Furry Story "Do or Die" by Ben Smith

zidanes

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Oct 2, 2011
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Costa Rica
The story wasn't made by me author here (http://www.furaffinity.net/view/26401259/). I wanted to share it with you guys.

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The locker room had been empty, but now it began to come to life. Seemingly large as a church knave, rows of lockers ran back and forth across the thin carpet, hard carpet, and lined round all four walls. At each locker a set of uniform was arranged above a seat, with red and white helmet on a shelf at head height; at waist height was a broad square-shouldered set of white armoured shoulder pads and numbered jersey with red highlights around the neck and across the shoulders, with a set of white padded knee-length armoured underneath it. Beneath the lot was a seat with a pair of cleated boots set squarely, purposefully, in the centre of the seat. This arrangement was the same for each locker, differing only in the number of the jersey over the pads on display, and the number overhead, and the name on the plate adjacent to it, as if a hundred sets of knightly armour had been reverently laid out in a temple to athleticism. All around the walls a series of slogans were printed in enormous letters like the mantra chanted in a ritual. DO OR DIE. PLAY THE GAME. JUST DO IT. And others, wherever you looked, a slogan.
A lion entered boisterously, surrounded by a gaggle of athletic bros. His confident laugh and nonchalant swagger marked him out as the leader of his little group, the rest of whom orbited him in their lettermen jackets and making him the centre of their group conversation. With his red and black leather letterman jacket, emblazoned on one breast with the words Senior Football Team, Quarterback and a list of games he’d won and on the other breast with the college crest, he wore denim jeans and brown leather boat shoes. His group of letterman-wearing jock bros split up and dispersed among their lockers with much giving and receiving of friendly slaps and punches from other bros, the other arriving groups of jocks doing the same, and the lion went to his locker, laughing and bragging with a wolf and cheetah whose lockers were either side of him. His own locker, #12, had a name plate next to it like all the others, the bottom of which read: Irving Jenkins; Solomon Jeffers; Flynn Coombs; Jayce Becket; Dixon Hobbes; Holden Brook; Leo Baldwin.
At his locker, more high fives and punches were exchanged with other bros – but not from Ethan, whose locker was besides theirs. But this was normal, Ethan was often late. None of them commented on Ethan’s lateness, the wolf and cheetah had slipped their own long footpaws out of their sweaty Adidas and Nike slides and sneaks, the three of them exchanged worried looks at Ethan’s empty place and got on with changing. These guys were both friends and rivals all at once, for Leo liked them, they liked him, and they had tons in common and practiced shoulder to shoulder and risked their necks for each other on the field of play; but also they were rivals, because Coach could technically make do with only one quarterback, could comfortably operate with as few as three – and his roster had ten. None of them were indispensable. More than once, Leo had stayed late at the gym to spot for a bro who needed the training, cos nobody wanted their bro to fuck up and get it in the neck, even if being the best by a good margin was the best way for him to stay on top himself. Leo shrugged out of his letterman jacket, hanging it up respectfully as though it were a kings mantle, and slipped his big feet out of his brown leather boat shoes. The leather insoles were moist and clammy from being worn all morning without socks, from having his strong feet flex and press against the leather padded insoles as he strutted about campus, and Leo smirked as he saw the impression his heel had made on the insole. All the members of his frat wore boat shoes like these, and for Leo it was another important signifier of his status: guys saw him, saw his letterman and knew he was a jock, saw his boat shoes and knew he was in the best frat too. Because of course he was, right?
Leo dropped his jeans and boxers to the floor and stepped out of them, shrugging off the jersey he’d worn beneath his jacket, folded and hung everything up. Now completely naked, he turned casually to continue bantering and laughing with his bros, who by now were also mostly naked, their cocks and ballsacks swinging free as they slapped each other on the shoulder, a few cocks knocking together as naked jock bro dudes slapped each others naked butts in greeting and stood super close together to flex biceps and compare gains. Laid back grunts of “No homo” were heard everywhere. Leo got out his jock strap and pulled it up, facing the bro he was talking to as he snapped the jock into position around his meaty cock and balls, the cheetah bro looking at it as he did so, then turning away as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened. The lion got into his white padded shorts that padded him down to the knees, laced up the crotch nice and tight, lowered the armoured frame of his upper body pads and red and white jersey over his body, strapping himself in and tugging at the red-lined collar in the traditional manner of the quarterback. That was another thing Leo did around campus when he wore his letterman: he tucked his fingers into the collar of his jacket and tugged at it absentmindedly as though he was wearing football pads and jersey, to remind any watchers that he was the team quarterback, the star quarterback who was gonna play pro one day. Pulling up his white socks, Leo stepped into his low-cut cleated black and white Nike boots, build for straight speed and manoeuvrability. Sitting on the seat of his locker he folded one leg over the other knee in order to lace up the boot, at eye level with the crotch of the wolf bro he was now talking to. Then he stood, armoured and padded and ready, the gorgeous mane that framed his whole head spilling out of the collar of his jersey front and back, hiding the collar.
Leo needed a piss. Slapping his bros on their padded backs and butts he turned away with a swish of his tail and swaggered across the changing room floor, weaving in and out of bros and brofisting some and high fiving and low fiving others, chest puffed out, magnificent mane bursting out the collar of his jersey, shoulders rocking from side to side as he went, cleated boots making muffled clacks on the thin carpet. But then he came face to face with a tiger. The brutish Bengal stood a head higher than Leo, his own collar of coarser hair framing his strong-jawed face, and at the sight of him his black and orange striped face contorted in a snarl, then a sneer, his feet, larger than Leo’s by at least two shoe sizes, standing square apart in his shin-height black white-highlighted Under Armour cleated boots. Leo instinctively puffed out his chest further, the tiger doing the same, both jocks throwing his shoulders back and his chin out, staring each other down.
The Bengal was stood next to his locker, #88. The nameplate had been renewed more recently than Leo’s, so the list was shorter, and read Braxton Hewitt, Jason Purcell, Linton Porter, Blake Brook.
Leo fixed his face into a calm, confident, commanding smile as though nothing was wrong.
“Blake” he said smoothly.
“Leo” said the tiger in the same forced calm, but with more open hostility. “You got some nerve coming over here.”
“We talked about this Blake” said Leo, projecting boredom as he turned his eyes up at the ceiling. “You still got a problem?”
A broad shouldered zebra and a honey badger had appeared at the tigers shoulders, looming behind him, muscular arms crossed, only partly padded up, flanking their fellow linesman. Leo felt the cheetah and wolf siddling up behind him to show support, and Leo also crossed his arms.
“You know what my problem is, Leo” said the tiger, a growl bleeding into his rumbling voice, leaning into Leo’s face so he could feel the tiger’s hot angry breath.
“Yeah?” said Leo, his pulse increasing slightly but knowing he couldn’t afford to back down. He squared his feet and pushed himself forwards and the two jocks jostled for the space between them with their chests, but with their chests somehow never touching. Both had unfolded their arms and held them aggressively at their sides. “Want me to say it again? Don’t play the game if you can’t take the pain.”
A ripple of anger went through the bigger guys around Blake. The tiger’s composure cracked and his meaty hand seized Leo’s jersey; Blake snarled, Leo sneered, their mouths almost touching, the tiger’s face fur ticking Leo’s snout.
“You’re gonna fuckin’ get yours one day, Leo. One day real fuckin’ soon! You ain’t barely scored all season, you almost got us all fucking necked last game with that fuckin’ interception, I dunno how much cock you have to suck to be allowed to stick around but when Coach finally has you heaved up to kick my brother’s boots off you can bet I’ll be there to see it.“
Leo’s bros were pressing in behind him, Blake’s beefy bros glared menacingly at the lion, other team bros had surrounded them, some taking sides, some not, but all watching. There was no way Leo could back down. Do or die. He could take Blake. So, he escalated.
“Get your hands off the uniform, Blake” said Leo with an air of forced calm and reasonableness. “Like it or not, it’s not your brother’s any more. Fits me better anyway.”
Some of the pads were indeed second hand, but the jersey was new for Leo, as it had to be for his surname to be printed on it. The point was still well made, and Blake’s plate-like paw became a fist, and he raised his other fist as though to strike. Leo stared him down.
“You fuckin’ –” began Blake. But he didn’t finish.
“Bros, bros! Take it easy, ey?” It was a deep rumble of a voice deeper even than Blake’s, slower, bordering on a drawl. Blake’s fury melted from his face and he looked as though he’d been caught doing something wrong; the circle of muscular watching bros parted to admit another, and will an upright, looming stride, a towering mustang reached them, the pause between each heavy clack of his enormous cleated boots highlighting his long steps. Leo’s pulse raced, though he was certain he hadn’t really done anything wrong. Colton Wescott, offensive Captain. “Blake, c’mon bro. Starting fights again?”
Colton was fully padded, having finished changing. His broad shoulders and tree-trunk arms boasted of a naturally large frame made larger by extensive workouts. His exposed arms and lower legs showed off his piebald colouration, thick white and red-brown splotches in large patches; his predominantly russet face had a wide white blaze down its entire length from his mane to his lips, and his mane was cropped short into a long strip of inch-long stubble down the back of his long, thick neck. The tiger paled at the horse’s question, and let go of Leo, straightening his back, staring front and centre with wide eyes, arms rigid at his side, shoulders and booted feet square, virtually standing to attention.
“Captain! No, Captain!”
Leo had begun to stand to attention as well – the horse was addressing them both, and they could both be punished – but the stallion gestured easily with a plate-like hand, and as both jocks relaxed slightly, the horse stood beside them both, placing an enormous hand placatingly on a padded shoulder of both of them.
“Better hope I believe you, Blake” said Colton, easy and friendly. “What happened last time I found you two fightin’?”
“We knelt with the Piss Heads, Cap’tn” said the tiger, eyes still wide, somehow mumbling loudly. “You said we threatened the team’s morale, and we had to gulp our punishment down. Captain, I-”
“And what did I tell you would happen if I found you fightin’ again, Blake?”
Blake was breathing quickly, Leo realised. The horse leaned in close as though listening for a confidential secret about to be shared.
“You said, uh…” said Blake, eyes darting to the horse’s kind face and away and back again, “You said, I’d kick my boots off like my brother, Captain. Y’said…”
“Louder, Blake. I don’t think your bros can hear.”
“You said you’d hoist me up personally with your own hands if you ever saw me strike a team bro again, Captain!” said Blake loudly, in a rush. “Y’said nothing was more important than team unity and if I fucked with that again I’d get it in the neck, Captain!”
Leo kept his face determinedly confidently impassive. It would lose him support if he was seen to gloat at the Captain’s intervention, it would make it seem as though he couldn’t have fought this battle on his own. There was a long silence.
“So what are you going to do, Blake?” said Colton in a low voice that everyone could hear. The tiger swallowed, seemed to suppress a shudder, and looked the horse full in the face with a gaunt look.
“I’m gonna take my punishment like a man, Capt’n” he said, breath shaking slightly on the inhale. “Gonna walk to the noose with m-”
The horse laughed, a low, friendly belly laugh, and clapped Blake on the back with a heavy slap.
“Blake, you crack me up, man. Didn’t actually hit him this time, did you? No, whatcha gonna do next game? Top quarterback, top offensive linesman, you bet you two are gonna be fielded together, and if you’ve got beef with him, whatcha gonna do when the big game rolls round?”
Gratitude seemed to flood the tiger’s face as he realised a blind eye was being turned.
“Gonna Defend My Quarterback, Captain!” he all but shouted into the horse’s face, and realising from the horse’s calm silence that more was needed, turned to Leo. “Leo, bro, I’m gonna put my fucking neck on the line for you next game. Aint nobody gonna sack you with me guarding your blind side, and if someone does get past me and you go down, I’ll noose myself and hand you the rope and – and…” The horse raised an encouraging eyebrow. The tiger finished, almost through his teeth, “…and you can heave me up like you did my brother.”
Colton waved a meaty hand to show he was satisfied. It was done as though in amusement, but both Leo and Blake knew it was binding. The two jocks held out a paw each, and in a painfully tight squeeze of leather game gloves shook hands, holding each other’s glare.
“Get on out to practice” said the horse. “Don’t wanna keep Coach waiting. He’s not in a good mood.”
Without another word the tiger pushed roughly past Leo, both jostling with a shoulder as he passed. The horse turned away from Leo, his number, #97, and WESCOTT emblazoned across his broad back. He looked round.
“Leo, I need to piss. Join me?”
The horse’s tail was cropped short at the poll. Colton went easily off to the bathroom, Leo sauntering after him, trying to look unworried. Some of his bros gave him encouraging smiles, some stared uncaringly, some sneered as though anticipating some punishment. Leo’s expression was unaffected and indifferent, though in truth he was very worried, wondering what he would say, wondering what was going to happen. The horse’s clacking cleats grew louder as he crossed the threshold between carpet and shower room tiles, and Leo followed him.
This wasn’t actually the shower room: it was a spare shower room that had been converted. All around the walls steel posts were driven into the floor, a distance of one long pace apart. At each post knelt a wretched figure. Fully padded and uniformed in the gear of a rival defeated team, their wrists and ankles strapped together behind the post they knelt at, these were the Piss Heads, players from doomed defeated teams who, instead of being hoisted to kick and croak like their teammates, were brought back as prisoners, as loot, as slaves, to serve as urinals to the superior men that had defeated them on the field. Each wore a football helmet, the only part of their uniform that was not part of their own kit: these helmets were black with a red Nike Swoosh, sealed tight at the neck, with the opening for the face and jaw encased like the rest of the head and the visor replaced with a black plate from which a pipe emerged and turned upwards, ending in a black funnel with a motivating slogan in bold red letters around the inside. A strap secured each prisoner’s neck to the pole he knelt at; an attachment at the back of the helmet secured the head directly to the pole. At each pole a Piss Head knelt in darkness, unable to so much as move their head, unable to do more than kneel in darkness and gulp down the piss of superior players. At the very centre of the room an additional three poles were clustered in a triangle, where three furs in Leo’s uniform knelt, facing out: these were for the teams own players who needed punishing, who needed reminding what it meant to not be treated like a member of the team.
As Leo and the horse captain entered, Leo saw a pair of canines, a big dogo tight end and a smaller boxer free safety, a heads difference in height between them, standing pressed stomach to stomach where they couldn’t be seen from the locker room, furiously making out. The dogo’s jowls wobbled and strove to entirely engulf the mouth of his smaller friend, and the panting muffled moans of both dogs were quite distinctively heard; the boxer had a hand reaching round to finger under the dogo’s tail, while the dogo had a huge hand thrust down his friend’s crotch where he was massaging cock and balls, grinding his crotch against his friend’s crotch and encouraging the entrance of the boxer’s gloved finger under his tail. Each dog’s spare hand grasped and groped at buttocks, biceps, anything, the dogo’s white furred biceps straining and rippling under the black tattoos he wore there, the words Do Or Die under the college’s crest with a noose framing the lot. At the clack of the horse’s cleated boots entering, the smaller dog looked up; the dogo grunted in protest as the boxer broke the kiss, and only moments later realised the boxer was staring passed him in alarm; the two dogs fumbled free of each other and stood to attention before their Captain.
“No homo, Captain!” declared the boxer, wide eyed. “We were just-”
“We’re not gay!” the dogo burst out, eyes wider. “Our balls didn’t touch or anything, we-”
The boxer couldn’t silence him. Then the horse jerked a thumb over his shoulder back at the changing room with a roll of his eyes, and the dogs raced out to safety in a clatter of cleats.
Colton slowly unlaced the crotch of his own padded trousers, pulling free his foot-long equine shlong. Leo tried hard not to stare at it, but it was impossible. Thick as an arm, a mottled pink baton of muscle and flesh thrusting from its black sheath, it seemed to swell and grow as Leo stared, his own cock hard in his jock – he had been hard since he’d felt Blake’s breath on his face, he realised – thick veins meandering back and forth down its length from the flaring tip to the heavy balls. Leo’s eyes snapped up at the horse’s face, where he saw the horse was watching him with a wry smile.
