Second Chances 9

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Edwin sat in the bleachers wearing the school’s colors. He was surrounded by fellow students in similar garb. He purposely chose the outfit to blend into the crowd. He saw Cory walking up the stairs searching for him. Edwin called out his name and waved. Cory’s face lit up when he spotted him. “Here you are? Time is just dragging and I’m freezing my ass off. I can’t believe its only halftime. I swear I’ve been here all day.” Cory sat down next to Edwin. He looked him over, “My God, what are you wearing? It looks like the school mascot threw up all over you.”

“It’s called school spirit, dear boy.” Edwin tossed one end of his crimson and gold striped scarf over his shoulder.

“When did you become one of the football unwashed?”

“I have a real appreciation for the skills and dedication of the players.” Edwin spoke without taking his eyes off the field. “They have natural gifts that are very admirable.”

“I admire their hard asses in their unnaturally tight pants?”

Edwin gave Cory a quick disapproving look before returning his eyes to the game. “Did you get some good shots?”

Cory tilted the camera’s screen and reviewed his pictures. “I hope so. I have no idea why I got this assignment. Kim knows I am clueless when it comes to sports. She did it on spite because I questioned her editorial sensibilities on last week’s lay out. The bitch.”

Edwin smirked, “At least you’re not bitter.”

“I don’t know how you deal with her. You get assigned the best stories. It’s like you have her wrapped around your finger or something. You better not be fucking her or I’ll kill you.”

“You’re the only one I’m fucking.” Edwin ran his hand through Cory’s golden hair. “You should try saying something nice to her every now and then. Flattery works wonders. Everybody wants to be admired, even Kimberly.”

Cory could feel all the tension leaving his body. Edwin always made him feel better. “Well, it doesn’t hurt that you are the best staff writer the paper has.”

“See that wasn’t very difficult.” Edwin leaned into his companion. Cory did the same. They kissed quickly. “And you are the best staff photographer.” Edwin’s attention was captured by the marching band starting another song. “They certainly are loud.”

“Uh huh”, Cory continued to review his photos. “Damn, that’s one hot jock.” He held up the camera so Edwin could see. “Did you know number 12 when you were at Wabash?” Cory checked his notes, “A Lou Dullard?”

Edwin chuckled, “That’s Drew Bullard.” Edwin hadn’t taken his eyes off Drew during the first half of the game. Occasionally the athlete would scan the stands. Edwin wondered if Drew was looking for him. He grouched down whenever Drew looked his way. Edwin could see the jock had regained his impressive physique. The way he was playing showed his prowess on the field had also returned. The one thing Edwin couldn’t see was his face. Edwin looked at the image on the camera’s display. The 3” screen was filled with Drew’s stunning profile. His windblown hair and flawless skin glowed in the bright sunlight. Taken from Cory’s naturally lower angle; Drew looked absolutely majestic. He was happy to see Drew’s awe inspiring beauty had been fully restored; but that also meant Edwin’s was gone. He turned away from the camera, “I only knew him by reputation.”

“I bet he had a delicious one.” Cory looked at Edwin. He could see sadness in Edwin’s eyes. He lowered the camera. “Something tells me there’s more to it. But I know better than to ask you about the Wabash years. It’s part of your mystery.” Cory teased.

“There’s nothing mysterious about my time at Wabash. Nothing happened. I just needed a change.” Edwin looked back at Cory. “That’s all in the past. It doesn’t mean a thing. I’m an Oberlin man now.”

“Is that why you’re wearing this getup; to show where your loyalties lie.”

“Go Yeoman!” Edwin yelled. The surrounding fans repeated his battle cry. Cory and Edwin laughed.

“Well, lover. I should get back to work. Are you staying for the entire game?” Edwin nodded. “Good, wait for me. We can have dinner together.” They kissed again. Cory licked his lips and smiled at Edwin. “Then I have to start packing for our trip.”

“We’re not leaving until Friday.”

“I know. I’m just so excited. I’ve never been to major political happening before.”

Edwin chuckled, “I don’t know if my father announcing his candidacy for the House of Representatives qualifies as a major political happening.”

