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The One with 5 Steaks and 2 Eggplants

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Stanley Uris came from old money, kind of, he was always middle class but being from a traditional Jewish family, he was more upper-middle class. That’s not to say Stan got everything he could ever want, because that was far from the truth, his family had money, his family didn’t spend money.

That’s why he went into accounting. It was a stable job that made stable money. He could be well off on his own with his salary, and his whole job was managing other people’s money, so he was good with his own. Of course, when he chose to work a stable paying job, he didn’t take into account the high paying jobs of his partners.

“Okay, while Richie is on the phone, everyone owes me 650 bucks for his birthday” Ben whispers as he sits down on the coffee table in their shared living room. Bev and Bill were snuggled up in the love seat dozed off, while Mike, Stan, and Eddie were spread across the couch. Richie was on the phone in the kitchen with his manager.

Upon hearing the amount Stan’s back stiffened and his eyes bugged out of his head, he felt Mike and Eddie stiffen on either side of him too. Clearly as appalled as him about the price

“Um, is, is there any chance that you’re rounding up? You know, like from, like 20?” Mike offered, his voice not flowing in it’s usual, Mike-way.

“Hey, come on, we got the gift, the concert, and the cake” Ben defended, moving from his spot on the table to sit on the arm of the love seat, absentmindedly beginning to play with Bev's hand

“Do we need a cake?” Stan offered, trying to drop it in his usual deadpan sense of humor, but he was being completely serious. At this point he’d been able to start running the calculations and so far all he came up with was that he didn’t exactly have 650 bucks to share right now. Sure the losers helped each other out every once and awhile, pitching money together when it came to stuff for the house, but other than that they were mostly all financially independent.

Stan worked hard for his Honda CR-V, he paid the insurance and everything. He would have preferred to maybe get a more luxury car, like Eddie’s Audi, or Ben’s LandRover, but on top of the 300 he spent every 7 weeks at the grocery store, the 7,000 dollars it costed to rent a 6 bedroom house in the hills, the 70 he spent on gas per week (because their house was conveniently located on the other side of the city from his office) and 1000 dollars he paid his therapist a month, he could barely afford to think about a new car. Much less 650 bucks for Richie’s birthday.

He was sure to Richie, Ben, Bill, and Bev, (who made the most, in that order), 650 dollars is practically pocket change, or at least an easy loss. But to Eddie, Stan, and Mike (who made the least, in that order), 650 dollars was their gas money for the next 2.3 months. Stan’s panic was translating over into his movements, he could feel it, as he gave into the need to tap lightly on his thigh, one-two, one-two, one-two.

Mike and Eddie didn’t seem to look much better, Mike’s usually calm exterior was cracking, and Eds was visibly annoyed, which was usual, but nevertheless it was enough to promote Ben’s response. “Look guys, I know it’s a little steep.”

“Yeah, whoosh” Eddie snapped, flinging his hand up.

“But it’s Richie”

“It’s Richie” Mike sighed.

“All right” Stan finally said as he swallowed the lump in his throat, he could figure out where to get 650 dollars from, for himself, Eddie, and Mike. He was an accountant after all. His two boyfriends next to him, visibly relaxed at his silence conformation to help them find the money.

“I’ll see you guys later, I gotta conference call” Ben said, standing up, planting a kiss on Bill and Bev’s foreheads, before giving Stan, Mike, and Eddie each a kiss on the check.

“That reminds me, I need to go pick up some fabric samples from the office,” Bev said, waking up, and getting up off of Bill, who also had to get on a conference call about a new book or movie or something. They each kissed them goodbye as they left the living room.

“So uh, what are you guys doing for dinner tonight?” Eddie asked as he slumped back against the coach. Normally they’d order take out, or Mike would cook something, but the idea of even touching the expensive food that lined their cabinets destroyed their appetites.

“Well I guess I gotta start saving up for Richie’s birthday, so I guess I’ll just sit upstairs and eat dust bunnies.” Stan deadpanned, he inwardly cringed after he remembered that he was the one that was supposed to figure that out.

