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.

Added: May 2023 5,200 words 2,132 views 4.8 stars (4 votes)

Contents (2 parts, 2 new)

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.”


“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.

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.”

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—”


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.

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.

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.”

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.

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.

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.

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?”


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.


“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*.

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.


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