"Tag, You're It, Part 7"
By: Melissa and Cathy
The next morning, John awoke feeling refreshed. His headache was finally gone and he wanted to enjoy the day - and Tag. They had gone out walking, just enjoying the everyday life of Paris. Lunch was partaken of at a quaint outdoor café, then they returned to their hotel room. They spent several hours making love, then they showered and dressed so they could go out to the cabaret with Barbara and Janie. The show had been funny and enjoyable and all four of them had a great time. Afterward, they had a late dinner, then parted company.
Once back in their room, making love had seemed like a perfect thing to do and they had approached the activity with great enthusiasm. Afterward, they had lain in each other's arms, talking about the day and what they would do tomorrow. After a bit, they quieted down, and John thought that Tag had fallen asleep. He felt far from sleepy though and his headache was returning. Hoping that some fresh air would make him feel better, he gently disengaged himself from Tag's arms and headed for the balcony.
John turned away from the sliding glass door to look at Tag, who was still reclined upon the bed and definitely not asleep.
"This isn't Hawaii," he grinned wickedly. "I think Paris has laws about people appearing naked on a balcony."
"Do you really think so? This is Paris, after all. The city of love and all that." John grinned back.
"Well, even if they don't, I have no desire for all of Paris to see you. I'm a jealous husband, John."
"Do tell." John replied, a soft smile on his face.
Tag reached down to the floor, picking up a pair of pants and tossing them at John. "I think they're yours."
John looked closely at the pants and nodded, then he stepped into them. "Can I go out now?"
"I suppose. Just don't stay out there too long."
John smiled, then stepped outside. He loved Paris. It smelled the way a city should smell - full of life and endless possibilities. He leaned over the railing, closing his eyes and imagining what it must have been like to live here during the 1920's when the city was teeming with expatriated American writers and poets. It must have been a sight to see then.
"What are you thinking?" Tag asked from the doorway. He had wanted to stay close to John, so he had gotten off the bed and pulled on a pair of pants as well. John had looked lost in thought and he suddenly felt an urge to know exactly what was on his mind. He still thought they had a lot to learn about each other and he didn't want to waste any opportunity to find more out about John.
"I was just trying to imagine what Paris was like in the 1920's and 30's. It's a wonderful city, isn't it?"
"I like it a lot. But, then, I imagine a lot of honeymooners feel the same way."
John twisted the ring on his left hand, liking the sound of the word "honeymooners".
Tag stepped up behind him, wrapping his arms around him. "Paris was captured by the Nazi's, but the French Resistance put up a great fight. This hotel was built just before the war began. I can imagine a young Resistance fighter standing on this very balcony, trembling with fear as he realizes that his German lover has just discovered his secret."
"Oh really?" Tag was obviously beginning another of his fantasies.
Tag nodded. "Really. The problem here is that both men were trying to find out secrets from the other. The German officer knew that his lover was the enemy, but he felt he could just have sex with him and manage to find out what he wanted to know. The Resistance fighter felt the same way. Then love came between them. The German officer has tried his best to keep his commanding officers from finding out about his affair. Homosexuals are sent to the concentration camps and he doesn't want his army career to end like that. So, he has no choice but to interrogate his former lover, now his prisoner."
Tag roughly turned John to face him. "This can be easy or this can be hard. The choice is yours."
"I'll tell you nothing," John firmly replied in French, getting into the role, then repeating it in English.
"Then remember that this was your choice," As Tag roughly propelled John back into the room, John tripped, nearly falling to the floor. Fortunately, Tag was following close behind and he grabbed him before he could injure himself. This was going to be a golden opportunity to try out some of the gifts they had received from Barbara and Janie on their wedding day, and Tag didn't want anything to get in the way of their pleasure. Not wanting any audience at all, Tag closed and locked the glass door, then pulled the drapes shut, sending the room into darkness. His prisoner waited for him. He could hear John's ragged breathing, feel the heat from his body as he embraced him closely, remembering the taste of his skin upon his tongue.
