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In and Out/The Big Chill

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Title: I Heard It Through the Grapevine 

Author/pseudonym: Tinnean 

Fandom: In and Out/The Big Chill 

Pairing: Howard/Peter, Sam/Richard 

Rating: R 

Disclaimer: None of them belong to me. Paul Rudnick still owns Howard and Peter. Sam and Richard belong to Lawrence Kasdan, but they have more fun in my backyard.  

Status: new/complete 

Date: 10/01 

Series/Sequel: no (I said that the last time too, didn’t I? But this time I mean it!)) 

Summary: Peter Malloy is offered another interview, this time with actor Sam Weber. Sam’s lover has some issues with their relationship.  

Warnings: m/m, language, minor spoilers for both movies 

Notes: I’ve fudged the time line. This is for the ninety and the nine. Seriously, for Silk and Gail, who make this worthwhile. 

I Heard It Through the Grapevine

Part 1/1 

“Howard? C’mon babe, wake up!” 

“Give me one good reason why I should!” I grumbled, dragging the blanket up over my head. “And while you’re at it, Peter, give me a good reason why I shouldn’t do you a violence?” 

“Because you love me?” He pulled the covers out of my hands and tore them off the bed, leaving my naked butt exposed. 

I finally managed to peel an eye open. “Which is that a reason for: waking up or not hitting you upside the head?” My lover of almost a year sat on the edge of our bed, a Styrofoam cup of McDonald’s coffee in his hand. I took it from him and brought it to my mouth for a cautious sip, then grimaced. “Ugh! When are you going to remember I take it dark, no sugar?” 

He feigned hurt. “I always remember, brown eyes! That’s my coffee! This one is yours!” Peter handed me a cup that he had been concealing behind his back. “And I was kind of hoping that you loving me would be reason enough for both!” 

“You did that on purpose, didn’t you?” I asked suspiciously. 

He nodded and snatched a kiss. I sighed and finished my coffee as quickly as I could without burning my mouth. I needed the jolt of caffeine. 

“Have a good time last night, babe?” Peter asked. 

“Yes. I did!” 

“You sound surprised.” Peter tossed the empty cup in the wastebasket and reclined on the bed. 

“I am! I’m also chagrinned. I never expected Sonya to hang around Greenleaf, much less to like her.” The supermodel, who had shown up in town when her then-boyfriend, Cameron Drake, had decided to make a bad situation just a trifle worse after he outed me at the Oscars, had started dating my brother Walter. 

Last night had been their engagement party. 

“She really isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed, is she?” my lover remarked ruefully. 

I had to agree. “Well, neither is Walter, much as I love him.”

“They should be happy together.” 

I crawled out of bed and padded naked to the bathroom. An extremely lascivious wolf whistle followed me. “Bite me, Malloy!” I called over my shoulder. 

I turned on the shower and adjusted the temperature. Warm lips nuzzled my ear lobe and then bit down sharply. I gave a yelp of surprise. 

“Your wish is my command, love of my life!” His hands cupped my buttocks and I leaned into his grasp. 

“I love you so much, Peter!” 

“Good. Hold that thought. And remember I love you more than I ever cared about my ratings, when I was working on Inside Entertainment!” 

I gave him a suspicious glance. “Why are you suddenly telling me this, Peter Malloy? What are you up to?” 

“Nothing, babe. No major thing. It really isn’t a big thing. No biggie, not at all!” 

“Peter. You’re babbling.” I leaned into his space and growled at him. “What. Are. You. Up. To?” 

“Um. I got a call from Inside Entertainment.” 

“And…?” Was my lover being lured back to LalaLand? Was this his way of telling me we were back to the long distance relationship thing? 

“And they want me to do a piece for them here in Greenleaf.” 

“Excuse me?”

“Cameron Drake’s new movie is being filmed on location near here, and my former boss is on his hands and knees begging me to do this! The paycheck will be fantastic! And that’s not the best part!” 

I couldn’t resist. I threw myself into his arms. He wasn’t moving back to Los Angeles. 

And another paycheck would be…nice. Peter had finally completed his book and sent it out a few days earlier, but he was expensive, and my salary as a high school English teacher just about covered essentials. 

“All right, sunshine. I’ll bite. What is the best part?” 

“Sam Weber has been signed for it, too! He’s agreed to an interview! He hasn’t done an interview since that asshole, Michael whatever-his-name-is from People magazine, screwed him! I get to interview Sam Weber!” He was almost giddy, and he cuffed my shoulder at my blank look. “*Sam Weber*, Howard! JT Lancer!” 

