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Sense Memory

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Around 1 pm, a smiling Beverly peeked around the door,  waving a little white bag at Eddie. She was dressed in a soft gray blouse and black pants that she had no doubt designed herself. She came in quietly. Richie was still sleeping, thoroughly exhausted from his traumatic catheter removal. He looked pretty rough, hair matted and wild sticking out of his bandages, dark circles under his eyes, patchwork quilt of colorful, healing cuts and bruises on his face. Eddie thought he was still gorgeous. 

"Poor Rich. How's he doing?" She asked coming over to perch on the edge of Eddie's rollaway bed. She didn't wait for an answer to her first question as she looked over at Eddie's sad, pale face. "How are you doing, kiddo?"

"Honestly? I'm not so great, Bevvie. I just want to take him home and wrap him up in bubble wrap, you know? He's been through a lot." Eddie snorted,  "Fuck, we've all been through a lot, I just mean that he's kind of drifting by himself. We remember everything and Rich, God, Bev, he has no fucking clue what hell we've been through. He doesn't remember his own middle name right now. He doesn't even know his favorite color. Jesus, what are we doing here, Bevvie? I know that Bill only had the best of intentions but I should really tell Richie the truth about us not being married and let him make his own decision of what he wants to do after this…"

"Do you really think that's in his best interest, Eds? Like you said, he's alone but right now,  he doesn't feel alone because he has you. He has someone he trusts and relies on. Someone who loves him. And you do love him, don't you? You always have." She took Eddie's hand and gave it a squeeze when Eddie bit his lip and nodded. "Sometimes, that's all you need to fight your way back from something like this. Let's get him better and then we can focus on the other stuff. I brought his replacement glasses. He might like to see the world he woke up to. What do you say?" She pulled out a case and opened it, revealing a pair of dark framed glasses that resembled Harry Potter's but that would look amazing on Richie. 

"Thanks, Bev. These are great. Rich will love them." He took them from her carefully and kissed her cheek. She blushed a little and patted his leg. 

"Ben is waiting to take me to lunch at Nan's Luncheonette. Do you want anything?" Eddie shook his head at the offer, his eyes on the sleeping man beside them. He didn't want Richie to wake up and be alone. 

"Raincheck?" He asked.

"Absolutely. Take care of him for us." Standing up, she gave Eddie a lovely smile. "Hey,  take care of yourself too, Eds. We can always take over for a little while if you need a break." She leaned over and kissed him next to his mouth. Eddie blushed and nodded. 

She looked over at Richie one last time before she went out the door. Eddie winced as the heavy door made a loud noise as it shut. He saw Beverly through the window as she flinched and mouthed 'Sorry.' One hand lifted up in a kind of apology. He raised a hand in silent acknowledgement and she left. 

Richie stirred and Eddie hurried over to soothe him. Richie's sleepy eyes fluttered open slowly,  the lids slightly heavy. He frowned adorably for a second as he registered where he was. 

"Hey, Sleeping Beauty. You feeling okay?" Eddie took his hand, rubbing his thumb over Richie's knuckles. 

"How long was I asleep?" Richie blinked, reaching up with a fist and gently rubbing his eyes. He looked like a giant version of himself at eight years old. Eddie felt his heart clench. 

"About three hours. You were exhausted after Scott removed your catheter. Dr. Baynes stopped by and said if you were feeling up to a little walk around the wing later,  you might just get out of here sometime today. Oh, and Bev brought you new glasses so you can tell one colorful blob from another." 

Richie made grabby hands and Eddie laughed softly. He grabbed the case and opened it up. 

"Hurry,  I want to see my adorable husband." Richie pleaded. Eddie slid the glasses on him and stepped back. "Oh,  wow. I was wrong. You are not adorable." Eddie blanched at the unexpected, hurtful remark, pain welling in his dark eyes. Richie's teasing smirk fell off of his face immediately as he saw the light dim in Eddie's pretty eyes. "Oh, Eddie, sweetness, I didn't mean it like that. Come here." He gestured for Eddie to come closer. Eddie hesitated but then came forward. Richie took his hand. "Darlin',  you are stunning, breath-taking, absolutely gorgeous, and totally out of my league." Richie sighed. "Don't think I don't know that. What are you doing with a gross old man like me?"

"You're not old, Rich." Eddie protested softly, "And you're only a little gross…sometimes, but not due to your looks at all because you're kind of a stone cold fox,  Richie Tozier." Eddie said and then, blushed, eyes lowering to stare at the blanket on the bed at Richie's feet. 

