Playing with fire

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“X-ray specs!” I said, stopping abruptly in the middle of the aisle and grinning at the cheap-looking gag spectacles complete with painted swirls on the fake plastic lenses. Six or seven of them, with variously colored frames, were hanging from a display hook in thin clear sleeves, trapped at the top in a bit of colorful folded cardboard with “Revision Spectacles” in jaunty red and blue lettering. Under the title was an excited clip-art kid who looked like he’d just seen the most amazing thing ever through the swirl-covered lenses. Next to him was the slogan “See everything you want to see!”

“Gloriosky!” Cliff said chidingly, and with obvious amusement. Probably my little moment of glee served as the latest confirmation that I was totally the impulsive man-child he’d pegged me for when we’d first met. He was probably right about that. I’d rolled into Oceanwild, Oregon the night before on the back of his Yamaha, Cliff having roared past me hitchhiking on the empty state highway miles from nowhere that afternoon and come back to pick me up.

I think he liked what he saw, which was fair enough—I knew guys liked how I looked, from my long black hair and boyishly handsome face to my long, limber body and my incontrovertibly cute ass. I liked what I saw, too. He was headed down to Berkeley for graduate school from his hometown north of Seattle, having decided to take a few weeks getting there via the scenic route, cruising down back roads and exploring some small coastal towns along the way, and he totally looked like a catalog-issue college boy to me: blond hair carefully trimmed back with a short, matching beard, intense brown eyes and a wicked grin, tall and rangy with jock muscles I’d felt through his clothes but hadn’t gotten a chance yet to inspect up close. He even dressed the part, plaid shirts over band tees and jeans so old they were as soft as his tee shirts, though the black leather boots went with the bike.

I liked him, and he seemed to like me. We were comfortable together. I hadn’t strayed more than a few feet from him since he’d picked me up, and that seemed fine by both of us. We’d even slept in the same bed last night, in the motel room he’d gotten us, though we’d kept our clothes on and didn’t get past making out with our bodies wrapped around each other.

I think liked me, and enjoyed being close to me, but he was cautious, waiting to be sure before we deepened our intimacy. Maybe he thought I was a little crazy for out there, roaming the earth with my thumb out. That’s all right. I’m okay with people thinking I’m off kilter. And I do admit that I’m not quite normal, though it’s not totally my doing. Stuff seems to happen to me. Good stuff mostly, like meeting this sweet and sexy guy who’d decided to stop and share some time with me and let me hold him close in the night. I’ve learned not to worry about it.

We’d decided to spend the day touring the shops in the bustling little downtown. We were currently touring Oceanwild Odds and Ends, and no store had ever been more aptly named. Almost anything you could image was on his shelves, and a lot of things you couldn’t. “Man,” I said, “these are just like the ones you used to see in the backs of comic books, remember?”

“You are such a nerd,” Cliff chided me, drawing out the last word in his low baritone, though he said it with a smile—probably enjoying the image of me when I was younger plowing through a stack of comics on my bedroom floor.

“Like you’re not,” I shot back, nudging him in the ribs with an elbow.

“I never went in for comic books,” he insisted.

“No? No superheroes for the young, hormone-addled Cliff?” I said. I started flipping through the “Revision” glasses, considering the colors the frames came in. Red, black, lime green. The one all the way in the back was dark, cobalt blue, my favorite color, though weirdly these looked more like regular horn-rimmed glasses, with clear lenses instead of the painted-on swirls. I grabbed them instinctively and started us moving toward the checkout up front.

“Well,” Cliff admitted after a moment, “I did like the old Lavaman TV series.”

I looked over at him with a grin. “You just thought Bronson Clermont was a hunk!” I said, remembering the no-name blond young hottie they’d gotten to play the super-powered antihero Lavaman (and his alter ego, Nick Spencer), in what had to be the cheap-and-cheesiest of all cheap-and-cheesy comic-to-TV adaptations. Cliff ducked his head, hiding a smile. I turned to my friend and beamed at him. “I knew it!” I said. “I bet you couldn’t tell me one thing about Lavaman other how sexy he looks in his human form.”

“You mean, ‘hot’,” Cliff said, wiggling his eyebrows.

Smokin’ hot,” we said together, laughing. We got to the checkout where a bored-looking teenaged girl was working the register. I gave her the glasses and a ten, and she stared at us skeptically through the whole transaction, as if strangers passing through town weren’t to be trusted.

