Hunter: Breathe Me(musc)

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“Where am I?”

“The locker room in your high school.”

The boy’s eyes darted around and did, indeed, recognize the room. “Who are you? Why am I here? I’m a grown man, I don’t need to go to school anymore…”

The voice ignored the first two questions. It was unseen, omnipresent, echoing through the small metallic chambers of the concrete room. “You’re not an adult,” it laughed condescendingly. “You’re a high school loser.”

“I’m not a loser,” the boy said, trying to remain calm. “And I’m married. I have children.”

“No you don’t. You’re a teenager. You’re not a husband or a father and you probably never will be.”

“Yes! Yes I am!”

“No. They don’t exist.”

That’s not true. I remember them! How can I remember something that doesn’t exist? Where are they? I want to see my family, where are my wife and children?! What the fuck have you done with-”

“They don’t exist,” the voice said with overt menace. “You’re just crazy.”

The head shook vigorously. “NO! NO, I remember my wedding day and the days my kids were born, I remember them vividly. And I remember enough to know that if you’ve laid a hand on them, I will fucking destroy you. Don’t tell me I’m crazy, I’m NOT CRAZY.”

“You’re crazy if you think a fat nerdy toad like you can marry a hot babe and have cute babies running around your beautiful home. You can barely make a good friend because no one wants to talk to you, you’re so ugly, so how are you gonna get a sexbomb wife?”

“Shut up.” The poor kid tried to move but was held down by some malevolent force. No binds held him, and yet he was stuck. He could see his flabby chest, he could feel the fat on his arms. “I’m not in my body. This isn’t even my body…anymore...”

“Yes it is, you pathetic lardass. You’re not talented enough to be an athlete, so you’re just the athletic department’s bitch. Gives you a chance to ogle bodies that you’ll never get to have.”

“I said shut up!”

“Everyone makes fun of you. You’ll never amount to anything because of your shitty genetic draw. You’re even too nice, so you’re not memorable. People just walk all over you…which must be hard for them because you’re so doughy.”


The response was laughter. The boy seethed at the sound of it. “I have amounted to something,” he roared over the unsettling laughter all around him. “I’m a success. I’ve broken out of this place and made a name for myself. And not everyone mocked me, not even when I was fat. You’re a fucking lunatic.”

There was no answer. The laughter ceased.

“Yeah, that’s right, you know it’s true,” the captive continued, his voice cracking slightly. “It’s you who’ll never amount to anything. And I, I already have. Because I had friends who helped me and I worked hard. That’s right – I worked. Me. What the fuck have you done lately?”

Suddenly, the voice was right behind him, hissing in his ear. “Now it’s your turn to shut up.” An unbelievable force slammed into him and he flew, out of control, toward the metal lockers. Someone screamed, either him or the voice. His eyes clamped shut and he braced for the painful impact…

…and then, with a shudder, Neil was in he and his wife’s bed. Large gulps of air were sucked into his lungs. He rolled onto his other side and looked at the clock. 3:08 AM. What a horrible dream.

Next to him, Mel stirred. “Are you up?”

He responded by rolling back over toward her and rubbing his knuckles across her soft cheek. She placed her hand on his face and his eyes shut at the gesture, his lips curving into a peaceful, sleepy smile.

“I like your beard.”

She’d never seen him with any facial hair before, it was a swimming no-no, but Neil was taking a six-week break from swimming to take care of Landon and Mel, and shaving wasn’t on the schedule. The result was a three-week-old dark blond beard, a shade darker than his bright, sunny locks. It hugged his jawline nicely and brought out his sparkling blue eyes. He had trimmed it to look neat, and it did look quite good on him. Added a bit of maturity to his still-boyishly handsome face, and his sons liked it too. Leighton would always grab onto it when they played. Lachlan said he wanted to grow one of his own when he grew up.

Neil had beefed up, as well. He was still going to the gym, just not the pool. His muscles were fuller and thicker, not as flat as they had been in his mid-twenties. Mel put one arm behind Neil’s neck and the other went across his chest, and she cuddled next to him feeling safe and warm. She could feel his power. He kissed her forehead, her lips, her neck and her shoulders and she smiled as the whiskers tickled her smooth skin. Mel nestled under Neil’s beefy arm and let him ravish her.

