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Put Those Colors On

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“Richie?” Adrian’s voice croaked through the line, scratchy and groggy.

“Oh, shit, did I wake you?” Richie asked, wincing. Adrian was in Maine, visiting Don’s family. Richie hadn’t even thought of the chance he’d be asleep. His mind was moving too fast, he was forgetting obvious fucking details.

“It’s fine, Rich. Are you okay? Where are you?” Adrian asked. He was sounding more alert by the second, and Richie could hear him moving, could hear Don in the background asking what was happening. Then he heard the sound of a door sliding open and it was quiet again.

“I’m backstage. Just finished a set.” Richie breathed. He grabbed a water bottle and unscrewed it fast, chugging half of it, crinkling the plastic in his fist.

“Okay. Okay, what are you thinking?” Adrian asked. He was trying to get a read-on Richie, he knew that, gauge where he was at. Honestly, Richie didn’t even know. He didn’t know why he called Adrian, just that the second he finished his set and got backstage, the phone was in his hand and he was calling his sponsor without thought. Instinct.

“I met my soulmate.” Richie croaked. His throat stung, always did after a show, but Richie barely noticed this time. Too much on his mind.

“Holy shit Richie! That’s exciting! You met them at your show?”

“Yeah. He, um… I heard his laugh halfway through and bam, goodbye black and white, hello world of color. It was…-”

“Disorienting?” Adrian offered. He knew the feeling. He’d met Don, his soulmate, about a year back, at the fucking MOMA of all places.

Yes. Disorienting. Good word.” Richie agreed, nodding. It had also been a bit anticlimactic as well, since, well, he hadn’t seen Eddie when it happened. He wished he had been the first thing he’d seen, soft brown eyes instead of the bright yellow of the spotlight. It might have been less jarring that way, more comforting.

“So… based off that tone of voice, I’m guessing you didn’t just call me to tell me the good news,” Adrian said. He’d always been good at reading Richie. That was why he’d asked him to be his sponsor, honestly. He was a bit younger than Richie, but they shared a lot of similar life experience, and the kid was more mature than anyone his age should be, “What’s going through your head, Richie? What are you thinking?” he asked again.

It was what he asked a lot. Richie talked more than anyone should, but often times he wasn’t really saying anything. Nothing important, nothing genuine. Adrian cut right through that, knowing his habits. He always got straight to the core of it, and Richie used to try to evade but at this point…

“I don’t know. I don’t even really know why I called you.” Richie said. His hands were shaking. They wouldn’t stop shaking.

“You do. Take a minute, breathe, and reflect.” Adrian soothed, so Richie did what he asked as best he could.

“I think… I’m scared.” Richie admitted, the truth settling uncomfortably in his belly. Adrian hummed in understanding over the phone and Richie took it as a sign to continue, “He was great, you know? Looked really fucking perfect, not hard to believe he’s my soulmate but… I’m also his. I’m his soulmate and that’s… he doesn’t deserve that, right?”

“Wrong.” Adrian cut-in immediately and Richie sighed, running a hand through his hair with a groan.

“I know, I know. Self-hatred. Irrational, but I’m over-thinking what’s going to happen when we talk, get to know each other, when he sees the scars and-”

“Babe, you know-”

“I know! I know, give me a second. Let me talk through it.” Richie snapped, squeezing his eyes closed, trying not to lose his train of thought. Chain thinking plagued him constantly, if he let a thought go too far, one second later he’d be 18 paces ahead and unable to turn around.

“Okay.” Adrian said amicably and fell silent. Richie took another deep breath and tried to calm himself.

“I know that if he’s my soulmate, he won’t care about any of my shit, it’ll just be… fine. Rationally, I know that. But I also haven’t even thought about a soulmate or the possibility of a soulmate since… before Patrick. That’s like six years, at least. I haven’t been preparing or planning for this and it really got the motherfucking jump on me. So, these insecurities… they are here and rearing their ugly fucking heads and so. I’m scared.” Richie blew out a breath and Adrian waited for the pause to lengthen before he spoke.

“That’s fair, Richie. It’s a scary thing, meeting your soulmate. You’re allowed to be scared.” Adrian assured him and Richie also knew that, he did, but-

“But being scared, Adrian, that’s how it starts.” Richie choked out and Adrian made a noise of contemplation again.

“Do you feel like you’re going to use?” Adrian asked. His voice completely devoid of judgment, of course it was, but Richie still felt the question like a weight in his stomach. He hated that it had to be asked. Adrian was his NA sponsor, so of fucking course he asked, but… fuck.

“I don’t…”

“Be honest with me, Richie.” Adrian begged, suddenly vulnerable.

“Not yet.” Richie managed, before digging his fingernails into his palm. His hands just wouldn’t stop fucking shaking. He was so annoyed, he just wanted to be okay, wanted to be happy, Bill was going to text him any second.

“Okay. I think I understand, but I want you to explain it to me.” Adrian pushed. Richie nodded again, feeling like it looked slightly manic but, who the fuck cared, no one was watching him.

“It always starts with me being scared. I was scared people wouldn’t like me, so I stole my mom’s Adderall. I was scared of coming out, so I snorted coke. I was scared of Patrick… hurting me, so shot up. I… it’s always how it starts. So no, I don’t want to use yet but what if…” What if he’s so fucked up he relapses because he met his soulmate?

“I understand that fear, Richie. I do. But I think there is something very big and very important that you are forgetting.” Adrian said and Richie racked his brain.

“I mean… I called you, I remembered to ask for help.”

“And that’s so good, I am so glad you called me,” Adrian’s assurance actually did do a lot to slow his racing heart, knowing he did something right helped a pathetic amount, “But apart from me and apart from your soulmate, you’re forgetting you, Richie. You are so much stronger than you were when you were in high school, or in college, or with Patrick. You are so much stronger than you were this time last year, last month, even. I know you’re not going to break here, Richie. I know.”

