BHM Xander - by Undine (~BHM, Intrigue, ~~WG)

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Aug 20, 2007
~BHM, Intrigue, ~~WG - a story about a boy, his belly, and his nose.

by Undine​

“Gimme a minute,” Xander called, pulling his ear buds out and minimizing his English Lit paper. He hefted himself out of his computer chair and lumbered over to the door as the knocking continued.

“I’m coming!” He sighed, and muttered, “Adrian’s not here, anyway, and I know that whoever you are, you’re not here for me.”

He peered through the peephole and felt a familiar jump in his chest. It was August, staring at the ceiling as she waited for him to answer. He turned the knob.

“Hey, August, Adrian’s out right now…” Xander said, trailing off as e noticed the streaks of mascara and tears running down her cheeks. “Um, is everything okay?”

“Oh, Xander!” she cried, throwing her arms around him.

He awkwardly returned her embrace, gently patting her blonde hair.

“What…” he began as she started sobbing, grabbing fistfuls of the back of his shirt. “Um…why don’t you come in for a while.”

He guided her inside, where she grabbed the tissue box and flopped down on his bed. “He…he…” she hiccupped and then blew her nose.

“What happened? Are you okay?” Xander stood a few feet in front of her, fidgeting. It was strange, her being in here without Adrian.

She looked up at him, her blue eyes watery.

“No!” she flung out angrily. “I’m not okay! He…that bastard…he’s cheating on me, I know he is!”

Tears overcame her again.

Xander opened his mouth, but stayed silent, unsure of what to say.

“You don’t have to say anything,” she continued a few minutes later, wiping her eyes furiously. “I know he’s your friend and you don’t want to backstab him, but I know he’s cheating. I heard Chelsea More telling her little Alpha Sigma’s what a great screw he is in the food court today,” she finished miserably.

“August, I…I’m sorry…”

“Oh, Xander, why? Why did I ever think he wouldn’t do it to me? I knew what he was like, but I thought it would be different…I thought I could make him be a one-girl-guy… How could I have been so stupid?” Fresh tears came to her eyes, and she threw herself back on the bed, pulling his pillow over her face.

“Hey.” He gingerly sat next to her and placed his hand on her arm. “He’s an asshole, August. You deserve better than someone who’d do that to you.”

“I know.” Her voice was muffled by the pillow. “But I feel like such an idiot.”

“You’re not an idiot. You just gave him something he didn’t deserve.”

She peered out at him. “Huh?”

He nervously ran his hand through his hair. “You trusted him…I mean, it’s good to trust people… I guess…I guess some people just don’t deserve it, and the only way you can tell is to put yourself out there, you know?”

Silence. Then, “I guess so.”

She sighed and swatted the pillow away. “Ugh. I’m sorry, Xander. I didn’t mean to come in here and dump this all out on you. I came hoping Adrian would be here so I could kick him in the balls.”

Xander smiled at her. “Many have done just that, and it still hasn’t sunk in.”

She scowled. “Figures.”

“Just…don’t even give him the satisfaction of seeing you upset. Ignore him, don’t even call him out on it.”

Her face brightened a bit. “Yeah…leave him wondering. That’ll drive him nuts, won’t it?”

“Oh, yeah. He won’t be able to handle that you just don’t want him anymore.”

Finally, a real smile.

“His ego will be crushed. You’ll have to keep me updated on his moping.” She sat up and took his large hand in her delicate one. “Thanks, Xander. You’re a good guy.”

He swallowed nervously. “Uh, thanks. I try.”

“Seriously, like, how does he keep getting away with it? He’s been here two years…you’d think that his reputation would have gotten the better of him by now and all the girls would know what a player he is.”

She was staring across the room at Adrian’s bed. Xander knew she was thinking of the nights she’d spent there. He was thinking of them, too, and wishing the noises coming from that bed hadn’t woken him up on several occasions. He said nothing.

“Well, I guess I knew better, but I went after him anyway,” she admitted, making a face. “I must really be a masochist.”

Xander picked at a thread on his comforter, not knowing what to say.

“Gosh,” August said, smacking her forehead, “I’m so sorry, Xander. I just keep going. Please, tell me to shut up.”

“Nah, it’s okay.”

“You’re so sweet for sitting here with me and listening,” she said quietly. “So…who are you seeing these days?”

He let out an involuntary snort.


“Well, I’m seeing the insides of my books,” he joked. “My computer screen, the inside of the refrigerator…but the food court and I really have something special going. I think it might be the real thing.”

August was staring at him, sweeping her blue eyes over his round figure and returning to his face, searchingly. She lifted her hand and brushed his hair off his forehead. “Xander…”

Ice crept through his muscles, paralyzing him. “What?”

Still she stared. Her fingers began a slow trace down the side of his face, trailing over his temple, his pudgy cheek, and brushing his jaw. She tilted her head, and whispered, “Kiss me, Xander.”

“I…what?” he choked out.

“Kiss me.”

“Are…are you sure?” he asked. This was what he’d wanted, what he’d dreamed of, for the past two years, and here she was, telling him to do it. To kiss her. To enfold her with his mass and feel himself engulf her, so tiny and fragile, like a sparrow in a storm cloud.

Her hand was on the back of his neck now, guiding his head down towards her. “Yes,” she breathed. “Kiss me.”

“But –“


Her lips met his, and heat surged through his limbs like a tidal wave, washing away all traces of the icy hesitation he’d felt before. He eagerly returned her kiss, his arms embracing her and gently rubbing her back while she tugged lightly on his hair.

It seemed like seconds or hours later when August lay back on the bed and he earnestly followed, not wanting to break their contact.

“Ouch,” she complained, her voice muffled by Xander’s lips. “You’re squashing me.”

He winced lightly. “Sorry…”

“Just…here, lay next to me.”

He shifted his weight to her side and stroked her hair, devouring her neck. She moaned slightly and squeezed his arm. Her skin tasted like strawberries, he thought. Strawberries and sunlight, just like she smelled. He couldn’t believe he was awake, and that this was actually happening.

Gradually, the passion dwindled until they were simply laying there, Xander with his arms around her, gazing in wonder at the profile of her perfect face, and August still, her eyes closed.



She yawned.

“I’m getting tired,” she confessed. “I’d better get back to my room.”

“Oh, sure,” he said, moving away from her so she could rise from the bed.

She sat up and stretched, then got to her feet. Xander sat up, but stayed on the bed a moment longer, trying to regain his equilibrium.

“Well,” she said, making her way over to the door. “I guess I’ll see you, Xander.”

He quickly rose and opened the door for her. “Uh, sure, August…” he said awkwardly.

She smiled at him and touched his cheek. “Have a good night, Xander.”

“You, too, August. Sweet dreams.”

Her smile lit up the dim hallway as she glanced back at him over her shoulder. He waited until he saw her curvy little form disappear around the corner, and then closed the door and leaned back against it, blinking in shock. He’d just made out with August Dawes, the girl he’d been in love with for two long years. Two years of being casual acquaintances, of overhearing her complain that there were no decent men left in the world. Two years of watching her move from athletic frat boy jerk to athletic frat boy jerk, and then, worst of all, to his vile roommate. And he’d just spent the last half hour kissing her, feeling the heat of her body in his hands, the slow rhythm of her breath as he held her in his arms.

He stared dumbly at his hands, then at his reflection in the mirror that hung on the closet door to his left. He, Xander Rockwood, fat, English-geek loser, had just made out with one of the sweetest, most beautiful girls on campus. And she’d asked him to do it.

He grinned stupidly at himself and began singing under his breath as he returned to his paper.


Aug 20, 2007
“Dude,” Adrian commented as Xander flung another shirt back into his closet. “You got a hot date or something?”

“Um, not exactly,” he muttered as he considered a green button-down. “Are…are you going to the ODE house tonight?”

His roommate shrugged at him from across the room, where he was lounging on his bed with his laptop.

“I might later. Me and the guys are going down to the Brew Haus for Jager night first.” He sat up straighter, flipping his blonde locks out of his eyes. “You’re going to a frat party?”

“I, uh…maybe. Rhys is pledging, he invited me. He’s bugging me to pledge, too.” Xander tossed the garment back when he realized that he’d tried it on a few weeks ago and had popped a button off it when he’d tried to sit down.

“Whoa, talk about out of character, buddy. Well, if you weren’t, like, eight times bigger than me I’d let you borrow a shirt, but, y’know…I doubt it would work.”

“Yeah, thanks,” he replied wryly.

It was Friday, three nights after he and August had kissed, and he hadn’t seen her around since then. But he knew from her away message that tonight she’d be at the frat party, so when his friend Rhys had pestered him once again to make an appearance, he’d surprised him by agreeing to show.

Now he was having second thoughts, as he couldn’t find anything in his closet that fit him. He knew he’d gained weight again since he’d started school a little over a month ago, but he hadn’t thought it was much – his t-shirts had become a bit tighter, sure, but they still fit him. But the fact that his nicer clothing was having difficulty even being fastened was making it very clear that the weight he’d added to his already large frame was more than he’d imagined.

He sighed, shutting the closet door. “I guess I’m going to the mall. You need anything?” he asked his roommate.

“Nah, I’m good. I’m going over to Liza’s room soon, anyway.” Adrian grinned. “It’s good to be me.”

“Right.” Xander shook his head, but Adrian was already typing something on his computer, probably a message to one of his girls. At least now that August had seen him for what he was, there would be one less girl in that group. “Well, I’m going. Maybe I’ll see you later.”

“Sure, bro,” Adrian said distractedly.

After grabbing his keys and his wallet, Xander shut the door behind him and descended the stairs to the parking lot. It was mostly deserted at this time on a Friday, everyone from the dorm either having gone home for the weekend or gone out. He mused upon the fact that, for once, he would be going out on a Friday night, to a frat party, no less. If he could find something to wear, that is.

- - - - -

He arrived at the mall in a reasonable amount of time and quickly made his way inside, smelling that peculiar combination of cinnamon, paper money, and cleaning supplies that was the “mall smell.” He’d chosen the entrance that was closest to the escalators to make for what he hoped would be a speedy trip in and out. Xander didn’t like to hang around the mall – or any public place, really – any longer than he had to, especially on Fridays. Fridays, he’d found, were when everyone and their second cousin came out with what seemed to be the sole purpose of gawking at him.

As he stepped off the escalator on the third floor and came to stand in front of the glowing mall map, trying to remember which side the “big and tall” store was on, he caught sight of a girl who was doing just that: gawking at him. He glanced at her and quickly looked back at the sign, for he didn’t want to break that unspoken fat guy rule and be caught staring at someone who was obviously in a much higher social class than he. Especially when her expression gave the distinct impression that something about him greatly amused her. Her long red hair spilled over her shoulder in a wavy cascade, shimmering in the sunlight streaming in from the skylights above her. She was leaning nonchalantly against the railing off to his left, clad in black leather pants and a tight black top, displaying every curve as she smirked at him.

