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JULY 25TH, 2016

“Do you have enough room in your car, honey?” Bev asks as she meets Richie at the bottom of the stairs, surrounded by luggage. Only one suitcase is his, the other two and the massive duffle bag were Eddie’s. 

“I’ll find a way to make it all fit,” Richie answers, staring ahead at the door, “Hey, you’re not leaving until tomorrow, right?”

Bev shakes her head, “Our flight takes off early tomorrow morning.”

“Well, I, um, I found this,” He digs his hand around in his pocket and pulls out a plain, silver wedding band, “It was on Eddie’s nightstand. I don’t know why he took it off, but it’s probably something Myra will want to have. Could you send it to her?”

She takes it from him, putting it into her own pocket with a frown. Her face is drawn tight, worried. He can’t say he blames her, he’s not deaf, he can hear the way his voice sounds. He’s sure if he was standing in front of a mirror right now, he could see how awful his face looks. Bloodshot eyes, greasy hair, overgrown facial hair. 

“Yeah, I’ll send it to her. Can you text me his address from the luggage tags?” He only nods in response. She squints up at him for a long moment until her face finally collapses and she sighs, “Promise you’ll call when you get back home.”

“I promise,” He says, but the look she gives him tells him she doesn’t believe a word out of his mouth. They exchange hugs and he slowly loads his and Eddie’s bags into his car. A few tears drip down his face when he thinks of how differently this could have ended- Eddie coming home with him, loading his own luggage in the car, and bitching at Richie all the while. He’s kidding himself, he knows he is, but Eddie isn’t here to protest it.

-

The way his heart rate picks up when he parks on the kissing bridge is similar to muscle memory. When he was a kid, he used to walk or bike past this spot just to see his carving, just to nonchalantly stare at the letters. He came by so often it was a wonder nobody ever connected the dots and realized what R+E stood for. 

It’s such a faded memory that part of him wonders if it ever happened. Maybe it was only a daydream he used to have, something he never actually had the balls to do. But when he opens his car door and walks the few feet down the bridge, it’s still there clear as day. It’s worn with time, not as fresh as some of the others there, but it’s still legible. It hits him in the chest and new tears- which, he feels like his body shouldn’t be capable of producing anymore- spring up into his eyes. Breathe in and out. In and out. Just like he used to do with Eddie when he was having an asthma attack as a kid. 

He kneels down, pulls the knife out of his back pocket, and whittles away. 

The sun shines down on him and he can’t help but feel angry at it. It should be raining, the whole fucking world should be mourning the loss of Eddie Kaspbrak. He wants to punch the sky and the demonic space clown and Mike, too, for good measure. 

But when he finishes the carving and leans back, he smiles. Because now, after all these years, he finally gets to say it. Really say it. ‘I love Eddie Kaspbrak, always have and always will’. And everything settles inside of him for the first time since it happened. He’s certain he’s going to go home and mope around for months, but right now, it feels like he gained a little piece of him back.

He looks down the length of the fence, gaze falling between the slats into the water below. It’s a steady stream, but has no real girth or push to it. He remembers playing in it with the Losers all those years ago. He almost leaves when his eyes catch on a creature- a turtle, standing in the stream, looking up at him. If Richie didn’t know better, he’d say it was looking directly at him. He stares back, feels something tug in his heart, then dorkily raises a hand and waves at the turtle like he would a toddler. Of course, the turtle just stares, then continues on its path downstream. When he goes to stand, his vision shakes and his ears thrum with blood flow. It takes an unusual amount of strain to stand up. ‘Trashmouth is getting old’, he thinks. He wouldn’t have thought anything more of it if it weren’t for the kid crouched in front of him, right where he just was, carving something into the wooden fence. Which is impossible. He was just there. Richie can only see the back of him, but he could recognize the fuzzy black hair and ugly shirt anywhere. His heart lurches and he stumbles back, causing wild eyes behind thick lenses to look up at him.

“Who the fuck are you?” Young Richie asks, hands moving to cover up what he had been carving moments before. He realizes with a sinking stomach what it must have been.

“What the fuck?” Is all he can really manage to say, because honestly- what the fuck? What is happening? Where is he? How is 13-year-old him standing right here, in front of him, like it’s 1989 all over again?

“I wasn’t doing anything!” Young Richie shouts, standing up and whirling around. He backs up until his ass hits the fence, effectively blocking Richie’s eyes from the carving. He looks terrified, and despite Richie’s confusion, he feels a pang in his chest.

“Relax, you’re not in trouble,” He tells himself, and god, what the fuck is going on? “What year is it?”

“What is this, Back to the Future?” Young Richie asks, not budging from his spot on the fence.

“I’m starting to think it might be. Just, answer the question, kid,” He looks down the road then, back to his car, and realizes with a start that it’s missing. It’s completely vanished, replaced by the black bike he rode everywhere when he was a kid. Oh shit. 

“It’s 1989 you fucking weirdo,” Young Richie answers, brows furrowing, “Who are you, anyway?”

