super-powers The Man Who Saved Me (Updated 30 Jan - Chapters 1 to THE END)

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This is my first story. It's going to have bite sized chapters and very regular updates (most likely daily).

This is a m/m superhero romance. The first two chapters are mostly set up, but after that every chapter has plenty of sexy muscle and feats of strength, so please stick with it! 

Chapter 1

It began as all the best love stories do: with terrorism.

The 24th of March 2013 is much like any other day. Hugo Chavez recently died, triggering what would go on to become an economic crisis in Venezuela, the UN security council has just slammed North Korea with harsh new sanctions, Justin Timberlake is topping the charts with ‘Mirrors’, protestors are waving signs outside Parliament, protesting about something, pigeons are shitting, rain is pouring, and I'm on my way to work.

The newly opened Shard is difficult to miss. It towers over London’s skyline, jutting into the clouds like the lair of a comic book villain. I make my way inside, flashing my ID as I go. ‘Jake Langley’, it says in large capital letters, along with an employee number and my date of birth. I only show it as a courtesy - the security guards have all memorised my face by now. I sometimes wonder what they think of me. Am I ‘that cute, fresh faced little pastry chef with the dimples’ or do they just see me as a child straight out of college, coasting by on boyish looks, with no clue what he’s doing? I’d like to think it was the former. I’d like to. But I don’t. I wish I was the kind of guy who had the guts to ask. The kind who knows he's good enough, who knows he's not going to be rejected or shut down. But even if I wasn't gay, I will never be that kind of guy. It's not in my nature. I'm not assertive or domineering. I smile, wave, and make pastry. That's my nature. I slip by in this hyper masculine world by being too small for anyone to see as a threat. And for the most part, it works.

The kitchens still shine like the day they were installed, which wasn't that long ago. Most kitchens are crowded, starkly lit places where you can barely move an inch without bumping into someone or knocking something over, but not this one. Natural light pours through the floor-to-ceiling windows, treating us to a view of London that millions of people would kill for. But I'm not here for the views. Okay, maybe a little bit. But mostly, I'm here to do my job. I find my little corner and start preparing for the day’s guests. It's a Sunday, so we're expecting a lot of traffic. There isn’t an overpaid banker in London who doesn’t salivate over the idea of lunch at the Shard. Russian oligarchs, Saudi oil barons, British royalty, Colombian drug lords - we serve them all. I don’t care who they are or what they do. It's none of my business.

It sounds like a simple, boring job - making pastry. You’d be surprised at how much there is to it. There’s a reason they have pastry chefs – this is a difficult thing to get right. It's always come easily to me. I find something calming about rolling out a sheet of puff, spreading on the butter, folding it over, and rolling it out again. There's a rhythm to it. My movements soon become mechanical and I can feel myself floating away into a distant world where I'm someone interesting, somewhere interesting, doing something interesting. The kitchen hums around me as the first orders come in. Pans clink, hobs fizzle, water gurgles as  it boils. I can barely hear the orders  being barked over it all. But I'm not really paying attention.


I can feel a wave of pressure pass through my feet, up to my head, and down again. Everything is shaking; the walls, the floor, the windows. Pots rattle above my head on their hooks. I turn to see the kitchen staff frozen, eyeing one another with pointed glares. I don't think I've ever seen this room so quiet. “What was that?” I hear one of them whisper, his voice carrying clear across the room. No one answers. Was it an earthquake? It couldn’t be. Earthquakes aren’t instantaneous, they're gradual.

Then it comes again, much louder. BOOM.

I don’t know if it's the ringing in my ears or the shaking beneath my feat, but I'm suddenly hunched over a table, flour covering my hands, gasping for breath. I don't know how long I spend there, trying to comprehend what's going on. It must be a minute or two, at least. My daze is broken as an alarm whirrs into life, high pitched and screaming. Red lights flash. All at once, the shock turns to chaos.


They're coming faster now, from all over the building. I can feel them in my bones. While others run for the doors, I huddled under my table. What the hell is going on? My eyes drift to the windows, where black smoke is billowing up past our floor, carrying dust and paper. Fuck. I watched 9/11 unfold on live TV and I was here when they locked down London during the 7/7 attacks. It's impossible to ignore the reality of what's going on. This is a terrorist attack. I can see dark shapes floating past outside, just beyond the smoke. Choppers. News choppers. When I had dreamed of appearing on TV, I was thinking more along the lines of Deal or No Deal, not this. Anything but this.

