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growth To Protect and Serve - Chapter 10.3e (Posted 22 Oct 2021)


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6 hours ago, unnamed said:

@GymPredator I’ve just began reading “Immortal Hulk” and I get reminded a lot of your story and the “demon” within John whenever I read “demon hulk” dialogue 

Haha.  Spoiler  - just wait for later in this chapter....

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2 hours ago, GymPredator said:

Haha.  Spoiler  - just wait for later in this chapter....

😲 given how the hulk is a horror story I’m not sure if I should be excited or afraid

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5 hours ago, unnamed said:

😲 given how the hulk is a horror story I’m not sure if I should be excited or afraid

Not a horror story.  Just... well you will see.  It will be obvious.

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14 minutes ago, hoga said:

ugh the waiting

I am 12 pages in - so I promise it is being written.  The "hulk" thing will not be until the end of this chapter.  But working on getting back to regular posting.

The verdict seems to be posting shorter sections a bit faster.  So, I am going to try and do that for the rest of Chapter 10 and then ask how you all like the split.  Basically posting scene by scene (at most 2 shorter scenes if I write a short scene, lol).  

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Author's Note:  Thanks for the patience for the hiatus while I was moving and settling in.  Going to try the faster posting with single scene posts this chapter and see how you guys all like it.  As usual when referring to actual living people, their inclusion is for richness of the story.  Being included is not an endorsement or approval or disapproval of any part of this story.  And... for the people who want to see Gabriel and how he is changing highlighted, you'll like the next few sections....


Chapter 10 - The Titan on Olympus - Part 3a - Hyperion Reigns

“You were there when I was gone /  You were the strength to carry on / Stop right there, is this how it feels when angels learn to fly...” ~ Black Stone Cherry, When Angels Learn to Fly

1 Oct 2020.  9.5 months after the accident

When we last left John and Gabriel in Chapter 10.2...


An hour later, the first posts of the six lifters with John and Gabriel hit their social media.  It was an amazing photograph.  Surrounded by slot machines were six great looking young lifters. All of them were flexing their biceps.  In the middle was Gabriel - shirtless and on point, flexing the tremendous set of abs he was developing in an abs and thigh pose John and Justin had taught him on the fly not a week before.  And towering over them all was John, smiling his brilliant smile, lats flaring and biceps flexing - biceps  that were literally twice the size of all the ones arrayed below him.  Even the lowest dip of the massive triceps on the underside of his arms was 18 inches over the head of the tallest of those under him.  


As they walked to baggage claim, Gabriel laughed as he saw new followers by the dozens piling onto him every second.  He showed it to John, who found it just as funny.  The announcement was made.  The man the bodybuilding world knew as the Titan - who his friends gave the name the Apex Predator of bodybuilding - and his fiancé - with a body in the making so heavenly exquisite they called him the Angel -  had arrived at the Olympia Bodybuilding and Fitness Weekend. 



The stage of the pre-show press conference was filled with the best bodybuilders in the world.  As anyone familiar with pre-contest sports interviews might expect, there were more than a few fluff questions, some challenges, and trash talking.  Some mind games.  It was all part of the fun.  But then… then a question came to the man on stage who had won more than any other active man or woman in the room.  The man sat behind his microphone, a seasoned professional dressed in oxford-style dress shirt and jacket with no tie.  


Phil Heath began speaking:  


“Essentially, I got into the sport for a reason.  That’s to have a dream, being able to accomplish that dream, and continue to be on that path of personal excellence. Along that journey I learned a lot, and the best thing that happened to me was actually losing in 2018.


“That was the best thing that happened to me. And then taking a step back, getting recovered, and then being able to really focus on the mastery of myself as a man, not just a bodybuilder.


“When I was able to watch the show last year, I was able to find that spark.  That was something that I thought ‘Wow, that’s all I needed.’ Then I realized that winning seven in a row, there’s only so many people that can say that.


As he said those last few sentences, he shifted his gaze - not to the crowd nor to the hosts nor to anyone else on stage or just off. Instead his pale green eyes were laser focused on the far back of the room, at two blobs sunken deeply in the shadows under one of the auditorium’s overly tall arched doorways.  Between the stage lights shining in his face and the shadows cast by the lowered lights in the auditorium, Heath couldn’t make out any of the fine details of the shapes.  But he could see overall contours and sizes.  He was just able to make out that the two darkened blobs were in the shape of men.  A smaller one seemed to be oriented slightly to the front of a larger one leaning on one of the archway’s walls at an odd angle.  But even with so little detail available, Heath knew exactly who the pair were.  The smaller shadow was of average male height.  But the other shadow, the one at the angle…


There was only one man alive that he knew of who was that big.




John was indeed leaning casually on one side of the doorway so that his immense height could fit under it.  But, he was utterly relaxed, watching the banter between the competitors and dissecting it with amusement.  John smiled.  He couldn’t help it.  The mind games going back and forth - the usual pre-athletic event trash talk.   They are amateur at this, he thought.  If he himself stood in the light, but did nothing more than recite an astrophysics Wikipedia article, he could sap every drop of hope from every man up there.  He could have them so dejected at their chances, half might quit the sport and walk from the room.  If he actually applied himself, he could have manipulated them all into fucking each other in a debauched orgy of muscle and spunk worthy of Salò.  But, then again, he had many advantages they didn’t.  MANY advantages.  Like the advantage of a voice and manner very few humans could resist.  And then there was the advantage of hearing and understanding the clear double meaning in Phil’s words.  


John was not the only one to hear it, however.  The observation also floated up from Gabriel, who was leaning back with his growing lats and traps resting against John’s quad.  “He was talking to you in that part, wasn't he?” 