“No homo, Captain” said Leo hastily, but the horse only smiled and shook his head and turned away, as if to say, nothing you haven’t seen in the showerroom already bro. But he said nothing. Slowly, thoughtfully wrapping his huge palm around his thick cock and slowly sliding it up and down, Colton clacked his way round the three kneeling players in the centre of the shower room, as though making a weighty decision. Leo felt sick. He knew what was coming – it had almost happened to him – and he didn’t want to see. The lion let his eyes flit from the horse to the kneeling furs round the edge of the room, the lone survivors of their teams. None of them could see him, none of them could speak – under their helmets, they were gagged with foul jock straps from their own hanged team bros – and in several cases, when the uniform included socks pulled right up to the kneepads and long breathable sleeves down to the wrists, Leo couldn’t even see or remember what species they were, for their tails were out of sight. The varieties of uniforms and species round the walls was almost colourful, but every uniform had one colour in common: the yellow discolouration to the jersey of spilt piss. Leo’s eyes fixed on a wolf in black and gold pads who he remembered as another team’s quarterback, staring fixedly at the OUT OF ORDER sign that had been hung around his neck. The other Piss Heads moved a little in spite of their restraints, they moaned and spluttered into their gags and they seemed to tremble in place at their terrible fate, seemed rigid with anticipation for the next stream of piss, because nobody wanted to be caught unawares, while breathing you had to be constantly tensed and ready for the plosive sound of piss pattering into your funnel when you were a Piss Head, Leo remembered it with a shudder – but the black and gold black furred wolf was completely still, completely relaxed, unable to slump forward due to his restraints but as Leo passed him he saw how the funnel of his helmet was filled to the brim with a still, ripple-less lake of stinking golden liquid that had not been swallowed. Leo felt his pulse picking up as he wondered, Why did Colton make me come here with him? Fuck, I’m not gonna wind up like that poor fuck am I?
Colton saw Leo staring at the dead wolf, and his smirk made Leo sick with dread. Whatever it is, take it like a man he thought to himself. Colton stopped his slow pacing at a kneeling rhino – Leo had played alongside him, he was an ok guy, before he was sentenced to this he’d been a bro and Leo had hoped the rhino would serve his time and become a bro once more, cos Leo had found him fun to talk to. A big friendly wall of dumb muscle, the linesman had been widely liked, but seemingly unable to remember the playbook at crucial times. The team had won their last big game – but in spite of him. The kindly lug of a rhino had mixed up his playbook and run the wrong way and immediately after the game as it was not a first offence the big guy had been marched through the locker room pale in the face and sweating profusely as his small dark eyes darted nervously from bro to bro in search for a word of support that never came, to kneel in the place of punishment between a husky and a canine. Leo remembered the expression on the rhino’s face as he’d been pushed to his knees at the pole and strapped in place, his enormous high cut size 18 boots, white and silver with the C1N style name and Underarmour logo emblazoned across them folded uncomfortably under his padded thighs cleats-up. It had been a look half of pleading, half of bafflement, as a specially shaped elongated punishment helmet that would fit over his long head and horns was chosen from the variety available. Leo had even heard bros comfort the rhino as his small ears fluttered in fear as the soiled jock-strap gag was pressed into his mouth and the punishment helmet was lowered over his face and eyes, telling him kindly to man up and take his punishment and he’d be back on the team and a bro again in no time. And since then the big lug had been enormously punished. Well liked he may have been, but his mistake could have gotten the entire team hoisted in defeat and every bro knew it was his duty to punish that sort of fuck up. The rhino must have gulped down a gallon of piss each day since then. Leo had hoped the rhino would make it, and be welcomed back as he himself had once been.
But evidently Colton had decided this wouldn’t happen. Around the rhino’s neck, piss had continuously seeped drip by drip passed the seal where the helmet met the thick rough hide of his thick muscular neck. This moisture now slicked the rhino’s neck all the way round, all the way down to the collar of his jersey, which was stained yellow all the way down to the stomach, showing how far under the rhino’s uniform his body was slicked with spilt piss. It gleamed against the hide of his neck in the light of the shower room. Colton’s mass of cockmeat rested grossly on the rhino’s upturned funnel. Leo heard a faint whimpering start up from the helmet as the stale sweat from the horse’s cock let the rhino know who was getting ready to punish him. It was almost a muffled echoing sobbing. Poor fuck knew what was coming.
“Lemme ask you something, Leo” said Colton, casting Leo an unconcerned, easy-going smile. “When was the last time Blake was MVP?” He began to stroke his cock again. Words were impossible for the rhino with his encased head and thick gag of jock-straps. None the less Leo thought he heard half formed words among the panicked breathing and sobs. It was difficult to tell but Leo thought they might have been: Captain, I’m sorry, please don’t. Please don’t. I’m sorry.
“It was four games ago, Captain, when he sacked the enemy quarterback” said Leo, queasily, eyes darting to the horse’s mighty cock and back to his long face again, dreading the moment when he’d see the torrent begin and hear his friend splutter. Colton’s mouth twitched at the corner, understanding.
“And remind me what you did after that game, Leo? Because as I remember, you were kneeling right here for the second time in your career, bound and sightless, gulping down the piss of your bros for a mistake that could’ve cost us all our necks.” It began. An abrupt torrent of golden piss, angled sideways so it swirled around the funnel like a warm stinking whirlpool, sinking into the black depths of the pipe and down to the unseen rhino’s head. Instantly, a spluttering started up, the panicked breaths becoming short and sharp as the big guy tried to fit them between gulps of piss. The attempts at speech had stopped: the rhino knew he had to concentrate on his punishment to have any chance at all. “You know, I feel a little disrespected? I relieved my feelings as I relieved my bladder, and you choked and spluttered it down like a champ, I almost thought you wouldn’t manage it but you did. My neck, Leo.” Another muffled splutter from the rhino as he tried to take a breath, and timed it badly. “It’s been a very long time since you were MVP, Leo. You see where I’m going with this?”
Leo’s bravado was gone. He nodded rapidly, face blank with dread.
“Yescaptain” he managed.
“Meanwhile Blake keeps doing what he does, and he does it well. Sure, the offensive linesman doesn’t get as much of a chance to shine as the teams star quarterback, but our star quarterback isn’t exactly shining lately and Blake actually sacked the enemy quarterback last game, remember that? I thought that stoat had snapped his neck the way he hit the ground, Blake did real good that game, and when he lifted him up at the end of the game, well, you could see from his face that Blake knew he’d done a good job as the stoat kicked and drooled all down his jersey as he did his jig and pissed himself. Meanwhile, what did you do that game? Threw an interception.”
It was still flowing. A gulping, guzzling, was coming from the helmet now as the rhino held his breath and tried to Just Keep Swallowing. As the rhino did his best to gulp his punishment down the horse’s mighty meat continued to flood the helmet and showed no signs of abating. Leo almost stammered.
“It won’t happen again, Captain” he said, something very like pleading entering his voice. “I knelt with the Piss Heads and gulped my punishment down and next game I’m gonna get it right for sure.”
“There was a time, Leo” said Colton, still somehow pissing, shaking his head, “and I remember it because I was there, when Blake knelt with these other dumb fucks and drank your piss. You and Blake had beef, and I ordered him to kneel right next to where this fucker is kneeling now. He had beef with you, and you came to blows, and I ordered you both to kneel in this line and gulp down all the piss the rest of the roster could give you. Because when you run with the stakes we run with, Leo, nothing is more important that team unity, and if you’ve gotta gulp down the piss of your teammates to appreciate that then so be it. But, I made him kneel first, and strapped him into place first, and the first piss he had to swallow, before you had to kneel yourself, was yours. Remember that?”
The rhino was in trouble. Behind his back his palms were clenched into mighty fists, the black and yellow of his gloves creaking as he writhed against his bonds, his enormous boots flexing and stretching as his rank wide feet strained and crunched up and flexed inside them, his entire enormous padded uniformed body jerking and writhing in his bonds. But he could barely move. Most of his body could only move inches, but crucially, his head was secured to the pole and could move only a centimetre in any direction. And though flecks of piss danced out of the funnel and spattered the rhino’s helmet and shoulders, very little was spilt, and the horse’s continuous stream continued to swirl in a vortex down the funnel and pipe to the rhino’s desperate spluttering mouth. And he really was spluttering now, in earnest. Leo wanted to turn away, he didn’t want to see, but he didn’t dare, the horse’s still-spurting cock was a hypnotic sight and Leo wondered if it would ever stop. The rhino had breathed his first bit of piss, Leo could hear the new desperate note in his coughing and spluttering. Not long now – and they both knew it.
“Yes, Captain. Captain…”
“Because, although he had beef with you, you were our star quarterback” the horse interrupted. “And sure, Holden showed great promise as a quarterback, and even managed to shine once or twice – seriously, he was good, I was fielded alongside him a few times – but he was unlucky, he kept getting injured and then he had that thumb injury when we needed him most and he couldn’t play with the big finals coming up and our other quarterbacks were good but not mind-blowingly good, and Coach needed a great lead quarterback real fast, and then there’s this amazing lion at triouts so with the big game only days away Coach takes a risk and Holden gets it in the neck and this lion, this amazing new quarterback, steps into Holden’s cleated boots when they’re still warm and fresh off his still-twitching feet, and the next day, this lion, he destroys the enemy team, he’s a fucking machine, some of the best plays I’d ever seen. Like, if I’d been the enemy, if I’d lost to a quarterback doing what you did then, I would’ve taken my last walk of shame with my head held high, knowing that I was defeated by a lion who was as good as pro.” The rhino’s struggles had escalated all this while, his spluttering getting louder and more frequent until he was only spluttering and never swallowing, the horse talking louder and louder to be heard over the rhino’s struggles. Leo’s eyes widened as piss backed up the pipe into the funnel itself, which no longer drained into the rhino’s helmet: it was full. Bubbles burst violently from the pipe into the funnel, the rhino’s efforts and desperate writhing stepped up for a moment. Then he went still, limp, held up by his bonds, a final rush of bubbles into the funnel, then nothing. Colton grinned, continuing to piss, eyes locked with Leo’s, the surface rising higher and higher in the funnel. “Too bad we never really saw that lion again after that. We need to see more of that lion, Leo. And we need to see him soon.”
The piss reached the top of the funnel and spilt over. For a few seconds more Colton continued to piss, the surplus cascading down the outside of the funnel and onto the already slick helmeted head and already stained shoulders of the rhino, whose fists had gone into slack open leather gloved palms and whose booted feet had utterly relaxed and slightly splayed out under his body. Leo stared in shock. Colton finally finished his piss, and shook the last few drops from the tip of his mighty cock.
“Yes Captain” said Leo numbly.
The room seemed to spin, Leo felt his pulse pounding in his head. The horse stepped away from the broken Piss Head and strode slowly to the lion in three long, clacking strides, his erect cock still out of his padded shorts as he grimly stared the lion down. Leo stood to attention, every muscle tense. Was it coming now? Was he going to be punished now? The horse towered over him, long face wearing a very serious grim smile. Colton stopped in front of Leo, and very slowly, very pointedly, clapped each of his enormous heavy hands on the lion’s shoulders, thumb and fingers spread as though he were catching a ball in each of them. Already standing to attention, Leo strained every muscle in his body to stand even more so as he stared back into the horse’s dark eyes and the horse’s wide palms began to slide across his shoulder pads to envelop his neck, the horse’s rough leather game gloves feeling clammy and warm as they pushed past Leo’s mane and fur and began to squeeze. Leo bunched his gloved paws into fists and kept his arms stiff at his sides, eyes wide, gritting his teeth, rigidly at attention, obedient to his captain. Colton crossed his thumbs over Leo’s windpipe and continued his inexorable squeeze as the lion’s pulse pounded behind his eyes and his body screamed at him to fight or struggle. But Leo kept his composure even as lights began to dance in his vision and his ears began to ring, determined to take whatever the captain gave him like a man. The horse leaned his long head in closer and snorted into Leo’s face, a grunt that was either satisfaction or derision, Leo couldn’t tell.
“Do or die, Leo” he said in a low, deep voice, the whiskers of his chin and lips brushing the lion’s nose. “And if you can’t play the game…”
“Then …I’ll get the … pain … got it, Captain …won’t let you down…”
“Again. You won’t let us down, again. But hey, maybe when the big game rolls round next week you can show us you’ve still got it. Show us all that you for Holden was a good exchange after all.” Colton abruptly released Leo, who gasped, panted for breath, swayed where he stood, but remained at attention. Colton leered, pressed the palm of his leather glove against the lion’s cheek, and pressed his own forehead against Leo’s. Leo caught his breath. “I’m glad we had this chat Leo” he said seriously. “Remember. Do or die, Leo. Do. Or. Die.”
He gave Leo’s cheek a friendly pat, pushed past him, and strode from the shower room in a clacking of cleated boots, only beginning to put his cock away when he was well and truly out in the changing rooms where anyone could see it. Leo released his breath, every muscle relaxing at once, breathed fast and rapid and panicked and leant against the nearest pole for support. In the constant struggle for reputation and position, he was in serious trouble. But he could pull this back right? First, he had to have a good practice session, show his bros he was still serious about the team. Then he had to blow the competition away in the next game. Nothing simpler for a star quarterback like him right? Right?
The lion took a minute to pull himself together, and unsteadily got his own cock out, for he still needed a piss. A husky in all black pads on the wall facing the rhino was his chosen urinal, and totally not because that let him turn his back on the rhino and try not to think about the poor guy’s slack face and open mouth and blank expression under his encasing punishment helmet. Leo’s husky spluttered once at the beginning then hit his stride and gulped it down; Leo really needed to go and his piss was dark and rich, but the husky only started to cough on it when he was nearly done. Leo finished, the husky swallowed the last of it down, but the lion barely heard him, barely noticed the slogan RUN MORE THAN YOUR MOUTH that stood out in red around the inside of the funnel. He was still shaking, though much less, when he was done doing up his padded shorts and putting his cock away. Then he breathed deep, turned, and stood before the limp kneeling rhino, making himself take the sight in.
The red Nike swoosh on the black punishment helmet was positioned where the rhino’s eyes would have been and Leo stared at it as if trying to find expression there in the rhino’s encased head. The words JUST DO IT stood out around the inside of his funnel, the red colour made to look orange and watery through the horse’s piss. “Sorry bro” the lion said, voice just slightly shaking. Leo took a last breath, settled his face into his normal easy confidence, and left the shower room as if nothing had happened.
As soon as he was out of the shower room he saw several fully padded bros look up at the sight of him, some in surprise, some in relief; Leo made eye contact with several of them, looking as nonchalant as he could, and only once he’d moved away from the shower room did any of them head that way themselves, no doubt needing to piss but feeling like they had to respect the privacy of the Captain’s conversation with Leo. Whether or not Leo had been warned, punished or praised, the lion made sure they couldn’t guess from his expression, though the weight of acting unmoved was an oppressive burden. As the lion made to leave he passed the locker of the unfortunate rhino. Ever since the rhino had been taken to the shower room to begin his punishment, his locker had been respectfully undisturbed, left as he’d left it when he’d finished changing and gone out to play the game he’d so badly screw up in. The rhino’s pads and uniform were on his body so there wasn’t much of him hear at his locker: his game helmet had been put on its shelf by another bro, folded on the seat was the expansive grey tank top with its extra deep-cut arm openings that had let the rhino show off his armpits and muscled flanks of his upper body as he’d gone around campus, along with the blue short shorts that barely contained his package. On the floor in front of the locker were the rhino’s athletic slides, big enough that Leo could have put them on without taking his own football cleats off first: the dark blue moulded padded insole was worn and indented and darkened by a footprint-shaped impression where the rhino’s rank feet had worn and discoloured them, trodden them down with his weight. They sat there on the floor at an odd angle, from where the rhino had slipped them off in a hurry, and nobody had moved them since. His bros had hoped that he would survive his punishment, emerge from the shower room having learned his lesson, find his slides exactly where he’d left them and slip into them once more as though nothing had happened. But the captain had wanted to make an example, and it would be remembered. The rhino’s locker had been kept waiting for him, but now that he was definitely not coming back to it it would take no time at all for his locker to be cleared out ahead of triouts and his replacement. Leo couldn’t help but stare at the big guys old slides as he passed, soiled as they were with the rhino’s foot musk. Leo had a sudden mental image of someone else gathering up his own Timberland boat shoes and clothes from a locker he wasn’t going back to, and shuddered. C’mon Leo he thought as he passed. Just ace practice, then next week beast the big game. Do or Die. Just do it.
The lion stopped off at his own locker to grab his helmet. There was Ethan a few lockers down, shit the buff Doberman was still dressed in black jogging bottoms, white tank top with normal high cut sleeve openings, Hi Tech gym shoes, barely arrived. “Ethan, get a fucking move on bro!” Leo called to him as he slapped him on the butt as he went past him, the projection of confidence and authority coming back to him easily in giving an order to someone lower down the ladder, “Don’t want to make Coach wait do you bro? Colton say’s Coach is pissed already.” It was said loudly enough to let others know his conference with the horse was nothing out of the ordinary; Ethan paled, and did actually try to hurry. A smirk of satisfaction, and Leo clacked his confident way out of the changing rooms to the pitch, to warm up with his bros for practice.

