Payton and Lancelot

This story would not have been possible without it's coauthor:

Venusderubens

She is responsible for more than half of this story and entirely responsible for the characterization of Payton Chris.

If you enjoy this series then you would be doing yourself a disservice by ignoring her work.

payton and lancelot - Cover Page.png

Prologue - The Simple Life Ain't So Simple

“Running with the Devil” – Van Halen

 

    “That’ll be $9.62.”

    Bedecked in a pair of black cargo pants and a green apron that covered the front of her shirt, Payton Chris stood behind the register of her coffee shop, ringing up a local college student’s order - triple espresso caramel frappuccino, extra whipped cream, and a cheesecake brownie - and thought, really, there were far worse jobs. She had her share of assholes, and yeah, the hours could sometimes be a real drag. But the billionaire in charge of the company had decided and/or been shamed into giving a living wage for all their employees, even in cities that didn’t require it. So she got plenty of free pastries, and every now and then she got to enjoy some of the local eye candy. In this particular case, it was said student’s backside, with what Payton knew to be at least a week’s worth of study fuel swaying nicely. Ah, the freshman 15. What a truly generous gift, she mused to herself. 

    “Trip espresso caramel frap, extra whip, and a cheesecake brownie!” She called out to her coworker, a slender girl who seemed just barely out of high school. Payton couldn’t remember the girl’s name even if her life depended on it. Ashley, she thought it was, but spelled weird. Whatever her name was, she hadn’t partaken in the slight thickening that came with hitting the books - or beer funnels, whichever the case may be - but eh, can’t win ‘em all. Payton herself wasn’t really one to talk, being all of five feet flat, and that was with her standing as straight as possible. If she had maybe half a foot more height, she could be called wiry but lacked the length in her limbs for that. Compact, with fairly toned muscles that she preferred to show off in a tank top when not constrained by her work dress code, and proud owner of hair that was styled to radiate out from her head like sunbeams, she’d take offense to being a lesbian stereotype… if she didn’t fit it perfectly, right down to the Big Gay Ice Cream shirt she had on under her apron. 

     Seeing no one in line after the bottom-heavy beauty - who, she had a feeling, might make a second trip for a refill and another brownie once she got deeper into her studies - Payton stretched her hands over her head, rising on her toes enough that a few pops came from her back. “Mmm. Definitely need to get in a good run after work,” she hummed to herself. “Way too stiff from standing around all week.” She turned toward her coworker, trying again to recall her name but deciding not to risk a wrong one. “I think that’s the last of the morning push. Do you-” The ring of a bell at the door cut her off mid-thought, prompting her to turn back to register. Ah, well. I’ll take one more, she thought with a shrug. Not like she was all that hungry for lunch anyway.

Not paying much attention until the customer drew closer, she brushed a stray bit of hair off her ear and put on her best work smile. “Hello, welcome to-”


  “All your cash!”

 

   Payton finally considered the man in front of her… and found herself more confused than concerned. Wearing all black, with the exception of a truly garish purple coat - complete with tails like he had come from a particularly colorful recital - the man stared at her with wide eyes. Probably his most notable feature, with the coat again providing the exception, was a mustache that looked… well, a few years ago she would have guessed fake, but with the hair grooming efforts hipsters were taking these days… 

She blinked a few times, her thoughts finally catching up to his insistent request. “I’m sorry?”

“I said,” the mustachioed miscreant repeated, loud enough to start garnering attention from other customers in the coffee shop, “give me all your cash!”

     “Uh, you just said ‘all your cash’ before-”

     “I’m WARNING you!” He huffed, getting more shrill with each syllable. He brandished what looked like a spray bottle with very oddly textured orange juice sloshing around inside of it. Payton’s eyes glanced down at the bottle, her hands staying near the counter. She didn’t feel all that threatened, but Valiant City had a bit of a reputation for weird, and she knew it was better to be safe than sorry. “Give me all your cash in the register, or I’ll squirt you.”

     It took every bit of restraint the short and snarky woman had not to blurt out, “The pet store is two blocks away,” or “CATS! isn’t opening for another few months!” Instead, she just stared at the bottle, her disbelief rising. “Sir, I think you need to leave.”

Eyes widening further, the man shook the not-so-threatening bottle again, though he did move it closer to Payton this time, prompting her to inch back a little from the register. “You dare disrespect the Phantom of the Vaudeville?!?” 

     “Pfffffff…”

     Payton’s head snapped to the side so fast that she felt her hair bob a little from its otherwise well-styled hold. Ashley - or Ashleigh/Ashlea/Asheleigh/however she spelled it - was covering her mouth but clearly cracking up from her place a few feet over.

 

     “Seriously, dude?!” Payton hissed at her coworker, who was trying to wave off the situation. And clearly failing.

     “The Phantom of the Vaudeville!” She crowed, another round of giggles escaping. “Oh my god,” she gasped, having to brace herself on the counter with one hand - and missing the admittedly ridiculous villain draw himself up a bit taller.

     “We’ll see who has the last laugh!” He exclaimed, sounding uncannily like some old-timey news announcer that Payton remembered from high school history. Or maybe it was the recap guy from Korra. Same effect really- “... when you can’t fit into anything!”

“What?” Payton blurted out as the villain started frantically spraying Ashesomeone with the bright orange contents of his bottle. That did make her fellow barista come out of her laughing fit for a moment, the liquid dousing her enough that she swatted at the source and backed away from it.

     “Hey! What the hell…” The last of her giggling stopped as she caught sight of her arm, one of the first spots hit with orange… stuff, Payton decided to call it. It had the look of a goo, but watered down enough to work with the spray bottle - a fact which left her brain almost instantly when she, too, saw what was happening. Namely, that the slim arm was starting to look decidedly not slim. In fact, as Ashley’s face quickly turned from shock to horror, it was clear that it was getting downright plump. The stirring of Ashley’s figure brought Payton’s eyes lower. Her jaw dropped when she saw a bulge push out against her coworker’s tight apron. She fancied a few extra curves on someone, for sure, but this seemed a bit extreme given how fast it was all developing. 

     “THAT!” Her head came back around to the self-proclaimed specter, looking particularly smug. “That is what awaits anyone who dares disrespect the PHANTOM! OF THE VAUDEVILLE!” He followed up with a cackle that Payton thought would be cliche, were he not actually pulling off this villain gig, somehow. She spared a quick glance to Ash (that’s what I’m calling her from now on, she resolved) to see that the blonde girl had chub spilling out from under her shirt and getting pinched by the now very-tight ties of her apron. She didn’t let herself linger for too long, for fear of falling victim herself. “NOW! I want every single dollar you have in cash!” 

     “Yep, coming right up,” Payton concurred without further argument - especially when she saw the edge of a bright red button just under the countertop and right beneath the register. “Just going to step up and get it for you, yeah?” She said, eyes looking down at the bottle. Though she had her mind on the button, she didn’t need to force any sort of discomfort or worry into her expression. 

     She waited for his assent - a ridiculous and theatrical gesture that almost made her roll her eyes before she caught herself - and then stepped up to the register. There was a bit of a tremble in her fingers, but she did her best to enter her log-in information without letting on that her other hand was on the edge of the counter. When the register’s cash drawer opened, her fingers clutched at the edge and pressed the button. She exhaled when she didn’t hear any obvious noise. Of course, she then realized that no hero could get here that fast… or so she thought. Frankly, she wasn’t all that familiar with them and really she didn’t care who it was if they got here soon. 

“This is all we have in the register,” she said, still working to stay as calm as possible with slow breaths. “We-” Payton hitched, like she had let something slip.

     “I said ALL your cash!” The Phantom insisted, shaking the bottle at her once more. Payton’s hands flew up defensively.

     “I-I just have to go to the safe in the back!” She fibbed, hoping that Ash would keep her (increasingly fat- the thought crossed her mind before she winced at how sharp it felt) mouth shut this time. Thankfully, the bloating blonde seemed preoccupied with how her blouse buttons had been popping off under her apron, not to mention the extra thickness of her legs peeking out from her skirt. “It’s just through that door. I’ll even leave it open,” she rushed out. Please be as dumb as you look, please be as dumb as you look."

     The Phantom nodded, even that seeming grandiose as he brought his free hand up in a flourish. “Be quick, girl!” Ignoring the flare of heat and anger that rushed up to her face, Payton quickly turned for the back room. She propped open the door - just enough that he could see in but not what she was doing in a room that definitely did not have a safe. 

     “C’mon, c’mon,” she muttered softly after about a minute’s worth of fiddling - two in total from when she had pressed the button. “You’d think a superhero alarm would have a faster response time.”


  “I said be quick! Or I shall give your friend another taste of the Phantom’s Wrath!” Payton rolled her eyes, even as she wiped a bit of sweat off her brow. The muffled sounds of protest coming from the register suggested that, at the very least, Ash thought it was a credible threat. “I’m losing my patience!”


  “I-I’m working on it!” Payton called back, looking over her backroom options and finding none of them helpful for warding off a d-list villain with thrift store level outfits. Nothing she could sneak out, nothing that could cross the gap… the only thing she could use was a broom. Her softball days weren’t exactly recent, but stalling any longer would get either her, Ash, or both of them sprayed - and who knew how fat they could get. Payton tried to steady her breathing before she turned, walking back slowly out of the backroom and towards the cash register. “Um… there’s… well, there’s a bit of a problem…”


  “WHAT IS IT?” The Phantom bellowed, loud enough that Payton’s ears rang for a split second. 

     “Um… well, about the safe… I can’t open it, uh, because,” she stammered, brain trying to head in five different directions and going in none of them. “B-because…”

     “Because you were just leaving.” A long, thick, blue-black tendril shot out from the entrance to the coffee shop and wrapped itself around the Phantom’s wrist. Fountainhead’s lips betrayed a smile not obvious in the husky stoicism of her voice. “Cute outfit,” she observed coldly.  

     She was nearly as wide as she was tall, but all of that extra flesh was wrapped in a layer of ink that lent her flabby form a preternatural perkiness. She moved between tables and frightened patrons with more grace than one might expect from someone who had achieved such titanic proportions mere months ago. “You’re under arrest for attempted robbery, assault, and crimes against facial hair.”

     Payton took the opportunity to duck behind the counter, crawling over to where Ash was… well, for lack of a better term, beached. It wasn’t that she was all that big - but there was so much more of her compared to the slim blonde who’d been making mochas with her not ten minutes ago. She gave a soft whimper as Payton got closer, propped up against the back of the counter, an angle that did Ash few favors. The weight she’d gained had settled predominantly in her belly, though no part of her was thin any more. Her dark slacks had burst open around her thighs, and a globular belly sat atop them in a way that left if her underwear had survived an unsettled question. Ash’s sides were pinched in by the apron in a way that left the blonde flushed and gasping. “T-too tight!” She squeaked out, barely able to speak louder than a whisper.


  “Let me help,” Payton offered, trying her best to keep her head down - literally and otherwise - even as she tried to pick at the tight strings of Ash’s apron.

     “Petty crimes are merely the first stop to center stage for the PHANTOM! OF THE VAUDEVILLE!” The villain crowed, trying to pull away his wrist from the inky grasp of Fountainhead - all while bringing the spray bottle up to face her. “Let us see how quick you are when you’re even more of a blimp than you are now!”

The ink which made up Fountainhead’s costume flowed up and over her face as the fine, orange mist squirted out of the bottle. The droplets hung in the air briefly before settling harmlessly to the floor. She cocked her head as the eyeless mask face took in what was going on. 

     “Is that calorie serum?” She asked as her protective ink retreated. “Where did you even find - never mind. Hold tight for a second.” With a flick of her wrist, the tendril that hand been wrapped around The Phantom’s wrist snapped like a whip and forced the man into an arm-lock. He yelped in pain and surprise, but Fountainhead ignored him, turning to the side and placing one hand to her ear.

 

   “Hey Lance, it’s Fountainhead… Yeah, good to hear from you too. Look, There’s some clown down here on fourth with a squirt bottle of that calorie stuff… Yeah, A squirt bottle… I don’t know where he got it.”

     “Are you taking a CALL?!?” The Phantom proclaimed, still sounding to Payton like someone trying very hard to overact their way into a Shakespeare play. Or maybe a Kenneth Branagh movie. Struggling though he was, the mustachioed man still had his ego - and lungs - at his disposal. And, for that matter, the spray bottle, with which he now tried to frantically douse Fountainhead in multiple spurts. “How DARE you ignore the next super villain of Valiant City!” 

     “Lance, give me a second.” Fountainhead took her hand away from her ear as something resembling a sledge hammer formed around her hand. She reeled back away from the spray and delivered a decisive uppercut into the phantom’s gut. He had been in the middle of monologing and his voice cut out with a sharp wheeze as her fist made contact. The Phantom was sent tumbling over the counter. His moustache, fake after all, fluttered gently to the ground at her feet. “I’m back…” She said finger back against her ear. “Yeah. I think I’ve got it handled here.”

     A napkin holder, a sizable number of straws, and a cheerful “Bogo Brownies!” sign that Ash had doodled earlier in the week all crashed to the ground, startling Payton away from her successful snip of Ash’s apron. The blonde barista’s sigh of relief quickly turned into a shriek as the Phantom came following his heralds, landing heavily on the floor right in front of Payton. It actually took her a second to realize that he’d lost his mustache, but any amusement that might have been gained by that fact was lost when his furious - and perhaps a tad deranged - look fell on her. 

     “YOU! This is all YOUR fault! You’ve RUINED my opening night!”

 

     “I-I didn’t-!” Payton protested, not able to back away and boxed by Ash on her right side and the cabinets to her left. “I can make it-”

 

     “NO!” The Phantom shouted, one hand pointing at her in the manner one would when calling down a curse for heinous wrongs done against their family. “You want to be a hero? Then face the wrath of the PHANTOM! OF THE VAUDEVILLE!”

     Just before Payton could suggest that, maybe, he should stop chewing the scenery - really, that thought would have never gotten out of her brain, but it was nice to think she was capable of banter - his other hand, bruised from his grapple with Fountainhead, brought up the spray bottle. Her eyes slammed shut, trying to twist herself out of the line of fire as a sharp “NO!” escaped her lips - and then, she was doused by the slimy orange contents of the bottle. 

     She had expected… well, she had expected to feel something - warmth, itchiness, bloating, those were all the things she’d read in stories whenever something like this happened. Instead, her first recognition that something was happening was the pinch of her apron, just like Ash. Hands shaking, she quickly managed to snip the tie on one side - and just in time, her previously modest breasts blew up in front of her eyes, making the apron go from comfortable to tight in seconds. Her jaw dropped as she watched her toned figure first be covered in a layer of softness, then develop curves that she’d never seen in her most outlandish dreams - at least of herself - and finally billow out against her clothes. Payton’s breath grew fast and shallow as the sides of her shirt split, and then the seat of her cargos followed after. The cold tile against her skin became apparent when more of her began to spread across it and all she could do was watch.

payton and lancelot - Bursting the Seams

     When it seemed that everything had stopped, Payton was tugging on her apron to try and cover as much of her overstuffed figure as possible, with areolas peeking out on either side of the course, green fabric and its hem just barely covering the top of her now-thick thighs. And all while leering down at her was the Phantom, looking as smug as he had when he demanded she empty out the register. 

“Have you learned your lesson, girl? Or should I give you a second help-”

     A wet thwack came across the Phantom’s face and chest, knocking him against the back cabinets. This time, the purple-coated reprobate just groaned and failed to get up. Payton looked up as the flowing dark ink she’d seen briefly come over the counter and she heard a sigh from Fountainhead on the other end. “Yeah, Lance? We’re gonna need to contact BSD for a clean-up crew… yeah, that kind.”

Payton, meanwhile, poked one of her swollen tits with a sense of shock settling over her. “How? How…?” She stammered, the realization that this was, truly, all her, starting to sink in. 

     Fountainhead rubbed at the back of her neck, her expression somewhere between annoyance and general discomfort. “That’s um… tough luck, kid.” She reached for her hip where a pocket might be and her suit opened up to reveal a pair of business cards which she handed to the two bloated women. “Believe it or not, you’re not the first person this has happened to. Hope this helps.”

     She gulped and took the card, staring at it with eyes wide as saucers. She looked over at Ash, seeing a mix of pity and understanding in the blonde’s eyes, then back up at Fountainhead, and the… gravity of it all hit her.

“Well, shit."

payton and lancelot - Washout.png

Chapter 1 - How We Lose Control

“Ran” – Future Islands

 

    Gwen groaned as long rays of hot summer sunlight filtered through her curtains and bathed her expansive form in it’s uncomfortably warm glow. She kicked off her sheet, leaving her in only a white cotton shirt and a pair of bright blue panties, both of which clung to her dewy skin. She grabbed at her pillow and shoved it over her face to scrape a few more precious minutes of sleep out of the morning, but it was no use. Even with the cooler blowing full-blast it was difficult for her to be comfortable during the warm summer nights. Now that the sun was up, it was basically a lost cause.

 

    She sighed and forced herself to sit up. Even after all this time, the way her body swayed and shook as she shifted position caught her by surprise. A year ago, she’d have been able to see her toes, but now, at nearly seven hundred pounds, Gwen couldn’t even reach the end of her belly. A couple of different villains had seen to that, and though Gwen’s alter-ego, Lancelot, had ultimately won in the end, her figure would likely never recover. 

 

    She stood with more dexterity than one might expect from a woman of her size and stretched her arms behind her head, feeling the joints in her shoulders and back pop in the process, before rubbing the sleep from her eyes and making her way out of her bedroom and into the apartment she shared with her fellow hero and friend, the Atomic Automaton. The bright red robot stood in the kitchen over a sizzling skillet which had been laid out with eggs, bacon and a half dozen flapjacks.

 

    “Good afternoon,” he buzzed as he expertly flipped one of the pancakes. His glowing green eyes focused on her with an audible whir, and his other hand stretched to the other end of the kitchen to grab a pepper grinder.

 

    “Afternoon?” Lance asked, glancing over at the clock on the stove to see that it was almost two o’clock. She yelped and instinctively ran toward the door at superhuman speeds. “I’m going to be late for work!” She cried. 

 

    “It’s Saturday, Gwen,” the robot reminded her. If she didn’t know better, she would have sworn she could hear disapproval in his voice. “And you didn’t get home until four AM this morning. I thought you could use the rest.”

 

    “Right…” Gwen’s hand slipped off the door knob, and she slumped into the couch. “Still seems irresponsible. I could have gotten an early start on patrolling.”

 

    “Right,” the robot said quietly bringing over a plate piled high with breakfast foods and setting it atop Gwen’s substantial belly. “Gwen, when was the last time you left the house for something besides work?”

 

     She thought about it as she dug into the pancakes, ignoring the pointed nature of his questioning. “I took a run to the UK last week.”

 

    “To stop a hijacking.”

 

    “Yeah, well I didn’t know there was going to be a hijacking when I arrived. God, Auto, these pancakes are really good. How’d you learn to cook like this when you don’t even eat?” The robot stared at her. Somehow, his expressionless titanium face managed to be accusatory. “Fine,” Gwen relented, taking the empty plate off of her belly and setting it on the arm-rest of the couch. “I’ll try to get out more. But it’s a little hard while working a full-time job and leading a superhero team.” She was met with another blank expression. 

 

    She’d lost the argument. All Auto had to do was bring up Knight-Fox, but he was more tactful than that, and she wasn’t so stubborn as to use that against him.

 

    “You’re right,” she sighed “But I’m not ready to go back on the dating scene and I’m not really sure how to make friends anyway. People tend to ignore you when you’re the elephant in the room.”

 

    “I’ve been thinking a bit about that,” he said and stretched out one arm to pluck a tiny white business card off of the kitchen table. She took it from him and raised it to her face, reading the all too familiar text.

 

    “You’re kidding,” she said flatly. 

payton and lancelot - Breakfast Interven

Chapter 2 - Humor Me and Tell Me Lies

“Run-Around” – Blues Traveler

 

    Valliant city was known for its skyscrapers. The massive structures of metal and glass that curled upward toward the sun in shapes and styles that would have been impossible in a pre-super society. That didn’t mean every building was a multi-story behemoth. Sprinkled in between the glass giants were smaller businesses, restaurants, and shops, which rarely exceeded three or four stories. Gwen glanced between the address on the business card and the sign on the front of the building. If this was a joke, Gwen didn’t find it particularly funny.

 

    She pushed open the door to the Korean Barbeque and approached the hostess. She was a slim, professional woman with straight, dark hair tied back from her face with the exception of a few stray strands, which she repeatedly blew aside as she furiously typed at a ten-key and scribbled on receipt paper.

 

    “Welcome to Usneun Dai Gee, will you be dining in or taking out?” She barely glanced up from her work, but she spoke with the practiced cheeriness of someone who’d worked a long time in customer service.

 

    “Um… yeah. I think I might be in the wrong place. I’m looking for ‘Overstuffed Anonymous.’”

 

    The woman glanced up at Gwen, eyes widening briefly as she took in the sheer size of woman she was talking to. “Oh! Uh... yeah. It’s on the second floor.” She pointed with her pencil to a glass panel door, which led to a dimly lit building lobby with elevators and a directory mounted on the wall. “That’s the group for--” she puffed out her cheeks and pantomimed her belly inflated with both hands.

 

    Gwen scowled. “Yup, that’s the one.” 

 

    “You wouldn’t mind taking some of these up with you?” The hostess asked, reaching into her apron. 

 

    Five minutes later and with a pocket full of coupons, Gwen stepped out of the elevator and into her first session of Overstuffed Anonymous.

 

+++

 

     So, really, this wasn’t so bad.

 

    That was what Payton had thought during her first week at her new job a few months prior. She was in a new city, getting started with a new job, and maybe she’d get into a runner’s group or something soon. She’d adjust, and really, things would be fine. In some ways, that hasn’t changed in the last two months: her job was still, on the whole, pretty good for someone who hadn’t really done the whole college thing yet, and Valiant City was… fine. Pretty great, really, minus just one or two things. But it was those things that made everything else vastly different than how she had arrived.

 

    For starters, she hadn’t really joined any kind of group or gym because in her first week, some weirdo with a fake mustache and a spray bottle had almost doubled her weight in a minute. If she weren’t all five-foot-nothing, 180 pounds might be alright, fine even - a glance around the room certainly made it clear that most people weren’t so lucky when coming into contact with that orange stuff. She’d done a couple runs, but she’d let work and the overwhelming feeling of being tired all the damn time coax her into a more sedentary lifestyle. She hadn’t fully noticed until some of the workout clothes she’d gotten after the Phantom experience started to pinch a little, and when she found out she’d actually gained another 9 pounds, she decided enough was enough. She was going to get herself back on track, and that meant dealing with the elephant in the mirror. 

     Which is how, wearing a tank top that was suited for someone with not quite as many curves and a pair of loose-ish jeans, she found herself seated a bit separate from the main clump of people at a meeting of Overstuffed Anonymous, for those who had fallen prey to the calorie serum in some way or fashion. This was her third meeting, and she’d yet to share. She felt like a bit of a whiner because she was, by far, the lightest in the room. Even if Ash had shown up -- who, after getting past some of the very… blonde… aspects of her personality, wasn’t that bad to hang out with - she’d have been outclassed by a good 70 pounds. 

     Whatever. Maybe someone else in her weight range would come along, and they could swap ideas on how to get back out of the plus sizes…

     Gwen looked around the room. It was sparsely furnished aside from a table with coffee and donuts against one wall and rows of extra large folding chairs. A quick glance over the people sitting in them confirmed to Gwen what she’d been suspecting: She was by far the largest of the group. The vast majority of the others were somewhere between two and three hundred pounds. 

     The chairs were large and widely spaced, but Lance was well aware of her volume requirements, and the only place with enough open chairs for her to maintain her personal space was well toward the front of the room, and she wasn’t thrilled by the idea of becoming the center of attention. Finally, she spotted a two seats beside a woman who was conspicuously smaller than the rest of the group. She swallowed her anxiety, took a deep breath, and made her way over.


   “Mind if I sit next to you?” She asked the shorter woman, even as she pushed the two free chairs together to improvise a bench. 

Payton looked up with a bit of surprise, having zoned out thoroughly on a poster on the opposite wall. When she looked up, she had to blink for a moment to take in the entirety of the woman before her - and that was because she was, to borrow from a song, a whole lotta woman. Blonde, much taller than Payton, and frankly beautiful,she had to be the largest woman Payton had ever seen. Well, outside some very specific internet searches. With a figure dominated by her belly and hips, but lacking really nowhere, it took the barista a moment of pause to get her breath and respond. 

     “Um, go-go ahead,” she replied with a gesture to the chairs. 

 

     Gwen smiled back at her as best she could, trying to ignore the way the other woman was staring at her belly. It was telling that even in a support group for supersized ladies, she couldn’t escape the stares. She sat down on the makeshift bench with a huff, but even with her careful planning, one blubbery thigh bounced against the smaller woman’s pudgy side and nearly knocked her out of her chair. 

payton and lancelot - meat cute.png

    “Oh my god!” She yelped, blood rushing to her cheeks. The meeting hadn’t started, and she’d already humiliated herself. “I”m sorry. I should probably just--”   

    “Thank you all for coming!” A woman’s voice emanated from the front of the room, interrupting Gwen before she could finalize her intent to escape. The woman, who wore a white blouse and a navy blue blazer, approached the front of the room. She was tallish with excellent posture and the kind of room-controlling voice that left little doubt that she was the therapist who would be leading the meeting. The only thing about her that surprised Gwen was her conspicuous lack of blubber. Aside from the general sort of pudge that came with middle age and either a few kids or a love of pastries, this woman seemed remarkably slim compared to the rest of the group. 

     “I see we have some new faces.” she said, briefly making eye-contact with Gwen and a few other women around the room. “You’ll have the opportunity to introduce yourself if you feel comfortable, but there’s no rush. There are still a few members who haven’t made full introductions since their first meeting.” There was more meaningful eye contact, and Gwen couldn’t help but notice that this time her neighbor, who was still righting herself in her chair, was one of the ones singled out.

