Tag, you’re it!

by Dream Big

Traveling for a conference, Josh meets a distractly handsome and very well-built man with a few secrets hidden in his past.

8 parts 14k words Added May 2023 Updated 11 Nov 2023 7,078 views 4.8 stars (12 votes)

Part 1 Traveling for a conference, Josh meets a distractly handsome and very well-built man with a few secrets hidden in his past. (added: 13 May 2023)
Part 2
Part 3 Dinner with the mysterious Gabriel leads to some private time and a lot of questions. (added: 17 Jun 2023)
Part 4
Part 5 Josh faces a tough decision: should he join up with a man he just met on a journey to forever? (added: 1 Jul 2023)
Part 6
Part 7 Gabriel shepherds Josh through his transformation, a process full of moments his protégé wasn’t expecting at all. (added: 11 Nov 2023)
Part 8 Josh discovers more perks of his new form.
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Part 1

I was in Washington, D.C. for a conference when it happened. I’d gone down into Chinatown—or what was left of it—to grab lunch, and was just about to leave the Nando’s when I spotted him across the street. Just a sexy guy with his attention fully occupied by his phone, leaning against a wall.

He was tall—maybe 5’10 or so—with caramel skin and a mop of dark curly hair, and a bit of facial scruff somewhere short of a beard. Full lips and white teeth—a great smile with dimples as he chuckled at something on his phone. Wide shoulders in his bright white polo shirt, and biceps that suggested power without screaming it. I could only guess at his background; possibly Asian, possibly mixed, possibly Arabic or even Turkish or Greek.

Even across the street, he looked incredible to me, and I found myself staring. I couldn’t see his eyes because he was wearing sunglasses. Given how sexy he was, I was almost glad I couldn’t see his eyes, because that might have wrecked me.

I found a reason to look at my own phone, if only to continue staring at him over the tops of my own glasses.

“Excuse me,” someone said. “You’re kind of blocking the doorway.”

“Shit, sorry about that, lost in thought.” I moved sheepishly to the side.

“No worries,” the woman said, and headed off down the street.

I glanced over at the wall where the beautiful boy had been, but just then a big delivery van stopped right in front of me, blocking my view. Ah well, it was a lovely moment while it lasted, but it was about time to head back and I still needed to stop by the pharmacy.

I ducked into the Walgreens, intending to grab a pack of allergy medicine—pollen in the area was no joke this time of year—when I spotted him again, just as I turned into the aisle with the sinus stuff. He was bent over as he rifled through the kinesiology tape options.

Fuck, he was even hotter up close. Especially with his perfect ass pointed right at me like that. I could feel a stirring down below as I imagined what it might feel like to touch it, even through the khakis.

And of course he was in the way for what I needed. I swallowed hard, and walked over to where my meds sat, directly opposite him.

“Oh, sorry, am I in the way?” he said, as he spotted me in his peripheral vision.

“Uh,” I said. Yeah, great opening line, dummy. “Sorry, if I can just squeeze past—”

“These aisles are too narrow, right?” He smiled and those damned dimples sent an electric shock to my soul.

“Yeah, I’m surprised they get away with it. Thanks,” I said, trying my best not to look at him.

“Not much of a selection,” he groused.

“They keep a lot behind lock and key,” I replied. “Shoplifters.”

“Oh, right, I guess they’re right here by the subway. I guess I could ask up front.”

Look, I had the meds in my hand. I could have left. But I made a critical mistake.

I looked right at him, and I was hooked. Completely smitten.

“I don’t think they lock up the kino tape,” I found myself saying. “But there’s a CVS a few blocks up.”

“Up is…toward the convention center?”

“Yeah. I can walk you most of the way there. It’s kind of on the way.”

“That’d be wonderful, thanks, man!”

Just to be safe, we checked up front, but no dice. I quickly paid for my purchase while he loitered at the exit, and to my delight he smiled as he fell into step beside me. I could almost smell his cologne from this close, and he’d taken off his sunglasses. His eyes were a warm brown.

“I’m Gabe,” he said, sticking out a friendly hand. “Appreciate the assist!”

“Josh,” I said. His hand was warm. I might never wash mine again.

“Yeah, I kinda pulled something in my shoulder the other day. The KT tape will hopefully keep me from wrenching it any further.”

I stole a glance at his shoulders. Broad, nicely sculpted delts, but now that he mentioned it, I could see he was carrying himself a little off.

“What did you do?”

“You’ll laugh,” he said as we left the pharmacy.

“Please. I’m the biggest klutz in town. You can’t shock me.” I popped my zyrtec and took a swig of my water bottle.

“It was so dumb. I’m here for a conference, and I’ve been using the hotel gym. But did I wrench my shoulder there? No. I wrenched it by trying to grab the door I was walking through. Just a bad angle and a loss of balance, and wham.”

“Yikes.”

“Right? And of course I had to help unload the stuff for the booth, maybe half an hour after I did that. Classic dumb move—strain something and then immediately strain it again.”

“Yeah, well, I hate to tell you, but that’s only going to get worse as time goes on,” I said. “None of us are getting any younger.”

“Tell me about it,” he said quietly. Something in the way he said it piqued my curiosity.

“Oh please, you can’t be a day over 30,” I said, confident I’d guessed he was at most 32 or 33.

“Hah!” Josh said, with a twinkle in his eye. “Been a while since I was 30.”

I welcomed the excuse to really get a good look at him. Not a hint of salt and pepper in his hair, a face that was masculine and mature, but somehow still youthful. You’d never mistake him for a kid, but neither was he likely to be someone’s dad. If he was over 35, he was extremely well preserved.

“No way.”

“I’m much older than I look,” he said, “but I appreciate the flattery.”

Well, now I was curious. Luckily, the light and traffic were being their usual uncoordinated selves, leaving us stranded on a corner.

“Must be nice,” I chuckled.

“Sometimes,” he said. “But sometimes looking young gets kind of old.”

“Wouldn’t know,” I said, flippantly as the light changed. “Some of us don’t have the luxury.”

We hurried across, only to hear the wail of sirens. Blocked again, as the cars on the road tried their level best to get out of the way of the emergency vehicles—which, of course, stopped directly in our path.

“Guess we’ll take the long way round,” I said. “Follow me.”

I stole a glance at my watch. “I’m taking too much of your time,” my new friend said.

“Nah, it’s fine. I don’t have any more meetings this afternoon, so it’s mostly just collecting swag and schmoozing with people. I’m happy to let the marketing boys do that.”

“You’re here for the tech conference?”

“Yeah. Already did my bit, but a week’s a week, and I was planning to stay the weekend and do a little sightseeing.”

“Same here, more or less. I was supposed to fly back tonight, but they needed me for another project on Monday. My big weekend plans are getting my laundry done.”

“You in tech?”

“More or less. These days I manage a small team and show up to walk the execs through everything. They pretend to know what I’m talking about and I make sure to drag one of their actual IT people through the show-and-tell, because I know damned well the guy with the MBA will retain none of what I say.”

We reached the pharmacy all too quickly, so I walked in with him.

“Success!” he said, triumphantly holding up the sought-after KT tape. I smiled with him, then realized I was about to lose my excuse to keep chatting with him. I kept him company at the register and walked back with him toward the convention center when a thought struck me.

“Dumb question,” I drawled. “How do you plan on putting that on your shoulder by yourself?”

He opened his mouth to reply, then realization sunk in. “Oh.”

Fortune favors the bold, right? “If you can wait until 3 or so, after I put in a token appearance in there, I could… help you put that on.”

He arched a perfect eyebrow. “Do you know how?”

“Actually, I do. Had a pinched nerve that put me through some PT a few years ago. A hazard when you’re old and work a desk job,” I said. He chuckled.

“Okay, I accept your gracious offer, provided you let me buy you a drink or two afterward,” he offered. “Know any decent places for that?”

“Depends on your vibe, but yeah. There are some nice places around here, and if we’re both willing to go a little early, we could even grab dinner if you like.”

“It’d be nice to have company,” he said.

“Then you’re on. Meanwhile, you should probably take a hot shower to loosen that shoulder up. Maybe even a nap. Which hotel?”

