I went back to feel alone there.
I went back to wipe it clean.
I took the lights and radio towers out of my dreams.
-"The Moon" by The Microphones
After that night, Eddie suddenly seems to be shirtless everywhere . Richie isn’t sure if it was the tattoos or the scar he was hiding, but it was certainly something because now he can’t eat his breakfast in peace without some 5’9” dork walking by in nothing but cotton shorts. He is so fucked.
Aside from the lack of oxygen going to his brain now that Eddie no longer wears shirts, they’re doing pretty well. They’ve developed a new life together, one where Richie cleans up after himself like a real adult, and they conclude each day with a few episodes of The Office because poor Eddie has never seen it.
Eddie went to job interviews nearly every day, but nothing stuck until the fifth one. Richie is a little disappointed because he really does nothing aside from sit around the house ignoring calls from his manager. He was enjoying having someone to spend all of his lazy days with. They went out to Denny’s nearly every morning and occasionally saw a movie at the theatre or picked up ice cream at Dairy Queen, but they mostly had spent all their time at home cleaning, laughing, and watching Netflix. Eddie getting a job while Richie spent all of his time at home also felt married, which was a rather alarming word that made him queasy and also a little too happy. It was ridiculous and somewhere in the back of his head he knew that this whole deal was going to crash and burn.
But right now, with both of them getting ready for dinner out with all of their friends, everything felt perfect. When they’d all left Derry almost six months ago, they’d agreed to have occasional meetups when they could, and the first one they scheduled was in LA. It was all Ben’s idea, and Richie was pretty sure it was because he was worried about him. He could sense it, they were all worried about him. Ben and Bev were living together, Mike and Bill called each other nearly every day, and Richie and Eddie were stuck in some weird, juvenile warzone. He wondered how they would react when they found out Eddie was living with him. Perhaps Eddie had already told them over the phone. There was no way in hell he was going to explain to any of the losers that he was living with Eddie, his childhood crush, because he was fairly certain they all knew that this crush had stretched on long beyond just their childhood.
Times like these, when Eddie steps out of his room in a light blue button-up and those navy slacks that Richie adores, it is painfully obvious just how out of hand his little crush has become.
“ That’s what you’re wearing?” Eddie asks with a raised eyebrow, fingers buttoning the last button on his shirt.
“Hey! What’s wrong with this?” Richie moves around a little in his jeans and patterned button-down.
“It has fucking llamas on it, Richie. We’re going to a nice restaurant-”
“With our friends who know I dress like this! Who am I trying to impress?” Eddie sighs, adjusting the watch on his wrist before motioning to Richie’s bedroom door.
“Can I?” When Richie makes no move to disagree, Eddie walks across the hall and busts into Richie’s closet. He rifles through the shirts, grumbling all the while about how shitty Richie’s fashion taste is. And again that word- married - pops into Richie’s head, “How about this one?”
Eddie holds out a much nicer button-down than Richie is wearing, one that he’d only wear for an exceptionally nice event. It’s short-sleeved, but it’s ironed crisp from when he’d taken it to the dry-cleaners, and it’s peach, which really isn’t Richie’s color.
As if on cue, Eddie remarks, “I like this color on you,” and suddenly Richie doesn’t even care that it’s totally not his style. He strips off his other shirt and pulls this one over his head.
“I’m not tucking it in though. I’m not trying to be a George W Bush lookalike like someone- ”
“Shut the fuck up, Rich. You look nice.” Richie pulls at the ends of the shirt to smooth it out, then turns to look at Eddie.
“You sure? I don’t look too uptight, or…”
“No,” Eddie cuts him off, eyes raking over his chest in a way that makes Richie flush from his cheeks down to his toes. His skin squirms under the attention, “You look really nice.”
“Oh, are you staying with Richie?” Bev immediately asks when she sees them get out of Richie’s car together. Richie had really hoped that that conversation topic would have been avoided for the entire evening, or at least some of it. Here it is, being presented before he’s even shut his car door.
