“What is it you want, Eddie?” Richie looked up behind him, his eyes twinkling as he looked at Eddie on the couch behind him. “You want the moon? Just say the word and I’ll throw a lasso around it. Hey, that’s a pretty good idea. I’ll give you the moon, Eddie.” He wrapped his fingers around Eddie’s which were loosely grasping the coffee mug in his lap.
The ensuing eye roll felt only a little bit warranted. “Your Jimmy Stewart could use some work.”
“Oh come on. I do a fantastic New York accent.”
“Jimmy Stewart was from Pennsylvania, doofus. And if that was your attempt at a New York accent, please, get a day job. Because that wasn’t even close. Take it from a New Yorker.”
“You are not a New Yorker. You’re a Maine-iac just like me, asshole.”
“Did you just make that up?”
“Yeah, I don’t know where that came from, let’s just move on.”
In the background, George and Mary were learning that his father was in the hospital, the old grainy audio coming through their new-age stereo system. The multi-colored lights of their Christmas tree were reflected in the glare of Richie’s glasses as he bent over, cross-legged on the floor, sloppily wrapping a small box in crinkly paper with a loud, gaudy Santa Claus cartoon repeated in succession across its length.
“Where did you buy that fucking wrapping paper, Rich? It’s ugly as all hell.”
“It was at the dollar store.”
“Why were you at the dollar store?”
“Buying your Christmas presents, of course.” He received a kick to the side of the head in response and let out a chuckle, turning his head to bite at Eddie’s sock-covered toes.
“Ew. What the fuck? Stop that.”
“You know I like your feet. Why would you put them so close to my face?”
“If you have a foot fetish, I’m dumping you and moving back to New York.” He paused, leaning down over Richie’s shoulder. Richie turned his head and kissed his cheek, knocking his glasses askew in the process. “What is that anyway?”
“It’s one of those Fire Stick things, for my mom. You know how much trouble she has with all those streaming services and everything.”
“I know how much trouble you have with the streaming services.”
“It’s not my fault technology is a young man’s game. Besides, you’re the one who’s gonna hook it up and show her how to use it.”
“Oh goody. Some one-on-one time with Margaret.”
Richie gave a hearty laugh, before cursing under his breath as the wrapping paper sliced cruelly into his finger. “Fucking paper cut,” he muttered. Eddie grabbed his hand immediately and inspected the cut, bringing it up to eye level, and making a tsk sound with his tongue, before bringing Richie’s hand up to his lips and kissing the cut gently.
“Better?” Eddie raised an eyebrow, his lips still brushing the cut, his fingers warm around Richie’s.
“Much. Thanks, babe.” Eddie released his hand back to him and Richie jumped up, leaving his wrapping job half done. “I’m gonna make some grown up egg nog. You want some?”
Eddie gazed half-heartedly down at the half-empty, mostly cold cup of coffee in his lap and then back up. “Yeah, that would actually be nice. Put this in the sink?”
Richie agreed and took the mug, returning a few minutes later with two glasses of egg nog in his hands. He handed one off as he sat on the couch, going for an awkward, sideways position, his legs wrapping around Eddie’s middle so that he could rest his chin on his shoulder. Richie was pretty much a pro at finding the best positions to curl up to Eddie in at this point, even if they’d only officially been dating a little over a month. Eddie only welcomed it, the hand not holding the egg nog going to settle on Richie’s thigh comfortably. They went back to watching the movie for a bit, settling into the warmth of each other, Eddie eventually turning to rest back against Richie’s chest, both sprawled out across the couch, legs tangled together.
Warm tipped fingers found their way under the hem of Richie’s faded Led Zeppelin tshirt, eliciting a contented hum from his chest, eyes closing. When Eddie’s lips pressed against the underside of his jaw, he couldn’t help the laugh that bubbled up in his chest. “Are you really trying to fuck me during It’s a Wonderful Life?”
“You could always pause it…”
Richie shook his head and opened his eyes again, using his free hand to tilt Eddie’s face up to his own, kissing his lips once, chaste. “Got too much to do. Sorry, Eds.”
“Since when are you so into the whole Christmas thing?” Eddie asked with a groan and an eye roll, removing his hand from under Richie’s shirt.