     Said neighbor had waved off Gwen’s concern over bumping her earlier, at least after she had steadied herself from the impact. She’d spent weeks getting used to how her new figure interacted with everything -- and everyone -- around her. And besides, it wasn’t all that bad, given her own peculiar interests. She did, however, dip her eyes away from the group leader’s not-so-subtle call out and cleared her throat as she settled back into her seat. When the leader continued, starting with the standard, but important reminders -- all supportive people here, no one is to be judged or shamed for their experience or how they react to it, and that what is said in this room stays in this room -- she glanced at Gwen, quietly offering her hand. “I’m Payton.”

     “Gwen,” she whispered back, accepting Payton’s hand, “but my friends call me L--” She cut herself off and pursed her lips, looking embarrassed again. It hadn’t been that long since she’d hung out with civies, had it? “...Gwen. My friends call me Gwen because, eh, that’s my name!” She smiled trying to play it off as a joke. Payton looked more confused than amused. Gwen did her best to retreat into herself, bowing her head and turning toward one of the many vapid posters on the wall.


   “I see that some of our members have made introductions privately.” The woman said from the front of the room. It took Gwen a moment before she realized that the comment was directed at her. She looked up toward the pointed gaze of the woman at the front of the room. “While making new friends can be a big step, I do ask that we keep our relationships with the people in this room professional. We don’t need cliques forming. However, if you’d like to introduce yourself to the group that would be fine.” 

     Gwen blushed again. This meeting was not going according to plan, and that plan had already accounted for her not having a good time. She cleared her throat and stood. “Hi, I’m Gwen. Uh, my friends call me Gwen. I’m new here, but I was actually first exposed to the calorie serum a little over a year ago.”


   The therapist's eyebrows raised. “Really? I thought the first cases were more recent than that. Have you notified the authorities?”

 

    “Oh, umm…” Gwen’s mind raced. Stupid mistake. Of course no one had been exposed before her. “What I meant to say was that I got fat almost a year ago. Yeah, just the normal way though, no self control I guess.” She laughed rubbing the back of her neck. No one else in the room seemed to think it was funny. She took a deep breath and pressed on. “I was only exposed to the stuff a few months back. I was already fat at the time so I guess that’s why I’m so huge. That makes sense right?” She placed her hands on either side of her belly and pressed, trying to suck in as much as possible. Was everyone supposed to be staring at her like this? What had happened to all that talk about this being a “safe space” and “free of judgment?”

     “Well, yeah,” Payton offered from Gwen’s side, without much effort. “That stuff only doubles up someone’s weight, so that makes sense,” she added with a shrug. Her green eyes had narrowed a little, but seeing the tubby blonde starting to drown, she couldn’t help but throw a lifesaver out for her.


   “Good to see you finally sharing with the class, Payton,” the group leader replied, with perhaps a touch of admonishment. Still, she gestured for the brunette to keep speaking, something she’d expected but quietly hoped wouldn’t be the case. After a moment of staring back at the therapist without the older woman budging, Payton sighed and pushed herself up from her chair. Most of the women present turned to face her, and she gave a brief wave. “Hello, I’m Payton. I was fattened up two months ago by the... “ she sighed then continued. “By a villain who called himself the Phantom of the Vaudeville,” she said, a smirk coming to her lips as a few snickers went around the room. “And before you start laughing, he dressed worse than his name sounded.” Her smirk faded a little as she shrugged, looking out over the group. “And I have been trying to get my life back to where it was without much success.” 

     “Tell me about it.” Gwen mumbled to herself, sitting back down. She caught a quizzical look from Payton. “I just mean, I can’t seem to get back into shape either.” 

     “That’s not uncommon,” said the teacher, mercifully seeming to let Payton and Gwen off the hook. “One in three women affected by the calorie serum experience heightened difficulty when losing weight, and among those who do manage to shed some of the pounds, most report major changes to the way their body continues to carry and retain fat. The goal of this group is not necessarily to motivate you to lose weight but rather to feel comfortable at whatever size you end up being from now on.” 

     She continued to talk, but Gwen tuned her out, mouthing a silent “thank you” to the short girl with the wild hair sitting next to her. To her surprise, Payton returned a wink. From there, any chance she had of paying attention to the meeting was totally lost.

Chapter 3 - Leaving Always on my Mind

“Running Kind” - Merle Haggard

 

     After things had wrapped up, Payton and a few of the smaller girls stuck around to help put chairs away. Gwen decided to do the same seeing as she seemed a bit more mobile than most of the other group members. The bottom racks filled up first, and Gwen caught Payton standing on her tip-toes to try to hang one of the chairs. She took the opportunity to step in. 

“Mind if I…” She hung up her own chair and held out a hand to Payton somewhat bashfully. 

     Payton looked up to find the beautiful blonde looking at her and offered a smile in return. “Sure. The life of being a shortie,” she chuckled, passing the chair over. “First time at one of these?”

     “That obvious?” She lifted the chair over her belly and hung it on the rack. “Thanks for helping me out when I crashed and burned earlier.” 

     “I did that too my first meeting. This is actually my second group because I flamed out so hard. It probably wasn’t as bad as I remember, but I also kind of ran out of the room,” Payton admitted with a dry chuckle. “And this was my first time speaking up here at all. So, really, you’re ahead of the curve.”

     “Ahead of the curve?” Gwen cocked an eyebrow. “Was that a crack about my belly?” The blood drained from Payton’s face, and her mouth hung open for a moment. “Kidding.” She assured with a wry grin. “But I do feel like I owe you. The doc said we weren’t supposed to hang out outside of this building, but there’s a Korean barbecue downstairs, which is technically still in the building. They gave me free coupons. You hungry?”

     Payton considered for a moment -- but only a moment -- then nodded back in reply. “It did smell amazing on the way up. And besides, what’s the good of a support network if you can’t actually, you know,” she said, gesturing between the two of them with a growing and perhaps mischievous smile, “network.”

     Ten minutes later, they were sitting at a table with an open grill between them and surrounded by the scents of various meats and vegetables sizzling in the open flame.

     “So,” Payton began, eyeing the various options on the grill and deciding they had some time before it would be ready. “When you’re not coming to a support group for people who need to diet that’s housed in a building above a restaurant -- what do you do, Gwen?”

“I’m an architect,” she replied as she flipped through the menu. “Besides that, I don’t really get out much... I like to run I guess.” She’d been so caught up with the various side-options that she’d neglected to think about how implausible that sounded. 

     Implausible or not, Payton’s expression brightened. “Wait, you’re a runner too?” She asked, sounding more excited than anytime she’d spoken during the meeting before. “I haven’t met anyone at one of these meetings who hasn’t just given it up entirely.”

     “I, er…” Gwen started, dropping the menu. “I mean… I’m not particularly fast or anything.” A server came by and dropped off two plates of white rice before leaving them to their meal. “You’ve gotta stay healthy somehow, right?” She began piling the rice with the meats from the grill, trying to think of a way to change the topic. 

    Payton quirked an eyebrow at Gwen, gesturing to herself. “Please, I’m not about to set any land speed records myself right now. Especially not after these monsters came in,” she added with a prod to the side of one of her tits, each one almost the size of her head. She followed suit with Gwen’s example, getting a little bit of everything. “If you don’t want to, that’s okay, I mean. I’ve been trying to do that whole ‘find something that keeps you grounded’ whatever that they talk about in group, and running has been the only thing that’s done that for me before.”

    “Uhh… yeah. Staying grounded. That’s important.” Gwen hadn’t missed Payton’s indication of her breasts. She shook herself back to attention. A few months back, Gwen wouldn’t have had any reaction toward another woman’s body aside from maybe a pang of jealousy toward someone slimmer than her. Attraction toward men had been something she’d never had trouble tuning out when it was inconvenient, but this was new and she was therefore unpracticed. “I’m sorry, are you inviting me to go running with you?” 

    “If you want!” Payton replied, her excitement getting the best of her again, doing her best to affect a more neutral reaction after she cleared her throat. “I mean, you don’t have to. But if you’d ever want to, uh, I’d love to run with you sometime. I’ve been meaning to get back to it, especially since I’ve gone up since the whole spray bottle thing, and a partner always helps, so… uh, yeah,” she finished, trailing off from her rambling response, glancing down to her food and starting in on the rice.

    “Well, Ms. Whatshername’s not gonna like it,” Gwen said, pretending to consider while poking at a strip of beef. “But I suppose she doesn’t have to find out.” Payton beamed, and Gwen let herself grin back. She was so excited that she didn’t immediately notice what Payton had said. “Wait, spray bottle? Fountainhead didn’t mention a spray bottle.” She caught the beginnings of a confused look from Payton at super-speed before adding, “In her report. I, uh… try to up with all the fattening stuff that goes on… just for my own curiosity.”

 

    “You actually read those reports? I didn’t think anyone did besides super hero bloggers or, you know, actual heroes.” Payton laughed, her interest piqued despite the little hiccup in conversation. “But, uh, yeah -- the guy who sounded like a carnival barker got me and my coworker with a few spritzes --” Payton even made a spraying noise with her tongue to help describe the situation, “-- and before we knew it, we had both doubled our weight, or thereabouts. Ash got it a little worse than me, but I’ve caught up since then,” she added, her tone souring at that last part.

    But Gwen felt a little flutter in her stomach. That was also new. She found her eyes drifting down toward her companion’s belly. She pulled her eyes back up before it became obvious. She should try not to make a habit of that. Using one’s superpowers to avoid being caught leering was definitely a moral grey area. She tugged at her own shirt self-consciously.

     “I didn’t think it worked that way. I was injected I mean.” She poked at the food on her plate. Feeling both concerned and a bit embarrassed. She didn’t usually talk this openly about her own expansion. 

     “Oh, yikes,” Payton murmured with a sympathetic look. “I heard that, uh… that could be a bit more intense -- at least, that’s what the BSD folks said when they were giving me the pamphlets and guides and stuff. Were you…” she hesitated for a moment, then leaned in, her arms crossed along the edge of the table to support her weight and inadvertently emphasizing her chest. “If you don’t want to talk about it, that’s okay. But uh - were you really already on the heavier side when you got hit with this stuff?”

     “I was… um…” The right answer was obvious. If she said yes that would avoid further questions and more or less prevent Gwen from having to outright lie, but despite her better judgment, she wanted to be honest with this girl, at least within reason. Auto had wanted her to get out more. Making close friends with a running buddy would be perfect for that. “I was hit twice,” she  said, deciding to aim her deception closer to the truth than an outright lie. “I was one of the first instances. I even managed to lose most of the weight before the second time. Since then, I’ve pretty much plateaued.” She shrugged, breaking eye contact and turning her attention toward her food.

 

     “Wow.” Payton’s tone, lacking in judgment, was full of dismay, almost awe. “You got hit with that junk twice? I got hit once and it was pretty tame, and I’ve had days where leaving my house isn’t gonna happen. But twice and you just kept on plugging? That’s pretty amazing,” she added, neglecting her food even as she watched Gwen take a few bites. She hesitated for another moment, then leaned in, her tone a little conspiratorial, maybe even a little… gossipy. That kind of curiosity that’s tinged with all kinds of baggage because it comes from shared trauma. “Did… did it feel weird? Not the obvious ways, but -- I thought I would have felt something while it happened. But I didn’t even notice until I saw it and my clothes started to get tight.”

     Gwen thought about it before starting, voice low with hesitation. “Not really the first time. The outfit I was wearing was a bit… daring, and I more or less burst out of it. That felt weird.” She leaned back in her chair, belly bumping against the table and placed a hand on her chin. “The second time was sorta different -- slower mostly. Also, I got way bigger. I mean I more than tripled my weight.” A smile tugged at the corner of her lips. She wasn’t enjoying the memory, but there was a certain satisfaction in knowing she was sharing it with someone who had no ulterior motives. “That felt weird. The first time was a surprise, but the second time I was fully aware of what was going on, and it was like my belly was full of bubbles. Like I drank too much soda.” More manic now. Things she hadn’t shared with anyone were boiling out of her in a way that couldn’t be easily stopped. “I was pretty bottom heavy before, but after that… I mean I’ve never heard of tits this big. Not to mention this belly. Like how am I supposed to function when I can’t even reach my own--” She looked up, suddenly making eye contact with Payton again. “Ummm… You know that might have gotten away from me… I should probably go.” 

As Gwen had gone on, Payton had found herself getting drawn in by the blonde woman, both physically and otherwise. By the time Gwen had stopped herself, Payton had her elbows planted on the table, boobs resting between them as her hands propped up her chin. And the infectious kind of energy that had come off her, that seemed to make Gwen look lighter the more she went on - well, it was hard not to stare and become engrossed, until the moment when it came to a sharp halt. 

     “What? You don’t have to, it’s okay -- I can, I mean, I’ve got --” she stumbled over her words, trying to shake -- without any real success -- the thought of what Gwen might have looked like before, what a bottom heavy version of her was like in the middle, and the whole experience of her fattening up… Down girl, not the time, she chided herself. Seeing Gwen come out of her shell, even for a moment, was invigorating and that… well, she might have been interested in Gwen before, but now she had the feeling that “smitten” wasn’t terribly far away. But… if Gwen didn’t want to stay, or if she wasn’t ready, she couldn’t force her. She’d been through enough relationships when someone jumped before they were ready, and those rarely ended well. 

     So, instead of letting herself run wild and try to pull the heavier woman with her… she nodded. “Um, yeah. That’s- that’s okay,” she managed, trying not to let her disappointment show. “This was nice though. Will I… uh, will you be back next week?”

“Yeah!” Gwen stood up from the booth, sliding out sideways, careful not to let her belly knock over their drinks. “I mean, probably… Anyway. It was great talking to you. Thanks for having lunch with me.” She pulled out her wallet and threw some bills on the table before bolting from the restaurant with surprising agility for a woman weighing over a quarter ton. 

     “I…” Payton started, but Gwen had gotten out of earshot. “Bye,” The brunette, thoroughly deflated, sighed heavily, head falling into her hands as she slumped against the table. 

     After a minute of scrubbing her face and trying to resist the urge to get both another drink and pick up some ice cream on her way home, her eyes caught something odd among the bills that Gwen had left on the table. Payton’s eyebrows furrowed as she looked at the crumpled piece of paper. It was complete with a signature - or she thought it was at least - that was truly ridiculous. Well… if Gwen showed up to next week’s meeting, she could at least give this back to her, she thought, disappointment still weighing on her. She made sure that a tip was left on the table, tucked the note into her pocket, and sighed once more. “Well, shit.”

Chapter 4 -  Hammers Batter Down Your Door

“Run like hell” - Pink Floyd

 

    Common wisdom among criminals is “drugs for convenience, weapons for money.” Drugs can be manufactured basically anywhere but were mostly purchased by junkies and other criminals, which makes for an unsteady source of income. Weapons, on the other hand, were difficult to smuggle, expensive to manufacture and near impossible to hide. They did have the benefit of enthusiastic buyers, but in Tulio’s estimation, they weren’t usually worth the trouble to move them. The calorie serum, however, was different.

 

    It was a devastating and powerful weapon that could be manufactured in a lab and transported in any sealed container. Due to its color and viscosity, Tulio had chosen orange juice bottles, and so far every single batch had made it through customs and into the hands of various governments, supervillains, and terrorist organizations all around the world. He was making more money than he had dreamed possible, and there didn’t seem to be any down side… that was until Lancelot came knocking. The one big drawback of making the orange stuff was that it puts a target on your head, and the one behind the gun was none other than the world’s greatest hero. 

 

    Tulio was in his office, arranging a deal of two hundred kiloliters of the orange stuff for a fast food distributor in the UK when he was distracted by the sound of gunfire. He looked out of the plate-glass window into the factory below and witnessed his equipment being systematically disassembled by some unseen force that moved too quickly for the naked eye. It didn’t take long to determine just who that force was. 

 

    Tulio hit a panic switch under his desk, and the factory entered a lock down procedure. The doors weren’t reinforced, as being hit with a super-sonic titanium lance tended to atomize most things. Instead, the electronic pathways rigged to the locks buzzed to life. In the event of a broken connection, the plastic explosives mounted in the frames would destroy key structures in the building and cause the section around the door to collapse. He wasn’t so naive as to think it would stop Lancelot, but it should buy him enough time to escape.

 

    Outside, Lance continued to disassemble various machine parts while Diode and Fountainhead dispatched and arrested various thugs.

 

    “So, I’ve been thinking,” Diode began as she stopped a cluster of buckshot in mid air and sent a bolt of lighting through them back at her attacker, “what if we hang out this Saturday, like as a group. Maybe go bowling.” She was just as large as the other two heroes, though slightly more bottom-heavy than Lance and with a more modest chest compared to Fountainhead. Her costume was mostly unchanged from her slimmer days aside from a handful of copper supports under her belly and butt which she levitated to support her substantial girth. 

 

    “Don’t we see enough of each other as it is?” Fountainhead asked, using a circle of ink as a shield and slashing out with an evil-looking black claw, which sliced one of the gunman’s weapons in half.

 

    “I’m a terrible bowler,” Lance admitted. “Besides, I can’t do Saturday.” She took a break from disassembling to knock out one of the criminals as he ran  for the door.

 

    “Oooh! Gossip. What’s happening? Got a hot date?” Lancelot had Diode’s full attention. The younger hero chained a string of lightning bolts together between three perps and turned to face Gwen.

 

    Gwen hissed in response. “Nothing like that. I’m trying a therapy group.” Diode looked confused. “It’s the one we’ve been giving out cards for.”

 

    “I didn’t figure you for the therapy type,” Fountainhead butt in, hogtying the last of the thugs in her blue-black tendrils before walking over.

 

    “I hope you’ve used more tact than that with the girls you’ve been handing those out to.” Diode sneered at Fountainhead, whoreciprocated the gesture. 

 

    “Did you get anything out of it?” Fountainhead asked. 

 

    Gwen, shrugged. “Not really. I did meet this girl, though. She wants me to be her running partner.”

 

    Diode snorted. “Boy is she in for a surprise.” They reached the door to the foreman’s office and Diode extended a hand to block the other two women. “Hold it. The door is rigged to blow. Let me short it first.”

 

    “So are you going to do it?” Fountainhead asked, turning to Lancelot. Lance responded with a confused cock of her head. “Be this girls running partner.” 

 

    “Obviously not,” Lance said tersely, hoping to change the subject. 

 

    “Why not? Is she ugly or something?” Diode asked, pushing the door open and motioning for the others to follow her in.

 

    “She’s not ugly,” Lance snapped, sounding a bit more annoyed than she’d intended. “And I don’t need a reason because it’s a terrible idea to go running with someone who doesn’t know I’m a superhero.” 

 

    “Well, you obviously like her,” Fountainhead pointed out. “Just show up and pretend to be slow. Channel your inner fatass.” 

 

    “Outer fatass,” Diode corrected. Fountainhead waved her off. 

 

    Inside the office, the desk had been pushed aside, revealing a hole in the floor with a ladder going into the depths. Fountainhead extend the ink around one pudgy arm and reached into the hole. There was a yelp, followed by Fountainhead lifting out a young Puerto Rican man with his arms wrapped tightly around a lumpy duffel-bag. 

 

    “Tulio!” Lance exclaimed. “Now here’s a surprise. I thought you were more of the hitman type.”

 

    The man shrugged and smiled sheepishly. “Diversification is the key to a successful business.” Diode placed a hand on his shoulder. There was a flash of violet light and the man was out cold.

 

    “So,” she started, “you’re crushing on this girl pretty hard. Why don’t you want to see her again?” 

 

    “I am not ‘crushing’ on anyone.” Lance insisted. The two other hero’s exchanged dubious glances. Fountainhead even seemed to roll her eyes. “Fine. I liked her. She was cute, but I overshared and kinda ruined it before anything could happen.”

 

    “Ah… she ran off on you,” Fountainhead said gathering up the pile of unconscious perps and setting them in a corner where the VPD could easily process them once they arrived.

 

    “More like I ran off on her,” Lance admitted, absently kicking at a twisted piece of metal and sending it bouncing across the factory floor.

 

    “For all you know, she could have been fine with it,” Diode pointed out. Now it was Lance’s turn to be dubious. “Look, I once met this guy at a bar, right? We hit it off, had a great evening, I might have drank a little too much, and I threw up all over the table.” Lance balked while Fountainhead seemed to be actively ignoring the story. “The point is, the guy still took me back to his apartment later that night. Don’t just assume you blew it if this girl didn’t blow you off.”

 

    “Ugh.” Fountainhead grimaced. “Men are disgusting.”

 

    “No, I was the one that threw up. Fountainhead.”

 

    “And he still took you home. The man should have had some standards.” Her lip curled in disgust as she went back to arranging the suspects.

 

    “Love you too, honey,” Diode called to her before turning back to Lance. “The point is, you should at least give her the chance to turn you down herself. You don’t know what this woman wants. Maybe she’s into your weird vulnerable bullshit.” Lance grimaced. It was times like this that she was glad her pink visor covered up most of her blush.

 

    “I agree with Diode,” Fountainhead interjected as she marched back toward her fellow heroes. “You’ve already accepted that she’s not into you. The worst thing that could happen is that you have that confirmed.”

 

    “You are both terrible at giving pep-talks,” Lance told them. Another set of shrugs and another conspiratorial glance. “Anyway, do you think this is the last of the calorie serum factories?”

 

    “God, I hope so,” Diode said with a sigh. “I’m tired of raiding these pharma operations. Can’t something interesting happen already?”

 

    Lancelot openly laughed. “You still haven’t been in Valiant city that long,” she said, leaning into a running stance. “Something interesting is always right around the corner.” A blink later and she was gone.   

Chapter 5 - Auburn Hair and Tawny Eyes

“I Ran” - Flock of Seagulls

 

    Across town and feeling far less pleased with her own work, Payton put her hands on her plump hips and glared down at the fruits of her labor. That is, if one could call the half hour she’d spent rifling through her closet much in the way of labor. 

 

    After Gwen had left the restaurant, Payton had been more than a little bummed; there she was, talking to one of the first people she’d had any kind of connection with other than Ash -- and that wasn’t much more beyond “hey, want to get pizza and maybe get a little high when we’re both on work” -- and it had flamed out. Spectacularly. Crash, burn, explode into tiny pieces of debris that could only be found in the stratosphere. It had been more than a little demoralizing, but she meant what she said about wanting to get back into running. It had always been her way of letting her mind quiet and give her the space she needed to process. She’d maybe gone running once or twice since she got sprayed, and the antsy feelings that bubbled up more often than she was used to were good proof that she should get back into the game. She was going to stick with that idea, if only to prove to herself that she hadn’t just been saying that to flirt with Gwen. And then there was the second reason for getting back out to the park for a run, she thought with a sour look towards her bathroom door - and specifically, the scale that lay beyond.

 

    Once she’d managed to get her wits collected, one of the first stops she’d had was to check just how much damage had been done. Despite very much liking her time working out -- and especially running through Valiant City’s impressive parks - she’d never been one to rely upon a specific number or measurement when it came to her weight. But BSD had recommended that she keep tabs on it at least once every week -- there had been cases, the liaison had told her in a cryptic manner, where the initial exposure to the serum hadn’t been the sole instance of gaining. A little frantic that she might end up even fatter, Payton had gotten on the scale with  181 staring back at her in red block numerals. She’d been around 100 pounds when she’d gone to work on that fateful day, and ending up around double your starting weight was about the average for being hit with the serum. So, in some senses, she’d been lucky -- Ash had ended up going over that point herself, something that the blonde brought up whenever Payton got a bit mopey about her current situation. Checking each week after hadn’t shown any dramatic changes, just a pound or two here and there - but over time, she’d noticed her weight trending upward. And now, at 192 pounds, she was worried that even if the serum’s effects had been exhausted, the aftermath would take her to well over that double-up point and maybe beyond. 

 

    So, she’d pulled out the work out gear she’d gotten a few days after the incident, lamenting how determined she’d been not to let her new weight undermine her self confidence. Namely because that attitude had her picking up a heavy-duty sport crop top and comfy work out shorts, with nothing really to cover her belly, arms, the tops of her thighs, or even the contours of her very plump hips. If someone had told her she’d get an hourglass figure if she put on a little weight, she wouldn’t have jumped at the idea -- she’d always been more of the pursuer when it came to her chubby chasing, not pursued -- but it would have helped take the edge off. Now, with boobs bigger than her head and the combo of her hips and butt to match, she realized that her current figure was perhaps too much of a good thing.

 

    Payton shook her head fiercely, her unstyled hair, a compromise she made to avoid various products slicking her forehead and into eyes while exercising, wisping around her head. “Gonna do this, gonna get back on track, gonna stop sitting around the apartment,” she muttered, grabbing a second sports bra to layer under the top’s built-in one, repeating the mantra she’d taken up while working up her courage to go out with such little coverage -- even if the amount of fabric in these outfits had probably been on par with her normal clothes in the days of thin Payton. Shoving that thought aside with a snarl, she started pulling on the stretchy clothes, determined to get to the park before that fire failed her.

 

    Lance was taking her standard route home, which was less of a route and more of a quick patrol, methodically moving up and down the grid-like city streets and righting little wrongs. 

 

    A driver who had been texting suddenly found himself looking at the road with his phone in his pocket, and a woman in a crosswalk suddenly found herself standing on the other side of the street as the man who might have hit her due to his texting passed through the intersection.She’d caught dropped keys, saved a painter from falling off his ladder, and poked a kid’s baseball bat with just enough force to ensure a home run that he’d remember for the rest of his life. 

She was about to call it quits when she saw her. It wasn’t enormously surprising. With the kind of ground she covered every day, she was bound to run into her eventually. Payton jogged through the park, eyebrows knitted together in determination. Lance could approach her; it wouldn’t be wrong to explain herself and let Payton make her own decisions about the whole Korean Barbeque affair. 

