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Peace Is But A Shadow Of Death

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After, they can’t bare to separate.

They clean off at the quarry, splashing and fake drowning each other in between many a group hug and some silent (and not so silent) tears.

Richie can’t keep his eyes off of Eddie. He’s half expecting him to disappear in the blink of an eye or start convulsing with blood pouring out of his mouth. But he’s okay. He stays okay. He throws an arm around Richie’s shoulder when they leave the water, somehow knowing that Richie needed that. Physical proof that he’s real, that he’s standing right there. That he’s not going anywhere.

Granted, Richie did come out of the deadlights and start sobbing uncontrollably, Eddie’s name falling from his lips, unconsolable as he looked around frantically, until Eddie gripped his face between his hands, giving it a little shake.

“I’m right here.” He’d said, to which Richie had tugged him roughly into his arms.

Then, they fought. They bullied the fuck out of that stupid fucking clown.

“You’re a dirty fucking bastard!” Eddie had yelled at it, his hand, so juxtaposing to his tone, rubbing soothing circles into Richie’s own, which were shaking uncontrollably as he yelled obscenities at Pennywise.

Then it was over, and none of the losers could bare to separate.

At the inn, they all took the quickest yet most thorough showers of their life, Richie exiting his room with red-rimmed eyes and a far away look in his eyes. Until he saw Eddie. At which point, he launched into his arms.

Eddie thought it would take a while for Richie to get over whatever it was that he saw in the deadlights.

Eddie knew he’d never leave Richie’s side, if that’s what it took.

They all sleep in Bev’s room. They pile blankets and pillows and sheets and some things in between- a sad, middle aged attempt at a blanket fort- and lay together in one big group hug.

The lights stay on.

They fall asleep relatively quickly, considering. Then again, murdering a space clown that had haunted your entire life tends to drain you a little.

Still, they were all asleep by 3am.

Then suddenly, they weren’t anymore.

Cause it was 4:30am, and someone was screaming. Someone was screaming, crying and shouting.

“We can still save him!” Richie’s voice was raw, penetrating the already vulnerable silence of hesitant slumber.

When Bev shook him awake, she was greeted with the most detestful look she’d ever seen from him, his eyes bloodshot and narrowed, focused in on her with a broken kind of vengeance in them. It broke her heart.

“How couldyou?”

His voice comes out as a whisper, it’s broken, so shattered, and so accusing, that Bev reels back a bit. Richie clearly hasn’t noticed their audience. Hasn’t noticed that every loser remaining is staring at him wide eyed, wanting to reach out but not wanting to scare, so staying so hesitantly still and silent.

“Richie?” Bev mutters, and she hears the tears in her own voice.

“How could you leave him? You just left him! It’s Eddie fucking Kasprabk, our best friend, and you let him fucking rot in a fucking clown crack house covered in mould and fucking spiders and shit!”

“Rich-“

“No! You left him. He’s alone. He’s alone and he’s dead. You should’ve let me stay. Why didn’t you let me stay?” His voice falters and cracks towards the end, and all that was remaining of Bev’s heart shatters.

“Richie.”

This time, it’s not Beverly. This time, it’s Eddie. He’s crying, tears streaming down his face, but he makes no effort to wipe them as he hesitantly begins to inch towards Richie, who looks at him, terrified.

no. Fuck no. We got rid of you. We fuck- no. You’re dead. We fucking bullied you and we squeezed your fucking heart until you died, you piece of shit.”

Richie’s shaking. He’s half aware of the fact he’s barely breathing. He’s half aware of the losers staring at him- glancing at each other. Being all round fucking worried, but he can’t waste a second worrying about that, not with Pennywise inching ever so closer to him and for fucks sake, why isn’t anyone doing anything?

“Rich. Richie, it’s me. It’s Eddie. I swear. I swear it’s me Rich.”

Then, he crumbles.

The deadlights.

The fucking deadlights.

Richie Tozier breaks.

He freezes for a second, then he breaks. His breaths completely out of control, his hands shaking maniacally, his sobs coming out strangled and raw.

“I’m losing my fucking mind.” He says, then, “please, someone hug me before I-“

He doesn’t get to finish his sentence, because 5 pairs of arms are wrapped around him, holding him while he tires himself out, his sobs eventually residing to quiet, muffled cries. Eventually, everyone pulls away- not by much- but away. Except Eddie.

Eddie doesn’t stay where he is, in fact, he gets closer, he leans his head on Richie’s shoulder, squeezing his hand and quietly reassuring him.

“I’m alive. I’m okay. I’m here. I’m safe. I love you. I’m okay. I’m not going anywhere.”

“You better fucking not be, Kaspbrak.”

Later in the morning, Mike is the first to wake up. He’d debated going back to the library for a while, but he knew he couldn’t face Bowers’ body. He knew they were all on the edge, that anything minute might tip them over into full panic, and he didn’t want to risk it. He wanted to put it off- at least until Florida. That way he’d be alone. Not burdening.

He trails his eyes over the rest of the group, and thankfully, they all seem to be pretty okay-peaceful, almost.

Even Richie.