“Can you believe how much this is gonna cost?” Mike sighed, running his head over his head.

“Do you guys ever get the feeling that um, Ben and those guys just don’t get that we don’t make as much money as they do? Like not all of us have Netflix specials and best sellers with movie adaptations.” Eddie promoted

“And real estate monopolies,”

“And luxury fashion brands,”

“Ugh” they all collectively sighed as they threw their heads back against the coach cushions. Stan would have been impressed by their coordination if not for the headache he had from running the numbers in his head.

“It’s like they’re always saying ‘let’s go here, let’s go there.’ Like we can afford to go here and there.” Stan muttered.

“Yeah, and it’s, and we always have to go to, you know, someplace nice, you know?” It was obvious Mike was talking out of his head without giving his words much thought at this point, cause Stan had to run the sentence through his brain a couple times to get his point.

But it seemed like Eddie was riding the same waves length, “God, and it’s not like we can say anything about it, ‘cause, like this birthday thing, it’s for Richie”

“For Richie” Stan agreed

“For Richie, Richie, Richie” Mike mumbled.

A little while later, Richie joined them in the living room, choosing to lay across their laps instead of in the love seat, his head on Eddie’s lap, and his feet on Mike’s, Stan was tapping a soft pattern into his side, light enough for it not to tickle. It wasn’t his nervous or panicked pattern, because that would alert Richie to a problem, seeing as Richie was the only loser who managed to memorize and be able to distinguish between Stan’s seemingly nonsense tapping. They had all calmed down quite a bit since their conversation with Ben. Stan supposed Richie’s laid back presents had something to do with it.

“Oh my god”

Bill’s standing at the bottom of the stands with a face splitting grin on his face. His hand is in his hair as if he’s in shock. It takes Stan’s breath away for a minute, to see his boyfriend so happy.

“Hey,” Eddie says after a minute of everyone staring at Bill, Richie not sitting up in Stan’s lap.

“Hi” the comedian offers.

“What’s up?” Mike finishes.

“Sony picked up a new book. They picked up a book, they approved a script, they liked an ending. And guess who the author was !” Bill exclaimed.

“If it’s not you, this is a horrible story.” Stan deadpanned

“Fortunately, it’s me” He did a little bow and Richie bolted up from his seat and jumped over the coach to hug Bill.

“Congrats dude, this is huge! Finally an ending !” Richie was jumping around in his usual Richie fashion, everyone was smiling ear to ear at the news. Normally when one of Bill’s books gets picked up it’s more of a stressful storm as he rushes to write a thousand and one different endings for the studio. “We should go out and celebrate. You know, someplace nice.”

Eddie, Mike, and Stan deflated.

Stan was the first to recover, “Yeah, someplace nice.”
“How much do you think I can get for my kidney?” Eddie hissed to Mike.

“Sounds good, I’ll text Bev and she when she’ll get back, but let’s shoot for say 6?” Bill said, pulling out his phone.

“Got it, I’ll call and make reservations.” Richie offered, grinning already.

“Um, don’t think so Trashmouth, we’re not repeating last time.” Ben remarked as he made his way down the stairs to stand next to Bill and kissed him quickly, “I’ll make the reservations, go freshen up.”

“Hey Eddie, do you wanna go get ready in my room ? I had a couple questions about that work you did on my car. “ Stan lied as he began to get head towards the stairs .

“Yeah, of course. Mike, didn’t you have a question about the farm’s tractor engine?” Eddie extended the lie to Mike.

“Yeah, I did, I’ll just get ready in Stan’s room too then.” Mike said following the two men up.

“Okay, guess I’ll just use Bill’s room then” Richie called up the stairs, seeing as Stan and Richie shared a room.

“So what are we gonna do?” Eddie asked as soon as the door closed.

“I don’t know”

“Well where could we afford to pull 650 dollars from?” Mike asked this time

“I don’t know”

“Well what about money for tonight” Eddie.
“I don’t know”

“Do you think we have enough saved anywhere to cover it?” Mike.

“I don’t know”

“What about rent ? That’s due in two weeks” Eddie.

