"Tag, You're It, Part 11"
By: Melissa and Cathy
By the next afternoon, John was fully moved into Tag's house. Or, as Tag put it, their house. Tag made a quick inventory of his pantry and the fridge, and decided that a trip to the store was in order. The two of them playfully argued for five minutes over who would go to get groceries. Finally, John gave in with a grin.
"I'll go. But, I have to warn you right now, that I won't be held accountable for what I come back with."
"Here's the list. It's pretty simple."
"That's what you think. Do you really want to know just how many times I've been in a grocery store?"
Tag saw the delighted look in John's eyes and decided that the answer was one he didn't want or need to hear. "Just go get the groceries."
John tucked the list in his pocket, made sure he had his checkbook, then headed for the front door.
Both he and Carol Hathaway were equally surprised when he opened the door just as she was getting ready to ring the doorbell.
"Carter? What are you doing here at Tag's?" she asked.
"Um, I was just leaving. Uh, I guess I'll see you later," he stammered. He was just about to step past her when he felt Tag come up behind him.
"Carol. What brings you here?" he apprehensively asked.
"We need to return the wedding gifts and most of them are here. Can I come in?" She couldn't help but notice that Tag's arm was now around John Carter's waist.
"Sure." Tag pulled John aside to make enough room for Carol to enter the house. "You forgot to kiss me good bye."
John could feel Carol's eyes boring into him as Tag gave him a passionate kiss. He immediately felt angry with Tag for putting on a show in front of her. He liked Carol Hathaway and didn't want to see her hurt. But, this was not the time to get into a fight with Tag. As soon as Tag broke off the kiss, John was out the door, closing it firmly behind him.
He rushed to the sidewalk, almost colliding with the woman who lived next door.
"Sorry," he said as he reached out to steady the petite redhead. He noticed her crutch and immediately chided himself for nearly knocking her over. Sometimes he could be such a clumsy fool.
"That's okay, but from now on, you really need to watch out where you're going. I know that you live next door to me, but we haven't met yet. I'm Kerry Weaver."
"John Carter. I live with John Taglieri."
Kerry smiled warmly. "Must be confusing in your house."
"Not really. Everyone just calls him Tag."
"And what do they call you?"
"Normal people call me John, the people at the hospital call me Carter," he joked.
"Oh? Are you a doctor?"
"Medical student. Tag's an orthopedic surgeon. What do you do?"
"I'm a doctor. Right now I'm working in the emergency room at Mount Sinai."
"Really? I just finished a trauma surgical rotation at County General."
"So you want to be a surgeon?"
He nodded. "Well, it was nice to meet you. I've got to get to the store or we won't have anything to eat for supper tonight."
"I was headed that way, too. Do you mind if we walk together?"
"It's not a problem." They began to head toward the store.
"Good. Since I just moved into the neighborhood I have no idea of where everything is and what there is to do around here. Maybe you can give me some pointers."
He laughed. "I don't think I can help you out, Kerry. I just moved in with Tag the day before yesterday."
"Oh." She chewed on her lower lip, then asked. "Moved in as roommates or moved in as bedmates?"
"You're certainly a direct person, aren't you?"
"Yes, I am. I hope I didn't offend you, but I don't want to end up embarrassing myself in the future by making a pass at someone who's taken. In case you didn't know it, you are a very handsome man." She smiled up at him, liking the way he blushed at the compliment and hoping that the answer would be in her favor.
"Ah, well. We're a couple." He held up his left hand and the sunlight glinted at the wedding ring.
"I had heard from other neighbors that Taglieri was on his honeymoon, but I remember them mentioning a person named Carol, not John."
"It's a long story. A very long story."
"I have time, provided you feel like telling it."
John thought about that for a moment. While it was true that he didn't know Kerry Weaver, she was his neighbor and there was something about her that made him want to trust her. It wasn't as if there was anyone in his own family that he could talk with. She hadn't made a face or a rude comment about him being with Tag and that was a good sign. Maybe it wouldn't be so bad to make a new friend, someone he could trust.
"Tag and Carol's wedding day and the last day of my surgical rotation just happened to be the same day," he began. He then found himself telling her about Tag's asking him to go on the trip to Hawaii and Paris, then he told her about the wedding. He left out the intimate details, but found himself telling her about being surprised when his father found them in Paris and what his father had done in retaliation. Kerry was easy to talk with and she didn't appear to judge him or Tag. She also didn't attack his father, she simply mentioned that she hoped she never got on his bad side.
