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Margot's Room

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Richie wonders (when he thinks back to the three months he attended therapy in rehab) whether it’s the persistent influence of trauma that means that, after they kill It, he still doesn’t feel like it’s over. His therapist was named Katya, she was nicer than he deserved, and she looked at him with an understanding that made him both furious and defensive—which meant she continued to look at him understandingly, which meant he worked himself up into more of a lather, which meant that they didn’t make much progress. He can look at Mike’s big hand and see the traces of dust on his palm from where he crushed Its heart; he can look at his own bleeding fingertips; and he still feels like something’s watching the back of his neck, waiting.

Bev throws herself off the cliff and it’s not like it was when they were kids, all wild confidence and determination to show them up. Instead she just looks tired, as though there’s nothing to do but leap off the cliff. Richie gets that. He doesn’t feel any freer.

Instead it’s just that sensation of being watched. He turns, and it’s Eddie looking at him—Eddie whose eyes, instead of nervous, look intense, like he can see straight through Richie. Like he knows what it means that they threw open the door and saw an abandoned closet full of 80s jackets; like he knows what it means that Richie tried to make the Pomeranian monster sit just because Eddie said to—though reaching out to try to pet it was Richie’s own idiocy; like he knows that when Richie lunged to kiss him out of the Deadlights it wasn’t because he was confused and out of his mind, it was because he’s been thinking about it since 1989.

So he jumps off a cliff.

He tells the therapist in his mind, It seems like the reasonable thing to do. And Bev’s swum clear—he checks, he’s an idiot but he doesn’t fail every red flag—so he looks back at Eddie, shrugs, and then leaps backward off the cliff.

He hits hard. He forgot how that wall of water always smacked into you.

It’s freezing. When it closes over his ears, over his scalp, his thoughts clarify so sharply it hurts. It feels like he fills up more space in his skin, like his body is frantically shutting off all its sensors trying to get him to focus on anything other than the cold. But he feels better at the same time.

He surfaces again and gasps, in some long-lost throwback to his mother’s Catholicism, “Mary, mother of fuck!

He hears Bev’s answering laughter. “Toughen up, Trashmouth!”

“I’m plenty tough!” he lies.

His glasses got swept up to the top of his head but caught in his hair, and he wipes water out of his eyes and puts them back on his face before he swims over towards her. They turn to look up at the cliff, waiting to see who will jump next.

Eddie has come over to the edge, along with the rest of them, to peer down at them. He cups both hands over his mouth and shouts, “Richie, you have an open wound! You’re going to get a flesh-eating bacteria infection and your face will rot right off!”

Bev turns to look at him, perplexed. “You have an open wound?”

“I got bit by a tiny dog,” Richie says. “I’m not worried.”

Bev’s forehead crinkles. He loves the fact that she has wrinkles; she’s so beautiful and it makes him feel better about himself. “A dog bite?”

“Yeah, but who’s gonna have the shots for alien rabies?” he points out.

“We can hear you!” Stan calls down after him. “You’re a travesty!”

“I’m going next!” Patty announces, and leaps down from the cliff with her arms outstretched and her legs in a figure four under her.

“Your wife’s cooler than you!” Richie calls up to Stan, but he waits for Patty to surface and swim over to them. She’s gasping a little and holding her arms over her chest, and Richie figures that maybe she’s not dressed for quarry jumping in Maine (as if any of them are), so he sloughs out of his wet leather jacket and drapes it over her shoulders for modesty’s sake. She giggles.

From this height, the intensity of Eddie’s stare is reduced. “Well, I’m not doing that,” he says. “I’m walking around.” He retreats from the ledge, and after a moment Stan follows, and Richie tries not to be disappointed that he’s not gonna get to see Eddie in a wet polo shirt. Again, anyway. This time in an environment he could plausibly enjoy it.

The expression that Bev gives him is so knowing that he reaches out and dunks her under the water. Patty, holding Richie’s jacket closed around her collar, shrieks and swims away from him. Richie makes himself a sea monster, roaring and reaching with his long arms, and Bev surfaces again and half climbs his shoulders in an effort to subdue him, and he gets his hands around her ankles and then is holding her up like they’re gonna start jousting.

Oh. That’s what this feeling is. It’s childhood.

The cold water helps. He feels a little less alien in his body, and the little puncture wounds on his fingertips stop stinging after a while and go white around the edges when his hands prune. He and Bev beat Ben and Bill at jousting—no one goes as hard as Bev, ever—and his core temperature seems to have decided that he’s cold, but it’s fine, he’s not going to die from it.

Stan hangs his cardigan on a tree on the bank and wades in up to his waist with his arms held over his head, refusing to get his stitches wet. Patty floats over to him and orbits him like a mermaid. If they talk, Richie doesn’t hear it. He’s got water in his ears.

It feels a little bit like a bath. Some of the fear sweat and blood and filth of Its lair washes off into the algae-green water. He wrings out the front of his t-shirt, stretching out the fabric, and then rinses his glasses clear. The hairs on the back of his neck prickle and he turns to see Eddie, sitting on the rocks where they used to dry off, his knees tucked up to his chest and his chin on his hands, watching.

“You here for the wet t-shirt contest, Kaspbrak?” Richie calls. He’s aware of his belly, of how hairy and soft he is compared to Ben over there. He glances back—where is Ben? No sign of him. He tugs the hem of his shirt again so it hangs correctly, but there’s no hope of hiding anything.

When he looks back, Eddie rests one elbow on his knees and stretches out his forearm. He turns his palm up and crooks his fingers toward Richie. Come hither.

Richie thinks of that gesture in a very different context and almost shivers.

“Nuh-uh, you come out here,” Richie says, trying to play it cool. “I won’t get your face wet, but I’m not getting out, it’s fucking cold.”

“I don’t fucking think so,” Eddie says, perfectly audible across the flat surface of the water. He swings his arm back and rests his hand on his knee again.

He’s completely dry from their trip back through the water and up to Neibolt house by now, though the gel in his hair has given up and it has dried flat and weird. His jacket is incredibly wrinkled. Richie is fucking delighted, looking at him all disheveled. It makes him want to mess him up again, pull him into the water, make him shove at him, say Richie! in his familiar and new angry voice.

He grins to himself and sinks lower in the water, becoming the sea monster again. He’s way more convincing at it, now that he’s over six feet tall, than he was when he was a spindly tween tugging at Eddie’s ankles under the water. He brings both hands up into claws and slowly advances toward his position on the shore.

Instead of the expected Don’t even think about it, Richie, or a retreat further away from the water to defang his approach, Eddie continues to sit there, just watching him. His chin is tucked down and he looks out at Richie from under his long fucking eyelashes—not with the same glee he had when Richie looked up at him, dazed and sick and only half-conscious, to announce I think I killed It! That was a joy so transparently Eddie—Richie, did you see that?! Look what I did! Oh my god!—that Richie had no choice but to drag him down and press his mouth to his. This, though—he doesn’t know what’s going on behind Eddie’s eyes. He can see the wheels turning but he can’t tell what he’s walking into, except maybe Eddie’s satisfaction that Richie is doing what he said after all and coming over.

Because maybe something in there looks like triumph.

Suddenly creeping along in the water feels too much like crawling. He stands and the water spills off him, caught in his shirt and his jeans. It feels unforgivably loud despite the splashing and horsing around going on behind him. He almost imagines that the rest of the Losers fall silent in the wake of his sudden lurch, but he looks back around to see that Bev and Ben have resurfaced and they seem to be floating around Bill and Mike. Stan still won’t go too far into the deeper water so they’ve all swum out to be a little closer to him. He can hear some of the things they’re asking Patty as she floats on her back—about Georgia and the weather and the little gnats currently strafing them, and whether she and Stan drink sweet tea.

When he looks back, Eddie is still watching him. So Richie swallows, hears the click in his throat, and starts toward him again. It’s almost like he doesn’t have a say in the matter, like Eddie’s reeling him in on something far stronger than fishing line. Something thick and heavy like a chain.

Eddie barely reacted when Richie kissed him on that cavern floor, but he went pliantly enough when Richie yanked on his shoulders and held him flat to him. Just gasped a little—and Richie’s gonna think about that.

It was fucking coming the whole time they’ve been here. Richie was sure he showed his hand after pulling the unnecessary inhaler out of Eddie’s clutches and what he said; he thought maybe Eddie suspected after they ran away from that trio of closets and he didn’t have time to explain that he saw them with Bill years ago while Eddie was getting murdered downstairs in the kitchen; but he knew he was done for as soon as Eddie dropped his gaze to track as Richie licked his lips, and he had to just fucking go for it.

Right now he feels almost that same inevitability he did when they held hands in the tall grass and Stan walked toward him with that broken bottle. No matter how he hissed and squirmed and shook his bloody hand to try to take the sting out, he knew not just that it had to be done, but that he went to it willingly. That he had to be more than himself.

His fingertips sting again, almost as an afterthought. Easily ignorable. So much less important than whatever’s going on here.

He stops maybe a yard from the shore, maybe two from Eddie on the dry flat rocks. He holds out his arms so that water drips down off them and plinks back into the quarry with musical abandon.

“Want a hug, Eds?” he asks, trying to turn this into something he knows and understands. He can practically feel Eddie squirming in his arms, trying to shove him away, complaining about how cold and wet and dirty he is, hands flat against his chest, Richie! He could do that. That would be familiar territory. Almost safe.

Instead of rolling his eyes or scoffing or threatening Richie, Eddie pans his gaze down Richie’s body, his soaked shirt and jeans. Richie flushes hot and self-conscious again despite the cold water and cold air. He feels big and lumbering and slow, and helpless to do anything but stare as Eddie runs his eyes back up over him to his face. He sucks his lower lip into his mouth, making his already-thin mouth go thinner, and a sudden pulse of heat ignites in the pit of Richie’s stomach. He knows what that look means, but not what it means on Eddie Kaspbrak.

“No,” Eddie says, his voice low and unreadable. “Don’t call me Eds. Come here.”

“Oh, so you’re still a bossy bitch,” Richie gripes. It’s harder to move when the water’s so shallow—no buoyancy to give him false grace, nothing to hide how heavy his shoes are as he sloshes up onto the rocks. He’s still dripping, casting great wet shadows in gray and tan as he drags himself over to Eddie. If he weren’t already soaking wet he thinks he might start sweating, between the way Eddie keeps looking at him, unmoving, and the burn of the sun on the back of his neck.

Eddie blinks once at the insult, his eyelids deliberately lowered in disdain. “Sorry, what did you say?” he asks archly, his voice low and challenging. Richie loves that—he knows a dare when he hears it. “Do you wanna try that again?”

“Bossy. Bitch,” Richie says with crisp precision, standing over him. He took diction courses. He pulls the hem of his t-shirt away from his body and bunches it in his hand, fully intending to wring it out over Eddie’s head, gauze on his cheek be damned.

Eddie stands up all of a sudden with surprising fluidity. He’s still a little guy—Richie’s not sure he believes him when he says he’s five-nine—but suddenly he’s taking up space under his chin. Richie can smell him—some of the Derry rot still clinging to him, the beginnings of mildew, the last chemical gasp of his hair gel, and under that the warmth of Eddie’s body. Not even the lingering smell of graywater can put Richie off, not when Eddie has his jaw set like that and is looking at him with that spark of anger burning in his eyes.

