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Can't Come To The Phone

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“So, you and Heather Holloway, huh?” Richie asks, bumping his shoulder into Eddie’s.

They’re sitting shoulder to shoulder at the foot of Richie’s bed in his room, their homework spread out around them. Eddie’s got his notebook in his lap, furiously scribbling away at its pages, while Richie’s doodling in the margins of his own, homework all but forgotten for him.

Eddie feels himself flush at Richie’s prodding question, despite the fact that there isn’t anything to even question in the first place. He and Heather Holloway aren’t dating; hell, he’s barely spoken a whole sentence to her, really. She’s older , an eight grader, and she’s way smarter than Eddie, too. She doesn’t carry an inhaler or have a calculator watch that beeps every two hours, and she doesn’t have run ins with Henry Bowers and his nasty gang either. 

“What about her?” Eddie asks, jutting his chin out challengingly, as if daring Richie to crack a rude joke about her.

Richie ignores Eddie’s attempt at being tough and quirks an eyebrow at him instead. “Aw, c’mon, don’t get all shy on me now, Eds,” he laughs. 

Eddie’s nose scrunches up at the nickname. “Don’t call me that.”

“What’s the deal with you two?” Richie presses, ignoring Eddie’s protests. He nudges Eddie’s arm again and puts on a truly terrible southern belle accent. “Whaahhy, you can tell me, sugah. I won’t tell a soul.” 

When that doesn’t earn him anything more than a roll of Eddie’s eyes, Richie dumps his notebook out of his lap and turns so he’s facing Eddie, then reaches out to tug on his sleeve. “I saw her looking at you the other day in class,” he says, voice back to normal.

Eddie’s blush spreads down his neck and colors the tips of his ears even brighter. Heather Holloway was looking at him? He ducks his head, a little embarrassed, and shrugs. “Don’t be dumb, Rich,” he says, shaking his head. “Heather doesn’t like me. She’s an eighth grader, and I’m just in seventh grade,” he scoffs, as if that was a good enough reason for Heather not to like him. And if that wasn’t enough there’s a whole laundry list of other reasons why, but Eddie doesn’t feel like going there. 

“That’s what you think,” Richie retorts smartly, leaning back against the footboard of his bed. He crosses his arms over his chest and a smug little look takes over his face. “ I think she likes you. I think she likes you a lot .” Then suddenly he’s all up in Eddie’s space, fingers pinching at Eddie’s cheeks. “I think she thinks you’re cute, cute, cute !”

Eddie thrashes his arms out, grabbing at Richie’s wrists and pushing at his arms to get him off of him. “Hey, quit it, asshole!” He cries, kicking out a foot. It barely even connects with Richie’s thigh and does absolutely nothing to stop him. “Fuck off!”

“I bet she wants to kiss you !” Richie puckers his lips teasingly at Eddie, making overdramatic kissing noises. He starts to lean in too, like he’s going to start pressing smacking, wet kisses to Eddie’s red red red cheeks, but Eddie manages to get both hands square on Richie’s chest and give him a good shove before he can. Richie tumbles off of him and onto the floor, where he sprawls out on his back and laughs until he catches his breath.

Eddie, properly flustered, frowns down at Richie, his words reverberating through his brain. He doesn’t really know what he’s supposed to say back to that. Heather Holloway liking him? Heather Holloway wanting to kiss him? It would be… honestly a bit of a miracle if anyone liked him in that way. And that’s… kind of an exciting thought. Truth be told, he never really thought anyone could feel that way about him. At least not now. But as exciting as it is, it also makes Eddie’s skin crawl. Because someone liking him means that he’ll have to do boyfriend things. Things like holding her hand, or worse, kissing her .

And… those things have never really been appealing to Eddie in the first place. But he doesn’t think he really wants to do them with Heather. He doesn’t like her. Not like that, anyways. She’s nice to him in class, but it’s never made him feel any certain way. Other than relieved, maybe. It is kind of nice to have someone other than the Losers that doesn’t make fun of him. But other than that, Eddie’s never had his heart start racing in his chest, no stomach flip flopping in a good way. None of the things Ben and Bill always talk about happening when they look at the pretty girls in their class. Eddie hasn’t felt anything like that around her. 