“I don’t know”

“Stan, what about groceries? you’re up this week.” Mike.

“I don’t know”

“Jesus Christ! Well what do you know ? You’re supposed to be a damn accountant for God sakes !” Eddie snapped

“Just shut the fuck up and let me think” Stan yelled. He didn’t know if anyone else in the house could hear it, and he didn’t really give a damn. He was overwhelmed with the math and reasoning he was trying to do, on top of Mike and Eddie’s constant questions, and the stress of it all. He collapsed in his desk chair and put his head to the cool surface.

The other two were silent, they both knew it was better to leave him alone when he was overwhelmed then try to comfort him and have it go wrong.

A couple minutes went by before he spoke again, not lifting his head from the desk. “Would you two be able to survive a week on what the other’s eat?”

A “what” came from behind him in Eddie’s voice, but he made no move to look at him.

“If we can go a week eating the other’s food and not buying anything for ourselves that about 130 saved for me. And if we each do that in our weeks, not buy for us three, then we each save 130. Since we don’t go consecutively either it’ll only have to be every couple of weeks.”

“Do you think the other’s will mind?” Mike, the considerate one.

“Only people who I can think would notice if some of their chips were gone are Richie and Eddie.” promoting a soft ‘hey’ from Eddie. “Other than that, the others will let us eat their leftovers, granola bars, and cereal. We’ll still have the basics, just no speciality items for us.”

“That’ll work,” Eddie agreed.

Stan continued, still not taking his head off the desk. “We’ll have to spend less on gas. Two and from work only. See if one of the other’s will take us anywhere else. And no air- conditioning.”

“We live in California, it’s 70 degrees every day.”

“Doesn’t matter,” the accountant continued, “should save us at least 20 dollars on gas each.”

“That’s 150 so far” Mike offered

“Thanks Mikey,” Stan rolled his head to the side to smile at him, before continuing with his plan, “obviously, I think this goes without saying, we order the cheapest thing on the menu tonight. If we’re lucky, it’ll only be 10-15 dollars.”

“Back down to 135” Eddie sighed, collapsing back onto the bed.

“Can you guys pick up any overtime shifts?” Both said yes, Stan nodded to signal he could as well.
“Overtime for me is 13, Eddie owns the business so he can get whatever he wants, and Mike’s is about 15. So that means it will take me 40 hours to make it up, Eddie about 35-40, and Mike 32 hours.”

“That’s like 5 months of overtime Uris”

“Thanks Eddie, didn’t get that one” Stan scoffed, rubbing his temples. “I have about 1,000 left in my emergency fund, I can pull from there.”

“Last time you said you had 15,000”

“Yeah, where do you think I get money for rent?”

“This isn’t going to work” Mike interjected, “we’re all too stressed, let’s take a break, go eat as cheap of a dinner as we can, and we can pick this up tomorrow. Alright?”

“Mike, how’d you get so smart,” Eddie grumbled.

The restaurant was definitely ‘someplace nice.’ Richie, Bill, and Ben had ordered some kind of fancy champagne, and Bev ordered an equally fancy white wine. The trio got water, using being designated drivers as an excuse, and Stan doesn’t usually drink anyway. The table was round, so Richie was next to Stan and Bill, Stan was next to Eddie, who was next to Mike, who was next to an empty seat for Ben (who was running late), who was next to Bev, next to Bill.

“I propose a toast” Richie said, rather loudly, in a british accent, “here is to my smoking hot boyfriend, who’s about to make another 500 k !”

Stan almost stabbed himself with his butterknife. No. More. Numbers.

“Rich, not everything’s about money.” Bev, ironically, said

Um, maybe not to those that have it, Stan wanted to say.

“To Bill!” Richie toasted

“To Bill!” The Loser’s followed, clinking their glasses together.

“Are we ready to order?” the waiter asked

“Oh, you know what, we haven’t even looked yet,” Richie responded.

“Well, when you do, just let me know. I’ll be right over there on the edge of my seat.” and the waiter left

“Wow, can you say homophobic much?” Richie gasped, placing his hand on his heart as if he was wounded. He turned towards Stan, who was on his left. “My dearest Staniel, won’t you be a dear and avenge me.”