I'm now alone in the kitchen. I don't know when that happened. I presume everyone else has fled. My gaze flickers to the open door as I try to decide what to do. Maybe if I run now, I could get out before the building collapses. Or maybe the lower floors are experiencing the worst of it, and I'm best waiting up here while the blaze is brought under control. Is there anything here I could turn into a parachute? No, I scold myself. That’s pointless and stupid. I’d never break through those windows anyway. Turning on my phone, I check the BBC. The first result is a live video of the Shard, burning in a dozen places. The news anchors are speaking but I can’t hear a word of it.

I watch the screen in horror as the fire begins to creep outward from the explosion sites. One of them is pretty close to this kitchen. Placing my hands on the ground, I feel warmth. There’s a rumbling sensation. Something is crackling not far from our door. As fast as I can, I slam it shut, backing away with a hiss as the handle burns my skin, leaving it red and blotchy. Now there’s smoke trickling in through the vents and the air is getting hazy. Pulling a wet cloth over my mouth, I run around the kitchen and turn on all the taps and block all the drains. They overflow one by one, spilling out onto the floor until there’s a pool of water an inch deep. This won’t save me, but it might slow the spread.

It’s getting seriously hot in here. I clutch my burned hands around the wet cloth, which eases the pain, but nothing can stop the coughing fits. There’s soot clogging my lungs and in my eyes, causing them to water uncontrollably. The air is so thick now that I can barely see from one end of the room to the other. My only sign that the door has buckled is the red tongues of flame licking at the ceiling. At the same time, I’m hit by a wave of heat so overwhelming that my only option is to curl up on the floor and cover my face as I feel the skin of my back start to blister.

Then something astonishing happens. Something so unusual that I wonder if I’m hallucinating. There's a silhouette visible through the smoke. A man. He's enormous, and seems completely unphased by the fire caressing every inch of his body. His eyes find me on the floor, and a look of relief flits across his face. I blink, and he’s suddenly leaning over me. How did he move so fast? I open my mouth to ask, but only a ragged cough comes out. Two huge arms gently scoop me up. I press my face into his chest to escape the heat. Somehow even in the middle of a burning skyscraper, his touch makes me feel safe. Protected. Isn’t that strange? I hear the sound of shattering glass, feel a rush of cold air on my neck. The arms wrap more tightly around me. The lurching in my stomach tells me we’re moving, and I try to look around, but one hand on the back of my head keeps me locked to his chest.

As the adrenaline fades, my body starts to scream in pain. I’ve never felt such agony. It’s only a matter of time before blackness is creeping into my vision, clouding my mind.

And then I’m gone.   

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What a nice set up. You got me hooked man.

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Chapter 2

Beep, beep, beep. Beep, beep, beep. That damned machine. Doesn't it have a volume setting? I'd give anything to shut it up. 

All it takes is a twitch of my finger to bring all that pain back to the surface. My eyes try to open, but the room is far too bright. I shy away from the sterile white light above me. I groan, and just the feel of my burned skin against cloth has me retching. The muffled sound of footsteps is followed by a warm, feminine voice. "Try not to move, Love. I'll up your pain killers. You should be just fine in a moment." I still my body as best I can, but a shiver is working its way down my arms and legs. I can't stop myself from shaking.

"There we go." The voice comes again, more distant this time. I close my eyes and after just a moment, open them again, but the light has changed and the woman has gone. It's darker now. I gently turn my head, careful not to reawaken the burns all over my body. I'm alone, that much is clear. The room is clean and bare, lit only by the orange glow of the streetlights outside. Beside my bed sits a machine covered in flickering LED lights. I can tell some parts of my body have been bandaged but don't feel brave enough to explore beyond that. 

What happened? How did I get here? I was on my way to work, then... Then the bombing. Oh God. It all comes flooding back in a rush. The sound of the encroaching fire, the harsh odour, thick in my lungs, that overwhelming sense of dread. Of being trapped, completely helpless, with no chance of escape. The welts all over my body scream out at the thought, hinting at how much worse it could have been. I could have died in pain, with no one by my side. What happened to the other kitchen staff? Are they okay? Did they all make it out? 

And then there was that man. Once he registers in my mind, all other thoughts fall away. Who was he? How did he find me? How did he get me out? I have so many questions. He didn't seem bothered by the fire at all, which can't be possible. I must have been imagining it. But then, I remember hearing the windows shatter, the rush of wind, and here I am, safe and sound in a hospital bed. It doesn't add up. I resolve to ask one of the nurses how I arrived here first thing in the morning. I could press the 'Help' button, but I don't want to be a bother. Instead, my mind drifts irresistibly back to that man. 

