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Eddie’s knuckles hurt from how hard he’s gripping his steering wheel.

“Eddie my love,” Richie sings from the passenger seat, in that voice that makes Eddie want to murder him sometimes. “Remind me again why you’re going to your high school reunion when the very words make you look like you’re ready to kill a man?”

“Because,” Eddie says through gritted teeth. This is not the first or the tenth time they’ve talked about this. “It’s in New York, and it gives us an excuse to visit Ben and Bev.”

“Uh huh,” Richie says. “Because we totally need an excuse other than two years ago we defeated a killer clown together and now we’re kinda codependent.”

“It gave us an extra excuse to visit Ben and Bev,” says Eddie stiffly. They’d just come from there—Eddie’s old high school, where he’d transferred after moving out of Derry with his mom in tenth grade, is in Port Chester, about an hour’s drive away from Ben and Bev’s place in Suffolk County.

“Mhmm,” Richie says. Eddie hates his stupid, placating, knowing voice. “And why did you insist that I come, exactly?”

“Because it’s going to be fucking boring,” Eddie says.

“Then why are you going, Spaghetti Man?”

“Because I was invited,” Eddie snaps. His GPS chirps at him to get off the I-95 and he jerks his wheel to the right a little sharply.

“Alright,” Richie says, “the thing is just that when you got the Facebook notification about it, you scowled for like three days and said, and I quote, as if I’m willingly going to see those fuckers again. And yet here we are. In New York.”

“Yeah, well.” Eddie glares at the sign that tells him Port Chester is just a few short miles ahead of them. “I changed my mind.”

“And you brought me along,” Richie says. “Because—?”

“To keep me from murdering anyone,” Eddie says. “Now shut up, I’m trying to drive.”

“You are a puzzle, Eddie Kaspbrak,” Richie says, shaking his head, but his voice is so warm and fond that it makes Eddie’s throat squeeze a little. It’s very much the same feeling that he felt an hour ago when he saw Richie come out of his room at Ben and Bev’s wearing these nice jeans that make his legs look three miles long and this classy-ass blazer that show off his broad shoulders and this fucking stupid t-shirt that says “sugar daddy” on it in neon pink lettering. Eddie absolutely hates him so much and at the same time loves him so much that it’s absurd, it’s disgusting, it’s disturbing. He’s disturbed. Clearly. He didn’t even make Richie change the shirt.

And yet Eddie has the audacity to wonder if Richie knows that he’s in love with him. He’s the most obvious bastard in the fucking world. It’s a wonder Richie hasn’t kicked him out yet.

But he agreed to come to the reunion as Eddie’s (purely platonic, of course) plus-one, and he’s here, in Eddie’s rental car with him, and he’s only being a little bit insufferable, so Eddie can do nothing but be eternally grateful. Seriously.

“Oh, shit,” Richie says, laughing a little as they turn off of highways, onto the streets of Port Chester proper. “This place is as small as Derry, fuck.”

“Yeah,” Eddie says, mouth twisting. “As similar as two small-ass towns could be with one hiding a fucking demon clown and the other just hiding a truly shocking number of fucking obnoxious kids.”

“And were you one of those obnoxious kids or no?” Richie says, grinning.

Eddie grimaces to hide a smile. “God, I hated this place.”

“No demon clown, though,” Richie offers.

Eddie snorts. “Yeah, and no friends.”

“Ah,” Richie says, voice more subdued. “Yeah, Derry definitely had that going for it.”

Eddie huffs, and then focuses on not getting into a wreck before getting to the school. Not that he’s likely to get in an accident on roads this empty, dark and quiet on a Sunday evening. No, if Eddie got into a car wreck today, it would be entirely intentional. He’s considered it several times already.

Maybe this was a mistake.


Port Chester High School looks terrifyingly similar to how it did twenty-five years ago, when Eddie left that building after graduation and never fucking looked back.

“Yuck,” Richie says nonsensically, getting out of the car to stand next to him in the parking lot. “Hey, Eds, what do these bozos know about you? Like, is this a Straight-Eddie-Only Zone? Is this a Straight-Richie-Only Zone? It might be hard, but I can do it, maybe. I’m an excellent actor.”

Eddie snorts. “No, you don’t have to do that. I mean, definitely not about yourself, and I don’t give a fuck if they know I’m gay. If anyone has me as a friend on Facebook they’ll probably have seen Myra’s extremely passive-aggressive comments about me anyway.”

“Oh, joy.” Richie rolls his eyes. “Again, Eddie, why are you here?”

Eddie shrugs stiff shoulders. “I don’t know, Richie, why does anyone go to their high school reunions?”

“Uh, because they had good memories there and want to see the people they were friends with as kids?” Richie suggests.

Eddie makes a face. “Gross, do people actually have those experiences?”

“I have good memories of high school,” Richie says. “I had Bill and Stan and Ben and Mike right up until grad. We had good times. If I’d remembered you guys and wasn’t in touch with you anymore, I might have gone to the Derry High School Reunion just to see you all again.”

Eddie makes a dismissive noise. “Well, why do normal people go to high school reunions?”

“Are you trying to pretend you’re a normal person?” Richie asks, disbelieving.

“To prove something,” Eddie says, ignoring him. “To prove that you fucking...survived, no fucking thanks to anyone there. To prove that you, you made something of yourself.”

Richie is quiet for a second, and then he makes a vague noise and says, “Is that what you want? To prove that you became someone?”

“I just, I don’t want them to—” Eddie sighs, rubs a hand through his hair. “I don’t want them to say hey, where’s Eddie Kaspbrak? And still picture that— the person I was at seventeen. Or the person they saw at seventeen.”

“Okay,” Richie says. “So you want to show them that you got hot. I get it.”

Eddie barks out a laugh. “Yeah. Sure. Something like that.”

“Well, no sweat, then,” Richie says, moving to stand in front of Eddie, pat his hair down, straighten the collar of his shirt under his sweater. “You’re cute as a button, Eddie-bear. They’ll all swoon in your wake.”

