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To Accustom To Nurture

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Eddie Kaspbrak never had a daddy.

At least, not by his husband Richie Tozier’s definition.

For the first five years of his life, Eddie did have a dad. Was he a good dad? Richie doesn’t know for sure; he’s never met the man. But, he never heard much about him from Eddie, so Richie supposes he was.

To an outsider, this may seem like a strange, perhaps even contradictory, line of reasoning. Richie has considered this. Then he remembered the number of times he’s heard about Eddie’s other parent. So he decided to stick with it.

Even then, Eddie’s dad was by no means a daddy. He sadly passed away before he could be Eddie’s daddy.

As Richie would oh-so eloquently word it, a daddy is more than a bloke who hit the right target with his squirt gun. A daddy is someone who takes their needy innocent in their arms and gives them all the nurture, comfort, and patience in the world. Most importantly though, a daddy provides the best, most enriching life possible for those in their care. Between his raunchy jokes and insults, this is the message Richie will repeat to the grave.

Therefore, it shouldn’t be a surprise that Richie is highly enthusiastic about practicing age regression with Eddie.

It was actually at Eddie’s suggestion, when he plopped some internet articles onto Richie’s lap then watched him read them from the doorway. The word “age regressor” in the first article’s title was circled, captioned with “Me.” The first usage of the word “caregiver” was labeled “You?” Richie would later discover that Eddie had been preparing a long-winded plea for compassion, ready to reassure him that they didn’t have to try it.

That would prove to be unnecessary though, seeing as Richie followed Eddie’s request for his opinion with “Aww Eds, stop acting like it’s something horrible! There’s nothing wrong with being a lil’ cutie-patootie!”

For once, Eddie did not protest either being called Eds or a cutie-patootie.

Richie can’t remember the exact number of times Eddie has regressed so far; he guesses it's been around three or four. But he can remember all of those instances occurring on days like today.

Days where the front door slams as a shrill cry rings out.

Days where Richie can hear hasty, booming footsteps all the way from his idle basement office.

Days where the footsteps become quieter and quieter as they trek upstairs, evading Richie’s usual greeting.

Days where Richie lunges from his chair and darts upstairs, following the cries.

On this particular day, the cries lead Richie up to the master bedroom. As Richie approaches the room, he discovers that these aren’t simple cries. Eddie is wailing and weeping. He wonders what could’ve happened to him. His past regressions have been triggered by a bad day at work, so perhaps this is simply an extreme case of that.

The usually open door is closed, and Richie immediately takes note of this. On days like today, even the tiniest details are everything. Richie bites his lip as he curls his hand into a loose fist, not keeping his eyes off it as he raises it to the door. He gingerly taps the door two times, then waits for a response.

The wailing falters for a few seconds, then returns. Richie sighs, rocking a bit on his toes as he waits for some more seconds to pass. Then, he knocks again, this time coupling it with a quick remark,

“Eds? Can I come in?”

Richie only receives an unintelligible whine in response. So, he tries again,

“Eddie! Open sesame!” He sing-songs, slowly pushing the door open a crack.

This earns Richie a shrill “NO!” which is followed by a string of whimpers. Richie’s eyes widen as he swings the door shut, keeping his hand on the doorknob. Softening his voice in both volume and tone, he whispers to his husband through the door,

“I’ll be right out here. So you may summon me as you please, Lord Edward.” Usually, he would perform a dramatic bow or curtsy with a phrase like that. But for once, the great Richie Tozier isn’t in the mood to add flair to his jokes.

Richie slides down against the door and onto his knees, slumping down as he sits. He picks at the shag carpet, twisting the fibers between his fingers. His twists become harder with each passing second, the whines and whimpers not showing a single sign of ceasing. Although not every instance like this was the same, Richie always counted on Eddie’s acceptance of his presence.

For the first time since they’ve started age regression, Richie feels completely hopeless. Which is a major feat, considering the amount of hurdles he’s had to jump as a caregiver.

Since reading the articles, Richie loved the idea of being a caregiver to a regressed Eddie. He loves to take care of Eddie. And he couldn’t think of anything cuter than Eddie being his baby. The man had even gone as far as shopping for baby supplies, spending hours walking down aisles and browsing websites to select the perfect items for his baby boy.

But despite Richie’s best efforts, Eddie struggled to fully immerse himself in his role. Whenever Eddie came home in a state like this, Richie could effortlessly ease him into his regression headspace. Then, he couldn’t stay fully regressed for more than a few minutes before blushing and frantically apologizing, refusing to look Richie in the eyes.