**

It was a boiling hot day, and when Leo swaggered out onto the pitch in his pads and armour and underarmour and thick fur he felt immediately oppressed by the heat. The grass from the pitch made a slight improvement to the shimmering heat haze of a hot summer day, but not by enough. But sweat was weakness leaving the body, right? Heh.
Sauntering out to the centre of the enormous football field, Leo took up position near the middle of the group of padded uniformed furs, the whole team roster, almost a hundred buff athletic guys in their form fitting uniforms, spread out over the centre of the field, warming up. Leo would have liked to have lingered on the edge of the group to avoid unnecessary attention, but he had his status to defend. Near the very centre were the four captains, one for each type of team Coach might wish to field; Colton was there, lowering slowly into a squat, extending one thick leg out to one side as he did so, stretching the muscles of his back and neck. The defensive captain, a mighty grizzly, was doing lunges, making idle chat with Colton, talking loudly and casually about which players were up and which were down, who was doing well and who needed to give more. Leo sat on the cool grass a dozen paces from the captains, in the same orbit of players who weighted themselves as highly as he did himself, and began to stretch, reaching for his own cleated foot with his leg out straight, taking the ball of his foot in his hand and feeling the strain with arm and thigh.
The grizzlies words abruptly floated over to him, “...and what about that lion of yours, Stan? He gonna bring the thunder next week, or is he gonna get the noose, or what?” Leo grew hot, feeling the weight of his teammates discreet glances, feeling his status standing on a knife edge, and tried to go on as if nothing had happened. Stan Wilson, the German Shepard quarterback captain, was on all fours as if kneeling to be beheaded on an invisible chopping block, the spikes of his shoes glinting in the sun as he bent his feet. “Leo's still got it” said the canine, just as loudly, “If Coach still believes in him, then so do I.” “I spoke to him already” came Colton’s rumble, “He knows what’s expected. He’s gonna kill next game.” Grizzly and canine grunted, and the diminutive ocelot special captain started talking about someone else, and the other captains joined in. Leo felt his pulse steadying, felt the appraising looks of his teammates shift to someone else as the captains talked on about other guys.
As they spoke, they and all their players stretching and warming up their muscular bodies, some of the lads they spoke about moved almost nearer or further from them as the captains indicated that player’s changing favour. But Leo was thinking to himself: for now, he was safe. Sure, all his bros knew he was on notice, it had been announced in front of everyone that he *had* to impress them this coming game. But in the meantime, he hadn’t lost face. He had a window of time to fix this. He could still pull this back – he just had to put in a good practice, and then steamroll the other team in the big game, which he could totally do, no sweat. And sure, his breathing had quickened and he’d felt the rush of adrenaline and dread as his performance during the big game got more important, as the stakes began to build more and more – but that was normal. That happened every game. He’d clawed his reputation back from worse positions than this before. After all, as Colton had so pointedly reminded him, more than once Leo had knelt bound and blinded and gulped down the piss of his bros, and now here he was, still the star quarterback. He could do this. Just focus on practice. Then beast the game.
Stretching wrapped up, and there was a few minutes for the bros to mingle, roughly embrace in greeting, more of the high fiving that had gone on in the locker room, but this time the energy was more restrained and focused on what they’d soon be doing together. A little way off, Leo saw a bull talking earnestly to Blake, and recognised him as someone who’d gone into the shower room to take a piss when Leo had left – were they talking about the unfortunate rhino? The bull seemed to be talking low and fast, Blake looked down at the ground with his hands on his hips, spacing his feet apart, nodding at the ground as the bull spoke; then they moved apart after a solemn, subdued brofist, and Blake chewed his lip alone for several long moments. Leo looked away, but a minute later heard deliberate boot-treads in the grass behind him.
“Leo, hold up”. It was Blake, and Leo turned nonchalantly to face him, and was about to speak coolly, but Blake got in ahead of him. “Look, Leo … bro. I meant what I said, yeah? I –” He took a deep breath, face deeply conflicted. “I really am gonna Defend My Quarterback. Really am gonna put my neck out for you. Yeah?”
Leo almost didn’t know what to say. In and of itself, what Blake had said was completely unnecessary to say; Leo knew what it really meant, but it was so unexpected, for the sake of having something to do with his paws Leo thrust out his chest and tugged at the collar of his jersey in a typical gesture of laid back quarterback confidence.
“Thanks, bro” he said eventually. “That means a lot. You and me, we’re gonna get so many touch downs. Those guys aren’t gonna stand a chance.”
“Look forward to hoistin’ ‘em with you bro” said Blake, and after a pause, offered his meaty gloved fist. A brofist, and Blake headed off to stand with his normal crowd. Leo tugged at his jersey again and headed the other way, head spinning at the sudden change in dynamic. The rhino had been maybe the only guy on the team who both he and Blake both considered a really good bro. Was that what this was about?
A piercing whistle split the air; almost before he’d consciously registered hearing it, Leo was in the action of turning smartly about to face the sound, one cleated foot raising and stomping down square beside the other as the lion snapped smartly to attention, banging his armoured chest with his fist and snapping both arms at his sides, his jaws splitting to roar. The air thundered with the roars, barks and shouts of a hundred armoured hunks greeting their Coach. Then, silence.
Leo felt his prick harden in the tight jock of his form-fitting padded shorts. Like his bros he stood ruler straight, face contorted in furious reverence, panting and breathless from his roar of respect. Coach. Leo felt his heart beat faster at the sight of the fur he’d do anything for, who he’d kill for, whose team he’d die for, whose name he panted under his breath as he worked out at the gym when he was struggling to complete a set of lifts and needed to drive himself on, drenched in sweat and trembling with exhaustion as he was. Every bro on the team was the same.
The panther rippled with toned muscle under his black sports shirt; his meaty thighs strained against the legs of his black shorts. His whistle sat on its black cord against his barrel chest. Leo strained to puff his chest out further and stand taller as the panther cast a long stare round at the semicircle of hunks that stood around him, all anxious like Leo to catch Coach’s eye and simply be noticed by him.
“Alright boys” growled the panther. “Take a knee.”
Almost a hundred althetic furs dropped to the grass, one hand on the raised knee, the other hand holding their helmets under their arm, their bodies ruler straight from head to the knee that touched the grass, forming a right angle with the foot that stuck behind them.
“Lets just say” said Coach in a slow, menacing voice as he began to pace in front of the kneeling jocks, “That you boys have won a few games this season that, to put it bluntly, you didn’t deserve to win. Yes, you’ve hoisted every enemy team to date this season. But game after game, I see sloppiness creeping in.” He was talking louder and louder as his face began to twist into an angry snarl. “Opportunities missed. Failed turnovers, thrown interceptions-” Leo blushed furiously, his heart pounding, “-fumbled catches, sloppy defence, one or two of you almost blew a touchdown for want of being able to fucking catch”, his voice was rising and rising, “and I hate to tell you, but when you boys heaved up those losers last game, yes I let you celebrate, yes I let you fuck ‘em first, but when you heaved ‘em up at last, I don’t think you realise what a close fucking thing it was. Could’ve been you, boys! Should have been you, the way some of you played. Now, the guys you’re playing next week are fucking good. You think you can beat ‘em, you can get head off ‘em before you pull ‘em up and see ‘em kick – but it’s not going to happen unless this sloppiness ends.” Leo trembled, relieved that his thrown interception had been mentioned only as part of a longer list. He really needed to up his game next week. The panther took a deep breath, as if mastering his anger – and just as he was looking round, at the worst possible time, his eyes narrowed as he noticed something, and his expression blackened. “We’re missing heads” he said sharply. “What, can some of you not be fucked to come to fucking practice now?” An awful pause. “WHO ARE WE MISSING?”
And then, at the worst possible moment, Ethan ran onto the pitch. Late again.
Leo saw the Doberman’s panicked expression deepen as he saw the kneeling players formed up around Coach. No fucking way he could just slip in now. Coach rounded on the unfortunate canine, staring daggers at him as he jogged briskly up the kneeling group, red in the face, ears flattened in submission and fear. Leo saw him hesitate: straight to the group with minimal disruption, or risk an apology to Coach? The Doberman headed for the group, and made to kneel at the back, farthest from the smouldering panther.
“What? No, no no no” said the panther, grimly. “You don’t kneel with the team, boy. You don’t give a shit about practice? Well, fine. You’re fucking dead.”
Leo could see Ethan out the corner of his eye: he wanted to look at him, but kept his eyes unblinking on Coach instead. Even so, he saw the Doberman stand to attention.
“P-permission to speak, Coach!” the canine barked out in alarm. But the panther wasn’t looking at him anymore.
“Wilson!” growled the panther. The German Shepard quarterback captain was on his feet and at attention immediately. “COACH!” “He’s one of yours, isn’t he? Hoist him.” “Yes Coach!”
Stanley strode through the kneeling players to the stunned Doberman quarterback at the back of the crowd. Leo didn’t dare look round to offer the Doberman a sympathetic look: a ripple of tense stiffening spread through the kneeling jocks as they sat up straighter. The panther glared round at them all and was about to speak again – but the Doberman interrupted him. Leo’s eyes widened.
“No Coach, wait! It was a mistake, I’m fucking sorry, I got new insoles for my cleats and I couldn’t find them when I left my frat house and then I couldn’t get them in my boots, I swear to fuck it won’t happen again – no Captain stop, Coach don’t hang me…”
The panther really did snarl, and spat, “Baldwin!” Leo was on his feet in an instant, before he’d even consciously registered hearing his own name, blood rushing from his head from the speed with which he rose. “COACH!” Leo already knew what the order would be, and sure enough the panther snapped his fingers wordlessly at the wrestling canines.
Leo put his helmet gingerly on the turf, and weaved through his kneeling bros at a run. The German Shephard had thrown his arms around the Doberman’s shoulders and was trying to wrestle his arms behind his back, trying to march him away from his kneeling bros, but Ethan was loosing it. He had dug his cleated heels into the turf and wouldn’t budge, was rapidly shaking his head with wide, terrified eyes, his pleading rapidly giving way to begging, Leo could actually see the tears in the dog’s eyes, and all his bros stared wide-eyed and alarmed at their Coach, many openly nervous about how Ethan’s outrageous loss of composure would affect Coach’s temper. Stanley managed to twist one of the Doberman’s meaty arms behind his back with both hands, Leo got the other, and a third bro, a badger from the defensive team, unasked, leapt to his feet and joined them; the three of them pinned Ethan’s struggling body between them, and between them they bound his gloved paws. The badger returned to the kneeling pack; Leo and Stanley began to bundle Ethan away.
“WESCOTT!” the panther shouted abruptly, having run his piercing eyes over the jocks. The horse sprang up. “COACH!” “We’re missing a tight end and a free safety. Your boys?” “Yes Coach!” “Well, where the fuck are they?!” “They, uh, they definitely left the locker room, Coach…” As Leo forced Ethan to march, he risked a glance back at the kneeling jocks, Colton stood to attention among them. “You don’t fucking know” said the panther, flatly. “COACH! As their Captain I take responsibility for their actions, Coach. Say the word, and I’ll take my punishment like a man.” Leo saw an expression of grim dread pass over Stanley’s face, felt it pass through his own body. If Colton could swing, nobody was safe. The panther stared at Colton grimly. Stanley and Leo unthinkingly stopped in their efforts to bundle Ethan away, the whole team stared fixedly at Coach. It could go either way. “I’ll give you twenty minutes” said the panther eventually, in a low, furious growl, “to find those fucking slackers and hoist ‘em. If you haven’t set ‘em kicking in that time, boyo, get one of your teammates to pull you up, and don’t fucking let me see your face until it’s swollen and purple. Them or you. MOVE!”
At this final shout, Leo and Stanley remembered themselves and heaved at the Doberman, who began to stumble away towards the field goals between his padded sweating escort. Colton passed them at a sprint in the direction of the locker room, opening up the explosive power of his whole muscle-bound frame to burst forward, his enormous cleats eating up the field as he raced away. Leo saw the grit determination in his set jaw and grim eyes: like fuck was he going to hang for those dogs. Behind them, Coach was setting everyone to a gruelling set of sit ups and press ups.
“Guys, I’m sorry” whined Ethan suddenly when they had him half way to the field goal. The fight had been going out of him gradually, and now his broad padded shoulders sagged. “I don’t know what came over me, I didn’t mean to wuss out back there.”
The German Shephard looked awkwardly to one side, ears twitching uncomfortably.
“It’s ok bro” he said. “It can happen to anyone. Important thing is that you’re gonna man up now and take it like a man, yeah?” Coach was shouting something inaudibly angry after them, gesturing after where Colton had gone. To Leo, Stanley added in a lower voice, “You got this, Leo? I’d better go help Colton find those guys.”
Ethan flattened his folded ears with a whine, but nodded, jaw squared. Leo shifted his grip from the dogs arm to his shoulder, where he felt the weight of his paw might be more reassuring.
“You can count on me, Captain” said Leo, with a laidback nonchalance he definitely didn’t feel. The German Shephard sprinted off. Leo didn’t want to be unkind, but he was still in sight of Coach and his bros and couldn’t look weak: he gave the Doberman a firm push between his shoulderblades, and Ethan, gritting his teeth and flattening his ears and screwing up his face as though flinching, mercifully strode forward towards the field goal.
