Best Served Cold 2

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"It's possible," said Kevin.

The hand holding my beer tightened involuntarily until the bottle almost broke. "What? You said it would shrink him, not--"

"Relax, would you? I'm just saying that it's possible. Entirely implausible, though. You followed all of my instructions, right?"

Kevin sat at his computer desk, of course. He was wearing an oversized sweater that hid his slender frame. If I hadn't seen him up and about occasionally, I would have guessed that he was permanently fused to his rolling chair. His back was to his computer. That had been my doing. I'd bought drinks and insisted that he talk with me face-to-face. He had only sipped a little of his beer, but a red flush already suffused his cheeks.

"Of course I did," I snapped.

"Then you must have been seeing things."

I got another beer from the mini-fridge and took a swig. I had hoped the beer would help to calm me down, but it had only stripped away the tenuous control I had over my nerves. "Maybe. But shouldn't he be a 98-pound weakling by now?"

"He's my first human subject. It may be taking longer than with the mice, due to metabolic rate and a thousand other factors. And no, he'd probably end up closer to my size," Kevin said.

"Or maybe it's not going to work at all," I said.

Kevin's eyes glittered. "What do you mean?"

My heart skipped a beat at the force of his glare. "Nothing," I said, after a moment's hesitation.

"Are you suggesting that my drug didn't work?" His voice was cold, but I could hear the fire raging underneath.

"No," I said.

"Oh, good. Because I slipped some into your drink."

I exploded to my feet, panic lifting my shout into a shriek. "What?"

"Just a drop or two. You'll probably only lose an inch or two."

"No," I said. My knees felt weak. Was the room getting larger around me?

"I thought you said it didn't work," Kevin said.

"You have to give me the antidote," I said.

"To what?"

I couldn't breathe. "To what you gave me!" I gasped.

"I didn't give you anything," Kevin said. "Relax."

Flabbergasted, I took a couple of steps back. "What?"

"Come on, Jolly Green," he said. "When would I have had a chance to slip anything into your beer? I was just annoyed that you didn't think I knew what I was doing."

"You sonofabitch," I said. "I almost had a heart attack."

Kevin smirked, turned around, and set his beer down. He started tapping away at his keyboard. It was as if I had simply ceased to exist to him.

Feeling so insignificant set my blood afire, made it throb in my temples and burn in my cheeks. My face was probably as red as Kevin's. The guy was practically half my size! I could break him in half if I wanted to, I told myself.

I looked down at my body. I was wearing a tank top that showed off the solid thickness of my chest, not to mention the tanned musculature of my arms. There was no reason for me to be afraid of my roommate. Or anyone, really.

But I needed him. I'd made a devil's bargain with Kevin, and now I had to see it through. I sat back on my bed and lifted the beer to my lips, but I wasn't thirsty any more. After setting it down, I looked at my roommate's back.

"Sorry," I said.

He kept typing. I watched words flash across his screen, green on black. He was probably coding something.

"It's all right," he said, at last. "I'd actually been thinking that maybe I got the dosage wrong."

"What does that mean?"

"It means it probably didn't work after all," he said. "The changes ought to have been visible by that long after exposure, if they were going to happen at all. I suppose I'm sorry too."

I blinked. It might have been the first time Kevin had ever apologized to me. Hell, to anyone. I leaned back and put my hands behind my head, gazing up at the featureless ceiling.

"He couldn't be growing, right? I mean, that's crazy talk."

He turned slightly. "Not necessarily. I have a great deal of faith in my work, but a lot could have happened to denature the drug, and that could have produced some unexpected side effects. Are you sure you even mixed it with water?"

"Yes, I think."

"Science demands specificity," he said, scowling.


"You may have very well created a monster through your incompetence. If the drug isn't working as expected, I have no way to predict how long it will continue working on his body. Fortunately, I have a way for you to fix it."

He got out of his chair and went to the mini-fridge. Nestled behind the bottles of beer was another stoppered test tube with clear fluid in it. He handed it to me with a wicked gleam in his eyes.

"You want me to try again?" I asked.

"Don't you want to?"

The chill of the vial burned into my palm. "Yes, but I don't know when I'll have the chance again."

"I'd suggest sooner rather than later. Wouldn't want it to destabilize again."

"You mean--"

"You'd better get going right now," Kevin said. "Hurry."

