

We were quiet most of the way. The car felt much more cramped, now that there were two bodybuilders crammed into the front seat. I wondered how much life was left in Evan’s old beater. That was another thing, repairing an old car, buying a new one… maybe, if we moved into the right sort of neighbourhood, we could get by without a car? Sell this one for parts? I doubted it would fetch much…

We stopped for gas and to pee and to eat a meal, Tupperware we’d prepared in Emily’s kitchen last night. “The OnlyFans post is going bananas,” Evan said, glancing through his phone. “I’ve only ever done solo material. People can’t believe how hot you and Leo are.”

“Are they wrong?” I asked, grinning as I gathered up a fork of chicken and rice.

“Nope. I just hope one particular subscriber is satisfied.”

It was starting to get dark as we took the highway exit for my neighbourhood. The 24 hour McDonalds where Evan and I had our first date, even if I didn’t know it was a date. The office building where we’d parked late one night to make out in secret, and the police car that pulled in because they thought we might be getting high. My Starbucks where Evan picked me up after work so often. Where I’d found him, that day, sobbing over the memory of his beloved father, and I’d held him, and told him I’d always be there.

We’d built up memories in this stupid fucking town. I couldn’t look at any of it without remembering him. Thinking of how we’d slowly discovered each other. Found each other through the chaos and the mess of the world.

None of it was supposed to happen.

We pulled into the driveway. An unfamiliar car was next to my dad’s truck and my mom’s sedan. I frowned at it. Doubt and fear were starting to claw at the corners of my mind.

I wish I’d listened. I could have told Evan to put the car in reverse, head back to the highway, keep driving until we get back to Emily’s. He would have done it. I could have said that.

But I didn’t.

We walked in the door.

My mother was sitting at the kitchen table, crying. An unfamiliar man was standing, leaning against the fridge with about as much ease as an axe leaning against a tree trunk.

My dad was standing at the landing of the stairs. His face was stone. His fists were clenched.

“You.” His voice was taut, like a cable about to snap. “You have fifteen minutes to take as many of your things as you can out of my daughter’s room, and then you get the hell off my property.”

 

Part 14

I went on autopilot. I moved to follow Evan up the stairs immediately. Fifteen minutes wasn’t a lot of time and I needed to grab my stuff, too. Not enough time to pack up my gaming PC. Clothes, wallet, passport, charging cables… what else did I need?

I felt a hand on my shoulder, hauling me back. I spun to see my father, his face white with fury, his eyes burning. I felt something inside me snap, some rotten plank that had threatened to give way for years. My hands made a fist, and I was about to punch my father in the face with all my might, run after Evan, make our escape, when a voice like ice water and the sound of a chilling click froze me in place.

“Rethink that move, son.” The stranger leaning against the fridge stepped forward. Unlike my father, whose fury radiated off him like shimmers of heat off a highway in summer, this man seemed unsettling in his calm. Simple and placid as a glass of room-temperature water—except for the gun he was casually pointing at me, sharply defined in the kitchen light.

I stepped backwards, away from my father, away from the stairs, away from the gun, toward the front door, feeling my pulse accelerate, my breathing begin to go out of control. I was about to panic. No. No running, not without Evan. “We’re leaving,” I said, my voice tight. “Both of us.”

“No. He’s leaving. We’re going to sit down and have a family conversation,” the stranger with the gun said, quietly, but with no room for negotiation. Who the fuck was this guy and what gave him the right to be calling the shots like this? My father seemed to know, and to approve, and my mother was still sitting at the table, crying, a non-participant in the scene. For the time being it was me versus the stranger, somehow.

“We saw the video, Atticus,” my dad cut in, trying to seem calmer, as if he aspired to the superior self-control shown by the cool, collected stranger. You know, the supremely reasonable stranger with the fucking gun. But my father’s disgust was too powerful to suppress, his rage burning too hot, and his mouth twisted like he’d bitten into something rotten even as he spoke of the video.

“So? So what? Your son’s a faggot. There, are you happy? Like you didn’t know already!”

“My son is confused. A gay drug dealer conned his way into free room and board so he could lay low while the heat died down back home, somewhere no one would think to look for him. And he saw an opportunity to poison another mind, and he took it. Sank his talons into our sheltered, impressionable, mentally ill younger son, got him hooked on steroids and gay sex, broke his loyalty to his family and to his God.” Dad’s voice grew in strength and anger like a hurricane passing over the Caribbean, the final words like a storm crashing into a city, levees breaking. He turned away, vibrating, back stiff, fist clenched.

My mom sniffled from the kitchen table and spoke, her voice tear-sodden. “Someone sent us the video last night. I tracked down Barb on Facebook and things didn’t add up, so I messaged her. We ended up talking all night and more this morning. He’s been lying to us this whole time, Ty-Ty. He stole her jewellery and disappeared, she didn’t know if he was alive or dead. She didn’t tell the police because she wanted to put it all behind her, but she never even guessed he’d done something as evil as this, she thought he was in a gutter somewhere… Oh, my poor baby, all the twisted lies he’s been telling you. Whatever crazy drugs he’s pumped into your body to turn you into… this. My poor, poor baby.” And she started crying again, harder than before.

I stared at the stranger with the gun. My parents were hysterical, there was no point engaging with them. He wasn’t hysterical, and he held the balance of power in the room. I had to ignore my parents and focus on him. “Who are you,” I said flatly, the deadly weapon the only thing stopping me from charging up those stairs, grabbing Evan’s arm, running out the door with him, never coming back.

“You’ll get to know me quite well, Atticus. You can address me as Mr. Hearst for the time being.”

My heart was pounding. I’d played out this scenario a thousand times, over the months, knowing the longer we lingered in my parents’ house, the more likely it was to happen. But I’d never factored in a third person, let alone some John Wayne wannabe with a fucking gun.

“And why are you here?”

“I’m here to guide you back onto the right track, son. Think of me as a shepherd. This weapon I’m holding, it’s just a herding dog, barking at a sheep who’s wandered into danger, metaphorically. You hate me right now, and you’re gonna hate me a lot harder in the next few days, but soon enough you’ll realize I’m your best friend.”

Fuck it. I decided to call his bluff. What was he going to do, shoot me in the back in front of my mom and dad? He himself just implied he had no intent to use the gun. I turned and pushed past my father to go up the stairs, using my newly broad shoulders to muscle him out of the way.

I was right. He didn’t shoot me—at least not with a bullet.

“One step more and we call the police,” Mr Hearst said, voice still calm, conversational, like observing that the forecast called for rain tomorrow.

I froze. “On what charges? We’re 19. We haven’t done anything illegal.”

You haven’t. That lost soul you’re so eager to run to, that lying crook who has you so ready to forsake your own blood—he has. He’s done many illegal things, actually. He stole valuables from his mother, no doubt to pawn them for drug money. He impersonated his mother, online and over text messages, for an extended period of time. He used the impersonation to lie to this family, to scam his way into this house, depriving them of the income an honest boarder would have been paying in rent. He almost certainly used this house to store whatever illegal steroids he’s so obviously peddling.”

I froze, halfway up the stairs. I knew Evan was hearing every word we spoke. The lack of soundproofing in the house had never been so relevant. I wasn’t familiar with the law, but those did sound like things someone could be charged for. Mutant Juice was legal, but Evan had talked about also running more traditional gear. I didn’t care, though—even if Evan was guilty, those crimes were either victimless or perpetrated on those who deserved them. But the police might feel very differently… “Are you a cop?” I asked hesitantly.

“No. And no police need be involved, if you take my offer. Evan’s mother has decided, since you and your family are Evan’s victims, that the decision rests with your mother and father whether to press charges. And your mother and father have decided not to press charges if you take my offer. If you decline… Well, you force our hand, unfortunately.”

“What’s the offer?”

“I run a program for confused young men, up in the hills. Quite a beautiful spot, really. Your parents have generously paid for a six week stay. It’s very peaceful. You’ll be able to clear your head of all the evil influences that have infected it. Get back in touch with who you really are, what you really want, what it means to be a man. Get your feet back on the right path. God has a plan for you, Atticus, and it doesn’t involve any of what you’ve been doing.”

“And if I spend six weeks at your… retreat… you’ll let Evan go?”

“Much as it pains me, yes. Evan is a predator. He’ll find another vulnerable young person to sink his fangs into soon enough. But your parents love you so much, Atticus, they’ve convinced me that you’re still capable of being saved. And Evan won’t last long on his own. He’ll end up in jail soon enough, anyway. Weak men like him always implode sooner or later.”

“Can I… talk it over with him?” My dad scoffed at this, but said nothing.

“Absolutely not,” Mr. Hearst said. “The sooner we sever that tie, the better. In fact, come here.” As if to make the first move in building trust, he holstered his gun as he beckoned to me.

Gradually, not sure what else to do, I stepped toward him. I moved cautiously, slowly, almost expecting my father’s restraint to snap and for him to whip around and deck me across the face as I moved past him.

I examined this Mr Hearst as I walked. He was a sturdily-built man, tall, about 50 if I had to guess. Good posture, direct gaze. Icy blue eyes, I could tell that even from this far away. I was more muscular than him, thanks to my recent growth, but I somehow understood that, even without a gun, he could snap my arm before I even knew what was happening if I tried something with him. I had muscles now, but I had never been in a fight in my life. Technique beats raw strength, that much I knew.

“Hand me your phone,” he said when I stopped before him.

I felt a sickening lurch. “No.”

His thin lips quirked as if I’d made a quip. “The alcoholic never wants to give up the bottle.” Then he moved, fast as lightning, landing a light blow on my right ribcage even as he snatched my phone from my left pants pocket. The blow didn’t hurt, it didn’t even wind me. It was simply designed to distract me momentarily and for me to leave my left side unguarded. “But sometimes they need someone to take the bottle away so they can get better.” He slipped my phone into his pocket with a gentle paternal smile. “That wasn’t so bad, now, was it? You might get that back in a few weeks, depending on how things go. I need to know I can trust you, first. And there’s no sense introducing antibiotics while the source of the infection is still present.”

“Five minutes,” my dad sternly intoned from the base of the stairs.

Evan emerged moments later. He wasn’t going to use all his time. He had a big duffle bag that was bulging, full of hastily packed things, and his backpack. He was shaking. I looked at him, my heart breaking. He looked back at me, his big brown eyes hurt, pleading, red-rimmed. His cheeks wet.

“Please, don’t hurt him—” he began.

Stop. Talking. Get out of my house and never come back!” my dad bellowed.

“I’ll wait for you, Atticus!” Evan called out with a breaking voice as he hustled out the door.

The room was deadly silent. I heard the old Toyota start up. Heard it reverse out the driveway. Heard it fade into the distance.

I couldn’t help it. I broke. My breathing shook, fast, then I sobbed despite my best efforts to hold it back. My dad looked at me like I was a piece of dog shit he’d accidentally stepped in. “Such a fool,” he muttered to himself. “Here I thought that sicko was finally turning you into a man, not some sort of… overgrown sissy. Crying like a girl.”

Mr. Hearst, though, put his hand on my shoulder. “It’s all right son. You cry it out. You’ll be doing plenty of crying over the next few days, believe me. You’re safe now. We’re gonna take good care of you.” An unintentional echo of Rob’s words to me. I didn’t doubt Hearst meant them just as sincerely as Rob did, yet I dreaded his care just as much as I longed for Rob’s.

I tried to tell myself I just had to endure six weeks in the woods with this gun-loving Jesus weirdo, and then I could be free. Evan would wait. I just had to make it through this, and we’d be okay.

I don’t want to tell you about the next few weeks, though.

I don’t want to tell you about what came after them.

I can’t do it. It hurts me too much. I’m going to ask someone else to tell you. Someone I trust.

I’m so sorry.

 

Part 15

So. This is Emily. Atticus asked me to tell this part of the story because, well—you’ll see. I want to tell you a couple things first, though. One, this is going to get real rough. If you don’t think you can handle it, you can tap out. I can promise you a happy ending, there’s a light at the end of the tunnel and I cross my heart it’s not a train. Remember, I’m writing this because Atticus asked me to, after all. But yeah, this last part of the roller coaster is vicious, and you need to know that, going into it.

Think of me as your big sister. Your big sis wants you to take care of yourself. I’ll be holding your hand, okay? I’ll be here the whole time.

Okay. So, what happened next, you ask? Well.

I had a sick feeling in my stomach all day, before and after Atticus and Evan left. Imani tells me all Aquarians are low-key psychic but we’re also all too logical and stubborn to admit it even to ourselves. I just knew things had been too good for too long, that’s all. That’s how it always went with Mom and Dad. It would seem like you’d gotten away with something, then the house of cards would suddenly collapse, and your My Chemical Romance CDs are snapped in half in the trash, or you’re not allowed to spend time with that Lacey girl anymore, or you have to quit the dance troupe, or whatever. I’m not psychic, I just notice patterns and extrapolate from them, and my parents have a definite pattern of waiting ‘til your guard is down before they ruin your life.