He felt his face grow hot under her gaze, and began to walk away from her, hoping that she wouldn’t say anything. He was certainly used to being made fun of, but that didn’t mean he sought it out. The glow of Think Big beckoned to him, and he gratefully accepted its refuge, stepping inside the dimly lit clothing store.

“Good afternoon, sir, may I help you find something?” one of the salesmen asked him pleasantly after he’d wandered around a bit.

Xander gave him a look. The man was average height, but also average weight. He didn’t quite understand why a skinny guy would work in a store like this.

“Uh, sure, I need a nice shirt,” he said wearily.

“Our dress shirts are located at the front of the store, if you’ll follow me,” the man told him, leading him back to the entrance. “We have quite a selection…what occasion do you need it for?”

“Just…not a wedding, or anything…” Xander stammered. “It’s…well, it’s for a party. So nothing fancy. Just, like, a plain button down, or something.”

“Alright,” the man nodded as they stopped in front of the display of solid colored button down shirts. “Here we are. What size were you looking for?”

He sighed, his gaze flitting around, trying to delay the inevitable admission that he’d gone up a size. And then he froze. She was outside the store, lounging on a bench, staring at him. She’d followed him, and she was watching him.

Ignore it, he told himself, gritting his teeth. You know some girls get off on getting under your skin. Ignore her.

“A, uh…a four X,” he told the clerk in a small voice, still watching the girl out of the side of his vision.

She laughed. Somehow, she’d heard him, and she was laughing at him.
He clenched his fists.

The clerk, Xander was grateful to see, seemed unphased. “Well, in this style, the four X comes in white, black, navy, and grey. And we’re having a special: buy one, get one half-off.”

“I’ll, uh…I’ll take a black and a navy.”

“Would you like to try one on? Just to make sure it fits well?”

Xander grimaced. “I can just put one on over my shirt; I don’t need to go in the dressing room. I mean, if that’s okay.”


He handed Xander the black one, and he shyly turned and moved behind one of the racks as he pulled the garment on, not wanting the girl to see if it didn’t fit. Luckily, it did – it even buttoned with a bit of room to spare. He sighed with relief, and told the clerk he’d take them.

He was quickly rung out and given a pile of coupons, and then left to face the red-haired girl again. He tried to steel himself as he walked away from the counter, but when he got back out into the mall, she was nowhere in sight. Xander let out the breath he’d been holding and hurried out of the building, wanting to be sure he wouldn’t run into her again. By the time he’d gotten back out onto the highway, all thoughts of the red-haired girl were gone, replaced by anxious musings of what he would say to August later that night.


Aug 20, 2007
“Xander, I can’t believe you actually came out of your cave!” Rhys exclaimed as they approached the frat house, which was brightly lit and pumping with music.

“Yeah, well…neither can I, really,” Xander replied, tugging anxiously at his new shirt.

“So do you think you’re going to pledge?” his friend pestered.

“I don’t know, Rhys. Probably not. I’m too antisocial to do this kind of thing on a regular basis.”

“Aw, come on, man, it’d be good for you. Y’know,” Rhys reasoned, adjusting his glasses, “get to meet some girls.”

Xander raised his eyebrows, looking down at Rhys. He was rail thin and a good six inches shorter than Xander, who was 6’3”. While his tendencies towards nerdiness weren’t extreme, they were definitely there. That was how the two of them had come to be friends: freshman year, they’d both practically lived in the library, and had struck up a conversation when Rhys had seen Xander reading an obscure science fiction novel that he was a big fan of.

Rhys frowned at him. “Don’t tell me you’re still hung up on August.”

He shrugged.

“Come on, big guy, I thought she was with your roommate?”

“Past tense.”

“She finally caught on, eh?”


His friend’s frown deepened. “Look, Xander, do you really want to do that to yourself?”

Xander chose not to answer, as by that time, they were ascending the steps to the huge old building that had been the Omicron Delta Epsilon house for the entirety of the college’s history.

He didn’t share much of the inner workings of his brain with anyone, even Rhys, whom he considered to be a good friend. But Rhys was very observant, and had watched Xander watching August for two years now. It hadn’t taken him long to ask him why he didn’t pursue her. Xander had given an evasive answer about different social circles, but Rhys had inquired about August’s past paramours enough to know that the main reason was his size. August had never been involved with anyone who was anything less than GQ cover material. He’d never brought it up to him, but Xander knew that he knew. His line of “why don’t you go after her?” had changed to “she’s a frat girl, big guy, don’t waste your time.”

A nice way of saying she’d never be interested in a fatty like him.

But now she was…or, at least, he thought she was. She wouldn’t have made out with him if she wasn’t interested, right? He shook his head as they stepped into the house. She had to be into him. He’d just have to find her tonight and figure out if she just wanted something casual, or if, as he hoped, she was looking for something more.

He received a few greetings as they mingled through the crowd, but more often than not Rhys was introducing him to this group of people or that. Despite his eccentricities, Rhys was a far more social creature than Xander was, and actually had a fairly good chance of making it into any fraternity on campus. Xander half-heartedly greeted these people who, under any other circumstances, wouldn’t have even looked at him, let alone spoken to him. Rhys had a way of making friends with anyone. Xander thought he’d be a great politician someday.

But after an hour of being introduced to everyone from the guy who wore the school’s mascot suit to the president of the fraternity (the quarterback of the football team, who gave Xander a disgusted look), he still hadn’t seen August. He was beginning to worry that she’d changed her plans as he poured himself another beer from the keg, his eyes scanning the main living space, which was crowded with people. But then he caught sight of a flash of blonde hair, and, sure enough, there she was, over in the corner talking to a group of her sorority sisters.

A steel trap of nerves immediately snapped over his stomach as he debated going over and talking to her. On one hand, he thought he would explode if he couldn’t be near her soon. On the other, the girls she was standing with were not exactly his biggest fans. The one to her left, Krissy, had made a hog joke one day in the cafeteria when he’d gone up for a second tray, and the one next to her, the brunette whose name he thought was Kyla, had had the misfortune of being directly in his path when he’d turned a corner in the Neuman building a few weeks ago. He’d knocked her to the ground and spilled her coffee, and she’d shrieked about him needing to watch where he put his fat ass. He’d apologized, of course, and had offered to buy her another coffee, but she’d huffed off, muttering about how gross fat people were.

He didn’t really want to lay his soul bare to August in that kind of company.

So he tried to watch them without being too creepy, and waited, sipping his beer. Finally, after about twenty minutes, some guys from the soccer team came over to talk to them, and August excused herself, holding up her cup to indicate that she was getting more to drink. Xander nonchalantly positioned himself at the keg again, refilling his red plastic cup, and turned around when he could smell her sweet scent right behind him.

“Oh, hey, Xander!”

“Hey, August.”

She smiled at him. “Wow, I never thought I’d run into you at one of these things.”

“Yeah, I’m not exactly a regular. Rhys dragged me along.”

“Ah, Rhys. I hear ODE really wants him,” she said. “He’s a fun guy.”

“Yeah, he is.”

She looked him up and down somewhat oddly. “You look nice. Is that a new shirt?”

He blushed, suddenly feeling huge. “Um, yeah,” he replied simply.

“It’s nice,” she said politely.

And “nice” is code for “it makes you look like a whale,” he thought dismally.

They made small talk for a few minutes about classes, and then August said, “Hey, can I ask you something?”

Xander tensed up, hopeful that the conversation was turning to their relationship. “Sure,” he said.

“Um… Do you know if Adrian’s going to be here tonight?” She glanced around, looking somewhat anxious.

Maybe she just doesn’t want to have to see him, he reasoned with himself before he could panic. “Uh, he said he might stop by later. He and his friends were going to the Brew Haus tonight. But they’ll probably be there until at least one, so if you don’t want to run into him…”

“Oh,” she said, looking somewhat disappointed. “Well, actually, I wanted to talk to him. I don’t know, I think I might have been overreacting before. I mean, Chelsea’s a notorious liar…and even if he was screwing around, I never exactly made it clear to him that I wanted us to be exclusive.”

Xander found himself incapable of a response as his stomach churned and his internal temperature controls went haywire.

August continued, “I mean, I really, really like him…and I know that he really likes me, too. I think we just have to get things straight and work it out.” She looked at him. “Are you okay?”

“I-I… Uh, y-yeah,” he stuttered out, trying to mask his distress.

“Are you sure?” She furrowed her brow. “Xander, you didn’t…you didn’t think that…that you and I…” Her eyes widened with realization. “Oh, Xander…”

“No, no, not at all.”

“I mean, I was upset, and…and you were there… It didn’t mean anything, you know? We’re just friends.”

“Oh, yeah, I know that.”

“I’m so sorry…”

“No, it’s okay, I’m okay. Don’t worry about it.” He took a deep breath and tried to stop the room from spinning. “Well, good luck. I, uh…I have to go find Rhys. Have fun.” He turned and walked away without waiting for her reply.

The room swam before his eyes as he stumbled through the crowd towards the door, thinking of nothing but being outside in the fresh air. The smell of the place began to overcome his senses, and he was finding it difficult to breathe.

“Xander? Hey, Xander! What’s wrong? You look like crap, man.” Rhys was suddenly at his side, following him as he shoved his way through the horde of buzzed co-eds. “I saw you over there talking to August; what happened?”

Xander felt his stomach lurch at the mention of her name. “Nothing. Not feeling well. Don’t worry about me, just stay and have fun. I’ll talk to you later,” he told him, the finality in his voice leaving no room for negotiation.

“Okay, well…let me know later if you’re alright!” Rhys called after him as he exited the building.

The cool October air wrapped around him, the scent of the dying leaves trying valiantly to clear the stench out of his lungs as he began to walk. He didn’t know where he was going, but he couldn’t stay still, and he couldn’t go back to his room. Adrian might be there, and even if he wasn’t, he couldn’t be inside right now. His thoughts always had a way of increasing in intensity when he was confined, and he couldn’t afford to let that happen.


Aug 20, 2007
He walked for some time, uncaring of his direction, until he found himself in front of a diner. His stomach growled hungrily, demanding sustenance. Well, who cares, he told himself angrily. I’m never going to be anything but a big fat tub of lard that nobody wants, so why not?

He went inside and got a table, trying desperately to distract himself from the fact that he couldn’t comfortably fit in a booth and had to get a table with loose chairs on one side. After barely glancing at the menu, he told the waitress that he wanted a large soda, a stack of pancakes, a plate of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, fried apples, and three slices of cheesecake. He could feel the strange look she gave him, but chose to ignore it, looking at the ads on the paper placemat she’d laid in front of him instead.

