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Until the Water Runs Clear

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It’s all fun and games until somebody actually orders a showerhead attachment.

It arrives very discreetly in a plain box with a vague company logo on the return address: Cleanstream. Richie sees Eddie’s name on the shipping label and figures it must have something to do with the tap water— he’s definitely mentioned something about getting a filter for the kitchen sink. The box seems a little big for just a filter, though. Must be a pitcher instead. And once that train of thought reaches its destination, Richie promptly dismisses it from his mind and doesn’t consider it again until he looks over and sees Eddie standing at the kitchen island with the box in his hands.

“Oh,” Eddie exclaims, holding the package up for inspection. “This must be the thing.”

Richie cocks his head. “The thing?”

“You know.” Eddie turns the label towards him and taps the logo: Cleanstream. “The, uh, the thing.”

Richie blinks mildly, at a total loss. “There’s a thing?”

Eddie makes a frustrated noise. “C’mon, man, we talked about this.”

With about 65% confidence that this is actually about the tap water, Richie launches into a TV infomercial voice with 100% gusto. “So, you finally got yourself the Brita pitcher of your dreams, huh, Eds? Boy oh boy, I can’t wait to taste the crystal clear waters of the Alps from my very own kitchen faucet.”

Eddie narrows his eyes, his jaw set and his expression guarded. Richie’s smile fades. He knows that look, and god, sometimes he really, really hates it. It’s the look that means Eddie doesn’t know if Richie’s being serious or not, and sometimes Richie just hates how much he absolutely deserves it. Jesus, as if the poor guy hasn’t been gaslit enough for two lifetimes already. Richie holds up his open hands, his voice low and apologetic, his gaze steady.

“All right, man, you’re gonna have to help me out here. I got nothing.”

With the same suspicious look on his face, Eddie grabs a pair of scissors from the kitchen junk drawer and uses the edge of one blade to neatly slice open the packing tape over the seams. He pulls up the flaps and reaches inside— but before he reveals the contents, he hesitates. Shit, he’s nervous. Meanwhile Richie is doing the mental equivalent of frantically rummaging through a pile of hastily-scribbled post-it notes, racking his brains for the thing that he’s supposed to already know because they already talked about it and it’s not the tap filter but it’s Cleanstream and he’s only just barely brushed his fingertips against the realization when Eddie exhales and lifts out a blue and white box that says Cleanstream Shower Enema Set.

Oh, yeah. That thing.

The memory of the past conversation smashes into the reality of the present moment with enough force to make Richie sputter out a stupid, reflexive, “Oh, shit.”

Eddie’s hackles are up in an instant. “What do you mean, oh, shit?

“I mean, uh—” Richie’s eyes are drawn inexorably to the specs printed on the front of the packaging: One narrow 3.5” nozzle, one large 5” nozzle, long 6’ hose… “I mean, shit, man, it’s just— it’s kind of a lot, all right? Just gimme a second.”

“Are you fucking kidding me right now?” Eddie bristles, his hands going so tight on the box that the cardboard dimples under his fingertips. “You want me to give you a second? This isn’t some huge bombshell, Richie. We talked about this. You said—” He averts his gaze, his voice suddenly dropping to a mumble. “You said you wanted to— that this was something we could— try.”

All at once the box seems to become scalding hot, as Eddie flinches and fumbles to get it out of his hands, barely managing to drop it onto the counter instead of the floor. Richie’s eyes track with it— one valve to regulate the flow of water— before he yanks his gaze up to read Eddie’s downcast face instead, where he sees fear hurt anger shame in a flash that leaves him reeling and desperate to fix it. He wants to reassure Eddie that of course, of course he knows exactly what he’s talking about. He wants to explain his hesitation, to make sure that Eddie understands it has nothing to do with what he’s asking and everything to do with Richie’s own cowardice. And so of course, in his infinite tact and wisdom, Richie blurts out:

“I was drunk.”

Eddie recoils as though sprayed by a skunk, his initial shocked expression giving way almost immediately to queasy dismay.

“Fuck,” he says. “You don’t remember.”

Richie swallows hard. “No, I— I remember.” Kind of hard to forget the first time the love of your life asks if he can fuck you in the ass.

But then the second possibility is even worse than the first, Eddie’s eyes going wide with dawning outrage, his voice rising in pitch and volume.

“So it was just a joke? Is that it? Were you fucking joking?” He tries to hide the quaver in his words, with limited success. “Because that is not cool, man. Not cool. This is some really personal— you can’t joke around about stuff like that. You can’t. Because then I can’t— I can’t—”

His eyes are bright with embarrassed tears as Richie swallows back another surge of bile, his guts doing flipflops and threatening to make a break for it. It takes all of his very limited reserve of willpower to keep from blundering forward and pulling Eddie into his arms just to make him stop saying such heartbreaking things.

“Eddie, Eddie, listen—” Richie pushes a hand through his hair, his fingers trembling. “That’s not what I meant, okay? None of it. So just— slow down, all right? Will you slow down? Jesus, you’re gonna give me an asthma attack.”

“That is so not funny,” Eddie says, but he takes a deep breath all the same, his hands balled into loose fists at his sides.

Richie takes a matching deep breath, begging his heart rate to maybe ease up a little, or at least level out and stop accelerating. In a compulsive tic his gaze keeps flicking over to the goddamn blue and white box, to the big swirly stylized S in Cleanstream, hovering like a UFO over the image of that long 6’ hose all coiled up like Indiana Jones’s whip. It’s the most sublimely ridiculous thing he’s ever seen.

“Look,” he says. “When I said I was drunk, what I meant was—” Richie rubs the back of his neck, abashed. “I meant I was brave, okay? Braver than I am when I’m... not.” It feels too vulnerable to leave it there, so he adds in a sotto voce ramble, “And besides, man, that thing is fucking intimidating, I mean c’mon, I’ve never seen the word nozzle so many times in one place, that’s crazy.”

What he’s expecting is a lecture on needing alcohol to enable the expression of wants and desires. What he’s not expecting is for Eddie to suddenly look very sad, and very small. His brow furrows as he notices Richie’s restless gaze, tracking it to the box and then looking back at Richie’s face, his voice soft.

“Richie, are you—” He gestures towards the kit. “Does this scare you?”

Richie releases a shaky exhale. “It’s, uh… it’s a lot.”

And this is just him, this is all him— Richie Tozier, who couldn’t even take his shirt off in bed if he didn’t turn the lights out— who laughed convulsively the first time Eddie Kaspbrak touched his naked body— who cried like an idiot the first time Eddie Kaspbrak made him come. He’s so focused on his own baggage that he forgets for a moment that Eddie has a whole luggage set of his own, right up until their eyes meet and the fear hurt anger shame wallops him in the gut like a haymaker punch.

“Oh my god,” Eddie says, thin and strained. “You don’t want to do this. I’m the one making you— am I making you do this? Just tell me if I’m making you do this, Richie, because I don’t— I don’t want to make you do anything that you don’t—” He scrubs his face with his dry hands and then shakes his head to clear it. “God, I’m not— I’m not gonna be like that, okay? I’m not gonna make you— I’m not—”

“Hey, hey, hey,” Richie interjects. “Nobody’s making anybody do anything, all right? Now let’s just— let’s just calm down for a second, here.”

They both get quiet, which isn’t the same as calming down but at least it’s a step in the right direction. Then they’re stranded in flustered silence, eyes darting from each other to the box to each other to the ceiling or the floor or anywhere else, hands going into pockets or picking anxiously at the countertop. Richie’s trying really hard not to laugh out of sheer anxiety, and he’s actually doing an okay job at it until he catches a glimpse of the tagline on the front of the Cleanstream box.

Then he cracks up like there’s no tomorrow.

At the first high-pitched giggle Eddie gives him a sharp look, not quite wounded but bracing himself to be. Richie immediately shakes his head, still laughing but assuring Eddie that it’s not at his expense. He points at the box instead, tries twice to catch his breath, and finally manages to drop his voice into the range of a dramatic movie trailer voiceover.

Cleanstream Shower Enema Kit,” he intones. “Be confident. Be prepared.”

Bewildered, Eddie follows his pointing finger to the two lines printed in bold, italicized text, his lips moving soundlessly as he reads the first two words under his breath. Then—

Be prepared, huh?” He glances back at Richie, his expression deadpan. “That’s funny, I don’t remember getting one of these in my Boy Scout mess kit.”

Richie guffaws in delight. “Shut up, you weren’t a fucking Boy Scout!”

“Maybe not,” Eddie smirks. “But I did read a lot of Boys’ Life magazine.”

“Oh, I’ll bet,” Richie smirks back. “Just for the articles, right, Eds?”

“Duh,” Eddie rolls his eyes. “How else was I supposed to learn how to properly gut a fish and start a campfire— from my mother?”

Richie howls with glee. He doesn’t know which is funnier, the idea of Mrs. K doing those activities or Eddie as he was then, thin and asthmatic and ranting furiously about how unsanitary it would be to eat a fish that hadn’t been cleaned in a properly sterilized environment. Eddie laughs too, weak and relieved, his hunched shoulders gradually relaxing from their defensive position. They let the laughter break the ice between them, their bodies drifting together as the floes tilt and shift until finally they’re face to face, their mirth fading into mutual fond smiles.

“You know I’m crazy about you,” Richie says. “Right?”

Eddie screws up his face. “I know you’re crazy.”

“Jesus, I must be,” Richie laughs.

And to prove it, instead of going in for a kiss he gives Eddie a brisk pat on the cheek, his palm glancing off of the familiar scar with a flourish. Eddie accepts the pat with a smile and a toss of his head, but his expression turns serious on the rebound, his eyes finding Richie’s and holding on.

“I mean it,” he says, low and emphatic. “You— we don’t have to do this.” Still maintaining eye contact, he reaches blindly for the box on the countertop, his fingertips catching an edge and drawing it towards him. “It’s fine. I’ll— I can send this back. No harm, no foul.”

Richie reaches out with every intention of grabbing the box and pulling it back across the counter, but to their mutual surprise he takes Eddie by the wrist instead, his grip gentle but firm.

“Hey, c’mon,” he huffs. “I never said—”

“It’s fine,” Eddie insists, making only a half-hearted attempt to tug his wrist free. “It’s fine, okay? Just forget it— forget it.”

“Forget it?” Richie almost laughs again. “It’s, uh, it’s a little late for that, Eds. It’s a lot late for that.”

Which is a pretty lame way of saying that he doesn’t think he’ll ever forget that night for as long as they both shall live. It really was one for the books. They were both just the right amount of drunk, just enough to get the old inhibitions lower than usual, basking in how much easier it was to reach and to touch and to kiss. To say they’ve been taking it slow is an understatement. They’ve been taking it slow, sure, and the Pacific Ocean is a big puddle, which is to say that a little bit of liquid courage goes a long way in helping everybody take it nice and easy. Richie likes bourbon. Eddie prefers red wine. The method doesn’t matter as long as they both end up in the same place, and that night it was fully clothed and making out on the bed like a couple of teenagers. Sure, they might not ever get to go to prom together, but they’re determined to make up for the rest of the lost time, stumbling their way through all the awkward adolescent milestones on a twenty-seven year delay. You know what they say, folks— better late than never.

And it must have been a hell of a bottle of wine, because that night Eddie was as fearless as he’d ever been, taking the lead in a way that left Richie seeing stars. It was Eddie who took him by the hand and drew him into the bedroom, Eddie who steered Richie in reverse until the back of his knees hit the bed and he sat down hard. Funny how Eddie always seems to find a way to flip the height difference— the better for him to take Richie’s face in his hands and kiss him like it’s the only thing he’s ever wanted, drawing Richie’s soft cry into his lungs as his next breath.

They kissed, Richie’s hands stretching out of their own accord, longing to hold him. On instinct he slid his arms around Eddie’s waist and tugged him closer, pulling him into the space between his open legs until Eddie’s knees butted up against the edge of the mattress. Eddie groaned and pushed his hands into Richie’s hair, his fingers curling into fists as that same instinct compelled Richie to draw his knees together until Eddie’s legs were pinned between his thighs. They both felt it then— the floes tilting and shifting, the ice breaking just a little bit more. They’d reached another milestone completely on accident, not even recognizing the boundary until it was already crossed. After that it was clear terrain and they were free to run.

Dazed and shaky, Richie fumbled backwards along the bed and Eddie followed him down, crawling into the open space that Richie left behind as he went. Richie made it as far as he could before he collapsed onto his back, his legs spread wide, his hands reaching blindly for Eddie to fill the emptiness. Before he knew it Eddie was on top of him, their bodies flush against each other, Richie’s thighs clenched around Eddie’s hips. Then they were making out like there was no tomorrow, so hot and heavy that Eddie had to flounder to get Richie’s glasses out of the way before they got bent or broken in all the tumult. And sure, they’d done their share of fooling around at that point, but something about this time was different— something about the way Richie’s thighs ached— the way he wanted to open his legs wider, wider— he was canting his hips up from the bed and there was this low throbbing in his belly and he just wanted— he wanted

“Hey,” Eddie panted, breaking the blind fever of their kiss. “Can I ask you a question?”

Breathing hard and blinking owlishly, Richie said, “Uhhhhhh… sure.”

Eddie was breathing hard, too. “It’s okay to say no.”

Richie felt a smile tugging at the corner of his flushed, swollen mouth. Without his glasses he saw Eddie in an endearing kind of haze, his edges all soft and muddled— but god, never his eyes, his eyes are always so clear and bright. When Richie focuses on those eyes, he finds to his amazement that he’s able to let go of just about everything else.

“Okay,” he said, reaching up absent-mindedly to run his thumb along the scar just under Eddie’s left cheekbone. “What’s up?”

Eddie’s eyes darted away and Richie almost lost his bearings, but then their gazes met and locked and Richie knew he would never be lost again. Eddie cradled one palm on Richie’s face, his voice quiet but resolved.

“I want to try something.”

And of course, as soon as Richie heard Eddie say the first two words, he already knew the answer would be yes.

Now, with his hand on Eddie’s wrist, Richie can feel the anxiety boiling just under the surface, the pulse rabbit-quick against his fingertips, the tendons pulling tight as Eddie braces himself to bolt or else resists the urge to do so. When he gives another tug Richie lets go right away, and they both withdraw their hands to leave the blue and white box adrift on the counter between them. Eddie looks like he wishes the floor would open up and swallow him whole.

“Look,” Richie says, his throat tight. “It’s not— it’s not that I don’t—want—”

Jesus, fuck, how is that he can never say anything when he actually needs to say it? Usually the only effort required on his part is to take a breath and open his mouth— the words come on their own, unplanned and unbidden, rushing by him a blur while he holds the door for them to pass. Now it’s like he’s opened the door on an empty room, sticking his head inside only to find cobwebs in the corners. Where is everybody? Looks like he’s on his own for this one. He’ll just have to think of something.

But then he looks Eddie, and he realizes that he already knows what to say. It’s just that he’s never been allowed to say it before. It’s that word: want. His jaw is rusted around it like the Tin Man. Eddie is staring at him, waiting for him to speak, increasingly apprehensive as the silence drags on. Richie puts both hands on the mental crowbar and yanks against the rust with all his strength. He has to squeeze his eyes shut but somehow he manages to force the words to come out.

“I want to do it.”

And it’s like a weight lifting off his chest, his lungs flooded with air and his eyes opening in relief. As his vision swims into focus he sees the flicker of hope on Eddie’s face and the weight gets even lighter, the words coming easier and easier, practically tripping over themselves to be heard.

“I mean it. I really do. I think— I think I’ve wanted to do it for— for maybe forever. And, uh, I don’t know if I ever would have had the guts to say anything.” The breath catches in Richie’s chest, his eyes stinging with admiration. “But you did. You just came right out and said it. That was incredible. You’re incredible.” He reaches out to chuck Eddie under the chin with one shaking hand. “C’mon, we can’t all be as brave as you are, Eds. Cut me some slack, all right?”

Eddie makes a funny sound in the back of his throat, his eyes so clear and so bright as he takes Richie’s face in his hands and kisses him like it’s the only thing he’s ever wanted. Richie doesn’t think he could ever put into words just how deeply the feeling is mutual. Fortunately for him, actions speak louder, and there’s a blue and white box sitting on the countertop that might help him express himself.

---

Although he relentlessly mocked it when Eddie first brought it into the house, Richie would now be the first to admit that the Squatty Potty is pretty damn great. He can only imagine how comical he must look when he uses it, all six foot and two inches of his less-than-graceful frame folded up into the prime position to evacuate the bowels, his reading material of choice propped on his conveniently-elevated knees. Whoever says that PC culture is killing comedy has never tried to say the words Squatty Potty out loud, preferably in the most serious voice they can muster. Richie can’t even make it past the first word without cracking up every time. The only person on Planet Earth who can say it with a straight face is Eddie Kaspbrak, and even then Richie is pretty sure he’s only doing it to prove a point.

The latest addition to the bathroom library is a copy of The Black Rapids by William Denbrough. Richie was starting to feel a bit guilty after he realized that, although he was familiar with them in the pop culture lexicon, he was the only Loser who’d never actually read a single one of Big Bill’s books. He’s seen all the movies, of course, but that doesn’t really count. He wants to see the actual words for himself, because he wants to be able to tell Bill when he’s done just how fucking cool it is that he went and wrote a whole goddamn book, and never mind that everyone says the endings are terrible because Richie has terrible taste anyway and he’ll probably think it’s amazing.

But that’s over a hundred pages from now. Right now Richie has other things on his mind, to the point that he’ll have to come back and reread these most recent pages later, since his eyes are currently skimming over the lines without absorbing a single word. By the shape of the text he recognizes the end of a paragraph and figures he’s dawdled here long enough. He dogears the page to mark his place before setting the book on the back of the toilet.

Don’t over-wipe, Eddie cautions. You don’t want an irritated

His memory voice gets bulldozed over by Richie’s memory voice cutting in with a curt, Yeah, yeah, I got it.

Richie tries really hard not to overthink it, because come on, how difficult can it be? It’s not like he doesn’t wipe his ass every day. But man, it’s kind of like when you start to overthink your breathing, or become too aware of your tongue’s presence in your mouth— when something is so familiar that it becomes invisible, the simple act of making it visible can be enough to render it unrecognizable. What if he’s been over-wiping this whole time and he never even knew it? Fuck, he’s been doing plenty of other things wrong for long enough; any error seems possible at this point. He could find out tomorrow that he’s been blinking the wrong way for his entire life and he would probably be like, yeah, that sounds about right.

Jesus Christ. He’s freaking out and he hasn’t even gotten in the shower yet.

Deep breaths, Tozier. Go wash your fucking hands.

Back when Richie was going through the motions, he used to bring a woman home every now and again, and more than one guest commented on the tendency of bachelors to have a less than ideal bathroom situation. They were pleasantly surprised by his soaps and fresh hand towels, not to mention the general cleanliness of all the surfaces and fixtures. Every time it came up Richie was tempted to make a joke about how his mother raised him right, but even in jest it always seemed to stick in his craw, a blatant untruth. He knew it wasn’t because of his mother. It was another voice lecturing him on the importance of maintaining a sanitary environment — you do realize that a damp hand towel is basically a breeding ground for bacteria, right? Sometimes Richie tried to reason that it must have been a particularly strident teacher in some health class, but he knew that wasn’t right, either. It was a child’s voice, a boy— which seemed impossible, since Richie couldn’t think of a single childhood friend whose opinion he would have valued so highly that it would keep him diligently cleaning his bathroom thirty years later. He just knew that it was important to someone important. Funny, the things that stay with you.

So he washes his hands and he dries his hands and he rubs his hands on his bare thighs and then finally he psyches himself up enough to pull back the shower curtain and face the challenge head-on. There’s the shiny new Cleanstream, the hose trailing down from behind the showerhead and then back up to where the — narrow 3.5” — nozzle sits in a little cradle suction-cupped to the wall. Richie installed the hardware this morning, fitting on the control valve and tightening the hose attachment with a set of pliers while Eddie watched with crossed arms and a smirk of, Wow, Richie, you’re so butch. Next time you should wear a tool belt, really complete the look.

Richie doesn’t feel very butch right now. He feels like he’s about to throw up. He’s naked and afraid and he’s pretty sure he didn’t over-wipe but who can say for sure and all he has to do is lift up his foot and set it down inside the tub except right at that moment it would probably be easier for him to lift up his foot and set it down on the surface of the moon.

Yeah, this isn’t gonna work.

Quick and deliberate, Richie grabs a towel and wraps it around his waist before padding out of the bathroom, through the bedroom, and down the hall. He finds Eddie on the couch with a book in his lap. Right now he’s working on The Poisonwood Bible— Bev has already warned him that he’ll cry at the end. Richie doesn’t know why anyone would choose to put themselves through that, but then again, he’s never had a very friendly relationship with the concept of catharsis.

“Hey,” Richie says.

Eddie glances up from his book, his brows instantly raised in concern. “Hey, is everything okay?”

“Yeah, everything’s fine,” Richie answers reflexively, which, no, spit it out, dumbass. “Except, uh, no— no, it’s not.”

Eddie leans forward to grab his bookmark from the coffee table, slipping it into place before he sets the novel back down and turns to Richie with his undivided attention. Richie fidgets with his towel, his eyes downcast in embarrassment.

“I, uh— I can’t do it.”

Eddie doesn’t even hesitate. “That’s fine, Richie. That’s okay.” He’s already shaking his head, totally prepared to dismiss the subject entirely. “Don’t even worry about it, man. This is so, so not a big deal—”

“Hang on,” Richie interjects. “Let me finish.”

Surprised, Eddie snaps his mouth shut, his brow now furrowed in confusion, his body language suspended as he waits for the shoe to drop. Richie takes in a deep breath. Be brave. Be like Eddie. With a conscious effort, he raises his eyes and meets Eddie’s gaze with his own.

“What I mean is— I can’t do it alone. I need your help.” One hand clutched in a white-knuckled grip on his towel, Richie uses the other to jerk his thumb back in the direction he came from. “Do you, uh— do you think you could give me a hand in there, buddy?”

At first Eddie is too stunned to react. Even a split-second of silence feels like a million years, so Richie starts dumping words out to fill the vacant air, his tone a jittery mumble.

“It’s just, uh, I know we went over the whole process and everything, and I know there’s, like, the instruction book and stuff, but I just— I really think I’m gonna fuck it up. I know I’m gonna fuck it up. And I would just— I would feel a lot better if, um— if you did it.”

God, he hopes this isn’t too much to ask. In Richie’s opinion it’s definitely a lot— enough that Eddie would be well within his rights to say come on, Richie, you’re a big boy, you can do it yourself. Instead, Eddie swallows hard and nods his head with all the gravity of someone who’s just been charged with the protection of something valuable and rare.

“Sure, Rich,” he says, a hoarse edge to his voice. “No problem.”

He gets up from the couch. As soon as he’s close enough Richie snags him by the back of the neck and hauls him into a fierce embrace, so grateful for him in that moment that he can’t even begin to speak. Eddie squeezes back, his face nuzzled against Richie’s bare shoulder, his breath warm on Richie’s skin.

“Come on,” he says. “I’ll take care of you.”

Richie lets out a sort of half-laugh, half-sob, his belly full of butterflies as he follows the fearless Eddie Kaspbrak back to the bathroom that he fled alone in panic.

“Okay,” Eddie says briskly, unbuttoning his shirt as he goes. “There’s plenty of room in the shower for both of us, so that won’t be a problem. Did you take the drain cover off like I said?”

Richie winces, trying not to dwell on the details. “Yep. All clear.”

He reels at the familiar dizzy rush that he always gets when Eddie takes his shirt off— that feeling like he’s getting away with something, like he’s the luckiest son of a bitch in the world. And when his eyes glance over the jagged starburst scar just beside Eddie’s left shoulder blade, he’s reminded of just how lucky he really is. If that scar was located just about anywhere else, then it wouldn’t have become a scar at all, trapped forever as an open wound that would never get the chance to heal. Sometimes Richie sees that wound in his nightmares. Those are the bad nights. Still, no matter how many times Richie wakes him up in the middle of the night to check on him, Eddie never gets mad about it.

They’ve reached the bathroom by now, where Eddie gives his shirt a quick, automatic folding before he sets it down on the counter next to the sink. Richie keeps both hands self-consciously clasped on his towel while Eddie shucks quickly out of his pants and underwear. He’s peeling off his socks when he looks up and makes a loose, imperious gesture.

“Come on, man, don’t make me rip the band-aid off for you.”

“You would,” Richie huffs.

But he does as he’s told and sheds the towel, even taking the time to hang it back on the rack because he knows that if he doesn’t then Eddie will just make a big production out of doing it himself. He’s reaching up for his glasses when Eddie says, “You can keep them on, if you want. You’re only gonna get wet from the waist down.” Richie almost chickens out and takes them off anyway, just so this whole experience could stay nice and blurry. But on second thought — and partially because it seemed like Eddie was encouraging him to do so — he decides to keep the specs. It’s just like the Aerosmith song says: I don’t wanna miss a thing.

After that there’s nothing left to do except get in the shower.

“Age before beauty,” Richie says, bowing and indicating that Eddie should go ahead of him.

“Pearls before swine,” Eddie sniffs, stepping daintily over the lip of the tub and onto the rubber safety mat that he absolutely insisted on installing in the shower the day he moved in. He’s so little and fierce and sexy that Richie is powerless to stop his own stupid impulse to respond to the quip by snorting like a goddamn pig. Somehow, for some unfathomable reason, Eddie finds this endearing, smiling and rolling his eyes as Richie climbs into the shower with him, drawing the curtain closed in his wake.

The proximity alarms are quieter with every passing day, but Richie would be lying if he said he still didn’t hear klaxons when they got too close to each other. Warning, warning— naked man approaching— don’t look or he’ll know your secret. It’s an old habit that he’s getting better and better at switching off, like silencing an oversensitive car alarm. Yes, thank you, I’m aware of the naked man approaching— I’m pretty psyched about it, actually, so shut the fuck up. That said, it’s definitely a little more daunting than usual, with the closed confines of the shower only heightening the reality of their reason for being in it. Eddie, as usual, is the one who manages to keep his cool, taking down the nozzle with one hand while reaching for the shower faucet handle with the other.

“All right,” he says. “We’ll focus on the temperature first, then we can work on the water pressure.” He flashes Richie a quick, reassuring smile. “So, uh, don’t be intimidated.”

