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I Believe in Happy Endings

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     As the children made their blood pact, Maturin realized that his eternal life was coming to an end very soon. He gazed at the hibernating being they called IT and thus he had decided. With the last of his strength, he sent each child a bit of his essence. This bit would allow them one moment that they otherwise would not have. With a heavy sigh, Maturin closed his eyes and hoped that it was enough.

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     Well, Richie thinks to himself glumly at the bar, that's it then. His career as a comic was over. It had been an open mic night in Atlanta, Georgia. He had been trying to get away from the LA scene and gain some experience, but it seemed that he had only gained a hefty dent in his wallet and his pride. He had been booed off more stages than he could count, but no one was telling him why his jokes weren't landing. So, here he was, drinking down the last of his money with salt and a lime. "Well, you're not funny, but you are cute." A strange voice cut through the haze of alcohol and cigarettes and Richie looked up, meeting the deep blue eyes of the man speaking to him. With a pout, Richie replied, "I prefer to think that I'm having a bad night. I'm usually hilarious and devilishly handsome." With a small chuckle, the man put his hands on Richie's waist. "If you dance with me, I'll but you another drink to drown your sorrows." Stumbling off his barstool, Richie headed towards the dance floor. They had a good time, dancing and drinking. Richie had several more shots as the night went on, his mind going in and out of counciousness, which proved to be a problem as the bar had last call. Richie's head was spinning and he was confused; they had been dancing inside, but now his back was against an alley wall and he felt the wind in his face. "What's goin' on?" He slurred out, but a mouth covered his and something was wrong. 

     Suddenly, the wind was back on his face and the man who had been kissing him was found on the ground. A tall man with curly hair standing menacingly over him as a smaller girl with dark hair led a police officer over. "Hey, are you okay?" And Richie smiled because he knew that voice, even if he didn't know the name. With the last of his strength, he fell into the man's arms.

     Stanley had not expected his night to go like this. Patty and he were just out celebrating both of their promotions as it means they would finally be able to move in together, when he had seen a tall, lanky man with dark, curly hair being basically dragged outside. After the unpleasantness was taken care of (and he could have married Patty right then for having the prescence of mind to get a police officer), he had his arms full with a very drunk, very clingy adult man who kept mumbling something about him "being the man." After several minutes of trying to get a hotel out of the man, as Patty went inside to pay tabs and whatnot, he finally got the name of the place he was staying. With a quick goodbye to Patty, Stan spilled them both into a taxi and tipped the driver in advance so that they would get there quickly. The drunk man had his body wrapped around Stan's. His legs straddled Stan's waist and his face was tucked into Stan's neck. Normally, Stan wasn't a very touchy person, but tonight it was a little different (something he quickly wrote off as an effect of the alcohol). After half an hour in Atlanta traffic, the drunk man showed Stan he was awake by licking a stripe across his neck. With a curse, Stan dumped the man off his lap into the floor of the taxi.

     Although he was in an awkward position, the drunk man laughed before pulling himself back onto the seat. "Sorry. I'm a little handsy when I'm drunk. Though, I feel like you should know that since we're in a taxi together." With a roll of his eyes, Stan explained what had happened. After he finished, he was met with an, "Oh. Thanks man. You're the man." Stan rolled his eyes again as they approached the hotel. "I'll help you get upstairs." Stan was met with a large smile and a southern accent, "My oh my. What a gentleman." 

     "Are you in town to be a shitty impressionist?" Stan asked, letting the man sling an arm around his waist as they headed towards the elevator. "No," he replied with a small huff of breath, "I'm in town to be a failed stand-up comic." He explained to Stan all of his failures as they travelled up to his room. With only a slight hesitation, Stan asked, "Do you want me to watch your set and give you some advice?" Stan wasn't sure why, but he really enjoyed this drunk's smile.

     Stan listened to the entire set, writing his notes on a small notepad on the desk in the hotel room. When the drunk had finished, Stan patted him on the back. "I think we can fix this." And so they worked on it until the drunk had fallen asleep sitting up. Stan left his notes and, because no one would know, kissed the drunk man on the forehead before heading back to his place.