So, that evening, when my phone unexpectedly rang, I somehow knew it was bad news. I saw it was Evan so of course I answered right away, knowing he would have texted unless it was serious. My stomach flopped like a just-caught fish as I said “Hello?”

I couldn’t understand him at first. He was crying too hard. “Are you driving? Pull over. What happened? Is Atticus okay? Are you okay?” My heart was hammering as I tried to get sense out of him.

“No,” he choked out. “No, we’re… we’re not okay. One sec.” My heart was in my throat, I wanted to demand more from him, tell me no one’s hurt, no one’s dead, but I had to wait. I heard him breathing hard, whimpering. I presumed he was following my orders to pull over. I looked at Imani and my heart gave a wild throb. The look on her face. She knew. And she calls me psychic. That beautiful woman I’m privileged to share my life with, she knew already, and her heart was already breaking.

I managed to get it out of Evan eventually. Someone had outed them to mom and dad—probably that shithead Tanner, I learned later. Fucking creep. I still remember the time I was walking through the kitchen, when I was 15, and he was over for one of dad’s stupid boys’ nights, and he came out of the bathroom and grabbed my ass as I walked by him, reeking of booze. Fuck him. I hope he dies a slow and painful death of an untreatable cancer.

I told Evan to come back to us, of course. It was a long drive for someone crying that much, but I told him to take it slow, take breaks, stay safe, and we’d stay up for him, no matter how late. I told him to keep us on speaker phone for company, if it helped. He did just that, the whole drive. We talked about stupid shit. Every time it started to veer toward what had just happened, Imani steered us away. She knew what she was doing. Evan getting into a wreck because he’s too upset to drive only makes the situation worse.

It was almost five hours before he got here. By that time, I’d started to calm down. Yeah, this sucked, but it was only six weeks, and Atticus would be free after that, right? The cat was out of the bag with mom and dad. I was free to come out to them now, too, and me and Imani and Atticus and Evan could be a little family of our own, and maybe someday, if the parentals ever deprogrammed their shit-clogged brains, they could come back into our lives on probation or something…

Evan hung up the phone as he approached our parking garage, since he’d lose the signal once he was inside anyway. I looked at Imani, feeling much calmer than before, lulled by five hours of light conversation, acting like there was no emergency to keep Evan from falling apart. “Well, it’s gonna be a long, frustrating, boring six weeks for Ty, but at least he’ll be free after.”

Imani shook her head sadly. “Darlin’, no. Look, we needed to keep Evan calm so he got here safe, but honey… these conversion therapy wilderness retreats… they’re no joke. They’re going to get in his head. He’s such a sensitive kid. Your poor little brother isn’t going to be okay when he gets out of there. You might not even recognize him. This is an emergency. We need to find out where this place is and jailbreak him.”

“You don’t think they’re actually gonna brainwash him, do you?” I said, almost half joking. Imani looked at me, her expression dead serious. She said nothing, didn’t shake her head yes or no, but somehow her lack of response was answer enough. “Oh fuck,” I said, my stomach sinking. “Oh fuck.”

“Darlin’, Evan’s going to be here any minute and we need to serve him brave and cheerful, but… I really never wanted to tell you, definitely not this way, but my parents sent me to a place like that when I was 15. I left there thinking I was a good Christian girl dealing with ‘same sex attraction’ as just Satan’s special way of tempin’ me, and it took me about two years to unfuck my head and realize I am who I am. God don’t make mistakes, but people make plenty, so maybe I should trust what my heart tells me over some church lady with a book.”

I threw my arms around her, breathing in her smell, her essence, thinking of her as a confused 15 year old, being made to believe there was something wrong with who she was. “I’m so sorry,” I murmured, my face pressed against her soft shoulder. “I’m so sorry you went through that.”

“Shh, darlin’, I don’t need comforting about that right now. You and Evan are the ones who need the comforting. And Atticus needs us to get his little muscle-butt out of there ASAP. I just wanted you to know what we’re up against. It’s not an easy enemy. Don’t underestimate it. We’ve got a fight for your little brother’s soul on our hands, okay? I promise I’ll do everything I can to help bring him home safe, darlin’. Right back here to us where he belongs.”

I nodded, more scared than before, but braver, too. I kissed her gently on the mouth, inhaled through my nostrils as our faces touched, breathing her in.

If I haven’t said it enough before now, I really love my girlfriend.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Those first few days were so tough. This was my last semester at undergrad. I had to attend my classes, pass in my papers, yet also I had to take care of Evan, and the three of us had to make a plan to rescue Atticus.

Imani was a superstar. She worked as a paralegal, and she had to stay on top of her job, but that work also meant she had crazy good research skills. She got every detail out of Evan before he went to bed, apologizing so sweetly as she did. She knew he’d forget details after he slept, and every little fact, no matter how trivial, might be useful in finding Atticus and getting him out of there. We had no social life in those weeks, tracking my brother down was what occupied any time we weren’t working, sleeping, or eating.

I wasn’t sure how to approach my parents. First, I wanted to drive right home the next morning and strangle them until they undid everything, which wasn’t realistic. Then I wanted to come out to them in a blaze of righteous fury, but Imani stopped me from doing that, too. “Much as I want to see them swallow their tongues, that doesn’t help our situation. Right now they’re an avenue we might get information from. Burn that bridge and that goes away. And currently we need information more than we need to feel righteous. We’re stumbling in the dark, hoping for a lead.”

So, instead, two days after, I sent my mother a text the three of us spent some time carefully composing. I casually asked if Atticus and Evan had arrived home safe, since I hadn’t heard from them, and said they’d been wonderful guests all weekend and I couldn’t wait to see them when the semester was over.

I could see she’d read it, but a response was a long time coming. When it did come, it was an incoherent mess. Something about Evan being a drug dealing scam artist who’d robbed his mother and stolen her identity, and how he wasn’t living here anymore.

Evan got quiet. “I… well… I did do those things, actually, but... I just…” I could see the corners of his eyes start to crinkle from strain. His voice was tightening, rising, I could sense panic brewing. “Please let me explain, you two are the only people I have left in the world, if I lose you… I can’t lose anyone else, I…”

Imani put her hand on his shoulder. “Shh, baby, we’re not in the business of hasty judgement here. Take as long as you need to calm down, and then tell us your story, and if we’ve got follow-up questions we’ll ask them nice and gentle, okay? You’re safe here.”

Evan nodded, blinking fast. He took a few long, slow, shaky breaths. “Okay. Well. About seven years ago mom and dad split up. I asked the judge to live with my dad, but I ended up having to spend about half my time at my mom’s anyway. My mom drank, she was a narcissist, she was emotionally abusive, she wasted her money on multi-level marketing scams… My dad was a lifeline. I used to count the days until I’d get to go to his place. I loved him so much. He… he was a good dad.

“But two years ago he got diagnosed with an aggressive, difficult to treat cancer. It was already pretty advanced, and about five months after that he…” Evan trailed off, didn’t finish his sentence. He took a second to gather himself before he continued. “Worst day of my life. Mom didn’t even come to see him in hospice. He told me I’d be taken care of, most of his money had gone to trying treatments to buy him more time, or god knows, maybe even put him in remission. None of it worked, obviously, but, well, he said there was some money left, not as much as I deserved but enough to get me on my feet and away from… her. He never gave me an exact figure but I got the sense it was like fifteen or twenty thousand.

“I kept wondering when that would happen. Would a lawyer show up and there’d be a reading of the will and I’d give over my bank account details, or… how does that even work. But nothing happened. I don’t even know how legal this is, or how she did it, or… it was never explained to me. I didn’t even know who to go to for help. Like do you call the police and say, officer, I think my mother stole my inheritance?

“So I’m pretty sure Mom took the money Dad left after he died. I never saw a cent of it, that’s for sure. She was definitely wasting more money than usual on bad wine and obvious scams, and she’d complain about how ungrateful I was whenever I asked her about it. And she’d talk about how she was such a better parent than… than my dad was. Like she enjoyed seeing how much that hurt me.

“If she was drunk, she’d laugh and call me a little girl because I missed him so much I cried sometimes. She resented how much I loved him. I used to lie awake at night and beg the universe to explain why my dad had to die and my mom had to live, and not the other way around. If my dad was still alive, I would have moved in with him full time, and my life would have been on such a good path. But he didn’t live. My shitty mom lived.

“And I couldn’t be around her anymore. I hated my life. I missed him so much, and I hated her so much, so… so I…” Evan took a deep breath as if steadying himself, forcing himself to continue.

“I started thinking of ways I could escape. I don’t know where the crazy idea to impersonate her came from, maybe at first I just wanted revenge for how she was fucking up my life by fucking hers up in my own way. She was sloppy as hell, easy to guess passwords, it wasn’t too difficult. I pulled a bunch of stupid adolescent pranks pretending to be her. I can’t believe I didn’t get caught.

“But I ended up talking to your mom, pretending to be my mom, and I realized the two of them weren’t really friends anymore, and I could possibly weasel my way into cheap or free room and board for a few months, far far away from my mom, far far away from my memories of my dad. I could hide there for a couple months, at least until I figured out something better. So I made those arrangements. I couldn’t believe it was working.

“I was half-heartedly on the hookup apps back then too, mostly as a way to get out of my mom’s house and to act out, I guess. But one night I went on a date with this Mateo guy who was staying at a hotel downtown, and he loves to chat after, uh, you know. And I learned he was in town for this bodybuilding expo the next day. I was already a gym rat, but my membership was going to expire soon and I knew mom wouldn’t give me the money to renew it—that always came from dad.

“Anyway. I knew exactly the company he represented the moment he said it, they’re really famous in bodybuilding circles. Mutant Juice. The same stuff that Atticus took that made him hulk out. And well… when he heard my story, he hooked me up with Mutant Juice and suggested I start an OnlyFans to help me make money so I could escape. A kind gift and some good advice, if you ask me. His only requirement was I stay in touch with him. I figured he wanted a booty call any time we were in the same city, but like, fair enough, I didn’t really mind.

“So the gears were turning. I had an escape plan, and a means of funding it. But I wasn’t making enough money from the OnlyFans yet. A week before I planned to leave, I bought my junky old car used, and that alone emptied out my savings. I’d spent weeks trying to find something cheaper and failing. The lie I told your mom about starting community college in the fall would fall apart if I missed the start of the semester, and I had no backup plans, so…

“On my last day in California, I stole mom’s jewellery while she was getting day drunk watching TV. I pawned it off, gas and hotel and food money, and I started driving. I figured she’d stolen my inheritance, I was owed it. But also, I liked doing it. I liked hurting her in whatever way I could.

“Every cop car I passed made me fucking sweat, I can tell you. But the drive was uneventful. Peaceful, even. Going through New Mexico on the second day, this sense of serenity came over me, like I was passing from an old life into a new one. I started to think maybe I’d actually done it. I’d escaped. I talked to my dad for hours like he was in the passenger seat next to me as I drove through the desert. I felt hopeful. That night, in that hotel in Albuquerque, was the first good sleep I had since Dad told me about his cancer.

“Took me about four days to get from California to Georgia. Stayed in a cheap hotel every night, ate McDonalds and gas station garbage. And a few days later, I pulled into your parents’ driveway, ready to lay the charm on thick, and Atticus came out of the door to greet me.

“I almost lost my cool right then and there. I didn’t even know he was still living at home. I barely remembered him from when we were kids. I was so scared of him at first, I was pretty confident I could fool your parents for a couple months, but Atticus knew something was fishy. I got so nervous I decided I had to tell him I was faking going to school. I just hoped he’d be on my side. I didn’t tell him the whole story because… because I was scared, and because… I think I was trying to pretend none of it had happened, you know? Like I could pretend Dad was still alive, he was just in California.

“And well… You know the rest…. I kept staying longer and longer because… because I couldn’t leave Atticus behind. I should have been out of there by Christmas, I was making enough money on OnlyFans to afford my own place by then. But Atticus knew I was faking going to school, and I had it for him so bad. Then he just blurted out this insane idea for us to share the same bed for two freaking weeks over Christmas holidays, like right to your parents’ faces at the dinner table, and… well… you know the rest.” Evan’s face scrunched up and he started breathing harder.

“I… I pretended to be asleep, and I cuddled up to him unconsciously, but I was actually awake the whole time and I was just… too nervous, and once I had my arms around him I never wanted to let him go.” He was crying, now. He had to stop for about a minute. Imani reached over and put her hand on his arm, silently held it there. We waited patiently for him to be able to continue.

“I wanted us to escape together. I thought… I thought we could make it. I really thought we could make it. And he wanted to get jacked like me, so I brought him into the gym, taught him to lift, and then he heard about Mutant Juice and he wanted in on that too, so I introduced him to Mateo, but apparently the fuckboi special was off the table this time, they wanted him to model for them instead, but then Atticus ended up being a super-responder anyway, and brought up all kinds of new questions about the future, but then all this happened, and… and… “ Evan looked at the two of us, his eyes shining, his cheeks wet, his nose dripping. “Please, please, you have to believe me. Please. I never wanted to hurt your family. I never wanted to hurt Atticus. I just… I just….”