“Your body amazes me,” he said in between kisses.

She grinned. “Yours too. Mmmm, you smell so nice.”

“But you…” Kiss. “Your body gives life.” Kiss. “You create it,” he said, his hand running down in between her legs. “It grows inside of you.” He touched her stomach, the hard leathery calluses of his fingers contrasting with the silky texture of her skin. “It comes out of you.” Kiss. “And then, you sustain it, and you…nourish it.” He touched her breasts, and kissed them, the breasts that fed his sons. “Your body is a miracle. It’s a life-giving miracle.”

There was silence for a few moments, then Mel smiled. “Don’t forget that you helped get everything started. I’m not the only one needed to make a baby.” He felt her hand wrap around his dick and it made him jump. “Surprise,” she giggled.

“We haven’t fooled around since you were seven months pregnant.”

“I know. Hate it.” She began pumping and he got hard, fast. Mel loved convincing a soft little penis to become a big, stiff cock. It was rewarding. She watched Neil’s eyes brighten. His hands grabbed onto the sheets and he arched his back, painfully turned on. Breaths turned into pants.

“That working for you?”

Neil nodded gratefully and began to roll his hips, suddenly grunting with joy. “Oh, Melly. Oh baby. Baby…”

She knew that noise. “Fuck me.”

“Don’t have to tell me twice,” he grinned, rolling on top of her. His mind immediately rocketed back to the nightmare he had experienced minutes ago. Finally, finally he had responded to those nagging thoughts with the right response. Who gives a shit if three-quarters of my high school career wasn’t so great? LOOK at me. I have a beautiful, loving wife. I have three amazing sons. My best friend is Hunter fuckin’ Hardy, and he’s like my brother. His kids call me ‘Uncle Neil.’ I’m rich. I can provide for my wife, my children and even my mom. I’m healthy. I can fuck Mel and play catch with my boys and live a long life, unlike my father. I’m attractive. I don’t have to worry about people judging my looks anymore. I can be confident.

High school’s over, Whale, he thought to himself. It’s time to move on.

He broke into a full-on grin at the realization he had just had. Boy, that’s taken me a while. Mel smiled back up at him and he leaned down and kissed her, and rubbed their noses together. He pushed the thoughts away once more, focusing on the task at hand. They made love for several minutes, laughing like high schoolers, before the baby monitor sprang to life and they heard Landon crying.

“Well, that was fun,” Neil said, deadpan.

She used the same tone of voice to respond. “Same time next year?”

They both laughed and exchanged a quick kiss. “I’ll go,” she said.

“No, please rest. I’ve got him.”

“He might be hungry. Those sound like hungry cries.”

“I’ll get the formula. Honey, please sleep. I just want you to rest. He’s my son too, y’know.”

Neil had already rolled out of bed and was pulling on a pair of athletic shorts. He took long enough that Mel had a chance to admire the shelf he called an ass. God, it could stop traffic. Look at that thing. Looks like it sticks out twelve inches. She let out a low whistle, and he grinned with pride.

“You’ve still got it,” she said with a seductive grin. “God, you still do it for me.”

He flexed his chest and the pecs bobbed up and down. He really had grown a lot bigger, she realized. The beard and the body made him look manlier than he ever had before. He had always been huge, wide, muscular, but now the shape of his body was extremely distinct. Big, pulsing, veiny slabs of muscle covered his body. Not an ounce of fat anywhere. He wanted to do a full-on posing show for her.

“Don’t get too carried away, Schwarzenegger, our baby’s still crying.”

“Right,” he said, chuckling. He leaned down and kissed her once more. “Go to sleep, Melly. Please sleep.”

Their relationship had, over the past year, become rather mechanical. It had taken the difficult birth to remind both of them what they cherished in the other, and suddenly Neil was concerned about everything that Mel did. It could be kind of annoying – sometimes she felt babied – but he was so sweet, so thoughtful and so genuine that she just let him take care of her. It was obviously what he wanted to do. Neil loved taking care of people. It was his nature.

“I love you.”

