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Nick (Sequel to JP)
Making the Next Move
|Nick breathed rhythmically as he blasted through a set of hanging leg lifts. His abs were burning, his face twisted in pain, but he ignored it. He had to get cut and ripped for wrestling; the season was only a few weeks away and he needed to add a few more pounds of muscle. At the same time, the football team was heading into the playoffs and he needed to stay big for that. Therefore, he would power through the daily football training sessions with Brandon and then � despite being exhausted and with every muscle aching � he�d add on a few sets of exercises that zeroed in on certain parts of his body that he needed to strengthen for wrestling. Come Thanksgiving, Nick was going to be the strongest wrestler out there.
Brandon came down the stairs and into the basement gym. He had just taken a shower � his workout was finished for the day � and wore jeans and a towel around his shoulders. His hair was wet; his blond bangs curled over his baby blue eyes in a way that almost made Nick lose his concentration when he saw him.
�Jesus, Nick,� he shook his head, �you�re still down here?�
�Yeah,� Nick grunted, not missing a beat, forcing his knees higher toward his chest, �I gotta get ready for wrestling season. I�m going out for 215.� Nick knew he would never be able to cut to 189 � his body fat was already incredibly low � so he had to mass up to the next weight class�and that meant packing on 15 pounds of mostly muscle in two months. One month had gone by and he now weighed 209 � about halfway there. He was determined to get as close to 215 as he possibly could by Thanksgiving.
�Did you do calves yet?� Brandon asked, brushing his hand through his hair. God, he was gorgeous! Nick quickly shook his head and jumped down from the bar, the heavy muscles of his body bouncing impressively as he did. He rubbed his flushed abs; they were throbbing from the exertion.
�Not yet,� he responded. �Can you hand me that 20-pounder over there?� he pointed to a weight as he picked up the weight belt and put it on. It was time for weighted pull-ups, meant to strengthen his back, shoulders and lats � all important to a wrestler on the mat. Brandon grabbed the weight and help Nick hook it onto the belt. At this closeness, Nick could smell the scent of Brandon�s hair, briefly sending him into a daze. Just one touch, one kiss, he thought. But then he blinked and got the thought out of his mind. No, he needed to work out. �You know,� he said, adjusting the belt, �you should go out for wrestling. You�re already at 189 and you�d be a shoe-in for Varsity.� Brandon shrugged, flashing that half-smile that always made Nick shudder in the same way it affected all the girls at school.
�We�ll see,� he replied. The two boys looked at each other for a split second. It was awesome already having Brandon as a football teammate � having him as a wrestling teammate would be even better. �Dinner�ll be ready in 20 minutes,� Brandon went on, cocking his head toward the stairs. �You�ll be done by then, right?�
�Yeah,� Nick breathed as he began a grueling set of pull-ups. He could feel his lats flare out like wings as his body easily lifted himself plus 20 pounds up to the bar. He watched Brandon bound up the stairs as he repped. Why did Brandon have to be straight? Why couldn�t Nick tell him how he felt about him? But then there was Erin; what would she think about all of this? Attempting to rid his head of it all, Nick forced through that set of pull-ups and with only a few seconds rest, started another � this time lifting his neck in front of the bar to isolate his upper back muscles. Just then, someone else came down the stairs.
�You down here, Nick?� Erin called. Instantly, a wave of euphoria swept through Nick�s body at the sound of his girlfriend�s voice; it seemed to give him more strength as he continued his set, grimacing with determination. This is what didn�t make sense: just seeing Brandon made Nick�s head whirl, but at the same time, Erin had the same effect on him. How could he be in love with two totally different people at once? Well, at least he could kiss Erin without any second thoughts. �Holy shit,� she gasped as she walked into the room. Nick smiled to himself; seeing his huge, sweaty body in the middle of a workout like this must be a sight to behold.
�Hey, Erin,� he said, lowering his body to the floor and unstrapping the weight belt.
�Do you ever stop working out?� she teased, coming over to him to give him a kiss. The taste of his girlfriend rejuvenated Nick and he no longer felt tired.
�Are you complaining?� he grinned, holding her in his arms, her fingers playing on his sweat-soaked, shredded abs.
�No,� she answered, smiling back, �I love watching to you get bigger and stronger.� Then, she reached up and kissed him passionately on the lips. Forget Brandon, he thought as he looked into her eyes, how can I ever ignore her!
Ian winced as he stuck the needle into his hip and pushed in the plunger. He always hated needles ever since he was little, but if this was going to help him get huge, he didn�t give a fuck if it hurt. He looked at his reflection in the bathroom mirror. He was covered in glistening sweat from the workout he had just put himself through�during which he had been boned the whole time. Watching his own bulging body get more and more pumped with each and every rep � apparently a cool side effect of the new roids � was such a turn-on. Twice he had to have Rick suck him off; the little fuck would do anything he told him to.