Imani stood up and walked over to him slowly. He was seated, she was standing. She gently wrapped her arms around his thickly muscled neck, gathered his head into her chest, and kissed the top of his unruly black hair, rocked him slowly back and forth. “Baby,” she said soothingly. “Baby. Baby. Shh. It’s okay. You’re good. You’re good. We know you’re good.”

I heard Evan whimper helplessly into Imani’s chest, then break. His massive broad shoulders shook. His muffled voice was very little and lost, two or three words forced out with each ragged breath. “I’m just so tired… of people I love… being taken from me,” he said, sounding so broken.

Imani made gentle hushing sounds and kept rocking him back and forth, slowly, lovingly. “I know, baby. I know. The world ain’t a friend to people like us. I know.”

I walked over and joined in the hug. The three of us held each other for a few minutes as Evan cried it out. Eventually, I spoke. “Evan,” I said, hearing my own voice quavering. “We’re going to get him back. No one hurts my brother like that.”

Evan sniffled, gathered his composure a little. “Yeah. I wanna smash in that racist grandpa’s face when we track him down. Poor Atticus. Fuck. I hope he’s okay.”

I felt a little heh escape my throat, even as my eyes welled with tears. “Yeah, me too, but I meant you, doofus. You’re my big little brother too, far as I’m concerned, and I’m gonna do my best to take care of you, okay? No one fucks with my brothers. No one.”

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Eventually I got it out of mom that Atticus had gone away to a ‘retreat’ to help with his ‘stress.’ Amazing the lies homophobic family will tell to hide one member’s gayness from the others. Amazing that mom had no clue her daughter was also queer as fuck.

“He gets confused so easily,” Mom texted, about Atticus, apropos of nothing. “You remember the school counsellor.”

I did remember, and even that vague reference made me so mad I had to put my phone down and walk away before I said something rash. We still needed this line of communication, I couldn’t let a flash of temper burn our only thin, tenuous thread leading out of this minotaur’s labyrinth.

But damnit, it made me angry.

In fourth grade, the school counsellor suspected Atticus might be on the autism spectrum, based on his difficulty socializing with other kids and his trouble communicating. He didn’t pick up on common social cues, he sometimes got overwhelmed by too much stimuli and shut down. Far as I know, maybe that counsellor was right.

But we’ll never know, because rather than exploring the possibility and addressing any concerns, seeking out treatment or support if necessary, Mom and Dad simply used the counsellor’s speculation as a way to control Atticus. Anything about him they didn’t like, ‘his condition’ became the reason why.

It’s why he still lived at home—he ‘wasn’t capable’ of living on his own, according to them. It’s why they weren’t too suspicious about how he never dated girls, never made friends with other boys—his ‘condition’ made him awkward, a ‘condition’ they never bothered to get properly diagnosed or do anything about. Just a convenient excuse to control his life.

‘Autistic’ was a dirty word, they never used it, they trained Atticus not to use it, hell, I bet my poor brother never even thinks the word about himself. And fair enough, there never has been a diagnosis, it’s all just a school counsellor’s speculation from a decade ago. Mom and Dad never did anything other than pray over him. But even though they never said the word, they drilled it into him, over and over, that he was different. He was defective. He couldn’t have a normal life because of ‘how he was.’ They trained him to let them make decisions for him. They trained him to be timid, scared of independence. He wasn’t ever allowed to have his own life.

It’s why he was applying to the local community college next fall, instead of moving away to a big city to attend university. He had to continue living at home, what if he got overwhelmed? Or what if someone tricked him? It’s why they acted like his recent friendship with Evan was a saintly act of charity on Evan’s part—until they saw a video of Evan and some suspiciously Hispanic-looking stud spit-roasting their son, at which point Atticus became a victim who’d been manipulated by a homosexual predator, of course. In their eyes, Atticus was simply incapable of consent, a child in a nineteen-year-old’s body.

I remind you: no diagnosis, just them taking some school counsellor’s suggestion that maybe he might be on the spectrum, and running with that all the way to Crazytown.

Anyway. It was impossible to get details out of mom about this ‘retreat’ Atticus was attending. Days passed, building into weeks. Every day that went by without us figuring out where Atticus was, how to rescue him, my anxiety grew, and I could feel it building in Evan, too.

Finally, about four weeks after things exploded, Imani hit paydirt. I could kiss her—and I did.

There it was, fucking GeoCities-ass looking website. Darrell Hearst, CEO and chief counsellor of Living Spirit, a retreat for ‘same-sex attracted’ youth. Evan took one look at the headshot on the website and I could feel his body tense. I knew we’d found him before Evan gave a tight, terse “that’s him.”

Imani told us that, as a legal adult, Atticus was free to walk out of there at any point he wanted to. But Evan was adamant they were blackmailing him into staying, and Atticus had bargained his freedom for Evan’s safety. So we couldn’t just walk in the front door and yell “hey, Ty, your ride’s here!” Evan would become a fugitive from the law within twenty-four hours, most likely. Maybe they’d even try to detain him there until the police arrived, if he came with us on this rescue mission—Evan was known to Hearst and even the sight of him might blow up the rescue mission.

As for Imani, she made a very good point. “Darlin’, if the police get called, I don’t want to be there,” she said, and I couldn’t blame her.

So I went in alone. Evan and Imani parked the car a mile down the shitty rural backroad and waited.

I walked that last mile to get my brother, rehearsing in my head what I might say as I did, preparing myself for what I might find.

But nothing could have prepared me.

There he was, sitting in the common area right off the main entrance, behind a wall of glass; I saw him before anyone even spoke to me. He was reading a book and he didn’t see me, though. My sweet little brother. Face of an angel.

The rest of him, though… I forgot Atticus would be even bigger than when I last saw him. Evidently he hadn’t continued to take that Mutant Juice stuff, because after four weeks he probably would have been fifty or sixty pounds heavier, approaching Evan-sized—and Evan is, need I remind you, just shockingly large. Atticus wasn’t that big, but he had definitely slabbed on another dozen-or-so pounds. Look, I’m a lesbian, I’m not used to describing muscular male bodies in the lascivious way Atticus has up until this chapter, you’ll have to fill in the details yourself. Just know: Atticus was even bigger; he overfilled his chair with brawn, and his biceps bulged and twitched as he turned the pages of his book.

They would only let me speak to him with one of the counsellors present. It was that motherfucker Hearst himself, I recognized him from the website. He just sat against the wall, observing, not participating in the conversation.

It was so surreal. And heartbreaking. Atticus didn’t want to write this part? I don’t want to write this part. But someone’s gotta.

I offered to take him home with me. He declined. I glanced at Hearst. Maybe he was nervous because this Walker Texas Ranger wannabe was in the room? Maybe I could come back later tonight and sneak him out, I thought. But how to coordinate that with this Hearst freak in the room with us?

But then Atticus continued speaking. Voice level, evenly paced, neutral in tone. He said he regretted giving in to temptation, and that his time with Evan had been a mistake. He said he regretted hurting his family and damaging his relationship with Jesus. He said he wanted to stay here to continue working on himself. He said I should tell Evan to forget about him, and that he hoped Evan would one day realize the self-destructive path of spiritual darkness he was on, and would reach out and get saved. He gave me a meaningful look, like he wanted me to understand I was included in that message, too.

It was like they’d built an android to look like my brother. “Ty, I… you can’t mean any of that…”

He looked at me. There was no light in his eyes. His voice was even, calm, measured. “I’m sorry, Emily, but I do. I think you should leave, now.”

That motherfucker Hearst got up, walked over, put his hand on Atticus’s shoulder, and smiled at him, as I stood there, my mouth open like a fish, my stomach in freefall. “That took a lot of spiritual strength, Atticus. You’re learning and growing every day.”

I… what could I do? I got out of there. Grabbed my phone to text Imani as I hurried out the door, begging her to drive and get me, before they fucking chloroformed me and I woke up in some Clockwork Orange brainwashing device.

No signal. Text failed to send. Of course there was no signal in this fucking hellhole. I started walking back to the car. I was breathing harder and harder, trying desperately not to process what had just happened, what I’d heard. Don’t think of it. Just keep walking. Walk faster. Don’t think.

My poor baby brother. What had they done to him?

“No,” I said, shaking my head. “No. No. NO. NO!!” I screamed the last part at the trees, then started crying my eyes out, alone, digging my fingernails into my palms so hard I broke the skin a little bit.

What had they done? What had they done to my precious baby brother? Where was he? It was his body, all swollen up with muscle but still his body. It was his face, handsome, innocent-seeming. Same sandy blond hair and baby blue eyes. But he wasn’t in there anymore. He was gone, somewhere, somehow. They’d taken him away. He was gone.

I’m so glad no one drove by in the minute it took me to pull myself together and resume my grim march back to Imani and Evan. No more tears, Emily. You’re the fighter. You lost this battle, but you will make them regret starting this war. I didn’t believe my own pep talk, but I needed to act like I did.

They saw me coming, alone, from some distance. The car’s lights turned on. They pulled into the road, drove to me, slowed down as they drew near. They could clearly see I was alone. They could clearly see I’d been crying. They had to know what this meant.

Imani’s face was full of sadness and compassion. But the look on Evan’s face… as our eyes met, my heart broke, because I knew I’d have to be the one to break his.

I got in the front passenger seat, my insides feeling like a kicked hornet’s nest, and I said, very simply, “We’re too late. I talked to him. He’s not coming with us.”

I don’t remember exactly what happened next. Maybe Imani pulled over and let us have our feelings. We definitely stopped at some random-ass diner a few miles away, although I had no appetite for food and coffee felt like hot acid in my churning guts. Evan wasn’t theatrical. He didn’t wail and sob. Instead, he was like a puppet whose strings had been cut. He was monotone, zombie-like. Like all his hope was gone, and he couldn’t even cry about it anymore.

I reached across the diner table and grabbed Evan’s hands, held them tight as I could, stared at his face, pale, shellshocked. “You’re my brother, okay? You’re my family, and I’m your family, okay? I’m not trying to be noble here, Evan, I…” I swallowed hard. “I need you. I just… I let my little brother down, and they got him, and… I… if I let you…”

Imani took control of the situation. “He’ll come back. These therapies never stick. Believe me, I know, from personal experience. But it’ll probably take some time. A year, two years, five years, ten years… If you try to force it, try to remind him of who he really is, try to fight him, it’ll just make it take longer, because he’ll fight against it. It needs to come from inside of him, that realization. Or from some angle he’s not anticipating, something that gets past his defenses. Those monsters will have trained him to be on his guard against you, but maybe someone else can reach him. But he’s not lost forever, babies. He’s not dead. He’ll come back to us one day, I promise you.

Imani didn’t stop there, though, her voice gaining strength as she continued. “And you’ve got to be ready when he comes back. You’ll be so angry at him, but you’ve got to let that anger go. Realize: it’s not his fault. This is something that’s been done to him. He’ll be so ashamed of himself when he comes back, so angry at himself for the hurt he caused, the time he lost, you’ve got to welcome him back with all the love you can find, even though you feel hurt and angry too, do you hear me? Until then…”

She drew a long slow breath. “Until then, life’s gotta go on. We keep a place set at the table for Atticus, and we await the day he returns, but life’s gotta go on until that day comes, babies. We’ll take care of each other, I promise. You’re not alone in this world, Evan. The best weapon for fighting hate is love, so: I’m gonna fight by loving you people hard as I can, and I hope both of you fight that way, too.”

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There’s one final thing I need to tell you.

Imani is very wise. Usually I follow her advice. But I was so incandescent with rage at my parents, and I needed to let it out. Holding it in would have fucking killed me, and it was too much for me to just let it go.

I told Imani what I planned to do, and she tried to talk me out of it at first, but she saw how my pain and rage was soul-deep, and how I needed to get rid of it, for my own good. She saw how the terms of my compromise with myself had been shattered, the truce broken. So she gave me her blessings, kissed me deeply and tenderly, sent me out the door, and told me to phone her as soon as the deed was done.

I drove to my parents’ house. I walked in, calmly. Not like a badass in an action film. Just like a daughter approaching her mother and father.

And I dropped the bomb I’d carried in my back pocket since I was 12.

I told them I’m an out and proud lesbian. That I’ve been dating my girlfriend for three years, and we’ve been living together for eight months. I told them I dated my ‘best friend’ Andrea for the last year of high school. I told them Atticus was gay, and nothing they said or did could change that, a hundred years in the woods with some creep wouldn’t change that—just like nothing they ever said or did could change that I was gay.

And I said they should be ashamed of themselves for the deep psychological damage they’ve brought on their son. And that they didn’t love us, they just loved their idea of us. They didn’t want children, they just wanted extensions of themselves. Their entire lives were built on lies. Then I turned and left without saying another word, without acknowledging anything they said, like they were dead to me—because, in that moment, they were. In my mind, I burned the house to the ground and salted the earth. I deafened myself to their voices and I walked out of their lives.

