Saturday 9:00 pm
“We look like alcoholics.” Richie pointed out as he stared at the table in front of him that was piled high with ‘goodies’ as Beverly called them. From left to right there were two bottles of vodka, half a bottle of whiskey, some leftover tequila, a row of shot glasses, a bag of ice, some nachos and about four litres of coke and lemonade to act as mixers. “We’re going out for one night, not an entire month!”
“Are you seriously complaining about having a weekend away from work to get drunk? Richard Tozier, I thought you were raised better than that!” Beverly teased, grabbing two shot glasses and filling them to the brim with vodka.
“I know I was raised by Maggie ‘Shots till She Drops’ Jones and Wentworth ‘Never Say No to A Beer Keg’ Tozier, but that doesn’t mean I want my liver to shoot itself in the face.” However, he didn’t reject the shot she handed to him, instead he threw it back and grabbed some nachos. “Nice vodka.”
“It’s raspberry!” Beverly beamed. “Stan got it for my birthday and it’s amazing.”
“Speaking of, where is my lover boy?” Richie looked down the hallway to see him combing his hair in the mirror. “Come and have a shot, sexy!”
“Give me a minute.” He called back, too distracted by his hair to look over at Richie. Richie rolled his eyes and turned back to Bev.
“So, where are we going tonight, darlin’?”
“There’s a place Bill mentioned,” she said, grabbing some nachos for herself. “Some underground place near Broadway. All the theatre kids love it.”
“If this is just a ploy to get me to see a musical again-”
“I wouldn’t be getting you this wasted if we were going to the theatre.” Beverly scoffed. “It’ll be fun, okay? And who knows, maybe you’ll actually get laid.” She winked at him, trying to make him feel a bit better, but Richie just laughed at her.
“I’m sure I’ll find some desperate guy or gal in there.” His tone was obviously sarcastic and Beverly raised an eyebrow at him. “What?”
“You need to be more confident!”
“You know you’re talking to me, right?” Richie laughed. “I’m the most confident prick this side of Brooklyn!’
“I also know you don’t think as highly of yourself as you admit. Seriously Rich, you’re hot as hell! If I wasn’t with Ben and Bill, we,” she pointed back and forth between the two of them “would have some type of agreement my friend.”
Richie looked at her curiously. “I mean, I’d never say no to a foursome.”
“Of course, you wouldn’t.”
“Does that mean you think about me a lot in bed? Huh? You gotta tell me, Marsh!” He called after her as she laughed and ran away, most likely going to find Bill so he can come and do shots with them. Stan, Richie, Beverly and Bill were the only ones heading out that night, lucky enough to all get the weekend off of work to have some fun. Mike was working early Sunday at the museum so he gave it a miss, but promised to leave out glasses of ice water for them when they got in. Eddie wasn’t working but he was busy catching up on some TV shows he had missed, so he was currently hauled up in the living room with Ben who was drawing up some building plans his boss had asked him to sketch.
When they went out, Stan always said he would only have a couple of drinks but would end up buying them all shots after a few dances. Beverly never said no to that, and that ended up with her the drunkest or at least the most enthusiastic to stay out later, wanting to dance until the morning and never go home. Bill was exactly the same, except he was an incredibly clumsy drunk and tended to get kicked out because he‘d spill his, or someone else's, drink over himself and start crying with laughter. Richie was pretty good with his alcohol and only got horrendously drunk on whiskey, which he never touched, instead opting for vodka or beer.
Richie poured himself another shot just as Stan came in looking immaculate as always. He was wearing a smart white button up and black jeans and Richie sighed at him.
Stan rolled his eyes and put his hands on his hips. “Go on, what’s wrong with it?”
“You look like you’re going to a business meeting. Come on, let loose!”
“You call wearing a ratty old shirt letting loose, do you?” Stan asked, gesturing to Richie’s Looney Tunes shirt. He shrugged.
“The homeless look works for me. Just...undo the top few buttons and roll up your sleeves, at least.”
“I don’t need to-” Stan started but Richie was already reaching over and undoing the top two buttons so his collarbones and the top of his chest was exposed. “Richie, stop! “
“Let the titties out!” Richie cheered and poured Stan a shot of tequila.