Eddie rolls his eyes, and hopes it’s too dark for Richie to see his stubborn blush. God, he loves him so fucking much. “Yeah, okay, shut the fuck up. Let’s just go in.”

“Okay. Hey.” They start making their way towards the front doors, towards the light and chatter coming from within. “Does anyone from Port Chester, New York know who I am? Is Richie Tozier a household name out here?”

“I seriously doubt it,” Eddie scoffs.

They step inside. The woman at the table out front looks up and says, “Oh my god, I don’t remember Richie Tozier going to school with us.”

Richie beams. Eddie groans. “Hi, Nancy. It’s Eddie. Kaspbrak. Richie’s my...friend.”

“Oh.” Nancy blinks up at him, like she’s seeing him for the first time. And also like she has no idea who he is. “Eddie...Eddie…”

Eddie sighs. “We were lab partners. Eleventh grade. For an entire term.”

“Oh,” Nancy says, pasting a huge smile onto her face. “Of course. Eddie! It’s so nice to see you again! What a surprise!”

Eddie forces a tight smile. “Thanks. The party’s through here?”

“Yeah, here, take a name tag— Oh, Richie, can I get a picture, pretty please? My husband would absolutely die to hear I met you. Here, of all places!”

Richie grins and obliges. Eddie sighs deeply, and takes the picture for them. Nancy barely even looks at him.

Which is fine, honestly. He never really liked her, but he never hated her either. They barely spoke, despite being lab partners for five months. Eddie did his work, Nancy did hers. She barely acknowledged his existence. And that’s how Eddie liked it, back then. Until he didn’t.

They go in. The gym is dimly lit, with some 90s-style neon lights and brightly-colour balloons and streamers. People are standing around sipping from red cups, laughing and chatting and ignoring Eddie completely. Which is...pretty much par for the course. He’s not sure why he ever expected anything else.

“So?” Richie says, bumping his hip against Eddie’s. “Who are we gonna go look hot in front of first?”

Eddie groans. “This was a fucking stupid idea, Rich, why did you let me do this? We can just go—”

“What, and pass up the free alcohol? Not a chance, buddy.”

Eddie makes vague noises of protest as Richie drags him towards the drinks table. “You don’t even drink, moron.”

“No, but you do. Let’s get you waaaasteeeeeed.” Richie picks up a red cup and ladles it full of startlingly red punch.

“Excuse me,” says the man behind the table, “are you Richie Tozier?”

Richie looks up and grins again. “The one and only. I’m here with Eddie.” He jerks his thumb at Eddie beside him. Eddie pretends to be very concerned about the welfare of his cup.

“What, really?” The man—Eddie only kind of recognizes him, thinks his name is Brad or maybe Bobby but his nametag is mostly obscured by his jacket—squints at Eddie thoughtfully. “No way. Didn’t know anyone from Port Chester had connections.”

“That’s because he’s not from here,” Richie says easily, picking up a can of soda from the table for himself. “We’re from Maine, originally. Childhood friends.”

“Huh,” Brad-or-maybe-Bobby says. “Go figure.”

“I only barely let go of him to let you guys have him,” Richie says, slinging his free arm around Eddie’s shoulders.

“Ooookay,” Eddie says. “Let’s to someone. Over there.” He starts walking away, and Richie’s arm drops back to his side.

“Can I get a picture?” Brad-or-maybe-Bobby says behind him.

“Sorry, no can do,” Richie says. “Maybe later!”

“This is fucking stupid,” Eddie groans, as Richie sidles up beside him. “Why did I bring you to this? No one ever fucking looked at me when I was in high school and didn’t have a famous best friend.”

“That’s because they were blind and stupid,” Richie says, voice too soft. “I looked at you.”

Eddie snorts, chest tight and warm. “You didn’t even know me in high school.”

“You forgot me,” Richie says, bumping into him. “I didn’t forget you. Not for a couple years after that.”

Eddie’s throat goes tight and achy. “Maybe I got uglier and more obnoxious.”

“Nah,” Richie says. “I don’t believe you. These people were just assholes. They didn’t know how lucky they were. I spent three years wanting you. Back. Wanting you back.”

Eddie sighs, sniffs. Clenches his hands against the desire to reach out and touch him. “Well, what the fuck. Why are you making me emotional, I’m here to look hot.”

Richie grins, ruffles his hair obnoxiously. “You’re doing a fine job of it. Come on, let’s go find someone to look hot in front of. Lucky for you, you’ll be standing next to someone totally not hot, so you’ll have no competition.”

“Very funny,” Eddie says, rolling his eyes with a smile. “Stop fucking up my hair.”

“I’m not joking!” Richie says. “Look at you. Look at that tight bod.” He whistles softly. “Were there any gay boys here in the 90s? Let’s go find them.”


They make a circuit around the gymnasium. Three people recognize Eddie and make supremely awkward smalltalk until Eddie can escape—mostly people he was vaguely acquainted with because none of them had anyone else to pair up with in classes for partner work, but never actually got to know beyond the barest basics. About fifteen people recognize Richie from a distance and approach him to ask for photos or autographs and demand to know what he’s doing at this reunion. Richie smiles at them all and showcases Eddie like he’s Vanna fucking White.

“You stole him away from me,” Richie keeps saying, touching Eddie’s waist and arm and back. It’s terrible and thrilling. “I pined for him for the rest of high school.”

Everyone chuckles politely and forgets to even look at Eddie. As they always did. What a fucking joke.

“This is so fucking dumb,” he groans, as another fan leaves semi-satisfied. “No one even cares how I’m doing because a) they never cared about me at all and b) I’m being fucking overshadowed by my plus-one.”

“Sorry, Eddie Spaghetti,” Richie says, scratching the back of his head ruefully. “I didn’t expect people to, like...know me. Am I popular among forty-somethings?”

Apparently,” Eddie says, maybe a little snappishly.

“I can go?” Richie says, voice too soft, eyes too kind. “Like, if I’m harshing your vibes, or—”

“No, Rich, of course not.” Eddie sighs through his nose. “That’s not it. I just. I don’t know why I expected anything else. It was stupid. I’m glad you’re here. It’d be worse on my own.”

