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Rich and Eddie Make A Porno

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A metallic groan reverberated through the pipes, the echoes so gutturally disjointed that they shook the thin apartment walls and jolted Richie awake. It couldn’t have been past 7:00 if the crisp morning air was anything to go by, the chill that seeped through the openings in his blankets making him shiver. Slamming his eyes shut did nothing in coaxing sleep back, and he felt his dreams fading out of memory already. 

Distantly, from somewhere down the hall near the restroom, Richie heard his name being shouted.

It was no way to wake up from an otherwise pleasant sleep so Richie thought to punish the perpetrator by taking his time to respond. He shuffled down the hall past the bathroom and blearily tugged out the last two freezer burned Eggos, lazily slamming them into the toaster. 

Another desperate plea drifted from the bathroom, now a bit more stressed, and Richie finally called back innocently, “Eddie?” 

“Richie! Richie!!”

Spending a minute to retrieve his toasted waffle and get a bite in before leaving it stranded on the counter, Richie knocked on the bathroom door. He mumbled gleefully through his munching, “Hey, so the plunger is still being used to prop up the fire escape outside. If you wanna unclog the toilet, I’m afraid you’re gonna have to bite the bullet and get your whole hand up there.”   

“RICHIE—!”

“If you just focus on wiggling it around, you won’t notice having to touch your own-“

The toilet isn’t clogged, Rich, can you just - AGH, get in here?! And close your eyes.”

Richie poked his head through the door, the steam fogging his glasses just as quickly as the potent, telltale scent of Eddie’s stupid Old Spice body wash warmed his cheeks. “My eyes are closed,” he lied.

“Did the water turn off through the house? Did you get last month’s bill?” 

“No, it was your turn.”

Eddie spat a string of curses. His head poked out of the shower, clutching the curtain like a protective blanket. Rivulets of soapy water flattened his dark hair to his forehead and he slicked it back angrily. He looked like a furious wet dog, and Richie would have grinned if he wasn’t so distracted by the way the residual soap pooled over his friend’s wet collarbone. 

Great, I’ve got a final in forty minutes and shampoo is caked onto my skull - if I leave this in it’s going to dry out my scalp and my dandruff will flare up and it’s not like the cold weather is helping with—"

Richie lifted up the porcelain back of the toilet, retrieving a handful of water from the tank with cupped hands and stalking towards the shower, much to Eddies chagrin. He recoiled, gripping the shower curtain for dear life.

“What are you doing?!”

“Helping you finish your shower, Eds! Because I’m a great friend.”

“Step away, you are not pouring toilet water onto my head.”

“It’s totally sanitary dude, everybody knows that. You could drink it if you wanted, see?” Richie mimed taking a sip. 

Eddie flailed through the shower curtain as his roommate tried to dump the handful of water onto him. “That’s disgusting!! It might not be dirty to you but it’s still - oh, god, ugh I’m gonna wretch if you get that on me!! ” His voice pitched as Richie managed to slosh the cold water onto Eddie’s naked chest after a less-than-graceful dodge, and he disappeared behind the fabric following another trail of expletives. 

“Richie! So not funny, asshole! Get out!”

 So he did. Leaving Eddie to figure out how to manage his shampoo problem, Richie hiked downstairs to start scraping ice off the front of their run-down little Volvo.

As with every winter, Derry was painted with frost, the crisp fogginess of the morning barely admirable against the bleak circumstances of overdue bills and impending rent. Grey snow lined the pavement where wet, half-melted dirt had begun to pool, and Richie shoveled it away from the car’s tires with his boot. The engine sputtered worrisomely, but after a few tries it hummed to life so Richie blasted the heat.

They kept an old, hefty spatula in the backseat (the one that a teenaged Eddie had partially melted the time he shoved it into a bonfire to fish out Richie’s retainer, which he’d regrettably spit out to try and get a laugh) that had proven itself the best tool for scuffing off layers of morning ice on days like these.

For everything we aren’t, at least we’re resourceful , Richie thought fondly, and scrubbed at the windshield with the fortified spatula until his arm grew sore. 

He and Eddie had lived together consistently for eight years now, even when Eddie was in a serious(ly wretched) relationship. It was an easy thing: childhood best friends, both equally miserable, finding their way into a comfortable routine after all their perpetual failures in life. It had been a struggle to make do - but they always did, somehow. Eddie equated it to his own few-and-in-between successes, discrediting Richie as being no help at all.

But even when he didn’t say it, Richie saw Eddie’s gratefulness in infinite moments across their time together. He saw it in the meals Eddie invited him to share every night; the hot saltwater drink he’d be forced to snort when he had strep throat; the warm brush of knee against knee after sleepless nights talking Eddie through another panic attack; the comfortable way that small form slouched against his shoulder the night their radio broke and Richie sang them shoddy covers on his guitar instead.

At the end of the day, they were an odd couple in their mid-thirties with nowhere to go but down. And if that was how it was going to be, they were content to go down together.

“Oh—FUCK!” 

His boot slid suddenly on a sheen of ice and sidewalk met tailbone as he tumbled down with a loud thud. Trying to stagger to his feet barely helped as he repeatedly slipped around like a clown doing slapstick. He finally managed to steady himself enough to give the car a vengeful kick. 

“Serves you right,” Eddie grumbled from behind him. He scowled at Richie as he waddled over, layered in two thick jackets with a backpack strewn over his shoulder, but there was no venom in his concerned gaze - and it wasn’t just because of the woobifying nature of his hilariously red pompom beanie. 

“I’m fine,” Richie answered the unspoken worry. Eddie didn’t seem to believe him because his scowl darkened and he took one solid look at the seat of Richie’s frost-caked sweatpants. The taller man rubbed his snowy backside and did a little twist, trying to show off just how okay he was. His spine betrayed him with a loud pop.

“You look stupid,” Eddie sniffed.

“An inspired insult, Santa Baby,” Richie flicked the pompom. They tussled for a moment, the kind of stop-hitting-yourself, hand-to-hand combat that a pair of grade schoolers might perform. The instigator won, because Eddie was now being made to hit himself, but the fight ended when all 6 feet 2 inches of Richie came slipping down to the ice once again. This time Eddie had no sympathy and gave a snide little, “Ha!” then slammed the car door closed and veered out of the parking spot without another word.

Still laying on the ground, Richie shouted after him, “Try not to get dandruff all over your test!” 

The apartment was comforting after being outside in the frigid air, but Richie barely cared to slog off his jacket or the snow from his boots as he lumbered into the living room. A buzzing caught his attention and he found his phone buried between the couch cushions where he had passed out last night after their Gilmore Girls marathon. He flipped it open.

