Life wasn’t always fair and evenly balanced. There wasn’t always a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, a reward at the end of the battle, a happy ending.
No one knew this better than the Losers Club, or what remained of them.
They’d won against impossible odds, saving countless lives and freeing Derry from the evil that had been plaguing it, but it had come at a huge cost. Eddie, Stan, and even little Georgie were the price that had to be paid for their victory.
Victors though they were, they didn’t walk away unscathed, nor without loss.
Yet life goes on and slowly but surely they scattered to the winds again, never forgetting but free to really live now that the curse was broken. The world was a lighter place for those who remained, and before they knew it a whole year had passed and the turtle was ready to grant them their long overdue reward.
There were rules to be followed, of course, there always are. Life and death are final, irreversible things, for the good of all. However there was one gift Maturin could offer the Losers. An opportunity not usually granted, the chance to say goodbye and say the things left unspoken in life.
And so as each of the remaining Losers closed their eyes that night, drifting off to peaceful slumber, they found themselves waking in the vast expanse of the Macroverse. They were understandably confused at first, sensing that this was no ordinary dream. Yet as they looked forward and noticed a figure standing before them the silence was broken.
Unphased by the strange circumstances, and the potential danger presented, Richie ran towards the other man. His tall figure slipped past the others, even as they reached out in an attempt to stop him, before crashing into Eddie’s smaller form.
“Get off me, what the fuck, are you trying to crush me you giant idiot?”
Eddie expected a joking retort from his friend, a return to their usual banter, and so he was caught off guard when Richie simply tightened his hold and began crying into his hair. He turned to the others, expecting to see them laughing at some joke he wasn’t getting, but instead they were watching with expressions filled with sadness.
“Hey, Rich, buddy, do you think you can ease up a bit please?”
Like a flipped switch, Richie gasped and pulled away, staggering backwards a few steps, breathing harshly.
“What the fuck, what the fuck, what the actual fuck.” He began to hyperventilate, pulling away further as a concerned Eddie reached out for him.
“You’re dead. I saw you die, your body-” his voice cracked, “Definitely dead… so WHAT THE FUCK IS THIS!?”
Richie turned and yelled into the endless void that surrounded them, “I’m so fucking sick of all these games! Is this your idea of fun, you fucking ASSCLOWN!?”
“Richie, hon, calm down please.” He collapsed, sobbing, into Beverly’s gentle embrace.
“What…” Eddie was so confused, “Is he… okay?”
“Oh Eddie, not really, I don’t think he’s been okay for a while now. But that’s something the two of you need to talk about.” Her voice was filled with a soft sadness, as she pushed Richie to stand properly “Join the rest of us when you’re ready okay, I’m sure the others will want to see you too.”
Bev gestured towards the group, and Richie’s shock deepened as he saw Bill kneeling down to hug a small, familiar boy wearing a yellow raincoat. Standing, watching with tears in their eyes, were the other Losers. ALL the other Losers, including a familiar man with blonde curls and sensible clothing, who Richie recognised without recognising. Stan the Man, of course it was, he would grow up to be the exact same person he’d been as a child, old before his time.
The small gathering was throwing not-so-subtle, furtive looks their way, before Bev made her way back over and spoke in hushed tones. Whatever she said, they seemed to realise the two men needed privacy, and stopped trying to catch a glimpse of whatever was going on.
Now left alone, Richie turned his teary, confused gaze back to Eddie, unsure of what to say.
“You have the unique opportunity to speak to the dead and that’s what you give me?” Eddie grinned up at him.
“Your last words to me were ‘I fucked your mom’ dude.”
There was a brief, tense moment, before both of them broke into emotional giggles, fueled more by the absurdity and tragedy of the situation than actual mirth.
“Eds, I gotta tell you something.”
“Are you for real right now!?” He jabbed Richie in the chest with his finger, brow furrowed in (mostly pretend) annoyance.
“What?” Richie seemed genuinely confused, eyes wide behind thick glasses, before he realised what it sounded like and let out another spurt of laughter.
“That’s not where I was going, get your mind out of the gutter Eddie Spaghetti.”
“You’re an ass.” Eddie folded his arms and fixed Richie with a harsh glare.
‘He’s so cute when he’s angry, always has been.’
“And you’re cute, cute, cute!”
His glare only deepened as Richie reached out to pinch his cheek, unintimidated by his friend’s angry looks.
“Are you done?” Eddie sounded fondly exasperated, “What is it you wanted to tell me?”
“Well, you see… the thing is.”
The way Richie was stumbling over his words, a departure from his usual unending stream of chatter, made Eddie realise that this was something serious and desperately important. This was why the turtle had given them this chance, and he didn’t want it to slip through their fingers.
Reaching out he gently took Richie’s hand in his, giving it a quick squeeze in what he hoped was a supportive manner. His friend’s eyes widened at the gesture, his gaze snapping down to stare at their joined hands with a shocked, almost terrified, expression.
“Hey, it’s okay Richie, whatever it is you have to tell me, it’ll be okay.”
“I, uh…” He took a deep breath, “I love you Eds.”
“I know man, I love you too, you’re like my best friend. So whatever it is, I won’t judge you.”
“No, no you don’t understand.”
Richie raked a hand through his wild curls, frustrated with both himself and the way Eddie just didn’t seem to be picking up what he was putting down.
His frustration peaked and the confession burst forth uncontrollably, “I’m IN love with you!”, followed by a choked scream before he buried his face in his hands.
“Wait, what?” Eddie was certain he’d misheard, that there was something vital he was missing.
“That’s my big secret, I’m in love with you. I think I always have been.”
Eddie was suddenly super conscious of the fact that he was still holding Richie’s hand, clasping at it with a sweaty palm. He thought that maybe he should let go, but he instead moved to entwine their fingers, tightening his grip.
“You never said anything.”
“Well yeah Eds, that’s kind of what made it a secret.”
“I never said anything either…”
Moving quickly he leaned up and pressed a kiss to Richie’s lips, his free hand coming to rest on a strong, wide shoulder. Eddie both resented and reveled in the fact that he had to almost stand on his tippy-toes to reach, his mind overlapping the image of his scrawny childhood friend with the broad, tall man he’d become.
At first Richie didn’t move, and Eddie worried he’d somehow misread the situation horribly, but as he went to pull away he found himself yanked forward into a much more passionate kiss. Behind them there was a cacophony of raucous cheers and wolf whistles from their friends, which they both elected to ignore.
It was their first kiss, and their last kiss, and a kiss they almost never got, if not for the intervention of one godlike turtle allowing them to transcend the barrier of death itself.
But everything ends, in the end, and before long the living Losers could feel their minds being pulled back to the world of the waking. Amidst tearful goodbyes came the realisation that this was the closure they all needed, and upon returning it would be time to move on.
As the others faded from view, Richie kept his eyes glued on Eddie’s face, taking in every detail and committing it to memory. He would never forget the boy who was his first love again, or the man he became, and he knew that one day they would see each other again.