Description Working his checkout line on Halloween, Brady, to his dismay, spots his least favorite person: Matt Lansing, the bully who’d tormented him for being short and gay in high school. If only someone would cut that jerk down to size!
|Updated||27 Oct 2017|
Brady bagged Mrs. Jiminez’s meagre groceries, making polite conversation as he did so. “Find everything you needed today, Mrs. J?” he asked, as he filled her canvas big with her selections—a box of saltines, seventeen large lemons, and a small white tin of seasoning with the strange brand name “Eye of Newt”. He suppressed a smile. He’d been working at Adderly Independent Foods, the cozy specialty grocery that looked like it had been here forever, long enough to know they stocked some pretty strange stuff you wouldn’t see at Safeway, or even Whole Foods.
“Oh yes, Brady,” Mrs. J affirmed primly. She was a handsome white-haired older woman, short even compared to the 5’5” Brady but straight-backed and confident, and always ready with a smile for Brady whenever she came in. Brady was always glad to return it. After his family had kicked him out he’d found himself imagining the store’s regulars as sort of extended family that stopped by to visit him every so often, and Mrs. J fit right in as the eccentric great aunt. Or the older cousin twice removed who showed up to family reunions riding the motorcycle she’d just bought on a whim, or with a cadre of hitchhikers in tow who’d accepted her invite to join her on the way to the Vancouver Festival of the Occult or something.
Brady handed her the bag with a smile. “Cooking up something special?” he teased.
“Oh yes,” she said again. “It is Halloween, after all,” she added with a wink.
Brady remembered the strange seasoning brand in her bag and laughed. “All you need now is toe of frog,” he said, going along with the joke.
“Oh, I have plenty of that,” she assured him. “Now the bat’s wool, that’s going to be—”
“Can I get some service here?” interrupted an officious voice behind him.
Mrs. J’s eyes flicked to the checkout line, and her face stilled. Brady was sad to see her playful expression fall away. Tossing her a quick, apologetic smile, he turned to help the next customer—and froze.
“Well, lookie here,” crooned Matt Lansing, and Brady had to suppress a groan. “If it isn’t Little Lady Brady.”
Brady scowled up at Matt, fighting an urge to unleash a litany of verbal abuse he knew would get him fired. He’d hoped to never see his high school nemesis, but here he was, grinning down at him like he’d discovered a bug he’d been just waiting to squash. He was as still tall and good-looking as always, looking trim in a jacket and tie, like a car salesman or someone whose job it was to make sure all the drones in their cubicles got all their reports in by 5 o’clock if they didn’t want to be on his shit list.
Deciding the quickest way to get this over with was to pretend his one-time bully was just another customer, he began ringing up Matt’s haul at light speed. “Find everything you needed today?” he asked mechanically, not looking up as he scanned a large salmon steak. It was all healthy food—fresh vegetables, rice, chicken fillets, fish. It didn’t surprise Brady much. Matt’s lean, towering body seemed as perfect now, from the brief glimpse he’d had before putting his head down and pushing through the transaction, as it had it four years ago, back in his hitherto idyllic junior year in high school, when he’d had that one look at the Matt Lansing in the locker room. Tall, rangy, buff and defined, dark hair cropped close, Matt was still damp from the showers and so hot Brady had wanted to lick him.
That one look. The look he’d been caught taking, dooming his miserable high school forever.
The weird thing was, there had been a moment—a second—where Matt’s deep, blue eyes had met his, and Brady had thought he’d seen… something. Matt had even mouthed his name with his full, wine-dark lips… Brady. But then it was gone, pushed down, drowned under Matt’s colossal jerkitude, and from that point on Matt’s mission in life was to make Brady’s life a living hell.
Apparently, nothing had changed in all that time—certainly not Matt’s willingness to be the biggest jackhole on the planet.
“I have now,” Matt answered smugly. “Man, I’m glad I decided to check this place out after all. Your selection is shit, but then I get to the checkout and who do I find but my favorite pipsqueak queer.” Brady gritted his teeth as he rang up a package of fresh mushrooms. “I always wondered what happened to Little Lady Brady,” Matt continued relentlessly. “I figured you’d gone off to some fag school. But here you are, wearing an apron… and serving me.” He snickered. “Just as it should be.”
