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Risk-Seeking Behavior

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By the time Richie got back, Eddie had cycled through ‘numb’ to ‘resigned’ to ‘so angry he couldn’t remember how his limbs worked.’ Myra wouldn’t have understood that, of course. Myra wouldn’t think she’d done anything wrong. If he called her back, Myra would explain the lie immediately, and then explain how disappointed she was in him that he’d forced her to do something so extreme just so they could have a conversation.

For the first time, Eddie really, truly hated her.

Richie sat in the driveway for a few minutes staring at himself in the visor mirror and occasionally talking to himself, like he was psyching himself up to go inside and like Eddie couldn’t clearly see him doing it through the living room window. Then he came in calling, “Eduardo! Vamonos! Mangiamo!”, in an accent that was somehow insulting to Mexico, Italy, and Sweden all at once. He had obviously been crying.

It pissed Eddie off that Richie was hiding whatever he was struggling with, like Eddie couldn’t possibly help and couldn’t even be trusted with knowing about it. It pissed him off even more that Richie was right: Eddie couldn’t help anyone, and he couldn’t deal with anything right now, and he was honestly kind of grateful that Richie was pretending to be fine, which was what pissed him off the most.

Dinner was good, probably. Eddie couldn’t tell and didn’t care. The restaurant had put cilantro on both their orders, even though Eddie had asked them not to, and when Richie opened the bag and saw that he looked absolutely gutted. In that moment Eddie hated him too, a little bit; not for the cilantro, which he couldn’t give less of a shit about right then, but for forcing Eddie to come up with the words to say it was okay, and forcing him to remember how to move his face like a human so it would seem convincing.

Halfway through the eerily silent meal, Richie cleared his throat, looked up from tearing a piece of burrito wrapper into even smaller pieces, and said:

“You know that none of that shit she’s saying is true, right?”

“Yeah, I know,” Eddie said. “We’ve been over that.”

“Not the hospital scans. The other shit.” Eddie stared at him blankly. “She’s your only shot, it’s too late to start over, she’s the only one who will ever love you, all that garbage.”

“If you give me a pep talk about dating in my forties,” Eddie said, with perfect sincerity, “I’m going to kill you and then myself.”

"Okay, great, it’s a good thing you don’t need a pep talk, because you’re not a moron and you know she’s full of shit. Right?"

“Does it matter? I’m not doing this because I think I can trade up—”

“It matters to me. And not just because I— look, I’m not trying to feed you a line, I know better than that, but she’s been typing out this toxic garbage all day, and I had to just sit on my hands and let her. Just say it. Humor me. Repeat after me, ‘I know Myra is lying, and I am a fucking catch, and Idiot Brian is not out of my league.’”

“Brian’s not an idiot, he’s perfectly competent,” Eddie said reflexively, and then mentally slapped himself. “Which is the only thing that that I care about because he’s a random coworker.” And finally, because he couldn’t help it, “And fuck you he’s not out of my league, he could be a Nobel-prize-winning underwear model, you don’t know, you have literally no idea.”

“I don’t care if he’s Hot Gandhi, it doesn’t matter,” Richie said, and scowled. “Is he an underwear model?”

“He’s a regulatory compliance officer,” Eddie said. “I don’t know what else he does on the side, because we only talk about regulatory compliance. I regret ever mentioning him to you.”

“Okay, fine, forget Brian. Say the rest of it.”

“No.”

“Come on.”

“No.”

“Why not?”

“Because it’s fucking patronizing. She’s right, that was probably it for me, and that’s okay, I am okay with that, but you are not making it easier.”

“What do you mean, ‘she’s right’? She’s not right about anything. She’s what would happen if It imprinted on a Cathy cartoon.”

“She’s not— okay, maybe a little, but are you even fucking listening to me? I am fine with it. I’m not choosing between Myra and someone I want more. I’m choosing between being married to Myra or not being married to Myra, and I’m making the choice I can live with.” It wasn’t a new thought, but it was the first time he’d said it out loud. He should remember to be happy about that later, when he wasn’t so focused on not throwing his plate of enchiladas at the wall.

“Why. The fuck. Not? Why isn’t hypothetical Mr. Perfect an option? Okay, fine, you’re a strong independent Keebler Elf who don’t—”

“I hate you so fucking much right now—”

“—don’t need no man, fine, whatever, say, ‘I could definitely bag Brian the underwear model, I just don’t want to.’”