“You think you’re so fucking funny,” Eddie says, voice cold and disdainful as he plucks at the shoulder of Richie’s shirt. The fabric is heavy and clings to his skin until Eddie pulls it away, and then a bubble of cold air flows in against Richie’s skin. Once all his warmth has wicked out of it, Eddie lets the wet cloth slop back against his chest, cold and heavy.

Richie laughs at that, because he remembers how easy it was to make Eddie giggle when they were kids. He was constantly trembling as with tectonic activity, little hitching gasps high-pitched as birdsong. Getcher chucks, Eds? Had any good chucks today?

“Yeah, and so do you!”

Eddie huffs. He’s so close that Richie can feel the cool plume of his breath, his eyes on Richie’s soggy shirt collar. “Maybe if you told your own jokes every once in a while. You’ve gotten lazy.”

“Lazy?” Richie demands, putting more outrage into it than he really feels, just to watch the corners of Eddie’s mouth curl up. “You want jokes? I’ll tell you jokes.”

Eddie’s smile deepens. Richie could push his fingertip into the little dimple at the very edge of his lips, feel a kind of suction there. “No,” he says softly, and lays his hand on Richie’s cheek. “I don’t want jokes.” His fingers are damp from fucking with Richie’s shirt. Richie’s eyes snap to his in surprise, but Eddie is already using his other hand to pull Richie’s mouth down to his.

It’s not quick or panicked; there’s no crack! and pouring dust from a stone wall over their heads. Richie forgets to shut his eyes at first until he realizes what the spread fan of Eddie’s lashes means, and Eddie pushes up into him, his elbows pressed to Richie’s chest. His mouth goes from soft to hungry in seconds, pulling away briefly and coming back for more. Richie gets with the program, closes his eyes, and brings up both hands to hang onto Eddie’s bony wrists and keep his hands on his face. He straightens up a little, forcing Eddie to stretch onto his toes and lean into him, and Eddie bites down hard on his lower lip.

He might laugh—partially because it’s funny that Eddie would pay him back like that and then suck at his mouth as though to apologize; partially because it’s just fucking funny that they’re here like this after all this time, kissing so frantically that there’s a clicking ache starting at the hinge of his jaw. He loves Eddie’s pinched little mouth, always lemon-slice puckered with irritation or concern. With all the medicine he takes he ought to taste like cherry syrup. Richie bites back at him, wanting to see his lips all red when he pulls away.

Somewhere someone starts hollering at them. Richie doesn’t care—he feels somewhere between furious and fucking invincible. He thinks that if someone tried to drag them apart he’d just whirl on them. He could do anything, right now; he’s kissing Eddie Kaspbrak. He turns them a little, leaning down so that his shoulders shield them from view. Eddie’s right hand flies away from his cheek and shakes his grip loose, and the answering laughter from the water tells him that Eddie’s flipping them off. Richie grins into Eddie’s mouth and leans further still, tilting Eddie slowly off balance until Eddie has to grab for him. Nothing to be worried about. Richie can feel Eddie’s heat all down his chest. He imagines he can feel the dip of his navel under his shirt. He’s got him. He won’t let anything happen to him.

Eddie’s free arm slides over Richie’s back and he shivers. “You’re cold,” he mumbles. His lips bump against Richie’s. Neither of them want to separate far enough for speech.

Richie grunts a wordless uh-uh into Eddie’s mouth and cups the back of his head with his hand. The roundness of Eddie’s skull presses into his palm like Richie’s made to hold him. He’s not really cold. If he were cold Eddie’d be pulling away, and the closer he clings, the warmer he’ll get. He’s prickling with new sweat all down his back, under his arms. The sun beats down on the side of his face. He doesn’t feel cold. He’s so hot he’s tingling.

Eddie’s arm presses tighter, trying to pull them closer together. Richie wishes there was a wall, something he could push Eddie up against, get the leverage to grab him by the thighs and hike him up higher. Instead they clutch at each other. Richie’s hand slides down Eddie’s spine, feeling the clammy dampness of his jacket, pushing a cloud of impending mildew scent into the air. He’s surprised Eddie can stand the smell of it, or the algae on him, or the hot slick of their mouths. It’s heady that Eddie doesn’t give a shit about Richie’s germs. Richie kisses him deeper, sucks on his tongue, makes the whole line of Eddie’s body go taut against him.

Eddie pulls back, tilting his head up to breath, gasping a muted “Fuck” into the air between them.

“Well, okay,” Richie murmurs in his ear, not so much kissing his throat as mouthing a line under his ear. He bites a little, just once, just carefully, and Eddie’s open palm slaps his scapula. He immediately runs his tongue over the mark in apology—and there will be a mark. “No?”

“Can you—” Eddie takes half a step back, increasing the distance between their feet but leaning harder into him at the shoulders. Richie dazedly thinks of mathematical diagrams, vectors of force. He spent a lot of eleventh-grade physics watching Eddie gnaw at the end of his pencil, catch himself, and slap it onto the desk in frustration. Eddie shifts his weight onto the balls of his feet and pops up off his back foot once, twice. “Can you—?”

“Oh, baby,” Richie says, completely involuntary, too serious and too needy. Eddie hits him again, not enough to hurt, and Richie just laughs down the side of his neck. He nibbles again, wanting to see what Eddie does, and is rewarded by the hitch in Eddie’s breath. His tongue swipes over a new dry patch of skin and pulls the taste of salt into his mouth.

“Richie,” Eddie says, breathless, urgent, and Richie lifts his head so they can kiss again. Eddie’s clearly preoccupied. Richie likes him like this: demanding, needy. His nails sink sharp into Richie’s back, only barely blunted by the t-shirt. “Can you or not?”

“I mean, we can’t all be wiry little gym rats,” Richie says, squeezing at Eddie’s side and making him jump.

Eddie’s retort comes out almost a moan: “What is the point of those fucking shoulders if you can’t—”

Richie stoops and hooks both hands under his ass, under the curve where it leads down to his thighs, and Eddie gasps and lifts up on his tiptoes again like he’s trying to squirm away. His hips jerk forward and Richie has to really get a handful of the thick muscle at the top of his leg to hold him. But Eddie’s outstretched arms slide down over his back, shifting his weight so their chests press tight together.

“By all means, tell me about my shoulders,” Richie snarks. This would be easier if they had a fucking wall, or if they were in the water so if Richie completely fails at this at least neither of them will break against stone. “Three, two—”

Eddie lifts his feet off the ground at the same time as Richie pulls him up, and there’s a wild sick moment where Richie has to slide Eddie’s weight up and toward him to distribute it over his own feet, but Eddie’s already leaning so hard into Richie’s chest and that his locked arms keep him anchored against the back of Richie’s neck. Then Eddie’s knee hooks over Richie’s hip, Richie grabs him by the ankle to keep him there, and then he leans back slightly, counterbalanced by all of Eddie’s weight settled on Richie’s pelvis. Eddie locks his ankles behind Richie’s thighs, and with the arm still supporting his ass, Richie boosts him up again so Eddie can cling harder to his hips. His elbows slide down over Richie’s shoulderblades. Eddie leans down and forces Richie’s head back at so steep an angle it’s hard to breathe.

Or maybe that’s because Eddie’s pupils are blown massive, thin rings of brown around black that almost seems to pulse slightly.

“Ta-da,” says Richie, the consummate performer.

“Jesus,” says Bill from far behind them. Both of them ignore him.

Eddie crushes his mouth down over Richie’s. Immediately the kiss is so deep there is no hope of air. Richie opens his mouth and sucks down hot breath straight from Eddie’s mouth, tastes his saliva.

“For my next trick,” Richie pants, “I will throw my lovely assistant in the quarry.”

“No you fucking won’t,” Eddie growls back, tightening his knees and grinding up against Richie’s dick. He’s hard—Eddie Kaspbrak is hard and shoving up against him in full daylight, heedless of witnesses or common decency. It has Richie heavy and throbbing gently in his wet jeans. He’s worried that if he loses enough blood to the head he’ll just keel over and drop Eddie completely. He conveys this, he thinks, by holding tight to Eddie’s ass and squeezing. This time Eddie’s squirm turns into a rock of his hips, and Richie has to hang on for both their lives.

“Holy shit, guys?” one of the Losers calls, incredulous, from behind them.

Eddie breaks the kiss to lift his chest a little higher, to shoot his glare over the top of Richie’s head, and Richie lets his head fall back in exasperation and yells, “Fucking what?” His voice bounces off stone and water. The echo scares birds from the trees. Eddie’s thighs tremble under his hands.

Stan, as ever, is not cowed, no matter Richie’s displays of temper. “Get a fucking room!” he shouts back. “We didn’t go through all this for you to get arrested for public indecency.” His wife’s answering laugh skips over the surface of the quarry like a stone. Richie thinks it’s funny too—the argument conspicuously having sex out here is illegal, not I don’t want to see that—and he lets himself tighten his grip on Eddie again, possessive but quiet about it.

Eddie rocks forward again like he can’t help it, and when he looks down into Richie’s face with one shining red cheek and his eyes so black he looks high, it occurs to Richie for the first time that holy shit, Eddie wants to fuck.

“Take me home,” Eddie says quietly, and presses his mouth to Richie’s again, tight and hard and only fractionally less dirty than before.

Richie’s mind reels with conflicting impressions of hot dry sun and thick overhanging green branches. “What, like, to Los Angeles?”

Eddie snorts a laugh. Richie feels the spasm of his diaphragm. “No, stupid, I meant to the hotel.”

“Well, how am I stupid, if you said the wrong thing?”

“Because,” Eddie says, “we’re still here.” He shifts his arms against Richie’s back, enough warning for Richie to stabilize himself before he unlocks his ankles and slides back down to stand on his feet, a long tight drag down the whole front of Richie’s body.

Fu-uck,” Richie groans out. He takes hold of Eddie’s shoulders and makes sure he’s steady before he lets go, but he can’t help but lean down and bite at the big tendon in his neck. Eddie hisses and shoves him away. Irritated, Richie asks, “What, are we gonna walk back to the hotel?”

“Well, we’re not fucking Ubering,” Eddie says. “My phone’s dead.” He takes a step to the side, out from behind the shield of Richie’s back, and says, “Bill! We’re taking your fucking bike!”

“Fucking—why?” Bill demands, incredulous.

“Because you can’t fucking stop us!” Eddie shouts back, and immediately grabs Richie by the arm. “Come on, run.”

“You’re so demanding,” Richie complains, even as his body automatically lunges to follow Eddie’s. “Come here. Pick me up. Put me down.

“Take me back to the hotel and fuck me,” Eddie says, and the answering shock of lust stabs Richie from groin to ankle and almost leaves him sprawling in the grass. Eddie’s laugh is loud and not at all giggle-like as it streams over his shoulder: somewhere in the last thirty years, Eddie has stopped being frightened of the sound of his own voice. He gives in and just lets it fly.

Honestly, Richie is impressed that Eddie even plans to ride a bike right now. He’s so hard that just the memory of those little plastic bike seats makes him wince. Eddie doesn’t even try to sit on Silver, which smells strongly of old metal and oil for the chain and the dust of years, skin that Richie recognizes. Instead he stands with one foot on a pedal, the other supporting him on the road, looking over his shoulder expectantly at Richie.

“Well, what the fuck do you want me to do?” Richie asks. He’s not five-foot-nothing anymore; he can’t exactly snug himself up against Eddie’s back and ride double all the way to the hotel.