“Uh, no way!” He tried to bat it away but Richie just held it closer.
“Come on! Just one, for me?”
“I owe you nothing.”
“Oh my god!” Stan snatched it from his hand and downed it in one, not even flinching, although Richie knew his stomach and throat must have been burning. “There, happy?”
“Extremely, and slightly turned on, do you think Mike would be okay with letting you stay in my room tonight?” Richie shimmied his hips in Stan’s direction and Stan smirked at him. “I could show you a real good time ya know. First class ticket on the Ten Inch Tozier express.”
“You honestly think you’d top in that scenario?” Richie choked on air and Stan laughed. “Come on, pour me a real drink.” Richie grinned, showing off his teeth.
“I love party Stan.”
Saturday 11:20 pm
The club was horrendously crowded, and Stan had a death grip on Beverly’s hand as she led him through to the bar. He noticed a few guys looking over at their clasped hands in jealousy and he smirked. Beverly did look beautiful tonight, some tight jeans and a bodysuit covering her figure but enhancing it perfectly. She even wore some heeled boots for the night, making her a solid 5’8” instead of her usual, adorable 5’4” height. Stan allowed her to drag him through a group of drunken men who were all cheering and chanting along to whatever song was playing, before they finally reached the edge of the bar.
“What are you having?” Beverly called out to him over the thumping music. Stan wrapped an arm around her shoulders protectively, knowing Bill would appreciate that, and looked at the array of drinks.
“Why not more shots? The boys were looking a little dehydrated.” Beverly could have kissed him.
“You read my mind, excuse me!” She called over to a bartender who instantly came over at the sight of her. Beverly smiled at him and ordered four shots of vodka using her phone to pay. Stan bobbed his head to the beat and looked around at the dancefloor to his left. He could vaguely see Bill and Richie right in the centre, where he and Beverly had just been, and saw them jumping up and down and shaking their heads, grinning like idiots. Both of them were sweaty and completely wasted, but Stan looked at them fondly. They were happy, and that’s the thing he really wanted out of that night.
“Here you go!” Beverly caught his attention again just as he started looking around the club again and he took two of the shots from her, waiting for her to begin walking. He followed close behind her, making sure not to spill the drinks in his hand, and squeezed past some girls dancing closely together. They were grinding up on each other and he wondered if that was even a fun dance move to do. He couldn’t imagine so, and was glad Beverly never did that to him. Richie, however, probably would, so he made a mental note to push him away if he even tried to do that.
“We bring gifts from faraway lands!” Beverly shouted once they finally reached Bill and Richie and she laughed along with Stan as the two cheered. They grabbed their shots, Stan handed Beverly her own, before Richie held his up to toast.
“To us, the best damn friend group in the world!” Bill nodded at that. “And to this shot which is about to fuck me all the way up!”
“Here here!” Beverly cheered and the clicked their glasses together before throwing them all back. None of them cringed - except Bill, he had never been good with shots - and handed the glasses to a lady walking past with a tray. She smiled at them but before walking off she leaned close to Richie and whispered something in his ear, winked at him, then left. Beverly stared slack jawed and then started shaking Richie’s arm in excitement. Stan could faintly hear her say something along the lines of ‘what did I tell you!’ and he laughed at Richie’s shocked expression.
“She s-s-seemed nice!” Bill nudged Richie with his elbow.
“What did she say?” Beverly asked eagerly.
“Well, Stan will be glad to know she thought my shirt was cute,” Stan scoffed at him. “And that she gets off at one in the morning.” Beverly nearly pulled his arm out of its socket she was so excited.
“Get in there, Rich!”
“She’s not my type.” He waved it off, starting up his jumping up and down dance routine, but was quickly pulled out of it by Beverly and Bill.
“What? Come on dude-”
“Everyone is your type, Richie! Come on, she was cute!”
Richie laughed, patting both red heads on the head lovingly. “My dear, sweet, supporters. You’re very lovely, but just lemme pick my own lay, okay?”
Beverly sighed but shrugged. “Not my fault if you’re all pent up later!”
“If I need relief, I’ll just ask Stan to insult me, that makes me shoot so hard.” Richie threw a wink at him and Stan mimed gagging.