The question made John smile even more broadly - a smile of pure pride.  It was not pride in himself; it was pride in Gabriel.  His Angel’s ability to read people and to know how to use what he was reading was growing as fast as his body.  Not so long ago, hearing that sub-text would have been beyond Gabriel.  Now, even if he had not known the whole truth of the events Heath was describing, it was child’s play for him to hear that there was at least a sub-text there.  God, Gabriel is truly becoming a formidable man, he thought.  


“He isn’t just talking about me, Angel.  You too.  After all, it’s you they see everyday, and it’s you everyone can’t stop talking about.  And I, for one, love it.  I love the spotlight usually,  but also I love not being alone in it anymore.”


John wasn’t looking at Gabriel, so he couldn’t see his facial expression.  But he could hear it well enough.  Gabriel was incredulous.  “But John, it is you who lights the fire.  You made him want to be Mr Olympia again when he could have retired and no one thought a thing.  I’m just trying to make you proud of me.”


John lowered his massive paw of a hand and rested it as gently as a feather on Gabriel’s shoulder as he replied.  “Angel, I only get more and more proud of you.  And more and more humbled by you.  If I light fires in people so that they can accomplish what they think is impossible, OK.  You do something with that fire.  You temper it.  Focus it.  You make us all feel humble by what you do every moment of every day.  You keep the fire from consuming us.”


John’s inner voice shifted into light speed for a moment.  Yes, Phil was certainly telling the truth in what he said.  John had no doubt of that.  Gabriel had told him so when he told John of a conversation a few weeks ago.  Gabriel had inquired as to Phil’s well-being at the gym as he was deep into prep, and it led to a rare moment of public vulnerability for Heath.


 When you’re considered the best in the world for as long as he had, Heath had said, after a while you lose the fire that got you where you were.  Winning becomes rote, expected, and you begin to sit on your laurels, only doing what is “good enough.”  Many times that complacency is what makes a great champion lose before their time.


But, he went on, sometimes you see a very special kind of fire in an up-and-comer.  Like many, he or she is an unknown quantity but clearly has the genes and work ethic to win.  But, those special ones, the most rare ones - they have a fire that not only drives them to be better, it drives all around them.  A fire that lifts everyone to be their best.  The Hall of Fame forward who lifts his entire team, and even the opposition, to play at heights they never thought possible.  The quarterback who makes the lineman WANT to take the hits for him and who brings out legendary plays from his receivers. And they LOVE that they can help those others around them - maybe even more than winning themselves.  John has that kind of fire, Phil said, and he hoped he knew the power of that special, rare gift.


Phil told Gabriel he had seen it that first night he saw John at the Springs show.  John was magnificent of course.  Unprecedented in the history of the sport, Heath said, if he were being honest.  But what stood out as much as John himself was his guest posing routine with Cedric McMillan.  He said he’d never seen Cedric pose so well.  Cedric would have pasted anyone on the Olympia stage if he ever posed like that in competition.  The man’s weaknesses just evaporated as he held his body in a very unique way, flexed just so.  Beyond merely “dialed-in.” John just brought it out of him.  


A newcomer alongside a years long pro, the newcomer doing a posing routine he didn’t know and had never even seen until that day.  It should have been an embarrassment, but they were doing it like fucking synchronized swimmers.  Sheer perfection.  Most anyone Phil ever knew, he said, if they could even do 50% of what John did - they would be so full of themselves, so hyper-focused inward, that they would be such a prick that no one could stand them.  But all John cared about was the men and women around him, giving back, putting them in the spotlight and making them look great in it.   That was a true leader of men, Heath said.  The ones who went down in history in battle were like that.  The fighting generals who cared about every private under their command.  And there was such greatness - in a cop in Colorado.


It made him think as he watched the posing.  He couldn’t give it away at the time, but, the more he looked at John, the more clear it was.  Phil had earned his nickname of “The GIft” due to his tremendous genetic gifts.  But that nickname was now misplaced.  He had to admit that John blew everyone out of the water with raw talent and gifts.  But, John didn’t rest on that talent.  He pushed and fought every step of the way, not letting a scrap of that generic potential go to waste.   But was he stuck up?  Not for a second.  There he was truly celebrating every milestone of every person around him, even would-be rivals.  Heath said he had no doubt John would celebrate just as hard in cheering on a man who beat him as he would winning himself.   Gabriel knew it was true too.  He had seen it over and over, especially the day they fought on the mountain, and he took John down.


But, John thought, there was something that the others knew, Phil included, but had only told him … Gabriel had that fire too. It was still fresh, like the newborn forest fire that was just a clump of burning pine needles... but it was there.  And Gabriel’s fire was growing.  


Gabriel had turned into quite the topic of conversation among the Armbrust pros, not only in their friend group but outside it as well.  Though Gabriel was not the phenomenon that John was, Gabriel had a bewildering array of natural gifts of his own.  He had the genes to be something else - maybe not an open pro but in physique, he had the promise to be dangerous.  But, the greatest gift he had was that Gabriel simply would not allow himself to fail.  They all saw it as the little doctor was in there fighting every day.  He was pushing himself in a way that was rare in a newcomer, especially in one who really didn’t want to compete.  Gabriel’s will to fight, his desire for perfection, was so fucking infectious.  A desire to honor everyone around him and, thereby, honor himself.  Gabriel wasn’t just a leader. He was a fighter, the same as John.  Odd that two such different but similar men found each other, they all thought.  But, every single one of them had told John privately that Gabriel was fast becoming one of the beating hearts of that gym.