“No,” Stan deadpanned and turned back to his menu, causing Richie to break down into one of his signature fits of laughter, which almost caused the grin Stan had been fighting to slip onto his face.

Of course, his moment of relaxation quickly ended. “Wow, look at these princes” Mike whispered, leaning over Eddie so Stan could hear.

“Yeah, these are pretty ch-ching” Eddie scowls.

“What are these, like famous chicken?” Stan whispered.

“Hey, sorry I’m late, Congratulations Bill.” Ben said, as he sat down next to Bev and Mike, before turning and striking up a conversation with Bev.

“Do I dare ask?” The Waiter quipped as he appeared beside the table again.

“Yes, I will start with the carpaccio, and then I’ll have the grilled prawns.” Bill ordered, and Richie agreed.

“And for the gentlemen?” the Waiter said as he turned towards Stan.

“I’m Jewish”

“Congrats”

“No, I mean I’m Kosher, so I’ll have the Matzo ball soup.” Stan closed his menu, loudly, scaring himself. He always got anxious ordering food for some reason, and the waiter's snarky attitude wasn’t helping, he caught Richie’s eye and it seemed he was aware of the same thing.

“And you, sir?” the waiter said, now addressing Eddie.

“Okay, I will have the uh” Eddie turn to the waiter and started to whisper just loud enough for Stan to still hear, “side salad”

“And what will that be on the side of?” the waiter whispered back.

“Uh, I don’t know. Why don’t you put it right here next to my water ?” Eddie answered, seemingly forgetting he was whispering.

“And for you?” the waiter addressed Mike.

“Um, I’m gonna have a cup of the cucumber soup, and, um, take care.” Mike said quickly.

The waiter rolled his eyes and took Ben and Bev’s order, before returning to the kitchen. The group easily fell into their easy rhythm of jokes and stories, catching up with each other on their days. When the food came, four large dinner plates and three bowls the size of tea cups were placed on the table. If anyone noticed how ridiculously small the other half of the tables dishes were, they didn’t say anything. Except Richie gave Stan his grilled vegetables, probably thinking his small order was because he couldn’t find anything kosher, and Richie hates vegetables.

The trio had managed to calm down and relax throughout dinner, but all their anxieties seemed to spike in unison as the bill was set down in front of Richie, who began to calculate it out in his head. Because surprisingly, Richie was ridiculously good at math.

“Okay, everyone owes 36 bucks.”
“Um, everyone?” Eddie whimpered.

“Oh, you’re right, I’m sorry.”

“Thank you” Stan mumbled

“Bill’s big night, he shouldn’t have to pay”

“Oh, thank you !” Bill smiled

“So the six of us is 42 apiece.” Richie announced, quite proud of himself for the quick math.

“No, huh uh, no way, I’m sorry, not gonna happen.” Eddie declared, waving his arms in front of his plate. As relieved as Stan was that he might not have to pay 42 dollars, confrontation about how poor they were now seemed inevitable and that panicked him.

“Whoa, whoa, prom night flashback.” Richie jokes, trying to break the sudden tension at the table.

“I’m sorry Bill, I love you and I’m happy you got the movie, but a side salad for forty something bucks? No! Mike had that, that, that cold cucumber mush, and, and Stan had his tiny little Jewish soap! It’s just…” Eddie ranted, his mouth starting to go faster than his brain, Stan involuntary looked down at his lap and closed his eyes, tapping one-two, one- two, one-two, on his thigh. He was never good at being able to handle arguments between his Losers without dissociating.

“Ok, Eds! How ‘bout we’ll each just pay for what we had. It’s not a big deal.” Richie said, stepping up to defuse Eddie.

“Not for you,” Eddie said, having to get the last word.

“Alright what’s goin’ on?” Bev said, stepping into her authoritarian role on the flip.

“Okay, look you guys, I really don’t want to get into this right now. I think it’ll just make everyone uncomfortable.” Mike said, trying to step in as peacekeeper.

