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Old July 7th, 2008, 01:25 AM
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Another Choice: Part 6B

An inky darkness engulfed Carl. He felt like he should have been awake, but everything felt so weird. His limbs felt so heavy, like they were made of lead and his body felt completely numb. Slowly, realization dawned on him. He remembered the fight that he and Paul was in. He remembered the sickening feeling he had when he saw his young companion slump to the ground. He felt the hopelessness and despair that he felt when he saw that he couldn't do anything against the ignorant bullies that hurt him so. He could feel tears stream out of his tightly shut eyes.

"I think he's awake," Carl heard a voice say. He had trouble focusing on the sound through his pain. It took a tremendous effort for him to just open his eyes. When he finally pried his eyelids apart, he saw himself staring at a brightly lit ceiling. Nothing seemed familiar, and the moment he tried to move, his body cried out in protest.

"Hey buddy, welcome back," he heard his dad say. He couldn't turn towards the sound, but thankfully, his father came into his view. Carl's eyes slowly focused on his burly dad, and he could see his brow furrowed in worry.

"" Carl rasped softly. He thought to himself how weak his voice was.

"It's ok man, you're alright. We're all here with you," Brad said.

"What happened? Where am I? Where's Paul?" Carl asked as the machine next to him started beeping loudly.

"Shh, shh. It's ok. Don't worry, just try and get some sleep," he heard his mother say as a hand stroked his head. He was about to protest, but a sudden drowsiness overcame him and he drifted back into sleep.

Carl's dreams were plagued by the sight of his lover being beaten before him. He could see every bruise, every blood drop, every injury on his friend's frail body. The sickening sound of breaking bone filled his nightmare, replaying the horrid scene over and over again. And no matter how hard he tried, no matter how much he wanted to, he couldn't wake up nor change the scene. Each time the dream played, Carl screamed in terror, anger and heartbreak.

Carl bolted upright in his bed, screaming loudly. He looked around and saw himself in a hospital room. The evening sun was beaming through the blinds off to his right and he saw his dad coming to his side. "It's ok Carl, it was just a dream," he said, his deep baritone cracking with concern.

Carl laid back down slowly and said, "Dad, where's Paul? What happened?"

His dad paused and sighed. He pulled his chair up to Carl's bedside and stared off at the window as he sat down. "When you went off to find Paul, I waited in the car for about fifteen minutes. When you or Paul were nowhere to be found, I got out and started looking for you. I found you two about five minutes later. You two looked like you had just went through hell. Both of you were covered in piss, you had shoe marks all over you and poor Paul..."

His dad paused for a moment before continuing, "I called 911 immediately. Thankfully, I knew some medical training so I could make sure you were stable. It was a good thing too. Paul needed attention badly. From what I could tell, he had a few broken ribs. Found out later that he has a punctured lung among other things. The police want to know who did this because if I didn't come along, Paul would be dead right now."

Carl tried to keep from crying, but an image of his beautiful friend lying in a coffin broke down his wall. He burst into tears and his father was right there, holding him tight. "Tell me what happened son."

Carl told him everything. He told him about how the two of them were picked on years ago, how he started working out so they wouldn't be picked on anymore, how they fell in love with each other and tried to hide it and finally how it was because of that love that Paul almost died.

His father listened intently, but Carl could see the shock in his eyes. After he finished bearing his soul to his father, he said, "And even if I do tell the police, they can't do anything. The guys Buck had were from the football team. They're going to have someone cover for them, saying they all were somewhere else. And even if we do say something, that will put Paul in danger again because he's gay."

"Are you son? Are you gay?" his father asked, his face devoid of emotion.

Carl felt like he was about to vomit. He was so scared of disappointing the man he admired the most, but he had to be honest for Paul's sake. He lowered his head and started, "I don't know what I am dad. I don't feel anything for other guys or girls. All I know is I feel that Paul is the one person I want with me all the time. That's why I wanted him with me all the time when we were in the basement and the gym even though he felt bad 'cause he wasn't growing. I know I'm a disappointment to you, but I love him dad. I don't care what happens to me, but I need to protect him. And I can't. I just can't. I failed him. I don't deserve anyone if I can't take care of him. I promised him it would all be ok and I lied to him. He almost died because of me!"

Carl broke down in tears again and his dad gripped him in a hug. "You're not a disappointment to me son. I don't care that you don't like girls. I care about you. All I know is I have a son that is in the hospital because some punks decided to gang up on him. And I am proud of you son because you took it upon yourself to try and protect someone weaker than you."

Carl looked up and saw a bearded smile looking back at him. "You mean that dad?"

"I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little surprised, but I couldn't never be disappointed for something you have no control of."