“I really, really don’t.”

“Okay, but you fucking could—”

“That’s such a— one, no, that’s a ludicrous statement, obviously I’m not going to ‘bag’ an underwear model, and two, even if I wanted Brian which I don’t—

“What do you mean, obviously? What’s obvious about it?”

“You seriously want me to list the fucking reasons I’m undateable?”

“No, I want you to admit—”

“Okay, fine, how about I’m forty years old and I’ve— no, let’s just start there, I’m forty years old.”

"That is such complete bullshit, how can you believe that? Myra doesn’t even believe that, she’s just trying to cut you down. It’s not ‘too late’, there’s no such thing as too late for anything, ever, because you’re not fucking dead. Whatever you want, you’ve still got a shot at it, because you’re alive."

Probably that speech was more about Stan than about Eddie. Probably it was also a bit about Richie—famous, successful Richie, who lived alone and never mentioned any other friends and was basically stealth camping in a Pottery Barn catalog—wanting believe he could change his own life. But. Here was the thing.

All those Sunday matinees Eddie had spent feverishly aware of his elbow touching Richie’s on the armrest, thinking, what if I put my hand on his knee, right now? Would the fabric be warm from his skin? What if I moved my hand up, just a little? What if I moved it up a little further? All those endless afternoons, the best and the worst part had been knowing that if he ever tried it, Richie might let him.

Sure, Eddie at fifteen, much like Eddie at forty, was not going to make anyone rethink their sexuality, but he did have something none of the girls in town had, and that something was the willingness to touch Richie Tozier’s junk with a ten foot pole. Call him a pie-eyed optimist, but he thought even he had a solid 25% chance of talking the kid voted ‘Most Likely to Get His Dick Stuck in a Vending Machine Coin Return’ into a couple of awkward mutual handjobs.

A quarter century later, Richie was still that kid, but he was also, somehow, a guy who had briefly and inexplicably dated Taylor Swift. Eddie could, just possibly, compete with a vending machine. He could not compete with Taylor Swift, or with any of the other attractive, confident, neurosis-free people who probably threw themselves at Richie every day. He couldn’t compete with anybody. He was off the board.

Most of the time, Eddie was glad he had never tried running his fingertips up the inseam of Richie’s ugly cargo shorts, even if he’d imagined it so hard he could feel the phantom texture of the stitching. It was such a petty thing, compared to the enormity of having Richie back in his life. He could look back as an adult and be relieved that he hadn’t risked that for a chance at some disappointing fumbling, followed by swift and inevitable heartbreak.

Right now, though. Right now, it was just one more safe, responsible choice in forty years of safe, responsible choices that had left him trapped in a life he hated. Eddie looked back at his fifteen-year-old self, drunk on two square inches of skin contact and nauseous with terror, and thought, you useless fucking coward.

And of course Richie had decided to use this, of all moments, to rub salt in that wound. So what if Richie didn’t know that was what he was doing. So what if he had no way of knowing because Eddie had deliberately hidden it from him. So what if it might be all in his head anyway; so what if he might never have had a chance at all, and Richie would have been shocked to learn that he ever thought he did. So what if Richie was, in fact, only trying to be supportive, the fucking asshole.

“This is not about a couple of gray hairs, you sanctimonious fuckwad,” Eddie said. “I spent the years when most people figure out sex getting retrograde amnesia and convincing myself I was straight. I tried to have a normal relationship and I wound up with Myra. And now I’m going to, what, start all over like I’m twenty, but with new rules and new body parts? If I couldn’t do it then, when I was supposed to, what makes you think I can do it now? Maybe you can help me write a Grindr profile! ‘Hi, I’m Eddie! I’m functionally a 40-year-old virgin! I bet you think it’s because of the severe clown-related trauma I’ll never be able to fully explain to you, but you’d be wrong! It’s actually because I spent the last ten years married to a clone of my mother!’”

“Okay, so maybe don’t lead with that.”

“You think I can just bluff my way through? What made-up backstory is going to explain”—he gestured to himself—"this? Even if I can navigate the most basic social interaction with someone, and that’s a big fucking if, it’s not like they won’t eventually notice I have no clue what I’m doing."

