The hospital lights flicker, yanking him out of whatever glitching thought process he had found himself in. He knew he would always do things like that; find himself toeing through warped and horrible thoughts at the most terrible of times. Probably something to do with not having his ADHD diagnosed until late into his adult years.
Probably something to do with being in a hospital.
Probably something to do with the terror and pain still circling his mind.
Probably something to with cradling Eddie, brown-eyed and pale-faced Eddie, to his chest, screaming at the others that he wasn’t fucking dead yet. They couldn’t leave him there, not Eddie. Eddie who had stumbled back into his life, married to a fucking woman and so terribly fucking the same in the best of ways. Eddie, still shorter than him and still tripping over his well-timed insults in a way that had Richie wanting to ruffle his fucking hair-
Eddie who had hovered over him, blood dripping from his mouth and pupils shrinking to pinpricks, smile frozen on that face, as It’s fucking claw had torn through his chest.
Richie scrambles away from the image, terrified of finding himself in those deep and panicked sobs once again. He had felt frenzied in a way that reminded him of being a kid, of holding Eddie’s young face in his own young hands and screaming for Eddie to look at Richie and only Richie.
Richie can’t remember the drive here. He knows that Ben had driven, shouting amongst the screams of Bev and Bill as they held Richie’s jacket to Eddie chest, and Richie cradled Eddie to him, sobbing and shouting and saying Eddie’s name over and over, as if that would somehow bring him back to consciousness and close that gaping hole in his chest.
He shouldn’t be alive, Richie knows. He wonders if it’s some fucked up voodoo shit, like how they’d bullied that fucking thing into dying. Richie had believed hard enough that Eddie could not be dead, and so Eddie was not dead.
Eddie could not be dead.
‘Rich’. He jumps sharply, and his buttoned shirt actually cracks at the motion. He dreads to think the shit that is on him, that had dried the shirt into such stiffness. He looks up, glasses smudged and cheeks stuff from dried tears, to find Bev standing in front of him. She’s holding a steaming polystyrene cup. She’s filthy and tired and everyone in the waiting room is looking at the five of them. Bev holds out the cup, her smile tentative. ‘Here. I got you this, honey’.
The others, who he had hardly looked at since Mike had practically pushed him into the stuff chair as Doctors and Nurses carted Eddie away, look blearily their way. Richie takes the cup and downs a sip before even thinking on it. He hardly reacts to the burn. He nods to Bev, smile tight, and she nods. She sits next to Ben.
Richie wonders if they know. They’re looking at him like they know; like they understand why, despite all of their worry about Eddie, Richie needed warm beverage more than anything of them.
He thinks of a time when shaking fingers had gripped a sharp edge and carved R + E into the Kissing Bridge.
Hell, Richie didn’t even remember knowing. All it took was Eddie calling him a fucking asshole in that over the top, rushed way of his to send Richie grinning and reaching for Eddie’s brown hair, and he had remembered countless time of doing the exact same thing. Any reason to touch him, Richie thinks. Sure, yeah, he’d known for fucking ever how far into the closet he was, but it had taken that moment of looking into pissed off, large brown eyes to remember who exactly had made realise there was a closet to be inside of.
Fuck that. Fuck the fucking clown. Fuck this shitty town for making him hate that part of himself so fucking much.
It’s hours, Richie thinks, of them all sitting there. Mike and Ben leave for an hour, at one point, to grab spare clothes and talk to the receptionist for any updates. Richie isn’t sure what he does in that time. He does a lot of staring at the shiny floor. He does a lot of replaying the joy of Eddie’s face as he had grinned down at him, so fucking happy and brave and, ‘I did it, Rich! I think I killed It!’
At one point, Bill slips into the seat next to him, pats his knee and says nothing. Bill was always good like that. He remembered that from when they were kids. Bill didn’t need to say anything to assure you. He was their appointed leader, and he knew each of the Losers well enough to know what they each needed in times of desperation.