Soon his food was in front of him, and he began to wolf it down mindlessly, taking comfort in the familiar and delicious tastes and smells. A voice in the back of his mind told him he shouldn’t be doing this, but he firmly told it to shut the hell up.

He was on his second-to-last slice of cheesecake when a voice spoke from across the table. “Y’know, most people would just go and get drunk.”

Xander flinched, dropping his fork as he looked up from his plate. Greenish-gold eyes stared back at him, framed by long, wavy red hair. The girl from the mall. He instantly returned his gaze to the plate, his face burning. “What do you want?”

She ignored his question, and continued. “Seriously, this is kind of pathetic. Your little crush turns you down, and your way of dealing is to go and stuff yourself silly?”

He felt panic and mortification beginning to course through his veins, increasing the redness in his face. “How…”

“Also,” she continued, “this little coping strategy of yours is probably the reason you had to go up a size today.”

Anger joined the other emotions bubbling inside him. “Go away. Leave me alone.”

“Sorry, Pudge, we’ve got business to attend to.”

“That’s not my name.” He itched to continue eating his cheesecake, but stopped himself. He didn’t need any more embarrassment. And he could finish it after he got rid of her.

“I know it’s not your name. Your name is Xander Lucas Rockwood. But I’m going to call you Pudge, because it’s more suited to your physical attributes.” She gave him a grin. “I need you to come with me.”


“It’s a little difficult to explain here, especially when your attention is more focused on your dessert than on what I have to tell you. So why don’t you finish cramming that down, and we’ll get out of here and discuss things?”

He glared at her. She was gorgeous, so there had to be some kind of catch.

“I don’t know who you are or anything about you, and I don’t really want to. Go away,” he repeated.

She smirked at him. “Wow, is that how you talk to all the girls?” She batted her eyelashes. “Seriously, Pudge, this is important.”

“Look,” he told her, “I’ve had a rotten day, and I don’t need it made worse. Go make fun of someone else, just leave me alone.” He picked up his fork and dug into his cheesecake again, trying to make it clear that he wasn’t going to speak to her anymore.

He could feel her exasperation with him. “I’m not making fun of you, gosh. I really need you to come with me. I’m serious.”

“Yeah, well so am I,” he growled through clenched teeth, glowering at her. “Get the hell away from me. I’m not falling for the way-too-good-for-me-beautiful-girl-magically-appearing-with-promises-to-make-my-life-better shtick. Go get your jollies tormenting some other fat loser, because this one has reached his crap limit for the day. So screw off.”

Xander threw a few bills for a tip onto the table, grabbed his plate of cheesecake and the bill and stood, shoving the chair under and not bothering to look for a reaction from the girl. He stopped and grabbed a takeout container at the waitress’ station and dumped his dessert into it, then took his bill to the counter and paid.

Please don’t follow me, please don’t follow me, he thought over and over as he lumbered down the concrete steps into the damp, neon-lit night air. Something about the girl had genuinely unsettled him, but he couldn’t figure out what. Just don’t think about it, he told himself. He tried to find a different place for his mind to focus on, but it immediately illuminated August’s face and the brief expression of disgust that he’d sworn he’d seen pass across it when she’d realized that he’d thought they could be together.

“Stupid,” he muttered aloud as he stalked along the sidewalk, barely watching where he was going. “Stupid, fat idiot. What the hell were you thinking?”

“Hey…hey, Xan!” a slurred voice called from up ahead. “Xander…’zat you?”

He felt as if he sank four inches into the concrete as Adrian and his buddies, who looked as if they’d just left the bar up the block, approached him. “Hey, Adrian...”

“Dude…” his roommate began loudly, trying to be heard over his friends, who were jeering at Xander. “What’s up, dude?”

“Nothing. Headed back to the room.”

“Dude…you’re-“ he hiccupped, “you’re really…really fat, d’you know that? You’re like…seriously…like huge, man.”

“Yeah, he’s a real porker!” a tall, muscular guy spit out, laughing.

Xander felt like vomiting. “I gotta go, Adrian.”

But his roommate kept going, gazing glassy-eyed at Xander’s midsection. “Like…I seriously wonder…how you fit through the door. And dude!” He swiped at the bag in Xander’s hand. “You totally got…got food, didn’t you?”
He sunk a finger into Xander’s belly. “Geeeeeeez,” he drawled. “D’you really think you shoulda…should eat that crap?”

Humiliated, Xander took a few steps back, clenching his fists as hard as he could. He turned around and took off in the other direction at as fast a pace as he could manage without getting too out of breath, wishing desperately that he could just drop out of his current plane of existence and into nothingness.

He hadn’t always hated the way he looked. Up until eighth grade, he’d actually liked being fat; had loved the fact that he was taller and bigger than everyone else in his school. He’d liked the way his body felt, all soft and squishy but strong underneath. Also, his dad was a bigger guy, and Xander had liked knowing that he’d grow up to look like the man he idolized. But then puberty hit, and with the onslaught of hormones had come interest in girls and, somehow, an extra forty-five pounds on his already-chubby frame. The two were not compatible, and it didn’t take him long to figure it out. It only took one girl, his ninth grade crush, Jayna, telling him he was too fat to date for him to get the picture. After that horrible night at the dance, he’d come home and stared in the mirror at his shirtless body, cursing the belly he’d previously enjoyed.

Xander stood before the mirror on Adrian’s closet door later that night, doing the very same thing. Five years and more than one hundred additional pounds later, he was back to those horrible feelings of inadequacy and hopelessness. He knew perfectly well that his weight was the main factor in August’s refusal to see him as a worthy relationship prospect. She was popular, smart, and pretty; a sorority girl with an image to maintain. She could never be seen with an oaf like him, and he knew it. He’d known it all along, but he’d still allowed himself to hope…

He shook his head, taking a handful of his abundant middle and jiggling it a bit, sighing. He didn’t hate his appearance all the time. Xander knew that he was a decent-looking guy, and even occasionally considered himself attractive, fat and all. He could see the appeal of being “comfortable.” He even had moments in which he still enjoyed being fat, but then he’d feel like a weirdo for liking such a thing, and would try to put it out of his head.

Tonight, though, there was no enjoying his soft physique. After grimacing at his reflection one more time, he pulled on his standard sleeping attire, baggy gym shorts and a t-shirt, and flicked off the overhead light.

The door opened a few hours later, spilling light from the hallway fluorescents across Xander’s face, causing him to stir. He threw an arm across his eyes and rolled away from the light, groggily wishing that Adrian could find somewhere else to stay on weekends instead of always waking him up. The door slammed shut, returning the room to darkness.



“Because Xander’s here, isn’t he?” a female voice whispered loudly.

His awareness brightened, but he stayed still.

“Aw, who cares? He sleeps like a rock, anyway,” Adrian said.

“Yeah, a big, fat rock,” she giggled.

“I know, right? He’s friggin’ huge.”

“’Huge’ is an understatement. Y’know, he has a crush on me,” she said.

Adrian laughed loudly. “Oh, man, are you serious? That’s golden.”

“Shh! You’re gonna wake the big lug! I don’t want him to know I’m here.”

“Why not?”

Their voices moved across the room, until Xander could tell they were standing by Adrian’s bed, directly across from where he was laying, frozen.

“I don’t know, I mean…he’s a sweet guy…I don’t really want to hurt him. Especially after…”

“After what?”

Xander could hear a zipper being pulled down, and a brief rustle of cloth.
“Well, earlier this week, I came here to freak out at you because I was all upset, and you weren’t here, but he was…and he talked to me and made me feel better, and I kissed him. You know, it didn’t actually mean anything. And it totally gave him the wrong idea. He came to the ODE house tonight, all dressed up in a brand new shirt, looking for me.”

His roommate giggled. “That’s why he was in here flinging crap all over the place, looking for something to wear. He wanted to impress his sweet little August…”

A few long seconds ticked by. They were kissing. Then he heard the bedsprings creak, and wished that he could go deaf. No such luck.

“Yeah, well, you should have seen the look on his face when I told him it didn’t mean anything and I only kissed him because I was a complete emotional wreck and didn’t know any better. You’d have thought someone had just slaughtered a puppy in front of him. It was awful. I mean, I feel bad about it…but it was pretty stupid of him to think I’d ever be attracted to a blob like him.”

“Yes, very stupid…especially when you’ve got a hot piece of ass like me,” Adrian said.

The conversation cut off, and all Xander, now wide awake, could hear for the next hour was the squeaking of the bed and occasional moans and sighs coming from across the room. He stared at the wall, unable to move and incapable of slipping back into the blissful oblivion of unconsciousness, paralyzed by the way that her strawberry sunlight scent wrapped itself around his roommate’s musky one, changing slightly as her excitement rose. He lay awake long after the noises had stopped until his prayers were finally answered and, as the first rays of sunrise were pulling at the curtains, he fell asleep.

(Continued in post 13 of this thread)

Qit el-Remel

Geek and FFA
Oct 7, 2005
Bringing this one over here now, then? Awesome! :D

(I've so figured something out re: one of the later chapters, by the way...)


Library Girl
Staff member
Library Mod
Jun 21, 2008
Hooray - now this lovely story gets the 'much easier to find' place it deserves!

Do we also get some nice new chapters soon, pretty please :batting: ???


Active Member
Nov 13, 2007
oh man! i looked up more of the story cause i couldn't wait!
why didn't you ever finish it? its incredible!

Britt Reid

Library Editor
Oct 28, 2009
Taco, since you obviously know the answer to Tad's question look at the date of the latest installment. Chapter 13 was only posted in December, 2011! This is still very much a work in progress. I counsel patience! :)


Active Member
Nov 13, 2007
Taco, since you obviously know the answer to Tad's question look at the date of the latest installment. Chapter 13 was only posted in December, 2011! This is still very much a work in progress. I counsel patience! :)
oh shoot your right! i thought it stopped in september..
eater way its awesome.


Well-Known Member
Jul 10, 2011
Oh, I'm really enjoying this! It's well written and I really feel for the main character; I'm impatient to read what happens next. Excellent work.


Aug 20, 2007
The next few months passed Xander by like leaves in the wind. He went about his days in a fog, going to classes, doing homework, reading, eating, and sleeping without any real knowledge or care for what he was doing. If Adrian was there in the room, he blasted music through his ear buds, and if August was there, he simply left and went to the library or the food court. He found it increasingly difficult to concentrate, and though he was still doing well in all his classes, Rhys noticed that his large friend wasn’t all there.



They’d been sitting in the food court after the one class they had together, trying to get ideas for a head start on their philosophy final. Xander was staring out the windows at the freezing rain that was driving itself into the ground, coating the world with a slick grey membrane.

