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hold on i still need you

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Eddie dreams of Richie for the first time a month after Derry, and three weeks into a long, acrimonious divorce from Myra.

Okay, that’s probably a lie. He’s had dreams featuring Richie before, memory-dreams where they’re kids playing Street Fighter, wet dreams where Richie lays him out on the bed and touches him all over, and nightmares of Neibolt—of Richie over him, the relief in his eyes before Pennywise’s claw skewered him right through. Of Richie lying on the cavern floor holding his hand and whispering I love you, god, I loved you so much. Of blood soaking through Eddie’s fingers, try as he might.

They’d had to drag him out kicking and screaming. Stan was badly hurt and needed immediate medical attention, and It had knocked them all around something fierce, broken bones and probably caused a lot of internal bruising and some internal bleeding. They couldn’t have brought a dead body out with them, none of them had enough strength in them left.

But—

Well, what’s logical doesn’t really matter to Eddie’s heart, doesn’t it.

God, I loved you so much. Richie’s last words still bounce around his skull, regretful and sad, resigned. So it’s not the first time he’s had a dream about Richie, before.

But—well, usually Eddie’s dreams are much less detailed than this.

He’s standing outside the Toziers’ old house in Derry. It had been a cozy, homey old place, two stories and an attic, with a tree that you could climb that led you directly to Richie’s window. Whenever Richie was grounded for his conduct grades (which was every quarter), Eddie would scurry up the tree and knock on his window. It doesn’t look the same now in real life, the tree has long since been cut down and the house remodeled somewhat for the new family living in it, but here in the dream it looks the way it did when they were kids. It looks so real, too.

As Eddie watches, a red balloon floats out of the doorway. His heart climbs right into his throat at the sight of it, and unwillingly, his body turns to follow it, to chase after it. Stop! he wants to scream at himself. Stop, stop, stop, you know what those are, you know what those lead to, stop running towards It stop—

He turns the corner, but instead of the leper, or Pennywise, he just sees Richie, nervously tapping his fingers against his knees, near a storm drain that the balloon disappears into. And it’s Richie, no doubt about it, there’s the crack in his glasses, there’s the jacket he was wearing when he died, there’s Eddie’s ratty old hoodie being worried in his hands. And there, too, is the gaping hole in his chest where It skewered him right through.

“Richie?” Eddie breathes.

Richie jerks his head upward. “Eds!” he shouts, and jumps to his feet. “Eddie, Eddie, help me—”

He doesn’t get far. A white hand shoots out from the storm drain, and a horrible cackling noise fills the air like an air raid siren in a war movie. come back home, richie, Pennywise’s guttural voice sings, and yanks hard. Richie hits the ground with a scream, nails scrabbling at the concrete in a futile effort to keep from being dragged into the sewer.

Eddie! Help!” he shrieks. Eddie moves fast, trying to catch his hand, but all he seizes is thin air, because with a burst of strength, It yanks Richie into the darkness with an evil laugh, mingling with Richie’s terrified screams.

Eddie’s knees hit the ground, and he stretches a trembling hand out towards the storm drain—

—and wakes up.

“What the fuck,” he says.

--

The thing about grief is—

Myra had screamed and cried, when Eddie came back to get his things and go. She’d cajoled and demanded and wailed, asking why he had to go, why he had to leave her alone. She’d said, I’m the only one who can take care of you, Eddie! You know that! Please let me take care of you! She’d clung the whole way, and maybe in another world that would’ve been enough to make Eddie stay.

Only all he could think of was Richie, pushing him out of the way of the claw. God, I loved you so much, he’d said, resigned, knowing that he would die. If Eddie had to be asked what love was like, just after that, he would’ve been too paralyzed with shock and heartbreak to answer.

But if he’s asked now, he thinks he’d say this: love is not just wanting to take care of someone, as much as that’s a big part of it. Love is seeing someone and knowing, in the pit of your heart, that you would die for them, even if it meant losing your chance. Love means you get hurt, means you have to hurt because it’s you opening up the parts of yourself you hide away from everyone else to someone else. Love doesn’t mean hiding something to please someone.