Carl's heart, which was racing this whole time, finally began to slow down. "I'm glad dad." His dad ran his fingers through his head and Carl continued, "Where's Paul?" The rubbing stopped abruptly and Joe winced. "What's wrong dad?" Carl said, worry coloring his voice.

Carl's dad let out a deep breath. "Well, he's stable right now, but he's in the intensive care area. He had seven broken ribs, a punctured lung, a shattered kneecap and a broken jaw. He was in surgery for hours and right now he's sedated. The doctors say he'll live, but he'll never be the same."

Carl's face went from the depths of sorrow he was feeling about his failure to a boiling, seething rage. "I don't know how, I don't know when, but they are going to pay. They all are going to pay! I'M GOING TO KILL THEM!" he screamed.

Joe took Carl's face in his hands. "Look at me! Look at me!" Carl turned towards his father, blinded with rage and hatred. "When I saw what they did to you, I wanted to get your brothers, figure out who did this to you and then stomp a mudhole in them and walk it dry."

Carl smiled weakly as his dad continued, "But your mom talked some sense into us. Violence isn't going to solve this problem. Let's say you do get even with one or two of those guys. What's to stop them from ganging up on you again, or worse, Paul?"

Carl started to cry again. "What am I going to do dad? I gotta do something. If I don't, then they would have won and Paul would've gone through all this for nothing."

Carl's father smiled and said, "Don't worry son, I have a plan. Here's what I figure. Buck had all those guys with him because he's popular or something, right? So what happens if you start high school as a huge super jock? If you're the popular one, people will be on your side. That's how teenagers are. Plus, your brother Brad's going to be there with you and he's already got most of the football team on his side. And your other brothers were great athletes when they were in school, so I'm sure that'll help to with your reputation no matter if you're gay or not. If you're the best there, everyone will have to respect you, and that will be better for you and Paul in the end because people will step up for you once you have their respect."

Carl couldn't see where his father was going, so he just kept quiet as his father kept talking, "I'm going to take some of my stored up vacation and you, me and the guys are going to take a trip. This summer, we're going to head up into the mountains and we all are going to just focus on getting huge. There's going to be nothing to distract us. Just the outdoors, tons of meat, protein and supplements, and tons of heavy iron. Then, when we come back, you're going to try out for every varsity team there is and you're going to start. Plus, we're going to teach you how to defend yourself just in case something like this happens again. I was planning on doing this when you were 16, kinda like a rite of passage, but you seem to need it now more than ever."

Carl's mouth dropped. He couldn't believe what he was hearing. Thoughts and ideas ran through his head about what could be. He knew that he was hitting a growth spurt, and now his father was telling him that they were going to spend months focusing just on developing their muscle. "Can Paul come along?" he asked, still concerned about his buddy.

His dad's eyes dropped slightly, "'Fraid not son. The doc said that he's going to have to be in the hospital for a few months. His injuries were really severe. It's partly because of his physique, he didn't have much padding at all to absorb any of the damage. He will never be back to normal. The doc said at the very least, he will be walking with a cane. I know how much that is going to hurt him because he loved running."

Carl's fist balled up. He swore to himself right then and there that he was going to do whatever it took to get huge and he was going to get back at Buck. He looked at his dad and nodded, "I understand. I can at least see him before we leave, right?"

"Sure thing boy, I'll talk to the nurses 'bout it."

Carl spent another week in the hospital. His injuries healed remarkably quick and by the third day, he had resumed doing the workout he learned in the basement. On his last day in the hospital, the nurses took him to see Paul. The moment he stepped in the room, he could feel his heart shatter into a million pieces.

Paul was lying motionless on the bed, dozens of wires connecting his body to various machines. The room was dark and cold, almost like a tomb and Carl could feel the joy and energy drain from him as he saw his broken friend. The nurse said before leaving, "I'll be at the nurse's station if you need anything."

Carl swallowed hard before he walked over to Paul's side. He looked down at his friend lying motionless in the bed. Even in this state, his face looked angelic and innocent. "How could anyone do this to him? He's never done anything to anybody. He's just an innocent kid and now this had to happen to him," he thought as his eyes flooded with tears.

He closed his eyes and tried to shut out the pain, but a few drops escaped the corner of his eye and splashed on Paul's hand. "Hey Carl," he heard a soft voice whisper. Carl opened his tear flooded eyes to see Paul looking up at him. "Are you alright? You're crying," Paul asked.

A slight chuckle escaped Carl's lips, "Here you are in a hospital wired up to machines, and you're asking me if I'm alright? Little buddy, you are just too good for this world."

Paul's smile widened a little as he looked at his love. But, it was only for a moment. He winced slightly in pain and said, "We weren't careful enough, were we?"

Carl's humor vanished instantly. "No, I guess we weren't. I'm sorry man."

Carl looked down at the floor as Paul said, "Why are you sorry? You didn't do this to me?"