Spaghetti: Thanks for literally freezing your ass off to go defrost the car for me
Spaghetti: You didn’t have to
Richie: dont you know that texting while driving is the cause of 85% of ALL deaths in the united states alone?? and 92% of all accidents????! 
Spaghetti: It’s 10%. And I’m at a stoplight 
Spaghetti: But okay, thanks instead for giving me an excuse to stop talking to you 
Richie: lol no prob man good luck on your exam. channel ur inner rory

He tossed the old Motorola aside and popped his half-eaten waffle from earlier back into the toaster, when suddenly, his phone buzzed again… then again - and one more time before it even had a chance to slow down.

Richie scanned the desperate text messages and ripped his waffle from out of the toaster, shoving it into his mouth as he jetted out the door.

--------------------------

“No, I don’t know— the car just hiccuped and stalled there after I texted you. Ughhhh this is so not the time for more car repairs…. Did you make sure to check if the trunk light was off last night when you got back? I know after the fender it’s been like permanently lodged open, but you know the battery drains if you don’t push down on that button in the—“ 

Eddie’s voice was loud in Richie’s ear, blabbering on over the whirling click of their current ride: a rusty old bicycle. They’d bought it from a thrift store when they were young, but both roommates rarely touched it anymore and it had only gotten worse in its disuse.

Still - it was functional, and now they were two grown men stacked together on the bicycle like children, Richie’s long-legged pedaling careening them dangerously past snow piles while Eddie clung to the sides of his coat from the back. It was not the most graceful solution, Richie could acknowledge that, but after the Volvo decided to break down in the middle of the road, cycling was the most reliable way to get Eddie to class on time and Richie back home afterwards.

To quiet the senseless prattle of the nervous wreck behind him, Richie bounced them over a big crack in the sidewalk and received a smack against his arm for interrupting.

“Not while I’m dri— NOT WHILE I’M DRIVING, you lunatic!” Richie waved Eddie’s hand away, trying to blindly return the smack. 

“Maybe you can try not giving me vertigo with your steering?”

“Oh, you mean this like?” he swerved again for effect, but the comedy was lost when the old asphalt road became bumpy and jostled them along aggressively. Eddie’s hands wrapped around Richie’s waist in a tight grip.

Distant teenage memories of insisting it was his turn to bike their group of friends around, if not only so Eddie might cling to him like this, came rushing back and settled heavily in Richie’s heart. He pedaled faster to sooner end the torture of having Eddie’s chest pressed closely against his back every time they veered a little too close towards traffic. 

“Ughhh I’m so gonna be late,” Eddie muttered to himself. The whisper danced over the back of Richie’s neck and he immediately braked the bike, lurching the brunette into his backside with a breathy “OOF! What the hell, Richie?!”

After swinging his gangly limbs off the frame, Richie pushed the bike handles into Eddie’s hands, receiving an incredulous look.

“Two of us on this is slowing you down. Take it and pass your class.”

Eddie looked indignant. “I— what? That’s like a mile at least, I’m not letting you walk home in this weather, it’s fine, just keep cycling, you’ve got the long legs anyway—“

“Time arguing is better spent biking. It’s…” he glanced at his watch, “...almost 7:45 so just jet, okay? These long legs will get me home easy.”

Richie shuffled away before there could be a retort and prayed that if the flush on his cheeks was noticeable, Eddie would think it was just the cold. The sound of the old bike clicking into the distance signaled that he could finally release the breath he’d been holding, and Richie rubbed his face exhaustedly.

A morning with Eddie was never dull.

He repeated to himself (as he always did when his heart fluttered from thoughts of his friend) that he was definitely, happily, perfectly content just being Eddie’s roommate, and would do anything to maintain their comfortable routine.

He spent the walk home mulling over half-baked plans to get some quick cash, save their asses before rent was due, and keep things just the way they were.

Chapter Text

“Shh!”

The shrill hiss came from the 20-something year old glaring daggers at Eddie. He’d been tapping his foot so absentmindedly that he hadn’t noticed how loud it echoed around the classroom and, despite being polite enough to stop, he still returned the glare with equal ferocity.

Eddie was never bothered by the isolation of being the oldest student in class. While he was occasionally dwarfed by someone in their 50’s, he ultimately had forced himself to stop feeling bad about it after frequently being the angry old guy who sat in the front row. He wasn’t here to make friends - he was here to get a degree and get successful and get him and Richie out of Derry once and for all; that was all that mattered.

Sure, it was taking maybe six years longer and a few more trajectory changes than expected, but he was certain that in the next two years he’d make it happen.

He scribbled through his test for the next hour, unable to resist a few intentionally dramatic tap-tap-taps of his pencil to win some angry glares from his desk neighbor.

The adrenaline from the morning’s bad luck had been the fuel to get him to class before doors closed but now that it was evening, Eddie was too fearful to try and navigate the bike across icy streets like Richie did, instead walking briskly to the pace of the clicking wheels beside him. 

Eddie Kaspbrak: Hey, just got out of class. 
Eddie Kaspbrak: I’m walking back right now, did you get home okay?

He walked another block to no reply, got bored waiting at the crosswalk, and sent another message to his roommate.

Eddie Kaspbrak: How’s your ass feeling?

It was meant a jab about that morning’s antics, but he felt a little sheepish in rereading the phrasing, so he added,

Eddie Kaspbrak: I hope bad

Somehow that didn’t make things better, but he gave up on devising a clever way to change the subject when Richie ignored him anyway.

-------------------

The lock on the apartment was undone and as Eddie quietly opened the door he was met with total darkness and a frigid draft. This was uncharacteristic; usually on his days off, Richie would be home with the next disc of whatever TV show they’d rented off Netflix shoved into the DVD player and ready to go.

“...Hello…?” Eddie nervously stepped into the apartment, holding his breath while he grabbed the bat they kept near the refrigerator. A shadow rose up from behind the couch, startling him enough that he yelped and took a blind swing.

“Jesus!! It’s me, Eds!” Richie barely dodged, ducking back behind the couch like he was actually being targeted.

“Why the fuck are you sitting in the dark all alone?”

“It’s not my fault! Well, kind of. No… no, it is our fault,” he sighed. The guy looked absolutely miserable; he was all wrapped up in a huge plaid blanket over his bulky coat, his nose red and a little runny. “Our power got turned off while you were gone.”

“Oh, so you couldn’t charge your phone? That’s why you didn’t text me back.”