Richie was sure there had to be a reason behind this beyond basic embarrassment. But no matter how much he asked Eddie, both in his regression and adult headspace, he was met with denial.

Richie Tozier wasn’t one to give up, though. The past few regression sessions had been getting better and better, with Eddie staying regressed for even longer. Richie was even able to dress him up in one of the onesies he bought. He was hoping that next time, Eddie could be shown the rest of the supplies, which are currently stashed away in a deserted hall closet.

This makes Eddie’s current display all the more confusing and discouraging. Eddie had gone from being willing to wear a onesie to not even wanting Richie in the room with him. Richie yanks a piece of string out of the carpet and begins to curl it between his fingers. Each time he curls or uncurls the string, a new question hits him.

Curl.

Why didn’t Eddie want him in the room?

Uncurl.

What made this time different from all the other times?

Curl.

How could he expect Eddie to open up to him now?

Uncurl.

Did he do something wrong?

Curl.

Is he a bad caregiver?

Snap.

As Richie uncurls the string once again, it splits in half. He lets out a heavy sigh, blowing the string off his fingers. That manages to pull Richie out of his daydream, so he finally notices that Eddie’s loud wails have silenced into soft, squeaky sobs. Richie pulls himself up and takes a deep breath.

This is a crucial moment; it can’t be botched. Any blunder could easily undo all the progress they have made.

Richie grips the doorknob again, turning it slowly, “Eddie? I’m coming in, okay?” He experimentally opens the door a crack and takes a single step through the doorway. Not a single sound of protest is made, much to Richie’s relief. He takes a second step and closes the door behind him, keeping his hand on the doorknob just in case. Eddie squeaks and curls his knees to his chest, hugging his legs.

Richie holds his hands behind his back, “Hey, Eddie. Are you okay? Can I sit next to you?” He takes baby steps towards the bed, waiting for any sign of resistance from Eddie. Eddie stays silent through every step, until Richie lowers himself to the edge of the bed. This prompts a whine from Eddie as he flips onto his side, facing away from Richie.

Richie swings his legs onto the bed to lie down beside his husband. He lets a few seconds pass to give Eddie time to adjust, then speaks up again, “Eddie, can you please roll over? So I can see you?”

Eddie doesn’t offer any type of response, so Richie decides to try something. “Baby boy,” he whispers, his voice faint and tender.

Richie notices Eddie’s shoulders relax as he loosens his grip on his legs. Following Eddie’s lead, he shuffles closer to Eddie, “Hi there, Baby Boy. Can you tell your ol’ pal Richie what’s wrong?”

Eddie squirms around a bit, letting out a little groan. Richie sits up a bit to get a closer look at his husband, catching a glimpse of Eddie’s crotch. Immediately, he notices the dark spot on his jeans. Richie silently gasps in realization. No wonder Eddie was so anxious around him today.

Richie coos gently, outstretching an arm towards Eddie, “Oh Baby Boy, did you have an accident?”

Eddie shrieks and pulls his legs back to his chest. He rocks himself slightly, little whimpers and squeaks escaping his lips.

Richie pulls his hand back, but still continues to speak, “Hey, hey, hey. Eddie, it’s okay. It’s totally okay, Baby Boy. Accidents happen.”

Eddie doesn’t respond to Richie in the slightest. Richie glances over at his husband and a chill goes up his spine when he sees Eddie’s eyes. They are completely glazed over. Eddie’s whole body begins to tremble and limpen, sinking into the plush bed. His whimpers and squeaks are replaced by croaks and gasps as his breathing falters.

Richie pushes himself up to sit and pulls the limp man into his arms. He props Eddie up against his chest and slips his hand into his shirt, rubbing his back. He winces slightly as Eddie’s cold, urine-stained pants touch him, but he doesn’t mind it. All Richie can think about is comforting his baby boy, playing his role.

“Shh, you’re okay, Eddie. I’ve got you,” Richie coos softly.

Eddie’s fingers curl around Richie’s shirt, grasping it tightly. Richie presses a kiss to Eddie’s ear, relieved that he is finally accepting his affection.

But that relief is quickly stifled by a throaty exclamation from Eddie, “My inhaler! Need my inhaler!”

That’s when Richie’s stomach drops. Eddie hadn’t brought up his inhaler, or his medicine in general, for weeks. Not even during his panic attacks.

“Eddie, no! You don’t need your inhaler! This isn’t an asthma attack, this is a panic attack,” Richie exclaims, his voice raising and cracking.

Eddie lets out a shriek in response, squirming in Richie’s arms and repeating, “Need my inhaler! I need my inhaler!”

