“Hey,” Eddie Kaspbrak’s roommate, Ben, spoke loudly to him, over the pounding music next door, “I think there’s a party going on.” The music had easily been going for an hour.
Eddie gave him the flattest look he could muster. He was sitting on the floor on his yoga mat. He was trying to get his calves to calm the hell down. It had been an incredibly long day in the studio after an impossibly long week. Eddie was, naively, looking forward to going to bed early.
Naive being the operable word, because he was next-door neighbors with Richie Tozier. Also, Bill Denbrough and Mike Hanlon. But the biggest problem was Tozier, a loud-mouthed wanna-be radio star with a penchant for playing loud music incredibly late at night.
“Do you think that’s where Stan is?” Ben asked quietly, moving from his desk to his bed. Mind you, he didn’t have to go far. Their triple dorm room was maybe the size of Eddie’s bicep. Stan’s corner was impeccably neat, and very rarely occupied. Ben’s was in the corner, so Stan didn’t have to look at it. Ben tried, but he always had these post-cards and notes pinned up on the walls with the odd picture, and his bed never managed to stay made. Eddie considered his corner to be somewhere in the middle of the scale of neat-ness. He had a dance bag that was always a disaster, but his blue bed-spread stayed made.
“Doubt it,” Eddie finished rubbing the cooling lotion into his calves. He cracked his knuckles. “He hates Tozier as much as I do.”
“I don’t think that’s possible.” Ben joked. He was tapping his fingers nervously to the beat of the song, loud and raucous, some underground shit that was noisy to make noise. “If you want,” he watched Eddie begin his nightly cool-down stretches, “I could, like, ask them to turn it dow-”
“Ben, if you want to go then go.” He turned his body out, keeping his hips square, taking a deep breath. “I could care less.” He didn't not appreciate Ben's effort at nobility in not leaving by himself. But Eddie, truly, did not care. If everyone else in that school wanted to waste their time getting wasted, so be it. If they could have just done it quieter... That's all Eddie wanted.
“You should come with me!”
“That,” Eddie almost fell on to his mat, “is not happening.” He glanced up at Ben’s pitiful face and sighed. “I have dance tomorrow.”
“You don’t have dance, you practice by yourself at 8 in the morning. No one makes you do that.”
Eddie Kaspbrak had been accepted into the Boston University of the Arts, and he wasn’t there to waste his fucking time. He woke up at five a.m. daily, party next door or not. He made straight A’s. He would be the first sophomore to land a principal role, so help him God. He didn’t care what anyone had to say about it. Ben, who really just hated the alarms, or the roommates next door, who Eddie had fought with nightly over noise for the first six weeks of school. Their RA was, apparently, absolutely useless and believed in cultivating a relaxed culture and self-care. Which was bullshit. Eddie didn’t need to relax, he needed to rehearse. In the morning. Which was why music was a fucking problem.
Eddie sat up with a huffy little breath. The music, if it was even possible, got louder. “That’s it.” He announced, standing up. Ben sighed, because Eddie always said he was not going over there, and always did anyway.
“Are you gonna change?” Ben asked, “should I put on shoes?”
“Yes, you should put on shoes.” Eddie shuddered at the thought of walking on dorm floors barefoot. “Why would I change?” Eddie asked, stretching in his place. He squinted when his hair fell into his eye. It was annoying, he needed to get it cut, but barbers weren’t open by the time he left the studio in the night most of the time.
“I don’t know.” Ben shrugged, putting on his converse without unlacing the laces. Eddie had no idea how he managed that one. “I think your...leggings are fine, and all but-”
Eddie was wearing what he wore to class. Tights, athletic pants, and a white t-shirt. It was the uniform for technical ballet classes. He still had his dance belt on, because he just preferred to whip everything off when he showered before bed. It was a perfectly acceptable outfit. He raised his eyebrows.
"You know what, forget I said anything," Ben stood up, kicking Eddie's street shoes, a nice pair of boat shoes, in his direction, "let's just go."
The party, like a gaping, infectious wound, had spread, and multiple doors in their hall were open. People were spilling out in between them. Eddie grabbed Ben’s wrist for support, and ignored his chuckle of amusement. There were rooms with snacks and rooms with booze and every room had a plethora of people. The music, though, the music was only coming from one room. Eddie shut his eyes, swallowed his pride, and took a deep breath. He had fought Tozier before, and he could, and would, do it again. He marched in with a brave face. On the inside of the triple next door, right by the closet, was, surprisingly, Stan.
Stan was wearing a fucking sweater vest to a college dorm party. He was surrounded by one or two people, Eddie didn’t know them. He dragged Ben up to them, trying to play it cool. He didn’t want to be the freak of their floor, but he did want to freak out, because why the fuck was their RA letting this happen? Eddie learned that he wasn't within a solid forty five seconds of being there. It had gotten out that the RA forgot to file for absence that night, and just left anyway, because it was his girlfriend’s sorority whatever and he enjoyed his life without being mince meat.
“Do you want a drink?” Stan asked, standing up from the door. His shirt was un-tucked a little bit in the front. Eddie tucked it back in. Stan grinned at him gratefully, fondly.
The girl next to him, dark hair that faded into blue and purple lipstick, added in helpfully “I can get you one next doo-”
“No thanks,” Eddie finished, not trying to interrupt her but succeeding anyway. Ben nodded at her and thanked her, and followed her out of the room. Stan squinted at Eddie.
“So…” Eddie tried to be relaxed, act cool, and leaned his hand on the wall. “Music’s…” he tried to frame his comment in a neutral way, “pretty loud, huh?”
Stan snorted, taking a sip of his drink. “Do you want me to ask them to turn it down?” He asked him with an amused smirk, staring over the rim of his cup.
