Best Served Cold

"One... two..." Anticipation strained Coach Jessup's voice as he called out the reps.

I watched with hope as Brody Lancaster's arms started to tremble beneath the barbell. His spotter, a huge lineman named Andre, edged forward, just in case. Veins writhed beneath the skin of Brody's arms, coiling over the savage striations of his triceps as the weight started up a third time. Hope chilled into a cold block in the pit of my stomach as the rep neared completion.

"Three," Jessup said. His broad, lined face was as red as Brody's, though he was only crouching by the bench and not currently engaged in benching three hundred and seventy-five pounds.

I wanted Brody to fail. I wanted to watch his arms give out and need to be saved by his spotter. Hell, I wanted to see that weight stack fall and crush his windpipe, after what that bastard had done.

But none of that happened. Instead, Brody somehow managed to force the weight back up off of his chest, higher and higher, until he completed his fourth rep and set the barbell back into the uprights. Cheers shook the weight room as he lay on his back, pumped, thick pectorals heaving.

"All right, everyone. Good work, Lancaster. Show's over. Hit the showers," Coach Jessup said. Almost as an afterthought, he glanced at me. "Not you, Styles. Stick around for a sec."

I hung back, not meeting my teammates' eyes as they filed out of the room. Although I studiously avoided looking at any of them, I couldn't help but notice the way Brody invaded my space as he brushed past me. That smug son of a bitch was the last one to leave, a hard, white smile plastered across his face.

"You wanted to see me, Coach?" I asked after the door creaked shut behind Brody.

"Have a seat," he said, gesturing to the bench. It was still slick with sweat, but I knew better than to object. I sat down and looked up at him.

"What do you think about Lancaster?"

"Brody's a good player," I said. "Great for a sophomore."

"Making good progress, isn't he," Jessup said.

Coach had a blunt, honest face, lined and tanned by too many years in the sun. His coarse features and guileless eyes hid none of his feelings well. Those eyes, pale blue and bloodshot, darted around the room as if unwilling to settle on my face.

"Great progress," I said, trying not to sound bitter. "He's getting quicker on the field, better at seeing the plays, and his calls are getting more solid all the time. And his strength--well, that's obvious. He's getting better all the time. He's an excellent backup quarterback."

"Right," he said. "Of course. And how do you feel you've been moving along?"

"I think I know where this is going, Coach. Brody's good, but I'm better. I'm bigger and faster than he is, I'm stronger than he is, and I keep this team winning."

Jessup nodded. "Grant, I'll be straight with you. You're the sort of quarterback a coach would kill for. You've got all the skills, the speed, the instincts, and then you add in the fact that you're pushing 6'4 and built like a brick wall--I'm lucky to have one of you. But then I look at Lancaster. He's not as tall as you are, not as big, not as strong, but he's been pushing himself since freshman year and he's catching up. By the time he's a senior, well."

"Coach, I'm still the best you've got," I said, my face heating.

"You're the best I've got for now. But I've got you for the upcoming season, and then you're gone. Brody Lancaster's around here for the upcoming season and two more."

"So what are you saying? You want to replace me as starting quarterback?"

Coach Jessup looked up at me. "No, no. Of course not. As it stands, you're still my best option. And I want to see Charlie Grant, senior and star quarterback, leading this team for one last season. But I'm telling you, Grant, you need to stay ahead of Lancaster. He's been narrowing the lead you have on him, strength and speedwise, day by day. I want you to tell me you're going to work to stay in the lead."

"I will, Coach," I said. "I promise."

When Coach finally let me leave, I stumbled off to the showers, feeling none of the relief that should have been buoying my spirits. I was still the starting quarterback. The fact that Coach Jessup was even considering changing things sent a cold spike of fear through me, followed by rage that my replacement would be Brody fucking Lancaster. I should have felt energized by the fact that I still had the chance to save my position, but the fact that it was even in question filled me with rage.

