STANDARD WARNING: This is a work of fiction. Any similarity to individuals, living or dead, is pure coincidence. Do not read this story if you are offended by man-to-man romance or sex. Do not read if you are underage according to the laws in the country, state/province, county, city/town/village or township where you live. There is sex between males. You have been warned!

Copyright 2001 by Nick Archer. Permission is granted to Nifty Archives, ASSGM, and gaywritings, to post one copy. No part may be copied, reproduced, republished, or reposted on another website without written permission from the author.

Family Instincts

By Nick Archer

Chapter 11: Bizarre Love Triangle: Perfect

Thursday afternoon, just as Tim walked in the back door from work, Tommy confronted him.

"Tim, dad forgot to get paper again. Can you take me to get some?"

"Oh, hon, I’m tired and hungry. Do we have to go now?"

"Please?" Tommy gave Tim his best dying cow look.

"Tell you what," Tim said as he entered the dining room. In the corner of the room, Matt had stacked the milk crates. His paper-sorting project was still incomplete, so he put it aside for a few days. Tim unstacked the crates. Matt had not marked which was which, so he had no idea which was the recycle crate and which contained the papers he intended to keep.

"These look like the papers he’s going to throw out. Draw on the back of these until after dinner. Then we’ll take a trip to K Mart. Maybe we’ll rent a video, too. OK, buddy?"

"OK." Tommy glanced at the front of the papers before he began drawing. They appeared to be a cartoon of some sort about chemical reactions. It was done by Jenny Ropp. He shrugged his shoulders, turned the paper over again, and began drawing.




Tony was trying so hard to look casual, it was making him nervous. He was going to meet his Little Brother for the first time.

Tony knew a little about the boy. He was thirteen. His parents were divorced, and his mother was an alcoholic. The boy wasn’t much of an athlete, and he was somewhat of a loner.

His name was Ryan Murphy.

Doris, the social worker/mentor from Big Brothers was going to pick him up at his house, then drive them both to the boy’s house, where they would meet with him and his mom.

He looked good. His button-fly jeans were worn in all the right places. He wore a blue sweatshirt and he pushed sleeves to his elbows, exposing his corded, veiny forearms. The sweatshirt displayed his meaty shoulder muscles nicely. On his feet, he wore his brand-new dazzling white Nike shoes. He splashed on a little Cool Water cologne. He wanted to look young, but not too young.

Doris picked him up precisely at four o’clock. Doris was wearing a long, flowing skirt and a pink blouse. Over the blouse, she wore a tan cardigan. Tony suddenly felt underdressed.

The entire back seat of her Toyota Camry was covered with file folders. They lay in neat piles, about five or six folders deep, across the whole length of the seat. The remainder of the car was filled with wrappers, cups, napkins and plastic. The passenger seat was covered with unmatched tapes and cassette cases. She unceremoniously stuffed the tapes into the glove box. Once he was seated, he had to kick aside fast food wrappers and garbage on the floor.

"Looks like you need a filing cabinet in here."

"I’m sorry about this. I practically live in this car. I put sixty thousand miles on it in one year."

"Was I supposed to dress up?" Tony worried.

"No, you’re perfect. I have to dress like this. The agency requires it. Otherwise, I’d be comfortable, like you." She handed him the thick manila envelope. "Here it is."

On the way to Beverly, she let him read through Ryan’s folder. All the contents were confidential, of course, and Tony had to sign a confidentiality statement in order to see it. Marilyn Murphy also had to sign a release in order for him to view it.

There were grades from Ryan’s school, reports from social workers, comments from teachers. Between the lines, Tony read that the boy was a lonely boy. He wasn’t much into team sports or athletics. And he liked show tunes. Show tunes? A thirteen-year-old into show tunes? It’s a red flag.

Doris was quiet as Tony read. Before he knew it, they pulled in front of a tidy yellow-brick bungalow at 10205 South Artesian. It was very similar to the house he lived in.

