Nick (Sequel to JP)

No Easy Way Out


By luvyalots

“Ladies and gentlemen!” the booming voice of Zach Monkery, the student council vice president and self-appointed MC of all Central High School social events, resounded across the parking lot of Five Guys. “Welcome to the Spartan Football GigaBurger Contest!” The sizable crowd cheered as Zach gestured to the four football players that were seated behind a long table outside the burger joint. Each one was wearing his jersey, their numbers proudly displayed across the front. The contest was being held as a fundraiser for the athletic department; for each GigaBurger a contestant ate, a portion of the admission and souvenir sales would go into the fund…and that would all be matched by the car dealership across the street.

“Let’s meet the contestants!” Zach continued. “In chair #1, a former kicker whose legs were so strong, his muscles spread to his arms.” A few chuckles could be heard in the throng. Nick rolled his eyes; Zach never passed up an opportunity to ham it up. “At 6 feet, 184 pounds, back-up quarterback, number 7…Pete “Cannon Arm” Evans!” Pete stood up and lifted his arms above his head, pumping up the crowd.

“In chair #2, the kid from Indiana who breaks as many hearts as he does records…including the record for most girlfriends at one party…” Nick shook his head, grinning; man, this was going to get bad. “At 6 foot 1, 205 pounds, starting quarterback, number 10…Brandon “Hoosier Daddy” Jones!” A deafening scream erupted from the girls as Brandon got up and waved, giving off his trademark half-smile.

“In chair #3, the only guy I’ve ever seen bench over 600 pounds…yeah, at that game against Annandale, he sent four guys to the bench…” An audible groan could be heard. Could he get any worse? “At 6 foot 4, 310 pounds, middle linebacker, number 55…Billy “Bust ‘Em Open” Freeman!” Yet another huge cheer rose as Billy inflated his massive bulk in an intimidating most-muscular pose, letting out a snarl.

“And in chair #4, a guy so built, women fall to their knees all around him…” The audience was already buzzing in anticipation of the final contestant. “At 6 foot 3, 265 pounds, wide receiver, number 82…Nick “The Greek God” Angelakis!” At that, the crowd roared so loud, you couldn’t even hear the traffic passing down the street on I-95. Casually, Nick stood up and dramatically surveyed his fans…and then suddenly raised his arms and flexed them. “22-inch guns, ladies and gentlemen! Illegal without a permit in 38 states!” Zach announced, his voice inaudible now.

“Alright,” he went on once the din died down. “The rules are simple. Each of you is now being served four GigaBurgers each.” As he said this, a pack of Five Guys cooks brought out a cart heaped with the huge burgers and began dealing them out. Nick glanced over at Billy; he was already licking his lips. “As soon as you have finished all four, signal a cook and he’ll bring you two more. The last contestant to remain eating…wins!” Nick looked down at his place. Man, those burgers looked good; he could feel his stomach growling. “On your mark…get set…GO!”

Immediately, all four boys dove into their first bites with such ferocity, it was as if none of them had eaten in days. The crowd egged them on earnestly, the noise growing louder with each morsel of food that they shoved into their mouths. Nick was halfway through his second, when he noticed Billy – his large hands easily palming one in each – eating two at once. Jesus Christ, look at him, he thought. Within minutes, Billy had finished his first four and signaled for his next round. Thirty seconds later, Pete raised his hand at the other end of the table for his next two. Shit, I better hurry up, Nick said to himself and gobbled up his last burger as quickly as he could. With a grunt, he thrust his muscular into the air and two more GigaBurgers instantly appeared in front of him.

“Jones is still on his first four, Angelakis and Evans are starting on their fifth…and, oh my God, Freeman is already signaling for his seventh and eighth. I think we may be seeing a record fall today!” The current record was eight, set by Tyler Backton back when he was still in high school. It definitely was in danger with Billy going the pace he was.

