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Sunset Crowds Under Empty Streets

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Richie Tozier ✔ @thefakerichietozier reunion with my childhood friends & all i got was the lousy reminder that none of them know i’m also into dudes #feelsbadman

@joshuametsmetsmets replied to @thefakerichietozier

dude whrs the punchline?


@danielle531 replied to @thefakerichietozier

I like the new material. I think. But I might j ust not get it.


@jameseyre replied to @thefakerichietozier

im gonna prrint this tweet n give it to everyone i meet

TMZ ✔ @TMZ Stand-up comedian @thefakerichietozier comes out via tweet just days after his on-stage meltdown in Chicago. http://bit.ly/530rtfg.


“Richie?”

Richie opened the door and leaned against the frame - his aim at nonchalance was offset by his grimace as he looked down and towards the phone Stan was holding.

“Ah.”

“Yeah.”

Despite his usual wont, Richie let the cloying silence hang over the two of them. After a few moments, however, he started to fidget, clutching the back of his neck with one hand as the other started to tap out a nervous beat against the wallpaper.

“I’m so proud of you, Richie. I’m really -”

Stan shook his head a little and Richie stilled his body, mildly stupefied, as Stan wrapped his arms around Richie and brought him into a tight hug.

“I love you.”

“I love you too,” Richie said, tightening his grip on Stan’s body as he let himself breathe for what seemed to be the first time since his return to Derry.

After a couple more moments of peace, however, Richie couldn’t help but tack on, “But what will your wife think, Stanley? She seems like a real fucking peach and I hate to break up your little love fest.”

He paused, letting the joke settle between them for a beat.

“Get it? Georgia -”

“I get it - dick.”

Richie grinned against the top of Stan’s head before finally pulling away from their hold on one another. “That’s my name, don’t wear it out.”

“I see why you have a ghostwriter,” Stan said, patting Richie’s shoulders a couple of times before settling back to a reasonable distance. “I don’t think your sense of humor has changed since high school.”

“Yeah, well -” Richie started, shrugging a little - chastened and only now quite remembering why, giddy and realizing that his past now laid out his future, nerves intersecting with neurons at a blinding speed - before continuing. “- soon, too, the rest of the world will experience every single one of my spectacular prepubescent stories.”

“Please don’t subject everyone else to that, I beg of you,” Stan said - the twitch in his lips, however, and his motion for Richie to join the rest of them downstairs belied his words, and Richie followed him down the hall after only a moment’s hesitation.

“So what’s the plan?” Richie asked immediately upon entering the threshold to the bar of the inn. “Mikey-boy gets let out tomorrow morning, and then what?”

“I’d like for all of you to meet Audra,” Bill offered up into the ringing silence that had been the response to Richie’s question. “If none of you have particularly pressing plans…”

The rest of his sentence was left unsaid, but even Richie could hear the echo of ‘back home’ that, after the last few days, felt almost inadequate to ascribe solely to their respective places of residence.

“The good thing about owning your own company,” Bev said, running her nail against the rim of her glass of whiskey that, judging by the half-melted cubes of ice, she had been nursing for awhile, “is that you can disappear for a few weeks and no one’ll question you.”

She paused before smiling a little. “Especially when you tell your assistant that you’re finally going through with those separation papers she’s had on file for you.”

“Yeah,” Eddie agreed. “To everything you just said.” Richie watched him nod before wincing as his burgeoning grin undoubtedly stretched out the stitches in his cheek.

“Except I don’t have an assistant and just need to call my lawyer.”

And then, because never let it be said that Richard Tozier’s life was nothing more than a series of flukes and good graces, Eddie turned to face Richie with a raised eyebrow, challenging, already primed and ready for the joke coming his way.

Richie didn’t have a joke.

“I don’t know how much of a career I have right now,” he said instead, staring right back at Eddie - a make it or break it moment, and for the first time in his fucking life Richie wasn’t afraid of what had always been right in front of him. “I went psycho on stage before going AWOL for almost a week, and I also just came out on twitter via the world’s shittiest joke.” He paused. “I most likely don’t even have a manager anymore, so I’m good to hang out and remenice.”

Stan sighed. “Well, if we’re all going to be depressing and stay in Derry, then I suppose I’ll tell Patty to come up and meet everyone as well.”