Richie opened his mouth, paused, then closed it again.  He seemed to be thinking through his next words—yeah, about fucking time—and after a few false starts, said:

“I can’t tell you what to do, and you’re right, this shit is hard. But you’re talking like figuring this out late makes you some kind of freak. It doesn’t. There are plenty of people out there who grew up conservative, or they’re bi and only ever hooked up with women before, or they just took some time to work through everything. Straight people have, like, this neat little social conveyor belt making sure you get from A to B to C, and when you get off that conveyor belt everything gets messier. People understand that. You don’t need to justify anything. And I think you’re overestimating how much anyone who gets to be with you is going to care.”

“Yeah,” Eddie said. “Maybe.” He wasn’t remotely convinced, but Richie was being weirdly sincere and making intense eye contact, and Eddie had not spontaneously developed defenses against either of those things in the past 36 hours.

“And hey,” Richie said, doing that eyebrow waggle Eddie had spent all of fifth grade trying to duplicate in the mirror. “If you ever want some hands-on experience, you know where I sleep.”

It wasn’t Richie’s best material, and the delivery sounded a little flat, but it was a peace offering: Richie said something vulgar so Eddie could call him an idiot and they could leave the conversation behind and slide back into the same old, safe groove. Because of course it was safe. Because the idea of boring, prissy, predictable Eddie Kaspbrak doing something as messy as wanting another person would have to be a joke.

“Okay, let’s do it,” Eddie’s voice said.

“Too bad, baby, you don’t know what you’re missing. Hey, can you pass the—wait, what?”

“You heard me,” said the demon that had taken over Eddie’s vocal cords.

“You’re joking. You’re joking, right?”

“So you’re all talk and no follow-through? Just to be clear.”

“Am I on Punkd right now? What the fuck is happening?”

“Right, of course it’s a fucking joke to you—”

“Because it is! If I thought for a second that you were serious, then obviously—”

“I am serious.”

“You— Okay. Okay. You’ve had a shitty day and you haven’t slept in like 36 hours and—”

“I swear to God, if you even think about implying that I’m not competent to make my own decisions—”

“I don’t think that! I think you’re exhausted and you’re angry and you’re fucking with me just to be an asshole, and it’s not fair.”

That was the moment when whatever self-destructive fury had been driving Eddie burnt out and left him stranded in the charred wreckage of the conversation.

He still had a path out, though. He could agree with Richie, and apologize, and pack up his dinner and go to bed early and start the next day fresh. He could, and should, ignore the voice in the back of his head saying, Go for it. For once in your fucking life, go for it and let future Eddie deal with the fallout.

He had no excuse for saying, “Look. Do you or do you not want the world’s shittiest rookie blowjob?”

Richie’s throat clicked audibly. “…Yes?”

“…Okay,” Eddie said.

They stared at each other for a moment.

Oh, fuck, Eddie thought. Oh, fuck, I’m future Eddie.

What had possessed him to say that? What did he think was going to happen if Richie was stubborn enough to say yes?  Did he think some benevolent force devoted to protecting hopeless fuckups from the consequences of their actions would just manifest and autopilot his body for him?

He had no idea what he was going to do next, but whatever it was was going to be catastrophically wrong.  This wasn’t like his first awkward date, or his first kiss, or even his first time having sex: it was infinitely worse. With Myra, and the two women he’d been with before her, he’d known the rough script he was supposed to stick to, and even if he failed, the set of possible negative outcomes was large but finite. Sex wasn’t nearly as exciting as everyone made it out to be, and the whole procedure was gooier than he’d ideally have liked, but it was one part of his adult life that had never been especially scary.  But he could say the wrong thing now, or not say anything at all, or breathe wrong, and fuck up in ways he couldn’t even imagine.

He twisted a napkin between his fingers so Richie wouldn’t see how badly his hands shook.

“Condoms,” he blurted out. “Do you have any?”

The vibration from his voice disturbed an already-corroded wire in a stoplight outside, causing a T-bone collision that instantly killed both a child’s beloved pet and the scientist who would one day have cured cancer. Hundreds of miles away, the San Andreas fault began to crack open. As the continent shifted a millimeter east, a rogue cosmic ray that would have passed by harmlessly instead flipped a single bit in a computer that controlled a nuclear missile silo. Across the table, Richie suddenly realized that Eddie was weird and off-putting and began making plans to move him into a hotel as soon as possible—

“I do, I do have some, yeah,” Richie said. “Gimme one second.” He scraped his chair back and broke the sound barrier on his way out of the kitchen.