He chuckled in response, pushing up. He kissed Eddie’s hair, the slightly ruffled brown strands tickling his nose. “Since I have someone so cute to celebrate with. Come on. We have so much merry making to do before tomorrow.”
“Oh god. And then so much moretomorrow…” Eddie rolled his eyes, sitting up, allowing Richie to remove himself and settle back down onto the floor. “What are we doing again?”
“My mom’s coming here for breakfast. Then Bev and Ben’s for dinner with everyone. Come on, it’ll be good. It’ll be the first time everyone’s together since, well, you know…”
“Right. Did Stan say he was coming?”
“Do you even use your phone?”
“On very special occasions.”
“Okay, well, yes. Stan is coming. He got out of the hospital last week.”
“Wow. Okay, so everyone will be together. For real.”
Richie hummed in agreement, going back to serious concentration on his present, which was now taking him much longer than the average amount of time to wrap a present, for any normal person. He huffed out a breath when the tape caught awkwardly where it didn’t belong. “Help me,” he muttered, glancing back at Eddie again, who sighed and nodded, moving down to sit with him on the floor, taking the package from him, and wrapping it effortlessly.
“God, you’re so good with your hands, baby” Richie said, watching him intently.
“You already knew that though,” Eddie responded with a smirk, pushing the present under the Christmas tree. He grabbed a book that sat beside them. The cover read How to Handle Your Changing Body. He glanced back at Richie, an eyebrow raised.
“For Ben,” Richie said, taking it from him and pulling more wrapping paper out from the roll.
“You’re awful. Do you know how to give a non-gag gift?”
“I just don’t see the fun in that, quite honestly.”
Eddie helped him to finish wrapping the presents for their friends, including the ones that they’d gone in on together – a digital writing pen for Bill, a photo album for Mike, full of old photos from their childhood and some more recent ones. There was something comforting about buying gifts for people as a couple. Something so mundane and simple about it, a symbol of their lives morphing together, becoming something new, terrifying but also exciting in the best way. It felt like trying on an old sweater. Something you forgot you had, but when you tried it on again, you’re delighted to find it fits. You can’t believe you ever forgot about it. A nice, warm, familiar sweater.
As they finished the last present, Eddie noticed Richie getting twitchy in that way that meant he was nervous about something, his fingers tapping anxiously against the floor. He reached down and put his hand over Richie’s, fingers easily fitting into the spaces between his. “So, I was actually thinking, I think I want you to open your Christmas present tonight,” Richie finally said, glancing over at him.
“Is this…is this a sex thing?” he raised an eyebrow incredulously, a frown settling on his features.
“No, it’s not,” he said quickly. Eddie’s frown only deepened in response. Something was up. Richie sounded…off.
Eddie moved back up onto the couch, taking his egg nog and polishing off the last dregs (Richie had finished his off a while ago). As he did, Richie stood up and walked over to the tree. He bent down and pulled out a gold-wrapped package, topped with an emerald green bow, carrying it over and sitting down beside him.
“Why don’t we wait until tomorrow then?” Eddie asked.
“Because I don’t know when my mom will show up. And I…I just think we should do this now. Before. You know, before we’re around other people. Just us, I mean.”
“You’re freaking me out, Rich. What the fuck? It is a sex thing, isn’t it?”
“Just open it.” He shoved the package into Eddie’s lap. It was about the size of a shoebox, but not heavy, pretty light actually.
He shook it curiously, but couldn’t get anything from the soft thud inside. “Alright, fine, but you’re not opening mine tonight,” Eddie told him firmly.
“Sure, sure. Yeah, I can wait.”
“Are you sure? My present is fucking great.”
“Just open it, Eddie. Jesus Christ, dude, you’re gonna give me an aneurysm.”
“Don’t call me dude, bro. We’ve talked about this.”
“Okay. Eds. Spaghetti. Baby. Dollface. Will you please open my present?”
Eddie simply sighed and nodded, carefully pulling the ends open, salvaging the paper as he always did. By the time he got to the box, he could practically feel Richie vibrating next to him, pressed to his side.