And it’s a good thing he mentions that, because as soon as he turns on the water, Richie almost jumps back from the nozzle like it’s a flamethrower. An image flashes through his brain of an infomercial he once saw for a power washer, the spray passing over a grimy driveway to reveal the bright, clean concrete beneath.

“Jesus,” he says without thinking, and Eddie laughs.

“I know, I know,” Eddie says. “We’re gonna fix that. Just hang on.” He holds his fingers in the stream and gazes up at the ceiling, gauging the heat. “You want it to be warm but not hot. Definitely not too cold, those cramps are the worst.”

“Wait, wait, wait—” Richie draws back in amazement. “Eddie, have you done this before?”

Eddie gives him a furtive glance before studiously directing his attention to the shower knob, reaching out to turn it a few careful degrees cooler.

“Well, yeah,” he mumbles. “But only with, like, a bulb, you know? We never had anything like this.” He tests the water again, his voice barely audible. “This is nice.”

“Wow, okay, how is this just now coming up?” Richie is flabbergasted, and when he’s flabbergasted he’s even worse than usual at reading the room. “I mean I’m over here freaking out about this unknown new horizon and meanwhile you’re over there with, what, a frequent flyer card? Unbelievable. A certified pro.”

He’s too caught up in the teasing to notice the way Eddie sets his jaw, his grip on the nozzle tightening as the spray wanders away from his fingers.

“Look,” he says, tense. “My mom thought they were super healthy, okay? They— they were supposed to clear you out, you know, balance your digestive system and stuff. That’s all. It was for health reasons.”

Dumber than the sack of hammers that he deserves to be clobbered with, Richie blurts out in an ugly, unthinking rush, “Don’t tell me Mrs. K. was in there holding the bag for ya, Eds.”

“No, Richie,” Eddie says, and too late Richie hears the razor sharp edge to his voice. “She just bought me the kit and waited outside the bathroom door until I was done.”

In the sudden, awful silence that follows, the sound of the water pouring out of the nozzle is louder than Niagara Falls. Richie can feel the regret all the way in his bones, a cold sluice of self-loathing rushing from the back of his neck and down the whole length of his spine, his heart choked up like a flooded engine.

“Eddie,” he says, numb with dismay.

But before he can go any farther down that road, Eddie abruptly turns the Cleanstream nozzle and points the spray directly into Richie’s face. Richie lurches backwards with a startled yawp, his hands flung up in a useless, reflexive attempt to shield his glasses.

“Dude!” he squawks. “Dude!

“Hey, Richie,” Eddie laughs. “How’s that water temperature, asshole?”

“Dude, my glasses!” Richie protests, but he’s laughing too as he attempts to bat the water back in Eddie’s direction, with not nearly as much success as he would have hoped.

Eddie sprays him until he’s made his point, then angles the nozzle down to the shower floor, his posture loose and relaxed. Richie takes off his glasses with one hand and uses the other to push the wet hair off of his face, which is really just an excuse to surreptitiously dash the tears from his eyes. Eddie is blurry around the edges but Richie could still find him in a crowd by the light of his eyes alone.

“So,” he coughs, wiping pointedly at one lens with his thumb. “Just from the waist down, huh?”

“Says who?” Eddie shrugs. “I don’t see a sign.”

Jesus Christ— is it possible to love someone so much that it hurts? Because Richie’s pretty sure his chest just clicked one notch tighter around his vanquished heart, his ribs and lungs aching from the strain. He averts his eyes in a clumsy rush before he has an aneurysm or something. Fortunately the glasses give him the perfect excuse, and he gestures at them vaguely before retreating to the end of the shower and leaning out to grab the edge of the towel hanging on the wall rack. See, Richie, the little Eddie voice in his head chides, this is why we put things back where they belong. Richie blinks furiously as he dries off the frames and then busies himself with meticulously wiping each lens in turn. Shit, he must have it really bad if he’s getting emotional over a dousing from an enema nozzle. This is some next-level twitterpated fuckery.

Half-in and half-out of the shower, the curtain blocks Richie’s view but not the sound of the water moving closer behind him, the warmth pooling up around his feet and making him shiver. He shivers again when Eddie touches his shoulder, tentative at first before his hand settles all the way flat against the skin.

“Hey, man,” he says, quiet. “Just— don’t worry about it, okay? It’s okay. I’m okay. And I just— I really don’t want this to be about… that.” His hand trails along the span of Richie’s shoulder blades, slow and careful. “I just want to be here. Can we do that, Richie? Can we just— be here?”

Richie makes damn sure his glasses are spotless before he puts them back on and turns around. He doesn’t want to miss a single detail of Eddie’s face at that exact point in time, because it’s the point that Richie realized he’s never been so close to another human being in his entire life. He didn’t even think that he was capable of letting someone get this close. And maybe that’s why it had to be Eddie— it had to be someone he never expected, someone so unlikely that he could slip past all of Richie’s defenses before Richie even knew he was there.

And now he’s here.

“Sure, Eds,” Richie says, a hoarse edge to his voice. “No problem.”

Eddie gives him a crooked half-smile that clicks Richie’s chest— god— one notch tighter still. Then it’s back to the task at hand, Eddie returning to the showerhead so he can reach up and turn the valve that controls the water pressure, the nozzle held upright so he can judge the force of the stream by the height of the spout. Richie comes closer and watches as Eddie holds up his thumb and forefinger to measure it.

“We don’t need a lot,” he explains. “The stream should be about five inches tall.”

“Cool,” Richie says.

It’s only one syllable but his voice manages to crack, anyway. Eddie’s eyes dart up to Richie’s face, his expression softening with a hint of concern before he looks back at the water and clears his throat.

“Listen, uh... I just want to say... thanks.” He shoots Richie another quick glance. “Thanks for letting me help. It… it means a lot, man.”

“Dude, trust me,” Richie musters a weak chuckle. “This was not for your benefit. I’m pretty sure I would have punctured my intestines.”

Eddie scoffs. “C’mon.”

“Or maybe I would have just filled up until my guts exploded.”

“Jesus, Richie.”

“I’m just saying, y’know, you’re the one doing me a favor here. I should be thanking you.”

“Okay, then,” Eddie gestures with the nozzle, painting an arc of silver through the air. “Let me hear it.”

And boy, isn’t that just the perfect opening for a Grand Romantic Declaration. How shall I thank thee? Let me count the ways. Probably not the best decision on Eddie’s part to ask for the list while they’re in the shower— the hot water will be long gone before Richie’s even halfway through. He could compose sonnets, he could write books, he could fill a whole fucking library with the reasons he’s grateful to have this extraordinary man in his life.

So of course he says, “Thank you, Eddie Kaspbrak, for ensuring that my cause of death is not listed as enema-related mishap.”

Eddie snorts in amusement. “Yeah, well, what are friends for?” He holds up the nozzle and considers the stream. “Looks like five inches to me.”

“That’s what she said,” Richie whispers.

Eddie’s laugh is so unexpected that he ends up doubled over coughing while Richie giggles and thumps his back and says “Is there a doctor in the house?” It takes both of them longer than it should to catch their breath, but that’s only because they get distracted kissing each other and it just leaves them winded all over again. Richie is almost all the way lost in it when Eddie wriggles the nozzle in between them and presses the tip of it to Richie’s collarbone, sending a rush of warm water running down over his chest and groin. He groans as goosebumps break out over the whole span of his back.

“Remember,” Eddie murmurs. “You fill up to the count of thirty. I’ll count it out. We have to make sure the water gets all the way up to the transverse colon.”

“Sexy,” Richie says.

“It might be a little uncomfortable.”

Gentle and deliberate, Eddie presses his other hand into the wet fur on Richie’s belly. Richie instinctively sucks in his gut for about two seconds before he remembers that he doesn’t have to do that anymore. He relaxes under Eddie’s touch, focusing on Eddie’s words and his dark, intent eyes.

“If you feel cramping and you need to stop,” Eddie says. “You just let me know and we can stop, okay? We’ll wait as long as you need, and then we can just pick up the counting where we left off.”

“No rush,” Richie confirms. “Got it.”

“If we do stop, you just need to remember one thing.” Eddie gives Richie’s stomach a firm squeeze. “You have to hold it. You have to hold all of it, all the way until the end. I’ll tell you when you can let go. Do you think you can do that?”

Richie swallows hard. “I think we’re about to find out.”

Eddie smirks and chucks him under the chin. “That’s the spirit.”

“So should I, like, turn around, or—?”

“Yeah, I think— I think maybe if you— if you’re like this—”

Woozy with nerves, Richie is as pliable as fresh playdoh, easy for Eddie to steer around into the prime position to evacuate the bowels. He ends up facing away from the showerhead, which is great because then he doesn’t have to look at the hose dangling in front of his face, which would only make him think about Indiana Jones at undoubtedly the worst possible moment. Instead he can brace his hands on the cool blank canvas of the opposite tile wall, half to anchor himself and half because he just doesn’t know where else to put them. He’s so, so aware of Eddie’s presence directly behind him. It’s like standing in front of a roaring furnace— his skin burns with the truth of it. He jumps when Eddie touches him between the shoulder blades.

“Sorry,” Eddie says automatically. “It’s just me.”

“Me, who?” Richie cracks. “Be more specific!”

Sorry,” Eddie repeats, a little louder. “It’s just me, the guy who just might let your cause of death be an enema-related mishap.”

“Oh, you little turd.” Richie is so nervous his teeth are chattering. “I’m gonna haunt the fuck out of you.”

He has to work really hard to keep his breathing steady as Eddie’s hand travels slowly, deliberately, down the length of his back. It’s a good thing he’s being so gradual and patient, because Richie’s flight reflex is coiled so tight that one wrong move is going to send him smashing through the shower wall in front of him like the goddamn Kool-Aid Man. Oh, no! He bites back a whimper when Eddie’s hand reaches his tailbone.

“Hey, hey, it’s okay,” Eddie soothes. “I’ll tell you when it’s coming. Relax. I’m gonna talk you through it.”

Richie manages a shaky nod. Between the running water and the screaming proximity alarms it takes all of his willpower to focus on the sound of Eddie’s voice.

“Now listen,” Eddie murmurs, low and calm. “Here’s what’s going to happen. We’re going to press the tip of the nozzle right up against you, but we are not pushing it inside, got it? You’re just going to lean back and let the water pressure do all the work.”

“See, that settles it,” Richie tries to keep his voice light. “I definitely would have tried to shove that whole thing up my ass.”

“Yeah, I’ll bet,” Eddie says, and something in his tone makes Richie flush with heat, his thighs buzzing with a faint ache.

“Shut up,” he mumbles. “Asshole.”

“Okay,” Eddie smirks. “Dipshit.”

“So are we gonna fucking do this or what?”

“I don’t know, man, are we?”

“Fuck yeah. Let’s go. Hashtag yolo.”

“Don’t say that.”

“Hashtag swag.”

Richie Tozier, cause of death: enema-related—”

“Okay, okay,” Richie shakes the last of the panicky laughter out of his system. “Okay, okay.”

He jumps again when Eddie lays a hand on his arm, his touch sliding down the length of it until he takes Richie by the wrist and steers him into reaching backwards.

“Here,” Eddie says. “No surprises.” He closes Richie’s fingers around the base of the Cleanstream nozzle, then covers Richie’s hand with his own. “We’ll do it together, yeah?”

(and they’re underground they’re so far underground that the sun is just an abstract concept and they’re trapped on the head of a pin with a monster in the passage behind them and three scary doors before them but then they reach out and their hands touch and it’s gonna be okay everything’s gonna be okay because they’re gonna do it together)

Richie emits a weak sigh of relief. “Yeah, okay.”

“Okay,” Eddie confirms. “You ready, buddy?”

“No,” Richie grits out, then, “Yes.”

“You gotta pick one, Rich.”

“Yes.”

“Yes what?”

“Yes, I’m— I’m ready.” Richie flexes his fingers on the nozzle. “I, uh, I hope I didn’t over-wipe.”

Eddie chuckles and tightens his fingers in response. “You did fine. Now— here it comes.”

He places his free hand on Richie’s hip to hold him steady, then moves their joined grip lower, closer— Richie stares at his palm pressed flat on the wall tile but even that’s too much to process so he clenches his eyes shut and holds his breath. There’s a kiss of warm water on the back of his thighs and he almost goes full-tilt Kool-Aid Man but then Eddie reads his mind and says “beep beep, Richie,” and Richie doesn’t even have time to say fuck you before his brain boils completely to static.

“One,” Eddie says.

“Holy shit,” Richie gasps.

“Two,” Eddie says. “You okay?”

“Yeah, I’m okay.”

“Three.”

“I’m okay, I’m okay.”

“Four.”

You’re okay you’re okay you’re okay. Richie digs his fingernails into the tile with so much force that he’s amazed one or the other doesn’t shatter. His eyes are wide and sightless, his gaze turned inwards to watch all the pressure dials in his body going absolutely haywire, his dumb hindbrain tripping every single warning signal to tell him that he’s going the wrong way down a one-way street. Maybe this is what really sets us apart from the animals, he thinks, wildly. The ability to consciously override our natural instincts so we can get freaky. What a piece of work is Man. He wonders which of their ancestors was the first to come up with this one. That must have been a hell of a sales pitch.

“Nine. Ten.” Eddie squeezes his hand, taking a count off to say, “You’re doing really good, man.” Then, “Twelve. Are you good?”

“Uh huh,” Richie pants.

“Thirteen.”

“No sweat.”

“Fourteen. Good.”

It’s just thirty seconds. He can take it for thirty seconds. Richie clenches his teeth and tries to breathe but he’s getting so full that there’s not enough room for his lungs to expand oh god he’s so full and it’s so warm—

“Eighteen. Nineteen.”

He tries closing his eyes but then he can see his guts swelling up, stretched thin, groaning and expanding like a balloon

(like a big red balloon emerging from a receptacle of ashes and it’s so dark but the balloon is so big and so bright and it just keeps filling and filling and he knows that when it bursts they’re all going to die)

“Eddie,” he gasps, convulsive. “Eddie, Eddie, you gotta stop, stop—”

And it stops, it stops right away, the nozzle immediately replaced by Eddie’s open hand, pressed over him as both reminder and reassurance.

“It’s okay,” Eddie says. “You’re okay, just hold it. Hold it, Richie. There you go. Now breathe.”

Richie leans hard into the wall, both hands braced on the tile and his whole body clenched like a fist, his shoulders hunched with the effort. He can’t stop the hot, frustrated tears from filling his eyes, but he’ll be damned if he lets a single one of them escape without a fight.

“I’m sorry,” he pants through gritted teeth. “Ah, shit, I’m really sorry, man. Fuck.”

“Richie, Richie, it’s okay.” Eddie’s voice over his shoulder is fierce with encouragement. “It’s a lot— I know it’s a lot— but you’re doing so good. Hey, I said it’s okay if you need to stop, remember? So it’s okay. You’re okay.”

Richie blinks just once and the tears make a break for it. Goddamn it. He’s just glad his face is turned away to hide his shame.

“It’s too much, man,” he says weakly. “I can’t do it.”

“Sure you can,” Eddie urges. “I know you can.”

“I can’t,” Richie whines. “I’m serious, it’s too much.”

“Come on, you saw that water pressure, that was nothing. And don’t even get me started on the length and capacity of an adult human colon.” Eddie moves in closer, brushing his chin against Richie’s shoulder. “Hey, Richie, did you know… if you took a grown man... and you stretched out his large intestine from end to end… that motherfucker would be dead.”

It’s like being struck by lightning— Richie actually rises up onto his toes as his entire frame corkscrews with the effort not to literally explode with laughter.

“Shit!” he wheezes, his voice shrill. “I’m gonna shit myself!”

“You better fucking not!” Eddie cackles. “Dude, I am right behind you, don’t you dare!

Richie stares up at the ceiling and beats his fists against the wall as tears of silent mirth stream out of his eyes, his lower lip caught between his teeth to hold the hysterics at bay. He’s painfully aware of Eddie’s free hand wandering down to his hip, creeping out over his belly— damn, that little bastard just loves to press his luck.

“What if I squeezed you right now?” Eddie muses. “Would you really do it? Would you really shit all over me in cold blood?”

“Oh, it’s on sight, bitch,” Richie warns through his giggles. “Don’t test me.”

Eddie laughs and grazes his teeth over the span of Richie’s back, and Jesus, that’s almost enough to doom them both right there. Somehow — and certainly no thanks to Mr. Kaspbrak — Richie manages to get himself under some semblance of control, and he sticks his thumb and forefinger under his glasses to wipe away the last of the giddy tears, his breath gradually coming back to him.

“You son of a bitch,” he says, looking over his shoulder. “You would have deserved it, too.”

“But you didn’t do it,” Eddie simpers. “Aw, Richie, you do care.”

“I do, you know,” Richie says, raw and impulsive. “I really fucking do.”

The mischievous gleam in Eddie’s eyes lowers like a gaslight into something hushed and glowing, his smirk unspooling into a soft, open mouth. God, he looks so young.

“Yeah,” he mumbles, his voice small. “I know, man.”

He takes in another breath like he’s about to say something else— but Richie beats him to the punch, plastering on a dumb smile before things can get too heavy.

“Okay,” he says brightly. “So where’d we leave off? Twenty-seven? Twenty-eight? We gotta be close, right?”

Eddie narrows his eyes and tilts his head, but after an excruciating beat of consideration, he’s generous enough to let it slide.

“Twenty-one, Rain Man,” he says. “Think you can handle another nine seconds?”

“Bitch, please,” Richie scoffs. “Don’t you know anything about the adult human colon? I mean, come on, don’t even get me started on the capacity.”

Eddie smiles at him and Richie smiles back, tossing in a dorky wink for good measure. It makes Eddie laugh, which is all Richie could have ever wanted and then some.

“All right, baby,” Richie tosses his head. “Fill ‘er up.”

Eddie flicks the spray up along his back. “All right, don’t rush me.”

Richie turns his eyes forward again, this time to hide his helpless, hopeless grin. He doesn’t have a hand on the nozzle anymore but it doesn’t matter— he’s more than willing to leave himself under Eddie’s capable command. There’s a change in the water sound behind him and he knows that Eddie is trailing his fingers under the running stream, making sure that the temperature is still just right. Then his hand settles back on Richie’s hip to give him a galvanizing squeeze.

“Okay,” Eddie says. “You ready?”

“Red Leader,” Richie parrots back. “Standing by.”

Eddie rolls his eyes so hard that Richie can hear it. “I’ll take that as a yes.” He clears his throat. “Okay, so, I’m going to count down from three. Then we’re going to count up to nine, and then—” He squeezes Richie’s hip again. “Well, I’ll tell you what to do when we get there.”

“Okay, so,” Richie says. “Three, two, and then, on one?”

“What?” Eddie huffs. “No. I just said, I’ll count down from three.”

“No, yeah, I get that,” Richie fidgets his fingers on the wall. “But like, are you actually going to start on one, or is it gonna be like, three-two-one, and then, go?

Eddie pauses. “Three-two-one, and then, go.”

“Cool,” Richie nods. “Cool, cool.”

There’s another long pause, and then Eddie laughs, a silly, dazed sound that blooms in Richie’s ears like the dazzling burst of a firework.

“Okay,” Eddie says at last. “Three, two, one, go.”

Richie times his exhale with the first rush of water, and it helps a little to combat that sudden, swollen feeling, his guts rising up inside of him like an oncoming tide. Eddie’s voice is as steady as a metronome — “Two. Three. Four.” — fuck Richie can really feel it this time, the contents of his colon stirred and shifting, his body growing heavy with the weight of it. He bares his teeth — “Five. Six.” — come on, come on, be brave, be like Eddie— Richie drops his head between his shoulders and forces himself to say out loud, “Seven. Eight. Nine.”

The pressure stops. Richie bites back a strangled sound of relief, his body instinctively clenched even before Eddie says, “Okay, now hold it.” There’s a chuff of laughter from behind him as Eddie adds, “Uh, please.” Richie nods his agreement, not trusting himself to speak. He swears he can hear his guts making the same low, heavy groaning sound that they dub into movies when they show a huge tank of water. He stares down at the shower floor, amazed that his eyeballs haven’t popped out of his skull from the pressure. Somewhere a million miles away he can hear the rush of the nozzle getting louder, harder, and he realizes that Eddie must have turned up the water pressure as high as it will go.

“Good, you’re doing good,” Eddie murmurs, and he gently takes Richie by the shoulder as he slides past him. “Hang on, I’m just gonna—”

He scoots along the edge of the tub and ducks under Richie’s bracketed arm, sliding up between Richie’s hands with his back to the wall. With his gaze still glued to the floor, Richie watches Eddie point the nozzle down between his feet, the spray angled back towards the drain. In a sudden panic Richie jerks up his head, his eyes huge with comprehension.

“Wait, are you serious?”

“Uh huh,” Eddie looks up at him with a trusting smile. “It’s okay, this is the easy part. All you have to do is let go.”

“Let go?” Richie stares at him like he’s just started speaking in tongues. “You mean, like, let go let go?”

“Well, yeah,” Eddie’s brow creases in confusion. “Why else do you think we took the cover off the drain?”

Right at that moment Richie wishes more than anything that he had the presence of mind to make an inappropriate crack about a certain psychotic clown hiding down below. It would be the perfect distraction— but his wiseass instincts have decided to fail him at the worst possible time. There’s no Trashmouth here. There’s only Richie Tozier, so freaked out that he can barely string together a sentence, let alone a clever one. He can barely speak at all, his voice as weak as his nerves.

“I dunno, man,” he croaks feebly. “Are you sure?”

“It’s fine, Richie,” Eddie waggles the stream of water so it nips at Richie’s heels. “It’s all gonna go right down the drain, see? No muss, no fuss. I mean, there is some muss, but hey, that’s what we’re here for, right?”

And he sounds so casual, so calm, like this isn’t completely crazy and weird and gross. When Richie shifts his weight he can literally feel the mess inside of him, monstrous and foul, taking all of his concentration to keep it contained. All of a sudden he can’t think of anything worse than literally spilling his guts all over the floor of this shower. He didn’t know it was possible to feel so full and so small at the same time, shrinking with embarrassment even while he plasters one hand over his swollen belly in a futile attempt to ease the strain. It answers with a threatening gurgle that makes Eddie raise his eyebrows.

“Dude,” he says.

Richie squeezes his eyes shut. “I can’t.”

He doesn’t want to look, certain that he’ll see an expression of impatient frustration on Eddie’s face. He flinches when Eddie touches his shoulder— Eddie immediately retracts his hand, a sharp note of alarm in his voice.

“Richie, what’s wrong? Are you okay?”

His audible fear only compounds Richie’s guilt until he’s almost sick with it. God, he feels absolutely disgusting. This is all his fault. He wasn’t ready for this. He just assumed, as usual, that he’d be able to bluff his way through it. Even in the humid confines of the shower he’s aware of the sweat beaded on his forehead, his body trembling with the effort to hold in his shame.

“Talk to me, Rich,” Eddie says, forceful. “You gotta talk to me, man. What’s going on? What is it?”

“It’s fucking gross, okay? ” Richie barks. He’s humiliated and miserable and too much of a coward to open his eyes. “It’s gross, man, fuck! What the fuck do you want me to say? It’s gross it’s just fucking gross and I don’t— I don’t want you to see that, man, I don’t want to make you see that.”

He sucks in a gulping, hiccupy breath, completely taken aback by the last words that just came bursting out of his mouth. Now he’s terrified that he’s going to accidentally look up and make eye contact, so with one hand still braced on the wall, he shoves the other up under his glasses, pressing down hard over his eyelids to hide.

“Shit, Eddie,” he mutters. “I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay, Richie,” Eddie says, so soft, so close. “It’s okay.”

He doesn’t try to reach out and touch him again. He just leans towards Richie’s planted arm until his shoulder nudges up against the underside of Richie’s wrist, offering himself as an anchor. Richie’s hand drops from the wall to grab onto it without thinking. He still can’t uncover his eyes.

“I fucked up,” he rasps. “God, this is so stupid.”

“It’s not stupid.”

I’m stupid.”

“Well, yeah, but I don’t hold that against you.”

Richie laughs, weak but genuine. He lowers his hand but he’s too chicken to look yet so he leans forward blindly, slow and tentative until Eddie meets him halfway, his forehead pressed against Richie’s in reassurance. Richie doesn’t know how Eddie got so goddamn strong but he’ll never stop being grateful for it. He grabs Eddie’s other shoulder and leans into him, trying to absorb as much as possible.

“It’s bad, Eds,” he grits out. “It’s gonna be so bad. I don’t— I don’t want to do it.”

“I hear you, Richie,” Eddie says. “But you gotta do it, man. You can’t keep it in there forever.”

Richie groans in tandem with his aching belly. “What goes up, must come down.”

“You got it.” Eddie gives him a playful butt with his forehead. “Don’t tell me this is the first time you’ve taken a shit in the shower, Tozier.”

“Shut up,” Richie retorts. “It was college. I was drunk.” He tries for a nonchalant laugh and comes up with something almost like a whimper. “And, uh, I was alone.”

When Eddie sighs he’s near enough for Richie to feel his breath, a puff of warmth against his mouth that makes his lips part in answer. This time when Eddie reaches out there’s no flinch at all, and his hand settles in the curve where Richie’s neck meets his shoulder, his grip comforting and steady.

“Listen, Richie,” he says, his voice just as comforting, just as steady. “One way or another, you’re gonna have to let that all come out of you. That’s just how it goes. Now if you want me to leave, I can leave, okay? That’s fine. I get it.” The grip on Richie’s shoulder tightens fractionally. “But don’t you ever think for one second that I want to go.”

Richie is so startled that he looks up before he can stop himself, his disbelieving stare met by Eddie’s cool, unflinching gaze. This must be what it feels like when Eddie can’t tell if he’s being serious or not. It’s a lot scarier than Richie thought it would be.

“C’mon, man,” he says, uneasy. “Don’t— don’t tell me you want to stay.”

Eddie is completely unfazed. “Damn right I want to stay.”

Dude,” Richie hisses, almost offended by his calm. “This is fucking nasty, it’s gonna be so nasty.”

“So?” Eddie scoffs. “What, you think I’m scared?” He gives Richie a pointed look. “I’ve seen worse. A lot worse.”

