Maggie and Wentworth Tozier were never bad parents, necessarily, but they weren’t very involved parents, either. Growing up, it was undeniable that his parents loved him, but they were also true 80s parents- ‘I don’t care where ya go jus’ get outta my hair!’.
For this reason, Rich knew exactly where to go, when the sun was setting and he realized that he was car-less and credit card-less.
“Rich, do you remember where mom keeps the sleeping bags?” Richie asks from the top of the basement stairs, and Rich sighs. He’d been called Rich for years, but it was never his favorite nickname. Now, it was his new name, as a way of differentiating the two of them. At least he wouldn’t have to endure the obnoxious kids and new name for too long, that is, if he could figure out how to get back to 2016 when it was all over. Oh well, that was a problem for future future Rich.
“Are you serious? I haven’t lived in this house for 25 years, of course I don’t remember where the fucking sleeping bags are!” He answers, leaning against the pillar in the basement.
“Okay, okay, don’t get your panties in a wad, I’ll find ‘em,” Richie rolls his eyes, turning on his heel back up the stairs.
Rich rolls his eyes back, peering around the basement once the door closes. It feels like Deja Vu is driving a semi-truck through his brain. Chess trophies are displayed on the shelves, along with his dads' record collection and his moms' scrapbooks. Went had passed away in 2003, and his mom and him still struggled with having a close relationship. He didn’t have the heart to tell little Richie any of that, though. He remembered how lonely he had felt growing up, and he didn’t want to tell him about his equally bleak future. Perhaps, through all of this, Rich would change his future for the better. Maybe he would be more than a lonely, drunken comedian.
“Here, I brought you a pillow, too,” Richie says as he thumps down the stairs, throwing the supplies at Rich.
“Oh, how kind of you to bring me a pillow,” He catches them, sarcasm coloring his words. He tosses them down on the floor and sets up his little sleep area.
“How do you…” Richie trails off, adjusting his glasses awkwardly, “How do you know you won’t wake up and… be gone? Back in 2016?”
“I don’t,” He answers honestly. He wasn’t handed a guidebook when he’d landed in 1989, he doesn’t even know how this all happened, “But you need to promise me, that even if you come down here tomorrow morning and I’m gone, you’ll remember what I said and you’ll stop It.”
Richie hesitates and picks at the hem on his jeans. It’s a nervous habit of his that still hasn’t been busted, 30 years later. Rich steps forward and puts his hands on his skinny shoulders, forcing him to look up, “I know you’re scared, especially after what happened to Eddie, but if you don’t do this, you lose Eddie and Stan.”
“But… now they both know what happens to them! None of us will show up here in 2016 if we know we might die!”
Rich sighs, hands dropping away from his shoulders, “We’ve been over this. If we don’t kill It now, you’ll forget everything. You won’t remember me telling you all of this, you won’t even remember any of the Losers. And by the time you do, Bill will have managed to convince you to go into the Neibolt house- you know how good Bill is at convincing us all to do things,” He offers a small smile, “We can’t take that risk.”
Richie looks up at him, “Did you ever tell Eddie?”
“Tell him wh- Oh,” Rich looks at the big eyes below him, and ponders what to say, “No, kiddo, I didn’t. I should’ve… Maybe, I don’t know. But now I can’t, and I wish I could just have the option to, again.”
“So you still loved him, even after all those years?” If Rich was any other person, he wouldn’t notice Richie’s hands balling up into fists, digging his nails into his palm to stop himself from getting too emotional. He sees it, though, because his hands are also curling into fists.
“I did,” Rich answers, averting his gaze from the wide, prying eyes, “I do.”
What do you do when the universe gives you a third chance to fight a killer clown? You make sure you have some fucking weapons first.
So, Rich snuck out of the house after Went and Maggie left for work, and headed towards the old construction site he and his friends used to play at. There was always a spare metal pipe or wooden beam lying around that he would use to goad Bill into a sword fight, while Eddie ran his mouth about diseases or sawdust or some stupid shit.
Sure enough, the construction site is there, and sure enough, Richie collects a few metal pipes and hopes that these children he’s suddenly the leader of will be able to lift them up with their scrawny arms.
