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Reborn

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 The blaring vibrated within his ears and hurt his head. He moaned in annoyance and rolled in his bedsheets. As the blaring continued, his hand swung out from the sheets. It crashed against the alarm clock and he opened his eyes. 

6:30 am

The freckled boy sat up in bed and rubbed at his eyes. The room was dim as his dusty drapes were sealed tight. Even in the dim room, he could sense it was early morning. “Get up Eddie. You have to.” 

His fingers worked into his tangled brown strands, as he attempted to fix them. He pulled back the brown drapes and the sunlight poured in. He sprang to his sore legs and began his morning stretches. "You got to stretch. If you don’t, you can get arthritis at a young age" 

He pulled out an outfit he prepared from a chestnut-colored drawer. It was a pair of red shorts, a yellow top, and his black fanny pack. When he was dressed, he examined himself in the mirror. “Good enough for school. I want to impress someone.” 

He grabbed his inhaler and other medication, which he shoved promptly into his fanny pack. He ran down the stairs that creaked under his weight. “Good morning mother. Good morning father.” 

The kitchen and living room were empty. His parents weren't insight, and the smell of coffee lingered. He strolled to the yellow fridge, finding a note pressed by a magnet. 

Your father and I got called to work. Breakfast is in the fridge and do not forget your vitamins. Have a good first day Eddie bear. 

“Of course they couldn’t stay. At least mommy cooked breakfast,” Eddie muttered as he crumpled the letter. He flung it into the trash, as he opened the fridge. A platter of eggs and toast was in the fridge, along with a carton of milk. “Same old same old.” 

He heated the plate and watched it spin in the microwave. He ate his meal and grabbed his backpack from the closet. As he dashed to the bathroom, he swung his backpack over his shoulder. As he brushed his teeth, he took his mother's glittery lip gloss. Once he finished, he applied it making his lips sparkle. 

He grabbed the house keys and tucked them into his fanny pack. He stepped outside and inhaled the cool morning air. In Derry, it was early September, and the heat was scorching. Although the morning felt cool with a fresh breeze. His nose became light pink from the cold and he shivered. 

Eddie hauled his bike from the shrubs and sat on the torn seat. Its shiny gray polish had become rusty and the paint flaked. Whenever he made a turn, it shrieked horribly. His parents told him to throw it away, but he insisted on keeping it. The ride to school was roughly ten minutes, therefore he made it at 7:00. Class didn’t start until 8:00, so he had time to spare. 

 As he chained his bike, he studied the campus. The place seemed huge as he stood in front of the concrete steps. His legs wobbled like jelly as he clutched his inhaler. “It’s okay Eddie. You are going to be fine.” 

He took a deep breath and walked to the glass doors. Bustling corridors, noisy chatter, bright displays, and voices overwhelm Eddie. The red lockers are slammed by miserable students, banners cover the walls advertising school clubs, and he cowers in a corner.

 The world seems closer to his eyes, as the air becomes more soupy, harder to breathe. His thoughts scatter like there's an electrical storm in his head, too many short-circuits to make any sense. He triggers his inhaler as he brings it up to his lips. He could hear his father's voice thundering in his head. 

"How pathetic that you have anxiety. That's not even a valid sickness Edward. Is this why you don't have friends? All you have is that shaggy dog, Charlie. Then again I realized you stopped hanging out. Did he abandon you too?" 

He ignored his words and began maneuvering through the crowd. He does his breathing exercises as he searches for locker 662. “I should’ve taken a copy of the school map.” 

Eddie realized he was lost, so instead made his way back outside. His eyes darted, in an attempt to find a friendly-looking student. His eyes settled on someone who seemed okay. He was tall, had sturdy shoulders, and short dark hair. He was wearing a black leather jacket, a pair of black jeans, and brown boots. “Excuse me?" 

“Oh, hello! Do I know you?” 

He studied Eddie with his soothing hazel eyes, and a warm smile. He felt like an angel had just blessed him. Eddie was conscious of his feelings towards boys, but it had been a while since he felt this. “I’m s-sorry to disturb you. I’m new here.” 

He leaned close, as Eddie was unaware of how faint his voice was. “Well, welcome to Derry! I’m Mike! What’s your name?” 

“I’m Eddie. It's nice to meet you." 

"You need help with something, Eddie?” 

“Where is the office? I’m sort of lost,” Eddie was very lost. He didn’t know shit about his new school. “I need a school map.” 

“I wouldn’t mind giving you a tour. Only if you want, of course." 

“No, it’s okay! I’m sure you are busy.” 

“I don’t mind Eddie. I just have to wait for my friends," The sound of a motor crackling made Mike smirk. “Well, here they are. Just give me a minute Eddie.”

Eddie looked over his shoulder in curiosity. A group of motorcycle riding students parked. Each of them had a Harley-Davidson FLSTF coated with polished black paint. They had large sparkling wheels plus large headlights. The only variation was design modifications and passengers. A few girls giggled and whistled in their direction. 

The first member had an alike figure to Mike. His tufts of brown hair fell back, as the breeze ceased blowing. He was chatting to the person next to him, who was taking their helmet off. Her ginger curls bobbed above her shoulders. Beige freckles adorned her body, the crimson lip gloss gave her lips a glow, her deep lashes flapped, and her eyeliner resembled sharp blades. Eddie had never seen such a beautiful being. 

Then, Eddie believed he died and met a real angel. His face flushed hot, and his stomach was heavy. His heart hammered in his throat, threatening to break out. His black locks spread beyond his shoulders, thick glasses rested on his nose, and freckles concealed his face. His lanky legs looked astonishingly hot, in tight black jeans and black boots. Eddie abruptly found himself in love and bit his lower lip. 

“Bill! You guys made it!” 

"H-Hi Mikey," Bill said swiftly approaching them. He pulled Mike into a tight hug. "I m-missed you." 

“Hey, that’s rude. We would never ditch school, Mikey,” The handsome boy remarked. “Hey, you brought a little friend.” 

“This is Eddie! He's the new kid,” Mike said as Eddie crouched behind Mike. His shyness had thrust on him harder than ever. “I was about to show him around the school. I was just waiting for you guys.” 

“Y-You aren’t g-going to hang o-out with u-us?” 

“Sorry Billy. I’ll see you guys at lunch.” 

“Woah Woah Mikey, you leaving us for a dweeb?” The girl spoke up as she leaned toward him. She pressed a lollipop within her fingers and frowned at Eddie. “It’s the first day of school." 

“Hey Beverly be nice. So, you're the new kid this year?” 

“Y-Yeah.” 

“I’m Ben, it's nice to meet you, Eddie. Sorry about my girlfriend she’s cold-hearted.” 

“Oooh Beverly, you hear that? Beat him up! I mean I overheard you doing it last night. Or was that you sucking him-.” 

“Beep beep Richie. Unless you want me to throw your pot off the quarry again. Fine Mikey. You should show the dweeb to Bowers.” 

“Hey that’s cruel,” Richie remarked as he licked her strawberry lollipop. “You got to chill doll. Look he’s even got a cute wee fanny pack.” 

“Shut up Trashmouth. Whatever kid don’t get attached to Mikey. He’s our friend.” 

“I won’t. I never allow attachment to happen.” 

“Sheesh, that got dark. Alright, let’s go I need to get my shit. I can’t be late to first period already.” 

“Whatever. See you later Mikey, love you!" 

She blew a kiss as she wandered off with the others. Mikey rolled his eyes at her and groaned. “Sorry about them. I swear they are nice people.” 

“They're nice people. I’ve seen and heard worse.” 

“I’m sorry to hear that. I’m especially sorry about Beverly. She can be way nicer once she learns to love you.” 

“It’s okay. She’s beautiful.” 

“Yeah, she is. A blessing to the Earth. But hey I’ll show you around now!” 

“Oh right! Thank you.” 

*** 

In the last thirty minutes, they toured the campus and figured out Eddie’s classes. Eddie learned a route to all his classes and thanked Mike for his help. They had learned they had the third period together, which overjoyed Eddie, as he adored Mike. 

The bell sounded and boys said their goodbyes. Eddie had PE first period, so he had to walk to the rear of the campus. Although Mike told him to just go to the gym. Apparently, they never did anything the first week. Eddie peeped into the gym and noticed the other PE classes. 

He found his PE teacher and perched in the corner of the gym. Most of his fellow pupils sat in their groups away from Eddie. They conversed about school drama, their new classes, or who the whore of the year was. Eddie pulled his knees up and glanced around. None of the students gawked at him, and this pleased him. He hurriedly drew out a comic book from his black backpack. 

It was an edition of the Wonder Woman comics. Specifically, Wonder Woman Gods and Mortals. She was one of his beloved heroes and owned most of her comics. As he flipped the first page, he sensed someone lean over him. Eddie nearly squealed yet managed to hold it back. Instead, he gazed up with wide eyes, slamming the comic close. 

“Sorry, Eddie didn’t mean to scare you!” 

Ben Hanscom bashfully smiled and relaxed next to Eddie. “Why are you sitting all alone?” 

“I-I don’t know anyone in my class. My teacher is Mrs. Holly” 

“We have the same class," Ben said his smile stretching in excitement. "I’ll keep you company. Beverly has this period, but she’s with the other teacher. You like comics?” 

“Thanks and yeah. Do you?” 

“Yeah, I do! I regularly go to the comic book store with Richie! What are you reading?” 

Eddie’s eyes brightened at the remark of the comic book store. In Brooklyn, the store was an hour by bike and expensive. Everything in Derry was at close biking distance, and cheap.  

“How far is the store? And I’m reading uh...Wonder Woman.” A blush crept on his face and he sank into his knees. “I-I know she’s very feminine but she inspires me. It’s kind of ga-"

“Oh, I love her! She’s one of my favorite heroes too! The comic store is down the block. We can go sometime if you want!” 

"I know she's amazing! Are you sure you want to go with me?" 

“Of course Eddie. We're friends, right? When I was the new kid two years ago, all I wanted was friends.” 

“You mean that?” 

“Yeah of course! You're Mikey's friend so why not join him.” 

“What’s going on here Benny?” 

Beverly stood next to Ben gazing at Eddie. Her forest green orbs looked gorgeous with her ginger freckles. Eddie had to stop admiring people. It always made him feel gooey. 

“Oh hey, Bev. Aren’t you supposed to be with your class?” 

“Aw, do you want me to go away that badly? I missed you,” She said kissing his cheek as he hugged her. “I just wanted to see what you were up to.” 

“I’m just talking to Eddie. You remember him right? Mike’s new friend.” 

“Oh yeah. So he’s got you tangled up too?"  

“H-Hi Beverly.” 

“Is that Wonder Women?” Beverly said seizing the comic book from his lap. She studied it and flipped through the pages. “Good taste. And one of the best Wonder Woman issues. That’s all I’ll say.” 

“Of course it is. It’s Wonder Woman Bev.” 

“Beverly Marsh! Get back to your assigned class!” 

She rolled her eyes and stood up upright. She launched Eddie’s comic back on his lap and pecked Ben’s cheek. “Well, I guess they miss me that badly. I got to go Benny.” 

“Everyone always misses you. See you later Bev.” 

She twirled her hair as she walked away, whistling softly. Eddie looked at Ben wide-eyed. “I’m sorry about her. She can be overprotective of her friends. She has her reasons.” 

“It’s okay, I get it.” 

Eddie didn’t. Maybe it was just because he never had close friends. He hopes one day he can understand. 

*** 

Eddie virtually raced to his third period, U.S. History. He recognized Mike sitting by the back table. He waved at him and then pointed at the vacant seat beside him. “Hey, I saved you a spot! We can choose our seats, for the rest of the year. Guess you are stuck with me!” 

“Tragic news Mikey. Can I call you that?" 

"Of course Eddie. You're my friend." 

Eddie's heart blossomed with a warm sensation. He wanted to pull Mike into a tight hug and prep him with kisses, yet he realized how unusual that would be. Instead, he smiles and laughs. 

*** 

After saying his goodbyes to Mike, Eddie strolled to his fourth period. As he wandered into the classroom, he noticed the desks were in groups of two. He resented this setup more than the groups of four. It required interaction with another person. At least in a group of four, Eddie could be the reserved kid. 

And then Eddie was shot with cupid's arrow. Richie strolled into class giggling with Bill. They sat down together four tables away from Eddie. He had secretly wished they sat closer, but Eddie would never get work done. He would admire Richie the whole damn period, and get nothing finished. He was relieved when a tall student blocked his view of Richie. 

“Alright, class let's start by saying a fact about yourself." Mr. Le said and pointed straight at Eddie. His eyes widened and his cheeks flushed. "You go first." 

“Um...I’m Eddie.” 

“Eddie are you deaf?” 

“N-No.” 

“Then I believe you need to pay extra attention. Give me a fun fact, not your name. Do you need a hearing aid? We can go up to the office and get one." 

A portion of the class snickered including Richie. Bill slapped his arm and scowled in disapproval. Eddie began to fidget with the zipper of his fanny pack.

“Sorry, sir. I’m new to Derry and just transferred from New York.” 

“You're rather boring for someone from New York. Alright, who's next?" 

Eddie sighed and stared down at his lap. Large droopy tears swelled in his eyes, and he wiped furiously at them. His lip quivered as he held back a sob or a whimper. Eddie considered himself a crybaby. Not only was he quite sensitive and shy, but he was always crying. His overwhelming anxiety was usually the cause of it. He managed to keep in the tears that day, yet he didn't know if he'd be so fortunate next time. 

*** 

Lunch was awful, yet that was nothing unusual to Eddie. Arriving at a different school, hardly having friends, and an easy bullying target only suggested one thing. Never having anyone to be with throughout lunch, so he had a hiding place. He went to the bathroom, into the largest stall, and silently ate his lunch. Students rarely ever came in and or didn't even regard him. 

Eddie did have Mike and Ben as his friends, yet he didn't want to bother them. They were with their friend group, and he didn't want to force himself in. He had prepared himself a sandwich with strawberries. As he was chewing, he studied the stall wall. It was covered in different writing of all sorts of things. 

Fuck Henry Bowers! 

FEAR IT 

The Losers are the best! 

He giggled at the peculiar writings as he cleaned the strawberry juice off his lips. He didn’t know any of those people or meanings, but they sure were funny. 

Richie Tozier sucks flaming cock. 

“Richie? Wonder if that’s true.” 

An image of Richie on his lap grinding against Eddie's firm cock invaded his mind. Both boys gasping as their hands explored one other. Eddie closed his eyes and ignored the perverted ideas. He didn’t want to think of Richie that way. Richie had more to offer than just being remarkably handsome. 

Then Eddie remembered Richie laughing at him in class. He understood not to overthink it as he meant no harm. He simply thought the teacher's gags were hilarious. Eddie sunk into the floor and pulled his knees up. He could feel the hot tears but blinked them back.  

"Goddamnit Richie." 

*** 

Eddie decided to immediately go home as he didn’t need to check his locker. He advanced down the north hallway towards the nearest exit. 

He unchained his bike and went down the path observing other students. Numerous of them were in groups gossiping and laughing. Some on bikes, motorcycles, or in a car. He started turning the corner into his neighborhood, his face turned away. 

He crashed into someone and was thrust forward. He landed on the cement and scraped his knees. “I’m so sorry!” 

“Watch your path fuckface!” He stared up at the taller boy rising to his feet. He launched Eddie’s bike across the grass and seized him by his shirt collar. “I haven’t seen you around. Are you new?” 

“Y-Yes. I’m Eddie.” 

He slobbers on Eddie's face and launches him to the ground. His virescent eyes pierce daggers into Eddie, and he trembles. 

“The name is Henry Bowers. Remember that name fuckface," Henry said as Eddie's cheeks flushed. Henry wore black jeans with a bright pink leather jacket. "I think you deserve a welcoming gift!” 

He struck Eddie firm in the face and began dragging him away. Eddie hacks up blood and whimpers in distress. He hadn’t suffered a beating in a while and neglected to clench his teeth. Doing this avoided the risk of a broken jaw and less pain.  

“First off, don’t fuck with me or my gang! Unless you want a beating all the time! We call ourselves the Bowers! Understand pipsqueak!?"

"Understood," Eddie hastily replied as Henry kicked him in the stomach. More blood splattered from his mouth and he curled up in pain. “Fuck!" 

“Second, don't ever let me catch you talking shit on us. Now let's see if you're a queer," Henry said pinning Eddie against his figure. His hands skim Eddie's chest and he cowers. "Fucking queer." 

Eddie kicks Henry and shoves him away. He begins tearing at Henry, slashing his face with full force. Henry released him with a grunt and clutched his face. His face was drenched in his blood and claw marks. Eddie rarely clipped his nails, therefore, they were long and sharp.  

“Oh...oh you are so fucking dead!” 

Henry sank to the ground from a sudden punch. Eddie scrambled back his adrenaline subsequently faded. “You trying to start trouble Henry?! You need to leave this goddamn kid alone!” 

The familiar voice was from Mike. 

Chapter Text

  New York could be an unmerciful place on occasion. Eddie has countless memories of walking past teens getting beaten, the odor of marijuana and booze, and the echo of gunshots. New York was a fascinating place, but even it had frightful secrets. Now, as Eddie watched Mike struck Henry, he recalled the city; particularly the beatings. Their shrieks for help, the sound of bones shattering, and the blood wetting the pavement. The guilt overwhelmed him and he vomited. As he gagged out lumps of his lunch, he thinks about those teens. Possibly some of them earned the beating, but others didn't at all. He thinks about some of them even being dead, and he vomits harder. 

He believed he didn't deserve the help he received. Those kids, the countless kids he let get beat never left his mind. He now had cornered himself against the wall, trembling like a leaf. His body throbbed yet he couldn’t concentrate on the pain. His lips bloody and swollen, face covered in purple bruises, and a painful throb in his stomach. 

As Eddie was thinking, Henery succeeded in escaping Mike's grip. Mike put himself between Eddie and Henry. “Leave, unless you want problems with the Losers.” 

“Whatever negro, defend this queer. Watch your back.” 

Once the sound of Henry's footsteps faded, Mike, crouched in front of Eddie. Mike's left cheek was starting to swell and bruise, causing Eddie to pout. “You okay Eddie?” 

“I’m fine.  Be c-careful with my puke." 

“Did he punch you that hard?" Mike asked and Eddie shyly agreed. "I'm glad I could help.” 

Eddie clamped down on his trembling lip, before beginning to sob. Mike pulled him into a hug and Eddie clutched his jacket. His tears smeared the leather and his delicate sobs, made his body quiver. Eddie avoided displaying vulnerable emotions, yet Mike's presence was so soothing.  Mike was like a mother bird, sheltering its chicks, so frightened and small. It provided Eddie the comfort he desired for years.

*** 

Eddie attempted to assure Mike that he could go home, however, the blood drenching his clothes and the odor of puke said otherwise. Eddie slowly cycled behind Mike's motorcycle, as he convinced him to follow him home. 

Mike lived about ten minutes away from Eddie. His residence was on the outskirts of Derry, in the countryside. The path went from pavement to soil, causing Eddie's bike to shudder. Mike explained, that he lived on a farm with his little sister and grandparents. Eddie knew about the passing of Mike's parents and respected him for staying so strong. 

Along the way, Mike described the recent horrifying incidents in Derry. Particularly, the children murders and the "clown". Mike mentioned a girl, Betty Ripson who was found torn in half. Numerous children alleged to see a "demonic clown", but it was never taken seriously. It was fascinating to Eddie, yet not so horrifying to him. In Brooklyn, the sound of sirens, gunshots, and cries were common. Eddie had even witnessed disturbing crime scenes near his home.

As they began approaching the ranch styled house, Eddie couldn't help but admire the detail. The roofline was long and low-pitched, had wide glass windows, the steps were claret bricks spanning to the wooden porch, and the house was enclosed by white fencing. It was a traditional appearance of colonial homes. Birds chirped on the branches of quaking aspen, the grass was flawlessly cut, and a black dog napped beneath the shade. 

“Mikey! You’re late my noble sir. You were going to miss out on tea and biscuits!” Richie said in a shitty British accent. “Oh shit, what happened to you?” 

"Crashed into your papa." 

 "Haha, my dad is fat very clever," Richie scoffed settling a cigarette among his teeth. He ignited the Marlboro cigarette glimpsing at Eddie. “Looks like your short buddy got fucked.  Give him a smooch to make him feel better." 

Beverly rose to her feet hurriedly and caressed Mike’s beaten cheek, then gave it a tender kiss. “Honey, what happened? Are you okay?” 

“I’m fine no need to worry. Can you guys get the first aid kit from the bathroom? Eddie needs more help than I do.” 

She scowled at Eddie, tensing her fist in fury. “If you got beat up defending this kid, I’m going to lose it, Mikey.” 

“Hey, relax Beverly, I did what I had to do. Henry was going to destroy him. Benny go get the kit now, please.” 

Ben did as instructed and the other boys followed, besides Richie.  He lingered on the porch, puffing out clouds of smoke, and his dark eyes fixed on Eddie. Eddie swallowed tensely, as he seized Mike’s arm. He closed his eyes tight as attempted to soothe his breathing. 

“Mike we already have problems with them! I get it you are a considerate person, but you can’t protect everyone! Aren’t we more significant than this kid?! We’re the losers and we are family!” 

“Yes, of course, Beverly,” Mike acknowledged softly. “But I'm not going to allow my friend to get hammered. I have morals and empathy.” 

“Are you assuming I don’t? Do you want to lose someone else again? We already lost-“ 

“Beep beep Beverly," Richie hissed as Bill stood behind him. Bill's lip quivered and his expression was cryptic. “You know better Marsh." 

She sighed, closing her eyes in thought. "Mikey, I’m just fearful of that gang. We are aware of what the Bowers is capable of. I don't want anything happening to you." 

“Bev we are going to be okay. I need you to understand that Eddie is my friend now. He may not be apart of our gang, but he’s my friend. I’m going to support my friends no matter what.” 

Beverly sighed in defeat and her shoulders slumped. She accepted that she couldn't change his mind. “Fine then be careful," She said and pointed at Eddie. "And you Eddie, evade being a punching bag. You won’t make it long in Derry like this.” 

“U-Understood.” 

Beverly spun on her toe and walked inside Mike’s house. As she walked past Richie, she seized his cigarette, bringing it to her lips. Ben came out holding the kit, as Mike made Eddie sit. “You need to put her mouth on a leash, Benny. I mean you can do it in bed why not now?” 

“Beep beep Richie. I got the first aid kit and some water. No offense Eddie, but you stink of vomit. Have some water to get the flavor out." 

Eddie thanked him, before bringing the cup to his lips. Ben dressed the cuts on Eddie’s face, as Mike put ice on his swollen lips. Then Ben did the same for his arms and knees. 

“So your name is Eddie?” Richie asked as Mike tossed the melted ice. The swelling had succumbed considerably. “You’re the kid from New York, right? Can’t believe it the teacher put you on the spot.” 

“Y-Yeah. It was e-embarrassing.” 

“Aw, we got another stutter in Derry. You can join the club with Billy.” 

“I-I don’t have one. I’m just naturally shy. S-Sorry." 

“Look w-what've you done Richie!" Bill said putting ice on Mike's bruise. "S-Stop embarrassing h-him you asshole.” 

“Hey! I didn’t mean to! I’m just curious.” Richie said doing a dramatic motion with his hands. Eddie giggled and his cheeks reddened. “That was cute.” 