Nick started on his sixth burger as Brandon ordered his fifth and Pete his seventh. Man, that kid could really eat! No wonder he had grown so big so fast! Nick began to feel full as he neared the end of his sixth, but he still signaled for the next round. Meanwhile, Billy was already digging into numbers nine and ten at the same time. He had slowed down a bit, but he was determined to break Tyler’s record. Suddenly, Brandon threw his arms up and backed away from the table, shaking his head. He was finished.

“Oh, we have our first drop-out,” Zach called, moving behind Brandon. “Don’t wanna lose that eight-pack for the ladies, huh?” he said. Brandon laughed and gave him a light smack from his seat. Meanwhile, the fight continued among the remaining three contestants. By this point, Nick and Pete were in a dead heat at eight…and Billy was beginning his eleventh and twelfth! He was taking longer breaks between bites now, pieces of beef dropping from his mouth, the entire lower half of his face covered in ketchup…but he kept going. Nick drank some of his soda as he prepared for his ninth burger, Pete eyeing him from the other end. He had never eaten so much in his life! He could actually feel his distended stomach touching against the edge of the table. Nick took one more bite and forced himself to chew as his head fell against his arm, his cheek planting itself on his biceps.

Finally, he gave up and painfully pushed himself away from the table. Immediately, Peter did the same thing. He obviously wanted to make sure he beat the great Nick Angelakis in something…and he had by a few seconds. But there was Billy, still chowing away, chomping on his 13th; he had slowed down to eating one at a time now.

“And he have a WINNER!” Zach screamed as the crowed roared. Billy looked up, put down his burger – or what was left of it – and stood up carefully, his huge musclegut nearly knocking the plate off the table. “And the official count is…I guess we can count that one…” There was only one bite left. “Thirteen! A new Five Guys GigaBurger record!” He lifted Billy’s up in victory, though Billy almost lifted the kid into the air himself, causing everyone to laugh. Nick beamed at his childhood buddy proudly; he always was good at the eating contests. At least some things never change.

“That was so fun!” Nick said, holding his bloated stomach as he and Brandon headed across the parking lot. He must’ve gained ten pounds in 30 minutes eating those eight plus burgers.

“That was ridiculous!” Brandon laughed, shaking his head. “How did Billy eat 13 of those things? I couldn’t even down five!”

“Hell, five is nothing for him,” Nick replied. “How do you think he got the size he is?” Brandon shook his head again, no doubt imagining how much bigger Billy could still get since he was only 15.

“Oh, shit! Is that your new Mustang?” Brandon suddenly blurted as they neared Nick’s car.


“Man, it’s gorgeous!” Brandon stood there, staring at it. “It looks brand new. Is it?”

“Nah,” Nick answered. “It’s used. A coupla years old. I couldn’t afford a new one.” After a summer of mowing lawns, he had saved up enough to buy a car and he had to admit, despite it being used, it was a beauty. The shiny red finish glinted in the sunlight and from every angle it looked amazing. Brandon gazed at it covetously. “Get in,” Nick urged. Brandon glanced at him and with a dash, he hopped into the passenger’s seat as Nick got in the other side.

“Damn,” Brandon exhaled, brushing his hand over the dashboard. “This thing’s in great condition. Where’d you get it?”

“I bought it off a Army guy who was moving to Germany,” Nick explained. “He didn’t need it there. As you can see, he kept it immaculate.” Brandon grunted in agreement. “You thinking about getting some wheels?” Nick asked. His teammate smiled and looked out the window.

“I’m thinkin’ of gettin’ a motorcycle,” he said, “but I don’t have enough money right now.”

“Well, what about the money you’ll probably get for your mom’s settlement—” Nick cut himself off, realizing too late the stupidity of his words as Brandon shot him a look of dread. Nick closed his eyes. The situation surrounding the death of his mother was a bit of a sore spot for Brandon. The researchers were still in court and it was looking like the families affected would be getting something in return for their losses, but he never talked about it. It was too painful. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to bring that up.”

“Nah, it’s fine,” Brandon muttered, though it was obvious he felt uncomfortable.

“Well, Greg would surely love to ride a motorcycle,” Nick tried desperately to change the subject. Instantly, Brandon grinned as he thought about his boyfriend. Yeah, that worked.

