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thirteen

Eddie’s laughing at him—like, so hard it seems as if soda might spurt out his nose. Richie really hopes that doesn’t happen, because last time it did, Mrs. K took Eddie to the hospital and the Losers didn’t see him for a week and a half. Richie also doesn’t want Eddie to stop laughing, though, because it’s kind of the best sound in the world. It’s a stupid laugh. It’s obnoxious and annoying and ugly and all of those things are magnified when the laughter is aimed at Richie, like it is right now, but…

Richie just really loves the sound, too. 

They’re in the hammock together and it’s rattling with the force of Eddie’s laughter. His head is thrown back and his hands are curled against his chest. He looks kind of like a stupid t-rex but Richie can’t find his voice to say so, even though he knows it would stop Eddie’s uproar of laughter and turn him to indignant irritation instead. 

Eddie is still laughing when something pings the side of Richie’s head. He looks over, finally tearing his eyes away from the bright smile and mop of soft brown hair, to look at Beverly. She’s got a handful of pebbles in one hand and is poised to throw another at Richie. He flips her off, and she mouths back, affectionately, “queer.”

Richie rolls his eyes and looks back to Eds, who’s finally stopped laughing save for the errant giggle here and there. He’s grinning at Richie now, a mean sort of smile that makes Riche’s heart do weird things in his chest. 

Yeah, Richie thinks. I’m so fucking queer.


sixteen

“Who are you tuh-taking to the dance, Richie?”

Richie looks up. He’s been kicked out of the hammock and is currently relaxing on the dirt-dusted floor of their clubhouse. Bill’s question sinks in and, almost unwittingly, Richie feels his gaze tugged toward Eddie, who’s currently occupying the hammock. “Uh,” Richie says. 

Bill doesn’t seem to notice Richie’s hesitation. “I think I huh-heard that one Irene girl l-likes you.”

“Oh yeah?” Richie says without feeling. Eddie’s not looking at him, more engrossed in a comic book. 

“Yeah, I could a-ask her if you want. She’s fuh-friends with Angela.”

“And you’re going with Angela,” Richie finishes. “What about Bev?” He finally looks over at Bill, just as Bill finally looks up at him. 

“Her aunt won’t l-let her come back to Derry,” Bill says. “I even offered to duh-drive and get her and e-everything, but she still said n-no.” 

“Bummer.” Richie fiddles with a fraying thread on his jeans. 

Bill shrugs. “Angela is cool,” he says. “So you wuh-want me to ask Irene for you?”

Richie doesn’t look at Eddie as he says, “Sure, I guess.”

 

 

“Sorry,” Richie says for the millionth time. He’s stepped on Irene’s feet pretty much every time he’s so much as breathed. “I’m, uh, I’m not good at this.”

Irene, who has tight brown curls and faint freckles and icy blue eyes, doesn’t seem upset. She smiles at him and it’s like the force of her grin amplifies the scent of her cherry lip gloss. “That’s okay,” she says with a gentle giggle. “You’re still cute.”

Richie can feel his cheeks and ears burning. “Uh, thanks. You too.” 

They keep swaying in awkward, poorly timed circles along with the rest of the kids at the homecoming dance. A few feet away, Bill is gliding around with Angela, the both of them surprisingly graceful and in tune. Stan is quietly shuffling with a girl he knows from the synagogue. 

Eddie wasn’t allowed to come to the dance, and Richie hates it. 

“Are you going to kiss me?” Irene asks when the music lulls.

Richie’s gaze snaps to her. “Uh.”

She’s still smiling. She’s tilting her head back invitingly and Richie’s never kissed anyone before but he thinks about how if he doesn’t kiss her now, it’ll probably look bad. He’s sixteen and never had a kiss, what kind of loser does that? 

For a brief moment, his mind flashes back to Bowers calling him a fag.

He leans down and kisses Irene. 

She makes a squeak of surprise and the noise grates on Richie’s ears, but he doesn’t stop kissing her. The song has changed to something poppy and fun (the kind of thing Ben would know all the words to) but the way Richie kisses Irene is slow and timid. 