Marilyn had been cleaning for a week. She was normally a good housekeeper, but strangers seldom visited and she wanted to make a good impression on Ryan’s new Big Brother. She wanted this to work out for Ryan. Somehow, she knew how important it was for her son.

"That must be them!" Ryan exclaimed as they watched the silver Camry park at the curb with expert precision. Doris had always bragged she could park in a phone booth, if need be.

Ryan’s eyes widened. "He’s big! Not fat, just big." Somewhere deep inside the boy was a stirring he couldn’t quite identify. Tony walked with grace and confidence as he followed Doris up the sidewalk.

"I’m Doris Schnieder from the office. This is Tony Santoro."

"Hi," he smiled his most dazzling smile as he shook Marilyn’s hand. "Nice to meet you."

"Hi, Tony!" Ryan shook the cop’s hand with enthusiasm. Tony noticed it was slightly damp.

"Nice to meet you, Ryan. I’ve been looking forward to this." Don’t make it sound too eager.

"Please, have a seat," Marilyn invited them. "Can I offer you a drink?" She quickly amended her offer. "I have Coke, Diet Pepsi..."

Doris responded, "Nothing for me, thanks."

But Tony said, "Sure, I’ll have a Coke, thank you."

Marilyn left the room. Tony took a quick inventory of the living room. It was very similar to the living room in his own home, except that the furniture wasn’t covered with plastic. Above the TV hung a very ugly landscape with a clock inserted in the back.

"Ok, Tony and Ryan. This is going to be rather brief today. It’s just a meet and greet session. We’ll talk about the best day to get together and we’ll set up the first meeting. After that, you’re on your own. Anywhere you go, if you go to the movies, or a ball game, or whatever, Ryan should pay his own admission." Doris always stated this, but in real practice, she knew it seldom happened. Most adults ended up paying for the boys. The Little Brothers usually came from single parent homes where extra cash was a scarce commodity.

Marilyn returned with a can of Coke and a glass with ice in it. I’m being given the royal treatment, Tony thought. A glass, not a paper cup, and with ice. She didn’t even ask.

Ryan sat next to Tony on the couch. Tony took inventory of him as well. He was wearing a long-sleeved Adidas T-shirt. Tony noticed how thin his wrists looked. He wore a watch on his left wrist. He had no shoes on, and his feet looked large in the clean white socks. His platinum blond hair was parted down the middle and he had porcelain blue eyes. He’s gay, Tony thought to himself, I know he is.

"Well," Tony spoke first, "I teach CCD on Monday nights, so that’s out."

"Anything is fine with me," Ryan said looking up admiringly at the cop as he tried to imagine what he looked like in uniform. And also what he looked like naked.

"I do have to tell you that I’m awaiting reassignment to the Juvenile Division. I’m not sure when it will happen. It could happen tomorrow, or it could happen next year. I’m just waiting for a position to open up. My hours may change," he said to Ryan with a wink, "but we’ll still get together."

"I’m free most nights," Ryan said.

"How about Friday nights, for now?" Tony proposed.

"Sounds good."

"Well, we have that done. It looks like you two are going to get along fine."

"I want to thank you, Tony," Marilyn said. "Ryan had been on the waiting list for a year and a half. He was so excited when Doris called and said that he had a potential match."

Tony smiled. He wasn’t quite sure how to respond. To Ryan he said, "How about a movie this week?"

"Cool!" Ryan glowed with excitement. "Can we go see Speed?"

Tony was about to agree, when they heard a knock at the back door. Seconds later, they heard the door open and a male voice said, "Hello? Anybody home?"

"We’re in the living room," Marilyn said as she jumped out of her chair. She intercepted Patrick in the dining room to explain.

Doris checked her watch. "Well, I think we’re about finished here." She wanted to shuffle Tony out the door before there was an opportunity for a scene to develop. If the guy was Marilyn's boyfriend it could be very awkward.

"This is Patrick McGraw. He’s a friend of the family."