Love and grief go together.

Myra hadn’t gotten it, of course. She had tried to push him into therapy with her therapist friend, but he’d googled the guy and not been impressed to say the least. She had screamed at him, asking him to think about her just this once, why was he always thinking about himself these days, and he’d shouted back at her, I just lost someone I loved! Can’t you see that? Can’t you take the fucking blinders off your eyes? I lost someone I loved and the only thing you’re thinking of is how to fix me so you can have some—some fucking doll to coddle! I’m sorry, but this is not something you get to fix! I am not something that you get to fix because you’re not fucking happy!

They haven’t talked, since then. He regrets shouting at her, yeah, but he doesn’t regret what he said. He hopes, sincerely, that she finds someone she can love, one day.

Mike calls him, a week after Eddie’s first dream of Richie. “I’m gonna be in New York for the weekend,” he says.

“Oh, that’s great!” says Eddie, setting the old picture strip of himself and the other Losers on the bedside drawer. Richie’s there, grinning brightly at the camera, thirteen and so full of himself. He’d fought for this picture, for this little box of things that Myra had given up. “Do you need a place to stay? Tourist spots? God, please don’t say you want to watch Hamilton.”

“Fuck, I wanted to watch Hamilton,” says Mike, joking, and Eddie groans. “Kidding, man, I know how hard it is to get tickets. Yeah, no, Ben mentioned he had a place here in New York, he’s going to let me borrow it for the weekend. I have an itinerary already, but I wouldn’t mind adding a couple more places. Really, I was just planning to ask you if you wanted to have drinks.”

“God, yes, please,” says Eddie. “Divorce has been messy as hell. Myra wants half my stuff and I’m considering just letting her have it, but—well, principle of the thing, you know?”

“Yeah, I know,” says Mike. “Know a good place with some really strong drinks, then?”

Eddie names a place in Queens off the top of his head, a bar that’s been there about as long as he can remember. He had never gone there, exactly, too worried over what could happen to him there, but now—well, he’s divorced, he’s between jobs, and he’s alive. Might as well. “See you there this weekend,” he says.

“You too,” says Mike, and cuts the call.

Not five minutes after that, as Eddie’s sorting through the rest of his box, Stan calls and says, “Hey, Eddie. Holding up okay?”

“Hi, Stan,” says Eddie, picking up a bird book. Birds of North America, it reads. Stan’s book. He’d moved away from Derry before Eddie could give it back, but he can now. “Yeah, I’m—I’m fine. I actually just got a box of my shit back from Myra, and your old bird book is in here.”

“I wondered where that went!” says Stan. “Great timing, Patty and I are heading up to New York. There’s a teachers’ conference this weekend there that she’s been invited to speak at, and I was thinking maybe while she’s at it, we could head out for drinks, you could give me the book back?”

“You and Mike both,” says Eddie, dryly.

“Fold me in with him, then,” says Stan. “Someone ought to drive you both home. Might as well be me.”

“Like you’re not going to get drunk enough to do karaoke,” says Eddie.

“I could do that sober,” Stan says. Then he pauses, and says, quietly, “Do you want to talk about—well. Neibolt?”

Richie, he means. They all heard, they all saw, they all mourned with Eddie after limping out of the hospital, six survivors out of lucky seven. Richie’s left a hole in all their hearts, an empty chair at a table for seven people, and they’ve all grieved his loss.

It’s just—

Eddie had loved him back. Loves him back. He knows that now, with the benefit of hindsight being 20/20 and all. The hole in his heart isn’t healing up, any time soon, especially with the strange dreams that he’s been having lately, but—he appreciates the effort. “No,” he says. “I’d rather not. But I can bring your book to the bar.”

There’s a soft exhale on the other end of the line. “All right,” says Stan. “I’ll swing by for it.”