“What the hell happened, Ethan?” asked Leo as soon as he thought they were out of earshot of them all. “First you’re late, then you almost bottle it. Coach is gonna be so mad now, he’s way more likely to noose up another bro.” And now if I so much as fumble a catch today he thought, as they strode on, Coach’ll have me necked for sure. Thanks, Ethan. Nice one bro. Fuck.
“Gee, I’m sorry Leo” said Ethan bitterly. “I’m so fucking sorry. But then, you’re our star quarterback, the best of the best; no way Coach’ll ever hang you, so the fuck do you care?” But then he groaned, turning his head over his shoulder to look at his lion bro with a pained expression. “Bro, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean that. Of course I’m glad Coach has kept you around.”
“S’alright, bro” said Leo easily, though the blood had rushed to his face a little. “I get it, you say shit you don’t mean when you’re upset.”
“I shouldn’t have gone to that frat party last night. You were going, and so were a bunch of other bros, and I had a great time, but I guess I drank too much cos I overslept this morning with a sore ass, fuck knows what happened. That’s why I’m late. And, I dunno why I couldn’t just man up and take it, I know you would.”
“Don’t beat yourself up about it bro” said Leo, feeling bad. Should he have looked out for his bro, made sure the Doberman left the party? The field goal loomed ahead. “I guess you were just caught by surprise, y’know? You’d’ve taken it on the chin for sure if it hadn’t been so unexpected, right?”
“Sure! Like, I’m in this desperate panic to make practice on time, I’ve been rushing and freaking out about it since I woke up, and I’m so sure I’m gonna make it, it’s a really close and scary thing but I’m gonna make it, and then I get here and I see all the bros kneeling round Coach already and I think fuck, I’m kneeling with the Piss Heads right? And I was so ready to man up and take that punishment…”
“Sure, sure. Not your fault, you didn’t know Coach was so pissed. If you had…”
“If I had, I’d have known I was dead fucking meat the moment I saw the bros kneeling already, and I’d have been ready for it, would’ve manned up easy.”
Ethan was breathing heavily, glancing forwards at the field goal and back at Leo and forward again. Leo patted his shoulder.
“C’mon bro, just hang in there, keep it together and it’ll be over before you know it.” Leo gave him a toothy smile, but the Doberman suddenly looked conflicted. They arrived under the field goal; Leo marched the Doberman into position under one end of the horizontal bar – subconsciously realising that he was leaving room for other bros to swing – and Ethan turned slowly, deliberately around to face him, legs apart, chin up, but shaking all over. Leo gripped his shoulder and gave it a squeeze as he walked past; the Doberman had shut his eyes, turned his head up and to one side, bracing himself, trying to forget what was happening. Leo went to the post of the field goal a few long confident strides behind the horizontal bar the doomed Doberman stood beneath, found the box behind it. It was a Nike Standard Issue Discipline Crate, all in black – for an extra fee they could be ordered in a team’s colours, but Coach had stuck to the regular catalogue variant – with the ubiquitous Nike swoosh in red. Inside the box were various discipline sundries, including handcuffs, hollow ballgags, brutal dildos and literal nutcrackers, all logoed and in corporate colours: a crowd of spectators could get really worked up after a game, and sometime the victorious executioners had to go the extra mile to put on a show, keep ‘em satisfied and prevent them storming the pitch and tearing everyone to shreds. There were also large numbers of leather total-coverage hoods, coming in black with a red swoosh across the eyes or visa versa – Leo thought the red on black was better – and with grim slogans printed on the back of the head like FAILIURE IS NOT AN OPTION, or DEFEAT IS PAID FOR IN SWEAT, HUMILIATION AND AGONY, or SUCCESS ISNT GIVEN, ITS EARNED … AND I DIDN’T EARN IT, or PRETTY GOOD ISNT GOOD ENOUGH, and Leo’s own favourite, DON’T RUN AWAY FROM CHALLENGES, HOIST THEM UP. There was YESTERDAY I SAID TOMORROW, or THINK TRAININGS HARD? TRY LOSING, or its accompanying hood – when they won, the team always tried to put them on two furs who would swing side by side – THINK LOSINGS HARD? TRY HANGING. There was THEY CAN’T HOIST WHAT THEY CAN’T CATCH – BUT THEY COULD CATCH ME. The lion held one up, then another. YOU CANT SPELL FAILIURE WITHOUT A U, and LIFE IS A SPORT, MAKE IT COUNT.
“You alright there, bro? Not freaking out?”
The Doberman, standing thick legs akimbo with his back to him, shook his head without looking round. So, Ethan was able to man up after all. Leo felt a bit relieved. He liked Ethan, even if the Doberman was always hanging round him uninvited and getting in the way and getting fucked at frat parties. The lion pushed his gloved hands past the mass of hoods, looking for the ropes. They only used the hoods on defeated teams: when Coach wanted an example made, when some poor fuck got Suspended From The Team, the hoods stayed off, the twisting snarling masks of fear and agony the thrashing bros wore as they got hoisted on show, their bulging glassy eyes and swollen drooling faces on full display for any passing bro to see, and tremble at.
He found a coiled bright Nike red rope under the hoods and went to stand several paces behind the Doberman, unclipping the end of the rope from itself, holding it in one paw, holding the coil in the other. Taking a few long strides of run-up Leo crossed his ankles with both feet off the ground as though it were him being hanged, and launched the coil of rope over the horizontal bar as though it were a football. He easily made the height, the coil leaving a trail of rope behind it like a wet football would if thrown in the rain. The coil dropped down over the horizontal bar, unravelled to its full extent, ending in a noose which suddenly appeared before the Doberman’s face, who flinched his head and whined, but the rest of his body remained firmly in place. Dropping his end of the rope to the grass, Leo came up behind the Doberman, who had partly turned his face away from the bright red noose with an expression almost of fearful revulsion, but he kept his eyes on it, as though unable to turn away. Leo clapped a hand on his shoulder, making him jump.
“C’mon bro” said Ethan shakily as Leo came in front of him, “Don’t drag it out. Get it on me already, jeez.”
Leo stood before his bro, spreading his cleated feet to mimic his broad stance. The stiff toetips of their game cleats were an inch from each other, the Doberman and lion quarterbacks staring intensely at each other, mouths a paws lengths apart, the noose framing their view of each other. Bright red, a centimetre thick and coated in plastic, the words JUST DO IT repeating along its whole length in black, except over the knot, where the inevitable Nike swoosh appeared. Ethan was breathing heavily, but he no longer turned away from the noose, his gaze fixed unblinking on Leo’s face, his whole body rigid. Leo took the rubberised rope and knot in his gloved hands, feeling it squeak under the sweaty rank leather, and opened the loop. Then, holding both sides of the loop between both hands, he began to pass it along the Doberman’s snout, to the side of his face, the sweaty leather of lion’s gloved fingers brushing the Doberman’s coarse-haired cheekbones, making the lion’s gloves smell of dog; Ethan tensed his jaw and his eyes stared harder at Leo, as though by focusing on his bro’s face more he’d be able to ignore the noose; the Doberman shuddered at the touch of Leo’s gloved hands, the Doberman let out a breath and quivered all over; Leo pushed the loop firmly but slowly over the Doberman’s head, pushing past his folded ears, the lion going onto the balls of his feet, traces of rank moisture squeezing from his game socks against the pads of his footpaws as he leaned forward to reach behind Ethan’s head. Both Leo’s hands came together to slide the loop closed and the knot down until it settled behind the Doberman’s ears, the rubberised rope fixing into place under the dog’s jaw, Leo leaning forward to tighten it fully, the two quarterback’s bulging padded crotch’s pressing together as he did so, their mouths almost touching, the dog’s breath warm and heavy against Leo’s face…
The Doberman jerked forward, pressed his mouth against Leo’s, and firmly kissed him.
The lion froze rigid in surprise, hands still behind the dog’s head gripping his noose, as Ethan’s tongue pressed forcefully into Leo’s mouth, the taste of the dog’s tongue snapping Leo back to himself, making him pull back his head, though his hands still gripped the rope and their crotch’s still pressed together. Leo tried to speak, eyes wider than Ethan’s, couldn’t, and then Ethan spoke first.
“Leo, I … fuck, I wanted to tell you but I don’t…” A deep breath, and suddenly the Doberman had a spark of courage. “This is my last chance to say this, I could never really get you alone long enough before now and whenever I did I bottled it, but I always wished we were better bros than we are? I really like you, and I, uh-”
“Dude, don’t make this weird” said Leo, pleadingly, suddenly realising, suddenly remembering that Ethan had gone for tryouts the first opportunity he got following Leo’s ascension to the team, that Ethan’s failed attempt to join Leo’s exclusive frat came shortly after Leo’s joining. “You’re a bro, but no homo right?”
“Yes fucking homo!” barked Ethan, loudly enough that Leo looked around to see if they’d been heard. “I’m about to get it in the neck, I’ll make it as weird as I damn well please.”
A thought suddenly struck Leo.
“I knew I saw you looking in the showers! And you did have an erection that time I whipped you with a wet towel. And – and … oh, jeez Ethan, you were sniffing my jock that time! And you said no homo and everything!” The Doberman groaned and blushed, briefly breaking eye contact, ears flat in embarrassment. Leo let go of the rope and put both hands on the Doberman’s shoulders. “Look bro, its fine. I just … I’m sorry bro, I really wish we could talk this out properly but I’ve gotta hoist you and get back to the guys, I’ll get it in the neck too if I take too long.”
“Kiss me properly first” growled Ethan, newly assertive, “Put your tongue in my mouth before you hoist me up. Fuck ups like me don’t get a last request, they get the rope, but I’m a bro right? You can’t say no to a bro, bro.”
“Bro, I –” Leo was about to say no homo again, but stopped himself, checking over his shoulder to see how the rest of the bros were doing. Coach had them all doing press ups facing away and was standing with his back to Leo – he actually did have a window of opportunity. “Fuck it, what are bros for, right?”
Leo cocked his head and pressed his jaws against the Doberman's, who startled by his sudden good fortune went wide eyed and stiff, but a second later responded, pressing forward with eyes shut and a whine of desire, mashing jaws with his bro. Leo's rough tongue met Ethan’s long slobbery one and they wound round each other, tasting each other’s’ breath and spit, wresting back and forth between their mouths in a contest for dominance; the lion's bulging padded shorts rubbing on Ethan's made a stimulating friction and Leo felt his barbed prick beginning to pulse and throb and tingle; Leo felt himself lose control, with one gloved paw he grabbed a fistful of the Doberman's headfur, pressing the dog's eager face harder against his own; with the other paw he pushed, fumbled, forced his way down the front of the dog's game shorts, not bothering to loosen the laces of the crotch but rather using the strength of his fist to get at the dog's sweaty bulging jock, Leo's gloved palm wrapped around the Doberman's sweaty, slippery erection from above and in the tight confines of Ethan's tightly laced padded shorts, the lion began to roughly jerk him off, his thumb squeezing up and down the underside of the canine's prick; Ethan's whines and growls became even more eager and the writhing of his tongue with Leo's became more frantic, until, all too soon, standing on the balls of his feet as though the slack were already out of his rope, Ethan yelped, yipped, almost barked into Leo's mouth and thrusting his hips hard against Leo's busily jerking fist shot rope after rope of warm sticky dog cum into Leo's tight fist, and panting wetly, leant heavily against the Lion, resting his head on his padded shoulder, gasping for breath, padded knees shaking, finally breaking the kiss.
After a long pause, Leo withdrew his sticky gloved paw from the Doberman's crotch, let go of his headfur, and rested his non-cummy hand on his shoulder.
“Going up now, bro” he said gently, regretfully, his own prick hard and erect and dripping as it strained against his jock, aching for the Doberman to jerk it off in turn. But the Doberman's paws were bound; Leo thought he would have to explore these feelings on his own, after practice. Maybe swipe the Doberman's sneakers from his locker for the memory aide of scent? He wouldn’t be needing them anyway.
Ethan raised his head from Leo's shoulder and licked his cheek.
“Sure thing. Thanks bro” he said. Leo patted his shoulder and stepped away, his thighs and crotch feeling suddenly cool as they lost contact with the Doberman. Catching sight of his cum-smeared palm, Leo quickly stuffed it down his own padded shorts and wiped it off against his own jock – nothing weird about that right, if he wiped it on his jersey it would show. He took up the bright Nike-red rope in both paws, pulled alternatively with both paws as if pulling a bucket out of a well, and when the rope was taught, and the noose was tugging under the Doberman's jaws, Ethan straightened his back, braced his shoulders, spaced his large cleated feet, raised his chin, eyes straight forward. Leo braced his cleated boots against the turf, clutching the rope in both paws as high up as he could reach, leant back into the tension away from Ethan, and heaved.
With a grunt and a *hURK* Ethan was jerked to the balls of his feet, to his stiff toetips, and away, the dogs long legs kicked apart front and back beneath him like opposing cleated pendulums, his long feet flapping down so that the bridge of each foot was parallel to his shins, his toes brushing the wet grass. Remains of the dog's cum on Leo's glove made the rubberised rope slippery and as the lion dug his cleats hard into the turf and bent his legs and pushed off backwards to heave the dog up another foot he lost several inches and the Doberman dropped back to the balls of his feet with a painful hacking choking splutter and remained there, straining on the balls of his feet, audibly choking; Leo braced himself again, biceps straining and thigh muscles bulging under his padded shorts as he grit his teeth as much as the Doberman was baring his and heaved once more. Ethan left the ground alive for the last time, and began to thrash, gloved paws in sweaty fists behind his back rising up his back from the seat of his shorts and his thrashing stubby tail as his own biceps bulged and strained and his padded shoulders jerked side to side as he fought to free his bound arms, long legs thrashing and jerking beneath him in their long white socks. Leo put paw over paw, sweat trickling through his fur under his pads as he strained and strained to draw Ethan up inch by inch, the dogs pointed toes shuddering and stabbing for grass that receded from their reach. The Doberman began to turn on his rope, the Nike swoosh of the knot becoming hidden by his head, pushed down so he looked towards his own flying feet, his wide bulging eyes alive with agony and terror, his jaw clenched shut and teeth bared, spittle already flecking his chin and chest, threads of drool already beginning to drop from his jaws. His eyes met Leo's, whose jaw was also set in exertion, whose biceps also bulged as his strong muscles struggled; Leo pulled again, Ethan rose still higher, his cheeks darkening, his bulging eyes locked desperately, pleadingly on Leo, he might have manned up and taken his rope bravely but the agony was too great and the dog's bloodshot eyes were full of fear.