Tony and Patrick’s eyes met in mutual recognition. And attraction. They shook hands.

"Tony is Ryan’s Big Brother," Marilyn explained to Patrick.

Patrick smiled, revealing his perfect, white teeth. "Thanks for taking the time for Ryan. It’s all he talked about for the last week."

Tony was stimulated by the touch of Patrick’s rough, callused hand. "It’s my pleasure." He placed his left hand on Ryan’s back. "I think we’re going to have fun."

"We’re going to the show," Ryan told Patrick. South Siders seldom went to the movies, and never to the cinema. The always went to the show.

"That’s great!" Patrick responded. He made a mental note to somehow be here at Marilyn’s when Tony came to pick up the boy.

"Oh, I almost forgot! We have a couple more papers to sign! Always more paperwork!" Tony sat down again and Doris handed him a pen. He handed Marilyn a paper, who signed it, then passed it to Tony. "It’s like signing the Paris Peace Accords," Doris quipped.

When the paperwork was done, Tony and Doris stood up.

"We’ll see you Friday," Marilyn said.

Doris stepped outside first. Just as Tony was about to step out the front door, Ryan touched his back. Tony almost jumped!

"Tony?" The man spun around.

"Yeah?" Ryan looked so vulnerable just then. He looked so needy.

Ryan encircled Tony’s waist. "Thank you," he said into Tony’s chest. The top of Ryan’s head was just under his chin.

Tony was moved beyond words. He patted the boy’s back and said quietly to him, "Thanks for waiting."

Tony smiled the entire ride back to his own house.

Mike, Jake and Brian were intertwined in front of the TV. Matt had a position on the couch and Tommy had a position on him. Apparently, Tommy found Matt more comfortable than the furniture. Matt patiently and good-naturedly let him sprawl on top of him. Tommy was unique in one aspect; he sat still.

That Thursday was rainy, cool and miserable. Matt would have preferred that the boys go outside to expend some of their energy, but the weather wasn’t cooperating.

There were two short taps at the back door and Matt heard it open. He knew it was Leah. They had developed a casual neighborliness much like Mary and Rhoda and Phyllis. Leah consistently used two short raps before entering. Matt used three at her back door.

Matt smiled at her. She had her purse, and it was clear she was ready to go somewhere.

"Mike," Leah called to him, "we need to go. You have a dentist appointment."

They groaned in unison.

"Hi, Leah," Tommy said to her.

"Hi, sweetheart." To Matt she commented, "They look like a litter down there on the floor."

Matt let out a burst of laughter. "They do. A litter of puppies."

"Actually, I think of teenagers more like kittens or cats. Children are like dogs when they are younger. They want your attention; they even ask for it. They look up at you in adoration. They follow you around. They want to cuddle with their parents. Once they reach adolescence, they become cats. They walk away when you’re talking to them. They pretend they don’t hear you. They think they’re independent, but really, just like real cats, they do need you."

"Isn’t that the truth? But Leah, when does it end?"

"Rest assured, Matt, they eventually change back into dogs. By that time they’re adults, and you may not cuddle with them as you once did. But they do." She turned her attention to Mike again. "Come on, Mike, get your jacket."

"Awwww, Ma!" But he untangled himself from Jake and Brian and retrieved his jacket that was on the hall tree by the front door. As he slipped it on, he asked Leah, "Can I stay overnight tonight? We’re going to the Field Museum tomorrow morning anyway."

"On the condition that you have dinner at our house tonight. We have some things to discuss. And, of course, if it’s OK with Matt."

"Not a problem, Leah."

"Mike is being evaluated for braces," Leah told Matt.

"Tin grin!" Brian yelled.

Matt flashed him a dirty look.

"He’ll be back around nine tonight."

When Tim arrived home from work, Brian cornered him in the basement. Tim was going through his after-work routine of changing his clothes and showering the day’s dust, dirt and perspiration off before he went back upstairs.