Eventually, it breaks, dry and soft. 

“Huh,” Irene says. 

“Huh?” Richie counters. 

“Not bad!” Irene says urgently. “Just...sweet.”

“I’m a sweet guy,” Richie says defensively. 

Irene snorts. “Whatever,” she says, not unkind. “I just,” she continues a few moments later, “I expected more tongue, I guess. You are Trashmouth Tozier.” 

Richie doesn’t really have a response for that, so he gapes at her for a second. Irene doesn’t notice right away as she’s now scanning the dancefloor, probably looking for Angela or other friends. Irene’s a nice girl; she probably wouldn’t spread rumors about him. 

Even so, Richie leans in and kisses her again and he has no idea what he’s doing but when her lips part in a surprised gasp, he slips his tongue into her mouth. 

This kiss is shorter and wetter and they get broken up when a teacher walks by, coughing loudly. Irene looks flushed and dazed when Richie pulls back, but instead of a sense of accomplishment, his chest feels kind of brittle. 

“That’s more like it,” Irene tells him. Richie tries to find it in himself to agree. 


nineteen

“Hey, hey, hey, slow down,” Richie says, laughing uncomfortably. He grabs the girl’s wrists as she goes for his jeans. “Take it easy, I’m not going anywhere.” 

The girl laughs. Richie doesn’t even remember her name. She’d just looked beautiful under the shitty bar lights, and Richie had bought her a drink before asking her to come home with him, and now he’s really fucking regretting it. She’s got this soft brown pixie cut that he’s kind of obsessed with, and she’s shapely with an ass to die for and tits that look frankly adorable in the little lavender, lacy bra, and Richie’s soft as a fucking marshmallow in his jeans. 

“C’mon,” she says. She gets out of his clammy, loose grip and her hands land on his belt buckle instead. She manages to get the stupid thing off in the blink of an eye and then she’s going for the hem of his shirt and Richie startles back so fast he trips over his own feet and lands on the floor. His head connects with hardwood and his ears start to ring.

“Shit!” The girl shrieks, piercing and loud. “Are you okay?” 

“Yeah,” Richie groans. He sits up slowly, rubbing at the bump forming at the back of his head. “Sorry, what a mood-killer, right?”

The girl laughs before sliding into his lap. Her arms go around his shoulders and she gently skirts her fingers over the back of his head. “Kinda,” she agrees. “You sure you’re okay?” 

“Peachy keen,” Richie replies brightly. One of his hands finds her hip and he thumbs over the butterfly tattoo curving around her side. “Uh, I’ve got some leftover takeout if you’re hungry.”

“I’m not hungry for food,” she says, voice turning low and smooth. 

Fear spikes in Richie’s chest and he blurts out, “I’m a virgin.” Which is true. He hasn’t dated anyone since he moved to LA. He hasn’t kissed anyone...he can’t even remember the last time. The only reason he was in the bar tonight was because some dick in his film studies class had made a joke about getting laid. Richie was the only dude who didn’t laugh and even though no one noticed, he’d still felt the need to go to the nearest bar he could find. 

The girl in his lap, who looks so strangely familiar, smiles at him in a way that seems sweet and sharp at the same time. “That’s okay,” she purrs. A chill runs down Richie’s spine. “I can fix that, if you want.” 

Richie doesn’t really want. He doesn’t know why, just knows that he doesn’t. Same way that he has no idea why he hasn’t wanted to kiss or date or barely even talk to anyone since he moved to LA, he just hasn’t. He’s not hard and the girl has to know, has to feel it with how she’s squirming in his lap in a way that’s probably meant to be sexy, or whatever. 

“Okay,” he says. “Yeah, let’s do it.” 


twenty-two

“You had a threesome,” Jerry says slowly, “And you didn’t like it?”

Richie snorts into his whiskey. “Too many fucking limbs, dude.” He shakes his head. 

“You had a threesome,” Jerry reiterates, louder, “With two women,” his voice rises and rises, “And you didn’t fucking like it?”