“You?!” Eddie nearly did a double take. If Eddie thought he bickered with their neighbors, Stan had started an all-out war. Especially with Tozier. And Tozier always controlled the music at those things. Always.
Stan raised an eyebrow.
“You’ll ask-” and Eddie did it, finally spared a look in his direction. He was tall and obnoxious and his clothes were even moreso. Currently, he was wearing jeans with the ankles rolled up so you could see banana socks, and filthy sneakers. He had on too many layers for a room that warm, a plaid shirt over a shirt that said “WHO THE FUCK IS JESUS” which Eddie might have laughed at if it were anyone else. His dark hair was too long, it hung over his face as he hunched over a computer on what could only be his bed with Beverly Marsh. She, as far as Eddie could tell, was not wearing pants. They were smoking something, and laughing loudly.
“Richie?” Stan asked. He then shrugged. Eddie assumed his face must have been entirely baffled, because Stan responded to it next. “Eddie, I’m literally one of his favorite people.” Eddie thought he knew some things to be true. You separate lights from darks. You put ketchup on the side of fries, not on top. The sun rises in the east. Stan hated Richie. He felt like someone broke into his home at midnight, told him the sky wasn’t blue, that his perception of blue wasn’t something anyone else shared, then took a piss in his flower pot.
“You fight constantly,” was Eddie’s only counter argument.
“Oh, well, yeah, he’s the worst person in the world.” Stan downed the rest of his drink, sharing a knowing look with the guy next to him. “I’d still, like, kill someone for him.” He threw his cup behind Eddie into the garbage bin. A clean shot. “Wanna come ask?”
“I’ll stay here.” Eddie squeaked out.
Stan laughed again, “okay.” He shrugged, he had done that a lot. Eddie wondered if his shoulders were feeling okay, “you do that.”
Eddie did the best he could possibly achieve at looking like a person who was interested in the conversation he was having and not one less than ten feet away. He tried to make eye-contact, and only let his eyes flick over to that bed occasionally. He asked him about his major, which was writing, and also boring. When his eyes flicked over again, he realized he was getting watched by Tozier. His face was remarkably similar to that of a lion that sees a sheep. Except, a lion was far too cool an animal to describe Tozier. Maybe, like, an otter that saw a ...whatever otters eat. Otters dieting habits aside, Eddie practically jumped back into his conversation with Todd...Tim, or something like that. It was rather embarrassing, because they had been introduced like fifteen times, but he had been dreadfully uninteresting just about every time they had spoken. Eddie almost regretted not accepting a cup of something, because maybe it would spice up the story Ted was telling him about a movie no one had seen but him, probably. But that would have thrown him 240 calories over for the day, approximately, something Eddie just did not have left in his day.
“SO-” A hand slammed into the wall by his head and Eddie couldn’t help it, it was loud and it scared him so he jumped. “HEARD,” he looked up to see Richie, grinning at Tom, winking at him, before turning his attention back down to Eddie “THERE WAS SOME CRITICISMS,” had Richie heard of an inside voice “OF THE MUSIC?”
“You’re being very loud.” Eddie replied plainly, not at all enjoying the feeling of being boxed in by the gangly limb.
“Huh,” Richie’s eyes sparkled, like he had given him bait, but he had no idea what he said that deserved that look “that is exactly what your mother was saying to me last night when-”
“Richie.” Beverly’s head popped up from under his arm. She was a tall girl, taller than Eddie, but still had to make do sometimes when joining the conversations with the giraffe. “That is en-”
“Oh,” Eddie blinked with surprise, resenting Beverly’s need to rescue him, “that was you?” Richie’s gross, in Eddie’s opinon, smile grew. The sweat on his face was causing some hair to stick to it. It wasn’t even that hot in the dorms in November. It was just the amount of people cramming into the rooms. “I was wondering why she looked so disappointed this morning.”
Richie blinked, and then laughed loudly, and made grabby-hands for Eddie’s waist. He backed himself further into the wall, but there was nowhere really to run from the gangly monster.
“He gets off a good one-” Eddie had no fucking idea what that was meant to be “the ballerino: 1.” He seemed to settle for grabbing on to Stan’s waist, who had joined them at some point in time during that horrific exchange.
“You gonna turn it down?” Eddie quirked an eyebrow.
“How can I, when you just turn me-”
Beverly slammed a hand over Richie’s mouth, offering Eddie a sweet smile and a soft “yes.” She was wearing a men’s shirt as a dress, belted at the waist, and ripped leggings under it. Eddie imagined the girl could wear just about anything and look charming, so long as she was smiling.
Eddie realized the shifting of positions gave him an easy out for the door. He would have thanked them, if it were necessary, but all he was asking was that they literally stop breaking rules so aggressively, so he skipped it. “Later, degenerates.” He told them, offering a two-fingered salute to Beverly, and Stan, whom he needed to have a long conversation with the next day. When he caught Richie’s eye, he turned his fingers into one, a single, middle finger raised high in the air.
He turned around during Richie’s laugh. He watched his feet hit the textured carpet as he booked it out of there. He pretended to not hear Richie drunkenly announce “god, he’s cute,” to the room.
And he definitely didn’t smile about it, as soon as he shut his door.
Because the fact of the matter was: Richie Tozier was a fucking disaster. He took more shots than classes he attended. He greeted people in the morning high, like, everyday. He almost got fired from the radio station after being there two weeks. And the most recent rumor was that he slept through three of his midterms.
Eddie could only assume, as he heard the music lower and he, finally, changed out of his dance wear, that Richie got in the way every untalented kid got into their school.
And that, over everything else, was something Eddie never, ever wanted to be around.