"Do you remember where we put those silk cords?" Tag asked as he licked John's neck.
"Dresser. Top drawer," John answered as his pants fell down around his ankles.
"Get back in bed," Tag ordered as he stepped over to the dresser. When he turned back around, silk cords in his hands, he paused to reflect that not only did he like old buildings, but he really had a soft spot in his heart for iron beds.
John lay upon the bed, his arms and legs already spread apart, waiting for Tag to secure him to the bed frame. He wondered if Tag had abandoned his fantasy already or if he was going to continue with the interrogation. He felt slightly nervous about getting tied down, but he knew that he was safe with Tag. At one time, getting tied down had been a favorite activity, and he smiled because he knew that the next hour or so would prove to be very interesting indeed.
Tag grasped John's ankle and wrapped a cord around it, then tied the cord to the corner of the bed. He then roughly ran his hand up his leg before walking to the other side of the bed to repeat the process. Once he had John's legs secured, he tied his wrists to the headboard, leaving John completely helpless and at his mercy. Tag had already made note of some of John's ticklish spots and he was interested in finding out if any more existed. Then he remembered about the fantasy and he got himself back into character.
Reaching out to lightly pinch a nipple, he said, "I think that you've been a very bad boy, John. You misled me. Do you not realize that I could be shot or worse for sleeping with the enemy?" He leaned over and took the nipple into his mouth, circling it with his tongue, then nipping it with his teeth. John's body shuddered beneath him.
"Don't," came the soft whisper.
"It's too late to ask for forgiveness or mercy. You deserve the punishment that you are about to receive." As Tag raised his head he immediately saw the panic in John's eyes even as John cried out for him to stop and let him up. Tag rushed to comply, but it wasn't fast enough. By the time that John was totally freed, he was in tears, trembling with either shame or fear - Tag couldn't tell which.
Tag sat down on the bed and pulled John to him, holding him and rocking him gently until he could calm down.
"Shh. It's all right, John. We don't have to do anything like that if you can't handle it. I don't mind. Please calm down, John. I'm sorry."
John shook his head. "I'm the one who should be sorry. I really thought I could do that for you, Tag. I wanted to. Really I did." John then began to hiccup from his crying.
"It's not important. I'm not really into that kind of stuff. Honest."
"You're just not saying that?"
"No. I'm not. I confess that I do like to play with toys, massage oils and things like that, but I've never really been into bondage. I think that the silk cords themselves just put that idea into my head."
John wiped at his eyes. "I don't want to disappoint you."
"And I don't want you to do something you don't want just because you think it will please me. That's not necessary, John. Can you understand that?"
John nodded. "I think so. I'll try to do better."
Tag pulled John closer, not wanting John to see how much that last sentence bothered him. That John would even think he had to do better spoke volumes about a life that Tag didn't know enough about. He knew that John came from a wealthy family, but that was about it. Barbara had been much more proficient at grilling him and not so open about their family, except for superficial tidbits about John. All Tag really knew was what John had told him and that really wasn't much. Then Tag reminded himself that he had not yet told John all there was to know about his life.
Tag lay back upon the bed, pulling the covers up over them and cradling John in his arms. "Did I tell you yet about how I ended up getting recruited for college?"
John shook his head. "I don't think so. I do remember Benton saying you played football."
"That's right. Linebacker. Do you know anything about football, John?"
"I've watched it. Never played it though. I wrestled and ran track in high school. Well, it really wasn't high school I guess. I went to a boarding school."
"Played two sports, huh? Anything else?" Tag, asked, even though he already knew the answer, courtesy of Barbara. It was still nice to have John tell him though.
Tag laughed. When Barbara had mentioned that John had done dressage, he had acted as if he knew what it was - he had been too embarrassed to admit to her that he had never heard of it. He didn't feel embarrassed admitting it to John. "I guess my ignorance is going to show. What in the Hell is dressage?"