“We can get out of here,” Richie says. They’ve barely been here half an hour. “If you want.”

Eddie sways towards him, on instinct. Can’t help it, the way he’s pulled towards Richie, constantly, like it’s magnetic. Especially when he looks at Eddie like this, eyes big and honest, like he sees him. Eddie spent most of his life just wanting to be seen, and Richie sees him. Richie says he saw him, even as kids. God, it fucking kills Eddie. He wants him so bad sometimes.

But before Eddie can even respond, a voice calls, “Eddie? Is that you?”

Eddie blinks, snapping out of it, and frowns as he turns around. His stomach drops a little. “Oh,” he says. “Uh. Andy.”

Andy Walker sidles up to him with a huge grin and a loping stride. He looks...pretty fucking different than Eddie remembers. Still tall and broad, built like a linebacker, but he has a bit of a gut now, and tattoos across his knuckles, and he’s balding. Eddie thanks the lord for small mercies. “Well, if it isn’t little Eddie Closet Kaspbrak. You haven’t grown an inch, huh?”

Eddie fights a smile onto his face. “A few,” he says blandly. Andy was always about six inches bigger than Eddie in every direction. That hasn’t really changed. “How’s it going, Andy.”

Andy laughs, loud and obnoxious, as if Eddie made a joke. Andy was never a bully, exactly. He was just...kind of a dick. The kind of dick that acted like he was friends with anyone, just to give himself more opportunities to rib people relentlessly. The kind of dick that found your weaknesses and exploited them, but never in a way that was explicitly cruel—just in a way that made other people laugh at your expense. Light teasing, never enough to really complain about, but so relentless that it was unbearable. The kind of person you just knew was saying worse things behind your back, not because he hated you, but just because he loved to laugh at people.

“I’m good, I’m great,” Andy says. “Working in the city now. Construction.”

Eddie nods, waits for the question to be returned, and is disappointed. “I’m in LA now,” he says anyway, because it’s true, because he can. “Risk analysis.”

“Oh yeah?” Andy laughs. “You made that up.”

Eddie wants to strangle him, a little bit. “No, it’s definitely real, because I do it for forty hours a week.”

Andy makes a disgusted noise. “Couldn’t be me,” he says. “Suits you I guess, though. Paranoia, eh? Never left.”

“It’s a good job,” Eddie says dryly. “Pays well.”

“Mmm, I’m sure. LA, huh? Couldn’t handle the cold?” Andy snickers.

Eddie’s about ready to punch him out. Always was, honestly. “Couldn’t get far enough away from here.”

Andy’s smile wavers a little. “And who’s this?” he says, looking past Eddie at Richie. “You don’t look familiar.”

“I’m an extra,” Richie says, stepping up next to Eddie with an easy grin. “Just here for the ride.”

Andy hums. “You know Eddie?”

“Yeah, I know him,” Richie says with a laugh.

“He was a real tiny guy in high school,” Andy says, laughing too. “You shoulda seen him. A tiny little squirt. Big voice.”

“Yeah, I know,” Richie says, voice too fond. Eddie wishes they had left five minutes ago.

“Always worried about something,” Andy says. “Always complaining about the cafeteria. Asking the lunch lady questions.” He laughs again.

“He’s like that,” Richie agrees. “Still.”

Eddie’s going to fucking kill Richie, too. It has to be done.

Andy barks with laughter. “You know, we used to call him Closet Kaspbrak. Remember that, Eddie?”

“Yeah,” Eddie grinds out. “Not in the closet anymore, though, thanks.”

Andy looks exaggeratedly shocked. “Oh, what? We were right? Ha!” Andy turns around. “Hey, Franky! Danny! You’ll never guess, Eddie Kaspbrak was a closet case! We totally called it!”

“Wow, thanks Andy,” Eddie says, dread building in his stomach. “I’m so glad you just...fucking yelled that out to the whole crowd.”

Andy laughs and waves his hand. “Aw, Eddie, everyone knew!”

“Hey, dude, not fucking cool,” Richie says, frowning.

“Alright, alright, sorry,” Andy says with a grin, sounding as fucking insincere as possible. “What, are you like, his boyfriend then?”

Eddie opens his mouth to shut that down quickly, but before he can, Richie says, “Yeah, I fucking am, actually.”

Eddie freezes, breath caught in his throat.

Andy’s eyebrows shoot up his forehead. “What, really?”

“Yeah.” Richie’s arms cross over his chest. “I know, it’s shocking that someone like me could bag this hot piece of ass, but I’m kind of starting to see why his standards in men were so low.”

Andy blinks a few times, and then turns and says, “Franky, Eddie Kaspbrak has a boyfriend.”

Someone finally sidles up to them—Frank Stone, Andy’s high school right hand man. Less of a dick, more of a loudmouth. “Holy shit,” he says, looking at them. “Eddie’s dating Richie Tozier?”

“Shit,” Eddie mutters, face hot.

“Hell fucking yeah he is,” Richie says, chin pushed out defiantly. Eddie’s just glad his arms are covering his stupid fucking shirt.

“No way,” Frank says, openly impressed.

Eddie...does not know how to feel about this. On the one hand, what the hell is Richie doing? But on the other hand, people are looking at him. And for the first time in Eddie’s life, it’s not in a bad way. But it’s also not even fucking true. Also, god, he fucking wishes.

“How’d you manage that, Ed?” Frank presses.

“More like how did I manage that,” Richie says, before Eddie can get a word in edgewise. “Have you seen this man? Hot as fuck. Smart as a whip. Any dumbass with depression can tell a fucking joke or lug around bricks and shit. This guy’s making bank on brains alone. I don’t understand a single fucking thing about his job, and he does that shit for fun.”

Eddie blushes furiously. He knows Richie’s just saying this for his sake, but he sounds sincere and fired up and it’s making Eddie feel some type of way.

Frank nods and smiles, looking at Eddie appreciatively, but Andy snorts. “What, did you hire this guy to talk you up, Eddie?”

“Fuck off, I do that shit for free,” Richie says.

“Rich,” Eddie mutters, face warm. He ducks his head as a few other people around the room look at them.

