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What Happens in Derry...

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“Lighten up, Eds. We’re getting outta here real fucking soon,” Richie prodded, shoving his glasses further up the bridge of his nose.

He sniffled a little, hopping out of his Mustang and up on the sidewalk. They’d arrived at the Derry Inn first out of the group, got the fuck out of dodge before some other monstrosity popped out of a vodka bottle or something at the Jade of the Orient.

His heart was still knocking against his chest, and he was, understandably, on edge, but tried to downplay it. Eyeballs, bats, mutated insects—the damn menu should’ve just spelled it all out, given some type of warning. How was he supposed to ever eat takeout again? And fuck fortune cookies. He’d never been a fan of their cheesy little messages, never got a kick out of them except the odd one that said something stupid like ‘I’m trapped in a fortune cookie!’ but now would avidly and enthusiastically avoid them.

He would’ve gladly avoided them tonight, gone out for burgers and fries and hoped his strawberry milkshake didn’t turn into blood, but something told him there was no avoiding it, or anything that was going on. The thought of it all was enough to make him want to hurl again, but it could wait. Specifically, it could wait until he grabbed his shit and floored the gas pedal of the car all the way outside of Derry city limits, and could breathe again.

Richie wasn’t exactly in the best mood as he stumbled over the raised oak doorstep of the old Inn. He was freaked the fuck out, to be honest. But something about the way Eddie’s shoulders were all tight and his lips formed that telltale slit of fear where he couldn’t quite get his mouth closed because he was breathing too harshly trampled over Richie’s own fear, like it always did, even back then.

He didn’t remember everything, but he remembered enough. Little moments, strong feelings, fleeting glimpses that sometimes bled over his vision now and made him want to rub them away. But what did he really want to rub away: the past or the present? Wasn’t being all together again, wasn’t this dinner, pre-The Horror Show, the happiest few hours he’d had in 27 years? The thought was bizarre in itself. People who he’d barely begun to remember a few hours ago after a sudden phone call became his world again, shifted something in him that was locked away and dusty for two, almost three, decades. There was an absurdity to it, to all of it, that made him giddy and want to laugh, like so many times down at the Barrens when he got off a good joke, and got the whole gang going, until they were all laughing so hard they couldn’t breathe, until they were happy, like they were tonight.

Not all of the night was happy, of course. There was that underlying fear, intense and suffocating, without reason, until Mike spilled his secret. They had all felt it, maybe before they even arrived in Derry. It only intensified around the dinner table. It was like a ghost, crouched and watching with bright eyes in the corner of the room, or more like a demon, and it sure jumped out of those cookies.

His parents always said demons smelled like Sulfur, but Richie didn’t smell any Sulfur at the restaurant. Hell, he’d never smelled Sulfur in his entire life. Salty water from the Canal, blood, piss and shit, and vomit and dirt, and the plain old smell of eroded rock; he’d smelled those though, more than he ever liked to.

There was something else, something intangible, that drifted through the room whenever he was getting the shit scared out of him too. He smelled it tonight, could almost taste it.

The thought made his skin crawl, and he walked a little faster, trying to catch up to Eddie, who was all but running up the stairs.

God, he couldn’t believe that Mike had reeled them all in with it. No cute little reunion, no fun get together. Instead, he devised this absurd plot, called on a promise that they made when they were younger and stronger and braver. Mike drew them in, and pulled a fast one, and it would’ve gotten some good chucks, if it wasn’t so damn scary, and if Mike hadn’t put them in danger with it. With It.

It.

It. Richie couldn’t believe that he’d ever forgotten. It: the thing that appeared that summer of '89, that made his blood freeze and heart stop, that put his hair on end and made bile rise in his throat even now. The thing that made no sense at all yet somehow made all the sense in the world, real and intangible and absurd all at the same time. It was absurd. It was still absurd. It was maybe the thing that brought them all together, that brought some of them even closer than before, and had changed them forever. They didn’t know until now, until they were back in a small town where violence and murder were commonplace and people didn’t so much as bat an eye, where hatred ran rampant, like a disease, tinged with That Smell That Had No Name, that made you look over your shoulder and question every little second of your life.

Richie wondered how his life would have been different, if things were normal back then, if the summer passed without incident, with just lazy days at the Barrens. Would the seven of them(Mike, Beverly, Ben in particular, as they were newcomers to Richie’s small group) still find each other? Or was It truly the thing that brought them together, herded them like sheep into the corner of a corral? But they weren’t sheep. Sheep didn’t fight back. Sheep didn’t, couldn’t, make themselves big and defeat The Wolf; They had defeated it. At least, for a while.

But that was so long ago. Richie felt like a sheep now. Wasn’t once around the block enough? It wasn’t fair, to expect them to do it all again. Why the hell should they? Why shouldn’t it be left to some other kids? Deep down though, he knew, that it would have to be them, or nobody else, and that wasn’t a comforting thought.

Eddie shared similar apprehension. The moment the screen of his Cadillac flashed the Maine area code, something locked up in his chest, and didn’t break free until he stood in a surprisingly up-scale Chinese restaurant, surrounded by people who he hadn’t seen for pretty much half of his life. It was comforting in a weird way, and the dread took a backseat for a while. The weight was still there, pushed back by his friends’ presence, but it slowly and surely bubbled back up as the night progressed, and Mike finally told them the truth, until it made his lungs burn and hands shake, until it left him screaming like a kid again, fumbling around in the face of monstrosity, of ridiculousness.

He could still see it—blood and eyes and bats and…hell, he couldn’t even form a coherent list of all the messed up shit that he saw tonight. It was enough though. He’d had enough, had enough back then, but sure as hell really had enough now, and wasn’t going to do all of this again. How could he? It was too much, too crazy and wild and risky and ridiculous. A day ago he had been fine, not particularly happy, but safe and normal and comfortable, with his medication schedule keeping him on track, with Myra, suffocating but comforting, setting clear cut rules.

