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The Universal Law of Reddie

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There were certain laws of how the world worked. You throw something up and it will definitely fall back down. The sun sets in the west, rises up in the east. Eating twenty-nine glazed donuts in a row will probably make you puke.

 

And there was the law of Richie Tozier’s world: Eddie Kaspbrak was the love of his life.

 

This law was so seamlessly constructed in Richie’s world view at the raw age of five when the two boys had first met that there was no “revelation” moment for him. He just knew how he felt about Bill, Stan, and then how he felt about Eddie. There was a clear divide. It was as natural as breathing.

 

There was no late nights of Richie pondering why he stared so long at Eddie over lunch at school. He didn’t feel this burst of insecure energy snap through him if their fingers brushed or if Eddie sat next to him instead of someone else in their little group.

 

Richie was used to feeling like the entire world shifted whenever Eddie paid him any attention. He was used to the easy, comfortable fact that he would never meet someone more beautiful than Eddie.

 

He never even lied about it either. Whenever he got going, he’d fall to his knees and salaam at Eddie, screeching about how cute he was. It wasn’t his fault everyone thought it was a joke.

 

Richie supposed maybe that was his fault in how he wound up conveying himself most of the time. When you were as funny as he was, everything that came out of your mouth automatically sounded like a snappy comeback. It was his curse and his blessing and Richie would die in that happily.

 

It didn’t seem like anyone ever really noticed it either. Maybe the Losers understood it on the same fundamental level that Richie did. Whenever Richie showed up without Eddie, or Eddie without Richie, someone would ask where the other was. That was how things worked. There were two sides to every coin, and Richie and Eddie were never far apart.

 

That isn’t to say Richie wasn’t close with the other Losers. God, no. There would be days where he just wanted to kick it with Stan down at the Quarry. Stan would be doing his bird watching while Richie smoked and listened to some tunes.

 

Some days he’d sneak into R-rated movies with Bev and the two of them would huddle in the back, giggling over the obnoxious sex scenes. They’d walk out to the back alley afterwards for some cigarettes, laughing over the plot or just shooting the shit. Richie would take Beverly out around Derry just so she didn’t have to go home. Sometimes it meant getting hell from his parents, but it was always worth it.

 

Bill and him shared Silver more times than he could count on his hands and his feet. There were few things better than coasting down the street on the back of Big Bill’s bike. That kinda thing could make a boy feel immortal.

 

Sometimes Richie would swing by the library to surprise Ben. Ben, who still didn’t seem to realize how much they all loved him, would always blink in surprise and get this big ole smile on his face that made Richie feel like a million bucks. It was good to make a friend so happy. He wanted Ben to know how much he loved him. He’d flop down across from Ben and flick through some comic books while Ben read on whatever boring-ass thing he was reading on.

 

Even though Mike lived far out on the outskirts of Derry, Richie had no issue biking all the way out to randomly show up on his doorstep. Mike’s parents were the only parents of the Losers Club who were ever happy to see him. They were probably the only adults in Richie’s life period who were happy to see him. Mike’s momma would always talk about how long his hair was getting and touch his face a lot and for once, Richie never wanted to crack some dumb joke.

 

He wanted to make Mike’s mom proud. He wanted her to like him. Of course the jokes he did crack were fine-tuned for the Hanlon household. They were what made him drop all the shitty racist jokes he used to make when he was eleven and didn’t know better. Instead, he’d fawn over Mike’s mom’s cooking and how he’d have to steal her away from William one day when he wasn’t looking.

 

William would show Richie all kinds of cool shit. He learned how to change the oil of a car one day when Richie showed up out of the blue. Mike and Richie had watched with the keen interest of thirteen  year old boys as William handled his old truck with a certain expertise that neither boy could imagine ever having themselves.

 

Mike and Richie had a pretty funny dynamic. Mike had this way of making Richie want to be better for himself. He’d be patient with Richie, teaching him stuff around the farm or they’d hit the fields and just talk as they walked through the wheat grass.

 

Richie is pretty sure they found something unique between them that day when they had smoked themselves out in the clubhouse and saw where IT had truly come from. You didn’t walk away from that kind of thing without that.

 

It was Mike who first asked Richie about Eddie because like all of those natural things in the world, Mike was the one Loser who had no real problem getting to the root of the problem.

 

It was thirteen when Mike asked about it. Mike was shearing a sheep and Richie was doing his best with his own. He liked the work, surprisingly. The animals were cute as hell, and he liked that he could make them more comfortable by taking a pound of fluff off of them.

 

They had been talking about something. Richie would never be able to remember exactly what it was. Thirteen year olds had  that way of talking about anything and everything under the sun and then it came up.

 

“Apparently Martha Mueller likes you,” Mike said, carefully shearing the wool off of the sheep’s neck. The sheep gave a soft baa and Mike grinned.

 

“Huh? Oh, the one with braces?” Richie asked, being very careful on his own sheep. He was still new to this and always anxious about hurting one accidentally. Mike said little nicks were common. Sometimes the sheep would just want to squirm away, but their skin was thick enough that it didn’t really hurt them.

 

“Yup,” Mike said, looking over at Richie when his sheep was cleaned of its wool. He’d let go and the sheep strutted away, shaking itself off.


“Of course she does,” Richie said, sighing with exaggeration, “I am Derry’s most desirable.”

 

Mike instantly snorted, already smiling broadly. “Yeah, sure. Are you gonna ask her out?”

 

The question wasn’t weird. After all, pretty much every thirteen year old boy had that yearning to have the experience of just dating a girl.  The girl in question rarely mattered. Who didn’t want to say that yeah, he’d totally held hands with a girl at the back of the theater? Maybe they had even made out. Swapped spit.

 

However Richie still felt puzzle. He removed the blade from the sheep because this question deserved a pause in work. He stared over at Mike, genuinely mystified. “Why would I do that?”

 

“She’s apparently pretty cute,” Mike said reasonably enough.

 

“Yeah but,” Richie began, and that’s where he stopped. But what? “There’s Eddie.”

 

“...Eddie?” Mike said, the smile having dropped from his mouth. It wasn’t in a bad kind of way. It was just surprise. Richie didn’t feel defensive or nervous either. Mostly he just felt surprised.