There was only one thing: Ian had been taking these steroids for a month now and in that time, he had only gained five pounds, a lot less than he was expecting. Yeah, he weighed a shit-kicking 210 pounds and all the girls were practically drooling over his body, but 210 wasn�t big enough. Travis had told him the drugs would take a bit to really start kicking in, but Ian was running out of time. The football season was almost over and pretty soon, he wouldn�t be able to show Nick and Brandon up on the field.
Ian flexed in the mirror � his cock immediately standing on end � and admired how his veins pulsed underneath his skin. Well, at least he was looking fuller in the chest and shoulders and arms. He could feel it whenever he squeezed his pecs together; they were definitely bigger and rounder. All the chicks loved that when he fucked them.
�Hey, Ian,� Rick poked his head into the bathroom.
�What?� Ian answered, annoyed, still flexing at himself in the mirror.
�Uh, Coach wants me to lock up the weight room,� Rick shifted uneasily back and forth from foot to foot. �I was, um, wonderin� if you were finished in there.�
�Yeah,� Ian grunted. Rick turned to leave, but an idea entered Ian�s head. �Hey, Rick,� he called after him. The smaller boy immediately turned back.
�What do you need?� he asked almost instinctively. Ian smiled inwardly; he had him in the palm of his hand. �You used to go out with one of the Tarkov twins, right?�
�Yeah, Katia,� Rick answered, puzzled. �Why?� Ian smirked, already picturing how perfectly his plan was going to work out.
�You still like her, right?�
�Yeah,� Rick looked confused. Ian never cared about his buddy�s social life before, but the guy was too stupid to realize that.
�Did you know that Brandon Jones went to homecoming with her,� he paused for maximum dramatic impact, �and her sister?�
�Seriously?� Rick seemed stunned. Ian knew Rick had always had a crush on Katia Tarkov � hell, she was hot.
�Yep,� Ian went on nonchalantly, as if he were just gossiping. �He probably fucked the shit outta her, too.� That�s when a look of near-anger appeared on Rick�s face. He had been trying to get with her for a long time and then this punk kid Brandon comes along, goes out on one date with her and then sleeps with her.
�I know,� Ian faux-confided. He grinned to himself; his plan was brilliant. �You know, there is a party this Saturday night. I�m sure Brandon will be there.� He peered over at Rick; the guy was still staring off into space in shock. �Maybe you and he can, you know, have a little talk, duke it out,� he suggested.
�Whoa,� Rick replied, his eyes widening. �But the guy�s a whole lot bigger than me.� Ian scoffed.
�That�s why you�ll �talk� to him at the party,� he smirked, leaning against the wall. �A few beers in him and he�ll be numbed down to your size.� He folded his arms in front of his chest, satisfied � ooh, his pecs felt nice and hard bunched up like that. I guess they did get a little bigger, he thought. Anyway, Rick looked like he was thinking hard. �Come on, dude,� Ian persuaded. �This is Katia Tarkov we�re talking about here. You gonna let that dweeb steal her from you?� Rick shook his head, a little more resolved now. Ian smiled; this was gonna be awesome! He went over to the boy and clapped him sharply on the back. �Now get my gym bag and let�s call it a night.�
Ryan watched nervously as Ashley stuck the key into the lock of her apartment. This was the first time she had invited him over after a date and frankly, he wasn�t sure what to expect. Of course a year ago, he would have been eager to sleep with her, but things were different now. Ryan cared deeply for Ashley and that�s what made this so much more eventful.
�So, this is it,� Ashley announced as she led him through the door. �It�s kinda small, but it works.� She smiled at him; he automatically smiled back and glanced around. The place had the typical first-apartment look to it: simply furnished with inexpensive, but fashionable furniture. There were some touches that were obviously Ashley Bennington � the medical textbooks strewn on the coffee table for instance. But there was one thing Ryan noticed that was somewhat strange about the apartment; rather, it was something that wasn�t even there. Ashley had no photographs of family � there were no picture frames of smiling faces above the TV or on the end tables. Ryan couldn�t help but note how odd it seemed.
�It�s nice,� he commented quietly, not completely sure of what to say. He used to always know exactly how to talk to girls, but Ashley affected him in a way no girl in his life ever had. And he knew why: falling in love with someone will do that to you. The two stood in the middle of the room, awkwardly looking at each other. Ryan didn�t know what to do next. He stepped toward her and gently touched her arm. Immediately, he could feel her shudder slightly. �Thanks,� he said softly.
�Thanks for what?� Ashley replied, an amused smile on her face.