     Richie wakes up with a raging hangover that begins with him racing towards the toilet and barely making it. As he heads back to bed, he catches sight of the aspirin and water on the nightstand. He indulges before reading the note that was also left, allowing it to fill him in on what had happened when he had been blacked out last night. Amazed at the advice on the notepade (though a bit peeved at the request to stop drinking), Richie rewrote his set before his final show in Atlanta. What followed was the break he was looking for. He started getting paid to do his comedy, in LA even, so that's where he moved. When he got down on himself, he relooked at the note he kept in his wallet (and late at night, he sometimes traced the SU that had been scratched at the bottom) and found comfort in a stranger's words. Although it was hard, he also kept his drinking to the very minimum, feeling like he owed his stranger that much.

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     In growing her fashion empire, Beverly found herself travelling a lot. Of course, now that she was engaged, her fiance also expected to come. That's how she found herself holding an aching cheek in an alley in LA.

     She had finished a contract with a major player in the fashion game, so Tom had insisted on celebrating. They went out to enjoy the nightlife in LA. Bev loved being able to dance and drink and meet new people, but she should have known that Tom wouldn't appreciate her straying away from him. She had made a few new friends- a pair of boyfriends and their lesbian roommate- when Tom reappeared at her side. "Bevvie," he began, placing a hand on her waist, "I need a smoke break. Come with me." Now, on any normal night, Bev would have known something was up immediately. Tom didn't like smoking, but between her good mood and the excellent vodka cranberries, she let herself be led outside with a wave goodbye to the people she was speaking to. Tom led them outside the bar, in an empty alley that shouldered a comedy club. With a smile, she tried to take advantage of their solitude by stealing a kiss, but the smile was literally slapped off her face by the back of Tom's hand. With a muffled cry, Bev fell back against the alley wall, her head reeling as it tried to take in Tom's slap, as well as the speech he was giving now. Of course, she had been called worse names before and she was no stranger to getting hit, but she had been having such a good time and she was just tipsy enough to be confused instead of meek, so Tom hit her again. This is when a shout was heard and Bev saw Tom get tackled by a large man in all black. "Holy shit, are you okay?" Standing before her was a good-looking comedian, one she recognized, but she couldn't make remember his name.

     "I-what?" The comedian smiles at her, distracting her from the sounds of a fight happening further in the alley. "Sergio is handling the guy who hit you, but it would be remiss of me not to check on a lady." With a mischievous grin, he pulled out a pack of cigarettes and offered her one, slipping into a southern voice, "It wouldn't be good manners not to offer a woman in distress a cigarette." Still a bit fuzzy from the hit, Bev managed a small giggle as she hesitantly took one from the pack. The comedian snatched it from her fingers, "Ah, ah, ah. Pretty girls don't light their own cigarettes," he said before lighting hers and handing it back. With a small smile that grew bigger as the cigarette grew smaller, Bev allowed herself to be comforted and humoured as Sergio set Tom to rights. As they ground out their cigarettes, Sergio brought Tom back to the couple. "Ma'am, would you like me to call the police?" Beverly truly allowed herself to look at Tom. He was covered in blood and his face was bruised almost beyond recognition. With a smirk, she pulled the engagement ring off her finger and handed it to Tom. "Thank you Sergio, but I'm okay. That should cover him finding a new place tonight." With a final glare, Bev stared at the man she had almost made her husband. "Goodbye Tom." As Sergio hustled Tom away and out of the alley, she split one more cigarette with the comedian before calling a cab. Before she steps in, she hugs the man tight to her and whispers her thanks in his ear. With a small smile, the comedian hands her his pack of cigarettes and a lighter with a turtle on it. "Stay safe beautiful."

     And she does. Beverly's fashion empire grows and grows (and Tom Rogan ends up dead in a ditch because he was deeply unpleasant to the wrong person) and she doesn't keep anyone in her bed for more than a few months. She just knows in her heart of hearts that she's waiting on someone (or someones).

