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i am terrified your body could fall apart at any second

Chapter Text

you wrote 'don't forget'
on your arm when you were drunk
and i got mad at the fact
that you had to remind yourself at all
i got mad when i shouldn't have
it's just that i got so scared
that you had already forgot

-"You Wrote 'Don't Forget' On Your Arm" by flatsound

-

Typically, Richie supposes, most people would confess their 27-year-long love to their best friend after they nearly died in front of their eyes. Richie is not most people. Richie is chickenshit, through and through. 

And so, after they flee the house, after Eddie wakes up in the hospital with gauze covering his entire midsection, after he heals up enough to fly back to New York, Richie just lets him go. He takes all the trauma and heartbreak and love and shoves it down his throat, straight into the deep dark basement that is his heart. He watches that dumb, cardigan-wearing dork walk out of the hospital room into an Uber he’d personally called for him and doesn’t tell him jack shit.

Then he catches a plane to LA and pretends that he’s sane enough to return to his normal life. When has he ever been sane, anyway? He certainly wasn’t sane for the last 27 years, when he couldn’t even remember where he grew up, and he certainly isn’t sane now, teetering between ignoring his pain and letting it entirely consume him like he’s walking on a tightrope. So what if he’s in some sort of denial? So what? Aren’t they all? Aren’t Bev and Ben fucking crazy to think that they can just start a normal life together after everything they went through? For fucks sake, they were talking about adopting a dog before they left Maine. The last time Richie had seen a dog he nearly pissed his pants because it moved so fast and had too many teeth and reminded him way too much of a creature that nearly killed his best friend. His best friend. Speaking of Eddie, he was in denial too. He just hopped on a plane and flew home to Myra (after bitching about how much he hated her for days) like he would actually be able to stand living with her and pretending he loved her after all of it.

Apparently he is able to stand her, though, because it’s been five months and he hasn’t so much as texted Richie a word since he left. Sure, Richie hasn’t texted him either, but he feels that the ball is in Eddie’s court since he watched him have a fucking meltdown when he thought he was dead, snot and tears and the whole shebang. He thinks that, after he carried Eddie’s body through the sewers whilst sobbing, Eddie could at least text him first. Evidently, he’s wrong.

He’s texted out a few sentences, sometimes even a paragraph on the nights when he has one drink too many. Usually, it’s a stupid joke. Sometimes- when he’s exceptionally drunk- it’s a picture of a kitten with sad eyes that says ‘I love you’ or ‘I miss you’. He never ever hits send, though. He wakes up in the morning with the message still in the text box and he just deletes it all. If Eddie wanted him in his life, he would have called by now. On the nights where Richie feels particularly shitty, he just closes his eyes and tells himself that Eddie must be really, really happy with his wife and job, and more importantly, he’s alive, and that’s all that matters.

So, it’s easy to understand why he’s thrown for a loop when his phone starts screaming at 4am on a Saturday. His hand shoots out, bringing the bright phone screen up to his face, and he reads ‘Spaghetti Man’. The contact photo on the screen is a selfie that they took together in the hospital, Eddie in a blue gown on his hospital bed, shoulder pressed against Richie’s with the biggest smile on his face. His heart leaps up into his throat and he chokes on the saliva in his mouth.

“Hello?”

“Why the fuck haven’t you called me? Or texted me? It’s been five fucking months, you jackass. You didn’t even bother to make sure I got home okay!”

“If you’re going to lecture me on manners right now let me remind you that you are calling me at 4am.”

“Well, it’s 7am back in New York, so excuse me for being wide awake right now.”

“7am is not wide awake hours- wait, what do you mean, ‘ back in New York’? Where are you?” Richie is suddenly concerned, sitting up in his bed and pressing one hand to his forehead to wipe away his hair.

“Um, about that. Listen, I’m so fucking sorry for springing this on you-”

Eddie, where are you?”

“Shit, Rich. I didn’t know where else to go.”

“Eddie just tell me where the fuck you are.”

“I’m standing outside your apartment.”

-

“What was your grand plan, you moron? To stand outside my apartment until I left for groceries or something?” Richie is sitting on his couch watching Eddie pace around his living room, looking equal parts annoyed and guilty.

“No. My grand plan was to wake you up with a phone call, which I did-

“Which was rude as fuck, by the way-”

“Fuck you, Richard, you are un-fucking-believable and-”

“Oh, cry me a river. Why are you here, anyway?” Eddie’s pacing stops and he turns to look at Richie, really look at him for the first time since he’s shown up. Their eyes meet and Richie wants to ask him why he’s ignored him for five months and then showed up at his door like he lives right across the street. He keeps his mouth shut, though, because Eddie suddenly looks serious, more serious than normal, and it makes his stomach turn.

“Myra…”

“Your wife.” 

Ex- wife, now.” Richie blinks at him stupidly and Eddie looks like he will bite his head off if he doesn’t choose his words carefully.

“That’s why you’re here? Because you-”

“Because I kicked myself out of my own house, yeah. I just couldn’t fucking stand it anymore. She went ape-shit after I came back from my mystery vacation with a goddamn black hole in my chest, and then it turned into full-on lock-down mode. I felt like I was suffocating,” He wheezes then, patting down his pockets for an inhaler that isn’t there. Richie raises an eyebrow and gets a glare shot back at him.

“So you came-”

“Here. Yes, dipshit, keep up.”

“You know, for someone who appears to be trying to ask if they can stay with me, you’re being awfully rude.” Eddie huffs and points a finger at him, clearly ready to start on some long tangent, but then he stops. He puts his hands into his pockets and collapses onto the couch next to Richie. And man, being this close to Eddie has not become any easier on his heart in the past 27 years, nor in the past five months.

“I’m sorry, Richie, I-”

“You can stay. Obviously .” He nudges his shoulder against Eddie’s and adds an eye roll for good measure, “I don’t need an earful from Bev for kicking you out on the street. This place gets lonely, anyway, and they say that adopting a pet can help.”

Pet? Oh my god, I will leave and go to Bev and Ben’s place instead.”

“Are you actually threatening me with leaving when I just agreed to let you stay?”

“We are grown adults, Richie. We need to be capable of being in the same room as each other for longer than five minutes without killing each other.” Richie throws his hands up with an exasperated sigh.

“That’s on you, man, I don’t want to kill you.”

“Well, you’re better than my wife already.” Eddie says, and they both look at each other and burst into a fit of giggles in the dim light of his living room. Richie can’t believe he went five months without this, let alone 27 years. Why does he keep letting that happen? 

The air settles in the room and Eddie’s not making any noise but Richie can still hear him existing next to him and he thinks he might explode.

“Well,” he starts, standing up and swiping imaginary dust off the front of the boxers he answered the door in, “I’m going to get the few hours of sleep that were rudely robbed from me.”

“It’s been like, fifteen minutes, asshole.”

Hours. ” Richie says, tossing a pointed glare over his shoulder as he stalks back to his bed.

Chapter Text

I could have the reasons why
But it wouldn't make anything right
Do you really want to know the thing
You spend your life trying to find?

- "Shadow Bloom" by Florist


 

Right off the bat, Richie wants to kill him. After he sleeps for a few more hours he ambles out into the living room to find his entire house cleaned and rearranged with Eddie fast asleep on the couch, looking so fucking cute that he can’t even be annoyed at him.

As the weeks fly by, however, Richie discovers that the new arrangements and constant cleaning aren’t all that bad, though he does feel pretty guilty when he’s on his ass and Eddie is walking around the house picking up shoes and doing dishes Richie had left to ‘soak’. So, he starts to pick up his own shoes or wash his dishes right after he finishes using them. When Eddie realizes this, he looks at Richie like he’s grown an extra head and he just shrugs in response. The look on Eddie’s face fades into some sort of sweet half-smile that makes Richie’s stomach do flips.

And then there’s the sleeping arrangements. Eddie, of course, slept in the spare bedroom, but the weird part was that he’d make Richie’s bed every morning after he woke up, which felt simultaneously very married and very motherly. Richie didn’t know which of those two he hated more.

All in all, it wasn’t too bad. He was handling tipsy Eddie and sleepy Eddie and angry Eddie very well, given how fucking cute he was. And sure, he occasionally choked on his cereal when Eddie decided to wear those navy blue slacks but if Eddie had noticed, he hadn’t said anything. He was dealing with living with his crush- which is so fucking juvenile, by the way- very well, given the circumstances. But, of course, life just has to throw a curveball his way.

The curveball comes in the form of being rudely awoken by Eddie, again, at four in the morning. This time, though, it’s not his cellphone buzzing nor is it the sound of clattering dishes. He’s actually not even sure what woke him up in the first place, he realizes, as he looks around the dark room. Nothing appears to be out of place and no murderous entities appear to be in his room, so he rolls over to fall back asleep when he hears it again. He hears shouting. 

He’d heard that this wasn’t the best neighborhood. According to Eddie, nextdoor.com had reported quite a few break-ins in the last few months, but he just hadn’t expected it to be his apartment. Because it’s 4am, and because he’s a fucking idiot, he picks up one of his heaviest combat boots as a weapon and creeps down the hallway stealthily. He knows the shout he heard was Eddie and he knows that, while neither of them are equipped to deal with robbers, two is certainly better than one. So he puts a hand on Eddie’s doorknob and sucks in a deep, unsteady breath before throwing open the door and dramatically pointing the shoe around the empty room.

“What in the fuck are you doing?” Comes Eddie’s voice, sounding thin and worn, but very irritated.

“Sorry, Eds, I heard shouting and I thought-” As he lowers the shoe, he cuts himself off. Eddie’s wrapped up in the sheets, knees half-drawn to his bare chest, rubbing at red-rimmed eyes with a sardonic look on his face.

“Don’t look at me like that,” Eddie says, effectively knocking the look off of Richie’s face he hadn’t even known was there, “I’m fine. ‘S just another fucking nightmare.”