Even if they tried, they’d crash. Richie wouldn’t be able to keep his hands to himself.

Eddie rolls his eyes. “Bill rode me double from Keene’s to the Townhouse.”

Richie can’t help the laugh that comes out of him. “Oh, did he?”

“Listen, I’m going, and you can catch up with me, but I will start without you,” Eddie says, turning away as though this is a legitimate threat.

“Start what?” Richie teases back. “Why don’t you tell me about it, if you want me to run behind you all the way through town.”

It’s impossible; deadlifting Eddie is probably the most exercise he’s going to have this year, and cardio is out of the question, but the idea is almost fun. He has confused memories of games of tag, of how it felt to stand skinny and knob-kneed in shorts and dare someone to chase him, and then to run away shrieking with laughter. He’d be some kind of dog, loping along after Eddie on his bike.

Eddie pushes Silver forward like it’s a scooter instead of a bicycle, one hard stroke of his foot against the ground, and then he gets his foot up and pushes down on the pedal. For a moment Richie thinks he’s gonna go over, but then his feet are driving down and he’s speeding away faster than Richie expected. Richie takes three long lurching steps behind him and gets hold of Eddie’s shoulder. Eddie doesn’t slow, and Richie steps up behind him on the back wheel just having to trust that Silver will be able to support him. It feels like he almost leaves his back foot behind him entirely as Eddie pedals away.

“You little shit,” Richie says, and Eddie laughs again as Richie lays his hands on his shoulders. The asphalt becomes a dark blur under them. The wind pulls at them enough that goosebumps rise on Richie’s bare arms and he remembers that he left his jacket with Patty, and probably left his overshirt in the water itself. Whatever.

He didn’t think his balance was good enough for this. He’s pleasantly surprised. The day is just looking up and up.

“Tell me what you were thinking of starting,” Richie prompts Eddie as he takes the road from the Barrens into town. He’s half-leaning down over the handlebars, which means that Richie has a great view straight down of Eddie’s ass and the frantic pumping of his legs. Even now, Eddie is biking against the flow of traffic, though there are no cars on the road.

Eddie laughs again and shakes his head. He never went this fast on his own bike. Richie tries to remember if Eddie wore a helmet or not and he can’t. Was that before helmets were a big thing, or did Eddie just pretend he didn’t care around the rest of them? Richie can remember how it felt to ride behind Bill on Silver—good old Silver, back to be lucky number eight with the rest of them, how could they have done this without Silver?—and look up to Bill’s red hair fluttering with the wind. Eddie never would have worn a helmet if Bill didn’t, for all he liked to pretend he wasn’t hanging off Bill’s every word.

“Did you have a crush on Bill?” Richie asks, since the idea has occurred to him. He glances behind them like he actually thinks that Bill is gonna suddenly appear out of the trees and shake his fist at them for stealing his bike, but the path to the quarry is long gone. Though he really doubts that Big Bill was coming after them, Richie still feels a pulse of possession and pride at having got away.

“No, that was you,” Eddie says acidly, his voice loud over the rushing in Richie’s ears.

Richie laughs. “I don’t think so. You were always following him around, from the day I met you.”

“You were always leaving your bike at home so you could snuggle up to him and make him ride you around,” Eddie shoots back.

This makes Richie laugh harder. They crest a hill and Eddie sits down hard on the bike seat. The frame judders for a moment and then stabilizes, and Eddie takes his feet off the pedals and lets them coast.

“Were you jealous?” he asks.

He doesn’t know why this idea pleases him—he can’t imagine Eddie shooting the stink-eye at Bill’s back and Richie folded up against his back wheel, and he knows it hasn’t been for Eddie like it’s been for him. Eddie needed time to think it over, Eddie had to solve all the external conflict before he decided to make his move, and Richie couldn’t help himself and hauled Eddie in for a kiss in the middle of a demonic clown actively trying to kill them. He just likes the idea of Eddie feeling this same clutching need, of meeting him halfway despite Richie’s love being a starving, ravenous thing.

“Yes,” Eddie snaps.

A third laugh bubbles out of him.

The road flattens out as they reach Main Street and Eddie stands up again, leaning forward and pumping his legs hard, like he’s not even fazed. Richie can’t believe how long his heart has been thundering in his chest. It feels like it has to give up at some point today. He admires its fortitude, its understanding of the things that really matter in life—like Eddie climbing him like an actual tree and demanding to be taken to the nearest available bed.

“Oh, shit, I don’t have condoms,” Richie admits stupidly.

“What?” Eddie can’t hear him.

This is Main Street in Derry, and no matter how few people are out right now, no matter that he’s already leaning over Eddie as they share a bicycle built for one, he’s not about to start screaming about condoms and lube at the top of his voice. Even if he kind of wants to shout it—Eddie wants him, fucking finally, the best thing that could possibly happen. The words sit on top of a cluster of bubbles in his chest.

He leans down and says clearly into Eddie’s ear, “I don’t have condoms or lube, we gotta stop at Keene’s.”

“I’m not going back to Keene’s,” Eddie says, turning his head just far enough that he can keep one eye on the road but so that Richie can hear him. “And I have them, don’t worry about it.”

“You—!” Richie interrupts himself with a hoot of laughter. “What did you think you were going back to Derry to do? Once the whole fighting for your life thing was over?”

He’d love to hear Eddie say this or you, to hear that the moment Eddie remembered that he existed he started planning this, but he’s not stupid enough to get his hopes up.

“In my toiletry bag!” Eddie shouts back at him, which is not an answer but is another set-up.

“Oh, is that why you had to get your toiletry bag before we could leave?”

“No, stupid, I wasn’t gonna leave my stuff here!”

“Right, God forbid you save your own life but leave your Astroglide behind!”

“I’m gonna take us over a pothole.”

“Kill us both.” It has style, after all they’ve been through today. Richie tilts his head from side to side, considering. Better to die at Eddie’s hands, trying to scale his personal Mount Everest.

“Hang on,” Eddie says right before he takes them around the turn that’ll lead them to the Townhouse. Richie remembers how Bill took those turns—how he fucking flew around them so that Silver’s frame seemed parallel to the road, how Richie once reached out and touched the asphalt so gingerly, so delicately as it whizzed by, that he got just the faintest roadburn blisters on the tips of his fingers. He feels a pulse of pain from the ghost of the old memory.

Eddie takes the turn wide, leaving them plenty of room in the curve. Richie could lean down if he wanted to, but instead he just holds on to Eddie’s shoulders, feeling the irrepressible bellows of his breathing, the gentle expansion of his chest.

He stops them in front of the Townhouse almost delicately. Richie steps down the moment before his and Eddie’s balance would have failed him and no sooner. He wants to put hands on Eddie, and he can’t find any eyes on them, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t there. In the end, it’s Eddie’s humming anxiety and shifting from foot to foot that stops him.

“What?” he asks. If Eddie’s changed his mind he’ll be disappointed, but maybe he’s tired, or maybe he’s having second thoughts. Richie thinks at this point he’d be happy to flatten up against Eddie in a bed and push kisses into his jaw, even if no dicks are involved, as long as they get to be close.

“I don’t know what to do with the bike,” Eddie admits. “This was a stupid idea, what the fuck was I thinking—do we take the bike with us?”

“Oh, for Christ’s sake,” Richie says, and grabs hold of Silver by the handlebars, picks it up, and throws it into the backseat of his rental car. It’s a stupid move, born of frustration, and he’s actually surprised that it pans out—Silver soars far more easily than a bike of its size should allow, far lighter than Richie remembers it being, and collides with the back of the driver’s seat to land wheels-down in the back.

Huh. Even including lifting Eddie, that might be the most athletic thing he’s done this year. He’s surprised himself again.

When he turns to look at Eddie, Eddie is open-mouthed, staring at the spectacle the spectacle. Then he turns to glare at Richie, his hand swinging in the familiar irate punctuation to his points. “Well, what the fuck’s that gonna do?” he demands. “We don’t have a bike lock!”

Richie loves Bill, but not enough to pump the brakes on getting Eddie Kaspbrak upstairs to a hotel room to stop and buy a lock for a bike that was put down for mercy in 1993 and unfairly resurrected in 2016. “It’s in my car,” he says, feeling that should be the end of it.

Eddie stares at him like he’s a fucking moron. “Uh, yeah,” he says slowly, sarcastically. “And your car doesn’t have a roof, genius.”

Richie shrugs. “No one’ll touch it.” He doesn’t know why he thinks that—it’s not like the shiny red sports car and the rusted old bike have anything in common, anything that would put fear of the owner into the heart of a decided thief—but he honestly can’t imagine anyone other than Bill or one of the Losers walking over and dragging Silver out of the backseat. “Come on.”

“You think with your dick,” Eddie snips, but he’s turning back to the front door of the Townhouse and giving up on the issue too. So what does Eddie think with?

There’s no one working in the Townhouse, and that’s good, because the second they’re through the door Richie has his hands on him again, spinning him around and walking him backwards toward the stairs, holding him by the hips, sucking commentary into his throat. Eddie tilts his head all the way back and says, “Fuck,” but not in a way that suggests he’s about to shove Richie off, so he takes it as encouragement.

“Watch your step,” he says, halting Eddie by putting a hand to the back of his head so he can kick a goddamn skateboard out of the way of the staircase—and then, because he has him there, pulling at his lower lip with his teeth again.

Eddie pulls his hair twice before Richie realizes he’s not trying to make him moan, he’s trying to move his head. “Get off me. Not on the stairs.”

Richie groans like this is the worst imposition anyone has ever placed on him and releases him, holding both hands up over his head so Eddie can’t accuse him of anything. But then Eddie turns to climb the stairs and Richie realizes he can ascend at eye-level with Eddie’s round little ass and diamond-shaped calves—fucking gym rat indeed—and decides it was a good idea.

“Do I have to warn you before I come to a sudden stop?” Eddie snarks. Apparently he’s not so safety-oriented that he’s above looking over his shoulder as he ascends.

Richie frowns as a distant bell rings far in the back of his head. “You’ve seen Heartbreak Ridge?” he asks, nonplussed.

Eddie scoffs. “I grew up with Bill Denbrough; I’ve seen every Clint Eastwood movie ever made.”

Richie laughs. “The fuck did Big Bill have to do with you watching Million Dollar Baby, Kaspbrak? You didn’t remember his name!”

Eddie turns back around but his voice is thoughtful. “You know, honestly, I thought I might actually be the Eastwood fan. I always thought oh, I have to go see that with—and then I couldn’t remember who I knew who always wanted to see his movies.”

“No, please, go on, tell me all about how you want another man to take you to the movies,” Richie says, playing at jealous so he can exorcise a real and completely unacceptable seed of envy in his chest. “It’s really doing it for me.”

Eddie reaches the landing before he does and turns around fast, his hand on the banister. “You wanna take me to the movies, Tozier?” He’s grinning like a wolf, showing all his teeth.

Richie’s so startled that he can’t help the honest answer: “Yeah.” His mouth is open a little as he climbs the stairs, not because of exertion but because of sheer anticipation.

Eddie’s grin widens and Richie matches it instinctively. “You wanna make out with me in the balcony?”

“Fuck, yes.” He takes the last stair up to the landing and gets all up in Eddie’s space, at last able to press him up against a wall. Eddie’s breath huffs out of him as his shoulders hit the blue paint, but then he laughs a little and Richie is assured enough to bow his head, to slide his nose under Eddie’s jaw and feel a faint, invisible hint of stubble. He likes that Eddie’s clean-cut, carefully-coiffed exterior is dissolving. He likes Eddie laughing as Richie nuzzles at his throat.

