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Sense Memory

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Dr. Baynes did her own assessment of Richie's vitals and checked his eyes. Richie complained of light sensitivity,  dizziness and blurry vision, even worse than normal. Clay added input and nodded as the doctor advised him on proper treatment. They discussed his movement restrictions and how often he could take pain relievers. 

Eddie half listened to their conversation as he pulled out his cell phone to call Bill with an update on Richie's condition. Bill answered on the second ring. 

"Eddie?! Is everything okay? How's Richie?"

Bill sounded anxious. 

"He's awake and being checked over right now. They're going to move him to a private room,  but there has been a complication…kind of. Billy, he has amnesia. He didn't…" Eddie paused, trying not to cry again,  "He doesn't remember me. He didn't even know his own name. He doesn't remember Pennywise, any of it." Eddie rubbed the back of his neck.

"Oh,  shit. Nothing? What did the doctor say?" Eddie heard the rise and fall of other voices in the background. A higher pitched voice that had to be Beverly mixing with the deeper timbres of the guys. 

"You guys will be allowed to visit him two at a time. There's five of you so someone will be…" Eddie cut off,  eyes closing. "Four of you. Right. That's what I meant. Stan…Stan's gone. Fuck. I have to go, Bill. They just finished Richie's assessment and we're going to move now. I'll call you in a bit." Eddie hung up. 

"You know, it's not nice to lie, Eddie." Richie said,  looking at him. Eddie jumped, realizing Richie had caught the tail end of the conversation. Nervously,  he smoothed his dirty hair back with one hand. 

"It's not really a lie,  the doctor is almost finished. We'll be going shortly. Bill was just asking too many questions that I couldn't answer." He didn't meet Richie's eyes. 

"Who is Stan?" Richie asked curiously,  watching as pain, naked and cutting, flashed across Eddie's face. Those expressive dark eyes finally raised to look at him. 

"A friend. He died." Was the wooden reply. Richie felt his heart clench. This had obviously been a recent loss,  the pain was fresh and deep. 

"I'm sorry." He said,  his voice soft and sincere. 

"He was your friend, too. He was a good person and a great friend. We all miss him very much." Eddie cleared his throat as it began to ache. 

"Mr. Tozier,  Mr. Kaspbrak, we're ready now. We're going to unhook the machines and take you down to the first floor. You'll be in a private room." Clay said.  He and a female nurse with auburn hair and blue eyes, Sally, began unhooking Richie from the monitors. Richie lay back against the pillows, his eyes closed,  one hand touching his head. 

"You doing okay, Rich?" Eddie asked, rubbing Richie's other hand. The other man looked like he was in a lot of pain, his brow was creased and his expression pinched. He was still quite pale,  as well. 

"Head really hurts." Richie whispered, gently rubbing his temple. "And I'm getting sleepy." 

"I'm sorry,  honey." Eddie brought Richie's hand up to his lips,  kissing it. It startled him, that would have been something he did for Myra. He slowly released Richie's hand, his own brow now creased in confusion. He might be getting in too deep by pretending to be Richie's husband. 

"Eddie?" Richie sounded surprised that the sweet touches had suddenly vanished. He opened his eyes. 

"I'm right here,  babe." Eddie heard himself say. Again, 'honey' and 'babe' were usually his nicknames for Myra. That or 'Marty' and he had no idea where they'd come up with that one. He picked up the hand he'd let go of and gave it a squeeze. He didn't mean to pull away,  he just felt guilty about lying to Richie, that was all. 

"The hallway will be extra bright so Mr. Tozier will probably feel better if he keeps his eyes closed until we get to the private room." Sally suggested. Richie made a soft sound of agreement and closed his eyes again. Clay unlocked the bed and began pushing it with Sally leading the way. Letting go of Richie, Eddie followed her.

Richie winced as Clay loaded the bed onto the large elevator,  leaving barely enough room for Eddie and Sally. Eddie pushed the button for the first floor and waited for the doors to close. 

