Actions

Work Header

like a prayer against his skin

Chapter Text

“Oh, I’m very important,” Eddie mutters in a low pompous gravel as he watches a hefty man with a stark white mustache check his watch. “If this train doesn’t arrive within my standards I will have no choice but to call the blah blah blah...”

Eddie shifts his gaze to a young woman with long hair and massive combat boots. She keeps her eyes locked on her phone as a greasy-haired boy sits far too close and tries to strike up a conversation, with little success.

Pitching his voice up to a nasally twang, Eddie looks at the boy on the screen and says, “If she talks to me I think I’ll piss my pants.”

Then looking at the girl, Eddie shifts into some sort of irritated businesswoman voice and says, “If he talks to me I’ll jump in front of this train.”

There was little to entertain Eddie on this job. Imagining the lives of train passengers as he watches on through the black and white screen was one of the few things he resorted to in order to pass the time.

On weekdays Eddie works at a local cafe, but on Friday evenings and weekends, he works as a security video monitoring operator at New York’s lesser-known train station, Maturin Station. 

On one such Friday evening, Eddie is at the end of his shift when he sees something, for lack of a better word, peculiar.

It’s a man. And he’s looking at the camera. 

He’s got hair that curls around his ears and thick rimmed glasses, and he’s staring. Eddie tenses, wondering if this is the day that he actually needs to involve security in his slow moving job.

Then, the man does something strange. He smiles. 

Eddie blinks, eyes stuck on the grinning man. It’s a nice smile, admittedly, and the way that he holds eye contact with the camera makes Eddie squirm in his seat. Then he looks away. It couldn’t have been more than a few seconds, but it felt like ages. 

Should I...report that? Eddie thinks, unsure. It didn’t seem like anything serious or threatening. Just some idiot goofing off. But he can’t really help but think about how the man’s eyes scrunched up when he smiled. He was charming, Eddie could admit that much. 

He waits for the minutes to count down until finally it’s 9pm, and Eddie is free to leave. He speed walks to his car, hungry to get behind the wheel. 

Eddie is fully aware that the New York traffic will spike up his road rage, but he’s one of the few people in the world (possibly the only one) who thrives off of driving in insufferable traffic. He finds it cathartic, shouting to his heart’s content within the confines of his Honda Civic. 

He’s ten minutes into his drive when a particularly irritating driver in a Toyota Corolla cuts him off, and he decides to put on the radio to keep his heart rate down. He enjoys the drives, not stress-induced heart attacks. 

He tunes into a random radio station, where a man is in the middle of telling a story.

—my friend Adrian says, ‘I’ll give you a 20 if you eat it.’ So, obviously, you know me, my name isn’t Trashmouth for nothing. I take the whole bite, in all it’s honey-pickle-and-mayonnaise glory, and—” 

Eddie gags and changes the channel. 



 

When Eddie enters his apartment, he finds his roommate, Bev, lounging on the couch with a bowl of popcorn in her lap. She feeds a piece to Ben, her boyfriend, while they watch Back to the Future on their minuscule television. They both glance over at the sound of the door opening, greeting Eddie as he walks in. 

“Where’s Stan?” Eddie asks. 

“He’s in his room, so he’s either sleeping like a grandpa or he’s sexting Patty,” Bev says.

“Ew, ugh,” Eddie says, scrunching up his nose, “I don’t want to think about Stan sexting.”

Bev smirks, before shouting, “Stan, are you sexting Patty?”

From his bedroom down the hall, Stan shouts back, muffled through the walls, “I wish I had never met you!”

Bev smiles and cheerily replies, “Tell her I say hi!”

“You’re dead to me!” He says in the same jovial tone. 

Ben looks red with embarrassment, and Eddie tries to keep the scowl on his face, but he can feel the edges of his lips quirking up into a reluctant smile.

“Did anything interesting happen at work today?” Ben asks Eddie, wrapping his arm more securely around a still-giggling Bev.

“You ask him that every time and the answer is always the same,” Bev says, shaking her head.

“Usually I’d say you’re right, Bev, but something actually did happen for once,” Eddie says, taking a seat on one of the spinning stools by the kitchen counter. Ben gives him a curious look, and Bev moves to turn down the volume of the movie to show Eddie that he had their attention.

“There was this man,” Eddie starts. He looks down at his hands. “Kept looking at the security camera. I thought he was shifty at first, but then he just...smiled.”

Eddie looks up to see Bev looking at Ben with a devilish grin. She turns back to Eddie and says, “Was he cute?”