“Fuck off, dude!” Richie shoves at Jerry. “It’s not that easy to focus on two girls at once! It’s hard, okay!”

“You mean you were hard,” Keith chimes in as he approaches their rickety table, large hands full of refills for the three of them.

“Boooo,” Richie says loudly. “Fucking amateur.”

“Sounds like you’re a fucking amateur,” Keith counters with a smug grin. “Can’t even handle two women at once.”

“Asshole,” Richie says with a scowl, swallowing another biting sip of whiskey. 

“Okay, whatever, you didn’t like it,” Jerry says. He’s still talking way too fucking loud. “But was it good?”

“How can something be good if I didn’t even like it?” Richie snaps. “That makes no fucking sense.”

“A pussy is a pussy is a pussy, dude!” Jerry throws his hands in the air, exasperated. “Even bad cunt is still cunt!”

“Take it easy,” Keith says. “Lower your fucking voice.” 

Jerry shrugs. “Whatever. I’m right, aren’t I?”

Richie’s inclined to say no. He didn’t have a good time, ergo the sex wasn’t good, but he doesn’t say that aloud. He’d barely stayed hard enough to fuck one of the girls and even then, he ended up fingering her until she came because he couldn’t get her off otherwise. The other girl got impatient and ended up leaving, Richie remembers with a hot flush of shame.

“One of the girls stole my wallet,” he says abruptly. The girl who left early did. She at least left his driver’s license behind but she stole all his cash and credit cards. 

“What?” Jerry screeches.

“Dude, fucking seriously?” Keith snaps. “Shut the fuck up, Jesus Christ.”

Jerry’s mouth snaps shut with a click

Richie snorts and, since the glass in his hand is finally empty, he picks up the new one Keith brought over. Three fingers of whiskey, neat. Richie takes a long sip before looking at Keith and saying, “Thanks man. Just for that, I’ve got next round.” 

Keith licks his lips after taking a long pull off his beer. Richie tracks the movement and doesn’t look away even as Keith speaks. “Nah, I’ll probably head home after this one. Unless you wanna get this fuckwad drunk, then be my guest.”

“Fat fucking pass,” Richie says. Delight sparks in his chest when Keith laughs, his whole face scrunching into amusement. 

“Fuck you guys,” Jerry says miserably. 

“You’d probably enjoy that,” Keith says with a lewd grin. 

“Fuck off!” Jerry snaps, slamming his drink on the tabletop. “I’m not some fucking fag.”

Keith rolls his eyes. He holds up a hand in surrender, but quickly shifts to flipping off Jerry instead. “Chill out, Jerry. We get it, you love women more than life itself, you sad horny bastard.” 

“You’re damn right.” Jerry pounds back the rest of his gin and pushes away from the table. “I’m getting another drink.” 

Keith watches him go with a laugh. “C’mon, let’s beat it before he gets back.”

Richie snorts. “Fuck yeah.” He swallows his whiskey in three mouthfuls and then watches Keith chug his beer, head tipped back and throat working. Richie’s cock twitches in his pants but he ignores it. 

Keith grins at him brightly once the bottle is empty, then gestures for Richie to follow. The cool evening air hits Richie like a punch to the gut and his stomach roils in protest for a second. They walk in silence for a while, hands shoved in their pockets and sneakers hitting the pavement quietly.

Then Keith says, “You think Jerry is queer?” and Richie forgets how to breathe.

“What?” Richie sputters out a laugh. “Jerry? Jerry fucking Parker? You’re shitting me, right?”

Keith shrugs. “He looks at you funny, sometimes.”

“I’m a funny fucking dude,” Richie snaps. 

“Not that funny,” Keith says with a grin. He thinks Richie is funny as fuck, Richie knows, but god forbid he ever admit it. “I dunno man, just watch yourself with him, yeah? You don’t need that shit.”

Richie swallows, mouth suddenly dry. “Yeah, totally. I still think you’re way off base, but. Uh. Thanks, I guess.”