Richie loosens his grip on Eddie, but doesn’t stop holding him. He takes a deep breath, reminding himself that he needs to stay calm for both of their sakes. Eddie’s hand slips into Richie’s, and Richie grasps it before he can move it. He places Eddie’s hand on his heart, and rests his own hand on top. Immediately, Richie can feel Eddie’s tense body relax at the heartbeat. Eddie rubs Richie’s chest and lets out a small sigh.

Feeling a little more confident now, Richie whispers to Eddie, “Can you feel my breathing, Sweetheart?”

He takes some deep breaths, letting his chest rise and fall. Eddie looks up at Richie, which is enough of a yes for him. “Let’s breathe together, Baby.”

Richie continues his deep breathing, prolonging each breath to take in as much oxygen as possible. Eddie attempts to copy Richie’s breathing, but his own breaths are shaky and stifled.

Nevertheless, Richie gives him praise, “There, just like that. You’re doing great, Eddie.” Richie caresses Eddie and delivers more praise, not stopping his heavy breaths as he does so.

He only stops them when Eddie is finally replicating them crisply and clearly. By then, Eddie has sat himself up completely, but his head still hangs low. Richie props himself up a little more, then places his hand right under Eddie’s chin.

Lifting Eddie’s chin up, Richie offers him a warm smile, “How about you be my baby boy for the afternoon,” he tries hopefully.

Eddie shakes his head, darting his eyes down to his lap.

Richie frowns slightly, furrowing his eyebrows. The questions from earlier come flooding back to him, one by one, each one hitting him harder.

Curl.

Why didn’t Eddie want him in the room?

Uncurl.

What made this time different from all the other times?

Curl.

How could he expect Eddie to open up to him now?

Uncurl.

Did he do something wrong?

Curl.

“Eddie, am I a bad caregiver?”

Snap.

Eddie finally looks up at him, his eyes glittering and his lip quivering. Now it’s Richie’s turn to look away. Did he really just let that slip out? He squeezes his hands together. How could he be so stupid?

Before Richie can think of a response, Eddie finally speaks up, “No, Rich, you’re not. At all. You take such good care of me. You always have.”

“Caring is my middle name!” Richie winks, giving Eddie some finger guns. But he puts his hands in his lap upon seeing Eddie’s lack of laughter.

“You’re not a bad caregiver. I...I…” Eddie is cut off by a hiccup, “I’m just a bad regressor.” Fresh tears build up in Eddie’s eyes.

Richie’s heart shatters into pieces. He shifts himself forward so he’s closer to Eddie, “No, no, nope! No more crying! This is a no tears zone! Any tears found in your possession will be confiscated by the Los Angeles police!”

Eddie can’t help but playfully roll his eyes and let out a small chuckle. His tears continue to run down his cheeks, though.

Richie wipes them away with his thumb, sighing, “Sweetheart, please. You’re not a bad regressor.”

“Yes I am!” Eddie cries, leaning his cheek into Richie’s touch. “Trying age regression was all my idea. And I can’t even do it right. I just end up suddenly stopping and crying!”

He sobs and hiccups, crinkling his eyes shut, “And-And you’re always asking me why, trying to help. But I…”

Eddie is cut off by a hoarse cough, prompting Richie to reach and pat his back.

“See? You’re always taking care of me. Always. And I love it. But when you take care of me as a caregiver, well, it’s different. Don’t get me wrong, I still love it. I want it. It’s...it just...it feels weird.”

That’s when it hits Richie.

Eddie Kaspbrak never had a daddy.

“I’m sorry, I’m not making any sense right now. I don’t know how to explain it,” Eddie rambles, rocking himself back and forth.

Richie shakes his head, “No, I get it. I think I finally get it.”

Eddie looks up, locking eyes with Richie, “Really? Cause I don’t even get it.”

“Really. I swear Eds, I, like, had an epiphany. I feel fucking spiritual,” Richie insists, “I’m like the Buddha.”

Eddie rolls his eyes and sighs, muttering, “Alright, Buddha, lay it on me.”

Richie crosses his legs and places his hands on his knees, coupling his best meditation pose and voice, “Come, mortal, allow me to grant you my wisdom.”

Although he wouldn’t admit it, Richie was quite a bit desperate to stall. For all he knew, his “epiphany” could be incorrect, perhaps even insulting. Could he explain it well? Could he even explain it at all?

With a small snort, Eddie bites back a smirk as he says, “Rich, you’re stalling.”

Shit, he’s caught on.

