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Stranger Twins

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November 6, 1983

The Wheeler s Basement

 

“Something is coming. Something hungry for blood. A shadow grows on the wall behind you, swallowing you in darkness,” Mike announces, uselessly trying to deepen his voice to intimidate his friends. “It is almost here.”

 

“What is it?” Will asks, anxiety clear in his voice.

 

“What if it’s the Demogorgon? Oh, Jesus, we’re so screwed if it’s the Demogorgon,” Dustin whines.

 

“It’s not the Demogorgon!”

 

“An army of troglodytes charge into the chamber!” Mike exclaims, Lucas smirks triumphantly.

 

“Troglodytes?” Dustin laughs. “Mike, we aren’t twelve anymore.”

 

“Told ya!”

 

“Wait a minute,” Mike whispers for dramatic effect, interrupting his friends who are all laughing. “Did you hear that? That… that sound? Boom… boom… BOOM!”

 

Mike smacks his hand down on the table, making Dustin jump and squeak embarrassingly loud for a 15-year-old.

 

“That didn’t come from the troglodytes. No, that… that came from something else.”

 

The entire group had begun leaning in, nervous glances exchanging amongst themselves as they hunched over their rickety old Dungeons and Dragons table.

 

“The Demogorgon!”

 

“We’re in deep shit!” Dustin exclaims as the other two boys groan, Mike is practically vibrating with excitement. This was the first campaign they’d been able to organize in months between their school and work schedules.

 

“Will, your action?” Mike exclaims, thoroughly enjoying orchestrating the entire evening.

 

“I don’t know!”

 

“Fireball him! Fucking Fireball him!” Lucas begins chanting.

 

“I’d have to roll a 13 or higher,” Will argues logically.

 

“Too risky,” Dustin agrees. “Cast a protection spell!”

 

“Don’t be a pussy. Fireball him!”

 

“Cast Protection!”

 

“The Demogorgon is tired of your silly human bickering!” Mike interrupts. “It stomps toward you. Boom! Boom!”

 

Mike continues while Dustin and Lucas shout their suggestions at an overwhelmed Will.

 

“He roars in anger!”

 

The shouting and swearing has reached a crescendo and Will panics, deciding to roll the die and throw a fireball. The die goes flying from the table.

 

“Oh, shit!”

 

“Where’d it go?”

 

“I don’t know, dipshit!”

 

The boys are clamouring to find the die, knocking their game askew as their knees bang into the too short table in their haste.

 

“Is it a 13?” Dustin whines.

 

“I don’t fucking know, idiot! I haven’t found it!”

 

“Oh, my God! Oh, my God! Oh, my God!” Dustin is pacing in circles dramatically as his friends search the floor for the die.

 

“Mike!”

 

“Did you find it?”

 

“No, I said I can’t find it!” Will huffs, irritated with his friend’s demanding tone.

 

“Michael!”

 

“Mom, we’re in the middle of a campaign!” Mike whines up the stairs to his mother who stands in the doorway at the top of the stairs.

 

“You mean the end?” she sasses. “It’s fifteen after and you boys have already woken Holly twice.”

 

Mike grumbles, chasing his mom up the stairs as the boys continue arguing and searching the basement floor.

 

“But, mom!” He skids into the kitchen, sliding on his socked feet. “Just 20 more minutes!”

 

“No, it’s a school night, Michael.”

 

“We’re fifteen, not eight,” Mike whines childishly which makes Karen laugh as he towers over her. 

 

“You can finish next weekend,” Karen continues.

 

“But that’ll ruin the flow! Besides this is the only night all month that none of us has had homework or had to work!”

 

“Michael,” Karen sighs, her patience wearing thin.

 

“I’m serious, mom!” Mike continues. “This is the only night! And the campaign took two whole weeks to plan. How was I supposed to know it was gonna take ten hours?”

 

“You geeks have been down there for ten hours?” Richie laughs, shoving Mike out of the way as he heads towards the refrigerator. “No wonder it always smells like shit down there.”

 

“Language,” Karen warns her son, pursing her lips as Richie gives a fake sheepish smile. “Have you really been down there for ten hours?”

 

Mike purses his lips, looking startlingly like his mother.

 

“Dad!” Mike cries, heading towards the den where he knows his dad is reading the paper in his chair.

 

“Dad,” Mike repeats as he enters the room. “Don’t you think that twenty more-”

 

“I think you should listen to your mother,” Ted responds, neglecting to even look up from his paper.

 

Mike gives his dad an incredulous look before heading back to the kitchen to continue arguing with his mother.

