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When Steve got Andrew home, Andrew said, �Thanks man, you�ve been great. You saved my life, getting me to the hospital today.� �What do you mean?� asked Steve, confused. �You weren�t in any physical danger, were you?� �Actually, Dr. Johnson said that I would have had a heart attack soon, if he had not given me the medication to slow my racing heart beat. And since you are the one who got me to the hospital, you saved my life today. So thanks man.� �Anything to help the Tank,� Steve grinned, covering his shock at what Andrew had just told him. �Glad I could help.� �Why do you keep calling me the Tank?� Andrew asked. �It�s just a nickname,� Steve replied. �You�ve grown too big and strong to be just plain Andrew anymore. So I use that nickname instead. I hope you don�t mind.� �Actually, I just told Carrie that name, as a joke,� Andrew stated. �She must have let it slip and then it caught on,� Steve realized. �Let�s just get it uncaught, shall we?� Andrew asked. �Or what?� asked Steve, grinning. �You�ll hit me?� �You don�t want to test your strength against me,� Andrew warned him. Oh no! he thought. Did Dr. Johnson tell him about his awesome strength while I cleaned up the chains? Is that why he is challenging me? �Why not?� asked Steve. �I can take you.� �So you can bench-press a car now?� asked Andrew sarcastically. He decided to see if Steve would slip up and reveal how strong he really was now. �If you think you can do it, try it right now.� �You must be joking!� Steve yelled in amazement. �Only the Muscle Freak can bench-press a car! I�m just an ordinary football player!� Smart, Andrew realized. He�s not taking the bait. I�ll have to force him into it somehow. �Don�t call me the Muscle Freak,� Andrew warned Steve. �Leave out the other 3 names you used earlier as well. Can�t anyone just call me Andrew anymore?� �I'm sorry man!� Steve apologized. �I�m just too scared from earlier, especially after you told me how you almost had a heart attack! I don�t want to even think about losing my best friend! Also, singing your praises keeps my jealousy at bay.� He�s really trying to convince me he does not know his true strength, Andrew thought to himself. Is it possible he doesn�t? Or is he just trying to get me to think that? �I don�t want you to be jealous of me,� Andrew stated. �Maybe Commander Marge can enhance you like she did me, so that you can match my strength. Maybe this time, they can do it without any emotional side effects.� Steve hesitated for just a few seconds. Does he know? Did Dr. Johnson break Medical Confidentiality and tell him? �You�re so far beyond me, it�s hard not to get jealous,� he stated, hoping Andrew did not notice his brief pause. �I do my best, but I can�t match your power.� �As today proved, look at what my power almost cost me,� Andrew reminded Steve. �It almost cost me my life, and my emotional well-being. Remember, it�s not a contest man.� �That�s easy to say when you�re on top!� Steve snapped. �You�re so far ahead of everyone else!� �Even you?� asked Andrew. �Are you absolutely sure about that? When is the last time you tested your strength against me?� �What would be the point?� Steve yelled in exasperation. �You�re Andrew, the Town Football Champ, the future University of Miami Football Star! How can any mere mortal match you?� �I just want to be one of the guys,� Andrew pleaded. �Not the Football Star or the Town Hero.� �You are the Town Hero!� Steve reminded him. �That�s what winning the City High School Football Trophy means!� �I did not win it all by myself!� Andrew yelled. �The whole team worked together to make it happen! You were there; did you not see that for yourself?� �Who needs a team with the Genetic Experiment around?� Steve yelled in fury. �You don�t need anyone! You can take on anyone all by yourself, or maybe even five people!� �What did I do to earn such jealousy from you?� Andrew asked in amazement. �Have I been a bully; using my strength to dominate others? Have I basked in the media frenzy that seems to follow me everywhere I go? I just need to get away from it all.� �You can�t just hide and hope the attention fades!� Steve reminded him. �Face it, you�re the Town Hero, and the media attention is here to stay.� �I don�t want the attention!� Andrew screamed in frustration. �I just want to be left alone! Is that too much to ask?