“I’m at the Residence Inn a few blocks west. “

“Okay, I’m at the Embassy Suites, so I’ll ping you when I get out of my meeting, and give you an ETA. Sound good?”

It did, and we quickly exchanged numbers. Somehow I resisted doing a victory dance. One part of me was already sending some distinctly happy signals.

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It took a bit longer than I’d hoped to extricate myself, but I finally escaped and made a beeline to the hotel.

Sorry, took a little longer than I hoped, I texted. If you’re still game, I need a few minutes to freshen up. Meet you at yours in half an hour?

Sounds great. About to hop in the shower like you suggested. Text me when you hit the lobby okay?

Twenty-six minutes later, after I freshened up a bit, I arrived at the Residence in a clean white polo shirt—without the company logo—and a pair of khakis. It was a classy looking place without being pretentious or very posh, no doubt catering to people like my new friend.

I texted him. Here. In lobby.

Come on up, room 315.

Well now. Thanks to considerable self-control, I didn’t sprint but instead walked to the elevators and pressed the third floor button. Then I calmly walked to room 315 and knocked.

The door burst open instantly, and there he was, still wet from the shower and a little breathless. He smelled like hotel shampoo, over a very pleasant, slightly spicy natural scent.

He was as perfect as I’d imagined. Not super muscular, but definitely worked out and ate right. His abs were visible, but not ridiculous; his pecs firm and defined without being huge. A light dusting of black hair decorated both, leading down below his towel. Which was the only thing he was wearing.

“Sorry, I had a call I had to take and I only got in the shower right when you called, and it felt so good I lost track of time—”

“Relax, Gabe,” I said. “I’ll just wait in here while you finish up. Um, you may want to wait to put on a shirt, I can put the tape on that way.”

“Will do,” he said.

I sat at the small table in the little kitchenette, keenly aware of what his body and his scent and his breathless glistening self had done to me. I was hard already, which had somehow not been the plan.

“Any dress code to worry about?” he inquired from the bath room.

“Nope. I’m just doing the usual khakis and polo—that will get you into most places without any trouble.”

He was quickly dressed—well, most of him was. Shirtless, as requested.

“Thanks for doing this,” he said, charmingly showing a bit of nervousness. He swung the other chair around and sat on it facing away from me. His butt was nice and perky and the khakis were working for him.

Concentrate, Josh. I put the naughty thoughts aside.

“Okay,” I said, “where are you feeling the pain?”

“It kind of starts in my neck, and goes down my shoulder blade and along my trap.”

I took a deep breath, and put my shaky hand on his neck, gently working my way until I felt the spasm—and when I touched it with a bit of pressure, he gasped.

“If you want,” I began, “I could try to work on this a bit for you before we hit the tape or go out. Not that I’m an expert or licensed or anything, but—”

“Yes, please,” he said, suddenly shy again. “Ah, right there!” he squealed.

“You’re in luck, I have had similar spasms myself. Lean over the table—yeah, like that. Let me know if it’s too much pressure.”

Touching his back was electric. He wasn’t a muscle-head gym bro, but he was no slouch, so every contour and bulge was dense and firm. I put aside any further thoughts along those lines, and refocused on working on the spasm.

“Oh my god,” he said. “Don’t stop, sorry about the moans.”

I chuckled. “Wonder what your neighbors think about all those moans?”

“Right now I don’t give a fuck,” he said. “Right there! Ooooh.”

“That’s a pretty big one,” I chuckled.

“Harder please, yes, yes, right there!” I obliged—it really was a nasty knot, but I had the angle just right to get at it—but couldn’t stop myself from giggling. And it got contagious very quickly.

Finally, I relented. “Don’t want to overdo it. I’ll put on the tape now, let me know how it feels.”

He sat up and moved his shoulder back and forth a bit. He winced, but not as much as when I’d first dug in. “Much better,” he said, leaning slightly back—and invading my space a bit, not that I minded in the slightest.

“I don’t know how to thank you,” he said, spinning round to face me. (I had several ideas on the topic, but hadn’t even figured out whether he was hot and into it, or hot and oblivious.)

His brown eyes held my own hostage. Oh yes, there was definitely some heat there.

And then my stomach growled, audibly. We both laughed.

“Let me grab my shirt,” he said breezily. “And let’s get some food in you.”

“And drinks,” I said, “but you should probably guzzle a glass full of water first.”

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Five minutes later, we set out to walk a few blocks to a rather nice place I’d been to once before. The evening crowd—mostly government contractors, lawyers, and other federal folk—had begun to settle in and friday happy hour was kicking off. By sheer luck, the hostess was able to seat us.

And then, over cocktails and appetizers, we chatted. It was easy, friendly conversation, like we’d been friends for years and were catching up—only we knew nothing about each other.

It wasn’t long before friendly banter gave way to outright flirting—finally confirmation he was, beyond all hope, into me. I left little doubt about where I stood. We practically smoldered at each other, but it felt like a real connection. Right up until the check came. He snatched it quickly before I could grab it.

“Nope,” he said. “I got this. Least I could do.”

“You know,” I said, “In most Asian cultures, the oldest male picks up the check. I should be insulted.”

“Are you Asian?”

“No, but still—”

“I’ve got it.”

We sat a little awkwardly as the server took care of the check; I insisted on leaving a cash tip, and he acquiesced.

Outside the restaurant, the night was incredibly clear and the streets were lively. Perhaps a little too lively.

“Do you want to maybe—”

“Yes.”

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He’d insisted that we go back to his room rather than mine, which suited me fine; I didn’t particularly want to deal with other coworkers who were flying out the next morning. But those extra few blocks took forever, and the elevator seemed slow as molasses, and the door couldn’t open fast enough.

We weren’t in the door a full minute before we were all over each other. His touch, his scent, his voice, his eyes—and he kissed like he’d invented it. It was almost overwhelming.

Amusingly, it was the race to remove our clothes that gave me a momentary break from the sensual assault—but only so that it could get *worse*. Because once those pants were off him, the briefs he wore did absolutely nothing to hide the contents of his pouch.

I’m casting politeness to the wind: his dick was huge. Easily 9 inches, and girthy, and clearly worked up by our pawing at each other after 90 minutes of verbal foreplay over dinner.

My own body was, of course, far less impressive. I’d recently shaved 20 pounds and firmed up a bit, but that had only brought me up to “not terribly embarrassing”, as far as I was concerned. And the contents of my own briefs were unremarkable, average at best.

He didn’t seem to mind.

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Honestly? I was winded and flagging after the first round of fucking, even though he seemed eager to do most of the work. Not only were we both vers, we seemed remarkably in tune with each other, instinctively guessing what would delight the other.

Round two was all him. (Pro-tip: if you’ve never had a very hot man with a near-ideal body lavish you with attention, make every effort to arrange that, if you can.)

Twice, I had thought, was about my limit—but I found myself ready and willing for round three, somehow. He insisted on bottoming for me, his well-muscled and very limber body matched only by the sweetness of his ass as he bent and twisted until we hit the perfect angle.

I have a vague memory of him grabbing a large bottle of water and handing it to me; and I remember drinking it, but things get hazy.

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I woke cuddled into his side, covered in his scent, as he smiled down at me while stroking my hair gently.

“Hey,” he said.

“Hey,” I replied.

“That was fun.”

“That was amazing.”

“I’m glad we met.”

“Me too.”

I reached up to kiss him, and he obliged. His insistent 9 inches poked me almost immediately.

“Whoa, buddy. I need to rehydrate. Been a while since I had that much of a workout.”

“Been a while for me too,” Gabe chuckled.

“Why?” I said, before my brain could shut my mouth off.

“No particular reason. Just hadn’t found someone I really wanted to do that with for a while.”

“Lucky me,” I said grinning ear to ear.

“Why don’t we get up, and hash out who is the luckier of the two of us over breakfast? Dibs on the shower.”

I yawned. “Sounds like a plan. Just let me pee first, before my dick gets other ideas.”