 

    She brought herself directly in front of the other woman and briefly admired the way her expanded assets and wild hair hung weightless in mid-stride, then she made a decision and rushed away. A moment later, the cashier of a nearby clothing store was startled by a gust of air and turned to find a handful of bills sitting on his counter next to the tags for a full set of Women’s XXXL Jogging gear. 

 

    “Just… a little… further,” Payton huffed as she crested the second hill on her old circuit -- insomuch as one could call the path she’d run twice before getting doused with calorie serum an “old circuit.” Still, it was something she’d been a little familiar with, and running it now, at almost twice her old fighting weight, had her appreciating both how fit she’d been before and how hard she’d worked herself. She wasn’t exactly past the worst of it, and she was making her way to the bench to get some water. “Why did I decide this was a good idea,” she muttered, that spark from earlier seeming like a fool’s errand.

 

    Lance wasn’t incredibly familiar with running at normal human speeds. She knew that peak human speed was around thirty miles per hour, so she’d figured that half of that would be more reasonable. Now, as she approached Payton, a woman in supposedly much better shape than her, she realized how heavily she’d misjudged her speed. She slowed to what felt like a crawl as she neared Payton’s position. Now, she just needed to get her attention. She could call out to her or maybe jog up beside her? It was entirely possible that Gwen was the last person she wanted to see, and neither of those options lent themselves to giving Payton an opportunity to escape. Gwen made up her mind, looked around to ensure no one was watching, and, with a quick burst of speed, placed herself just over the crest of the next hill along the path. Now, she just had to wait. 

 

    Payton’s pace slowed to a sluggish jog in place, her body jiggled to remind her just how much speed she’d lost with this gain as she guzzled some of her water while steadying herself with a hand on the back of the bench. It was hard for her to feel any kind of accomplishment like this, even if she knew that just getting out here again was a good thing. It’d been harder than usual to set aside her anxious thoughts while running, and the effort  made her just as conscious of her body as getting on the scale had earlier. Maybe she shouldn’t have done this, maybe she should have stayed home, or texted Ash about pizza, or -- 

 

    Wait. That was -- was it? How many other enormous plump blondes were there in this city? The musing answer that popped up from that was quickly shoved aside, as Payton’s melancholy evaporated. She gulped down another bit of water and started towards the slope of the hill, calling out, “Gwen!” as she really, really hoped that it actually was her.

 

    Gwen beamed as she heard Payton call her name, and her pudgy fists tightened in excitement as she slowed her already practically stationary pace to a full stop and turned to look behind her. She brushed her bangs out of her face to look at Payton, and her heart rate quickened.

 

    “Payton?” She greeted, feigning surprise. “Hi. I should probably apologize about the other day.” 

 

    “No, it’s--” Payton started eagerly, then stopped herself. “I-I appreciate that,” she managed, a little less excited but more true to how she felt. “I know it was a lot to bring up -- are, um, are you doing better today?” She asked, trying to balance her desire to just leap right into this second chance with Gwen with everything she’d thought about in the aftermath of Sunday’s… lunch. Definitely just lunch. Not anything more, get your head out of the gutter, Payton Chris, she thought to herself.

 

    “Yeah, I uh…” She pushed her ponytail over her shoulder and rubbed at the back of her neck. “I overshared before. I’m not usually like that. I just felt embarrassed. If you want to run with me, I promise to avoid acting like a freak again.” She smiled, hoping that that came off as a joke rather than an admission. 

 

    Payton started a little, looking back at Gwen with a bit of confusion that melted quickly into what she hoped was a reassuring smile. “It’s okay! It’s… group brings up a lot of things that aren’t easy to process, and getting to share them can be a little overwhelming. I haven’t shared that much with anyone besides Ash, and she got doused on the same day, so I get it. So, freak or not, I’m more than happy to have you on a run,” she replied, grinning back at Gwen.

 

    The crime-fighting part of Gwen’s mind kicked in when Payton mentioned her friend: Coffee shop robbery, one perp, two victims, spray bottle. She’d forgotten to look into that, too focused on her own embarrassment to consider the spray bottle connection. She turned to Payton, intending to ask more, but realized that the last thing she needed to do was to interrogate the woman she was trying to make friends with. Payton caught the gesture, and Gwen realized that she was waiting for her to say something. She floundered, attempts at making clever observation or flirtatious banter were drowned out by the way the sun shone through the woman’s mane of reddish brown-hair and the slight rise and fall of her chest, huge despite obvious attempts to restrict its movement. She focused on maintaining eye-contact, but even that didn’t help much. 

 

    “Um… Wow, you’ve got really pretty eyes.” Off topic. Overly flattering, and most important, not the direction someone with ruby-pink eyes needed the conversation to go. She blushed and turned away focusing on maintaining her slow pace. 

 

    Payton, doing her best to keep up with Gwen -- she must be fresh, the shorter woman thought to herself, the only way she could really explain why she was struggling to keep pace with someone at least twice her size -- almost stumbled over her own sneakers at the compliment. “Oh! Um, th- uh, thank you!” She replied, her cheeks flushing a bit. Okay, uh, flirt back, be cool. “Yours are gorgeous.” Shit! Not cool!

 

    “Oh, yeah. It’s umm… contacts, obviously. Thank you, though!” She noticed Payton struggling to keep up, and forced herself to slow down even further. How fast did most people her size move? She thought back to Fountainhead and Diode being loaded into a semi-truck after their own expansion, and got the hint. She dropped to a slightly bouncier version of her walking speed and did her best to feign exertion. “How often do you run this?” She asked.

 

    “Uhhhh…” A moment’s consideration of trying to sound better off than she was passed through Payton’s mind, and almost as quickly it came apart on the rocks. “This is my first time doing this route since I got sprayed,” she admitted. “I’d gone down a couple times before, but it was a lot easier back then,” she chuckled, huffing a little with her breathing. “And for the contacts,” she started, taking a moment to catch her breath -- this whole talking and running thing was not helping her one bit, “you’ve got great style.”

 

    “Says the girl brave enough to go out in a crop-top,” she bit her lip as she took in the sight of Payton’s bouncing tummy. Too fresh, super-dweeb. Alarms were going off in Lance’s head. “I mean, you look awesome. If covering my belly were always an option, I’d never let it see the light of day.” 

 

    Payton scoffed back at that, doing her best to keep from sounding too winded. “That’s eight-weeks-ago-Payton being high on self-empowerment and full of caffeine. Current Payton isn’t exactly thrilled with the look.” She paused, as much to get her breathing back in order as to put her words together. “And I’m sure you look great no matter how much is covered up.”

 

    Gwen blushed again, looking down and shrugging her shoulders, a smile touching the corners of her lips. The two carried on in relative silence -- minus the notable panting and puffing, particularly with Payton but with Gwen doing her best to match the other girl’s level of exertion. That was, at least, until the last leg of the route; specifically, the final hill. When Payton had picked this running route, she’d wanted that extra challenge as she reached the metaphorical finish line. Now, hauling almost twice her weight and a very jiggly version of it at that, she was deeply regretting her choice. 

 

    “Last bit,” she huffed out, nodding towards the hill. Water bottle in one hand, she wiped away sweat with the other, her face flushed and hair starting to flop around a bit. Any further conversation was a bit beyond her, as much as she wanted to jokingly lament her decisions aloud to Gwen. 

 

    For her part, Gwen wasn’t oblivious to Payton’s struggle. She could fake labored breathing and slow herself to a snail’s pace, but she couldn’t fake the sweat that she saw running down from Payton’s hairline or the flushed look on her face. Payton had been the one to suggest working out together, and if this really was her first time, Gwen would feel awful if she ended the run feeling discouraged. She faked a few wheezes and let Payton take the full lead. 

Suddenly, Payton felt a push, like a pair of hands on the small of her back helping to lift her up and move her forward. She looked over her shoulder only to see Gwen trudging up the hill a few yards behind her, clearly winded but smiling and offering her a thumbs up. Payton returned the smile and turned back around and immediately felt the same sensation. Was this the “runners high” people talked about?

 

    She looked back again with a grin, confidence bubbling in ways that she hadn’t felt in months, but felt a pang when she saw Gwen clearly struggling behind her. She glanced back again after making sure no one was ahead of them and she held out her hand to Gwen, slowing enough for the heavyset blonde to reach. “C’mon! Let’s kick this hill’s ass!” She gasped out, elation overcoming exhaustion.

 

    Gwen’s eyes widened, but she smiled and grabbed Payton’s hand as the shorter girl practically dragged her up the hill and cresting the top with no help from Gwen at all. They both collapsed into the grass, laughing and breathing heavily. Gwen placed her hands on her belly to keep if from jiggling from the force of her giggles and looked over to see Payton doing the same.

 

    “That…” she managed “was terrible. Want to do it again next week?”

 

    Payton burst into another round of laughter, her giggles just barely subsiding. “Don’t make me answer yet,” she panted, one arm across her doughy middle and the other up over her head to try and help her lungs get room to expand. Still, that high was a bit too much for her to deny, even as she gasped for more oxygen. Part of her thought this was a bit too good to be true, running into Gwen out in the park, the two hitting it off even better than before, and now a recurring… not a date, not a date, she thought to herself, gulping down more air. “For real?”

 

Chapter 6 - Kinda Bent, but We Ain't Breakin'

“The Long Run” – Eagles

 

    Payton couldn’t believe what she was hearing, but it was true. Not only had Gwen enjoyed the terrible run that they’d had together, but she actually asked to do it again. Now, lying in the grass together, Payton couldn’t stop herself from asking for confirmation.

 

    “For real?” She asked, tilting her head up to look at the hefty blonde. 

 

    “As long as I don’t cramp your style too much.” She rolled over sluggishly. Breasts and belly rolling into place and softly and jiggling as they hit the ground beside her. 

 

    “You kidding?” Payton asked, grinning wide while laying on her back. She had just turned her head, given Gwen a good look at how her curves wobbled gently with her heavy breathing, the mounds of her chest in particular shifting despite her sports bra and top. As her eyes wandered away from Gwen’s face, Payton was particularly thankful that her cheeks and neck were already too flushed to tell the difference. “The view’s getting better by the minute with you around.” 

Gwen, remarkably unflushed now turned a bright pink and did her best to suck in her gut, an action that accomplished nothing. “So. Umm… Same time next week then?” She asked, finger curling around a stray strand of her bangs as she tried to avoid eye contact. 

 

    “Sure!” Payton replied, a bit too quickly and a bit too cheerfully. “I mean, unless there’s a time that works better for you?” She asked, hoping to give Gwen as much room as she needed to let her in.

 

    “Depends on when you’re free… I wouldn’t mind seeing you sooner.” 

 

    Payton’s smile stretched a bit wider, and a warm buzzing started to build in her chest. “Yeah? Well, how about the day before group? Then maybe we can get lunch after?” She suggested, biting a little on her lower lip.

 

    “I could eat now,” Gwen said. “I think we deserve something for all our hard work.” 

 

    “Deal,” Payton replied, beaming back at Gwen and not caring to try and hide her enthusiasm. She hummed, then laid her head back on the grass for a moment. “But that means we have to get up.”

 

    Much to her surprise, when she opened her eyes a moment later, Gwen was already standing over her. “Oh, you’re not up already?”  She lowered a hand to help Payton to her feet. “Come on, big girl. You’re good company, but don’t think I won’t abandon you for the pizza place across the street.” 

 

    “Betrayed for pepperoni,” Payton bemoaned, clapping one hand to her chest in melodramatic agony, sending more ripples than she knew were possible through her body. Still, she took Gwen’s hand and let herself be pulled up, having to steady herself as she reached her feet. “Woof. Okay, came up a bit too fast,” she murmured, blinking away the blood rush from her head. “Pizza sounds like the perfect cure though.”

 

    “Good, because I know the owner. He’s the kind of guy who will give you free dessert if he sees you’re bringing a date.”

 

    Payton’s heart flipped at that, her smile becoming a little more coy but no less radiant. “Date?” She repeated, her tone curious and hopeful, with the worries about Gwen not being interested starting to flicker out.

 

    “Yep, so if you ever bring a date there be sure to let him know.” She smiled broadly and winked as they walked.

 

    The worries flickered again, the insecurities that had cropped up with her extra weight making it hard for Payton to feel sure she was reading things right -- but she had something that might give her a bit of clarity. As they walked into the parking lot, Payton stopped by her car to pick up her purse, in which she fished around for something. “Uh, you -- well, you left this at the restaurant?” She said, a little nervous of bringing up the ill-fated lunch, but holding out the crumpled note to Gwen. Some of the ornate signature was apparent even without having to examine it too closely.

 

    “Oh!” Gwen yelped, nearly snatching the note from Payton, her cheeks burning. She opened it, and was relieved to see that the Commodore had signed with one large letter C rather than his title. “This is nothing. It’s just a letter from an old boyfriend.We’re not together anymore.” Payton’s lip twitched. “Not that I’m only into guys. I like girls too... just… if you’re curious.” If it had been darker out, Gwen’s face would have lit up the parking lot. 

 

    Payton had done her best to keep her jubilation from showing at Gwen’s stumbling explanation. It wasn’t that she liked to see the other woman feel awkward, though she was absolutely adorable just the same, but the confirmation she had hoped for seemed to be right before her, and maybe even stretching out to the horizon. “Still up for pizza?” Payton asked, her smile brimming with possibility.

 

    “That’s not fair,” Gwen squealed. “You better be paying… since, you know… I guess I’m getting you free dessert.” 

 

    “What’s not fair?” Payton chirped back, grinning a little brighter at Gwen’s tone. “And I think that’s a fair deal for my date.” She put a little emphasis on the last word as she watched Gwen’s reaction.

 

    Gwen grabbed her by the wrist and practically dragged her into the building, grabbing them a booth and sitting across from her.

 

    “That might have been a bit over eager,” Gwen admitted. “But if you hadn’t picked up on that by now then you’re as perceptive as I am tactful.” 

 

     “You say that like it’s a bad thing to be excited,” Payton replied, smirking a little at Gwen. She hadn’t stopped smiling since they’d been laying on the grass back at the hill. “And, well,” she began again, her voice getting a little softer but no less excited, “I kind of really wanted it to be a date too. So I think you’re good.”

     “I’m just glad you don’t mind dating a fat girl,” Gwen said, barely glancing at the menu. “By the way, I could care less about the toppings, but are we doing thin crust or deep-dish?”

     Payton’s eyes narrowed at that question as she hummed in consideration. “Which do you prefer?” She asked, doing her best to keep her cards close to her chest. 

     “There’s only one right answer.” Gwen leaned in conspiratorially. “And I’m afraid it’s a deal breaker if you get it wrong.” 

     “Well, are we talking about every day pizza or ideal pizza?” Payton replied, her tone more serious than her expression let on. She leaned on one elbow on the table as she grinned back at her date. “Because if we’re talking an ideal, sit down and properly enjoy pizza, you need deep-dish with a cornmeal crust baked in a cast iron dish. But every day, most thin crusts are acceptable.”

     Gwen sneered. “You’re new in town, so I won’t call off the date just yet. Just know that you’re on thin ice.”

     “I was gonna say, nobody’s perfect,” Payton hummed back, giving Gwen a wink. “In deference to the home team, I can go with thin crust -- besides, I’m sure they don’t know how to make a good deep-dish here anyway.”

     Gwen shook her head, and placed the order with the server when he came over. “Seeing as I’ve got five-hundred pounds on you, I think you’re going to have to accept that I’m the expert when it comes to food. You can be the expert on having beautiful eyes and perfect hair.” 

     “First of all,” Payton began, her face flushed to a hue that was getting closer to her hair color with each syllable Gwen tossed her way. Having gotten almost back to normal from their run, the shorter girl was only a little miffed that she seemed to be tilting back towards the obvious. “Perfect hair is an upsell, and we’ve already established that you have gorgeous eyes too, contacts or otherwise. Second, I think you need to dial down the throwing of your weight, unless you’re almost 700 pounds,” she teased, getting close to admitting her own weight. “And finally, coming back to the whole ‘dating a fat girl thing,’” she said, then gestured to herself with eyebrows raised. 

Gwen grabbed her soda and leaned back, taking a deep gulp of the ice cold drink before setting it back down. “You’re only about thirty pounds off,” she admitted. “I think I officially hit 670 last week.” She maintained an image of indifference but was obviously avoiding eye contact. 

     “192 here,” Payton offered, raising her own glass in solidarity and looking a bit less cheerful than before. “Up around ten pounds since the actual dousing, which is one reason why I want to start running again,” she added, giving a shrug that sent her impressive chest wobbling.

     “I bet you can do it,” Gwen said, looking over but managing to keep her glance at Payton’s chest brief. She was getting better at that. “Though I will warn you, you probably won’t get your old body back. When I lost weight the first time, I still had a lot more belly than I wanted, and I was more bottom heavy than I thought was possible.” She shrugged. “Whatever that stuff is it’s designed to stick.” 

Payton nodded, looking a little glum as she did so. “I kind of figured -- every person I’ve heard talk at group has mentioned not being able to lose very much, and that’s the best case. I hoped it was just, you know, the people who had trouble being the ones who were at therapy for it.” She shrugged again, a bit less buoyant than before. “How have you adjusted? You seem like you’ve handled it better than anybody else and, well…”

     “You want to know the secret?” Gwen asked. “Friends are a big part of it. I’ve met a lot of other people with their own body image issues, and I’d likely be worse off without the benefit of their perspective. But the real secret is that I got lucky.”  She rotated her glass on the coaster to keep her hands moving while she stared down at the table. “There’s a lot that’s changed since I got… since I got fat. I’ve had to accept that there are things I just can’t do anymore, but the things that really matter to me, the things that I’m proud of, those haven’t changed. Every day I step out of my apartment and do the job that I’m meant to do and be the woman that I want to be. I can’t imagine what I’d do if being fat meant I couldn’t be me anymore.” 

     Payton was a little taken aback by Gwen’s admission, though it made more sense as she thought about it. Clearly, she had been thinking about all of this for a while -- long before their lunch at the barbecue, and probably long before Payton herself had ever been affected by the serum. “I know what you mean there. I -- well, I’m just not entirely sure who I am, at least in terms of a job to do beyond serve frappuccinos. And getting back into running, that’s part of what I want to help ground me. I was kind of a fitness nut before all this.” Payton gestured to her figure again, eyes glancing away for a moment.

     Gwen shrugged. “You’ve got plenty of time to find your answer, and if you think running will help, I don’t think it’s a bad place to start.” She let go of her glass and looked Payton in the eye. “But until you find the answer, I want to be there to help. No more running off.” Her eyes, which were awfully deep for contacts, seemed both pleading and apologetic. Before either of them could say more though the waiter returned with their pizza and placed it on the table between them.

     Payton’s face warmed up again as Gwen spoke, giving her a fervent blush by the time their waiter arrived with their meal. She took advantage of the pause in conversation to gather her own thoughts, as she was more than a little distracted by Gwen’s sharing. “I… thank you,” she said after a moment’s false start. “I know this is… well, it’s a lot. Most days I don’t even want to acknowledge that things were different, you know? Because that would be admitting that they aren’t what I want now. But getting to that point, of being able to accept that they are different and not necessarily worse… that’s really hard.” She had gotten a bit quieter towards the end of her admission and got a drink of soda to help clear her throat. “And I know it’s hard for you too. So if it's something you need to talk about, I’m here. If it’s something you need space from and want to find literally anything else to focus on, I’m here for that too.” She hesitated one more time, her eyes meeting Gwen’s and a smile on her lips. “And I’m really glad it’s something that you want to do together.” 

     Lance wasn’t sure what to say. A very real part of her wanted to take Payton into her arms and tell her everything. Another part of her was furiously reminding her that she had a secret identity and that sharing it with this woman on their first date was about the most stupid thing she could ever do. She and Payton had never had an argument, never fought, never even had a serious difference of opinion. If Gwen opened herself up here, it was entirely possible her face would be on the six o’clock news tonight, and then everyone would know who she was. 

     “I think I need to not talk about it,” she said somberly. “At least not the past stuff. This is something I want to work on together, and if you need help from me, I’m so there for that.”

    Payton nodded back to Gwen; she had figured something along those lines -- there was a reason why she’d offered the “other” option in the first place. Maybe, Gwen would open up about more down the road, but for now, just getting to know her a bit better was more than enough for Payton. “Before we move onto other topics, there is one thing I was a little curious about.”

 

    Gwen blinked. She swallowed her pizza to help push down the anxiety welling up in her throat. 

 

    Payton set down her soda, her look serious as she met Gwen’s gaze,  but there was a glint of amusement within their green depths. “So, you asked me if I had issues with ‘dating a fat chick,’ but how about you and said situation?”

 

    Gwen nearly choked on her soda. “Oh, is that all?” Her eyes danced over Payton, her belly pressed against the table, her breasts straining her top to it’s limit. She had to admit, she’d been a bit skeptical of every person who’d shown interest in her since ballooning up, but she was beginning to see the appeal. If Payton had been a snack before, now she was a full meal. Lance couldn’t help but imagine what it’d be like to get under those work-out clothes and find out exactly what that strained top was promising.  “I... uh… I think I’ll be okay with that.”

    “So, this...” Payton began, leaning back in her chair with a glint in her eyes only growing more notable, along with a building smirk. “Knowing that I was much more the fitness type of gal before - not a problem?”

 

    “I’ll try to resist sabotaging your workout routine, if that’s what you’re worried about.” 

Payton’s eyebrows perked up, not quite expecting that answer. “And what do you mean by that?”    

Gwen’s eyes widened. “I didn’t mean… that is, to imply… My last girlfriend was a fitness nut, but I don’t mind that you’re fat now. I’m actually kinda into it, I think… I mean, if you lose it that’s fine too.” If Gwen had known it’d been this easy to start perspiring, she’d have just made a fool of herself on the run. “Uh… can I run away now?”

 

     “Mmmm, nope,” Payton replied, lips popping on the “p” as she smirked wider. “But the good news is that I’m very susceptible to flattery.”

 

    Gwen sighed. The whole fat issue was one thing, but at the moment Gwen was just glad Payton didn’t mind going on a date with a moron. 

 

    The rest of the date carried on with about the same level of banter here and there as they enjoyed the pizza, which, even if it was thin crust, Payton had to admit was pretty damn good. At the end of the meal, Payton stretched as she stood, trying to get her slightly-burning muscles to feel a bit better, and in the process caught Gwen’s eyes looking over her figure. The green-eyed girl smirked a little, enjoying the moment to tease the heavyset blonde.

They said their goodbyes and hugged, and just before pulling away, Gwen planted a kiss on Payton’s cheek. She let go, blushed, and then took off down the street at a full sprint. Payton stood on the curb, shocked and excited.

 

      “So, I guess boys don’t want girls with a fat tummy.” She said to herself as she gently grabbed at the doughy roll around her middle, eyes still on Gwen as she disappeared into the city. Payton’s smirk grew. “Girls, on the other hand…” 

Payton Chis.png

Chapter 7 - The Devil's On the Loose

“Run through the Jungle” – CCR

 

    Across town, Tulio sat in a jail cell awaiting trial. It wasn’t the first time he’d been in this situation, and it wouldn’t be the last. In a world full of supervillains, the police had trouble justifying the resources spent on prosecuting petty henchmen, and Tulio had made himself valuable enough that he knew his employer would pay top-dollar for his defense. In that way, it was good to be the little guy, but Tulio had to admit that he was tired of having his ass handed to him by people in tights.

 

    The door opened, and Tulio expected to see his lawyer with a police escort. Instead, a large man with a shaved head and blood-splattered tactical gear marched in and tossed him a hand gun. 

 

    “Come on,” he said curtly. “There’s a chopper on the roof. Boss is waiting.”

 

    “The boss is here?” Tulio asked dumbly as he fumbled the weapon and got to his feet.

 

    “On the roof.” He turned and walked from the cell, obviously expecting Tulio to follow. Though the bald man had given Tulio the handgun, it looked like he had already cleared the building. Bodies of police officers littered the floor. Most of them were still seated at their desks or had their guns holstered. They reached the rooftop without resistance, and, as promised, a large, black helicopter sat on the pad, rotors spinning at full speed but making faint whirs as they cut through the air. 

 

    “In,” ordered the bald man, and they both climbed into the chopper. The interior looked more like that of a luxury limousine than any helicopter Tulio had ever seen. Once the door was shut, even the faint whisper of the rotors was gone, and the entire thing lifted smoothly into the sky. The cockpit was separated from the cabin by a wide door with beveled edges, and there was no one with them in the passenger area. The bald man sat down, and Tulio went to sit next to him, but he raised a hand in warning then pointed to the row of seats across from him.

 

    Once Tulio was seated, a projector flicked to life above them, and a flickering blue hologram of an older man in a business suit materialized in the seat that Tulio had nearly taken

 

    “Glad you could join us, Tulio,” the old man said, his voice distorted only slightly by electronic crackle. “I know you were likely expecting legal council, but I had a proposition for you that couldn’t wait for the courts to finish dragging their feet.”  Tulio looked over at the bald man, who was wiping blood splatter from the barrel of his gun and ignoring the holographic man entirely. 

 

    “What did you have in mind?” He asked.

 

    “Well, lets go over your resume. Is it true that you created and implemented strategies to defeat Lancelot, not once, but twice now?”

 

    “Neither of them worked.” Tulio grimaced. 

 

    The old man waved him off. “Please. Despite what Hollywood might tell you, the criminal world isn’t so self-righteous as to ignore talent just because we’ve encountered snags. If I wrote off everyone who couldn’t take Lancelot down on their own, I wouldn’t have any men left. But you did better than most. Both of your plans were sound and could have worked if you didn’t have such glaring disadvantages.” Tulio cocked his head, unsure if he should be offended. “You’re human,” he explained. “She’s not. You can outthink her, but you can’t think faster than she does. The odds are stacked against you.”

 

    “So why haven’t you hired a supervillain to take her down?”