That rage was still burning hot in my chest as I stripped off my clothing at my locker. All but a few members of the team had showered up and gone home, and even the few stragglers were thinning out by the time I got out of my workout clothes. On the way to the showers, I checked myself out in one of the bathroom mirrors.

I might have felt like things were falling apart for me, but the truth was that I'd never looked better. Standing at 6'3 and a half, I was a towering specimen of manhood. Sweat dampened my hair and enhanced its natural curls, the raven darkness of them contrasting vividly with my bright green eyes. Women liked those even more than they liked my Romanesque nose, thin lips, or sparkling white teeth. I personally though my best feature was my squared jaw, dusted with just the right amount of thick stubble.

But looks could only get you so far in life. I'd earned my position on the team by turning my body into a miraculous machine, and it showed. Two big traps framed the thick column of muscle that was my neck, and to either side of them, striated deltoids like twin softballs lent breadth to my already broad shoulders. My pecs jumped and twitched as I leaned on the sink before me. I was proudest of those, as I'd always had trouble getting my chest to grow. Long hours of cardio kept me lean enough to showcase every rippling brick of a hard six-pack, while the muscles of my hips formed a tantalizing 'v' that pointed down beneath the towel I wore to the thick bulge beneath, one that was impossible to ignore.

I worked that out, too, often, moreso now that I wasn't seeing Amy any more.

Satisfied that I was still the alpha male of this team, I swaggered into the showers. They were still on, and billowing clouds of steam filled them, obscuring the interior. I slipped off my towel and stepped inside, only then realizing that I wasn't alone.

"What's up, Charlie?" Brody's voice rang out through the fog.

"I'm not here to chat," I said, turning away from him. I turned on the shower, and hot water cascaded over my muscled body, the warmth leaching the aches from my body.

He laughed. "That's no way to treat a teammate, bro."

His physique materialized out of the fog. We both had the long-limbed, hard-muscled look common to quarterbacks, but that was where the resemblance ended. His hair was spiked and auburn and his eyes were golden brown. Even standing as straight as he could, he was a couple of inches shy of my impressive height. I'd seen him in the showers often enough to know that he was an inch or so behind me in other places as well. The only thing he might have had on me was his model-like good looks. Smooth skin, pouty lips, a tan that made his body look like it was cast from rich gold. I could see why a girl would be in to him, if she was in to pretty boys.

"Don't fucking talk to me," I said, a low growl of warning.

He threw his hands up in an expression of mock supplication. "Whoah there, chief. I didn't realize you were in a bad mood. Just thought you might want to congratulate me on my bench press."

"Why would I--" I clamped my jaw shut around the words and turned away, hoping he would get the picture before he made me do something I would regret.

"I mean, I know it's nothing compared to the four hundred you're maxing now, but I've put forty pounds onto my bench this summer. I bet I break four hundred in a month. Hey, how long has it been since you've gone up in weight?"

I clenched my fists at my sides. "You done?"

"Here I am, just trying to be friendly, and you're shutting me down at every turn," Brody said in a mocking tone. "No wonder Amy cheated on you."

Anger blinded me. I rounded on him so quickly that he didn't have a chance to respond. One of my hands shot out, lightning fast, and closed around his neck. With all my strength, I slammed him against the tiled wall of the shower. A whoosh of breath escaped his lungs and he wheezed around my hand. I wanted to lift him off the ground, for emphasis, but I could tell he was just a bit too heavy for that.

"You talk about her again, and I'll fucking kill you," I said. "Is that understood?"

He choked out something inaudible, eyes full of vitriol. He struggled against my grip, but I was too strong for him. A rush of unexpected heat shot to my groin, and I felt myself starting to plump up. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a similar reaction from Brody's crotch. I told myself it was totally natural, just two guys getting a little excited from the hormones and chemicals pulsing through our veins.

I tightened my grip. "Did you understand me or not?"

His struggles slowed and stilled. At last, he nodded.

