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Sense Memory

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Startled awake, Eddie blinked, grumpily, as the overhead lights in the dim hospital room suddenly flared to life...brightly. He glared at the insensitive intruder as Richie groaned in agony, hands coming up to cover his face. Oh, good. Frat boy Mark was back to check on Richie.

Mark didn't even try to dim the lights, he simply walked in as if he owned the place. He wasn't quiet either. He opened and closed drawers with no regard for Richie's noise sensitivity. Richie put a hand to his head, a grimace of pain clear on his face. Eddie grit his teeth. He sat up.

"You can just keep your eyes closed for now, Mr. Tozier. I know the lights are bright. I'm just going to take your vitals." Mark crooned, one hand rubbing Richie's arm. "Wow, you must work out, you have some serious muscles here. Look at you." Mark squeezed Richie's bicep, fondling it a little longer than necessary. Richie's eyes flew open, one hand coming up to shield them from the intense glare of the lights. He looked over at Eddie, his eyes were distressed. Mark let the back of one hand 'accidentally' graze Richie's pec. Mark feigned embarrassment, giving Richie a flirty smile. Richie looked uneasy and anxious.

Eddie was getting seriously pissed now. This smug little bastard was taking full advantage of Richie's sweet, laid back nature and his traumatic brain injury to touch him inappropriately. Richie looked so uncomfortable. This was bullshit! And it was going to stop...now.

Eddie slid off of his roll-away bed, stomped over, and dimmed the lights with a vicious twist of his wrist. Mark's perfectly coiffed head shot up. He raised an eyebrow at the short dark haired man who was currently staring daggers at him.

"Concussion friendly." Eddie said through a mouth full of clenched teeth. " My husband is having trouble with bright lights and noises. They hurt his eyes and his head. But you already knew that, Mark."

Mark's friendly expression turned sour for a second before he forced it into an overly bright toothpaste commercial grin. It was fucking creepy. It reminded him a bit of Henry Bowers.

"My apologies, Mr. Kaspbrak. I'll try to be more careful." He turned his attention back to Richie, who was still looking at Eddie. Mark wrapped the blood pressure cuff around Richie's arm. Eddie watched Mark squeeze the bulb. Richie flinched but didn't say anything as his blood pressure was taken. He suffered quietly through Mark's endless groping and pervy comments, not saying much as the man then took his temperature and finished taking down the rest of Richie's vitals in his iPad. "Your BP looks much better, Mr. Tozier. Your heart rate is down, almost to normal, your temperature is 99.7 degrees, which could be better, but your lungs sound clear. Dr. Baynes will be by in the morning to see you. And I'll be back to check on you again in four hours, sir." His voice was sugary sweet as he spoke directly to Richie. He patted Richie's arm.

"No." Eddie spoke up, arms folded across his chest.

"Excuse me?" Mark looked shocked that Eddie would dare tell him no. He stared at the shorter man and put his iPad down on the bedside table.

"I said, no. You will not be by again in four hours. I don't want you anywhere near my husband." Eddie moved closer, almost into Mark's personal space.

"Mr. Kaspbrak…sir, please, I'm trying to do my job..." Mark said in that overly sweet tone that he'd been using on Richie, hands up to try and placate Eddie. He had a flirty, cocky smile on his full lips that had no doubt granted him whatever he wanted in the past. He seemed to think that turning the college boy charm his way would sway Eddie somehow, as if he could seduce Eddie out of being angry at him for being unprofessional with Richie. Eddie's dark eyes narrowed and he lifted his chin.

"I said no, asshole! You are hindering his recovery! You burst into this room at the asscrack of dawn while he is sleeping and nearly blind him when you damn well know he has vision issues, you make enough noise to raise the dead when it's more than obvious that he's suffering from a severe concussion and you use your position in this hospital to put your hands all over a man with a traumatic brain injury. You make inappropriate comments that make my husband very uncomfortable. I don't appreciate it and I will be filing grievances with the administration if I see you anywhere near this room or my husband again. Now get out. You make me sick." Eddie pointed at the door. His color was high, his brown eyes blazing and even in the dim light, it was easy to see the anger rolling off of him.

"I'm going to tell my supervisors that you wouldn't let me finish my assessment of Mr. Tozier." Mark sneered at Eddie.

"You tell your supervisors whatever you want, dude. I promise you, they'll be more interested in my version. Now get the fuck out of my husband's room."

Mark snatched up his iPad and cast one last baleful glare at Eddie before he swept out the door. The heavy door shut solidly behind him.

"My hero." Richie gave him a shaky, grateful smile.

"Can you believe the nerve of that guy? Are you okay, Rich? How's your head? Come here, look at me." Eddie moved over to his side. He cupped Richie's face, tilting his head up. Richie grabbed one of Eddie's hands and pressed a kiss to the palm. Eddie gasped, shuddering, his hand flexing. "Rich…"

"You take such good care of me, Eds. Watching over me while I sleep, making sure I get my pain pills, defending my honor." Richie smiled at him, rubbing his stubbled cheek against Eddie's palm. Those blue eyes were soft and full of affection.

"Always." Eddie whispered, fingers stroking the bristly hair on Richie's jaw. "We should try and get back to sleep. Someone will be back to check on you in a few hours and you need your rest. You never answered me, though. How's your head, honey?"

"It's...still attached." He joked, turning serious the next minute. "Achy, throbbing behind my eyes, and not feeling too great here." He lifted one hand and gently laid it on the top of his head where the bandage was, wincing a little as he did so.

"Yeah, that's where your 'mild skull fracture' is according to Dr. Baynes. Be careful, don't prod at it. And the other pain you mentioned is from your concussion. She said it could be up to six weeks before you feel better. I still don't know if they're going to keep you another night. We'll have to see what she says when she comes to do her rounds. Try and get some sleep now, Rich." Eddie pressed a gentle kiss to Richie's temple.

Eddie walked back around and climbed into his bed. He slid under the covers, pulling them up to his shoulders, and turned to face Richie. Richie was watching him, a soft smile on his face, even with lines of pain around his eyes.

"Good night." He whispered and Eddie gave him a smile. Richie closed his eyes with a sigh.

"Night, Rich." I love you. Eddie felt a longing in his heart so powerful he almost gasped out loud. He remembered feeling this way when they were teenagers. Not this strong perhaps, but the longing was there. He'd feel this way when he looked at Richie sometimes, when Richie was teasing him or when Richie would hog the hammock in the clubhouse. Eddie would do something to keep the other boy's attention on him. He'd start an argument or force his way into the hammock so that they were sharing it. He hadn't realized that he was in love with Richie until the Toziers had moved away from Derry in their sophomore year. He'd cried for a week and his mom had threatened to admit him to the hospital. Eddie had thrown himself into his schoolwork and slowly worked through his grief of losing his best friend and crush. He wrote Richie letters but never sent them.

Eddie wiped away a couple of tears and closed his eyes. Richie was here now and he needed Eddie's help. If he was going to help, he needed to get his rest. He listened to the rhythmic beeps of the monitors and Richie's soft snores. He soon fell asleep to those soothing sounds.

TBC...