And his body. God, his body. The fact that it's so firmly burned into my mind after all that stress is a testament to how remarkable he was. If I hadn't been choking out on the kitchen floor, I'd have gasped. He was handsome. No, that doesn't do it justice. He was beautiful. An adonis. He must have been at least 6'6", wide as a barn, and built like a bodybuilder. But not one of those tanned up, gross bodybuilders with bloated guts and muscles that look like they're being uncomfortably squeezed under a later of fleshy saran rap. Despite his size, he seemed to exude grace and elegance. I know those aren't the most masculine terms, but I really can't describe it any other way. I can picture his face, but only faintly. Blond hair, piercing blue eyes. Kind of boyish? The finer details are lost on me. 

I wish I could thank him. I wish had a name, at least. I don't know if it's the pain or exhaustion or medication or the hundred questions bouncing around in my head, but I'm asleep before I know it.

The next morning, a tall, wafer thin doctor with a thick Scottish accent and recounts all of my injuries. Mostly burns, some mild and some severe, but all being treated with the best care available. My stomach churns as I'm told about all of the doctors being brought in from across Britain in response to the Shard bombing. Specialists in every area from burns to lung damage to limb loss. The last one sends a shiver down my back. It soon becomes very clear that I got off lightly compared to many of the victims. 

"Has anyone come to see me?" I cautiously ask.

The pity in his eyes tells me everything I need to know. "There have been a few reporters, but we've kept them away. They didn't need much convincing. There were a lot of big names caught up in this mess, and a lot of them were eager to talk." He must spot the disappointment on my face, because he pauses and then says "If anyone comes, I'll let you know. We contacted your family, but they-"

"Couldn't be bothered?" I finish for him.

"...Were otherwise indisposed." He says with a disdainful tone. 

Once all the details are ironed out and I've been pressured into swallowing a few mouthfuls of food, I'm left once again to wallow in my loneliness. It's not until I lie on my side with a painful grunt that I notice the note tucked under my pillow. I unfold it, biting my lip. In relatively neat, but clearly male handwriting are the words 'Get well soon. Dean.' I stare at the note for a moment. Do I know a guy named Dean? No one springs to mind? And even if I did, when would he have had a chance to slip this under my pillow?

Of course, there is one man it could be. My chest swells at the thought. 

Dean. The man who saved me. Over the following days, my mind is never far from him, from his body or his face or his curious abilities. Desperation builds in my gut, to see him again. I'm already formulating a plan to scour facebook, instagram, even the yellow pages if I have to. Whatever it takes to track him down, I'll do it. Dean is in London and I'm going to find him. I even briefly consider reaching out to an old friend from university who now works at GCHQ, but that might be overkill. Besides, how would I explain any of this to him without coming off as a lunatic? 

As it turns out, I don't need to find Dean at all. Less than a week later, he finds me. 

It's a week since I woke up. I managed to stand on the fifth day (though a lot of painful groaning ensued), and walk across the room on the sixth, but I want more. Being mothered by doctors and nurses is driving me crazy. Not being able to go for a shit on my own is just insulting. As someone who has always taken pride in achieving things by my own merit, there's nothing I hate more than relying on others for everything. It makes me feel vulnerable. Weak. I'm done with this hospital. I'm going back to my flat and watching some shit reality tv and having a cup of coffee and there's nothing these assholes can do about it.

Except they can. They may not be MMA fighters, but neither am I. Especially right now. A toddler could overpower me in this state.

So I need to be stealthy. 

Shifts change at 8pm. The day staff leave and the night staff. But there's usually a small period of time between the two, while the night staff are still preparing to start. That's when I make a break for it. I've already changed - painstakingly - into the uniform I arrived brought in, which someone has cleaned and ironed. The texture of the material has been warped by the heat and smells like a barbecue, but it will do for now. I can't walk out in my patient gown or I'll be stopped. 

I scrunch my face up against the pain, using my hands to push up from the bed. The first few steps are always the hardest. I'm sweating by the time I reach the door but I refuse to back down. Slipping it open, I make my way down a long hallway, the sound of my footsteps echoing against the walls. This place is a maze. If not for the signs pointing to the exit, I would be stuck in here. At each turning, the corridors become more busy, which I take as a positive sign. I'm glad I never buzzed for help on my first night - none of the night staff recognise my face as I pass. I try to hide the stagger in my step, keep a straight face. No one questions me. 