John came back to reality and found that, as usual when he was lost in thought, only a couple of exchanged words worth of time had elapsed in the real world.  As he often did when John put him on a pedestal (as he saw it) and made him feel uncomfortable, Gabriel had returned the subject to the back and forth between the competitors that they were watching.  John smiled to himself - the subject change times were getting longer and longer as Gabriel slowly accepted who he was.  


John went with it and used the opportunity to teach Gabriel more about fight psychology.  Did the body language and tones and “aura” of the opponent match the words? Who was truly confident, who wasn’t, and why - as John had taught him that not confidence was both over and under confidence and the way to handle each situation was very different.  He went further and started teaching Gabriel how to analyze physicality under clothes - what were the signs of what build.  


John was surprised that Gabriel was already right about who was going to win.  And it wasn’t just the psychology that was giving it away to him.  Gabriel was able - within the limited senses he had - to see the physical signs of conditioning just in face and neck and hands.  John had so much more ability to notice tiny things under clothes, nuances that Gabriel had no hope of seeing, but he didn’t need to.  To John, that was just one more sign of the formidable man who was soon going to be his husband.  




The pair had hoped to be able to sneak in and sneak out without any of the competitors noticing them.  John didn’t want to take away from their spotlight… except at the places where it was unavoidable or expected.  They had all worked hard to be there, and John felt it a bit unfair to detract from them until it could not be helped.  And as the news conference came close to its ending, it seemed like they would succeed.  Beyond Phil Health’s glancing, no one else seemed to acknowledge John until... 


The lights in the auditorium were brought up a bit early and unexpectedly.  That allowed the entire crowd to look around and see John and Gabriel at the back.  John’s ears were assaulted with the reaction.  At first there were gasps and audible intake of breath, and then… silence.  Utter and complete silence for several seconds.  Then, John heard more than half the room making audible comments that it was “the Titan.”  John just briefly acknowledged the reception and was about to leave when he noticed that Phil seemed to be getting someone out of eyeshot’s attention then did a slight pointing motion and wave at the arch John was under.


“Looks like Phil is waving us over.”  Gabriel said.


“He is.” John replied.  “But I don’t--” John stopped as he came to his full height.  He could then see who Phil had been speaking to.  He smiled a smile of relief.  This “fan” he knew well.  “We’re good Angel.  When the crowd thins, let’s ‘meet the competition.’”


Most of the room was clear of spectators when John fully stepped out of the shadows.  While many were content - and afraid at seeing John’s true size - to look from afar, a sizable minority who recognized him came up to speak.  John was kind to them all, but told them that he didn’t want to detract from the athletes. He did tell them that he would be at the Expo, and he would be happy to speak more then.  Seemingly satisfied, and respecting his reasons, all of them left - quite excited to get photos and autographs of the Titan at Expo.


Once that was done, with Gabriel in the lead, the pair began to make their way toward the front.  It took until they were two-thirds down before Gabriel saw why John had relaxed earlier.  Gabriel quickened his pace toward the person, which allowed John to quicken his.  Gabriel did not slow until they were within shouting distance.  


Though he wasn’t competing this year due to an injury, Cedric McMillan yelled out.  “DAMN!!!  Phil said you were going to come, but I didn’t believe it until the crowd reacted like that and went quiet.  Then, he gloated at me.”  The 6’1” bodybuilder / Army sergeant then focused UP and UP over two and a half feet to John’s happy face looking down.  “Whoa, big man.  You EVER stop showing us mere mortals up?”


John drew a bead directly for his friend as he smiled internally at the near universal non-reaction at his change in height from people who knew him when he was shorter but still taller than most humans.  It was as if they just overlooked how much taller he was now and just remembered he was tall like always.  But they all still registered the muscle growth.  


John’s first words were accompanied by a nod.  “Dude, how’s the hand?” referring to McMillan’s injury.


The giant bodybuilder soldier- well giant to most other mere mortals - held the hand up for a second, looked at it, and then shrugged off the injury.  “Healing.  Docs say it is gonna be fine.  You know how it is.  Always some fuck up.  Got in the way of the day job more than the bodybuilding.  Hard to shoot if you can’t hold a weapon,” he chuckled.  “Now, answer the question.  You getting BIGGER?”


John shrugged slightly himself.  “Trying to anyway.  Moved into working really heavy lately, along with helping train this little weed here to grow.”


McMillian’s eyes grew even wider as recognition kicked in.  “GABRIEL?!?” he asked with clear astonishment, even more astonishment than seeing John.  He extended his good hand, which Gabriel cheerfully clasped and shook.  “Oh Holy Shit!  Gabriel.  I barely recognized you.  You’re taking this man’s miracle gro, aren’t ya?  You’ve gotta give me some so I can beat these fucks next year before John wins for the next two decades.”


Gabriel laughed, and, for a rare time, blushed as strongly as the giant standing over them could.  “Oh, come on.  I’ve just been working out since July.  I know I have changed but not compared to either of you.  I mean just look at you two.  I am the proverbial 98 pound weakling compared to you, to say nothing of John."


John snorted slightly as he spoke down to his posing mentor, as John had come to love the artistry of McMillan’s routines  "Can you please talk some sense into the good doctor here?  He won't listen to me.  Maybe he will listen to you if you tell him just how good he is.”


Gabriel turned and looked up, “John--”


Cedric interrupted as if Gabriel had not said a word.  He had seen this before, and he was not going to let it take root.  "I can do more than that.  Give me a second."  


