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Call Me Anything (But Alright)

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“Three months,” Richie croaks. His beer leaves a ring of condescension on the table surface when he lifts it. Eddie would hate that; he’d be forcing a coaster on him and lecturing him about lacquered surfaces if he was here. Maybe. “Well, I don’t actually know if he’d say that cause he isn’t fucking here.

“W-what was that last bit?”

Richie jerks his head up and the world tilts on its axis. “Nothin’. Talking to myself.”

Bill sighs from the couch beside him. He clearly cares for the coffee table as little as Richie does, judging by the way he has his bare feet propped up on it. Disgusting, the Eddie in Richie’s mind complains. But Eddie’s not here and Bill keeps his hand that’s not holding his beer bottle resting loosely on Richie’s thigh in what Richie guesses is an attempt to show support, so Richie’s gonna let that slide. “Rich, I‘m sorry, but you’ve gotta give him time.”

“Give who time?” Richie plays up obnoxious ignorance, takes another swig of beer. He’s lost track of how many bottles he’s already gone through tonight. It’s easier than being sincere.

Bill sighs again, stares at him with a gaze that has no business looking so wise. “Rich.”

“Billiam.”

“Rich… ardiam.”

Richie breaks immediately into a genuine wheeze, which is way better than crying like he’d thought he might. “And the award goes to D-d-denbrough for getting off the worst chuck of the night!” He slumps down against Bill’s shoulder and Bill is firm, warm, here - unlike a certain someone Richie definitely isn’t still thinking of.

Three months since Derry and defeating It.

Three months since Eddie stuck his hands in the pockets of his hoodie, not quite meeting Richie’s eyes as he said he was going back to New York to break things off with his wife, and would he maybe be able to stay with Richie after? Just for a little bit?

Three months since Richie had said yeah! Yeah, sure, whatever you need, I’m here for you, man, and Eddie had hugged him tightly in response, breath hot against Richie’s neck as the rough bandage on his cheek bumped against Richie’s stubble, and Richie had thought, oh no.

Thought, oh no, I really do still lo -

Three months and Bill had been the one to move in after his divorce instead of Eddie who was, as far as Richie knew, still shacking up with Myra.

But like. Whatever. It’s not like Richie cares or anything. Not like Richie had immediately made up the cluttered storage room of his house into an actual minimalist spare bedroom or anything. It’s fine. What does he care if he spends his nights getting drunk with Bill watching The Office reruns instead of spooning on the couch with Eddie?

“Fuck.”

“What?”

“What?”

Bill shifts, sits up straighter so Richie’s head falls into his lap. A bit of Richie’s beer spills onto the floorboards at the same time, but whatever. “You’re t-thinking too much,” Bill says. His arm is snug around Richie’s shoulders.

Richie says “What the fuck does Eddie’s wife have that I don’t?” and immediately regrets it. Immediately wants to grab a throw pillow and scream into it so he doesn’t have to look at Bill right now.

It’s not the fucking coming out Richie had ever considered. Not that he's been exactly coy around Bill with his disappointment that Eddie hasn't shown up on his doorstep yet, suitcases in hand. Some small part of him, the part of him he hates acknowledging the existence of because it's reckless and refuses to consider consquences, whispers to him that the Losers have known since Eddie clambered into a hammock with him, chattering away like a feral monkey and all Richie could do was stare in awe. That little part of him tells him he should have just fessed up already, and Richie kinda wishes he had listened to that voice now.

Instead of shoving him away or something, Bill tightens his arm around Richie. “I d-d-d… fuck, I dunno.” Despite the stutter - or maybe because of it, because it’s what defines Bill for the Losers - his voice is strong. “You’re at least funny sometimes. B-bet Myra doesn’t have any good chucks.”

Richie forces himself to breathe. “Yeah? You think?”

“Yeah,” Big Bill says. Strong. Richie definitely isn’t crying right now.

-----

The bedroom Richie wakes up in isn’t his own.

He assumes he stumbled into the spare bedroom - Bill’s current bedroom - by mistake, or maybe Bill helped him in here because it was closer to the couch. Thinking of Bill makes Richie press his face into the pillow and groan, but it’s in a good way, an “oh thank fuck, he still loves me, I didn’t weird him out, it’s okay”. Some of the tension Richie’s been holding onto for a solid thirty years is just not there and Richie feels weirdly floaty about it, all disconnected from his physical body. He should buy Bill like, a gift-card or something to say thanks.

The floaty disconnected feeling persists as Richie blearily raises his head from the - pink frilly pillowcase?

Uh. Okay.

Richie’s never seen this pillowcase before; certainly not in his house, and maybe not ever in his lifetime, not unless he’s somehow been transported to his Great-Aunt Gina’s house circa 1992. He shoves himself up onto his elbows so he can study the pillowcase in more detail - would be easier without the weird blonde curtain hanging in front of his eyes… wait.

Wait.

This isn’t his or Bill’s pillow and this isn’t his or Bill’s room, and the hand Richie just moved to touch the frills on the pillow? Definitely not his, unless Bill decided on a whim to shave all the hair from Richie’s knuckles and paint his fingernails a fetching shade of pastel beige.

He moves each finger experimentally and the hand that isn't his responds like it is his. And with that, the disconnection from his physical senses Richie has been experiencing since he woke up takes a sharp right turn straight into dysphoria.

He sits up abruptly and everything about the movement is wrong.

What the fuck? What the fuck?

There’s a wardrobe in the corner of this strange room and there’s a mirror on the wardrobe door and Richie needs to look at himself pronto because from where he’s currently staring, the view is not positive.

“What the fuck what the fuck what the-!” He barely notices he’s chanting it aloud as he kicks at the bedcovers, barely notices his voice is working at a pitch higher than Richie would have thought possible as he stumbles to his feet, barely notices he’s wearing a dress which matches the pillowcase as he darts to the mirror.

He stares. He stares for a long time.

And then he does what any sensible person would do in this situation.

He screams.