That’s what you’re worried about? Priorities, man. We’re fucked, dude, this sucks ,” Richie gestured broadly with an exaggerated sniff. Eddie grimaced then passed him a napkin from the kitchen so he could blow his nose. “Rent is due in like two weeks, I’m flat broke and I’m not expecting any big tips from the bar because nobody even wants to go out in weather like this. We gotta make some money and quick, Eds, we’re gonna get evicted…”

Richie wasn’t even trying to joke around about it, a telltale sign that he was truly stressed. When that little wrinkle formed between his expressive brows, Eddie knew they needed to unwind ASAP. He grabbed Richie’s scarf and tugged him towards the door.

“Well, you’re already dressed for a night on the town. What do you say to drowning our sorrows in a drink?”      

-------------------

For the first time that day they shed their coats, the cozy temperature of the corner pub a warm relief to the duo’s freezing afternoon. They had just enough pocket change for beer, both so stressed from being in dire straits that neither hesitated to immediately dish out. Getting drunk in lieu of thinking about the lack of utilities at home was far more appealing.

“I feel like I’ve worked at every single place in this horrible town and none of them are gonna wanna hire me back,” Richie complained over the noisy drawl of the few loud drunks nearby.

“Maybe if you weren’t such a trashmouth you wouldn’t get serially fired,” sighed Eddie. He didn’t mean to rub it in, but Richie seemed to agree with a dry laugh. “Look, isn’t there any way you could try to drive out of town and see if there’s any movies being made that you could be a production assistant for in, I dunno, Portland, or something?”

“Oh yeah - drive out two hours in our car that broke down this morning? We don’t even have enough money to tow it. Fuck, Eds, they don’t make movies in Maine, why don’t you buy me a ticket to LA with your fucking business degree or whatever.”

“Degree in progress,” he corrected, rubbing his forehead like he was getting a headache. He could tell they were both feeling bitter because they were starting to prod at each other’s sore spots; it wasn’t like Eddie didn’t feel ashamed of the three different degrees he’d had ‘in progress’ that had never come to fruition over the last few years. When things got too overwhelming, he switched gears and started over, always excelling at the start, always floundering terribly at the end. Even so, he reminded himself that he would’ve met another failure if Richie hadn’t done everything he could to get him to his final on time this morning, so he tried to maintain patience and ignore the dig.

“All right well, cute as you look in that stupid apron, your barista job isn’t gonna get us out of debt any faster than my shitty comedies are gonna make us billionaires.”

They both took a big gulp of their beers and sighed at the same time, to which Richie muttered, “Jinx” and Eddie bought him a second glass for it.

“Man, remember at our highschool reunion a couple years back, when that asshole Kyle McDermott called me a fag and said he’d been waiting for me to make a movie just so he could see what a trainwreck it was?” Richie interrupted their sulking with a snort. “Why did we even go to that? We knew it wasn’t gonna be fun.”

“It was kind of fun. We got to see what’s-her-name try to make out with Ben after seeing how handsome he got.”

“Man, everyone was out to kiss him that night. Her name was Allison. You know she tried to make out with me too?”

“Oh, really? Did you?”

No, she’d just made out with Ben and got rejected, I’m nobody’s sloppy seconds. But I did hook up with this really hot girl, what was her name...” Richie furrowed his brow, and then gestured vaguely to try and remind Eddie, “Really hot, little bit older… what was it… you know her, you guys were close…”

“Uhh,” Eddie squinted. He couldn’t recall Richie slipping off with anybody that night, only hazy memories of playing drinking games with him and Mike at their little table in the corner and the feeling of their bodies bumping together in a tipsy group dance when Closing Time was blasted through the gymnasium. And then, he was absolutely certain, Richie had taken him home.

“Best lay I ever had. Sandy blonde hair... honkin’ tits,” Richie went on, gesturing more obscenely now. “Married… she had a son, he’s this angry little dweeb with dark hair and--”

“Oh - shut the fuck up!!” Eddie rolled his eyes, ignoring Richie’s cackling. He spat back, “It’s honestly incredible that for all the nasty stuff you say, you haven’t just made a porno. “

“I did, man, didn’t Mrs. K ever tell you she was a star?”

“Ughhh! Please stop bringing my dead mother into this!” he took a huge swig of his beer and added, “They just wanted to see us ‘homos’ crash and burn.”

Richie laughed again. Eddie didn’t really get it, but somehow reflecting on their shitty old bullies was managing to cheer him up. 

“Well, we kinda did crash and burn,” he chuckled. “But if you really wanted to upset them, all you really had to do was marry your ex and everyone would’ve been soooo bummed to find out you were actually straight all along. Yeah, they’d have been real disappointed then.” He took a sip of his drink.

“Nothing we could do now would impress them. Literally nothing.” 

“There's no universe where I’d be worried about impressing everyone who made our lives hell. But... maybe that lack of driving spite is why we are where we are.” Richie shrugged when Eddie grunted in agreement, feeling a little more uplifted by the fact that despite all their suffering through the years, at least the two of them could always relate to each other.   

“Yeah. The only movie you could make that anyone from our highschool would actually wanna watch would be one that proved guys like Kyle McDermott right.”

There was barely a pause when suddenly, Richie turned to the smaller man with mouth agape.

“Oh. Oh my god, Eds. You’re a genius.” 

“Huh?”

“What if… what if we do that. Prove them right!” Richie flailed his arms and made big dramatic air-quotes, “We prove them ‘right’ and we make a gay porno.”

The sudden exclamation was honestly shocking, and Eddie could only raise his eyebrows and try to process what the hell Richie was saying to him.

“Sex always sells! We have all the tools and talent we need. It’s brilliant. You’re brilliant.” He started pacing in frantic circles, eyes wild with an enthusiasm Eddie hadn’t seen on him for months. “I already have some equipment from just, you know, years of making stupid movies; there’s plenty of strip clubs around and we could pick up some talent - oh, but a budget… oh, no that’s easy I can convince Stan to - oh , and Eddie , you’d be the perfect, twinky spit-fire lead!”

“I’m- I’m sorry, what did you just say?

Leaving no room for Eddie to bristle at him, Richie continued excitedly, “I can fucking see it, it’s so clear: we make a film, a porno, all these assholes who have moved out of our hometown want to see it. Everyone wants to see the kids they bullied in school get hot and fuck, right? They show their friends because how many people can say the losers from their graduating class are pornstars now, and--”

“Richie... I don’t know what world you live in, but no one wants to see me having sex,” Eddie interrupted. It was a stupid point to get hung up on, but the cogs in his head were already struggling to process how this was a good idea at all and Richie volunteering Eddie as some kind of perfect porn star was even more confusing. This was so out of left field.