His voice is bitter, tired from dealing with the years of trauma that came flooding back in seconds. If anyone can relate to that, it’s Richie. He’s still remembering new things about his childhood, some which are good- like rock fights and first cigarettes- but most are bad. He’s never slept soundly, not even before he remembered Derry, because he had these terrible nightmares that he couldn’t remember when he woke up. Now that he can remember them when he wakes, he wishes he could go back to the way it was before. Now they don’t feel like nightmares, they just feel like memories. Sometimes it’s the clown, sometimes it’s Henry Bowers, but most times it’s that fucking claw spearing Eddie like a goddamn marshmallow. 

“Do you want-” Richie starts, but he’s not sure what he’s asking, “I could get you a glass of water… or something?”

Eddie moves his hands away from his eyes and squints at him in the pitch black room, laughter leaving in a sharp exhale through his nose, “Actually, could you get me a normal fucking life? That would help.”

“Normal is boring.”

“Oh, don’t feed me one of those bullshit Pinterest quotes. Normal is a lot better than growing up with a psychotic mother, being traumatized by a fucking murderous clown, forgetting all your best friends, marrying someone just like your psychotic mother, being traumatized by a murderous clown again , getting a divorce and then to top it all off, being forced to live on your childhood best friends couch like some vagabond.” Eddie lists everything on his fingers aggressively, and flashbacks of thirteen-year-old, riled up Eddie flood Richie’s mind like tidal waves. He offers Eddie a half-smile, moving forward to sit on the end of the bed.

“First of all, you’re not sleeping on my couch and you’re not a vagabond . You’re paying rent, too. We’re roommates, dumbass-”

“How many people have roommates at 40 years old?” Eddie snaps, crossing his arms over his chest.

“Who fucking cares? Second of all, you need to see a therapist-”

“Fuck off!”

“I’m serious , Eds. Sure, you probably can’t tell them about the clown without them locking you up. But, you’ve been through a lot more than just that,” Eddie pauses, crossing his legs under himself. Richie takes a moment to stretch his leg out and hit the light switch on the wall and brighten up the dark room that was starting to make him antsy, “If it makes you feel any better, I- oh. Holy shit, what the fuck?”

Eddie raises an eyebrow at him like he shouldn’t be in absolute shock at the array of tattoos he has on his chest and arms. There’s a lot of them, ranging from satellite towers to birds to stars to a large, cursive print saying ‘No Dice’ - which Richie immediately determines is his favorite.

“What? Oh. Have you not seen my scar yet?” His hands smooth over the raised, knotted scar on his chest that, no, Richie had not seen yet. Richie hadn’t even noticed until now that Eddie had been walking around in long-sleeve shirts and cardigans. This is something he wouldn’t have come up with even in his wildest dreams.

“Well, no, but I was talking about the tattoos. What the fuck does ‘No Dice’ mean and how drunk were you when you got these?” Eddie pushes at his shoulder, making Richie teeter on the edge of the bed before gaining his balance and pushing back.

“I was, uh, in college for most of them. Well, except for the ‘No Dice’ one, that was the only one I was actually completely sober for,” Richie, for the first time in his life, remains quiet as he listens to Eddie. He leans back on his palms and watches Eddie trace over every one with his fingertips while explaining what they mean, “...And last but not least, I got the ‘No Dice’ one when I was 37. I had been married to Myra for a couple of years at that point and I was starting to… starting to look at my life from this birds-eye view and see how fucked up it all was. My mom, my dads death, my complete lack of a backbone. So I just felt like I was the living definition of ‘No Dice’.”

Richie, who has gravitated closer to Eddie over the past several minutes, leans back, letting out a breath of air he hadn’t realized he was holding in. He’s sitting in the center of the bed now, inches way from where Eddie’s legs are stretched out in front of him, “So you got that shit tattooed on your chest? That’s… fucking depressing, man.”

“Fuck you,” Eddie says with an eyeroll as he leans back against the headboard, “I thought it was artistic or something. It’s probably the one I regret the most out of them all, which is ironic considering I was completely sober.”

“Well,” Richie tilts his head to the side, desperately trying to keep his eyes away from Eddie’s chest. He’s not sure how often straight guys stare at their best friend’s chest, but he’s certain it’s nowhere near as much as he has, “How ‘bout we give it a new meaning? How about… it means, ‘No Dice’ as in there’s no such thing as luck? We make our own destiny. We get to choose where life takes us.”

Eddie, who seems to have not caught onto Richie’s eyes burning holes into his chest, nods, “‘We are the creators of our own destiny’. I like that, it’s better than this depressing shit, anyway.”

Richie smacks his foot against Eddie’s leg, heart growing warmer when Eddie smiles over at him, eyes crinkling. He takes a moment to admire all the new lines and wrinkles, the layer of stubble and forehead creases. Somehow Eddie has cheated aging and only grown better looking with time. He’s certain that the same is not true for him.

“You and me, Spaghetti,” He says, hand clapping down on Eddie’s knee as he goes to stand up, “It’s going to be one fucked up life with you and me in charge.”

Eddie drags a hand across his face before moving down the bed to lay against his pillow. His eyes follow Richie’s fingertips to the light switch, “Yeah,” He says softly as the lights go out, eyes twinkling in the darkness, “Thanks for checking on me, Rich.”

Chapter Text

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.

Chapter Text

You held my hand
you almost got to start feeling me.
I finally felt like I was breathing free.

-"The Moon" by The Microphones


Richie is sitting on the couch after a long morning with Eddie. Eddie started his new job today, and he had been so nervous he looked like he was going to upchuck three separate times before the clock even struck 7am. Richie was, of course, up at the same time as him because with all the clattering of dishes and cursing in the hallway there was no way he was going to get any more sleep. Instead, he helped Eddie clean the dishes and even gave him a little pep talk before he went out the door, taking Richie’s car to work and leaving him trapped in the house, alone. 

He rang Bill and had a chat that mostly consisted of Bill telling him about his new book, he cooked himself lunch- which was just some ramen, and then got so bored he turned on the Discovery Channel and took a nap on the couch. 

So, here he was, groggy from his nap and bored shitless. Richie wasn’t used to slow days, he hated slow days. There was only so much he could do around the house, and he’d done mostly all of it. He checked the digital clock on the side table and it read 4pm. Eddie wouldn’t be home for at least another hour, if not longer. Richie hoped that his first day had gone well, because there was nothing he hated more than a cranky, grumpy Eddie who refused to do anything other than pout and clean. An old memory flashed through his mind- young Eddie pouting after getting a “bad” grade (a B+, smartass) on his math test, pressed up against Richie’s side on his bed. He was stubbornly refusing to laugh at any of Richie’s jokes or teasing, but his hand was resting on Richie’s thigh. Little Richie probably would’ve lost his mind at the thought of the two of them living together. He wonders how many of those small memories are still locked away in the Derry amnesia. With Eddie around it seems like he unlocks more and more, good and bad ones. Like holding Eddie’s face in his hands while a monstrous clown stomps towards them, or Eddie kicking him in the face while they attempt to share a tiny hammock. 

As he stares at his ramen and worries over Eddie’s first day at work, he comes up with a brilliant idea. He crosses the house into the kitchen and looks through the pantry, and thanks his lucky stars that Eddie over-buys when he goes to the grocery store. He doesn’t even allow himself to consider for a moment if cooking dinner for a roommate is something a straight guy whos totally not in love with his best friend would normally do.

-

When Eddie shuffles in through the front door, Richie can hear him cursing at his coat as he takes it off and puts it on the coat hanger. He peeks around the corner of the kitchen wearing the same plaid pajama pants he had woken up in.

“Hey, how did it go?” He asks nervously, watching Eddie unbutton the top button on his shirt with a little sigh. Eddie’s eyes meet his and he waves awkwardly at him.

“It was okay. Just… nervewracking, you know? I worked at the same place for 24 years and now I have to learn everything all over again,” He walks over to Richie and a small smile crosses over his face before his nose wrinkles up, “What’s that smell? Did you burn something?”

“Oh, um, yeah. I melted the plastic on the ground beef package-”

“You were cooking?” Eddie’s eyes narrow like he expects Ashton Kutcher to pop out of nowhere and tell him he’s being punked.

“I thought… I thought you’d like to, I dunno, celebrate with dinner,” Richie rubs at the stubble on his jaw, trying his best to not act like a bashful 13-year-old schoolgirl. 

“You… cooked…” Eddie shakes his head, smiling, “What did you make?”

“Overcooked spaghetti.” Eddie giggles, making his way past Richie into the dining room where two plates of spaghetti and a bottle of red wine sit.

“If I didn’t know any better I’d say you were putting the moves on me, Tozier.” He says as he sits down next to one of the plates. Richie thanks whatever god is out there that Eddie doesn’t know any better.

“If I was putting the moves on you, Kaspbrak, it wouldn’t have taken me 27 years.”

-

“This is the most overcooked pasta I’ve ever eaten in my life!” Eddie says through a fit of laughter, sleeves folded up to his wrists.

“At least I tried, asshole,-”

“Seriously, how long did you boil it for?”

“Uh, 20 minutes, I think?”

“20 minutes? Have you never heard of instructions? They’re literally written on the box,” They both devolve into giggles, sipping on the red wine and not daring to eat another bite of the mush on their plates. 

“I’m so sorry, I’ll make ramen or something. At least I’m good at making that.”

“Babies could cook ramen with their eyes closed, dipshit, that doesn’t make you special.”

“Well excuse me, I haven’t seen you cook anything since you moved in!” Richie counters, flicking some tomato sauce at Eddie, who groans and wipes it off of his face.

“I’ll have you know I’m a very good cook, I make a-”

“I don’t want to know how many pretentious risottos you can make, Gordon Ramsay.” Eddie throws a side-eye in Richie’s direction but remains quiet as he stirs the pasta around his plate. There’s something dangerously intimate about this moment, with Eddie’s slightly unbuttoned shirt and red, warm cheeks, sitting in the dimly lit dining room with wine and spaghetti and Richie’s burning heart. Sometimes he wonders if Eddie knows, but doesn’t mind. Most times he’s pretty sure he’s clueless, mistaking all of Richie’s uncontrolled flirting and fleeting looks for close friendship. 

“Thanks for dinner, Rich, I’ll clean it up.”

