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 2000 by 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.

Pocketful of Stars

By Archer

Chapter 5

The next week just flew by.

Summer school was going good. There were only a few times that Mrs. Blaisdell taught something I wasn't sure about. But whenever I asked her a question, she explained it in a way I could understand. But that only happened like twice. Most of the time she was asking me to help Kelly. Kelly kept looking at me with her brown eyes but I was like you're cute, but you've got the wrong plumbing.

Each night, Paul did some fun thing with us. Josh and me were having the time of our lives. Mom asked him a couple times if he had anything better to do, but he always said that he was bored. He always said that he really didn't have anything better to do besides study.

On Monday, he took us to Sears in Eastland Mall. He bought a window air conditioning unit. We helped him install it in one of the windows in the apartment that evening. Once we got the thing working, we just kicked back and watched TV. "Kicking it with the homies," as Josh put it.

Tuesday night stormed, so Paul took us to the library. The Bloomington Public Library has got to be one of the ugliest buildings on the face of the earth. But it does have one good feature: the Young Adult books are on the adult side of the building. That means no screaming kids and no baby books. Paul was impressed, too.

"Wow," he said as he plucked a paperback off a wire spinner rack. "I didn't know they made this into a book."

"What is it?" We looked at the cover. It was called The Truth About Alex.

"Looks like a chick book," Josh commented.

"You won't read anything unless it's about sports," I told him.

"Shut up, butthead."

I ignored Josh. "What's it about, Paul?"

"Well, it's about…um….I guess you just have to read it."

"Great summary," Josh said sarcastically.

"Josh, will you grow up?" I took the book from Paul. "It sounds interesting. I'll read it." I glared at Josh. Sometimes he can be such a typical jock.

Paul tried to explain further. "It was a Afternoon Special. You know what I'm talking about?"

"Sure, those dorky movies they used to have in the afternoons. There was always some kind of crisis."

Paul laughed. "Yeah, those are the ones. Anyway, this story started out like that."

We looked around the library a while longer. I love to look at the old yearbooks. They have old yearbooks going all the way back to the 1920's, and are they funny! I love to look at the ones in the 60's where the girls have big hair. I mean REALLY big hair! This one chick probably had to put a flashing red light on top so planes wouldn't run into her hair! In the 70's all the guys have long hair and all the girls have this strange flip thing gong on.

"Farrah Fawcett hair," Paul told us.

"How do you know?"

"I have an older sister who was in high school at the time," he explained.

We stayed until the library closed at nine o'clock.

Thursday night, we ended up playing Hide and Seek behind my house. I can't really explain how it started. I think it was Josh's idea. Cindy and Carrie played, too. Stupid Cindy whined the whole time. She was easy to find. Other kids in the neighborhood joined in, too. Josh suggested we lock the game, but I told him no.

"Look at all these…these…kids. They'll ruin the game."

"It's more fun with more people," I told him. "Besides, it's my house." I hated to use that argument, but Josh can be such a butthead at times.

Just then, Paul appeared from inside the house. "I'll bet I can find all of you!"

Josh and I looked at each other. He was thinking the exact same thing I was: A grownup playing Hide and Seek with us?

I shrugged. Why the hell not? Some of the other neighborhood kids were skeptical, too.

But Paul covered his eyes and started counting. "One, two, the way, what are the boundaries?"

"Clinton, Empire, University and Constitution Trail," I yelled behind me.

It was a little weird having Paul play with us. Don't get me wrong, it was fun. That hot, sticky night with the fireflies rising from the grass stuck in my memory. Josh and I were breathless with anticipation as Paul tried to find us before we could tag Home. I love to compete with adults and make them look like fools, if I can. But it raised questions in my mind, too, just as it had raised questions in my mom's mind.

But really, I think Mom was happy about Paul spending time with us because I wasn't hanging around the house and fighting with my sisters. She still asked Paul if he really wanted to spend time with us, but he always assured her that he did. Yeah, I wondered about it, too. I mean, Paul is a good-looking stud. He can hang with anyone he wants. Why would he want to hang with two-fourteen-year-olds?

Friday night, he took us to the Illinois State Planetarium. He parked his car behind the old church kitty-corner from Felmley Hall and the planetarium.