Thank god, I soon reach a waiting room, and beyond that, a foyer. The sky outside is a deep, steadily darkening blue. It's windy, and I can feel myself shivering, but I embrace it. I never realised how stagnant my room had become until I could finally breathe fresh air. It fills me up like a drug. Makes me feel whole again.

My attempts to find some point of reference in these twisting streets prove to be a failure. I don't recognise this part of London at all. That's not unusual - this is a big city, after all. But it means I have a long walk home. I might be able to sneak onto the tube, or persuade a bus driver to let me on for free. Beyond that, my options are limited. I walk for what feels like half a mile, confident at first, and then more painfully. Soon my face is contorted in agony as the clothes on my back scrape against my burns over and over again. I start to stumble. One hand on the side of a building keeps me upright. I have to take breaks every few moments just to catch my breath. Eventually my shoe catches on a raised pavement slab and there's nothing to support myself against. I don't even have the energy to put my hands forward. I close my eyes tight in that split second before my face hits the ground.

But the impact never comes. 

Someone has caught me. No, not someone. I would recognise the feeling of those arms anywhere - so huge and hard and paradoxically gentle. They lift me back up to a standing position and settle on my waist. My feet are touching the ground but he seems to be taking my whole weight. Sure enough, I look up - way up - into a face I could never forget. Dean looks down at me with concern etched into the corners of his eyes. "Are you okay? What are you doing here? You should be in hospital." There's something of admonishment in his tone, but it's not harsh. 

Here he is. My rescuer. The man I haven't been able to stop thinking about for a week. Holding me in the middle of a darkened street in some random suburb on the outskirts of London. I have a million questions, all dancing on the tip of my tongue. I want to ask them all at once. I want to thank him. I want to know all about my strange and incredible saviour. But when push comes to shove, all I can do is croak out the word "Hi."

"Hi." One half of his mouth quirks up in a smirk.

"You're Dean, right? That was your note?" 

The smirk becomes a full-blown grin. He squints a little. God his eyes are gorgeous. "I'm going to take you back now, okay?"

"NO!" I shout, a little too quickly. "No, no I'm fine. I just need to go home."

He considers me for a moment, brow furrowed. "I don't know about that."

"Really, I'm fine. I can't handle one more day in that place and I'm sure as hell not going back." I lean on his enormous arms. They must be thicker than my thighs. The fabric is straining against his muscle and he's not even flexing. His hands remain clamped around me.  

Whether it's my words that convince him, or the tone or even my touch, I can't tell. But after a slight hesitation, he nods to himself. "This is a bad idea, but fine. I'm keeping an eye on you. Any problems and we're going straight back." Normally I would balk at the idea of someone dictating  my actions, but with Dean, it doesn't feel so strange. He continues, "Where do you live, anyway?"

I hide the joy of my victory behind an excellent poker face, and tell him my address. "Where are we?" 

"Havering. You're a long way from home, little guy." 

"Damn. I guess I could get a taxi. Does the tube even run this far out?"

That smirk again. "I have a better idea." He says, slipping one arm around my back - carefully avoiding my burn sites - and using the other to pull my face into his chest just like when he saved me from the tower. He smells so... masculine. I’d take a deeper breath but I just met this guy and the last thing I want is to creep him out. I feel a rush of wind that bites through my clothes and brings goosebumps rippling over my skin. When he lets me pull away, we're stood right in front of my central London block. 

There's an adorably look on his face, half smug and half nervous. "How was that?"

I gape at my street in wonder. I feel like my eyes are about to pop out of my head. This is impossible. "How the... Did you... What?"

At my astonished expression, he lets out the cutest laugh I've ever heard. I feel his large, solid hand wrap around my small one. "Let's get inside. I'll explain everything."

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Chapter 3

"Do you want tea? Coffee?" He calls from the kitchen. 

"You're the guest. Aren't I supposed to ask you that?" I reply. This is my house. That's my kitchen. Every time I move to leave the sofa, Dean comes rushing into the living room to stop me. I can't figure out how he knows. If I'm quiet, I should be able to sneak around, and yet he always knows. It's not even possible to clean up without him worrying I'll spontaneously combust, which is annoying because this place could really do with a spritzing. I wasn't expecting to host. There are dirty clothes on the floor, empty Pot Noodle cartons on the table, complete with crusted-up forks. It's the best I can do to move the recipe books into a neat pile. 

