On some level, Eddie always knew. But he started to really figure it out when they were sixteen and all the losers had piled into Richie’s house for a sleepover while his parents were away, just as they did most weekends. Eddie, along with Bill and Mike, had decided to forgo saying up too late with everyone else, and retired to their pillows and blankets in Richie’s room to sleep; Eddie was easily the most enthusiastic about this decision, if only because he had been cramming for a chem test all week and was really looking forward to a full night’s sleep. Despite this, once they had settled down and turned off the lights, Eddie was wide awake all over again.
He tossed and turned for what felt like hours before he started to hear Richie’s voice travel more clearly down the hall, the increase in volume always meant he had become intoxicated in some form or another. Eddie flung his blankets off himself, the two others too deep in sleep to notice his movements, and stomped out of the room, intending to ask Richie to kindly shut his fucking mouth so he could get some sleep.
He stepped into the smoky living room and took in the scene, Richie sprawled alone on a couch while the others sat around and listened to the story he was telling, a joint between his fingers as he waved his hand around dramatically. He stopped midsentence to take a hit, looked up, and smiled at Eddie, “Come listen, Eddie Spaghetti! I was just starting.”
“Don’t call me that.” Eddie replied in a grumble, but somehow, the anger in him melted away, all he could feel was the sleep heaviness of his bones so he dragged his feet over and collapsed on top of Richie. He pushed his nose into the soft skin under his jaw, soft prickles itching his face and smoke mixed with a distant smell of plain white soap filling his nose. Richie placed his joint free hand on the middle of Eddie’s back, just resting there as a heavy solid pressure, and started his story from the top. They weren’t, like, together, but this had always been a bit of a thing for them, the closeness.
Eddie was asleep in seconds.
Waking up the next morning tucked securely between the couch and Richie’s lanky body met Eddie with a horrifying realization: Richie Tozier was his fucking soulmate. Like, romance and love and being together forever soulmate.
“What the fuck?” He half whispered to himself, wanting both to run to the other side of the country and also never ever leave this spot and moment, he forgot that years of less-than-good parents left Richie a light sleeper.
“Good morning to you too.” Richie’s smoke hoarse voice made a shiver run down his spine – it always did, at sixteen years old he knew his heart, but this time he knew why. And dear god did it send panic through every ounce of his being. Richie noticed and finally blinked his eyes open, “What’s wrong? First time getting morning wood? I know I’m hot but a cold shower should help you out.” He was teasing already and Eddie couldn’t get off the couch unless Richie moved first so he settled on a scowl.
“Shut up Trashmouth. It’s not that.” It’s just that me being in love with you is more dangerous than I thought. “I uh, I forgot about some homework I have to get done, let me up.” Eddie wiggled around, pushing Richie enough for him to sway but not fall. Richie groaned, head heavy from smoking the night before, and wrapped his arms tightly around Eddie to make him stop moving. As much as he wanted to resist, Eddie couldn’t help but melt a little when his senses were filled with Richie.
“Stay today, you can do it tomorrow.” It was a very Richie thing to say, but it was not a very Eddie thing to do. Regardless, the shorter of the two let out a long melodramatic sigh and settled for lying around even just a bit longer. He was still tired anyway, and Richie was always so warm that it was impossible to feel uncomfortable with the way his lanky body dug boney knees and elbows into Eddie’s skin. “Go back to sleep Eds, the other’s won’t be up for a while.” Richie sounded half asleep himself, and he smelled so good that Eddie decided to just listen to him; he still had more test-week rest to catch up on anyway.
The thing with soulmates was that not everyone had what was often referred to as ‘soulmate insomnia’. Meaning not everyone knew when they found their soulmate; it wasn’t even guaranteed that one of the halves would have it, because of this; soulmates weren’t taken very seriously, those who suffered from the longing sleeplessness usually relied on pills before the love of their life.
After everything that happened in the summer of ’89, Eddie Kaspbrak was not a boy who liked the idea of medication, and adamantly avoided anything except for his inhaler. This included sleeping pills for nights he was without Richie, which turned out to be an unfortunate number more than nights they were together. It became less than uncommon for Eddie to show up to school with heavy bags under his eyes, dragging his feet from class to class.
