Okay, this is the last but one chapter (and it's quite a long one)! After the last one there's an epilogue which is about the size of a small chapter. I'll be posting them both together.
The first thing I see when I wake up is Luke’s poster of a shredded Tommy Foster cranking out an abs and thighs pose in his shiny yellow posing trunks pinned to the wall. And then I look at his empty bed. And this crushing feeling of sadness goes through me.
My insides clench as I reach for my phone and look at the screen. There’s no missed calls from Luke. And no text messages either. And even though I wasn’t expecting to see either of those things, my heart still drops when I discover that Luke still hasn’t tried to contact me since he left yesterday.
I roll over to face the wall my bed is pushed up against. I just feel like lying here all fucking day. Hiding away from everyone here at Montgomery. From the first years talking and whispering about me after Deano’s Facebook post. From all the weird looks I’m bound to receive. From Johnny and Hancox and all my other lecturers. And from Deano. Fucking Deano. I don’t know what happened to him after Johnny dragged him away from me yesterday. Whether he’s been punished for the stunt he pulled. I presume he has. To be honest, right now I don’t really care. Because Luke left. He’s actually gone. Nothing else really seems that important.
It all keeps going round in my head. How scared Luke looked that people had seen the illustration of me kissing him. How confused he was when I let slip that Deano had kissed me. How he couldn’t understand why I hadn’t told him before. How cold he was when I found out he’d kissed me back. How hurt he clearly felt. How he couldn’t look at me when he was packing his bag to leave. How angry he was when he shouted, “YOU FUCKING KISSED DEANO!” at me. How freaked out he looked when I wouldn’t let go of his hand. And his face when I told him to fuck off. The sob he let out. That fucking sob! I never wanted to make Luke cry. I never wanted to hurt him that way. But I did. I guess prick faced Leonard from Bristol was right after all.
In a way I don’t blame Luke for leaving. There’s a part of me that understands why he did it. But there’s another part of me that feels so fucking angry that he left. That I think he took the easy way out. That he should’ve stayed and fought. For me. For us. Which is what I would have surely done?
But I also keep having this thought. That maybe it’s for the best that Luke left. That maybe I’m not supposed to be with someone with Luke. That maybe I’m not supposed to be with anyone. That I was kidding myself by thinking I could do the whole boyfriend thing.
Maybe that person I was when I was with Luke wasn’t the real me. That version of myself who kept obsessing over him, and couldn’t stop thinking about him and just wanted to kiss him and be with him all the fucking time. That person who sat on Luke’s bed when he wasn’t in the room and sniffed his fucking pillow.
Maybe now Luke’s gone I can just go back to being myself. The way I was before. The cocky, handsome as shit bodybuilder who cheekily flirts with gay dudes on Instagram and who’s good at delivering witty put downs to twats like Deano and Shaun. The guy who goes down to Bristol and hooks up with hot guys who I have to ignore the next day when they get too keen. The guy who has to deal with that gut wrenching feeling every time I return back to this university in the middle of sodding nowhere where every other fucker here is a bodybuilder just like me.
My phone pings and I hate how much I want it to be Luke. And I hate that stomach wrenching feeling I get when I see that it’s just a text from Johnny Hoxton asking me to come to his office today at noon. I sigh and sink back into my pillow. It feels like it would take every fucking effort in the world to lift myself off the mattress. Just two more days of lectures. Two more days of training. And then it’s the end of term bodybuilding show on Saturday. Jesus. Right now that’s the last thing I want to do. Maybe I should do a Luke. Maybe I should just go home. No. Fuck that! I’m not running away. That’s not me. I’m gonna go out there and pretend that everything’s fine. I’m gonna face everyone like nothing’s happened. Like I don’t give a shit. Even though it feels like my heart breaks a little bit more with every fucking second that passes.
A few hours later and I’m making my way to Johnny’s office. I got a few weird looks in my lecture this morning, but no one said anything to me about the Facebook post. I’m not naive to think this will all blow over that easily, but maybe the fall out from it won’t be quite so bad after all.
I feel weirdly nervous as I get closer to the office. Because I don’t know what to expect from this little meeting. I have a feeling he’s going to want to talk about what happened yesterday. That he’ll be all concerned and nice. That he'll be sympathetic Johnny. And I know it will be genuine and that it will come from a good place, I’m just not sure if I want to let my guard down right now. Not that that ever came easily to me anyway.