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While Gabe was showering, I decided to tidy up a bit, and see if my clothing would suffice to go to breakfast in. The sheets were a total write-off; he’d need to get housekeeping up here. Our clothes were tossed here and there around the room, so I began to gather them and put them on two of the kitchen chairs.

When his wallet tumbled out of his pants pocket, however, something happened that I couldn’t have predicted. His driver’s license dropped out of the sleeve, so I picked it up.

Gabriel Lucas, it read. Black hair, brown eyes, 5’10”, 180 pounds, 39 years old, with an address in a city too far away to take this too seriously. A sweet name for a sweet boy. But when I went to slide it back into the clear pocket on his wallet, another license was already there. And while the photo was nearly identical, and the other information matched, this one was clearly an older style.

And it showed a birthdate of 1934.

 

Part 2

I must have sat there for a full five minutes, just staring at the ID and trying to wrap my brain around what it would mean. And then another five minutes, trying to figure out what to do about it.

I still hadn’t decided when the shower shut off, so I put the licenses back in his wallet, and slid it back into his pants pocket. When he popped out of the bathroom, in just a towel, steam in his wake, I just nodded and walked in like a zombie.

The shower did little to defragment my jumbled up thoughts, but scrubbing up with nice hotel soap distracted me somewhat. The scent I associated with Gabriel was at least partly this soap. Herbal rather than flowery.

Think, Josh. It has to be some kind of gag, it can’t possibly be real. He barely looks like he’s in his 30s, much less 40s. No way is that guy pushing 90!

I really wanted to ask him about it, but if I did, he’d know I saw his wallet. Guilt lurked in waiting, though I’d only seen it by accident. No, I’d either have to ask him directly or find some reason to take another look.

I frowned at my reflection in the mirror. I could use a shave, but what the hell, it was Saturday, and I was already in my “walk of shame” outfit from last night. Though I supposed I’d really only worn those things for a few hours around dinnertime.

“Help yourself to my stuff if you need it. I even have a spare toothbrush,” he said, peeking in from the room. “I picked up a replacement before I went on this trip, but I haven’t switched over to it, so you’re in luck there. Just use the new one.”

“Thanks,” I mumbled. That much at least was a relief; between dinner and the various other activities, my breath was probably pretty bad. Plus, at my age, you’re happy to have your own teeth.

While I was brushing, I was taking stock. At 45, I was by most measures okay looking. Pretty average, a little thicker around the middle than I’d like, and a little silver beginning to show itself in my beard and dark blond hair. The crow’s feet were slowly going from faint lines to more deeply etched creases. But the teeth and hair were all present, accounted for, and natural, an increasing rarity among my peer group.

Maybe it was just my mind playing tricks on me. Maybe I confused some dreamlike state for reality. Maybe I was just convinced I was batting above my level with Gabriel.

Somehow, I put it out of my mind, and off we went in search of breakfast.

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Breakfast was lavish and included a few bloody marys, and then a quick stop at my hotel to change clothes.

We were flirty and giggling like kids on a first date. There was something about Gabriel that immediately put me at ease, and we chatted through all of breakfast, and then as we walked around town doing touristy stuff. I found myself talking about work and family as well as geek stuff and food and movies and TV.

It was going ridiculously well, if I’m honest. We found ourselves holding hands as we walked between Smithsonian buildings; We even stole a lengthy kiss on the bus, mostly to annoy the grumpy guy in the ill-fitting suit who kept trying not to stare disapprovingly over his tablet.

It had been ages since I’d hit it off so well with someone. And even if he lived on the other coast, I found myself considering that it might be worth making an attempt to make it work.

I was smitten, for sure.

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So when he suggested we swing by the Korean War memorial, I agreed, having never been. I was eager to see the Lincoln Memorial anyway.

That particular memorial is mostly composed of a bunch of larger-than-life statues of servicemen of various races but they recently added a wall with over 40,000 names of armed forces folks who lost their lives in a war I knew mostly from M*A*S*H. I snapped a few respectful photos as we approached—it’s a striking piece—but Gabriel made a beeline for the remembrance wall and began reading it.

“Looking for anyone in particular?” I said, quietly.

“Maybe?” he answered. “A few names. Friends—well, friends of the family, I guess.”

“Your dad’s army buddies?”

“Something like that,” he replied. He seemed pensive, and I didn’t want to get in the way of whatever he was thinking, so I sauntered down a little ways. A few Korean families milled about, as well as a handful of veterans. I was about halfway down it, and I idly scanned the names. I wasn’t really expecting to find anything.

But there, amongst the members of the Army signal corps, was the name Gabriel Lucas.

It must be his father, I thought. Right?

I snapped a photo, and then resumed my wandering. Places like that always leave me a bit pensive, and there were dozens of people with a deep connection milling about, lost in emotions. So I found a bench and waited.

Gabriel moved slowly, taking things in. He was obviously feeling something strong, and a couple of times I saw him appear to bow his head in prayer, or thought, or something. Then he got to the far end of the wall, blew his nose, and began scanning the area for me. I stood and caught his eye, and he walked over toward me. I met him about a third of the way there.

“You okay?” I asked.

“Yeah. I think so.” But he was quiet.

“You want to sit for a minute? Or maybe go up to see Abe?”

“Sure.”

We did a quick tour through the Lincoln memorial, which is impressive but was packed that day, so by unspoken agreement, we wandered toward the road after about twenty minutes. Gabriel hadn’t said much, and seemed still lost in thought—though if I’m honest he was sexy even when mournful.

“Let’s go find lunch,” I said.

“Okay.”

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“When did food trucks get so expensive?” I asked rhetorically. “Oh well, what will it be?”

“Maybe just a hot dog.”

“It’s D.C.—you want to try a half smoke. Trust me on this,” I said. A few minutes later we’d found a place to sit and tucked into our late lunch.

“Penny for your thoughts, Gabe,” I said.

“What? Oh, I’m sorry,” he said. “I don’t suppose I’m too entertaining to be around right now.”

“I think it’s nice to see real emotion in a man,” I said honestly. “Forgive me. Were you close to your dad?”

He shrugged. “I suppose. It was a long time ago. Mostly I was thinking about his buddies. Great guys.”

“Did you find the names?”

“Yeah. One of them was spelled wrong, though. I’ll have to request a correction. Do they do that?”

“Probably? I can check the website…”

“Nah, it can wait,” he said, seeming to collect himself. “Man, this sausage thing is great, isn’t it?”

“Oh yeah. Depends on the stand, but I had this guy’s the last time I was out here.” I smiled. “Looks like a little food helped your mood, no?”

“I’m sorry, Josh. I don’t mean to be a downer. I didn’t expect it to hit me this hard.”

“I told you, no worries,” I said. Then I gave him a hug, and a peck on the cheek.. “Finish your lunch while I ogle cute boys.”

He glanced around. He raised an eyebrow on realizing the area behind him was pretty empty.

“Especially the sensitive hottie eating a half smoke. It reminds me of something.”

It took him a moment before he realized I meant *him*.

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The mood seemed to brighten after that, and he was more smiling and talkative as we headed toward the White House. I’d lost my taste for it after Trump, but he hadn’t seen it, so off we went.

“How much time do we have?”

“The website says they aren’t doing tours today. I was able to check on this amazing steak place a few blocks away. It’s a little pricey, but as long as they let us in dressed like this, I’m game. We have until maybe 5:30?”

“Sounds great.”

We waded around the usual gaggle of protestors, and took a few photos before it was time to hit the steak house.

I’ll ask him after dinner, I thought.

Because as we drank our martinis with the good olives, and ate some bread, I’d begun to do the math. And there was no way those dates made sense. The Gabriel from the wall had died 65 years ago.

 

Part 3

We chatted amiably throughout the appetizers and drinks, and had reached one of those natural lulls in the conversation, when Gabriel looked at me a little pensively.

“You’re staring at me,” Gabriel said.

“You’re fun to look at,” I replied.

“Nice. But I’ve seen you look at me with curiosity, friendliness, and lust. Those I don’t mind. This was more like confusion. What are you trying to figure out?”

Shit. Was I that obvious?