He hangs up, and Eddie starts sorting through the rest of the box. That one’s Ben’s old New Kids on the Block album, he’ll save that for when Ben and Bev blow through New York again, maybe for the run-up to the Met Gala. This is Bill’s first book Homecoming Queen, the one that had actually been pretty good the whole way through. That is the book Bev lent him for English class that he’d forgotten to give back. And that—

His heart catches in his throat.

Richie had made him a mixtape before the Toziers moved away. He remembers now—climbing into Richie’s room, getting the mixtape, playing it and dancing along so raucously that old Wentworth had come up, told them to dance more quietly if they could to spare his ears, and then walked away with an amused chuckle. When Eddie had moved away, he’d always—he used to listen to this mixtape when he felt like shit, because the sound of it would soothe him, somehow. Which was dumb, but still.

He clutches it close to his chest now, as if it could somehow fill the hole in his heart that Richie’s left behind.

--

Eddie dreams again that night, the fourth time in a week.

They’re sitting together in the clubhouse, and Richie’s back is to the shadows. He looks haggard, scared, but when he sees Eddie again he smiles, relieved. “Glad you could make it,” he says. “Hi, Eds.”

“You motherfucker,” says Eddie, before lurching forward and wrapping him up in a hug.

“Ow, ow, dipshit, my chest hole—” Richie pushes him away, and Eddie squints. Something’s off with Richie’s eyes. “Listen, I haven’t got much time to talk.”

“You’re fuckin’ dead, asshole, you can’t talk anymore,” says Eddie. “Fuck. I miss you. We all miss you.”

Richie’s mouth opens, but he shuts it again, eyes gleaming wetly in the dim light. “Bet it’s all gloom and doom and depressing shit now, huh,” he croaks. “Without me around, I mean.”

“Fuck you,” says Eddie, wetly, his voice hoarse. “I take it back, we haven’t missed your trashmouth at all.” But he pulls Richie into another hug, more careful this time. After a moment, Richie lifts his arms and hugs back. “I’m sorry. I tried to get you out, I swear, they had to drag me away from your body before the house came down on us all.”

“Don’t be,” says Richie. “Don’t, Eds, I mean it. You did everything you could, I’m just glad everybody else got out alive.” Cold, wet lips press against Eddie’s forehead, like a benediction, like forgiveness. “Hey, uh, Eddie, when I dropped that bomb on you—”

“Fuck you for dropping that bomb and dying right afterward, also,” says Eddie. “You started my sexuality crisis. Jesus.”

“I still got it,” says Richie, a ghost of a smile touching his lips before it fades away again. “No, but—can you just forget about it? Please?”

“Say one more word, asshole,” says Eddie. “One more and I’ll slug you. I don’t give a shit if you’re just something my brain made up because I’m grieving you, I fucking will. I can’t forget it because it’s the last thing you ever told me.” He breaks away, then, and frowns at the hurt written across Richie’s face. Is it just him, or has the clubhouse grown darker, somehow? Is it just him, or have the shadows grown longer?

“I’m real,” says Richie, “I’m real, Eddie, you have to listen to me, you have to warn them—”

“What are you talking about?” Eddie demands. “Richie—”

Richie tosses a frantic glance over his shoulder. “I can’t stay here for long,” he says. “Connection gets more fucked the farther from Derry you are, I’m trying to get the rest but it’s tough, but I couldn’t—Eddie, do you know what happens when people die? They turn into ghosts. Turns out that’s the same for clown monsters from outer space.” He clambers closer to Eddie, getting into his space, and says desperately, “It’s dead but It left a ghost, and it’s trying to come back, you have to help me, Eddie, you have to—”

what do you think you’re doing, richie, comes that horrible, awful, familiar voice from the shadows at Richie’s back. Eddie freezes up, his blood turning to ice in his veins, and Richie makes a horrible whimpering sound. come play with the clown, richie! i’m so lonely down here, and you never play with me anymore, you only want to play with that sick little freak and his rotten friends—

Richie pushes Eddie back, shielding him. “Eds,” he says, and this close Eddie can see flecks of sickly yellow in his eyes, “help, help me—”

Children’s hands, skeletal and decaying, burnt and broken-fingered, bloody and bruised, shoot out from the darkness, pulling Richie away. “Eddie!” he screams, reaching, and Eddie moves just a beat too slow, fingers just barely managing to brush against Richie’s before he disappears into the darkness.

