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Men of Fall

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They did it.

They fucking did it.

It seems like a nightmare now, like nothing that could have Eddie’s heart seized up in terror for what felt like years could exist in the same place as this, the quarry emerald green and the six of them laughing in disbelief. 

Of course, that’s what had them all fooled, way back then.

Somehow Eddie knows it’s different this time.

He floats on a seabed of low level pain, belied by the death grip Richie has on his arm. He hasn’t let go of Eddie since Neibolt. Not since their fingers entwined while crushing the monster’s heart, not even when they took the running jump into the water together. Mentioning it seems like a bad idea, since it’s pretty much the only thing keeping him grounded right now. Plus, drawing attention to Richie’s vulnerabilities only ever ends in him hiding them away. 

The thought that he might be one of Richie’s weaknesses flips over something in his belly, something long dormant.

He’s started remembering things now. More things, more good things than bad, but isn’t that just how memory works? There, twisted up alongside the leper and his broken arm is the way his heart would pick up when he caught Richie looking at him. Bug eyes shining with some unnamable hope. 

Or he’s thirteen years old in a hammock not really built for two, but none of them ever fit in anywhere in this town, so why would this be an exception. Long bare legs, tangled up. Eddie’s skin feeling tight and hot when Richie would slowly rest a hand just below his knee, tentative and shaking softly.

At a funfair that rolled through town, and Eddie remembers how much he wanted Richie to sit with him on the ghost train, the bumper cars, the Ferris wheel, too close and never close enough. Hands knocking together stickysweet with dissolving cotton candy. Eddie remembers feeling like his chest would explode, like an asthma attack but good somehow. 

He thinks, how could I have forgotten this, as Richie grips his shirt by the sodden collar, a bright burning star of heat in the cold quarry water. He won’t let go, and Eddie finds he doesn’t want him to.

He was braver back then, had proven it to himself and all the Losers. I’m gonna kill you, gonna kill this fucking clown he’d screamed, and it was all worth it because Richie had pulled him into a bone breaking hug in the daylight despite the stinking gunk all over Eddie’s clothes.

“You were so cool, man, you did it Eds, you showed that motherfucker,” Richie had babbled, as if Eddie did it all himself with a broken arm, and Eddie liked him so fucking much that he would die if Richie ever found out. He’d rather face the clown again.

He’s alive because of me. I’m alive because of him.

He remembers the brunt of Richie tackling him over. It happened a split second before the spider’s claw ripped into stone where Eddie had been straddling him, and it yanked all the air out of his lungs. Slimy ground digging into his back and the way Richie stared at him in a mirror of how Eddie stared back, it was an earthquake shaking loose all the fragile things he’d stored away for safekeeping, and forgotten into dust.

“Hey, Eddie. Eddie man, c’mon,” Richie says, so softly Eddie wants to hide under the water, and they all swim wearily to the edge. Richie all but towing him along.

Back at the Townhouse, Richie has to let him go long enough so they can disperse and change their clothes. Eddie would happily burn them, if not for the imprint of Richie’s fingers clawed into the weave. 

He sits on the ugly couch in the lounge and watches as Bev pours them all stiff measures. It’s weird that there’s still nobody else around, but Eddie sure as hell appreciates it. Derry was always more tolerable when it was just them. Richie comes in and sits in the high-backed armchair perpendicular to him, their knees almost touching, and Eddie stares at the tiny space between them with his heart pounding.

I have to call Myra, the thought sudden and leaden like a Florida downpour. I can’t go back to her.

Richie keeps shooting glances at him every time he cracks a shitty joke. Just like in middle school when Eddie was the default target and he was giddy with the attention, even as he screamed back insults. 

Do you remember? He watches his own hand slide closer along the armrest. Do memories transfer by touch, in this fucked-up magic town? Remember, Richie, please, and tell me I wasn’t imagining things.

Mike stands up, waiting until they fall silent. “I just want to say… I just want to say, thank you all. For listening. For coming back.” His voice is raw and tired and so, so happy. “Losers stick together, huh?”

“Amen,” says Ben, and Eddie tears his gaze away from Richie’s big hands cradling crystal to say, “Wait!”

They all stop, glasses halfway. He swallows. They can’t forget. They can’t forget what they’ve lost to be here, because Eddie knows deep down that it could just as easily have been him with a razor.

“We should, uh. We gotta drink to Stan, guys.”

There’s a fraught silence before his words are echoed back, choked and whispered. He downs his own drink in one go, and when he wipes his mouth he catches Richie’s eye again like they’re magnets. 

The proud smile spreads over Richie’s face so huge and so quick, Eddie can’t help but grin right back. It hurts his bandaged cheek, but he doesn’t care. He tells himself the burning in his gut is because of the whisky. 

