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murder love in the night

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Eddie's only on his first drink when he hears the man's laughter - a loud, braying, almost hysterical noise that cuts through the din of the bar.

It's a stupid noise, Eddie thinks. The sound a struck donkey would make combined with the noise of a hissing kettle on the stove. Something high-pitched and carefree. It makes Eddie stiffen in his seat, a flash of anger rippling through him. Someone only laughed like that when they didn't care who was around, when all they were thinking about was their own fun and sending a big fuck you to anyone who didn't like it.  

Eddie wishes he knew how it felt to have that kind of confidence. 

He hadn't wanted to come out tonight. He'd only wanted to lie in bed and watch old movies on his crappy TV.

A Place In The Sun was on this evening, an old favourite of momma's when she'd still been alive. It starred Montgomery Clift as the male lead, who Eddie had always gazed at dreamily when he'd been on TV, trying to hide his wistful expression from his mom. But it didn't matter; Sonia Kaspbrak had always been too busy chowing down her TV dinner to ever notice the yearning dripping from Eddie's face. 

But Eddie didn't have the luxury of lying around and watching TV tonight.

It had been two weeks since he last brought a man home, and he barely had enough money left to buy food and pay his bills. Plus he knew that any day now his landlord would come banging on his door, his closed fist to the wood, telling Eddie he needed his rent right now.

But the worst thing was looking at his pill bottles that morning and seeing how low he was running. It was something that almost made him puke. Because Eddie couldn't get by without them. He could go without food if he had to, could risk getting kicked out his apartment like he had been before, but he couldn't go a day without the comfort of his pills - knowing he could pop one at any time and blur the edges a little. 

So that evening Eddie had dragged himself out of bed, turned off his TV, took a shower, and styled his hair. He'd chosen an outfit - something low-key, but that still revealed enough skin to be tantalising - and put on some make-up, just a hint of mascara and some lip pencil to make his mouth look pinker and fuller, and walked over to one of the scuzzier bars on the Lower East Side.

The place Eddie chose was a total dive, a place where there was always more than one light broken, and where the wood at the bar was scratched and stubbed from cigarettes. But the beer was cheap, and it was popular with men from neighbouring offices, who liked to drop in for a drink after work before going home to their girlfriends or wives.

Eddie had picked up tricks here twice before, so he hoped he'd have the same luck tonight.

No one approached Eddie at first. But that was fairly normal. The men around him usually had to suss out if he was really alone, or if he was waiting for someone. Even then he'd probably just get some cocky asshole who wanted Eddie to give him a blowjob in the alley out back, or a closet case who'd want to go home with Eddie, but just to watch him jerk off, telling himself if he didn't join in then he wasn't really gay.

But Eddie needed something more tonight. He needed more money. And that meant waiting around for someone who wanted to fuck him.

He's about to order a second drink, when he hears the same laughter crack through the bar again like a whip. He doesn't know why but the sound makes him bristle all over, like a cat when you rubbed its fur in the wrong direction. 

"We've got a loud one tonight," the bartender says where he's pouring straight whiskey into someone's glass.

Eddie throws a look over his shoulder to see who's causing all the racket, and that's when he sees him.

The dark-haired man.

He stands at the centre of a small maelstrom at the back of the bar. Surrounded by people grinning and grouped around him. He's taller than everyone else in his little party, and he has large glasses and a mop of dark brown, chin-length hair. It looks like he's telling a joke because his face is twisting into a variety of goofy expressions, his voice booming, and the people around him lap it up, all laughing and cheering him on.

Eddie rolls his eyes - there was a joker at every bar he went to. Always some douchebag with an inflated sense of self who had to take up all the air in the room. Men like that lost all their braggadocio once they were behind closed doors and usually came after 10 seconds too.

Idiot, Eddie thinks. Stupid fucking asshole. 

And then it happens. All of a sudden - mid joke - the man stops laughing. His friends look at him quizzically, and one woman knocks her shoulder against him, obviously impatient to hear the rest of the joke. But the man ignores her, eyes hazy like he's trying to remember something.

A second later his head snaps towards the bar and his eyes meet Eddie's across the room.

It's instantly electrifying.

Their eyes meet and even in the dark, all the way across the room, Eddie feels something zip up his spine, setting his nerves on fire.

Eddie freezes, the air in his throat stopping until he feels like he can't breathe. 

He thinks, stupidly, did the man sense he had been thinking about him?

Across the room, the man doesn't smile at Eddie. He doesn't raise his beer in greeting. All he does is stare at him. Until, suddenly, in a tiny act that makes Eddie feel like his skin is ablaze, gives him a lazy little wink that pierces Eddie right through the chest. 

Eddie whips around in his seat so fast he knocks his drink over, spilling it across his t-shirt and his bar.

The bartender is there in an instant, mopping up the spillage with a cloth pulled from his waist. 

"Hey, you okay?" he asks, probably noticing the frantic expression on Eddie's face. 

"I'm fine, sorry about that," Eddie mumbles. "I've always been really clumsy."

He tries to smile at the bartender, but his heart is racing. He feels like he's run a marathon, or just broken out of one of his nightmares. 

"Are you sure?" the bartender asks, his face creased with kind lines, "you look like you've seen a ghost."

"I don't believe in ghosts," Eddie says, trying to keep the tremor from his voice.

But there was something familiar about the man, Eddie thinks. Something about the sound of his laugh and the way his dark hair falls around his face that prods the back of Eddie's head with insistent fingers. 

But he couldn't have met him before. Eddie remembered all his past tricks, and he wasn't exactly a social creature. He didn't have friends who could have introduced them. Maybe he'd served him once in his last job waiting tables at an Italian bistro on the Upper East Side. The one where Eddie almost had a full-blown panic attack the day a colleague had tripped up and spilled a bowl of marinara sauce all down Eddie's work uniform. 

His shift that day had ended in Eddie fighting nervous tears in the break room while his manager calmly said they couldn't have incidents like this again. Having staff bursting into tears was bad for business, and why did Eddie look so frightened every time he had to serve a customer?

Eddie hadn't lasted long in the job after that.

Remember, a little voice says at the back of his head, but he can't.

Eddie never had a great memory. It was the result of a mysterious head injury he'd sustained as a child. That explained his anxiety disorder too, momma had said. Though Eddie didn't know what his memory had to do with also having a delicate immune system and an extreme allergy to cashew nuts. Or why he woke up in the night sometimes, in a cold sweat from the tangled embrace of his nightmares. The ones where he was trailing knee-deep through cold water in the dark, or where he felt his arm crunch sickeningly after falling 50 floors through an old castle.

"You sure you're okay?" the bartender asks. 

Eddie nods, swallowing down the lump in his throat. He hates thinking of the past. Or at least the past he remembers. 

"You might want to clean that up," the bartender gestures, and Eddie looks down to see the front of his t-shirt is soaked in booze.

He grimaces. He'll have no hope of picking up a man if he's sitting here reeking like a wino.

"I'll be back in a minute," he tells the bartender, who nods and goes to serve a couple leaning over the bar demanding shots.

The bathrooms are located at the back of the bar, and Eddie realises by the time it's too late that getting there means walking past the group of loud-mouths and their ring-leader: the dark-haired man with his piercing eyes and high-pitched laugh. 

Their laughter and conversation get louder as he gets closer to them. They're talking about something strange, Eddie notices. Something about wigs? Eddie sees there's something theatrical about them, in their exaggerated gestures and loud, booming voices. Like they were on a stage.

Were they actors maybe? A theatre troupe? 

The dark-haired man is the loudest out of all of them. Up close Eddie notices that he has blue eyes behind his glasses. That his front teeth are a little too large. His long hair is slightly greasy too, like he hasn't washed it in a couple of days.

"-and I said to Lorne, get off my fucking case, man. The skit's gonna be good, just fucking trust me for once-"

He cuts off his anecdote as Eddie walks past, and Eddie has to tell himself to keep walking, to not glance over and meet his eyes. Because he just knows there's a small, mocking smile on the man's mouth right now, and Eddie doesn't want that confirmed for him. 

In the hush of the bathrooms, Eddie takes a deep breath. His heart hammers and he thinks, shut up, please just shut up. 

He hadn't risked taking a pill before he came out tonight, hadn't wanted to pick away at the small supply he had left, but now he'd do anything for a Xanax or a Valium. Anything to feel his head fill with clouds, or feel his limbs grow heavy like honey.

Everything felt too sharp when he wasn't on pills. Like the world had been sketched in harsh colours and all he could do was stumble around, shielding his face from the blinding light and loud noise, until he took a pill and could feel sane again. It had been like that for years. Ever since he was a child and his mother had forced open his mouth saying, It'll be okay, Eddie-bear, just take your medicine for mommy and you'll feel better.

In the mirror, Eddie's reflection shocks him. He's too pale - like a vampire's victim after it's been drained of blood - and his eyes are huge and dark.

He knew he wasn't supposed to look like this. You were supposed to look sultry when you picked up tricks. Seductive and warm. But all Eddie felt was scared. He'd stumbled into selling himself as clumsily as a newborn deer and somehow he got by. But all he ever felt was sick and frightened every time he did it. Like he was one encounter away from ending up a bundle of limbs dumped by the side of the road.

The door opens suddenly as Eddie's cleaning the mess on his t-shirt and he almost jumps out of his skin, falling back against the sinks. 

He expects it to be the dark-haired man - Eddie has an image of him charging in and pinning him hard against the mirror, of squeezing him until the glass cracks against his cheek - but it's just some guy in a shirt and tie, who gives Eddie a weird look where he's huddled against the sinks.

"Sorry," he mutters, as he throws the wad of wet tissues into the trash can and ducks through the door before the man can talk to him.

On the way back to the bar, one of the men in the circle of laughing friends eyes him up.

"Hey chica," he says - a douchey-looking blonde with his hair pulled up in a ponytail. "Wanna join us?" 

He shuts up as soon as the dark-haired man elbows him in the side. Though the man doesn't say anything as he sips slowly from his beer. All he does is look at Eddie over the neck of his bottle, the heat from his eyes searing into Eddie's back as he pushes past them as quickly as possible.

Back at the bar, Eddie's about to order another drink when a man suddenly appears at his side. 

Bingo, Eddie thinks wearily. 

"Hello there," the man says nervously.

He's heavyset, with a moustache, clad in a suit and tie. Obviously a businessman. Probably a closet case with a wife and kids at home.

"Hi," Eddie replies, keeping his voice low and soft.

"I couldn't help but notice you from across the bar. I hope I'm not intruding?"

"Not at all. I was hoping for some company."

The man smiles at him, or at least tries to. From the look on his face, it could be anything from a smile to a pained grimace. He obviously wasn't used to chatting up younger men. Not that Eddie needed him to talk. All he needed was his pants around his ankles and his money.

The man sucks in a deep breath and he exhales on a very fast, "Can I buy you a drink?"

"Sure, that sounds nice," Eddie says, angling his body so he's facing the man, making himself look open. "I'll have a white wine please."

"Of course. An elegant choice for such an elegant young man."

Whatever, Eddie thinks, resisting the urge to roll his eyes. 

The man orders the wine for Eddie and some redneck beer for himself. Not the most natural conversationalist, he fidgets as Eddie runs his finger along the rim of his wine glass. Out of the corner of his eye, Eddie can see a bead of sweat run down his temple from his hairline. He tries not to recoil. He doesn't want to think about what the man's going to look like on top of him. How he'll heave and sweat, grunting like a skewered pig.

"You're very attractive," the man suddenly blurts.

"Thank you," Eddie replies, keeping his voice soft.

"Why are you here alone tonight?"

"Oh you know, hoping I'd meet the right guy I guess. It's so hard meeting a nice guy in New York."

"I can't believe someone like you would be single. You're so young and beautiful," the man simpers.

And Eddie's about to reply with something equally as stupid - anything to hook the man into emptying his wallet - when he realises he can't hear the dark-haired man anymore. He glances over his shoulder, but the man's gone, his chair replaced by some bookish guy with big hair.

He doesn't know why, but it makes disappointment flare in his chest.

"Are you waiting for someone?" the man asks.

"No," Eddie says. He shoots the man a smile, tries to make it look genuine. "I'm here alone."

"I hope you don't mind when I say I'm glad. It feels like fate meeting you tonight."

"It really does," Eddie agrees, forcing the words out of his mouth. 

The man smiles, going red in the face. It's an unpleasant look, like seeing blood vessels bursting under his skin. It makes Eddie think of blood capillaries and enlarged veins, and he fights the urge to retch as he lifts his wine glass to his mouth. 

They make idle chit-chat for a while - the man is a manager at a bank a couple of blocks down and he travels in from Queens every day; Eddie lies about being a Fine Arts grad student with a part-time job as a curator's assistant - until the man plucks up the courage to take things further. 

"Would you like to-" the man stumbles, gives a nervous chuckle. "Would you maybe like to get out of here?"

"Sure," Eddie says mildly. "But it'll cost you."

The man blinks at him, and Eddie sees the wheels turning in his head as he figures out what Eddie's saying.

"Oh!" he says, once it's finally hit him. "I mean, of course, that would be delightful, that would be more than delightful, it would be-"

"Yeah?" Eddie says, lowering his voice even more. He leans in until he's almost between the man's legs, giving him a sultry look from under his lashes. "Do you want to fuck me? Because you can. This time in an hour you could have me under you. All you need to do is pay for it."