And then I suddenly have a thought. Oh God. What if fucking DEANO will be there? What if this is some sort of meeting set up to “sort things out” between us? Ugh. Fuck THAT!
And then I have another thought which partly panics me and partly excites me. What if Luke didn’t actually leave yesterday? What if he got all the way to Prince House and realised he was being ridiculous by leaving two days before the end of term, so he went to Johnny and asked for a temporary room for the night because he couldn’t face sleeping in his dorm room with me. Oh God. What if Luke is sitting in Johnny Hoxton’s office right now? What if Luke and Deano and Johnny are all sitting there waiting for me to arrive?
My insides tighten when I open the door to Johnny’s office. And my heart drops. Just a little. Because there’s no Luke. And there’s no Deano either. It’s just Johnny. It’s just me and Johnny.
“Alright, mate. Take a seat!”
I do as I’m told, feeling nervous as I sit opposite Johnny.
“How are you feeling, Woody?”
I shrug, feeling awkward. How the fuck am I supposed to answer that question?
“Okay ... I guess!”
What a joke. As if I’m anything but fucking okay. Johnny stands up and walks closer to me, perching on the end of his desk.
“Well I don’t know if you’ve heard the news, but Dean Watkins has been suspended!”
HA! I instantly feel victorious. But as quickly as that feeling comes, it vanishes. And now I just feel kind of numb.
“Which means he won’t be competing in the end of term bodybuilding show on Saturday.”
I just nod. I don’t know what Johnny wants from me here.
“I’m not gonna lie, Woody. People are talking about that picture of you and Luke …” my stomach twists at the mention of the illustration of me kissing Luke on the cheek, “but I’ll repeat what I said to you and Mr Watkins in this office a few weeks ago. We have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to harassment or bullying of any students here at Montgomery. So if there are any incidents following Deano’s Facebook post, you MUST come and report them to me!”
I chew the inside of my mouth and nod. I know Johnny means well here, but I’m not exactly gonna run to him every time Shaun makes a twatty comment or someone whispers something to another person that’s blatantly about me. Even though he might want to, Johnny can’t stop every lad here giving me shit for the illustration. For being gay.
“I also received a call from Luke this morning.”
FUCK! My heart leaps into my throat. And my grip on the arms of Johnny's chair gets tighter. I don’t want to give anything away to Johnny, so I don’t respond or say anything.
“He told me about his family emergency.”
HA! So Luke lied to Johnny about why he left. It takes all my effort not to fucking scoff. But I know if I do, it might cause Johnny to become suspicious. And potentially get Luke into trouble. Which I guess I don’t want to happen. Fuck - of course I don’t want that to happen!
“It’s a shame he’s had to leave before the end of term,” Johnny says. I look at him and fuck - I feel nervous, because it’s like he’s studying my face for a reaction. Like he knows it’s all bullshit. I try not to give anything away.
“Deano seemed to be under the impression that Luke was the one who drew that illustration of the two of you.”
What the fuck? Is this some kind of trick to get me to confess? He’s just looking at me, again, like he’s waiting for a reaction.
“I don’t know if that’s true, Woody. And, quite frankly, it’s none of my business. But I will say this …”
Oh God. I feel so nervous. What the fuck is Johnny gonna say?
“Whoever drew that illustration is exceptionally talented!”
Oh wow. I totally wasn’t expecting that. My chest starts to flutter. And now Johnny’s smiling at me. This kind, knowing smile and I suddenly feel like I want to fucking cry. Because he knows. Somehow Johnny knows. That I drew the illustration of me and Luke. That me and Luke are together - or at least we were. And that I’m gay. He fucking knows it all. And from the way he’s looking at me. I can tell he approves.
I turn away from him and look out the window of his office. Suddenly I don’t feel nervous or awkward anymore.
“I don’t get it, sir!”
I look back at Johnny. He’s looking at me confused, waiting for me to go on.
“I don’t get why it’s an issue.”
Fuck. I can’t quite believe I’m saying this.
“If a bodybuilder’s gay!” I pull a face. “Why does it matter?”
Johnny shrugs. “In an ideal world, it wouldn’t!” he says.
“Like … say, if Blaine Holton, or … I dunno, Tommy Foster. Say they came out tomorrow. It wouldn’t stop them from being amazing bodybuilders!”