I gave him a weak smile and shrugged. “You know I don’t watch the boob tube, Peter.” 

He kissed me. I really loved when Peter kissed me. “Hurry and shower, babe! I want you with me!” 

I gave a sigh of sheer pleasure. He wanted me and he wasn’t going anywhere! I ducked into the shower and reached for the Morning Mist bath gel. 


“Oh, my God! There he is, Howard! Do I look all right?” 

“Peter, you’re fidgeting with your tie! Stop fishing for compliments. You know you look perfect! I’ve been telling you so all morning!” 

The glance he gave me was disgruntled. “You have to say that! You love me!” 

“Peter.” I pulled him to the side and took his lapels in my hands, giving him a bit of a shake. “Look at me!” He finally met my eyes. “Why are you tearing yourself up over this? You’re a professional, you’ve done this a thousand times before.” I wasn’t getting through to him. 

I spotted the men’s room door, and began shoving him toward it. “What… Howard, what are you doing?” 

The snick of the lock was loud in the small, tiled room. 

“Talk to me, babe.” 

For a minute I thought he would refuse to answer me, and then it was as if he caved in. “I haven’t done this in so long! Suppose I’ve lost my edge?” 

“Peter, it’s been less than a year! And you were an entertainment reporter! This is not rocket science we’re talking here!” 

“But no one has interviewed him since that fiasco with People Magazine!” 

“Baby, you’ll do fine.” I couldn’t resist winding my fingers through his dark hair. “He’s going to fall in love with you, and I’m going to be so jealous I’ll have to get a gun and challenge him to a duel!” 

“You think? You would?” 

I nodded, never taking my eyes off his. I took a step toward him. He wouldn’t have backed away from me, even if he hadn’t been against the wall of the stall. I plastered myself up against him and slid my hands around his skull. Peter didn’t have an arousal when I started, but I soon remedied that. 

Peter was breathing hard and a trifle mussed when I unlocked the restroom door and let him exit before me. He paused to smooth his hair back, and I took that opportunity to fondle his ass. 

I leaned close to him, letting my cock nudge the crack of his ass. “Knock ‘em dead, tiger!” 

Peter straightened his shoulders. His step once more relaxed and confident, he walked to the table where the actor waited. 


“Peter. I wasn’t expecting to be interviewed by you.” My lover stood and shook hands with the dark haired man. He offered him a seat at our table. 

“I’m so pleased you remember me, Sam.” 

“You’re a hard man to forget, Peter.” 

I stiffened. I recognized that flirtatious tone of voice. Damn it! Could I never trust him? I got to my feet abruptly, the chair tipping over to land noisily on the restaurant’s glazed tile floor. 


“I need some air, Sam. You do your…interview. I’ll be back later.” Only I wasn’t so sure I would return. This was supposed to be a trial period for us, to see if being together on a permanent basis could work out. 

Sam’s daughter from his short-lived marriage was grown. My boys were living their own lives, and Karen, the woman who was my wife in name only now, was involved with Sarah Cooper’s medical practice. Or so she told me, whenever she chose to tell me anything. 

There was nothing to come between Sam and me except his inability to remain faithful to one person, any person. 

I strode out of the restaurant, letting the door slam shut behind me, and I jogged down the steps. Halting at the sidewalk. I wasn’t sure in which direction to go. 

“Richard? Hey, man, how the hell are you?” 

Cameron Drake. The young, handsome, Oscar-winning actor who had pleaded with Sam to star in his latest film, a musical adaptation of The Bridge on the River Kwai. Cameron would play Commander Shears, the William Holden role in the original movie, and Sam would undertake the Alec Guinness part of the British Lieutenant Colonel, which was being changed to an American Major. 

That was Hollywood for you. It wasn’t broke, but they insisted on fixing it anyway. 

I had run into Cameron Drake a number of times at Sam’s Malibu Beach home when they were working out the details of this project, so I wasn’t surprised that he recognized me. 

“Cameron,” I greeted him sourly. “Sam’s inside. He’s already started the interview.” 

“Cool. Who’s doing it, man?” 

“I believe Sam told me his name is Peter Malloy.” 

“Peter? Is he still here in Greenleaf? Oh, man, how cool is that? He’s still with Mr. Brackett?” 

“You’ve lost me, Cameron.” 