“It’s just, I’m feeling so much-”

“And you can handle it. Because you are strong. And you’re not alone, Richie. You’re not.” Adrian implored him. Richie took a second to let the words sink in, repeating them in his head like a mantra. He looked up at the mirror in front of him, examining his face with his new vision. His eyes were red, bloodshot, and his cheeks were a little too pale. His cheekbones stood out starkly, revealing the fact that he hadn’t been eating very well lately. His lips were also really chapped, cut slightly on the bottom one. When he noticed that, he remembered when he did that – when he was waiting on stage, waiting for his soulmate to say something, anything, nothing. He’d been so nervous, so fucking sure that he was going to have to live his life in color and never know who triggered it, would have to live knowing he was rejected by his soulmate.

But then there was Eddie. Richie smiled into the mirror as he remembered the moment the lights dimmed, the moment he saw him and put the voice to a face. He’d looked scared as all hell, but also determined and beautiful. Richie remembered thinking it was too good to be true, but… here he was. Eddie had been perfect and the way he’d gasped when Richie laughed, squeezed his eyes shut to the onslaught of color was so fucking endearing, so cute.

When Richie looked back at his reflection, smiling at the memory… he looked better, eyes brighter and the lines of his face softer. The stark difference made a weird thought pop in his head, and he brought his attention back to Adrian, who was probably confused by the long silence.

“Hey… can I ask you a weird question?”

“Go ahead, Rich.”

“Um… what color is heroin?” Richie asked. Adrian didn’t answer right away, the silence loud. But after a minute, over the line, Richie heard the sound of a door sliding open again and Adrian sighed.

“I don’t know. I’ve never seen it in color.”

***

Richie was resting his eyes in the car, the flashing lights of the city a little too much to handle. It was making him just the slightest bit carsick, that and the stress and exhaustion as well. So, when the driver announced that they were at the bar Bill had texted him to meet them at, he was a little shocked. He jolted up, opening his eyes a little too quickly, glaring at the garish orange of the seat covers this driver had. Even so, he tossed the guy a tip and then pushed himself up and out of the car. He stared at the building for a moment, admiring the bright pink neon flamingo sign, before steeling his nerves to walk in. When he got close, though, he paused.

Eddie was already outside, leaning against the brick wall and staring daggers from the corners of his eyes at the couple a few yards away from him. They were standing close together, taking long drags from cigarettes before blowing the smoke directly into the air above them. Each time they did, Eddie took a somehow passive aggressive puff of his inhaler. Richie laughed and smiled as he walked towards him.

“This probably isn’t the best place to be if you’re looking for fresh air.” Richie said, guessing at Eddie’s reason for being outside alone, instead of inside with their friends. Eddie looked over at him, startled.

Richie.” He exhaled. A smile seemed to almost pull at his lips, but he seemed nervous well, fidgeting with the inhaler in both hands, “You’re here.”

“I am here,” Richie spread his arms out, hands still in the pockets of his jacket. He was nervous too and he shrugged before saying, “I said I would be.” Eddie scrunched his eyes up and looked at an imaginary watch on his bare wrist.

“Thirty minutes ago.” He said it teasingly, but Richie also got the vibe that he was slightly annoyed. Richie laughed half-heartedly.

“LA traffic, you know? How the city slow?” Richie joked, but Eddie didn’t smile. His gaze was discerning.

“We drove in that same traffic, you know.”

“Right. That we did… I’m sorry, I actually got caught up in a phone call. Lost track of time.” Richie shrugged and Eddie seemed to accept that answer, even though it did sound like bullshit. It was the truth, but if Richie was Eddie, he probably wouldn’t have believed it. Eddie was apparently a good judge of character though.

“Who were you calling?” Eddie asked, leaning back against the brick wall. Richie was surprised he didn’t feel defensive, when Eddie asked him that. He thought, objectively, he usually would’ve been. He usually would’ve made some joke about receiving the third-degree, about Eddie being all up in his business, about being allowed some privacy. He didn’t feel any urge to do that now.

“You want the honest answer?” Richie asked, moving to stand next to Eddie, scooching down the wall so his legs were spread further out but now the two of them were the same height. Eddie smiled at the action, but seemed confused by the words.

“Why wouldn’t I?” he asked. Richie shrugged and stayed silent for another long moment, “Was it… a girlfriend? Or boyfriend?” Eddie asked tentatively, nervously. Richie shook his head immediately.

“No, I am very single, rest assured, Eds. I’m free for the taking,” Richie laughed and Eddie shoved his shoulder gently.

“Don’t laugh! It’s a legitimate fear, asshole.” Again, Eddie was smiling as he said it, but the shove was a little real and there was an edge of vulnerability to his voice. Richie backed off, trailing off the laughter and smiling softly.

“It is, I’m sorry.” He apologized. Eddie shrugged and rocked back and forth on his heels for a moment.

“So, if it isn’t a boyfriend or girlfriend it was…” Eddie trailed off, waiting for Richie to fill in the blank. When he didn’t, just stayed silent, Eddie looked concerned before saying, “You don’t have to tell me. No pressure, it’s just-”

“My sponsor,” Richie cut him off, not wanting to hear the gentle, we-might-be-soulmates-but-we-don’t-really-know-each-other-yet speech, “I was talking to my sponsor.” Eddie still looked concerned and confused for a short moment before understanding spread on his face. The lines of his forehead softened and his mouth dropped open a little.

“Oh,” he said, and Richie waited for the pity, disgust, sadness, anything. But surprisingly, Eddie just nodded and kept staring into Richie’s eyes, “You called your sponsor. Do you mind if I ask…?”

“Go ahead.” Richie insisted, even though he actually didn’t know what was coming. He had some ideas, but all of them were pretty bad. Eddie didn’t seem bad.