 

“Mom, please-”

 

“No, that’s enough, Michael!” Karen shrills. “Call it a night! That goes for your friends too, Richie,” Karen adds, snatching the carton of milk that Richie is drinking from and putting it back in the fridge that he neglected to close.

 

“What the fuck!”

 

“Language!”

 

“This is bullshit!” Richie shouts.

 

“Richard, watch your mouth.”

 

Richie rolls his eyes at his dad’s half-hearted reprimand from the other side of the house.

 

“Mom, this is total bullshit,” Richie continues. “My friends and I are watching movies and being normal human beings. Why do they have to leave?”

 

“Because, Richard, in case you weren’t aware you and Michael are twins and therefore both fifteen. And coincidentally it is a school night for both of you. And even more coincidentally I happen to be the mother of both of you,” Karen explains patronizingly. “So, if Michael’s friends need to leave because it’s late, so do yours.”

 

“This is all your fault!” Richie huffs, glaring at his brother.

 

“My fault!” Mike shrieks. “How is it my fault!”

 

“Because you and your lame ass friends-”

 

“My friends are lame? You guys call yourselves the ‘Loser’s Club’, now that’s lame-”

 

“At least we aren’t nerds-”

 

“Just wait until I get into MIT and you’re still living in our bedroom, sleeping on a bunk for the next 20 years-”

 

“Fuck you, once I’m rich and famous you’ll wish you were a little nicer to your big brother-”

 

“We’re the same age!”

 

“I was born first-”

 

“By six minutes!”

 

“How do you deal with them, Mrs. Wheeler?” Beverly asks, trudging into the kitchen and standing next to Mrs. Wheeler who has continued cleaning the kitchen from cooking supper as if there weren’t two six-foot-tall identical teenagers shouting at each other in her kitchen.

 

“Fifteen years of practice, dear,” Karen smiles, smoothing Beverly’s hair back.

 

“Richie,” comes Eddie’s voice from the living room off of the kitchen where the Loser’s Club had been watching An American Werewolf in London. “Would you shut up!”

 

“Eds,” Richie whines, turning his attention from his brother to his boyfriend who has just entered the kitchen. “He’s so annoying though!”

 

Richie throws his arms around Eddie dramatically, hiding his face in Eddie’s neck making Karen laugh. Eddie is half a foot shorter than Richie, so the taller boy has to hunch over ridiculously.

 

“You’re annoying,” Eddie deadpans, although he’s carding his fingers through Richie’s curls sweetly. Karen laughs again.

 

“That’s so rude!” Richie gasps, pulling back from Eddie. “I can’t believe you’re taking his side!”

 

Eddie rolls his eyes at his boyfriend as Mike’s friends can be heard trampling up the basement stairs.

 

“Hey, is there still pizza in there?” Richie asks when he notices Dustin with the box from earlier in the day.

 

“No,” Dustin calls over his shoulder, running up the stairs to the second floor. Mike stares confusedly at the staircase his friend just disappeared up.

 

“All you ever think about is food, Rich,” Eddie sighs.

 

“I’m a growing boy, Eds. What do you expect?”

 

“Mike doesn’t try to eat a full meal every fifteen minutes like you do and he’s the same height,” Eddie quips with a smirk.

 

“How dare you?!” Richie gasps. “I am an inch taller!”

 

Mike and Eddie both roll their eyes at Richie as he continues on about how he’s way taller and therefore needs more nutrients than his ‘little’ brother.

 

Mike looks away from Richie when he notices Dustin is descending the stairs dejectedly, still holding the box of pizza.

 

“Ready to go guys?” Dustin asks, putting on a smile.

 

Lucas and Will nod in agreement and head towards the front door.

 

“Hey, Mrs. Wheeler where can I put this pizza box?” Dustin asks, wanting rid of the bulky box.

 

“Here, sweetie,” Karen gestures for the box. “I’ll get rid of it.”

 

“Thanks,” Dustin smiles toothlessly, pulling the last slice from the box and shoving it in his mouth before handing Karen the box.

 

“Hey! I thought you said there wasn’t any more pizza!” Richie shouts at Dustin’s back as the boy makes his way towards the door laughing.

 

“Calm down, Richie, you’re going to wake Holly,” Karen scolds. “Seriously though, sweetheart, it’s time for everyone to go home.”

 

Richie rolls his eyes, looking exactly like his brother did five minutes ago.

 

“Yo, losers! Get the fuck outta my house!”

 

“Richard!”

 

“What?” Richie asks, smiling at his mother sweetly.