He can’t help the way his brows furrow together and his frown deepens. He probably ought to like her like that. He probably ought to want to hold her hand and kiss her. 

Maybe it’s just the germs making him feel that way. All that boyfriend-girlfriend stuff is just one big breeding ground for germs and bacteria. Or so his mommy’s always told him. You never know where a person’s hand has been, Eddie-Bear. Touching the desks and the bathrooms and who knows what else at that school. His mother had always shaken her head disapprovingly, mouth twisted up bitterly as she warned him. And if the rest of the girls are like that Beverly Marsh, you’ll want to positively stay away from kissing them. Who knows how many diseases they’re carrying around in that lip gloss?

“Hey, Spaghetti, what’s that look for?” Richie asks, tugging on Eddie’s sleeve again.

Eddie chews on his lower lip and picks at a loose thread at the seam of his jeans. He doesn’t bother telling Richie off for the nickname this time. “It’s just..” he starts. “I don’t… I’ve never had a girlfriend before,” Eddie sighs. “I don’t know how any of that works. And I haven’t… I’ve never kissed anyone before, Rich. My mother always said it’s… too germy… what if she wants to kiss me? What am I supposed to do? I don’t know if I want to do that. I don’t even know how to do it!” There’s a hint of a desperate sort of panic to his voice as it jumps up an octave and comes out even quicker than usual. Eddie can’t help it, though. They’re honest fears of his. 

Though it’s not something he expects Richie to understand. Richie’s not worried about germs and bacteria like that. And he’s already kissed a girl. Two girls, actually. One of them was Bev, on a dare, but she’s still a girl and it was still a kiss, so it counts. Point is, Richie knows what he’s doing, unlike Eddie.

Richie’s brows furrow and he sits up before shuffling over to Eddie. He gently touches Eddie’s arm, breathing with him until he works himself back down from the edge of an asthma attack.  

When Eddie’s finally able to breathe properly again, his eyes settle on Richie’s face. There’s an almost contemplative look on it, like he’s trying to do some hard mental math. For a moment, Eddie thinks maybe he’s gone back to their homework. Maybe he’s bored with Eddie’s fear or thinks it’s silly. Eddie wouldn’t blame him.

“I could teach you how,” Richie offers, catching Eddie off guard. “If you want.”

“I— you— what ?” Eddie stammers, head snapping up so fast the back of his neck almost smacks into the bedpost. 

Richie nods, looking firm about his proposal. “Yeah, I can teach you,” he repeats. “Show ya how it’s done,” he adds in a goofy voice. “That way you know how and Heather won’t dump you. I’ll even go brush my teeth for you, or chew a whole pack of gum before if ya want.”

Eddie frowns. “Me and Heather aren't even dating,” he points out.

Richie just waves that off. “Potayto, potahto,” he says. “Besides, once I teach you how to kiss she’ll definitely want to be your girlfriend. I’m a pro at this; they don’t call me Trashmouth for nothing.” Richie sends Eddie an impish grin and winks, too. The wink is more of an overexaggerated blink on one side, and it looks a little ridiculous thanks to the way his glasses magnify his eyes, but it helps Eddie relax about Richie’s offer.

“Nobody calls you Trashmouth because of your kissing, dipshit,” Eddie replies, laughing a little.

Richie just grins wider. “Ah, but that’s just what you think,” he says, wiggling his eyebrows at Eddie. “Patience, young grasshopper, your eyes shall be opened to the truth soon enough,” he adds in an overdramatic voice. Eddie thinks it’s supposed to be the British guy voice, the one he hates so much, but it’s so bad he can’t tell for certain.

But before any eye opening can even begin, Richie jumps to his feet and races out of the room, leaving a confused Eddie all alone on the floor.

He returns a few minutes later, wiping an arm across his mouth as he lowers himself to the ground in front of Eddie again and crosses his legs as he sits. There’s a lopsided grin on his face and something blue at the corner of his lips. 