Brady had just grabbed one of the heads of green-leaf lettuce he was buying as he said this, and he very nearly crushed it in his fist. With a supreme effort of will he placed the lettuce on the scale, pushing down his fury as best he could. What did people do to calm themselves in situations like this. Breathing exercises, that seemed to come up a lot in the thrillers and mysteries he liked to read. He tried drawing in breath through his nose and pushing it out in a regular rhythm. His mouth remained a hard, thin line. He moved through Matt’s purchases as quickly as he could, bagging as he went.
“Young man, I don’t appreciate you treating my friend with such flagrant cruelty,” Mrs. J said abruptly, and Brady started and looked up at her standing at the end of the register setup. He’d assumed Mrs. J had left after their transaction was done, but there she was just where she’d been when he’d turned away to face Matt, looking cold and forbidding.
Brady looked up at Matt, expecting to see the cold fury of a bully confronted, but to his surprise he was smiling at her, though it was a contemptuous smile, full of comfortable superiority. “That’s adorable,” he said, speaking to Brady even though his eyes were still on Mrs. J. His voice dripped with sarcasm. “You have a bodyguard… and it’s a little old lady. That’s… hilarious.”
Mrs. J’s eyes flashed. “You should treat your elders with respect, young man,” she said ominously.
Matt audibly scoffed. “You should mind your own business—ma’am,” he said. The way he said “ma’am,” Brady thought, he might as well have said the “bitch” he’d obviously meant it as.
Mrs. J regarded him shrewdly, then nodded, looking up at him with a grin smile. “So be it,” she said, and her tone was so dark and foreboding a chill ran up Brady’s spine. Matt frowned at her, but Mrs. J just turned away as if he merited no more of her attention and walked away, head held high.
Brady realized he’d gotten to the end of Matt’s purchases, thank god. “Fifty-four eighty-three,” he said with a glance at the register.
Matt turned his stormy expression on Brady. “Are you kidding me?” he bellowed. “What kind of prices do you have in this rip-off joint?”
Brady held his gaze with every fiber of steely determination he had left, hardening his expression. The worst part was that Matt was so beautiful, with bright blue eyes that would have sent Brady’s heart fluttering all by themselves—if he didn’t know how ugly the man was inside. “Fifty-four eighty-three,” he gritted out, willing to put up with no more shit from this consummate a-hole.
“Complete rip-off,” Matt muttered again as he fished out his wallet and swiped his card. “I’m almost tempted to never come back here,” he groused, eyeing Brady consideringly as he did so.
Please, yes. “That’s your prerogative,” Brady said steadily, still holding his gaze, mask in place.
Matt’s lips quirked. “Pre-rog-a-tive,” he sneered, not like someone who didn’t know the word, but as if Brady’s use of it confirmed that only undersized queers used outlandish words like that, out here in the real world, in regular conversation with a real man’s man like Matt. “See,” he said, “now if I don’t come back here, I won’t get to be entertained by Little Lady Brady.” He winked, and Brady’s stomach tightened so much he thought he might throw up the tea he’d had at the start of his shift.
Robotically, he pressed the buttons necessary to complete Matt’s purchase and thrust the receipt at him. “Have a great day,” he said acidly, all the while fervently wishing the man would fall down a manhole and never be seen again.
Matt was grinning now, knowing exactly how much he’d upset Brady. He took the receipt and gathered up his plastic bags. “See you around, pipsqueak,” he said, blue eyes laughing derisively at him. Then he turned away and walked unhurriedly out of the store. Normally with anyone that fine Brady would let himself watch their sexy ass as it undulated away, but Brady was so done with Matt.
He steadied himself and took a deep breath, looking up to see the plump young mother with a blond page-boy who’d been coming here a few months now. She offered him a sympathetic smile. “What a dick,” she said with conviction, and Brady couldn’t help but chuff out a surprised laugh. It would be hell if Matt really did decide to become a regular here just because he was a vindictive, sadistic prick—but at least he had the rest of his family. He smiled gratefully at her as he began ringing her up.