Richie’s eyes flickered over Eddie before he returned to his manic pacing and ignoring Eddie’s critique. “No, you just said it! It’s everything they don’t know they want. We get coin for every time they got to feel good for writing some evil bullshit on our lockers. Pretend to prove them right, they feel self-righteous so they buy it, and we take their money. And we get the last laugh because they get shameful boners from it. It’s like revenge porn... but it’s our revenge and, like, ethical. It’s gay reparations. ”

“I’m pretty sure I’m not gay.” He meant to say it jokingly, but the ‘pretty sure’ came out strained.

“No, but you’re convincingly twinky.”

Fuck you!”

Eddie was torn between laughing at the absurdity and genuinely considering the idea. It was ridiculous and impossible and so, so embarrassing, but something about Richie’s feverish excitement had him charmed. 

“This isn’t funny, Richie,” he said, though a laugh danced on the tail end of his words. 

“I’ve played truth or dare with you, you Truth Bitch. You said at Mike’s graduation party that if you were single you’d bonk a guy just to try it. Look, you’ve got that straight confidence or whatever so there’s no awkward feelings. It’s just fun work. We’d be doing a job where we get to hook up with some people. We could pay rent.” Eddie gave an agreeable but ultimately noncommittal shrug, resisting Richie’s charming smile with everything he had. “Look, just brainstorm with me at least. You’re super hot and fit, and I can work a camera. Why not, right?”

The string of compliments directed at him was not something Eddie had ever expected to pour out of Richie’s trashmouth, and his cheeks lit up. He tried to sputter a sarcastic retort, only to realize in his friend’s patient silence that Richie was absolutely, entirely serious about all of this. The thrumming of his heart in his ears almost made him miss the bartenders shout for last call, and Eddie began fussing to pull on his coat. 

“Why not- why not?! Richie! Some of us - me, namely - have something called dignity and also a future in business that can not be tainted by-”

“By someone seeing your taint?”

“Oh my god, ew, no one is going to see my--” he began whispering sharply, glaring.

“Eds, look at us.” Richie held the door open for him, haphazardly wrapping his own scarf around his neck and rushing out of the bar after a flustered Eddie zoomed past him. “We’re about to walk home from a shitty pub at 2am on a snowy night, barely buzzed off cheap beer because it was the only place better to go than hanging out in our ass-freezing apartment; all of our friends moved away and are doing things god bless their stupid, sexy hearts, while we still live in our shitty hometown; we have three months of unpaid bills and I put them in the fucking bin to take to recycling in the hopes we’ll get a cent out of it. You’re a grandpa that still goes to school, which is cool and everything, but with you working at a knock-off Starbucks and me being the shitty bartender at a club barely anybody goes to anymore...we’re not exactly impressive. We have no dignity. There is nothing that we haven’t already fucked up. We have nothing to lose but our apartment.”

Eddie stopped walking to look at Richie. The moment was oddly somber for the topic at hand: soft snow fell silently around them, powdering the broad shoulders of the man before him. Richie’s eyes were alight with hope, barely noticeable behind the thick frames of his glasses, and Eddie’s heart swelled with a strange admiration. It had been so long since the last time he looked this bright.

“You’re gonna be in it too?” he asked.

“Obviously. We have a limited supply of resources so, yeah,” Richie chuckled.

Doubts and thoughts melted together in Eddie’s head: This is stupid. This won’t work. But it’s Richie’s idea. Richie’s ideas are always stupid. They’re also always good. He looks happy. I want to try it. Why do I want to try it? 

Eddie bit his lip, then dusted the snow off of Richie’s coat and scowled. The wild grin of his roommate never faltered.

“All right. All right. Let’s go home and figure this out. But I need another beer.”

Chapter Text

The refrigerator stood dead as the rest of their power, the beer still cold from the sheer chill of the apartment. The two men were still wrapped their hats and jackets, bundled on the couch with layers of blanket covering Eddie’s legs as he crossed them over his roommate’s lap. 

Notebook illuminated by a table full of candles, Richie jotted down ideas about all the wild ways they could rack up an audience, and all the things they could film. Since they’d arrived home Eddie had become oddly quiet, cradling his beer wistfully, but Richie was happy to enthusiastically take the reigns; for once in his life he was justified in shouting all the dirty thoughts that raced through his head... it was for a creative and just cause, after all.

“Richie...” Eddie interrupted him in the middle of a creative string of expletives describing some bizarre position.

“Yeah, you’re right, scrap that. You’re like really domineering, maybe we can find a guy who’d be into--”

“I don’t think I want to fuck a guy I don’t know.” 

Richie rested his pen behind his ear, raising an eyebrow. He’d known from the moment he’d made his pitch in the bar that there was a plethora of reasons Eddie would hate something like this: he’d never been very sexually adventurous, settling into (what Richie assumed to be) milquetoast, long-term monogamous relationships easily. He wasn’t gay. And most obviously, the distaste for dirtiness that ruled his life was a clear obstacle.

So much so that the stroll home was consumed by a whirlwind presentation of what felt like a full highschool sex ed course on the dangers of STIs, which Richie patiently listened to. Once all the worrisome factoids had been exhausted, he reassured Eddie in full seriousness that this was supposed to be fun, and it wouldn’t be fun if everything wasn’t completely safe. Following a very earnest pinky promise to abide by that rule, he made a joke about how if Eddie wanted, the entire thing could have nothing but dryhumping and phone sex and it could be called ‘Leave Room For Jesus.’ Richie thought it was very funny, but more hilarious was Eddie pausing to genuinely consider it.

The rest of the walk devolved into them shouting titles for their sex tape, puns and parodies and scenarios shot back and forth until they stumbled into the apartment laughing.

And so, the fairly vanilla Eddie had been fully on-board. 

“No? There’s tons of hot, clean dudes out there who’d be into you,” said Richie, as casually as he could. “Gay guys love an excuse to bang a straight guy. You deserve to have some wild sexcapades one year out of your horrible, long-ass relationship, you know.”

Eddie tugged at the yarn of a blanket. It had become frayed to nothing but wispy fibers, and Richie realized he must have been fidgeting with it for the last half-hour. 

