Daniel unexpectedly found himself with the day off. The client had cancelled at the last minute, citing a family emergency. No one would be home, apparently, to deal with him, or handle payment. The missing day would be a little bit of a blow to his budget, but having a roommate meant he had a little leeway when it came to his funds. Besides, it had been a while since he’d had a weekday to himself.
That left him trying to figure out what to do with his unexpected day. Sitting around, watching TV on his phone… wasn’t exactly his style. He could hit the gym, but he didn’t want to do that alone. Even though he had been feeling out of shape, lately. He’d lost some of the definition in his pecs, to be precise, and his biceps, triceps and even his deltoids. His stomach, at least, had remained flat. Which was good, but it probably meant he couldn’t blame the meals that Rebecca was making. Even if she did add a little too much sugar to his coffee. This was entirely on him, for not working out enough since he’d moved in.
Maybe he should go to the gym, after all… he decided to go through his contacts. Jacob would be busy. Richard would laugh at him for losing physique, likely as not. Aaron – Aaron usually had Thursdays and Fridays off; they hadn’t been able to hang for a while, either, due to schedule conflicts. He was pretty sure his friend had kept up his gym membership, too. The guy was pretty ripped, considering he worked a desk job at a phone bank.
He decided to text Aaron. He got a thumbs up emote in return, and decided to jog to the gym since it wasn’t far. Proper exercise needed to be upheld inside, and outside the gym, in his opinion. That was how you made a change to your body. Besides, it was only two blocks down, barely enough to wind him.
Or so he thought. The truth was, distance wasn’t a problem, in and of itself; he wasn’t winded, or anything The white tank top he’d worn, though, hung a little loose on him, despite having been tight just a week ago. It was also rubbing a little against his puffy chest, making his nipples chafe. Plus, his nipples were sticking through the cloth, and it was hot out, so by the time he reached the gym he was sweating.
Still. It was nice to reach the gym. Walking in after a week long absence felt like a weight was being lifted from him. A few guys he knew waved, and one girl smiled at him, only to do a small double take at how out of shape he was. She smiled again after a moment, though, a little softer but no less real. Her eyes were lingering on him in a new way, too, which he didn’t quite get. She almost looked. Interested. Which was odd, since she’d never shown any appreciation for his physique in the past.
“Yo!” came Aaron’s voice, distracting him. His friend was walking toward him, from over by the free weights. Standing at about five foot five, the peroxide-blond man was a mid-height bundle of muscles, with strong arms that bulged out of his tank top. He had a small hex dumbbell in hands, maybe ten pounds, probably for a warm up. He was smiling, but that dropped when he saw Daniel. “…Man. You’ve really gone out of shape since I saw you, last. What’s it been? A few months since you hit the gym? Would have sworn it was longer, but I could have sworn I just saw you.”
Daniel shook his head. “About a week, actually… most of this is just an allergic reaction from some bug bites, though…” He scratched his chest as he spoke, between the two bumps that were pressing out of his tee shirt. He wore an easy smile, trying to hide how uncomfortable this area of discussion made him. “Guess it shows?”
“Hell, yeah, it shows…” Aaron frowned. “I don’t know what the hell to say to you. If you can have that kind of change in a week… dude. You didn’t try steroids, did you? You always seemed so straight laced…”
“It’s not that… is it really that bad?”
His friend nodded. Daniel wished he had a mirror. For some reason, his mind darted to the handhelds some girls used for makeup. He needed something a little bigger than that, though – something in the bathroom, probably.
“I’m… Uh… wait for me at the free weights, okay?” Daniel tried to smile, but his lips locked into a sort of grimace as he moved to the back of the gym, and headed into the men’s bathroom. He stopped in front of the sinks, staring into one of the mirrors mounted over them. His face was… pretty much as he remembered it. His cheeks were maybe a little more plump; or maybe it was better to say they were rounded out? His hair was also longer than it had been a week ago. Not too long, thankfully, but his hair was hanging part way down his cheeks. He usually kept it cropped near the top, so this was definitely strange, to say the very least. His chest puffed out noticeably beneath the white tank top he wore, and he definitely lacked pecks. He looked overall narrower, but it was more than losing a little definition from his limbs. It looked almost like his muscles had drained away from him. He still felt just as strong as ever, but… how had he never noticed this?
He hesitated, and then moved to one of the bathroom stalls. After locking the door behind him, he took off his shirt, shivering a little as it parted from his sensitive chest, and stared down at his body. He knew that a bug had bitten him on the chest. That explained the puffiness in his pecs, and why they felt so curiously sensitive when he touched them. His nipples had doubled in length, though, and the pink areola expanded across half the breast tissue… and when he cupped his chest, it sent a curious tingle of pleasure through his body.
He put his shirt back on, and left the bathroom. His heart was beating fast, but he forced a more realistic smile onto his face when he saw Aaron.
“You okay?” Aaron asked, a small frown on his face.