Tim raised an eyebrow at Brian. Something was up. Usually, Brian addressed only Matt as Dad.

Tim smiled at him nonetheless. "Hi, there. What’s up?"

"I’m in trouble."

"What did you do?"

"I got the cell phone bill today."


"I went over the basic minutes."

"By how much?"

"Almost double."

Tim sighed and shook his head. "You know that phone was supposed to be only for emergencies. Who were you calling?"

"Mike, mostly."


"I know," Brian tried to interrupt the impending lecture. Brian looked so sad and forlorn standing there. Brian was good at putting on a show. He had learned to manipulate Tim by adopting a ‘Poor Little Me’ attitude.

Standing there in only his underwear, Tim put a hand on Brian’s shoulder. "OK, here’s what we’ll do. I’ll pay the difference this time. But it has to be a secret between you and me. And if you go over again, you’re on your own, buddy."

Brian hugged him. "Thanks. I love you."

Tim patted his back. "OK. Now, let me take my shower."


A while later, the Rosato-McGraws were seated at the dining room table.

"It smells good," Tommy replied. "I just wish I could get it to my mouth without a mess."

"Tommy, try winding the spaghetti around the fork, like this," Jake suggested to him.

"Brian and Jake, we still don’t have Confirmation sponsors for you," Matt said to them. It was one tradition of the Catholic Church Matt actually liked. The young person to be confirmed chose an older adult as a sponsor. The purpose of the sponsor was to guide them through the confirmation process, answer questions, provide a role model and pray for the young person. The sponsor could not be immediate family, he had to be the same sex, over sixteen, active in the church, and already confirmed. Tim was a likely candidate, but they had already decided against him because he was a parent.

"What about my dad or my brother-in-law?" Matt suggested.

"Or my dad?" Tim suggested.

Matt was suddenly inspired. "Bill! Bill would be perfect for you, Brian."

"Or me," Jake interjected. "He’s my social worker."

"Brian, how do you feel about that? Bill could be Jake’s sponsor?"

"Sure. Actually, I have someone in mind."

"You do? Who?"

"Uncle Marty."

The smile faded from Matt’s face. Matt and Marty had had a falling out almost two months ago over Jake and had not spoken since. Jake’s natural father was living with Marty in his Blue Island apartment. Matt had not heard anything about them since their argument, although he had tried to tap into his sources. Nobody had seen them at the 129 Club, which was Marty’s favorite hangout, or anywhere for that matter. It was as if he dropped off the face of the earth.

Matt had dearly missed the presence of his best friend in his life. But there was a principle at stake here: Jake was Al’s son and Al was ignoring him for a relationship with Marty. Jake was doing well and Matt and Tim both loved him, but that was beside the point. Jake wanted his natural father.

"I’ll have to think about it," was all Matt said.

They finished the rest of the meal in silence.


Later on, Matt and Tim were watching L.A. Law, holding hands and kissing during commercials.

"This show has really gone south," Matt commented.

"I agree. I heard this is the last season." Tim kissed Matt quickly, then said, "Hey what are you going to do about Marty?"

"The easy answer would be to tell Brian no, and leave it at that." Matt leaned his head on Tim’s shoulder. "But I miss him."

"I know you do. Maybe it’s time to swallow your pride and just make up with him."

"What about Jake?"

Tim’s reply was interrupted by two short knocks at the door. Mike had arrived.

"They’re downstairs," Matt said to him.

Before going downstairs to the basement, Mike walked to the end of the couch.

"I just want to thank you for letting me stay overnight," he said.

"You are always welcome," Tim replied.

"We enjoy having you."

Mike held out his hand. Matt took it as if to shake it, but instead pulled on his arm. Mike lost his balance, and flipped over the arm of the couch across their laps. Both Matt and Tim tickled him.

"No, please! Don’t! Stop!" Mike laughed breathlessly as he thumped the couch cushions with his feet.

"He said please don’t stop!" Tim shouted.