 

It’s past midnight when the quiet, arrhythmic knocking comes at his door. He’d been one of the first to throw in the towel and head upstairs, slurring excuses that he had a phone call to make, which was true. 

Who knows where they’d all be tomorrow. All he knew was that at some point Richie had stumbled from his own chair to sag heavily next to Eddie on the two-seater, slung an arm around his shoulders until his hand rested on Eddie’s chest. Eddie could have leaned back into the crook of his elbow, if he really were brave. If he didn’t need to be in grave peril to be brave.

“You and me, Eds, we’re a dream team,” Richie had whined into Eddie’s shoulder, his curls brushing Eddie’s neck and making him shiver, which he wishes he were more ashamed of.

“Oh sure, dumbass, a real team. You would’ve been toast if I hadn’t thrown that thing right down its fucking throat,” he says, the naked lack of bite in his own voice making him even more nervous. 

Beverly snorts into her drink, pink in her cheeks and glowing like she always did when she was with them. When she was happy. “It’s true! Richie, he even said beep beep, motherfucker.”

They all roar with drunk laughter still shot through with relieved disbelief, except for Eddie, who bristles.

Until Richie leans in further, humid breath on Eddie’s face. “You saved my ass, Spaghetti Man.”

“Yeah, well.” His own hands are fascinating where they’re gripped tight around the glass in his lap. Bill is looking at the pair of them slumped together, far too shrewdly, but he supposes this is the downfall of having people truly know you. He mumbles, “You saved my ass too.”

Richie’s high cackle in his ear is like—it’s like the sun breaking out. “And boy, is it an ass worth saving!”

 

It was too much. 

Getting confirmation of something he’d known all along, something his marriage and his asthma and the twenty-seven years and the memory of his fucking mother weren’t enough to cover up. Not anymore. It was too much, the eyes he felt burning the back of his head as he climbed the stairs.

Even if it isn’t reciprocated, the way he feels around Richie is enough to have him wearily dialling back one of the 30 odd missed calls to his phone. 

Myra had cried, then screamed. 

Said she hoped he was enjoying whatever whore he’d found, that he was so ungrateful and that she would talk to her lawyer, like that wasn’t exactly what Eddie wanted. It should be a relief, but all it does is shine a floodlight on what he’s missing from his life, and what he desperately wants to fill it.

Tomorrow, we’ll all go home and hopefully keep in touch and I’ll pretend like this isn’t killing me for the next three decades. 

The knocking comes again just as he’s swinging the door open, and there’s Richie with his fist in the air. 

“Hey,” Richie says, lowering his hand to stuff into his pocket. He keeps doing that. He never used to. Always waved his arms around so much I couldn’t help but get caught in them. Another random memory, sneaking up and knocking Eddie for a loop.

“Hey,” Eddie says, when he realizes he’s been staring like an idiot for a beat too long. “Uh, what’s up?”

Richie rakes his lower lip through his teeth and casts a look back over his shoulder, down the hall. “I know it’s late, but, uh. Can I—can I come in?”

Eddie pulls the door wider and Richie ducks past into the soft lamp glow of the room. It’s decorated all smalltown chintz, and Richie looks so out of place with his jeans and unironic hipster glasses that Eddie snorts, covering his mouth.

“What?” Richie whirls around, startled and tipsy.

He’s still all tree-limb lanky, though his shoulders have filled out. Eyes still huge behind the glasses and that stupid, cute fucking overbite that has obviously never felt the touch of braces despite his big-shot comedian wealth. Eddie crosses the room to lean against the sideboard, five feet from Richie and feeling every inch. 

Richie in his room. The memories come slamming back. Richie tumbling through his window onto the carpet more nights than not, flushed and already running his mouth, and Eddie sitting on his bed in his pajamas feeling exposed and ten storeys tall. His mom would flip if she knew, but in those moments Eddie didn’t care because Richie was in his room, because he wanted to see Eddie.

He stifles his laughter and tries schooling his face into something reassuringly platonic. “Nothing. I’m happy, dickwad, aren’t you?"

Richie’s mouth ticks up at the corner. “Yeah, I guess. We really showed that sucker, didn’t we?”

It’s like two corrupted slides, overlapped wrongly through a projector. He can see Richie standing in front of him in 1989, in the present, standing in the same place with that weird hopeful excitement in his voice. You were so cool, man. Eddie wonders for a moment if Richie’s going to hug him again, and just as quickly pushes the thought down. Not helping. 

Just because he’s coming to his own conclusions… it doesn’t really mean anything. Not between them. He swallows, plasters on a smile that he hopes isn’t as tense and pathetic as he really feels. If only Richie remembered too.

That thought is somehow worse, because Richie probably remembers all of those close-held moments completely differently.