John carefully explained the sport to him. Tag nodded, forming a picture in his mind of John on horseback. He would be graceful, Tag was sure of that. Tag was also sure that if John was naked while on horseback, then that would be an even better picture.
"So, tell me how you were recruited for football."
Tag regaled John with the stories of his college recruitment. By the time he was done, John was once more relaxed and all thoughts of the earlier incident seemed to have been chased from his mind.
"Why don't we get some sleep?" Tag asked. "We've got a busy day tomorrow. I want to buy a few souvenirs and want to check out what's available."
"They sell little lighters that look just like the Eiffel Tower," John suggested with a grin.
"I saw those. I also hated them. I was thinking of looking for stuff that says "I'm from Paris" without it obviously looking like a souvenir."
"This sounds like shopping to me, Tag."
"That's exactly what it is, John."
"I hate shopping."
"Well, you can wait out on the sidewalk while I go into each store, okay?"
"I can live with that." John suddenly yawned and Tag gently kissed him.
"Let's get some sleep. I love you."
"I love you," John murmured as he molded his body to Tag's.
Within minutes, Tag could tell by the even rhythm of John's breathing that he was asleep. Sleep was a long time coming for Tag though. The way John had freaked out during their "scene" still had him bothered. John had been terrified, that much had been obvious. What wasn't obvious to Tag was why he had felt that way. Had someone hurt him? A previous lover or even a parent? God, he hoped not. But, the way Barbara spoke about her family, Tag had a feeling that violence might have been a constant presence while they were growing up. Neglect certainly was, that was for sure. Tag finally drifted off to sleep, not any closer to finding an answer for his questions.
The next morning found John grudgingly following Tag from store to store as Tag searched for the perfect gifts to take home. By noon, Tag took pity on him and, after a leisurely lunch, they returned to the hotel so they could relax before meeting Barbara and Janie for dinner.
Barbara had made reservations at the same place they had eaten their lunch after the union ceremony. This time though, Tag was prepared for the surroundings and he found himself enjoying the meal even more. After desert, the ladies left, giving hugs all around and saying their good-byes. John and Tag lingered over coffee and brandy, talking about the day and the entire trip in general. Tomorrow they would return to Chicago and the pace of everyday life. Neither man was ready to let the vacation end.
John was still smiling from Tag's last joke as they stepped out of the restaurant and into the warm Paris air. Two men suddenly stepped out in front of them and John felt his heart leap into his throat as he found himself face to face with his father.
"Do you realize how much money I've spent in having you tracked down?"
"No, sir," John replied, hoping his father wasn't nearly as angry as he sounded. With his grandfather, he knew that he never had a chance to defend himself, so he never tried. The situation was usually different with his father though. His father would at least listen to him. "Why would you want to track me down?"
"You were supposed to be to your grandparent's house days ago for your birthday."
John reddened as he belatedly remembered those plans. "I'm sorry. I forgot all about that."
Tag just looked on, bewildered. This man was obviously a relative of John's. His father perhaps? He cleared his throat, hoping that John would remember his presence and introduce him.
John was quick to pick up on his social gaffe. "Tag, this is Roland Carter. My father. Dad, this is John Taglieri. He's a doctor at County General."
"I know who and what he is, John," Roland coldly replied.
Tag didn't like the way that Roland Carter was eyeing him, or the tone of voice he was taking with John. "Excuse me, but we were on our way somewhere." Tag took a step forward, putting his body slightly between John and his father.
"Your plans have been changed. John is going home with me. My assistant will accompany you back to your hotel to pick up John's passport and belongings."
"I'm not going anywhere tonight," John firmly said. "We have tickets to leave tomorrow and that's when I'll return to Chicago."
Father and son faced each other, each one determined to win this round.
"Your mother is waiting for you in Chicago, as are your grandparents. I don't think you really want father to know what you've been doing lately now do you?"
"You wouldn't tell him. He would find some way to blame you for my behavior. He always does."