 

“Well yeah ,” Richie said patiently, “I know I’m a pussy magnet, but keep up, my good man!”

 

“You and Eddie are dating?” Mike asked. The surprise in his voice seemed to suggest that he was more surprised that he didn’t know this than the idea of Richie and Eddie actually being together.

 

This was where Richie got stumped. Sun rose, sun set, Eddie Kaspbrak made his heart go a mile a minute.

 

He had just never applied the logic of dating to the equation. Why would he? Their relationship was fine as it was and for as long as he could remember, he thought that things were how they were supposed to be between them.

 

Everything between them had always just….been right.

 

There were so many memories that scattered through Richie’s mind in that instant. Richie and Eddie stilled shared a bed whenever they slept over. They thought nothing of it. Richie slept on Bill’s floor or in the top bunk in Stan’s room. Mike and him always made a fort on the floor out in his living room to pass out in. He slept on the pull-out at Ben’s place.

 

Hell, the few times Bev had snuck to his house after a bad night at her place, Richie would give her his bed and fall asleep on a pile of dirty laundry on the floor.

 

And Eddie and Richie shared a bed.

 

They also held hands. Like, a lot. Sometimes when they were out walking in the forest, their hands would naturally find one another and their fingers would link. They weren’t even shy about it. They’d do it with the Losers around, but they did it the most when it was just them.

 

Richie constantly threw his arm around Eddie and walked with him for a dozen feet or more like that before Eddie finally shoved him off, complaining that it was too hard to walk like that. Never that he didn’t like it in general.

 

There was a time when they had been climbing a tree together (the one time Richie had managed to convince Eddie that it would be fine) and Richie had jumped down from the lowest branch. It wasn’t too high off the ground. Six feet at most, but Eddie had still cowered on the branch, staring down at the ground uncertainly.

 

“I’m gonna break my arm, Rich!” he had shrieked. Richie wasn’t annoyed. You weren’t Eddie Kaspbrak’s friend by getting annoyed every time he had one of these moments. That was just who he was, and Richie was fine with it.

 

He knew how to handle it.

 

Richie had stepped under the branch and held his hands out. “C’mon, Eds, I’ll catch you.”

 

“No you won’t! You’ll drop me!”

“I would never!” Richie said, gasping in mock offense, a hand pressed over his chest.

 

“You barely weigh more than I do!”

 

“Yeah and half my body weight is comprised of my dick. Now drop onto me, baby, c’mon! I’ve always wanted a Kaspbrak breaking my spine from impact.”

 

Richie!

 

“Spaghetti!” Richie called back gleefully. Eddie had whipped a broken off twig at his head and Richie had gracefully caught it right in his eye. He gave a squawk of mild pain, and above him, Eddie giggled.

 

God, everything was worth it.

 

Eddie had hugged the branch and slowly dropped his body off from it, dangling himself. Richie had gone over to hug his arms around what he could of Eddie’s legs, and Eddie had let go. Richie struggled at once. Thirteen wasn’t exactly the age of getting buff, and while Eddie was light, Richie still wasn’t that strong yet.

 

He had shaken with the effort of holding Eddie up, but Eddie had his arms wrapped around Richie, and after a second, he slithered down the front of Richie and huffed as he eventually landed on his feet.

 

Eddie had clung to him after,  his chin digging into Richie’s shoulder, and Richie had just held him back. There was no real reason to. Eddie had gotten down just fine. But they had stood like that for a long time, just holding each other, just existing.

 

They had always just been like that though.

 

So the question on whether or not Eddie and him were dating just mystified him.

 

“Never really thought about it,” he admitted easily enough, “I just figured when I started making millions off my amazingly good looks and hilarious jokes, I’d put the kinda ring Eddie deserves on his finger and marry him.”

 

Because of course, it made more sense for a kid to apply that kind of awareness to romance. Disney focused on the couple marrying at the end. There was no dating first. It was friend-to-marriage so of course he figured that’s just how the world spun.

 

Which is stupid, now that he thought about it. He knew dating e xisted. It just had always seemed to him that people who didn’t know who they wanted to marry did.

 

Richie knew precisely who he wanted to marry. Mike seemed a little amused by this idea.

 

“So what, you’re just gonna be best friends then one day ask him to marry you?”

 

“Yeah, that sounds about right,” Richie said, nodding his head so hard his glasses slid to the end of his nose. He shoved them back up.


“Does Eddie have any thoughts on this?” Mike asked, still grinning. Now that was even more puzzling.

 

Richie had never really wondered how Eddie felt about everything. Maybe that made sense though. It’s not like Eddie went around holding hands with Bill or Ben. Sure sometimes he’d grab Bev’s hand and swing it like mad, the two of them laughing their heads off over something, but that had never felt….Like anything. Bev and Eddie were practically siblings. Eddie said as much, and so did Beverly.

 

And every now and then, Eddie wound up hugging onto Bill or sitting in his lap. Sometimes it made Richie a little jealous, but Richie knew rationally that the two were basically blood brothers. When Bill had caught Richie frowning after Eddie had left his lap one day, Bill had jostled Richie’s shoulder and said an easy, “Don’t worry a-about it, R-Richie.”

 

It occurred to Richie then that Bill had always known as long as Richie had always known. But why wouldn’t he? He was, after all, their leader for a reason.

 

“I dunno,” Richie said, “He’s always…”

 

Been with Richie. Richie felt his brows furrowing together, and he looked down at the blade in his hand. He wondered if maybe it was something he ought to talk to Eddie about.

 

“Just to be clear….You like him, right?”

 

“Yeah?”

 

“Like, romantic,” Mike said. Mike had never met someone who wasn’t straight before. And Richie had his moments of being a little...out there, so he wanted to make sure he was following this right before offering any real advice. After all, it could just be Richie joking off.

 

But Richie seemed oddly serious when he responded. He looked right at Mike and nodded. “Yeah, duh. I’m like. Stupid in love with him. I’m pretty sure he’s the exact reason why I started to grow pubes lately.”

“.... Beep, beep , oh my God.” Mike looked horrified and Richie cackled. The topic changed soon after, and neither boy seemed to think back on it. After all, it was a law of the universe, and once Mike realized it existed, it made perfect sense to him.