Rules were out of the window now—that much was clear. It didn’t care about rules. It didn’t play fair. It didn’t give two shits that Eddie felt like he couldn’t breathe, that even now some part of him inside convulsed and recoiled at even seeing an inch of this stupid town for another minute. It didn’t care about anything but ruining their lives, taking their lives, and was probably severely pissed off that it hadn’t done it back then.

It was off to a pretty good start now. Stanley was dead—how long until the rest of them were too? Eddie didn’t bother sticking around to find out. How the fuck was he supposed to? He was a risk analyst—he knew the odds of even trying to deal with this shit were astronomical, that statistically, they were, well, fucked. Every instinct in him was screaming to get away, to go home and curl up and never ever come back to Derry, but there was a little voice in his head that told him it wouldn’t matter, that once he left the city limits he’d turn right back around, whether he wanted to or not, and end up right back here. Something told him they were all in this together, and that it wasn’t a coincidence, and this promise, this oath, was glued together with something more than their bloody palms.

It made him shudder. He loved his friends. He did. Even in these last few hours, he remembered that much. He knew how he felt about them, the very specific tingles of affection that would surge through his heart around each one. He knew the way he felt, and that was just as terrifying as everything else. He wasn’t strong enough to deal with this. How could he live with himself if he disappointed them? He wasn’t brave, not anymore. The Eddie Kaspbrak who threw his pills across the lawn of Neibolt died shortly after. He didn’t know if he could resurrect him. That shame was just as terrifying as anything It created. Eddie knew he was a coward, knew he was a hypochondriac, knew he was overly anxious. He knew all of that but couldn’t control it, and that was scary.

But they were all afraid; They were all running away, and if that was the plan, Eddie would run as far as possible.

He was running now, up the polished and carpeted stairs of the Derry Inn, up to his room to grab his things. The pattern on the carpet made him a little sick—he could swear there were little balloons one moment, and arbitrary Fleur De Lises next, maroon enough to remind him of dried blood. Blood: like the blood that dripped down the walls and ceiling and every available surface in Beverley’s bathroom, that they spent over an hour cleaning up. Eddie hated blood, saw enough to last a lifetime. Somehow he doubted he’d seen the last of it. He preferred blood to vomit though. There’d been enough of that too.

Time to take your pills, Eddie,”

“How about a blowjob, Eddie?”

Viscous, black and brown vomit that smelled like mealworms and shit and disease: He had been covered in it, by that goddamn Leper, who’d chased him around and tormented him, on Neibolt Street and down in the Sewers. No matter how many times he bathed, how long he scrubbed his skin, he could still feel it. Even in the last 27 years, he felt the need to scrub away something that wasn’t there, something heavy and oppressive and dirty.

He could feel the phantom trickle of it now, down his brow, and it made him let out a sharp gasp. Eddie stumbled on a step, and would’ve bashed his face, if it weren’t for the hand that locked around his elbow and drew him back.

“Careful!” the voice called, though it wasn’t some horrible aberration calling from his dreams, wasn’t the Leper or the Clown or anything else. It was Richie, just Richie, and Eddie was thankful for it. He almost fell backwards, but braced a hand on the wall, brushed a shaky hand over his eyes.

“You alright, buddy?” Richie asked, heart beating just as quick as Eddie’s.

The brunet let out a strangled laugh. “Am I alright, man? Fuck no! I mean—t-t-the fucking dinner, and Stanley, and all of this—and It! The motherfucking clown! How am I supposed to be okay?” He slumped against the wall, searching the other’s eyes for an answer. Richie always had an answer back then. Most of the time it was a really stupid answer, some vulgar little joke that normally involved his mother, but he had answers, and that was what mattered. He could make Eddie laugh, even when he drove him nuts, and could make things okay. Richie made him braver, and he needed that bravery now.

“Dude, same here! I mean, this shit’s nuts! Derry was always fucked up, but this is really fucked up. Everything’s just insane! And the fact that we couldn’t remember anything? How is that even possible?” Richie shook his head in disbelief, stood taller with subtle panic. The memory thing was troubling to him. So many memories, pouring in at odd intervals, were overwhelming. Looking into Eddie’s eyes right now just summoned another—the fucked up photo projector in Bill’s garage.

That was the first time he’d seen It. He remembered his heart jumping into his throat, utter panic ripping through him and pulling him out of his seat as if yanked by the scruff of his neck. He could hear everyone else’s screams mixing with his own, felt his hair stand on edge and adrenaline pump through his system so fast he thought he would die, and most of all, he remembered pulling Eddie close and holding on for dear life.

His hand was still on Eddie’s elbow now, and he was reluctant to pull back. Eddie’s touch always made him feel better, put him at ease even down in the Sewers or in front of Bowers and his goons, and it took him so long to know why, but Richie knew well enough, in the end. The question was, did Eddie? And did it matter now? All of that was so long ago, despite it all feeling like yesterday, like the last 27 years were some really long dream, or like he time travelled. Sure, they were older, and Eddie had a few wrinkles around his eyes, and his baby fat was gone and instead his jaw was sort of chiseled, but he was still Eddie, and that made Richie’s palms sweaty.

Eddie didn’t notice though. He was too preoccupied with their conversation, with his own fear. Richie’s reply brought up a good point. The memory fog was insane, and honestly horrifying. How could Eddie have forgotten so much? How could he ever forget the people who made his every day, who he adored? How did he ever forget Richie, the blue of his eyes, and that dopey smile and ridiculous laugh? He looked a little different, older naturally, but he was still fundamentally Richie, and Richie….well. He made Eddie feel some type of way.

Eddie’s elbow twitched painfully now, and that pain ran down the length of his arm to his fingertips. He lost himself in the past for a moment. Eddie remembered sitting at the kitchen table, the muffled sounds of his mother’s favorite TV station drifting in from down the hall. He remembered donning a sharpie, bright red, and marking a great big ‘V’ on his arm cast.

V for Lover. Eddie wasn’t sure what made him do that. He could’ve just as easily crossed out ‘Loser’ entirely, could’ve filled it in with black and pretended it was never there, but instead, he chose ‘Lover.’ He chose it because of how he felt, how his friends made him feel. He chose it because of how Richie made him feel, whether he liked it or not.

