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Title: Black Coffee  

Author/pseudonym: Tinnean  

Fandom: JAG  

Pairing: Clark Palmer/Clayton Webb, Theo Bascopolis/Wills Matheson  

Rating: FRM  

Disclaimer: They belong to Bellisario, but how unfair is that? He doesn't even want to play with them any more. However, Theo and Wills are mine.  

Status: new/complete  

Date: 9/05  

Series/Sequel: This is number 12 in the Soundbyte series. It follows Be It Ever So Humble.  

Summary: Clay likes his coffee freshly ground. Clark is going to give him what he likes.  

Warnings: m/m, AR, in that this universe presupposes that the DSD was never disbanded.  

Notes: Soundbytes are an off-shoot of the Mind Fuck universe. They are not necessarily in chronological order. This takes place before the events of both Coming Home and Be It Ever So Humble. Linguini Pescatore is linguini with shrimp, clams, Prince Edward Isle Mussels, calamari and fresh tomatoes in a white wine sauce. Thank you to Gail for the information about freshly ground coffee and for the beta.


Black Coffee

Part 1/1


It was the last Friday in August. The traffic was heavier than usual because it was the Labor Day weekend, and it took me a while to find a parking spot.  

Clay was already sitting at our table at Raphael's, looking cool and relaxed.  

"Sorry I'm late."  

"It's all right."  

The waiter came over and poured me a glass of white wine. I raised an eyebrow.  

Clay grinned at me. "I've already ordered. Oysters for our appetizer, then Linguine Pescatore. I hope you don't mind?"  

"That's fine by me." Watching that man eat oysters – he'd tip his head back, let the succulent flesh slide down his throat, and swallow – that had to be one of the most erotic things I had ever seen.  

This evening was no exception, and when the appetizer arrived, I made sure he had the lion's share. My eyes were on him every time he reached for an oyster.  

He said something, but I was staring at his mouth. "Excuse me?"  

He smiled and repeated himself. "I said I have a 9 AM flight tomorrow."  

Dammit. "Okay. I guess it's just dinner tonight." I'd been half hard since I'd walked in and seen him sitting there, but now my cock deflated.  

The entrees were brought out, and I took a forkful. Suddenly I found myself chewing a fishy-tasting rubberband. I frowned at it, then poked at the contents of my dish.  

"Calamari, Clark . It's time you broadened your culinary horizons."  

"If I dislocate my jaw from chewing this… "  

"You won't. I promise you."  

"Y'know, I'm only eating this because I like you."  

"I know, Clark ." He blotted his lips with the linen napkin, then cleared his throat. "I… uh… I need a lift home. My Lexus is in the shop. If you don't mind?"  

Those foreign cars. "I don't mind."  

We finished dinner.  

"Do you want dessert?" He shook his head, and I sighed and signaled for the check. "Did you want to do anything before I drop you off? See a movie? Have a drink?"  

"No, Clark. Although I do want to do something when we get home." The corner of his mouth twitched in a grin.  

"Okay." He wanted me to sleep over. My cock was hard again.  

I drove us to Alexandria , waited until he had the front door locked behind us, then took him down to the floor and had him in his entryway.  

"You… you do believe in… in being prepared," he panted afterwards as I stripped off the condom and knotted it.  

"I keep… keep telling you, baby." I was a little out of breath myself. "I'm… "  

"The best. Yes." He nuzzled the hinge of my jaw. "I know. Give me a hand up and let's go to bed."  

I kept dreaming of those oysters, and I'd wake him up and fuck him, and when he murmured a protest, I told him he could sleep on the plane. To which he smiled sleepily, agreed, wrapped his legs around my waist, and ground his erection against mine until I shifted a bit and slid into him.  

The next morning I dropped him off at Reagan International to catch his flight.  

"Do you need me to come pick you up?"  

"No, my return flight is open, and I'm not sure when I'll be back. I'll just call a cab."  

"Ah. I guess that means we won't be going horseback riding anytime soon."  

"Oh, no, Clark . You agreed to go riding with Mother and me. I'm not letting you off the hook."  

I grinned over at him. "You know I'm looking forward to it."  

"Why do I get the feeling you aren't telling me the truth?"  