“Where are you, man? That’s the third time I’ve said your name.”

“Oh, sorry. I didn’t get a lot of sleep last night, I guess I’m kind of out of it,” Xander explained.

Rhys gave him a concerned look. “You haven’t been sleeping a lot at all lately. You okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine. I was just at the library pretty late.”

“Ah. I was worried that Adrian and August might be keeping you up.”

Xander’s head twitched so he was facing Rhys, and he blushed. “No.”

Rhys nodded, looking unconvinced. “So what were you working on?”


“At the library. What were you working on at the library?”

“Oh, uh…”

“Oh, that’s right,” Rhys said, nodding, “you were working on being a miserable sonofabitch, pining away for a girl who’d rather be treated like dirt than give you the time of day.”

Xander gritted his teeth.

“Look, Xander, you’ve got to let it go. She made her choice, and it was a dumb one, but it’s over and done with. Forget her. Get some sleep.”

“I’m fine. She’s forgotten. I just don’t want to be there when they’re screwing so loud the people below us call to complain,” he retorted.

Rhys sighed. “It sucks, man. Maybe you can put in for a room transfer for next semester. I think the deadline isn’t until next week.”

“I’ve already tried,” Xander answered, glaring out the windows again. “There are no openings, and no one will switch with me.”

“Will Adrian switch out? I’d have thought he’d want to live in the Delt house.”

“They barely have room for the seniors. He’s been trying all semester, but they don’t have anywhere to put him. It’s not exactly like he chose to room with me in the first place.”

“Well, y’know, if worse comes to worse, you can come sleep on my floor if you need to. Jay will be okay with it.”

“Thanks, but I’m fine. The semester’s almost over, anyway. I’m staying for winter term, but he’s going home, so I’ll have the place to myself for a while. I’ll sleep then.”

“Why don’t you go home for a weekend or something? Decompress a bit, chill with people there.”

Xander shook his head. “I can’t go home like this,” he muttered.

Rhys gave him a confused look. “What are you talking about?”

“Nothing. I’ve got to get going; I need to work on my journalism homework. Let me know if you think of anything for this.” The chair creaked in relief as he stood, the sound making him cringe. Nevertheless, he stopped at the cash register on his way out and swiped his ID to pay for five brownies, which he shoved in his bag as he lumbered out of the crowded area, stopping only to toss the wrapper of the brownie he was currently inhaling into a trash can.

He concentrated on remaining upright as he walked gingerly across the icy sidewalks that shone in the streetlamps, which had switched on in anticipation of the encroaching darkness. It was only four-thirty, but Xander was exhausted. He really hadn’t gotten much sleep the night before, unless one could count the twenty minutes he’d fallen asleep in the library for. When he’d finally gone back to his room around three am, he’d walked in on Adrian and August making out in bed…sans clothing. Red-faced and shaking, overwhelmed by the scent of their passion, he’d closed the door and retreated to the lounge, where he’d tried to sleep, and had failed. It was light out before he’d been sure that they were asleep, and he was able to slip back into his room and collapse into bed. Not desiring a repeat of that scenario, he tried to fish his roommate’s schedule out of the soupy mess of his thoughts to figure out if he would be able to grab a quick nap while Adrian was still in class.

It’s…what is it, Thursday? I think it’s Thursday…yeah. So Adrian should be…he should be in physics, until seven forty-five…it starts at four forty-five, I think…and it’s with…with her.

At that moment, he glanced towards the science building, and there they were. August, shrieking and laughing as a grinning Adrian tried to pull the hood of her winter parka off her head. She swatted at him, and he caught her arm and pulled her into an embrace.

Xander forced his eyes back to the pavement. “A nap sounds really good right now,” he mumbled to himself.

Fifteen minutes later, out of breath from the stairs, he turned the key in the lock and entered his and Adrian’s room. A sulfury scent spilled out into the hallway and invaded his airways as he stepped over the threshold. His lungs spasmed, sending him into a coughing fit as he crossed the room and shoved the windows open.

“What the hell,” he said. He peered around the room, trying to locate the source of the foul odor, but saw nothing amiss. He chalked it up to his building’s ancient heating system, and, frowning, he dumped his bag out on his desk and sifted through his books, folders, and tablets for his brownies. He unwrapped one and shoved the whole thing in his mouth with a sigh as he sat, causing his desk chair to groan in protest.

“Screw you,” he told it irritably from around the brownie. Xander glanced down at himself and momentarily stopped chewing, a slight panic grasping his heart. His shirt was tight. So were his pants. They dug hard into his waist when he sat, making his gut look that much larger. And it was larger, he knew. Larger than it had been two months ago. He swallowed the brownie and reached for another, resigned to his fate.
What does it even matter? he asked himself.

Just then, a movement over on Adrian’s side of the room caught his attention. He looked over towards his roommate’s desk and saw a blurry dark shape about the size of a basketball perched on the desk, twitching. Xander shot out of his chair and advanced on the unidentified object, but, with a faint cracking sound, it disappeared.

He got down on his hands and knees and examined the space under the desk and the mess under Adrian’s bed, looking for the…whatever it was that had been there a moment ago. He opened the closets and even pulled the desks and the dressers away from the wall to see if the thing could be hiding behind them, but he found nothing. The smell finally seemed to be dissipating, too.

Xander sat on his bed, rubbing his eyes hard with clenched fists. “I’m so exhausted I’m seeing things,” he muttered. “I’m going crazy. Just two more weeks,” he told himself. “Two more weeks until he leaves and I can sleep. Well, at least I can take a bit of a nap now while they’re at class.”

He rose from the bed and grabbed a pair of gym shorts and a t-shirt to change into from his dresser. Just as he pulled his shirt over his head, he heard a key turn in the lock, and the door opened.

“Oh!” August shrieked, seeing Xander standing there, shirtless, gaping at her.

He saw her eyes fix on his belly, and she cringed. His face flaming, he turned away from her and yanked his t-shirt on.

“I-I’m sorry, Xander, Adrian said you’d be in class, I didn’t think anyone would be here…”

Xander just nodded, still facing the other direction.

“I just had to come back, I was here earlier and I forgot my physics homework, since Adrian and I were working on it together, and if I don’t hand it in it’s ten points off for the class…” she rambled.


He heard her sifting through the papers on his roommate’s desk for a few moments, then silence.



“I…I’m sorry. Y’know…you…you’re a sweet guy, Xander,” she told him, “but…you know I could never date you. If…if things were different…I mean, you know…if you…if you weren’t…so…so big…I would. But…I just…I could never be with a guy who didn’t take care of himself, no matter how sweet he was. So…I guess I just wanted to tell you that. You’re a great guy, on the inside.”

Xander barked a short, cynical laugh. “Yeah. I know. On the inside.”

“Okay, well…see you, Xander.”

He heard her open and then close the door, but still he stared out the window at the sleet pouring out of the sky, smelling the crisp, cold scent of the approaching winter coating the world. He willed the ice to coat his heart, to lock it up it so that its wretched, pained pounding would slow. He changed into his shorts, draped his other clothing over his desk chair, and climbed into bed. He was asleep in seconds, and dreaming the things his mind wouldn’t allow to surface in his waking hours.


Aug 20, 2007
“Hello?” he said groggily.

“Hello, dear, did I wake you? It’s seven o’clock; what are you doing asleep?”

“Just…just taking a nap, Mom. I’ve…I’ve been up late doing my…Brit Lit final,” he fibbed, sitting up and gazing around his room, disoriented by the darkness. He flipped on the floor lamp behind his bed.

“Alright, you just make sure you’re getting enough rest. You know you tend to eat more when you’re tired.”

Xander sighed. “What did you want, Mom?”

“I wanted to call to remind you that your father’s marathon is next Friday.”

“Marathon? They do those in December?”

He heard his mother make a clucking noise. “I knew you’d forget. Yes, they do those in December. The Fording 5k, remember? It’s sponsored by the clinic where he had his bypass done? This week is your father’s five year anniversary, so it’s a very special race for him. You’re coming home to see him, right?”

“I…” Xander faltered, swallowing hard as he searched for a response. “I can’t, Mom, I have a final that day…”

“Oh, Xander,” she sighed, her voice full of disappointment. “Can’t you take it another day?”

“No, Mom, they won’t let you do that. I have another final on Saturday, too,” he finished, hoping he wasn’t pushing it.

“Alright, alright. School comes first. But you will be coming home for Christmas, right?”

“I…I’m not sure. The winter term course work is pretty intense. I don’t know if I’ll be able to.” He stood up and stretched, then rifled through the pile of stuff on his desk for a brownie.

“What class are you taking again?”

“Geology,” he said, fiddling with the wrapper.

“But you’re an English major, why do you need to take geology?”

“I need two science classes for my gen. ed. requirements, Mom.” He put the package to his mouth and tore the plastic open with his teeth.

“What on earth was that?”

He blushed, even though he knew she didn’t know what he was doing. “I was holding the phone with my shoulder; the speaker must have brushed up against my face.”

“Oh. Well, please try to get home? We haven’t seen you since August.”

“I know, I know. I’ll try. Look, I’ve got to go; I’m supposed to meet Rhys at seven thirty. Tell Dad and Alexis I said hi.”

“I will. Good luck with your finals, dear. I love you.”

“Thanks. I love you, too, Mom.”

“And come home soon!”

“Yeah, okay. Bye.”

He hung up and chucked his cell phone onto his bed with one hand, lifting his brownie to his mouth with the other and taking a bite as he sat at his desk. He marveled at how easy it had become to lie to his mother. Not that she made it difficult: her slightly spacey demeanor made coming up with stories to cover his ass quite simple. What struck him now, however, was that when it came to certain situations, he no longer felt the slightest bit of remorse doing it. He knew that his father, on the other hand, would most likely see through his attempts to skip out on family time. After cramming the rest of his brownie in his mouth, he rose, grabbed his cell phone, and switched it off to prevent anyone else from disturbing his precious few hours of peace.

“’Cause heaven forbid I miss his stupid skinny race,” Xander muttered bitterly, acknowledging the longing behind his statement like an old wound, healed on the surface but festering under the skin. He knew that if he really wanted to go through with it, he would probably qualify for the gastric bypass surgery as well, and his parents’ insurance would cover it. He could be thin within six months. Could graduate from college in a normal gown, not one they’d have to make especially for him. He could even ask a girl out on a date without expecting to be laughed at. But he couldn’t bring himself to do it. He knew that some small, strange part of him was terrified of it…that part of him that also liked being fat.

The part of me that’s going to go to the food court before it closes and get more food to feed my fat ass, he thought wryly to himself as he threw the wrapper of his last brownie in the garbage can. He dressed quickly and headed out the door.