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     Eddie loves driving. He always feels free as he does it (though he feels especially free when he has no clients and he can roll down the windows). At the moment, he's in front of a fancy looking Merriot, waiting on fashion designer Beverly Marsh. He's seen her work and it's so much fun. It reminds him of his childhood. It can go to dark, brash colors to soft pastels in an instant. Eddie is very lucky that Beverly knew which car to get into or he would have missed her. She was small (still taller than him, but not by much) with a shock of red hair that was cut above her ears. He had been expecting a fashionista, but instead he opened the car door for someone in grey yoga pants and a hoodie. As he settled himself into the driver's seat and began their journey, he asked her about it. "Are you starting a new athletic wear line?" Beverly looked down at her outfit and laughed. "No, but I might now." She smiled at him from the backseat, "They always do wardrobe, hair, and makeup at the venue. I'm not sure why they always do it that way, but it does cut down on people recognizing me." After that, they fell into an easy chat about everything she loved about New York (it's always so bright and there's always food) to what she hated (too many people) and whatnot. Ten minutes away from the venue, Beverly quickly demanded Eddie to whip into a parking lot. Without hesitation, Eddie whipped into the lot of a donut shop. With a waggle of her eyebrows, Beverly said she would be right back with the best donuts she had found in the city. With a smile still on his face as Eddie watched her walk into the store, he didn't look at the caller ID and just answered his phone.

     Myra was an unhappy woman, Eddie thought to himself as he listened to her many complaints. At the moment, she was complaining about work, but Eddie knew it was only a matter of time before she started in on him. As Eddie watched Beverly walk back to the car, he asked Myra again to please call him back later, but that never worked before and it didn't work now. Eddie frowned as he realized the nice conversation he had been having with Beverly was surely done now. Beverly got in the front seat, holding the bag triumphantly with a large smile that turned into a frown as she listened to Eddie's conversation (of course Eddie would never have put Myra on speaker, but she spoke so loud it was easy for Bev to eavesdrop) on their way to the venue. 

     "God Eddie, I can't believe you thouht a pink bowtie would be appropriate for our wedding! Do you want people to think my husband is gay? Do you want people to think you're a loser?" And on and on it went. Eddie's eyes never left the road, but his breathing became a wheezier and wheezier as his own fiancee drove him to a panic attack. "Bitch." He heard from beside him before Beverly's hand wrapped around his phone and hung it up. With her other hand, she tore the glovebox apart looking for, and finally finding, an inhaler that she handed to him. Eddie sucked from his aspirator with a relieved breath as Beverly gently patted his leg. "I'm not sure if anyone's ever told you this, but it's not okay that she talks to you like that." With a snap, Eddie parked the car in front of the venue. "Myra loves me," he said, looking Beverly desperately in the eyes. With a straight face, Bev replied, "Do you speak to her like that?" And with that question, the fight sank out of Eddie, because of course he didn't. They sat in front of the venue and talked for over 30 minutes. Beverly told Eddie about her own toxic relationship and how a stranger had helped save her. When Eddie later opens the car door for her, Beverly wraps him in a tight hug and tells him to stay strong. With a wave goodbye, he watches her walk into the venue and promises them both that he would.

     Eddie's work friends were relieved when he called off the wedding. He was ecstatic as he took to wearing whatever the fuck he wanted, including little pink running shorts designed by Beverly Marsh. He has a lot to thank Beverly for. No awful marriage, and his boss ended up promoting him because of the business Beverly's positive reviews generated.

