Nick (Sequel to JP)

Proving Ground


By luvyalots

“Brionna?” Ashley breathed into the telephone. She couldn’t believe what she was hearing. “I thought I told you never to call here,” she stammered.

“Is that any way to greet your sister?” Brionna said, scoffing bitterly. “I just thought I’d give you a call.” Ashley felt like hanging up on her, but for some reason, she couldn’t.

“What do you want?”

“Can’t we just chat,” her sister answered. “By the way, I like your taste in men. Ryan is a hottie.” Ashley’s eyes grew wide with horror. How the hell did she know about Ryan?

“How the hell do you know about Ryan?” she said out loud. Brionna laughed.

“Sis,” she said, “I used to date the guy.” Ashley ground her teeth together. Figures. “Trust me, Ash, you should be careful with him.”


“He screwed me and then screwed me over,” she explained.

“Gee, I wonder why,” Ashley returned sarcastically. You probably screwed with him first, she thought. That’s what Brionna always did with guys. “He’s not like that anymore.”

“You sure?” Brionna suggested. Ashley bit her lip. She was convinced Ryan had become a changed man. He no longer played around; the fact that he was going slow with her was evident of that. Or was it? Maybe he hadn’t changed and he was just teasing her. No, wait! What was she thinking? Ryan loved her…and she loved him. Brionna was just trying to get in her head.

“What do you care?” she shot back at her sister.

“I’m just giving you warning.” Now Ashley remembered why she had taken her mother’s name and cut herself off from the rest of her family – her sister Brionna was a psychopath.

“Why don’t you leave me and Ryan alone?” she blurted. “Go find someone else to screw with!” Brionna laughed again.

“Fine,” she scoffed, “I just hope you know what you’re doing.” But Ashley didn’t want to hear anymore and hung up. Taking in a deep breath, she closed her eyes and leaned back on the couch. Ryan was the first good thing to happen to her in a long time. There was no way she was going to let her sister ruin it.

Travis leaned against the wall and took a long drag from his cigarette. In the distance, he could hear the crowd from the upcoming football game. The Central High School Spartans had advanced through the play-offs successfully and were now only one win away from the state championship. But Travis didn’t care. He scowled at the stadium lights, silently cursing the jocks who got the attention.

Travis Plummer had always hated jocks, ever since he was a kid growing up in Chino. And things weren’t any different when he moved to Virginia to live with his grandmother. The first year here – as a sophomore – she had persuaded him to join the marching band. Meet new people, she had said…bullshit! Before band camp even ended he had already gotten into it with one of the trumpet players – some jock named JP Maloney – and quit. Since then, all he did was deal drugs and cut classes. His grandmother was totally oblivious to it all.

Just then, Travis spotted a large, hooded figure approaching him from the locker room – Ian Antoncelli. He smirked; how ironic that he was supplying one of the very types he hated. But roids were good money and the jocks around here would do anything to get ahead. Ian looked around nervously as he came up to him. The stuff was starting to really work on him; he looked bigger than last time.

“You got it?” he whispered, as if he was scared someone would spot him.

“Yeah,” Travis answered in a normal voice. He didn’t give a shit if anyone saw him. He fished into his jacket pocket and pulled out a small bag. “Here.”

“That’s it?” Ian said, his lip curling up in disgust.

“This shit’s hard to get, dude,” he explained. “I’m gonna have to raise the price soon.” Well, that was bullshit, but he knew a guy like Ian wouldn’t say no. He probably needed a fix right before the game.

“Fine,” Ian grimaced, handed Travis the money and took the bag roughly. As he did, his face came into the light of the nearby lamp post. Ian’s eyes were wild with intensity. Man, he really does need a fix, Travis thought.

“What you gonna do if they want a drug test?” he asked nonchalantly. Instantly, Ian looked up at him in a near-panic.

“What do you mean?” he snapped. Travis grinned. God, he loved doing that to those guys!

“They might check all of you after the game,” he answered. “especially after seeing the way you play.” He partially did this to save his own ass; if Ian got caught using steroids, they’d be traced back to Travis and then his whole operation would be shut down…or worse. You had to be smart in this business. And these dumb jocks didn’t usually think of things like that. Ian palmed the bag and looked away for a moment.