"John, don't push me on this. I'm very tempted to tell him, but you're correct that I won't. And not because I think he'll blame me for some imagined imperfection on your part. But, rather, because I don't want to see him disown you. If I return to Chicago without you, then he'll demand an explanation and I won't have one to give him."
"Try the truth, Dad."
"Boldly spoken for someone who still has another year of medical school to finish before he can be a doctor. Of course, without having someone pay your tuition, there won't be another year, will there?" Roland's tone made it clear that he meant business.
John was feeling torn in two. He wanted so much to stay there with Tag, but he also wanted desperately to be a doctor. He had no idea if he could qualify for any kind of financial aid if his father should refuse to pay for school. There was also the fact that he didn't like the way his father was looking at Tag. John knew the extremes his father was capable of going to in order to push someone out of his life and he suddenly felt very afraid for Tag.
The longer it took for John to reply the more confident Roland felt that he had won. With a small smile he turned to his assistant. "Randall, take John back to the car."
John looked over at Tag, a deep sadness in his eyes. "Tag, I'm sorry. I have to go with him."
"You don't have to go, John."
John nodded, "Yeah, I do." He followed Randall down the street.
"Doctor Taglieri, I don't care what your motive was in taking John to Hawaii and bringing him here. It's over as of now. If you ever come near my son again, I will make sure that you never practice medicine again. Is that clear?"
"I don't like being threatened, Mr. Carter. Not by you or anyone else. You have no right to order John around. He's over twenty-one and capable of making his own decisions."
"As long as I pay his way, I have every right to give him orders."
Tag was about to reply when they heard someone call out "Roland."
They looked to see Randall running to them.
"John took off and I couldn't catch him."
"Damn that boy!" Roland's eyes flashed with anger. "We'll go to the hotel. He'll have to go there."
Without a backward glance at Tag, the two left. Tag wasted no time rushing back to the hotel, hoping he could beat them there. He didn't know what to make of John's relationship with his father, but he knew he didn't like it.
Tag arrived at the room moments ahead of Roland and his assistant, and was able to see that John wasn't there before the other two men pushed past him. Roland ordered Randall to search the room, but this was where Tag drew the line. How dare the man?
"Try it." Tag had turned down offers to play professional football. There was no way in hell he was being physically intimidated by anyone.
Roland motioned for his assistant to leave, realizing that John was unlikely to be in the room in any case. He wasn't willing to give up, though. "Where's his passport?"
"Maybe he has it; maybe it's in the hotel safe. In either case, it's his, not yours. John is twenty-five years old -- capable of making his own decisions. We're scheduled to fly back to Chicago tomorrow, so you can discuss things with him there."
"I have no intention of allowing you to spend one extra second with my son. John is weak and easily led astray. You aren't the first man to take advantage of him and unfortunately you won't be the last. However, I will do everything in my power to insure that you can no longer harm him."
"I would never harm him. I love him."
Roland suddenly saw the ring on Tag's hand, and remembered a matching one on John's. This man had some nerve. John had always been emotionally needy, ready to shower affection on anyone he thought might return it. He felt physically ill thinking about the obvious insincerity of this man. "Pretty strong sentiments coming from a man who was supposed to get married not so long ago. What's her name again? Carol Hathaway, right? You left her waiting at the church while you ran off with my son. I'd say that puts you pretty low on the chain of humanity, doctor. Very low indeed."
"You've had me investigated? You're a real bastard, do you know that?"
"I've been called worse. But, at least I don't go around seducing vulnerable young men."
As he watched the older man's smug expression and heard the hatred in his words, Tag decided that he'd heard enough. More than enough. This guy's bullying attitude carried him back to his college and high school coaches -- even a little to his own father. Maybe he'd been young and had to listen to that crap then, but he wasn't about to now. His temper flared and he slammed Roland up against the wall.
"You listen to me. The only person who's not going to spend another second with John is you. What was it you said? Oh yeah...you'll do everything in your power to see he's not hurt. From what I've seen, you treat him like dirt, and you're never going to get a chance to again."