Cedric turned and walked toward the backstage area for a moment.  He was evidently looking for someone.  Then, he projected his Army sergeant command voice that, on a small scale, could have rivaled John’s.  "Hey B.  Get that scrawny ripped ass out here for a second.  Wanna introduce you to someone."


Much more faintly, but still easily heard, someone who had what sounded like a Chicago accent spoke in reply.  “I’m running through a couple of things with Flex, bro.  Be there in a minute.”


“Bring James along.” Cedric replied.  “It would be great for him to see and meet this pair too.”


This time the reply was CLEARLY in a rather thick Welsh accent.  “Alright, you big Army arse.  Always the fucking social butterfly.  You're probably out there at Fort Jackson matchmaking instead of teaching soldering.”


The retort brought on a round of laughter from everyone assembled.  Then, Cedric said to Gabriel, “Do me a favor and just go with it for a few minutes, OK?”  He then looked up at John, “And, if he doesn’t, I am not above you using some old fashioned arm twisting.”


“Hey, hey,“ Gabriel retorted.  “Don’t I get a say in this?”


“No,” both John and Cedric said simultaneously, resulting in another laugh all around.   


It was about then, perhaps thirty seconds after he called behind stage, that two men came back out front.  They were Brandon Hendrickson, a former Physique Olympia winner who was competing this year - and going to win according to John and Gabriel’s eyes -  and James “Flex” Lewis, winner of seven 212 Olympia titles who was in the middle of a transition to open pros again after years of absence.  


The words “What's up big--" escaped Brandon’s mouth before both the new men stopped their approach in literal mid step.  Both had caught sight of the Apex Predator, and their eyes simultaneously grew wide.  


It was after the customary few seconds of silence that vocal expression began again.  The first mouth to move was Flex Lewis’, but what came out was a very soft, nearly imperceptible, "Arglwyyd Mawr…"  


John looked at Gabriel in total confusion only to be met with a smile of knowing amusement plastered across Gabriel's face.  He made it only a few seconds before couldn't hold it in anymore and cracked up.  Gabriel recognized the old Welsh idiom that roughly translated into English as "Good God '' -- and the profane version of the idiom at that.  He had seen the shock and heard the words so often, but to hear it in Welshman who was just stunned into silence was too much.  


Hendrickson finally re-engaged his tongue as Gabriel’s laughter broke the spell of John's towering height and size.  The physique champion pointed up in recognition.  "Holy Shit, you're the Titan.  The one who posed with this asshole.  Good FUCK,  you're HUGE..."


Cedric reached out and waved a hand right in front of Hendrickson’s face, the way one might do to make sure someone wasn’t blind.  Having gotten the physique champ’s focus, Cedric said, “Yes, yes, you dumb shit.  Even the fucking blind can tell he is huge.  That's John.  John - Brandon and James.  You two ass clowns, this is John, The Titan, whatever it is you call him.  Now, can you see why Phillip and the rest of us call him the Predator?"  Hendrickson was able to nod in reply, slowly coming back together the way a starstruck fan might after meeting an idol. 


McMillan continued.  "But I want you to meet this man.  Doctor Gabriel York.”  Brandon’s eyes slowly latched onto the handsome young doctor.  “Gabriel, this is Brandon Hendrickson and Flex Lewis.  Doctor of what exactly?  You know I’ve never asked."


Gabriel smiled a bit in justified pride in his academic accomplishments.  "I'm an M.D. neurosurgeon and have a Ph.D in genetics.”


“Well, Holy Shit is about right to anyone who has done that as young as you are.  Nice to meet you, my man.”  Brandon said as he extended his hand to Gabriel.  Gabriel took the proffered hand and shook it tentatively but warmly.  Being more of a physique build and becoming more familiar with bodybuilding, he KNEW who Hendrickson was.


Cedric then smiled.  "Now. Listen. To. This,” he said to the others, quite deliberately.  “How long have you been working out?”


"Since July,” Gabriel said much more sheepishly now.


Hendrickson’s retort was fast.  "July what.  How many years have you been lifting since this past July?”


It began to register with Gabriel what the champion was thinking.  He replied, "No.  You don’t understand.  No years at all.  I’ve been working out a little over 3 months now with John and some of the men at Armbrust Gym in Denver."


Now, Lewis replied totally incredulously.  "No fucking way.  No way you look like this in 3 months.  Not in a million years.  The Englishman’s lying through his teeth to me.”


Gabriel stood a bit taller.  He NEVER expected this from these men.  His friends would have every reason to cheer him on but these two who had never seen him before?  No, it couldn’t be… 


"It's true.” John said from above, “He has been working with me and Adam Young since July.  Before that, he was a trained cross country runner, but just that.”


Cedric interjected again.  “Now.  This is the best part, and I promise it is not self-deprecating or just for show.  He truly believes it.  This magical little shit thinks he is nothing special.  That he has nothing to show off, and he will never be on stage.  He won’t listen to Goliath up there.  So maybe he will listen to you two.  I mean, I have an Arnold.  And not many people on earth can claim to know what it takes to BOTH the Arnold and the Olympia or to have 7 Olympia trophies in the trophy case.  Not bragging too much to say you can't get much better judges of what someone has in the body potential department than us three.


"You think he will listen to the three of us, big man?”  Cedric asked John while smiling at Gabriel the entire time, letting him know he was ignoring him deliberately.


"I don't know.  He can be pig-headed and stubborn as fuck.  You've never seen his stubborn streak before. "


Lewis laughed. "Of course he’s stubborn.  He's English." The small jab brought loads of laughter and a slap from Gabriel onto John's quads which echoed and bounced off harmlessly.  The three bodybuilders flinched at something so ordinary to John and Gabriel that they didn't even notice anymore.  Gabriel slapped John full force, and it didn't register at all.  John never moved - not even a single hair - in response.  At an unconscious level, they began to submit, as one did in the presence of a superior life form, though that was never John's intention.  


