Star Light, Star Bright

Part 1

 

Part One

 

My first day of eighth grade was like my first day of seventh grade. Ride the bus to school, always a little harrowing. Smile at all the familiar faces, each now a year older, but apparently no wiser. Talk to a few of them that had managed to get on a first name basis with me the year before, though none of which I could really think of as a friend. And then find my homeroom class, and then follow through with each class that came after. It was a routine I knew, and I expected it to be the same as it had been the year before.

And it was, all the way up to fifth period, which was gym class. There was a small classroom by the gym proper, that hardly ever got used except for roll call - attendance, to you. I filed in with a few other boys, found a seat, and waited for the room to fill and the teacher to show. A lot of the guys there I knew from the year before. Maybe half the class. But there were a lot of new faces, some of them interesting, some of them even cute.

I am, by the way, quite gay. I've known who I was for a couple of years now, and I have arrived at the fatalist's viewpoint that there is nothing to be done about it. I'm not even sure I would do something about it, even if I could. I like boys, and the idea of somehow switching that perspective to seeing girls as my choice for primary companionship is just beyond me. What appeals to you is not a choice. The female mind works on a different plane from the male mind, and the female anatomy is just not as interesting to my eye as is the male anatomy. Girls are nice, and they have their place; but they lack the wonderful attraction that somehow makes boys special. Boys are often beautiful and appealing, in a mysterious way that girls just cannot match.

No, I am gay to stay.

Eighth  grade, the very first day. Everything is going according to plan, right up until the moment I sat down in the gym classroom for attendance to be taken. Guys are coming in, singly and in groups, and I'm only paying half a mind to it all.

Until he came into the room. A face I had never seen before, not familiar in any way. Not stunning, not beautiful beyond belief - just nice. Brown hair, blue eyes, just like me. Likeable features, clear, intelligent eyes. He was maybe an inch or so taller than me, his hair was cut a lot like mine, and he was, actually, kind of average-looking. Also like me.

Until he smiled. He did that, as someone already seated poked a finger at him as he was going by, causing him to laugh and dance away. In that single, small second, I fell in love. Or lust. I didn't know enough at that point to differentiate the two, and a small voice within my head said we could determine the actual result later, and not to worry about it now. Not that I could have, anyway.

I felt my body freeze up as I tried to look at this boy without openly staring. He found a seat, continued to grin at the guy that had poked at him. I continued to watch, shuffling my books in front of me so as to not be obvious about it.

He apparently knew the boy who had poked at him, and that guy now leaned over and whispered something at the new boy - at the boy I was watching. Once again his face broke into a smile, and he laughed, and I thought I would melt and flow out of my chair to the floor.

When he smiled...when he laughed...he was beautiful.

I've read about love. It usually comes on slowly, and builds, and has time for the person that is doing the loving to both accept it and understand it a little. That's why they call it falling in love. You never start to take a tumble, and then arrive upon the floor without the passage of time. There is always that small interval between the loss of balance and striking the floor, when you realize what is happening, and at least get to yell, "Oh, shit!"

But that did not happen here. Quite suddenly, I was spread-eagle upon the floor, with no idea how I had gotten there. Even gravity is not that quick. But maybe love is? Or lust?

I love my parents, but even I cannot recall if that was true the first day I came into the world. The concept of love had to wait a brief period, while my cognitive skills developed into something that could approach order, and my language skills into something that could speak of love.

I've had a definition of love all along, I suppose, although it was untested outside of the type of love I had for my parents. And that love is non-sexual in nature, which, oddly enough, makes it a benchmark for the real thing.  Love needs to be separated from lust, which is less intellectual in nature, less emotional, and which seems to derive from whispered comments made to one's brain from one's gonads. So I sat there a moment longer, trying to determine if this was actually love I was feeling, or just some very blatant hoots and hollers from my testicles announcing that the target was now in sight.

If this new boy simply spoke to me, and smiled at me, would this be enough? Or, would I feel the need to jump into his jeans with him, and feel the warmth of his bare flesh against mine?

Oh. Maybe I shouldn't have put it that way. I instantly felt an erection occurring within my own jeans, and took that as proof that I did feel some lust for this guy. Oh...yes. The very idea of my skin against his was unbelievably thrilling! What would it be like to kiss him? Touch his hair? Close my eyes and rub my face against his...?

"Griffin Ballard?"

What? I focused, and realized that the teacher, Coach Edwards, had not only come in and sat himself at the barren desk at the front of the room, but also was reading down a list of names on a clipboard he held before him.

He was gazing about the room expectantly...and then in annoyance.

That was my name!

I stuck my hand up, but just nodded, because my tongue was still wrapped around my teeth with thoughts of the new boy. My eyes were still on him, surreptitiously is the word, and I was trying to see the coach and nod my head and act normal while my eyes were caressing this boy's cheek and my heart was swimming around in my shoes.

Coach Edwards frowned at me, which immediately clued me in to the fact that I was not acting in the accepted manner for roll call. "Do you have a voice, Mr. Ballard?"

"Yedthirt," I managed, around that stupid, obsessed tongue.

Some of the other guys snickered at me, and I worked some spit into my mouth and swallowed. "Sorry. Yes, sir."

"Are you feeling okay, son?"

Again, the snickering.

"Yes, sir. My mouth was just really dry there for a moment."

Coach Edwards looked at the class and gave a small, professional smile. "I require a verbal acknowledgement when I call roll, so anyone with a dry mouth, please stop at the water fountain on the way in. Is that clear to everyone?" His eyes came back to me for a moment, and I nodded and mumbled yessir just like everyone else.