The other losers started to worry, Richie even more so than anyone else because the only times Eddie didn’t seem completely dead were the mornings after Richie had snuck into his window and spent the night to avoid his parents. Every time Eddie would roll into his space and take a long breath that sounded like his first one in days, then fall asleep in moments. Richie would stay up for a bit and watch him – as best he could with Eddie’s face squished into his shirt, shoulder, or neck – a nagging at the back of his mind begging him to understand the moment.
When Eddie asked to ditch school he finally got it.
Richie was smoking with Bev before school started when Eddie found him. He usually avoided them while they were smoking because it irritated his lungs, but today he needed some of the energy only Richie could give him, so we walked right up to the pair without a word and wrapped his arms around Richie’s middle. Richie didn’t say anything, he just let Eddie cuddle up when he wanted, but the way he sagged against him and let out a sigh that sounded too close to a sob for Richie to not flash a nervous look at Bev who was looking back at him just as anxiously.
“Can we skip class today?” It was crystal clear that he was talking to only Richie, and Bev’s eyebrows shot up with realization before a sly smile took over her face; she ground her butt out with the toe of her boot and left them without a word, only giving Richie a look he couldn’t quite read and calling out Ben’s name with a giddiness that didn’t match the severity of the situation – Eddie looked like he was gonna breakdown, or die, or both.
“Sure thing Eds, what were you thinking?” Richie extinguished the half smoked cigarette in his hand against the bricks of the school and pushed it into his back pocket, let his arm rest easy around Eddie’s shoulders while the other boy hummed out a non-reply, too tired to even reject the nickname, “I drove my truck today, you wanna nap?” It was basically rhetorical, there didn’t seem to be much more Eddie was capable of.
The pulled apart for the short walk across the parking lot, Eddie was still mostly functional so he managed just fine, but still slumped against Richie as soon as they were in the car and Richie was lifting his arm for Eddie to curl under while he drove, “Why are you so tired?”
“Been having trouble sleeping I guess.” Eddie explained around a yawn, he wanted this conversation to be over as soon as possible, he was gonna be asleep before Richie even found somewhere to park.
“Well yeah, but why? You seem to sleep fine whenever I stay the night.”
“That’s the problem.”
Richie’s parents weren’t soulmates; even if both of them didn’t suffer through soulmate insomnia that left them irritable and negligent, anyone could see that they weren’t destined to grow old and happy together. It left Richie a bit cynical when it came to the idea of ‘one true love’, he didn’t stay awake at night and he didn’t feel at home with any girl he’d ever met, the only person he ever felt close to was his best friend.
And now his best friend wasn’t sleeping unless Richie was wrapped around him.
Richie pulled onto an off road, the main roads of Derry were sparsely populated during the day, and side roads were empty. He pulled over and shut of the engine. When he turned his head to ask Eddie if he wanted to recline the seat he was already asleep.
Richie sat for four hours and tried to process the idea, it helped to have Eddie breathing against his skin, if for no reason than that it made goosebumps. He loved that stupid angry ball of asthma so much.
And that stupid angry ball of asthma was his soulmate.
Eddie stirred a little after noon, probably hungry, but didn’t move to get his food at first, instead let his whole body tense in a stretch and then sag when he shifted closer to Richie. “Thank you.” He mumbled into the bomber jacket that seemed to have a permanent place on Richie’s body, “I made you a sandwich, in my backpack with my lunch.”
“Of course you did.” Richie couldn't bite back his smile, especially not when a sleep-hazy Eddie was looking at him, confused by the statement, “You gotta take care of your soulmate right?” Because who would Richie Tozier be if not the asshole who just goes for it right? And who would Eddie Kaspbrak be if not the nervous boy who panics – he sat bolt upright and away from Richie, stuttering out a million apologies for ‘using’ him so he could sleep. Richie grabbed his face to shut him up and smiled, “You didn’t use me Eds, you’ve been sleeping for, like, ten fucking hours a week for months. I surprised you haven’t died.”
“But- but, that’s so sick right, that’s so fucked up that I’ve been in love with you, and like keeping that from you.” He was near frantic; you would think Richie had accused him instead of saying it while literally holding Eddie in his arms.