And that’s about it from me. I’m going to hand the story back to Atticus now. I’m also going to echo Imani’s advice to me and Evan: please don’t be mad at my brother. This is something that was done to him. He didn’t want it to happen, and he resisted it as best he could, for as long as he could. All of us think we’ll be much stronger than we are, that we’ll be the special ones immune to psychological conditioning, impervious to the well-honed techniques used to break people and radically reshape them. I promise you, none of us are immune. None of us are special like that. Atticus did his best, but eventually they got him, because that’s what they do. They get people. Please, pity my brother. A terrible thing happened to him. Feel sorry and sad for him, but don’t be angry at him. He did his best.

And take care of yourselves, babies. Take care of each other. If you know someone who went through something like this, or if you’ve ever gone through it yourself, do your best to love them all the more, okay? Or to love yourself all the more. We all need it.

Love, your big sis, Emily.

 

Part 16

It was the same nightmare again. Didn’t matter that I’d put that behind me. It hunted my mind, preyed on me in my sleep, sent me visions of a future that could have been, almost was.

I was 38. 18 years since my first dose. 16 years since I took my last steps. 16 years since I could scratch an itch on my nose. 16 years trapped in this room, staring at the same walls day after day after day. Fully dependent on others to feed me, clean me, milk my hyperactive cock, keep me sane.

At first, there were ipads and flatscreen TVs, visitors and music and movies and podcasts and audiobooks. All that plus an endless stream of men horny for the burdensome and ever-swelling monstrosity of muscle my body had become. My body was continuing to become. Because every week, the little sting of a needle; every month, dozens of pounds of fresh meat crammed onto my already overburdened frame.

But the attention dwindled as years went by. The extreme fetishists still came, of course, the ones who truly mean it when they say ‘no such thing as too big,’ but they viewed me less as a person and more as a thing. And the people taking care of me became lazy, did their tasks on auto-pilot, spoke to me less and less—after all, I never had anything new to say. Same four walls, same routine, day after day, month after month, year after year. The only thing that changed was how my mutated body took up more and more space, how the walls and ceiling gradually got closer and closer.

I was still making them money, although as the cost of feeding me continued to grow, and as I outgrew the tastes of all but the most hardcore muscle junkies, I wondered how long that would remain true. I guess all it took was one hyper-wealthy fetishist to pay for me. Some Saudi prince who wants to see just how deep the rabbit hole goes.

Years passed and I ballooned past 3000 pounds, past 5000 pounds, past 8000 pounds… I felt helpless. Almost… pressurized. My bones fully buried, my joints purely theoretical at this point. Forget Vitruvian man; you could no longer discern limbs, or body parts, when looking at me. Just a veiny blob of hard flesh barely contained by tissue-paper skin. A living boulder. All muscle. Nothing more.

Was I human still? No one seemed to think so. They stopped talking to me. They stopped caring what I thought. How I felt. They left the feeding tube in all day, even when it wasn’t running (although those periods became shorter and shorter), preventing me from speaking, because it was too much bother to remove and insert it over and over.

And they left me staring at a glaring red digital display on the far wall. My weight. The crushing weight of me. The ever-increasing burden that stretched my skin, that taxed my joints, that compressed my lungs, that stressed my heart.

Today, 18 years into my endless growth, it read 10,927. Almost five and a half tons. The red digits glaring at me like an evil omen. I closed my eyes just to not have to look at it anymore. I knew, if I dozed off, when I awoke the number would be higher still.

I could hear them talking about me, talking like I wasn’t there, like I didn’t have ears to hear.

He’s the first one to get into five digits. What a freak. Wonder how much bigger he can get. Doubt he’ll make it to 40. I keep saying we should open the floodgates, double the doses just to see if we can get him to split his skin before, you know, the inevitable.

I can’t speak. I can’t move. I can only sit here, passively swelling, a grotesque abomination of what used to be a man. Forgotten, unloved, abandoned—a genetic error.

Tears trickling out of the corner of my closed eyes, as they so often do. They won’t notice. And if they do, they won’t care. Part of me wants them to do it. Double my doses. Quadruple them. Make me inflate with so much muscle, so quickly, that I literally go out with a bang. Let’s see if I get to six tons before I pop. Maybe even seven tons. Skin ripping, joints disarticulating, bones fracturing. It would be better than this endless twilight.

I wake up clutching my pillow, my heart hammering, my face wet.

But also, my cock hard as a diamond, so hard I can’t ignore it, even if I want to.

It only takes a second before I spew, when I brush my fingers against my throbbing erection. The only thing hotter than the cum on my belly is my shame. I’ve failed again. Move past it. Just like they taught me. Put the sin behind you and get your feet back on the right path.

Wash yourself off and pray and try to think about… I don’t know… boobs? Pornographic thoughts about women are sins too, but how else am I supposed to overcome my sick perversions and learn how to be a healthy heterosexual, with normal desires?

A theoretical problem—my attempts to have erotic fantasies about female bodies never last more than a few moments, as my brain stubbornly refuses to find them interesting in the least. I’ll drift off to sleep, feeling like a failure, but trying to focus on the future. Next time, I’ll do better.

Weeks will go by before the dream comes again, almost long enough that I’ll have forgotten it—almost, but not quite.

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It’s been a year since Mr. Hearst took me to Living Spirit. Coerced me into going. I left there a changed man. A saved man, I believed at the time. A defeated puppet, I believe now.

After I Ieft Living Spirit, I went to work at Dad’s contracting company, putting my new muscles to use. I never took another dose of Mutant Juice, I stopped going to the gym, I ate way less food, but after a year I still weighed about 230 pounds of lean raw muscle. I suspected I’d never lose the muscle, no matter what I did. Something about the genetic anomaly that made me grow it in the first place, I guess. I’d wear the muscle like a hairshirt, a life-long reminder of my perversion.

I looked like an elite classic bodybuilder, my body-fat no higher than 8%, my waist tight, my abs popping, my pecs big and pillowy, my arms strong and bulging, my butt round, defying gravity, my thighs too much for off-the-rack pants. My body felt pornographic, like I was designed to incite lust in the hearts of my fellow sinners. I tried to dress in ways that hid it, but at my size, with my proportions, even baggy clothes still hinted at my muscular size, my generous masculine curves. My outlandishly large genitalia felt like a cursed extension of this, like I was so deeply steeped in sex and sin that I’d never overcome it.

I was an unparalleled hunk, stated bluntly. I wasn’t the only one unhappy about it. Becka made disgusted faces about my muscles, and how stubborn they were, how they refused to disappear even though I stopped lifting weights and cut way back on my food. She constantly made bitchy little comments about my body. Maybe she felt insecure that I’d cheat on her, or that other women would hit on me? I promised her I’d try to size down for her sake. I was eager to please her—my first girlfriend.

I guess I should make the context explicit. It feels so strange to write it, now. Becka and I—yes, the bitchy coworker from Starbucks who was so nasty to Evan—were dating for about three months at this point, a year after Mr. Hearst took me to Living Spirit. She liked the idea that she’d finish converting me to heterosexuality. I tried to tell her what Mr. Hearst told me, that I’d probably struggle with same sex attraction for the rest of my life, no matter what, it was just a spiritual battle God decided I had to fight, but I don’t think she ever heard me, or if she did she chose to ignore it. Anyway, Becka was waiting for marriage, so it’s not like there’d been any… difficulties on that front. She was just supremely confident that any man would want her, and that by making me wait she only increased my desire for her. Looking back, I honestly think her homophobia was based on the fact that gay men were immune to her single source of power. She was clueless to the fact that I’d never felt desire for her, and that I was, in fact, desperately trying and failing to kindle those wet soggy leaves into a pitiful fire.

I kept praying and working hard, doing everything I could to make sure I’d, uh, rise to the occasion, on our wedding night. Not that Becka and I were even engaged, god no. It was only three months, after all. We held hands and kissed a little. But I knew I’d have to have sex with the woman I ended up marrying, one of these days. And maybe that would be Becka. I was so frightened of that day. What if I couldn’t get an erection? I just kept praying and trying to trust God that He’d take care of it, as long as I had faith. I believed, at the time, that God wanted everyone to be heterosexual, and if you didn’t feel heterosexual, you just had to pray harder, and resist homosexual thoughts and deeds, and He’d make it happen for you eventually if you held up your end of the bargain.

Ultimately, though, I tried not to think about it. That’s what Mr. Hearst told me to do. Don’t dwell on the past. The past is written, and it can’t be changed, but the future is unwritten, and we can choose what words go onto those pages.

But those nightmares… they wouldn’t leave me alone. The nightmares of my body growing, more and more, grotesquely overgrown, a horror-show of muscle, a tortured genetic anomaly.

Every time, I woke up so erect it took all of my will to keep my hands off myself, to direct my thoughts away from the fantasies the devil weaves while I’m asleep and my guard’s down. Often, my will failed, and I’d shoot a massive messy load, feel sick to my stomach, and then hurry past it. Like Mr. Hearst said. The past is written, it can’t be changed, but the future is unwritten. That orgasm was the past, even if it was five minutes ago. Now it’s time to focus on the future.

What else. I missed my sister, even though I thought of her as a lost soul at that point. I still loved her, and wanted to get her saved, too. Mom and Dad still wouldn’t tell me what happened. Her bedroom was a no-go zone. Door shut, no one ever allowed in or out. Something bad had happened. But if Mom and Dad cared enough to save me, why didn’t they care enough to try to save her? Why would they just let her go and mourn her like she’s dead?

And I missed Evan. I flinched away from that thought. It hurt too much, but also, Mr. Hearst warned me. He warned me about the feeling I had confused for love, which was really just lust and loneliness in a toxic mix, or so he said. Show no mercy and crush it under your heel every time you feel it. Gentleness is how the devil gets in, son.

But I looked at the perpetually closed door to Emily’s room. Evan’s room. I missed them. And I remembered how gentle and kind they were to me. How they didn’t need me to be anything, they just loved me for what I already was. I wondered where they were, how they were doing.

That day, especially. What day? What day am I narrating to you, dear reader?

Evan’s birthday. The day I got my first and only shot of Mutant Juice, one year ago. Evan’s last pitiful little trip with his dying father, the year before that. I promised Evan he’d never be alone on his birthday again. And here it was, a year later, his birthday, and I hadn’t seen him, or spoken to him since. I’d devoted so much energy to deleting him from my mind. Yet he persisted.

I felt a wild pulse inside me, agony and regret and despair, and I squeezed it hard as I could, attempted to strangle it in a panic.

Evan.

And I thought of the other construction workers I’d met through Dad’s company, and how I had to pretend to be someone I’m not when I’m with them.

And I thought of my girlfriend Becka and how she hates everything I used to be, how she’s actively turned off by my body, how she only loves me because she thinks she can change me. Thinks she has changed me, like I exist to validate her ego, as a tribute to her feminine power.

In fact, she doesn’t love me. She only loves what me being with her says about her.

And I don’t love her. I only want safety and peace and acceptance, and to have those things I need to be normal, and to be normal I need to have a girlfriend. It really doesn’t matter who. Both of us, we’re only just using each other.

And I could tell she didn’t love me, and I didn’t love her, because I knew what love actually felt like, and I–

Oh, Evan, I’m so sorry.

My heart leapt into my throat and tried to fly out of my mouth. I slammed the door shut on my thoughts, crushed my heart back down into my chest, tried to compress it into a small dead thing. Felt it wildly struggle for its life against my claws.

I turned away from the closed door to Emily’s room. Evan’s room. A door that’s forever closed in this house, now.

I went downstairs, in the predawn gloom, made the modest bag lunch I’d carry to today’s site. Then I got in the pickup truck I bought myself with my earnings from my new job—construction paid so much better than Starbucks—and drove off to work as the sun rose behind me.

It’s a new day. A new life. A new me. I shouldn’t dwell on what used to be, what should never have been.

Funny to report that’s what I thought, that morning, knowing where I’d be before the sun rose again the next day.

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I stopped at the supermarket on my way home. A familiar figure in the produce aisle, frowning at the chicken breasts. A bear of an older man. “Damn inflation,” he said gruffly. He sensed me approaching, looked up. “Atticus!” he said, like I’m an old friend.

It took me a second. “Tom John,” I said, remembering the owner of the gym where me and Evan… no, shut it down.

“It’s been a damn long time! I thought you boys must have moved off to the city, about time you did too. Home visiting the folks, I suppose? You’re looking good, son, real good. Like, shit, you could win the Classic division at a local show if you set your mind to it, with a build like that. You must be working your ass off wherever you’re lifting now. How’s Evan?”

“No, ah, I… I’m living at home right now. Evan and I… I haven’t seen Evan in about a year.”

Tom John’s face fell. “That’s a real shame, son. I know you two was young, but I got a real good feelin’ when I looked at the both of ya, and I’m not usually wrong ‘bout those things. Made me think of myself and my man when we was first gettin’ together, when I’d see the two of you all pumped to hell and sweatin’, tossin’ the iron around and makin’ moon eyes at each other in the mirror.”

I looked around, nervous. “... Your man?”