I don't know why I let my little roommate rush me out of the room, but somehow I ended up out in the cold of night, clutching a six-pack of beer and the stuff of Brody Lancaster's downfall. My heart sang at getting another chance to bring down my rival, but I was terrified that I might screw things up again. I'd been so careful the first time around.

Gripping the vial in one sweaty hand, I made my way toward Brody's place. It took most of the way for me to come up with a plausible lie for visiting him in the evening. I'd been over once or twice for parties, but Brody and I never hung out one-on-one.

He lived alone in a two-story townhouse just off campus. He had proudly boasted on numerous occasions that his parents paid the rent so he could 'focus on studying.' It surprised me when pounding music and raucous laughter didn't greet my approach.

Instead, the tall stucco building stood silent, with only a car in the driveway and a light on in the living room window to tell me that someone was home. My mood began to brighten. If he was alone, it would be easy. Easy-ish, anyway.

I still hesitated before knocking.

With a shaking hand, I shoved the stoppered test tube into my pocket before rapping on the door three times. A muffled shout came from the other side. Heavy footsteps lumbered toward the door. It swung open.

Cold terror shot through me as I looked up into Brody's eyes. He towered over me, his muscled form silhouetted by the lights of the living room behind him. I realized a split second later that the step I stood upon was several inches below the floor of his home.

"Grant," he slurred.

Alcohol had soured his breath. His eyes were bleary. The look on his face twisted into a drunken sneer.


"What do you want?"

"Can I come in? I brought beer."

"Whatever." He rolled his eyes, but stepped aside to let me pass.

As I was brushing past him, I couldn't help but measure myself against his body. Beneath a tank top that looked about ready to burst at the seams, his body looked flushed and pumped despite the fact that our workout had been hours ago. I reassured myself in the fact that I was still definitely taller than he was. Maybe I had been wrong earlier. But then a part of me noted, absently, that he wasn't wearing shoes, and I was. I gripped the vial in my pocket.

The television flashed with commercials, but the sound was down. I sat and watched it absently. My eyes were on Brody the whole time.

He pushed by me with a little more force than was strictly polite and sat on the couch next to me. I was uncomfortably aware of the heat washing off of him and the lack of space between us. He had an expectant look on his face. His sneer sharpened into a drunkard's grin.

"You come over here for a reason?"

I shook my head. "Just wanted to hang."


He picked up a remote and turned up the television's volume. It was just loud enough that I could hear it, but soft enough that we could talk over it. Once he was done, he set the remote down and folded his arms over his chest. Out of the corner of my eye, the muscles bunching along the lengths of his limbs looked large, solid, and striated. For the first time ever, I felt a little intimidated by Brody Lancaster.

"Nice job at the gym today," I said. My throat was desert-dry.

He grinned. "Yeah," he said. "I've felt amazing, ever since... since what happened in the showers yesterday." He didn't seem the least bit embarrassed about the fit he'd had, now. "It's like there's been this river of energy pouring into me, making me stronger. I know it sounds crazy."

"A little."

"But you know what the best part is?"

"What?" I asked softly.

"I'm pretty sure it's still happening."

"What do you mean?"

"Check it out, man." Brody shifted in his seat, and the hardness of his leg pressed against mine.

He turned toward me and raised his right arm between us. Slowly, his eyes shining with his buzz and his teeth gleaming white, he bent his arm into a flex. A ball of muscle exploded out of his arm, looking solid as concrete, bearing a split head and a thick blue vein down the center.

"What--I don't--" I mumbled, unable to take my eyes off of the muscle.

"It's grown. A whole inch since earlier. Feel it, man." He leaned closer to me.

I shied away, but there was only so much space on the couch. I was uncomfortably aware of how close he was, and how far we were from the door.

I cleared my throat. "I'm good."

"Feel it," he repeated.

One shaking hand rose before I knew what I was doing. My hand touched the skin of his arm, jerked back at the incredible heat of his flesh, then grasped again with more confidence. Even with my long fingers, I was unable to span the entire height of his biceps. The muscle was harder, even, than it had looked. It was like someone had poured concrete into the mold of a perfect human biceps.

Brody groaned. A spasm rippled through his body, one I would not have noticed if we had not been skin to skin, and the biceps surged slightly larger beneath my hand, larger and harder. Something else grew, too, a noticeably lump that was beginning to creep down the leg of my rival's gym shorts.

"I should go," I said, getting to my feet.

Brody stood as well. Jesus, had he gotten taller? He was certainly broader than I recalled. "Thought you wanted to hang, man."