“I knew Eddie before any of you did, and you all missed the fuck out, because he was cool as hell when we were kids. He was fucking wasted on this dumbass school,” Richie says, now clearly really getting into it.

“I don’t buy it,” Andy says with a laugh. “Eddie, you knew you were a dweeb, right? There’s no argument there.”

Eddie rolls his eyes. “Come on, Rich, just leave it.”

“Aw, Eddie, I’m not saying it’s a bad thing,” Andy says, full of good humour. Always full of good fucking humour. “I’m just saying—”

“I’m just hearing that you were kind of an asshole,” Richie cuts in to say. “And maybe still are.”

“He doesn’t mean anything by it,” Frank says, smiling, trying to ease the tension. “Richie, you said you and Eddie knew each other as kids?”

“Yeah, and I fucking loved him back then, too,” Richie says, laying it on a bit thick. “Coolest fucking kid I knew. Pined after his ass for years.”

“Ooookay, Rich,” Eddie says, wondering if maybe there’s alcohol in the soda, somehow. This is truly too much for him to handle. Just the idea of it, god—

“See? Not even Eddie believes him,” Andy says with a bark of laughter.

Richie’s eyes go sharp. “What, you think I’m lying?”

Andy grins, as if this is all a big joke that he’s in on. “I think word would have gotten around if someone I grew up with was dating some kind of celebrity.”

“No you fucking wouldn’t, because Eddie hasn’t thought about your obnoxious ass in twenty-five years,” Richie says. “You weren’t exactly on the email list.”

Rich,” Eddie hisses.

Andy still seems to think this is some kind of game they’re all playing. “Nah,” he says easily. “I just don’t buy it. Come on, Eddie, you can tell me if it’s a joke. I’ll laugh.”

He would, too. Andy Walker, always ready to laugh at someone.

“Why would he lie about having a fucking boyfriend?” Richie scoffs.

Andy smiles and shrugs. “You tell me,” he says. “Prove it.”

Shit, Eddie thinks. This is going to be so humiliating. It’s not like they have any…fucking couple photos, or I love you texts, or anything like that, because they’re not fucking dating. And he knows that’s what Andy’s expecting, if not a Facebook profile announcing they’re together, or an article about their relationship. They have nothing, because there is nothing, and Andy’s going to know it’s all a fucking stupid lie, and it’s going to be so embarrassing—

“God, have you matured at all since you left this place?” Richie asks Andy incredulously, and then turns to Eddie with a look in his eyes that is at once terrifying and captivating. All at once, Eddie thinks he knows what it means. He’s petrified that he’s wrong. At the same time, he is petrified that he’s right. Richie is leaning in closer to him, and Eddie’s brain responds by shutting down and making a high-pitched noise inside his skull like a computer with two thousand viruses.

“What,” he says, or something like it.

“Shut up,” Richie says. “Now or never.” And then he closes his mouth, and looks Eddie straight in the eye, and lifts his hands to Eddie’s neck, and just. Fucking kisses him. Square on the fucking mouth.

It is unequivocally the absolute dumbest, most ridiculous, most idiotic and insane thing that has ever happened to Eddie. It’s fucking incredible.

The sheer level of what-the-fuckery of it all is so astounding that Eddie can’t even process it, for a second. He’s only dimly aware of a few vague sensations—Richie’s hands on either side of his neck, his warm palms, his thumbs on Eddie’s jaw. The smell of his cologne. The distant chatter of people he could not give less of a fuck about. And his mouth. That same fucking mouth that’s been making Eddie’s life hell for years. Always saying dumb shit. Antagonizing him. Making Eddie want to kiss the hell out of him. And now he is. Eddie is kissing him. Richie is kissing Eddie?

Eddie’s mouth was already kind of open to begin with. He’d been about to say something, probably along the lines of what the actual fuck. But now Richie’s mouth is opening against it, just a little, his lips rubbing over Eddie’s. It’s intoxicating. He can feel the soft warmth of Richie’s breath, and the curve of his lip, and Richie’s nose pressing into his cheek, and the roughness of his chin, and god, fuck, it’s amazing. Eddie has thought about this a lot but was obviously lacking some very important information, most specifically Richie’s mouth, and how it would feel on Eddie’s mouth. His hands are fisted in the sides of Richie’s blazer. Everything else has faded away. All Eddie knows is the precise texture of Richie’s lips, and the way he moves them, and the tiny sound he makes when Eddie nudges his face up into it.

On the very outskirts of his brain, Eddie feels like he should be doing something. Putting a stop to this, or, or asking what’s happening right now. But he can’t. He really can’t. How can he be expected to do literally anything at all when Richie Tozier, Love of Eddie’s Miserable Life, is kissing him?

So he just stands there, and pushes aside the shock and confusion in order to better appreciate the way Richie’s mouth moves against his own, the way Richie’s thumbs rub into his cheeks, the way blood rushes in Eddie’s ears and sensation curls in his gut and his knees and his groin. God, it feels good. He can barely breathe around it.

He has no idea how long it lasts. In times of great stress or mental duress, Eddie’s brain has the tendency to sort of blur or black out, and he thinks this counts. He is a being of pure sensation, and absolutely no higher thought. Time does not exist in this world where Richie Tozier is kissing him. The only thing that matters is more more more and also god, so fucking good. Eddie wants to worship the ground this kiss walks on. He wants to investigate the newly discovered nerve that clearly runs directly from his mouth to his dick. He wants to die standing here revelling in the sensation of Richie catching his lower lip between his own.

The worst thing about the kiss is that eventually it has to end. And when it does—when Richie finally breaks the kiss with the kind of soft suction that makes Eddie lightheaded and puts a few inches of space between them—Eddie is breathing hard, and literally no one is even standing near them anymore, and Richie looks like Eddie just brained him with a two-by-four. As if any of this is Eddie’s fault.

“Uh,” Eddie says.

Richie clears his throat. His hands drop from Eddie’s jaw. His face is very red. “I, uh,” he says, still too close to Eddie’s face, breath warm on Eddie’s face. “Do you. Think they bought it?”