“Fine. All right, fine.” Eddie huffed, Stan imagined him slouching back down into his seat.

“You can tell us.” Ben said reassuringly.

It was quiet for a minute, and then he felt a hand on his arm, stopping the tapping. He felt another hand under his chin, lifting it and turning it slowly to the right, Richie. “Hello, Stanny.”

He opened his eyes slowly and connected them with Richie’s, grounding himself with the shocking blue. “Hi” he whispered back.

“You alright in there?” Richie whispered back, a small grin on his face that did little to hide his concern. Stan was aware of the other Losers, being am to hear the whole exchange even though they were whispering.

“I’m here, Rich, just needed a second there.” He again whispered, giving Richie one of his little smilies.

“Alright, baby. Do you wanna tell us what’s going on ? it’s just us, it’ll be fine” The mess of black curls in front of him said, as he released his chin and grabbed his hand instead, rubbing soft circles onto the back of it.

“Okay, um, uh” Stan turned back to face the group, face flushed in embarrassment for almost slipping out in the middle of a restaurant, he squeezed Richie’s hand tighter. “Uh, we three feel like, that uh, sometimes you guys don’t get that uh, we don’t have as much money as you.”

“Okay.” Bev responded

“I hear ya.” Bill replied

“We can talk about that.” Ben prompted.

“Well, then...Let’s.” Mike awkwardly said, as it was obvious no one actually wanted to talk about it.

“I, I just never think of money as an issue.” Bill paused, his stutter was starting to slip in, he had it under control most days, but it sometimes slips in when he was nervous, which means he’s nervous.

“That’s cause you have it” Eddie quipped back

“That’s a good point.”

“So, um,” Richie turned back to Stan, making sure what he needed to say was heard, because very rarely did Stan interject on his own if he felt someone else would say it for it. “How come you guys haven’t talked about this before?”

“Cause it’ always somethin’, you know, like Bill’s new movie, or your whole birthday thing.”

“Stan!” The Losers, minus Richie (and Stan obviously) yelled at him for spilling the secret, Stan closed in on himself a little more.

“Wha-? Whoa, hey, I don’t want my birthday to be the source of any kind of negative - there’s gonna be a hoopla?” Richie got distracted

“Basically, there’s the thing, and then there’s the stuff after the thing.” Mike explained expertly.

“If it makes anybody feel better, then we can just forget the thing, and we’ll just do the gift” Beverly offered.

“G-gift? The thing’s not the gift?” Richie was struggling to contain his excitement for the sake of the rest of the table.

“No, the thing was, we were gonna go see Hamilton.” Ben explained

“Hamilton- Oh my. I,I can catch them on Youtube.”

“No, now I feel bad. You wanna go to the show.” Eddie interjected.

“No, look, hey, it’s my birthday, and the important thing is that we’ll all be together.” Richie said, wiping the smile off his face to show he was serious.

“All of us” Bev.

“Together” Bill.

“Not at the show,” Ben.

“Okay,” Eddie.

“Yeah,” Mike.

“Thank you,” Eddie, again.

“Thanks,” Mike

Stan nodded.

“So, the coronavirus. That’s gotta suck, huh?” Richie.

The drive home and the rest of the evening was awkward, which was hard for The Losers to deal with. They were all skirting around each other as if they were afraid they would break and start another argument. Stan ended up calling it a night early, retreating to his and Richie’s shared room. He had just finished getting changed when their door opened and Richie joined him. He approached Stan slowly, looking to see if Stan showed any signs of discomfort with him. He didn’t so he wrapped his arms around his waist and pulled him into his chest.

Stan nuzzled his face in Richie’s neck, inhaling his scent to help calm his mind. He overworked it today, with all the stress and arguing, and his almost episode at the restaurant, he was grateful he had Richie there. Stan loved all the Losers equally, that’s how their relationship worked, but Richie was his first friend, his best friend. His connection to Richie was just stronger, he could calm him down, and knew all his ticks, he could read him like a book, and always took care of him.

