"Hey, Richie," Eddie mutters, "I think... I think I know this place."
A rusted car sits at the bottom of a dip in the floor of the woods, just a couple of minutes away from the Losers' underground clubhouse. The car might have been red at one point in time, but the paint is scratched away now by what looked like years of abandonment in such an unforgiving environment.
"What the fuck are you talking about, Eddie? It's a fucking car," Richie replies, the same snark in his voice that is ever present shining through, only right now, it's diluted. "I don't know why I followed your suggestion to stick in groups anyway. All the others split up, just like Mike told us."
In an uncharacteristic show of assertiveness, Eddie takes a step toward the rusted car, down the dip. Richie watches as the man takes step after step, descending through the whispering ground, which makes him shiver as a sense memory appears and then evaporates. He doesn't examine it too closely.
Asthma inhaler in hand, Eddie takes step by tentative step, pulling him further and lower through the rustling leaves. He looks back at Richie, only to see how the light filters through the trees and illuminates his dark brown hair. It makes the man look like an angel, but the glare of the sunlight reflecting off his glasses reminds him that it's just Richie. It's just stupid Richie, and Eddie is going to explore the car and see if he gets his damned artifact so he can meet the gang back in Mike's hole of a library.
"You're being too quiet, Rich. Make some noise or something," Eddie calls softly over his shoulder. The silence is so charged he can barely stand it, and he needs more than the rustle of dead leaves to make it go away.
In reply, Richie starts following Eddie. It's a funny kind of role reversal, but it feels natural. Usually, it's Eddie following Richie into some dumb escapade, and usually he’s complaining the entire time.
"What if the car's just a car, huh? I swear on your mother's cum stained sheets that I will say 'I told you so'," Richie snipes. Eddie laughs, and it's a sputtered sound, clearly undercutting whichever indignant comeback he intended to throw back. Everything is right in the world.
The door of the car is jammed, so Eddie climbs in through the broken window, any gripes about catching tetanus quelled when he lands ass-first on the passenger seat. There's no seatbelt, which he already knows, even though he's faintly confused about how he knows that. He shuffles over to the driver's seat, and beckons Richie to enter the car the same way.
"What happened to killer diseases, Eddie? Christ, you got your inhaler? If this is some delayed reaction shit, I really don't want to haul your convulsing body outta there to the fucking hospital. It's fucking ages from here," Richie says, but there's an underlying tenderness to his words that takes away the venom that they'd convey on their own. He climbs in head first, and as a result he lands upside down, calves slapping against the headrest and his forehead hitting the floor with a loud thunk . The two thuds send a strike of panicked laughter through Eddie, and Richie scowls at him, unused to being the butt of the joke but secretly liking it anyway.
You only like it because it's Eddie , his internal monologue whispers, and the evaporated sense memory of a couple minutes ago comes back even stronger. It's a warmth on the right side of his head and most of his torso, with tendrils snaking around to his back. It almost feels like a hug. His lips burn like fire, and he licks them before righting himself so he's actually sat on the car seat.
"What now, dipshit?" Richie asks, turning his head to look at Eddie, only to find the other man flushed, with two light pink spots high on his cheeks.
"I, uh... Let's just sit here for a while and see, okay? Not everything came back at once at the restaurant, so the logic follows that it wouldn't come back here all at once, either," Eddie answers, actively avoiding Richie's eyes.
The truth is, everything had rushed back like a wayward stone hit a dam in a river, causing it to break completely and inviting an influx of water to cascade down the land, as soon as he got in the damned drivers seat.
Both of them on the hammock in the Losers' clubhouse at the same time, ostensibly because Eddie wanted his turn on it but Richie wouldn't get off, but really because he wanted to be closer to the other boy in any way he could. Richie touching his leg when they were both settled onto it. Them trekking through the woods alone in the pouring rain, finding the car (less rusted than it is now) and breaking the window of the passengers’ side to get into it. Eddie in the drivers’ seat and Richie in the passenger seat, staring at each other.
Their first kiss, under the white noise din of rain hitting the car roof, both of them soaked but sharing the moisture. Eddie holding Richie in his arms as they kissed and kissed and kissed until their lips were sore.
"Has anything come back for you?" Eddie's voice croaks, seemingly of its own volition separate to the will of his brain. He can see the place on Richie's cheekbone he used to run his thumb over when they kissed, now flat and masculine instead of chubby and pubescent.
The other man is staring at his hands on the steering wheel, like he's transfixed by his fingers, still soft and delicate even in his mid-30s. Richie blushes a pretty colour, Eddie remembers, and he can see it returning now.
"That depends," Richie almost whispers, "What came back for you?" The question is open ended on purpose, just in case the memory of them intertwined, with Eddie calling the shots for once and Richie following him, was fabricated by Pennywise as a taunt. His voice sounds desperate, like he's trying not to scream with all the returned feelings that flooded his brain. Eddie would know. He's in the same position.
Slowly, like Richie is a wild animal that Eddie doesn’t want to scare away, he cups the other man’s face, his eyes flitting across it to detect any hint of discomfort. He doesn’t find any. Richie licks his lips again, but it’s subconscious this time.
“What, I gotta wait forever?” Richie drawls, and closes the gap himself, and closes his eyes, and opens his lips, and lets himself kiss and be kissed by Eddie.
Eddie, the boy he loved in middle school, and the man he could grow to love now. Eddie, the neurotic hypochondriac who has more endearing qualities than Richie can count.
Eddie pulls away just slightly, so their lips are just barely touching and they are breathing the same air. He waits until Richie opens his eyes so he can stare right into them as he says, “Beep beep, Richie.”
“Oh, you fucking idiot,” Richie laughs, a loud guffaw that Eddie doesn’t doubt could be heard by everyone else in Derry, but that he’d like to believe is private, just for him. He reconnects their lips, and smiles as he takes control of the kiss, and feels a sense of warm satisfaction as Richie lets him.