Richie’s eyes dart down to the jagged starburst scar below Eddie’s left shoulder, one half of the matched set that only begins to prove his point, with a doozy under his cheekbone for emphasis. Richie is about to say touché— but a treacherous shift in his guts makes him whine and clamp his thighs together instead, his eyes going wide with panic.

“Eds,” he gasps. “I can’t hold it.”

“Do you want me to go?” Eddie reaches for the shower curtain. “Just tell me if you want me to go.”

It would be so easy. All Richie has to do is nod his head and he’ll be left alone, free to disgrace himself in solitude, his shame no one’s business but his own. No one ever has to see. No one ever has to know. So easy. All he has to do is nod. So of course, Richie blurts out:

“I want you to stay.”

Sometimes that uncontrollable mouth actually comes in handy. Richie didn’t even know he was going to say it, but as soon as he does, he knows it’s right. It’s more than right. He doesn’t just want Eddie to stay— he needs Eddie to stay. He can’t do this without him. He might as well try to scale Everest without a guide, or else fight a psychotic clown without any backup. If Eddie leaves him alone in here then he’ll be up shit creek without a paddle, and he’ll have no one to blame but himself.

But oh, god, what if Eddie wasn’t being serious— what if he was just trying to make Richie calm down, what if he wants to run run run— Richie clings to Eddie’s shoulders, his voice small and scared.

“Can you stay with me?” He tries not to squeeze him too tight. “I mean, uh— please. Please stay.”

Eddie smiles up at him, his eyes so full of love that Richie almost checks over his shoulder to make sure he’s not looking at someone else. Nope. Just you, Tozier, you lucky son of a bitch.

“I’m right here, man,” Eddie says. “I’m not going anywhere.”

Richie makes a ridiculous strangled sound in the back of his throat that he couldn’t transcribe if his life depended on it. Then, at Eddie’s nod, he spreads his feet a little wider as if bracing himself for a tackle, his hands still on Eddie’s shoulders for support. Eddie keeps the Cleanstream nozzle pointed down between them, his other hand cradling the side of Richie’s neck. Richie wishes he could just teleport the contents of his guts into outer space.

“Feels weird, man,” he says, strained. “Feels really fucking weird.”

“It’s okay, Richie,” Eddie says. “It’s okay. You can let go now.”

“Dude are you sure are you really sure—”

“I’m sure dude I’m really sure I’m like so sure—”

“Ugh fuck I can’t I’m gonna— I’m gonna—”

“It’s okay you’re okay just let go Richie let go—”

It happens with all the inevitability of pressure and gravity— the pop of a champagne cork, the burst of a broken dam— Richie bites down on a yelp as his defenses give way and the filth breaks free, a thick, heavy rush pouring out of him with the most awful splattering sound he could have possibly imagined. It’s so, so much worse than he even feared. For some reason he kept imagining that everything would have the consistency of a really dense chocolate malt, which is, yeah, extremely gross, but still manageably predictable. The reality is less like a milkshake and more like a can of Campbell’s Chunky soup. Richie would throw up if he wasn’t already trying so hard not to cry.

“Oh Jesus,” he pants, his eyes screwed shut in absolute mortification. “Oh fuck, fuck, I’m sorry man, I’m sorry, god—”

“It’s okay, you’re okay,” Eddie keeps murmuring, like a mantra or a prayer. “It’s okay, you’re okay.”

A second wave bursts out of Richie and he moans in dismay, dropping his head to hide his face, his hands still clutched on to Eddie’s shoulders for dear life. He’s dimly aware of Eddie sweeping the nozzle back and forth between his feet, maintaining an even stream of water to push everything towards the drain and oh, god, that means he’s looking at it, he can see it, he can see all of it, Richie Tozier’s guts spilled at his feet and they’re just as disgusting as Richie always knew they would be.

“I’m sorry,” Richie can’t stop saying it, he can’t stop any of it. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry— god Eddie I’m so sorry—”

“It’s okay. You’re okay.”

There’s one last surge and then the flood abates, the pressure relieved, Richie left gasping and shuddering as he struggles to regain control of his faculties. He’s so dizzy that he doesn’t resist when Eddie tugs gently on the back of his neck, guiding him down until his forehead comes to rest on Eddie’s shoulder. It helps, a little, to anchor him. He’s still so overstimulated that he jumps when Eddie reaches around behind him with the nozzle, only to be hit with another pang when he realizes that Eddie is washing him off. Richie doesn’t remember when he started crying but he’s definitely crying now, sobbing his eyes out as Eddie Kaspbrak sprays the shit off the back of his legs.

“Fuck,” he chokes out. “I’m sorry, Eds.”

“It’s okay, Richie,” Eddie soothes. “You’re okay.”

“It’s so bad,” Richie hiccups. “I’m sorry, it’s so bad, it’s really bad.”

He gulps back another sob as Eddie starts petting his hair, stroking his hand from Richie’s crown to the nape of his neck, a gesture that he repeats on a slow, comforting loop. When he speaks, his mouth is so close to Richie’s ear that the words have an almost tangible heat.

“Listen to me, Richie,” he says, low and fierce. “I know how you feel right now, okay? I know. And I just— I want you to know that you’re not— dirty.” His breath catches, his voice on the verge of cracking. “This doesn’t make you dirty, and it’s not— it’s not because you’re dirty. It has nothing to do with any of that. So don’t say you’re sorry. It’s good. You’re good. Okay?”

Richie raises his head, awestruck, to look into the eyes of the bravest man he’s ever known. Eddie gives him a crooked smile in return.

“Okay?” he prompts.

“Yeah, okay,” Richie says weakly, sniffing down a loud slurp of weepy snot. “Thanks, man.”

Eddie nods and squeezes the back of Richie’s neck, then brings his hand forward so he can swipe his thumb through the tears on Richie’s face.

“Geez, Tozier, get a grip,” he says, his eyes wet and shining. “You crybaby piece of shit.”

“Oh, that’s some big talk.” Richie cups Eddie’s face in answer. “Coming from the guy who cried at the end of You’ve Got Mail.”

“Everybody cries at the end of You’ve Got Mail. That doesn’t count.”

“I didn’t cry at the end.”

“Yeah, well, you cried at the end of Terminator 2.”

“Okay, c’mon, that’s like, some iconic shit.”

“Uh huh.”

“That kid really loved that robot, man.”

“Stop, I’m getting all choked up.”

“No, that’s just the smell.”

Eddie breaks first, cracking up with laughter while Richie theatrically fans the air in front of his nose, his face contorted in an expression of exaggerated apology as he stage-whispers, “Sorry about that.” He reaches out to fan the air in front of Eddie’s nose too— only for Eddie to catch his hand and bring it to his lips for a kiss. Richie exhales, sharp, like he just got kicked in the chest. Eddie gives him a knowing smirk.

“Doesn’t smell like caca to me, señor.”

Richie lets out a quavery laugh. “Guess it must be my breath, then.”

“Must be.”

Richie is winding up for his next retort when his guts interrupt with an obnoxious rumble, his hand clapped over his stomach in reflex.

“Whoa, whoa,” he says with a hint of alarm. “Eddie, I think— I think there’s more in there.”

“Oh, there’s a lot more in there,” Eddie says, cool as a cucumber. “We went all the way up to the transverse colon, remember?”

“The fuck is that supposed to mean?” Richie wonders with dread, already knowing that he won’t like the answer.

“Well, Richie, it means the water has to come around a lot of corners.” Eddie rests the tip of his index finger against Richie’s belly, just below the navel. “Here’s the first one. This is where the rectum meets the sigmoid.”

“Oh, yeah,” Richie says. “Talk dirty to me.”

Unperturbed, Eddie drags his fingertip in a horizontal line towards Richie’s left hip. “The sigmoid colon passes to the left until it meets the descending colon. That’s corner number two.” The finger tracks upwards along Richie’s side. “Then we follow the descending colon up towards—”

“Wait, the descending colon goes up?”

The fingertip digs in for a poke. “We’re going backwards, Richie.”

“Right, right.”

“Corner number three.” Eddie charts another horizontal line just under the arch of the ribcage, this time back towards the right. “The transverse colon.”

“Boy, we really got all the way up in there, huh.”

“Yep.” Eddie traces back down along the right side. “Then here’s the ascending colon to finish it out. The whole thing is about five feet long altogether.”

“Wow,” Richie marvels. “I never knew my colon was taller than you, Eddie. Nature is amazing.”

Eddie jabs him with his finger again, and this time Richie feels it like someone slapping a waterbed, the impact vibrating inside of him and making him suck in his breath.

“Easy, easy,” he protests. “Contents under pressure, here.”

“Oh I’ll show you contents under pressure,” Eddie threatens, but he withdraws his hand all the same.

Richie squirms. “So, uh… ready to go again?”

“You can try,” Eddie says, which is kind of cryptic.

Mustering up a burst of willpower, Richie turns his attention inwards and downwards, then concentrates on a good push. He’s met with the physical equivalent of stepping on the gas while the car is still in neutral. Not only does nothing come out, but the force of his effort creates the sensation of looping his intestines into a loose knot and then yanking tight with both hands. Richie winces and shoots Eddie an annoyed look.

“Wow,” he says. “That was super helpful.”

“Hey, it might have worked,” Eddie says. “What goes up, must come down, right?”

“So why won’t it come down?”

“It’s that first corner.” Eddie indicates the space below Richie’s navel again. “The sigmoid. See, it doesn’t just turn straight down, it actually arches up first.” He traces a quick demonstration of the problem. “So, uh, everything beyond this point really does have to go up before it can come down.”

“Oh, okay, cool, cool,” Richie says, peevish, his guts cramping painfully. “I guess I’ll just stand on my fucking head, then. Or maybe I should do a couple of cartwheels, would that do the trick?”

“Why don’t you give it a shot, smartass,” Eddie snaps back. “I could use a good laugh.”

There’s another loud gurgle from Richie’s belly that knocks all the attitude out of him, his expression almost turning into something downright pitiful before he catches it and forces it into a feeble imitation of a nonchalant grin.

“I’m, uh, not having the best time here, Eds.”

“I know, I know,” Eddie says, his tone sincere. “I’m sorry. We’re gonna fix that. Do you trust me?”

The question is so out of the blue at this point that Richie actually does a double-take. “Wait, what?”

Eddie looks completely serious. “Do you trust me, Richie?”

Richie almost laughs as a sheer defense mechanism, but he redirects the impulse into a deep breath instead, steeling himself instead of shielding himself. His face becomes as serious as Eddie’s, his gaze steady.

“Yeah, man,” he says. “I do.”

“Good,” Eddie says, and then there’s the beginning of a smile. “Then you’ll believe me when I say that everything I’m about to tell you to do is for your own good and not just for my personal amusement.”

Richie groans. “Whaaat.”

“I mean it,” Eddie says. “These are all tricks to help the water move and come out of you.” He’s visibly trying not to smile now. “It’s just, uh, they might make you feel a little… silly.”

Silly,” Richie echoes. “Not exactly a word that I ever would have associated with getting an enema.”

“Really?” Eddie seems genuinely surprised by the remark. “Man, that’s like, one of the first words I would use.” He suppresses a giggle. “I mean, how could you not?”

It’s funny, but as soon as he says it, it’s like a switch flips and a part of Richie finally understands that’s the root of the whole problem— he’s been using the wrong words. Because if you asked him thirty seconds ago which words he would associate with getting an enema, his garbage goblin brain would have lit up with zingers like humiliating and shameful and, yes, dirty. Now he can see that he’s been coming at this from the wrong angle. This isn’t humiliating. It’s just silly, and in the grand scheme of things, he can’t think of anyone else in the world that he would rather get silly with.

“Y’know,” he says. “I think you’re right, man. This is silly as fuck.”

“Yeah, man,” Eddie’s face breaks into a delighted grin. “It’s really fucking silly. Fucking look at you.”

“Look at you, you silly motherfucker.”

“Oh, I’m a silly motherfucker?”

“You heard me, Kaspbrak.”

“Well I guess it takes one to know one.”

“C’mon, Eddie, if I wanted my own comeback I would’ve wiped it off your chin.”

For the second time Eddie points the Cleanstream nozzle directly into Richie’s face— only this time he’s got the water pressure turned up to maximum and it almost blasts the glasses right off of his head. Richie yelps and grabs onto the frames while Eddie hastily points the stream down again, trying to apologize but laughing too hard to actually do so. Richie snorts out the water that shot up his nose and wonders if it would be weird to propose marriage mid-enema.

“Okay, for real though,” he says instead, taking off his glasses and shaking off the worst of the wet. “I’m stuffed up to the transverse and it’s starting to get old. Let’s get this show on the road.”

“Funny you should say show,” Eddie snickers. “‘Cause, uh, it’s time for you to dance, hot stuff.”

“Cue up the Donna Summer,” Richie quips.

“Don’t tempt me,” Eddie says. “I told you this wasn’t just for my personal amusement.”

“Aww, but what if I want it to be?” Richie waggles his chest. “Are you not entertained?”

“That’s one way of describing how I feel right now,” Eddie says mildly. “But you’re shaking the wrong stuff, Donna. Think lower.”

A simple enough request, but wow, he wasn’t kidding about feeling silly. Richie gives his hips one half-hearted shimmy and has to look away from the sight of his belly jiggling from side to side, his swollen guts sloshing around in a way that would be undeniably comical if it didn’t make him feel so goddamn gross.

“There we go,” Eddie nods his encouragement. “C’mon, shake it, baby, lemme see that Truffle Shuffle.”

It helps, if only because it gives Richie something else to think about, his hands automatically reaching to hike up an invisible aloha shirt, his body seized by the instinctive compulsion to take a cue and run with it. He manages a passable version of the dance while Eddie hoots with glee, one hand clapped over his mouth to stifle his mirth. In another life Richie would keep it up until Eddie was well and truly howling, but in this life he’s forty-one years old and he’s got approximately ten seconds of Truffle Shuffle in him before he sags with an exhausted groan.

“Blugh,” he pants. “There’s my cardio for the day.”

“Next stop, the Ironman Triathlon,” Eddie chuckles. “How are you feeling?”

“I’m super,” Richie simpers. “Thanks for asking.”

Eddie raises an eyebrow. “Do you want me to poke you again?”

“Gee, I dunno, Eddie,” Richie gives him a wolfish grin. “Isn’t that the whole reason we’re doing this in the first place?”

Now it’s Eddie’s turn to go red in the face, his eyes averted and his mouth pulled into a tight, flustered smile.

“Shut up,” he mumbles. “Asshole.”

“Okay,” Richie smirks. “Dipshit.”

“Seriously, though, how do you feel? Do you want to try for another push?”

“Might as well, right?”

Now that the boundary is behind them, it’s a little easier to let go this time, Richie reminding himself how silly it is, it’s just silly, that’s all. The Truffle Shuffle did the trick— he tries not to wince too visibly when he hears just how productive it was, a sickening wet splatter that makes his skin crawl and his gag reflex tap him menacingly on the shoulder.

“Oh my god,” he mutters. “That is— that is really something.”

“C’mon, it’s not so bad,” Eddie says. “See, you get to break up the bigger pieces with the water pressure. It’s like, uh, it’s like a carnival game.”

Richie reels back and stares at him in bewilderment. “Excuse me, who the fuck are you?”

Eddie looks past him, the nozzle flicking back and forth with his wrist. “Or it’s like— it’s like Space Invaders, y’know? Hit the blocks and break ‘em up.” He nods. “Look.”

“Pass,” Richie says loudly. “Hard pass.” He tilts his head to try and catch Eddie’s gaze with his own. “Are you fucking with me right now? Who are you?”

Eddie furrows his brow. “What do you mean?”

“I mean, you are Señor Eduardo I’m Not Going In The Greywater Kaspbrak.” Richie can feel a bubble of nervous laughter trapped in the back of his throat, threatening to burst out of him in self-defense. “How the fuck are you not running for the hills right now?”

From the way Eddie pauses and frowns, Richie can tell that it’s something he hadn’t even considered himself. He seems just as confused as Richie, his eyes darting from side to side as he searches his inner workings for an explanation.

“I dunno, man,” he says slowly. “I guess… I guess I just… I know it came from you.” Then he has the audacity to shrug, like he didn’t just say the most incredible thing Richie has ever heard. “So I don’t mind.” He looks up at Richie’s face. “Dude, are you crying again?”

“No,” Richie says, wiping the tears from under his glasses.

“C’mon, Richie,” Eddie says, his voice thick with emotion. “C’mon, man.”

He pulls Richie into his arms, his face nuzzled into the curve of Richie’s throat, Richie’s nose buried in the dark thickness of his hair. Richie is shaking like a leaf, his legs so wobbly that he has to hang on to Eddie for balance. The hand holding the Cleanstream nozzle ended up between Richie’s shoulders, and now a curtain of water courses pleasantly down the span of his back, over his thighs, and all the way down to his heels. With the warm water pressed against the back of him and Eddie’s warm body pressed against the front of him, Richie feels held in a way that makes his chest ache and his eyes burn.

“You’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me,” he rasps. “Jesus, fuck, I’d do it all again if it got me here.”

“Shut up,” Eddie chokes out. “Just shut up, Richie.”

He squeezes Richie like he never wants to let go, a squeeze so tight that Richie feels it— yep— in his transverse colon. It’s the perfect excuse for him to clear his throat and wriggle out of the embrace, his voice pitched into the drawl of a James Cagney-style gangster.

“A’right, a’right, a’right,” he scrubs his wrist under his nose. “Back on da clock, nozzle boy. We got some unfinished business.”

“A’right, a’right, a’right,” Eddie mimics, swiping the heel of his hand under each eye in turn. “Wise guy.”

They take in a matching set of deep breaths and exhale at each other in mutual agreement. Then Richie gives his belly an experimental pat.

“I’m gonna be honest with you,” he says. “I don’t know if I’ve got another Truffle Shuffle in me.”

“That’s fair,” Eddie allows.

“You said something about tricks, plural?” Richie prompts. “So what’s Plan B?”

“Okay, well,” Eddie begins, his tone bright and informative. “You know how when you need to make a dog take a pill, you can massage its throat to make it swallow?”

“Hoo, boy,” Richie wrinkles his nose. “Yeah, this is already super appealing.”

“No, I mean—” Eddie pinches the bridge of his nose with a sigh. “Look. My point is that the internal workings of the body can be manipulated by external pressure.”

Richie waggles his eyebrows. “You don’t need pressure to make me swallow, baby.”

Don’t even start,” Eddie blurts out, his cheeks instantly flushed with color. “Oh my god.”

Richie prods him with a feeble pseudo-Truffle Shuffle. “Aaagh.” He immediately grabs his back and cants sideways. “Ugh, nope, nope, bad idea, abort, abort.”

“Okay, okay, don’t hurt yourself,” Eddie reaches out to halt his theatrical contorting. “Seriously.”

Richie settles down on the outside, but his insides decide to carry on with some contorting of their own, and he is, quite frankly, not a fan. He shifts impatiently from foot to foot.

“Let’s go, okay, I’m ready to drop the kids off at the pool already.”

Eddie makes a little moue of displeasure at the euphemism, but ultimately decides not to dignify it with a response. Instead he resets his voice to the same brisk, professional tone, his delivery not unlike the host of a cooking show explaining how to execute a particular technique in the kitchen.

“As I was saying, the internal workings of the body can be manipulated by external pressure. Which basically means, you can encourage the movement of your bowels by, uh—” He can’t help but smirk here. “Rubbing your belly.”

Richie narrows his eyes. “I thought you said this wasn’t for your personal amusement.”

“I said it wasn’t just for my personal amusement,” Eddie corrects loftily. “That does not exclude such a thing if it should occur. Which it has. Repeatedly.”

“And now this,” Richie sighs dramatically. “Belly rubs. What’s next, are you gonna make me do the Macarena?”

“Oh, please, make you?” Eddie rolls his eyes, his tone incredulous. “Let’s be real here, if you overheard the Macarena playing within even the slightest fraction of hearing distance then you would literally trample any living human being who stood between you and the center of that dance floor. You would break the fucking sound barrier to get to that dance floor. Don’t even try to say you wouldn’t. I’ve seen what happens to you when you hear the YMCA. In fact, I think if you heard the Macarena right now then I wouldn’t be able to stop you from charging out of here buck naked with your guts full of greywater. So don’t say I’m gonna make you do the Macarena. Please. You wish I would let you do the Macarena.” He jerks his chin downwards with a decisive scoff. “Now rub that belly, motherfucker. Clockwise.”

From somewhere in the depths of his shell-shocked stupor, Richie tries to remember if he ever reached a decision on the whole marriage-proposal-mid-enema issue. It’s definitely getting harder and harder to resist the impulse. It’s just that he can’t imagine a greater pleasure— a more profound privilege— than being absolutely, entirely, and utterly roasted alive by the love of his life. They both know that Richie would do the Macarena if he was on his deathbed, and not only is Eddie still here in spite of that, but he’s never going to let Richie forget it.

It’s kind of hard to form a coherent thought in such a thoroughly infatuated state. The best Richie can manage is a dazed mumble of: “...which way is clockwise again?”

Eddie sighs in affectionate exasperation. Then, in a reaction so smooth that Richie never could have planned it, Eddie reaches out to press his hand over Richie’s stomach.

“Like this.”

Richie gulps audibly as Eddie starts to massage his belly in firm, clockwise circles, his fingers trailing spirals in the dark wet hair. It makes Richie rock up onto his toes and back down to his heels again, his hands fumbling to grab Eddie’s shoulders to steady himself. Eddie isn’t shy about it— he pushes hard enough to exert pressure on those internal workings, coaxing the contents up and over the sigmoid curve. Richie blinks in dumb awe at his strength.

“Oh, man,” he mumbles. “Yeah, uh— things are— things are definitely moving in there.”

“Yeah, I thought so,” Eddie agrees. “Let’s give it a minute and then you can try another push.”

He keeps up the slow, deliberate rhythm, as lazy and unhurried as a cat making biscuits, his gaze turned up serenely towards Richie’s face. He looks so damn good that Richie can’t keep his eyes on him or he’ll go blind, so he looks down at Eddie’s hand instead, trying to distract himself before he starts crying again.

“Very good, Daniel-san,” he says, his tone grave. “Wax on, wax off.”

“Just wax on, actually,” Eddie demurs. “Always clockwise. Gotta go with the flow.”

And at the exact same instant, they both say, “And speaking of flows—”

Startled, they break off and stare at each other, amazed by the synchronicity. Richie gets his bearings back first.

“Jinx,” he grins. “You owe me a soda.”

Eddie gives him a dazed, wondering smile. “I guess I do, huh.”

“I’ll take a Wild Cherry Pepsi at your earliest convenience.”

Eddie’s smile evaporates like flash paper. “...you’ll take a what.”

Richie holds up his hand to mime placing an order over the phone. “Oh, yeah, and can I get that without the judgment, please? That’d be great.”

“Dude, how the hell can you seriously drink a full sugar soda? Are you insane? Do you know what kind of damage you’re doing to your teeth?”

“If it makes you feel any better, I plan to dilute it significantly with alcohol.”

“Oh, okay, well in that case, knock yourself out.”

Listen, man— nowhere in the Jinx Rule of Law does it say that the Jinxee gets to dictate the choice of soda. You are honorbound to fulfill this request or die by the sword.”

“I don’t remember the sword part.”

“It’s a recent addition.”

“Is that so.”

“Wild— Cherry—”

“—Pepsi. Got it.” Eddie grimaces in annoyance. “Ugh, it couldn’t even be Coke, could it? You really have to be a Pepsi guy?”

Richie exhales and looks up at the ceiling for strength. “All right. So, you remember that commercial when we were kids? I think we would have been like, ten, maybe eleven— there was this Pepsi commercial with Tina Turner and— and—”

“—and David Bowie.” Eddie’s eyes light up with joy. “No way. No fucking way.”

“I mean at the time I thought it was Tina!” Richie cackles. “I really did! And I mean, yeah, she was fierce. It was just, you know, incidental that Mr. Bowie had such incredible cheekbones.” He offers a helpless shrug. “Made me a Pepsi man for life.”

Eddie shakes his head like he’s marveling at a priceless work of art. “You gay motherfucker.”

“You’re telling me,” Richie says. “Mr. Boys’ Life Magazine.”

“Careful, pal,” Eddie holds up a finger in a warning. “You don’t want to mess with a guy who knows as much about knot-tying as I do.”

There’s that ache in Richie’s thighs again, his guts suddenly full of nothing but butterflies.

“Don’t threaten me with a good time,” he manages to say, the words sassy but the tone unmistakably smitten.

With an expression of palpable consideration, Eddie takes a leisurely sweep of Richie’s body from head to toe, and oh god, Richie can see him thinking about it. Well. They’re just going to have to save that for a rainy day. Right now they’re kind of in the middle of something.

“Okay, Daniel-san,” Eddie says. “Time for wax out.”

“You’re Daniel-san,” Richie reminds him. “I’m Mr. Miyagi.”

“You’re full of shit, is what you are.”

“Not for long.”

“Sometime today, Mr. Miyagi.”

“Don’t rush me, Daniel-san.”

Richie works his way through a final series of pushes, only for the last one to be capped with a truly spectacular fart that makes him guffaw in surprise and embarrassment. He runs an internal inventory while Eddie washes away the latest mess, and the conclusion he reaches is both welcome and a relief.

“Hey, man, I really feel a lot better,” he says. “I think that was the end of it.”

“That’s great, Richie,” Eddie reaches up to give him a congratulatory pat on the chest. “One cycle down, four to go.”

Richie can practically hear glass shattering in the back of his mind.

“Dude,” he says. “That is so not funny.”

But instead of fessing up to the joke, Eddie recoils from him with a genuinely miffed expression.

Dude,” he says. “Were you even paying attention at all when we went over this?”

After a quick rewind and review of the security footage, Richie finds that all the audio of Eddie’s painstaking explanation of the entire procedure is completely drowned out by his own shrieking internal monologue of it’s cool it’s cool everything’s cool this is fine how hard can it be it’s fine it’s cool.

“Uh,” he says. “It’s complicated.”

“Wow,” Eddie says.

“But that’s why you’re here, right?” Richie appeals. “Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope.”

“Excuse you,” Eddie counters. “I am obviously Han Solo.”

“More like Luke Skywalker.” Richie makes a smug face. “Aren’t you a little short for a Stormtroop—”

“You’re one to talk, you Wookiee piece of shit!” Eddie interjects, and then with absolutely perfect inflection and attitude, he zings off, “Will somebody get this big walking carpet out of my way?

