It was a cold, dreary day in the small town of Derry, Maine. Richie Tozier carefully drew the butterfly he’d captured the night before, making sure to capture every facet of the insect’s beauty. He heard his mother let out a shriek as their carriage arrived and sighed, closing his sketchbook and letting the butterfly fly away.
Oh, how he wished he were that butterfly. He knew that no matter which poor woman ended up being his wife, he would never love her. After all, she was no man. Richie had known since he was 13 years old that he preferred men to women after an encounter with Greta Bowie.
“Richard! It’s time to leave.” His mother called out from downstairs. He fixed his tie before running down the stairs. He found his mother fretting over her appearance and fixing his father’s jacket. She ran over to him and immediately tried to tame his hair.
“Now Richard, everything must go according to plan. After this wedding, we will be brushing shoulders with the nobles!” His mother said, giving up on his wild curls. She pulled him outside where Mike was waiting.
“Madam, Sir. Richard.” He greeted, putting his apron on the ground so they could walk across. A faint smile appeared when Richie made a face at the use of his full name. He opened the door of the carriage and helped the Tozier’s through. He gave Richie a concerned look as he closed the door. Mike was Richie’s best friend, not that he could ever admit that to his parents. They'd been friends since they were five, when Mike's father had worked for the Toziers. Mike was aware of his preference for men and had been concerned about Richie’s impending marriage.
“Now Richie, we’ve hooked a good one. Now you just have to reel her in.” His father said.
“Shouldn’t Beverly be marrying a count? Surely her parents would want someone who’s better off… financially.” Richie lamented. Maybe he could weasel his way out of marrying this Beverly girl. “I’ve never even spoken to her.”
“Well, at least we have that in our favor.” His father muttered with an eye roll. The sound of Mike hacking out a cough came from the front. “Michael! Silence that damned cough.”
Richie felt his chest balloon with worry about his friend, although that subsided when they arrived at the Marsh residence. His mother pulled him up to the doorstep before immediately trying to fix his appearance again.
“Richard, watch the way you’re standing. It looks like you have rickets or something! And fix your -” The door swung open, revealing Mr. and Mrs. Marsh. They looked vaguely unimpressed. “Well, hello!”
They walked forward, his mother commenting on the decorations. “Lord and Lady Marsh, Mr. and Mrs. Tozier.” The butler introduced, putting emphasis on the Mr. and Mrs. with a disgusted frown.
Richie looked around at the room as his parents conversated with his soon to be in-laws. The Marsh’s were rich, there was no denying it. He was sure that the entrance hall itself was bigger than his entire house. It was beautiful, however there was a depressing aura to the house. His parents walked off into another room. He was going to follow them until he noticed a grand piano.
He walked over to the piano and started to play, taking a seat. He loved the piano, playing beautiful melodies that often showed his mood. His fondest memories were of playing an upbeat tune, whilst Mike danced along with his now deceased dog, Mr. Chips. Today however, it was a melancholy tune. He poured his feelings into it, letting the soothing clicks of the keys calm him. He continued until he caught sight of a figure out of the corner of his eye. He jumped up, startled as the keys made a heavy sounding thunk.
"By God's hands!” He yelled, almost knocking over a flowerpot. He realized it was Beverly, his future wife.
“I am so sorry, Miss Marsh.” He cried out. She covered her mouth with her hand before promptly breaking into fits of laughter. He stared at her for a few seconds before starting to chuckle too. They heard footsteps and their eyes widened. Beverly grabbed his hand and they ran into a closet. Well, she ran and he was tugged along. As the door shut, they sat down, taking in deep breaths.
“In consideration of the current circumstances, I’m sure you can call me Beverly. You must be Richard.”
“Just Richie is fine.” He corrected. He looked at Beverly, actually looked at her. She was pretty, with red hair and blue eyes. Masses of freckles covered her pale face. However, she was just too feminine. He knew he would never fall in love with her.
“So, Just Richie, tell me about yourself. I might as well get to know the man I’m spending the rest of my life with.” She said. She sounded bitter at the end of the sentence and Richie realized she was just as unhappy about the wedding as he was.
“I like playing the piano. I also like dancing, although my best friend Mike says that I’m quite terrible at it. Not everyone can be as graceful as him though.” They talked for a bit longer before she hesitated.
“Richie… you seem like a sweet man, but I will never love you.” Richie turned his head in shock.
“My heart belongs to someone else.”
“What’s his name? Can’t you marry him?” He asked.
“His name is Ben. And no, I can’t marry him. His family has nothing to their name, not even a house.” She said sadly.
Richie sucked in a deep breath. “I will never love you either. I, uh, prefer the company of men.”
Beverly looked taken aback for a second before she smiled softly. “Aren’t we a pair.” Suddenly her eyes lit up. “Say, perhaps this could work out for us.”
Richie frowned. “What are you talking about?”
“Marry me, Richie. When you find a man, you can see him and I can remain with Ben.” Richie nodded slowly; it could work.
“What about when we need to produce an heir?” He asked, very aware of the fact that he was not attracted to Beverly in that way.
“We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it. For now, though? This works perfectly.” She said, her eyes bright and hopeful.
Richie mulled it over before deciding she was right. “Let’s do it.”
She spat on her palm and held it out, making Richie smile. That’s how he and Mike made promises. He spat on his hand and shook hers. They grinned at each other before sitting back down.
“So, this Ben. How did you meet him?” He was curious, and she smiled sweetly when he asked. He could tell that she really did love this man. Her eyes seemed to brighten and she it seemed like she lit up when she talked about him.
“I ran away when my parents were having a party. I got lost in the poor part of town and I was scared. When he came up to me, I thought my virtue was lost. It turns out he just wanted to help me, and he told me how to get home. The next day, I went to thank him. I kept on going back after that and eventually I fell for him. He’s the love of my life.”
Richie couldn’t help but smile whilst she told the story. He wanted to experience love like that, to feel every piece of soul fall so deeply for someone who loved him equally as much. He also knew that in a place like Derry, love like that would be hard to find.
“He sounds like a good man. I hope that one day I can meet him.” He said honestly. Beverly nodded before looking at him.
“What about you? Any charming men in Derry?”
“No, no one for me just yet.” He mumbled, staring at the ground.
“What about this Mike? Nothing there?” Beverly asked, clearly feeling sorry for him.
Richie let out a huff of laughter. “I think he prefers women. You should meet him though, he’s a good man.”
Beverly was about to reply when the door suddenly opened, their parents standing outside.
“Beverly! No fraternizing before the ceremony.” Mrs. Marsh yelled, roughly grabbing Beverly and marching upstairs. Her husband glared at him before following them, leaving his parents who did not look impressed.
Three hours later, Richie found himself standing in front of a table with two candles on top and Robert Gray, the town priest. It was his and Beverly’s wedding rehearsal and he kept speaking the vows wrong.
“Master Tozier! From the beginning, again!” Richie let out a sigh. “With this hand I will lift your sorrows. Your cup will never empty for I will be your wine. With this candle I will light your way in darkness. With this ring I ask you to be mine.” The man recited. “Let’s try it again.”