 

After that, nothing really changed. Richie still preferred sitting next to Eddie when their group got together. He still held his hand a whole lot. He still snuck into his room late at night just to listen to some music and idly touch each other just to feel like they belonged somewhere whether it was tracing some shape on Eddie’s arm or Eddie putting his head on Richie’s shoulder.

 

Richie still didn’t think too hard about dating. Everyone around him seemed to begin to open up to the idea of it. As the rest of their class settled into really being thirteen going on fourteen, kids in their grade began pairing off in week-long relationships that ended in fat tears. Jane dated Tom one week, but Tom kissed Betty behind the stadium which was cheating, so they broke up and Jane was heartbroken for approximately two days before she realized Chad liked her.

 

It was all so beyond Richie. It was really beyond all of the Losers. Beverly and Ben had been a unit since that summer they fought IT, and none of the other Losers were too interested in any of the girls at Derry. Bill was filling out and getting a bunch of looks sent his way, but a lot of those looks came from girls who had always giggled at his stutter so he never looked back.

 

Stan had danced with a girl at his bar mitzvah which was the furthest any of them had ever gone with anyone. Richie had told Stan he might as well have lost his virginity and that he should make sure to get a pregnancy test.

 

Then there was the whole kissing thing. Everyone was getting their first kisses everywhere they looked. Ben and Beverly unsurprisingly were the first in the group to have their first kisses. It made sense that it was with each other.

 

Stan and Mike were mostly disinterested. Bill was interested, but he was also not interested enough to bother looking for an excuse to have a first kiss just to have one.

 

“I want it to be n-nice,” Bill had told the Losers one day when they were watching Pretty Woman.


That’s when Eddie spoke up from next to Richie, “Me too. I want my first kiss to be really special. I don’t want it to be at some dumb party. I want it to just be us.”

 

It was so shockingly honest in the way that only Eddie Kaspbrak ever seemed capable of being, his voice vulnerable and pliant, and all of the Losers wound up staring at him until he blushed.

 

“What! It’s true!” Eddie had shrilled.

 

“You’re so cute, Eds,” Richie said, pretending to sob, “I just can’t stand it!”


“Shut up! I am not!”


“S-sorry Eddie, but h-he’s kind of right,” Bill had said. Eddie had given him a look of utter betrayal, picking up the throw pillow he’d been using as a back rest and whipped it at Bill’s head.

 

“I third this,” Bev had said from where she was smushed up against Ben’s side. Ben was nodding along grimly.

 

“Yeah, I think we all know Eddie is the cutest one here,” Mike said, and even Stan agreed. Eddie looked deeply offended.


“I hate all of you,” he informed them, standing up, “And I’m not ever gonna talk to you again.”

 

Richie had grabbed Eddie around his waist to yank him back down onto the couch. When Eddie somehow wound up in his lap, neither tried too hard to get out of that position. Eddie instead began laughing like a madman as Richie started digging his fingers into his sides to begin tickling him.

 

“Uncle, uncle!”

 

“You’re a baby,” Richie snarked, earning a swat from Eddie right across the back of his head. They settled down after that, and when Eddie didn’t leave Richie’s laugh, neither boy said anything and none of the Losers even looked twice at it.

 

That was how it went.

 

Mike had been the only one to really ever ask about it. As they got older, it just became an ingrained fact.

 

This became known to Richie when one day Bill asked him about Eddie over dinner down at the diner. Being thirteen with money meant that this was a very serious adult thing for them to do.

 

Not that it stopped Richie from blowing his straw wrapped at Bill and hitting him point blank in the forehead.

 

Nor did it stop Bill from retaliating later when he got his burger and fries by whipping a fry right at Richie. They were doing their best to pretend to be adults.

 

But it was towards the end of the meal, Bill sucking down his second milkshake, that he said it.

 

“You s-should take Eddie here sometime,” he said, “These milkshakes are awesome. He’d love it.”

 

“You think?” Richie asked, perking right on up at the idea of making Eddie happy.


“Totally,” Bill said confidently, looking at Richie. He smirked. “Maybe y-you’ll even get a kiss o-out of him.”

 

“Um, excuse you ,” Richie said, affronted, “Who says we haven’t already twisted tongue? I’m offended, Bill.”

 

“He literally s-said last week he wanted his f-first kiss to be special,” Bill pointed out, rolling his eyes. Richie rubbed at his chin, humming.

 

“I don’t think the world needs to implode just yet. Because you bet the moment we slap tongues, the universe won’t be able to handle such fiery passion. That kinda stuff can’t be made up, Bill, not when it’s the real deal. Romeo and Juliet would roll in their graves with envy,” Richie said, shoving his mouth full of fries.

 

It was all so natural that he didn’t think about it until he got home that he hadn’t bothered refuting anything and Bill hadn’t even asked if he was serious. It was no different than when Bill had asked Ben about when he planned on taking Bev out for their one year anniversary.

 

Beverly was the next person who brought it up. Richie and her had cut third period to smoke out under the bleachers. Her bare legs were thrown across his lap, and she was leaned up against the post behind her. Richie was doodling on her thigh with a permanent marker, and in his other hand, he held his cigarette.


“I’m surprised Eddie hasn’t made you quit smoking,” Beverly said out of the blue, trying to get a smoke ring to form. They had both been trying to figure out that trick for a while now. Neither had succeeded yet.

 

“Yeah,” Richie said with a sort of guilty sigh, “He really hates it. I feel kinda bad sometimes. I know he doesn’t like the smell.”

 

“Do you smoke before you guys hang out?”

 

“I try not to,” Richie admitted with a shrug, “Else he makes a face when I’m too close.”

 

Beverly gave an understanding nod. She and Ben both smoked, but she still respected Eddie enough to sympathize with that kind of thing.

 

“You’re a good boyfriend,” Beverly had said eventually. Richie’s marker paused against her skin. He was doodling a particularly cool looking dragon. He wasn’t Bill, that’s for sure, but his skills were above average at least.

 

The idea of being a good boyfriend for Eddie made his cheeks flush and his chest squeeze.

 

“You think?” he asked, looking up at her. She smiled at him, her eyes bright and sincere.