“We could go to Portland?” Ben said, the end of his sentence hinging on a question. “I have a place kind of by there. Never stayed, but I saw the property and couldn’t pass it by.”

He smiled. “Never liked Maine, but could never let it go. Now I know why.”

“That sounds good,” Bill agreed easily, cutting off any argument that might have ensued. “I want to get the fuck out of here, but…”

“I forgot how much I missed you guys,” Ben finished for him.

“Me too,” Stan said. “I remembered more than, I think, most of you did, but it wasn’t any of the good things.”

“Remember when I snuck into orchestra for half a semester in sophomore year, and your teacher didn’t even fucking notice?”

“She knew, but thought you were just a prodigy. You could’ve been first chair after a damn month.”

“Well, there’s another good thing,” Richie said. “For your memory bank.”

“Debatable,” Stan replied before turning away from Richie with a pointed air.

“What’s the address of your place, Ben? I want to know which airport it’s closest to.”

“Uh,” Ben said, “It’s out in the sticks - so none of them.”

“You saying that,” Bill started, eyeing Ben up and down with an assessed intensity that, on anyone else, could have been mistaken as lingering, “reminds me of the beginning of every bad horror film I’ve ever seen.”

“Let’s all go to Ben’s cabin in the woods,” Bev said, finishing the rest of her drink with a flourish and slamming the empty glass on the bar countertop. “Sounds like a party.”


“Those’ll kill you, you know.”

Richie only just stopped himself from blowing his cigarette smoke into Bill’s face and instead proffered his pack of reds to him, shaking one out as Bill made an interested noise.

“You got a light?”

He threw his lighter at Bill’s head and watched, disgruntled, as Bill caught it easily.

“I’m gonna go back to the hospital,” Bill said mildly, before lighting up and taking a long drag. “Stay the night with Mike.”

“Dude, someone else can do that.” Richie wasn’t exactly concerned by Bill’s insistence on keeping vigil at the hospital, but he also knew that Bill was the only one of them who hadn’t taken a real rest since getting into town. “I’d be happy to sit with Mike and spam him YouTube videos until he throws me out and gets some sleep as well.”

“No, I want to go,” Bill replied after a couple of beats; Richie half-hoped he had been seriously considering his offer, but he knew that Bill’s hesitation most likely stemmed from thinking through his words before actually saying them. “And it’s not misplaced guilt or anything - I know that everyone else will be here and be safe, and I want to be the one there for him.”

“If you’re sure,” Richie said after a protracted pause.

“A couple decades finally gave you empathy, huh?”

“Fuck off, Bill.”

Bill laughed in Richie’s face, and Richie felt a piece of himself settle in his core at his bright expression. He had been missing these six people - virtual strangers in a virtual age - for the very life of him; everything and nothing had changed, and Richie couldn’t help the swell in his throat at the thought.

Richie took a final drag off his cigarette before throwing it down on the sidewalk to crush it with the toe of his boot. The few seconds it took him to lean down and pick up the butt was enough to quell whatever emotions were clogging his throat and his question of ‘see you in the morning?’ came out shockingly normal.

“Mike and I’ll be here early as possible. So tell them all not to be too hungover when we get back.”

“Aye, aye, cap’n.” Richie waved Bill off with a jaunty two-fingered salute and, for lack of anything better to do and not wanting to crawl back to the bar to shoot the shit with the rest of the group, lit up another cigarette.

The sound of Bill’s car faded as he pulled down the street, but Richie didn’t look away from the tail lights until they blinked around the corner.

“What’re you doing out here, Rich? It’s getting late.”

“It’s like 10 P.M., Eds,” Richie said, turning away from the street so he could face Eddie fully. The porch light glinted against the wire frames of his glasses and Richie sucked in his bottom lip in order to avoid saying something that might, now that they were older and had time to look back on the memories, be construed differently by him.

“And I’m smoking.”

“That’ll kill you,” Eddie started, “fucking dumb ass.”

“You want one?”

Eddie paused. “Are they those shit menthol ones you used to smoke freshman year?”

“Why, you interested in a career in space?” Richie asked rhetorically, already in the process of taking another out of his pack.