“Richie stop hitting on him. Aren’t you dating Greta?” Ben said rolling his eyes. “Ignore him, Richie is kind of special.” 

“Did you just call me retarded?” 

Eddie burst out laughing and covered his mouth. Richie’s response caught him off guard and was hilarious. “You’re funny.” 

“He's flirting too! All the guys and girls want Richard Tozier.” 

“T-Then why are y-you still single trashmouth?” Bill remarked and Richie pouted. “G-Get an actual lover already. You straight p-piece of shit.” 

“Shut up Billy, I got Greta! She's the best girlfriend."

"Yeah, and Betty Ripson is the best living being. Oh, wait turns out she isn't after losing her lower half," Eddie spoke naturally. Abruptly understanding what he said, his eyes bulged. "Shit, I'm sorry that was-" 

"That was a good one!" Richie snorted and threw his head back. "This kid is fucking great! Fucking hilarious!"

The other boys joined in the laughter, approving of Eddie's joke. His nerves relaxed and he began giggling. 

*** 

“So what’d you think?” 

“Everyone is nice, even Beverly.” 

“Yeah, she’s a tough cookie. She is the leader for that reason.” Mike said as they stood in front of Eddie’s house. “Sorry about her words, she doesn’t mean it.” 

“It’s okay Mikey. I'm glad they helped me patch up. I don't deserve it, you know?" 

“Why do you say that? ” 

"T-The kids in Brooklyn. I never h-helped them," Eddie whispered as he looked at his shoes. Tear droplets splattered on his blue converse. "I let them g-get beaten up. I never helped t-them." 

Mike drew him into a hug and stroked his hair. Eddie softly wept into his chest. "I don't fully understand, but I know what happened, was out of your control. You're a good person Eddie, don't forget that." 

“Eddie, get inside before your father gets home!” 

The voice alarmed them and they looked at Eddie’s doorstep. Eddie pulled away awkwardly and waved at his mother. "Hi, mommy!"

 The woman was thin, had short brown curls, wore a white apron, and stood at the door. Her hands were on her hips, then she moved them to clean her glasses. “Eddie, who is this?” 

“This is my friend Mikey!” 

“Hello, ma’am. It’s nice to meet you! You’ve raised a lovely son.” 

“Oh, thank you! Your friend is lovely, I'm glad you made a new friend.” 

“Thanks, mommy. I have to go inside now Mikey, I’ll see you tomorrow right?” 

“Yeah of course Eddie. Don't be so harsh on yourself, alright? Take care of your injuries.” 

“I will Mikey, thank you. I’m glad I met you.” 

“Me too Eddie.” 

*** 

Eddie swayed his feet beneath the dining table, as he slurped his noodles. His father eyed him curiously, as Eddie was more cheery than usual. “Thank you for dinner.” 

Frank Kaspbrak was a tall exquisite gentleman. He was regularly dressed in a buttoned-up shirt with cuffed jeans. He used most of the family allowance to keep this image. It bothered Eddie and Sonia, but neither dared to complain. 

“Was your first day that good? Haven't seen you this happy in a while.”

 “Yeah, I made two friends.” 

“An actual friend? Not just a classmate or a bully.” 

“He did Frank. His name is Mike, he's a nice boy. I’ve seen him working at the meat market a few times.” 

“Well, congratulations Eddie.” 

“Thank you, father! He lives on a big farm and has other friends too! They all own motorcycles and are this cool gang. I've met most of them, and they're nice."

Sonia dropped her fork and Frank scrapped his knife, causing the plate to screech. His mother studied the floor and his father glared. Eddie sunk into his seat, his legs beginning to tremble. “Is t-that b-bad?” 

“They sound like a biker gang. You know better than being around those people. They aren’t a good influence and could hurt you."

“N-No they haven’t hurt anyone! They just like being in a group to look out for-” 

“You stay away, understood?" 

“I want more friends. Please, this is the only-” 

Frank lurched over the table and Sonia gasped. He seized Eddie by his shirt collar, pulling him close. Eddie whimpered, putting up his trembling hands in defense. “Have you understood Edward? Or do I need to give you a fucking beating?” 

“N-No. Understood.” 

He let go of Eddie, allowing him to fall limp into his chair. Frank, simply went back to conversing with Sonia, as if nothing had happened. She gave Eddie a look of pity, clutching his hand beneath the table. 

*** 

Eddie never mentioned the dinner-table incident to Mike. He didn’t want to scare Mike or make him angry. Instead, he told Mike about his life in New York. He may have sugar-coated, leaving some details out, but he wasn’t ready to tell him the truth. The frightful city he endured in New York, his horrible home life, and why he barely had friends. 

Mike in return, explained the losers gang. He told Eddie they never committed crimes (Richie and Bev did once). They weren’t like the Brooklyn gangs, instead, it was just a title. They just wanted to sound cool in eighth grade. They were losers in middle school, which was the origin of the gang name. 

“Interesting, how did you guys afford the motorcycles?” Eddie questioned taking a bite of his sandwich. “Those things are expensive.” 

“Richie got one for his 15th birthday. After that, we all got one in about a year. I worked hard on the farm and meat market, Richie gifted Bev’s, Ben got a job, and Bill got one as a birthday gift.” 

“Woah hold up, Richie could afford to gift one?”

“He was born into a wealthy family. One of the wealthiest in our town. His mother is a business marketer and his father is a famous dentist.” 

“Famous dentist?” Eddie snorted at the silly title. “I’ve never heard that before.” 

“Yeah, ridiculous huh? Modifying teeth for celebrities pays good cash."

Eddie and Mike would twice a week during lunch. Mike told the losers, he attended tutoring during Wednesdays and Fridays lunchtimes. In reality, he escaped to the library to be with Eddie. 

“We should invite Ben. Are you guys getting along?” 

“Yeah, he's always with Beverly though. It's hard for us to talk often since you know how she feels about me.” 

“She means no harm, Eddie. She just has her quirks. Maybe one day she’ll even let you join the losers.” 

He observed the bond the losers shared, craving it. He craved to have that type of emotional and physical connection. Eddie has often thought about romantic partners. The desire to have someone kiss him, straddle him, and make him feel loved. However, his desire for friendship was stronger. He solely wanted someone or even various people to call his best friends, his family. 

He never expressed these thoughts and desires to anyone, not even his parents. He felt weak and pathetic saying it out loud, yet perhaps Mike would be the first. Eddie still held his barriers with Mike, fearing him to leave.

“I hope so Mikey. You’re all nice people.” 

“Thanks, Eddie. You’re a nice kid too.” Mike said with a soft smile, then his face paled. “Excuse my language, fuck.” 

“Mike? E-Eddie? What a-are you doing h-here?” Bill asked as he stood in the library hall, Ben by his side. “I-I thought you had t-tutoring?” 

“Uhhh he’s tutoring me?” 

“Eddie you said that as a question at least be confident. We won’t tell Bev, she wanted to be alone with Richie today. We came here to relax." 

“Well come sit my fine gentlemen,” Mike said patting the seats next to him. Ben and Bill sat down with grins. “Me and Eddie we’re discussing how to skin Henry into a coat.” 

“M-Mikey! We're not!” 

Bill snickered, as Mike wrapped his arm around him. Bill slipped closer into his chest, closing his eyes. Eddie wiggled his eyebrows and Mike flipped him off. 

“So E-Eddie, what’s y-your backstory?” 

“I moved from New York during the summer. My dad got a better job offering here so we took it. I like it better here, more peaceful then Brooklyn.” 

“It wasn't two years ago, jeez. The big city seems more interesting, everything here in Derry is boring,” Mike said as Bill played with his curls. “I’ve lived here my whole life. The killings were the only 'exciting' event.” 

“Our comic book stores are cheaper! Isn’t that a good thing Mikey?” Ben chirped. “I bet Brooklyn is expensive! We should go someday, Eddie!” 

“I suppose it is Benny. Good idea, you should come with us on Saturday Eddie.” 

“C-Can I c-come too?” 

“Of course you can Billy. What do you say, Eddie?” 

“You guys mean it?” 

“Of course we do! You’re our friend.” 

“I’m Bill’s friend too?” 

The question slipped out in a somber tone. Eddie wasn’t sad, he was actually quite happy, yet the fear abandonment lingered. Perhaps it was also the fear that they didn’t like him at all. 

“Y-Yeah. You’re my friend t-too Eddie,” Bill said prompting Eddie to smile. “Eddie c-can I ask something?” 

“Sure Bill.” 

“Did y-you have f-friends at your old school?” 

All the lies he had planned for this moment dissolved. The made-up stories, made-up names, and numbers, all gone. He was left with just reality, the unfortunate truth about Eddie’s social life. “I’ve never had a true friend, not since elementary." 

Silence fell upon the four boys until Bill pulled away from Mikey. “Why n-not Eddie?” 

“I’m gay.” 

Mike, Ben, and Bill looked at one another, then at Eddie. Eddie couldn’t understand their expressions, this was more due to the burning tears. He grabbed his notebook in a swift movement, standing to his feet. He shoved the chair back, bolting out of the library. 

Eddie didn't feel accepted and ran away, again. 

Chapter Text

   Derry isn't accepting Eddie, should've kept your dirty secret to yourself. Why'd you tell them, huh, Eddie?

Eddie placed his comic book on the bedsheets, sighing. It was a blistering Saturday afternoon and Eddie was melting. His skin covered in beads of sweat, his brown strands clung to his temple, and his clothes stuck to his skin. Derry in summer was hell, it made Eddie miss the Brooklyn summer. 

Weekends displeased Eddie, as he never had plans. He would read comic books, do chores, or watch television with his parents. The routine grew dull, but he couldn't go out. He had no friends, money to spend, or was fearful of the streets.  

Eddie didn't go to school, following the incident. He succeeded in making himself vomit, to convince his parents that he was sick. He hadn't left his house since, staying in his room all day. The earlier conversation with his mother kept him in thought. 

"Eddie bear, what happened to that nice boy? Why won't you go see him?"

"I don't want to get him sick."

"I know you aren't sick Eddie," She sighed, taking Eddie's palm. "Did he find out? About you know...?" 

"I don't want to talk about. Please, mommy." 

Then Eddie thought about the first time he came out. It was months before they moved to Derry, and they still lived in Brooklyn. 

***

"I'm gay, I only like boys." 

Frank and Sonia stared at their son in disbelief. He retained the timid smile on his face, the panic settling in. Eddie wanted them to say something, anything. They could call him a faggot, fairy, or just not care. He simply wanted a sign that they understood. 

"Edward, are you sure? Do you realize what you're saying?" 

"Honey, perhaps you need to meet a charming girl. I know you struggle to talk to people, but that doesn't mean you're gay." Sonia said with a weak smile. She wasn't angry, she was terrified. "How do you even know?" 

"I've never liked girls, only guys. I'm sorry." 

Frank groaned, standing to his feet. Eddie leaned back, watching Frank pace back and forth. "D-Dad?" 

Frank lurched toward, striking Eddie firmly across his face. The slap sent a wave of pain, causing Eddie to shriek. His head moved from the impact, and he grasped his bruised cheek. "My son is a faggot, a fucking disgrace!"

"F-Frank relax, you're scaring the boy." 

Eddie appreciated his mother attempting to defend him, yet she couldn't do much to stop him. "Eddie you can't date boys, okay? It's fine for you to like them, but no dating?"  

"I won't, I just needed to be honest! That's o-okay right?" 

"Stop defending his sins, Sonia! You know, I'm glad I got the job in Derry. You know the reputation there right?" 

"Frank stop it." 

"They don't accept faggots!" Frank shrieked in Eddie's face. He winced, shutting his eyes. "This gay man was murdered a few months ago! You want that to be you too?! Unless you want to be safe, you stop this shit!" 

DERRY DOESN'T WANT FAGS

*** 

His parents never spoke about the situation, hardly even his sexuality. He was astounded, they didn't when they learned of Mike. Especially, when his mother watched Eddie hug him. 

"Eddie bear, come down here!" 

Eddie got to his feet, rushing down the stairs. He abruptly stopped in front of Sonia, as she handed him a paper. "What is this?" 

"I need you to go grocery shopping. I'm going to make pasta and I'm missing some ingredients." 

"Sure mommy," Eddie acknowledged scanning the list. He needed to buy sauce and meatballs, which he could do in ten minutes. "This is all?" 

"Mhm, here you go. Go to the meat market for the meatballs," Sonia said handing him a handful of cash. "Buy yourself a sweet, don't tell Frank." 

"Okay, mommy, thank you," Eddie said kissing her cheek. He watched her face light up, her cheeks tinting. "I'll be fast!" 

*** 

Eddie hurried down the streets, looking forward. He ignored any sounds, voices, or movement around him. He was conscious of how unsafe he was cycling, yet he didn't care. He desired the comfort of his bedsheets, to hide away from the world. 

His first destination was the Derry meat market. The market was small and square-shaped. Two of the walls, blocked by stands, the other wall entrance to the freezer. The glass stands contained various kinds of meat with their prices. Eddie scanned the stands until he noticed the meatballs. They were heaped in a delicate mass of brown meaty balls, $3 per pound. 

"Mike we got a customer! Come take his order!" 

Eddie cowered at the familiar name, as footsteps approached behind the stand. "Good afternoon, what would you wish to order?" 

"C-Can I have a pound of meatballs?" 

"Eddie, It's good to see you," Mike said with a radiant smile, opening the glass stand. His gloved hands started grabbing handfuls of meatballs. "How have you been?" 

Eddie couldn't speak, his voice caught in his throat. His hands fidgeted in his pockets, as he walked to the cash register. Mike frowned, his eyes full of worry. "That'll be 3.25." 

"Hey, Eddie you okay?" Mike asked giving him a bag, as Eddie paid. Eddie took it gently, bringing it to his chest. The tears swelled, getting heavier. "Can we talk about what happened?" 

"There's no faggot pride in Derry, Edward." 

 Eddie bolted out the door, swiftly getting on his bike. He didn't want to get hurt again, he couldn't bear it. He endured it in Brooklyn, but he couldn't withstand it again. 

*** 

Eddie returned the bags of ingredients to Sonia, swirling a popsicle in his mouth. "Did I get enough?" 

"Yes thank you, Eddie," Sonia said as Eddie took out a pack of bubble gum. He shyly tapped her, getting her attention. "Yes?" 

"I got you something," Eddie said setting it in her palms. "I hope you like it." 

"Thank you, Eddie," Sonia said tousling his hair, a symbol of affection. "Pasta will be ready in an hour." 

He nodded, turning to go back to his room. A knock on the door interrupted him, as he stood at the stairs. His mother was busy cooking, so he opened the door shyly. Mike, Ben, and Bill stood on his steps. 

Eddie's hand reached to close the door, but Ben prevented him. "Eddie, can we just talk?" 

"E-Eddie, we a-aren't angry. H-Hear us out." 

His instincts told him to run like he always did. He would escape a beating, name-calling, and embarrassment. He wouldn't get hurt again, he hated getting hurt. 

"O-Okay, let me tell my mom," Eddie whispered returning to his mother. He dumped the liquefying popsicle in the trash, as he grabbed his fanny pack. "Mommy, I'm going to go out with friends. Is that okay?" 

"That's fine Eddie," She chirped still turned away. "Dinner will be in the microwave, don't come home so late." 

Eddie shut the door and pulled his bike from the brush. He evaded eye contact, anxious in the silent air. "W-Where we going?" 

"M-My house. Is t-that okay Eddie?" 

"That's fine." 

*** 

Bill lived down the street, in an American Foursquare house. It was a rectangular footprint, with a front concrete porch. The brick cylinders maintain the slanted roof, large windows with white surroundings, and the surface was an olive shade. They left their bicycles in Bill's garage, where his dad was working. 

"H-Hey, dad. C-Can we leave our b-bikes here?" 

"Sure," Zack Denbrough said without glancing from his blueprints. "Now go along, I'm working." 

Bill nodded with downcast eyes, taking the boys inside. Eddie found it unusual that Bill's father didn't properly greet him. Bill was a nice boy, therefore Eddie assumed he had nice parents. 

"M-Mom, are you home?" Bill said scanning his kitchen, then the living room. He found his mother knitting and watching television. "My f-friends are over right now, we'll b-be upstairs." 

"Stop stuttering, it's irritating Bill." 

"Sorry, m-mom." 

Eddie had overheard the awkward conversation, wishing he hadn't. Bill couldn't control his stutter, yet he tried. He didn't understand why his mother stated something so unnecessary. 

"Do y-you guys w-want any snacks?" 

"No Billy we are okay," Mike said glancing at the others. They agreed as Bill shut his bedroom door. "Now that we're here, let's just talk." 

Bill's bedroom had four windows draped with blue drapes, sunlight poured in, making the oak floor shine. The wall was covered in band and movie posters, he had a globe on his desk, and a bookshelf filled with random artifacts. Eddie's eyes landed on a framed photo of Bill's family. 

Bill was standing next to a smaller boy, his arms wrapped around him. They both had big smiles as their parents stood behind them, all looking happy. Where was that little boy now, it had to be Bill's brother? Eddie didn't ask, nervous about the perhaps sensitive topic. 

"Eddie, why have you been avoiding us?" Ben asked he got closer to Eddie's side. Eddie avoided his glance, beginning to fidget. "Did we do something wrong?" 

"Y-You didn't do anything wrong," Eddie exhaled. "I just freaked out." 

"Why? You just told us you were gay, you didn't kill anybody." 

EDDIE KASPBRAK THE FAGGOT! 

"I did in Brooklyn, that's how everyone made me feel." 

Eddie spilled it all out. 

*** 

Eddie set the chapstick inside his pocket, as he hurried to the door. He opened the door, greeting the taller teen. "Hi, Charlie!" 

"Hey Eddie," he said as his shaggy blonde hair hid his face. He ruffled Eddie's hair, as he walked past him. "Your parents aren't home bud?" 

"Yeah we got the house to ourselves," Eddie responded smiling with tinted cheeks. "I want to talk to you about something." 

Charlie was Eddie's best and only friend. They were partners in a summer art class, becoming close during Eddie's freshman year. Charlie was two years older than him, yet that never bothered them. They would cycle together to the ice cream shop, play street fighter in Charlie's apartment, and did their homework together. 

Eddie recognized that he liked Charlie more than a friend. His heart raced when their hands touched, his laugh made butterflies flutter in his stomach, and a sensation spread in his groin when Charlie was shirtless.  

Eddie had spoken about homosexuality before, and Charlie always said it didn't trouble him. This gave Eddie a beacon of hope not for Charlie to like him back, but to accept him. Now that he was weeks away from moving, he had to tell him. 

"What's up to Eddie?" Charlie asked lying next to Eddie on his couch. He swung his arm around his shoulders, pulling him closer. "You dying or something?" 

"No I wish," Eddie giggled and Charlie grinned. "I need to tell you something important. I've been meaning to tell you." 

"Well, spill the beans, Eddie!" 

"Please don't react badly. We're best friends for a reason right?" 

"Yep! Don't worry Eddie just tell me already! The suspense is killing me." 

"I'm gay," Eddie blurted out his eyes darting away. "I have a crush on you too, I-I hope this doesn't harm our friendship." 

Charlie drew his arm away, yet he nevertheless smiled. Eddie was uneased and he began fidgeting. "That's fine dude." 

"Really?! I was worried you didn't want to be friends anymore," Eddie said, opening the drawer near the couch. He extracted a brown bag full of mixtapes. "So now that is over, I got some music we can-" 

"Eddie I got to go. I'll talk to you on Monday," Charlie said rising to his feet. Eddie seized his arm, keeping him back. "I need to fucking go! Don't touch me, please." 

"Wait, Charlie, I'm sorry!" Eddie cried as he tore away and quickly went outside. He unlocked the door to his red Porsche 968, then turned on the engine. "You can't leave!" 

 Charlie disappeared that evening, leaving Eddie in tears. He slumped to his knees, burying his face into his palms. It got worse when he returned to school, as he was greeted to a note on his locker.

So you got the hots for Charlie? We don't want faggots in Brooklyn! 

Eddie felt the stares and whispers tearing him, as he strolled to class. It frightened him, making his anxiety monstrous. Worst of all had been Charlie, who Eddie confronted when he was with his friends. 

"Charlie, can we talk?" 

"Fuck off faggot! You going to get us all infected with aids," One of the boys hissed. He took a bottle of juice, then poured it all over Eddie. "Whoops sorry!" 

Charlie stared at his feet, as the others burst into laughter. Eddie shifted his dripping hair out his eyes, then stared up at Charlie. "Aren't we best friends?" 

"Leave Eddie." 

Eddie was relieved to move to Derry, but only for a single reason. He fled the reputation as the fairy of Brooklyn. 

*** 

Eddie guided his fingers to his damp cheek, as he paused to properly breathe. During his ramble, he hadn't stopped once or noticed the tears. 

"Eddie, christ I'm sorry," Mikey said keeping him in a tight embrace. Ben placed his arm around Eddie, as Bill took his shaking palms. "We would never treat you like that." 

"Y-Yeah Eddie. L-Like my f-friend would've said," Bill briefly paused as Mike, peered at him with concern. "Be who you w-want to be. B-Be proud." 

Eddie concealed his face in Mike's neck, as his face scrunched. In the last attempt to hold back his sobs he spoke. "So y-you guys accept me?" 

"Of course we do Eddie," Mike said as he stroked his back. "Want to know something funny?" 

"W-What is it?" 

"I like guys and girls," Mike said with a sheepish grin. He glanced at Bill who nodded with approval. "Bill is gay." 

"H-Holy shit," Eddie said and suddenly broke into laughter. The three other boys cracked a smile at the scene. "How did I not realize?" 

The emotions struck Eddie like a rush of freezing water. The realization that he was finally accepted for who he was. They didn't push him away, treat him like trash, or beat him with harsh words. They comforted him and loved him. He didn't have to be afraid anymore, never again. Sobs racked his body, as he held onto each boy. Eddie felt at home and he had a family. 

*** 

As they departed Bill's house, they traveled quickly. They had an hour before the comic book store closed, and it was blocks away in the Derry plaza. It had about twenty stores in the area, each selling a unique item or items. The pavement shifted to smooth stone as they entered the plaza, the Paul Bunyan statue overshadowing them. 

The plaza was full of life as crowds of teens, families, and children scattered about. Eddie smiled as the sun hit his face, causing his freckles to glimmer on his tan cheeks  

"Here we are," Mike announced, parking his motorcycle on a stone pillar. "You can chain your bike over there Eddie." 

 Eddie got the opportunity to examine the exterior of the store. It was coated in flaking paint, had wide windows, and a bright sign reading, "Derry Comics". 

"I swear it looks better inside," Ben said dragging Eddie towards the door. The enthusiasm glistened in his eyes, as he was eager to show the store. "Hurry up you guys!" 

Eddie beamed as his eyes settled on the shelves, stuffed with every kind of comic he could imagine. The tall white shelves were packed comics, records, mixtapes, and trading cards. About a dozen glass shelves were secured to the wall, encasing expensive figurines. The only employee was a girl with blonde wavy hair. Her name tag read "Greta" and she was typing away on an Apple Macintosh. 

"This place is incredible! Much bigger than the one in Brooklyn!" 

"G-Glad you l-like it." 

Ben showed Eddie each shelf, as he explained how the comics were arranged. His eyes took in the vibrant colors of each book, along with the smell. It was a soothing smell, familiar to his childhood.