 

The losers are through the doorway into the kitchen immediately, not wanting to upset Mrs. Wheeler who is the nicest out of all of the group’s parents.

 

“Goodnight, Mrs. Wheeler. Thank you for allowing us to come over,” Stanley comments before exiting with Bill, Ben, Beverly, and Mike.

 

“Not a problem, Stanley,” Karen smiles. “You’re welcome to come over anytime. In fact, if I could trade you for Richie, I would!”

 

“Hey!”

 

The losers are soon through the door, picking up their bikes from the pile on the Wheeler’s driveway.

 

“Hm, that’s odd,” Karen says, peering out the window to the group of teenagers hopping on bikes and joking around. “There seems to be one extra bike out front. Wonder who’s that could be?”

 

“Dunno mom, super weird,” Richie agrees as Eddie chuckles into Richie’s back quietly, enjoying Karen’s playful nature.

 

“That is super weird,” Karen nods, before turning around to look at Richie. “Well, guess that’s everyone gone for the night.”

 

“Yup, I guess so,” Richie continues.

 

“Richie,” Karen smiles.

 

“Mother?”

 

“It’s time for Eddie to go as well,” Karen smiles sadly.

 

“But,” Richie whines, pulling the smaller boy out from behind him and wrapping him in his long arms. “But, mom, please?! It’s cold outside and he needs a home! I promise I’ll walk him and feed him and play with him-”

 

“Richie!” Eddie laughs, smacking his boyfriend in the chest. “I’m not a stray dog!”

 

“Never, Eddie Spaghetti,” Richie agrees, kissing Eddie’s cheek before turning back to his mother. “But for real, please don’t make him leave, mom!”

 

“Richard,” Karen presses, although her resolve is wavering. She loves the polite young boy her son calls his boyfriends and she hates Sonia Kaspbrak. The woman is an abusive fool and Karen wants nothing more than to protect Eddie from her idiocy. “You know it’ll be world war three with your brother if I let Eddie sleepover but not one of Mike’s friends.”

 

“But, mom!” Richie whines again. “Spaghetti’s not just my friend! And who cares, Mike cries about everything.”

 

“You’re giving me more reason to say no, Richie,” Karen warns.

 

“Rich,” Eddie interrupts the two Wheelers. “It’s okay, I should really get home. My mom’s probably worried.”

 

Both of the Wheelers scowl at the mention of Sonia, making Eddie bite his lip nervously.

 

“Um,” Eddie begins, clearing his throat. “I’ll see you tomorrow at school.”

 

Eddie pulls on his shoes and jacket before giving Mrs. Wheeler a smile and kissing Richie on the cheek.

 

“Spaghetti,” Richie mumbles, shaking his head and pulling Eddie back to him to kiss him on the lips. Karen smiles fondly at the two boys.

 

“Oh, my God!” Mike exclaims as he comes back through the door. “Seriously, you may as well just get your lips surgically attached at this point!”

 

Eddie blushes violently, pulling away from Richie and excusing himself.

 

“You’re such an asshole!”

 

“How am I an asshole?! You’re so mean to me every day-”

 

“I am not! I’m trying to save you from a life of geekiness!”

 

Karen sighs, heading back to the kitchen as her teenage sons continue to argue in the front hallway.

 


 

 

“Boys! School!”

 

Richie groans, rolling over to bury his head under his pillow, shaking the frame of the bunkbed he shares with Mike.

 

“Michael! Richard!”

 

Mike pulls himself from his bed groggily and notices Richie is still under his mountain of blankets.

 

“Ha, sucker,” Mike laughs, running from the room and dashing into the unoccupied washroom at the end of the hall.

 

“Fuck!”

 

Mike cackles as he starts the shower, listening to Richie swear and argue with his mother in the hallway as he alternates between banging on the doors of the two bathrooms occupied each by Mike and Nancy.

 

“Mike, hurry the fuck up!”

 

“It’s been 30 seconds, Richie. Take a chill pill!” Mike laughs, stripping out of his pajamas and hopping in the shower, deciding to take his sweet time to annoy his brother as much as possible.

 

Although his shower was punctuated with loud thumps on the bathroom door every 20 seconds, Mike steps out of the bathroom with a towel around his waist and his hair dripping 15 minutes later with a wide smile.

 

“Fuck you,” Richie glares, shoving Mike out of the way before rushing into the bathroom to get ready for school.

 


 

 

Twenty minutes later Mike is sat at the kitchen table, happily munching on an Eggo with his sisters and parents.

 

“Michael,” Karen starts. “Where’s your brother?”

 

“Still getting ready?” Mike responds through a mouthful of waffle.