“You know you're safe with me, Eds,” he affirmed softly. For as much as they loved to pester each other, he needed it to be known that the last thing he ever wanted to do was put Eddie into a position that made him unhappy; all of this was for the opposite, to maintain their comfortable lives as roommates, secure a roof over their heads, and keep things as they should be. It seemed to resonate, because in place of a response or the typical bite-back of ‘that’s not my name, don’t call me that,’ he received a meaningful look. The seriousness of it terrified Richie back into comedy mode, playfulness dancing through his tone once again. “As the director, I’ve got your back. Look, if the gay angle - gayngle, if you will - is too much, we don’t have to do that. I just think, you know, we’re over 30 and there’s tons of straight shit out there so from a storytelling perspective it might be kind of a boring gimmick to play it het--”

“No no, it’s not that, really. I’m not worried about that. Your idea made sense.”

His hesitancy to expand on whatever it was he was mulling on was palpable so Richie leaned in close, resting an arm on Eddie’s chest as he peered into those dark brown eyes. “Ohhh… I get it,” Richie mused after a moment of studying him. A dawning worry flashed over Eddie’s features and he gripped the blanket, the beat of his heart curiously rapid against Richie’s forearm. “You only wanna get down and dirty with me. Understandable, but as tempting as it is I’m gonna have to say no, Eddie Spaghetti. I couldn’t possibly lead you on like that.” 

Eddie shoved a hand against his face and pushed him away, laughing.

“In your dreams, Tozier.” 

With a grin, Richie returned to tapping his notebook in thought. But Eddie’s eyes on him were unrelenting, a watchful prickle on the back of his neck, and so he turned to meet the gaze. 

In a wavering voice, Eddie murmured, “I just don’t want to sleep with a stranger. I really can’t sleep with a stranger, that’s just - ugh.” The uncertainty that crossed his face was heart-stoppingly soft, and only a big inhale of courage helped him continue, “But I guess… well, you’re not a stranger. It could be with you, right? I’d do it if it was you.”

“Oh.”

So that was how it was. Richie stared back at him, Eddie’s unfaltering gaze indiscernible and gut-wrenching to be lost in. He melted into a finely-practiced forced grin, trying desperately to bury the dreadful fire that threatened to burst from his chest. “So we’re gonna be fully realizing your dreams now, I get it.”

A kick to his side and Richie was immediately jotting down notes like the proposition had sparked an overflow of ideas, the ink no more than scribbles to occupy a trembling hand. He tried to ignore the way that Eddie’s thighs tensed against his own legs.

“Ugh, shut up, I just know you haven’t been laid in like ten years so I don’t have to be  concerned about any hand-me-down diseases you might be carrying.”

“Yeah, it’s a shame really. Ever since your mom died I just haven’t found the same satisfaction in--”

“On second thought, I take it back, I don’t want you to give me your rabies.” Eddie kicked the blanket off of Richie’s lap and paced around the room in thought. 

Good. False alarm. 

“Hah! Yeah, anyway someone needs to be behind the camera and honestly, this being my directorial debut is the dream I never knew I had. Maybe we can get Ben...”

Ben!?” Eddie froze on the spot.

“Yeah, he’s like the hottest guy we know. Well, after you, anyway.” A wink to show he was kidding, but Richie’s stomach clenched at the sudden image of a very real Ben with Eddie instead of the hypothetical, faceless man he’d so enthusiastically imagined his roommate being ruined by up until this point. As vague ideas were beginning to find roots in reality, Richie was starting to think that this maybe wasn’t his finest plan.

Absolutely not - Ben is… he’s too sweet. And he’s so straight I don’t think he’d even be able to pretend to look at me like that.”

“Look at you like what? It’s a porno, dude, not a Disney movie; it’s not about feelings. It’s about how your dick feels.”

“Look at me like--” Eddie cut himself off. His pacing hastened, words spilling out a mile a minute, “Rich, if you think this porn thing is going to work then I’m down with it, seriously, but I just. I’d feel a lot better if it was you. And if you don’t want to do it I get it. I’m your roommate, maybe it’s weird, but we’re adults and it’s just - yeah it’s just for money and somebody’s dick feelings, so, you know, not about you and me, but desperate times call for desperate measures so--”

“Woah, okay okay, ‘desperate measures,' I know you’re out of my league but I’m not that ugly, thanks.”

“That’s not what I meant,” Eddie laughed, but then his voice caught before he could finish the next sentence and he stared hard at Richie again. “I just mean--” 

Caught up in the gaze, Richie felt his brain screaming that this was absolutely a bad idea. He was already having trouble processing Eddie’s clumsy blabber and this moment of silence was his chance to take it all back, to loudly backstep and laugh it off as another one of his stupid, unrealistic entrepreneurial jokes that’d never take off when he could just as easily get a second job. But... something about the seriousness in Eddie’s eyes rendered him speechless and all he could do was stare back from the couch.

“I just mean that I trust you. We’re friends and it wouldn’t be weird to have sex with you, I don’t think.”

Richie’s heart barely had a chance to flutter before an overwhelming wave of guilt consumed him. 

He hadn’t come up with this idea to try and get Eddie in bed - no way - because the chances of that happening were unthinkably impossible. Had he? Was this his wicked subconscious manipulating a way to finally, finally fulfill all of his unrelenting desires? Richie felt sick. If only he was so brilliant. 

The truth was that he’d felt so secure suggesting this money-making scheme because of the certainty that Eddie wouldn’t want to come near him with a ten-foot pole. But now, despite the vast impossibility, his stupid idea had somehow led to this.

'Desperate measures’ echoed in his head and a cold, familiar pain twisted up alongside his shame. Right. Just desperate measures for desperate times.

With a casual grin and nonchalant shrug, Richie agreed, “...All right, Eds. All compelling points. I promise I’ll shower for you.”

“Yeah! Okay, yeah. It won’t be weird,” Eddie repeated, but it sounded more like a question.

“We’ve lived together for like ten years and haven’t managed to fuck yet, so there’s obviously no concern about that. Why would it be? It’s just friends hooking up so we can pay our rent. No homo, et cetera, et cetera. I can think of weirder things and they’re probably all in this notebook. It’s not gonna be a big deal.”

An excessive explanation, he felt, but it seemed to soothe Eddie’s nervousness about asking in the first place. He coolly jotted ‘ R + E scene ’ in the notebook, ignoring the jitter of the ink. He only noticed that he had been anxiously tapping his foot when Eddie flopped back down onto the couch next to him and casually kicked his legs over Richie’s just as before.

“...Thank you, Rich.”

“No big deal,” he said again.

--------------------------

Richie couldn’t sleep. 

They’d used the last of Eddie’s laptop battery to watch another episode in Stars Hollow before concluding that watching Luke and Lorelai dance together at a wedding was a satisfying place to stop, especially when Eddie got exhausted by Richie’s chattering.