“It is to me.” Cory entwined his arm around Edwin’s and grasped his hand. “I can’t wait to tell everyone my boyfriend is the son of a congressman. My friends thought dating a mayor’s son was hot.”

“Well, he hasn’t been elected to the house yet.” Edwin patted his boyfriend’s hand. “That reminds me. I think it best if there aren’t any PDAs when we’re visiting him.”

Cory pulled his hand away. “You told me when you came out to your father, he took it rather well.”

“He did; which meant he didn’t try to kill me…or himself.”

Cory pinched Edwin’s arm. “Be serious.”

“Ouch! Well…he took it better than I thought. He didn’t say much at the time and we haven’t discussed it since.” Edwin straightened up, “But I think it’s a good sign he asked me to the press conference. Don’t you?”

“I guess.” Cory sighed.

“I mean I didn’t expect him to throw me a coming out party like your parents did. He’s a republican.” Edwin and Cory laughed.

Cory sighed again. “It was such a fabulous party. I was sixteen and just blossoming into adulthood. Looking back now, I think the princess theme may have been a bit over the top.”

Edwin smiled and shook his head. “You wore a tiara didn’t you?”

“You know me so well.” Cory arched his eyebrow. “Wait, your father does know I’m coming.”

“Yes, I told him I was bringing a friend. He’s not stupid. I’m sure he figured out we’re dating. I just don’t want to flaunt it in front of him.” Edwin looked into Cory’s eyes. “Okay?”

“Of course, I’ll be respectful and behave myself. I even promise not to roll my eyes when he shows me to the guest bedroom. But you owe me. When you became a congressman, I want us to dance at the inauguration to At Last, like Barack and Michelle.”

“Who says I’m going to be a politician.”

“You have to.” Corey counted on his fingers. “One, you’re a poli-sci major. Two, you’re part of a political dynasty now and three, you’re so cute you’ll have no trouble winning any election.”

“Oh, I thought a candidate’s policies swayed voters not his appearance.”

“Please, you can’t be that naïve. How a person looks effects absolutely everything. Look at how that topless photo of Barack was talked about more on news shows than who he picked for his cabinet.”

“TMZ doesn’t count as a news show.” Edwin scoffed.

“It does to me. I’m only a liberal arts major.” Cory looked down at the field, “Thank God, half time is over.” He sighed, “I have to get back. Being surrounded by hunky football players; what torture.”

Edwin knew he was joking but had to ask. “Do you wish that I looked like one of them? You know…a handsome face and a perfect body…tall with big muscles and…other larger body parts.”

“I wouldn’t change anything about you. You are my perfect hunk.” Edwin forced a smile and looked away. Cory could tell Edwin didn’t believe him. “You have to remember, I’m a small guy too. Sleeping with one of those giants would be like climbing a mountain every night. That’s way too exhausting. In the middle of the night they’d roll over and crush me.” Edwin laughed. “Those gorillas could spin me like a helicopter.” Edwin laughed louder from the visualization. “You have one of the tightest bodies I’ve ever seen. You probably spend as much time in the gym as those brutes.” Cory slid his hand up Edwin’s thigh until he reached his crotch. Edwin’s reflexes took over and slammed his legs closed. “All your body parts are the perfect size for me, sexy man.” Cory kissed Edwin. “Okay?”

Edwin nodded, “Thanks. I needed to hear that today.”

“You okay?” Cory asked with some concern.

“Yeah, I’m fine. I’m so lucky I found you.”

“I’m the lucky one. I have to go, or the bitch will be all up in my business at the staff meeting.” Cory stood up, “Tonight you can tell me how gorgeous I am. My, uhm, ego could use some stroking too.”

“Get out of here and go do your job, Jimmy Olsen”, Edwin teased.

Cory jumped on the bench and did a heroic pose, “I like to think of myself more of the Peter Parker type; the superhero, not the sidekick.” He leapt to the staircase and ran down to the bottom railing, before vaulting over it. He turned to the crowd and bowed. Edwin and many others applauded his energetic efforts.