“Richie,” Eddie says, voice wrecked. “What the fuck?”

Richie’s throat bobs, and he takes a quick step back. Eddie feels very cold in his wake. “Um. Shit.”

Reality starts to catch up with Eddie—veritably slaps him across the face. He goes from dazed and kiss-drunk to completely baffled to pissed the fuck off in a matter of seconds. “Richie,” he hisses. “What. The fuck.”

“We should, um. Not do this. Here.” Richie looks around quickly, panicked.

“What the fuck were you thinking?” Eddie asks, slashing one hand through the air. His heart is hammering in his chest, and his mind is playing the kiss on loop, tauntingly. He feels like he’s still being drawn towards Richie magnetically, like his mouth still isn’t done kissing. Fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck.

“Bathroom,” Richie says. “I’m going to the bathroom. Right now.”

“Like fuck you are,” Eddie says, but Richie turns around and starts walking away very quickly, and Eddie follows him, because he’s trying to ream him out here. Also, the mouth magnet.

The men’s bathroom is, blessedly, nearly empty when Eddie storms in after Richie. The one other man in there sees them, blinks in surprise, and then quickly washes his hands and leaves. Probably because he can tell that Eddie is about to blow a fuse. Richie freezes in the middle of the floor as the door swings closed behind him, turns around haltingly.

“Eds!” he says, too loudly, looking at a section of the wall not even close to Eddie’s face. “Listen. Okay. I know that was very, very dumb.”

“Yeah, no shit,” Eddie says, instead of saying, yeah, but also kind of incredible and let’s do it again holy shit I want to do it again.

“I know, I know, it was fucking stupid, I just.” Richie curls his hands in his hair agitatedly, tugs a little. “That Andy guy was pissing me off, okay?”

“Yeah, I know, he pissed me off for three full years, and you wanna know what I never did? Kiss some random dude.”

Hey, you aren’t, you’re not some random dude, Eddie, don’t make it sound like I just jumped some guy passing by—”

“Yeah, but you know what else I’m not, Richie? Your boyfriend.”

Richie jerks back like Eddie slapped him. “I. I know. Eds, I know.”

Eddie swallows thickly, searches Richie’s face maybe a little desperately. Looks for something, anything, disappointment or hope or. Or something. But Eddie’s always been shit at knowing what Richie’s thinking. And he can’t trust himself to not just see what he wants to see. What he really, really wishes he could see. “Then why did you say I am?”

“Because they were pissing me off!” Richie says, waving his hands around dramatically. “I wanted them to know how dumb they were for underestimating you!”

Which is sweet, honestly, except— “So you decided the best way to fix that was to lie?”

“I don’t know! It just happened!”

“And then you just happened to kiss me?”

Richie's face flushes pink in the terrible fluorescent lighting. His mouth looks very red and very inviting. Eddie can’t stop looking at it. “That guy was being a dick,” Richie says defensively.

“The solution is not kissing me without any warning,” Eddie tells him forcefully. God, though, he wishes it was.

“Look, okay, I’m really sorry. That was a dick move. I didn’t mean to, you know, steal your kiss virginity or whatever.” He visibly stalls, and then says, “Actually, I did, but like. That’s because I wasn’t thinking rationally. I honestly was not thinking at all but I’m sorry, I should have asked, or like. Not done it. At all.”

Eddie really doesn’t know whether he should agree or disagree, because quite honestly it was the most incredible experience of Eddie’s very depressing life, but also he now has to live with the knowledge of how that fake kiss felt. Which was: fucking great. “Kind of concerned that your first reaction when your brain is offline is better kiss this unsuspecting man.”

Richie opens his mouth, closes it, and then blurts, “You kissed me back.”

Eddie...does not have anything to say to that. It’s true, he did, because he’s not stupid, he wasn’t just going to pass up that golden opportunity. But how is he supposed to explain that? To this idiot, who just, just kisses people randomly, as a farce? “I wasn’t going to fucking blow my cover!” he says, maybe a few seconds too late. It’s not his fault—he’s still thinking about kissing Richie. God, it was so good.

“Fine!” Richie says, hands in the air. “Fine, okay, I shouldn’t have done it, I’m sorry. I’ll never do it again, your ire has been noted, I am filled with regret, zero out of ten.”

Eddie narrows his eyes and takes a step closer to him. “Oh, so now it was a terrible experience, huh? Insult to injury and all that.”

“Oh, come on, Eds, shut the fuck up.” Richie rolls his eyes and doesn’t back down.

“That’s not denial.” Eddie’s heart sinks a little, stupidly. It’s not his fault he has low fucking standards. Maybe it was a shitty kiss, and he just thinks it was incredible, because Eddie’s in love with him. This whole thing has been a huge fucking mess and now Eddie’s going to have to go home and think about it for the rest of his life, like a pathetic loser. “Dick. It wasn’t my idea.”

Richie’s throat bobs again. Eddie’s very close to him now, looking up into his face. His mouth is still very red. “Come on,” he says again, more weakly this time. “We should go, they’re gonna think we’re—”

“What, making out?” Eddie says, going hot at the thought of it. “How terrible, wouldn’t want them to think we kiss sometimes— Oh wait.”

“It was only supposed to be for a second!” Richie protests.

Eddie tries not to get distracted by the way his mouth moves. He knows what it feels like, now. “Then why didn’t you pull away?”

“Why didn’t you pull away?”

Because I liked it, Eddie wants to scream, practically standing chest-to-chest with Richie now. Because it was fucking good and I liked it, so how dare it have been fake, you cruel motherfucker.

And then the door to the bathroom swings open, and Eddie thinks, oh shit. And then, in that singular moment of panic, the only thought in his brain is, we’re supposed to be making out in here. Or maybe it’s something more like, I can never show my face to anyone out there ever again, which then bleeds into, god I wish we were making out in here.

Either way, the result is the same. Eddie makes no conscious decision. All he knows is that a split second later, he’s backing Richie up against the sinks and crushing their mouths together forcefully.