Tom John smiled warmly. “Look, you know as well as I do, you gotta keep a low profile livin’ in a place like this, but, well, they’ll never erase us, right? Any town that thinks it ain’t got a few queers in it is just foolin’ themselves. Remember that, son, we’ve always been here and we’ll always be here, no matter what homophobes say or do to try and get rid of us. Now I know you wouldn’t tell it by lookin’ at me, and that’s very much on purpose, but, well, I’m gay as a show on Broadway. You’ll get a better ‘gaydar’ as you get older. But yeah, my man, he’s also John, funny enough. We’ve been together now for twenty-three years, and I don’t know what I’d do without him. Even in a town like this, you can make it work, if you know who you are and never let go of that.”

I felt panic rising. I wanted to shield myself from Tom John’s friendly words like they were blows. Tom John’s… and he thinks I’m….

He sensed my distress but attributed it to the wrong thing. Or, looking back, maybe he saw right through me and understood perfectly well why I was on the verge of freaking out all of a sudden, and what he said next was all calculated to have a precise effect.

“Son, I’m rightfully sorry to hear it didn’t work out with Evan. I know first love hurts the hardest when it goes. Not easy to find love in a place like this where you’ve got to keep your true self hidden away. Repressing yourself, hiding in a closet, it can warp a person, and that can end up hurting the people closest to you. But you’re young yet. You’ll figure it out. You don’t need to tell me who broke up with who, and I’m sorry for touching on a sore spot.”

He glanced down at the chicken, gave a resigned sigh. “Pardon me for ramblin’, son. Well, you’re welcome back at the gym any time you should feel like it, and if money’s the issue…” he glared at the chicken as if rethinking what he was about to say, but then decided to go ahead and say it anyway “...if money’s the issue, you just come talk to me and we’ll work something out. Family takes care of family, and all us rainbow types are family, in a way.”

I watched him push his cart away. I felt my awareness of the world shrink down to nothing. I left the store without buying any of the things I’d come to buy. I got behind the wheel of my truck and I made contact with my eyes in the rearview mirror.

Repressing yourself, hiding in a closet, it can warp a person, and that can end up hurting the people closest to you.

I only saw that I was crying by looking in the mirror. My face contorting, muscles around my mouth and my eyes almost cramping, like they were trying to snap my reflection in half. I was shaking. I heard such a strange sound, and only its rhythmic repetition made me realize it was me. My breathing, like someone suffering a severe asthma attack, a pained rasp, except my lungs were fine, it was my heart that was breaking.

I heard a tapping on my window. Suddenly aware of what a spectacle I must have been making, a big strong man having a psychotic episode alone in his truck, parked outside the supermarket. I panicked but what could I do? I couldn’t hide. I looked to my left.

Tom John was standing outside the window, his face so sad and worried. Trembling, forcefully snorting back snot, whimpering, I rolled the window down.

“Go to him, boy. Don’t give me any excuses. Go to him right now and tell him what’s in your heart. No grand gestures, mind, and no guarantees. This ain’t a movie. You might stay broken up. But you go to him, you hear me, and you say to him whatever’s got you crying your heart out in the parking lot, or things won’t be right inside you for a damn long time, maybe never. Drive all night if you’ve gotta. And come find me later on and tell me how it went, you hear me?”

I sniffled and nodded. Tom John stood there, as if expecting something. “Yes sir,” I said, and that seemed to satisfy him.

“Good boy.” The automatic flush of warmth that washed over me. The feeling that I was doing something good, something right. Glad to have earned Tom John’s approval. I felt the instinct to crush it again. That good feeling? That’s the devil speaking.

But I couldn’t. I needed it now. And maybe it wasn’t the devil. Maybe Hearst was wrong. Tom John and his man had been together more than twenty years. Was he evil? Was he going to hell for that? It didn’t square up, in my head. It couldn’t be right.

I put the window up, turned the truck on, and carefully pulled out, trying to hold back the tears now just to make sure I’d get to where I was going safely.

I had a mission.

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Problem is, I had no idea where Evan even was. I didn’t even have a way to contact him. Hearst erased my phone before he gave it back to me.

I walked into my parents’ empty house. They were both out, thank fuck. I felt animated, yet also, afraid to think. If I thought, I might doubt. And if I began to doubt, I might fall backwards. And I couldn’t fall again. Some part of me knew I was making an escape. That part of me knew this might be my only chance to escape.

How to find him. Maybe… It was only a hunch, but it was worth trying.

I walked up the stairs, directly towards Emily’s room. Evan’s room. His room. The door that’s been barred shut for the last year. I pushed it. Locked.

I looked at it.

Something welled up in me. I’m 230 pounds of raw muscle and I’ve let everyone else run my life for me. I let them take him from me. No, worse. I let them convince me that I had to leave him behind. The one I promised I’d never abandon. They tricked me into hurting him.

With a raw surge of rage and pain, I raised my boot and slammed it against the door. It flew off the hinges with shocking ease, collapsing inward. I’d never even taken my Mutant Juice’d muscles for a single workout, I had no idea how much weight these legs could squat, but god damn, did I wreck that door.

Evan’s clothes and computer and other stuff was gone, of course. He’d crammed almost everything into that duffel in the ten minutes he’d spent packing while listening to Hearst weave the spider’s web that ensnared me. The room felt desolate. Yet it also felt unchanged.

Maybe he left me something. A note. A clue. I began searching.

There. Under the bed. Two boxes.

I got down on my knees, reached in, shimmied them out.

The Mutant Juice logo staring up at my face.

They’d been here the whole time. The two months’ worth of Mutant Juice Rob had given me at the expo. Waiting under the bed. I’d spent the last year trying to shrink these Mutant muscles, and yet, here, in this moment, I felt a warm thrill. I was grateful to find this.

I wiped the dust off and opened them. Eight full syringes stared back up at me. I closed the boxes, examined them. They did have expiration dates. They were still several months into the future.

Think about this later, Atticus. But. Take them with you. He left them for you. Evan hid them under the bed hoping you’d find them. They’re yours, Atticus.

No other clue. I spent twenty minutes searching. But I knew Mom and Dad would both be home soon. The kicked-in door would be impossible to miss, impossible to explain, without revealing my entire plan. And I didn’t want to talk to them about it. I knew they’d trained me to be passive so well, my defiance would collapse. Even just speaking to them might knock me off this path. I still felt so delicate, like Tom John had cast a spell—a good spell—on me, but it could vaporize on contact with anything that challenged it.

Keep moving. Nothing else to be found in Evan’s old room. Grab a handful of underwear and socks, a couple t-shirts. Your laptop. Your chargers. Couple of Cliff bars. And the two boxes of Mutant Juice. Get out the door. Now. Hurry. Before they get home.

In the truck. Heart pounding. Pulling out of the driveway. Goodbye, house. Goodbye, prison. I hope I never see you again.

Get to your sister, Atticus. Your north star. She’ll know what to do.

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I didn’t even know if Emily and Imani lived in the same building as before. It had been a year. People move. I wasn’t even sure I could find it—after all, I’d only been there once. But I simply needed to find it. I didn’t let myself doubt. I would just drive around the right neighbourhood until I saw it.

It was getting late. About 9 at night. But I found it. Found a spot nearby to park. I felt hollow. I felt like I was humming like high voltage wires. I hadn’t eaten since running into Tom John in the supermarket about five hours ago.

What was their apartment number? What code was their buzzer? I didn’t know these things. I stood in the entryway, scrutinizing the address board. Lots of people use pseudonyms, or don’t even have their names listed. But this was my only lead. I had opportunities to tailgate in, but I still didn’t know which unit to even go to, so I didn’t.

Then, a shocked voice. “Atticus?”

I looked up. Imani’s kind face, stunned. She had been collecting the mail, standing in the alcove over to the side, when she glanced my way.

I guess my expression told her she was correct. “Oh, my darling,” she said, running over to me, arms already extended for a hug, the beads in her hair clacking like applause.

I guess she knew I needed it.

“Are you okay? Do you need a place to stay? Come in, come in, is that bag everything you have? Your sister’s away at a conference til Monday, but we can get her on Facetime, she won’t care, oh Atticus baby we missed you so much.”

I pulled back. “Evan,” I managed to say, feeling… light. Empty. Hot. I had to achieve this before I sat down. If I stopped, if I rested, I somehow felt like I’d fail. I had to achieve this all at once if I had any chance of succeeding.

“Evan stayed with us the first few months, but he got a job as a trainer at a Gold’s not too far away, and got his own little bachelor apartment not too long after that. He should be getting off work in an hour, I can give you his number, or his address, or…”

“Which Gold’s?” She gave me the address, a look of concern starting to grow on her face.

“Atticus, baby, you seem real tired. I think you’ve been through a lot. Evan will still be there tomorrow, I promise. Come in with me, let me make you tea, fix you some food.” I shook my head no. I couldn’t explain. It was Evan’s birthday. I had to find him before the day was over. I had to keep my promise to him. “At least give me your number?”

“Same as it always has been, but they erased all my contacts back at… at that place, so I don’t have anyone else’s number. But if you text me it should go through.” I was already hoisting my bag onto my shoulder and turning to head back out. I knew where Evan was. It wasn’t too far.

Imani stood in the entryway as I left. I can’t tell you how she looked, because I didn’t look back. I had to find Evan. I didn’t let myself think. I simply focused on that one, simple task.

Find Evan. Make things right.

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The Gold’s was in the gay neighbourhood. Rainbow flags hanging off local businesses. Men holding hands as they walked down the street. I found a place to ditch my truck not far from Gold’s. In fact, I could see the gym through my windshield.

Then, my heart stopped beating. There he was. Coming through the front door.

Fuck. He was huge. No, he had been huge, before. 300 pounds of marbled beef. Now, he was easily pushing 400, with a hardness and a density to his physique that it had lacked before, too. He looked less like an overgrown boy, and more like a freakishly muscular man. A black hole of muscle, drawing all available light into him.

God, he was beautiful. His porcelain skin, his unruly black hair. His face still had a softness, a gentleness, that would never disappear no matter how monstrously huge he grew.

He clearly had trouble walking with thighs that big. His pecs mounded up almost to his damn chin with each swaying step. His arms looked to be close to 30 inches around. I cut the ignition and was in the process of jumping out of the truck to run to him when I froze in my tracks.

Evan wasn’t alone. Another behemoth, his size—no, ever so slightly bigger—waddled up to join him. They were so huge they could only exit the Gold’s one at a time, I realized. The two of them blocked the sidewalk with their impractical size, now. I recognized the second guy, too. His dark, brooding, handsome face. Leo.

Leo slipped his hand into Evan’s. Evan looked at him, so softly, so lovingly. They craned their necks together, pecs mashing, so huge they barely could get their mouths to meet. But they managed. A slow, sensuous, sexy kiss. They broke apart but kept their faces close, smiling that private smile lovers share. Like the rest of the world has disappeared for a moment as they take private joy in the fact of each other’s existence.

The tenuous house of cards I’d been so carefully protecting collapsed around me. I was there, my door open about six inches, my foot in the process of swinging out, watching Evan and Leo, so clearly in love with each other, kissing on the sidewalk.

It had been a year. What did I expect. I’d been dating Becka for three months, myself, although we’d never kissed like that, not so tenderly, with such open and honest hearts. Of course Evan moved on. I told Emily to tell him to move on. I told Emily to tell him our time together had been a mistake. Why should I have thought he’d wait for me? Why should I have expected him to live like a Victorian widow while I sorted my shit out? Of course he moved on. Of course someone as sexy and sweet and kind as him found another boyfriend, no problem.

I felt myself dissolving inside my own skin. They couldn’t see me. If they saw me, they’d come speak to me, and I’d… I’d… I couldn’t pretend to be anything right now. I’d cry. I’d beg. I’d make a scene. I’d embarrass myself. I pulled my foot back, closed the door carefully and quietly, turned on the ignition, and got the fuck out of there.

My heart crumbling like it was the victim of a fucking Thanos snap.

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It was a shoddy motel. Cheap. Why spend money. I’m not going to be here long.

My phone buzzing, more and more. Texts from Mom and Dad and Becka, which I ignored. Texts from unknown numbers, but I could guess who they were. Imani had put the word out that I was back. Emily, I suppose Evan, maybe even Leo. Rob, maybe, if Evan was also spreading the word? If Rob, then also Mateo, perhaps? Fuck, who knows, maybe even Tom John? Evan might have his number. That was about it, though. The short list of people who knew me, the real me, who might give a fuck about me.

I let the phone buzz away, untouched. I couldn’t deal with anything. I lay on the cheap bed and stared at the dirty ceiling, tears trickling out of the corner of my eyes. I was past sobbing and wailing, that was hours ago, when i still had some hope to sharpen the edges of my remorse. Now the hope was gone, and I was simply… there wasn’t enough of me left to feel anything. I was collapsing into nothing.

It had come to this, huh. My life as a ‘Christian struggling with same-sex attraction’ had been a miserable sham. The gay life I’d started to live a year ago had died of neglect in the meantime. I didn’t have anyone. I couldn’t imagine anything good ever happening to me again.

I could only see one thing left to do.

I opened the boxes of Mutant Juice. Eight syringes, all full. One per week for eight weeks. Can you overdose on Mutant Juice?