I let him go, and he fell into a gasping heap on the floor. I turned back to my shower, not even sparing him a glance. "Good, then get the hell out of here. I want to shower in peace."

He slinked out of the showers, and I began soaping up. I have no idea how long I spent under the cascading hot water, adrenaline making my hands shake and my heart pound. My hands traveled down to my half-hard cock, bringing it to full alertness in seconds, and I began to flog the eight and a half inches of thick, fat meat for all it was worth. I came in seconds, splattering the wall with my load.

By the time I shut off the water, my hands were wrinkled and I was in the mood for a nap. I made my way back to my lockers. Brody was nowhere to be seen.

It took me even longer to get back to my room. San Cristobal State is a big school with more space than most colleges would want. You would think they could have found a better place to build a university than some forested hills in the approximate middle of nowhere. Instead, the builders had toughed out the unforgiving terrain, erecting buildings on what flat ground they could find and stitching the whole campus together with vast staircases. God, I hated those staircases.

When I reached my dorm, I threw open the door, walked right past my roommate, Kevin, and hurled myself onto my bed. He barely noticed at first, being engaged in typing something at his computer at a million words per minute. It took a minute or two before the typing faltered and stopped.

"What's wrong?" Kevin's voice did not sound concerned, merely inquisitive.

I turned around to find him inspecting me like a bug under a magnifying glass. He was short, skinny, and at least half Asian, though I'd never asked what descent. His eyes were almond-shaped, a fact made more obvious by the thick glasses he wore. In his overlarge orange t-shirt and blue jeans, it was almost easy for me to forget that he was a mega-genius with designs for world domination.

"Nothing," I said.

"The way you say 'nothing,' it sounds like 'something,'" he said.

I rolled over on my back with a sigh. "It's that asshole Brody."

"The one who slept with your girlfriend?"

"Kevin," I warned.

"I guess that answers the question. So what's the matter?"

I sighed. "It's like he's trying to takeaway everything important to me. Amy, my position, my status with the guys..."

"Correct me if I'm wrong, but he's still a good way from beating you out as starting quarterback. I'm not good with football, but as I understand these things, you're the best shot the team has at a winning season."

"Yeah, for now. But he just keeps getting better. He's progressing by leaps and bounds, and I'm kind of treading water."

Kevin gave me an inscrutable look and turned back to his keyboard. He started banging away again while I stared up at the ceiling. I thought about Amy, how I'd told her never to call me again after I'd found out about her cheating with Brody. I wished I hadn't done that. She would have felt good next to me right then. I was so absorbed in my thoughts that I almost didn't notice that Kevin had stopped typing again.

"So why don't you do something about it?"

I shook my head. "I'm doing everything I can. I'm cramming myself full of protein, working out harder than ever, and I'm just at a plateau."

"I mean, why don't you do something about Brody?"

"Like what?"

Kevin spun around in his chair, looking for all the world like a Bond villain. All he needed was a cat. "I'm talking about sabotage."

"I'm not going to break his legs or something, man. That would be crazy, and I'd go to jail."

"What if it was something undetectable, that couldn't be traced back to you?"

"Like what?"

My roommate leaned forward, excitement glittering in his dark eyes. "I've been working on something in the biochem lab. It's a nasty little mixture that I came up with. Cannibalizes their skeletal muscle tissue, makes them weaker. Should cause their bones to shrink down a bit, and that's not the only thing that shrinks. It's like sending someone through puberty in reverse. Should work slowly enough that by the time he knows what's happening, it'll be too late. Besides, it's not like anyone has an antidote."

"Why would you make something like that?" I asked, aghast.

"Um, hello," he said, putting a hand on his chest. "Evil genius."

"I can't do that," I said, but I was already thinking of the satisfaction I'd get from looking down at Brody in the gym, watching him struggle to lift weights he'd been managing with ease.

Kevin shrugged. "Suit yourself. He didn't fuck my girlfriend."