He pulled back suddenly, the memory all too vivid. “Rich, I can’t do this shit,” Eddie said, letting out a stuttering breath. “I wanna get the fuck out of here.”

Tozier steeled himself, wiped his sweaty palms on his jeans. “Same hat, Kaspbrak.”

 They moved up the stairs.

“Don’t take too long,” Richie announced, tugging his room key out of his pocket. His room was across the hall from Eddie’s. He didn’t know who picked what room before arriving, but he wasn’t surprised his and Eddie’s rooms were near each other. It seemed they were always near each other, back then. He wondered, sometimes, about the two of them.

He wondered if Eddie ever felt the way he did, if they gravitated towards each other for a reason. As Richie shoved the few clothes he’d taken out of his bag earlier back in to it, he thought about it, and all of them. Because the truth was, he didn’t want to leave.

Of fucking course he wanted to leave Derry, and this whole fucked-up clown thing behind, but he didn’t want to leave them, the Losers. A few hours wasn’t long enough to catch up, wasn’t long enough to make up for the two decades of loneliness.

Sure, Richie had friends. He had some fans too, like that damn kid at the restaurant (who was way too young to be watching his show in the first place) but he never quite made connections so strong again. If he were honest with himself, a big piece of him felt like it was missing the last 27 years, and when they were all together again, he found it. It would be hard to leave that behind, even to save his own ass.

“You’re a fuckin’ coward,” he sighed to himself, zipping up his bag. Being a coward sucked, yes, but it beat being a brave dead person, right? But even as he grabbed his shit, he felt the shame weighing down on him. Could he really leave them all behind? Could he go back to his life and pretend none of this ever happened?

When Richie stumbled back into the hall, he could see Eddie’s door was propped open by the little trashcan that stood in each room. Even from here, Richie could see him flitting around the room, stuffing items into his suitcase. He took in the absurdity of the scene—did Eddie seriously bring two suitcases? He looked like he packed for two fucking months instead of a few days. And was that—? That was a third bag. Yowza. But as Richie looked on, a genuine laugh bubbled up out of his chest, and something warm rushed over him.

“You pack your whole house, Spaghetti Man?” he asked, walking into Eddie’s room, slapping the doorframe as he passed it.

“Real funny, jackass,” the brunet replied, hastily zipping up one of the bags. “I just—I’ve just got a lot of stuff, that is imperative to have if I’m travelling—and did you know that statistically about 2 million bags of luggage are lost each year? Each fucking year! And-and-and yeah my bags got here alright, but if they got lost I’d be totally fucked, so I just went ahead and packed extra because I have a fuckin’ brain, and know how to use it and think ahead, which most dipshits don’t.”

He turned briefly, paused for a moment to catch his breath, and added on, almost an afterthought: “And don’t call me that.”

Richie shrugged, feeling a grin worm its way onto his face. “I packed like, a fuckin’ gym bag and shoved an extra pair of socks in my jacket pocket. And come on Eddie Spaghetti, you know you love the name. Drink it in, ‘cuz this might be the last time you get to hear it.”

That came out wrong, though. He didn’t like the implications, and neither did Eddie. Eddie’s shoulders tightened, and he paused midway between stowing a zip-lock bag in his carry-on. “Beep Beep, Richie,” he said softly.

Trashmouth Tozier wanted to swallow his foot. The last thing he wanted to think about now was never seeing Eddie again. But they had different lives, all of the Losers did, and somewhere along the way there wasn’t room for each other anymore. But It was to blame for that—It had done something to them, fucked them up beyond belief. There was nothing natural about forgetting almost a whole fucking year, and people who occupied most of your thoughts. Richie just wasn’t sure where to go from here. He was running for his life, but would it really be worth running for when he was leaving so much of it behind?

The silence stretched by the seconds, and more and more unpleasant thoughts grew between them. Eddie continued packing, making off-hand little comments to himself, muttered under his breath.

Richie didn’t want to leave things like that. In fact, he wanted the opposite. He wanted more hours, more days, more years, with Eddie, and with the others, and he knew that no matter how many fancy things he bought or how many shows he sold out, he wouldn’t find happiness without this. Suddenly, the desire to let it all out, everything on his mind and in his heart, grew unbearable, and hell, with potential death on the horizon, maybe it was his last chance.

Before Richie knew it, he was talking again.

“I don’t wanna never see you again, Eds. I-I…I mean, fuck. You know what? I’m a fucking adult, we’re adults and I’m just—I’m gonna go ahead and—“

The words caught in his throat. Suddenly, the room felt a hundred degrees warmer, and he felt a familiar pang of fear rush through his heart. This wasn’t a life-threatening fear, it was something different entirely, but Richie was sure he’d rather shit his pants with a jump-scare than feel whatever the fuck he was feeling right now. He felt 12 years old again, scrawny and too thin and awkward looking. He might have imagined it, but the frames of his too-big glasses slipped down his nose.

Eddie was looking at him expectantly though, brows tugged down and forehead creasing. He tugged on the hem of his shirt anxiously, familiar apprehension in those brown eyes. Maybe he knew already, what Richie was trying to say. Maybe he was just as scared. Maybe the revelation would ruin his fucking life, or Richie’s, or both of theirs, but it had to happen nonetheless, just like all of it had to happen, whether he ran from it or not.

“I’m just gonna…I’m gonna…” ‘Come on, Tozier!’

Why was it so fucking hard to just come out and say it? He knew why though. He could still hear them—Bowers and his gang, so many, many times, shouting at them, at him, insulting him, making insinuations that would get him beat half to death, would get him chased out of town, would maybe get him kicked out of his own family, and that were absolutely true. Sure, Rich liked girls well enough, dated a few and fucked some others, but he didn’t just like girls, and that was the fucking problem, had always been the problem.

The other Losers weren’t even really sure, or at least, he’d never told them. Maybe some of them figured it out along the way. Beverly, maybe. She was good at seeing the shit people tried to hide. But she never asked about it, and Richie never told. He knew his friends would never turn him away, and if he had the brain to look a little closer, might’ve found some similar situations, but it was still scary. He was afraid that things would be different, that he would be different, if he admitted it.