“You okay there, Potoo?” Potoo was this weird looking bird Richie had found in Stan’s bird book one day, and had taken to using it as one of his many pet-names. “I know today has been stressful for you, but it’s gonna be okay. Was it just the one time, at dinner?”

Stan nodded against his neck, the taller boy hummed in response. “Was it just the arguing and the money or is this something else?”

Although he was speaking with a calm and steady voice, Stan could hear the small shake of fear. “No, chickadee. Just stress, ‘m tired.”

Stan has a bird name for everyone. Richie’s is chickadee cause he doesn’t stop talking.

“Let’s get you to bed, birdie” Richie picks him up and tucks him into his side of the bed, before grabbing his own pjs and heading to the bathroom. Bill and Bev both pop in and give him a kiss and say goodnight, and at some point Eddie pops his head in and starts rubbing his bed. Eventually, when Richie comes out, Eddie gives them both a kiss, and goes to bed himself.

Richie rounds the bed, pulls the sheet up, and slides in next to Stan, pulling him back to his chest. Stan spins in his arms so they’re chest to chest, and places a quick kiss on his nose before he curls back into his chest. Drifting off slowly.

It’s about 3 o'clock the next day, Richie’s birthday, when they all gather in the living room, because apparently Ben and Bev have something for them. Stan, Mike, and Eddie were situated on the coach like yesterday, the rest were spread around the room, leaning or sitting on different things.

“Gee, Bev, what’s in the bag?” Ben acts poorly.

“I don’t know, Ben. Let’s take a look.”

“Oh, it's like a skit” Eddie giggles softly.

“Why, it’s a dinner for seven, 5 steaks, and two eggplants for Richie and Stanny!” Bill presents, like a game show host.

“Cool!”

“Why an eggplant for Richie?” Stan asks, “Are you trying to go kosher again?”

Richie simply smirked, “new year, new me birdie.”
“You’ll last a day”

“Stanthony, you wound me, and on the day of my birth, too”

“But wait, there’s more. Hey, Richie, what is in the envelope?” Bill continued

“By the way, this didn’t seem so dorky in the kitchen” Richie explained, before stepping back into character.

“Just open it, Rich,” Mike said.

“Why, it’s seven tickets to Hamilton! The Musical!” Richie exclaimed, jumping up on the table.

Stan’s smile dropped.

“It’s on us, all right, so don’t worry. It’s our treat” Bev explained, smiling really big.

“So...Thank you.” Eddie started

“Could you be less enthused?” Ben remarked

“Look, it’s a nice gesture, it is. But it just feels like-” Stan's explanation got cut off.

“Like?”

“Charity”

“Charity?”

“We’re just tryin’ to do a nice thing here.” Richie said, getting off the table, his smile slipping from his face, guilt panged in Stan’s stomach, it was the man’s birthday after all.

“Richie, you have to understand that your nice thing makes us feel this big” Mike demonstrated by placing his hands around 3 inches apart.

“Actually, it makes us feel this big.” Eddie slams Mike’s hands together.

“I don’t, I don’t understand. I mean, you, it’s like we can’t win with you guys.” Bev said, getting visible annoyed

“If you guys feel this big, maybe that’s not our fault. Maybe that’s just how you feel.” Bill input, stepping to come to the head of the group.

“Oh, now you’re tellin’ us how we feel” Stan stood up and stepped in front of Bill. Which seemed to surprise everyone, including Stan. It was well known Stan hated confrontation, so for him to take on Bill was a big deal.

“Okay, we never shoulda talked about this.” Mike said, pulling on Stan’s arm but he didn't budge.

“I’m just gonna pass on the show, ‘cause I’m just not in a very Musical place right now.” Eddie sassed

“Me either”

“Me too” Stan agreed, turning away from Bill and walking into the kitchen to grab water, he could still see the entire group because of the open floor plan.

“Guys, we bought the tickets.” Bev said

“Oh, well, then you’ll have extra seats, you know, for all your tiaras and stuff.” Eddie said to Richie

“Why did you look at me when you said that!”