“My key,” Eddie says.


“It’s in my pocket,” Eddie says innocently, primly. When Richie raises his eyes to look at him, Eddie’s eyebrows are lifted in a challenge.

Richie slides his hands down Eddie’s sides, not even pretending to go for the jacket pockets, his splayed fingertips looking for Eddie’s nipples under his shirt. Eddie hisses and bites him, but Richie doesn’t know if that’s because he found them or just in response to the transparent grope.  He counts the flats of Eddie’s ribs under his hands and then the softer wells between them. The placket of his shirt leads down to the divot of his sternum.

Eddie shifts, pushing his hips forward into Richie’s lean. “My pants pocket, dumbass, it’s a keycard, it’s in my wallet.”

“Shh,” Richie hushes him. He stamps a kiss on Eddie’s temple. “You’re interrupting my investigations.”

Eddie laughs. “Your what?”

“Oh, I’m very invested,” Richie assures him.

Eddie laughs again, louder. “What does that mean?”

Richie kisses his open mouth. Eddie sighs into it, which is sweeter than he expected; he nurses Eddie’s lower lip, tender, and then pushes his hands into Eddie’s hip pockets. Eddie arches immediately, like he’s surprised, even though he literally told Richie to go in after the keycard. Richie finds the smooth leather of Eddie’s wallet immediately, still damp, and completely ignores it in favor of flattening his hands to Eddie’s thighs.

“Oh my god,” Eddie gasps, knees spreading, hips pushing forward again. Richie burns hotter, feeling blood pulse heavy in the base of his dick. There’s a sweet scent coming off Eddie’s skin, right where his throat meets his collar, like he’s burning through the lingering patina of Derry and Its lair. Like Richie’s stoking him that high.

Richie goes searching, hand swiping to the side and finding the ridge of Eddie’s cock through the fabric of the pocket. He fits his palm over it and squeezes, just to feel it, and Eddie’s responding cry sounds almost pained. He glances up at him to check on him and sees the furrow of his brow, his scrunched-shut eyes, his open mouth. It almost looks like pain, too. Richie touches his nose to Eddie’s Adam’s apple and licks just once at the skin under it.

Eddie shoves him back so hard that Richie’s hip bounces off the banister and he swears. “Shit, sorry,” Eddie says, not looking sorry at all as he sinks his hand into his pocket and drags his wallet out, wriggling a little when he can’t get the square turned at the right angle. He pulls his pocket inside-out entirely and leaves it there, flipping the little flap of leather open and pinching the keycard out like it’s fighting him. He slaps it to the sensor on the door and shoves it open, then reaches out and grabs hold of Richie’s shirt with his other hand, like Richie’s not moving fast enough, and drags him in.

Richie needs no encouragement, taking large steps until he’s clear of the door and it can swing shut behind him. He feels almost like he’s standing over Eddie, his feet planted on either side of Eddie’s little navy and white sneakers. Eddie seems bigger in this smaller space, more immediate with his stated intent, but Richie still feels gigantic and almost out of control. He takes hold of Eddie’s face in both hands, carefully fitting his thumb and index finger along the line of his jaw on the side with the gauze pad, and kisses him. Eddie kisses back and sways forward and then back, moving at the shoulders instead of the hips now. Again, it’s surprisingly sweet.

Eddie pushes him back again with hands on his chest, though this time it’s gentler. He doesn’t throw Richie into the wall. His eyes are still closed and his voice sounds throaty and almost resigned when he says, “I need a shower.”

“Oh,” says Richie, who might have had ideas when Eddie said take me back to your hotel and fuck me, but that didn’t mean he had expectations. He swallows with an audible click and tries to remind himself that some people might not like getting off with the stink of Derry’s sewer system still in their noses. “Okay.”

Eddie opens his eyes, big and tender and turned-down at the outer corners. It makes him look almost sleepy. “And you need a shower.”

“Oh,” Richie says in a completely different tone.

Eddie laughs. “Take off your clothes.” He moves forward and slides his hands up under the hem of Richie’s shirt.

Richie feels his fingers skim through wet hair on his body and shivers backwards almost to the wall. He left one shirt and his jacket down at the quarry; he feels this arrangement is unbalanced. “You take off something first, man, I’m working on it.” He steps out of his shoes and kicks them away.

One of Eddie’s hands slips out from under Richie’s shirt and up to his hair, fingers sliding tight to his scalp. He clenches his fist, but carefully, so he doesn’t pull. The threat is there, though. He stands close to Eddie, so close that his other hand is flattened between their chests. Richie can’t breathe.

“Take off your clothes,” Eddie says slowly, “and you can take off mine.”

Richie clenches his jaw and bites down on the moan that comes out of him, but it still breaks into speech when he demands, “Fuck, where the fuck is this coming from?” He tilts his head carefully, until Eddie releases his hair, and then he reaches for the hem of his shirt, running the backs of his hands down Eddie’s chest as he does so. “If you’d been like this the night we flew in, I wouldn’t have let you out of the hotel room. The rest of them could go fight the monster. We’d still be in bed.”

Eddie laughs, stepping back so that Richie has the room to pull off his shirt. “Promises, promises. We’re fucking forty, I don’t know what you think we’re getting up to.”

Richie feels dazed and hungry in equal measure. He’s not sure what he thinks he’s capable of either, but he keeps surprising himself. He pulls his wet shirt over his head, knocks his glasses askew, and becomes aware of the water spots dried onto them when he has to adjust them on the bridge of his nose again. He’s a little surprised they’ve made it this far, actually.

When he focuses again Eddie has taken several steps back and is standing in bare feet, paused between here and the open bathroom door, and he’s ogling Richie’s objectively unimpressive forty-year-old chest with his mouth slightly open.

“Like that, man, seriously, where do you get off, looking at me like that?” Richie demands. He hopes the plaintiveness in his tone tells Eddie he’s absolutely allowed to look at him like that, it’s just the reality of the situation that’s starting to seem less and less likely.

Eddie closes his mouth gently. Then he says—the bossy expectation in his tone vanished, leaving him sounding surprisingly vulnerable—“I don’t know.” His lips seem to want to adhere closed to each other when he shuts his mouth again; Richie knows how spit sticks to spit, wants to press his own mouth over them once more. Eddie swallows and Richie watches the lift of his Adam’s apple. “I just want you, that’s all.” He sounds like he thinks he might have done something wrong, like Richie’s about to call it quits on him.

Fat fucking chance of that. Richie steps forward to meet him, his hands going to Eddie’s elbows. He kisses him almost gently and Eddie turns up his face and presses back once, twice, soft. Richie can smell his hair, smell his sweat, something so bitter and sharp he almost wants to push his face into Eddie’s armpit to seek its source. He’d forgotten, for a moment, what happened to Eddie in this room. As if he’ll fucking let anything happen to Eddie—now, maybe ever.

“I love it,” he says, because the you feels like a bomb too big to drop sitting on the back of his tongue. “It’s fucking hot as hell. Tell me what you want.” He’s still breathing a little labored--not from the stairs, but from the anticipation of whatever it is that Eddie wants.

Eddie pushes a humming, faintly pleased sound up against his teeth. “Mmm.” He pulls back with a wet smack of lips. “Let me start the shower.”

Richie’s body has mixed feelings about this: something in his chest sinks in disappointment, and his dick twitches in his pants. He winces a little in discomfort—his jeans are drying tight.

Eddie leans forward and runs his closed lips over Richie’s collarbone. “Can we—? Do you mind?”

Richie blinks stupidly. “I can’t think of much I’d mind right now, but you’re gonna have to throw a predicate in one of those sentences.”

Eddie laughs, warm breath against his bare chest. “Predicate. You’re such a fucking nerd, I forgot.” When he looks up at Richie he’s smiling.

“Whaddayamean, ‘you forgot’?” Richie demands. “Who’d you think you were tonguing?”

“Sorry I forgot you’re smart, when you get up on stage and spew so much dumb shit,” Eddie says, voice broad and sarcastic. “I forgot you used to invite me over to watch Schoolhouse Rock on your parents’ TV.”

“Hey, we’re only allowed to bring up one of our collective parents in the bedroom,” Richie says.

Eddie slides his hand up Richie’s chest and Richie has a flash of how cold his fingers are before he pinches his nipple.

“Oh my god,” Richie says, as his knees go weak.

Eddie bites at his lower lip again, like he’s intrigued by Richie’s response—and that sends a kind of prickling awareness over Richie’s back and shoulders: the idea that Eddie liked what he just did, and that could be dangerous for Richie. Eddie could be dangerous. But the idea is so hot that Richie has no idea what to do, feeling useless standing there with Eddie’s knuckles still loosely holding his nipple.

Then Eddie shakes his head like he’s clearing it. “Shower,” he says, and releases Richie and steps back.

The window is open in the bathroom, fresh air coming in as the sky gives up on being bright blue and starts suggesting evening. Eddie goes straight over and closes it, as Richie looks at the travesty of the shower curtain. Eddie told him what happened, what he did to Bowers, but Richie looks at the popped-open rungs like missing teeth and the drops of dried blood on the floor and feels an unexpected rush of rage, and then the phantom thud of the axe into Bowers’ skull again. He didn’t like it in the moment—had no concept of liking or disliking, only fear and save Mike—but now an old wound whispers vengeance to him from twenty-seven years down the line. He’s glad he killed Bowers—not just because of what Bowers did to him, but because of what he did to Eddie. Because of how Bowers must have made Eddie feel, right here in this bathroom.

“What the fuck did you do to this thing, Eds?” Richie asks instead, admiring the gash down the plastic.

Eddie turns and blinks slowly at it, and then says, “You know what? I don’t care.”

Richie waits for context clues about what it is exactly that Eddie does not care, but Eddie just goes over and turns the knobs that send water pounding down into the porcelain bathtub like hail. The shower head hisses. Richie can almost smell how cold it is.

Eddie tugs halfheartedly at the shower curtain, as though, vivisected and dangling, he still wants to pull it into place around the tub, but then he gives up and pushes it back. “Fuck it, we’ll flood the place, I don’t care.”

“That’s great,” Richie says. “I want to be in this tub with you when it crashes through the ceiling into Bill’s bathroom.”

Eddie laughs. “Be quick and it won’t happen.” He shrugs out of his red jacket and Richie can finally see his arms, as though he’s been hiding them the entire time they’ve been here. Richie’s hands immediately go to the wiry muscle—his biceps, the tendons in his forearms. For his part, Eddie starts flicking open the buttons at his collar.

“No, no, let me do it,” Richie says. He nudges Eddie’s hands away and places his own carefully on either side of the buttons.

Then he undoes one so slowly it’s not even sexy, it’s not a striptease, it’s just provoking Eddie. Eddie stares at him with his eyebrows raised in a hurry up, you moron. Richie grins at him for a second and pops the second button open.

Eddie cocks his hip to the side and shifts his weight so he can bounce one knee. “Oh my god,” he says, in a tone of complete exasperation. “You’re getting me naked, and I’m bored.”

Richie’s mouth opens in shock automatically, and his hand fists in Eddie’s collar and gives a sharp jerk. The last button pops off at an angle and collides with the porcelain bathtub, producing an almost musical chime.