The man stares at him, a dazed look seeping onto his face. "That- that sounds wonderful, I would love that, I would-"

"Great," Eddie cuts in, downing the rest of his drink, wanting this to be over with already. "How much do you have on you?"

The man rustles through his wallet clumsily for a few seconds. "I have 50 dollars on me but I can get more."

Eddie nods. "You'll need more than that. But we can stop by the ATM just down the street."

The man nods eagerly, throwing some money down on the bar to pay for their drinks.

"Where shall we go?" he asks, collecting his jacket from where he's just dropped it on the floor.

"My place isn't far from here, just a short taxi ride," Eddie says, politely waiting for the man to figure out how to put the jacket on.

"That would be perfect," the man says when he finally remembers how to use his brain.

"Follow me then, it's not far."

It's all going to plan. The same old routine. All Eddie needed to do was get him back, get him off, and then get his money. It should be done within the next hour. And then Eddie can reward himself with a hot shower and one of his pills. Maybe he could even catch the end of the movie. 

But what Eddie doesn't expect is for the man to surprise him. 

Which he does, once they're in the alleyway cutting around the entrance to the bar. 

"Stop for a moment, please," he says from behind Eddie.

"What is it?" Eddie asks, turning to look at him. "Have you forgotten something?"

Behind him, the man's face is half shrouded in shadow. He suddenly looks even bigger than he did back at the bar. He wasn't muscular, but he was large, like an overstuffed meat sandwich spilling out of its wrapper. 

Eddie feels a pinch of dread. Something was wrong.

"It's not that, I just... you really are so beautiful," the man says.

"Thanks," Eddie says, trying not to sound too impatient. "But you can tell me that once we're back at my place."

But the man shakes his head. "I don't think I can wait that long."

The fear pinches at Eddie again, harder this time. "What do you mean?" 

"I mean I- I was watching you all evening. How you sat at the bar. How you drank your wine. And I just know I can't wait to touch you."

Eddie swallows. "Come on, big guy," he says, going for flirtatious. "It's only 20 minutes, you can wait, can't you?"

The man shakes his head again, though this time the movement is looser, more uncoordinated. He suddenly looks like he's drunk.

"I can't," he says. "I need to touch you right now."

And Eddie's about to be a little firmer with him - it wasn't the first time a trick had been too insistent - when a memory sideswipes him. 

Though it's not a memory so much as a picture from one of his nightmares. Of a man with lesions bursting on his face and arms, staggering towards Eddie outside of an old house. A man riddled with disease, reaching out with blackened fingers and saying, "How about a blowjob, Eddie? Haven't you always wondered what it would be like to suck a cock? Why don't you show me what you can do with that pretty pink mouth?"

The picture is as gone as quickly as it arrives, but it still leaves Eddie reeling. Leaves him feeling faint and shaky.

"I said no," he says, when he's caught his breath. "I don't want you to touch me here. You can come back to mine and do it there, but that's it."

"Come on, beautiful," the man says, stumbling towards Eddie as if in a daze, "let me have a taste."

"I said no!"

But the man doesn't stop. He comes towards Eddie with that dopey, glazed expression on his face, and Eddie again thinks of the leper - the one from his nightmares - and something his mom always said to him as she tucked him into bed as a child.

You're just too beautiful, Eddie, men will never be able to resist your beauty.

Eddie jumps when the man touches his arm, and like a button has been pressed deep inside him, his hand flies out to strike the man's cheek.

"Get the fuck off me!" he shouts, as the man's face snaps to the side, three deep scratches blossoming on his ruddy skin.

Eddie recoils, looking at his hand, expecting to see lesions crawling up his arm. But his hand and forearm are perfectly white, and he realises, with horror, that he's just slapped his trick - the man who was going to give him enough money to pay his rent - around the face.

Eddie stares at him, appalled. "I'm so sorry," he says, "really, I didn't mean to-"

His words die when the man turns back to him, his expression thunderous. 

"You little bitch," he sees quietly. 

"I'm sorry, why don't we-"

Eddie doesn't have time to finish his sentence before the man lunges at him, crushing him hard against the wall behind him. He has time to gasp once, punched out and doubled over as the pain blooms in his stomach, before the man is there, pinning him back against the brick.

"No, don't," Eddie says, as the man takes his wrists, pinning them above his head.

Eddie winces as the delicate skin at his wrists scrapes against the brick, as the man's bulge presses against his thin chest and stomach. He struggles to suck in a breath, but can't between the wall and the man's weight. It feels like he's being crushed by a blue whale.

"I told you, you little whore, I'm going to touch you," the man says, his entire body shuddering.

"I can't breathe," Eddie says, trying to buck, trying to pull his hands away, but he can't do anything. He's as useless as a pressed flower.

"Not until I say," the man says. And he sounds possessed, so different from the nervous, mild-mannered man he met in the bar. He breathes heavily, like an angry bull, and Eddie's vision blots with tears as he hears his mother say, you stupid boy, how could you let this happen?

"Hey," a voice cuts in from behind them, "get off him right now."

"This isn't any of your business, pal," the trick says over his shoulder. "Keep walking and don't look back."

No, please don't, Eddie thinks. Please help me. 

There's silence for a moment, and Eddie thinks for one desperate second that the man really has walked on. That Eddie's going to be left here to be stripped and beaten and defiled like the boys he always read about in the newspaper. Just one more pretty victim beaten black and blue.

A second later, a hand is on the trick's meaty shoulder, wrenching him away from Eddie. 

"I said get the fuck off him right now."

The man's weight falls away, and Eddie almost stumbles to his knees, as he sucks in a greedy mouthful of air. 

He almost dies when he looks over the trick's shoulder to see who his saviour it is.

It's the laughing, dark-haired man from the bar. Except in the shadows he looks like someone completely different. The goofy expression is gone and in its place is something dark. Something murderous. 

"Fuck off," the trick snarls as he turns to face the mystery man, "this isn't any of your business."

"Actually, fuckface, I think it is."

"Who are you anyway? What gives you the right to-"

The man doesn't wait for him to finish. He swings his arm back, and Eddie gasps as his fist smashes into the trick's jaw, knocking him off his feet with a wet, meaty thwack. The trick goes down, as heavy as a sack of bricks, and Eddie flinches at the sound he makes when he hits the ground. 

"That enough for you, asshole?" the man asks where he stands over the trick's crumpled body, right hand curling back into a fist. Like he's about to punch the man again and not stop until all that's left is a dark smear of blood on the concrete. He has a black leather jacket on, and Eddie's eyes hone in on the wide span of his shoulders stretching it out. They looked like footballer's shoulders. Or a lumberjack's.

"No? Okay."

Eddie watches as the man grabs the trick's shirt, lifting him just enough to smash his fist into his face again, this time right in the nose.

Eddie's at his side in an instant, pulling him away. Or at least he tries to. The second he has his hand on the man's arm and pulls, the man doesn't budge an inch. Beneath Eddie's hand, the man's arm feels as hard and as cold as concrete.

"Don't," Eddie says, trying to pull him away again. "Please stop it."

"Why?" the man says, staring down at the trick, who's burst into noisy tears. "This fucker deserves it."

"He gets it, you don't need to hurt him anymore."

At their feet, the trick groans pathetically. He throws out a hand to touch Eddie's leg, but the man kicks it away, a muscle ticking in his jaw.

"I said don't fucking touch him!"

"I'm sorry, I'm so sorry," the trick babbles, covering his bleeding face with his hands. "I didn't realise."

"Didn't realise what?"

"That he had a pimp. I'm so sorry."

Humiliation turns Eddie to jelly. He's about to interrupt, say that there's been a mistake, but the dark-haired man gets there first.

"That's right," he says, making Eddie's mouth drop. "I'm his pimp. And if you ever touch him again I'm going to cut all your fingers off."

The trick moans again - all of his earlier pump bleeding out through his nose - and he whines, "I won't, I won't, I'm so sorry."

"Get the fuck out of here then."

"You're going to let me go?"

"Yeah," the man says, stepping back, "so go before I change my mind."

"Thank you," the man says, voice thick with blood. "Thank you-"

"If you say one more word, I'm going stab you right in your fucking belly."

That makes the man squeak and shut his mouth tight. Eddie watches as he struggles to his feet, the front of his shirt drenched in blood. He looks like he got into a car crash or fell head-first down a flight of stairs. Without even looking at Eddie, the man starts to run as fast as his fat legs can take him, right down the narrow span of the alley and around the corner, his shirttails flapping behind him. 

Asshole, Eddie thinks bitterly. Now he'll never get his 100 dollars. 

He glances at the dark-haired man. He's panting heavily, his breath a hot gust in the cold, and Eddie watches as he nonchalantly wipes the blood from his knuckles against his jacket like it was nothing more than an annoying smear of ketchup.

When the man looks at Eddie, it's with icy blue eyes and a jawline that could cut glass. 

"Are you all right?" he asks. "Did that asshole hurt you?"

"I'm fine," Eddie says, though he winces immediately at the pain in his stomach and shoulders.

The man's eyes rake over him, from his mussed hair to his tight t-shirt. "You sure about that?"

"Yes, I'm sure," Eddie says. He remembers the man's dumb laugh back in the bar, the way he had winked at Eddie. "I didn't need your help."

The man's eyebrows shoot up. "Oh really? You had it all under control?"

"Yes, I did," Eddie says, trying to ignore the stabbing pain in the back of his head.

"So being pressed up against the wall like that was just a ploy? Should I get him back here? Explain there's been a mix-up?"

Eddie's about to tell him to get lost, when the man shouts down the alley, "Hey, can you come back here, there's been a misunderstanding!"

"Can you shut up?" Eddie hisses. "You're making a racket."

The man laughs. "I love this is the way you thank the guy who just saved your ass from becoming Fatty Arbuckle's cock sleeve."

Eddie grimaces, recoiling back against the wall. "What did you expect, a kiss?"

He clamps his mouth shut the second he says it, but the smoky little look the guy gives him makes something under his skin simmer.

"I wouldn't be against it," he says, and even with the distance between them, Eddie knows he's looking at his mouth.

"Well tough luck. I'm not a princess and I don't kiss frogs."

That makes the man laugh. A real, head back kind of laugh that makes goosebumps burst all over Eddie's arms. It's not quite as loud as the way he'd laughed back at the bar, but it's warm and sincere, like he's laughing at something he found genuinely funny.

And Eddie knows that laugh. He can't explain it but he does.

"You're cute," the man says when he's finished. "Real cute." 

"I'm not cute."

"Yeah you are. You're the size of a kitten."

Eddie narrows his eyes, feeling his blood heating. God this guy was annoying.

"Why were you out here anyway? Were you following us?"

The man shrugs. "I saw you leaving together. I wanted to make sure you were okay."

He says it like it's perfectly normal. Like you'd follow a man you didn't even know outside a bar late at night. 

"What are you, some kind of stalker?"

The man snorts. "Oh yeah, watching Jabba the Hut take home a tiny twink really presses my buttons." 

"I'm not a twink, fuck you," Eddie snaps. "My name's Eddie."

He curses himself the second he says it. Why the fuck was he telling this stranger his name? He didn't even tell his tricks his name.

"Eddie?" the man says, slowly and carefully, like he's never held the name in his mouth before.

"Yeah, it's a pretty common name," Eddie says, brushing his hand down his t-shirt. He was going to have that man's reek on him all night. 

"Sure," the man says. "I'm Richie."

Richie. 

The name surges through Eddie. Makes him think of moon pies half-melted in their wrappers, of fingers sticky with ice cream, of two small, strong arms holding him in the dark and a voice in his ear saying, "It's okay, Eds, I'm going to get you out of here, just hold on."

He makes a noise like ugh as his head splits open. 

The man gives him a concerned look, says, "Hey, are you all right?"

"I'm fine, I think I hit my head when that guy pushed me."

"Let me take a look."

Eddie's about to say no, to tell him to back off, but Richie's already up in his space, fingers on Eddie's face to tilt his head down.

He tries not to shiver from how Richie's hands feel on his skin, how easily his large fingers cradle his face.

"It looks fine to me," Richie murmurs, "you're not bleeding or anything."

"Stop touching me please," Eddie says tightly, the man's touch rattling through him. 

Richie drops his fingers. "Shit, of course, my bad," he says, not sounding in the least bit sorry.

"It's fine, I think I just need to go home and sleep."

The man looks at him for a second and then says, "Let me get you a drink first."

"No, I don't want to go back to the bar."

Eddie can't think of anything worse than having to go back into that dark and loud room, fighting the nausea he always got from crowded spaces. Having to sit there again as he waits for another man to approach him. Going through the idle chit-chat until he can finally take the man home.

Eddie just wanted to cut his losses. He could go a couple of days without eating before he tried again. Maybe try another bar this time. Go uptown.

"I mean a coffee or something," Richie says. "Come on, it'll help perk you up."

"A coffee?"

"Yeah, it's this hot beverage that's pretty popular. Think it might even upstage tea."

Eddie glowers at him. "Ha ha, asshole."

Richie huffs another laugh through his nose. "What do you say?"