The weather had not improved by the time he made it to the food court on the other side of campus. He sighed with relief as he ducked inside the bustling building, shaking ice from his hair and stomping his feet on the carpet to banish the moisture from his shoes. Hmm, what do I want, he asked himself as he glanced around at the fast food restaurant-style menus lining the walls, the intensely delicious smells igniting his appetite. Pizza…maybe some pasta, too…yeah, it’s Wednesday, they have that great tortellini alfredo tonight…and I think I could go for some cheeseburgers and fries. He stepped up to the counter, his stomach grumbling in anticipation.

“Well, hello, there, darlin’, how you doin’ tonight?”

“Hey, Sheriece, I’m okay, how are you?” he answered the large black woman with a smile. He was always glad when Sheriece was working. She was the only food service worker who didn’t give him disgusted looks when he ordered his usual truckload of food. She always made conversation with him, and made sure to sneak him a little extra food and not charge him for it. It wasn’t great for his physique, but it comforted him to have a friend in a place that could potentially be very dangerous for him.

“I’m just peachy keen now that you’re here, honey, but I do not look forward to goin’ home in that mess out there!” she exclaimed, slipping on a pair of plastic gloves.

“The roads actually aren’t too bad, the salt trucks are keeping up with it pretty well, I think. Just be careful on the sidewalks, they’re really slippery.”

She shook her head, sending her masses of curly braids dancing. “Those damn maintenance men! You know what they’re doin’ right now? They’re loungin’ on their lazy asses drinkin’ coffee in the break room, lettin’ that ice build up out there. Just wait ‘til somebody slips and breaks somethin’ and sues the college, then they’ll be gettin’ what’s due.”

They both shared a chuckle, knowing that Sheriece was right. “Is Jerry coming to get you? You don’t have to drive yourself home, do you? How’s he doing?”

“Oh, he’s comin’ to get me. He knows I’m a mess drivin’ in this winter weather. And he’s doin’ quite well, sweetheart, thank you so much for askin’. As much as we hate this ice and snow, it’s a good payday, what with all the plowing contracts he’s gettin’. Doin’ very well. So what can I get for you tonight, sugar? I just cooked up some of that dee-licious alfredo I know you like so much.”

He told her he’d like the large order of the tortellini alfredo, four pieces of garlic bread, two individual supreme pizzas with ranch sauce, and three cheeseburgers with fries, trying to keep his voice down so that the other people milling around wouldn’t hear how much he was getting. But a burst of laughter sounded to his left, causing him to cringe and try to shrink in on himself. He glanced over and saw August’s friends, Kyla and Krissy, standing at the salad bar, giggling as they watched him. Ever since he’d made a fool of himself with August at the frat party, all her friends had found him even more hilarious. He could only assume that August had relayed his pathetic awkwardness to them. Just what I needed. And just wait ‘til they hear what happened this afternoon. Blood rushed to his cheeks, and he quickly turned back to Sheriece.

Sheriece glared at the girls and shook her head, then turned back to Xander. “You wait right here, honey, I’ll have it right up for you.” She reached across the counter and patted his arm before she turned and disappeared into the kitchen. She returned a few minutes later, telling him, “I just got five more minutes on a nice fresh batch of tortellini for you, Xander. So when are you leavin’ me for the holidays?”

“I’m…I’m actually not going home this year.”

Her face fell into a shocked expression. “Why on earth not?”

“Well, I’m taking a winter term class…and it’s just so far to drive for only a few days…” He trailed off, not wanting to tell her the real reason he was avoiding his family.

But Sheriece was a perceptive woman, and they’d been talking to each other since his freshman year, so he knew that she had a feeling for some of his familial woes. She’d also watched him grow from a hefty 280 pounds as a freshman to his current 387. It wasn’t hard to figure out, since every year when he returned to school he’d barely eat anything for the first week, and then resume his normal eating habits until the last few weeks of the semester, when he’d try to stop eating again.

She nodded her head. “The holidays are a rough time for a lot of us, sugar. I’ll be workin’ every day but the Lord’s birthday, so you make sure you come see me and keep me company, you hear? I’ll bring you some of my famous Snickerdoodles.”

He nodded.

“Oh! And there’s the dinger on your pasta.” She again disappeared into the kitchen, and soon emerged with a large brown paper grocery bag, filled with his food. Xander pulled out his ID to pay, and she leaned in, whispering conspiratorially, “I slipped a few extra cheeseburgers in there for you, darlin’. I don’t want ‘em goin’ to waste if nobody orders ‘em by the end of the evenin’.”

He smiled sheepishly at her, simultaneously ashamed and grateful. He knew he’d devour them all. “Thanks, Sheriece. I hope you have a good night. Be careful out there.”

“You, too, sweetheart. Hey – “

He turned back to her, curious. “Yeah?”

She grinned at him. “I just wanted to see that handsome face of yours one more time,” she told him. “Go on, now.”

Xander laughed, thanking her again. But his cheer faded when he saw that Krissy and Kyla were lounging at a table by the door, again watching him and giggling. He gritted his teeth, determined to block them out, and started past them.

“Be careful you don’t slip and fall out there, Lardass,” Kyla sneered at him. “We don’t want an earthquake.”

He swallowed hard, hurrying a little more to get out the door and away from them and almost doing just what they’d warned against as he stepped out of the building and onto the icy sidewalk. At least August wasn’t with them, he reminded himself, trying to see the bright side of things. But thinking of her only served to again remind him of their encounter that afternoon. He cringed again as the moment where her eyes had locked onto his massive belly replayed itself in his mind. That look on her face…am I really that revolting to look at? A sigh escaped his lips as he shuffled along. It doesn’t matter what she thinks. You have no chance with her. That’s it. Forget it.

He turned his focus to getting back to his dorm without falling on his ass. As miserable as it was to have to try to navigate the slick ice with his less-than-agile form, he loved what the freezing rain did to the world around him. The trees looked like they were made of silver glass glimmering in the streetlights, and the world took on a hushed and intoxicating aura of peace and mystery. He was the only one walking the streets, as far as he could see. He took a deep breath, luxuriating in the clean scent of the ice and silence. His eyes closed, he stopped for a moment, feeling the precipitation hit his skin as the quiet swirled around him. What would it be like if I could feel like this all the time?

Xander felt something brush against his leg. He looked down, and immediately the stench of sulfur shot into his lungs as he saw that same strange, blurry, dark shape he had seen earlier in his room throwing itself against him.

“Hey!” he gasped, coughing, trying to shake the thing off. But it had latched hold of the fabric of his jeans, and was trying to scurry up his leg. He shook it harder, and the thing made a distressed ripping noise before it scratched him. He tried to kick at it with his other leg, and felt it loosening its grasp, but then he felt himself losing his balance. Cursing, he saw the ground rising up to meet him, and then nothing.


Aug 20, 2007

Someone was shaking him.

“Hey, are you alright?”

Xander groaned as pain bolted into his shoulder, and then his ass. “Ow.”

“Good, you’re awake.”

He blinked a few times, allowing his vision to come into focus. He was lying on the sidewalk, and someone was standing over him. He quickly tried to sit up.

“Hey, hey, take it easy, man. Did you hit your head?”

Xander could see that the person was a heavily muscled guy about his own age, with bronzed skin and a shaved head. “No, my head’s okay,” he replied. Resuming his efforts to sit, he looked around and saw that his bag of food was miraculously still intact, save for one pizza, which had escaped the bag and its box and was sitting on the ground, already collecting a coating of ice. Satisfied that, though he would miss that pizza, he wouldn’t have to return to the food court, he turned his attention back to the guy standing next to him. He was wearing all black clothing with a somewhat military feeling to it, and something slightly familiar about him made Xander a bit uneasy. He gingerly climbed to his feet, trying not to grab his throbbing behind.

The guy was staring at him with a furrowed brow, looking him up and down. Xander blushed under his scrutiny, hoping he hadn’t seen him fall on his ass like an idiot. But how had he fallen? He remembered the stench of sulfur, and then…

“You’d better come with me,” the guy told him.

“What? Why?”

“Do you remember what happened?”

“I…I just slipped and fell…on the ice,” he fibbed. He did remember that bizarre little thing trying to climb up his leg and scratch him, but he wasn’t going to tell this random guy that he was hallucinating creatures trying to attack him.

“We both know that’s not what happened. And you’d definitely better come with me. You’ve been bitten. I can see it.”

“What?” Xander repeated, bewildered.

“Come on, I’ll explain on the way back.” The guy strode towards the street, making it look as easy as if the sidewalks were bone dry. Xander gathered up his food and hobbled after him, trying to ignore the bruise he was sure was spreading across his butt.

“You’re Xander, I take it.” The guy had opened the passenger door of a huge black Jeep and was gesturing for him to get in.

But Xander stopped dead. Now he knew why the guy seemed familiar. He was wearing the same type of clothing that that redheaded girl who had made fun of him a while ago had been, and he shared a hint of her fire-like scent. “I’m fine, man. Thanks for checking on me, but I’m fine,” he said decisively, turning away.

“Damn,” the guy breathed. “Hey!” He jogged over to Xander. “Look, dude, you’ve got to get this checked out. The poison won’t kill you, but you might wish that it had, in your condition.”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Xander insisted. “Nothing bit me.”

“Pull up your left pants leg and look at the inside of your ankle.”

Xander just gaped at him.

“Fine.” He reached down and yanked at Xander’s jeans, and Xander saw an ugly yellow-ringed bump on his skin. He felt strangely dizzy.

“What the…”

The guy grabbed Xander’s arm and began leading him back to the Jeep. “My name is Darshan, and I apologize that we are being introduced under these less than favorable circumstances. I will take you back to our house and see if Ling can help you. Callisto should not be there, she is also out on patrol. I hope.”

Xander hefted himself into the Jeep, growing increasingly panicky as his head swam and his stomach growled.

“You’d better eat that,” Darshan told him as he buckled himself into the driver’s seat. “You’ll want to have something in your stomach when Ling gives you the remedy.”

He blushed, realizing that he was still clutching his bag of food with a protective ferocity that probably wasn’t necessary under the circumstances. “That’s okay…”

“No, truly, Xander,” Darshan maintained, “you will thank me later for insisting. Please, eat.”

The vehicle came to life with a roar, and they peeled out, somehow not sliding on the ice. Darshan continued explaining things to him as he drove while Xander pretended to eat. He knew that the act of tasting, chewing, and swallowing would have calmed him a bit, as it always did, but he couldn’t let Darshan see just how much food he considered “dinner.” He had never been very comfortable eating in front of others, and found his distress increased by the simple fact that this person was an acquaintance of the red-haired girl, who had so discomfited him.

