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Sense Memory

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Richie stirred, slowly waking. He registered the soft beeps of the machines first. He noticed Eddie's friend, Mike, sitting in what he had started calling Eddie's chair. Mike was asleep, his head bent, soft snores coming from him.

Richie wondered where Eddie had gone. He didn't have to wonder for long. Eddie and Bill stopped right in front of Richie's open door. Eddie had a suitcase in one hand. Richie smiled softly as he looked at his beautiful husband, about to call out a greeting to Eddie. Movement caught his eye, distracting him. Bill had placed his hand on Eddie's arm. He pulled him into a less than brotherly hug and when Eddie pulled back, Bill pressed a tender kiss to the right side of Eddie's mouth. Eddie didn't kiss him back, just stood there and let him, but he didn't seem to mind.

Richie felt his heart drop, his stomach clenched and gave an unpleasant lurch. His injured brain whirling frantically to fully comprehend what he had just witnessed. Eddie was smiling at Bill. He gently squeezed Bill's hand and then moved forward to push open the door.

Eddie's smile widened as he saw that Richie was actually awake. He could see some pain in his best friend's eyes, but it didn't seem quite bad enough yet to ring for the doctor. Bill walked in right after Eddie and closed the door behind him, startling Mike, who jerked awake.

"Hey, Rich." Bill chirped happily, as if he hadn't just been hitting on Richie's husband.

"Hi, Bill." Richie replied, with a tight smile. "You're married, right? How's your wife? Does she know that you're bisexual? Possibly Eddie-curious? See, I'm just asking because you can't seem to keep your hands or your lips off of my husband." He raised an eyebrow at the writer. Bill turned red and shared another look with Eddie. Mike looked between the other men, confused as to what had happened while he was asleep.

"Rich, we've always been a very tactile group. I swear, there is nothing going on between me and Eddie." Bill said, running a hand through his hair.

"Yeah, it certainly looked like a whole lot of nothing…" He turned his gaze on Eddie, who was depositing his suitcase in the corner of the room.

"Richie, Bill is our friend. We've known each other forever…since childhood. I promise you, I have never been unfaithful and I'm not interested in anyone else. It's always been you. Always." Eddie said, softly.

"He's your friend, Eds. I don't even know the guy." Richie sullenly rolled his eyes, but then, looked back at Bill. He saw the anguish on the other man's pale face, the sparkle of tears shining in his blue eyes. He felt a sliver of guilt even though he was still resentful of Bill's obvious closeness with Eddie and that kiss.

"We've been friends longer than anyone, Rich! You do know me! You just forgot! You and me and Stan…we were the first members of the Losers' Club! Eddie joined us a little later and we…we were all inseparable! You think I'd try and steal your husband? I would never ever do that!" Bill cried. Richie blinked at the volume of Bill's voice but otherwise showed no reaction.

Mike put a hand up and gently moved Bill to the corner of the room, whispering to him. Bill shook his head and then slowly, nodded. He wiped his eyes.

"Eds? We're going to head back. Bill needs a break. We both love you, Rich. Get some rest and we'll see you tomorrow sometime, okay?" Mike nodded at Eddie and corralled a sad, tired looking Bill out the door.

"You certainly still know how to clear a room, Trashmouth." Eddie remarked, his voice reproachful. "That was harsh, even for you." He moved about the room, straightening Richie's pillow and blanket, readjusting the call button. His movements were extremely precise, almost robotic, and Richie realized that Eddie was furious.

"Eds…" Dark brown eyes glared at him. "Eddie…"

"I understand that you're hurt and you're confused and…" He lifted a hand, the side of it pointing out towards Richie as he tried to emphasize his statement. "It has to be frustrating as fuck, but being a complete and total dick to the people who are just trying to help you...that's not okay, Rich! I love you, but I'm kind of pissed at you right now. Bill and Bev and Ben and Mike, they love you, they have been so worried about you and I know you don't remember them right now but you don't remember me right now either! Should I leave? Do you not want us here? We don't have to stay if you don't want us. We can go. We can all just..." Eddie was loudly ranting and waving his hands around wildly now.

"No! No, I don't want you to go!" Richie shouted, gritting his teeth afterwards as the noise hurt his injured head. He clutched at it, a pained growl coming from his throat.

"Shit! Oh, shit, Rich, fuck! I'm sorry! I'm sorry!" Horrified at himself for causing Richie to re-injure himself, Eddie punched the call button. He gently pulled Richie to him, holding his head lightly against his chest. "I'm sorry, honey, I'm so sorry."

Richie slowly let his hands drop, pulling Eddie closer, his long fingers digging into Eddie's arms.

"Mr. Tozier? I need you to lift your head. Mr. Kaspbrak, I need you to step back, please." Dr. Baynes was suddenly right there, gently untangling him from Eddie's arms. Eddie stepped back and let the doctor take care of Richie. She lifted his head with both hands and checked his eyes. Richie groaned as he tried to accommodate her commands. "Look at me, okay, look to this side and back the other way. Look up, please."