I love coming here. I never get tired of it. A bunch of Cub Scouts were filing off a school bus as into the west door of Felmley at the same time we entered. Great, I thought. Just what we need.

The planetarium at ISU is a small one. It's got these high-backed curved benches covered in leather. I know it sounds stupid, but when I sat down in the dim planetarium, my heart started to beat faster. Josh sat on the end and Paul sat in the middle, between us. I think he was trying to separate us. On the other side of me sat a scoutmaster with his little boy who was too young even to be in Cub Scouts.

The planetarium is also near the library and the Bone Student Center. I love that name. Bone Student Center. The first time I heard about it when I was a little boy, I thought it was made out of bone, like in Bedrock, where the Flintstones live. Hey, I was just a little kid.

When I sat down, the seat cushion let out a sigh.

"You farted!" Josh exclaimed. Josh loves fart sounds. I think he's investigated every possible way to create the sound. Josh once tried to teach me how to make the sound by putting my hand in my armpit. I told him I wasn't interested in learning. He looked at me like I was from Saturn. Josh and I are different in other ways, too. In some ways, he's such a typical jock. I like some sports, but I'm really not that good, and I play for fun. If it gets too competitive, I back off. Josh is in Pony League, and you have to be pretty good to get in. He also wrestles and plays basketball. He doesn't like to read as much as I do, and he thinks some really stupid things are funny. Like fart sounds and Beavis and Butthead. And he likes girls. This last thing just developed this past school year, and it bothered me. Before, he was satisfied to spend time with just me and the other guys. Now, he talks about girls.

I bet you're wondering, What do you two have in common, anyway? A lot, actually. We both hate his father, and we talk about fathers a lot, and how we're going to be different than our fathers when we have kids of our own. We talk about school, about sisters, music, movies and TV. Last, but not least, we just like each other. I guess that helps us get over our differences.

Before the show began, the scoutmaster's little boy climbed into his lap. "Watch out, Jason. That boy next to us will want to sit in his father's lap."

Paul and I grinned at each other.

"Good evening and welcome to the ISU Planetarium." The speaker looked like a graduate student. "I'm your host, David Letterman." The audience laughed.

Oh, great, I thought. A comedian.

"Tonight's program is 'A Journey to the Planets.' And I'd like to extend a special welcome to Boy Scout Troop 177 from Ellsworth, Illinois. You guys just about are the entire population of Ellsworth, aren't you?"

They laughed.

"Before we begin, I'd like to clear up some misconceptions. Mars is not a candy bar and Saturn is not a car. And let's get all the laughs about Uranus out right now." He pointed the microphone toward the audience.

"It's funny," he admitted. "Whether you pronounce it Your Anus or Urine Us, either way, it's amusing. But if you laugh during the program, the machinery just might break down. It's old and very sensitive to laughter. Ok, so this is your opportunity to get the laughs out of the way, now."

He allowed all the immature little scouts laugh and poke each other in the ribs. I was too concerned about looking cool in front of Paul. I looked at him and he grinned back at me.

I whispered to him, "Bad jokes."

He whispered back, "Sounds like a frustrated stand-up comedian."

I snickered and covered my mouth.

From my dad, I knew that they rotated they duty of being host at the planetarium between the director, the assistant director and three graduate students. This guy probably was a graduate student.

"OK, this is why I get paid the big bucks. I switch on the show, and sit back and watch it with you." He flipped on a switch with a flourish. "We'll have questions after the show."

The show, which lasted about a half-hour, started with Mercury and ended with Pluto. It explored some of the history of planetary exploration and also talked about the Explorer and Galileo missions.

Paul very discreetly put his arm around my shoulders. I leaned ever so slightly toward him. I didn't want to make it seem like I wanted to jump his bones, but on the other hand it felt good to be close to him. Maybe I should crawl in his lap, I thought for a split second. Then, I decided against it.

I was looking at his thighs again. I noticed for the first time that he does have hair on his thighs. It just looks like he doesn't because the hair on his legs is so light-colored, I thought it had been shaved at first.

The show ended, and the lights came back up slowly. "Any questions?"

One of the Boy Scouts raised his hand. "When do you think the first mission to Mars will be?"

