December 1st was a Friday.
All of the Losers had classes, so they couldn't take the time to celebrate "the beginning of the holiday season!", and Bill and Eddie had refused to decorate and get a tree while it was still November, so the house they shared showed no signs of the holiday season. They all hurried up and down the stairs, trying to remember everything for class, and they all just barely remembered to eat a piece of the advent calendar chocolate that Richie had bought on sale the week before.
Eddie Kaspbrak actually woke up late on December 1st. He and Richie shared a room with Stan, who was usually pretty good at waking them up, but somehow he has slept through the alarm or Stan had left early (Stan had woken up early, decided it was better to be early to class than lay around in bed for twenty more minutes, and turned off the alarm), and Richie had a later class so he would be waking up later. That left Eddie to frantically dress in a polo and jeans, grab a protein shake and granola bar, and sprint out the door to catch the subway.
As he ran down the street, he could somewhat appreciate New York in the wintertime through the frenzy of activity going on on the sidewalk and in his brain. Bev loved the Christmas lights everywhere, and he resolved to ask her if she wanted to walk down to the corner store with him, just to see her reaction at the city all lit up at night. It was slippery, which would be bad for Ben's weekend runs, but Richie had suggested they all go ice-skating together the next day, which made Eddie smile in anticipation.
He sat rigidly on the subway, got off at his stop, suffered through class, emailed Bill during a boring lecture, and sat rigidly on the subway home. He slipped and slid his way back to the house, dropped his things on the couch, and collapsed unto the pillows. Stan, the first one home, came into the living room with his hands full of bread dough.
"Eddie-" he started hesitantly.
"Yes, I will walk down to the store to get you something for dinner. What do you need?" Eddie grumbled in reply. Stan smiled.
"I'm making a bunch of spaghetti and meatballs, and Richie made bread dough for some reason before leaving this morning, so we're having breadsticks too. I wanted some parmesean?"
"Yeah, okay," Eddie said, pulling his coat on again. The store wasn't that far away and they usually averaged a trip per day- wether it be a crucial ingredient Richie or Bill forgot, some Red Bull to keep them awake during late-night study sessions, or candy Bev stopped for on her walk home. Eddie carefully stepped around ice, gum, and god-knows-what as he hurried down the street, finally warming up a bit as he stepped into the store.
He found the cheese easily, and was standing in front of a shelf of cookies and debating wether or not to buy some, when someone grabbed him from behind and lifted him up.
"Richie!" he admonished when he saw it was his friend. "You could have given me a heart attack!"
"Yes," Richie deadpanned. "A healthy nineteen-year-old boy died from a heart attack after his friend does something he has done at least once a day since he was old enough to lift him." He smirked, and picked Eddie up again.
"What are you doing here? It's not on your way home," Eddie asked once Richie put him down.
"Mike got home around the same time as me, and wanted some dessert for after dinner. Bev ate all of the ice cream in a midterm-induced stress attack, so I offered to run down and grab something. Seems you already got the bases covered, though," he finished.
They got to the register and paid for the food and started the walk home. "Wait. If Stan knew I was at the store, why didn;t he just text me? He didn't need to send you."
Richie blinked. "Uh, I think he said you forgot your phone? I dunno." Eddie felt around in his pocket and realized he had, in fact, forgotten his phone.
"Oh my god, what if I had been kidnapped? I would have no way to contact you guys, you wouldn;t be able to trace me. Or if something happened to me and they didn't have my medical ID?" Eddie started to ramble.
"Again. Perfectly healthy nineteen-year-old boy. Five minutes away from his house. In a not-terrible neighborhood."
"Brain aneursyms, Rich. They can happen at any moment," Eddie argued.
"We've talked about calling me Eds!"
"Have we? I'm pretty sure I call you Eds, and then you say 'don't call me that!' and then I call you Eds even more, Eds."
"I'm divorcing you." Eddie started to walk faster, away from Richie.
"Eddie Spaghetti, we're not even married! Or dating!" Richie yelled down the street.
"Fine. I'll marry you and then just divorce you right after." Eddie shot a grin back at Richie, then stopped so that his best friend could catch up.
"Sounds good to me. Three conditions, though- Mike caters. Bev designs our suits, Stan officiates."
"What about Ben and Bill?" Eddie asked, chalking up the warm feeling in his chest to the general holiday spirit.
"Um, Bill is my best man. Ben is yours, and Georgie is the ring bearer slash flower boy."
"How is Georgie both?"
"He wears a flower crown with his suit, throws the petals, and then Bill or someone can hand him the pillow with the rings and he stands there until Stan says 'the rings please' and then he does the ring bearer thing," Richie explained.
"You've really thought this through," Eddie commented jokingly as they walk in the front door.
"Thought what through?" Bev asks from the chair. She'd obviously just gotten home, she's still wearing her scarf and hat.
"Why, my wedding to the lovely Edward Spaghedward, my dear!" Richie announced grandly. "Oh, boy," Bev sighs with a smile as she finished pulling off her winter things. Richie gave her a sort of half-hug and pranced into the kitchen to give Stan his groceries. Then he picked up his bag and ran up the stairs to the room Eddie shares with him and Stan, hopefully to do homework. Eddie knew deep down, though, that Richie will watch three episodes of the Simpsons, procrastinate his work, and when Stan yells "DINNERTIME!" he'll call back "STAN! I WAS IN THE MIDDLE OF MY HOMEWORK!" and then blame him later when he has nothing done.
Bev was on her phone now, scrolling TikTok and Instagram. Eddie pulled out his laptop and decided to get a head start on a project. While they sit together, in silence except for Stan's humming, Eddie felt peaceful. It's that holiday spirit, he thought. Then Bev shattered the relative quiet.
"So, wedding, hmm?" she asked teasingly, looking up from her phone. "How did he pop the question? Ring in your champagne? Down on one knee?"
"Shut up," Eddie replied, knowing and hating the fact that he's blushing. "I said I was divorcing him, he replied that we weren't even dating, I said I'd marry him just to divorce him the next day. He got carried away, like he does with literally everythig in his life."
"Romantic," Bev chuckled, returning to her social media.
Ben came home next, kissing Bev on the cheek and going to help set the table. He was followed by Mike, who brought food from his culinary arts class, and finally a grumpy and cold Bill, who boldly declared that "it's not that cold out, you guys are just weak" and went out without his jacket. Bev ceded the blanket to him, and they all chatted while Ben played Christmas music. Bill had an essay due Tuesday, and he was going to wait to start it, but Bev warned him to at least get something done before Monday night. By the time Stan called for dinner, Bill was warm and Richie had actually gotten a head start on his homework.
Dinner was delicious- Stan, Mike, and Richie could cook the best out of all of them- but Stan was usually busy in the evenings, and Richie liked to "experiment in the kitchen" a lot, so it was usually Mike doing the cooking. He had taken a culinary arts class for fun this year, and was thoroughly enjoying it, but couldn't be persuaded to change his major.
That night in their room, Eddie typed on his laptop while Stan made pie charts for his finance class. Richie was working on a new comedy routine, and he tried it out for them several times before he got it right. He had an open mic coming up, but Eddie was convinced Richie could headline.
Around midnight, he started to hear the sounds of the household going to bed: Mike showered at night, the ferocious sounds of Bill's computer keyboard stopped, Bev's sewing machine turned off, and the light in her and Ben's room went off. Richie swallowed a melatonin pill and hopped into his twin bed, Stan settled in the bottom bunk, and Eddie climbed the laddet to the top one. They all had bunk beds in their rooms, Richie was the seventh bunk-bed wheel that got a bed to his own. Stan turned on a podcats like he did every night- it interested Stan, provided a kind of background noise for Eddie to fall asleep to, and bored Richie to sleep in about an hour.
And that is how December 1st ended.
December 2nd was a Saturday.
Ben Hanscom woke up at 6am on Saturdays. His alarm was on his phone, not his alarm clock, because he didn’t want to wake Bev up early on a weekend morning. He grabbed his earbuds, changed quietly, and slipped out the door for his morning run. He had one earbud playing Maroon 5, one earbud out as he jogged through the city.
There was a reason he went early, a reason he went jogging at all: yes, it was an easy way to stay healthy and sure, it was nice to get a little fresh air without worrying that a maniac with a mullet was going to stab you with a pocketknife, but Ben liked going by himself in the morning and seeing the city wake up. He liked seeing businessmen and executives heading to the office in ties, he likes seeing people leave houses in the early morning- his friends would probably say they were sneaking out of a one night stand, but the poet in Ben thought it was a secret love affair. Or maybe they were leaving to let their do out and water the plants before going back and spending another day with the person they loved. He tried to compose a poem in his head while he ran, something about the sun rising and the buildings coming to life with the people inside, but it was too hard, so he settled for mental bullet points he could organize later.
He came back late, around 6:45, to the smell of eggs and bacon and the sound of a country-type Christmas song. He smiled. Mike. Mike was in pajama pants and a t-shirt, cracking eggs and singing along under his breath. He noticed Ben sitting at the dining room table taking his shoes off and grinned at him. “Good run?” “Yeah,” Ben said “Chilly, though.” “Yeah, dude. December, New York, no jacket,” Mike said teasingly as he handed Ben a plate of eggs and bacon. Ben took a bite, then got up quickly to start the coffeemaker. By the time they were both sipping coffee and eating, Stan had come downstairs still in his pajamas but with neatly brushed hair and brushed teeth.
Stan made microwave oatmeal and some tea (one cup for him, one for Eddie) and joined them at the table.
“Are Rich and Eddie awake?” Mike asked.
“My alarm went off at seven am like it does every morning. I woke them up like I do every morning. They both said ‘five more minutes, Stan’ like they do every morning. I predict that they will be the last ones downstairs, like it is every morning.” Stan leaned back in his chair and sipped his tea.
“Ok. Stan, Ben? Could you guys make an agenda for today? I have some things I want us to get done,” Mike said.
“Sure!” Stan hopped up, found some paper and a pen, and settled in with Ben. “Number one- eat breakfast. Number two- get ready for the day,” he mumbled as he wrote them down. Then he looked up at Ben expectantly.
“Number three- get Christmas tree!” Mike shoutred from the kitchen where he was tidying up. Stan wrote it down.
“Um four- decorate the tree?’ Ben offered. Stan copied it in his neat handwriting, then added 'mandatory”.
“Mandatory?” Ben asked.
“This is the first year we’re spending the holidays away from our parents. I want us all to partake in everything, make some memories,” Stan explained.
“Okay. I mean, the three of us will want to decorate,” Ben said, indicating himself, Stan and Mike. “Bill may or may not, depending on the state of his grade point average.”
“Billy’s a stickler for tradition, though!” Mike called. “I bet he’d make time. Eddie might not be thrilled, though. And Bev’s not really a holiday person, is she?”
“Bevvie loves the holidays!” Ben defended. “She just never really got the… holiday experience. You’re right about Eddie though. And I could see Richie either getting super into the holiday spirit or calling it lame.”
“Number five!” Stan said pointedly, returning their focus to his agenda. “Decorate the house. Optional.” “Why optional?” Mike asked. “Because I don’t want to force everyone to decorate if they have things to do.”
Bev came downstairs then, wearing one of Bill’s old flannels and shorts. She kissed Ben, ruffled Stan’s hair (not enough to really annoy him, though) and hugged Mike from behind, propping her chin on his shoulder as he cooked. Bill joined them a few minutes later, holding his laptop with one hand and precariusly typing with the other. He sat at the table, not even looking up, drained a coffee mug, and furrowed his eyebrows. Ben looked at Mike, who gave him a look that meant “he’s fine if not a little stressed.”
The sounds of bickering and running, at around 8am, signaled the presence of Richie and Eddie. Richie came running down the stairs with Eddie thrown over his shoulder like a sack of potatoes, and dropped the smaller boy on the couch. Then he slid on his slippery socks into the kitchen and wrapped his arms around Bev’s waist, even though she was still attatched to Mike’s back.
“I love you both, guys-” Mike started. “-but I feel like this is unsafe.” They detangled themselves and sat down at the table. Bev sat between Eddie (who had gotten off the couch) and Ben. Richie simply sat on Stan’s lap. Ben watched his friend’s face go from annoyance to tiredness to acceptance of the situation, then stand up and dump Richie on the floor. Stan put his plate and mug in the sink and grabbed a cup of tea and a cup of coffee. He gave the tea to Eddie and offered the coffee to Richie, who was still laying on the floor. Richie just hopped up, went into the kitchen, and began his daily morning routine of dumping half a sugarbowl in his coffee, toasting his bread for just a minute too long, covering his toast in unhealthy amounts of butter, and sprinkling salt on top when it was done. Armed with this breakfast of champions, he returned to the table. Stan and Eddie eyed him but neither of them said a word. Bill, for his part, was still ferociously typing away. He had a tendency to smash the keys as if he qas trying to avenge someone they had done harm to, and it was a wonder his computer wasn’t broken yet.
“Bill?” Ben ventured. “You, uh, you okay there, buddy?” Bill blinked, as if just realizing he was at the breakfast table.
“Yeah. Yeah. I couldn't sleep last night and I ended up writing a really good chapter on my head, and I need to write it all down before I lose it.”
“Well, maybe take a break? Mike and Stan put together an agenda for the day.”
Stan, given his opportunity, cleared his throat. “Today, after getting dressed, we’re going to go get our Christmas tree. Then we are all going to decorate together, and after that, if you want, you can help Ben, Mike and I decorate the house.”
“I’ll help!” Richie volunteered immediately. Bill had his assignment, and Bev and Eddie had “top secret holiday things” to do, so the four of them decided to start decorating later that afternoon.
Once they were all dressed, the seven of them piled the best they could into the Hanlon family truck. Mike’s grandfather had insisted they take it, he couldn’t process the fact that it was New York City and they would have literally no use for a car. “You can always use a pickup truck,” he had said over Mike’s protests. It was a 1996 Ford Centurion that, in theory, could seat all seven of them. But usually on trips at least one of them (usually Richie and Bill) offered to sit in the trunk.
Unsurprisingly, the ride to the farm took a while. Ben was sitting in the middle, sandwiched between Beverly and Bill while Mike drive with Stan sitting shotgun. Richie and Eddie were bickering loudly in the way-back seats. Bev leaned her head on Ben’s shoulder and showed him some meme on her Instagram Explore page, and Bill leaned over to chuckle quietly. Richie passed a CD to Ben, and he handed it to Stan (in their car, shotgun controlled the music. the driver was allowed to veto, however). Stan glanced at it and slid it into the CD player. The sounds of Weezer filled the car, and Richie shouted the lyrics to “Say It Ain’t So” in Eddie and Bill’s ears the rest of the way.
They arrived at the tree place, and decided to split up. Mike, Stan and Bill went one way, Richie and Eddie wandered off in another direction, and that left Ben and Bev.
“Shall we?’ he asked, looking at her.
"We shall,” she replied, wrapping her gloved hands around his arm.
They strolled around for a bit, and eventually happened upon Bill, Mike, Eddie, Stan and Richie. The latter was arguing loudly.
"Stan, how would you feel if we went to a... menorah farm? And you found a perfect, amazing menorah for Hannukah, but I also found a good menorah? Not as good as yours of course, sub-par, but still a good menorah?"
"What's happening, Hanlon?" Beverly asked.
"Stan and Richie both found what they claim to be the perfect tree," Mike replied.
Meanwhile, Stan had had enough. "Okay! Richie! First of all, it's not a menorah, it's a goddamn hannukiah! For Hannukah! And second of all, neither menorahs nor hannukiahs grow on farms, dumbass-"
"Alrighty!" Ben said in his Authority Voice. "Why don't we take a vote? Let's take a vote. Bill, Mike, and Stan for tree one. Richie and Eddie for tree two. Bev?"
"Sorry Stan, but I have to support my boy," Bev said as she walked to stand next to Richie.
"What about me?" Ben asked jokingly.
"You're the tiebreaker!" Eddie said. "Pick a side!"
In the end, they got Stan's tree. It was smaller and cheaper (Richie was taller than it), and it fit in the back of the truck.
Correction: Mike, Ben and Bill had to shove it through the open windows of the middle seat where it sat precariusly, the top and the truck sticking out of the windoes, and then Bev rolled the windows up to the tree wouldn't slip out in NYC traffic. Then Richie, Stan, Eddie, Mike and Bill crowded into the trunk and way-back seats while Ben and Bev drove home.
Once they got home, they all had to carry a tree into the house and then Richie set up the tree-skirt while Stan found the box of ornaments.
"I CALL PUTTING THE STAR ON THE TREE!" Richie yelled at the same time as Eddie. They compromised by Eddie hopping on Richie's back and setting it at a precarious angle at the top. Bev and Ben ran in circles around the tree with lights, and Stan put up some ceramic ornaments he had made. Bill was putting up the special ornamnts the Losers had brought from their houses- art that Stan and Richie had made in kindergarten, Denbrough family heirlooms, handmade animals Mike's grandfather had taught him to make, Eddie's favorite teddy bear ornament from when he was little, and little knickknacks Bev had crafted. In the background, they kept adding songs to the Spotify queue- Bill and Eddie liked traditional Christmas carols, Richie liked the old-fashioned big-band music and Frank Sinatra (he tried, and actually did pretty well, to imitate the singers) and Mike preferred country-Christmas.
After a while Bill retired to his room to resume his angry typing that contrasted with his lo-fi playlist. Eddie and Bev bundled up and took an Uber to get some shopping done, and Richie, Ben, Mike and Stan started to decorate. Stan lovingly set up the James family hannukiah in the kitchen window while Richie searched for candles, and Ben took the remaning Christmas lights and strung them in the upstairs hallway. Mike was setting random festive throw-pillows and cross stitched samplers that bore happy sayings like "Merry & Bright!", "Santa Claus is Coming to Town", and "Home for the Holidays".
"We aren't home for the holidays, though," Stan said when he saw the last one. "That's kind of the whole point."
"It's just a saying!" Mike said as he threw a pillow at Stan that said "O Come Let Us Adore Him".
Finally, in the other kitchen windowsill, Mike and Ben arranged the nativity scene. Ben had always loved that part of decorating at home- he would make a little manger out of wood scraps or cardboard, and shred some tissue paper for hay, and put the little Mary and the little Joseph adoringly watching the even littler Jesus. He'd try to hide the angel too, because he figured that she wouldn't want to be seen by everyone. This year, he hid her in the background behind all of the shepherds, and tied a little scrap of fabric he found in Beverly's workspace around her shoulders and wings.
"She's pretending to be a shepherd," he explained to Mike, who was watching over his shoulder. Mike smiled.
Bev and Eddie returned shortly, arms full of mysterious packages and cheeks tinged red. They ran up to Bev and Ben's room, but not before Bev shot Ben a mischevious smile. He heard them collapse onto the bed upstairs and turn on music. Bill exclaimed something from his room, and then ran down the stairs shouting "I DID IT, I MET THE MINIMUM WORD REQUIREMENT! EASILY! I'M GOING TO WRITE MORE!" He did a little dance in the kitchen, and then sprinted back up to continue smasking his keyboard.
There was no "family dinner" that night, because Bill was holed up for the night. Stan microwaved some pasta for himself and Richie, his roommate was scribbling comedy notes in their room and listening to a Queen record. They ate together in the sense that they were in the same room; Stan listened to Vampire Weekend in his headphones and read a book whjile Richie kept at his joke writing. Bev and Eddie finished gifts and, along with Ben, ordered Chinese food and ate while upholding their yearly tradition of watching A Christmas Prince, the way they had done every year since high school. Bev lay her head in Ben's lap, Eddie fussed that she would choke, and Ben laughed at him. bev did almost choke, though, and he had to whap her several times on the back. Mike did some homework and he and Bill ate a whole box of Kraft mac and cheese themselves.
December 2nd ended with Ben drinking sleepytime tea at midnight while Bev brushed her hair out and braided it into a bunch of knots on her head, so it would look nice in the morning. They could hear Mike telling Bill to go to sleep, already, you've written plenty and Eddie flopping around on his mattress trying to get comfortable. All things considered, though, it was a very nice way to end the day.
December 3rd was a Sunday.
Gone to run some errands. I will be back by eleven o'clock (not p.m.).
Stanley Uris woke up early, had breakfast by himself at a local diner, and then went to the library to return some books and grab a few more. He ended up staying for about an hour, engrossed in a book about Galapagos Finches and Darwin. Then he ade the commute home, stopped to get some chips (they were out) and walked to the house.
He was expecting the chaos of his friends spread out around the house, the TV blaring in competition with music and people yelling to keep it down, they were doing homework. What he walked into was decidedly not that.
The Losers were crammed into the smallest couch, wrapped in blankets. They were still being chaotic, to be sure, but they were concentrated in a small spot. Eddie was on Richie's lap, Bev and Ben were snuggling, Bill was looking claustrophobic, and Mike was just tired.
"STANIEL the MANIEL!" Richie whopped, causing Eddie to cover his ears in annoyance. "ANd how are you on this blustery winter day?"
"Confused," Stan said.
"The heat's out," Bill explained, wrapped in several sweaters.
"Yeah, as of like a half hour ago, it's been freezing in here," Bev muttered.
"And none of you know how to determine the problem, let alone fix it?" Stan asked.
"Um, in an nutshell, yes."
"I grew up on a farm? We didn't have a heating system?"
"Okay, Billy? Richie?"
"My dad was the handy one in the house," BIll said while Richie added "my parents didn't trust me enough."
"Stan," she said, "if we knew how to fix the problem it would be fixed."
They ended up going back to the library. Stan called his dad, who had always been mildly handy around the house, and asked what to do.
"Um, our heat's broke. Like the house has no heat."
"And you called me? Son, call a furnace guy to take a look-see."
"Oh. Will he fix it?"
"If it's broken, he will. Also, Stanley, have Bill call his mom when he gets the chance. Nothing's wrong, no, but she wants to check in with him."
"Okay, got it."
"Wait, Stanley? Have you been going to synagogue lately?"
"Um, I gotta go, Dad." Stan hung up.
He went off to find his friends then: Richie was sitting in the autobiography section, reading Steve Martin's book. Ben was in poetry, Bill was chatting to a librarian, Eddie was having a stare-off over a shelf with some random-ass child, Mike was in the history section, and Bev was looking at the various activities offered at night.
They returned home to a house that was still freezing, and Ben was elected to call the furnace people.
"Hello, I was wondering if I could schedule an appointment? Yes, my name is Ben Hanscom. I live in Bedford-Stuyvesant. Mm-hm. Okay! Well, um the heat just shut off randomly about an hour or so ago. We were wondering if you could come by and take a look? Mm-hm. Okay. Alright. Okay, we will see you then, Mr- Parson? Okay!" Ben hung up the phone and deflated. "He will be here tomorrow morning."
