Richie Tozier has always been afraid (of himself, clowns, death)—he finds death in a sewer
Then, Richie Tozier knew many things about Derry (like not go down to the sewers alone; the curfew is death or life; the Bower’s crew would tear him to shreds), about life (like you always grow up; no one really cares; you’re always supposed to be less yourself).
Then, Richie Tozier didn’t know how not to be scared, how to escape death, what haunted Derry, how he’d be in the future—he tried not to dwell on it, though, because he’d always drive himself face first into a panic attack and he doesn’t do panic attacks. But his mind has always been faster than him.
Now, Richie Tozier supposes he could know about how he got here, standing and staring straight at the sewers’ mouth and how it quickly disappeared into darkness—he got here because he wanted to find out. Find out how death came knocking, why death came knocking so early at the kid’s door next to his house, find out how it is to stare death in the eyes and walk away immune, find out how to be scared of someone that wasn’t himself.
The scene was set: he was shaking from head to toe and, inside the sewers, a manic laugh echoes. He supposes this wouldn’t be half as scary if he were with his trusty friends, if it wasn’t for the shitty and dreaded weather of Derry in October, if there weren’t footsteps echoing so loud that he could fucking feel it in his bones, so close that he wanted to believe it was right in front of him when absolutely nothing at all was there.
And he should’ve ran before he even saw anything, hopped onto his bike and driven straight home—he should’ve ignored everything he saw (heard) here and never talked about it ever again, just like he did with most things—but that wouldn’t have worked because his feet felt like they were glued to the dirt beneath him and fuck it if he knew how to even walk with how much fear shook his body.
Soon enough, with Richie standing there helplessly, someone—or something—comes hurling at him and he would have half a mind to step away but he can’t and oh fuck it’s coming straight at him—It’s coming straight at him and he can’t move and it unhinges its jaw and sharp shark-like teeth glare at him and he’s thinking about how the life line in his hands has always been sort of faded—
He suddenly falls to the ground when a hand yanks him back by the neck of his shirt, away from the imminent danger and the sewers' entrance (Richie remembers how his mom used to pull him back like that when he’d get distracted by anything and everything at the supermarket)—he’s breathing heavily and staring at whoever the fuck had found him and it’s Eddie. He’s always there, isn’t he?
“Richie! Are you fucking insane? Do you know how fucking unsanitary these sewers are? What the fuck are you even doing here? It’s pouring! —” and suddenly he doesn’t care about stupid Derry’s homophobic tendencies because he springs to his feet and hugs Eddie tighter than he ever had before.
Wentworth Tozier is a cynical, nihilistic man (who believes death is the finish line and who itches to get closer to it by smoking 3 packs a day)
Wentworth Tozier would later find Richie sat on the perch in front of their house, making his way through a pack of cigarettes. He’d make a face and move quietly to sit down besides his son, who had his eyes closed and looked almost dead—skin pale and cracking under the edges of his eyes.
“Your ma would kill ya if she knew you’d be taking after me with smoking,” Richie startles a bit and looks at Wentworth, who was now extending his hand and asking for a cigarette of his own.
“I think she’d kill both of us, considering that you’ve been smoking even more and considering the shit you let me get away with,” Wentworth laughs as Richie places the cigarette in his hand, alongside with his lighter (it was gift of Stan, under the guise of being for a science project gone wrong).
“She’d love how free I’ve become! She loved rebels!” he was wiggling his brows and Richie was fighting his laughter.
“Beep beep, dad.”
“Oh, shush, you don’t get to use that on me considering the shit you say, Trashmouth, you’re way worse than me. Especially with that Edward boy, dear god, he must hate you by now.”
“Eddie loves me~!” Richie chuckles and Wentworth gets that fond look on his face that comes and goes with the tides, that appears in the most odd of moments and that doesn’t stick for long (Richie always loved it when his dad would look at his mom like that, when he’d look at Richie like that).
“We all do, kiddo,” Richie takes a long drag. “But what’s got you out here doin’ all this?” he gestures towards his smoke and Richie shrugs (how could he say that he was feeling high and low, that he could float and come bursting down through the earth and still feel okay and terrible at the same time in coherent English?)
“I don’t think you’d believe me.”
“Try me.” and his parents have always believed a bit more, they’ve always been smarter, more attentive than any other adult in Derry—maybe it was because they never stopped being kids, deep inside.
“I… I saw something by the sewers and it was fucking terrifying and it had sharp teeth like a fucking shark and it looked like a clown but at the same time like nothing at all—fuck, dad, I thought I was gonna die.” he breathes it all out and his dad’s hand is on his shoulder and he’s okay, he can trust him.
“You’ve always been a scaredy cat, Rich, how did you not die?” and you’d probably think that Wentworth is the worst of dads by how nonchalant he was talking about his son’s brush with death but this was how Wentworth dealt with life, he faced death like it was a next-door neighbour that he’s known his whole life and that he waves good morning everyday with that half-assed smirk of his.