"Let's go," Josh whispered to Paul. I was going to protest, but Paul agreed.

"I have to go to the bathroom, anyway," he said to me.

We got up quietly and left the planetarium. The nearest bathroom in Felmley Hall was locked. "Damn," Paul muttered.

We tried another down the hall, and it was locked, too. Paul snapped his fingers. "I know one that's open all the time." He led us out the door that led to the quad. We walked at a brisk pace past Hovey Hall, which is the administration building, to Media Services. Media Services was an ugly building that Paul told us used to be the student union. Now, it was home to the campus radio station, among other things. The new student union is located in - you guessed it - the Bone Student Center.

On a short staircase, we went down to the ground level. Under the main stairs, he opened a door that squeaked when Paul pulled it open. I think I heard shuffling when he did.

A wall divided the bathroom and it smelled like a locker room. There was also another smell I couldn't identify. To the left were three sinks and a mirror. On the other side of the wall were three urinals opposite three stalls without doors. Two of the stalls were occupied. They were both leaning forward with their elbows on their knees.

I caught quick glimpses of them without being obvious. Hey, I know I don't like it when someone watches me take a crap. One looked like a college student. In fact, he was wearing an ISU T-shirt and a red baseball cap backwards. The other guy was a little bit older, maybe as old as my dad was. He wasn't as good-looking, either.

I took the urinal in the middle, and I got sort of pee-shy. I mean, I'm not used to peeing with an audience of four watching me. I did get a glimpse of both Paul and Josh. Josh, I guess, didn't have to pee, because he tucked himself back in and crashed out of the bathroom.

"I'll wait for you guys outside," he said as he left. He didn't even wash his hands, which is GROSS!

A second later, Paul finished and walked around the wall. I heard water run in the sink as he started to wash his hands. I turned to leave, and caught a glimpse of the college student in the stall. As if in slow motion he smiled and started to sit up. He leaned back and revealed a stiff cock. Damn! Maybe my memory is starting to go already, but it looked like it was halfway up to his nipples. I mean, it looked HUGE! My heart started to beat fast! He looked at me, looked down at his dick, and looked at me again and licked his lips. What's that supposed to mean?

The squeaky door told me Paul left the bathroom, too. My mouth was dry; my heart was beating like a drum machine. Shit! I wanted to touch it! I did! I started to breathe faster. Should I do it! Oh, God, oh please help me. I want it so bad! I felt my face get red and hot. Shit, damn. I stretched out my hand. It was shaking and trembling. He smiled at me and nodded ever so slightly. He pulled up his shirt higher, and I could see that one of his nipples was pierced. That looks so fucking hot. I want to touch his cock so bad. The older guy was watching us through the hole between the stalls. I could see his eyeball.

"That's right," he whispered. "Touch it."

My hand closed the distance millimeter by millimeter. The tips of my middle fingers almost touched the head of his cock.

Just then, I heard the bathroom door squeak. "Hey, Joe, we're waiting for you."

"I'm coming."

The college student had a leer on his face. "Not yet. You're not cumming yet," he whispered. "But you will be."

I ran out of the bathroom without washing my hands.

"What's wrong with you?" Josh asked. "You look like you saw a ghost."

"Nothing," I mumbled, but I gave Paul a look.

All the way home, I was quiet. I was sort of angry at Paul. Josh had to go home, so he wasn't spending the night. I was just about to get away from Paul, when he pulled me aside.

"What's wrong, Joe?" We were standing on the back stoop, and it was dark. I was glad he couldn't see my face.

"Nothing," I answered him. I wanted to ask him: Why did you take us there? There are other buildings that are just as close, and they were probably open, too, like the library and the Student Center. Did you know someone would be there? Do you know about me? Do you want something to happen between us? What are you trying to tell me?

"Are you mad at me?"

"No," I lied. But I was mad. I felt like he had used me, but exactly how he was using me I couldn't explain at the time.

"OK, buddy. Just checking." He paused. "I had a good time."

"So did I. Thanks for taking us."

"No problem. See you tomorrow."

Maybe, I thought.

It rained all day Saturday. Mom had to work and she left me in charge. Carrie had one of her stupid friends over, and I just stayed in my room. It was a perfect day to read the book that I had taken out of the library. My hands started to get cold and I got more and more excited reading the book.