"I'd cook you something, but all of your food has rotten. Not that there was much fresh stuff here to begin with..." I hear the accusation in his tone.

"Hey!" I shout back. "You try working in a kitchen for nine hours a day, then see how much you want to cook when you come home."

I hear his laugh, and then watch him appear with two mugs. Muttering a quick 'thank you', I take a cup and drink. That's a good cup of tea. Although there's something strange about it that I can't put my finger on. I stare into the brown liquid as steam curls up into my face. There's fresh milk in here. Where did he get fresh milk? And isn't my kettle broken?

"How are your burns? I don't mind getting you some painkillers." Dean says, plopping down on the sofa next to me. It groans under his weight.

"For the fiftieth time, I'll be fine." I pause. "But there is something you could do for me."

He focuses those deep blue eyes on me, urging me to continue. It's like he's staring into my soul. I get the impression that Dean could be extremely intimidating if he wanted.

Now that I'm home, on familiar ground, I feel enough confidence stirring in my gut to say, "You could start explaining."

He was clearly expecting this. "What do you want to know?"

At first I don't know what to ask. Not due to any shortage of questions, but because I haven't got a clue where to begin. I mentally shake myself, take a sip of tea, and begin with the basics. His name is Dean Lawson, he's twenty three (a year older than my twenty two, but his birthday was only last month), is six foot eight (Christ on a cracker), weighs 225kg (no wonder the couch is struggling), lives alone and has no family to speak of (I tell him I'm the same), and he has superpowers.

It takes me a while to process that last response. "Say what?"

He awkwardly scratches the back of his neck. "You've read superman, right? The comics, I mean, not the movies. Well, I guess the movies work too, but-" As much as I love to watch him squirm, this is too ridiculous.

"Yes I've read superman. Are you about to tell me you have Superman's powers?" It's difficult to hide my scepticism. After everything I've seen him do, I can't call him a liar, but even so. Superman? Really? Get real.

"Pretty much." He shrugs his basketball-sized shoulders as if that's an acceptable reply. 

I stare at him, analysing his face, trying to figure out the game here. He can't be serious. The things he did were impressive, sure, but he can't seriously expect me to believe this. "Well for starters, are we talking Golden Age Superman, Silver Age, Bronze, Modern, or that New 52 shit? Because Superman has had a lot of different power levels."

What he says next stuns me. This big burly hunk starts spouting some serious comic book knowhow. "Well Golden Age Superman couldn't even fly, and Silver Age could sneeze so hard that he blew away an entire galaxy, so... somewhere between those two. I'd have to go with the New 52." He grins at my surprise. Then again, of course someone claiming to have the powers of Superman would have some knowledge of that those powers entailed. 

"What a nerd." I punch him in the arm, and have to shake out the ache. It's lucky I didn't put much force into it or I'd have broken my hand. Dean feels like solid marble. "Didn't the New 52 Superman bench press the Earth?"

"Sounds about right." He nods, completely deadpan. "The only difference is that as far as I know, I don't have any weaknesses. If you think about it, it's kind of weird that Superman is invulnerable to practically everything... except some green rocks. But they needed to create drama in the story somehow, and I guess that's one way of doing it. They also gave him a weakness to magic, but luckily for me, that doesn't exist."

I stare at him, mouth agape. "Huh."

"You don't believe me." He says. It's not a question.

"Would you believe any of this?"

Dean's mouth forms a line as he thinks. "I would take you out somewhere to show off but I don't want to move you. Those burns definitely haven't healed yet. If the skin breaks, they could become infected, and then you'd be spending a lot more time in a hospital bed."

"You're right, let's not do that." I pluck a decorative rock from the coffee table. The thing has some real weight to it. It was a souvenir from an old family trip to the Canary Islands, back before I escaped to the world of relative sanity. "This is granite." I say, putting it in his hand. "You know what to do."

As I stare unblinking, Dean's thick fingers close around the rock. Crack. Black dust starts to trickle out of the gaps. His grip keeps tightening, far more than I would have believed possible, until there's almost no space at all. Then all of a sudden, he unfurls his hand to reveal a tiny, compact sliver of stone, so hot from the pressure that it glows a fierce red. There are clear fingerprints in its surface. Holy shit. 

I don't know what my face looks like, but he's getting a real kick out of it. There's something so boyish about his smile, which on anyone else would contrast awkwardly with such a developed physique. But Dean makes it look natural. 