“Of course it wouldn’t!” Johnny says, smiling. I just shake my head and don’t say any more.
“It’s like, having a problem with someone because …” I shrug, “I dunno, they prefer shiny posing trunks over velvet ones!”
Johnny smiles. “Well, I’ve never understood why anyone would choose to wear velvet posing trunks …”
HA! Love it!
“...but, I’m afraid there’s always been a fair amount of homophobia in bodybuilding, Woody! Or at least as long as I can remember.”
“So … you don’t care?” I ask, nervously. Fuck!
He furrows his eyebrows at me. “What - that you prefer shiny posing trunks to velvet ones?”
That makes me laugh.
“No, Woody! I don’t care,” he says, giving me this big, warm smile and fuck - I suddenly feel myself starting to well up.
“Right, Woody. I want you to promise me something!”
“Okay?” I reply, confused as to what’s coming next.
“That whatever has happened over these past few days, you will NOT let it affect your performance at the end of term show on Saturday!”
I nod at Johnny, finding myself smiling.
“For the next few days you’re gonna train that MASSIVE fucking arse off …”
What the FUCK?! Did Johnny Hoxton just say I had a massive arse? I let out a shocked laugh, and Johnny laughs along with me as he continues his prep talk.
“... and then you’re gonna get on that stage on Saturday and have the same fun you ALWAYS do and be the cocky little shit you always are because I’ve SEEN the YouTube videos of you on stage, Woody!”
I can’t believe he’s talking to me like this. God I love Johnny, So, so fucking much.
“Sound like a deal?” he says, cheekily beaming at me.
Jesus. Another deal with Johnny Hoxton. At least this one doesn’t involve anyone else. Just me. It’s just me now. Like it used to be. I smile and nod at him.
“You’re using the song you always use, right? I’m Sexy And I Know It?”
HA!! I nod. “Yes, sir!” I reply, practically fucking beaming.
“Good man! That is the PERFECT song for you,” he says, with a mischievous smirk. He sighs and looks at me with a smile, and suddenly I feel like the next few days might not be so bad after all. That I might actually manage to have fun at the bodybuilding show on Saturday. That I may even temporarily manage to forget the gut wrenching feeling I get whenever I remember that Luke has gone, just like I’ve managed to do in this office during this conversation with Johnny up until now.
“And I want to see some of those cheeky Instagram posts on the day of the show!” he says as I walk to the door. I look back and grin at him. And then - I can’t resist.
“You know, sir … your arse isn’t exactly small either!”
Johnny laughs and shakes his head. “Cheeky little bugger! OUT of my office!”
For the next two days I do what Johnny has asked of me. I train my massive (you fucking know it, Johnny!) arse off. I go to my lectures. I think about the bodybuilding show on Saturday. I go over my routine in my head. Even practice it a few times in my dorm room.
And sometimes it stops me from thinking about Luke. Sometimes it stops me from going over all the things that happened the day he left. Sometimes it stops me from feeling like I just want the whole world to fuck off and die.
But there are times when I feel myself crumbling. When I start thinking about how much I miss him. How much I want to talk to him, and whether I should text him. When I feel sick at the memory of telling him to fuck off and making him cry. And times when I feel like I’m falling through the floor when I think about the possibility that I’ve lost Luke for good.
The looks and the gossip seem to ease off too. There are a couple of incidents. Times when I catch guys whispering to each other, looking at me and smirking. Times when I feel like people are looking at me. Judging me. And at one point in the gym, I catch one guy I vaguely recognise from Posing Practice 101 just glaring at me like he wants to kick my fucking head in, to which I gave him a big cheery smile and a little wave before I headed to the changing rooms.
But most guys ignore me, just like they normally do. I’m mostly still invisible to the second and third years. Maybe they heard about the post but didn’t see it. Or maybe they just don’t realise that the guy kissing the smiling boy in the glasses on the cheek is me.
When I wake up on the morning of the bodybuilding show, I’m not excited. I’m not nervous either. I’m not even thinking about the competition. Because, for some reason, all I can seem to think about is Luke. Just Luke. I keep thinking about the first time I saw him. How I couldn’t believe who was standing in the middle of this very room, with his beefy little arms bulging out of his blue Batman t-shirt and his black framed glasses perched on the top of his little nose.