“We really fucking did, and I’ve never been so scared in my entire life,” Eddie says. “I can’t believe you called it a sloppy bitch."

Richie barks out laughter like a seal, pushing his hand through his hair. “Yeah well, I figured if we were gonna go down, might as well have the last laugh.”

Figures. “Y’know,” says Eddie, at the same time as Richie says, “So, do you—”

He stutters to a stop, and Richie’s face twitches into a half-second smile, but drops it to chew at his lip again. It looks painful. He wonders if that’s another new habit, because Richie’s mouth always looked so soft to him when they were kids, even when he hated himself for looking. 

“Go on,” Eddie says, trepidation gnawing at his insides.

“Uh, right.” Richie looks around the room, a hint of something wild in his eyes. He settles back on Eddie’s face with a grin. “So, come here often?” 

Eddie can’t help it, he cracks up. It must be the exhaustion and the alcohol, because Richie hasn’t had an original joke since Eddie’s known him. “You fucking dumbass,” he wheezes. “You really come all the way up here to try a line on me?”

He regrets it as soon it falls out of his dumb mouth. Too close, he panics internally, too close to what you wish was true. 

It would never happen. Richie’s a big famous comedian, and has dated actresses, which Eddie knows because one of the first things he had done that night after Mike called him was google Richie Tozier. And Eddie’s a short, scrawny little coward who doesn’t know what he wants. And when he does know, it’s inevitably something he can’t have.

The shit-eating look on Richie’s face tells him all he needs to know, and he swallows down the bloated disappointment threatening to show itself. Gangly shadows shift around the room as Richie moves to sit in the provided armchair. “Not tonight bud, but if you give me your mom’s number I’ll try it on her later.”

An awkward silence looms, before Richie freezes, catches up. “Oh shit,” he says, pulling his hands from where they’re buried in his pockets to hold them up placatingly. “Mike told me she, uh. I’m sorry, man. Fuck, I’m bad at this.” The armchair creaks as Richie sinks into it, rubbing at his eyes beneath his glasses.

The busy patterned carpet has Eddie rooted to the spot. His mother is dead, yes, but it’s taking years to kill off what’s left of her inside him. It really took coming back to Derry, coming back to his friends to realize he actually wanted to. That he wanted to be free. 

Bad at what? 

Something builds like a tornado inside of him. Be brave, Eds. You’re braver than you think.

The wedding band is hard to slide off with how much his hands are sweating, but he does it. The clink and the glint of it settling on the dresser behind him is deafening, blinding in that quiet, midnight room of the Derry Townhouse.

There. That’s it. He doesn’t know why Richie even came here, but Eddie knows he wants to start being honest with himself, at least.

Richie stares wide eyed at the ring like it’s a tarantula, sitting there poised and threatening. 

“What’s going on, man?” He tracks Eddie all the way over to the bed, which sags under him.

“I, uh. I came up here earlier and I called my wife. I mean, it feels weird to call her my wife now since we’re—we’re ending things.”

Richie’s eyebrows fly up towards his receding hairline. Always so fucking expressive, like a cartoon. Bright and untouchable.

“How come?” The question comes out so gentle and hopeful that suddenly Eddie can’t stand it. Twenty seven goddamn years, he thinks, and the pressure builds like a boil inside his chest. Richie’s hair shines black and gold in the corner of the room, and Eddie wants to be brave.

He steels himself. Terror grips him but he fights it because it’s Richie, it’s his best friend, it’s his—

“Well, actually it’s because… it’s because I realized—if you fucking laugh at me Richie, I swear to God.” His hands twist over and over, pearls for knuckles with how hard he’s squeezing. “The thing is, I’m pretty sure I-I’m—gay.” 

His voice cracks on the word, it’s heat-cracked concrete under a summer sun that’s beat down on him far too long.

The boil bursts. He feels foul and sore from it, but that’s the only way to heal up.

“You—”

Richie looks gobsmacked. He stands up suddenly, paces to the door and Eddie feels his stomach drop entirely, mistake a huge fucking mistake—

But Richie only spins around and paces right back. He’s breathing short and fast, and Eddie shrinks back from the way his friend seems on the edge of an outburst. “You’re only realizing this now? Dude, you’re like forty years old!”

Relief and outrage shoot through him so quick it’s like being electrified. It’s being a kid again, when screaming at Richie was so much fun he had to pretend like it was a chore to save face. 

“What the hell, so the fuck are you! You’re six months older than me, dipshit!”

“Yeah, but I knew I liked guys when I was, like, twelve," Richie shouts back. For some reason he’s shaking, and Eddie realises with a jolt that it’s suppressed laughter.

Then—

What?

“Catch up, man,” Richie says, quieter now. “Don’t you… it’s not the eighties any more, jeeze.”