Everyone groaned, and Richie said "Well, what are we supposed to do until then?"
"It's like noon," Mike said. "Let's go grab lunch? And then we can maybe to out, or back to the library to work on school stuff."
They went with Mike's plan, because of course they did. An excellent Chinese food place in Brooklyn, and then the library, and then they stopped at a fabric store for Bev and then Mike and Bill had to run in to a used bookstore for "just a second" that turned into twenty minutes and a new book each. Stan met a pigeon that he liked very much and Ben helped Bev find a skirt pattern online, with the backdrop of Richie's steady stream of jokes and Eddie's groans at them.
They returned home to a house that was still freezing, but Richie made some macaroni and cheese with blue macaroni noodles ("You put food coloring in the water, Stanny, it's not hard") that gave it a slightly strange look, but it was delicious nonetheless and, more importantly, it warmed them up a bit. Then they swaddled themselves in blankets, Bill turned "A Christmas Story" on TV, and they settled in.
Of course, Richie- a self-described "scholar of comedy"- could quote most of the fim from memory and he did. They were smushed together, cuddling-but-not-really, and Eddie said about halfway thorugh "We should make some popcorn" but nobosy got up. Stan understood why.
Of course, all good things come to an end. It was a school night for everybody, and as the credits rolled they all started to get up. Then they all realized, simultaneously, that they still didn't have goddamn heating in their house.
"We should share beds." Good old Beverly, to the rescue.
"I don't have a problem with that," Richie said. "Someone can share with me."
'I call the opposite of dibs on sharing a bed with Richie. He cuddles in his sleep," Stan said immediately.
"How- how is that a bad thing?" Ben asked. "Cuddles are nice, even with your friends."
"Richie is 6 foot and about 190 pounds. He can and will smother me."
"I would be offended, Stan, but I've come to expect this type of behavior from you. Eddie, my love, will you share my bed on this special night?" Richie grinned hopefully.
"Shut the FUCK up about that dumb fifties song, Richie, and fine, I will, but if you hog the blankets it's over."
"Fine, fine." And Richie picked Eddie up in a fireman's carry and spun around really quickly, Bev stretched her hand like she could catch Eddie lest he fall.
"I don't care," Bill said. "Stan, if you want a break from them-" he rolled his eyes at Richie and Eddie, "- you can bunk with me and Mike."
"Sounds good to me."
That night, Stan watched Richie and Eddie brush their teeth and make faces at each other in the mirror, set to the tume of Istanbul (Not Constantinople), while Mike showered and Bill read the new book he bought earlier.
'Is it any good?" Stan asked.
"Ehh. It's called Pet Sematery, and I'm not a huge fan of the author, but I heard this one was good."
Stan fell asleep cold with Bill's shoulder digging into his. It wasn't the best way to fall asleep but it was better than being freezing alone.
i am so so sorry this chapter is
a) late and
please tell me if there are any typos! thank u
chapter four got deleted by accident and i don't have time to rewrite it again, so nothing happened that day.
December 5th was a Tuesday.
Bill Denbrough was excited, because Georgie was going to come and visit on Friday night and stay through the weekend, and it was the first time he had seen the new house. Richie was going to take Stan's bed, Stan was going to stay in Bill's bed, Bill was going to take the couch, and Georgie got Richie's bed. The Losers were all thrilled too: Bill remembered waking up when he was six and finding that Mrs Uris was at his house, his parents were at the hospital, and he was going to be a big brother. He had gone to Stan's house for the day, and an hour later Richie had arrived with Eddie, and they spent the day making little signs and decorations for the baby's room. Stan, Richie and Eddie were there with him standing in front of the Denbrough house when Georgie was brought home, and they were right beside him six years later when Georgie went missing one summer. That was the summer he met Bev and Ben and Mike: Ben was hurt and they had to help him, Bev had helped them get the supplies they needed to treat him, and then they helped Mike beat up Henry Bowers in the Barrens. The three kids had joined their motley crew, helped Bill and the boys save Georgie from the clutched of Henry Bowers, and had never seperated again.
Bev and Ben credited Georgie for bringing them closer to the Losers, Mike loved children, Richie and Stan saw Georgie as their brother, and Georgie and Eddie always got along very well, as Eddie and Bill were usually the babysitters for him when they got older (Bev's dad didn't want his little girl getting a job). So yeah, they were excited. Derry schools were closing a week early on Thursday due to incrediblly cold temperatures and a possible blizzard, and Georgie would take the train from Portland, Maine at six a.m., arriving at about six in the evening. Bill had the train schedule practically memorized, Georgie had all of the Loser's phone numbers in case of emergency, and Bill and Richie were currently debating ideas for things to do while he was in town. He wouldn't even be here for another four days!
"Okay, so, ice skating at Rockefeller Center," Richie was saying with a mouth full of Starbucks croissant. "It's, like, a New York tourist thing that's actually fun to do. And if we go late at night, like ten-thirty, we can get there after the crowd. And even go to there fron somewhere else, like the Empire State!"
"Or the MOMA," Bill interjected. "Maybe we go wake up, breakfast, kinds hang around for a bit, lunch, Central Park, some museum, dinner, Rockefeller."
"Fineeeee," Richie said. "I mean, I'm sure everyone else will like that plan, but I wanted to do touristy stuff!"
"That is touristy stuff! And Richie," Bill said slyly, "Are you sure you just want to go to Rockefeller for the fun of ice skating?"
"Whatever do you mean, Billiam?"
"I mean it's on a bunch of lists of things to do in NYC in December and you're hardcore crushing on Eddie."
"This is slander on my good name," Richie said, reddening. "I have to bid you adeiu, though, because we've reached my building." He gave Bill an affectionate half-hug. "See ya!"
Bill had a test and then a lecture for a class he didn't even want to take (it was required for his major) right after, which was cruel and unusual punishment, but it was Tuesday. Tuesdays meant he could grab food with Stan in the cafeteria and listen for forty-five minutes while he told Bill about whatever he had learned in class that day, and on Tuesdays he had an ornithology class first thing, so Bill got lots of quality bird content and facts while he quietly ate his sandwich. Every so often, Stan would stop and say "Sorry, I'm talking a lot, how was your class?" and Bill would say "No, no! I like your bird facts, keep going!" and Stan would smile and keep going.
It was a peculiar thing with the core four Losers- they all had trouble talking. Well, no, they had no trouble talking. It was the stopping that was the problem. Richie had a habit of saying "Fuck, guys, I'm so sorry I've been rambling about this boring shit," in the middle of an enthusiastic lecture about The Simpsons or music or John Mulaney that made Bill's heart sink because it was from years and years of being told Richie, don't ramble and Richie, not everybody is as enthusiastic as you and Richie, please be quiet from parents and teachers and even "friends" that meant well. Stan had been raised to let others speak, to not share a billion facts about birds and plants and to pipe down during dinner, and so he would try to catch himself in the middle of long speeches before people would get annoyed at him. Eddie had been told that "Children should be seen and not heard, Eddie-bear!" and so rarely spoke his mind as a small child, but when he broke free of fake medicines and gazebos they realized there had also been a muzzle on his mouth. Eddie had an opinion on everything, politics and movies and interior design and the pattern of Richie's socks, and he shared each and every one of them with the Losers, and Bill saw how fiercely happy he was to be able to do and say what he wanted, and it near broke his heart to see Eddie's face fall when someone told him to "just shut up" or "be quiet", similar to Richie's and Stan's. And as for Bill, he rarely opened his mouth in the first place; every time he talked back in Derry he expected for Henry and Victor to come tease him mercilessly, and even though years of speech therapy and constant reminders to slow down his words had cured the stutter, it didn't cure the fear of talking. He supposed that's why they got along so well when they were younger: Richie and Stan talked their way out of mean teachers and schoolyard bullies, and then Bill and Eddie patched them up after the inevitable fights. Ben was quiet by nature, preferring to communicate in pencil and paper than his voice, but he would chat with Bill about books and writing from suset to sundown. Mike wasn't the chatty type, more of a listener, and Bev was like Eddie in that she was finally free to say whatever the hell she wanted to whover the hell she wanted, except when people told her to shut up she told them to shut up in return and kept talking.
So Bill was sitting in the cafeteria while Stan talked about starling with stars in his eyes, with an untouched salad in front of him (another core four similarity: they either ate or talked. Never both at the same time.) and his hair curling onto his eyes, and somehow the fluorsecent lights made him look good. Like, his hair was very pretty (were boys pretty? Either, way, Stan was) and then it hit Bill like a ton of bricks. Holy fucking shit. I like Stan as, like, a boyfriend.
He took a large bite of sandwich, checked his bare wrist, announced he didn't want to be late, and sprinted out of the cafeteria with Stan mid-sentence, confused, and a little hurt.
In his American Literature class, instead of taking notes on this week's novel, Bill decided to sift through his feelings the only way he knew how: writing.
Dealing With Confusing Feelings 101
I find Stanley Uris attractive
- especially the way he looks when he's excited about something
- Stanley Uris slept in a small bunk bed with me the other night and it made me feel the same way a good Hozier song does
- When Beverly made me watch The Outsiders there was a bunch of scenes where Matt Dillon was shirtless and it made me feel things
- But also when Ben and Stan and I watched Pride and Prejudice, Keira Knightley was Lizzy Bennet and that also made me feel similar things to shirtless Matt Dillon
Stanley Uris sometimes grabs my wrist when he is scared and it makes me feel like I'm an Avenger or something and not like a skinny teenage boy
- Richie grabs my hand sometimes too though and I do not feel the same way when Richie does it
- Richie is bisexual. Ask Richie?
I would be perfectly fine if Stanley Uris wanted to go on a cute date to Ellen's Starlight Diner or to Central Park to birdwatch or to the art museum to look at art
- I would not object if he were to hold my hand, kiss me on the cheek (mouth?) and take a photo together that we would put on Instagram
I would also be alright if he wanted to switch rooms with Mike, sleep in the bed with me (not in a weird way but in a "he's very warm and soft when he sleeps" way) and remind me gently but firmly to get some rest
- Mike does that already but sometimes he lets me stay up until 2am and that isn't heakthy according to Eddie so maybe Stan would make me go to bed
- Even if I was gay (bisexual?) Stan is not and he does not return my feelings.
There, Bill thought. End of story.
Stan was. ANd he did return the feelings.
Stan and Richie had figured their sexualities out one hot summer day at the quarry, when the Losers were swimming. It was June, and it was still kind of chilly, so Richie and STan were sitting with Ben on some rocks chatting idly.
"So, Ben," Stan had said with a smirk. "Tell me the truth. WOuld you date Bev?" This was after Bill and Beverly had broken up.
"I dunno," Ben said with a blush. "She's pretty, and super cool, and really smart. I guess I would."
They sat in silence for a second, then-
"Stan, would you date Bill?"
Ben had said it as a conversation-filler, expecting "Nooo!" and giggles from Richie. Instead, to his surprise, Stan replied "yeah, totally!" almost immediately.
"What?" Ben said.
"Yeah, I'd date Bill. He's great, he's so smart and he's really brave and he cares about all of us so much..." Ben was looking confused.
"Yeah!" Richie said. "I'd be down to date the hell out of Eddie anytime. It's not a big deal, Ben, I'm sure you'd go out with Mike or Bill if given the chance. Not Eds, though, he's mine."
Ben was looking more and more worried by the second. "I don't want to be boyfriends with Bill or Mike. And I heard the big kids at school say that was wrong, but they also said Bev was a- you know."
"Well, Bev isn't." Richie said. "And so they must not be right about this thing either."
Ben nodded, and then in sync they all three turned to the water below: Bev floating on her back, Bill jumping off, Eddie swimming lazily. And they looked at each other, and they all three knew well enough what the others were thinking.
After that, Stan and Richie scoured the internet for articles on homo- and bi- sexuality, Ben found books at the library with queer protaganists, and finally in freshman year Richie announced that he was, in fact, bisexual. Yes, the Losers (and his parents, who were accepting if not a little confused) were sworn to secrecy, but they could all tell how much lighter he seemed. And Stan stayed in the closet; tucked his crushes on Bill and Ansel Elgort away on a shelf, brought some blankets and a few good books into there, and settled in for a long stay.
On December 6 (a Wednesday), Beverly Marsh found out her only class of the day was canceled.
She was pretty excited because she had a lot of Christmas and Hannukah gifts to finish, so after she had kissed Ben, hugged Richie, fixed Eddie's hair, straightened Stan's collar, tapped Bill on the nose and handed Mike a granola bar, she ran up to her room to retrieve her shopping list for the day.
GIFTS!!!!!!!! by bev
eddie-cool new shorts
richie- neon bowtie
stan- bowtie but with birds
ben- bookbag with embroidery
mike- bookbag with fabric transfers
bill- flannel blanket
Bev loved Christmas, loved the secrecy of the gifts and sneaking them under the tree at midnight, Home Alone (which Richie had memorized) and Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer (which Bill could quote from memory) and in recent years, Stan set up the hanukkiah and they each got to light a candle. Until her junior year of high school, Christmas had consisted of her dad making her dress up and then sitting in the living room reading the Bible while he got drunk. So she wanted to make these years count.
Pulling on her fur-lined leather jacket over her jeans and t-shirt, she headed out the door to the subway with keys tucked between her fingers. She made her way to the subway station, waited around and scrolled TikTok, then hopped on the train to Manhattan. She faked a very loud and personal phone call with her "brother" Richie about the hot boyfriend she was bringing home for the holidays, a guy she had met in a martial arts class, and then hopped off at her stop to go fabric shopping.
She did wish Richie was there, not only because she knew he would have held her hand and made loud jokes to fend off the weird guy on the subway, but also because he loved fabric stores. He'd just walk up and down the aisles with her, feeling the different fabrics, while she shopped. Today was secret, though. She had even withdrawn cash from the Losers' joint bank account so they wouldn't know she had done a bunch of shopping. The trip with Eddie had been fake: she was getting some school supplies, he was just along for the ride.
She found a fabric for Richie's bowtie that was almost a replica of the pattern Eleven had worn in the latest Stranger Things. Some bright blue fabric for Eddie's shorts, silky and smooth for running. Canvas for Ben and Mike, more embroidery thread. She asked if they had any bird-pattered fabric but they didn't.
She took a taxi to another fabric store, where they didn't have a bird pattern either. Luckily, it was down the street from Goodwill, where Bev bought nearly every soft flannel shirt in the store. She googled "fabric stores near me" and gave in to going to Mood Fabrics, a place she only went when she knew she could spend lots of time (and money). She ended up walking in, asking a sales associate where the bird-printed fabrics were, buying a navy twill with little brown birds all over it, ignoring the temptation of a gorgeous faux-velvet that was on sale (and would make the cutest skirt for their New Year's Party), paying, and walking out.
She hung out in the city a while longer, feeling the feeling of simultaneous suffocation and freedom. Right now it was Eddie she wanted to be experiencing this with- Eddie who had sympathized with her back in Derry, Eddie who had come to sneak her out of her window at night with Richie and taken her on adventures, Eddie who was banned from her house (and she was banned from his) but still snuck her in and out that back window without Alvin catching a glimpse. Eddie who was as free as she was now. She smiled slightly at the thought of her best friend (because yeah, Richie and Eddie were her best friends) here with her and what he would be doing. She could hear his voice now: Get out of the road and stop fucking jaywalking, asshole! If Richie had come too, he would have been wheezing with laughter while Eddie yelled at some guy who wasn't even listening, cursing him out and getting mad over nothing.
She took the subway home to the soundtrack of Green Day and set up her sewing machine. Eddie and Richie would be the first ones home in about four hours.
She cut up the flannels, pulled out the huge sack of rice they kept in the kitchen and got to work on gift number one. After making the shirts into nice, neat squares, she divided them into two even groups and sewed the squares into two equal giant squares. Then, she sewed three of those edges together, making a big old pocket. She began to fill the pocket with rice, sewing dividers every so often until she had a lovely weighted flannel blanket. She had gone through one playlist, fifty flannels, and a lot of rice. She had two hours.
Next was a bowtie for Stan, which she started by sewing the material- which was pleasantly thick- into two double-sided squares. Then she cut the center band, added the clip, realized she screwed up and started over. She always bought extra material- either for future projects or messed up ones. She re-sewed the squares and the middle band, this time by hand in her neat stitches, and then attached the metal clip exactly the way Instructables.com told her to. She ironed it out perfectly, attached the middle band, and she had made her first bowtie, with an hour and fifteen minutes to spare! She wrapped it and set it next to the wrapped-up blanket in the cabinet under the bathroom sink, where she kept feminine products and where the boys never went, except Stan once a month for his bathroom cleaning and he had done that on Monday.
To wrap it up, she sewed the basic bags for Mike and Ben, and my the time the boys arrived home, she was looking at embroidery ideas online.
"I'm making dinner tonight," Richie said. "I'm making stir fry with rice."
"We're out of rice!" Bev said hurriedly. "I can grab some."
"I'll come with you," Eddie volunteered and they walked down to the corner store together. Bev loved the Christmas lights that wrapped around the trees on their street. In the dark, they looked like they were ghosts of trees, standing on their own. Eddie caught her little smile.
"So the Richie thing," he sighed as they walked. "It's getting weird."
"Has it ever not been weird?" she asked.
"Okay, fair point, but he's just so aggressively cuddly and tactile that it's hard to deny my feelings for him and stuff! You try to tell yourself you're not, like, borderline in love with someone when they decide the best solution to the lack of seats on the subway is you sitting on their lap while they hold you around the waist?"
"Oh my god, he did that?"
"Yes!" Eddie cried. "People weren't, like, looking at us weird either! It was like we do that every Wednesday on the commute home, and it was so fuckin' domestic I couldn't take it!"
They were in the shop now, and Bev and Eddie each grabbed a side of the bag of rice and heaved it on the counter to pay. Then they began to drag it home.
"And- and- and I'm not sure if it's worse that he does it to everyone, or better. because, like, yeah, when I see him wrap his arms around Bill's waist like they're married and whatever, it's like oh okay nothing to worry about. And then two seconds later he's all Eddie come sit on my lap on the subway because there are no more seats left, and I do of course, and then when I see him do the thing to Bill later it feels like Richie's putting my heart through that automatic orange juicer Mike bought! Why did I fall in possible love with Richie Tozier, for god's sake, the most confusing man on the planet? You got Ben, who just writes you a poem and you're in love forever, but noooooo," he prattled on as they carted the rice up the steps and into the house.
They dumped it on the floor, and Bev saw Eddie's face go from annoyed to the softest expression on earth as Richie wrapped his arms around Eddie's chest, tucked his chin on Eddie's head, and stayed there while asking Bev about her day off.
December 6th ended with the Losers enjoying dinner together, and Richie and Eddie sitting suspiciously close.
who they told about their crushes: a summary
richie: ben, stan
stan: richie, ben
bill: nobody yet but he's gonna tell richie
ben: richie and stan
December 7th, a Wednesday, was rather nice for December. Mike Hanlon was in his anthropology class, and there was a window in the classroom. On a tree outside, a bird was perched in a nest and he sent a picture to both Stan and Bill. Stan replied with the correct species and facts about the bird, and Bill replied that he wanted to draw it.
The class was a lot of fun. Mike wanted to be a history teacher someday; back in Derry they had had a great history teacher named Mr Potts that got even Richie engaged in the class. Mike wanted to be that someday, to make students want to learn, and he wanted to even go back to Derry to do it and be an adult that understood. Back when the Losers lived there, life had been a daily torture for almost all of them and Mike wanted to go back, discipline the kids that bullied and comfort the ones that were bullied. He even had plans to start an African-American Student Leadership Club, as well as one for Jewish kids in Derry, after he and Stan had bonded over being the only kids who were different in their class.
He was still thinking about the logistics of these hypothetical clubs- if Stan for some reason moved back, he could be a mentor!- when the class ended and he met up with Ben outside his design class. Ben was beaming, holding some plans for something in his hands, and when they finally sat down at the Panera Bread ten minutes later, he unrolled them to reveal a library.
"See, it's the Derry library, but I made it better and more open and less creepy. Do you remember when that guy was staring at us weird when we were eighth graders, and then he asked us if we wanted to go check out some books in his car?" Ben explained.
"Oh my gosh, yes!" Mike said. "And we were like 'no friggin way, dude' and then Bev showed up in the nick of time as he was backing us towards the autobirgraphies, and she was like 'Andrew! Shawn! Dad is looking for you guys!' and acted like you were her brother and I was your friend?" Ben laughed at the memory, softening at the mention of Bev. Ben ordered a BLT, Mike got some mac and cheese, and they also picked up a baguette for dinner.
"How many inappropriate jokes will Richie make about this baguette?" Mike asked once they found seats.
"Like, seven before we've even set the table. And then Eddie will beep him."
"Richie barely opens his mouth and Eddie beeps him," Mike pointed out. Just then, his phone buzzed. It was Bill, in his art class, with a rough sketch of the bird and tree.
Bill > birddoodle.png
Stan > Oh my gosh, Bill! That's really good!
Mike > Yeah, Bill, thats awesome!
Mike > Really good -Ben
Bill > omg thank you :,)
"Watch Bill get an A-plus in that class despite only turning in doodles of the Losers doing funny things and photos that Stan sends him," Ben laughed, taking a bite of BLT. Mike's mac and cheese came with a slice of baguette, and so he made a macaroni sandwich. They ate in silence for a bit, Mike texting intermittently with Bill and Stan, and then Ben spoke.
"I need help, Mike. I don't have a gift for Bev."
"Okay, but why me?"
"You're amazing at gifts? For example, what are you getting for everyone?"
"A book by a writer on The Simpsons for Rich, the Humans of New York book for Bev, Good Omens for Bill, one of those statistic books for Eddie, and John Muir's book My First Summer In The Sierra for Stanley."
Mike just grinned. "So what does Bev like? I mean, you know her better than any of us."
"Um, her favorite show is The Good Place. She wants to be a fashion designer. She loves the Andrew Garfield Spider-Man movies the most, and she loves it when you put almonds in the green beans."
"She likes my almond green beans? Aww, Bevvy!" Mike cooed. "But, um, that's not important. I don't think that you want to get her an Eleanor Shellstrop t-shirt or Spider-Man poster or whatever, so are there any memories you guys have? Like, there's that one episode of The Office where Jim gets Pam a teapot that she's been wanting, and inside he fills it up with inside jokes and reminders of little moments they've shared over the years. It's nice because sure, Pam's not gonna use those random hot sauce packsts, but it's the thought that counts. And she gets a nice teapot that she can use."
"That's... a really good idea! I could get her a new bag and fill it with a bunch of memories!" Ben said excitedly, his face lighting up. Mike smiled at his enthusiasm.
"OK, so we can make a list of things to include..."