"Beats hell out of me." I wasn't going to tell him it was because I'd never ridden before. "Listen. Uh… watch your ass, okay, Webb?"  

"Okay, Palmer. Watch yours too. I like it. I wouldn't be happy if I came home and found something had happened to it."  

"Sure, baby. You know me. I'm the best."  

He became suddenly serious. "You're human, Clark ." He caught my wrist and gave it a shake. "Anything could happen."  

Clay was worried about me? No one had ever worried about me before. I covered his hand and rubbed my thumb across his knuckles. "I'll make sure it doesn't, baby. Go catch your flight."  

"I'll call when I get back to DC."  

"Okay." I watched until the terminal doors closed behind him, then drove out of the airport.  

I sat at a light, drumming my fingers on the steering wheel. There were any number of things I do to amuse myself on this Saturday. I could go to the Washington Zoo. I could go to the Smithsonian. I could go to the movies.  

What I did do was go house hunting.  


Talk about a wasted day. I hadn't liked any of the open houses I'd checked out. Too big, too small. Too finished, too much of a fixer-upper. Too far from work, too close to the neighbors.  

I wasn't in the mood to have dinner at home, and I didn't feel like going anywhere special. I decided to stop at McDonalds and order a Big Mac, fries, and a Coke.  

A bunch of seven- and eight-year-olds were running wild. It was a birthday party, and the parents who were trying to control them looked frazzled.  

Whoever was wearing the Ronald McDonald costume didn't look too happy either.  

I found a seat as far away from them as I could get, but it still wasn't far enough. One runty kid with a sandy brown cowlick, ears that must have gotten him called Dumbo a lot, and thick, coke-bottle glasses climbed onto the seat next to mine. He spread a sheet of paper on his table and began to draw.  

"I shouldn't be at this party," he murmured, and I looked around. There was no one else near us, so I assumed he was talking to me.  

I used the fact that I had a mouthful of two all-beef patties to keep from answering him.  

"My mother asked Henry's mom to invite me. She doesn't think I know, but I do. The kids in my class don't really like me."  

In spite of myself I asked, "How come?"  

The kid shrugged. "I look funny. And we move a lot. Just when they start getting used to me, we have to move again."  


"That's the way it is. I'll hear her crying, then I'll hear her pulling out the suitcases, and I'll know he's found… " He bit off his sentence and hunched over his drawing. "I mean I know we'll be moving."  

I gathered up the wrapper, took a last sip of my Coke, and rose to leave. As I did, I happened to notice what he was drawing, and I let out a low whistle. "You've got talent, kid."  

"You think so?" He seemed startled. "No one ever pays attention to what I draw."  

"Then they're idiots."  

"That's what I always thought!" He grinned. There was a gap between his front teeth while others were severely overlapped.  

It was going to cost a fortune in orthodontics to repair his mouth..  

"Are you as smart as this drawing leads me to believe?"  

"Smarter! I have to be careful what I draw in public. Hey, do you know what this is?"  

"Yeah, I know what it is. What's your name?" I put the tray down.  

He hesitated for a second, staring into my eyes. "I hate my name." I waited patiently, and finally he told me.  

"I'll remember it."  

"All the kids laugh at me because of it. That's even worse than them laughing because of my ears."  

"Fuck 'em." His mouth dropped open. "There's nothing wrong with your ears." I took a card from my wallet and wrote something on the back. "If you're still of the same mind, when you turn 18, you call that number."  

His eyes grew huge behind the thick lenses of his glasses. "And I'll get to… " He nodded toward his drawing.


"Gee, thanks, Mr… " He turned the card over. "Mr. Wells."  

A name I used when I went out of town. I'd make sure someone at Bradenhurst was aware of this smart kid.  

A woman dressed in jeans and a long-sleeved shirt approached us. It was hot for long sleeves.  

"Sweetie, I hope you haven't been bothering this man."  

I stared at her, waiting for her eyes to skitter off mine.  

They didn't. I was able to read in them what she hadn't said, 'You'd better not have been bothering my son.'  

"You've got a talented kid, lady."  

She glanced down at his drawing and turned pale. "Oh, those are just doodles." She folded the paper carefully and tucked it into her back pocket, sending him an apologetic glance, which I was sure she didn't realize I'd seen.  