And then I went back to watching the new boy, because by then I really wanted to know his name.

Names have power, you know. If you see a pretty face in public somewhere, one that touches your heart, but that person just goes on by, into and back out of your existence all at one time, all you can ever think of him as is "that cute guy at the mall". Or, maybe more fondly, as "mallboy". Even that has no personal touch to it, not like knowing someone's name. Know their name, and you own a very small, very personal part of them, something you can remember that instant of contact by, which is better than nothing at all.

So I watched, and listened, as Coach Edwards went down his class list.

"Benny Cooper?"

The new boy, the cute and sweet and beautiful boy that now had my heart - or my nuts -  in his hand, nodded and raised his hand. "Here."

Benny Cooper.

So now I knew. I was in love with a guy named Benny Cooper. Um, or lust. Final determination to be made later.

I hadn't noticed him in any of my other classes, and I sure would have remembered. And he turned out not to be in any of my other classes the rest of the day, just one of those things that can happen in the odd world of student scheduling. But it was still disappointing in the extreme. Were it not for gym, I would not have the pleasure of being around Benny at all!

So gym class became my new favorite class, even though I was not really a gym kind of guy. A couple of weeks went by, and I managed to be around Benny enough to see his face, his smile, and to hear the sound of his voice. I was a little upset by my inability to talk to him, though. Normally, I was very good with people. But somehow, all I could do was watch Benny, admire him, desire him...and remain quiet about all of it. Like if I said something to him, something would break, come apart, or otherwise ruin my place in the cheering section of Benny Cooper's life.

Our eyes touched a few times, just in passing, and he always seemed to smile. I would smile back, unable not to, but also unable to do more. Like something inside me had frozen at the first sight of this boy, and showed no sign of thawing out as time went by. Gym class afforded me more than an occasional eyeful of "my Benny", as I had come to think of him. I thought I would die the first time we went shirts and skins for basketball, and Benny wound up in his skin. I could see the muscles move under his skin as he ran and jumped, and laughed and smiled. He was gorgeous all over, and because he was not bashful about his body, I soon got to see even more of him in the locker room each day.

The class was about evenly divided between guys that showered after class and guys that didn't. It wasn't required, and a lot of guys just didn't want to do it. I was one of those guys, until I found out that Benny was one of the ones that did shower. He didn't shower at first, but then one day, he did. And so I did, too, because it meant having a legitimate reason to remain in the locker room after class and observe. By some miracle of fate, his locker was in my row, just three doors down from me, and so then I got to see him without his clothes just about every day.

And that created new problems for me.

Just looking at Benny was enough to make me dreamy. On the odd occasion when he would look up and we'd touch eyes, he would smile - just a polite thing to do when something like that happens - and I would get weak in the knees. But when he would sit on the bench just six feet away from me and start undressing, I was alarmed to find that I was getting an erection - um, a boner. I'd try not to look, but I just couldn't. Even hiding my interest, I'd still get hard.

And that would usually lead to trouble.

I can't help it. My penis knows my secret heart. Nature apparently built that item into us, from the first day, so that one human being could be peeling an apple while reading War and Peace, and still be able to let another human being know that they wanted to get horny-dog with them, without ever saying a word. Boner's are nature's flagpoles, and brother, when you run something up one, people take notice!

In the locker room, if you are careless enough to display one, most guys just grin, maybe, or look the other way, or pretend not to notice. I would try to keep mine covered when Benny was near, which just wasn't all that easy. Most guys showered in their underwear, and wrapped a towel around themselves when they were done. A lot of guys returned to their lockers, pulled their underwear off from beneath their towels, patted themselves dry, and then pulled a clean pair of underwear up under the towel. You didn't see much that way.

Others simply came back, sat down, pulled the towel off, then their underwear, and then dried themselves in full view. No fear whatsoever. Benny turned out to be one of those, and it created an instant problem for me.

Not just a little wood, but a full-fledged hard-on, one that stood straight out from my body, and which no towel in existence couldn't somehow manage to show off to everyone.

The only thing that saved me was that I wasn't the only guy to ever get hard. There were others, most of whom were just as panicked about it as I was. Especially as boners are contagious: one guy sees another guy with one, and there he goes! So like I say, most guys just pretended not to notice. There are always a few, though, that not only notice, but let you know that they have, too, and loudly.

That would be Gary Spain. Gary is my arch enemy, the Joker to my Batman. His locker is in the next row over, but he has a friend, Jerry Creed, whose locker is in our row, and Gary always seems to be hanging about, wrapped in a towel, talking to Jerry and watching me, so that he can give me hell if he sees something he thinks is funny.

Like today.

"Hah! Look at Griffin! He's got a pooch between his legs! Wiener dog! Wiener dog!"

That was Gary, god's gift to ignorance.

I put my gym shorts in my lap to cover my boner and just ignored him. It wasn't the first time he'd pointed me out, and wouldn't be the last, I was sure. Everybody else sitting around just ignored him, too, because no one wanted Gary's attention to shift to them. That's the thing about most hecklers - any target will do.

My wood just seemed to get harder for having been noticed. Damn that thing! What good is having the world's best secret in your head, when you have a dumb sign hanging around your neck - or your crotch, rather - that says, in big red letters, "I've got the hots for Benny Cooper!"

It would be different, if Benny was a girl. You get caught mooning over the opposite sex, everybody wants in. They smile. Guys will punch you on the shoulder and grin, and wink, and ask you if you've tagged that yet. Like you're joining a club where everybody says they have, but none of them really have at all. And adults love it when two young people are in love, because it reminds them of when they were young. If the two people in love are a boy and a girl, that is.