“Ling is our resident healer: I promise you, she will have you good as new in no time,” Darshan was saying. “Callisto, as I said, will be out on patrol, and Kenryk will be there, as well. He is our, ah, information specialist, I suppose. Have you ever seen that sort of thing before?” he suddenly changed the subject.

Xander tore his gaze away from the grease that was leaking through the papers his cheeseburgers were wrapped in. Sheriece had given him six of them. “What sort of thing?”

“The thing that attacked you.”

“Well…I think…maybe…there might have been something kind of like that in my room this afternoon…”

Darshan looked at him closely, causing Xander to blush yet again. “And what did you notice about it?”

“Um…well…it was small, about as big as a basketball…moved really fast…and it was kind of fuzzy, or blurry. Hard to focus on, I guess. And it reeked like sulfur.”

His expression lit up, somewhat shocked. “So you did smell it, then? And you saw it, too? Do you smell everything, truly?”

“I…don’t know what you’re talking about,” Xander replied, shaking his head and shifting his bulk uncomfortably. “Of course I smell things.”

“Not everyone catches scents the way you do, Xander. You perceive the very essence of things through your nose!” He gave an astonished laugh, and continued, “And I’m quite impressed that you see it, as well, with no aid whatsoever. You’re quite talented, you know.”

But Xander had lost his ability to concentrate on anything but the way his waistband was digging into his soft flesh. What if I’m too big for the Jeep, he wondered irrationally. What if I’m too heavy, and I pop the tire? What if he’s taking me somewhere to put me on display so everyone can laugh at the big fat whale? What if…

His worries were interrupted as Darshan turned into a driveway in front of an ancient-looking Victorian house and killed the engine. He hopped out and came around to the passenger side and opened Xander’s door. Xander just stared at him in horror. He could see Darshan laughing at him. He knew that any second, he was going to start hollering for everyone to come look at the fat kid, to poke and prod him and giggle at the huge sack of food he was holding, to burst into hysterical guffaws over the ill-fitting state of his clothing. “No…please, don’t…” he whispered, trying to shrink himself back into the seat.

“Damnit,” Darshan muttered, “it’s begun. Ling! Kenryk! I need help!” he called.

Xander’s vision had lost focus, and all he could see were swirls of light and color as two others emerged from the house and helped Darshan drag Xander into the house. By the time they had him seated on a couch, he was whimpering in terror, certain that at any second they were going to strip him naked and film him for the whole college to see. He clutched his food tighter, for surely they would take it away from him and never let him eat again, because he didn’t deserve to eat at all, did he?

“Drink this,” a soothing voice interrupted his panicked thoughts. A porcelain mug was pressed into his hands, the liquid inside emitting an acrid stench. He looked up at the small, pretty face in front of him. “Drink this,” she repeated. “It’s alright. It will make you feel better.”

He downed the liquid in one gulp and immediately began coughing.

“Ling, he’s probably going to throw it up. Why can’t you make your remedies taste better?”

“Adding things to improve the taste usually decreases the effectiveness, Ken. We’ve been over this. And I don’t see you complaining when I give you a hangover cure.”

Xander’s vision slowly came back into focus, and he saw that he was sitting in a vast, dimly-lit living room, surrounded by Darshan and two other people. A short, thin guy with close-cropped brown hair was standing next to Darshan, his arms crossed and a curious expression on his face. The girl who had given him the mug was kneeling in front of him, watching his face closely. She had a slim, willowy form, and silky dark hair tied back from her face. She smiled at him.

“Good, it’s starting to work already. You’ll still feel upset for a little while, but it will go away. Just try to relax while I take a look at this bite.” She reached for his ankle, but Xander flinched away.

Please, don’t touch me, he thought, please. I can’t…not a doctor…she’ll make me get on the…

“It’s alright, Xander. I’m not a doctor. I promise I won’t make you get on a scale,” she soothed. Darshan and Kenryk exchanged a look at that. “I just want to take a look at your ankle, okay? Just your ankle,” Ling continued.

After a few moments, he gingerly held out his leg so that Ling could look at it. His mind was clearing, but he still felt incredibly paranoid. Ling’s fingers on his skin were causing him to shiver, even though his rational mind knew that she was only trying to help. He tried to concentrate on his breathing to calm himself, and listening to the girl’s gentle voice.

“You’re lucky, Xander,” she told him. “It looks like it only scratched you with its teeth. If it would have sunken its teeth in, we would have a much harder time getting the venom out. But I think that the tea I gave you should take care of it. I’ll put a poultice on this bite just in case, to draw out any additional venom that might still be there. You should be fine in about an hour.” She smiled at him as she rose, and then left the room.

The shivering had stopped, and he could feel his panic ebbing. He glanced around the room, taking in the elaborate décor. Thick velvet curtains swathed the windows from floor to ceiling, blocking out the lights from the street, and sumptuous fabrics and throws covered the furniture, which was incredibly comfortable. He made a conscious effort to relax his strained muscles and closed his eyes, still trying to slow his labored breathing with the scents of amber and sandalwood wafting through the air of the house.

“Is he asleep?” he heard Kenryk whisper a few moments later.

“I’m not sure…I think so,” Darshan replied quietly.

“What the hell was that all about?”

“The venom, Ken. You know how it works.”

“One of his worst fears is getting on a scale?”

Darshan sighed as Xander tensed a bit. “Well, it appears so. Being as…large…as he is, he’s probably had a very difficult time with doctors scolding him for his weight. And it seems that he thought Ling was a doctor.”

“Well, I guess that makes sense. But I mean…he’s…hasn’t he ever…you know, tried anything?”

Xander had had enough of this line of conversation. He opened his eyes and moved to rise from the couch. “Thank you for everything, but I really have to get going now,” he said.

Kenryk jumped a bit as he and Darshan turned to Xander. “Oh, please, do stay,” Darshan pleaded. “I would very much like to discuss your, ah, talent. I think that we could be quite a bit of help to one another.”

“Look, I really don’t know what you’re talking abou-“

Ling interrupted him as she entered with a steaming porcelain bowl in her hands. “Here we go, Xander,” she said with a smile. “This should draw out any remaining venom and help the wound to heal. Please, sit down.”

He reluctantly lowered his mass back onto the couch, sighing as he inhaled the herbal-scented vapors rising from the bowl. “I usually hate fennel, but that smells pretty good,” he remarked as Ling placed the warm poultice on his ankle. “It smells almost…happy,” he said as an afterthought.

The girl looked up at him, a peculiar expression on her face. “I charged it with healing energy,” she told him. “So it’s true, you can smell energies. Amazing.”

Xander frowned.

“That’s precisely what I’m talking about, Xan-“

“Crap,” Kenryk muttered. “Cee’s in the driveway.”

“What?” Darshan exclaimed in dismay. “How did you miss her?”

The guy turned a disgusted expression to the ceiling. “She shielded. She knew that he was here, and she didn’t want us to know she was coming so she could see him.”

“I’d really like to leave now,” Xander insisted as he removed the poultice, rose, and headed for the door.

“Unfortunately, I think that may be a good idea,” Darshan admitted. “I’ll take you to the front door; Cee always comes in the back way.”

“Too late…” Ken said as they heard a door slam.

Xander froze as he heard footsteps behind him.

“Aww, leaving so soon, Pudge? I just got here.”

With a slight cringe, he turned to face her. Cee, or Callisto, or whatever her name was, was standing in the kitchen doorway. She looked gorgeous. Clad in her usual black leather, her bright hair fell around her face like a flame, and her skin was glowing from the night air. Her fiery scent reached his nostrils, and Xander gulped.

“He was actually just leaving, Callisto,” Darshan explained. “He’s all patched up now.”

“Sad that it took a bite from a Fuom to get him here,” she said with a pout. “He wouldn’t come when I invited him. Why don’t you stay a while, Pudge? I see that you brought food for everyone. Oh, sorry, my bad – that’s just your dinner, isn’t it?”

Xander slipped the sack of food he was holding behind his back as he felt blood rush to his face. Why is she doing this to me? he wondered angrily.

“Cee – “ Ling began, “why don’t you help Ken redo the perimeter? It’s Wednesday, it’s probably weakening.”

“But I’d really like to sit down with Pudge here and have a little chat,” she said, grinning wickedly.

“He’s leaving.” Darshan folded his arms and glared at the girl. “Please go help Ken before you cause any more trouble.”

“What? What did I do?” she said innocently. Ken grabbed her by the arm and dragged her back into the kitchen. “Bye, Pudge! See you soon!” she called behind her.

It was still sleeting as Darshan led Xander out of the house and back to the Jeep. They rode in silence for a short while before Darshan began to apologize. “I am truly sorry for Callisto. She just doesn’t understand –“

“What the hell is her problem?” Xander blurted out, clutching his food to his round belly as he stared out the window.

“I…I’m very sorry, Xander. She just…she doesn’t really have a brain-to-mouth filter. She doesn’t think before she says things. I truly apologize if she made you uncomfortable.”

Xander sighed, but said nothing.

They pulled up to Xander’s dorm, and he didn’t ask Darshan how he knew which one he lived in. “If you would be agreeable to it, I’d love to talk with you about your abilities. The four of us also have similar skills, and I think that we could learn quite a lot from each other. We can meet on neutral ground, just you and I. No Callisto. What do you say?”

After a few moments, Xander agreed, thanked Darshan for his help, and got out of the Jeep into the freezing rain.


Aug 20, 2007
“So you’re really going to stay here all by yourself? You’re not even going home on the 25th?” Rhys asked again as Xander hefted his friend’s bag, which was almost as big as Rhys himself, into the trunk of his tiny Jetta. “Thanks, by the way. Don’t know what I was thinking putting all that junk in one bag…”

“Yes, for the millionth time, I’m staying. My parents think I have a winter term class. I just want some peace and quiet for a while.”

“Alright, man. Well, give me a call if you get lonely. I’ll be glad for any escape from my Aunt Tilda and her little rat dog,” Rhys said, shivering from the cold. The sky was a pale, foreboding grey, and the wind was whipping around them as they stood by Rhys’ car in the K parking lot.

“Good luck with that, man,” Xander told him. “See you when you get back.”
Rhys said his goodbyes as he hopped into his car, then drove away. Xander breathed in the cold air deeply, feeling a pressure lift from his shoulders as he turned and walked back to his dorm. August and Adrian had both left two days ago, and by today, the last of the students were heading home. He would be the only one in his whole building until the middle of January. He was finally alone.

I can’t wait to go back to sleep, he thought as he ascended the steps to his room. He noticed that his breathing was labored even a bit more than usual, but chose to blame it on the bitter cold air outside. He sighed with relief as he closed the door to his room behind him. He always felt so much better when he was alone here; he didn’t even feel as big when Adrian wasn’t around. He supposed it was because the room was so tiny, and Adrian’s scent and personality dominated when he was there, and now Xander had room to stretch out, metaphorically and literally.