"That’s enough, Tim." Mike was almost gasping for breath. Matt slapped Mike’s hip affectionately. "Don’t stay up all night. We’re going to the museum in the morning."

Mike stood up and arranged his clothes. Before he started downstairs, he turned on his heels, walked back to the couch and hugged Matt, then Tim.

"Good night, son."


They were dancing in their underwear to Bizarre Love Triangle. They had the volume on as low as they could. The TV was on as well, and so was the computer and both were unattended for the moment. It was so typically adolescent; Let’s see how many different forms of media we can get going at once. The only thing missing was the phone.

Matt stood at the top of the stairs and called down. "OK, guys, it’s 11:30. Time to wrap things up and get some sleep."

"OK, Dad," Jake called up.

They turned everything off except for the TV and the boom box. Instead of the New Order tape, they turned on the radio. Someone, most likely one of the adults, had left the station on adult contemporary WPNT. Jake didn’t bother to change the station. In the flickering blue light, they flipped channels trying to find something to watch. Mike and Brian were huddled in one sleeping bag, while Jake snuggled in another. Giggling and squirming, Mike and Brian ended up face-to-face.

"Hi, there," Brian whispered to him.

"Hi," Mike smiled and whispered back.

Jake didn’t notice the escalating affection of the other two. "So, do you think your dad will call Marty?"

After a fleeting kiss, Brian answered him. "I don’t know. I hope he does. This is all so stupid." He rolled over on his stomach, and rested his head on his folded arms. "I mean, Marty and my dad have been best friends since the Bronze Age." Mike snickered. "I miss Marty, too. He’s so funny."

"Yes, he is," Jake agreed. "I hope nothing like that ever comes between us."

Brian rolled over to face Jake, "No, dude, you’re my best friend."

"Hey, what about me?" Mike asked, half jokingly.

"You too, Mike. The three of us, we’re best friends." Jake paused a while then asked Mike, "Are you jealous of me, Mike?"

"Yeah, a little." Mike admitted.

"Don’t be, dude. Brian is all yours. In the sack at least."

Brian giggled but Mike wasn’t amused. "I know that you tried to talk Brian into fucking around."

"Yeah, I did," Jake admitted, almost arrogantly. "But I was just horny at the time. I like girls."

"It’s pretty queer to be grabbing another guy’s dick, isn’t it, Jake?" Mike was referring to the other day when Jake had initiated a group grope after they dyed their hair.

That had been bothering him, too, but Jake just shrugged.

They were quiet for a time, then Brian asked Jake, "Do you think you’re bisexual?"

Jake pulled the sleeping bag over his head. "This news conference is over."

"Come on, Jake," Brian said persuasively. "It’s just us. I’m not going to tell anyone."

"Me neither," Mike added. Mike was dying of curiosity. Could his handsome best friend, Big Man on Campus, jock swing both ways?

They heard him sniffling under the sleeping bag. Brian put his arms around the shuddering figure.

"It’s Ok, Jake." He patted the area he thought was Jake’s back. Then after a while, Brian asked, "Have you talked about it with your counselor?"

"Yeah," came the morose reply.

"And what did she say?" Brian encouraged.

His feelings came out in a torrent. "I’m so confused." Jake wasn’t exactly crying, but his voice was shaky. "I can’t help the feelings I have for you and Mike. But I still like girls. I love Matt and Tim, too, but in a different way. I don’t want to leave here. I don’t want to live with my Dad any more. I want to stay here with you."

Brian turned around and his eyes met Mike’s. Mike made a grimace. "Jake, man, if I had known you had all those issues, I’d have cancelled my subscription a long time ago," Mike quipped in an attempt to lighten up the situation. Jake had touched on an essential problem. He was only there at the house until his natural father claimed him. Most likely that was going to occur in less than two months, at the end of the school year.

Brian had an idea. "Come on out of there, we’re going to rearrange these sleeping bags." They unzipped two of them; one they placed on the floor and the other they used as a cover. Jake was in the middle between Brian and Mike.