He feels like he’s taken a giant mouthful of pop rocks, a crackling in his head so loud he’s sure there must be steam pouring from his ears. 

“Since you were—”

“Twelve, yeah. Don’t get me wrong, I like girls too, but. Well.” Richie’s looking at him again, his stupid buck teeth peeking out from his smile, always too big for his mouth, like his jokes and his Voices and Christ, Eddie still wants him so much.

And Richie’s—he might—

Eddie tries to speak, the heat in his face frying his words hoarse. All the time they were kids and he’d felt so dirty, so wrong and terrified of being like the skeletal, dying men his mother sneered at on TV. That whole time, he’d never been alone. 

“Why’d you come up here, Rich?”

Richie shrugs. “Didn’t want the fun to end, I guess. It’s only just beginning, or some shit.”

“I fucking knew you don’t write your own material.”

“Oh yeah? How’d you know that?”

Guilt prickles all over Eddie’s body and he crosses his arms, defensively. “I looked up your act, okay? When I started remembering you guys, all of you. I knew those shitty jokes weren’t shitty enough to be yours.

Richie winks at him. “I save all my shittiest jokes for you, Eds.”

The digital clock on the side table is blinking out 00:48 in dim hospital green, and Eddie focuses on it just to stop feeling dizzy. He can’t get a handle on what Richie’s saying, he never could. That’s what kept him coming back again and again as a kid, he remembers, even when the sight of Richie laughing made him sick with how he wanted to crawl inside it.

“I came to ask you how much you remember. From back then. When we were kids,” Richie adds unnecessarily. There was no other back then, they haven’t seen each other for over twenty years, Eddie thinks, a sour taste in his mouth.

“I remember you being just as much of an annoying asshole.”

“No, look. C’mon,” Richie says, and there’s a note of something so beseeching to it that Eddie’s gut clenches in a vice.

“When Ben took us back to the clubhouse, it didn’t, I dunno. Jog anything loose up there in that crazy-ass brain?”

“Fuck you,” he says, absent because his mind is reeling back to—

“Or the Aladdin? C’mon man, throw me a bone here.” Richie’s eyes are boring into him now, like he can root out Eddie’s secrets, his biggest secret if he just stares hard enough. His eyes are luminous dark with how hopefully he’s smiling and Eddie, he can’t—

A wave of images comes over him then. Richie looking hurriedly away when Eddie noticed him staring when he was supposed to be watching a bad movie, Richie cupping his cheeks and laughing when Eddie got mad, which only made him madder in a hot and shaky way. Richie saving him an ice cream every time, and Eddie saving one for him when he actually had pocket money, never a question because they were RichieandEddie. Richie smiling at him in the hammock, haloed in his black tuft curls that one time when they were the only ones in the clubhouse, saying it’s fine, dude, you’re super warm, and Eddie feeling like he was gonna set fire to the canvas the way his body flooded blood hot, and liking Richie for years and never even imagining that Richie could ever like him back.

A kiss in the dark. Buttery popcorn tongues sloppy from inexperience and shuddering, thrilled fear.

“Oh shit.”

He’s been so fucking stupid. Richie’s supposed to be the blind one.

“There he is. Anything coming to mind?” Richie sounds so goddamn pleased with himself, sitting there with his legs kicked out and crossed at the ankles that suddenly Eddie doesn’t want to give him the satisfaction. He’s had just about enough of always being the last to know.

“I dunno Rich, how about what you remember? ‘Cause I wasn’t the one who constantly climbed in your bedroom window.” 

“Well, I remember someone letting me and only me use his inhaler when I was freaking out.” 

Eddie grimaces. “Gross. I’d forgotten that.”

“So did I! Plus you were a handsy little guy, always pawing at me.”

Eddie points an accusatory finger at him. “Hey. We both did that.”

“Yeah,” Richie smiles, lopsided and gorgeous and so frustrating. “Big fuckin’ nerds. I guess we never talked about it much ‘cause we were clueless losers, but yeah. Kissing you was pretty much the first thing I remembered, which tells you how my adult love life is going. I was too busy being shit-scared to hope for anything, and when you turned up married I wanted to kill myself before the clown could even try. I figured you’d, y’know. Moved on.”

The discarded golden ring sits there, accusingly. Eddie goes hot all over at the implications.

Richie glances back at it too, and his eyebrows draw together, sheepish. “Maybe I am an asshole, since I thought you were still worth a shot.”

“Until now I didn’t even remember there was anything to move on from!” Eddie fumes. Arguing feels safer, more familiar than whatever this is, this heavy loaded thing hanging between them like fruit ripe enough to drop. “You know what my mom was like, what this place is like, I could never have just—”

He stops short. “Wait. Since you were twelve?” His own crush felt big and permanent enough that Eddie can’t exactly say when it started. His feelings might as well be neolithic monuments to his own repression.

