#29: Not Indestructible

"Whitley, what would you most like to see me fit in my cleavage?" Krysta asked, descending the stairs with a notepad in her hands wearing pajama bottoms and a light blue tank top stretched nearly to translucency. She sat on the arm of the couch next to Whitley, who reclined in her favorite green chair beside her. "I am planning for this month's 'chesty challenge.'"

Whitley paused the volleyball jump serve YouTube video she was watching. "God your life is weird. Okay, a pickle jar, maybe? You hold it in your cleavage and then try to open it."

"Done it. And I will never do that again. Chafing."

"How many bottled beers can you hold in there?"

"Four. I have been doing this schtick for too long…"

"A bucket of fried chicken?"

Krysta jotted the idea down. "Hm, that is an intriguing idea."

"If you want to go that route, I'm happy to pick it up for you. It seems like a better alternative than raiding the leftover pizza in the freezer."

"Alicia should be making dinner. Is she not home yet?"


Krysta looked up with a hint of alarm. "Wait, are you sure?"

"Quite sure. She's pretty hard to miss. Why? Do you need someone to hold the camera while you eat chicken fingers out of your cleavage? 'Cuz I can do that."

"Thank you, but no. That is Alicia's job. She did not lift this morning, did she?"

"No, she came down straight from taking a nap after our jog. What's the deal?"

"It is nearly seven on a Sunday. If she has not been home, she has been at the AV studio on campus all day."


"So, she probably went to the campus gym."

"I imagine she'd like it. It's brand spankin' new."

"Whitley, Alicia does not skip arms and chest day, and she definitely does not do public gyms if she can avoid it."


"Too many people."

"She goes to anime conventions with literally tens of thousands of people!"

"Yeah, and those people worship her. This is...different."

Krysta called Alicia. A bubbly J-pop intro preceded Alicia singing her away message along with the Sailor Moon theme.

Iiiiiiiii'm not here. Leeeeeeave a message at the to-ooooone!

Krysta winced at the sound, swore, and hung up. "Ugh, I do not want to have to deal with this tonight."

"I'm sure she'll manage. What's the worst that could happen?"

Krysta's eyes widened as she considered the worst-case scenario. "I hope it does not come to that."

Whitley dragged herself out of her chair and stretched, placing her palms firmly on the ceiling. "Whatever happens, I'm gonna need dinner. Where did we stand on the fried chicken?"

Krysta bit her lip, thinking for a moment. "No, I have a different idea. How do you feel about ramen?"

"I'd totally watch you try to eat noodles out of your tits."

"I meant for dinner," Krysta said. "Though, now that you mention it…"

"Sorry, I know I have it here somewhere."

"Take your time. No prob," Cory said, sighing as a freshman fished through his backpack for his student ID. Between practice, weights, and travel, football already sucked up fifty hours a week of his time. Now his new part-time job at the gym sucked up twenty more. He had the option to work out during his shifts if he wanted to, but he'd already hit the gym with the team that morning. Between practice and homework, Cory’s job was his downtime. He was about to return to his reading when he caught a familiar and unexpected figure in the corner of his eye.

"Queen Alici?" he blurted.

The student searching for his ID paused and turned around. His jaw dropped at the larger-than-life sight of Alicia Freeman standing behind him. Alicia gave him a polite smile and turned to Cory.

"We're not in Anime Club, so 'Alicia' is fine. Besides, I haven't been Club Queen since I dropped out of NU three years ago."

"It's a lifetime title, and also pretty ingrained at this point." Cory's eyes narrowed. "You okay? You've got the someone-just-mispronounced-saké look."

"Burned up my whole day at the AV studio. If I go home now, I'll go right to sleep."

"The studio again? Are you still digitizing your Inuyasha VHS tapes? Just buy it on DVD, or borrow it from literally anyone else in Anime Club."

"I'm just going to do arms and chest real quick and get going." Alicia lifted onto her toes, trying to peek over Cory's Men's Health magazine, before leaning in. "You're not still reading Koe no Katachi, are you?" she whispered.