“AA or NA?” he asked, short and sweet and Richie didn’t really know why it mattered in the moment, but Eddie seemed sincere, interested.

“NA,” Richie responded, “But I don’t really drink either. Slippery slope.” Eddie nodded in understanding, not needing more explanation.

“And how long have you been…”

“Using?” Richie filled in and Eddie looked startled (maybe sad? Richie couldn’t tell) as he shook his head.

“Sober.” Eddie corrected.

“Oh,” Richie laughed. That’s a nicer thing to ask, less invasive he supposed, more relevant, “Nine months, last Monday.”

“Wow, that’s amazing. Congratulations, Richie.” Eddie grinned. He squeezed Richie’s arm gently, and then let it travel down to slip their hands together for a moment. Richie smiled too, because, again, he was a sucker for praise. But after a moment of staring at their enjoined hands, he pulled back, looking at Eddie inquisitively.

“You don’t seem upset.” Richie asked and Eddie tilted his head in confusion.

“Upset that you’re nine months sober?” he asked. Richie rolled his eyes and huffed, convinced Eddie was being purposefully evasive, but when he looked back at Eddie, he did genuinely look confused. Richie’s heart sank.

“Upset I’m an addict.” Richie clarified as if it was the most obvious thing in the world. Eddie looked taken aback for a moment, his face flashing anger. Then, he took a deep breath and shook his head.

“I’m not going to pretend like I don’t know why you would be scared I’d think that… because that would make me look like an ass. I know some people would be… turned off to hear that but, Richie… I don’t care. I mean, that sounds shit, I do care, of course I care. It’s gotta be so hard for you.”

“It can be.” Richie breathed, laughing a little bitterly. Eddie sighed and grabbed his hand again, gingerly.

“I can’t imagine, Richie. But, I’m… I’m not looking for perfect.” He said simply. Richie remembered his conversation with Adrian, his initial reaction to Eddie. He had called him perfect.

“That’s hard to believe.” Richie joked and Eddie tensed slightly, but it was only for a split second before he went back to casual.

“Is it? How come?” he turned sideways, so his hips and shoulders were leaning against the wall and he was facing Richie completely.

“Well… fuck, Eddie, come on, you seem pretty perfect to me.” Richie admitted, eyeing Eddie’s everything. Eddie blushed but rolled his eyes and flipped Richie off immediately.

“Fuck you, Rich.”

“I’m serious!” Richie said, and he was about to start listing all the reasons, Eddie’s flawless skin and perfectly coiffed hair, his perfectly tailored jeans and the rolled-up sleeves on his pink button up, and so on and so on, but Eddie wasn’t listening. The sound of a clicking lighter rang obnoxiously and Eddie swiveled around in anger.

“I am begging you. Please God, do not light up another cigarette.” He snapped. Both the couple and Richie were struck kind of speechless.

“Ummm.” The guy mumbled, flame an inch from the cigarette resting on his lip. He had wild black curls and big green eyes, which were staring at Eddie in both shock and admiration.

“I have sat here quietly while you’ve worked through FOUR between the two of you, and I can’t do it anymore. PLEASE. It’s 2019! Read about second-hand smoke, you absolute jerk! I get if you wanna tear up your own lungs, that’s fine, you’ll work through that yourself, but I can’t have a conversation over here if I cannot breathe so please! Call it quits!” Eddie gestured with a wide sweeping hand to the front door of the bar, begging the couple to back inside. Somehow, it worked. They both put the cigarettes back in their case, staring at Eddie like he was an insane person the whole time.

“Enjolras would love that guy.” Richie heard the girl whisper as they walked past them. She was pretty, long dark hair styled into a bun at the top of her head, dark skin highlighted and bronzed perfectly. The guy chuckled and nodded.

“He is Enjolras. That’s my soulmate but packed into a 5’8” body, so his righteous fury has less storage room.” The guy joked back, before pulling the door open for his friend.

“I can hear you!” Eddie shouted after him, making the guy laugh and wave, even as he moved faster into the building. Eddie rolled his eyes and then turned back to Richie with an annoyed look. When he saw Richie’s raised eyebrows and amused smile, he blushed.

“Oh. You saw that?” Eddie asked, redundantly. Richie laughed and nodded.

“I was right here the entire time. And I have ears. And eyes.” Richie explained as he tried to laugh too hard at Eddie’s cringe.

“Like I said. Not perfect,” Eddie covered his face, pushing at his eyes for a second before leaning next to Richie again, a little closer this time, “I struggle a little bit with anger management.”

“That’s…”

“Not perfect?” Eddie filled in for him, smiling a little. Richie nodded.

“Not perfect.” He agreed, but the way he said it, he might as well have said it was. They stared at each other for a long moment, Richie taking the opportunity to appreciate the colors in Eddie’s face, the deep brown of his eyes and the golden brown of his hair, the blush of his cheeks and the sweet pink of lips. Eddie stared at him too, for a while, eyes just as contemplative roaming over his face. Eventually though, his eyes softened a little, and his hand slowly came up to touch Richie’s cheek. But at the last minute, he hesitated.

“What?” Richie breathed, slightly disappointed and a lot desperate to feel Eddie’s skin touching his. He didn’t know what Eddie was thinking, but it was all he wanted to know.

“You look tired.” Eddie said, sadly. His fingers edged the dark circles Richie knew were prominent under his eyes and then he cupped Richie’s cheek altogether. Richie sighed and leaned in to the touch.

“I am.” He admitted. It was deeper than any physical exhaustion, but Richie didn’t think that needed clarification. It seemed like Eddie knew, “I’m better now though.” Now, with Eddie in front of him and his hand on his cheek and his smile in his future, he was better already.

“Do you want to go somewhere else? Somewhere…” Eddie glanced behind him, towards the door to the bar which was pounding faintly with the sounds of some rock song that Richie knew as totally Bill’s vibe, “quieter?”