Colour scrawls its way up Richie’s normally pale face, and Eddie thinks wildly that he wants to taste it. That maybe he has, maybe he just can’t remember it yet.

“Y-yeah, well—maybe earlier? I was a horny kid and you were always wearing those shorts.” Richie waves a hand that seems to encompass Eddie’s entire body. His stomach keeps flip-flopping, turning over like an engine block ready to go and he’s suddenly very aware of his bargain jeans and crumpled hoodie. His shorts? He wore those shorts because they were comfortable, and the hems didn’t trail in water or long grass and get raggedy like Richie’s always did.

“Is that why you were always—in the hammock—”

Richie groans dramatically. “Don’t remind me. Or do, actually. Those legs. I thought I was gonna go crazy every time you climbed on in like you owned the thing.”

“You were the one hogging it,” Eddie snaps with an ire he doesn’t really feel. The room spins. All that time, all that time, all that time.

“Fuck,” he blurts out, remembering. He tries covering his mouth but his hand has other, mortifying ideas. “I would climb in deliberately.” This must be how panhandlers feel, dredging through enough murky silt to find gold after gold after gold.

Richie’s looking up at him, rapt, from his place in the chair. Eddie realises he must have stood up at some point, and he doesn’t know what to do with his hands. Richie’s sitting on his and rocking slightly, like he’s barely containing himself.

Then he stands up. Moves closer. The others are all renting rooms here save for Mike, and Eddie wonders if they can feel the flames coming off him licking at their walls.

“I know that now, dum-dum. I used to...” Richie coughs. Eddie watches, spellbound, as a shaking finger raises to poke him in the chest. “I used to go home and jerk off after every time.”

Arousal breaks over him like a high surf, and Eddie forgets how to breathe. Chokes out, "Fuck, Rich."

“You were so fucking cute, I wanted to make you mad at me all the time. Just so you’d pay attention.”

“Don’t call me cute,” Eddie says, hears his voice slur out like molasses. The alcohol has worked itself out of his system, probably due to the dull shock he’s still feeling.

His whole field of vision is taken up with Richie, who’s looking at him like he’s the only thing left in the world. His tongue darts out to wet his bottom lip and Eddie’s staring again, the shine of it hypnotic. 

“Okay.” He doesn’t recognise the husk in Richie’s voice, but the longing in his eyes is terrifyingly, incredibly familiar. “You were cute. Now you’re fuckin’ hot.”

Wanting someone, actually craving contact hasn’t really been a part of Eddie’s adult life. With Myra he could tell himself he loved her because she worried about him, the kind of love that precludes taking any risks or allowing himself passion. Reaching up between them slowly, Eddie slides his palm up Richie’s real, solid, present chest to grip the collar of his eye-watering shirt. His pulse beats against his hand like a jackhammer, Richie taking in a shuddering breath as he returns the grip in kind, like back in the quarry, like when they were kids and never should have let go.

Eddie thinks, fuck the risk, and surges up to clumsily press his mouth to Richie’s, close and desperate.

It’s like nothing he’s ever felt before. Not since that half-remembered fumble in the back row of the cinema. Richie’s got him tight by the elbows, the shoulders, and Eddie’s whole body flames to life at the rasp of stubble under his fingers. This is what it could have been for twenty-seven long years, this is what he can have for the next how many ever he wants, he’s sure of it, and the thought I do want that comes hurtling to the forefront of his mind, singed at the edges with hysteria. 

Richie breathes out, “Christ,” wet against his mouth and they’re stumbling over the edge of the tasseled rug to fall bodily on the bed.

“Shit, you okay?” Richie pushes himself up on his hands, looming dazedly over Eddie with his glasses knocked askew, and Eddie has never been more turned on in his life.

“I’m fine, c’mon, c’mon, we killed a fucking demon clown earlier, I think I can handle you.” His hands shake so bad it takes a couple of tries to tug down the zipper of his hoodie, because fuck, this is happening, and he hopes Richie won’t take one look at him and climb off.

“You’re sure?” 

His breath is coming so fast at the way Richie’s looking at him, flushed and rumpled and like he’d combust if Eddie says anything other than—

“Yes, please Richie, this is me saying yes. Put your money where your goddamn Trashmouth is.” 

Richie laughs and it’s a delighted, weightless sound, and they could be back at the Barrens the way he’s ripping his shirts off like it’s a race to the water. “Yessir. God, should’ve known you’d be a mouthy little—”

“I’m the mouthy one?!”

He’s so aroused he’s starting to get worried, wonders if it’s normal that a fiery ache is spreading from the balls of his feet all the way up around his thighs and into his hips, sprawled wide around where Richie’s kneeling. Or maybe that’s just what it’s like when you’re finally with the only person you’ve ever wanted right down to the marrow.