Things weren’t the same nowadays, were at least a little better, but he’d never…He never told anyone, never acted on it. It didn’t matter too much the last few years, because he didn’t see anyone he was interested in, guy or girl, but especially not guy, and well, maybe it was because of this? Maybe it was just Eddie that he loved, that he was attracted to. It didn’t make sense, and was silly and stupid and overwhelming and shouldn’t have been possible because Eddie was gone so long, didn’t even technically exist again until tonight, but holy shit did Richie want. He wanted so bad that it made his knees shake a little, and his fingers opened and closed in a fist as he tried to get the words out.

‘Come on, just say it! Just open your big stupid mouth!’

Richie felt like he was going to throw up, like his insides were all rattled around and liquefied. He squeezed his eyes shut, swallowed down the lump that had grown in his throat. He let his mouth do the work, hoping it wouldn’t steer him wrong, but like too many times before, it did.

“I’m just…I’m gonna….fuck your mom.”

The silence made his skin crawl. That wasn’t what he wanted to say at all. God, he was a moron. He burned with the shame for a moment, with self hatred. The one time it actually counted, he had flaked! He felt mortified, like the biggest dumbass in the world. He could brush it off, pretend that it was just some stupid joke and not a monumental mistake, but he didn’t want that. He wanted Eddie to know, to understand. He wanted to free himself from this suffocating burden, no matter what it fucking took.

As Richie mentally strangled himself, Eddie huffed out an indignant sigh, and his shoulders dropped tension he didn’t even know he was holding. His lips twisted in irritation. “For fuck’s sake,” he complained, gesturing tiredly with his hands.

If Richie’s brain wasn’t fried, he would’ve seen the disappointment, barely there, that radiated off of Eddie in waves.

A desperate chuckle escaped Richie’s lips, and his face burned. He knew his window was closing, for better or for worse. He wasn’t going to let it go, couldn’t live with himself if he didn’t just man up and say it.

‘Come on, try again,’ he thought, and try again he did.

“That’s—That’s not what I wanted to say. Hah.” He paused. “What I really wanted to say was, ‘I love you.’” A weight lifted off of him, and a surge of excitement ran through him. He’d done it. For better or worse, he came out with it.

Richie found himself nodding as he spoke, as if agreeing with himself, or maybe praising himself. He wasn’t sure. “I mean, like seriously. I uh, I did when we were kids, and I still do. Like you. Love you.”  

Silence bloomed for two seconds that felt two seconds too long.

Eddie’s mouth opened, like he was getting ready to say something, but then it shut. It opened again, and a little breathy laugh escaped, and his eyes flitted around the room. “I—Y-you’re not shitting me, right? This isn’t a fucking joke? This better not be a goddamn joke dickwad because I-I-I swear to god I’ll beat your ass and—“

“No, no! It’s not a joke. I’m completely fucking serious.”

Eddie stared at him, and Richie watched his eyes get wider and wider. He looked like a deer in headlights, the way he did any time someone else had the upper hand, any time someone said something he didn’t quite understand or know if he should believe or not. His mouth gaped ever so slightly, and the silly bastard in Richie bit back a comment about catching flies. He was too scared shitless to make any kind of joke, or say anything at all right now.

Eddie let out an anxious laugh. “Not a joke. Not a joke? You’re not Getting Off A Good One? You’re like, 100% serious?” he asked, frozen on the spot.

Richie could hear his heartbeat rattle around in his ears. “Uh, yeah. Yeah, I am. Is that… I mean, is that-are you—are you cool with that?”

“Am I cool with that?” Eddie repeated, face heating up a little. “Fuck. Y-yeah. Yeah, I am. I mean—I don’t really—I don’t know if, I mean, what…” Eddie was married, after all. His marriage was… Well, if he were honest with himself, it was fucking awful.

Sure he loved Myra, he supposed, but what he really loved (or felt attached to at least) was what she represented. Eddie didn’t know what it was in particular, until he was standing here now, feeling like a kid again, his heart beating a mile per minute. So much came back to him, so many hours and emotions and time spent feeling afraid. He finally understood it all, understood the oppressive drain that draped over his shoulders the last 7 or so years, and long before that.

The truth was: Myra reminded him of his mother, of that suffocating, smothering safety that was built on lies, that Eddie was too young to see until it was too late. Most of Eddie’s life was built on lies, he realized now. He had lied to himself back then, so many times that it almost became second nature.

‘Everything is dangerous.’

‘I need my inhaler.’

I’m sick.’

‘Mommy is always right.’

‘I like girls.’

‘I’m not in love with Richie.’

He was still lying to himself now, in a marriage that lacked all forms of intimacy from its conception, parked behind his desk as a risk analyst when he woefully ignored his own advice in years’ past, taking pills and liquids and lotions and creams for illnesses that he didn’t have, that he knew were fake, knew were placebos–

‘They’re gazebos!’

–because there was nothing wrong with him except his fucked up brain, and he was always too ashamed to admit it, too scared. Maybe Eddie was sick of feeling scared now. Maybe he had enough. Maybe he wanted to just be who he was, to drop all the lies and self-inflicted delusions. Maybe it was time to face the truth: His mother had fucked him up beyond belief, and that wasn’t his fault, and no matter how much he tried, he couldn’t ever, ever, be something he wasn’t.

The wedding ring on his finger suddenly felt like it weighed a thousand pounds. It felt foreign, wrong, like it didn’t belong to him in the first place. He was almost 40 years old, but in that moment, realized the last 27 years were wasted. He suddenly envisioned a very different life, a different Eddie Kaspbrak. He envisioned an Eddie Kaspbrak who never picked the pills up again, who stood up to his mother for good, who took risks and believed in himself, who admitted what he was, what he liked, and took the leap to act on it instead of pretend like it wasn’t the truth.