The clock on the microwave blinked.

God, he was so fucked.

In Eddie’s sweaty, hormone-riddled teenage fantasies, he had been calm and confident and some kind of sui generis sexual prodigy, and Richie, equally sweaty and hormone-riddled, had been putty in his hands. The contrast with the present reality made his stomach churn.  And if he did this, he was— well, he was admitting to wanting to do it, and people like Eddie weren’t supposed to want things like that, and when they did it made them either objects of pity or comic relief. He was going to humiliate himself, and Richie would laugh at him, and then Richie would pity him, and Eddie had clawed just enough of his ego back together in the past day and a half that he really, really did not want Richie to pity him, and that wasn’t even close to the worst thing that could happen.

What if he did this, and made it through, and it was just— fine?

What if the experience of touching Richie was just like touching Myra, or any other person he’d ever touched: okay, nice even, but no more than the sum of its parts? What if Richie’s skin was just skin, and friction was just friction, and Richie’s stupid perfect bony wrists were just like anyone else’s wrists, and not special at all? Not because Richie was missing something, but because Eddie was, and he was never getting it back? What if the half-delicious, half-sickening want, the one that grabbed his entire body at the strangest moments, was just a lie his brain had manufactured, rather than admit that he was a gray little man with gray little feelings who belonged in the gray little box he had built for himself?

People like Eddie didn’t have grand passions or tragic losses. They didn’t get to have a love of their life, not even a love of their life who lived on the other side of the country and wasn’t all that into them. If they were lucky, they got someone nice to file joint income taxes with until they died.

If he walked away now, though, he could do it with his maybe-illusions still intact. He could make it through the rest of his gray little life thinking, “I was brave, once. I had real friends. I loved someone utterly and completely, and even if he didn’t love me back it was still real.”

He could almost handle Richie laughing in his face if he got to keep that.

No, that was a lie, he absolutely couldn’t handle it, but he had also started gasping for air at some point in the past minute and he could feel his throat closing up, so maybe he would get lucky and asphyxiate before Richie got back.

Right on cue, a door slammed upstairs and, fortunately or unfortunately, jolted Eddie out of his incipient panic attack. Richie came barreling back down the stairs with three already-opened boxes cradled in his arms—yes, This Guy Fucks and you do not, thank you for the reminder—and dumped them on the kitchen table between the empty container of guac and the pile of used napkins. He started flipping them over and arranging them them in a line like he was setting up a store display, then stared for a second like he didn’t know why he’d just done that, and finally just shoved them across the table before sitting down. “I don’t know what the brand with the highest safety rating is, so just— pick whatever you think is best? What’s the gray Toyota Corolla of condoms?”

Eddie looked at the boxes in front of him. One of them was a value pack with maybe three left down at the bottom. Fuck everything.

Then he read the labels. “Richie. These are all lubricated.”

“I mean, yeah? It’s— oh. Oh. Because— Right.” Richie’s knuckles went white on the tabletop. He was probably physically restraining himself from pushing his tongue against the inside of his cheek and miming. “Um. We could flip one inside out?”

Eddie gave that the response it deserved.

“Okay, okay, there’s a 7-11 a few blocks down, if I drive I can be back in ten minutes? Keys, keys, keys, where are you little fuckers—”

Ten minutes. He’d started hyperventilating after less than 60 seconds alone. Ten minutes was more than enough for him to work himself into a blind panic and decide that walking on out to the street and in front of an oncoming bus was better than facing Richie when he got back. Granted, he would have to do that later anyway if this night turned out to be one-tenth of the disaster it was shaping up to be. So, either way he was going to die.

Was he going to die a coward, or was he going to die a man who had finally made it to third base with Richie Tozier?

Fuck it.

“Don’t bother,” Eddie said, and Richie slumped back into his chair. “The transmission risk for oral sex isn’t that high.”  Richie unslumped and made a strange wheezing noise, but Eddie didn’t have the brainpower available to analyze it. The last sentence had used up all his courage for now, and he alternated between screaming internally and mentally begging Richie to please, God, just say something.