John continued, "BUT, you're right.  There is none better.  If he won't listen to you three, I'll give up because he won't listen to anyone."


McMillan turned to Gabriel.  “OK, Doc.  You willing to let maybe the best in the business running right now give you an honest judgement about your progress and prospects?”


“You mean right here, in the middle of this room, at the Mr Olympia?!?”


“You’re damned right."  Hendrickson replied.  


"You know there is a story.  And, John, is it?...” Lewis said in reply, to which John nodded, “Jesus you’re big.  I can think of a few social media stunts with you at my gym across town, which you are invited to, of course.  I’ll leave word with my staff, if you are willing.  Private session - just the three of us. Boot the rest of the lot out.”  Both John and Gabriel thanked him for the offer, and accepted before continuing, “As I was saying - this was published in a book years ago.  But, I asked Arnold himself about it, and he said it was true.


“Seems there was a professor from a big US university.  Researcher on small, dedicated sports cultures who wanted to do research on bodybuilding back in the late ‘70s.  So he went to Venice and visited Joe Weider himself.  Was talking to the man in the manager’s office at Gold’s.  The doc had never lifted a weight in his life, but he wanted to learn and live the lifestyle as well as do his research.  Anyway, while they were talking, Franco comes into the office and wants some feedback on his wheels.  


“Joe said sure.  And Franco drops trou right there in front of a perfect stranger and starts flexing.  Weider gets up and starts pointing and feeling and all manner of shite right there.  What did the doc do?  He spent 6 years in Venice and got up on stage as a proper bodybuilder.


“Point of the story is - nobody’s gonna think a thing about it.  It’s what we do or haven’t you noticed?”  Everyone laughed again as the point was made.  Every one of them except Gabriel had stood nearly stark naked on a stage in front of thousands of people.


“Besides, Angel, how often do you rip your shirt off to lift in Armbrust?  How many pro bodybuilders are there and your coach there is a pro bodybuilder.  This is no different.”  John added.  “I may be biased, but you have no reason to be ashamed of yourself at all.  OK?”


“Damned straight.” Cedric added.  “If you are gonna workout in front of Phil and that Armbrust crew shirtless, you can pull off that tank top right here.  And I promise, I will give you a fair and honest assessment.  I don’t tell people what they wanna hear.  That is disrespectful man.  And I have a fuck ton of respect for both of you.  You know that.  Deal?”


Gabriel thought and thought for a moment.  When the decision came, John felt it before anyone else knew it.  Before Gabriel even formed the words.  He was so close to his Angel, he could already tell just from the subtle shift in Gabriel’s aura.  Gabriel never backed down from a challenge.  Ever.  No matter the odds.  He just didn’t.  John should have known that the choice was never in question.  “Alright.  You four can be a fucking persuasive bunch.  I’ll do it as long as you don’t laugh…  And John, you sit that giant arse of yours down and don’t plant any ideas in their head.  All I want from you is silence.  Got it young man?”


John instantly went back into a spot that was wide enough for him to sit and plopped down.  His smile was broad and striking though.  But his instant obedience brought a chorus of laughs from the others, and it was John’s turn to turn red.  But, he understood more than the others did.  Gabriel let it be known he did not want John’s persuasive abilities to interfere.  He wanted it to be honest.  So John would let them be honest - though again he knew what was going to happen.


“Never laugh at you man.  You are in there and obviously working hard.  Nothing but respect for that.”  Cedric said.


Gabriel moved into a bit more open space and slipped off his kicks.  Suddenly, he looked up and a devious, mischievous smile came on his face.  John loved that smile… “In for a penny, in for a pound I suppose.” Gabriel said, and then pulled off John’s old tank and his shorts and dropped both on the floor.  There Gabriel stood in men’s bikini briefs, which brought out a small cheer of support for Gabriel's show of guts along with three hands patting him on the shoulders and back.  


“OK.  Let’s start off with quarter turns relaxed since that is the core of physique--” Hendrickson said, taking the lead as the physique expert.


“You may have to help me with those.” Gabriel said, his smile now with a bit of embarrassment.  “I am just starting to learn how to pose and am not exactly sure what I am doing.”


“Then you are in no better hands, Doc.  We can teach any pose there is between us.”  Flex Lewis said. 


For the next ten minutes, Gabriel was under the eyes of three of the best competitors in the business learning physique posing.  Gabriel did his very best, and just watching it, John’s cock felt a stir.  Gabriel braced, flexed, and turned.  His tight arms, pecs, and abs stood out extremely well.  Brandon raised an arm here.  Cedric kicked a foot placement there.  Flex adjusting where he looked, how his posture was in the stances.  And Gabriel was learning the movements fast.  Through it all, the four men kept talking, and a rapport was building, especially between the two UK countrymen.  But the champions could tell something was missing.  Gabriel was hitting the poses perfectly… but there was just something not quite right about it.  The “pop” wasn’t there.  Something in Gabriel’s stage presence, as he was posing, was just slightly off.


Brandon thought and thought and finally said, “Let me see some cocky, Doc.  You’re a fucking surgeon.  Never seen one who wasn’t cocky.  Show me your pride in your work…”


Gabriel tried harder, but what they were asking him to do just escaped him.  It was Flex Lewis, married to a former competitor and registered nurse himself, who hit on something.  “Wait.  I know.  Gabriel, are you proud of that giant ass over there and what he has done and all his work?”