Once the stone has cooled, he hands it back to me. It's such a bizarre feeling - the rock is tiny,  but seems to weigh almost the same as it did earlier. "Okay." I say, shaping the word slowly with my mouth. My brain is still trying to catch up to what I just saw. "New 52 it is."

"But without the weaknesses." He corrects me.

"So... super strength?" I ask. Dean nods. "Invulnerability?" Nod. "Speed?" Nod. "Laser vision?" Nod. "X-ray vision?" A hesitant nod. We both know the implications of that one.  

I'm still drilling him on his abilities when a car backfires outside. In that instant, it's like someone flicked a switch in my brain, transporting me back a week to the moment those bombs went off. My heart starts to thunder as my breath comes so quickly in and out and in and out that nothing seems to reach my blood. I feel my entire body seize up and start to shake, completely out of my control and I put my head in my lap, sobbing uncontrollably. All I can think about is the fear, the sound of fire, the choking smoke, heat on my back, water on the floorWhat's going on? I know in some part of my mind that I'm having a panic attack, that none of this is real, and it should be as simple as taking back control of my body. But I can't. My limbs won't obey me. That sense of overwhelming dread grows stronger and stronger until it blots out every ounce of agency I have.

"Jake. Jake, it's okay." The deep timbre of Dean's voice sounds so distant. I know it's okay. I know I'm fine. So why can't I stop this? I faintly sense him pulling me into his lap, wrapping his arms protectively around me. I feel warm breath in my hair. "It's okay. You're safe. I've got you." He continues saying those things, comforting words as he rocks me back and forth. I soon gain enough power over my body to force my breaths to slow. In through the nose and out through the mouth, in through the nose and out through the mouth. I need to calm down. I clench my fists to try to stop them trembling. It's almost as if Dean's big, powerful body is lending me just enough strength to overcome whatever possessed me. I don't know how long it takes before I'm back, physically if not entirely mentally. I'm still quivering, my skin clammy with sweat, but I'm lucid.

"S-sorry. That's n-never happened before." I whisper. 

Dean's arms grow tighter. 

"I don't want to go back to hospital." I say, preempting what I know he's going to do. 

"I won't force you." He says. "But I think you need to get some sleep."

I don't argue with that. "Fine. But this whole powers thing - we're not finished. I still have a lot of questions. I just need to... I just..." My words are lost on a deep, shuddering breath. I can't think straight. Dean lifts me up like I weigh nothing at all, cradling me in his arms, and with just a few long strides, we're in my bedroom. I barely register him taking my clothes off. It passes in a blur. I'm lying on my side (to spare my back) before I know it. And Dean is walking to the door, switching off the light. I can't let him go. I can't. The thought terrifies me. "Wait." I murmur. He stops, turns back to me. "Please don't go. I don't want to be alone. Please." I know I sound pathetic. What a child. First I can barely walk, then I start having a panic attack in the middle of my living room, and now I'm asking, no, begging a man I just met to spend the night with me.

To my surprise, the bed creaks as he lies down and pulls me against his chest with a warm hand. A tree-trunk leg becomes tangled with my thin ones. The first thing I notice is that he's not wearing a shirt. It's hard to see much in the dark, but my hands tentatively explore what turns out to be some very hard muscle. Round, striated pecs. Rippling abs and obliques. Not an ounce of fat. He chuckles and I draw back. "Sorry."

"I liked it." He whispers, so quietly that I almost miss it. His nose is buried in my hair and once again I feel the soft tickle of breath on my scalp. His smell is intoxicating. Like polished oak and sawdust. I didn't know someone could smell so manly. It's incredible how safe he can make me feel with nothing but his presence. Or perhaps it isn't that incredible at all. I've heard what he can do, and seen enough to believe it. If this inexplicably powerful man wants to protect me, then I'm completely safe, and that's all there is to it.  

"Night, Dean." I say.

"Night, Jake."


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This is excellent. things arejust getting started between this two

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Hmmmmm loving this! Who cares if other people wrote something similar? You’ll give it your own spin. Also: do chat with me, I have lots of darker ideas for how this could develop! ?

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Sorry about the delay. This one has a lot of characterisation, a few strength feats, and a lot of inner turmoil. Not much sexy stuff, but this is all build up.