“No, no, I got it. Go take a shower and relax,” He rolls his eyes when Eddie looks at him uncertainly, “I’m a big boy, I can do the dishes myself.”

Eddie stands up and nods, “Well, thanks again. It was… yeah,” He squeezes Richie’s shoulder as he passes by, slipping out of the kitchen and down the hall, when Richie’s head nearly explodes.

Like bullets flying through his brain, dozens of memories crowd into his head all at once. Little moments, shy smiles, kisses on the cheek, something more. 

“It’s something more than just friends, Eds. I… I like you.”

A first date, first kiss, carving their initials onto the kissing bridge. 

And then Eddie, he had to leave. He moved away to New York and Richie was too chicken to send him off at the airport with the rest of their friends. He was too terrified of saying goodbye, so he stayed at home. Stan was so mad at him for making Eddie cry, but Eddie was even angrier. He sent letter after letter and Richie read every single one but never responded because he didn’t know what he could say to fix it. What were they supposed to do? Send letters back and forth for five years until they could see each other again?

Eddie, his first love. His first and only boyfriend. It was never unrequited. It was a relationship, for how long? 3… maybe 4 months?

And what is it now? Richie looks down the empty hallway where Eddie had just been. Does he remember any of it? If he does, does he regret it? 

Richie is so fucked.

Chapter Text

I never asked to be here at all
So why do I have to face the fear of losing him
Of losing why I live

-"The Fear of Losing This" by Florist


 

Richie dials Bev first thing the next morning. After dinner, he walked around the house like a zombie while Eddie showered, face stuck in a state of shock. When Eddie came out of his room for their nightly episodes of The Office, Richie said he was sick and all but ran to the bedroom, locking the door and staying up until he couldn’t keep his eyes open anymore. Then, he rang Bev.

“Richie? Hey! Ben and I just left yesterday morning, did you miss us already?” She answers, teasing tone in her voice. They’d spent the entire weekend in LA, and of course, Richie missed her, but he was in the middle of a crisis and needed to cut to the chase.

“You knew, didn’t you?” His voice comes out urgent and almost accusatory. He rubs his jaw and sits down on the edge of his bed. He hopes Eddie can’t hear him through the vents.

“Knew?”

“You remembered that Eddie and I… we…”

“You were boyfriends? Richie, you didn’t remember?” She sounds incredulous, shushing someone in the background- likely Ben.

“Not until last night. Fuck, Bev. If I didn’t remember, maybe he doesn’t remember. Or, maybe he does and he’s hoping I don’t. He was so mad at me…” Bev heaves a sigh, and he can see her rolling her eyes at him.

“Shut the fuck up, Tozier. Yeah, he was mad at you, but you were thirteen. Things have changed, and-”

“And maybe feelings have, too. He hasn’t given me any signs that he-”

“Richie, you have to be the dumbest person I’ve ever met. He nearly died for you! Listen, I- I have to go, honey. I love you. Please, for once in your life, grow a brain cell and use it.”

“I’ll…” Richie bows his head low, putting his forehead in his palm, “We’ll see what happens. Thank you for… for always being you. Love you too.”

-

As the days go by, Richie remembers other things, small things. He remembers afternoons spent in the hammock in their clubhouse, him reading comics out loud to Eddie in silly voices to make him laugh. He remembers that it was him- scared, cowardly Richie- who confessed first. He remembers the relief he felt when Eddie kissed him, telling him to ‘shut up, shut up, just kiss me, Trashmouth’. He remembers holding hands at the movies, in the clubhouse, wherever it was safe and Bowers wouldn’t see them. He remembers Eddie having to leave, and how scared he was that he avoided seeing him off at the airport, opting to stay in his room and cry into his pillow because life wasn’t fair. He remembers Stan showing up at his house afterward, grabbing his arm and shouting at him until he saw Richie’s redrimmed eyes. He had crawled into Richie’s bed and sat next to him, let him cry on his shoulder until he was all cried out. If only Stan was here now.

“Richie, what’s happening to me?” Stan’s head asks as spider legs squirm through his skin. Richie knows that’s not real Stan, but still, something in his chest seizes. Stan. How did he forget Stan? How did he forget any of them, but especially, how did he forget Stan?

The spider legs inch towards him, but Stan, fake Stan is crying. 

“How could you forget me, Rich? You were my best friend. I was always there for you and you never-”

“Stop it, stop it, stop it! ” He screams, sitting bolt upright in his bed, eyes frantically searching the room for spider-head Stan. Instead they land on Eddie, who’s standing in the doorway looking caught between running towards him and running away. He shivers, heat escaping from his body as cold air hits the sweat on his skin. He’s now very aware that he’s shirtless and covered in a layer of sweat, which is not very attractive, “Sorry. Did I wake you up?”

“I thought you were dying. Well, I thought someone was brutally murdering you,” He puts a hand on the door frame, “Was it a nightmare?”

Richie nods slowly, squinting to make out Eddie’s tattoos in the dark room. It’s relaxing, counting each of his tattoos and trying to remember the meaning behind them, “It was half nightmare, half memory. They all are. It’s like that fucking clown crawled inside of my head when it died.”

“What memory?” Eddie asks after staying quiet for a long time. He makes no move to leave or walk closer and Richie feels like he’s under a microscope. He pulls the sheets up his chest, embarrassed at the lack of clothing.

“It’s stupid. It’s never the same one. This time it was Stan’s fucking head with all those spider legs on it.” Eddie nods, looking down at the floor. Richie thinks he’s about to leave when he speaks up again.

“I almost let you die, that must’ve been… terrifying,” He says softly, “I dream about that, too.”

Richie almost protests that no, that’s not why he dreams about Stan. But there’s something so vulnerable in Eddie’s voice, almost scared. He takes a risk and opens up a little more.

“The nightmare I have the most is when I woke up out of the deadlights and you were- when the-” He exhales a shaky breath, “When you nearly died and ruined my favorite shirt with your blood.”

Eddie laughs, sounding grateful for the break in the tension, “It was an ugly fucking shirt anyway, so, you’re welcome,” He leans against the doorframe, crossing his arms over the scar on his chest, “You know, I can remember that whole… thing.”

“Yeah?” Richie asks, “You were, like, out cold when we were carrying you out of the sewers.”

“I was in and out of consciousness, but I remember you-” He blinks at Richie unsurely and Richie thinks he must look so small pressed up against the headboard, drawing his sheets up to his chest like he is now, “I could hear you crying so fuckin- so fucking loud and-”

“Eds,” he tries, embarrassment flooding through his body.

“I’m so sorry, Rich. I almost let you die and then I tried to save your life and nearly gave you a heart attack in the process and-”

“Are you trying to give me another one?” Richie laughs, cutting through his babbling, “Because, remembering all that shit is hard. I don’t like to talk about it.”

“Sorry,” Eddie repeats, looking smaller than ever before, even when he was dying in Richie’s arms, “I just felt like I-”

“You don’t, Eds. You don’t owe me an apology for that. If anything, I owe you an apology for convincing you to be brave and-”

“No,” He says firmly, standing upright from the doorframe and locking his eyes on Richie’s, “That was my choice. I wanted to kill that clown and- and save you. I don’t regret it, even if I ended up with this.” His fingers trace over the thick scar on his chest, and Richie shivers from his spot on the bed. He wants to reach out and touch it himself, run his hands over the thick, warped lines, maybe even kiss-

“Do you remember when you moved away?” He blurts out, fisting the sheets in his hands. Eddie stares at him, then his brows furrow together.

“Not… really. I was really sad. I remember sending you letters until- Well, until it all faded away and I forgot it all,” Richie’s heart sinks as Eddie purses his lips, eyes looking like they’re searching for memories that were stolen from him, “Do you remember when you forgot m- everyone?”

“Barely. I was the last one to leave Derry, besides Mike, of course. Everyone kept leaving and after a few months they just… stopped calling and writing. I didn’t know where I wanted to go, but I knew I wanted out of Derry. Everywhere I looked, it reminded me of all the old friendships I had. I just took off as soon as I turned 18, drove all the way to LA and figured it out from there. By the time I made it to the other end of the country I had forgotten about everything.”

Eddie shifts against the doorframe, sighing heavily, “Do you think we’ll remember all of it, eventually?”

Richie stares at him, the way his throat moves as he swallows, his uncomfortable shuffling from one foot to the other. His eyes sparkle when the light from the moon hits them, and Richie cracks a small smile, “I don’t know, but I hope so, Eds.”

Chapter Text

Even when I'm a drunken mess
You don't care
Still like me better than the rest
I swear
I don't understand it
How you like me when I'm dancing

-"Fred Astaire" by Jukebox the Ghost


 

“What are your Christmas plans?” Before Richie realizes it, it’s almost December 25th. It’s not a holiday he counts down to anyway, considering he typically spends it with a bowl of canned chicken noodle soup, A Christmas Story on the TV, and a deep ache in his chest. Some years, he gets invited to a Christmas party where he gets hammered.

“I don’t know. I don’t really have any,” He answers Eddie with a shrug, stabbing at the eggs on his plate. 

“Don’t you go to your mom's house or-”

“No, Eds, my mom died almost fifteen years ago.”

“Oh, right. Sorry,” Eddie says awkwardly, looking around the diner. Richie waves it off nonchalantly, resting his chin in his palm.

“What about you? I know your mom’s gone but…”

“I usually just spent it at home with Myra, but, that’s obviously out the window. It just kind of snuck up on me this year, I guess.”

“Bigger fish to fry,” Richie says, exhaling slowly. He knows the feeling. It’s been six months, but he still feels like he’s walking through life blind, like someone turned the light off when he remembered Derry.

“So, you’re not going anywhere, and I’m not going anywhere…” Richie kind of wants to find the nearest cliff and jump off it. Not really, of course, but he’d do anything to get out of this conversation. Ever since all those memories came flooding back, he can’t seem to remember how to talk to Eddie. His brain feels like it’s short-circuiting every time he opens his mouth to speak.