Lavaman was a pretty obscure hero to be into, but there was a cult fandom that happened to include a lot of gay men who were at least as appreciative of the handsome, well-built and reasonably charming Bronson Clermont as they were of the character he played. In the comics, Lavaman was an ancient magma demon who’d possessed, as a result of a needlessly complicated chain of circumstances, the body of a crusading, flaxen-haired playboy named Nick Spencer. At first, Nick had freaked out at the idea of become a massive, man-shaped creature of liquid fire, but, guided in his first outing (and during periodic crises thereafter) by the Greek fire god Haephestos, Nick found a way to use his unwanted ability. Usually it was to terrify evildoers into surrendering to the authorities or, if they wouldn’t go that far, into doing his will, undermining crime lords and increasingly powerful human enemies. The syndicated TV adaptation had run for two seasons back in the 1990s before vanishing without a trace, taking its star into obscurity with it, but it had left its mark on a significant, if mostly hidden, community of guys like me, who found the usually-shirtless Bronson jaw-droppingly hot and the transformation—in which fairly decent special effects were used to make Bronson grow into a half-human muscle giant with glowing eyes, before becoming a full-blown lava monster—even hotter. It delighted me no end that Cliff, as an adolescent gayboy, had also seemingly been inducted into the Lavaman brotherhood.

I collected my change, tossing the cashier a cavalier wink, and we went out into the street. It was a clear, sunny day, not too hot for August, and not having any place to be we headed into the little park across the street, trading Lavaman trivia and our favorite moments from the show. We were both in tee shirts, Cliff having left his plaid button-down and leather bike jacket back at the motel, and there was enough of a breeze off the ocean that the wind whipping our shirts around felt nice and bracing.

“I had… a few sex dreams about him,” Cliff confessed. “That shirtless body, those glowing eyes when he started to change—fuck, Roman, he was, like, the ultimate man to me.”

I glanced up from my purchase, looking him over. “I bet you wanted to be him,” I said shrewdly. Cliff shrugged his wide shoulders and ducked his head again. “You kind of look like him, too,” I added, “all blond and muscley.”

He tilted his head back up to look at me, eyes glinting. He liked the sound of that. “Did he look like that in the comic books, too?” Cliff asked.

“Pretty much,” I said. “But Bronson Clermont—let’s just say you weren’t the only one he gave a little inspiration to.”

Cliff grinned. “Yeah?”

“Yeah,” I said. There was more to that story, but I left him hanging for now. Instead I went back to examining the goofy specs I’d bought. I’d thought they were supposed to be like the scam X-ray specs advertised in the comic books, and the “See everything you want to see!” slogan had seemed to go along with that. But the instructions on the back didn’t promise you could see through things, of course. Instead they said, “Look at your friends and watch Fantasy turn into Reality!”

I giggled and tore open the package. “Now’s your chance,” I said, putting on the specs. “I’m imagining you as Lavaman!”

The wild thing was that somehow, with the specs on, Cliff really did look a lot like Bronson Clermont, back when he’d been the hunky young buck they’d pulled out three days of cattle-call auditions in St. Petersburg, Florida (where they’d decided to film the series for some reason, even though Lavaman supposedly operated in Hawaii). It all seemed normal somehow: that Cliff, previously about the same height as me, was seemingly a couple inches taller than me now, to match the actor’s 6’3” stature… that his blond hair was longer and looser now, just like Clermont in the show… that Cliff’s trim blond beard seemed to have gone away, revealing Clermont’s defined jawline… that Cliff’s hard jock muscles had swollen just a little, pushing out Cliff’s band tee with the thick, drool-worthy pecs Bronson Clermont had boasted, only the shirt wasn’t there after all, only Bronson Clermont’s bare, muscular chest and tight, defined six-pack… he was even wearing the five little glowing red and black lava rocks on a thin, black steel cord around his neck, just like Lavaman… Fuck, I was getting turned on. I hadn’t even told Cliff yet about how far my Lavaman fantasies went…

Cliff, or rather Cliff-as-Lavaman, was staring at me, eyes huge. “Dude…” he said.

“Wha-at?” I said, feeling as though words and thoughts were very far away from me right now. Even to my own ears I sounded dazed and disassociated.

“Dude, what are you doing?” Cliff-Lavaman asked. His voice sounded muffled, as if, even though he was right there in front of me, he was speaking to me through some kind of barrier, as though he, or I, was surrounded by some kind of invisible energy field. I could hear his agitation, though.

I felt euphoric. “I’m seeing you as Lavaman,” I warbled around a laugh. My mind was spinning, but my vision was focused, filled with nothing but the man I saw before me. I felt arousal mounting rapidly, roaring through me on a scale beyond anything I’d ever known. I took a step closer to him, watching in fascinating as increased proximity seemed to make him even more like my fantasy—bigger, hotter, hornier. Lavaman as a gorgeous, perfectly muscled, glowing-eyed sex beast, caught on the verge of changing from his sexy human form to the full-blown magma creature he became as Lavaman.