Eddie wakes up, then, a scream trapped in his throat, sweaty and shaking. He reaches for his phone and dials Bev’s number.

“Hey, Eddie,” says Bev when she picks up, her voice light. In the background, Eddie can hear a dog barking, Ben laughing and calling go fetch. “Something up?”

“How did you know?” he asks.

“What?” Bev asks.

“That your dreams weren’t just dreams,” says Eddie, thinking about Richie, cold lips pressing against his forehead. His body had been cool against Eddie’s, and he’d been missing a heartbeat, but it had felt so real.

Bev doesn’t say anything, for a long moment. Over the phone, he hears the click of a lighter. “I don’t know how to explain it,” she says, at last. “Tell me what you dreamed.”

“Richie,” he says. “I dreamed about Richie.” And then he tells her about the dream that started all this, about this new one he’s just woken up from. “And then I called you,” he finishes, “because out of all of us you’re the one with the most experience in—in weird prophetic dreams. Is this one?”

“When Richie shows up in your dreams, what does he usually look like?”

“Uh, himself?”

There’s a breath on the other end of the line, like Bev’s steeling herself. “What did he look like in these dreams?” she asks.

Eddie’s about to say himself when he thinks—not quite. Richie had been scared in all his dreams, trying desperately to reach him before It pulled him back, but it had only been this dream where he’d gotten a good look at him, gotten a good feel.

“He’d been cold,” says Eddie, slowly. “Like he was dead a while, just hadn’t decomposed. He had a gaping hole in his chest, and his glasses were cracked. And—Bev, I think his eyes had these little gold flecks in them.” Like Its, he remembers, suddenly, his brain calling up the memory of It looming over him, biting at his fingers, its eyes golden.

“And he said,” says Bev, softly, “that It left a ghost?”

“Uh, yeah,” says Eddie.

“Ghosts can possess people.”

“Oh,” says Eddie. “Fuck. Wait, does that mean I’ve been—”

“I don’t know,” says Bev. “I don’t think It’s trying to contact you. I think it’s Richie,” and her voice trips over his name, “and I think he’s telling the truth when he says he needs help. But I’m only guessing, I don’t know for sure.”

“But we have to tell the rest,” says Eddie.

“Yeah,” says Bev. “Ben and I can fly to England and pick Bill up, then we can get to New York this weekend. Mike and Stan?”

“I was already meeting with them anyway,” says Eddie, running a hand through his hair. “For drinks. I can just drop the bad news on them before the weekend.”

“If anything changes,” says Bev, “let me know?”

“I will,” Eddie promises. “See you this weekend, Bev.”

“See you,” Bev echoes, and ends the call. Eddie puts it off to the side and lies back in bed, looking up at the ceiling.

“Rich,” he says, softly, “are you okay?”

No answer. Not even a mocking laugh. The farther away they are from Derry, the harder it is to communicate with Richie. He can only hope Richie will try again, next dream he has. He can only hope there’s enough of Richie left to try again.

--

Stan takes it well when Eddie calls him to tell him. Well, compared to the last time anyway, when he’d very nearly tried to kill himself. This time he treats Eddie’s ears to some creative Yiddish cursing, instead, before saying, “Right, we’ll just make our hang-out a Losers’ Club reunion this weekend, huh?”

“Yep,” says Eddie, massaging his temples. His sleep is well and truly shot now, so he’s just making himself a cup of coffee while waiting for the New York sky to grow lighter and making calls. Then he adds, “Do you—Do you feel like, uh, taking a bath right now?”