“We’re spending Christmas together?” Eddie’s face flushes as Richie asks that, and it seems like he finds his food very interesting, suddenly. The rest of the diner hums in his ears, he searches all the faces of the people to make sure no one is looking at them. They aren't committing any crimes. They're just two men, out for breakfast. But, he feels guilty, like everyone is watching them. The other side of the booth is empty, both of them crowded close on the one side. Close. Like two men shouldn't be. 

“Well, yeah, I guess. Unless… unless you’re planning on throwing a party or something. I have a cousin in New York I could stay with, I know it’s probably weird having to explain to people you have a 40-year-old man for a roomma-”

“How many times do I have to explain to you that you’re the one with the roommate holdup? Also, I’m not the fucking grinch. I’m not going to force some old, crippled man out of my house on Christmas of all days.” Eddie’s face pinches up angrily as he points a finger in Richie’s face.

Crippled? Shut the fuck up, I am not crip-” 

“Sir?” Their waitress interrupts, frantic eyes bouncing back and forth between innocent Richie and his foul-mouthed friend, “Um, here’s the check.” 

Eddie turns red as she slides the black book across the counter and turns to leave. He looks up at Richie, who’s in the process of trying not to laugh, to mouth ‘I hate you’.

Richie pulls him close to his side and says in a sing-songy voice, “You love me!”

-

If Richie thought Eddie making his bed and picking out his clothes was especially married, then he was in for a shock when it came to spending Christmas with him. Eddie loved to decorate, and Richie found there was nothing he enjoyed more than setting Eddie loose in the Christmas section of Walmart and watching him chuck decorations into their cart. Richie’s occasional decoration pick was always promptly thrown out, accompanied by Eddie chastising him for picking ‘obnoxious decor’.

Richie loved it, though. He loved the wreaths and the tiny Santa Claus on the fireplace. He especially loved decorating the tree with him, getting himself wrapped up in the Christmas lights while Eddie hollered to ‘stop goofing off!’

“This is the ugliest tree in the world!” Eddie is wheezing with laughter, spilling his little mug of boozy eggnog all over the place. He’d only drank about half of it, but he is already susceptible to fits of giggles and losing his balance.

“Don’t say that about our tree! He might hear you!” Eddie cackles in response, cheeks bright red and eyes all shiny. Richie thinks it’s unfair, how pretty he looks like this. Something inside him scolds him- ‘men aren’t pretty’, it says. Ice runs through his veins for a moment, but he takes in a deep breath. No, he tells the voice, Eddie is living proof that men can be pretty, sometimes they’re the prettiest thing you’ve ever seen. Eddie puts his mug on the table and demands a refill of just water, like he’s the king of the house. Richie, of course, obliges. Because if he’s being honest, Eddie is the king of the house.

He walks over to the kitchen, dumping the rest of the drink down the drain. He can hear Eddie laughing to himself in the living room, “I don’t remember you being this enthusiastic about Christmas when we were younger. You used to be pretty Grinch-ey, from what I recall.” 

“I always loved Christmas! I think what you’re remembering is how much I hated you walking around with mistletoe trying to kiss all of the losers and everyone in our families.”

“Ah, yes. My big ruse to win over Mrs. K, I remember that,” he smiles down at Eddie, who is trying to take up the whole couch and prevent Richie from having any room to sit down. He’s 5’9” and it’s a pretty big couch, so it’s not working out for him. Richie plants his ass right next to Eddie’s head, earning a groan and two hands on his thigh trying to push him away, “You’re weird when you’re tipsy, have I ever told you that?”

Eddie huffs and ignores his comment because, yes, Richie says that every time the two of them drink together, “Myra never let me decorate when we celebrated Christmas. She said it wasn’t the ‘man’s job’. ” 

He pretends to gag, rolling his eyes obnoxiously and sitting upright, “Decorating is fuckin’ manly, though, you know?” The room glows in Christmas lights as Eddie enthusiastically waves his hands around. A beat passes before a laugh escapes Richie

“Yeah, Eds, it’s ‘fuckin’ manly’. Don’t know how your ex-wife ever thought she was married to a man, though. You wipe down the toilet with Clorox wipes three times a day. Have you ever thought of being a maid? I could get you one of the outfits.” The sweet, lightly freckled face scrunches up in annoyance. Richie's stomach drops out from under him. All of the breath in his lungs punches out of him sharply, wondering the things his childhood bullies would say if they saw the way he was looking at his best friend now. Faggot. Fairy. Girly-boy.

“Well if someone here could aim, I wouldn’t have to clean the toilet all the time,” He moves closer, pressing them together head to toe. His thumb rubs at the rim of his coffee mug and Richie can’t take his eyes off of it. He blames it on the alcohol, “What’d’cha get me for Christmas?”

Eddie looks up at him, and Richie finally moves his eyes away from Eddie’s hands. He can’t help the soft smile that takes over his face when his eyes lock on the big, excited ones in front of him. Young Eddie and older Eddie blur together, the only difference is the new, raised scar on his cheek that Richie thinks is a pretty hot addition, “You’ll find out tomorrow morning, and don’t you dare try to give me those puppy dog eyes. Those only work when Ben uses them.”

-

Eddie makes badass homemade French Toast. It’s apparently a tradition in the Kaspbrak family, and Richie is incredibly thankful for it. He grumbles for a while, annoyed that he’s so shitty at cooking while Eddie is phenomenal at it, but he eventually gets over himself and goes back for three more servings. It’s worth it, too, when he sees just how happy Eddie is that he likes it. 

They move onto presents by noon, and Richie starts to get a little nauseous at the idea of opening presents together like some couple. He pushes it down, though. Now isn’t the time. It's never the time, really. The days and weeks and phone calls with Bev pass by and he's never sure if he can really say it. How do you start that conversation? 'Oh, hey, by the way, do you remember that you used to be in love with me?'

“We should have a Losers Club Christmas one year. You know, where we all fly out to one place and rent a cabin or something.” Eddie says, unwrapping some boxes filled with clothes. Not all of the presents are from each other, as all the losers shipped several their way.

“That would be cool. We should stay near Ben and Bev, though, because they’ll probably be the first to have kids, at this rate.”

“And the last,” Eddie remarks, ripping the bow off of a present, “What?” He looks up at Richie, “We’re getting old and neither of us are going to settle down anytime soon.”

“I guess,” Richie shrugs, feeling a bit like he was punched in the gut, “I don’t know. I just, I never thought I’d end up without a kid. I know I’m not the picture of a family man but I… I always thought I’d have kids.”

“I’m amazed you didn’t knock up any poor girls by now,” Eddie snorts, “You could always adopt?”

He nods, shooting a small smile Eddie’s direction, “That’s true. Not sure I’m the best candidate for adoption, though. I don’t think they just hand over kids to single gay guys in their forties.”

Eddie pauses for a second, then goes back to struggling with opening a box, “Wouldn’t have guessed.” 

“Wouldn’t have guessed what?” Richie asks, then he realizes what he just said, “Oh.” His hands reach for the glass of water on the table and he downs it in one go. Stupid fucking Tozier, this isn't what 'coming out' is supposed to be like. There's supposed to be a sit-down meeting and long talk and probably a few tears, too.

“I don’t care, though. Just, you never struck me as…” He trails off and Richie laughs to himself, shaking his head. He can’t believe, knowing what he knows, that Eddie apparently ‘wouldn’t have guessed’. He wants to make a joke about it, remind Eddie about their past nonchalantly, but he holds his tongue. Thankfully, Eddie speaks up again. 

“Oh! Open that one next!” He points to a small present, about the size of a book. Richie picks it up, moving it around in his hands until Eddie whines at him to hurry up. 

Once he gets the wrapping paper off, he adjusts his glasses and holds it up in the morning light from the window. It’s a pretty, gold-painted frame with leaves carved into the wood, but that’s not what makes Richie’s heart leap into his throat. It’s the picture in the center, old and a little worn. 

“I think I was the one who took it. I’m not sure, I can’t remember. I found it in my stuff when I left Myra and I…” He trails off as Richie wipes at his eyes under his glasses and squints to get a better look at it. It’s him- big, dorky glasses and his old Freese’s shirt- and Stan, laughing their asses off at whoever must be taking the picture. Richie is pointing at the camera, arm slung around Stan’s shoulder. Stan is clearly in the middle of one of his famous eye rolls, but he’s also laughing, “I thought that you’d like to have it. I know how much you loved him.”

“Thanks, Eds,” He says, voice hardly a whisper. He wraps one arm around Eddie’s middle, pulling him in for a clumsy hug as he tries to wipes away the tears before they fall down his face. Guilt and grief mix into one emotion like colored paints blending together. There were so many good memories, so many moments he forgot. How could he forget Stan? Eddie's arm squeezes Richie tight.

“I feel really bad that he never got to see you all grown up. He would’ve thought-”

“Oh, shut up. He would’ve been disappointed. Don’t give me any of that sappy bullshit,” He waves a hand through Eddie’s imaginary words floating in the air, “I’m a single comedian, who, up until a month ago, was living all alone. He had a wife and was probably planning on having kids. We weren’t even on the same path of life.”

Eddie sighs and nods, leaning back against the couch, “He still would’ve been proud of you, Rich.”

Chapter Text

I tried to laugh about it
Cover it all up with lies
I tried to laugh about it
Hiding the tears in my eyes
'Cause boys don't cry

-"Boys Don't Cry" by The Cure


 

Life should move forward after traumatizing events. Richie doesn’t know much about trauma, but he does know that he shouldn’t feel stuck the way he does. When he came home from Derry, he continued on his comedy tour for several months before he just couldn’t anymore. Headlines covered magazines for days talking about his supposed ‘mental breakdown’ and ‘egotistical behavior’. Monetarily, he’s been doing fine ever since, but between the nightmares and memories, he’s become reminiscent of a walking corpse. If he were to ask around, he’s certain he’d find that he’s doing the worst out of all the losers. Bill and Mike struggled, but both of them were marching on in their lives. Bill’s latest book was the most successful one he’d released so far. Mike was in Rome, exploring everything he’d missed after spending forty years in Derry. Bev had told him that she has nightmares, but when she wakes up crying and rolls over Ben is there, wrapping his arms around her and kissing her head. Everyone is doing fine. Even Eddie, who lost everything, loves his job and goes for daily runs and occasionally meets up with his coworkers at a bar or diner after work. He’s doing well, and Richie is so proud of him. But, he also feels like he’s on a Go-Kart track and he got stuck with the janky car that doesn’t go quite as fast as the others and everyone keeps lapping him, speeding by like he’s not even there.