 

    “I’m going to pretend I didn’t just hear that.” The man’s wheezing laugh was further garbled by the audio distortion. “Supers are notoriously hard to reign in. They’ve all had powers since birth, so they tend to think that they’re God’s gift to the human race, if not Gods themselves. It makes them arrogant, selfish, and unpredictable. But you, Tulio, you’re bright, capable, and a man I can trust.” The hologram leaned forward. “The calorie serum was designed to defeat Lancelot. In that regard, it failed, but it is an incredible weapon. We see enormous profit potential, but at the moment, that profit has a significant overhead cost -- a seven-hundred pound speed demon with a chip on her shoulder. We need her eliminated. We think that you’re the man for the job.”

 

    “The job?” Tulio asked. “To kill Lancelot? I wouldn’t know where to start.”

 

    The old man smiled. “We have some ideas about that. Have you ever heard of ‘The Phantom of Vaudeville?’”

    

Chapter 8 - The Tales Grow Taller

“Take it on the Run” – REO Speedwagon

 

    Gwen hadn’t dated anyone outside the hero circuit in years. Dealing with the inconsistencies of Payton’s shifts had taken some getting used to, but after some minor snooping, Gwen had memorized Payton’s schedule for this week and was sure she’d arrived just in time for her lunch. She waited in line with a chicago deep-dish fresh from an authentic Chicago pizzeria and still warm despite traveling over seven-hundred miles. There were benefits to dating a speedster, even if Payton didn’t know it. Payton, fully absorbed in her work, didn’t notice her until she arrived at the register.

 

    Gwen opened the pizza box. “I don’t suppose you could join me for lunch?” She grinned. She had nailed that line. So smooth; basically the perfect girlfriend. 

 

    Payton stared with wide eyes and jaw slightly agape. She looked toward her coworkers -- Ash, who had a shit-eating grin, waved her on and another who just rolled his eyes but nodded -- before turning back to Gwen with a grin, already untying her apron. “Sure! Mind if

we get a seat here?”

 

    “As long as that’s allowed.” Gwen shrugged. “Should I buy a drink so that that guy doesn’t kick us out?” She raised an eyebrow toward captain eye-roll in the corner. 

 

    “Nah, I’ll just take my lunch a little sooner,” Payton hummed back, turning to Ash and making a stirring gesture with one of her hands. Once facing Gwen again, she smiled and motioned toward one of the more isolated tables not taken up by an overzealous college student or the hipster MFA group that always seemed to take up one of the corner tables. “I usually get a drink anyway, so that’ll cover you. And besides, it’ll be a shorter lunch if I don’t have to go anywhere, so he’ll get over it.”

 

    Gwen beamed, feeling the kind of triumphant thrill she reserved for when a plan came together perfectly. She’d pulled it off, and for the next half hour she had Payton to herself. She did end up ordering a frappuccino, which she supplemented with eight sugar packets and a hefty squirt of chocolate sauce. She sucked on it greedily as they took their seats and started serving out the pizza. 

 

    “Mmmmm,” Payton moaned, nose-deep in her first bite. “Holy shit, this is great. I haven’t been able to find deep dish like this at all here. Where’d you get it?”

 

    “What, so you could just buy it for yourself? Do you think I’d tell you and give up all that power?” Gwen lifted a slice, watching the cheese and sauce sluse over the side with obvious concern, before shrugging and taking a bite. It wasn’t bad. 

 

    “Oooh, a girl with secrets,” she hummed back at Gwen, smirking a little. The expression grew when she saw the blonde’s reaction to the pizza. “How is it?”

 

    “I mean, I won't starve.” She took another greedy bite, careful not to get sauce on her face. 

 

    Payton snickered at that, a crooked smile still on her lips as she took her next bite with a soft hum of enjoyment. “I’ll get the secret out of you yet… but this is sufficient bribery for now,” she added, licking some sauce from her lips - just in time for Ash to come back with her drink. “Ooh! Excellent timing.”

 

    “It’s what I’m paid for,” Ash replied with her usual level of smug deadpan. “So, are you balancing two dates now or is this the Gwen you’ve been talking about so much lately?”

 

    “Oh? So I’m famous now?” Gwen asked, cocking an eyebrow at Payton. 

 

    “I may have mentioned you a little,” Payton deflected even as she gestured for Ash to pull up a chair. Her efforts were parried by Ash’s grin, returning to full shit-eating glory.    “Please! You won’t shut up about her,” she laughed as she plopped her heavy figure down, belly pushing against her apron. “‘Gwen this, Gwen that, Gwen has really pretty eyes’ - you’re basically all she talks about now,” Ash explained, all while Payton’s face grew more red.

 

    Gwen squeezed herself as close to the edge of the booth as possible, but Ash seemed unphased by their rolls touching. She looked across the bench to Payton for help, but the other woman seemed to be going through her own personal embarrassment. 

 

    “It’s fine,” Ash waved off the discomfort, still smirking some. “It’s kind of gross, to be honest.”

 

   “Ash, you are embarrassing me in front of my very nice date who brought me pizza!” Payton tried to grit out through her teeth, eyes glancing from Gwen to Ash and back.

 

    “Fine, fine, I’ll stop. But only because I owe you for scoring last week’s stash anyway.”

 

    “Stash?” Gwen asked, her own discomfort ignored for the moment as the color drained from Payton’s face. 

 

    “ASH! Not everyone is as 420-friendly as you!” Payton ground out again, glaring daggers at her friend -- who seemed to be doing her absolute best to embarrass her and loving every second of it. She reached over to give Ash’s arm a light slap.

 

    “Hey, it’s legal now!” She laughed in reply, giving Payton’s shoulder a light pat in return. “Just because some of us are a bit uptight about it…”

 

    Payton groaned, one hand over her face while the other gestured to Ash. “Gwen, this is Ash. She’s my coworker, sometimes friend, and always a pain in my ass. She was the other person who got doused by the Phantom.”

 

    “So wait, Patyon’s a pothead? Oh my god, how were you not fat already?” She raised a hand to Ash. “I’m Gwen, Payton’s sometimes girlfriend and always one to appreciate someone who enjoys teasing her as much as I do.”

 

    “I,” Payton began, looking a bit huffy,  “partake only once in a while as helps with my mental state.”

 

    “Yeah, I’m more the pothead to be fair. Payton’s just down for pizza and lighting up like every week,” Ash offered, shaking Gwen’s hand even as the auburn-haired chubster growled next to her. “I always say she should try it a bit more, might help with being so high-strung.”

 

    “And here I was worried one of you might feel out of place,” the shorter girl grumbled, crossing her arms over her substantial boobs. “I’m stealing the rest of the pizza for this.”

 

    “Please do. It’s my turn to be the skinny one.” Gwen said, pushing the box toward Payton and turning back to Ash. “We met at the support group. Not to be pointed, but how are you handling the change?”

 

    “Mostly with pot,” Payton got in before Ash could respond and before she shoved a forkful of deep dish into her mouth.

 

    “Worked so far!” Ash retorted, leaning back in her seat. “But yeah, mostly just that. It sucked buying new clothes, but it wasn’t that bad really.” 

Gwen gave Ash a solidarity nod. The more people she met affected by the calorie serum, the less the whole thing felt like a death sentence. “Payton, why didn’t you introduce us sooner?”

 

    “At the time, it was because I wasn’t sure how much of my weird friend you’d be able to stand,” Payton replied, caught a bit off-guard and speaking with her mouth full of pizza. “But -- hey, ow -- I guess I should have been worried about you two teaming up on me,” she added, pausing after Ash punched her shoulder.

 

    Gwen shrugged. “I’m not opposed to the occasional teamup to take down a common enemy.” She nearly choked on her pizza after she said it. That was stupid. Cute little hints like that were a good way to let something slip. Fortunately, neither of the other girls seemed to pay the line much thought.

 

    “Ooh, long-time VC gal, huh?” Ash asked Gwen, one plump arm along the back of her chair while Payton rolled her eyes. “Midwestern gal over here isn’t that familiar with superhero lingo, but it’s everywhere in this town.”

 

    “I don’t pay it too much attention,” Gwen said, feigning indifference and reaching for another slice of pizza. “But the rate that buildings fall in this city means job security for me.” She glanced up at the two other women, both of whom seemed mildly horrified. Might have oversold the apathy there, Lance. “I… Uh… I’m an architect. We tend to cope with dark humor.” 

 

    “How long have you been in the city?” Payton asked, curiosity starting to pull her back to the conversation and away from her pizza. Mostly, at least, as she ate another forkful after her question was asked.

 

    “Since college, so like… Ten years back?” She looked back and forth between the girls, realizing that they were both around college age themselves. Christ that made her feel old. Was this weird? She did the mental calculation: half of her age plus seven… Yeah, she was in the clear.

 

    “Oh, cool! So you’ve been here almost as long as Lancelot, right?” Ash asked, eyeing the pizza before Payton slid her a piece. Gwen choked on her drink.

 

    “What?” She asked. “I mean, how long has Lancelot been here?”

 

    “About ten years or so! She’s a staple of the city at this point,” Ash added, Payton watching with some amusement. “She even took down a few heroes that went evil after she got hit by that fattening stuff too!” Payton’s expression changed to a slight frown at that last bit, tilting her head at Ash.

 

    “Huh… well yeah. I guess I didn’t notice… uh… How about that election coming up?”

 

    “Wait, a superhero got hit by the calorie serum?” Payton asked, looking at Ash with some confusion.

 

   “Yeah, dart and everything! I think she was the first bigtime case of it,” Ash explained, looking more animated than her more chill demeanor just moments before. “She got nailed with it and then had another incident a few months later.” Payton’s eyes flicked over to Gwen before Ash continued. “She’s a damn legend.”

 

    Gwen caught the look Payton was giving her and averted her gaze. “She’s hardly the only superhero hit with that stuff. I prefer Diode. Have you seen that hair?”

 

    “Eh, Diode’s alright. Fountainhead was the one who showed up for us, but they’re both pretty new. Lancelot’s the best in the city,” Ash hummed.

 

    “Are you actually proud of someone else?” Payton asked, only half-joking.

 

    “Hell yeah! She’s awesome! She has super speed and everything,” Ash grinned, a bit of sauce on her cheek. “Honestly, I’m surprised you haven’t paid more attention - she’s got blonde hair and a huge-”

 

    “Okay, that’s far enough down divulging-things-told-to-you-in-confidence lane for today,” Payton sighed, interrupting Ash before she divulged anything else. “The dangers of being friends with a pothead.”

 

    “Yeah, I guess I never paid much attention to her. Anyway…” She stood from the table “This was fun, but I’m sure you both need to get back to work.” She scooted out of the booth as quickly as her anatomy allowed. 

 

    Payton looked up at Gwen, surprised considering about half the pizza was left. “You sure? I can stretch things a bit longer, I usually get an hour for lunch,” she offered, standing up as Gwen made her way out of the booth.

 

    “Yeah, my roommate needs my help moving… the fridge. I’m late already and our apartment is like eight blocks away, so it’ll take...” her eyebrows knitted. “three hours to get there?” 

 

    Payton frowned again but nodded at Gwen. “Alright. I get off work around 7 or so, if you’d want to do something tonight?” She offered, a little put out by Gwen’s impending departure and the curious behavior leading up to it. Gwen stopped and looked up at Payton and smiled.

 

   “Of course! Where should I meet you?”

    “Probably somewhere besides another pizza place,” Payton joked, even as she started to close up the remaining deep dish. “What sounds good?”

 

    “Hmmm. A movie might be--” she looked down at the blinking light on her watch. “--shit. Payton, I might need a rain-check. I’ll call you, okay?”

 

    Payton nodded, giving Gwen’s watch a quick glance and trying her best not to just deflate in front of the blonde as she seemed ready to hurry out. “Okay. See you later, Gwen.” 

Gwen gave an apologetic smile, hurried toward the door in her curiously agile way and was gone. With that, Payton plopped back down at the table and took a deep drink from her chai latte, reopening the box of deep dish with a glum look on her face. “Can I get another, Ash?”

 

    “Yeah…” Ash murmured, her eyes following Gwen for a moment before shrugging. “Gonna be taking the rest of your lunch hour?”

 

    “Yep.”

 

    Ash patted Payton’s shoulder. “I’ll tell Brian.”

 

    “Yeah…” Payton replied, pausing for a moment, getting another bite of pizza, then glanced at her phone sitting on the table. “Thanks, Ash,” she added as the belly-heavy blonde made her way back to the counter, with Payton typing in a search on her phone: Lancelot “Valiant City”...

Chapter 9 - Something I Want You to Know

“Running from an Angel” – Hootie and the Blowfish

 

    Lance sped to the locations indicated on her watch. She’d changed into her costume about a block away from the coffee shop and was now running at a relatively relaxed two-hundred miles-per-hour. The alert had been an investigation requiring her assistance rather than a crime in progress, and she was doing her best to swallow her frustration at being called away from Payton for something so low priority.

 

    “This had better be important,” she spat into the communicator when there was a request to open a com-channel.

 

    “Wow. You’re not usually that prickly... Or is it just because it’s me?” 

Lance felt a lump rise in her throat as she finally checked the caller ID.

 

    “No, Fox. I was annoyed about something else. I’m sorry.”

 

    “I’ll try not to take it personally. I thought you would be here by now, I was calling to make sure you were alright.” Lance screeched to a halt outside the police station right next to where Knight-Fox was standing on the curb.

 

    “I wasn’t going full speed,” she admitted. Knight-Fox jumped when she realized that the seven-hundred pound blonde was now standing beside her. 

 

    “Christ, you’re still the only person who can sneak up on me you big dork.” She punched  Lance in the shoulder and Lancelot put on her best smile. Despite her efforts, Knight-Fox picked up on her discomfort. “Look, I get that this is weird, but we still need to be able to work together. It’ll get easier as we go.” 

Lance nodded. “I trust you. Show me what we’ve got here.” 

 

     “Brace yourself.” Knight-Fox pushed the door to the police station and the smell poured out like heat out of an oven. There were bodies everywhere. They couldn't have been there for more than a day, but the summer heat and the recycled air hadn’t done them any favors.

      “Christ on a stick,” Lance gasped. “Is it the whole station?” 

 

      “And everyone in the holding cells. The only one missing is--”

      “Tulio,” Lance interrupted. “You wouldn’t have called me here if it wasn’t one of my perps. Did he do this?”

 

      “I think it’s more likely that this was done for him. He’s crafty, but not usually the ‘murder an entire police station’ type.”

 

      “So someone else wanted him out and didn’t want to have to wait.”

 

      “Which means they’re planning something. Probably using the calorie serum.”

 

      “I thought so too. That’s your department. Want to take a look around?”

 

      “Nah,” Lance said, turning toward the door. “You’re more the sleuth type. If there’s anything to find, you’ll find it. Any leads on where he might be now?”

 

      “Nothing,” Fox admitted. “He might not even be in the city, but I know that’s not going to stop you from doing a full search.”

 

      “You know me pretty well.”

 

      “Not well enough.” Both of them cringed, but the damage was done. There was no reason to tip-toe around the issue anymore.            

      “Lance... when you left, I figured it was my fault. You’d never been with a girl, and you were vulnerable. I thought I’d pushed you into something you didn’t want, but I’ve heard you’re seeing another woman, and…”

 

      Lance sucked air in between her teeth. “You’ve been talking to Fountainhead?”

      “Diode.” Knight-fox shrugged. “I just thought I had closure, and now I’m not quite sure what went wrong.” 

 

      “If I was better at explaining that, I think I’d be on better terms with a lot of my exes.” 

They walked out of the building and  back onto the street. People passed by unaware of the carnage on the other side of the cinder block walls. 

 

      “You know, I always imagined you like James Bond. Saving the world every other week with a different romantic lead.”

 

      “I’m not sure I like that comparison.”

 

      “Do you ever wonder what happened to those Bond girls after every movie? Do you think things got stale, and he sat them down and told them that things weren’t working and they respectfully went their separate ways?”

 

       Lance shrugged. “I always figured they broke up with him once the learned what his priorities were.” 

Knight-Fox actually laughed. “Yeah, that would be your perspective, wouldn’t it? Either way, it was a thrill. I don’t regret my time with the world’s greatest superhero.” She’d meant it as a compliment, but Lance internally cringed. 

      “Call me if you pick up on any leads,” she said, breaking eye contact and speeding off into the distance. 

Chapter 10 - Stuck Inside These Four Walls

“Band on the Run” – Paul McCartney

 

    “It’s stupid,” Payton mumbled to herself, staring at the ceiling as she lay on her bed. “I mean… she can’t be, that’s nuts,” she added, taking particular interest in the popcorn texture that just about defined cheap apartments in Valiant City. Insomuch as one can be interested in the ceiling, at least, instead of it serving as the background to the constant buzzing in her head. A buzzing that suggested -- improbably, unbelievably -- that Gwen was a superhero, and not just any superhero, but Valiant City’s premier hero! One of the most prominent in the country, even the world, and Payton had come across her in a group therapy session at random. She kept telling herself that it was nuts to think this, to even consider… until she started going over the evidence she’d collected.

      First, there was no getting around that Gwen was an enormous woman -- beautiful, and not just in Payton’s own biased opinion -- that had, from the very cursory check of news articles and the like, revealed she had put on a fair bit of weight in the last couple years. That timeline matched, roughly, when Lancelot had first disappeared and then shown back up over 300 pounds. Gwen herself had a longer period out of the public eye, but she had returned at what looked like her current weight -- or close to it -- a few weeks after Lancelot had been seen fighting with several villains at a much more corpulent size. Since then, both had been in the city at the same time, though Lancelot was far more prominent in social media and the news. It was hard to shake the picture of the plump blonde being under the mask, even if Payton found it hard to believe.

      Second, and this one had taken a bit of work on her part, Gwen seemed to have just a little too much information on hand about the happenings of superheroes in the city. Sure, someone could find almost all the information she’d mentioned -- the name of Fountainhead, despite saying she didn’t really pay attention to a lot of hero stuff, the way she talked about crime scenes and incidents -- but it wouldn’t have been easy. Payton had needed to go back through her own conversations with Gwen. She wasn’t sure she got everything, and she knew it was easy to find instances that would match her theory even if it wasn’t true, but it did little to set her mind at ease. 

      And third… third was the last couple days. What was supposed to be a call and meet up the night of their lunch -- which had ended abruptly after Gwen seemed ready to stay -- had turned into a few of Payton’s texts that had gone unanswered, and now she was on her second day of radio silence. Sure, ghosting was a thing, and she kind of worried about being too pushy, but it was a bit… well, she couldn’t say unlike Gwen, not when their first not-quite-date had ended the way it had, but it had her wanting to reach out, to make sure things didn’t fall apart, odd as they were.

      “It’s nothing,” Payton huffed. “She’s gotten busy at work, or something from our conversations touched on things she wasn’t ready to talk about. It’s just normal dating stuff.” 

 

      And yet… 

      Payton shook her head again, reaching over to where she had tossed her phone after getting home from work. “I’ll just… give her a call. That’ll help,” she muttered, pulling up Gwen’s contact info. She heard the first ring after double tapping her name.

       The warehouse where Tulio had been arrested had already been worked over by BSD operatives, and Gwen wasn’t much of a detective. Still, after hours of patrolling the city with no results, she’d decided that it was at least worth her time to check. But the warehouse itself was a bust: no paperwork leading back to an employer,  secret panels, or hidden machinery. There was only one last place to check. 

      She slid sideways into Tulio’s office through the unaccommodating thin door, placing a hand on her belly after it made its way through to stop its wobbling in a gesture that was nearly second nature at this point. 

      Underneath Tulio’s desk was a hole in the ground with a ladder. It was how he’d initially tried to escape and the last place Gwen needed to look. The hole was around four feet across, and, while Gwen didn’t know her own diameter off the top of her head, she was willing to bet it was over four feet. Still, if there was anything she’d learned in her time as a fat girl it was how remarkably compressible fat was. 

      Another benefit to her powers was that she was surprisingly limber. She’d gotten herself stuck in small spaces before, but between clever contortions and the ability to vibrate her body at super speed, she’d always managed to unstick herself without incident. She took in a deep breath, sucked in her tummy as much as she could, and lowered herself into the hole. Her ass and thighs got stuck first. She wriggled, flexing her cheeks and letting gravity help and slid down to her belly. She sucked in to no avail and finally was forced to physically compress and lift her gut to slide in further. She hoped there was a larger space at the bottom, but the hole was deep enough that she couldn’t be sure.Her upper body fit in more nicely but her compressed belly pressed her tits into her face, making her climb down a blind endeavor where she actually had to look upward to breathe. 

      She pressed downward, forcing herself lower and lower. Hands unable to reach the rungs of the ladder and back pressed against the wall for balance. One foot at a time she descended at a maddeningly slow pace. This had been a bad idea. She’d find another way back up on her way out, even if she had to dig her own tunnel. It was while she was determining the logistics of avoiding drilling into the east river that her foot slipped and she fell a good three feet before her own girth trapped her in place. Now fully upright she placed both hands on the walls to prevent from falling further and looked around. It was dark. It was nighttime when she began her search, and there wasn’t any power in the building, so even the tunnel entrance above her was nearly invisible. 

      She kicked her legs, but was unable to find the rungs of the ladder, and with no way of looking she couldn’t figure out where they were. he grabbed the ladder rungs in front of her. She was strong enough to easily move her body, but at this angle and fighting against the added pressure put on her by the walls of the tunnel, she couldn’t pull herself up. She tried vibrating to loosen the friction of her ass and belly against the edges of her prison, and while that did help, gravity continued to be an issue. She slipped down another twenty feet before coming to stop.

      “Okay,” she said to herself trying not to breathe too heavily as claustrophobia set in. “Bad idea. Let’s not try that again.” It was just as she was realizing that she might need to call for backup when her phone rang. She answered without bothering to check the caller ID, eager to hear another human voice to help her calm down.

      “Talk to me.” She said into the phone, simultaneously summoning a truncated version on her lance around her left arm and cocking her elbow back, ready to punch her way out if necessary. 

      “Uh, hey,” Payton started, a little unsure of the tone in Gwen’s voice. She frowned a bit as she shifted on the bed. “It’s Payton -- is this a bad time?”

      “Oh. Payton!” She said, surprised and doing her best to take the “business” tone out of her voice. “No, I’ve got time. I’m kinda… stuck… on something at work. I could use a break to talk to you.”

      A little brightened by the response, Payton rolled over onto her stomach and set her phone down in front of her with the speaker on to get more comfortable. She debated slow walking her concerns but decided to just try and be honest. Well, at least about the delays and not the “hey, I think you’re a superhero” part. “What’s up? I hadn’t heard from you since lunch. Is everything okay?”

payton and lancelot.png

      “Oh, yeah there was just an… architecture emergency. One guy did the plans in metric, and the other guy used imperial. It’s a big thing.” She relaxed, fairly confident in her lie and genuinely happy to hear from Payton. “But we should get together again soon. As soon as I get out of this we can -- AAAAGHY!!” There was a scream from Gwen’s end of the line as she relaxed whatever muscles had been holding her in place and dropped another dozen feet. 

      “Gwen?!” Payton yelped, bolting upright on her bed and taking the phone off speaker almost as soon as she had gotten comfortable.

 

      “Gwen, are you okay?”

 

      “I’m fine,” Gwen insisted through gritted teeth. She’d stopped her fall with one shoulder and scraped herself up pretty good, but already her accelerated healing was getting to work on fixing the damage. “There was a spider,” she said. She raised her arm, but didn’t have the angle she needed to hit the wall. She rolled her eyes and resolved to hit the wall behind her with her elbow. “But I’m thinking…” She punctuated the word striking with an elbow jab a the wall behind her that shook the tunnel. “That he won’t be a problem…” Another bang and crumbling sound that could be heard through the phone. “Much… longer.” A final smash and the sounding of tumbling rubble as Gwen was set free and dropped to the ground below the tunnel.

      Heart still thumping in her chest, Payton swallowed and tried to breathe out nice and slow. “Um, that’s good,” she managed, her voice still wavering. Is this what it would be like? If she really is… her thoughts came to a halt as she breathed in again, trying not to dwell on her anxieties. “I know they can be really tough. Uh, spiders,” she added, wincing for a moment at how awkward it sounded. “Yeah, though, we should definitely -- we should definitely do something soon!” She managed, starting to slowly relax. “What’d you have in mind?”

 

      “Ummm…” She said, getting to her feet from where she’d landed on her ass. “I don’t know how soon I’ll be available. Usually, I’m pretty free whenever, and I’m in it pretty deep right now.” She touched the side of her visor, activating a night vision mode and glance around. It looked like an old subway tunnel. Apparently this lead had been a bust too. She turned to survey the damage that she’d done to the wall, wanting to make sure she hadn’t caused any structural instability, when she saw it. Running down the shaft and up to Tulio’s office was a fiber-optic cable embedded directly into the rock. It hadn’t been the city that placed it there. If it was still active, the BSD might be able to trace it back to Tulio’s boss. She was so distracted by the wire that she didn't hear Payton’s response until the second time she said it.

 

      “Sorry, I got distracted. What did you say?”

      “I said, what’d you have in mind? Anything that you would want to do?” Payton’s frown deepened, not sure exactly what kind of architect emergency would result in all of the noises from Gwen… or if she entirely believed the spider story. “I know we’ve done a lot of pizza, so maybe we could try something else, maybe a movie.”

      “Yeah, Pizza sounds good. Hey, I’ve got to go. I think I’ve just figured this all out. I’ll call you soon.”

 

      “Uh, sure-” Payton managed before the line went dead. She sighed, shoulders slumping at how obvious it was that Gwen was distracted -- so much so that she didn’t even hear her suggestion for something other than pizza. None of it made sense… unless she’s Lancelot, a voice in her brain whispered. 

      “Shut up, brain,” Payton grumbled, rolling onto her back and pulling a pillow over her head. “Stupid feelings.”

