STANDARD WARNING: This is a work of fiction. Any coincidence 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!

Author's note: I'm thrilled with the positive feedback I've been getting! I have posted six chapters in two weeks, because I wanted to establish a presence on Nifty quickly and because I wanted some feedback since this is my first story. I'm going to slow the pace down a bit now, because the story is going into uncharted territory, and because this thing called 'life' is interfering. But the story is far from over!

Paternal Instincts

By archer

Chapter 6

The fog was still swirling as Matt reached in his pocket for the the ticket. At the entrance to the red brick building, he handed it a boy who thanked him in a deep voice.

Matt walked down a short hall that had offices on either side. The building was already warm with numerous bodies. Chairs surrounded three of the wall and guarded them like soldiers.

More interesting to Matt was the assortment of people. The boys, of course, were there, more than a hundred of them. They had been scrubbed clean, coached, and were wearing shirts and ties. The houseparents, counseling staff and some of the teachers from the school were also there. And there were at least twenty couples, some with their own children. The included men and women of all races, ages and economic levels.

Matt stood awkwardly, with the completed forms in hand, looking for Bill. After a few moments of scanning the gym and not spotting him, Matt took a seat in the bleachers. Immediately three small boys sat next to him and began to ask questions.

“What’s your name?” A cute African American boy asked. Matt figured he was about eight or nine, as were his friends.

“Matt,” he smiled.

“Where’s your wife?” demanded a brown-haired boy.

“I’m not married.”


“Are you going to adopt a kid?” the third boy asked.

“I don’t think so.”

The trio seemed to lose interest, but only for a moment. They they began asking questions again.

Matt patiently explained that he had worked at the camp several summers ago. He also told them that Bill was his friend, and he was mainly there to see him. Mat discovered the names of the boys were Julio, Todd and Lamar. They continued to sit with Matt, casually touching him. The boys and the man watched the parade of people before them.

Some boys, especially the younger ones, had no qualms about walking up to the visiting adults. Some of the older boys tried to look cool, detached, and nonchalant. They had been through this before and weren’t getting their hopes up. The adolescent boys had the toughest time; they were no longer ‘cute’ and they knew it. They hadn’t yet developed the attitude of the older boys, and most of them still clung to the hope that someone might take an interest in them.

Bill walked by the bleachers, and Matt called out to him.

“Glad to see you could make it,” Bill said, shaking Matt’s hand vigorously.

“Can’t really tell you why I’m here,” he relied as he handed bill the paperwork. “Please tell me that’s all the forms I have to fill out.”

Bill laughed. “Nope. It’s only the beginning. Thanks for filling them out. Hey, I have to check out the sound system. Excuse me. I’ll catch up with you later.”

A small, slight woman in dressed in a leotard and a long, flowing skirt moved to the center of the gym. She tested the sound system and introduced herself. She explained folk dances and gave a very brief history, then she began. She was an excellent teacher. She explained each new step thoroughly, then demonstrated it. Her enthusiasm was infectious. Even most of the wallflowers participated.

It wasn’t long before Matt broke a sweat. After three dances he decided to sit down. His three new friends followed him to the bleachers.

Julio found Matt’s lap much more comfortable than the wood of the bleachers. Matt grinned and good-naturedly let the boy sit in his lap.

It was about this time that Matt noticed an adolescent boy sitting a level below and to the right of him on the bleachers. Matt took quick glances at the boy without trying to be obvious. He was about thirteen and slim. He was probably average height for his age. He had silver-blond hair and blue eyes and was neatly dressed in jeans and a denim shirt with a tie. The boy noticed Matt looking at him and smiled. God, he’s good looking. He looks just like an angel.

Jane took a break, and Matt took the opportunity to buy a can of pop for himself and his new friends. He saw the blond boy standing nearby.

“You want a can of pop, too?” Matt asked him.

He smiled again and spoke for the first time. “Sure, thanks.”

The five of them sat back down in the bleachers, just as Jane resumed the center of the room.