Eddie lets out a string of scandalized noises before taking a breath, clearing his throat to say, “That doesn’t matter.”

“Oh, so he was hot.”

“That is not what I said, Beverly!” Eddie screeches. 

Bev falls back against the couch, cackling. Ben, bless his heart, gives Eddie a sympathetic look, although he’s chuckling as well. Eddie doesn’t know whether it’s because he finds it genuinely as funny as Bev, or because he just loves the sound of Bev’s laughter. Suddenly Eddie feels very lonely. 

Eddie hops off of the stool, telling Ben and Bev to enjoy the movie before heading to his room. When he enters the room, he finds himself stopping to stare at the old digital clock on his nightstand. He thinks he remembers—when he first moved into the apartment and bought the clock—the box saying that it was a radio as well.

He’s not sure why he does it, but he sits on the edge of the bed and drags the radio-clock into his lap. It takes a few minutes of fiddling (he only ever used the old thing to tell the time) but he eventually gets a low hum of static playing as he clicks through the channels. 

Finally, he hears a familiar voice. The man from the radio in the car.

That was ‘Friday I’m In Love’ by The Cure, just in case any of you listeners are uncultured enough to not know who they are. That song sure does bring back a lot of memories. I remember blasting this song in my room, taking out the cheap pack of cigs I stashed in my underwear drawer. Sweet, sweet nostalgia.”

Eddie is captivated by his voice. The man is describing what it was like to smoke his first cigarette at fourteen, laughing about how he had nearly called 911 because he thought he was suffocating. Eddie is fixed on the way he talks—the way he’s so confident in his words, as if he never feels the need to second-guess what he says, like Eddie so often does. His voice was sort of nasally, so Eddie would’ve thought he would be irritated by the man’s stream-of-consciousness babble, but instead he finds it soothing. 

Then the voice started calling out a phone number.

Give us a call,” he was saying, and before Eddie even knew what his hands were doing, he was typing in the number into his phone.

Oh shit! Looks like we’ve got one,” the man says on the radio, and then he’s in Eddie’s ear. “Trashmouth speaking, who do we have here?

Eddie panics once the call goes through, and resorts to what he does best. 

“You know how unhealthy it is to smoke, right? Like, there’s literally tons of research that proves that and if you’ve been smoking since you were fourteen then I’m surprised your lungs haven’t shriveled up like raisins.” It’s out of his mouth before he can stop it, and Eddie shuts his eyes in annoyance with himself. 

Surprisingly enough, the man just laughs. “Good thing I quit five years ago, then, huh?

Eddie flushes in embarrassment. “Oh. Um. Congrats.”

Trashmouth—that’s what he called himself—laughs again. He laughs a lot. It’s loud and obnoxious and absolutely not endearing whatsoever, Eddie tells himself. “What’s your name, dude?

“Um,” Eddie hesitates, years worth of stranger danger lectures bubbling up into his brain. He scrambles for a moment before saying, “K.”

K?

“Uh, yeah. I don’t think I feel comfortable giving you my name, so, uh. My last name starts with K. You can call me K.” 

Alright, Dr. K—” 

“I’m not a doctor.”

Could’ve fooled me,” he says. “What are you doing with all that health anxiety if not fixing up poor smoke addicts like fourteen year old Trashmouth?

“I’m, uh,” Eddie thought about which answer he should give. Does he want this stranger—and whoever else is listening—to know that he’s working two jobs just to barely afford an apartment with two roommates? Not that it wasn’t common in New York, but he’d rather keep some of his life private. “I work at a local cafe.” It was a half truth, at least. 

Oh, that’s cute,” Trashmouth says, and Eddie purses his lips to stop himself from smiling.

Eddie is about to reply when he hears muffled talking from the other end, and then Trashmouth is cursing into the receiver, saying, “Shit, I’m sorry, I lost track of time. I’m gonna have to let you go, but please, feel free to call again, Dr. K.”

“Yeah, you too,” Eddie says, and then smacks himself on the forehead, because that doesn’t even make sense.

Trashmouth laughs and says, “Gonna give me your number so I can call you instead? Shit—yeah, yes, Bill, I’m going! ” 

And then the line goes dead. Eddie scrambles to turn up the radio, just in time to hear the man sigh wistfully and say, “Well that was new. Next up we have Dazey and the Scouts!

Eddie stays up until the end of Trashmouth’s segment, in which he announces that listeners can catch him every Tuesday and Friday night from 9:15-11:15pm. Eddie takes out a notepad to write down the times. He tells himself he doesn’t know why, but he knows well enough.