Immediately Eddie turns furious. “Richie!”

“No, no, go back to being condescending, it was hot,” Richie says, and he’s not lying. He thinks there’s still a blush in his cheeks.

“Do you know how much this shirt cost?” he demands.

Richie pushes his hands up under Eddie’s shirt, rucking up the ruined fabric and feeling him up. “I don’t care. I’ll buy you new clothes.”

“I don’t think you know how to buy clothes!” Eddie snaps back at him. “You dress the same as you did at thirteen.”

“Did you drool over me like this when I was thirteen?” Richie asks coolly. He pushes at the shirt until he can hear the seams under Eddie’s arms strain. “Take this off.”

Fuck you,” Eddie hisses as he lifts his arms. Richie pulls his shirt off ungraciously, the protrusion of Eddie’s nose clear through the fabric as he tries to get it free of his head. “Jesus Christ,” he snarls, as the fabric whooshes all his hair up away from his head.

Richie flings the shirt across the room, steps forward, and envelops Eddie in his arms so that he can shove both hands down the back of Eddie’s pants. The sound that Eddie makes in response is almost a squeal. Richie squeezes the smooth material of his underwear and Eddie moans and rocks up like he’s trying to get away again, pushing his hips straight into Richie’s.

“So do you want me to grab your ass, or don’t you?” Richie asks, just to be clear. He finds the waistband of Eddie’s underwear—maybe boxer-briefs, he can’t tell without feeling for Eddie’s thighs—and runs his thumbnail along the edge.

Obviously I want you to grab my ass,” Eddie snaps back, sounding awful angry for someone supposedly getting what he wants.

“Mmm,” Richie hums, pushing a knee between Eddie’s thighs and squeezing with the hand still cradling it. Eddie squirms, and his dick rides straight up Richie’s thigh just like he intended, and Eddie drops his head forward, all his bluster gone out of him. “So are you just twitchy because you like it, or—” He slides his other hand back down and applies a little pressure, pulling Eddie’s cheeks apart gently.

“Oh my god,” Eddie says. “Oh my god.” His hands spasm on Richie’s shoulders and his hips rock tentatively, like if he ruts gently enough up against him then Richie won’t notice.

“Eddie,” Richie singsongs, letting his tone turn wheedling. “Eddie, I asked you a question.” He stretches his neck so that he can reach Eddie’s hand on his shoulder with his mouth and kiss at the backs of his fingers; he has a vague idea that he wants to bite at Eddie’s wrists.

“Take them off,” Eddie snarls, his voice breaking on the last word and cracking so low Richie feels it in his bones.

Richie shoves down at Eddie’s pants so hard that he feels his nail catch on Eddie’s lower back and scratch. Eddie makes a raw sound, and his hands whip down and unbutton his fly, which Richie had completely forgotten about.

“Sorry,” Richie says, and kisses Eddie’s forehead to demonstrate his apology. He feels the give of tension in his wrists when Eddie gets his pants open and he drops to his knees, meaning to yank them down properly.

Eddie lurches back, whipping out of his arms so fast it stings, one hand flailing for the edge of the bathtub to stop him from falling on his ass.

Richie, kneeling on the bathroom floor, freezes. The distance between them feels cold, though the shower is finally starting to steam in the open air beside them. He does not move, but he lets his eyes flick up to Eddie’s face.

Eddie looks wrecked, flush on his face, his pinched little lips bright red from Richie’s kisses. His chest heaves with his breathing. He looks barely balanced, the long line of his spine from his collarbone to his pelvis a graceful swoop as he holds himself up with one braced arm. His pants are undone, and Richie can see the black waistband of his underwear and then the dark gray material.

He doesn’t move. He just waits.

Slowly Eddie takes a deep breath in, closes his mouth, and straightens himself up. “Sorry,” he says, his voice thinner than it’s been all day. “Sorry, I just—I didn’t expect you to do that, is all.”

Okay. So apparently, even for pants-removing purposes, Richie on his knees is a no-go. He grimaces and braces one hand on his thigh as he levers himself back up, hearing the joint click. “Okay,” he says awkwardly. “Well, I don’t have to.”

Eddie shakes his head, his eyes wide. Richie has no idea what he’s refusing. He jerks his chin at him. “Take off your pants.”

With this new skittish mood, Richie feels like following Eddie’s instructions is probably the best idea. He undoes his jeans, looks down, curses out loud when he remembers what boxers he’s wearing, but shucks his jeans off anyway. He steps out of them with one foot and then has to peel them off the other leg, throwing them off to the side and then standing there with his legs slightly splayed, not even bothering to conceal what he’s wearing from Eddie. He even splays his fingers a little on either side of his hips, like, ta-da. There it is.

The boxers are cyan blue, and in white lettering all over them, they say: COOL GUY COOL GUY COOL GUY COOL GUY.

There is a long moment of silence.

Then Eddie snorts, a little. The sound gets caught in his nose, and then pushes a little farther out. Richie, familiar with that feeling and also apparently vulnerable to Eddie’s contagious laughter, grimaces hard but feels himself start to laugh anyway.

Then Eddie breaks completely, sliding down the side of the bathtub and onto the floor, his legs folded coltish under him. He can’t even speak, he just presses his forehead against the porcelain and howls.

“Okay, apparently only one of us came back to the murder town planning to get laid,” Richie says loudly, over Eddie’s hysterics.

“Yeah,” Eddie warbles. “But if it makes you feel better, you’re such a cool guy!

Richie tucks his head down to try to contain his guffawing, which is about to turn ugly, and instead just shells off his boxers, and his socks for good measure. “Laugh at that,” he says, half afraid that Eddie’s about to call his bluff and he will laugh at his dick, which has lost none of its enthusiasm and swings earnestly as he plants his feet again, pitching his COOL GUY boxers to the side with his jeans.

Eddie’s laughter diminishes, becomes a few swallowed giggles, and then fades entirely. The only sound becomes the drive of the shower spray into the bathtub. Richie glances at it, at the edges of the spray that he can feel bouncing out and misting in the room with them, and then back at Eddie.

Eddie is staring at Richie’s dick. His head is still resting against the side of the tub, his mouth is still a little open, and his eyes are huge and dark. Richie feels—obviously—exposed, but Eddie’s expression is interested, faint constriction around his eyelids turning his face serious, almost contemplative. Richie grimaces as another pulse of want goes through him, and his dick doesn’t move, but he feels a blurt of precome slide out of him. He can’t look at Eddie. If he’s biting his lip again, Richie thinks he’ll come all over the floor.

Eddie moves slowly, putting his hands above him on the bathtub and pushing himself up. There’s the slither of fabric against the tile, and Richie looks at his hips to find him pushing his pants off, stepping out of them one leg at a time. He realizes that Eddie’s boxer-briefs aren’t dark gray—they’re light gray, and there’s an irregular dark patch right over the head of Eddie’s dick.

“Oh, you’re wet,” Richie sighs, his voice coming out maybe two octaves lower than normal and so soft the shower almost drowns him out.

Eddie doubles over like he’s been punched in the stomach. “You can’t just say shit like that,” he groans.

Richie blinks once, wondering if he has to remind Eddie that he’s not in possession of a filter and this has been the case since 1983, but then Eddie’s thighs are shifting, coming up to shield him nervously as he peels his boxer-briefs off and drops them on the floor behind the tub, and then he steps into the shower. He holds his elbows tight to his sides and his knees close together; his dick, seemingly unaware of Eddie’s inclination to shrink away, bobs in the air as he straightens. Eddie hisses under the spray and turns one of the dials, then closes his eyes and tilts his head back as in relief. His shoulders visibly relax. He takes one deep breath in and then sighs it out, and only then does he open his eyes to look at Richie.

Richie swallows. Under his skin he feels familiar prickling, surprisingly intense; at the same time, he feels like his feet are nailed to the floor. Like if he moves, this good dream will melt away and Eddie will no longer be looking at him from under the spray. Like if he tries to step into the shower with him he won’t be able to stop himself, like he’ll shove Eddie up against the wall and wrap his hands around his dick and Eddie will scratch all the way down his back and shout and it’ll all be over too soon.

“Are you coming?” Eddie asks, softly.

“Trying not to,” Richie replies half-seriously.

Eddie snorts. He breathes deep into his belly; Richie can see it jerk with his laughter. “Come on, Rich.”

Richie brushes aside the almost useless shower curtain and steps in with him.

The water is surprisingly cool considering how Eddie’s unwinding under it, but compared to Richie’s wet clothes it’s warm enough. He turns his back to it and kisses Eddie again, no pressure to get their bodies together, just mouth to mouth.

“Too tall,” Eddie mumbles against Richie’s lips, and then he grabs Richie by the dick.

Well, so much for consideration. Richie twitches in his grasp, a tendon in his thigh flexing, and Eddie slides his hand over the crease between his hip and groin. Richie gasps and kisses him deeper, feels Eddie’s wet and narrow shoulders, the bird-wing sharpness of his scapulae. He runs fingers down Eddie’s spine all the way to the crease of his ass, and Eddie steps forward so that their chests press together. His dick nudges up between Richie’s legs.

“I want to touch,” Eddie moans. “Can I just touch?”

“I think you fucking are,” Richie asks, finding the dimple at the top of Eddie’s ass and making him shift back and forth. He can’t decide if it’s shyness or sensitivity—or if Eddie’s shy and sensitive because he hasn’t gotten much ass play in his life. Richie’ll do that, if he wants. He doesn’t care how showered or not Eddie is; if Eddie hadn’t flinched just a moment ago, Richie would be lowering to his knees and asking if he could eat Eddie out, could suck Eddie’s dick, could follow the gorgeous lines of his hipbones with his tongue.

He strokes around to the front with his fingertips, feeling—Eddie tries to be as clean-shaven here as on his face, he guesses, but he feels little patches of stubble either where Eddie missed a stop or he’s growing back in prickly. It can’t be comfortable. Richie would lick that to sooth it, if Eddie would let him. Instead he nibbles under Eddie’s jaw, finding tender skin and plucking at it with his teeth.

“Okay—you’re too tall, switch with me,” Eddie demands.

Richie becomes aware that Eddie is shivering, that his skin is cool where it isn’t plastered to Richie’s. He opens his eyes to rotate in place with Eddie, trading spots in the tub so that Eddie’s under the spray.

He reaches up and steals Richie’s glasses right off his face, and as he slides them free Richie is startled by how much clarity of detail remains within the boundaries of the tub. He can still see the fold of Eddie’s eyelids, the relaxed little creases across his forehead.

Eddie folds his glasses and sets them in the soap dish, picking up the soap in the same motion. “That okay?” he asks.

Richie leans down to get the shampoo and holds up the little bottle for Eddie’s approval. “If I get to do you too,” he quips, more flippantly than he feels.

Eddie’s gaze flicks to the bottle in Richie’s hand and he says, “Okay, but let me first.”

What Eddie seems to want to do is work up a good lather on both his hands, then set the soap down and slap them to Richie’s chest. Richie jolts in surprise, but Eddie looks deeply satisfied. He slides his hands up to Richie’s neck and then over his collarbone, soap making his hands slippery as he drags over Richie’s chest hair.

Richie finds himself laughing. He cracks open the bottle of hotel shampoo and the smell of lemons and olive oil punches into the air.

“What?” Eddie asks, scraping his nails almost spitefully over Richie’s chest.