Richie took a minute to deal with whatever was happening to his airways, and covered his face with his hands. “I can’t believe I’m saying this now,” Richie said, “but you should know that I don’t use condoms for— that. Basically ever. I mean, I always use them for, you know”—he made a complicated hand gesture that was too confusing to count as obscene—“but also it’s been like a year since I last got tested, so you should know that before you make any decisions.” He delivered this statement like it was an “I am Spartacus” moment, and not Richie describing standard-to-slightly-better-than-average sexual hygiene practices for his demographic and age cohort.

“I figured? I mean, barely twenty percent of the adult US population does, which— Anyway.” Which was why newer, more vicious oral-transmission-optimized strains of gonorrhea were probably evolving as they spoke, but whatever, that was the least of his fears right now. Richie’s exhale sounded way, way too relieved for a guy who had just laughed when Eddie called him a walking plague vector for not washing his hands before making lunch.

“So,” Richie said into the awkward silence. “What now?”

“Should we—” Eddie said, but before he could finish with ‘go upstairs’, he was hit with a full-body sense memory of the one and only time he had gone down on Myra, in their bed two weeks before the wedding, and how awkward it was trying to maneuver his arms while he was lying flat or use his hands while supporting himself on his elbows, and how his left arm kept falling asleep. Despite that, the experience was, or had been, an extremely positive one. Afterwards, they declared it a victory, because it proved they didn’t have any weird hangups about oral sex, they just didn’t care for it much, which was completely different and totally fine and was in fact another example of how well-suited they were for each other. Sexual compatibility was important in a relationship, or so they’d been told. They’d drifted off to sleep together while swapping dire predictions about Myra’s father’s plan to drive to New York for the wedding in an RV.

“—um, couch?” he finished, confusingly and ungrammatically.

Eddie did not, next thing he knew, find himself on his knees on the living room carpet. That would have been great. That would have been wonderful. Instead, he had to stand up, and then to take a step, and then another step, and then another step. He’d thought suggesting this in the first place would be the point of no return and the universe would just take over, and when that hadn’t happened then maybe the thing with the condoms, and then suggesting they move to a second location for the specific purpose of engaging in sexual activity, but there was no point of no return: every second he had to decide to keep going all over again.

When he got to the couch he started panicking again, because the next step was to get on his knees, and if he did that Richie would see and he would know—because, what, he didn’t already know? Because Eddie still thought he had plausible deniability?—and this huge, world-changing feeling he'd been holding tight to his chest would be brought out into the light, and it wouldn't be huge at all; it would be just some cheap gag for the laugh track.  But by then he’d been standing there silently for like five seconds, which was way more incriminating than if he’d just walked over and sat back on his heels, and so he just focused on lowering himself to the ground without wobbling too much. He had never been less turned on in his entire life, and that included the parts where he had a spider claw through him.

“Hi,” Richie said, stupidly. His voice cracked a little. For some reason, it abruptly moved Eddie back to a standard median level of not turned on.

“Hi,” he said, equally stupidly. Maybe slightly better than median level.

Fuck it.

Eddie lifted his hands to reach for Richie’s fly—he was doing this, he was actually going to do this—then realized that his hands were shaking even worse than they had been before and slapped them back down on his thighs. “Can you. You know.” He nodded his head vaguely towards Richie’s crotch, which he still couldn’t bring himself to look at.

“Wait,” Richie said, eyes narrowing. “Are you still fucking with me? Is this some kind of entrapment thing? If I whip my dick out, is Chris Hansen going to jump out from behind a ficus?”

“What— you don’t even have a ficus. You think someone’s trying to bust you for sexual activity between consenting adults in your own home? What the hell?”

“Are you a cop? Legally, you have have to tell me if you’re a cop.”

"Richie."

“Okay,” Richie said, “as long as we’re very clear that you asked for this.”

Richie took his dick out.

“What the fuck,” Eddie said.

“You fucking asshole, I fucking knew it, I’m going to use your eight backup electric toothbrush heads to scrub the goddamn toilet bowl—” Richie grabbed for an ugly throw pillow to cover himself and Eddie batted it out of his hands.

“Not that, Jesus Christ. What the fuck did you do? Did you reply to one of those penis enlargement emails? Did you reply to all of them?”

“Huh?” Richie said. “No, it just… is? I did warn you.  And everyone.  Almost constantly.”

“Bullshit, your dick was not this big in high school.”

“Eddie. Baby. You were looking?” The tone of Richie’s voice could only be described as ‘delighted.’

“I wasn’t looking,” Eddie lied, “I just would have noticed that.”