And that was how I ended up out in front of the biochem building the following Monday, well before sunrise. Kevin had a key card, but he insisted on going in alone. He had figured that anyone watching the security cameras would wonder why one of the big jocks from the football team was accompanying his undersized roommate to the lab. He met me outside, clutching a tiny test tube full of clear liquid in his hand.

"You just need to get it into something he's drinking," he said. "It's flavorless and odorless, so he shouldn't be able to tell that something's off."

"How long will it take to work?"

"The effects will last for a few days," Kevin said. "At least, they did on the mice."

"All right, man. You sure this isn't going to kill him?"

Kevin shrugged. "Oh, keep it cold. It's not very stable. You don't want it to denature."

"Right," I said. "That would be bad."

I ended up keeping the stuff in my gym bag, carefully protected by some wadded up tissues. We had practice out on the field that day. I played what might have been the best scrimmage of my life, my spirits bolstered by the fact that my alpha dog status on the team would soon be secured. The hot sun beat down on my back as I called play after play, running harder, throwing longer, and thinking more clearly than I had in weeks.

During one of our breaks, I noticed that Brody had left his water bottle out on the bleachers. I hurried over to my gym bag and fished out the vial. It was warm in my hand from the sunlight that had been baking my bag. The rest of the team was too busy milling around and talking with each othe to notice as I sneaked over to Brody's water and dumped the contents of the vial in. Smirking to myself, I threw the vial away.

He grabbed himself a drink at the next break.

I was a little more distracted for the rest of practice. I kept watching for some sign that Kevin's miracle elixir was taking effect. Every time he threw the ball, I expected it to fall short. Whenever he ran, I kept hoping I'd see his endurance start to flag. Neither happened.

When the practice was over, Coach Jessup dismissed the team and called us both over. He congratulated us both on our speed, criticized a few calls, and laid out a few plans for tomorrow's weight training session. I was so busy nodding along that I didn't notice the look of concern building on his face until he turned, abruptly, to Brody.

"You all right, son?"

Brody nodded. "Yeah, just a little dizzy," he said.

Excitement flared in me. Sweat dripped from Brody's brow. That was normal enough after such a strenuous practice. The distant look in his eyes and the flush to his cheeks was not.

"You boys hit the showers," Coach said. "Get some rest, Lancaster."

We walked in silence to the showers. Brody did not, for once, have a taunt or a knowing smirk on his lips. I figured that Kevin's stuff had to be taking effect. Or perhaps that was wishful thinking, and maybe it was just the memory of me taking him down yesterday that kept his mouth shut.

He kept quiet even as we went to our lockers and stripped off our filthy gear. I got into the showers first. My heart pounded with anticipation as Brody's footsteps resounded off the tiles behind me, and another of the shower heads turned on.

I lathered up, drawing shallow breaths so I could listen over the pounding of my heart in my chest. Every second stretched into forever. I found myself washing my chest for a third time. That was when I heard it.

A soft grunt echoed through the showers. I stiffened with surprise. Brody grunted again, this time louder.

"Are you all right?" My voice shook.

He didn't answer. I turned around to find him, stark naked, holding himself up with a white-knuckled grasp on the shower valve. A spasm went through his body. He lost his grip and sunk to his knees, trembling.

"Fuck," he moaned.

My pulse leapt into overdrive. I had no idea what to do. I didn't think the little bit of CPR that I knew would do Brody any good if Kevin's stuff killed him. I weighed my options. I could try and drag him out of the showers, but that might just injure him. Frozen by indecision, I stood there, watching.

Another seizure traveled down his spine and shook his limbs. He shook all over, his eyes distant. But to my shock, it wasn't pain that I saw on his face, but pleasure. I glanced down to see him fully erect, all seven inches of thick cock engorged and twined with veins. I told myself it was a sympathetic reaction that sent blood rushing to my own bigger dick.