Later, though, in a lecture, Mike had an even better idea for Ben. They had made up a pretty good list at Panera, but seeing as how Ben and Beverly were the only two of his dumbass pining best friends to get their romantic shit together, Mike had a lot of time and energy to focus on counseling their relationship.
Mike > Better gift idea
Mike > If you are busy you don't have to reply rn
Ben > No im in a lecture rn!
Ben > And any help is appreciated!!
Mike > Ok ok so instead of giving her a gift she'll use give her like an experience
Mike > like plan a road trip, find fun places to visit, and then when it's over she'll probs make a scrapbook out of it
Ben > She does love her scrapbooks :)
Mike > Her and stanley both lol
Mike > But anyways! you could even plan it up the east coast and back, skipping maine ofc
Mike > Sorry i'm planning your romantic road trip for you haha
Ben > no please continue
Ben > you're better at this than me
Mike > haystack all you need to do is take my template and plug in the Benverly parts
Ben > Benverly??????
Mike > nvm. but we'll talk tonight!
Ben> Yeah! See you tonight :))
That night, Ben sat at the table while Mike made dinner. The rest of their roommates are either working or not home yet, so they were undisturbed.
"Okay, so we could go to a coastal town. It'll still be pretty but not touristy because it's winter and there would be tourist things to do."
"I love it," Mike said slowly as he stirred his tomato sauce. He was really concentrating hard.
"Or we could go south? Georgia?"
"I dunno, it's the first southern state I thought of!" Ben defended. "Ugh. I don't know how to plan a romantic road trip getaway. Can't I just wait to plan it until she knows and then she can help me?"
"Oh my gosh. Yeah, man. Beverly Marsh would love to co-plan her own Christmas gift." Mike started to laugh. "WE spent all this time and she already probably has emergency road trip plans saved on her laptop somewhere."
Ben laughed too. "Remember the day we all met? I was getting carved like a fuckin Thanksgiving turkey, and Richie and Eddie were trying to get me bandaids, and Bev was like 'welcome to the wonderful world of Theft!'"
"And then I walked by them all trying to patch you up and was like 'yeah only two of these people know what they're doing and one of them has a large knife wound, better step in.'"
December 7th ended with them all asleep early. Mike and Bill watched Brooklyn 99 for a bit but BIll had finishe dall his work, Mike didn't have anything, and Georgie was visiting the day after tomorrow. Life wasn't just good, life was currently fucking excellent.
Mike's last thought before he drifted off was "now that Ben and Bev are good, I got to get started on Richie and Eddie."
hello- i have decided that i'm just going to post the day's chapter the next day, so here will be a chapter every night about what happened the day before.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
It was first grade, Derry Elementary, Miss Kitt's class. Eddie was out sick, again. This was normal, Eddie was sick a lot and the teacher didn't even get mad at him when he was gone for a while- there was a note in his file and he had a fanny pack full of medicine and everything. But Eddie had been sick for three full days, and so at art hour (which was forty-five minutes) Bill and Richie and Stan convened to discuss the situation.
"I bet he's just recovering," Stan said. "His mom keeps him out of school to recover a lot."
"I really miss him though," Richie whined.
"You really miss him whenever he does anything without you!" Bill laughed.
"Yeah, but I love him so it's okay," Richie defended.
"You can't be in love with Eddie!" Bill said.
"Why not?" Richie asked.
"Because we're seven, and we aren't old enough to be in love." Bill knew these things because he was the leader, he was the oldest and the tallest and he had a baby brother that he helped take care of, and so Stan nodded and Richie said: "okay, but I still really miss him!". Bill forgot it, Stan forgot it, and Eddie had never known the conversation happened in the first place, but it had stuck in Richie's head for some reason and it came to mind on December 8th, a Thursday morning, as he walked with Eddie in the falling snow.
What about now, William? he thought. Am I old enough to love Eddie now?
Because after the day Eddie was out sick, there was the time Richie kissed a papercut on his finger. There was the time Eddie had to join the girls in square-dancing because there was an uneven number and Richie had "reluctantly" volunteered to be his partner and between Stan and Patty, and Bill and Audra, they had awkwardly placed hands on waists and spun around the multipurpose room until the bell rang. There was the day in the arcade when Henry Bowers called Richie words that made him shiver to this very day, there had been the day by the quarry with Bill and Stan, there were nights spent sneaking Eddie out of his room and showing him the best night-time adventures Derry had to offer, there were moments stolen while they brushed their teeth side-by-side and made faces at each other, there had been a few nights ago when Eddie had shared Richie's roomy twin bed and despite Eddie stealing Richie's side of the bed (back corner, back against the wall, facing away from the wall) and stealing all the blankets, Richie knew he had been looking at him with a look on his face that topped any romance film in history.
They strolled along, not talking, respective earbuds in, and when Eddie raised a hand to say goodbye as Richie dropped him off, he grinned and Richie grinned back. Then, Richie set off back to the house. he didn't even have a class on Thursday morning. he just wanted to walk Eddie to class. He decided to stop at the store to grab some snacks so he could eat and get some work done before going to an afternoon class. And it was in the store that he saw it- the greatest romantic plot device known to man.
Early on, Richie had realized that if he only hugged Eddie, only teased Eddie, only acted affectionate with Eddie, he was a) being obvious about his crush and b) making both him and Eddie easy targets. So he adjusted his strategy: he kissed Bev on the cheek in greeting, he draped himself all over Bill's back when they stood around, he sat in Stanley's lap and played with Ben's hair and propped his chin on Mike's shoulder and if he did all of that to Eddie? Well, he was just Like That with all his friends! He could never completely stop the teasing, so he might as well roll with it.
So Richie bought mistletoe for every door in the house. He hung it above the door to the dining room, the kitchen, to Ben and Bev's room, Mike and Bill's, and his and Stan and Eddie's. He wrote a few jokes and went to his class.
Richie returned home to Eddie standing in the living room with an exasperated look on his face.
"Really, asshole? Mistletoe?"
"Eddie Spaghetti, you wound me. I didn't do this!"
'Richie Bitchie, you were the only one home between me leaving and me getting home."
"Beep-beep, Eddie," Richie said.
"You don't get to fucking beep me! I beep you!" Eddie genuinely sounded offended.
"You don't get to give me nicknames, then."
"Okay, Richard," Eddie smirked and pushed past Richie into the dining room, throwing a dirty look over his shoulder as he started to get his notes ready.
God, Richie loved him.
Despite Eddie's lackluster reaction, the rest of the Losers thought the mistletoe was pretty funny. Ben and Bev kissed in the doorway to the kitchen and Mike pecked Richie on the cheek in the dining room and Stan kissed Bill on the nose in the entryway to Stan's room where they were studying, which made them both blush and avoid eye contact for fifteen minutes.
Richie, for his part, dipped Beverly under the dining room door to plant one right on the tip of her freckled nose. He leaned close to Mike, he pecked Ben and he smacked a kiss right onto Stan's forehead, while the latter sighed with a smile at his best friend. Bill was annoyed he had to go on tiptoe to gingerly kiss Richie on the cheek, and the fact that he was that much taller made Richie smile more than the kiss did. But Eddie avoided Richie and doorways like he had the Black Plague. That was the bruise on the apple, the fly in the ointment, the... bad thing in the day that was otherwise great.
Richie did have all month to get the job done, but he didn't want to make Eddie uncomfortable, so he could wordlessly take it all down, but then someone would call him out, he could tell Eddie he didn't want to make him uncomfortable and apologize, but he couldn't say "hey bro I just wanted to smash my face into your face like I've been wanting to do since before either of us can remember, you know like bros do sometimes."
So Richie did what Richie did best- he made dumb jokes, set the dinner table, and purposely stepped on Eddie's foot under the table because even though he was turning twenty this year, he was a boy on the playground pulling a girl's pigtails at heart. And after dinner, while Stan and Mike stood side-by-side and washed the dishes, Richie did some homework and lay in his bed with a Queen record on.
"Knock-knock?" It was Bill.
"Billy boy!" Richie grinned. Bill looked around, closed the door, and ran to jump on the end of Richie's bed, face down, looking as if he had just crossed a desert.
"Bill? Are you alright?" Richie asked nervously.
'No, I'm not alright," Bill hissed. "I'm having a goddamned sexuality crisis , Richie, and since you're the only person I know who's had one of these thoroughly unpleasant experiences, I really could use some help!"
"So I'm having my weekly platonic lunch date with Stanley, and we're sitting across from each other in the school cafeteria, and I just realize holy shit. Stan is really pretty? Or handsome? I dunno? Anyways, he was talking about birds, and he gets so passionate about birds and nature that he should become some sort of nature guy, like a more zen Steve Irwin, but he's becoming an accountant, and so I was realizing that I had a crush on Stan, and then I was like 'ok bye nice seeing you' and bolted."
"Bruh,' Richie said starting to laugh. "But seriously, Bill, do you really like Stan?"
'Richie, that's what I'm here to ask you. Here, I, um, made a list." Bill ran to his room and returned with his American Literature notebook. "Read this."
Richie did and started to giggle again, but this time in disbelief. "Matt Dillon? From Outsiders? Bill, Patrick Swayze was right there!..... ok but the Keira Knightly thing is valid..... yeah Stan is warm and soft when he's asleep, that's the only time I can tolerate him- KIDDING! Geez, Bill, I was kidding, you know Stanley the Manly's like a brother to me. And also congrats, you're probably bi."
" WHAT? "
"Bill, honestly, I love you as much as I love Stan. If Eddie's my unrequited crush/possible future boyfriend and Stan's my brother, you're my best friend. You're Big Bill! The fearless leader! You made us break into Henry's creepy hideout on Neibolt Street when we were twelve to rescue your kidnapped brother! If you're going to be intimidated by a boy, that boy shouldn't be Stanley Uris, the boy who as we speak is doing his weekly jigsaw puzzle with Ben and Eddie and listening to Vampire Weekend. I get the whole never-ever-in-your-life-telling-the-boy-you-like-him thing but don't let it intimidate you or scare you, either. And don't come out right now if you're not ready."
Bill wasn't tearing up but his eyes were glassy. "Thank you, Rich." They hugged for a minute, then Richie stopped.
"Wait- what do you think of this song?" He tapped around on his phone, turned the record player off, and hit play on Spotify.
All I am is a man
I want the world in my hands
I hate the beach
But I stand in California with my toes in the sand
"Oh, this is Sweater Weather! I love this song!"
Richie grinned. "Yeah, you're bi."
Later that night, right before midnight, Richie was in the dark kitchen. After the Eddie thing, the Bill-and-Stan thing, he couldn't be expected to sleep. He had run out of melatonin and was considering finding a 24-hour pharmacy to get some, but at the moment he was sitting on the counter sipping some tea. He was not an herbal tea person, although Stan and Eddie were, he preferred coffee, but this Sleepytime blend should help with insomnia. he was humming to himself, thinking of ways to try to get Stan to make the first move on Bill when he heard a noise. Eddie, in his matching pajama set and messy hair, apparently with the same idea as Richie.
"Hey," Richie said. he could make some sort of dirty joke out of this situation but it didn't seem like the time, so he kept it at that.
"Hey." Eddie looked drained, absolutely drained, as he refilled the kettle and set it on the stove. He boosted himself up to sit beside Richie.
"So, um, Georgie comes in tomorrow," Richie said to fill the silence.
"Yeah. Stan and I were talking about skipping school so we could get ready, hang out. Bill will probably be game for it, and you're invited to skip school with us too."
"Wait- Georgie gets here at, like, six p.m. none of us have class then-"
"Bill said, and I quote, 'we're just looking for an excuse to skip school'. And besides, how long has it been since the core four Losers hung out?"
"Well, I won't pass up on an opportunity to cut class and spend the day with four of my favorite boys." The kettle whistled, Eddie made his tea, and they sipped at their mugs together, quietly making small talk until the mugs were empty. Once they were, they started out of the kitchen- and there was that dumb sprig of mistletoe.
Eddie went up on his tiptoes.
Chapped lips met the very corner of Richie's mouth- not his cheek, not his lips-
And Eddie was up the stairs as Richie just stood there. Eddie had kissed him. Holy shit.
December 8th ended as Richie just kept standing in the kitchen doorway, eyes wide, processing his entire fucking insane day, and Eddie processed what he had just done, and then he pretended to be asleep while Richie came upstairs and lay in his bed.
Neither of them fell asleep before five in the morning.
yeah they're all gay
also poor stan,,, he's liked bill for y e a r s and bill's like "huh maybe straight people just fantasize about kissing their best friend and moving into a small minimalist apartment with them and adopting three dogs together sometimes. just friends being friends:)"
It was December 9th, a Friday, and Bill was up with Mike at the alarm. While Mike buttoned his flannel shirt and tucked it into his jeans before tying his hiking boots, Bill let his flannel hang open over his undershirt and just went downstairs in socks. Stan was there already, dressed casually (for Stan, that is. He was wearing nice black jeans and a baby-blue button-down, and his non-school backpack.) and ready to go with herbal tea.
"You're skipping too?" Mike asked with a nod.
"Yeah. I mean, we go on break for three weeks starting Monday, so I won't be missing much, but yeah. Oh! Bill, I started the coffee." Stan smiled. Bill's heart did a little front roll in his chest, and he turned around to pour some coffee into Richie's WORLD'S BEST BOSS mug. Eddie and Richie ran downstairs next- Richie in skinny jeans, converse, and a shirt patterned with loud sunflowers, Eddie in a pastel sweatshirt and jeans- and Richie sipped a Red Bull while Eddie drank some tea. Mike left after a quick goodbye, Bev and Ben did too after reminding them to give Georgie bug hugs when he got there.
The boys decided to go out to breakfast at Leo's Coney Island. It was kind of an awkward meal because Eddie was avoiding looking at Richie, and Bill was avoiding looking at Stan, so Stan and Richie looked at each other and Bill looked at the menu and Eddie looked at the coffee-creamer tower he made. The waiter came, and they ordered their usual food: eggs and bacon for Bill, a HealthyOption™ for Eddie, a vegetarian omelet for Stan, and a coffee and patty melt for Richie. When the food arrived, the awkward silence was finally broken by Eddie.
"What do you suggest I order, Eds?" Richie asked, sounding annoyed but being betrayed by the huge smile on his face.
"Um, breakfast food?"
"Just because you said that we're having pancakes for dinner."
"No, we aren't!" Bill cut in. "We're having Georgie's favorite, shepherd's pie. Also, Stan? Can you teach me how to make shepherd's pie?" He grinned sheepishly.
Stan's face subtly lit up. "Yeah, I can find a recipe. Also, they gave me way too many hash browns, so if anyone wants them-"
"Mine." Bill scooped half the hash browns onto his plate, sprinkled them liberally with salt and pepper, and shoveled them into his mouth. Stan smiled a soft little smile despite the potato that clung to Bill's cheek.
After they finished their meal, they went to the sewing store. Beverly's sewing machine was on its last legs, a relic from their high school days, and so the four of them had saved up to buy her a new one. They had researched a lovely newer model with the fancy lettering and pattern functions, and they picked it up today. Then they had to race back home to hide it in Richie's pants drawer, and then they headed back out for more fun times.
"We should see a movie!" Eddie said. "That new Mark Ruffalo one!"
Because nobody knew of any other movies that were showing, they saw the Mark Ruffalo one. Eddie and Stan thoroughly enjoyed it, Richie didn't care, and Bill thought it was okay. Richie managed to consume an entire large popcorn and Junior Mints and then part of the popcorn Eddie and Bill weres sharing too, and they were all so impressed at him they forgot to be annoyed. They walked around the city for a while after that, taking aesthetic photos and making fun of advertisements and people. Richie wrapped his arm around Eddie and the latter didn't even notice (he noticed actually) and Stan bumped his hip into Bill's to sneakily point that out. And then it was four p.m., and they were going to be late to being early to pick up Georgie.
They all took a cab to the station, and Richie sat in front and chatted to the driver about absolutely nothing (Richie liked the sound of his voice). They pulled up at about four-forty-five and waited around for a while for the train. They wanted to be early in case Georgie was early, or something happened, and it beat walking around a cold city in December, so. Here they were.
Richie bought a newspaper and read it aloud while laying on a bench, doing funny voices the whole time, while Eddie and Stan worried about germs and Bill texted Georgie.
Bill > How close are you?
Georgie > very
Bill > That's not helpful
Georgie > like 20 mins
Georgie > see ya then
Bill > See you then!!
Twenty minutes later, Georgie had arrived. He sprinted off the train, dragging his little suitcase behind him, and was about to hug Bill when Richie stepped between the brothers, picked up Georgie, and yelled "GEORGIE, M'BOY!" Georgie laughed, and when Richie dropped him, he ran to hug Bill, then Eddie, then Stan.
They took a taxi home, and Eddie went grocery shopping for the shepherd's pies while Georgie reunited with the other losers. Then Bill made the pies with a lot of friendly touches and helpful smiles from Stan, and Mike set the table. Georgie loved the shepherd's pies and everyone else tactfully ignored the disaster that was the crust, and in general, it was a lively dinner.
December 9th ended with Georgie fast asleep, Bill scrolling his Instagram on the couch, and Richie and Eddie trying to pick which museum to go to tomorrow.
i'm very sorry it got hurried at the end but in my defense i was sleepy
i would also like everyone to know that bill was the tallest one in the losers club until they were in eighth grade and then he just. stopped growing and everyone passed him in height except eddie (and even eddie's almost the same height as him) and it's the worst thing in his life and richie uses his head as an armrest.
On December 10, Stanley was awake at the same time he was always awake. It was a lovely Saturday morning, as lovely as it could be in December in New York, he was going to spend the entire day doing fun touristy things with his best friends and his favorite middle-schooler in the world, and Ben had remembered to do the laundry last night so his favorite shirt was clean. Life was going well.
Instead of shaking Bill and Georgie awake (they were taking over his room for the weekend), he quietly turned on Richie's Ziggy Stardust record and then tiptoed down the hallway to wake up the rest of his friends. He flickered the lights in Ben and Bev's room where they were squished together in Ben's bed- he didn't know why they had bothered to get two- and smiled as Bev shook her red hair out of her eyes and smiled back at him. In Mike's room, where Eddie was occupying Bill's bed, he shook Mike awake gently and mouthed "can you get Eddie up?", to which Mike answered with a nod.
With Richie, though, Stan showed no mercy- he queued up All-Star on his Spotify, held the phone up to Richie's ear, blasted it at full volume, and was still running around the house as his best friend chased him when Bill came down with Georgie.
Bill was wearing his usual outfit template: flannel unbuttoned over a t-shirt and jeans. Stan had never seen him button that flannel up. Georgie was wearing a sweatshirt with R2-D2 on it and jeans with his boots. Stan decided to ignore how ridiculously cute Bill looked with the collar of his flannel rumpled and his morning hair all fluffy and say to Georgie, "Props on the hoodie, but C-3PO is better."
Georgie squawked in indignation. "Is not! R2-D2 got things done more!"
"Are we arguing over Star Wars droids?" Bev asked, waltzing into the kitchen. "Because BB-8 is the best and most amazing droid in the galaxy."
"He hasn't done as much as Artoo or Threepio, though!" Bill said.
"You don't have all the facts."
"I love him," Bev said simply as she swished into the kitchen in her floaty, twirly dress thing. Stan was pretty sure she had made it herself.
Once Richie, Eddie, Ben, and Mike were dressed, they debated whether or not to go out for breakfast.
"I think we should stay here. It's Saturday morning, it'll be crowded everywhere," Eddie said as his eyes said we can't keep living semi-comfortably if we just eat at restaurants every day of the week. Richie seconded that, to nobody's surprise, and helped make blue pancakes and milk and unholy amounts of coffee. They set out at about ten a.m.
First off, they decided to go to Central Park. They took the crowded subway, with Bill and Stan holding handrails and Georgie holding Bill and Stan's hands, Bev and Ben squeezed into one seat, Mike with earbuds in and Eddie on Richie's lap to "conserve space". Richie made a total of zero dirty jokes for the whole trip, Eddie shared an earbud with him, and Bill texted Stan so the blush on their cheeks is the cold right? Stan replied, Yes, Bill! It's very cold! They made eye contact and giggled.
Once their stop arrived at the park, Georgie kept between the two boys. Stan was reminded of a memory from when they were maybe fourteen, Georgie was seven, and they were holding his hands down Main Street as they took him to get a burger from the diner.
"It's like you guys are married and you're both my dad! And I'm your son!" Georgie had laughed, and Stan had looked around to make sure nobody had heard him. He had half-expected to look back to see Bill giving Georgie a stern talk about the Dangers Of Homosexuality and why he was most definitely not married to Stan, boys didn't marry other boys, that was wrong-
Bill was just laughing at Georgie. "Son, if you don't eat your entire hamburger, you don't get to split a chocolate milkshake with Stanley."
"You mean Daddy! Or Papa!"
"You don't get to split a milkshake with Papa." Bill looked at Stan and gave him a secret sort of smile that Stan couldn't decipher but that filled his chest with a warm feeling that wasn't just the late June weather.
But back in New York- Georgie was in between Stan and Bill, and Bev and Ben were strolling arm-in-arm like a married couple, and Eddie was yelling at Richie for not wearing a proper jacket, and Mike was just smiling and taking photos of the trees and the people and them.
"You're all acting like married couples," Mike commented as he checked out a picture he had snapped of a frost-encrusted leaf. "Seriously."
"We are not," Eddie said indignantly, blushing again. he did that a lot when he was around Richie.
"You so are," ben said with a grin. Eddie just threw a little snowball, and Georgie broke free to throw one at Eddie, and Richie couldn't resist joining in with Bev, and Bill shoved some snow into Mike's gloves. They were seven almost-twenty-year-olds, who were the guardians of a small child, who paid a mortgage and bills and taxes, and they were having a snowball fight in the middle of Central Park.
Mike saw the zoo was open first and grabbed Georgie to drag him over and see the animals. They paid admission, and Bill snapped pictures of the animals to draw later, and Georgie and Mike memorized and regurgitated every fun fact they learned. Stan made friends with a sea lion, and then Bill suggested they go warm up in a museum.
"Okay, which one?" Eddie asked, which opened up a floodgate of answers.
"Guggenheim!" Ben suggested while Bill said
"MOMA!" and Richie yelled
"The Natural History Museum" and Bev called out
"The City of New York!"
"CALM DOWN!" STan yelled, which shut them all up. "Georgie, where do you want to go?"
"Um," he hedged, "City of New York. Sorry, guys!" Bev rushed to hug him.
"Let's go!" Richie cheered, setting off. Eddie stopped him.
"You're going to walk, Rich? Walk from one end of Central Park to the other? IN December?"
"It's a forty-five-minute walk."
"Eds, I'm gay, so we know that means forty minutes."
"You're bisexual , 'Chee, and we're not walking. We're taking the bus."
They took the bus.