“Yes, of course!” Richie said. “With this candle,” He tried to light the candle; but it wouldn’t catch.
“This candle.” It still would not light. He heard his parents grumble from their seats. “With this candle!” He yelled, blowing it out in the process. He sighed, ready to accept defeat.
“Continue!” The pastor yelled. The doorbell rang and they all turned around.
“Patrick, get the door.” The butler, Patrick, returned.
“A Lord Bowers, Sir.” Patrick announced. A thin man walked up with a menacing smile.
“I seem to have arrived a day early for the wedding. My apologies.”
“Patrick, a seat for Lord Bowers.” The butler scuttled away and brought back a seat for the man.
“Please, carry on.” Lord Bowers said, giving Richie a cold stare.
“Master Tozier, let’s try this again.” Richie nodded and Beverly lit the candle for him.
“Right. Let’s get on with this.” Pastor Gray spat out.
Richie took in a deep breath. “With this, uh, hand.” He took four steps forward and knocked into a table.
“Three steps, three! Do you not wish to be married, Master Tozier?” Gray yelled out, getting angry.
“No, no.” Richie insisted, clapping a hand over his mouth when he realized what he had said.
“You do not?” Beverly asked, raising an eyebrow.
“No! I meant I do not not wish to be married.” Richie declared.
“Pay attention! Did you at least remember the ring?” Richie smiled; he did remember it. He held it up victoriously before promptly dropping it. He ran to catch it and breathed out a sigh of relief when he got it. That’s when he heard a smoldering sound.
Mrs. Marsh’s dress was on fire and the room erupted into chaos. People attempted to extinguish it, until Lord Bowers poured his wine onto the dress. The fire was gone although it was sure to leave a nasty stain.
“Enough! This wedding cannot take place until he is properly prepared. Young man, learn your vows.” With that, Pastor Gray stormed out and the entire room glared at Richie. Richie backed into the doors, trying to find the handle before running out.
Richie found himself on the old bridge between the town and the forest. He quite liked it there, it was quiet and overlooked the water. He and Mike would go there when things became a little too rough to handle.
He had ruined everything. His parents were most probably livid but even worse, Beverly most likely thought that he had gone back on his promise. Richie never broke promises. He heard footsteps and whirled around, smiling slightly when he saw it was Mike.
“Hey, Rich. You’re the talk of the town.” Richie just let a groan. “Apparently you left Beverly Marsh at the altar and ran off. I thought I might find you here.”
“I fucked up my vows, Mikey. I set her mother’s dress on fire!” Richie exclaimed, trying not to cry.
“It's alright Richie. It'll all be alright." He threw an arm around Richie and hugged him. So, what’s she like? Is she nice?” Mike asked, looking out at the river.
“She’s lovely. We decided to marry, although we will never fall in love.” Richie decided not to tell Mike about Ben, knowing that it was a secret.
“At least she’s not a total hag. You could have married Greta or Myra. That would have been bad.” Richie cringed just thinking about marrying either of them. “You should come home Richie.”
“I need to clear my head and practice my vows. I will come find you when I’m back.” Richie said. Mike put a hand on his shoulder before turning around and leaving. Richie watched his figure retreat before walking into this forest.
“It really shouldn’t be this difficult, it’s just a few vows.” He reasoned to himself. “With this hand, I will take your wine.” He frowned in confusion. “Wait, no.” He needed to get the vows right and he was starting to get frustrated. He walked further into the forest.
People always said the forest was haunted and that ghosts roamed around the trees. Maybe the ghosts could help him with his vows.
“With this hand I will cup your,” Richie’s eyes widened when he realized what he had just said. Fuck. “Oh, good God, no.” He kept on walking. He got up to a tree and stopped.
“With this… candle!” That’s right, he was getting there. “I will… set your mother on fire.” He sat down miserably; his parents were right about him. “Oh, it’s no use.” He took out the ring and stared at it. He had to get this right.
“With this hand, I will lift your sorrows.” He knew that was right and he stood up. “Your cup will never empty for I will be your wine.” He felt himself gaining confidence and grinned a little. “Ah, Mrs. Marsh, you look ravishing the evening.” He said to one of the branches. “What’s that Mr. Marsh, call you dad? Well only if you insist!” He continued. “With this candle, I will light your way in darkness! With this ring, I ask you to be mine!” He slipped the ring on a branch and grinned. He fucking did it. If only Pastor Gray could see him now.
Suddenly, the wind started to pick up. Richie turned around in confusion, trying to figure out where it suddenly came from. Maybe the place really was haunted. He noticed that there was now an abundance of crows. It was unsettling, to say the least. He felt a hand grab at him and he screamed. He pulled it away, only to be caught in a game of tug of war with the ground. He finally managed to escape. The hand was yanked from its socket and he fell onto his back, taking it with him. He shoved the hand off, trying to grasp what was happening.
The ground started to erupt, and a body made its way through. A young man with pale blue skin and brunette hair appeared, wearing a dirty white tuxedo. He pushed back the hair that was covering his face and smiled.
“I do.” The figure whispered. Then everything went black.
Being pulled back into the land of the living was like being thrown into an icy sea headfirst. You spun and thrashed, not knowing which way was truly up until you got your bearings
Eddie had never thought he would be brought back into the world meant only for those with apple red cheeks and a beating pulse. He pushed against the earth, surprised how much had grown over him and how long he had truly been gone, breaking free with his only hand as he started to pull himself out.
His other hand -his ring hand- was already out and he grit his teeth as he hoisted himself up, dirt caking his sickly rotted blue face and his wrinkled, once white, tuxedo. He stood on shaky legs, pushing his hair back to see the one who had come to rescue him from his purgatory.
The man looked positively petrified.
Eddie huffed, not liking men who didn’t have the manners to at least try to look happy on their wedding day, but he could not be picky, and the man had said his vows very eloquently. Eddie gave a small shrug and nodded.
Fainting was not at all what Eddie had expected from his new groom, watching the man’s body go completely limp and slide to the floor of the forest with an irritated frown.
“Are you serious?”
“He’s a bit too skinny, wouldn’t you say?”
Eddie rolled his eyes and reached back to pull the small harness of his belt, scowling a little at severed head he pulled up and held at eye level.
“If I remember correctly, you were just as thin.”
Stan snorted, obviously not willing to remember how rail like his body had once been, trying to twist in the harness to get a better look at Eddie’s new beau. Eddie turned so Stan wouldn’t have to thrash and they both looked over the man. Stan very much not impressed if his raised eyebrow had anything to say for it.
“Should we try to wake him up?” Eddie asked and Stan gave a weird jerk which told Eddie that he was shrugging. “Well, it’s either that or I drag him back down and he looks heavy.”
“I could try to bite him.”
Eddie laughed. “No, Thank you. I would prefer my new husband not have any teeth marks.”
“Fine.” Stan sighed, his dirty curls bouncing as he tried to swing himself in the harness. “Well, loop me back up and I guess grab his ankles.”