“I’m sure he would,” he answered, brushing his fingers through his blond hair. Nick could’ve sworn he saw something move in his crotch. “Last night was great,” he added.

“Whoa, wait a sec,” Nick snickered. “Last night? You mean, you guys did it again last night?” Brandon looked over at his buddy and blushed.

“Greg’s a bit of a…sex maniac,” he replied softly, almost embarrassed. “And I’ve never seen a guy be able to put himself in so many different positions.” Nick couldn’t stop his laughter from coming out at the look on Brandon’s face. He was amazed, dazed and turned on all at the same time.

“Well, I guess you guys have been getting along,” Nick laughed. Brandon nodded, his eyes wide as saucers. Suddenly, Nick’s cell phone rang. He fumbled for it and checked the display…Ian. “Hey, man. What’s up?” he answered it.

“You gotta get over here right away,” Ian responded. He sounded nervous and agitated, almost like he had shot up again. Nick’s heart immediately fell. Please tell me he’s not using again, he prayed.

“Dude, you alright?”

“Yeah, yeah, I’m fine,” Ian said quickly. “Just get over here. I need to show you something.” He paused. “And bring Brandon, too.” Nick looked over at Brandon who instantly read his face and knew something was wrong.

“What is it?” he asked.

“Please say this isn’t you guys!” Ian pleaded. “Tell me this is faked somehow!” Nick’s eyes still stared at Ian’s computer screen, the video player having gone black. Brandon was gaping speechless behind him. Ian had just showed the two the video of their make-out session behind Glory Daze. “Are you guys really…gay?” The sound of Ian saying that word brought Nick out of his daze. Slowly, he looked over at his friend and swallowed hard.

“Yeah,” he mumbled, nodding slightly, “we are.” Ian closed his eyes and plopped his heavy body into his desk chair. “Actually, Brandon’s gay…I’m just…bi,” Nick began to ramble nervously. “I still love Erin. We didn’t, we never meant for…I mean, it was the last time we were ever going to…”

“Stop,” Ian held up his hand, rubbing his fingers against his temple. “I don’t care if you guys are gay. I don’t care if you guys are fucking each other…” Nick saw Brandon flex his jaw muscles out of the corner of his eye. “There’s a bigger problem right now. The whole school will know about you two.” He had told them about the money he owed to Travis and how he had been threatened with the video being posted on MySpace if he did pay it.

“Ian, look,” Brandon suddenly interjected, “we’ll do everything we can to help you get that money.”

“I’ll even sell my Mustang,” Nick suggested.

“No,” Ian blurted hoarsely. His voice sounded as if he hadn’t slept all night and the bags under his eyes were the heaviest Nick had seen since before he had gone into rehab. “You guys don’t understand how Travis works. He hates jocks. It doesn’t matter whether I pay him or not, he’s still going to post that video.”

“Shit,” Brandon exclaimed and collapsed onto Ian’s bed, his head in his hands. Nick knew exactly what he was thinking: this was Brandon’s biggest fear, being publicly outed.

“Guys, I’m sorry about all of this,” Ian continued, on the verge of tears. “I never expected it to turn out this way.” He knew his apologies were useless; he just didn’t know what to say. He was racked with guilt – guilt that his drug problem had been the cause. Nick sighed.

“There’s no easy way out of it,” he admitted, looking sorrowfully down at Brandon. “We’re going to have to face it.”

SWISH! The ball went through the basket touching nothing but net. Erin raised her arms in triumph, letting out a whoop.

“Damn,” Ryan exclaimed, shaking his head, “you’re kicking my ass!”

“Yeah, you bet I am,” Erin replied mockingly, “I am kicking your big, muscle-bound, stud ass.” She smiled broadly up at him. His little sister had tried out for the basketball team and made JV on her very first try. Well, with the last name of Maloney, most people just assumed she’d be a great athlete, but she really was a natural when it came to the sport.

“All right,” Ryan went on, “give me the ball.” With quick reflexes, Erin passed it to him and he caught it hard against his chest. “God, watch it,” he said. Erin gave him a fake pout.

