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In and Out

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Title: Free Again 

Author/pseudonym: Tinnean 

Fandom: In and Out 

Pairing: Howard Brackett/Peter Malloy 

Rating: NC-17 

Disclaimer: They belong to Paramount and Paul Rudnick. And I am just sick over it! 

Status: new/complete 

Date: 7/01 

Series/Sequel: Part 8 of the Out of the Closet series, follows Mama Gets Married 

Summary: Summer’s over. All good things must end. 

Warnings: m/m, spoilers for the movie 

Notes: Free Again is from Barbra Streisand’s Je m’appelle Barbra album. The Village People’s Macho Man gets a passing nod. There will also be some poetry in this one. Thanks must go to the screenwriters of Cluny Brown, for inventing a marvelous ending that I just had to borrow! This is for Gail and Silk, and Bast, who finally got the sex scene. 

Free Again

Part 1/1 

I pulled off my tux jacket, and I danced 

I loosened my tie. And I danced. 

But Peter was the one who undid the buttons of my dress shirt and stroked my throat. 

And we danced. 

The conga line was snaking around the tables that had been set up for my parents’ reception. I had my hands around Mom’s waist, and Peter was behind me, letting me feel how aroused my uninhibited movements were making him. I grinned at him over my shoulder. 

Mom whirled out of my embrace, seized one end of my tie, and handed it to Peter. My lover reeled me in close enough to snatch a kiss. “Babe!” Our groins brushed against each other, and I danced away from him teasingly. 

I turned to rejoin the conga line, to find Tom Halliwell ahead of me, clutching Ava Blazer who wore a prim lime green skirt suit and prissy white gloves. But I was feeling good enough to let being fired by him ride for the time being. 

Tom was having a great time. Well, as great a time as he would permit himself. He was one man who definitely did not dance! 

But a glance over his shoulder to see whom his newest partner was saw the smile freeze on his face and him stumbling over his feet. “How…Howard!” 

“Having a good time, Tom?” 

Peter came between us and herded me away from the principal. “Come on, babe, show me what a macho man you can be!” Happily, I abandoned Tom and allowed my lover to crowd me out into the hallway. 

We were alone for the time being, and he used the tie to urge me closer to him. As his lips plundered mine, the music from the other room washed over us. 

“Hey! Hey! Hey, hey, hey, hey! Macho, macho man! I wanna be a macho man!” 

Peter growled and let me feel the edges of his teeth against my throat. “Come to California, babe!” he begged. “I want you to spend some time out there with me!” 

And, God help me, I said yes. 


Peter lived in a rented cottage in the Hollywood hills. There was nothing of his personality to mark the place as his. It came furnished, and was vintage 1950s, down to the black and white linoleum in the kitchenette. 

The entertainment reporter couldn’t have cared less, he spent so little time there. I stood in the doorway, dismayed. I was used to the comfort of my possessions, which had been around me for half a lifetime. 

“Come on, babe. Let me show you the bedroom!” 

I followed Peter through a doorway and walked into his back. “What…?” 

He groaned. “Sorry, Howard. I didn’t realize I had left the place in such a shambles! I’m usually much neater than this!” 

I peered around him and felt my jaw drop. Coffee mugs with dried residue at the bottom were on every available flat surface in the room. They were on the night tables, on dressers, on a blanket chest at the foot of the king size bed. 

Dirty clothes were scattered over the floor, hanging from doorknobs and hinges. 


“Listen, babe, I had to hurry to catch the plane. And before that I was doing non-stop research on you.” He was scooping up the clothes and tossing them into a closet. Then he slammed the door shut and leaned against it to prevent it from popping back open again. 

“Peter,” I said gently. “I wasn’t expecting to move in with Martha Stewart.” 

“You weren’t?” He sighed with relief, and I couldn’t resist. 

“But babe, I really didn’t expect my roommate to be Oscar Madison!” 


We spent that week in bed, and those were halcyon days and nights, when all that existed were the two of us. 