Eddie sighed, reaching back around so he could tie Stan to his belt again, the weight of his dear friend’s head against his thigh comforting. Which was something he needed as he reached down to pick up his arm and then grab the man’s ankles to hoist his lower body up. He wasn’t actually as heavy as Eddie had thought and he quickly made his way back into the hole he had crawled from, the shift from the cold dark world of the living fading away.
Eddie felt like he could breathe again -Ha !- when he reached the gates of the dead, nodding his head to the keeper and continuing to drag his husband’s body through. Colorful lights, like that of a million multicolored fireflies, started to appear and Eddie felt so much safer. The lights were the city of the dead, so vast, endless and beautiful that Eddie truly had no qualms about being dead.
Well, except for the being murdered part. That had really taken the cake.
Eddie sighed as he dragged his husband’s body down the cobblestone streets, frowning when he heard the man’s head thunk against each brick. Eddie made it to his favorite tavern, grinning when he came through the door and Stan announced that Eddie was married.
Cheers erupted from all over the place and Eddie thanked those who helped him put his husband on a table, smiling a little at how pale the man was already.
He’d fit in perfectly.
“Three cheers for our Eddie! The lonely groom no more!”
Drinks were poured and Eddie drank.
They all guzzled their drinks and refilled them over and over, Eddie having so much fun that he almost didn’t notice when his husband started to stir. Eddie’s head was slow as he watched his husband’s hand twitch, then come up to rest on his face and Eddie’s still heart felt like it could beat for just that moment.
“He’s waking up!” One of the other patrons yelled and Eddie was quick to move to his husband’s side.
When the man opened his eyes, Eddie was pleased with the color of blue he found there, smiling a little when they went a little cross eyed.
“W-Where am I?” His husband gasped, blinking rapidly and swiping out in front of him. “Mike? Is that you?”
Eddie frowned and glanced down at Stan when he felt his friend nibble on his leg.
“Oh.” Eddie turned back, finding the pair lenses stuck in the collar of his husband’s shirt. He reached forward, untangling them from the fabric and ignoring the squawk from his husband as he unfolded them and placed them on his husband’s face.
“There you go.” He said with a small smile but jerked away when his husband screamed loudly and scrambled off the table and away.
“All of you stay back!”
Eddie scowled as his husband grabbed a fork from one of the many tables and held it out at everyone as if he was threatening them. Good lord, this was embarrassing.
“Will you calm down?”
The fork was turned on him immediately and Eddie fought the urge to roll his eyes at the way the man shook.
“Where am I?” His husband demanded, making Eddie huff a little.
“We are at our reception, obviously, dear.” He bit out the endearment, not understanding why the man had married a dead man if he had such a problem with dead people. “Now, put that fork down and have a drink with me. I want to get to know you.”
“No, no. This is a dream…” Eddie and the entire tavern watched as his husband started to hit himself on the head, crying to wake up. “Why won’t I wake up!!”
“Because you’re not dreaming.” Eddie growled, and before he could say anything else, his husband took off, sprinting as quickly as he could out the door.
“That’s one way to start a marriage.”
Eddie pursed his lips. “Shut up, Stan.”
Finding his husband was surprisingly easily but catching him was a whole different game. His husband had this very long legs that let him cover more ground than Eddie’s relatively smaller ones, so each time his husband would see him he would dash off.
It really didn’t help that Stan kept his sarcastic little commentary going, so when Eddie finally found his husband hours later, curled into a ball in street alley, Eddie was livid.
“Do you know how embarrassing that was for me?” Eddie started, irritation spiking when his husband didn’t even bother looking up. “My own husband runs out of the reception after threatening me and all our guests with a fork. You will have to apologize to them when we get back.”
His husband’s dark head shot up and Eddie felt a little bad at how terror stricken the man’s expression was. “I don’t want to go back.”
“W-well, we have to.” Eddie replied, moving so he could sit next to his husband, trying not to be hurt when the man shied away from him. “That’s where our home is.”
His husband shook his head. “No, my home is up there.”
“No,” Eddie corrected. “This is your home now.”
“You don’t understand!” The man shouted, and he must have seen how Eddie bristled at the volume because he looked apologetic. “This...I don’t even know what’s happening.”
Eddie was confused because his husband truly did seem not to know what had happened. It was almost as if he had no idea that him and Eddie were now bound from death until forever. Oh gods! What if dragging his head over all that cobblestone had caused brain damage?! Eddie took a small steadying breath before gesturing to the man. “What is your name?”
“My name?” His husband looked at him with those wide blue eyes. “Um, Richard. Well, actually I prefer Richie.”
“Richie.” Eddie repeated with a nod, commuting it to memory. “My name is Eddie.”
“Yes, and the reason you are here is because you made a vow of ever last love to me in the forest.” Eddie tried to reasonably explain, holding back a sigh when Richie’s face seemed to go pale again. “Don’t look at me like that, I even have the ring to prove your devotion!”
Eddie flashed the small golden ring on his hand in front of Richie’s face, feeling smug when the man looked even more unhappy.
“No, no! That wasn’t for- oh god. This is all so fucking dumb.”
“Excuse me?” Eddie hissed. “My wedding and marriage are not dumb.”
“I didn’t mean you were dumb!” Richie groaned, before sighing and laying his head back against the brick wall of the building behind them. “I just…This has all been a very big mistake. I wasn’t supposed to marry you.”
The sharp sting of pain in his chest was not something Eddie had expected, he was dead after all and could feel no physical pain. Emotional however, was another story completely. “Well, so sorry that I’m not what you wanted, but you made the vows and put the ring on my finger. I agreed. We are married, like it or not.”
He huffed a little a stood up, frowning down at Richie’s miserable looking face before offering his one still flesh covered hand.
Richie just stared at it. “What?”
“Oh my god, you are so dense. Get up!” Eddie snipped, holding out his hand a little more forcefully. “I’m taking us to our home so we can talk about this like humans, not like rat folk in an alleyway.”
Richie flinched at the words ‘our home’, but after a moment reached out to grasp the hand, using Eddie’s help to pull himself up to standing.
Richie was tall. At least a good six inches on Eddie, and Eddie tried not to find that an attractive quality. He told the other to come along as he led him down the streets towards the happy little home that Eddie kept.
He had always taken pride in his home, he tried to keep it as clean as he could while being dead and made sure to scour the underworld for all the pleasant things he could find. He had different dirty throws and pillows, a sofa he had dragged in from the English part of the dead world, a table with a setting for two, a cozy little kitchen and a small backroom.
“Where...where do you sleep?” Richie asked when he looked in the back room and found nothing but a bunch of Eddie’s books.
“Sleep?” Eddie frowned, moving to the cupboard to try and start cooking something for dinner. He grabbed a bottle of slime, smiling when he saw a piece of moldy bread still there. “Why would I need to sleep? I’m taking the world longest nap as we speak.”
Eddie looked over surprised when Richie let out a laugh, smiling when the man seemed to realize what he’d done and turned his face away.
“Well, I’m not actually dead so I need to sleep.”