“I love you, too.”

He disappeared out of the room and she listened to his voice appearing on the baby monitor. “Heyyyyy, buddy,” it said, punctuated by static crackles. “Shhh shh shh shh. It’s okay. Don’t cry, Daddy’s here, please don’t cry, Lando. Shhhh. You’ll wake up your brothers. You don’t wanna wake up your brothers, do ya?”

Mel smiled and listened to Neil trying to coax their son back to sleep. It wasn’t long before he did the same to her.


The seasons passed. Winter to spring, spring to summer, summer to fall, and again. Children grew. Lachlan blossomed into an active, extremely popular ten-year-old. Burke and Leighton, at five years old, were absolutely inseparable. The triplets were a very loud three – Lily had her father wrapped around her finger and was already in love with every boy, although they wanted nothing to do with her…yet. Tripp and little Neil were both terribly protective of their sister, but also adventurous themselves; Tripp was a climber, and Neil was a mastermind behind many a scheme, exceedingly cute yet ever so cunning. Swarthy Tripp was more Hunter, while mischievous Neil had a lot of his mother in him. The two boys made a perfect pair, and with Lily added, an unbeatable trio.

Landon, the miracle baby, ran Neil and Mel ragged as soon as he could walk, just as Lachlan had told Neil he would. He was constantly running, bounding, leaping, rolling, jumping; a whirling dervish of explosive energy. Landon was unstoppable – even his brothers had trouble keeping up with him. By far the most of active of Neil and Mel’s sons, his bubbly laughter filled their newly-built house. Neil and Mel sometimes called Landon Taz, after the Tazmanian Devil in Looney Tunes, a little tornado that never stopped moving.

Neil looked at his sons with wonder. Everything came so easily – they were perfectly bred; charming and charismatic. They had their pick of friends, they were exceedingly athletic, and they were smart. They were just…boys and knew how to be. Neil hadn’t figured out how to act like a quote-unquote “guy” until he was nearly twenty, so he marveled at how easily it came to his three boys. They had his genes. Neil sometimes wished he had had his current genes at their age. Still, a beautiful genetic draw appeared when he needed it most, and he was grateful for that.

Lachlan was beginning to show signs of the more artistic route he would take in life. While he loved playing soccer and touch football, he also was a good performer and a born mimic. He had aped an Australian accent that was on the car radio one day, and Neil was stunned at its accuracy. And slowly, Lachlan was growing up. His face was beginning to sharpen. He was already getting much taller, meeting his mother’s height. Neil didn’t think it was only paternal pride that made Lachlan the best-looking of all of his friends – the kid was gorgeous, and everyone knew it. Neil and Mel both did their best to keep Lachlan from being prideful, but every now and then, an air of superiority came through in his speech and actions. It was hard to blame Lachlan – he wasn’t stupid. He knew he had something that others didn’t. It was nature. Evolution.

Leighton took to water as if he were a fish; he even loved baths. As soon as he was in swimming lessons, he was hooked. Every inch his father’s son, he never wanted to leave the pool. Neil would pick up Leighton and start walking out of swimming classes, and the boy would burst into tears. On Neil’s off-days from training, he would take his son to the pool and they’d play and swim for hours. Leighton not only loved it, but he was also showing marked signs of improvement. He even started putting on his tiny board shorts when he woke up in the morning, hoping that his parents would take him swimming when they saw he was already dressed for it.

For years, Hunter Hardy was the most reliable QB in the NFL. A franchise man through-and-through, he stayed with the same team that had drafted him – the Jets – and won them three Super Bowls. He was always in flawless shape. He set the record for fewest interceptions in a season; commentators marveled at how the ball would slip out of the defense’s hands, every time, as if controlled by an unseen force. As the most gloriously handsome player that the league had ever seen, with a body like Atlas, he had endorsements coming out of his ass. Everyone, women, men, rivals, liked the guy. He was a family man, he was married to a supermodel, and he never seemed to do anything wrong. Ever. He was a fuckin’ saint. And even if he did get some bad PR, everyone always seemed to sort of…forget about it.