“God, more than I can ever say.” Gabriel said, the change in him perceptible to everyone as he thought about John.


“Then show me that.  You are not believing in yourself enough quite yet.  And that is OK.  That will come.  But for now, show me how proud you are of him in your posing.  Let’s try it one more time.  Make me FEEL it man.  Make me FEEL what you feel for him.  I want to see that muscle titan over there coming out in you.”


What happened next imprinted onto the very soul of John Declan.  No matter how many memories he gained over his life… this one burned bright.  Even in the moment, it almost brought John to tears.  He watched in amazement as something transformed in Gabriel York.  His posing became literally… otherworldly.  He stood straighter, taller.  He hit the four quarter turns and then the pair of poses they had taught him.  His smile beamed.  He flexed so perfectly, that his flaws of musculature just melted away.  He seemed more vascular, more cut, bigger, better.  


McMillan, Lewis, and Hendrickson stopped assisting and stood back taking in what they were seeing in total silence.  They all felt it too.  McMillian recognized it.  That same feeling he had posing with John months earlier.  A power you just fed on.  Prometheus’ flame itself shining in the man.  It was as if evolution had taken hold of him and had advanced him 50,000 years in a few moments.  In just those few seconds, Gabriel appeared to the eye to put on 15 pounds of pure muscle in all the right places.  Perfectly round vascular, split peak biceps, mounded pecs, shredded, diced abs.  He even seemed to lose body fat as several large veins and a mountain of smaller ones popped out for the very first time.  They highlighted his body so perfectly.  


And then there were those legs - damn those legs rivaled John’s, McMillan thought.  Not in raw mass or leanness right now to be sure, but in shape, in proportion, in symmetry.  Gabriel’s wheels were all of a sudden near perfection.  Lewis collapsed into a chair, mesmerized. He managed to say just above a whisper.  “Keep going.  Don’t pay any attention to us.  Feel the moment and make us feel the moment.”


And... John felt it.  Through their connection and through Gabriel’s demeanor.  He felt it hit him like a tidal wave.  It was the giant inside.  What he knew was inside was finally plainly visible.  How he held his body.  How he showed it.  How it responded to his commands.  They were so much like himself and the other four that what small differences there were didn’t matter.  The littlest giant was out, and he was little no more.  


John’s love and pride for his Angel exploded within him.  And now there was something more.  He was not afraid to say it.  John was in awe.  Pure awe. Looking at Gabriel like this…


There were a great many muscular physiques of all kinds in the world.  Freaky, crazy, ripped, shredded, diced … all kinds of adjectives.  But there were VERY FEW that deserved to be called beautiful.  A body so insane that the only word that made sense to attach to it was beautiful.  And Gabriel… he was beautiful - exactly what you would expect of an angel.


Gabriel finished the last of his second round of posing and then relaxed.


“Well?” he asked Brandon a bit out of breath.


“One more Gabriel.  Don’t break the moment.  We have not gone over it, but do a double biceps.  Just what comes into mind.  What feels right.  But, make us feel it as much as you do.  Make John over there feel what you feel for him,”  was the quiet reply as Brandon sat alongside Flex.


Gabriel just winged it with what he had been taught before and what he felt.  He set his legs, tightened and flexed his core, and then reached up, again channelling his love and price in John.  But, as he began to pull the invisible ropes down that he had been told was a mental image of how to do a front double biceps, in the corner John quietly gasped.  As Gabriel hit the pose… it was exactly the way John would do it.  Hell, molecule for molecule, it was as if Gabriel were a smaller exact copy of himself… only with that angelic forest fire coming from him.


After Gabriel held the pose a few moments, Brandon couldn’t help it anymore.  He started to laugh… against what had been said about laughing at Gabriel, he started to laugh, and laugh, and laugh.  Gabriel started to pull back slightly, recoiling.  But Brandon immediately said, “No, no.  You don’t understand.  It’s just that you REALLY don’t know what you are, do you?  You’re really not just shitting me.  You really don’t know?”


“What” Gabriel said even more confused.


Lewis was the one who replied.  He reached into his pocket and pulled out his actual IFBB pro card.  “You want to just take this?  Because I can tell you - if you had been on a stage just now, the judges would be handing you one.  Gabriel, that was a thing of fucking beauty.  BEAUTY.  As beautiful a set of poses as I have ever seen.  EVER.  And I have seen them all.  You see that and you just want to watch forever and never want it to stop...”


Cedric broke in.  “Remember when John was posing that night and no one really wanted it to stop.  They even allowed him to go over time because no one wanted to stop watching.  Doc, you just recaptured that moment.  None of us wanted you to stop.  That's why we asked you to keep going.  Right gentlemen?”  The other two nodded in reply.


Now, Gabriel was near speechless and only managed a quiet, “But, I’m not-”


“You’re not what?  Spending 24/7 doing this?  Cedric is in the goddamned army.  He isn’t doing it every day as a job but he is doing it.  Franco Columbu was practicing medicine right through his career.  And the fact that you can do THIS while you are a fucking surgeon…”  Brandon chuckled one more time.


"Well dude I have to say, you're a wonder in the making.  And, you've barely hit newbie gains.  I know the giant here will win whatever he wants.  But it doesn't hurt my pride to say you could give me a run for my money on this very goddamned stage before long.  You were born to it as much as the Titan there. And, what did he call you Angel?  That from the charm around your neck?  Well keep the fucking nickname because you are gonna be fucking beautful like an Angel.  Carved by Michelangelo himself.  Damn.”  He looked at both the other pros.  “Two beyond human men together. Don’t see that every day."