 

 

Over the duration of the weekend, Eddie spent his time on shift at the train station looking out for the smiling man on the security cameras, but he was nowhere to be found. With each passing moment that the man didn’t appear, a pit of disappointment grew in Eddie’s stomach, which he had steadfastly ignored. 

At one point, a man with shoulder-length hair and thick rimmed glasses came onto the screen, and Eddie had shot up out of his chair with embarrassingly fast speed. It wasn’t him. Wrong height, wrong face shape. Eddie had sat back down in his chair, face burning in shame, thanking God that he worked alone.

It’s a relatively boring job, considering the station isn’t as popular as New York’s other well-known train stations—it’s natural to want his one source of entertainment (if he could even call it that) to come back. That’s what he told himself, at least.

Now it’s Tuesday afternoon, and Eddie is at his weekday job in the cafe, buzzing with anticipation. The train station man was still in his mind, but it was overshadowed by the knowledge that today was Trashmouth’s radio show. The segment wasn’t until that night, and yet Eddie couldn’t help but open his phone for the seventh time that afternoon, checking and double checking to make sure he still had the number for the station saved in his previous calls list.

“What’s got you so jumpy?” Mike, his co-worker, asks. It’s a relatively slow day, so he thankfully doesn’t hound Eddie for going on his phone every few minutes.

“Sorry, man,” Eddie says, pocketing the device that has been the source of all his anxiety. “Just an off day for me, I guess.”

“You know,” Mike says, adorning a grin that does no good at putting Eddie’s mind at ease, “Bev told me there might be a cute guy you’re interested in. Does this have something to do with that?”

“Hey, how’s online dating going?” Eddie says, swerving around Mike so that he can start baking more macaroons, just so he has something to do.

“I know that you’re avoiding the subject, but I actually do want to talk about that, so I’ll let you off the hook,” Mike says, helping Eddie with the preparations despite knowing that they don’t really need to make any more macaroons. Mike’s a good friend like that.

“Oh? Did you find someone?” 

“I did, actually,” Mike says, smiling until his dimples come out. Eddie wishes he were attracted to him more than just on a physical level. Life would be much simpler if that were the case. “His name is Bill. We’re going on a date soon.”

“That’s awesome, Mike!” Eddie says, clapping him on the back. It gets flour on his shirt, but they’re both used to it. “What’s he like? What does he do for a living?”

“He works at a radio station,” Mike says, and Eddie swallows the groan that immediately bubbles up in his throat.

Now he’s thinking about Trashmouth again. 

Eddie spends the rest of his shift anxiously watching the clock. The fact that it’s a slow day makes things worse, because he’s left with only his thoughts and Mike, who’s too busy texting his new man to distract Eddie. 

When 6:30pm finally rolls along, Eddie darts out of the shop, thanking Mike on his way out for closing up, and speeds home. It wasn’t necessary to speed considering Trashmouth’s segment wouldn’t start for a few more hours, but he had to get that anxious energy out of him somehow.

He very deliberately avoids wondering why he’s so eager to call the station again. He accidentally taps his breaks once on the way home because of how much he was jiggling his leg in anticipation. When he finally gets home his skin is still buzzing, so he takes one look at the slight clutter on the kitchen counter and in the connected living space, and decides that the entire apartment needs a deep clean. 

 

 

 

“Are you having an episode? Do I need to call Bev?” Stan asks when he comes home, Patty in tow.

Eddie looks up from where he had been hunched over on the floor, vigorously scrubbing at scuff marks.

“You’re not supposed to be home until 9,” Eddie says instead of giving him an answer.

“Eddie, honey,” Patty says sweetly. She’s always so sweet. Eddie hopes Stan marries her. “It’s, like, 9:13.”

“What?” Eddie says, dropping his cleaning supplies. “Fuck. Shit. I got distracted, I need to—”

Eddie scrambles until he’s standing again and races to his room, leaving behind the cleaning supplies and a slightly wet floor.

“I’ll just clean this up then, shall I,” he hears Stan mutter, and Patty laughs, before he slams the door behind him.

He hunkers down in front of the radio, feeling like Ralphie in A Christmas Story waiting to hear Little Orphan Annie’s secret message. He doesn’t even need to click through the stations, because he hadn’t changed the channel since Friday. At 9:15 exactly, Trashmouth’s voice fills the air, and Eddie feels his heartbeat just a little bit harder in his chest.

