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Nine Chances

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- by Vancouver Sleep Clinic, 2017




It was significantly colder than Richie had expected it to be when he first stepped foot into the godforsaken town of Derry, Maine. It was supposed to be summer, he reminded himself. There was no such thing as cold summers in America. And yet, Maine was definitely colder than the California weather he had grown accustomed to over the years. 


Part of him was begging to turn around and get right back into the taxi, onto the plane, fly home, and forget all over again as soon as the realization hit him that he was actually in Derry. The place where his entire life had nearly fallen apart, simply because— 


Why? Why had his life nearly fallen to pieces? Obviously It had something to do with it. The name caused his breath to hitch, his heart to pound, and his palms to sweat. He swallowed the growing lump in his throat as his taxi driver placed his bags on the sidewalk beside him. He thanked the man politely and took his luggage, paying the correct amount with a small tip and turning to face the Derry Townhouse. Cold dread had been weighing in his stomach ever since he got Mike Hanlon's call, and with good reason, although he couldn't remember much about what that reason was. 


Taking a deep breath, the man started up the worn down concrete path and hauled his case up the wooden steps to the old complex, entering the air-conditioned building and even daring to shiver. He felt like everyone was staring at him, but there was only one person in the room, and he was waiting for Richie to check in. Anxious and discombobulated by the weight of being in the place he had hoped never to return to, Richie hurried up to the front counter and let out a long puff of breath, cheeks inflating as he did so. 


"Just a room for one, please," he requested, digging his wallet out of his back pocket. His eyes scanned the picture of his mother quickly before he pulled out a wad of cash, hoping against hope that he had enough for what he, again, hoped, would be an extremely quick stay. 


"It's $12.50 a night, sir," the man said, pulling a key off of one of the hooks on the back wall. Richie was admittedly unsurprised to see that almost none of the rooms were occupied. Derry had never been a big tourist spot. Too gloomy. Not usually weather-wise, but certainly emotionally. Nothing ever felt right, to say the least. Richie handed over two $20's and grabbed his bag, insisting he could do it himself as he took the key from the man and headed towards the stairs. 


It wasn't a long climb, seeing as he was only on the second floor, but the hallway felt unbelievably long. He knew he was getting there earlier than he really had to— Mike had called just the previous day— but he felt a strange sense of urgency, like something, or someone was waiting for him. 




The rush had hit him the moment the name tumbled from Mike Hanlon's mouth. Richie had packed his bags faster than he had on his way out of this hell, which he was beginning to regret as a wave of exhaustion hit him and he missed the keyhole on his door for the third time. His head fell forward to rest against the wooden frame, and he took a deep breath, before trying one more time and finally succeeding. 


He threw the door opened and kicked his shoes off, allowing it to swing shut behind him. He untucked his shirt, unbuttoning it and tossing it into the corner as he threw his suitcase down on the end of his bed. Doubts and anxious thoughts swarmed him like moths around a light when it was dark, so he busied himself with unpacking, a strange desire to keep himself moving hitting him like a brick. 


He opened each drawer and put the few articles of clothing that he had brought with him away in organized piles, something he never would have done as a child, but as he went the placement got sloppier and sloppier to the point where it really had started to look like his old bedroom drawers. Once his clothes had all been tucked away he put his toiletries in the bathroom, and ran a hand through his hair, sighing heavily. His forefinger lifted to push his glasses up on his nose, but he just ended up prodding himself in the eye. 


Tearing up and hissing in pain, he quickly blinked out his contact, holding it gingerly on the tip of his finger and holding his eye firmly with his free hand as it burned. Confusion and nervous energy crackled around him as he tried to recall the last time he had reached for his glasses on instinct like that. He hadn't even worn sunglasses in years. He had broken the habit ages ago. 


Slightly unsettled and still bearing with the dull sting, Richie wiped his eye with a tissue to clear it of the instinctive tears before heading into the bathroom to replace his contact. It took him a few extra tries, almost as if his fingers had forgotten how to function the proper way, but he brushed it off, shaking his head in a futile attempt to clear it. 


Distrust and discomfort in his situation had settled in long before he even entered his room, but now it was just heightened. He felt on-edge, ad if anything could happen at any time. As if It was just going to pop out from under his bed, or from in his closet, laughing and pointing at him, and when Richie looked in the mirror, he would see himself the way he used to look— Coke-Bottle glasses, huge front teeth, wild hair. The definition of ugly. At least, that was what most people had seemed to think. 


Richie picked up the thing nearest to him, which happened to be a book, and started flipping absently through the pages solely for the purpose of having something to do with his hands. He pushed the thoughts of It aside just as the repressed memories pushing at the back of his mind started to give him a headache. He wished he had remembered to bring aspirin. 


Eddie will have some, he found himself thinking, and was surprised at the thought. Would Eddie have some? Surly he would. Eddie always had medicine with him, didn't he? The thought made Richie laugh, though it was brief. Eddie Kaspbrak, what with his perfectly styled hair and pockets overflowing with pills, but most importantly, his aspirator. Eddie Kaspbrak, with his lightly freckled face, and big brown eyes alight with hostility as Richie pinched his cheek and informed him for the thousandth time of how 'cute' he was. 


Because Eddie had been cute. Richie could certainly remember that much since he had heard the name for the first time in nearly twenty-seven years. Eddie had been very cute, both inside and out. Mousy-brown hair, short but fun-sized, although he had usually been more grumpy than anything resembling amusement. But when he did smile, God, was it contagious. It could have lit up an entire room, and Richie always found himself smiling back, no matter the situation. 


"God, Tozier, pull yourself together!" He grumbled to himself, pressing his cold hands to his lightly blushing cheeks. "You were both eleven, for Christ's sake." The child-like side of him that he had locked away long ago suddenly forced it's way out and mentally pinched him for using the lord's name in vain, though it was more of a teasing jab than anything else. He had never been as passionate about church as either of his parents, which was why he had felt so comfortable with his teasing of Eddie. To others it had almost definitely come across as couple-y, which was what he supposed he had been aiming for at the time, in his own cruelly teasing way. 


Richie finally wrenched his thoughts away from his long-time best friend, of which he had never had a friend that could compare since, and looked down at the book he was holding. It was a phone book, and the page he had stopped on after flipping for countless minutes had the Derry Public Library right at the top. Slightly disturbed but deciding it was what he should be doing anyway, Richie picked up the phone from it's cradle on the bedside table and dialed the number into the box, holding the receiver to his ear. 


"Hello, this is the Derry Public Library, how can I help you?" A male voice drifted through the speaker, not one that Richie was familiar with yet, but one that he had heard before. He hesitated, pinching the bridge of his nose and exhaling slowly as exhaustion tugged at the back of his tired mind. He forced a smile onto his face even though Mike couldn't see him and greeted the man the way he probably expected to be greeted by someone such as Richie. 


"Michael, my man! How are you holding up down there? Need some reinforcements?" He joked, tugging absently at his hair. It was already messy enough, there was no reason not to play with it more. There was a moment of silence, and Richie sighed. "It's... Richie. I'm here. I'm calling to talk about the plan, you know, for everyone meeting up and stuff. 


"... I missed you, Tozier." And even through the static-filled muffle of the phone, Richie could detect the utter relief in his old, old friend's voice.