Eddie hummed softly in thought. “I guess you do have a point. You can lay on the couch for now, I can go try to find you a mattress later.”
He heard Richie mutter his thanks as he started to set the table then when Richie got an actual look at his moldy bread and cockroach sandwich he vomited.
They had talked for long hours, Eddie going over and over how they were now tied together in wedlock and would be with each other forever, while Richie kept shaking his head, muttering about how this was not the plan. After awhile, Eddie gave up and let Richie come to terms with it on his own, giving him the bedroom so Richie did not feel like Eddie was clinging to him.
It was weird cohabiting with someone after being alone for so long, especially with one who slept for eight hours and snores loudly. Eddie would sit with a book in his kitchen chair and read until Richie woke up and then they would go about their day.
Richie was still extremely against their marriage, which of course never went over well between the two of them when it was brought up, but Eddie could tell they were getting used to one another.
Eddie would cook the freshest things he could find, and Richie would try hard not to vomit, Richie would find old books in the junk piles and bring them home to Eddie to make sure he wasn’t bored while Richie slept.
Richie had once asked how time worked down there and Eddie could only shrug because it truly as unknown. What seemed like months could only be a day up there or vice versa, and the look Richie would get on his face made Eddie feel guilty.
Leaving loved ones was never easy, but that had given Eddie an idea.
His search had taken him awhile, but after a bit he had been able to locate the grave that Richie had spoken of. He dug down into the grave, smiling when he found the smooth white bones, pulling them up and placing them inside the box he had brought.
The next time they had their walk in the park, sans Stan, Eddie asked if they could sit for a moment because he had something for Richie. They chose the park bench over by the old dead maple tree, its branches spiked and jutting upward as they sat. Richie raised an eyebrow at him when Eddie pulled the box from the bag he had brought along.
Eddie felt oddly nervous about this gift, biting his lip as he watched Richie shake the box before starting to unwrap the large dark bow Eddie had placed on it. When the lid had been pulled off, the contents jumped from the box and Richie screamed, the small white bones and skull laying on the floor until they started to move again and form into the shape of…
Eddie straightened, worries that his present wasn’t liked by Richie’s tone. “Not just any dog. It’s your dog. Well, your friend Mike’s dog, but you still cared for him.”
Richie stares down at the small canine skeleton for a moment before a large grin spread over his face and he laughed.
“Mr. Chips?” The dog barked at his disbelieving tone and Richie laughed again, reaching down to pull the bony creature into his lap. “Oh my god, I haven’t seen you in so long! You look very different, have you lost weight?”
Eddie couldn’t help the laugh that was pushed out of him and both Richie and Mr. Chips had turned to look at him, but Eddie hadn’t expected that expression on Richie’s face when his eyes landed on Eddie. Over the time that Richie had been with Eddie, the looks had started out scared and worried, as if Eddie were some horrible monster who had locked him away, but slowly the looks started to change.
This. This look right there made Eddie’s toes curl in happiness.
“You like it?” Eddie asked softly. “The gift I mean?”
Richie nodded slowly. “I do, thank you.”
“You’re welcome. I figured you needed some cheering up. Now you can have him all to yourself and your mother can’t say no.”
“Yeah.” Richie chuckled softly, scratching at the dog’s bare skull as it happily let him.
They sat in silence for a bit, Eddie letting Richie enjoy his dog while he watched the scenery around the park, but it was broken when Richie cleared his throat.
“Can I ask you a question?”
Eddie nodded. “Of course.”
Richie almost looked embarrassed, his peach colored cheeks becoming red as a rose and he bit his lip before glancing over at Eddie. “Um, how did you die? I always wanted to ask, but I didn’t want it to be rude or get you mad.”
“Oh.” Eddie glanced down at his hands which were clasped in his lap. “Well…”
“You don’t have to tell me if you don’t want!”
“No, no. It’s fine.” Eddie shook his head. “I can tell you.”
Eddie took a deep breath as he tried to recall his last night as a living person, remembering the way the trees had looked as he had crept into the forest, holding all the deeds and money he could find.
“My family was very well off you see, so I was expected to marry high and continue on with the family name.” Eddie licked his lips. “Only, I did not care for women, if you catch my drift.”
Richie made a face and Eddie could tell it was one of shared experience, so he nodded and continued.
“But I met a boy, he was a little intense, but I fell for his charms and he asked me to run away with him.” Eddie gave a weak self-deprecating laugh. “I was so young and in love I did exactly as he told me too. Told me to grab all my family’s valuables, dress in my finest tux and wait for him in the forest.”
He gave Richie a tight smile. “I ran into the forest with everything I could carry. I was so excited to be with him without my parents always behind me telling me that I had to find a wife before I inherited anything. He had promised that we would have our own wedding ceremony, one just between us and God. That no one could stop us.”
Eddie glanced back down at the ground, the pain still there but it had become muted over time.
“So, I waited. I waited and waited.” Eddie swallowed thickly. “And just when I was about to give up broken hearted, I felt this sharp awful pain in my side.”
Eddie sighed, leaning back against the bench to glance up at the dark sky.
“I had been stabbed in the side,” He pulled his jacket open to show the large dark red, almost black, stain on the side of his shirt. “The murderer ripped the valuables from my hands and ran off. I bled to death in the forest and woke up here.”
Eddie almost jumped out of his skin when he felt Richie’s arms wrap around him in a tight embrace. It had been so long since he had been hugged that Eddie almost didn’t know what to do, awkwardly placing his own arms around the man, giving Richie a small pat on the back as he did.
“It’s alright, you know.” Eddie said softly. “It happened long ago, and I have you now.”
He felt Richie take a deep breath, letting his arms drop when Richie pulled away to look him in the eye.
“Why me?” Richie asked quietly. “Why did you pick me?”
Eddie frowned. “What do you mean? You picked me. You placed the ring on my finger.”
Something in Richie’s face changed, Eddie couldn’t tell what it was, but it made him feel as if he had made a grave error.
“So, anybody would do if they had just placed a ring on your finger?”
“No,” Eddie was quick to try and correct that. “No, I didn’t mean it like that! I’m very glad it was you, Richie. Truly!”
Richie didn’t look convinced, but he nodded anyway and said that they should probably head back unless they wanted Stan to yell at them. The walk back was quiet, it made Eddie more nervous than he had been in years. As time went on Richie continued to be distant.
Until one day he asked if Eddie would like to meet his mother, if there was such a way.
Eddie told him there was.
Eddie had always known that Mr. Keene was knowledgeable, but the fact that the old man really did know how to send them back was truly a marvel to Eddie. After a few soft words and asking nicely, the old wise man agreed to let them walk on the living side for a visit so Eddie could meet Richie’s mother.
They were instructed that it was only for a visit and that if they wanted to come back all they would need is to utter the simple trick word.
Eddie tried not to chuckle at the silly word, feeling oddly excited to meet Richie’s mother. He quickly smoothed out his jacket, worried that the dirt was far too off putting when Mr. Keene started mixing a potion for them. He broke the small egg over the bowl and liquid flowed from it to surround him and Richie.