“I appreciate that you’re trying to be tactful about it, at least,” says Stan, dryly. “No, I’m not planning to. I mean, it’s Richie. He’s the least scary person I know. And if he warned you, that means he’s still in there.”

Mike, when Eddie calls him, says as much too. “Should’ve figured It had a final trick up its sleeve,” he says, “but that Richie warned you—that’s good. It means he’s still Richie, at least partly.”

Partly?” says Eddie, the word coming out harsher than he means to. “Shit. Sorry. What do you mean partly?”

“I mean that It is possessing him right now,” says Mike. “Because we killed Its body, and it found a new one.”

“In Richie’s body,” says Eddie, softly, the horror of it sinking in. Morbidly he wonders how Richie must’ve felt, waking up in the dark, dank pit of the cistern only to realize that something else, something dark and evil and other, was inside his body too.

Mike says, quietly, voice cracking, “I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be,” says Eddie, knowing instantly what he means. Mike and Ben, who had a broken rib, had to pull him away from Richie, had to tell him they couldn’t afford to lose any more time, the house was coming down around them, he had to leave the body, that’s not Richie anymore, Eddie, we have to go. “God, no, don’t be, okay? We couldn’t do anything, Stan needed our help more.” Stan had passed out from blood loss on the sidewalk as the house collapsed, and the rest of the Losers were injured, and exhausted, and heartbroken. Later the injuries would mysteriously heal while in the hospital, and Eddie had thought that the last of the magic It had left over.

“Yeah, but—”

“No,” says Eddie, firmly. “Mike. We are going to get Richie back from It. Somehow. And we need you to not blame yourself for not knowing this was going to happen—we killed It! We killed the shit out of it so well it’s a ghost possessing someone fighting it, it’s that desperate.” It’s admirable how much he believes it, really, considering—well, when he thinks about it. It’s really Eddie’s own fault. If he hadn’t turned his back on It then maybe Richie wouldn’t be in this mess. Maybe all seven of them would’ve gotten out of the house on Neibolt Street. “We’ll get him back,” he says, optimistically.

“We’ll get him back,” Mike echoes, sounding more sure of himself now. “Yeah. And then we’re gonna bust up a clown ghost.”

“Who you gonna call,” says Eddie, wryly.

“Losers’ Club,” says Mike, his voice a little off-key.

After that, the sky has grown light, so Eddie pulls on his running shoes and goes for a run.

--

Richie thinks he must be going mad, down in the dark.

Anyone would be, he supposes, if they were dead and then suddenly possessed by a demon alien clown. Things leave ghosts, and It is the type of ghost that does not want to go peacefully into the light. Richie’s a ghost, and weeks (months, years, time is strange in the dark) have passed and he wants to go, wants to get out. Wants to go into the light, or at least haunt anywhere else but Derry’s sewers.

But It is in him, moving under his skin, turning him into something less than human. (more than, he thinks sometimes, and pukes at the thought.) It brought him back because it needed a new body, and since then Richie’s been down here, in the sewers, in the dark, talking to himself. How long has he been here? Ten months? Ten years? He doesn’t know anymore. It’s a jealous thing, won’t let him take a step out into the sunshine no matter how much he shouts or curses or even begs.

stay with me, It says in the back of his mind now, as he peeks out of the storm drain. i’m always here for you richie. not like your friends. they left you down here, all alone, but i saw you. i’ve always seen you.

“Fucking shut up, creep,” Richie mutters, scratching the back of his head with more force than strictly necessary. “I gotta get out of here, I’m—”

hungry? starving? you’re a growing boy, you need food. He smells ham, all of a sudden, the fragrant sizzle of it cooking slowly in the pan invading his nostrils. God, he wants it, so badly, his stomach rumbling with hunger. how about that one? It continues, swinging Richie’s head around to show him the chubby young girl descending from her bike.