Of course, Richie thinks privately, in his nerdy heart of hearts. Of course Eddie would be Princess Leia.

“So,” he says, his tone resigned. “Four more, huh.”

“At minimum, yeah. Usually takes at least an hour.” Eddie nods towards the drain. “We keep going until the water runs clear.”

“Awesome.”

“You think you’re up for it?”

“I can take anything you dish out, Kaspbrak.”

With a knowing look, Eddie leans in close and breathes, “I’m gonna hold you to that, Tozier.”

---

Eddie brings him a bourbon when they’re done, two fingers of Blanton’s neat, a glass in each hand as he comes padding back into the bedroom wearing nothing but a towel. Richie is dressed to match, reclining on the bed with his back against the headboard, his hands clasped over a belly that feels noticeably, conspicuously empty. That’s one of the ways Eddie said he’d be able to tell when they were done. It’s a different kind of cramping, not convex but concave, his overcrowded guts now as desolate as a stadium a few hours after the game lets out. Even the janitorial crew has checked out for the night— true to his word, Eddie kept going until the water ran clear.

“Are you sure this is okay?” Richie wonders, accepting the offered tumbler. “Should I really be drinking on an empty, uh, everything?”

“Sure, why not?” Eddie crawls up on the bed and settles beside him. “It’s just gonna make you a really cheap date, is all.”

“Oh, well, in that case,” Richie laughs and lifts his glass. “Bottoms up.”

“Cheers,” Eddie agrees, tapping their drinks together with a satisfying clink.

They come to rest against the headboard together, their shoulders not quite touching, both sets of legs crossed comfortably at the ankle. That’s really the only word for it— comfortable. Richie looks down at his two hands joined around the tumbler and thinks about how he would be content to stay right here, just like this, till death do they part.

“Hey, Richie,” Eddie says, soft. “I just— I wanna say— I’m really proud of you, man.”

Richie squirms and suddenly becomes very interested in his bourbon. “C’mon, man, don’t.”

“I’m serious,” Eddie insists. “I know that was— that was a lot, okay? It really was. And I just— I think you did great. You were great.”

The bourbon is so dark; the color of ancient amber. Richie doesn’t say a word. After a long beat he hears Eddie give a low exhale, the sound distinctly anxious, obviously worried that he’s said something wrong. Of course it’s not fair to leave him hanging like this, but Richie’s tongue is completely glued to the roof of his mouth, his hands clenched so tight on his tumbler that he has to consciously hold himself back from breaking it. Gee, now wouldn’t that be an effective distraction? Talk about tempting

“Thanks, man,” he says instead, every syllable an effort. “I mean it.”

He chances a look at Eddie at the same time Eddie chances a look back, their gazes drawn inevitably together like magnets. There’s a familiar twitch at the corner of Eddie’s mouth; it’s a funny little tic, like he’s so used to frowning that sometimes the smiles take a few tries to get going.

“I mean it, too,” he says. “I know that wasn’t easy, Rich.”

Richie fumbles up an unconvincing scoff. “Eh, whatever. I got over it.”

“No, come on,” Eddie shakes his head. “Don’t be like that.”

“Don’t be like what?”

“Don’t try to act like you’re just, totally fine.” Still holding a drink, Eddie is only able to do one sarcastic jazzhand on the last two words, which somehow makes it even more scathing. “That’s bullshit and we both know it. You’re like the least-fine person I know.” Beat. “Second-least.”

Richie gives him a rueful smile. “After you, of course.”

Eddie rolls his eyes. “I mean, hello.” He smiles back at Richie. “So no bullshit, okay? That’s not how we’re gonna do this.”

Richie nods down at his drink. “Yeah, okay.” He swallows hard. “You’re right, man. No bullshit.”

“No bullshit,” Eddie confirms. “So will you just shut up and accept the fact that it wasn’t easy and you did great?”

“I, uh—” Richie bites back a nervous giggle. “I can’t do that, Dave.”

He averts his eyes as Eddie shifts onto his side, his bourbon balanced on his hip, his expression a perfect Kaspbrakian triple whammy combo of amusement, affection, and outright annoyance.

“You know,” he says. “You’re not the only one who gets to say sappy shit, man. Don’t dish it out if you can’t take it.”

“It’s not fair,” Richie mumbles defensively. “You don’t cry when I say sappy shit.”

Eddie gets quiet for a moment, his expression going pensive.

“Well,” he says at length. “I don’t cry at the end of Terminator 2, either.”

Richie turns just enough to deliver a solid side-eye. “And what the fuck does that mean?”

“I’m just saying.” Now Eddie’s the one staring down at his drink. “Y’know, it doesn’t— it doesn’t mean I don’t know how much that kid loved that robot.”

Richie’s heart lurches and spins like a cartoon drunkard.

“He, uh, he really did.” He blinks back the traitorous sting in his eyes. “He really does.”

“Yeah,” Eddie smiles into his next sip of bourbon. “Me too.”

It’s a good thing Richie just made all that extra space inside of himself, because right now he’s so full of love for this man that his heart barely has enough room to keep beating. He’s scarcely aware of his hand autopiloting the glass up to his lips until he tastes the Blanton’s on his tongue. His brain keeps short-circuiting and trying to come up with a pop culture reference to describe this moment, but the truth is, he’s never experienced anything like this in his entire life.

“Hey, uh,” he says. “Can we kiss now? ‘Cause like, I don’t know about you, but I’m starting to think we should probably just—”

“—beep beep, Richie,” Eddie says, leaning over to silence Richie’s eager mouth by covering it with his own.

They’re each holding a drink aloft in one hand, but that’s still one hand left apiece that can be put to good use. Richie’s goes straight for the curve of Eddie’s neck, cradling his head and pulling him close, while Eddie slips his arm around Richie’s waist, his hand pressed possessively at the small of his back. The combined taste of the alcohol between them gives the whole kiss an exceptional intoxicating effect, Richie getting more light-headed by the second, his fingers creeping up to curl into Eddie’s shower-damp hair.

“Finish your drink,” he pants. “Let’s go, three-two-one-shoot.”

“This is a seventy-dollar bottle of bourbon,” Eddie protests weakly.

“Three, two, one, shoot.”

They belt back what’s lett of their respective drinks, then Richie snags the empty glass from Eddie’s hand and leans over in one long reach to deposit both tumblers on the bedside table. He lets the rebound carry him right back into Eddie’s arms, which are, as he hoped, open and waiting for him. They meet in the middle— but as they fall, the balance fatefully, inescapably tips. Richie ends up on his back, Eddie’s hand between his head and the pillow and Eddie’s thigh between his open legs, his weight pressed against Richie’s growing hard-on with only two layers of towel holding them apart.

“Yeah,” Richie breathes, arching up to meet him. “C’mere, Eds.”

“Richie,” Eddie sighs against his mouth. “Richie.”

Eddie is faintly cool to the touch, the last of the shower still evaporating from his skin, the smell of his bodywash as fresh and crisp as if Richie was sniffing it right out of the bottle. At first the taste of bourbon is almost overwhelming, but as the kiss grows deeper the flavor is all Eddie, who doesn’t taste like strawberries or cinnamon or peaches and cream— he just tastes like Eddie, who pretty much just tastes like spit and maybe a hint of toothpaste sometimes, but goddamn if it isn’t the best spit that Richie’s ever had the pleasure of coming into contact with.

Sometimes he remembers the way his mind used to wander during kisses when he brought a girl home after a party in college, or later, after one of his shows. It would almost become an out-of-body experience, a transparent version of himself stepping back to circle the scene and try to figure out what he was doing wrong that made it such an abysmal failure. Once, in the heat of the moment, he actually pulled back and asked her in a tone of flustered exasperation, “Do you like this? Does this actually feel good to you?” In his wildest hopes he wanted her to admit that the whole thing was a hoax, that kissing was weird and everyone felt that way and only pretended to like it because of what they saw in the movies. Instead she said yes, in the cautiously confused way that someone would respond to the question “Do you actually breathe oxygen?” She then politely tolerated approximately sixty additional seconds of fumbling before making her excuses and subsequent exit.

And it’s funny, because then he always remembers how he used to think guacamole was gross, too. Turns out he just couldn’t stand the taste of cilantro. Nothing wrong with that— some people are just born that way. And once he took the cilantro out of the equation, guess what: it turns out that he really, really likes guacamole.

In fact sometimes he doesn’t think he’ll ever be able to get enough.

At a certain point he just has to be selfish and bask in it. Taking Eddie’s face in his hands, Richie gently steers him backwards out of the kiss— not too far, just far enough to admire his flushed cheeks and handsome mouth while Eddie’s eyes dart from side to side in nervous silence. Once he asked Richie why he preferred to keep his glasses on when they were in bed together. All Richie had to say was “I think you know why” and Eddie blushed like a rose.

“Hey, you know what?” Richie traces the cheekbone scar with his thumb. “You’re my guacamole, Eds.”

Eddie makes an uncertain huffing sound. “I’m your what now?’

“My guacamole,” Richie singsongs, waggling Eddie’s head in his hands. “Secret recipe, made fresh every day. All that and a bottomless basket of extra salty chips.”

“Okay…?” Now Eddie is looking at him like he’s the first guy to start showing symptoms in a zombie film. “Is this— is this like, a movie reference or something? Is this some kind of bit?”

Richie laughs and tousles his hair. “You’re some kind of bit.”

Eddie tousles him back. “Your mom’s some kind of bit, asshole.”

Any chance of Richie firing off a retort is instantly obliterated when Eddie swoops in to press a fierce kiss to the corner of Richie’s jaw, an act that knocks all the words from Richie’s mouth and sucks all the air from his lungs. He has to fight for his next inhale as Eddie works his way downwards, his lips grazing along the skin until he reaches Richie’s throat, where he fastens on and sets in teasing with his teeth and tongue. After that it’s all Richie can do to keep breathing, one hand clutched in Eddie’s hair and the other clutched on his back, consciously fighting the urge to dig in with his fingernails. Eddie never seems to mind it when he does— if anything, Richie would say that he almost seems to enjoy it— but man, Richie always feels so terrible when he sees the damage the next day, the visible proof of his carelessness carved into Eddie’s skin. He knows he can do better than that. Eddie deserves better than that.

Ah— ah, fuck—” Richie has his legs open as far as the towel will allow, his hips rocking under Eddie’s weight. “Yeah— yeah— ugh shit man ye-e-eah—”

The last word trails out of him as an involuntary whine, his thighs aching with need, the confines of the towel becoming rapidly unbearable. His distress does not go unnoted— without breaking his ministrations on Richie’s neck, Eddie lets one hand wander down the length of Richie’s body, finding his way by touch to the clasp tucked over one hip. His thumb slips between the terrycloth and the skin, his voice a low murmur below Richie’s ear.

“You ready to take this off?”

“You first,” Richie shoots back on instinct.

It really was just a nervous tic— but Eddie takes him at his word, his hand withdrawn without hesitation. Instead he sits back on his heels, then gets up on his knees, still straddling Richie’s leg between his own. Richie bites back a groan when he gets a good look at the tented front of Eddie’s towel. Without breaking eye contact, Eddie reaches for the clasp—

“Wait,” Richie says. “Wait, wait.”

With a grunt of effort, he hauls himself into a sitting position, his chest only a few inches from pressing into Eddie’s belly. He has to tilt his head back to look up at him, his hands toying shyly with the terrycloth hem.

“Uh… can I do it?”

Eddie smiles down at him. “Sure, man.”

Richie looks down to carefully untuck the clasp and take a corner in each hand, then looks back up at Eddie’s face as he slowly draws the towel open and lets it fall to the bed behind him. Eddie’s gaze is calm and unwavering, his posture confident and unashamed. He doesn’t even reflexively try to cover himself the way that Richie knows he wouldn’t be able stop himself from doing. Sometimes Richie thinks, If you looked up the definition of the word brave in the dictionary, you would find— well, you’d find a definition of the word brave, which is probably the closest you can get to describing Eddie Kaspbrak, in the same way that the word infinity is barely enough to describe such a vast and indescribable phenomenon as itself.

“Shit,” Richie exhales. “You really are something else, you know that?”

“Uh,” Eddie’s smile turns uncertain. “Something good, I hope?”

Richie’s smile only grows wider as he reaches out to settle one hand on Eddie’s hip, the other curled around the base of Eddie’s waiting cock.

“Baby,” he grins. “You’re the best.”

He leans down to fill his mouth and throat with as much of Eddie as he can take, his low hum of satisfaction the perfect bass harmony to Eddie’s high tenor gasp, one hand clapped over his mouth and the other fisted blindly in Richie’s hair. The angle is a challenge but Richie doesn’t mind, his shoulders hunched and his neck bent to accommodate their position and proximity. To be honest he would probably contort himself into a full-tilt backbend if it meant he got a chance to suck Eddie’s cock. Talk about never being able to get enough— at this point he’s a goddamn cliche about it, and you know what? He’s okay with that. Eddie certainly isn’t complaining, anyway.

“Ho-o-oly shit, Rich,” he groans between his fingers. “Oh, fuck. Mmm. Mmm.”

Mmm,” Richie answers, the sound obliged to come out of his nose, his mouth being currently occupied.

The only problem with this angle is that he can’t look up at Eddie like he usually does, marveling at the increasingly visible struggle for control playing out on Eddie’s face until he finally can’t hold out anymore. Oh, well— it just means Richie can give his undivided attention to his work, his eyes drifting closed as he bobs his head and hollows his cheeks with effort, the better to let him savor the sounds and the taste. Under his hands he can feel the shallow thrusting of Eddie’s hips, his body aching to set the tempo. Richie follows his lead and adapts to match his rhythm, rewarded with an audible gasp when they hit their stride together.

“Yeah,” Eddie shudders with approval. “Yeah, Richie, that’s good.”

He’s got both hands in Richie’s hair now, his fingers carding through the worst of the tangles, mindful from past experience not to stray too far to the sides and risk snagging the arms of his glasses. Richie performs every blowjob like he’s auditioning for the next one and this time is no exception— he gives it everything he’s got, sloppy and loud and making a goddamn spectacle of his own enjoyment. He wants to make sure Eddie is aware of how much he loves it, even if he’ll never be able to put it into words. He just needs Eddie to know.

Because he’ll never forget the first time he started to move down between Eddie’s legs and Eddie said in a scared, strained voice: “You don’t have to do that.”

“You know,” Eddie says, petting Richie’s bobbing head. “Not that I don’t, uh— appreciate the detour— but at some point you are gonna have to take off that towel.”

Richie pauses with his jaw hanging slack and the head of Eddie’s cock resting on his tongue. Then he closes his lips around him and slowly pulls his mouth all the way off before sitting back and looking up with a crooked smile.

“Man,” he says. “You don’t miss shit, do you?”

Eddie strokes his thumb along Richie’s jaw. “Not your shit, smartass. Nice try, though.”

“It was worth a shot.”

When Richie holds the beat for too long, Eddie raises his eyebrows and nods his head at the last scrap of cloth that remains between them. Richie places his hands nervously on the hem. It’s not like Eddie’s never seen him naked before— hell, they just spent over an hour completely nude in the shower together.
It’s just that they’re getting dangerously close to the reason that they spent that hour together in the first place, and as usual, Richie is on the verge of getting cold feet.

“Hey,” Eddie says. “It’s okay. You’re gonna be fine.”

“I’m not fine,” Richie says, his voice small. “I’m the least-fine person you know.”

Eddie smiles and pushes the hair back from Richie’s forehead. “Second-least. And that’s fine, too.”

He takes Richie’s face in his hands and leans down to kiss him, Richie gratefully reaching up to hold him in return, willing himself to be distracted. Unfortunately it’s kind of a Stay Puft Marshmallow Man situation— he can’t not think about it. The more he tries, the bigger and more inescapable it becomes, trampling through his mindscape and wreaking absolute havoc. Suddenly this towel is the last thing standing between him and something that he just might not be ready for after all. On a panicked impulse, he yanks open the door in his head and lets his stupid Trashmouth make a break for it.

“Hey, uh—” he mumbles between kisses. “You know, if you think about it— the mouth and the anus— are both just the opposite ends of one really long tube.”

Eddie pauses, Richie’s face still trapped his hands, his grip lingering like he can’t decide if he wants to drop Richie like a hot potato or squeeze until his dumb thick skull cracks open and lets the light in.

“Dude,” he says softly. “What the fuck.”

“I’m just saying,” Richie insists, clinging to the bit like a liferaft. “I’m not trying to make it weird, man, it’s just a fact. It’s science. I mean if you really think about it—”

His rambling breaks off into a muffled grunt of surprise as Eddie claps his hand forcefully over Richie’s mouth— not hard enough to cause any harm, but with enough strength that Richie feels it all the way down in his dick, his hips twitching and his thighs aching at the impact. He stares up at Eddie in goggle-eyed amazement, his heart in his throat.

“Nice try,” Eddie says. “But you can’t scare me, Trashmouth.”

Without thinking, Richie makes an instinctive sound of submission into the palm of Eddie’s hand. Satisfied, Eddie lets go and sits back on his heels, his head tilted at an angle of consideration. Richie resists the impulse to touch his mouth where Eddie covered it. He doesn’t want to act too jazzed about it.

“C’mere,” Eddie says at length. “I have an idea.”

He tosses his head towards the edge of the bed, indicating that Richie should come with him. Richie reaches tentatively for his towel and Eddie clarifies, “Leave it on. For now.” They scoot together towards one side, where Eddie guides Richie to sit with his feet on the floor. When Eddie gets up from the bed to stand before him, Richie realizes with a surge of nerves that they’re right back where they started, their positions identical to the night when Eddie first asked if they could be where they are right now. Something, something, time is a flat circle, except this time they’re naked and Richie’s not nearly as drunk as he wishes he was.

And this time instead of climbing on top of him, Eddie sinks down to his knees on the floor.

“Oh, shit,” Richie blurts out.

Eddie’s smug glance transforms almost immediately into a pained grimace, and he reaches towards the headboard with a grunt.

“Can you just— can you pass me a pillow real quick?”

Richie reaches up to grab one and bring it over, then tries not to laugh in sheer delighted affection when Eddie leans down to carefully put the pillow on the floor under his knees. He must not hide his amusement as well as he thought, because when Eddie looks up at him, his expression instantly turns murderous.

“Oh, you think that’s funny, dickhead?”

“Well, yeah,” Richie grins. “Come on, man.”

Eddie gives him a glare that could curdle milk, his face screwed up on the verge of unleashing something truly venomous— but at Richie’s long, knowing look, all of the air rushes out of him and he ends up laughing, too. Richie stretches out his hand, not to touch the cheekbone scar but to graze his thumb at the corner of Eddie’s smiling mouth.

“You’re cute when you laugh.”

Eddie rolls his eyes. “You are so full of shit.”

“Ah, ah,” Richie holds up his finger. “Not anymore.”

“Uh huh,” Eddie looks up at the finger and then back at Richie’s face. “Too bad that’s only in the literal sense.”

“Yeah, well,” Richie gives a chuckle that’s only half-bitter. “If you took away all of the bullshit, there’d be nothing left of me.”

“Oh, I don’t know,” Eddie says, his hands coming to rest on Richie’s thighs, his palms rubbing back and forth on the terrycloth. “I can think of a few things.”

“A few, huh?” Richie makes a skeptical face. “That’s generous.”

“Don’t sell yourself short, man. You have plenty of great qualities.” Eddie beams up at him. “I mean, you can walk and chew gum at the same time. That’s got to count for something.”

A laugh pops out of Richie as he shakes his head. “Wow, you’re right. I should put that on my resume.”

“See?” Eddie’s smile turns sly, his hands still tracing circles on Richie’s thighs. “And not only that, but you give a pretty great blowjob, too.”

The next laugh turns into a snort turns into Richie coughing into his fist with wide, startled eyes while Eddie patiently waits for him to catch his breath. He would have hoped that such a fit would at least give him a chance to think of something clever to say in response, but by the time he gets his wind back the only thing Richie can come up with is a feeble mumble of, “Maybe that one doesn’t go on the resume.”

“Maybe,” Eddie shrugs. “Depends on the job, I guess.”

Richie swallows hard. Eddie hasn’t stopped moving his hands, rubbing Richie’s thighs so insistently through the towel that they’re starting to get warm, like an extreme slow-motion of starting a campfire with nothing more than sticks and the steady application of friction. Guess all those Boys’ Life magazines are finally paying off.

“So, uh,” Richie fights to keep his voice level. “Does that mean I can put your number down as a reference?”

“Sure,” Eddie says. “They can call me any time.”

By now the heat has risen up into Richie’s belly, his heart pounding and his head spinning, every part of him aching to be free. He’s so close— he just has to get rid of this stupid towel. He has no idea why he kept it on so long in the first place. All he knows is that now he can’t get out of it fast enough, and he fumbles to grab the hem, ready to stand up and slide the whole thing out from under him and toss it to the side. He makes a confused sound of frustration when Eddie takes hold of his hands to keep them still.

“It’s okay,” Richie says. “I’m ready.”

“I know,” Eddie replies mildly. “But I said keep it on.”

Richie scoffs in bewilderment but doesn’t resist as Eddie lifts his hands away from the tucked clasp that he was just about to pull apart.

“Don’t worry,” Eddie assures him, placing Richie’s hands on the bed on either side of him. “I’ll tell you when you can take it off.”

“Oh my god,” Richie groans. “You are the worst.”

“Just let me know when you start sending those resumes out,” Eddie says, unfazed, his hands moving back to clasp Richie’s knees. “I don’t usually answer for unknown phone numbers. I’d hate to miss an important call.”

“You’ll be the first to know,” Richie says, his hands clenched in fists on the mattress. “As soon as I find a position that suits my skillset.”

“Now, I’m no expert on the walking and chewing gum situation,” Eddie admits. “But I think I can give a pretty fair assessment of the rest.”

Richie thinks he’s just going to go back to that maddening thigh massage, but of course, that would be too easy. Instead Eddie sits forward and lets his head come to rest in Richie’s lap, where he sets in rubbing his face lazily against the towel like a cat claiming his territory.

“Mr. Tozier is very dedicated to his work,” he murmurs. “He shows great initiative and focus.”

“Jesus,” Richie huffs, one hand already caught in Eddie’s hair.

“Committed to improvement by means of innovation.” Eddie nuzzles back and forth over Richie’s thighs. “Open and receptive to feedback.”

Jesus,” Richie repeats, this time almost an octave higher.

“Goal-oriented,” Eddie hums, and he drags his open mouth over the jutted terrycloth that conceals Richie’s erection.

“Eddie—” Richie chokes out. “Eddie, please—”

He almost sobs in gratitude when Eddie swiftly hooks his fingers in the clasp of the towel and flips it open, dipping in to take Richie’s cock in his mouth before he even has a chance to feel the open air. Eddie’s tongue is quick and clever, his hands all over Richie’s belly and hips while Richie whines and burrows both hands in Eddie’s hair, his chest heaving as his lung capacity shrinks to little more than gasps.

“Ah, shit,” he pants. “Shit, man, fuck.”

Eddie is as fearless in this as he is in all things, plunging in over and over to take Richie all the way down his throat, pushing himself to hold him for as long as he can, every time. And there’s that ache in Richie’s thighs again— like every nerve in his body is trying to tell him that Eddie belongs here, right here, in the space between his legs. Richie wonders if this is the way salmon feel when they’re compelled to swim upstream. Yeah, I know it sounds like it goes against all the laws of nature, but just… trust your instincts on this one. Big payoff.

“God,” he moans. “Eddie, you’re so good— you’re so good to me.”

“I know,” Eddie says, pausing his work to press a kiss to Richie’s hipbone. “I’m doing it on purpose.”

It occurs to Richie that it might be at least slightly more romantic to propose mid-blowjob. He’s scrambling for something witty to say about how he’s the one who should be on his knees right now, but before he has a chance to finish the thought, Eddie brings him back to earth with a gentle squeeze on Richie’s thighs.

“Now,” he says. “I want you to do something for me, Rich. Can you try something for me?”

Looking down at his open, hopeful face, Richie thinks in that moment that he might just cut off a limb if Eddie asked him to do it.

“Sure,” he croaks out. “I guess.”

“Okay,” Eddie says. “I want you to lay back— you don’t have to go all the way down— just enough to put your feet up on the edge of the bed.”

As Richie processes the physical consequences of such a request, he can feel the color draining from his face, his expression going numb with dread.

“Oh, shit,” he mumbles.

“Oh, shit, is right,” Eddie nods. “It’s okay, man, we’re gonna take this nice and slow. One step at a time. No surprises.”

Richie’s impulse to snap his legs together like a bear trap is averted only by the fact that Eddie is kneeling right there in the way. He’s on the ropes. Even the towel can’t save him now.

“I don’t know, dude,” he says feebly. “Are you sure you really want to do this?”

“No,” Eddie deadpans. “I just ordered a shower enema set off the internet and then spent the last hour power-washing your ass just for the hell of it.”

“Shut up,” Richie huffs defensively. “You loved it.”

“Yeah, actually,” Eddie throws him a brazen grin. “I did.”

Just like that all the color rushes right back into Richie’s face and then keeps coming, his cheeks flushed bright red with heat. He bites his lip as Eddie gives his thighs a reassuring pat.

“Look,” Eddie says. “I’m not gonna give you a hard time if you want to stop. I mean it. It’s up to you.”

“No, I don’t— I don’t want to stop.” Richie blinks back the familiar burn in his eyes. “It’s just… it’s tough, you know?”

“I know. And I get it.” Eddie thinks for a moment, then starts to smile. “But, uh... who killed a psychotic clown before he was fourteen?”

Richie makes a strangled, involuntary sound, one hand clapped over his mouth to stifle the worst of it.

“That’s right,” Eddie presses. “And who did it again when he was forty, which is somehow both less and even more impressive?”

“Don’t say it,” Richie grits out.

“I hate to break it to you, Richie,” Eddie says with pride. “But you’re braver than you think.”

“Oh goddamn it,” Richie groans, dragging his hand down his face. “You little shit, you had to go right for the goddamn jugular.”

“Yeah? And what are you gonna do?” Eddie challenges. “Cry about it?”