Richie shudders out a breath.
Eddie can’t die.
It’s Bev who takes him into a disabled toilet after Bill tried pulling on Richie’s shoulder for a solid thirty seconds. He doesn’t want to leave his seat, and he doesn’t give a flying fuck if he stinks of sewer and blood. What if the Nurses come back, and he isn’t there? What if Eddie needs him?
In the end, it is Bev crouching before him, finally beseeching his floor focused gaze, and whispering a, ‘Please, Rich’, with that familiar blue, kind gaze that has him nodding, eventually. He drags himself up with her, his clothes sticking to his skin in the worst of ways, and follows her lead.
The others watch, he knows. Their sympathy makes him irrationally pissed off.
The toilet is spacious enough, and Bev brings up wet toilet roll to wipe away at his grimy face. She looks cleaner than he must, and Richie wonders when she had snuck off to the toilet to change and wash her face. How long had he been staring at that floor? It is when she takes off his glasses and wipes under his eyes that the bubble in his chest bursts, and a dry sob falls forward before he can stop himself.
She mutters an, ‘Oh, Rich’, and circles him in a hug that is so utterly Bev that it makes him want to cry all the fucking harder. She doesn’t throw any empty promises his way, she merely traces circles on his back and allows his wet tears to catch in the space between her neck and shoulder.
When he pulls away, wet-faced and snotty, he bites out, ‘He can’t-’ And isn’t quite able to finish the sentence.
Bev nods, eyes on his, and Richie knows she knows.
He changes his shirt, and realises that it’s one of his. A patterned maroon one that clashes with everything. Ben must have gone out of his way to check each of their rooms for their clothes. Typical fucking Ben.
He washes as much dirt off as he can, and Bev waits for him the whole time. He loves her, he remembers. He loves her kindness and her no bullshit attitude, and it breaks his bitter fucking heart that he forgot all of this shit. But he has time, with her, to know her now. What if he doesn’t get that chance with Eddie? With Eddie fucking Kaspbrak, who’s wit and backchat and zero tolerance for Richie’s bullshit slotted so perfectly with Richie’s essence.
They leave the disabled toilet behind, shoving Richie’s soiled shirt into the waste basket, and Bev’s breath catches audibly in her throat when they see a Doctor standing before the remaining Losers. Each of the men standing before the Doctor, making a mock semicircle, and Richie’s heart stutters and breaks and fixes itself when he sees Ben crack a quick relieved smile and fall like a sack of shit into the nearest seat to him.
Richie approaches with tripping feet and glasses slipping down his nose, and when Mike sees him coming, he talks over the Doctor to Richie and Bev, his nod slow and breath deep. ‘He’s okay. He’s okay’.
Richie cries again. He’s settled with the fact that he’s going to be doing it a lot today. Odd, he thinks. He never cried.
Maybe when he forgot them, he forgot how to.
The Doctor asks if they want to see Eddie, who is on a fuck ton of drugs and barely away and recovering from invasive as shit surgery, and Bev is the one who pushes Richie forward. The others nod before she can even say, ‘You go first, Rich’.
He does. He doesn’t have time to trip over his own nervousness. He has to, needs to, see proof that this is Eddie. Not some fucking…fucking mimic of Eddie. He needs to see a living and breathing Eddie to know that this is real, and that Eddie was not leaving him again.
He goes with the Doctor, through brightly lit hallways and ignoring concerned gazes at his state.
When the Doctor shows him into the room and pushes open the door, Richie cannot help but think that despite Eddie state, pale and covered in wires, his hair a disarray and his eyes blearily open, that he is the most wonderfully fucking beautiful thing Richie has ever seen.
‘Hey, asshole,’ Eddie croaks.
Quite unsurprisingly, Richie chokes on a sob, allows the door to swing shut behind him, and answers with a strangled, ‘Hey, Spaghetti’.