Once they got to the museum, they split up (unsurprisingly). Bev and Eddie took Georgie to an exhibit about the history of the city, Mike and Stanley went to the Labor Movement exhibit, Ben wandered off to the part dedicated to the World's Fair, and Bill followed Richie as he beelined for a special exhibit about the Stonewall Riots.
Richie looked so noble- standing there in front of a multitude of flags, cuffed jeans and hoodie hanging off his shoulders and headphones dangling around his neck- that Bill snapped a picture to draw later. Then he joined Richie as his friend "initiated a new bisexual in his history"; it was stuff Bill had heard before but felt a new sense of, well, pride in as Richie recited the stories of Marsha Johnson and Sylvia Rivera straight off the top of his head. They found Bev and Eddie in the 1930s, Eddie rambling about the Great Depression, Bev and Georgie half-paying attention.
"Great Depression? Eddie Spaghetti, you sound like my therapist!"
"Beepity-beep, Richard! You can't make depression jokes in public, people worry!" Beverly stage-whispered as she glanced at an alarmed family standing a few feet away.
"Yeah, Richie, wait until we get home to cope with your mental health issues via jokes and comedy," Bill said.
"Can we get lunch now?" Georgie asked.
"Yeah, Billy. Can we get lunch now?" Richie made pleading Bambi eyes that Bill ignored.
Bill > Meet at the front entrance, we're getting lunch.
Stan > Where?
Bill > Idk, we'll vote on it
Ben > OK, there in like 5mins
Mike > Can we get pizza
Bill looked up. "Thoughts on pizza for lunch?"
Bill > yeah sure
Mike and his research of literally everything took them to the oldest pizza place in New York.
"It was founded in 1905 by an immigrant," Mike said, bouncing on the balls of his feet.
'Cool. Does it have good pizza?" Richie asked.
"Um, yes. It does."
They ordered and ate crammed into a booth, and then set out for the city again.
"Georgie, what do you want to do?" Ben asked.
"I read on the way here about the ferry?"
Eddie did not like taxis. He didn't like trusting some random guy with his life, he didn't like crumbs on the seats, he didn't like squeezing into one with seven other people. He was, however, perfectly fine with listening to The All-American rejects while Richie was half sitting on his lap and Bev looked at them knowingly. He had kissed Richie in a moment of something , and he had laid awake for a few hours after that, thinking up possible scenarios of what would happen next.
1) He wakes up and starts dating Richie [best case]
2) He wakes up and they never mention it again [neutral case]
3) He wakes up and Richie hates him [worst case ever]
Currently, they were at 2. Eddie was grateful.
"Excited for the ferry, boys?" Mike asks, sounding like a dad.
"I've never been on one," Eddie answers.
"Well, you'll love it."
Eddie did not love it. It was dirty and grimy, there were no seatbelts, they were on open water, and there was an extensive safety presentation that did not leave Eddie feeling safe. He felt his shoulders tense, his jaw tighten, felt a warm weight settle around his shoulders?
"Edsssssssssssss," he grumbled. "I'm cold."
"You didn't bring a cost, dumbass," Eddie said (but he could feel some stress go away.
"Spare warmth?" Richie said in a dumb Cockney accent and Eddie unzipped his jacket opened his arms, and let Richie fall into them. He zipped up the coat with Richie inside and felt the vibrations of Richie's voice go through his chest.
"So where are we going?'
"Nowhere," Eddie said as he awkwardly checked the pamphlet. "We're sightseeing via boat. It's for tourists."
"Is Georgie enjoying it?"
Eddie looked over at where the younger Denbrough brother was plastered to the window.
"Yeah, he is."
They went ice-skating because they could. It was ten p.m. and people were starting to leave, they would almost have the rink to themselves.
"This is, like, a tourist must-do," Stan explained to Georgie as they all laced on ice skates "Stay close to me and Bill, now"
Stan, Bill, and Georgie were the first ones on the rink, the younger boy between his brother and his brother's... who even knew. Richie saw Mike snap a photo, and text it to the group chat.
Mike > billandstanandgeorgie.png
Mike > two dads teaching their son to ice skate
Bill > asderfkgfjbgvwhjrf shut up
Richie and Eddie were next, Richie sure and confident from years of winter ice hockey in Derry, Eddie wobbly from years of sitting on the sidelines They clung to each other as they went around the circle of ice. Bev and Mike were next, both were adequately good from ice hockey (Mike) and roller skating (Bev). Ben was last, shaky but Trying His Best.
"I don't like this very much," Eddie said after a while. "It's hard. And don't even think about making that joke!" he added because Richie had opened his mouth.
"Here, hold on to my arm instead of the side. We can go more towards the middle," Richie suggested. Eddie did, and Richie slowly brought him out to the middle where Bev was attempting spins alone. They went in little circles, while Georgie raced Bill and Stan cheered, while Ben and MIke leisurely circled the rink, chatting. Richie stopped for a second, Eddie stopping with him.
"What's up?" he asked.
"I dunno," Richie said slowly. "I just... wow. We're here, in New York, Rockefeller Center at midnight, alone, all seven- eight- of us together, and- this makes no sense, sorry."
"No. I understand," Eddie said "Bev and I escaped from our parents, Mike and Stan escaped from what was basically persecution, Ben and Bill escaped from their heads, you escaped from suffocation, you were suffocating in Derry. Georgie- he escaped from an abandoned basement and a psychopath. We're alive."
"Yeah," Richie said quietly. "We are." They stood there for a minute longer, center ice: looking at Bev, who was free and brave and finally unleashed on the world; looking at ben who was happy and smiling and who didn't listen to other people; looking at Stan, who lit the Hannukah candles and made a seder with MIke and who volunteered at the JCC summer camps and helped kids; Mike who was doing the same thing in schools and working as a TA in a high school class and trying to make the world better for kids today than it was for them. At Bill who was finally relaxing and Georgie who was safe. Riche looked at Eddie and Eddie looked at Richie.
It struck midnight.
December 10th was over.
December 11th technically started with Stan hustling Georgie and Bill off the ice at Rockefeller Center, telling them all they needed to get home and get some sleep. Because they were all tired anyway, they went along with him, and both Bill and Georgie fell asleep on Stan's shoulders on the subway home.
When Bill woke up to his head resting on Stan's shoulder, Georgie on the other, his first thought was to sit up and apologize. But then he heard Stan saying, "Rich, keep it down. eddie's asleep, and so are my boys-"
" Your boys?"
"Shut up, Rich."
So Bill shut his eyes again and stayed asleep until he was woken by Ben shaking him. It was their stop.
They trudged through the snow to the house, where he dimly remembered getting undressed and in bed, and then it was late morning.
He blinked a few times and then sat up in Eddie's bed. Georgie and Stan were gone, downstairs most likely, and so he made the bed and ran down the stairs in slippers and his pajama pants.
"Well, well, well. If it isn't Sleeping Beauty," Mike laughed from the head of the table, where he was serving pancakes. Richie was checking his phone, Bev was half-asleep, Ben was reading, Georgie was chatting to Stan and Mike, and Eddie was leaning his head on Richie's shoulder. Bill sat in between Stan and Eddie, stacked pancakes on his plate, and drowned them in syrup.
Eddie cocked an eyebrow. "Having some pancakes with that syrup, William?"
"You sound like Richie," Bill said and Eddie stuck his tongue out at him. "Stan, Georgie, why didn't you two wake me up?"
"We were going to, but Stanley said you looked too peaceful," Georgie started. Stan turned red.
"Um, you were so tired last night too, and you stay up late so much, so we decided..." Stan started.
"It's fine. Thanks, guys." Bill smiled at them, and they both smiled back.
"So, what're we doing today?" Richie asked with a mouth full of pancakes.
"I don't know," Mike said. "We could just hang around here, do Christmas things?"
"Ooh! Back in Derry, we always watch the best Christmas movies leading up to Christmas Eve? Can we stay here and watch movies?" Georgie asked.
"Bill? Thoughts?" Mike raised his eyebrows.
"I'd be down to do that if you guys are."
"Let's do it! All-day movie marathon, stay in pajamas, make popcorn, make Richie brave the cold to get us unhealthy snacks!" Bev cheered.
So they stayed in pajamas. The only one who changed was Bill, who pulled on a shirt, and then Georgie carried all the blankets in the house to the couches. They rearranged the living room and made a cozy movie nest, while Ben popped all the microwave popcorn in the house and Richie ran to grab cookies and other assorted holiday treats.
"Okay!" he said as he stepped in the door. "They didn't have any, quote-unquote, holiday snacks, but they did help me get the things I needed to make, quote-unquote, holiday snacks. So! Who's going to help me make holiday snacks?"
Mike, unsurprisingly, helped Richie with the snacks. They dumped the cereal, pretzels, peanuts, and M&Ms into a bag, added some melted white chocolate, shook it up, and poured it into a bowl. Not even Richie could manage to make it "fun and exciting".
Meanwhile, the rest of the Losers Club had gotten comfortable. Bev and Ben had taken one of the couches over, Eddie was wrapped in blankets on the other, and Bill and Georgie, were laying on the floor, and Stan was sitting in the corner formed by the couches. Richie plopped himself with the bowl of snack mix next to Eddie, Mike sat down with Georgie and some popcorn, and they started Home Alone.
Georgie and Richie could recite the entire film from memory. halfway through, while the burglars were following Kevin on the way home from the supermarket, Stan spoke up.
"How is this a Christmas movie?"
"It takes place at Christmas? They all are reunited at the end because of a Christmas miracle?" Ben said.
"That is true. However, the film centers on Kevin's attempts to ward off burglars, and the only parts when Christmas come into play is the exposition- the family's Christmas trip- and Catherine O'Hara's argument that she needs to get home because she needs to be with her son for Christmas. If the film took place over, say, Saint Patrick's Day, it would be virtually the same plotline."
"No, Stan, it's about the Holiday Spirit!" Eddie argued. "And it's set during Christmas! That's the whole point!"
"If that's your logic, Die Hard is a Christmas movie."
"Die Hard is a Christmas movie, though!" Bev yelled.
"I'm surrounded by idiots," Stan muttered in a pretty good impression of Scar from The Lion King.
The next film they chose was Bev's pick, and she decided on National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation- her and Richie's favorite. It was part of the way through the movie when Richie got up to grab more snacks, and then they heard a scream from the kitchen.
Eddie was up first and sprinted to the kitchen. "What is it? Are you okay? Should we call 911?"
Richie was silent, staring at his phone.
"Do you have some sort of life-threatening disease? Is it terminal?" Stan prodded.
Richie was silent.
"Is it good or bad news?" Bill asked, finally.
"It might be the best fucking news anybody has ever received in the history of the world," he finally declared.
"Just tell us!" Georgie exclaimed.
"I got chosen to headline for the winter comedy special. Holy shit, I mean, it was a long shot I'd even be featured, but it'll be my name on the posters and I get to pick entry music, guys! Like a real comedian! And I bet I'll be chosen to host or headline next year too, and this is huge for my career! Guys!" Richie's face was alight with excitement, and Bill felt a rush of excitement for his friend.
"When is it?" Ben asked. "We'll all have to come!"
"Umm," Richie checked the email, "the twenty-first. It starts at eight."
Bev went to check her calendar and then looked up with an absolutely heartbroken face. "Rich, I'm so sorry. Ben, Bill, Stan and I have plans."
"We do?" Bill asked because he didn't remember those plans at all.
"Yeah, Mike's friend's thing? The couples cookie-decorating class? He needed a certain amount of people to sign up for the university to sponsor it, and so you and Stan agreed to pretend to be a couple and come with us," Ben reminded him.
"Oh yeah! Richie, I'm sure we could cancel-"
"No, no! Go have fun! I mean, after this, there'll be lots of other big shows. Mike and Eddie will support me, right?"
"Actually, Rich," Mike started, "I have that interview that night. The one for the middle school job? I really wish I could go, but, well, this is a huge opportunity, and-"
"Go get that bread, Mike," Richie stated dismissively. "Seriously, Eddie will come and do his job as my unofficial co-manager, and y'all can come to my next show."
The Losers smiled appreciatively and returned to the movie. Georgie grabbed Richie's hand.
"If I lived here, I would come to see your show."
"I wouldn't let you, George, but thank you for the nice thought."
They finished National Lampoon's and decided to order from their favorite take-out place. It was Mediterranian food, which they all loved. so they snacked on tabouli and kebabs while Georgie told them about his robotics team back in Derry, and Richie emailed his comedy instructor back.
After lunch, they got back into movie positions to watch Eddie's choice of movie, which was White Christmas. Bill thought it was pretty good, considering, but Richie said it was terrible and sappy and lay his head in Eddie's lap while watching and sent Bev memes on Instagram. Eddie definitely did not relax into Richie's comforting weight and did not subtly shift around so he would be more comfortable.
Bill chose How The Grinch Stole Christmas as the sun started to get lower, and Stan was extremely confused (having never seen the film), so he sat close to Bill and asked questions like "wait why does he hate Christmas?" and "wait that's his heart? disgusting" and finally, "awww, he gave the first slice to his dog! I love him!" Bill just smiled. For the penultimate film of the evening, Stan got to choose, and he picked It's A Wonderful Life. He lay his head on Bill's shoulder, casually, and Georgie lay in Bill's lap, and Eddie snapped a photo.
Edward > billandstanandgeorgie2.png
Edward > just a dad whose son and husband fell asleep during the family movie night
William > I!! Hate!!! You!!!!
Edward > :)
The movie started out dark, with a guy contemplating suicide, and then got better. Stan sniffed at the appropriate parts, and Georgie and Eddie shed a tear or two as well. When the movie was over, it was dinnertime, and Mike endeavored to make a Denbrough Family Christmas Dinner- turkey and potatoes and green beans, and cider Bev bought at the store and microwaved. While he was cooking, Bill and Eddie re-made the beds and cleaned up the popcorn and Georgie listened to some of Richie's more child-friendly jokes and gave critique. Bill watched them with a fond smile.
After a while, Georgie wandered into the kitchen to help make dinner. Bill set the table and they all sat down, while Mike and Bev and Georgie carried plates into the dining room.
"It's almost as good as mom's," Georgie explained. "Mom's will always be the best, but yours is the second-best."
"Aww! Georgie!" Bev smiled, bumping his shoulder. "You helped us a bunch."
Once they had eaten their fill, Richie brought out some cookies and they turned on the Christmas episodes of The Office. They all had different favorites, so they just watched all of them. And once it was over, they realized Georgie had an early train ride, so they sadly went off to bed.
Laying in bed, Bill was dozing off when he heard Georgie speak. "I had a really good time, Billy."
"So did we, Georgie. You'll have to come back for spring break, maybe see one of Richie's shows."
"yeah! He told me his VeggieTales joke!"
"he's told us some variation of that joke at least twenty times," Bill muttered. the brothers chatted quietly for a while after that, and Stan would have eventually snapped "Let me sleep, guys" if it hadn't been the Denbrough brothers. he always had a weakness for the Denbrough brothers.
i personally hc that stan was the denbrough go-to babysitter when bill was busy (which was a lot) and he was at bill's house a lot anyways, so he was basically like georgie's other brother. he called bill and stanley "papa" when he was little and richie and eddie "uncle richie" and "uncle eddie" until he was like. six and stan would Kill and Die for georgie
On December 12, Ben woke up earlier than usual. They had to take Georgie to the train station.
Mike gave him a ziplock baggie full of snacks, Stan and Eddie worried that he had forgotten something, Richie and Bev joked around and were extra-affectionate, and Bill showed his sadness at his brother leaving by being quiet and waiting on a bench, watching them all fondly.
"You're going to miss him," Ben said, sitting next to him.
"yeah," Bill signed. "I am."
"You could go back to visit him in February," Ben suggested. "Do a road trip, maybe a few of us could come too. Stan can see his parents, maybe Richie would join you two."
"Yeah. That would be nice," Bill said. "I just... hate goodbyes, you know? I try to make them short and snappy. When we drove out here, to move to another state to live permanently, I didn't even see my parents the morning we left. I said my goodbyes the night before, wrote a letter and left it on the table."
"To be fair, we left at four o'clock in the morning after sneaking Eddie and Bev out of their houses," ben chuckled a little bit.
"Anyways," Bill stretched and yawned, "I'm going to start the process. Rescue Georgie from Richie's clutches."
Ben watched Bill awkwardly chat with Georgie for a second, and then when the train pulled up envelop hin in a tight hug. The brothers whispered for a moment, Bill turned pink, and then Georgie was on the train, waving from the window, and then the train pulled away and he was gone. Bill swiped his arm across his eyes and turned back towards the exit. The Losers followed, because of Unspoken Rule #3.
Unspoken Rule #3: If Eddie, Richie, or Mike is crying, ask what's wrong. If anyone else os crying, pretend it's not happening and talk about the weather.
"This weather is insane," Richie said not very casually. "I mean, look at all this snow!"
It had snowed a lot. They were all in boots and heavy jackets, and Bill made an effort to smile a bit.
"So, it's the first night of Hannukah," Stan said as they sat inside a little diner downtown. "I want to do some cooking, so is anyone free to go shopping with me?"
Richie wanted to work on his comedy for the show, and Eddie had a class. Bill had his art class, Mike had homework, but Bev and Bev were free. They told Stan as mich, and the three of them bid farewell to the rest of the club and set out for some good stores.
"Right, so my mom used to make a huge meal on the first night and we'd all get together with family then, and then the rest of the nights she'd just make one of my favorites, and we'd light the candle ane everything. I thought we could do a similar thing here, and I'll make the big Uris family dinner tonight and then spread the rest of the goodies out over the rest of the nights," Stan said as they strolled down the street.
"I'll help you cook tonight," ben volunteered.
"Ooh! Me too!" Bev added. "I know absolutely nothing about cooking, and so I want to pick some stuff up from you."
"Okay, sounds good!" Stan said happily as they entered the first store. "Now, Ben? Potatoes, some jam, and oil. Lots of oil. Beverly? Could you get some sour cream, and flour- if we don't have it- and then some general baking supplies that we're out of?"
"Clarification on 'general baking supplies', please?" Bev asked.
"Eggs, sugar, vanilla."
"I will get those things because I don't know if we have them or not!" she said cheerfully before saluting him and strolling down the aisles.
Ben found the potatoes, jam, and oil quickly and brought them to Stan, who was examining some chocolate coins in aisle two. Bev came staggering down the aisle too, arms full of food, and Ben grabbed the eggs before they could break. They paid for the food and dragged the grocery bags to the little family grocery store a block or so away.
"Stanley!" the man at the meat counter said with a small smile. "Come to get some food for Hannukah?"
"Yes, sir, Mr. Lifshitz," Stanley replied. "Just the brisket at the counter, and I'll probably pick up some matzo for the soup and stuff for kugel."
"The works!" Mr. Lifshitz (?) grinned as he wrapped up the meat.
"Yes, my friends here haven't gotten the Hannukah experience before," he indicated Beverly and ben, "so we're making a lot of food."
"Good, good. Enjoy!" the shopkeeper said as he anded the brisket to Bev.
Stan grabbed noodles, schmaltz, and matzo meal and then paid at the little register.
"Happy Hannukah, Uris!" the girl called after them as they all left.
"How do they all know you there?" ben asked as they walked to the subway.
"I do most of my share of the grocery shopping there," stan said simply. He had always been the type to accidentally make friends in strange places, which was part of the reason Ben loved to go places with him.
They carried the food all the way home from the subway and dumped it in the kitchen. Mike whistled.
"That's a lot of food," he cp=ommented.
"We've got a lot of food to make," Bev replied.
Stan set them all to jobs: Ben wad going to make latkes, Bev was going to help Mike (who volunteered to help them) start the brisket, and Stanley the vegetarian was going to handle kugel.
Ben peeled the potatoes and put the peelings in the trashcan. He grated them with Eddie looking over his shoulder to make sure he didn't grate his fingers too and then grated the onions. Per Stan's instructions, he added the eggs and flour and baking powder, formed them into patties, and heated up the oil. Next to him, Stan boiled the noodles and mixed the cottage cheese, sour cream, sugar, eggs, and eggs. He left out raisins. Richie in particular hated raisins.
Speaking of Richie, he was currently performing his rendition of Don't Stop Believin'.
"A smell'a wine and cheeeeeeeep perfuuuuuuuume!" he warbled to Bev, who giggled and tapped him on the nose, then shoved him into the oven.
"STREETLIGHTS! PEOPLE! OH OH OH! OHHHHHHHHHH!" Richie sang on, regardless.
Finally, the latkes were frying. Bill set the table, Eddie put the sour cream and applesauce in little dishes, Bev and Mike finished the brisket, and the kugel was almost done. They brought al the food to the table, and Stan sat at the head. Richie carried the chanukiah out with two candles, the shamash and the first night's candle, placed in it. He set it in front of Stanley.
"Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melech haolam, asher kid’shanu b’mitzvotav v’tsivanu l’hadlik ner shel Hanukkah," Stan key said once they were all seated. Ben saw Richie and Bill say the words too, having spent many a Hannukah with the Uris family over the years. Ben saw that they had all gotten a little dressed up; Richie and Bill had buttoned their Hawaiian shirt and flannel, Bev was wearing a skirt, Mike had the top button of his shirt buttoned and the sleeves rolled down. Stan had his favorite kippah on- the one with gold embroidery and black velvet.
"That means, Praised are you, our God, Ruler of the universe, who made us holy through your commandments and commanded us to kindle the Hannukah lights," Stanley said louder. "Um, there are three prayers. Baruch atah, Adonai Eloheinu, Melech haolam, she-asah nisim la’avoteinu bayamim hahem bazman hazeh."
"Wait, I think I remember!" Bill offered. "Er, praised are you our God- ruler of the universe- who... did wonderful deeds? For our people?"
"Who performed wondrous deeds for our ancestors in those ancient days at this season. Close, though," Stan smiled at Bill. "And finally. Baruch atah Adonai elohenu melech ha’olam, shehecheyanu, v’kiyimanu, v’higiyanu lazman hazeh. We only say that one on the first night, it means thank you for giving us life and making dure we lived to see another Hannukah."
"Funsies!" Richie said. "Who wants to light the first candle?"
"Let Stan do it," Mike said and everybody nodded in agreement. Stan lit the candle, and everybody clapped.
"The clapping's not necessary."
Richie inhaled the latkes and sour cream, Eddie and Bill declared the brisket was amazing, Beverly ate most of the kugel, and Ben and Stan toasted to the occasion. After dinner, Stan tried to teach them to play dreidel, but they were too distracted to learn, so they settled for turning on Hannukah music and cleaning up while eating chocolate coins.
Right when they were snuggled in their beds, going through the rituals of bedtime, Bev gasped.
"What is it, Bev?" Stan asked, shuffling into their room in slippers and coordinated silk pajamas.