 

“Duh.”

Richie Tozier was apparently a good boyfriend. He wondered if Eddie knew. He grinned stupidly at the idea and filled in the color of the dragon with a red sharpie. Bev approved.

 

It should have been surprising that Ben was lower on the list of the order in which the Losers talked to Richie about it, but there it was.

 

It was pouring rain outside when Ben and Richie had decided to hit up the clubhouse. It kind of sucked on rainy days. Ben had built the structure to hold up weight- not necessarily to keep it perfectly dry.

 

Inside, it smelled muggy and wild, like Richie had been transported back to that faraway jungle from before-humankind.

 

They had a kerosene lamp lit between them and a handheld radio crackling some tunes when the Chordette’s Eddie My Love came on.


“Did you write this song?” Ben had asked, grinning gleefully around a snack. Richie grinned viciously back, the light from their lamp dancing in his glasses.

 

“You fucking bet I did. I practically trademarked the God damn thing. Those ladies are still paying me the big bucks for such authentic genius,” Richie said, laying back and putting his hands under his head. Both the boys simply listened then.

 

Eddie my love, I love you so

How I've waited for you you'll never know

Please Eddie, don't make me wait to long.

 

“Fuck,” Richie said softly, “I love him so much.”

 

Ben handed him a twinkie, nodding very seriously. “I wrote a poem about you guys.”


“What!?” Richie squealed, sitting up so fast he nearly smacked his head on the low hanging roof of the clubhouse. He took the twinkie regardless of his embarrassed surprise. Ben gave a shrug.

 

“I write poems all the time. I have a few about Stan, some about Mike. Bill too. I have an entire notebook for just Beverly,” Ben said with a sheepish grin. Sometimes it was like he still felt he had to cover up his feelings and Richie felt for him. He nudged Ben in the gut.

 

“Aye boy, that’s the kinda thing that makes a girl wet as Niagara Falls,” he told him wisely. Ben looked both humiliated and intrigued.

“It does not! Besides, Bev and I- we just- you know. Kiss.”

 

“Mmmmhmmm. Sure, kiss... ” Richie said with exaggeration, even going as far as to wink so hard his entire head bobbed. Ben rolled his eyes, beeping Richie with strained fondness.

“You’re such a dick,” Ben said without any heat.

 

“What’s that? I have a beautiful dick? My, Ben, I didn’t think you noticed!”

 

Ben laughed, throwing the twinkie wrapper at Richie. Richie caught it and whipped it right back. It fluttered uselessly between them.

 

“Really though,” Ben said, “You guys are super easy to write poems about.”

 

Richie felt oddly flattered. He could even feel his cheeks warming up and felt glad that the lamp cast a natural reddish hue around the clubhouse.


“Yeah?” he asked, feeling somehow nervous that maybe Ben was pulling his leg. He wasn’t. Ben merely nodded.

 

“Yup.”

 

Stan wound up being the very last one to make it clear that he figured the two of them were together.

 

Apparently there was some migration happening of birds that Stan wanted to catch. Bill and Richie rode out with him to the Quarry so that they could watch it. Or rather, so that Stan could watch it. Bill brought along his sketchbook to occupy himself and Richie brought his entire personality.

 

He had also brought the new Swiss army knife that his grandpa had gotten him for his fourteenth birthday. Went Tozier had been a little dismayed by the gift, but in the end, he let Richie keep it with the promise to make sure he was careful.

 

Whatever that meant.

 

Riche had the knife out and was pretending that it was a sword, slashing it in a wide arc through the air. He occasionally swung his leg up, kicking out in front of him and pretending that he was surrounded by enemies.

 

Stan had his binoculars, and his bird book opened in his lap, only occasionally sparing Richie an annoyed look. Of course he eventually groaned.

 

“Richie, shut up. I can’t hear the birds,” he complained, and Richie sighed dramatically, but he cooled it. He had come here so Stan didn’t have to be alone- not to ruin his bird thingie.

 

Richie stopped playing pretend and instead sat down on one of the smooth boulders that the Losers usually wound up on whenever they went to the Quarry. There was proof of them everywhere on the tree just behind the boulders.

 

It was a small, thin tree. It could easily be knocked down by a bad storm, but much like the Losers, it remained steadfast despite the odds against it. Tied around one of the low branches was an old bracelet that Beverly had intentionally put there back when they were all twelve. Then there was a small bird feeder Stan kept in hopes of having some birds to watch whenever they hung out. There was almost always something fluttering around.

 

Today it was a yellow-billed cuckoo. Richie only knew this because Stan had excitedly told them as much when they first saw it.

 

Ben had built a support structure around the tree. Not that it seemed to need it - but it was “just in case”. Mike took care of the tree, sometimes trimming down dead branches or clearing leaves away from the base. Bill had dozens of pictures of it in his sketchbook. So far, Eddie and Richie were the only ones who hadn’t made their marks.

 

As he stared at the tree, he thought today he should change that.

 

He walked over to it and stared at it for a second, his knife balanced comfortably in the palm of his hand.

 

It didn’t take him very long to decide what to do.

 

The wood was soft and easy to cut into, but Richie was careful not to let the knife slip and cut his thumb. Eddie would be super upset with him if that happened.

 

It was a basic carving. Probably hilariously too basic, but Richie didn’t care.



RT + EK

 

He didn’t even bother with a heart. He didn’t need to.

 

When Stan looked over, his eyes glanced over the carving and he rolled his eyes.

 

“You’re so cheesy,” he said, shaking his head and looking back down at his book, “I can’t believe Eddie puts up with you.”

 

“Aw Stanley,” Richie cooed, hopping over to plop down next to his friend. “One day some hot chick will want you carving her name into a tree too. Then you  can stop sucking on lemons over how alone you are.”

 

Stan gave him a withering glare, but it didn’t take long for his mouth to crack into a smile. Soon the two boys were laughing, and Bill glanced up from his drawing long enough to smile himself.

 

It was a bit of a lie to say that it was Stan who found out last.


Technically, it was Eddie who found out last.

 

Except that wasn’t really being fair. Eddie, much like Richie, turned out to know like the rest of them that there was this natural thing between the two of them. It was a matter of everything coming to a head, really.

