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Rebuilding You and Me

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In future years, Richie would remember the day after they defeated IT as the Impossible Day. Impossible for so many reasons. First and foremost, they were alive. All of them made it out alive. Mike was in the hospital, Eddie was missing an arm and all of them were battered and bruised (physically and psychologically) but they were alive . It was more than Richie ever expected, especially down in the sewers when they had been up against IT disguised as a giant spider. Richie had known real fear only a few times in his life and that, seeing Eddie lying in a pool of his own blood while IT reared back to attack again, that was an image he’d never forget.

The second reason was that they were all together again- at least, most of them. It was impossible to forget that one of them was missing. Stan hadn’t showed up and Mike had been the one to tell them what happened. It had ripped through all of them, the loss of someone before the battle even began. Though Richie suspected that Stan had been fighting a battle none of them had seen for a long time.

Even with only the six of them Richie had felt something pulsing, something old and powerful that only happened when they were all together.  He had forgotten the power in that, how it felt to be with the other losers. Something pulsed through them when they were all there, something that felt, well, impossible. Everything about this felt impossible- that he could have ever forgotten his friends, that they were together now, that Eddie- his Eddie- was so close that Richie could reach out and touch him.

Of course, Eddie wasn’t his, Richie remembered as he glanced at Eddie, lying so still in the hospital bed that he could have been dead. The stump that had been his left arm was wrapped up, looking less like an arm and more like a single colored maypole.  Even with his wedding ring gone deep down IT’s gullet, Eddie was married.

He couldn’t resist reaching over and smoothing down a stray strand of hair, his hand lingering on Eddie’s forehead. Richie was glad he was finally sleeping. He had been having nightmares all night, tossing and turning, until the doctors finally gave him something to knock him out. Richie suspected that they would all be having nightmares for some time.

“Knock knock,” His head whipped up as Ben and Bev entered the room, holding hands. “Hey Richie.” Ben said, smiling warmly at him. Richie was again shocked that he he could have ever forgotten them, his best friends.

“He’s still asleep,” Richie explained, though it was obvious. “Doctors said that he’s fine except for-” He shrugged and they nodded.

“Have you showered yet Richie?” Bev asked, her voice soft but insistent.

He shook his head. He knew he was still covered in dirt and grim from the sewers but, “I wanted to be here, when he woke up.” He gestured to Eddie, unable to stop his eyes from catching on how abruptly his arm ended. He couldn’t let Eddie wake up alone.

“We’ll stay.” Ben offered. “Go to the hotel, take a shower. Maybe grab Eddie’s clothes.” Ben paused then. “If you can.” For all they knew Eddie’s room was still roped off, a crime scene for a murder none of them felt any guilt for.

“You’ll feel better.” Bev added.

Richie looked at Eddie once more, then ran a hand through his hair. The greasiness of it convinced him. He nodded. “I’ll be back in an hour.”

“Take your time.” Bev said, pulling him into a tight hug.

Richie went back to his hotel room, almost falling asleep in the shower. He hadn’t realized how tired he was until he was alone. He refused to sink into it though, knowing he’d probably sleep for 10 hours if he laid down now.

Once he was in clean clothes he felt better. Holding his dirty ones he decided to throw them away, there was no chance that he could wear them again without thinking of those sewers.

Next he went to Eddie’s room and slipped under the police tape. He started throwing things in a suitcase he found, carefully avoiding the blood stains on the floor. He thought about bringing Eddie’s things to his room but he didn't know if that was what Eddie wanted. They hadn’t been able to talk about next steps. They hadn’t talked about anything. Everything had been about surviving the that day, not about what happened next.

Richie paused, remembering how it felt when he saw Eddie in the Chinese restaurant, the memories returned in pieces but the emotions hit him like a tidal wave. How he felt when his arm was around Eddie, the way his stomach dropped when Eddie smiled at him, all the almosts they had. He gripped the handle of the suitcase, praying that he wasn’t the only one who felt like that. He couldn’t be.