"So, tell me more about this Bill guy." Richie pressed, eyes still closed. Eddie hesitated. He wasn't sure what he should and shouldn't tell Richie. He locked eyes with Clay and shrugged. 

"That's kind of like cheating on an exam,  isn't it?" Clay asked. 

"Nobody asked you,  Clay." Richie sighed. 

Clay rolled his blue-gray eyes at Sally,  who smirked. She raised an amused eyebrow at Eddie. He gave her a tight smile and lightly stroked Richie's hair. 

"Bill's an author. Horror stories. His wife is an actress." Eddie said. 

"Oh my God! You're friends with William Denbrough?!" Sally exclaimed. Richie flinched at her shriek. "Oh,  I'm so sorry." She covered her mouth. "I love his books...well, not the endings."

The elevator dinged and Richie groaned. He heard the others moving out of the car and felt Clay pushing the bed down the hallway. They came to stop in front of patient room 127.

 Sally went in and unlocked the bed that was in there. She wheeled it out. They moved Richie's bed in and began setting him back up with the monitors and the IV bags. Richie was hooked back up with the heart monitor and heart rate clip. They clipped wires to all his leads but Sally removed his nasal cannula stating that he no longer needed it. She asked Eddie to help her fluff the pillow and arrange a heated blanket over Richie. Clay dimmed the lights. 

"You can open your eyes now,  Mr. Tozier. It's concussion friendly now." Clay told him. Richie did so. Clay and Sally took their leave soon after. 

"Well,  isn't this romantic?" Richie smirked. He leered at Eddie, who was now seated next to the bed in a comfortable chair. "Come here often,  handsome?" 

Eddie gave a soft, startled laugh. If only Richie remembered. He'd practically lived here. His mom should have a hospital wing named after her because she had dragged Eddie to this place for every tiny cut and scrape. 

"Are you seriously flirting with me while you're horribly concussed? Save the sweet talk for later,  stud, and get some rest. I have to call Bill back and let them know you can have visitors." Eddie began to dig in his pocket. Richie reached out and touched his arm. Eddie froze, their eyes locking. 

"Before they get here,  can I…will you…Eddie, can you…just one kiss?" Richie seemed so shy and uncertain. Eddie blinked,  positive he was blushing as he leaned forward and gently brushed their lips together in a chaste kiss. He quickly pulled back. "What kind of kiss was that? What am I,  your mother?" Richie teased. Eddie bristled, hackles rising as he fought off embarrassment for giving such a lame ass kiss to his concussed fake husband. 

"You're recently concussed and can you please knock it off with all the 'I fucked your mom' crap? It's getting really fucking old!" 

"The what?!" Richie looked shocked,  almost horrified. Eddie pinched the bridge of his nose. 

"Fuck!  Never mind!  I'm calling Bill. We'll talk about it later." Eddie dug out his phone and called Bill. Richie sat stiffly in the bed,  once again closing his eyes. "Bill,  we're in the room now. It's 127. Yeah. He's…he's in some pain still but he can't have another round of Tylenol for another hour and a half. Two at a time. Right. You guys decide. We'll be here. Bye." He hung up the phone. 

Richie eyed him warily. Eddie leaned up and pressed an apologetic kiss to his cheek. Richie's rigid muscles slowly loosened and he sighed, as his body relaxed against the firm mattress. 

Both men turned as the knob turned and the door came open. Ben and Beverly peeked around and broke out into huge grins as they saw Richie. 

"I'm so glad you woke up,  sweetie. I'm Beverly. This is Ben." She felt stupid introducing herself to her friend but she knew he didn't recognize her. 

"Hi…to both of you." Richie gave them a wan smile. The woman was beautiful, red headed with a nice figure and a kind face. She had amazing green eyes. The guy was scruffy chic. He was gorgeous,  looked like an athlete, muscular but not beefy. He had pretty eyes and a friendly demeanor. 

"How are you feeling,  Rich?" Ben asked, his voice deep and rumbly. 

"Like the other guy won." Richie snorted, gesturing to his head. 