“I should have known that’s how you’d want it.” He pours shampoo into his palm—it’s freezing. What the fuck is up with the heating in this place? “Head back.”

“That’s not—I don’t have a thing for, like, soap or shower sex,” Eddie snaps, though he tilts his head back a little. Richie lets himself be rough, because the alternative is being worshipful, and when he rakes his nails across Eddie’s scalp he wins a little moan of appreciation. “But we’re both covered in greywater, and probably blackwater based on the smell—” Eddie smells good, actually, salt and musk smells emerging under the shower spray as the outside world burbles down the drain, the flat basic smell of soap on his hands and the blandly clean shampoo Richie sudses through his hair. “—and I don’t want that on my sheets.”

“Oh,” Richie says with the same shiver sense of realization, as Eddie’s hands pull at his hips, his sides, his love handles. “You want me in your bed.”

Yes I want you in my bed,” Eddie says, as though this is obvious. “And—” He gets more soap on his hands and runs them across Richie’s ribs. “—I wanna touch you.”

“By all means, touch away,” Richie says, all mock-grandiosity. He spikes Eddie’s hair into a mohawk, because how often will he get to do that?

Eddie has his eyes shut against suds and he scowls slightly. “Well, you were the one showing off,” he mutters, as though Richie knows what he’s talking about.

“What now?”

“Getting all wet, and taking your clothes off, and giving Patty your jacket,” Eddie says disdainfully, when Richie knows perfectly well that he likes Patty. “And talking about wet t-shirt contests, and flashing your—” He soaps under Richie’s navel, at what might generously be called a muffin top and more accurately a beer gut.

Even his keg can’t spoil this for him. He grins, though Eddie’s eyes are still shut. “Oh my god,” he says slowly. “You were jealous.”

Eddie says nothing but his lower lip pushes out a little. “Well, you could have given me your jacket.”

Richie cackles. “My soaking wet jacket? My ruined jacket? My jacket I never weatherproofed? You, Eddie Kaspbrak, would wear that jacket?”

“You could have taken it off before you jumped in,” Eddie sulks.

He brushes his thumb over Eddie’s cheek to warn him, and then he kisses him with their eyes shut and the water pouring down over them, breaking away to take little sips of air.

Richie wipes his eyes and remembers Eddie’s gauze pad. He taps it gently. “Hey, honey, I think this is done for.” He can see where it’s shifted against the tape, either too heavy or the adhesive failing.

Eddie rinses his hair and then pulls it off his face without even a flinch. Instead of the red slice of an open wound, the gauze reveals the metal smell of dried blood—and a thick pink line of scar tissue.

“Eddie,” Richie says. He brushes the stab wound with his thumb and Eddie, who visibly braced himself for the pain, blinks in surprise. Water clumps his eyelashes together. “You’re healing.”

Eddie’s eyes flare a little wider. “Just like—” He holds his hand up to show his clean palm, the old scar only a faint white line, already shorter lengthwise than the original cut Stan made. Richie looks at his own hand. The little punctures in his fingers are still fresh and puffy around the edges, but his scar is fading too.

“Why do you still have those?” Eddie asks, looking down at the teeth marks. “When this is…?” He taps his own jaw on the side of the stab wound.

Richie feels that ferocious protectiveness rear its head again. “Because we killed It,” he says with certainty. “And I killed Bowers.” He kisses Eddie again, slides his tongue behind his teeth.

Eddie nudges him away, though he’s still hard between them, soap from Richie’s belly transposing onto him. “And what, the fucking dog is still running around in the caverns down there?”

Richie laughs at the mental image. “Yeah, that’s it.”

“You’re making shit up.” Eddie tilts his head back for the kiss anyway.

“Yeah,” Richie agrees, and kisses him nice and deep, tilting his head back until he has to close his eyes again, gasping breaths between their lips. His soapy chest presses up against Eddie, who in comparison is sleek and almost smooth, his body hair short and fine. Richie slides his hands down to Eddie’s hips and pulls them together. Eddie’s dick pushes into Richie’s belly and Eddie gasps. Richie just grinds up against him a little. They’re not quite aligned, but it feels good anyway, Richie finding the flat of Eddie’s abdomen and pushing against him. Eddie tenses the muscles there and Richie moans. He slides his hands back to tease at the top of Eddie’s ass again.

“What do you want?” he asks, because Eddie was vocal enough before. As Eddie pants beside Richie’s mouth, he feels around behind Eddie for the soap dish. He narrowly avoids knocking his glasses into the tub, and he catches the soap before it slides away. He starts lathering.

Eddie swallows, loud. “Not in me,” he says quickly, quietly. “I don’t want…”

“Okay,” Richie says, only marginally bummed as he puts several fantasies back in their box. He works the soap in his hands, then slides them up Eddie’s sides and into his pits fast enough to startle.

Eddie gasps and leans away, then bucks against him as he realizes there’s no room. “If you tickle me, that means war!” he says loudly, all his hesitancy gone. “I will wreck your shit, Tozier. I’ll make you cry; I’ll make you piss yourself; I don’t give a fuck. You won’t enjoy it.”

Richie laughs, though he has no doubt Eddie fully means his threats. “Just the FACTs, babe,” he says, lathering gently under Eddie’s arms. There’s more hair here, and Eddie doesn’t bother to shave it; he scratches into it, nothing that could be accused of tickling, and Eddie squirms anyway, pleasantly slippery all pressed up against him. “Face, armpits, crack, and toes.”

It takes Eddie a moment to process what that means and then he makes a furious sound. “That’s disgusting,” he says. “Is that what you think a shower is? If you touch my feet, I will destroy you.”

“I won’t enjoy it, yeah, got it,” Richie says, finagling the soap bar out of Eddie’s right armpit and around behind his back again. He lathers his hands once more. “Can I touch your asshole, or will you make me cry and piss myself in a way I really won’t enjoy?”

“I—” Eddie audibly gulps. “I was going to. Um.”

To give him time to consider, Richie sets the soap back in the dish. It’s gonna melt all over his glasses—or maybe not, since Eddie has the water just warm instead of hot. Richie feels hot anyway. It’s just as well.

“Don’t uh.” Eddie’s arms fold cautiously around his back. Richie is reminded, oddly but in a way that doesn’t ruin the mood, of oiled wrestlers. Let’s take our shirts off and kiss! “Don’t put. Anything, um. In me. I don’t.”

Richie kisses his temple, resists the urge to push his face into his clean wet hair. “I won’t. You said not to.” He’s been holding his hands out of the spray so the soap stays on them, but now he touches the very base of Eddie’s spine with a fingertip. He remembers the name of that little pointed bone there—coccyx—because it sounds dirty. The curve of his ass is plenty appealing, if Eddie says no, not there. Maybe he’ll let Richie just knead at his cheeks, thumb at the lines where they dip into his thighs.

Eddie’s eyelids flutter. “Fuck. Yeah. Kiss me.”

He kisses him. Eddie wants to get clean? They’ll get clean.

When he slides his fingers down Eddie makes a short high-pitched noise, and when he squeezes his ass again Eddie lifts up onto his tiptoes again, his dick riding up against Richie’s without coordination. He grins a little, bites on Eddie’s lower lip, and solicits more gasps, more moans from Eddie’s mouth. He strokes. He teases. Eddie grabs hold of Richie’s hips and ruts against him, trying to settle into a rhythm that Richie keeps breaking by making him twitch and squirm. He slides his fingers all the way down, touches the tender skin behind his balls, finds the seam, and Eddie’s nails sink into his lower back and drag. Richie shouts.

Eddie breaks the kiss, throwing his head back and shaking his hair out of his eyes. “Okay, I need—”

He shifts in a way that’s distinctly trying to shake Richie off, and Richie clasps his hands loosely behind Eddie’s back. Pressure off his ass now, Eddie relaxes. There’s still a determined urgency in the way he drives Richie a step back. He scrubs at his hair, twists in Richie’s arms to lift one elbow and rinse his armpit, then back the other way to do the other. His cock slides slick and clumsy across Richie’s, and Richie hisses.

“Come on, hurry up,” Eddie says impatiently, and it finally occurs to Richie that he wants to rinse off so they can get out, so they can go to bed, so they can get off.

He takes enough of a step back that Eddie, twisting and turning to clean himself up, hands guiltily prying his ass apart for a rinse with a furtive flick of his eyes in Richie’s direction, leaves him enough of the spray to get some of the soap off his chest. It’s pleasant, but a disappointment compared to Eddie plastered up against him. He gets the soap and scrubs haphazardly at his armpits, at the creases of his thighs, aiming for speed rather than accuracy.

Eddie says, “Fuck,” and grabs Richie’s dick again.

His hips jerk. “Hey, watch it,” he snarls back, and wraps his hand around the base of Eddie’s. Eddie almost falls into him. “Okay, you’re clean,” Richie says. “I’m making an executive decision.”

“You don’t get to make executive decisions.” Richie tightens his fingers and pulls a little ah out of him. “You don’t,” Eddie insists, like his dick isn’t weeping in Richie’s hand. Richie switches his grip and strokes him, gets him to thrust up. “Fuck!” Eddie slaps the water off. “Where’s the fucking towel?”

The idea of Eddie wrapped up in a clean fuzzy towel has its appeal. Richie drags his thumb over Eddie’s slit, drawing a little circle there.

“I’m gonna hit you,” Eddie says, all heat and no follow-through.

“I wish you would,” Richie replies, too smooth and too serious.

“Let me go. If you fall and break your neck right now I think the whole fucking Big Bang will reverse itself, I’ll just—” Freed, Eddie mimes a sort of universal implosion. His dick wobbles a little with his full-body cataclysms.

“No, we haven’t banged yet,” Richie points out. “We have to bang before it can reverse itself.”

Eddie’s nostrils flare in complete fury. Apparently the line between extreme arousal and galaxy-ending rage is a very fine one. He grabs hold of Richie’s shoulder and uses him to steady himself as he steps out of the shower onto the tile floor. Water drips down his legs. He shivers a little.

Richie clambers out after him, planting his feet heavily. “If I fall and break my neck, you can fuck my corpse,” he says. “I don’t care. Let me achieve in death that which I could not in life—yadda yadda yadda.”

“Shut the fuck up,” Eddie snarls, shoving up against him and covering his mouth with his own. His hands pull at Richie’s sides, grabbing hold of the thick part of his waist. Eddie moans and says, far less angry than before, “You’re so warm.”

It feels like the urgency is soaking into his whole body, diminishing his awareness of things that are not Eddie. Richie suspects it’s just him thinking with his dick, as accused. Water collects in the dimple at the small of Eddie’s back, in the crease under his ass. Eddie shifts his weight.

“I absolutely cannot pick you up right now,” Richie tells him. “I’m not kidding, we’ll fucking die.”

“Bed,” Eddie orders, which Richie can agree with, so he drives Eddie backwards through the doorway where tile becomes carpet. “Get the fucking duvet off,” Eddie orders. His hands grope behind him for the edge of the bed.

Richie grabs the edge of the duvet and pulls so it slides down to the floor, revealing clean ivory-colored sheets. He shoves Eddie back and Eddie loses his balance, sits down hard.

“What do you want?” he asks, feeling deranged.

Eddie pushes at him, makes him take a step back, and stands up again. “The goddamn lube, Richie,” he says. He goes over to one of his fleet of suitcases and Richie stands there with his hands splayed almost desperately, gesturing at nothing

Eddie stands up with the bottle in his hand and takes a look at him, then laughs. “Oh my god, are you okay?” His smile keeps it light and pleasant; Richie loves his throat, the cackle of his laughter.