Carl's gripped tightened on the bedframe he was using to support himself, "Yes, it was my fault. I may not have beaten you up, but I swore I would protect you and I didn't. I couldn't even stop one of them." Carl tried to stop himself from crying, but again, tears escaped his tightly shut eyes.

"Carl, I don't blame you."

Carl's crying slowed slightly as he wiped away the tears. Paul whispered, "You've given me so much already. I never knew how happy I could be until we started hanging out. I thought that my life would just be one humiliation after another until school was finally over. I didn't even have friends before you. But you came along and changed all that. You gave me friendship, and more importantly, you gave me a place in the world. I felt that I belonged by your side. As the days went on as we worked out in the basement, it felt like I finally knew what true happiness was. And then when you told me that you loved me too, I knew no matter what, as long as I had you, I'd be ok. So, don't worry about me. This low will only make the highs that I feel when I with you all the better."

Carl was flooded with emotion. Paul's words touched his soul in a way he had never felt before. "Paul," he started. "To be honest, for the longest, I felt that my whole purpose in life was to be with you. It feels like I just haffa have you close to me. I worry about you all the time because you are smaller than people. Ever since before we started going to the gym, I was excited about getting bigger. It wasn't because I wanted to be huge for myself, it was because I wanted to be huge for you. I wanted to be everything you needed and wanted. I wanted to make sure than nothing bad ever happened to you, that the bullying we went through would never happen to us again."

Carl's fists balled up again in rage, but he forced himself to calm down for Paul's sake. "My dad is planning on taking me and my brothers up in the mountains. He wants to focus on getting me big and jockish so when we go to high school, I can make a name for myself. If I can do that, then I can make sure that no one messes with you. I just wish I could bring you along with me. I don't know how I'm going to survive three months without you."

Paul smiled weakly, "Don't worry Carl. I will be right here waiting on my big jock stud to get back."

The nurse opened the door and said in a quiet tone, "It's time for Paul to get some rest now."

Carl turned and nodded at the nurse, then refocused on Paul. Gently gripping his hand, Carl leaned over the rail and lowered his lips to his lover. After a slow, meaningful kiss, Carl said, "Every minute this summer, I'm going to be doing everything I can to get huge. I don't want anything like this to happen to you again. I will be so huge that people will piss their pants when they think about making you upset. I will make sure that your beautiful smile never leaves your face again."

Paul smiled one more time, "I love you too."

Carl squeezed his boyfriend's hand one last time before he left the room. As much as part of him wanted to stay with Paul, his heart screamed for justice. And justice would require a lot of work. Looking back through the window at all the machines flanking his lover's bed, he swore that nothing would stop him. He would die before he let anything happen to Paul again.

Carl met his father in the main waiting room. He was sitting in one of the chairs, looking quite uncomfortable as his mass was more than the small chair could handle. He looked up from his paper to see Carl and folded the section up. "When can we start dad?" Carl asked, his gaze a picture of steely determination.

Joe looked at his son with pride, "Your brothers have already packed up. They even got a suitcase for you. Evan said it would be a couple of weeks before he could drive up, but he would have something special when he came. We can leave tomorrow if you're sure that's what you want."

Carl let out a deep sigh, "Dad, I have to get huge. Nothing else matters anymore. I'm not doing this for myself, I'm doing it for Paul. I can't bear to see anything like this happen to him again. So, I'm going to get so big and strong that if anyone even thinks about messing with him, they'll think again because they don't want me to get my hands on them. I swear, nothing is going to stop me, not pain, not being tired, nothing."

Joe put his hand on Carl's shoulder as Carl panted like a caged beast, "I understand son. I'm here for you. We'll do our best to help you."

Carl's breathing slowed as he looked into his dad's eyes. He leaned in and his father engulfed him in a muscular hug. "It's all going to be ok Carl, just you wait."

"I know dad. Thanks."

"Ok son, let's go home. You need your rest because tomorrow will be the start of the hardest thing you'll ever do. By the time we're done, you'll know all new meanings of the word 'pain'."

For some reason that Carl couldn't understand, that statement made him smile, cringe, and get hard.
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Old July 7th, 2008, 03:47 AM
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Great work with managing the emotions in this chapter. I could really feel Carl's pain and frustration while reading.
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Old July 7th, 2008, 01:44 PM
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Great story can't wait for more
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Old July 7th, 2008, 01:59 PM
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Sorry it took me so long to get this part. The perfectionist in me wasn't happy with it for the longest. I really wanted to convey the emotions he was going through properly. I still think there was room for improvement, but if I kept it until I was completely happy with it, you guys would've never read it.
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Old July 8th, 2008, 04:39 PM
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Good things come to those who wait and use lots of weight. You're doing great, man.
Keep Writing. We love it.

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