� �If you�d been left alone today, you might have died,� Steve stated, getting out of the car. �But it looks like you won�t be happy until we settle this once and for all. So come on, big man! If you think you can take me on, take your best shot!� �I don�t want to fight you man,� Andrew said, getting out of his side of the car. He noticed the crowd gathering around them, and added, �I don�t think you want that either.� He thought for a moment and then realized the perfect bait to reveal Steve�s strength. �Besides, you�d have to move the car to get me, since I�m not coming over to your side.� �I can�t move the car!� Steve snapped in frustration. �How many times do I have to say it?� �Don�t just say it; prove it,� Andrew decided. �I want you to show me right now.� He bent down and lifted the right side of the car with both hands. Once he had it stabilized, he let his left hand fall to his side, and kept tilting the car towards Steve with his right hand. �See, I can lift it with one hand now,� Andrew gloated, breathing heavily. �So you should be able to tilt it back towards me with two hands.� Steve had no choice but to hold his arms out, to keep the car from rolling over onto him. When he saw Andrew grinning, he realized he had been tricked into revealing his true strength. So he decided to push the car back to horizontal, to see if he could shock Andrew with his true strength. Andrew still used just the one arm, and that�s why Steve overpowered him. Andrew�s arm was bent backwards, and the car slowly settled down onto its wheels again, despite Andrew�s resistance. �See I told you!� Andrew grinned. �You can lift the car after all!� �You tricked me!� Steve shouted in fury. �Why I�ll�� �Wave to the cameras?� Andrew asked, pointing to the crowd that had gathered behind Steve. Steve looked around wildly and then took off running down the street. The crowd ran after him, trying to take his picture. Andrew grinned hugely, relieved that the cameras were focused on someone else for a change. �Excuse me sir,� he heard someone say from behind him. �The name�s Andrew,� Andrew corrected the speaker, turning around to look behind him. �Oh, I remember now; you�re Andrew Pearson,� stated the guy who was standing behind Andrew. �I�m Mike Stevenson. We met this afternoon, when you lifted the tree off the road.� �Ah, I remember you now,� Andrew realized. �Is your hand okay? I didn�t mean to shake it so hard; crowds just make me nervous so I overcompensate with the Jock Act. What can I do for you now?� �I was hoping you could help me work out,� Mike replied. �Well, I�m no personal trainer, but I do know a thing or two about weight training,� Andrew answered modestly. �I would be happy to help you out.� �Look at your physique!� Mike exclaimed in amazement, staring at Andrew�s sculpted muscles. Andrew looked down and realized he did not have his t-shirt on. �Pretty impressive aren�t they?� he bragged, flexing his biceps and grinning. �Come on; try to dent my right one!� Mike reached out tentatively and then hesitated. �Come on man,� Andrew urged him gently. �I don�t bite. It�s okay, you can touch it.� When Mike still hesitated, Andrew stepped a bit closer. �Let�s try this then,� he added, holding out his right hand. Mike shook it and Andrew held on gently. �What a soft handshake!� Mike marveled. �Especially for such a big guy!� �I�m trying not to crush other people�s hands when I shake them,� Andrew informed him. �Good job,� Mike approved. �I think you have control of your strength now.� �Thanks man,� Andrew acknowledged, patting Mike on the shoulder. �Man, you�re as thin as a rail! I could show you how to eat more, it you�d do something for me.� �What�s that?� asked Mike, amazed that Andrew would need his help. Andrew didn�t know it, but he was a hero for all the brainy kids at his school because of his 90s in science. �What can I do for you, Andrew?� �I only have 80 in Physics and I need to get my mark up,� Andrew answered. �I don�t want to lose my scholarship because of one bad mark, so I�m hoping you could tutor me a few times.� �Sure I can help,� Mike agreed. �In return, you can help me work out. Are there any other football players who need tutoring?� �What makes you think the football players need tutoring?� Andrew asked. �You don�t think we�re all dumb jocks do you?� �No man, I didn�t mean it like that!