Ben,  Beverly,  and Eddie all exchanged looks.  Beverly licked her lips. They had  cleaned up, but it was obvious that they'd all been through something crazy and unpleasant. 

"So,  I feel like Rip Van Winkle here. You know,  fell asleep, missed a bunch of stuff, feeling like the odd man out." Richie piped up, feeling awkward around these other people. 

"You scared the hell out of us,  man. We thought…" Ben broke off, closing his eyes. Richie realized he was fighting tears. Beverly stroked Ben's arm and Richie saw Ben squeeze her hand. 

"We wanted to see you and tell you that we love you, Rich. We're sorry that you got hurt but we're so happy that you're going to be okay, honey." Beverly moved over to the bed and kissed him softly on the cheek. "Get some rest now and let Eddie take care of you. Mike and Bill are pacing the floor out there waiting to see you." She cupped his cheek and moved back a little to let Ben move forward. 

Ben leaned down and gave Richie a gentle hug and he also kissed Richie on the cheek. Blushing, Richie gave Eddie a helpless look. Eddie just smiled warmly at him. 

"We'll send the others in. Listen to the doctors and let Dr. K. here fix you up,  OK, Rich?" Ben cleared his throat. 

"Dr. K?" Richie asked, looking at Eddie. Eddie blushed and looked away. Ben patted Eddie on the shoulder. 

"Eddie knows a lot about patching people up. We all thought he'd end up as an MD or something like that."

"We'd better switch out or Bill will explode." Beverly joked. She touched Ben's elbow and he nodded. 

"We'll stop by tomorrow." Ben said,  knowing it was better not to crowd Richie as he recovered. Eddie hugged them both,  kissing Beverly's cheek as they headed out. 

"So,  he's hot." Richie noted. "He looks like a…"

"Brazilian soccer player." Eddie said with him. "Yeah. Ben has lost a lot of weight. He was chubby as a kid. He's been in love with Bev for as long as I've known him."

"Oh,  so he and Beverly are together?" Richie asked,  sounding a little too interested. 

"Do you want me to call him back and you can ask him?" Eddie snarked,  not liking this jealousy he had over how hot Richie thought Ben was. 

A knock on the door interrupted them. Two men stepped into the room.  One was tall, black and very good looking with a friendly face and kind brown eyes, the other was pale, but handsome and fairly short with a streak of gray running through his light brown hair. He had a worried, anxious look about him. 

"Richie,  thank God,  man. You scared us pretty bad there for awhile." The taller man said,  his expression relieved. 

"I'm Bill and this is Mike. Eddie says you don't remember much. I'm sorry,  that must be strange. I've known you and Eddie since we were in second grade. My mom used to call us the Four Musketeers… Oh,  we had a friend named…" Bill said. 

"Stan. Eddie told me. Well,  he didn't tell me,  I heard him mention Stan to you on the phone. I'm so sorry for your loss. All of you." 

Bill and Mike gave Richie awkward smiles and nodded. They looked at Eddie as the silence stretched on. 

"Rich has a pretty severe concussion,  the doctor said there's also a minor skull fracture,  and as you know, he has retrograde amnesia. I don't mean to rush you through your visit but he needs to rest and you all need to go back and shower and eat. And change clothes." Eddie said.

Mike looked down at himself and over at Bill. They still looked pretty ragged and dirty. He nodded,  touching Bill on the sleeve. 

"Visiting hours are until 8pm. Get cleaned up and come back. I promise we'll still be here." Eddie said,  reaching out to run a hand soothingly up and down Richie's arm. Richie relaxed more into the pillows, yawning. He winced and put his hand up to his head again. "It's OK, Rich, they'll be back. Go ahead and sleep. I'll keep an eye on you. I'm not going anywhere, I promise." Richie slid a hand into Eddie's, trusting in him to stay. 

Mike and Bill exchanged glances,  both looking back at Eddie. Eddie had always been the caretaker of the group. He looked out for everyone but himself. 

"We'll be back soon,  Eddie." Mike said as he and Bill left to go round up Ben and Beverly. 

 

TBC…