And buzz was beginning to percolate – Henry Hardy had won a Heisman of his own at Florida, just as his brother did. Soon, the young man would be in the NFL, and what a marketing bonanza that would be.

Then, Hunter Hardy did something that stunned the world.

He got hurt.

Hunter didn’t remember the hit, or even the moments leading up to it. Katie said that the few moments when he lay on the field, face down and unconscious, were the worst moments of her life. She remembered yelling “Somebody help him!” She remembered looking down and seeing Burke hugging all three triplets at once, being the big brother, hiding their eyes while looking terrified himself. But most of all, she remembered the silence in the normally deafening stadium. Eerie, horrified silence.

It was a spectacular hit. They replayed it on ESPN for weeks. Hunter hadn’t seen it coming from his blind side and the impact made him do a full somersault. He was unconscious immediately, unable to feel the shrieking pain from his leg.

He’d probably be fine, they said, unless something went really wrong in the healing process. Still, he was definitely out for the season. A concussion and a very broken leg don’t just go away. And so began the most frustrating months of Hunter Hardy’s life. Unable to heal himself, unable to even speed up the process. He was stuck at home but couldn’t play very much with his kids or have sex with his wife. He was bored. Hunter wasn’t used to being bored.

The concussion went away relatively fast – two weeks and a handful of days – but brought with it a powerful lesson: Hunter’s power, whatever it was, was in his brain. He was an entirely normal man, unable to affect anything or anyone, for the fortnight it took his head to heal. It affected him deeply – his confidence was shaken, and he suddenly had a glimpse of a world he’d never known before. He had taken his power for granted, he realized. He watched a second-string QB lose three games in a row and couldn’t do anything about it, couldn’t even fix it when his team didn’t make the playoffs. Tripp broke a porcelain plate and Hunter couldn’t just zap it back into one piece. Neil – big Neil – had to drive over to see him, instead of Hunter just popping them back and forth. Even when Hunter lost the remote, he couldn’t just have it materialize in his hand, or adjust the TV’s volume without getting up.

Katie woke up in the middle of one night and saw him sitting on the edge of the bed, his head in his hands. The TV was on, low, and the talking heads on ESPN were chattering: Is Hunter Hardy over the hill? Should the Jets cut their losses and start looking through replacements?

She decided not to say anything and lay still, looking at his broad back, hunched in silhouette. He finally looked up at the TV and she could see his profile – he looked twenty years older, suddenly, the crags in his face standing out more. His eyes were puffy and so sad. He punished himself and watched the men onscreen yammer away, and she could see him grow more and more depressed.

Katie reversed her decision and spoke. “Turn that off.”

His voice was husky and barely audible. “I didn’t mean to wake you up.”

“You didn’t. Please stop watching that.”

“I can’t sleep.” Something about the words were so deeply wounded, Katie almost winced to hear them.

“Can I get you some Tylenol or something?”

“I want to get it.”

“It’s easier if I do.” As soon as she said it, she knew it was a big mistake. She could see him physically sink deeper into despair.

“God, I fucking HATE this shit.” His fist pounded the cast on his leg. He groaned.

“Please stop. Try to sleep.”

His hands moved forcibly as he talked. “I CAN’T SLEEP, Kate,” he said, his voice overflowing with exasperation. “I haven’t been able to sleep for a week because my head fucking hurts.”

“Don’t curse. I’m sorry, honey, but you’ll get better.”

He turned and looked at her, the TV granting just enough light for her to see his sadness. “I’m getting old, aren’t I?”

“We’re all getting older,” she replied.

“No. I’m getting old, Kate. I can’t bounce back like I could when I was twenty-two. I can’t keep getting hurt, you can’t raise Burke alone, the kids need me…”

“Are you kidding me? You’re not retiring. Don’t even think about it.” She paused and thought for a moment about the right thing to say. “You’re miserable in the off-season, you work out like a demon because you get so antsy. Your whole life was always football, football, football. Then it was football and me. Now it’s football, me and the kids. You need football. You’ll know when it’s right to hang it up. Now isn’t right…it doesn’t feel right.”

