Eddie felt Richie toss and turn next to him in their queen sized bed. He sighed, temporarily setting down the newspaper he had been reading on the nightstand, and looked down at the sleeping man laying beside him. He snored quietly, and Eddie let a tiny, faint smile grace his lips.
He glanced around the small bedroom of their small apartment, breathing in the same faint scent of cigarette smoke and vanilla candle wax that he did every day. The candles didn’t drown out the stench of Richie’s bad habit like he had hoped, but now it simply felt customary to buy them - something he did in routine, not stopping to think about it anymore. Twisting his wedding band, he looked to the left at a photo of Richie and himself, taken a few years back just after they had started dating.
Those were the days. So adventuresome, so young, so in love.
Eddie sighed once more and shifted his gaze to the clock, focusing his tired eyes on the numbers. 12:39 a.m. He was only 27, and Richie 28, but he felt youth seemingly slipping away from him and old age creeping in like a disease. His shoulders twitched as he shivered at the thought.
Quietly, he pushed back the comforter and blankets that covered his lower half, excusing himself to the kitchen for a glass of water. He got up carefully, so not to wake Richie, sleeping so peacefully, freckled face perfectly illuminated by Eddie’s dim reading light.
Shuffling through the hallway and the living room on his way to the kitchen, Eddie noted how much everything stayed the same in their humble abode. They hadn’t rearranged any furniture since they moved in almost five years ago.
“Scratch that,” He mumbled to himself, his mind flooding with memories of the time Richie had moved all the furniture in the living room out of the way so that the two could dance together. But that was four years ago.
He reached up into the cupboard to grab a glass, more memories coming to mind of Richie teasing him about not being able to reach, and always making a point to not put things on too-high shelves, or doing just that on purpose just so Eddie would have to ask him for help. Eddie could always tell when Richie set him up like this, the shit-eating grin on Richie’s face never failed to give him away. ‘Need help there, Eddie Spaghetti, my love?’ He would say.
But Eddie couldn’t really remember the last time a situation like that occurred.
He yawned, filling the glass with filtered water. (’Richie, do you even know how many germs are in tap water? I refuse to drink that. Absolutely not.’)
Leaning against the counter in the pale white light of the kitchen, he sipped his water slowly, the coolness waking him up a bit on this typically boring Friday night. Well, Saturday morning by that time.
Flashbacks of Richie dragging him to bars and clubs and parties on Friday nights when they had both first turned 21 overtook him. He semi-chuckled when he remembered the time Richie got them kicked out by dancing on a table and proceeding to drunkenly cuss out a security guard. Eddie wasn’t even that mad at him for it - laughing about it the next morning, thinking he wouldn’t trade his trashmouth for any other person in the world.
Finished his water, he set the glass in the sink and gingerly walked into the living room, picking up yet another picture of himself and Richie that was set on the coffee table. In this, he’s on Richie’s back, Richie wearing a too-big yellow and black sweater, Eddie’s arms around his neck, and huge, open smiles filled with laughter on both of their faces.
“God,” Eddie whispered to himself, hastily putting the photo back, “We were so in love.”
He began to make his way back to the bedroom, although not particularly intent on sleeping, when he decided to pit-stop in the bathroom.
The bathroom was the only room in the house that didn’t reek of cigarette smoke. Eddie loved his clean, lemony-fresh scented bathroom.
“If I die of lung cancer,” Eddie quietly mused, rolling the cigarette smoke smell thought around in his head, “I blame you, Richie Tozier.”
He lounged in the bathroom for a few minutes, in front of the mirror. He traced the creased line on his forehead, wishing he wasn’t getting wrinkles already. How could he? His life lacked any excitement, and barely any stress, either. They got their bills paid on time and always had food to eat and a little money to spend. He had even stopped worrying about his mother years ago, cutting off all ties with her after she refused to show up to her own son’s wedding. Sure, Eddie didn’t think she would come, and didn’t even really want to invite her, but it would be a lie to say it didn’t sting a little.
With this thought, Eddie returned to the bedroom soundlessly, finding Richie in the same position he had left him. He crawled back in the bed and picked his newspaper back up, his eyes wandering to the personal columns. A poem with a short letter attached quickly caught his eye:
‘If you like pina coladas,
and getting caught in the rain,
if you’re not into yoga,
if you have half a brain,
if you like making love at midnight
in the dunes on the cape,
then I’m the love that you’ve looked for
write to me and escape.