“Eddie saved me—”
“Oh yeah, Edward came by earlier, asking for you in a huge panic—I thought he was gonna die then and there, I would’ve hated to face Sonia after killing her son.” so that was probably how Eddie knew where Richie was—shit, had he searched the whole town upside down? And goddamn, that should not make Richie’s insides flutter like they did. “Now, if you didn’t die and any wound must’ve been treated by Eddie, what’s got you so pensive? Ya know the Tozier’s are not people who think, it does us no good.” Richie knew that all too well, of course he did, all his impulses were telling him to run across the town to sweep Eddie Kapsbrak off of his feet and kiss him blind and senseless.
“I think I’ve loved Eddie for the last 3 years,” Wentworth was silent for just a few seconds before he was chuckling around his cigarette, putting it out in the porch and leaning in for another one.
“I think you’re the last person to realize that, kiddo, asides from Eddie anyways.”
“And… that’s okay with you?”
“Why the hell wouldn’t it be, Richie? You really think I’m like all the old folks around here?” Richie shakes his head slightly and Wentworth suddenly starts ruffling his hair into even more of a mess than it usually is, a soft smile gracing his features. “I love you, kiddo, nothing is gonna change that. You love who you wanna and you be happy, alright? I’ve got your back.”
“Thanks, pops.” he smiles and hugs Wentworth—he’s always taken after his mother’s affections.
Maggie Tozier doesn’t deserve an early death (but the lines in her hands always told a different tale, always lead her to the short end of the stick—unlike her love)
He visits his mom every afternoon after school ends and on Saturday mornings when he’s not having a sleepover; he tells her about his days while sitting in the mud and forcing his eyes to stay dry but he ends up with a dam of tears being split open and filling the ground beneath him even more. He always whispers “I love you” before leaving.
On this particular afternoon it was raining and the whole sky was crying out for help, a typhoon close by, and it was Halloween and everyone would tell him to be terrified of the graveyard because it came alive every Halloween (or every night, by the cops’ words) but visiting Maggie Tozier was all that was keeping him sane nowadays. He’d face death everyday if it meant he’d get to see her name written there clear and strong, to know she was still there and that one day he’d be with her once again, holding her hand tight.
“Goodbye, Losers! Don’t miss me too much!” he said as they all gathered under the school’s roof close to the exit. “Your favourite trashmouth has an appointment.” he smiles at the rolls of eyes and the short head nods. He shrugs lightly at Eddie’s searching gaze and mounts his bike quickly, heading out to the hill.
He’s thoroughly confused as he hears the loud swearing behind him and the tell-tale clanking of chains that come from Eddie’s bike. Eddie soon catches up to him and Richie feels the dread in the pit of his stomach.
“Eddie Spaghetti! To what do I owe your precious appearance?”
“Richie Tozier, I will absolutely fucking murder you if I catch a fucking cold!”
“You’re the one following me, my love!” Richie laughs and he knows Eddie is scoffing behind him. “What in hell are you doin’ anyways, Eds?”
“I can’t fucking let you go alone; it’s fucking pouring and there are a lot of health hazards around here and you don’t take care of yourself like ever—”
“So, you’re my travel doctor?”
“No! Yes? Doesn’t matter! I just didn’t want you going alone, Rich.” he stops pedalling and almost tightens his hands around the breaks so tightly that he sends himself flying—it’s only almost and he’s safely still in his bike.
“Aw, sweet lil’ old Eds cares about me!”
“Stop fucking calling me Eds!” and if Richie had a huge smile, threatening to spill his cheeks in half, no one would know in the heavy rain.
When they get to the graveyard, he can feel Eddie’s apprehension from a mile away (was it even apprehension or just confusion?) and he felt guilt creeping up his back.
“Don’t worry, Eddie-boy, we ain’t gonna summon any demons—yet anyways.”
“Yet!?” Richie throws his hands up and laughs a bit.
“Joke! Joke! Don’t get so worried, love, the creases make you look 30.” he gets off of his bike and lets it fall to the ground, Eddie following his actions despite his words.
“I’m fucking 15! Stop joking around, Richie,” they enter the graveyard, take a left. “It’s raining and we’re at the graveyard for a reason I have no clue about and—”
“We’re gonna visit my ma, Eds.” Eddie’s face morphs from annoyance to something softer, kinder—comprehension. Richie looks away and keeps walking.
“I’m still killing you if I get a cold.”
“I’m counting on it, baby!” and if Richie is forcing a cheer to his voice and his steps, Eddie doesn’t mention it.
As soon as Maggie’s grave is in his view, Richie’s breath hitches—would he cry in front of Eddie? Would he do his whole routine? Would Eddie judge him? Would—his train of thoughts is stopped when Eddie smiles kindly at him and spots a tree, far away but with Richie still in view, and walks towards it.
Richie loved him.