"I made you this." Stan unwrapped the slightly messy wrapping paper to reveal a little box.
"Wow, Bev, I always wanted a box for Hannukah," he said with a wry smile.
"Open it," she giggled, and he did, revealing the bowtie she had made him. Bird-patterned.
"Did you make this?" he asked incredulously.
"Beverly Marsh!" he said, hugging her. "I love it. I'll wear it to synagogue this Saturday."
Bev grinned, and then they all exchanged "Goodnight"s and curled up in bed.
It had been a good day.
It was December 13 and Beverly Marsh was this close to snapping. Christmas gifts were harder than she had thought! First, keeping the person away from her was tricky because it wasn't like any of them to close themselves off. If she said "hey guys don't come in" they'd all think something was wrong and come in anyway to try and cheer her up. If she went somewhere else to work, she'd have to lug her sewing machine and her workbasket all over the city and it would be suspicious to carry all that stuff anyway. She couldn't even say "I'm working on presents" because both Richie and Mike had some sort of urge to know exactly what they were receiving for their birthdays and holidays.
So she had to get time in when she could: right now, it was midnight and she was frantically embroidering a bag for Ben with the skyline of New York. She was really tired, and she couldn't turn on a larger light- even though Ben could sleep through the apocalypse, Richie was usually up past 2 am and if he saw someone else having trouble sleeping he'd go hang out with them until they both got drowsy. Usually, it was pretty nice, and she had fallen asleep on the couch with Richie and Bill more than once, but tonight it was important that Richie "Secret-Teller" Tozier stayed out. She decided to work downstairs, so she could turn the light on, and besides, she hadn't heard Richie get up, so she would be fine. Creeping downstairs with her basket, she slipped into the living room only to hear "Bevvie, m'dear!"
She hadn't heard Richie come downstairs because he had never gone upstairs at all. he was curled in his chair, still in yesterday's clothes, scribbling furiously.
"Richie Tozier, did you even go to sleep?"
"Why the hell not? I would've thought Stan and Eddie would have forced you to!"
"They tried! Hyperfocus, however, is a rare phenomenon and must be taken advantage of. I've been at it for three hours since we finished dinner."
"Oh my god. Richie, I'm insisting you get some sleep. It's not that rare that this happens! Like, once a week you get like this!"
"But the thing with hyperfocus is that you need to just keep going until it breaks!" Richie whined.
"I'm breaking it. You could be here until dawn!" Bev insisted, abandoning her basket and trying to pry him from the chair. "What are you even writing?"
"Revising for my show and trying to write new material."
"Do it in the morning! We're on vacation!"
"Bev? Richie?" Dear god, it was Bill.
"Hello, Bill. I'm trying to get Richie to go to sleep, he's been out here for three hours writing."
"Yeah, man, get some rest."
"You're one to talk, Billiam!" Richie whisper-yelled. "You stay up until four a.m. some nights!"
"Four a.m.?" Bev asked, focusing on Bill.
"In my defense, it's not by choice," he defended. "Rich, get your ass in bed or I'll wake Eddie up."
"You wouldn't dare," Richie said, standing up.
"I would. I'd say, Eddie, Richie won't get a healthy amount of sleep so I had to wake you up from a good night's rest, disrupting REM, so you could-"
"I'll go!" Richie scrambled up the stairs. Bill sat down in the chair.
"Mind if I stay up with you? I ran out of melatonin pills, I'll have to get more tomorrow... or later today, I guess."
"Yeah, you can if you can not tell Ben what I'm making him for Christmas."
"I won't even ask," Bill said, reclining the chair and opening his laptop.
He lasted about two minutes before opening his mouth again.
"So I know you hate being a stereotype, but can we talk about boys?"
"Yeah, sure," Bev replied distractedly before it hit her. "Wait- boys?"
"Yep. I'm, um, bi. I only found out like a few days ago, though."
"is it a specific boy?" she asked, focusing on a chain stitch.
"yes, it is. It's Stanley Uris?"
"Yeah, I know him, Bill. We live together."
"shut up- do you think he likes me? or could like me? God, I feel so middle-school right now."
Beverly put down her sewing. "You're Bill Denbrough- of course, he likes you. I'm pretty sure everyone in this house has had a crush on you at some point."
"Not you, though, right?" Bill said slyly. Now it was Bev's turn to groan "shut up!"
In middle school, there had been a sticky situation with Bev, Ben, and Bill (and Stan, even though they didn't know it). Bill was a boy and Bev was a girl, and they had similar interests, and they liked the same things and wanted to spend time around one another. This had led to the obvious conclusion that they were, in fact, in love and that they should go on a date. Bill had asked Bev to a movie, she had snuck out of her house, and they had sat holding each other's slightly sweaty hand through Iron Man 3, and then kissed outside the theater in the near-darkness. It had been awful and they both doubled over in laughter after it, nearly spilling the leftover popcorn, and then gone and hung out in the clubhouse for a while. They never did more than hold hands again, and soon after, Bev had asked Ben to the school dance.
"Okay. Everyone but me," she amended. "Seriously, though, have you seen the way he looks at you? It's only a matter of time before he just flat-out kisses you."
"he's not going to kiss me. I don't even know if he likes boys!"
"Has he ever dated a girl?"
"patty Blum in high school," Bill muttered.
"The very same Patty Blum that came out as a lesbian two weeks later? And you know how much he loves Troye Sivan," she added.
"That means nothing," Bill said. "Besides, I feel weird talking about him like that. I'll just bury my feelings with fanfiction, and probably carbs, be in his wedding, get drunk at the wedding, you and Richie will sober me up, and I'll pour my feelings into my writing while being known for being a lifelong bachelor."
"That's... dramatic," Bev said with a smirk. "You could tell him how you feel, too. That's also an option."
"Ha. You're funny,' Bill said. "I like my plan better. Anyways, I'm going to change the subject: how're things going with ben?"
"As good as ever," Bev sighed. "I just don't know what to do about Christmas. I'm making him this bag, but I feel like he's my boyfriend! I should do something big!"
"You could take a little trip with him," Bill suggested. "Like I made you this bag and we're also going to Rhode Island for the weekend!"
"Rhode Island?" Bev said, starting to giggle.
"I don't know! It's the first state I thought of!"
The conversation switched around until four a.m., when Bill fell asleep and Bev decided she's done enough work and crept into bed, hiding the nearly-completed bag, and is woken up two hours later by Stanley's alarm and Mike calling "Med check! Richie Tozier, caffeine is not a substitution for twenty-five milligrams of Adderall!"
Ben shook her awake. "Hey."
"Hi..." she mumbled.
"Get a good night's rest?"
"Yep!" she lied and made her way out of bed. They went downstairs, where Bill was waking up in the armchair (he gave her a secret wink) and Mike was making eggs and toast and Stan was brewing tea and coffee. Bev took an extra-large mug of coffee and drained it.
"What are everyone's plans for the day?" Eddie asked once they were settled.
"I have art class," Bill said.
"Hanging out here," Bev said, while Ben said "Hanging out with Beverly."
"I'll probably work on an essay due after break, go to the library," Richie said as he inhaled breakfast.
"I've got my afternoon class, and I might go to the library as well," Stan said.
Ben and Bev ended up being left alone in the house. She swore she'd only lay down for a minute, but then Ben was shaking her awake and the house smelled like delicious and it was six p.m. Holy shit, when did it get to be six p.m.?
"You've been asleep for ten hours," ben said. "You looked too peaceful to wake up."
Stanley said the prayers, Mike lit a candle, and they had matzo-ball soup for dinner.
"Bill made it," Stan sais proudly. "He has a knack for it."
"That'll be applicable later in life," Richie commented and Eddie smacked him. Bill turned red and Bev gave him a knowing look.
They watch ed Prince of Egypt and Richie and Ben perform most of the songs. STan could nearly recite the film from memory. Bev and Eddie shared a popcorn bag, Stan and Bill shared a couch, Mike rewrote some notes by the light of his iPhone flashlight.
Bev falls asleep in Ben's bed, her face in his shoulder and their legs tangled together, planning a fun weekend vacation on her head. ben was, of course doing the same thing.
On December 14, Richie woke up feeling refreshed and ready to take on the day. He hopped out of bed, took an invigorating shower, and had enough time to make some avocado toast and a smoothie for breakfast before he headed out the door with Eddie and Stan to run some errands.
Just kidding! He was woken up by Eddie body-slamming him, and then he crammed cereal into his mouth, ran Beverly's brush through his hair, and was dragged out the door while Eddie and Stan ran through their list of things to do.
"We have to go to our bank," Stanley said as Eddie hailed a cab and Richie wished he had coffee.
"We have a bank?"
"The bank where we keep our money, dumbass," Eddie sighed as he hustled them into the cab. "Um, New Horizon Banking, please."
At the bank, Stanley politely discussed some money-related things while Richie broke a pen and Eddie whisper-yelled at him for breaking the pen. Then they stopped by Starbucks so they could get their caffeine fix.
"One iced coffee for Batman, please," Richie said politely. The barista rolled her eyes before writing it down and turning to make the coffee.
"Iced coffee. In December."
"I can't help it, Stanley! I'm gay!" Richie said.
"You're fucking bisexual and going to die of cold. Like, two minutes ago you were complaining about how cold you were!" Stanley argued as they moved over in the line.
"Iced coffee for... Batman..." the girl at the counter called and Richie took it, thankfully omitting his terrible Batman impression that he usually tried out at Starbucks.
"Next I need to get my hair cut," Eddie said as they left. "Richie, Stan, you guys can wait for me or get yours cut too."
"I guess I could get a trim," Stan mused as he ran a hand through his hair.
"I will too, I've been wanting to go a bit shorter," Richie added, taking a long sip of coffee.
They took the subway to the salon, and Eddie got his usual: every two weeks, the number three clipper on the sides and back and a little bit off the top. Stan had looked at pictures on the way there and showed the man who was cutting his hair a photo that, in Richie's humble opinion, looked exactly like his hair now, but the guy smiled and went to work.
When Richie sat in the chair and removed his glasses, he just said "I dunno? Make it short, I guess" and let the woman get to work. She tried to ask him a few questions like "what size clippers?" and "do you want to keep it long in front?" and "so, doing anything for the holidays?" he only shrugged and said, "I do not know or care."
Eddie came out of it looking the same way he had since freshman year. Stan looked subtly different, the curls on the sides were cropped closer, and Richie looked like Joey from that Liv and Maddie show.
"Oh boy," Eddie sighed as Richie moped his way back to the subway. "I mean, your hair is usually kind of curly! Where did the curl go?"
"I don't want to talk about it," Richie grumbled.
"Okay. we have to stop at the library and return Ben's books," Stan said. He did that while Richie and Eddie bickered, and then they headed home.
Richie immediately hopped in the shower, which restored some of the curl and wave to his hair, and then settled down to watch TV. he turned on The Office, one of his favorite episodes: Dinner Party.
While Michael and Jan were arguing in the living room of the condo (and Jim and Pam looked distinctly uncomfortable), Stan came out of the kitchen with Eddie, wearing the apron Bev had made him for his birthday.
"Richie, do you want to help us make sufganiyot?" Stan asked.
"Of-fucking-course!" Richie replied, pausing Netflix and hopping up. He slid into the kitchen in sock feet, crashing into Eddie and the counter full of ingredients. Eddie turned on his playlist and they got to work.
"Okay, I started this last night because it had to rise. Eddie, can you help me roll it out? It needs to be super-precise."
"I can be precise!" Richie said.
"Richie, you once tried to build a birdhouse and just gave up halfway through and put it in a tree with three nails in it."
"That was one time!"
"Here, you can assemble them while we heat the oil. Look at the recipe on my laptop," Stan offered.
Richie peered at the recipe. "Hey, this instruction says 'for the child'!"
"Relax, it was just the next thing we needed to do."
Richie cut out circles, filled them with jam, crimped them into little pockets and brushed egg whites over them with Eddie's help. Then they fried them and rolled them in sugar, and Stan placed then on top of the fridge where Richie couldn't reach them.
(Richie did reach them in Bev's stiletto heels and was banned from having one after dinner but that was okay- he stole two more when he as supposed to be in bed.)
It was December 15 and Stanley was dressed perfectly. Kippah? Suit? Bird-patterned bowtie that Beverly had made for him? Check, check, check. He had even put some of Bev's curl product in his hair because he rarely went to the synagogue, so he had to make it count when he did. He went down the stairs, feeling extremely professional and adult-like, and that's when he saw the rest of the Losers.
Ben and Mike were wearing their nice suits, ironed and washed, with ties. Eddie, Bill, and Richie were also in suits, although they looked a bit rumpled and out of place, and they were currently laying on the couch in positions that did not bode well for their well-put-together outfits: Bill was perched on the arm of the couch, Eddie was curled into a ball on one of the chairs, and Richie was sitting on the other end of the couch with his legs thrown above his head and over the arm. Bev was in a demure sort of dress, sitting sideways and crumpled up in the other chair, and Stan felt a rush of simultaneous love and vexation at them all.
"Um, what are you guys doing?" he asked, having a clue of what they were doing and hoping he was right.
Eddie looked at him like he had just asked if the sky was blue. "Going... to... synagogue? With you? For Hannukah?" he said.
"If that's okay!" Ben jumped in. "Because, like, none of us are Jewish, and I didn't want to assume that we could just come, but we also didn't want you to go alone!"
"I mean, it's not like we'll be having a party at the Temple Elohim, but at least we'll all be there together. And you know how much I love synagogue services in comparison to the First Church Of Derry's anti-homo scriptures," Eddie added.
"What they're trying to say is, if you don't want us to come or we can't we'll stay here. But if you want us to come, and we can, we're ready to go," Bev smiled gently.
"Of course you guys can come. I didn't want to put you all in the awkward position of asking if you want to accompany me to an extra-long night of services for a religion none of you belong to," Stan explained. "But as it is, we don't want to be late!"
He directed them towards the subway, and they found seats. Even though there was a good amount of space for all of them, Eddie had to sit on Richie's lap and Ben had to hold Beverly as he grabbed onto a handrail and Bill was legally obligated to hold Stan's hand to avoid falling because he "couldn't find a seat quick enough".
"Okay, I probably should have asked this before I agreed to this whole thing," Richie started while Eddie re-tied his tie for him, "but what exactly are we going to?"
"Okay, so there aren't really special Hannukah Services because it's a minor holiday, but I'm going because it's a holiday and I always go on holidays. We're dressed nicely because this is an Orthodox synagogue, and all of the guys have to wear a kippah. I have my tallit with me because I've been bar mitzvahed. Um, we're getting there right on time, but we'll be there for like two or three hours, so gear up for that," Stan explained. "They'll read from the Torah, and the rabbi and Cantor will lead us in prayers. Um, that's about it."
"Okay! I'm looking forward to it!" Mike said. "Will they have kippahs for us?"
"Probably," Stan said.
As they walked into the temple, Bill did not let go of Stanley's hand and Stan did not complain. They were greeted as they stepped into the building by an usher. who handed them prayer books.
"Hannukah Sameach," Stanley said, and the Losers muttered something along the lines of "Shabbat shalom" and "Hannukah sameach" and "happy Hannukah" behind him. Bev and Ben were arm-in-arm, Bill was still loosely holding Stan's hand, Richie and Eddie were pretending to be functional, and Mike looked surprisingly in place there. Of course, Mike could be put on a desert island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean and manage to look like it was where he had belonged his entire life. The boys picked out kippahs from a basket, and they milled around for a bit (read: followed Stan and Bev like lost ducklings) before it started. Bev was making polite conversation while Ben beamed beside her, looking like a happy newlywed couple and Stan stood with them, chatting about the holidays and the weather.
"I don't think we've seen you around here before!" a man with three daughters said politely. The oldest girl was chatting with a friend, and the two younger ones were running around and rumpling their skirts. "I'm Roger."
"Stanley," Stan said. "This is Benjamin and Beverly, my friends. We moved here last year from Maine, and I don't have a lot of time to get to synagogue. Early Saturday classes."
"Oh, what are you studying?" Roger asked.
"Finance. Benjamin is studying architecture, and Beverly is going into fashion design. Our roommate Eddie is on a pre-med track which is going to get tough pretty soon."
"Oh! I'm a doctor! It's worth it in the end," he said. Just then, the ushers reminded everybody that services were going to start soon, so the Losers found seats near the back.
"Richie? Did you make some friends?" Bev asked, sounding like a mom.
"No, Beverly, I did not make any friends, because we are at a synagogue and I'm a socially awkward agnostic."
The service started with the prayers from the Torah, which Stanley had memorized. He noticed that Bill and Richie knew some of it too, but Eddie had never been allowed to go with him to the synagogue. He, along with Mike, Bev, and Ben, read the English translation. They also read the story of the dedication of the Mishkan in the desert, which Stan had heard over twenty times in his lifetime and he could recite in his sleep. Literally. He had once sleep-talked and his mother had picked out the words “They shall offer their offerings, one chief each day, for the dedication of the altar.” (Stan was pretty sure she was lying.)
Then there was the Haftorah and the D'var Torah, which Mr. Uris had let Stanley read sometimes back in Derry. And of course, the never-ending sitting and standing and bowing, which Stanley used to count as exercise on his P.E. logs in middle school. They did all the special Torah readings for the holiday, and the usual prayers and Stanley came out of it feeling the same way he always did after a good, long service: calmer, lighter, a little less everything .
He did count it as a success: Richie did get squirrelly but he resorted to a few stims that didn't disturb anyone- rocking and bouncing his knee instead of flapping his hands at high speed and singing Queen's Somebody To Love at the top of his voice- and Eddie had been perfectly polite, even a bit enchanted with it all, and Ben had gotten distracted by the high stained-glass walls with images of the Israelites in the desert and Moses on the mountain within a few minutes of entering and spent a good deal of time looking like he was itching to sketch it all out. Stanley made a mental note to bring him back on a day when it was less crowded- Bill too, even back in the temple in Derry he had loved to draw Stanley's father up there in his hand-embroidered tallit, Mrs. Uris opening the Ark, even Stanley himself reading the D'var Torah. Mike, as always, enjoyed himself and made about five new friends in the form of Roger's younger daughters and their friends. And Beverly was all over the tallits and kippahs, and Stan saw her googling "can i embroider a yarmulke" on the way to lunch.
Lunch was picking up sandwiches and eating them on the subway home, getting lettuce and tomato and dressing on their nice clothes, and Beverly told Richie she wasn't doing his laundry this time and he could iron his pants, too, no matter how many first-degree burns he got in the process. Bill had been inching his hand closer to Stanley's on the ride home and their pinkies were touching on the disgusting germy rail, and Eddie was kicking Richie in the Shins, and Ben and Bev were looking at memes together and giggling, and Mike had his earbuds in and was gazing into the distance thoughtfully and they looked ridiculous. Seven almost-adults, on the subway in the afternoon, eating sandwiches and making a mess, disturbing the peace and acting immature.
Stan really couldn't have been happier.
The best news came when they got home and Ben opened the fridge to get something to drink. He opened it, blinked, closed it again, and then whooped.
"BILL!" Stan heard him holler from his seat in the living room, "IS THIS REAL?"
"WHAT?" Bill yelled back from upstairs.
"THIS THING ON THE FRIDGE-"
"Oh my god, just come downstairs, Bill!" Eddie complained.
Bill ran downstairs in his nice pants and no shirt or shoes. "What, Ben?"
"This art show thing on the fridge? December 28, with the university's art program?"
"Oh. Yeah. That," Bill said, but Stan had come into the room and could see that he was grinning. "Um, not really a big deal. All the art classes pick one piece to feature in this big art show, and one of my works gor chosen, so I egt to to and meet the other professors and it's all formal and stuff."
"Bill! That's huge!" Stan said and crushed Bill in a hug. He was cold and kind of bony, and he wasn't hugging back, so it was getting uncomfortable. Stan released him.
"We'll all have to go," Ben decided. "What piece was it?"
"My professor won't tell me! He wants it to be a surprise," Bill said. "I hope it's a good one."
"All of your artwork is good," Stan said and Bill shifted from one foot to the other.
So yes, it was a good day.
me planning this fic: yeah and on THIS day the losers will go to synagogue! with stanley! oh boy!
me now, realizing i know nothing about how jewish synagogue services work:
(but seriously if i got anything wrong please tell me!)
there will be no update tomorrow, but there will be 2 chapters on thursday!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Ben was showing Bill the new library model he had finished in his last architecture class before the break- yeah! he was on break now!- when Richie and Bev busted down the door with arms full of bags.
"MOTHER-" Bev started.
"FUCKING-" Richie yelled.
"CHRISTMAS COOKIES," they finished in unison, grinning and trying to high-five each other. Ben was almost positive they had both planned it.
God, he loved them.
Eddie was peering over the top of his laptop screen. "What in the actual hell have you gone and done? Stan and I asked for bananas! To make banana bread! Not-" Richie placed a finger over Eddie's lips.
"Shh, Eddie, my love. All will be revealed once Stanley gets his BUTT DOWN HERE! THIS INSTANT , YOUNG MAN!" Richie shrieked, sounding a lot like the mom in Home Alone.
Stanley marched down the stairs in his neatly ironed shirt and tight belt and khaki pants, looking like he was going to help Richie draft his will instead of just spend a lazy day around the house.
" What do you want , Richie, I'm trying to finish up my New Year's Resolution and get to the end of my forty-ninth pleasure book, and you're screeching like a goddamned banshee."
"We're making Christmas cookies as a group, Stan, and it's mandatory."
"Cool. I'm fucking Jewish, and right in the middle of The Goldfinch, which a book about gays and birds- two of my favorite literary topics- and I'd really like to get back to it-"
"We got Hannukah cookie cutters too!" Bev jumps in, waving a pack of cookie cutters shaped like dreidels and Stars of David and hannukiahs.
"Please, Stan?" Bill asked, having straightened up from looking at Ben's model. "It'll be fun, and it's not as fun doing things with just six of us."
Ben watched in amusement as a blush slowly stained Stan's face and he finally sighed, setting his book on the table. "Fine. Let me change, though."
"So," Ben said, hopping up while Stanley went upstairs to get ready, "What do we have here?"
"Okay!" Bev said, clearly excited. "We have flour and butter and eggs and vanilla, and margarine and baking powder because according to Stan you can never substitute in baking. And then we have what Richie calls the 'fun exciting shit', which is all the icings and decorations!"
"Yeah okay so we have peppermint drops! Sprinkles! Icing in lots of funky colors!" Richie narrated as he unpacked the bags, doing his '60s car salesman voice. "We've got cookie cutters shaped like sweaters so we can make ugly Christmas sweater cookies! We've got the deluxe Hannukah cookie pack! We've got those edible pearls, we've got-"
"Okay! Got it," Ben said, laughing. Stan had come into the kitchen at this point in his "casual outfit", which consisted of an old polo shirt and jeans. Bill was sitting on the counter in his flannel, examining the sprinkles, and Eddie and Mike were already setting up the mixing station.