Keith nods and Richie’s sure he’s never felt more terrified in his life, even if he can’t entirely place why. 


twenty-five

“Your material sucks,” Evan, his manager, says plainly one evening over greasy takeout and shitty beers. “It’s lame.”

Richie pauses with a bite of sesame chicken partway to his mouth. “What the fuck, Evan?” 

“I’m just being honest.”

“You’ve been my agent for a god damn year and now you’re gonna be honest? What the shit?” Richie practically throws his container of takeout onto his scuffed-up coffee table, nearly knocking their beers over in the process. “What do you mean it’s lame?” He stands up with a sudden burst of energy and runs his hands through his tangled hair. 

Evan sighs. He sets down his food and takes his glasses off his face, pinching the bridge of his nose as if Richie’s being unreasonable. He’s just barely breaking into the comedy scene and shitty material or not, he’s been getting laughs. He thought he was doing pretty well for himself, all things considered. Except, evidently not.

“Look, it’s fine, I guess. It’s not, like, bad.”

“Not bad? What the fuck.”

“It’s just...Okay, look, I’m just gonna say it, alright? You sound like a fucking pansy, Rich.”

Richie falls back onto the couch. His legs are shaking. “What are you, from the nineteen-fucking-fifties?” 

Evan gives him a cold look. “You talk about how you hate having a girlfriend too much.”

“Loads of comedians do that!”

“No, not like you. You do it...You’ve got this way of saying this shit that makes you sound super gay, man.” 

Richie blinks. “So what the fuck am I supposed to do? I can’t just pull a new routine out of my ass, asshole. You want me to take fucking acting classes or something? Newflash, already wasted three years of my life on that.”

“I think.” Evan starts, stops, takes a deep breath. “I wanna hire someone to write your material.” 

Richie opens his mouth to reply but finds he can’t think of anything to say. In the back of his mind, an unfamiliar voice says in disbelief, Trashmouth is speechless? The world must be ending. 

“I think it’s the only way to get you ahead,” Evan continues. “You’re good, Rich. You’ve got solid timing and the audiences love you. But your material is just…”

“Shit, yeah, I got that, Evan. Thanks.” Richie hands his head. You sound like a pansy echoes inside his head. “Fuck.”

“Sorry, Rich.”

“No, you’re fucking not.” Richie sits up and reaches a trembling hand for his beer. “Alright, so who the fuck do we hire?” 


twenty-eight

Richie’s drunk as fuck. Like, drunker than he’s been in at least six months. 

That’s mostly because he’s been in rehab for the last six months, and Evan is gonna be so pissed at him for breaking his sobriety, but Richie finally feels fucking good. He’s not some anxious wreck like he was when he stumbled into rehab, a line of paparazzi following him and snapping photographs like rabid dogs snapping their jaws at his heels. 

He’s free from rehab and he’s free from Evan—oh yeah, I fired him, oops—and he’s drunk as fuck in...where is he again?

He leans over to the person nearest him. “Where the fuck am I?” 

The person beside him whirls around and the first thing Richie notices is the glitter splashed along his cheekbones. “Honey,” the voice drawls, all sugary-sweet and deep, “You’re at Fruit Loop!”

Richie lets out a guffawing laugh. “What?”

The man turns and presses his body against Richie’s, one arm thrown around his shoulders. He leans up to whisper in Richie’s ear, and he can feel the half-chub the man is sporting. “Fruit Loop, baby. Dinky little gay bar just off the strip.”

Richie’s breathing catches in his chest. “Fuck,” he says. 

The man giggles. “You’ve got a filthy mouth,” he purrs, dragging a fingertip along Richie’s bottom lip. “C’mon.” Then he’s taking Richie by the hand and tugging him through the crowd.

The lights are flashing and Richie can’t see anything except for the tight t-shirt clinging to the man’s chest and the dangerously short, baby-blue shorts that hug his ass like a fucking glove.

By the time spots stop dancing in Richie’s eyes, the man is on his knees in front of Richie and they’re in a grimy bathroom. 