When they had settled down again, Brian took Jake’s hand and gave it a squeeze. "You are my brother," he said, emphasizing each word. "Even if you go to live with your dad, that won’t change. You are a great guy, Jake. You’re so much fun to be around, you’re funny and you think of the craziest things to do."

Both Brian and Mike were touched by Jake’s confession and they understood his sexual confusion. Both Brian and Mike had felt some form of sexual confusion themselves. Jake seldom displayed his vulnerable side or discussed his feelings unless it was under the guise of a joke. In the months that he had lived with Matt and Tim, he had gotten better, but there obviously were some unresolved issues that needed he to attend to.

After some more squirming, Jake positioned himself on his back. Brian gave Jake’s hand another squeeze. "You’re going to be OK, dude. My dad will make sure of it. Don’t worry."

The radio played Tears in Heaven by Eric Clapton. Slow and moving, Clapton had written the song in response to the death of his young son. They paused to listen to the song.

"We’re here for you, man. We love you."

When the song was finished, Brian reached over and turned the radio off, then the TV. He leaned over Jake.

"Gimme a kiss," he said to Mike.

Mike grinned and smooched Brian.

"More," Brian demanded.

They kissed a long passionate kiss, allowing each other’s tongues to explore the inside of the other boy’s mouth.

"Hey, how about some of that?" Jake demanded.


"I want a kiss, too. And, Brian Rosato, don’t even play me like you haven’t kissed me before."

Before he kissed Jake, Brian’s eyes met Mike’s. There he saw the unresolved jealousy Mike had for Jake. Still, Mike was a compassionate boy, he understood Jake’s pain, and he basically liked Jake. Besides, they had already played around with each other on Tuesday. Mike gave his permission by nodding his head ever so slightly.

"Thanks, Brian. Now, it’s your turn," Jake said to Mike.


"No, asshole, I’m talking to Prints. Yes, you."

Mike grinned and kissed Jake.

"Wooo hooo!" Brian instantly covered his mouth after the exclamation burst from his lips.

"You’re almost better than Brian. Better give me another one so I can decide."

Mike grinned and kissed him again, this time allowing his mouth to open and Jake’s tongue to slip in.

"Hey! That’s my boyfriend!" Brian moved his face closer and they attempted a three-way kiss.

"Ewww," Mike said, wiping his lips with the back of his hand, "that was sloppy."

"But hot," Jake said, rubbing his crotch.

"We’d better stop now," Brian suggested.


"We need to get some sleep. If we’re sleepy tomorrow, Dad will ask questions. Nothing ever gets by him."

Jake sighed his agreement. He wanted to play around again, but he also knew Matt would pick up on their lack of sleep instantly and then he would want to know why they hadn’t gotten any sleep.

They settled back down again, their arms and legs wrapped around each other. They had almost crossed the still waters of the night to slumber, when Brian chuckled.

"What now?" Jake asked.

"The song. They wrote the song about us."

"What are you talking about?" Mike asked, exasperation in his voice.

"Bizarre Love Triangle. That’s us."

"Yes, it is," Jake agreed. "Now go to sleep."

"Good night, Jake and Mike. I love you both."

"Good night John Boy, Mary Ellen."

Every time I think of you

I feel shot right through with a bolt of blue

It's no problem of mine but it's a problem I find

Living a life that I can't leave behind

There's no sense in telling me

The wisdom of a fool won't set you free

But that's the way that it goes

And it's what nobody knows

While every day my confusion grows

Every time I see you falling I get down on my knees and pray

I'm waiting for that final moment

You'll say the words that I can't say.

Bizarre Love Triangle, New Order, Qwest Records, 1986 ASCAP

Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed it. As always, your comments and suggestions are welcome. I read and respond to all email (even if it takes a few days) Just click on one of the links below. And don't forget to check out my website (Chapters are always posted there earlier than here) and my other story here on Nifty, Pocketful of Stars, in the Young Friends section.


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