I wonder what he’s doing now. Back home in Sheffield. I wonder if he’s thinking about me. I wonder if he’s managed to do anything but think about me. I wonder if he can’t stop thinking about what happened. Picturing me kissing Deano. And I wonder if the words I said to him as I left have been going round and round in his head. Go on then, Luke. Fuck off.
And I wonder if he’s wishing that he were back here with me. Waking up to me. Getting ready to watch his bodybuilder boyfriend compete on stage at the end of term bodybuilding show at Montgomery University. The university he dreamed of attending. The university that would have made his dad proud if he’d known.
I need to honour Johnny’s wishes of a cheeky Instagram post, but the prospect makes me feel nervous, because I know there’s a good chance that Luke will see it. Every time I’ve checked the app over the past few days I’ve wondered whether I’m going to see Luke’s cute little face as I’m scrolling down the latest posts. But he hasn’t posted anything since he left.
I grab my phone and stand in front of the full length mirror in my room wearing just my trackies. My shoulders looking ridiculous, my famously thick pecs bulging, my arms look straight up fucking monstrous and the six big cobblestones trapped under my skin of my stomach (now more shredded than they’ve ever been since the start of the school year) looking like they’re trying to burst out.
I bring my forearm up, flexing the bicep muscles in my right arm while pulling a funny face in the mirror. But I feel like a fucking knob. So I relax and just take a picture of me with a straight face instead. Then I load up Instagram and go to type a cheeky, Johnny approved caption.
Pecs = pumped. Biceps = blown up. Abs = shredded. Arse = massive (according to some cheeky little buggers at least). End of term Montgomery University bodybuilding show here we come! #muscleuniversity #freak4life #pumped2buggery #balloonsofbeef #hellyeah #sexyandiknowit
And BOOM … the post is up and my straight (but still sexy) face and bulging biceps are out there for all the world to see. Or all thirteen thousand of my Instagram followers anyway. But the high I usually feel after I post a cheeky Instagram post vanishes as quickly as it comes. It just doesn’t seem to give me the same kind of kick it used to.
I go into my drawer to grab a vest. I rummage around and then I see something which makes my heart feel like it’s stopped. Johnny Bravo looking up at me from the navy blue t-shirt Luke gifted to me on my birthday.
And now I’m remembering how nervous and awkward but adorably proud he was when he gave it to me. And it’s like - God - this huge warmth is going through my body. I don’t even have to think about what I’m going to pull out of that drawer.
I pull my Johnny Bravo t-shirt over my head and open up my posing trunk drawer, remembering the time I showed Luke my trunk collection. How nerve wracking but exciting it was to show him how many shiny posers I have. And how embarrassed I was about the purple tan stained pair that are looking up at me now.
I reach in and pull out the shiny emerald green posers I was planning to wear today, and then my chest tightens. I put them back and go over to Luke’s drawers instead.
I open the middle one and there they are. The inexplicably shiny blue posing trunks I helped Luke pick out that day we went posing trunk shopping. The trunks I pictured Luke’s cute arse stuffed into and blowing out of the back of so many fucking times during those first few weeks he was here at Montgomery. Without even thinking about what I’m doing, I pull the trunks out of Luke’s draw and throw them into my backpack.
I really didn’t know what to expect when I turned up to the university auditorium on the other side of the campus, but I definitely wasn’t expecting it to be as big as it is. They’ve basically transformed the whole backstage area into a big pump room. I actually feel like I’m backstage at a proper bodybuilding competition. And everywhere I look I see bronzed, shredded lads. Mostly second and third years. Some absolute fucking monsters. It’s hard to believe some of these freaks are only one or two years older than me.
And there’s no whispering. No smirks. No weird or judgmental looks. Even Eric Mafra, who is looking like an absolute tank in a pair of shiny bright orange posing trunks and will most likely win the first year class, gives me a friendly nod.
There’s a bunch of tanning tents in the corner of the room, which I make my way over to. All the lads doing the tanning are older meatheads in various coloured Montgomery University t-shirts or hoodies, who, for whatever reason, decided not to compete in the show.
I queue up for about five minutes and when one becomes free, I make my way over, wearing a little black pair of tanning trunks made out of paper with the most ridiculously thin straps I was handed earlier.
And now I’m standing in front of an absolute tank of a student in a red Montgomery hoodie. Something flickers across his face when he looks at me and I feel a tug in my stomach. Like maybe he recognises me from the Facebook post. Maybe he knows who I am. That gay guy. The one kissing the other guy in the glasses. Maybe he’s even looked me up on Instagram.