But Benny is a guy, thirteen like me, and totally unaware that I am in love with him. Or lust. Even when we're in gym class, and my flag is up the pole, and waving in the breeze with a big smile on its face.

"Grow up!" I finally said, disgustedly, after Gary continued to leer at me, trying to cover my embarrassment with the very real irritation I had at being discovered again. "What are you doing watching my wanker, anyway?"

"It's not like you can hide that thing, sticking out like that," Gary went on, a big grin on his freckled face. He had red hair, and red eyelashes around his green eyes, which made him look slightly like an alien in a Luc Besson science fiction movie. "All I can say is that it shouldn't be doing what it's doing with nothing but guys around!"

I became aware that Benny, who had the locker three down from mine, had taken the towel he was drying himself with and laid it across his thighs. Up until now, he had minded his own business when Gary went off at me. But this time, he was frowning, his eyes following the conversation back and forth between me and Gary.

"Hey, Spain," he suddenly said. "Why don't you go jerk off in the towel closet again, and leave this guy alone?"

I felt my eyes bug out at that, and my mouth drop open.

Gary's eyes also got big, and his face got very, very red. As red as his hair, even. "What?"

"
You heard me," Benny said quietly. "Or maybe you didn't. I can say it louder. A lot louder, if you like."

Gary's face clouded instantly. "Who the hell do you think you are?"

Benny suddenly looked very serious. "I'm the guy that's going to tell the whole damn school about you getting caught wanking in the towel closet, if you don't shut your mouth and go away." He suddenly smiled. "Your locker is in the next row, isn't it? You shouldn't be over here spying on Griffin's peter, anyway, no matter how much you want it. This is a no-homo zone, dude, and you're polluting the atmosphere with all this dick-talk."

Jerry Creed laughed out loud, looking like he thought it was all a joke. But Gary sputtered, looked embarrassed first and scared second, and then went away without another word. That told me that he really had been caught wanking in the towel closet. But...how could Benny know?

Jerry Creed shook his head, looking surprised, finished tying his shoes, closed his locker, and took off after Gary. Now it was just Benny and I, alone.

I was embarrassed about my wood, and embarrassed that the invisible barrier between Benny and I had so suddenly been taken down. I was used to that barrier, behind which I hid in plain sight and watched him, and adored him, and/or lusted after his super fine body, actual result to be determined later. All this, while he didn't notice me at all.

But he was noticing me now.

Benny grinned at Gary's retreating back, and then slid closer, his bare butt cheeks making cute little squeaky noises on the polished wood of the bench. Oh, I thought I'd die!

"That guy's a dickhead. I'm surprised you haven't messed him up yet."

I momentarily froze, aware that Benny was naked under the towel draped across his lap, and the fact that he was closer to me now than he had ever been before. And that I was naked under what I had in my lap. We were naked together!

Benny watched me quietly. He had just the clearest blue eyes, too. They simply oozed a bright inquisitiveness that made my dick even harder, and I pushed down gently on my gym shorts, afraid that if I didn't, my pud would stand straight up and then we'd both be aware that I had the hots for Benny.

"Yeah, he is a prick," I finally forced out, reaching back for my own towel. My hair was still wet from the shower, and I figured if I dried it one more time I could then lay the towel in my lap for some extra protection.

"I was kidding about that no-homo zone," Benny whispered then, smiling. "I just wanted that asshole to go away. No offense, okay?"

I froze up all over again. What was he saying?

"I'm Ben Cooper," he said then, sticking out a hand.

I looked at it, Benny's hand, wanting to touch mine. Even if my head was frozen, my hand wasn't. It stuck out, grabbed his, and shook.

It was kind of like when you shuffle across a wool rug in the dead of winter and then touch something metal that's grounded. My hand crackled with sparks at his touch, but I simply couldn't let go until he did.

"Griffin Ballard," I managed. "I thought your name was 'Benny'?"

I just said it, without thinking. I'd heard Coach Edwards call him by that name since the first day of gym.

He laughed. "Just Mr. Edwards calls me that. He and my dad go to the same gym." He waved a hand at the world. "You know - an out there gym." He leaned forward and lowered his voice. "That's how I know about Spain getting caught wanking in the towel closet."

I couldn't help it, I grinned. In all my imaginings about the first time I talked to Benny, I'd never quite imagined this. Us sitting naked, two feet apart, talking about Gary Spain beating his meat in the towel closet. I laughed. "That really happened?"

"Damn straight. Mr. Edwards opened the door and caught him dead to rights, right in mid-pull."

The look on Benny's face was wonderfully amused, and I couldn't help laughing. Too hard, maybe, but I couldn't help it. I was talking to Benny!

He looked quickly around, and then nodded at me. "He likes you, you know."

I stared at him a moment, not quite getting it. "Who? Gary?"

Benny seemed surprised at my reaction. "Well...yeah. Why do you think he's always over here watching you?"

I couldn't help but to frown. "I thought he hated me, and just wanted to make every day of my life miserable."

Benny laughed. His eyes reflected the light from the fluorescents hanging overhead, just all these wonderful little sparkles that made my heart pound like mad.

"Nah. He's got the hots for you, dude."

I felt my face get warm. Gary liked me? "How do you know that?"

"You didn't know?" Benny watched me, and I had the weirdest feeling that this guy somehow knew some things I didn't.

I shook my head. "No. And I kind of wish I still didn't know."