Richie taps his fingers against his knee; he supposes he has no choice but to say it. Before he can question himself again, Richie looks down at his lap and finally allows himself to speak.

“I think that my caregiving feels weird to you ‘cause, well, it’s new to you. Like, entirely new. Most people get this type of care when they’re kids, from their parents or whatever. But your bitch of a mother pumped you full of placebos, forced you to cling to her, put her needs over yours. She didn’t care for you or nurture you. Then you married Myra, who was basically your mom but less wrinkly. So you still never got that type of care. Beluga 1 and Beluga 2 didn’t do shit for you. It’s probably why you wanna use age regression as your coping mechanism. It’s also why it feels so weird for you. I mean, there’s the whole being embarrassed thing too, but I think this is the main reason.”

Richie takes a deep breath, biting the inside of his cheek. He glances up to catch Eddie’s reaction, only to discover thicker tears running down the smaller man’s cheeks. Swallowing harshly, Richie looks back down at his lap.

“Shit, Eddie, I’m sorry, I was being a dumbass. That-”

“No, you weren’t,” Eddie cuts him off, wiping his tears with the back of his hand.

“Really? Well, there’s a first,” Richie darts his head up, smiling softly.

Eddie giggles a little through his tears, “You were actually..damn...you were spot on. I felt that. I knew that. I just couldn’t put it into words.”

Frowning, Eddie adds, “Sorry about all the crying, it was just hard to hear. Especially the part about Myra. Richie, she’s…she’s…” He takes a shaky breath, “She’s the reason I regressed before my panic attack. And why…this happened.” He gestures to his damp crotch.

Richie huffs. He had forgotten about Eddie’s accident. Now that he knows Myra had something to do with it, it’s even worse. He takes a deep breath as his cheeks redden slightly. He has to repeat this a few times to calm himself.

Before Richie can ask for details, Eddie mumbles them, “She called me today when I pulled into the garage…she was talking about how she found some of my medicine in a cabinet, and she started asking me if I was still getting my prescriptions…I swear I thought I blocked her number, I guess I ended up overlooking it ‘cause she hadn’t called me since the divorce…and I got so frantic, I didn’t even notice how badly I had to piss, and…”

Eddie clicks his tongue and lets out a deep breath. As soon as the last word comes out of Eddie’s mouth, Richie throws his burly arms around his husband. Eddie melts into Richie’s arms, nuzzling himself into his chest.

Running his fingers through Eddie’s mocha hair, Richie softly coos, “I’m so sorry that happened, Baby Boy. We’ll block her number. And I swear, if she ever tries to contact you again, she can fight me. I’m not afraid of her, she’ll be easier than the clown. All I have to do is push her and she’ll roll away.”

“Beep beep, Richie,” Eddie responds, his voice muffled.

“Alright, sorry. Did she bring up your inhaler? Is that why you begged for it during your panic attack?”

Eddie nods his head, and Richie squeezes him tighter, his arms shaking ever so slightly. His heart aches for his husband.

Although Eddie was triggered directly by Myra today, blocking her number wouldn’t solve everything. Even though Eddie’s mom is dead and Myra is states away, they are still present in Eddie’s life. And they always will be.

It’s the hardest pill for Richie to swallow, to put it sardonically.

“Eddie…I wish I could make all this shit go away. Your mom, Myra, fucking Pennywise, everything. I love you so fucking much, you deserved better.”

Eddie looks up from Richie’s chest, locking eyes with him, “You did too…I’m just glad we’re together now. I love you, Richie.”

Richie pulls Eddie up into a soft kiss, embracing him. Eddie melts into the kiss immediately, smiling into it. He cups Richie’s cheeks, and Richie leans into the touch. Even as the kiss slowly pulls apart, the two men keep their hands on each other.

A small smile graces Richie’s face. He finally figured out the answers to all his questions.

“I’m so proud of you, Eddie.” He kisses the top of his head, “Thanks for opening up to me. In a family friendly way.”

“Beep beep, Richie,” Eddie responds with a groan.

“Aww come on! That was a good one!” Richie ruffles Eddie’s hair with a laugh, “People pay me to tell jokes, and I give them to you for free! You should be thankful!”

“Oh yes, I’m thoroughly blessed,” Eddie retorts cheekily, smoothing his hair back down. He tries to hold back his own laughter, but that doesn’t last for long.

As the laughter dissipates, Eddie reaches down to scratch at his thighs. Richie notices and realizes that Eddie’s soft, sensitive skin must be irritating from the urine.

He takes Eddie’s free hand in his own and squeezes it gently, whispering to him, “Now that we’ve actually found out why regressing is hard, do you think you’re ready to try it again? I wanna finally give you the care you deserve.”