Eddie scrubbed his hand over his mouth as he watched, fretting internally about setting Richie back in his recovery. He knew it was stupid, Richie was conscious and answering all of Dr. Baynes' questions. Eddie can't get the pain on Richie's face or the pained growl he made out of his head.

He closed his eyes, shaking his head. He was soon lost in thought about what had happened to all of them since they had all returned to Derry.

"Mr. Kaspbrak?" Dr. Baynes said, her tone of voice clearly indicated that she'd been trying to get his attention for some time. Richie gave him a strange look.

"Hmm?" Eddie looked at her, "I'm sorry. You were saying?"

"Please be aware that loud noises and stress are not good for your husband right now. I know all of this is stressful already but you have to try to control your temper." What the fuck? She was scolding him like he was a child. His hackles rose, he felt like he did when his mom would try and run his life.

"I don't have…" Eddie began heatedly, then closed his eyes and clenched his hands into fists. He was obviously counting to ten. He slowly opened his eyes and relaxed his hands. "I understand. I will try to watch myself and be quieter. I'm sorry." 'I'm sorry, Mommy.'

"Thank you, Mr. Kaspbrak. I can have a roll-away bed brought up if you'd like to stay with him tonight. Visiting hours are almost over but I can make an exception. I'm not completely heartless." Dr. Baynes gave him a smile and a wink.

"I would appreciate that. Thank you." Eddie looked embarrassed.

"Dr. Baynes, I brought the tablets for Mr. Tozier." Sally said softly, handing Dr. Baynes two tablets and a small cup. She gave Eddie a tight smile and nodded to Richie before walking back out.

"I know it hasn't quite been six hours but it's close enough." Richie took the Tylenol from her and the cup of water. He swallowed them and tipped back the water. Eddie took the cup from him and Richie leaned back against the pillow. Dr. Baynes patted Eddie's arm and left.

"I'm so…" Eddie began, sad eyes leveled at Richie.

"I know. I know you are." Richie sighed, reaching a hand out for Eddie's. "Me too. I saw him kiss you and I got so jealous. I didn't like seeing another man's hands on you, Eddie. Or his lips." He confessed, gently squeezing Eddie's hand.

"I promise, it wasn't like that. I'm not interested in Bill that way. I've never seen you react like that before. How's your head? Still hurt?" Eddie reached up with his free hand and caressed Richie's head. His fingers were tender and soothing. Richie made a soft throaty noise and moved into the touch like a cat, closing his eyes.

"That feels better." He murmured. Eddie continued stroking his head. Richie gave a little yawn and blinked his tired eyes.

"Do you want to sleep some more, baby?" Eddie asked, fingers still rubbing.

"All I do is sleep." Richie pouted. Eddie smiled, Richie was adorable.

"You're recovering from a trauma, Rich. You need to sleep and rest your body. I know it's exhausting, but it will help. I'll be here when you wake up."

"You said that before and Mike was here when I woke up." Richie complained.

"Now, I think you're just trying to start a fight." Eddie shook his head, still smiling. "Go to sleep. I'm not going anywhere. They're going to bring me up a bed and I'll be right here all night. Okay?" He leaned down and dropped a kiss on Richie's mouth.

"Okay." Richie agreed, "Kiss me again?" Eddie did and then, stepped back when a knock on the door interrupted them.

The door slowly opened and a hot male nurse they had never seen before began to wheel in a twin sized roll-away bed. He had a college boy look to him and, in Eddie's opinion, an ostentatious air. He reminded Eddie of a frat boy on the prowl. He was a brunette with pretty blue-green eyes and full pouty lips. He looked like he should be on the cover of GQ or some trashy Harlequin romance novel.

"Mr. Kaspbrak? I have a bed for you, sir." He said, barely looking at Eddie. His pretty eyes were fixed on Richie. "How are you feeling, Mr. Tozier? I'm Mark. I'll be one of your night nurses tonight. I heard that you had some pain earlier." His tone was simpering and it pissed Eddie right off. Frat boy was flirting with Richie right in front of him! Unbelievable!

"Hey, they brought me some painkillers, so I'll be good, thanks. I'll probably be asleep soon. Husband's orders." Richie joked, as he watched Mark set up Eddie's bed, with tired eyes. Mark straightened the light blue bed sheets, and fluffed the pillows. He unfolded the thin cotton blanket and drew it back.

"He's looking out for you, that's sweet." Mark turned and gave Eddie an insincere smile. He quickly turned back to fawn all over Richie. "You get some sleep, Mr. Tozier, and I'll be back in a few hours to check your vitals. Call me if you need anything. Good night." Again, he barely looked at Eddie. With a smile at Richie, Mark closed the door behind him.

"'Call me if you need anything'? Gross." Eddie muttered, rolling his eyes. He had been right! That little asshole had been hitting on Richie in front of him! The thought made him nauseous and angry all at the same time. He glared at the door, folding his arms over his chest. "Asshole!"