� Mike assured him, taking one large step back as Andrew took one small step towards him. �I only thought it would be a good way to meet the rest of the team. I always saw you guys working out in the gym, and I wanted to learn how to lift weights. But you know the stereotypes of how football players bully smart kids. I wanted to get one of you alone in case that happened.� �It is a stereotype,� Andrew agreed. �At our school, it is an untrue one. Have any of the football players bullied you?� He put a gentle hand on Mike�s shoulders and added, �You can tell me and I�ll tell them not to if they have.� �No they haven�t,� Mike replied. �But I have not been around any of them much. But I really appreciate what you just said.� �No problem man,� Andrew assured him. �I know what it�s like to be the small kid in school.� �You must be joking!� Mike laughed in disbelief. �You�re the biggest 18 year old I�ve ever seen! How could you have ever been the small kid?� �You should have seen me when I was 10,� Andrew informed him. �I was rather small for my age then. When I started working out, however, I guess my father�s genes kicked in and helped me put on lots of muscle.� �Do you think we could go inside and see those pictures?� Mike asked. �I don�t know about you, but I�m freezing out here!� �I get the strangest feeling I should be too,� Andrew realized. �But I can�t understand why.� �Maybe it�s because you�re not even wearing a shirt!� Mike reminded him. �Oh yeah,� Andrew agreed, looking down at his massively muscled torso. He casually flexed his pecs and then looked at Mike again. Mike�s eyes widened. �Like that kid?� Andrew grinned. He stepped forward and loomed over Mike, dwarfing him by 14 inches and 210 pounds, at least. �Feel those pecs,� he ordered Mike. �Do it now!� Mike reached out slowly, staring way up into Andrew�s face as he did so. �Come on man!� Andrew snapped. �The tank doesn�t have all day! Hurry up!� Mike reached out and rubbed Andrew�s pecs gently, marvelling at how rock hard they were. �You�ll have pecs like this if you work hard enough,� Andrew predicted. �Now feel my bicep.� Mike rubbed Andrew�s bicep gently, trying to fit both hands around it, but he couldn�t. Andrew flexed and then lifted his arm up to eye level, lifting Mike effortlessly off the ground. �Don�t worry man,� Andrew grinned. �With my help, you�ll soon have rock hard arms as well. I�ll make sure you get them, in the 8 months we have left before I go away to school.� �We�ll have more than 8 months,� Mike corrected him, deciding to reveal the other reason he had sought Andrew out. He was still trying to fit his hands around Andrew�s huge bicep. �What do you mean?� Andrew asked, bringing his arm closer so that he and Mike were just inches apart. �Explain yourself Little Man,� he growled menacingly. �Now!� �Yes sir!� Mike gulped without thinking. �I�m, I�m going to Miami as well, on an Academic Scholarship. Just-just like you.� �Well, how about that,� Andrew marveled, holding Mike out at arm�s length. �Two guys from the same Canadian school are going to the same American university. I wonder what the odds are on something like that happening.� �I can tell you,� Mike offered. �They are about one in�� �STOP!� Andrew shouted. �It was just a rhetorical question!� �Pretty big word for a Jock,� Mike blurted out without thinking. Then he saw Andrew frown and realized his mistake. �I�m sorry man; I didn�t mean to say that.� �I�m no ordinary Jock, �Andrew bragged, trying not to take offense. �I�ve got an IQ of 150! So don�t worry about it. Just don�t say anything like that again.� He dragged Mike in front of his face again and snarled, �You got that, punk?� �Yes sir, I�ve got it!� Mike yelled in fear. �Don�t hurt me man! You�re too scary when you�re mad. I guess I should watch what I say from now on. I�m just so nervous being around someone of your size for the first time.� �I�ll try not to have such a quick temper,� Andrew decided. �That would help you be less nervous, wouldn�t it?� �Yes it would,� Mike agreed. �Of course it would also help if you put me down now.� �Oh of course,� Andrew agreed, lowering his arm until Mike�s feet touched the ground. �You�re so light; I forgot you were still hanging onto my arm.� He saw the sad look on Mike�s face, and added, �Sorry about that man. I didn�t mean to say that. You can give me a shot for that if you want.� He pointed at his chin and decided, �We might as well see if you can hurt me by punching me in the face.� �Okay,� agreed Mike reluctantly, balling up his fist. �Get ready.