Still scratching, Eddie hesitates before finally murmuring back, “I don’t know…I feel kinda guilty. I’ve already given you a hard time with regressing, and besides, it shouldn’t be your responsibility to care for me anyways.”

Richie hugs Eddie’s hand to his chest. He rubs the back of Eddie’s hand and shakes his head, “Don’t feel guilty, Eddie. I forbid it. It’s okay that you didn’t regress easily. We know why now, so we can fix it. And I don’t wanna care for you because I feel like it’s my responsibility. I wanna care for you because I enjoy it. I’ve spent years caring for myself, I love getting to finally take care of someone else. Someone I love. And you care for me too, in different ways.”

Richie can see Eddie melting as he speaks. A grin tugs at Eddie’s cheeks, which have turned a sweet, light pink. When he’s done, Eddie throws his arms around Richie once again, burying his face in Richie’s shoulder.

“I love you. I love you so, so much.”

Richie squeezes him back once again, a grin of his own forming, “I love you too, Eddie.”

They let the moment linger for a while, holding each other and reveling in the bliss.

That is, until Eddie meekly whispers, “Can we please try age regression today? We don’t have to if-”

Richie’s whole face immediately lights up.

“Of course!” Richie squeals, hugging Eddie tighter. “Of course we can try it today! Maybe we can try more of the stuff I bought for you!”

Eddie pulls away in surprise, “You bought me more stuff? Like, more onesies?”

Richie’s eyes widen when he realizes that he had never told Eddie about the rest of the supplies. In all his excitement, he kind of overlooked that fact.

He nods, “Yeah, there’s onesies. And other stuff too. I’ve been collecting baby things for you, for when you were more comfortable regressing. Kinda got way too excited ‘bout it, I swear I became one of those pregnant white suburban moms.”

Richie lets out a light chuckle, which falters when he sees Eddie’s face. His husband is blushing once again, chewing on his bottom lip.

He’s overwhelmed. Way to go, Trashmouth.

Then, Eddie squeaks with a small smile, “Stuffed animals?”

Richie feels his heart flutter, unable to hold back his coos. The lack of vocabulary and dantier voice are enough to prove that Eddie is beginning to regress.

“Of course I got you stuffed animals, what kind of caregiver do you think I am?” Richie gives Eddie a wink, which earns him a small squeal.

Since Eddie isn’t completely in his regression headspace, Richie decides to quickly say something that adult Eddie would understand better, “Eddie, while we’re trying out all the new stuff, you think you could try leaning into your discomfort a lil’ bit? Don’t worry, if there’s something you absolutely hate, just say it and it’s done. That’s a promise. But, if you feel weird with something you like, maybe try pushing through it? So that this all starts to feel more normal. Does that make sense?”

Richie isn’t all too pleased with his solution. He knows Eddie may not enjoy it all too much at times. But, it’s the best solution he can think of. And the only solution, if he’s being honest.

Richie can see Eddie staring at him intensely, listening to him intently, processing every word. When he is done, Eddie gives Richie a serious nod.

“Thank you, Baby Boy,” is all Richie can think of to say at this point. He can’t stop smiling. Finally, he has made a major breakthrough with Eddie. A breakthrough he had been waiting on for what felt like forever. The bespectacled man’s eyes twinkle as he thinks of all the new things he can try with his baby boy, all the ways he can nurture him and enjoy him. He just loves his husband so much; he can’t wait to finally, truly delve into this dynamic with him.

Then, he notices Eddie frantically scratch himself again, with tiny mewls and whines and leaving his lips.

Immediately slipping into his role, Richie holds his arms out for Eddie, “C’mere, Baby. Lemme hold you.”

Eddie crawls across the bed over to Richie, making Richie’s heart melt yet again. Swooning, Richie lifts him up and cradles him, which isn’t too hard considering their size difference. Peering at Eddie’s wet jeans, Richie thinks of something that he had been wanting to try with him. Something that he remembers Eddie requesting during their first time discussing regression.

Diaper changing.

It would be the perfect first activity for them. If Eddie could make it through being changed, then much of the other stuff would be easier in comparison. Richie had bought all the supplies, and even watched a tutorial on YouTube. The only element he has yet to acquire is Eddie’s clearance.

All Richie can do now is hope that Eddie will truly be willing to lean into his discomfort, for the sake of increasing his comfort.

Taking a deep breath, Richie gently kisses Eddie’s forehead and whispers to him.

“How about we get you cleaned up, Baby Boy?”