My memory flashed back to the bodybuilding expo, a year ago.

“Oh, Rob, our living situation is pretty precarious, we might be relocating in the next month or two, mail could be dicey. Would it be okay to give Atticus like, two months of Juice instead of one, just today?”

Rob shrugged. “Yeah, sure… Knock yourself out. Let me just note that on Atticus’s file, though. I don’t think you’re trying to scam us, but… we really can’t have people re-selling Mutant Juice, and we really can’t have people overdosing on it. You remember what happened to Ole.”

Yes. A vague memory of Rob making some passing reference to it. As something particularly bad. And that was before Rob knew I was a super-responder. A Leviathan. Me, a Leviathan. Another possible life the universe laid out before me, another life I’d shut down, another sprouting seed I’d crushed because I was too chickenshit to do anything but hide.

My eyes stung as I looked at the syringes. Memories of the nightmares that had hunted my sleep. If you’re going to go out, might as well go out with a bang.

I need to pause for a moment. I hate telling you about this. I feel so stupid. The reasoning is so shoddy, looking back at it, but in the moment… You have to realize. People aren’t rational in these moments, even if they feel like they’re being very coldly rational. At the time it seemed like I’d reached the only sensible conclusion. Telling you about it after the fact, I feel like such a fool.

Moving on autopilot, feeling nothing, absolutely nothing, a numbness inside and outside, I took the first syringe. Why bother with sterilizing anything? Not like I’m going to be around to suffer an infection.

One by one. Carefully, deliberately. All too easy to do. Before I knew it, all eight doses were in me.

I lay down on the dirty cheap bed and waited for whatever was going to happen next. I expected I’d pass out. Or my heart would start to beat rapidly and irregularly and I’d go out that way. Or something like that.

What I didn’t expect was a repeat of my experience at the Afterparty, but coming on much more quickly, much more ferociously. I gasped in shock and confusion as I felt it happening, this overwhelming hunger, growing more and more.

This was only supposed to happen the first time. Why was it happening a second time? Was it because of my massive overdose? Or was I some sort of true genetic freak, unlike even the other Leviathans?

I didn’t have the energy or time to speculate. I was rapidly growing hungrier. And hungrier. And hungrier.

And unlike the Afterparty, there was no small army of horny gay men to help me with a marathon feeding session. No Leo to drive me somewhere safe. No Rob to comfort me. No Evan. No Evan, no Evan ever again.

A super-responder undergoing a hypertrophic metabolic crisis who doesn’t eat will die in agony. His body will cannibalize its own organs in a desperate attempt to fulfil the mandate: grow or die.

Or, in my case, grow and die.

I had two Cliff bars in my bag, and they lasted about five seconds. I remember thinking I should try to get out of the room, try to find someplace, any place, with food, but I was already getting so weak, shaking uncontrollably, I doubted I would make it across a parking lot. But I had to find something to eat. I remember I was on my knees, trying to eat my clothes. Trying to shove anything even vaguely edible down my throat, into the howling void within me, the void that grew and grew. Desperately sucking toothpaste out of the tube. Stupid, stupid, stupid. I knew it was pointless. This was just something my panicking animal brain was doing, to try and stop the agony. None of this was food. None of this would even slow down what was happening to me. I was about to undergo multiple organ failures simultaneously. Maybe even my skin would be eaten up by my own desperate, haywire body.

I don’t have the language to describe to you the pain and the fear of those moments. I’m not sure how long they went on. It can’t have been more than a half hour, but it felt like an eternity. Every second I couldn’t satisfy the hunger felt longer than the second before.

I was sweating. Shaking. My vision was blurring. Maybe my eyes were already dissolving. I felt like they’d be the first to go, for some paranoid reason.

My phone kept buzzing and buzzing, on the dresser where I’d left it. I crawled toward it. Maybe I could send one last message. Tell them… what. Tell who what? I’m sorry I didn’t let you take care of me, Imani, I’m sorry I didn’t follow you inside and let you wrap me in a blanket and serve me tea. I’m sorry I made you feel like a failure, Emily, that I wasn’t strong enough to be the brother you deserve. I’m sorry I broke my promise, Evan. I hope you actually do forget me, because you deserve to be happy.

I couldn’t get to it, though. My phone, I mean. It was on the dresser but I was already so weak, on the floor, trying to crawl. Every muscle in my body cramping so painfully as the chemicals in me grew stronger and stronger, as the reaction cascaded, more and more.

I was dying.

It feels like remembering a dream. A dull thud. The door bursting open. Movement in the room. Voices, heard as if underwater. Someone yelling to call an ambulance.

Evan’s face, near my own. My eyes couldn’t focus but I was sure it was him.

I tried to speak, but only a gurgle came out. I tried to reach for him, but I couldn’t raise my hand.

He was crying. I could barely understand his words, choked as they were by fear. My mind fading, the room getting darker, colder, dimmer. I could hear myself struggling to draw breath. A terrible noise.

“Please hold on, please, please, hold on, stay with me, please….”

 

Part 17

Two boys sitting awkwardly in the basement of a nice house in the Bay Area. They’ve never met before today. Evan turned 10 a few months ago, and it’s his family’s house. Atticus turns 10 in a couple of weeks, and he’s miles from home, on this trip with his mother.

He can hear them upstairs now, his mother and Evan’s mother, talking, voices louder than they think they are. Evan stares at the screen, controller in his hands, absorbed. Atticus isn’t sure Evan is listening. But Atticus is definitely listening.

“I blame myself, all those vaccines.” His mother.

“You’ve got to forgive yourself, you had no idea, you were just doing what they told you was right.” Evan’s mother. “They work hard to suppress the truth.”

“I just want to give him as normal a life as someone like him can have.”

“At least he’s verbal, you know? You see these severe cases, they don’t even speak.”

“Sure, but he only mumbles, and he avoids eye contact, it’s such a frustration. What kind of man is he going to grow up to be, acting like that?”

Atticus tries to shut out the sounds from the living room. He watches Evan’s game. Evan has barely said more than three words to him since they were ushered downstairs by their mothers to play.

Evan is chubby, a soft boy, slightly effeminate. His jaw falls slack and he breathes through his mouth when he’s absorbed in his game. Black hair, pale skin, dark eyes. He pauses the game and looks at Atticus.

Scrawny Atticus, nervous, like it’s his first day owning a body. Never makes eye contact. Usually only speaks if he’s spoken to. Dark blonde hair, strong facial bones that presage a stunningly handsome face once puberty is through with him, not that his nascent good looks benefit his self-confidence one whit.

“Do you… want a turn?” Evan offers the controller. Atticus doesn’t recognize the game, his parents do let him play video games but each one is vetted before it enters the house, and this first person shooter seems far too violent to make it past the household censors.

“Uh, okay, but I’ve never played before, I’m going to suck.”

Evan smiles. “It’s okay. I’ll teach you.” He hands the controller over and shifts to the side of the couch to let Atticus move so he’s centered up with the TV. “You talk kinda funny,” Evan remarks, conversationally. Atticus blushes, looks down. He’s been told to speak up, to stop mumbling, but ‘you talk funny’? That’s new. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to insult you. You just kinda sound like… southern.”

Atticus shrugs. “That’s where I’m from.”

“Well… that makes sense, then.” Evan blushes in turn, like he regrets saying anything. “Let’s start a new save for you, so you can play the tutorial and do the missions. Character creation. That’s always fun. You wanna play as a boy or a girl?”

“Boy,” Atticus says, feeling a weird thrill. Evan kindly guiding him through creating his character, a lantern-jawed roided-up avatar of American masculinity that’s so utterly alien to the two boys creating him, one soft, the other scrawny. Atticus daring to move the sliders, pushing the shoulder width to the max, the chest depth to the max, maximum muscularity, making his character’s face more brutal, more testosterone-mutated. Evan doesn’t make fun of him, or judge him, or anything. In fact, he seems to accept this as just the sensible thing to do.

“Okay, we’re ready. Let’s start playing.”

Atticus does indeed suck. Not only has he never played this game before, but he has little experience with the FPS genre, his household being one of Mario and Kirby (not Pokemon—they were deemed too Satan-adjacent, randomly).

Upstairs, the former sorority sisters continue their chatter, but Atticus almost forgets their existence. He’s playing a forbidden video game with a new friend. He’s powerful, masculine, reshaping the world through force and skill. Active, violent. It’s exhilarating. He completes the first mission with a respectable kill count, and Evan cheers and claps him on the shoulder. “You’re really good, Atticus!”

Atticus feels himself flush with pleasure. Then he realizes he’s hogging the controller. “Uh… do you want a turn?”

Evan shakes his head. “I play this by myself every day. It’s fun to watch someone else play for the first time. I like it. Please keep playing, Atticus.”

Atticus looks over at Evan, the way the light from the TV screen casts his soft boyish face in harsh shadows. Their eyes meet, and some flash from the far future crackles like distant lightning on a dry summer night. Both boys feel something deep inside them, but it will be many years before they will understand what they’re feeling.

Then, from the head of the stairs to the basement, a voice. “Atticus! It’s time to leave!”

Evan frowns. “Don’t go yet, Atticus. Stay and play a little bit longer. Play the next level with me. I’ll help you through it, I promise.”

Atticus looks at the controller in his hand, ready to stand up and obey the beckoning of his mother’s voice, but he wants to stay with Evan, to keep playing. He freezes in place.

“Atticus! I said it’s time to go!” His mother, less patient this time.

Evan’s eyes well up, become sad, desperate even. “Please don’t go. Please stay. You barely just got here. You’ve barely been here at all. I want to play with you longer than this. This isn’t enough time.” His hand shoots out, closes around Atticus’s forearm. Atticus can feel Evan’s grip tremble.

“Atticus! I said let’s go!” Angry, now.

“Atticus, please stay. Without you, I can’t… I won’t… I don’t know what I’ll do…”

The basement’s growing dark. Atticus feels it recede from him, as if he’s pulling away, out of his small, weak, immature little body. Everything grows dim, muffled. He can still feel the hand closed around his arm, can still hear Evan’s voice, breaking, shaking, getting quieter, weaker, fading.

“Please, Atticus… please stay…. I can’t lose you again….”

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

I felt like I’d been run over by the proverbial Mack truck. Actually, no, scratch that cliche. I felt like a convoy of Mack trucks had run me over, then some surly trucker scraped me up off the asphalt and moved me over to the tracks for a series of freight trains to have their turn with me.

The noise I made wasn’t a word. To call it a groan is to shortchange it. It was sepulchral. Air passing over vocal cords dry as Death Valley.

“Atticus?!”

I gathered my strength and groaned again, which was as close as I could get to ‘yeah.’

“Oh my god, you’re awake!” That weird hybrid laugh-cry people make when they’re overwhelmed with relief. My eyes hurt to open, actively resisted focusing, but I forced the issue.

Evan’s face, his eyes red, his nose snotty, dark circles under his eyes.

“Hi,” I managed.

“Hi,” Evan replied, like we were meeting for lunch, then he started shaking, his massive broad shoulders trembling like Mount St Helens moments before explosion. His face crumpled, and he gathered my hands up gently in his. “Hi,” he said again, his voice smaller, quivering, devolving into a whimpering cry. “Hi.”

Memory started to come back in bits and pieces. I’d… oh fuck, what had I done? I’d tried to… oh god, I’d actually tried to… Evan’s hands closed over mine, gently holding me, and he lowered his head, his face pressed against the hospital bed. He was sobbing, I realized. The little high-pitched sounds he made. I tried to reach out and stroke his hair but every single part of me hurt. I felt too heavy to move.

“Sorry,” I croaked, instead. The weight of everything rushed in to crush me, as I remembered more and more. That fucked-up conversion camp in the woods, breaking me down, making me feel the only choice I had was to try my best to be normal. Then a year spent trying to be straight, trying to be the son my parents wanted me to be. Talking to Tom John in the supermarket, learning he was gay, coming to my senses. Or no, not really—having the toxic programming from the conversion therapy undone but replaced by some barely contained delirium. A manic episode of sorts. Feeling like I had one chance, one extended moment, when I might rescue the old self I had tried to delete.

Driving to the city to try and find Evan, as if finding Evan was the only thing to do, as if everything would magically be okay if I just found him. Foolishly thinking I could just pick up where we left off a year ago, like nothing had happened. Seeing him and Leo kiss on the corner outside the gym, kiss like boyfriends. Driving away like a zombie, renting a room in a cheap dirty motel out by the highway. Feeling like my life was over. Injecting myself with eight syringes of Mutant Juice, expecting myself to just grow until I burst. A messy and fitting end to a freak and a fuck up like myself, someone who squandered every opportunity and let everyone down, over and over. But what came next…

I did not simply swell up and burst, as I imagined I would. Instead, the brain-breaking hunger, like the first time with Mutant Juice but so much worse, and with nothing to feed myself. A pitiful couple of Cliff bars in my backpack which didn’t last three seconds, and then completely insane things, toothpaste, socks, bedsheets, anything as the hunger grew and grew, and as I became weaker and weaker. Feeling my body beginning to shut down. Hearing the door burst open, the panicking voices, seeing Evan’s anguished face as my consciousness faded.