“Oh, god...say it again!” Richie moaned in the most ridiculous way and Stan couldn’t help but crack up. Bill suddenly put his hand into his left pocket and pulled out a pack of cigarettes he was sharing with Beverly. He tucked one behind his ear then offered the pack to the others.
“Maybe later when I’m in bed, ya filthy animal!” Richie shrieked, smacking Bill on the arm and causing Beverly to bark out a laugh. Bill eventually wandered outside to the smoking area by the entrance on his own, Beverly politely declining his offer as she so desperately wanted to keep dancing. However, that didn’t stop her from giving him a long, suggestive kiss before he left, and Stan could see the blush on Bill’s cheeks even in the darkened club.
“He’s definitely getting some later.” He said to Richie when Bev began dancing on her own, lost in the music. Richie beamed and wrapped an arm around him.
“Oh, you better believe it! Now, dance with me, lover boy!” He dragged Stan towards him then spun him, and Stan just let it happen. He was letting loose, having fun, and he wasn’t ashamed to admit it was kinda hot when Richie held him by the waist and dipped him. He’d tell Mike about that later and they’d laugh together.
Stan’s drunken mind was odd at the best of times. And Mike’s sober reaction would probably make him giddy; Mike was not the jealous type and encouraged Stan during games of ‘spin the bottle’ because he wanted Stan to have fun. Kissing the losers was more than okay with him, it was okay with all of them, because they had this weird bond that separated them from other friend groups. None of them understood it, but no one questioned it. They were close, almost like seven, idiotic soulmates. And that was okay.
Stan pulled Richie close to him and the two started jumping as the beat picked up, sending everyone around them into a mad frenzy. Stan could feel the drinks being spilt down his shirt, the stickiness of the dance floor, the far off look in Richie’s eyes that were oddly kind of hilarious. Even with his glasses he looked like he was having trouble seeing everything around him, and he kept frowning at Stan every time he’d close his eyes or sway his hips or mouth along to the lyrics.
It didn’t weird him out, like some would think, but it was confusing him. Richie flirted with everyone, obviously, but sometimes with Stan - and especially Eddie - it was a little more obvious or sexual. Stan had learned to just insult him to the point where Richie was either speechless (very rare) or doubled over with laughter (not so rare). They both knew Stan would never intentionally anger him or try to upset him; it was all in good fun. Stan loved him, adored him actually, and he would tell anyone that asked that Richie Tozier was the best friend he’d ever had.
And that was what fuelled Richie to stop dancing just as the beat started going slower, building up to the final chorus that would surely send everyone crazy. Stan frowned, holding Richie’s hands and urging him to keep moving with him, but Richie wouldn’t move. He was saying something, Stan realised, and he frowned, not being able to hear him over the bass.
“What?” Stan shouted and Richie repeated the sentence. He could make out ‘I think I’m ready- ‘and then ‘-would it be bad if- ‘
Stan laughed and wrapped an arm around his best friends’ shoulders, leaning in to talk into his ear.
“I can’t hear you, say it again?”
Richie seemed to freeze up against him and Stan looked down at him, concerned. This wasn’t Richie, he realised, the normal Richie would make some inappropriate comment about Stan touching him or put on a Voice and waggle his eyebrows to make him laugh. This Richie, however, stared at him for almost 10 seconds before grabbing the back of his head and kissing him.
There was a moment where everything stilled, the beat was still going because Stan could feel it vibrating from his toes all the way to the top of his head, but everything else around him went static. Then everything seemed to come back all at once like a tidal wave and Stan pushed Richie away. The kiss had lasted a mere second but it still took Stan by complete surprise. His mouth was hung open in shock and Richie’s eyes were as wide as saucers. Neither said anything, but eventually Richie stumbled his way backwards and out of the crowd, shoving people aside and heading towards the exit.
“What the fuck was that?!” Beverly’s voice called out from behind him. Stan stared after his best friend, feeling sick to his stomach.
Stan had no idea.
Saturday 11:45 pm
Bill didn’t smoke often. As teenagers he, Richie and Ben sometimes smoked in the Barrens back in Derry, trying not to cough up a lung on Wentworth Tozier’s old Winstons, and talked about finishing high school, girls, boys, and moving far, far away from that deadbeat town. Richie told them the moment they would turn eighteen they were gonna be out of there.