 

“You’re disgusting,” Nancy mutters, scrunching her nose in her brother’s direction. Mike smiles widely, bringing his face closer to Nancy’s and chewing obnoxiously. “Ew, mom!”

 

“Ted, control your son.”

 

“Michael, listen to your mother,” Ted adds, not looking up from his paper.

 

Mike looks over at his dad, giving him a disbelieving look before standing from the table and throwing his backpack over a shoulder.

 

“Bye, mom!”

 

“Michael, wait for your brother!”

 

“Mom, no-”

 

“Michael!”

 

Mike sighs before trudging towards the stairs.

 

“Richie! Hurry up, we’re going to be late!”

 

Mike huffs, knowing his brother will be another few minutes and sits on one of the bottom stairs waiting.

 

Mike startles as Richie vaults himself off one of the top steps, over his twin brother, and onto the landing by the front door.

 

“Richie!”

 

“Bye, mom!” Richie exclaims, rushing into the kitchen to grab a waffle from his dad’s hand. He kisses his mother’s cheek and ruffles Holly’s hair before running past Mike and out the door.

 

“Let’s go, Mike! We’re going to be late!”

 

Mike huffs angrily but follows his brother out the door.

 


 

 

“Eddie lives the other way!” Mike argues, irritated by the fact that Richie is making them bike in the opposite direction of school to pick Eddie up.

 

“His mom doesn’t like him to bike alone,” Richie reasons.

 

“He biked home alone last night!”

 

“No, Bill went with him. Either Bill or I always make sure to ride home with him,” Richie calls over his shoulder as he turns the corner to Eddie’s house. “Spaghetti!”

 

Eddie is stood at the bottom of his driveway with his backpack on and holding his bike by the handle bars.

 

“You’re late,” Eddie states, staring blankly at the twins.

 

“Good morning to you too, Eds,” Richie laughs, pulling up beside Eddie to lean down and place a kiss to his lips. Eddie pulls away with a smile, hopping on his bike.

 

“Morning, Mike!”

 

“Hey, Eddie,” Mike smiles politely, before pedalling in the direction of school, leading the way.

 


 

 

“Finally, come on guys! We’re gonna be late!” Dustin called. He was sat on his bike halfway between the Wheeler’s house and Hawkins High School with Lucas.

 

“Blame Richie!” Mike called as he zoomed past his friends with Richie and Eddie trailing behind him.

 

Dustin and Lucas shared an exasperated look before pedalling after their friend.  

 


 

 

The five boys pull up at the bike rack, locking up their respective bikes.

 

“That’s weird,” Mike comments, drawing the attention of the other four boys. “I don’t see him.”

 

The boys had been discussing Mrs. Byers’ call to all of the boys’ mothers this morning looking for Will.

 

“I’m telling you, his mom’s right. He probably just went to class early again.”

 

“Yeah, he’s always paranoid Gursky’s gonna give him another pop quiz.”

 

“Fuckin’ nerd,” Richie laughs, arm thrown over Eddie’s shoulder as the five boys walk towards the entrance to the school.

 

“Shut up, Richie,” Mike and Eddie say at the same time. Mike was fiercely protective of his oldest friend Will and Eddie was especially fond of Will who had always treated him with kindness.

 

“Step right up, ladies and gentlemen,” comes a cruel voice behind the group. “Step right up and get your tickets for the freak show.”

 

The boys all turn to face Henry Bowers and Troy Harrington, resident Hawkins bullies. Mike rolls his eyes.

 

“Who do you think would make more money in the freak show?” Troy asks Henry. “Midnight, Frogface 1, Toothless, or Frogface 2 and his little fairy boyfriend?”

 

Henry places a finger to his lips as though considering his options.

 

“I’ll go with toothless,” Henry decides, putting on a lisp, mimicking Dustin.

 

“I told you a million times, my teeth are coming in!” Dustin argues. “It’s called cleidocranial dysplasia.”

 

Troy rolls his eyes and pushes Mike harshly out of the way while Henry does the same, taking the time to lick his hand and wipe it down Eddie’s face disgustingly. Eddie whimpers as Richie shouts, outraged that Henry could be so cruel.

 

“Richie,” Mike interrupts Richie’s ranting at Bowers’ form. “Enough.”

 

Richie turns away from the bullies to find Eddie shaking, tears clinging to his eyelashes as he scrubs vigorously at his cheek with his sleeve causing his face to become red with irritation. Richie sighs, approaching Eddie carefully.

 

“Eds,” he said softly, reaching out. “Eds, stop.”