“I feel insane,” Richie says.

Eddie throws the lube on the bed without looking. “You look a little insane,” he says, walking over to him and touching his shoulder, his cheek. His expression is tender. He presses the back of his hand to Richie’s forehead. “Seriously, you okay?”

“I’m in the alternate universe where Eddie Kaspbrak bosses me around for his sexual pleasure,” Richie replies. “This is the best timeline. I’m fucking golden.”

“You’re so fucking hot,” Eddie sighs, and Richie genuinely does not know if Eddie finds him attractive or thinks he’s running a fever. His hard fucking dick is the most reassuring context clue, but he’s not sure how this little check-in is changing the mood.

Richie grabs Eddie by the wrist, leans down a little to look in his eyes. “Tell me how to get you off.”

Eddie’s head lolls back a little. He likes that, likes hearing it. He recovers himself quickly. His free hand strokes up over Richie’s bicep. Richie feels sized up. The pleasure in Eddie’s eyes and the curve of his mouth feels like meeting expectations.

“Hold me down,” Eddie says.

Richie takes a risk, stooping to grab Eddie around the calves. Eddie shrieks when he lifts him off his feet, but this isn’t a carry, this is like felling a tree. He bounces harder on his tight ass than Richie intended on the mattress, his elbows splayed crazily and his legs pinched together. Richie climbs up after him and on top of him.

Eddie glares at him, but there’s an amused pull to the corner of his mouth. “I didn’t tell you to do that.”

“You liked it,” Richie says, certain of it. When they were small enough Eddie liked to be picked up and spun, pushed on swings. Richie got sand packed into his knees, him and Big Bill tugging opposite sides of the roundabout on the playground so Eddie could sit on the edge and yell whee!

You liked it,” Eddie throws back.

Richie grins and shoves one palm down over Eddie’s wrist, holding it to the mattress. Eddie’s other hand immediately comes up, grabbing for his shoulder, so Richie lowers his full weight onto his body, slowly crushing him to the bed. Eddie’s eyes roll back in his head.

“Holy shit,” Richie says, almost awed.

Eddie’s face immediately scrunches up, almost embarrassed. “Do you want—condoms?” he asks, voice pressed out of him.

Richie blinks hard, trying to remember what they agreed to do that necessitates condoms, when Eddie said he doesn’t want anything inside him. Is Richie going to ride him?

“Wha—why?” he asks, nonplussed.

One of Eddie’s legs shifts under him. Richie rolls to lean on his other hip and Eddie slides his knee out. Richie falls into the cradle of his hips, and Eddie bucks under him, surprisingly strong. Well, not so surprisingly. Richie splays his legs to knock Eddie’s knee over and pin his thigh, and Eddie’s mouth drops open a little.

“Oh,” Richie says in realization. “Oh, you want to wrestle.”

Eddie gives a full-body shiver even as he grits his teeth, like he can’t help it. “Focus,” he says sharply. “Do you want condoms?”

It’s been long enough since Richie had sex that he’s not worried about giving Eddie anything—and if Eddie has anything, he wants it. This is a thought so stupid and guaranteed to get Eddie to kick him, possibly literally, out of bed, that for once it stays in his fucking head instead of falling out his mouth. “Is your dick going anywhere new?” he asks instead, because he can feel Eddie, gratifyingly hard and wet, up against him.

Eddie tilts his head back like he’s rolling his eyes and lets out a sigh. “I can’t wait to fuck you,” he says, so disappointed that it has to be a summation of ability, not enthusiasm. Richie puts his head down and laughs into Eddie’s chest. “I don’t see what you’re laughing at,” Eddie growls.

Richie lifts his head a little and runs his tongue across Eddie’s nipple. Ghost-fine hairs lay flat in his wake. He bites carefully, just to feel them between his teeth.

Eddie’s nails pierce his side. “Richie.”

Richie looks up at him. “You want me to hold you down and dry-hump you until you come?” he asks, letting his voice drop just to gravel.

Eddie wrinkles his nose. “I don’t like that word.”

“Come?” Richie asks, when he knows full well it’s hump Eddie doesn’t like. He has a free hand; he flicks idly at Eddie’s side, making Eddie twitch and his eyes flare wide. “Grind?” he suggests. Flick, flick. There’s a little mole there. That’s cute. “Fuck? Though I guess that depends on the prepositions.”

Eddie’s expression is watchful, wary, alert. “Do not fucking tickle me,” he says. Richie understands the privilege of having Eddie spread out and vulnerable under him. Eddie doesn’t even provide threats this time for what he’ll do if Richie does. He’s trying to take it off the table entirely.

Richie grabs his free hand and slams it to the bed while Eddie’s distracted. Eddie arches under him immediately, trying to get leverage with his heel and one ankle. “Or what?” he asks, just to tease.

Eddie’s spine settles slowly. “Or you can take your blue balls upstairs,” he says flatly.

Richie sticks his tongue out at him. “Okay, but if I do it accidentally you better not, like, throw my shoes after me on my way out.”

“You’re not gonna do it accidentally,” Eddie says. “You’re gonna do just what I tell you.”

Richie shifts his weight, feels Eddie’s dick slide against him. “Sure,” he says. “You want lube on that, or are you just gonna leak on me and I get what I get?”

Eddie sets his jaw and rolls his eyes. “Shut up.” He looks around for the lube and his hand reaches out automatically, fighting Richie’s grip. Richie leans his weight on Eddie’s wrist a little harder and Eddie’s eyes close.

“Hey.” Richie slides up him a little closer, leaning on Eddie’s wrists, taking some of the pressure off his trapped thigh. He kisses the corner of Eddie’s mouth. Eddie’s eyes open, focus on him, nearly crossing. “Do you like this?”

“Yes,” Eddie sighs.

“You want to fight me a little?”

One of Eddie’s hands shifts, fingers reaching down to cover the side of Richie’s hand. “Yeah, I like it.”

“God—” Richie almost groans I love you. “Tell me to let you up, I will.”

“I know,” Eddie moans, loud, frustrated. “Make me come.”

“Like this?” Richie asks, rocking his hips a little.

Eddie’s teeth reappear on his bottom lip. “Yeah,” he sighs. “Harder.”

Richie can’t go harder without skinning both their dicks, so he lets go of Eddie’s wrists to reach for the lube. Eddie shifts under him. Richie sits up, his ass resting on the tops of Eddie’s thighs. “You’ll thank me later,” he says, and pops the cap and draws a squelching shiny line across Eddie’s pelvis.

Eddie hisses. When Richie draws a line up from his balls to his dick, trying not to think about applying condiments, he makes an incoherent noise and then pants. “It’s fucking cold, Richie!”

“These are the fortunes of war,” Richie says in a narrow, faintly British voice.

Eddie left a sticky spot helpfully on his belly to mark the level where he needs to apply lube. It is cold, Eddie wasn’t kidding. The angle of getting lube to stay on the underside of his dick seems precarious without spilling all over Eddie, so he holds his breath and pours it directly down over the head of his dick. It’s freezing. For a moment he wonders if he’s about to go soft, but then Eddie idly pushes his hands into his own hair and stretches, like he’s waiting for Richie to get on with it. He leans forward and pushes his dick into the groove of Eddie’s hip, and Eddie’s thighs tense under him.

He rocks his hips back and forth a few times, aware he’s being mean. “Good enough?”

“It’ll do,” Eddie says in a determinedly airy voice.

Richie laughs. “If you get too dry, tell me.” He throws the bottle down on the mattress beside them. “And I’ll whisper dirty things in your ear until you drip.”

Eddie moves fast, sitting up with an impossibly strong tensing of his abdominal muscles. Richie flinches back to stop their skulls clacking together, but Eddie grabs his hair before he realizes what his game is. “What was that?” he asks sweetly, threading his fingers behind Richie’s ear and tightening.

But having Eddie close means that Richie can shove him down again—carefully, hands holding him gently so he doesn’t hit his head. “Cheater,” Richie says. “You didn’t even wait for the starting pistol.”

“I’ve waited plenty,” Eddie says.

Richie wants to make him tug, just a little. “You wanted the shower, you wanted to see if I was running a temperature, you wanted to make sure all my sexual safety needs were being met. I’m easy, you’re just getting in your own way.”

Eddie just laughs. “Hey, are you gonna make this worth my time any time soon?”

Richie puts his hands on Eddie’s shoulders and pushes him down, leaning forward so he has the leverage to thrust properly. Eddie’s mouth pops open on a gasp, and Richie grins. Then he feels the burn of Eddie yanking on his hair, moans, and thrusts forward again. Eddie’s hand drops to his shoulder and tries to use him to pull himself up, to thrust back against Richie’s weight. Richie widens his knees further apart and really fucks against him, feeling Eddie lifting his hips and tensing, his legs mostly free.

There’s a pop somewhere under him. Richie slows and looks at Eddie in horror. “Was that your back?”

Eddie has a hand in his own hair now, pulling it back from his forehead, spine twisted so his shoulders sit at a funny angle.  His eyes are shut. “’S fine,” he says. “Felt good. Richie.” This last is urgent, a command.

Richie keeps rocking against Eddie’s slick skin, feels the answering slide. Sometimes their dicks slide clumsily together. He could reach down and put a hand between them and pull them off that way, but Eddie wants to be held down, Eddie wants them close, Eddie wants Richie on him simulating sex. He takes hold of the hand on his shoulder instead, pulls it away gently, which makes Eddie ball it into a fist and moan. He kisses the knuckles.


“Yeah,” Eddie pants. “Fuck.” His hips keep pushing up, muscles in his thighs and ass tensing.

Richie holds Eddie’s free hand down next to his head. He likes Eddie’s other arched arm, likes him pulling his own hair and squirming. He feels like maybe he shouldn’t be doing this, like maybe he’s going too hard, like he needs to stop and be considerate and make Eddie come before he can justify being so fucking greedy. It feels good, chest to chest like this, Richie chasing down their pleasure, his head almost foggy with it.

Eddie’s hand reaches up and slaps the headboard, holds there, outstretched. His mouth twists, his nostrils flare, and Richie feels the dip of the mattress as he sinks his heel in and braces himself. Eddie’s harsh breathing turns faster, coming loud through his nose. “Fuck,” he gasps, shoving up so hard against Richie that Richie grits his teeth. “Yeah, like that, that’s…” He twists again, head tilting back, mouth opening. “Ah.”


“Shut up,” Eddie breathes, hot and gasping. He smells like he tastes; he’s slick with sweat and clean water under Richie. Muscles in his stomach flutter and clench as he starts to build. He wasn’t kidding about not being able to wait. Richie puts his mouth to his throat so he can feel the vibrations in his lips as Eddie cries out, ratcheting up in volume and pitch with every breath. “Ah, ah, ah, ah—!”

He trembles, mouth open, breath held, and then comes between their pressed bellies. Richie slows, rocks his hips to the rhythm of Eddie’s pulsing, the spill of heat against their skin. Eddie hauls in a gasp and Richie looks at his face and finds he’s broken skin biting his lip.

“You shoulda just screamed,” Richie says, releasing Eddie’s wrist to blot at the little hurt with his thumb.