“You’re right. You’re always right. I know, but...everything hurts, all the time. Everything hurts. I’m tired of it. I’m tired of hurting.” Katie knew he was slightly exaggerating, but his despondence broke her heart all the same. He sighed and nodded. “I’m gonna lie down downstairs.”

“You’re not keeping me up,” she lied. “I like having you next to me. You’re so big and warm.”

“Thanks. I like having you next to me. But tonight…tonight I’m not doing a lot of sleeping.” He stood with great trepidation and limped out of the room.

When Katie found Hunter the next morning, he was right where she expected him to be - and it wasn’t on the downstairs couch. He was in the rocking chair in Burke’s room; the same rocking chair he’d sat in to give Burke his bottle, the one he’d sat in to read Burke his favorite stories, the one he’d sat in to rock crying Burke to sleep. Tonight, through exhausted and red-rimmed eyes, Hunter was watching his son’s slumber. In his large rough hands he clutched a small bear that he’d given Burke as a baby - the boy’s absolute favorite toy. The stuffed animal was clothed in a tiny Jets jersey, with Burke’s dad’s name and number on the back.

Hunter had been there all night.


When his head was starting to feel normal again, Katie casually mentioned that she had gained five pounds. Hunter was almost surprised when those five pounds were suddenly gone again. He had forgotten about that life-long instinct to “fix” things immediately, and after a handful of days, had to get back into the groove of it.

The leg took much, much longer. Hunter wasn’t anywhere near his normal self during the months of healing and rehab. He snapped at the kids more, out of sheer frustration with his inability to keep up with them. Katie hated watching him walk around the house on crutches, because she could see how much he detested it. He didn’t like leaving the house because there would inevitably be photos of him at his weakest. Sometimes he’d ditch the crutches and just limp, but the pain was often too much. He came down on it wrong one time, roared in agony and punched a hole in the hallway’s wall. For the first time since Katie had met him, Hunter was a grouch.

They fought more, a lot more, over how to discipline the children and who needed to be where, when. Hunter started raising his voice in their arguments, which he never had before. “You don’t understand what I go through. NOBODY does, and you know that’s true. Only Burke can, but even he’s too young right now.”

She threw it right back. “You’re acting like a petulant, pouting child. So you can’t fix your leg, boohoo, you’re like the rest of us for once. Get over it. And your son isn’t your shrink’s couch, he’s our son, and I didn’t carry him around inside me for nine months just so that his poor Daddy would have someone to cry to.”

Hunter burned bright red as he saw Katie storm away. The slam of their bedroom door made him flinch.

Days later, the night he was cleared to play the next season, Hunter took Katie out to dinner. It was a pleasant evening, with many things left unsaid. When they finally piled in the car to head home, both heads firmly facing forward, the tension became too great. The car’s driver drove ahead.

“I’m sorry,” she said, turning her head.

She saw the tendons in his jaw clench. He was a proud man, and apologizing was always hard. “I’m sorry too,” he said calmly. Neither had to ask what for. “I love you, Kate.”

He didn’t notice her little grin. Time to seal the deal. She rolled up the glass between their compartment and the driver. Her fingers wandered into his lap and began rubbing back and forth. She heard him clear his throat nervously.

“Mmmmm, you’re so big.”

She saw his eyes smile. He looked down at her playfully.

“You’re huge,” she purred, feeling the fabric of his dress pants starting to tent as he got hard. “I would brag about you in high school. My girlfriends called me a size queen.”

He got a big smirk on his face. Hunter couldn’t lie: he’d always loved his dick.

“When a girl has a boy this big in her life, he’s all she has room for,” she whispered. “All she needs.”

“Big,” Hunter grunted proudly, feeling and sounding like an animal freshly released from its cage.

He was staring straight ahead, his thick brow pushed down over predatory eyes. She heard a pop, and Hunter reached up and tore off his tie, revealing a collar in tatters. A flex of his neck had torn it.

“God, that gets me hot,” she moaned, unzipping his fly and shoving her hand inside of it. “Unh, I can barely get my hands around you.”

He growled, flexed his chest and saw the second button explode off of his shirt, revealing more of his upper body. Another grunt and flex popped a third. By now, the white shirt was mostly open, revealing a warrior’s proud chest.