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     Ben fucking hates New York. He’s only here because of some big meeting that will get him the funding to make at least one of his community centers back in Chicago. Don’t bother with getting a rental my ass, he thought. So many people say it’s impossible to get lost in the Big Apple, but all of the streets look the same and there are people everywhere and he’s tall and big (in the right way) now, but he still feels surrounded by the crowd and it seems like it's closing in and he feels himself starting to panic, when a small hand gently touches his arm. He looks down at a short, handsome man in a black hoodie and pink running shorts (holy shit his legs seem long for such a short guy). "You look like I did the first time I walked around in New York. Are you lost?" This is all said in rapid-fire, but Ben manages to nod. He tells the small man where he needs to go and with a smile, the small man begins to lead him there. On the walk over, they discuss what Ben is doing in New York in the first place ("I'm attending a meeting with a bunch of big whigs who will hopefully give me funding to build my community center back in Chicago") and why what he's doing is important ("when I was growing up, I moved around a lot, but I never moved to a place that had a lot of resources to help me academically or socially. I managed to go to college on a track scholarship, but that can't happen for everyone. Plus, if my mom had had more resources, maybe our lives would have been healthier, physically and emotionally"). As they arrive at the office building (that looks exactly like all the other office buildings, Ben thinks bitterly), he turned to his companion with a smile. "Thank you so much. I literally couldn't have done this without you." He goes to pull out his wallet, but the man looks affronted. "Do you think I'm going to take money from a man trying to do good in this world?" He spits out angrily with a glare that should belong on someone much larger. With a small smile, Ben reaches to shake his hand instead, but finds himself hugged (home, he thinks, though he's not sure why). With a wave goodbye, Ben walks into the office building and nails it.

     Later, as Ben speaks to the press (and the news vans who want to pick up his story), he smiles as he remembers the kindness of the stranger who helped him. "I was lost in New York when a stranger helped me find where I needed to go. Without him, I certainly would have missed my meeting and wouldn't have the honor of speaking to all of you. As a child, I had very little help from schools or other resources because I constantly moved. I had one group of friends for about three months," here, he pauses with a confused look on his face before continuing, "but small scraps of help are not what the kids I'm trying to help deserve. With the help of this non-profit, I will be personally designing and building Clubhouses across the United States that are specifically designed to help those children, and their parents, who may not find help anywhere else. There will be academic help and social support for the children. For the parents, there will be parenting classes, as well as resources and counselours who can help families get food, jobs, and housing. Our greatest duty in life is to our children and I shall help them." Ben looks into the cameras with a grim determination, not realizing the extent of his vow, before walking away.

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    Sometimes, in his deepest heart, Mike wishes to have been killed by IT instead of left in Derry to rot. Everywhere he looks he is reminded of his friends, but knows that once you leave the town, your memories are also gone. He spends his day working at the library, but also helps the Derry Historical Society, doing his own research on the side as well. He thinks constantly of who would miss him if he was dead (a resounding no one, he thinks with a sigh).

     One Saturday afternoon, Mike is drunk in his living room (he misses the farm, the feeling of home, with an ache that starts in his heart and extends to his entire being). The clock says it is barely 5, but Mike feels like it's 3 am. His limbs feel heavy, as does his head. He feels tired to his bones. The Ritual of Chud, the supposed end-all-be-all to defeating IT was a failure. He was a failure. The worst part is that his friends would not even remember that he had failed. They would be out in the world, completely unprepared for when IT came back. Not that that matters, Mike thought glumly. His friends had forgotten he had ever existed and that hurt worse than any injury he had gotten from the clown or Henry Bowers. Mike felt tears slipping down his cheeks, but he made no move to wipe them off. Instead, he reached for the bottle sitting innocently on his coffee table. Xanax, a benzodiazepine, something that he shouldn't mix with the bottle of malt liquor he had already consumed. He chucked darkly as he recalled that he was prescribed these by a doctor with dead eyes after having a breakdown (whoever thought a travelling circus with clowns stopping through Derry was a good idea was an idiot. In the mood he's in now, Mike wishes the police would have shot him for almost murdering a clown that had terrified a small child). He gently shook the bottle and heard the rattle of the pills. It was almost completely full. He had just begun opening the bottle when a news bulletin with a familiar voice caused him to look at the television. With a hand pressed against his mouth, Mike dropped the bottle and his tears turned to those of joys. He was seeing Ben. Ben who mentioned a group of friends, but seemed confused. Mike realizes he's not gone and forgotten, not truly, not forever.