Welcome, welcome, welcome to the show! I am your host, Richie “Trashmouth” Tozier—

Eddie perks up at the mention of a name, and he quickly pulls out a notepad—the same one he used to write down the dates for Trashmouth’s segments—and scribbles out “RICHIE TOZURE (?)”. He then adds a second note underneath it that says “MIGHT BE SPELLED DIFFERENTLY”. 

Trashmouth—or, Richie, as he called himself—starts off by playing a few more selections from the Cure (which Eddie quickly realizes is a Trashmouth favorite) and one from a group called Prefab Sprout (which Eddie had never heard of, but decided quickly, sounded like any other 80s song ever made). At this point, Eddie is itching for him to start talking. And then, he does.

Alright, folks, as you frequent listeners know, I try to add little stories throughout my segments to keep things interesting. Don’t worry, I’ll still be doing that, but we’re also going to try something different today! My hopes are a little high for this one, but we’ll just see how it goes. If you’re listening, give us a call! ” 

Richie calls out the number for the station, but Eddie already has it queued up on his phone. He hesitates for a moment, just long enough to hear Richie give an uncomfortable laugh and start to repeat the phone number. Eddie clicks the call button. He hears Richie say “We got one? Already? ” and then there’s a click, and suddenly Richie’s voice is in his ear, just the same as the first time Eddie called.

Welcome, caller, to the marvelous Trashmouth show!

Eddie hears a distant voice shout, “That’s not what it’s called!

Not yet it isn’t! ” Richie says back, and then says in some sort of pompous voice, “With whom do I have the honor of speaking to presently?

“You don’t do calls often, do you?”

Oh my god. Oh, please, please tell me it’s who I think it is,” Richie says, sounding absolutely delighted.

Eddie sighs. “It’s K.”

Dr. K! ” Richie shouts, and Eddie huffs. “Boy, I was praying you’d come back, and here you are! Begging for my attention. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, does it?

“What the hell does that mean?”

Well, your mom was begging for my attention too, just last night. I told her you said hi, don’t worry.

There’s a pause before Eddie says incredulously, “Are you making a mom joke live on the radio, you absolute ass of a man?”

Watch the language, Dr. K, you’re live on the radio! ” Richie says in the same scandalized tone.

“Oh, shut the fuck up, I’ve heard you curse plenty of times during your stupid fucking story times, asshole,” Eddie shoots back, and Richie absolutely loses it. He’s full-blown cackling, and Eddie knows Richie’s probably in trouble with whoever is monitoring him during his segment. 

He catches himself smiling in the mirror and immediately scowls at his reflection for betraying him. 

“You didn’t answer my question,” Eddie says. Richie makes a curious noise and Eddie continues, “You said you were trying something different today. Do you not do calls usually?”

Nah. I sometimes give out the number during the show, but people rarely call so it’s usually just me playing tunes with occasional anecdotes to mix things up .”

“So why did you do it this time?” Eddie says.

Honestly, I, uh...I was kind of hoping you’d call in again,” Richie says, and if Eddie didn’t know any better he would say that he sounded embarrassed. 

“Oh,” Eddie breathes out, face feeling warm. 

Yeah,” Richie lets out a soft chuckle. “It was pretty fun talking to you last time, not going to lie. And my supervisor, Bill, agreed, so, uh...I thought I’d give it a shot. Turns out I had my hopes up for good reason .”

“I guess you did,” Eddie says, and he’s fairly certain he’s going to pass out from all the blood rushing to his face. 

It’s quiet for a moment, before Richie says, “Want to hear about the time I didn’t shower for a month on a dare?

Eddie squawks, “Do you just have worms for brains? Like, seriously? If I take a look inside your head, will there be a single wrinkle on that jelly bean of a brain you have?”

I’ll have you know, I was valedictorian at my school,” Richie says. 

“I find that incredibly hard to believe.”

It’s true! I graduated with a 4.0, but just the other day I forgot what a shopping cart was called for a solid thirty minutes. My brain is massive but empty, like a hot air balloon,” Richie says, sounding far too proud for a man who just admitted to forgetting the word shopping cart. “Wait, shit, I could’ve made a dick joke right there .”

A voice, presumably Bill, shouts distantly, “No you could not!

Eddie stifles an incredulous laugh, because the last thing he wants is for Richie to know just how genuinely funny Eddie actually thinks he is. Unfortunately, Eddie thinks he already knows. 



 

Friday comes and Eddie waits. He’s at the train station, monitoring the security video, waiting. He tries to remember what time it was the last time he saw the smiling man. It was near the end of his shift, right? Around 8, maybe 8:30? And here Eddie is, at 7:17pm, eyes darting across the screen just to make sure he doesn’t miss him. If he even is coming, that is. 