He laughed again. And then he did it: he reached over and pressed his fingertips into my upper arm. There was something close and personal about that, not something a stranger would do. "Oh, come on. How could you miss it?"

"I didn't know," I said again, still feeling his touch on my skin. "He makes me miserable. I never saw that as a positive form of contact."

Benny blinked, and cocked his head at me, maybe at the way I'd just said what I'd said. "Wow. I just thought he wasn't your type or something."

Again I felt stunned. Benny was acting as if he knew I was gay!

For just a moment all the sweet things I felt for this guy went on hold. He had just walked up to what I considered my most closely held defenses, and calmly took a swing at them.

I felt my eyes narrow all on their own. "What are you trying to say?"

I couldn't help it, but the tone of my voice sounded threatening, even to me. It must not have been the reaction he was expecting. Suddenly, a nervous note crept into his eyes, and I could almost feel him backing away. "I'm sorry. Maybe I made a mistake."

And then he did back away. No sliding his butt cheeks this time. He stood, and walked back to his locker. Even the cute shot of his butt I got didn't seem to filter through my sudden bout of confusion.

In that instant, I felt like the world had just fallen down around me. What had I done wrong?

But...I already knew. Intuition, backed up with unusually slow reasoning on my part, had finally arrived in my forebrain.

I had just been approached about the possibility of being gay, and had basically denied it outright. It was purely a reflexive move on my part, the first time that I had ever even suspected that anyone might know I liked guys. It had been a shock, and I had reacted without thinking. Reacted wrongly.

Benny cast a quick look my way, and it seemed somehow filled with disappointment. At that moment, I think something in my heart broke.

I stood, went to him, and sat down next to him. "I'm sorry," I said immediately.

He had gone back to drying himself, and had lifted the towel from his lap. I had a clear look at his penis, which was just as beautiful as could be. And...wonder of wonders, it did not look like it was completely flaccid, either!

But it was just a glimpse, and then he put the towel back down. His eyes widened a little, and I realized then that he had seen me checking out his crotch. I watched him, waiting to see what would happen next.

He smiled at me. "I heard you were kind of an Einstein or something. Is that true?"

Again, I was astonished. For the first time ever I was faced with the idea that maybe I had been fooling myself on the effectiveness of my disguise. I mean, I try not to broadcast the fact that I have a little more going on upstairs than a lot of kids my age, but dumbing down is a conscious act. What about all the unconscious things I did? Was I somehow showing more to others than I had ever dreamed?

"No," I said, trying not to grin. "I just like to read."

That much was true. Most of what I knew had entered my skull through my eyes.

He leaned forward. "I also heard you were interested in astronomy."

It wasn't a question, so much. "Yes." I was, and had to agree to that one. And now I wondered how that bit of knowledge about me had gotten around. The only time...oh, wait. Jennie Bailey and Kat Hunter had seen me in the park last week with my telescope, skywatching. But...they had just been walking by, and hadn't even said hello. Had that little bit been enough to start a rumor?

Man! Don't people have anything better to do than talk about others?

Benny sat back, his smile expanding. "Well, so am I." He looked around the locker room, and waved a hand. "That makes two of us, in this whole gym. I've waited a long time to find someone to talk to about that kind of stuff."

I felt something go through my body that I just knew had to be a thrill. Unless you've ever experienced one, it cannot be explained. Up until that point, I had never been thrilled. Not like that anyway.

I cleared my throat and moved my tongue around inside my mouth. It was trying to get dry in there again, and I wasn't having that just now. "Well, would you like to get together after school to talk? We could...um, we could go by my house, and you can see my telescope."

Benny watched me, his eyes moving back and forth as he seemed to be studying my face for hidden pitfalls. I suddenly realized I was not so good at this as I had thought. I tend to think I have a handle on everything, and I am always surprised when I see I don't. My dad once warned me that my observance of my surroundings was somewhat narrow at times, especially when it came to people. Discounting the intelligence of my physical age group has always been a problem for me. Preconceptions are a killer for a reasoning thinker.

"I promise I won't bite," I added, hopefully.

It made him smile. "Okay." He picked up his towel from his lap, watching my face, and I suddenly realized he was deliberately showing himself to me. I couldn't stop my eyes from glancing down, and I could see then that his penis had become harder. Benny was getting an erection!

I don't know what made me do it. But I picked up the stuff in my lap, and let Benny see my penis. It wasn't hard for him to spot...or rather, it most certainly was. When I get erect, my penis stands straight out.

His eyes flicked down, and his cheeks reddened just the tiniest bit. But he didn't look away, and he didn't look upset with me. I came to the conclusion that Benny liked having a look at my equipment, and that, wonder of wonders, I was having my first legitimate homosexual encounter. And it felt...pretty wonderful. There's probably a better word for it, but I just couldn't think of it at that moment.

For a full minute or so, neither of us said a word. We each dried ourselves, and I watched Benny watch my penis, and I also watched Benny's penis rapidly getting harder as he watched. He also had a beautiful set of nuts. Not too big, not too small. Just right. It made me wonder what he thought of my testicles, as we were roughly the same size and coloration. Did he like my junk?

I was certain, then, that what we were doing had about as much to do with astronomy as a box of cat litter had to do with French cuisine.

I licked my lips then, not wanting the moment to end, but afraid that Jerry would return, or someone else would see us eyeballing each other's dongs.

"We should get dressed," I said, quietly.

He nodded, lifting his eyes to meet mine. "Um, yeah. We can talk more about this later."