“I’m a grower? Besides, you may have heard of this thing called puberty—”

“You didn’t move away until high school.”

“Yeah, sophomore year. Look, I can’t believe I’m saying this, but it’s not that big.”

“It’s not fucking small. Jesus Christ.”

“Right,” Richie said, reaching for the throw pillow again. “Fine, I get it, it’s fine. You know, it’s funny, this is the one thing about me people don’t usually complain about?”

“I’m not complaining,” Eddie said, much, much more emphatically than he meant to. They stared at each other.

Richie’s dick visibly twitched.

Right, so Richie’s biggest turn-on was apparently talking about his own penis. Eddie wished that were a dealbreaker, but it wasn’t even close.

He honestly wasn’t complaining, though. It might be a bit, ah, more than what he’d imagined, but it hardly mattered; it wasn’t like he was going to suddenly learn to deep throat otherwise. And the fact that Richie was already hard, or most of the way to it, was a minor miracle that had already wiped some of his more nightmarishly humiliating projections right off the board. And it was… nice-looking, or anyway, he liked looking at it; he must, because he couldn’t stop doing it, even though his stomach lurched every time. He didn’t understand why. It was just a body part, and he’d seen other examples before; there was no good reason for one to be more or less appealing than another. There was nothing inherently better about the way the head on this one flared out, or that sweet little curve near the tip, or the vein that wrapped around and ran up along the slight ridge on the underside, just…

Just there…

Just…

Uh.

What was he thinking about again?

He reached out and wrapped his hand around the base, even though he didn’t remember deciding to do it. Oh, great, so now he had autopilot—and Jesus Christ, did he just lick his lips? What the fuck was wrong with him?—but that was okay, he was okay with that. No, he was great with that. He was happy to ride along, he was already leaning forward a bit, he was looking forward to whatever his body decided to do without his input next—

He was going to rip his face back open.

The autopilot screeched to a halt.

He was definitely going to rip his face open. It was already completely healed, to the point where he could barely feel the scar on the inside of his cheek, but it would definitely, absolutely rip back open if he did this, and Richie’s dick was going to go right through the hole in his face. He wasn’t just going to be part of Richie’s set; he was going to be a fucking meme. Sam Raimi would shoot a straight-to-video biopic as a weekend nostalgia project, and the special effects would be grotesque.

“Eds?” Richie said. “You okay? You seriously don’t have to do this if you’re not comfortable. Or at all. You don’t need to prove anything.”

The fuck he didn’t.

Fuck this bullshit. Fuck his fucking brain. Fuck everything. If the hole in his face wound up plastered all over the internet, at least he would die a legend.

Eddie didn’t have Richie’s weird hypnosis powers, but he looked deep into Richie’s eyes anyway and said, “I have never done this before, and if you laugh at me, I’m going to bite your dick off.”

“Okay,” Richie said. “Understood. Capiche. Yo comprendo—”

Eddie leaned forward and wrapped his mouth around the head of Richie’s erection, which did at least shut him up. He overbalanced a little, and wound up digging his elbow into Richie’s thigh in a way that was probably kind of painful, but he got himself straightened out eventually. Not the most auspicious start, but not terrible.

It was— well, it really was just skin, and erectile tissue, and other standard issue human parts. It tasted like soap, a bit, which was reassuring, and the fluid that was beginning to bead up at the tip tasted a little odd but mostly not like anything. It was fine. It was nice, actually. The mental dick-through-the-face imagery had thrown icewater on the wave of heat he’d felt before, but he was starting to get a bit of a pleasant buzz back on. Honestly, if you counted the thirty seconds before his little freakout, this was probably already the best sex he’d ever had in terms of value-added-by-partner.  Even if it all went downhill from here, he was calling this part a win.

Then, as he tongued at the head experimentally, he thought with a rush, this is what the head of Richie's dick would feel like, and then mentally added, because this is Richie’s dick? Obviously? and something that really should have clicked into place before finally did.

This is what Richie’s dick would taste like. This is what it would feel like on your tongue. This is exactly how hot his skin would be if he were hard and leaking and getting even harder in your mouth, because that is what is actually fucking happening. Remember what he looked like, with his jeans open and his long legs spread? Remember that ridge on the underside—yeah, you remember, you’re getting dizzy just thinking about it—that’s the spot you’re pressing your tongue against now, that exact same fucking spot, because you have Richie actual fucking Tozier’s actual fucking dick in your mouth.