“Woah, hey,” Richie starts, but the man just winks at him, and Richie’s knees go weak. The man goes for his belt first and undoes it easily, then pops the button on Richie’s jeans and drags the zipper down with his teeth. “I’m not gay,” Richie manages to slur out. His hands are wrapped around the edge of the countertop behind him, because otherwise he’s pretty sure he’s going to drop to the ground. 

“That’s fine,” the man says. He’s nosing along Richie’s cotton briefs, lapping at his cock over the fabric. “I won’t tell.” Then he’s drawing Richie’s cock from the slit in his briefs and curling his first around the base. He opens his mouth wide, and Richie has the hysterical thought of this dude’s tongue is pierced before his cock is encased in wet heat. 

Richie throws his head back with a guttural groan and slams his eyes shut. With his eyes closed, the mouth on his dick could be anyone—dude, chick, doesn’t fucking matter. He tries to conjure up an image of one of his ex-girlfriends, but none of them stick. A face swims in his mind, with carefully coiffed brown hair and soft round cheeks, but it’s gone just as quick as it appeared. 

The man moans around his cock and fondles Richie’s sac; he slides a finger along the sensitive skin of Richie’s inner thigh and presses lightly against his hole and that’s it, Richie’s fucking done for. His hips buck and he can hear the faint sound of the guy gagging on his cock as Richie spills down his throat. 

Richie finally looks down again and watches come dribble from the corner of the man’s satisfied smile. “Uh,” Richie says. He looks down further to see a wet stain at the front of the man’s shorts. 

“Thanks,” the guy says as he stands. He pats Richie’s chest and licks his lips. “I’d kiss you, but I think you’d freak the fuck out.” He just winks, and leaves Richie standing in the bathroom with his cock hanging out of his jeans. 


thirty-one

“You know what I hate?” Richie asks, leaning on the mic stand and loosely cradling the mic in one hand. “I fucking hate going down on my girlfriend.” 

The audience erupts immediately: cheers, laughter, and boos. It’s about what he expected. It’s the same response he gets from the crowd every time, with this routine. 

“It makes me a fucking hypocrite, I know. I love getting head—who doesn’t, right? You’d have to be out of your mind not to love it!” Some cheers and applause propel him. “So yeah, I love getting head, but I can’t stand eating girls out.” 

“WHY!” Someone hollers from the crowd.

“Thanks for the segue, man. I paid him to do that,” Richie says with a wide grin. “Why do I hate it, great question. Really glad you guys paid sixty bucks a ticket for a Q-and-A.” 

His gaze drifts to the wings where his manager is motioning for him to get on with it. Richie swallows, holding the mic a little away from his face so no one can hear his nervous exhale. 

“It’s just the worst: makes my jaw hurt, tastes fucking weird, and it takes for-fucking-ever to make a girl come that way! What’s the fucking point?” The longer he speaks, the hollower Richie feels. His stomach is churning and he regrets downing that bourbon before he got on stage. His booze-heavy breath wafts back at him when he speaks. 

He’s never had his mouth on a woman longer than to try it before he recoiled hard enough he had fallen off the bed. Idly, he thinks that would make a better bit. It’d make him sound gay as fuck, but it’d get a laugh. More laughs than this, at least. Less boos, maybe. 

“Fuckin’ come on, Trashmouth!” 

Richie snaps back to reality abruptly and puts on his best grin. “Sorry, it’s like fuckin’ war flashbacks, you know? That shit really fucks you up!”

In the front row sits an older woman, face pinched and unhappy. Richie looks away and tries to revel in the cheers he does get—all male, all rambunctious, all the same. 


thirty-four

“The Vogelcheck bit is one of the best bits, though,” a writer is telling him. It’s Monday, Richie’s hungover and the coffee sucks. He’d rather be drinking, but his manager told him in no uncertain terms that he wouldn’t be drinking at 30 Rock unless he wanted a huge blemish on his career. 