Edwin looked out onto the field as the players emerged from the sidelines. There was Drew leading his team. A day didn’t go by he didn’t think about his mystical adventure at Wabash. Mostly about his future self; he worried how he would take losing everything they had gained. Then he remembered what he did today impacted the future. Edwin changed his life so he wouldn’t end up pathetic and lonely.

After that night on his dorm’s roof, his body began to shrink. It was a good thing there were only a few days left in the semester. He used the time to do his transfer paperwork for Oberlin. Edwin knew he couldn’t stay at Wabash. How could he explain another miraculous change? Plus there were too many ghosts there to haunt him. His father had no objections. Especially when he mentioned Oberlin was coed. He didn’t tell him it was a more gay friendly school at the time.

It took only the summer for Edwin to lose everything he had gained over the previous eight months. He assumed because his body was returning to it rightful state. He spent the time bumming around the West Coast. He stayed in one place only for a week or two. He took advantage of his waning good looks and perfect body as long as he could. He slept around, experimented with some drugs and partied…a lot. He sowed his wild oats and grew up at the same time. He hoped the memories would make up for what he took away from his future self.

When the summer was over he went home. The transformation was complete; he looked like the old Edwin again. His father never saw him as the beautiful jock. That’s when he told his father he was gay. As he confessed, the whole world became lighter. For the first time he could be himself, his real self. Not some outdated concept of the perfect son. The dagger hanging over him was gone.

He took all the knowledge he learned when he was a hunk. He would be the best man he could be with what nature gave him. He stuck to his healthy diet with some modifications. His smaller frame didn’t need the huge amounts of protein and calories the muscle giant’s body demanded. He also modified his exercise routine. He couldn’t possibly lift the amount of weight he once did, but he also didn’t need to spend as much time pumping iron either. He concentrated on keeping his lithe body lean and tight with power yoga and cardio. He was astonished at how shredded he looked. His muscles, while not huge, were clearly defined and solid. He went to the dermatologist to keep his acne under control. He straightened and colored his hair to look less clownish. He even still used pomade. He bought clothes that fitted him correctly and showed his well toned physique. People at his new school described him as cute on several occasions.

The fresh start continued when he arrived at Oberlin. No one knew him there. He made a concerted effort to be friendlier. He felt more at ease around others and people responded to his openness. He rarely ate alone. He joined the school newspaper. That’s were he first saw Cory. It was at their second meeting when Edwin asked him out. They hit it off immediately. Joining Cory’s flamboyant social circle made Edwin’s life very interesting. He loved every minute of it.

Edwin had communicated with only two people from Wabash. He sent a letter to Drew attempting to explain what had happened. It sounded so far fetched. But if anyone would believe it; it should be Drew. He wrote several drafts before mailing the final version to Drew’s home. He never responded back. Edwin wasn’t sure if he ever read it.

The other person was Sam. Edwin sent an email apologizing for how he acted. Sam wrote back immediately saying he was sorry too. The two continued to communicate through email occasionally. Edwin didn’t want to see him. He wanted Sam to think of him as that muscular hunk with the dinosaur in his shorts.

Edwin learned from Sam that Drew had returned to Wabash. He looked bigger and better than ever. He had taken back his starring role on the football team and was having his best season. He had also started modeling. Drew worked with an agency in Chicago that specialized in fitness models. He was doing quite well. An underwear campaign in Europe and Australia was creating real buzz in the industry. Most surprising was he moved out of the Sigma house and lived in an apartment off campus. Sam said Drew was quieter and often seen alone. He was even spotted in the library doing schoolwork. Everyone on campus was talking about the more subdued super stud.

But Drew wasn’t the only big story. Sam said the sudden appearance of a new strength coach was the current hot topic. He made Drew and even Rich look like little boys. Sam saw him several times walking around campus as if looking for something he lost. The guy living in Edwin’s old room saw him digging in the dirt. He was strange, but very nice to look at. Especially when wearing his tight coach’s shorts and polo shirt.