Finally, Leo had his bro's booted feet higher than his own head. He began to slowly walk backwards, then sideways to the post, letting out rope as he went, always keeping it taught in spite of his screaming muscles - if he let his bros boots touch the ground he would only prolong his agony - he managed not to let Ethan drop even an inch, and he reached the post of the field goal. Despite his sweaty cleats digging into the grass the lion struggled to stay in place as he held the rope one handed, his bros entire weight on the strength of the lion's right arm, while he looped the other end of the rope around the post. This end of the rope was a red rubberised chain rather than a rope, with a clip on the end, and Leo clipped it to itself and let go, shaking all over with exertion, muscles suddenly weak and trembling, as he stepped back and looked at his hanging bro. The Doberman bucked and kicked beneath the horizontal bar, small spikes on the bar preventing him from sliding towards the middle as the lion had moved the post- this came in handy for executing whole losing teams, as it enabled the hanging hunks to be kept spaced out whilst still tying off all ropes to the field goal's post. Leo knew he had to get back to Coach before he was suspected of slacking off. Ethan's hacking haggard gasps for breath, the creak of his clenching gloves, the knocking of the hard synthetic material of his boots, the occasional clacking as his cleats scraped over each other, the scrunching sounds of his uniform as his body bent and writhed beneath it, all filled the air, filled Leo's ears, and the lion jogged over to stand underneath him, to stand where he could be seen by him. He looked up into Ethan's darkening face one last time, saw how his tongue was lolling, how the rubberised rope dug into the flesh of his thick strong neck.
“Sorry bro” said Leo, sincerely, and though he wanted to stay and see Ethan through to the end, stay with him until his boots clacked together for the last time and his white padded crotch darkened with stinking yellow piss, he couldn’t: the lion gave his bro a quick salute, and jogged back to his bros, and to the panther.
He fell in with the pack and a gruelling series of warm up exercises followed. Sittups, press-ups, all manner of stretching, balancing exercise on one leg reaching and straining this way and that, the panther prowling back and forth between them, getting more and more annoyed as he cajoled them to stretch harder and give more; the brown bull Leo had seen talking to Blake had already been sweating but when he lost his balance for the third time, Coach snarled at him to up his game; minutes later they were all running back and forth at breakneck pace, stopping to touch the ground on the move. But the bull was soon lagging behind: Coach snapped his fingers.
“WEBB! To the field goal, now. Braddock, take over the drill.”
The grizzly bear defensive captain lumbered forwards and began confidently shouting orders and Leo pushed himself all the harder. The bull stood to attention, allowed the panther to bind his heavy hands, and marched away, wide eyed and soaked in sweat, to pay the price for his lack of endurance. The drill meant that the sprinting lion alternately faced the bull and then faced away; first saw the back of the departing bull as he strode briskly away with the panther a pace behind, and the faced away and couldn’t see anything; saw the bull, then couldn’t see him; eventually, saw the bull near the field goal, where Ethan’s body hunk stark against the sky with each leg in turn being feebly raised and dropped, then Leo faced away; the bull’s number, #62 and WEBB was visible across his back even at this distance, and when Leo next faced him, the poor hunk faced forward, his posture brave and dutiful but his face too far to see, Leo only saw it for a moment before he had to turn and run the other way but it looked as if the bull was turning his head to behold the hanged Doberman whose limp cleated feet were just above and near his head. Leo looked back, Coach had a noose wide open, was beginning to flop it over one of the bulls pair of upturned horns, was threading it over the horns and just beginning to get it over the rest of the large head when Leo turned away; when the lion could next see, the noose was under the bulls chin, Coach was adjusting it; and then, so sudden a sight that Leo almost stumbled, when he next saw, the bull was off the ground, the panther had him a foot off the ground, strong legs punishing the air beneath him, large boots thrusting for the grass; next thing Leo saw, Coach was tying off the rope, and the bull thrashed in earnest at the same height as the completely limp Doberman beside him. The bull was a beast. When Coach returned to the pack, stood before them, blew his whistle for them all to face him and turn away from the field goal, the bull was still thrashing and jerking under the bar as fitfully as though he’d just gone up.
The panther stared round at them all once more.
“Now that was a guy” said Coach, angrily, “Who couldn’t even keep up with fucking warm ups. When I came back from the field goal, I saw you boys looking at him kick.” The panther glared round at them all. “Suddenly fucking full of fight, isn’t he? He’s sure as shit not tired out yet, is he? So when you boys feel the burn, when you feel your bodies – well, my bodies, fucknuts, because I fucking own your asses and don’t you ever forget it – screaming out at you for rest, when you feel like you’ve got nothing left to give and you’re just gonna fall in a sweaty heap right there on the turf, ask yourselves this: if I don’t buck the fuck up and do, I’m going to fucking die, and when I’m being hauled off the turf to thrash about and do my jig, just how much of a furious struggle is my body gonna put up before I fill my sweaty jockstrap up with piss and let my toes flop down? If you boys are weak, and you find yourself noosed in line with those fuckers” he stabbed a thumb at the field goal, “as the rope jerks you up, if you find yourself just letting it happen, swinging without so much as a kick, without so much as a jerk of the leg or twist of the body, then fine, I guess you really didn’t have anything left in the tank, you’re done, you are what you are, and that’s fine. You’re still dead meat, but no hard feelings. But if you find the fight for life takes over and you’re thrashing about straining at your bonds and fighting for every breath, then guess what: you deserve that agonising choking death, because you had a bit of strength left and you didn’t give it for the team.” These last words came in a hate-filled hiss that was heard by all the bros. Coach took a long, steadying breath, fighting down his rage, and then spoke more normally, with the appearance of barely restraining himself. “So let me make one thing clear, fucknuts: you will give me every ounce of strength you have, every bead of sweat, down to the last pounding heartbeat, and you have a choice as to how. Either you give up your last ounce of strength on the field playing the game, or you give it up to the noose, taking the pain. Your choice, boys. Got it?”
“YES COACH! DO OR DIE, COACH!”
The panther scowled, and was about to blow his whistle for the drill to resume.
“The hell good to me is he if he can’t simply run without gasping for breath?” said the panther, half to himself. “He might as well gasp for good, right?” A pun. One of the team’s otters, a defensive player, a dim but friendly burly fellow with a blond island of stubby chin-fuzz and extra bushy whiskers who had spotted for Leo one time when the lion was bench pressing, heard the panther speak and must have thought it was a joke, because he reacted with a snort of instinctive, nervous laughter. Big mistake.
Coach lost it.
“The FUCK? Is this a joke to you, Michaels? We've almost lost two games already this season, and no matter HOW MANY of you worthless fucks I make an example of, you're just too fucking stupid to get the hint!” “Coach! I-“ “I’m done with sloppy fucks who don’t give a fuck. I need a team with dedication, who take the team seriously, who show me some damn respect.” “N-no Coach I-“ “You hang.” A moment of stunned silence. “…Yes Coach.” As the panther grimly bound his paws he spoke more generally to the rest of them. “IF YOU DON’T GET BETTER YOU’RE ALL GOING TO DIE! The game is less than a week away, and we are NOT ready. We're in serious fucking trouble, fucknuts. You think those kneeling Piss Heads in the changing rooms are bad? NONE of you are much better than them. I'd hang you all in a heartbeat, except I need to field a team in, oh, FIVE FUCKING DAYS. I expect every one of you to show some fucking DISCIPLINE, to play like you fucking WANT to win, to play as a TEAM, because if you don’t, I don’t give a shit if you win, I’m hoisting every fucking one of you and starting over from scratch. Got it? WELL?”
Leo bellowed back that fucking yes Coach, he’d fucking got it, the answers of his bros ringing all around him. The otter, pale faced, stunned as if he’d been struck in the face with a shovel, stumbled away ahead of his Coach, to join the still-struggling bull. They began to organise themselves to play a few rounds against each other. Coach came back and it began in earnest and Leo had to say: Blake was as good as his word, fucking nobody could get near him, the lion ran and feinted and pushed his muscular body in bursts of speed and agility, but multiple times he turned to pass and found the Bengal tiger already on the ground with someone who’d tried to sack the tiger’s quarterback.
But then, as they reset their positions once more and went again, and as Leo found himself trapped by muscle hunks converging on him, it happened.
He had to pass. He leapt up for height, crossing his ankles as he had done when he’d thrown the rope over the bar for Ethan. He drew back his powerful throwing arm, sweaty fur clinging to his rippling biceps, and on his own side he saw the wide receiver in position, open to receive, and as the ball left his paw, as the sweaty grip of his leather glove parted from the ball, the gallows of the field goal – which was now behind him – caught his eye, held his eye a moment too long…
The otter was still jerking, the big buff fuzzy padded body wracked with weak spasms and judderings. Besides him, on the grass, stood Colton, and in front of him stood two canines, a dogo and a boxer, the dogs from the shower who had been discovering themselves; they now stood shoulder to shoulder, erect cocks out and dripping onto their cleated boots, the boxer looking in anguish at his big gay friend, the dogo looking as though he didn’t know what to do, but sharing a look with his smaller friend … behind them, Colton heaved on their ropes and terror and pain snapped into their widening eyes and faces as their cleats leapt up off the grass together and their long legs began to thrash…
Too late Leo realised where he’d thrown the ball. An ear-splitting screech of the whistle rang out, and Leo staggered to a stop as play instantly ceased, the scrum of bros round him now giving him uneasy looks, Coach was coming over …
Leo felt sick. He’d thrown an interception.
And Coach was pissed.
Leo stood absolutely to attention. His teammates were standing gormlessly around, staring in shock at the stupid fuck up they’d seen him make – he’d been playing so well! – and then the captains stepped in, summoning the other bros into groups to keep working and keep drilling, working up a mighty sweat just like he had done. The lion’s six foot two inches of height was encased in the heavy square-shouldered white pads of his college football team, form fitting padding encasing his thighs and knees. Only his muscled arms, head, neck and lower legs were visible under the uniform, and all over his fur was matted with sweat. His mighty mane was slick with it, his armpits positively trickled with sweat like a dripping tap. His back felt like he had led against a radiator with a sopping towel down the back of his underarmour; his feet felt slippery and rank in their slimy black sports socks and ankle height black and white cleated Nike shoes. He’d never pounded those size fourteen feet against the turf harder. He could almost feel the heat rising from his exhausted body. He’d given practice his all, had exercised into a frenzied sweat under the beating sun in full pads and uniform until his crotch felt so rank, wet and warm under his padded cream coloured trousers that if he’d pissed himself he would have felt no different. He’d given everything.
And it wasn’t fucking enough.
“You worthless fucking excuse for a quarterback! That’s ANOTHER goddam interception! D’you know how many dumb fucks like you tried out for quarterback? Can your thick fucking skull even CONCEIEVE of how many furs there are with the talent and the FUCKING BALLS to take your place and step into your cleated shoes and do a DECENT FUCKING JOB if I haul you up and let you kick ‘em off? D’you know how many fuckers wanted your spot on the team?”
Leo was already as much to attention as he could be, every muscle in his sweat-soaked body rigid, thick arms stiff at his sides, helmet strap clutched in one rank sweaty leather football glove, chin raised, eyes forwards.
“YES COACH!” he shouted, chin raising further, leathered palms balling into squelching fists at his sides. “Fucking tons of guys would KILL to serve on your team, COACH! I killed to serve on your team, COACH!”
The elation of winning tryouts in his first semester and the feeling of indestructability that had come with heaving on that rope and seeing the enormous cleated feet of his tiger predecessor jerk up kicking and squirming now seemed a very, very long time ago. Coach stood in front of him, his contorted, furious, hate-filled snarling face an inch away, enraged spittle flying into Leo’s face with every word. The panther kept bawling him out for over three solid minutes, while behind him the rest of the team worked harder and harder, driven by the awful example that Coach was making of Leo. For the first few furious minutes Leo hoped frantically that he might survive, with or without a humiliating forfeit. But Leo soon realised, with an awful, sick feeling, that he wasn’t going to get out of this just by kneeling down and submitting to the piss-streams of shame from a circle of his urinating teammates, or by sucking a bit of cock, or taking his place in the changing room toilets as the team urinal for a day. This was serious.