Forcing himself to focus he left the room, heading back to the hospital. The drive took a while, since much of the town had collapsed but Richie didn’t mind. It gave him time to think about everything that had happened, time to actually process the last 47 hours.

Of course as soon as he had time to think he wished for a distraction. It was too much; everything had a surreal feel to it, like it had been a vivid dream, and Richie felt the fear creeping back in, the terror that maybe IT wasn’t dead, that it had somehow fooled them again. There was nothing else for him to focus on though. He wasn’t ready to turn on the radio, not after ‘Richie’s All Dead Rock Show’ blaring out last time he had.

He finally made his way back to the hospital, stopping by Mike and Audra’s rooms first. Mike was awake and asked about the others but Richie didn’t stay to talk long, he was itching to get back to Eddie. He promised to see him again before he left town.

Audra’s room was easier to leave. Bill barely glanced at Richie when he walked in, too focused on his wife. He mumbled a few one word answers to Richie’s questions, his mind clearly elsewhere. Richie left quickly. Finally, he went back to Eddie’s room, both disappointed and a little relieved to hear that Eddie hadn’t stirred.

“What are you going to do Richie?” Bev asked when he slipped back in the room. She and Ben had pushed the chairs together, Bev’s head rested on Ben’s shoulder.

“Go home, try to forget.” He said, falling into the final chair and rubbing his face. He had gotten some coffee on his way back in but it wasn't helping.

Bev shook her head and raised an eyebrow, looking at the sleeping figure in the bed. “With Eddie?” She added.

He sighed, leaning over and grabbing Eddie’s hand in his own and giving it a small squeeze. “I don’t know. I-” He hesitated, not sure if he should tell them. But then, this was Bev. And Ben. Even if it had been years since they talked he knew that they’d understand and wouldn’t judge him.

“I want him to come back, with me.” He said it as much to them as himself. “I don’t want to lose him again.”

“So ask him.” Ben said.

“He’s married.” Richie forced himself to say it out loud, his stomach twisting as he did.

“Not happily,” Bev mumbled, looking at her hand where her own ring had been only yesterday.

“It’s been decades. We don’t know each other anymore.” He was making excuses and they knew it. But he was scared, both to lose Eddie and to ask him to come because if he said no Richie wasn’t sure how he could go back to his empty house, knowing that he’d never see Eddie again.

Ben shook his head. “I don’t think it matters. For any of us.” He looked at Bev and she gave a firm nod. He stood and put a hand on Richie’s shoulder. “If the past few days taught us anything it’s that life is short, ask the man to move in.”

“When did you get so wise?”

Ben laughed. “It’s my old age.”

Bev walked over and wound her hands around Ben’s waist, leaning into him. “We’re going to visit the others. We should all get dinner later, before we go.” Without it being explicitly said everyone knew that Bev and Ben would be leaving together, like Richie hoped he could with Eddie.

Once they left Richie turned his attention back to Eddie, looking at the small signs of aging on the sleeping man- small patches of gray hair, the beginnings of crow’s feet around his eyes. But it didn’t make him less handsome, rather it added to it. The only disappointment Richie felt was that he hadn’t spent those years with Eddie.

“Why did I let you go Eds? What was I thinking?” He asked, rubbing his thumb on the back of Eddie’s hand. He couldn’t remember saying goodbye to Eddie, their last conversation. He hoped that he told Eddie how much he meant to him but, somehow, he doubted it.

“I’ll make it up to you Eds, once you wake up.”

Then, almost on cue, Eddie stirred. Richie pulled back, watching as Eddie slowly woke up, blinking and looking around.

“Richie?” He asked, trying to sit up by leaning on his elbows but of course he couldn’t. “Where is-” He looked at his stump, his mouth dropping in panic and horror. “What HAPPENED? WHAT THE FUCK WHERE IS MY ARM?”

Richie grabbed his shoulders, “Eds, breath, you need to breath. I’ll tell you but you need to relax.” Eddie’s eyes were wide, terrified and his breath was coming in short pants. Richie wasn’t sure that Eddie even heard him. A nurse appeared, checking Eddie’s charts and injectecting something into his IV.