"Hey nerds," Mike spoke up as they continued to scan the comics. "Bill and I are going to check out Blockbuster. Look for us in there, when you're ready to go." 

"Okay love birds. Now shoo I'm teaching Eddie intellectual information." 

As soon as Bill and Mike we're gone, Eddie asked Ben a question. "Hey, Benny?" 

"Yeah?" 

"Are they dating?" Eddie asked shyly and Ben laughed. Eddie flushed beginning to ramble. "Are they not? I mean it's not bad if they aren't, I just assumed! You know cause like-" 

"Calm down Eddie! It's just funny to me," Ben said quieting his laughter. "They aren't but should be. It's so obvious they are pining after one another, any normal person thinks they are dating." 

"Do they like each other?" 

" I know Mike does at least. Wouldn't doubt it if Bill likes him back." 

"They should date already then," Eddie said picking up a Spider-Man comic. He flipped over the pages, his fingers tracing on the smooth texture. "Has Bill ever dated anyone?" 

"Yeah, he has. It's just his ex-boyfriend is-" 

"Haystack! Didn't expect to find you here!" said a lively booming voice. Eddie's heart hammered into his throat. "Oh, Ed's is here too! Heya Eddie!" 

"E-Ed's?" 

Eddie turned on his heel, promptly regretting it. Richie was in a pair of blue jeans, a black Gucci belt, high white Fila's, and a white tank top. His dense muscles protruded upwards, as his long curls coiled around them. 

 "Yeah, your new nickname! Hope you like it cause it's gonna stick," Richie said smooching Ben's cheek. "Is it just you two?" 

"Jesus, Richie is that a woman's tank top? And Bill and Mike are at Blockbuster," Ben said realizing his mistake. "Shit Richie don't-" 

"Hey first off this is a women's tank top! Your mother wanted me to wear it, so she could have my scent." 

"Oh shut up Richie," Eddie muttered holding back a giggle. 

"Let's make a deal. Let me hang out with you guys, then I won't say a word to Miss Marsh." 

"Richie, of course, you can hang out with us. Is that all?" 

"Mhm! Plus Bev is out of town to see family so she won't see us," Richie said as he pulled out a comic. "So Eddie you like comics?" 

"Y-Yeah, I have loved them since I was a child." 

"Hmm. Who's your favorite hero?" 

"WonderWoman," Eddie chirped proudly as Ben grinned at his sudden confidence. "She is a bad bitch." 

"Oooh, good choice. I'd gladly ride her any day," Richie said causing Ben to laugh. "See Ben would agree but he's got, Bev." 

"Beep beep Richie. You're scaring Eddie." 

"Aww don't be scared Ed's!" Richie said pinching his cheeks and smiling. Eddie reddened and swatted at his face. "The kitty is attacking me." 

"Stop it! Fuck off!" 

"I came to show him the comics. You going to help or not?" Ben said pulling his arm away. "Stop harassing him." 

"Shy boy got character development. Never expected to hear him tell me to fuck off, " Richie remarked drawing comics, as he stacked them in his arms. "Perhaps I'll warm up to you more than I thought." 

"Ugh, Richie you have a girlfriend. Go make out with her at the register," Ben groaned as Richie nodded. He winked at them before walking away. "I swear he's into both, yet he always claims he's straight." 

"Maybe he's not open about it," Eddie said his voice low. He wanted to accept that thought, but he didn't fully believe it. The Losers were so close that he assumed they would know. "I mean I don't know." 

"You might have a point. Richie is pretty closed off emotionally wise, he only opens up to Bev." 

Eddie picked the final comic to buy, then glanced at Ben. "Hope he's okay, also I'm done. Do you want to show me anything else?" 

"No I'm good, let's go babysit Richie. We can come longer another day." 

As they turned the corner, they saw Richie leaning over the counter kissing Greta. He had his fingers tangled in her hair as they kissed. 

"Hey Greta we need to like buy shit," Ben remarked sarcastically. She pulled away and rolled her eyes. "This is a store, not a playboy modeling audition." 

"Are you calling me a slut?" She growled as Richie stood up straight. Ben threw the comics on the desk and she began scanning them. "Watch your friend's mouth." 

"I don't got that power baby." 

"Whatever Rich," she mumbled throwing a wad of gum into her mouth. "That will be $10.23." 

"I'll pay Eddie." 

"Benny don't, it's fine." 

He took the four comics from Eddie and smiled. "It's fine Eddie. A gift for our new friendship." 

"Thank you, Ben," Eddie said and shyly kissed his cheek. Ben flushes in surprise and Richie whistled. "Shut up Richie." 

"Can I get a kissy, Eddie?" 

"Fuck off Richie. Better luck next time." 

They met up with Bill and Mike, then decided to spend the rest of the afternoon together. Richie dragged them to the ice cream shop, then they played video games at Bill's, and then separated at 7:30. 

When Eddie arrived home, he found the house empty. It didn't bother him for once and he heated up his mother's spaghetti. 

"I could get used to this," Eddie said to himself as he twirled his mother's spaghetti. "I really could."

Chapter Text

     Eddie resumed his routine with the Losers for the following month. Beverly was unaware of them, so they kept it hidden from her. They interacted more outside of school, yet they found alternatives during school. 

Ben was always Eddie’s partner in PE, being the only boy patient to work with his asthma. Ben even slowed his mile time, so he could jog with Eddie and motivate him. Then Mike whispers to Eddie throughout their history lessons, regularly getting them in trouble. 

Bill and Richie still sat far from Eddie, yet found ways to talk to him, particularly Richie. He launched paper balls, inscribed with messages such as “I fucked your mom”. Eddie was annoyed with it, yet kept each ball in his locker. Bill did little hand motions from his desk or strolled past Eddie, whispering random words. 

Although, they could only hold up the act for so long. Beverly noticed their unusual behavior, yet the boys continued with the lies. Guilt began to consume them, especially for Ben and Bill. Both boys insisted they tell Beverly soon. This happened two weeks ago, and it hadn't changed. 

Eddie meanwhile, struggled with his developing feelings. The more time he spent with Richie, the stronger they grew. His outrageous flirting drove him insane, yet he endured it. He especially hated it, when he called him Ed’s, but he also kinda liked it too. 

Remarkably, he found himself with Richie most of his time. It was challenging as he's awkward and constantly blushing. He had surges of confidence, in which he would say a sassy comment or a witty joke. Eddie, fortunately, got comfortable around him. He gained control over his blush and finally spoke normally to Richie. 

“Eddie spaghetti,” greeted a voice from Eddie’s bedroom window. He huffed in annoyance, as he opened the window. “Hey princess! You coming or not?” 

“I eat spaghetti in front of you one time! You can’t let that nickname go, ugh I hate you.” 

“You love meee,” Richie said blowing kisses. Eddie flipped him off, struggling to conceal his flushed face. “I’ll meet you in front!” 

Eddie locked the window, then grabbed his fanny pack. He was informed that these chores could be dirty, possibly unsafe. He had prepared a kit with antiseptic wipes, band-aids, gauze pads, his inhaler, and hand sanitizer. As he shoved it into his fanny pack, it bloated due to the restricted space. 

As Eddie locked the door, he saw Richie leaning on the mailbox. He was smoking a cigarette, exhaling foggy puffs. He was in black jeans, black boots, a pink hoodie, and had a chain belt around his hip.  

Eddie found Richie's fashion taste enjoyable, analyzing each new outfit he wore. The first time he saw him he looked like a punk, so he assumed that was his style; that was more of Beverly’s thing. Richie was a wild child with his fashion, some days looking punk, rock, or hipster. 

He wore all types of brands, including expensive ones. Richie particularly cherished Gucci, which he regularly brought their accessories and apparel. Eddie liked Richie for not boasting and being generous. He routinely brought Beverly makeup or offered to order them clothing. 

 He vividly remembers an instance when Richie's style got the best of his hormones. Richie had shown up in ripped jeans, a Guns N Roses tee, and his leather jacket. His typical punk style, but with one significant difference. He had his messy hair in a tidy ponytail exposing his piercings and collarbone tattoo. 

The tattoo said LOSERS in cursive writing with a rose. It stirred as his collarbone protruded upwards with his movements. He had black star earrings, along with two helices on each ear. Eddie savored the scene so much, that he hadn't realized his body's response. To his luck, only Mike noticed, yet he suffered his teasing for days.

 When Eddie was home and in the solitude of his bedroom, he let loose. He moaned as he leaned on his cabinet, his face gleaming with sweat. He tugged his jeans off, wincing as his fingers brushed his hard cock. His cock was long and hard, precum already soaking his tip. 

Eddie didn’t enjoy masturbation as other teenage boys did. When he asked his father about it, he told him it was a sickening act. The view was still rooted in his head, yet now he ignores it. 

Eddie starts stroking himself, as he whines. He desired Richie to be inside of him, thrusting hard, and making him scream. Eddie slumped onto his bedsheets, his legs trembling. 

“Fuck Richie,” Eddie groaned as his thighs quivered. “Let me b-be your slut. Fuck you’re so hot, please fuck my brains out.” 

Eddie cummed a thick shot, his back arching. The semen coated his bare thighs and lower stomach. As his climax relaxed, he pressed into his sheets, his face flushing and immersed in sweat. "O-Oh Richie I love you." 

“Earth to Eddie? We’ve lost him rodger,” Richie said drawing him back into reality. “Are you a vegetable person? No, wait that's not-” 

“Sorry, Richie,” Eddie said scanning his crotch. He didn’t have a hard-on, which relieved him. “Let me get my bike.” 

“Pft Ed’s, that bike can’t keep up with Maggie,” Richie scoffed as he laid his hand on Eddie’s shoulder. “You can just ride with me, I got room.” 

“Maggie? Your motorcycle has a name?” 

“Hey don’t judge! Bill named his Silver,” Richie said as he got on his motorcycle. He patted the space behind him, as Eddie eyed it nervously. “Mine is way better though.” 

“Sure, you do Richie. I’ll take my bike, I insist.” 

“Nonsense, get on.” 

“I rather not,” Eddie said his voice faint and shaky. He held his palms together as they trembled. “R-Richie just give me time.” 

“Hey what’s wrong?” Richie said taking his shaking hands, as his voice softened. “You’ve never ridden a motorcycle?” 

“Y-Yeah, I haven't.” 

" Just hold on tight and I’ll go slow,” Richie said stroking his knuckles. “I promise Ed’s.” 

“Thank you, Richie.” 

Richie boosted Eddie, as his stubby legs squirmed. Then he told Eddie to hold on by his waist, prompting them to blush, yet neither acknowledged it. As the engine sparked to life and they raced down the street, Eddie crashed into Richie’s back. “Slow down Richie!” 

“Sorry, I forgot how fast I ride her,” Richie shouted as he slowed down. ”I always go max speed!" 

“I need to get a motorcycle!” Eddie shouted over the howling wind. “I bet I would suck at riding it!” 

“You can suck and ride other things Eddie!” 

"Beep beep Richie!” 

*** 

As they reached Mike's home, they saw him sitting on the porch with Bill. A black dog yapped at them, which Mike promptly hushed. The Border Collie had a smooth coat and patches of white on her belly. As Eddie climbed off Maggie, the dog began sniffing him. 

“Hey, guys sorry we’re late! Princess Eddie was taking his dear time getting ready.” 

“Shut the fuck up,” Eddie huffed, shoving him. The dog began licking Eddie's face, making him giggle. "Hello to you too!” 

"Lassie, sit! I'm sorry about her, she gets excited," Mike said, as she sat at his feet. Bill approached with buckets, shovels, and bags. "Sorry Billy, let me help." 

“I don’t have many tasks today," Mike continued, taking the buckets from Bill. "First, we need to feed the chickens and clean their coop. Then organize the hale into piles .” 

“Oh my god, you have chickens? Can I please see?” 

“Of course Eddie,” Mike said, as Eddie leaped to his side. “They can be aggressive, so be careful.” 

The group followed Mike to the pasture, towards the red barn. A dirt trail led through the blades of dry grass and weeds. A pen occupied of sheep settled below towering trees. Mike whistled, causing Lassie to dash to the pen. She dwelled near the entrance, observing the sheep like a hawk. 

Eddie pressed against the wired fence, causing the flock to squawk. The chickens resembled one another, except for their unique colors. One of them stood out, as it had fluffy ginger feathers. 

"Do they have names?” Eddie asked inserting his fingers into the wiring. "They are so cute." 

“The spotted one is Susy, the white one is Big Boss, the black one is Mike-“ 

Eddie snorted loudly, hiding his smile with his palm. “That’s horrible, who came up with that?” 

“The amazing Richie Tozier!” Richie said pointing at himself. “I named that chicken proudly, with Mikey's approval!" 

“Yeah, I let him have his fun. The gray one is Silver, chestnut one is Embers, and the fluffy one is Stan.” 

Bill winced at the name “Stan”, his eyes blinked furiously, and his lower lip quivered. Richie pulled away from Eddie, then put his arms around Bill. "Mikey you know-"

“I-I need to m-move on. It’s o-okay.” 

Eddie stepped away, deciding to give them privacy. It was clear Bill had a traumatic incident, but Eddie didn't know about it. He wasn't insulted, as it must've been personal to him. 

Besides, Eddie was only open to Mike. The first Loser he met, and someone he regards as his savior. Mike was informed of Eddie's trauma, including his father's behavior. Eddie didn't desire to tell him, at least not so soon. Accidents happened out of his control. 

*** 

Eddie and Mike were working on a presentation regarding the Enlightenment. The large cardboard had printed pictures of philosophers and their handwriting. Markers, glue sticks, and sticky notes were on spread Eddie’s bed. Mike had borrowed glitter and decorations to make the poster shine. Now covered in glitter, they feel a vast sense of accomplishment. 

“I’d say mission success,” Mike said as they high fived, causing the glitter to splatter. “We should clean up now.” 

“Yeah good idea,” Eddie replied beginning to collect the unused supplies and arranging them into their packages. “I’ll get us a cloth to clean ourselves.” 

Mike nodded as Eddie left the room. He continued to clean up when an unexpected thud, caught his attention 

“FUCKING FAGGOT!” 

 Mike rose to his feet, then pressed his ear against the door. 

“D-Dad stop, please! I have a friend over!” 

“Does it look like I fucking care!? Get the gay shit off your hands, before I throw you down the stairs!” 

“Y-Yes, sir.” 

The door swung open, slamming into Mike’s face. He gasped sharply, then rested his palm on his stinging cheek. 

“Mikey! Fuck, I’m sorry,” Eddie said getting on his knees, setting the damp cloth on his cheek. "I didn't see you.” 

“It’s fine, don't worry,” Mike said with a smile, yet the smile didn’t remain when he noticed Eddie’s face. “Eddie?” 

"Yes?" Eddie said his eyes watery and a bruise on his cheekbone. “Something wrong?” 

Mike pulled him into a hug, causing Eddie to wince. The hug was a simple enough gesture - affection, the beginning of a greater friendship. The arms that held him were soft, yet strong. Eddie sobbed hard, as his entire body shuddered. 

*** 

The wooden door creaked open, as Eddie stepped inside. The chickens ran inside the coop, except for Stan. It clucked aggressively, glaring at Eddie. 

"How’d you get in? The door has a lock.” 

“I think your lock disappeared,” Eddie replied, his focus on the chicken. A clicking noise left his lips, as he got to his knees. "Hello, chicken." 

“Stacy always forgets the lock! Eddie, he’s aggressive. Be careful." 

“I'll be fine,” Eddie said inching closer. The chicken did the same, it’s feathers ruffling the closer he got. “ Yeah, I see you. Sassy ass chicken.” 

The three boys giggled outside the cage, watching intensively. Eddie bit his lip, inching his palm forward. Eddie stroked its bright beak and laughed. 

“Holy fucknuts. You did it, you crazy bitch!” 

“I think you're the craziest,” Eddie said turning to smirk at Richie. The chicken took the opportunity, then nipped at his palm. “Agh!” 

“Oh, fuck Eddie get out of there! Eddie, are you listening?” 

Eddie ignored him, eyeing the chicken as it continued to peck. It pecked so hard, that blood trickles below his fingers. His fingers stroked it's long feathers, as the chicken’s posture relaxed. Eddie put his arms beneath its body, pulling it to his chest. “You are a softie Stan.” 

“What the fuck! We just got showed off by a midget!” 

“Shut up trashmouth,” Eddie murmured as they stepped into the coop. Stan tenses, yet Eddie reassures him with gentle strokes. “You need to relax, so they know you aren't a threat. Isn’t that right Stan?” 

Stan made a soft cluck, as it sunk into Eddie’s arms. Bill’s eyes softened, as he grazed one of its feathers. 

“Well, it was fun to watch you tame such a violent creature. Now, let’s get you a band-aid and start the dirty work.” 

*** 

Eddie was tasked with gathering the eggs, Richie replaced the straw, Bill fed the chickens (much harder than it sounds), and Mike swept the floor. Overall, it took about an hour to finish, but they were prideful with the result. 

As Mike attached the lock, Richie gulped water from a bottle, which he then gave to Eddie. “Oh man, I'm done!"  

“You barely did anything,” Eddie said pausing from his drink. He passed it to Mike, as he plucked straw out of Richie's hair. “Maybe you did work hard, you have straw in your hair." 

“Stacy is right, you do look homeless.” 

“Shut up Mikey. Dammit, this is a pain with my gorgeous curls,” Richie said twirling his strands. “Okay, maybe I do need a haircut." 

“You're b-beginning to r-resemble Rapunzel,” Bill giggled, assisting Mike with opening the barn. “You're h-hair is terribly l-long.” 

“You are so funny Big Bill!" 

“Y-You’re such a b-bully.” 

As the doors squeaked open, the sunlight illuminated the space. The top layer of the barn was coated with stacks of hay. Each stack wrapped in brown cloth, holding it together. They had to unfasten each one, then throw it into three heaps. 

“There are about forty bales, so we each can do ten. It should take us about an hour,” Mike explained as they scaled the ladder. “Eddie and Richie can work on the right side, as Bill helps me? Is that okay Billy?” 

“O-Of course Mikey.” 

“Oh just fuck each other already!” Richie howled, pulling Eddie to his side. “I’m attempting to win a bet!” 

“Shut up Richie! Get your work started before you get tired!” 

“Oh, how tiring can this be Mikey?”  

*** 

Richie regrets underestimating Mike’s statement as, after twenty minutes, he became tired. Disentangling the bales became a challenge, in the burning barn. His moist palms made it challenging to separate the straw. Eddie appeared to have the same problem, as fussed in frustration. 

So far, Bill and Mike had the best pile. They had three bales to go, as Richie and Eddie had five. Even with Eddie’s help, they were slow. 

“Let me throw you into a pile!” Richie pleaded as he finished their finale bale. “Please Eddie spaghetti!” 

“No Richie, I could get hurt or die!” 

“We've done it b-before. Give it a-a shot Eddie.” 

“I’ll think about it okay?"  

“Billy and I are going to get snacks! We'll bring you guys something!"

As they left them alone, both boys blushed. They realized they're completely alone, which was rare. Richie eventually broke the tense silence. “Woohoo, that was boring!”

“I didn’t think it was too bad,” Eddie said suspending his feet above the edge. "You are just lazy.” 

“I am not! How could you say such a thing?” Richie said throwing his hands in the air, causing Eddie to roll his eyes. “Ed’s broke me!” 

“I didn’t do shit. Shut up, Richie.” 

“What was that Ed’s?” Richie said abruptly seizing him by his waist. Eddie shrieked, as he dangled over his shoulder. “It’s time to take off! I repeat Kaspbrak is taking off!"

“Richie, don't you dare!” 

Richie launched Eddie below, right into the pile. He opened his eyes in shock, as he fell back. He attempted to hold onto Richie, yet failed. Suspended in the air, he shut his eyes, letting himself ease. He landed in the pile of delicate thick hay, a giggle leaving his lips. Richie plunged next to him, as he howled. Now, both boys were covered in hay and laughing like children.

“Fuck you, Richie!” 

“Fuck me yourself coward,” Richie said smirking, as he wiggled his eyebrows. He looked forward, suddenly turning pale. “Oh fuck.” 

“What is it?” Eddie said glancing and saw Beverly Marsh stand before them. “Please tell me I hit my head.” 

“No, I see her too. Hey, Bev!” 

“So I was right all along. I fucking knew it when Ben was being weird today,” She hissed as Bill and Mike watched. Ben was at her side, holding her back. “You all lied to me!” 

“Bev it’s not how it looks! Eddie just joined us since he’s Mikey’s friend,” Richie explained, as Eddie shifted closer. “Right Eddie?” 

“Y-Yeah.” 

“Stop lying to me, all of you!” Beverly said pulling away from Ben. “Even my boyfriend lied!” 

“Beverly we didn’t want to hurt you.” 

“Well you did already! I knew that something was wrong! You all have been acting weird! I fucking knew it!" She said, getting in Eddie's face. “It’s all your fucking fault!"  

“Leave Eddie out of this,” Richie said pushing Eddie behind him. “This was our idea to hang out with him in secret! This is all your fault!" 

“How is this my fault!? You could have just told me! Fuck off with the excuses trashmouth!” 

Richie's pale face was becoming redder by the second, his eyebrows furrowed, and his hands trembled “Look, Beverley, you want to know why we didn’t tell you? Because you are a fucking bitch to Eddie! All you do is talk shit on him!" 

“Both of you relax! Let’s talk this out.” 

“Nothing to talk about Mikey. Did you just call me a bitch? Who do you think you are trashmouth. Since when do you defend fairies?” 

The word came out with such a powerful sting, that Eddie winced. Bill’s eyes widened at the harsh term, feeling a twinge of hurt. “B-Beverly not right.” 

“Oh, you're crossing a fucking line Beverly! You can be all overprotective and shit, but you don’t throw that term around.” Richie snarled his fist curling. Mike clutched his arm with such force, that he stumbled. “Let go, Mikey.” 

“Bill and Ben, take Richie inside.” 

“Since when do you command orders?” 

“Do it Richie for fuck's sake,” Mike said, his tone sharp with frustration. “Listen to me for once.” 

Seeing Mike furious was enough to hush Richie. He signed, bringing Eddie with him by his arm. Eddie silently followed, holding his head low.  

"Eddie, stay here." 

“No way Mikey, he's not staying. Not with this bitch." 

“R-Richie it's okay. I'll stay, just go." 

Richie sighed in defeat, then followed Ben and Bill out. 

“You know not to say words like that. You better apologize to Bill and Eddie," Mike said sternly. "You're harsh to Eddie, I won't allow it. He doesn’t have to be apart of the losers, but we care for him. He's our friend."  

“I know and I'm sorry," Beverly said with a thick exhale. "You're so trusting of him, makes me sick," She said, her fist hurling into the wall. “I don't want to replace him." 

“We aren’t replacing Stanley, we never will!” 

“Don’t say his fucking name!” Beverly cried as tears slip on her rosy cheeks. She rubbed at her eyes, causing her eyeliner to smear. “You know I hate it, I hate hearing it.” 

Her sturdy posture appeared to shrink, like a deer caught in headlights. Her shoulders slumped, her fist eased, and she covered her face. Mike placed his hand on her shoulder, then pulled her into a hug. 

Eddie stood frozen in place, his whole body shaking. He didn’t know what to do or say, his body telling him to run. He wanted to run back home, to Brooklyn, or anywhere, away from Derry. He was breaking another friendship, a family. 