“What?” she taunted. “Is my big stud brother worried about getting his face all hurt for his photoshoot?” Ryan narrowed his eyes at the girl. How did she know he was going back into modeling? He hadn’t announced it to his family yet.

“Have you been talking to Ashley?” he asked. Erin shrugged innocently and grinned.

“Maybe I have,” she answered, suddenly returning to a sweet, girlish stance, her hands folded behind her back, her eyelids batting bashfully. Ryan shook his head and laughed. Just then, Nick’s new Mustang pulled up to the driveway. “Speaking of big studs,” Ryan said, tucking the basketball against his hip, “here’s yours right now.” Instantly, Erin twirled around as Nick climbed out of the driver’s side.

“NICK!” she screamed, running to him and jumping into his massive arms. He easily picked her up – his huge biceps stretching the fabric of his T-shirt – and kissed her directly on the lips. Christ, the kid was getting big! And strong! It was remarkable how he had grown from a skinny little seventh grader to a heavily-muscled, athletic high school sophomore. “Are you staying for dinner again?” Erin asked once he put her down again.

“Sure,” Nick nodded, smiling weakly. Ryan peered at the young jock. Something was wrong; he normally was all teeth around his girlfriend, but today he wasn’t. It was obvious that Erin had immediately picked up on it as well.

“What’s wrong?” she spoke softly, placing her hands tenderly on his taut, narrow waist. Nick sighed and looked away for a moment.

“I need to talk to you,” he said, “right now.”

Brandon sullenly moved his vegetables around his plate with his fork. He wasn’t hungry; in fact, he was surprised he ate as much as he did.

“Ate too many burgers at that fundraiser, huh?” his dad commented with a slight grin. He stood up and collected his son’s plate. Brandon leaned back in his chair and sighed.

“Yeah,” he answered, looking at invisible spot on the wall. “I’m gonna go upstairs.”

“The Colts are on tonight,” his dad reminded him. “You don’t wanna watch?” Brandon turned to his father and tried to act as normal as possible. He knew his dad could read him well.

“Nah,” he said, forcing a smile. “I have a lot of homework to finish.”

“Alright,” his dad answered, eyeing him oddly. “I’ll update you whenever you want.” With that, Brandon turned and headed to his room. As soon as he entered it, he shut the door and fell onto his bed. He didn’t feel like doing homework, he didn’t feel like working out. Fuck, he didn’t feel like doing anything.

Slowly, he sat up and glanced at his broad form in the mirror. He stared at his shimmering blond hair, his sky blue eyes, his full red lips, his strong cheekbones. He looked at how his wide shoulders spread, how his bulging biceps filled the sleeves, his beefy pecs pushed out the front of the shirt. Brandon Jones was beautiful; Brandon Jones was gorgeous; Brandon Jones was a hunk – he had gotten that all his life.

But what would people say once they found out he was gay? What would his teammates say? Brandon felt a tear escape his eye, rolling down his cheek. Angrily, he wiped it away. Don’t cry, you fag, he told himself. How was he going to get through this? He sighed, suddenly remembering that his dad had a gun in his closet. All it would take was one pull of the trigger and it would all be over. It would be easy.

BUZZZZ! Brandon’s cell phone vibrated on his desk. Jerked out of his thoughts, he got up to see who it was. Shit, Greg. Brandon closed his eyes guiltily. Why hadn’t he thought of him, the one person he cared most about? Taking in a deep breath, he held the phone up to his ear.

“Hey,” he answered, trying not to sound as horrible as he felt.

“Hey,” Greg said on the other line. “You alright?” Brandon could tell in his boyfriend’s voice that he was concerned. “I was just thinking about you,” he added. How did Greg know to call him?

“Yeah, I’m fine,” Brandon replied. God, I was just about to commit suicide, he thought to himself and Greg calls me out of the blue. “Actually,” he began again, “can we talk?”