“OK,” she announced, “For this next dance you will need a partner. It doesn’t have to be a partner of the opposite sex.” A chuckle ran around the gym.

Matt turned to the blond boy. “Want to try it?”

The boy was sipping his soda. A surprised look crossed his face. “OK, sure.”

Matt felt a twinge of guilt about leaving the other boys, until he saw a houseparent approach them. The blond’s eyes glowed the the attention and presence of an adult. Jane demonstrated the dance, which was sort of a square dance. It involved passing your partner several times. Each time he did the boy lit up like a lightbulb.

The dance was rather energetic, and when it ended, Matt decided to sit down again. He returned to the place where be had been sitting, and the blond followed him.

“That was fun,” Matt said to him in an attempt to strike up a conversation.

“Yeah,” the boy replied in a piping voice.

Then, two other residents passed by the bleachers. One was a huge African American of about fourteen. The other was Hispanic and about the same age.

“New boyfriend?” The Hispanic boy directed his question to the blond. “He’s cute,” he lisped.

The two laughed boisterously and walked away before Matt could say anything.

The blond looked at his feet, and looked extremely hurt. He looked as if he were blinking back tears. Matt’s heart went out to him; he knew exactly how he felt. Matt was about to put a reassuring hand on his back when all of a sudden, he jumped up and left the gym.

“Matt, c’mon,” Lamar tugged at his forearm. “We wanna do this.”

“Where are we going?” Matt said swinging his head around the gym in a vain effort to try to spot the blond boy.

“We’re going to do this dance. Ma Peggy had to go somewhere.”

With the three boys pulling him, he returned to the dance floor. Now he felt a twinge of guilt about leaving the blond. He continued to glance around the gym to spot the boy. He thought about following him, but then he remembered how carefully controlled access to other buildings was for visitors.

The three boys eventually seemed to lose interest, and Matt spotted Bill.

“I’ve been so busy,” Bill apologized, as he mopped his brow with a paper napkin. That PA system is so old, it has Thomas Edison’s signature on it. I need a break. Let’s go sit down at one of the tables,” he suggested.

Except for an older couple at the other end of the table, they were relatively empty at the moment. Matt and Bill cleared a spot of the half-empty pop cans and half-eaten cookies.

“Feels so good to sit down,” Bill said as he slumped into a chair. “I see you’ve met Brian.”


“Brian Kowalski. The kid I was telling you about.”

It made sense. The young man had been a blip on the gaydar.

“Nice kid,” Matt commented.

Great kid.” Bill countered.

“Bill.....I saw some of the other kids teasing him. I don’t mean to interfere, but I think you should know.”

Bill’s eyes looked troubled. “I don’t think anyone else knows, yet. As far as I know, I’m the only one he’s told.” He took a sip of his Dr. Pepper. “I think they were teasing him because Brian sort of marches to a different drummer. He’s not exactly a team player, and the other kids single him out because of this. He sort of marches to his own drum. He has a small set of friends, and he tends to stick to them. “

“What’s his background?”

“I think I mentioned before that he’s an orphan. One of the few around here who is. His parents were older, and killed in a car accident about nine months ago. He stayed with an older sister, but got in trouble and they brought him here. Why don’t we plan on getting together to talk more about the foster program?”

“Ok,” Matt agreed. “What does your schedule look like over Memorial Day? Going anywhere special?”

“No, I’m not. Why don’t we have lunch on Saturday?”

“Sounds good.”

Just then, Matt’s three young friends reappeared, begging that he dance with them again. Matt flashed a helpless smile to Bill, and obliged them. He glanced quickly around the gym, but couldn’t see a trace of Brian.

Hot and sweaty, Matt dispensed with putting his jacket on. He gave the three boys a quick hug before he walked out the gym. The fog still swirled abound him as he strolled to his car.

His imagination had been stirred. His curiosity aroused. He could do this. He really could do this.