And really, it’s all Eddie’s fault.

Eddie walks around without a shirt on which isn’t something Richie would complain about. Some days, though, his eye catches on the scar on his chest- white and knotted and huge- and he can feel hot, thick blood coating his hands, dripping all over his shirt. He can see it spilling from Eddie’s mouth. Vividly, he remembers wiping it away, smearing it over Eddie’s cheek. Hands shifting back and forth, rubbing over his shoulders, holding his cheeks, wanting to pull him closer but being so afraid that any sudden movement might kill him. And then, the worst part, dragging his body through fucking sewers and trying to hold his wounds out of the greywater and clutching him to his chest outside of the house until the ambulance showed up.

Then Richie will have to shower, in the middle of the day, just to get the thick feeling of blood off of him. Those aren’t even the worst days.

The worst days are the nights when he has nightmares he can’t shake himself out of. They’re visions of what he saw in the deadlights, all the possible futures. Tossing and turning, they seem to last forever. The visions are warped, Eddie being suspended over him with the claw in his chest for hours, and then he’s trying to wake him up while hot tears pour out of his eyes so fast he can’t even make out his face anymore. It takes them even longer to get out of the sewers because he’s screaming, he just wants to go back and die with Eddie, but the others won’t let him. They drag him by his arms, his shirt, his hair, whatever they can grab onto. 

When he finally manages to wake himself up, he’s sobbing. He’s incredibly grateful that Eddie doesn’t come to his aide on those nights, doesn’t think he could stop crying even when faced with the embarrassment of Eddie staring at him like he’s the one caught in the Deadlights.

So yes, Richie’s stuck with the slow Go Kart, rolling around the track like he’s moments away from getting out altogether and calling it quits.

Sometimes, though, Eddie helps. The days he brings pancakes straight to Richie’s room suspiciously line up with the worst nights he has, but neither of them ever talk about it. On the rare occasion Eddie knows he won’t be home from work until late, he makes Richie dinner and puts it in the fridge with a sticky note on it that makes him smile for the first time all day. 

So yeah, Richie’s life is like a thermometer constantly flashing between hot and cold, good and bad. 

“I made therapist appointments for us. Because of the… nightmares we keep having,” Eddie announces at their little dining table, dimly lit by the old, 70’s style chandelier hanging above them.

“Oh? Well, I haven’t had any in a while. I think I’m doing better, so I don’t know if-” He cuts himself short when he sees Eddie giving him that look, “What?”

“I didn’t know we were just flat out lying to each other now,” Eddie says angrily. Guilty, Richie looks down at the table, refusing to respond, “I know you still have nightmares. It’s kind of hard to ignore someone screaming your name bloody murder.”

“What?” Richie asks dumbly, stealing a glance at Eddie’s face. He still looks angry, but there’s a soft edge to it.

“Rich,” He sighs, using his elbow against the table to prop up his chin, “You yell my name in your sleep.”

Richie’s chest tightens while his heart spasms inside, lungs shriveling up and flying away like plastic bags in the wind. If it weren’t for the hum of the air conditioning and Eddie’s slow blinking, he’d be sure the world had just frozen. How the fuck is he supposed to respond to that? 

“I’m sorry, I didn’t realize I was waking you up,” He whispers, using one hand to rub at his wrist. Eddie lets out a humorless laugh, raising his eyebrows at Richie with a dubious look on his face.

“You- what? I don’t give a shit about you waking me up, but you’re… you need help. I do too, that’s why I made the appointment for both of us.”

“Listen, Eddie, I appreciate it. I just really don’t need to talk to some lady about my problems. You know better than anyone, talking about my close call with a clown is just going to get me locked up.” 

“Just, make up something. You know, a half-truth. Tell them you went through some traumatic event and almost saw someone die in front of your eyes. Tell them about Stan, how he was your best friend and you never got a chance to reconnect before you lost him. You need to get it off your chest. I do, too. It’s suffocating us.”

“I don’t need to do shit. I’m fine.” Richie tells him coldly, knowing that his response is out of proportion. He can’t help it, he’s tripped the fight or flight response in his head and his heart is beating like he ran a marathon. It seizes when those brown eyes narrow at him.

“You know,” Eddie sighs, crossing his arms over his chest, “You’re a real fucking asshole.”

“Yeah? Go tell it to the paps, then, ‘cause I don’t fucking care.” He picks up his paper plate and tosses it in the garbage, marching down the hallway as Eddie calls after him.

“You’re not even that fucking famous, dickwad!”

-

Richie’s awoken by something heavy pushing at his shoulder. Shudders wrack through his body, sweat coating him from head to toe. A nightmare, again. Blood and evil clowns and dead best friends and greywater.

“Move over. Now.” Eddie says, lifting the blue comforter with his hand. They hadn’t really spoken since he’d snapped at him that morning. They had still had dinner and watched TV together, but it all felt heavy. Richie was really shitty at apologizing, and he would kill for someone to write his own material for him, now.

“W-what?” Richie chokes out, still looking around the room to make sure it’s real. It’s dark and Richie’s shaking so much he feels like he’s floating away.

“Move the fuck over. If you won’t go to a therapist, I’m gonna sleep in your bed and punch you every time you start having a fucking nightmare. And, I can’t move you because you’re too heavy and I’m fucking crippled, so, it hurts.”

“You’re mean,” Richie complains, sliding to the side of the bed and settling back against the headboard. The mattress shifts as Eddie sits down on it. If it weren’t for the lack of light and fog surrounding his head, he’s certain he would be panicking about how close they are. He can’t, though. Can’t shake himself out of the haze, the blood and hole in Eddie’s chest flashing in front of his eyes over and over. He can almost feel the bruises Ben and Bill left as they pulled him away from Eddie’s dead body. He tries to unblinkingly stare at Eddie to remind himself that he’s right there , he’s fine. He has scars and nightmares now, but he’s fine.

“What the shit are you staring at, asshole?” Eddie grumbles innocently, but Richie devolves into sobs like a fucking baby. He can’t stop, tries sucking in breaths to calm himself down and then just cries harder and louder and poor Eddie doesn’t know what the fuck to do, he’s just pulling Richie’s hands away from his eyes and telling him to ‘stop fucking crying’ in the saddest, most terrified voice he’s ever heard him use.

“I’m-I’m sorry. Just, go back to your room, I’m fine.”

“Yeah, you look fucking terrific, Richie. You look worse than you did when you were covered in greywater and my blood.” It’s meant to make him laugh, he knows that, but it just makes him want to cry more. The heels of his palms push against his eyes and he sucks in a sharp breath to stop the sobs that try to force their way out of his chest, “Come on, you know how much I hate snot.”

Richie fumbles with the glasses on the nightstand and puts them on his face clumsily. He blinks a few times, Eddie’s concerned face coming into view. Those brown eyes are unwavering, unblinking.

“If you don’t like snot, why’d you crawl into bed with me? There’s a lot more than snot in these sheets-”

A pillow smacks him in the face before he can put his arms up to defend himself, “Gross! Shut up!” They both start laughing, though Richie’s laughter sounds gross and wet. He slides down the headboard until he’s lying flat again. Eddie mirrors his movements, watching him all the way. Several moments of silence pass, Eddie’s lips quivering around words he can’t seem to force out, before Richie finally decides he should just try to sleep. He goes to take his glasses off.

“Why do you keep saying my name?” The man next to him asks, fingers playing with the hem of the sheets at his waist. He jerks his head to the side shakily, fluttering eyelashes gazing over at Richie, “Are you dreaming about that Spider-Stan thing again?”

Richie squints at him, confused. Eddie just stares back, though, eyebrows drawn and lips pursed like a kid who got caught stealing. It clicks all at once, that Eddie thinks Richie’s calling out for him because he wouldn’t grab the knife and kill Spider-Stan to save him. 

“No, Eds, that’s not…” His guilty expression doesn’t waver, lip catching between his teeth, “I dream about you dying, after…”

His stomach feels like it’s been stolen from his body. Half his brain is playing the way Eddie said ‘Richie’ when he was impaled over and over, the other half is screaming at him for admitting the truth of the situation. 

“You dream about me dying?” His eyes have gone comically wide, but he’s visibly trying to reign in his reaction. Richie’s heart hammers away and he starts to wonder if this is another nightmare.

“Yeah. Well, excuse me for having nightmares because my best friend nearly died in my arms-”

“Jesus, shut up. I’m not like, making fun of you. Stop being on the fucking defense all the time,” Eddie shoots him a characteristic glare and Richie just sighs in response, “I was just surprised, that’s all.”

Eddie’s eyes trace over his face slowly, then his arm shoots out and yanks his glasses off his face, tossing them onto the bedside table. Turning back to face Richie, a small exhale escapes his lips before he shoves the hand back into his face, thumbs brushing away the tears on his cheeks, “We used to be so touchy as kids, you remember that?” He says, like he’s trying to distract Richie from the intimacy of the moment.

Richie watches him with tender eyes, he can’t stop himself. How much he would pay to go back to being thirteen, to follow Eddie to New York and never let them forget each other, “Yeah, I remember. You hated it, though.”

“That’s not true, I just pretended to hate it. I actually really loved it, but you knew-” Eddie cuts himself off, pulling his hand back from Richie’s face like he’s been burned.

“Are you okay?” He asks as Eddie puts the hand up to his cheek, holding it there for several minutes before grazing his fingernails over the spot.

“Yeah, I’m fine. I just… I get confused, sometimes. I’ll remember things and then they’re just… gone. Like that,” His hand moves from his cheek to snap, then he lets it fall against his pillow, “I’m going to sleep, I have work tomorrow. You better not wake me up again,” He tells him grumpily, but there’s no bite to his words. Richie squeezes his eyes shut tight.