Because the truth was, Eddie didn’t like girls. He thought they were pretty, the way a famous painting is pretty, or the way his car is pretty, but he never felt anything for them. He didn’t even feel something for Myra. He married her because he felt like he had no choice, like he needed it, a marriage, to be normal. He needed it to dot the I’s and cross the T’s that everyone was expecting of him. Sometimes he fooled himself into believing that he was happy, but comparing all that time to the short few hours back in Derry with the Losers, he knew he wasn’t. And now he was standing here, and Richie had confessed something, that was always between them, but that scared Eddie shitless back then, something he never gave voice to. But Richie was right—they were adults now, and adults should be able to handle shit like this.

“Are…are you…” Richie’s voice cut through his thoughts, soft and nervous like he hardly ever got.

Eddie shook away his memories, inhaled sharply to steel himself. He stood a little taller, felt determination seep into his bones. His voice was still softer than he wanted it to be, but it wasn’t a whisper. “You know what? I—I love you too,” he replied. He half expected his lungs to lock up, to fall into another asthma fit, but it never came. Instead he felt sort of giddy, a little lightheaded with pride. He said it. He fucking finally said it.

Richie’s eyes widened with satisfaction, and he laughed a little in relief. “You mean it? You really mean it?” he asked, taking a step forward. He pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose.

Eddie moved closer, the same enthusiasm taking over. “Yeah, yeah I do! I always did. I-I was too scared to say something. I thought you’d make fun of me.”

“I thought you’d make fun of me! Or that you’d tell me to fuck off or something, or call me a—“

“Shut up, Tozier. Don’t even— Leave that kind of talk to Bowers and his gang. I thought you were the greatest thing since sliced bread, even though you were so fucking annoying. I liked that. I liked your big mouth, and—and I never said anything, because it scared me.”

Richie’s hands found their way to Eddie’s shoulders, and he stood uncharacteristically quietly, willed the other to speak his mind. This was all still incredible—it would take a while to absorb.

Eddie locked eyes with him for a second, and then looked down. “My mom—I think she knew, like pretty early on, that I didn’t…that I don’t…that I don’t like girls. She never said it out loud, but I could tell. She thought of it like another sickness, that it was wrong, that I was wrong, and…and it terrified me. So I never let on, hell, I didn’t even believe myself, always wrote off what I was feeling as something small, insignificant. But now, I…”

“But now, fuck it,” Richie finished for him, and the soft smile Eddie gave him earned one in return. “It uh, it was kinda the same for me. I mean, I got it easier though. I do like girls, I just—I like guys too.” He paused, thinking back over the years. “I mean, you know how my folks were all religious—my dad would’ve killed me if he found out. Well—not actually kill me but you—anyway, I just…I thought there was something wrong with me too, and with the way people talked about it all and hated it I was just scared shitless. I mean, I was already a Loser. Could you imagine what would’ve happened if either of us…? Like, fuck,” he sighed, shaking his head. “But fuck that. Things are different now. We’re different.”

Eddie’s eyes softened, and he looked at Richie with adoration. “No we’re not,” he replied.

A grin spread over Richie’s lips, and warmth spread through him. “You’re right, we’re not,” he agreed.

“Your glasses are still too fucking big.”

“And you still look like you didn’t grow past the third grade.”

“Fuck you,” the brunet said, but he laughed.

“Fuck you? I could, but then your mom’d get jealous,” Richie retorted, brushing a hand through his black hair. That earned him a shove, and he couldn’t help but let out a laugh. There was a pause, and he felt his face get warm all over again. His brows tugged down, suddenly serious.

“Can I kiss you?”

Eddie paused halfway through another playful swing. He flushed suddenly, so brilliantly that it was almost comical, and his arm dropped. “I…uh…I—“ The truth was, he wanted it. He wanted it just as much as back then, maybe even more. He realized suddenly that he’d never properly had a first kiss, and that made it even scarier. He subconsciously twisted the ring on his finger. Would it be fair, to do this? He was married, after all, even if he didn’t like it.

“I’m married,” he told himself chastisingly, though he said it out loud.

Richie tried not to be disappointed, but there was clear pain in his blue eyes. “Oh. Right,” he offered, despondent. His shoulders dropped, and Eddie wanted to shoot himself in the foot.

“N-no, wait. I just… I do wanna. I just feel bad,” he clarified, hoping it would be enough.

“Are you happy, Eds? With your marriage. ‘Cuz if you are, just tell me now, and I’ll fuck right off. But if you’re not…”

Eddie looked up at him for a moment, brown eyes searching his face. Richie was right to ask that. It was just the right question that would give him a push, and Eddie wondered how he knew to ask it. Because no, Eddie wasn’t happy, and didn’t he deserve to be? Didn’t he deserve to feel warm and at ease, to be loved, truly loved? It was just a kiss anyway. It was just a kiss.  It wasn’t… and he was leaving Derry anyway, right? Maybe this was just something he had to do, and he’d be able to move on. Or maybe…maybe they would leave together? For a second he saw it—he could envision them leaving together, getting all caught up, building something new and happy together. For a moment, the future felt full of possibility, like it did back then, when he was riding his bike down Kansas Street, too caught up in the euphoria of being with his friends, with Richie, to even remember his asthma. He remembered feeling strong, feeling free, and he hadn’t felt that way for 27 years. And that? Well, it just wasn’t fucking fair.

“I’m not happy. I’m fucking miserable. Kiss me, Rich,” he said with conviction. Everything be damned—he was going to take this leap, was going to dive in head first, and hope for the best.

Richie almost jumped at the request. This was real—this was really happening. Eddie asked him for a kiss, literally, which was a lot weirder and less romantic than he thought it would be, even though he was the one who asked for it in the first place. Suddenly he felt self conscious. He had enough practice kissing over the years, but all of that knowledge sort of left him, and he worried that it would be weird, that it wouldn’t be good enough, that Eddie would change his mind and want nothing to do with him. He worried that this would be a shitty ending to a shitty reunion trip, and that he’d walk out of here and never feel right again. But what the hell? He came this far, and he wasn’t gonna pass up this opportunity now.

Richie took a breath, slapped his hands around Eddie’s cheeks (a little too quick—the contact was audible and Eddie flinched a little) and before he knew it, he pressed their lips together.