“Time for a nap,” he said to himself. He stretched his arms over his head, noticing the way his belly peeked out the bottom of his small shirt as he did so but choosing to ignore it. He’d spent the morning helping Rhys pack and load his car, and he was eager to get back into his warm bed. Rhys was sort of a packrat, and had insisted on taking nearly everything he owned home with him for the winter break, even though he was too tiny to lift most of it. Xander, having gone through this the past two years, wanted to save him the embarrassment of having to ask him for help, so he’d offered the night before to come over to Rhys’ dorm at eight and give him a hand. It was one now, and Xander was beat. He munched on a sandwich as he changed back into his undershirt and gym shorts, which were starting to become uncomfortably tight, and then climbed back into bed.

Just as he was drifting off to sleep, he heard a knock on his door. Damnit, I forgot to put the paper on the outside of the door, he thought irritably as he threw back the covers and lumbered over to the door.

“Hi, honey!” his mother and father exclaimed in unison as he opened the door.

Xander blinked a few times in shock. “What…what are you doing here?”

“Well, that’s not a very nice way to greet your parents after they just drove three hours to see you!” his mother chided him. Then she looked down at Xander’s sleeping attire, which his round body was quite obviously bulging out of. “Oh, honey…”

“Xander…” his father said, shaking his head.

Xander felt the blood rush to his face. “Let me get dressed,” he mumbled as he shut the door in their faces. Panic was steadily flooding his veins as he realized the implications of their visit. They know I don’t have a class, he thought. They know there was a reason I didn’t want to come home, and now that they’ve seen me, they know exactly what that reason is. He sighed miserably as he pulled his jeans back on and rummaged through his drawers, trying to find the one shirt that he knew still looked a little big on him. Crap, it’s in the laundry basket. He has to settle for one that just barely fit him, but at least it was black. He rushed around his room, trying to find places to hide all his food, before he opened the door again.

“How are you, son?” his father asked, pulling him into a bear hug. Xander’s dad was about as tall as he was, with the same dark, wavy hair and full lips, but that was where the similarities ended. Xander was easily almost three times the size of his father now, though they used to be much closer in weight. Although he was never this huge, Xander thought to himself.

“I’m alright. Why are you guys here?”

“Well,” his mother said as she gave him a quick hug, “we called the school to get the schedule for your class so we could figure out a time to come and take you out for lunch or dinner and surprise you, but the registrar said there was no geology class scheduled for this term. Why did you tell us you had a class, Xander?” she asked as she pushed her highlighted hair out of her eyes.

“I – well, it was…it was cancelled…not enough people signed up…and I only just found out…”

Xander’s father gave him a look, but his mother nodded. “That’s too bad, honey. I hope you can take it next semester so you can get it out of the way. Well, now you can come home and spend the holidays with us!”

“Yeah…” he muttered.

“But we did come all this way to see you and take you out, so let’s go get some lunch before we pack up your things. Are you hungry?”

Starving, Xander thought but didn’t say. “Not really…”

“Oh, but we did want to try that new restaurant over on Broad Street. Maybe you can just get something small,” his father said pointedly.

Xander felt his face redden again as he swallowed. “Okay.”

He was very quiet on the drive over, answering his parents’ inquiries about school and Rhys in short sentences, trying to distract himself from the tone in their voices and the strange edges to their scents. He knew there was another reason for their visit than just idle chitchat, and he knew that whatever it was, he would not like it.

He found out when they had been seated at the restaurant.

“So, Xander,” his father told him from behind his menu, “there was another reason that we wanted to see you.”

Here it comes…

“Yes, there was. We made you an appointment with Dr. Fording for the twenty-ninth of the month,” his mother said as she smoothed her napkin in her lap.

“What? Why…”

“Just to go in and talk,” his father said. “I’ve been telling him about you for a while now, whenever I go in for a checkup. He always asks about you. He’s genuinely concerned for you, Xander, and so are we. Especially after seeing you today.”

Rage and fear burst roaring into his ears. He couldn’t speak. He couldn’t pry his fingers loose from the edge of the table, where they were gripping so tight his knuckles had turned white.

“We just want you to be happy and healthy, Xander. And I don’t think that you’re either of those things right now. Look at how much better your father has been since he had his surgery.”

“You didn’t…you didn’t even ask me. I didn’t ask you.”

His parents exchanged a look. “Well, honey, we knew that you’d be too embarrassed to ask us yourself – “

The waitress interrupted them. “Good afternoon, my name is Sara, what can I get for you today?”

His parents each ordered a salad, and Xander said, “I’d like the macaroni and cheese with a side of garlic mashed potatoes, please, and a Coke to drink.”

His mother cleared her throat.

“Oh, sorry,” he said, “I’ll get whatever you have that won’t embarrass my parents too much to see their big, fat whale of a son eating it.”

“Xander Lucas!” his mother practically shrieked.

“Sorry,” he muttered to the waitress, who looked bewildered.

“He’ll have the garden salad with grilled chicken and a water, please,” his mother told the waitress.

Sara quickly wrote down their order and hightailed it away from their table.

“This is the kind of thing we’re talking about son. You just can’t keep eating stuff like that. How much do you weigh now?”

“That’s none of your business,” he mumbled.

“Yes, Xander, it is,” his father told him. “You’re our child, and our utmost concern is for your well-being. Look at yourself. What are you doing, son?”

“Look, I don’t really need this right now, alright?” he protested.

“If not now, Xander, when? When you’re so big that you have a heart attack? When you’re so big you can’t fit through a door? You’re not that far off,” his mother insisted.

He sat there in shocked silence. He expected things like this from everyone, but not from his parents. He knew they were concerned about his size, but he never thought they’d lower themselves to outright mocking him.

“That was a little harsh, Susie…” his father began.

“I’m sorry, Xander, I didn’t mean it to be nasty. I’m just so worried about you. We can’t just stand by and watch you do this to yourself, watch you blow up like a blimp with complete disregard for your health.”

Xander finally recovered his voice. “Well, then, don’t watch. I’m not going to the doctor, and I’m not coming home with you.” He stood up and walked out of the restaurant, leaving his parents staring after him in shock.


Aug 20, 2007
Just as he hadn’t always hated being fat, his parents hadn’t always been obsessed with his weight. The obsession had started around the same time he’d gained those forty-five pounds in just a few months when he was in ninth grade. Before that, he’d just been “chubby” or “a little hefty.” But then his father had been diagnosed with high blood pressure that the doctor told him was caused by his weight, and the floodgates opened. He was now “obese,” at just under six feet tall and 220 pounds, and his parents wouldn’t stand for it. They started hounding him to eat less and exercise more as his father started an aggressive weight loss plan, and decided to have gastric bypass surgery. He’d weighed a bit over 320 when he had it done, and had rapidly shrunk down to a toned 170 pounds, and expected Xander to keep up with his athletic pursuits. But Xander, having always been physically awkward, balked at the prospect of spending his free time jogging and running around after a tennis ball, and quickly found an after school job to keep him away from his father’s demands. So it was that as his father got thinner, Xander got fatter. He had his own money to buy snacks with, and he got as much free food as he wanted at the local fast food place where he worked. With a steady diet of cheeseburgers and French fries, he’d made it to 268 pounds by the end of his senior year. That was when his parents had started hinting that he should have the surgery, too, or at the very least, go on a serious diet. But despite the crap he received from them, and from virtually everyone else, he couldn’t agree to it. And now here he was, 120 pounds later, and they were basically insisting that he get half of his stomach sewn shut.

They’re right, he thought sullenly as he walked down the street, I should get my stomach sewn shut. Or they could go with the less invasive option and just sew my mouth shut so I can never eat ever again. His stomach growled angrily as if in response, and he shook his head as he turned a corner. I weight almost four hundred pounds. What if I really can’t stop getting bigger? he fretted. But what am I supposed to do? I can’t even go an hour without being hungry. And I need to eat so much just to feel full… I don’t think I could handle eating as much as I’m ‘supposed’ to. But if I don’t do something… He couldn’t stop his mind from flying back to August. A perfectly sweet, intelligent, reasonable girl couldn’t look past his size – how could he ever expect anyone else to?

And then there she was, walking towards him in the hard, cold, afternoon light. Not August, but Callisto – Cee, they’d called her – the girl with the red hair. Xander stopped dead and turned around, wishing desperately that he was capable of running without all his fat bouncing and jiggling up and down and basically nullifying his efforts to get away.

She was beside him in a few seconds. “Hi, Pudge,” she said gleefully. “Nice day for a walk, isn’t it?”

He clenched his teeth as he walked as quickly as he could, trying to lose her. He already felt his breath quickening.

“You know, you probably shouldn’t try to go too fast. Wouldn’t want you to get out of breath,” she said, and he could see her grin out of the side of his vision.

“Please…go…away,” he puffed.

“Uh-oh, too late,” she sang. She reached out and grabbed his hand, and he pulled it away as if she were a flame. “Hey…what’s wrong?”

“I don’t…want…to talk…to you.”

“No, seriously, what’s wrong? Did something happen?” She sounded genuinely concerned.


“Xander –“

That was the first time she’d called him by his name. He stopped and turned to look at her. “What…do you…want?” he gasped.

“First, I want you to catch your breath so you don’t die on me. Then I want you to tell me what happened.”


“Then why are you out here when it’s like ten degrees, running around like something’s chasing you?”

He squeezed his eyes shut and sighed, wishing he could catch his breath. He hadn’t even been trying to go fast for that long. “Just…my…my parents…”

She bit her lip. “Oh.” She went over to a bench that sat facing away from the road and brushed the snow off with her hand. “Here, sit. It’ll hold you.”

His face turned even more red than it already was, but he obliged. It felt good to get the weight off his feet.

Callisto plopped down on the little bit of space that was left on the bench beside him. “So…have you ever thought about it?” she asked.

“Thought…about what?” he breathed.

“Weight loss surgery.”

He felt as if he’d been punched in the gut. She just wanted to make fun of him again, didn’t she? He moved to rise from the bench, but she put her hand on his arm.

“No, no, I’m not making fun of you. I…well, you know how you can smell things that no one else can? Like how August smells like strawberries and sunlight?”

“How did you –“

“I can hear things, like that. I just listen hard, and I can hear how your parents got on your case at lunch, for example. That was pretty crummy of them.”

Xander sagged back onto the bench. “You know all about that?” he asked, feeling sick.

“Yeah. I know a lot about you.”

“Great,” he muttered.