 

The Losers had piled in at the Quarry a week after Richie had made his carving, and when Eddie had seen it on the tree, his cheeks had grown red and he had made this adorable noise that Richie would remember for the rest of his life.

 

Nothing had been said, but nothing needed to be said.

 

Instead, as they all walked home after a long day spent hanging around, Eddie and Richie split off from the rest of the group. Eddie hadn’t brought his bike today on account of his chain breaking and not having the money to get a new one. When he had told Richie as much, Richie had begun to calculate how many lawns he would have to mow to pay for a new chain. He was still mulling over this, walking next to his bike and Eddie, when Eddie suddenly stopped.

 

Richie came to a slow stop a second later, turning to look at Eddie.

 

“What’s up, Spaghetti Head?”


“First of all,” Eddie said, “Don’t call me that. Second of all, I don’t really wanna go home right now. It’s just…”

 

Eddie, like Beverly, sometimes had those moments where both of them would get that shuttered sort of look on their face. None of the other Losers could ever begin to understand what it was like not wanting to go home. Richie’s parents might not throw an annual parade over their son’s existence, but they sure as hell didn’t hurt him physically or otherwise.

 

Granted, it felt like shit every time Maggie mumbled something about wishing she had a daughter instead, but Richie knew that this kind of pain was something he would survive. It made him lonely, sure, but he had the Losers for that.

 

Eddie and Beverly had the Losers too, but at the end of their day, they still had to face monsters none of the other Losers knew how to understand no matter how much sympathy they might have for the situations. Richie hated it so much.

 

It meant that he automatically nodded, climbing onto his bike and gesturing for Eddie to get on.

 

“You got it, my love,” Richie said, “Let’s head over to Casa de Tozier for a wild night of love making. I’ve been wanting to re-dent my wall after the last time.”

Eddie pinched him in the arm hard enough to make Richie yelp, yet he climbed onto the back of the bike all the same.

 

“Yeah well it’s not my fault your bed moves so much!” Eddie said, wrapping his arms securely around Richie’s waist. Richie smirked. It was true that Eddie and Richie had dented the wall behind his bed. It was because they had been jumping on the bed to a new Queen song, but Richie had spent days after making sure every Loser knew that the dent in the wall came from Eddie finally opening up for him.

 

Bill had muttered something about how Richie and Eddie weren’t even old enough to have hair on their chests, but Richie was Richie so of course he insisted. What was the point of life if you couldn’t spend it making as many sex jokes as you could think of? There was no point- that was the answer.

 

Maggie hadn’t thought the dent was so funny. She had bitten out something about how little girls knew how to play nicer with their stuff, but Richie had been too busy mourning the fact that she had plastered over the hole in the wall. Oh, to be young and in agony.

 

When they arrived at Richie’s house after ten blissful minutes of Eddie clinging to him, Richie had come up with a plan.

 

“Call your mom and tell her you’re staying the night at Ben’s,” Richie said as they walked up to the front of his house. It was a normal lie. Bill’s parents were too absent, even after all these years, of losing Georgie that Sonia sometimes had an issue with Eddie staying over there. She had a paranoid belief that they would forget to turn off an oven or some wild shit like that.

 

Ben’s mom, however, was a lady who, like Sonia, had lost her husband. Arlene was a gentle, good woman who saw how Sonia was with her son. When she realized how good of a kid Eddie was, she had made a promise with him last year that she would lie for him when he needed her to so long as he never did it for any dangerous reason.

 

That meant that if Sonia randomly called Arlene up asking if Eddie really was staying the night there (instead of “at that Tozier boy’s house”) then Arlene would happily confirm. They didn’t use the lie too often. Even Richie didn’t like the idea of taking advantage of Arlene’s kindness, but on nights like these, he knew the safety net was better than saying Eddie was at Bill’s or Stan’s.

 

After they walked inside, Eddie and Richie got their shoes off by the front door and Eddie made his way into the kitchen to call up Sonia Kaspbrak. Maggie was in the den crocheting some scarf, and his dad was reading the newspaper.


“Guys, Eddie’s staying the night,” he told them, leaning in briefly. Maggie didn’t even look up, but Went gave a nod of acknowledgement.

 

“That’s fine,” Went said, “Just be quiet after ten.”

 

“Sure thing, pops.”

 

“Oh, and Richie,” Went said, actually putting down the newspaper, his mouth caught in an odd frown. It wasn’t quite disapproving, but it was something. Richie had never seen a look like that before, and he wasn’t sure if he should be panicking or not.

 

“....What?” he asked, scratching through his mind for the things that he had gotten in trouble for recently. He had totally egged Ms. Franchi’s car the other day, but he was positive he hadn’t been caught. Almost positive.

 

“Leave your door open a little,” Went eventually said. At first Richie didn’t really process it. Beverly had been over just yesterday and they had spent the day with his door closed and locked making mixtapes. Bill had been over a few days earlier for a project, and again, the door was closed and locked.

 

But then again, that was Beverly and Bill. It dawned on Richie what this was. His mouth trembled into a smirk and then he proceeded to feign despair.


“I can’t believe this,” he said, leaning dramatically against the doorway, “Being cockblocked by my own father.”

 

Richie, ” Went said in that familiar warning tone. Richie snapped off of the doorway and saluted his father. Last thing he wanted to do was get grounded.

 

“You got it, pops. No closed door, no problem.” Richie didn’t think Eddie and him would be getting up to anything anyway, but he knew how it was with parents. They weren’t children anymore. Fourteen was a big deal. Richie had started keeping lotion and tissues by his bed.

 

Richie spun on his heels and waltzed into the kitchen where Eddie was just hanging up the phone attached to the wall. He smiled at Richie and Richie instantly forgot the almost-confrontation with his dad.

 

“Good?” Richie asked, wanting to make sure Sonia hadn’t pulled any shit on the phone. Thankfully Eddie nodded, and he did seem fine. Richie opened up the fridge to grab them some sodas to bring upstairs.

 

When they got into his room, Richie hesitated awkwardly by the door. They had never hung out with it open before. After all, who wanted to have their parents potentially hear what kids were saying with their closest friends?

 

Eddie had already thrown himself onto Richie’s bed, making himself comfortable as he always had, cracking open his can of Coke.