Eddie narrows his eyes at it. “Where the hell did you just go?” He demands.

“I brushed my teeth?” Richie responds, the duh heavily implied. “I said I would.” He wipes at his mouth again, this time catching the spot of blue— toothpaste, Eddie realizes.

“O-oh,” he says. Something in his chest flops and he feels a little floaty for a second. Eddie can’t quite place this new feeling, so he chalks it up to being nervous about the kissing that’s to come.

“O...kay,” Eddie says slowly after a moment of collecting himself. He sits up straighter. “How are… how are we gonna do this?” He asks, glancing around at their textbooks and papers.

Richie sits up, clearly pleased that Eddie’s actually agreeing to go along with this. He scrambles onto his knees and works on clearing up some space around them by closing the textbooks and piling their papers as quickly as he can before shoving them all to the side. Then he turns towards Eddie and shuffles closer, still on his knees.

“Okay, you gotta sit up, too, Kaspbrak. I can’t do all the work myself,” Richie requests when Eddie doesn’t move and just stares up at him.

Eddie nods and lifts himself onto his knees as well. A sudden wave of nerves washes over him and he wipes his palms on the side of his shorts. He doesn’t know why he’s so nervous. It’s not like this is Heather Holloway in front of him. It’s just Richie. And maybe that’s why. Maybe it’s because he’s a boy , Eddie’s brain supplies, but Eddie shoves that back where it came from because no , it has nothing to do with that. Eddie doesn’t like Richie like that, doesn’t even like boys like that for that matter, but Richie being a boy isn’t what’s making him nervous. He doesn’t care that Richie’s a boy. No matter what his mother’s spoon fed him to believe about those kinds of people. Eddie doesn’t believe her, anyways. It’s just another thing she’s tried to scare him about. But Eddie doesn’t fall for that shit anymore.

And besides, it’s just a little practice between two friends. It’s not like it’s going to mean anything.

“Alright,” Richie says once Eddie’s positioned himself in front of him. “Welcome to the Trashmouth School of Sucking Face,” he declares in his very best announcer cadence. “By the time I’m done with you you’ll be a pro!”

Eddie rolls his eyes at that. But he can’t help the pinkness that rises to the tips of his ears and spreads faintly across the bridge of his nose. They’re really doing this.

“The most important rule about kissing is that she knows it’s gonna happen,” Richie continues. “Now, there are some girls that like a good surprise— your mom certainly does, that’s how I got— hey !” Richie cries when Eddie gives him a good shove for the comment. He really should have expected that. “Is that any way to treat your professor?”

“You’re an asshole, not a professor,” Eddie retorts, pressing his lips into a thin line. “Are you gonna teach me how to kiss or are you gonna make passes at my mom the whole time? ‘Cause if that’s the case, tell me now, and I’ll save us both our time.”

Richie’s hands shoot out to grab at Eddie’s shoulders, keeping him from moving. “No no no. Don’t leave! I’m done, that was the last one! I swear it!” Richie crosses his heart and then holds up his hand in a mock scout’s honor salute.

Eddie stifles a laugh at that. Richie’s never been a scout a day in his life. But he believes him nonetheless. Despite contrary belief, Richie does know when to stop. Eddie puts on a show of sighing and finally relenting. “That better be,” he says and waves a hand at Richie. “Go on.”

“Okay. Right. So. When you’re with a girl you wanna make her feel special. They really eat that shit up. Something like this:” Richie crowds into Eddie’s space and lifts a hand towards Eddie’s face.

Out of instinct, Eddie flinches away a little.

Richie snorts. “Relax, Spaghetti Head, I’m not giving you a wet willy.” 

He brings his hand up to Eddie’s cheek. It’s a little cold, a little clammy, but Eddie tries to ignore that and focus on Richie’s words. Richie pastes an overly charming smile on and bats his eyelashes behind the frames of his glasses. It’s completely over the top, and he tilts his head coquettishly to complete the picture. “Gosh, you sure look pretty tonight, Eds,” Richie sighs all dreamlike.