     On Sunday morning, the sewers in Derry gained several Xanax after Mike flushed them down the toilet. Early risers gossiped about how the young librarian had taken to running every morning with such a grim look on his face. He looked like he was on a mission. Mike would agree with them. He is not forgotten and therefore he has not forgotten his mission. He is the warning system. He is responsible for warning the other Losers when IT is back and he will be ready. 

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    Bill enjoys the cold and wet of Augusta, Maine. It feels like home in a way that London never could. Audra hates it of course. Just like she hates that they’re on a book tour, instead of worrying about his movie release. Bill enjoys this much more though. People who are fans of his work, not her acting, are the ones who come to his book signings. He loves hearing his fans opinions, even if some of them are a little hurtful. It’s nice to see those whose faces light up as they speak to him about what his writing has done for him. He thinks he understands Audra because they’re the same. They both want to be thought of as important. He feels like he used to know with certainty what his place was in the world, but as he grows older he becomes more unsure. That’s why he lets Audra run the show. She wants to be important, and she feels important when she’s in the spotlight (the real reason she hates his book signings). Many of his fans never even look at her, they’re all for him. And he feels selfish, but he really likes it that way. Bill wishes he hadn’t let Audra convince him to change the ending for the movie. It doesn’t feel right to him. She’s chattering on her phone a few stacks away to her agent. His cheeks are red because he can hear her from so far away talking about how she hates Maine and hates that he couldn’t change the ending of the book for his signing so that it matched the movie and she hates hates hates. What Bill hates is the amount of fans who come up to him with soft eyes and pitiful glances. He hates pity more than Audra hates Maine, he thinks as he looks up to the next customer and stops short. A tall black man built like a truck is standing in front of him with a look on his face that makes his cheeks hot from something different than embarrassment.

     "Hello." The man says with a perfect smile. Bill smiles back, awe-struck," H-h-hello," he stutters out. He frowns in irritation; the stutter hadn't popped up in years, why now? The stranger has a strangely gentle laugh that he gifts to Bill, whose face turns back into a smile. "I like the ending of your book much more than the movie ending. It's realistic and haunting, as opposed to the sticky, sanguine happy ending that was added to the movie." With a darkening blush, Bill realizes Audra must have been complaining about the ending again. "Thank you very much," he says without stuttering as he signs the man's book. With a subtle nod towards Audra, the stranger shoots him a wink. "You're the author you know. You can create whatever ending you want." Bill watches the stranger walk away (hates to see him go, but...) and thinks on his words for the rest of the book signing. On the way back to the hotel, Audra tells him all about how her agent explained how they could cut his book tour short and go back to London without losing any face. With a sigh, he texts a friend who had recently gone through a divorce for the name of his lawyer. I will have that happy ending, he thinks to himself.

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    Stan has been staring at Patty for the past fifteen minutes after the phonecall. Patty is just lounging on the couch, absent-mindedly eating chips as she watches a game show in her pajamas and a facemask. Stan has thought for years that Patty was his best friend (a distinction that upset both of their parents until their deaths), but he had a rush of new memories into his head. He remembered everything. The Loser’s Club and all its members and he wanted desperately to smile, but with their return came the return of IT. Stan did not think he could do this. No, he knew he could not, so he knew what he must do.

    “Patty, I’m going to take a bat-” but, before he could get the words out, the doorbell rang. “Stanley, go get the door. I would scare them away with my alien face.” With a nod of acknowledgement, Stan went and opened the door. With a jolt of shock, he realized he knew the man standing at his door. With a smile that hadn’t changed from its youth, Bill Denbrough pulled Stan into a tight hug. “Mike was worried about you, so he called me to come check on you. I had a book signing in Atlanta, so it wasn’t very far at all.” Stan could not handle two shocks of the night and did what he did when he panicked; he froze.