“What the fuck is wrong with you?!” Richie snaps, clapping a hand over his own mouth and stepping backward to the sound of Its tittering laughter trying to escape from him. “Fuck, no, shut the fuck up, you stupid hell-clown, I’m not eating anyone!”

just a little taste of her fear, It croons, and flashes something in his mind: a fly buzzing about, landing on a man, changing him from man to something else. Who the fuck let this kid watch such a weird movie, Richie wonders, and feels sick at the thought. How does he know she’s scared of that? it’ll taste so good richie and don’t you want company? don’t you want a friend? she can float with you!

“I’m forty,” says Richie, trying not to hurl on his own feet, “if I wanted company I’d go on Grindr, I wouldn’t talk to some kid, you dumb fucker.” He shuts his eyes against the blinding pain, against It trying to—to force fly wings out of his back, turn his eyes into bulging fragmented fly eyes. “No,” he says, and with a monumental amount of effort, takes one step back from the grate. Then two. “No one’s floating. Not her, nobody else.”

what about eddie?

“You lay a fucking hand on Eddie Kaspbrak,” Richie snarls, “and I swear to god I’ll rip my own heart out.”

you can’t keep him safe forever, not from me, not from you, It says, singsong. he doesn’t want you anyway, he left you down here, with me. you told him you loved him and he left you, threw you away like so much trash.

They had to drag me away, Eddie had said, and he’d hugged Richie first, hadn’t cared about the gaping hole in his chest or the dirt on his pants. He’d been grieving Richie. We all miss you.

“Fuck you, clown,” says Richie, holding on to that memory. He is missed, he is loved. Hopefully, the Losers will be coming, and if there’s anyone Richie can trust to defeat It again, it’s them. He scrubs a hand over his face, then frowns. Shit. Teeth. He concentrates, digging up the last time he saw himself in a mirror, back when he was still alive, and turns the sharpened, knife-like rows of teeth into his mouth into something more human.

He turns away from the sewer grate, and starts walking back to the cistern.

There’s something he needs to find.

--

As per usual for the Losers, the second they get back together, they commandeer an entire table and descend into chaos.

“Guillermo fucking del Toro, seriously?” Eddie asks Bill, shoving lightly at his side. “You fucking bastard, you could’ve just said something in the group chat! Congrats, man!”

“Thanks,” says Bill, laughing. “Audra’s been smug for weeks since he got attached to the project, we’re planning to meet with him and the casting director in December. I wanna make sure they get the casting right, y’know?” He casts a look around at the six of them, his smile falling a little when his eyes land on Richie’s empty chair. “But del Toro’s damn good, I don’t doubt he’ll make something good out of Homecoming Queen.”

“Honestly, that was one of my least favorite books,” says Bev. She holds her hands up as Bill tosses a bit of rice her way, and says, with a laugh, “You’ve met women, Bill! You’ve talked to women!”

“I know, I know,” says Bill. “I was young, I was just starting out, it was my first real book.”

“Still, Guillermo del Toro,” says Mike. “That’s a good pick. I loved his Hellboy movies, they were fun.”

“I got around to watching Crimson Peak last week with Patty, it was terrifying as fuck,” says Stan. “Fun, though.”

“I watched Pan’s Labyrinth when it came out,” Ben says. “It was some affecting stuff. You’re in good hands, Bill.”

“Hey, also, Bev, Audra loves the dress you sent her,” Bill adds, propping his chin up on her hand. “She’s planning to wear it to her next red carpet, what do you want her to say when people ask her who she’s wearing?”

“A Beverly Marsh original,” says Bev, a corner of her mouth quirking upwards.

Seven glasses and several bottles of liquor come around. Eddie pours Richie’s glass to half-full, and places it in front of the empty chair. Like Richie’s going to come here, grinning brightly, bitching about traffic and being late to the party. Like Richie isn’t trapped in Derry, possessed by It.

“So,” says Bill. “Eddie—has Richie tried to talk to you again?”

“A couple of times,” says Eddie. “Usually doesn’t last long, though. He says the connection’s fucked, because I’m so far from Derry.” He takes a sip of his own beer. “Has he tried to talk to you guys?”