“What’s your name, mate?” he asks me, as he sprays me. He’s actually pretty fucking hot. He’s got these big, jug ears and cute features. Kind of like a taller, more monstrous version of AJ Jones. Did I mention that he’s an absolute fucking tank?
“Sebastian!” I tell him, avoiding the nickname I’m synonymous with.
He nods and carries on tanning me as I’m standing with my hands behind my head. I had fantasised about Luke being the one to do this. I’m not sure how realistic that would have actually been, but it was a pretty fucking awesome fantasy all the same.
“Second year, yeah?” the guy asks me as he spray tans my abs.
I shake my head. “First year!”
His eyes shoot up to my face. “Wow!” he says, looking impressed. And then his mouth curls into a big, friendly grin. I feel a flutter of something in my chest, but it quickly fades. Just like the high from the Instagram post. Just like every other good feeling or emotion I’ve had since Luke left.
And now the AJ Jones lookalike is done and I'm fully tanned up. And in the best condition I’ve been in since I started Muscle University. My pecs are full and bronzed. My abs are big and bursting and the lines in my quads are more prominent than they’ve been since I competed last summer. And even though I’m usually more shredded for my competitions in the real world, I look pretty fucking awesome all round. Like a proper bronzed competitive bodybuilder.
I look around the room. A sea of bronzed monsters and shredded lads pumping up and posing in brightly coloured trunks. And I fit right in. I’m one of those monsters. Even bigger and better than a couple of them. There’s even two guys in MU t-shirts going around filming scenes on digital cameras. Probably to upload on to YouTube later. Like a proper pump room at a proper bodybuilding competition. I’ll soon be on stage. I’ll soon be flexing and showing off my muscles for an audience of muscle hungry spectators. I’ll be bouncing my pecs to “I’m Sexy And I Know It”. And still … there’s this sadness running through me that I can’t quite shake.
The sound of Johnny calling my name pulls me out of thoughts. I turn to see him striding towards me with a big, warm grin on his face.
“How are you feeling?”
I sigh and nod. “Okay!” I reply, trying to force a smile.
His expression flickers. Like he knows I’m not really okay. “Well you definitely look ready,” he says to me. His eyes veer down to the black paper tanning posers I’m wearing and he pulls a face. "Well ... almost ready, anyway!"
I look down and smile. “I’d still choose these over velvet posers, sir!”
And then my mind drifts to the trunks in my backpack. Luke’s shiny blue posing trunks. And it’s like my whole body is being filled up with an incredible warmth. Just like it did back in my dorm room when I was looking at my Johnny Bravo t-shirt.
“Erm … I should probably change!”
Johnny smiles at me and nods. “Course! Well good luck up there, matie!” he says to me, giving me a friendly tap on one of my newly bronzed shoulders. “Oh and er … liking the Instagram post!”
I duck behind one of the tanning tents out of view from everyone in the room and rummage through my backpack. I take out Luke’s shiny blue posers and I suddenly feel a sting in the back of my eyes. Because these shiny trunks in my hand belong to Luke. My lovely little Luke, who I adore so fucking much. And who should be here. Right here with me in this pump room full of bronzed, shredded bodybuilders. And out there in the audience when I step on stage, ready to watch the boy he’s shared so much with flexing and posing in the shiny blue trunks he helped him buy all those fucking weeks ago.
I can't deny that I feel a pinch of excitement as I pull the shiny blue trunks up my quads. What the fuck would Luke think if he knew I was stood here right now wearing his trunks?
I take my phone out of my backpack and load up Instagram as I wait to be called. Hundreds of people have liked my post from this morning. I’ve had a bunch of comments too. And I have to smile, because one of them is from the guy who asked to feel my biceps from a few weeks ago. “Still wanna feel those biceps. Got the £110 ready!”
HA!! fucking love it. I think of a reply. “Sorry, dude. These biceps are taken. But @deano_thepocketrocket might take you up on that offer!”
God - I’m soooo fucking tempted. But I can’t do that. So I just ignore him and check the notifications again, hoping to see something from from_geek_to_freak but not surprised in the slightest when I don’t.
The sound of Hancox’s voice calling out from the other side of the pump room pulls me from my thoughts. “Guys, can I get the first year competitors to line up here please?”
That’s me. That’s my queue to move. But I just stand there, with my phone in my hand, staring into space.