"So, I'm going to leave it to Mike and Eddie to make the cookie dough, and we can all roll it out in a few minutes," Bev said, having apparently taken charge of the entire situation.
"What can the rest of us doooooooooooooooo," Richie whined. "I'm going to get bored just standing here while Edward Spaghedward and Michael... Bicheal meticulously measure out exactly sixteen and one-eighths teaspoons of salt or whateverthefuck."
"Sixteen and one-eighths teaspoon? Rich, that's the most ridiculous measurement that you could have pulled out of your ass- DON"T YOU DARE MAKE A JOKE ABOUT THAT-"
"Hey, Richie!" Ben said in an attempt to diffuse the tension. "Let's go watch Netflix until the cookies are done!"
"Fine," Richie said, but he was beaming.
Ben selected one of their collective favorite Office episodes: Dinner Party. Richie recited the whole thing practically from memory and Bev joined in to duet from the dining room, where she was setting up the decorating stations.
"That one night!"
"You made everything all righttttttttt!"
"Ooh-ooh-ooh!" Ben added and they all laughed.
The cookies took eight minutes to bake, which was enough time to hurriedly tidy the kitchen and wash their hands and then begin.
Ben snagged one of the sweater cookies and started to pipe red frosting onto it. He had a vision, and it was going to come through, and he was going to win this nonexistent competition or have fun trying. Bev helped him flood the icing and let it harden, and then he did black frosting to make it look like a string of lights complete with little pearls for lights. Heck yeah.
Bev's sweater was the most intricate. She had reading glasses on! She didn't even wear reading glasses! There was a lot of crouching and looking at the cookie from another angle, and a lot of switching to a smaller piping tip. Once she finished- a masterpiece of patterns and piped lace- she declared that it was the greatest thing she would ever create and ate it in two bites.
Mike did a Santa hat one, with the usual red hat and white brim with sprinkles and a buttercream puff on the top. He had made a lot of Santa hats, actually, and Ben asked if he could help him make more, and they decided to make as many as possible and give them to some of the neighbors (they had never met any of their neighbors despite living at the house for two years). Richie and Eddie thoroughly disapproved of this plan: "What if they try to come and talk to us, Haystack?" "Beep beep, we're being nice."
Stanley did a simple Star of David and then a Santa hat, and then Bev helped him do an extremely detailed Hannukiah that went in the very center of the plate.
Richie and Eddie's were, without a doubt, hot messes of cookies. Like, half an inch of icing and every decoration known to man. Richie managed to eat two of them in a minute and then ask Mike if they can order pizza.
"Richie, are you kidding me," Mike sighs as he picks up the phone. Mistake!
"Cheesecheesecheese" Bev and Richie chanted while Bill shouted "Get sausage and pepperoni on half!" and Stan calls "Just olives for me, I need to change," and Ben tried to calm them all down by yelling "Shut up! All of you!" and then Mike plugged his other ear, glared at them all, and said "I am so sorry! One moment!" with a look that could have probably decimated Richie and Eddie (who was currently trying to physically wrestle Richie to the ground) on the spot.
Mike headed up the stairs and Ben heard him say one medium cheese and one small pepperoni-sausage and one medium veggie pizza and the address and thank you! See you then!
"You fucking heathens," he sighed as he tossed his phone down the stairs and onto the couch. "I think I'll shower now, pizza'll be here in like twenty minutes? If it gets here before I get out, Ben's in charge." Then he headed upstairs.
Bill headed into the kitchen to finish cleaning with Eddie, and Richie and Bev settled in to watch Tik Tok compilations on Richie's phone, and Mike's phone started buzzing.
They ignored it.
It buzzed again. Ben looked over the top of his copy of The Hobbit and they kept ignoring it.
It buzzed again and Ben looked over the top of his copy of The Hobbit and said "look, just answer it. It's probably a telemarketer."
Bev confirmed that it was some random number from Brooklyn, and then she said "Haha, watch me wreck this loser," and picked up the phone. She put it on speaker and in her best impression of Kermit the Frog (which wasn't great but still better than Richie's) she said "Hello? Who the fuck is this?"
"This... is... your pizza delivery man..." came a very confused voice from the other end. "Is... is this Michael Hanlon?"
Bev hung up so quickly.
Ben and Richie were laughing in gasps and wheezes, and Bill and Eddie called from the kitchen to see what was wrong. Richie was, like, on the floor, shaking with silent laughter, and Bev had honest-to-god tears in her eyes and a bright red tint to her face.
"Uh, is this not Michael Hanlon?" Richie said in his best impression of the dude and that set them off again. Ben calmed down first.
"Let me call him back," he said pointedly and redialed the number.
"Um, yes, this is... Michael. I'm so sorry about my younger sister," he said in what he thought was a good Mike Impression. "ANyways, is there an issue?"
The address was wrong, that was all, and once Bill went out to get the pizza and paid they were all calm again.
"Never tell the others about that, though," Bev whispered. "I would never live it down."
They ate on the floor after lighting another candle- Eddie's turn- and saying the prayers, and then they polished off most of the cookies and then Richie complained of a stomachache and had to take a TUMS. Mike gave Stan his present- all the Losers had given Stan a present on one of the nights so far, Bev's bowtie and Ben's jigsaw puzzle and Eddie's lightweight jacket- and Stanley was so excited he almost started to read the nook right there on the living-room floor.
And then when Bev curled up next to Ben in his bed without a second thought, and they chatted quietly about a book they had both read, and Ben drifted off to sleep with her hair kind of covering his mouth, he decided that December 16 had been a pretty excellent day.
bev and ben: buy bunk beds
also bev and ben: just sleep in the same bed every single night because they're Married
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA I'M SO SORRY! I'M SO BEHIND ON THIS!
but the rest of the missing chapters will be uploaded by tomorrow. i'm going on a 5 hour flight, and plan to write the whole time, enjoy!!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
It was snowing, tea was brewing, music was playing softly, Richie and Mike were out at the library, and Stan was curled up in his favorite chair reading The Goldfinch, and he was almost done, and life was pretty darn perfect.
That was what he was trying to tell himself as a nagging feeling gnawed away at him that something was missing.
Laundry? Done. Grocery shopping? Done. Gifts? Done, not wrapped, Mike had promised to pick up wrapping paper. Books read this year? Forty-nine out of fifty and the fiftieth on deck.
He was rereading the same page over and over and over again, running a checklist in his mind, and then it hit him. He hadn't gone on his weekly lunch not-date with Bill, because their classes were both off- except Creative Writing. Bill had Creative Writing today, and his class ended at noon, and Stan could run and meet him!
Yeah, they mostly met for lunch on Wednesday, but he could surprise Bill! He could shoe up, wait outside the classroom, they could go and get lunch and celebrate everybody's classes being over for two weeks, and have a good time- Bev. He had promised to take Bev to the fabric store today, again, because she had found a pattern for a new skirt and she wanted to make it for New Year's Eve.
Well, if he wanted to make it at noon, he had to start quickly. So Stan dashed up the stairs, stopped short in Bev's doorway.
"Beverly?" he started, in a wheedling sort of tone.
"Yeah? Ready to go?" she asked, looking up. Her hair was all pretty and curly, and she looked so excited- nope! No! Bill!
"Beverly Marsh, would you be opposed to going at a later time? Around two p.m.?" he said, trying to sound like he was so dreadfully sorry about this, and he would really miss it, and the whole time he was looking into Bill's hazel eyes he would be wracked with guilt.
"No? Remember? I have a doctor's appointment at three across town? We'd never make it in time, and I can't just spend fifteen minutes in a fabric shop."
"What if, change of plans, we left right now? And I dropped you off?" he amended quickly because it was eleven thirty-seven and it would take a while to get to the store and then back to Bill's class.
"Give me five minutes?" she asked because Stan could see she was covered in fabric scraps and glitter and thread. And while Stan, out of all of them, usually appreciated the importance of looking presentable in public, he really didn't have time for this right now.
"No! I mean, you’re going to a fabric store! Nobody will even notice!" he said enthusiastically. Bev looked at him like he had straightened his hair and dyed it green.
"Yeah, okay, I'm changing my skirt? I guess I'll meet you downstairs in two."
Stan checked his watch a dozen times, changed his shoes twice, and finally pulled on his peacoat as Bev walked down the stairs lint-rolling her turtleneck.
"Whaddaya think?" she said, twirling around to show off the red skirt she had apparently just sewn.
"Fantastic, amazing, gorgeous, never seen any woman look more radiant," he replied, pulling her out of the door.
As they sat in the pickup, Bev fiddled with the strap of her purse and Stran white-knuckled the wheel.
"Okay, what's up?" she finally asked, turning Vampire Weekend down. "Why're you soooo anxious to get out of the house?"
Stan sat in silence. "Fine! I wanted to get lunch with Bill, and his class ends in like thirteen minutes, and I had this whole plan where I would be leaning on the wall outside the door, and I'm wearing a nice sweater today, and it's dumb but I wanted to do it and be all impressive!" His voice softened. "You know?"
Bev blinked and then unbuckled. "It's a red light. I'll drive, and drop you off, and you and Billy-boy can take a taxi or walk wherever you want to go. I'll drive myself to the doctor's."
"Beverly Marsh, you're a saint," Stan said as he crawled over the console. "How can I repay you?"
"Hmm. Um, bring me back something from your date, and be my mannequin for this badass box-pleated skirt I'm about to make. We have similar body types."
"So... Bill?" Bev said, glancing at Stan in the rearview mirror.
"It's nothing. Okay, it's nothing, it's six years of yearning, and I will fill you in later, and I will bring you a nice dessert or something, and be eternally in your debt."
"Works for me," Bev grinned.
They pulled up to the building at noon, and Stan had to sprint in and find the classroom. He really worried that he'd run into Bill while he was running, or that Bill would be leaving as he ran up, but huzzah for droning college professors! AT 12:03, the class was still in session and Stan had enough time to put in earbuds and find a cool song (Movement by Hozier) and lean against the wall and wait for the door to open, which it did in no time.
And there was Bill: auburn hair flopping into his eyes, and his flannel waving behind him like a cape, and his hazel eyes sparkling as he laughed at a joke made by some girl- wait a goddamn minute.
Yeah, Bill was laughing at a girl walking next to him wearing jeans and a blouse with her hair braided out of the way. She was gesturing a lot with her hands, and he was grinning, and then they both spotted Stanley. He was suddenly feeling like a pretentious nerd in his sweater and slacks, and he was wearing oxford shoes! LIke some fifty-year-old professor of literature stuck in the body of a nineteen-year-old! ANd Bill was looking like some sort of flannel model, and this girl was probably going on a lunch date with him right after this and-
"Stan!" Bill yelled! "Hey, what are you doing here?"
"Um," Stan hedged, because both Bill and Attractive Girl were looking at him and they were both smiling in a very nice and disarming way, "I thought we could do lunch! Celebrate the end of classes?"
"Well, I was heading to lunch at Giovani with Audra here for the same reason." Stan's heart sank, hit his feet, and was crushed beneath his dumb oxfords. "Her girlfriend Patty is waiting for her, and I'm third-wheeling!"
"You can fourth-wheel, if you like," Audra said (and now that Stan looked at her, she was a very pretty girl who looked like she'd be excellent lunch company). "You probably gathered that I'm Audra. Bill's the only cool dude in this class and my scriptwriting class."
"I'm Stanley Uris," he replied, shaking her hand. "Bill's... roommate. He's the only cool dude in our house."
"He says roommate like we haven't been best friends since we were three."
They all three strolled out into the snow, automatically pulling scarves and collars up.
"So, Audra, what's your major?" Stan asked.
"Acting!" she replied, going off on a tangent about the history of theater and her application to study abroad in London, and Bill jumped in with the occasional "yeah I read it, it was amazing!" or “it was literally iconic. Seriously.”
They were half-frozen by the time the arrived at the restaurant. The girlfriend (Patty?) was sitting near the back, scrolling her phone. Audra put a finger to her lips, crept up, and blew very heard in Patty’s ear.
“EEEAHH!” she shrieked. “Audra Phillips!”
Bill slid in across from the girls. “Hi, Patty. Bill Denbrough, Audra’s friend from class.”
“Bill! I’ve heard stories of you!” Patty enthused. “And this is?”
“Stanley Uris. I met Audra five minutes ago.” Stan leaned over the table to shake her hand.
“Well, I’m Patty Blum. I feel like I’ve met you before…”
“JSA?” That was the Jewish Student Alliance at their school.
“Yes! Mister Secretary!” Patty grinned. “I’ll vote for your reelection if you vote me for treasurer.”
Patty and Audra were excellent lunch company, as expected. Stan wished, of course, that it was just him and Bill, sitting across from each other, intertwined at the ankles (Bill sometimes did this thing where he wrapped his ankle around Stan’s under the table. It was almost an unconscious movement, and he’d done it since they were kids, and it was adorable.), chatting about books and movies and music and birds and Richie and Eddie and everything that fell in between.
“Stan, what are you majoring in?” Audra asked after she and Bill had finished laughing over a story involving their scriptwriting professor, and a laptop mishap, and some photos on the screen.
“Accounting. Although I very much enjoy literature and would have liked to become a professor someday, finance and accounting is a more stable career path.” Dammit, he was doing it again. Slipping into his talking to adults and authority voice, and sitting upright in a posture that probably looked too formal. He tried slumping a bit, but then he felt like he should be living in the bowels of Notre-Dame Cathedral, so he straightened again.
“Oh, really? I’m in business,” Patty said as she sipped her soup. “Kind of the same thing.”
Not really, Stan wanted to say, but he had to be polite. “Yeah, I guess.”
Bill then introduced the topic of Arrested Development, which was a show that he watched with Stan. That was their show. And yeah, Richie watched it, but Richie watched anything under the Netflix Comedy tab. Bill and Stan watched it, analyzed it, quoted it, and most of the GIFS they used were from the show.
“I really like that one. GOB is hilarious,” Audra said. Stan felt his insides curl up.
“Um, Patty, what kind of shows do you like?” he asked quickly.
“I gotta say, Schitt’s Creek is pretty awesome.”
“Our roommate Richie loves that show.”
The waitress came by and Stan flagged her down.
“Yeah, could I get a cannoli to go?”
“You gonna get dessert and not share?” Bill teased.
“It’s for Beverly. Our roommate,” he added for the girls’ benefit.
“Oh! How many people do you live with, Bill?” Audra asked.
“Well, there’s Stan, Beverly, Ben, Eddie, Richie, and Mike. There’s seven of us.”
“Oh god. I mean, me and Audra have a little apartment and we still fight every once in a while. Seven,” Patty mused.
“Anyways, I have to get going. It was very nice to meet you.” Stan paid his part of the check at the counter, grabbed his cannoli, and walked out of the restaurant, BIll staring behind him.
As Stan walked to the subway, he heard running steps come up next to him.
“Stan! You okay?” It was Bill, slightly red in the face, no jacket because he was too damn stubborn to wear one, looking concerned.
“Yeah.” Stan really wasn’t in the mood for a whole conversation about yeah-I’m-gay-and-in-love-with-you-and-jealous-of-a-lesbian-with-a-girlfriend, so he just walked on.
“Just promised Bev I’d help her when she got home.”
“She won't be home for like a half-hour. At least.”
“I like to be early.” He was making up excuses, he was seeming rude, and Bill was probably about to-
“Wanna do something? Together? I know you were kind of blindsided by the whole Audra and Patty thing, and it wasn’t great of me to spring that on you when you need more notice with these kinds of things, and I wasn’t thinking.”
“No! No, no I wasn’t mad at you or anything like that! I just didn’t know how to interact with a person that wasn’t one of the club and I was worried I had busted up your nice platonic lunch date!”
“But you were only trying to go on a nice platonic lunch date with me! It’s fine! Let’s go to an antique shop and look at cool things and grab coffee!”
They were yelling now, Stan holding a cannoli with his peacoat whipping in the wind and getting his curls mussed, Bill in a t-shirt and thin flannel and shivering just barely and his hair in his eyes- he needed a haircut, Bev would do it- and Stan felt his chest warm up.
They strolled together, talking more freely than they had at the restaurant, this time about Bill’s class and the way his teacher had praised his short story.
Bill led Stan to a little antique store a few blocks away. Stan beelined for the art section (and Bill fondly smiled behind him, but he couldn’t see that), and spent a good five minutes looking up some obscure artist on Google. He ended up getting a little painting of the ocean in an old wooden frame and met Bill at the front. Bill was holding a stack of old-timey trashy romance novels with crumbling covers and yellowed pages. Stan raised his eyebrows.
“For research on older authors and themes of the time…” Bill explained.
“Mm-hmm. I’ll pay.”
Then they went to Starbucks, which they both hated and vowed never to go to because it was overpriced and hipster, and they got grande peppermint lattes and a croissant each because Richie wasn’t there to tease them.
And Bev listened to Stan talk about Bill’s hazel eyes and auburn hair and the way he could even make a grocery list sound like fine literature, and how his eyes had lit up when he saw Stan outside the classroom, and how he used to visit Stan on the High Holidays or when he was sick and tell him everything that had happened at school, she stuck him full of pins and needles until she had a badass silvery skirt that actually matched his sweater pretty well. She made him model it in the dining room, and Ben played runway music on his phone, and Bill applauded enthusiastically.
stan really thinks that he and bill are the ONLY people on earth that like arrested development because it's THEIR SHOW.
bev said gay rights but she's also getting really tired of almost all of her roommates pining for each other
Richie and Bill were, in general, not the most worried or anxious of the group. Bill tended to go quiet in tough situations and get things done while everyone else handled it the way they needed to handle it; Richie did the opposite and talked and made jokes in an attempt to distract everyone from the issue. And yet, here they were, at their third store, empty-handed.
Bill and Richie had not gotten gifts for Eddie and Stan yet. It needed to be special, thoughtful, it needed to say If you’re down to date let’s do it but if not I don’t have romantic feelings for you.
Surprisingly, this was a hard criteria to fill.
Richie’s thoughts were practical but still sentimental. He was drawing all of his inspairation from Jim and Pam, Ben and Leslie, and David and Patrick (he liked comedy, okay? Sue him!) and had done extensive research on all of these couples (binge-watched The Office, Parks and Rec, and Schitt’s Creek over the last month) and the gifts they got each other. Pam gave Jim a personalized comic (he couldn’t draw) and Ben gave Leslie a pin for her city council campaign (Eddie wasn’t in the running for any political office as far as Richie knew) and Patrick gave David an engagement ring (Richie had actually briefly considered a ring, and then Bill brought him down to earth).
“Use your special talents to make something only you could,” Bill suggested.
“What, my comedy? I already have, like, a half-hour of material about him.”
“Do you have any other talents?”
Bill, for his part, wanted to do something for Stan that nobody else could do. If he was Beverly, he would make Stan something cool to wear. If he was Ben, he would 3D-print something amazing for him, if he was Eddie he would put together a bag of trail hiking supplies (Stan was an avid hiker in the summertime), if he was Richie he would… well… Richie did gag gifts and funny things (he had gotten Stan a sweater that sid IT’S LIT on the front with a hannukiah) that made people smile. And Mike was amazing at gift-giving, he had found an amazing book for Stan that he had finished quickly and planned to re-read many times.
“What would Eddie get for himself? Like, if you gave him the money you plan to spend on him, what would he buy?” Bill asked
“Probably put it in his college fund, the responsible bastard,” Richie snorted over his soup (they were on a lunch break). He put on his Exaggerated Richie voice. “Oh, Eddie, here’s a bank statement that says there’s like forty more dollars in your account. No,” he said, switching back to his normal Richie voice. “Gotta be something else. What about you? Any ideas for Stan?”
“Nope. Tried following my own advice, but he’d buy more books. Maybe Premium Grammarly, so he’d stop having to use mine.”
“Get him a gift of something he can do, but subtly something you can do together.”
“Ok! Ok, it’s hard to explain, but get him something he can do and then slyly hint that you guys can do it together. Just the two of you. Um, remember in Derry they had that fundraiser and all the moms donated baskets? And my mom made us all help her put together the ‘Date Night’ basket? With, like, movie gift cards and popcorn and wine?”
“I’m not getting Stan a platonic Date Night basket.”
“Get him something else, then. A fake I.D. and gift cards to breweries in the city.”
“Nope, no, next idea.”
“Okay. Concert tickets.”
“That’s an idea, but concert tickets in New York are expensive.”
“Hiking basket! Like a hat and a new bird book and stuff.”
“That’s… a very good idea! Yeah!”
“Okay! And Eddie-wise, have you put any more thought towards it?”
“Bill, I’ve been using my one braincell to think about the Stan thing! I’ll use it for the Eddie thing while we go to the outdoor store.”
Unsurprisingly, a slightly depressed aspiring author and a bisexual aspiring stand-up comedian had never stepped foot in a sports and outdoor store. They had to pull up Google Maps to find the closest one, and hail a taxi, and then wander aound for a while until a loud and friendly employee named Carl came up to help them.
“WHAT’RE YOU LOOKING FOR?” he asked, attracting the attention of the entire store.
“Um, some hiking supplies,” Bill said at a normal volume, trying to set a good example.
“SO THE HIKING AND CAMPING SECTION IS OVER HERE,” Carl said.
“Thank you. I think that’ll be all,” Bill smiled, trying to say Please leave us alone without actually saying it.
“ALL RIGHT. IF YOU NEED ANYTHING FEEL FREE TO ASK ME.”
“We won’t have any trouble finding you,” Richie muttered.
“Okay!” Bill said as he surveyed the supplies. “I’m going for a kind of chill, relaxing, looking at birds alone in the woods with me, maybe.”
“He won’t be alone if he’s with you,” Richie pointed out, fiddling with an expensive-looking pocketknife.
“Put that down and help me look,” Bill said.
They ended up picking out a compass that could easily fit in a pocket (or even wallet), a headlamp (for hiking at hight to see owls and stuff or for grabbing snacks in the middle of the night), UV-protective sunscreen, a little first-aid kit, a repair kit for his knife, some waterproof matches, an emergency bivy, and a cool steel water bottle.
“He’ll be a VSCO girl,” RIchie snickered as they paid.
That night, Bill dropped by Stan’s room to give him the gift while Richie and Eddie were arguing over the shower schedule.
“I, um, I got you something. It’s not wrapped very well, but,” he produced the individually wrapped gifts.
Stanley carefully unwrapped each of them, getting so adorably excited over each one that Bill couldn’t help but feel that the day was a success.
carl is a reference to my favorite episode of parks and rec (parks safety) and he's played by andy samberg in the episode!