The book was about Alex and how he realizes he is gay. Through the story, he tries to figure out how to tell the people in his life, including his parents and his best friend. Just before the story got to the part where Alex is going to tell his best friend, the phone rang.

"I'll get it," Cindy yelled.

"No, I'll get it," I said. "Mom left me in charge."

She picked up the phone anyway and stuck her tongue out. I wanted to bash her little face in.

"Oh, hi, Daddy. I'm good, but Joe is being mean to me."

"I am not," I shouted loud enough for him to hear.

"Yes he is. He always is." She listened for a moment, then handed the phone to me. "He wants to talk to you."

"What is this about being mean to Cindy?" he demanded.

"I'm not, dad, honest. She's a liar. I just told her mom left me in charge while she was at work, and I should answer the phone."

"Joe, you are the oldest, and I expect you to set an example." I've heard this so many times, it's like attending a lecture series.

"But, dad…."

He cut me off. "Any more reports about you fighting with your sisters, and you won't be able to come up to Wisconsin. Period. And that would be a shame because your mom has been telling me how well you've been doing in summer school."

"Yeah, it's easier the second time around."

"OK, I'm glad to hear that. I knew you could do it." He paused. "Look, just between us, I know Cindy can be a royal pain in the butt. If you repeat this to anyone, I'll just deny it."

I laughed.

"Just stay away from her. That's the best way to go. Play with Josh. Mom said that the tenant upstairs is kind of like a Big Brother for you. What's his name?"

"Paul. Yeah, he's taken me and Josh a couple places." I wasn't about to tell him about the bathroom he took us to yesterday.

"Good, Joe. I'm glad to hear that. There's a few other things that I need to tell you about. First, and this is not official yet, but the University of Chicago has offered me a position at the observatory in Lake Geneva."


"I'm not positive I have the job yet, so please don't say anything to your mom until it's final."

"You won't live in Chicago, anymore, will you?"

"No, I'll move to Lake Geneva full-time."

"What about Tad?"

"Well, if it's any of your business, which it really isn't, he's moving there, too."

"Oh." It was bad enough that my dad was moving further away from me. That meant I would see him even less than I see him now. "What's the other thing you wanted to tell me?"

"Tad's younger brother will there. He's had a very rough time. We both will need your help."

"How can I help?"

"Just by being friendly to him. He needs lots of care."

"Of course, dad. I'm always friendly to most people." Except stupid, bratty little sisters. "Is he so hard to get along with? By the way, what's his name again?"

"Dennis. He's fourteen like you are. Well, I'm not sure how much to tell you."

"Dad, I can handle it. Besides, who am I going to tell?"

I heard him take a long breath in. "He's just getting out of a hospital, or he will be, just after the Fourth of July. Tad has temporary custody. He was abused by his father and another brother. He ran away several times and finally DCFS took him out of the home. I know you are a sensitive young man, and you will handle it with tact and patience."

Me? Sensitive? "I'm sure I can handle it."

"Atta boy. I guess it's important to remember that there are always people out there who are worse off than we are." He sighed again. "Well, I guess I should say hi to Carrie. Why don't you put her on?"

There was no need to call her; she was right by the phone. I made a face at her, and handed her the phone.

Back in my room, I finished The Truth About Alex. I cried the whole chapter when he tells his best friend. The best friend backs away from him for a while, then tells Alex that he's still his best friend. I had to sneak to the bathroom to get something to blow my nose. I didn't want my sisters to see me crying. The book really got to me, because I wanted to tell Josh so bad, but didn't know how to do it.

As soon as Mom got home later that afternoon, she started in on me about how I treated Cindy.

I used my most patient voice, because I knew that if I started yelling, I would lose. "Mom, you haven't even heard my side of the story," I said in my most even voice.

"I don't need to. I know how it has happened in the past."

"That's not fair at all, Mom. I didn't do anything to her."

"That's enough out of you," she said, her voice rising.

I started out the back door.

"Where are you going?"

"To Aunt Lynda's." At least she would listen to my side of the story.

"Don't stay too long or too late."

"Yeah, whatever," I mumbled under my breath.

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, Paternal Instincts, in the College section.

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