“Well, I guess now we can’t go”

“What? Come on, you do what you want to do. Do we always have to do everything together?” Stan retorted from his spot in the kitchen

“You know what? You’re right.” Bev huffed

“Fine,” Eddie.

“Fine,”Richie.

“Fine,” Mike.

“Fine,” Ben.

“Fine,” Bill.

“Fine,” Stan.

“All right. We’re gonna go. It’s not for another six hours, We’re gonna go then.” Beverly declared and the rich kids stormed away.

The night had been a bust. Mike and Stan had let Eddie pick the movie and they somehow ended up watching Mammia Mia for the one thousandth time. Stan began his work of filling the entire club's taxes. They ended up going to bed before the others came home, and Richie didn’t wake Stan when he got into bed that night.

The next morning, everyone was already up and seated around the breakfast bar when Stan came down, which was weird because he was usually the first up.

“Hey, Stan my Man.” Richie greeted him as he passed him a coffee.

“Morning, Happy Birthday Bub,” He kissed his cheek before sitting down in his usual seat.

“Oh, thank you, thanks. So uh, how was your night last night?”

“Oh, well, it pretty much sucked. How was yours?”

“Yeah, ours pretty much sucked.” Bev replied.

“Yeah, we really missed you guys.” Bill said, loading his plate up with pancakes.

“Yeah, look, we were just saying, this whole thing is really stupid.” Mike offered the olive branch

“We just have to really, really, really, not let stuff like money get - is this you with the cast backstage?” Eddie said, pulling up a picture on twitter and showing it to the group. It was very much indeed them with the cast backstage.

“Yes…” Ben confessed.

“Oh! I can’t believe it. I can’t believe this. We’re just like, sitting at home, feeling awful, while Stan does our taxes, and you guys are out partying and having fun with the cast of Hamilton.” Eddie was riled up.

“They recognized Richie! What were we supposed to do ? Say now?” Bev asked sarcastically.

“Um yes” Eddie responded
“Look, don’t blame us. You guys coulda been there, you know.” Richie started.

“What, as part of your poor friends outreach program?”

“Shut up,” Stan said, his head starting to get cloudy, they just got louder.

“I don’t know what to say. I’m sorry that we make more money than you. But we’re not gonna feel guilty about it. We work really hard for it.” who Stan thinks is Ben says.

“And we don't work hard?” Mike

“Shut up” Stan tries again as he beginning tapping on the table, one-two, one-two, one-two, one-two-three, shit-

“I’m just saying that sometimes we like to do stuff that costs a little more.”

“And you feel like we hold you back.”

“Yes.”

“Oh!”

“No.”

“Shut up!” Stanley yells his head, bringing his head to rest on the bar, hands pulling at his hands pulling at his curls, trying to do anything, anything to stop the fog from taking over his mind. There’s a hand on his back, rubbing slow circles, one-two, one-two. His hands are pulled from his hair and are replaced by someone else's gently carding through it. He’s pulled off his stool and placed in someone's lap, his head placed in the crook of their neck. They smell nice, their shirt now damp from his tears, when had he started crying?

Slowing, the cloud around him starts to fade and he’s able to make out the people around him. He’s in Richie’s lap, he can tell by the scent. Eddie is stroking his hair, and Bev is rubbing his back. Bill, Ben, and Mike are surrounding them all, but not touching them, forming a safety circle around their Stanley.

“Are you there Stanley?” Richie asks in his ear

He nods

“Sky’s clear?”

He nods again

“Can we help you Potoo?”

Another nod

“Food?”

He shakes his head

“A nap?”

nod

“By yourself”

Shake

“With all of us?”

Nod

“Couch”

Shake

“Big bed?”

Nod

The others begin to make they’re way to the single shared bedroom with the California king bed in it, big enough for all seven of them to fix semi comfortably.

Richie places Stan in the middle, before laying down on his left, Stan attaches again to his chest. Eddie slides in on Stan’s right, cuddling up to his back. Bill and Mike slide in next to Eddie while Bev and Ben slide in next to Richie.

Stan hums with content at the thought of all his partners with him, before fatigue overcomes him, and he drifts off to sleep.