To any listener it sounded like he meant talk about astronomy later. But somehow I knew - and I knew that Benny knew - we were talking about the attraction it now seemed apparent that we seemed to be feeling for each other.

I nodded, feeling a little numb, and a little elated, and just a little unreal, and got up and went back to sit in front of my locker. As I sat I quickly glanced back at Benny, and caught his look, and realized he had been examining my bare butt as I walked away.

I was sure then, that I was not the only gay guy present at that moment.

Love, or lust?

Maybe that's what we would find out about, later.


* * * * * * *


We met out in front of the school at the end of the day. Benny did not ride my bus, but it turned out that he lived fairly close to me, anyway. The park where I sometimes used my telescope was about exactly between us, which meant our houses were in easy walking distance of each other. That made getting together later easy to work out.

Benny could not just hop aboard my bus, nor I his. There were rules, and for someone to ride a bus other than their regular one, there needed to be something set up beforehand. My bus driver, Mr. Confort, was not the sort to let a strange kid ride his bus without a note from a parent with a phone number attached. But, as it turned out, it was not necessary.

"It takes me maybe five minutes to walk to the park," Benny said, nodding. "When I get home, I'll change, and meet you there, okay?"

"That sounds amenable to me," I returned, and then grimaced. "I mean, uh, cool."

He tossed a laugh at me, but there wasn't a mean bone in its body. "You sure got a way about you, Griff."

I felt my eyes widen at this new and personal interpretation of my name. "Okay...Benny."

He made a small face. "I told you, only Mr. Edwards calls me that."

"And now me," I returned, grinning.

He watched me a moment, then smiled when he saw I was serious. He nodded, and turned to head for his bus. "See you in about a half hour. Meet you by the baseball field, okay?"

I smiled and nodded, feeling little tingly pulses at the idea, and turned to get onto my bus.

The trip home was kind of a blur. I had not only spoken to the boy of my dreams, but I now strongly suspected that he was both gay and interested in me. Me! The pure beauty of the idea warred with the ultimate strangeness of it. Was this really how relationships were formed? Was this how love happened, and progressed, and became a special thing between two people?

I already knew I liked Benny, besides the love/lust - to be determined later - thing that had already been going on up until now. I found I could close my eyes and see him in my mind, sitting there on the bench in the school locker room, his towel lifted, his penis visible, and his eyes watching me to see how I was taking it. Benny had showed me his junk, to use the native term, and had done so deliberately. Was it an offering? Or a tease?

Or, maybe a bit of both? I knew one thing: I wanted to find out. That I was prepared to offer my body to Benny if he offered his, was just this absolute surprise to me. I had envisioned such a thing, but the actuality of the way it felt in my mind was still a little shocking. I had never felt such a strong impulse to touch and be touched by another person, ever.

I got off at my stop, stumbled down the block to the house. My parents are chemists, and commute to the city each day. They would not be home for several hours. I left a note on the kitchen table telling them where I was going, just in case they got home before me. And then I ran up the stairs to my room.

October is the glory month, for many reasons. Fall sets in hard, the leaves become brilliantly ablaze with color and began to fall in earnest, and the sky is full of things to see and marvel at. I had already viewed Neptune at opposition, during its closest approach to Earth, back in September, and Mercury at its greatest western elongation, when it is at its highest point above the horizon. The Equinox had come and gone, and now we were entering a period of great sky activity, which would last through the Christmas season.

The perfect time of year to be skywatching with a new friend.

And, the weather had been cooperating this year, an Indian Summer languishing about, leaving it warm enough most days for shorts and a tee-shirt. The evenings were chilly, maybe, but that offered up the possibility of some snuggling with a certain someone beneath a darkened and never judgmental sky. I felt light-headed at that thought of it!

Tonight held a full moon, the Hunter's Moon, the Blood Moon. It was also the night before the start of the Draconids meteor shower, kind of an unfortunate coincidence, because the bright moon would diminish the shower greatly, and it was already a minor shower to begin with. But...would I really be focused on the sky, anyway?

I changed into shorts and a dark tee-shirt, winked at my telescope standing on its tripod in the corner. You, and me, and Benny. It's a date!

I grabbed my door key and hung it around my neck, and headed downstairs and out, locking the front door. The afternoon sunshine looked brighter than usual, the sky bluer, and the world just better in general. A warm breeze washed over me as I headed down the street for the park, and I don't think I had ever felt more anxious - or expectant - in my life.

It was a five-minute walk, and as soon as the great open area that held the baseball diamond came into view I stepped up my pace to a jog. I wanted to see Benny again - I needed to see Benny again. That everything that had happened earlier was some kind of imaginative dream seemed unlikely, but the sense of unreality I was feeling just then at the idea of Benny and I getting closer was distressing.

I need not have worried. Even as I drew up by the backstop, there was Benny, leaning against the chain link insert, one foot drawn up on the rail that ran around its base. He was wearing shorts and a tank top, and he looked just gorgeous to my eyes. I bounced up to him, grinning, and his eyes lit up as he saw me.

"There you are."

I nodded. "Been here long?"

"Nope. I just got here. Maybe two minutes." He grinned. "You're punctual, anyway."

I laughed. "Well, I really wanted to get here. I mean, you know, so that we can talk about astronomy."

He pushed away from the backstop and came towards me, and put an arm around my shoulders and turned me around. "Let's walk back towards your house and talk on the way."

I wanted to giggle at that, I felt so stupid just then. "Any reason we're going to my house?"

"You said you had a telescope, right?"

I nodded, and he pulled his arm away and we walked along silently a moment. Finally, he sighed. "Um, what kind of scope is it?"