With that, Tag practically threw Roland out of the door and into the hallway. Roland gathered his breath, stunned. His first thought was to sue the man for assault -- his neck was already aching -- but he could just see the headlines: "Businessman Assaulted by Son's Homosexual Lover."
More than threatened scandal, though, Roland was concerned for his son's safety. He was the only son they had left. Hell, since Barbara had walked out of their lives, he was really their only child. Maybe they kept too close an eye on him, but it was because they were so desperate to keep him.
Randall had kept an eye on the two men until Roland could arrange his own flight to Paris. He'd told Roland about seeing him, shirtless, on the hotel room balcony. About him being covered in bruises.
Christ, what had possessed Johnny to get involved with this monster? And why in hell hadn't Barbara talked him out of it? He knew without a doubt that she'd at least met this character. Surely that violence brewing below the surface had been visible even to her? Roland loved his son dearly, but wondered about his judgement, yet again. When that creep had beaten him up a few years back, Roland had wanted to kill the man, but his wife had convinced him to offer a payoff to get the man out of Johnny's life. It was so easy, particularly after they convinced Johnny to move back to Chicago, to simply write a check to a person -- man or woman - that they didn't approve of their son being involved with.
Then he remembered the rings again. Christ, they'd probably done some sort of whacked-out wedding thing, like Barbara had. At least she'd had the sense not to get herself involved in an abusive relationship. Clearly this Taglieri had violent tendencies, and John was in some sort of thrall. It wasn't the first time that John had gotten himself involved with an unsavory character, but it seemed far more serious, not least because this man was no pushover. Roland sensed that this might be different. No fat check was going to buy this man off.
He wasn't sure how he was going to deal with John Taglieri, but he would make damn sure that the bastard wouldn't hurt his son again. He decided to fly back to Chicago immediately, and to have Randall keep his eye on Taglieri. Johnny would probably be back in his bed before daylight.
Tag walked into the bedroom and sank down on the bed, feeling dejected. He knew John had to come back to the hotel at some time. As Roland had pointed out, John couldn't travel, couldn't leave the country without his passport. And his clothing. His suitcase was still here. Then Tag's eyes came to rest on a piece of paper that John had propped up on the dresser. Their marriage license. He got up to retrieve it, looking at it with tears in his eyes. John had translated the French for him and he had memorized every single word on the page. Their marriage license. A tangible sign that they were committed to one another. A piece of paper that had no meaning back in the United States.
Still, they were married and he wanted so desperately for John to walk through the door so he could remind him he loved him. They couldn't let Roland Carter come between them. He was also afraid that John's father was watching the hotel and would know when and if John returned. Damn that man anyway. Just who did he think he was to threaten him? Tag felt disgusted and somehow violated at the knowledge that the man had investigated his life. Parental concern for a child was very admirable, but, in his opinion, Mr. Carter was taking this way too far. John was twenty-five and well beyond the age where his father had any say in his life. Tag had more than enough money to pay John's tuition, but he was sure that had not occurred to John when his father was threatening him. They had never discussed finances - only their hopes and dreams. Tag knew how much John wanted to be a doctor and he hated Roland Carter for playing upon that desire to manipulate John.
When John ran off, he had only one thought in mind - he had to get to someplace safe, someplace where he knew his father either wouldn't come or couldn't find. Then he could call Tag. He knew of only one place that would fit that description and he hoped like Hell that Barbara and Janie had gone straight home after they left the restaurant.
His ribs were aching by the time he reached his sister's apartment building and by the time he climbed the stairs to the third floor, he was finding it difficult to breathe. As he knocked on the door, he found himself praying that Barbara was home.
"Please answer the door, Barbara. Please." He leaned against the wall and waited.
The door suddenly opened and Barbara stood there, surprised to see him. She quickly noticed the distress on his face and in his eyes and knew that something was wrong.
"John? Where's Tag? What's wrong?"
"Everything," he said as she led him into the apartment.