Within the next second they were back in the woods where it had all started.
Eddie smiled as the moonlight shone down on him. It had been forever since he had been up on the surface long enough to actually enjoy it, not since when he was still breathing, and he laughed a little on how good he felt. He turned to Richie, ready to follow his husband to his in-law’s house.
“Um,” Richie looked nervous suddenly, his long arms flapping about weirdly for a moment before he shook his head. “Why don’t I go ahead first, you know, to break the news to them.”
Eddie frowned at the wording, like their marriage was seen as unfit, but he understood what Richie meant. It was not every day a man married a man, let alone an undead one.
“Yes, I can see where that would be a good idea. You’ll come get me when she’s ready?”
Richie paused, mouth open as if mid thought before nodding quickly.
“Yes, I’ll come get you when she’s ready. Now, just stay here. Don’t move, alright?”
Eddie nodded again and watched as Richie took off into the woods, humming to himself as he found a nice rock to sit on and wait.
He’s going to try and run.
Eddie scowled as Stan’s words came back to him, his friend warning him about letting Richie backup among the living, but Eddie trusted Richie. Richie wouldn’t leave Eddie alone; he knew how hard it had been for Eddie being left to always search for his groom.
No, Richie wouldn’t do that.
Eddie waited another thirty minutes before standing up. “I’ll just go check on how things are doing.”
Richie spared one last look in Eddie’s direction and let out a sigh as he walked towards the town. Part of him wanted to turn back and yell Hopscotch, taking him to the Underworld. The colors seemed brighter there, full of lively faces and joyful melodies. Not to mention Eddie. There was something about him that made his heart beat just a little faster and left his cheeks fighting off a blush. A piece of him hoped that the same went for Eddie, not that could experience either of those things.
However, there was another part of him that reminded him that he had a promise to keep. He couldn’t let Beverly down no matter what. He decided to go let Mike know that he was alright first. He wasn’t sure about how much time had passed, having been with Eddie for several days. He didn’t know if time worked differently in the underworld and he knew must have been worried about him.
He couldn’t wait to tell him all about Eddie, Mr. Chips and the underworld in general. He had been slowly acclimating to life down below but there had always been a nagging piece of him reminding him that he had responsibilities here.
He got into the town and ran through the back alleys towards his house. He couldn’t risk being seen, especially after what the townspeople had been saying about him. He finally saw the familiar tree that signaled he was near Mike’s quarters. When he and Mike had been younger, they would climb up that tree and lie among the leaves and branches, talking about their future. They were too young to know where they really wanted to go, so they just spoke about a better place. A place where it didn’t matter if they were different colors or classes. Richie thought that maybe he had found it.
He jumped over the fence and rapped on the door. Nothing. He frowned and tried again. He could see it was late at night, meaning Mike should have been home.
“Mike?” He called out, trying the door one more time. He lifted the rock next the door and grabbed the key, unlocking the door.
He looked around, finding the room relatively the same. That’s when he saw it. A glimmering gold cross on a chain. It had belonged to Mike’s father before he passed away. Mike never went anywhere without it. Richie impulsively grabbed it, reasoning that he’d give it to Mike when he saw him.
He started towards Beverly’s house, the cross resting in his coat pocket. He almost tried the front door before remembering he’d most probably get kicked out. Instead he headed to her window. Unfortunately, it was on the second floor. Fuck. He grabbed onto the bricks and attempted to hoist himself up, before promptly falling on his ass. He spotted a tree and instead climbed up there, managing to grab onto the windowsill. He caught sight of Beverly drawing in her notebook and frantically tried to signal her attention.
She looked up and gasped, running over and opening the window. “Richie? What the fuck are you doing here?” She asked, making no move to let him in. He could feel his grip start to slip and flailed.
“I came here to explain. Can you please let me in?” She looked him up and down before hoisting him through her window. That’s when she let loose.
“You promised Richie! We made a spit promise and you broke it. Not only that, you embarrassed me.” Richie could see she was on the verge of tears. He just shook his head.
“That’s not what happened! I was going to come back,” he tried to explain, recoiling when she raised an eyebrow. “I swear I did! Then this boy, Eddie, he grabbed me and took me to the Underworld. We’ve been there ever since but I came back for you, I swear! I would never break our promise.”
Beverly just stared at him. “Richie, have you been drinking?” She asked, looking angry and concerned. That’s when it occurred to him that his story sounded like absolute bullshit. If she had told him what he’d just told her, he probably wouldn’t believe her either.
“I swear I’m not, Bev.” She seemed to recognize that his was serious and her eyes softened.
“Do you still intend to marry me?” She asked, looking very nervous. He wanted to say no, that he had someone waiting for him, but he knew what he had to do.
“Of course.” He replied, feeling his heart drop a little. She slowly broke out into a grin and wrapped her arms around him.
“You are an honorable man, Richie Tozier.” He hesitated before hugging her back.
“What do we have here?” A familiar voice rang out, sounding menacing. Richie spun around to face his ‘husband’. “I thought you were going to find your mother but instead you’re visiting your mistress.” Richie felt a stab of guilt.
“I’m sorry, who are you?” Beverly asked, stepping out from behind from Richie.
“I’m Richie’s husband, and you are?” Eddie said with a hostile tone.
“I’m Richie’s fiancée, Beverly.” Eddie’s face filled with hurt, then anger before settling on a stone-cold expression.
“Richie, let’s go.” Eddie grabbed Richie’s hand. “Hopscotch!” They started to fade away and Richie felt himself panic.
“Beverly!” Suddenly they were in the Underworld again. Eddie turned to him; eyes filled with tears. Stan wiggled on his belt.
“Nice going, Richie.” He sneered. Eddie covered him with his jacket.
“So what? You were just going to marry that girl? I thought we had something Richie. You’re supposed to be my husband.” He took off towards their house.
Shit. Not only had he fucked up with Beverly, he had also fucked up with Eddie. He sat down and hung his head back, groaning.
Oh shit, Eddie! He started sprinting to their house and ran up to their bedroom. The door was closed but he could hear talking. It sounded like Eddie, Stan and Audra, Eddie’s arachnid friend.
“It’s happening all over again. I’ve been stabbed in the back, or rather the side.” Eddie said, sounding like he’d been crying.
“That’s not true!” Stan yelled. “What does she have that you don’t?”
“A beating heart, for one.” Eddie replied.
“Eddie, you are worth just as much as she is. Doesn’t matter if you’re dead or not.” Audra said kindly.
“You guys don’t get it. If I put my hand to a burning candle, I cannot feel pain. I will never feel the blood rushing to my cheeks or my heartbeat speeding up when he gets closer. No matter what, I’ll never compare to her. Maybe he realized that.” Richie could hear that he was crying again.
He felt his heart break a little. Eddie was the most amazing person – or corpse rather – that he’d met. He was kind and compassionate but still fiery. He’d tried his best to welcome Richie when all he’d done was fight with him. Richie was the one who didn’t compare. He could never want anything else if he had Eddie. Richie blinked when he realized what he’d just admitted to himself.