“Wait, Eddie?” He can feel Eddie look back towards him, but his cowardice won’t let him face the unknown and connect their gazes, “I’m sorry for… for earlier. I’m not very good at talking about my feelings, or whatever, so.”

Eddie stays still for so long that Richie almost looks over to make sure he’s still breathing, but then he hears him shift on his pillow, “No shit,” He laughs, “It’s okay, man. I’m not, either.”

Chapter Text

"Hey, don't act surprised
Gold fish wouldn't love you twice
And your vanity, my deep levity
Won't take my advice
I never run while I still
Can"

-"Jumpstarted" by Jukebox the Ghost


 

It becomes a thing, Eddie slipping into his bed at night, jostling him awake and pretending to be mad while he climbs in and stares at Richie until he falls asleep. It’s weird, but also kind of nice. He supposes it’s not a normal thing for two platonic friends to do, but when the hell has anything in their lives ever been normal? Plus, an added side effect is that the nightmares usually seem to dissipate as soon as Eddie is in the room. Usually.

It seems like Richie falls into step again, like he’s not as left behind as he was before. He picks up his own slack, starts a job as a Radio Host and makes some new friends. Eddie and him have back to back weekly therapist appointments, which starts with Eddie first and Richie busies himself with magazines and Facebook for an hour until it’s his turn. Eddie always picks up milkshakes from their favorite diner that they’re usually too lazy to leave the house for, and then they head back home, like a couple. Richie is starting to find that he really doesn’t mind it anymore, except for when the therapist asked why they didn’t decide to hyphenate their last names when they got married. Yeah, that was weird.

But, other than that, it’s really not. It’s just two dudes living together, drinking beers (or, more realistically, pomegranate spritzers) and watching The Office, sharing a bed to keep the nightmares at bay. Totally not weird.

Richie thinks he might be losing his mind.

-

Richie’s eyes pop open in the middle of the night, but not because of a dream. Instead, it’s an eerie feeling creeping up the back of his neck, like he’s being watched.

He nearly shits himself when he sits up and sees Eddie in the doorway, hand still on the knob.

“Holy shit, what are you doing?”

“What am I doing?” Eddie asks defensively, like he has a good reason to be standing there in the first place.

“Oh, I’m sorry, is this where the auditions for The Shining are held?” Richie pats the bedside table, searching for large, square glasses. The room comes into view as he puts them on, he can see Eddie uncomfortably scratching his neck, dimly lit by the hall light.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you.”

“I’m not having a nightmare, you know,” Since he’s not occupied with visions of blood and chest wounds, he can process the scene unfolding before him. There’s a vulnerability on Eddie’s face he usually can’t see when his eyes are swimming in tears. 

“I know, I just… sometimes I have to check and make sure you’re still here. Is that weird?” He rolls his eyes, releasing the doorknob from his grasp, “Nevermind, don’t answer that, I know it’s fucking weird.”

“It’s really fucking weird,” Richie smiles wryly, Eddie sniffs, “I know what it’s like, though. That’s why I sleep better when you’re here.”

Several moments pass and Richie thinks that maybe Eddie’s fallen asleep standing up when he quietly speaks up again, “Is that an invitation?” 

He takes his silence as an affirmative answer, moving towards the bed and giving Richie barely enough time to move out of his way. They lay side by side, the only sound is their breathing. Without the nightmare, all that’s left is the awkward silences and pressure in his chest, like a stack of bricks is sitting on it.

“We have to stop meeting like this,” Richie says in a weird voice, and Eddie shoots him a look.

“What the fuck does that mean?” 

“I don’t know,” He says, and he really doesn’t. He just knows he’s overwhelmed by the smell of Eddie and how much he hates seeing his eyelashes clumped together by tears. He wants to ask what his nightmares are about, or at least ask if he’s okay, but he can’t force the words out. It’s fucking stupid, how much he wants to reach out and kiss him, or just hold him. When they were kids, he was a lot dumber. He might have actually done it and Eddie would’ve let him. Now he’s an adult, new problems and emotional scars keeping him at bay. The two of them are this horrifying conglomeration of pent-up emotions and trauma and stupidity. It’s all so fucking stupid.

Eddie’s pants of breath fall shakily from his lips, tumbling off like the smoke from the Caterpillar’s mouth in Alice in Wonderland, his eyes shut tight. Richie moves and their knuckles brush against each other. His chest seizes and he pulls his hand back, blinking at the ceiling, “Fucking dumb, ” Richie mutters out loud.

“What?” Is the response, brown eyes showing themselves again, knuckles connecting once more.

“I just- shut up, okay?” He says, sounding like bits of a record all scrambled up and overlapping. He pulls Eddie’s arm, tugging him closer and apologizing when Eddie winces. 

“Ow! I’m not a rag doll, be careful, dipshit. My chest still hurts.” 

“Sorry,” Richie repeats, then tells him to shut up again. Haphazardly, he tosses an arm around his middle, buries his face against his pillow and closes his eyes before he can see Eddie’s reaction.

“So, this is-”

“Shut up,” Richie tells him one final time, and Eddie finally does, save for one contented hum. 

-

So, the weird shit is over. They’ve broken the wall between the past and the present, mostly. They can still be as touchy as they used to be and Richie can try not to choke as he wakes up to find Eddie’s heavy head on his arm that has fallen asleep, fluffy brown hair shoved into his mouth. Richie feels better, like he can breathe again. The weird shit is over- right? Wrong. 

He should probably stop to consider why he feels most comfortable in chaos, when he’s suppressing his emotions while his legitimate wet dream drools all over his bicep, but he doesn’t. It’s some deep-rooted, untreatable problem- this obsession with denying himself any happiness. The self-fulfilling prophecy, probably. He never really paid attention in his Psychology classes. 

Eddie snorts awake and Richie goes to move, pretending like he wasn’t inches away from him seconds before, but hands fly up to his face to stop him before he can. Eddie stares at him like he’s a ghost, or an evil clown, or something else utterly terrifying. He looks like he’s had another nightmare, but something feels off this time. 

“Eddie?” He tries, but the wide eyes are unrelenting. Eddie pulls his hands away from his cheeks and sits up straight, looking at the door in front of him.

“You kissed me,” He whispers, hands flying up to his lips and rubbing at them.

“Dude, I don’t know what kind of porno was playing out in your dreams but-”

“No. You kissed me when I asked you to. When we were thirteen. You kissed me.” Richie really wishes Eddie would signify if this was a good or bad memory, but he just stares straight ahead, hands ghosting over his lips. 

Richie would like the check now, please.

Chapter Text

 

"Whether near or far
I am always yours
Any change in time
We are young again

Lay us down
We're in love
We're in love"

-"The End of All Things" by Panic! at the Disco

 


Sunlight streams in through the window and Eddie looks goddamn beautiful. He’s warm, all golden-coated with big brown eyes and messy brunette hair and the sheets still feel hot from where he was laying on them. The grey cotton shorts have made their way down his hips, revealing the tops of his hipbones and a line of curly hair up to his belly button and Richie really should be enjoying it, taking it all in, but he’s frozen in place. 

“What?” His voice comes out warbly and high, hands tightening around the sheets repeatedly. Eddie finally looks away from the door and connects their eyes.

“You knew, didn’t you?” Eddie sounds mad, but Richie can’t help but be impressed that he knows him so well, seeing through him like he’s transparent. He sits up in the bed because laying down while Eddie looks at him like that makes him feel so small. 

“Not at first, but-”

“And you just didn’t say anything? You kept it from me?” Richie blinks and presses his fingertips against closed eyelids. Fingers wrap around one wrist and wrench it away from his eyes, “Well?” His grip on Richie’s wrist softens but he doesn’t let go.

“What was I supposed to say? I didn’t know if you’d even remember and maybe you’d hate me because of how everything ended and-”

“Richie,” Eddie’s voice is low and steady, “We were thirteen, you dipshit. Why would I still be mad over that? What was your plan? Just pretend like nothing happened for the rest of our lives?” Richie chews on his lower lip slowly. He doesn’t think he’s ever been at a loss for words before, and it gets even worse when Eddie starts to laugh at him, “You’re stupid.”

With that, Eddie throws off the blankets and goes to brush his teeth, leaving Richie breathless and completely lost.

He tiptoes out of the room, rounding the corner into the hallway bathroom, and catches Eddie’s eyes in the small mirror above the sink. Eddie furrows his eyebrows, silently asking ‘what do you want?’ without having to remove the toothbrush from his mouth.

“That’s… it? You’re not mad?” His hands clutch onto the doorframe, leaning his cheek against the cool, white wood. Eddie spits in the sink, wipes off his face, and turns to smile at him.

“No. I was just confused, I guess,” Richie stares at him for a long time, waiting for something to happen. He’d expected more of a fight, something, anything to show him that their relationship was more than just a small bump in the road. Eddie stares back, stupid smile frozen on his face until he finally shrugs and shoulders past Richie. 

His eyes move from where Eddie was and he catches his own reflection in the mirror. Graying hair and wrinkles and stubble that still grows in patches like he’s a teenager. He wants to shatter the mirror so he doesn’t have to see how sad he looks, but he doesn’t think it would be worth the effort.

-

So they move on. Everything goes back to normal. Well, their version of normal. Richie doesn’t really know what normal is anyway, doesn’t think he ever has. If this is what life hands to him, he thinks he can take it. He thinks he can survive the tattoos and cotton bed shorts and warm heat of Eddie sitting a few feet away on the couch, if it means he’s there and he’s alive and he’s happy.

If Richie could admit, for a fucking second, that everything wasn’t okay, maybe he’d realize that he is waterboarding himself with a constant stream of painful situations and heart-rending memories. Maybe he’d realize that this is some weird form of self-torture that he needs to get out of before he implodes. Maybe.

But instead, he walks around the apartment on the days he has off and stares at Eddie’s laptop on the coffee table and his shoes next to the front door and the picture of Stan that he gave him. He closes his eyes and lets himself pretend that they didn’t miss their chance, that they’re happily married, and then he pretends it doesn’t sting when opens his eyes and there’s no ring on his finger, no Kaspbrak tacked onto his own last name, and no way that life would turn out that well for him.