 

Eddie continues his assault on his cheek, tears now running down his fact and nails clawing at his skins.

 

“Babe,” Richie sighs, forcibly holding Eddie’s wrists and pulling his hands away from his face. Eddie collapses into Richie’s chest, sobs wracking his body. “Shhh,” Richie soothes, rubbing his back. “Eds, c’mere,” Richie murmurs, leaning back and taking Eddie’s chin in his hand. He reaches into Eddie’s fanny pack pulling out an antiseptic wipe while Eddie continues crying. “Shh, it’s okay, I’ve got ya.”

 

Richie dutifully wipes down Eddie’s cheek, hesitating whenever Eddie hisses in pain at the burning of the alcohol on his scratched skin. Mike, Dustin, and Lucas watch with worry.

 

“Thanks, ‘Chee,” Eddie whispers, pushing his face back into Richie’s chest once Richie is done wiping his face.

 

“No problem, Spaghetti,” Richie whispers back, leaning down to press a kiss to the crown of Eddie’s head.

 

“You okay, Eddie?” Mike asks as he watches his twin brother and his boyfriend embrace. His voice is full of concern and slight discomfort.

 

“Yeah, I’m good. Thanks for asking, Mike,” Eddie smiles softly, pulling back from Richie.

 

“Okay, we’re gonna head to class,” Mike smiles back, gesturing towards the doors to Hawkins High School before following his friends up the path.

 

Richie and Eddie remain by the bike racks for a few minutes longer, Eddie’s face hidden in Richie’s chest and Richie’s pressed against Eddie’s hair.

 

“You good, Spaghetti Man?”

 

“Yeah,” Eddie whispers, not moving.

 

“Ready to go to class?”

 

Eddie whines and shakes his head ‘no’ causing Richie to laugh.

 

“Well, we both know I have no problem skipping Clarke’s class, but your mom will murder me if you skip,” Richie insists, convincing Eddie to head into the school.

 

“M’kay,” Eddie breathes, pulling away from Richie. “Rich?”

 

“Hmm?”

 

“I love you,” Eddie whispers, pressing his lips to Richie’s.

 

“Love you too, Eds,” Richie grins after pulling back.

 


 

 

“Remember, finish chapter twelve and answer twelve point three on the difference between an experiment and other forms of scientific investigation. This will be on the test, which will cover chapters ten through twelve. It will be multiple choice with an essay section…”

 

“No one’s listening, sir,” Richie laughs, walking towards Mr. Clarke’s desk as most of the class file out of the room. The only students left are Dustin, Lucas, and Mike.

 

Mr. Clarke’s science class was the only class Richie and Mike shared. Richie was often separated from Mike and Eddie as he became extremely disruptive when he was in a classroom with either of the two.

 

“Thank you, Mr. Wheeler,” Mr. Clarke deadpans.

 

“So, did it come?!” Mike asks suddenly, pushing Richie aside with excitement.

 

“Sorry, boys.” Mike, Dustin, and Lucas have gathered around Mr. Clarke’s desk. “I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but… it came!”

 

The boys cheer with excitement, Mike jumping childishly as Dustin and Lucas grin at each other.

 

“Fuckin’ nerds…” Richie comments, still watching from his place near the door, amazed that he is even related to Mike, never mind genetically identical.

 

“You’re part of AV Club too, dipshit,” Mike grumbles, turning towards his brother with a frown.

 

“Michael,” Mr. Clarke scolds, causing Mike to blush in embarrassment and mutter an apology.

 

“Only for extra credit in science, dipshit,” Richie responds, ignoring the similar reprimand he receives from Mr. Clarke.

 

The twins glare at each other as the other three watch on uncomfortably.

 

“Okay, how about we head over to the AV Room?”

 


 

 

“Yes!” Mike cries, rushing to sit behind the table holding the radio.

 

“The Heathkit ham shack,” Mr. Clarke declares proudly. Dustin, Lucas, and Mike crowd around the radio while Richie stands by the door, rolling his eyes. “Ain’t she a beaut!”

 

 “I bet you could talk to New York on this thing!”

 

“Think bigger.”

 

“California?”

 

“Bigger.”

 

“Eddie’s mom?” Richie pipes in.

 

“Australi?!” Mike exclaims, ignoring his brother with practiced ease.

 

Mr. Clarke nods proudly, ignoring Richie just as Mike had. The three boys exclaim in excitement and begin speaking in vaguely Australian-sounding accents as Richie comments loudly on how bad their attempts are.

 

A knock at the door turns everyone’s attention to the hallway where Mr. Coleman stands with Sgt. Hopper.