“Please, just leave me alone.” He heard a door opening, presumably to put Stan down, and then close again.
Richie slowly opened the door and peered through. Eddie was sitting at the grand piano, head buried in his hands. Richie couldn’t blame him after what he’d just heard.
“Hi.” He ventured. Eddie stayed still, although he let out a sigh. Richie walked in and took a seat beside him. He hated the silence, he just wanted to go back to seeing Eddie smile. He had to fix things.
He hesitated for a moment before pressing one of the keys. The sound rang out around the house. Eddie’s head twitched up. He took in a deep breath and started to play a melody. It was familiar, the song he played back at Beverly’s. Eddie lifted his head and stared at him for a few seconds before raising his hands and joined in, a soft smile gracing his face. They continued to play for a minute or so before Eddie’s hand broke off. He gasped softly.
“I’m sorry, I get a little enthusiastic sometimes.” Richie was sure that if he was living, he would be blushing. He found it adorable.
“I like your enthusiasm.” He replied, his hand moving to cup Eddie’s cheek.
“What about Beverly?” Eddie asked, keeping his distance but allowing Richie’s hand to remain.
“Beverly is my friend. I made a promise to her, but I don’t love her.” He felt his heart rush at the implication of who he really loved.
He leaned in, intent on finally kissing him. That’s when a loud cacophony of bells rang out.
“New arrival! New arrival in the Underworld!” Eddie’s eyes widened and he grabbed Richie’s hand, going to grab Stan and rushing towards the tavern. Richie heard Mr. Chips barking behind them as they reached their destination. They walked inside, trying to catch a glimpse at the newly dead. When Richie saw who it was, he couldn’t help the shout that escaped him.
“Mike!” He rushed over to his best friend and hugged him, before realizing what his arrival meant.
“You’re dead?” He felt his eyes pool with tears.
Mike just nodded. “Your parents took me to the doctor’s office when I started to cough up blood, but they couldn’t help me. How are you here, Richie? I was so scared that something had happened to you.”
“I think I need to introduce you to Eddie.” Richie reached for Eddie and took his hand, grinning at Mike. “He brought me here.”
Eddie smiled shyly.
“You must be Mike, it’s so good to meet you.” Mike took a look at Eddie before looking back at Richie, looking absolutely elated.
Richie felt the weight in his pocket and dug out the cross.
“This was in your quarters. I had a feeling to take it.” Mike took it and held it close to his heart.
“Thank you, Richie. I thought I lost it. I thought I lost my father.”
“Guess who else I found?” Richie said, excitement bubbling up. He whistled. “Here, boy!” Mr. Chips bounded up to him, skeletal tail wagging happily. When he caught sight of Mike, he immediately ran to him, whimpering with joy.
“Mr. Chips!” Mike leaned down and petted him, tears trickling down his cheeks.
Richie smiled at Eddie, intertwining their fingers and squeezing his hand. When Mike finally got back up, Richie decided to ask him an important question.
“Is everyone okay up there? My parents, Beverly?”
“Your parents are fine. Beverly… is engaged to another man.” Richie felt his jaw go slack with shock.
“She broke our promise?” He asked meekly. Mike nodded. Suddenly it felt like the walls were tightening around him. He had to get out. He had worked so hard to keep their promise, hurting Eddie for promise and what for what? He dropped Eddie’s hand and ran into the street. He heard someone following him.
Mike walked beside him, panting slightly.
“I didn’t think you could feel out of breath when you were dead. I guess I was wrong.” He took in Richie’s silence. A silent Richie was a rare Richie. “You don’t have to marry Beverly now.”
Richie turned to look at him. “Yes, so?”
Mike rolled his eyes. “You can marry Eddie now. You love him, don’t you?”
“I don’t know about love, but I do know I feel strongly about him.”
“Marry him, Richie. It seems like you want to.” Richie kept silent for a few seconds, mulling it over.
“God, you’re right.” Richie said, turning to go back inside before pausing. “Will you be my best man?”
Mike smiled. “Of course, Richie.”
Richie quickly found Eddie inside. “Eddie? Marry me.”
Eddie spun around.
“What?!” There was a glimmer of hope in his eyes.
“Let’s get married for real. As soon as possible.” Eddie hugged him; face pressed into his chest.
“I’ll marry you any day, Richie.” He whispered. Richie could hear the crowd clapping, obviously having caught wind of the wedding. “I need to talk to Mr. Keene. Let’s go.”
Together they walked hand in hand to the old man’s home. Mike came along with them, carrying Stan. They seemed to be getting along very well. They reached the house and walked upstairs.
“Mr. Keene? We would like to talk to you about our wedding.” Eddie said cautiously, peeking around the door. Mr. Keene slowly walked up.
“Very well. However, it must only be you.” He instructed. Eddie gave him a confused look.
“Shouldn’t Richie come in? It’s his wedding as well, you know.” Mr. Keene shook his head.
“Only you may enter.” He ushered Eddie in, who turned around and gave Richie a shrug. The door slammed shut.
“So now you love Eddie, huh?” Stan asked, a judgmental look on his face.
“I think he’s loved Eddie for quite some time.” Mike said, facing Stan towards him. Stan just smiled at him. Richie raised an eyebrow and then full on gasped when Mike smiled right back. Maybe he wasn’t as inclined towards only women as he thought.
They waited in silence until the door opened again. “Richie. We need to talk.” Eddie sniffled. Richie ran in, alarmed at his fiancée’s tears.
“I can’t marry you, Richie. You would have to die in order for us to do so.” Tears dripped down Eddie’s face.
Richie didn’t hesitate to answer. “I’ll do it. I want to marry you Eddie. I want to be down here with Mike and Mr. Chips and even Stan. So, I’ll do it.”
Eddie looked shocked. “Richie…” He grabbed Eddie’s hand and pressed a kiss to it.
“Let’s do this, Eddie.”
Eddie just nodded, a sweet look in his eyes.
“Right,” Mr. Keene interrupted. “We’ll need the wedding to be in the land of living.”
Richie grinned. “Looks like we’re having a destination wedding.”
Eddie had never been proposed to.
He did not really count the time his first love, his name escaping him, had basically told him they would elope once Eddie ran away. And Richie’s proposal could have used some work, but he was also willing to trade his living life to be with Eddie. That knocked all other romantic and overdone proposals out of the park.
Eddie let out a soft happy sigh as he was cleaned up and made appropriate for his actual wedding.
Rips were sewn shut, dirt was brushed off the best it could be, they had even been able to find a wilted lily which they had pinned to Eddie’s jacket.
Stan joked, asking if Richie or him would be throwing it afterwards.
Having the wedding up among the living made Eddie felt jittery, his dead heart wanting so badly beat excitedly and he wondered if his old breathing exercises would help him even though he had no breath. He watched and waited as everyone prepared things; the cake was turning out amazingly as were the small decorations they wanted to bring up.
Eddie let Richie and the large group go ahead of him, making sure not to see Richie and vice versa as his soon to truly be husband went up.