“Quick as lightin’!” He’d wink and it would make Bill roll his eyes.
“None of us huh-huh-ave even picked colleges yuh-yet.” He pointed out. “We’re only j-j-juniors.”
“So?” Richie exhaled. Ben subtly coughed a little into his chubby fist in the background. Bill smiled at him. “I know where I’m going. New Yawk citeh!” Richie was slowly getting better with his Voices, but god, his New York accent needed some work.
“Do you think any of us could get in on a scholarship?” Ben asked. “Do they ever do architecture scholarships?”
“Muh-maybe.” Bill shrugged. “I’m shuh-sure they du-du-do.” He took a drag of his cigarette before stamping it out into the dirt near his sneaker. The cinders flickered off in a circle and he watched them burn out into the soil. Maybe he could get in on a scholarship, he was getting pretty good at writing. That’s what Beverly and Georgie said at least, when he actually led them read his work. He liked to write horror novels and paint pictures of monsters or the night sky when he was bored or feeling down about something. When his parents argued in the living room downstairs Bill would write a story of two ogres battling in a forest, and he and Georgie were two young knights watching behind the bushes. Georgie had liked that one; he wanted to have his own sword after that.
“Whatever happens, we do it together, m’kay?” Richie nodded at them, pointing the end of his cigarette at his two friends. “No splitting up, or whatever. We’re a team. All seven of us. It’s seven or zero.”
“Seven or zero.” Ben repeated, and Richie held out a fist for him to bump.
Bill smiled at them. Seven or zero.
He remembered all of this as he leaned up against the brick wall outside the club smoking his cigarette. It tasted the same as the one he smoked then, oddly enough, and didn’t seem to burn as much as they usually did. But then again, he was wasted. His head was lolling a bit and he knew his eyes were drooping shut every so often, but he didn’t care all that much. He had had a good night, and he deserved it. They all did. After smoking he decided to go back in for a few more dances with the others, then try and drag everyone home so he and Beverly could attack Ben with drunken kisses and words of praise. They knew he secretly loved that, even if he flushed red and batted them away.
There were some people staggering past him down an alley towards the area where a bunch of taxis often parked. Bill watched as a few of them had to be carried because they were too drunk to walk, and he chuckled to himself. Thankfully he had never gotten that bad before. Richie had, and even Eddie at one point, but the others were always there to help them get back on their feet. They always would be.
Someone knocked into Bill’s shoulder, forcing him out of his daydream, and then slurred out an apology at him. Bill nodded at him, turned his head, then paused. He slowly glanced up to see the back of a dirty blonde head and broad shoulders. He frowned. Didn’t he know him from somewhere?
“Bill?” Bill turned around completely to see Richie standing there looking worse for wear. Bill stubbed his cigarette out on the brick behind him and pushed away from the wall.
“Are yuh-yuh-you okay?” He asked, standing in front of his best friend. “You luh-look like sh-”
“I kissed Stan.” Richie blurted and Bill went quiet. Now that he wasn’t expecting.
“Why?” Was all he could ask.
Richie blinked at him. “I’m in love with Eddie and I don’t know how to deal with it.”
“That...Richie that ruh-raises more questions th-th-”
“I know, I know.” Richie waved his hand at him. “But...you’re smart and you always know what to do. So, I need you to do that.” His eyes were wide and manic and his breath was coming out in short, harsh bursts. His hands were shaking too, his entire body was shaking actually. He looked desperate, really desperate, and Bill for the first time in his life was a little scared of Richie. “I really need you to tell me what the fuck to do, Billy. Because I have no fucking idea anymore.”
“Wait you luh-love-”
“Yes, I love Eddie! I have since I met him! That’s why I don’t hook up with people, it’s why I ignore anything that flirts with me or women who work at bars that like my Looney Tunes shirt and ask me to fuck ‘em after work!”
Bill blinked in shock. “That waitress asked you t-t-to fuck her?” Richie stared at him with a shocked expression.
“That’s what we’re focusing on?!”
“You’re throwing a luh-lot of information at m-me, Rich.”