Back inside the house, Carol seethed with hurt and anger as she faced Tag. She had been feeling embarrassed enough by the rumor going around the hospital that Tag had been asked to resign because he had seduced a medical student. Carol had not believed that. Not for one minute. For one thing, the student was never named. For another, it had not been that long ago when he was professing his undying love for her. Love that was strong, but not strong enough to handle her not loving him the same way. And now she had proof that not only was the rumor true, but that the student was none other than John Carter. She wasn't sure what made her the angriest - that Tag had found someone else so quickly or that he had gone after Carter.
"You know, there are rumors going around the hospital that you're involved with a student, but I wouldn't let myself believe them. I figured it was gossip -- maybe the truth got twisted somehow. Then I found out you went on our honeymoon trip after all."
"I paid for it, so why the hell not take the trip?" Tag interjected. He resolutely put the thought that John Carter had actually paid for half of the trip out of his mind. Carol certainly wouldn't find that out.
"Let me finish. You take the trip, and I figure -- why not? It must have been difficult for you, too...you deserved to get away. Now I find out the rumors were true, and I find out like this - you shoving your tongue down a man's throat right in front of me. Grabbing his ass like you own him. If he hadn't left, would I have gotten the whole floorshow? Maybe you'd like me to see you on your knees in front of him." Carol made a face, obviously disgusted at the image. "And why did you have to pick John Carter? Dammitt Tag! He's just an innocent boy. How in the Hell can you justify what you've done? Just how long have you been going around seducing boys?"
"That's sick, Carol, and it's not true. For one thing, John's not a boy. I didn't seduce him, and I was never unfaithful to you -- never. That's more than I could say for you." Tag wasn't surprised at Carol's anger, but this snide streak was new. As usual when baited, he seemingly couldn't stop himself from saying the first thing that came to mind."
"At least I didn't go out and suck the first cock offered after I left the church," Carol whispered angrily.
"That's only because Doug didn't volunteer."
Carol snorted in disgust. "Thank God I didn't marry you after all. You have this nice-guy exterior, and underneath it all, you're just a bastard. You know, Carter deserves better than you. He really is a decent guy. Obviously he can't see you for what you are, so maybe I'll tell his family. They've always been pretty interested in who he sees."
"Go ahead. They know all about us."
"Does your family know, Tag?" The look on his face told her that they didn't. She shook her head, feeling disgusted with Tag. "I'll call you to make arrangements for returning the gifts. I just can't the thought of staying in this house one more minute." She frowned, then added, "You know, I've finally realized why you hated Doug so much. All along, I thought it was because you thought I had feelings for him, and you were jealous. Now I realize it was because you knew he didn't want you, and you couldn't stand that. I bet you've chased every pair of pants in the hospital, haven't you? Carter probably doesn't know that, does he? Maybe I should let him know what kind of man you really are."
"I think it's past time for you to leave," Tag said. He walked to the front door and opened it, then stood there waiting for her to leave.
Carol's eyes narrowed as she debated about whether or not to leave. The gifts could wait, but she had started moving some of her things into the house before the wedding and she wanted her stuff back. Still, with Tag in such a foul mood, she didn't want to press her luck and ask him to give her time to gather her things. There would be time for that later.
Tag watched as Carol stalked out of the house and then he slammed the door loudly behind her. It was a childish thing to do, but it felt good just the same. He had known that his first encounter with Carol after the wedding would be a tense one, but he had not been prepared for her vindictiveness. Thank God that John had left for the store and didn't end up hearing all of that, he thought.
"Tag, it's for you," John held the receiver out for Tag.
Tag dried his hands, then took the phone, taking the opportunity to land a quick kiss on John's cheek as they passed each other. John blushed becomingly and Tag had to stifle his chuckle as he spoke into the mouthpiece.
"This is Tag."
"John, we've had some very disturbing news about you," a tightly controlled voice said.
Shit. It was his mother. Tag then remembered that Carol had threatened to call his parents and tell them what he had done after leaving her at the church. He had a sick feeling in the bottom of his stomach that Carol had followed through on that threat.
"Momma, you know that you can't believe everything you hear."
"I would think that I could trust Carol Hathaway. After all, you did almost marry her, didn't you?"
He pulled a chair out from the kitchen table and wearily sat down. This was going to be a long and difficult conversation. He just prayed that his father wasn't going to come on the line to talk to him as well. He wasn't feeling quite up to defending himself to both of them.