“All seven first year competitors over here and ready to go on stage please!”
“Mate - they’re calling you! Are you okay?”
I look up. It’s the AJ Jones lookalike who helped me tan up. I nod at him and he gives me a concerned smile.
“Wait - can you take a pic of me? Quickly?” I ask him. “Sure!” he says, his mouth curling, as I hand him my phone.
I place a hand over my wrist and squeeze a most muscular into the camera as my tanning buddie takes my pic. “Awesome!” he says.
“Cheers!” But when he hands me back my phone, he’s got this look on his face which, for some reason, makes my chest flutter.
I pick up my backpack and head to where I’m being called.
I stop and turn around. The AJ Jones lookalike is just looking at me with this weird expression on his face. He almost looks a little nervous. “You’re that guy aren’t you?”
Oh fuck! I feel a pull in my stomach and tightly grip the handle of my backpack. He walks closer towards me and lowers his voice. “The guy from the Facebook post!”
Ugh. This, now? Seriously? My chest tightens. “Look - I’ve gotta go!”
“No! It’s okay!”
Fuck. What is going on. What is this?
“The other guy …” he says, nervously. “The one you were …”
Kissing. The one I was fucking kissing. Is it really that hard to say?
The way this guy is looking at me. Fuck! He still looks nervous, but his mouth curls into a little grin. And oh my fucking GOD. Suddenly I know what he’s getting it. Unbelievably I think know what’s actually going on here.
“Lucky bastard!” he says.
And there it is. FUCK! I can’t believe it. Another gay Muscle University student. And a bloody hot one at that. I bite my bottom lip and smile back at him.
“Oh, and er … nice fucking posers!” he adds.
HA! Fucking love it!
“Thanks!” I say, suddenly feeling oddly sheepish. Then I turn to make my way to where my fellow first years are stood with Hancox, my phone still clutched in my hand. And now my stomach is in knots. But not because I’m about to step onto the stage of the auditorium in front of most of the university. But because I think I’m about to make another Instagram post. If I have time.
I’m stood behind Mafra. His back is unbelievable. And his tank sized arse (PHWOAR!) is spilling out of his orange trunks. Which really are shiny as fucking shit. But not as shiny as the trunks I’m wearing.
I upload the most muscular pic my apparently gay tanning buddie took of me. Fuck. My heart starts beating faster. Am I actually doing this? I type a caption.
About to step on stage in this pair of super super duper shiny posing trunks. Unfortunately they wouldn’t let me wear my bright red Harry Potter boxer shorts. #superdupershiny #betterwearsomeshades
Hancox is calling my name.
“Woody! Phone away now!”
And … post uploaded. Fuuuck. And my phone is back in my backpack. And now I’m following Mafra and walking towards the stage. And I’m freaking out a little. Because I can’t believe I just did that. But as I walk on stage with the other six bronzed lads first year lads, this rush of excitement goes through me. But not just because I’m on a bodybuilding stage in front of a now cheering audience. But because there’s a very good chance that Luke will see that Instagram post. That he’ll recognise the blue trunks I’m wearing as his. That he’ll recall I once called them “super super duper shiny”. That I’ve cheekily referenced the red Harry Potter Gryffindor boxer shorts he bought me for my birthday along with my Johnny Bravo t-shirt. And hopefully he’ll figure out that even though he’s not here, I’m clearly and obviously thinking about him right now.
And even though it still fucking hurts that he left. Even though this could potentially backfire if he doesn’t respond. I feel like I’ve done the right thing.
But I have to try and forget about that right now. Because I made a promise to Johnny. That I’ll get on this very stage and have the same fun I always do and be the cocky little shit I always am. And I’m about to fulfill that promise.
I soak up the audience. The cheers and applause from my fellow students and spectators. I revel in the fact that I’m the centre of attention (which, recent events aside, is still a rare thing here at Montgomery).
I blow up my biceps. Crunch my big, stomach popping abs. Show off my bronzed, shredded (hell yeah!) quads. I enjoy being the pumped up, tanned up bodybuilder that I am, being marvelled at and admired by everyone in the room. And somehow, knowing those people are fellow Muscle University students and staff members makes the whole thing even more of a rush than it usually is.