“Yeah,” Eddie says, looking embarrassed. For some reason, he can’t really seem to get over the idea that it’s really not that big of a deal to have a roommate at 40. It is a big deal, however, to have a giant, secret crush on your roommate who sleeps a few feet away from you, like Richie, “I, uh, actually live with Richie.”
Bev looks over at Ben, who’s standing next to her, and they share a look only married couples have. She looks back at Eddie who looks like he wants to melt into the asphalt, “You live with him? Did you and your wife…?”
“We got a divorce. Well, we’re getting one. It’s not, uh, finalized yet, but-”
“What? It’s not finalized yet? And all this time she’s been telling me I’m the only one for her-”
“Gross, Richie,” Eddie’s close enough to shove him into the side of the car, rolling his eyes and apologizing to the couple who only giggle in response, “It’s really good to see you guys, though! I can’t believe it’s been six months, I guess it’s a lot better than 27 years, though.”
They all exchange hugs and wander inside to where Mike and Bill are already sucking down cocktails. The restaurant is a fancy sushi restaurant, much to Eddie’s dismay (because ‘do you know how disgusting fish can be, both farmed and wild-caught?’ ) and in turn, Richie’s as well. The inside is a nice green and gold aesthetic, with cream chairs that Richie certainly pulls out from under Eddie when he goes to sit down.
“Fuck you, dickwad!” He shouts, and the night is already off to a good start.
“Could we maybe tone down the loud cursing in front of children?” Mike requests, glancing over at an appalled mother covering her sons' ears.
“It’s not my fault, you don’t know how difficult it is to deal with this-” Eddie lowers his voice to a whisper, throwing an apologetic look towards the mother, “ douchebag on a daily basis.”
“Daily basis?” Bill asks, stirring his martini.
“Yeah,” Bev says in an odd voice that Richie does not like at all, “They live together now. Eddie got a divorce.”
“Oh shit, I’m sorry, man.” Mike frowns, but Eddie just shrugs.
“I’m happier now than I was before I came to Derry,” And oh, Richie was not expecting that. He was really happier, despite all the pouting he did about living with Richie?
“Speaking of Derry, are you healing up okay?” Ben presses a hand to his chest.
“Oh, yeah,” Richie jumps in, “He’s got this awesome scar now. You should see it, he looks like Iron Man.”
Time flies by like nothing has changed since they all left Derry. They drink sake and more martinis and become so loud that eventually nobody, especially not mothers and their children, will sit by them. As the night goes on, Eddie becomes more comfortable, curse words bubbling out of him in rapid-fire insults he throws at Richie that cause everyone else at the table to shriek with laughter. Richie is so happy seeing Eddie like this that it’s unsettling. Watching his face beam as he roasts Richie, the sake-laced giggles, and the way his hair becomes slightly less neat throughout the night makes an uneasy feeling settle into his gut, because he realizes just how content he would be to watch Eddie from afar for the rest of his life. He quickly excuses himself to the bathroom.
As he makes his way into the men’s restroom, he feels a hand on his collar yank him back, and he’s suddenly eye-to-eye with a short redhead.
“As much as I love you, I just couldn't do that to poor, sweet Ben.” Richie tells her, earning an annoyed huff of laughter.
“Shut up, Richie,” Bev says, looking down the hall like she’s worried someone is following her, “So, you’re living with Eddie now?”
“Did you stop me to make small talk? I have to pee,” Bev only narrows her eyes further at him, “Fine. Yes, Eddie is living with me, what about it?”
“Are you… okay with that?”
He steps aside to let someone else go into the restroom, “Yes, I’m okay with that, Bev, obviously.”
“Even after…” She squints up at him, like she’s calculating something, “Even after what happened with you two?”
This is exactly what Richie was trying to avoid all night. That look, the concern, “It was a stupid crush when we were thirteen. I’m over it.”
Confusion passes over Bev’s face, but before she can ask another question, he’s managed to slip into the bathroom, narrowly avoiding her hand as she tries to pull him back out.