RUN EDDIE RUN RUN RUN 

And he did, running like he never had before. Mike called after him, yet his voice was a blur. He ran across the dirt path, as the weeds tickled at his thighs. His body pulsed in pain, his lungs stinging, as his asthma progressively grew worse. Walking back into town was a ten-minute walk, it took Eddie five minutes. 

Once Eddie felt cement under his feet, he collapsed. He pulled himself underneath an oak tree, groaning audibly. He coughed and heaved, his trembling hands searching for his inhaler. After emptying the contents of his fanny pack, he found it. With his shaking fingers, he brought it up to his lips. 

As he pulled the trigger, the inhaler hardly relieved. He tossed it aside, then began wheezing. Strings and splats of salvia pooled on the dirt, as he gagged. “I-I'm f-fucking dying.” 

 His jaw cramped up from the coughing, and his stomach lurched. He clutched his inhaler, bringing it to his lips. He inhaled over and over, the pain easing. Most of the prescription was finished, so he would have to refill. He worried about his father's reaction, yet he forced the feeling away. As Eddie concentrated on calming down, he didn't see Mike. He had run after Eddie, to be sure he was okay. 

"Eddie, look at me! I'll call an ambulance!” Mike said, grabbing Eddie’s shaking hand. “I should have brought someone with me!” 

“I-I’m fine,” Eddie gasped, as his lungs untightened. He rested against Mike, taking a deep breath. “I’ve has worse.” 

“I hate it when you say that! I don’t like it that you’ve had worse,” Mike said, helping him to his feet. “Let’s take you home, you're riding back with me.” 

“O-Okay Mikey. Thank you.” 

*** 

Eddie took his emergency medication, then sipped water. Mike observed him from his bed, as he was anxious that Eddie would collapse. 

“I can’t believe it you ran that far, especially with your asthma,” Mike sighed, working his fingers into his hair. “You can’t be doing that.” 

“I know, but I’m fine right? All that matters.” 

“Richie is going to kill you when he finds out. You won't survive that,” Mike grinned, as Eddie laid next to him. “He’s going to scold you so much.” 

“Ugh, I want to avoid that. Let’s run the mile and trigger another asthma attack. This time I’ll die,” Eddie giggles, as Mike playfully slaps him. “I’m just kidding.” 

“Good, you tease! Though, why did you run away? We need to talk." 

Eddie tensed, but Mike puts a reassuring grip on his shoulder. “I’m sorry about her. She can be rough, but it's only for good intentions. I can’t tell you everything, but she has her reasons. We lost a close friend a few years back. Since then, she doesn't want our group to spilt, or accept new people." 

“Stanley? Was that his name?”

“Yeah, Stan the man. Ever since he passed away, she's changed. We all did, especially Bill. Still, doesn't excuse her actions, and she needs to accept that you're our friend. We aren’t replacing Stanley, you're your own person. We all love and care about you, Beverly will too. She always turns around."

“I’m sorry about your loss. I don’t want to replace him either. I just really like being with you guys,” Eddie paused, his breath caught in his throat. “You guys treat me like a human, not like a joke.” 

“You didn't deserve the treatment you had in the past, you deserved better,” Mike said, drawing him near his chest. “We'll always be here." 

Eddie pressed his face against his neck, his lips caressing his jaw. “You’re all too nice, and it scares me.” 

Eddie met Mike’s gaze, as he cupped his cheek. He clasped their lips together, as Mike dipped into the kiss. As Eddie pulled away, his face reddened. "I don’t know what-.” 

“It's fine Eddie, you're so cute,” Mike giggled. “I only see you as a friend, as my heart is already taken." 

“Big Bill is your cupid."  

“Ugh is that obvious?” Mike groaned. “I’ve liked him since I was thirteen, so embarrassing.” 

“Ask him out, he feels the same towards you. It's obvious to everyone."  

“I wish I could already, It’s not that easy,” Mike said, his gaze moving to Eddie’s window. A robin was perched on a branch, chirping softly. “He is moving on from someone. I don’t know if he’s ready to start dating.” 

“I hope someday you guys can tie the knot,” Eddie said, his fingers tracing over his lips. “Dammit, Mike you took my virginity.” 

“I what?” 

“Sorry, I worded that horribly,” Eddie giggled and Mike relaxed. “You were my first kiss.” 

“Seriously? Fuck, Eddie, you're so freaking cute! You just had your first kiss at sixteen! I had mine at thirteen with Richie.” 

“Richie? Seriously that’s weird.” 

“You jealous? I can ask him to kiss you too." 

“I’m not jealous! You can kiss him all day!” 

“Too bad, I got Billy in my heart! Your sexual fantasies can’t always be true, except that one time.” 

“Oh my god shut up Mikey! You saw my boner once and never let it go.” 

Mike laughed, holding Eddie closer. They knew Eddie was attracted to Richie, yet Mike didn't acknowledge it. Eddie was thankful for this, as he still wasn't content with his feelings. 

“Going back to the topic, you're still our friend. Beverly just wants to talk to you, if that’s okay?” 

“That's fine. I'm happy Mikey." 

“Me too Eddie." 

 

Chapter Text

 The afternoon was at a relaxing period, as a fresh breeze blew through the boiling day. Fall was beginning to near Derry, as the cold began to grow. Eddie found the day quite comforting, especially since cycling was more comfortable. 

He was going to Mike's house to talk to Beverly, and he was nervous. He carried his inhaler and anxiety medication (it was only prescribed for emergencies, but he wanted to be cautious). He set his bike next to the three motorcycles, as Richie, Mike, and Beverly was here. He knocked on the door, and it instantly flung open. Richie wasn't wearing his glasses, and his hair was a mess. Eddie would've snickered, instead, he shyly waved. 

"Hey, Richie." 

 He hugged Eddie tightly, causing him to yelp in surprise. “Fucking Ed’s, why didn’t you tell me about the asthma attack? I got so scared.” 

“I’m sorry Rich,” Eddie murmured his fingers tangling in his locks and his face hot. “I didn’t want to worry you, but I’m okay.” 

"Don't ever do that again. Running to Derry, you crazy fucker,” Richie mumbled, his warm breath tickling Eddie's neck. “Don’t do stupid shit like that. Don't hide anything from me either."  

“Yeah, Richie. I’ll try.” 

Richie didn’t know Eddie was gay. He intended to tell him, but he was terrified. They had an affectionate friendship, and he worried it would defuse. He was affectionate with the other boys but was different with Eddie. Everyone knew it, including Eddie himself. 

What if he realizes I like him? Perhaps he'll distance himself from me. I don't want to lose him too. 

Richie pulled away, as both boys had flushed faces. Richie took him by his wrist, then yanked him to the couch. Beverly was sat on a cushion, a cigarette in her grasp. “H-Hi Beverly.” 

“Hello Eddie,” She said with a welcoming smile. It made Eddie uncomfortable in a nice way. “Can you leave us to talk?"

Richie’s hold tightened, as he bit his lower lip. Eddie glanced at him, then nodded. “I'll see you in a bit Rich. Afterward, maybe we can do something, okay?” 

“Okay Eddie,” Richie accepted as he pulled away, going down the hall. “Holler if you need saving.” 

“Shut up Richie!” Beverly said flipping him off. Eddie giggled, as she shifted to look at him. “So Eddie, you got the hots for Richie?"

“W-What,” Eddie said, his eyes bulging as his face reddened. “I don’t like him like that!” 

“Yeah, that’s not what your actions tell me. I won't say anything don't worry, but I’m going to be brutally honest with you, move on from him.” 

“He's just a close friend. It doesn’t matter.” 

“Deny it all you want, but I know a crush when I see one. It doesn’t bother anyone, yet I don't think it's the best idea." 

Eddie remained silent, as he looked at his trembling hands. "W-Why?" 

“He’s the straightest motherfucker in this group. He’s fucked like twenty chicks, kissed hundreds, and is always collecting playboy magazines. Out of everyone, he is the straightest. He’s just an affectionate and teasing friend. Not to be cocky, but I am his best friend. I know how he acts, feels, and understand him the most." 

Eddie believed her, as Richie mentioned that he met Beverly first. They've been close friends, as long as he could remember. His heart throbbed, as it'd been torn out. "I figured when I saw him with his girlfriend.” 

“Ugh, I hate that bitch. I rather have you dating him than her." She hissed. "Anyways, I may be overprotective, but I’m not wicked. Seeing someone in one-sided shit is sad.” 

“Tell me about it. I’m sorry Beverly.” 

“For what? I think I'm the asshole here, not you. I called you a fairy and crossed a line. Sorry about that by the way." 

“It’s okay, it was the heat of the moment. I’m sorry for splitting you away from the group,” Eddie said, before bringing the inhaler to his lips. “I never had friends in New York." 

“Why is that? You’re not hiding something are you?” She said, defusing the cigarette on her skin. Eddie grimaced at the sight, but she hardly winced. “You better not be a criminal or something.” 

“I think even criminals have friends. I grew up with horrible anxiety and never understood how to cope with it. I sucked ass at making friends, and kids assumed I was insane. I just got proper treatment last year, yet I was still lonely. Also, I’m gay.” 

“Anxiety is a horrible thing. I'm sorry to hear you suffer from it. You're gay, so what? Is that a big deal in the city? I thought people are accepting there.” 

“It wasn’t in my city, as word spread and I was ridiculed. Another reason we moved to Derry.” 

Beverly displayed sympathy and affection with simple action, as she rested her palm his knee, speaking softly. “Well, those people are stupid Eddie. I’m sorry to hear that.” 

He couldn't comprehend how the girl who despised him was now encouraging him. He believed he was dreaming, but this was the reality. “Thank you, Beverly. I thought you hated me.” 

“I never did I was just acting stupid. Still, don’t think I’m your best pal now. If you want to be in our group you need to earn my trust, not just mine, everyone’s trust.” 

“I understand, I’ll try my best. Thank you for talking to me.” 

“My pleasure Eddie. Nice to meet you, the name is Beverly Marsh.” 

“Nice to meet you too. The name is Eddie Kaspbrak.” 

They started over. 

*** 

As they opened the door, they grinned at the scene. Mike was laughing at Richie, as a younger girl tied his hair. Her brunette hair was wrapped in a yellow bow, she wore a floral dress, and was slapping Richie’s head. 

“See Mike, he is homeless!” 

“I’m not fucking homeless, Stacey!” 

“Your hair is disgusting! It’s long, curly, and dirty! Get a haircut already!” 

“Never! I will not let society’s norms control me!” 

"Shut the fuck up! Since when are you philosophical?” Beverly spoke, getting their attention. “She does got a point you need a haircut.” 

“I think he looks fine.” 

“Is this Eddie?" Stacey asked as she got to her feet."I assumed he would be hotter. I never knew Richie pinned after these people.” 

“Shush Stacey,” Mike scolded, as Richie rolled his eyes. “Eddie this is my sister.” 

“Nice to meet you,” Stacey said, shaking his hand, then patting his cheek. “You’d be a better date then Richie’s whore.” 

“Don't talk about her like that,” Richie hissed, as he took a cigarette from Beverly. “Censor your sister Mikey. I wish she got your traits.” 

“Stacey to your room, you know better than saying those things.” 

"I speak the truth, see you around Eddie!"  

“She’s certainly charming, and nothing like you,” Eddie said, watching her leave. “She’s going to be Bill’s sister in law.” 

“Eddie!” Mike laughed, as Eddie smirked. “You can’t tease me when I can’t tease you, so not fair." 

“I know someone."  

“I want to know, spill Marsh,” Richie said, tossing his cigarette out a window. He moved towards Eddie, resting his palm on his arm. “I’m your best friend, remember?" 

“Beverly, I beg you.” 

“I'm messing with you. This is Eddie’s secret to tell, not mine. It could be any guy in Derry, who knows Rich.” 

Eddie stiffened, his breath caught in his throat. He glanced at Mike with panic, as he pulled Eddie close. “Fuck.” 

“Wait, you’re into guys?” 

“Why are you shocked? Yeah, guys.” 

“Richie didn’t know,” Mike explained, causing Beverly to bite her lip. “Eddie hasn’t told him yet.” 

“Shit, I’m sorry I thought he knew.” 

“You didn’t tell me? Did everyone else know?” Richie said, in an angry tone. “Do you not trust me?” 

“Beep beep Richie. Eddie only told me, Bill, and Ben. During this time, you guys didn’t talk. You don’t get to decide when someone comes out to people, Richie.” 

“Yet, you told Beverly who frightened you. You could’ve trusted me,” Richie spatted, standing to his feet. He stormed out of the room, taking a box of cigarettes. 

“I’ll go talk to him, I’m sorry I didn’t know.” 

“No, I’ll go. I should have told him sooner,” Eddie said, as Mike stared at him with concern. “I’ll be fine.” 

*** 

Richie extinguished his fourth cigarette, hacking hard. His lungs stung, and his stomach throbbed, yet continued smoking. He was trembling with anger and frustration. He acknowledged, that he was overreacting, yet he was furious and hurt. 

“Stop smoking, you're in pain,” Eddie spoke, prompting him to swallow tobacco. “You shouldn't cope like that." 

“Fuck off," Richie said, salivating strings of crushed tobacco. "Why are you here?" 

“Richie, look I’m sorry. I should've told you sooner.” 

“Well, it seems like you didn’t care. You did this with the asthma attack, and now this? I know we've only been friends for around a month, but I like you."

Eddie's heart leaped, as heat flowed over his cheeks. 

"I like you as a good friend, and I thought you did too. Why don't you trust me?” 

The heat evaporated, as his heart slumped. 

“It’s complicated, okay? Way more complicated than a goddamn asthma attack. Y-You're like one of my best friends! I want u-us to be closer, and I should've told you.” 

“Complicated my ass! Bill and Mike trusted me,” Richie shouted. “Just leave, Eddie!” 

“Goddamnit R-Richie! Are you going to be just like Charlie too!? Abandon me already!” Eddie cried, his knuckles white and shaking. It made Richie flinch in surprise, as he stared at him. “Just call me a faggot already!” 

The stillness lingered among them for what appeared like years, as Eddie glared. He had an intimidating appearance making Richie quite uncomfortable. This appearance shattered when Eddie glanced at his feet. A faint sob left his lips, as he hid his face. “I-I don’t want to lose you too.” 

Richie's heart sank to his feet, as the guilt crashed into him. He had guilt-tripped his friend for not coming out. Now saying it out loud in his head, he felt shameful. He groaned as he rubbed his eyes, cursing at himself. "Fucking shit." 

Eddie continued to sob, his tan skin shifting to light pink, his freckles more noticeable, and his eyes swelled with hot tears. He started walking back when Richie snapped out of his thoughts. 

 “Goddamnit, I’m such a dick,” Richie said, taking his arm. “Come here." 

He drew Eddie toward his chest, the smaller boy whining. He placed his lanky arms, underneath Eddie's pits, as he sat on the balcony swing. He closed his legs tightly, then sat Eddie on his lap. Eddie stirred, eventually relaxing in his arms. As he continued sobbing, he concealed his face into Richie's hoodie. 

"I should’ve known better. I’m sorry he hurt you, I promise I’m not the same. I’m so sorry.” 

His sobs settled after a few minutes, becoming small hiccups. Richie continued to whisper gentle words to him, as he stroked his back. 

“I’m such a jackass, Ed's. I'll make it up somehow, I’ll do anything baby.” 

It had slipped out, causing Richie to flush. “Fuck that was gay, sorry. I mean nothing wrong with that, being gay is okay. It’s just-“ 

Eddie chuckled, as he pulled his face away. He peered at Richie with a shy smile and red cheeks.“Relax, I’m not that sensitive. You’ve said more offensive and weird shit.” 

“Should I stop then?” 

“No, because then you’ll be boring. Also, sitting me on your lap is considerable gay.” 

“Wow am I just a joke? Enjoying it or what?" Richie snorted, as he rolled his hips. They groaned, then Eddie scrambled off. "Okay, I won't do that again." 

“Yeah don't," Eddie said, his face flushing. "You aren't a joke, Rich. Come on let’s go inside." 

As Eddie gripped the doorknob, Richie took his arm, drawing him back. “What is it?” 

“Eddie, I’m sorry," Richie said, his voice faint and tender. "You aren't mad right?" 

“I could never be mad at you. We're still friends right?” 

“Of course, till the end of time, Ed’s.” 

“Don’t call me that.” 

*** 

It was approximately 5 pm when Bill invited them to the quarry. Eddie was interested to see what this quarry was, as Richie described it as a pool, which left him more curious. Eddie packed a towel, a change of clothes, and sunscreen. As he cycled to Mike’s, he became nervous. He had one problem with the quarry. 

Eddie didn’t know how to swim, as he didn't require this skill in Brooklyn. The only pools nearby were private clubs or dirty, and his parents believed swimming was useless. 

“You ready to have fun, Ed’s?” Richie asked, tossing his stuff into Beverly’s bag. “Thanks, Bev.” 

“No problem, trashmouth. Have you seen the quarry yet, Eddie?” 

“I haven’t, Richie described it as a personal pool. How deep is it?" 

“Thirty feet." 

“You're joking, right?" Eddie said, nervously smiling. "That's terrifying." 

“Stop frightening him, Bev! I mean it is thirty feet, but we swim in the shallow zone. No need to worry, Eddie spaghetti!" 

“Such a weird nickname,” Mike interrupts, as he locks the house. “Bill and Ben are already at the quarry, we can meet them there.” 

"We should take floaties for Ed's!"

"Ugh, shut up, Richie." 

“Stop messing with him, Rich. You'll make him cry again," Mike said, turning on his motorcycle. "No offense, Eddie." 

“Beep beep, Mikey. Just for that remark, you get no goodnight head,” Richie announced, as he Maggie's engine roared. “Poor Mikey.” 

"I don’t want that image in my head,” Beverly groans, her motorcycle racing past them. “Anyways, try keeping up!” 

“Oh, it’s on Marsh!” 

They rushed forward, as Eddie followed Mike at a slower pace. They eventually disappeared from their view, as they flew down the dirt path. 

“Do they always do that?” Eddie asked, noting how quiet Mike's motor was. “Your motor is so quiet, Richie's is a beast." 

“Yeah, it’s their thing. Stunning that they've never been arrested. Also, Richie’s motor is modified to be louder. He did it to be a dick to his neighbors.” 

“He hates them that much?” 

“He says they're rude,” Mike explained, as they rode on the cement streets of Derry. “It cost him $700.” 

“Christ, he is so rich. Why doesn’t he just get himself a car?” 

“His parents didn't allow it, plus he wanted to look like a punk."

"He looks more like an idiot." 

Mike laughed, as they rounded the corner. They rode over the kissing bridge, Eddie noticing the carvings. He desired to carve his and Richie’s initials, maybe they could do it together. 

As the cement path disappeared, they entered the woods. He could hear Richie’s motor, the closer they got. Finally, they braked near the parked motorcycles. They were in a clear opening, surrounded by enormous pine trees. The quarry was massive, gleaming in the sun with its deep green, and enclosed by gray granite. The ledge was thirty feet above the murky water, birds chirped in the trees overhead, and the smell of decomposing pine drifted in the air. 

“This place is amazing.” 

“Yeah, I know huh?” Richie said, strolling next to Eddie’s side. He was wearing black boxers, with his clothes in his arms. “You going to get changed?” 

Eddie was grateful he was not horny, or he would’ve popped a boner on the spot. Richie’s thighs looked gratifying in the sunlight, as they're heavy with muscle. Specks of freckles coated his chest, and Eddie yearned to kiss each one. His dark mess of hair cloaked his pale shoulders. Somehow, Richie was a bit chubby, but it only made him more attractive.  

“Eddie? Are you lost in thought again?” 

“Shit, sorry. I just have to take my clothes off, I'm in my trousers already,” Eddie said, placing his fanny pack in his bike basket. “Where is everyone else?” 

“Changing behind some trees. Guys, hurry up!” 

“Don’t rush me, trashmouth,” Beverly said, pushing her shades up. She approached them holding a blunt in her hand. “Do you want to take a hit?" 

"You already know, Marsh!" Richie said, taking it from her. He took a drag, then exhaled. "Fuck, I love pot." 

Beverly watched him, her hands on her curvey hips. She wore a white bra, baby blue panties, and black shades. Her curls fluttered in the wind, and freckles dotted her body. Eddie believed she looked gorgeous, in a non-perverted way. 

Then, Eddie was overwhelmed with a distinct feeling. Something he hadn't felt in a long time, at least, not this badly. He tensed his fist realizing he was insecure. 

“Don't smoke all of it, Richie! Give that back!” 

“You know how much he loves that stuff,” Ben said, emerging next to Beverly. She took off her shades, giving them to Ben. “Do you want to swim or suntan?"

Eddie had to look away, as his face burned. He'd been told that just two years ago, he was recognized as the fattest kid in Derry. Ben said joining the cross-team improved his life, as he lost all the weight. He was now incredibly fit, which was evident by his body. 

“Nah, it’s fine, just put my shades away,” She said, caressing his neck. Ben did as told, as she took a drag. “Hey, Benny, are you hot?” 

“Yeah it’s pretty hot,” He responded, causing Beverly to smirk. She tossed the blunt to Richie, then dragged Ben forward. Richie and Eddie swiftly moved out of the way, as they rushed forward. “Slow down, Bev!” 

“Let’s cool off!” She yelled, pulling them off the ledge. They plummeted into the green water, then returning to the surface. “The water feels great!” 

"Damnit, Bev!" Ben cried, reaching the surface, and splashing water on her. “Get the others down here! Bev is going to kill me!” 

"On it, Haystack!"

“Couldn’t he have easily stopped her?” Eddie asked as they strolled away from the ledge. “I mean, he’s way bigger than her.” 

“Yeah well, he loves her too much. Love is like crack, Eddie. Fucks with your head.” 

“L-Love is nice. Y-You’ve just never experienced proper l-love.” Bill said, emerging with Mike. “Right Mikey?” 

“Yeah, he’s right. Love is a nice thing, try it sometime.” 

“Hey, I love Greta!” 

“No, you don’t!” 

“Okay, no I don’t,” Richie said clicking his tongue. Beverly shrieked below them, and he turned towards Eddie. “Alright, come on get changed.” 

“Yeah, I got it.” 

Eddie’s fingers brushed the bottom of his shirt, hardly moving. Eddie rarely got insecure, but this was because he never felt attractive in the first place. He didn’t worry about being attractive around friends or love interest. It didn’t matter since he was a loner. Now, this was different. He was surrounded by his friends and his crush. They all happened to be extremely attractive, and he was disgusting. He felt his thick curves, sweat between his thick thighs, and his dirty hair displeased him. He felt like a ball of revolting fat. 

“Eddie? Hey, you okay?” Mike asked, moving next to Richie. Eddie nodded, yet avoided eye contact. “Hey, Eddie look at me, what’s wrong?” 

“Mike, can I talk to you alone?” 

“Sure, give us second,” Mike said, pulling Eddie towards the privacy of the woods. Richie nodded, but his face sank. “Don’t dive off yet Big Bill.” 

Even with Richie’s lengthy hair covering his face, he could see the sad expression. “Wait, Richie come here!” 

“Huh? What is it, Eddie?” 

“Can I talk to him? I feel bad,” Eddie whispered. “I want to trust him more. I’ll tell you after, okay?” 

“That’s fine, but don’t force yourself. Richie will understand if you aren’t ready to be open.” 