“You really think I'm that good?”


"Gabriel.  I don't shit people.  You could win your pro card right now.  I mean right fucking now.  All you need is a few weeks of cutting and a good tan.  You're clean as fuck right now with what you just showed me.  In fact, I want you to agree to do an experiment for me?”


“What?” Gabriel asked…




Flex Lewis came up to John still sitting on the floor as the others were talking to Gabriel, explaining their challenge.  "So… you don’t have to tell me because it is written all over your face.  You are totally smitten, huh?” 


John looked up.  He must have re-lived what he had just seen twenty times over in the construct of his accelerated mind.  He registered Flex talking to him.  John managed a quiet, overawed, “That obvious?”


“It is when you recognize the look.  It is the same one I had when I saw Ali on stage.  Still get it when I see her too.”  Flex chucked.  “So, what are you two doing tonight?  I don't get to spend a lot of time with people from back home.   And I think Ali and the munchkin would die to see you, John."


John answered, "Well, the boss was planning on taking me gambling tonight.  Being a cop, I never thought it was a good idea, but now that that's done...  Must admit I'm curious to see how well I do."


"Well, if it is OK with Ali, I'd be honored to have you both out to dinner with us while we are here.  We always stay at the Elara when we are in town.  Dinner for you both is on me."


John reached into his pocket for his cell.  "We were just going to the Amateur and the first day of the expo tomorrow.  I didn't want to go to the ‘Meet the Athletes’ and maybe cause a scene and get mobbed by the social media crowd.”


"Oh come on.  As famous as you are?  You should go.  You being there will make half the guys fall in love with you since they hate personal appearances and they won't have to interact with as many people.  The other half will shit a brick when they see the Titan is for real.  Be happy to help you out with the fans too.  There is a kind of art to it, and you might find that you like it.”


"Gabriel, too, truth be told.  If he doesn't come away under contract to a supp company, I’ll be amazed. Brandon is right about what'll happen.  And at the Expo if you go and Gabriel shows off like that..."


John loved the chance to show off, but...  "Let me think about Meet the Athletes.  Tell you what though - text in the morning about what your wife thinks about dinner.  I’ll ask Gabriel.”  John spoke a bit more loudly to signal that Gabriel, Brandon, and Cedric were approaching from behind.   “We didn't have anything planned reservation-wise tomorrow did we Angel?"


"Nothing at all.  It would be nice if you could recommend a proper pudd, James.  It's been forever."


Lewis laughed.  "Gordon Ramsey has to get a treacle tart somewhere in this town. You two are not on prep diet right?"


"What's a treacle tart?" John asked.


Gabriel smiled, "Oh you poor, poor man.  I've been negligent.  I have never exposed you to a proper pudding.  Treacle tart, queen of puddings, princess cake.  I might get an ounce of fat on you yet."


Lewis cracked up.  "You mean…"


"This is as fat as the lucky bastard ever gets." Gabriel said, hugging around John’s upper shoulder since he could reach it with John sitting on the floor.


"You've got to tell me your secret for next year for staying that lean.  Alright.  Assuming it's good with the missus, dinner at nine?"


"What's your cell?"  John asked.  They exchanged texts, and then kept talking and talking and talking.  Before they knew it, 45 minutes had passed and a new friendship was formed…



Thirty minutes after they realized the time, the couple was walking back toward the Strip.  They had been talking about so much.  John had told Gabriel what it was like to see him posing.  How right the others had been.  How magical it was.  Gabriel told John what Brandon had asked him to do, which John was not only fully supportive of, but agreed to do whatever it took to help.  It was in talking about the Expo and what they should expect with a mob of fans surrounding John that Gabriel said, "You know I'm just going to have to adjust to how people are so attracted to you guys.  Skye wrote me once and told me what happens when you are in public with littles, but I guess it's easy to forget since you don't go out among us a lot.  The way James was so pulled toward you, and he has no reason to feel like that with anyone."


John flashed his half-cocky ironic smile, "You know James isn't being pulled by me.  I'm not doing that to him.  The person he wants to get to know is you."




"He spent almost all the time talking to you or about you, or didn't you notice?"


Gabriel thought, and it hit him.  He had not even realized in the moment.  But it was true.  Once the group had come back up to the pair of them, Flex and Gabriel had been talking like lifelong friends catching up within moments.  "Oh God John, I'm sorry if I made you feel left--"


John burst out laughing.  "No, Angel - it's not that at all.  It’s the opposite really.  It's the first time since we met after I started becoming this that it felt like I didn't make you left out.  You were submerged in what you call “my world” - bodybuilding.  That place where - if you'll forgive the bad pun - I'm head and shoulders above everyone.  They're always noticing me, talking to me.  Outside of our closest gym friends, 99% flock to me.  I'm always worried about leaving you out.


"And there you were tonight.  Thriving.  Seeing you pose… fuck it was like seeing the Angel inside you come alive.  I could see you... the man you're becoming on the surface for the first time.  I saw the littlest giant - our littlest brother like Will and Skye call you - on your face and on your body.  I got to watch the man of my dreams finally, truly, completely come alive.  My mouth wouldn't have worked much anyway - I was in awe of you too much.”


Gabriel slowed a bit and replied, "No, John.  It wasn’t really me… Well, at least at first.  I was just thinking of you is all.  Who you are, how you make me feel when I touch you, how you pose.  The way you walk, talk, your deportment, before we even noticed your change… John, what you said about me.  You're the best man I've ever known.  Then and now.  I was just thinking - how would John do it? And then it came naturally.  You touched that real me and brought him out of me.  It felt like both of us.  I guess it was like you tried to explain before what it felt like to pose for me."