If the young actor had been a puppy, he would have been wriggling all over. “Mr. Brackett was my high school English teacher. I won that Oscar because of him, and I wanted everyone to know, so I told them from the podium at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion.” He looked sheepish. “I also told everyone he was gay!” 

It was starting to come back to me. 

Every time I had turned on my TV that Spring, all I saw was commentary about the beleaguered teacher. I also remembered that Peter Malloy had been exceptionally dogged in his coverage of Howard Brackett, actually in church on Brackett’s wedding day, when instead of saying ‘I do’, he’d said, “I’m gay!” 

“Well, Malloy certainly got here quickly enough!” I grumbled, wondering if I’d have to drag the reporter off my lover. 

“He would. He lives here now! Hey, Mr. Brackett! It’s good to see you again! This is Richard Bowens. I gotta run! Peter’s interviewing me too, y’know!” He squeezed the arm of the tall, brown-haired man I hadn’t noticed approaching us. 

 “You don’t have to worry, you know,” he said quietly. “Peter has no interest in an affair with Sam Weber.” 

“Why would I care who Sam Weber sleeps with?” I asked, irritation making me short tempered. “And how would you know?” 

His smile was so sweet. I hadn’t met up with such kindness since … I couldn’t think of the last time anyone had smiled at me kindly. Most of Sam’s acquaintances were in show business, and his true friends, the group from his college days, regarded me with casual contempt. Karen had made it clear that she considered ours a marriage of convenience. And Sam had never let them know how he felt about me. 

“I’m Howard Brackett. Peter Malloy is my partner.” 

“Your partner? Oh! Your partner!” I mulled over that. “And you trust him not to cheat on you?” 

Brackett answered my question with another question. “Is that what you’re afraid of? That Sam Weber will be unfaithful to you?” 

“Yes. No. I don’t know!” I cringed at the whine in my voice. “I never wanted a relationship with a man!” 

He chuckled softly, his eyes warm with memories. “It is a shock, isn’t it? Listen, we can’t stand here on the sidewalk discussing our lovers like this. Why don’t you come to my house? It’s just down the road. I’ll make you a cup of coffee and you can talk to me if you’d like.” 

I didn’t want to ask myself why he was being so solicitous; I just fell into step with him. 

“Hi, Howard.” A postal worker with his mail sack slung over his shoulder waved from across the street. “That Brylane Home catalogue you’ve been waiting for has come in. You should be able to find those towels for Peter!” 

“Thanks, Emmett. I appreciate it!” 

We passed the barbershop. “Hey Howard, Peter is due for his hair cut soon. Remind him, okay?” 

“Sure thing, Aldo.” 

“Howard!” We were passing the firehouse. 

“Hi, Red. How’s the fund raiser for the volunteer fire department coming?” 

“Great! Peter’s been such a big help! Tell him the meeting has been switched to the church basement, Tuesday night, would you?” 

Howard Brackett smiled. “You got it, Red!” I shook my head as we turned down a residential street lined with white picket fences and houses with wrap-around porches. “What?” 

“This is like living in a fishbowl! How can you stand it?” 

“Stand what?” 

“All these people know you’re gay! They know that when you have sex, you take some guy’s cock up your ass!” 

Color mounted his cheeks. “Not ‘some guy’s’ cock,” he corrected mildly, before I could apologize. “Peter Malloy’s. The man I love.” Brackett opened the door to a comfortable-looking two-story house and ushered me into a large country kitchen. He started a pot of coffee to brewing. “Haven’t you ever bottomed for him?” 

“Who?” He looked at me and I chewed irresolutely on my lower lip. “No. I’ve never…*never* done… that!” 

“Why? Are you afraid that will make you more gay than putting your cock in ‘some guy’s’ ass?” He threw my own words back at me. 

“No.” I was afraid that would make me irrevocably his. “Sam Weber lives such a high profile life! I don’t know how I could handle having the entire free world know what we do in our bedroom!” 

He gave me a cup of coffee. The aroma was exquisite, and the taste sheer ambrosia. I said as much. “Peter has this blend flown in especially for me.” Howard contemplated the steam rising from his cup. “I understand. I really do, Richard. It’s hard, no pun intended, in the beginning to accept the fact that you’re different. This entire town knows Peter is my lover. My parents know. I nearly lost my job over it.” 

I stared at his chocolate brown eyes. “Then how do you stand it?” 