Mike Rosen was one of the select chosen few that Brian hung around with at St. Luke’s. From Brian’s first day at the institution, when Mike introduced himself after lunch, they had been good friends. Mike was a very nerdy looking kid. He wore thick glasses that enlarged his green eyes and make him look like and owl. He was much smaller than the other boys; at thirteen he was barely five feet tall. He had skinny arms and bony knees.

But, he was highly intelligent, and he earned the best grades in school. He was musically talented and played the guitar and clarinet in the school band. He had an amusing, dry, sarcastic sense of humor. He was something for a mascot on campus - he once referred to himself as ‘The Family Pet’. He was fearless. He even stood up to Demetrius, whose evil temper and menacing manner had earned him the nickname The Beast. And he was about the best friend Brian ever had.

The Friday night of Memorial Day weekend found Trees cottage empty except for four people: Mike and Brian, and Tom and Debbie McIlvain. Tom worked a full time job off campus and he had Monday off as well. They had also taken Tuesday off. They were looking foreword to the weekend to get away from campus and do some camping in Wisconsin.

The rest of the boys had already been picked up by natural parents, foster parents or other relatives for the long weekend. Their departure was delayed by the two boys who remained behind. Brian’s sister Noreen would pick him up Saturday morning. No one was coming for Mike, so he would stay at St. Luke’s, but would be consolidated into another cottage with the dozen or so other boys who would be left.

Tom and Debbie delayed their departure until Saturday morning. They had Tuesday off, anyway. Besides, out of all the boys in the cottage, Mike and Brian were the most trustworthy and basically maintenance-free. And they enjoyed their company.

By 7 PM, most of the boys had left campus for their weekend visits. Tom and Debbie retreated into their suite to watch TV, but left the door open so they could monitor activities. Brian and Mike took a soccer ball to the grassy lawn and kicked it back and forth aimlessly.

At 8 PM, it was too dark to see, so they suspended their soccer game and went in to watch TV. They both sat on the beat-up couch which was parallel to the TV set in the living room. No one else was there to challenge their choice of programs, but there wasn’t much else on Friday nights. They settled for the lineup of juvenile sitcoms on ABC.

Mike got up to use the restroom, and when he returned, he sat on Brian’s right, so close that Brian could feel his warmth. He leaned closer to Brian, and lay his head on Brian’s right shoulder.

Brian was panic stricken. If anyone saw them together, even Debbie or Tom, there would be hell to pay! But there were no other boys in the cottage and the McIlvains were cool.

Armed with this reasonable thought, Brian draped his right arm around Mike, The fingertips of his right hand rested on Mike’s ribs, which he could feel even through Mike’s shirt. When Mike chuckled at the sitcom, Brian could feel the vibration of his body.

Brian felt the need to use the restroom after the next commercial break. On the way back he also got them both cups of ice water, which he carried into the living room and placed carefully on the carpet in front of the sofa. Did Mike want to cuddle again? Brian decided to test the waters. He sat at the very end of the couch.

“What are you doing?” Mike asked. “Get back over here.”

Brian grinned and scooted back to his former position. The two boys remained in the position until the news came on. They didn’t talk except for an occasional comment about the show they were viewing. Brian felt totally comfortable and natural to be on the couch with Mike.

Debbie startled them both. “Ok, guys, it’s time to hit the sack.” Both boys almost went into orbit. They instantly untangled themselves. Debbie had a talent for creeping up on the boys; it gave her the advantage when her kids were doing something they shouldn’t be doing.

Debbie smiled. “Let’s go.”

“But, it’s not a school night,” Mike protested. The McIlvains had an ironclad rule that lights out was at 9:30 on school nights and ten o’clock on Friday and Saturday nights.

“Ok, you guys can stay up another half hour, but that’s it.”

“Thanks, Debbie.”

“And if you tell the others that I let you stay up, I’ll disown you both.” She chuckled at her own comment and walked off.