The later it gets, the lower Eddie’s expectations drop. It’s around the same time the smiling was there last week, and if he hasn’t shown up yet, then Eddie may as well give up on seeing him ever again. 

The train pulls in, and Eddie has given up hope. But then, a man comes running into view. Not just any man, it’s the man, the smiling man. His chest is heaving, out of breath and obviously in a hurry. And yet, despite how he very nearly missed his train, the man still takes the time to step into the same spot where he was last week—directly in front of the camera, as if he wants to make sure somebody sees him. Then he pulls down his glasses as if he were checking someone out, and winks at the camera, before rushing onto the train. 

Eddie resists turning off the camera completely, as if he were caught doing something he shouldn’t be. He grumbles, feeling a burning hotness trail up his neck. Stupid. 

Eddie adopts a new routine. Every Tuesday night he talks with Richie on his radio show. Every Friday evening, Eddie watches the train station man flirt with the security camera—winking, smiling, bouncing his eyebrows up and down suggestively, each action making Eddie sweat for reasons he doesn’t want to think about. After that, Eddie rushes home to talk to Richie on his show again.

That’s what he’s doing now, although this time he was too eager to wait until he was home to call Richie, so he made a call in the car on the way home instead. That may have been a mistake.

“Hey, dickhead! My mom drives faster than you, and she’s dead!” Eddie shouts. Richie is cackling on the line, echoing between the phone and the radio, which was turned down to the minimum.

You kiss your mother with that mouth? ” Richie says.

“I literally just said she’s dead, Trashmouth,” Eddie says, although not at all as pissed off as he was only moments before. Turns out Richie had that effect on him.

Talented woman, then, because she’s still the best lover I’ve ever had,” Richie says, and Eddie laughs.

That’s another thing that has changed since Eddie started calling in regularly. He lets himself laugh. He was worried that Richie would never let him hear the end of it, that the infamous stick-in-the-mud Dr. K actually found Trashmouth’s humor funny. Instead, Richie’s voice would get this softness to it that made Eddie feel like a cage of wild moths were raging inside his stomach. 

“You really are something, Richie,” Eddie says. He had finally arrived at his apartment, so now he’s just sitting in his car, parked but keeping the car on so he can still hear the radio.

Yeah? ” Richie says, his voice doing that soft thing again. Eddie feels like he could melt into his seat.

“Yeah,” Eddie says. “Don’t let that get to your head, though.”

Oh, too late. It’s already inflated to the size of a relatively large watermelon, ” Richie says. “Not, like, competition-winning, but it’s pretty damn big .”

“Please don’t say it—”

Just like my dick,” Richie says, and Eddie sighs, although he’s smiling all the same. “You know what I call my dick, Dr. K?

“I don’t think I want to know.”

Steve Buscemi. ” Richie pauses to let Eddie snort. “Wanna know why?

“No I do not,” Eddie says, although he definitely does.

Because he’s in everything.

Eddie wheezes and laughs, a loud guffaw that he never thought he would be comfortable enough to let out. He can hear Richie chuckling on the other end—encouraged by Eddie’s own deranged laughter, no doubt. 

“You’re an idiot, Trashmouth,” Eddie finally says, still chuckling.

That’s my name, baby, don’t wear it out,” Richie says, a smile in his voice.

Eddie squirms in his seat, reminding himself that this is just a radio persona. He’s a flirty guy, that’s just who he is. Maybe when he’s off the air he’s entirely different. Maybe he’s shy, even. Maybe he gets embarrassed when someone else calls him a cute pet name for a change...

Eddie startles when someone bangs on his window, palms flat against the glass like a police raid. 

“Christ!” Eddie shouts, and he hears Richie make a startled noise. Bev stares at him through the window with a single judging eyebrow raised. “Shit, sorry, it’s—it’s Bev, I gotta go. Talk to you next time, Trashmouth.”

Eddie hangs up, distantly hearing Richie’s voice on the radio saying, “You listeners must be wondering, who in the world is Bev? Well, so am I! Find out next time with Trashmouth and Dr. K! ”  Eddie smiles to himself, allowing himself a childish moment to appreciate the sound of their names together, before rolling down the car window.

“What the hell are you still doing out here?” Bev says immediately. “I saw you park, like, 10 minutes ago.”

“I just got distracted!” Eddie says, pocketing his phone. He knows he looks guilty, and it’s only made worse by the flush creeping onto his face. 

Bev smiles like a shark who’s smelt blood in the water, and Eddie is already shaking his head.