Chapter 4

If the whole culinary thing doesn’t work out, I know I have great prospects for a career in contortionism. Waking up with Dean’s enormous arms clamped around me was an incredible experience. Getting out of them was a different kettle of fish. His sleeping body felt like a marble statue. I couldn’t even bend his little finger, pushing with all my strength, so I had to twist my body and wriggle out like a worm in what definitely wasn't one of my proudest moments. I tried to avoid waking Dean. That would ruin the surprise.

Half an hour later, I hear him before I see him. “Jake?”

“In the kitchen.” I call back.

Less than a second later, Dean appears in the doorway wearing only a pair of boxers that bunch up over his bulging thighs. He really is flawless. Perfect proportions, not a blemish to be seen, and a light tan. Even the most genetically gifted fitness models only look this good after a hefty dose of Photoshop, and this guy just rolled out of bed. Even his bed-head looks like the work of a talented stylist. “What’s that smell?” He asks, before breaking out into a grin as his eyes find me. I must look pretty funny, covered in flour. I never was a clean cook.  

“Danish Pastries. Turned out pretty great if I do say so myself.” I present the cooling rack with a theatrical flourish. Each pastry is woven into a different shape, with a cream-based topping piped on, garnished with berries and dusted with icing sugar. When you make the same thing all day, every day, for some of the most exacting customers in the world, you learn to get it right. “We all have our skills.”

“They look great.” Dean says, but then his smile begins to waver. “Wait, are those strawberries? Where did you get fresh strawberries?”

I bite my lip. This is going to turn into a big thing, I can feel it. “Tesco?”

That’s all it takes. I watch him go through recognition, shock, fear, and then anger in time it takes me to draw breath. “You went shopping on your own? In your condition? Are you crazy? You should have asked me to do it.” He crosses the kitchen until his broad frame is looming over me.

I know he’s not trying to be scary. Most likely, he doesn’t realise quite how intimidating he is. Anyone else might cower away, but this situation is all too familiar to me. Big guys like this know they’ve won the moment you show fear. Size only matters when you let them know it does. Standing at my full height only takes me mid-way up his chest, but it’s the best I can do. I hold my ground. “I’m a twenty-three year old man, Dean. That means I can get my own groceries. I can look after myself. I always have.”

He raises his voice and I can’t help flinching. “Look after yourself? What if you had another panic attack and I wasn’t there? You could’ve-“ His words become muffled as I reach up and shove a Danish pastry into his mouth. That’ll shut him up. He narrows his eyes at me for just long enough to make me wonder whether I’ve made a terrible mistake, but then the look is replaced by delight as the pastry begins to melt, the flavours and textures dancing in harmony.

God damn, I’m good.  

“Better?” I smirk. He’s not the only one who can show off. “You know, for a guy who claims to be indestructible, you sure do worry a lot.”

“I’m not worried about myself.” He says as he chews. “I’m worried about you. People are fragile; they break so easily. And you’re already injured.” Swallowing, Dean puts a hand on each of my shoulders and leans in close. The concern etched into his face makes sends my heart fluttering. “I don’t want to see you get hurt, okay?”

God damn, he’s good.

“Maybe you have a point. If I find anything difficult, I’ll tell you, okay? Just until I’m better. But you’ve got to let me live my life.”

Dean brushes flour off the end of my nose with a finger. “Deal.” He says, but I can tell he doesn’t mean it.

It occurs to me that the acceptance mortality is probably an unfamiliar concept to him. Later today, I could get hit by a car or shot by a mugger or struck by lightning. I could be killed by a thousand different things that I can’t predict or prevent. That’s just part of being human. It takes us a while, sometimes many years, but we come to accept these risks, and continue on regardless. We could roll ourselves up in bubble-wrap and hide from the world, but what good is surviving without living? I wonder if that’s something Dean has ever had to confront.

I hand him another pastry, which he scoffs greedily. Then another. Then another. I really shouldn’t be surprised. The batch doesn’t last long, not does the one after that. Dean attacks them like a vulture the moment they’re out of the oven. “Be careful, they’re…” I begin, before remembering that this is a guy who can walk through a fire. “…Hot.”

“Any plans for today?” He asks, licking the (still scorching) baking tray clean.

“Now that you mention it, I did have one idea…”


“Holy shit.” I gasp, rubbing my eyes in disbelief. Miles away, the cargo ship rises further into the air. I can hear it from here – the deep groaning of metal as it bends, the snap of cables, the rustle of containers as they tumble over the deck. It’s hard to see Dean from here. That tiny dark speck is holding up the entire ship, carrying it through the sky. “Bet you can’t rip it in half.” I whisper. Once I realised he could hear me perfectly fine, I started talking more and more quietly in an attempt to figure out the boundaries of his power. So far I had yet to find any.