It is, quite possibly, one of the dumbest ideas Eddie’s ever had, but in his defense it wasn’t really an idea at all. It just...happened, sort of, and oh, now Eddie understands what Richie meant when he said that. Except that Eddie has the excuse that he was and is always thinking about kissing Richie so of course his subconscious went there, whereas—

And then Richie makes this broken sort of sound against Eddie’s mouth, and Eddie stops thinking about that, and starts thinking about oh god we’re kissing again, thank fuck.

And the thing is, Richie is definitely kissing Eddie back. Eddie’s not sure if Richie even realized someone was coming in, but regardless, he’s got one hand fisted messily in the fabric of Eddie’s sweater, and the other is kind of slipping up his back under the rucked-up hem, clutching at his waist, and he is responding with enthusiasm. His mouth is working against Eddie’s and he’s breathing hard and a little frantic, and he’s kissing Eddie so deeply he feels it in his toes.

Not that Eddie can really feel his toes, or any other part of his body apart from his mouth and the places where Richie is touching him and especially his crotch, which in the mad rush of things ended up pressed very firmly up against Richie’s thigh, angled as it is from where he’s half-sitting on the sinks. Eddie did not orchestrate this in any way, but fuck, it feels wickedly good, and he clutches at Richie desperately, leans into it.

“Fuck,” Richie mutters, but he doesn’t pull away, and Eddie doesn’t have time to think about why—has to commit his entire brain to kissing the absolute living hell out of Richie and also memorizing the sensation of Richie kissing him. He has no idea how long he has until Richie comes to his senses and realizes the guy already left. Time is short, and Eddie is greedy.

He sucks on Richie’s lip. He’s not sure why—it just seems like the thing to do. Richie groans softly, and Eddie makes a pathetic sound in response, sinks one hand into Richie’s wild hair, lets the other press flat against his broad chest. The hum of the bathroom fan provides a steady backtrack to the slick, breathless sounds of the most fantastic moments of Eddie’s life. Richie’s fingertips dig into Eddie’s waist, and Eddie scrapes his teeth over the swell of Richie’s lower lip, and then kisses it softly, and then less softly. Richie makes a quiet noise and presses into it, seeks out Eddie’s mouth with his own, holds onto him as tightly as Eddie is. Eddie is definitely getting hard, and Richie is definitely going to be able to tell, but right now, Eddie couldn’t give less of a fuck.

His legs are shaking. Eddie thinks maybe he’s going to pass out or that his knees are going to give, and he leans more firmly into Richie, which sends shivers of pleasure up his spine. Richie is solid and broad and steady, so big he could cover all of Eddie if he wanted to. His hands are so warm on Eddie’s skin, and his mouth is so hot and slick and devastating. Eddie wants to rub off against him. But not now. Right now he is kissing him, and he is kissing him good.

The downside of being so wholly focussed on every sensation he’s feeling and could be feeling is that Eddie doesn’t fucking breathe, and ends up having to break away with a wet sound and a gasp. He fully means to dive back in the second he’s able to, but before he can, Richie says, “Holy fucking shit.”

Eddie stops breathing for another reason. Reality slams into him, cold and hard. He shifts his hips away from Richie’s thigh. “Uh—”

“Eddie,” Richie says, eyes blown wide, mouth shiny and swollen. “Uh?”

Eddie’s not sure if Richie is mocking him or if he, too, is feeling what Eddie is feeling, which is complete, all-consuming, terrified bewilderment. Is he drunk? Is he high? Was the punch laced with, with drugs or something? Because he has reached an all new level of out-of-control idiocy, and he has nothing to blame for it other than Richie Tozier’s stupid fucking mouth.

“So,” Eddie says, voice a little choked. “There was someone coming in.”

“Uh huh,” Richie says, sounding dazed. “So you...kissed me.”

Eddie swallows thickly. He lets go of Richie’s jacket. “Well.”

“Eddie,” Richie says, more slowly this time. “What—what is going on here?”

Eddie is not ready for this conversation. He will never be ready for this conversation. He starts reconsidering his decision to just wait until Richie kicks him out of his house and instead making the first move by buying a new house somewhere very far away from him. “You started it,” he croaks.

“Yeah,” Richie says, eyes roving over Eddie’s face, noticeably getting stuck on his mouth for a second before moving back up to his eyes, searching. “That’s because I’m a dumbass who wanted to pretend to be your boyfriend for one night.”

Something gets stuck in Eddie’s throat, and he thinks it might be his heart. “Wha— Why?”

Richie’s eyebrows jerk up his forehead, amused, but his eyes are kind of terrified. “Guess.”

Eddie tries to swallow past his thudding heartbeat. He cannot guess, because his mind is chaotic and disastrous. Half of it is still stuck on the kiss, and the other half is a hurricane of confusion. “Richie,” he says insistently, “why?”

Richie’s shoulders twitch in a shrug, and his eyes dart away. “Eds, you have to know.”

“Know what? Richie, can you just, can you just fucking tell me something? For once?”

Richie laughs shakily, eyes still fixed on something over Eddie’s shoulder. “It’s really not that easy, Spaghetti Man, I’ve been. Keeping this secret for a thousand fucking years.”

Eddie’s pulse flutters wildly. “What secret?”

“Come on, Eds, I’m— I’ve been in love with you forever.”

On some level, Eddie thinks he was expecting that. He knew, somewhere deep in his mind, that that was the only thing Richie could possibly be about to say. And yet somehow, actually hearing the words come as a complete shock to him. His lungs feel very tight. His head buzzes with white noise. Richie’s voice, the way he said those words, the way his lips formed around them, rattle around his skull. He is, Eddie assumes, gaping.

Richie gulps audibly. He lets go of Eddie’s waist. “Okay,” he says, voice small. “I can see that you did not know. If you could, um, move, I’d like to. Escape now.”

“What the fuck,” Eddie breathes.

“This is all actually very embarrassing for me,” Richie says, gently attempting to extricate himself out from between Eddie and the sinks. “I need to go process, and then jump off a bridge.”

Eddie doesn’t move—he still has one of Richie’s legs sort of trapped in between his. “Shut up,” he says. “Stop—moving. And talking.”