Luckily I was saved by the timely arrival of our steaks. The momentary awkwardness was set aside as we tucked into possibly the best steak dinner I’ve ever eaten. Gabriel seemed to agree, and as we savored it, we ended up chatting about the food, the other diners, the goofy mustache sported by the bartender, and possible competitors for this awesome food’s current status as Best Ever. Eventually, we were both stuffed to contentment, and laughed about feeling bad we both left a little of the sides on our plates.

“I always forget and eat too much bread.”

“That’s amateur hour, that is.”

“I know, but it’s so good!”

Our friendly ninja of a waiter—a neatly-trimmed twunk in black pants and a tight shirt named Devon—materialized next to Gabriel.

“I’m going to guess that you enjoyed your meals,” he said.

“That was fantastic,” I said, and Gabriel nodded in agreement.

“I’ll let the chef know you were pleased. Can I get either of you another drink? Or possibly desert?”

You know how, when it’s early days in a relationship, you tend to play chicken about things like this? You exchange looks, hoping the other will make the first move and order something so you don’t feel bad about doing the same. Yeah, we did that. And Devon, to his credit, noticed.

“Tell you what, why don’t I get you something to drink while you digest a bit, and when I come back, you can let me know if you want anything. But I should tell you, we’re known for our key lime pie, and the dark chocolate mousse is worth the two hours of cardio you’ll need to work it off. So—wine, a cocktail, or coffee?”

“I mean, I could go either way,” I said, and got an amused eyebrow raise from Gabriel. “I mean, I’m not sure if I want another drink just yet.”

“We did kill two martinis and a bottle of wine already,” Gabriel said.

“Then maybe just regular coffee, please.”

“If you do espresso, I’ll have a double, otherwise I’ll have the same.”

“Milk, cream, any sugar?”

“Black”, we both said at the same time. Smiles all around.

Goddammit, why was he such a good fit? (I mean personality wise; get your minds out of the gutter.)

“I’ll be right back with the coffee—I’m afraid the espresso machine has been acting up all night so I can’t promise good results on that front. Oh, and there’s also sorbet if you want something lighter. Lemon or raspberry, I think. And cheesecake with strawberries.”

“You’re trying to make this a really tough decision, aren’t you?” Gabriel joked.

“All part of the service,” Devon said brightly, and departed.

“I like that guy,” Gabriel said. “People don’t appreciate a really good waiter, or bartender. Good service is just hard to find.”

“At least in a place like this, they’re making decent money. Or so I hope.”

“You’d be surprised how shitty some folks tip. It bugs me more than it should.”

“Hey, I’ve worked as a waiter,” I said. “So I always tip well, and especially when the service is this good. You pay people well enough to care, and they usually come through.”

“Such an optimist!”

“Guilty as charged.”

I swear Devon had a sixth sense for timing, because despite the place being fairly crowded, he was back already with two steaming cups of coffee—and as he delivered them to us, he waved over another server. With a tray full of desserts.

“That’s playing dirty,” I said.

“No, playing dirty would have been bringing you another round of martinis and then offering dessert.”

“I hope you like me for something more than my trim tummy, because I think I have to try that mousse,” Gabriel said. “Even though I have grave concerns about finishing it.”

“Fine, I’ll get the key lime. We can each try a bite, if you’re up for that,” I said.

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In the end, he’d agreed to let me cover dinner, but insisted on leaving the tip in cash so Devon wouldn’t have to declare it all. And while it was not a cheap meal, at least by my usual standards, I saw Gabriel sneak an extra hundred dollar bill into the book, after rounding up for something like a 25% base tip.

Another green flag. Waved vigorously. You treat the staff well and tip lavishly, that’s a major bonus.

“Wow, we were in there for over two hours,” Gabriel said.

“I’d say it was time well spent. And worth every dime, for that kind of experience and that quality.”

“Agreed!”

We were grinning stupidly at each other, wondering what the next moment would hold.

“So.”

“So.”

“Want to stroll some of that dessert off?”

“Sounds like a plan.”

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

We’d wandered along the edges of the Mall, which was still pretty active even though it was approaching 8 o’clock and the sun was pretty low. Neither of us wanted to rush things, or to end the day prematurely, so we found a bench and watched some gangly youths play frisbee for a bit.

“I think that Frisbee is glowing,” I said.

“You think they’ll keep playing after dark?” Gabriel asked.

“I don’t know if the park police will let them. My money’s on them being chased off once it’s fully dark.”

“Guess we’ll never find out,” Gabriel said. “Because I plan to take you back to the hotel and have my way with you, if that’s all right with you.”

“Yes, please,” I said.

So if you happened to be walking up New York Avenue NW that night, I apologize if we clipped you. Because we were oblivious as we power-walked back, thinking only of what awaited at the hotel.

Well, that and the question of that ID. Because as much as I was falling hard for Gabriel, that mystery just parked itself in the way and wouldn’t budge.

 

Part 4

I try to be open to change and to possibilities. But I’m also, like most of us, a creature of certain habits that are tough to change. One of those is what I refer to as the Morning Constitutional. I like to start my day empty.

And while I sit on the can, I tend to rehash things in my mind.

And really, the morning after I went sightseeing with Gabriel, I had plenty to think about.

I came up with a handful of possible explanations for the various mysteries my new lover carried with him. None seemed to explain everything, but “spy” and “supernatural creature” were running neck-and-neck for the most plausible reason for the drivers’ license issue. For the discrepancy between this obviously young man and his obviously old license that showed a well-preserved middle aged guy decades ago.

A gentle knock at the bathroom door interrupted my thoughts.

“You okay in there? I’m going to need it soon…”

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We opted to take turns showering, and while he was in the bath, my curiosity got the better of me. I rummaged in his jeans—something that was much more fun when he was in them—and pulled out the wallet.

Sure enough, there it was. A license from 1978, for Gabriel, with his birth year listed as 1938.

And I sat on the bed, staring at the little rectangular oddity, until he emerged, steaming and dripping, from the bathroom.

“Is that my wallet?” he said, with a bit of concern in his tone.

“Is this your license?” I replied.

His expressive face grew clouded and a complicated emotion seemed to pass over him.

“Well? Is it? Because if it is, it’s really confusing me. Is it… is it real?”

A long, thoughtful pause, and then he sighed. “It is.”

“I have like, a million questions.”

“I’m sure.”

“Do you plan to answer them? Truthfully?”

He seemed to think it over carefully. “Tell you what. I’ll order room service while you shower. And then we’ll have this discussion over coffee and eggs and pancakes.”

Normally, I’d lay odds he would be gone when I got done. But something about his tone, and well, about him in general, convinced me. “Fine. I’ll have at least one of everything,” I said. “And the truth to wash it down.”

“Got it.”

Somehow I stayed focused as I scrubbed up, brushed my teeth, and threw on an outfit. By then the room service had arrived, and I stayed quiet as the server laid it out on the table.

As requested, he’d ordered most of the menu, and I really was hungry. So I silently tucked into my pile of eggs, bacon, sausage, toast, and potatoes.

“There’s also some french toast and a few danishes,” he said. “I was hungry too.”

We ate in relative silence, slurped our coffees in unison, and avoided eye contact until the worst of our hunger was sated. Or at least I did. I was pretty sure he was staring warily at me the whole time.

“Is it safe now?” he asked. “You’re not hangry anymore right?”

“I wasn’t angry. I’m just really confused.”

He raised an eyebrow at the devastation of the breakfast tray.

“...Okay, I was probably getting hangry. I’m surprised I had any appetite after the lavish dinner last night,” I admitted.

“We did burn a few calories.”

“Heh. That we did.”

Another awkward, expectant pause.

“Okay, it’s going to sound ridiculous, but I can promise you an explanation. Whether you believe it or not, well…”

“Go on.”

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“For starters, I wasn’t born 39 years ago, nor was I born in the late 30s. The license is real. It’s mine.”

“But how—”

“Please, let me finish,” he said. I nodded.