But then Peter had to go back to work. He took me to the studio, and I tried to be interested in the people he had to interview, but I just grew more and more bored. I began spending the days straightening his house, and making sure I had a hot meal ready for him when he got home. 

And he always made sure he came home to me. 

Until the night he didn’t, the night when I had such fantastic news to share with him. 

Warm lips nuzzling my ear woke me, and I stretched into his touch. His hand slid under the waistband of my pajama pants, and he cupped and fondled me. “Sorry, babe,” he murmured, and I could smell the alcohol on his breath. “Something came up at work. It won’t happen again, I promise. I really need to fuck you tonight, baby!” 

He got off the bed and began peeling off his clothes, leaving them in an untidy heap. When he reached for the tube of lubricant, I stopped him. “I…I’m ready for you, babe. I wasn’t sure if you’d be up for it, but I’m already lubed.” 

I handed him the condom and let him put it on himself. Then I skinned out of my pajama pants, turned onto my stomach, and got my knees up under me. 

“Babe!” My lover stroked the curves of my ass before running his nails over the sensitive skin behind my balls.  He rolled them between his fingers, and I shivered and backed toward him, wanting more. Peter tested my hole, making sure I had used enough lube. He groaned and coated himself liberally and then began to push into me. His grip was hard on my hips, bordering on painful. 

But when he crossed my prostate, I forgot all about that and began to burn. 

He reached around me to find my cock and began to jerk me off as he fucked me. His strokes were deep and hard, and before I knew it, I was spinning out of control. 

I was not alone, though. As I filled Peter’s hands with hot semen, his own orgasm was ripping through him. For long moments his ragged breathing disturbed the silence of the room I shared with him. 

“Peter? Where were you, babe?” I asked softly, but he had fallen deeply asleep. I removed the condom and tied off the end, disposing of it in the bathroom. I cleaned myself off and moistened a washcloth to do the same for my lover. From the door, I stood observing him. 

His body was toned, not an ounce of fat on it. I knew how hard he worked to keep it that way, spending hours in the gym, following a diet regime that fueled his body, but gave him little enjoyment of the meals he permitted himself. And I had found a bottle of hair coloring buried in the back of his bathroom vanity. 

I don’t know how long I stood in the bathroom doorway, watching him. The warm washcloth in my hand had grown cool, and I tossed it back on the sink. I walked to the bed and knelt beside him, leaning forward to lick the remains of his climax from him. 

Peter rolled onto his back with a groan of pleasure, and his cock began to swell between my lips. I had never done this for him, but somehow, that night, it seemed necessary. 

I ran my tongue the length of his shaft, poking into the slit at the top, lapping the drops of precome that gathered there. They were salty, and bitter, but it was Peter, and I loved him. I opened my mouth and took in as much of him as I could. It took me a few minutes to find a rhythm that brought him maximum pleasure and me minimum discomfort. 

Suddenly his hips arched up, and he was fucking my mouth, and I found myself so turned on that I was becoming hard. I hummed encouragingly and slid a finger between the crevice of his ass and tickled his puckered opening. Before I realized what I had set in motion, I had a mouthful of come and was swallowing desperately to keep it from running down my chin. 

“You’re an animal, babe!” Peter murmured drowsily, and then he was asleep again. I settled myself next to him. I was still hard, and I filled my hand with the last spurt of fluid from his cock and covered my own cock with it. 

“I wish you were doing this, babe,” I whispered and began to stroke myself. I imagined him fucking me, sucking me, and my strokes became harder. I remembered his promise to take me to the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, bend me over the podium where Glenn Close gave Cameron Drake his best actor Oscar, and fuck me senseless, and with an almost silent gasp, I came. 

I curled onto my side, spooning against Peter, cradling him in my arms, and I fell into a light doze. 


It was still dark when I awoke. I pulled on my pajama pants and padded into the tiny kitchenette. As I waited for the coffee to finish brewing, I wondered if I should leave a note or wake my lover up. 

It became moot. He stood in the doorway, looking tousled and endearing. “What happened last night?” I asked. 

“That’s what I’d like to know. Did you blow me?”