“Not me,” my vision of almost-Lavaman objected with Cliff’s voice, his beautiful face contorted with concern. Somehow he seemed to be looking up at me, even though I knew Lavaman was inches taller than I was. I frowned at the thought.

Lavaman-Cliff repeated, “It’s not me!” His glowing eyes fixed suddenly onto the middle of my face. With a sudden motion he grabbed the blue-framed gag glasses right off my face, tossing them aside, and then… everything reeled. My mind felt woozy and I started to collapse in a heap to the ground, but Cliff caught me in time. There was a thick wooden bench just behind us, and Cliff eased me down onto it, perching next to me as he looked at me with a weird mixture of concern and awe.

I couldn’t focus on anything. My mind was swimming, and I couldn’t properly process anything I was feeling. My senses were roiling. I felt like I was on the verge being torn apart by forces beyond human imagining.

“Roman, are you okay?” Cliff asked. He definitely sounded worried. Why was he worried? Apart from being disorient I felt okay. Actually, I felt great. Strong and filled with boundless energy. I fell back against the back of the bench, and the unmistakeable feeling of the wood slats against the bare skin of my back wrenched me all the way back into cognizance.

I stared at Cliff. No sign of anything strange. He looked completely normal, his hair trim and beard in place and his band tee right where it had been, clinging to his own jock-muscled body. He had reverted to his regular college boy look head to toe as though nothing had happened. But the truth was already dawning on me. Something had happened… but it hadn’t happened to Cliff.

I looked down. My own shirt was gone, as I’d known it would be. My hard, thick muscles weren’t my own… but they matched my expanded fantasy version of Bronson Clermont’s TV Lavaman exactly. I could feel the five hot lava rocks on their cord resting against my heat-proof skin, glowing, as my eyes must be, with the impending change to full Lavaman form. I felt heat like primordial fire coursing through me. My body quivered with readiness, poised to transfigure itself, smashing apart cell by cell to reform as a monster-superhero who could not possibly exist. A being whose body was superheated magma and whose hands shot geysers of molten rock.

“Shi-i-it,” I moaned, and my voice wasn’t my voice. It wasn’t even Bronson Clermont’s voice. It was the deepened, electronically modulated voice from the show—the voice that told everyone watching that Nick Spencer was seconds away from becoming a towering, fire-wielding magma demon.

I jumped up. Cliff did the same, still watching me with both wonder and fear—and no small amount of arousal. He didn’t understand. I didn’t know how to be Lavaman, I couldn’t control it. Not if it was real, not if I actually became Lavaman all the way. “Get away,” I warned him, my voice impossibly low. It was becoming too clear to me what had happened. The glasses worked on the wearer, not on what the wearer was looking at. And the fantasies that had become reality weren’t just Lavaman—they were my adolescent sex dreams about Lavaman. A Lavaman just on the verge of transforming, muscles swollen, eyes glowing with a smoldering state, skin hot, and… a raging erection I’d pictured more impressive than any other man’s. I’d dreamed a hundred times of this mostly human, brink-of-change Lavaman having his way with me, kissing me with a heated tongue, wrapping me up in his amazing, literally and figuratively hot body. Coming to me in the night, his eyes and glowing veins casting light on my darkened bedroom. Teaching me what it meant to make love to as man, his fat, huge, fiery cock filling my eager mouth or driving into my virgin ass… and, eventually, allowing me to push my own raging erection deep inside his hot, hot ass.

The tension of him holding back his transformation for me, struggling to keep himself human against the needs of his metamorphosis just so he could make love to me, was such an enormous turn-on that even now, just thinking about it, I was dizzy with arousal… even though it was me that was on the edge of changing. I saw Cliff watching me, and the rush of knowing how he’d seen near-change Lavaman as the ultimate sex beast was chased away by what was very close to becoming first-hand knowledge of just how dangerous the fully morphed Lavaman was. I could feel it it me, building up stronger and hotter, a molten fury burning to break free. And my intimate awareness of my own verge-of-transformation fantasy meant that I was acutely aware of just how close I was, right now, to losing my mortal form and becoming that inhuman creature of liquid rock, born miles below the earth’s surface in ages long past.