“I was actually born in 1899. Korea was the last war I served in,” he said. “It wasn’t the first. That honor belongs to the Great War, and I was one of the thousands of young idiots who lied to get into the Army. I had no clue how often I’d wind up lying about my age, but I was only 16 when I joined. Eventually I wound up like everyone else, in trenches in France. “

“It was every bit as terrible as you’d guess it was—most of my fellow trainees were dead within weeks. I eventually lucked out and wound up in the supply corps, which was where they threw most of the African Americans back then. I was a corporal by then, and was assigned, I kid you not, to make sure that the colored soldiers didn’t steal too much. That’s literally what I was told my job was, and most of my days were spent watching people with a clipboard and a pencil, making sure that everything was accounted for.”

“That’s when I met James, an extremely handsome black man, and the fatal confirmation of my attraction to men. It was intense, and very much mutual. To this day, I’m shocked we never got caught or even suspected. He shook my world view to the core, because as hot as he was, he was also incredibly intelligent. Smarter than me, and just about everyone else around. I think at that point in life I’d only met a handful of people of color who weren’t doing menial work, and here was James, broad-shouldered and straight-backed, somehow managing to convince his racist bosses that they got better results by not being utterly awful to the colored men moving all the freight around. I was assigned mostly to figure out what was really going on, and there was obvious disappointment and disbelief when I credited James and another fellow for organizing their own groups’ work more efficiently.”

“I didn’t make many friends among the white officers or ranking enlisted men by reporting the outright abuse, or by insisting on adequate rations and supplies for the folk doing the work. One guy was so obsessed with power-tripping over the black troops that he went way too far, and whipped a fellow for looking directly at him. Finally we had a CO with a little more practicality and things got much better. He saw my friendship with James as strange, but useful, as most of the black soldiers followed James’ lead, and things ran very smoothly for a year.”

“We’d been lovers for some time by then, when James’ group got their papers to go home. Things moved pretty quickly, but I managed to wrangle an afternoon alone with James, off base on some made-up errand. And it was then that he told me that he wanted to give me a gift. It was a blessing that might also be a curse, but it really depended on who you shared it with.”

“He told me that he had looked and felt like a man in his late 20s for more than fifty years. And until the war, he’d loved his life, despite all the bullshit he’d had to endure due to his skin. But the war had sucked the joy out of him, until we found each other. His exact words stuck with me. ‘Until you, I was running out of reasons to get up, and looking for reasons to go wander out after curfew just to get shot.’ I can tell you I felt much the same, having had my fill of awfulness a few months in.”

“Then he said I could come with him, stay young with him, and build a life. We’d go out west where there were fewer people and less prejudice. ‘I won’t die anytime soon, and it gets mighty lonely,’ he told me. ‘You’ll hit your prime, and then just sort of stay there for as long as you want.’ For some reason, I believed him.”

“And you said yes,” I said.

“And I said yes. And as we both wept for joy at finding someone in the midst of all this misery. And then we made love, and he told me I would be like him by morning. And here I am, a century later.”

“Are you a vampire or something,” I asked before I could stop myself.

“Hah! No. Today would have sucked with all that sunlight, yes?” He chuckled. “No, I have no clue what this is really all about, but I know how to pass it along.”

“So what happened to him?”

“That’s the sad part. I got my orders almost immediately after his flight was confirmed. We made plans to connect after we got home.” He took a deep, sad, sigh. “And then his plane went down on the way home. I never saw him again.”

“I’m sorry,” I said.

“It was a long time ago. It only hurts a little, now.”

He poured some more coffee for both of us.

“I didn’t find out about his death until months after I got home. But the day after James left, I woke up feeling stronger than ever…and over the next few days, I noticed other improvements. I was fitter, healthier, even my dick was bigger.”

“I’m aware.”

“Blessing and a curse, like I said. I’d been average before, but by the time I got home, I was like this. Almost twice as big as I’d been, a few inches taller. It sounds great but my uniforms were really uncomfortable for a while.”

“I can imagine.”

“It was a mild complaint. Turning into a more ideal version of yourself, and looking forward to an eternity with a person you adore, really takes the edge off minor annoyances. So I came home, and when I didn’t hear from him, I dug into it—and found out what had happened.” He smiled sadly. “You ever wonder how hard it is to be depressed, when your body is so damned full of life? Mentally, I was a mess, but physically, I was better than ever, which was just confusing. Eventually I shook off the depression, found a job, made friends. My folks passed away a few years later, and I relocated. But ten years later, I still barely looked like a twenty-year-old. People were beginning to notice.”

“The stock market tumble and the Great Depression made it easy to start over, but things sucked. I spent most of it living in rural New York State, earning my meals on farms, and reading everything I could get my hands on. But I was utterly done with that life by the time Pearl Harbor happened. I claimed to be 25 and enlisted again. Somehow I made it through that war without any romantic entanglements, and without losing a limb or a life—just most of my friends. The only funny thing was that Captain America came out, and there was my own story in a comic book, more or less. Just a different delivery mechanism.”

“For various reasons I was stuck in Europe cleaning up after the war. I neglected to change my identity and found myself stuck as an increasingly unlikely 25-year-old on my 50th birthday. Alone and apparently almost immortal.”

“Finally, Korea happened to me by accident. I’d managed to start over before thanks largely to poor paperwork, but by the 1950s it was much harder to do all that. They assumed that it was a typo in my record and shipped me off to Seoul.”

“The guys on the wall.”

“Yeah. Some of the best men I ever knew didn’t make it home. I almost shared my secret with one of them, but chickened out. By that point, 30-years after my transformation, I was becoming familiar with the curse problem. My life experience was so different from theirs.”

“I spent a lot of the 60s doing all the things the 60s are famous for. I did meet Jack Kerouac, and Andy Warhol, but those weren’t the circles I traveled in, not really. But I was at Woodstock, in the mud, working at a food stall that ran out early. I’d say ask me about it sometime but I don’t really remember it all that vividly—just good music, loads of mud, and rampant diarrhea. I tried to pass this along twice more, but changed my mind in both cases, for the best. It was just desperation informing those urges.”

“I’ll spare you the tedium of the next few years—despite the shitty economy and all the other nonsense, I lucked out on some stocks and eventually I bought a house out in the boondocks. I got this driver’s license with my new address, and somehow I held onto it.”

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“That’s quite a tale,” I said.

“I’ll be honest, Josh. I’ve seen some shit, and I’ve restarted my life a lot. I spent time chasing fads, or soul searching, or chasing wealth. Money buys a degree of privacy that I find useful. But boredom and loneliness can consume you if you let it. So at some point in the 90s, I got involved with tech, and learned a lot. I can cover my trail pretty well, and arrange my life as I wish it. The group I’m working with now are fun, smart kids, and they tease me about being old because they’re all younger than I look. There’s always something new to learn, and I like building stuff. I’d pretty much given up on wanting anything more. But….” he said.

“But?”

“But then I randomly bump into you, and it’s France in 1918 all over again.”

 

Part 5

Wow. I mean, what the hell do you say to something like that?

“...I guess it’s a lot to process,” Gabriel said, no doubt watching a million emotions bounce around in my eyes.

“No kidding,” I said, shaking my head. “I don’t know where to start.”

“Saying you believe me would be a bit of a novelty,” he said.

“So you really are over a hundred years old. Despite looking like a 30-something prime-of-life snack.”

“Yup.” He grinned. “Never been called a snack before.”

“Now that I find unbelievable.” Truthfully, I probably picked that term up from one of the 20-something kids I dealt with, so who was I to talk? “And you’re immortal?”

“No clue. I don’t seem to be aging much, for sure. I feel great, physically. No dementia, no memory loss—if anything my mind seems to be better than ever.”

“Some people get all the luck,” I winced. My legs were sore from all the walking, and the rest of me was sore from… well, all the sex.

“Depends on how you look at it. Outliving everyone I care about kind of sucks.”

I bet. You could see the pain in his eyes, even though he was making light of it.

“How do you even cope with that?”

“A lot of survivor’s guilt at first, and then just managing the practicality of this life,” he said. “I saw some of the worst fighting this world has ever seen, some of it really up close. Even if I’d aged normally, that’s a lot of folks lost, and so, so much death.” He frowned, and sat heavily on the chair. “I had to see all those damned pink triangles in Buchenwald. Bodies stacked like cordwood for being gay, or Jewish, or …”

“I’m sorry,” I said, feeling helpless.