“But I can only hear the things your mind puts into words…like, I can’t just go dig around in your head and find out anything, usually. I only know that that’s the way August smells because you repeat it almost every time you think of her. And I knew about how you had to go up a size because you were thinking it pretty loud. But usually it’s something I have to actively do; I don’t just hear everything all the time.”

He was mortified. “Great,” he repeated.

“So…do you ever think you’d do it? The surgery, I mean.”

“I…” he sighed. “I wish I could. But I can’t.”

She just nodded. After a few moments of silence, she spoke up again, “So have you always been this big?”

Xander just looked at her. She gazed back at him, her face innocent. He shook his head. “What do you really want?”

“I want to get to know you. You’re going to be joining our little group, and I think that we should be friends.”


“We need you, Xander. Someone with your talents will be invaluable to us. We need your help.”

“What on earth could I possibly help you with? Do you need a lit tutor? Because I’m not very good at, y’know, people, but I know a guy at the learning center…”

“No, no, no. Xander, we hunt demons.”

“Um, excuse me?”

“Demons,” she said. “Y’know, those nasty, scary things? Come from Hell? Hell’s actually a different dimension, y’know, it’s not underground.”


Callisto shook her head. “Look, I know how it sounds, believe me. But you’ve already seen one. The Fuom? The thing that scratched your leg? That’s a type of demon. One of the lesser ones, but a mean little thing nonetheless. And you don’t really have a choice but to join us, because it’s been following you. That’s how we found you: we were tracking activity at the school, and we detected that little bitch.”

“So what if it’s following me? What does it want?”

“What every demon wants…your soul.”

“My soul? I don’t even know if I believe in that.”

“Well, believe what you want, but that demon wants it. Remember how you felt when you got scratched?”

Xander’s face turned red again. “You know about that, too?”

“Well, some of it, but you were pretty incoherent. I know you were terrified of getting on a scale and having everyone see how much you weigh.”

He reached up and rubbed his eyes with his fingers, trying to stop the pounding headache he was developing.

“Anyway, that’s how the Fuom takes your soul. Well, a part of it, because it’s only a lesser demon, blah blah blah, but it pumps you full of as much venom as it can until you’re so scared you can’t even breathe, and then it climbs inside you and takes a piece of your soul.”

“And this one wants a piece of my soul. It must be the runt of the pack.”

“No, this is a pretty strong one, as far as Fuoms go. It’s a malicious little sucker. Left a big scar on my arm.”

“It scratched you?”

“Nah, bit me. I was doing recon and it surprised me in the bushes. I can’t see them as well as you and Darshan can, unless I do the enhancement ritual, and, frankly, that’s boring as hell.”

“What do you mean, you can’t see them as well as Darshan and me?”

“You guys have the natural ability to see,” she explained. “That’s Darshan’s main talent, and it’s your secondary one. Your main talent’s your nose,” she told him, playfully tweaking his nose. “And your taste buds, I’d imagine,” she added thoughtfully.

He ignored her last comment. “I still don’t understand. You mean that other people can’t see these things?”

“Well, some people can sort of see them out of the corner of their eye, y’know? That’s probably how you’ve seen them most of your life. Weird little black things moving just out of your field of vision. But now that you know about them, you’ll see them better and better. Darshan’s better at explaining it,” she told him.

“So…you hunt them. Why?”

“Because they’re demons. Duh. They want to steal people’s souls and stuff,” she said, as if it should have been obvious. “I’ve seen what they do to people. It’s not pretty, watching someone get his soul stolen.”

“What happens after their soul is stolen?”

Callisto rubbed her hands together a bit. For the first time, Xander noticed that she wasn’t wearing gloves, and only had a light jacket on. “Geez, you must be freezing,” he said, unzipping his coat. “Here, take my coat.”

“Thanks, Pudge, but I’m like a super-heater. It feels positively balmy out here. You should probably take it off anyway, though. You’re sweating.”

Xander sighed. She notices everything, he thought, irritated.

“Pretty much,” she replied to his unspoken comment with a grin. “It’s kinda cute that you’re all sweaty and red just from walking fast for, like, not even two minutes.”

His face flushed further as he stared down at the snowy sidewalk, avoiding her stare and gritting his teeth. “Y’know,” he started, “I already know what I look like…”

“Well, duh,” she interrupted.

“…and I don’t need you reminding me of it.”

“Why not?” she asked.

He looked at her. The expression on her face contained no pretense; she was genuinely confused as to why he wouldn’t want her pointing out what a big fat blimp he was. “It’s not polite to point out someone’s faults,” was all he said.

“Uh, okay,” she replied. “So, anyway, you’re going to be a demon hunter now, too. You’ll be our bloodhound. With your super-nose, we’ll be able to track them better. So what do you say – are you in?”

Xander shook his head. “What’s in it for me?”

“You’ll get to spend more time with me,” she told him, batting her eyes mischievously.


“Seriously, though, you need a hobby. You need to get out of your dorm and away from your roommate and his girlfriend going at it like rabbits.”

Xander cringed, grimacing slightly as he looked around the crowded street. People were bustling by with shopping bags, caught up in the Christmas rush. He knew that Callisto was right: he might have the room to himself for a few weeks, but come mid-January Adrian and August would be having frequent naked time in his room again.

“You can sleep at the house sometimes, if you need to,” she interrupted his thoughts.

He sighed again. “I must be nuts. Alright, I’m in.”

"Sweet!" she exclaimed. "Now let's go get something to eat; you're starving."
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Aug 20, 2007
Although she practically begged him, he refused to get something to eat with her. He’d had enough of people commenting on his eating that day, and, even if she claimed she wasn’t making fun of him, it sure seemed like she was. As soon as she’d suggested it, his mind had flashed back to that night in the diner when she’d caught him drowning his sorrows in cheesecake. His face had colored even at the thought of her seeing him shovel huge quantities of food into his mouth and what she must think of him. Cee, however, had just taken that image from his mind as proof that he was hungry.

“But you’re hun-“ she was cut off as the front door to Xander’s dorm closed. He sighed as he ascended the stairs, not looking forward to the exertion. He was hungry, sure. It had been a few hours since he’d bailed on his parents, and he hadn’t had anything to eat since that sandwich before they’d surprised him. He thought about heading to the food court to see Sheriece, but then he felt his phone buzz in his pocket. Gasping for breath at the top of the stairs, he pulled it out, only to see eleven missed calls and five voicemails. “Crap,” he muttered as he opened his door. Each one was from either his mother’s or his father’s phone.

“Xander Lucas, you get back here right now –“ Delete.

“Xander, your mother and I aren’t joking –“ Delete.

“Xander, please, I didn’t mean to upset you –“ Delete.

“Xander, this is your father. We’re coming to pick you up. We insist that you see Dr. Fording, for your own good. So please pack up your bags and be ready for us. We’ll be there in fifteen minutes.” Delete.

“Xander, please come out. We’ll wait out here as long as it takes. This is for your own good. You can’t go on like this. We just want to help you.” Delete.

The last one was from an hour ago. As he deleted it and hung up, his phone buzzed again and showed yet another new voicemail. He double locked his door behind him as he punched in his voicemail code.

“Xander, this is your father again. You win, son. We’re on our way home. I don’t know what else we can do to make you realize that you’re heading to a very bad place. You really can’t keep getting bigger like this; you have to stop it. It broke my heart to see you today. We’re really disappointed in you. Please call us when you decide to talk about this rationally. We love –“ Delete.

A tear rolled down his plump cheek, and he brushed it away, feeling sick. He plopped down on his bed, unable to ignore the way the springs screamed at the sudden addition of his weight. More tears sprang to his eyes and escaped, trailing down his cheeks and dripping onto his protruding gut. He just sat there like that for a few minutes, trying to allow his sorrow to empty from his body. But when the tears wouldn’t come anymore, he still felt as if someone had reached inside his chest and ripped out everything there, leaving a gaping cavity where any trace of happiness he may have ever felt had once been.

He looked down at himself, humiliated by how fat he’d become. He knew his parents were right. He couldn’t keep getting bigger, he just couldn’t. The number “400” loomed sickeningly in his mind. What if he really did get that big? He knew that he wasn’t that far off, maybe fifteen pounds at most, but actually being four hundred pounds seemed like a huge deal, something that once he reached, would only mean that there was no turning back. But that small part of him that was excited by his vast softness thrilled at the thought of his reaching four hundred pounds, thrilled at the thought of even more squishy blubber enveloping his already massive body.

“What the hell is wrong with you,” he murmured miserably, shaking his head. He rose to his feet and faced the mirror on the back of Adrian’s closet door. Even this far away from it, his frame was too big to fit inside the reflection. He peeled his tight shirt off and gazed at his body, wondering at his soft, rounded chest, his thick arms and neck, and most of all, at his enormous gut. It stuck out ponderously in front of him, squishy and globe-like, hanging down and out over the waistband of his tight jeans so far that he could barely see his crotch. He couldn’t stop the strange barrage of feelings coursing through him. One second, he literally felt sick with mortification at how big he was. The next, he wanted to grab his belly and feel how it jiggled. I like it, a small voice inside him said. I like being so big and soft.

He swallowed hard, knowing it was true. What does that even mean? he asked himself. What does it mean that I actually want to be a four hundred pound fatass? Does it mean I have a death wish or something? Does it mean that I really hate myself that much that I want to be forever laughed at for being so huge? Or does it just mean that I like being big? And how can I like being this big?

But I do like being this big, that small voice affirmed. He tentatively squeezed a handful of his belly between his fingers, instantly aware of the way his flesh yielded under his touch. He experimentally shook his flab, sending his belly into a wave of jiggles. It felt…good, he realized. Really good. He kept shaking it, gazing in wonderment at his reflection as his massive body quivered under his touch. It was amazing how every bit of him jiggled – even his cheeks – as he shook his belly. He felt a heat begin to burn in his nether regions, and abruptly stopped shaking his fat.

“Geez,” he breathed, rubbing his hands over his face. What was wrong with him? Here he was getting turned on by jiggling his own fat body when said fat body had caused him nothing but grief.

He grimaced at his reflection before grabbing his shirt and squeezing into it again. I need new clothes again already, he thought as he fought with the constricting fabric. The only shirts that actually fit him were the four exes he’d gotten back in October before his disastrous meeting with August at the frat party. As for pants, none of them fit. He knew his ass looked ridiculously huge in the tight fabric, and he was almost grateful for the way his belly hung over the waistband because then no one could see that he couldn’t button a single pair. And his boxers rode up uncomfortably, the fabric pulled taught over his thighs and ass.

He decided that it would do him no good to sit in his room today after what had happened with his parents, and he wasn’t even close to being tired anymore, so he made up his mind to head to the mall and get himself some new clothes. If he couldn’t figure out what was going on in his head, he could at least be comfortable.

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