"Oh,  honey,  are you sure I'm the one who needs glasses?" Richie brought Eddie's hand up to his mouth,  pressing a kiss on his knuckles. Eddie's head snapped up and he looked at Richie, indignant on his behalf. He hated when Richie put himself down, even in jest. 

"Don't say that! You're a famous stand up comedian with a pretty big female following. Trust me,  babe, it's not the jokes. You told us that you don't even write your own stuff! I've heard it and it's not you. But those girls aren't there for the jokes,  Rich. They're drooling all over your cute butt and those blue eyes of yours. And it's not just the females either. You're a heartthrob, Rich." Eddie dimpled as he grinned up at Richie's face. Richie was blushing and looked unnaturally shy.

"Are you trying to make fun of me, Kaspbrak?" Richie asked,  softly. 

"No,  I'm trying to flirt with my husband,  Tozier. Who looks sexy as hell in those little round glasses, by the way. Holy shit,  babe. Harry Potter, eat your heart out. So, you ready to blow this joint or what? Dr. B says all you have to do to get the all clear is prove to her that you can walk around the corridor twice and back."

"As long as you're with me every step of the way. So I don't fall and break my ass."

Eddie rolled his eyes,  smirking. He leaned forward and kissed Richie on the corner of his mouth. 

"I promise, I won't let you fall and break your ass,  dipshit. What kind of husband do you take me for?" He wore an innocent expression. 

"Um,  let's see,  cute, bossy,  short…" Richie quickly listed items on his fingers. 

"Maybe I will let you break your ass." He pretended to be mad,  pulling his hand out of Richie's with a pout. 

"Ah,  no! Don't be like that,  Eddie, my love. You are the beach to my ocean,  the flower to my honeybee, the salt to my pepper…" Richie batted his eyelashes. 

"Idiot." Eddie said fondly, leaning back down and taking Richie's pretty mouth in a kiss. The kiss deepened fairly quickly and they jerked apart at a noise by the door. 

"Whoa! Sorry, I knocked." Ben said from the doorway,  hand covering his eyes. He had a soft smile curling his lips. "Everyone decent?" He dropped his hand. 

"Not in the least." Richie declared,  waggling his eyebrows at Eddie and Ben, then winced. "Eddie,  don't let me do that eyebrow thing least, not until I get better." He groaned, rubbing his aching head. 

"Dumbass." Eddie murmured,  gently massaging Richie's head. Richie sighed as Eddie's fingers scritched through his hair. "What's up, Ben? I thought you and Bev were getting lunch at Nan's."

"We are...It's just that I know you've had… problems...with your apartment in New York,  Eddie, and my dad's cousin, Vicky, lives in Newport and she's going on a European vacation for the next three months. I spoke with her and she's willing to let you and Rich stay in her apartment while she's gone so you can get things all settled before you go home or whatever. She leaves tomorrow but you can move in whenever. It's a two bedroom, two bath, just about a mile from Sebasticook Lake. Sound proof walls, nice pool with a jacuzzi, fire pit out back, uh, big king-sized bed in the master bedroom…" Ben cleared his throat nervously. 

Eddie's eyes flew wide in surprise and he stiffened, mouth dropping as he realized what Ben was doing. 'You sappy romantic sonofabitch.' He groaned inwardly.

"Rich and I will talk it over, Benny. Thanks, man." Eddie managed,  his stomach in knots as he forced himself to look over at Richie. Richie looked between Eddie and Ben,  his brow creased as if he knew he was missing something. 

"Hello? Mr. Tozier, you up for a stroll?" Dr. Baynes stood behind Ben. She stepped around him and Eddie didn't miss the way her brown eyes swept over the man. He frowned because that was exactly the way Richie had looked at Ben in the Chinese restaurant as he called the former chubby man 'hot'. That ugly feeling in his stomach returned and he hated himself for feeling resentful of Ben. Ben was the sweetest guy Eddie had ever known and it wasn't Ben's fault that Richie found him hot. "Excuse me." The doctor murmured as she moved past Ben. 

"Oh,  I'm sorry." Ben apologized, stepping aside. "Guys,  just think about what I said, OK? Apartment is all yours, just say the word. I've got to get back. Beverly is waiting for me." He nodded at Richie and waved at Eddie. "See you." He left,  the door shut behind him. 