“No,” he says. His mouth tastes like something died in it, even though he brushed his teeth at least four times this morning—one for each time he bent over the toilet. “I’m not doing that.”

“Who wouldn’t want to make out with Paul Rudd?” Colin says. Richie isn’t even sure how he remembers this dude’s name. He’s a nice guy, cool dude, but Richie’s never wanted to deck someone more in his life. There are titters of laughter flowing around the table and Richie resents each and every giggle.

“I said I’m not fucking doing it, alright?” Richie doesn’t slam his hand down on the table, but it’s close. The laughter stops regardless. 

“Alright,” Seth says slowly. “No Vogelcheck skit, that’s fine. We’ve got other options. Mikey, I think you had something you wanted to pitch?”

A gangly blond dude at the opposite end of the table clears his throat and nods. Richie doesn’t hear a single thing he says because there’s a buzzing in his ears like his head is full of bees. He nods at the end of the pitch and says, “Sure, let’s do that, sounds great.”

The rest of the meeting drags on, namely because Richie’s thinking very hard about not thinking about what it would be like to kiss Paul Rudd. 

He’s not as successful as he wants to be. 


thirty-seven

“Richie,” Natalie says from their bed.

“Huh?” Richie answers, mouth full of toothpaste and his toothbrush. 

Silence is his answer. He steps away from the sink and peers around the door frame to stare at his girlfriend. She’s on her stomach on their bed; the covers are pulled down to her waist, exposing the small of her back and when she shifts, Richie can see the side of her breast. She’s looking at their photos above the headboard. Under the sheets, she kicks her feet back and forth. 

“Nat, what is it?” 

She turns, her long black hair flowing over one shoulder, and looks at him. Her brown eyes are gentle and wide, her lips flushed pink from their earlier make out session. There’s a patch of beard burn on her jawline. She’s pretty, Richie thinks. Beautiful, even. She also doesn’t give him shit when he doesn’t finish. “Are you ever gonna ask me to marry you?” 

Richie nearly chokes on his toothbrush and then he nearly drops it. He spits toothpaste as he says, “What?!”

Natalie sits up a little more. She reaches over the side of the bed and grabs a shirt from the floor. It’s one of Richie’s, an old band t-shirt from some concert he went to before he ever met Natalie. Seeing her in it seems wrong, somehow, even though just a few hours ago it was kind of hot. 

“We’ve been together three and a half years, Richie.” Natalie plucks the hair tie from her wrist to pull her hair back. “I like you, a lot. I love you.”

“I love you too,” he replies, muffled and faint around his toothbrush. 

Natalie smiles at him. “So why don’t we get married?” She gets up off the bed. His shirt falls to her thighs and she looks like every man’s wet dream as she approaches him. 

Every man’s wet dream except Richie’s. 

“I told you,” he says, backing away from her, back into the bathroom. “I told you I’m not into marriage.” 

Natalie leans on the door frame as Richie spits and rinses his mouth out. “That was three years ago. I thought things would’ve changed since then.”

“I never change,” he replies hotly, abrupt and deeply annoyed. “I didn’t want to get married then, and I don’t want to get married now.” 

He finally looks at Natalie and isn’t surprised to see her plump bottom lip stuck out in a pout. It’s not some girlish, coy thing either. Her expression turns ugly and stormy, quick. Her eyes water and her lip trembles and her face scrunches up like a crumpled-up piece of paper. 

“Fuck you,” she says. She turns away and goes back to the bed, crawling under the covers and laying with her back to Richie when he finally works up the nerve to leave the bathroom. He stands a few feet from the bed and watches her breathe. He knows she won’t turn back to look at him again.

“I’ll pack my shit in the morning,” he says, before leaving the bedroom to sleep on the couch.


forty

Richie hasn’t let go of Eddie’s hand since he got out of surgery and the nurses started letting visitors in his room. So, by Richie’s count, it’s been verging on eight hours. Eddie hasn’t woken up yet, which is to be expected, but Richie still feels sick to his stomach. Memories are still flooding back to him, bit by bit, hour by hour. Some of them he hates, like the memories of his friends moving away, one by one until he himself finally moved away. Some he loves, like the ones of the clubhouse and the million moments they shared there. 