“Oh my god, I should’ve left Derry while I had the chance,” He grumbles, before realization slaps him in the face, “Woah, wait. It’s 1989. That means…” He trails off, and the dumb kid in front of him huffs in annoyance.

“You’re weird and you look like a pedophile, so I’m outta here,” He starts toward his bike, but Richie grabs onto his arm and pulls him back, “Hey! Leave me alone you fuckin’ creep!”

“Richie, listen.”

“How do you know my name?” His eyes widen behind his glasses.

“Because I’m you, from the future. Don’t look at me like that, I don’t know what’s going on either,” Young Richie stares at him defiantly.

“If you’re me, prove it,” He says, tugging his wrist away from Richie’s hand and crossing his arms over his chest. Richie looks back over his shoulder at the carving Young Richie hadn’t quite finished yet. He’d only written ‘R+’. 

“You were going to finish that carving with an E,” He states, knowing that’s more than enough information for Young Richie to believe him. 

Young Richie only quirks an eyebrow, “Lucky guess,” he says coolly. 

“The E stands for Eddie, your best friend who you are madly in love with but too afraid to tell because you’re growing up in this shitty, homophobic town,” That’s all it takes for the kid in front of him to turn into the equivalent of a puppy with his tail tucked between his legs. His eyes grow even wider behind his glasses, bottom lip sticking out suspiciously. As ridiculous as he looks, Richie suddenly feels more love for himself as a kid than he ever did before.

“So I end up looking like you? Great. How old are you, 50?” Young Richie rolls his eyes, desperately trying to cover up the fear that rolls off him in waves.

“Hey, asshat. I just turned 40,” Young Richie giggles at the insult, looking his future self up and down with pursed lips.

“So, why are you here? How did you get here?” 

“I don’t really know,” Richie says, looking around for some form of explanation and finding nothing, “But I do have one question for you- you haven’t made up with Bill yet, have you?”

“No, we haven’t spoken since he gave me this,” Young Richie points to the small split in his lip, scabbed over, “Dumb asshole.”

“So you haven’t gone back into the house on Neibolt yet?”

“No! I’m never going back there!” 

“Oh yes, you are,” Richie shoots a glare at him, “Because you and I have the chance to fix everything .”

Chapter Text

JULY 25TH, 1989

“Is this your way of apol-apologizing? Puh-Pulling me ow-ow-out of my house with no explanation to go to the puh-park?” Bill grumbles as Richie drags him by the wrist past the obnoxious Paul Bunyan statue. 

“I don’t have shit to apologize for, Bill, shut up,” Richie huffs, and wonders for the umpteenth time why he’s doing this. He’d called around to all the Losers, managing to convince all but one to meet him at the park. Bill’s mother had answered the phone, sweetly saying ‘Bill doesn’t feel like coming to the phone right now’, so he was left with no choice but to show up at his house and pull him out by his ear. He was surprised it had worked.

“Did something huh-happen, Richie?” He asks, a glimmer of concern passing over his face. If Richie’s being honest, some part of him worried that Mrs. Denbrough would answer the phone crying, saying Bill had gone missing just like Georgie. They’re all on edge lately, ever since Eddie broke his arm. He was relieved to hear that Bill was alive, albeit still ignoring him.

“Something happened, but don’t worry, it’s not… bad.”

“You duh-don’t sound too sure.”

“It’s not bad,” Richie says again, “It’s definitely weird, though.”

They stop at the bench where Bev and Ben are already waiting for them, chatting about some summer school project Ben is working on. Their greetings pass by quickly, still tense since their argument. 

“Why’d you call us here, Richie?” Bev questions, pulling out a cigarette and looking around for any nearby adults. She sighs when she spots one not too far away, slipping it back into her pocket

“Let’s just… let’s wait for everyone else to get here first,” Richie answers, and for the first time, his eyes slide towards the older man sitting on the park bench several feet away, watching him. 

“Yuh-You’re acting weird,” Bill sighs.

It doesn’t take long for Stan, Mike, and Eddie to all show up, with the latter looking a little angrier than usual. Richie squints at him, and Eddie’s face turns pink.

“What?” He spits, holding his broken arm gingerly in front of his chest.

“Nothing, Jesus, ” Richie answers, holding his arms up in surrender. Eddie only huffs, lips pursed and gaze sharp as a knife.

“Okay, Richie, we’re all here. What’s up?” Bev speaks up once again, and all eyes are on him. He turns to the man on the bench- Older Richie- and waves him over.

“Who’s that?” Stan asks nervously, taking a step back. Eddie seems to ponder Stan’s reaction, before taking a step back as well.

“Hey kids, how’s it going?” Older Richie says, and Young Richie sighs. 

“Could you sound more like a pedophile, please?”

“What? How did I sound like a pedophile? A pedophile would say something like ‘Hello, tasty children’, I don’t know,” Older Richie argues, and the Losers Club regards him warily.

“So you’re a cannibalistic pedophile, now?”

“Oh my god, you know I’m not a pedophile!”

“Then who are you?” Eddie interrupts, looking less than amused, “Care to explain, Richard?”