“You’re so strong. You’re such a man, such a fucking strong man. And you’re mine.” She bit his lower lip and sucked on it, still pumping her hands until his foot-long cock was painfully hard. “You’re mine.” His big shoulders rolled forward, then back, then forward twice more. He popped his neck and veins bulged out of it. Then, with a shout, his shoulders and arms tore out of his suit jacket.

He started pumping his hips, unable to control himself. All the aggression he hadn’t been able to exert was pouring out of him. Katie was his prize. She climbed up on his lap, but he rolled their bodies around until he was on top, his massively strong hands tearing her dress to shreds. She couldn’t resist if she wanted to. She yanked off the remains of his sleeves. He leaned back and did a double-bi pose for her, veins going crazy, muscles rippling, skin shimmering. He balled his huge hands into fists and rolled his back out, and the spread of his lats tore his shirt and jacket from top to bottom. He bellowed proudly. She had never seen him act like this before.

Katie loved it.

He forced himself inside of her. She wrapped herself around him and listened to his grunts; he could feel her breath on his neck. They weren’t making love, they were fucking. More approximately, Hunter was screwing Katie so hard that she saw stars. Her world spun. He was all over her, kissing her, holding her, loving her, and completely, unapologetically dominating her. Hunter was so endowed, it almost hurt. He spread her legs wider and pushed deeper. Her arms flew up to her face as she shrieked, and he wrapped his hands around her tiny wrists, forcing them apart to give him space to tongue her mouth.

“God, I fuckin’ love you.”

Makeup sex was the best sex. They both, for a moment in time, completely lost their minds. Pleasure whiteout. He held her, and held her, and held her, and held her.

And nine months later, to the day, Sean William Hardy was born. Named after his grandfathers, and conceived in the same manner as his Uncle Henry. An unplanned blessing in the lives of his parents and siblings alike.


As soon as baby Sean Hardy could walk and talk, he and his older brother Burke were bonded. Sean worshipped Burke. They were the singles of the house, bookending the triplets, who would always have each other. Burke understood Sean, and Sean understood Burke. Because Sean could do what Burke could do.

Hunter was stunned – genuinely stunned - when he discovered that Sean had the power. He and Katie reasoned, after the concussion, that Hunter’s gift was a genetic gift from somewhere that chose some Hardy children and not others. It had obviously come from Hunter’s father, since none of Hunter’s brothers – the children of Sean and Wendy – had it. Hunter and Katie didn’t know if the triplets were normal because of their premature birth, or if the gene simply didn’t like multiples, but it was undeniable: Burke and Sean were empowered, and Tripp, Lily and Neil were not.

Most fathers tell their children to look both ways before they cross the street, and to not talk to strangers. Hunter Hardy instructed his sons to not disappear from their beds, to never leave without warning, and to never, ever change anyone (because it got really addictive).

Hunter and Neil sometimes spoke, in semi-jest, of how jealous they were of their sons. Neil’s sons were irresistibly cute and appealing. Hunter’s two powered sons, Sean and Burke, would always have each other. Hunter had grown up feeling so alone in the world, terrified that he was a societal outcast and that any misstep would shatter his place in the world. He still felt like it sometimes. Burke was bonded with two boys – Leighton, his best friend in the whole world, practically his twin. And then, Sean, his little brother with the shimmering green eyes and thick black hair of their father and grandfather. Sean and Burke, even in their younger capacities, could understand each other’s mutual pride and uncertainty. Why are we different? What do we do about it?

Little Sean Hardy grew into a wide-eyed, observant toddler. His older brothers picked on him, yes, but protected him just as equally, and Sean was more than able to handle his brothers. Lily loved her little brother and mothered him constantly, as if he were one of her dolls. Hunter and Katie kept a close eye on their brood. Hunter had always wondered what his Dad did to make the seven Hardy siblings love each other so much. Now, Hunter realized that his Dad hadn’t done a whole lot. It was natural. They all loved each other biologically. Even when Little Sean was scared of the dark, he would teleport himself into Burke’s bedroom, curling up on the floor next to his older brother, feeling safe and secure.

In addition to his power and his love for his siblings, Sean Hardy had one more distinctive trait: he always wanted to be bigger.