His eyes were closed and he hesitated for a moment, but realized he had nothing left to be afraid of, and suddenly Eddie’s hands were fisted in his shirt, and he was kissing him back, and fuck, it made Richie’s knees weak. It wasn’t that great of a kiss, kind of awkward and sloppy, but it was the best he’d ever had. Eddie must’ve gone up on his tiptoes, and his hands found purchase on Richie’s sides, and they kissed a few seconds more, Eddie feeling much too self aware but too happy to care, determined to make it last, to prove something to himself that he couldn’t even put into words.

They split, and his breath stuttered, and his cheeks were sort of pink, and all of a sudden, he laughed. He laughed shortly, loudly, a sort of maniacal peal, that was so stupid and so Eddie that Richie couldn’t help but chuckle in return.

“Holy shit,” Eddie said when the laughter died down, grinning.

“No, that’s not a ‘holy shit,’ that’s a ‘Yowza!’ A big fat fucking Yowza!” Richie joked, almost shouting. He wanted to shout. Hell, he’d never felt so excited and happy in his whole life. He couldn’t believe that this was real, that he’d finally done it. He finally got himself a K from Eddie K.

Eddie shushed him, jabbed him in the ribs. “Beep beep, Richie,” he said, and he pulled Richie down for another kiss.

This one was better, more controlled, and sweeter. Eddie approached it with focus, like he was filling out paperwork, but soon enough, he could trust his instincts, and the touch of Richie’s lips against his own left him warm and tingly, breathless in a way that had nothing to do with asthma. Richie’s lips were chapped, like they always were, even back then, but Eddie didn’t mind. It just made it Richie. Long fingers settled in Eddie’s hair, and the frames of Richie’s glasses pushed a little onto his cheek, but it was fine, it was perfect, and he let out a little noise to indicate that, gripped the little flaps of Richie’s shirt collar like a lifeline.

Sooner or later though, he pulled back, feeling lightheaded and stunned, but Richie was in worse shape. His blue eyes were hazy, face sort of red, and he muttered out a heartfelt “Yowza,” because he couldn’t find better words. It made Eddie’s heartbeat quicken all over again, and there was a moment of silence, and the next thing he knew, Richie was kicking away the trashcan from the door to shut it, and walking him backwards until they hit a wall.

There was another kiss, sloppy and more heated, with Eddie’s back against the wall, and Richie crowding around him, obviously excited, his enthusiastic hands running down Kaspbrak’s shoulders. Eddie could admit that there was something… super suggestive about their position, and for a second, his mind ran wild, thought about all the little things he’d been careful to avoid in his youth, about the videos he watched once or twice in a blue moon when curiosity hit him and he was home alone, afraid to get caught by Myra, like some dirty little secret. He thought about all the wasted time, all the firsts he never got to have, never got to try, because he didn’t let himself, because he believed they were wrong. Well, the way the blood was starting to rush south with Richie’s crotch pressed against him was telling enough, and for once, Eddie wouldn’t hold himself back. 

They switched positions, so Richie was up against the wall, and he grinned in satisfaction against Eddie’s lips. Eddie got hard quicker than he liked to admit, but they were in the same boat. Somewhere along the way the kissing became touching, and grinding, and the next thing Eddie knew, he was unbuttoning Richie’s jeans, fumbling with the zipper.

It was stuck, and Eddie was getting frustrated, his nerve slowly disappearing. Richie reached down to do the work, but Eddie pulled up at the same moment and their heads smacked together painfully.

“Ow! Fuck!” Eddie groaned, rubbing his forehead.

Richie laughed, and leaned down to press a kiss to his hair. “Sorry,” he said, and adjusted his jostled glasses.

“You’re such a dumbass,” Eddie replied, though Richie knew he didn’t mean it.

Finally Richie’s pants were unbuttoned, and Eddie unbuttoned his own, but when Richie’s trembling fingers settled on his arms, he felt nervous all over again, so nervous that he was afraid he was gonna get sick. The bulge in Richie’s boxers was unmistakable, tenting the fabric and even donning a wet spot. It was, for lack of a better word, hot, and made Eddie’s own cock twitch, which was sort of embarrassing, and he had to remind himself that it was okay, that everything was okay.

He could feel Richie’s eyes on him, focused and intense and maybe just as nervous. Eddie took a breath, and reached out, letting his fingertips brush over the tip. They barely made contact before fear bubbled up in him, and he snatched his hand back.

“Y-y-you’re clean right? You don’t have any sort of disease? Because I swear to god Rich if I catch a-a-any kind of—“

Richie let out an exasperated sigh, though it might have been in relief too. The air was too thick in the room; all of this was super heavy and terrifying and way too serious. He felt like a virgin all over again, in the backseat of his car with a girl two years older than him, fumbling around in the dark and doing his best to keep up. But this was Eddie, and maybe that’s why it was so scary, because this was important, this was different than any of the one night stands or short relationships Richie had been in over the years. Eddie’s question was a welcome interruption.

“Yeah, Eds, I’m clean,” Richie sighed out, amused with the way his shoulders dropped in relief. Kaspbrak reached out again, regaining a little confidence, moving with more conviction, and Richie, ever the comedian, couldn’t help but add on, “Y’know, except for the Syphilis.”

Eddie couldn’t have looked more mortified. “Richie!”

“I’m kidding, I’m kidding! I’m fine, I promise.”

“I don’t even know why I like you,” came the sigh in reply.

“’Cuz I’m the best comedian to ever come out of Maine, and I have pretty eyes,” Richie replied, grinning down at Eddie.

“Keep telling yourself that,” Eddie grumbled, though he stood on his toes, and placed a kiss on Richie’s cheek. It was chaste, almost too innocent, considering their position, but it was sweet, and just the thing they needed to feel comfortable again.

Richie initiated this time. He figured he should—he (most likely?) had the most experience, and despite his own apprehension, didn’t wanna leave all the work to Eddie. He took a breath, let his hands drift down the brunet’s sides and stop at his hips, felt his face heat up again as he raised Eddie’s shirt just high enough to get a glimpse of his toned stomach—he really, really looked good, obviously took better care of himself than Richie did— and he sucked in a harsh breath, dipped his hands below the waistband of Eddie’s briefs, and with his heart beating like a drum, wrapped a hand around his cock.