“Well guess what boyo?” shouted Coach, breath coming heavy, angry and hard as though he were sprinting, his team whistle bouncing off his barrel furry chest. “One of those fuckers is gonna GET your place on the team. UNDERSTAND?”
“YES COACH!” Leo’s breath caught but he pushed the words out. Behind Coach, impossibly, the rest of the team seemed to up their efforts even further.
“What are you good for boy?”
“Nothing, COACH! ‘m a good for nothing fuckup, COACH!”
“WRONG!” Coach’s fury somehow intensified. “What ONE thing are you good for, boy?”
“THE NOOSE, COACH!” The shouted word made his sweating teammates flinch as though it were a whipcrack, Coach was in a hanging mood, he had hanged five already and now Leo was gonna go the same way and when Coach hanged five lads in the first half hour of practice and still wasn’t satisfied there were always dozens of spaces going on the team roster by the time practice was done. “I’m a useless hunk of meat and dead weight dragging my teammates down, and I’m only good for the FUCKING NOOSE, COACH!”
Leo’s voice was hoarse, he shouted it as loud as though alerting his teammates to a danger, as though he were shouting for help but wasn’t allowed to say the words and the only control he had over what was coming to him was to name it. Coach glared at him, pulled a bootlace from his belt, spat on the ground between Leo’s cleated boots, and moved angrily behind him.
Coach’s voice still rung in Leo’s ear, the doomed lion quarterback could still feel Coach’s spittle on his face where he had stood to attention and had the bigger man put his face an inch away from his to scream at him. The panther’s strong hands slapped Leo’s helmet from his hands; Leo began to move his gloved paws behind his back, and Coach roughly seized them mid-motion and wrenched them the rest of the way. As his wrists crossed and Coach wrapped the bootlace round them in rough, angry motions, Leo looked from one sweating, drilling teammate to another, catching their stolen glances of dismay at the fate that was befalling one of their own.
But in more than one sweat-slicked face, Leo saw relief. The doomed lion quarterback remembered feeling that way, dozens and dozens of times since he’d joined the team, when he’d be drilling for all he was worth to the point of exhaustion, feeling himself weakening, almost thankful to the teammate and friend Coach was bawling out for being a lesser player than him, for attracting Coach’s ire instead of him, and being marched off to hang and leaving Leo alive to finish practice and play another game. All his time on the team, the lion had gone through four emotions like clockwork: absolute unshakable arrogance and confidence in his own strength and ability; fear, as Coach worked them all until Leo couldn’t stop his big paws shaking in their leather gloves, that actually he wasn’t as good as he thought and he was going to fucking die; absolute heartstopping certainty, as Coach launched into a tirade of murderous abuse, that Coach was talking to him and that this time it was his turn to swing; and relief, as the friend next to him in the drill was hauled to one side by the collar and stood to attention to receive Coach’s invective and receive the sentence of death. And then, as soon as that practice was over and the lion had lived through it all, back to confidence: he’d survived again, he was indestructible. And it was that fourth face that he’d show to the rest of campus as he revelled in the popularity and social power of being the quarterback, swaggering round with his shoulders squared in his letterman jacket with a handful of fellow teammates all in their own letterman jackets, intimidating nerds and sometimes even getting head from them in the toilets, no homo. Always on top, always projecting strength and confidence. Sometimes hanging out with the other quarterbacks, all in lettermen jackets, as the elitist group of all: everyone envied and respected the jocks, all the jocks looked up to the football jocks, and among the football jocks the quarterbacks had the greatest social standing of all. But even when he made the team Leo had found he could not rest, even when he played as a quarterback, because there were other quarterbacks, and having made the most envied group on the campus suddenly he found himself competing to be the best within them, endless competition alongside every friendship he had, every friendship weighted according to the other guy’s standing – the geeky fox from the chess club he’d thought seemed like a cool guy, but how could he be seen dead talking to him? – even among his fellow jocks the pressure was always there, and even when he was in the toilets with a nerd’s muzzle wrapped around his cock he couldn’t relax, because all his bros were there, and Leo could relax and be kind only to the extent that he still looked strong, which was not at all. As Coach bound his hands, as the doomed quarterback saw his teammates struggling and striving where he no longer was, he felt a profound exhaustion at watching them. Ever since his early successes on the pitch, ever since his star had begun its inexorable decline and Leo had struggled daily to raise it up again, every moment had been exhausting. Sometimes a small success would buoy him up a bit, and all his pals and teammates and jocks from other sports teams would be slapping him on the back of his letterman jacket and congratulating him on his touchdown, and Leo would feel like he’d bought himself some breathing room, like he was hanging in there, but actually he was just treading water and was sinking all the while, and knew it, and even when he was doing well and had his head above water he knew he was still in serious trouble in the long run, worried constantly that his friends and fellow jocks knew it too, found himself projecting more arrogance and exhausting confidence to compensate, and as he stood there on the turf with a screaming panther binding his wrists and telling him he didn’t deserve the team jersey, Leo realised he was so fucking tired. Every time he’d found himself underperforming or not being all that Coach wanted him to be, Leo had seemed able to cling on to his position on the social ladder, on the team, among the jocks and at his exclusive frat house, to hang in there until success came his way again, and he’d recover a bit of Coach’s favour, though a little less every time, and he’d live to fight and be fielded another day…
But not this time. This time, he was fucked.
Leo turned his jaws upwards to the sky, unable to bear the sight of his friends’ relief that it was him going to the noose this time, and not them, and let out a long, slow, shuddering breath. Fuck.
And all this time, he was denied a moment to contemplate and reflect on the fact that his promising life was about to end, painfully. Right behind his ear, as the panther worked to bind the lion’s paws as painfully tight as possible, Coach kept screaming into his ear, deafening Leo with curses and epithets. Coach wanted him dead, he was no good to Coach, the sooner his sorry ass was ten feet off the ground the better Coach’s team would be, it went on and on and Leo had been unable to do anything more than stand there in shock, sometimes bellowing back “YES COACH!” and “NO COACH!” when Coach had told him that he knew he was gonna be in fucking agony when the noose hoisted him up, didn’t he? “YES COACH!” Or that he didn’t deserve to keep his cleated boots on firm ground did he? “NO COACH!” That he knew Coach regretted letting a worthless piece of shit like him on the team in the first place, didn’t he? That he knew Coach didn’t know what he’d ever seen in the talentless lump of brainless fuckin flesh, why he’d ever wasted the effort of training the lion, that the team was better off without him, didn’t he? Because he was a worthless piece of shit, wasn’t he? WASN’T HE? With tears of hurt stinging his eyes, “YES COACH!” “YES COACH!” “YES COACH! WORTHLESS PIECE OF SHIT COACH, SOONER I’m NOOSED AND HOISTED THE BETTER COACH!”
Coach was fucking pissed, but as he hoisted Leo, he would vent that anger, briefly. How long then until he lost it again and another pair of boots lurched upwards off the turf to kick and jerk for the last time? It didn’t matter. When Coach was this mad, you survived minute to minute and constantly strove to impress him. Each player knew if they weren’t giving it enough, another of them would hang – but all that mattered now was that it wasn’t them this time.
Coach knotted the bootlace with a series of wrenching tugs, and Leo’s paws were bound. He could feel the bootlace biting into his flesh through his fur, and breathed sharply in. Slowly, experimentally, he closed his clammy palms into fists, feeling the leather of his game gloves creak as the garish Nike swoosh that crossed both palms when he held them together bend in two. He let them un-crease. With these paws he had scored the touchdown that condemned a rival team ages ago in the very first game Coach played him in; with these same paws he had thrown interceptions game after game until he impressed Coach less and less and now, a bad throw in practice later, his luck had run out and he’d never use his paws again. Coach had almost finished.
“You gonna cry boy? You gonna beg like your bitch Doberman fuckup fuckbuddy?”
“No Coach! I fucked up and I gotta take my punishment like a man, Coach!”
“You gonna piss yourself when you see the noose boy?”
“No Coach! Gonna take the noose like a man Coach!”
“YOU PLAY LIKE A BITCH! A FUCKING COCKSUCKING BITCH, AND YOU’RE GONNA HANG!”
“YES COACH! UNDERSTOOD COACH! PERMISSION TO MARCH TO THE GALLOWS AND HANG, COACH! SOONER I’M HOISTED AND KICKING THE BETTER FOR THE TEAM, COACH!”
The panther’s strong paws seized fistfuls of Leo’s gorgeous, dripping mane, and yanked him almost off his cleated feet to spin him round to face the distant field goal. Leo stumbled, began to cooperate and walk as he lurched off his balance, his boots on the turf swirling into view. But Coach didn’t let go of Leo’s mane, and he didn’t fall: the panther shoved him hard in the direction of the field goal.
“Get your sorry ass to the gallows” growled the panther, low and menacing into Leo’s tufty ear. Leo strode forward, quickly, deliberately wanting to outpace Coach, determined that Coach would not think he was stalling or afraid. There were few avenues left to him to please the man whose anger or pleasure had been the centre of his world since he’d made the team, and one of those was to die well, to go to the noose with his head held high and take what was coming to him like a man.
But first, the lion looked back at his teammates, and the mask slipped. For a moment his face wasn’t all smirking confidence and strength and self-assurance. It wasn’t even happy. It was only when he let it show to his former teammates, just for a second as he turned away, that he realised being on the team had made him miserable. What had all this been for? He’d always wanted this, right? To play for the college, then to go on and play pro, where the already barely bearable pressure to win and be the best would be even greater?
Leo’s pulse throbbed in his temple, in his strong neck, on his wrists where the bootlace dug into it. The claws of his clammy footpaws spread in his boots with every firm step he took towards the field goal, looming large and dark against the horizon at the end of the field like an upturned tuning fork that had burst from the ground, four bulky, square-shouldered bodies hanging limp and lifeless from its beam, bunched up to one side and not spread out along its length, as though when hoisting each lad Coach had been mindful of the need to leave plenty of room for others. Leo was not the first fuck-up to be hoisted that practice, and he knew he wasn’t gonna be the last. Hell, there was usually two or three dumb fucks necked every practice just to keep the survivors on their toes and giving their all, but to reach five limp dangling hunks of muscle less than half an hour into the session was not common, and it boded badly for the rest of the team. If his bros didn’t buck their ideas up they were more likely to die in this practice session than if they played badly on the pitch in a real game, for if they lost a match then sure, they’d all swing together – except the ones taken by the victors as sex slaves, but most of ‘em would hang – but only the ones who had been fielded that game would suffer either punishment. Whereas, with Coach in the foul mood he was in today, there was nothing to stop him deciding to hoist all the lads on the roster, all hundred-odd of them, and just start again. It hadn’t happened during Leo’s time, of course – but it had happened.
Coach’s tirade continued as Leo strode stoically towards the makeshift gallows, chin still up, chest still puffed out, shoulders squared. It was a long walk, and Leo’s gaze locked onto the five hanged hunky footballers he would soon be joining in death, answering “YES COACH!” and “NO COACH!” almost automatically as he walked, as his mind churned with the events that had brought him here, trying to make sense of his own death and subconsciously find a way out. Coach’s furious shouting began to fade out, Leo barely noticing the answers he bellowed back
Ethan, totally limp, cleated feet turned down and out, drool congealed on his slack jaws, his chin resting on his chest. His muscular legs and hips made a relaxed inverted letter V, the bulging padded crotch of his white shorts stained a deep yellow, the stain spreading down the inside of his thighs, the crotch so saturated that deathpiss had seeped through and dripped from the bugling sodden material of the Doberman’s tightly laced crotch. Leo had seen him hoisted, seen him struggle in the air, and it was still almost unbelievable to see him limp and still. Ethan was always full of energy, never still for an instant. It seemed only – well, it was less than an hour ago – when Leo had swaggered into the enormous changing rooms with the rest of the team, and had seen that Ethan was running late. Despite the Doberman’s swollen purple tongue, grossly lolling out, and the bulging, glassy eyes, Leo almost expected him to give a goofy grin and start moving. Leo realised how much he regretted not knowing the Doberman better.
What had gone through the bull’s mind as he’d stood, noosed, gazing at the limp canine he was soon to join? The big guy was long gone, his furious fitful fight against the rope demonstrating that when he’d fallen behind in the drills he actually had had plenty more to give. Coach was always right, Leo knew that – every bro knew that every decision Coach made was the best for the team – and Leo realised with a shiver that every effort he’d failed to make on the field was about to be wrung from him by the noose, the tightening slipknot wringing the last drop of sweat and piss from his bulk like a dishcloth. The bull’s weight was terrific and Leo saw the grotesque deformation of his thick bull neck, blood spattered the white front of his jersey from the nosebleed the build-up of blood had given him, his blank eyes almost popping out of their sockets; he must not have had a chance to use the Piss Heads before racing out to practice either, because the whole front of his shorts were dyed deep yellow and dripping, his grossly bulging crotch seemingly like a sponge for its yellow colour and the way fluid continued to ooze from it even now. The stains reached the white socks, all the way down to the opening of his tightly laced hi-cut Nike cleats, which were no doubt sodden inside. Every ounce wrung out, just like Coach said.