 

He only realized Richie wasn’t joining him a second later. He raised a brow at Richie. “What’s wrong?”

 

“Oh uh, nothing!” Richie squeaked, loathing the fact that puberty liked to make his voice sound like it was going through a cheese grater every now and then. He closed his door almost all the way, leaving a three inch gap and joined Eddie on the bed. Thankfully Eddie didn’t even seem to notice.

 

He crossed his legs and sat himself in front of Eddie. Eddie assumed the same position and their knees relaxed against one another. They didn’t talk about anything specific. Words just flitted back and forth. Richie’s fingers pinched at the edge of Eddie’s shorts, but he mostly just wanted to do something with his hands. Eddie didn’t shove him away. Richie was always tugging at something on him whether it was his hair, clothes, or fingers.

 

It was sometime an hour later when he heard his parents coming upstairs for the night. He heard his father stopping outside of his door, and just a second later, Went pushed his door open and looked in on the two boys.

“Hello Eddie,” he said first, glancing at Eddie. His eyes briefly lingered over where Richie was still fussing with Eddie’s shorts, but he looked away soon enough.


“Hi, Mr. Tozier,” Eddie replied softly. He still felt uncomfortable around most adults. Richie had a feeling that Eddie always would. They had always been more horrifying to him than even Pennywise.

 

“Richie,” Went said, “I said door open. Not almost shut.”


“Oh, sorry,” Richie said, grimacing. Went gave his son a longer look, but eventually seemed to figure that it was a genuine apology. He gave a nod and left the door almost entirely open and went to go to his own bedrom down the hall with his wife.

 

Eddie looked completely puzzled.

“What was that about?” he asked, staring at the now opened door.


“He’s worried that if the door is shut I’ll go mad with lust and tear off your little shorts with my teeth. Which he’s not wrong, by the way. You’re gonna make me faint from how much blood is rushing to my-.”

 

“Beep, beep, Richie,” Eddie snipped, but he looked embarrassed. “Does he seriously think that?”

 

“You betcha,” Richie said, grinning, but suddenly feeling awfully nervous. They were definitely too young for that kinda thing, but they weren’t too young to start kissing more seriously. Or start kissing period. And now he was thinking about kissing Eddie. In his bed.

 

His entire brain began to screech and go haywire, and he tried hard to ignore it in favor of processing whatever the hell was going on in Eddie’s expression. Eddie practically looked mortified.

 

“We aren’t doing that stuff!” he whisper-yelled, now hyper aware of the open door.

“Yeah, but we could be,” Richie said, waggling his brows. It was warranted Eddie shoving at him hard enough that Richie toppled over. Richie laughed brightly, not nearly as good at staying quiet as Eddie, so his voice carried.

 

“I’d cut your dick off,” Eddie said gravely, “And then burn it.”

 

Eddie Spaghetti Kaspbrak! I can’t believe you would do that to your own boyfriend!”

 

The silence after was nearly booming. Richie felt a little bit like he had the first time he had jumped off the cliff at the Quarry and hit the water the wrong way. The blush on Eddie’s cheeks made his freckles pop and Richie realized with an overwhelming ferocity that he wanted to kiss him.

 

He realized that he had wanted to kiss Eddie for a while now.

 

Some small fraction of him was scared for one fleeting second that Eddie might scream or say something to negate this simple fact. What if he didn’t want that? But no, Richie was almost positive….

 

Eddie looked down, his mouth twitching, and after some time, he began to smile.

“I can’t believe you think I wouldn’t do that to my boyfriend,” he said finally, and Richie smiled so hard his face hurt. Yeah.

 

Eddie had always known too. Richie didn’t even need to ask. He never had to.

 

Things didn’t really change after that. Except Richie was a little more obnoxious. His sex jokes honed in almost exclusively on Eddie, though he could never pass up a golden mom-joke when it presented itself. And sometimes Ben just set himself up so beautifully-.

 

Richie let himself fall all over himself in front of Eddie. He’d drop to his knees and crash his head into Eddie’s lap, pretending to cry hysterically over Bill beating him in one of the racing games at the arcade. Eddie never failed to blush, but he also never failed to sigh heavily and pet a hand through Richie’s hair either so it was well worth the dramatics.

 

Life had never been better. And as Bill had recommended, he did take Eddie to the diner for a date. They pushed their feet at each other under the booth the entire time and shared three chocolate milkshakes. They could have probably each gotten their own, but hell, it was more fun to sit close in a booth and swap a straw back and forth.

 

Eddie seemed more open than ever before. Richie hadn’t expected that change either. He’d always figured he had known every single private thing about Eddie. In a way, he did. There had always been certain things Eddie would only do for and around Richie, but this was amplified significantly now that they were on the same page.

 

It was like Richie had unlocked a door he didn’t realize even existed in the first place. When he got older, he’d look back and realize how idiotic that had been. Because no one ever just stepped from friendship to romance without small things changing.

 

There was a new softness in Eddie now. Eddie had always been arguably the softest loser, even with his impeccably timed clapbacks that Richie was sincerely in love with, but that didn’t change the fact that Eddie was driven to tears rather easily. It was kind of achingly sweet sometimes.

 

One time Eddie had rubbed at wet eyes just because the night sky looked so perfect, and Richie knew that he was going to spend the rest of his entire life falling in love with Eddie on a regular basis. He wasn’t so sure there was any bottom to how deep he could fall for this kid.

 

That softness seeped into their relationship. It was in these little looks Eddie now gave him. Like when Richie landed a particularly hysterical joke that got the whole gang going, when everyone finally settled down, Eddie would look at Richie like he had lit up the entire universe.


That look made Richie feel like he had lit up the whole universe.

 

Eddie’s fingers would curl shyly around Richie’s. Richie hadn’t realized that holding hands would or could be different, but Eddie now had this certain way of doing it that made it feel more intimate than it had been before. Like someone looking at them holding hands would now know that these two boys were much more than friends. They made sure to be careful, to do that kind of hand holding where scrutinizing eyes of Derry residents wouldn't be so prone to seeing.

 

Then there was how Eddie went out of his way for Richie. After mowing lawns all day, Richie had finished up his last yard only to turn around and see Eddie waiting at the bottom of the driveway. Eddie had walked him home, and Richie felt in a daze.