Eddie didn’t have any personal experience with narcotics, but he had owned a Velvet Underground greatest hits CD in college, and he was pretty sure this was what your first taste of heroin felt like.

Things got a little hazy after that.

At some point he pulled off, not because he wanted to, but because he had a vague sense that if he didn’t slow down he was going to move them on to whatever came next after this, possibly by coming in his pants. Eddie didn’t want there to be a next. He wanted to fucking live down here. He could send an e-mail to Bob tomorrow morning: After careful consideration, I’ve decided to resign to spend more time with the spot under the head of Richie’s dick that makes him make that weird hiccuping noise.

“Buh?” Richie said. He looked about as dazed as Eddie felt. Eddie tried to wipe some of the mess on his chin off with his sleeve—did he care about the shirt? Did he care about any shirts, anywhere? No, he did not—and Richie said, "Oh, fuck me" and squeezed his eyes shut.

He probably looked pretty gross, and he certainly wasn’t doing a great job. He should be trying to get into a rhythm, and he should be using his hands somehow, instead of just grabbing Richie by the dick and doing whatever the fuck he felt like. He didn’t feel like he was accomplishing something, the way he usually did, like making Myra come was on par with successfully completing a teamwork exercise, or solving the Sunday crossword puzzle together. Anything he did manage was just because Richie was so shockingly, wonderfully easy. He was not pulling his weight here, and he was far too caught up in sensation to care. He’d find a way to make it up to Richie later.

In his defense, it wasn’t like Richie was giving him any feedback beyond occasional choking noises. They were probably good choking noises, at least, since he was still hard. Harder. Swollen-looking, really, and the soft skin was stretched tight around—

stretched so tight—

so—

Unh.

What had he been thinking about again?

He blinked, heavy-lidded, and dragged his thumb up the side, just lightly, just to feel the tug of skin under the pad of his thumb. It was just skin. It was wet from his mouth, a little up from the base, and that was just saliva; there was nothing magic about it. He thought, dumbly, I had my mouth on that, and his whole body shivered. Then he thought, And I’m going to do it again, and felt something rising up in his chest that felt a little like relief and a little like joy but came out as a kind of choked-off giggle.

Richie groaned. “Are you going to— fuck. You’re a sadist. Of course you’re a fucking sadist. How did I not see this coming?”

“I don’t know,” Eddie said. “In retrospect, it was pretty obvious.” Forming the words felt strange, both because his lower lip was kind of numb and because his mouth was stretched into a huge, stupid grin and he couldn’t get his facial muscles to relax.

Richie burst out in a breathy, wheezing, full-body laugh. It felt more with Eddie than at him, but it was still technically a violation of Eddie’s earlier ultimatum, so he went down as far as he could without gagging and dragged his teeth a bit on the way up as a reminder. He got a bit lost in the feeling on the way up and forgot why he was doing it, though, and then Richie stopped laughing and moaned, which meant that Eddie did too, and when he did he felt Richie’s dick kind of… pulse?

It had to be his imagination—he had so little blood left in his brain, he must be hypoxic by now—but it sent him into a bit of a frenzy anyway, so he was frantically tonguing at the head like a lab rat hitting the ‘pleasure receptor’ lever over and over when Richie started coming.

It was vile. The inside of his mouth tasted like the entire rich, multisensory experience of post-nasal drip condensed into a few tablespoons of slime. But also, holy shit, Richie was coming and he could feel it happening, he could feel it pulsing out of the slit against his tongue, and he was shocked into immobility for a few seconds. By the time he could control his body enough to try and scrape his tongue off, Richie had finished and was chanting, “Fuck, fuck, sorry, so sorry, it was an accident, fuck,” in an endless loop. Eddie had his doubts about that, but right then he had more urgent problems.

He’d been aware, in a vague background sort of way, that he was so hard his vision was graying out at the edges, but slime aside, feeling Richie come—because Richie had done that, that is an accurate descriptor of what just happened, Richie Actual Fucking Tozier just had an actual fucking orgasm in your mouth—had moved the timeframe of when he himself needed to come from 'someday' to 'within the next 30 seconds'. Worse, it might be crossing a line for him to, like, jerk off in front of Richie onto the living room carpet.