“Yeah,” says Bev. “On the flight here, I dreamed of him, in the apartment my dad and I used to share. He looked like what you described, Eddie.” She tucks her hair behind her ear, and says, “He was—cold to the touch. And scared, so scared. He was begging for help. He said that It left a ghost behind, that it was trying to come back using him.” Her fingers tap against the glass, and she says, “He said he didn’t blame us. He just wanted us to be okay. He mentioned he trusted us to defeat It again, if we had to. I think he was going to say more, but then blood started gushing from the faucet, and It…took him. It all went by so fast, I couldn’t grab him.”

He was screaming when It pulled him back, she doesn’t say.

“So he isn’t far gone yet, if he’s trying to warn us,” says Mike.

“How many times are we going to have to kill this fucking clown?” Stan mutters, massaging his temples. “Anyone else dreamed of Richie, besides Eddie and Bev? Because I’ve been having some strange dreams, too. Just—not as clear as Eddie and Bev’s are.”

“I think he tried with me,” says Bill. “But it’s like Beverly and Eddie said, the farther you are from Derry, the shittier the connection is.”

“So one of us,” says Ben, quietly, “might have to go back to Derry.”

Mike lets out a breath, and says, “I could—”

“No,” says Bill. “No, Mike, you’ve done enough. You don’t have to go back to Derry.”

“Who else will?” Mike asks, and he doesn’t even sound or look pissed, just—sad and resigned. “Someone’s got to keep an eye on things. On Richie. I can just move into the barn, do my research there.”

“Actually,” says Eddie, staring at the empty chair, at the half-full glass. Richie had reached for him, first. Had stretched a hand out to him as It dragged him into the sewers, into the dark, screaming, pleading, help me, Eddie, please, you have to help me. “I could go back.” He looks up now to see shocked faces all around, and smiles tightly. “I’m unemployed and divorced,” he says. “I can find a job in Derry, find a cheap place to stay in for the time being. Or Mike’s barn, if he’s fine with me deep-cleaning the place.”

“Okay, no,” starts Mike.

“You have something good out here, Mike,” says Eddie. “You have—You’ve got a road trip, you’re away from Derry, the rest of you all have lives. Me?” He shrugs. “Almost everyone who’s going to miss me is in this room, at this table, and I’d be going to the one who’s not here.”

“You don’t have to go,” says Stan.

“Yeah, I do,” says Eddie. “I’m the first person he reached out to.” Richie had scrabbled against the pavement, trying to get to him. “I’d have to tell my lawyers I’m moving to Derry, and any meetings they and Myra’s lawyers need to have with me are going to have to be done via Skype, but—I can go.” He smiles at his friends, at his family, these people he loves so much, and knows—to spare them from Derry, from It, he’ll do anything. To save Richie, he’ll do anything. “I’ll keep in touch,” he says. “Keep you guys updated.”

“Eddie,” says Ben, “if you want, if you’re hell-bent on this—I can see if there’s a place in Derry. Make sure you have a bed, a roof, some place to sleep in that you don’t have to pay for.” He smiles, tiredly, and says, “I’ll make sure you don’t have to deep-clean too much.”

“I can call Ms. Jamison at the library,” says Mike, “see if she’s willing to let you take a job there. Or at least let you in after hours for research.”

And just like that, they’ve started making plans to help Eddie pack up his life and move to Derry, to find some way they can save Richie. Bev mentions checking out other libraries, maybe there’s a method there we can use, and Mike pulls out his road trip itinerary and starts adding occult libraries into the mix. Bill offers to loan Eddie some money if he needs it, Ben’s already googling properties in Derry and asking for Eddie’s approval. Stan buys Eddie more drinks, in the accurate opinion that Eddie is going to need a lot of drinks.

We’re gonna get you back, Rich, Eddie thinks, desperately, trying to push the thought out of his head and all the way to Derry somehow. The empty chair is not going to be empty for a minute longer than absolutely necessary, not on Eddie’s watch. We’ll save you. Just hang in there. We’re getting you back.

We’re getting you back.