I wasn't sure if Brody was supposed to be shrinking or not. Kevin said that it would take a while. I watched for some sign that his muscles were getting smaller. All I saw was tiny spasms traveling through his muscles, making them pulse and jump as if he was flexing them. That and his cock, so full of blood that it had turned a dark purple, bouncing up and down on his wet abs, drooling thick strings of precum.

He let out a roar. Cum geysered from his cock, spurting over his chest, his face, the wall behind him. It was like a pressure valve had been turned. As his orgasm rocketed to a moaning conclusion, the spasms going through his body slowed and lessened in intensity.

"Fuck," he said again, breathless. He looked up at me.

"Holy shit," I said.

It was as if my words broke the spell on him. His eyes sharpened and narrowed. He scrabbled to his feet, still covered in spunk.

"Dude, you can't tell anyone that that just happened," he said.

I backed away. "No worries there. You should probably rinse off," I said, my voice emotionless with shock at what I'd just seen. Had Kevin known about that little side effect?

Brody didn't say anything to me as he finished washing up, or when he passed me out in the locker room. I dressed in silence, my mind whirling. I'd sabotaged one of my teammates. An asshole who had stolen my girlfriend, yes, but I'd given him some experimental drug. I sure as hell couldn't tell him. I couldn't tell anyone. If he showed up tomorrow looking like a famine victim, or worse, didn't show up at all, I'd have to live with the guilt of what I'd done.

I needn't have worried. Brody showed up to weight training the next day looking as good as usual. In fact, I'd say he was glowing with health. By contrast, I hadn't slept well, either due to Kevin's incessant typing or to the guilt weighing down on me. I barely acknowledged him as he swept past me, his customary smirk back firmly in place.

"Chest day," he said. "You ready?"

"Always," I said.

We warmed up. Coach worked his way through the roster seemingly at random, and we engaged in the ritual of determining the team's bench press maxes. There were a few guys stronger than I was, but they were mostly linemen. When it came to my turn, I had the guys load up with my max of 400, then added a five to either side.

"Good man," Coach Jessup said. "Push yourself, Grant!"

I settled myself on the bench. When I was sure my foundation was perfect, I gripped the bar above me and pressed up. You wouldn't think that ten pounds would make much of a difference, but my wrists and arms, expecting a lower weight, protested as I lifted the barbell off of the uprights.

I made it through the first two reps before my strength began to flag. The cheers of the team dissolved into a dull roar around me, inaudible beneath the drumming of my heartbeat. My chest and triceps burned, and I heard myself letting out a loud growl. Three reps. As soon as the bar touched my chest again, I knew that I wouldn't make a fourth.

It didn't stop me from trying. My arms trembled. My head felt like it might explode from all the blood rushing to it. I growled louder. Suddenly, the weight began to rise. It was only when I'd almost placed it back into the uprights that I saw the hand of my teammate spotting me. I cursed under my breath.

"Good try, Grant," Jessup said from somewhere in the crowd. "You'll get it next week."

Brody's turn came. He lay down on the bench with three hundred eighty five loaded up, ten pounds more than his record from last week. This time, I had no chance to hope for him to fail, it was over so fast. He powered through four perfect reps with ease. In the silence afterward, he sat up on the bench.

"Hey, load it up to four hundred," he said.

He only made it two reps at four hundred, but the look of satisfaction on Coach Jessup's face was a blow enough to my ego. I held my tongue as the rest of the team went through the ritual, none of them showing anywhere near Brody's progress. As I did, I found myself looking at him--really looking at him.

By now, Kevin's potion should have worked. If anything, Brody looked better than ever. I told myself that it was my imagination, or the pump, that made his muscles look a little bigger, a little harder than yesterday.

But when we were filing out of the weight room, he ended up walking next to me. We glanced at each other, and that's when I noticed. Brody was three inches shorter than I was, but now my eyes were only a little higher than his. I told myself then that I had to be wrong, that his shoes just had thicker soles than usual.

There was no way Brody Lancaster was growing. Right?

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