He had a bad habit of barking jokes during sappy moments because they usually made his ears burn in a horrible combination of second-hand embarrassment and deep longing. Also - most importantly - talking over the show made Eddie angry, which was always a win in his book. But he’d learned his lesson when Eddie had begun to rewind any time Richie ruined the moment, so he’d finally improved at shutting his mouth. If anything was worse than stewing in the awkward silence of watching romantic moments together, it was having to do it twice.

But now, in the dark silence of his freezing room, Richie was left to slow-dance songs from the episode echoing unrelentingly alongside his list of regrets from the day.

The first regret was getting fired from his second job three months ago. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

The next nauseating regret was admitting to Eddie’s face that he thought he was hot. Absolutely horrible, tipsy slip-up. He’d tried to make it casual by saying it again later and feigning flirtiness, but three lefts never make a right, and he regretted those too. 

Regret three was slipping on his ass twice in the driveway and once on his walk home. He was really sore, and also the walk sucked.

The final regret (which was a whopper and possibly one of the worst things he’d ever done) was agreeing to Eddie’s proposal to have sex.

He regretted it because he wanted it so badly

Before, it was a dream that he’d become content to keep stowed away in the recesses of his mind. At best: wistful fodder for lonely, guilt-ridden nights, and at worst: the thing that distracted him away from anything more serious than a date or two with potential partners. Tonight, the dream became an awaiting reality, because how could he deny so earnest a request from his dear friend? It wasn’t fully a selfish agreement, no - it was for Eddie, Eddie’s comfort came first. 

But despite the truth of this, Richie was still consumed by the turmoil of getting exactly what he wanted in the worst possible way; he couldn’t bear the idea of knowing Eddie’s body then never being able to have it again. Of never being able to kiss him the way he wanted to. Of having Eddie’s hands on him only because of desperate measures.

Eddie’s hands…. 

Thoughts of the way they’d clung tightly to his waist bubbled up in Richie’s mind, and he swallowed, letting his own hand slip into his sweatpants. Any self-piteous woes faded against the consuming heat that coursed through him as he pressed up against his palm. He was half-hard already if not just from the sex-oriented conversations of the day, desire magnified by memories of how Eddie shyly looked at him with those huge brown eyes, and how his breath felt on Richie’s neck, and how badly he wanted --

“Hey, Richie?”

Agh!” Richie jerked his hand out of his pants and lay flat, eyes wide open to search the darkness for the voice. Eddie was standing in his doorway, looking a little lost. “E-Eddie! Wh- uhh--” 

“That window in my room - you know the one, by the closet - it’s stuck again and there’s this god-awful draft. It’s like the arctic in there, I feel like I’m coming down with something just being next to it…. Can I crash with you?”

He was already making his way over to the bed, and Richie scrambled to sit up and even his breath. It didn’t seem like Eddie noticed anything, but that didn’t stop Richie’s heart from feeling like it was going to drop right out of his ass.

“Yeah, sounds bad, um, yeah. Sure. You know your mom used to come into my room and ask me the same thing.”

“Cool, thanks,” yawned Eddie, crawling in beside him. “Hey, you never saw my texts right? How’s your tailbone?”

“You calling me an old man?” Richie slid back into the blankets, rolling onto his side so his back was to his bedmate. He was certain his heartbeat was powerful enough to reverberate through the mattress.

“You fell pretty hard, that ice is killer. I mean, it was funny and you’re a piece of shit, but I was worried you might’ve been in a lot of pain trying to walk home after that. Sorry, by the way. I think I passed, though.”

Richie loved being worried after by Eddie, but in this situation he wished he’d let it go. This was too many Regrets Of The Day being stacked at once. So he gave a big fake yawn to feign exhaustion and catch his breath, “Iiiii’m fine. And good job, nerd.”

Suddenly, a glacial chill jolted through his body where Eddie had curled up his legs and pressed two cold feet beneath Richie’s shirt, right on the small of his back.

Jesus - EDDIE! ” Richie exclaimed, flinging a long arm his way. Eddie laughed and laughed, clinging to the sheets while Richie grabbed his legs and tried and failed to roll him out of the bed. “You little piece of shit!”

They wrestled for a minute, and finally calmed down after Richie whacked the smaller man a few times with a pillow until he cried mercy and choked out an apology. Quiet befell them again, and now that they were situated and conveniently warmer from the battle, Richie squeezed his eyes shut and tried to lull himself to sleep.

“Hey, Richie,” Eddie’s whisper broke the silence.

Yes, dickhead?”

He could hear Eddie grinning triumphantly. But the soft voice continued, “Um… my feet really are cold and your back is really warm. If my circulation gets too bad, I might—“

“Are you serious?” Richie looked over his shoulder, glaring even though he knew Eddie couldn’t see through the pitch darkness. Usually Richie tried to be the most annoying one, but Eds was on another level today. “No! Keep your toes off me. Why don’t you put on socks?”

“Umm, that’s disgusting? Sleeping in socks doesn’t allow your skin to breathe and the trapped sweat can lead to athlete’s foot and a plethora of other fungal issues,” Eddie stated seriously, “Do you have socks on right now? Do you? That’s so gross, dude.”

Yes I have socks on because I’m a normal person - just… ugh. Here.”

Against his better judgement, Richie sidled backwards until he felt frosty toes bump against his heel. He closed his eyes and slid his feet between Eddie’s, heart hammering once again.

“Is that better, princess?”

“Yes,” Eddie answered softly, sleepily, from the pillow behind him.

“Okay. Goodnight. Try not to catch my athlete’s foot.”

“It doesn’t work like that.”

Richie ended the conversation by pretending he was falling asleep, but the gentle breath that danced across his neck for the rest of the night kept him wide awake.

Chapter Text


They showered the next morning at Mike’s apartment - at least, Eddie did. Richie insisted that because it was so cold he didn’t sweat, and therefore didn’t need one.

“You’re a disgusting troll person,” Eddie wrinkled his nose. He was cycling slowly beside Richie, having forced him to come to the cafe for a hot breakfast. 

“There is a chance I’ll be living under a bridge next month. You’re free to come hang out,” Richie yawned. Eddie noticed that the bags under his eyes were darker than usual, and he guessed that waking up this early had been hard on him. “Hey, so when we were picking up Mike’s keys from him at the library, I was thinking… it’d make a good set.”

“A what?”

“A set, you know, to do it. We have to have someplace to bone. And desk sex is hot.”

Eddie choked; he’d nearly forgotten about their plan. “You will not be able to get Mike to let you do that. Richie, libraries are a public resource! Taxpayer dollars! No, that’s off the table.”