I backpedaled toward the door, but Brody's strides closed the gap between us easily. He blocked my path. A fevered light gleamed in his eyes, making them shine like molten gold.

"I'm going," I said, my voice a warning growl.

He began to laugh. "You're scared," he said.

I tried to push past him, but he surprised me with a sudden shove that hurled me against the wall. He pressed up against me just as another seizure wracked his body. Fabric popped and cried as his tank top began to give way. His eyes rose slightly, almost meeting mine. Something hard and huge surged in his shorts.

"Get off me!"

"You're terrified of me, because you know what's happening," he said, his breath hot against my ear. "I'm getting bigger and you can't do anything to stop it. How long before you're just my little bitch, Grant?"

I had to push him away. My hands scrabbled for purchase, but all they found anywhere was hard, slick muscle and tearing fabric. Brody forced his body against mine, his cock like an iron bar against my leg. I shoved at him, managing to get him away from me for a second. One of the straps of his tank top gave way with a snap, and his pecs surged into view, huge and thick and dusted with golden hair.

"Dude, what the fuck is wrong with you?" I rasped.

"It's like dogs, man," he said through gritted teeth, grappling with me. I still had the slightest advantage in strength, but my muscles were flagging, and his only seemed to be growing stronger. "You were the alpha dog, but you're going down. You know how dogs establish dominance?" He thrust his hips against mine.

Any thoughts of turning the tide against Brody were forgotten. Kevin had been right. I had created a monster. I had to get away before he got even bigger.

Panic lent me a surge of energy. I slipped free from his grip and darted toward the door, throwing it open. Cool, fresh air assaulted me as I burst out of Brody's place. His laughter followed me out into the night as I ran, stumbling, away. I turned only once to see if he was following me, and the sight of his hulking form silhouetted in the door, eyes maniacal, only lent my feet more speed.

Kevin would know what to do, I told myself as I ran back toward my dorm. He would have some way to fix this. He was smart, damn it! That had to count for something.

But I didn't go back, not immediately. Instead, I wandered around campus aimlessly, telling myself that I was clearing my head. Really, I just didn't want to face the possibility that my roommate had no help for me, that there was nothing to do but watch Brody transform into a living muscle god.

I finally went home around midnight. My heart leapt in my chest when I saw the door hanging from its hinges. My first thought was that Brody had gotten there before me, and had done something to my tiny roommate. But there was no one in the room. Not even Kevin. Just torn fabric on the floor. His computer monitor was off for the first time in living memory.

I bent down to take a look at fabric scraps. They were the remnants of clothes. In fact, the bit I was holding looked like a part of Kevin's sweater.

The monitor flickered on, and Kevin's face stared out from a window on the screen. His face was flushed, and he looked exactly as I had left him, except that he was sweating as if he had just run a race. He waved at the camera and began to speak.

"Hey there, roommate. By now you've probably noticed that I'm not around, either because I've managed to kill myself or because, well, it worked. Everything you said earlier got me thinking, and I had to try. I had to, you know? I mean, no one wants to be like me. Small, weak, scrawny."

He let out a grunt, and threw back his head, jaw clenching to hold back a wash of pain. In that moment, he seemed to surge out in every direction. His features became more defined, his shoulders broader, his spine straighter in his chair.

"Looks like it's working. But fuck, it hurts. Still, price of progress, right? Should have listened to me. Should have kept it cold. Who would have thought it would do this?"

Another rippled traveled through his body, and muscles surged forward, filling his sweater. Even with the garment still covering his form, I would have confused him for an amateur bodybuilder. He stood, and it was clear he had grown not just in musculature, but height.

"If I know you well, and I do, you'll probably find some way to fuck things up with Brody. So I'm really sorry I put you in this position, but I don't think I'm going to be around to help you with--unghhh--with fixing things this time. Hope you understand. Good luck, man. It's about time to take over the world."

His growth surged again, and this time the results were incredible. Tanned, ripped muscle exploded from beneath the sweater, tearing it in a dozen places at once. His pants simply exploded as muscle blossomed down his legs, fabric falling away in ragged bits to reveal quads that would put mine to shame. And his cock, barely concealed by the ruins of his briefs, would have given most Clydesdales a run for their money.

I shut the computer off with a shaking hand just as the nude beast that had been my roommate started flexing his newgrown muscles. The last glimpse was his naked charge toward the door, a look of total euphoria on his face.

Lamely, I stared at the broken door, thinking only that someone was going to have to report that to maintenance.

To be continued