 

“Sorry to interrupt, but, uh, may I borrow Michael, Lucas, and Dustin?”

 

“Hey, what about me?” Richie pipes up.

 

“You’re not invited, Wheeler,” Hopper laughs, smirking at the curly haired teen. Hopper was well acquainted with the trouble-making Wheeler boy.

 

“Mr. Coleman,” Richie starts, putting on an old timey Transatlantic accent. “Baby, you know your office is home away from home for me! I gotta come!”

 

“Fine, Mr. Wheeler, you may join us as well.”

 

“Knew he couldn’t resist me!” Richie jokes, heading down the hallway ahead of the rest of the group as Hopper snorts.

 


 

 

Hopper sighs, as the three boys on the couch shout over each other, attempting to explain the last time they had seen their friend will. Richie snorts from his spot, leaning against a wall. Hopper can’t help but silently agree with the boy who clearly finds his twin brother and his friends ridiculous. 

 

“Okay, okay, okay,” Hopper interrupts. “One at a time, alright? Wheeler, you said he takes what?”

 

“Mirkwood,” Mike says with a gulp, nervous to address the town Sargent. He’s never met the man, but his brother has on quite a few occasions.

 

“Have you ever heard of Mirkwood?” Hopper asks his partner.

 

“I have not,” Callahan answers in an almost bored tone. “That sounds made up to me.”

 

“No, it’s from Lord of the Rings.”

 

“Well, The Hobbit,” Dustin corrects, causing Lucas to twitch in irritation.

 

Nerds, Richie coughs and Hopper laughs

 

The comment is missed, however, as Dustin and Lucas launch into an argument with Mike sitting between them silently, rolling his eyes.

 

“Hey,” Hopper interrupts again. “What’d I just say! One at a damn time, you.”

 

“Mirkwood,” Mike continues. “It’s a real road. It’s just the name that’s made up. It’s where Cornwallis and Kerley meet.”

 

Hopper nods, familiar with the area.

 

“We can show you, if you want!” Mike offers, on the edge of his seat, wanting to help look for his friend. “We can help look!”

 

“No,” Hopper sighs, as the boys argue. “After school, you are all to go home. Immediately You too, Wheeler,” Hopper twists in his seat addressing Richie who salutes him mockingly, not looking up from his cuticles which he’s busy picking.  “That means no biking around looking for your friend, no investigating, no nonsense-”

 

“Whoa, whoa, whoa, Hop,” Richie interrupts, pushing off from the wall. “Nonsense is what I do best! I’m sorry, I just don’t think I can do that.”

 

“I swear to God, Wheeler. Do I make myself clear?”

 

Hopper is standing now, towering slightly over the teenager. Richie rolls his eyes while the other three boys nod in agreement.

 


 

 

“We should be out there right now. We should be helping look for him!”

 

“We’ve been over this, Mike. The chief says-”

 

“I don’t care what the chief said!” Mike exclaims. “We have to do something. Will could be in danger!”

 

“More reason to stay put,” Karen reasons, causing Richie to snort. He doesn’t want to go looking for the boy any more than his mother does, but he knows her statement is complete bullshit.

 

“Mom!”

 

“End of discussion.”

 

Richie grins, thoroughly enjoying watching his twin getting shut down by his mother for a change of pace.

 

“This is bullshit,” Mike mutters, throwing down his fork and fleeing the dining room.

 

Nancy and Richie share a look while Karen looks to her husband for support, neglecting to find any, unsurprisingly.

 

“So, me and Barbara are gonna study at her house tonight,” Nancy breaks the uncomfortable silence at the table. “That’s cool, right?”

 

“No, not cool.”

 

“What? Why not?”

 

Richie cannot believe his luck. It looks like Nancy’s about to launch into an equally explosive argument with their mother.

 

“Why do you think? Am I speaking Chinese in this house?”

 

Richie barks out a laugh.

 

“Mom! That’s so racist,” Richie chuckles.

 

“Until we know Will is okay, no one leaves,” Karen continues, ignoring Richie’s comment.

 

“Wait, but I can still go pick up Eddie after dinner, right?” Richie asks, suddenly worried he might not get to spend the evening with his boyfriend.

 

“No, Richard.”

 

“Mike’s right, this is such bullshit!” Richie cries, jumping from the table to follow his brother up the stairs to their shared bedroom.

 

“So, we’re all under house arrest, just because Mike’s friend got lost on the way home…”

 

Richie can hear his sister continuing to argue with Karen. She always was more persistent than her brothers. Mike typically accepted what he was told immediately and Richie would just do whatever he wanted anyway if he didn’t get the answer he was looking for.

