Richard Tozier was stupid. He was stupid for thinking that he was through his whole "faze". He was stupid for coming back to Derry to kill It. He was stupid for leaving in the first place. But mostly he was stupid for thinking that he was over Eddie.
All the losers were supposed to be together, but when you have a scary ass clown wake up after 27 years, you sort of forget all the basic rules of survival. Richie knew that you weren't supposed to listen to Pennywise. You couldn't give in, let him get to you. He remembered that from dealing with his parents his whole childhood. If you let the fear, the panic sink in, you were done for. Richie was just so tired. Tired of having to keep secrets. Tired of living a lie. Tired of pretending to be someone he wasn't. Tired of holding on. It seemed so good to just let It take him. To just float. Forget all of the things that kept him up at night. So when It's voice started ringing in Richie's ear, he followed it. Ignoring the sounds of his friends screaming at him to come back and to not let It take him. He followed the sound and when he reached the basement of the house, he saw Pennywise.
"Hello Richie..." The clown smiled a menacing smile, showing it's razor sharp teeth.
"How nice of you to join me." It cackled, which made Richie flinch.
"Don't you want to float Richie? You won't ever have to feel alone again. No one will even know you're gone." Richie was blinking back tears but held his gaze. The clown laughed again.
"Don't you realize Richie? No one cares about you. The only reason they're here is for their own survival. They don't want to be your friend, they never did. And do you know what else Richie?" Richie shook his head, just wanting it to be over. Pennywise moved closer, again making Richie flinch backwards. He leaned in and whispered in Richie's ear.
"Eddie doesn't love you." The room shook and Richie felt himself falling. Everything was black and then he saw a blinding white light, which eventually faded into a scene. He was back at age 13, standing at the kissing bridge carving those letters into the old, rotting wood. He saw himself with a look of concentration on his face, and his dad's knife carving the R+E into the bridge. The boy turned to him when he was finished.
"What are you doing here? What happened, is something wrong?" Young Richie had recognized him immediately. Older Richie sighed and looked at the street.
"He'll never love you, you know." Young Richie looked confused.
"What do you mean?"
"I mean Eddie you dumb shit. Why would you even carve those dumb letters? God you're so stupid, why can't you realize that this is just a faze and Eddie doesn't care about you?" Younger Richie looked hurt.
"You're wrong! Don't you see? I've tried telling myself it's a faze, but that doesn't work! I'm in love with Eddie and that's never going to change. He's the only one who I'm ever going to truly feel that way about!"
"God you are so immature! Life is not a fairly tale Richie, and news flash, you don't get the boy!"
"How could you even say that! He's mine! He's my Eddie!"
"He's not! He doesn't even care about you! He's in love with someone else and he's never going to love you!"
"Shut up! SHUT! UP!" Both of them were crying now, tears streaming down their cheeks. Richie knew deep down that the younger him was right, but he couldn't bring himself to believe that.
"There's something wrong with you! With us! It's disgusting and unnatural!"
"How can you even say that to yourself! You're wrong, I know you're wrong!" Young Richie was heaving heavy sobs and his shoulders shook.
"God you're such a little f-f..." Richie doubled over on the concrete and shook. His was shaking and crying and he couldn't stop. Why couldn't he say it? What was wrong with him?
"You're disgusting, a freak." Richie whispered to himself through the tears. He was sobbing so loudly that he almost didn't hear his name.
"Richie! Richie please! Come back!" Richie opened his eyes. The scene around him was slowly fading and young Richie was gone. He suddenly remembered where he was. Then he heard the voice again.
"Richie!" It was Eddie. He followed the voice, and the blinding white light faded into color. He blinked slowly and he saw Eddie standing in front of him. There was blood spattered all over his t-shirt.
"Eddie." He whispered.
"Richie oh my god I thought you were dead and that he had killed you holy shit do you know how hard that clown is to kill? Jesus!"
"Eddie you're rambling." Richie had a small smile on his face. Usually rambling was his thing.
"Sorry." Eddie looked at the ground. "So uh... what was going on?" Richie's eyes widened. Had he heard all of that? He started panicking and his breathing turned shallow. His vision went hazy and he realized he was going into a panic attack.
"Richie? Richie I- fuck what do I do?" Eddie was pacing the floor and trying to calm his best friend down. Then he remembered when he used to get panic attacks that when people put their hand on his shoulder and told him to follow their voice and breathing, it usually helped.