Mike was getting kind of annoyed. Stan was lazily reading on the couch, Bill was lazily scrolling Buzzfeed, Bev was lazily watching The Office with Richie and Eddie, and Ben was lazily looking at memes. It was, in short, boring and ridiculous.
“We’re going to do something today!” he announced, sliding into the living room on his fuzzy socks.
“No offense, but you sound like your grandpa when he found us lazing around in the barn,” Bev said, raising her head up from Eddie’s lap.
“First of all, I do not , and second of all, we’re on break. We are going to take a day trip to Jersey City.”
“Why Jersey City?” Ben asked.
In truth, Mike had just pulled that trip location out of thin air. “I’ve heard that it’s lovely this time of year. And there’s lots to do. This is non-negotiable.”
“Fine, dad,” Eddie said with a scrunch of his nose. “Let’s get ready, I guess. We’re taking the car?”
A half-hour later, the Losers were ready to go, dressed in variations of jeans and flannel and converse and hoodies.
“Okay. We each get to choose one location to go to, so do your research in the car. We begin at Liberty State Park. Bill? Marching orders?” Mike asked, because back in the middle-school days of the Losers Club Bill had always been the one to give them their “marching orders” and jobs for the day (even though most of the time he was just making it up as he went).
“To the car, on the double! Ben driving, Mike shotgun, everybody else can cram in where they want!”
And that’s how they ended up on Turnpike in heavy traffic, Ben keeping a cool head and Mike reading TripAdvisor.com, and Stan yelling at the other cars from the middle seat with Bill and Bev exchanging slightly weary looks across him. Richie and Eddie were in the backseat, crammed together, and sharing earbuds and listening to Guns n Roses.
“Okay, so we have to get over here,” Mike was saying. Ben had turned on calming lo-fi music, the effect of which was slightly underscored by Stan’s angry yelling, and he leaned over the center console to look at the phone. “And then we can park, look around,”
“RICHIE AND I MADE SANDWICHES,” Eddie shouted from the way-back seat. “WE CAN EAT THEM AT THE PARK.”
“OKAY!” Ben hollered back.
“WE HAD THE RIGHT OF FUCKIN’ WAY!” Stan shreiked, trying to roll down the window so the Kia Sportage that had cut them off at the exit.
They made it, miracle of miracles. The Statue of Liberty was gorgeous. They found places to sit, and Eddie and Bev used their scarves to make a makeshift blanket. Eddie and Richie, surprisingly, had packed quite a lot into Richie’s backpack, and eddie passed hand sanitizer from his fanny pack. Bill and Stan ate penaut butter and jelly, and Bev and Mike shared roast beef, and ben and Eddie ate a BLT each, and Richie consumed three fluffernutter sandwiches at high speed.
“Okay, because they made lunch, Richie and Eddie can choose where to go next,” Mike said as they cleaned up. “Where are we going, boys?”
Eddie and Richie held a brief meeting/argument and came up with a consensus of “Merrill Lynch Building!”
It was a ten-minute drive to the building, and Richie had a strict rule of “if it’s under fifteen minutes, I don’t have to wear a seatbelt.” Eddie had a strict rule of “Car accidents can happen at literally any time, you idiot, and if you don’t buckle your seatbelt I will buckle it for you.” In the time it took them to argue about it, they had arrived.
“So what do we do here?” Bev asked after they parked nearby.
“We admire how tall it is,” Richie explained.
“Wow. That’s tall,” Bev said.
“Wait, it’s actually really cool,” Ben said. “I took a class that mentioned it. So it’s the sixth-tallest building in the state, and it was completed in 1992. It was the tallest in the state until 2004.”
“That’s really cool, but also a really boring choice of spot. You guys have to pick somewhere nearby that’s cool to make up for it,” Bill argued.
Richie and Eddie met again in a closed session, and came out with the announcement of “there’s a dessert place like a block away.”
“If we walk, it’ll cancel out the junk food we’re going to get and it will be like we didn’t eat anything at all,” Ben suggested.
“That’s… incorrect,” Stan said quietly. Nonetheless, they walked.
“Oh!” Bev yelped as they entered the (lovely, warm) bakery. “They have cream puffs. My day is made.”
Richie and Stan split two desserts, as always. One triple-chocolate brownie and one piece of key lime pie. Eddie also got a cream puff, Ben got a piece of pumpkin pie, which he would eat outside of the month of November, Bill got baklava, and after a lot of deliberation Mike ordered bananas foster.
Bev snapped a pic for her Instagram. “This looks incredible .” She took a bite. “It is incredible!”
“Mmmmm,” Eddie agreed, sporting a brand-new cream mustache.
Meanwhile, Stan was whispering to Richie “you can’t ask them for a glass of milk , Rich. Because it’s a bakery! Oy gevalt.” That last part was because Richie had walked up to the counter and was actually asking the employees for some milk to go with his brownie. They directed him towards a glass refrigerator in the corner, and he bought a little kid-size carton of milk, and paid for it. Then, very maturely, he stuck his tongue out at Stan.
Mike, meanwhile, was throughly enjoying his bananas foster. “How’s that baklava?” he asked Bill, who was consuming it at a rapid pace. He mumbled something that was probably “very good” but it was hard to tell with his mouth full.
“Because you’re being unproblematic right now, you can choose where we go next,” Mike told him. Bill thought for a minute, swallowed, and said “Hoboken History Museum.”
Mike drove them to the Hoboken Historical Museum, which did look pretty cool. Bill and Ben were completely enamored with the whole place as soon as they stepped in the doors. Mike preferred libraries, but historical museums were second on his list of places to visit on a trip. There were some pretty cool exhibits, and he followed Bev and Ben to a bit about postcards (real postcards from al over the county) while the others found some cool drawings from, like 1907. Eddie and Richie and Stan all insisted on buying something from the gift shop, and then they were on their way to Stan and Bev’s place of choice: Pier C Park. It’s a ten-minute drive and they all bickered/chatted/laughed the whole way.
Pier C Park, it turned out, is actually pretty cool. Stan held Bev’s arm so she didn’t slip and fall on the ice and honestly? They looked like an extremely fashionable, chic couple in Bev’s plaid skirt and black blouse and Stan’s perfect peacoat, scarf, and oxford shoes. Ben and Bill were taking aesthetic pictures in the rookery, while Mike and Eddie admired boats in the pier. Richie was looking over Bill’s shoulder at a cool bird and they took a few pictures of him as he talked to it like it was another person that could understand his sentiments on the new Star Wars movie and not a bird.
Finally, they decided to go through the Holland Tunnel on the way home. Bev and Eddie thought it was pretty cool.
AT home, they ordered kebab and falafel andd tabbouli and hummus from the place down the street, and Richie gave Stanley his gift (that sweater ) and got to light the candle.
And then they finished being lazy: Ben sent his memes to the meme group chat, and Eddie and Bev and Richie watched three more episodes of The Office, and Bill read the news, and Mike joined Stan on the couch with a book. At eleven thirty p.m., Stan jumped up (he was wearing the sweater).
“I finished it!” he said, grinning broadly. “I finished it and to celebrate, I’m going to eat a bunch of chocolate gelt.”
the losers have like five group chats and they're all for different purposes
-official groupchat for important things
-the errands groupchat (they can just text that they need something from whatever store and whoever's out and about will grab it)
-they also have seven different chats, one with each loser removed, for talking about surprises and gifts
Eddie woke up late. He actually kind of expected the house to be empty, to find Stan and Richie off somewhere and Bev hard at work and Ben and Mike at the library and Bill maybe writing in his room, but Stan was right there in his bunk scrolling on his phone, and Richie still asleep in his bed across the room. He could hear Mike's "Good Morning, Sunshine!" playlist downstairs on the speaker, and he sat up and yawned.
"G'mornin," Stan said in a sleepy voice. "How'd you sleep?"
"Good. Why aren't we up at the crack of dawn, heading out on a wintry adventure?" Eddie asked.
"Eh. I guess we're going to have a lazy day today. Ben's on a run and I think he roped Bev into it too. And Mike's cooking breakfast, and Richie's asleep, and I guess Bill is too."
"Okay. Well, I guess I'll take a shower." Eddie grabbed a t-shirt, sweatpants and a hoodie and headed into the shower.
Of course, they were out of shampoo. He mentally reminded himself to text Ben and ask him to grab some if he was still out when Eddie was done, but for now he guessed he could use Bev's hair stuff. It was actually pretty nice, one of the only things she would spring good money for and not try to make herself. After showering, he hopped out and changed into his comfy clothes, and headed to the kitchen.
Richie had apparently just woken up. He was still in pajamas and his hair was mussed up, and he was inhaling coffee. Stan was also in PJ's but he looked as presentable as always.
"Eds, that's my shirt!" Richie announced, seemingly waking up more when Eddie entered the room. "You're wearing my shirt!"
It was Richie's shirt, actually. Eddie hadn't noticed. "No, it's not."
"Yeah! That's my Schrute farms shirt and Stan's swetapants!" Richie grinned. "Eddie, you thief!"
Eddie was seriously considering phisically fighting Richie when Ben and Bev entered from the front door, all chilly and flushed from the cold.
"We got some microwave popcorn!" Bev cheered as she set the bag down on the table and moved to wrap herself aorund Eddie from behind. "Ooh, you;re a human heater, Eddie," she added as she rested her chin on his shoulder.
"Wait, why did you get popcorn?" Stan asked.
"Because Bev wanted to get some, and she's adorable and I love her," Ben explained as bhe hung up his coat.
"Oh, shit, I was going to ask you if you could grab some shampoo! We're out, I had to use Bev's," Eddie explained.
"That's why you smell like Mango-Papaya Sunrise!" she exclaimed. "I can run back out and get some."
"Nah, it's fine."
Mike came out of the kitchen with a bunch of omelettes. "Breakfast is served! Soemone go wake Bill up."
"I can do it-" Stan started to say, but Richie yelled "I CAN DO IT!" They heard him run up the stairs and into Bill's room, and then a few seconds later a dull thud, and then a few seconds later the sound of Bill yelling "RICHARD TOZIER I WILL END YOU!"
They came thundering down the stairs a minute later, Bill all tired from sleep but angry nonetheless, and Richie sprinting with a gleeful look on his face. He ran into Eddie's arms, and glared playfully at Bill.
"Eddie Spaghetti will protect me."
"Not if you keep calling me Eddie Spaghetti, I won't," Eddie countered. He shook Bev and Richie off, and sat at the table to eat his omelette.
They ate in relative silence, because Mike's cooking was just That Good. They finished, and Ben and Bill did the dishes, and that's when they all realized they had no plan whatsoever.
"Okay," Richie said. "This may be a controversial statement, but I think we should spend the entire day doing nothing prodective whatsoever."
"That's every day for you, Rich," Bill called from the kitchen.
"Shut up! I mean, no working on essays. No checking things off to-do lists, no deadline fulfilling, nothing. Just being lazy."
"I have things to do! I only have a few days to finish my fifty-book list for the year!" Stan said.
"I have to write!" Bill argued.
"Guys, this is mandatory. I'm making this a mandatory event." The Losers could pull a mandatory event if it was needed. When Mike had done the trip to Jersey, or when they had decorated the tree, or once when Bev had had a huge test and made it mandatory for the biys to leave the house for three hours so she could study in peace. Richie was making it mandatory for them to do absolutely nothing all day.
So about an hour later, they were watching The Naked Gun on the couch and eating popcorn. Richie had almost slipped up on his own rule and grabbed his ntebook to take notes on the comedy of the film, and Ben had to hide the notebook at the top of the fridge.
"Weird Al Yankovic's on the plane!" the movie police captain said, and Richie started laughing. He was doing that laugh he did sometimes, where he wasn't making any noise, just silently shaking in mirth.
"Get up and take a break, Richie," Mike said. "Drink some water."
The identical second Richie got up, Bev stretched her feet out over where he was sitting. When Richie returned, he looked around and then plopped himself securely on Eddie's lap.
Eddie blinked for a minute while the policemen onscreen talked about Queen Elizabeth's visit. Then he decided it wasn;t worth the trouble of arguing, and he was in prime position to do little braids in Bev's hair, and having Richie in his lap really wasn't so bad after all.
Anyways, Ben and Mike were whispering.
"Benjamin? Michael? Something to share with the class?" Richie asked.
"Would it be productive if we made something to eat? Like, not popcorn?" Ben asked.
Richie deliberated, and Eddie decided to jump in. "Um, order something to eat that isn't that healthy. Still kind of healthy, but not health food."
"Chinese?" Mike asked, phone out.
While they waited for the food to arrive, Richie leaned back against Eddie. He really shouldn't have been so surprised at the contact, because Richard Tozier was a cat, but by now Bev had moved to cuddle with Ben and there was a nice, big, Richie-sized space next to him. Eddie was contemplating saying something like "Rich, there's a spot right there, you;re crushing me" but there's also something nice about it. The whole physical affection thing. Richie had sort of leaned against Eddie's chest by now, and even though he was cramming popcorn into his mouth, quoting lines from the film from memory, and wheezing with laughter at the misadventures of Detective Frank Drebin, there was a warm feeling from the top of Eddie's head to the tips of his toes, and he adjusted his arms to go around Richie's waist and pulled out his phone.
"Geez, move around a bit so I can see my screen," he grumbled in what he hoped was a playfully disgruntled tone, but was actually full of love and affection. For a brief moment he worried that Richie would move next to him, but he just maneuvered so he was laying oin Eddie's chest, alternating between the film and the phone.
Ben paid for the food, and Mike passed out paper plates, and Stan grabbed some forks and Bill passed out napkins. Bev had never once in her life successfully eaten a meal with chopsticks, but she twirled her hair into a bun and let some strands fall into her face.
"It's not fair," MIke complained. "Bev, you're in my old shirt and leggings and your hair is held up by wooden chopsticks, and you could still model for something. Like a legging company."
"Bev, I'm gay, and I think you're gorgeous," Stan agrees. THey all settle into silence for a minute, eating, with only the sound of Jane and Frank as background nopise, and then Richie sits bolt upright.
"Stanley Uris, did you just come out of the goddamn closet?!" he shreiks, dropping noodles on Eddie. And Eddie realizes that yeah, Stan just said that he was gay, and now they've all stopped eating to look at him. Stan himself is eating calmly, but he's betrayed by the bright red stsin on his cheeks.
"Um, yes, I believe I have." He's doing his nervous thing, slipping into his talking to adults and authority voice. Eddie would walk over and hold his hands if Richie wasn't sitting on his lap.
Ben has beat them all to Stan's side, wrapping him in a side-hug. "Hey, Stanley? That's great. Seriously. And obviously, you know that we're cool with the gays in this house-" he waves a hand over the giant rainbow flag Richie and Bev put up their first week in the house "-and if you ever want to talk about boys you maybe shouldn't come to me, because I don't know how to do romance, but maybe Bev. Or Bill or Richie! Richie likes boys and Bill knows how to write romance!"
"Yeah, Staniel, talk to be about cute guys anytime. You, me, and Bev can form a club."
"Stan, you can talk to me anytime," Bill adds, complete with voice crack, and a strange look on his face, and his eyes fixated on the credits of the movie. Eddie decided to look into that later.
They finished their food and watched the Simpsons. Eddie's lower thigh fell asleep, Bev actually did fall asleep, Bill and Stan avoided eye contact, Mike and Ben quietly talked about something, Richie lit a candle, and when he fell asleep on the couch his last thought was okay. that was actually a pretty good day.
the disaster gays are back at it again!
Eddie was prepared. He had run over the routine with Richie twice during the day, helped pick out a stage outfit, run over it one more time just in case, gotten his notebook ready, he had calmed Richie down with the help of Stan and Bill by reminding him that he had been a comedian since he was eight years old. Now he was strolling through the city to the venue where the comedy show was.
"Okay," Richie said. He was pretending not to be nervous. "You have to leave me off here, but I'm on last. Ther'll be like fifteen minutes of material before me, take notes-"
"Richie, I'll do what I've done at every single one of your performances since we were sixteen. Knock them dead." Richie gave a smile that was simultaneously weak and confident, and disappeared backstage.
Eddie found a good seat, front and center, and opened his notebook. First off, he made his list.
JOKES THAT WORKED / JOKES THAT DIDN'T WORK
Then he ordered a Coca-Cola and settled in.
Meanwhile, Bev and Ben and Stan and Bill were getting ready at the house for their Couples Cookie Class. Mike had told them to get dressed up festively and kind of nicer, after texting the friend who had planned it. Bev and Ben were decked out in tasteful ugly Christmas sweaters, which Stan thought kind of defeated the purpose. Bill was in a red and green button-up, and Stan decided to wear his IT'S LIT sweater even though Hannukah ended last night.
They said goodbye to Mike, who was leaving, and then headed out the door. They had decided to walk to the class so they could admire the Christmas lights.
"You guys have to act like a couple, though," Bev reminded them. "Just do what Ben and I do and don't interact with anyone else."
"I wasn't planning on interacting with anyone else," Stan said sincerely. Ben snorted.
They arrived at the class, which was held in one of the cooking classrooms. Bill gripped Stan's hand like they were heading into battle instead of a cheery holiday cooking class, and as Stan surveyed the blonde heterosexual couples wearing plaid and poinsettias that surrounded them, he supposed they were.
Eddie was comfortable and ready when the lights dimmed. The show started with a tall, twig-like boy doing five minutes of comedy about being a Heterosexual Man that Hated His Girlfriend, which Eddie mentally cringed at. Next was a girl in a sweatervest who did a set that seemed to be completely the opposite, it mostly centered around being a bisexual disaster. Eddie could relate. Then, the entry music started to play for the headliner- Dirty Little Secret by the All-American Rejects- and Richie Tozier walked on stage. The crowd cheered, and Eddie prepared with his pen to take notes on everything that came out of Richie's mouth, including his opener: "Hey folks, nice to be here. Just an FYI, the roach spraying starts at eleven pm, so we have to empty the place quick after the show." (It had made Bev laugh so hard she almost fell out of her chair.)
Except Richie started with something completely different. "Hey, folks. Thanks for coming out. This is really nice, you know, I've actually been going through a tough time lately. I was outed as gay to all of my friends, without my consent, by someone I really thought I could trust." What on earth is he doing? Eddie thought. "It was a surprise to everyone, especially to me. Y'see, I"m not gay. Yeah! I don't know ehere that guy got his information from!"
The crowd laughed uproariously at that one, Eddie wrote opener under JOKES THAT WORKED, and the show continued.
As it went on, Eddie realized something strange. Richie Tozier was hilarious. John Mulaney levels of funny. Eddie was laughing out loud, tears in his eyes, barely writing anything down. Of course he knew Richie was funny, knew he had what it took to become a comedian, but after hearing the same jokes dissected and rehearsed and picked apart, they just kind of lost their humor.
Richie was adding new material Eddie had never heard, though. He was changing subtle parts of the jokes that made them a lot better. He was adding pauses, acting little things out, and Eddie was sorry when he said "I'm Richie Tozier! Thank you! Goodnight!"
"Richie!" he cheered as he ran up to him after the show. "Richie! That was amazing! Like, your best performance yet!"
"I improvised that bit about the Joker, was it good?"
"It was great, I was wondering why I hadnlt heard it before!"
"I should write that down," Richie mused as they headed out. "See ya, Piper."
"See ya!" The sweater-vest girl replied as she too walked out.
"Wanna grab something to eat?" Eddie asked as they stepped into the snow. Richie hesitated for a minute.
Meanwhile, Bill and Stan were situated at a station next to Ben and Bev. Stan was pulling cookies out of the oven, Bill was setting up frosting and decorations. As they stood waiting for their next instrustions, Bill awkwardly intertwined his fingers with Stan's, and that's when they saw a girl staring at them with a look on her face.
Stan saw Bill see the girl, felt Bill's grip get tighter and his posture change slightly. See, back in Derry, Bill and Richie had been known for two things. The stutter and the constant talking, respectively, and the fact that both of them would physically fight anyone with two fists and a smart mouth. Speech therapy had gotten rid of the stutter, but Bill had never outgrown his protective nature and his willingness to fight. Stan hoped he never would, and it always made him feel kind of proud and fond to see Bill go off at someone, but he didn;t want Bill to launch himself at this mini-Kaitlyn Bennett in her kitschy Christmas sweater.
Of course, it was too late.
"Yeah?" Bill asked, smiling at the girl with menace in his eyes.
"Nothing!" she replied in the same sickly-sweet tone as him. "It's just, this is a couples Christmas-cookie decorating class."
"Excuse me?" Bill asked, eyes narrowing. That was Bill Denbrough code for what the actual fuck.
"You heard me. This is a Christmas-cookie decorating class for couples. I'm not asking you to leave! I'm just saying, you shouldn't take spots from couples during the Christmas season, especially if you aren't one of us and don't celebrate."
"What do you mean, one of us? Straight, Christian, or bigoted?" Bill fired back. The girl gasped.
"Excuse me? Bigoted?" she asked, sounding like she was about three seconds away from swinging a punch.
Ben and Bev were looking like maybe they should step in. A few couples around them were starting to take notice too.
"I mean this is a couples cookie class, and we're a couple. And this is a holiday cookie class. Christians don't have a monopoly on cookies. And another thing-"
"Hey, you tryna start something?" some big blond dude asked. He didn't need to try to sound tough, he was without trying.
"I'm tryna stand up for me and my boyfriend here. Even though he's Jewish and we're gay, we have just as much right to be at your fancy-schmanchy couples cookie class!"
Stan was squeezing Bill's hand as an attempt to say "Bill Denbrough, please stop talking, it's fine" but apparently was conveying the sentiment of "Bill Denbrough, this is excellent and you should continue interrupting this class by yelling", because Bill squeezed back and looked Stan in the eyes with a conspiratorial grin.
"And one more thing-" he started, pointing a finger in the guy's face. Stan had no choice (he totally did have a choice, actually, but he also had wanted to do this since he was like twelve). He pulled Bill around and smashed his face into Bill's. Yep! That's right! He kissed Bill Denbrough to make him shut up, which seemed more like an Eddie/Richie move, but whatever. Bill was just kind of standing there, hand still in Stan's, and he could hear Bev gasping behind them, and he just knew the girl was gaping angrily.
Bill pulled away after what could have been two hours or five seconds.
"I-I-I don;t have time for th-this," he stammered and then stood catatonic for a good ten minutes while they got a demonstration on how to use piping tips. Stan's phone buzzed.
Beverly > GET SOME URIS!!
Beverly > Stan, I feel like we have some catching up to do -Ben
Stanley > Beverly Marsh I will fucking END YOU
Stanley > Ben, talk to you later :)
Richie didn;t want to go get something to eat with Eddie. He was scared- yeah, scared- to be around him in times like this, when he was drunk on stage lights and high on applause. When Eddie Kaspbrak had been front and center the whole damn show, laughing and wheezing a bit and making Richie ruin his deadpan cool-guy persona up on stage. It was times like this when he worried he'd slip up and just, like, kiss Eddie or even worse, tell him about his feelings (not even just the romantic-stylez ones. Any of his feelings. He kind of had a tendency to beat his feelings back with a large stick).