Eddie thinks about it. He shouldn't. Something about this guy sets him on edge. Something about the combination of his smile and laugh. Like Eddie's the punchline to a joke he didn't hear in time.  And he still didn't understand why Richie had followed him out of the bar. Or why his eyes felt like they were undressing him, cutting through his clothes until there was nothing between him and the man's heated gaze.

And yet Eddie still says, despite his better judgement screaming at him, "Okay, I guess we could do that."

Richie smiles. "Good, I know a place nearby."

They end up at a coffee cart outside the nearest subway stop. A lone man is there serving hot coffee and giant pretzels to drunks falling home from the nearby bars and tired office workers needing a pick-me-up before they got on their train.

Eddie huddles in the entrance to a nearby building, its ornate doorway arching out and protecting him from the light drizzle of rain.

He can't help but stare at Richie as he buys their coffees.

That same easy confidence had followed him from the bar, and Eddie watches as he swaps anecdotes with the man making their coffee, how he flips his wallet out of his pocket and hands over the money, punctuating whatever he's just said in some dopey voice that has the guy chuckling. 

He doesn't look like a man who'd just punched a man so hard his nose had been streaming blood.

And the way he smiles - with his sharp, crooked overbite - makes Eddie think of a wolf pack from a nature documentary he'd watched recently. The pack had torn open a deer carcass and buried their muzzles in the hot, steaming meat. Eddie doesn't know why, but Richie's teeth scream wolf.

Richie brings back two hot coffees. He hands one to Eddie, who takes it gratefully. 

"Thanks," he says, as Richie huddles under the doorway with him. 

"No problem. I got you this too."

Richie hands him a powdered doughnut in a small paper bag. 

Eddie stares at it. "You got me that?"

"Yeah, you probably need the sugar after the shock you had."

Shyness hits Eddie suddenly. Which is stupid. He shouldn't feel shy in front of this man.

He takes the doughnut from Richie anyway. "That was nice of you," he says, as he lifts it to his mouth and takes a small bite. The taste of warm dough and sugar hits him instantly, and before he knows it he's devoured the entire thing in three big bites.

"Wow," Richie says as he watches him. "I'm impressed."

"Sorry," Eddie says, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand.

"It's fine, you obviously needed it." His eyes rake over Eddie again. "You don't look like you eat a lot."

Eddie shrugs, not sure what to say. He's been entire days without eating before. It just never really seems like a priority. 

Standing this close, Eddie's able to drink in the strong jut of Richie's jaw. And take in his scent. He smells smoky, like cigarettes, but underneath that, there's something woodsy about him. Like a forest after a rainfall. It makes him think of the wood engravings in the old storybooks he had growing up. The forests where his mother said monsters would prowl, looking for their next young meal.

Eddie tears his eyes away to busy himself with the lid of his coffee cup.

"Won't your friends wonder where you disappeared to?"

Richie makes a dismissive noise as he drinks from his coffee. Eddie tries not to glance up at the bob of his Adam's apple as he swallows.

"Nah, they don't care. They know I do what I want."

Eddie doesn't say anything. The concept of friends is alien to him. He can't even remember the last time he had a friend. Not a true one.

Richie gives him a look. "How are you feeling? Sure you're okay?"

"I'm fine, really. I've had worse."

"Worse? You get roughed by a lot by your johns?"

Eddie feels his cheeks heat. He looks at his coffee so he doesn't have to look at Richie.

"I just mean generally. I once broke my arms and legs as a kid. Like all at the same time."

Richie makes a sympathetic hissing noise. "Shit, really? What happened?"

"I don't remember," Eddie says.

And he didn't. That, like so many memories, was all a grey blur. Sometimes a single image would jump out, like the leper at the back of the bar, but usually his memories were like a pile of nesting snakes. Lying dormant until one slithered out and bit him between the eyes. 

"I was off school for ages though. Just had to lie around in bed all day waiting for my bones to heal. It was awful."

"Was it, like, abuse?"

Eddie shakes his head. "No, my mom was really good to me. I just got into a lot of scrapes."

"Yeah, I feel you. You're an East Coast boy?"

Eddie glances up at him. "How did you know?"

"I can tell from your accent."

Eddie wasn't sure where he could place Richie, whose voice seemed to take on a different shade with each person he spoke to.

"How about you? Where are you from?"

"East Coast too originally. My parents died when I was a kid so I moved around a lot."

"Oh, I'm sorry," Eddie says.

"It's cool, it was a long time ago. I actually just moved out here from LA."

That makes Eddie's ears prick up. "Oh really? Why the move?"

"A new gig came up here. And it's a pretty exciting one, so I thought why not."

Eddie surveys him over the rim of his coffee cup. Thinks about how vaguely familiar Richie looks, how it's been niggling him all evening.

"Are you an actor?" he asks. 

Richie gives him a surprised look. "You recognise me?"

"No, but I feel like I've seen you in something."

"Oh yeah? Like what?"

"I'm not sure. So am I right?"

"Yeah, you're right. But I'm a comedian, not an actor."

Eddie blinks at him. A comedian.

"Really? That's... interesting."

"Yeah, it's okay. I do this little improv thing on Saturday nights which is pretty popular."

"Like a theatre production?"

For some reason that makes Richie laugh. "Something like that, yeah."

And Eddie can't help what he says next, or the breathy little way he says it.

"Well you must be having an off night because you haven't made me laugh once."

Richie cocks a brow at him. "Hey, there's still time. I have hours to win you over with my charm and wit."

"Sure," Eddie says. "Better hurry up then."

He feels himself blushing, and he goes back to drinking his coffee, watching the rain patter down onto the street.

They stand there for a few minutes drinking their coffee in silence. Eddie realises it's been a long time since he just spent time with someone like this. And somehow it feels good. Even with this strange man with the hysterical laugh who still had blood dotted on his knuckles. 

Eddie wonders if, maybe, this is how it felt to have a boyfriend. These sweet moments, not talking, standing in the rain. Eddie had never had a boyfriend, hardly yearned for one anymore after the years he'd spent alone, but he wonders, silently, if this is maybe how it felt. Between the kisses and the declarations of love and cooking together, if it was the little moments like this that you shared, that made a relationship special.

The moment bursts when Richie says, "Can I ask you something?"

"Sure," Eddie says, expecting a question about where he grew up or how long he's lived in New York.

"How much was that John Candy motherfucker going to pay you?"

Eddie freezes, his skin turning to ice. "What?"

"The guy at the bar. How much was he going to pay to fuck that tight little ass?"

Eddie swallows some of his coffee too quickly, has to cough before he can talk again. 

"One hundred to fuck me," he says, hating the way he feels his cheeks flooding red.

Richie looks surprised. "That it?"

"Yeah..."

Eddie waits for the inevitable condescending string of questions. Why was he doing this? Was it an addiction? Depression? Couldn't he do anything else to pay his way? Did he really have to put himself in danger and sell his body like this? Wasn't it dangerous?

But what Richie says is, "How about I pay for it instead?"

It takes a second for Eddie to figure out what he's saying.

"You want to-"

"Go back to your place, yeah."

Eddie looks down at his coffee, anywhere but at the searing look in Richie's eyes.

"You don't need to do that. You don't have to feel sorry for me."

His head shoots up again at the sound of Richie laughing. "What the hell's so funny?"

"You, I mean... if I was a nice guy I'd just give you the money. But I don't want to do that."

"What does that mean?"

Richie smiles again, but this time it feels fanged, and when he speaks again, his tone has gone low and dark.

"Do I really have to spell it out for you?"

He leans right into Eddie's space, and in a soft voice says, "It means, Eddie, that I want to take you home and put my dick inside you." 

Eddie bites down on his bottom lip. He's scared if he doesn't he might moan. 

"I, erm, I don't know," he says, when he trusts his voice not to shake.

"Come on, baby," Richie says, leaning in until his mouth's at Eddie's ear, overwhelming him with that woodsy scent. "I know you need the money. If you didn't you wouldn't have been so desperate to leave with that walking tub of lard back at the bar."

"I wasn't desperate," Eddie bites back, embarrassed.

"You were jumping out of your seat the second he walked up to you. I saw it." Richie's eyes flicker down to his lips, which feel sore from the night air and the hot coffee. "This way you don't need to go out again. You can invite me over and I can do all the things that guy was going to do. And you'll get your money. How does that sound?"

Eddie thinks about it. Being able to pay his rent. Buy food. His pills. And not have to find another trick again for a week. 

He swallows, his pulse jumping at the hungry way Richie looks down at him.

"Okay," he says. "Let's go."

"Yowza," Richie says, grinning, and Eddie stares at him as he dumps the rest of his coffee into the gutter at the side of the road.

They take a taxi back to Eddie's apartment. Richie's mostly silent in the backseat next to him. But every now and then the lamplight from outside will illuminate the sharp planes of his face, and Eddie has to look away, trying to ignore the way his chest tightens. 

He realises as they're driving up to his building that he's terrified. His heart a pounding mess in his chest. And he has no idea why. 

Once they're out on the street - Richie tipping the driver, with a "thanks a lot, man," - Eddie freezes. He lives in a dive: a run-down apartment building mostly inhabited by drunks and junkies and single moms trying to keep their kids in school. He'd never felt embarrassed about bringing anyone back here before, but with Richie he pauses, suddenly paralysed with insecurity.

"Erm, this is the only place I can afford," he says to Richie, running his fingers over his keys.

But Richie doesn't look phased. "It's cool. I've lived in a lot of places like this too."

Eddie nods, but the feeling only intensifies when he's at the door to his apartment. His neighbours are having a screaming match next door, and Eddie fumbles with his keys for what feels like an eternity before he finally manages to slot them into the door.

"So this is me," Eddie says when they walk in. 

Eddie's apartment was less of a living space and more of a shoebox. He had his main room, a kitchen and bathroom, with a window that overlooked the street outside. But that was it. All in all, the landlord had cheerily told him the day he moved in, it was the space of three car-parking spaces.

Thankfully he had cleaned up before leaving for the night, so his bed was made and his jumble of clothes and dirty dishes out of sight. 

Richie looks around. "This is cosy," he says as he shrugs off his jacket. 

"Don't be an asshole," Eddie says. 

"I'm not! I'm being totally serious. It's cute. Like a hobbit hole."

You're calling me a hobbit?"

"Nah," Richie says, dragging his eyes over Eddie again. "You're more of a pixie."

Eddie waves his hands at Richie's feet so he doesn't have to answer that. "Can you take off your shoes please?"

"Sure, I mean, I wasn't actually planning on fucking you in my boots."

Eddie feels himself go slightly pink at the thought. Not that Richie fucking him while he was still dressed would be anything new. That's what some men did. Would hardly step into the room before they were pushing Eddie down and fucking him, only pausing to get their dicks out and lube him up. It meant they could leave as soon as they had arrived, throwing Eddie's money down on the bed before leaving without another word. 

Eddie was used to people using him and then leaving. 

Richie spies something over by Eddie's TV and he goes to investigate, rummaging through the books he keeps on the table.  

When he turns around it's with one of William Denbrough's books in his hands - the latest, with crumbled corners from Eddie's eager fingers.

"You a fan of this guy?"

"Oh yeah, I really love his writing! I think he's so talented, I've got all his books."

Richie sniffs. "The guy's a hack."

Eddie blinks at the venom in his voice. "Oh?"

"Yeah. He gets hailed as the literary world's new wunderkind and all he does is churn out trashy airport thrillers. It's a joke."

"Do you... know him?"

"No, but I bet he's an asshole."

Eddie almost laughs. Because Richie weirdly sounds like he's almost jealous.

"Well he's only 28, he still has time to write a book worthy of your time and attention," he says lightly. 

"Yeah, well I'm only 28 too."

Me too, Eddie thinks. An overwhelming sense of deja vu suddenly hits him. The strongest he's had in a long time. And one of the blurred images from the tangled knots of his memory: this time a daisy chain of children standing in a field. Their entwined hands dripping blood. 

I promise, Bill, he had said.

He comes back to Richie's fingers clicking in his face.

"Hey, are you okay?"

Eddie shakes his head, feeling the image break apart. "Yeah, I'm fine."

Richie drops his hand; gives him a vaguely curious look. "You're kind of spacey, aren't you?"

"Sorry," Eddie says, embarrassment creeping in again. 

Great, now he also thinks I'm a complete freak. Why do you always have to be such a loser, Eddie?

Richie throws the book back on top of the stack of paperbacks by his TV.

Eddie frowns at him. "Can you be a bit more gentle with my things please?"

Richie smiles. "Of course, princess. My bad."

"Don't call me that," 

"What should I call you then?"

"My name. Call me Eddie."

Richie walks over to him. Walks, or maybe prowls would be the better description. 

"Not Eds? Not Eddie Spaghetti?"

"I'll throw up on you if you call me any of those things," Eddie says tightly.

"Yeah? Maybe I have a thing for that. Maybe I want you to gag so hard on my cock you vomit."

Eddie recoils slightly. Because Richie doesn't look like he's joking.

In the bar, Richie had seemed larger than life. Here, in his tiny apartment, he was even bigger than that. A storm cloud of crackling energy. And the voice at the back of Eddie's head pipes up again, says, Eddie, why did you bring him back here?

Because this man, he scared Eddie.

Richie stops right in front of Eddie. So tall Eddie has to crane his neck all the way up to look in his eyes. 

"How much is it going to be then?"