It’s safe to say he’s at a pretty low point right now.

Eddie walks in through the front door after work with the mail like he always does, and tosses it onto the coffee table so it lands next to Richie’s feet. He doesn’t make a move to grab it, though, just settles in further to the couch and greets Eddie with a little smile as he rounds the corner into the kitchen.

“Really, Rich?” Comes his voice through the archway, and Richie has to shift to see what’s going on. Eddie’s standing over the sink where Richie knows he’s let plates pile up all day. 

“Oh, shit. Sorry.” He hops up from the couch, walking over to take a plate out of Eddie’s hands and turn on the water.

“I mean, I’m gone all day. Would it kill you to wash a plate once in a while?” He huffs loudly, arm brushing against Richie’s. He resists the urge to lean into it.

“I know, mom . I’m already on it, see?” He dramatically holds up the sponge and plate, accompanied by a dramatic eye roll. Eddie rolls his eyes back and heads out of the kitchen. There’s no stopping the small smile Richie has on his face now that he’s home, and he just hopes that Eddie doesn’t notice. Eddie must just think that he always looks like that by now, all soft eyes and gentle smiles and blushing cheeks. He looks like a fucking middle schooler with a gigantic crush, which is kind of true. It’s like he slides back 30 years every time Eddie walks into the room.

Eddie’s voice curls around the frame of the arch, quiet, “Hey… Richie?” 

Richie wouldn’t have thought anything of it, if he didn’t sound so nervous. It sounds shaky when it meets his ears, so he walks over to the archway and peeks around, “Yeah?”

Eddie’s back is turned to him, shoulders hunched over and he’s staring down at something. He can see that it’s a piece of paper when Eddie pulls it a little closer to his face. There’s no move to respond or turn around, so he wanders closer and puts his hand on one of Eddie’s shoulders. He turns to look up at him.

“It’s my divorce decree. It’s been finalized,” Richie’s confused at his intimidated expression, he just was cut free of all the things tying him to his manipulative ex-wife. 

He knits his eyebrows together, “Shouldn’t we be celebrating?”

Eddie nods, head bobbing up and down, and then he swallows roughly, “Yeah, of course. It’s just, I promised myself I would do something when I finally got this.”

Richie turns his head to the side, swipes his still-wet hands on his sweatpants, “A beer? Or a fancy dinner?”

Eddie shakes his head and laughs kind of breathlessly, like someone just told him something shocking, “I wasn’t expecting to have this until a few weeks from now.”

“Okay?” Is all Richie can say before Eddie has his hands fisted in his shirt, pulling him down to his level, “What are you-”

And then Eddie’s kissing him, pulling him closer until he decides that the hand in his shirt isn’t enough and he wraps both of his arms around his neck, divorce decree fluttering to the floor. Richie’s hands shake in complete shock at his sides for what feels like hours before Eddie himself grabs them and puts them onto his waist. That snaps him out of his rigid, startled state instantly, hands squeezing at the skin covered in a dorky white polo. Eddie’s lips are cold from being outside but his tongue is hot when it ventures out to lick at Richie’s mouth, not furthering the kiss, just exploring the new feeling. Richie nearly falls over when he pulls back.

“Oh my god, ” Eddie whispers in a way that electrifies Richie’s spine, urges him to pull him back and kiss him so hard he could bust a lip. Eddie’s gasping, hands burning everywhere he touches Richie, and he thinks he might just light on fire if he doesn’t pull away and catch his breath again. 

“Holy shit, you can’t be serious, you have to be kidding,” Richie says all in one breath, panting heavily. 

“Not kidding,” Is all Eddie says before he’s lunging forward again. He whines when Richie steps back.

“We need to talk.”

“Of fucking course you want to talk even when I’m trying to kiss you, I could kill you,” He lets out a groan, crossing his arms and glaring up at Richie, “Well, what the fuck do you need to say?”

Richie pauses, swallows, eyes Eddie’s swollen lips. He takes in a breath, “I’m in love with you, Eds. This can’t just be some celebratory thing, I think it would kill me.”

Eddie’s face softens, jaw dropping open a little before he closes it back up. He steps forward and grabs Richie’s chin with one hand, the other resting on his chest, “This is ‘some celebratory thing’. I’m celebrating that I love Richie fucking Tozier.”

Richie inhales, stares at him for a long, long time. He wants to memorize exactly what his face looks like, exactly what his cologne and after-work sweat smell like. He’s amazed at the fireworks that erupt in his stomach when he pulls Eddie’s hands into his own. 

“You’re shaking,” He says, voice coming out hoarse and incredulous.

“I don’t… it’s not often that I-,” he sighs deeply, “ This is not something I’m used to feeling. It makes me nervous. I’m sorry. I don’t know where to… put it?”

Richie swallows around a joke, “I don’t either, honestly. I’ve never felt this way before… well, once before.”

Eddie exhales sharply, lips a tiny ‘O’ shape. Then he kisses Richie again, whispering in between every touch, “Let’s just be ourselves, for once. Don’t we- Haven’t we earned it? I want to stop pretending, Rich.”

“Okay, fuck it, no more pretending.”

His lips make their way along Richie’s jaw, tossing off his cardigan, his stupid fucking cardigan that was covering some of the best tattoos Richie has ever seen in his life. He yanks Richie’s plain blue shirt up and over his head and looks like a kid in a candy store. Richie still ducks his head shyly.

“Not much to look at, moving on,” He mutters, grabbing onto the edges of Eddie’s polo, huffing when he gets pushed away.

“Shut up,” Eddie hisses harshly, looking him up and down, “You wear shirts fucking everywhere, I want to take a minute to-”

He cuts himself off, kissing all over the top half of Richie’s chest and Richie thinks all the blood leaving his brain might make him pass out. 

“Come on, come on, polo off, ” Richie hastily argues, and then it’s up over his head and he doesn’t know what to do anymore. His brain is malfunctioning, isn’t coded to do something like this. His palms press down on Eddie’s collarbones 

“Seriously?” Eddie laughs, “You’ve seen me shirtless before, this isn’t the new part.” And fuck, there's new parts. Things Richie has never seen before but desperately wants to. If he wasn’t on fire before, he’s fucking blazing now.

“Yeah, but I’ve never been able to touch before,” And Eddie’s hands are on his neck, kissing him and he keeps making these gasping noises as he’s being pushed down the hallway to Eddie’s room.

The back of his knees hit the bed and he’s being straddled before he can even suck in a breath and dear god he never thought he’d enjoy being under someone until now, with Eddie’s hands holding his own above his head and their hips lining up perfectly. He bucks up involuntarily when he tears his eyes away from Eddie’s thighs around his and sees his face all blissed out, eyes closed and mouth open. Eddie groans in response, releasing his hands to pet at his face and press hot kisses all over his neck and shoulders.

“I’ve been thinking about this since I was thirteen.” Eddie says in the lowest, hottest voice Richie has ever heard and it makes him gasp in air like a fish out of water.

“Old man sex?” He jokes, trying not to moan at how Eddie’s licking at his neck.

“No. You’re weird,” Eddie complains, “I mean Richie Tozier sex. Pants off, now. ” 

Richie immediately follows his demand when Eddie moves to the side to take off his own, “I think you missed the part where we forgot each other for thirty years.”

“That’s true, but I still dreamed about you.” And Eddie is on him again, biting his way down his chest and goes out of his way to catch Richie’s left nipple between his teeth.

“You- oh, fuck!- you had wet dreams about me? Holy shit, Kaspbrak, you’re going to kill me.”

“Wet dreams, dreams about kissing you, holding your hand, missing you. I dreamed about you every fucking night,” Eddie’s managed to slow down a bit now, pressing a sweet kiss to the soft pouch that sits just above his waistband, “When I woke up, I couldn’t remember who you were. But I knew I loved you.” 

Eddie licks through the line of hair on his stomach and uses his fingers to pull at it, the devil, “Eds, please get a move on, I’m going to die,” Richie breathes out, fingers in Eddie’s hair.

“Have you done this before?” He replies, breath fanning hot over where Richie wants him the most.

“Had sex? Yes. Had sex with a man? No,” He sees the hint of insecurity in Eddie’s eyes lessen, “You haven’t either?”

Eddie shakes his head quickly, so Richie pulls up his head to kiss him, “We’ll just figure it out as we go, yeah?” 

“Yeah,” Eddie breathes, pulling Richie’s bottom lip in between his teeth and a low moan sounds from his throat, hot and breathy, and it’s enough to have Eddie yanking his underwear off, quickly followed by his own.

“Jesus Christ, you are so hot it’s unfair,” Eddie flushes at his words, all the way down to his chest, “I’m not fucking kidding, Eddie. You weren’t the only one having wet dreams.”

The roles are reversed, and it’s Richie on top of Eddie, kissing him while he whines into his mouth when their cocks brush against each other.

“What do you want to do?” He asks, lips ghosting over Eddie’s chest, tongue swirling around his nipples, “What do you feel comfortable with?”

Shit, I don’t know,” He breathes, looking down at him with wide eyes. So wide that Richie takes a moment to kiss his stomach to soothe him, muttering ‘so pretty’ over and over.

“How ‘bout this?” Richie starts, sliding up and crowding near his face, “We’ve got all the time in the world to do everything. Have you ever gotten a really good blowjob before?”

And, with the way Eddie moans at that, he already knows the answer, but he still waits for him to shake his head first, “No, Myra’s fucking gross and it was just never-”

“Well, it’s going to be,” He catches Eddie’s earlobe between his teeth, tugging, relishing in the high-pitched whine it gets and wishing he could stay there for longer but poor Eddie is trembling like live wire beneath him, so he moves down and starts kissing at the crease just above his thighs.

He waits until Eddie feels comfortable enough to slip his hands into his hair before slowly taking him all the way into his mouth, “Oh fuck. Fucking shit,” Eddie wheezes, twisting his ankles and arching his back.

Richie goes back up, licking his lips catching Eddie staring at him breathlessly, hands still in his hair. He taps his belly, “Gotta breathe, Eds.”

“I’ll breathe if you don’t stop touching me,” He counters, eyes big.