The next time he saw Matt wasn’t in the checkout line, though. It was the next Saturday, a pleasant, sunny November afternoon. Brady was on break, chilling outside the store with an older but very cool coworker, Steve, and they were deep in a debate about who was the most useless Doctor Who companion (he refused to accede to Steve’s stubbornly held claim that Dodo Chaplet was the “obvious choice”) when, once again, he heard that gruff, angry, gut-twisting voice behind him.
“What did you do?” Matt growled. Brady turned slowly to face him, ready to go tell him to fuck himself—but the words froze on his lips, and he gaped at the version of Matt he saw before him.
Matt had always been taller than him—not just by a few inches, but by a lot. Someone had told him once that Matt had been frustrated at ending his middle school growth spurt only two inches shy of the 6’6” he though would guarantee him stardom on the basketball team. His height had suited him. Tall and elegantly muscled, he’d always looked to Brady like an ancient Greek athlete—a discus or javelin thrower maybe, but from a remote city where the men grew a size larger than all the rest.
But now… Brady’s eyes must be playing tricks on him. He was used to Matt being over a foot taller than him, looming over him like a predator. But what he was seeing was a Matt that would have to put some effort into looming over anyone. He was still taller than Brady—almost everyone was. But the angle he was tilting to look up at Matt didn’t feel like the craning-up-to-stare-at-the-sky position he’d been in glaring up at Matt on previous occasions. It felt more like the usual difference in height been him and ordinary guys—like Steve, in fact. That couldn’t be right, though, because he knew for a fact that Steve was 5’11” thanks to the bored afternoon where they’d all compared driver’s licenses and Clarissa had called him on the claim to be 6 foot even on his.
But it wasn’t just Matt’s height that was making Brady feel like he was seeing things. Matt didn’t just look shorter, he looked as though he’d been… compressed. Before, Matt had been lanky and defined, but now the white Elysium Motors windbreaker he was wearing was taut across pecs a lot thicker than Matt had possessed only the week before. It was like he’d been shoved down in height but the mass was all still there, and the chunk of his 200 pounds that was no longer needed for height had been pushed into extra muscle, thickening him all over. His shoulders were bulging against the jacket as well—a comical contrast to the other end of the jacket where the bottom trim obviously hung lower than it should have and the sleeves were bunched at the wrists, his hands clearly free only because of the elastication in the cuffs at the end of the sleeves.
The jeans Matt showed of thighs a lot thicker than they were used to as well, filling out the denim tightly enough he wondered if Matt would have trouble pulling them off. The jeans cuffs were rolled up, too. That made Brady think of his mom buying pants for him and his brothers a size longer than they should, so they could grow into them (Brady had ended up with a final round of jeans and chinos he’d never grown into, before his mom had reluctantly agreed he wasn’t growing any more and starting him buying pants in the proper size), which was why Brady was wearing a crooked smile on his face when he lifted his gaze to meet Matt’s fiery blue glare again.
“Yeah, sure, laugh it up, pipsqueak,” he barked, taking a step closer as if to try to use what height advantage he still had. “Now, what are you going to do about it?”
Brady stared up at him. “What am I going to do about what?” he asked, taken aback.
“You stole five inches from me!” the enraged bully seethed. “The guys at the shop have been looking at me funny all week. I couldn’t even go in yesterday!”
Brady blinked at him. “So?” he said, defiantly. Matt wasn’t making any sense, but if he thought Brady cared about his stupid job and his no-doubt asshole buddies, he was sorely mistaken.
In a single, lightning move, Matt reached up and grabbed Brady’s dark navy jacket in both fists, shaking him a little. “I want them back!” he bellowed. His face was reddening fast.
Brady stared hard into those angry blue eyes, his brain spinning. Matt’s accusation that he had somehow stolen some of the bully’s height had finally penetrated, and the absurdity of it made him want to laugh in his face—and he was going to, until he thought of something even more delicious. “Wait, wait, wait,” he said, raising an eyebrow at the infuriated, cut-down-to-size ex-jock. “You… want me to give you five inches? Am I understanding that right?” He let his mouth twist into a slow smirk. “How badly do you want them?”