“Hey, stop whispering! I’m right here!” Richie said, his hands on his hips. Mike patted his shoulder, then walked to Bill. “So what’s up, Ed's?” 

“Sorry, I need to trust you.” 

“Fuck, I didn’t mean to guilt-trip you. I’m just..agh,” Richie groans, covering his face. Eddie pulls his hands away, holding them in his. “I'm a bad friend." 

“Shut up, Richie,” Eddie mumbles, as he gazes at Richie’s polished nails. “It’s okay, I understand. I appreciate you caring about me.” 

“I’m a bitch, Eddie. I don’t want you to trust me just because I force you,”  

“Richie, we'll figure this out together, okay? Stop being so harsh on yourself." 

“Sure, Ed’s. Whatever you say,” Richie sighs, pulling him to his chest, Eddie flushes in surprise but embraces him. “I like you, Eddie.” 

“Same here, Richie,” Eddie said, a warm feeling spreading in his stomach. “I’m insecure.” 

“Why? Are we all that attractive?” Richie laughs, taking another drag. “ I look like Slenderman, I can believe everyone else, but not me.” 

“Shut up, you’re attractive. I’m not used to having a ton of hot friends.”  

“No need to be insecure, Ed’s. We won't judge you,” Richie whispers, into his ear delicately. Eddie shivers against him, as Richie holds his hips. “I’m sure Bill and Mike die over you.” 

“They do, sort of. Mike was my first kiss,” Eddie admits. “It was just in the moment. He’s so gay for Bill, I’m surprised they aren’t dating.” 

“First kiss? Goddamn, you are a cutie,” Richie said, then smiles. "Anyways, come on let's start slow. Just take off your shirt, alright."

Eddie begins tugging off his shirt, as Richie watches his every movement. Eddie’s pudgy stomach is covered in specks of freckles, creating butterflies in Richie’s stomach. “You have a cute tummy.” 

“Beep beep, Richie. Bev described you as the straightest person. I’m starting to question that,” Eddie replied, glancing at his stomach. “I’m okay looking, I guess.” 

“I’m just trying to make my mate feel better,” Richie said, tossing the blunt inside Beverly's bag. “Now the shorts, as you aren't practically always wearing booty shorts. Boxers won’t make a difference.” 

“They're not booty shorts! You can’t even see my ass cheeks,” Eddie grumbled, taking off his shoes and socks. “They're just shorter than normal shorts.” 

“Two more inches up, and I can see your ass,” Richie teases with a smirk. “I mean, I wouldn’t mind.” 

“You know what, maybe I’ll trust Mikey more,” Eddie said, pulling off his shorts. Richie pouted, as he let out a fake cry. “Shush, you know I’m joking.” 

“I’m heartbroken! I will be sobbing all night!" 

“Shut up, you fucking spaz,” Eddie snorted, putting his clothes in his bike basket. “God, how has Bev put up with you for so long?” 

“Cause, I’m a charmer! Also, you look fucking fabulous! Look at you, Eddie spaghetti!" 

Eddie grunted in embarrassment, pulling away from Richie. " Come on, let’s go with the others.” 

As they walked back, they couldn't see Bill and Mike. Richie heard chattering in the water and peered over the ledge. 

“Oh my god, you guys took forever! Did you guys make love?!” Beverly yelled with a smirk. “Get down here!” 

“Shut up, Marsh! We're going!” 

“How do we get down?” 

“Uh jump? Did you not see Bev and Ben?” 

“Wait, we all have to do that? Are you fucking serious? I just assumed Bev was insane.” 

“Nope, it turns out we’re all insane! Now, come on I’ll meet you at the bottom.” 

“R-Richie, I can’t,” Eddie said, his voice shaking as his lungs tightened. “I-I can’t swim.” 

“Wait, are you serious? Hmm makes sense, Brooklyn doesn’t have many pools, huh?" 

“I-I can’t dive off I-I’ll drown,” Eddie said his breath picking up and his chest tightening. “F-Fuck, Richie.” 

“Hey, hey come on. Take a deep breath, then remember three seconds per inhale,” Richie said, taking his arm. “Hey, we can dive off together. I’ll pull you up when we reach the bottom, I promise.” 

“What if I l-lose your grip. I-I don’t want to drown, Richie.” 

“We can hold hands as we go down. Just tuck your legs in, so you don’t hit the water hard. Trust me, I won’t let anything happen to you.” 

Richie took Eddie's, giving it a gentle squeeze. His hand was small in his grip, and their fingers entwined.  They stood over the edge, looking below, hand in hand. Richie clutched his glasses with his free hand, then smirked. 

“Move out of the fucking way! The best boys in Derry are about to crash this shit!” 

Richie leaps, pulling Eddie forward. The wind rushes past his strands, as he tucks his legs in. Richie laughs, their grip tightening. They hit the water with a splash, their hands still entwined. Eddie forgot how cold water could be, as it knocks the air out of him. Eddie swims in the tranquil green, air bubbles rising to the surface in clusters. It's dark underwater, even with the bright sun overhead. He feels Richie pull him up, and they gasp as they resurface. 

“H-Holy shit that was insane!” 

“Told you it was worth it!” Richie says, putting his glasses on. “Did you like it?” 

“Yeah, my nose just burns. Thanks, Richie.” 

“Anytime, Ed’s. Let’s go with the others, it’s shallow in that area.” Richie says, swimming ahead. He pulls Eddie with him, his legs kicking in the murky water. “Hey, you don’t suck at swimming, I'll let go then!" 

“Don’t you fucking dare, Richard.” 

They paddled to the others, and Eddie scarcely reached the bottom. Richie stood up straight, their hands withdrawing. Eddie sighs sadly, and Mike promptly hugs him. "I thought you died, Eddie! I assumed Richie charmed you to death!” 

“That's your job,” Eddie giggles, as Mike wraps his arms around his shoulders. “I hate you so much.” 

“He l-loves you, Mikey.” 

“ Chicken fight! Let's play!" 

“Oh, fuck yeah you’re with me, baby!" Richie cries as Beverly climbs his shoulders. "Who wants to go against us?” 

“I don’t mess with my girlfriend. Mike and Bill can go up against you.” 

The teams swam to the deeper end then the game commenced.  Beverly was on Richie’s shoulders and Bill’s was on Mike’s. Eddie watched with Ben, both boys shouting support.

"Go, Richie!" 

"Come on Beverly!" 

 The two groups pushed one another, as they laughed. Mike gave one last push, causing the team to plunge. Richie tumbled into the water, as  Ben caught Beverly in his arms. Eventually, the champions were Bill and Mike. Richie resurfaced, his eyes concealed by his wet curls. Eddie giggled, pushing them away.

“You look like a shaggy dog!” Eddie snorted, as Richie ruffled his wet hair. Droplets slipped on his face, causing his freckles to appear glow in the sun. “God, you need a haircut.” 

“I don’t need s-shit!” Richie stammered his face bright red. "T-Think fast!" 

He pulled Eddie into a hug, then plunged them underwater. Eddie held his breath, as Richie pulled him. His eyes adjusted quickly in the lower water, and he saw Richie smiling at him. His hair flowed in the water, like a serpent. He felt himself blush but began laughing. Richie looked back at him, his smile growing on his face. 

They wished they had kissed one another, instead, they come up for air, returning to the losers. It would've have been their best, and only underwater kiss.  

Chapter Text

He initially feels the searing pain, as if a keen blade was twisted into his organs. His skull is throbbing, the air is stuffy, and blood drenches his lips. He groans loudly as his eyes fluttered.

“E-Ed’s, you’re awake!” 

“Richie? O-Oh, fuck what’s happening?” 

As his perception clears, he realizes how much older Richie is. His jaw has specks of facial hair, his hair is short, and his glasses aren't as thick. 

"W-Why are you crying?” Eddie asked, attempting to relax. Pain ignites within his body, causing him to moan. “F-Fucking shit.” 

“No, don’t move. You need to stay still,” Richie insists. “Your get more hurt.” 

The memories hit him with a powerful surge, as he gasps. His life in Brooklyn, moving to Derry, fighting the clown once, Richie kissing him, the night he lost his virginity, and when he left Derry. He promised to keep in touch with Richie, yet he never did. He wedded a woman, who was his mother reincarnated. He didn't even like women, he was a gay man. Worst of all, he forgot Richie and his family. His real family and the memories they shared. He forgot the fears he endured, Richie's gentle love, and the losers club. 

More memories penetrate his mind, but they’re recent. The Chinese restaurant, the losers reuniting, cheating on his wife, Richie’s delicate kisses, Henry nearly killing him, the Neilbolt house, and the claw. Pennywise, pierced him through his torso. This was enough to make Eddie sob. 

“H-Hey Ed’s, what’s wrong,” Richie asks, his voice faint. Eddie takes his face, pulling him into a kiss. Richie moans into his mouth, then draws away. “Nice kiss, Romeo.” 

“I-I forgot you.” 

“Yeah, we all did. Did you just remember?” Richie asked as Eddie nods. “Sucks h-huh? We could’ve been m-married, you know. Gay marriage just got legalized.” 

“When we m-make it out, let’s get married,” Eddie giggles weakly. Richie nods, holding their hands. “We can have a f-fancy wedding, then invite my w-wife.” 

“That’s cruel, Eddie spaghetti. Sure, we’ll do that.” 

“How long did you w-wait for me?” 

Richie remains silent, as the ground tremors. The sky shifts from blue to dark green. It is finally dead, gone for good. 

“I never did forget you,” Richie finally confessed. “I kept a card you gave me for Valentine's after I moved. I did forget you, but I didn’t forget the feeling you gave me. I never got married, as I waited to meet you again” 

Eddie weeps, kissing Richie again. They kiss deeply as Eddie strokes his cheek. He desires to kiss Richie forever but knows time is running out. They pull away, as Eddie’s vision begins to blur again. 

“I’m so sorry, Richie.” 

“Don’t worry, Ed’s. You still love me, right? 

Black specks dance across his vision as he leans farther back. The pain is fading with his body. 

“For the last time, don’t call me that,” Eddie chuckles. He grasps Richie’s hand for the final time, gently squeezing. “I love you. I always...” 

Eddie closed his eyes, thinking how to finish, and while he was still thinking it over he died. He could hear voices in the distance, yet is powerless to respond. 

“Eddie, you what? Ed’s this isn’t funny.” 

“R-Richie, honey he’s dead.” 

“We gotta get him out of here, Bev.” 

“We have to go now! This place is caving in!” 

“No! Guys, we can still help him! Eddie! No!”

“Let’s go!” 

“He doesn’t like the sewers, Ed’s! Eddie, don’t leave me again! Eddie, I love you!” 

***

Eddie wakes up trembling, and he covers his mouth. A shriek nearly escaped his lips, but he held it in. He felt for his cotton bedsheets, scanned his dim bedroom, and buried his face into his pillows. 

His breathing accelerated, as his palms trembled. His entire body felt as it had been rattled. He thrust his fist into his mouth, to hold back the cries. He realizes he's having a panic attack. His mouth tasted as it was filled with bitter poison, as his chest constricted. He seized his inhaler, triggering it. 

“F-Fuck,” Eddie gasped, as he tossed his inhaler to the floor. He attempted to do the breathing exercises, but his body was a wreck. “R-Richie.” 

Eddie, gripped his bedsheets, suffocating on the thick air. Tears acculturated in his eyes, dripping on to his trembling thighs. He tore at his skin, attempting to stop the tingling. It reminded him of pain in his torso, the blood, and Richie. 

DONT LEAVE ME, EDDIE!

He wanted to run downstairs, reach for the telephone, and call Richie. He ached to hear his magnificent voice, his silly jokes, and most of all, no screams. Screaming for Eddie to come back and that he had abandoned him. He didn't want to hear that ever again. 

Eddie sobbed into his sheets, his cries hiccuping with shaky breathes. He proceeded to heave and wheeze for the next ten minutes. Eventually, his body became exhausted, as he crumpled on the sheets. Even with his palms trembling and tears spilling, he felt greatly better. He could breathe again, yet the fear never left. 

*** 

Eddie overslept for several hours, his mother finding him asleep, around noon. She knew something must’ve been wrong, as Eddie never overslept. He only overslept if he was ill, so she takes his temperature. She notices the red streaks on his thighs, gasping in distress.

 “Eddie bear, wake up.” 

Eddie moans, attempting to hide in his sheets, but his mother holds him. "School started four hours ago.” 

Sonia never observed her son awake so quickly, as he lurches upwards. He rubs his eyes furiously, then stares at her in a daze. “I’m what?” 

“You overslept,” She giggles, at his goofy appearance. “You have a fever, Eddie. Did you sleep well?” 

“N-No,” Eddie admits. “I had a nightmare.” 

“About what?” 

“I don’t want to talk about it, mommy,” Eddie whimpers. “I just want to avoid it.” 

“That’s fine, Eddie. I’ll excuse your absence since you seem exhausted. Rest up if you’re planning to go out.” 

“For what?”

“It’s Halloween. Did you forgot?” 

“Y-Yeah, I did.” Eddie yawns, as he stretches. “Okay, mommy I’ll rest then."

 “I’ll wake you up before Frank gets home.” 

“Thanks,” He says as she leaves. “Ugh, Richie is going to kill me.” 

*** 

Richie jostles through his classmates, as he runs to Maggie. He tosses his bag over his shoulder, as he begins to get on. 

“Richie, hey!” 

He disregards Greta, as he is turning Maggie on. She reaches him, pulling on his backpack. He groans, rolling his eyes in annoyance. “What do you want?” 

“What the fuck is up with you?” She complains, as he hurriedly kisses her. “Shitty kiss.” 

“I don’t have time for this. I have to go see someone.” 

“Oooh, I got an idea.” 

“Oh yeah?” Richie said, giving her a teasing smirk. “Give a guess, Bowie.” 

“Eddie Kaspbrak,” she growls, making him blush. “I fucking knew it! We are talking, now.” 

“How’d you know?” 

“You always hang out with the pipsqueak. Let’s go, unless you want your queer tendencies spreading.” 

"My queer what?" Richie growls, throwing himself off. Greta smirks, as they go to the back of campus. He leans against the brick wall, as he draws a cigarette. “So, what’s up with you?” 

“You like him, don’t you? More than a friend?” 

“No, who the fuck said that?” Richie said, blowing smoke. “You know I'm affectionate.” 

“You’re different with him, I noticed it. You touch him more, and you give him this look.” 

“Psh, what look?” Richie laughs, defusing his cigarette underneath his boot. “You’re crazy.” 

“You know exactly what I mean. You look at him with a passion, a romantic passion. You’ve never looked at anyone like that, not even me.” 

“Are we in love? I thought we just fucked around.” 

“Can’t you ever be serious? So, my boyfriend is a faggot, or what they call bisexual."

“I’m not any of that shit,” Richie spats, his anger growing. "Get off my dick Greta, or we're done.” 

“Do it, I’ll tell everyone your dirty little secret. I know your secret, your dirty little secret. Derry High can find out too.” 

Richie's jaw tenses, as droplets of sweat form on his forehead. “Fuck off, you lying whore.” 

He begins walking away, his feet angrily stomping the grass. Greta grins, then whistles at him. “Okay, faggot! I’ll let everyone know!” 

He ceases moving, as he looks at his feet. “Fuck you, see you tomorrow, babe.” 

She giggles uncontrollably, as Richie drives away. He isn’t excited to see Eddie anymore. 

*** 

Eddie finished eating a sandwich when he hears rapping at his window. He sets down a glass of grape juice, then investigates the sound. Richie is balancing on a branch, grinning at him. 

GUYS WE CAN STILL HELP HIM

“Oh, fuck! Richie, you dumbass!” Eddie says, scrambling to unlock the window. He rubs at hot tears, before facing Richie. “Be careful!” 

“I’m fine, Eddie,” Richie says tripping inside his bedroom. “I’ve done this before.” 

“Yeah, but I hate it when you do. What if you fall and break all your bones?” 

“Is that even possible?” Richie asked, his finger brushing beneath his puffed eyes. “Jeez, you didn’t sleep.” 

“Uh, no I didn’t,” Eddie admits. “Nightmares got the best of me. I overslept and missed school.” 

“Oh, you okay? Happy Halloween, by the way.” 

“Thanks, Rich, same to you. I'm fine, don't worry about it.” 

"I understand your costume, tired Eddie spaghetti.” 

“That was a bad one,” Eddie giggles, resting his face in Richie’s palm. “A really bad one.” 

“Not as bad as your mom last night.” 

DONT FORGET HIM 

Eddie whimpers as he hugs him. He pulls at his shirt, pressing his face against it. He inhales the odor of cigarettes and colognes on his chest. He remembers the scent, it's from Gucci. It soothes him, helping him realize Richie is okay, and that he is alive. He holds back a sob, biting his lip. 

“R-Rich.” 

He senses the warmness in his heart, then realizes Greta is right. He felt this at the quarry, a month back. Whenever they touched, when his freckles glistened on his skin, and when he giggled. He had brushed it off, as a side effect of the weed. Now it returned, spreading all over him. He liked Eddie Kaspbrak, and he nearly fainted. 

Richie wasn’t homophobic, as it never bothered him. He supported his gay friends through everything and loved them. Yet, Richie couldn’t accept himself as gay. It didn’t sit well with him, and he knew his parents would be disappointed. He doesn't want to disappoint them more. 

“Uh, weird,” Richie says, shoving Eddie off. Eddie trips back, staring at him, dumbfounded. “So, what do you want to dress up as?” 

“I-I don’t have a costume,” Eddie whispers, his gaze dropping. “Didn’t buy one.” 

“I'll get you something. Just wear something white or blue. Mike’s going to pick you up at 5, so we can go trick or treating. Is that fine?” 

“Y-Yeah, Richie I-.” 

“I have to go. I’ll see you later?” 

“Y-Yeah. Uh, bye Richie.” 

He forcefully smiles, before ascending out the window. Eddie slams it shut and seals the drapes. Richie cussed at himself then groans. 

“Richie, you didn’t have to do that. Fuck!" 

*** 

Eddie learns that he owns no white clothing. He succeeds in finding blue overalls, along with his baby blue vans. Once, his mother leaves for work, and Frank goes out, he rummages through their wardrobe. Frank is tall, hence his clothes don't fit. In his mother’s clothing, he finds a turtleneck. He rams it into his bag, along with the rest of his things. 

“Oh, shit! They’re here!” Eddie mumbles as a car honks outside. “I hope Richie is there.” 

As chilly wind smacks his face, he sees Mike waving at him from a van. It’s a Chevrolet Astro with large wheels. It appears worn down, but Eddie still finds it impressive. 

“Get in!” Mike says, leaning over the window. “The others are waiting!"  

Eddie yanks the door open, grinning in excitement. He finds that the back is empty. “Where’s Richie?” 

“Wow, you just i-ignore me?” Bill says from the passenger seat. As Mike begins driving, Bill turns to look at Eddie. “You m-miss your boyfriend?” 

“He is not my boyfriend! Richie is my best friend!” 

“I’m your best friend, why don’t I get heart eyes?” Mike teases. Bill laughs, as Eddie slaps his arm. “Admit it! You like him!"

“Mikey! Fine, I do like him, but a tiny crush,” Eddie grumbles. “Why didn’t he come?” 

“He s-said he wanted to put h-his costume on. He’s been w-weird today.” 

“He missed you that much. Why didn’t you come to school?” 

BLOOD BLOOD BLOOD 

“I-I had a nightmare and overslept.” 

Mike notices his voice crack. “You okay, Eddie? Did it affect you?” 

“I’m just a bit anxious, I don’t want to talk about it.” 

“That’s fine, just let me know if you don’t feel well.” 

As the van halts, Eddie awes at Richie's gated neighborhood. The iron gate was fashioned to look antique, with sharp arrow tips. A guard approaches them from a booth. 

“Mike Hanlon, I’m here to see Richard Tozier.” 

The man is in a black uniform, a gun strapped to his hip, and clutching a clipboard. He scans it, then nods. “Alright, just sign here.” 

Mike signs underneath the small print, as the gate opens. “Have a good day, sir.” 

“Is this place that high end?” 

“Y-Yeah it is. The houses aren’t e-even that n-nice.” 

The houses were arranged closely in endless rows. They had a similar layout: two stories, beige or blue, and a garage. Exotic flowers flourished in clean-cut grass, children trick-or-treating, and expensive cars parked in driveways. He recognized a Porsche (he wants one, once he can drive) parked, and squealed excitedly. Some houses are wrapped in decorative cobwebs, carved pumpkins glow on porches, and tombstones on their lawns. 

Then, Eddie's jaw drops, as he is astonished by Richie's house. They park in a circular driveway, with a fountain in the middle, surrounded by rose bushes. "Holy shit, don’t tell me this is it.” 

“Odd one out, huh? You should see the backyard.” 

The staircase is wide and curves towards the house. Three great pillars maintain the upper porch, carved with a Greek design. Flourishing plants surround the outer layer, as they glow from the indoor light. 

“Fuck, he’s so rich. What a beautiful design." 

“You b-better not be a good d-digger,” Bill says as they get out of the van. “I’ll k-kill you.” 

“Stop threatening him, Big Bill.” 

“He’s going to use his stutter against me." 

The group giggles, as the front door opens. A young woman with brown freckles, warm green eyes, and red hair tied up in a ponytail. She wore a black tuxedo with white gloves. "Hello, Bill and Mike. Who is this?" 

"I'm Eddie. It's n-nice to meet you." 

"I'm Alyssa, the family butler. Let me know if you need anything." 

"Thank you." 

"Alyssa, are they here!?" 

"Yes, Richard!" 

Alyssa takes them inside, as Richie runs down the curving stairway. He has his hair tied back in a ponytail, is wearing devil horns, a black torn leather jacket, ripped jeans, and boots with spikes. He has artificial blood smeared on his face and thick eyeliner. 

“Satan is gay?" 

“I’m not a gay Satan!” Richie pouts, as Eddie flushes. “Did you bring your stuff, Ed’s?” 

“Y-Yeah, what’s your idea?” Eddie says, glancing around. “This place is beautiful, Richie.” 

“Thanks! Let me go get your stuff." 

Alyssa shows them to the living room, then goes upstairs. Bill explains that the place has ten rooms. Three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a kitchen, a living room, a dining room, a personal movie theater, and a gaming room. 

"We'll go to the gaming room after. It's pretty cool." 

“Sounds good! Do you guys mind if I change?"  

“Go for it, Eddie.” 

As Eddie changes, he struggles to fasten his overalls over his turtleneck. “Can you help me button this?” 

“Jesus,” Bill murmurs, as his face is pink. “I'm so into boys.” 

“I’m not even attractive.” Eddie objected as Mike helps him. “Right, Mikey?” 

“I’m going to have to agree with him.” 

“Ugh, I hate both of you.” 

“What’s your costume supposed to be?” 

Beverly is by the stairs as Ben holds her. Beverly’s hair is curled upward, she wears thick red heels, latex jeans, a belt, and a black shirt. Her lips sparkle from red lipstick and hoops. Ben is in a similar outfit, except he wears black shoes and his hair is slicked back. 

“You’re Sandy and Danny from Grease! I love that musical! 

“Wow, he’s cultured." 

“Pft, you like musicals?” Richie says, appearing next to them. “Here’s your costume.” 

He gives Eddie an angel halo and a pair of fake wings. "Did you plan this?"

"A little." 

“Bill and I are going to put our costumes on! Come help, Bev and Ben!” 

