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hold me in your arms (burns like fire)

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Eddie sighed, sitting cross-legged on his bed, his suitcase untouched on the ground. On the outside, it seemed like an incredible vacation. He could see the beach from the window of his small, single-bed room. It was littered with families and couples and groups of friends all laughing and enjoying the sunny day. The water glittered in the sun and waves swept up onto the beach, wetting the sand and delighting children and adults alike. It was an ideal place for a vacation but there was just one problem.

The very last thing that Eddie wanted to do with the summer before his first year at college was spend two weeks trapped at a resort with his mother and aunts.

He’d tried to wiggle and squirm his way out of it but his mother was determined to bring him along, not wanting to waste a moment of the last few months she had with her “precious Eddie Bear.” It was just the latest in a series of dramatic moments she’d had ever since he announced that he was not, in fact, going to stay in Maine for college. Sonia had tried to get him to agree that he should stay at home and attend Derry Community College since he was a sophomore and started bringing home brochures about different schools both in and out of state.

It wasn’t until Eddie received a full-ride scholarship to NYU that she realized there was no keeping him there. Ever since then, there had been one meltdown after another. He was abandoning her. He didn’t love her. He hated her. He would never survive without her. He was ungrateful. Selfish. Sick. Helpless. Too young. Too small. Eddie had heard it all and more since he sent his letter of intent back in March. Now it was July and he was willing to do anything for just a few days of peace.

So here he was, sitting on a bed staring out at a beach with a sinking feeling in his stomach that the next ten days would be absolutely boring and miserable.

Eddie could hear his mother and aunts talking loudly and laughing from the main room. They’d all come together to rent a cottage at the the resort, luckily giving Eddie his own bedroom. He knew for a fact that he wouldn’t be able to stomach sharing with his mother. He definitely couldn’t spend the next ten days just listening to this. Luckily he knew that his mother did all of her research about the place and its safety so Eddie knew that breaking away from them wouldn’t be that difficult.

They didn’t really want to have him around, not when they spoke of wineries, antiquing, and laying by the pool reading scandalous romance novels. Eddie really wished that he didn’t hear the last one on the drive to North Carolina but there was no avoiding it. But he could certainly keep his distance now. Eddie stood from the bed and finally unzipped his suitcase, pulling out a swimsuit and sunscreen before disappearing into the bathroom.

He quickly undressed, tugged on the bright red swim shorts, and covered himself with a layer of the protective lotion. When he came back out, Eddie grabbed his phone, a book, a beach towel, and his wallet, shoving all of it plus the sunscreen into a small drawstring backpack before slipping on a t-shirt and sliding sunglasses into his hair. But he barely made it three steps out of his room before his mother was calling out to him.

“Eddie,” she said, her voice grating on him after the hours spent in the car. “Sweetie, where are you going?”

Eddie turned around slowly, opening his mouth to answer her as if it wasn’t obvious.

“Oh Sonia let the boy go have some fun,” his aunt, Charlotte, beat him to it.

“Yeah, the last thing he wants to do is hang out with four old bats,” Pamela added.

His mother’s lips pursed a little and she huffed, putting her hands on her hips. He could tell that she was annoyed by their intervention but Eddie remained silent, letting them do all the work because he knew his words wouldn’t mean near as much to her.

“I’m just not sure that he should go wandering around the first day. What if he gets lost?” she said, talking as if he wasn’t even there.

Eddie sank his teeth into his lower lip, watching as the oldest of them, Aunt Kathryn, wandered out of her room with a roll of her eyes.

“He’s eighteen, for goodness’ sake. You have to cut the cord some day, Sonia,” she said, patting his mother’s shoulder. “You go on, Edward. Enjoy the sun.”

He ducked his head to hide his smile, turning away to walk towards the door.

“Do you at least have sunscreen?” Sonia called after him.

“Of course, Mama,” Eddie said, turning to face her as he opened the door. “Have fun.”

He waved goodbye and darted out of the cottage before she could call him back, feeling almost giddy for the first time since they left Derry. Eddie could have almost pumped his fist into the air as he stepped out and breathed the fresh, slightly salty air from the wind that came off the water as he covered his eyes with his sunglasses.. Before taking another step, he recalled the small map in the main lobby of the hotel and decided that he at least wanted something to drink. He headed to one of the two pools, finding a bar that served drinks both alcoholic and nonalcoholic.

Eddie ordered himself a simple strawberry smoothie to cool him off before heading down to the beach. It stretched far on both sides, with people laid out in the sand, splashing in water, and playing games along the surprisingly powdery sand. The sandals he wore protected his feet from the hot ground until he found a somewhat empty spot, laying out his towel and pulling his shirt over his head before lying down on his back. It was nice, the breeze from the sea taking some of the heat from the sun’s rays above him.

He didn’t even know why his mother was worried considering Eddie had been working odd jobs for the people in the neighborhood, mowing lawns and weeding out gardens and even fixing a few cars for money so that he could add a little more to his savings. As a result, his skin had a nice tan to it which meant that it was unlikely he’d even really burn all that much. Of course Sonia tried to discourage him from doing it all but at the end of the day, he was an adult and her control over him, which had been tenuous at best since he found out about the placebos, was nearly nonexistent now.

Eddie laid there for a while, enjoying the peace even with all of the noise around him. If the rest of the vacation was something like this, he’d definitely enjoy himself. Turning over after a long few minutes, he sipped at his smoothie and pulled his book out of the backpack, turning to the page he’d folded down to mark his place before delving back into the story. Eddie had no idea how much time passed as he drank and read, completely in his own little world until something bumped the side of his leg and he jumped, turning his head to see what it was. It turned out to be a soccer ball. He barely glanced at it before he heard someone call out.

“Shit! Sorry!”