"What?" Richie looked at him, eyebrows creased. "He was doing his job. Why are you being weird?"

"Oh, no reason. No reason at all. Maybe he'll come back and fluff your...pillow for you later...give you a sponge bath..." Eddie replied, cattily, instantly feeling stupid for acting like a jealous brat over some random guy flirting with Richie.

"Seriously? You're jealous of that kid? I'm not interested in…ok, I get it now. This is what you were trying to tell me when I got jealous over Bill kissing you. You're in love with me, not him. You know I'm in love with you." Richie said. "That kid doesn't stand a chance because I love you."

"I know. I know you do." Eddie said, sadly. He didn't know, he didn't know anything anymore. For all he knew, Richie had a serious girlfriend back home or someone he had been interested in. This plan of Bill's was a bad one. Someone was going to end up getting hurt. Whether it was Richie or himself remained to be seen. "Go to sleep, Rich. I'm going to get changed and do the same." He came around the bed and kissed Richie's cheek. "I love you, too."

Eddie grabbed his suitcase, put it on the bed and began rifling through it. He pulled out his soft track pants and a clean t-shirt. He turned to go into the bathroom to change.

"No need to be so shy on my account, Eddie, we're married, I'm sure I've seen you change clothes before." Richie said, pointedly.

Eddie flushed, this was actually true. All of the Losers, even Bev, had changed clothes in front of each other. And if he was supposed to be Richie's husband, he wouldn't flee to the bathroom to change. He sighed and stripped off his polo shirt, careful of his wounded cheek. He put it on his bed and grabbed the soft t-shirt. He put it on and heard Richie sigh. He looked over at the man, questioningly. "What?"

"Such a shame to hide that body under clothes. You are the hottest little thing I have ever seen, Eddie Kaspbrak." Richie grinned at him, his eyes heavy-lidded. His hungry gaze slid from the top of Eddie's head to the tips of his toes. Eddie's toes curled in his socks.

"Shut up." Blushing, Eddie glared at him, removing his shoes and socks and shucking his jeans. He was now standing there in his t-shirt and black cotton briefs. "I am not little!" He snatched up his track pants. "Or hot."

"You are to me but you're also fucking magnificent, sweetheart. Jesus, you're fiery and compact and absolutely gorgeous. Baby, I don't know what I did to deserve you, but, fuck, I am a lucky, lucky man." Richie was still grinning that bemused grin at him.

Eddie realized he was just standing there nearly half-naked in front of Richie, track pants hanging from one hand. He quickly pulled them on, straightening his shirt. Flustered, he began folding his dirty clothes, not looking at Richie. He could feel his face burning. Richie laughed at him softly.

"Cute, cute, cute! God, Eddie, you really are adorable when you're shy." 

"I am not." Eddie pouted, not realizing that he was just making Richie's case.

"I think you are." Richie said and then yawned. Eddie gave him a soft look and a tiny smile.

"Go to sleep, Rich. I'm going to brush my teeth and I'll be right back." Eddie took his Listerine, toothbrush and toothpaste into the cramped hospital bathroom. He brushed his teeth carefully, remembering not to be too rough, and rinsed twice with the Listerine.

He looked at himself in the mirror. He wasn't sure what Richie saw in him. He was average height, his looks were also average, in his own opinion. He had big, dark, sad-looking eyes and a pleasant enough face. When they'd been kids, Eddie had been smaller than most of the boys their age, smart in a nerdy sort of way, timid, and asthmatic. Sometimes, he still felt like that kid. He shrugged, wiping his mouth on the hand towel provided.

Richie had just started drifting off when Eddie reappeared from the bathroom. He watched Eddie repack his toiletries and his clothes and put the suitcase back in the corner, out of the way of traffic. His eyes lingered on Eddie's perfect little ass. Holy shit! You could bounce a nickel off that thing. He made a noise and saw Eddie turn towards him. He saw the man's eyes widen a fraction and then saw him shake his head, lips pursed.

"Quit checking out my ass and go to sleep, Richard." Eddie rolled his eyes. Well, that was a sentence he never thought he'd ever say, especially not to his best friend. Richie had always said dirty things about girls and of course, Eddie's mom. That should have been a clue right there, he supposed. Too interested in talking about girls with no obvious girlfriends around.

"It's a very nice ass, Eds." Richie spoke up, voice rough. Eddie climbed into his roll-away bed and got comfortable. He rolled over to face Richie.

"Thank you...I guess." Eddie mumbled, mildly embarrassed.

"You're welcome, sweet cheeks.” Richie said, a smile clear in his voice.

"Good night, Richie." Eddie smiled into his fluffy pillow. He couldn't help it, Richie was absolutely incorrigible.

"I saw that! Good night, baby. I love you." Richie blew him a kiss.

"Love you too, asshole." Eddie snickered. Richie laughed. They both closed their eyes.

 

TBC…