Now, waking up in the hospital bed, Evan weeping before me. I had lived. I felt my breathing get faster, felt my lips tremble, my eyes fill. I had lived, I had lived. Somehow.

“Sorry,” I repeated again, my voice getting a little stronger each time I used it. “I… I should have…”

I didn’t finish the sentence. I should have just jumped in the river. Overdosed on painkillers like a normal person. Driven to Alaska and walked into bear country with raw steaks in my pocket. Anything but this. I’d somehow found a way to make a suicide attempt maximally painful to the people I’d already hurt. “I’m… so sorry,” I said, my words faltering as I started crying, myself.

Evan looked up at me, his face a snotty mess. “Atticus…,” he whimpered, voice thick, gathering my head into his massive chest, running his strong hands over my hair. He was so much bigger now than he was a year ago, I felt like my head was being gently crushed by velvety boulders as he embraced me. “Shh. Don’t apologize. We can talk about it later when you’re a little stronger. But you’re here. We didn’t lose you. I love you. I love you so much, Atticus. Nothing will ever change that, okay? Nothing.”

We stayed like that, holding each other, crying, like two survivors of a shipwreck, for some time. I felt myself fading, getting weaker, consciousness slipping away. “Sleep,” Evan said, gently pulling away. “I’ll still be here when you wake up.”

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Hakan, one of the chief medical guys from Mutant Juice, was giving us a debrief. Apparently, he’d flown down from Canada within an hour of me being admitted to the ER. Evan texted Mateo from the ambulance and Mateo leaped into action and dispatched the only person with a hope of saving me.

The doctors here were smart enough to realize Hakan knew the science of what was happening to my body better than anyone else did, and they listened to him, and that’s what saved my life. Mateo’s organizational ability, Hakan’s speed, and the doctors’ humility.

Emily frowned, her hand like a vice on my shoulder, like she intended to never let me go again. “I thought the whole hypertrophic metabolic crisis thing only happened once? I thought Atticus already experienced that once and didn’t have to worry about it repeating again? One and done.”

“Everyone thought that. But no super-responder has ever been off Mutant Juice for as long as Atticus was. His receptors re-sensitized, is the short answer. And then he took eight fucking doses at once, pardon my French, which no one has ever done before, because we only supply people with one kit at a time. That should have killed him. It almost did. I never pegged your chances as better than 25%, Atticus. But thanks to this, now we know: any super-responder who stays off for a year or more will face another feeding frenzy and episode of massive rapid muscle growth if they ever resume taking Mutant Juice.”

“Well. That’s…”

“Concerning? Yes. Any super-responder who quits taking our product because they don’t want to become any larger must ensure they stay away from it for the rest of their lives. But the important thing for right now is, Atticus survived. We didn’t lose you. You’ve sustained some organ damage, Atticus, but I’m hopeful a lot of it will resolve over the next year, with proper care and smart lifestyle choices. It’s amazing how resilient the body can be if you remove the source of stress and give it a chance to heal. Not another drop of the Juice for you, of course—probably never again. I haven’t spoken to Rob or the others, but I’m almost certain we’ll blacklist you after this episode. In fact I might try to force the issue if anyone is of a different opinion. But yes. Your recovery. We’ll want to do checkups with you at one, three, six, and twelve months.”

I nodded, the gravity of my situation not lost on me, at all. Emily, Evan, and Imani encircled me like three protective spirits. I looked at Hakan, a handsome well-built Middle Eastern man with a serious face but a kind smile. One of the team that created Mutant Juice to begin with. A vague memory of hearing his name a couple of times, the sense that he might be the most cautious member of the team, him and Rob. He looked back at me, meeting my eyes, but saying nothing, no expectation. He didn’t need me to say anything, and I didn’t need him to say anything.

“Well, do you feel up to standing yet, Atticus? It took a team of nurses to move you or roll you before you woke up, but Evan should be more than capable of handling your weight on his own if you stumble.”

I nodded, awkwardly shifting in bed to get my legs over the edge.

God damn.

I was… huge wasn’t the word. Evan was huge. I was… grotesquely overgrown. Muscle-bloated. Raw red stretch marks on every part where my skin had barely held its ground against the blitzkrieg of chemically-induced muscle growth.

There were no hospital gowns for someone my size. Everyone could see my dick. I was beyond caring.

I ached like the day after a really good workout, but much, much worse. Every muscle. Even the little ones in my jaw and at the base of my skull. I awkwardly maneuvered my impractically muscled thighs around, over the edge of the bed, and sat for a second, getting my bearings.

I was sitting weirdly high, my enormous glutes like two mega-thick cushions, my thighs pushed ridiculously apart by the sheer mass of my adductors, my thick flaccid donkey dong and my two plump balls presented on top of my adductors, as if on two display pillows, for the room to see, no space for them to fall between my legs.

No matter. It was time to get to my feet. Evan stood by to bear my weight, and I almost hauled him down into the bed as I pulled myself up. I could feel my muscles flexing and quivering, huge globs of flesh almost falling off the bone when relaxed, snapping into gigantic gravity-defying orbs of adamantine every time I twitched or moved.

Hakan hauled over a medical scale as I got to my feet. “This thing tops out at 500 pounds, and by my educated eye you might exceed it, but you might not. I’m going to stress that the growth from your massive overdose hasn’t finished yet, although most of it has. No one has ever taken eight doses at once, let alone the most sensitive over-responder on record, so I can’t tell you for sure how much more you’ll gain. At least 10, maybe 20 pounds, maybe even 30, but again, I’m guessing. Everything you’ve done in the last week and will do in the future is uncharted territory for all of us, Atticus.”

I nodded, as if we were discussing interest rates on a bank loan, and not my muscle-tortured body and how much more raw beef would be crammed onto my already overcrowded frame. Evan helped me onto the scale’s doublewide platform and stepped back while Hakan slid the counterweights around. He slid everything to the far right, the heaviest the scale went. He shook his head a little. “Well, you’ve pegged the scale. However heavy you are, it’s over 500 pounds.”

I stood there, naked on the scale, a mutated freak of muscle, my arms unable to be lowered, my stance weirdly wide, my feet unable to shuffle any closer to each other. My chin nestled between my pecs as I looked down, unable to see anything below those twin planets of muscle projecting from my ribcage.

The room was silent. Everyone was giving me a second to absorb it, I guess. To come to terms with the utter freak I had mutated into.

Over 500 pounds. God damnit. Despite everything, my dick started twitching, started helplessly filling with blood, as I contemplated my shocking new size.

“Can Atticus and I have a moment?” Evan asked, breaking the tableau.

“Of course.”

Emily placed her hand on my arm and kissed my head as she went. Imani grinned happily at me and made a little wave, a literal ray of sunshine. Hakan simply nodded at me and left.

“So…”

“So…”

“Over 500 pounds, huh?” I said, like I was commenting on the rain. “Better than dead, I guess.” I laughed shakily, like it was a funny joke. Evan didn’t laugh.

Instead, a flash of grief raced over his face, like a high cloud on a windy day. “I was so scared, Atticus,” he whispered, clutching my shoulders. “I was so scared.” He threw his arms around me—or attempted to, there was no way he’d ever get close to reaching—and held me for a second.

Then he released me and pulled back just slightly, our two hyper-muscled bodies still so close I could feel the heat radiate off him, could smell his subtle musk. “Are you… are you ok with this?” He gestured vaguely at my stretch-mark riddled freakshow body.

“I wish it hadn’t cost me so much in pain, and in fear for the people I love, but, well, I mean, taken out of context… god damn. I’m a freak. I passed out in a motel room at 230 pounds and I woke up a week later with my weight more than doubled. It’s hot.”

Evan laughed. “I’m so glad to hear you say that. I feel less guilty about the perpetual raging hard-on I’ve had since I knew you weren’t going to fucking die.” My own dick pulsed and bobbed as it continued inflating with blood, wordlessly agreeing with Evan.

We stood there, both aroused, but knowing this was not a place to do anything about it.

Another cloud passed over Evan’s face. “Why, Atticus?”

I sighed, awkwardly waddled back to the bed—I was nowhere near close to being used to walking with these bloated blobs of muscle I called legs—and slumped my weight onto it, feeling it almost give way. More than 500 pounds, huh? The world simply wasn’t built for a body like mine.

“I dunno. Hearst had me in those woods for six weeks without any other voices in my head. No phone, no letters, no nothing. We did like… physical challenges. I guess it was like boot camp, maybe.… I always knew I was fragile. Spineless. I’m a coward. He knew just how to play on my fears and insecurities. Looking back at my memories, I feel like I was a zombie between about the midpoint of my time in that godforsaken retreat and… well… and now. I was going to say when I came to my senses in the supermarket, but I was still a zombie then, was still a zombie when I was in that motel room, and….”

Evan shook his head. “No, no, no, not all that stuff, I understand all that, but why…” his face started to crumple again, and his voice caught. “Why’d you try to… we were all waiting for you, baby, we were hoping and praying you’d come back to us, we missed you so much, why’d you… why’d you….” he was breathing too hard to finish, an agony of confusion on his face.

I felt so ashamed of myself, but I made myself continue. “Imani probably told you I went to her and Emily’s place first, since I didn’t know where you were living, but Imani was the only one home. I found out from her you were working as a trainer at the gym, so I went there. I was scared of what I’d find, I was worried you’d forgotten about me. I saw you and Leo come out holding hands, and you stopped and kissed each other, and it was so clear you loved each other, and I just thought… it’s too late. He’s moved on with his life, just like I told him to. And I couldn’t live with the idea that I’d fucked up that badly. That I ruined the only good thing that ever happened to me. I… I know it’s stupid, I shouldn’t have done it, but… I’m sorry… I… I couldn’t go back into the closet, but the only way I knew how to be my authentic self was with you, and I thought I’d lost you, so I… I…”

Evan stood before me, took my hands in his. “Atticus. Leo is a good friend. It’s been hell without you this past year, and he’s helped me so much. Given me strength and comfort and guidance. He helped me not fall apart. And yeah, we fuck. And we kiss. Because we love each other. The way close friends love each other. But he’s not my boyfriend. Turns out this is just something a lot of gay men do, the line between friend and lover… often it’s an optional one.

“But Leo is ten years older than us and he doesn’t want a serious relationship with anyone. He likes his privacy and his space too much to share his life with any one man, I’m definitely not the only fuck buddy he’s got. You should know he’s been worried sick about you since we found you, and he’s overjoyed you’re going to be okay, and he can’t wait to see you again, and he wants us to come over to his place for dinner next weekend, but Atticus? If you need to not see him for a while, we won’t go. And if you need us to be exclusive for a while, that’s okay too. I thought I’d lost you forever to that fucking ex-gay bullshit. Every night for a year, I cried myself to sleep, hugging my pillow, wishing it was you, thinking of the life I thought we’d have together. Your absence was a wound that hadn’t even started to heal.

“Then I got the text from Imani that you’d come back and were on your way to the gym to try and find me, and for five minutes I was so excited I felt like I could fly. That must have been just a few minutes after you saw me and Leo kiss. But you didn’t show up, and you weren’t answering anyone’s texts, and we just got this awful feeling. Imani said you were acting very strangely when you bumped into her. She said you were ‘off.’ So we managed to get your location from your phone, then Leo and I found you, and you were…” Evan stopped, losing his voice, squeezing his eyes shut, breathing fast and hard. He collected himself then resumed. His voice was quiet, flat.

“That first night, they told us you probably weren’t going to make it. I’ve never felt like that before, not when my dad died, not ever. I can’t describe it to you. I felt like nothing mattered. We were all a mess. Emily left her conference to get the next plane home that she could, and all she cared about was getting here in time, before you… Well.

“So it was me and Leo and Imani here that first night. We couldn’t even see you, they were working so hard to save you, all we could do was wait. Leo left at one point to get Emily from the airport. Imani popped out a few times to get food for us. I couldn’t… I felt like if I left, you’d die. Somehow me staying here was what kept you alive. It’s stupid what you think at times like that, right?

“But Hakan arrived stupid early the next morning, and he told them what to do to save you, and they listened, and you started to get better, stable enough for a more normal hospital room. Then it became a question of if you’d wake up. Not when. If. I stayed in this room by this bed from the minute they let me in in the morning to the minute they kicked me out in the night, and I just prayed for the chance to tell you that I love you and for you to hear me. I love you Atticus, more than I thought it was possible to love someone. I love you, and if I lost you again, I…” he choked. Abandoned whatever he was going to say. “I love you so fucking much,” he said instead.

How do you respond to that? A simple “I love you too” feels so trite, so dismissive. But what else could I say? I’m sorry I tried to kill myself, that was a mistake? Kind of ruins the moment. But I had to try to find some way to put it into words better than those.