Eddie swallows. "One hundred to fuck me, like I said. Or for me to fuck you, whatever you'd prefer."

Richie's lips quirk up at that. "And what else?"

"Other things are extra. It'll be fifty if you want me to blow you. Thirty if you want a handjob or if you want to rub against my foot."

"Cool, score for the foot fetishists. What else?"

Eddie wracks his brain, but can't think of anything else he does with his clients. He blows them, or they fuck him, or watch him jerk off. And that was it. Sometimes they'd want him to say specific things, call them names like "Sir" or "Daddy", but it was never any more extreme than that.

"Erm..."

"You do any freaky stuff?"

Eddie's mouth goes dry. "I have a vibrator in my bedside cabinet. And some cuffs. If that's... if that's what you mean."

The smile that unfurls on Richie's mouth could only be described as devilish.

"You're such a lamb if that's what you think I mean," he says. 

"Well what- what do you mean then?"

And there are plenty of things Richie could mean. Things he's heard about and seen in porn. Eddie had never enjoyed porn very much - had always cringed at the excessive moaning and the debauched way the actors displayed their bodies for the camera - but he had watched it for research, and had stumbled upon some things that had made him jump back from his computer screen.

"You ever let guys get rough with you?"

"H-how rough?"

"I mean there's a spectrum. But... beginner's guide? Bruises, bites, welts, that kind of thing."

Eddie's mind blossoms purple and red with all the possibilities. 

"I can't have anything that bruises me too badly. Tricks don't like it if I'm covered in someone else's marks."

Richie's eyes are dark, like he's thinking about it.

"What about bareback, you do that?"

Eddie cringes. "No, never - it's too dangerous. I could get an STD."

That had always been the scariest thing about selling his body. Eddie was terrified of STDs, the living nightmare of AIDS and HIV keeping him up at night, shivering in his bed. But he was careful. He always insisted that his tricks wear a condom, no matter how much they pushed and wheedled, and he never swallowed their come. He did everything he could to stay safe.

Richie runs his tongue along his teeth. "Yeah, I get it, it's a shame though. Going bareback is like the hottest thing you could ever do."

Eddie doesn't really know what to say to that. He wonders for the first time that night how big Richie is. How he'd feel pushing inside of Eddie with nothing between them. The idea of doing something as deeply intimate at that with this strange man sets him deeply on edge.

"I just can't," he says. "That's off the table."

Richie stares at him with a contemplative expression. His eyes, for the first time that night, look guarded.

Eddie asks, "What is it?"

"Have you really done this before?"

"Yes, I told you I had."

Richie tilts his head at him. "How many times?"

"That's none of your business. Enough to know what I'm doing, okay?"

"So I'm not going to pop your cherry tonight?"

Eddie grits his teeth. "No, asshole."

"Good," Richie says, and then without missing a beat adds, "I want you to lie on the bed and show me your hole."

Eddie flinches back from him. "What?"

"You heard what I said. I want to see how tight you are."

And Eddie thinks of doing that. Of taking off his clothes and showing off his body in the most vulnerable way. It makes him shiver. Even though he's been bringing men back for months, he's never displayed his body like that before. Has never been asked to either. 

"But- I could just blow you if you'd prefer?"

"I don't want to blow you, Eddie, I want to fuck you. But I want to see how tight you are first."

Eddie feels his face fill with heat.

"This is what I mean when I ask you if you've really done this before," Richie says. He reaches out to trace a finger down Eddie's cheek. "This is the kind of blush a virgin has. Not a boy who gets paid to have his holes crammed full of cock every night."

Eddie gasps, his dick twitching in his jeans. 

"I already told you-"

Eddie doesn't get to finish because Richie suddenly pinches his cheek hard between his finger and thumb. 

"What's that?" Richie asks, his tone mild. "What were you going to say?"

"Stop it," Eddie says, jerking his face away from Richie's hand, the pinch making his skin burn. 

Richie lets him go, but jerks his chin towards the bed. "Do what I just told you then."

"Do what?" Eddie asks shakily.

Richie blinks at him and says, "Do you have brain damage?"

Eddie almost feels hurt by that. 

"No..." he says, twisting his fingers into his t-shirt.

"Get on the bed then and show me your hole. I'm not going to ask you again."

What are you going to do then? Eddie thinks. Are you going to force me down? Strip me and spread my cheeks?

He sucks on his lip as he gets undressed. Eddie had never mastered the art of stripping seductively, so he tries to do it as efficiently as possible, pulling his t-shirt over his head and then making quick work of his underwear and jeans, until he's standing completely nude in front of Richie.

Eddie knows he doesn't have a perfect body. He's always been small, and he hasn't exactly eaten well over the last few years, meaning his ribs jut out and his legs are weak and fragile. The accident which left him bed-bound for months as a child also made him feel unsure of his body - he let men use him, sure, but by himself, Eddie always moved like he was made of glass. Like his bones were about to break at any minute.

But somehow Richie looks at him like he's a feast.

Richie takes his time mapping out his body, from his face down to his toes. Sometimes his eyes will lock on a certain part of him - his collarbone, his nipples, the slight flare of his hips, his dick - and every time he does it feels like he's on fire.

"Very nice," Richie says quietly, eyes flicking back up to his face. "You're so thin, though. Do you even eat?"

"I eat," Eddie replies, fighting the urge to cover his crotch. "I've just always been small."

Richie's mouth jerks up into a grin. "What do pixies eat again? Sugar water?"

Eddie rolls his eyes. "If this is some weird kink for you then-"

"Shut up and get on the bed."

Eddie looks at his bed, feeling suddenly clueless. "How do you- I mean how should I-"

"On your front."

"Okay."

Eddie awkwardly clambers onto the bed, feeling stupid and slow under Richie's hot gaze. When he's lying down, his heart trips fast as he reaches back and spreads his cheeks open for Richie, going hot all over as he displays the most hidden part of himself to this total stranger. 

What would you think now, momma, he thinks feverishly. What would you do if you knew your little Eddie-bear was doing this?

There's silence for a moment and then Richie makes a low whistling noise. 

"Pretty," he says in a rough voice, making Eddie open his mouth on a silent gasp.

Suddenly a rubbing sound starts up from behind him, and when Eddie looks over his shoulder, it's to see Richie shoving the palm of his hand roughly over the crotch of his jeans, his eyes fixed on Eddie's hole. Eddie feels himself go red from his ears to his chin. 

Richie's eyes snap up. "Face forward," he says. "Don't look at me unless I tell you to."

Swallowing, Eddie does as he's told, burying his warm cheeks into the bedspread as Richie continues to look at his exposed hole. 

That rough noise continues for a couple of minutes, Richie making little grunting noises as he palms himself through his jeans. Eddie imagines Richie's dick getting hard as he watches him. As he watches this boy he just picked up in an alleyway take him home and spread his ass for him. Like one of those slutty boys in the magazines Eddie sometimes saw in the woods when he was growing up. When he'd pick up their grotty, water-logged pages and freeze at the pictures of naked men tied up and on display for the camera.

Those pictures had done something to Eddie. Had made something inside him wake up, something with teeth that bit under his skin and filled his stomach with heat. Eddie had dropped the magazine that first day and run home so hard he felt like his lungs were going to explode. But it hadn't stopped him from looking for the magazine again the following day, its lurid colours and glossy exposed skin calling to him through the trees.

Eddie feels the bed dip as Richie comes over to kneel behind him. 

He bucks when he feels Richie's thumb push between his cheeks, rubbing against the delicate skin there.

"Richie-"

Richie shushes him. "I'm just feeling you," he says softly, drawing his thumb in small circles around his hole.

"Okay," Eddie mumbles, resisting the urge to bite down on his pillow.

"Relax, okay? Stop tensing," Richie says. 

So Eddie does, or at least tries to. It's hard not to clamp up with Richie rubbing his dry thumb against him. But it feels nice too. A nice, little, lulling touch back and forth against the soft skin there, that's making Eddie go limp against the bed. Eddie did this sometimes, in the dark in his bed. Would let his legs fall open and touch his hole. Never dipping a finger inside, but just stroking it, biting his lip as his dick grew fat against his belly and he twisted his nipples with his other hand. If he did it a little too hard, making his dick bounce and grow wet, no one had to know.

"That feel good?" Richie asks.

Eddie nods. "Yes," he says into the pillow.

"Christ, you're pretty," Richie says, and he sounds like he's been knocked over the head. His voice thick and dazed. "I just knew it too. Fucking knew the second I saw you across the bar that you were hiding the sweetest, pinkest cunt between your legs."

Eddie shivers at the word cunt. Feels his dick get impossibly harder.

"Don't," he moans. "Please."

"What is it? Can't handle a little dirty talk?"

Richie stops the gentle little circling motion to press his thumb against Eddie's hole. 

Eddie mewls at the feeling of it - the rough catch of it against his rim, how thick his thumb feels as it pushes into him.

"Jesus, you are fucking tight. When was the last time you got fucked?"

"A couple of weeks ago," Eddie murmurs. But it hadn't been. It had been more like a month. 

He feels all the hair stand up on his arms as Richie makes a throaty groan.

"God if you were mine, I'd have my dick inside you every day. You wouldn't be able to get away from it."

Eddie muffles a loud moan against his pillow, as his dick gets so hard he wants to cry. He's never been this hard from a trick talking to him before. Not ever. But now his dick is so hard it's drooling, precome making the bedspread damp beneath him. 

He jerks forward when he feels something wet swiping against his hole.

"Wha-"

Richie's breath huffs against him. "It's just my tongue. Want to taste you." 

Eddie's brain tries to catch up. "You're- you're putting your mouth there?"

"Yeah," Richie says on a laugh. "It's called eating you out, princess. Getting you wet and ready for my dick."

He dips his head back between Eddie's legs and Eddie shudders as Richie uses his shoulders to spread them further apart. Spreading them so wide Eddie winces at the stretch. A second later the rough, wet swipe of Richie's tongue is on him again, and Eddie has to bite his pillow as Richie licks over his hole in one fat stroke, and then uses the tip to trace tiny wet circles around his rim.

"Ngh, oh my god," he moans as Richie starts to lap at his hole harder, licking at him like he's an ice cream cone.

And this was gross, it was dirty, Richie shouldn't be doing this. But that didn't stop Eddie from arching his hips up, wanting more. Even if he has to push his face against his pillow to hide how red he is as Richie forces his tongue inside him noisily. 

"You taste so good," Richie says, his breath making Eddie's hole flutter. "You taste like one of those strawberry foam candies."

And Eddie thinks that's ridiculous, how could he taste like that, but then Richie's leaning back. Eddie wonders what he's doing, but a second later he hears it: Richie hocking deep in his throat, and the feel of his spit splattering against his hole. 

He freezes. "Did you- did you just-"

His words cut off on a moan as Richie pushes back between Eddie's legs, gathering up the spit on the end of his tongue and pushing up into the tight ring of muscle, leaving Eddie gasping and trying not to push his hips back against Richie's face.

Because it feels good. It should be weird and disgusting. But somehow it's one of the best things Eddie's ever felt. So much better than the times he touched himself in his bed. And better than any of the men who have ever fucked him. With Richie's stubble grazing against the skin of his inner thighs, and his tongue pushing inside Eddie like he's giving him the filthiest, wettest kiss. 

Richie suddenly pulls out his tongue to smile against Eddie's ass. 

"You like this, don't you," he says. "Haven't guys eaten you out before?"

Eddie shakes his head, unable to speak. 

"Their fucking loss. You've got the peachiest cunt I've ever tasted."

"Please don't say that," Eddie gasps.

"Why not? That's what you've got, sweetheart. A soft, sweet boy cunt."

Eddie dick jumps, and he bites down hard on his bottom lip. The snick of pain grounds him, stopping how close he feels to coming.

Richie makes a humming noise in the back of his throat and rubs his thumb over Eddie's hole again, dipping into the mess of spit and pushing it inside of Eddie, where he's slightly looser than before. Eddie makes a squeaking noise as he does, his dick a stupid mess against his stomach.

"Where do you keep your lube and condoms?" Richie asks.

Eddie gestures vaguely to the bedside cabinet.

He tries not to have a meltdown as Richie rustles around, taking out a condom and a bottle of lube from the drawer next to his bed. 

"Spread your cheeks wider for me," Richie says. "I need to get my fingers inside you."

Eddie shakes but does as he's told, trying to ignore how Richie's spit drips down his cleft onto his balls as he spreads his cheeks even wider. He spreads his cheeks until it makes him wince, his hole completely on display for Richie.

He tries not to kick Richie when his fingers brush against his entrance, cold and wet from the lube. 

Richie just rubs them there for a moment, getting his hole tacky and wet.

Eddie swallows and says, "When are you doing to-"

His words spin out into a long moan as Richie shoves his fingers inside Eddie, all the way without stopping, from the tips to his knuckles.

"There we go, gorgeous," Richie says as his fingers sink inside. "Oh man, you should see this pink hole stretching for me."

And it hurts - Richie's fingers are long and thick, and it burns as Richie pushes them inside. But when Richie crooks his fingers, obviously searching for something, and then slides them up against the spot that has Eddie bucking up hard, seeing stars, he croons softly.

"That's it, angel baby, focus on that feeling for me," he teases as he rubs it. "Found your little button, huh."