 

      Tulio sat next to the old man. The devices they’d left at his old facility had picked up a phone call from Lancelot, but due to BSD encryption they hadn’t been able to decipher any of it. 

      “Well that was useless,” Tulio grunted, “We’ll have to shut down that site.”

      “Sir?” One of the techs stood from his computer. “We may have something. It looks like the call came from a private number.”

 

      The old man turned in his chair. “Were you able to trace it?” He asked, feigning disinterest.

      The tech nodded. “The number is the personal cell of a Ms. Payton Chris. Pulling up her address now.”

      “Is that something you can use?” the old man asked.

      “Maybe.” Tulio shrugged. “Have someone tail her. I’d like to see how close she and Lancelot really are.”

Chapter 11 -  I Always Find Something Wrong

“Runaway” – Kanye West

 

      It was fine. Totally fine. Everyone had hiccups and cancelled dates and weird, maybe slightly panic-inducing phone calls that made you stress-eat a pint of ice cream. It was fine...

 

      Except that it wasn’t. And to be honest, she was mostly frustrated with herself for ever googling Lancelot and spending a night (and half of her shift the next day) looking over the results and getting the idea that Gwen, beautiful and sweet and smart Gwen, was possibly the greatest superhero in the world. Because now, whenever something went a little weird or wonky -- Gwen leaving from a movie to ostensibly get some more popcorn and coming back with a smudge of something in her hair, rainchecks on short notice that always seemed to coincide with Lancelot doing something impressive in the city -- her mind jumped straight to My girlfriend(?) is a superhero who can run a billion miles an hour, and I don’t know how I feel about that. Truthfully, part of it felt awesome! Amazing, even! The idea that someone who could literally date just about anyone in the world they wanted -- yes, yes, the whole fat thing, but proximity to power can blur the line with many things and that included physical attraction -- had chosen her! Tiny, chubby, jogger, barista, dork, lesbian Payton Chris, special for nothing besides a few years of college credits abandoned when financial aid started getting cutbacks a few years ago. Gwen was special, and not just in the “Runs Around And Saves People” way; Payton would have called herself smitten but that exit was at least a few dates ago. 

           

      All of which is why the aftertaste of the situation left Payton feeling sick. She couldn’t be sure that Gwen really was Lancelot even though the evidence was circumstantial because it was becoming, not unlike Gwen, quite large. The uncertainty was one side of what was eating at her, now almost constantly. She’d never been one to really check local news or even social media too often, and she winced when she thought back to Ash chattering on to Gwen while she felt like she seemed oblivious because now she checked it every hour. Each news alert on her phone made her heart clench with worry for Gwen, even knowing she’d dispatched literally some of the strongest people on the planet. Then came the question of what if Gwen wasn’t Lancelot? Was she crushing on a superhero in the middle of dating someone she truly had fallen for? And if she was, why hadn’t Gwen talked to her about it at all? Payton didn’t exactly hide her worries, or the growing sense of unease that had crept into almost every aspect of her life, especially when those worries concerned Gwen. It wasn’t really a mystery why she was edging up toward 200 pounds, even with running a few times a week now (twice with Gwen), because lots of date meals and stress eating were doing just fine taking up any slack she’d made for herself calorically.

 

      “Excuse me?”

 

      Payton, elbow planted on the counter, boobs smudging the top, started, her eyes snapping to the customer waiting in front of her. This was the third time she’d spaced out with a customer waiting since she started her ill-fated internet searching. She cursed, hurriedly opening up the ordering software on her touch screen, a flush on her face. “Um, sorry. What can I get you?”

“Black coffee and a scone.” Ah, the new regular -- insomuch as someone can be a regular after four visits, even if they had been four days in a row. He was surprisingly tall and beefy for someone who seemed to be a writer -- why else would he just spend hours on his laptop all day. Payton had asked Ash in the dull moments of a shift, once the blonde had stopped ogling him, if he always ordered just those things, and he had every day he’d been in. That was a little odd for a chain known predominantly for adding all kinds of things to caffeinated drinks. Still, he was quiet and was polite enough to her, Ash, and the other customers. Not everyone has a secret identity, her brain scoffed at her.

      “$7.47,” she replied, and the man paid with his card a moment later. “Regular and a scone!” She added to Ash, giving the man her default smile. “Can I get anything else for you today?”

      “No thanks,” he said, flat affect as ever even with a similarly obligatory smile on his part. He went to the end of the counter where Ash was working on his order, which was possibly the fastest to make out of the entire menu, and Payton returned to her more relaxed posture at the register. Stupid brain. Stupid girls. Stupid hot, smart, sweet possibly superhero girls. BZZT BZZT. Speaking of which --

“I’m sorry for bailing last night. How does deep dish sound?” Payton frowned at the screen. A frustrated voice in her head suggest she pass tonight and just wallow. She could probably put a sizable dent in some of her Netflix queue if she stayed home. And yet…

She started typing a reply, hesitating on a heart emoji before instead going with a 100 one instead. She followed up with another message: “done at 7, around 8? maybe your place?”

    A few moments of the bouncing dots of doom on the chat window made the anxiety that had become more commonplace among her emotions reappear, blossoming into full frustration as Gwen’s reply came through after a few more starts and stops. “Would it be alright if we did your place?” Payton let out a frustrated groan, face falling into her hand for a moment as she took a deep, slow breath. She fired back a thumbs up emoji, not wanting to try and express the flash drive’s worth of unease and annoyance she was facing over text. She was going to talk to Gwen tonight -- she had to, if only for her sanity’s sake…

 

    Gwen set her phone down on the rooftop and sat with her legs hanging over the edge of the building. She was overthinking things, as usual. How could a thumbs up be interpreted as bad? Still, she was aware that she’d let Payton down the past few days. Maybe her concern about her being mad was more an admission than she wanted it to be. Gwen sighed. This was why she didn’t date civilians. She grabbed her phone and checked the time. It was 5:45. That was a lot of time to wait around, and despite her diligent patrolling over the past few days she hadn’t found anything. She didn’t want to spend her time chasing non-existent leads and distracting herself from her feelings. She’d prefer to focus on Payton. Maybe if she thought on it long enough she’d find the right answer.

 

    She ran, circling the city, passing over the same streets she’d already covered and letting her feet guide her while her brain untangled her anxieties and thoughts listed themselves in time with her footfalls. 

Payton was mad because she’d flaked more than a few times. Her boot gripped against the pavement and propelled her forward. Energy that would have cracked the asphalt beneath her was diverted back into her body causing her enormous belly and behind to jiggle in a way that would have looked absurd if anyone could see her moving at these speeds. 

 

    Counterpoint, Gwen had to flake from time to time. It was the nature of the job. Some things were more important than pizza with a girl, no matter how cute the girl was. Her heel skidded on red clay by the docks, leaving a long trough baked into the wet earth as she whipped around, fighting against her body’s own inertia, and turned to run the other direction, breasts and belly slapping back into place as they were pulled away from their natural course. She was lucky she had accelerated healing or her titts would be dragging on the ground by now, fat or not.

 

    Point three, Gwen hadn’t had to flake every time. She’d panicked on their first date and she’d left for a briefing the day they’d met at the coffee shop. There wasn’t any reason she couldn’t have waited… except that she hadn’t wanted to. She jumped and kicked off the side of a building, propelling herself upward and forward until she was running on roof-tops. Each jump sent shock waves through her at the speed of sound as her powers coaxed reluctant flab to move where she wanted. 

      Fundamentally, Lance understood that someday this wouldn’t be possible anymore. Some mook would get lucky with a syringe, or she’d lose focus on Krystal’s curse long enough that she’d lose her mobility and then that would be it. No more running.She needed to savor every moment of speed she could. She needed to live as best as she could with whatever time she had left. Even if that turned out to be decades, Gwen didn’t intend to waste any of it. She made a beeline out to sea as she continued thinking. She wasn’t going to trade living life to the fullest for some boy.

    The thought hit her so hard she actually came to a complete stop in the middle of the ocean and dropped like a sack of potatoes under the water. Where had that come from? She thought as she sunk lower. Her hair flowed around her as she descended and floated up at the edges of her vision like tentacles reaching for the surface. It had been something of a mantra for her since she’d been accepted to the BSD, ever since her old PR manager had tried to set her up with a kid from some boy-band. Romance was the killer of dreams and careers. It was a priority sink and not something worth thinking about. It sounded cynical, but it wasn’t wrong. She didn’t want to force herself to choose between a connection with someone and her goals, so she’d simply avoided connections.

 

    That was all well and good, but she’d let it control her.  “She wasn’t going to trade living life to the fullest for some boy.” Well, Payton wasn’t “some boy.” If someday she had to choose between her and being a hero, she’d cross that bridge when she came to it. It wasn’t fair to make Payton play a game she didn’t know the rules to. She kicked out of the water and raced eastward.

   

+++

    Lorenzo had run a pizza parlor for the past fifteen years. It was small but well established, and he rarely had any left-over pizza at the end of the night. Tonight was an exception. A British tourist had come in and ordered a pie to go, only to get frustrated with the wait time and leave without paying. Well, if he couldn’t appreciate that it took time to make an authentic italian pizza, then he didn’t deserve it anyway. Still, it broke Lorenzo’s heart to throw the finished pie away. 

 

    When he was still a half-dozen paces from the bin, there was a gust of wind that nearly knocked him off his feet. At first he thought he’d dropped the pizza on the floor, but to his surprise the pie was missing completely. On the counter sat a stack of four bills, each with a “20” emblazoned on the corner. His mouth dropped open when he picked them up and realized that they were american bills. He tried to calculate the exchange rate in his head, gave up and just accepted that he’d been well overpaid before closing up shop and resolving not to think about it too much until morning.

Chapter 12 - We Could Try

“Run” – Vampire Weekend

 

    The last few hours of her shift dragged on, especially after a drink spill that had caught her a bit in the splash zone. It didn’t help that thoughts of Gwen were accompanied by a flipping coin, one side shiny and hopeful, the other dark and anxiety-inducing. She didn’t know which it would land on. Smelling of coffee, generally bedraggled, and looking forward to a shower before Gwen came over, Payton got back to her apartment around 7:30 -- and found said blonde at the steps of her building, looking a little distracted. Despite her brewing frustrations from earlier, a tired smile crept to her lips and the lines on her face softened. “Hey there,” she called out as she got closer to the building.

 

    Gwen was lying on the steps of Payton’s apartment with a box of pizza on her belly and her phone held over her face. Upon hearing Payton’s voice, she dropped her phone in surprise and the screen bounced against her nose. She barely caught it before it could shatter on the ground. She sat up, too frazzled by the phone incident to remember the pizza on her belly and nearly dropped that as well as it started to slide down the slope of her gut. She caught that as well but couldn’t reach far enough around her own midsection to effectively pull it back up without seriously jostling the pizza. 

 

    “Hi Payton!” she waved. “Could I get some help?”

    Payton rushed forward, grabbing at the pizza. Her fingers bumped into Gwen’s belly enough to induce some wobbling as she steadied the box. She glanced at the name of the pizzeria and tilted her head in curiosity -- was that Italian? -- but turned her attention back to Gwen. “I wasn’t expecting you so early,” she said.  The half-smile was still on her lips, though it was a bit undercut as she wondered if Gwen’s reaction was possible for a hero. “But thank you for getting pizza.”

 

    “It’s my awkward way of apologizing for being so flighty lately,” she said, getting to her feet with an ease that was still surprising. “I want to say I’ll do better, but I can’t promise I won’t have to leave on short notice from time to time. Still,” she puffed out her substantial chest and placed her fists on her hips, “I’m willing to push back  if it means getting to spend more time with you.” She waited, hoping Payton would be happy about her new resolution.

 

    Payton’s smile brightened but only by a little bit. It was a start, at least, for the conversation she planned on having that evening with Gwen. “I appreciate that, thank you.” She held up the pizza box. “Is it okay if I get a shower before we eat?”

 

    Gwen’s eyes lit up, and she nodded. “I’d ask if I could join you, but I don’t think we’d fit.” 

    Payton chuckled at that, but the idea of that… well, she might have to make the shower a bit chilly. “Not in my shower. There are moments where I bump into the wall now,” she replied, opening the door which lead into the hall. Easy breathing… this doesn’t have to be a big deal, she thought to herself, even as some of that frustration bubbled again in her chest. “How was your day?” She asked a short way down the hall, unlocking her apartment door with keys and gesturing Gwen in.

 

    Hours of fruitless searching resurfaced on the forefront of Gwen’s memory. She nearly responded with a curt “fine” but thought better of it. She could be more honest than that at least.

 

    “Not awesome. I feel like I’m not making any progress at work, and it’s getting to me.” She looked around the small apartment. Compared to the one she shared with the Atomic Automaton, it was tiny. She stepped back to give Payton room to fit through the door. 

 

    Payton closed the door behind her on the way, gesturing with the pizza box toward the couch, coffee table, and folding dinner table between the back of the couch and the kitchen. “Take your pick! Not too fancy, but it’s home.” 

Gwen glanced at the folding chairs, did some mental math and then decided on the couch. “Is it just you here?” She asked, sitting down carefully and reaching sideways to place the pizza box on the couch. 

 

    “Yep!” Payton chirped as she kicked off her flats on the way to her bedroom. The distance to which was not very far at all, with even her short stride crossing it in just a few steps. She was already peeling off her shirt before she got to the door, calling out, “Make sure you leave a slice for me!” as she half-closed it. A few moments later, the sound of rushing water - after a rumble and a few bangs from the pipes, indicating that the plumbing seemed to be in as good of shape as the rest of the building.

 

    Gwen looked around, doing her best to ignore the scent of the pizza. Now that she was indoors, the flavors tended to hang in the air. She hoped Payton wouldn’t take too long. She thought about how long it took her to shower. Before she’d ballooned to this size, the shower depended on how long it took the water to come out of the spout. Now that showering had become a group activity it seemed to take an absurdly long time. She estimated that the true answer lay somewhere in the middle. That would put it between a couple of seconds and an hour. She slumped. This line of thinking was unhelpful.

 

    Instead, she put it in logistical terms. She knew all the parts that needed to be washed; could imagine how long that might take on a woman of Payton’s size. The hypothetical shower she was imagining quickly became more explicit, and she did her best to focus on something -- anything else, lest she need a cold shower herself. She’d need help with that anyway, and there was no one around to assist… no one except for Payton. She flicked the back of her hand, both in punishment and in hopes that the minor pain might be enough to distract her. 

 

    Thankfully for Gwen’s state of mind, Payton had chosen a bit of a quicker option -- she too had gotten a noseful of the pizza as they were walking in, and being on her feet had her wanting nothing more than dinner and her couch. Granted, it was still ten minutes or so -- enough time to get the coffee smell off her skin and mostly out of her hair -- when Payton reappeared in a loose t-shirt and yoga pants with slightly damp hair. Looking a bit less drained than when she’d arrived, Payton stretched as she walked from bedroom to her galley kitchen, shirt pulled up to show a bit of her soft belly. “Want anything to drink?”

 

    Gwen managed to pull her eyes off of the pale hint of belly long enough to answer. “Got anything sweet?” She asked, attempting to affect a more sexy pose, but quickly retreating after hearing a quiet crack from the couch and sinking an inch or two deeper into the cushions. She blushed. “I can pay for that,” she blurted.

 

    “It’s fine,” Payton chuckled, giving the fridge a bump with her hip to close it, a pair of soda bottles in hand. “That thing’s been with me since college anyway, and it started getting vocal after I got doused,” she added, holding out a bottle for Gwen and quirking an eyebrow when she saw how much of the couch was currently occupied by the blonde. “Though I might have to consider an upgrade sometime soon.”

 

    “I don’t want to brag or anything, but I’ve designed some of the apartments near your shop. I could probably get you a good deal on one of them. And I wouldn’t mind visiting you in a place where I could actually… y’know, fit.” 

 

    Payton frowned a little at that, the remark stinging more than she thought it would. “Well, I’d have to get a better job for that. This isn’t exactly ritzy, but it’s on budget for now,” she replied, trying not to come off too sharply and in turn offering a playful barb herself. “Or you could cut back on the pizza.”

 

    It was Gwen’s turn to be stung, not entirely hiding her hurt look behind a joke as she grabbed her first slice. “Not on your life.” She took a bite and immediately all insecurity was gone. The pizza was phenomenal, and she nearly choked as she went in for a second bite. 

 

    Payton winced when she saw her jab land, readjusting as she sat next to Gwen, her hip pressed against the other woman’s. “Sorry. I’ve been a bit stressed as of late, and my fuse is a little shorter than normal,” she sighed, grabbing a slice for herself. “I’m a little annoyed with Ash for cluing me into the whole superhero deal -- I keep checking the news to see if there’s anything going on and it’s starting to grate on me.”

 

    Gwen shrugged, guard momentarily down due to pizza. “I wouldn’t worry about it. We’ve got a pretty solid group here, and things almost never get too far out of hand.” 

 

    “Well, yeah, they are pretty great,” Payton replied, the bright half of that coin she’d been flipping in her head all day shining through a little, even as the other side came close after. “It’s just… hard not to worry.” She gulped down some pizza, glad for the momentary break while she gathered her thoughts. “It’s hard not to see them out there and wonder what it’s like, how that life is different, what dangers they have to face everyday.”

 

    “The bends,” Gwen turned to offer Payton another slice of pizza and saw the confused look on her face. “Eh… one of our heroes is a submarine guy. Sorry, I assumed you knew. It seems like you’ve been looking into this stuff.”

 

    “Anyone can deal with that,” Payton huffed back, still taking the slice of pizza just the same. Her heart thumped in her chest, hoping to coax Gwen out gently. “But like Lancelot! No one knows what she goes through. It has to be really tough.”

 

     “I think you probably have a better idea than you might think.” Gwen registered the spark of triumph in Payton’s eyes and suddenly was on her guard. “If anyone knows what she goes though, it’s us, right?” 

 

    “The fat part, sure,” Payton nodded, unintentionally emphasizing the budding double chin. “But having to do all the stuff she did already, while that big? Who knows what else comes up? She’s kind of incredible.” She glanced to Gwen, trying to gage her reaction. “It’s… impressive. And a little worrying.”

 

    “Worrying how?” She asked, curiosity getting the best of her. 

 

    Payton cleared her throat, hoping that her heart wasn’t going to crack a rib with its increasingly intense pounding. “Well, she goes out there just about every day, faces all kinds of things -- giant monsters, weird slimes, far too many people who want to kill her -- and just… she keeps doing it. And yeah, she’s gotten through everything so far, but what if she doesn’t? How would I --” Payton stuffed the remainder of her current slice into her mouth to try and cover up her slip. “Er, how would the city go on without Lancelot?”

 

    Gwen stifled a gasp. Her eyebrows knit together as she realized how thin the ice she stood on had become , and at her size, the surface could crack beneath her at any moment . It was uncanny the way Payton had put into words the same concerns she’d been feeling. Retreat was tempting, but she’d agreed to meet Payton as close to halfway as she could. She let out the breath she’d been holding.

 

    “Well, when I think about how I might not be able to do the things I want in the future it scares me, but it also motivates me to do the best I can right now. Lancelot probably feels the same way, and at the end of the day it’s her choice to do what she does. I’m sure she knows that.” She looked at Payton, paradoxically searching for both confirmation and a sign that she’d succeeded in deceiving her. 

 

    “You think so? About how she feels,” Payton asked, edging a little closer to Gwen, heart picking up its tempo. She felt like she was balancing on a cliff, not sure what would tip her over. 

 

    “I wouldn’t be surprised.” It was a near whisper as she leaned in close. Her own heart racing harder than it ever would from a run. 

 

    “What do you think she’s feeling, right now?” Payton hummed, teeth brushing against her bottom lip and a shaky breath following after as she felt the heat of Gwen, who was always a warm presence in the literal sense, bearing closer.

 

    The intent was obvious. Had Gwen not been so afraid of this exact thing happening, she would have picked up on Payton’s implication immediately. As it stood, she felt so unprepared to give up this part of herself that she retreated into panic and denial.

 

    “No idea!” She exclaimed. Pulling back and diving into another slice of pizza. “She should get a twitter or something so we can ask her.” She shot Payton a sideways smile which didn’t nearly reach her eyes as her breathing quickened and beads of sweat formed on her chest and forehead. 

 

    Payton blinked, jerking back a little at the sudden withdrawal; the warmth, the scent, the very presence of Gwen that she had been enjoying as much, if not more, than the pizza, all of it vanished and a chill went over her in its absence. “I… Gwen,” she began, her tone prodding even as she didn’t yet move to bridge even the smallest bit of the gap that had formed between them.

 

    Gwen’s perception slowed. Payton sat motionless, fixated on her and with frustration bubbling on her face. Gwen’s heartbeat quickened against her own relative speed. She stood, taking a step back and tripping over the arm of the couch, knocking over her soda, spill and glass hanging in the air. She’d fucked up. She replayed the conversation in her head, analyzing every innuendo and double entendre. Payton’s questions weren’t stumbling into dangerous topics. They were probing for confirmation. Lance had been so worried about Payton finding out her secret that she’d ignored how easy it might be to not only expose herself, but to hurt this woman at the same time. There was no easy way to handle this. It was time to sit down and face the music. 

 

    She eased herself back onto the couch, taking care to match her previous position and returned to normal speed. She was about to confess to everything when the glass she’d bumped earlier shot across the room and shattered against the wall, sending a sticky splatter against one window.

 

    “What the hell?” Payton blurted out, head turning sharply toward the sound. She frowned at the broken glass and soda on the spackle. “I…” she started, turning back towards Gwen with confusion.

 

    “I swear that was not on purpose!” Gwen inisted, holding up both hands palms up. 

 

    “So that was you?” Payton asked, trying to hold onto the preparation she’d been mulling since Gwen’s text. This was not how she pictured asking Gwen if she was Lancelot.

 

   Gwen grimaced. “Does that mean it’s not too late to deny it?”

 

    Turmoil reappeared on Payton’s face, auburn eyebrows knitting together as hurt flared in her chest. “Is that what you were going to do if I asked?” Payton pressed, trying not to let the pain she felt come through too strongly in her voice.

 

    Gwen blinked, not quite sure how to respond. In less than a second she had set herself up for both the end of her relationship and her career. She thought about explaining herself. Offering up reasonable reasons not to give up her secret identity and excuses about how difficult she had found keeping the secret to be. All of that evaporated under the fear of losing everything and all she could manage was a quiet “Please don’t be mad.”

 

    Payton breathed out heavily. She had expected to be frustrated, even angry, but what struck her most of all was just how much it hurt, this ache in her chest that felt like it was trying to drag her to the floor. “I don’t think,” she began after a few moments, blood rushing through her ears as she tried to breath out again. “I think it would be good if you could explain, please,” Payton finished, having moved herself a bit away from Gwen. The absence of that warmth now felt oppressive, making it hard for her thoughts to be clear.

 

    “Umm… Where do I start?” Gwen asked. Being hugely fat had the drawback of making it hard to retreat into oneself. No matter how uncomfortable Gwen felt, she was in front of Payton with nowhere to hide “I mean… it must explain some things, right?” She smiled, hoping to break  some of the tension, but Payton still waited, angry and imposing. “I should probably…” There was a blur, and suddenly the glass had been cleaned up and the spill was scrubbed from the wall.

 

    Payton blinked at the sudden movement, something that she knew happened only from looking at the effects of Gwen’s actions. She shook her head to clear it, then added a few more emphatic shakes, her loose hair bouncing a bit. “That’s not -- don’t deflect,” she stuttered, licking her lips with a suddenly dry tongue. Somehow, she sounded more sure of herself than she felt. “I want to hear it from you, not just… not just assume,” she added.

 

    Gwen stood, heart in her throat, and shrugged. “I’m Lancelot.” Immediately after she said it, she felt the kind of immediate anxiety of having done something that can’t be undone. She felt more coming, and she didn’t hold back. “That orange stuff you got sprayed with was designed as a weapon to use against me. Ever since that day I’ve been fat and only a few months after I defeated the guy that made it, I had a curse put on me that turned me into… this.” She gestured down at herself, staring into the canyon of cleavage and at the soft expansive belly beneath it. She felt herself nearing tears but bit it down and continued, “I’ve got it under control now, but I can’t seem to get any smaller. No matter what I try, I keep getting bigger and bigger… even if it’s just a pound or two a week.” She cringed again, but held herself t together for the time being. “Someday, I’m not going to be able to run anymore, and as much as I like you… and love being around you and hearing about you and talking to you… I don’t know if that’s more important than what I do, and I didn’t want to risk losing that any sooner than I had to.” She raised her chin defiantly, ready to take whatever Payton had to throw at her.

 

    Payton nodded, breathing slowly. She closed her eyes as she took in everything Gwen had said. Part of her was angry that she’d not even been given a choice; part of her was frustrated and wanted to insist that she would have listened and tried to help, even if it was just in moral support; but more than anything, she was trying not to just cave to the building ache in her chest, one that felt like it was trying to collapse her rib cage. 

 

      “I don’t… I don’t want to take that away from you, Gwen,” she finally managed after a few moments tense enough for her to feel a buzz in the air. “I meant it, about how it must be hard for Lanc -- you. For you to go through everything you have and still keep going out there, every day. I know I can’t understand everything that wei-” Payton stopped herself and let out a wry, watery chuckle before she continued, “Everything that burdens you. But I know that it won’t get easier if it all stays bottled up.”

 

    Payton took another deep breath, drawing herself up to all of her diminutive height. “And, as much as I enjoy the pizza… especially from Italy…” she added, glancing at the box with the same wry tone as before. “I… I know you can’t talk about everything, or even that you’d want to,” Payton continued, starting to build up a bit of steam, “but I would like to be at least given the chance to listen -- and to be able to make a choice about a relationship that I very much would love to continue, to grow, to --” she swallowed again. “To find out what it could become, together. And it really, really hurts that you didn’t trust me to make that choice.”