He did reach down to press the heel of his hand against his dick through his pants, because he fucking had to, and because after the stunt Richie had just pulled he could deal. Richie’s “sorry, sorry, sorry” litany stopped, and he gasped. Eddie was about to tell him where he could shove his fake outrage, with his mouth that still tasted like slime, when Richie grabbed him by the armpits and started trying to haul him up. It fucking hurt, and Eddie was complying only so he could be standing up when he started chewing Richie out, when Richie pulled him half into his lap and stuck his tongue down his throat.

The kiss was wet and sloppy and kind of reminded him of the way 13-year-old Richie used to pretend to make out with a picture of his mom. It was profoundly gross. He hated kissing like this. Myra had too, actually; she liked it just the way he did, soft with maybe just a bit of tongue, and when they started going out, they’d laughed together about past dates who had tried to perform amateur field tonsilitis checks on them.

Given all that, he was a little surprised to be sucking on Richie’s tongue like he was going to have to fight Richie to keep it there. Also the moaning. The moaning was also a surprise. And the part where he had not only followed when Richie pulled him in, but pressed forwards until Richie had his head tipped over the back of the couch and Eddie was cradling Richie’s face in his hands, tilting it up for a better angle.

Shit, it was possible he was the sloppy one.

As a bonus, Richie tasted overpoweringly of cilantro, which Eddie might not have cared for under other circumstances but which was such an upgrade over what his own mouth currently tasted like that he couldn’t get enough of it.

After Eddie lost some more time and brain function, Richie broke the kiss—it took some effort, because Eddie was not giving Richie’s tongue up without a fight—and said, “Can I?” with no elaboration.

“Sure,” Eddie said, because apparently Richie could do any fucking thing and Eddie would just follow along, slack-jawed and glassy-eyed, and because asking Richie to clarify would only delay further mutual tonsil inspection, before he pressed Richie's mouth back open and slid his tongue in alongside Richie's again.  It was so stupid.  It reminded him of a YouTube video on mating sea slugs.  Why was it so debilitatingly hot?

The second half of “can I?” turned out to be “try and completely fail to get your pants open, while pausing repeatedly to grope you through the fabric.” Richie seemed unwilling to move his left hand from where it was fisted in the back of Eddie’s shirt, and his right hand didn’t seem to know how to operate hook-and-bar closures. Eddie could have helped, but he was too busy licking the inside of Richie's mouth and having exactly zero thoughts in his head.

The first time Richie paused his fumbling with Eddie’s waistband to press the palm of his hand against Eddie’s erection through his khakis, Eddie thought—and this was how out of it he was, that this was the sum total of his reaction—that it felt extremely good, and that he would like more. The second time, he thought: holy fuck, that is Richie’s hand squeezing your dick, that is Richie Actual Fucking Tozier’s actual hand, you know Richie’s hands? Yeah, those hands, one of those fucking hands is pressing on you right now through two layers of fabric, those fucking fingers are currently rubbing the head of your—

Eddie’s world whited out for a little bit.

When his faculties returned, some time later, his face was pressed to the side of Richie’s forehead, and Richie’s glasses were digging into his cheek. Richie’s big hand was flat on his back below his shoulder blades, and if he concentrated he could feel the outline of it: Richie’s palm, the curve of his thumb, the pads of his fingers, burning hot through Eddie’s sweat-soaked shirt.

He decided that, due to extreme extenuating circumstances, he was not even remotely embarrassed about coming in his pants.

That ‘next’ would come, now, as soon as one of them moved, even if it was just peeling apart and washing off and Richie gently ribbing him about hair triggers. (It had better be fucking gentle, because this was entirely Richie’s fault.) Eddie could accept that, but he wasn’t going to leave this moment any faster than he had to.

His range of vision was still a bit spotty, but it included part of the back of the couch, Richie’s right ear, the temple of Richie’s glasses hooked at a very wrong angle, and the corner of Richie’s jaw, which he really, really wanted to rub his face against. Hell, maybe he could. Richie had just stuck his tongue down his throat and tried very hard to stick his hand down his pants; maybe he would be fine with it.

Do it. Do it now, before the rest of your brain catches up.

Eddie did. It was rough and a little scratchy and it felt fucking amazing. Richie inhaled sharply, and his arms tightened. Eddie could feel Richie’s fingers flexing against his back, pulling him further in.

He closed his eyes and breathed.