I’m a bisexual man kind of in a lonesome, boring slum in my life. Some of my interests are summed up here, feel free to write back to me if you think you’re the love that I’m looking for.’
Eddie’s heart thumped as he read the lines, over and over again, as if he was memorizing them. He liked pina coladas, and he liked getting caught in the rain. He was never one for yoga, and had Richie to prove he certainly had half a brain. He could be open to making love at midnight in the dunes on the cape, albeit it being kind of unsanitary, it seemed rather intriguing to try.
Without thinking of the man sleeping next to that he had been with for so long, he got up once again, rushing to get a piece of paper and a pen, newspaper never leaving his grip. Eddie was starstruck by this anonymous man, and had full intentions to get to know him better.
And so, with his new-found excitement, Eddie wrote to the paper, taking out a personal ad:
‘Yes, I like pina coladas
and getting caught in the rain,
I’m not much into health food,
I am into champagne.
I’ve got to meet you by tomorrow noon
And cut through all this red tape
At a bar called O’Malley’s
Where we’ll plan our escape.
In response to the lonely, bisexual man: I’m a gay man in a similar situation. I’d love to get to know you and invite some excitement into both of our lives. Do me the pleasure?’
Although Eddie isn’t particularly good at poetry (He had only even written a poem once, for Richie, on an anniversary), he didn’t think it was half bad. Satisfied with himself, he tucked the letter away in a drawer of his dresser and reunited with the bed, plans of mailing the letter in the next morning filling his head as he fell asleep.
Richie woke up to sun flooding the room and shining in his eyes along with the smell of bacon.
‘That’s weird,’ He thought to himself, remembering Eddie sitting up reading the paper as he felt himself drift into sleep, ‘Eddie shouldn’t be awake this early if I fell asleep before him. And what is he cooking?’
Nevertheless, he stood up and stretched, his fingertips grazing the ceiling. He fumbled for his glasses on the bedside table. Putting them on his face, his vision cleared and he ran his fingers through his hair, sleepily shuffling into the kitchen.
He spied Eddie at the stove, back turned to him. Richie stopped in the doorway.
“What’s got you so chipper?” Richie crossed his arms over his chest, a small smile set on his lips as he spoke, leaning against the wall.
“Nothing in particular,” Eddie lied, “Just had to run some errands early this morning and ‘was in a good mood so I picked up some stuff to make. I made you a plate,” He nodded toward the plate set on the counter behind him when he feels a pair of arms circle around his waist and kisses being planted on his neck.
“No good morning kiss?” Richie hummed, resting his head on Eddie’s shoulder.
“You’re being weird,” Eddie stated, but turns his head and kisses Richie’s cheek anyway. Richie frowned.
“I am not.”
“You are.” Eddie argued, and Richie didn’t respond, removing his arms from Eddie’s torso and picking up his plate, moving to sit down at their table.
“What? No witty remark?” Eddie half-scoffed. Tension between the two was growing, and he was only pushing it.
Truthfully, a witty remark was all he really wanted to hear. A sign of youthful Richie, his Richie. Even a pinch on the cheek or a stupid nickname would have sufficed.
But what he received was a shrug of Richie’s shoulders, who looked down at his meal as he moved his food around, followed by a subtly bitter and hard “No.”
Eddie’s mouth moved into a hard line. There went his good mood.
Fifteen tense, silence-filled minutes pass before Richie declares he’s going to check their mail and get the newspaper. Eddie feels a pang of guilt run through him at the mention of the newspaper, remembering his ‘errand’ this morning.
Richie calmly leaves the room, barefoot and still only wearing pajama pants and a loose shirt, and walks down the hall to their mailbox.
Unlocking it, he quickly pulls out the newspaper, unwrapping it and hastily flipping to the personal columns.
He reads the response to his letter only once before shoving it back in the bag and putting the rubber band back on - hoping Eddie won’t notice. He allows a big smile to settle in his cheeks, repeating the letter in his head up until he gets back to their door and regains his composure.
Both barely speak to each other for the rest of the day, each unsure if it’s out of guilt or excitement or the general tension that seemed to plague their home nowadays.