Close— instead of bursting into tears, Richie just grabs Eddie’s face in his hands and leans down to kiss him like his life depends on it, pouring his devotion directly into Eddie’s mouth with every breath. Eddie mirrors the effort and then some, his fingers clenched in Richie’s hair, pulling at him with an urgency that makes it seem like he’ll never be able to get close enough. He tastes like spit. He tastes like Eddie. He tastes like home.

“Hey,” Richie says, breaking the kiss to press their foreheads together. “Can I tell you something?”

“Sure,” Eddie says, leaning into him.

“You’re my hero.”

There’s a beat of startled silence. Then Eddie pulls away from him, sinking down to sit on his heels at a safe distance, his voice and expression unreadable.

“I thought I was your guacamole.”

“That, too,” Richie’s throat is so tight he can barely speak. “I mean it’s not— they don’t have to be, uh, mutually exclusive, you know? It can be a best of both worlds type situation. Por que no los dos?

He punctuates this floundering attempt at emotional sincerity with a truly unconvincing imitation of a carefree smirk that collapses like a souffle the second they make eye contact. He knows Eddie can see right through him. Eddie sees it all, knows it all, was there for everything that bent and broke and shaped him into the walking talking disaster that he is today. He only hopes that means Eddie is able understand what he’s trying so hard to say in his own stupid Trashmouth way.

“Hey,” Eddie says. “Can I tell you something back?”

“Sure,” Richie says, his whole body braced for impact.

Eddie reaches up and takes Richie’s face in his hands. His eyes are as dark and bright as a night sky filled with stars.

“You’re the best thing that’s ever happened to me.”

Richie sniffles and covers Eddie’s hands with his own.

“You fucking copycat.”

Eddie uses his thumbs to wipe away the matching tracks of Richie’s tears.

“So sue me.”

They kiss in the way that promises are made, deliberate and resolved, the act itself a commitment to further action. Eddie’s hands move slowly, traveling down together over Richie’s throat and chest, their paths diverging over his belly as they slide out and come to rest on his trembling thighs. Richie stutters out of the kiss with a nervous hiccup, his eyes squeezed shut.

“You can do this, Richie,” Eddie says, his voice low and steady. “One step at a time. Let’s go.”

He taps Richie’s knees the same way that someone might tap the gas pedal of a car that has about six inches of space left in the garage— it doesn’t take much pressure when you don’t have far to go. Something about the brisk, no-nonsense cue is enough to cut through Richie’s anxious fog and spur him into motion, and before he can overthink it he succumbs to the impulse to sink backwards until he catches himself on his elbows, clinging to Eddie’s assurance that he doesn’t have to go all the way down onto his back, not yet. He’s even able to use the momentum to power through the absolutely brain-scrambling motion of picking up his left foot and setting the heel of it on the edge of the bed.

Then autopilot takes over, his right knee swiveling to the center to shield himself, his foot planted adamantly on the floor.

“Shit,” he hisses, his chin tucked to his chest, his hands balled into fists.

“It’s okay,” Eddie says. “You’re almost there. Come on, Richie, you got this, man.”

“Shit,” Richie hisses again, before he yanks his foot from the ground and drags it up over the lip of the mattress, where it catches and holds so he can’t drop it down again. “Shit,” he says one last time, and he can’t bear to look so he throws his head back to stare desperately up at the ceiling. “Oh, Christ. Wow. Okay.”

“Yeah, man, there we go,” Eddie praises, scooting in to prop his shoulders against Richie’s shins, anchoring his feet in place. “That’s great, you’re doing great.”

Richie’s brain says something panicky about Well that’s great because I sure don’t feel great— but when he opens his mouth the only thing that comes out is a garbled stutter as Eddie loops his arms around Richie’s thighs, his chest pressed at the edge of the mattress between Richie’s open legs.

“God,” Eddie breathes, and there’s a rough edge to his voice that Richie isn’t sure if he’s ever heard before. “You’re great. You’re really great, you know that?”

“Shut up,” Richie pants, his hips already twitching in weak, needy thrusts. “I hate you.”

“I hate you more,” Eddie says, and he splays one hand over Richie’s belly while the other takes hold of Richie’s cock to angle it down into his waiting mouth.

“H’ohhhhh god,” Richie wheezes, shifting his weight to one elbow so he can reach down to get a grip in Eddie’s hair. “I hate you so much— fuck—”

Eddie hums in acknowledgement, his throat vibrating around Richie’s dick with focus and intent— as focused and intent as his eyes, his gaze turned up along the length of Richie’s shuddering belly to resolutely meet Richie’s awestruck stare. Their eyes stay locked as Eddie slides his hand from Richie’s stomach to his thigh to his ankle, his grip tightening into a purposeful tug. Richie doesn’t resist as his foot is lifted from the bed and placed carefully onto Eddie’s shoulder. Eddie punctuates the act with a squeeze that tells him he’s expected to keep it there.

Then his hand moves from Richie’s ankle to the back of Richie’s thigh.

Richie makes a tense, startled sound, both hands instantly braced on the mattress, his whole body going taut as a bowstring. Eddie keeps his hand right where it is, no advance, no retreat. His other hand is still curled around the base of Richie’s cock and that’s the one that starts to move, his mouth still sheathed around Richie and drawing him deeper.

Ah—” Richie gasps. “Oh, man—”

Eddie bobs and rolls his head, his tongue lapping hard at the underside of Richie’s dick, his breath coming in what hasty snatches of air he can manage. He works Richie at a nimble, vigorous pace, sanding away the edges of his fear with the sheer effort of his adoration. Richie doesn’t even notice when Eddie starts massaging his rump, and by the time he does, he realizes that he doesn’t really mind. If anything it just makes him want to cant his hips even higher, and he uses his foot on Eddie’s shoulder to shift his weight into the touch with an affirmative moan. Eddie answers with an appreciative moan of his own, always grateful for direct feedback, his hand slipping gladly down into the space that Richie just lifted up from the bed.

It’s not enough. Richie already knows he wants more. He hesitates with the same suspended breath that he once held at the edge of the quarry before closing his eyes and making the leap, raising his other foot from the bed and planting it decisively on Eddie’s corresponding shoulder, an act that fully spreads the cradle of his hips while his knees fall open in surrender. In the same motion he finally lets himself topple onto his back, and the resulting surge of supine helplessness is so intense that both of his hands end up clapped over his face in disbelief, hiding his mortified expression even while the rest of him lies totally exposed.

Fuck!” he barks, convulsive, meaningless, the same as when he stubs his toe and needs a good curse to push through the first rush of pain.

The effect is much the same, the initial tension in his body cresting and breaking like a wave, the severe arch of his spine easing slowly down to rest on the mattress. He shudders with a mixture of disappointment and exhausted relief as Eddie takes his mouth away from his cock at last— on the one hand he feels almost unbearably forsaken, but on the other hand he’s been on the verge of hyperventilating for a dangerous amount of time and it’s probably a good idea for him to stop and catch his breath. Besides, he doesn’t have to feel forsaken for too long, as Eddie slips a hand around his dick in the next heartbeat, keeping him warm and still. Dizzy and reeling, Richie pushes his hands up into his hair and stares at the ceiling a million miles away, his pulse roaring in his ears.

“Hey, man,” Eddie says, his other palm coming to rest on the top of Richie’s thigh. “You doing okay?”

“Yep,” Richie answers, his voice tight. “Just— gimme a sec.”

“Sure, Richie, no problem,” Eddie assures him. “As long as you need.”

Nodding in gratitude, Richie closes his eyes so he can better focus on the staggered tempo of his breathing. He can’t seem to find a steady rhythm— then he becomes aware of Eddie’s fingertips tracing carefully up and down the length of his thigh, hip to knee and back again at a pace that’s designed to soothe and settle. With a conscious effort Richie is able to harmonize with the motion, an inhale for every stroke up towards the knee, each subsequent exhale timed to the drift back down to his hip. It helps. It helps a lot. He makes a low, shivery sound when Eddie turns his head to press a kiss to Richie’s inner thigh, his breath as soft and warm as a prayer.

“Yeah,” he murmurs. “There we go.”

Richie’s chest gives an off-tempo heave, one hand reaching on instinct to touch Eddie in any way he can, his fingers groping blindly until they meet Eddie’s on his hip, both sets of digits entwining by unspoken agreement. Richie keeps his other hand clenched in his hair as a precautionary measure, ready to yank it like a ripcord in case he needs to stop himself from saying something stupid.

Then, fighting through his own shakiness, he steers the joined tangle of their fingers up and over the rise of his hipbone and down towards the curve of his ass. He’s... extremely aware of the way it makes his cock twitch hungrily in the cocoon of Eddie’s grip. Eddie squeezes with both of his hands in answer, the gesture accompanied by another kiss to Richie’s thigh, his mouth lingering against the skin.

“Uh huh,” he breathes. “Come on, Richie, show me what you want.”

It’s like trying to run in a dream, every inch a mile, Richie’s body impossibly heavy and slow to respond. It takes all of his strength to guide Eddie’s hand as far down as he can reach, Eddie’s fingertips poised right at the point where the slope starts to lead inwards. Richie punctuates the act with a squeeze that tells him he’s expected to keep it there. Then he withdraws his own hand to join its mate in the tangle of his hair, bracing himself with two generous fistfuls.

“Okay,” he says, his eyes towards the sky. “Keep going.”

He hitches in a breath as Eddie spreads his fingers and settles his palm, searing a complete handprint onto Richie’s skin. His other hand stays wrapped around Richie’s cock, as warm and comforting as a security blanket, keeping him calm and close. When he speaks, his voice is the audible equivalent of that same soothing embrace.

“Okay, Richie,” he murmurs. “I’m just going to touch you, okay? Just that, nothing else yet. Nice and easy.”

He waits for Richie to rattle out a nod of acknowledgment before he shifts his hand a little further, a little further— and then all at once the pad of his thumb presses gently against Richie’s asshole. Richie gasps and instinctively clenches, and the subsequent tug of friction makes Eddie jerk his hand back on reflex, which prompts a nervous huff of laughter from both of them before he tries again and sticks the landing, his thumb coming to rest against Richie just like the tip of the Cleanstream nozzle. Then he keeps his hand there, fixed and stable, while they each take a moment to breathe.

Normally Richie is the type to cannonball into a cold swimming pool and get it over with. In this case, however, he’s more than happy to creep in one step at a time, grateful for the chance to acclimate in increments. Even now, with just one toe in the water, it takes a conscious effort not to squirm away and make a break for it. The prospect of diving into the deep end is almost unthinkable.

The water only gets deeper when Eddie’s thumb starts to move.

It’s a subtle movement, Eddie tracing the smallest possible circle at the slowest possible pace, the pad of his thumb never lifting or dragging from its place. That’s because he’s not massaging the outside. He’s massaging the inside, exerting a careful, deliberate amount of pressure over the tight ring of muscle under the skin. Halfway hysterical already, Richie corkscrews his hands in his hair and tries not to think too hard about the fact that Eddie Kaspbrak is currently swiveling around his goddamn asshole like it’s the goddamn thumbstick on a gamepad.

“Is that— is that clockwise?” he pants, trying to distract himself. “Does it have to be clockwise?”

“No, I guess it doesn’t have to be,” Eddie admits. “But, uh, it is.” He rubs another circle. “Force of habit.”

Richie tries to affect a voice that sounds like Pat Morita but just ends up sounding like Richie Tozier: Very Scared Edition.

“Wax on,” he says feebly. “Very good, Daniel-san.”

“Yeah, that’s right,” Eddie agrees. “Wax on, wax off.”

On the last word he abruptly reverses direction, which throws Richie for way more of a loop than he would have expected. At this point he’s so tense and oversensitive that even the slightest shift feels seismic, and his hips give a startled jerk in response, his feet digging down on Eddie’s shoulders in a spasm. Eddie never misses a beat, his tempo unchanging as he turns his head to give Richie’s thigh a series of quick, reassuring kisses.

“Shh, shh. It’s okay. You’re okay.”

By way of encouragement, on the next rotation with his thumb he adds a long, purposeful squeeze with his opposite hand, rubbing a circle and pulling on Richie’s cock with a synchronization that makes Richie arch up with a strangled moan of pleasure, his hands clutched in his hair and his elbows convulsively bashed together to form a protective cage over his face.

Hnh—!”

“Yeah?” Eddie wonders with a note of genuine eagerness. “Is that good, Richie?”

“Oh, god, Eddie,” The cage of Richie’s arms can’t contain the neediness in his voice. “That’s so good— fuck—”

He clips off into another moan as Eddie does it again, then again, his hands moving together like a pair of dancers in perfect harmony. He works him slow and sweet until Richie’s hips are rocking in tempo, deeper and deeper as Eddie leads him down the pool steps one by one, the water already up to his waist and climbing. It was so cold at first, so intimidating— now Richie is starting to feel like it might not be so bad to go for a swim. He assumes that must be because Eddie started jerking him off. But then, when Eddie unexpectedly takes his thumb away from where he’s been rubbing, Richie surprises both of them by groaning in disappointment.

Then he’s really glad that he’s already got his arms wrapped around his head, because it means he can hide the hot flush of color that rushes to his face and overflows until he can feel it in the tips of his ears. Down between his legs, he hears Eddie give a quiet huff of amazement, followed by a soft peh sound that Richie can’t quite place until Eddie presses his thumb back against him and it’s slick with spit. Then Richie barely manages to restrain his yelp, his hands slammed down to the bed in desperation, his fists clutched helplessly in the comforter. He shudders when he hears Eddie’s throaty chuckle of approval.

“Yeah, I thought you might like that.”

He starts to move his thumb over the surface of the skin, smearing the saliva in a ring around the ring while his other hand keeps moving up and down on Richie’s cock, surrounding him with stimulation. Richie whines and clings to the blankets underneath him, his chest heaving and his eyes watering. He knows that Eddie is looking at him down there, Eddie can see him— there’s that ache in his thighs again— he cants his hips, angling into Eddie’s touch, more, more

“Fuck,” Eddie’s voice is thick and husky. “Richie, I’m— I just—”

Something in his tone makes Richie look down just in time to see Eddie lean in, angling his face between his hands so he can hungrily fasten his mouth right onto Richie’s balls. It immediately sends Richie all the way over onto his back again, both hands fisted in his hair as Eddie sets in licking and sucking with a fervor that borders on urgency, his efforts peppered with loud, messy gasps of relish. He’s pressed in so close now that Richie’s feet slip off his shoulders and down his back, where Richie instantly digs in with his heels, half to keep his legs up and half because he wants to keep Eddie exactly where he is for as long as he can, possibly forever.

“Ugh, fuck, Eds— Eds— ohhh my god—”

It’s not the first time Eddie’s ever put his mouth on him like this, but it’s the first time he’s ever done it like it’s something exclusively to serve his own needs, with all the intense concentration of someone attempting to reach an unbearable itch. Hell, if that’s the case, Richie is more than willing to be the back scratcher— and yet, for all that vigor, it doesn’t last nearly as long as Richie would have hoped. Far too soon Eddie is pulling away again, his head lifted so forcefully that Richie is compelled to lift his own in answer, their gazes meeting over the span of Richie’s trembling chest and belly. Eddie is flushed and panting, his tongue just shy of lolling out like an overheated dog.

“Richie,” he says. “I want— I want to— can I put my mouth on you? Is that okay?”

“Huh?” Richie pries his hands out of his hair so he can prop his elbows under him. “I’m, uh, pretty sure you were just doing that, dude.”

“No, I mean,” Eddie lowers his gaze, flustered. “Can I— can I put my mouth on— on—”

At a loss for words, he demonstrates with a significant rub of his thumb that makes Richie’s eyes go saucerwide with comprehension.

“Oh,” he gulps. “Wait, really?”

Eddie nods, breathing hard. “Yeah, really.”

Richie is too stunned to hold his legs up any more, his heels sliding down along Eddie’s back until he hauls them back up to set them on Eddie’s shoulders again. Eddie stares at him in expectant silence, his tongue darting out to run along his bottom lip, quick and pink and restless. Richie thinks about that tongue going other places and it just about gives him a heart attack. Before he can stop himself, he blurts out:

“You don’t have to do that.”

Eddie’s expression shifts at the same time as his hands, the one going keen with understanding while the other two disengage from their respective points of action, leaving him free to once again wind his arms around Richie’s thighs in a resolute embrace. Richie shivers as Eddie strokes his fingertips up and down an invisible inseam, his face turned to nuzzle into some of the warmest, softest skin on Richie’s body.

“I want to do it,” he breathes, so close that every word feels like a kiss brushed over Richie’s inner thigh. “I really want to. Will you let me do that for you, Richie? Please let me do that for you.”

Richie is so dumbfounded that he can barely stammer out his answer. “I mean, uh… sure, Eds. If that’s what you want.”

Eddie nods again, this time with even more gusto. “I want. I really, really want.”

Not entirely sure what to do next, Richie tentatively starts to scoot his elbows backwards, ready to recline and surrender to whatever it is that Eddie is planning to do. But rather than scooting in with him, Eddie moves away instead, leaning back while he gently shrugs Richie’s feet off of his shoulders. The weight of Richie’s legs dropping down pulls him back up to sit on the edge of the bed, and he watches in a mix of apprehension and anticipation as Eddie climbs to his feet and stands naked before him. Well, here we are again.

“Okay,” Eddie says with an indicative gesture. “Let’s go.”

Richie blinks up at him. “Go?”

“Yeah,” Eddie says, approaching and then passing him to climb onto the bed. “Come on.”

Richie stays right where he is, his feet superglued to the floor, rotating at the waist to watch Eddie crawl into the center of the king-sized bed. Once he reaches the middle, he turns around and sits on his knees, his head tilted at a prompting angle. Mute and stationary, Richie flexes his toes, testing the strength of the roots holding him back. Eddie smiles and pats the mattress next to him.

“Come on, Richie,” he says. “Get over here.”

The appeal catches like a fishhook behind Richie’s sternum, drawing him up from the water and onto the bed, his legs artlessly dragged up so he can shuffle over on his knees until they’re face to face. After the disparity in their previous positions, it’s nice to be on a level playing field again— the height difference is negligible as they close the rest of the distance in a sweet, familiar kiss. They’ve been here before. In fact, Richie would like to think they’re getting pretty good at this part. That only makes the next part, untried and unpracticed, all the more daunting. Richie breaks the kiss to nuzzle their foreheads together, both hands cradled around Eddie’s face, his voice a harsh whisper.

“I don’t know if I can do this, man.”

“You can, Richie,” Eddie covers Richie’s hands with his own. “I know you can.” He gives his hands an emphatic squeeze. “But only if you want to, okay? Don’t just do it for me. I don’t— I don’t ever want you to —” He pauses to try and organize the thought. “Look. If it’s something you don’t want to do, then don’t do it just because it’s something I want to do. Because that’s the last thing I would ever want you to, uh, do.” He gives a little breathless laugh, surprised by his own rambling vehemence. “So, yeah.” He takes Richie’s hands in his own and holds them in the open space between their naked, vulnerable bodies. “What do you want to do, Rich? It’s your call.”

Richie scrunches up his face, then exhales hard. “I want to let you do it.”

Eddie nods and keeps his smile discreet. “Okay, well, that’s a good start.”

“It’s just— I don’t know, man, it just feels—” Richie squirms, his gaze averted. “It feels weird.”

“Weird how?”

“Weird, like, there’s no way you can actually want to— to put your mouth on— I mean, c’mon, man, that’s— it’s—”

He looks helplessly at Eddie to finish the sentence, but Eddie makes a face so unmistakable that he might as well mime the gesture of zipping his lips and throwing away the key. He’s not about to put a single word in Richie’s mouth, knowing better than anyone that Mr. Tozier requires absolutely zero assistance in that arena. Richie is going to have to say it on his own. He sighs and looks up at the ceiling, then squeezes his eyes shut in dismay.

“It’s gross, dude. I don’t know what else you want me to say. It feels like— it feels like I’m making you do something bad.”

“Why is it gross, Richie?”

Richie gives him a sharp, irritated look. “What do you mean, why is it gross? Dude. It’s a fucking asshole. You’re down there rubbing around on it like it’s a— what— like’s it’s a goddamn magic lamp? Spoiler alert, dude, it’s not a genie that’s gonna come out of there! And now you want to put your mouth—”

“Richie, Richie,” Eddie holds up a hand to stop him. “Nothing’s gonna come out of there, man. There’s nothing in there, remember?”

It’s almost comical the way all the air rushes out of Richie’s next retort, his jaw actually going slack as the sheer obviousness of Eddie’s reminder hits his overheated nerves like a bucket of cold water. He stares at Eddie in amazement as Eddie cracks up laughing, his whole face lit up like a Christmas tree in delight.

“Yeah, man! You put in the work, you put in the time!” He reaches out to chuck Richie under the chin, his expression immeasurably fond. “The hard part’s over. The fun’s just beginning.”

Richie hiccups with laughter. He’s shaking all over, but for once, it doesn’t feel like it’s from fear. It’s more like an extreme case of butterflies— more than any mere flock, this is one of those insane monarch migrations that blankets the sky, a whirling kaleidoscope that rushes through every inch of his body and fills his chest with a cacophony that he belatedly recognizes as his racing heart.

“Do you— do you really want to—?”

“I do,” Eddie says. “You know why?”

No, actually, Richie doesn’t have the faintest clue. He braces himself to find out as Eddie takes his face in his hands, making sure there’s no way for Richie’s skittish eyes to escape from Eddie’s calm, serious gaze. This next part is important.

“Because I want you, Richie,” he says. “I want all of you.” Eddie lets that sink in, then smiles and gives Richie’s head a teasing wag. “And that includes the asshole, asshole.”

“You’re the asshole,” Richie mumbles, thoroughly vanquished.

“Okay, asshole.”

“Say it one more time.”

“Asshole.”

Richie groans and rubs his fists under his glasses. He’s stalled long enough. With a valiant effort, he follows Eddie’s direction to scoot around on his knees until he’s facing the headboard, then gingerly leans forward until he can place his hands on the bed in front of him. Nodding his encouragement, Eddie shifts in the opposite direction and moves around to get behind him, his pace careful and deliberate. Richie tries to match that pace as he lowers himself— but while his chest sinks down over his knees, his ass stays stapled to his heels, so that his body ends up all curled up like a hermit crab, his face smooshed down into the mattress in embarrassment.

“Come on, man, you can do this,” Eddie urges from outside his shell. “What, you survived a cosmic entity of terror but you can’t show your ass to your...”

His voice trails off, uncertain. They haven’t really settled on a word for what they have yet. Lover sounds too formal, while boyfriend sounds too immature; partner almost works, but it’s still too ambiguous for something of such monumental significance. If Richie wasn’t so tongue-tied with jitters he might have suggested guacamole. Finally Eddie sighs and settles his hands gently on Richie’s hips, supporting his weight as he leans down to press a kiss at the apex of Richie’s huddled back.

“It’s me, Richie,” he says. “It’s just me.”

Richie trembles and nods underneath him.

“Okay, Eddie,” he says. “Okay.”

He trembles again as Eddie leaves a trail of kisses down his spine, lower and lower while his hands start to discreetly coax Richie’s hips higher and higher, inching him up from the bed like he’s raising him with a car jack. Richie keeps his head down as they go, and the gradual unfurling makes his face and hands slide forward across the comforter like skis through snow, his glasses awkwardly mashed down onto the bridge of his nose. Well, there’s not much reason to hold on to them now— Richie lifts his head just enough to snatch the frames off and flick them to the side, holding his breath when they almost skitter all the way over the edge of the bed, exhaling when they stop just in time. Then he’s free to shove his face down into the mattress and twist both hands deliriously into his hair as his bare ass is lifted steadily into the air under Eddie’s unwavering, intrepid guidance. By the time Eddie’s last kiss is planted over his tailbone, Richie has his knees almost all the way under him and his arms wrapped completely around his head, the defensive arch of his spine now dipped into a submissive hollow.

And then Eddie says the last thing he would have ever expected in his life.

“Wow.”

Richie screws his eyes shut, about two seconds away from leaving a Kool-Aid Man silhouette punched through the headboard. Eddie is just kneeling back there and staring at him— Richie can practically feel the heat of his gaze roaming over him like a searchlight, cataloguing every brutal detail of this absurd, humiliating position. God, vivisection would be less vulnerable than this. Every single survival instinct is telling Richie to run, to save himself from this whole mortifying ordeal before it’s too late and Eddie sees everything.

Then Eddie puts one hand between Richie’s shoulder blades, his fingers splayed wide. Richie can feel the tremor in his touch even before it drifts into a slow, shaky stroke down Richie’s back, almost like Eddie can’t believe he’s really here.

“Wow,” he says again, dazed, helpless.

“Eddie,” Richie rasps. “Please.”

Shaken from his stupor, Eddie places both hands decisively on Richie’s hips, then slides them down and together to hold the curve of his ass under his palms. It’s officially T-minus one second and counting until Richie goes flying through that headboard, his arms clenched protectively around his skull like he’s anticipating a spontaneous indoor hailstorm. He almost asks Eddie for a countdown but is instantly so embarrassed by the idea that he can’t bear to say it out loud. Only two of his senses are worth a damn at this point— he can’t see anything, and smell and taste are both hopelessly saturated in his own acidic fear, leaving only touch and hearing to try and figure out what’s going on back there. There’s the slight increase in the pressure of Eddie’s hands as he leans in closer— the broken tempo of his breathing as he pauses to wet his lips— oh god the warm puff of air as he exhales over the small of Richie’s back— Richie is sure there must be barely an inch of space left between them when Eddie’s progress comes to a sudden, uncharacteristic halt.

“Hey, uh, Richie?”

Richie’s answer is muffled by the cage of his arms, his tone tense and strained. “Yeah, man?”

“Just— just so you know,” Eddie huffs out another nervous exhale. “I’ve, uh, I’ve never done this before. Like, ever. And I don’t— I don’t really know, uh—” He clears his throat. “Look, all I’m saying is, if it’s not— if you don’t— just tell me if you want to stop, okay? Just tell me and I’ll—”

“Hey.”

When Eddie looks up, he sees that Richie has propped one elbow under him and planted the opposite hand so he can twist his body around to an angle that allows him to meet Eddie’s gaze with his own. It doesn’t matter that he ditched the glasses— Eddie’s eyes are as clear and bright as they’ve ever been, looking right into Richie’s without hesitation, a connection that still lights a spark, without fail, every time. Richie’s chest swells with affection, his eyebrows raised in challenge.

“What’s a’matter, Eds?” he says. “You losing your nerve?”