His eyes lifted and his heart stuttered in his chest when he caught sight of the person the voice belonged to. He wore a pair of outrageous yellow shorts with orange Hawaiian flowers printed all over them but they didn’t distract from the boy’s dark curls, high cheekbones, lanky form, and somewhat defined abdomen. Then he nearly tripped over a small divot in the sand a few feet away and Eddie covered his mouth to keep from laughing as he staggered and regained his footing, swiping at his forehead as if he saw his life flash before his eyes in that moment.

“Goddamn beach is trying to kill me,” the guy muttered, sweeping a hand through tangled, damp hair before turning towards his ball.

But then his lips parted and he stared at Eddie with wide, dark eyes. Several moments passed as they regarded one another. Eddie’s cheeks filled with color when the stranger’s eyes swept over him from head to toe and back, his own face looking a little red. But it might have been the sun or the exertion from playing soccer. He was striking in a way that Eddie couldn’t quite pinpoint but there was no denying that he had a certain charismatic attraction.

“Get the b-b-ball Richie!” someone yelled from further down the beach.

The guy, Richie, finally snapped out of whatever trance he was in and turned his head to shout back.

“Calm your tits, Denbrough!”

Eddie bit his lip to keep from smiling when a woman turned her head from a few feet away, giving Richie a dirty look that he didn’t see as he looked back towards Eddie, giving him a somewhat charming smile this time.

“Sorry ‘bout that, cutie,” he said, bending over to pick up the ball.

Eddie chose not to react to his fingers brushing over his leg but the nickname, on the other hand, made his stomach flutter just a little bit as he sat up, bringing his smoothie with him.

“Accidents happen,” he said with a shrug before taking a small drink.

“Fate has its way,” Richie said with a smirk.

Eddie’s eyebrows rose and he wondered briefly if that was supposed to be a line. Before he could respond, the other boy was talking again, gesturing over his shoulder.

“You gonna sit here all day or get in the water?”

Wrinkling his nose, Eddie shook his head.

“Not in this lifetime. Do you know how many diseases there are in that water? There’s so much pollution and sewage. You can get E. coli or Hepatitis or Staph infections. Even Shigellosis.”

As soon as the words left his mouth, Eddie regretted speaking. It was all true, of course, but it was hardly “cute” for anyone to go on about diseases. He was certain that Richie would turn and walk away but he simply stared at Eddie with a stunned expression for a few moments before a grin tugged at his lips.

“Do any of those make your dick fall off?”

That was the last thing that Eddie expected to hear. He furrowed his brows and frowned up at him.

“I’m not even dignifying that with an answer.”

Richie let out a loud laugh, even tossing his head back a little. If it didn’t make Eddie’s chest feel so warm, he would have found it obnoxious. But there was something about this guy that drew him in.

“Quit flirting and ge-get a move on, T-Tozier!” the same guy as before yelled.

Richie shouted another obscenity over his shoulder, flipping whoever it was off with his free hand. This time, he earned more than one glare from the parents around them and Eddie couldn’t quite hide his laughter this time. Richie looked at him with a smile, his gaze warm as if Eddie’s laughter was something that he liked.

“You should probably go before the moms start beating you to a pulp,” Eddie said, nodding at the disapproving looks that he was getting.

Richie glanced around and finally noticed it, shrugging his shoulders before turning back to Eddie.

“They’re just jealous,” he said with a smile.

But he started to turn away regardless and Eddie wouldn’t admit it, but he felt the slightest spark of disappointment in his chest.

“See ya later, cutie!” Richie said as he started to jog away.

Then he whirled around, still moving backwards as he looked at Eddie.

“I don’t know your name!”

It was on the tip of his tongue to tell him but an idea came to Eddie and he knew that he had to amuse himself somehow.

“Earn it!”

Richie’s eyebrows flew up and he grinned even wider.

“Yes sir!” he said, saluting Eddie before turning to run the rest of the way.

Eddie watched him go with a smile on his lips that he couldn’t quite chase away. As he laid back on his towel, feeling even warmer than before, he realized that he might have been very wrong about this vacation. It definitely had the potential to be incredibly interesting now.

*

It didn’t take long for Eddie to cross paths with Richie again. He stretched out in a lounge chair by the pool the next morning just after breakfast, scrolling through his Instagram feed while enjoying the cooler air before it reached noon and everything got just a little bit hotter. He laughed a little at a picture of Mike and Ben at the quarry just outside of Derry. Then a shadow fell over Eddie. He barely raised his eyes before the culprit dropped heavily onto the end of his lounge chair.

He rocked the whole thing and nearly sent Eddie toppling off. He steadied himself with a gasp before raising his head to glare at Richie. Because who else could it be? With a grin, the other boy extended a peace offering. It was an off-white smoothie that Eddie hadn’t seen until now, a red maraschino cherry decorating the top. He took it skeptically, wondering what was going on. Was Richie trying to suck up to him? Or was this a trick? Eddie wasn’t sure what to make of him, even though they’d flirted the day before.

“What is this?” he asked.

“Pina colada,” Richie answered proudly.

Eddie sighed, shaking his head.

“I’m eighteen,” he said, extending it back towards Richie.

He’d drank before, when Mike dragged him to some of the high school parties in Derry, but Eddie certainly wasn’t going to do so openly. Not when his mom could walk up any minute and smell the rum on his breath.

“So am I. It’s a virgin,” Richie said, pushing it back towards him.

Then a lascivious grin formed on his face as he leaned closer to Eddie, lowering his voice so that only the two of them could hear.

“Are you a virgin, gorgeous?”

Eddie narrowed his eyes as a flush rose to his cheeks. Richie definitely didn’t have any qualms or filter, apparently.

“That’s privileged information,” he said, plucking the cherry from the top of the drink.

He popped it in his mouth, biting the sweet part off the stem before chewing it slowly. Richie watched every movement with rapt attention, looking no less interested for Eddie’s evasiveness.

“Have I at least earned your name?” he asked.