"OK…" Dr. Baynes shook herself and smiled at Richie. "One last thing before I can release you. You need to show me that you can walk around the corridor twice." She saw the dismayed look on Richie's face. "It's not that long and once that is done, I'll send Miranda in with your discharge papers and prescriptions." 

"You promise?" Richie asked,  soft voice sounding so much like the little boy that Eddie knew as a kid that it brought tears to his eyes. His throat ached. 

"I promise. Your husband can help you. I just need to see that you can do it to a certain extent on your own." She gave him an encouraging smile. 

"OK. Let's get this over with." Richie nodded. He looked up at Eddie,  who gave him a small, dimpled smile. 

Eddie helped the doctor lower the side of the bed so they could help Richie sit up on the edge of it. Richie scooted forward,  hands on Eddie's forearms for balance. 

Dr. Baynes disconnected wires and attached the saline bag to a mobile iv pole so that Richie could leave the room. She handed Eddie a pair of scrub pants for Richie to put on under the hospital gown. Eddie helped Richie into them as far as they would go while he was sitting on the bed. Eddie slid an arm around Richie,  taking his weight until the other man could stand steadily enough to do it on his own. He pulled the scrubs up over Richie's ass, straightening the gown around them. Richie took hold of the iv pole. Eddie stood by Richie, walking when he did, ready to assist him. Richie took a couple of shaky steps and suddenly stopped. 

"Rich? You good?" Eddie asked,  one hand stroking Richie's arm. 

"I'm…yeah, I think so." Richie took another couple of steps, one hand on Eddie's shoulder, the other on the iv pole. Dr. Baynes made notes on her iPad. She stepped out of the room right behind them,  keeping an eye on her patient as his husband helped him walk the corridor. Nurses smiled at the pair as they trudged down the hall. Eddie felt his ears burn as he heard some of the not-so-quietly whispered comments about how "adorable" they were together. 

Richie seemed to be getting stronger as they reached the end of the hallway. He was wheezing a bit but he was grinning. 

"Three more times around the floor, Eddie, my love?" He winked at the shorter man. 

"You are such a dork. Let's go,  twinkle toes." Eddie shot back, dimples popping as he carefully turned them around. "You're doing so well, Rich. Someone is ready to go home."

"From your lips to…" Richie stopped to point heavenward. "You know…whatever." He shrugged. 

"I know. Come on,  pretty boy, let's follow the yellow brick road awhile and then you can see the wizard, maybe click your heels three times."

"There's no place like home...Pretty boy?" Richie looked at him,  eyebrows lifting. He flinched a little as the movement made his eyes ache. 

"Don't fish for compliments from compliments. It's tacky." Eddie replied. "Besides, you know you're good looking and you know that I think you're good looking. Hell,  I just told you less than fifteen minutes ago that you're a heartthrob. Keep up, old man."

"Rude." Richie huffed,  the corners of his lips curving up as he fought a smile. Their eyes met and Eddie blushed, eyes dropping and slowly raising back to meet Richie's shyly. Eddie felt butterflies in his stomach when Richie looked at him so intently. He was a little embarrassed because after 30 years of interacting with the man,  Richie still had him flustered and blushing like a schoolgirl with a crush on the quarterback. 

"Looking very good,  Mr. Tozier. One more time around and you're out of here." Dr. Baynes announced,  cutting into Eddie's thoughts. He blinked, raising his eyes to Richie's once more. The injured man looked relieved. 

"Ready?" Eddie asked, his voice husky. 

"As I'll ever be." They turned slowly heading back down the hallway, Eddie hovering but allowing Richie to walk on his own. 

"What do you think of Ben's offer? Should we take the apartment for a little while? Just until you heal up? Six, maybe seven weeks?" Eddie held his breath,  unsure of how Richie would answer this question . 

"Before I answer that,  can I ask what problems we had in our old apartment? In New York?" Richie looked curious. "Noisy neighbors or…?"

"Landlord was homophobic. We were looking for another place. I wasn't sure I wanted to stay in New York. We were talking about L. A. Change of pace and all that."

"L. A.? Wow,  that's quite a change of pace, Eds. Do you want to take Ben's offer? It would give us time to find a more suitable place. You could nurse me back to health in that big king-sized bed." Richie licked his lips, his eyes sliding over Eddie and Eddie's breath caught in his throat. A shudder wracked him. Richie's words burned through him, setting him aflame. 

"I'll let Ben know we've decided." He murmured. The butterflies in his stomach took flight. Oh fuck, what was he going to do now?