Sitting up to pull off his t-shirt brings him in range of Richie’s mouth, and he knows it’s a fantastic mistake when Richie latches onto his neck like he’s starving.

“Ahh—fuck, fuck, okay,” he pants, maneuvering back onto the too-soft pillows so Richie can press down against him, heated skin to skin. “Richie, should we… I don’t know how to…”

Richie pulls off with a filthy lick to his collarbone that sends him clawing at the sheets. “What—” he gulps. “You haven’t done this before?”

Eddie shakes his head, mutely, embarrassed by the fact and also by the erection he’s sure Richie can feel digging into his soft belly, through his suddenly constricting jeans.

“Eddie Spaghetti,” Richie says slowly, the grin curling over his face spelling disaster. “Are you telling me you’re still a virgin? ‘Cause I’m past being in the business of deflowering, but for you I’d make an exception.”

Eddie gapes at him. “No, asshole,” he snaps, punching Richie’s shoulder, though he probably can’t feel it with how hard he’s laughing. “I’ve never done it with another dude before. Especially not one that—y’know.” He huffs. “We grew up together man, you gotta admit it’s a little weird. Good weird.”

“Definitely good weird,” says Richie, his voice back to that hot raspy tone that must have developed after his voice dropped, beyond the hazy barrier of Eddie’s memory. He supposes he should just be grateful Richie hasn’t done any Voices yet. “And it’s way easy Eds, it’s just the same. You just gotta do what feels good.”

What feels good. He looks down between their heaving chests, his pale and bony, Richie’s paler with more soft-looking hair than he expected. His ass sits squarely in Richie’s lap and he’s overwhelmed by a flash of sun-drenched memory, the hammock rocking as their legs entwined and Eddie tried desperately not to get a boner.

“What do you want, Eddie? I’ll do whatever you want.” Richie rests his hand gentle on Eddie’s stomach, fingers splayed to scratch soft through his meagre happy trail. The place he would have been impaled if Richie hadn’t saved him.

His face is burning up again, he can feel it in the throb of his cheek where the knife went in. Looking up at Richie from under his eyelashes doesn’t help either, because fucking hell he looks good. The lamplight softens his angular shoulders, but his cheekbones still cast the same shadows that made Eddie’s knees go wobbly as a kid. Whatever he wants. He wants, he wants, he didn’t know it was possible to want like this.

“Could you, uh,” he stammers. Fuck, he really does feel like a virgin. His body won’t stop blaring the alarm at him that he’s with a man, and not just a man but Richie. He’s never paid much attention to the way he looks aside from mild disappointment, but now he feels aglow with self consciousness. How is this supposed to even work? “You could take your glasses off, if you want. Y’know, if they’re uncomfortable when we...”

Richie blinks at him, owlishly. “Oh no, no can do. That’s where I draw the line. We waited this fucking long and you think I don’t wanna see you?”

Oh. Eddie grips the coverlet harder. Doesn’t know where to look, because if this is what it feels like to be wanted it’s gonna take some getting used to.

“Unless you think they’re… I can take ‘em off, yeah.” Richie is sitting back, his eyes going shuttered and a little more blank and Eddie has to grab at his shoulder before he moves any further away, which is the absolute opposite of what he wants right now. They’ve barely started and he just keeps messing up.

“Don’t, it’s fine! Keep them on, I—I like them.” Richie’s bare skin is blazing hot under his palm.  Do what feels good. Eddie swallows hard, the click in his throat so loud it sounds like a gunshot in the otherwise quiet room. “I always liked them. You were—I had the biggest fucking crush on you, man, you don’t even know.” 

It all blows out of him in a rush, the confession. It’s worth how violently he can’t stop trembling for the way Richie beams stupidly down at him, ducking his head like he’s uncharacteristically bashful.

“Right back at’cha, pal. I’m still not totally sure this isn’t a wet dream right now. Always wanted to do this... ” And then Richie’s sliding his hands up Eddie’s thighs, up under his ass and hauling him close enough to grind into.

Eddie sees stars, because holy shit that’s Richie’s dick, the hard line of him pressing into Eddie’s erection. His brow furrows and his mouth drops open in a shocked groan, wringing a choked little laugh from Richie, who mutters, “Yeah.”

“You’re gonna kill me,” Eddie gasps.

Richie lowers himself carefully, down on one elbow. He’s being so careful, and it’s reassuring to know Eddie’s not the only one having a hard time believing it’s finally, finally come to this. It makes his chest feel like it’s growing, achy-big. “Not if you kill me first, Kaspbrak.” 

They make out more for a good long while, necking like teenagers. Eddie’s stomach swoops every time they awkwardly manage to line their hips up, Richie pushing down as he rolls up against him feeling dirty and awestruck.