“What was that?” Richie demanded, hands still on Eddie.

“WHAT HAPPENED TO ME?” Eddie asked again, looking from Richie to the nurse to his arm.

“I gave you something to calm you down.” She said. “You were in a car accident Mr. Kaspbrak.”

Eddie looked at Richie, immediately knowing that that was a lie, but they couldn’t exactly tell the hospital staff that Eddie’s arm was in an alien’s stomach.

“What did you give him? Will it knock him out again?” Richie asked, looking at the nurse. He didn’t want Eddie to go under again. He needed to talk to him. Eddie had stopped screaming but now there were tears running down his cheeks and Richie desperately wanted to explain everything.

“Are you family?” She asked, all business.

Richie shook his head, gripping Eddie a little tighter. “Well, no, not exactly.”

“Then go.” She pointed to the door. “We need to discuss options with Mr. Kaspbrak.”

Richie looked at Eddie again, hoping he’d say something  but he was too focused on his stump. “But I-”

“Go.” She said firmly, pointing to the door.

Richie left. He stood right outside the door, watching as a doctor went in, then a second nurse. Finally, nearly an hour later, they all left and he was allowed to go back in.

Eddie looked calmer. He had an array of pamphlets and photos in front of him, options for his new arm. He looked up as Richie entered, eyes following him as Richie sat.

“What really happened?” He asked, sounding exhausted. “The doctors said it was a car accident but don’t seem to believe it, then they told me about lotion and avoiding infection. Where’s everyone else? Are they okay?” There was an edge of worry in Eddie’s voice, fear that he was one of the lucky ones.

“They’re alive.” He said softly, watching Eddie relax. “What do you remember?”

Turned out he remembered most of it until his arm was bitten off. Richie took over from there, telling Eddie how they defeated IT and how Bill seemed certain that IT was really dead. He told Eddie about carrying his body out of the sewers, leaving out the part where he had to stop because he was crying too hard. He was sure Eddie was dead, they all were. He had been so still in Richie’s arms then, when they left the sewers, he’d taken a rasping breath, shocking everyone.

“Mike is okay then? Audra?” Eddie asked once he finished.

Richie nodded. “Mike should be getting out today. Audra,” He sighed. “We’re less sure about Audra. But everyone is hopeful. She’s alive.”

“That’s good.” Eddie said and Richie could see that he was already back to thinking about his arm. “They said I can leave today. But I don’t have any of my stuff. My clothes they’re all in the -”

As Eddie had spoken Richie stood, grabbing the bag he brought. “Here, I grabbed what I could. At least you can change out of the hospital gown.”

“Can I?” Eddie asked ruefully, looking at his stump. “I’m not sure I can.”

“I’ll help.” Richie offered.

Eddie looked at him, eyes downcast. “You don’t have to.”

“I want to. I’ll even give you a sponge bath if you ask nicely.” Richie added with a wink.

Eddie laughed, the sound music to Richie’s ears. He hadn’t been sure he’d ever get to hear it again. “Tempting but I’ll pass. I might go wash my face though.” Eddie pulled himself out of the bed, moving slowly. Richie leapt up, worried that Eddie might fall, but he made it to the bathroom on his own. Richie stood near the door, ready to leap in if Eddie called.

Once Eddie came out of the bathroom they started the slow process of getting him dressed. Eddie didn’t want help with most of it and Richie watched him struggle to button his pants or pull on his shirt. He kept huffing, obviously frustrated by his inability. After twenty minutes he finally agreed to let Richie button his pants and tie his shoes.

“Good as new.” Richie said, smiling at his friend.

“Hardly.” Eddie replied bitterly. “Getting dressed is going to take hours.”

“Give it time.” He said, putting a hand on Eddie’s shoulder. Eddie looked up at him with a small smile that made his heart flip. “Hey Eds I was wondering-”

Of course that was when Mike came in. His arm was in a sling but otherwise he looked good, if tired. All of them needed to sleep for about three days, Richie was sure. As they talked he stepped back, listening to Mike describe the fight and Eddie talk about his arm. Ben and Bev showed up soon after, everyone hugging Eddie and saying how brave he was. Richie watched from the corner. He loved this, his friends being together again, but he wanted to talk to Eddie alone. He needed to talk to him.