Eddie took a considering sip of the drink once he swallowed the cherry, pretending to consider it. The flavor really was good, the sweetness of the coconut and tanginess of the pineapple blending well. Before he could come up with an answer, a hyper voice came out of nowhere and a blur leapt onto Richie’s back, nearly pulling him off of the chair. Eddie watched with surprise that quickly turned to glee when Richie flailed to catch his balance. The boy who grabbed him giggled, wrapping his arms tight around Richie’s chest.

“Are you gonna swim with me, Richie Rich?” he asked, putting his chin on Richie’s shoulder.

Richie rolled his eyes to the sky, tapping his chin as he pretended to think long and hard. The kid waited with a wide, hopeful gaze and Eddie couldn’t deny that he was adorable.

“Of course I am, Captain Georgie!” he declared loudly, pulling another laugh out of the boy.

Richie stood abruptly, his hands going to Georgie’s legs to steady him as he gripped tight to keep from falling. His eyes found Eddie and he winked at him before turning to the pool, running all the way there before jumping in with a shrieking Georgie still attached. They made a big splash before resurfacing, both spluttering and laughing. It was hard to concentrate on anything else, especially when another guy that Eddie recognized as the yeller from the beach jumped in and started roughhousing with them.

Eddie drank the pina colada and alternated between scrolling through social media and watching the three males play. It was a large enough pool that they weren’t really bothering anyone even when they splashed, dunked one another, and took turns throwing a giggling Georgie back and forth between the oldest two. Then, after about forty-five minutes of that, a kind-looking woman came and cupped her hands to her mouth, calling to Georgie, Bill, and Richie to come and eat lunch before they missed it.

Richie climbed out of the water near to Eddie, pushing himself up with his arms while Bill took Georgie over to the stairs that led out. As Richie straightened up, shaking the water out of his hair, Eddie tossed a towel from a nearby stack over to him. Richie caught it with surprise, looking up from beneath wet curls that fell into his, a grin forming on his face when he saw that Eddie was still sitting there with an empty glass and his phone discarded on the lounge chair.

“That your little brother?” he asked.

Richie shook his head, coming closer as he dried himself off.

“Bill’s,” he said, rubbing at his chest with the towel. “But he may as well be.”

Richie left it at that as he lazily wrapped the towel around his neck. Then he leaned over Eddie, his hands going to the arm rests of the chair. Eddie was trapped, his face inches away from Richie’s and his breath caught in his throat.

“You never answered my question,” Richie said.

Eddie reached up slowly, pushing his sunglasses to sit on the top of his head so that he could see the freckles dotted across Richie’s nose.

“Shit,” Richie whispered, his eyes darting back and forth between Eddie’s. “You really are fucking gorgeous.”

It was hard not to smile at that. Eddie didn’t usually fall for this type of thing but he wasn’t entirely opposed to spending his vacation before college flirting with a pretty guy. Flings were fun, right?

“Eddie,” he said quietly.

Richie’s eyes lit up and he smiled in return, looking delighted.

“Eddie,” he repeated.

Eddie nodded in response, licking his lips. Richie’s eyes darted down to take in the motion before looking back up at Eddie.

“You wanna come eat with us?” Richie asked.

He considered it for a moment before making up his mind, nodding his head.

“I guess I’m hungry,” he said.

“Good,” Richie said, drawing away.

He waited for Eddie to gather his stuff and it wasn’t until he stood up that the height difference between them became apparent. He had to be at least five to six inches taller, which didn’t bother Eddie one bit. Richie slowed his steps so to match Eddie’s stride. Bill and Georgie both looked a little bit surprised when they reached where they were waiting.

“This is Eddie,” Richie said proudly.

“Th-thank God,” Bill said, reaching out his hand to shake Eddie’s. “He hasn’t shut up a-about you since the b-b-beach.”

“Shut up,” Richie mumbled as Eddie grinned over at him.

“That’s Billy and I’m Georgie!”

Eddie glanced down at the younger boy and reached out to shake his hand too.

“Nice to meet you, Georgie,” he said.

“You too,” Georgie said, shaking his hand vigorously before letting go, whirling around to lead them up to the resort.

Bill followed close behind him and Eddie and Richie brought up the rear.

“Couldn't shut up about me, huh?” Eddie said, still smiling.

“Shut up,” Richie repeated, nudging at Eddie’s side with his elbow as he shook his head. “I’ll disinvite you.”

“No you won’t,” Eddie said with a laugh.

“You’re right,” Bill said over his shoulder.

Richie grumbled under his breath but tossed his arm over Eddie’s shoulders as they reached the buildings. He didn’t move away, letting himself be tucked in close. It felt nice. Eddie liked it.

*

Eddie and Richie spent a lot of the next few days together. There was a lot of time spent with Bill and Georgie too, both of whom Eddie found that he got along with quite well, along with the Denbrough parents. He really didn’t mind. It was a lot better than his mother stressing and fussing over him, wondering if his tan meant that he should stay inside for a day. He got water stuck in his ear one day from the pool and she panicked, trying to find a doctor in the area that could check for an ear infection. Luckily his aunts were always around to distract her long enough for Eddie to slip out, mouthing “thank you” the whole way.

He learned that Richie came with the Denbroughs on their vacation before he and Bill both went to college. Apparently he was like a second son to them and had spent a lot of time at their house growing up. There was an underlying tension with his own parents that went unexplained. Eddie never pushed for details just like Richie never asked why he was so desperate to spend as little time with his mother as possible. Richie was studying drama when he went to college while Eddie was studying psychology. He told Richie all about Mike and Ben while he filled Eddie in about Stan, Bill’s boyfriend, and Bev, Richie’s partner-in-crime.

One day, when Zack Denbrough took his sons on a chartered boat to do some offshore fishing, Richie declined politely and waited until they were gone before dragging Eddie out onto the beach with the soccer ball in his hands. As ridiculous as it seemed to play a game with just two people, Eddie went along with it. There was something about his time spent with Richie that made him feel the shackles of his childhood slip away. He thought that he was signing up for a summer fling but it turned out to be something… more. They went to a somewhat isolated spot and Richie dropped the ball to the ground, kicking it back and forth between his bare feet.