Eddie feels like he's losing his mind. Men hardly ever found that spot, and whenever Eddie fingered himself he seemed to miss it, but Richie found it almost instantly, and he tortures Eddie with it, rubbing it insistently with his fingers as he holds Eddie's hips down with his other hand. 

"Wild thing," Richie teases, as Eddie's hips buck up.

"Sh-shut up," Eddie moans, even as he presses his hole back onto Richie's fingers.

"Happy to," Richie says as he slides back down between Eddie's legs. "Want to get my mouth back on you anyway."

A moment later, Richie's tongue is joining the wet mess of spit and lube at Eddie's hole. He spears Eddie open on his fingers, crooking them wide, and fills the gap with his tongue. Richie eats Eddie out like that, fucking his fingers and his tongue inside him as Eddie tries not to lose his mind, as he tries not to fuck his ass wantonly onto Richie's face. But it's so hard. Because it feels so fucking good. And when Richie's finger strikes that spot inside him again - his little button - he feels his balls draw up tight, feels the precipice coming up, and knows, dizzily, that he's about to come.  

He whines hard when one of Richie's hands shoves its way under his body to grip his dick. 

"Don't you dare fucking come," Richie says fiercely. "You only get to come when I've got my dick inside you."

It hurts, tearing Eddie away from his orgasm. He tries to pull away, but stops when Richie tightens his grip.

"Your slutty little dick doesn't get to come, I said. Say it so I know you understand."

"I don't get to come," Eddie repeats, his voice shuddering.

"Good boy," Richie replies, voice softer this time. He lets go of Eddie's dick and gives his hole one last lick.

"You're all pretty and pink on the inside you know. Like a fucking cherry blossom."

"Thank you," Eddie murmurs, not sure what to say.

"Thank you," Richie says back, in a feathery imitation of Eddie. "You're so polite for a paid slut."

Humiliation makes Eddie burn, but there's something at the corners of his vision too. A kind of cloudy haze he so greedily wants to sink into.

He snaps out of it hard when Richie slaps Eddie on the thigh, making him jump. 

"Come on, on your back. I think you're ready for me to fuck you now."

Eddie rolls over for him. Like a dog, he thinks. And it's to see Richie shedding his shirt, his jeans and underwear pushed down to his thighs.

God, and he's hot. Eddie almost wishes he wasn't - anything to dampen down the hot lick of desire that's making him feel molten - but Richie is. His shoulders look even broader without his shirt on, and his chest is covered in thick, dark hair that coils down his stomach to his crotch. His arms are thick and heavily veined, and Eddie again thinks of a fireman. A lumberjack. All the men who had driven Eddie crazy as a child. As he went down to the police station and watched the men wash their cars, his mouth hanging open and his tongue almost lolling out. 

His eyes trail down to Richie's cock, which curves up, long and thick, towards his stomach. And he locks up at the sight of it.

Eddie's seen a lot of dicks over the last couple of years. He's sucked on them, jerked them off, felt them push inside him as he pretended to be somewhere else. But he's never seen one like Richie's. Because Richie is huge. Long, veined, flared at the head. It's a porn star's dick. And hanging below it is a pair of big, heavy balls. Round and, Eddie thinks woozily at the back of his head, full of come. 

Eddie blinks up at him when he hears Richie laugh.

"Look at you. Never seen a cock this big before?"

And Eddie wants to snap something back, but he feels speechless. No way was that going to fit inside him. 

Richie pushes himself back between his legs like he belongs there, his grin wide and wolfish.

"How do you like to be fucked?" he asks, stroking his hands down Eddie's pale thighs. 

"Huh?"

"How do you like it? Slow? Fast? Want to ride me and set the pace yourself, or would you prefer me to take the reins?" 

"Erm..."

Eddie stares at him. No one has ever asked what he wants before. Usually Eddie doesn't even get hard when he's being fucked. It's much easier to just lie there and daydream as the other men rearrange him into the positions they want, using him like a doll until they're spent. Usually they don't even notice that he hasn't got it up, and if they do, Eddie excuses it on being tired or being shy. But usually they don't care.

"I don't know," he says.

Richie's brows go up. "Seriously? You don't know? Baby boy doesn't even know how he likes to get fucked?"

Before Eddie can protest, Richie's leaning down, pulling Eddie's thighs around his hips. "Let me guess," he says softly, "I think you're a little pillow princess. Bet you just love to lie there and let a man do whatever he wants to you. That way you can pretend you don't really want it."

"I-erm-ngh," is all Eddie says as Richie grinds his huge dick against Eddie.

"Look at you," Richie laughs as he stares down at him. "So hard and needy for me. It's adorable." 

"'m not, I'm not adorable."

"Sure you are." And he sounds so fucking calm it's driving Eddie crazy. 

Eddie watches Richie as he tears open a condom and slides it down his dick. He's using an XL one, he notices, from a pack Eddie had never even needed to break into. The thought makes him slightly hysterical. And he wonders again how the hell Richie's going to fit inside him. 

A moment later Richie's slicking up his dick with lube, winking at Eddie as he drives his cock up through his fist. 

"I could probably come like this, you know," he says "With you wrapped around me while I jerk off. But I need to know what it's going to be like coming when I'm inside you. Just know that sweet little ass of yours is going to squeeze down on me so well."

"I'm scared it won't fit," Eddie blurts. 

Richie's fist stills on his cock and he grins. "Oh it'll fit, baby. I'll make sure of it."

His hands slide back down Eddie's thighs, getting him wet from the excess lube. He strokes him like he's a skittish horse about to bolt from its pen. But Eddie's too busy staring at his dick, which somehow looks even more huge and obscene encased in latex. 

"I need you to do something now, sweetheart. I need you to put me inside you."

Eddie looks at him dumbly. "What?"

Richie glances down at his dick and grinds up slowly against Eddie again, making his eyes roll back.

"My cock, baby. The thing you get paid to suck and fuck. I want you to take it and put it inside you."

Eddie tries his best. Swallowing down the nervous lump in his throat, he reaches between his legs and gets his hand around Richie's dick. It's hot, even through the latex of the condom, and rock hard. It looks like one of those huge, ridged dildos you could buy online.

Richie bucks his hips impatiently into Eddie's hand.

"It's sweet you want to get to know it, love, but I also want to get my money's worth and fuck you now. Here, let me help you get things started."

With both hands, Richie takes Eddie's thighs and pushes them back towards his chest. The new position means Eddie's completely exposed: his ass spread, his hard dick and balls all on display between his legs. It also makes the tendons pop in Richie's arms, and Eddie feels another bead of precome roll down his dick as he stares at how impossibly broad Richie is.

"There we go. Now put me inside you."

Eddie shivers and nods. As Richie holds him open, he brushes Richie's dick up against his ass, trying not to moan as the blunt head bumps against his hole. Even through the latex Richie is searing hot. And for one drunken second Eddie wants so much to tear the condom off Richie. To feel every ridge and vein as Richie enters him. He's never wanted that from a man before, but he wants it now.

Eddie presses Richie's cock against him but nothing happens. He struggles, trying to find the right angle to press it in as he pushes his ass down, but the head won't even pop in. He makes an impatient noise, and looks up at Richie, who's staring at him expectantly. 

"I don't think it's going to go in," he says.

"Try again then," Richie says. 

So Eddie does, but he just can't get the angle right, can't get the head to pop inside. 

An impatient muscle jumps in Richie's jaw, and he pushes Eddie's hand away.

"Christ, what have these pussies been teaching you? Here, put your hands where mine are and keep yourself open."

Blushing Eddie does, keeping his thighs spread wide as he watches Richie coat four of his fingers in lube. 

Richie reaches between Eddie's legs, and without any warning pushes all of them into Eddie's hole.

Eddie almost shrieks - it's too much - and it hurts, but the way Richie's staring down at his fingers makes him want to be good. Because Richie's got this fiery look on his face as he fucks his fingers into Eddie. And the stretch hurts, but the sharp cut of Richie's jawline and the hard flex of his shoulders keeps Eddie hard. Keeps him leaking down his stomach, especially when Richie jams all four fingers against his prostate. The sound Eddie makes when he does that sounds like something from a porno, and he wishes Richie would push something in his mouth to shut him up.

After a couple of thrusts, the burn starts to ease, and Richie makes a satisfied noise.

"Your hole's clinging to me, it's cute," he says. "Let's try again, shall we?"

When he draws his fingers out, Eddie has to fight not to clench down, to keep them inside.

But he doesn't have to wait long because Richie's got his hand on his dick again and he's pushing it up against Eddie's ass. And this time, it slots into place. The head of Richie's dick catches on Eddie's hole, and in a smooth glide that makes Eddie's eyes roll back, starts pushing inside.

"That's it, baby," Richie says as he nudges inside, "arch your hips up for me. That's it, sweetheart."

And it hurts. It hurts so much. The burn of it makes Eddie cringe, thighs trembling hard where his hands are locked around them.

"Ngh, I can't do it," he says, looking down between his legs where Richie's got half of his cock buried inside him. 

"No, you've got it, sweet thing, just a little bit more," Richie croons as he feeds Eddie the rest of his dick.

It feels like it takes an eternity, his thighs shaking while he's being stretched open and impaled on Richie's cock, but when Richie's bottomed out and his hips are pressed up against his ass, Richie gives him a cocky little smile.

"See how good you are at taking cock?"

But Eddie can't speak, not with the way he feels like he's going to break apart at any second.

Richie thrusts his hips forward slightly, making Eddie buck, and he groans, eyes rolling back in his head.

"Fuck you feel so good," he says, leaning down so Eddie's legs slide over his shoulders. The position pushes his cock even deeper into Eddie, who locks up and wails when the head of Richie's dick bumps against his prostate. Richie leans down until Eddie is folded in half under him. 

"Shit," Richie says, voice shaky. "I knew it. You act so tough, but I knew you'd be a kitten the second I got my cock inside you."

And Eddie's about to say, I'm not a kitten, but his ability to think shuts down when Richie starts moving his hips, sliding an inch out and then pushing back in, his heavy balls brushing up against Eddie's ass on every thrust, Eddie's hole squelching loudly from the lube.

Richie watches him the entire time, drinking in every little hurt expression and noise he makes. 

"God, I love this, you know, love knowing how much my dick hurts you," he says as he ruts inside Eddie. 

And it does - Richie's dick feels like it's opening Eddie up in a way that feels forceful, wrong, like Richie's breaking down his body to fit inside. The thought makes something dark fizzle inside Eddie, something that curls around his nipples and dick, like Richie's a monster that's going to crack him open and devour him. But not before spearing him so wide on his cock that Eddie will never be able to walk the same way again. 

Richie leans in to nuzzle his nose against Eddie's - it would be sweet, if his cock wasn't currently destroying him.

"I don't think I should have to pay for this, you know," Richie says, "think this should be my reward for saving you from that guy."

Eddie wants to glare at him, but can't, not with the way his mouth falls open on every sharp thrust. 

"How about it? Want to be my trophy?"

"You're so - ngh - you're so mean," Eddie manages to moan between thrusts. 

Richie laughs, and Eddie goes achingly stiff at the way he licks his teeth.

"You think I'm mean? Baby, you haven't even seen me be mean. I could make you cry. I could make you beg me to stop."

Richie looks down between their bodies, where he has Eddie speared on his cock. He arches a brow at how wet Eddie's dick is.

"It's fucking pathetic how soaked you are right now. Like a girl. No wonder you take it up the ass with a dick that fucking wet."

And it's true. Eddie's drenched, his precome leaving a puddle of slick all over his stomach and pooling into the bed covers. It makes him burn red again, flushing from his face all down his chest. And it can't be attractive, it probably looks like he's broken out into a rash, but Richie just makes a growling noise when he sees it, like a wolf that's sinking its teeth into the neck of a rabbit caught beneath his paw.

Richie starts to thrust into him harder, pulling his cock out and jack-knifing it inside him again. It still hurts, like he's sliding his dick across a wound, but on every other thrust Richie's cock pounds against his prostate, setting off sparks behind Eddie's eyelids and making him keen, his cock slapping noisily against his stomach every time Richie buries himself balls deep inside his body. 

And Eddie feels his orgasm build again. He's needed it ever since he was Richie at the bar. Staring at his shoulders and his Adam's apple. How his jawline looked like it could make him bleed. Now, with his cock buried inside him, the tendons popping in the same arm that had smashed the trick's face in, Eddie needs to come so much he doesn't care how slutty he looks as he pushes his hips up to meet every thrust.

It feels so good Eddie feels himself going cross-eyed, a string of drool spilling down his chin where his mouth hangs open.

Richie notices too, hips stuttering as Eddie clenches even tighter around him.

"I think you're ready to come, aren't you? You wanna come, sweetheart? Ready to squirt that tiny dick all over me?"

Eddie nods frantically. Because he does. God, he wants to come so much.

"Come then, you pretty little cunt," Richie husks, his balls slapping against Eddie's ass on every thrust. "Fucking come now."

But Eddie can't, he needs to touch his dick so badly. He can't come if he doesn't. 

"I can't-"

"Yes, you can, think about me filling you up with my come." 

"Ngh, Richie, no-"

"Yes, I'm gonna cream that little ass, baby. Gonna cream you and fucking make you mine. So fucking come right now."