“We could be on the table. The forbidden element adds to it! We’re making a fantasy, right? If we don't lean into it, how will we stand out?” Richie replied. He went on about sexy librarians and the appeal of hooking up in a place where you’re supposed to be quiet, and Eddie tuned out the salacious explanations, thoughts drifting to Mike.

Mike was the only other one of their friends who hadn’t moved out of Derry. They’d meet up every Friday for drinks and karaoke, and sometimes on random weekdays the duo would play a game where they stalked Mike around the library to see how long it’d take before he noticed them. While he actually had a salary, it wasn't very good, so he and Eddie and Richie had fallen into a guilt-free back-and-forth with lending each other money when either party was in a tight spot. None of them were fond of sharing their monetary struggles with their better-off friends, so the understanding among the three of them was appreciated.

Unfortunately, he still owed them for a month’s rent from last summer, so asking for help with their bills this time was out of the question. However, it seemed that Richie felt he could use the owed favor as leverage.

“He’s the only other one that can work a camera, so with that and the library usage we’d clear the favor,” he planned, “We split profits with him… and anyone with eyes can agree that Mike could totally get it, so he should have a scene too.” 

Eddie raised his eyebrows. “Oh - so it really is going to be with people we know?”

Richie seemed surprised that Eddie was surprised. “I mean, it doesn’t have to be but, I don’t know, you said last night you were more comfortable with people you trust, so I just figured…”

He seemed to flounder for words, but Eddie interjected when he realized they had reached the cafe. “What did you want for breakfast?”

 

Turned out, Richie wanted a toasted bagel with with too much cream cheese and a sunnyside-up egg draped on top. He chewed it loudly while telling Stanley their new plan over the phone.

A prudish blush painted Eddie’s cheeks; he couldn’t help but feel embarrassed listening to Richie lay out their pornographic plan so easily to someone else; but then, he’d always overdone it just to rile up the strait-laced Stan.

He tried hard not to listen to the risqué conversation while he fumbled with the tie on the back of his apron.

Warm fingertips brushed his hands suddenly, and a startled glance back revealed Richie had slipped behind him with phone nestled between cheek and shoulder. He smiled, reaching out to help Eddie tie the bow while rambling on about something profane.

Somehow it was all too overwhelming. Eddie zoomed to the other side of the cafe with a mutter, “I can do it myself.”

He was left alone after that. The phone conversation took Richie’s full focus when it became clear that Stan was going to keep hanging up on him, and Eddie lost himself in cleaning mugs and smacking the espresso machine into working. A small line formed right at 7; he was too busy to notice when Richie slipped out the door.

 

A handful of texts buzzed in close to the end of his shift. Eddie ignored them - he was trying to understand a bumbling customer who had a long list of confusing drinks, then lost his temper and snapped at the man. The guy struggled to flip him off on the way out, his hands full of cupholders, and Eddie viciously returned the gesture. He slammed the cafe sign to ‘CLOSED’ ten minutes earlier than usual. 

Alone behind the counter, he finally checked his inbox. 

Richie Tozier: dude i’m a freaking hero. U will not believe the progress i’ve made today

Richie Tozier: stan wired me so much money to make porn LOL can u believe

Richie Tozier: ok well it’s not that much but it was rly hard to convince him so i count it a win

Richie Tozier: sry if i got in the way this morning by the way, the bagel was good. Ty 

Richie Tozier: did you know ben will be in town for xmas? hes staying with mike. I’m gonna make him help 

Eddie Kaspbrak: Really?? We need to make sure we can pay him back. We really can’t bust this if Stan ACTUALLY lent us money...

Richie Tozier:  no man we GOTTA bust …….. 

Richie Tozier: …...bust a nut

Eddie Kaspbrak: Dropping dinner off at Mike’s, then I’ll be home. I got you a sandwich but I might put it in the can to match your trashmouth

Pocketing the phone, Eddie finished up his shift and bagged the cafe’s unsold leftovers for his friends, making a fresh cup of tea to warm his hands for the walk.

-------------------

“Hey, Mikey!” Eddie used his forehead to press Mike’s apartment buzzer, burdened by bags of food. “Can you come down? I’ve got no hands.”

Mike appeared downstairs, taking all the bags out of his hands, only accepting his returned keys and the tea once they hiked the narrow steps and settled in the flat.

“Hmm… Eddie, you look a little…” Mike’s brow was furrowed.

“Like shit? Long shift… long week,” Eddie rubbed the permanent dark circles under his eyes. Honestly, Mike didn’t look much better off; ever since he lost his parents the holidays had been lonely and rough on him, and it was clear from the lack of decoration in the apartment that he wasn’t feeling the cheer this year. Eddie related, but having had a more complicated parental relationship he found that he was perfectly happy quietly celebrating with just Mike and Richie. Maybe next year they could all take a vacation together, instead, and meet Stan and Ben somewhere on the way….

“I feel you.” Mike opened up the bag, a grateful smile crossing his face when he saw the prepackaged food inside. “Thanks, Mom.”

“Oh, shut up. I know it’s nothing spectacular. When our power’s back on I’ll make you a real meal, I know roast beef isn’t your favorite but it’s all we had left.”

“True, not your usual.”

They liked to switch off bringing each other a plate of whatever they were cooking every Wednesday, to help get through the week. Eddie preferred bringing Mike mushroom lasagna, because he always had a big reaction like it was the first time he’d eaten something so delicious even if it was the same every time.

“Worthy payment in return for Richie pounding down the library door this morning,” Mike said through a mouthful of sandwich. “By the way, are you two… good? You said your power is still off? Do you need a place to stay?”

Eddie explained their circumstances, denying the offer because he was so humiliated about it all. But when he started spiraling into paranoid chatter about how cold weather can lead to countless respiratory issues, bronchitis, or worse: hypothermia and even frostbite! - Mike silently stood up and started rolling out the sleeping bag.

“Give Rich a call and tell him to hurry up or I’ll eat his sandwich, too.”

“Thanks, Mikey,” sighed Eddie, grateful but guilty about imposing. He rationalized that it was better than having to sleep in layered sweatshirts, and as much as he loved an excuse to bother Richie he would give him a break if not just for tonight. 

A hazy memory drifted into his mind, of warm feet tucked between cold ones and that comforting musk of Richie’s sheets that made his head giddy. He shook away the feeling, thoughts of yesterday reminding him that there was vital information he needed to indulge in Mike before his blabbermouth roommate arrived.

“Um… Before I invite Richie. I should tell you something.”