Before my eyes, the cargo ship bursts into two pieces. They fly in opposite directions before embedding themselves deep into the salt flats. It takes a while for the sound to reach me.

“That was incredible.”

“Thanks.” Dean says, before sitting down on the sand and putting an arm around me. I never saw him fly back.

“I’m never going to get used to you just appearing like that.” I say, leaning into him. He shrugs. “I can’t believe I just watched you pick up a cargo ship.”

He puffs up his chest in the same way he does whenever shows off. “That was no big deal. I didn’t even break a sweat. You want to see something really cool?”

I quirk an eyebrow. “Go on…”

Dean winks and turns to look at one half of the cargo ship. His eyes begin to glow red, then turn white. I can feel the heat pouring off them. Their sheer power causes the air to ripple and warp. It makes the hairs stand up on my arms. The closest thing I can compare it to is walking under an active power cable – you hear that buzz, sense energy in the air. It’s like that, but a hundred times stronger. Then without warning, two thick beams of light burst through the air, illuminating the flats like the midday sun. As they hit the ship, it explodes in a cloud of black smoke. Once the light has faded from his eyes, Dean turns and flashes me a cocky smirk. “How’s that for incredible?”

I stare back. My mouth has fallen open, and it’s a while before I’m able to close it again. I’ve never witnessed anything like this before; a display of force so mind-bogglingly, impossibly powerful that my brain struggles to comprehend it. And it’s something Dean does almost casually, the same way someone else might burp the alphabet or curl their tongue. Like it’s a party trick. I get the impression I’m only beginning to see the extent of Dean’s strength. What he’s capable of. The sheer carnage he could wreak on a global scale without even trying. The existence of life on planet earth hinges on the whim of a twenty-three year old man.

And I shoved a pastry into this guy’s mouth.

“You okay? Did I freak you out? I freaked you out, didn’t I?” My thoughts must have shown on my face. Dean is watching me carefully, analysing my reaction.

“It’s just a lot take in, you know?” I give his arm a squeeze.

“So you’re not freaking out?”

“I’m not freaking out.” I look around at the salt flats. They stretch on and on to the horizon, as far as I can see. “Though I’m kind of curious… Where are we? And why is there an abandoned cargo ship sitting in the middle of the desert?”

“This is the Aral Sea.” Dean tells me. “Or at least, it used to be. It was so heavily exploited for agriculture that it just… drained away.  We’re sitting on the seabed. A few decades ago, we would’ve been hundreds of feet underwater. When I first learned about this place, I wanted to fix it.” He says as he stares into the distance. “I could’ve done it. I still could.”

“Why didn’t you?” I ask.

He turns to me with a glassy look in his eyes. “Because I know it would never stop there. When I’m done bringing back the Aral Sea, people would want more. It’s not enough to stick to acts which are indisputably good – people would complain that I’m letting evil deeds go unpunished to protect my own sense of morality. And once I start involving myself in complicated issues, I’ll become the kind of man I never want to be. Sure, I could end any war in a day, but do I have the right to decide who wins? If a nation elects a corrupt tyrant, do I have a right to take him down? If a man steals bread from a multi-billion pound retail giant to feed his family, do I let him go, or do I enforce the law? There’s a reason comic book heroes fight unrealistically evil bad guys. Because good and evil is easy to understand. It gives us something simple to escape to when we need a break from the real world. Because out here, everything is morally grey, confusing, subjective.” He takes a deep breath. I can tell this is something he’s spent a lot of time thinking about. “I can't do anything without doing everything... So instead, I do nothing.”

“You saved me, didn’t you? That’s not doing nothing.”

"That's not the same." Dean pulls me into his lap, and says something that makes me do double take. “You’re different.”

My first reaction would be to ask why. What makes my life more valuable? What makes me worth saving over someone else? If rescuing me meant breaking the rules Dean set himself, why did he do it? And why did he come and find me after I left the hospital, take me home, reveal his secrets, hold me in the night? Because I’m different? I want to ask what that means, but it’s obvious that Dean is in no mood to explain.

I wish he was right. It would be nice to be special.

As I watch a dark pillar of smoke creep westward through the sky, I can’t help wondering what it would be like to hold so much power. To be different. To be able to do whatever you choose, limited only by your own will.

Would that really be such a gift?

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Gotta say I'm loving this story. Keep up the good work!

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