He lit the end of Eddie’s cigarette with his own cherry before handing it over, deliberately ignoring the way Eddie seemed to be trying to stare right through Richie.

“What?” he finally snapped out after the silence had stretched out, became thin and wavering and full of all the words Richie had felt on the back of his tongue since he had come back into town and had seen Eddie again.

“Nothing,” Eddie said automatically, taking a drag off of his cigarette - Richie was duly impressed that he didn’t even wince, but for all he knew Eddie could have been a secret smoker for the last twenty years.

They stood, looking at each other, for a beat.

“I’m gay.”

Richie’s mind went blank.

“Congratulations?” he offered weakly and immediately dragged his hand up his face. “Jesus Christ, I didn’t mean -”

He was cut off by the bark of Eddie’s startled-out laughter; hearing it, sharp and unrestrained, gave Richie fucking heart palpitations, and wasn’t that something?

“I figured -” Eddie wheezed out after a few more moments and, inanely, all Richie could think about was the fact that Eddie had literal stitches and Richie had also just put him in stitches, “- I figured that coming out to someone who literally just did the same thing would - oh fuck, I haven’t laughed that hard in years - would garner me a better reaction than ‘congratulations.’ Oh my God, Rich, you dingus.”

“Well, everyone basically just ignored mine, so at least you got a reaction, Eds Spagheds.”

With that said, however, Richie pulled Eddie in close and pressed a rough kiss to the top of his head. “I’m proud of you, Eddie.”

“Yeah, yeah, I’m sure,” Eddie replied, but his blasé tone was negated by the tight grip on the back of Richie’s shirt, bunching the material a little at the small of his back as Eddie finished catching his breath from his fit of nervous laughter.

“I am,” Richie insisted. “I mean, if nothing else, I’m glad the alien murder clown gave us something out of the experience.”

“Aside from the PTSD.”

“Exactly.” Richie took another drag off of his cigarette over Eddie’s head; Eddie, despite his usual wont, didn’t say a goddamn word about it.

“You okay, Eds?”

“I’m…” He paused. “I feel better than I have in a long while, Rich. And that’s something, I guess.”

“That’s something,” he agreed easily, pulling away from the hug as Eddie’s loosened grip on his clothing.

They stepped back to a respectable distance and Richie couldn’t help the little thrill that went through his body as Eddie grinned up at him, before looking away as he noticed Richie had already been staring. Quiet prevailed, then, for a few moments, before Eddie pushed his glasses back up the bridge of his nose with his knuckle.

It had been over two decades since they had seen one another but Richie still felt his breath catch at the minutiae of Eddie’s movements, still felt as though every little thing Eddie Kaspbrak did would be the death of him - Richie wouldn’t really mind dying, if it meant keeping this.

“Your glasses make you look even cuter,” he finally said. “I mean, not that you weren’t basically all of my middle school wet dreams, but the glasses, Eddie, baby…”

Richie trailed off and gave Eddie a double-thumbs up.

“Oh my God,” Eddie said, and Richie could see the flush enter his cheeks, the barely controlled nervous tics that Eddie used to always give off when Richie said something he secretly liked but would never admit to. “Beep fucking beep, Richie, what the fuck?”

“I’m on a streak of honesty, Eddie, I’m gonna keep going until there’s nothing left.”

“Be honest about something else then, Jesus.”

But he was smiling a little, and honesty seemed to be working spectacularly well for Richie at the moment; Richie took a steadying breath, threw down his cigarette, and grabbed Eddie’s wrist - he didn’t know whose pulse he felt against his thumb, but the way Eddie had dropped his own cigarette like a hot potato seemed make the distinction unnecessary.

“I was desperately in love with you. For so many years that, looking back, it’s not even funny.”

“Yeah,” Eddie replied, stepping in on the end of Richie’s statement. “Me too.”

Richie closed his eyes and let out a breath.

“Okay,” he said. “Okay. Now what?”



Mr. Manager
Are you going to make a comment, Richie?

Mr. Manager
I can see that you’ve read this, Richie.

Mr. Manager
PR is riding my ass, so you better give me SOMETHING to work with.

Richie
at reunion.

Richie
will have comment next week.

Richie
sorry about coming out on twitter.

Richie
:)