Within ten minutes, however, Brian started to doze off. He knew he couldn’t fall asleep here. Tom would come out and shake him awake. He never carried the boys to bed. Tom figured that they were in junior high, and should know when they were tired. It had happened to Brian once before, and Tom was not gentle when he shook the boys.

“I’m going to bed,” he told Mike.

“OK. I’m going to stay up.”

Brian padded down the hall to his bedroom, removed his clothes, except for his jockey shorts, and rolled under the covers.

Brian was about to fall asleep when Mike appeared in the doorway to his bedroom. He looked ghostly due to his pale skin and white jockey shorts.

“Can I sleep in here?” Mike asked.

Brian mumbled, “I don’t care.” Brian rolled over and continued to drift off. The last thing he was aware of was Mike getting under the covers in the adjacent bed.

Brian woke up later that night and was immediately aware that someone was in his bed. Mike was sound asleep and had an arm and a leg draped over him. He was snoring softly. Brian noticed that his small erection was pressed against his thigh. Brian had a set of mixed emotions. He liked cuddling with Mike, and was pleased that Mike wanted to do the same. But he also felt taken advantage of. At least he could have asked when he came to sleep in his bedroom!

Brian pushed Mike away, almost pushing him off the bed. It woke the other boy up.

“Go to your own bed,” Brian said in a groggy, irritated voice.

Mike did.


That Memorial Day, Matt had Friday night off as well as Saturday and Sunday. He had to work Monday, Memorial Day, because the mall was open and he was manager. Matt was salaried, but all the other employees were hourly. That meant if the hourly employees worked on a legal holiday when the mall was open, they were paid time-and-a-half. For this reason, the company preferred it’s managers to work on holidays when the store was open.

During the day on Friday, Tim had left a message on his answering machine suggesting that they get together. Matt agreed and invited him over for dinner on Friday night.

Matt lit the charcoal in the small grill he purchased a few days before. By the time Tim arrived with a six pack of Miller, the grill was ready.

They sat on the concrete steps of Matt’s back porch watching the hamburgers cook. Their legs and biceps touched in a familiar way. Condensation from the bottles of beer left wet rings on the concrete.

Matt compared his sandal to Tim’s white and black Nike. “God, you have big feet.”

“Size thirteen,” Tim said, somewhat embarrassed.

“You know what they say about men with big feet.”

The two men said little else, instead choosing to watch Matt’s neighbors do the exact same thing. It seemed that everyone else had decided to grill tonight. Chicago weather was so unpredictable, it might snow on Monday. So Chicagoans knew to do their grilling whenever the weather cooperated. A boy and a girl tossed a Frisbee. Matt watched the clouds change shape; white splotches against a blue sky. Matt felt relaxed, peaceful and content.

When the hamburgers were done, they ate them at the breakfast bar along with store bought potato salad and carrot sticks.

“These are so good!”

Matt shrugged. “They’re just store-bought patties. They taste so good because they were grilled. Everything tastes better. You could probably grill your size thirteen shoes and they would taste good. “

“You’re a funny man,” Tim said, poking him playfully in the ribs.

“Don’t, Tim, I’m ticklish.”

“You are, are you? Let’s find out.”

“No, Tim, don’t.....” Matt leapt off his stool. They faced each other and crouched down like wrestlers at the beginning of a match. Matt scooted to the opposite side of the dining room table. But , now he was trapped in the corner.

“I’ll get you!” Tim shouted.

Matt tried to make a getaway, but Tim lunged for him. Tim had the advantages of youth and muscle. Tim lunged and pinned him on the living room floor. He sat on Matt’s midsection and began tickling his ribs. Matt twisted, laughed and gasped for air.

“Stop, Tim.” He pounded his heels on the floor. “Stop!”

With a great push, Matt caught Tim off balance and the younger man fell to the floor. Tim’s head narrowly missed the coffee table. They both lay on the floor, catching their breath for a long moment.
“You are such a big kid, sometimes.”

“Is that a good thing or a bad thing?”

“A little bit of both.”