I blinked, because for just a second I couldn't remember! Oh...there it was!

"Um, it's a Celestron. An eight-inch Schmidt-Cassegrain."

Benny stopped suddenly, and when I turned to look at him, he was staring. "No shit?"

I nodded. "No shit."

He blew out a little burst of air. "Wow! I've seen them online, but I never...they cost a fortune!"

I shrugged. "It's my dad's and mine, although I'm the one that uses it the most." I grinned. "I have a thing for planets."

Benny smiled, and started walking again. "Wow. I have a little refractor, and it's great for looking at the moon, and planets like Saturn." He moved closer. "You see any of the outer planets with yours?"

"Yes. I just observed Neptune the other evening, when it was at opposition."

Benny squinted. "That's when it's nearest to us?"

"Right. I imaged it, if you'd like to see the pictures."

He stopped again. "You can take pictures through your scope?"

I knew that smaller telescopes, and especially if they were refractors, were not usually equipped to do this. "Sure. We have an Orion StarShoot."

Benny laughed. "I don't know what that is, but I'll bet it's cool."

I felt a warm glow inside, that I had something of interest to offer to Benny. "You have an image prism for your refractor?"

"Uh-huh. Otherwise everything is upside-down."

"Yeah, well, Schmidt-Cassegrains are catadioptric, meaning they use both refraction and reflection to obtain their images, and they require image correction, too. We have an image erector prism for normal viewing, but we mostly use an imager and look at things on a laptop. Our scope has a Nextstar computer, which uses GPS to find where it is located on the surface of the Earth. You enter the heavenly object you wish to observe, and the scope finds it in the sky for you."

"That sounds so cool!" Benny gushed, and I could sense his excitement.

I slowed, watching him. "Come over one night, and we can look at the sky together."

His eyes sparkled at me. "Okay."

We went on, quiet for the moment, just enjoying the day, and the walk. And the company.

Again, I was struck by the strangeness of how everything felt. It had been just amazingly fast, going from worshipping Benny from afar to knowing him and being with him. Just like that, it seemed. I still couldn't quite believe I was walking with him now.  It really was an example of a dream coming true.

"I've wanted to meet you for a while," I suddenly blurted...and then felt stupid. Now, why had I gone and said that?

But Benny just smiled at me. "I've been noticing you, too."

The way he smiled carried me right out of my embarrassing moment. "Really?"

"Uh huh."

I examined the tips of my shoes as my feet moved beneath me. "Because I'm into astronomy?"

Benny laughed. "I only learned that yesterday. But that was the thing that finally pushed me over, I guess." He shrugged. "I noticed you at first because you...seem interesting."

I looked over, and now Benny seemed to be examining his shoes. Was that just a little bit of embarrassment there?

I reached over and gave him a little push, and he looked up and smiled at me. And then he gave me a little push, and we both laughed, and kept on going.

"I can't believe we live so close together and didn't know it," he said, as we walked up to my house.

"Yeah. If I lived one street closer to you, I'd ride your bus to school."

We scaled the front steps, and I pulled my key from my shirt and stuck it in the lock.

"Who am I going to see?" Benny asked then. "Your mom or your pop?"

"Neither. They both work at the same company in town, and they won't be home until about six."

Benny's eyebrows went up, and he gave the house another look. "We're alone?"

"Yeah. Is that okay?"

He laughed. "Doesn't bother me."

We went inside, and I took him straight up to my room to see the scope. His eyes got big, and he made slightly worshipful sounds as I explained how the mount operated to find and track objects in the sky.

"I'd love to see it work," he finally said, giving me an almost puppy dog look that just melted my heart.

"Can you come over on the nineteenth?" I asked, grinning. "Uranus will be in opposition that night, and there is also a new moon, so it will be dark. We can take the scope out and look at the seventh planet together." I shrugged. "It's mostly a blue-green dot, but at least you can say you saw it."

Benny nodded vigorously. "Count me in. Is that a school night?"

I had already checked, and so I knew the answer. "Yep. It's a Thursday night. Does that matter?"

"No. I just have to be in at eleven on a school night." He gave a small grunt. "And that's not start home at eleven, that's be inside the house at eleven."

I nodded slowly. "That's plenty of time. The viewing will be good all night, as long as the weather cooperates."

He gave me a little smile, and then walked around my room, examining my Mars and moon globes, my little model of the solar system, and the bookcase full of books I had, only a couple of dozen of which pertained to astronomical subjects. The rest were all history, other sciences, and literature. He took in the posters I had of the Martian surface, and the big black and white pic of Richard Feynman, smiling.

"Who's that?"

I rolled a shoulder, explaining that Feynman had been a theoretical physicist, and the mind behind quantum computing and nanotechnology, among many other things. "He was also an influential contributor to the studies of the four forces of nature: the electromagnetic, the weak force, the strong force, and gravity."

Benny stared at me. "You really are a brain, aren't you?"

For just a moment I froze, mostly at the way he was looking at me. I didn't know how to take what he had just said, feeling it almost a put-down of some kind.

It must have shown on my face. He frowned, and came over to me. "I didn't mean it to sound like I was riding you. It's just...you make me feel dumb."

He was just a foot away from me, looking into my eyes, and I could see then he had not meant to insult me. I smiled weakly. "I like to read, and I find everything interesting, and I have a good memory. That's all."

He nodded, still looking at me, and I stood there and looked back. Benny's face was a mystery-mix of emotions, coming and going. His eyes roved over my face, and I could see him working up to something.

"Do you like me?" he asked softly.