“Never once in my life have I ever done that,” Richie says.

“You kissed me,” Eddie says, looking straight at him. He has just now realized that there’s a huge mirror behind Richie, and it gives him Ideas he is not ready to have yet.

Richie blinks. “Yeah, okay, that was like. Six humiliating steps ago.”

“You were in love with me?” Eddie says. His voice has gone kind of shrill.

Richie’s face is red. “Way, way before that, actually. Like, way.”

“And you never told me?”

Richie barks out a sharp laugh, now looking very far away from Eddie. “Why the fuck would I have done that? Eddie, can you please move? I’d really like to remove myself without grinding all up against you.”

Eddie crowds in closer to him instead. “You fucking idiot,” he says. “We could have been making out for years.”

Now it’s Richie’s turn to gape, at Eddie. “We could have what?”

Eddie thinks he might have accidentally skipped a step or three. “Rich, I am not subtle!” he insists. “I am not inconspicuous! I have been staring at your mouth for two years straight, and I also divorced my wife to move in with you!”

Richie stares at him, the perfect picture of stunned shock, and says, “Don’t you fucking tell me to say something in words and then try to get away with being vague, you motherfucker.”

Eddie laughs a little, even though nothing feels very funny. “You fucking moron. I’m in love with you.”

They gawk at each other. Richie looks like he’s having a revelation. “Oh, holy shit,” he says, with feeling.

“Yeah,” Eddie breathes.

“Um, okay,” Richie says. “So.”

Eddie’s gaze flicks down to his mouth again. He can’t help it. “We should talk about this.”

“Uh huh,” Richie agrees.

“Really talk things out,” Eddie insists.


“I think I was in love with you as a kid,” Eddie says.

“I definitely was,” Richie says. “Deeply. I mentioned it earlier.”

Eddie remembers. Pined after his ass for years. His stomach buzzes. “I think that’s why I yelled at you so much. Also, hammock.”

Hammock,” Richie says, nodding vigorously.

“I used to jack off thinking about it,” Eddie blurts. “Okay, that’s enough talking, let’s go.”

Richie is looking at him like he’s some sort of miracle. “Let’s go.”


They scramble to leave the bathroom, pink-faced and flustered. A few people look at them, and then quickly look away. Eddie laughs a little, overwhelmed.

“Oh, Eddie!” Andy calls from the drinks table. “Where are you going?”

Eddie falters in his quest to drag Richie to the door and turns around. “You know what, Andy? Fuck you! I’m leaving! You were a huge dick when we were kids and you still are! Also fuck this town, and this whole school! I never liked any of you!” Richie laughs in his ear, an exhilarated sound. Eddie flips the entire gym the bird. “I’m hot and successful now, and I’ve got a hot boyfriend, so fuck off! Never contact me again!”

“Oh my god,” Richie says, as they hustle out the door. His hand is wrapped tightly in Eddie’s and he’s stumbling like he’s drunk. “Eddie, I fucking love you.”

Eddie grins so wide it hurts. “Fuck them.”

“Hell yeah,” Richie says. “Also, boyfriend?”

“It was your lie first,” Eddie says, face hot. He’s trying desperately to find his car in the parking lot.

“Right, right.” Richie tugs him gently in what is probably the direction of the car—Eddie can’t remember for the life of him. “But what if, and hear me out on this, we started dating, and also got married.”

Eddie laughs loudly to cover up the fact that he is actively losing his mind. “As if you could fucking stop me. Where is my fucking car?”

“It’s right—it’s right there, it’s behind that bigass SUV. Do we have a plan? Are we about to drive an hour back to Ben and Bev’s?”

“God, fuck, no, I’m just trying be not here,” Eddie says, and jerks open the door to climb in.

The second between Eddie closing the door behind himself and Richie moving around the car to open the door on the other side is terrible, dead quiet and too still and cold, like a bucket of water dumped over his head. But then Richie is climbing in, and Eddie fucked up and accidentally got in on the passenger’s side, and Richie is laughing and moving his seat back and saying, “God, Eddie, your legs are so fucking short,” and then he turns to look at Eddie and Eddie looks back at him and they just. They just look, for a second, breathless and frozen. Richie’s hair is all over the place and his mouth is soft and inviting and quirked up a little on one side, and Eddie thinks he’s so fucking attractive for no reason, and Eddie thinks he’s in love with this dumbass attractive man for a thousand reasons. And Richie’s eyes are shining behind his glasses like he’s thinking the same thing.

And then, all at once, they’re both lunging across the centre console, because fuck driving, Eddie’s going to make out with him right fucking here.

“Oh my god,” Richie says against his mouth, muffled, one hand curled tight in Eddie’s hair. “This is so much better.”

“Here?” Eddie says, pressing his nose too hard into Richie’s cheek.

Knowing,” Richie says, and that’s it, but Eddie gets it. Knowing that, that Richie loves him. Is in love with him. God, it really is so much better.

Because Richie is kissing him, and Eddie knows, he knows that it’s because he wants to, because Richie wants to be kissing him and has probably been wanting to kiss him for a really long time, and isn’t that just fucking incredible. And he knows that neither of them is going to pull away anytime soon and he knows that they’ll be able to do it again later, tomorrow, whenever they want, for however long they want.

But all of that is too much to think about right now, when Richie’s mouth is so hot and insistent against his, and this is their third kiss in maybe half an hour, but it is making Eddie’s brain melt out his ears as if it’s their first. Richie’s teeth drag over his lip, and then his tongue licks tentatively over the same spot, and Eddie moans, like it’s his first time ever making out.

“Fuck,” Richie breathes, and tries to haul Eddie in closer.

Ow.” Eddie’s knee slams painfully into the gearshift. “Richie—”

Eds,” Richie says with feeling, cupping his jaw with both hands, kissing him so deeply it makes Eddie’s head spin.

He forgets what he was going to say for a second, caught up in Richie’s mouth, in Richie’s big hands framing his face, in the fucking intimacy of it all. Eddie has kissed people before—obviously—but kissing was always just kind of a thing he was expected to do. It has never, never felt like this before, intense and electric and satiating. Eddie never knew he was just a cavernous well of want until now, as every little nip and lick and sigh fills him up a little more.