 

“Nancy, this isn’t Will’s fault!”

 

Mike is suddenly rushing down the stairs at full speed, the bannister shaking as he jumps to the landing.

 

“You’re just mad because you want to hang out with Steve!”

 

“Who’s Steve?”

 

“Her new boyfriend,” Mike spits, disgusted with the fact that his sister would try to blame will for her misfortune.

 

“You are such a douchebag, Mike!”

 

The argument has devolved into a shouting match, Karen attempting to referee but decidedly caught off guard by the odd pairing. Ted continued eating as though the room was completely normal.

 

“Hey, Holly-Doll,” Richie sighs, making his way back into the dining room. “Let’s go watch some cartoons, huh?”

 

Holly immediately has her arms raised, waiting for Richie to pick her up and place her on his hip before walking her to the living room.

 

“I’m the only one acting normal here!” Mike is screeching at the top of his lungs. Richie has never heard him this upset. “I’m the only one who cares about Will!”

 

Richie has Holly situated on the couch and is turning on the TV set when he hears Mike stomp up the stairs again. Richie sighs, deciding to go and check on his brother.

 

“I hope you’re enjoying your chicken, Ted!”

 

Richie notices his mother storming out of the now nearly empty dining room, leaving his father sitting at the table alone. He probably prefers it that way, Richie thinks, continuing his trek up the stairs.

 


 

 

“Hey, shithead,” Richie greets, bursting into their bedroom. Mike is laying atop his covers, Supercom in hand. “You okay?”

 

Mike eyes him suspiciously, Richie is never this nice to him.

 

“M’fine.”

 

“Uh, you just swore at mom,” Richie laughs in disbelief. “There’s no way your fine.”

 

“My best fucking friend is missing, Richie,” Mike blurts, sitting up and glaring at his brother in anger. “Would you be fucking fine if Eddie had gone missing last night?”

 

“No,” Richie whispers, looking at his feet. “Sorry.”

 

Mike sighs and lies back down.

 

“Lucas, do you copy? Lucas?” Mike is talking into his walkie-talkie now.

 

“Hey, it’s Lucas.”

 

“I know it’s you. And say over when you’re done talking so know you’re done. Over.”

 

“I’m done. Over.” Lucas sasses making Richie laugh.

 

“I’m worried about Will. Over.”

 

“Yeah, this is crazy… Over.”

 

“Tell me about it!” Richie adds, climbing the ladder and flopping down on his top bunk.

 

“I was thinking,” Mike starts, sounding nervous. “Will could’ve cast Protection last night, but he didn’t. He cast Fireball. Over”

 

“What the fuck?” Richie laughs as Lucas asks a similar variation of Richie’s question.

 

“My point is, he could’ve played it safe, but he didn’t. He put himself in danger to help the party. Over.”

 

“Meet me in ten. Over and out.”

 

Mike sits up suddenly, causing the bed frame to shake.

 

“Woah, woah, woah,” Richie starts, sitting up to look at Mike who has begun to stuff things into his backpack. “Where do you think you’re going? Mom is royally pissed with you right now.”

 

“I need to help find Will, Rich,” Mike whispers, his face so open and honest it makes Richie gulp, searching desperately for a joke to diffuse the tension.

 

“Don’t call me Rich.”

 

“Why not? Eddie calls you Rich all the time,” Mike blanches, pulling a thick sweater over his head.

 

“Eddie gives me blowjobs,” Richie starts.

 

“Richie!”

 

“When you start giving me mind-blowing orgasms, I’ll start letting you call me Rich.”

 

“You’re fucking disgusting,” Mike responds, throwing one leg over the windowsill and out onto the roof.

 

“Wait,” Richie calls, stopping his brother with a look and pulling on his jean jacket. “You’re going to fucking fall off the roof and get us both in even deeper shit. I’ll come with you to meet Lucas, but then I’m going to see Eddie.”

 

“Really?”

 

“Yeah,” Richie rolls his eyes. “I already said, I can’t have you falling off the roof and blowing our cover. I’m horny as fuck and need to go and see Eddie.”

 


 

 

Minutes later the boys have navigated their way down the drain pipe and are slowly walking their bikes from the side of the house to the road.

 

“Oh, my God,” Mike mutters, noticing Steve Harrington attempting to climb into their sister’s window.

 

“Hey,” Richie calls. “Try climbing the drain pipe around back and walk across the garage roof!”

 

Steve startles, looking back at the younger boys curiously, but follows Richie’s instructions and waves gratefully.

 

“Richie!” Mike scolds.