“I hate them,” Eddie mutters, watching his friends leave. "What’s so bad about Grease?” 

“It's a boring love story,” Richie responds, facing away. “Did you put on the stuff.” 

Richie glances at Eddie and blushes. He looks angelic, glowing underneath the chandelier. The halo hovers above his brown hair, the wings fit him a bit big, and his cheeks are pink. He beams at Richie as he flaps his long lashes. “Do I look okay?” 

“U-Uh, you look great!” Richie stammers. “It suits you.” 

“Thanks, Rich!” Eddie giggles, giving Richie a stroke. “Hey, looking good!" 

Mike wore a pair of fluffy dark ears, a red flannel, and blue jeans. Bill wore black jeans, a dark red vest, a cape, and plastic vampire's teeth. “T-Thanks, Eddie.” 

“Mikey’s a furry!” 

“At least he isn’t homosexual Satan,” Beverly snickers. “Now, are we going or not? The sun is down.” 

“Let’s do this!” Richie woops. “Whoever gets the least candy kisses my ass!” 

"Be safe kids!" Alyssa calls from the kitchen. "Don't do drugs!" 

*** 

They trick-or-treat for two hours, running around Richie’s neighborhood. Most of the trick-r-treaters are children, but they see a few high schoolers. As they knock on each door, the group yells, “trick or treat!” with wide smiles. They receive a few puzzled looks, which are from the elders. They tell them their too old to be trick-or-treating, but they ignore them. Eddie leaps ahead, pulling Richie along with him. They taunt one another, as they snatch candy from each other's bags. 

Their bags are stuffed with candy, that could make any kid go nuts. They are full of Nerds, Airheads, Ring pops, OUCH! bubblegum, and gummies. They retreat to Richie's lawn, as they begin exchanging candy. 

“I hate sour heads! Take these and give me your gummies!” 

“Nah, not a fair trade!” Richie says, shaking his finger. “I’ll give you half for the warheads.” 

“Stop bickering and just make up your mind,” Beverly groans. “Benny shut them up.” 

“I wish I could.” 

“Fine, here you spoiled brat,” Eddie says, sticking his tongue out. “You scammer." 

“No, it's called business.” 

“Richie!” 

Richie’s stomach drops, and his smile fades. He glances at the handful of warheads, then the sidewalk. Greta waves at him, as a smirk tugs her lips. She's with a group of girls and dressed as Marilyn Monroe. Her hair is trimmed low, her lips are bright red, and she is in a white dress. Richie drops the warheads, as he walks towards her. 

“Hey, babe.” 

“Look at you handsome,” She giggles, kissing him. He forces himself to kiss back but cringes. “You’ve collected so much candy.” 

“You know the handsome ones get the most.” 

“They do, they do,” She whispered into his ear, then caresses his neck. “Come with us. We’re going to a house party.” 

“I can’t, I’m going to the Neilbolt house.” 

“Why that dump?" 

"My friends want to go." 

Her smile curves into an irritated frown, and she pinches his arm. Richie winces as she pulls them aside. “You’re coming with me, understood? I'm not showing up without my boy toy.” 

"Is that all you think of me? I'm just an object?" 

"Oh, you know we aren't in love. I only need you for my social status." 

"You are cold-hearted. Can I show up later?" 

She glances at her watch, noting the time is 8:00. “Be there by 9:30, understood, sugar?” 

“Yeah, see you later.” He says, kissing her cheek with little passion. 

“Bye, baby!" ” 

Richie returns silently to his friends, sitting far from Eddie. He starts smoking a cigarette, his gaze towards the sky. 

"Rich, your warheads," Eddie whimpers, holding them out to him. "You dropped them." 

"Keep them," He replies coldly. "I don't want them anymore." 

Eddie frowns, as he turns away. He shoves the warheads into his pouch, then stays silent. Eventually, they store their candies away, as they decide to start driving to Neilbolt. Beverly and Ben sit upfront, Richie and Bill in the middle, Eddie and Mike in the back. The car ride was mostly loud, except for the back. Eddie hadn't spoken a word, his gaze distance. 

*** 

Eddie thinks of Brooklyn, specifically his last Halloween. He had spent it with Charlie, as they collected candy in the city. Their bags didn’t get full, yet they had fun. Afterward, they relaxed in Charlie’s garage, as they traded candy. 

“Warheads are the best.” 

“They are the worst, what’s wrong with you?” 

“Lots of things, Eddie.” He says, pulling him to his chest. “You little rascal.” 

Eddie closes his eyes as his face burns. Then the sound of wheels shrieking, startles him. A car zooms past them and Charlie grins. "They are racing! Let's go!" 

Charlie puts Eddie onto his shoulders, as they dash towards the abandoned parking lot. A group of teens has gathered, as cars do donuts. They cheer as the wheels screech against the cement. 

"Fuck yeah!" 

Eddie laughs, burying his face into Charlie's hair. Although they got scolded, Eddie didn't care. It was one of the happiest nights in Eddie's life. 

*** 

"I fucked up, Mikey." 

“Don’t say that, Eddie. He hasn’t been himself. It's not your fault." 

Eddie sighed as he shut his eyes, allowing himself to lean on Mike. “Don’t be sad, he’ll come around.” 

“I wanted to be with you, alone.” 

“And talk about the weather.” 

“Turn it up! Turn it up!” Eddie abruptly screams. “Turn it up now!” 

“Okay, jeez.” Beverly chuckles. “Ooo this song is good.” 

“I’m lost in admiration, could I need you this much?” 

“You’re just, just, just wasting time!” Eddie sings from the back causing Mike to giggle. “Something happens and I’m head over heels!” 

“Don’t take my heart, don’t break my heart!” Beverly sings. 

Eventually, nearly everyone is singing, expect Richie. His face is flushed and his heart is pounding. "How is he so cute, it should be a crime." 

“And this is my four-leaf clover!” Eddie giggles. “In my head, my mind’s eye!” 

“Time flies!” Eddie howls and the group laughs. “I love that song so much!” 

“It’s a classic! Alright, we’re here!” 

Eddie hops out of the van, as he landed on the dirt road. He had never seen the house but heard many stories of it. It is large with a Victorian style. The porch resembled a gaping maw, sunflowers grow on the lawn, and appears to be rotting. Then, Eddie remembers it. He had seen the house in his nightmare. When he abandoned Richie and died.  

He doesn’t know what overcame him, but he barfs. He spits up strings of thick drool and cries as he empties himself. The taste of acid and sugar fills his mouth. 

“Oh shit, Eddie!” 

Mike, Bill, and Ben comfort him, as Beverly and Richie watch in silence. 

“What did she tell you? It’s about Eddie, isn’t it?” 

“What?” Richie said, looking at her. “What are you talking about?” 

“You aren't comforting him. Something is up with you.” 

“Beep beep Beverly, I’m fine.” 

“Richie, I’m going to take him home!" 

“I-I’m fine, Mikey. I just ate too much candy.” 

“You promise me? You look horrified." 

“I’m fine! I mean it." 

He doesn't mean it. He wants to go home. 

*** 

Everything feels so familiar to Eddie, yet so new. He notices a few things, that triggers a memory. He stares at the rotting fridge, expecting the spider beast to appear. It had a human head of a stranger and spider legs. It never does show, so he moves on. 

They have flashlights, a pack of batteries, and a small first aid kit. It was what they needed for exploring the place. As they move upstairs, Richie disappears into a room. Eddie’s instinct orders him to follow, so he does. 

“H-Hey Rich, don’t go far.” 

Richie doesn’t respond, as he is focused on something. Eddie looks forward and sees three old doors. Each of them says a distinctive phrase in red paint. 

Not scary at all. 

Scary. 

 Very scary. 

“Fucking weird, huh? Dare you to open it,” Richie smirks. “I’ll give you $20.” 

“Fuck no, you do it.” 

DONT DONT DONT

“Okay, fine then.” 

Eddie jostles him back, as he grabs the very scary door. He slams it open, awaiting the beast. It just a wall. 

“Eddie, what the fuck?” 

“S-Sorry, let’s go back.” 

They return to the group who decided they had enough. Eddie happily agrees, when Beverly changes plans. “Guys, look what I found!” 

They wander down the stairs into the basement, finding Beverly. She's flashing her light into a gaping hole. The sound of water dripping echos inside, as it leads to the sewers. Eddie’s head spins as he clutches the stairs. 

“Let’s go explore! Come on, wussies!” 

“I’m down, what do you guys say?” 

Everyone agrees, including Eddie with a nervous nod. They step into the hole, one by one. The water is a few inches deep with an awful smell. Mike leaves his flashlight behind, so they can find their way back. They start exploring the sewers, cracking jokes along the way. 

“Guys, we could have an orgy here.” 

“Oh, shut up Richie. Why here?” 

“We have privacy, that’s why!” 

Eddie can’t concentrate, as he stays close to Richie. The farther they go, the more anxious he becomes. They reach a pathway that leads down three different directions. They decide to go right, as they follow a rat. 

“Guys, what if a monster lives down here? Like a real one?” Ben says, holding Beverly's hand. “This town is insane.” 

“It’s not t-that insane. What kind of o-of monster do you imagine?” 

“I got an idea. What about a clown.” 

Eddie’s legs wobble and he nearly slumps. He catches himself against the wall, then rushes to Richie. As they continue talking about the clown, Eddie reaches for his hand. He takes it into his, holding it tightly. Richie feels it instantaneously, looking at him.

 “Uh, Ed’s?”

“S-Sorry, I'm scared." 

The group continues ahead, deep in conversation. 

“Why?” 

“I-I feel like I’ve been here, and something b-bad happened.” 

Richie squeezes his hand as he smiles. “Hey, it’s fine. Nothing is going to happen." 

“I-I feel safe around you, Richie. I like being near you.” 

FAGGOT

FAGGOT

Richie yanks his hand away, turning away. Eddie whimpers, stumbling back. “S-Shit. Let’s go, they're getting far.” 

“Wait! R-Richie, can I-I at least hold-“ 

“No, you can’t! Back off!” Richie yells to Eddie’s face. The smaller boy whimpers, as he backs away. “We aren’t dating, so stop acting like it!” 

“Hey, what’s up with you two!? Let’s go!” 

“Going!” 

Richie catches up to them, leaving Eddie behind in shock. His eyes are moist with tears, as he bites on his lip. His friends sound like blurs, and no one notices his miserable state. 

They're entertained by a scary story that Mike is telling. They approach another pathway and Richie leaves a piece of chewed gum on the wall, so they can find their way back. 

“Guys, w-which way?” 

“Wait, let me finish, Billy. So, then the lady begins opening the door, as the static gets louder.” 

The group listens anxiously for the conclusion, oblivious to their surroundings. “And then...IT BIT HER FACE OFF!” 

They scream as a loud clatter echoed through the sewers. A rat had dropped a can against the cement ground. 

“Everyone run!” 

Eddie snaps out of his thoughts, the screams frightening him. His body tenses, as his flight or fight response, kicks in. He runs down a corridor as fast as he can, his feet splashing against the water. 

He doesn’t follow his friends, as he runs the opposite direction. 

*** 

“Fuck, such good timing!” 

They start laughing once they relax. Then, Richie notices first, as his heart pounds out of his chest. He looks around frantically, then at the group. “Where’s Eddie?” 

“Oh, he was right...Eddie?” Mike says glancing around. It’s silent, with only the sound of rats scampering. “Fuck! Where is he!?” 

“Eddie! Ed’s, this isn’t funny!” Richie starts screaming. “Fuck, this is my fault! Fucking shit!” 

“How is this your fault? He must have taken the wrong way! Let’s go back from where we came, then split up.” 

Richie doesn't dare to tell them what happened. The guilt washes over him, as he realizes how much he hurt Eddie. They run back to the middle, seeing they have two paths to check. 

“We need to split up! Bill and I will go back to the entrance! We’ll stay there if he happens to show up!" 

“I’ll go with Beverly to the right!” 

“I’ll go down the left. I can do it on my own.” 

“Are you sure Richie? What if you get hurt?” Beverly says. “This isn't the safest place.” 

“I’ll be fine. Just wait for me here, when you return." 

“We’ll find him! Twenty minutes we meet up, deal?” 

“Yeah, let’s do this.” 

*** 

Eddie finds himself up in a wide opening, surrounded by knee-deep water. He trips into the water, his costume getting drenched. He screams then begins to sob. He drags himself out of the water towards a large piece of dry wood. It has black spikes poking out and appears to have a hatch. He examines it briefly noting the strange symbol. He doesn't dare to open it. 

He pants heavily, his hands trembling at his sides. “Richie! M-Mikey! Someone!” 

He tugs at his hair, as he pulls out strands. The smell disgusts him and he vomits. As he hurls on the cement, he cries loudly. His body is shaking with fear and aches. 

“I-I’m going to die! I-I can’t, Richie!” 

He curls up into a ball, his sobs rocking his body. He keeps his eyes shut ignoring the smell, cold spreading across his body, and the sounds. He hears rats, water dripping, and even footsteps. It horrifies him. He claws at his wet skin, as he screams into his knees. 

“Eddie! Oh, fuck!” 

“R-Richie!" 

Richie hugs him tightly, as he feels his shaking body. “H-Hey buddy, you’re okay.” 

EDDIE DONT LEAVE ME

“G-Get away! I’m going to die!” Eddie begins screaming, as he sobs. “I can’t! I can’t!” 

“Hey! Look at me!” 

“M-My nightmare, I died! You w-watched me die! You were so s-sad! I-I don’t want to hurt y-you!” 

Eddie wails loudly into his chest, as Richie holds him tightly. He feels how cold his body is and the trembling. Richie blinked away tears, as he doesn't want to worry Eddie. 

“Hey, you aren’t dead. You’re safe okay? We’re both safe. I won’t let anything happen to us.” 

Eddie sobs relax and he’s hiccups. Richie remembers he has to return soon, or his friends will assume the worst. “Move a bit.” 

He pulls Eddie into his arms, carrying him bridal  style, as he walks back. Eddie is as light as a feather, and he easily carries him. They walk silently at ease. Eddie starts sobbing again, and Richie frowns. 

“What’s wrong, Ed’s?” 

“M-My mother’s turtleneck. I-I ruined it.” 

“Alyssa can wash it at my place. Relax, or your give yourself a stroke.” 

“T-That’s not how they w-work," Eddie giggles. “At least I think.” 

“Hey, you never know.” 

“Richie! Oh god, please tell me he’s not dead!” 

Eddie shivers and whimpers again. 

“It's just Beverly. Yeah, he’s fine! He’s just soaking wet.” 

“ Eddie! He’s shivering so badly,” Ben says, touching his drenched turtleneck. “Let’s get him home.” 

“Yeah, sounds good. I never want to return here again.” 

“We can all agree on that. Let’s go.” 

Mike nearly cries when he sees Richie approaching with Eddie. He hugs him, telling him to never run off again. 

Eddie merely whimpers out an apology. Richie runs up the stairs, as fast as he can to the van. He unlocks it, scrambling with Eddie to the back. He takes off his jacket, wrapping it around Eddie.

“Bill, your cape! Give me that shit he’s freezing.” 

Richie warms up Eddie as much as he can. Beverly speeds to Richie’s house, and Richie practically screams at the guard to let them in. 

“What time is it?” Richie asked, as he carries Eddie upstairs. “He’s going to take a shower.” 

“It’s 9:00.” 

The party. 

Eddie begins gagging again, his body shivering. “Hey no, buddy don’t.” 

“M-My stomach hurts. I can’t h-help it.” 

“I know, but try your best. Beverly, I have chicken soup in the fridge!  Microwave it for Eddie!” 

He forgets the party, as he helps Eddie into the shower.

*** 

Richie took off his glasses as Eddie showered. His vision was bad enough to censor Eddie from a distance. He only saw a blurry outline of his body. 

“T-Towel.” 

“Here,” Richie says, keeping his gaze on the floor. He passes a towel to him through the drapes. “Need help?” 

“I‘m okay and the shivering stopped.” 

“Good. Your clothes are washing, so here’s a robe,” Richie says, giving him a black fuzzy robe. “I made sure your mothers turtleneck was washed good.” 

“Thank you, Richie. I owe you.” 

“No problem. Can I put my glasses back on?” 

“Y-Yeah.” 

He cleans his glasses,then put them back onto his nose. Eddie’s face is flushed, his hair messy, and the robe too big for him. 

“Ed’s, I’m sorry.” 

“For what?” 

“I shouldn’t have yelled at you. I’m just not in a good mindset right now.” 

“Why is that? Is everything okay?” 

MY BOYFRIEND IS A FAG 

“I think I’m bisexual.” 

“Huh? Oh! What’s wrong with that?” Eddie says, his face flushing. “Is someone making you feel ashamed.” 

“My girlfriend. She found it.” Richie sighs, his voice cracking. “I’m scared, Ed’s.” 

“It’s okay to be scared, Rich,” Eddie whispers cupping Richie’s face. “Don’t let her get to you. You should be proud of yourself. Don’t let that whore shame you.” 

“I can’t help myself,” Richie whimpers. “I’m not as proud as you. I can’t be as brave as you.” 

“I still struggle with acceptance. It takes time,” Eddie says, smiling at him. “I believe in you. You’re braver than you think.” 

He feels as if he has heard that before, but brushed it off. 

“Thanks, Ed’s. Don’t tell anyone, please.” 

“Understood. How’s your stomach feeling?” 

“Still queasy, but I’m hungry. I think that’s a good sign.” 

“Yeah, you threw up a lot. Let’s go downstairs.” 

As they walk downstairs, Eddie’s hands are still  shaky. Richie notices and takes his hand. Eddie looks up at him shyly, and he smiles. They stay hand in hand for the rest of the night. 

*** 

Beverly leaves the house first with Ben, as they both had a curfew. Then Bill leaves with Mike, and Richie is alone with Eddie. They stay for a bit on the couch, watching horror movies. They wait for Eddie to keep his food down, which thankfully he does. 

He shoves his mother’s shirt into his candy bag, wearing Richie’s black shirt over his overalls. 

“My parents are going to be mad,” Eddie whimpers as Richie shuts the door of his father's car. “I’m scared.” 

“Just let me do the talking,” Richie says knocking on the door. It slams open, and Frank Kaspbrak glares at them. “Good evening sir.” 

“Who are you? Edward, you’re late,” Frank growls, Eddie hiding behind Richie’s figure. “Get inside.” 

“I’m Richard Tozier. He’s late because of me, no need to get him in trouble. My car broke down.” 

“Doesn’t matter,” Frank growls grabbing Eddie by his arm. Eddie clutches Richie’s shirt, whimpering. “Let’s go.” 

“Here, I’ll make it up to you,” Richie says, holding back a growl. He pulls out his wallet, shoving $200 into Frank’s palm. “For the inconvenience.” 

“R-Richie!” 

Richie covers his mouth and grins. “Ed’s, shush.” 

Frank eases up instantly, his frown softening into a smile. “Oh, well then thank you. Are you my son’s friend?” 

“Yeah, I live in the upper side of Derry,” Richie said implying his wealth. “You’ve raised a great boy.” 

“Well, thank you! Come on, Eddie your mother is waiting.” 

“B-Bye Richie. See you later.” 

“See you later, Ed’s. Take care.” 

Frank shuts the door, turning to grin at Eddie. “I like your friend. You’re lucky he saved your ass. Go upstairs to bed, it’s late.” 

“Yes, sir. Goodnight .” 

Eddie stumbles upstairs with his bag of candy and the sweater. He shuts the door, his heart pounding. He dumps out the candy and finds Richie’s devil horns inside. 

He holds them to his chest and smiles. “I love you, Richie.” 

Chapter Text

On Monday morning, Richie anticipated seeing "FAG" spray-painted across his locker. Everyone treats him the same, even Greta. The rumors never spread. He discovers from Maria that Greta got wasted at the party. She blacked out and forgot most of the night. Richie thanks her as he leaves with a smile.

He's at ease that no one knows his secret, expect Eddie and Greta. Eddie is loving and compassionate about it, unlike Greta. Whenever Richie lacks reassurance, Eddie whispers gentle words, as he plays with his hair.

His relationship with Eddie flourished, since Halloween. They spend time with the losers but frequently hang out alone. Most of the time is spent at Richie's home. They watch movies in the theater, play street fighter in the gaming room, or they cook recipes. It doesn't matter what they do, as long as their together.

"Fucking shitballs!"

"Watch the mouth, Kaspbrak. Wouldn't want mommy to hear that."

Richie opens the rear door, as Eddie leaps to the Jeep. Eddie climbs inside, as he shuts the door. "Shut up, Richie! It's freezing outside!"

"Well, good morning to you too. You're lucky I offer you rides."

"You'd never let him freeze." Alyssa snickers, as she begins driving. "You love him too much."

"I'll take money out of your paycheck," Richie taunts and Alyssa laughs. "She's just trying to make you feel good."

"Sure she is, Rich."

December arrived in a rush, along with the cold. The cold was like harsh fire, as it ate at Eddie. His teeth clattered, his fingertips numbed, and he was constantly trembling. Eddie was familiar with this, as Brooklyn wasn't any better. The contrast between the cities is blizzards.

Blizzards are common and the residents are unbothered. They still work, go to school, and maintain their morning jogs. It confuses and shocked Eddie, as he questions how they endure it. When he leaves the comfort of his bed, he becomes a trembling mess.

His parents aren't accustomed much better but manage. He wears the thickest garments, which isn't much. He begged his parents to buy him a coat, but they can't afford it. They could if Frank quit gambling, yet he never does.

"Ugh, I miss Maggie," Richie whines, as he waves to Alyssa. "I love winter, but I can't ride her. Can't risk damaging anything."

"It's just a few months, Rich."

"Hey, that's a long time for me."

"Good morning!" Mike says as he stands by the door. "You guys made it."

"Hey, Mikey! Where is everyone else?"

"Inside like reasonable people. Hurry up! I'm freezing."

***

Eddie grunts as he stands on his toes. He stretches his arm as much as he can, but it doesn't help. Richie had put his notebook in his locker a few days ago. Unluckily, he put it on the very top. Now, he couldn't reach it and Richie was getting his lunch.

He groaned in frustration and gave up. He supposes he can get Richie to help, but didn't want to bother him. He regularly goes to the office to get his lunch from Alyssa. He thinks of asking for help but changes his mind when he sees Greta Bowie and Henry Bowers.

"Shit, where's Richie?" Eddie mutters as he shuts his locker. "Please just leave me alone."

"Where you going, Ed's?"

Greta pushes against him and moans in his ear."You like this don't you, Ed's?"

"D-Don't call me that."

"Don't you like that nickname? Richie always says it."

She thrusts harder on him and laughs. She allows her pale breast to rub on his tense nipples. He clenches his teeth from the impact and whines. The white tube top hardly holds the spheres of soft fat. She is nearly exposed, as only her teats are covered.

"P-Please don't rub up against me."

"You've never seen a good pair? Don't you want to suck on them and kiss them? I bet you do! Just give them a gentle squeeze."

He senses the boner growing in his jeans and wants to vomit. He doesn't want to feel this way, yet his body says otherwise. "S-Stop please."

"What are you, a faggot?" Henry laughs. "Shouldn't you like nice tits?"

"I got such lovely tits. I bet your cock is so hard."

A crowd had formed around them, as boys tried to get a look at Greta's breast. Others were just curious students or expected a fight. "Show us too!"

"You know if Richie sees this, he'll be pissed."

"My baby never gets mad at me," Greta says, grinning at Henry. "He adores me."