 

There had been no reason other than Eddie had just wanted to walk Richie home after “work”.

 

Richie felt like a real man now. He got it in his head that once they graduated high school, no matter where their plans took them, he wanted to be able to take care of Eddie. He began saving more than half of his money into a jar in his closet. Richie even cut down on how many coins he bought at the arcade.

 

It was the first time in his life that he had started to think more seriously about his future. The idea of growing up had always been strange and intimidating, but the idea of growing up with Eddie was just exciting.

 

One day, Wentworth had even commented that Eddie seemed to be good for Richie. Richie was still himself, but he seemed more aware of things than he had before.

 

“It doesn’t bother you?” Richie had finally gotten the gull to ask one day. Wentworth had sighed slowly, setting down his newspaper to really look at his son.

 

“You spent two years of your life as a toddler trying to eat every pair of shoes your mother and I owned,” Wentworth explained. “At age five, you went through a phase where you colored your eyebrows with permanent markers on a weekly basis. At seven, you once glued googly eyes all over every inch of your body you could reach.”

 

Richie had no idea where he was going with this, but he nodded along anyway, impressed by his incredibly on point track record of being the world’s funniest person even at the raw age of two. Nice.

 

But Wentworth wasn’t done.

 

“You being with a boy is arguably one of the most normal things you have ever done in your entire life,” Wentworth finally concluded, sniffing. “And Eddie of all boys? He’s a good kid. He’s a good kid specifically for you. He always has been.”

 

Richie  couldn’t believe it. His dad actually sounded fond. Richie leaned over the arm of his father’s armchair, resting his chin on his dad’s shoulder. It was a rare moment of affection between the two of them. His parents weren’t abusive, weren’t cruel, but they certainly didn’t pay Richie more attention than they had to.

 

So Richie reveled in these moments with his parents. He had more of them with his father, but that was just okay. It felt a little bit like they had their own secret dynamic sometimes, and that enthralled Richie endlessly.

 

“I love you, daddy,” Richie finally said, and he couldn’t remember the last time he had told his dad that he loved him or the last time he called him ‘daddy’. He sounded a little vulnerable saying it.

 

Wentworth looked at him in surprise, and to Richie’s own surprise, his dad folded up his paper and set it aside entirely. He turned himself around and easily picked Richie up to sit him on the arm of the chair.

 

“I love you too, Richie. I’m proud of you,” Wentworth said seriously. Maybe he wasn’t the world’s best dad. Maybe he didn’t know how to give his son the attention he so clearly needed. But he did know when there was a critical moment in his boy’s life and this was one of them. He couldn’t fuck it up. He didn’t want to fuck it up.

 

“I’ve never been more proud of you. It takes a lot of bravery admitting these kinds of thing. Your friends all support you, right? No one's giving you a hard time at school?”

 

“Yes- and no. Well no more than usual,” Richie said, his hands on his knees. For once, he wasn’t fidgeting. This was a serious conversation, which normally he fled from, but this was one of a few serious talks that he has always wanted to have.

 

“Does mom know?” Richie asked, his voice catching. His mom was one of the hardest nuts to crack out there. Wentworth surprised him by snorting.

 

“Go look in the kitchen, Buddy Holly,” Wentworth said, picking his paper back up. But first he grabbed Richie around his waist and pulled him down for a real hug, a tight hug. Richie’s arms wound up around his father’s neck and God. He could live in this forever.

 

He felt so loved.

 

But the hug didn’t last. He wiggled back over the armchair and dropped to his feet. He sent his father a small smile, one Wentworth returned, and went careening into the kitchen only to come to a dead stop.

 

Richie had been out all day with Bill and Stan at the movies. Eddie had a thing at church that he had to go to in the morning, but he had told them he would catch up to them later.

 

Eddie had caught up. Richie found himself growing very quiet and very still, stepping halfway out of the kitchen so as to not make his presence known.

 

Standing next to Maggie Tozier at the kitchen counter was Eddie Kaspbrak. Eddie was wearing a canary yellow sweater that Richie dimly realized had been the crochet project his mom had been slaving over for weeks. It hung on Eddie perfectly, if not a little loose. He wore a pair of unfair brown short shorts underneath, complete with yellow lining to bring the outfit together.

 

Eddie rounded the entire thing out with a pair of knee-high socks and a white apron that Maggie had graciously offered him. The two of them were talking quietly. Every now and then, she would reach over to correct something Eddie did. They must be making cookies. Richie could have looked down to figure out as much, but he shouldn't look away from Eddie.

 

Eddie didn’t seem remotely nervous. He actually even laughed quietly a few times. And Maggie? Maggie Tozier was glowing in a way Richie had never seen her before. Just as he began to back out of this soft, quiet place he didn’t feel he belonged, Eddie picked up on the motion and turned to look over his shoulder.

 

“Richie!” Eddie exclaimed excitedly, “I didn’t know you would be home yet.” Eddie wiped his flour-covered hands over the ruffled apron and walked quickly over to his boyfriend. Richie was already blushing at how bad he wanted this to be his future. He could see it now. Him coming home from a long day spent at a radio station or maybe a stand-up show, and seeing Eddie right there ready to greet him when he got home.

“Um yeah. I just walked in,” Richie said.

“How was the movie?” Eddie asked, stopping just in front of Richie. When he glanced over at Maggie, she was watching the two boys with a broad smile.

 

“Good. I didn’t know you were gonna be baking with my mom,” Richie said. Eddie gave a shy smile, leaning over to kiss Richie just on the cheek. It wasn't a thing Eddie had done too often, but lately, he had been picking up on the habit more and more. It never failed to make Richie's brain short circuit.

 

The fact that he had just done it in front of Richie’s parents? That had to mean something. Had Eddie come over to talk to them for Richie? Richie’s confusion must have been obvious, because it was Maggie who laughed.

 

“Oh, calm down. I wanted to invite Eddie over to get to know him better. After all, he’s going to become family. I need to teach him how to make all those Christmas cookies you love,” she explained, and Eddie nodded along as if this made perfect sense.