My breath caught, and my eyes searched his face again; but all I saw there was openness. Yet what Benny was asking and what he was meaning seemed different, somehow. In that short second I watched him, I understood that what he was really asking was whether or not I needed him. Whether or not I wanted him.

"Yes," I returned, just as softly.

He bit at his lip. "How much?"

I had to laugh at that. "A lot."

He smiled, looking pleased, and nodded. "Me, too. Like you a lot, I mean."

That filled me with warmth, because I got that he was saying he needed me, too. I scratched the side of my head. "Considering that we just met, that's pretty good, huh?"

He sighed, sounding pleased, and sat down on the edge of my bed. "Can I take my shoes off?"

"Sure." I immediately stepped on the heel of one of mine and popped it off, followed by the other. He followed suit, and then I sat down next to him. "What do you want to do?"

He sighed again, and laid back onto my mattress, laying his hands down on either side of his head. He watched me, but didn't say anything. I could not help letting my eyes run over him, seeing what I could of his body outlined through his clothing. It looked to me like he had half an erection already, the crotch of his shorts arched in a fashion that suggested some small bit of stress placed from the inside. He was beautiful, laying there, and I wanted to lay with him.

"I don't know," he finally said, looking up at me. "What do you want to do?"

Brother. I couldn't say what I really wanted to do. I laid down on my side next to him and propped my head up on my hand. I felt my penis coming up, and despite trying to think about other things, Benny was just too close, too achingly appealing, for me to have any other reaction. I thought about crossing my legs, and then decided I would just wait and see what happened.

He noticed pretty quickly, and laughed, and rolled onto his side to face me and propped his head up, too. He fixed his eyes on my crotch, which made my erection stand straight up and press painfully against the inside of my shorts.

I just watched him though, waiting, until...

His shorts, already mildly stressed, now started to tent up in the front. In fact, they came up rapidly, until he and I looked pretty much the same.

"I see some wood," Benny said, sounding playful.

"Me, too," I felt kind of dumb, like we were playing some really childish game...but at the same time, I was just delighted right down to my core.

"You did that in the locker room today," Benny noted, his eyes bright.

"Seems I wasn't the only one," I returned, raising my eyebrows pointedly.

He nodded. "I wonder why that happens?"

I gave a little laugh, because I knew full well why it happened. I could see that Benny was having fun with me. I wanted to have fun, too.

"Well, mine stands up when it sees someone it likes," I dared.

Benny looked surprised, and then delighted. "So it sees someone it likes now?"

"I'll say," I admitted, pulling no punches.

He leaned a little closer. "I think mine see someone it likes, too."

For a long moment we just smiled at each other. I felt my throat getting dry, and my heart pacing along at a gallop. That we were playing a most special game here was apparent to me now.

"What do we do next?" I breathed.

Benny licked his lips, and reached towards me with his free hand, watching my eyes to see how I would react. I just remained still, watching him back. His hand continued forward...and suddenly his fingertips brushed the head of my penis.

Oh! My hips jerked backwards in reflex. I had never been touched there by anyone else, and the feeling was nothing like what it was like when I touched myself. The disconnect to the touch was intense.

Benny grinned at me, and I grinned back. That must have been the signal to proceed, because Benny let his hand drift forward, and he slowly rubbed my penis through the material of my shorts. I closed my eyes and felt that...that most amazing of things. Being touched there, by someone else.

Someone else I loved. Or lusted after, still to be determined.

Benny let his fingers slide down the shaft of my penis, and then they pushed beneath and he gently inspected my testicles, which was just as thrilling to experience. I opened my eyes then, knowing what needed to occur next.

I reached out, and touched the shape of Benny's penis through his shorts. His eyes widened, and he made a small, very sexy noise, that only encouraged me to explore farther. I slid myself closer to him, and began a full-scale exploration of his crotch, while he performed the same for me. It was an exquisite thing, causing the entire middle of my body to throb with an inner joy. Benny's eyes were slitted, and I could hear him breathing quickly. He was aroused, which was incredibly arousing for me to know, and I closed my eyes and tried to slow my heart...but couldn't.

I felt his hand slide up to the waistband of my shorts, and then his fingers were inside...inside my shorts and inside my underwear. His hand pulled down, pulling my shorts down in the front. His fingertips pressed against me, gently exploring the thin patch of my pubes. It was a delicate touch, carrying both interest and a plain desire not to push me too hard or too quickly, to not worry me or make me draw away. Not that I could, or would.

I sighed, and went for the waistband of his shorts, and was soon running my own fingertips through the soft, sparse patch of his pubes. It was excruciatingly personal, the most personal thing I had ever done with another. The idea of suddenly being so close to him, so personal with him, made me want to be even closer to him.

I leaned my head forward, and pressed my cheek against his. He made a small, moaning sound, and then his hand sank down into my underwear, and he was holding my penis in his fingers. I felt a neural surge of intense pleasure shoot up my middle, and gasped. But I immediately responded by pushing my hand further down into his underwear, and finally curled my fingers around the beautiful penis I had seen earlier that day in the locker room at school. I had wanted it then, and I wanted it now, even more so.

We gently rolled our cheeks together, feeling the warmth of each other's faces, while gently feeling and squeezing each other's organs.

And then, Benny began to masturbate me. I gasped again, at the just unbelievably pleasing feel of that act, and moved my hand to respond in kind. We stroked each other, gasping and pushing our faces together, huffing and moaning, and enjoying the hell out of it.

I realized then where this was going, that he was going to bring me to orgasm...and I him. It somehow made me stroke him faster, which made him stroke me faster, and we both huffed and rocked and felt the warm breath of the other upon our faces.