He knows he has to get back before Mags and Went get home, so he hurries on his way back to the house. One of the long pipes falls out of his arms and onto the ground below him. He grumbles and bends over to pick it up as it rolls down the stretch of sidewalk towards the road. When he goes to stand up, he finds a young woman in a pair of fashionable coveralls staring at him, horrified. He looks around, confused, before laughing awkwardly.
“Hey, uh, can I help you?” Rich asks. He doesn’t think he’s ever seen her before, in the present or in the future.
“Who are you?” The woman replies, eyes turning into a sharp glare. Rich adjusts the pipes in his arms as she clutches tighter to her purse. He’s just opening his mouth to reply when she cuts him off, “You don’t belong here.”
He inhales sharply through his nose, clearing his throat, “Jeez, I knew Derry was a close-minded town but I never-”
“You need to leave, you don’t belong here,” The woman concludes before shouldering by him as though she hadn’t said a word. Rich looks back after her for several moments.
“Well, I sure don’t miss the homophobia in Derry,” He grumbles to himself before turning on his heel and marching down the sidewalk.
“I still don’t believe him,” Stan says, and Richie is close to punching him in the face, “How do we know he’s not Pennywise capitalizing on your stupidity?”
Eddie sighs next to him, seated on the small expanse of rocky shore next to the Quarry, “You’re going to make me have a conniption if you keep saying stuff like that.”
They decided to go to the Quarry together as a form of a ‘last hurrah!’ in case they died during their escapades. Bill claimed that having a ‘last hurrah’ at all was a bleak way to look at things, but Richie argued that everyone could use something to wind down. Rich had told him to stay away from the Neibolt house and to keep everyone together, so this was the best option.
“I can’t deal with another one of Eddie’s conniptions,” Richie sighs, “Please stop talking, Stan.”
“Huh-He already puh-proved that he was real, r-remember?” Bill lounges between Bev and Ben, stealing glances at Bev every chance he can get.
“We don’t know what It knows! Maybe he’s… omniscient! He knows what our deepest fears are, maybe he knows other things, too!”
“I-I think h-he knows our deepest fears be-because that’s what hi-his power is, not because he’s omni-omniscient,” Bev nods in agreement, much to Stan’s dismay. He throws his hands up in the air while Richie distracts Eddie by skipping rocks.
Mike cuts in, “He hasn’t mentioned anything that he knows outside of our fears, right? He’s powerful, but he has weaknesses. Plus, time travel isn’t the most far-fetched thing we’ve seen this summer,” His hand lands on Stan’s shoulder soothingly.
“I’m sorry, when did you all interview It about the physical and spiritual boundaries of its being? We don’t know anything about what It can do! Maybe It likes playing the long game! I mean, it could’ve killed any of us when we were separated, and it didn’t,” His hands fly around wildly, emphasizing the drama of his words. Eddie wrings his hands nervously.
“Come on, Stan,” Richie interrupts loudly, leaning back to pull Eddie’s inhaler out of his discarded fanny pack. Eddie gratefully accepts it as Richie continues talking, “Do you really want to take the risk of you and Eddie dying?”
“Either way, there’s a chance we might die!”
“Well, I’d rather do something about it instead of just sit around and hope that you don’t die!” Richie sucks in a breath, not wanting to start another argument with someone who’s life he’s trying to protect, “Listen, as long as we don’t get separated from Rich, we’ll be okay. He wants to protect us.”
Bev speaks up for the first time, “I just can’t figure out why, out of all of us, the universe sent the older version of you. ”
“What?” Richie asks, mildly offended.
“Well,” Bev continues, “It could have sent Bill, or maybe Mike, but it sent you. Even as an adult, you’re a walking nightmare,” She giggles, puffing on her cigarette. The smoke curls in the air as she blows it out, and Richie ponders this for a long while.
Eddie nods, “Why wouldn’t Bill be the one to come back and help us defeat It? He’s kind of the ringleader.”
Richie scoffs at him, ignoring the temptation to go into pouting mode, “As if you don’t listen to everything I say.”
He enjoys the way Eddie’s face burns at that, and giggles at the hard shove he earns, “I would sooner walk in front of a train than listen to anything you have to say.”
“Aw, Eds!” He croons, “Always such a romantic!” He tosses himself across Eddie’s lap, ignoring the way his little hands push him away. He looks up at the sky, enjoying the feeling of Eddie smacking his cheeks and wriggling away from him and trying not to think about all that he could lose tomorrow.