� He slugged Andrew in the face as hard as he could, but then yelled. �Oww! I hurt my own hand!� Andrew grinned and said, �I barely felt that. Are you sure you hit me as hard as you could?� �Yes,� agreed Mike. �I just didn�t want to hurt my own hand. But I did hurt it.� �Is your hand okay?� Andrew asked, taking Mike�s hand and turning it over. �I don�t see any bruises.� �My hand feels fine now,� Mike replied. �I guess I should be more careful from now on.� �I remember what I told Anthony in Miami,� Andrew said. �Punching someone in the face is the best way to hurt your own hand.� �I�ll have to remember that,� Mike agreed. �Can we go inside now?� �Yes, let�s go,� Andrew decided. �It looks like we have a long way to go,� he realized. �It would be great if you got strong enough to actually hurt me with a single punch. Then you�d be one of the guys, able to defend yourself if anyone bullied you.� �Good idea,� Mike realized. �Now, what did you say your IQ was? With that diversion, I forgot how high you said it was.� �It is 150,� Andrew replied, grinning quietly. �Not bad for a Jock, is it?� �No it sure isn�t,� Mike agreed. �That is higher than anyone in the Math, Science or Chess Clubs! It looks like we could learn more from you than Weight Training.� �There are others who want to learn how to weight train as well?� Andrew asked. �Yes,� agreed Mike. �A lot of my friends got Academic Scholarships to the big football schools in the States. If they had something in common with the football players, they would fit in better at those schools.� �That is a very good analysis,� Andrew agreed. �It would apply to you as well, when we both get to Miami. Now, are you ready to come in and meet my father?� �Is he as big as you are?� Mike asked. �Not anymore!� Andrew grinned. �I outweigh the Old Man by over 100 pounds!� he boasted. �But the �Old Man� still puts the roof over your head,� Mr. Pearson reminded him, walking down the front steps. �So you�d better mind your place, Mister!� He grinned to let Andrew know he was kidding. �Come inside now and put a shirt on before you freeze to death. Bring Mike along too.� �Coming dad,� Andrew said. �You can go right up to my room Mike. But don�t touch the weights until I get there!� �Understood,� Mike assured him. �Don�t worry.� Andrew and Mike came inside, and Mike went upstairs. Chad motioned Andrew into the living room. �Sit down son,� he advised Andrew. �I�d like to talk to you for a minute.� �Sure,� Andrew said agreeably. �So, what�s up?� �Are you feeling better now?� Mr. Pearson asked him. �Margaret, Carrie, and Steve told me everything that happened today.� �I still don�t feel like myself,� Andrew realized. �But Doctor Johnson gave me some pills to help calm me down. I guess I�d better take some more.� While he stood up and dug the bottle of pills out of his pockets, Mr. Pearson went to the kitchen to get him a glass of water. Andrew took the pills and drank the water. �Thanks Dad,� Andrew thanked him. �I feel better already.� �So do I,� Chad admitted. �If your anger towards me a couple of weeks ago was anything like your attitudes towards the others today, it�s no wonder they were worried about you.� �I guess so,� Andrew realized. �I will have a lot of apologizing to do when I see them again. But I am not sorry I tricked Steve into a strength test. Did you see how he tilted the car?� �Yes I did,� Mr. Pearson admitted. �I also saw how you tilted it with just one hand. I got it on tape. With your permission, I�ll send it to Mr. Malcolm to show how your strength has improved. Is that okay with you?� �Yes it is,� Andrew agreed. �I guess we should watch the 6 o�clock news tonight, and tape the footage of me shoving the tree off the road. Then we can add that to the tape you send him.� �Good idea,� Mr. Pearson commended Andrew. �Well, you go upstairs and show Mike your weight room. I�ll call you both down when supper�s ready. You should ask if he wants to stay.� �Okay Dad,� Andrew said, towards the stairs. �Is there anything else?� �Yes,� Mr. Pearson answered. �Put a shirt on. Wasn�t it cold outside without one?� �I flexed it apart at Margaret�s cottage,� Andrew remembered, grinning hugely. �I guess I was so excited I barely felt the cold. I also warmed up running all the way to the bridge from her cottage.� �Weren�t you cold at all?� Chad asked in astonishment. �Once I got out of the car,� Andrew admitted. �But Mike looks up to me so much, I had to keep up the Invincible Jock Image for his benefit.