The big otter wasn't lasting as well as the bull had done, and his suffering was not yet over; he still seemed to wear an expression of helpless bafflement under his dark puffy cheeks; he mostly hung still, but one thick leg still jerked and spittle still sputtered from between his purple lips. A boot trembled and twitched; he was not quite gone. As Leo watched, the sweat-darkened white crotch of his padded shorts turned abruptly yellow as the hanging hunk began to piss, both boots suddenly erupting in spasms and both knees slightly bending before he dropped his feet one last time. Leo heard the clack as the hard synthetic material of the heels of the otter's boots came together. He swayed, floppy, and came to rest, and there was no more movement from him. Leo was close enough now to smell the pungent smell of piss from his hanged bros, and it send a shiver through him, because he recognised it from his time all that time ago as a Piss Head frantically gulping his punishment down: it was the stench of failure.
Beside the otter, the two buff dogs thrashed like drowning rats, both fighting furiously for their lives, showing how much power they could have exerted for their Coach if they hadn't been such fuck ups. Both erect canine cocks bounced and dripped with pre, and Leo realised they must’ve taken their no-homo brotastic pleasures elsewhere after they'd left the shower room, lost track of time, and been late like Ethan. The big dogo's enormous black and white low cut cleats where flecked with pre, and as Leo watched, the big guy's cock jerked, throbbed with power, and fired a rope of sticky bro-juice that stained the lower jersey and shorts of his hanging boxer bro. The boxer had both ankles behind him, his straining suffering body at ninety degrees at the knees with his ankles crossed behind him, his eyes wide and furious and his whole jaw snarling in rage and pain as he fought the noose, ropes of cum flying from his erect cock as his hips thrust and his bound paws tore futilely at their bonds. The dogo's long legs swung back and forth like pendulums, spittle raining down from his quivering jowls; the bigger dog's face was fucking terrified, his bulging eyes wide with fear, swivelled to lock onto his smaller boxer bro, begging, pleading with his bro to help him, to save him, to do something to get them both out of this mess as Leo supposed the smaller dog must have done before. As Leo strode to stand beside and beneath the boxer to take his place in line to be hanged, ropes of cum flew from both dog cocks, staining each other's shorts, their cocks, hanging in goblets off each other's jerking boots. Both bros wore Nike cleats, the dogo's easily five sizes bigger than the boxer's, but both were now splattered with each other's cum as their sweaty feet writhed in them. The dogo turned on his noose away from the boxer; as he did so, Leo saw how the big guy's big dumb face turned as much as it could to keep his pleading eyes locked on his smaller friend; another shot of dogo cum fell, and Leo barely reacted as he felt the warm wet seed land in his mane and across his ears, followed by a rope from the boxer.
Leo stood beneath the bar, and turned to face his Coach. His wide feet splayed in his clammy boots as he planted them firmly on the turf. For a second he stared Coach in the face. He wanted to say something to the panther – to express how much he respected him, how every victory he’d striven for was for him – but he didn’t know how. He suddenly thought of Ethan, how the Doberman had stood exactly like this, how Leo had jerked him off … and now he stood here, and Coach stood before him, the panther’s hot breath on the back of his neck, the tickle of his whiskers against his mane … Leo’s cock stirred and tingled. He knew, when he joined the team, that his body wasn’t his any more, that it was team property, that it was Coach’s property, as much as any piece of practice equipment, and that had given Leo a sense of belonging, of purpose, that at one time had hidden his other problems from view. The lion’s stomach churned as he tried to find words.
The panther gave a low growl of disgust and marched past him towards the Discipline Crate, to fetch the lion’s noose. As the bull had done, Leo looked up at the kicking cleats above his head as the boxer and the dogo continued to writhe in agony, spittle flying from their slavering jaws and precum showering from their bouncing cocks. Then he looked away, straight forwards, and up, away from the field, trying to ignore the choking spluttering sounds of the dying dogs, trying not to think about Coach’s rejection of him…
Leo’s mind wandered.
All he had ever wanted was for his Coach to be proud of him, to need him. That first game, when he'd taken the field by storm and been named MVP, when Leo, as MVP, had had the honour of choosing which among the losers would be carried back to the home locker rooms to serve as Piss Heads for the remainder of their worthless lives instead of swinging like their equally worthless teammates, Leo had basked in the warmth of his Coach's approval. He remembered it now, his feline prick tingling as he did so: how the crowd had erupted has the lion had slid along the muddy turf on his stomach with the game's final seconds ebbing away, to score the greatest touchdown of his entire promising career in the game's closing second; how he'd gotten off the turf, mud and grass stains smearing his whole uniform outside, sweat slicking the inside, and seen the faces of the opponents defensive players who had actually had hands on him and slid in the mud with him but been seconds too slow to stop him; how he had registered in their faces their own unique blends of awe, humiliation, fear, stoic resignation or bravado at what their failure meant was coming for them next. As they had been noosed, hooded, hoisted, Leo had found Coach before him, whiskers quivering with satisfaction, Leo's heartbeat quickening at the panther's closeness to him; the panther had seized Leo's wrist, the lion's meaty palm still wrapped around the ball he now held one handed, and Coach had held Leo's wrist up high, presenting his successfully debuted quarterback to the team, to the crowd, shouting "Your MV fucking P, boys!" as his teammates swarmed round him, lifted him up, paraded him about, the glum faces of the defeated players disappearing one by one under Nike branded hoods as they looked at the lion and had as their last sight of the living world the quarterback who had won the game and cost them their lives before their hoods dropped over their faces and the ropes jerked them off their sweaty cleated feet...
Another time. Another lion. The baying of the crowd and the breathless congratulations of his teammates faded from Leo's ears. As the lion stood beneath the horizontal bar, his eyes on the sky, his back to his Coach, a red rope passed over his eyes. He felt Coach's rough paws manhandling his ears, his mane, the back of his head; he lifted his chin, raising his gaze higher into the sky, letting the rope slip under his chin. I let you down Coach. I let the bros down. I deserve this. I'm worthless. As the rope tightened under his chin, Leo felt a weight leaving his shoulders. He no longer had to fight against the current, he no longer had to tread water to maintain his Coach's favour. He had failed: he could just stop. Everything he'd worried about for the last two years didn’t matter now. Leo sighed, relaxing where he stood, for the first time since he'd joined the team experiencing a moment of profound acceptance, contentment, even peace. It was finally over.
The lion felt his padded shoulders sag as acceptance settled over him. He said nothing.
The noose jerked up under Leo's chin. Leo's eyes widened, teeth baring, jaw setting, as the rope jerked upwards and yanked him cleanly off his feet in one smooth motion at which Coach was so practiced and efficient, as his Coach, the focus of his admiration and devotion, the man whose attention had meant more to the lion than anything else, whose nod of approval or scowl of dissatisfaction had entirely controlled the lion's own happiness for over two years, exerted the sweat and the effort of his sinuous black furred muscular arms to destroy him. Leo's mane, slick with sweat as it was, flew about as though he were tossing it in a shampoo commercial, as his head was pushed forwards by the Nike-swooshed knot behind his head; his cleated boots and the turf beneath them filled the lion's pounding vision as the slipknot tightened under the weight of Leo's own muscles and bulk, every hour he'd spent on the bench-press pounding iron until the sweat ran from him in rivulets with his Coach's approval as the prize as he fought to build his muscles and keep up with his rivals now worked against him, as every ounce of muscle mass, all the gains he'd made to his core strength and everything else, now hung from his thick neck. The noose tightened again, the lion's tongue stabbing from his straining jaws as the turf receded further and the rope jerked upwards once more; now his whole vision of the ground was like an inverted cone, where the central point was the point of turf directly under his flying feet: he had been hoisted to the level of his hanged and hanging bros.
Across that narrow column of vertical vision the panther strode. Leo beheld his mentor for the last time, from above, the panther turning his snarling face up, and even over the awful gasps and croaks of his own tortured throat and the swishing of his padded thighs against each other as he kicked, even over the sounds of the hanging dogs besides him and the roaring of blood pounding in his temples, his Coach's last words reached him as though spoken directly into his ear.
"Don’t know what the fuck I saw in you, boy. Should never have replaced Holden. Good fucking riddance."
The panther spat once more on the turf beneath Leo's hanging body, and strode off without looking back. Leo lost sight of him immediately and was left alone to suffer and die in disgrace alongside the croaking canines.
Turning on his rope, Leo’s pounding eyes met the bulging eyes of the boxer; behind him, he saw the dogo’s jowls going slack as his fight became less coordinated, long purple tongue lolling out, eyes rolling, but the boxer still fought as fiercely as he’d always done, and as Leo turned to find himself face to face with him, their eye’s locked onto each other’s and in the few moments they struggled to draw breath together the boxer’s wild staring eyes communicated. Leo had never talked to the boxer and barely knew him, but meaning passed back and forth across the few feet separating their faces: solidarity in suffering, in being wrung out, in experiencing the same pain together, in meeting the end of their usefulness together. As Leo’s boots flew back and forth and his vision bounced up and down with his struggles and his strong arms tugged and twisted at the bindings on his paws, he met the gaze of the dogo over the boxer’s shoulder, and felt the same again, because now that the noose was biting the lion shared his fear. The dogo’s rotating body turned his face out of view; Leo’s cock was straining against his jock as he thrust his hips and raised his knees in front of him and stabbed his feet down and felt the warm stickiness of his cum join the remnants of Ethan’s bro-juice in the lion’s jock; the boxer seemed to know that Leo had spooged himself, because the dog thrust his hips at the lion and as the two turned away from each other Leo’s gaze dropped down and he saw the dog’s rope of seed cross the gap between them to stain the lion’s shorts.
Leo's feet curled and crunched inside his sweat-soaked boots, his cleats as warm and wet inside as though he'd pissed in them. His toes and claws slipped over each other, exchanging sweat-slime with each other and with his clammy socks. His footpaws stretched and flexed in the tight stiff confines of his boots as he crossed his ankles as though leaping to pass to a wide receiver; his hardening cock strained painfully against the fabric of his jock and the crotch of his padded shorts; his clammy paws writhed and bunched into fists and tried to pull free of their bonds while encased in rank leather game gloves; his tortured furry chest rose and fell as he fought to draw breath into burning lungs encased in armour and pads and sweat-sodden fabric, his armpits rank and slippery as his tensing biceps and jerking shoulders set gross rivulets of sweat pouring from every furry crevice of his muscular body. Leo felt his uniform for the first time to be not the bulky power armour of a popular jock-knight, but a restrictive shell, a prison of sweat and slime. He began to weaken.
Far away, he heard Coach’s whistle. He heard the sounds of practice play resuming, and wondered what Coach had said to the bros in his pep talk as he, Leo, swung and kicked from the bar in the distance where all his bros could see. What lesson would they take from the sight of his agony? On his noose he turned back to the dogs again; Leo wanted to take comfort in the boxer’s face again, but the smaller dog wasn’t facing him; the boxer still swung back and forth, and when he was swung out of the way Leo saw past him to the lower body of the dogo; the big dog’s head and face wasn’t visible, but the lion saw his lower body, saw the slack paws bound behind his back, no longer clenched or resisting, saw how his enormous cleats were turned down and out, his legs naturally apart and his feet limp; he saw, heard, caught the scent of the torrent of piss that erupted from the dogo’s stiff cock and waterfalled onto one of his limp boots, the stream splaying out into a cone of yellow mist from there like water from a tap falling onto the back of a spoon.
Leo crossed his ankles again and swung his boots back as his pulsing vision began to blacken. He could no longer hear the boxer choking and barely thought that he must have finished. As his swaying legs grew weaker and heavier, heavy already under his padded armour, his own strong muscles themselves a source of burdensome weight, Leo felt a wet warmth spreading across his crotch. He could no longer hold up his head, and let his chin sink to his chest, though he continued to raise and drop it, jaws trying to open to draw breath, cheeks dark, drool falling from his lips and teeth. His legs swung independently, weakly, almost under their own momentum, as blackness closed in around the edges of his vision, his boots scuffing together as they passed each other, coming slowly to a halt, toes quivering but tending downwards, the spreading yellow across his crotch visible to him, his barely twitching boots the very centre of his closing vision, which was becoming like tunnel vision and making the turf below seem miles away. Nothing existed beneath Leo’s own limp feet. The pounding in his ears intensified until it became a roaring crowd; he imagined the panther again, looking at him with pride, imagined he smelled the panther’s musky body odour. Then his vision closed even over his twitching cleats, and Leo, at peace with his own worthlessness, faded out.