The response was instantaneous—Eddie let out a shaky little breath, and he leaned forward into Richie’s touch, too embarrassed to make eye contact, but brave enough to continue. Richie’s initiative gave him the push he needed, and finally silencing years of doubt, of fear, of his mother’s influence, he pulled Richie’s boxers down, and touched him for the first time.

Richie was so fucking excited he thought he was going to pass out, or shoot off immediately. He couldn’t contain himself now, and leaned down to capture Eddie’s lips again. He stroked him a few times, and pulled his dick out of his briefs while Eddie let out a groan in his mouth, trembling fingers more firmly grasping his cock, jerking him in smooth, aborted little tugs, like he was still unsure, and maybe he was. But that was okay, because it was still hot, really hot, especially when Eddie deepened the kiss, kissed Richie with tongue and all so desperately like he needed it to breathe, and he finally got over his self-consciousness, and fucked into Richie’s hand, making the sweetest little sounds that left Richie lightheaded.

Holy shit, Oh my god,” Richie muttered breathlessly against Eddie’s lips, shivers running down his spine. The hand still on Eddie’s waist curled around his ass—holy shit was it tight, did he do fucking aerobics or something?— and that only got Richie hotter, and more impatient, desperate to chase the building pleasure in his groin.

“Rich, Rich,” Eddie sighed into his neck, quiet and high, like he didn’t want to let the words out but couldn’t help it, because fuck it felt good, so good, to be with Richie, to do this, to be here. For a moment, Eddie got emotional. He’d never felt like this, ever, not physically, not emotionally, and it was the combination of it all, he thought, that made him so overwhelmed, made him wanna live in the moment forever. It was still scary, but the best kind of scary, and he lost himself to it, to the feeling of Richie’s hands on him, his hasty breathing, the little noises he made. He rocked into Richie’s hand enthusiastically.

As good as it was, things were still a little dry, despite how hard and leaking they were, and Richie didn’t really want to fucking chafe. That would ruin everything, so Richie put his hand over Eddie’s, took both their lengths into his grasp—his hands were a little bigger than Eddie’s, and he fucking loved that— and took his other hand off of Eddie’s ass, brought it up to his mouth and licked his palm.

Eddie’s legs were a little shaky, and he was sure he was red as a tomato, squirming in Richie’s arms. His brain was turning to mush, with little more intelligent commentary than ‘Yes, yes, yes—more—oh my god—' but he was coherent enough to sense the threat, and his hazy eyes snapped up, settling on Richie’s now wet hand.

“Is—what are you doing?” he asked, and was shocked at how wavering his voice was, and he wondered what he looked like, if he sounded like the people in the videos he watched, like a dirty, desperate whore, and…he kind of liked it.

“Gotta…gotta slick it up—fuck, Eds,” came the reply, interrupted by a desperate groan, and Richie moved his hand down.

“W-what?! Fuck no, you’re not rubbing spit on my dick!” Eddie protested, snapping his arm up fast to intercept Richie’s.

“Well I don’t wanna sandpaper my dick! Your little oddly well-lotioned hands aren’t gonna cut it, dumbass!” He tried skirting around Eddie’s arm, a sneak attack, but Eddie anticipated it and cut him off. He let go of Richie’s cock to double his defenses, and the man whined in protest, too fucking horny to play around like this. He wanted to cum, needed to, and Eddie’s delicate sensibilities weren’t gonna stop him.

“Richie I’ll fucking kill you I swear to god!”

“Do you wanna get off or not?!”

That seemed to do it. Because yeah, fuck yeah, Eddie wanted to get off. He’d never wanted to get off so bad in his life. It was just…spit was disgusting, and yeah he’d already kissed Richie and swapped enough saliva, but this was different and he just—it made his skin crawl. But hell, he’d been covered in worse stuff over the years, and he wanted to cum so bad, so he bit the proverbial bullet and shut his eyes as Richie lubed them up, and okay, he could admit the easy slide was a lot better, especially with Richie’s cock sliding over his own, his big hand warm and perfect against his skin, but his hindbrain still chanted ‘Spit, spit, spit,’ and Eddie’s face twisted in dissatisfaction for a moment.

“Fucking g-g-gross,” he complained, squeezing his eyes shut and burying his face in Richie’s shoulder. He burned with embarrassment.

“N-no shit, sex is gross,” Richie replied, jerking his hips erratically because oh, oh, he’d got it just right, and he couldn’t help but let out a gasp that may have turned into a moan, but he was too shameless to care right now.

Eddie’s hand joined his own, and the pace quickened, and Eddie stuttered out, “Well f-f-f-uck, I wouldn’t—oh shit oh my god—I wouldn’t actually know—“

Richie was about to blow his load right there. “Y-you’re a virgin? Ooohh my god, Eds,” he gasped, rutting into their hands with desperation now. He could feel it—he was so close, wasn’t gonna last much longer, and now he heard this? Eddie K was a fucking virgin? It made sense, when he thought about it, but still, thinking and hearing are two different things, and fuck, Eddie just basically admitted it, and it made Richie feel all kinds of possessive, like he was special, like Eddie was all his, and that was just too much.

Richie,” Eddie whined in reply, music to Richie’s ears, but he wasn’t sure if it was out of embarrassment or arousal. Eddie gripped the hem of Richie’s shirt, felt the telltale tightening in his core, and everything was so hot and sensitive, and he knew he wasn’t gonna last much longer. For a second his imagination got the better of him. He thought about doing more, of doing this again, of wild and new possibilities that thus far seemed impossible, but now he’d taken the leap, and he just—he just wanted. He wanted it all.

“Oh my god oh my fucking god that’s—that’s so hot Eddie I’m gonna—I’m gonna fucking cum—“ Richie keened, and he was true to his word. The heat overwhelmed him, and his head fell back against the wall (a little painfully, to be honest) and his body stiffened as he tipped over the edge, spilling into their fists. He rode it out with little gasps, and a whimper he was kind of ashamed of, but that didn’t fucking matter, because it felt good, and satisfying, and he couldn’t remember the last time it felt like that, and he knew almost with certainty that it was because this was Eddie, and not some no name that stumbled into Richie’s life for a night or more.