Matt’s handsome face had now gone completely red. He let go of Brady’s jacket with one hand, and Brady watched in fascination as he pulled the fist back, cranked and ready for a right cross that would probably knock him out cold. He could see the mass of muscle bunching in Matt’s upper arm, muscle the man had never had before. Shit, he thought, this is going to hurt.
Suddenly Steve shoved between them, breaking Matt’s hold on him. Brady took a step back in relief. He’d actually forgotten Steve was there for a minute. “Back off, douche nozzle,” Steve told Matt sternly.
Brady knew Steve was ex-army and could handle himself in a fight, and somehow Matt sensed it, too. He and Steve were definitely about the same height, somehow, and though Matt had maybe fifteen or twenty pounds of muscle on him he seemed to decide Steve was not to be underestimated. He raised his hands in submission, eyeing Steve warily as he fought to climb down from his rage. “I just want him to give back what he took from me,” he ground out.
“Which is what, according to you?” Steve challenged him.
Matt cut his eyes toward Brady. “He knows,” he said darkly.
“I didn’t take shit from you,” Brady said, moving up to stand beside to Steve.
Steve eyed Matt narrowly. “What makes you think it was Brady?” he asked.
Matt sneered at Brady. “He’s always been a weird little freak,” he said. “And last week, I gave him some shit and what he said back—I could fucking tell he was going to try to ruin my life.”
Brady gaped at him, but before he could object Steve asked dubiously, “What did he say?”
Matt had no answer to that, glaring silently at Brady. “I’ll tell you what I said,” Brady said triumphantly. “I said Have a great day.”
“There! There! See?” Matt said, jabbing a finger at Brady as if he’d just handed the ex-jock a signed confession of his vile misdeeds. “Listen to that! Hear the venom in that? He’s out to destroy me!”
Steve burned holes in Matt with his steely gaze, and Matt seemed to realize he was sounding like a crazy person. He tried direct appeal. “Brady,” he said, meeting his gaze with unexpected intensity. And again, just as he had four years before, Brady thought he caught a glimpse something he couldn’t quite recognize in those guarded blue eyes. “Please. If I promise not to… not to bug you, will you please put me back to normal?”
Brady met his gaze. “I have no idea what you’re talking about,” he said coldly. It was the truth, but Brady also knew it sounded like a heartless rebuke, and the thought of shutting Matt down gave Brady a little thrill inside.
Matt glared at him, nostrils flaring, and Brady felt an icy satisfaction at the sight. He seemed to be contemplating some kind of direct response, but Steve warned him off. “You heard him,” he said.
Matt started walking away backwards at first so he could keep his eyes on Brady. “This isn’t over,” he said predictably, before turning and loping off in the direction of a white, new-looking SUV. Matt climbed into it, revved the engine, and peeled out of the little parking lot.
Brady and Steve watched him go. After a while, Steve spoke. “What a dick,” he said with conviction. Brady laughed.
Another week had almost passed before Brady saw Matt again.
It was Friday night, close to eleven o’clock, and Brady had just rushed into the house he’d taken over from his mom when she’d retired to Arizona to get away from him, managing to get his trainers thoroughly sloshed in the relentless, chilly downpour that had been drenching everything for hours in the short run from the driveway to his front porch. He had just pulled his sodden shoes off and hung his raincoat on one of the coat-hooks by the door and was heading for the stairs to shed his wet socks and take a nice, warm shower when the doorbell rang.
Frowning, Brady turned back toward the door. He didn’t get visitors often, and surely no one would be out on a night like this. He opened the door and peered out into the night, belatedly flipping the porch light on from the switch by the door. He gasped.
Standing in front of him was a drowned rat that looked a lot like his nemesis, Matt—if Matt were his height and built like a world-class bodybuilder. Where once he’d been tall and rangy, this Matt Lansing was a short, fireplug of a man, with shoulders that looked almost too wide for anyone, a chest that stuck out so far he probably had trouble seeing his own shoes, pushing out the bedraggled white windbreaker far enough that the bottom cuffs only fell across his crotch instead of down around his legs. His thighs were so thick Matt had actually had to slit his jeans at the sides from hip to knee just to get them on.