Daniel nodded, though he didn’t feel alright. He felt numb. “Let’s… uh… do you mind if we put working out on hold? Maybe we can just grab a burger? There’s a place next door… and we could. Talk. About something.”
“A burger. You want to get a burger?” Aaron frowned. “I mean. Not that I mind a little red meat, now and then, but a greasy burger?”
“I could…” Daniel laughed, bitterly, holding himself. The pressure it put on his chest made him shiver again. “I could use some comfort food. And some talk. The talk’s the important part, but the comfort food… would help.”
Aaron shrugged. “Whatever you say, man. We’ll get a burger.”
The place really was next door. They left the gym, and walked over. Daniel slid into the booth, very aware of his loose tank top, which was still half drenched in sweat. This was pretty much a dirty spoon diner, though, and they were used to people from the gym. They even had a few healthy options, which was what he normally ate here. Which explained why the waiter was so surprised when he ordered a cheeseburger, cooked medium rare, but she nodded and took Aaron’s order. His friend decided on a fully cooked burger, no cheese, extra lettuce, and the waitress was off with a smile.
“So… what’s up, dude? If it’s not steroids, or drugs, or whatever, what’s with the weird man boobs? And how’d you go from muscle mass man to… this?” he gestured at Daniel’s narrowed frame.
“The pecs are because of some bug bites…” Daniel frowned. “I knew I was having an allergic reaction, but I didn’t think it was this bad…”
“I’m pretty sure there’s no bug bites that would do this to someone,” Aaron muttered, leaning back in the booth. The vinyl seats squeaked faintly beneath him. “Have you tried talking to the doctor? Maybe it’s a hormonal imbalance, or something…”
“I won’t go to the doctor.” Daniel responded without thinking, his voice flat. “They’re just bug bites. They’ll go away.”
Aaron seemed to take the flat voice for anger, because he lifted his hands in a conciliatory gesture. “Alright. Alright. No doctor, for now. But you know, if it is drugs, you can talk to me at least.”
“It’s not drugs,” the brunette promised, shaking his head. Aaron didn’t look convinced. “I promise, it’s not drugs.”
The waitress came by with their burgers, and Daniel immediately dug into his. The red meat was juicy and delicious, and just a little pink inside. It was also a grease bomb, which he knew he’d regret later, but he didn’t care right then. He rarely go to eat anything with real grease or fat. He wanted to devour this, and savor it all at once.
“It’s not drugs…” Aaron finally agreed, taking a more cautious bite of his own burger. He chewed slowly, swallowed carefully, and seemed to decide he wanted more since he ate another bite quickly. “Still. Something is definitely going on with you. Have you had any change in your environment?”
“I…I moved into a new place… but I doubt there’s anything there. Rebecca would have mentioned it…”
“Rebecca? New girlfriend?” Aaron leaned forward, and Daniel suddenly felt like a girl sharing gossip. He shook his head, though, both to the question and the thought.
“No… just a new roommate. My old place was getting expensive – I couldn’t really afford to live by myself, anymore… And trust me, before you ask, she’s never shown the slightest bit of interest in me. She’s a lesbian”
“Oh…” Aaron frowned. “Well. What happened to her last roommate? Maybe that would give you a clue…”
“I think she got married, or something?” He took another big bite of his burger, as he thought about whether Rebecca had actually said anything about her. “Or maybe she just didn’t need a roommate anymore…”
“Well. Ask her about it. Maybe there’s some sort of weird mold or something in the room, that she didn’t tell you about.”
They both paused to take a bite, but Daniel shook his head while he was chewing. “I don’t think she’d do that…”
“If she was desperate enough for a roommate, she might have done anything,” Aaron warned.
Daniel fell silent, as he ate the rest of his burger. The waitress came back out, and handed a single check to Aaron. “Separate checks, actually…” The blond gave her a little smile.’
“Oh!” She blushed. “Sorry. I just assumed you were together…”
“It’s fine…” Daniel muttered. “I’ll pay for it. I dragged you out here, after all.”
“Thanks, but no,” Aaron replied. “After all, you’ll need to save your money to get your own place again, if I’m right about your roommate…”
Daniel walked home, instead of jogging. His shirt had dried during the time at the restaurant, and he didn’t particularly want to get it wet with sweat again. When he arrived home, Ashley was sitting on the couch, reading a book. It looked to be fantasy novel, Dragons and Damsels.
“Where’s Rebecca?” Daniel asked.
Ashley didn’t even look up from her book when she responded, in a flat voice, “She’s away. She left something on her bed for you, though.”
Daniel frowned. He’d never actually been in the master bedroom before, but of course he knew where it was. He really wanted to talk to Rebecca, but. It wouldn’t hurt to see what she’d left him.
He walked into the bedroom, looking around briefly. A big bed in the center, and a lesbian pride flag on the wall. Why was he not surprised? On her bed, though, was a book. A Mermaid’s Tale, from the cover. He opened it to the title page, curious, but. The title didn’t match the cover at all.
In the moment before the door opened, he read out loud “The Perfect Bride’s Guide To Hypnosis…”