 

“What?”

 

“You just helped Steve Harrington climb into our sister’s bedroom in the middle of the night!”

 

“It’s 7pm,” Richie laughs. “Hardly the middle of the night.”

 

“Still!”

 

“Shit,” Richie mutters. “You’re right.”

 

Richie turns around, heading towards their front door to storm up to Nancy’s room and kick Steve out.

 

“Later,” Mike calls. “We don’t have time right now!”

 

“Fine!”

 


 

 

“Richie?” Lucas and Dustin ask at the same time, confused as to why Mike would bring his brother to search for Will.

 

“I’m just escorting his royal highness over here,” Richie explains, skidding to a stop and winning the unspoken race between the twins with a smile. “Then I’m off to make some sweet, sweet love to my Spaghetti Monster.”

 

“You’re disgusting,” Mike groans, slightly out of breath.

 

“And you’re out of shape, nerd.” Richie replies, ruffling Mike’s hair as he passes his brother, pedalling in the direction the twins had just come from to get to Eddie’s house.


  

“But, soft! What light through yonder window breaks?”

 

“Hey, Rich,” Eddie laughs, not looking up from the notebook he is currently writing in at his desk.

 

“It is the east, and Eddie Spaghetti is the sun,” Richie continues as though Eddie hadn’t spoken. He’s standing on the veranda below Eddie’s window, head rested on upturned palms as he leans his elbows on the window frame.

 

“We get it, Romeo,” Eddie smiles, getting up from his desk and walking towards the window to help pull Richie through. “You’re a real fucking romantic bastard, aren’t you?” Eddie grins, pulling Richie down for a kiss.

 

“You know it,” Richie quips after pulling away, flopping down on Eddie’s bed. “C’mere.”

 

‘Rich, I’ve got a lot of homework to do.”

 

“Spaghetti,” Richie whines. “Are you choosing homework over your one true love?”

 

“Richie,” Eddie smiles, staring exasperatedly down at his boyfriend. “Ugh, fine!”

 

Richie lets out a victorious shout before being muffled by both of Eddie’s hands and a desperate ‘shh’.

 

“You’re such an asshole, you know that?” Eddie whispers, snuggling into Richie’s chest.

 

“I know.”

 

“Hey, wait,” Eddie starts, pulling back from Richie to sit up. “Your mom actually let you out of the house after Will went missing less that twenty-four hours ago?”

 

“Do you really think my mom would do that, Eds?” Richie responds, trying to pull a squirming Eddie back towards himself.

 

“You snuck out?” Eddie asks incredulously. “Richie! Will went missing last night! No one knows where you are. What if your mom finds out you’re not in the house and thinks you’ve gone missing as well? We’ve gotta call her-”

 

“Eddie, it’s fine!” Richie laughs, sitting up. “My mom is pissed off with my brother and I. She won’t be checking our room tonight. Besides, Mike knows I’m here and my mom knows where to find me whenever I’m not home.”

 

“Oh, okay. Mike knows where you are. That’s good.”

 

“Well…”

 

“Richard…”

 

“Mike and his band of geeks are currently off searching for Will in the forest,” Richie shrugs, laying back down.

 

“What!?”

 

“Shh,” Richie mocks, covering Eddie’s mouth.

 

“We gotta go help them,” Eddie demands, standing from his bed and searching for his backpack.

 

“No.”

 

“What?” Eddie asks, confused as to why his boyfriend wouldn’t want to sneak around the forest at night. The entire thing screamed Richie Wheeler.

 

“We aren’t going out there,” Richie repeats, picking at a hole in his jacket. “You’re not going out there.”

 

“You can’t tell me what to do, Richard,” Eddie is immediately defensive.

 

“Spaghetti,” Richie’s voice cracks and Eddie can hear pain in Richie’s voice and lets his guard down, approaching Richie. “I-I-I… I can’t-”

 

“Rich, what’s going on?” Eddie is now sat on the bed next to Richie, running his fingers through the taller boy’s hair as Richie hides his face against Eddie’s thigh. Richie swallows before sitting up.

 

“I can’t lose you,” Richie whispers, cupping Eddie’s cheek. “Tonight… I was being a dick to Mike, asking him why he was being such a fucking psycho and he asked me how I would feel if it was you that had gone missing…”

 

Eddie lets out a puff of air, closing his eyes and wrapping his arms around Richie’s neck, burying his face there.

 

“I would be a fucking mess,” Richie continues. “Mike is a fucking champ, because I would be a fucking basket case...”

 

Eddie lets out a sob and Richie squeezes him tighter. They can’t lose each other.