�For everything,� he muttered. And then he leaned forward and kissed her. Maybe it was a little bit of the old Ryan Maloney coming through � that Don Juan that would sweep women off their feet � or maybe it was a part of him he always had from the beginning, but that kiss seemed to empower the two of them. Slowly, their bodies began to become looser and Ryan brought Ashley more closely into him. Their lips still interlocked, their arms intertwined, the temperature between the two rose. To Ryan, what was once a conquest felt like a release, as if twenty years of disappointment and rejection were finally being let out.
A bead of sweat formed on Ryan�s forehead as they continued making out. Instinctively reacting to the heat, Ashley started unbuttoning his shirt; he didn�t stop her. Gradually, the bare skin of his beefy pecs and thick abs opened to her eyes. They ceased kissing and Ashley leaned her head on his chest, her cheek pressed gently against his warm skin.
�I almost forgot about this,� she smiled. Ryan looked down to see her tracing her fingers on the tattoo that covered a good part of his left pec. �100% Grade A Beef,� it read. �The first time I saw it,� she went on, �I remember thinking how it didn�t fit your personality.� Ryan looked downcast at the floor.
�It used to,� he replied plainly. Ashley gazed up at him in question. He knew she was longing to learn more about his past. After all, they had first met in the hospital under circumstances that were puzzling at best. But not once had she asked how he got there. Now it was time she knew the whole story. Ryan took in a deep breath before he began. �When I was little, I was fat.�
�Seriously?� Ashley interjected, her eyebrows arching upward. Ryan grinned. Yeah, it was hard to believe the way he looked even now.
�Yeah,� he continued, �but in middle school I was fed up with being picked on all the time. I started working out, exercising. Eventually, I started losing weight and gaining muscle.� Ashley hung on to his every word, listening to his story with rapt attention. The two sat down on the couch, her arms still wrapped around his huge biceps.
�By the time I got into high school, my whole life had changed. I was a jock, I had tons of friends. Everyone adored me.� He paused, glancing down at his feet. �And I loved it. I loved the power I had. I loved being able to do anything I wanted. Naturally, my little brother looked up to me like crazy.� Ryan smiled at the thought of JP and felt his eyes begin to water with tears; he quickly blinked them back. �He wanted to follow in my footsteps�and he did. And that�s when I realized how much I had really changed.� He looked into Ashley�s eyes as they looked into his intently. �I had worked my ass off to get where I was,� he went on, �and JP made it look so easy. All the power I had had gone to my head and I began to obsess over myself, how big I was, how cut I needed to be. It was never enough.� Ashley leaned her head onto Ryan�s round shoulder, taking in his story.
�It wasn�t until it was almost too late that I realized what was happening to me.� He swallowed hard, chocking back the tears that were stubbornly trying to escape. �I�m sure this sounds sappy, but that night in the hospital was like a revelation. Seeing you there hovering over me like an angel,� Ashley blushed a scarlet red, �and then my brother looking down at me with that worried look, I realized that I was living for the wrong things, that there was more out there than just parties and sex�and power.� Ryan laughed to himself. �This may sound ridiculous, but when I was falling apart, I felt more complete than I had ever felt in my life.� Ashley stared up at him in awe, tears streaming silently down her face. Suddenly, she looked away. �What�s wrong?� Ryan asked her.
�Nothing,� she answered, wiping her cheeks with her fingers. �I can�t tell you.� Gently, Ryan took her chin and turned her head toward him again.
�You can�t or you won�t?� Instead of responding, Ashley began crying even harder, shaking her head. Confused, Ryan wrapped both arms around her and cradled her against his chest; it was the only thing he could do. There was something in his story that hit home � hard � for her and he didn�t have the slightest idea of what.
Brandon took a swig of his beer as he ground his pelvis up against the hips of a girl in time with the music. He could already feel the light-headedness that signaled the beginnings of drunkenness. If there was any weakness Brandon Jones had, it was alcohol. He simply couldn�t help himself when it came to drinking at parties. You�d think that after all these years, he�d build up a tolerance of some sort, but nope, he couldn�t stay away. The thumping of the beat vibrating through his bones, the swill of beer running down his throat, he eyed a hot girl from across the room. She seemed to be zeroing in on him. He had never seen her before, but it was obvious she knew him. Well, a lot of people knew Brandon by now; after all, he was one of the stars of the football team and they had just gotten into the playoffs for the first time in years. Grinning eagerly, Brandon began to make his way over to her.
�Hey, watch where you�re goin�!� someone yelled out roughly as Brandon felt a body accidentally make contact with his shoulder. He looked behind to see Rick Stevens glaring up at him. Brandon smirked; Rick had once been the poster child for the upcoming Spartans team, but that summer had not been kind to him. He was scrawny now and nowhere near a match for Brandon Jones.