In the living room, John served Kerry dessert. He had impulsively invited her for dinner because she had been so helpful to him in the grocery store. Tag hadn't minded the invitation, in fact, he had been glad to have a chance to show off his culinary skills.
Kerry had enjoyed dinner and had issued an invitation for them to join her for dinner later that week. She liked John and Tag. She still thought it was a shame they weren't available to date, but she couldn't deny that they made a good couple. Each man was charming and handsome. John had an undeniable ability to put people at ease and she found herself thinking that he was going to waste that ability by pursuing a surgical residency. An ability like that would be put to good use in emergency medicine where he could quickly reassure trauma victims and put them at ease. But, his residency wasn't her concern. She didn't even work at the same hospital.
"Tag should be out shortly. He just got a phone call."
"No problem. This is a good pie. Who made it?"
John grinned. "You had to lead me by the hand through the grocery store and you don't know who can cook and who can't in this family?"
She laughed. "I already knew the answer, John. I was just trying to be polite."
"Kerry, you don't have to worry about hurting my feelings. I have no problem admitting that I can't cook. I can't do laundry either."
"How did you survive college?"
"I was lucky in that my sister was already attending the same college. For several years in fact. Barbara had some difficulty deciding on a major. She took good care of me, making sure I was properly fed and even did the laundry."
Kerry shook her head. She prided herself on being self-sufficient and it was beyond her how someone could grow up, go away to school and come back not being able to fend for himself.
"Well, maybe we should change the subject before I decide to take you under my wing and teach you how to do all of that," she laughed.
"I dunno. It might be a favor to Tag if you did. I'm not the best housemate in the world."
"I somehow doubt that he fell in love with you for your housekeeping skills, John. But, those are skills that can be learned, so if you really do want my help, just call me."
"Thanks. I'll keep that offer in mind."
"So, you mentioned before that you barely got a surgical sub-I. I suppose that you're looking forward to that."
"Yeah." John rubbed at his temples, wishing away his headache. Wishing wasn't working. He sighed. "I'll still be working with Dr. Benton, but I know his ways now, so that won't be so bad. Tag has offered to pay for my last year of medical school, but I think I'm going to see if I can get financial aid first."
"You'll be working with Peter Benton?"
"Yes. Do you know him?"
Kerry nodded. "As a matter of fact, I do. He's a very - reserved man."
John laughed. "That's one way to put it."
"I think you might have to take Tag up on his offer to pay though. The fact that your parents have paid for your education up to this point will not be in your favor when you apply for financial aid. They want to see someone who really needs the money and can show a need for it."
"But, I do need the money. Or at least, I will. I do have a trust fund, but I don't know how long I can rely on having that. My grandparents set it up, but I'm sure that once they find out about me and Tag that they'll stop it. I have invested my money, but it won't be enough for tuition. Still, it should show them that I'm not wasteful."
Kerry looked at his hopeful face and sighed. John had no idea about how loan officers thought. "John, they won't be happy until you've used up every cent of your own money."
"I have no idea. They just seem to feel that a person or family should go broke in order to pay for an education. Once you're broke, you can get financial aid."
John shook his head, "But, I knew guys at Penn, rich kids, who got loans and grants for school."
"Some people know how to play the game."
"I think someone forgot to tell me that it was a game."
Tag came into the living room then. "What game are we talking about?"
"The financial aid game," Kerry said.
Tag looked over at John. "I told you that I would pay for your last year, John. I meant it when I said it and I still mean it."
"I know. I just wish you didn't feel obligated to do that."
"It's because of me that your father won't pay."
Kerry could feel a new tension in the air, so she decided to change the topic again.
"Tag, the apple pie was just delicious. I don't know what I'm going to fix that will compare with dinner tonight."
"You don't have to try to surpass dinner, Kerry. I don't often get a chance to cook an elaborate meal. In the past, it's mostly been just me here. Even when Carol was living with me, our schedules didn't always mesh together, so we often ate separately."
Kerry saw John stiffen a little at the mention of Carol's name. It really wasn't a good idea for Tag to have brought up her name that way in front of John. She knew from their earlier conversation on the way to the store that John felt a little insecure and he didn't need reminders that Tag was once engaged to another person. And not that long ago either.
"Well, I should be getting home. I have to be to work by six, so I need to turn in early. Thank you for the wonderful dinner, guys."
John escorted Kerry to the door. "I'm looking forward to dinner at your place."
"What time do you have to report to work at Children's hospital tomorrow?" she asked.