He and Eddie have somewhat separated from the group, off to the side with their legs intertwined. Richies face is burrowed in the others neck, his arm slung around his waist. If the situation were different, Mike would be ready to tease them when they woke up, but as it were, he found tears springing to his eyes at the sight.

Pennywise was dead. It was over.

But it wasn’t over because Stan was still fucking dead, there was a body in mikes home, there was still blood and dirt under Bev’s and Ben’s fingernails, Bill still had his stutter, Eddie’s cheek still had a fucking hole in it, and Richie-

Mike didn’t think he’d ever see Richie cry.

When Bill shuffled awake, Mike couldn’t take his eyes off of him. They survived. They fought a killer clown and fucking won.

“Mikey? Y-You okay?”

“I love you man.”

“I love you too.”

-
When Richie wakes up, the first thing he does is tear away from Eddie, run to the bathroom, and throw up the entire contents of his stomach.

“Richie?” He hears Eddie shout from the other room, no doubt stirred awake by Richie launching out of his grip.

“I’m good!” He shouts back, leaning his head against the wall of the bathroom.

“Are you sure? Can I- can I come in?”

“I’m not sure you want to Ed’s. The whole sitch in here’s a little gross.”

Eddie comes in anyway, crouching next to Richie to rub a soothing hand up and down his back as he breathes in and out, trying to gain some control over his body.

“Nightmares?”

“The deadlights- fuck Ed’s. The fucking deadlights. How long was in them for?”

“I- I don’t know? 5 minutes?”

Richie freezes, then breaks out into a low, humourless chuckle, looking down at his trembling hands and roughly shaking his head, his overgrown curls flopping in front of his eyes.

“It was four fucking days, Eddie. They dragged me out of there- I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to die down there. They dragged me out and to the fucking quarry and had the nerve to joke about you. I had to live 4 days being told that it’d all be alright, that I’d be fine while watching everyone around me plan their future- knowing- knowing I was fucking done for. I’ve lost the only person I’ve ever-“

He’s cut off, of course, by himself throwing up. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he’s thankful for his body’s automatic nervous response that’s basically a huge “fuck you” to him and everyone around him- cause he’d almost told Eddie- he’d almost told him his dirty little fucking secret. Maybe Eddie could handle the sight of him throwing up the entire contents of his stomach, but Richie knows- he knows he wouldn’t be able to handle his best friend being-

being who he is.

Apparently, though, the universe wasn’t entirely on his side, because the first thing Eddie said when Riche was somewhat in control of what his body was doing, was;

“The only person you’ve ever what, Richie?”

“Oh for- seriously, Eddie? You’re making me do this on a bathroom floor? I mean, really?”

“Richie.” There’s something in his voice that makes Richie look up, look straight into his eyes. Sure, there’s the exasperation mixed with frustration mixed with a slight bit of fondness that usually comes in regards to Richie, but there’s a desperation to his tone that Richie is sure he’s never heard before, as though whatever Richie says next could theoretically make or break him. Richie doesn’t like that kind of responsibility, and for a second or two, he thinks he’s about to throw up again, though he manages to keep it back- which, progress.

“I saw you die.”
So, it’s not exactly what he intended to say when he opened his mouth, but it’s what comes out and it’s what hangs in the air between them for a good 10 seconds in which Richie kind of wants the ground to swallow him up to get him out of this conversation.

“Believe it or not, I managed to put that together, dipshit.” he’s joking. Which is nice. It’s familiar. Their dynamic since they were 11 years old- that little smirk on Eddie’s face, even clouded with worry and something Richie can’t quite place, settles the nerves in Richie’s stomach just a little bit. Enough to let him keep talking.

“You- you saved me. You threw the spear at Pennywise and god- you were so excited. You grabbed my shoulders and you- you were so excited. Then he fucking stabbed you and threw you around like a fucking rag doll and you died.”

He takes a deep, shaky breath but manages not to cry, which he’s quite proud of, really. Especially when he feels like his entire world is on the edge of crumbling around him.

“I didn’t though, Rich. I’m right here and I’m not fucking going anywhere.”

“Promise?” In any other situation, Richie would cringe at the vulnerability of his own voice, but as it stands, he can’t bring himself to care. And he knows, he knows that Eddie can’t fucking promise that. That they could both die tomorrow, but he needs to comfort of Eddie’s promise to keep going, so he asks. There, on the dirty bathroom floor of the Derry townhouse, with one of Eddie’s hands rubbing soothing circles into his back and the other resting on his knee, he makes Eddie promise never to leave him. It might be the biggest mistake he’s ever made, but it might just be the one thing that saves him from going insane.

“I promise you, Richie. I’m never leaving you.”

There’s silence for a few moments, but it’s not entirely uncomfortable. It’s charged with a certain acceptance and knowing- because there’s no doubt in either of their mind how they feel about each other. They can’t lose each other. They need each other like they need the air they breathe.

“Richie?”

“Yeah, Eds?”

“Can you brush your teeth for me?”

The question is so unexpected, that it forces a huff of laughter from Richie’s lips, to which Eddie just shakes his head with a raised eyebrow.

“Um- I mean- why?”

“Because I’m not kissing you after you threw up if you’ve not brushed your teeth.”

And honestly, Richie has never moved so fast in his life.