 

    Gwen cringed at the rebuke even as she felt anger rise up in her. How could she tell this woman that she wanted to try, but her confidence in the future of their relationship was far less certain. There had been so many people before her and none of them had worked out. Even now, Gwen felt that things could end here, and if not here a month from now, or a month after that. She took a deep breath.

 

    “Fine. Then let’s take this to its inevitable extreme.” She held out a hand to Payton.

 

    Payton looked down at Gwen’s hand and then back up to the vibrant eyes -- a mix of red and pink that should have been frightening, but that had only energized her when she saw them -- that held out as much an offering as the hand. She had asked Gwen to trust her, and as much as that wound was still raw, something stirred in her chest that felt a little bit like hope. She reached out for Gwen’s hand, her own trembling as she did so, and then exhaled.

 

    There was no change, no sense of movement. One moment they were in Payton’s apartment and the next they were somewhere else. This new place was definitely a level (probably several) over Payton’s cramped studio apartment. Filled with furniture that Payton knew was comfortable just from looking at it, hardwood floors that had a dull shine, and a kitchen that seemed to jump from a master chef’s dream, it took her a moment to fully realize just where they were. Granted, the well-worn streak leading to the front door helped the pieces click into place -- plus, a… robot?

 

    “Payton. I’d like to introduce you to my roommate, Atom.” She turned her toward a red robot with glowing green eyes, who was sitting on a couch holding a book and looking incredibly confused despite his expressionless face.

 

      “Ummm… Hello!” He raised one robotic claw and waved it. “Sorry about the costume, I just got back from a convention and--”

 

      “She already knows, Atom.” 

 

      “Oh, thank Christ. Hey, Payton. Nice to finally meet you.” He raised the book again, apparently going back to his reading. 

 

      “Holy shit,” Payton exclaimed, breathless and a little disoriented - the latter in equal measure due to the sudden, very disorienting change of scenery and the robot who was talking to her. “Um,” she began, the most eloquent she could manage at the moment, “N-nice to meet you too.” Her brain, running a little more slowly than… well, everything at the moment, she thought before half-turning to Gwen, even as she directed her comment to the hero she recognized as the Atomic Automaton. “You know about me?” The question was more curious than accusatory, glancing from Atom to Gwen and back.

 

      “She’s been obsessed as of late,” the robot said, not looking up from his book. He turned to Gwen. “She’s not moving in, is she? I don’t know if I could get her added to the lease.”

Gwen held up a warding hand. “Please stop. Too much.” Atom nodded and went back to his book. “Sorry.” Gwen said, nervousness evident on her face. “He’s got a dry sense of humor. Obviously, this is why it was a bad idea to have you over.”

 

      “I don’t know, he seems alright. Way more chill than Ash,” Payton offered, a crooked smile tugging at her lips and feeling some of the tension start to ease from her shoulders. “And we won’t bump into the furniture here, either.”

      “Not on accident, at least.” Gwen hesitated, suddenly panicked again. “Sorry. We might not be ready for flirting again yet.”

      Payton wiggled her hand in the universal gesture for “maybe, maybe not,” but her tone was much lighter as she said, “We can work on it.” She paused, realizing she was still holding Gwen’s hand. “If -- if you want to. And, um -- and we can be honest with each other.” 

Gwen nodded, a smile spreading across her face. “Deal.” Her smile turned devious. “But if you thought things were weird before, you’re in for quite the ride.”    

      “At least this time you won’t try and tell me you had to kill a spider,” Payton quipped back. Some of the weight on her shoulders began to lift -- much of it for what felt like the first time in months. “What did happen on that call anyway?”

“How do you know I wasn’t fighting a giant spider?” She did her best to sell it, but Payton looked dubious. “Fine,” Gwen sighed. “I misjudged the size of a tunnel and kinda got… stuck.”

     

      Payton’s eyebrows went up at that, but she held back her reply with a bit of a smirk and a light flush of her cheeks. “That, I feel like, we can talk about later,” she said after a moment of composing herself. “And… other things, if you’d like. But we don’t have to do all of that tonight,” she added, not wanting to push Gwen too quickly.

 

      “No,” Gwen interjected, only realizing after the fact how eager she sounded. “I mean… It’s a long way from your place. You can stay over if you want.”

 

      “Jesus Christ.” Both women turned to the Atomic Automaton. He closed his book and stood. “I’m going to my room. You two feel free to do the same.” The door slammed behind him, and the women were left alone. 

 

      “I forgot about the robot,” Payton admitted, looking over to Gwen with some guilt. “He seems nice though.”

Gwen nodded, blushing furiously. “He’s probably going to be your favorite. The others are a bit more complicated.”

      “Well,” Payton began, confident beyond what was probably reasonable, though that seemed about par for the course right now. “I don’t plan on going anywhere, so we can take that on when you’re comfortable.”

     

      “I could go for comfortable,” Gwen admitted. “My room’s that way if you want to get acquainted while I get snacks.”

 

      “Not satisfied by the pizza?” Payton hummed, a glint in her eye. 

      She waved her off. “Just a little hungry. Make yourself comfy. I won’t be long.” 

 

      “Alright,” the shorter woman chirped back, coming in close and then going up on her tiptoes to give Gwen a feather light kiss. “Grab whatever you want,” she added, her tone just as playful but with a husky edge. She moved past Gwen, hands trailing gently across her belly and hip, trying very hard not to hum or skip or dance in what she would describe as an extremely unsexy manner. She managed to make it all the way past and most of the way to the door before feeling an unexpected pat on the ass. She spun to find Gwen on the other side of the room pretending to be distracted with something else, but a tactless glance followed by a smirk and shrug gave her away.

      Payton laughed warmly, sticking her tongue out at Gwen before she turned back toward the hallway. She had to admit, Gwen had a point about a nicer apartment. Maybe after a few more month’s savings, she mused, following Gwen’s direction until she reached a room with the door ajar. She tentatively pushed the door open and let out a chuckle when she took in the room’s furnishings. In short, everything was generous in its proportions; from the bed, the  office chair in front of the computer, to another chair tucked between two bookshelves in the corner, everything was definitely built for a woman of Gwen’s proportions. The thoughts that accompanied that observation only brought the stirring warmth back to Payton’s cheeks.

      As one might expect from someone of Gwen’s abilities, she didn’t leave Payton waiting long. She came in backwards, pushing the door open with one hip and turning to reveal a tray piled high with food and a two liter bottle of soda. She grinned as she kicked the door closed and gave it one final hip-check to be sure it latched, sending the stack of pancakes on the tray wobbling perilously. She righted it with expert precision and set the whole spread down on her night stand, a look of triumph on her face. She turned to Payton expectantly. 

      Payton met Gwen’s eyes after a moment of staring at the tray with some disbelief, not to mention the truly amazing smell of the pancakes before her. “Holy -- this is a snack?” She asked with face reddening, not entirely sure whether to believe her luck.

“Usually, I'm more of a popcorn and cranberry juice kinda girl, but since I’m giving up all my secrets, I thought it was fair that you do the same.” She waggled an eyebrow at Payton. “Don’t think I haven’t noticed all the clandestine looks at my belly or how eager you got when I mentioned getting stuck earlier.” 

     

      “That obvious, huh?” Payton asked, her face had gotten a few shades closer to her hair.

 

      “I mean, I try not to assume that most people are actually interested in all of… this” She grabbed at her belly, bouncing it for emphasis and causing her strained shirt to ride up revealing her navel. Payton’s eyes notably followed along with its progress before coming back up with a bit of a guilty look. “But you’re not just into big girls, are you?” Lance purred, stepping forward, forcing Payton back toward the wall. “I think you’re into the fact that I used to be smaller. That speedy, athletic Lancelot is now a big, blubbery fatty.” Payton’s back was against the wall, and Gwen’s belly began to press into Payton’s less substantial spare tire. “Am I wrong?”

Shaking her head quickly, Payton licked her lips in anticipation. “Bullseye,” she rasped out, her breathing a bit sharp and her eyes wide. She swallowed and took another quick breath.

      “Thought so,” she said, a glint in her eyes. “I’m not going to say I get it, but I can indulge you.” She nodded at the platter in the corner. “So how about we see how many of those pancakes we can fit in me?” 

      Payton watched Gwen intently, eagerly. “You -- you’re sure? I know you’re worried about gaining more,” she rushed out, trying to get control of her breathing. “I mean, I would -- I would love to, but only if you’re comfortable with it.”

      Gwen shrugged. “It was my suggestion, but don't confuse my eagerness for acceptance. You’re a fucking pervert.” She scooted in, pressing her closer to the wall with her belly. “You’re just the kind of pervert that I think I might be able to have some fun with.” She raised her chin. “But only if you’re comfortable with it, of course.”

      Payton nodded back with urgency, letting her hands come up to the blonde’s tubby belly -- tentative and slow, seeking permission before furthering the ascent of their evening. “I would really, really like that,” she hummed back to Gwen, hands still gentle on the mass of her gut.

      Gwen’s smile broadened, and it suddenly became obvious that Gwen had, at least to some extent, been grasping, hoping that whatever she said stuck. Now that it had paid off, she showed real excitement as she placed both hands on the wall on either side of Payton’s head and pushed backward letting herself fall onto the oversized bed. 

Chapter 13 - Two Young Lovers With Nothing Better To Do

Take the Money and Run” – Steve Miller Band

 

      “I’ve never done this before,” she admitted. “Think I’m going to have a good time?”

Payton took care to let Gwen reach the bed first before following, though her eyes had been out ahead of her. Her hands brushed against Gwen’s knees as her own came up right against the bed, then followed up the flanks of her extraordinary curves. Once they were on either side of her belly, Payton leaned forward so that her own hips and middle could press against Gwen’s. “I think so,” she purred, voice soft and warm as she drank in the sight before her. “You already have a wonderful appetite.”
 

      “I wasn’t lying when I said I was hungry,” she said. “Although…” a quick glance at the pile of food on the nightstand, “I may have overdid it a bit.”

 

      “If this is just ‘a bit,’ I’m a little concerned and maybe a little curious about what would be a lot,” Payton replied, a smirk on her lips as her eyebrows quirked upwards. Her thumbs traced against the curves of Gwen’s sides, hands staying planted to keep from leaning too much on the other woman. “Have you had this much before?” 

 

      “I tend to overeat after a big run. Take out a bad guy; consume a weeks worth of calories.” She shrugged into the blankets, blushing a bit. “It’s not particularly dainty.” 

 

      Payton’s smirk grew at that, leaning a bit more into Gwen. “Not that you need to be a pig with this unless you want to be, but dainty is for Victorian novels. Dainty is about restraint -- this is about enjoying yourself.”

      Gwen shivered and the resultant ripple that passed through her body was amplified by her size passing through her belly and into Payton’s. It was a precipice. In that moment, Gwen wasn’t indulging some kink -- she was preparing to indulge herself, and it suddenly became very clear that she was going to enjoy it, not just for the food or the contentment that came with being full, but for the implicit, lustful nature of what was about to happen. She didn’t want to be fed to get full; she wanted to be fed to get off. She pulled her shirt up farther, letting her enormous, round belly wobble unconstrained against Payton’s more modest muffin top.

 

      “Feed me?” She asked, quiet and nervous. That question stood in for a dozen others. 

      As her breath caught at the warm and soft expanse before her, Payton only let her eyes dip down for a sip of Gwen’s belly. Instead, she let herself lean more heavily into the superhero that lay before her -- even as her brain still reeled at that thought -- and spoke gently in return, as much to reassure as it was to be a promise: “As much as you want.”

    Gwen resisted the urge to grab Payton and have her for herself, but the idea of leaving someone else in control was as exciting as it was unfamiliar. Gwen tended to take charge in relationships. Even after her initial transformation, her place as BSD’s top hero had given her the advantage when it came to dominance in any relationship. She gravitated toward that role naturally, and it was generally expected of her by her partners. Payton was different, though. Even now with Gwen’s identity revealed Payton wanted her for something different. Gwen had every intention of exploring that. 

    “What do you want to start with, my hungry girl?” Payton hummed again, one of her hands caressing up the side of Gwen’s bare belly, lazy circles being drawn by her fingertips on smooth skin.

    Gwen’s head rolled to the array of leftover breakfast food. “The pancakes look good,” she admitted. Her stomach actually growled in response, and she grabbed at it with both hands in an attempt to pacify it. Payton was still pressed against her gut and Gwen couldn’t help but feel mortified as the smaller girl smirked at her. She took her hands from her belly and covered her face with both arms. “Don’t laugh!” she insisted. Unprepared to confront the grin she new was waiting behind her shielding fingers. 

 

    Payton pressed her palm against Gwen’s belly, giving it a light pat in the process. “Well, I know you weren’t kidding about being hungry,” she teased, green eyes alight with amusement as she slid the tray along the bed, bringing the pile of pancakes closer to where they were laying. “And you can have as much or as little as you want.”

 

    Gwen ate cautiously at first, obviously feeling a bit vulnerable, but as the stuffing continued, and as Payton’s excitement became more obvious, she began to take more pleasure in the decadence of what they were doing. She’d made her way through most of the pancakes, and though she wasn’t full, she was starting to feel a bit of discomfort.

 

    “Ooof. Could you grab me something to drink?” She asked. Payton responded attentively, and while the smaller woman’s back was turned, she purposefully tipped the fork-full of pancake she was holding and let a dollop of syrup spatter onto her shirt.

 

    “Ooops!” She said as payton turned around. “Sorry, I spilled. Help me out of this shirt?”

 

    Payton had an eyebrow up with amused suspicion, but she held her tongue as she slid her hands up the curves of Gwen’s side. They reached the hem of her shirt, grabbing a little pinch of pudge before she pulled it up gently, all while keeping her eyes locked on Gwen’s pink and red ones -- with significant effort on her part.

 

    The shirt lifted, exposing the undersides of Gwen’s breasts, which wobbled and jiggled with each of Payton’s attempts to remove the shit. Unfortunately, the stubborn garment refused to budge.

 

    To say Gwen deflated would have been accurate if it weren’t for the ironic nature of that metaphor.

 

    “I… guess it’s time to retire this shirt?” She asked, looking to Payton for approval.

 

    Payton hummed back playfully, “Only a few pancakes in and already too big for your clothes. You know how to charm a girl.”

 

    Gwen clucked her tongue.”My wardrobe has always been a bit temporary. It was bound to happen eventually.” She tugged at it a bit more with no success until there was a sharp tearing sound followed by the further deepening of Gwen’s blush. 

 

    Payton grinned back, her hands sliding around the hem to search for the rip, finding it along Gwen’s side at the seam. “Not every day that you get to be with a girl literally getting fatter in front of your eyes,” she teased, already starting to pull at the rip and feeling a few seams break under her efforts.

 

    She sighed as more seams burst. “Honestly, I feel so huge right now. It’s different. Usually, I try to ignore all of this.” She sucked in a breath, expanding her diaphragm and ripping the shirt further.

 

    “Yeah?” Payton replied, her voice raspy, Gwen breathing in making her feel like that same air was being stolen from her lungs. 

 

    “I mean… I don’t have a problem getting around or anything. I don’t often think about it until I catch someone staring or get stuck in a doorway. I catch you staring a lot.” Her blush didn’t ebb, but a smirk touched the corner of her mouth. “It still makes me feel like a cow, but it’s a little more fun when it’s you.”

 

    Payton’s resulting hum came from deep in her chest, a warm sound that set just enough vibration through her figure for Gwen to feel it while the auburn haired woman was pressed up against her. “I like to think of you as a well-fed Queen, ready to defend her realm so her people can feast as well as she can,” Payton purred, teeth sinking into her lip a little, trying to savor every moment instead of jumping a few pages ahead, much as that appealed.

 

    Gwen wiggled her hips. Bouncing Payton a bit. “Cut the hero worship, cutie, and get this shirt off of me.” 

 

    “Yes, ma’am,” Payton purred back, fingers letting go of Gwen’s belly and again gripping her shirt. Opting for the more direct route, she tore at the seam quickly, just barely stifling a moan. 

 Gwen chirped a laugh as her heavy breasts burst their confines and rolled out on either side of her chest. Her blush spread down her neck and across the pale expanse of her flesh as Payton got her first look at her exposed upper half, not that Gwen’s massive form had left much to the imagination. 

      “You said no hero worship, but it’s a little hard when you are literally a hero and all I want to do is worship you right now,” Payton groaned, one hand falling back to Gwen’s side and having her thumb brush against the plump curve of one of her boobs.

Gwen stifled a moan but took Payton’s palm in one chubby hand and pulled it away. “Food first. Then you can play.” 

      “As you wish,” Payton hummed back, giving Gwen’s hand a squeeze before she pulled the tray closer. “Care for a little help?”

Gwen opened her mouth, letting Payton feed her and enjoying being doted on so much that she ate far passed when she’d normally have been full. She considered jump starting her metabolism to make room for more, but when she watched the way Payton placed her palm against her much firmer belly, she decided to hold off. She groaned and patted her own stomach. She could reach her navel with some squeezing, but now, with her flesh pulled taut it was out of reach. She whimpered, momentarily worried about what she was doing to herself.

      The situation was not helped by Payton being more attentive than the sheer amount of Gwen in front of her suggested was possible; she would make sure to brush the firmest portion of Gwen’s belly just so and apply just enough pressure to help ease the overfed blonde in digesting the stacks of pancakes that seemed to melt before them both. She kept from partaking too much in the sins of the flesh, as she had been told once upon a time in the Midwest -- a saying she now only recalled to laugh at -- to help sate Gwen’s appetite. And all the while she made  little hums and sighs and coos, interspersed with gentle questions or reassurance as Gwen’s titanic belly bloated out more heavily.

      “God, I’m so fat,” Gwen moaned as she rubbed her belly. She turned and reached for the soda bottle but realized that she wouldn't be able to move close enough without serious discomfort. 

      At that, Payton did let out a moan, one of her hands squeezing Gwen’s belly as her building flush spread down her neck and onto her chest. Her breath hitched before she could get herself back to a semi-respectable baseline, and her face was a very distinct shade of red as she reached for the soda. “S-sorry,” she said, a bit of a coy smile on her lips. “Pervert, like you said.”

      Gwen took the soda from her, cocking an eyebrow. “Oh? You like it when I talk fat? I am pretty huge.” She did her best to jiggle her belly, but the dome of flesh was now so taut that all she managed to do was give herself some major discomfort. She groaned. “Okay, here’s the deal.” She uncapped the soda. “I’m going to chug this, and when I’m done I expect some serious attention, so you’re going to have to work yourself up for me.” She grinned an evil grin. “Let’s find out how much of a pervert you are.” She rubbed gentle circles in the section of her belly she could still reach. “Tell me I’m fat. Describe my body to me so that I don’t forget how huge I am, and then when I’m done, you can play with me however you’d like. Sounds good?” She raised the bottle to her lips, waiting expectantly before taking the first gulp.

      Payton didn’t dare blurt out the first thing that came to mind -- that she wouldn’t need much at all to get going, not with someone she was trying not to think of as a blonde, blubbery goddess stuffing herself before her. Instead, she eagerly nodded, putting her hands against Gwen’s belly again and feeling the pressure under the smooth skin. “Better than good,” she managed, her brain taking a moment to catch up with her circumstances but coming back with a vengeance once it did. “Because talk fat, walk fat, just about everything you do is huge, Gwen, and you’re gorgeous. You’ve got a belly that’s heavier than I was before I got sprayed and probably an ass that’s on the same level.” Payton started to slowly rub Gwen’s belly as she felt soda swell it out further, feeling the bubbles that came from each gulp.

 

      “I think I could die between those thighs of yours, either being squeezed or suffocated, and fuck I would take that in a heartbeat,” she purred, hoping to egg Gwen on.

      Gwen moaned around the lip of the bottle, her legs writhing beneath the weight of her fat belly as her toes curled. She opened one eye and smiled at Payton, pausing only for a moment to catch her breath before sucking down more soda. 

      “You were right, you know,” Payton continued, her heart thumping around in her chest in ways that would make most doctors deeply concerned. “Seeing how you looked before, compared to now. You’ve always been beautiful, but now, four, maybe five times what you used to weigh? Getting fatter by the day, inching out wider as your weight creeps higher?” Payton pressed in closer, her own bowling ball tits resting on Gwen’s belly while her hands shifted to the sides of that bloating orb. “You are sublime, a work of art that no museum could do justice. And you’re only getting more so with each and every sip.”

      Gwen paused, eyes widening as she looked up at the woman lying across her belly. Her heart beat in her chest hard enough for Payton to feel it hammering against her own expanded bust. She popped the soda-bottle from her mouth, careful not to spill the remaining liquid, and looked up at her own expanded lover. 

      “If that’s the way you feel…” Gwen started, “Then there’s no way I’m letting you get any smaller either.”

 

      Payton’s breath left her in a sharp exhale, that promise sending a shiver through her that was very unexpected and ended with a throb in her core that made her legs squeeze together  around one of Gwen’s immense thighs. She’d always been on one side of this particular kink, watching with interest and occasionally reaching across the line but only to encourage or play or feed a little. Now it seemed that Gwen was pulling her right across that line and god help her, the feeling that brought to her was hot. Another part of her was more than a little uneasy with the idea that she might never get smaller than she was now, or even might grow bigger -- but if anything, that unease only made her heart beat harder.

 

      “Find yourself liking that I’m more stacked than those pancakes you’ve demolished?” Payton teased back, her breath still a little out of her grasp, and her blown pupils suggesting just how much she was enjoying the push and pull.

 

      Gwen blinked in surprise, losing some of the confidence she’d had with that last push. “I just… I know how it feels,” she said. “And seeing it from the other side is...” She took in a sharp breath reaching up to grab what she could of Payton’s exposed tummy. “I love how fat you are.” She admitted, fingers sinking gently into the soft flesh. She nodded toward the bottle. “Help me finish the rest while I feel you up?”

      The tables turned on her some, and Payton could only nod hungrily as she tugged the tray parallel to where they lay. “Did I ever show you what I looked like before?” She asked, one hand rubbing at Gwen’s stuffed gut while the other gathered a forkful of pancakes.

Gwen squeezed harder for a moment, lips pursing and turning away out of shame. “You didn’t, but I might have looked up some old pictures out of curiosity. You were so tiny.” Her hands slid up Payton’s middle until they were around her ribcage with her thumbs splayed just under the cleft of the smaller woman’s substantial tits. “Even these.” She cooed. “It’s exciting how big you’ve gotten. I’m glad that you’re mine.” She squeezed, still not touching her breasts but the pressure beneath them was enough to lift them upward slightly as she grabbed around the doughy middle above Payton’s belly. 

      Payton’s thighs squeezed again on Gwen’s own, making her falter for a moment before she brought a heaping forkful of pancakes to the blonde’s lips. “I was a runner. State trophies, crossfit for a while, everything toned,” she rambled, finding the contrast between her old look and now a much, much more pleasurable concept than it had been without Gwen. “I didn’t have anywhere for it all to go but out.”

 

      “Oh, you’re not done running.” Gwen said taking one hand away from Payton’s ribs to wave it dismissively. “I’m like three times your size and it hasn’t stopped me. Besides…” She squeezed Payton again. “We have to keep you healthy for when you get bigger.”

      “And because maybe you like to see me in motion?” Payton ventured, her grin sly even as her face flushed red. “You’re not the only one who can see when someone’s checking her out.”

      “I plead the fifth.” Gwen insisted before taking another bite of pancakes from Payton’s waiting fork. “Oh god. I don’t think I’ve ever been this full.” Her eyebrows knitted together as she briefly surfaced from her excitement into sober reality. “I should probably burn some of this off before it sticks. Lately it seems like the scale only moves in one direction…” She looked up at Payton, hands still on her stomach and lust still in her eyes. “Eh… fuck it.” she said. Tugging Payton down the slope of her belly and kissing her deeply as she pressed warmly against her naked breasts. 

      For a moment, Payton considered that maybe she’d just died in the robbery a few months back, after all, fattening was a particularly weird way for any villain to get what they wanted, considering how convenient more simple methods could be. That itself sprung from the fierce insistence that she had to, simply had to be dreaming or dead because she was pretty sure she’d found heavenly bliss. Her arms shifted to keep her from smooshing all the way down onto Gwen’s face -- and not press too hard on the bloated orb of Gwen’s gut -- just about any other conscious thoughts vanished. Between the warm press of her lips against Gwen’s and plump curves at what seemed like every direction, Payton’s toes curled as she leaned into the kiss, one hand coming up to run through blond locks. Her lips broke with Gwen’s for a moment, just enough to get some air, and a brief thought of talking more popped up in her head - only to be quashed as she caught a glimpse of Gwen’s eyes, diving back in to renew the kiss. Talking’s overrated, she thought to herself happily.

Chapter 14 - Strap Your Hands 'Cross my Engines

“Born to Run” – Bruce Springsteen

 

    Gwen woke up the next morning little spoon to the much smaller woman lying behind her. At some point in the night they’d both ended up in a state of undress, or at least Gwen assumed so. She flexed her thighs, searching for the familiar pressure that a pair of panties put on her hips but without any significant confirmation. She disentangled herself from Payton’s embrace gently enough to avoid waking her and stood. She was immediately caught off guard by her weight distribution. Her belly, still semi-taut from the night before felt heavy and her hips seemed ever so much wider. That at least answered the panty question as she was fairly certain that the ones she’d been wearing the night before would no longer fit.

 

    She’d let her lust get the better of her, and she was larger for it. Like it or not, this was now going to be her permanent size... at least until her and Payton had another stuffing session. It was too early to know how she really felt about that. She grabbed her robe, pulling it over her shoulders and silently thanking whatever gods watched over plus-sized girls that it still closed over her belly and headed out into the common area where Atom was, of course, making breakfast.

 

    “Look who’s finally up!” He said, expertly flipping an omelette as she approached.

    “How late is it?” She asked, rubbing at her face. 

 

    “Still morning this time. The BSD sent a message, but it wasn’t urgent. I took the liberty of letting the two of you sleep in.”
   