"Oh. I was thinking that if it was earlier, we could walk down to the El together."
"I'll let you know my schedule once I find out what it will be. Then we can see which days we can do that."
"Good. Good night, Tag," Kerry called out.
"Good night," Tag called back.
John stepped out onto the porch and watched until Kerry was inside her house, then he went back inside, making sure he securely locked the door.
Tag was laying on the couch now, his eyes closed.
"You're upset," John said, kneeling down on the floor beside the couch.
"Is it that obvious?"
"It is to me. What's wrong?"
Tag opened his eyes and gazed lovingly at John. He reached out and cradled John's cheek in his hand. "That was my mother. Carol called her and my father. She didn't mince any words in telling them that we were living together as a married couple." Tag blew out a big breath. "They're very upset with me right now. And if Carol was here, I'd strangle her scrawny little neck. Several times over."
"I'm sorry, Tag."
"Don't be. It isn't your fault. I knew that they wouldn't be understanding once they found out that I didn't exclusively like women."
"Did they disown you then?"
"They didn't go quite that far. My father used some juicy words to describe my life and me now though. I think he called me a catamite lover. I guess I didn't pay enough attention in English class because I have no idea what that means. I knew what he meant when he called me a son of Sodom and Gomorrah."
"My Dad may be overbearing at times, but he's never said anything like that to me," John rested his head on Tag's chest.
"My parents were very vocal in expressing their disappointment."
Tag could feel John's sigh through his shirt. "I'm used to disappointing my parents, it seems to be something I excel at."
Tag ran his fingers through John's hair. The conversation with his parents had left him feeling like a child again and he hated feeling that way. This man in front of him was what mattered. Loving John and knowing that John loved him, no matter what. He reached up with his free hand and parted the blinds enough to be able to see that it was completely dark outside. Both he and John had to be to work in the morning, but Tag had been thinking lately of how nice it would be to go skinny-dipping in the pool with John. To make love with John in the pool.
"Hey, feel up to a swim?"
"It's getting late, isn't it?"
"It's after nine. But, taking a swim will help us relax."
"Sounds good to me," John got to his feet. "I'll go change."
Tag grabbed his hand. "No. We won't need swim trunks."
"But the neighbors will see."
"John, you heard Kerry. She was going straight to bed. And if we don't cut on any lights, the other neighbors won't see us."
John helped Tag get to his feet.
"I'll get some towels." Tag ran upstairs and grabbed two towels from the linen closet, then a tube of lube from the bedroom. When he got back downstairs, John was already undressed.
Tag grinned, "Boy, I hope I didn't twist your arm too hard to make you agree to my idea."
John smiled. "I like swimming. Heck, if you would have told me that you had an in-ground pool, I would have married you sooner."
"I'll keep that in mind for future reference."
They headed out the back door, cutting off the lights as they went. The sky was dark and there was very little ambient light from the lights on the street out front. John glanced over at Kerry's house, relieved to see that the windows were dark, as were the windows in the house on the other side of them. A privacy fence encircled the yard and Tag had landscaped it so that the fence was barely visible. The pool took up most of the backyard - the rest of it was dedicated to a brick patio complete with a huge barbecue area and a small vegetable garden. Since Tag neglected the garden, John had a feeling that it had been Carol's project. He had begun to care for it that morning, looking forward to fresh vegetables. Gardening was one thing he could do. As a child, he had faithfully followed the gardener around the estate, learning all he could as he "played" at being a gardener.
"Come on in, the water's warm," Tag said as he slipped into the shallow end of the pool.
John stepped into the pool, relieved to find that Tag had not exaggerated about the water temperature. It was warm and it felt relaxing. John let his body relax and was soon floating, letting his mind go blank.
Tag swam to the deep end, then turned around and treaded water as he watched John float. He looked so peaceful. Too peaceful. Tag grinned, then dived under, coming up right beside John, grabbing him around the waist and holding him in place.
"You're not going to get away from me this time, John," Tag laughed.
John smiled. "I don't want to get away from you, Tag. Not now or ever."
"Do you know how good it makes me feel to hear you say that?" Tag was suddenly serious. "I love you so much. Being with you, knowing that you love me, well, it makes putting up with all that shit bearable."
"If it wasn't for me, you wouldn't have to put up with all of that, Tag."
"Hush," Tag leaned down and kissed John deeply, noting with satisfaction that it didn't take long for John to become aroused.
"So, how are we going to do it in the pool?" John asked, a playful grin in place.