Before Edwin knew it the game was over. Wabash had destroyed Oberlin, due mostly to Drew’s outstanding performance. Once the players left the field, it didn’t take long for the stands to clear. Edwin waited for Cory. He went to the Oberlin locker room for more photos. Edwin thought he must be in heaven. Edwin began to remove his camouflage. He took off his hat and fluffed his well groomed hair. Cory appeared at the bottom of the bleachers. “Let’s go honey, I’m starving.”

Edwin stood up and began to descend the stairs. He froze when a hulking figure loomed behind Cory. The look on Edwin’s face made Cory follow his line of sight. He turned to find the most spectacular masculine specimen behind him. Cory’s mouth fell open. Edwin took a deep breath and continued his descent. He stood next to Cory and braced himself for whatever was going to happen next, “Hello, Drew.”

Drew still wore the bottom half of his uniform. The skin tight pants showed his narrow hips, rounded ass, flared thighs, and huge basket. His torso was covered by a tight, sleeveless t-shirt. Powerful muscles bulged out everywhere through the sweat soaked gray material. His earthy scent filled the air. He definitely was bigger than before. He appeared impervious to the forty something degree temperature. “Can I talk to you?” Drew asked. The sound of his deep voice made both of the smaller men shudder.

“Sure. Cory, would you mind leaving us alone?” Cory didn’t remove his gaze from Drew. Edwin nudged him with his elbow.

“Uh, okay.” Cory looked at Edwin and talked out of the side of his mouth. “I thought you didn’t know him.”

Edwin looked at Drew. Drew gave Edwin a questioning look. “Cory, we’ll discuss this later.”

Cory moved behind Edwin and whispered, “The mystery deepens.” He moved further away without taking his eyes off Drew. “I’ll just go and get my mountain climbing gear.” Cory walked away, looking back several times.

“He climbs mountains?” Drew asked.

“Only in his dreams”, Edwin smiled at his own joke.

“He seems like a nice guy. Are you two…friends?”

“Yes we are very good friends.”

“Good, I’m glad for you.” Drew looked around for a moment. He seemed as nervous as Edwin. “I thought you would be here. I guess we were both curious what the other looked like. It’s certainly different from the last time we saw each other.”

“Yeah”, Edwin looked at Drew’s impressive physique. “You look like you have fully recovered and then some.”

“Working out is no longer a chore for me, it’s more like a privilege.” Drew subconsciously flexed his pecs as he spoke. “We had this new strength coach fill in for couple a weeks. You should have seen him. He was built like a fucking brick house; 6’ 10”, 340 pounds of solid muscle. I swear he could press a BMW if he wanted to. He wasn’t much older than the players either. But he was huge…and I mean everywhere. I never felt so small and weak. He made everyone on the team look like midgets. Amazingly he looked even younger and bigger when he left than the day he arrived.” Drew could see Edwin wasn’t really interested. “Anyway, he really pushed us hard. We all packed on the muscle.”

“It shows.” Edwin swallowed hard and turned away. “Congratulations on winning the game. You were great out there. I’m sure the NFL will be knocking on your door.”

“The coaches say the time away did wonders for my work ethic. I didn’t realize how much I loved the game until it was taken away from me.” Edwin turned his head to face Drew again. He thought Drew would be angry, but he looked like he was about to cry. “I feel like I’ve been giving a second chance.” Drew took a deep breath, “I got your letter.”

“Good.” Edwin put his hands into his pockets. “I wanted to try to explain. I never meant to do that to you. Well, the current me that is. It probably read like some bizarre story you find on an obscure website.”

“Yeah, bizarre is a good description.” Drew crossed his arms in front of him. He cleared his throat and looked away. “I, uhm, wanted to say….Thank you.” He looked at Edwin for a second before turning away again. “I’m sorry for what I did to you. That whole tricking you to…you know and putting out that flyer. I was a real asshole. The video’s been deleted from my computer by the way. You don’t have to worry about it popping up in the future. I should have never...”

“Don’t, please.” Edwin became flustered. “We both know it wasn’t difficult to convince me to…you know. You were, are an incredibly attractive man. What I did to you was wrong on so many levels. It wasn’t justifiable under any circumstances. You were born that way. I had no right to take things that weren’t mine. Even children know stealing is wrong. I’m sorry it took me so long to correct it.” He looked up at Drew. “I’m sure you would have done the same.”