“Woah! Calm down, we’re soulmates. That’s a two way street remember?” Eddie paused at that, like he hadn’t even considered the idea, but, obviously feelings will be reciprocated when their souls match. “Yeah, so uh, do you wanna keep freaking out till I have to find your inhaler or can I get that sandwich?” He gave a small smirk, one that grew wider when Eddie’s lips twitched at the corners.
Eddie nodded and started digging through his backpack where it sat at his feet, finally pulled out two sandwiches secured safely in aluminum foil, “I know turkey’s your favourite but we only had ham, is that okay?”
“Ham’s great.” Eddie kicked off his shoes and pulled his legs so he was cross-legged on the truck’s bench style seat, passed Richie his sandwich and opened his own. “This is good, thanks babe.” Richie sent him a wink – normally he’d thank him, the ‘babe’ was new – and Eddie choked on the mouthful of sandwich he was currently chewing.
“You might be my soulmate but you’re still an asshole.”
“Don’t be mad Eds I love you!”
“Don’t call me that! And – and don’t say that!”
Richie laughed, obnoxious with food in his mouth and pinched Eddie’s cheek, “C’mon, I’m just trying to make your mom jealous.”
“Beep beep Richie.”
One thing Eddie forgot would change when Richie found out they were soulmates, was that he would no longer have to sleep alone. That night he when he finished brushing his teeth and slipped into his room, he let out a god awful shriek at the dark figure in his window, quickly slapped a hand over his mouth and scowled when he realized it was Richie, “What the fuck are you doing here?” He spat after pulling the window open.
“Relax, I was at the library with Ben – don’t look at me like that I know how to read – we were doing research on soulmates. I didn’t think you’d object to me showing up here from now on, so you can sleep.” He pulled Eddie in a little, and received minimal resistance because, well, that was really sweet.
“What did you read? I didn’t think there was much to it, I can’t sleep without you is all.” He shrugged and went to pull away so he could crawl into bed, looked at Richie in confusion when he tightened his grip; there was a funny look on his face like he was bracing himself, “What?”
“Nothing. I like your shorts.” He nodded down to the red shorts Eddie was wearing – he’d had them since he was thirteen, Richie used to tease him so bad for them that they got retired to his pajama drawer and being as fucking tiny as he was he never seemed to grow out of them.
“You won’t let me lay down because you like my shorts?” Eddie hiked up his eyebrows waited for Richie to reply, the taller boy just flushed and cleared his throat, Eddie opened his mouth to push him but was cut off by Richie pressing their lips together.
It was. Good. Kissing your soulmate was apparently like a video game power up because Eddie felt like he hadn’t missed a night’s sleep in life. He let his hands curl into the rain damp material of Richie’s bomber jacket and melted into it, settling to kiss Richie as long as the other would let him, forget sleep – he needed this.
When they finally pulled apart it was only to catch their breath, Eddie didn’t release his grip on Richie’s coat nor did Richie move his hands where they held tight to Eddie’s face, “Holy shit Eds. You’re better at this than your mom.” Eddie’s whole face contorted into his most evil glare.
“I can’t believe you just kissed me, your fucking soulmate, for the first time ever, and made a joke about my mom before you even caught your fucking breath.” He gave Richie’s chest a hard smack for good measure, ignoring how he was met with nothing but laughter, “Come to bed I’m fucking tired.”
Once curled up the two boys settled into a comfortable silence, it wasn’t something you could often maintain with Richie Tozier, but Eddie had always been special, soulmates or not. They curled into each other like it was second nature, Richie on his back and Eddie sprawled across him with his face buried in the crook of Richie’s shoulder, he took a deep breath and relaxed, already feeling himself drift. He was pulled from his sleep by Richie’s voice, softer than maybe anyone had heard it before, “Hey Eds? I love you.”
Eddie couldn’t help the way his face split into a grin and pressed his blushing cheeks into the boney ridges of Richie’s collar and shoulder bones, pressed a kiss to the sharp angles for good measure, “Rich?” He waited for Richie to hum and rub his back before continuing, “Don’t call me Eds.”
(He loved him too.)