The tight, anxious line of Eddie’s mouth breaks just a little, one corner tugged upwards towards a smile.

“You wish.”

“Oh, yeah, there he is!” Richie grins. “There’s the clown killer! There’s the number one badass!”

His exultation is enough to crack Eddie’s smile wide open, his head ducked and his flustered gaze averted from the acclaim. Richie’s own expression softens, his tone going gentle.

“C’mon, man,” he says. “I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing, either.”

“Now there’s an understatement,” Eddie meets his eyes with a mischievous gleam. “I mean, I’ve seen the way you dress.”

Richie recoils, incredulous. “Okay, first of all? How dare you. And second of all,” Here his tone turns sly. “That’s, uh, not exactly the best put-down to use on someone who is currently naked.

Eddie instinctively tries to fire off a retort, but the only sound that comes out is a feeble scoff, his gaze darting all over Richie’s body as if he suddenly has to make sure it’s true. When he fails to locate a single stitch of clothing, he looks back at Richie’s face with an expression that’s something close to awestruck.

“Wow,” he whispers.

“Yeah,” Richie says, his voice unexpectedly thick with emotion. “You took the words right out of my mouth.”

They both want to kiss but the position simply isn’t conducive to such an endeavor, not at their age and level of flexibility. After a beat of consideration, Eddie leans forward to reach out and curl one hand under Richie’s jaw. Richie nuzzles into his grip with a dopey smile and presses a kiss into Eddie’s palm. Eddie concludes the gesture with a decisive pat to Richie’s cheek, then leans back to place both hands on Richie’s hips again, dipping his head in an unspoken command: assume the position. Richie nods his consent, then turns forward to settle on his elbows, his forehead resting on his fists. He’s no less nervous than he was before— but it helps to know that Eddie is nervous, too.

He hears the soft, suspended pause as Eddie licks his lips— there’s the increased pressure of Eddie’s hands as he leans in— there’s his breath— his breath

And then Eddie presses the broad, flat span of his tongue against Richie’s asshole.

It’s so warm. Richie gasps and contracts, his forehead digging into his fists and his back rising like a startled cat, his mind barely able to process what’s happening. It’s warm— it’s warm— it’s Eddie’s tongue, warm and wet and fearlessly planted like a flag in a territory that Richie has never even wanted to claim as his own. The reality of that simple fact has only just begun to sink in when Eddie draws his tongue up in a slow, deliberate stroke that almost makes Richie lose his mind.

“Ohhh shit,” he hisses, his fists spasming open so he can bury his face in his hands, his teeth clenched around a quavering whine as Eddie licks him again, then again, each time more intent and decisive than the last. “Oh, man. Mmm. Fuck.”

The tempo climbs fast, Eddie lapping fiercely at him while Richie’s arched spine melts like ice cream, like the cones they used to get in the summer— god— Eddie’s tongue all pink and quick and restless, smeared with milky white while Richie stared and thought his mouth must taste like vanilla and wondered why he didn’t think that about anyone else. There was just something about Eddie Kaspbrak’s mouth in particular— his lips smile laugh tongue his tongue his sharp and clever tongue— Richie would always get the same flavor cone so he could hold the taste on his own tongue like a secret, like a dream that lived behind his teeth, safely hidden under the roof of his mouth.

“Fuck, Eddie,” he pants. “That feels really good— that feels really— ah—!”

His voice clips off into a strangled cry, his head thrust down and his ass thrust up as Eddie prods the tip of his tongue right into the center of that tight ring of muscle, which at this point doesn’t seem to be quite as tight as it was before. Eddie is working him open stroke by stroke and now, poke by poke, tapping several times like he’s knocking on the door before the last push finally brings him over the threshold and the tip of his tongue slips inside.

“Hnggghoh my god,” Richie chokes, his hands skittering out to either side of him to clutch at the comforter, his face and chest crushed down into the mattress to support the curve of his back. “Oh Jesus, fuck—”

Emboldened, Eddie tries pushing his tongue in and out again, the penetration shallow at first but deeper with every attempt, his breath coming in hot blasts against Richie’s skin, his exhales increasingly vocal. There’s another change in the pressure of his hands— this time it’s not just because he’s leaning in, it’s because he’s actively spreading Richie’s ass apart so he can get as close as possible. Richie is facedown and close to passing out from lack of oxygen before he has the presence of mind to twist his head to the side to breathe. His lungs are still fluttering like hummingbird wings, but at least they’re not fighting against the blankets anymore.

“Eddie,” he moans. “Eddie, Eddie—”

He almost collapses into a puddle when Eddie takes his mouth off of him, his voice as ragged and rough as his breathing.

“God, Richie,” he says. “It’s really good. You’re so good.” He presses a worshipful kiss to place where the small of Richie’s back become the cleft of his ass. “You’re so clean.”

Richie grits his teeth against a sudden, inarticulate sound, completely unprepared for the monumental impact of that single word, an irrevocable crater blasted into his internal landscape. He’s not sure if anyone has ever called him that before. Hell, he’s not sure if he’s ever actually felt that way in his entire life. It was always something fundamentally unattainable; he could have scrubbed himself raw with steel wool and bleach, but he would never be able to wash away his dirty little secret. In this big, bright, beautiful world, there were so many different things that he could be— but for as long as he could remember, he knew that clean would never be one of them. For a long time it seemed like happy wouldn’t be, either.

And now here he is.

“You did that, Eds,” Richie says, hoarse. “That was you.”

“C’mon, man,” Eddie plants another kiss.“Give yourself a little credit, here. It was a team effort.”

“Oh, man, now there’s a joke,” Richie wheezes. “Hey, Eddie— How many assholes does it take to perform a home shower enema?

“Yeah, I’m gonna stop you right there,” Eddie interjects. “Leave the joke-writing to the professionals, Tozier.”

On an unthinking impulse, he punctuates the last sentence with a brisk slap to Richie’s bare ass. It’s nowhere close to an actual full-strength spank— more like a moderate swat— but it might as well be the crack of a bullwhip for the way it snaps Richie’s composure like a twig, a startled yelp popping out of his mouth as the reverberation travels into his thighs like a shockwave, his hips and cock twitching at the sudden ache. Eddie is equally startled in return, his palm hastily pressed over the point of impact, his voice high and anxious.

“Sorry, sorry, I don’t— I don’t know why I did that. Are you okay? I didn’t mean to—”

“I’m okay,” Richie pants. “It’s okay. It’s, uh— it’s really okay.”

“Oh.” There’s a brief, bewildered pause behind him. “Wait, really?”

Richie is too embarrassed to answer, his tongue tied into every knot ever featured in Boys’ Life Magazine. Damn, just when he thought this day couldn’t get any more revealing. By the time they’re done here there will be nothing left.

“Huh,” Eddie’s hand lingers on him, his tone thoughtful. “Do you... want me to do it again?”

It’s about as tempting as a sidequest can be, but for once, Richie is keeping his eyes on the prize. There will be plenty of time to come back and explore this avenue later.

“Can you just—” He shivers and tightens his fists in the comforter. “Can you put your mouth back on— what you were doing before. That was good. It was really good.”

“Yeah?” Eddie sounds so hopeful, so eager to please. “Am I doing okay? Is there anything I should do differently? Too much tongue? Not enough tongue? Is this a good tempo or should I—”

“Dude,” Richie interrupts. “It’s awesome. Less talk. More action.”

He can hear Eddie’s automatic wind-up inhale for the retort, followed by the pause as he realizes that he’d only be proving Richie’s point if he says even one more word, capped off with the exhale as he releases his sarcastic reply into the universe. Then, without further ado, he spreads Richie’s ass and shoves his face right back into the middle of it. He’s back inside before Richie has a chance to gasp his acclamation, his tongue pushed deep and Richie stretched wide beneath him.

Mmmph!” Richie curls his toes, all of his weight going onto his knees as his feet pop up from the bed. “Holy shit that’s— nnnngh—”

Eddie’s fingers dig into the meat of Richie’s ass, his mouth pressed fervently into the space between them, seeking, claiming. His tongue twists and thrusts with more and more confidence as Richie’s voice gets more and more shrill and frantic, the ratio of actual words to incoherent sounds steadily tipping towards the latter as the pitch keeps climbing. He’s almost all the way up to a shriek when Eddie’s sudden withdrawal sends him plummeting back into a guttural groan, his chest heaving in exaltation.

“Ugh, yeah, Eddie,” he pants. “Yeah, that’s good, that’s— ahhhhh god—”

Instead of diving back in, Eddie fastens his mouth over Richie’s asshole and starts lavishing attention on the thing itself, licking and sucking at the trembling knot of muscle while Richie whines and rubs his face in the blankets, stimulated in so many ways on so many levels that his brain is close to overload. Even just the sounds alone are enough to drive him wild, Eddie’s muffled, ravenous moans only amplified by the wet, sloppy enthusiasm of his efforts. It’s obvious that he’s not just putting in the time back there— he fucking loves it, and that just might be the most overwhelming thing of all.

Richie is so completely lost in the vast expanse of Eddie’s mouth that he doesn’t even notice when Eddie’s hands gradually shift their position. Because of this, he’s very confused when he suddenly feels not just one point of pressure rubbing against him, but two— a second later and he identifies the first as, yes, Eddie’s tongue, and the second as, oh, Eddie’s fingertip, tracing a deliberate pattern around Richie’s asshole like someone grazing their fingers over the surface of the pool, testing the water before they dive in.

Hnh— yeah—” Richie nods his head furiously against the comforter. “Yeah, Eddie— I want it.”

“Yeah,” Eddie mumbles thickly. “Me too. Hang on.”

He gives Richie’s ass a reassuring squeeze before he sits back and half-crawls to the edge of the bed, his arm stretched out to snag the bottle of lube waiting on the nightstand. Actually, there are three bottles of lube— Eddie couldn’t settle on just one. Better to have options. Right now he’s going with the nearest selection, but Richie knows he won’t hesitate to switch it out if he’s not satisfied with the effectiveness of its performance. That’s pure Kaspbrak right there.

“Hey, Richie,” Eddie says warmly as he settles back in behind him, one hand reaching forward to tousle his hair before running down the length of his spine. “How’re you doing, buddy?”

“Oh, I’m fucking great, dude.” Richie stretches his arms all the way in front of him, his throat laid out along the bed so he can rest on his chin. “Fuck. You sure you’ve never done this before?”

Eddie chuckles. “Uh, pretty sure.”

“Coulda fooled me.” Richie affects an old-timey Humphrey Bogart voice. “You’re a natural, kid.”

“Oh, wow,” Eddie snorts. “Mr. Tozier, you’re such a romantic.”

“That’s me, baby,” Richie waggles his ass. “Billy Shakespeare, eat your heart out.”

“Oh, I’m gonna eat something out,” Eddie assures him.

He laughs at the way Richie’s breath hitches in answer, the playful wiggling stopped on a taut, anticipatory dime. It’s enough to make Eddie set aside the bottle in his hands so he can put them both on Richie’s ass again, opening him up to a long, deliberate lick that starts right behind his balls and goes all the way up to the base of his spine, Richie’s palms slammed against the headboard by the time it’s done. Thoroughly riled, Eddie latches on for another round of fixed attention, starting with a series of quick, forceful strokes before he sinks his tongue into Richie as far as he can reach, the tip of it flicking back and forth inside of him until Richie is about to fall to pieces. He doesn’t know which part of the whole scenario is more outrageous on a sheer cosmic level— the fact that Eddie Kaspbrak is eating Richie Tozier’s ass, or the fact that it’s impossible to tell which one of them is enjoying it more.

And it’s like they both realize it at the same time, because right as Richie’s woozy moaning is about to splinter into disbelieving laughter, Eddie has to stop what he’s doing because he’s laughing, too. Then they both crack up in the same dizzy, flabbergasted way, like two people who have just narrowly survived a near-death experience, giddy and indescribably grateful to be alive.

“Holy shit, dude,” Eddie says, breathless.

“Dude,” Richie says, equally breathless. “Oh, man.”

As the laughter fades, Eddie’s hands stay cupped around Richie’s ass, kneading him like a contented feline, his vocal cords now emitting a low, satisfied hum that could definitely be described as a purr. And to think, Richie never used to consider himself a cat person. Then again, he’s always heard that cats have a knack for zeroing in on the one person in the room that claims to dislike cats the most. Apparently this only makes the cat hellbent on getting into that particular person’s lap— or hammock, as the case may be.

(And sometimes, even then— even with the animal curled up and purring in their lap— that person will still find themselves thinking, Okay, even if I did like cats, there’s no way that this one actually likes me, right?)

“Okay,” Eddie clears his throat and gives Richie a conclusive pat on the rump. “You ready for more, big guy?”

Richie snaps back to the present moment with a nod. “Ready, Spaghetti.”

He jumps when Eddie disengages with one last, quick spank, then jumps again when the motion bumps his cock against the bed— he hadn’t realized that he’d slumped almost all the way down to his belly, his arched posture deflating like a punctured tire. While Eddie busies himself again with the bottle of lube, Richie busies himself with getting his elbows back under him, his forehead pillowed on one forearm and his ears straining to follow the action behind him. He hears the snap of the cap twisting open, then the slurp of Eddie pumping out a measure of the bottle’s contents. Another snap as Eddie meticulously closes the bottle before he sets it aside, his free hand coming to rest on Richie’s hip, holding both of them steady.

“Okay,” he says again, then clears his throat again for good measure. “I’m just gonna— I’m just gonna take this nice and slow.”

“Good plan,” Richie agrees. “I like this plan.”

His hands stiffen into fists when Eddie braces his fingertips on either side of him in preparation— Richie feels the thumb and index on the left and the matching twin points of the ring and pinkie on the right— Eddie is going in with his middle finger, which is, frankly, downright inspired. Leave it to Eds to get even the smallest details just right. Richie is about to compliment him accordingly, but then Eddie presses the slippery pad of that middle digit right up against his asshole and it hits Richie’s vocabulary like a shrink ray.

Ah—!” he gasps without meaning to, then tries to brush it off with weak chuckle. “It’s, uh, a little cold.”

“Sorry,” Eddie murmurs, his left hand giving Richie’s hip an apologetic squeeze. “Let’s get that warmed up for you.”

Nothing that a little friction won’t fix. Deft and deliberate, Eddie rubs his fingertip first back and forth, then in tiny clockwise circles, the pressure attentive and firm. As intended, the lube isn’t the only thing that starts to get heated up by the motion. The longer it goes on, the more Richie gradually leans back into it, pushing himself more and more insistently into Eddie’s hands. It’s a lot to process— not just the action but his own urgent, intuitive response to it, his body so far beyond his rational control that he’s just as surprised as Eddie when his asshole clenches at Eddie’s fingertip, desperate to draw him inside.

“Jesus,” Eddie sucks in a breath, his hand going still in astonishment.

That only makes it worse, Richie’s hips jerking in protest, his voice juddering out of him in involuntary, abject supplication.

“Oh, c’mon, Eddie, c’mon, please—”

He almost wails in relief when Eddie turns his wrist and pushes until something gives, the last line of defense reached and breached as his finger finally, finally slips inside. God— it’s not that deep but it’s still so much, so thick and solid and real— this is real— Richie twists his face into the crook of his elbow, his other hand thrown out against the headboard with an emphatic bang. Eddie’s finger freezes in place, his grip tightening on Richie’s hip in concern.

“Are you okay? Is this okay?”

H’yeah,” Richie moans, his arm wrapped around his face so he can burrow his hand into his hair. “Oh, fuck, Eddie, it’s good— it’s good, just— just take it nice and slow, all right?”

“Nice and slow,” Eddie confirms. “I’ve got you, Richie.”

Richie’s affirmative reply bubbles into garbled gibberish as Eddie’s finger dips just a fraction deeper, then withdraws by twice that same subtle measure. It’s a narrow window but they’re starting small, Eddie using those two points as the boundaries for his next shallow thrust, then the next, his finger carefully loosening Richie up from the inside out. It feels so good but it feels so weird it’s weird because nothing has ever passed through there before that wasn’t on its way down to the toilet water and Richie’s brain keeps telling him oh you nasty son of a bitch you’re taking a shit right now except he’s not he can’t be because Eddie already took care of it. Eddie took care of him. Richie doesn’t have to worry about any of that anymore— he can just let go.

“Ohhh Jesus,” he hisses, his spine strained up into a hairpin curve. “Yeah, Eddie, that’s good. That’s— yeah—”

“Yeah?” Eddie breathes. “You like that, Richie? You want some more?”

“Yeah,” Richie pants. “Yeah, I want more— I want— hnghfuck!

He gasps and shudders as Eddie gently, gently eases the rest of the way into him, his other fingers curled back so he can slide in up to the knuckles. It’s tight, but it doesn’t hurt— it’s more like the gratifying burn of a much-needed stretch after being trapped in a confined space for far too long. Richie can’t even begin to figure out what to do with his own hands, pawing at his face, his hair, and the bed in equal measure, fumbling for anything that might anchor him to reality and keep him from entirely losing his mind. He doesn’t know what he would do if Eddie didn’t keep hold of his hip like that, his touch guiding Richie from without as well as within. He’s got the whole world in his hands, Richie thinks deliriously, amazed by the sheer scope of Eddie’s grasp, the entirety of Richie’s heart fitting neatly into the cradle of his palm.

“Oh, Richie,” Eddie’s voice catches. “Oh, wow. Is this— are you—?”

“It’s good,” Richie rasps. “Fuck, man, it’s really good.”

“Good, good,” Eddie nods. “Just tell me if it’s too much, okay? Tell me if you want me to—”

“I want you to keep going,” Richie wheezes, his hips rocked back onto Eddie’s hand. “Please, please, I want you to—”

But Eddie already heard him the first time, no begging required, and before Richie can even finish the next sentence Eddie’s finger draws halfway out of him and then sinks all the way back in again, the motion so smooth and forceful that it almost seems to physically eject the subsequent faltering cry out of Richie’s mouth. Before he’s even taken his next breath Richie has one hand smacked against the headboard, bracing himself so he can push back and take as much as he can.

“Yeah Eddie yeah—”

Eddie pulls out further on the next one, which only makes the ensuing thrust feel even deeper, Richie’s eyes rolling back and his mouth stretching open as Eddie pours in and fills him all the way down to the core. As if that wasn’t enough, Eddie also decides to give his wrist an experimental turn as he goes, his finger twisted clockwise inside of Richie in such a way that he feels tugs in places that have never been tugged before, a sensation that reverberates through his whole body in echoes that twinge at his stomach and thighs and balls. The switchboard in his brain must be going absolutely haywire, jammed like an elevator where every single button has been pressed, each one programmed with its own priority override.

“Fuck, fuck, that’s good,” he whines, his untethered hand raking mindlessly at the bed underneath him. “Do that again, please—”

“You mean like this?” Eddie wonders.

He twists counterclockwise— wax off— as he retracts his finger almost to the tip. Then, after a beat for Richie to catch his breath, Eddie drills back down into him with a slick, clockwise rotation. Wax on, motherfucker. Richie’s reply to that spoken question is unintelligible, but distinctly affirmative. Then it really is a wax on, wax off situation, as Eddie falls into a repetitive pattern of action, thrusting in and out at a mindful pace that starts off, as promised, nice and slow. Richie lets out a long, low groan, his hips clumsily moving to the rhythm of Eddie’s hand, his fingernails digging into the headboard.

“Ugh, yeah, Eddie, like that, just like that— ah, shit— fuck—”

“Yeah, there we go, Richie,” Eddie’s breathing is thick and heavy. “Fuck, it’s so tight, are you sure—?”

“I’m sure, I’m sure— don’t stop, please don’t stop—”

“I won’t, man, I won’t.” Eddie never misses a beat, his voice cracking. “Shit, Richie, I just want it to be good for you. I want it to be so good.”

Richie shoves his face into the mattress to muffle a sudden, plaintive sound, his hand jerked convulsively from the headboard and into his hair. A second later and he twists his head back towards the air, his mouth open and panting, his eyes screwed shut.

“You’re so good,” he pants. “I don’t know why— I don’t know why you’re so good to me.”

“Me neither,” Eddie slides his free hand down to squeeze Richie’s ass. “Maybe it’s because you’re so fucking sexy.”

Richie gives a weak bleat of laughter. “Maybe you need glasses.”

“Okay, well,” Eddie’s tone softens. “I guess it must be the other reason, then.”

Richie gulps back another funny sound, his fist clenched in his hair. He’s too flustered to say anything in answer, which, for him, is really an answer all on its own. Eddie’s hands have gone still, his middle finger stopped at the deepest point, sitting inside of Richie like he’s pulled up a chair and made himself at home. He moves his other hand to Richie’s hip again, returning to their starting position to let them regroup before they move on.

“All right, man, moment of truth,” he says. “You want to try two fingers?”

“Yeah, sure,” Richie quips. “Can you make that a Glenlivet?”

Eddie gives an amused scoff before withdrawing his finger entirely, which has the same effect as removing the central pillar from a big top tent, Richie slumping to the bed with a dejected huff. At least it gives him a chance to pry his death grip out of his hair, both hands reaching for the headboard as he stretches his arms out in front of him, then leans forward to raise the cramped convex of his back into a concave arch. As he settles down again he hauls his elbows in under him, propping himself up so he can blearily scrub his face with his hands.

“Hreugh,” he mumbles. “Shit.”

“You doing okay?” Eddie chuckles, the question punctuated by the snap of the lube bottle being opened.

“Oh, yeah,” Richie confirms, his tone artificially bright. “Just, you know, having one of those classic record scratch moments.” He shivers at the audible squirt behind him. “Yep, that’s me. You’re probably wondering how I got here…

It’s a funny story,” Eddie joins in, the bottle snapped shut and set aside. “It all starts with a Cleanstream shower enema kit…

“No, no way, man,” Richie objects, dropping the character voice to use his own. “Not even close.”

It takes some effort, but once again he leans onto one elbow and braces the opposite hand so he can twist himself back to meet Eddie’s eyes with his own. Eddie’s head is tilted at an expectant angle, his eyebrows raised as he waits for Richie to tell him where it starts instead.

“It starts,” Richie says, “with this shrimpy little wiseass with an inhaler in his fanny pack.”

Eddie’s smile fades, his expression going slack with wonder. Richie’s heart is in his throat, the memory so intense that he can still feel the penknife in his hands— can still hear the desperate scratching of the wood giving way to his urgent, overwhelming need to prove to the world, in whatever meager way he could, that it was true.

“Man,” Richie shakes his head, his voice strained. “I don’t know about first sight, but, uh— it didn’t take long. And then— then I knew. I knew it was you.” He shrugs, helpless. “It was always gonna be you.”

Now Eddie exhales, sharp, his left hand braced on Richie’s tailbone for balance. Even without his glasses Richie can see that his eyes are wet and shining. When Eddie holds up his right hand, Richie can see that the first two fingers are wet and shining, too.

“Dude,” Eddie says, his voice hoarse. “Don’t make me cry right before I stick my fingers up your ass.”

“Are you seriously gonna cry, dude?” Richie hoots in delight. “Seriously?”

“Yeah, seriously, dude!” Eddie lets out a choked, shaky laugh to prove it. “So you better knock it off, all right? I’m trying to focus, here.”

“What, you can’t multitask?” Richie drops his tone to a stage whisper. “Listen, if you ever want to work on that, I’d be happy to help— I’m kind of an expert on how to walk and chew gum at the same—ha!

He clips off into a gleeful squawk when Eddie slaps his ass again. The action gets bolder every time he does it. This time he follows it up by immediately grabbing and holding the point of impact, his fingers kneading away the worst of the sting while Richie hums with pleasure.

“Asshole,” Eddie says.

Richie waggles his eyebrows. “It’s all yours, baby.”

“Oh, yeah?” Eddie’s comforting massage turns into a possessive squeeze. “Well, don’t worry, I intend to take very good care of it.” He solemnly raises the glistening two fingers of his right hand. “Scout’s Honor.”

That gets another big laugh and one last fond look before Richie turns around again, settling back down onto his elbows with the most ease he’s felt yet.

“Just so you know,” he says. “I’m pretty sure the Scout’s pledge is actually three fingers.”

“Wow, Richie,” Eddie says behind him. “I thought you wanted to take it slow, but, y’know, I’m down if you are.”

Comeback options are limited; Richie walked right into that one. “Shut up.”

There’s a cool, wet touch against Richie’s asshole and he knows that Eddie is poised and ready, his other hand once again braced on Richie’s hip for support. Richie doesn’t remember grabbing the comforter but all of a sudden he’s got a death grip on matching fistfuls, his gaze fixed hard on the space between them.

“Remember,” Eddie says, quiet. “Just let me know if it’s too much.”

“Do your worsht, Goldfinger,” Richie slips into a mush-mouthed Sean Connery voice. “I’ll never talk.”

Eddie pinches his hip. “I mean it, Richie.”

Richie sobers and nods in affirmation. “I know, man, I know.”

“Okay,” Eddie confirms. ““You ready?”

“When you are, pal.”

“Deep breath,” Eddie commands, before taking one of his own. “And one, two, three, go.”

There’s the first fractional push of the middle fingertip and it’s fine, it’s fine, Richie knows he can handle this already— but then there’s the index finger hugged right up alongside of it, the both of them trying to slide in together like two hands trying to fit into the same glove. Richie draws in a sharp breath through his teeth, his head dropped down as he wills himself to let go, let go. Eddie’s advance is as delicate as he can manage, but a gradual push to the limit is a push to the limit nonetheless, and when it’s reached Richie has no choice but to call a time out.

“Okay, okay, wait, just wait.”

Eddie stops on a dime, his arm tensed as he readies to pull out.

“Do you need me to—?”

“No, just— just wait.”

Richie tries to focus on his breathing, then on slowly uncurling his fists and deliberately pressing his hands flat against mattress— anything to keep him from focusing on the fact that Eddie Kaspbrak currently has two fingers buried up to the first knuckle in his asshole. It doesn’t hurt but it’s right on the edge of it, his whole body clenched with nerves, his muscles tense and resistant to any further trespass. He needs to relax, he just needs to fucking relax. The only problem is that it’s really difficult to relax when Eddie Kaspbrak has two fingers buried up to the first knuckle in his asshole.

“Shit,” Richie pants. “I think I’m overthinking it.”

“It’s okay,” Eddie assures him. “Just try to relax.”