Eddie’s face flames and he gives Richie a good shove. “Fuck off!” He shouts. “Be serious, asshole!”

Richie doubles over in a fit of giggles that has Eddie frowning at him even harder. “I am being serious!” He manages to wheeze between his laughs. 

When he finally reigns himself in and the laughter subsides, a sober expression takes over. “Okay okay,” he says, pushing his glasses back up the bridge of his nose. “I’m done. I’m sorry,” he says, but he doesn’t sound sorry at all. “I meant that, though. You gotta butter them up otherwise you’ll never get anywhere.” 

He repositions himself in front of Eddie, even closer than before, so it seems. “It’s okay to touch her, but don’t be a perv about it. Just keep your hands in one spot,” he adds. To prove his point, Richie reaches out and places one hand on Eddie’s hip.

Eddie’s skin is hot under Richie’s touch, and where his shirt rides up a little and Richie’s palm presses directly against the bare skin, it practically burns. Eddie’s not sure what it means, but he likes the way it feels. 

“When you finally go in for the money shot, you gotta tilt your head a little so your noses don’t smash together. That hurts like a bitch. I swore Bev almost broke my nose that way.” Richie snorts at the memory. “Oh, and keep your eyes closed, too. I don’t know why, but everyone does it. Probably so it’s not weird.” Richie shrugs.

Eddie’s mind feels like it’s spinning. “That’s a lot to remember,” he says nervously.

“Kissing's easy peasy, Eds, I promise,” Richie reassures. “All you have to do is put your mouth on her mouth, swap a little spit, and that’s it.”

Eddie’s nose scrunches up at that and he resists the urge to gag a little. He doesn’t want to swap spit with anyone . He likes his own spit, and his own spit only , in his mouth, thanks very much.

“You might want to keep your mouth closed, though. I heard my sister talking on the phone about how Tyler Newsom put his tongue in her mouth, and I’ve never tried it, but,” Richie pauses for a second, then leans in a little closer, like he’s telling Eddie a secret, “it sounds gross as shit. Tongues are slimy, man.” Richie makes a face that, ironically, includes him sticking his tongue out. “Don’t tell anyone I said that,” he adds.

Eddie nods, but he’s too focused on the idea of someone sticking their tongue into his mouth to really comprehend what he’s promising. The urge to gag returns tenfold.

“Don’t worry about it, Spaghetti. I’m not gonna do that,” Richie reassures, as if he senses Eddie’s pique in panic. “You wanna try it now?”

Does Eddie want to try it now? He’s still nervous, still a little overwhelmed trying to keep track of everything Richie’s told him, but he does want to try. After all, the only way he can learn is by putting his newfound knowledge to the test, right? So he straightens up and puffs out his chest, then nods. “Let’s try it,” he consents.

The bright smile that pops onto Richie’s face eases Eddie’s anxiety, and some of the tension in his shoulders seeps out when Richie lifts the hand not on Eddie’s hip to cup his cheek again. Eddie practically melts into the touch, his eyelids fluttering on their own accord already. He remembers that he should be practicing his own touch, so he reaches out and places his hands onto either one of Richie’s shoulders. He likes the way they feel under his hands, firm and strong.

“You’re a natural already,” Richie murmurs. His mouth is curved into an encouraging smile, and suddenly it’s all Eddie can see; he can’t take his eyes off of Richie’s lips. “M’gonna kiss you now, m’kay?”

All Eddie can do is nod jerkily. He sees Richie’s eyes slip shut, and he follows his lead, letting his own close as well. Eddie’s vaguely aware of just how close Richie’s face is to his, he can smell the minty fresh toothpaste on his breath as it washes over his face. Normally he’d be grossed out by that, but right now he finds he doesn’t mind. It isn’t until a soft pair of lips are brushing up against his, feather light, that he registers that this is really happening. He’s kissing someone!

Richie’s lips start out faint, just a barely there brush, but after a few seconds he presses closer. It’s an odd sensation, certainly nothing Eddie’s used to, but he finds that he likes it. He likes it a lot. The pressure feels nice, and Richie’s lips are supple and slightly wet against his own.

