Series. In & Out (past movie)
Summary: Christmas in Greenleaf - Howard gets a surprise
Disclaimer: The characters in this story don’t belong to me. I only borrowed them for some fun. No moneymaking, no violation of copyrights are intended.
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Beta: English is not my native language, so please be patient with my mistakes. Thanks to Lady Charena for the beta. For all remaining errors, blame me.
Part 1: Alone
Hairdresser’s Aldo friendly wave followed Howard Brackett, as he left the salon. "Merry Christmas, Howard."
"Yeah, merry Christmas,” Howard mumbled with little enthusiasm and began his way home. To be honest he didn’t care even a bit about Christmas this year. He never had felt so lonesome at the season. During the last three years he used to spent Christmas with Emily. But she was now accompanying Cameron Drake to some filming somewhere in the world. And he couldn't blame her for it. After all he had left her most ignominiously in front of the altar with his coming out. He wished for her to become happy with the Hollywood star even if he doubted somehow that a guy like Cameron really could be faithful forever. After all there was some kind of talking about film people, everyone knew that much.
His parents spent Christmas on Hawaii, virtually enjoying their second honeymoon. Howard had given this present to them. He simply had felt that he owed them that much after all the trouble he had caused this year.
His brother Walther had travelled with Cameron’s ex-girlfriend Sonja yesterday to New York to spend the Christmas days there. He still wondered what such a super-model possible could find in his brother. On the other hand it was also said that equal and equal loved to join each other and at least regarding their intelligence quotients they seemed to be at one level.
It wouldn’t mean so much, if at least Peter could come over for the holidays. But of course he had to track down the latest season gossip, scandals and sensations in Hollywood. He hadn't even called in over the last few days. Howard sighed. Why the hell did he have to fall in love with a sensation reporter? Most likely, he wouldn’t be more than another juicy morsel for a brilliant story, written by the one-and-famous Peter Malloy, adding a private bonus by (accidentally) mixing in some private fun into the mélange. He even started thinking, that now Peter couldn’t just muster the courage to come and give him the news blow by blow, ending their… flirt. Or even worse, that Peter didn’t care a shit about his feelings…
“Howard, I have a postcard for you,” interrupted postman Emmett the teacher’s thoughts. "And I wish you a merry Christmas, too.”
“Thanks and season’s greetings to you and your family.” Howard's mood suddenly brightened, as he held the card in his hands but that was only a brief hope. Unfortunately the Christmas greeting card was not from Peter Malloy, the eloquent reporter with whom he had an relationship since this memorable events started from the Oscar celebration and Cameron Drake’s speech about his gay teacher. The card only came from his former student Jack, who wished him a merry Christmas and thanked him that Howard’s example had helped him with his own coming out. He lived now happy with a friend from college.
Howard sighed as he unlocked the door to his house. It seemed to him, everybody was happily in love – only he didn’t know what to think about a man, he would only see for some hours, when school break allowed him to travel from Greenleaf to Los Angelos. And even for the scanty time they would spent together, he had to lure away Peter from tracing the footsteps of the rich and beautiful. Almost impossible was to get Peter to take a vacation and visit Greenleaf, hoping the reporter would just shed his professional enthusiasm like a snake its skin. What the hell had Peter even found in him? Most likely he could have any good looking gay guy from Hollywood and as rumours were there were a lot of good looking gay guys there.
For a moment he wondered, if it would have been better to marry Emily and to pretend to live a ‘normal’ life. But then he shook his head. No, it would have been impossible for him to spend the rest of his life, trying to hold up an image lager-than-life. He had done it already long enough. But this would become really a very lonesome Christmas.
Part 2: Together
"Merry Christmas, Love.” Still not completely inside, two strong arms caught Howard, pulling him into a passionate embrace and a heated kiss, accompanied by the not familiar tickling of a moustache.
"Peter, you have come," Howard mumbled dizzily as he was released from the hug. “You’re here.”
"Of course." Peter smiled at his friend. “You didn’t really think I’ll leave you to celebrate Christmas all alone, did you?”
“You haven't phoned for a week and didn’t answer my calls either," Howard said quietly and hung his jacket up. " I started to think you’re through with me…”
"Hey, silly.” Peter pulled his friend again in an embrace. "I love you. You know this, don’t you?”
This time Howard shrugged his shoulders. "Yes, of course... I do know...,” he stammered. “I just don’t understand what you see in me. You can have whoever you choose… in Hollywood.”
"But I only want you. Just believe me, Love" Peter kissed his partner lovingly, but was interrupted by a barking sound as a lively ‘wool ball’ of indefinable race came running from the connecting room.
Howard let go of his lover and bent down to crawl the dog. "Hello Sparky," he said tenderly. The dog answered with a lot of enthusiastic tail wagging
"I hope you have no problem with the fact that I brought him along?" Peter said. "But I thought so he can get already accustomed to Greenleaf."
“Get Accustomed?” Howard looked up confusedly. "You’re not planning to let him with me?”
"Actually we both would like to stay with you." Peter cleared his throat. “If it is okay with you of course."
Howard stared at his friend with an open mouth. Some moments before, he had thought that Peter was no longer interested in him at all and now he wished to move in? "But your job?" he asked astonished. His working for TV always had been the most important in Peter’s life, that he knew. And in Greenleaf hardly ever happened enough to deliver permanently interesting stories to be in the news.