Eddie drops his jaw and sucks the digit into his mouth, and Richie feels himself go tight. He pushes the pad of thumb against Eddie’s tongue, feeling the inside of his mouth slick and hot, and the pressure behind his balls, instead of easing, tightens down further, and Richie realizes with a wobbling sort of panic that Eddie’s about to make him come. Eddie’s eyes flash. Richie doesn’t know what his face is doing, but Eddie knows too—Eddie knows that Richie’s gonna fucking go off pressed up tight against him, pushing down harder through the slick of Eddie’s come, thumb in his mouth.

“Come on, sweetheart,” Eddie says, voice tired and kind, slurring around Richie’s thumb pushed onto his tongue but perfectly, excruciatingly understandable. “Show me.”

Richie has to hide against Eddie’s chest and screw up his face against it. For several airless moments there’s just pressure, unbearable pressure of his own weight on his cock, so hot he can’t draw breath. It’s too much. He can’t—he can’t

“Richie,” Eddie all but purrs.

Richie comes all over him. He’s completely out of control, his hips stuttering frantically, and Eddie tenses his stomach there to give him resistance to push against, to make it feel better. A stupid low noise comes out of his throat. He gasps, tasting salt sweat, tasting Eddie. He pants, waiting for his heart to slow and it doesn’t.

His breathing is loud in the dim room. They never bothered to turn the lights on and the sun’s going down.

Eddie pushes fingers through his hair and tries to gentle him, but Richie feels woozy and rubber-limbed. He slides sideways off Eddie, crashing hip-first into the mattress and beaching himself there. He rests his temple on Eddie’s shoulder.

“Hey,” Eddie says softly. “You okay?”

He hears himself blink, it’s so heavy. For several moments he thinks he might just pass out, his heart will just rocket right up past acceptable levels of blood pressure and he’ll black out on Eddie’s shoulder, but he doesn’t. He still feels hot—soft, yeah, he can feel himself softening sloppy up against Eddie’s hip, but still hot, like he wants to go again. Like if he could get it up, he could go again, if all his joints hadn’t gone to jelly.

“What the fuck,” he moans.

“Are you okay?” Eddie asks again.

The soft cool inside of his forearm swipes over Richie’s face, his hairline, wiping him clean. Richie feels a little pulse of that heat at the intimate touch and is startled that it has a direction, that he can be stoked back up, that what they just did, fucking up against each other until they blew, might not be enough. It felt like enough, in the moment. But there might be more. He might need more.

“I don’t think I can move,” Richie admits.

Eddie laughs. “Yeah, I was surprised you didn’t throw your back out there. Jesus Christ.” There’s a soft sound and Richie slots his eyes open to see Eddie plucking at the sheet under them. “Are you having a heart attack?”

“No,” Richie says. Nothing hurts, nothing feels tight. It’s just all hot and loose. He laughs, incredulous. “Really, I don’t think I can move. I think I gave you literally all I had. Tanks are empty.”

“Tanks are all over me,” Eddie says sourly. “Hang on.”

He slides out from under Richie, movements so careful and ginger and quick that Richie imagines him grimacing and trying to hold come in his navel without spilling. Then he’s up and moving toward the bathroom. “Since apparently you don’t know how to clean yourself up.”

“Cleaned you up,” Richie says.

“Just the FACTs, babe,” Eddie mimics. Richie hears the sink running, hears splashing. His breathing is slowing, his panting quieting. If only he weren’t so fucking hot.

The next thing he knows, he shivers awake when Eddie slides a wet cold washcloth over his stomach. His movements are smooth and confident, even as he wraps the rag around Richie’s dick and wipes him clean. If possible, Richie melts even further into the bed

“You’re gonna get out of talking about this by falling asleep, aren’t you?” Eddie asks tartly.

His voice cuts through the already-encroaching fog in Richie’s head and pulls him back to startled awareness, so that’s gonna be a yes.

“You wanna talk?” Richie mumbles.

Eddie pushes his arms up and wipes all the way up into his pits, which helps to cool him down. He feels almost self-conscious as Eddie manipulates him like a doll. His stomach tightens under Eddie’s touch, reflexively trying to suck in his gut.

“Have I unlocked the secret of getting Richie Tozier to be quiet?” Eddie asks, voice dramatic and teasing.

Richie grins a little, eyes shut. “Yeah, you and like six other dudes. I wouldn’t call it a secret.”

There’s a wet slap in the far corner of the room and Eddie climbs over him up onto the bed. “Let me get under the sheet, come on.”

He allows Eddie to pull him in whatever direction he wants. He has the structural integrity of limp noodles. Eddie might as well cuddle with one of those tubey blow-up guys that wave on top of car dealerships.

Apparently happy with the position he’s arranged Richie into, Eddie gives a warm little sigh. Richie tightens his arm around him and pushes his face into his throat, under his ear. He kisses him there, gently.

“That was really good,” Eddie says. “Like, really good.” He shivers a little under him and Richie nuzzles in tighter.

“Yeah,” he murmurs in Eddie’s ear. He doesn’t know for sure what Eddie’s looking for, whether this is a one-time thing or if he wants more, but Richie is pretty sure if he lives through this the least suggestion would be enough to get him sliding into Eddie’s bed again. It was good. It was a lot of buttons hit very fast with apparently unerring precision. The stupid romantic in Richie speculates, like we were made for each other.

Eddie swallows. “Is it always like that?” he asks.

Richie tries to blink himself awake. “No,” he says. His ribs are snug against Eddie’s through the sheet. “No, that’s the first time that happened for me.” And it’s the first time he’s thought maybe he wanted more.

Eddie is quiet for a moment and Richie slips back under, only to startle awake again when he asks, “But do you think it could be like that again? I mean, if—if the presence of one, uh, unlikely thing in the world—it indicates others. It can happen again, right?”

“Yes,” Richie says emphatically. “Yes, I will do literally whatever I have to to make it like that again.”

“Oh.” Another pause and then Eddie clarifies, “With me, right? You—you’d want to do this again?”

“Yes,” Richie says again. “’S my job now. I live in your bed.”

“Oh.” Then, quietly, pleased: “Good.”

“Good,” Richie repeats, and presses up against Eddie again, and listens to his steady breathing.

He comes awake when his racing heart catapults him into awareness, he doesn’t know how long later. He’s burning up, the sheet between him and Eddie is damp with sweat, and even the light warmth of his sleeping body is just unbearable on Richie’s skin.

He staggers up and off the bed with his heart in his throat, terrified that he’s about to be sick in front of Eddie, sleeping or no. It’s dark now. The room is navy blue behind the closed blinds. Eddie’s breathing is deafening—never rising to a snore, but so deep and loud he sounds like a wind tunnel.

Richie’s not unfamiliar with sudden migraines, so he stumbles to the bathroom. No nausea wells up in him, just dizzy weakness. He can’t walk in a straight line. He holds himself up and pushes his course straight with his hands on the wall.

He submerges his head in the sink and drinks from the tap. The water goes like ice down his throat. He drinks slowly, afraid to make himself sick but also hoping to lower the burn at his core. The cold never makes it all the way to the pit of his stomach, getting swallowed up in the too much that is Richie Tozier.

He thinks more water and shuts off the faucet, turning toward the freestanding porcelain tub. The shower curtain still hangs ragged over it. There are pools of water drying on the floor. Richie can still smell Eddie’s shampoo in the air.

Climbing in isn’t as easy as he thought it would be—he braces his hands and then sort of rolls himself in. It’s faintly wet from their shower earlier, the tub evaporating dry, but there’s no real standing water to push himself into. He fumbles over his head for the switch that will plug the drain but can’t find it—and that’s probably better, because with his luck he’ll fall asleep while he’s still kitten-weak and drown himself. Instead he reaches up for the knob that will turn the water on.

His arm is so heavy.

He lets it fall to his side and lies there, the side of his face to the cold porcelain. This is helping. He’ll give it a minute, and then he’ll try again.

At some point he jerks awake again to a foreign smell, a foul smell, something he dimly recognizes as chewing tobacco and tooth decay and a harsh voice snarling at him. Something dangerous, something that’s a threat to Eddie.


He tries to roll over, tries to call out, but his body is so much heavier than he remembers. Where his skin isn’t cold pressed against the tub, he itches.

Bev was right about the dog bite, he thinks clearly to himself, and then he slips under again.

Eddie wakes up in bed alone.

He… hoped it wouldn’t happen, but he knew it was possible. Richie was so warm and heavy in bed beside him that Eddie hoped he’d sleep like a rock and Eddie would wake up first, satisfied at having tired Richie out. But it’s cold, with just the sheet pulled up over him. And it’s not the size of the bed that feels wrong, but how loose he feels in it without another body to press up against. Richie as a sort of backstop. Eddie didn’t think he was the kind of person who hates to sleep alone, but he’s learned a lot about himself in the last twenty-four hours.

And he’s cold. He wouldn’t have gone to bed naked if Richie weren’t there. Going to the suitcase and putting on his pajamas just felt stupid, when Richie was so languidly bare up against the sheets. Eddie fell asleep with Richie half on top of him like a blanket.

How did Richie crawl out of bed without waking him?

Eddie gets up and finds that—yes, Richie’s t-shirt is still there in front of the door, and his shoes are still right where he left them. Eddie blinks twice—it’s dark—and figures that maybe Richie didn’t leave at all.

“Rich?” he asks.

There’s no response.

Did Richie leave naked? Or is he lurking in the bathroom with the lights off, either expecting privacy or waiting to scare him? Eddie feels his breathing quicken. Richie wouldn’t do that, would he? Even he couldn’t think that would be funny, not after what Bowers did.

Eddie’s thirsty anyway. His mouth and throat are dry.

He feels significantly less comfortable alone in this hotel room, but he creeps over to the bathroom and opens the medicine cabinet for one of the plastic drinking glasses. The sky has gone pale yellow with dawn through the bathroom window. There is no sign of Richie in the room.

Where the fuck did he go?

Eddie pours himself a glass and drinks it in several gulps. Then he sets the cup on the sink. Richie’s underwear and jeans are still crumpled on the floor. 

Did Richie climb out the window? Naked?

He walks over to the window and checks the casing, but it’s still locked from the inside. He tests it, pressing up against the closed panel and feeling the resistance. Huh. He stares out into the parking lot, the rising sun shining a patch of light onto his face.

Maybe Richie went up to his own room and means to come back? And he just didn’t put any clothes on before he left? Or maybe he borrowed something out of Eddie’s suitcases?

Eddie wraps his arms around himself. He’s cold. He wants Richie. And he’s trying to look for an answer that isn’t “Richie vanished into thin air” because he can’t handle that, all the horrible things that happened to them are supposed to be over.

There’s a sound from behind him. A soft, gurgling, grating kind of sound.

He stiffens, thinking of drains. He takes a deep breath, trying to find the courage with which they killed It, but he doesn’t have it, he’s just alone and naked and vulnerable in a room he’s already been hurt in, and he turns slowly to look at the bathtub.

Under the shadow of the ragged shower curtain, there’s a darkness that seems to cling thicker to this part of the room than any other. Eddie blinks, wondering if he’s sun-blinded, but no afterimage flashes against his closed eyelids.

Instead, something stares back at him from the bathtub. It has two round blue eyes, the whites showing all the way around. Not lazy and drifting away, but focused right on him. And its mouth is open, showing a strip of bright red gum and, set in them, an unbroken row of long, sharp, white teeth.

Having eliminated the possible, Eddie stands motionlessly and stares at the thing.

Then he asks: “Richie?”