Mike’s eyebrows raised expectantly, almost like he knew what Eddie was going to say but was holding his tongue to let him speak. Unfortunately, the words were hard to get out, so Eddie choked an over-explanation of their rent situation (again), with lengthy details about their nostalgia trip at the bar.

“...So after that, we decided. That. We. We would… we decided, we’re going to....” he pushed on, and Mike looked like he was trying to be supportive despite Eddie’s weird hesitation. He took a deep breath and decisively chopped at the air with a hand, all his words spilling out. “We’re going to make a gay pornography movie to try and sell to all of our old classmates. I know, you’re like, ‘what the fuck,’ right? It’s ridiculous. Fuck those guys. I know it’s ridiculous. But we’re doing it and we apparently have a budget now - Stan helped, I guess - and Richie is definitely, definitely going to try to get you to be involved somehow -  so if he does just tell him to shut up and I’ll tell him to shut up and hopefully he just won’t talk about it at all.”

Eddie knew he sounded manic, so he paced the room in a frenzied panic and blathered on to cover his embarrassment at Mike’s shocked silence.

But then Mike started laughing so hard that he was wheezing and Eddie was hitting him on the back to help him get air. The hollow thwacking made Eddie laugh too, and once they could talk again they laughed together at how Richie was absurd even when he was smart.

 

“I think I get it,” Mike mused after they’d calmed down and Eddie explained more. “I don’t know how I could help though.”

“I don’t really know, either,” lied Eddie. “The plan is all in Richie’s head, I’m just along for the ride, as usual. I really don’t want to get evicted either and... I wanted to let you know ahead of time because it’s kind of a lot to take in and Richie is definitely going to try and rope you into some bullshit.”

“...I’m a little surprised you agreed to it, actually,” Mike said. Their eyes met, and Eddie gave a little shrug.

“Well, it sounded… kind of… fun?”

When his friend made a puzzled little smile, he decided now was a good time to text Richie.

Eddie Kaspbrak: Sleepover at Mike’s apt, come over. He pities us

Richie Tozier: !!!!!!! no socks on my feet tonite! dobby is free!

Eddie Kaspbrak: I thought you read the book, that’s not how the sock thing goes

Eddie Kaspbrak: Grab the next gilmore disc too, I have to know if Luke is going to make a move

He looked around the flat, with its no-frills furniture, packed bookshelf, well-worn reclining leather chair that belonged to Mike’s dad, and lots of pictures of family and friends hung on the wall. Bathed in a cozy yellow light, it was warm but far too lonely.

Eddie Kaspbrak: And can you bring the xmas decorations? 

--------------------

Richie showed up with a santa hat pulled on over his beanie, proudly having lugged two huge boxes of decorations under his long arms. 

After stringing Eddie along in a lie where he ‘forgot’ to bring him his toiletries and a change of clothes, he immediately got to draping tinsel along Mike’s walls before the librarian could protest.

They all split a bottle of eggnog and bourbon, arguing tipsily about which oldies to put on the record player while lights were strung around the doorframe and across the back of the couch. Mike revealed he had the Mariah Carey Christmas album, to which Richie drunkenly hollered, “Well fuck oldies!” and immediately put it on. The tiny fake tree was hoisted up beside the TV until Eddie carried it to the dinner table, throwing a fit about how too many power sources all together like that could lead to overheating and a blown fuse. They yelled when Mike put all of the ornaments on the front of the tree, to which he defended that no one sees the back. Richie called him a lunatic and said, “Uh, Santa does, obviously!”

While Mike shuffled around the kitchen making some late-night cookies, Eddie directed Richie on how to best fix the haphazard tinsel. His directions became so fussy that the taller man exasperatedly swept Eddie off his feet, lifting him up so he could access the wall himself.

“All right, boss,” Richie’s tone was clearly annoyed, his cheek pressed against Eddie’s side and arms clasped around his thighs, “If you’re gonna do it right, do it yourself.”

Eddie did his best, though he still had to direct Richie around now that he was his legs, shouting things like, “Left. Your other left. Richie!! We are facing the same direction, left is the same for both of us!! You are such a piece of shit!” when Richie danced to the right.

They lumbered about absurdly like that for a few minutes and when Mike returned from the kitchen and saw them, he crumpled into another laughing fit.

 

Eddie eventually found himself on the couch, the warmth of alcohol, cookies, and love lulling him into a light slumber. The other two were chatting softly in the kitchen, but Eddie couldn’t hear them over the warble of Nat King Cole on the speakers.

He buried his face in the jacket that was draped over the arm of the sofa; it was Richie’s and the faint smell of him on it dragged Eddie back to sluggish memories of curling up beside a broad figure. He squeezed his eyes shut, trying to bring the memory closer - to change it, improve it, so that this time maybe he could find the courage to reach out and touch the person that lay beside him.

 

Colorful glints of light blinked methodically behind Eddie’s eyes, drawing him out of sleep with their inviting flickering. He awoke still a little bit drunk, his mouth felt coated with sugar. Two knit blankets were draped over his shoulders, and peering over the edge of the couch on the floor he found Richie all curled up in Mike’s sleeping bag. Eddie tried to quietly exit the room, but the spike of adrenaline when he thought about cavities had him stumbling into the bathroom. When he returned Richie had stirred.

“Eds,” he mumbled, feeling around for his thick glasses. His bedhead was obscene: all flat on one side but fluffed on the other, and Eddie told him how bad it looked as he crawled back onto the couch. “Haha… eight crazy nights’ll do that, y’know.”

“That’s Hanukkah, dummy.”

Richie didn’t reply and Eddie saw that he was asleep again. All the lights were off save for their Christmas decorations, leaving the room with a dim glow. Twinkles of pink and orange and blue tinted Richie’s sleep-flushed cheeks at varying intervals, reflecting off of his glasses. Stupid, why put them on if you’re just going to go back to bed? Eddie thought, and reached down to pull them off of Richie’s face. He placed them gently on the desk, only to look back and see that Richie’s eyes were cracked open.

“Oh, sorry - I thought you--” Eddie began.

“S’okay. Can’t see you now though,” came the sluggish reply. “Hey, Mike is in.”

“...What?”

“He’s gonna be in the movie. And he said he’d let us use the library.”

What? Really?”

Richie was sleepier than he was amused, rolling onto his side. “He was breaking my arm trying to be a part of it honestly. Seemed really determined to help.”

“Likely.”

“He’ll film too.”

“Isn’t that your job, Director?”

There was a short pause, then Richie’s eyes slid shut and he murmured, “For our part, I mean.”

Eddie lay still on his back, finding sleep only once Richie’s quiet snores evened into steady breathing.