At that John swept Gabriel off his feet and lifted him to his face, just as they were at the top of the bridge at Tropicana Avenue over the I-15 going back to Las Vegas Blvd.  Traffic slowed and came to a near halt seeing the sight.  Seeing John effortlessly lift a not so small a man anymore… but he didn't care.


"It only comes naturally because of you.  Now, me.  I used to pretend.  But, I don't need to pretend to be who I am anymore and that is because of you.  I love you, Angel."


"I love you John."  Gabriel hugged and kissed John as John walked them the rest of the way across the bridge. The sight elicited more than a few wolf whistles and catcalls and a scream or two.  "OK, you giant jock.  You better put me down, or you’re gonna get someone calling 911 to report a child abduction."  John beamed as he guffawed loudly and put Gabriel down to again walk hand in hand toward the traffic light ahead of them.


“Where’s dinner?” John asked, as they turned north at the New York New York and the MGM Grand.  “I’m starving.”


“If you’re not thinking of me, you’re thinking of your stomach.”  Gabriel quipped.


John smiled widely and patted his abs.  “Like I’ve said a million times.  I’m a growing boy.  I need calories.”


“Well, don’t worry.  I was thinking of your stomach for tonight.  And your crazed American taste buds too.  Tonight we are taking those muscles and that stomach to Heart Attack Grill on Fremont Street.  I think I will stick to a small chips and diet soda and have something more on diet when we are at the casino.  


Gabriel continued.  “You, however.  They have an almost 10,000 calorie burger.  Drop dead fat-rich milk shakes.  Calories enough to even do you in and fill that black hole behind that eight pack.  Maybe you can break their eating records in the process.  And the sad thing is you’ll probably put five pounds of muscle on that frame of yours and not a molecule of fat.  Probably make your abs even tighter, and, with all the salt you will be vascular like crazy for tonight. ”


“Awww… you really do love me.”  John feigned as his stomach growled.  “Enduring my American tastes.  You know I love a good burger and shake and a few of those might actually satisfy my appetite.  I might even go for the record if you’re buying…”


“If nothing else we will see if your growth moves into warp speed with lots of calories.”  Gabriel said.


“Tell the truth, Squirt.  You just want more muscle to play with and to play with you….”


“Well…” Gabriel said, smiling slyly, “I do have to get you in shape if we are going to take that beach honeymoon in Fiji.  Only 3 months…”


“You mean, you are going to accept it finally?” John said, genuinely surprised.  Gabriel had been talking about it since they were told about it, but he had never contacted Robert to formally accept.


“Already did.  You know I love beaches and after all you have said to do it, I said yes.  The island is ours with one week’s notice to Robert for the plane.”  Gabriel hugged the moving quad of his man at chest height to him.  “And thank you.  You know it is for sale like Robert said…”


“Whoa - slow down there Tiger.  We have not even seen it, and you said you don’t like having your money or that trust--”


"Speaking of money, John, is it true what you were telling James that you've never gambled before?”


"Outside of the lotto, no never."


"Oh my… I just hope they let us keep our hotel room."  Gabriel said and burst into laughter.  


John let out his own devious, sexy as all fuck smile.  “Why, Gabriel York, whatever do you mean?”  Gabriel had to hold onto John to keep from falling into the street laughing as they passed the Bellagio fountains on their way to Fremont Street.  This was going to be wild...



(To be continued in 10.3b - John and Gabriel spend a night on the town and high stakes gambling is never quite the same again...)

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  • GymPredator changed the title to To Protect and Serve - Chapters 10.3a (Posted 14 Sept 2021)

I'm absolutely loving this latest installment! The descriptions are so vivid, so real, that I can almost see Gabriel's posing routine in my minds eye as if it were something I watched myself.

Also reading the description's of John's depth of feelings for Gabriel as well as he watched him left me reeling too!

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This is one of the many best chapters yet.  Very descriptive and you can really feel the validation of something Gabriel refused to believe.  Gabriel is now emotionally filling his own big shoes so to speak.  

It woukd have been nice to see a little more reaction from the audience.  Some mild cheers or the occasional good natured cat call.  Lol

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7 minutes ago, ploder4 said:

 It woukd have been nice to see a little more reaction from the audience.  Some mild cheers or the occasional good natured cat call.  Lol

You have to remember that, in this case, there are only 5 people in the room.  The three pro bodybuilders, John, and Gabriel.  This is in the press conference room almost an hour after its conclusion. So it is naturally empty and there is not an audience at this point beyond John and the three.  This was in private, so to speak.  But it was something even John has never done - posing one on one in front of 3 men who have 11 world titles between them.  Even John has never put himself under that kind of scrutiny by this level of competitor/judge and those three said that in most ways John and Gabriel are on equal footing.  Each could win his respective class pro-card when he wants.  

But remember... there is an outstanding bet/challenge to Gabriel from the bodybuilders.  Just wait until you see what it is Gabriel has agreed to do.

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Re-read the thing today. It's GORGEOUS! Here's, why:

1) It's so cool, how you involved the real-life bodybuilders Brandon and Flex Lewis. Plus: when they talk, it just fits. It doesn't seem unnatural or weird. 
2) Gabriel's little posing routine made me go "Wooow..." 
3) Something I also ADORE is, how you "color" the scenes depending on whose shoes we're in. For example: You can feel the love and awe pouring out of John.

I'm excited to see the continuation.

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  • GymPredator changed the title to To Protect and Serve - Chapter 10.3e (Posted 22 Oct 2021)

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