He was also completely and thoroughly soaked, like he’d been walking in the rain for hours. When Brady’s incredulous stare wandered back up to meet Matt’s sad-looking eyes, Matt said, “It was a company car.”
So much tragedy in five words. Brady blinked at him. He still couldn’t quite take it all in. “Matt?” he said finally, as if he hadn’t truly recognized the man. Matt said nothing. He looked wrung out, though Brady had to admit that the few days’ worth of scruffy dark beard looked damn good on him.
A million questions battered at Brady’s mind, but somehow the one he asked was, “How did you find me?” Had he followed him home? But he couldn’t do that on foot, could he?
Matt shrugged his extra-thick shoulders. “Thought I’d try your mom’s house,” he said bleakly. Brady nodded dumbly.
Matt swallowed, and Brady watched his wet throat work. “Can I… come in?” he asked meekly.
Brady blinked at him a second. “Yeah!” he said, standing aside. “Of course. Come in.” He gestured Matt into the tiled foyer, glad for once that it wasn’t carpeted like the rest of the house. Matt moved in, looking tired and grateful to be out of the rain.
Brady shut the door, muffling the sound of the torrential storm. Matt stood there beleaguered in the middle of the foyer in his sodden, ill-fitting clothes, looking too beaten even to gather his thoughts. Without knowing why he was doing it, and without asking, Brady started removing Matt’s soppy windbreaker. Matt let him. “What are you doing here, Matt?” he asked quietly as he unzipped the jacket and started pulling it off Matt’s immense shoulders. He was wearing a white tee underneath, and between the shirt being soaked and Matt’s immense, squat musculature it looked tan everywhere but the seams and so painted on Brady wondered if he’d have to cut it off.
Matt didn’t answer right away. Brady kept working. “I was going to come over here and yell at you,” he admitted at last. “You know, make you fix things. But I’m just so… tired,” he said, sounding like he’d switched the final word for another at the last minute. Brady was working the sleeve off of Matt’s enormous right arm, but at this he looked up and met Matt’s eyes. Matt bit his lips, acknowledging the lie. “Okay, it’s not tired so much as… scared,” Matt admitted. He swallowed, looking into Brady’s eyes beseechingly. “I can’t get smaller, Brady,” he said earnestly. “I mean, my job, my friends—I can almost deal with that. But—Christ, Brady, what if… I mean, I won’t even be able to move!” He flexed his exposed upper arm to demonstrate, and the muscles swelled so wide the already straining hem of the soaked tee shirt actually started to tear.
“Holy fuck, Matt,” Brady gasped. Recollecting what he was doing, he finished yanking the sleeve off, freeing Matt’s right arm. He moved around to the other arm and made short work of the sleeve on that side. He pulled away the heavy, sodden jacket and hung it on the hook next to his raincoat.
“So… will you help me? Please?”
Brady turned back to face him and took in an involuntary breath. Standing there, in a soaking wet tee shirt that showed every bulge, every cut, every incredible curve, was a beautiful muscle god, as short as Brady was but easily over 220 pounds of hard-packed swole. Despite the strangeness of this moment and his own long day Brady felt his dick thickening in his boxer-briefs, shoving rudely toward a full erection as Brady took in a fantasy he’d never known he’d been harboring in some deep, secret place inside.
Matt, never unobservant, picked up on Brady’s reaction. His lips twisted, not into an arrogant smirk, but rather into something that seemed both abashed and knowing at the same time. “—Or did you want to finish undressing me first?” he offered.
Brady’s gaze, which had been drinking in Matt’s shelf-like, protruding pecs, jumped up to meet Matt’s in surprise. “Is that something you’d… want?” Brady asked incredulously.
Matt looked rueful. “C’mon,” he said. “You’re not an idiot. I was never scared of anything more than I was at being… at thinking about you.” He sighed, as if releasing a heavy burden and letting it fall away. “Do you have any idea how cute you are?” he asked, as if it were Brady’s fault he was so self-unaware.
A laugh escaped Brady. “You… think I’m cute?” he scoffed. “Matt Lansing, the man of my dreams, the bane of my existence, actually thinks I’m cute?”