Cory yanked the magazine shut, nearly dropping the manga out from underneath. "Attack on Titan, thank you very much," he hissed through his teeth.

"Whatever, Mr. Football. You're secret's safe with me." Alicia grinned and stepped away. "Anyways, I gotta hit it so I can quit it."

Cory waved Alicia past, and she strode in, blinders on, directly to the free weights area. He could tell the crowded gym made her uneasy; Alicia avoided the gym on campus whenever possible. The last thing Cory needed was for her to have a panic attack and he'd have to call Campus Safety. He already stretched the rules by letting her in without a valid school ID.

The kid fishing for his ID stood gaping as Alicia slid past him. Some gawking kid was likely the last thing on Alicia's mind, but still, Cory respected her as a lifter, as a cosplayer, and as a person too much not to say anything.  He leaned in toward the kid.

"Don't worry about the ID this time, man. Go on in, but try and keep the staring to a minimum."

The kid shook his head, muttered an apology as well as his thanks, and shuffled into the gym. Cory watched as the guy stepped onto the elliptical and fumbled with the controls, all the while barely taking his eyes off Alicia for a second. She was a lot to take in, and the kid probably didn't know about her celebrity status in the cosplay world. Cory had known Alicia for several years, and even he had difficulty keeping his cool around her sometimes.

Cautiously scanning the gym around him, Cory adjusted his manga to ensure it remained hidden behind his magazine and dove back into his reading.

Ross could not tear his eyes away from her.

From the elliptical, he could observe her across the gym from a safe distance. She looked like a video game figure with the muscle mass slider maxed out. People, particularly women, were not built like her. Her torso blossomed from her trim, tight waist into a perfect V and broad shoulders. Her arms could have belonged to an NFL fullback. Her quads were like watermelons, bulging with power and vitality, yet smoothly sloping with femininity.

He watched Alicia move with grace and purpose to the bench, neither saying a word to anyone nor making eye contact. Her face remained focused and measured, even as she loaded two forty-five-pound plates onto each side of the bar. She set two fifty-pound dumbbells at the foot of the bench, with the intention of swiftly moving between two workouts.

Ross was pretty sure he could not curl fifty pounds and was dead certain he could not bench 225.

Alicia laid down and placed her hands on the bar, rotating her wrists three times as she gripped the metal. The weight rose smoothly off the rack, and she lowered and raised the bar with smooth, controlled motions. With each press, her face hardened, more out of determination than exertion. Her arms, carved, it seemed, from granite, handled the weight as if it were part of her body.

Her face puckered as she pressed out reps eleven and twelve before racking the weight and letting her arms fall to her sides. She smiled with joy and shimmied in a subdued victory dance. It took Ross by surprise, given her serious demeanor up to this moment. She suddenly looked almost girly.  She had a cute face, like the love interest in a television drama. Though she wore no makeup, she had a strong jawline, large blue eyes, and rich, golden hair.

There were guys in the gym who out-lifted her (though not many), but the relentless manner with which she attacked her workouts made clear this powerful young woman wanted to be bigger and stronger still. Where Ross had to force himself through barely thirty minutes on the elliptical, she appeared driven by the need to push her body's limits. Completing her twelve reps of dumbbell presses, her near maxed-out endurance turned to fuel, and she powered out three more.

As Alicia leaned over to set the dumbbells on the ground, Ross thought he'd caught her attention for the briefest of moments. His eyes almost instantly went to the television to hide his overt gaping, but the TV was off. Fortunately, she did not notice or did not care

"That is disgusting," Ross overheard a nearby girl say to her friend. Any other day, the girls' tight, sculpted bodies poured into a spandex tank top and yoga pants would have had Ross's rapt attention. Compared to Alicia however, a light breeze could have knocked them over.

And they were provoking her.

"Women's arms don't naturally look like that," Marie said. "She needs to lay off the steroids."