Richie looks at his friend for several moments, mouth closing and opening like an accordion, before he looks up at his older self, “C’mon, man. You’re the adult here, say something.”

Older Richie sighs, rolling his eyes in the process. He looks at all of them, one by one, before finally speaking, “I’m Richie from 2016,” All the kids gawk at him for several moments, “Please don’t freak out, you guys have already met a shape-shifting clown. How unbelievable is it that time travel is possible, too?”

“You told him about the clown?” Stan says with an accusatory look and Young Richie is baffled.

“He already knows about the clown! He’s me! ” 

“So you just believe anything this guy says? Oh look-” Stan points towards an elderly man walking across the street using a walker, “ That must be me!

“Hey! I’m not a dumbass, I made him prove it first!”

“How?” Mike cuts in, ever the only rational person in the group, “How do you know this guy is for real?”

“He told me a secret that nobody else could possibly know,” Young Richie says, clamming up and feet shuffling around.

“Well, what was it?” Bev asks.

“If I told you then it wouldn’t be a secret, would it?”

“That doesn’t make any sense,” says Eddie, looking Older Richie up and down, “But I believe you.”

“What?” Stan cries. Eddie tugs on his sleeve and gestures towards the adult in front of them.

“Look at him, Stan. Listen to what he’s saying. I’ve never met an adult this dumb, it has to be Richie.” 

Older Richie chuckles, but Young Richie shoots a glare in their direction. Bill seems to be struggling with whether or not he believes what they’re saying. 

“Puh-prove it,” He says decisively, “What’s my middle name?”

“How does that prove anything?” Stan says irritably, face stuck in disbelief that the rest of his friends could be stupid enough to believe the creep standing before him.

“Do you know muh-my middle name, S-Stan?” Bill counters, brow quirked challengingly. Stan thinks for a moment, as does everyone else, “Do any of you know my middle name?”

All the kids shake their head, but one. Richie raises his hand up, “I do.”

“Exactly. I’ve nuh-never told anyone but Richie my middle nuh-name. He blackmails me with it a-all the time,” All eyes go to Richie, who shrugs sheepishly, “Suh-So, what’s my middle name?”

Richie squints, “Shit, I know it starts with an L.”

“Are you fucking kidding me? You forgot?” Young Richie groans and smacks his palm against his forehead.

“Oh! It’s Lynn! William Lynn Denbrough!” He exclaims excitedly, and all their heads turn towards Bill, who nods in confirmation. A few snickers erupt from the group. Stan still looks unconvinced, but remains silent, and that’s all Richie could ask for.

“Okay, now that you believe us, we need to talk. It’s important.”

-

Older Richie explains everything, the Derry amnesia, the Chinese restaurant, fighting It and losing both Stan and Eddie, while Young Richie stands nearby. He’d already heard it all, earlier, before he convinced him to call the rest of the Losers to the park. The second time around, though, something inside of him rattles. The Richie standing in front of him had lost Stan and Eddie, all in a little under 48 hours. He sneaks a glance of Eddie standing next to him, taking a puff of his inhaler as the tale of his demise is recounted. His hand latches onto his wrist when it drops back down next to his side, limply wrapped around the castless skin and bone. Somehow, this feels safer, because it’s not quite hand-holding, and it’s something Eddie never questions. 

His eyes meet Stan’s next, who seems awfully concerned for someone who claims to not believe a word out of Older Richie’s mouth. He mutters something to Mike, who in return wraps an arm around his shoulders. 

As Richie trucks on through the story,  Stan claims to be getting whiplash from referring to them both as Richie, and they decide that 'Rich' is 2016 Richie's new name. He gripes about the name change but eventually agrees.

“I… die? ” Eddie asks, eyes flashing between Rich and Richie, “And I die saving your dumb ass?” His finger pokes Richie in the chest harshly.

“Blame him!” Richie shouts, pointing towards his older self who suddenly looks distinctly green.

“Yes, you die. Which is why I need you all to listen to me. I know how to kill It. If we kill him this time around, Stan will never..." The whole group pauses, eyes sliding over to Stan's pale face, "...and Eddie will never die for… me,” Richie hears the shake in his voice, and he casts his gaze down to the ground below him. He tries not to think about Eddie with a gaping hole in his chest, bleeding out in his arms. It was hard enough to see him in pain with a broken arm. He couldn’t imagine losing him.

“But… what if I die this time instead?” Eddie puffs his inhaler once again, eyes going wide and nervous.

“That’s not going to happen,” Rich cuts in sharply, “I will not let that happen. I’m- We’re lucky that the universe gave us a second chance. I can’t fuck this up.”

“So, who’s with us?” Richie asks, looking around at the group's undecided expressions. 

Stan steps closer, peering up at Rich, “If we do this, we’ll never have to confront It again?”

Rich pauses, sharply exhales, and shrugs his shoulders, “I can’t be sure, but yeah. I think so.”

“We’ll do it,” Bill announces, looking around at everyone “Fuh-for Stan and Eddie.”

Richie nods, “And for Georgie.”

Chapter Text

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.