"Richie? Hey Rich, listen to my voice okay? It's going to be alright just focus on the sound of my voice. I'm going to touch you okay? He reached his hand out and gently placed it on Richie's shoulder. He flinched, but barely.
"Breathe with me Richie. Copy my breathing." Slowly Richie started to breathe normally and his vision was clearer. He didn't even know he was crying again until Eddie brushed his thumb over his cheek.
"Hey don't cry it's okay, I'm here. I've got you." Eddie pulled Richie into a hug and Richie buried his face into Eddie's shoulder and sobbed. Eddie ran his hand slowly up and down Richie's back and shh'ed him.
"We killed him. He's gone Chee, you're safe." Richie slowly pulled away.
"I'm sorry Eds, there's something wrong with me."
"Richie there's nothing wrong with you. You are amazing and..."
"Stop it! Just, stop it." Richie's voice lowered. "I have to tell you something. When It had me under it's control, I saw something. I saw myself when I was younger doing something that I hadn't though about since I left Derry. I..." Richie broke off and looked down. "I'm sorry Eddie, I'm so so sorry."
Eddie was confused. "Rich, what're you talking about?"
"I- Eddie, I like boys. And like, not just all boys. One in particular." Eddie's heart fluttered, and then sank again.
"Oh." Richie's face contorted into a one of shame and sadness.
"You hate me, don't you?" He said.
"What? Richie I could never hate you! You're my best friend in the whole wide world and nothing could ever change that. Besides, how could I hate you when I like boys too?" Richie's head jerked up so fast he thought it might snap off.
"I said, I like boys. I'm gay Richie." Eddie had a small smile on his face. "That's why I divorced Myra."
"Wait, you divorced her?"
"Mhmm. I told her I couldn't be married to someone when I was in love with someone else."
"Wait, who do you love?" Richie's eyebrows creased together.
"God Richie, you're so stupid."
"Hey! Look who flunked 11th grade math Eddie spaghetti!"
"That was your fault! You made me hang out with you guys and have a sleepover instead of studying for the final! Anyways, that's not what I'm talking about."
"Well who is it then?"
"Seriously Richie? You don't know?"
"No, what're you talking about?" Eddie paused. He contemplated doing what he was about to do for a moment before whispering,
"Chee? Can you... can you close your eyes?" Richie did. Eddie moved forward until he had to go cross eyed to look at Richie's glasses. He leaned in until his face was just centimeters from Richie's. Suddenly, Richie opened his eyes.
"Eds?" He asked, surprised. Finally Eddie got up the courage and moved that last inch forward and pressed his lips to Richie's. Richie was stunned for a moment before he closed his eyes and wrapped his arms around Eddie's waist. He felt like his whole body was on fire and that he wouldn't be able to breathe when Eddie let go. Eddie pulled Richie's face closer to his and deepened the kiss. After what felt like seconds and hours at the same time, Eddie pulled away. Immediately, for the third time that day, Richie started crying.
"Richie, what's wrong? Oh no should I not have done that? Oh god I'm so sorry Rich." Eddie had a look of panic across his face. Richie sniffled and wiped his eyes.
"I've been wanting to do that for too long. You have no idea. God Eddie, I've been in love with you since I was 11." He laughed and it came out as more of a broken sob. Eddie smiled.
"Richie, I've been in love with you since before I even met you."
"That's not possible Eds."
"You know what I mean." Eddie rolled his eyes. "I'm just sorry I couldn't get up the courage to tell you sooner."
"I love you Eddie , so so much."
"I love you too Richie."
"God I can't believe it took us almost 40 years to do this." Richie was shaking his head and laughing. "We are so stupid."
Eddie pulled Richie into another kiss. "I love you, you big weirdo."
"I love you too Eddie spaghetti."
"Don't call me that!" Richie grinned and got a mischievous look in his eye.
"Oh yeah? What if I... tickle you!" He moved towards Eddie who screamed in delight and started running away from Richie who chased him all the way to the quarry where they fell on the grass and Richie started to tickle him all over.
R-rich, stop i-it! I c-can't breathe!" He was laughing and Richie was grinning down at him.
"Ok, ok I'll stop. He leaned down from where he was positioned over Eddie and had pinned his wrists to the ground, and kissed him softly.
"Hey, let's go find the others. They're probably freaking out about what happened to us." Eddie nodded and stood up. He brushed the dirt from his t-shirt and watched as Richie ran off, shouting,
"Race ya!" Eddie smiled and watched Richie run down the street the way they'd came. Yeah, they were going to be okay.