     Gwen nodded her thanks. “What's the message?”

 

    “Nothing much. They looked into the wire you found. It’s been burnt out so no luck on getting a trace, but still. Good find.” 

Gwen clicked her tongue in frustration. “Anything else?”

 

    “Only that Suresh says you’re wrong about the aerosol version of the calorie serum. He says that diluting it to that extent would prevent it from bonding to human cells.”

 

      “I’ve got a 200 pound cutie in the next room that says you’re wrong. Besides, it wasn’t aerosol it was a spray bottle, like the kind you’d punish a cat with.” 

      “I’m just the messenger.” Atom said raising his claws in contrition. “But I’ll pass that along to Suresh anyway. Any chance you could get a sample?” 

    She shrugged. “I doubt it, but I’ll see what I can do.”

 

    Meanwhile, the absence of her very warm, very soft, and very comfortable partner was doing more to wake Payton than any alarm. An unreasonable amount of light met her eyes when she opened them, and she tried to clear the sleep with mixed success. Once more upright, she groggily looked around for any of her clothes, spying only her bra dangling off one edge of the desk chair and her underwear on top of it. She briefly had the thought of finding the rest of her clothes -- especially since she could smell something truly delicious cooking -- before her eyes settled on the dresser, and her lips curled into a mischievous grin.

    “There’s the chance it was taken as evidence,” Atom pointed out.

 

    “What? The spray bottle? Yeah, it’s worth a look, and if push comes to shove I could always visit the guy in-- Hhhhhwhat?” She yelped,  turning to stare at the bedroom door.

    Where the very overstuffed hourglass of Payton Chris stood, looking more than a bit amused at Gwen’s outcry and more than a little proud of herself. She wore what was clearly one of Gwen’s shirts and was covered down to almost her knees without much concern. Even with boobs the size of her own head, the shirt gave a comfortable fit as she strode out to the kitchen with a grin. “Morning, Atom.”

 

    “Oh my god! Could you… Are you even wearing anything under that?” Gwen demanded, face during a deep red as he eyes darted back between her girlfriend and the robot.

 

    “Gwen, you’re in a bathrobe,” the Atomic Automaton pointed out.

 

    “Yes, but… I mean… it’s not like I could have put on anything more without help.”

 

    “Oh, I’m well aware -- all the more reason why you shouldn’t be worried about my puritanical sensibilities.” He turned to Payton. “Good morning. Help yourself to some eggs. I apologize for my roommate’s outburst.” One of his green eyes briefly flicked off in what Payton realized was his approximation of a wink. 

      “Ditto, just in regards to last night,” Payton hummed back to the robotic roommate, still quite pleased with herself as she eyed the creations thus far. “Ooh, is that an omelette?”

    Gwen made an exasperated sound somewhere between a scream and a squeal.

 

    “It’s fine, I can turn my hearing off. Yeah, I tried folding in a three cheese mix. Tell me if you like it.” He slid the omelette onto a plate and extended his arm to hand it to Payton. “Gwen, would you like another? I heard you’re trying to get fatter now.”

      Gwen, who had been doing her best to ignore everything but her breakfast, nearly choked on her own omelette. 

 

    Payton clapped a hand to her mouth, fiercely trying to suppress a fit of giggles. She was sensitive to Gwen’s worries, and would have done anything to help her feel comfortable and manage things even before last night, but seeing Lancelot, Valiant City’s greatest hero, thwarted by her automated roommate was just too funny. She gave Gwen a shrug, goofy smile and all, as she took the offered plate, her mouth already watering.

 

    “I can shut you off,” Lance warned, pointing at the robot with her fork. 

 

    “That’s racist,” he responded flatly. 

 

    “Well,” said Gwen, pushing herself up from the table. “I have work to do.” She stood and pressed the button on her watch, summoning her costume. “See! I don’t need your help to dress after all.”

 

    “Actually, I figured you’d ask Payton for that today.”

 

    Gwen turned, face obscured by her visor, lips pursed. “I mean… I could..” she fingered the button on her watch.

 

    “No! Point proven. I’ll refrain from teasing from now on.”

 

    Gwen’s shoulders slumped and she looked over at Payton. “I do have to go, but it’s not urgent. Would you like me to run you home?”

Payton’s already bright smile -- having grown too pleased for mere ‘smirk’ to describe it accurately -- beamed to luminescent levels at Gwen’s offer. She bounced up on the balls of her feet for a moment, nodding quickly. “I would love that.”

 

    This time,  Gwen placed a hand on either of Payton’s hips, and in one smooth motion easily lifted the plump girl into her arms and pulled her tight against her sizable chest.

 

    “I’d say ‘hang on,’ but that’s not really going to help.” The colors of Gwen’s apartment blurred and elongated as they disappeared out the door and into the heart of the city. The motion was too much for Payton’s eyes to track, but the brightness and pops of green and blue made it seem likely they were running through the park. Gwen slowed as they ran up the side of a building, and Payton was finally able to get her bearings. As they reached the top of the building, Gwen stopped just long enough for Payton to get a complete view of the city. They were in the business district heading toward the university, which was only a few blocks away. 

Payton’s fingers dug into the light fabric of Lancelot’s costume in anticipation of Gwen running back down., but what she actually did was much worse. Gwen leapt from the top of the building, her powerful legs pushing them out over the rooftops of several smaller skyscrapers.  Even as Payton shrieked in equal parts glee and terror she realized that the jump, impressive as it was, wouldn’t be enough to clear the entire distance. She braced for impact as Gwen plummeted into another tower, but to her surprise, Lance’s foot pressed gently into the glass siding and launched them forward again. In three more bounds, they’d landed directly in front of Payton’s apartment with not so much as the faintest impact. 

 

    Gwen set her down and beamed behind her visor. “That wasn’t too slow was it? Last time I felt like you didn’t get the full effect, so I tried to pace myself.”

 

    Hair fluffed up from the superspeed dash across town and eyes widened in awe, Payton shook her head with as much excitement as when Gwen offered to take her back home. “That was awesome,” she breathed, heart thumping around in her chest. “Holy shit, is it like that every time?”

 

    Gwen’s smile widened, and Payton could imagine the bright pink-red eyes beaming beneath her visor. “Every time!” She said. She leaned in and kissed Payton deeply. “Call me tonight?” She asked. Twinges in the muscles of her thighs indicated she was already gearing up to take off. 

 

    “Absolutely,” Payton replied, still a bit breathless, but this time as much from the run as the kiss. Her breathing hitched for a moment, hands on Gwen’s hips to savor their feel under her fingers. “Be safe and kick ass.”

 

    Gwen smirked, throwing her hair back and smiling. She disappeared in a flash down the street, leaving Payton standing on the sidewalk, alone despite the crowd. And what a crowd. Payton found herself surrounded by dozens of college students staring in awe and confusion. 

 

    Payton blinked, still with an incredibly goofy smile on her lips. She was dating a superhero! And they’d… well, they’d had a lot of fun last night, she thought, cheeks flushing. She spared a glance down, finding herself still in the large shirt she’d snagged from Gwen’s wardrobe, but a quick pat of her own hip told her that the speedster had at least put some pants on her.

 

    “Wow! That is something,” said a man standing next to her. “Did Lancelot really just walk you home?” He  was a bit older than most of the students surrounding her and wearing black sportswear. 

 

    Payton blinked again, pausing as she made her way up the steps to the entrance of her apartment.  The man looked familiar, but her euphoria kept her from any further realizations. “Uh, I don’t think ‘walk’ is really the best way to describe it,” she replied, giggling some.

 

    The crowd was beginning to disperse, and the man crossed his arms, shaking his head. “I waited here all night. Do you know how hard it is to keep up with a speedster? Still, judging by that kiss, I think I’ve got my answer.” Suddenly, his hand was on her shoulder, and he pulled her away from the door. 

      Payton’s eyes went wide, jerking out of her cloud nine mood and trying to swat at the taller man -- who, she realized, was the regular from the coffee shop. “Hey!” She yelped, stumbling down her stairs.

      His hands tightened around her wrists, and he pulled her close, pressing something cold and metallic against her gut. “Now now, Ms. Chris. Don’t make a scene. I doubt you’re as proficient at dodging bullets as your girlfriend.” He pulled her into the alley, where an old, black Crown-Victoria was waiting. The paint-job barely covered the police logos and decals. He opened the door and shoved her into the back seat before slamming it closed. The back of the car was isolated with a wire barrier, and as he climbed into the front, he held up her cellphone, which he’d lifted while he was manhandling her.

      “Hard to frisk an ass as wide as yours. Guess Lancelot doesn’t have a whole lot of choices now that she’s a blimp.”

      Payton rubbed at her wrists with her heart pounding in her ears as she looked around the back seat. Doors locked, windows tinted, phone gone… at least her wit still here, though that probably wasn’t a good thing. “What’s wrong, meathead? Jealous?”

The man hummed to himself. “Could be. I wouldn’t mind putting that bitch in her place, but the boss seems to think you can help with that.” The car roared to life and pulled out onto the street. He shrugged. “He’s probably going to kill her, but we’ll see what he wants to do with you.”

      She failed to hide her sharp inhale. She had to get free, to warn Gwen at the very least, but how? Unless this guy made a mistake…      

 

      “Wh-what are you going to do to me?” She asked, not having to stretch very far for her voice to waver.

      “For now we’re going to use you as bait. After that…” He shrugged. “It’s in your best interest to cooperate.” 

Chapter 15 - Girl, where you gonna hide?

“It keeps you running” – Doobie Brothers

 

    Almost an hour later they arrived at a warehouse near the docks. The man who kidnapped Payton grabbed her by the wrist and pulled her from the car, placing the gun firmly into her back and forcing her inside. Inside was a front office area with empty conference rooms, offices, and break areas, but he kept pushing her down the hall until they reached a large, metal door which led to the greater part of the warehouse. It was almost entirely empty save for a folding chair set into the center of the floor and several concentric squares of piping that another thug was mounting to the ceiling. They reminded Payton of the kind of thing a supermarket might use to mist their produce.

 

    Aside from the man installing the piping, one other man stood in the center of the room, inspecting the chair. He turned as they entered, and a smile widened across his handsome, if not a bit weasley features.

“Payton Chris!” He announced, holding his hands out wide. “I’m glad you could join us. My name is Tulio. I’m an old business acquaintance of Lancelot.”

      Payton, who had been looking around, trying to find some means of escape without luck so far, brought her attention to Tulio. “Join you?” She asked, sounding a bit dismayed at his jovial attitude and the circumstances to her arrival.

      He frowned, looking up at the man who brought her in. “You haven’t been treating Ms. Chis poorly, have you? Bring her here.” Her captor pushed her forward until they were under the ring of piping and sat her down in the chair. “Thank you, you may go,” Tulio said flatly. The other man looked like he might protest, but a grim look from Tulio was all it took to get him to leave. “You’ll have to pardon his rudeness. Criminal business is still business, and unfortunately courtesy is a rare trait in these circles.” 

 

      Payton frowned, hands resting on her lap as she considered her options. She was short, yes, and not exactly in great shape, but she wasn’t all that much shorter than Tulio. Lower center of gravity, more compact size... she might have a shot if she could get the drop on him, if they were alone at least. But after that  nothing good sprang to mind. She deflated into the chair a bit. “I wouldn’t argue with that,” Payton replied.At this point, all she could do was stall for time and figure out what was going on. “I’m not sure what you want from me or what your goon told you after stalking me for a week.”

 

      “Only that Lancelot would place herself in danger to save you. We’re counting on that.” He motioned to the thug working on the pipes who turned a valve in response. The pipes opened up and a fine, orange mist floated down in a large square around the chair Payton was sitting it. Her eyes went wide when she saw the orange spray, and did her best to pull herself in tighter. Fortunately, it was too far back for any to get on her, and the liquid collected on the floor and rolled into a round drain at her feet. 

      “Th-that the spray bottle stuff?” She blurted, remembering that Gwen had told her about how the stuff had affected her, and how she felt that her days were numbered. “Wait! You can’t do this! She’s a hero!”

      “You’re right. Lance is a hero. She could be saving the world from global warming or protecting the innocent from tyrannical rules, but instead she chooses to spend her time dismantling organizations like mine.” He held out a hand under the spray, letting the orange liquid wash over his fingers and bringing his hand close to her face. “Do you know what a calorie is?” He asked rubbing his fingers together, veins pulsing in his arm. “It’s energy. It’s not some arbitrary measurement of how fattening something is. All we need to do is teach the human body how to process it, and suddenly it’s an incredible weapon.” He retrieved a discarded piece of copper piping from the floor and walked behind Payton, wiping his hand on his jeans. “Other countries are interested in the potential for that, but people like Lanceot hold back science.” He wrapped the pipe around her wrists as if it were made of twine. “It’s for the best that she’s out of the picture.”

 

      “Seriously?” Payton spat back. The changes had not gone unnoticed by her, and she felt relieved that she hadn’t tried to rush Tulio. Whatever he’d done to give himself a different reaction to the serum had made escaping on her own seem like a very dim prospect at this point, and her worry for Gwen grew. “Are you trying to paint yourself as the good guy? Or interested in ‘science’? After this?” She asked, looking down at the pipe pointedly before back up at him. “You just want to get rich and you don’t care who gets hurt.”

 

      “I don’t think any arms dealer thinks they’re the good guy, but it’s naive to think of us as  the villains. We’re part of what keeps the machine moving, and if Lancelot wants to stand in the way of that, well…” He stepped back into the mist and retrieved a detonator from his pocket. “We’ll just have to make sure she won’t be moving anymore.” He flicked the switch. 

 

      Outside, the man who’d kidnapped Payton got into his car, pissed that Tulio had made a fool of him. He deserved more respect than that. After all, he knew enough about their plans to blow this whole thing wide open. He smiled at the thought. Maybe it was time to put Tulio in his place. He reached for his keys, but before he could place them into the ignition, the car exploded into a tower of flame. The shockwave knocked out the windows of several nearby buildings, and the sound was loud enough that it was reported almost immediately.

      Within minutes, superheroes were on the way.

Chapter 16 - Capable of Doing Terrible Things

“Run” – Awolnation

    “There’s a car bombing on 8th,” Diode relayed to Lance through her communicator watch. “Want to meet us there?” 

 

    “Any chance the two of you could take care of it?” Gwen asked from across town. “I’m following the lead on this spray-bottle thing.” Diode beamed at Fountainhead, who merely rolled her eyes.

 

    “Uh… yeah, I guess we can take care of this one for you,” Diode responded, affecting disinterest. “Good luck on your end.” She hung up and nearly danced in place from excitement. “Yes! Terrorists! All us!”

 

    “Or, someone didn’t fill up on coolant,” Fountainhead pointed out as their electrically powered car sped toward eighth street. 

 

    Diode waved her off. “Either way, it’s more interesting than a muggling. Look ,there it is!” She pointed out the window toward the flaming vehicle carcass. The canopy of their car flipped open, and both heroes jumped out as the vehicle drifted to a halt

 

    “Okay. Not a coolant issue,” Fountainhead said, leaning in for a closer look. She reeled back when she saw what was sitting in the driver's seat. “And not just a bombing. This was a homicide.” 

 

    Diode rushed in, less put-off by the burnt body than her counterpoint. “I told you this would be interesting!” She insisted. “Think it’s weird that he was parked outside this empty building?”

    Fountainhead shrugged. “It’s worth a look. I’ll take point.” She stepped toward the building and was stopped by Diode putting a hand on her chest.

 

    “You can watch my back, twinkle-toes. I’ll take point.”

 

    “I’ve got more range.”

 

    “Not according to my highschool drama teacher.” 

 

    “That’s not what I--” But Diode was already in the building. Fountainhead grumbed and followed after her. The front of the building was nothing special. Not worn down, but empty and full of abandoned office stuff. Fountainhead was about to suggest that they go back and get a closer look at the car, when Diode opened up the door to the warehouse. 

 

    Sitting in the center of the room, partially obscured by an orangish fog sat a small, pudgy woman apparently tied to a folding chair.

 

    “Is that the girl from the coffeeshop?” Fountainhead asked.

 

   Before anyone could answer, a pair of arms grabbed Diode from the other side of the door and tossed her across the room and through the orange mist. Diode, not used to meeting people capable of throwing her, barely registered what had happened until she’d flown through the trap and landed on the other side of the room. Payton winced as Diode hit the ground, the impressive amount of woman that she was jiggling at the impact. She didn’t want to distract either of the heroes -- one of whom she recognized as the woman who’d beaten the Phantom -- but she couldn’t just sit there, right? 

 

    “Diode!” Fountainhead yelled. Blades formed around her arms as she leapt toward her attacker. To her surprise, he blocked her with his forearms, and the inky blades impacted harmlessly against his flesh. The man smiled and advanced. His dark hair plastered against his face by the orange liquid that drenched his entire body and soaked through his clothes. He grabbed at one of the blades and snapped it off, tossing it aside even as it melted back into liquid ink.

 

    “Diode!” Fountainhead yelled again. “I need you” 

Diode sat up, shaking her head and forcing herself to her feet. She hadn’t expected that. It was a cheap shot, but he’d made a mistake by not taking her out completely. She took a step forward, and was surprised by how difficult it was. Her legs shook with effort and she forced her other leg to move as well, pumping more power into the metal plates that she used to lift her flab. She moved forward more confidently, but suddenly her leg felt, not only weighted down, but obstructed. She glanced over her enormous belly as best she could to see what the problem might be only to be met with more belly than she’d expected.

 

    “What is…” she started. She looked down at her hand and was horrified to see it swell into a mitten of flab and fat before her eyes. She wiggled her useless fingers and gasped as her breasts pressed against her chin. She was standing, but she was suddenly aware of a coldness on the underside of her belly. How had it reached the floor? How was she getting so much bigger? She looked up at the mist and immediately realized her mistake.

 

    “Fountainhead!” She yelled. The other hero turned from her enemy long enough to glare at her partner, only for her mouth to fall open in disbelief. Diode had doubled in size, and at well over 800 pounds, that put her at a staggering 1,700 pounds at least. She was more fat than woman. A swaying mass of breasts and butt and belly that jiggled and wobbled as Diode desperately tried to will some form of mobility into the ocean of her body. “Don’t touch the mist.” She yelled as she swelled to the point that her flab obscured her face and fell backwards onto her behind, clothes shredded and now reduced to a quivering mountain of womanly flesh.

 

    Fountainhead screamed incoherently, a mixture of sorrow, disgust, and rage before turning back to her attacker and lashing out again. She struck with blades and whips and clubs, but nothing seemed to pierce his flesh, meanwhile he ripped away at her costume reducing her mobility and her strength. She finally managed to wrap tendrils around both of his wrists and hold him, but she knew he was too strong for that plan to work for long… Except that he wasn’t. As she struggled against him it seemed to get easier. Was he getting weaker. She pressed harder and forced him to his knees. Her grimace turned into a crazed smile as she realized that she could win.

 

    “This is for turning my girlfriend into a jello mold.” She hissed and with a final heave tossed her assailant into the mist himself. 

Payton gasped, pressing herself more tightly against the back of her chair as Tulio was thrown close to her, the arms dealer already starting to push himself up. She turned to Fountainhead, the dire situation starting to sink in now. The panic gripped her tightly, but she managed to scream, “Get out of here! Warn Lance!”

      Fountainhead ignored her and stood, a look of triumph on her face, ready to watch her enemy turn into a blob. He rose to his feet, turned to face her, and smiled, holding his arms to either side. She frowned, unsure what he was doing, but watched as veins twitched under his skin, and he lowered himself into a charging stance. Fountainhead took a step back. It wasn’t working. Why wasn’t he getting fatter? In a last ditch effort, she shot out two tendrils toward him to try to hold him in place, but he was far stronger now than even when they’d started. He grabbed one tendril with his hand and began to pull, sliding the obese bombshell toward him. She strained, now pulling away rather than trying to hold him in place, but he tugger her ever closer. 

      She was mere feet from the mist now. She knew that if she touched it, she’d end up like Diode. She let go of the ink tendril, and he ripped it away, tossing it to the side. Now, she didn’t have enough ink to stand. She fell onto her belly, huffing and grunting as he strode toward her. She willed herself to stand, but without the power that her ink provided, Fountainhead was just an enormously fat woman, unable to move of her own volition. With her last bit of strength she reached for her communicator watched and pressed a button. A flashing light blinked on its face as the signal was sent.


  “You’re too late,” she said between labored breaths as Tulio reached her side. “Lance is on her way now, and she’s going to fuck you up.” She spat out the last three words, each punctuating the other.

      “I certainly hope so,” Tulio said softly. “It’s so hard to get that woman’s attention.” He turned to Payton, smiling, “But I’m sure you know that.” With that, he pushed Fountinahead’s massive beached body into the mist with one foot. She groaned as she looked at her arms, each swelling up in front of her face, but it didn’t take long for her breasts to become so large that they pushed her fattened arms aside and obscured her vision form the rest of her billowing body. 

      Payton watched in horror. Tulio had dispatched two of Valiant City’s heroes in minutes, and even worse, both looked so fat that any crime-fighting future seemed as impossible as finding fabrics to fit either of them. She liked fattening as much as the next FA weirdo, but this was-- this was --

      She turned to Tulio, desperation gripping as Fountainhead continued to bloat under the mist, seeming to go beyond just doubling in size. “P-please, you can’t do this to her,” she pleaded, trying to struggle against the pipe that held her in place. “She’s trying to help people, she’ll listen if you just explain., Maybe she could find a way for this to work without you fattening up any more heroes!”

      “You’re in no position to negotiate here,” Tulio said dryly. He grimaced and finally shoved Fountainhead out of the mist, causing her massive, bloated body to slide across the wet floor, coming to a halt next to Diode, a pile of fat nearly half her size. Fountainhead didn’t respond to being shoved except with a quiet muffled moan. Each of the woman wobbling lazily in a hopeless attempt to regain control of their bodies. “You’ll serve your part, and then you’ll leave. If you don’t oppose me, I’ll make sure you don’t get any bigger than you are right now.” 

      “I’m not trying to negotiate, I’m begging!” Payton yelped, trying to keep from descending into hysterics even as she wiggled in her chair. She hadn’t missed the threat, but the specter of being the reason why Valiant City’s greatest hero was grounded… why Gwen wouldn’t be able to run ever again… that was worse than being fat. So, so much worse. “Please, you don’t know what this means to her, the good that she does. You can -- you can be the next Bill Gates or-or Rockefeller. You can sell this to everyone and save the planet!” Payton babbled, trying to find something that might derail the disaster that was approaching. “You don’t have to be the villain! You said it yourself!”

      His eyes narrowed as he approached, and he withdrew a handgun from his coat. “You think I don’t know what being a hero means to her?” He seemed genuinely angry at the implication. “Why do you think I went through all of the trouble of finding you? Of course, being a hero means everything to Lancelot, but I’m willing to bet she’d give it up for you.” He placed the gun against Payton’s temple “Isn’t that right, Lance?” He called not looking up from the terrified woman in front of him.

Chapter 17 - That's the End, Little Girl

“Run for Your Life” – The Beatles

 

      “I never thought you’d go full on supervillain, Tulio,” Lance called from where she stood in the doorway, huge, imposing and furious.

 

      “I don’t intend to make a habit out of it,” he said, glaring up at the hero.

 

      “I’m giving you one chance.” Lancelot’s voice was cold and demanding. “You let her go, and you go to prison. If you don’t, then you’ll have to make a detour to the hospital beforehand.”

 

      “Oh, threats!” Tulio laughed, but the gun stayed firmly planted against Payton’s head. “You don’t talk unless you don’t have any other choice, Lance. If you knew how to get to her, you’d have done it already, and I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before you come up with some plan that gets both you and your girlfriend out of here not an ounce heavier.”  His smile dropped, and he pulled the hammer back on the gun. “I’m not giving you that chance. In three seconds she dies, unless you run here and stop me from pulling the trigger and I know you don’t value your figure over her life.” Lancelot's face remained impassive. That only seemed to anger Tulio more. 

      “One!” He shouted. His grip grew firmer on the gun. “Two!” Payton could see his jaw clench. If this didn’t work she’d be dead, but he knew as well as she did that Lancelot would rip him apart. “Three!” Lancelot didn’t move. There was a brief look of defeat on Tulio’s face as he realized that Lance wasn’t going to play along, but just as quickly it was replaced by determination. Payton felt the hammer strike the pin; there was the sound of a gunshot, followed by the louder blast of a sonic boom. When Payton opened her eyes Lancelot was standing over her and holding Tulio’s arm aloft. The bullet had hit the ceiling.

      Lance knocked Tulio aside with a backhand, and he flew across the room into one of the corrugated walls and collapsed in a slump. Gwen turned back to Payton, terror and relief showing on her face. “Are you alright?” she asked, slicing her lance through the copper pipe around Payton’s wrists and helping her to her feet. She’d moved at such high speed that most of the mist had moved out of her way as she ran. Still, a tiny splatter of orange dotted her cheek. 

      Payton shook her head quickly, her still-fluffed hair shaking with her. “You didn’t- you shouldn’t have,” she started, swallowing as her frantic breathing started to slow. “Th-thank you,” she stammered, going to hug Gwen almost as soon as she was on her feet. “Some goon came out of nowhere at my apartment and brought me here, and now they-“ Payton looked to the pile of gray and brown flesh, the former dwarfing the latter, while trying to hold in tears. “I’m sorry, G- Lance,” she caught herself, looking back to Gwen. “I’m so-“ and then her eyes caught the orange spot, a horrified yelp coming a moment later. “No!”

 

      Gwen wiped the orange liquid from her cheek and frowned at it, it didn’t take much to fill in what was about to happen to her. She removed her lance from her arm, held it like a javelin and tossed it at the  pipes overhead, turing to shield Payton with her larger body as they burst, spraying their contents everywhere before eventually subsiding to a trickle. Gwen stood, already feeling the serum begin to take affect even as her enhanced metabolism fought valiantly to hold it off.