Tim propped himself up on one elbow. He placed his free hand on Matt’s chest. Matt flinched, fearing that he would try to tickle him again, but he didn’t.

“Hi there,” Tim smiled at Matt.

“Hi there,” Matt returned the smile.

“I love you.”

Matt sighed. “I think you’re in love with the idea of being in love.” Matt was quiet for a moment. “Tim, I appreciate your persistence, but it’s just not happening.”

Tim’s smile vanished. “Why? Is it me?”

Matt put his arms behind his head. “Yeah, to be honest, it is. Listen to this and see how it sounds to you: A guy is engaged to be married to a woman, and in the space of five months, breaks off the engagement, and decides he’s madly in love with a guy ten years older than he is. What’s wrong with this picture?”

“I thought you would understand.”

“I’m trying to understand. Help me understand.”

Tim sat up and wrapped his arms around his knees. “I never had sex with her.”

“With who? With Rosie?”

“Yeah.” He paused and looked away. “I’m a virgin with women.”

Matt was incredulous. “You are a virgin with women and you were engaged to get married? This is getting crazier by the minute. Why, Tim, why?”

“I just....couldn’t take it anymore.”

“Take what?”

“The pressure. From my dad, my mom, especially my mom. ‘When are you getting married? Why aren’t you married like your brothers and sisters?’”

“So you were going to get married just to stop the questions? That’s an easy way out. Can you imagine how used Rosie must feel?”

“Rosie and I have known each other since grade school.”

“And that’s supposed to make it better?”

“She knew what she was getting into.”

“That’s not the issue, Tim.” Matt’s voice was rising. “You used her so you could avoid pressure from your parents.”

“Fuck you!” Tim burst out. “You don’t know anything about it.”

“I don’t know? “ Matt was trying to keep his temper under control. “I know all about rejection, coming out to parents. I got a PhD in rejection, buddy. And I have a few years experience on you.”

Tim didn’t respond right away. He was still sitting on the floor with his knees pulled to his chest and his arms wrapped around them. He put his forehead down on his knees. Neither of them spoke for a long minute. Matt heard the younger man gasping. Matt realized he was crying.

Matt stood up to get a box of tissues, and on the way back, he turned on the stereo. It would be so easy to give in. There was something so poignant about such a virile man crying; almost endearing. He handed Tim the box. Tim took it, and wiped his eyes and nose. Matt sat down on the floor again, this time with his back against the couch.

“I’m sorry, Tim.” He reached over and touched his arm.

“I’m sorry, too. “ Tim scooted over and positioned himself between Matt’s legs, with his back resting against Matt’s chest. Matt wrapped his arms around his torso. He could smell Tim’s cologne. It was Drakkar Noir. The stereo was tuned to WKQX and With or Without You by U2 came on. It was a few years old, already. It’s was weepy and romantic and only Bono could do the tune justice. They listened worldlessly to the music for a few moments.

“I’m afraid, too,” Matt finally spoke again. “I’m afraid that I’ll end up like Rosie. That one day, you’ll wake up and decide that this isn’t for you, and you’ll be gone.”

“I’ve never been so in love with anyone in my life.”

“You say that, Tim, but I can only judge by your actions. And your actions up to now haven’t been encouraging.” Matt paused. “I don’t want to get hurt, again. I spent seven years with Andy and the breakup was not pretty. I’ve been single for about two years, and I’m enjoying it. So, I guess I have things to deal with, too.”

Tim chuckled. “So, we both have issues.”

“Tim, I like you and I care about you. But you have to start coming out. It’s one of the prerequisites. You’ll start liking yourself a lot more, too.”

“How do you do that?”

Matt laughed. “If I had that answer, I’d write a book and be a millionaire.” He whispered in Matt’s ear. “But I’m your friend and I’ll help and support you whenever I can.”

Thanks for all your feedback! It has been very helpful to know that there are others that enjoy a good love story! Keep your comments coming! Drop me a line: mailto:

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