It doesn’t last long at all before Richie’s pulling back, leaving Eddie feeling a little dazed. Richie’s hand slips from Eddie’s cheek, and Eddie hears him chuckle.

“You can open your eyes now,” Richie says.

When Eddie does, he’s met with the sight of a grinning Richie. He’s still close, close enough that Eddie can see the freckles speckling across his nose and cheeks, can see the slight fog of his glasses, can clearly see that Richie’s lips have a certain shine to them and a hint more color, too. They’re pretty, really pretty. Huh.

“So,” Richie starts, flicking his eyebrows up. “Your first kiss— how was it? Did I give you everything you could have ever dreamed of?”

Eddie pauses to think on it. “It was… good,” he decides, then nods to confirm his conclusion. “It was good.”

“Well, thanks, Eds,” Richie replies smugly. “You weren’t so bad yourself. Though, I hate to burst your bubble, but you don’t hold a candle to the sweet, gentle kisses your mothe—”

Richie I swear to god !”

Richie holds up his hands before Eddie can throw any harmless punches, and he backs up out of Eddie’s space. “Right, right. Forgot, I forgot!”

The warmth of Richie’s body now missing, Eddie kind of regrets making a big deal over that. He liked the way Richie’s body felt against his own; the closeness was nice. He has to bite back the smile of his own that tugs at his freshly kissed lips. No way he’s letting Richie know just how much he enjoyed it. He’d never hear the end of that. “Hey, Rich?” He asks. “D’you think we could… try it again?”

“Sure,” Richie responds, nodding. “Practice makes perfect, right? And I know I’m pretty damn close to perfect, but a little extra practice never hurt no one.”

“Does anything cool ever come out of your mouth?” Eddie asks, rolling his eyes.

Richie pouts “Aw, Eds, baby, I thought you didn’t wanna try it with tongue.” He winks lecherously, then starts to cackle when Eddie glares at him.

Once Richie calms down again, they shuffle back into position. This time Eddie feels less nervous about what’s going to happen. In fact, he’s looking forward to it, eager for it to happen.

“You take the lead this time,” Richie suggests. “It’ll be good practice.”

Eddie nods and brings one hand up to curl around Richie’s waist and the other to his cheek— just like Richie had touched him earlier. Taking initiative is easier than he thought, and before he knows it, Eddie’s leaning in, eyelashes fluttering against his cheek, and his lips are meeting Richie’s again.

The gentle brush of lips is shorter this time, before Eddie presses his mouth more insistently against Richie’s.

But just like the first, the second doesn’t last much longer than a few seconds. And thankfully, too.

They’ve only just split apart when Richie’s bedroom door flies open and Bridget Tozier bursts in. “Richie!” She yells as Eddie and Richie jump out of each other’s space. Bridget doesn’t look up from where she’s punching in some numbers on her big block of a cell phone. “Dinner’s ready! Mom said you and Eddie have to help set the table.” Bridget doesn’t stick around after that, just turns on her heel and flounces back to the kitchen.

Eddie’s heart hammers in his chest, and he lets out a breath, followed by a tumble of adrenaline-spiked giggles. He and Richie share a look and their laughter only doubles.

“Fuck, that was close,” Richie says, sagging back against his dresser. “Can you imagine the shit show Bridge woulda put up?” 

“You’re telling me!” Eddie responds, shaking his head in disbelief. 

“Come on,” Richie starts, hopping to his feet. He stops in front of Eddie and holds out a hand. “All that makin’ out’s made me hungry.” A lopsided grin takes over his face.

Eddie snorts and places his hand into Richie’s letting himself be helped up. “Me too,” he agrees.

“I’m so hungry I could eat a horse— no, I could eat your whole mom !” Richie shrieks with laughter as he drops Eddie’s hand and bolts down the stairs to escape Eddie’s inevitable wrath.

“Richie, you fu— brat!” Eddie hollers before racing after him like a bat out of hell.

And as he chases after his best friend, Eddie shoves those weird, lingering feelings stirred up by their two kisses to the back of his mind. He can deal with those later.