“I’ll figure something out,” he said.

“I would,” Travis smirked. Ian stood there for a second and blinked before turning to go back to the locker room. As he watched him go, Travis took one last puff of his cigarette before throwing it out and heading for his car.

“Alright, men,” Coach Palmer announced from the middle of the locker room huddle. “I don’t think I have to remind you how important this game is.” He eyed each and every one of his players as they surrounded him. Brandon stood in the back, wearing his jersey with no pads. His suspension was still activated, but he had to sit on the sidelines with the rest of the team. It was torture, not being able to play, especially since he had to watch Ian as quarterback. “We’ve worked together as a team all season,” Coach continued his pep talk, “so just keep doing that and we’ll be state champs come next weekend.” A few of the guys murmured their agreement.

Brandon cast his eyes down at the number 10 on his jersey. He could still see the disappointment in his dad’s face when he found out about the suspension. He made a glare at Ian who was on the other side of the room. I should be out there, he thought, not Ian. The guy had barely made it in time for the final team meeting. God only knows where he was, probably fucking some chick. Brandon eyed his huge biceps and thick forearms. Ian had put on a large amount of muscle since the beginning of the season…and now he was looking bigger than ever. Something wasn’t quite right.

“…now go out there,” Coach continued, “and show that crowd where the Spartans deserve to be!” The entire team roared; they were pumped up, but Brandon barely let a sound out of his throat.

“Hey, B,” Nick called over to him.

“Oh, hey, Nick,” Brandon answered, trying to sound upbeat. One look at his teammate and he nearly went into a trance. Nick was so hot, especially in the football uniform. His huge arms looked big and strong as they hung like hams under the bulk of the shoulder pads, the snake-like veins that hugged his biceps pulsing with blood. His neck was ridiculously massive, spreading out over his arcing traps with menacing power. And then there were his eyes; those fierce, blue eyes that peered out hypnotically at him. Brandon had fallen in love with Nick the moment he saw him; he had never met someone so beautiful. “Good luck out there, man,” he said.

“Thanks,” Nick muttered with a slight smile. “I miss ya – on the field, I mean,” he added awkwardly. Things had been a bit weird since the night they kissed; they hadn’t hung out as much as they had before. It was as if Nick was trying to keep his distance. Brandon didn’t blame him. He couldn’t imagine how complicated it must be to be totally in love with a girl and then fall in love at the same time with a teammate.

“You , too,” Brandon answered, gazing at him straight in the eyes. Nick instantly looked away. God, why couldn’t he think of something to say? He just stared at the young superjock, not able to take his eyes off of him. After one more agonizing moment of silence, Nick turned, grabbed his helmet and jogged toward the front of the team as they headed out of the locker room and to the field.

Nick took in a deep breath as he prepared for the next play, staring his opponent dead-on in the face. The guy looked tired; Nick had pounded the hell out of him all night; he hadn’t stood a chance against the powerful strength of Nick’s body, despite outweighing him considerably. Yeah, Nick had dominated the Salem Sun Devils’ defensive line…but you couldn’t tell that from the scoreboard. The Spartans were only winning 14-7. They would’ve been winning by more if Ian would connect to him better. Over half his passes were too long; it was as if he suddenly had more strength than he could handle. If it wasn’t for their own defense – led by Billy – they’d be way behind.

Nick side-glanced at his team’s quarterback as he called out the play. Man, how it killed him to see Ian in the position – a cocky smirk practically a permanent fixture on his face – and not Brandon. It didn’t seem fair that Brandon had been suspended, but Ian had proven his talent. He had led the team to the semifinals. Tonight, however, there was something different in the way he moved, like he almost didn’t have control over his own body.

The ball was snapped and Nick instantly charged through the defenseman and down the field, another Sun Devil a couple steps behind him…but fading. Nick was much too fast for him, as usual. He quickly glanced up over his shoulder as another of Ian’s passes sailed impressively toward him…but too high. Shit, the play was supposed to have him connect 15 yards up; Ian had thrown like he was 25 yards up. What the fuck!?! Nick pumped his legs harder, trying to make up the distance, but it was no use. He screamed in frustration as he watched the ball bounce five yards in front of him, the arms of the ref signaling yet another incomplete pass.