“Yeah. But the point is, there was lots to feel awful about for a good long stretch last century. On some level, I worked it out of my system. And I eventually realized that having to start over every so often meant a really clean slate. You can reinvent yourself. So much to see, to learn, to do.”

“Remarkably positive attitude,” I said.

“I’m not saying there weren’t some very rough patches for my mental health. But I have the advantage of seeing the long game. I can’t imagine how James would have reacted to the Civil Rights movement. People today, they think progress has stalled, but they’re blind to so much of it—a hundred years after James, we could be legally married. Just imagine! A black man and a white man, openly loving each other without fear.”

“Maybe around here. Wouldn’t try it in Alabama.”

“They think I’m too dark down there. I once got pulled over by a cop outside of Mobile, because I looked a little dark to be in that neighborhood. I got looks in post-war Germany, too—I just tan really easily and inherited my grandfather’s Mediterranean skin tone, and his curly hair.”

“I bet he was handsome.”

“I suppose. My mother was considered pretty.” A tear gathered in the corner of his eye, and he shook his head a bit. “Damn, I haven’t talked about any of this in literally decades. See what you do to me?”

“Me? You’re the cradle-robber here, sir.”

“Good luck convincing anyone of that,” he chuckled. We sat in silence for a few minutes.

“So why tell me all this? Isn’t it a risk?”

He leaned back in the chair running a hand dramatically through his mop of dark curls. “Oh, Josh,” he said. “I told you because you asked, and because I’ve managed to become a pretty good judge of character. And because I’m seriously falling for you.”

Fuck. I wasn’t ready for it to be… mutual. I figured it would just be a fling, a harmless…

“Bet you’re regretting going through my wallet now,” he said.

“Wait just a minute, mister. I told you, I was putting yours—”

“Relax, I’m teasing,” he said. “Do you know, in just a day together, I’ve smiled more genuinely than I have in years? I’ve talked more about myself than i have in decades. You coax that out of me, you know. And somehow, I know I can trust you.”

“I’m flattered.”

“Josh, I’ve been thinking about this since we met,” he said, earnestly. “It’s entirely possible that, subconsciously, I dropped that wallet for you to find. Who knows? What I do know is that a very long time ago, when James gave me this gift, he told me he just knew it was right to do so, that I was the one he needed to be complete. I didn’t really understand until tonight, but now…”

“I understand now. It’s like there’s this spark, and I know—I *know*—that you could come with me. If you want to, of course.”

Looking back, of course he was building up to this. All his little questions, feeling me out, talking about frivolities and stuff that actually matters. He saw something, and felt me out

I never believed in love at first sight. Lust, attraction, fondness? Sure. I’d had lovers, I’d had boyfriends (and one girlfriend, back in college) over the years, and a few friends with benefits. It had been ages since my last proper relationship and that hadn’t lasted too long. I’d always kept something back. Never fully committed.

And here I was, a little over two days after meeting this guy, and he is literally offering me a lifetime commitment.

At least.

“You probably want to think about it,” he said. “It’s a lot, right?”

“It almost felt like a proposal,” I said.

“Good,” he said. “Because as far as I can tell, this is a one-way trip.”

He drained his coffee and leaned back.

“How much time can you give me?”

“As long as you want. I do have to fly overseas tomorrow, though. Business nonsense. But we have tonight, if you’re not going anywhere. Miss your flight, stay with me, and we’ll see if I can’t wrangle an answer out of you.”

“This is your idea of flirting? Hey, sexy, want to be immortal lovers together?”

“You get pretty snarky when you’re wound up,” he grinned. “But I get it. Probably came on a little strong.”

“More like it’s my default setting. I’ve been on my best behavior all week, you just made me slip up,” I said.

“I want nothing more than several lifetimes of days like today, with you, Josh.”

“Oh, just that.”

“Just that.”

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We set the matter aside, by unspoken agreement, for a few hours. He didn’t press me, and let me busy myself with checking my email, getting my stuff from the hotel, and so forth. He insisted on going with me to collect my things. At very least, one more night with this guy wasn’t something I cared to miss out on. I just found the idea of decades, even centuries, a little daunting.

We’d no sooner dropped my stuff in his suite than the heavens decided to empty themselves, and we ended up cuddling and watching a movie as we dozed. The storm was really intense, and lasted until early evening. We found an Indian place for dinner, and took an uber over because it was still pretty rainy out.

Somehow, I set aside the thought of a momentous decision, and we talked about other stuff. Feeling each other out on minor controversies, and teasing out morsels of unguarded opinions. He had strong feelings about fusion cuisine, about tipping, about political stuff and social issues. So did I, but they were mostly compatible with his. Neither of us felt strongly about pineapples on pizza, though he insisted that they be charred or grilled a bit. Neither of us were following any sports, but we weren’t anti-sport. It was no shock that Captain America was his favorite Avenger. Mine was Doctor Strange. He preferred Jazz and I preferred blues.

I joked a little about not knowing someone truly properly until you’ve been in the room with them after curry and daal, and he chuckled. Hard to scare a guy who’d served in three wars with the threat of curry farts. The food was great and the service attentive—the hot Indian guy waiting on us was smitten, I think. He told us his favorite Avenger was Spider-man, and that set off a debate about whether Spidey counted, until I pointed out that he was officially invited by Tony—and Gabriel pointed out that Doctor Strange wasn’t officially invited. He had me there. I teased him that old people weren’t usually into comic book stuff.

It really confused our waiter, I’m sure.

Gabriel insisted on paying. There was a phone number with the check, and the name Sunil.

The rain had let up, so we walked back, and managed to find a gelato place. I realized with a start that we’d both shared a lick and a bite of each other’s without even thinking about it.

It was almost frightening how fast we’d fallen into a level of intimacy and familiarity.

And so, about a block from the hotel, I knew what my answer would be.

 

Part 6

Back in the room, we took turns in the bathroom, so when he emerged he found me sitting on the bed.

“What’s the look for?” he asked. “I left the fan running but you might want to give it a few…”

“Yes.”

He paused, his eyes registering a bit of surprise. “By yes, you mean…”

“Yes, I’ll join you. Or at least, I think I want to. But I have questions.”

“Oh my god,” he said, and sat down heavily. Then he squealed a bit and gave me a huge hug.

“Yeah. So this connection—I felt it too. No point in denying that. If you’d just asked to marry me, this would be a lot simpler.”

“If that’s what you want, I’m game.”

“But getting married would mean maybe 20 years if we’re lucky, normally. What you’re offering? It’s a lot longer. And we’ve known each other for just a weekend,” I said, trying my best to be calm and logical. “So I need to understand what I’m saying yes to.”

“Of course, of course!”

I asked some rather pointed questions, and I sensed nothing but honesty in his responses.

First, all that really had to happen was for us to agree, and for him to fuck my brains out, which I was already game for. It would only work with both of us being willing–and, not to be indelicate, we both needed to ingest a bit of the other. And when I woke, it would start.

Second, for him at least, the process was akin to peeling dead skin after a suburn. It didn’t hurt, but you could tell it was happening and it was occasionally uncomfortable. I’d probably tone up a bit, put on a bit of muscle and size, or maybe not. It might be different for different people, but James had not been surprised by any of Gabriel’s changes.

Third, yes, he would help me with papers and identity stuff whenever I was ready. He had the know-how and connections.

Fourth was the tough one. What happened if we found we weren’t compatible?

“No idea,” he said. “I never got the chance to try it before.”

“Forever is a pretty long time, Gabriel. People change and grow apart sometimes. What happens if I’m stuck forever and we fall out of love as easily as we fall into it?”

He had no answers there.

“I need to know I have options. You’ve read the Anne Rice stuff. What if we grew to hate each other? I don’t want to be Lestat and Louis.”

“I get it,” he said, a pensive look on his face. “What I can promise is we’ll get you set up for life. I may not have mentioned it, but I’m… kinda loaded.”