"Good question. I thought of the idea before I thought about how we would actually do it. I've had sex in a pool before, just not with another guy."
"Well, I'm just as clueless."
"Shouldn't be too much different from doing it in the ocean," Tag surmised, remembering the times they had made love in the Pacific.
"Salt water is a lot more buoyant."
Tag snapped his fingers. "That's it. We need something that floats. Wait here." He gave John a quick kiss, then climbed out of the pool.
John watched as Tag disappeared into the small shed that housed the pump and various pool paraphernalia. He had to quickly duck his head as an assortment of rafts came flying toward him. He began to laugh as the pool quickly filled.
"Tag, I think we have enough. More than enough." He called out.
Tag jumped back into the pool, pushing rafts out of his way so he could reach John.
"I think I got carried away," he frowned. "A person could walk across the pool right now and never get wet."
John laughed, then pulled himself up on one of the rafts. It was one of the larger ones, slightly more raft than John needed, but not quite big enough for two. Provided the two were lying side by side. In Tag's estimate, it would be plenty big enough if one of those people were laying atop the other. Plenty big enough.
Tag carefully climbed aboard the raft, keeping his movements subtle as he lowered his body on top of John's.
"This isn't going to work. The raft will flip," John laughed.
"It will work. We just have to use small movements, that's all. See?" Tag reached between their bodies to caress John. He barely had a hold on him when the raft tipped to its side, dumping them both into the pool.
John's laughter echoed through the back yard. "I told you."
"Dammitt, I will not let a raft beat me. I will make love to you in this pool if it takes me all night to figure out how to do it."
Holding onto the side of the pool, John laughed even harder than before.
"So, you think this is funny, huh?" Tag asked as he made an unsuccessful attempt to climb back on the raft.
Smirking, John could only nod. "I think there's way too many things in this pool."
John nodded. "Really." Then he noticed that he was talking to the night air. Tag was no where to be found. Frowning, John looked around the pool, wishing for a little more light so he could find Tag. Without warning, he felt hands grasp his hips and then he was pulled under. Then Tag's lips were on his and he kissed Tag back with an equal amount of ardor.
Their bodies entwined, they sank to the bottom of the pool, their mouths still connected. Finally, Tag had to break off the kiss and seek air. He broke through the surface of the pool, gasping for air as he batted a raft out of his way. Those gasps quickly turned into gasps of pleasure though as he felt John's mouth engulf his penis. Once more Tag was amazed at John's lung capacity as he waited for his lover to surface. The wait wasn't long.
John was grinning as his head emerged from the water. Without a word, he swam toward Tag, pushing the older man backward until he had him pinned against the side of the pool.
"Stay here," John commanded, then he turned around to grab a small raft.
Tag immediately saw what John had in mind and as John's body pressed back against his own, he reached out and grabbed him around the waist, holding him in place. As John used the raft to hold up his body, Tag impaled him. With one arm flung over the edge of the pool to keep his own body from floating away, Tag began a slow thrusting. But he knew that wouldn't last for long. His need and desire for the man in front of him was too great for him to continue at a slow pace.
"This is so good," Tag said as the cool of the water lapped against his heated body.
"God, yes. Don't stop, Tag."
"I wasn't planning on stopping," Tag grinned, then began to concentrate more on satisfying his lover, even as he could feel his own orgasm quickly approaching. With a cry, he thrust home hard, crushing their bodies together.
"That was nice," John murmured as he turned around and hugged Tag.
"Glad you liked it. Now, what to do about you?" Tag grinned as he reached down and slowly caressed John's erection. "Sit up on the side of the pool."
John lifted himself out of the pool and perched on the edge. "Wouldn't this be easier in the shallow end?"
"Yes, but definitely not as much fun." Tag answered as he grabbed hold of John's legs and positioned himself so he could gain easy access to John's penis. He slowly lowered his mouth down the rigid shaft, engulfing it in a tight warmth as he sucked off the water from the pool. He let go of the penis, then lazily licked the water off of John's balls and upper thighs.
With a heavy sigh, John lay back upon the cement apron of the pool, letting himself simply enjoy the sensations. As Tag played around with him, taking his time, John found himself wishing that their life together could be as simple and wonderful as it was right that minute. Their only worry about how to manage to make out in the pool and not have to worry about their parents or work or Carol. He gasped suddenly as Tag's mouth took him by surprise, and suddenly nothing else mattered at all. Nothing except for John Taglieri.