“Stay back!” I screamed at Cliff, thrusting my hands toward him to keep him at bay even as I took another step back from him. However avidly I’d dreamed of making love with a near-change Lavaman, I knew that fully-transformed Lavaman was lethally hot, and I could not risk hurting Cliff, or anyone else. “You need to go!” I said. “You need to run!” I looked around wildly. There were a few clusters of locals in the park watching us from a distance, pointing and whispering to each other. Cliff was in danger, these people were in danger. Where could I run? I needed to figure out where I could run where I wouldn’t be a danger to anyone. I was close to panicking, and it was not helping—and I knew it was not helping.

“Roman!” Cliff said urgently. “Please look at me. Look … at … me,” he said, slow and steady. His hands were out, palms down, consciously or unconsciously signaling me to be calm. I stared at him, feeling ancient, unquenchable fire under my skin, in my veins, my muscles, my monster hard-on straining my smoking but not yet disintegrated jeans. I was panting, I realized, my heroic chest heaving with the stress I was feeling.

“Roman,” Cliff said, his voice calm but firm, “I need you to look at me and listen to me. Focus on me. Can you do that?”

What he’s doing, the words he’s saying and the way he’s saying them… it seems familiar to me, somehow, but I’m too agitated to focus. I keep my eyes on him, but I try to object. He’s in danger—he shouldn’t be calm. “I—you need—” I stammered.

“Focus… on… me. Can you do that?” Cliff asked again, bright brown eyes fixed on mine. I thought I could see a fiery red, lava-like glint in them. My eyes, reflected in his. The idea was strangely reassuring. He was here. It wasn’t just me. Cliff was here, and he wasn’t running away. He wouldn’t run. Even after I told him to run, he wouldn’t run.

“Can you do that?” Cliff said again patiently.

“Yes,” I said. Everything else fell away. I saw this attractive man who I wanted very much, but it was more than that. This was a man whose feelings I cared about. I could listen to him. I was still panting, but my breaths were coming slower, the act of drawing air deep into my lungs steading me as I watched Cliff watching me.

Cliff took a step toward to me, hands still out and down. I resisted the urge to back away from him and held my ground. “You are in control, Roman,” he said to me, eyes fixed on mine. “This is your body. It is yours to command. You are the master of the inner fire. You are in control. Do you understand?”

I stared at him, feeling my pounding heart slow as my pulse evened out. You are the master of the inner fire… You are in control… I knew those words. Didn’t I? I… I…

Suddenly I began to laugh, a low, guttural sound that delighted me all by itself. I knew those words! Cliff’s stern, worried face resolved into one of relief, and the corners of his mouth twisted up, though he still watched me closely.

I laughed again. “You…” I growled in my low, almost-Lavaman voice. “You… are such a nerd!”

Cliff was grinning now. We were closer, too, though I wasn’t sure how. “Am not,” he said defiantly, his brown eyes alight.

I stuck a finger out at him. “You cannot use the exact words Haephestos used to talk Nick down in the pilot two-parter,” I intoned in my new, sexy rumble, “and not be the biggest Lavaman fanboy in the history of Lavaman fanboys!”

We had been moving toward each other, it seemed, because the space between us was gone. Cliff looked up at me, and I could see from the reflection in his eyes that mine were still glowing. I could feel the incredible tension inside me, no less than before. I knew I was still close to the edge—but I was in control of my fire. And exerting the power it took to keep myself in control, to maintain this form—a form I could fuck Cliff in and have him fuck me, as I desperately craved at the earliest possible moment—was somehow deeply satisfying, like an athlete performing at a level of mastery for which his body had been designed and for which his training had prepared him.

Shit, I was massive. Bigger than Bronson Clermont, much bigger than Cliff. I was a good head taller than he was, built like a superhero and then some, and now that I had mastered myself I fucking loved being big and having this hunky jock I cared about staring into my eyes with lust and the promise of hours, and days, and months of pleasure. I was so hugely hard for him. And when Cliff, without hesitation, wrapped his arms tight around me, I knew it was not just my massive erection pressing hard against his hip he could feel. I knew he could feel the ancient, unreasoning fire inside me, and that it was all for him.

After all, the being I had made myself into wasn’t just the Nick Spencer/Lavaman character from the TV show. I was my own sex-beast fantasy version of him, driven by passions beyond anything any ordinary man had known. And Cliff was right there with me. I knew not only from the way he held me, but also from the way his own seriously impressive erection pushed urgently against the crease of my thigh. I pulled him tight against me, wrapping my powerful arms around his body. “Fuck, Cliff,” I growled, drowning in joy, need, and raw, aching hunger.

“Yes,” he agreed firmly, his head pressed against my thick, red-veined chest. “Fuck… Cliff.”


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