“No, no, Bev, not like that—”

“It’s a boy, isn’t it? It’s definitely a boy, I can see it on your face.”

“No!”

“It totally is!”

Eddie huffs and opens his door, consequentially shoving Bev out of the way as he heads towards the apartment.

“You’ve literally got the complexion of a fire hydrant right now,” Bev says, catching up to him before he can go inside without her.

Eddie opens the door for her despite his irritation, “Fire hydrants aren’t always red, you know; they can be yellow, or green, or blue if it’s a waterworks hydrant, which is not actually meant for fire use.”

“Wow, your face just keeps getting redder. Is he really that hot?”

“Shut up, Beverly!”

They bicker as they go up the three flights of stairs it takes to get to their apartment, and continue to do so when they get inside. She pesters him up until he slams the door to his bedroom in her face. He can hear her laughing even as she walks away, and he can’t help but smile and shake his head. He never had a sister before, but if anyone came close to it in his life, it was Beverly Marsh.

Eddie strips down, about to change into his pajamas when he stops, catching his own eye in the mirror. He was hunched over, about to put a leg in his pants, but he drops them and stands up straight. He takes himself in, only wearing his boxers. 

He’s a fairly fit guy. He’s not Ben levels of ripped, but he works out regularly to maintain a healthy lifestyle. He looks down at himself, poking the skin near his belly button. He doesn’t grow a whole lot of hair, so his stomach is toned and smooth, apart from a tiny happy trail that he usually keeps shaven. 

Richie would probably call me a twink, Eddie thinks before he can stop himself.

Eddie slaps a hand over his eyes, hissing at himself to quit being so fucking stupid. He shoves on the pajama pants, and then watches the blush across his chest disappear as he slides on an old ThunderCats t-shirt. Stupid, stupid, stupid.

Eddie turns on the radio. Richie isn’t talking, it’s just music, and Eddie fears he’ll fall asleep before he can hear Richie talk again. Then, Forever Young fades out, and Trashmouth starts talking.

So, I think I’ve mentioned him before, but my friend Adrian got married this past week! Now, some of you may be wondering, ‘Is this the same guy that performed the entire Single Ladies dance routine in the middle of psych class in order to get out of taking the final, and succeeded?’ Yes, indeed! ” Richie throws on an announcer voice and says, “Ladies and gentlemen and variations thereupon, our very own Adrian M. got hitched! Who would’ve thought? Not me!

He only talks for a minute longer before going into the next song, but Eddie wishes he would keep going. Just two hours straight of Trashmouth telling stories that usually have nothing to do with the songs he plays, but they draw the listener in none-the-less. Trashmouth had made it seem like he didn’t have that big of a following, but Eddie couldn’t understand why anyone wouldn’t be immediately invested upon hearing his voice. Everything about him just screams ‘Listen to me. Listen to me. I could talk for hours on end and you wouldn’t have a single problem with that because you want to hear my voice until it goes raw from exertion .’

Okay, maybe that part’s just Eddie.

Soon enough it’s nearing the end of Trashmouth’s segment, and Eddie has nearly called three times. He doesn’t do that, that’s not the routine—he calls once each segment and then listens to the rest until it’s over or he falls asleep. He already called in the car, he can’t do it again. Would they even accept it? They couldn’t, could they?

Alright folks! We’re nearing the end of the show, so as always I wanna say a big thank you to all my listeners—

Eddie already has his phone up to his ear.

Oh, looks like we’ve got a scraggler! ” Richie says on the radio, and then he’s talking on the phone. “Hey there, this’ll have to be a short call since we’re wrapping up soon, but I can never deny my fans a chance to listen to my handsome voice up close and personal. What’s your name, caller?

Eddie takes a deep breath, willing himself not to hang up and let Richie assume it was a prank call. He can do this. 

“Hey, Trashmouth. Me again.”

There’s a pause, and then a soft noise, like disbelieving laughter. “My, my, do my ears deceive me? Dr. K, is that you? For the second time today?

“Yeah, yeah, don’t get a big head about it,” Eddie says, burrowing into his covers as if he could hide from the embarrassment. “This is a one time thing.”

And what exactly is ‘this’? ” Richie asks.

Eddie bites the inside of his cheek, then says, “It’s stupid, honestly, I just...”

You just...?

Eddie swallows his pride, and mutters, “I just wanted to say goodnight, Trashmouth.”

Silence.

Oh,” he says, a whoosh of air against his microphone more than a word. He clears his throat. He says in the same quiet tone, as if any louder will break whatever tension is in the airwaves, “Goodnight, Dr. K. Get some rest, you have lives to save in the morning .”

