Black Coffee

For as long as he could remember, a fondness for black coffee had been about the only thing Adam Lewis and his father, Robert, had in common. (With the exception of their black hair and gray eyes.) They had no shared interests, didn't watch the same television shows, and didn't even like the same people. In fact, Adam had always gone so far as to say his dad had an active hatred for Zack, his boyfriend.

Everything out of his mouth regarding the young man was negative. He didn't like the way he dressed (typically in baggy, "skater" clothes), he didn't like his slightly sarcastic sense of humor, didn't even like the way his parents ran their household. (With Zack's mother, Mia, working as a nurse, and Andy, Zack's father, working the late shift as a janitor in that same hospital, Zack was often left to his own devices. He wasn't one for getting into trouble, but, like his parents, he had no skill when it came to cooking, and his breakfasts, lunches, and dinners consisted, more often than not, of large amounts of fast food and sodas from the fridge.)

Adam's home life was the exact opposite. Adam's mother, Annie, could cook a meal to perfection, and had passed this skill on to her son. She had a fondness for gardening and was obsessively neat, spending a majority of her free time cleaning the already-clean house. She had been a stay-at-home mom since her son was born, but that didn't mean she had to get lazy, as she often reminded her family when they would find her in the living room, vacuuming for the third time that day.

Robert was a workaholic, but tried to work from home at least once a week, so he could keep up with the goings-on of his family members. On this particular day - a Friday - he left the office after lunch, intending to complete the rest of his work in the kitchen, on his laptop. The day hadn't been an easy one. The paperwork had piled up faster than Robert could complete it, and now he would likely be working for an extra three hours.

Annie was in the backyard, working in the garden, and once Robert parked the car in the garage, he went to say hello to his wife. She knelt in the dirt, her back to him, blonde hair covered by a straw hat with a wide brim, work gloves on her hands and a dark apron shielding her clothes from the muck. She was digging a hole using a small shovel with a green handle, and the weeds she had removed from her plants lay scattered on the ground.

"Hi, honey," she spoke distractedly, before Robert could offer a greeting. "How was work?"

"Long and difficult," Robert responded in his gruff voice. "How's the garden?"

"Being overrun by. . ." she stopped to crush a small bug that had appeared beside her in the dirt. "Aphids." She completed, a look of distaste crossing her features when she lifted up her glove and looked at the remints of the pest she had eliminated.

"It's the organic pesticide. I keep telling you, these things wouldn't continue showing up if you would just use the real stuff to kill them."

Annie sighed and pointed toward the house with one gloved finger. She and her husband had had this argument far too many times to count, and she wasn't in the mood for it right now.

Robert went into the house without speaking, knowing there was no way to win this particular argument. Annie did things her own way, and she wouldn't change those ways for anyone.

The house smelled of lemon Pledge and dish soap, and Robert knew immediately that this meant his laptop wouldn't be on the table, where he had left it; Annie had cleaned the kitchen. He headed up the stairs, toward the bedroom, assuming she had put it in there.

Adam's room was right at the top of the stairs. The door was shut, which was strange, since Annie liked to open all the windows when using cleaning products. Figuring his wife had just forgotten, Robert turned the knob and pushed open the door, expecting to find the carpet vacuumed and the windowsill dusted, as always.

He didn't, however, expect to find Zachary Shaw on top of his son, kissing and biting at his neck, like some sort of sucker fish. The noises Adam made hit Robert's ears before he was ready, and he winced, hating the quiet sounds of pleasure the young man let out.

Adam broke out of his pleasured daze when he heard someone clear their throat. He sat up forcing Zack to extract his lips from his neck, and gasped at the sight of his father standing in the doorway, an angry look on his face.

Adam climbed off the bed, trying to think of something to say, but it didn't matter, anyway. With a quick "get out" - directed at Zack - Robert was gone.

The weeks that followed proved difficult for Adam. His father wasn't speaking to him. It had, in fact, been nearly a week since he even looked in his son's direction. Adam had taken to eating dinner at Zack's, because the one-sided silence between him and his father was becoming too much to bear.

They were having pizza on this night, and Adam had spent the afternoon baking homemade bread sticks to eat with the meal. When Mia saw what was in the basket Adam had brought, her mouth dropped open in genuine surprise.

"You made bread sticks?" She asked, and when Adam responded with a hesitant nod, unsure of why this was such a big deal, she said, "Adam, I really wish you were my son."

Adam's cheeks burned red, but he was secretly pleased. It was nice to have somebody want him as their child for once.

The meal went on without incident, Andy and Mia taking turns talking about their days. Zack held Adam's hand under the table as they ate, even going so far as to lean over and kiss him on the cheek halfway through the meal. Adam almost flinched when he felt Zack's lips on his skin, expecting the same reaction from Andy and Mia that his father had had after catching the two young men making out on the bed, but it didn't happen. They didn't even seem to notice. Andy was still talking about work, and Mia had taken a breadstick out of the basket Adam brought, and was pulling it apart with her fingers.

Zack saw the surprised look on his boyfriend's face, brought the hand he was holding up to his mouth, and kissed each of Adam's knuckles, one at a time, saying in between kisses,

"Not everyone acts like your parents do, baby."

When Adam came home after dinner, Annie was already in bed, but Robert was in the kitchen, working on his laptop, as usual.

Adam put the breadstick basket on the counter, knowing his mother would want it back, then went about brewing himself some coffee. He was a light sleeper, and wouldn't be able to rest for hours, anyway, so he figured he might as well have something to take the edge off the tiredness he would be feeling soon enough.

He tried to ignore his father, seeing no point in starting a conversation with him that would be nothing more than him standing there, talking to himself, but when the man yawned loudly, unable to hold it back, Adam fought back the part of himself that just wanted to let his dad suffer, and instead, went about making a second cup of coffee.

He prepared both cups the same way - dark roast, hot water, half a spoonful of sugar. This was the only thing Adam and his father had in common, and he knew exactly when this "cure" was required.

Adam handed his father the warmest cup, sat down in the chair opposite the man, and began to sip at his own beverage.

Robert closed his laptop and took a large gulp from the cup he held. He let out a pleased sort of grunt and spoke his first words towards his son in weeks,

"God, you make good coffee."

Adam started at the sudden sound of his father's voice, but recovered quickly, smiling just a little.

"Thanks, Dad."

It wasn't the peace treaty Adam hoped for, but they had to start somewhere, and really, coffee was as good a place as any.