It’s only when the prejudging is over and I’m heading backstage and into the makeshift pump room area that I’m thinking about my recent Instagram post again. Has Luke seen it? Has he liked it? Fuck. Maybe even commented on it? But what if he hasn’t done any of those things? How would I feel then? Maybe he’s too busy to check Instagram right now. Maybe he won’t check it for hours. Maybe he won’t log in all day.
So i decide not to check my phone. I wait to be called on stage while the other first year lads take their turn to perform their posing routines. Apparently we’re going on in alphabetical surname order, so of course I’m last. And all the time I resist the urge to go into my backpack and get my phone out. And even though I keep thinking about the Instagram post. Even though I keep picturing Luke checking it out on his phone. An adorable smile on his face. His dimples showing. Those dimples I love so fucking much.
“Woody - you’re up next!” Hancox tells me.
I feel a sharp twist of nerves as I hear my name being introduced. I wonder if anyone other than the first years knows I’m one of the gay guys from the Facebook post. I can’t really think about that now. I have to go out there and make Johnny proud.
I walk out to the bright stage lights and my chest blows up when I hear a surprising number of cheers. Fuck - what a buzz! I mean - I always get cheers at bodybuilding shows, but I don’t know, it feels like it means just that little bit more this time. I’m guessing the audience are just cheering for my body, since most of them don’t even know the fuck I am. Who knows - maybe that will change after today?
As soon as my posing music routine kicks in, this intense mix of nerves and excitement go through me. As I start throwing poses, with a playfully smug look on my face, I hear laughter from the audience. I know they’re laughing at my song. At the cheeky playfulness of my routine. The downright fucking cockiness of it. But it’s good laughter. Not twatish sniggering during Posing Practice because I'm wearing pink posing trunks, or cruel laughs in the hallways as I walk past because I’m that gay guy from the Facebook post.
They’re laughing because I’m a cocky as fuck first year bodybuilder outrageously posing to a song called “I’m Sexy And I Know It”!
They laugh when I fold my arms, purse my lips and wiggle my eyebrows up and down (the move Deano disapproved of so much). They cheer every time I crank down into a trap erupting, beef exploding most muscular pose (which Deano said I had too many of). And they go fucking nuts every time I spontaneously start bouncing my pecs (which I’m pretty sure Deano would have made some twatty comment about too).
And if the reaction from the audience, and the laughter from the show’s commentator isn’t enough, when I get backstage, my fellow first years give me the warmest welcome. Mafra holds up his fist for me to fucking bump, the others are nodding and practically beaming at me and even Hancox (homophobic prick Hancox who must have heard about Deano’s Facebook post, if not seen it) who’s admittedly looking at me with part disapprovement, part amusement, fucking slaps me on my shoulder. What the fuck?!
It’s like the biggest sense of approval I’ve ever had here at Montgomery. If only Luke were here to see it. And then I feel a kick to the stomach as I think about Luke again. Luke should be here. Watching me from the audience. Excited about going back to our dorm room afterwards where we can kiss and cuddle and ARGH - I miss him so fucking much. And now I’m being called back on stage with the other first years for the final comparisons round. And the cheers. Oh my God. They’re so much louder than before. Are they … for ME? I’m pretty sure a good bulk of them are. I can’t wipe the smile off my fucking face.
I’m in the first call out with three other guys. Which means I’m mostly likely placing in the top four at least. Half way through they switch me with another guy and I get to stand next to Mafra. FUCK! Could I actually be runner up here?
Being next to Mafra seems to bring out just that little bit of extra cockiness in me. I scrunch up my face and grunt as I hit a side chest (OOOF!), I grunt even louder when I crank out an abs and thighs (hell yeah!) and I cheekily stick my tongue out and make a growling noise when I crank out a crab most muscular (FUCK! YES!).
And then I hear my favourite word of any bodybuilding show. “Posedown!” Hell fucking YES. I crank up the attitude. I bounce my pecs. The audience go crazy. Mafra sticks to me like fucking glue. And even initiates a head to head crab most muscular, both of us yelling loudly in each other’s faces. Fucking HELL. And at one point I even think how it’s a shame that fucking Deano isn’t here with us. It’s epic. It’s immense. It’s the most fun I’ve had here at Muscle University that didn’t involve Luke. And the cheers. Those fucking cheers.
The music finally stops. Mafra’s grabbing my hand in a friendly embrace and patting my back, his fuck off huge, rock hard, beautifully bronzed shoulder (much harder and bigger than Deano’s) on mine (JESUS CHRIST!). And now the commentator’s announcing that it’s time for the awards.