"If you say so. Do you even have a boner? You must be a fucking queer."

"I'm not a f-fucking queer."

He knows he can force her off yet he doesn't. He doesn't want to hurt her. He wants to be with Richie.

"Oh, really? Greta, let me at him!"

"Greta? What the fuck! Get off of him!"

Richie pushes Greta off Eddie, prompting her to squeal. Richie sees Henry nearing and glares. "Back off, or I'll have my father up your ass."

Henry nods, attempting to conceal the alarm on his face. Eddie whimpers, as he clutches onto Richie's arm. "Hey Ed's, Give me a second, okay?"

Eddie nods silently, as he lets go of Richie. Greta stands to her feet as she pulls her bra up. "Excuse you!? I'm your girlfriend!"

In a sudden movement, Richie thrusts Greta on the wall. He doesn't hurt her instead, he frightens her. "If you touch Eddie again, I'll make sure my father ruins you. Understood?"

"U-Understood."

"Good, you damn whore," Richie says. He finally says it, though he's terrified when he does. "You're not my girlfriend anymore. I don't give a shit if you tell everyone that I love Eddie."

Richie pulls away from her and takes Eddie's arm. She stands there frozen in shock and then panics. "Wait, Richie! Richie!"

He ignores her as he pushes through the crowd. He pulls Eddie to the nearest teacher lavatory and locks the door. He understands they can get in trouble but doesn't care.

"Are you okay? I'm so sorry I didn't get there sooner."

"I-I'm fine, Rich. T-Thanks for saving me."

"Anytime, Ed's. Did she hurt you?" Richie says caressing his cheek. "Nothing hurts?"

"S-She touched me," Eddie whimpers as the tears swell in his eyes. "She rubbed h-her breast on m-me. I didn't want to push her away."

His nipples are hard and he feels disgusting. He feels as his privacy had been invaded by her breasts, which felt like needles on his skin.

Richie hugs him and Eddie sobs into his shoulder. "I don't like the w-way she touched me. I don't k-know why my body r-reacted-."

"It's not your fault. It's okay, Ed's." Richie whispers as he kisses his forehead. "You're safe. I won't let her hurt you again. Your body couldn't help it, okay?

'O-Okay, Rich. I-I just wanted t-to see you."

"I did t-too. I broke up with her."

"R-Really?"

"Yeah, I can't date someone who hurt you like that."

'The rumor, Rich. She'll tell everyone."

"I don't care anymore. You mean too much for me."

Eddie grabs his shirt and kisses his neck. "Thank you, Rich. You're the best person I know."

"You too, Ed's. Are you feeling better?"

"A little, I suppose."

"You'll feel better soon. Don't worry about her bothering you."

"Why did you use your father as a threat? Henry and Greta looked horrified."

"Having lots of money gives you power. He could easily get Henry or Greta into serious trouble. It's corrupt as shit sure, but it's Derry what do you expect. No one wants to fuck with him."

"Jeez, he seems scary."

"Nah, he's a cool guy. He's never actually used his power in a corrupt way."

"Are you going to inherit his money?"

"Mhm, a crap ton of it. We can use it to go to Italy!"

"Why Italy?"

"We can join the mafia! You like that idea?"

"Ugh, shut up. Come on let's go with the others."

"Whatever you say, boss."

"Don't ever say that again. Hey, Rich?"

"Hmm?"

"It wasn't your fault, so don't blame yourself."

Richie nods and they leave the bathroom.

***

"I'm sorry, guys. I forgot that the jeep was being repaired," Richie says, as the snow crunches beneath his boots. "You guys aren't too cold, right?"

"It's f-fine Rich," Bill says, as he sheathes his neck with his yellow scarf. "It's not that c-cold today. It's quite r-refreshing."

Richie gave rides home to Eddie and Bill. Today the jeep was in repair, and Richie completely forgot. Now, they were walking home together.

Eddie was shivering as he stroked his arms. He attempted to stay warm, yet struggled with his light hoodie. "F-Fuck, I'm d-dying."

"You okay, Ed's?"

"I-I'm f-fucking cold." Eddie whimpers as Richie removes his scarf. He wraps it around him and strokes his head. "H-How do you guys manage?"

"W-We've lived here f-for most of our l-lives, Eddie. Why d-don't you wear s-something t-thicker?"

"T-This is all I got," Eddie says, as his teeth rattle. "I-I wish I c-could buy something."

"Why don't you, Ed's?"

"I can't afford it."

Eddie covered his mouth as the words spilled. He didn't want to appear desperate and weak, especially in front of Richie. He attempts to think of a lie or a joke to cover it up but he can't.

"What? Are you serious, Ed's?" Richie said scratching his head. "How?"

"What do you mean? I'm poor, yeah. Laugh if you want."

"W-Why would w-we laugh?"

"I don't know! Everyone else does," Eddie hisses, as anger bubbles in him. "I don't want to talk about it."

"Ed's, why didn't you say something? I could've brought you clothes or helped you."

"You don't need to do any of that. I have clothes, a nice house, and food. I just can't afford luxuriously."

"A-A coat isn't a l-luxury, Ed's. If you e-ever need anything let u-us know. Specifically, Richie."

"It's because I'm the richest, huh?"

"Y-Yeah," Bill smirks. "Count on h-him the most."

"You guys don't need to worry. I did this in Brooklyn."

"Yeah, well Brooklyn doesn't have Derry blizzards. I got an idea! Are you guys busy tomorrow?"

They say no and Richie grins.

"Good! Be ready by 10:00 am."

"W-Where we g-going, Rich?"

"It's a surprise! I'll take Mike with me. That will motivate you."

"Well p-played, sure I'll g-go. It better n-not be a s-strip club or 
something."

"Good! You in Ed's?"

"Yeah, I'm in. This better be worth it, Rich."

"Hell yeah, it will!"

***

Eddie is up and ready by 9:00 am. He can't contain his excitement, as he sits at the kitchen table. He gazes out the window, as he expects to see Mike's van at the curve. His father strolled into the kitchen and looked at him.

"Why are you awake so early?" Frank asks as he pours a cup of coffee. "You only wake up early for school."

"I'm waiting for a friend. He said he was taking me somewhere."

"Who's this friend?" Frank questions as he sits down. "Do I know them?"

"Richie, the kid who gave you money."

"Ah, that nice chap. Bring him here more often."

"Really? I'm glad you like him!"

"Richie and Mike are on my good side. Mike always gives us discounts on meat."

The sound of knocking on the door frightens them.

"Eddie spaghetti, let me in! I'm freezing to death!"

Eddie opens the door and Richie peeks in, smiling. "Good morning, Mr. Kaspbrak!"

"Good morning, Richie," Frank says as Richie ruffles Eddie's hair. "Where are you boys off to?"

"It's a surprise!" Richie says ruffling his hair. "You don't have to wear anything thick! We're going to be inside."

"Thank god or I'd freeze."

"I came to ask your parents about something."

"Which is?"

"Mr. Kaspbrak, if your son is home by 6 pm, is that fine? I'll take good care of him!" Richie says swinging his arms. "I promise!"

"Hmm, I suppose. As long as he doesn't get home late." Frank says washing his cup. "Eddie knows what happens when I get angry."

"Yes, I do sir," Eddie whimpers. "I'll be home on time."

"Good, you two can go now. I'll let your mother know."

"Bye, dad. See you later."

Frank doesn't answer as he shuts the door after them. Richie glares at the door and flips it off. "You don't understand how badly I want to punch his face."

"He didn't even do anything," Eddie says as he pulls open the van door. "He was nice."

"Pft, that's what you consider nice? I hate how he treats you, Ed's."

"He can do worse," Eddie murmurs as he waves at Bill and Mike. "Hey, guys! Glad to see I'm not stuck with Richie for the trip!"

"Wow, rude just rude!"

***

They ride out of Maine for about an hour. They keep themselves entertained, as Bill plays song requests, Mike tells stories, Richie practices his stand up, and Eddie yells song lyrics. Eventually, the car ride becomes quiet, as the pairs discuss among themselves.

"Hey," Richie whispers as he rests his head on Eddie's lap. "You look great from here."

"You look great too," Eddie giggles as he fixes his messy hair. "When are you going to get a haircut?"

"I thought you liked my long hair?"

"I do. I love it, Rich."

"What else do you love about me?" Richie whispers as he buries his face into Eddie's stomach and tucks his legs in. "Tell me, Ed's."

"Well, I like your freckles. I wish I could count each one."

Richie hums in satisfaction and his hands rub Eddie's back. "Go on. I love it when you talk."

"I like your voice. It's the perfect mixture of pitch and soothing. Even when you're telling a stupid joke."

"Aww so sweet," Richie says smiling at him. "Even when I fuck your mom?"

"Yes, even that. Hey, Rich?"

"What is it?"

"Can I tell you something? Promise not to freak."

"I promise. What is it?"

"I think I'm fall-."

"Guys, we're here!" Mike calls from the front as the van halts. "This is the place right, Rich?"

"Huh?" Richie says as he sits up. "Yeah! Surprise Ed's!"

Eddie looks out the rear window and sees there in a parking lot. "You brought me to a parking lot?"

"Ugh, no you nerd. Look up front!"

Eddie scales the backseat towards the front. Crowds of teenagers stroll towards the large structure. Neon letter lights are plastered on the entrance and spell out a sentence.

Starcourt Mall

"You brought me to a mall?"

"I thought it'd be fun to go shopping!"

"I didn't bring a dime! Rich, what do I do now?!"

"I-I don't think y-you get it, Eddie. He's going to be mad, Rich."

"Eddie, I came to buy you stuff."

"Nope, let's go home now."

"Abort mission," Mike says as he and Bill leave the van. "We'll be outside."

"I get it you're trying to be nice, but I don't want you spending money on me. Please, can we go home?"

"Ed's, come on, please. Can we at least have a look around?" Richie pouts. "Please?"

"Rich, I don't want to," Eddie whines. "You could've at least told me."

FUCK UP! FUCK UP! FUCK UP! 
YOU FUCK UP RICHIE! YOU ALWAYS DO 
NO WONDER MOMMY AND DADDY DONT LOVE YOU

"Well, I'm sorry for just trying to help! I know I'm fucking stupid!" Richie screams as tears wet his eyes. "Just shut up!"

Richie takes off his glasses and holds them in his shaking hands. He sits down and begins to sob. "F-Fuck. Shut up, Richie."

"Richie, I'm sorry," Eddie says hugging him. "Let's go, okay? I promise I'm not mad."

"I'm sorry, Ed's."

"It's not your fault," Eddie reassures as he kisses his forehead. "I'm just stubborn. Let's go and have a fun time, okay?

Richie nods yet they stay in one another's arms.

***

Eddie is astonished by the mall's size and dazzling colors. The stores are designed with flashy colors, pop music blaring through their speakers, and the aroma of food trailing from the food court.

"My God," Eddie mumbles as he follows his friends. "I've never seen such a place."

"Impressive, huh? Even the shopping area in Derry can't compare to this." Richie says as he playfully pushes Bill. "I think we should separate into groups. Eddie and I need some bonding time."

"Is this a d-double date?" Bill says his face flushing. "You s-set this up, Richie."

"Hey, I'm the straightest one here! ," Richie says, as he winks at Eddie. "I just thought you guys would want to hang out."

"Sure, Rich. Let's go to The Gap, Billy. I need to buy a gift for Stacey's birthday. When do we meet up again?"

"Hmm," Richie hums as he stares at his watch. "5:00 by Scoops Ahoy. I want to get ice cream before we leave."

"Sounds l-like a p-plan. Don't l-lose Richie. We should h-have brought a leash."

"Ooh, I didn't know you were into that, Bill!"

"Beep beep! I'll take good care of him!"

They wave to one another then separate.

***

Richie takes Eddie to JCPenny as they have the best clothes. Eddie is overwhelmed by the sheer size of the store. He gawks at his reflection in the glinting floors, coughs a storm in the perfume section, and tries on lipstick with Richie.

"Looking good! You look like Raul Paul!"

Eddie chuckles as he looks into a mirror, as his lips are coated in bright lipstick. "Oh, shut up Richie!"

They move on from the makeup section and go to the men's clothing. Richie grabs anything in Eddie's size, as he tosses it in the pile. Eddie struggles to walk with the pile and grunts softly. "R-Richie, I think this is enough."

"Shhh, I can't hear," Richie says as he tosses another jacket into his arms. "Alright, let's go in a dressing room. You can model for me."

They lock themselves inside the disabled stall (which Eddie feels guilty about) and Richie sits down on the bench. "Start with the sweaters and tops!"

"You picked like twenty of them! Where do I start?"

"Just pick whatever, Ed's!"

Then the "fashion show" begins, as Eddie struts throughout the dressing room. He puts his hands on his hips as he winks at Richie. Richie laughs and teases him with each new pose. They settle on a handful of clothing.

"I think you should buy this one," Eddie says looking at himself in the mirror. The green sweater says, "Don't be a dick" in multicolored letters. "It gives me Richie vibes."

"It looks great on you! You need to wear more stuff like this."

"You just got bored of my plain shirts, huh?"

"They're all the same! The only difference is the red one with the little train. That one is so cute! You're such a dork, Ed's!"

"I'm not a dork! You're just immature," Eddie says with a pout. "I'd like to see you wear something like that!"

"One day, Ed's. What other top do you want?"

"This one! I like it," Eddie says holding a light blue hoodie. It has a kitten on it with the text "hang in there" encircled by pink hearts. "I need this!"

"That's so dorky. You big dork!" Richie says pinching his cheeks. "Cute! Cute! Cute!"

"Stop it!"

They leave with six tops, two belts, three pairs of jeans, a beanie, pairs of socks, and a pair of mittens. Richie holds two large bags as Eddie holds two smaller ones. Richie only brought himself a hoodie and a chain belt.

"I appreciate this, Rich. This is enough for me."

"Nope, you still need shoes!"

"What's wrong with the pairs I own?"

"Nothing, you just need more," Richie says pinching his cheek. "I promise this is the last thing."

"Okay, it better be."

They go into Kaufman Shoes and decide on two pairs. The first pair are pastel pink shoes. They are covered in glitter and hearts. The second pair is black slip ons. As they stand in line to pay, they stand side by side quietly.

Eddie glances around and finds himself interested. Two boys are standing by the boot section, as they talk to one another. One of them has a bowl haircut and is shorter than the other. The taller one has a similar hairstyle but messier. They stand hand in hand giggling with one another. 

He realizes they are a couple and comfortable in public. He envies what they have and knows he shouldn't. He wishes he dared to do that with Richie, but then again Richie doesn't like him.

The shorter boy turns and catches him staring. Eddie turns back around quickly, as Richie looks at him puzzled. "What was that?"

"W-What? I didn't do anything."

"Mhm," Richie says as he puts his arm around him. "Sure you didn't."

Eddie hopes the couple doesn't think he was being rude. He sinks into Richie's side and closes his eyes.

***

Mike sets the shopping bags at their feet, as they sit on a bench. They are in the outdoor dining area, as Bill needed fresh air. They purchased jewelry for Stacey and several video games.

"How do you think Rich and Eddie are doing?"

"Do you t-think they m-made out already?"

"Hopefully, I would say our mission is accomplished," Mike snickers as he leans back. "It's nice to be out here. Alone with you."

"Well, n-no one wants t-to be out in this f-fucking cold, Mikey," Bill says shivering. "We're i-insane."

"We are, Billy. How've you been?"

"I've been f-fine."

"You know what I mean. Is this bad timing?"

Bill does know what he means, yet he doesn't know if he's ready. He's planned this moment for months, yet never acted on it. His hands become sweaty, his stuttering gets worse, and his eyes burn. He's scared of being rejected and losing someone else he loves.

He stares at Mike as much as he can, admiring him like a work of art. 
He loves the way his lips curve into a gentle smile, how his hair smells of coconut, and his delicate laughter. He loves everything about Mike and wants to tell him. He thinks this will finally be the time and acts on it.

"N-No, I've been m-meaning to talk to you a-about it."

"Good to hear. What do you have to say?"

"I've m-moved on from h-him. I don't c-cry myself to s-sleep anymore, t-think all day of his g-golden curls, and wear his s-sweaters. I donated m-most of his t-things recently."

"That's great, Billy! What did you keep?"

"H-His bird journal. I-I couldn't throw it a-away," Bill says his voice cracking. His eyes begin to burn and he wipes at them. "I-I'll always love him, b-but I'm ready to move o-on."

"I'm so proud of you, Billy. You know he'd want you to move on," Mike says as he holds his hand. "We're all proud of you. You're so brave and deserve the best."

"I n-need to t-tell you s-something. G-Goddamnit s-stupid stutter."

"Hey, it's fine to take your time. You can tell me anything, Bill."

Bill glances from his lap and into Mike's eyes. He feels the hot tears on his cheeks and the blush spreading. He's tired of pinning after Mike and feeling like a coward. Stanley wouldn't want this.

He thrust his fists against the posts and still insists he sees the ghost.

"I love you, Mike."

Mike laughs and Bill feels his heart sink. His hands tremble in his lap as he bites his lip. He looks away in embarrassment, as the rejection starts settling. Then, Mike clutches his face tenderly pulling him back to him. Mike's crying and smiling.

"I-I love you too, Bill. I've loved you for so long."

And they're kissing. It's been so long since Bill had kissed so passionately. He presses against Mike, as their mouths fuse. He had expected Mike to be a tender kisser, but he was passionate and hot. He loved it and craved it. Mike presses his tongue into the roof of Bill's mouth, causing him to whine.

"I can't believe it. Did we just kiss?" Mike pants as they pull away. "Or did Richie roofie me again?"

"T-This is all real," Bill giggles as he leans on his chest. "Mikey, will y-you be m-my boyfriend?"

"I would be honored, Bill."

Bill giggles as he kisses him again. It's a quick gentle peck which makes Mike's stomach flutter. The door to the outside entrance opens, as a group of teenagers comes out with food. They sit down a few feet away at a table, chattering.

"Let's go somewhere alone?"

"Mhm, s-sounds good."

They take their things and run to the nearest bathroom. They go into the family restroom, as it's one giant stall, so they are completely alone. They throw the bags onto the floor, as Mike pins Bill against the wall. Their sweet soft hormones have been engulfed by a scorching heat.

"B-Be gentle."

"Always, Billy."

Bill presses his tongue into Mike's mouth, panting hard. He feels Mike's hips buckle against his crotch, causing him to whine. Mike slips his hand under Bill's shirt, as he strokes his nipples. He pinches them gently, as it sends shivers down Bill's spine. Bill draws away to moan loudly, then kisses him sloppily.

"Oh fuck, M-Mikey. H-Have you d-done this before?"

"No," Mike laughs as he pushes back Bill's hair. "Tell me to stop if I do something wrong."

Bill nods, as Mike moves his lips to his neck. Bill huffs as Mike begins suckling on the sensitive skin. Bill groans bucking his hips forward, as his cock pushes against his jeans.

"M-Mikey, s-suck my dick."

"W-What?" Mike says pulling away. He's blushing and soaked in a thin layer of sweat. "Are you serious?"

"Y-Yes, fuck yes," Bill moans as his hips buck again. "I'm begging y-you."

"Alright, don't judge me. It's my first time," Mike says as he gets on his knees. "Pull down your pants."

Bill tugs off his jeans and underwear. His cock bobs freely and Mike takes it in his hand. It's soaked in a layer of precum and Bill winces at his touch.

"I-I'm finally g-getting my dick s-sucked at sixteen," Bill groans. "L-Life is so good."

"I hope I do a good job then," Mike says with a smirk. "Alright, I'm going to start now."

Mike has never sucked cock in his life and didn't understand how to. Bill's cock was of average size and pleasing to him. Mike sinks forward, as he fits the tip around his mouth. He licks all over and sucks on it loudly. It sounds and looks obscene, yet both boys are on cloud nine. Bill groans as he tugs at Mike's hair. His eyes roll back in pleasure and he bucks his hips forward.

"F-Fuck m-me, y-you're so g-good."

He slides his mouth so deep in that he nearly touches Bill's stomach. With one final swirl around the tip, he has Bill cumming. Mike feels no repulsion as cum fills his mouth, and swallows.

"Did you like it?"

"O-Oh, fuck yeah I-I did." Bill pants as he pulls his underwear on. "Did you like it?"

"Well I have a hard-on in my pants, so I think I did."

Bill laughs and hugs him by his neck. "Do you want m-me to r-return the favor?"

"I would accept but it's 4:50."

"Oh shit, E-Eddie and Richie are g-going to kill us!"

"You know they're understanding. Besides they love being alone."

"T-True! 'm happy t-to be your b-boyfriend, Mikey."

"Me too, Bill."

He kisses his forehead and they start gathering their things.

***

"Finally!" Richie says as he licks an ice cream cone. Eddie is standing by his side slurping a smoothie. "You guys took- Woah."

"W-What?" Bill says as Mike takes his hand. "You l-look surprised."

"I'm just surprised by your little gem," Richie smirks as he points to a hickey on Bill's neck. "You guys tied the knot or did Bill meet a hooker?"

"Ugh, beep b-beep Richie," Bill says quickly wrapping a scarf around his neck. "Y-Yeah, we did."

"Congratulations guys!" Eddie says bouncing. "I'm happy for you!"

"Thanks, Ed's," Mike says kissing Bill's cheek. "You guys ready to go home?"

"Yeah, you guys don't want ice cream?"

"We already ate. Let's just go before we are late for curfew."

The group walks out holding an obscene amount of bags. Eddie watches Bill laugh and cling to Mike. He smiles and his heart twinges. He feels courage and looks to Richie. He seems to be lost in thought but he's smiling. Perhaps Eddie will tell him.

***

Eddie is grateful his father isn't home as he barges through the door.

"Oh, Eddie! Who is all of this for?" Sonia says taken aback by the amount of bags. "Did you buy all of this?"

"Richie brought it for me!" Eddie says placing about ten bags onto the floor. "Do you want to see what he got me?"

"Sure, Eddie. Let's go upstairs so Frank doesn't see."

Sonia helps Eddie take his bags to his room and she sits on his bed.

"How much did this cost him?"

"I don't know, mommy."

"Jeez, Eddie you shouldn't have made him buy you all this. His family worked hard for that money. Is this JCPenny?"

"I know, mommy, but he promised he was happy buying me this."

And Eddie is rambling about Richie. He doesn't realize until his mother laughs.

"What's so funny?"

"You like this boy, don't you?"

"Yeah! I love Richie," Eddie says then blushes. "N-Not in that way."

"You like him don't you, Eddie?"

"N-No I don't mommy!"

"Honey, I'm not mad. You know I'm fine with you liking men. If you like the boy you can tell me. I won't tell Frank."

Eddie nods as he sits next to her. He wraps his arms around her waist, burying his face into her chest. "I do like him, mommy. I like him a lot."

"Well, as long as he treats you well and cares for you, I don't see a problem. Just be careful, Eddie. I don't want your heart getting broken."

"I know, mommy. I love you."

"I love you too, Eddie."

Chapter Text

Snow doesn't arrive in Brooklyn, until December. It begins with a mild breeze and petite flakes. Driveways need to be shoveled, parents need to arrange schedules as schools canceled, and drivers are cautious. The first snowfall is stressful for the city, except for Eddie Kaspbrak and Charlie Aguilera.

“I love the first snowfall,” Charlie says, switching on the lights of the artificial tree. “In a few hours, it’ll turn into a shitstorm.”