Eddie snorts, “You know I’m not a doctor, asshole.”

Well, you’ve certainly stopped my heart,” Richie says.

Ignoring the pounding in his chest, Eddie says, “Doctors are supposed to start hearts, not stop them, dumbass.”

Richie chuckles and says, “And I thought you were saying goodnight .”

“I was! I am. Goodnight, Richie.”

Goodnight, K.”

The line goes dead, and Eddie moves to turn up the radio. It’s quiet for a moment, and Eddie briefly wonders if he ended the show already.

Then, Trashmouth clears his throat again and says in a voice that’s much more gentle than his usual brash enthusiasm at the end of shows, “ Goodnight everybody. Enjoy some painful longing while I sign off—my name is Richie ‘Trashmouth’ Tozier, thank you very much .”

Head Over Heels by Tears for Fears pours out of the radio, and Eddie wonders if it means something. If Richie is thinking of him—Dr. K—while this song plays.

Eddie lays down and closes his eyes, letting the music wash over him as he imagines what Richie “Trashmouth” Tozier might look like.

Long hair—not too long, just longer than Eddie’s. Just below his ears, maybe, and a dark color. Brown, almost black.

Glasses with thick rims, the lens so thick it would probably be illegal for him to operate heavy machinery without them.

Obnoxious Hawaiian print button ups...

Eddie’s eyes snap open when he realizes he’s been picturing the man from the train station. Eddie groans, slipping the pillow out from under his head and stuffing it over his face.

So he has two crushes. One on a man he’s never seen before, and one he’s never even spoken to. Fucking marvelous.



 

The next time Eddie talks to Richie on the radio, neither of them bring up Eddie calling just to say goodnight. Why would they? There’s no point. Richie does, however, bring up something else.

Do you have Twitter, Dr. K?

“What? No, why would I?”

You’re in your mid-twenties and you don’t have Twitter?

“I literally just said that I don’t.”

Well, my followers sure seem interested in you.”

“They—what?”

And Richie, being the ass that he is, doesn’t elaborate any further, so that leaves it to Eddie to download Twitter later that day and see just what the fuck he’s talking about. He doesn’t personalize his account in any way, just leaves it as the default profile picture and header, and goes straight to the search bar.

He looks up “trashmouth” and gets thousands of results.

 

amy asf @trashmouthstoe

anyone else wanna see dr. k become a permanent part of trashmouth’s show or



marie | 9 days!!! @1980shorrorfilm

is it just me or is dr. k’s voice like...hot as fuck



dear god give me rest @givebillrest

Replying to @1980shorrorfilm

you do know that’s a real person, right? quit being creepy



marie | 9 days!!! @1980shorrofilm 

Replying to @1980shorrorfilm @givebillrest

relax dude trashmouth literally liked my tweet lmao

 

Eddie spends a minute trying to figure out how to look at the specific people who liked that tweet, and sees that Richie did, in fact, like it. @trashmouthofficial is the username, and Eddie clicks on it faster than he’s ever clicked on anything before. 

He has 200k followers, which was way more than Eddie had expected, and yet he’s not surprised. If anything, now that he thinks about it, he should have more. His account doesn’t have any pictures of him though, Eddie realizes with disappointment—just a generic photo of a radio microphone as his profile picture and then TRASHMOUTH in big bold letters as his header. 

Then he sees his latest tweet, from two weeks ago.

 

TRASHMOUTH @trashmouthofficial

anyone else thinking about dr. k

 

The tweet has thousands of comments, retweets, likes. Eddie has to sit down and run through his breathing exercises in order to get his face back to its normal temperature. Then he likes the tweet.



 

When Eddie sees the train station man on Friday again, he’s expecting to get the usual. It normally goes like this: the man enters the camera’s field of vision, he waits until he hears the train coming (his head always perks up a little bit, which is how Eddie knows the train is about to arrive), and then he shoots a flirty look the camera’s way before leaving. (Eddie’s vaguely aware that he should be paying just as much attention to the other occupants in the train station, but he can’t help that his focus is drawn to him so easily. Nothing happens at the train station anyway, so what harm is being done, really?)

This time, Eddie sees the man step into the frame, and instead of waiting for the sound of the train first, he immediately starts bouncing his eyebrows up and down in a ridiculous flirty face. Almost like he was trying to get Eddie’s attention. He winks to complete the look, and then does something even more peculiar—he nods his head in a “c’mere” sort of gesture, but Eddie obviously can’t come down there, so he does the closest thing to it and zooms in on him. It must have been what the man wanted, because suddenly he’s holding up a small sign. In big, sloppy handwriting, it says:

Text me! XOXO ;)

At the bottom is a string of numbers. A phone number. 