“You don’t want to go hang out? Everyone’s still in there, right?” Richie asked. Eddie just shook his head and shrugged.

“They are, but I don’t care. I just… you look really tired.” Eddie said again, then he moved his hand down to rest on Richie’s shoulder, “I don’t like it.”

“Well, fuck, Eds, that stings a little-”

Shut up, you know I don’t mean it that way. I love the way you look. It’s just… it makes me want to…” Eddie sighed and Richie waited with baited breath for what he was going to say next, “It makes me want to hold you. Can I give you a hug?” he asked and Richie wasn’t expecting that. His mouth opened slightly and he paused for a moment, a long enough moment that Eddie felt slightly awkward before Richie was able to agree.

“Yes please.” He choked and then Eddie relaxed and grinned. He stood up straight, on his tip-toes, and immediately wrapped his arms around Richie’s neck. Richie in turn wrapped his arms around Eddie’s waist, resting his hands on the small of Eddie’s back so they fit together as close as possible. Richie’s face rested in Eddie’s hair and Eddie’s was tucked into Richie’s neck.

“I’m really glad it’s you.” Eddie murmured after a long moment. The words were said directly into Richie’s skin, so it was faint, and Richie wasn’t sure if he was supposed to hear it, but he did. He did, and he felt the words sink into deeply, pricking tears in his eyes and soothing a fear that had been lurking for as long as Richie could remember. He just nodded in response, not wanting to risk saying anything wrong, not even knowing how to say what he felt. He just loved that his soulmate was the first person in his life to strike him speechless.

***

“So, I have tea… sort of. It’s sleepy time, so I don’t highly recommend it. I also have water, but only tap… and old Sunny-D if you want something with a bit of a kick, and… okay. That’s it. I think the conclusion is I have nothing.” Richie sighed, shutting his refrigerator with a slam. Eddie laughed from where he was looking out the big window in the living room, admiring the view.

“Impressive.” He teased, not turning around. Richie leaned against the counter and admired his profile as he spoke.

“I’m not usually this bad of a host,” Richie explained, making Eddie look over his shoulder to throw a doubtful look, “I’m serious! It’s just I only got back from New York yesterday and I haven’t had time to grocery shop.” Eddie hummed, considering but still disbelieving.

“The fact that you ever had Sunny-D makes me doubt the natural hostess in you.” Eddie teased, moving to sit on Richie’s couch. Richie followed, collapsing into the cushion right next to Eddie, sprawling out slightly so their legs bumped. Eddie smiled at the contact and then readjusted, turning sideways and sitting legs crisscross.  

“There’s too much to unpack there, Eddie, so I’m not even going to try.” Richie said seriously, making Eddie laugh again. Such a great sound, Richie wanted to make it his ringtone. His doorbell. His alarm in the morning.

“Whatever you say, babe,” Eddie replied, and Richie tried not to get too excited by the pet name, “What do you wanna talk about then?” he asked. Richie just shrugged.

“I dunno.” He sounded a lot like a 12-year-old just then, more than he would like to admit.

“Come on, I thought you were supposed to be the trashmouth? Isn’t talking like, what you do best?” Eddie teased. Richie scoffed and gave Eddie a look.

“Something tells me you’ll have no problem keeping up with me on that front.” Richie said. Eddie scrunched up his face and raised his chin in offense.

“What the fuck does that mean?” he asked, and Richie just tilted his head at him, deadpan.

“Seriously? You talk just as much as I do, just as chaotically.” Richie explained and Eddie spluttered for a moment, searching for an argument. Then he stopped and sighed in defeat.

Fine, I’ll pick the topic of conversation,” he conceded, and Richie laughed loudly, using the motion to throw his arm over the back of the couch and slide slightly closer to Eddie, “So, do you want to talk about why you look so tired? Have you been sleeping well?” Eddie asked, not condescending or mothering, just genuinely wondering. Richie shrugged.

“I guess? I sleep fine. Not for huge periods of time, but when I manage it, its fine. It’s just the tour, I guess. It’s always draining, travelling basically alone for that long. I’ve been having weird dreams lately, too.” He said with a grimace. Eddie’s cheeks flushed suddenly and he looked down at his hands to avoid Richie’s eyes. Weird.

“Oh yeah? What kind of dreams?” Eddie asked, voice slightly strangled.

Richie watched him for a moment and then blurted out, “What’s wrong with you?” That just made Eddie blush more.

“What do you mean?”

“You’re being weird.” Richie said. Eddie laughed awkwardly and shook his head, clearing his throat.

“No, I’m not.”

“Yes, you are.”

“No, I’m not.”

“Yes, you ARE.”

“No, I’m NOT.”

“Yes, you-”

“Oh, shut the fuck up, Richie! Just tell me about your stupid dreams.” Eddie snapped, making Richie laugh hard. At least he was back to normal now.

“Jesus, alright. If you fucking insist,” Richie laughed, “It is stupid, really. Kind of embarrassing.” He stalled, but Eddie just grinned self-deprecatingly.

“I think I’ve got you beat there.” Eddie forced out. Richie sat up a little straighter, because THAT was interesting.

“Oh yeah? You having weird dreams too? About what?” Richie asked and Eddie looked offended.

“Um, I asked you first so…”

So… if I tell you mine you’ll tell me yours?” Richie pressed, excitedly. Eddie stared at his feet for a moment, biting his lip before shrugging.

Possibly. Let’s hear yours first.” Eddie compromised. Richie would’ve kept fighting, but something about Eddie made him soft. Made him have too much give.

“Well you drive a hard bargain, but… okay, so… I keep dreaming I’m the pilot of the Galaga ship, fighting aliens and stuff.” Eddie stared at him for a moment.