And then Richie coaxes his mouth open a little wider and presses in and slides his tongue across Eddie’s bottom lip, and Eddie’s knee jerks instinctively and hits the gearshift again, and Eddie says, “Fuck this.”

Richie makes a desperately disappointed noise deep in his throat as Eddie moves away, and Eddie laughs breathlessly, and then scrambles up over the centre console and into Richie’s seat, straddling his lap and sliding both hands into unruly hair to pull Richie back in for another kiss.

Oh,” Richie says, broad hands sliding down Eddie’s back to curve around his ass, making a shiver race up his spine.

Eddie grins, panting, knees balanced precariously on either side of Richie’s thick thighs, arching his back a little as one of Richie’s hands comes up to rest at his waist. He kisses Richie hard and kind of sloppy, is admittedly out of practice and was never much of a heavy makeouts kind of guy to begin with. This has clearly changed, because now it’s all he can think about, tilting his head to the right to fit their mouths together, working his lips against Richie’s, scraping his fingernails through the rough grain of Richie’s stubble at his jaw, a black hole of want, hungry and insatiable.

“God, Eddie,” Richie mutters against his mouth, pressing their foreheads together for a moment, breathing hard into the inch of space between them.

“Yeah,” Eddie agrees, and thumbs over Richie’s lip, reaches back with his other hand to find Richie’s hand and push it up under his shirts.

“Fuck,” Richie says, brows furrowing, and then he kisses Eddie again with new ferocity, one palm sliding up his back while the other curves around his ass. Eddie’s hips twitch automatically, but meet empty air—Richie groans anyway, thumb working just under the waistband of his jeans.

“Get this off,” Eddie says, pushing at Richie’s blazer. “Come on.”

“Nooo,” Richie moans, but eventually withdraws his hands to shake his jacket off his shoulders and down his arms until his hands are free again, and then immediately tugs Eddie’s sweater up over his head and starts tackling the buttons of the shirt underneath. “So many fucking layers—”

“Mmm,” Eddie says, pressing their mouths back together as he runs his hands over Richie’s broad shoulders, his chest, his biceps. He curls one hand around the back of Richie’s neck, braces the other against his shoulder, and licks determinedly into his mouth, scared that if he doesn’t do it now he never will.

Richie groans instantly, surging up into it, abandoning Eddie’s shirt in favour of wrapping both arms around Eddie’s shoulders to bring him in closer, hold him steady. Their tongues slide together, and it makes Eddie lose his fucking mind. The monster inside Eddie that he was beginning to think would only be satisfied by getting thoroughly dicked down is sated, for a moment. He falls into it, breathing fast and hard, pushing his hand down the back of Richie’s shirt. Richie dips his tongue into his mouth, and Eddie sucks on it quickly, and Richie makes a sound like Eddie killed him.

“Holy shit,” Richie says, pulling away with a gasp, going back to Eddie’s shirt buttons. “Just, Eddie, holy shit.”

“Am I doing it right?” Eddie asks, because he really doesn’t know.

“Are you kidding? You’re fucking killing me.” Richie finally gets enough buttons undone that he can push Eddie’s shirt down his shoulders. He’s still wearing a sleeveless undershirt underneath, but Richie doesn’t say anything about it, just pushes Eddie back a little bit so that he can lean in and kiss down Eddie’s throat to his collarbone, mouthing over the very top of his chest. Eddie jerks and moans, and Richie hums out his agreement, tongue laving over heated skin.

“I will not have sex in this rental,” Eddie says firmly, winding his fingers in Richie’s hair, pulling his head farther down.

Richie’s eyes flick up to him over the rims of his glasses as he ducks down and licks over Eddie’s nipple through his undershirt. It sends a bolt of fucking lightning through him. “I didn’t say we should,” Richie says, voice low and hoarse.

“I know,” Eddie says. “I’m trying to convince myself.”

Richie grins, less predatory than Eddie would have expected, more delighted. “We will not have sex in this rental,” he promises. “We will find somewhere much better.”

Eddie nods furiously and pulls Richie’s head back up again so that he can kiss him, because it’s been thirty seconds and he’s dying for it. He’s never going to be a functional human again.

“This was such a good idea,” Richie says, biting at Eddie’s mouth. “Holy fuck.”

“The—the reunion?”

No, the— Actually maybe yes, since obviously, it led to this, I’m a fucking genius.” Both of Richie’s hands are back up Eddie’s shirt, sliding over warm skin, smoothing over the dip of his waist over and over like he’s memorizing the precise curve of it.

“Obviously not, since it took us this long to get here.” Eddie kisses messily up his jaw, mouths at the skin under his ear.

“All I had to do was pretend to be your boyfriend one time,” Richie says with a gasp.

“All I had to do was be in fucking love with you.” Eddie bites at his throat gently, and hopes secretly that it might leave a mark.

Richie whines high in his throat, finds Eddie’s mouth again with his own. Kisses him deeply, and then says, “I’m in love with you.”

Eddie grins, kisses Richie’s responding smile. “Fuck yeah.”

Richie’s hands shove down the back of Eddie’s pants, as far as they can go. “Okay,” he says. “Let’s go. Call Bev, tell her we’re getting a hotel.”

“If only my mom still lived here,” Eddie says. “We could fuck in my old room.”

Richie laughs out loud against his mouth. “Tempting, Eddie my love.”

A thrill goes through Eddie at the familiar nickname. He has always guiltily liked it. Now he does for new reasons. He kisses the curve of Richie’s cheek and says, “Just so you know, I might freak out. There might be no sex.”

“That’s alright,” Richie says, easy as anything. “We’ll do it another time, and then a million more times after that.”

Eddie shivers at the thought of it. “Okay, let’s go,” he says, even though neither of them has moved. “I fucking hate this school.”

“I don’t know,” Richie says. “It kind of grew on me.”

Eddie laughs. Honestly, he’s made more good memories in that building tonight than he did in the entire three years he spent going to school there. So yeah. It kind of grew on him, too.