� �Good man, �Chad approved. �Feels good, doesn�t it?� �Yeah man,� Andrew laughed. �It�s a rush, being a huge football star! I love it!� �This is just the beginning,� Chad reminded him. �Wait till all the recruiting letters arrive!� �I look forward to it,� Andrew stated, as he headed for the stairs. �Even if I have to remind them I committed myself to Miami.� Andrew headed upstairs and headed down the hall to his room at the end. He went to push open the door, but it felt blocked. So he pushed harder, and heard a crash from inside the room. Andrew finally got the door open, which was no longer blocked, and looked inside. He could not believe his eyes. Mike lay on top of his overturned weight rack, stunned, and holding his head. �Hey man, you okay?� Andrew asked, concerned that Mike was hurt. He extended Mike a hand, and pulled him back up to his feet effortlessly. �I didn�t mean to knock you down when I opened the door. I didn�t know you were standing there.� He put an arm around Mike�s thin shoulders. �Are you bleeding or bruised?� �No, I�m fine,� Mike answered. �It�s like bouncing off a brick wall! I�ll feel that tomorrow.� �Yes that weight rack is pretty hard,� Andrew agreed, picking it up off the floor and standing it up again. �I meant you,� Mike corrected him. �You are as hard as a brick wall!� �Oh yeah!� grinned Andrew, rubbing a hand absently over his rock hard abs. �I forgot. But why don�t you try punching me on purpose again and find out?� �Are you sure?� Mike asked uncertainly, raising his fist. �You won�t mind?� �It�s a good way to see how far you have to go,� Andrew decided. �Go ahead, try to dent these!� He pointed at his 10-pack and roared, �NOW!� Mike punched Andrew in the abs as hard as he could. Andrew tried to unflex his abs, but Mike still yelled: �OWWW!!! I think I broke my hand!� �Let me see,� Andrew ordered him, taking his hand gently and slowly straightening out his fingers. �Nope, just bruised. That�s good; now we can start working out now.� �What�s the point?� Mike asked sadly, holding up his bruised hand, and sitting down with his head on his knees. �Hey, hey!� Andrew exclaimed, squatting down until he was at eye level with Mike. He grabbed Mike�s chin gently and forced his head up. Mike still kept his eyes lowered, so Andrew urged him gently: �Look at me, man!� Mike slowly lifted his eyes to meet Andrew�s reassuring gaze. �That�s better,� Andrew smiled. �Don�t let my size and strength discourage you. You should have seen how bruised my hand was the first time my Dad had me perform that test.� �You bruised your hand too?� mike asked, slowly standing up, with Andrew�s help. �Oh yeah; I couldn�t write with my right hand for a week!� Andrew remembered. �It made me feel much better a few years later when I could actually punch his abs without hurting my own had. But then I had to make sure I didn�t hurt him either!� �That�s true,� Mike agreed. �So, how big do you think I have to get before I have muscular definition that matches yours? Would another 50 pounds do it?� �I think that would be a good starting point to aim for,� Andrew agreed. �Are you ready to start now, Mike?� �Sure I am,� Mike agreed. �Where do we start?� �We�ll start with the barbells,� Andrew decided. He picked up the 20 pounds ones and set them down in front of Mike. �Start with those.� �What if they�re too heavy for me?� Mike asked. �If you want to grow, you have to make your muscles work beyond their limits,� Andrew reminded him. �Then you�ll get stronger and be able to lift more. Just make sure to rest a day or two between workout sessions, since you�re just starting out.� �Okay, I�m ready,� Mike stated, picking up a barbell in each hand. �How do I start? I have never done this before.� �Just watch me,� Andrew ordered him, picking up the 100 pound barbells. They were too light for him, but he did not want to discourage Mike. �I have been lifting for more than 7 years now, so I know what I�m doing.� He started lifting the barbells slowly, keeping his elbows at his sides as he did so. Mike copied Andrew�s movements slowly, making sure his form was right. For the next hour, Andrew showed Mike how to use all the machines he had in his room. When they got to the chin-up bar, Andrew lifted Mike up so he could reach the bar. Mike managed to do 10, before he jumped down. �Good man,� Andrew commended him. �Good workout, wasn�t it?