And Eddie does: his body tightens, and when Richie's dick grazes his prostate one more time, Eddie's coming, his dick spurting all over his own chest without even needing to touch his dick. It's the hardest he's ever come, with a trick or by himself, making every nerve ending in his body flare up and every thought flatline dead, like he's a bottle of champagne that's just been shaken and popped.

"Holy fuck," Richie groans as he watches him come undone, "you fucking nymph."

His hips speed up, not waiting for Eddie to recover, fucking him so hard Eddie's ass bounces on every thrust. 

"Gonna come, sweet thing. Gonna come while I'm buried in your tight little ass."

"Please," Eddie moans as the force of Richie's thrusts push him up the bed, "please."

"Wish I didn't have the condom on. Wanna cream you so fucking bad."

And Eddie does want it. He's never wanted it before, has always been faintly terrified of the idea. But now he wants to know what it would feel like. 

"I want that too," he moans.

"Yeah, you like that? Like the thought of me coming inside you? You'd be dripping it all week, baby."

Eddie whines, hiking his hips up again so Richie can slide even deeper inside. On one thrust, the head of Richie's cock drags against his prostate, and it's too much, slipping over the edge of hypersensitive to painful, but he doesn't care. He wants Richie to use him like he owns him. 

"Fuck, baby, yes-"

"Yes, Richie, do it, please, please," he babbles. 

"Tell me you're mine and I will."

So Eddie opens his eyes, looking up at Richie, who looks fucking wrecked, sweat dripping at his hairline and his glasses slipping down his nose as he stares down at Eddie with an open, hungry look on his face. 

"I'm yours, Richie," he says. And somehow, he feels like he means it. 

"Fuck," Richie groans, his eyes clenching shut.

Richie's hips stutter, and he fucks into him hard one last time before he's coming, filling the condom with a guttural groan. And Eddie thinks, god, he's gorgeous, as Richie presses his hips to Eddie's ass, like he's getting his come inside him, like he's filling him up with his spunk. 

Eddie just lies there like a doll, his hole clenching hot and sore around Richie's pulsing dick.

When Richie's finished - chest heaving with his heavy breath - he opens his eyes again. They're so shockingly blue Eddie wants to drown in them.

"You good?" he asks with a shaky smile.

"Yeah," Eddie says, resisting the urge to push Richie's sweaty hair back from his forehead. 

"Good. That was intense, right?"

Eddie nods. He's not really sure what good means right now. All he knows if his body feels like it's floating. Like he's on a cloud. And his head can't really focus on anything Richie's saying. It feels like he's high, and all he can see is the pink of Richie's mouth where he smiles down at him.

Richie leans down for a kiss and Eddie pushes up eagerly to meet it, slotting their mouths together wetly. It's a lazy kiss, their mouths sloppy and uncoordinated, and Eddie feels his soft dick twitch as a string of Richie's drool hits his chest. 

He makes a pained little moan when Richie's soft cock starts to slip out.

"Fuck, sorry," Richie says, breaking the kiss with a filthy sound. "Let me pull out."

"No," Eddie whines brokenly before he can stop himself, clenching down to keep Richie inside.

Richie laughs, though it's shaky, on the verge of dissolving into a moan. "Greedy little thing," he admonishes, making Eddie blush. 

When he does pull out - the long, slow slide of it making Eddie arch - the pain rushes back in, punching Eddie in the gut.

"Ahh!" he cries, as the pain cuts through the haze, bringing him back down to earth with a solid thump. 

He curls himself sideways into a loose circle, feeling wrecked and loose, his hole throbbing like a wound between his legs.

He flinches when Richie draws his hand down his side.

"Hey, you okay?"

"I'm fine," he says. "I just need to rest for a minute."

"It was a lot, I know," Richie says. "But you took it so well."

"Thanks," Eddie replies, the praise lighting him up despite the pain.

"Would you mind if I smoke?"

Eddie shakes his head. "Could you do it by the window?"

"No problem."

Curled up on his side, Eddie watches Richie walk across the room to push up the window pane up and rustle through his jacket pocket for his cigarettes. He doesn't bother pulling his pants on as he does it, giving Eddie a perfect view of his long, lean body.

For the first time that night, Eddie really lets himself look at Richie. Lets himself drink in the other man's strong legs, his broad chest, the wide span of his shoulders and arms. He wasn't handsome, not exactly, but there was something striking about him, in his jawline and dark hair. The way he loped, so much taller than anyone at that bar tonight. Something even his glasses and the crooked, slightly buckish front teeth couldn't erase. 

Richie catches him looking as he lights the cigarette.

"Like what you see?"

Eddie presses his cheek into the pillow. "I've seen better."

That knocks a surprised laugh from Richie. "Oh yeah? Cheeky shit."

Eddie chews on his bottom lip to stop himself smiling. 

"Besides," Richie says, with one of those mischievous looks, "you liked it enough to come on my dick, didn't you?"

Eddie can't help the way his hips buck slightly at his words. 

He had come. Harder than he'd ever come with anyone else. A lot of the time he didn't come at all. Sometimes he'd get vaguely hard when the other man would hit up against his prostate, or say something in his ear that pressed a button inside him, but usually all he did was lie there. He didn't enjoy it, and no way did he make the kind of noises he did with Richie, or ever come with that kind of violence. 

He came so hard he didn't even know if he liked it. It had been ripped from him so fast it felt like he'd been punched in the stomach.

It's made him feel limp and exhausted, his hole throbbing with every heartbeat. 

Watching Richie smoke, he asks, "Was I good?"

Richie's brows draw up quizzically as his cheeks hollow around his cigarette.

"Just now I mean?" Eddie says. "Did you- did you enjoy it?"

Richie blows out a stream of blue smoke, then says, "You felt how hard I came, right?"

"Yeah, but..."

But that didn't mean anything.

"Christ," Richie grins around the cigarette, "you're so fucking cute needing validation."

"I don't-"

"You were perfect."

Eddie goes still, frowning at Richie as he waits for the inevitable gag. But Richie doesn't look like he's joking, not from where he's leaning against the wall by the window, his eyes dark above the cigarette. 

"Really?"

"Yeah. Worth a lot more than the hundred dollars you're charging me for it."

"Thanks," he says quietly, rubbing his toes together.

"Seriously," Richie says, as he taps the cigarette ash out the window. "I don't know why you don't join one of those escort agencies. You'd make a lot more and you wouldn't have to sit around dive bars waiting to get picked up by some sleaze bag who's gonna jump you in the alley."

Eddie doesn't say anything for a second, Richie's praise sinking into his skin like warm butter.

"I don't know," he finally says. "I don't think those kind of wealthy types would like me very much."

Richie makes a snorting noise. "You're kidding, right? You have seen yourself in the mirror."

"I know but," Eddie frowns. "I'm not good at talking. I had a head injury when I was younger and my mom said it messed with my motor skills."

"You really think those guys would be buying you for your conversation skills? They want you to gag prettily around their tiny dicks and that's it."

Eddie can't help but glance down at Richie's crotch. Even soft he looked long and thick, his big balls nestled in a dark thatch of hair.

"I guess you wouldn't have to worry about that."

"Nah. Those Swedish penis pills really did a number on me."

Eddie's eyes fly up to Richie's face, but the asshole's shoulders are already shaking with laughter.

"I'm kidding. I'm all natural, baby."

"God, I hate you."

"You and everyone else. It's an oversubscribed club."

Richie takes another drag of the cigarette, his eyes fixed on Eddie the entire time. 

Finally he says, "What head injury anyway?"

"I don't remember."

"Is this part of the things where you broke your legs too? And your arms? Why didn't your mom ever tell you what happened?"

Eddie picks at a loose thread on his comforter, letting him mind tick back.

"My mom only said there had been a man going around hurting kids. This was back in my hometown before we moved. I hurt myself getting away from him. They found me by the lake apparently. I'd almost drowned."

"Jesus, baby."

"I'm okay," Eddie says.

That's all Eddie had ever said. I'm okay, I'm okay. Repeating it to his mom, to his teachers, to the child therapist his mother made him see when he was 13. Repeating it over and over again until he felt like something inside him had broken from it. 

Richie's face goes hazy for a moment. "Did they ever catch the guy?"

"I don't know. Apparently he went underground."

Richie grunts, blinking the haze from his eyes. "Well your mom sounds like she was a piece of work. You talk fine."

Eddie looks at Richie again, studying the hard lines of his face from his brow to his chin. 

"What about you?"

"What about me?"

"You just don't seem like the kind of guy who needs to pay for a prostitute."

"I guess not. But you were too pretty to resist."

Eddie thinks back to the alleyway. How Richie had been there, how he had followed Eddie and the trick outside. The image of Richie's fist connecting with the man's jaw bursts in his head like a ripe fruit, the sound it had made as the man's tooth cracked on Richie's knuckle.

"You really wailed on that guy back there. From the bar."

Richie shrugs. "I guess so. Man was a total asshole treating you like that."

"But you obviously know how to fight."

"When you grow up in foster care you learn how to fight pretty quickly. If you don't, you're going to end up with your head flushed down the toilet every day and your bedroom trashed with all your clothes gone."

Eddie lifts his head from the pillow. "You were a foster kid?"

"Yeah, like I said, my parents are dead."

"When did they die?"

"When I was thirteen."

Thirteen. But that couldn't be right, could it?"

The fog from earlier comes back. Eddie says, "The turtle shouldn't have let that happen."

It's out of his mouth before he can stop it. Before he even realises what he's going to say.

Richie goes still, except for the fingers around his cigarette, which shake. "What the fuck did you say?"

"I don't know, I'm sorry."

"The turtle?"

"I'm really sorry, I have no idea why I said that."

Eddie sits up in bed, bringing his legs up to his chest and curling his arms around them.

He feels vulnerable all of a sudden, can feel his arms trembling where they're looped around his legs.

At the window, Richie's face has gone tight, his eyes huge and white. For one split second he looks terrified, but then he relaxes, his body going lax like a puppet being dropped from its string. He takes one last drag of the cigarette before flicking it out of the window. 

"Turtle, huh? You really are an odd one."

"I'm sorry..."

"Don't be, it's fine. You just surprised me. Maybe you did hit your head after all."

"Yeah, maybe."

"Do you have painkillers or anything? Want me to get you something?"

"Erm, in the bathroom I do. In the cabinet behind my mirror."

"I'll get you one, stay there."

"Thank you."

Eddie flops backwards onto the bed again. He listens to Richie open his bathroom cabinet and rustle through his things as his body aches. His legs and arms feel like jelly, and his lower half feels like one big bruise. Like Richie beat him up rather than fucked him. He quivers at the thought.

Splaying his legs open, he reaches down so he can trail his fingertips around the swollen rim of his hole. He bites back a moan at how hot and used he feels. Tries to ignore the way his dick, even sore and spent, twitches as the pain blossoms against his fingers. 

He dips the tip of his index finger in slowly, mouth falling open at how easily it sinks in. 

You just took a 10-inch cock, he thinks.

The rustling in the bathroom suddenly stops. And Eddie's dick twitches again as he thinks about Richie walking back in and seeing him like this: seeing him finger his sore hole after just getting dicked down so hard he came without even touching his cock. Like he was getting ready for Richie to fuck him again. Eddie swallows a moan as his nipples pebble, and he wonders how it would feel if Richie put his mouth on them and bit.

A moment later Richie says from the bathroom, "So what's this then?"

For a second Eddie doesn't know what he means, still drunk on the feeling of his dry fingertip dipping into his hole, but then he shoots up in bed.

His pills.

He's across the room like a shot, about to barge into the bathroom when Richie meets him in the doorway with a cocky grin.

Eddie's skin goes cold when Richie shakes one of his pill bottles in his face. 

"Look what interesting discovery I made."

"Give it back," Eddie says, trying to keep the tremor from his voice. 

"Why?"

"Because I need them. Please."

"I don't think so."

Eddie's hand shoots out to take the bottle, but Richie grabs it, fingers tight around his wrist. 

"Stop panicking. I just want to know what this is."

"They're my pills okay? I need them."

"You have a prescription?"

"Yes, I do, so please-"

"It was a real treasure trove in there," Richie interrupts. "Valium, Xanax, Prozac, Lexapro... you have a prescription for all of those?"

"Richie, just please give it back."

Eddie's starting to feel desperate now. The bottle in Richie's hand is the only one he has left. If Richie does anything with it, he won't have anything else until he can get another prescription from the quack doctor in the West Village. The man who feels him up in exchange for some hastily written lines on a piece of paper. But it was a piece of paper that got Eddie enough pills to last him a month.

Richie stares down at him, his blue eyes searching. But that small smile had returned, the one with the cruel, mocking edge.

"Is this why you do what you do?" His eyes rake over Eddie's body. "Why you sell your body? So you can feed your little pill habit?"

"Please give them back to me," Eddie says, trying to pull his hand from Richie's iron grip. "Please."

"No," Richie says.

"Why!"

"Because I want to fuck you again."

That takes Eddie by surprise. He blinks up at Richie. "What?"

"Yeah, I wanna get inside you again."

"But... you only paid for one time."

"I'll pay you again then. How does that sound, baby?"

Eddie shakes his head. He's too sore, and the thought of being split open on Richie's cock again has him reeling. 

"I hurt too much," he says.