“How does this work again?” Eddie asked, putting his hands on his hips and raising one eyebrow questioningly behind his sunglasses.

Richie grinned at him, kicking the ball over gently.

“You just try to get past me, Eds,” he said, jogging backwards about ten feet.

“Don’t call me that!” Eddie yelled out at him.

He ignored Richie’s answering laughter, kicking off his own sandals and sinking his toes into the sand for a few moments as he waited for Richie to grow still. Well, as still as the other boy could be. Then Eddie nudged at the ball and wondered if that was really the extent of the game. Richie was obviously taller than him and could definitely take longer strides. But he made one mistake in thinking that gave him any sort of advantage. Because there was one thing that he didn’t know.

Eddie was his high school track team’s star runner, having signed up as soon as he quit using his inhaler, and had a competitive streak bigger than the Atlantic.

He narrowed his eyes, leaning forward determinedly. Then he was off like a shot, kicking the ball ahead of him and darting this way and that as Richie tried to keep up with his movements. As Eddie drew closer it, really looked like Richie was about to tackle him to the ground. Then he swerved to the right and did a full twirl, hearing a grunt behind him as Richie fell to the ground, kicking the ball for a good ten feet before bending down to pick it up, turning around to see Richie propped up on his elbows, a stunned look on his face.

“Quick little bastard, aren’t you?” he said.

Eddie shrugged his shoulders, his chest rising and falling quicker than before. He walked over, holding a hand out to Richie. Once he helped Richie to his feet, Eddie tossed the ball at him, a strange sense of accomplishment rising in his chest.

“Your turn,” he said, smirking up at him.

“Oh that’s how it’s gonna be, huh Kaspbrak?” Richie said, looking impressed at Eddie’s bravado.

“I guess so,” Eddie said, turning to walk back to where he stood earlier. “Can’t wait to destroy you, Tozier.”

“Funny, that’s what your mom said to me last ni-”

“Fuck off, Richie!”

Richie laughed loudly, letting the ball drop to the sand before tugging his long hair up into a curly, messy bun. They played for the next hour before staggering their way back to the hotel with breathless laughter filling the air, their clothes covered in sweat and sand. Richie pulled him into a side hug and ruffled his hair before they parted, making Eddie shout and squirm in his grip before shoving away and flipping him off. Richie’s laughter lingered in his mind even after he disappeared from sight. Eddie made his way to their cottage with a smile on his face, letting himself in with his key.

To his surprise and disappointment, his mom was sitting on a couch fanning herself, Aunt Charlotte and Aunt Pamela there with her as they all watched an episode of The Price is Right on the television. Eddie knew that they were probably waiting for him to get back so they could get dinner and tried to quietly slip past them into his room so that he could clean up. But his mother, like always, had other things in mind. He heard her protesting noise before he managed three steps.

“Eddie,” she whined, looking at him with disbelief and annoyance. “You’re tracking sand all over the floor.”

“Sorry Mama,” he said, realizing that she was right. “They’ll vacuum it up in the morning.”

“Well that doesn’t help us now, does it?” Sonia huffed.

Eddie pressed his lips together, his eyes darting past her to see Aunt Pamela shaking her head with a roll of her eyes.

“Sweetie you’re flushed,” Sonia said, struggling to heave herself up from the couch. “Do you have a fever?”

“No I-”

“You know damn well he doesn’t, Sonia,” Aunt Charlotte broke in. “We saw him playing on the beach. It’s okay for a boy to get sweaty when he runs around like that.”

Sonia looked even more annoyed than before, settling back in place as she crossed her arms over her chest. Eddie, however, felt a cold chill run down his spine. She’d seen him with Richie.

“Who was that boy?” his mother demanded, confirming his suspicions.

“His name is Richie,” Eddie said, fiddling with the strap of his backpack. “He’s from Maine too. Bangor.”

She didn’t look too pleased and Eddie wasn’t surprised in the slightest by the words she spoke next. After all, this was the same woman who outright refused to accept it when Eddie told her that he was gay.

“I don’t like him,” she sniffed.

The words made anger stir in his chest. She didn’t even know Richie and she was passing judgment against him.

“I do,” Eddie said simply.

With that, he disappeared into his room to clean up, leaving her red-faced and shocked into silence behind him while her sisters tried in vain to hide their amusement.

*

Eddie’s mom gave him the cold shoulder over the next two days. He hardly noticed, spending them much the same way that he spent the first week of their vacation. She didn’t even complain that he hadn’t spent much time around her. It brought more peace into his life but he felt like it would only cause trouble later. Nevertheless, Eddie ignored it and let himself enjoy what remained of the vacation. Because in just a few days, he’d been saying goodbye. He never expected the aching feeling that the thought of it would leave in his chest.

As he sat on the edge of the pool, skimming his feet through the cool water and watching Georgie use Bill and Richie to play his own personal game of pirates, he couldn’t help but watch the latter of the three. Richie was even more enigmatic than the first day. Everything that Eddie learned about him only made him draw closer. He should have known that it wouldn’t be as easy as a fling. No matter how much he tried, Eddie had never been able to do things by halves. Apparently that extended to his feelings about one Richie Tozier.

When Richie swam up to him, leaving Bill and Georgie behind to debate who won the swordfight, he placed his hands over Eddie’s knees and looked up at him. Eddie stared back down and maybe it was something about the look in his eyes but Richie didn’t speak, gazing at him with something like recognition in his own eyes. Eddie reached down, stroking his hair back away from his face. It gave his hands something to do while his heart skipped and raced in his chest.