“I kind of breezed past that,” I confessed. “But I’m not here for the money.”

“Of course not. But having something of your own to fall back on, to make sure you have independence? Least I could do, and it would keep any weird power dynamic out of the relationship. I’ll get my guy to draw something up. Is fifty million enough to manage on?”

I confess, I was a little gobsmacked, and then chuckled. “Cute.”

“I’m being dead serious. We can do it as a prenup, if you like.”

“Fuck, how much do you have?”

“Technically, I’m two of the richest men in this country, and one of the richest in Europe. A little bit of a trick to that, obviously, but since all three of those names are notedly private and reclusive, the bit that I use myself is still more than I ever dreamed of having. It lost its luster pretty quickly alone.”

“It definitely has some perks. When I was into it, I bought art that cost more than $50M during the dot com boom. But I think you could live pretty comfortably on your own with that much, if you invest smartly.”

“You’re kidding. You’d just give me that kind of money?”

He shrugged. “In my case, I literally can’t take it with me, since apparently I’m not going to go anywhere. I haven’t touched the principle in almost a decade, and I pay my taxes and donate obscene amounts to charities. It’s just a way to make this life possible, far as I’m concerned.”

That was just a crazy life-changing amount of money.

“I can have my guy draw up papers in a couple days,” he said. “No strings. Fuck, Josh, it’s worth if for what we have right now. If we just had a few months together, and it was like this, I’d consider it well spent. But I have learned to think a bit more long-term. That art I mentioned? Bought for about 54 and sold four years later for 70. I liked it, but didn’t love the work itself. I just saw the potential.”

We talked a bit more, broadly, about logistics, but fuck, I was ready. Who wouldn’t be?

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

If I’m honest, the thought of what I was about to do, and what it meant, lent a frisson of excitement to the proceedings. It nearly threw off our game, at least at first.

But it quickly passed, and we moved quickly through some hurried foreplay, intent on heading for a prolonged main event. I remember disappointingly little of it—just some intense kissing, the electric thrill of his gentle touch moving slowly down my torso, and a feeling of anticipation. Before long we were going at it full throttle, and I won’t claim it was a virtuoso performance. It was just very raw, like a dam was about to burst, the whole way through. And then we managed to time our mutual orgasm perfectly.

“Was that it?” I said, panting.

“Pretty sure,” he said, smiling.

“Pass me that water bottle, give me ten or fifteen minutes to recover a bit. And then maybe we should try again, just to make sure.”

 

Part 7

I woke up gasping, sweating like crazy, and feeling like I was being deep-fried in hot pepper oil.

I wasn’t terribly quiet about it, but was too overstimulated to feel too worried about the noise I was making. Gabriel was nowhere in sight as I lay there, panting and writhing as small spasms wracked my spine. Had he infected me with some horrible curse, or worse, a disease? And then left me to die?

But my fears were stupid; he came in with the ice bucket and some hand towels he’d soaked in it, and lay the freezing cloth on my hot skin. The relief was almost instant.

“I’m sorry you’re suffering,” he said. “I think we can be fairly sure it took, though.”

It took a moment to register, and I looked down to find an unfamiliar torso.

“Fuck,” I said. I wasn’t ripped but I’d probably moved 20 pounds from flab to firm.

“Not till you’re done cooking,” Gabriel smiled. “I have some ointment here that may help later, but for now I’m just worried about keeping you cool.”

He leaned over and kissed me on the cheek. “Does it hurt much?”

“It’s no picnic,” I said. “I woke up on fire!”

“Same, when I went through this. What’s weird is that after a bit, I registered the heat but it didn’t actually hurt much at all. It was just uncomfortable. Hope it’s like that for you,” he said.

“Me too, but it’s—aaaagh.”

Ever had a cramp? How about a full-body cramp? Yeah, not fun, but man it sucks when it’s pretty much your whole body seizing up like that. Not recommended at all.

My body was doing its own thing, adjusting to whatever gave Gabriel his mojo, for at least an hour. And then, it just turned into a dull, exhausted, ache—like I’d been to one hell of a party the night before.

“You’ll want to eat,” my angel said.

“I want to puke,” I said. “I still feel a bit nauseated.”

“It’ll pass when you eat. You probably didn’t hear it but I ordered a hell of a room service spread.”

I bitched about it the whole way, staggering mostly naked over to the little seating area. The lethargy was worse than when I had COVID and could barely make it to the bathroom.

But damned if he wasn’t right—I felt better almost as soon as the first few bites hit my stomach. It leeched away as I tore into the lunch. Some kind of chicken soup, a few bread rolls, a big salad, a chicken breast over pasta in a cream sauce. I left nothing on the plates or bowls, and I felt like a pig. But Gabriel just smiled and pushed his plate over. He’d opted for steak salad and there were a few bites left. In they went, along with a slice of cake.

“I can order dessert,” he said. “Well, more dessert. If you’re hungry later.”

I strongly considered it, but already the reaction was starting again.

“Ah, this part isn’t fun either,” he said, and guided me over to the bathroom. “It isn’t going to be pretty.”

I will spare the details, but the fat I’d lost had to go somewhere, and after several rounds, I felt empty again and the heat had started up again just after I laid back down on the bed.

“Why don’t you take a nice cool shower while I order up some more food,” Gabriel suggested.

“I just ate,” I said.

“That was about two hours ago, before you had your marathon bathroom break and half-hour nap.”

Dinner seemed to be about quantity, but i have to say, the hotel kitchen wasn’t bad. Huge salads, a mound of pasta, and two huge pork chops. While we ate that, a second round came, this time pot roast with all the traditional trimmings.

Gabriel laughed and ate a bit of each thing, watching me helpless to stop stuffing my face.

“If you take photos, I swear—”

“Fantastic idea,” he said, quickly pulling out his phone. “We’ll laugh later. Kind of wish I was into feeder kink.”

My stomach felt tight and uncomfortably full, but when I looked down, you’d never know. In fact pretty much everything was being used up to fuel whatever was happening to me.

The rest, apparently, was going right into muscles I hadn’t earned. By the time it started getting dark—and we’d ordered “snacks” that amounted to yet another full meal—I finally felt like things were settling down.

“I guess it’s a good time now to mention that you’ve put away a lot of food. I can’t wait to see how this plays out.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean that I packed on a little muscle and maybe an inch of height—but you probably put away three times what I did.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, really. Maybe you should put off checking yourself out for a bit while it all settles—because I can tell you, it is not going to your belly.”

I glanced down briefly and found that the newfound firmness was evolving into a serious four-pack.

“Ah-ah! No peeking, Josh. I’m tempted to blindfold you.”

“So that’s your kink,” I joked.

“Nah, but let’s save a bit for later.” He pulled a sheet loose and tied it around my neck, so that my body was completely covered. “That way you can be surprised and so can I. Okay?”

“Okay,” I said.

“I could tie you up, if you want. But mostly I’m just trying to preserve the mystique of what’s happening to you, right?”

While the idea of being tied up—by Gabriel, at least—was interesting, I opted out. I was already overstimulated.

“Try not to feel yourself up—we can do that together in a few hours,” he smiled, lecherously.

I lasted maybe 20 minutes before I begged him to keep me from touching myself.

“Oh, my dear, dear boy…” he said, climbing over the bed. “I think I have a better idea…”

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

True to his word, I didn’t spend much time touching myself that night—even though I really wanted to—because he guided my hands to his own fantastic body, even as he freely roamed mine.

And there was, increasingly, more to roam on mine.

I felt like my whole body was one big erogenous zone, but even so, certain areas were especially sensitive.

My dick in particular, seemed to have multiplied the nerve endings even more than the tissue would suggest. Which is saying a lot given how much more dick I was sporting. Yesterday morning, I’d been average, around 6 inches, and not super thick.

I was currently pushing 8 considerably girthy inches into a straining, throbbing erection that didn’t feel like it had subsided in hours. Heftier balls, too—mine had been nothing special before—but there wasn’t any real change in sensitivity. Instead, they were just ..meatier. They seemed to enjoy being grabbed and gently tugged by Gabriel’s large hands.