“I wanna be bigger than Burke,” he’d tell his parents. He even toddled with great posture, stretching himself out as tall as possible. “I wanna be as, as…BIG as Daddy,” Sean would say, holding his tiny arms wide for emphasis. When he went to the family gym with his Dad, he would try valiantly to pick up Hunter’s 125-pound dumbbells. Even when Sean was in the Kids Room, he would stand at the window the whole time and watch his Dad work out, his tiny hands pressed against the glass and his soulful eyes longing to be down there with him. Hunter found it both adorable and a little heartbreaking.

“If he keeps this up, we’re gonna have a muscle machine on our hands,” Hunter said to Katie.

“He was so long, too. He’ll be like his Daddy and his Papa.”

Burke, Tripp and Neil were wild cards; Hunter and Katie could only guess how those sons would look in their grown forms. But Sean was going to be at least 6’5”, broad-shouldered and exceptionally muscular, and most likely the spitting image of his father and grandfather in face as well. Even when Sean was three, everyone could tell that the boy was a walking mold of the Hardy genetics. It fascinated Hunter to see his little boy bearing all the traits of his lineage, and yet having no base to go off of – Hunter and his father had looked completely different as children, not yet changed. Hunter just had to assume that his son looked just like Hunter would have – the slightly round face just begging to lengthen and chisel out, the limpid emerald eyes, the smirky curve of the Hardy lips and a head full of thick, gleaming black hair. There was almost no Katie in Sean William Hardy - he was all Hunter. All Hardy.

Big Sean Hardy, Hunter’s father, had gone white at the temples but was otherwise undiminished by his age. He was still preternaturally handsome and exceedingly fit; even in his mid-fifties, he looked like he was in his prime, a walking portrait of masculine beauty. He would hold his youngest grandson, the one who bore his name, and pictures would reveal how alike they looked. Sean loved all five of his grandchildren, but there was always a special place for Little Sean, who at every family gathering would first run straight to his grandfather – “Papa!” – and climb into his strong arms for a big hug. Hunter would stand and watch the scene, always thinking to himself how incredible it was. All those years ago, he had changed annoying Sean Hardy into an adult, a father. He hadn’t thought about how it would affect his life in so many ways - altering it completely, in fact. 10-year-old Hunter Scott had just wanted black hair. That was it. He hadn’t contemplated how his own children would look like the man he had envisioned in his mind, or how he himself would grow from a rather awkward boy into this stunningly built figure, because that was the heritage he had made for himself and thus for his family. At ten years old, he hadn’t considered that he was exchanging the body he was born with – a body that would by now be a banker or something, living in the suburbs with a couple of kids – for the body of a champion, a body that was a millionaire and married to a supermodel and had a penthouse and a mansion, a body so athletically sound that there were whole newscasts devoted to how perfect it was for sport. And now his sons would grow into the same kind of men, with the faces of movie stars and the bodies of Mr. Olympias, and it was all Hunter’s doing. He tried not to think about it all the time, but it was hard to suppress. The effects of his changes were everywhere: his handsome father for one, but also Henry, who was now undeniably a grown man, the 24-year-old quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs, deep-voiced and barrel-chested like all the men in his family. Hank and Hugh had grown into strapping collegiate soccer players with feline reflexes and chiseled faces, racing down the field on powerful legs.