“I know, shit!” Richie ran both hands through his hair and paced up and down in front of Bill, biting at his lower lip and scuffing his shoes. Bill’s mind was running at a hundred miles per hour. Richie loved Eddie, Richie had just kissed Stan, Richie was telling all of this to Bill because...he was stumped on that one. Bill may know what to do most of the time, but that didn’t include love. He hadn’t ever given relationship advice to anyone except his little brother, and that had gone terribly. He was surprised he had managed to bag the amazing relationship with Beverly and Ben, and he wondered how the hell he had gotten so lucky every night they were both curled into his side in their California king.
“Have you t-tuh-told Eddie how you fuh-feel?” Bill heard himself ask. Richie stopped pacing and gaped at him.
“I thought I was the dumb one out of the two of us?” Richie spat and Bill held his hands up in defence.
“Hey, duh-don’t get angry at me!” He protested. “You’re the one wh-who is getting himself into all th-th-this shit!” Richie sighed and put his head into his hands.
“You’re right...why do I keep doing this?”
“Because you’re an idiot.” Bill said. “Okay, well have you tuh-tuh-talked to St-stan?”
Richie snorted behind his hands and then moved them so they were resting on his bony hips.
“No. I ran away the moment he pushed me off him. God, he’s gonna hate me.” Then Richie went pale. “Oh Christ, what do I tell Mike?!”
“Slow down- “
“He’s usually cool with this shit but, like, that’s because he’s there with us, ya know? This time he’s…he’s across town and completely sober and I just kissed his fucking boyfriend, oh fuck!” Richie was panicking again and Bill really wished he hadn’t done so many shots so he could focus properly.
“Rich, c-c-calm down!” Bill exclaimed, grabbing his friends’ shoulders and shaking him a little. “Okay, we need to guh-get the other two fruh-from inside, and the-the-the-shit!” Bill’s stutter, which definitely seemed to worsen the more he drank, completely set him back. He closed his eyes, keeping his breathing steady, and pictured the word in his head. When he had to go to speech therapy as a kid, where the stutter was admittedly even worse than it was now, his teacher told him to try and picture the word before saying it. Pronouncing each letter in his mind and then letting it come out through his voice. Most of the time it helped, but right now his mind was jumbled and messy and he couldn’t get the word to come out of his mouth. “Rich, let’s- “
“Chris?” Richie’s voice came as a surprise to Bill and he frowned. His eyes were looking over his right shoulder and it was clear he was no longer paying attention to him.
“What?” Richie suddenly pushed himself from Bill’s grip, moving past him and into the alleyway Bill had been standing beside. Bill threw his hands up in frustration but followed Richie anyway, grumbling to himself as he went. Richie had disappeared into the middle of the alley and Bill noticed a group of people getting into the back of a taxi, three girls and two guys. He recognised one, who was currently kissing a girl very passionately on the lips, as the guy that had bumped into him a few minutes prior to Richie appearing, and he watched in confusion as Richie paused then started yelling at the top of his lungs.
“CHRIS! HEY!” He took off into a sprint and Bill swore under his breath, running after him.
What the fuck was he doing?
“Wa-wait up!” Bill panted as the taxi in front of them slammed its doors shut and started to pull away from the sidewalk, off into the busy New York night and out of Richie’s eyeline.
“Fuck, shit!” Richie breathed as he came to a sudden stop at the end of the alleyway, staring off as the cab blended in with the rest of the traffic. Bill skidded to a stop beside him, hands on his knees and panting like a dog in the summer heat.
“Dude,” he choked out, glaring up at Richie through his lashes. “what the fuck?”
“That was Chris.” Richie hissed, clencing his fists. “That mother fucker, I knew it. I didn’t wanna believe it, you know? I didn’t think even that asshole had it in him but…jesus.”
“Seriously, what the fuh-fuh-fuck are you talking about, Rich?”
Richie looked down at Bill, a sadness in his eyes that his friend had never seen before, and Bill felt slightly sick.
“Chris is cheating on Eddie.”
“He’s doing what?!” Both boys jumped in fright at the sound of Beverly’s voice, and they spun around to see her standing there staring at them with wide eyes, shivering in the cold, with Stan at her side, looking equally confused. Richie audibly gulped, and if he hadn’t just dropped the third bombshell of the evening on him Bill might have actually laughed at it.
He groaned. “Let’s n-n-ever go drinking again, okay?”