When Eddie heard that one of his favorite bands had moved to a smaller town in Maine, he didn’t know that it meant they moved to his town. To Derry. Where he lived. He would have had an aneurysm on the spot. But, then again, he’s having one now so it doesn’t really matter now, right? In the grand scheme of things? You could say so. However, that still didn’t change the fact that this one is much, much worse.
He, Eddie Kaspbrak, is standing in the middle of the bookstore, trying not to pass out. He had just walked out of the fiction section, having had to search for a good 15 minutes for a book. Upon leaving unsuccessful, he heard laughter. Obviously, he had to investigate. Seriously, he didn’t think anyone else his age even went to this place. And who else would be laughing in this place besides teenagers? So, being the nosy person he was, he looked. Bad decision. Why? Well, because, frankly, two members of said favorite band were right there. Standing in the YA section. In front of him. In Derry. Again, where he lived.
And honestly? At first glance, he would have just thought it was two normal teenagers. One girl and one boy. Except everyone seems to know everybody here and these people, he’s never seen in his life and not only that, but something in him tells him he has actually seen them before. Something from his gut. Something he feels like he needs to trust. Then he hears the laughter again and he sees the girl’s bright red hair move with her and he sees the way the tall, tall boy moves in a weird fashion and suddenly he knows. He was right. He has seen them before.
Look, he’s not their biggest fan. They have good music! And, plus, they’re the same age as him. They’re also down to earth and funny. They’re cool. Also, he guesses the lead singer and guitarist is cute but like, that’s not important. He has other things to think about. Like how he needs to remember to breathe and he needs to keep his books in his hands or else. He can’t be noticed noticing them. Taking an extremely deep, extremely shuddery breath, he ducks into one of the aisles. He needs to calm down. They’re not that popular. They’re just trying to buy books, just like him. They are normal people, just like him. His hand - which was shaking now - hovers over his inhaler in the pocket of his overalls. He didn’t want to use it but his lungs ached and he was kind of freaking out now because the lead singer and guitarist was there in the bookstore and he’s even cuter in person and oh my God. Even from the back. And now, he lives in the same place as Eddie. He’s in the same place as Eddie.
Maybe he likes them more than he’s willing to admit. Jesus, okay, he needs to get a grip. He slowly begins to take out his inhaler, almost mechanically. He didn’t want to use it but his lungs seem to be running out of air and they seem to be getting smaller and smaller by the second and he just really wants to calm down so he can buy his books and leave as quickly as possible. As he puts it to his mouth, some part of him wonders why he’s freaking out this much. He doesn’t get his answer. He doesn’t even get to use his inhaler because he hears a voice. A stupid voice that knocks him straight out of this thoughts.
“Hey, cutie, you okay?”
He knows that voice. He’s heard it before. In interviews and in songs. And holy shit, cutie.
The inhaler falls out of his mouth. He coughs loudly and stumbles. The books he was holding fall from his arm in a cascade and hit the shelves on their way down to the carpeted floor. Each one makes a loud clanking noise. Eddie isn’t sure if each book falling was even that loud, or if it was his heightened anxiety. God, why can’t he calm down. God, why is this happening to him.
“Shit! Shit shit shit shit,” He whispers, quite loudly and scrambles to pick them up.
“Hey! Hey, it’s okay I got it.” That voice says again, and suddenly someone is leaning down to help him.
Forget someone, he knows exactly who it is. But he’s got too much pride and way, way too much anxiety to admit it. He’s gonna need to tell Bill about this later. But that’s later, and this is right now, Eddie, pull yourself together. Pull yourself together. Richie Tozier is in front of you. Richie Tozier called you cutie. Richie Tozier offered to help pick up your books.
“Oh, thanks, I guess.” Eddie straightens, wheezing a little, slipping the inhaler back into his pocket, trying to sound somewhat composed. Desperately trying to seem like everything is normal.
“Only for you, cutie.” The voice, no Richie, says as he hands Eddie his books. His hand brushes against Eddie’s for the quickest of seconds and suddenly all of Eddie’s air is gone again.
Despite this, and against his will, he rolls his eyes.
“Have any other names or is that the only one? Cause it’s getting old really quickly.” He wishes he could shut himself up. But that’s what he does when he’s nervous. Talks. Snaps back.
“What do you suppose I call you then?” Richie is smirking now and Eddie can’t stop staring. He can’t look away, despite the fact that he’s getting kind of annoyed now. But, maybe a good kind of annoyed. Possibly.
“Eddie.” Eddie says, letting his voice fall flat and somewhat deadpan.
Richie’s smirk morphs into a bright grin. If Eddie wasn’t smitten before he certainly was now.
“Alright, Eds.” He smiled even brighter and lightly touched Eddie’s cheek.
The initial shock and anxiety was now gone. That didn’t stop him from wanting to pass out when Richie’s cold fingers grazed his face, though. Maybe it was just the fact that Richie’s hand could have been covered in thousands and thousands of germs and it just touched his face. Maybe it was the fact that it was just Richie. Richie Tozier. It was probably just Richie, because he didn’t even flinch under his touch. He didn’t move away, rambling about the transference of germs. And the thought of germs didn’t even cross his mind when their hands brushed. Blinking, he pulls himself back into the conversation and somehow finds the strength to roll his eyes again.