�Why don�t you watch where you�re goin�?� he replied, shoving him lightly in the chest�or at least what he thought was lightly. Rick apparently didn�t take it as the joke Brandon had meant it to be. He shoved back hard.
�You think you�re so fuckin� big and powerful, don�t you?� he sneered. Brandon laughed.
�What the fuck are you talking about?�
�You know what I�m talking about,� Rick spit, getting up in his grill. �You think you can have any girl you want�you fuckin� man-whore!� Brandon finally began to get serious. No one called him something like that.
�Watch who you callin� man-whore,� he hissed, clutching Rick�s sinewy arm tightly. But the boy only winced a bit. �You don�t wanna fuck with me.�
�Yeah, that�s what you are,� Rick continued, �a fucking man-whore. You sleep with anyone you can get your hands on�just like your mama!� Suddenly, an anger that even shocked Brandon welled up inside of him and he lashed out violently.
�What the fuck did you say?� he screamed, forcefully throwing Rick against a table. It tipped over, spilling its contents to the floor, Rick flipping over it and landing on his side, howling in pain. �Don�t you ever talk about my mom that way!� Brandon shouted down at him. He lunged toward him again, but was suddenly held back by the muscular arms of Nick.
�Whoa, whoa!� he persuaded him. �Calm down, Brandon!� Brandon fought for a few more seconds, not realizing it was hopeless in his teammate�s strong grip.
�Did you hear what he said?� he belted, still struggling.
�Forget it,� Nick soothed, turning him away from the mangled heap on the floor. �Come on,� he said, leading him into the kitchen and sitting him down at the table. Brandon put his head in his hands. How the fuck did that happen? How did he lose it so easily? But the consequences of what he had done were only just coming to light.
Quietly, Nick slipped through the front door of Brandon�s house. He knew where the hide-a-key was � after all, he practically lived there anymore. He made his way into the living room where Brandon was sitting on the couch playing a video game. That only meant one thing: Brandon was beyond pissed. The events of the night before seemed like a dream compared to the afternoon that beamed outside. Nick could almost feel the anger seeping from Brandon as he sat there.
�Dude, you alright?� he asked, approaching him carefully.
�Yeah,� Brandon lied.
�Brandon, you were drunk,� Nick tried to make excuses for his friend�s outburst, �you didn�t��
�I broke Rick�s arm,� he suddenly blurted. Nick swallowed guiltily. �But that�s not the worst of it.� Brandon leaned his head back on the couch as Nick stood next to him. �Coach found out about the fight. I�m suspended for the rest of the season.�
�You�ve got to be shitting me!� Nick burst, but Brandon shook his head.
�And to make matters worse,� he went on, �guess whose now quarterback?� Nick�s face fell.
�Please don�t say it�s Ian.� But Brandon nodded. �Oh shit! We haven�t practiced together for months.�
�I know,� Brandon said bitterly. �I wouldn�t be surprised if he was behind this whole thing.�
�Are you thinking what I�m thinking,� Nick murmured, meeting eyes with him.
�This is exactly what Ian wants,� Brandon conjectured. �Plus, Rick is like his waterboy. It makes perfect sense.� Nick clenched his jaw, disgusted that his former best friend would go to such lengths just to be the quarterback of the Varsity football team.
�Wait �til I see that jerk,� he hissed. �I�m gonna kick his ass!� But Brandon looked up at him � their eyes meeting again � and smiled weakly. Then, he threw him the second video game controller.
�Not until I kick your ass first.� Nick grinned. This was why he loved hanging around with Brandon. He always hated seeing him upset over something, no matter what it was. Nick caught the controller and plopped down on the couch next to him.
�We�ll see about that,� he answered. For the next hour, the two played video games with the intensity of a couple of ten-year-olds. For just a while, they forgot about what had happened last night�or what might happen next weekend in playoffs.
�HAH!� Brandon cackled. �Eat shit, fucker!� he yelled as he beat Nick handedly.
�Oh, yeah?� he responded. �Try me for real!� And then without warning, he pounced on Brandon, knocking him backward onto the couch and pinning him easily. Laughing, Brandon looked up at him and straight into his eyes. Nick couldn�t help but gaze back, completely taken.
Suddenly, the two stopped laughing and just stared at each other quietly. Nick�s hand was pressed up against Brandon�s right pec; Brandon�s fingers were clutched around Nick�s right biceps. Nick couldn�t get over how gorgeous and perfect Brandon looked � his deep, sky blue eyes, his strong cheekbones, his full, red lips. He was like an angel. He felt like he was drifting toward him, coming closer and closer to his skin; he could hear his breathing, he could smell him�almost taste him. It wasn�t until their lips touched that Nick realized they actually were getting closer.
And then they kissed.
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