I gestured for him to come in closer, and I put my arms around him, felt our massive bodies struggle for space as we hugged. I mumbled into his shoulder as we embraced. “I love you too, Evan. More than I have words for. I’m sorry I did that. My head’s been messed up ever since they sent me to that conversion therapy retreat. Oh, who am I fooling. My head’s been messed up for as long as I can remember. I want to promise you I won’t ever do something so stupid as that again, but I know I can’t make that promise, because I only ever know something’s stupid after I do it. But I can promise you I won’t ever forget that you love me. I won’t ever doubt it again. I promise.”

Evan looked at me, his face inches from mine, head framed by his thick traps and neck, like a precious jewel on a series of overstuffed cushions. “So… are we boyfriends again?”

I laughed. “Yeah. We’re boyfriends again.” Of course we kissed. Not a kiss of erotic frenzy, a sweet, slow, gentle kiss, lips slightly parting, exulting in each other’s presence. I felt as if my body was melting into his, as if our souls were twisting around each other like two birds in flight.

We were always meant to be together.

Eventually, we stopped kissing long enough to talk again. “So… what are we going to do? Like... in life,” I asked.

“Well, get you out of this hospital as soon as we can. They say maybe the day after tomorrow. Take a few days to decide if you want to have dinner at Leo’s next weekend. And then?” Evan exhaled slowly. “Then we have the rest of our lives together, don’t we? We get to decide what comes next. Find some way to make money, get a place together, and… well… so many things have tried to take this life away from us, Atticus. Let’s make sure we do our best to enjoy it, now that we finally have it.”

 

 

Epilogue: One Year Later

I groaned and leaned back on the California king mattress. Glancing down, the twin mountains of my pecs took up the lower third of my visual field. I never got tired of looking down and seeing pec meat, but at the moment, my monstrous bulging chest took silver medal, because the sexual tableau playing out just beyond it was fucking hot..

Javi and Kay, slobbering on my dick from either side, my shaft so long and so thick there was plenty of room for both their mouths.

Beyond them and to my left, Evan on his hands and knees on the mattress, his face screwed up, panting and moaning in intense pleasure as Leo pounded his ass with practiced ease.

Okay, you don’t know Javi and Kay. Well, it’s been a year. And we’ve been making friends. They’re also nerdy gay bodybuilders. Turns out, it’s not as rare a combination as I used to think. They’re dating each other but, well… you can’t hold a good slut down—not unless he asks you to. Ba dum tish. Evan suggested we invite them on his birthday weekend getaway, and I’m very glad he did, as they work over my footlong cock, leaving me a trembling, panting mess.

Javi’s probably like 260 pounds, Kay’s lighter but he’s quite short so I’d say he’s actually a little bigger than his boyfriend. They’re both on Mutant Juice, so we’re going to have a lot of fun watching them continue to grow over the next few years. Crossing our fingers it stays legal, but even if it doesn’t… we queers will always find a way, won’t we? Be gay do crime isn’t an idle threat.

Javi and Kay have been getting me and Evan into TTRPGs, and I’m really enjoying that a lot. Of course I never had any experience with them before, are you at all shocked to learn Dungeons and Dragons was not allowed in my house, growing up? Anyway, Kay’s DMing a one shot for us later, after this, uh, recreational period.

I guess you want an update on the guys you do know, though, instead of hearing me waste time on these new characters who aren’t relevant to the story except as proof that this is a pretty fuckin’ sweet happily ever after (which it is).

Leo and Evan. Man, watching Leo as he just relentlessly pounds Evan’s ass. Both of them, basically maxed out, muscle-wise, about as big as non-Leviathans can get, 450, 460, they’re both a little on the taller side. Apparently they’ll continue to add a couple of pounds every year they stay on the Juice, but the days of constant exhilarating growth are done for both of them.

But even though they’re both basically the same size (fucking huge), they’re such an endlessly enjoyable study in contrasts. I could happily watch them fuck and suck all day. Evan still has a somewhat milky, porcelain quality to his skin, his muscles have a fullness and a roundness to them whereas Leo is dark, tan, striated, scarily defined, a lurking sense of menace in his physicality. Leo fucks like a machine, like the Terminator, and Evan takes it like a beast of burden, like a Belgian Blue.

I cautiously agreed to do the dinner at Leo’s place the weekend after I got out of hospital, and I’m so glad I did. I promised Evan I’d never doubt his love for me again, but I worried about my ability to keep that promise as we waited for Leo to answer the door, that first evening. Feelings happen whether we want them to or not, after all. I need not have worried, though. Leo lavished attention and affection on me, made it clear he had zero expectations of anything sexual happening, made me feel so certain that he knew Evan and I had a special bond, and he not only respected that, but he loved to see it, he celebrated it, he took me and Evan being together again as a win for the universe.

And. Well. Remember what I said about not being able to hold a good slut down? Let’s just say I was picking my underwear off Leo’s living room floor at 10 a.m. the next morning.

Evan’s still running his OnlyFans. I mean, we need the money. Cities aren’t cheap. But he enjoys it. I’ve decided to keep myself off it, though. It just feels weird when I consider guest-starring. I probably have some unprocessed trauma over my one appearance on it leading to the worst year of my life, but, well. Maybe I’ll do it after some therapy, but maybe not, it’s not like you need to be posting pole and hole on the internet to be a fulfilled and self-actualized person.

So did my family sic the police on Evan after? Short answer, no. Anderson, Mutant Juice’s head lawyer, sent a scare-o-gram and it evidently worked. I… haven’t spoken to Mom and Dad at all. I know I need to at some point. Maybe now that they’ve had a year to think about things, we might be able to start healing as a family. Who knows? I’m trying to be an optimist. Emily and I have held strategy sessions about it, but the ball’s in their court.

Emily’s getting married, by the way. I’m the Best Man. I need to start thinking about my speech. It’s next month, so, there’s time, but not a lot of time. Imani’s been accepted to law school for the fall. Emily’s just finished her Masters and she’s starting her therapy practice. Talk about a power couple. But Emily’s always telling me not to compare me and Evan to her and Imani. She says she’s proud of both of us, because we’re creating lives that are meaningful to us and create happiness for ourselves and each other. Evan’s a personal trainer and an OnlyFans pornstar, and I’m… well. I guess I’m a writer? Sounds so fucking pompous to say, like, only assholes brag about that. But, well, it’s actually been working out pretty well. I guess I have stories to tell that people want to hear.

But anyway: orgy.

Javi and Kay are making out with each other around my giant dick right now. God, I love men. Who could ever think something like this is anything but beautiful? They’re so sweet, with their eyes closed, their delicate little eyelashes, their earnest mouths, tongues darting, lips massaging my achingly hard cock. I buck my hips into the air and tremble as I feel their mouths as a kind of living fleshlight, dragging up and down my dick.

Some stray part of my brain adds it up and informs me that, between the five of us, there’s about 2000 pounds of muscle stress-testing this California king. I feel my dick release a spurt of pre in enthusiastic reception of this information; Javi moans in pleasure as the salty tang of it hits his tastebuds.

Leo looks at me, his dark eyes, his lowered brows, one sweaty curly lock of hair falling over his forehead. I can see him calculating, behind those smouldering eyes. He wants to rearrange the positions. He slaps Evan’s flank like he’s cattle and Leo wants him to step forward. Leo pulls back, puts his feet on the ground. Standing there in his full glory, muscles so huge they almost overwhelm his frame, unable to lower his arms, stance weirdly wide to make room for all the meat, handsome face framed by swooping arcs of trap-meat. His hard cock bobbing in the air. Such a perfect cock—not showy and huge, not small, but perfectly shaped and sized. Just right. Goldicock.

“Your boyfriend’s Burj Khalifa needs riding, Rossi, the boys have slicked it up real good for you” Leo growls at Evan. Evan nods eagerly and begins crawling up the mattress toward me, even as Leo works his way between Javi and Kay, repositioning them on the huge mattress. In just a few elegant, expert moves, he’s fucking Kay’s ass while sucking Javi’s dick. What an architect.

Evan gives my big cock a few hearty tugs. “Happy Birthday,” I say, winking.

“Fuck, Atticus, you’re… I know it’s been a year, but I’ll never get used to just how fucking monstrous you are,” Evan says, whimpering, his pupils maximally dilated as he takes in the sheer topography of my unnaturally swollen body.

I mean, he’s right. The day I was discharged from hospital, they found a scale to fit me. 511 pounds. But just as Hakan said, I kept growing for another week or so as the last of the Mutant Juice overdose left my body. I tend to hover around 530 pounds nowadays.

Which is… bananas huge. Right at the cusp of mobility, I find. I can still do things—like hike across a boulder field, which we all did as a group earlier today, here at this state park in Pennsylvania near the cabin we’re renting—but there’s plenty of places I simply don’t fit, and I struggle to do a number of daily tasks. Like, I can’t tie my own shoes. But I’m not immobile, I can still live my life.

It’s kind of a best of both worlds scenario—I get to be bigger than the biggest Juiced guys without being locked into an endless addictive growth cycle like the Leviathans. I’m my own unique mini-category. I kind of like it. Unless you catch the ultra-rare sight of a Leviathan during the brief couple of months when he’s bigger than a maxed out Juiced guy but still small enough to go out in public, I’m the largest, most muscular human being you’re ever going to run into at the mall.

So, obviously I can’t take any more Mutant Juice. Well, I’m only turning 22 in August, maybe in ten or fifteen years I’ll get bored of being a waddling semi-mobile freak and want to go whole hog, but maybe I won’t. The option’s always there, but I’m in no hurry. I’m still hopelessly turned on by growth, so I’ve taken to pumping my dick instead. Yeah, I can hear you making fun of me now. Oh poor Atticus, you’re the most muscular non-immobile man in the world, and an 11 inch dick wasn’t good enough for you? Well, it’s just a hair over 12 inches now, so… I guess 11 really wasn’t enough for me. Oops? Sorry, not sorry. Let’s see if I can get this motherfucker to 13.

Look, Evan’s got such a massive ass on him, I need an extra-long dick just to give him the good, hard, deep fucking he deserves, okay? Really, I’m being selfless here. It’s not about my weird, perverted needs at all. Promise.

Okay, okay, that’s obviously a lie. if it starts to get too big for Evan to take it, I’ll back off. Really, I actually mean it. I let a Jesus freak in the woods convince me to give up Evan’s ass once before—sounds crazy, I know, but it happened. Nothing is ever gonna make me give it up a second time.

God damn, though. Have I sufficiently gushed about the ass on my man? No, I have not. Twin planets. Gravity defying. Meat shelves. Serve a three course meal off it. Just… fuck. Evan and I must have fucked, what, a hundred times in the last year? Two hundred? But I will never, ever, ever get tired of looking at his butt, touching his butt, or feeling—fuck!—feeling his hole… grip my dick… suck it in… fffffuuuccck… pulsing around… every inch… god fucking DAMNIT, how does it feel this incredible, every single time??? I’ve topped a dozen guys in the last year, and it ranges from okay to really good, but no one else is like this. It’s like our bodies were made to fit together.

I feel my pubes compress against Evan’s glutes as he finishes lowering himself onto me. He just rests there a second, his ass pulsing around my cock, my cock throbbing in his ass. I swear we sync up. We hold eye contact. I feel like a completed circuit, like all of me is flowing into him and all of him is flowing into me.

“You’re so fucking beautiful, Atticus,” he breathes, his face full of wonder. I can’t deny it, or ignore it. To Evan, I’m wonderful, it’s written all over his face. If you ever find someone who looks at you with that expression… nothing else in the world makes you feel quite that way.

I whimper, unable to put words together, but I know Evan knows exactly what’s in my heart. He can read it easy as words on a page, every time he looks into my eyes. To me, Evan is wonderful, and he knows it, too.

My beautiful man.

We did it. We won. We’re free. Achievement unlocked: liberation. My hips start bucking involuntarily as I feel my balls pull up, readying to shoot their load into the man I love, the man I was never supposed to know, the man I almost lost, the man I’ll have for the rest of our days. We saved each other, Evan and me.

“Fuck… Evan… I love you… so fucking much! Fuck!” I can feel myself emptying my soul into Evan, every hyper-engorged muscle in my body flexing as hard as it can, my skin straining, only barely able to hold me in. Evan’s panting, breathing hard, staring at me, his eyes full of stars.

I vaguely clock the grunts and cries of orgasm from the trio behind Evan. Kay slumping, spent, fucked into oblivion already, Javi clutching Leo’s traps and throwing his head back in a silent howl as he cums into Leo’s hungry mouth, Leo’s eyes burning with erotic fire, commanding Javi to give him every drop. Finally, Leo pulls back, Javi’s dick popping out of his mouth, and looks at us, all 530 pounds of me flexing and straining and trembling as I cum and cum and cum into Evan, Evan glowing with pleasure and satisfaction like the noonday sun, his own cock, untouched, bucking and pulsing as he shoots his load onto my giant pecs, snow on the mountains.

“Happy Birthday, you two,” Leo grins, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. “Here’s to many, many, many more.”

My Best Friend’s Muscles, #2 18 parts 86k words (#31) Added Feb 2023 Updated 24 Jun 2023 52k views (#109) 4.9 stars (141 votes)

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