“Don’t call me that either. That’s somehow worse than cutie.” Eddie isn’t sure that’s how he really feels. He says it anyways. He thinks it anyways.
“Come on Eds, don’t like the truth?” Richie giggles. It was melodic, it sounded like something out of one of his songs. Sweet and loud. Eddie felt almost sad when the sound stopped.
“It depends on what we’re talking about, Trashmouth.” Eddie bites back a smile. Come on Eddie, not now.
“Oh, you wound me, Eds.” Richie flings back, dramatically leaning against one of the shelves, slinging a hand over his chest, sending books toppling over.
“Do you always have a disregard for public property?” God, Eddie kind of wishes he could shut up. He doesn’t know if he can, though.
“Most of the time, yeah,” Richie smirks again, still leaning against the shelves. Eddie’s heart flutters, “So, you come here often?”
“Yeah, I, uh, live here.” Eddie suddenly feels the need for his inhaler again and he doesn’t know why. He was doing so well.
“Good to know, good to know.” Richie is nodding somewhat seriously, his face completely solemn, attentive and it feels like the air comes flooding back into Eddie’s lungs just so he can stifle a laugh.
“What?” There’s something in the way Richie is holding himself. It makes Eddie want to laugh more.
“Nothing. Nothing.” But it isn’t nothing. It’s everything. He’s - him! Eddie Kaspbrak- talking to Richie Tozier and Richie is flirting with him. Badly. Like so bad. The whole situation seems so funny in the moment. Though, if you told Eddie a month ago he would be in a bookstore flirting with his actual “celebrity” crush he would have dropped dead.
But, right now he isn’t dead. He’s alive and he’s laughing, albeit a little nervous.
“Clearly it’s something.” Richie tries his best to seem serious but his voice is wavering with unreasonable laughter too.
“Maybe it is. Maybe it isn’t” Eddie starts to smile, the laughter beginning to dissolve in his throat.
“You like to keep a man on his toes, I like that Eds.” Richie says, still leaning against the bookshelves, looking, somewhat, like a complete dork. It made Eddie smile more.
“I thought I told you to not call me that, Trashmouth.” Eddie crosses his arms over his chest, still smiling, trying to ignore the way his heart felt when Richie called him “Eds,” trying to ignore how his heart beat out of his chest whenever Richie looked at him.
“You weren’t serious now, were you?” Richie fakes a wounded face once again. Eddie couldn’t believe someone so annoying could be so good looking and so charming.
“I was completely serious, just so you know,” Eddie uncrosses his arms and points the air where Richie was, resting against a bookshelf, surrounded by fallen books he hadn’t bothered to pick up. He looked beautiful, somehow. Eddie forces that thought away, “And, I have to get home. I guess it was nice talking to you, Trashmouth.”
“Going so soon, dear Eds?” Richie cocks his head, his curls moving along with him.
Just when Eddie was about to reply, say something clever, a last word, another voice joins the conversation. Another voice he recognized.
“Richie? Where the hell did you go?” It was Beverly Marsh. The other member of that band Eddie not so secretly loved, “Jesus, I look away from you for one second and you find someone else to bother.”
“Why, I’m sorry, Bev. Dear Eddie Spaghetti and I were just having a riveting conversation in your absence.” Richie was smiling again, but this time at Beverly, and Eddie feels a pang of emotion. A pang of, jealousy. He’s so pathetic, he didn’t even bother to stop him from calling him another stupid nickname.
Beverly looks over at him, a laugh ghosting over her lips.
“I’m sorry for whatever he said to you.” Beverly has a nice smile, even when there was sympathy seeping thickly into it.
“It’s okay. He wasn’t that annoying.” Eddie smiles back.
“He handled me well, if I do say so myself.” Richie pulls himself off the shelves, straightening himself out.
“I guess I’ll take that as a compliment,” Eddie says, tightening his grip on his books, checking his watch. Shit, he really had to go, “Sorry, I actually, really need to leave now.”
Richie and Beverly say nothing as he turns away, Richie just finger gunning and smirking for the millionth time. Beverly just smiling widely, waving like maybe she’ll see him again.
“OH! You should take that as a compliment, Eddie Spaghetti!” He hears Richie shout from behind him as he was a few steps out of the aisle.
“I’m already walking away, Trashmouth, already walking away.” And Eddie was. He was walking away and smiling like a complete idiot. He can’t believe that just happened. His heart feels so light yet so heavy and he thinks it might come up his throat and out of his mouth if he tries to talk again.
Back in the aisle, Beverly was laughing. Laughing at Richie.
“Stop laughing at me Bev! He’s cute.” Richie whines, laughing a little too.
“ ‘Trashmouth.’ He calls you Trashmouth, after one conversation,” Beverly stops for a second, “And I’m not laughing at your taste in guys, I’m laughing at how insanely perfect he is for you. It is seriously so weird. You need to keep him, I swear.”
“See! He’s the best. I think I’m in love.” Richie, dramatically, of course, puts a hand against his forehead.
“In love already? Wow. He must be really special. Even after one little interaction.” Beverly starts to finally leave the aisle, Richie trailing behind.
“You didn’t even hear the first part!”
Suddenly, Richie, forgetting about his bout of dramatics earlier, trips on one of the books he knocked over.
“Falling for him already huh, Trashmouth?”
“Shut up, Bev,” Richie says as he slowly gets up, but there is no malice to his tone and his smile seeps into his words.