“The Galaga ship?” he repeated, unimpressed.

“Yeah, you know that arcade game? It was like Sega or something.” Richie clarified. Eddie nodded and looked around the room, thinking back.

“I know it, yeah. But… okay, how do you know that’s the ship you were piloting? Why not like a Star Trek ship or something?”

“Because I’m fighting those dragonfly guys! The same weird bug ships! And I’m in the cockpit of this spaceship, completely alone, which is not how spaceships that big are supposed to piloted, I’m sure, and I have to control it with the little fucking red joystick and the big red button. Usually the dream ends with an explosion, but sometimes it tells me I ran out of tokens, just in the middle of the level, and ejects me into space. That’s when I wake up, usually.” Richie shrugged when he was done recounting and Eddie just kept staring for a moment.

That’s what you’ve been dreaming about? Space bugs?” Eddie asked, deadpan and Richie didn’t get why he was so disappointed.

“Yeah?” Richie offered. Eddie shook his head and laughed at the ceiling.

“How is that keeping you from sleeping?” Eddie asked.

“I mean, it’s not really. I’m not sleeping for other reasons, but it makes my sleep a little more high stress! A little less rejuvenating! I’m piloting a spaceship, for God’s sake. I didn’t even go to college and I’m manning a spaceship? That’s a lot of responsibility.”

“Well, what are you fighting for?”

“I dunno. The universe probably.”

“But you always die. The universe is screwed. Have you ever won? Beat the level?”

“No, I always wake up. Can you beat Galaga? I thought it never ended.”

“I don’t fucking know, Richie, it’s your dream.”

Richie nodded, because that was true, but he still didn’t know. He flopped his head to the side, on the cushion behind him, and stared at Eddie, who still looked a little bit like he was judging Richie. Then, they both started laughing, leaning into each other and smiling wide.

“That was so dumb, ‘Chee. I thought it was going to be something real! Something serious.” Eddie explained through laughter. Richie shook his head as he flicked a stray piece of hair off Eddie’s forehead.

“Nah, I’m not very good at serious.” Richie explained and Eddie raised an eyebrow in doubt.

“I mean, our first, well, second conversation was really fucking serious, I’d say.” Eddie reminded him.

“Oh right. Eh, I was in a mood.” Richie said, a little too honest. Eddie’s smile diminished a little and he nodded in commiseration.

“Right. You’d just called your sponsor.” Eddie said, like he’d forgotten. Richie tensed a little, sensing a more serious conversation riding down the rails, “Why’d you do that, Rich? If you don’t mind me asking?” Richie didn’t know if he minded or not, honestly. He didn’t really want to talk about it now, when he was just making Eddie laugh not ten seconds ago, but he also didn’t NOT want Eddie to know.

“There are lots of reasons to call your sponsor.” Richie said evasively. Eddie wasn’t distracted, though.

“One of them is feeling like you want to get high.” Eddie said, blunt. Richie grimaced and nodded, “Is that what this was?”

“Not exactly.” Richie whispered and Eddie scooted closer, spurred by Richie’s soft tone of voice. They were touching at multiple points now, but Richie wasn’t counting the contact or anything (Richie’s arm-Eddie’s shoulder, Richie’s knee-Eddie’s knee, Richie’s hand-Eddie’s hand, Richie’s hip-Eddie’s forearm).

“That’s vague.”

“Purposefully,” Richie sassed, but Eddie’s stare was pointed and persistent, “I was just… nervous. Scared.”

“Of me?” Eddie asked. Again, he wasn’t mad or sad, he was just trying to figure it out. It helped Richie find the strength be honest.

“A little bit. Mostly of what… this means. The fear of you not liking me, us not getting along, the compromises being too much, just… its scary, you know?” Richie said, really hoping he didn’t have to explain it anymore. Eddie nodded, slightly stoic, and Richie felt the need to clarify, “I’m not as scared anymore! Talking to you… it helps. It feels comfortable and I do feel less scared. I am still a little, but mostly… mostly you’re just really great.” Richie assured him and Eddie smiled.

“I appreciate you saying that. This soulmate thing isn’t always the easiest thing in the world so, I feel the same way.” Richie’s stomach eased at the words and he relaxed back into the couch as much as he could.

“Oh, good.” Richie breathed, smiling. Eddie didn’t look done talking about it though.

“I still don’t get why you called your sponsor, though.” Eddie said, “Were you…”

“I was never going to use,” Richie cut-in, “I was just scared. And I always feel weak when I’m scared.” Eddie ahhed in agreement, leaning back against the couch now too, into Richie’s arm. Richie immediately wrapped it around him, rubbing his thumb along his shoulder.

“I get that feeling,” Eddie said honestly, “I’m sorry I had any part in-”

“No, don’t apologize. I appreciate it, but really, all you’ve done is help. It’s my wonky brain that created anxieties and… I’m okay now. Or I will be, I know.” Richie clarified and Eddie smiled, letting it drop.

“I’m glad you have your sponsor. You’re close to him?” Eddie asked.

“I am, as close as I can be. They recommend that you’re not BEST friends with your sponsor, so they can remain objective, but Adrian is really great. He moved to a new place in New York, which can be rough but I’m there a lot for work anyway, so it works out. And he always takes my calls, my Facetimes, is as available as he would be here… I’m lucky to have him.” As Richie spoke, Eddie started running a gentle hand through his hair, the act small but incredibly intimate. It made Richie’s stomach turn to jelly.

“He sounds great, I’d love to meet him one day.”

“Hmmm, he’d love you,” Richie slurred, eyes closed to focus on Eddie’s touch, “What’s not to love?” he flirted. Eddie laughed and tugged softly on a strand of Richie’s hair.

“Don’t be sappy.” He teased. Richie cracked open an eye to see Eddie smile before closing it again. He was so comfortable, he kind of wanted to fall asleep.