 

What episode of Twilight Zone had he stepped into? They weren’t supposed to lead such easy, loving lives. Queer people had it awful in Derry. This just seemed impossible. No way, Jose. But there it was. Eddie with some flour on his cheek, his mom looking more invested than she had ever before, and his dad proud in the living room.

 

Eddie had given him all of that.

 

And God, he had wanted to kiss him in that exact moment. But he wasn’t about to kiss him in front of his parents regardless of how supportive they were being.

 

“Eds,” Richie said, “I gotta show you something I found the other day.” It was a common enough tactic that even the Loser it was being used against didn’t know if they were actually being shown something cool, or if a statement had to be made to distract from an adult.

 

“It won’t take long, will it?” Eddie asked, looking over at the cookies he and Maggie had been working on.

 

“Promise.”

 

Maggie seemed to have a hunch because she shook her head, waving a hand through the air.

 

“Oh, please. I need to pop these in the fridge for the frosting to set anyway. Go on.”

 

It was as good of a dismissal as either boy was going to get. Richie all but sprinted upstairs, Eddie following him much more slowly.

 

Eddie sat down on the bed, his hands neatly folded in his lap, and he watched Richie pace back and forth several times over, a frown growing the more he watched.

 

“Rich, are you okay?”

 

“I really, really want to kiss you,” Richie burst out. There had been plans in the making He had wanted to make his move for a real kiss on a hayride or maybe somewhere in the middle of a corn maze. This wasn’t exactly how he had envisioned it. But seeing Eddie sitting there on his bed with that cute apron and his stupid cute socks...When push came to shove, he had only ever imagined that it would be him and Eddie and the moment would be what it needed to be.

 

Richie wound up on his knees in front of Eddie, sliding their fingers together.

 

“I’m in love with you,” Richie said weakly, “Like a stupid amount. I used to think that it was just this one, simple fact. But I’m starting to realize that every time I feel struck dumb by you, it’s my entire world rearranging itself so that I can relearn to love you all over again. I didn’t know people could feel this way- I know we’re only fourteen, but God, Eddie...I…”

 

Eddie’s face had gone slack, his mouth hanging open. It was as good of a time as any. Richie moved away from Eddie and dug into his closet where he kept all the important stuff. He grabbed at the black box at the very bottom that he had spent ages saving up for. He sat down in front of Eddie and opened the box up to reveal what was inside.

 

Back when they were a little younger, Eddie had always worn some cruddy cereal box ring on his pinky. It had always been his favorite, but at some point, he had lost it. Maybe it had happened in the sewers. One day Richie had noticed it was missing, and when he pointed it out, Eddie seemed like he was trying to act less upset about it than he actually was. But Richie knew how much that bothered him.

 

So he had gotten him a new one.

 

It wasn’t the same ring, of course. But the ring inside was something else. It was a real ring. Maybe nothing flashy since the gold (brass, technically) used was weak enough to bend it this way and that without really need to try that hard, but it wove flashily together and nestled in the middle was a bloodred gem. It was definitely fake, but it still looked pretty.

 

Eddie stared at the ring for a solid minute, his jaw hanging open. “Are you…”

 

“God, no!” Richie said, and then before Eddie could get the wrong idea, he was moving up to sit next to Eddie on the bed. He slipped his hand up under Eddie’s. “I want to marry you after we finish high school, okay? But for right now, I want you to have something that you can wear with some pride and know that it comes from me. Know that I’m waiting for that day where I get to put something nicer on your ring finger instead of just on your pinky. Okay?”

 

Eddie hadn’t said anything yet. Instead, he was carefully removing the ring from the box, staring at it, and that’s when the emotion began to crackle through him. Maybe someone who knew Eddie less would have thought it was a bad sign. His gray eyes grew dark and wet, but the way his breath trembled between his lips was only ever a good sign.

 

“Hey no. Don’t cry. I know it’s the most stunning thing you've ever seen- my dick aside-, but c’mon.”

 

“It really is beautiful, Richie. You’re beautiful and sometimes I feel like I can't breathe I love you so much - and please, for the love of God, don't make a 'I make you breathless' joke right now,” Eddie slipped the ring onto his pinky finger and instantly beamed at how neatly it sat there. It was much better than the cardboard ring from before.

 

Richie thought it looked amazing on his finger. It somehow made his fingers seem more elegant. It was the first time that he had ever thought to apply such a mature word to his friend. Elegant.

 

But that’s exactly what he was, wasn’t he? Eddie was elegant in all the ways that Richie wasn’t. Even as he cleared tears away from his eyes, Eddie was stunning.

 

Richie moved closer, kissing the curve of Eddie’s shoulder. It was just natural how it happened, like how the rest of them had happened. One moment his mouth was sprinkling over the freckles on Eddie’s shoulder, then the next he was kissing his cheek.

 

Even now, he wouldn’t be able to tell anyone who kissed who. But one moment passed and there were warm lips against his own. Richie could faintly taste the cookie dough that Eddie had been sneaking in between balling up cookies. He could smell the flour in his hair, and he had never thought a first kiss could be more perfect.

 

When it broke a second later, Richie bit his lip, worrying for all of a second. “Was that good? I know you wanted it to be special.”

 

Eddie grinned, turning around to kiss Richie again. That was something else he now got to get used to. This casual kissing. Richie felt like he could fucking burst.



“Everything between us is special. Our first kiss is gonna be as special as our hundredth. I always knew that, Rich.”

 

The only appropriate response to that was, naturally, to tackle Eddie over to attack him with kisses from the top of his head all the way down to his mouth while generously tickling him at any angle he could. "A hundred kisses! Spaghetti! My man!"

"You're so obnoxious, oh my God-! I take it back, none o these are-mmmf- special!" Eddie shrieked, laughing in delight.

 

They forgot all about returning to Maggie until an hour later, Wentworth called up the stairs that dinner was done. And so were the cookies, apparently.

 

The boys pulled apart, both flushed with that feeling of love that had given itself presence, and feeling like they had already both just figured out everything that have ever needed to figure out.

 

The sun rose in the east and it set in the west. Water was wet, fire was hot. Eddie Kaspbrak and Richie Tozier were in love, and every time they caught each other's eye or made each other grin, they would learn to love each other a little more.