“Yeah, for now, let's enjoy it,” Eddie replies as he leaps from the couch. “I’m thrilled my parents let me spend Christmas with you.”

Charlie's blonde locks are tucked beneath a black beanie, his palms covered by mittens, and he's wearing a Christmas sweater.

“Me too, Eddie! You excited to open our gifts?”

“Hell yeah, I am! I appreciate your parents buying me gifts.”

“Don’t worry about it! We know your family's financial situation isn’t the best. It’s the least we could do.”

"I got you something too,” Eddie says as he squirms toward his chest. “It isn't as good as your gift."

"All your gifts are good. Do you want to stay up? Christmas is in two hours."

“Of course, Char."

"Great, I'll get hot chocolate and a film."

Eddie watches him with tinted cheeks. He smiles widely and stands to his feet. He leans on the frosty window and peers outdoor. "I'll miss this place, just a little. Probably just you, Char."

He whispers it softly enough that Charlie doesn't hear.

“I’m back. So, the Grinch or Home Alone? Your choice, Eddie.”

“You know me well enough, Char."

"Home Alone, it is!"

***

Eddie sits in the vacant room and fidgets with his palms. The habit passed for some time and it pleased him. Although, it came back on Christmas Eve. He feels as an electric storm is traveling through his fingers. Fidgeting is the only outlet in which he finds relief.

His parents are working extra pay for the holidays and aren't coming back till tomorrow. There's no tree in the living room, no twinkling lights, and no gifts. His parents went to the comic store and brought him several comics featuring Wonder Woman. It was essentially, what they could afford, and he appreciated it. Even with new comics, all he wanted to do is spend Christmas with them. Of course, that never happened. It'd been years since they were together during the holidays.

He leans on the dusty sofa and lays his head on a pillow. He's watching the Grinch yet longs for Home Alone to air. It was the last film he watched with Charlie before moving to Derry. He's in the middle of the film when the telephone rings.

He dashes to it then presses it to his ear. “Eddie Kaspbrak speaking.”

“Hey, Ed’s! What are you doing?"

“Hey, Rich,” Eddie says then pauses. He doesn’t know if he wants to be honest or lie. “I’m with family.”

“Oh, I see. Having fun?”

“Yeah, I guess. How about you?”

“I’m with the losers at my place. I was going to ask you if you wanted to sleepover?"

“Sorry, I can’t go. I’ll see you tomorrow, maybe? Have a good Christmas Eve.”

“You too, Ed’s.”

He sets the phone against the wall and sighs. He doesn’t understand why he lied. Perhaps it's the shame that he's alone on Christmas Eve. He's supposed to be with his family, yet he isn't.

“I hate this," Eddie cries as he shuts his eyes. "I miss you, Chars."

He forgot the pet name he'd given him. Hearing it slip out of his tongue has his heart aching. Charlie adored the nickname, and his face brightened when Eddie said it. Perhaps that's the only reason he ever said it.

Eddie falls asleep at some point. The sound of knocking awakens him and he moans. “Going!”

“Eddie spaghetti!”

“O-Oh, Richie!” Eddie says in surprise. “What brings you here!?”

Richie is wearing a necklace of shiny snowflakes, a polar bear sweater, and a pair of jeans. Eddie giggles and grabs the accessory. “Nice outfit.”

“Thanks, your mother said I looked handsome!"

"Sure, she did. Aren't you throwing a sleepover?"

"I came to see you and leave a gift."

“That’s kind of you, Richie. It'd be better if you come tomorrow."

“Aww, please, Ed's!” Richie said peeping inside. Eddie whimpers and pushes him back. “I yearn for Sonia!"

"R-Richie, just g-go!"

He closes the door, bolts upstairs, and into his room. As he sits on his bed, his breathing grows rapid. He starts to cry and covers his face with his shaking hands. He wants to leave and thinks of fleeing by the window.

“I-I‘ll worry him. He's supposed t-to be having fun,” Eddie says to himself. “I ruin e-everything."

The door squeaks open and Richie peeps inside. He smiles at Eddie and waves. “Hey, Ed’s. Can I come in?”

Eddie nods and Richie shuts the door. “I know, I-I shouldn’t have lied.”

“Why did you? I’m not angry, Eddie,” Richie says sitting next to him. “You know I can’t get angry at you.”

“I h-hate that. I wish you would.”

“Why? You’re perfect and I’d never want to hurt you,” Richie says kissing his cheek. Eddie whines and leans on his arm. “You mean well with everything you do.”

“You’re too nice. I don’t deserve you.”

“We deserve one another, Ed’s. How about you come with me to my place? I’m sure your parents won’t mind.”

“N-No, I’m okay here.”

“Okay, I’ll stay with you. No way are you celebrating Christmas Eve alone.”

“Ugh, Richie.” Eddie whimpers. “Fine, you win.”

“Why’d you lie, Ed’s? ”

“I didn’t want to look like a loser,” Eddie mutters. “I’ve never spent Christmas Eve alone till now. I was always with Charlie or family."

Richie tenses his fist and bites his lip. He hates it when Eddie mentions him. It infuriates to know Charlie hurt Eddie, but it's not just that. He feels another emotion but can't explain it.

“Well, you are a loser. You're part of the losers gang after all."

"I'm not, at least I think. I haven't heard Beverly say I am."

"Ugh, who cares what she says! You're a proud loser. We're losers forever, Ed's. We don't have anything to lose. We have each other."

"I suppose, Richie. I appreciate you coming."

"It's cause I love ya. Now let's go to my place," Richie says, pulling Eddie to his feet. "I'll leave cash on the counter. It's only for my sweet Sonia."

"My mom's nice to you, leave her alone."

“I am being nice!"

"I think you're just hitting on her. Will your parents be there? I'm looking forward to meeting them."

Richie scowls and his eyes shift side to side. "No, they won't be home."

"Oh, I thought they'd be home for the holidays. Are they working?"

"No, they're just busy," Richie says, turning away. "Pack your stuff for the night. I'll be downstairs."

Eddie nods as he decides not to pry to the topic. Seeing his reaction is enough for him to know, Richie doesn't want to talk about it. He'll bring it up another day, just not now.

He packs his pj’s, change of clothes, toothbrush, his inhaler, anxiety medication, and a few gifts. He puts it in his duffle bag and sticks a note on the table.

Hi, mom and dad. My friend (Richie) invited me to sleepover at his house. I'll be back tomorrow afternoon. Love, Eddie

Richie sneaks a $50 bill beneath the note and follows Eddie outside. As Eddie is locking the door, he turns on Maggie.

“I thought you weren’t riding her?”

“I changed my mind, plus it's the fastest way to get here,” Richie says, as he helps Eddie on his seat. “She can handle it.”

The trip is silent as Eddie leans against his back. He wraps his arms around his waist and closes his eyes. He can feel Richie's long hair tickling his face, but it doesn't bother him. While Richie is putting Maggie in the garage, Eddie awes at his house.

Golden lights are tangled within the stairs, columns are wrapped in red ribbon, and the door has been painted red.

"Nice decorations."

"Thanks, Eddie spaghetti! Now get inside I'm cold!"

When the door opens, Eddie is enticed by the smell of freshly baked cookies. It's a sweet scent of cinnamon blended with ground ginger. It evokes the memory of the bakery in Brooklyn. He would visit Mrs. Lilith (the owner) and eat truffles with her, as they talked about flowers. One evening, he went to see her and never saw her again. He cried the night she passed away. He still remembers that tulips were her favorite.

The losers are gathered as a large blanket is covers them. They are sat in front of a fireplace, decorated with pine garland. A plate of gingerbread cookies rest on Mike's lap, and Beverly steals one.

"Think fast, Mikey!"

"Stop eating a-all the c-cookies, Bev!"

A pine tree is adorned with colorful lights, glistening ornaments, and a great star on the top. It reminds Eddie of his celebrations with Charlie. It causes his heart to throb.

“Eddie, you made it!” Mike says with a grin. “I’m glad you got him to come, Richie!”

“You know I’m good with words,” Richie says as they join them. “You can set your bag by the wall, Ed's."

Eddie places his duffle bag with a pile of bags.

"Where's Alyssa?" Richie asks, sitting next to Beverly. He puts his arm around her, then smooches her cheek. "I'm starving."

“Don't kiss me, you rat,” Beverly responds, wiping her cheek. “She's cooking dinner with her friend. They’re making garlic knots with lasagna.”

“You love me,” Richie says, biting into a cookie. “You know that’s her girlfriend, right?”

“Ella isn't her girlfriend."

“Is too! Alyssa, come here!”

Alyssa rushes into the room with a woman by her side. Alyssa is wearing a red gown with a white coat. Her hair is messily tied, and her hands are soaked in butter. "What is it, Richie?"

The other woman is wearing a long green dress and has mistletoe tied in her hair. She wore a pair of glasses in front of her dark eyes. She smiled shyly at Eddie and waved.

“Are you and Ella dating? Beverly says your not, but I think you are.”

“Beep beep Richie, don’t be rude!”

“I’m just asking! So, are you or not?”

“We are, right? You're my cute worm!” Ella says pinching her cheek. She laughs and throws her arms around her. “Alyssa is my sweetheart.”

“Not in front of the kids, El! Yes, we are partners.”

“Why is everyone gay? Should I become gay too?”

“Aren’t you a little bit gay, Rich?” Eddie mutters into his ear. “Like 50% gay?"

“Shhh. Thanks for answering our question! You should get going! I think the food is burning."

“Oh, dinner will be ready soon!”

They watch them run to the kitchen and continue talking. They discuss recent school drama, Eddie’s new fashion style, and the events with Greta.

“What a whore. I never liked that girl, Rich. I told you she was bad news,” Beverly says. “I’m glad you broke up with her.”

“I know, Bev. I wasn't letting her get away with what she did to Ed's.” Richie says as his arm is wrapped around him. Eddie leans into him and yawns. “Have you been feeling better?”

“Yeah, I’m okay about it.”

“Kids, come eat!”

They sit at a long oak dining table. Red cloth covers it, and it’s decorated with green stars. A candelabra with red sticks of melting candles lights up the table. Lush pine bushes are set neatly in the middle with mistletoe. Alyssa and Ella bring them their plates one by one, along with a glass of wine.

"Don't any of you snitch," Ella warns, waving around a knife. "Or, you will face my wrath."

They cooked fettuccine mixed with pieces of chicken. Its coated in creamy alfredo sauce with bits of chopped parsley. The smell makes Eddie’s stomach growl, and he licks his lips. The garlic knots are baked to a golden brown color and smothered in butter, herbs, and garlic

“A toast to a fantastic Christmas!” Richie howls as he raises his glass. They clink their glasses and laugh. “Let’s hope someone gets laid tonight!”

“Gross, Richie!”

When dinner is over, it’s 10:30 and they start cleaning. Everyone helps with a task and they finish quickly. They decide to snuggle on the couch and watch a movie. Alyssa brings the television into the room and puts on The Nightmare Before Christmas. Mike and Bill makeout, Ben falls asleep in Beverly’s lap, Alyssa and Ella’s watch the film, and Richie is whispering to Eddie.

“Do you think they’ve fucked?”

“Gross, Richie. I don’t want to know if they have.”

“I do, let's ask them? Mikey won’t mind answering”

“Don’t you dare or I’ll leave.”

“Alright, we’re off to bed. Will you kids be fine on your own?” Alyssa says standing with Ella. “Is it fine if we take the guest bedroom, Richie?”

“Yeah, of course. We’ll be fine, don’t worry.”

“Alright, don’t burn the house down. Remember to turn off the fireplace. Goodnight, and have a good Christmas celebration.”

The sound of the door clicking shut causes Beverly to smirk. She shakes Ben awake and Richie giggles.

“Benny, wake up. What time is it?”

“11:10 pm,” Ben yawns, glancing at the clock on the wall. He sits up and rubs at his eyes. “What are you guys up to?”

“Well, Bev and I wanted to play something,” Richie says as Beverly reaches for her backpack. She takes out a bottle of liquor and shakes it. “I love you so much, Bev. Let’s play spin the bottle!”

“Can we play anything but that?” Mike says as he peers from the blankets. “Why not truth and dare?”

“Are you chickening out? Come on, just a few rounds. Besides, this version has a twist to it.”

"How do you play? I’ve never played this,” Eddie asks as he sits up. “Does it involve drinking?”

"We all get in a circle and spin the bottle. Whoever it lands on from its bottom and top have to kiss. Then, you have to take a sip of the liquor after kissing.”

“I’ll play a few rounds. I'm not the biggest fan of alcohol, so I won't drink much."

“Yes, Eddie! Come on, what do you guys say?”

They assemble into a circle and spin the bottle. It lands on Beverly and Richie, first.

“I get to kiss the sweet lady,” Richie says pulling her close. “What a great way to start.”

“I bet you'd want to kiss someone else,” Beverly says and Richie shuts her up with a kiss. He bites at her lower lip and she gasps into his mouth. “You’re a good kisser.”

"I know I am."

Eddie's face is bright red, as he looks at Mike with wide eyes. Mike grins at him and Bill winks. “Does Ben not care?”

“He knows they’re like family. Beverly would never date Richie.”

"Psh, are we in Alabama?"

“Alright, who’s next?!"

They spin again and it lands on Mike and Eddie.

“Really? Okay, let’s do this again.”

"W-Wait, again?"

Eddie yanks Mike into a deep kiss. He moves his hips and groans loudly, into his mouth. Mike smirks and Eddie pulls away. “I-I didn't mean to groan, sorry."

"It's okay, Eddie."

Richie stares at the floor, feeling his cock twitch and his face heating up. "Fuck off."

“Stop m-making out w-with my boyfriend,” Bill chuckles as he kisses Mike’s neck, and pulls him back to his chest. “You e-enjoyed that t-too much.”

Mike doesn’t take a sip but Eddie does. He nearly gags at the bitter taste and sticks his tongue out. “How do you guys drink this shit?”

“It’s delicious! Spin the bottle!”

It lands on Ben and Bill, who quickly kiss and take a small sip. Then Bill and Beverly, Richie and Mike, Eddie and Bill, and Mike and Beverly. At the end of it, the bottle is nearly empty and their all tipsy (expect Mike and Ben).

“Christmas is in ten minutes!” Beverly giggles and kisses Richie’s cheek. “One more round!”

They spin the bottle, and it lands on Eddie and Richie. Richie giggles and Eddie blushes.

“Come here, Ed's."

“Kiss! Kiss!” Bill and Beverly chant.

Eddie smiles nervously and moves closer to Richie.

“U-Uh, let’s do this.”

Richie leans in and presses their lips. Eddie closes his eyes and clenches his shirt, moaning into his mouth. Richie bites at his jaw, his throat, and suckles on the skin. Eddie groans and shifts the growing boner in his jeans.

"F-Fuck, Richie."

“Uh, g-guys, get a r-room.”

“Christmas is in five minutes!” Beverly laughs. “Stop making out!”

“S-Sorry, Richie.” Eddie whimpers. “I didn’t mean to-.”

“It’s fine, it’s just part of the game,” Richie says with a grin. “Take the last sip.”

Eddie nods and moves away. "Yeah, just part of the game."

Eddie swallows the last sip and tosses the bottle. They huddle by the Christmas tree and watch the clock tick. When it strikes 12, they scream and hug one another.

“Merry Christmas, losers!”

They open gifts from one another, as Richie pours them hot cocoa.

“Thank you so much, Richie!” Mike says hugging him. Richie gifted him a Rolex watch, encrusted with diamonds. “I wanted one for so long!”

Eddie gifts everyone matching mittens his mother knitted. "I-I know it’s not that cool, but she worked on them for a while. Sorry I couldn’t get anything better.”

“Shut up, Eddie! We love it," Mike says hugging him.

Eddie received a Wonder Woman figurine, a record player (he nearly cried opening it), a tricky worm, and a first aid kit. Once they finish, Eddie, Ben, and Beverly clean up the wrapping. Meanwhile, Mike and Bill set up the sleeping bags, and Richie turns off the fireplace.

“I’m pretty tired from tonight,” Richie admits with a yawn. “I’d insist we stay up, but booze makes me sleepy.”

“I agree, let's sleep.”

They take turns to use the restroom to brush their teeth. Eventually, everyone is tucked in the bags and Richie shuts off the lights. The living room is dark, as only light from the windows peers in.

Richie curls into his sheets and glances at Eddie. He’s rolled over on his side, facing away from him. Beverly and Ben, we’re sleeping in each other's arms and so were Bill and Mike. Richie felt a twinge of jealousy, as he yearned to do the same with Eddie. Instead, he closes his eyes and falls asleep.

***

“Eddie! E-Eddie!”

He groans in pain, as a heavy pressure presses against him. His lungs feel crushed and he wheezes. “C-Can’t breathe.”

“E-Eddie! E-Eddie.”

It’s pitch black, yet he can hear Richie nearby. He tries pulling away, but the pressure gets heavier. He turns forward, as a blinding light stings his eyes. He nearly screams when he opens his eyes, as Greta Bowie Is pressed against him.

She pushes her hand against his mouth and grins. "Shh, Ed's. Don't want R-Richie to hear."

Her skin is peeling and drips green pus, her eyes are bulging, and drool drips out of her mouth. Her frizzy hair is covering her bare chest, and she grins at him. Her teeth are gone, and her gums are covered in blood.

‘Ed’s, kiss me and suck on my sweet tits. Show me that you aren't a faggot."

“Get off o-of me!”

Her breast press into his face and he can’t breathe. Her teats drip with puss and feel disgusting. He gags and begins scratching at her face. Her skin strips underneath his fingernails, and he shrieks. He feels his clothes being stripped and closes his legs. He can still hear Richie screaming, yet he's distant now.

“Kiss me! Kiss me!”

“R-Richie! Richie, help me!”

Eddie heaves and stirs with a frightening tremble. The moonlight beams through the window onto his friends. He’s relieved to see them, but the panic sets in. He starts hyperventilating, his cheeks are tainted with tears and he trembles in his sheets. He attempts to compose himself, but he’s too scared. He doesn’t want to wake up the others or worry them.

He looks at his side and sees Richie moving in his sleeping bag. He pulls free of his sleeping bag and runs to the bathroom. He shuts the door and leans on it, wheezing.

“S-Stupid w-whore.”

He takes toilet paper from the counter and cleans his face. He does a few breathing exercises and calms himself. A knock at the door alarmed him, and he opens the door slowly. Richie yawns and smiles at him.

“R-Richie, why are you awake?”

“Need to pee,” Richie says as he steps inside. “Turn around or do you want to see my peepee?”

“No, I’ll pass,” Eddie responds, turning away. “I’m going back to bed. Goodnight, Rich.”

He closes the door silently, then goes back in his sheets. He closes his eyes and winces. He sees the pus, the sensation of her body, and the odor of rotting flesh. He opens his eyes again and sees Richie in bed.

He wants to beg for comfort but doesn’t want to keep him awake. He stays quiet for a few minutes, then cries. He weeps into his pillow as he pants for air. His lungs are tight, and his hands shake as they clutch his pillow.

“Ed’s, are you awake?”

“Y-Yeah.”

“Are you okay?” Richie asks, sitting up. “You don’t sound too good?”

Eddie looks at him and whines. Richie understands he's crying and pats his lap. Eddie crawls to him and moves onto his lap. Richie holds him and kisses his temple. "Nightmare?”

“Mhm, it was about h-her.”

“I’m sorry, Ed’s. We’re all here and she can't hurt you."

Eddie looks at him as the moonlight reflects on his face, and makes Richie’s dark eyes flicker. He wonders if Richie is tipsy and if he’ll remember tonight, so he kisses him. Richie opens his mouth as he allows the kiss. His hands move to Eddie’s hips and hold him in place. Eddie pulls away, as a string of saliva drips out of Richie’s mouth.

“F-Fuck, I’m sorry.”

“Do it again,” Richie groans and his palms clutch a handful of his ass. Eddie whines and he tugs Richie's hair. “S-Sorry, can I touch you?”

“Mhm, please do,” Eddie whimpers. “R-Rich, we’re going to wake up the others.”

“What do you want to do, baby?”

“R-Room, please.”

Richie stands to his feet and puts Eddie over his shoulder. Eddie holds on by his neck, and Richie holds his legs. He steps over their sleeping friends and up the stairs. He opens his bedroom door and gently sets Eddie on his bed.

He locks the door and sits next to Eddie. Eddie moves back to his lap and they’re kissing again. Richie doesn't move his hands from his hips, yet he wants to touch Eddie more but doesn’t want to upset him.

“O-Oh, fuck Richie.”

“You’re so fucking hot, Ed’s.” Richie groans between their lips. “I’m so fucking horny.”

“M-Me too, Rich.”

Richie’s hands move underneath his shirt and rub his nipples. Eddie lets out a high whine and pulls at Richie’s hair. His cock throbs in his pants and his hips buckle forward. “F-Fuck.”

Richie continues to caress them until they become pink nubs. “C-Can I take off your shirt?”

"Please d-do.”

Richie pulls off his shirt and tosses it to the floor. He leans on top of Eddie and grinds against him. Eddie moans as their cocks rub against one another. He sucks at Richie’s lower lip and Richie squeezes his ass.

“O-Oh, you’re so fucking hot.”

He grabs the soft fat and Eddie groans as he pushes his cock on Richie’s thigh. Richie’s hips jerk forward, and they kiss sloppily. Sparks are shooting through both of their bodies as they desperately touch one another. Neither boy wants to take it too far, so their pants never come off, only their shirts.

Richie bites at Eddie’s tanned skin and leaves love bites on his neck. They do this until they both become tired. Eddie is on top of Richie's chest and his hands in his hair.

“I-I’m so drained, Richie,” Eddie says and kisses his cheek. “I-I can’t anymore.”

“You’re still hard. Do you want to do something?” Richie asked, keeping his hand on Eddie’s ass. He gives it a soft squeeze and Eddie squirms. “Only if you want to.”

“No, sorry Richie.”

“Don’t worry about it, babe,” Richie says pulling the bedsheets. "Are you tired?”

“Mhm, a little.”

“We can go to sleep. I'm tired too."

“Yeah, let's do that.”

Richie's at ease with Eddie in his arms and a hard boner in his pants. Even if they aren’t doing anything, he’s still happy. He kisses his forehead and moves Eddie to his side.

Eddie begins to cry. He cries softly into Richie’s pillow and Richie sits up in a panic. “Ed’s? Eddie? Did I fuck up? I’m sorry I thought you-.”

Eddie smiles at him then kisses him. It’s not a hot kiss like before, but a soft one. His stomach jumps, and his face heats up. “I-I love you, Richie. I-I’ve loved you for so long.”

“You mean that?” Richie whispers. “You do, Ed’s?”

“I do, Rich. I love you so much.”

“I love you too, Ed’s. You’re the best thing in my life," Richie says kissing his ear. Eddie hums and entwines their fingers. “You make me so happy.”

“Are we dating?”

“Hmm, if you want to.”

Eddie pats his cheek and Richie laughs. “I’m messing with you, Ed’s. Of course, we are.”

“Good or I would’ve killed you in your sleep.”

“Kinkyy.”

“Ugh, I’m going to break up with you.”

“You don’t mean that,” Richie says kissing his jaw. “Go to sleep, Ed’s.”

“You too, Rich. I love you.”

“Love you too, baby. Goodnight.”

“Goodnight.”

They fall asleep hand in hand and madly in love.