Peter shrugged his shoulders. "I cancelled," he said. "That’s why you couldn't reach me. I had to sort some things out, to settle some things and I wanted to have everything straightened out before I told you."
Howard straightened. "You give your job up because of me?" he whispered astonished. Did Peter really love him so much that he wanted leave his old life behind and give up his career for him?
"To be honest...,” Peter said. “You know about the trouble I lately had with my boss…”
"He still wants you blonde?" Howard threw in.
"I’ve heard rumours about being replaced by a younger guy more sooner than later. I’d preferred to make it my decision when to go, before someone tries to get me back down to second line – or fire me. However, the prospect of being together with you now has made it a very easy choice," he emphasised.
"But you love your job more then anything else. The limelight, the admiration... surely you can work for another station..." Howard couldn't believe that Peter Malloy voluntarily wanted to resign of all this – and because of him. Well, not only for ‘him’ – but he chose to ignore the rest for the moment.
"Yes, I admit, I’ve enjoyed to be in the stampede – but that’s all past now," Peter honestly answered. "Lately I realised more and more how cynical and disdaining my profession has become. For a good story - and to keep the quote - you have to go over corpses, ignoring what it does to your victims.”
Howard nodded. "I know this first handed," he said. After all some months ago he had been one of Peter's "victims" himself. He remembered all to well how the reporters had hunted him, wanting to report after the Oscar celebration about the gay teacher of Oscar-winner Cameron Drake. But in the end, however, obviously these events had not only brought him to think about his life and future - but also Peter. And they had given him Peter’s love. So therefore after all something good had come out of this whole mess.
"I didn't want this any more, I simply couldn’t do it any more," Peter said. "I would never have dreamed how easy it would be for me to give up my job. But now I feel so free as never before.”
"And I hope you welcome me,” he added. "I look forward to a life without hustle and bustle and stars and headlines and primarily to a life with you, love."
"Of course." Howard kissed his friend tenderly. "I’ll love nothing more then this prospect. But what do you want to do here?” He suddenly was afraid, Peter would soon be bored, living in the quiet city of Greenleaf, Indiana. Too great was the difference to his former life in the big and lively L.A. What then? Would he then leave him one day?
"I’ll write," Peter explained. "I wanted to do this already since a long time. Novels, scripts perhaps something for serious newspapers. You surely have a local paper here? But at first I have a contract for a book about my life as a Hollywood reporter. I was the last days in New York to make the deal perfect. That’s why you couldn’t reach me in L.A."
He suddenly swept Howard into his arms. "And for now the only thing I want to do is celebrating Christmas with you – and our reunion."
Before Howard could protest, Peter had carried him into the bedroom, putting him down onto the bed and started to undress first Howard then himself. When Howard looked around the room, he had to laugh. Mistletoe branches hung everywhere. Peter noticed his look and grinned: "I intend to kiss you everywhere and anytime over the next days… and more,” he declared. "After all we have to make up for quiet a time. I’ve missed you so much."
With this he laid down beside his lover, starting to stroke tenderly over Howard’s body, placing butterfly-like kisses on his lover’s shoulder - and for a long time any talk was forgotten.
"Gosh,” Howard stretched, not knowing how long they made love, only aware that it was - with the thought that they could stay together as long as they wished without any working schedule to be taken in consideration - more fantastic then ever before. “That was great.”
"Groggy?" Peter asked and kissed him tenderly.
"Satisfied for now - and so happy," Howard replied and nestled close to his partner. But suddenly he jumped out the bed. “Damn!”
"What’s wrong?" Peter asked.
"I’m not prepared for Christmas at all. I didn’t plan to celebrate it, with everyone gone. I have neither a tree nor a turkey. Hopefully not all shops already have closed."
“No problem.” Peter also got up. "I’ve brought everything with me. The tree is in the living room and the turkey... oh damn."
Naked as he was Peter run out the room. "Sparky, you damn..." came it soon from the kitchen.
Howard put a robe on and followed him. In the kitchen he found a desperately looking Peter and an innocently looking dog as well as the rests of a turkey.
"I just was about to prepare him as you arrived,” Peter explained. "I then of course forgot him completely."
"It doesn’t matter," Howard took his friend comfortingly into his arms. "We just eat outward. Or we only live from love.”
Peter laughed. "I’ll come back to your offer. And you, my friend," he turned to the dog, "you’re on diet for today, you already had enough." Sparky friendly wagged his tail.
Then he reached for Howard's hand and pulled him into the living room where an decorated tree waited. "Come, at least open your present. I don't want to wait till the Christmas morning.” He pushed a packet into Howard’s hand.
Howard carefully loosened the paper, opened the little box and held two rings in his hand. "I know we cannot marry legally, but I would like to be… engaged… with you, as sign of our love and belonging together” Peter said tenderly. He pushed one of the rings onto Howard’s finger, then took a cover out from under the tree. "To celebrate our engagement I would like to invite you to Hawaii in your next holidays. I ever wanted to drive over the island in a red Ferrari and together with you...“
"…if you agree and want me, of course,” he added timidly.
"I love you," Howard whispered touched and near tears. Peter loved him, Peter wanted to be with him for ever. He was so infinitely happy. How had he could be so full of doubts recently? "Forever yours,” he said and put the second ring onto Peter’s finger. They then kissed passionately.
”But there is something which you have to explain to me,” Howard asked as they finally came brook apart. "Why do you have grown a moustache?”