“Are you bargaining with me right now?” Richie teases, thumbing over his hip bones. 

“Yes. Please. ” And well, fuck, Richie isn’t going to argue with that. He goes back down on him, hollowing his cheeks and letting Eddie arch up into it in his own rhythm. He paws at him, tugging at his hair and scratching down his shoulders, restless until Richie slots their fingers together. It’s not long before his moans and whines get higher, pace more erratic.

“Fuck, I’m already- ‘m so close. Fuck, Rich,” Richie pulls off long enough to whisper encouragements, one hand moving to squeeze at his thigh as he spills down his throat, “Holy fuck ,” he moans, settling down against the bed. Richie thinks this is probably the most beautiful he’s ever looked, and he doesn’t let that go unknown.

“You are so fucking beautiful,” He kisses up Eddie’s chest, head fuzzy. A squawk escapes his throat as he’s pushed over by enthusiastic hands raking over his chest and hips and- fuck- his dick, “No,” He says, breathy, “You don’t have to- know how weird you are about germs.”

“Fuck that,” Eddie says, eliciting an embarrassingly loud groan from Richie as his hot mouth wraps around him.

“Fuckfuckfuck, Eddie, I’m not gonna last very long,” He moans out, fighting the urge to arch his hips up. He’s certainly not wrong, quickly becoming incoherent, babbling a warning just before Eddie pulls off and pumps him through his orgasm, letting it spill over his chest and stomach. 

He’s faintly aware of Eddie settling down by his side. His vision doesn’t come into focus until he feels fingertips dancing over his collarbones and soft lips pressing against his shoulder.

“I’m really fucking gross,” He announces, pleased with the little smile and nod he gets from Eddie. 

“I’m not kissing you again until you brush your teeth,” Eddie says, narrowing his eyes and pressing a kiss to his cheek to prove his point. 

“Fine, fine,” Richie groans, but his face hurts from how big his smile is.

Chapter Text

I could not ask you where you came from
I could not ask you, neither could you

Honey just put your sweet lips on my lips
We could just kiss like real people do

-"Like Real People Do" by Hozier


“Fuck, fuck, fuck-” The rustle of blankets and movement on the bed is what breaks Richie out of his deep sleep. In the dark, he can see the shape of Eddie upright, but hunched over. 

“Eddie?” He asks before he hears the soft whistle of his breath. He presses a soothing hand onto his bare back, shuffling until he’s also sitting up.

“Nightmare,” Eddie croaks.

“Hey...baby,” Richie says and his mouth feels uncomfortable around the endearment. Eddie looks at him, a little startled, before smiling like Richie is Jesus himself. It lasts only a moment before whatever he had been dreaming about consumes him once again, face crumbling and eyes welling up with tears. Richie doesn’t wait another moment before pulling him into his arms, and boy, does it feel good to not have to hesitate beforehand.

“I couldn’t save you, I couldn’t- Rich, I didn’t save you-”

“Shhh, you saved me. You fucking badass, you saved me, remember? Fucking jumped in front of me and threw a spear and saved my fucking life, Eds,” He’s rocking him in his arms in a way that Eddie certainly wouldn’t tolerate if this were any other situation, but now he just sniffles into his shoulder, holding on for dear life.

“No,” Eddie sobs, “I finally had you, and the clown came back, and I lost you after I finally had you,” There’s a pang in Richie’s chest as he listens to his shuddering breaths; he had never imagined that he was something to lose for anyone. His hand slides into Eddie’s hair, scratching at his scalp gently. He wants to hold and smell and kiss him forever.

“We killed that fucking clown, I made sure of it. You’re never going to lose me, I promise. I’m going to make sure that not another day goes by for the rest of your life when you’re not annoyed by Richie Tozier.”

Eddie giggles, sniffs, burrows his head into the space between Richie’s shoulder and jaw, “This is much nicer than having nightmares alone in the dark.”

He kisses the warm, freckled skin on Eddie’s shoulder, pressing him closer to his body, “I’m never leaving you alone again,” He says sweetly, laughing when Eddie groans miserably. Butterflies erupt when Eddie presses kisses just above his collarbone, forehead still pressed firmly against his neck, but he settles into it and lets himself feel loved. Eddie’s words- Let’s just be ourselves, for once’- ring in his ears, and that’s exactly what he does. He holds the love of his life against his chest, arms stroking over the skin of his back, even as his hips start to hurt from the way he’s twisted. He listens to Eddie’s breathing evening out, snores spilling into the quiet of the room. He holds him long after he’s fallen asleep, sitting up, in his arms. 

And eventually, he untangles him from his body and maneuvers him into a more comfortable position on the bed. He lays next to him and strokes over his collarbones, scar, nose, shoulders, tattoos, lips, and anywhere else he can reach. He falls asleep drooling on his shoulder, dreaming about the life they were going to have.

-

“Are you kidding me, Rich? You forgot to drop her off at the boarding place? Our flight takes off in three hours,” Eddie is fretting over all the luggage, checking everything meticulously and Richie thinks he’s never going to travel with him ever again. He thinks that every time, though.

“I’m so sorry! I’ll take her right now, we have plenty of time. We’re always like, 20 hours early to the airport anyway!” He truly feels awful, his only responsibility was to make sure their Pomeranian, Peanut, was safe and secure at the boarding place. He puts his hand over Eddie’s to help zip the bag he was struggling with. Eddie doesn’t thank him, instead walking over to fuss with another suitcase.

“Because I like to be early! Now, we’re going to be late if something else goes wrong!”

“Don’t fight,” Stan says, fumbling with his sippy cup. He looks up at his parents with big, brown eyes, making Richie nearly burst into tears.

“No, no, no, baby. We aren’t fighting. Daddy is just stressed, that’s all,” Richie coos, leaning down and brushing the little boy's hair out of his eyes. He needed a haircut, something else Richie was in charge of doing before their trip and forgot. He looks back at Eddie, who has the same ‘oh shit, I’m a terrible parent’ look that he wears too much of the time, “Hey,” He starts softly, picking Stanny up as he goes to stand, “Let’s load up the car, then we can go drop off Peanut together, then we’ll head straight to the airport, okay?” He brings a hand up to Eddie’s face, cupping his cheek and laughing when Stanny mimics him, hand planted on Eddie’s other cheek. 

Eddie’s eyes visibly well up with happy (and maybe also a little stressed) tears, bashfully looking down at the floor and wiping his eyes, “Yeah, okay. Sorry I snapped at you.” 

“It’s okay, it was my fault,” Richie presses a kiss to his cheek, and again, Stanny mirrors him, “Let’s help Daddy get everything in the car, okay?”

“Okay, Papa,” He answers, squirming in his arms until he’s set down on the ground again. He runs over and tugs on the handle of one of the suitcases, as though he’s actually strong enough to make it budge. Eddie exchanges a look with him that only parents of a cute, dumbass kid know.

-

“Oh my gosh! It’s been so long!” To say the wind is knocked out of him by the hug Bev gives him would be an understatement, and judging by the way Eddie looks, Ben’s hug is just as enthusiastic.

“Oh, we missed you guys!” Bill pulls him from Bev instantly, hugging him even tighter and kissing him on the cheek. He’s passed from person to person like a plate of hors d'oeuvre’s for several minutes. When he finally pulls away, he’s startled to find Stanny has made his way to the backyard with the other kids, already. 

“He’s so big now,” Mike comments, passing him a beer that Richie gladly accepts after all the stress of the airport. His eyes search for Eddie, landing on him in the corner laughing over something Bev said.

“Yeah, he’s growing so much. When was the last time you saw him?” Mike scratches at his face, pondering the question. It already feels so relaxing being in the presence of the Losers again, crowded into a warm house. This is where they belong. Richie wishes they weren’t spread across the country.

“Well, I think he was maybe two years old? He’s, what, four now?” Richie hums in affirmation, eyes landing on their little one climbing the small jungle gym Ben built for his and Bev’s daughters.

“Happy belated anniversary, by the way,” Bev interrupts the conversation at hand, Eddie close behind her, coming around to Richie’s side and pressing close to him.

“Thanks, Bevvy,” Eddie answers, cheek squished up against Richie’s shoulder. Their hands find each other, fingers intertwining. Five years, and he still feels like his heart could explode with how much he loves him. 

Stanny bursts in through the door, covered head to toe in water, “Daddy! Papa! The sprinklers are on! Come play!”

Eddie starts on a tangent about colds and safety, etc. until he catches the face Richie’s giving him and he sighs, “You’re going to make me go play in the sprinklers, aren’t you?”

The shit-eating grin that slides onto Richie’s face more than answers his question, but he still has to tug Eddie into the yard by his wrist. 

And later that night, when everyone has gone to bed in the 9 million guest room’s Bev and Ben’s fancy house has, Richie finds his beautiful husband passed out on the couch with their gorgeous son fast asleep on his chest. They’re still wet, a little muddy, and oh, so fucking gorgeous that Richie thinks his chest caves in a bit. He stares for a minute before digging his phone out of his pocket and snapping a picture. These are the moments that matter. 

He sets his phone on the coffee table, tugs off his sweatshirt, and lays down next to his beautiful little family. His arms wrap around the two of them and Eddie’s eyes crack open.

“Oh shit, I fell asleep,” He says, yawning.

“Yeah,” Richie whispers, brushing some soft brown hair away from Eddie’s eyes, “It’s okay though. I might be old but I think I can carry the two of you upstairs.”

Eddie laughs, “Shut up, no you could not, you can hardly lift Stan up.” 

Richie’s nose scrunches up and he sticks his tongue out, earning another soft laugh, “Can too!” 

“Whatever you say, old man,” Eddie sighs, hand coming up to stroke at Richie’s face.

Richie grasps the hand in his and kisses his knuckles, “I’m your old man, though.”

“Yeah, you are,” Eddie smiles, eyes slipping closed once more. 

In no time, he’s snoring again, mouth hanging open and nose twitching adorably every once in a while. Richie stares at him for so long he thinks he might never move again, because where else would he need to go? He has everything he needs in the world, right here. 

And to think, he almost let it slip out of his hands.