He felt jittery and full of nervous energy, like they were barely hanging on a thread that was about to snap, sending them sprawling into the unknown. Richie reached up, catching Eddie’s elbow before he could pull away. They still didn’t speak as he stroked his fingers up his arm, lingering on his wrist before Richie weaved their fingers together gently, his eyes never leaving Eddie’s. It was a moment that was ripe with tension and words that went unsaid up until now. Richie opened up his mouth to speak and Eddie waited to hear what he said.

“Richie! Eddie!”

Their heads snapped up to see Georgie swimming over to them, closely followed by Bill. Eddie exhaled slowly as the moment faded away. But Richie didn’t let go of his hand, squeezing it lightly even though he was no longer looking at Eddie.

“Can we play again?” Georgie asked, his eyes wide and pleading.

“Course, little man,” Richie said with a grin.

Georgie looked up at Eddie, who so far hadn’t been part of the game.

“Can you come play too, Eddie? You can be my loyal first mate who battles the other pirates with me,” he said.

Eddie couldn’t help but smile, lifting his free hand to his forehead to salute.

“I’d be honored, Captain Georgie,” he said seriously.

Georgie giggled, looking delighted as he turned back towards Bill. Eddie’s eyes returned to Richie, who was already smiling up at him. He reached out his other hand in offering and Eddie took it, scooting forward on the concrete until he was slipping into the pool, ducking under to get his whole body wet before resurfacing. Richie didn’t let go of his hands once. Eddie blinked the water from his eyes before looking up at him. Richie was gazing back at him with something indescribable in his eyes.

God you’re beautiful,” he breathed out.

It sounded different this time. There was no flirty edge or suggestive undertone to the words. He sounded blown away, as if they were the truest words that he ever uttered. Eddie didn’t know what to say, feeling overwhelmed and unsteady.

“Can we talk later?” he found himself asking.

Richie nodded slowly, squeezing his hands lightly before releasing one so that he could turn towards Georgie and Bill. They swam over together, their hands clasped until Georgie separated them, calling an official start to the game. It wasn’t until over an hour as they climbed out of the pool, tired and pruny, that Richie caught his elbow as he turned to grab his things. He bent down, whispering something in Eddie’s ear. He breathed in sharply, the suggestion sending a thrill of anticipation through his veins. As Richie pulled away, he looked down into Eddie’s eyes with a questioning look.

“That okay?” he asked quietly.

Eddie nodded, an idea already forming in his head.

“Yeah,” he said softly, smiling at Richie.

Richie grinned back at him, looking happy. They were both a little more energetic as they walked up to the hotel with Georgie and Bill, knowing that tonight would change everything.

*

"Meet me back here at midnight.”

Richie’s words repeated in his head again and again all while Eddie walked to the cottage and opened the door. The pool didn’t close until after 11pm, which meant that he had a lot of time. His half-formed plan from before was pretty set in stone now. He knew exactly how to make it work. It would just take a little bit of sucking up, which Eddie could do no problem. He remembered how to be complacent little Eddie Kaspbrak. He refused to feel guilty about it, considering how his mother manipulated him for years.

She was sitting on the couch looking through a catalog this time, clearly trying to pretend like she hadn’t been waiting and watching the door like a hawk for him to come through. His aunts were nowhere to be seen, which actually made things easier. It would be hard to put on this act if they were around to see right through it. Eddie crossed over to his mother, sitting beside her.

“Hi Mama,” he said, ducking his head a little bit.

She simply hummed in response, flipping a page with more force than necessary.

“‘I’m sorry, Mama,” Eddie said, keeping his voice quiet. “I know you’re mad at me. I shouldn’t have talked to you like that.”

Sonia perked up a little bit, glancing over at him.

“No, you shouldn’t have,” she huffed.

Eddie peered up at her, keeping his shoulders down.

“I know you were just worried about me,” Eddie said, clasping his hands in his lap. “I don’t want you to have to worry. You should be able to have a good time too.”

Sonia didn’t look like she knew quite how to respond to that so Eddie continued, laying it on thick.

“I think you and my aunts should go out tonight. I know there’s a winery nearby that you’ve wanted to visit and you only have a few more days,” he suggested, quick to keep speaking when she opened her mouth. “I’m really tired, so I just want to stay in the cottage tonight. I’ll probably order room service and watch a movie, if that’s okay with you.”

He knew exactly what he was doing, not that his mother guessed. Sonia looked like she was considering the idea. Meanwhile, Eddie knew how this would turn out. Without spending her time fussing over whether he was okay, she’d let loose a little bit. And when Sonia Kaspbrak let loose, she didn’t keep track of how much she drank. Especially at a winery where tasting different types of wine would be the norm. She’d come back to the hotel room in good spirits but go to sleep soon after, lulled off by the alcohol in her system. He’d seen it before, when she went out with friends in Derry.

“Are you sure, Eddie Bear?” she asked, reaching out to push his damp hair away from his forehead. “I don’t mind staying in.”

He shook his head.

“I just want a quiet night. You should go have fun.”

His mother nodded, looking at him warmly.

“I suppose I’ll ask your aunts how they feel about it.”

Eddie fought the temptation to look satisfied, nodding his head slowly. That was as close to a yes as he was going to get out of her.

*

It wasn’t that he could make a master planner, but Eddie’s plots rarely failed. He wasn’t surprised at all when, at a quarter to ten, his mother and aunts came through the door giggling and full of wine. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect. Part of him was afraid that they’d come back later. Sonia shushed them all, though she was being the loudest of them, opening his bedroom door to check on him. He was curled away from it, lights off and blankets pulled to his chin as he pretended to sleep.

“G’night, sweetie,” she said, her words slurred.

Eddie didn’t even flinch, keeping himself still with a minimal rise and fall of his chest. She left just as quickly, closing the door quietly and shushing them all again before corralling them into their rooms. Even Aunt Kathryn, who was going on and on about how some of the men at the winery would certainly make for good husbands if they didn’t have such sour faces. Nevermind that she was married. Eddie smiled to himself, rolling onto his back. From there, it wasn’t a long wait for the entire place to fall into silence that was only broken by the occasional muffled snores from the other bedrooms.