“No, yeah, I get that.” Richie’s hands are already digging their way back into the comforter. “It’s just, uh— nnh— it’s kind of a catch-22, isn’t it? You can’t really try to relax because, y’know— if you’re actually trying then you’re not really— uh, relaxing.”

“Shit, man,” Eddie chuckles. “I think you’re overthinking it.”

Richie huffs in annoyance. “Brilliant deduction, Sherlock.”

“What you need is a distraction.”

“Oh, really?” Richie is so frustrated that he doesn’t really pay attention when Eddie takes his hand off his hip, nor does he process the subsequent wet sound of Eddie putting something in his mouth. “Wow, thanks, that is extremely helpful to me right now, I guess I’ll just distract myself with—”

The next word snags in his throat like a fish bone as Eddie calmly reaches around to grab Richie’s cock and press his spit-slick thumb right over the head of it. When he tightens his grip, he overrides every other thought in Richie’s ringing skull, all of his senses telescoping in on the sensation like the iris at the end of an old-fashioned movie, his mind going almost completely blank.

“How’s this?” Eddie asks.

Hngh,” Richie wheezes. “Yep, that’ll about do it.”

Intent and deliberate, Eddie rubs his thumb back and forth at the tip of the slit, his fingers massaging Richie’s length against his palm while Richie squirms and moans underneath him. His hips are already starting to respond to the attention, twitching at every encouraging squeeze. He almost notices the slight discomfort increasing behind him— but the action in front of him is so much more compelling, and he’d rather focus on that instead. Eddie handles him at a steady, persuasive pace, his stooped posture bringing him low enough to scatter a handful of kisses across Richie’s back as he works, each one punctuated with a satisfied hum.

“Yeah,” he says. “That’s what I thought.”

Richie is just about to warn him that he’s getting close when Eddie stops moving and just holds him for one especially long squeeze. Then, without warning, he lets go of Richie’s cock altogether, adding one last kiss to Richie’s tailbone before he sits back on his knees with a loud, decisive sigh. That’s when Richie feels the knuckles pressed firmly against his ass and realizes that Eddie’s fingers are all the way inside.

“Holy shit, dude,” he breathes. “You’re good at this.”

“Not really,” Eddie says. “You’re just easily distracted.” He lays his free hand on Richie’s back to check for tension. “How does it feel?”

“Uh,” Richie’s mind’s eye flashes to x-ray vision to show him a brief glimpse of two entire fingers shoved up his asshole. “Good question.”

“Does it hurt?”

“I don’t— I don’t think so?” Richie frowns with the effort to articulate it. “It’s more like— I’m full. I feel, uh, really full.”

“Yeah,” Eddie says, his voice unmistakably heated. “I’ll bet.”

Something about the intense, knowing way that he says it makes Richie flush red to the tips of his ears. It’s funny, but he’d almost forgotten that Eddie can actually see everything that’s going on back there. Now all of a sudden he’s hyperaware of the fact that Eddie is kneeling behind him with a perfect, unobstructed view of Richie Tozier’s asshole stuffed to the brim with the first two digits of his right hand. Yeah, I’ll bet you feel full. Richie’s cock, so recently stroked back to full mast, gives a heavy, hungry twitch, his mouth abruptly going dry.

“It’s, uh—” he croaks out. “It’s good.”

“Is it? Really?” The heat in Eddie’s tone is shadowed by a faint hint of guilt. “You know you can tell me if you need to take a break, or if you want to go back to just one—”

Impatient, Richie jerks his hips, tugging Eddie’s fingers into a thrust that makes both of them gasp in response. Eddie’s other hand ends up clapped reflexively to Richie’s ass, his fingertips digging in for balance.

“Jesus, Richie,” he says. “Use your words.”

“Less talk,” Richie urges. “More action.”

He hisses with pleasure when Eddie tightens his grip, squeezing a generous handful of ass to anchor himself as he begins to move his fingers— not in and out as Richie expected, but twisting back and forth in a series of clockwise-counterclockwise turns like he’s rewinding a cassette tape with a pencil. The simple ache of Richie’s hole being stretched on the outside is drowned out by the complex multitude of aches it creates on the inside, that same strange tug that starts in his belly and sparks out through the rest of him, a call that his body itches to follow. He thinks of all the times he was told that this would hurt. He thinks of all the times he was told that this was wrong. Then he thinks of all the time he wasted believing those things were true.

Right on cue, Eddie asks, “Is this good, Richie?”

“It’s good, Eddie,” Richie answers, close to overwhelmed. “It’s really good.”

He whines in appreciation as Eddie gradually starts to slide his fingers in and out of him. He’s still tight enough that the bump of Eddie’s knuckles gives him a little extra jolt the first few times he pushes back in, but it isn’t long before that too begins to fade, the muscles coaxed looser and looser with every pass. Eddie keeps massaging Richie’s ass as he goes, first on one side, then reaching over his arm to get to the other, his grip increasingly forceful as his fingers move with increasing speed.

“Uuuuugh,” Richie groans, his chest sinking down to the mattress as his spine is pulled back like a bow being strung. “Yeah, Eddie— yeah—”

“Uh huh,” Eddie says. “I’ve got you, Richie. I’ve got you.”

Harder— faster— at a certain point Eddie has to stop his massage so he can grab on to Richie’s hip for leverage, his fingers twisting and thrusting at a tempo that punches a sharp, staccato cry out of Richie’s mouth on every rebound. Richie has both hands fisted in the comforter like he’s hanging off the edge of a cliff, his body wracked with the same acute, overwhelming sense of an imminent plunge, every single nerve ending lit up in warning. The longer it goes on the more intense the feeling gets, the clipped cries giving way to long, wavering moans that modulate to the rhythm of Eddie’s hand.

“Yeah, there we go,” Eddie huffs. “Fuck, that’s good.”

Now there’s nowhere left for Richie’s voice to go except up, the pitch rising like an old-timey siren, the vibrato intensifying as Eddie accelerates, the clamor accompanied by the loud, slick sounds of his efforts. If Richie really was hanging off a cliff then he’d be a fucking dead man, because he is definitely starting to lose his grip. He knows he won’t be able to hold on much longer. And it must come through in the mounting tone of his wailing, because right before he breaks into a full-til howl Eddie suddenly drops the breakneck sprint to a deep, leisurely amble that leaves Richie slumped and gasping for air. Eddie eases him down with a few more heavy thrusts, a careful decompression chamber before he gradually withdraws his fingers altogether, leaving both hands free to grab Richie’s ass in a rough, affectionate kneading as he chuckles and catches his breath.

“Holy shit,” he wheezes. “You doing okay, man?”

Richie manages a woozy, automatic nod while he runs the actual systems check, only to discover that he is, actually, more than okay. In fact he’s more okay than he ever thought that he could be, while at the same time less okay than he ever expected. It’s the sense of loss that surprises him. He would have assumed he’d feel some kind of relief when the pressure was removed— but as soon as Eddie is out of him, the only thing Richie feels is empty.

And that can probably only mean one thing.

“Hey, Eddie,” he pants, blurting it out before he has a chance to second-guess himself. “I think— I think I’m ready for more.”

“Yeah?” Eddie keeps stroking Richie’s ass, his thumb rubbing over the softened ring of muscle at the center. “You wanna go for the full Scout’s pledge?”

“No, I mean—” Richie swallows hard, his heart pounding. “I think I’m ready for you.”

It takes Eddie a second to process it, but Richie knows exactly when he figures it out— all at once Eddie goes very still, his hands suspended in place like dancers after the music abruptly cuts to silence.

“Are— are you sure, dude?” he wonders, his voice faint. “It’s okay if you need more time.”

“I know,” Richie swallows again, his throat unbearably tight with nerves. “But, uh, I don’t want more time. I just want you.”

He hears Eddie’s breath catch behind him, his hands tightening on Richie in the same convulsive squeeze of someone losing their balance and grabbing onto a safety railing before they fall. A split-second later and he consciously loosens his grip, his hands coming to rest on Richie’s hips, his touch almost unbearably light.

“I want you too, Rich,” he says, hoarse. “It’s just— I don’t want to hurt you.”

The words send a shudder running through Richie’s body, his chest immediately constricted like a greedy fist to hold on to the feeling. And that does it— he needs to see him. With a grunt of effort, he leans over to snag his glasses from the edge of the bed, fumbling them back onto his face before he hauls himself up onto his hands and knees and shuffles into a 180-degree turn. He finds Eddie waiting for him with the exact same nervous hopeful eager look on his face that he had on the unforgettable night when he first spoke this moment into existence. Sitting back on his heels, Richie reaches out to frame that expression between his hands like a painting.

“Hey,” he says. “Remember what you said to me the first time I jerked you off?”

Surprised, Eddie pauses to furrow his brow in thought.

“...it’s not rocket science?

Richie narrows his eyes. Eddie thinks harder.

“...you better not stop, you son of a bitch?

Now Richie raises his eyebrows. “Dude.”

Eddie looks away and concentrates. Then his eyebrows rise as the realization hits him, and he looks back at Richie with a shy smile of understanding.

I’m not made of glass.

Richie smiles back, his thumb reaching to trace the scar under Eddie’s cheekbone— a tangible reminder of how true that statement really is.

“I want to try,” he says. “Can we try? Let’s just try.”

With a fond expression, Eddie raises his left hand to clasp Richie’s corresponding wrist. He keeps his sticky right hand in his lap, thoughtful enough not to smear it all over Richie’s face and hair. What a gentleman.

“See?” he says. “I told you so.”

“What?” Richie makes a suspicious face. “Told me what?”

Eddie gives his wrist an affectionate squeeze. “You’re braver than you think.”

Richie softens and gives his face an affectionate squeeze back. “You did that too, Eds. That was you.”

And before Eddie has a chance to dispute the claim, Richie steers him into a kiss instead, the same kiss he’s been holding on to ever since Eddie first said “wow.” Without hesitation Eddie’s hand jumps from Richie’s wrist to his face, his lips parted not in protest but in eager welcome. He lets Richie set the pace this time, following his lead into a rhythm that’s slow and sweet, their mouths moving together in lazy, contented harmony. And as the kiss deepens, Eddie finally figures out what to do with his right hand, reaching over to curl his slippery fingers around Richie’s cock.

Richie breaks out of the kiss with a sharp inhale. On the exhale their foreheads end up pressed together as they both look down to watch Richie fumble to return the favor. As soon as he’s got a good hold on him, Richie is suddenly more aware of the actual size and shape of Eddie’s cock than he ever has been before. All at once his brain is fixated on calculating the length and thickness within his grip, wondering exactly how much longer and how much thicker it will feel than a pair of fingers, anxiously palpating it like he’s testing the ripeness of a melon at a supermarket. He doesn’t even realize he’s staring distractedly into the middle distance until Eddie tilts his head down to catch his eye.

“Uh, hello?” he prompts. “Bueller?”

“Sorry,” Richie shakes his head to clear it. “It’s just— you know that scene in Indiana Jones when he’s weighing the bag of sand in his hand?”

Eddie rolls his eyes heavenward in a plea for mercy. “Oh my god.”

“No, no, listen,” Richie is already starting to laugh. “All I’m saying is, it’s a lot harder than it looks!”

“Yeah,” Eddie smirks. “That’s what she said.”

Richie’s eyes go wide with delight. He doesn’t even have time to exclaim “Eds gets off a good one!” before Eddie hooks his left hand around the back of his neck to drag him into another kiss. This one is deeper and more deliberate than ever, the hungry pull of Eddie’s mouth echoed by the equally hungry pull of his hand, Eddie’s grip tightening on Richie’s cock in an emphatic reminder to stay on target. Richie answers both gestures simultaneously, one hand pushed into Eddie’s hair while the other strokes Eddie’s cock in return, each moving with the same intense, worshipful affection. Richie never would have thought that he’d be able to touch someone so freely and so well, but when Eddie sighs against his mouth, he knows he must be doing something right.

After spending so much time focused on Richie, Eddie has gone a bit soft, but Richie takes care of that in no time, enthusiastically coaxing him back to full strength. Eddie handles Richie with a bit more restraint, mindful not to push him over his limit too soon. They both have a pretty good feel for it by now— this particular method was one of their earliest forays into mutual pleasure, and at this point probably has the most punches on their frequent-flyer card. In fact it’s almost tempting to let autopilot take over from here, stick to the familiar routine and let it carry them both to a safe, satisfying conclusion. It’s not like Richie doesn’t love to feel Eddie come in his hand.

But then he wouldn’t get to feel Eddie come somewhere else.

Richie abruptly pulls out of the kiss, almost embarrassed by how forcefully the craving hits him, his thighs aching with the need to have Eddie back between them as soon as possible.

“Fuck,” he pants. “I want you, Eddie. I want you so bad.”

“I’m yours, Richie,” Eddie promises, nuzzling their foreheads together. “All yours.”

He leans in for one more kiss before he extracts himself from Richie’s grip and sits back on his heels. It feels strange to let go of his cock before he’s finished— Richie looks longingly after it like he’s watching a server carry away a dish that he wasn’t done eating yet, his appetite piqued but far from sated. The hunger pangs only increase as he watches Eddie take it into his own hand and give it a few quick, decisive strokes, making sure that he’s as ready as he can be. The memory of the first time that Eddie let Richie watch him masturbate flashes past Richie’s mind’s eye like a landmark glimpsed from the window of a speeding train. Talk about a night for the history books.

“So, uh,” Eddie makes a vague gesture with the hand not currently wrapped around his dick. “How do you want to do this? Maybe— maybe you should turn around again?”

“Oh,” Richie fidgets his newly-empty hands together. “I guess— I guess I thought we could just—” Now it’s his turn to gesture vaguely, his gaze averted so that he has a chance at actually saying this out loud. “Can I— can I be on my back?”

Eddie pauses in the middle of retrieving the lube, his gaze turned sharply towards Richie before he looks back to grab the bottle.

“I don’t know if that’s a good idea, man.” He fiddles with the cap, snapping it open and closed. “It’s just— I was looking up some stuff online, and I read that for your first time being on the— being, uh—” Eddie makes his vaguest gesture yet. “They said you should choose a position where you can feel like you have, uh... more control.”

“Okay, first of all?” Richie says. “It is so cute that you actually googled this shit.”

“Wha—?” Eddie’s expression warps in a mixture of confusion and annoyance. “Of course I googled it, asshole! How else do you think I would know how to do all of this?”

“I dunno,” Richie shrugs. “A very special issue of Boys’ Life Magazine?”

Eddie has to struggle to keep a mask of irritation over his sudden smile. “Fuck you, bro.”

“Okay, and second of all,” Richie persists. “And this one is really important.” He spreads his open, empty hands for emphasis. “Since when have I felt like I had any control ever?

Now Eddie frowns slightly. “That’s… that’s not really a good thing, Richie.”

“You’re telling me,” Richie says. “But, you know, the silver lining is that I’m not about to start expecting it now.” He brightens as another angle occurs to him. “In fact, I will probably feel like things are more under control if you’re the one who’s actually in control.”

Eddie’s frown softens. “You know that I’ve never done this before, right?”

“Yeah, but you googled it,” Richie points out. “I just watched a bunch of porn and panicked.”

The frown is back. “You do realize that porn can create a lot of unhealthy and unrealistic expectations about sex, right?”

“No kidding,” Richie agrees. “All the little guys were always the bottoms.” He scoffs and rolls his eyes. “I mean, talk about unrealistic.

When his gaze comes back around he finds Eddie’s face is flushed red, his eyes averted and his left hand clapped over his flustered grin. And it’s funny, but with that one throwaway joke, Richie realizes that he’s never actually put that exact sentiment into words before. Now in a blinding rush this simple statement of fact appears in his head fully-formed: Eddie Kaspbrak is a top. And it explains… so much.

“Okay, well,” Eddie clears his throat, oblivious to the epiphany. “Realistically speaking— it still might be easier for you if you turn around.”

“Fuck that,” Richie says. “Come on, man, I don’t want to turn around. I want to see you.”

And it’s like he didn’t even know how sappy it was until he actually said it out loud. When Eddie looks at him in astonishment, Richie immediately gives a theatrical wince, his face screwed up and his voice pitched to an awkward mumble.

“Shit, that sounds kind of gay, doesn’t it?”

Eddie puffs out a faint chuckle. “Only a little.”

RIchie leans in with a conspiratorial whisper. “Is it too late to call no homo?

“Uh, yeah,” Eddie leans in and whispers back. “I’d say it’s about two fingers too late, pal.”

“Okay, well,” Richie shrugs. “If that’s the case, then I guess we might as well go all the way, huh?”

Eddie smiles and mirrors the shrug. “Might as well.”

They lean the rest of the way in for a quick, decisive kiss. Then, before he can chicken out, Richie uses the rebound to carry him backwards, his hands braced on the bed behind him so he can untuck his legs from underneath him. It isn’t until his ass actually touches down on the bed and his feet are propped in front of him that the sheer physical reality of the situation really hits him. Suddenly he’s faced with the actual moment of lying back and opening his legs, and it’s basically the difference between looking at a bungee jump from the ground and then looking at it from the top of the platform with the cords around his ankles. His body makes one last-ditch effort to save him, his instincts triggered with the urge to hug his knees to his chest and make a fortress of himself, the hermit crab retreating back into his shell.

Then Eddie breathes, “Wow.”

And the next thing Richie knows he’s lying back and opening his legs, feeling as silly and sublime as he ever has in his life. Even in this rush of courage he can’t quite make it all the way down— he ends up catching himself on his elbows, his toes clenched in the comforter and his heart doing an entire motocross routine around the inside of his ribcage.

“Wow,” Eddie chokes out again, his voice ragged.

“Yeah,” Richie gulps. “Wow.”

Eddie shuffles a little closer, his hands reaching out to rest on Richie’s knees, his gaze sharpening slightly as he appraises the position.

“Do you need— here, pass me a pillow.”

He holds out an expectant hand, taking control just like Richie hoped. Equal parts thrilled and relieved, Richie complies without hesitation, grabbing a pillow from up by the headboard and passing it forward, only for Eddie push it back towards him in disagreement.

“Dude, that’s my pillow.”

“So?”

“So we have like, four sham pillows! Grab one of those!”

“Fine, fine.”

While Richie swaps one for the other, Eddie reaches over to grab one of the towels that’s still draped over the edge of the bed. Then he combines the two items, carefully doubling the towel over the pillow before giving Richie an indicative tap on one knee.

“Okay, lift up.”

“Lift what now?”

“Your ass.” Eddie nods at the pillow. “This goes under your hips.”

“Huh,” Richie blinks. “Well, now I know why you didn’t want to use yours.”

“Don’t worry,” Eddie rubs his knee reassuringly. “I wouldn’t have used yours, either.”

He reaches down to give Richie’s rump a brisk pat, spurring him to plant his feet and lift his ass off the bed as instructed. He quickly discovers that in order to get it high enough for Eddie to scoot the pillow underneath, he has to lie all the way back and prop his weight up onto his shoulders. As he settles down again, he’s all too aware of the raised angle of his hips, the rest of him spread and supine in anticipation. And as if that wasn’t already a lot to handle, then he looks down between the bracket of his knees and sees Eddie just sitting there and staring at him. Richie immediately jerks his gaze up towards the ceiling, his hands opening and closing into jittery fists.

“Yeah, this is fine,” he says weakly. “Whose bright idea was it to do it like this again?”

“Yours,” Eddie says. “And you were right.”

Richie looks back at him as Eddie puts his hands back on Richie’s knees, his thumbs rubbing at the dimples on the insides while his eyes chart a course over the landscape of Richie’s body, drinking in the sight of the whole thing laid out before him. He meets Richie’s gaze with the sort of amazed expression that suggests he’s just looked through the Hubble Space Telescope, or else stood at the edge of the Grand Canyon for the first time.

“You were definitely right,” he says. “I want to see you, too.”

“Are you sure?” Richie gives a shaky laugh. “Because I totally understand if you’d rather go back to looking at my ass.”

“Not a chance,” Eddie says, his grip tightening on Richie’s knees. “No way am I missing out on this view.”

The impulse to respond with something sarcastic fills Richie’s mouth with the familiar taste of self-deprecation, the words on the tip of his tongue before he manages to catch them and swallow them back down again. He knows he can do better than that. Eddie deserves better than that.

“Yeah,” he says instead, his voice feeble. “It looks pretty good from down here, too.”

Eddie bites his lip against a grin, his hands drifting from Richie’s knees and down along the inside of his thighs.

“Hey, Richie,” he says with all the fondness in the world. “Thanks for letting me do this, man.”

Richie gives a little hiccup as ten thousand different emotions get into a pileup in the back of his throat, his eyes stinging as he fights to speak through it.

“Sure,” he croaks. “No problem.” He hiccups again. “Thanks, uh— thanks for wanting to do it.”

“Dude, are you kidding?” Eddie’s grin is now too big to be contained, his whole face lit up in excitement. “I want to do everything with you.”

The words send a pang through Richie’s whole body, an ache that might have once been described as hunger but has now become something else in the way that a seed becomes a tree. He’s never wanted someone like this before. He’s never wanted anything like this before. It would almost be enough just to know that he’s capable of feeling this way— the fact that he actually gets to have what he wants is a bonus almost too staggering to comprehend.

“Yeah,” he manages to say. “Me, too.”

Eddie lets his hands get almost all the way down Richie’s thighs before he trails them away, reaching over to grab the bottle of lube and snap the cap open. Richie drops his head back with a forced exhale through pursed lips, his eyes darting around the ceiling while his hands push nervously into his hair.

“Just— nice and slow,” he stammers. “Right?”

“Oh, man, absolutely,” Eddie assures him. “We’re just gonna start with one finger again, okay? Then we’ll work our way up to it.”

Richie nods with relief while Eddie pumps out a fresh squirt onto his fingers, then closes the bottle and sets it within easy reach. He scoots in a little closer and Richie instinctively opens his legs a little wider, his hips canted up from the pillow in invitation. Eddie chuckles in acknowledgment and strokes his left hand along Richie’s shuddering belly, his palm coming to rest just at the base of his cock. His right hand slips down between Richie’s legs, his middle fingertip finding Richie’s asshole by touch and giving it a few preliminary strokes.

“Mmm,” Richie sighs, already starting to relax. “Yeah, that’s good, Eddie.”

“Yeah?” Eddie rubs a little more insistently. “Fuck, man, I can already feel how ready you are.”

Richie makes an amazed, incoherent sound, completely blindsided by the potent combination of giddy pride and sheer debauchery that he feels when he hears that. It’s almost like Eddie isn’t the only one who’s a natural at this— like maybe Eddie Kaspbrak is a top isn’t the only epiphany that Richie is going to have today. Maybe he’s having that epiphany right now. Or maybe he has it at the exact moment that Eddie wriggles his finger inside and it doesn’t hurt at all.

“Oh, shit,” Richie gasps, his feet planted so he can arch his hips up towards Eddie’s hand. “Jesus, fuck.”

“Uh huh,” Eddie says. “I thought so.”

He tries a few experimental thrusts, his left hand sliding down to cradle Richie’s inner thigh, his thumb tracing tender circles against the skin. Richie has both hands braced on the bed, his fists tangled in the comforter on either side of him while he stares up at the ceiling and pants until he almost laughs in disbelief. When he looks down along the length of his heaving chest and belly, he sees Eddie kneeling between his legs with a matching expression of astonished incredulity. In the next second they’re grinning at each other like they’re side by side in the getaway car after pulling the heist of the century.

“Another one?” Eddie asks.

Richie wants to say something stupid and cocky like “bring it on” or “more power to the main thrusters” but instead he just blurts out, “Ugh, yes, please.

Eddie slips out and holds up his hand to show Richie as he crosses his index and middle fingers together, then reaches down between Richie’s legs and feels his way back to the target, his joined fingertips rubbing an introduction before he presses them inside. Richie’s dumb grin fractures into a slight grimace, his breath coming in a sharp hiss at the increased pressure of two digits instead of one. Eddie’s dumb grin falters accordingly, his eyebrows immediately knit together in concern.

“You all right, man?”

“Yeah,” Richie exhales.

He raises the heels of his hands to his forehead, then pushes his fingers into his hair to get a good grip. It helps him hold his head up at an angle that lets him keep looking at Eddie, showing him that the grimace has turned into eager, open-mouthed panting.

“Fuck yeah, man,” he says. “Come on, don’t leave me hanging.”

Right away Eddie’s grin is back in full force, no longer dumb but fierce and fearless, his left hand moving to brace against Richie’s hip. Then he leans in to get a good look at Richie’s face as he gradually eases his fingers the rest of the way inside of him. Richie obliges by letting his mouth stretch wider as Eddie stretches him wider, his throat producing a low, protracted moan that Eddie answers with a gravelly hum. The penetration is no thicker or deeper than anything they’ve done so far, but it feels totally different now that Eddie is looking him in the eye as he does it. Richie feels as seen as he’s ever been in his life.

Hnh— yeah—” he whines, his thighs twitching with need. “Come on, Eddie, don’t— don’t leave me— mmh—!”

He throws his head back as Eddie twists his fingers in and out of him, the motion hitting him like a mallet hits a bell, Richie’s whole body struck and vibrating with the impact. Then Eddie keeps on ringing him, his fingers sliding in and out while Richie squirms and moans and rocks his hips, the clamor inside of him growing louder by the stroke. At a certain point Eddie leans in far enough that his left hand drops from Richie’s hip to the bed beside him, supporting his weight as he curves over Richie’s body with his own. His cock bumps against Richie’s stomach, then against Richie’s cock, his right hand still stretched back down between them to keep working Richie’s asshole at an increasingly staggered, urgent rhythm. Richie reaches up to grab at Eddie’s shoulders, then his face, his hands shaking and his voice irreparably cracked.

“I want it,” he says. “Eddie, please, I want it— I want you.”

Eddie turns his head to mouth at Richie’s palm. As he does that, he crooks his fingers inside of Richie in a come-hither gesture that almost makes Richie do exactly that, his spine arched with a sudden, spasmodic yelp. In the next instant Eddie draws his fingers out and Richie collapses onto the pillow in a breathless sprawl, his hands falling limply onto his chest as Eddie sits up and goes for the lube bottle.

This time he doesn’t squirt it onto his fingers. This time, when Richie manages to lift his woozy head, he sees Eddie holding his dick and meticulously squeezing a generous portion of lube directly onto the length of it, his fingers smearing it around like he’s applying sunscreen. He glances up and sees Richie watching in goggle-eyed astonishment, which only makes Eddie’s eyes dart away in self-consciousness.