“TIMEOUT!” he screamed at one of the coaches on the sidelines. Immediately, the coach gave the sign and the refs blew their whistles. Nick tore his helmet off in fury as he approached the forming huddle. He located Ian and stomped over to him. He knew the last thing he should do was confront a teammate, but he could no longer hold it in. Ian’s showboating was pissing him off. “That was the sixth fucking time you overthrew to me!” he said roughly. “What is your problem?!” Ian looked at him with a slight expression of shock, but then smirked.

“Maybe you should start running faster,” he retorted.

“Maybe you should stop fuckin’ showing off,” Nick answered back, getting up in his face.

“Fuck off!” Ian screamed, nearly knocking Nick over with his huge chest.

“Guys! Lay off!” Coach Palmer came over and broke the two up, inserting his bulk between the two teenagers. His eyes were wide; it was obvious he wasn’t happy with his star players’ performances. “I realize you boys are excited about this game, but you have to learn to control it…especially now.” He turned to Ian, lowering his voice to its normal timbre. “Ian, I’d like you to start rushing more. Your passing game seems to be a little off tonight.” But Ian glared at Coach with furious eyes, as if he couldn’t believe what he was hearing.

“Are you kidding me?” he blurted. Then, he suddenly raised his arms and flexed his massive biceps, their thick peaks pushing up against his shoulder pads. “I don’t have guns like these just to hand off the ball!” Coach’s mouth nearly dropped open, stunned that one of his own players would dare talk back.

“Antoncelli!” he ordered. “You will not talk like that to me or I will replace you for the rest of the game.” Now, he was practically in Ian’s grill. Ian let out a breath and dropped his arms.

“Fine,” he muttered. The game resumed with the Spartans completing a first down on a rushing play, though Nick could tell Ian wasn’t happy about not being the center of attention. Unfortunately, they were only able to pick up a few yards before settling for a field goal, making the score 17-7. But the damage had been done. Ian’s near-mutiny had shattered the momentum that the Spartans had been running on and they began to wear down. The Sun Devils scored a touchdown with a two-point conversion, followed by a field goal on the next possession. With only minutes remaining in the game, Salem was winning 18-17. Nick was beginning to feel the plunging morale of his teammates around him.

“Come on,” he muttered to himself, attempting to keep it from affecting him, as he went over to the sideline. “Coach!” Palmer looked up. “May I suggest letting Ian have another try at the long forward pass?” The man peered at him skeptically.

“His aim’s been a little off tonight, Nick,” he answered, apparently choosing his words carefully. “Are you sure? There’s less than a minute left.” Nick nodded.

“Trust me, Coach,” he persuaded. “I promise you we can get into field goal range. And Petey will win the game. His percentage has been good all season.” Palmer sighed as he thought for a moment. That would give them the lead with a slim chance of Salem running it back.

“Fine,” he finally said.

Taking in a deep breath as he went back on the field, Nick prepped himself for the play. It was do or die; he knew he would have to go all out. The nanosecond the ball was snapped, Nick took off like a sprinter, charging through the defensive line as if they weren’t even there and bolting down the field. His legs were burning as he ran with blinding speed. He needed to cover as much distance as possible; he knew Ian would be throwing a bomb. Sure enough, he caught sight of the ball spiraling toward him. Jesus Christ, that was a long throw! Nick turned on the burners full blast to catch up and caught the ball squarely in his arms. The crowd went wild as he tore down the field, the football protected against his chest, before being tackled near the 25-yard line. Nick stood up and let out a primal roar, pumping his fists into the air, his huge biceps flexing enormously. Immediately, Coach called timeout with five seconds left on the clock and the team jogged to the sideline where Peter Evans, the kicker, had been warming up.

“You can do it, Petey,” Nick urged as the sophomore readied himself for the biggest kick of his life. He looked nervous, but there was confidence in his eyes. Peter swung his leg back and forth a couple of times.