He still laid there, watching the clock tick every closer to midnight. When it reached 11:55, he threw the covers off, pulled a t-shirt on along with his damp swim shorts. He slipped out of his door silently, listening closely with every step he took across the living room. Eddie knew that there was very little that could wake his mom up at this point. When she passed out after drinking, she slept hard. He’d have to bang pots and pans together and even then, it was a fifty-fifty shot whether she’d actually wake up. He made it to the door successfully, unlocking it before sneaking outside.

It was a little bit cooler at night and goosebumps broke out on his skin as the seabreeze washed over him. Eddie kept moving quietly, unsure of whether anything would actually happen if he was caught. He took off down the path to the pool, grateful that it wasn’t incredibly well lit as he listened for any sounds beyond the crashing waves he could hear in the distance. As he drew closer to the pool, Eddie could see a lone figure sitting on the edge, his feet in the water. Richie almost looked ethereal. The moonlight reflected off of his paler skin, making it almost glow.

Richie’s head lifted as he drew closer, making a little more noise so he wouldn’t surprise the other boy. A smile slowly formed on his face as he pulled his feet out of the water. Eddie hovered near the lounge chairs, feeling like his heart might burst out of his chest as Richie gazed at him much like he had earlier. Richie was wearing nothing but his swimsuit, watching Eddie cross over to him. Slowly, he sank down to his knees and reached out, running hand over Richie’s shoulder before finding his way to his chest, pressing his palm over his heart to feel it thumping quickly.

The other boy shivered a little, remaining perfectly still. There was something different about this. Maybe it was the late hour or the absolute lack of anyone around them. A sort of electric charge hung in the air between them. Eddie swallowed hard when Richie reached up, stroking a thumb over his cheek. The touch left tingles in its wake and Eddie’s eyes fluttered closed for just a moment. Then Richie was speaking, his voice quiet for once, as if he was afraid of disrupting whatever was happening here. Eddie didn’t blame him.

“Wanna get in?”

Eddie opened his eyes, nodding at him. He knew that it would be colder at night but he didn’t care. His skin felt like there was a fire simmering just beneath it just at Richie’s proximity. Maybe a little swim would help cool him off. Eddie tugged his shirt over his head and kicked his shoes away, leaving them both lying on the ground before standing up. Richie did the same, taking Eddie’s hand in his. They descended the stairs together, never straying from one another even as they shuddered at the sting of the cold water.

When they were finally in halfway into the pool, ducked down so that the water lapped at their shoulders, Richie reached out and pressed his hands over Eddie’s hips. He let himself be pulled in close, his breaths ragged as he slid his arms around Richie’s shoulders. It was closer than they’d ever been, their noses nearly brushing as they gazed at one another. After a few long moments, Eddie let out a soft sigh, closing his eyes and leaning his forehead onto Richie’s.

“I didn’t think it would feel like this,” he whispered without opening his eyes. “I thought this was just going to be… brief. A lot of flirting and maybe a few kisses but…”

“Not like this,” Richie finished for him, his warm breath on Eddie’s lips making him tremble a little.

Eddie nodded, wondering if Richie felt the same way at first. Before he could speak again, Richie started walking backwards into the deeper part where he knew Eddie couldn’t touch very well, leaving his only good option to hold onto him. It wasn’t like Eddie planned on letting go anyway. As soon as they were near to the wall, Eddie pulled away and looked into Richie’s eyes. They were burning with something. Something that Eddie knew somehow reflected in his own eyes. And maybe even in his heart too. It was amazing, what a difference eight days could make.

“Kiss me,” he breathed out.

Richie didn’t waste a single moment, leaning in to brush his lips over Eddie’s. It wasn’t much at first, just a simple, tender kiss. But it felt like everything, sending warmth running through his body and making him forget all about cold water and the day after tomorrow and overbearing mothers. All that mattered in this moment was this. Richie and Eddie. The world began and ended with them that night. It was all that he needed to know. Eddie pressed closer, lifting his legs to slowly wrap around Richie’s hips, causing the other boy to groan into the kiss.

The soft kisses turned to more, building until Richie’s tongue was stroking over his, his fingers dancing over his lower back, his hips rocking forward into Eddie’s. It wasn’t enough. There was something building deep in the pit of his belly but Eddie needed more. He felt frustrated at the lack of movement that the water’s resistance allowed them. He wanted Richie closer. He wanted nothing between them. He wanted every inch of the other pressed to his skin. Eddie didn’t want to part ways without knowing what it was like to have Richie completely surrounding him. To have him so close that they became one, if just for a few minutes. His very soul longed for it, even though he didn’t understand it.

“Richie,” he gasped out against his lips, his fingers digging into Richie’s shoulders.

“I know,” Richie murmured, kissing his way down Eddie’s throat. “I know, baby.”

He sounded just as affected, his breaths coming out in soft gasps against Eddie’s skin as he kissed and nipped at his most sensitive spots as if they were mapped out for him. With every touch of Richie’s lips, he grew more and more needy. Then Richie’s hands were gripping his hips a little harder and his hips were surging forward, grinding against Eddie’s slowly. The friction felt nice for just a moment, dragging a moan out of him, but then the frustration returned.

“It’s not going to work,” Eddie whined.

Richie made a noise of dissatisfaction, pulling away with a huff.

“Fuck,” he grumbled, looking into Eddie’s. “It’d be really sexy if it did.”

Eddie managed a smile, shaking his head.

“Where do you want to go?” he asked, his voice a little shaky with desperate desire.

“Not fucking far, that’s for sure.”

With that, Richie began moving over to the edge of the pool. Eddie knew instinctively what he wanted, hauling himself up and out of the pool. It was even colder standing in the cool night air, the breeze hitting his wet skin. Then Richie was there again, his hands gently cupping Eddie’s face so that he could kiss him again, and the heat returned. They stumbled over to a lounge chair, caring very little for the amount of weight they were meant to hold. Eddie laid back and Richie settled in the cradle of his hips. He was ready for more but their wet suits quickly offered another barrier, catching and shifting awkwardly in a way that offered no relief from the burning need.