The next morning Richie didn’t wake to the smell of breakfast being cooked, but found again that Eddie was already out of bed. God, when will he stop acting so weird?
He read the time: 10:47a.m. Shit!
He had somewhere to be at noon, somewhere Eddie couldn’t know about.
Eddie hummed in the shower, taking his time getting ready. He formulated the lie he’d have to tell Richie to get out of the house.
Almost as soon as Eddie got out of the shower, Richie got in, looking in a hurry.
Once Eddie dried his hair and gotten dressed (Making sure to douse himself in a little extra body spray because he knows his clothes probably smell like cigarette smoke) he saw that Richie was still in the shower.
He knocked on the door. “Richie?” He called.
“I’m heading out. Mike and Stan called a couple days ago and asked if I could go over and watch the kids for a couple hours today, it slipped my mind to tell you.” He lied, hoping it was convincing.
“Okay, I’ll see you when you get back. I love you,” Richie called back absentmindedly. Eddie gulped.
“I love you, too.”
And with that, he was high tailing it out the door and to his car, his watch reading 11:30.
Shoving the key into the ignition, Eddie carefully pulls out of the parking lot and switches on the radio. A familiar song plays:
It’s gonna take a lot to drag me away from you,
There’s nothin’ that a hundred men or more could ever do!
Eddie sweats and turns the knob, changing the station.
Remember to let her into your heart,
Then you can start to make it better.
“Jesus fuck,” He swears as he turns off the radio completely, trying desperately to think of anything but Richie. Couldn’t he have one thing to himself without the universe trying to guilt him over it?
He drives in silence but thankfully it doesn’t take long for him to pull into O’Malley’s, the bar he mentioned in his ad. Hopefully the guy would show, Eddie didn’t want to look like a dumbass waiting there for hours by himself.
He checks the time on his watch once more, 11:50. He’s perfectly punctual to his satisfaction, and he walks inside, taking a seat at the bar.
“Can I get you anything?” The bartender asserts.
“Nothing for now, thank you,” Eddie tries to entertain conversation to distract him from his nerves, “Just waiting for someone.”
The bartender shrugs in response, moving back to his dishes. The bar is nearly empty on this Sunday afternoon.
‘Oh, god,’ Eddie thinks, ‘Oh, god, this was a mistake. I shouldn’t have done this. Richie… How could I lie to him like this? How will I look him in the face ever again? He’s sitting home right now thinking I’m with Mike and Stan’s kids. Fuck, what if he calls Mike and Stan and finds out? I should’ve used a better cover…’
His anxious thoughts are interrupted by the bell of the front door jingling, and he immediately knows the smile of the man walking in. He knows the curve of his face, the freckled jawline unmistakeable.
Richie jumps out of the shower, free to be as in a rush as need be now that Eddie’s gone.
He quickly dries his hair and throws on some clothes, a nervous cigarette hanging from his lips as he dashes out the door.
The clock in his car tells him that it’s 11:50 and he’ll only be slightly late. He flicks on the radio, recognizing the song and smiling widely as he sings along.
“I was tired of my lady, we’d been together too long!
Like a worn out recording of a favorite song!
So while she lay there sleeping, I read the paper in bed!
And in the personal columns, there was this letter I read!”
Richie laughs to himself at the irony of the situation, trying his hardest to ignore the thoughts of Eddie rummaging through his head.
He’s stopped at a light that seems to be taking forever. An exhale from guilty lungs grounds him, and he turns off the radio and taps his hands against the wheel, quietly singing a different song.
It’s gonna take a lot to drag me away from you
There’s nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do
He reminisces all the times he stood outside Eddie’s window when they were teenagers, boombox held high above his head, yelling these same lyrics up to Eddie’s window.
Still idling at this damn red light, he pulls down the mirror from above him, the polaroid he took of Eddie dated ‘92 falling out. He snatches it from the air quickly and holds it, cradles it almost.
“I love you so much,” He sighs.
And he did. He did love Eddie. So, so much. He can’t remember a time in his life that he didn’t love Eddie. Everything about him, Richie adored - the way Eddie swatted his hands away from his cheeks, the way he proclaimed to hate the nicknames Richie gave him so long ago, the way Eddie just…existed.