“I’m good,” he said, smiling, before running onto the field. Nick grinned; he knew Peter loved stuff like this. With Brandon, Ian and himself – and Billy, too – garnering all the attention, he sometimes enjoyed watching another player like Peter getting some spotlight. It almost seemed right that someone other than Ian should win the game for Central.

Nick could feel the tension in the air as the teams lined up for what would surely be the final play of the game. He vibrated in his cleats, butterflies fluttering in his stomach, as he watched Peter run forward and kick the ball with perfect form. The stadium was dead silent as the ball sailed end over end toward the goalposts. Nick could barely stand to watch, but he couldn’t look away. And then…BONG! The ball hit the metal post and bounced off. For a split second, no one seemed to understand what that sound meant…until the players on the opposite sideline began jumping up and down in victory.

The Central High School Spartans had lost the game on a missed field goal.

Nick collapsed to his knees in shock. Peter Evans was an 80% field goal kicker; how did he miss that? It should have been a cinch for him. It almost didn’t seem fair. That’s when Nick realized how bad Peter must’ve been feeling at that moment. He looked out onto the field and saw the boy on his knees, his face in his hands. Overcome with empathy, Nick jogged over to him and placed his hand on his shoulder.

“Petey?” he said. Peter lifted his head; his eyes were filled with tears, the reflecting paint on his cheeks smeared.

“I lost the game,” he whimpered.

“No, you didn’t,” Nick answered back, trying to keep his emotions from escaping. But one look in his eyes and Peter could tell that the whole team had lost the game, not just one person. “Come on,” Nick urged, lifting the smaller teen to his feet. “Let’s go.” And with that, he helped him to the locker room.

“Where is that FUCK?” Ian screamed as he stormed into the locker room, his pads already off and thrown to the floor. The other guys immediately made way for him. You’d have to be a fool to mess with Ian Antoncelli, especially when his gigantic muscles were practically bursting the seams of his white UnderArmor shirt. His biceps bulged menacingly, the thick veins pulsing with blood. His pecs bounced with power, his tree-trunk thighs rippling with strength, as he shouldered his path through the crowd. Suddenly, he spotted Peter Evans who was sitting forlornly on a bench and growled. “You little, puny fucker!”


In one easy swoop, Ian picked the boy up by the front of his shirt and with one arm forced him against the wall, his feet dangling almost a foot above the floor. Peter looked horrified. No doubt, the sight of Ian’s massive arm – which was the size of one of his legs – was frightening, his huge triceps exploding out of his skin. But the fire in his eyes could burn a man alive. Peter couldn’t speak; he was too scared.

“All you had to do was make one fucking field goal,” Ian spat, “and you couldn’t even do that!” Ian could feel the boy’s heart beating rapidly underneath his fist and he looked like he was about to cry. It just didn’t seem fair. Ian had busted his ass the whole game for nothing.

“Ian! Stop!” someone cried out from behind. Ian turned his head around to see Nick charging toward him. He smirked; the little fuck was nothing to him anymore. Just as Nick got close, Ian swung an enormous arm, connecting it squarely with his neck. Instantly, Nick was thrown back a couple of feet into a bank of lockers, leaving him slightly dazed.

“Fuck off!” he screamed, letting Peter drop to the floor in a sad heap. That’s when he felt a pair of massive arms wrap around his, pulling him forcefully away from the scene.

“Calm down, Ian!” It was Billy, using every bit of his bulk to control him. But Ian kept fighting.

“Ha!” he roared at Nick. “I took you down with one hand. You can’t match me anymore. I’m better than you!”

“Calm down!” Billy repeated, dragging him into the next room with the help of two or three linesmen. Ian grinned, realizing that it took all those big guys to move him. Wait ‘till they see me a few months from now, he thought.

Meanwhile, Brandon watched the whole scene play out from the opposite side of the room. He knew something like this was going to happen sooner or later. He could see it in Ian’s eyes every time he took the field. The guy was a power-hungry maniac; all he cared about was being bigger and stronger than everybody else. It wasn’t the first time Brandon had seen this. And he also knew what caused it. He could see it the ferocity of Ian’s eyes, in the way his muscles moved, in his outbursts. Ian Antoncelli was taking steroids; he had to be. •

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