It didn't take long. Benny gave a sweet, small moan, pressed closer to me...and then I felt the warmth of his semen as it jetted out inside his underwear. It had no place to go but back onto my hand, and the warm, body-temperature feel of it as it ran between my fingers was just so thrilling that my buttocks suddenly squeezed together, and I was ejaculating myself. It was the best orgasm I had ever felt, and the first one I had ever shared with anyone.

It was over then, though the aftermath of it went on a bit. We rubbed our faces together for a bit after, and then finally pulled apart and opened our eyes. Benny looked over at me, and pulled his hand out of my underwear. I smiled as it emerged, with thin streaks of my ejaculate running down his fingers. He laughed, turning his hand to look at it.

I pulled my hand out of his underwear and stared at it, saw the glistening streaks on my own fingers. Benny's cum!

Benny brought his hand back carefully and sniffed at his fingers, and then grinned at me. "Smells familiar."

And then he did something I just could not believe: he brought one coated finger to his mouth, darted out the tip of his tongue, and tasted my cum!

My mouth just dropped open. I'm no neophyte. I have seen quite a bit of gay sex online, including plenty of oral. But...seeing sex online and having someone taste your sperm...that isn't the same thing, not at all.

He  grinned at me, rubbing his tongue around inside his mouth. "Mmm. Tastes familiar, too."

I closed my mouth, and daintily brought my hand back and sniffed it. The nutty, ocean salt smell was quite familiar. I had tasted my semen before...and now, I realized, I wanted to taste Benny's. I stuck out my tongue, and rubbed the tip of it along the glistening streak on my finger.

Benny hooted in delight, rocking back and forth, looking ecstatic. "How is it, Griffin?"

I smiled. It tasted like my cum, and it didn't. But I halfway suspected that the didn't part was simply due to knowing that it wasn't mine. "Not bad," I said, smiling. "Not bad at all."

That seemed to delight Benny even more. "Oh, man, I've wanted to do that with someone for so long! I knew it would be you, the first time I saw you!"

That kind of shocked me. "You did?"

He nodded. "I wanted you to like me so much. But you seemed like you didn't...until I realized that you were shy, and that you were watching me after all."

I blinked at that. Had Benny been secretly lusting after me, just as I had been secretly lusting after him? The idea was incredibly novel, but also incredibly stirring. I opened my mouth to pursue that...but then stopped. It was not important, and I could see such a conversation perhaps even causing some misunderstandings if taken too far.

So I just smiled at him. "I liked you the first time I laid eyes on you."

He sighed at that. "So we're friends now, right?"

I laughed, feeling that that was not quite the right description of where I hoped we were heading...but it would do, for now. "Yep. Most definitely."

Benny looked happy to hear that.

I did frown then. "How did you know? That I was gay?"

Benny continued to smile. "I just did. I don't know how. I looked up in the locker room one day, and you were looking at me, and I just knew."

I nodded. "I didn't suspect that you were until today."

He laughed. "I don't usually wear my, 'Hi! I'm gay!' shirt to school."

That made me laugh. "This feels so good, doesn't it? To be able to talk about this?"

He nodded, and suddenly leaned closer, and kissed me, right on the lips.

Then he jerked back, looking almost scared. "Was that okay?" The innocent fright at what he had just dared almost melted my heart.

I probably grinned like a total fool. But I leaned closer, and gave a little pucker. "Can we do it again?"

The fear evaporated from Benny's eyes, and he nodded so vigorously that my heart just spasmed inside my chest. He leaned forward, closed his eyes, and puckered.

This time I kissed him. And not just the quick peck he had given me, either. A warm affection surged throughout my body, and I kissed Benny several times, as gently as I possibly could, and nuzzled his face with mine. It was absolutely delightful, warm and just so personal, so intimate. Exactly what I had been craving, exactly what I wanted to share so much with Benny.

I pulled back, just a little, and he opened his eyes and looked at me. "Wow. That was...wow."

I couldn't help smiling. "Like it?"

He nodded. "Yeah. Can we do it some more?'

This time, he took the initiative again, and kissed me as I had kissed him, exploring, learning, every touch bright and new. He stuck the tip of his tongue between my lips, and I gasped at that, but immediately touched the tip of my tongue against his. He tasted warm and sweet, and I was sure I could detect apple juice on his breath then. It made me laugh, and he pulled back and grinned at me.

"What?"

"Did you drink apple juice before you came to the park?"

His eyes widened, and he laughed. "Yeah! Ohmigod, you can taste it?"

I nodded. "You taste really sweet, Benny."

He smiled at that, perhaps sensing that I meant it wasn't just the apple juice that tasted sweet. "I'm so glad I talked to you today."

"Me, too. I wanted to talk to you...but I was kind of scared."

"Of me? Really?" He shook his head, looking mildly upset, and gave me a sweet little pout. "Never be scared of me, Griff."

"I'm not, now." I confessed. I leaned in and kissed him again, and he put a hand behind my neck and held our faces together for the longest of times. He learned fast, I'll have to give him that. But so do I, and what I was learning now was the warm pleasure of another's touch. It worked its way inside me, compared notes with that as yet unsolved formula I had been carrying around with me - the one that defined what I was looking for in a companion. There was a fleeting sense of numbers mixing on an awesome scale as formulae too tough even for Richard Feynman to understand suddenly solved; and then a small, internal, ding!, and a sign popped up on my side of my eyes that said, "We have a winner!"

Most definitely, I did.