His vision was all fucked up and he breathed heavily, dazed with the intensity, until he remembered Eddie hadn’t gotten off yet, and his hand was still wrapped around their cocks, sticky with cum now. He was still stroking and thrusting, and as much as Richie wanted to keep going, he was already pretty sensitive, and didn’t want it to get to be too much, so he pulled Eddie’s hand off of his dick, and instead wrapped both of their hands around Eddie’s length, hot and leaking and now covered in Richie’s cum, and boy wasn’t that a sight? And Richie felt so happy his heart could burst, knew that no matter what happened from here on out, he wanted, needed Eddie with him, to be with him, to belong to him. The brunet’s brows were furrowed with the intensity of it all, and Richie thought he looked pretty like this, red-faced and alternating between audible gasps and moans that he tried and failed to keep in his throat, his shoulders trembling.

“Jesus, Eds, I fucking love you,” Richie said, and it was the truth. His strokes were reverent, well placed, and it didn’t take long before Eddie was coming as well, muscles locking up and the hand in Richie’s shirt tugged tight like a bow string.

“Nnnoh fuck,” he sighed out, spilling in little waves that made chills of pleasure crawl up his body, leaving him shuddering and gasping in Richie’s arms. It was so good, so good, and left him kind of hazy, but exhilarated, like he’d never felt before, and in that moment, Eddie was sure Richie was the exact thing he’d been missing for 27 years, and he didn’t plan on missing it for 27 more. He tried catching his breath, tried to get his brain functioning again, to get himself under control, but it was all so much. He felt giddy, was tempted to laugh again, but couldn’t get enough air in his lungs.

“I’m…I’m glad I came back to Derry,” he said finally, as Richie pressed a kiss to his cheek.

Richie smiled down at him. “I’m glad too, but let’s get the hell out of here.”

Eddie nodded in agreement. His self awareness came back finally, and, well, they were sort of a mess. By some miracle they hadn’t soiled their clothes, (well any more than the fucking wet patch in his underwear) but his hands were sticky and gross and cum-covered, and it made him shudder in disgust. He also suddenly remembered the horrific events at dinner, and that drove him to action. He wanted to get out of Derry.

“Gross,” he muttered, staring down at his hand. He shuffled across the room to his toiletry bag, and pulled out his baby-wipes.

“Aw come on, Eds, it’s just jizz,” Richie replied, following him.

“Oh for fuck’s—don’t call it that.”

Richie grinned, took the baby-wipe that Eddie handed him and cleaned himself off. “Don’t call it what, ‘jizz’? How about ‘spunk’? Or ‘splooge’? ‘Baby gravy’? ‘Milkshake’?”

“God could you be any more fucking disgusting?” Eddie replied, dropping his soiled wipes in the trashcan. He tucked himself away and buttoned up his pants.

“You challenging me, Kaspbrak?” Richie prodded, throwing his wadded up wipes across the room like a basketball. He made a good shot, and grinned to himself with satisfaction as the wipes sailed over Eddie’s head and into the trashcan.

“I’m challenging you to shut the fuck up and go wait downstairs while I finish packing,” Eddie explained, directing his attention to his bags once more.

Richie’s heart jumped, filled him with renewed excitement. “Wait—so you wanna leave with me?”

Eddie turned to look at him, heard the childlike hope in his voice. His blue eyes were bright, like he couldn’t believe it was true. It made Eddie feel warm, made him realize for the 20th time that night just how much he missed Richie. Everything was still kind of a dream: out of the ordinary, crazy, and irrational. Eddie knew he had responsibilities, commitments, but he wanted to throw all of that out of the window. It didn’t apply anymore, hardly even existed in this reality. All that existed was them, The Losers, in their own little world, like those days in the summer of ’89.

But that wasn’t completely comforting. There was a lot of fucking danger on the horizon, life threatening, life ending danger, and Eddie didn’t want any part in it. As much as he loved the others, he couldn’t fulfill his promise, couldn’t fight It again. Right now, he wanted to get away from Derry, from Pennywise, and more importantly, wanted Richie with him.

“Yeah, I do,” Eddie said. “Wherever you wanna go, I’m down, as long as it’s far away from here.”

“O-okay, good. Awesome. Fuck—I’m so ready to get outta here. I’ll meet you downstairs,” Richie replied. There was a spring in his step as he closed the distance between them and pressed another kiss to Eddie’s cheek.

God, Richie couldn’t wait for more of those! But they would have to wait a while, long enough for them to get the fuck out of Derry. At least this terrible trip brought one good thing, right? Richie had never counted on this happening, but fuck did he feel lucky now. He was excited to leave It behind, wanted to forget the horrors, present and past, and build something new with Eddie.

Eddie smiled at the kiss, and watched Richie cross the hall to grab his bag from his room. The black haired man gave him a thumbs up and rushed down the stairs and into the lobby, determination in his shoulders.

’Pip pip and tally ho, my good fellows!’ he could almost hear, like that day in the alley when they fixed up Ben. That was how it all began, really. Ben and Beverly walked into their lives that day. Mike came soon after. Eddie felt a little guilty, running away from them now, but who’s to say they couldn’t all meet again, somewhere else, somewhere better? Maybe things could be like they were. Maybe they’d all be together, for good this time, just…out of Derry.

Eddie finished up packing his bags, and turned to look at himself in the mirror. He looked different, somehow. There was a spark in his eyes, bright, that he hadn’t seen since he was a kid. Somehow the bags under his eyes seemed lighter, like he was well rested for the first time. That was ridiculous, but he liked to believe it was true. He liked to believe that things were about to take a turn for the better, that everything would be good and perfect.

Eduardo, ándale!” Richie’s voice called up from the main floor.

“Time to find out, I guess,” Eddie muttered to himself.

He took a deep breath, grabbed his bags (he’d have to make a second trip for the smallest one) and headed downstairs.