Harrison had experienced a rough puberty. He watched Hunter, Henry, Hank and Hugh easily ascend into well-structured bodies built for athletics, fat-free and naturally muscular, handsome every one. But Harrison Hardy had been a husky boy, all-too-aware of the expectations others had for him. He was round-bellied and jowled as a young teenager, and kids would tease him for being fat and being the one to stop the Hardy streak. In grade school, Sean had put him in wrestling, but Harrison had quit in frustration and rebellion. At fourteen, he had come home from school in tears and begging to be put in a sport, any sport. Sean knew this was it – the boy was naturally strong, moreso than his brothers, and all he needed was the desire to be a jock as opposed to being forced into it. Sean put him back into wrestling, and Harrison’s body quickly changed – this time, he loved wrestling. The militant practices and fraternal bonds ignited something within him and transformed him. In a year, he dropped from heavyweight to the 215 class. His body grew strong and leaned out as he gained height. The comments about him not resembling the rest of the Hardys ceased, as the fat melted off of his face to reveal excellent bone structure. He joined football, then weightlifting; he even began amateur bodybuilding. A junior-year growth spurt to 6-4 caused him to bulk back up to 245, this time all muscle, a powerfully built young man. But even at his current age, a freshly-minted nineteen, he bore the scars of his teasing. At first, he became something of a bully himself, until Wendy put a stop to it. As he matured, Harrison would scold his brothers when they made fun of people, and grew extremely sensitive to criticism from people other than his coaches. On the surface, the college sophomore was a total meathead: deeply-set eyes with thick brows above them, a brown beard smeared across his thickly square jaw, a neck as dense as a tree trunk, and a voice like a foghorn. A born heavyweight, his 260-pound body was brawny and hirsute, and he could barely walk through a door without ducking and turning sideways. But inside the iron fortress of Harrison’s body hid a sweet and gentle soul that cried at weddings, played for hours with his niece and nephews and loved to show affection. He called Wendy ‘Mama’ and revered his coaches and his father more than anyone else. All while being the best wrestler in the family – he defeated every single one of his brothers, and his Dad too.

In contrast to Harrison stood Hudson. At just sixteen, Hudson Hardy had not filled out to the extent that his brothers had, but it didn’t matter: he had the face of an angel, a face that people remembered for days after they saw it. His eyes were an unnatural combination of blue and green, his lips shaped like Cupid’s bow, and his facial structure so comically pronounced that the bones looked carved out of solid granite. He was built like an athlete, lean and strong. Hudson flew up to New York to visit his brother’s family for a weekend, and was stopped by a modeling scout as he stepped out of the cab to arrive at Hunter’s home. With that, his career began.

Hunter was also reminded by Neil, and Neil’s sons, too – Lachlan, now a heart-stopping thirteen-year-old dreamboat; Leighton, a tall eight-year-old who was going to be the clone of his father in a few years, and Landon, another blondie, with a sweet side from Dad and a saucy one from Mom. Landon’s five-year-old energy hadn’t found an outlet yet, but it was only a matter of time before he found the channel that would set his course in life. Landon served as a constant reminder to Hunter of the good he could accomplish.

Hunter would pass men on the street, strangers really, who he knew bore the mark of the changed. He saw an NYPD cop, muscles stretching out of his uniform, who bore the name “DeSanto.” But it wasn’t Mike DeSanto, it was a younger man, presumably Mike’s son. He would see dozens of commercials for films starring Mason Leigh and Drew Carver, two of the world’s biggest movie stars, now both in their thirties and looking more hunky than ever. They both had kids of their own. He attended a fitness expo with his father and watched Carter Cage compete against that guy Luke from Vegas. He would have coffee with Travis Cole and the Hardy kids would play with Travis’s three children, Stefan and twin girls Alana and Lauren. He heard about the Walker twins annihilating their opponents in the ring. He watched Harrison fall in love with Brooke Atkinson, daughter of Steve and sister of Ven, a girl who found Harrison cute even when he was chubby. Hunter was amazed as he watched Ven develop from a boy into a hunky, fit high school football star, unintentionally benefiting from the butterfly effect started by his father Steve’s change. Hunter saw Henry hanging out with Heath Bienkowski, his best friend. Hunter played against, and defeated, Chase Collins in the Super Bowl; Collins, father of three, met him in private after the game and hugged him tightly. Even Hunter’s children were delivered by, and had their check-ups with, local bodybuilding doctor Max Rogers.

Through it all, Hunter would wonder if he was accomplishing his purpose. He wished he could make a cure for cancer appear, or formulate world peace, but that was impossible even for him – it wasn’t magic he could do, it was thoughts, alterations, adjustments. Creating something that did not exist usually didn’t work, but Hunter found that he was discovering internal peace, more and more every day. So he stayed put, helping one person at a time, watching the ripples pan out across the waters as the human race became a little kinder, a little prettier, and a lot more grateful, every day.

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