When it was finally Eddie’s turn, he gave a small nod and let his attendant guide him up.
The first thing he noticed was how empty the streets were, glancing at his attendant when he heard her chuckling against her rotted fist.
“What is so funny?”
“Poor living folk,” she sighed. “They don’t handle the dead walking very well. Do they? They ran screaming so fast.”
Eddie tried to look disapproving, but it was too hard to resist, and he let a grin slowly grow on his face. When they reached the church, Eddie found Mike proudly holding Stan in his arms and Eddie raised an eyebrow at the happy look on his friend’s face.
Which quickly turned sour when he realized Eddie was watching.
They all lined up according to order.
Mike carrying Stan in front of him as they walked down the long aisle and soon Eddie felt someone step next to him. He knew who it was instantly, turning to look up and smile at the man he would marry.
“You look handsome.” Richie whispered as the organ stopped playing once Mike had reached the alter.
Eddie gave a soft chuckle. “I look how you’ve always known me.”
“Right.” Richie replied, holding out his arm for Eddie to take, which he did with pride. “Which means you’ve always looked handsome.”
Eddie snorted and rolled his eyes, refusing to let Richie see how pleased he was by those words. When the music started up again, he and Richie stood up straight with their heads held high and walked down that aisle. All eyes were on them as they moved, and Eddie was so glad Richie was beside him to help share his weight because his legs felt weak with nerves.
There were moments where he thought he wouldn’t make it, that surely something would go wrong or maybe he was having a truly realistic daydream, but when they made it to the altar Eddie wanted to cry from relief.
They turned to face one another; Richie’s smile the only thing Eddie could focus on while Mr. Keene started to speak.
“Dearly beloved and departed,” The old man started, popping the cork on the bottle which everyone knew contained what would end Richie with the large golden goblet that Richie would drink from next to it. “We father here today to join this man and this corpse in holy matrimony. We shall start with the vows. Richie, living first.”
Eddie watched as Richie took away one of his hands from Eddie’s, smiling when Richie raised it looking absolutely sure this was what he wanted.
“With this hand,” Richie started clearly, just like he had in the forest, moving to take hold of the heavy goblet. He hoisted it up to show everyone and Eddie felt a weird pang of sorrow for what he knew Richie was about to go through. “I will lift your sorrows, your cup will never empty…”
Richie looked him in the eye. “For I will be your wine.”
I love you.
“Eddie, your turn now.”
Eddie gave a nod.
“With this hand,” Eddie repeated, moving to pick the bottle of poison up from the table, the glass cool and heavy in his hand. “Your cup will never empty…”
He started to pour the poisoned wine into the cup, the red liquid splashing in almost looked appetizing.
“For I will be your-“ A movement from behind Richie caught Eddie’s eye and he froze for a moment. A vision of white stood there, her fire red hair tied up into a beautiful bun while her cheeks and eyes were red from tears. That was the woman, the woman whom had Richie first, his real fiancée. He opened his mouth, but nothing came out as the woman shrank back when she saw that Eddie had noticed her. “I -I will...um.”
“Is everything alright, Eddie?”
He could hear the concern in both Richie and Mr. Keene’s voices, so he tried to ignore the stab of guilt he felt when he looked into the wide red rimmed eyes.
“Your cup...your cup will never empty…” Eddie tried to steady himself, pushing the words out. “For I will be…”
Richie nodded slowly, noticing Eddie was having trouble, so he helped finish. “For I will be your wine.”
Eddie watched wide eyed as Richie lifted the glass to his lips, and before he could stop himself, he reached out to place his bony hand over it. He couldn’t stand the look of confusion and heartbreak that moved across Richie’s face and he shook his head quickly when Richie asked him what was wrong.
“This is wrong.” He whispered, looking up at Richie and then jerking his chin over at the woman behind Richie. “I love you, Richie, so much. But I can’t take you away from someone else like this.”
When Richie glanced over and saw Bev, Eddie felt his heart break when Richie pulled away from him to go to her. He watched as they hugged and spoke quietly before Richie brought her over to stand in front of Eddie.
“Eddie, this is Beverly.” Richie introduced and Eddie nodded quickly, knowing what was coming. “And Beverly, this is Eddie. The man soon to be my husband.”
Eddie stared wide eyed up at Richie, turning to look at Beverly in surprise when she had a soft sad smile on her face.
“Nice to meet you, Eddie, again. Sorry we met before on such bad terms.”
If Eddie could blush, he would have, remembering what he had said about the woman before. “No, I’m sorry for what I said about you.”
Beverly just shook her head and turned to Richie, opening her mouth to say something before the church doors slammed open and a handsome man rushed in breathing heavily.
Eddie watched confused as Beverly pick up her full skirt and started to run towards the man, throwing her arms around his neck in a tight embrace. Eddie looked towards Richie, not sure how to react to this, and was surprised when he saw a smile on the man’s face. He turned back to watch the man check Beverly over, as if he was looking for an injury before sighing.
“You’re okay. When the dead started to attack, I thought- “He sighed. “I’m just glad you’re alright.”
Ben smiled, then realized that he was in a church filled to the brim with the aforementioned dead and he quickly moved to put Beverly behind him, but she just hit his shoulder and pulled him up to the altar.
“Richie, Eddie, this is Ben.” And when Beverly said his name, her face shone like the sun and suddenly Eddie understood. This was a man that Beverly loved.
They shook hands, Ben being a little weird when he took Eddie’s skeletal hand in his, but he was able to get through it. Richie reached for Eddie’s hand, holding it tightly in his own as Beverly told them all about the promise her and Richie had made to each other.
“But it’s alright, Richie.” Beverly said with a small sad smile. “You’ve found the one you love, and you have a chance to be with them. Please don’t let this slip by, I’d feel so guilty if you did.”
Richie gave a wet chuckle, his eyes misting. “Oh, so I should do as you say just to ease your guilt?”
Beverly nodded. “Obviously.”
The moment was soft, sweet and tender and when he felt Richie turn back to him, he knew that this was it. He would finally be able to be with the person he loved after all this time alon-
“Well, isn’t this touching?”
Everyone turned again to find someone else at the open doors of the church, leaning coolly against the wood as he inspected his nails. Eddie frowned when something seemed oddly familiar about the man, his face resembling someone from his memory but it was a cloudy haze every time Eddie tried to think too hard on it.
The man laughed loudly, moving to stalk up the aisle toward the four of them. The closer he came, the more it bothered Eddie why he seemed so familiar to him and he frowned when the man stopped before them.
“Ah, it is so nice to see all these young lovers together again.” The man purred, the noise making Eddie’s skin crawl. “Surely now they can all live happily ever after, but I think you are all forgetting something important…”
Before anyone could react, the man reached out to grab Beverly by the harm, hauling her to her side even after her yell of protest. “She is still my wife and I will not leave here empty handed!”
While Richie and Ben moved to help Beverly, Eddie’s eyes widened as he remembered that voice, the way those blue eyes looked when he got angry, the charming smile that could so quickly turn into an ugly scowl. He remembered it all, the sneaking out, the kisses hidden behind trees, being told it was either his family or their love.