He shrugged. “I love him. I’m at peace with myself for the first time in my life. And Richard, it feels good!” 

I opened my mouth to rebut that, but then had to shut it. The few times I had teased myself with my own finger had been pleasurable. But Sam was a good deal thicker than my index finger, and I’d never been adventurous enough to try more than one. 

“But suppose I let him have me, like that, and then he leaves me?” 

“I can’t help you with this decision, Richard, but I will say this. I trust Peter not to hurt me. Do you trust Sam?” 

I licked my lips. Was that the whole problem, that I just didn’t trust my lover? Before I could question Howard Brackett further, the screen door opened and his lover sauntered in, his eyes glowing, seeing no one else. 

“Babe, that was sweet!” He drew out the word. “It’s so nice to know I haven’t lost my touch! Oh! Sorry, didn’t realize we had company. I’m Peter Malloy. Howard’s mine, just so you know.” 

I stood and accepted his hand. “Richard Bowens. I was just leaving. You’re a very lucky man, do you know that?” 

Malloy walked to where Howard Brackett sat, leaned down and looped his arms around his neck. “I know. I get down on my knees every day.” 

Brackett turned his head and pressed a kiss to Malloy’s cheek. “And you do that so well, babe!” 

“Um, if you finished the interview then I’d better be going. I don’t want to leave Sam alone with that airhead any longer than I can help.” Another pretty face to worry about. 

“Who, Cameron? You don’t have to worry about him.” It was as if the reporter read my mind. “He was on his way back to the motel to see his girl.” 

“He has Emily with him? Why didn’t you say, Peter? I haven’t seen her since she moved to Los Angeles with him!” 

Malloy scowled. “I don’t want you visiting with your former fiancée, Howard!” 

Brackett got languidly to his feet. “I love when you get possessive! It makes me all…shivery.” He nudged his lover’s lips and breathed a kiss on them. “You know you mean the world to me!” 

I was blushing at their display of obvious affection, decidedly the odd man out. I let myself out the door and walked slowly back to the motel where Sam and I were staying. 

He wasn’t in the room when I got there. I laid out a set of clean clothes and went into the bathroom to start the shower. 

Was I using the fact that I was afraid of being hurt, afraid of being labeled gay, just plain afraid to push Sam away? 

I stripped and stepped into the shower. Sam had told me years before that I was the only one he bottomed for. That had to mean something. 

Didn’t it? 


It was more than an hour later when I heard the key in the door, and Sam let himself in. He had his jacket hooked on a finger, dangling behind his back, and he tossed it blindly toward a chair by the window. 

He sucked his breath in when he saw me lying across the bed with just a towel around my waist, watching TV. And then a dazzling, pixilated smile was sent my way. 

I could smell the alcohol clear across the room. “Ah, Sam,” I said, disappointed that he had spent all this time drinking. “What did you do?” 

Sam swayed for a moment, then blinked owlishly and seemed to gather control of himself. “Needed the courage, babe,” he slurred. “Wasn’t sure I’d find you here.” His stride was wavering as he crossed the floor to the bed. He sat down beside me heavily. “I’m sorry. Whatever I’ve been doing wrong, I’ll stop, I swear. Please don’t leave me, Richard.” 

“No, I’m sorry, Sam.” I handed him the tube of lubricant and a condom. “I know you’ve wanted to do this for a long time. Just…once you’ve had me, please don’t toss me aside like a used Kleenex!” 

“Never, babe! I’ll never let you go!” 


I lay sprawled out on my stomach, stunned. 

“Are you all right, babe?” 

“I’m…fantastic! Stupendous!” I couldn’t think of more emphatic superlatives. “Was it always like that for you?” 

I felt Sam’s head nod against my back. “Will you be willing to trade off on occasion now?” 

“Oh, yes!” I was starting to fall asleep. 

“You’re going to come home with me, Richard!” Sam’s voice was no-nonsense, even while he spread kisses over my shoulders. “I’m tired of fucking around! You’re mine, and I’ll never let you leave me!” The slurring of his voice was gone. 

“Sam? Weren’t you drunk?” 

“Um, Richard? Will you be very angry with me if I tell you I’m not? I spilled whiskey on my jacket so you’d think I was drunk, hoping you’d take pity on me. I’m sorry you don’t trust me, babe, but I have been faithful to you for years!” 

“You weren’t drunk?” 

I could feel his smile on my skin. “Nah. That’s why they call it acting, babe!"


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