Richie makes a mock sympathetic noise in the back of his throat. "Awww, honey," he says. 

A second later he's pressing Eddie's hand to his crotch, and Eddie sucks in a breath at how hard he feels against his fingers.

"Feel how hard I am for you again?" Richie says, curling Eddie's fingers around his dick. "And I think you want it too, don't you?"

Eddie shakes his head, trying to ignore the way his skin goes hot. How his nipples and dick stiffen again. 

"Liar," Richie breathes, eyes on Eddie's mouth. "You want it just as bad as I do. You wanted it the second you saw me at that bar."

Eddie tries to pull back, but can't with Richie's grip on him.

"You're deluded," he spits, "I hated you when I first saw you. I thought you were a loud, annoying asshole."

"I am a loud, annoying asshole," Richie says. "But that didn't stop you from wanting me. I know. I felt it. Almost followed you into the bathrooms so I could pull your pants down and fuck you right there, not even lube you up, just force my way inside you while anyone could walk in and see us."

Eddie's insides go molten. He feels, rather than hears, the high whining noise he makes in the back of his throat.

Richie's eyes go cruel. "I didn't know all I needed to do was pay for it. That was how fucking easy you were. I should have just thrown some money at you and had you suck me off in front of my friends. Maybe invite them all outside to watch you deep-throat my dick."

"Shut up," Eddie says, anger cracking through him. "What makes you think you can talk to me like that?"

"Because you like it," Richie says, his dick so hard Eddie can barely get his hand around it.

"I don't," Eddie says again, trying not to focus on how thick and ridged Richie's cock feels as it fucks up into his fist.

"Kitten," Richie mocks, as he rocks his hips. "Stupid little dick-hungry bitch."

Shock turns Eddie silent, his mouth hanging open, and that's when Richie pushes him, sending him flying back onto the bed.

"Hey!" Eddie glares at him from where he's landed on the corner of the bed. "You can't push me around like that!"

"Sure I can," Richie says. "And I want you ready on your hands and knees by the time I get over there.

He flings the bottle of pills onto the piles of books by the TV stand. And then, as Eddie watches, starts to fist his own dick. 

Eddie's eyes hone in on the sight: Richie's dick is thick and meaty, and his mouth fills with spit as he watches it fucking up through the tight funnel of his fist. He suddenly wants to know how it would taste, how it would feel stretching his lips apart as Richie took a fistful of his hair and fucked his mouth. Wants to know if Richie would prefer to splatter his hot come over Eddie's face, or dump it down his throat. 

Richie gives him a cocky grin as he jerks himself off. "Like it, sweetheart? Like that I'm about to get every inch in that tiny pussy again?"

Eddie nods, feeling shameless. His legs fall open, and Richie's eyes drift down to his dick chubbing up between them.

"You've got such a pretty dick, baby," he says. "No wonder none of your johns want you to fuck them. Wouldn't even be able to feel it with a dick that small. You might as well just have your cock in a cage, learn to ignore it so men can make you come with just your hole."

And Eddie wants to be mad, he really does, but Richie's words just make his dick harder.

"I'm not that small," he mumbles.

"You've got the smallest dick I've ever seen," Richie continues. "But that's okay, you were obviously made to be fucked."

Eddie sucks his bottom lip between his teeth, his hand drifting down his stomach to brush against his dick.

Richie's face goes dark, his hand stilling on his dick, and Eddie freezes. 

"If you even think of touching yourself, you'll fucking regret it," he says. 

Eddie flings his hand away, heart racing. Against his belly, his dick starts to drip precome, getting his skin sticky wet.

"Good, that's what I thought. Now what did I say? Hands and knees."

Without thinking, Eddie scrambles up to do as he's told. He gets up on his hands and knees in the middle of the bed, nerves sluicing through his skin. The position makes him feel dirty and exposed, his sore hole peeking out between his cheeks, forearms trembling.

Richie doesn't wait long. He follows Eddie onto the bed, kneeling behind him, and using his large hands to spread his cheeks apart.

Goosebumps break out on his skin when Richie makes a deep, satisfied noise in the back of his throat.

"God, I roughed you up, didn't I, sweetheart?" he says, thumb curling up to stroke along the red, raw skin around Eddie's hole.

"Yeah," Eddie mumbles, and he's on the verge of asking Richie to be more gentle this time, to go slow, when Richie spits on him again. And this time some of Richie's spit catches and slips into his hole, where he must look raw and gaping from Richie's cock.

"If I could take you bare, that would be my come dripping down you right now," Richie says, his voice like rough gravel. 

Eddie must make a noise because Richie's hands tighten on his ass, making him hiss.

"Oh yeah? Like the thought of that, do you? Too bad your slutty little ass can't have it."

Eddie grips the bed cover in his hands, biting down hard on his bottom lip. He doesn't want to give Richie the satisfaction of showing him he wants this. But then Richie's hand is cracking against his ass, and he gasps, another spurt of precome wetting the tip of his dick. 

"Don't do that," Richie says. "I want you to beg for my cock. Stop pretending like you don't want it."

A second later, Eddie feels Rich's cock push up against his hole and he lets out a quivering breath. 

"Tell me you want me," Richie says.

"I want you," Eddie says, going cross-eyed as the feeling of Richie's bare cock pressing up against him.

"No, louder, come on. Make me believe it."

Eddie swallows, humiliation making him red. "I want you, Richie," he says as he listens to Richie tear open a condom, almost crying out when Richie pulls his dick away from his hole to slide it on. "I want you so bad. Wanted you in me again the second you pulled out. Want you to- to fuck me and use me and treat me like I'm just," he swallows, "like I'm just your toy, I want-"

His words dissolve into a high moan as he feels Richie's lubed cock push inside in one slow thrust. 

It's a struggle, even though they'd just fucked, and it hurts. God, it hurts so much, like pressing down hard on a fresh bruise. Eddie tries to cringe away, but Richie has an iron grip on his hips, keeping him locked down on the bed.

"It hurts," he moans, "please- please don't-" 

But Richie just ignores him, sliding every inch of his hard cock inside Eddie like his body belongs to him. 

"God, you're tight like a fucking virgin again," Richie says, as he finally bottoms out inside Eddie, his sharp hipbones bumping up snugly against Eddie's ass. "You gotta start giving this little hole some more practice, baby."

Eddie swallows, hurt noises pouring from him. Richie's cock splits him open like a battering ram and he feels his hole flutter around the girth of it. 

But Richie doesn't pay any attention to him. He slaps Eddie's ass hard, groaning at the way Eddie's flesh jiggles around him, before he's sliding out and thrusting back inside again, the hot, thick brunt of it making Eddie wince.

"If I was your pimp, I'd make you ride my cock every day, get you nice and open for all your fucking tricks."

Eddie shakes his head. "Don't," he manages to say, trying to fight the flood of images in his head. 

"Don't what? Tell you how I'd wreck your hole every day, how I'd stretch you out? None of your tricks would even need to prep you, they could just slide right in and use you however hard they wanted, because I'd already have broken you in that morning. Make you ride my dick before you get ready to go out and sell that slut body of yours, or fuck your mouth open while I make you fuck yourself on a dildo. You'd be so open and sloppy for them, baby, they'd thank me for it. Then afterwards I'd fuck you again, make you mine again and wipe their smell off you."

Eddie makes some stupid, whining noise that has Richie gripping his hips harder as he fucks up into him. 

And that's the last thing he wants. He doesn't want to be some fuck slave for this fucking psycho, but he can't help the pictures exploding behind his eyelids. Of Richie fucking him every day, getting him ready, getting him loose and wet with lube for every trick he's about to fuck. And he can't help how rock hard he is between his legs, how precome drools down his dick with every thrust inside his tiny body.

"God, you should see the way you open up for me," Richie says. "Your body wants me inside so fucking bad."

And Eddie can't take it. How Richie feels. What he's saying. It's all too much. 

He looks over his shoulder and snaps, "Do you ever stop talking?"

Richie's quiet for a second, and then he laughs. "Oh yeah? Want me to shut up so I can focus on fucking you?"

Panic fills Eddie to the brim. "No, I didn't mean it like that, I-"

"Shut your mouth," Richie says. He draws out completely until only the tip of his dick is still inside Eddie. He waits for a moment, just prodding the tip of his dick against Eddie's sore rim, and then he's snapping his hips forward hard, completely burying himself in Eddie's narrow body. 

"Ungh-" Eddie tries to pull off, a fresh burst of agony ripping through him, but Richie's already tugging his body back to meet his next thrust, pulling him back as he pushes forward, fucking his cock into him. And when he hits Eddie's prostate, Eddie keens, almost coming instantly.

"That's it, slut," Richie says, as his hips smack against Eddie's ass, "moan for me."

He uses Eddie's body brutally. Like he's nothing more than a toy or a fleshlight. And Eddie's whining the whole time, "ngh," "it's too much," "stop," but as Richie's cock starts to graze up against his prostate, his pleas break apart, until all he's doing is moaning every time Richie's cock punches up inside him. At one point, Richie tangles a hand in the back of Eddie's hair to arch his head back, and he uses it to fuck Eddie harder, pulling him back like a ragdoll as Eddie arches his back and moans, the violent rush of pleasure making him drool with his mouth hanging open.

He startles again when he feels Richie drop his weight against his back - his harsh, jack-rabbit thrusts slowing to a sticky pace. 

"I think now would be the best time to tell you something, baby," Richie whispers in his ear, resting his hands down by Eddie's shoulders.

"Ngh," is all Eddie can say, too drunk on the feeling of Richie's cock sinking inside him on every slow thrust. 

His eyes fly open when Richie pushes him down onto the bed, his arms and legs collapsing so he's lying face down on the bedspread. Richie follows him down to stop his dick from sliding out of Eddie, and he lowers himself gently against Eddie's back, the thrust of his hips slowing even further.

"Richie, you're heavy," Eddie says, trying not to struggle between the bed and the hot, heavy weight of Richie at his back. 

But Richie only nuzzles at his ear, his hips making short, sharp little stabs against his ass. 

"I told you I have something to tell you, Eddie, so listen."

"I'm listening," Eddie babbles, squeaking as Richie's hips still completely, with the head of his cock nestled up against Eddie's sweet spot.

And that's when Richie curls his hand around Eddie's throat, hard. 

Eddie flails on instinct, trying to lodge Richie's hand off his neck, but it does nothing. Richie is far too heavy, and his hand is an iron band around his throat. And while it isn't so strong it cuts off his air, the threat of it is there, in the heavy grip, how easily Richie's hand spans his neck. 

Richie grins against his ear, tongue darting out to wet Eddie's lobe. 

"You were a stupid bitch inviting me back here," he breathes hotly. "You wanna know why?"

And Eddie doesn't. Because he feels like whatever Richie's about to say is going to slice through him.

He gags as Richie's hand tightens around his neck, cutting off more of his air. 

"I said, do you want to know why?"

Eddie nods frantically. "Yes," he says, or tries to, with the way Richie's gripping his neck. 

"Because I'm much more dangerous than that fat fuck you were going to bring back here. Whose tiny dick you were going to suck until until he blew his load all over your creamy little cheeks."

Eddie gasps - the man had been rancid, but the way Richie describes it has his dick leaking hard against his belly.

"I'm so much more dangerous, baby, I was never going to settle for anything else than stretching your tiny hole around my cock until you cried on it. Now every time you sit down, or walk, or try to do fucking anything, you're not going to do it without thinking of me first."

Eddie wails at that, his mouth open and wet.

"And you know what else, sugar? Tonight wasn't the first time I'd seen you."

For a second, Eddie thinks he misheard. "W-what?"

"I saw you weeks ago, when you left with some suit and tie. Followed you home. I've known where you lived all this time."

"Richie-"

"Shut the fuck up," Richie says, his voice dark. "And tonight I was going to be the one. Before that fat fucking asshole slid up to you. Could have knifed the motherfucker in the throat. Wanted to watch him choke on his own blood for even talking to you." 

"Oh my god, Richie," he chokes out, Richie's hand making his words tight and hoarse.

"Yeah, you like that? Like knowing I could have had you anytime I wanted?"

Richie squeezes his throat hard, cutting off all his oxygen, and Eddie, instead of struggling, goes blissfully limp.

A second later Richie's dropping his hand from his throat, and Eddie immediately gasps, trying to fill his lungs with air, but there's no time because Richie's drawing up onto his knees and he's pulling Eddie with him, until Eddie's on his knees with his chest flat against the bed.

Richie pounds into Eddie like that, the room filled with the sound of his cock sinking into Eddie and the meaty thwack of his balls hitting his skin, his cock sliding so deeply into Eddie on every thrust it feels like he's being knifed in two.

"I could have had you any time, Eddie," Richie repeats, his voice a growl. "Any fucking time. And if I want to come back and take you again, I will. Just slink back in the middle of the night, roll you over and sink my cock into you. And you'll be such a good boy, you'll take it, won't you?"

And Eddie can see it: can see himself waking up in the middle of the night, a dark shape behind him and a thick cock fucking into him, his hole squelching with lube as the mysterious figure mounts his weak, sleepy body, and a low voice calling him a whore. 

"Because you're mine, Eddie, and if you don't know that yet then you're a stupid slut."