She was protecting her son. That was something I'd first observed with Porter Webb. Before that, I'd thought it was like Santa Claus or the Easter Bunny – something kids were told, but which wasn't really real.  

"Sweetie, they're going to do face painting now."  

"Okay, Ma. Thanks again, Mr. Wells. Bye."  

"Bye, kid." I met his mother's cool eyes. "Ma'am."  

She nodded.  

I turned away, but I could feel her watching me as I crossed to a trash container. I dumped my trash, and when I glanced over my shoulder, she and the kid were gone.  

I left, idly wondering if he'd ever call the number on the card.  


It was almost 8 by the time I parked my car and let myself into my building.  

I wasn't exactly looking forward to staring at four walls or even seeing what Robert Osborne had to say about the classic movie that was about to be aired, so on the spur of the moment, I decided to talk to Theo, the former rentboy who lived in the apartment below mine.  

I'd been raised on coffee that came already ground and in a can – Maxwell House, Chock Full O' Nuts, A&P. If my old lady wasn't hung over, and if she was feeling ambitious, she'd brew a pot. Otherwise it was instant from a jar. It didn't matter to me, as long as it had caffeine.  

Clayton Webb, on the other hand, preferred fresh-ground coffee, so I'd read up on it, bought an electric grinder, a stainless steel percolator, and a pound of beans, and practiced.  

He'd had a point. Even cheap beans made pretty good coffee. Who knew?  

Once I found a texture I was good with, I was ready to buy better beans. I figured Theo could tell me the best place in DC to get them.  

I pressed the doorbell, amused to find 'Big Spender' had been replaced with 'Isn't It Romantic'.  

Had that been some of my agent's work?  

I observed the distorted eye in the door viewer, and then William Matheson opened the door. His hair was disheveled, his mouth was puffy, he was slightly out of breath, but his eyes were alert. "Mr... Mr. Palmer. Won't you… won't you come in, sir?"  

On the table by the door was a 9mm. I nodded in approval.  

He was shoeless, dressed in faded 501 jeans – unbuttoned – that looked as if they'd been spray painted on, and a tee shirt that read, 'Mom, Dad, I'm Gaelic.'  

"Interesting shirt, Matheson."  

"Thank you, sir." He tucked it in and did up his jeans. "It's a birthday gift from my brother."  

His half-brother. That was right, his birthday was today. "Happy birthday."  

"Thank you, sir."  

Enough of this chitchat shit. "Is Theo here?"  

"Of course. Theo!"  

"Who is it, babe?" a voice called from the kitchen.  

"It's Mr. Palmer."  

"Palm!" Theo walked in, drying his hands on a dish towel. "I haven't seen you in a while. We were just going to have some cake. Would you like a slice?"  

"No, that won't be… "  

"C'mon, Palm. Don't be a pain in the ass."  

"Bascopolis… "  

"Theo, you're gonna get me killed."  

"Look, Palm. You're here now. Have a piece of cake. It's Wills' birthday!" Shit. We weren't going to sing Happy Birthday now, were we? "I made it myself. Strawberry shortcake."  

"With real whipped cream?"  

"Only the best for my guy."  

"All right."  

"I'll just get an extra plate and cup and saucer, sir."  

Theo stood there for a few seconds, watching Matheson's ass as he left the room. He licked his lips, and his mouth curled into a grin.  

"You know where the dining room is, Palm. Go on in and grab a seat. I'll be right back. I want to give Wills a hand with the cake." He sauntered back to the kitchen.  

I came to a halt just inside the room. Strung from one corner to another were crepe paper streamers, and tied to them were a rainbow of balloons.  

Theo had done this for Matheson?  

One end of the long mahogany table was set with two cups and saucers. Pointy party hats with elastic string to hold them in place lay beside them.  

Scattered at the other end of the table were opened boxes, surrounded by torn wrapping paper. A few of the boxes had the logo of Beau Brummel imprinted on them. I'd bought a pair of pajamas for Clay from the exclusive men's shop, back when we were still fucking with each other's minds. As well as being exclusive, it was expensive.  

I walked over to see what Theo had bought for his lover. Lounging pajamas, silk boxers, a lavender dress shirt with ruffles down the front, linen handkerchiefs with his initials monogrammed on the corner. There were DVDs – none of them porn – and a couple of books that looked like they might be.  