    Now, Patty may not have known how to deal with that as she had only been living with Stan since he became an adult (and in those years, Stan did not panic or act like a man who was anxious), but Bill had known Stan for a very long time, though it had been a long time since he had seen him. Bill brought Stan inside to the living room, offering a polite hello to Patty and a short explanation (“some of Stan’s old friends from school are getting together, but so is a bully of his. Made Stan’s life a living Hell he did”). Patty left them alone, clearly wanting to give Stan space to decompress. And so they sat there, Bill filling the air with his story of what he’d been up to in the 27 years since they had last fought an evil alien.

    Finally, Bill took Stan’s hand. “We’re doing this. Together.” And when Stan choked out, “I remember everything. We came so close to losing our lives,” Bill squeezed his hand a little tighter,” Then remember, we won. And we’ll do it again.” And because this was Bill he was talking to, Stanley believed.

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    Now the fight with IT was not all rainbows and sunshine, even if the Losers had an extreme advantage IT had not seen coming. Richie, fresh and sober for several years, was comfortable in his own skin in a way he never could have been as a teenager (the way he immediately began hitting on all of the Losers at the Golden Lotus for example). Beverly, strong and confident, had no bruises and was not looking over her shoulder for someone who would hate to see her being with friends (whether they were laughing, smoking, or flirting in this case). Eddie, though still a fast-talker who was easily irritated with a loud set of pipes, wasn’t taking any medicine whatsoever and didn’t feel the need to (though of course he still had a fanny pack, Trashmouth, it never hurts to be prepared). Ben, quietly confident, knew that he was where he was meant to be- helping his friends as they had helped him, both in the past as children and their memory which gave him a purpose in life. Mike, a man who didn’t just guess, but knew, that their combined power would defeat IT once and for all. Bill, who fell back into the leader role so easily because that’s where he wanted to be, so he took it. And Stan. Stan who was alive and well and ready to end a reign of terror.

    Of course, IT didn’t just roll over and die. Eddie still ended up being stabbed in the face. Mike was almost stabbed before Richie put an axe into Henry Bowers. Bill was still devastated by the loss of Dean. But, when the Losers entered Neibolt House, Eddie valiantly defended Richie. When the Ritual of Chud didn’t work, Mike’s friends didn’t immediately blame him or leave each other. When IT tried to pierce Eddie with a giant pincer, Stan was there to push Eddie and Richie out of the way. And as the Losers gathered around the shrinking form of the clown, covered in greywater and slime, they smiled vicious smiles because they knew they were victorious. As IT’s heart was crushed between their hands, they threw back their heads and laughed, blood and mud staining their teeth and hands, but no longer their hearts.

    And as their memories recovered, so did their feelings for one another. They weren’t sure who the first to kiss was after they crawled out of the sewer, so they settled on it being a three-way tie (Stan and Bill, Richie and Eddie, and Beverly and Ben), with everyone kissing Mike as second. For a few months, they tried long distance, but it had been years and they were tired of being apart. So they settled on living in Los Angeles. Everyone could find work there (not that they all needed to work, but it’s the principle of the thing), the weather was lovely, and LA didn’t look at them weird when they all went out together. They constantly touched each other and were always looking at each other. They never hid their relationships with each other. They had fought too much to ever give up again.

    Richie continued rocking stand-up, eventually working on his own Netflix special, as well as a show. Beverly continued growing her fashion empire and was a name that was constantly mentioned on red carpets. Eddie started a new branch of his driving company. Although he was the head, he still made an effort to drive some (he would never give up something he loved again). Ben continued his efforts in putting his Clubhouses in impoverished neighborhoods across the States with the loving support of his partners; with Richie and Beverly’s help, several celebrities donated time and money to his project. Mike, although he still loved visiting the library, decided he was tired of books. He got a job as a tour guide for the natural history museum. He was happy telling others of history, as opposed to searching through it for the solutions to his problems. Bill continued writing books, though he also enjoyed the odd TV show now and again (though he was always very firm in his contracts. His endings were not to be changed). Stan was an excellent accountant who never missed leaving work at 5. His family always had dinner together (even if someone traveled, they always called in while they ate). The Losers were happy and somewhere, so was the Turtle.