Richie slams his palm down on Eddie's ass, making his skin flare hot and jolting his delicate hole around Richie's dick. And Eddie can't help it: it's way too fast, and taking Richie's dick hurts far too much, but he clenches down hard as he wails, his balls drawing up tight, and a second orgasm is ripped from him, his dick pulsing as come shoots all over his sheets.

"Fuck," Richie says, sounding wrecked, as Eddie comes hard on his cock. "Fuck, you hot little bitch."

Eddie feels his mind go numb with static. Feels his body go limp and heavy. He winces when Richie suddenly pulls his cock out and pushes him down on the bed, but all he can do is lie there as he listens to Richie pull the condom off his dick and jerk off.

For a couple of minutes the room is filled with the wet sound of Richie's hand on his dick, but then Richie's roughly parting Eddie's cheeks with one hand so he can stare at his hole, which is probably gaping from the blunt force of Richie's cock. Eddie's mouth opens on a silent moan at how sore he feels, and he vaguely registers Richie grunting, and the feeling of his hot come hitting his back and ass. 

"Holy shit," Richie says, when he's finished. "Jesus Christ, baby. I want to pay for this every day."

But Eddie can't reply. Between the clouds in his head and the hot come that he can feel dripping down his hole, he feels brainless.

Richie leans in to place a small, gentle kiss on the back of his neck.

"Sweet boy," he murmurs, his fingers stroking the swollen red skin at his hole.

Some time passes - Eddie isn't sure how long - but when Eddie comes to his senses, and breaks out of the honey haze weighing him down, it's to find Richie fully dressed and tying his boots in the chair by the window.

Outside, the sun has started to come up. It must be around 5am. Six hours since he first saw Richie in the bar.

"Hey you," Richie says with a small smile. "How are you feeling?"

"Okay," Eddie says, wincing at how raw his voice sounds. "Was I sleeping?"

"Something like that, yeah. Didn't want to disturb you." He jerks his chin at the bedside table. "I left some water there for you and your money."

Eddie looks at the table, where a stack of notes has been left. He rifles through it. 500 dollars.

"This is too much, Richie," he says, "it should only be 200."

But Richie doesn't look that bothered as he stands and loops his belt around his jeans. 

"It's no big. You deserve it."

"Can you afford this much?"

Richie gives a little laugh. "Yeah, believe me. I can afford it."

And Eddie doesn't want to argue. With this much money he can pay his rent, buy food and get his next prescription. He won't have to go looking for a man for another week. So he nods and says, "thank you," as he bundles up the money and places it in a small velvet bag in his drawer.

"Richie," he says, feeling suddenly nervous.

Richie makes a questioning noise where he's rifling through his pockets.

"Did you mean that stuff you said? About the- about following me home? Knowing where I lived?"

For a split second, Richie doesn't answer, but then he's flipping Eddie a crooked smile. "Of course not. I was doing it for the scene."

"The scene?"

"Yeah, to make it more intense, you know? You responded so beautifully too."

"Oh... okay," Eddie says, not sure how to make sense of that.

"What, you think I'm an actual psycho or something? It was just some roleplay."

Eddie sits there awkwardly as Richie finishes getting dressed. Now that he's come to his senses, he feels embarrassed. Did he really have to moan that loudly while Richie was fucking him? Had he really had to push back on his cock so desperately. 

He's never felt like this with a trick before. Never.

Richie comes to stand by the bed. He surprises Eddie by drawing a hand through his hair, pushing it gently off his forehead.

"What are you thinking?" he asks, tapping Eddie's forehead with his finger.

"Just that I want brownies," Eddie deflects.

Richie smiles and says, "Sorry I can't help with that." His expression grows serious. "You going to be okay when I leave?"

Eddie nods, trying not to go pink at the feeling of Richie's dried come on his legs. "Yeah, I'm going to have a shower and sleep."

"Okay, good, do you have stuff here to eat when you wake up?"

"I need to buy some things but yeah, I'll be okay."

"Cool. I wanted to ask you something too."

"Okay?"

"Do you ever take on, like, regulars?"

Eddie blinks at him. He only had a couple of regular clients. A CTO on the Upper East Side who didn't have time for a relationship and so buried himself inside Eddie whenever he had some free time, and a family man from Tucson, Arizona, who sometimes came to New York on business.

"Erm, sometimes. I mean, I can give you my number," Eddie says.

"I'd like that." Richie digs out his phone. "What is it?"

Eddie recites it from heart, digging his fingers into his comforter. He doesn't know why, but he suddenly doesn't want Richie to leave. A thought of inviting him to stay and have coffee flits through his head, but he dismisses it just as quickly, embarrassed at even thinking it.

Don't be such a fucking idiot, he tells himself viciously. He isn't your fucking boyfriend. 

"Done," Richie says, tucking his phone away with a flourish. "I'll put you under sweetest ass I've ever had."

Eddie feels himself flush. He's just one giant exposed nerve, wet and naked and bruised on his bed, as Richie stands there fully dressed. 

Richie stares at him, and for one fleeting second Eddie thinks this won't be it. That Richie's going to come back to the bed, push Eddie down and rut between his legs like a dog until his dick catches on Eddie's sore hole and sinks inside. That he won't stop fucking him until he's broken him.

And Eddie wants it, he realises, thighs trembling even as a sharp rod of pain bolts through him. He wants Richie to do it. 

Make me your bitch, he thinks, as he bites down on his bottom lip hard. 

But instead all Richie does is kiss him, one knee on the bed, as he leans down into Eddie's space. 

It's the sweetest kiss they've shared all evening, as light and as delicate as sugared air. 

Richie smiles against his mouth when their lips part on a soft snick. 

"You're beautiful, you know," he murmurs against him. 

"Thank you," Eddie replies. 

"Shut the fuck up," Richie says. It's said lightly, but it still makes Eddie gasp, his hole clenching between his legs. 

"Richie-"

His words are swallowed up by the hungry maw of Richie's mouth. If the last kiss was sweet and gentle, this one was savage, Richie's tongue forces its way between his lips as he sucks on Eddie's bottom lip until it zings hot and hard, and bites at the corner of Eddie's mouth. Eddie doesn't know if he's being kissed or being mauled, and in that moment he feels so lost to Richie's mouth that he doesn't care.

By the time Richie ends the kiss, Eddie is a mess, panting hard against Richie's mouth, feeling sore and swollen. 

Richie noses at his mouth. "I'm not one of your tricks, so don't simper at me like I'm one," he whispers harshly.

"Okay, I won't."

"Let's try it again then. You're beautiful, Eddie."

And without missing a beat, Eddie says, "I want to be beautiful for you, Richie. Just you."

Richie leans in and licks at his mouth, obviously satisfied. "Good," he says.

It takes everything in Eddie to not grab onto Richie's jacket as he pulls away. 

Though Richie obviously notices as his fanged smile returns. "You look sad, baby. Is it because I didn't cuddle you after we fucked?"

And even though Eddie's exhausted and fucked out, it doesn't stop him glaring at Richie.

"I don't need to be cuddled."

"Sure," Richie says. "Little kitten's really a tiger, right?"

He leaves the bed so he can shrug on his jacket, but his eyes never leave Eddie. 

"Don't miss me too much, okay?"

"You wish," Eddie says lightly.

Richie snorts. "Little brat. I'll call you."

"Sure, all right."

"Good boy. See you soon."

Richie, don't go, don't leave me again, he thinks.

But Richie's already gone, walking through the door while Eddie tries not to fall apart.

A desolate feeling hits him as soon as Richie closes the door, but instead of letting himself cry, Eddie peels himself off his bed and goes into the bathroom for a hot shower. If he cries a little under the luke-warm pulse, he can convince himself later that it was just water. Afterwards he makes some instant noodles, and applies ice to the worst of his bruises, on his hips and inner thighs. There's bruising at his neck, but he applies ice there too, trying not to think about how easily Richie had choked him. How he did it without even breaking a sweat, blue eyes glimmering.

That night he falls into a restless sleep, and dreams of a black-haired boy with big glasses and an overgrown fringe. A boy who looks over his shoulder at him at the edge of a lake and says, "Don't forget about me, okay? Don't forget about any of us."

Over the next week, Eddie tries not to think about Richie. He's able to pay his rent on time, and even has money left over for groceries and another prescription from his quack doctor. He won't need to pick up a man for another week at least. So he spends the week in a glorious haze, managing to get up on time for his shift at the vegan cafe a couple of blocks over, but always coming home to pop a pill and fall into bed. 

He doesn't hear from Richie at all. 

Then that Saturday, one week after his encounter with Richie, Eddie's staring in the mirror in his bathroom as he traces his fingers along his neck, where the bruises Richie left on him have started to fade from a stormy purple to a dark pink.

When he hears the tell-tale beep of his phone in the next room, he half runs to get it. 

His heart almost stops when he sees the text.

hey how's it going?

this is richie btw :p 

Hi Richie, he types back with shaky fingers. 

A few seconds later, another text comes through: what are you up to?

Not much :)

Was Richie going to ask to see him? Eddie's chest tightens. 

remember that thing i mentioned last weekend? the improv thing i do?

I do, Eddie sends back, feeling confused.

well it's gonna b on tv in like 5 mins if you want 2 see me

Eddie stares at his phone feeling like he's missed something. 

It's being televised? he asks

yeah haha, i have to go warm up but just put nbc on 

NBC? But that was a major channel. And besides wasn't Saturday Night Live on NBC at this time? 

A cold weight drops in Eddie's stomach. He scrabbles for the remote on his bed and turns his TV on. By the time he's on the right channel, the SNL credits are playing, and Eddie sits there, in horror, as Richie's grinning face appears on his TV, his name in bold font beneath it.

Richie Tozier. 

The man who had fucked and choked him, who'd left his body covered in his bruises, and fucked him until he could hardly walk, was famous.

Eddie sits there for the entire hour. Watching Richie as he appears on his screen for a variety of sketches, each time in a different costume and wig, affecting a new accent. He's funny - hilarious even - but Eddie doesn't laugh once.

He doesn't move until after the credits have rolled, about five minutes later when his phone starts ringing.

It's from the same number that had been texting him, and he drops the phone twice before he gets it to his ear.

"Hello?"

"Hey," Richie says on the other end, against a backdrop of voices and movement. "What did you think?"

Eddie's silent for a moment, still feeling shell-shocked. "You're a celebrity?"

"Ah, I wouldn't say that, I get paid to be a buffoon on tv once a week, it's not really the same."

"But it's... Saturday Night Live. Why didn't you tell me?"

"Because it was cute how clueless you were."

Eddie sits there, reeling. He'd been fucked by an SNL cast member. And he hadn't even known.

"So this was the little gig you were talking about? You moved out from LA to be on Saturday Night Live...?"

"Yeah, exactly, you're a smart cookie," Richie says, obviously grinning. 

Eddie doesn't know what else to say. He sits there gaping at the phone.

The wall of sound suddenly dampens, like Richie's managed to duck off into a quiet room.

"Sorry about all the noise. I'm backstage at the moment. Things tend to be a bit crazy after the show ends. Adrenaline and all that."

"Uh-huh," Eddie replies, like he'd ever have any clue how that feels.

"Anyway, enough about me, how are you doing?"

"I'm okay," Eddie says. 

Richie laughs. "Are you shy now?"

"No!"

"You really don't have to be."

"I'm not..."

"Okay, good. What have you been up to?"

Eddie thinks about it, about the meager list of things he's been doing this week. 

"Oh, erm, working - I have a part-time job at a vegan cafe a few blocks from me and er, I've been thinking of repainting my place."

He cringes as he says it. How fucking boring he must sound to a famous person.

But Richie doesn't sound like he minds. "Cool, sounds nice."

"Yeah..." Eddie says, suddenly wanting this conversation to be over more than anything. 

But that's when the tone of the call changes, Richie's voice dipping into a low, smoky register. 

"You still sore from me?" he asks. 

Eddie's nipples get instantly hard. "Yes," he breathes. 

"How's your neck?"

"I still have your marks there."

Richie makes a growling noise that goes straight to Eddie's dick. 

"Fuck," he says. "Fuck, that's so hot."

Eddie shifts on the bed, rubbing the heel of his hand against his stiffening dick. 

"You better not be fucking touching yourself right now."

Eddie freezes. "I'm not," he says, as he takes his hand away, pressing it back against the bed.

"Good," Richie replies. "Have you been with anyone else since last weekend?"

Eddie shakes his head, then realises Richie can't hear that. He says, "no," quietly into the phone.

"Hmmm," Richie makes a rumbling noise like a pleased cat, making the hair on Eddie's arms stand on end. "Are you free tonight?"

"Yes." 

"Because I was thinking I could bring some drinks over, and we could have ourselves a little party."

"Oh?" Eddie says, trying to sound casual but only sounding half-strangled instead.

"I've got some weed too. Could roll us a couple of joints?"

"That sounds nice," Eddie says, wondering if Richie did just want to hang out.

"Then I want to split your raw little cunt open on my dick again, how does that sound?"

Eddie's hips buck up, his cock needy and hard in his sweatpants. 

"Nghh," he says into the phone.

"Yeah I thought so," Richie murmurs. "I can get out of here in 30 minutes how does that sound?"

"Good," Eddie says, heart thumping, hole clenching between his legs.

"Great, and Eddie?"

"Yes?"

"I want to spend the night this time."