“Do you think we’ll start to dream in color?” Richie asked randomly. Eddie’s hand stopped moving, still pushed in Richie’s hair.

“Hmmm,” Richie opened his eyes again to watch Eddie think, “Probably. Not right away, though.”

“Its exciting, though.”

“You think?”

“Oh yeah, now I get to see the bug alien ships in 3D and color.” Richie grinned and Eddie rolled his eyes, laughing. Then he was quiet for a moment, staring at the kitchen, before he muttered something Richie couldn’t make out. It sounded like he said something about Bill, though? “What was that?”

Eddie took a deep breath and said, “And now when I have another dream about you fucking me I can see the exact color of your eyes.”

Richie was quiet for a moment, struck still.

“What was that?” he repeated, voice squeaky. Eddie blushed bright red and stared at the ceiling.

“Don’t make me say it again, asshole, I know you fucking heard me.”

“I might be convinced my brain was playing tricks on me. Say it one more time?” Richie asked, because there was just no fucking way that was what Eddie said. Eddie glared at him and then reached back, grabbed one of Richie’s pillows, and threw it at Richie’s face.

“I said I’ve been having sex dreams about you! Those are the weird dreams I’VE been having! We can’t all be lucky enough to get dreams about cheesy 80’s arcade games.” Eddie huffed as he hugged the pillow to his chest, pouting petulantly. It was adorable and Richie really needed to think of something to say that wasn’t kissing the pout right off his lips. Because, well, that wasn’t saying something.

Please stop staring at me and say something.” Eddie begged after a moment and Richie felt a laugh burst past his lips, making Eddie flash with anger again, probably thinking he was being made fun of.

“I have literally… no idea.. I am speechless. Speechless. What… when? Why? We hadn’t even met before.” Richie managed and Eddie shrugged, tugging at his sleeves and fiddling with the ends.

“Bill made me watch some of your stand-up.” Eddie admitted. Richie immediately groaned, his turn to be embarrassed.

“Oh fuck me, which one?” Richie asked and Eddie giggled at the dramatics, which was a better shift in mood in Richie’s opinion.

“Um, your first Netflix one? I don’t remember the name, but it was…” Eddie trailed off, searching for the right words, but Richie cut him off because he knew the right words. And he didn’t want to hear them, really.

“Awful. It was awful.” He deadpanned and Eddie made a cooing noise to soothe.

“Oh no! It was just… not my speed…” Richie gave him a blank look, disbelieving and Eddie sighed and relaxed a little, “okay, you’re right, that’s not me. I’m sorry, yeah it was awful. I felt like I was being yelled at by a 17-year-old fuckboy in a 24-year-old’s body.” Eddie explained and Richie yelped.

“Yowza! Go hard, Eds.” Richie laughed, but he wasn’t offended. It was true, “I don’t blame you though. They was rough years; I wasn’t really at my peak then. I was more just… writing to be famous, rather than writing what I really thought was funny.” He admitted. Eddie seemed like he liked that answer.

“I noticed that, at tonight’s show. You really were funny this time.” Eddie praised. Richie smiled at the compliment and leaned his head against Eddie’s shoulder, hiding the blush.

“Good enough for a sex dream?” he asked, words muffled slightly, but Eddie still heard them and guffawed.

“OH my God… you wish.” He teased, but Richie just grinned, moving his lips slowly up to Eddie’s neck, not kissing though, just pressure. Eddie inhaled slightly with the movement.

“I do.” Richie whispered and Eddie shook his head, pushing him away gently. When, he did, Richie looked up at him and Eddie’s eyes were wide, pupils blown out just from their proximity… or maybe even some memories…

“Tell me what you dreamt about.” Richie insisted and despite Richie’s sincerity, it momentarily shifted the mood and Eddie immediately laughed and scoffed simultaneously.

No fucking way.” He said, scooting back slightly, farther from Richie and more into the arm rest. Richie wasn’t having that, though, so he grabbed Eddie’s ankles and pulled him closer, so his legs were thrown over Richie’s thighs and he ass was pushed up close to him.

Not that Richie did that on purpose or anything.

“You promised.” Richie argued, but Eddie just crossed his arms. He didn’t make a move to move farther away again, though, just settled in as close as he was. Richie took that as a good sign. He kept one hand on Eddie’s ankles and threw another arm over the back of the couch again.

“Um, no I did not. I said POSSIBLY. And then your dream was dumb as hell, so.” Eddie shook his head and looked off out the window again, so Richie took his chin gently in his fingers and tilted him to face him again.

“Please?” Richie whispered, their faces close enough to feel each other’s breath. Eddie took a deep inhale as he gauged Richie’s reactions.

“You don’t think its weird? Embarrassing?” he asked, breathless. Richie shook his head and laughed once.

Fuck no, Eds. It might be the hottest thing I’ve ever heard,” Richie admitted, moving his thumb gently against Eddie’s ankle, up to his calf, “You wanting me before we even met? Jesus.” Eddie stared at him for a moment longer before shaking his head slightly, shifting in Richie’s lap like he wanted to move closer.

“I wouldn’t even know where to start. I’ve kind of had a lot of them.” Eddie said, making Richie groan loudly and tighten his grip on Eddie’s leg, hand climbing up to mid-calf now.

“Your favorite,” he replied immediately, “tell me your favorite.” Eddie grinned and brought one hand up to Richie’s neck, stroking against his pulse.

“You wanna delve into my kinks so soon?” Eddie asked, “It’s a little early for that, don’t you think?”

No.”

“I don’t wanna scare you away-”

“No possible way for that to happen, baby.” Richie’s hand was mid-thigh now, and he was perfectly happy resting it there for now, admiring the muscle. Eddie nodded and slipped one of his hands into Richie’s hair.

“There is… one dream that’s repeated itself. A few times.” Eddie started and Richie took a deep breath, preparing himself.

