“I lost it.”
Ben croaked out, his throat feeling tight and dry. He didn’t cry. He couldn’t cry. No matter how hard it was hitting him, no matter how bad his heart aches as he sat amongst the mess he made of the dorm room. It felt as if someone was holding his heart outside of his chest, digging their long fingers nails into it, squeezing it with all the means to turn it into liquid.
“Ben? What did you lose Ben?”
He could vaguely hear a voice ask, calling out to him. It sounded so far away and it only made his fingers tighten around the shell of his ears, as if ready to tear them off.
“So, if I understand completely, you’re goi-” Eddie began saying as he walked up to Ben on the other side of the counter where he soon sat the order. The two of them bumped into each other after spending an entire year in the same college. To Eddie’s defense, Benjamin Changed, with a capital ‘C’. He had lost most of the baby weight he still carried through high school, with just the right amount of softness that still made him the best person to hug, something that was tested by Eddie himself the second he recognized him. He still had that sweet face with full cheeks, even though he had the beginning of a stubble that made it look like he had a jawline that could cut a diamond. Overall; Ben Hanscom Looked Good.
“If they like what I sent them, they’re going to publish my poetry.” Ben finished, nodded his head along to his every word as if he still had to convinced himself that this was happening. For a while, nothing felt real. Everything was going his way. Everything simply… Everything was great. He had met back with Eddie five months ago. For two months now they were going on steady dates whenever Eddie had time between his barista job and his studies in Child Care.
It blew Ben's mind thinking back to how miserable he, himself, was in Derry, amidst his amazing friends and lovely parents, and that he now was this genuinely happy both in his life, in his own skin and sexuality. His train of thoughts was broken off by arms suddenly wrapping themselves around his shoulder and hugging him so tight he could barely let the chuckle escape him.
“Benjamin! This is amazing news!” He heard loud and clear, Eddie almost screaming in joy as he hugged him from above the counter.
“I’m so proud of you. We have to call everyone tonight to let them know. God knows Richie needs a heads up so he can save some cash and buy it.”
Ben could feel something shift two years later. There was something his lover wasn’t telling him. That much he knew. But he had yet to put his hands on exactly what. They didn’t spend as many nights together anymore, hell Ben barely was even allowed to set foot into Eddie’s dorm nowadays. If they hung out it was at Ben’s, which he would never complain about, but they never could do much because Eddie always seemed so tired and Ben, being the mom that he was, didn’t want to tire him further. So they would always end up binging a series and cuddling up in his way too small bed. He suspected that it was because of his studies, after all, studying to become a doctor was a lot more work than he thought it was before he dated Eddie. But there was still a little something that ticked him off. But whenever he tried bringing up the fact that he looked like he hadn’t sleep in years Eddie would either joke around or kiss him ever so softly he found himself melting in his hands.
“Get up buttercup.” He heard Eddie say once he was out of the bathroom where he had run to, extending his hands. When Ben looked back up to him, he didn’t expect to be met with the sweetest smile he had ever seen. If there was one thing about Eddie Ben had noticed was that, even with the darkest of undereye bags and the faded glow in his skin; he still looked like an angel, the most beautiful man to grace this planet. “I’m taking you out.”
“Eddie, we should-”
“Will you seriously make me drag you out of his building? Cause you know I will.” Ben rolled his eyes as he was reminded of the numbers of time little Kaspbrak prove he was a Strong little Kaspbrak. He got up from his bed, taking in the frail hand, which Ben took notice in that it was so much frailer than he remembered, before being dragged out of his dorm.
All the way to a build-a-bear shop. Not at all where Ben had expected they’d go, but happier than ever that it wasn’t a bar, even if they were the only adults, aside from parents, that were in the store. He looked down at Eddie curiously, as if asking what they were doing here. Eddie didn’t answer him yet though, waiting until he had brought him to the first station aka where they choose which plushy they want.
“So. What we are doing is, we’ll create a plushy for one another okay? Don’t think about the price, just do whatever you want. Keep in mind whatever you do is mine though.” He said eagerly, bony hip bumping against his lightly before running off with a plushy he had already chosen to get it stuffed while Ben stood there, watching him talk to the lady with a fond smile. It was nice. Feeling Eddie being so full of life again was something rejuvenating and that made his heart skipped a beat. He had missed that childish side of him this past year.
Eddie made a Teddy Bear dressed in blue scrubs he had called Teddy Love aka Dr.Love while Ben did a Bunny that wore a ‘Love you to the moon & back’ t-shirt, glasses, pants and that held a book who he had called Benjie.
“How original.” Eddie had teased, even though he pressed a kiss to his bunny’s head, holding onto it and the pictures the woman ever so kindly printed of their little ‘family’ at the ‘passport/birth certificate’ booth. The arm Ben had around Eddie’s shoulder tightened a bit, bringing him closer as he planted a kiss onto his forehead, then the tip of his button nose before he pulled away slightly, smiling widely as Eddie groaned, still awaiting his kiss. “Don’t make a guy wait, Hans-.”
Eddie had begun to complain before he was shut up by the lips he had waited for, smiling against ben’s lips a little when he heard the disgusted sound of the kid waiting in line behind them to pay.
The thing that Ben had been dreading finally happened. So suddenly that he was at a signing when he got the call that flipped his world upside down.
“Mr.Hanscom, Edward Kaspbrak put you as his ICE, could you please come to the Saint-Jupiter hospital? I don’t think we should talk over the phone.”
He hated every second of the car ride to the hospital, his manager insisting on driving him there. Just like he hated every second he was at the hospital. Just like he hated every word that was said to him. Just like he hated that he felt absolutely nothing. Because somehow, it didn’t hit him. It took for him to be back at his dorm, in his bed cuddling Dr.Love for the facts to crash down on him. And at the moment it all crashed, he couldn’t help but hate Eddie for hiding the fact that he was sick but hated himself only more when he realized all the signs were there, he was just too blind to see. His body ached as it was racked by sobs that kept on going for hours and hours, each time getting louder, heavier, to the point where his neighbors banged on the wall yelling for him to shut up. And he tried. He tried to muffle his cries.
But he felt everything so vividly, so harshly, that all he wanted to do was scream. Scream until he lost his voice. Scream until he felt nothing else than the burning of his throat. Because, as the tears burned their way down his face, as his heart bled out, as his head pounded, as his body seize up every so often making him squeeze the stuffed bear hard enough to make him say; “I love you!” and “See you later, Alligator.” that was recorded by Eddie, he felt everything. From the pure joy, he ever brought him, the softness of each kiss, the tenderness behind every caress, the butterflies in his stomach whenever they shared ‘I love you’. He hated it. He didn’t want to feel all of this. He wanted it all to stop. Because he couldn’t help but feel miserable at the thought that maybe if he hadn’t been so blind, he could’ve saved him.
“I lost my Teddy Bear.”