Eddie immediately whips out his phone before the sign can disappear. His palms are sweating and he feels lightheaded as he types, so he makes the text as aggressive as possible to make up for the uncomfortable feeling of vulnerability in his chest.

 

To: Unknown Number

Do you know how fucking easy it would be for a serial killer to see you broadcasting your phone number to the world, this is so fucking stupid and reckless.

 

There, he sent it. Contact with train station man has been made. 

 

From: Unknown Number

it got ur attention didn't it?

 

Eddie huffs and tells himself that wasn’t charming, not in the least. He sees the typing bubble pop up again before he can respond.

 

From: Unknown Number

so what made u answer this time? i tried the same trick on tuesday and got nothing

 

To: Unknown Number

You’re telling me this isn’t the first time you flashed around your personal information like a moron?

 

And then, before the man could respond:

 

To: Unknown Number

I don’t have any shifts on Tuesdays.

 

From: Unknown Number

fridays work tho?

 

To: Unknown Number

Obviously they do. I’ve been watching you flirt with the security camera for weeks now.

 

From: Unknown Number

and u just left me hanging? wow :/

 

To: Unknown Number

I literally had no way of contacting you, asshole, what the fuck did you expect me to do?

 

From: Unknown Number

easy with the cursing sailor! i could report u!

 

You don’t even know who I am, Eddie responds, although he realizes he should probably ease up on the insults just in case. This was a complete stranger, after all.

 

From: Unknown Number

unclench, mystery person, that’s all part of the fun

 

To: Unknown Number

If you have me saved as ‘mystery person’ in your contacts, I’m blocking you.

 

From: Unknown Number

why, what do u have me saved as?

 

To: Unknown Number

Oh. Um. 

 

From: Unknown Number

u don’t even have my contact saved do u????

 

To: Unknown Number

We’ve been talking for like five minutes!

 

From: Unknown Number

but i’ve been flirting with u for weeks ;)

 

To: Unknown Number

You’ve been flirting with a security camera.

 

From: Unknown Number

and now i have u!

wait, if u don’t mind me asking, are u like a dude or

 

To: Unknown Number

Yes. I’m, “like, a dude.” 

 

From: Unknown Number

perfect, that would’ve been awkward as fuck if u weren’t

 

To: Unknown Number

Why?

 

From: Unknown Number

i know i’m unbelievably attractive and no one can resist my ruggedly handsome looks...

 

Eddie snorts at his phone.

 

From: Unknown Number

but i only play for one team

 

A pause, and then:

 

From: Unknown Number

the gay team, if that wasn’t clear

 

Eddie stops to stare at the words. He’s ashamed to admit that he never even considered the possibility that the train station man could have been straight in the first place. Technically, he never considered the possibility he was gay, either. He never thought he would talk to him whatsoever, so he figured it didn’t matter.

 

To: Unknown Number

Oh. Okay.

 

From: Unknown Number

is that...okay??? 

i mean if ur a homophobe you can fuck right off 

 

To: Unknown Number

No! No, I’m not homophobic, fuck no.

 

From: Unknown Number

oh. cool.

so are you

like

ya know

 

To: Unknown Number

I don’t think that’s any of your business.

 

Eddie thinks the guy will laugh it off, make a joke about it, maybe prod him some more. But he’s surprised when he responds with more understanding than he expected.

 

From: Unknown Number

no right yeah of course that was totally crossing a line

if i ever go too far just say “beep beep richie” and i’ll shut the fuck up

 

Eddie holds his breath. No way, no fucking way.

 

To: Unknown Number

Two things. One, stop apologizing, it’s weird. Yes, I’m gay, I was just fucking with you. 

Two. Richie? That’s your name?

 

From: Unknown Number

ah, fuck, i ruined the mystery

yeah that’s me

 

To: Richie (Train Man)

Cool. Good to know.

 

He can see Richie’s head lift up in the security camera, looking towards the arriving train. He glances back down at his phone, typing.

 

From: Richie (Train Man)

gotta go, mystery man

 

To: Richie (Train Man)

See you next time, Train Man.

 

He sees Richie look down at his phone and laugh, shaking his head with a smile. Eddie finds himself smiling as well as he watches him hop into the train and disappear.

They’re both named Richie. What a fucking coincidence, he thinks.

Unless, of course, it isn’t one.