“Wait—what was that about ‘man of your dreams’?” Matt said, smiling crookedly.
Brady fixed him with a steely gaze. “It’s the other one I want to talk about,” he said sternly.
Matt ducked his head. “I know,” he said. “I’ve been a shit to you. I felt like… like I had to put you down. I can’t explain it.” He looked up, and his eyes were damp now, too. “It’s like… you had this power over me,” he said. “Like, you could make me unravel, make me lose everything I had to be.”
Brady cocked his head slightly. “You had to be a douche nozzle?” he said skeptically.
Matt sighed again. “I had to be alpha dog,” he said. “Team captain. All the girls in school. Making my parents proud, instead of horrified. And they would have been horrified,” he assured Brady. “Worse than yours were.” He ducked his head again. “And then I saw you again, and I felt like… I had even more to lose. The dealership, the town… I still have to be alpha dog. I thought I did, anyway,” he added sourly.
Hesitantly, Brady took a step closer to him. He reached out and gently grasped Matt’s massive shoulders. “And now?” The tee shirt felt like it pulled tight under his hands, but the touch also reminded him that Matt was soaking wet all over. He’d need to get this shirt and those jeans and shoes off him soon, or Matt would end up sick on top of everything else. He wondered idly where his good shears were.
Matt looked at him steadily. “Look, if you wanted to teach me a lesson, I get it,” he said seriously. “I so get it. Being tall and good-looking and popular—none of that means anything if you just go around making people miserable. Not that I was that happy either. It sucks I had to lose all that just to figure out how to be a fucking human being, but—”
“You’re still good-looking,” Brady broke in with a small smile. Matt raised his eyebrows, and Brady squeezed his brawny delts. “Fucking amazing looking, actually,” he clarified, staring deep into those beautiful blue eyes.
“So will you… will you help me, Brade?” Matt pleaded. “I don’t want to shrink any more. I’m scared. I admit I was a shit to you, and I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” He drew in a breath. “If I—”
But at that moment a gust of wind from out of nowhere seemed to whip around them, ruffling Brady’s hair and rattling their coats on the wall but otherwise affecting nothing else. The light overhead flickered. Brady seemed to glow warm and amber, just for a moment, and then—it was all over, and the two of them were just standing there in Brady’s foyer, Brady’s hands still gripping his onetime enemy by the shoulders.
“What the fuck?” Brady said, looking around.
A strange certainty struck Brady, as if a piece of a puzzle had been revealed to him. “I think you said the magic words,” Brady said. He didn’t know how, but he knew that all the repercussions of what had happened to Brady—being fired for skipping work, his car being towed away out of his own driveway while he cowered behind a curtain watching in horror, the rest of it—all that would turn out to have been misunderstandings and mistakes as a new, reshunted life opened up before Matt.
Matt stared at him, then grinned wide. “Really? It’s over?” he said. Then he looked down at himself. “But wait, I’m still short—” he started to say, but at Brady’s narrowed gaze he amended, “—er than I was, I’m still shorter than I was.” He bit his lip, like he was hoping Matt wouldn’t get too mad.
Brady eyed him assessingly. “Maybe that’s a good thing,” he said after a moment, then without warning he moved in and covered Matt’s lips. Taken by surprise, Matt let out an mph! into the kiss, but then he registered how good the kiss felt, and closing his eyes., he started kissing back. Brady opened for him, and Matt did the same.
When the kiss ended naturally and they pulled apart, Brady saw that Matt’s eyes had darkened with lust, and his already hard dick reacted with impatient need.
“You know,” Matt said dryly, “now that you mention, I think I could get used to it.” They kissed again, then Brady began lowering himself down Matt’s front, kissing his way along Matt’s bearded jaw and thick neck, kissing his massive pecs through the still soaking wet tee shirt, down his deep-carved eight-pack abs perfectly visible through the soaked cotton, until he was on his knees in front of Matt’s crotch. He could feel the heat of Matt’s erection, and when he pulled the button apart and yanked open Matt’s fly, out sprang the thickest, fattest, most beautiful tool Brady had ever seen.
“Wow.’ He looked up at Matt with a sly grin. “What a dick!” he said, with conviction.