Seventh place goes to the smallest lad on stage. Sixth place goes to a ginger guy with awesome abs and Johnny’s prediction was right, because it looks like I'm in the top five. No - I’m in the top four! And when the fourth place goes to a guy in shiny purple posers with a cute little arse my stomach clenches tightly. Because I’m in the top three. I’m in the fucking top three. It’s me, meat monster Mafra and a scary looking meathead dude called Banksy. His physique is totally different from mine. He’s taller, harder and blockier. He’s got some impressive fucking size to him but his muscles don’t pop like mine do. His physique doesn’t have that bubble look like mine has. And I feel a surge of excitement. Because fuck - I'm wondering once again wether I could actually place second.
“Your third place competitors goes to …”
And the top two places guys get to compete against the second and third year monsters right at the end of the show. FUCK!
Okay, so I'm not runner up after all. I step forward and the crowd go fucking nuts. I hear loud whooping. And someone calls my name. Johnny calls my name! And when I take my third place trophy, I actually start to well up. Because I feel so much fucking love right now from everyone here at Muscle University. But then I feel a weird pull in my stomach. And that familiar sadness hits me again. Because one person’s missing. The person I want here the fucking most.
When I go backstage, people congratulate me. They hit my arm. They pat me on the shoulder. But all I can feel is this weird sort of emptiness. I get my phone out of my backpack and my chest tightens when I bring up my notifications. There’s a shit load of likes on my latest post. A fair few comments too. But none from Luke. Nothing from Luke.
And then I can’t stop myself. I’m looking at his From Geek to Freak Instagram profile and seeing his cute little face and his adorable dimples and his hot little abs and his meaty biceps. And I suddenly feel like I’m gonna fucking cry. It’s like someone’s pulling at my fucking heart. I want Luke so fucking badly. Right now I don’t blame him for leaving. I kissed Deano. I fucked up. But he has to forgive me. I have to make Luke forgive me.
It’s all I can think about for the rest of the afternoon. When I’m sitting near the front of the audience with the seventh to fourth place competitors from the first years category, who are actually all pretty cool and may even become mates after this. When I’m watching the second years crank and pose on stage. When I’m watching the third year monsters (and bloody HELL some of them are monsters). And when I’m watching my potential new buddie Eric Mafra and runner up Banksy compete with the best of the freaks from the second and third year categories. All I can think about is Luke. How the fuck I can make things right. And how I can make him forgive me. For kissing Deano. For not telling him about the kiss. For telling him to fuck off.
Should I text him? Call him even? Tell him how I feel? Maybe I should post something else on Instagram. Just pour my fucking heart out into a post. Without mentioning Luke, obviously. A post that only he would get.
Or maybe I should just go to Sheffield. I don’t know his mum’s address. Maybe I could just catch a train and text him and tell him that I’m on my way and that he HAS to see. Is that reckless? Crazy even? More reckless than flirting with gay dudes on Instagram? Crazier than taking Luke all the way to Glasgow for a spontaneous night out?
I’m still thinking about it when I'm watching Mafra place fifth overall. When I'm watching the first placed trophy go to some fuck off huge third year with a big bonkers mohawk. When I’m saying goodbye to Johnny. When I’m telling him that I don’t know when I’m leaving for Easter. Probably tomorrow. But I don’t know where I’m going yet. Maybe home. Maybe to Bristol. Maybe somewhere else.
And I’m still thinking about it as I’m walking through Hanson Hall on the way back to my dorm room, still bronzed from the competition, wearing my Johnny Bravo t-shirt and Luke’s shiny blue posers under my trackies. How to make it up with Luke. How to make things right.
I get to the door of my room and I make a decision. I’m going to Sheffield. First thing tomorrow, I’m going to Glasgow and then I’m catching a train to fucking Sheffield! I’m gonna text Luke. I’m gonna tell him I’m coming. And then I’m gonna do it. It’s reckless. It’s crazy. It’s what a #truegryffindor would do.
FUCK. I’m doing this. I’m actually fucking doing this! I open my door, excitement rushing through me at what lies ahead for me tomorrow and my heart jumps into my throat because oh … my ... fucking … GOD … I can’t believe who’s standing in front of me in the middle of my dorm room in his black framed glasses and the same blue Batman t-shirt he was wearing the first time I ever saw him.