I couldn’t meet his eyes. “Yes.” 

“Damn! You had to do it when I was too asleep to appreciate it!” 

“I have to go home, Peter.” 

He went very still. “Is everyone all right?” 

“What? Oh yes, everyone is fine!” 

He chewed on his lip. “I wasn’t with anyone else last night, you know. I swear it.” 

I nodded, still not looking at him. “I believe you, Peter.” 

“But you’re leaving me. If you don’t think I was cheating on you, then tell me why?” 

“I got a call from my father yesterday afternoon. The school board reinstated me, and I have to go back to get my syllabus ready.”

“Howard, you had me scared! That’s wonderful! And we can still be a couple!” 

“Can we?” I opened the refrigerator and took out the milk, pouring it into my coffee. “While you’re here in California, and I’m in Greenleaf, Indiana?” 

 “Well, sure! Lots of Hollywood couples have long-distance relationships!” 

For how long? Until he got bored, or wanted someone more experienced, or younger? “Sure, Peter. Whatever you say.” 

“You don’t believe me?” He brought the cup to his mouth and took a sip, scowling at the bitterness. “Howard, I love you!” 

I nodded again, but didn’t respond to that statement. “ I have to go home, Peter.” 

He ran his hand through his hair, leaving it more tousled than before. “When will I see you again?” 

I went into the bedroom and began packing. ‘The next time Cameron Drake is nominated?’ I thought. “Whenever you’d like,” I said. “You know the way to Greenleaf.” 

He crossed to the bed and sat down heavily. “September starts the new TV season, and my schedule is already overloaded with interviews I’ll need to do.” 

“Thanksgiving, maybe?” 

Peter shook his head. “November is a sweeps month. I’ll hit the ground running and be on the go until Christmas.” 

“Christmas, then.” Over four months. Could I survive them? Could we survive them? 

“You’ll see me before then! I’ll make sure of it!” His eyes were uneasy, and I knew something was going on. 

I finished dressing and zipped my suitcase shut. “Sure. Just give me a call.” I turned to walk out the door. 

“Um, Howard? How were you planning on getting to the airport?” 

I banged my head lightly against the doorframe and had to wait while he put on a suit and carefully applied something to make the bags under his eyes less noticeable. “Ugh, I look old! How can you stand me, Howard?” 

“It’s really simple, Peter. I love you.” 


“Sweetheart, what’s wrong?” I had been home for less than an hour, and my mother was already at my door. 

“It didn’t work out. That’s all there is to it. Did you really think a small town teacher would live happily ever after with a bigshot TV reporter?” 

“Yes, I did, Howard.” She stroked my cheek and then turned to put a casserole down on the table. “I don’t think you gave him enough of a chance to see if it could work out.” 

“Mom…” I really didn’t want to discuss my failed same sex romance with my mother. “Thanks for the dinner.” 

“Howard, don’t let this slip through your fingers because you’re afraid to wager your heart. Love is too precious to cast aside lightly.” 

“You’re starting to sound like a Hallmark card, Mom.” 

She laughed sadly, kissed me, and opened the door. “I expect to see you for dinner tomorrow night. Don’t make me have to send your father after you!” 

“Thanks, Mom. I love you.” 

“Me too, Sweetheart. Get some rest. You look awful!” 


It didn’t end right away. Peter stayed in touch. He called. He sent e-mails. He even sent me flowers, once. But he never said he was coming to see me. And finally I forced myself to accept the fact that what we had was dying a slow, painful death. I determined to apply the coup de grace to our relationship. I sat down and wrote a letter, telling my lover that it was over. And I began to bleed inside. 

I went to my CD collection and found the one I was looking for. I programmed the stereo unit to repeat it over and over again. 

Barbra Streisand’s lush tones swelled, filling the empty rooms of my house. 

“Free again, lucky, lucky me, free again. 

‘Time to call out all the crowd, raise the roof and shout out loud, 

“Time for celebration.” 

Over and over and over. As many times as it would take until I finally convinced myself it was over. 