Drew scoffed. “We both know that’s not true. I’m not strong that way…like you are.” Edwin didn’t know what to say. The two men looked into each other eyes, seeing the other’s exposed soul.

Drew looked away first and shifted in weight between his two thick legs. But it was Edwin that spoke, “I didn’t see Rich play today.”

“Yeah,” Edwin scratched his head, “he’s having some medical issues. One day he was the strongest guy on the team and the next, he could barely get out of bed. There’s a history of heart problems in his family. His mother took him home to get the proper attention. The team misses him. I miss him. He’s probably the best friend I ever had.”

“You know he really…cares about you.”

“I know. We talked things out. I told him I wasn’t interested in taking the friendship any further. He understood. He’s a great guy despite being gay, bisexual or whatever he is.” He looked at Edwin. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to imply there’s anything wrong with being gay.”

Edwin laughed. “Just the fact you said gay instead of fag is enough for me.” Both men chuckled.

Drew hesitated for a moment then looked into Edwin’s eyes again, “He got so sick so quickly, part of me wondered if someone was doing something to him.”

“Drew, you have to know I would never do anything like that again.”

“But what about the future you?”

“I destroyed the disc in our timeline which is his past. So if it doesn’t exist in the past, it can’t exist in the future. The future me doesn’t have it any longer.”

“You really destroyed it?” Drew asked wanting to believe.

Edwin put his small hand on Drew’s corded forearm, “Yes, it’s gone forever. You have nothing to fear from it or me, any version of me. I swear this to you.”

“What about someone else? The Mayan culture was around for hundreds of years and spread out over thousands of square miles. There’s got to be more than one of those disc things. Then there’s the Aztecs and other ancient cultures. They all believed in the dark gods and magic of some kind.” Drew spoke quickly.

“Drew…Drew I can only speak for myself. But I think it’s very unlikely.”

The big athlete exhaled. His whole body seemed to relax. He wiped his face with his hand. It appeared he had a dagger hanging over him now. “Sorry, I just don’t think I could go through that again.”

“Don’t’ worry, you are going to be a very sexy old man one day.” Edwin joked. Drew laughed. “Have you been reading up on the Mayans?”

“Not really, Coach Winters. Evan Winters, that was the name of the strength coach I mentioned before. He knew everything about the Mayans. He spent a lot of time in Mexico working on a special project. He said he had completed it some time ago. But a set back occurred recently. He came to Wabash to follow up on something he lost here. It was strange, for someone so young he told stories like he’d been around for a hundred years. He joked that he had an old soul.” A chill went through Edwin. “He was really incredible. He reminded me of my dad.”

“Is Coach Winters gone?” Edwin asked anxiously.

“Yes, he left the week after Rich got sick.” Edwin rubbed his forehead. He’s felt unsteady. Drew noticed him becoming paler, “Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine.” Edwin decided not to share his suspicions with Drew. He had no proof. Rich did tell him his father died from a heart condition at an early age. And as he told Drew earlier, the chance of something mystical happening again was very unlikely. Drew had been through enough. Edwin steadied himself and forced a smile. ”I heard you’ve started modeling.”

“Yeah, it’s all getting a little crazy. I only did it to pay all the medical bills my mom got stuck with when I was…sick.” Both men ran out of things to say. They had shared something that no one could understand. They were like soldiers that survived a brutal war. The horrible memories bonded them together, but kept them apart at the same time. “Well, I guess this is goodbye. I’m glad we got to talk.” Drew put his hand on Edwin’s shoulder. “I hope you are happy.”

“I am.”

“It shows. You look good.” Drew was being sincere and Edwin knew it.

Edwin smiled. “I wish you nothing but happiness too, Drew.” The athlete smiled and turned away. Edwin watched him board to the Wabash bus. He waved as it pulled away. Cory was standing waiting. Edwin smiled. He knew dinner was going to be a painful inquisition. But there would be laughter too. Seeing Drew again brought Edwin’s old life to a close. Seeing Cory brought new hope for a better future.