“Fucking shit,” Eddie cursed, knocking his head back against the chair. “We’re cursed.”

Richie’s shoulders shook as he laughed at Eddie’s dramatics.

“Easy fix for that, babe,” he said, hooking his fingers in Eddie’s waistband.

His breath caught in his throat as Richie dragged them down, freeing his cock and tossing them away before doing the same with his own shorts. As beautiful as he looked before, Eddie was certain that there was little that compared to Richie right now. He sat up, pulling Richie down for a deep, passionate kiss that left them both breathless before they even really touched again. Then Richie was breaking away and looking into Eddie’s eyes as he wrapped his hand around his cock.

Eddie let out a moan, his head falling back as he shuddered at the feeling of Richie stroking him slowly, swiping his thumb over the tip. It wasn’t Eddie’s first time getting a hand job but it never felt quite like this. There wasn’t the warm affection in his chest for the person doing it. Somehow it gave it all a different sort of undercurrent. Usually Eddie would be happy to come this way but he wanted something more. Something no one had ever done before. He reached down, wrapping his hand around Richie’s wrist to stop him.

“I-I want…” he whispered, keeping his eyes at Richie’s chest.

Richie somehow sensed his hesitation, gently lifting his chin to look into his eyes.

“Whatever you want,” he said, his words a promise.

“I want you,” Eddie breathed, his stomach fluttering nervously. “All of you.”

Richie’s eyes widened a little bit and he swallowed hard.

“You sure?” he asked.

Eddie nodded quickly, never feeling more sure about something in his life.

“I want it to be you,” he said.

In that moment, it was hard to the think about the logistics. Luckily Richie had, apparently, prepared just in case this happened. Eddie watched with wide eyes as he pulled away, darting over to another lounge chair where his backpack said. A giggle rose up in his throat when he saw a stark naked Richie digging through to produce a small bottle of lube and a condom.

“Someone was eager,” Eddie said as Richie looked up at him, a flush staining his cheeks.

“I didn’t want to come unprepared,” he said with a shrug, crossing back over.

“No jokes about my mom? What happened to you?”

Eddie pretended to press a hand to Richie’s forehead and he swatted his hand away with a smirk.

“What can I say?” he asked, leaning over Eddie again to brush a kiss over his lips. “I’m a changed man. Eddie K’s lips have a way of doing that to a guy.”

Eddie shook his head, grinning at him.

“Ridiculous,” he said.

“Ridiculously handsome? Damn, you’re right,” Richie said, winking at him.

Before Eddie could fire back a response, Richie was laying him back on the lounge chair and whispering for him to get comfortable before nudging his thighs apart. It all felt incredibly exposed and Eddie wasn’t sure at all what he’d do if someone showed up now and found them like this. They were on a chair that was somewhat hidden in the shadow of a closed bar, so it wouldn’t be too easy to spot them. That was the only thing that kept him from stressing too much. Then Richie was stroking his cock again, slowly enough to make him forget all about anything else.

“Relax,” Richie murmured, popping the cap on the lube.

Eddie tried to do just that, breathing in and out slowly. Richie let out an approving hum, releasing him only to brush a slicked up finger over his hole a few moments later. Eddie let out a keening whine, arching his back a little into the simple touch. It was the first time anyone else had done something like this and it felt so much different. He could hardly breathe as Richie stroked around and around his hole, teasing him relentlessly. Then his finger pressed in just a little bit and Eddie sank his teeth into his lower lip, squeezing his eyes shut.

Richie took it slow, working him open with gentle care. He whispered out encouragements as he stroked and pressed in with the one finger, sliding it in and out until Eddie was trembling and rocking against him. Then he added a second, taking it even slower as Eddie gasped and thrusted his hips into the air. It felt incredible and Eddie didn’t think that anyone else could quite do this. It was all too much and yet not enough. He needed so much more but appreciated Richie’s calm, steady presence talking him through it, telling him that they needed to take it slow so that it felt good.

“I’ll make you feel so good, baby,” he said, crooking and scissoring his fingers.

Eddie nodded, his breaths coming out in short gasps as he rocked against Richie’s fingers. Then they moved and bent just right and he was crying out, a shock of pleasure running through him. Richie slowly rubbed at his prostate, making him whimper and writhe at the feeling before he pressed in a third finger to make sure he was stretched out enough. He didn’t touch that sweet spot, thrusting his fingers in and out quickly until Eddie gasped out that he needed more, that he was ready.

Richie pulled his fingers out, leaving him feeling achingly empty until he opened his eyes and watched as he applied the condom and slicked himself up with more lube than he probably needed. Eddie appreciated the effort, bringing Richie down for a kiss as he ran his fingers through his half-damp hair. Richie responded eagerly, holding Eddie’s hips as they kissed slowly and deeply, both feeling a little bit overwhelmed by it all. Richie pulled away, pressing his forehead to Eddie’s. They needed the moment to breathe each other in.

“I’m ready,” Eddie whispered, nodding at him. “I want you, Richie.”

“Fuck, I want you, Eds. I want you so bad.”

He took himself in hand, pressing in slowly as he kept talking.

“You’re so beautiful, you know? Fuck I could look at you forever. Just stare into those pretty eyes of yours.”

He pulled away, doing just that as he sank in inch-by-inch. Eddie looked back at him, anchoring himself in Richie’s gaze as he felt more filled than ever before. It wasn’t as uncomfortable as he expected. There was a little more of a stretch than with Richie’s fingers but on top of everything else, he felt whole. Like this filled a space in his heart that he didn’t know was missing. Eddie held Richie’s gaze until he bottomed out, pausing and breathing heavily as he stroked a thumb over Eddie’s hip.