Labor Day was just around the corner. The air was redolent with the scent of ripening apples. By the middle of October they would be picked in preparation for Halloween and all the parties where they’d be bobbing in tubs of water, or hanging suspended from basement ceilings, or coated in cherry red jelly. 

I sat on a rustic chair, my feet up on the railing that surrounded my front porch, considering the curriculum I had planned for the new school term. I tapped my highlighter against my teeth as I considered Leigh Hunt’s sweet poem. 

 ‘Jenny kissed me when we met, 

Jumping from the chair she sat in. 

Time, you thief! who love to get 

Sweets into your list, put that in. 

Say I’m weary, say I’m sad; 

Say that health and wealth have missed me; 

Say I’m growing old, but add…!’ 

I bit my lip until it bled. I had to stop thinking of him, of his kisses, of the world of the senses to which he had introduced me. Abruptly, I ran the highlighter over it, committing myself to the seven-line poem. 

My feet dropped to the planking that floored the porch, and I rested my elbows on my knees, burying my head in my hands. I fisted my fingers through my hair. 


My head jerked up. I had heard his voice in my dreams so often. I was sure I sure I must be dreaming. “Peter!” 

Hesitantly he climbed the shallow steps to stand before me. “You look awful!” 

I stifled a bitter chuckle. “You look fantastic!” 

He touched the skin by his eyes. “I had some work done. That’s the real reason why I haven’t been able to come out to Greenleaf. I didn’t want you seeing me when I looked as if I had been hit in the face by a cement truck.” 


Peter smiled crookedly. “Why didn’t I want my lover to see me looking anything but my best?” 

“Dope! Why did you have surgery?” 

He dropped down in a chair beside me and took my hand, turning it over and tracing the lines in my palm. “I thought it would help me keep my job. The ratings were slumping again, and some kid was breathing down my neck, itching to replace me. The demographics indicated that a younger-looking interviewer would draw the market they were aiming for. Nobody wants Walter Cronkite, Howard.” 

I swallowed hard. I wanted him. 

“Anyway, it doesn’t matter anymore. I no longer have a job.” 

“Those bastards fired you?” 

His fingertips wandered over my cheek and jaw. “No. I quit. I couldn’t bear the shallowness of the business any longer.” 

“Peter, show business was your life! You lived for it!” 

“But aren’t you impressed by me saying that?” 

“You were teasing me?” My emotions were somewhere between flustered and pissed. “Bite me!” 

He brought my hand to his mouth and closed his teeth gently over the muscle below my thumb, then licked it to soothe the tiny hurt. “This is called the mound of Venus, did you know? The plumper it is, the sexier the person. According to this, you’re one hot number, babe!” He became very serious. “Take me back?” 

The past month might as well have been a figment of my imagination. I surrendered to him without a battle. 

“I won’t move to California!” I warned him. “What will you do here in Greenleaf?” 

He leaned in and caressed my mouth with his. “I thought I’d write a book. Maybe about an English teacher who teaches a jaded reporter the sweet mysteries of life?” 

My jaw dropped open, and he took advantage of that to thrust his tongue into my mouth, dueling with my tongue, dominating it, and forcing it to submit in glorious defeat. 

Peter drew back and leaned his forehead against mine, breathing heavily. “I was just kidding, Howard. I wouldn’t do that to us. But I did think I might use my experiences in Hollywood to write about a couple who happen to be an actor and an actress, and who become involved in a mystery.” 

I nestled against him. “What will the mystery be about?” I asked. 

“Someone is killed. A rich man!” 

‘That’s good. No one cares if a poor man is murdered.” I snickered. “So, who done it?” 

My lover shrugged. “For three hundred and seventy-five pages, no one will have a clue. Even me! And on page three hundred and seventy-six, when the murderer is revealed, won’t we all be surprised!” He became serious. “I love you, babe. I want to live here with you.” 

I sighed happily. “Sounds great to me.” 

“Tell me how this sounds: ‘And sunlight clasps the earth, And moonbeams kiss the sea. What are all these kissings worth, If thou kiss not me?’” 

And he did.


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