Theo bustled in, licking his lips. He was carrying a tray that held three plates with very large slices of cake. "We already sang Happy Birthday, but we can sing it again if you want."  

"That won't be necessary." Jesus. I picked up a book and tapped it with my forefinger. "My boy comes in sore because of this, I won't be happy, Bascopolis."  

He blinked when he saw which book I held, then grinned at me.  

Matheson came in, a smear of white on his mouth.  

"Uh, babe?" Theo tapped the corner of his own mouth. "Whipped cream."  

Matheson smiled at him, and I watched Theo watch him as he licked it off.  

"If you'll have a seat, Mr. Palmer?" Matheson put a cup and saucer before me. He saw the book in my hand and turned red. "Oh, shit."  

"It's okay, Wills. As long as I don't send you in to work sore, Palm's got no problem with it."  

"Oh, shit." Matheson turned an even brighter shade of red. He grabbed up the tray and started to back out. "Uh… I'll just get the coffee and cream and sugar."  

"What did you need to see me about, Palm?"  

"What do you know about coffee beans?"  

Matheson paused in the doorway. "I know four ounces of the kind Theo likes costs almost $10."  

I kept my jaw from sagging. "$40 a pound?" What the fuck did they use for fertilizer? Gold?  

"Yes, sir. If I didn't love him so much… " He coughed. "Sorry, sir." He hurried out.  

Theo stared after him, a peculiar expression on his face. "I can't believe it, you know."  

"Neither can I. *$40* a *pound*?"  

He frowned at me. "No. I can't believe he … he says it so easily. It doesn't matter what I've done. He just looks in my eyes and tells me… "  

"Theo, don't worry it to death. Now about the coffee… " I was hoping I could get him off the subject.  

"Does he even understand, Palm? Maybe he thinks what I did was glamorous or … or something," he finished weakly.  

Who did Theo think I was, Dr. Ruth? But I could see he was expecting me to offer some words of wisdom. "What's got your shorts in a twist?"  

"We've been living together a few months now. He's like a kid in a candy store: everything is so new to him, and he's willing to try it all. He treats me great, the sex is fantastic… " He ignored my pained expression. I really didn't need to know the state of my agent's love life. "It's just…  I keep waiting for the other shoe to drop, y'know? Kind of  'if it seems too good to be true, it's because it is'? I know how lucky I am, but… every once in a while it hits me: this is a guy who's never really lived… "  

"Excuse me?"  

"I mean, he's almost like a virgin bride."  

I started to choke, and Theo scowled at me.  

"You know what I mean. He's lived at home, and he's lived with me. Oh, sure, he's gone to college, worked a white collar job, but does he even know what the real world is like?"  

"Trust me, Theo. He knows."  

Matheson had his share of kills under his belt. When he'd first been recruited, his handlers hadn't been sure how he'd deal with taking a life and had watched him carefully. The last thing the DSD needed was an agent who had a problem accepting that when you made an omelet, you needed to break the eggs.  

Some recruits couldn't. His friend Mikey Shaw was one of those. He had never been given the option of going into the field.  


"What do you think it is that Matheson does for a living?"  

"I don't think, I know. He's a troubleshooter. He goes out and fixes computers."  

My agent was smart not to tell a civilian what he really did. In spite of thinking they were living love's young dream, they could break up. Theo had never struck me as spiteful, but he'd never had this much invested in a relationship before.  

He could also say something unintentionally to the wrong person.  

"Talking about me, babe?" Matheson looked only mildly curious, and I had the feeling he hadn't heard Theo's description of him as a virgin bride. "There's gotta be something more interesting."  

"Not to me."  

Matheson ducked his head and blushed, looking pleased. He poured coffee into my cup. "Black, right, Mr. Palmer?"  


"Milk's for wusses," Theo said apropos of nothing. He pushed his cup toward his lover, waiting for him to fill it.  

I raised an eyebrow at that. Theo always took milk in his coffee.  

Matheson gazed at him, a smile playing around his lips. This was something private between the two of them, and I realized that whatever Theo had invested in this relationship, Matheson had just as much, if not more.  

Kind of like my relationship with Clay Webb.  

I took a sip of the coffee. It was good stuff.  

"Okay, now tell me, where do I get this $40 a pound coffee?"



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