One memory in particular stands out. 

Eddie in the clubhouse, sharing the hammock with Richie like always. They’re young and stupid and Eddie’s laughing at something fucking lame. Richie faintly remembers feeling embarrassed, but he doesn’t recall if it was because Eddie was laughing at him, or because of the knowing look Beverly had given him.

A sob rises in Richie’s throat and he clutches at Eddie’s hand tighter. “Fuck, Eds,” he breathes, voice watery and uneven. “I’m so fucking gay, how could I forget that?” He laughs, a brief and hysteric thing, before another realization hits him. Tears prick at the corners of Richie’s eyes and he adds in a hush, “How could I forget I was in love with you?” 

“Same way I forgot, I guess,” Eddie says, rasping.

Richie looks up so quick his neck twinges painfully but he pays it no mind. “You’re awake.”

“Just in time, too,” Eddie says with a laugh that turns to a wince. He brings his free hand to clutch at his chest, which is wrapped in layers of bandages under his hospital gown. “I remembered when I thought I was fucking dying, and I was going to tell you, but I got scared.”

Richie’s thoughts have short-circuited. They’ve fucking disappeared into thin air. “You should take it easy,” Richie says faintly. “Don’t over exert yourself.”

“I’m not going to over exert myself by talking to you, dipshit.”

“You nearly lost a fucking lung.” 

Eddie relaxes into his pillows like he’s acquiescing to Richie’s frantic tone. “I’m saying I love you too.” 

“I know,” Richie says quietly. “And that scares the shit out of me.”

Eddie smiles sadly at him. Richie can’t stop looking at his face. There’s a shadow of a bruise on one cheek and a line of stitches along his temple but he looks as beautiful as ever. Richie’s always thought so. “What?” Eddie hedges. 

“We’ve got so much lost time to make up for,” Richie breathes. 

“Then you should fucking kiss me already.” 

Richie can’t move fast enough. He doesn’t let go of Eddie’s hand as he stands and leans over the railing of the bed. Despite Richie’s warning, Eddie still sits up straighter to meet him halfway. Richie makes a broken noise into the kiss and cups Eddie’s cheek with his other hand and drinks in the way Eddie shivers beneath him. 

The kiss is nothing like Richie’s first kiss, with Irene. It’s nothing like his kiss with that girl from the bar, or any of the ones that came after. This is electric and surprising. It’s just lips on lips but it feels like everything Richie’s ever wanted. Eddie’s mouth parts and Richie hesitates for only a second before deepening the kiss. The electricity amplifies and Richie can’t stop the moan that tumbles from his mouth into Eddie’s.

“Woah, Jesus Christ, didn’t need to see that!” Bill says loudly as he and the other Losers return to the hospital room, arms laden with vending machine snacks. 

“Grow up, Bill,” Eddie says, cheeks flushed a delightful pink. Richie leans in and presses a kiss to one burning cheek. “Ugh, c’mon, Richie.”

“Nope, we’ve missed too much, Eddie Spaghetti. I’m officially going to be the most insufferable boyfriend possible, starting as of two minutes ago, when we kissed.”

Beverly snickers as she walks around to the other side of Eddie’s bed, reclaiming her chair from earlier. “You two are so cute,” she says fondly. 

“You’re damn right we are,” Richie says proudly, chest puffed out. 

“This is gonna suck,” Mike says, smiling. 

“Funny,” Ben says with a smirk. “I was just thinking the same thing.” 

“I think we’re all focusing on the wrong thing here,” Eddie says. “Like, the fact I got stabbed through the chest and lived?” 

The rest of the Losers erupt into conversation, but Richie leans back. He doesn’t sit down again, and he doesn’t let go of Eddie’s hand, but he’s content to watch as Bill, Ben, and Mike all crowd around the bed too, to talk to Eddie. 

Richie smiles to himself and thinks, I’m really fucking queer