Being stabbed and left for dead. Cold and alone.
“You…” Eddie whispered, the man’s name coming back quickly to him and suddenly he could remember everything about Henry Bowers. He watched as Henry went still, eyes moving over Eddie’s face before he looked like he had seen a ghost...or to be more accurate: a zombie from his past.
Anger started to run through Eddie’s veins. “You!”
Henry took a step back, still holding on to Beverly tightly. “But I left you.”
Anger turned to an all-consuming rage and he pointed an accusing finger right at the man. The man who had lied to him. Killed him. Left him to wander for all eternity alone.
“You left me for dead!”
Everyone gasped loudly and Eddie growled when Henry yelled that he was being delusional as he started to pull Beverly back towards the doors. When the crowd started to become upset, Henry seemed to notice that he was outnumbered, quickly reaching out to grab the handle of a machete that had been sticking out of one of their guests. With a great pull, Henry dislodged the blade from the undead man and held it against Beverly throat.
“Come one step closer and she’ll be joining you all!” Henry yelled, his face becoming red and the veins in his neck starting to pop out. “We will be leaving here and you all will do nothing, do you understand?”
Ben took a step forward, Richie quickly grabbed him when Henry placed the blade closer to Beverly’s neck. Eddie watched horrified as Henry started to drag Beverly out, knowing that she would wind up with the exact same fate as him if they didn’t do something quick.
Surprisingly though, none of them did anything and watched in amazement as Beverly grabbed Henry’s wrist quickly. In his surprise, he didn’t have time to fight back before she brought his wrist to her mouth and bit down hard. Henry yelled loudly, pushing Beverly away from him as blood dripped down her mouth, running back over to Ben.
Henry let out an enraged yell, picking the machete back up as he started to stalk towards them. Someone yelled out Richie’s name -Mike- and threw a kitchen knife at the floor for Richie to pick up. Eddie watched as his fiancé scrambled to grab it, just in time to block Henry’s heavy blow from hitting him in the shoulder.
Richie was...not a good fighter.
Eddie winced every time Henry’s strong arms swiped at Richie’s thin frame and Eddie quickly grabbed the empty bottle of poison and handed it to Ben. When Ben looked confused, Eddie growled and clapped his arms in the direction of the two fighting.
“Help him!” Eddie cried. “I can’t! I’m not allowed to harm the living!”
Ben quickly nodded, grabbing the bottle and running over, successfully slamming Henry over the head with it, but that only seemed to push Henry further. He slashed wildly at both Richie and Ben, Eddie making sure to keep Beverly away from it incase Henry tried something again.
Beverly gasped loudly when Henry kicked Ben’s straight in the chest, pushing him down onto the floor and raising the blade high.
“I’ll get rid of this little obstacle first!”
He thrust the blade forward.
Eddie felt sick.
There, standing in front of Ben, with the blade run through him, was Richie.
Richie gurgled something, blood started to trickle from the corner of his mouth and his shirt became soaked in red. He jerked when Henry twisted the blade roughly, then ripped it out of him, his long limbs crumpling to the floor. Before Eddie could think, he moved as Henry raised the blade again to finish Richie off, standing in front of his fiancé the same way he had for Ben.
When Henry slid the blade into him this time, Eddie felt nothing.
Just pure rage.
Henry gasped when Eddie reached out to grab his hand that was around the hilt of the blade, letting go instantly and Eddie glared as he wrapped that hand around the hilt and pulled. He slowly slid the blade from his body and pointed it toward Henry with an ugly scowl.
“Get out.” He growled lowly, Henry’s low chuckle causing him to want to hiss like a wet cat.
“Oh, I’m leaving.” Henry drawled, walking around as Eddie made sure to keep the blade pinned on him. He felt better as Ben and Beverly rushes to Richie, knowing they would help him better while he kept Henry away. Henry made it way toward the altar, grabbing the golden goblet Richie had put down and picked it up. “But first! I think we should have a toast; don’t you think?”
Eddie pursed his lips as Henry hoisted the cup high. “To Eddie! A man so desperate to be loved he’d die for it.”
He heard Stan yell loudly, knowing his friend was frothing mad at his expense and Eddie tried not to let Henry’s words affect him. Henry cackled loudly, then made a cheering motion with the cup before lifting it to his lips and downing the wine in two deep gulps.
The poisoned wine.
Eddie felt satisfaction bloom.
He watched as Henry smoothly set the glass down, dusted himself off and started to make his way towards the doors again. Though this time he stopped halfway there with a choking sound, hunching over dramatically as he started to wheeze. Watching a man die was never easy or enjoyable, but Eddie had to admit this man’s death gave him pleasure.
Henry fell to the floor like a bag of rocks, his face and skin as blue as the rest of them and when his eyes opened again, all he could do was scream as the crowd pounced on him. Eddie watched them carry him away before he heard Bev call his name and Eddie quickly remembered what else was happening. He threw the blade aside and rushed over to Richie’s side.
Beverly has Richie’s head resting on her lap as Ben tried to stop the bleeding with his jacket, but Richie didn’t look good. His skin was so sickly pale, and he could barely hold his eyes open, Eddie wanted to scream because this was not how it was supposed to be! He felt Richie’s hand move over his and he bit his lip as he looked down at the man he loved, whose life was fading fast.
“We…” Richie croaked. “We have to finish the…vows.”
“But- “Eddie stopped when Richie gave a weak shake of his head.
“Eds, if I can’t find you when I go, I’ll be lost.”
Eddie wanted to cry, but instead he nodded quickly and looked around for Mr. Keene but couldn’t find the old man anywhere.
“I don’t know where Mr. Kenne is!” Eddie said in a panic, but he then felt Beverly place a hand over Richie’s and his own.
“I’ll marry you two.”
Eddie nodded quickly, moving to sit closer to Richie so he could hear his fiancé’s words as the bubbles out from his mouth along with blood. They recited their vows again, Richie’s quiet and raspy as he started to fade and Eddie’s soft and as soothing as he could for his dying love.
“I now pronounce you married.”
Eddie gulped and nodded, leaning down to share their first kiss ever as he pressed his lips against Richie’s cold and barely responsive mouth.
Richie died within the hour.
When Richie opened his eyes, something felt different.
Things seemed brighter and he felt wonderful.
As he sat up, he looked around the beautiful cozy room, pillows and blankets piled high on the bed next to him, books on almost every surface and a small wilted lily on the nightstand. When Richie heard humming coming from the other room, he smiled and stood up, moving through the little hallway until he reached the living room where he found the source of the humming.
Eddie sat on the clean and plush sofa, skin a soft olive color, his hair a deep brown and his cheeks rosy and bright as he smiled.
“You’re finally awake?”
Richie chuckled. “Yeah, I guess I am. Slept like the dead.”
Eddie laughed and patted the spot next to him on the couch. “Come read with me. This place has a whole bunch of new books I’ve never seen before.”
“That sounds perfect, my love.”