� �Yes it was,� Mike agreed. �So, what now?� �Now, you try some pushup while I see how many chin-ups I can do,� Andrew answered. Mike managed to do 30 pushups in a row, before he had to stop. He looked up to see Andrew passing 60 chin-ups. He stood up and watched in amazement as Andrew passed 100 without even slowing down. Andrew started to slow down when he reached 150, and the sweat started pouring off him. But Andrew just gritted his teeth in fury and kept going, until he had forced himself up to 200. Andrew let go of the bar, and crouched as he landed. He stood up, and rubbed his chest, which was red and heaving. �Oh yeah!� he yelled. �I finally broke 200! Wait till I tell the guys!� �Hey man, you�re even bigger that before!� Mike yelled, pointing at Andrew�s swollen biceps. �Oh yeah,� Andrew realized, flexing his rock-hard left bicep. �Go get the measuring tape on the dresser. �I want to see if I passed 30 inches yet.� Mike picked up the tape and wrapped it around Andrew�s left bicep. �I see 31 inches,� he reported. �Yeah, I finally got past 30!� Andrew yelled in triumph, lifting his arms up high. He was so excited that he didn�t notice he had lifted Mike up high as well. He looked to his left, to see Mike hanging off his bicep, his head almost touching the ceiling. �What are you doing way up there?� Andrew asked, grinning hugely. He lowered his arms and set Mike down again. �Did you like the ride man?� �Yeah, that was fun!� Mike replied. �But it was still a little scary. You�re so strong you didn�t even notice my extra weight?� �I guess not,� Andrew grinned. �But if you want to see something even more amazing: watch this!� He lay down on the carpet and started doing pushups. �Keep a good count man!� he ordered Mike. Mike counted as Andrew got to 50 without stopping. Then Andrew switched to one-handed pushups without even breaking his rhythm. He cranked out another 50, before he stopped. �Climb on,� Andrew ordered Mike. �What?� Mike asked, confused. �Sit on my back,� Andrew ordered him. �Come on man, I need more weight. Don�t worry man; I can take it.� He grinned at Mike to put him at ease and Mike slowly came over. �That�s it,� Andrew reassured him, �Just climb on and hold on.� Mike reluctantly sat on Andrew�s back and stayed there as Andrew slowly cranked out 50 more tow-handed push-ups. Then Andrew shocked him completely, as he started doing one-handed pushups, with Mike still on his back. Andrew moved slowly after that, and only managed to do 40 one-handed pushups. �Come on man, do 10 more!� Mike urged him. �Don�t stop!� Andrew gritted his teeth and forced himself to 50, before he collapsed. Mike rolled off Andrew and stood up. Andrew wheezed and tried to stand up. �I guess there�s no better time to try again than right now,� Mike decided, balling up his fist again. �Are you ready?� �Go ahead,� sneered Andrew, �if you think you can keep me from standing up.� Mike began punching Andrew in the face, softly, so he wouldn�t hurt his own hand. But Andrew still managed to slowly stand up, though Mike thought he saw him flinch once or twice. �Good job man,� Andrew commended him. �It took me a long time to stand up that time. You actually made me flinch a time or two, as well. That�s good. You�re stronger already.� �I�m sorry if I hurt you,� Mike apologized. �I didn�t mean to.� �That�s okay, �Andrew assured him. �I will teach you how to control your strength. Right now, it is time to go downstairs for supper.� �Will you put a shirt on before we go downstairs?� Mike asked. �What�s the matter?� Andrew asked, grinning. �Are these muscles too much for you?� He flexed his pecs slowly one at a time, and Mike�s jaw dropped in awe. �Earth to Mike, cone in Mike,� Andrew said, waving a huge hand in front of Mike�s face. Mike didn�t move, so Andrew yelled, �Snap out of it man!� He gave Mike a light shove to get his attention. Mike stumbled and looked up at Andrew, �Sorry man. I was just so mesmerized by your muscles. I didn�t mean to stare.� �Well, get used to seeing amazing displays of strength from me,� Andrew reminded him. He tossed Mike a towel and said, �You go downstairs to take a shower. I�ll use the one up here, and then we�ll meet downstairs for supper.� Mike grinned and headed downstairs for his shower. Andrew smiled quietly to himself and thought: Mike will become one of the guys in no time. I�ll see to that.
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