Eventually, Ben noticed that Eddie was yawning. “We should let you go.” He said. “We’re all meeting for dinner, hopefully Bill too.”

Eddie nodded and finally everyone else melted away, promising to text about dinner plans. Eddie turned to Richie. “Not sure where I can go. I guess I’ll rent a new room.” He grimaced, probably remembering the state of his room. “Wait- fuck, do they think I did it? Do they know?”

Richie shook his head. “We handled it.” Eddie raised an eyebrow and Richie quickly explained. Ben had dealt with it. The room was a crime scene but thankfully the hotel had cameras, they’d seen Henry enter and caught some of the attack. That, plus the destruction of the town, meant they were willing to let it go.

“Well, good, I guess. I still don’t have a room though. Not sure I’m welcome back.”
“You can stay in mine.” Richie offered quickly. Eddie raised an eyebrow so he continued. “I mean, why not. It’s easier. Not a lot of 5 star joints in Derry.”

He thought that Eddie was going to disagree but he nodded, the two walking to Richie’s car. It was a quiet ride, Richie couldn’t bring himself to ask Eddie the question on his mind. And he was sure that Eddie had a lot on his.

They got back to the hotel room where Eddie again struggled to take his jacket off. Richie leaned in close, pulling Eddie’s jacket off from in front of him. They ended up close, Richie staring down at Eddie while Eddie looked up at him.

“Eddie,” Richie said quietly. His hand went to Eddie’s cheek without intending to and Eddie leaned into it. This was the closest they’d been in years and Richie felt like he was 14 again, about to have his first kiss.

“Richie.” He replied. His lips were parted and his tongue darted out to wet them.

Richie bent down and brushed his lips against Eddie’s, slowly enough that Eddie could pull back.

He didn’t. He pushed himself against Richie and into the kiss, his one arm grabbing Richie’s and holding him close.

Richie forgot about everything else as they kissed- the reason he was in Derry, his life back home, everything.

Eddie pulled back, his lips wet from being against Richie’s.

“Move to California with me.” Richie said, quickly before he lost his nerve again.

“What?” Eddie squeaked, taking a step back.

“Move in with me. We can figure out your prosthetic. You don’t have to- it doesn’t have be anything. Unless you want it to be. I don’t know. But fuck, Eds. I don’t want to lose you again.” I can’t lose you again , Richie added silently, aching to reach out for Eddie, to hold him.

But Eddie was shaking his head. “That’s insane Rich. We barely know each other, it’s been decades.”

“What? There’s no one I know better than you.” Richie asked, confused. This wasn’t the answer he had expected. Eddie was still shaking his head and Richie pressed on.  “We’re meant to be, can’t you see that?” He grabbed Eddie’s hand in his own, pressing it to his heart. “I don’t want to go back to life without you. Do you Eds?”

Eddie swallowed, ignoring his question. “I’m married!” The other man protested, ripping his hand back. “Myra? Remember?”

“Do you love her?” Richie challenged. He couldn’t let him go this easily.

“I-” Eddie’s eyes darted around and he took another step back. “I need to shower Richie.”

Richie stepped aside, gesturing sarcastically to the bathroom. He was torn between being furious and broken. Eddie’s answer devastated him. He had been so sure that Eddie would say yes, that he’d be as excited as Richie, he never considered what he’d do if Eddie said no. He couldn’t imagine getting back on that plane and leaving everyone again, Eddie especially.

Falling to his bed, Richie covered his eyes with an arm, everything finally sinking in- losing Stan, Mike’s injuries, the sewers, Eddie… Eddie. He let himself feel it and soon he was crying, his tears falling onto the pillow. When he heard the shower turn off he forced himself to stop, taking deep breaths in and out until it didn’t hurt so much.