“Sure,” Greg’s voice soothed. Instantly, Brandon began to feel better. Why hadn’t he thought of him earlier? He started telling him everything. He told him about kissing Nick behind the restaurant. He told him about how they had unknowingly been filmed, how Ian had been blackmailed. Through it all, Greg stayed silent, listening to Brandon’s every word.

“I always knew I’d have to come out eventually,” he concluded, “but I never thought it would be like this.” He swallowed, closing his eyes to avoid the tears from flowing. “The life I know…I’ve always known…is gonna change forever. I don’t know what to do.”

“Wow,” Greg exhaled after taking it all in. “I never realized how hard it was for you, to hide the fact that you were gay from everyone.”

“I never really knew myself,” Brandon explained. “And even when I did, I never really wanted to believe it.” He had known he was gay for years, but it wasn’t until now that it hit him. His life as he knew it was probably over.

“Brandon,” Greg continued, his voice still as tender as it was when the conversation started, “I’m here for you. I’ll help you get through it. And I know Nick will, too.” Brandon didn’t know what to say. Greg was perfect.

“Thanks,” he whimpered. Then, a silence followed; Greg was obviously thinking.

“There is one thing,” he finally said, “that might make some things a little easier.”

Coach Palmer filed away the tapes of their opponents in a drawer. The Spartans were basically a shoe-in for the state play-offs. All that remained was to study the plays of possible adversaries leading up to the title game. He knew his boys were determined to rectify the disappointment of last year and he had every bit of faith and confidence in them that they would do the job.

“Uh, Coach?” a voice called from his office door. It was Nick, his tremendous bulk filling the space, Brandon behind him. Immediately, Palmer’s face brightened.

“Hey, Angelakis, Jones,” he greeted them. “What is it?”

“Can we talk to you about something?” Nick asked, timidly walking into the room. This was very unlike them. They were usually very sure of themselves. Something was definitely up. Taking that cue, Palmer sat down in his desk chair as the two teens towered above him.

“Sure, go ahead,” he answered, remaining calm. Nick took in a deep breath, glancing over at Brandon for a second and then looking back at Palmer. “What is it?” Palmer asked again.

“Coach,” Nick began, “Brandon and I….I mean, we’re kinda…” He closed his eyes and swallowed hard. Palmer waited patiently.

“We’re gay.”

Palmer blinked, his face frozen with shock. Did I hear him right, he asked himself. He didn’t quite know how to respond. “Excuse me?” he finally said.

“Nick and I are gay,” Brandon spoke up, repeating it. Palmer’s mouth fell open slightly as he moved his eyes back and forth between the two teen athletes.

“Why are you telling me this?” he wondered aloud.

“A friend of mine is in trouble,” Nick explained, “and he’s being blackmailed with a video of the two of us…well…”

“I don’t need to hear the details,” Palmer stopped them, leaning forward.

“We want to come out ourselves, before the video is released,” Brandon continued. “We think we might be able to somewhat control the rumors that might spread.” He and Nick met eyes for a moment. “Coach, we want you to…we need you to back us up when we come out to the team.” Palmer raised his eyebrows.

“You do realize that there will still be a lot of rumors,” he warned them. “This is a high school.”

“We know, Coach,” Nick replied.

“We’re willing to take them,” Brandon added. Palmer sighed. He wasn’t sure exactly how to respond. He was always known among his colleagues as a coach who strongly supported his athletes, regardless of what kind of trouble they were in…but this, this was something completely different.

Still, Nick and Brandon were two of the best football players he had ever coached. Not only did they have incredible talent, but they were mature, had good heads on their shoulders and were determined to beat anything. Palmer just wasn’t sure if they were ready for what might come at them.

“Coach?” Brandon looked directly into his eyes. “Can we count on you?” Palmer looked at Brandon and then at Nick.

“I’ll back you guys up,” he finally said. “Good luck.” Both boys grinned as if a gigantic weight had just been lifted off their shoulders.

“Thanks, Coach,” Nick smiled.

“Yeah, thanks,” Brandon repeated. The two turned and walked out of the office, leaving Palmer sitting alone at his desk in thought. I hope I’m ready for what’s coming, he said to himself. •

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