“This— this is what you meant, right?”

Richie nods and swallows hard. “Yep.”

Eddie relaxes by a fraction. “Okay, good.”

Once the bottle’s out of the way, he moves in closer— Richie has to spread his feet even further apart as Eddie’s knees scoot up on either side of him, the tops of his thighs brushing against the underside of Richie’s, urging him to raise the angle of his hips. When it’s not enough, Eddie slips his hands under Richie’s knees, giving him a gentle, prompting push.

“Here,” he murmurs. “Can you lift up your feet?”

“Sure, Eds,” Richie mumbles, terrified and trusting him completely. “You’re the boss.”

He reaches up to join Eddie’s hands under his thighs, then tentatively starts to pull them back towards himself. The hardest part is actually uprooting his feet from the mattress— once they’re up and moving, the momentum and gravity do the rest, the rise of the pillow only encouraging his knees to fall back towards his chest. Much sooner than he expected, Richie is flat on his back with his legs drawn up and wide open. He stares up at Eddie, his voice a reedy squeak.

“Okay,” he says. “I think I’m starting to understand what you meant about not feeling in control.”

Eddie’s expression immediately crumples with worry, his hands already reaching to tug Richie’s legs back down again.

“Hey, it’s okay,” he says. “It’s fine. We can totally do it the other—”

“No, no, Eddie,” Richie halfway sits up in an impulsive attempt to reach him, just managing to snag one of Eddie’s hands in his own. “Eddie, wait. Wait.”

He twines their fingers together, his other elbow propped awkwardly behind him so he can really take it in— Eddie Kaspbrak, the love of his life, naked and kneeling between his legs because he asked for it. Because he wants to be there. He wants Richie. Richie wouldn’t believe it if he wasn’t looking at it with his own two eyes, and sometimes, hardly even then.

“Damn,” he says, his voice thick with emotion. “That’s a hell of a view.”

Eddie’s anxious look melts away into a warm smile, and he squeezes Richie’s hand while his other strokes Richie’s thigh.

“Yeah,” he says. “It looks pretty good from up here, too.”

“Come on,” Richie gives him a crooked smile of his own. “I put my glasses back on and everything.”

“Only if you’re sure,” Eddie insists. “It’s really okay if you want to have more control.”

“I don’t need control,” Richie says contentedly. “I’ve got you.”

“Huh,” Eddie’s mouth quirks with affection. “You’ve got me, all right.” He gives Richie’s hand one last emphatic squeeze. “You just have to promise you’ll talk me through it, okay? I want to know exactly what’s going on.”

“I promise,” Richie says, extracting his hand from Eddie’s to hold up three fingers. “Scout’s Honor.”

Eddie swats at the gesture as Richie grins and slips both hands behind his knees again, settling onto his back and laying himself bare. With a sigh to steel his nerves, Eddie shifts into the space between Richie’s open legs, his left hand propped on the underside of Richie’s corresponding thigh. With his right hand he takes hold of his cock and gives it a few hasty tugs, then carefully angles it down to nudge the head of it right up against Richie’s waiting asshole.

“Okay,” he says, only a slight tremor to his voice. “I’m gonna take this— really, really slow, all right?”

“Uh huh,” Richie’s voice has a bit more of a tremor but it can’t be helped. “You got this, man.”

He instinctively screws his eyes shut at the first hint of pressure, then yanks them open again as quick as he can, clinging to his promise not to hide. It’s a good thing, too, because Eddie is watching him like a hawk, his gaze riveted to Richie’s face as he cautiously, cautiously presses himself into the center of the tight knot of muscle. Even weighing it in his hand didn’t prepare Richie for how truly daunting it would feel, how much thicker than those two fingers after those had already been such a challenge. Eddie definitely made sure to use more than enough lube, so the obstacle here isn’t friction— it’s constriction. Richie relaxes as much as he can, but god, at this agonizing pace it seems like he’s just being stretched wider and wider with no end in sight.

“Ah, fuck,” Eddie pants, the tremor in his voice now much more pronounced. “Are you okay, Richie? Come on, say something, talk to me.”

“I’m— I’m okay,” Richie grits out. “It’s a lot. Ugh, god, it’s a lot.”

Eddie withdraws slightly, giving Richie the space to take another deep breath before he pushes in again, slow and aching, spreading Richie open from the inside. It burns the way that Richie’s lungs burn when he holds his breath for too long, his body trying to warn him that the strain is too great to be endured.

“Richie,” Eddie prompts.

“It’s tight, it’s tight— careful— hngh, fuck—”

“Is it too much?”

“No,” Richie pants. “Maybe.” He gulps. “Are you close?”

“Uh— you’ve almost— you’ve almost got the whole head,” Eddie says, his voice taut and trembling. “That’s— that’ll be the hardest part.”

“Okay,” Richie gulps again. “Okay, yeah, keep going.”

“Are you sure?”

“I’m sure, fuck, just— please—”

Richie darts one hand over to hold Eddie’s where it’s anchored under his thigh. Eddie gladly accepts his grip, their fingers once again tangled together as Eddie ratchets his weight forward by delicate degrees— Richie whines through clenched teeth but nods his head, encouraging, begging

“Easy,” Eddie whispers. “Easy, easy—”

They both suck in the same gasp of amazement as Eddie suddenly pops past the last bit of resistance, the head of his cock now stuck firmly on the other side of the looking-glass. Then Eddie holds the breath while Richie lets it out in a long, skittery moan, his head thrown back until his throat has to strain to produce the sound.

“Holy shit,” Eddie rasps, his hands braced under Richie’s thighs, holding them both still. “Richie. Richie, you did it, man. Are you okay? How do you feel?”

It’s a good thing Eddie is propping Richie’s legs up for him now, because he can’t stop his own hands from plowing madly up into his hair, grabbing and twisting in an instinctive attempt to divert at least a fraction of his sensory input away from the near-catastrophic overload taking place down below, his mind and body simply unable to process the fact that— that—

“It feels good, Eddie,” he whimpers. “Oh, god— you feel good.”

“Fuck, Richie,” Eddie says, hoarse. “So do you.”

“Can we just— can we just wait— for a minute?” Richie wheezes and twists his fists in his hair, his eyes running laps around the ceiling. “Just gimme a minute, I’m— I just gotta— hgh, god—”

“Yeah, man, yeah, of course,” Eddie hastens to soothe him. “Fuck, I can’t believe you took this much already.” His breath catches in admiration. “You’re doing so good.”

Richie keens like a wounded animal, only vaguely aware of the hot tears running out of the corners of his eyes and streaming down to the pillow under his head. Meanwhile the pillow under his hips really does keep him at the ideal angle to gradually adjust to the full scope of Eddie’s presence inside of him, spreading him out and filling him up. Oh, Jesus, and that’s just the head— Richie does a review of his Indiana Jones-style assessment and almost keens again in helpless apprehension. It would almost seem impossible, if he hadn’t already blown way past that word back in the shower.

“Oh, Richie,” Eddie says, his voice quavering. “You feel so good.”

Wrenching his gaze down from the ceiling, Richie lifts his head to look at Eddie’s astounded face, their eyes finding each other and holding on. Oh, good— Eddie is crying, too.

“Hey, man,” Richie says weakly, mustering up a watery smile.

“Hey,” Eddie sniffs. “Wow.”

“Can you— can you try a little more?” Richie timidly reaches back down to hold his thighs, his fingers brushing over Eddie’s like they’ve both reached into the same popcorn bucket at the movies. “Just a little. And don’t— don’t pull out, please don’t pull out.”

“I won’t,” Eddie says. “Just— tell me when to stop.”

Slow and careful, he pushes his cock a bit deeper into Richie’s ass. The first thing Richie notices is that Eddie was right about the head being the hardest part. Although this gives him the same sense of being filled up, it doesn’t give him quite the same uncomfortable sense of being stretched— or at least, not to such a degree as before. He focuses on Eddie’s eyes, which are focused on him, Eddie’s mouth creeping open in tandem with Richie’s own.

“Yeah,” Richie breathes, nodding for him to keep going. “Yeah, that’s— that’s good— h’yeah—”

“Oh, shit,” Eddie mumbles, his eyes going wider as he looks down between them. “Oh, shit, Richie— Richie, I’m halfway in— oh my god—”

He sounds so absolutely astounded that Richie wishes he could take more, just to drive Eddie even crazier— but even this level of enthusiasm can’t overcome basic physical limitations. Finally Richie has to tap out, which he does literally, one hand dropped from behind his thigh to feebly slap the bed underneath him.

“Okay, okay, time,” he pants. “Time, time.”

Dude,” Eddie exclaims, stopped on command. “Holy shit.”

Richie huffs out a reedy laugh. “How am I doing, boss?”

“Ho-o-oly shit,” Eddie repeats with a laugh of his own. “I think you might have another bullet point for your resume, man.”

“Yeah,” Richie shivers. “I think you’re right.” He flexes his hips, gingerly testing Eddie’s length inside of him. “But you know— mmph— natural talent is only gonna get me so far.”

Eddie squeezes Richie’s thighs. “Oh, yeah?”

“Uh huh,” Richie huffs. “I’m gonna— I’m gonna have to practice.”

“Well, you know what they say,” Eddie says solemnly. “If you want to be an expert at something, you have to put in at least ten thousand hours of work.”

Richie forces out a dry whistle. “Guess we better get cracking, huh?”

In lieu of a spoken reply, Eddie just steadies his grip on Richie’s thighs, then deliberately starts to draw his cock back out of him. Richie’s breath quickens with trepidation, but Eddie stops shy of pulling all the way free. Instead, once the head of him reaches the tightest point of the passage, Eddie rebounds off of it like a swimmer touching the wall of the pool before turning around for another lap. Then with the same deliberate motion he sinks back into Richie to the depth he marked before, triggering a matched set of groans from them both.

“Oh, fuck,” Richie heaves in a breath. “Ohhh my god, dude.”

“Yeah? Do you like that?” Eddie pants. “Is that good?”

“It’s really good,” Richie gasps. “”Ugh, fuck, that’s good— just like that—”

Eddie tries it again— then again— Richie can’t tell if he’s actually going deeper or if he’s just getting more forceful, Eddie’s confidence mounting tangibly with every thrust. He’s getting faster, too— not by much, but enough that the pitch of Richie’s voice starts to climb in answer, his eyes rolling over as his head tilts back into the pillow.

“Jesus, god,” he wheezes, his fingers clenched around his shaking thighs. “Eddie— Eddie— hah—”

Hnh— yeah—” Eddie is going deeper, he’s definitely going deeper, deeper. “Shit, Richie— Richie— you feel so good—”

He shifts his weight forward, his hands fumbled out to brace himself on the mattress on either side of Richie’s quaking body. The second he’s within reach Richie throws his arms around his neck to drag him closer— a second later and he arches and cries out as Eddie’s cock finally sinks in all the way up to the hilt. The thrusting falters to a standstill. Eddie stays right there, their foreheads almost touching, their bodies pressed flush against each other like sticky, sweaty puzzle pieces that were made to fit together. When Richie can’t hold his legs up any more, he finds that his heels can rest comfortably on the back of Eddie’s trembling thighs.

“Oh, shit,” Eddie chokes out, straight-armed and shaking. “Richie— Richie, are you—?”

“I’m good, I’m good.”

All Richie has to do is take a breath and he can feel Eddie inside of him, a fact that now completely dominates every single synapse in his nervous system. It takes a tremendous effort to force his wobbly arms to move, unwinding them from around Eddie’s neck so he can hold Eddie’s face instead, the expression there equal parts awestruck and overwhelmed. Richie rubs one thumb over the cheekbone scar, then swipes both thumbs through the matching set of tear tracks.

“Oh, man,” he says with a weepy smile. “I am so glad I put my glasses back on for this.”

Eddie gives a combination laugh-sob, tilting his weight over to one hand so he can use the other to reach up and brush the damp hair from Richie’s forehead, his knuckles grazing down to brush the tears away, too.

“Fuck you, man,” he say. “I think your crybaby is contagious.”

“Don’t fight it, Eds,” Richie sniffs. “It suits you.”

“Shut up.”

“Make me.”

Richie already has his mouth open and waiting when Eddie leans down for the kiss, his fingers threading up into Eddie’s hair while Eddie slips his hand to the nape of Richie’s neck, gallantly supporting the weight of his lifted head. They’re so close that their hearts could just about reach through their respective ribcages to carve their names on each other. Richie could almost swear he feels the pain of it now, his chest wracked with the purposeful etching of every individual letter. Stopping at Eds would be a cop-out. Even Eddie doesn’t feel like enough— Richie wants the entirety of Edward Kaspbrak engraved on his living heart. Hell, he wants Eddie’s date of birth— his social security number— he wants every single thing that means this single person to be stamped on every single beat that he’s got left in his body.

“Fuck,” he moans into the kiss. “Eddie. Eddie.”

Turns out that that’s pretty much the extent of his vocabulary right now. Clumsy but determined, Richie digs his heels into the back of Eddie’s thighs, tugging him closer while he cants his hips up in encouragement. Eddie immediately drops his free hand back down to the mattress to brace himself, his breath caught in a surprised hiss. Richie’s head falls back to the pillow, his hands moving to cradle Eddie’s face, steering their gazes back together.

“‘Richie—?” Eddie’s vocabulary seems to have been hit by the same shrink ray, his eyes wide and helpless.

“Yeah,” Richie nods his assent. “Yeah, Eddie— I want you to— ah—!”

He wrenches his head back with a yelp as Eddie hits him with his first full-body thrust, heavy and deep, the bulk of his weight driven behind it. At Richie’s yowl of affirmation, Eddie immediately pulls back and nails him again, just as heavy and just as deep, Richie’s feet popping up into the air while his hands scramble to grab on to Eddie’s shoulders for an anchor.

“Oh, fuck,” he whines. “Fuck, fuck, fuck—!”

“Yeah, Richie,” Eddie grunts as he does it again, then again. “Ah, fuck, that’s so good.”

He’s already picking up speed, his head dropped low over Richie’s chest as he leans into his efforts, his forehead beaded with sweat. Richie rakes his fingers down the bracket of Eddie’s arms, his hips tilting back, back until his feet are higher than he would have ever thought they could get, bouncing in the air to the rhythm of Eddie’s rising tempo.

“Ohhhh my god—” Richie wheezes. “Oh my god oh my god—”

Frantic to spur him on, he fumbles his hands down between them and then up over Eddie’s haunches, grabbing on and coaxing Eddie to go as deep as he can, urging him to go faster. Eddie answers the call with everything he’s got, his hips pumping and his chest heaving like a furnace bellows to maintain his pace.

“Oh fuck,” he pants, the words falling at the same cadence. “Oh fuck, oh fuck, oh fuck—”

Richie doesn’t know when they start kissing but suddenly Eddie’s mouth is crushed against his own, Richie’s hands skating up to press down on his shoulder blades in encouragement. The kissing takes the edge off of Eddie’s frantic speed, but he more than makes up for it with the intensity of each subsequent thrust, his cock buried all the way every time. Each one draws out a piteous cry that Richie is able to deliver directly into Eddie’s mouth, his hands now roving around Eddie’s back in wild, worshipful strokes, his heels once again hooked over Eddie’s thighs.

“Oh, god, Richie,” Eddie groans, nuzzling Richie with his sweaty forehead. “Richie, you feel so good, man— I don’t— I don’t know if I can last much longer.”

“Oh, good,” Richie wheezes, his head dropped back onto the pillow. “I thought it was just me.”

“Really?” Eddie slows to a halt and looks down at him in relief. “Is it good? Are you close?”

“Dude,” Richie would laugh if he didn’t think it would send him over. “I am, like, trying not to come right now.”

“Really?” Eddie repeats, no longer eager but amazed as he twists his head to look down between them. “Holy shit.”

Richie follows his gaze down to see his desperate cock twitching heavily against his belly, the head of it dark and leaking, the hair on his stomach thoroughly smeared with precome. He hasn’t dared to touch it. He knows the moment he does, it’s absolutely game over. To be honest, he’s actually just as surprised and maybe even a little bit bewildered at just how quickly Eddie was able to bring him all the way up to the edge. There’s that epiphany again— Eddie Kaspbrak is a top, and Richie Tozier is a— well, he’s pretty sure that if Eddie was able to keep this up long enough, he wouldn’t even have to touch himself at all.

But then he looks up at Eddie’s flushed, perspiring face, and he knows that they’ll just have to test that theory another day.

“I’m ready,” he says instead. “I’m— I’m ready to go. So when you’re ready, you just let me know and I’ll, uh— I’ll pull the trigger, okay?”

“Wait.”

Eddie lurches onto one hand, the other pressed abruptly to Richie’s chest.

“Can I do it?”

Richie exhales in a flustered rush. “Uh— yeah? I mean, hell yeah, man, that sounds— that sounds awesome.”

Eddie nods decisively. “Awesome.”

Richie blinks at him in astonishment, completely flabbergasted by Eddie’s ability to just fucking open his mouth and ask for what he wants. He makes it look so easy. Richie doesn’t know how he does it— but seeing as they’re kind of at the point of no return, he knows that he’s got to speak now or forever hold his peace.

“Hey, uh,” he mumbles. “Do you think you could—”

But it’s like a snare catches around his throat, cutting off his words and his air in one swift yank, his face going red-hot while his eyes scramble to look anywhere except Eddie’s face. He manages to keep that up for about two seconds before he looks back to find Eddie waiting for him with an attentive, curious expression.

“Yeah, Rich?” he prompts, still breathing hard. “What do you want, man?”

“Nothing,” Richie says. “Never mind.”

“No, no way, dude,” Eddie says immediately. “That’s not how we’re gonna do this.”

“It’s fine,” Richie insists, his eyes averted again. “Really. Forget it.”

“Richie, come on, man.”

Eddie catches him by the chin, turning his face back towards him. Richie relents and looks up with a frustrated sigh.

“Look, I don’t— I don’t know how else to say it, so I’m just gonna— I’m just gonna say it, all right?”

Eddie nods. “Go for it.”

Richie tries to hold the eye contact, he really does, but at the last second he has to screw his eyes shut before he can finally force himself to blurt it out.

“I want you to come inside me.”

Eddie sucks in a breath but doesn’t say a word. Panicking, Richie keeps his eyes closed and keeps talking.

“I mean, I don’t know if that was already your plan— which, you know, that’s totally rad, if it was— but, uh, just in case you were gonna, like— finish with your— your hand, or whatever— then I just wanna say, uh— please don’t.” He licks his lips and swallows hard. “Please.”

The ensuing silence lasts for either a few seconds or a few thousand years, it’s hard to tell. Then:

“Holy shit,” Eddie says, his voice low and rough. “That’s, uh… that’s fucking hot, dude.”

It works like a magic trick, Richie’s tightly-locked eyes suddenly popping open to stare up at him in total shock. Eddie looks back at him with a heated expression, his eyes dark and intense.

“Fuck you, man,” Richie mumbles, his tone cautiously defensive.

“I fucking mean it, man,” Eddie insists in a rasp. “That was— shit— that was really fucking hot.”

“Shut up,” Richie screws his eyes shut again, his fingers digging convulsively into Eddie’s back. “Come on, don’t—”

He bites back a moan as Eddie leans down over him, his hand trailing down from Richie’s chin to his chest, his fingers caged possessively over Richie’s heart.

“You just said that you want me to come inside you,” he says, and even though they’re Richie’s own words, hearing them in Eddie’s voice is suddenly almost enough to take him apart on the spot, his arms and legs and everything else clenched around Eddie in a feverish spasm.

“H’yeah,” he pants, shameless. “Yeah, I did.”

Eddie grunts and ducks his head, his hips jerking reflexively at the way Richie tightens around him, his hand braced hard on Richie’s chest.

“Fuck, man,” he wheezes. “You don’t think that’s hot? Because, uh, I think that’s pretty fucking hot.”

“You’re pretty fucking hot,” Richie retorts on total reflex.

It’s enough to make them both crack up laughing Then Eddie leans down and Richie leans up to meet in the middle for a kiss that they can barely manage to pull together through their smiles.

“I’m gonna— I’m gonna do it,” Eddie says between kisses.

“You better fucking do it,” Richie chuckles against his mouth. “I used my words and everything.”

“Yeah, you fucking did,” Eddie huffs. “That’s pretty fucking hot, too.”

Richie rolls his eyes. “Shut up, man.”

“Oh, uh, and just so you know?” Eddie gives him a wolfish grin. “I was definitely already planning to come inside you.”

Richie tries to disguise his needy whimper with a scoff. “Oh, sure, you’ll do it because you want to, not because I told you to.”

“I’m just saying,” Eddie shrugs. “I did put a towel under your ass before we started.”

Richie gulps down another whimper. “That’s, uh, awfully presumptuous of you, mister.”

“Oh, don’t worry, I had every intention of asking for permission.” Eddie carefully plants both hands back on the bed, bracing himself in readiness. “I was gonna say, Hey, Richie?

“Yeah?” Richie trembles. “What, Eddie?”

With a casual sigh, Eddie lets his weight sink down over Richie’s body, his cock pushed into him as far as he can possibly reach, Richie’s eyes and mouth going wide in anticipation. Eddie grins down at him.

Can I please come inside you?

“Gee, I dunno, Eds,” Richie squeaks out. “Can you?”

Eddie reels away from him with an appalled groan, then dives back in with a thrust that makes Richie sing like a goddamn canary, his head thrown back and his toes curling in the air. He clutches at Eddie’s back, holding on for dear life as Eddie sets in hammering him at a swift, steady pace, absolutely determined to prove that yes, he can.

“Oh, fuck,” Richie whines, already skyrocketing back towards the brink. “Oh god, oh fuck, fuck!

“Yeah, Richie— yeah—” Eddie pounds him harder, faster, throwing everything he’s got left into this last surge of effort. “Ugh, fuck, you’re so good, you’re so fucking goodshit—”

“Eddie,” Richie sobs. “Eddie, fuck, I think— I think I’m gonna—”

He breaks off into an abject cry when Eddie takes hold of his cock— his frantic, starving cock— Richie tries to warn him that he’s coming but then all at once Eddie is coming too, buried up to the hilt as promised, the whole length of him bucking and pulsing and flooding Richie with a rush of thick wet heat while Richie wails and spills himself all over Eddie’s hand. God, Richie can’t get enough of it— he locks his legs around Eddie’s hips and rocks up into the weight of him, his movements jerky and erratic as Eddie keeps working his spent cock through the aftershocks.

“Ah, yeah—” Richie bleats, squirming on Eddie’s cock. “Yeah— fuck yeah—”

“Uuuuuugh, god,” Eddie groans, his thumb rubbing insistently at the head of Richie’s length, his other hand propped shakily on the bed. “Shit, shit, shit.”

They give everything they have to each other, holding on long past when they should probably give up, both of them hellbent on delivering every single ounce of pleasure they can offer. At a certain point it becomes— well, not quite a competition— after all, it’s hard to say if there’s a winner or a loser when the only reason someone taps out is because he’s experienced his maximum limit of satisfaction. This time it’s Richie, whose stimulation from two simultaneous angles leaves him with half of his usual endurance.

“Fuck,” he wheezes, one hand dropped between them to catch Eddie’s wrist. “Okay, okay— that’s good, man. That’s good.”

Eddie stills his hand, holding on to Richie’s cock for a final, soothing squeeze before he slowly uncurls his fingers and takes his grip away. With a huff of effort, he plants both hands on the bed so he can lean down and give Richie one last exhausted kiss on the mouth. Then he pushes himself upright into a kneeling position, braces his hands on Richie’s thighs,and carefully extracts his softening cock from Richie’s ass. Richie draws in a breath as he feels Eddie leaving him— and when Eddie reaches the end, Richie exhales and lets him go. Eddie emerges with a wet pop and a warm spill that courses out of Richie in his wake.

“Holy shit,” Eddie breathes, kneeling between Richie’s open legs, staring in wonder at the mess they’ve made between them.

“Yeah,” Richie gulps down a generous lungful of air, his first in quite a while. “I’ll bet you’re really glad you put that towel down now.”

Eddie sits back on his heels, his shoulders and chest heaving up and down as he labors to catch his breath. Even in such a thoroughly wrecked state, he still has the presence of mind to grab the other bath towel from the edge of the bed, hauling it over and sloppily spreading it out next to Richie before he collapses beside him. Richie wants to roll over to face him, but his ass kind of needs a minute to rest on the pillow and reflect on everything its learned today. He settles for throwing an arm around Eddie’s drenched, sweaty body instead, hugging it against his own. He sighs in contentment when Eddie throws an answering arm over his come-splattered belly, his leg drifting over to tangle between Richie’s, determined to stay as close as possible.

“Holy shit,” Eddie whispers again, his face pressed against Richie’s shuddering chest.

“Yeah,” Richie mumbles. “You said it.”

He strokes his fingers through Eddie’s damp hair and lets all sense of time and place drift away. He has about a million different things that he needs to process— not to mention a few long conversations that he probably needs to have— but that can all wait. For a little while, the only thing that matters is right here, right now. There will be plenty of time later for everything else that comes after.

Not that after won’t be fun, too. Because after this is the clean-up, the pair of them heading right back into the shower again, this time with the Cleanstream nozzle as a witness rather than a participant. This will be the first time that Richie gets to switch the nozzle on and give Eddie a dousing when he least expects it— and it certainly won’t be the last. And it’s funny, but Richie already has a strong suspicion that, no matter how many times he does it, Eddie won’t ever really get mad. They’ll both know that it’s only a matter of time until he’s the one holding the nozzle again.

“Hey,” Richie says, his eyes on the ceiling, his hand meandering down from Eddie’s hair to stroke his back. “I want to say something. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before.”

Eddie sighs and settles in. “Try me.”

Richie’s fingertips graze against the edge of the jagged starburst scar as he says, “I love you.”

He can feel Eddie’s breath catch under his touch, a little shiver running through him as he curls his hand over Richie’s chest in answer.

“That’s a good one,” he says. “How about this: I love you, too.”

Richie smiles, then tucks his chin to look down as Eddie cranes his head to look up, his eyes clear and bright.

“Well?” Eddie prompts. “What do you think?”

“I think,” Richie says. “We might be on to something, here.”

“Yeah,” Eddie smiles. “I think so, too.”

 

 

 

_end.