“Yeah?” he asked, spurring him on. Eddie nodded, gazing deep into Richie’s eyes, impossible to look away from.

“Yeah, it’s definitely my favorite. Always ends with you crying for me.” Eddie’s voice was like deep, calm, and scratchy in a way Richie hadn’t heard yet. Even if he hadn’t said something that cranked so hard into one of Richie’s biggest kinks, he would still be hard from that tone of voice alone. He could read fucking Socrates to him and Richie would get a boner.

“Good crying?” he choked out and Eddie bit his lip, nodding.

“Uh-huh,” Eddie rested their foreheads together, “The best crying. You’re just begging to come, completely desperate for me. I love being above you like that.”

Fuck.” Richie breathed, squeezing his eyes shut to picture it. Eddie made an approving humming noise and he tugged on Richie’s hair once, hard, before moving his hand to Richie’s jaw, running his thumb along the edge. “You like being in charge?” Richie asked.

“Sometimes,” Eddie answered easily, “I like it both ways, honestly. I do love to be held-down and pounded, owned, don’t get me wrong. But lately… I just really wanna ride you until you cry.”

“No fucking complaints here.” Richie said, making Eddie laugh softly.

“That’s good to hear,” Eddie leaned back a little then, moving so that both of his hands were on Richie’s chest, “So, all the dreams usually start the same. You have me pressed against some surface, the counter, the wall, the hood of a car, and you tell me you want to fuck me. You just need to be inside me.”

“Fucking relatable,” Richie interjected, “So never much of a plot then?” he didn’t even know how he was managing words, just that he needed to say something or he was actually going to combust.

“Not since the beginning,” Eddie admitted before continuing, “And then you have me feel your cock and you ask me if it’s too big.”

“Been watching too much porn, Eds.” Richie laughed and Eddie slapped his cheek once, too gentle to actually hurt, but the sting was enough to get his attention.

“Cut the fucking peanut gallery act, or I will stop,” Eddie snapped. Richie believed him, and he’d be lying if he said the threat didn’t go straight to his dick.

“Sorry, babe,” Richie said, and he took Eddie’s hand in his own, sliding it down his own chest to rest on his half-hard dick just like he’d said, “What happens next?”

Fuck, Richie,” Eddie moaned, feeling out the shape over Richie’s jeans. Richie knew he didn’t have anything to be embarrassed about; he was a big guy and that was consistent all the way through, but the reaction still boosted his ego a bit, “You- um, you ask me if its too big. And sometimes, I shy away, when I wanna play coy and have you… take control. Fuck me. But, in this one, I take it as a challenge. I’m usually that way, I have a lot of pride.” Eddie said and Richie just smiled, made no comment.

“So, I push you hard onto the nearest flat surface, sometimes a bed, sometimes a couch, sometimes the floor, I unbutton your pants, and swallow down your cock.” Eddie described, not much detail at all, but Richie still groaned loudly. Eddie kept massaging his dick through his jeans, working it to full hardness and Richie thrust up slightly, unable to stop, “That’s not realistic, just so you know. I don’t like deep-throating at all, but in the dream, its fucking hot.”

“Hmmmm.” Was all Richie could manage. He wanted to agree, he wasn’t the biggest fan of deep-throating either, a little too scary for him, but Eddie was on a roll and Richie was in no position to stop him.

“So, I swallow down your cock, and I work you up as best I can. I always love looking up at you, the way your eyes squeeze closed and your mouth drops open. You always look so fucking desperate, right away. I tell you that, too, as I pull off right before you’re about to come. I tell you how I love how easy you are for me. Would you be easy for me too, Rich? Lay down and give me your dick whenever I want?” Eddie asked, and he moved one hand to Richie’s lips, thumb trailing across the bottom one.

Yes.” Richie managed to croak and Eddie smiled, slipping his thumb on to Richie’s tongue and pushing down as he started to suck.

“I know you would, baby. So fucking perfect.” Eddie muttered, admiring the view. Eventually, he pulled his thumb out and ran it across Richie’s cheekbones, mapping out his face.

“What happens next?” Richie asked after a second, desperate to know.

“Oh, right, the next part is my favorite bit,” Eddie said, grinning through Richie’s moan of anticipation, “Something about me you should know, Richie, is that even though I do like to switch up who’s in charge in bed, I always, always love to take it.”

“Oh fuck.” Richie groaned, picturing it as clear as day in his mind: Eddie riding his cock, Richie holding him up against a wall, having him face down on the bed, both of them rocking back and forth.

“Yeah, that’s right, Rich. I wanna take your cock so bad,” he moaned, rubbing a little harder against Richie and then he made a noise of frustration and moved quickly so he was straddling Richie now. Eddie grinded down immediately, the friction perfect, and Richie threw his head back at the feeling, moving his hands to grip Eddie’s hips in a vice.

“So you have to open me up, first, in the dream,” Eddie continued, voice breathy and finally as affected as Richie felt, “I always flip positions, turn around and sit on your face, so you can open me up with your tongue. Its nice, how in dreams we can do that spontaneously. I mean, in real life I’d have to REALLY clean myself before all of this, but in a dream-”

“I get it, Eddie. Back to the point.”

“Right, right. The point. The point of me fucking riding you until you break, yeah, that one. It’s my favorite position, you know,” Eddie said, putting both hands on the side of Richie’s neck as he slowed the roll of his hips to something intoxicating and sensual, “Just like this, with you sitting up so you’re as deep as you can get. I can move at exactly my speed and touch you however I want.” He demonstrated that next, moving his hands into Richie’s hair and then down his back, gripping his shoulder blades, and then down to his pecs and then his waist.

“God, why do we have so many clothes on?” Richie whined, desperate to feel Eddie against him with nothing in between.