**

By the time Coach called his team together with a final piercing blow his whistle, many, many hours later, the field goal groaned beneath the weight of almost two dozen limp bodies of every shape and species, a testimony to the variety and diversity of strengths and talents that made up a successful football team - and that could be cut from one. An additional four still twitched with varying degrees of strength. The remaining furs, outnumbering their unfortunate limp and jerking former bros almost 4 to 1, gathered round their coach, took a knee, and sat up straight in spite of their sweat-darkened uniforms and trembling exhausted muscles. Every eye fixed on the panther with a reverential, worshipful, overawed attention. Practice had been a success.
The panther stared around at the seventy-odd kneeling, sweating furs, and gave a satisfied nod.
"Good lads" he said eventually. "So it took the sight of your teammates' faces swelling up and changing colour, but you all pulled together in the end. Good lads. This was a good practice. We have one tryouts session before the big game, to see what newbies will be stepping into the cooling cleats you see mostly hanging limp over there, and who knows, maybe one or two of the newcomers might even get a chance on the field next week if we're ahead enough. Don’t think about that just now. The point is I have a good team, a good core group of dedicated lads who mostly don’t deserve to have their necks stretched. Speaking of: Bryson. Jacobs. Lindon. On your feet." A cheetah, badger and otter sprang up, eyes wide and uncertain but standing stiff to attention, and barked their respect at their Coach. "With those other wasters hanged, you three are my weakest players. You, Bryson" he said to the cheetah, who braced his shoulders, prepared for the sentence of death, "are the team’s weakest quarterback. You made no mistakes and kept up the pace..." The cheetah inhaled hard and raised his chin, waiting for the "but", "...so, consider yourself on notice. Good isn’t good enough, it doesn’t cut it. Next week I want breathtaking plays, I want multiple touchdowns: next game, for you, is do or die." Relief flooded into the cheetah's eyes but he stayed at attention. "Yes COACH! Won’t let you down Coach!" "Jacobs" he said to the badger, who likewise braced for the worst. "COACH!" "Attend triouts, and outperform your new rivals, and if you can’t, they'll be stepping into your cleats, fresh off your warm rank feet. Hang or be hanged. Do or die." The badger took a shuddering breath. "Yes COACH! Gonna pick up my game, COACH!" "And Lindon. Looking at my roster I think I’m going to shrink the special team roster by one player, and use that slot to gain an additional quarterback at triouts. I always have the highest turnover on quarterbacks and I need plenty of lads in reserve. You’re my weakest special player. Tell me what that means." The otter swayed where he stood, but collected himself, balled his fists at his sides and shouted back, "COACH! I gotta take one for the team, Coach!" The panther jerked his head at the field goal and the otter trudged off to take up his position under the horizontal bar, the ocelot special captain leaping up and following him to see it done. "Quarterback and offensive captains, stay behind, I want a word. The rest of you boys can go."

**
Every player passed the field goal from one end of the other in a slow, silent line. Every hanged bro they passed, they rested a gloved paw on the downward pointing toe of their limp booted feet, looked up into the grotesquely deformed faces of their former bros, saw the piss dripping from their stained and sodden crotches, saw the strands of drool that still hung from their slack jaws, stared up into their empty bulging eyes. And then, each player moved on to the next hanged bro, and the line shuffled on. Some silently said goodbye to friends, some smirked up at the darkened bloated cheeks of hated rivals - the Bengal, Blake, paused for a long time with a paw on a well-worn boot, looking up at the ruined face of Leo, conflicted and regretful, surprised to find so little satisfaction in the sight. All remembered, each time they looked up into a swollen face, what lesson they were to learn from his example. This bro had fudged a pass; that one lacked endurance. Each player, every time they laid a paw on a cooling booted foot and locked eyes with the sightless eyes of the hanged, silently swore that they would not make the same mistake, would not suffer and twist beneath the bar as he had done. Then they went into the locker room, to strip their sopping game gear off their steaming bodies and shower together naked and shoulder to shoulder, rub each other’s backs and whip each other with towels and declaring no homo and compare the size of their cocks.
Colton and Stanley went last. Coach was standing a way off, making notes on his clipboard, noting down which team positions were now vacant, which cleated boots clad a cooling owner and needed a new pair of warm fresh jock feet thrust into them. By the time they began their pass of the hanged lads, the four jerking bros were limp. Many players had looked up into their faces while they still jerked and gasped for breath, but the lesson was just as well learned in each case. They passed the ocelot special captain, who had noosed the otter and stood before him. He had stood there noosed as his bros went down the line of hanged players; before each bro had laid a paw on the then-still-twitching boot of the wolf who had been last drawn up, they had exchanged a word with him, mostly "Sucks bro" or "Hard luck bro" or words to that effect; the ocelot captain, standing at the noosed otter's shoulder, had allowed all this, in no hurry to get the job done since there was no practice to hurry back to, the otter standing wide eyed and numb, disbelieving, as the ocelot straightened his noose and made small talk with his passing bros.
"Well bro" said the ocelot at last, punching the otter hard in the arm by way of friendly emphasis where a spiky swirly tattoo strained over the otter’s big furry bicep. "It was great having you on the team, you were a blast to play with and you gave great head - no homo - and I thought you were really coming along nicely. But, Coach only needs so many placekickers so I guess you're going up. Last words?"
The otter's long whiskers trembled as he jerked his head around, breathing heavily.
"Thanks Captain, for uh, letting me speak to my bros first, uh, it’s been an honour to be on the team, you were a great Captain and I want to thank Coach for giving me this chance. Good luck with the game, I guess?" He might have said more but was breathing too heavily to speak, the ocelot took up the rope, the otter abruptly faced forwards so as not to see the moment when it came, and as Colton and Stanley went down the line they heard the sudden cut-off grunt as the otter was jerked into the air, heard his padded body swooshing against itself as its struggles began, looked back and saw his side-laced flat topped boots shivering in the air as they rose higher.
Stanley stopped when he reached Leo. Colton joined him.
“I really did think he was gonna beast the big game” said the German Shephard eventually, tucking his paws into the collar of his jersey and tugging at it. “I know some of the lads muttered from the start that Leo was just a flash in the pan, that he’d never be as good as he was that first game, that that was a fluke and we should’ve stuck with Holden. But now and then he did make some really good plays. Sure, he never blew me away again, even if he did impress me a bit now and then. But he’d been so good in practice, and yeah he’d throw a stupid interception, or actually fumble and drop a catch like last season – geez that was fucking stupid – but ridiculous cock ups notwithstanding, he was good. I thought – and this sounds stupid – if Leo could just stop fucking up, he’d be amazing. I thought the big game would be his last chance to blow Coach’s mind like he did all those games ago, get his shit together, turn things around.”
“You spent more time in practice with him than I did” said Colton gently. “He was your guy. C’mon, don’t beat yourself up about it. Shit happens, y’know? And you got guys in development, right?”
“Yeah it’s no big deal, we’ll lead with Ross I expect” said the German Shephard. “Well, I s’pose Blake can have his brother’s boots back now, right?”
"There you boys are." The voice of the panther struck them both from behind, caught them both by surprise, both jocks swivelling to face him and stand to attention in the same moment. "COACH!" The panther had his clipboard in hand, but looked past them at the limp lifeless lion they'd stood before. Then his gaze shifted to Colton. "Wescott" he said, and the horse puffed out his chest. "A mixed session for your boys." The panther's eyes shifted to the place in line where the dogo and the boxer hung limp side by side, dripping erect cocks out of their padded shorts. "I was worried your team had a discipline issue."
"Permission to speak, Coach!" shouted the horse, and the panther stared harder in answer. "I knew those dogs where gaying it up but I'd never imagined they'd try and skip practice! It hasn’t happened before, I’m certain.”
"Where were they?" growled the panther.
"Fucking under the bleachers, Coach!" said the horse. "Said they thought they had more time, didn’t know they were late. No excuse, I told ‘em!"
"Tell me this, Wescott" said the panther, slowly. "Who is responsible for discipline among the offensive players?"
"The offensive captain, Coach! Won’t let it happen again, Coach!"
"And who, in your opinion, is the team’s best option to fill the cleats of the offensive captain?"
Colton stiffened, set his jaw, took a deep breath, eyes forward.
"Coach, the captain’s cleats best serve the team filled with my own feet. I maintain a high standard of discipline and dedication among my boys and severely punish those who don’t meet them. I command the respect of the offensive team and enforce a punishing work-out schedule outside and on top of your training. I've shown strong leadership on many occasions, like in my handling of the feud between one of my boys and a quarterback, when I showed no partiality towards my own bro and set an example that maintained team cohesion throughout the season. Under my leadership, for example, the Bengal tiger Brook has gone from strength to strength instead of losing focus to a personal feud and getting it in the neck. On the field I give everything and my boys are inspired by my example."
There was a long pause.
"Your tiger played very well today, Wescott" said the panther eventually. "Very well. So did you."
"Thank you, Coach!"
"He has a good attitude. You took him in hand after that fighting incident, and it seems he learned his lesson. This business with those two" the panther jerked a thumb at the limp boots of the disgraced dogs "is a rare lapse in discipline among your boys - the first this season. Never let it happen again."
"Yes Coach!"
"When you get back to the locker room tell your Bengal not to change or shower. Neither should you. You've both earned the right to come by my office later and show your coach some respect."
Colton's enormous body expanded with pride where he stood.
"Yes Coach! Thank you Coach!"
"Wilson" said the panther, turning to the German Shephard and motioning with his clipboard to the limp lion behind him. "Seems your pro-in-the-making was a flash in the pan after all."
"Permission to speak, Coach!" barked the canine, eyes wide with alarm as he straightened harder. Coach's stare invited him to continue. "I accept that I spoke up for Leo and asked you several times to give him another chance. I didn’t do this out of partiality to him as a bro, I did it because I genuinely believed he had what it took to be the star quarterback we all thought he could be. I don’t disagree with your decision to suspend him from the team after so many chances to shine. But I believe I was right, after last game, to assure you that he would never fuck up so badly again, because I'd seen how much he was putting in and I was sure he'd turn it around."
The panther waved his clipboard at the limp Doberman who had first been hoisted, at a hyena, at an unusually buff ferret who had worked like hell in the weights room to make the team and wound up getting a rope regardless, and the wolf who was limp next to the still-jerking otter.
"You lost five quarterbacks today, Wilson" said the panther grimly. "You got a Doberman who couldn’t be fucked to show up on time, and not for the first time. The lion was sloppy, the hyena lacked endurance, the ferret got distracted by the executions and the wolf clearly hadn’t been working out out of practice sessions. That’s half your guys. You've got a serious discipline problem, Wilson, and it’s been going on for a while. Even that fucking lion only got a pep talk, I hear, because Wescott gave him one. That should have been you putting the fear of fuck into him, Wilson. As a quarterback, you're good. As a captain, you're passive and hands off. Your boys need leadership, Wilson. Tell me: who’s the best guy on the team to thrust his feet into the quarterback captain’s boots and lead those fuckers?"
The German Shephard’s eyes widened, but he squared his jaw.
“COACH! I’m the best quarterback this team has got and the best captain too. I’ve got-“
But the panther silently, slowly, shook his head. The German Shephard broke off, fully closed his eyes for just a moment. Breathed out and in twice.
“COACH!” he began again, in the same voice, “The best quarterback captain for the team is Ericson. He won my respect on the day he debuted with fast and accurate play, and he’s been MVP twice. Coach, it’s been an honour to wear the captains cleats, but for the good of the team I’ve gotta make room in them for a better potential captain. Permission to take my place under the bar, Coach.”
The panther stared hard, but nodded. A stern, but approving smile.
“I agree” he said softly. “Ericson it is. Wescott, see to it.”
“COACH!”
The panther strode away.
The German Shephard stayed at attention several seconds longer than the mustang. Colton laid a meaty hand on the canine’s shoulder: Stanley let his helmet drop to the floor and his arms go limp by his side, closing his eyes and looking upwards with a long exhalation of defeat.
“Fuck” he said to himself. Then, blearily, “Well, I knew it was coming sooner or later.”
“Really sorry to do this to you man” said the horse with a grimace. “Real sorry bro.”
“What? Nah, bro” said the canine as he crossed his paws behind his back and turned his steps towards his place in the line of limp bodies. “What’s to be sorry ‘bout? I’ve gotta take one for the team. You can have my locker stuff if you want it. Doubt it’d fit you though.”
The two went off together. A minute passed, the sound of the otter’s choking and clacking cleats the only sound. Abruptly, with a cut-off grunt, a second pair of cleats could be heard swooshing back and forth through the air under the field goal; Colton left the field. Before long the otter pissed himself and clacked his heels together for the last time, and Stanley kicked and lifted his long legs alone. A few minutes more, and the field was silent.
 

deaddirty

Forum Elite
Joined
Oct 7, 2008
Messages
12,384
Location
UK
That's one fine story - very original, and well-written.

Ben Smith is a member here, by the way - nice one Ben.
 

Sessha

Forum Regular
Joined
Jun 24, 2011
Messages
72
Location
In your dreams
It was good and I enjoyed it immensely, however I do have one criticism of the story. It was a bit hard to follow through most of it. Better paragraph breaks would have made the story a bit easier to get through. Other than that it was simply a wonderful read. I look forward to more of it.
 

ben_smith

Forum Newcomer
Joined
May 14, 2012
Messages
10
Location
Bristol/Bath UK
Yes it is a bit of an impenetrable block of text here, isnt it? Super glad you liked it though, the place its originally posted (zidanes included a link) has proper formatting.
 

zidanes

Forum Regular
Joined
Oct 2, 2011
Messages
146
Location
Costa Rica
It was good and I enjoyed it immensely, however I do have one criticism of the story. It was a bit hard to follow through most of it. Better paragraph breaks would have made the story a bit easier to get through. Other than that it was simply a wonderful read. I look forward to more of it.

This was totally my ffault. You can go to the mentioned link and read and fav it there.
 
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