Richie kisses him like he’d be happy to do it for hours, all open mouthed and slow. It might even be hours, Eddie’s not keeping track because it’s all he can do to keep up, his heart racing away from him with every bolder lick he makes into Richie’s mouth. He’s never been kissed like this before in his life, he’s never kissed anyone like this, like the kissing is the whole point, as opposed to something you’re just supposed to do as a warm-up. There’s nothing of a perfunctory warm-up in the endless way Richie’s mouth moves on his, against his, pushing inside, how he nips and sucks at the give of Eddie’s lower lip, the way Eddie was always scared of wanting when he woke up from tidal dreams of a kiss like this, shaking and leaking in his pajamas just hours after Richie gathered his comics and climbed back out into the night. It’s happening. It’s loud and obscene with the sound of them swapping spit, it’s fucking incredible, makes Eddie spread his thighs wider in some primal anticipation.

Four days ago, the most exciting thing in Eddie’s life was the new GPS system in his car, which he then proceeded to wreck, of course, and get a couple points on his license for his troubles, and now he’s moaning into the strong lines of Richie Tozier’s neck, he’s rubbing his dick into Richie Tozier’s soft, broad stomach, he’s turning his life upside down for this, and the beautiful, disbelieving shape of Richie’s laugh against his lips is worth every single cent he’s gonna bleed to some viper-mouth lawyer. Their big, back-row theater awakening was all furtive terror and softened peach-fuzz lips fleeing apart when the door to the lobby slammed open and brought them back down from the giddy heights, nothing like this. Richie’s tongue slides hot and slick and urgent against his own like he’s been storing this kiss up for almost thirty years; like he’s got something to prove. It’s really happening, and Eddie kisses back with everything he has, and the salt crackling along his tastebuds is from the pooling sweat at Richie’s temple, instead of popcorn. Richie slides his forearms under Eddie’s lower back to crush them closer together, tangled up. One hot hand scrapes roughly under the back of Eddie’s jeans, and he hears himself whimper. Blood roars in his ears and all he can do to prevent prematurely embarrassing himself is focus on the slight dig of Richie’s frames as their noses bump together, again and again.

“Fuck,” Richie gasps, every time they have to part to actually breathe. “Fuck, fuck, Eds.” Eddie lets himself cradle the back of Richie’s skull, grips tight fists into his sweat-tangled hair when he discovers it makes Richie grind down harder. So hard it rocks Eddie deep into the bed, and the motion is almost like—almost like Richie wants to fuck him—

Eddie arches without meaning to at the thought, biting his lip and clenching his fists. He hears Richie’s sharp gasp, feels the thickness rut against his ass like that again, one big feedback loop of heat and pressure. He did that. He, Eddie Kaspbrak, somehow has the power to make Richie lose his shit, in an X-rated version of the way they could always rile each other up. It’s this revelation alone that emboldens him enough to give in to the way his body’s been screaming out for more since before they even started. Richie always smiled at him the widest when Eddie forgot to be scared.

“We should—Rich, my pants are gonna be stuck to me man, c’mon.” His pulse beats frantic in his chest when he gets a good look at Richie’s face when he surfaces from his burial place in the hollow of Eddie’s throat. He looks doped up. Bleary eyed with his mouth bruised to match the way Eddie’s feels scratched raw from stubble burn. 

“Huh?”

“I’m sweating to death in these jeans, I said. I’m gonna get some kind of rash.” He holds his breath, watching the comprehension dawn on Richie’s pink-darkened face.

“You’re saying we should take our pants off?”

“That’s exactly what I’m saying, genius.” 

Richie groans suddenly and loudly, like he’s dying. “God, I’m so glad you’re getting a divorce.”

Eddie bursts out laughing, even as Richie struggles off him to start tearing at both their flies, somewhat ineffectually. “Shut up, do you ever hear yourself talking shit or does your ass block your ears?”

“I mean it!”

He helps to tug Eddie’s pants off and throws them into a crumpled heap at the side of the bed, both of them laughing and shushing each other. Eddie feels his dick throb and his pulse kick into overdrive when Richie settles himself slowly back down between his legs, the wet spot and distended fabric of his underwear obvious.

“I mean it,” Richie says again, softer. He cups Eddie’s cheek, the one with the gauze, and gazes at him like he’s trying to communicate something very essential. His curls are a mess with how Eddie’s been wrangling them with sweaty hands, and Eddie knows with a sudden, tightening jolt in his belly that he loves him.

He tries not to panic. It wouldn’t be a good look to start panicking with a straining hardon in front of the dude he’s in love with. Maybe it shows on his face, because Richie makes a small noise and fits his other hand in the hinge of Eddie’s jaw, kissing him again. His hairy thighs brush the smooth underside of Eddie’s where they’re slotted together, makes Eddie feel like he’s scraped out and bared for all to see. 