“Why would we take our clothes off, Richie? I’m just telling you a story,” Eddie laughed, “I would never fuck someone on the first date.” Eddie teased, making Richie want to cry with how turned on he was. Which, actually, Eddie would fucking love, so that wasn’t a bad thing.

“You’re killing me, Eds.” Richie said. Eddie stared at him for a moment, hips stilled in their movement and then he hopped off Richie’s lap.

“Well, maybe we’ll switch it up then,” he said, leaving Richie no time to mourn the contact, because he was immediately sat back down, this time his back to Richie and his ass snug against Richie’s cock, “This is my second favorite, makes me feel really slutty.”

Yeah, you look it.” Richie murmured as he stared down Eddie’s body, over his shoulder.

“Hmmm,” Eddie agreed, grinding back gently to start as he grabbed Richie’s hand and brought it to slip into his own pants, “Gives you back a little control, too. You wanna make me come, Richie?”

“Fuck, yeah, yeah, I do, Ed.” Eddie’s cock felt so good in his hands, already wet and rock hard. Richie started jacking it fast, right away, desperate to feel Eddie lose control.

“Oh God, Richie, that feels so good, just like that,” Eddie leaned forward, hands on his knees to arch his back out and Richie wanted to grab his phone and take a picture, because damn. Eddie could throw it back, “Think you can make me come first?” Eddie asked, throwing down a challenge clear as day as he ground his ass back hard. Richie was probably two minutes away from coming, at this rate, but he was never one to go down easy, so he slowed his hand a little and took a deep breath as he pushed his thumb firmly against the head of Eddie’s cock.

“I’ll definitely try.” He muttered. With one hand he gave into the temptation right in front of his face and grabbed Eddie’s ass, smacking it once before groping again, fingers digging a little into his ass crack, as much as the jeans would allow, “With the way you’re moving this though, I might be fucked.” Richie chuckled and Eddie groaned. Richie liked that, the way his words affected him.

“What, Eds?” he asked, leaning forward himself now, to get a hand around Eddie’s neck and pull him back, so their bodies were plastered together, “You can dish out the dirty talk, but you can’t take it?” he tightened his hand just slightly at his throat, nothing close to choking, but enough to get Eddie riled.

“Go fuck yourself.” Eddie muttered even as he twisted his head back to mouth at Richie’s neck, licking and biting at right behind his ear.

“I’d rather fuck you.” Richie replied, making both of them laugh.

“Oh, I can feel that.” Eddie wiggled down firmly against Richie’s cock in emphasis and Richie was so fucking close. It was kind of ridiculous, the two of them dry humping like they were fucking 13, but it was a hot as fuck power play on Eddie’s part and Richie wasn’t about to push.

“Eddie, I’m gonna come.” Richie mumbled into Eddie’s neck, the skin damp and soft.

“Yeah, baby? You gonna blow just from thinking about my ass, Rich? That’s so fucking hot.” Eddie groaned and Richie resisted the urge to say that this was a little more than just THINKING, but whatever. He was too close. He sped up his hand around Eddie and right before he came, sunk his teeth into Eddie’s neck in front of him. Eddie cried out at the pain because he was fucking perfect and Richie tipped over the edge, coming harder than he could remember in a very long time.

When he came to, he noticed his hand was wet now too, even as he kept jacking Eddie off, slow and steady.

“Richie, stop.” Eddie whined after a moment, weakly pushing at Richie’s hand in his pants. A part of Richie wanted to keep going, fuck with Eddie and overstimulation, but they could do that another time.  They fucking WOULD do that another time.

“Did we just come at the same time?” Richie asked, catching his breath. Eddie laughed and nodded, bringing a hand back to rub at Richie’s neck.

“Yes we did. It was very fucking cliché.” Eddie commented. Richie laughed too, and then he pulled his hand out of Eddie’s jeans, dripping in come. Richie went to bring it to his mouth, to clean it up, but Eddie stopped it mid-air, before he could get close.

“Do not bring that close to my face.” Eddie warned. He was still resting boneless against Richie’s chest, but his voice was steel. Richie laughed, shocked.

“You’re grossed out by a little come? Comeplay isn’t one of your kinks, then?” Richie wasn’t judging, but he would be a little bummed if Eddie said yes. He desperately wanted to come on Eddie’s face some time soon, his ass too… and his thighs. Just all over him. Eddie turned his head to glare at Richie before turning around completely and straddling Richie front-to-front again. He took Richie’s hand then and fed it to him slowly, guiding him to suck each finger completely clean, watching him with dark eyes.

“I’m not grossed out by come, I just don’t particularly want my own in my face, around my nose.” Eddie explained. Then he looked down in between them, where Richie’s jeans were showing a bit of a wet spot, “Your come though? I’m a little more interested in that.”

“Oh, good,” Richie managed, which wasn’t the smoothest thing, he admitted, but he never claimed to be smooth, “Well, there’s a lot down there if you want any part of that.” Richie said, gesturing to his jeans. Eddie grimaced.

“Call me crazy but, me fishing in your jeans to find some come just… doesn’t seem sexy.” He reasoned, climbing off Richie and standing on slightly shaky legs. Richie stood up with him, close as possible, looking down to accommodate their height difference.

“Anything you do is sexy.” Richie admitted. He leaned down and, realizing this was about to be their first kiss, he paused, checking Eddie’s face to make sure it was okay. Eddie nodded minutely and so Richie closed the rest of the gap, sealing their lips together firmly.

It wasn’t perfect, it took a bit of adjusting at first, especially with how far Richie had to bend down and since his mouth still undoubtedly tasted like Eddie’s come, but it sank in to something good after a moment. It also felt so much better knowing that it was the first of many, knowing that Richie was so fucking lucky in finding his soulmate, that he would get to kiss him countless more times in his life. There was nothing better than that and most importantly, absolutely nothing to fear in that moment.