"Whatever she's taking," her friend replied. "Those are some impressive muscles."

"For a guy."

"Marie, come on. Give it a rest."

"No, it's gross. If I see 'her' in the women's locker room, I'm calling campus safety." She waited to see if Alicia would respond, but she only continued working through her final set on the bench. Racking the weight, Alicia sat up, looked Marie in the eyes, and smiled like she'd been noticed by the most handsome guy in the gym, instead of the bitchiest girl. Alicia stood and casually approached Marie, who impressively held her ground when faced with Alicia's intimidating physique.

"Excuse me. I heard what you said about me."

"Look, I'm sorry I said that stuff, okay?" Marie turned to walk away, but in a flash, Alicia took her by the wrist. Marie instinctively tried to pull away, but Alicia held her firm. Marie looked to the front desk for help, but the gym manager faced away from them with his head buried in a magazine. Only the calm, friendly look on Alicia's face stopped her short of screaming.

"What's your name?"

"Marie." She tried again to pull her wrist away, again with no success. If the steel grip was any indication, this girl could break her arm without even trying.

"Marie, I'm Alicia."


"Marie, why do you have to be mean, especially when you're so pretty?"

The complement caught Marie off-guard. "Um, thank you."

"You're welcome, Marie. Do you know I stay away from public gyms because of people like you saying the things you said?"

"I'm sorry."

"Are you really sorry you said it? Or are you just sorry I heard you?" Alicia asked in an unsettlingly friendly tone.

"I said I—"

"I think you're sorry I heard you. But you know what? I accept your apology. I'm a nice person Marie, and I'm not going to snap your arm like Pocky for saying such mean things about me."

"Th-thank you."

"But let me tell you how I usually respond when someone talks about me the way you did." Alicia's ghastly smile widened, as did her eyes, sending a chill down Marie's back. Alicia gently pulled Marie closer and whispered in her ear. Marie went instantly pale.

"I'm sorry I said it! I'll never say anything like that again!"

"Great! So we're done here." Alicia loosened her grip, and Marie snatched her hand away, cradling it to her chest. She turned and headed for the door, trying to keep her composure as she hurried out of the gym, leaving her water and exercise mat behind.

Alicia gently re-racked her weights. With a towel and spray bottle, she fastidiously wiped down the equipment she'd used, scrubbing every surface she'd touched. Her mouth had gone dry, and she took a gulp of water as she looked around for her bag which she found near her feet. Concentrating on her breathing, she tossed a towel over her shoulders and headed directly to the exit. Passing by the gym entrance, Cory looked up from his magazine.

"Yandere?" he asked.

"Gets 'em every time."

"Thanks for not making a big scene."

"No problem," Alicia said, feeling the tingling in the back of her scalp making its way to her forehead. "Bye, Cory."

"See ya, Queenie."

Alicia tried to laugh but managed something sounding like a cough. Her headache had reached her brow. Her vision blurred. Heading out the back entrance, Alicia took a quick cut around the corner to a nook behind two trees. She dropped to the ground and, with shaking hands, fished through her backpack for her inhaler. She took two puffs to stop her hyperventilating. Having staved off her anxiety attack, Alicia clutched her abdomen, bent over and wept into her knees, her convulsive sobs hidden under the roaring exhaust system.

After a couple of minutes, she felt her phone vibrate in her pocket. Retrieving it, she read the text from Krysta:

We ordered takeout. Ramen and saké waiting for you :-)

A laugh cut through her sobs. A message from Whitley followed soon after:

Hurry up. Krysta's gonna let us film her eating noodles out of her cleavage.


(That's noodles in between two tits)

Alicia wiped her eyes and typed a quick reply.


Alicia's hands had stopped shaking, and she was able to stand. Her breathing returned to normal. She was tired, hungry, rattled, and still a little anxious. On this particular evening, she could use the extra endorphins. She set off eastward, away from the main road which would add at least a half-mile to her route home.

"Noodle-tits. Lol."