“I mean it,” comes again, too tender and intimate.

“What—what do you mean?”

“I mean, I’m glad you’re getting a divorce because now I can marry you,” Richie says into the damp, small space between them. He says it matter-of-factly, but the tremor in his voice betrays him. “It’s legal now, y’know.”

And Eddie can’t really say much to that right now or he might actually cry, so he only moans and pushes into Richie’s grip, clinging on for dear life. It’s all a blur as Richie eventually pushes their underwear down and has his long, bolt-knuckle hand around Eddie’s cock, then both of theirs together. He keeps his eyes screwed shut against it, the drag of Richie’s spit-slicked palm is so good when it rubs the foreskin down enough to spread a little moisture that he whimpers. It’s like being overloaded, a current of shocking, achy pleasure. Richie was always the circuit-breaker Eddie could channel all his crazy through, but now he’s stuck, pinned and encompassed by Richie surrounding him, blinding him.

His eyes are still tight shut, so he doesn’t register Richie’s moving southwards until he feels it, the chill October breeze hitting him from the open window and peaking his nipples, making him shiver harder. He gulps in air and nearly chokes on it when he feels Richie’s shoulders muscling his legs open wider.

When he feels Richie’s tongue on his cock he nearly blacks out, knows it won’t take much longer. At some point his hand winds back into Richie’s hair, and he leans up onto his elbow to see.  

It’s such an obscene picture he wants to scream. Seared forever into his brain, the tiny things like his boring briefs dangling from one skinny ankle where it’s slung over Richie’s shoulder. Bigger things; Richie staring right at him and somehow grinning around his mouthful of Eddie’s cock, the bright red band of colour high across his cheeks, the languid pace of his own hand somewhere in the shadows between his legs at the foot of the bed. Eddie fights down the ugly flash of instinctual revulsion at what they’re doing, what he’s doing, still technically a married man—

The new, brave part of him pushes that away. He never knew sex could be this good, this joyful, and for fucking once he wants to enjoy it. 

“Jesus Christ, Richie,” he pants, unable to stop his knees quivering around Richie’s ears. 

Richie pulls off with a long slurp that seems deliberately loud, and Eddie has horrible visions of the others bursting in on them to see what the commotion is. 

Richie’s tongue darts out to lap up a glistening string of saliva, and Eddie wants to kick him in the face to hide how unbearably harder it makes him. “It’s good? Is this okay? I should’ve asked, or, since you’ve probably never—unless your wife did—”

Eddie groans, flopping back and burying his burning face in his hands. “Please don’t talk about her right now,” he says, muffled.

“No, yeah, that’s a good idea. Sorry I got ahead of myself, I just always wanted to.”

Eddie blinks into the darkness. Then he sits up, eyeballing Richie’s innocent expression, highly aware of both their nakedness and of Richie’s hands still petting softly at his hips. “Always wanted to..?”

“Suck your cock,” Richie says. Eddie’s dick twitches, like it knows it’s being talked about.

His whole body feels like an elastic about to snap. The itchy heat coiling around the base of his spine like a python, squeezing him until he’s sure he’s gonna burst messily all over Richie’s face. He’s throbbing from head to toe, can barely think straight, and it’s all Richie’s fault.

“Even when we were—”

“Always,” Richie repeats, firmly. In the dim light his face looks scarlet, and his eyes drop until he’s focused somewhere around Eddie’s navel. “All of it. It’s always been you, Eds, even when I couldn’t remember you.”

And that’s—

It’s—

The overlapping sensation comes again, but this time the two images reconcile, slot into place. As he looks at Richie’s older, leaner face he can clearly see him there in too big glasses and a Halloween costume, resolutely not looking at Eddie’s face as they sway too close under a mirror ball and the foggy musk of a middle school gym.

He’s there, tearfully admitting to carving exactly what Eddie thinks, wiping his nose and letting himself be seen without the jokes and the Voices and the bullshit. Brave in his own way, and all for Eddie’s sake.

After that it’s easy to reel him in. To press his forehead into Richie’s, kissing him so desperate that Richie has to stop grinning into it to kiss him properly in return. It’s embarrassingly easy to clench his teeth and come until he’s sure he’s going to die, Richie’s hand working him through it between their soaked stomachs and whispering, “Yeah, fuck yeah babe, come on,” and to melt out the three words that have Richie sobbing into his shoulder and coming too.

 

What’s easiest is that in the morning, after they’ve endured the catcalls and the eyerolls and heartfelt congratulations, they can drive away from Derry with their hands gripped shyly over the stick shift. 

And Eddie can start remembering the rest of his life.