I know we made love a lot that day, and I know that by the time we took a break to shit, shower, and shovel more food into me, the place reeked of what we’d been doing. Between our sweat and various fluids, the sheets were probably a loss.

“Who cares?” Gabriel laughed. “If they charge me for them, so what?”

“I can’t help it,” I laughed. “Those are not cheap Motel 6 sheets and I’d be tempted to burn them.”

“Go shower, I’ll deal with this,” he laughed.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Ten minutes later, I felt much better (I’d rubbed one out in the bathroom again), and I strutted out of the bathroom completely naked, drying my hair.

“Hey Gabe, I”m—”

“Not alone,” my lover said.

There, halfway done changing the bedsheets, was a wide-eyed kid in his twenties, and if I could have, I’d have had his open-mouthed expression of disbelief made into my desktop pattern. He was Latino, with ruddy skin and black-as-night hair, and he was compact but quite fit, as his slightly-undersized uniform confirmed.

He mumbled something under his breath as he stood there, looking like a deer in headlights.

“Babe, this is Carlos,” Gabriel said. “He’s come to help us out with the mess.”

“Mess,” Carlos agreed, still sort of in a daze.

“I probably should have opened up a window before I let him in,” Gabe said. “I sometimes forget how overwhelming we can be.”

“We?” I said, quickly grabbing a towel for some semblance of modesty.

“Well, me for sure. And probably you, too, by now.”

Carlos stirred, finally, shaking his head vigorously.

“I am sooo sorry, I completely zoned out,” Carlos said. “Please don’t be embarrassed, I assure you this is not the worst mess I’ve seen.”

“I’d imagine anyone who left a mess of this sort was eager to leave quickly…” I said.

“I can come back,” Carlos offered.

“When do you get off work?”

Carlos looked confused. “Umm. I work until 8 tonight. Why?”

“I’m sure you could guess. We’ll try to get out of your way so you can do your job, for now. But while you’re swapping out the bedding, you might leave an extra set of sheets, just in case.”

Bemused, I watch poor Carlos process the offer with a very cute, quizzical, look in his eyes. For his modesty, I changed in the bathroom, and then sat with Gabriel on the sofa.

“Hope you don’t mind if we watch you work,” I joked. But then I whispered into Gabriel’s ear: “What’s that all about?”

“You’re about to hit a crescendo,” he replied. “Like, for probably a day or so. Figured you might appreciate a little variety, and I wanted you to know I was okay with it.”

“Crescendo,” I said. “Odd way to put it.”

“You’ll understand.”

Carlos was maddeningly efficient, once he tuned out the two horny bastards watching him work. The place was pretty spotless (other than where we sat) within 10 minutes. He did frown (and quickly cover it up) when he pulled the soggy, stained sheets off the bed and stuffed them into the laundry bin. As promised, he left a few spares.

“Will we see you at 8?”

“...I’m not sure,” he muttered.

“You have a few hours to figure it out. We’ll be back by 7.”

 

Part 8

“So what are we doing for the next few hours?” I asked. “I’m not exactly dressed for the theater…”

“Oh, you’re going to need to burn some energy, babe,” Gabriel laughed. “And it’s nice today. Time to show off a bit.”

“Show off?” I asked. “Seriously? Is that why I’m wearing your gym stuff?”

“Well, that and not much else is going to fit. Not at the rate you’re going,” he said. “We’ll do a few laps around the Mall, and when we need to refuel, there’s a ton of food trucks. And a sporting goods store where we can buy something for you to wear.”

He wasn’t wrong about the need for clothing; just about everything I had with me (all but one old pair of backup khakis from before I lost the weight, which I’d packed by mistake) was a tight squeeze. At least now it was for a more satisfying reason. My current underwear was stretchier than I’d feared, but it was getting crowded—I tried not to think about it but things would get obscene pretty fast.

As it happened, the weather had turned very nice, and I didn’t look as out of place in my skin-tight tee and gym shorts as I’d feared. What I hadn’t expected was the stares Gabriel and I drew as we jogged around the Mall and various adjacent memorials and parkland. He kept easy pace with me, and then I him, as we took turns leading the way—and getting enviable views of each other’s enviable asses. When he decided to tease me by running faster, I found myself catching up without killing myself. The route was relatively flat but there were people all over the place, and occasionally we’d have to stop to cross a street or to avoid some other obstacle.

I’d never really loved or hated running, or jogging. I saw cardio as a necessary evil. But now, my enhanced body seemed to thoroughly enjoy the process of moving its ever-growing mass around. We’d done two laps around the mall and tidal basin—something like 10 miles all told—when I realized I’d barely broken a sweat. At worst I was a little “dewey” as my old aunt Gloria would have put it. So when we stopped at a crossing, I signaled a stop.

“What’s up?”

“I’m a little freaked out because I’m not hating the run,” I said. “Seems silly to complain but it feels a little weird to be barely sweating.”

“You can always try pushing yourself a little harder,” he grinned. “We’re about to hit the Tidal Basin—why not go all-out and we’ll see what you’re capable of now?”

That sounded oddly good to me, and when the light changed, I tore off, nimbly maneuvering around the crowd and just sprinting full out. My lungs gulped air with a smoothness I don’t think I’d ever known, and the wind in my ears became quite loud. I got curious, so I slowed down near the far end of the trail and tapped my watch a few times. Then I raced back, pushing as hard as I could. I caught quick reactions from people as I zoomed past them, all seeming surprised.

When I checked, I done a little less than a mile in about five and a half minutes. That seemed pretty fast—but a quick bit of googling shocked me; that was elite athlete level performance, and I wasn’t even done cooking yet.

Gabriel had been pacing me the whole time, but let me zoom ahead.

“The look on your face,” he chuckled. “How’d you do?”

“Under six minutes, which is fucking fantastic.”

“I should get one of those watches, you’ve got me curious.”

“Just borrow mine and see what you can do,” I said. “I’ll grab a snack.”

“Nah, just wait for me,” he said, grinning. Then, wearing my apple watch, he tapped the button and tore off.

The fucker did it in 3 minutes, 58 seconds.

“Gabriel, that’s almost the world record! Less than a thousand people in history have done it in under 4 minutes.”

“Oh,” he said. “That’s kinda cool.”

“Kinda cool?” I was flummoxed. “Dude, you’re barely sweating and you’re clearly not winded.”

“I told you, endurance is a perk.”

“I thought you meant in the bedroom,”

“That too.”

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

We grabbed a snack—a couple of half smokes, fries, and bottles of water—and sprawled in the grass where it wasn’t quite so crowded. He’d advised I pick up an extra one, and he was right; I practically inhaled the first one.

“I think I ate a whole damned pot of army hash my first day,” he said.

“Is it going to be like this all the time?”

“For a day or two, while you’re processing whatever makes us like this. I have to say, though, I think it’s hitting you pretty hard. Harder than it hit me.”

I looked at the arm holding the sausage, and realized there was a lot more arm than I was used to. Then I looked down and realized the shirt had ridden up and I could see my belly button.

“Fuck, I didn’t even notice,” I muttered.

“I think when you finish here, we should run over to the sporting goods place. They should have something for you there, but we’ll probably need to do a little more shopping tomorrow.”

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • •

One quick stop at a high end sporting goods store later, I had a few pairs of shorts, a pack of larger underwear, and some undergear shirts—at least two sizes larger than usual.

“I spend over a year busting my ass to relocate 20 pounds and now I’ve got to buy oversize clothes again,” I groused.

“This is all temporary—we’ll order some stuff before we leave town. Meanwhile, we’re going to want to hustle back if we’re going to beat Carlos to our room.”

Ah yes, Carlos, the sheet wrangler whom Gabriel had invited back to join us. I still wasn’t sure how I felt about that.

We made it to the room by 7:45, and found a large fruit basket and some wine and cheese waiting for us, plus a message on a large sticky note. It read: “See you at 8—Carlos”.

Guess I was about to find out.

8 parts 14k words Added May 2023 Updated 11 Nov 2023 7,078 views 4.8 stars (12 votes)

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