“You’re doing so good, baby.”

“It feels right,” Edide whispered, holding onto Richie’s shoulders. “Does-does it feel like that for you too?”

Richie nodded quickly, propping himself up on shaking arms.

“Feels like we’re supposed to be like this,” he said.

Eddie swallowed against the lump that formed in his throat at the thought of losing this in a few days. He didn’t want to say goodbye. Tears stung at his eyes anyway and Richie let out a soft noise of protest, shaking his head.

“Don’t cry, baby,” he whispered.

“I don’t want to I just… I…” Eddie didn’t know what to say.

“I know,” Richie murmured, kissing away his tears.

He pulled out slowly and Eddie let out a shuddering breath as he pressed back in. Richie started with a gentle pace, thrusting into him with slow, deep strokes that had that tight coil of heat already building in his lower belly. Eddie knew that this wasn’t going to last long with emotions running high.

“I don’t want to lose you,” he said, his voice breaking.

“You won’t,” Richie said, kissing his throat as he moved just a little bit faster. “There’s always ways to make sure that doesn’t happen, okay?”

Eddie nodded, pressing his hands to Richie’s back. They moved together, grinding and thrusting as they chased their pleasure. Richie shifted his angle and brushed Eddie’s prostate with the tip of his cock every few thrusts, making him sob out his name as he stroked at his cock in sync with their thrusts. He felt his orgasm coming closer and closer, tossing his head back as his moans and whines filled the air.

“I-I’m close, Richie. I’m so… so close.”

“Come for me, Eds. I’ve got you,” Richie said, pressing kisses along his jaw.

Eddie let out a cry of his name into the air as he came over his stomach. Richie moved just a little faster, chasing his own orgasm as Eddie rode out his peak. The quicker pace made it stretch out until he was shaking from overstimulation. Richie finally came with a groan, burying his face in Eddie’s hair. They stayed like that, breathing heavily as Eddie’s hands stroked over Richie’s back. Then he was pulling out and peeling off the condom without going far as Eddie pressed kisses over his shoulders. He cleaned them both up with a conveniently nearby towel, promising he would take it back to his room to rinse it out before leaving it for a poor maid to pick up.

“Do you want to go back in the water?” Richie asked.

Eddie shook his head, looking up at him.

“I want you to hold me.”

They moved around, Richie laying back on the chair as Eddie laid over his chest, another towel draped over their hips. It was impossible to know how long they laid there, talking about inane things and soaking up one another’s presence. Richie walked Eddie all the way to his door, pressing a lingering kiss to his lips before he walked away. When Eddie climbed into bed, knowing he’d be sore in the morning and not caring, he let his silent tears soak into the pillow now that no one was there to stop them.

*

They spent as much time as they could together all the way up until it was literally time for Eddie to drive way. Sonia looked like she might say something when Richie met Eddie at the front of the hotel. But her sisters pulled her away to discuss plans for the drive back and Eddie shot them all a grateful look before turning to a sullen-looking Richie.

“This is bullshit,” he said, stroking his thumb over Eddie’s cheek.

“I know,” Eddie said, letting his head fall to Richie’s chest.

He didn’t cry this time. He didn’t want the last sight of Richie to be blurred by tears. Eddie simply let his hands wrap around Richie’s waist, loosely fisted in his t-shirt. Richie pressed a kiss to the top of his head, breathing him in as he cradled the back of his head gently.

“I’m serious,” he said, sounding a little choked up. “We’ll keep in touch, yeah? I’ll text you so much you’ll get bored of me. That way you won’t miss me at all.”

Eddie choked out a laugh, shaking his head.

“Impossible,” he declared.

“I don’t know. I can be pretty annoying when I want to,” Richie said.

“I know that,” Eddie said, rolling his eyes as he looked up at him. “But it’s not a bad thing.”

Richie grinned down at him.

“You’re something else, Eddie K.”

“You too, Trashmouth.”

They both laughed, finding happiness in the moment even though it was incredibly sad at the heart of it.

“NYU will just have to put up with my divided attention,” Eddie said, playing with the collar of Richie’s ridiculous Hawaiian shirt. “I’m not losing you.”

Richie froze, staring down at him with wide eyes. Eddie frowned at him, wondering what inspired this reaction.

“Wha-”

He cut off with a muffled noise of surprise as Richie was suddenly kissing him. It was lingering and sweet and, much to Eddie’s surprise, Richie was grinning against his lips. Then he pulled away, his eyes shining with joy as he stared  down at Eddie.

“What was that?” Eddie asked, his eyes wide.

“You’re going to NYU,” Richie said.

“Yeah,” Eddie said slowly.

Richie let out a giddy laugh, shaking his head.

“I’m going to Tisch.”

Eddie let the words sink in slowly, almost unable to believe them. Surely they would know if they were going to college in the same city. But…

“We never asked,” he groaned, shaking his head in disbelief. “We never asked what colleges we were going to.”

Richie leaned in, kissing him again. Eddie responded eagerly this time, the meaning behind the revelation settling in. This wasn’t goodbye. This was a beginning. He could almost cry from relief. Eddie clutched at Richie and kissed him deeply and passionately, pouring emotion into every brush of their lips and stroke of their tongue until he heard a throat loudly clear behind them. Time was up. Eddie pulled away slowly, gazing up into Richie’s eyes.

“I’m not saying goodbye,” he said quietly.

“Good,” Richie said, smiling tenderly. “I’ll see you in New York.”

Edide let out a giddy laugh of his own, nodding his head.

“I’ll see you in New York.”

They shared a tight hug before pulling away. Eddie climbed into the back of his mom’s car, turning his head to watch Richie as soon as his seat belt was buckled. He didn’t need the last glimpse of him, not with the hope he had in his heart now, but it sure didn’t hurt. He waved goodbye, knowing it would only be a matter of weeks before they saw one another again. It turned out that he was, in fact, right.

This vacation was definitely not boring.