But Eddie was standing under the streetlights and looking downright angelic, and Richie Tozier could never say no to him, so he followed Eddie. Bill had once joked that Richie would follow Eddie anywhere- partly because Richie had a tendency to walk with headphones in his ears and looking at the ground, and just kind of walk after whoever's showes he was bejhind, and also because Richie would, quite literally, follow Eddie wherever the hell he wanted to go. "Wanna go eat lunch on the edge of the cliff at the barrens?" "Yeah, sure, spaghetti, whatever you say."
So Richoe followed Eddie to some hole-in-the-wall restaurant where they ate some of the best tacos Richie had ever had until they were hurried out at closing time. And then Eddie said "You know, I'm not really that tired. Let's just walk around, see what's open this late," and Richie agreed because what was he supposed to say? "No, Eds, let's go home and lay in our beds and I'll think about your dumb stupid freckles and smile and face while you snore because you're just that annoying/endearing."
"Yeah, maybe we can buy some food at a 24-hour convenience store. Like the old days."
"By old days, you mean like last year?" Eddie asked. He was thinking of the days when Richie would scale the wall of the Kaspbrak home, hand Eddie his vike helmet, take him to the gas station, and then sit in the park with him at midnight eating Fritos. Sometimes Bev would join them if she had had a particularly bad day with her dad, quietly playing music from her phone (Eddie's mom got alerts if his phone left the house after a certain time so he left it in his room).
So Eddie and Richie walked around NYC in the middle of the night. They passed swome guy smoking on a street corner, and Eddie faked an asthma attack to make him feel guilty. That really shouldn't have been adorable, but somehow it was.
And after about an hour, Eddie and Richie were sitting in a children's playground, eating Cheetos on the merry-go-round and talking about Christmas.
"Oh! And for Ben, I picked out the coolest hoodie, it's all soft on the inside but no too hot, he can take it on runs," Eddie was saying. And he had Cheeto dust on the side of his mouth, and his hair was messed up from the wind, and he was shivering slighhtly in his hoodie.
"Eds, you're shivering. C'mere," Richie said. He opened his jacket and let Eddie curl up inside close to Richie's chest. He finished telling Richie about the gifts he had gotten everyone, and then turned his face to look up at him. And with that famous Richie Tozier Impulse™, Richie leaned down and kissed him on the cheek.
Bill was frosting little ornaments on the Christmas tree cookie he was making in a state of subdued shock. It had been a strange evening. Bev watched him, and whispered something to Ben, and then said "Hey, Billy, I've gotta run to the bathroom. Can you come with me?"
"Why?" he asked.
"Um... girls never go to the bathroom alone. It's a rule."
"Okay," Bill said because he was almost positive he was about to get some patanted Bev Marsh Wisdom.
He was correct. Bev yanked him around the corner, her eyes wide and bright.
"William Denbrough!" she enthused. "What on earth just happened?"
"Um, correct me if I'm wrong, but he, er, he, he kissed me. On my mouth."
"Yeah!" she cheered, punching the air. "Yessss! Stanley and Billiam, together forever!"
"You guys have to get your shit together now."
"You don't even know if I like him... like that or not," Bill pointed out.
"Do you?" Bev asked, arms crosed.
"Okay! Fine! I do like him! I'm bisexual, or whatever the hell-"
"Another fine addition to the Disaster Bisexuals club."
"whoa whoa whoa," Bill interrupted. "How do you know I'm a disaster bisexual?"
"Bill," she said seriously. "Stan kissed you on the lips and you stood as still as a statue for ten minutes. You tried to talk to a cute girl at a club and ended up spilling your entire soda over Eddie's head. You wear the same five flannels every day-"
"Fine! Fine! I'm a disaster bi!"
"Okay. Needta talk?" Ben asked, sidling over to Stan.
"So what just happened?" Ben asked. He could be a therapist, Stan thought.
"Bill was standing up for me and about to throw hands in the middle of a baking class. I decided that the best way to shut him up would be to- to kiss him."
"Did you want to kiss him?"
"Um," Stan hedged. "Yep. Yeppers."
"So, to summarize, you like Bill as more than a friend."
"Longer than I can remember, I think."
And Ben went back to putting little pearls on his snowman cookie. Stanley blinked.
"Wait! You mean, that's it?" he asked.
"I mean," he pressed, "no more prying? No more prodding? You don't want the full story?"
"Is there more to it?" Ben asked.
Stan thought for a second. "No, actually. There isn't more to it at all."
Ben raised his eyebrows. "So it's simple, then? You like Bill, and you just kissed him after he yelled at some girl to defend your honor and your guys' fake relationship."
"What do I do next?" Stan asked. His voice sounded small and unsure, which was ridiculous, because Stan was supposed to be the pragmatic and sure one. He was supposed to be the one that told them how to do things (after Bill told them to do it).
"I'm no expert, but maybe... tell him how you feel?" Ben said with a little smile.
"Keep me updated, though!" He grinned, as Bev and Bill reentered. Stan wondered why he hadn;t gone to Ben in the first place.
Eddie was staring at Richie and Richie was staring at him. Richie had just kissed him, which made it the second time this month (also the second time ever) that one of them had kissed the other.
Richie cleared his throat. "Let's, um, get goin'?"
"Yeah. Sure." Eddie was aware he should be acting normal, but it was kind of hard under the present circumstances.
As they walked awkwardly down the street towards the subway, Eddie really hoped Richie wouldn't say anything. Hoped that Richie wouldn't turn and say "Eds, I'm sorry, I wasn't thinking" and retreat for a few days.
"Eds, I-" Richie began, but Eddie slipped an ungloved hand into Richie's and bumped his hip aganist Richie's. Richie, a full head taller than him, looked down with a fond smile. With his other hand he pulled his phone and earbuds out of his jeans pocket and turned on Spotify and then offered an earbud to Eddie. He was on the verge of saying "absolutely not, do you know how many germs are on those?" but then he decided fuck it and grabbed it. My Chemical Romance.
They made it to the subway, which was kind of crowded, and Eddie held onto a bar while Richie held on to him from behind, wrapping arms around his waist. He rested his chin on Eddie's head for the full forty-five minutes back home, and Eddie stood completely still because he felt like he was going to mess this up somehow.
As they walked home, hands brushing up against each other's, Eddie wondered if Richie was going to kiss him goodnight. Then he wondered if he should kiss Richie goodnight, beuaseit was kind of his turn now. Then while he was pondering this, he walked into the house and put on his pajamas and brushed his teeth and then he was in bed.
He lay awake for about an hour thinking about Richie's chapped lips on his cheek.
Richie thought about Eddie's warmth on the subway and about his cold hand in Richie's.
Bill thought about Stan's hand squeezing his in the class, the way they had intertwined fingers and how it had been the easiest thing in the world to defend him.
Stan thought about his lips landing on Bill's, the way it felt completely normal and like he was at home. \
Bev and Ben thought about what idiots their friends were.
Richie headed out early the next morning before Eddie could wake up. He wasn;t trying to avoid him or anything, but he also wasn't super enthusiastic to talk about what had happened the night before. Plus, he couldn't very well ask Eddie to come with him- he was going to buy a present for Eddie.
He hopped on the subway, miraculously found a seat. Earbuds in, Queen on.
Edward Spaghedward > where u at
bitchy tozier > shopping
Edward Spaghedward > ??
bitchy tozier > bevvie's christmas present
Edward Spaghedward > ok cool
Richie had actually made a list, inspired by Eddie's frequent complaints around the house. He had taken note of them over the last few days and come up with the following.
- records that he actually likes
- a jacket
- some snacks
- a new phone case
Armed with this, he set out to the record shop.
"Rich!" the guy at the counter- Cameron- greeted him. "Looking for more records?"
"Nah, I came to the record store to get my groceries," Richie fired back. "Yeah, looking for my... boyfriend. Christmas gift, he hates my music."
"Boyfriend, huh?" Cam asked. "What's he into?"
"Er... Cavetown? Yeah, Cavetown, and he likes Troye Sivan, and I think he's into the Beatles. And The Script."
"Nice taste. So we have the album Cavetown on vinyl and I think there are a few copies of Blue Neighborhood too? We don't have The Script, but I know you know where Classic Rock is, Mister Bowie Fan." And with that, Cameron walked off.
Richie ended up picking out Blue Neighborhood and an early Beatles record, bid farewell to his friend, and headed to REI.
"Um, yeah, hi, I'm looking for a lightweight but still warm jacket for a short boy."
The girl at the counter looked like she would know what she was doing, dressed in hiking boots and a warm flannel. She dressed like Bill, if Bill was a girl. "Okay, let me show you where that is."
"Hey, cool shirt," he said as she walked towards the clothing section. It said I NEED MY SPACE on it with a picture of a rocketship.
"Thanks! So, what kind of situation will he be using the jacket in?" she asked.
"Just, like, everyday? He's small and apparently doesn't generate body heat, because he always asks to borrow my jacket. I figured I'd get the guy a jacket of his own."
The girl muttered something that sounded like intricate rituals and then said "Alrighty. These are our jackets on sale, in smaller sizes. If you need any more help, my name's Eleanora."
Richie walked out of there with a cool new jacket for Eddie, and the secret knowledge that his Eddie Spaghetti would probably forget it at homr and still have to hug him for warmth. The thought made him smile.
He went to the Best Buy to look at phone cases, and with the help of an employee named Audrey, narrowed his selections down to two cases. One of them was blue with little cacti on it, and one... one was white with pastel rainbow sripes going across it horizontally. Richie thinks Eddie would really like the second one: it's understated and kind of subtly colorful, and if it were a shirt Eddie would probably wear it. But it's a phone case, and it's kind of gay, and-
"Um, this one," he said, tossing the cactus one aside. "The, the rainbow one."
And finally he stops at the store to get Eddie's favorite snacks. Pocky, salt-and-vinegar chips ("They're just like your personality, Eds!"), pistachios, and Rice Krispies Treats. Eddie also liked Jello, but he didn't know how he could wrap that.
At home, Stan helped him wrap the gifts quickly while Eddie wayched TV downstairs.
"What'dja get Bev?" he aske dlater as they brushed their teeth. "For Christmas."
"That's for me to know and for you to find out, Spaghetti."
me, adding cameos of all my irl friends into this chapter:
mike and ben are such an underrated duo.... in this au at least, they bond over working at the library and dealing with boomers at work, being the Mom Friends of the losers club, similar interests (history, literature), and i feel like they'd also have some shared insecurity over being the last to join the losers? in my universe at leasrt, even though bev met the boys at the same time ben did, she assilimated easier into the gang and bonded with richie and eddie really quick, but it took longer for mike and ben to feel like Part Of The Group. anyways enjoy this chapter
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Mike had gone with Ben to work at the local library.
And right now, he was trying to read, which was hard because some girl was talking way too loudly for a library environment. It was on the tip of Mike's tongue to say "Excuse me, but there's no loud voices in the library", but the head librarian had given him a severe reprimand for acting like a librarian when he wasn't on duty. Ben will take care of it, he thought, turning to his friend at the desk.
Turns out, it was Ben the girl was talking to. She looked like the usual preppy college girl- dark curly hair in a ponytail, Vineyard Vines shirt, nice sneakers. Probably played lacrosse? Maybe soccer?
"Anyways, I really need a book of scripts. I'm cast in a production of Edwin Drood on-campus, and it starts after break," she was saying, leaning over the desk.
"Scripts are over there," Ben said with a smile and an appropriately hushed voice.
"Could you show me? It'll just take a minute," the girl said in a voice that made Mike uncomfortable. Ben shot him a look that said please cover the desk for a minute, I don;t want to be rude, so Mike walked over with his book on neuroscience and settled into the desk.
Five minutes later, the girl returned with Ben lugging a huge book of scripts.
"Okay, Mikki, here we go. Edwin Drood, the lost work of Charles Dickens. What role did you get?" Ben asked, making polite conversation.
"Rosa Bud, the romantic female lead."
"Oh, that's cool!"
"Um..." The girl- Mikki- asked with a flirty look in her eye. "Wanna read a scene with me? Do the part of John Jasper?"
"Okay!" Ben responded enthusiastically, sitting next to her.
Now, Mike was no expert on romance, but he was pretty sure this girl was flirting with their Ben Hanscom. And if it was any other Loser, they would drop into the conversation that they were dating someone (even if they weren't actually dating anyone) to be polite. Unfortunately, Ben was not the kid of person to show off his relationship, especially with Beverly. They balanced each other out that way- Ben needed validation and positivity and Bev would bring up how incredible and sweet and amazing her boyfriend was in just about any situation. Bev needed stability and calm in her life, after nineteen years of being shown off by her father like a perfect work of art, after years of the sheer chaos and insanity that came of being best friends with Richie Tozier and Eddie Kaspbrak (because she loved all the Losers, she really did, but in their sun-kissed youth it had always been her Rich and Teddy that she had turned to when she needed it), and so it was perfect for her to be with Ben. He never showed her off, never called her over to say "Look at Bevvie's incredible dress, she made it herself, I love her and we're in love" because that just wasn't them.
So Ben was accidentally flirting with a cute girl in the library while Mike did his job for him. Mikke stood up and followed Ben out of the main reading room, and Mike was tempted to follow them, but he was also tempted to finish this Wikipedia article about the Gavle Goat, and the need to learn won out in the end.
Ben returned about ten minutes later, shot Mike a quick "Thanks" for covering him, and spent the next hour or so helping different people find things. One lady insisted he help her find the autobiography of Chester Arthur for her son's project, and Ben had to explain for fifteen minutes that Chester Arthur never wrote an autobiography.
"You won't be getting my business, young man," she sniffed as she marched out.
"This is a library..." Ben muttered after her. Mike supressed a giggle.
Finally, they were walking to the bus.
"So... that girl you were talking to," Mike began.
Ben laughed. "Yeah, she was nice. Gave her my phone number in case she needed any more help with her scting stuff."
"Yeah, I was making copies for her out of the book, and she said I was a good script partner, and she might have to call me if she needs any mor ehelp, and I gave her my number."
"Benjamin, she was flirting with you," Mike said.
"Yeah. That was flirting, she likes you. How- how did oyu not realize?"
"Mike, I've only had one girlfriend in my life and she asked me out!"
"Okay. Well, if she texts you, just gently let her down and mention you have a girlfriend."
Ben was getting more worried. "I don't want to be mean, though!"
"Maube she was just being nice," MIke suggested as he guided Ben to a seat on the bus. "If she texts you, find out in a roundabout way if she's dating anyone."
The phone buzzed.
Unknown Number > Hi, this is Mikki from earlier!
"Ahh! You do it!" Ben said, handing Mike the phone and peering over his shoulder.
Ben > Hi!
Mikki > Would you be interested in getting together with me sometime and working on reading more?
Mikki > Maybe tomorrow night? My dorm's out, though, my roommate is having a party
Ben > My house might work. Most of my roommates are busy, but I think my girlfriend will be home and so will my roommate Stanley
Mikki > You have a gf??
Ben > Yeah haha. Maybe your boyfriend could come too, like a double date, everyone could read a part
"Fun double date, all reading parts from some old play," Ben commented.
"Shh!" Mike giggled.
Mikki > I don't have a bf actually ;)
Ben > Oh, okay.
Mikki > how log have you and your gf been together
Mikki > long***
Ben > Since freshman year
Mikki > oh so about a year
Ben > Haha no, freshman year of high school
Mikki > oh
Mikki > oh shit, just remembered I have a thing tomorrow
Ben > Maybe some other time
Mikki > maybe haha
"What are you biys giggling about?" Bev asked as they walked in the door a while later.
"Nothing," MIke and Ben answered in unison.
my takes on the couples in this fic
benverly: 100% healthy, always in the honeymoon phase, love each other, ben probably sad he loved bev on the first date and she said it back, bev's overwhelming affection and pride makes up for the bullying ben used to face and his unconditional love and quiet admiaration makes up for her toxic relationship with her dad
stanbrough: they're perfectly in sync, have been married for fifteen years, most grown-up couple but the second most functional, can probably sit in the same room silently working on different things for three hours and call it a date, schedule dinner dates and dress up for them
reddie: they're so chaotic but also so in love, said they loved each other platonically for the first time in freshman year, constantly caught between "pulling pigtails on the playground" and "married for years and have a dog and house together", slow dance to music in their room at 3am, richie will call eddie super annoying and no fun at all and end it all with "i love u babe"
One of the things that the Losers Club had carried over from Derry was their meetings. Yep! They had meetings! Meetings to study for finals together in high school, and meetings to plan secret surprise parties for each other, and right now? A meeting to plan their Christmas celebrations. Bev and Stan were presiding.
Eddie curled into Richie's chest n the couch, where the Losers were crammed onto laps and perched on chair arms. Richie rested his chin on Eddie's head, which would have been nice if he didn't sneeze.
"Asshole," Eddie grumbled, but he didn't move. Bill was sitting on the arm of the couch like a slightly attractive human gargoyle, Ben was sitting in a little ball in the corner with some hot tea, Mike was stretching out every possible limb he could and hitting Bill and Eddie in the face as he did it.
"Attention, please?" Stan asked, pacing the rug in front of them. He was still in his unbuttoned sleepshirt and pajama pants, and had that dad-in-the-morning-on-a-school-day vibe to him. Bev was also pacing the rug in her matching pajama set with her hair still in its overnight braids.
"Stan, you're Jewish. Why're you leading this meeting?" Mike asked jokingly.
"Because I'm the only one in this house who's organized."
"Hey!" Richie protested, stopping his usual stream of Eddie-annoying jokes. "I use a planner!"
"Yes, Richie, after nineteen years! Nineteen of them! You finally got a planner," Bill grinned.
"Anyways! Here's the plan!" Bev said. "We each pick our favorite holiday tradition and incorporate it into Christmas Eve tonight and Christmas Day tomorrow! Me first, we always dressed up. No matter what, on Christmas Day, I had to do my hair nice and put on a dress. Tomorrow, we should all get dolled up fancy even though we're just staying here."
"I like that one," Stan said as he jotted it down on his ever-present legal pad. "Ben?"
"Why does Ben get to go first?" Richie whined.
"Ben's been behaving."
"Hey! I was listening!" Bill says.
"You can go next," Stan said.
"Well, we always did Christmas Eve Mass," Ben said. "When I got older, like in middle school, we did the midnight one. I was planning on going to that, if anyone wants to come."
"I went to mass the next morning," Eddie groaned. "My mother made me wait until afterwards to open my gifts. I'll come with you tonight, Ben."
"We'll all go," Bev said with finality. "Stanley, take a note."
"My turn, Richie! Okay, so, we all had a big breakfast together on Christmas morning after we opened presents," Bill said.
"We did lunch after church! My whole extended family would come," Mike added. "Everyone made the food together and it was a really fun time."
"Brunch?" Bill asked Mike. "We could do a brunch and all make it together tomorrow morning?"
"Sounds good! Write that, Stan!" Mike grinned.
"Okay! My turn!" Richie yelps. "We got to pick one gift to open on Christmas Eve! So tonight before church, we can do that!"
"Sounds good," Stan muttered as he wrote it down. "Okay, meeting adjourned."
Later that night, the Losers Club- outfitted in their best church attire- gathered around the tree to pick out a gift. There were only two under the tree for Bev, a big box and a smaller flat rectangle, and she grabbed the smaller one.
"From Mike," she read aloud, grinning at him. "Ooh! The Humans of New York book! I love that dude! Thanks, Mike!" she grinned as she hugged him.
Richie picked up a box from Stanley. He unwrapped it to find a skateboard, a smaller one that he could carry artound with him. "Stanley! You're encouraging my dangerous and reckless hobby that got me banned from a museum downtown?"
"I figured you should at least have a newer one that's not held together by duct tape, and that you can easily carry to places where it's legal," Stan rolled his eyes, even though he was looking at Richie fondly. "No hugs, you can thank me by not fidgeting tonight at mass and making your bed."
Eddie got one of those tactical aluminum pens from Bill. "It can break windows, take notes, defend against attackers. The whole dealio. Now you can feel safe walking to the store at night without Richie or Ben." Eddie grinned.
Blll opened his weighted blanket from Bev, immediately draped himself in it, and just sat on the couch grinning. Stan picked up one corner, weighed it in his hand, and commented "I may have to share this with you." Bill turned red.
Eddie and Richie got Ben "Yeah, it's a pretty obscure coffee place near my classes, you've never heard of it" Hanscom a subscription to a coffee of the month club, with a signed note that said I, the undersigned, will not drink Ben's special coffee because it's his. The rest of the Losers had all signed it.
Mike got his bookbag from Beverly, covered in images of the covers of his favorite books. "Bev! You made this?"
"Yep!" she smiled. "With fabric transfer, I can show you how later."
And finally, the Losers headed to mass. On the subway, Richie held Eddie around the waist with one arm while the other hand clung to a pole, and Eddie sttraightened Richie's tie as best he could. Bill and Bev sat down on the seats they could find and Stan and Ben held into their hands (okay, Ben held Bev's hand the whole way there and Stan held onto Bill's wrist loosely and then his hand accidentally slid into Bill's). Mike made a friend in a small toddler who was also going to a midnight mass, it seemed, and spent the whole time making faces at him across the subway car.
Finally, Ben and Eddie shepherded them into the church. It was like every other Catholic church they'd been in- big and cathedral-y and way too much, with the purple and gold Christmas decorations strung up everywhere. They all filed into a pew- Ben, Bev, Richie, Eddie, Bill, Stan, Mike.
"Turn off your phones!" Mike muttered. "Trust me, as a church kid, you do not want your phone going off during everything."
It was just like midnight mass in Derry- the little sip of wine that Ben and Eddie got, and the weirdly delicious cracker. The songs that Bev and Mike were more than happy to belt out, the homily that had Richie looking at Eddie and Bev with a what's going on face, the rhythmic tapping of Bill's finger on Stan's thigh.
They walk out at one in the morning, pink cheeked in the cold.
"Bill, did you learn morse code or something?" Stan joked as Bill grabbed his shoulder over an ice patch.
"No, I had a song stuck in my head!" Bill explained.
Further up ahead, Mike and Bev and Ben were linked together in a line across the sidewalk.
"It's technically Christmas," Mike remarked.
"Oh, we stayed out too late! Santa will skip our house!" Bev joked.
And way behind, Richie and Eddie were holding hands for warmth and arguing about something pointless.
Technically, that's how December 24 ended, although they counted the ending of the day as the time they stumbled into the house at almost 2 in the morning, tired and excited for the next day.