“This is one instance in which speed might be beneficial, Eddie,” Richie said and Eddie could hear the restlessness in his voice.
He pulled the top of the box open and pushed past a pile of green tissue paper to reveal a brown leather fanny pack. The corner of his mouth ticked up and he looked over at Richie with an exaggerated eye roll. “You’re such a loser,” he said lovingly, leaning over and pressing a kiss to his cheek. “Seriously? Why the hell did I have to open this tonight?”
Richie was blushing then. He said simply, “Open it.”
So Eddie did, unzipping the main compartment. Nestled in the soft folds inside, was a small black velvet box. His heart skipped a beat and he gulped, his throat suddenly very fucking dry. “What the hell is this?”
Richie’s hand was reaching over then, and he took the small box. He adjusted his glasses before opening it. The golden band inside glinted at him as Eddie struggled to find his breath.
“Wait, can I just…”
“Richie, I don’t think—”
“Eddie, I love you.” Eddie’s mouth closed immediately, and his eyes started to burn. He blinked quickly and shook his head. “I love you so fucking much. And I…want to spend every day of the rest of my life with you. Marry me, babe.”
“Richie, my divorce just finalized.”
“I know, that’s why—”
“That’s why you thought I would want to turn around and get hitched again?” The words came out harsh, harsher than he meant, or wanted them to be. But then they were there and he couldn’t push them back in. Didn’t work that way.
The expression that formed on Richie’s face hurt him in a way he hadn’t felt in a very long time. But then again, he couldn’t remember feeling anythingas strongly as he felt things with Richie.
“This…it’s crazy, Richie. You know that, right? I mean, proposals, like this, people don’t do this shit anymore. And for good reason. Haven’t you read the think pieces? Marriage is—it’s a big fucking decision, okay? You can’t just pop the question. Trust me. I’ve been there. I’ve made the mistake already, okay? This is…it’s something we need to talk about. Jesus fuck. I’ve been living here for like a month. We’ve been dating, what…two? We’re already moving fast. Too fast.” His head was spinning, and he clutched at the bag in his lap, the fanny pack providing a different kind of comfort, even if it wasn’t the same one. An old kind of comfort, for an old kind of anxiety.
Richie seemed to compose himself then, enough to reach out, take Eddie’s hands from the bag, leaving the ring aside. He squeezed lightly. “Eddie, baby, it’s not, though. I’ve…I’ve known you my whole fucking life. And I’ve been in love with you almost as long. It doesn’t feel too fast to me. It actually…it feels long overdue.” The look in Richie’s eyes was so pure, so honest, that Eddie could feel himself softening. He took one of his hands from Richie’s and lifted it to his cheek, gently pushing up over the light stubble on his cheek to his dark curls.
“You’re serious, aren’t you?” His voice shook slightly and his hand moved along with him when Richie nodded.
“Then where’s my diamond, asshole?”
Richie’s face flushed and he looked back down at the ring, then at Eddie again. “Oh, fuck, I didn’t think you’d—”
Eddie surged forward and collided their lips together, pushing Richie back against the couch as he found his place straddling his lap. He vaguely registered the sound of something – the ring-- dropping onto the ground.
“Fuck, I lost the ring,” Richie mumbled against his lips, his hands settling on Eddie’s hips.
“Whatever, we’ll find it,” Eddie got out between the kisses that he pressed along Richie’s jaw.
“So is this a yes? I can get you a diamond, if—”
Eddie pulled back and barked out a laugh, looking down at Richie’s eyes, scanning them quickly. “I don’t want a fucking diamond, Rich. I was kidding.”
“Oh. Oh. Okay. Ha. Ha…”
“There’s my comedian.”
“You still didn’t answer,” Richie’s shaky tone betrayed the persistent worry that still hadn’t left his voice.
“Yes. It’s a yes, asshole.”
“I love you.”
Eddie hummed against his lips. He was happy. Like really, truly happy. “I love you too.” His fingers curled into Richie’s shirt, nipping his bottom lip. “Now, where’s that Christmas spirit, Richie?”
He stood up, pulling Richie with him by his shirt. “Come on. I want to make merry upstairs.”
Richie laughed and shook his head, following along willingly. “Oh, I get it.”