The light turned green and as Richie neared O’Malley’s he forcefully thought less about Eddie and more about this stranger he was about to meet.
Richie had thought he had been rather bold in outing his sexuality, and was surprised to see a gay man had responded.
Richie only knew three openly gay men - and two, well, technically all three, were married.
Pulling into the parking lot, he checked the time and inhaled deeply, excitement bubbling in his stomach and making him smile. 12:09. Not bad.
He didn’t notice himself tucking the picture of Eddie into his jeans.
He also didn’t notice Eddie’s car parked 3 cars down from his own.
“Oh, it’s you,” Richie says, walking over to the spot Eddie was seated and taking the seat beside him.
“Yeah…” Eddie lets out an awkward giggle and Richie joins in, both laughing quietly as if they’d both caught each other in the act of pulling a prank.
“I never knew that you like pina coladas or getting caught in the rain,” Eddie muses, still nervous and not sure what was going through Richie’s mind, “and the taste of champagne.”
“Well, now you know. And for the record, Eds, if you wanted to make love in the dunes on the cape, you could’ve just said so,” Richie teases, the smirk evident across his face matching his raised eyebrows.
Eddie’s face grows hot as he blushes, “Shut up, Richie.”
“You love it, Eddie Spaghetti.” And it was true.
Richie reaches up and pinches Eddie’s cheek. Eddie swats him away, like he always has.
“Stop that, and don’t call me Eddie Spaghetti,” He holds his cheek, still warm, and looks down at his shoes before looking back up to Richie with big, doe eyes. Richie doesn’t hesitate to make eye contact.
“Well,” Richie stands, offering his hand for Eddie to take, “Lets get to it.”
“W-what?” Eddie asks, confused and still a bit flustered.
“We did make a bucket list, didn’t we? Don’t tell me you thought I was kidding, Eds,” Richie feigns disbelief upon seeing the odd look on Eddie’s face.
“When would I - Richard Tozier - ever joke about a serious matter?” He tosses again, making Eddie crack a smile.
“I guess we do have a bucket list, then.”
“Yep,” Richie responds, popping the ‘p’, “And you know what I think we should do first?” He leans in closer to Eddie’s ear, who was now standing, holding the taller man’s hand. “I think we should head down to the dunes,” He almost whispers, hot breath tickling Eddie’s neck.
Heat rises to Eddie’s cheeks once again.
“Let’s go home, trashmouth,” He rolls his eyes but lets the smile he feels shine on his face, getting up to match toward the door, still holding Richie’s hand.
“Okay, we can go home, but come to my car first,” Richie wiggles his eyebrows making the short man roll his eyes once more but giggle anyway.
“That can be saved for home, too, Rich.”
“Or I could just save it for your mother.” Richie shoots back, smiling.
“Be my guest,” Eddie banters back as they walk through the parking lot, still hand-in-hand.
“Is that a note of jealousy I hear? Don’t be upset, Eddie, baby, there’s plenty of me to go around.”
“Beep, beep, Richie,” Eddie says, biting back his smile, before tugging on the collar of Richie’s shirt to pull him down into a hard kiss.
After a moment, Richie pulls away, the unexpected kiss leaving him needing air, “Well, that’s one way to get me to shut the fuck up. You sure have a way with words, Eds,” He grabs Eddie’s hand once more, the two of them simply standing by Eddie’s car.
“I’ll see you at home,” Eddie smiles softly, “But don’t think you’re off the hook - I do want to talk about this. But-“
“But?” Richie questions for effect, raising his eyebrows. He couldn’t resist.
“But…” Eddie hesitates a minute, voice growing quieter, not really sure if he wants to say it. He stares at his feet, and Richie has to strain to hear, “It can wait until after the dunes.”
Richie laughs heartily, kissing his husband on the nose, “Oh, baby! Have mercy!” He exclaims, still laughing.
Chuckling, he turns to walk to his own car, but stops when his beloved calls for him, “Wait!”
He’s attacked by another kiss, Eddie sort of jumping on him.
The small boy pulls back, “I’m fucking in love with you,” He breathes, holding Richie’s face, “I am so fucking in love with you, Richie Tozier.”
Richie smiles, holding Eddie close to him, eyes pouring into eyes.
“And I’m in love with you, Eddie Kaspbrak. For now and for the rest of my life.”