      “Listen, Payton. You have to get out of here. Get outside, find somewhere safe to hide, and call the BSD. I don’t know what Tulio said, but he’s a killer, and he’s dangerous. Right now, you’re a loose end. Do you understand?” She grabbed Payton by the shoulder only to realize that her hand wouldn’t close all the way. She looked at it, fingers puffy and useless. It was starting. 

“B-but you can’t -- he’s going to get back up, the serum makes him stupid strong or something,” Payton insisted, eyes darting across Gwen’s figure. “You won’t be able to fight back!” 

      Almost on cue, Tulio groaned and began to stir. Gwen stiffened, looking over at him as her belly expanded, bursting through the front of her uniform and rolling out onto the floor. She looked down at herself, watching her body being ruined before her eyes, and then back up at Payton. 

      “He knows I’m not going anywhere. That makes you the priority. The best thing you can do for me is to make sure that you’re safe and call the BSD.” Her breasts and ass expanded outward tearing through her costume like paper and anchored her to the ground. Tulio was on his knees now, holding his head, his hand searching to retrieve his fallen gun. “Payton, please!” Gwen insisted. 

      Payton made a pained noise as she glanced over to Tulio, then back at Gwen, tears welling up in her eyes. “I’m so, so sorry,” Payton whispered, pressing in against Gwen to give her a quick hug. And then, before she could hesitate, she ran off towards where the open door let the morning light into the room, trying to breathe instead of sob. 

      Tulio stood shaking his head just in time to see payton run for the door. He raised his gun and fired five shots, but with his head pounding they all went wide as Payton disappeared into the office portion of the building. Tulio cursed, still pulling the trigger of the empty gun and finally tossing it aside. He turned to Lancelot, with her still growing breasts now encroaching out in front of her, and her belly lifting her higher off the ground.

 

   “Don’t go anywhere.” He sneered before limping out the door after Payton.

Chapter 18 -  Run For Your Life

“Run to the Hills” – Iron Maiden

 

      Payton ran through the door into the loading garage attached to where Tulio had sprung his trap, a stitch in her side already making her slow. “Stupid fucking fat,” she cursed under her breath, more emotions bubbling up under her tears. She looked around, cursing again when she didn’t see any of the garage doors open. Finding a way to open them would take too long, even with Tulio not following her very quickly. Her eyes caught an office door, half-open, and sprinted for it as fast as her chubby legs could take her. 

      Payton closed the door behind her, but she knew that wouldn’t do much. Even if he didn’t find her right away, she was trapped. If she wanted to survive, she’d have to find a way to incapacitate him and escape. Otherwise, she’d be a good as dead. Still breathing heavily, she started looking around the office as quickly as she could while staying quiet. “He’s supposed to be an arms dealer after all!” She hissed to herself, trying to reassure herself in the face of terrible odds. 

    Tulio hobbled after her., The only downside to the powers he’d been given was that they didn’t last long. They’d likely saved his life when Lancelot had hit him, but now he felt weaker than ever. He probably had a concussion, and his leg definitely needed attention. Still, one spritz of the calorie spry and he’d be right as rain. He had a stash on the property just in case, secreted way with a handful of weapons. The girl couldn’t get far. She was big, and without any powers to help her, she likely wouldn’t be moving much faster than him. Once he got himself fixed up, she’d be hopeless. 

      But as he braced against the wall, pain arcing through him, he realized that his injuries were much worse  than he’d thought. He stumbled forward into a nearby breakroom and kicked out the leg of a table with his uninjured leg. He hefted the heavy piece of wood. There, that would be enough to hold off the fatty if she got the drop on him. He swung it experimentally, batting a hole in the drywall. He grinned as the table leg came away covered in chalky white powder, and resumed his hunt for Payton.

    “How the fuck is this guy the one arms dealer that isn’t a paranoid asshole keeping a rocket launcher in his office or something?!” Payton fumed as she opened another drawer, her heart pounding in her chest. She’d stumbled across a few things of interest -- a ledger, some knives, something that looked concerningly like a grenade with the pin out -- but nothing that could help her against someone who was stronger, faster, and more skilled even without his powers. 

      Hearing a crash from the hallway, and, even worse, the strained sounds of someone injured walking in her direction, Payton was about to dive under the desk and hope she could trip Tulio, maybe catch him unawares. But she saw... actually, she wasn’t sure what it was, but she grabbed it anyway. It turned out to be some kind of glove with orange liquid sloshing around on the back of it. This stuff only makes him stronger! She despaired, about to consign herself to throwing it at him, though she doubted that its heft would be enough... until an idea struck her.

    Tulio burst into the room and found Payton inside, standing in front of the desk.  His surprise turned into a sneering grin. “Congratulations,” he said. “You wasted your chance to escape, and now you’re trapped here with me.” He approached but stopped when he noticed the glove. “Are you going to spray me?” He asked, holding his arms out to the side. “Go ahead! I’ll give you a clear shot!”

 

    Payton pointed the glove at him, then seemed to let it drop. “I -- I don’t know how, but I know it won’t work on you,” she replied, staying at the desk. Just keep talking until he gets closer, she thought, heart thundering in her rib cage.

 

    “It’s worth a try,” he said, swinging the table leg back and forth. It impacted against a computer monitor and knocked it to the floor. “Otherwise I’m just going to come over there and bash in your fucking skull.” 

 

    Payton winced as the monitor crashed to the ground, holding still as best she could. “Like you were ever going to let me go,” she huffed back at Tulio, trying to sound more confident than she felt. “Lance called me a loose end, and she was right. Just like she was about you being a villain,” Payton growled, the lump in her throat coming back as she thought about Gwen.

      He rolled his eyes. “Ugh, spare me. Are you going to take your shot, or are you just going to let me kill you?” 

      This is it, Payton thought, breathing heavily. “C’mon then,” she spat, holding out her arms and trying to glare back at him. When in doubt, go for the ego. “If you’re such a bad guy, you can’t be scared to get your hands dirty with one girl!” 

      “Oh, you want to see scared?” He charged her, table leg raised, and just as he reached her, he felt his bad leg give. 

      In high school, Payton had been a runner. She didn’t run just for fun or do laps to kill time in gym class, she had trophies for running: cross country, sprinting, relay, even hurdles. Until about two months ago, she’d kept herself as in shape as she’d been in high school. She was nimble and graceful and strong all at once.  Since she’d gotten doused with the spray that fateful day, she hadn’t felt like any of those things, and now she feared that she wouldn’t feel that way ever again when this was over. But in that moment, when she saw Tulio’s leg give, she saw her opening, and she let years of agility and endurance drills take over, jumping to the side as Tulio ended up stumbling. 

      Not one to let him sail on without a parting gift, Payton shoved his back as he went, wincing when the table leg hit one of her knees. As she started to fall, she swung her weight around as best she could, but her body was slow to respond. She felt miles away from how she’d been able to shift and move in a time that felt like another life. But as she came down on top of Tulio, a thrill went through her; she might be able to do this, to save anyone else from what he’d done to Diode and Fountainhead and -- and Gwen. Oh, Gwen. 

      She landed heavily on Tulio’s back, already kicking at his hand that held the table leg. “You want to make someone fat?” She panted, her knee and back aching and her legs burning from far more exertion than they were built for these days. She wriggled around on Tulio’s back, preparing physically and mentally for what she was about to do. “Hope you’ve been lifting lately,” Payton snarled, yanking down on her work slacks enough to let part of her plump hip into open air. And then, with only a split second of hesitation, she jammed the nozzle against the swell of her hip and pulled on the trigger a few times in rapid succession. 

      The first time she’d been hit with the calorie serum, she’d only known what was happening to her because she had seen Ash blow up right next to her. It had been a surreal experience, not feeling much of anything besides the pinch of her clothes before they had ripped. This time, she understood what was coming, and maybe it was just the difference in dose or method of delivery, but a warm, cottony feeling blossomed across her skin from the spray site. Already flushed, Payton shuddered as what felt like a winter coat settled onto her figure, and she tried not to panic when she realized that wasn’t far from the truth. 

      The press of her hip against the glove made her look down, just in time to see herself muffining out of her black work pants as  plump curves bulged on either side of the seams along her thighs. A mounting pinch along her backside told her all she wanted to know about what was happening to her ass, and she could feel her stomach puffing out as well, though without as much urgency as her bottom half. Seams came apart as the growing strain became too much, her doughy pudge spilling out from them like a squashed can of biscuits, all while Payton fought to keep her breathing steady. The rest of her was starting to catch up now that her hourglass had shifted a bit southward in its focus, with her arms plumping up and her breasts snapping the shoulder straps on her bra only moments before the clasp failed in the back. Just as she’d seen with the others, her hands puffed up and made the glove pinch tight before the fabric burst just like everything else, and only the trigger and container of serum remained on the back of her chubby hand. 

      For a moment, Payton lost herself in what she could see in her field of vision: arms, hands, fingers, and tits, through which she could see her thighs thickening as spreading pillars of pudge. That was interrupted when her hips bumped against the wall of the office and then the desk, her heart rate spiking as her new width struck home, and she winced when she felt herself pressing against both sides. Her elbows bumped against her rising hips, and she realized that her legs were starting to spread farther from how much fat had piled into her thighs, how much her belly was pressing down on them, how much -- 

      Payton looked away, her head spinning at how much more there was of her in every sense, how visceral the experience was compared to how incidental the first time had felt. Speaking of which, a few ripples and wobbles went through her as Tulio shifted under her girth, prompting her to kick out towards him; granted, that only made one of her thighs jiggle widely, but her ankle hit the side of his head. “Any more of that,” she started, hitching when she realized that even her voice was different, throat covered in enough chub to deepen it slightly. “A-any more of that and I’ll get another dose!” She threatened and was rewarded with the end of Tulio’s wiggling, though not without a loud groan. 

      From there, everything seemed to pass quickly; it was hard to keep track when the only real marker of time was how much fatter she was getting. She whimpered when the desk started to groan, only to let out a squeak when it abruptly slid farther away, unable to hold back against the tide of her hips and thighs. Payton groaned when she could no longer keep her arm around her boobs, the basketball-sized orbs bobbling as they came to rest on her belly even as her belly lapped against her knees. She shifted one arm to keep from falling onto her back, worried about letting Tulio wiggle free if her weight wasn’t as concentrated on him, but a few groans from underneath her suggested that wasn’t a real danger. Finally, after what felt like hours, the rush of heat that made her bloat up into a true blimp of a girl began to fade. 

      Her breathing started to slow, and she felt sweat trickle down her multiple chins to her chest. Her hands held onto the desk and lip of the offices windows, just barely keeping her from falling onto her back. “Can’t let… myself be suff… suffocated… by my own tits,” she huffed and panted, snark fading into exhaustion at a rate that seemed concerning even for her worn out brain. Her hands started to slip and she started to lean backwards. “Maybe… just a little nap…” she huffed again, only managing to say that before darkness swept up through her vision. She was out before her fat-lathered back hit the floor.

Chapter 19 - Hope You Still Like Me

“Run the World” – Beyoncé

 

    Payton awoke to a jolt and the feeling of movement as something slowly lifted her upward. She opened her eyes only to blink in the harsh sunlight above her. Sunlight? She was still in the office, but the entire ceiling had been removed and several straps had been fitted around her massive body which was being hoisted upward by a crane. She looked around and glimpsed a handful of police officers and paramedics flood the room she had just been in to  attend the slightly flattened Tulio. Once she had been raised over the walls of the building, the crane turned and guided her body over to the now open warehouse area where Lancelot, Diode, and Fountainhead still sat… or was it lay? Honestly, it was too hard to tell at this point.

 

    Gently, the crane lowered her down next to Lancelot’s massive form. Diode was a few meters away and fussing at a group of men who seemed to be trying to move Fountainhead into a position in which her head was visible. 

 

    “Fountainhead? Baby, can you hear me?” She asked, frantically. “Careful with her! I’m not sure you can tell, but that’s her boob you’re groping.”

 

    “Connie, please let the men work,” Fountainhead chided as she was rolled into a semi-upright position. She was by far the largest of the three of them, and her jowly cheeks wobbled as she spoke. Her eyes rolled around to look at  Payton, too fat to move even her head. “So he got to you too? Figures. What’s your part in all of this?”

 

    “She,” Lancelot interjected, “is my girlfriend.” Gwen reached out a pudgy hand until it was within reach of Payton’s own. “I’m so glad you’re okay.”

 

    “Okay is relative,” Fountainhead pointed out.

 

    “Relative to you,” Diode pouted. 

 

    “There’s my girl.” Fountainhead actually managed a half-amused smile. 

 

    “I kinda thought it was a dream for a minute,” Payton replied, still coming out of her post-bwoomph nap, squeezing at Gwen’s hand as best she could. Even though she was the lightest of the four, she felt like the mere possibility of standing -- let alone any kind of running

-- in her future was bleak. “Wait, Tulio-”

 

    “Tulio is in custody.” A gruff voice said from the other end of the room. All, except Fountainhead, turned to see the commander standing in the doorway. “Thanks to the efforts of Ms. Chris.” 

 

    “Yikes,” Gwen said, “can you enter the room less dramatically for once?”

 

    “Wait, Ms. Chris?” Fountainhead asked. Lancelot nodded her head toward Payton. “Wow, on your own? How’d you manage that?”

 

   “Tulio is still unconscious. I wanted to ask Payton the same thing.” He looked at the smallest of the four fat women expectantly. 

 

    “Uh...” Payton blinked, her blush returning. “Well, he followed me into that office, and I found some kind of… glove thing that had a sprayer in it,” she explained, glancing over to her hand to see some of the trigger mechanism still on her fingers. “He charged me, I managed to get on top of him, then just… uh, sprayed myself until he passed out,” she finished, growing more sheepish as she went on. Everyone went quiet for a moment.

 

    Diode was the first to speak up. “Bitch!” She yelled, beaming. “That’s badass! I want her on the team.”

 

    “I don’t think she has any powers,” Fountainhead said.

 

   “I don’t care! That’s incredible! Good for you! “ 

 

    “I’m not sure there’s going to be a team anymore, Connie.” Lancelot said, speaking up. She reached upward with one spectacularly flabby arm and managed to pull the cowl and visor away from her face. She tossed aside one of the last surviving scraps of her uniform and turned to face Payton. “I’m sorry I let this happen.” Her lips trembled, but her eye contact remained firm. “It’s my fault the calorie serum exists, and it’s my fault you were captured. I’ll do everything I can to make things right.”

 

    “You?” Payton spluttered, having feared the opposite kind of reaction from the bloated blonde. “I got kidnapped, I was the bait, and all three of you --... all three of you paid for it,” she managed after coming up short in her apology. “And you didn’t make this stuff anyway,” she added, sniffling a little as she gave Gwen’s hand a squeeze.

 

    “Oh, come on,” Diode interrupted. “No one blames either of you for all this.” 

 

    “I blame them both,” Fountainhead grumbled.

 

    “No one except Fountainhead blames either of you.” 

 

    Lancelot glared at both of them, but turned back to Payton. “If you hadn’t acted, then Tulio might have gotten away. I think you’re incredible! And since I guess I’m not going to be running again anytime soon…” She bit her lip, blinking back the tears forming under her eyes. “Since I’m not going to be running anymore, I can’t think of anything I’d rather do than be with you… That is, if you still want me… like this.” She winced, looking down at her massively fattened form, her gut spilling out for yards onto the floor in front of her and her breasts, hung like massive twin yoga-balls on either side of her belly. 

 

    Payton scoffed at that, gesturing with one very flabby arm to her figure, sniffling for a moment before she continued. “Like I have any room to talk. I don’t even know if I can stand right now.” Her eyes darted toward where Diode and Fountainhead were beached, lowering her voice a little. “Uh, plus, you already know… well… not to this extreme normally, but uh…” she tried to explain without giving away everything. “Like… with last night.”

 

    Lancelot stifled a laugh, still biting back tears. “Yeah? Even this big? Well, babe, I’m all yours.” She shrugged her pudgy shoulders and smiled. They were interrupted by the commander clearing his throat.

 

    “As touching as this moment is, I’m not interested in losing three heroes today if I don’t have to.” At some point during the girls’ conversation, Doctor Suresh had entered. He stood next to the commander holding what looked like a fire-hose.

 

    “Hello, ladies,” he said, somewhat timedly. “Apologies in advance.” With that, he pulled back the handle on the nozzle and a torrent of purple liquid exploded toward the four fattened women. 

 

    Payton yelped as the liquid, distinctly at room temperature, sprayed over her, closing her eyes quickly. “What--?” She managed trying to turn her face away from the hose.

 

    Lancelot tried to angle herself backward  as the water crashed against her body. Too surprised to fully process what was going on. 

 

    “What the hell, Suresh?” She demanded, glaring daggers at him. The doctor cocked his head and gave her a cheeky look. She looked down at herself and realized that she was standing. Still hugely fat and naked, she suddenly found herself at the size she was when she’d woken up this morning. “What?” She demanded, hands grabbing her belly, unsure how to process her new relative slimness.

 

    “I told you, the diluted formula can’t properly bond to your cells. I made an antidote.” He waved the hose he was holding. Lance looked over to Diode and Fountainhead. Diode was running across the room and retrieving bits of ink to help the still immobilized Fountainhead, her ass clapping against her thighs as she zipped back and forth. Both of them were back to a size that Lance was familiar with. Payton was nowhere to be seen. It wasn’t until she heard a groan from the other end of the room that she realized that the smaller girl had actually been pushed away by the force of the water, and looking at her it wasn’t difficult to see why.

 

    Payton shook out her hair, surprised by how light the action felt until she finally opened her eyes and then yelped. Her hands darted to cover her chest with one arm - an action that had been impossible for the last few months - and the other went between her thighs to similar provide some coverage. “Can someone get me a towel! Please!” Shock grabbed at her more than anything else as her eyes finally tore away from her body, which, minus a fine layer of softness, was back to the runner’s figure she’d had up until that day in the coffee shop, she saw that the others were also nowhere near as fat as before. “What…?” 

Fountainhead wolf-whistled, and Diode elbowed her in what might have been her ribs. 

 

    “We apologize for not doing this for you sooner, Ms. Chris.” The commander said. “Suresh’s lab only recently reached this development thanks to the information you provided to Lancelot. It won’t be a solution for everyone affected by the serum, but it’s a start.” 

 

    Lance stepped forward, holding out her communicator watch and slapping it on Payton’s wrist. “Here, I’m more or less used to the whole nudity thing at this point.” She hit a button and suddenly Payton was wearing a form-fitting version of Lancelot’s own costume, sans cowl and visor.

 

    “Thank you,” Payton sighed, holding out her arms and looking over the sleek light blue, taken both by the uniform and how easy every bit of movement felt after the two hundred extra pounds had been removed. She even pumped her knees a little in place, marveling at the lack of chub rub that had become a dominant feature in her early days in the fat lane. She glanced down again at her body and then to Gwen’s, eyes trailing up the other woman’s figure with her own cheeks a bit red. “For… for everything, really,” she continued, stepping in close enough to press against Gwen’s soft stomach.

 

    Gwen grabbed her, pulling her into the warmest, softest hug ever imagined.. “I’ll never let anyone take you again.” She promised. “But that’s tough with you living across town in that tiny apartment.” She let go, letting Payton extricate herself from in between her breasts. 

 

    Payton hummed, a coy smile starting to form on her lips. “Yeah? Well, I seem to recall someone saying something about me being her girlfriend.” She swayed against Gwen. She still couldn’t believe that this was her life; all of it, from fattening and un-fattening, to dating a superhero, and to the entire day’s happenings. “Not that I think we can always stop every bad thing from happening, but I’d be more than willing to give it a try with her,” Payton added, voice low and sweet as her smile widened as she looked up at the taller, fatter woman.

 

    Gwen smiled. “It’s settled then. Want me to run you home?” 

 

    Payton beamed back at her, pressing in to give as tight a hug as she could. “I would love that.”

Epilogue

One Month Later

 

      Gwen arrived home, still in her work uniform. Her real work uniform, rather than her costume. She unbuttoned her vest and tugged her blouse free from her skirt, dropping a tube of blueprints onto the couch. She was due for an upgrade when it came to her casual clothing. A month of Payton’s careful ministrations had done a number on her already expansive figure. Lord help her if she ever ended up as big as she’d been after Tulio’s little experiment.

      Tulio was locked in the monolith. The way his body had been changed to accept the calorie serum was something that BSD scientists still weren’t able to understand, but it reminded Gwen of the monster she and her team had fought in Beijing. 

 

      She shook her head. Suresh was working on it. She’d promised herself she wouldn’t worry about any superheroing until tomorrow. There were only two times she truly felt like herself, when she was running and when she was with Payton. Diode and Fountainhead could take care of the city for one night. She made her way to their shared bedroom, pushing the door open. What she saw on the other side left her speechless.

 

      Since Payton had used her own body as a means to bring down Tulio -- or rather, hold him down -- and the serum’s effects had been reversed, her proportions had changed again, though much more slightly. Being with Gwen, and having weighed almost half a ton when BSD lifted her out of the office, had helped her come to terms with her body. As might be expected in a happy relationship, Payton had put on a few pounds -- another ten or so on top of the ten that had stuck around from her trip into the plus sized range, leaving her around twenty above her peak fitness. But rather than it being something that bothered her, she reveled in the extra space she took up and the weight that came with it. She’d even gotten used to having some of her curves back. Between enjoying Atom’s cooking, Gwen’s company, and getting started on a few college applications, she’d had plenty of opportunities to let herself fill out a bit. And hey, she did just fine running her routes in the park - sometimes with Gwen - at 119 pounds, thank you very much.

      That, however, was not what Gwen saw when she opened the door.

      The version of her girlfriend waiting for her was a very well-fed variety of Payton Chris, even more plump than she’d been after the Phantom had doused her months ago. All of her chest and hips had returned, along with a few extra inches, on top of a fuller spare tire, hamhock thighs, and a rounded face that gave Payton dimples as she smiled coyly at her lover. “Well, hello there, sweetie,” she purred from the bed. She wore a robe that fit her modestly at her more slender size, but now a ripe bit of cleavage was on display, and the hem barely came to the top of her thighs, even while seated. “Hope you don’t mind that I beat you home - I’m having a bit of a fat day.”

      Gwen stammered for a moment, closing the door behind her and doing her best to take in all of the woman in front of her. “How did you… No, Where did you…” She scrambled over, moving slightly faster than she would if she were trying to hide her speed, and took Payton by the arm, feeling her as if to verify that the new flesh was indeed real. 

      “Skipping the foreplay tonight, mm?” Payton teased again, looking like the cat who had stuffed herself on a whole cage full of canaries. She swayed against Gwen, her own fingers brushing against the tight buttons of Gwen’s vest. “Wanna guess or should we skip to the answer?”

    “Definitely not skipping the foreplay.” Gwen insisted pressing Payton’s palm against her cheek. “In fact, we might have to dedicate some extra time for me to get acquainted.” She ran her fingers down Payton’s arm over her shoulder, across her collarbone and up her neck until she was holding the other woman’s cheek as well. “I have a hundred questions.” 

 

      “Well, don’t keep me waiting!” Payton grinned back. “I’m feeling clever and pretty and I want to preen for you.”

 

      “Was it Diode or Fountainhead that you convinced to steal more calorie serum?”

      Payton smirked back at Gwen. “My idea, but Diode confirmed that you might be interested in making use of it.”

      “And, I’m assuming this is the spray on kind?”

 

      “Mhmmmm,” Payton hummed, swaying again as she smirked.

      Gwen ran her free hand down the length of Payton’s side, her fingers following the curve of Payton’s ribs, dipping in briefly at her hips and then bowing out as she reached  her thighs. “How much do you have left?” She asked. When Payton didn’t respond right away, she tugged her eyes away from the soft, round expanse of Payton’s belly and met her eyes. “Sorry.” She blushed. “Just that last question.” 

      Payton hummed as she leaned in up on her tiptoes and pressed against Gwen’s belly and boobs. “A whole glove’s container,” she purred, pressing a light kiss to Gwen’s lips and letting her teeth brush against them after. “Atom helped me fix up the spray mechanism plus the antidote,” she added, hands already grabbing at Gwen’s belly. “Enough to have as much super-sized fun as we want… for both of us.”

      Gwen took in a sharp breath, remembering how big she’d gotten last time she’d been sprayed. Huge, bloated and helplessly fat. She moved her hips pressing her belly more closely against Payton as the smaller woman fondled her already super-fat body. 

      “Both of us?” She whispered. Something stirring deep within her. When she’d called Payton a pervert before, she had no idea it could be contagious. She lifted her wrist to her lips and spoke into her communicator watch, cringing at the way her voice cracked. “Hey, uh… Fountainhead. You two have things under control tonight, right?”

      “We’re grownups, Lance,” came the terse reply. “ We can handle a night on our own.”

      “How about a week?” Gwen asked. She could have sworn she could hear Diode cackling on the other end. There was a pause.

“Yeah, that’d be fine. Is everything okay?”

      “Super.” Lance responded. She hung up, still staring at Payton as her hands moved gently over her soft middle.

Payton’s eyebrow quirked back at Gwen, green eyes full of all kinds of ideas. “I wonder what it’d be like to have the world’s fastest woman with hips too wide for her doors,” she whispered, not sure if the watch would pick up her voice and not particularly worried if it did.

      “Only one way to find out,” Gwen whispered back. She went to undo the buttons on her blouse but thought better of it. Instead, she pulled up her shirt, revealing the pale flesh beneath. 

      Payton hummed, her hands following the hemline as it retreated higher, toes curling as she breathed out words that hadn’t gotten any less exhilarating since they’d first said them, “I love you.”

      “I love you back,” Gwen said as Payton pulled the trigger. Gwen’s tummy was covered in a fine spray of orange mist, and the first of many buttons that week popped blithely off her blouse. 


The End

payton and lancelot - Stand Your Ground.