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Love is a Four Letter Word... So is Fear

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Richie and Eddie were in Eddie’s room as Mrs. Kaspbrak slept like the dead in the recliner downstairs. They were doing homework, or rather… Eddie was doing homework and Richie was distracting him. Eddie finally gave up and closed his math book with a sigh.

 

“We have to get this shit done in two days asshole.” Eddie complained.

 

“Exactly. Two whole days so why fuck with it now?” Richie shrugged, “Come on Eds… it’s a Friday night! We should be doing something fun! We could play a game?”

 

“Fine, Truth or Dare?” Eddie looked up at him and crossed his arms.

 

Richie scoffed, “I meant at the arcade or even a board game. Not… not something stupid like-”

 

“You never want to play that.” Eddie pointed out, crossing his arms.

 

“Because it’s fucking stupid Eds! We’re too old for-”

 

“You’re scared.” Eddie cut Richie off with a voice cold and hard like ice.

 

“Scared? Of fucking what?” Richie became defensive immediately.

 

“Scared I’ll find out your secret… your dirty little secret .” Eddie’s face suddenly morphed into Pennywise’s and he let out a manic laugh, “You’re scared of who you are… and of being alone once we all find out… and of heartbreak when I reject you.” The laughter grew louder as the clown sang, " I know your seeeecret! Your dirty little seeeeeecret!"

 

Richie jerked awake, his heart pounding as he pushed his hands down on the mattress to sit up. He shoved his glasses on and looked around his dark bedroom, taking slow breaths to ground himself before he stood and went into the bathroom. He took a shaky breath as he turned on the faucet, his hands trembling. Richie splashed cool water onto his face. "It's not real. It isn't real." He whispered through gritted teeth before looking up into the mirror for a long moment, seeing just how pale and shaken he was from the nightmare. He looked away and turned off the light, retreating back to his bedroom. They killed that fucking clown four years ago, why did it still get to Richie? Did the others have nightmares? Or was it just Richie’s gay panic? He closed his eyes and grabbed the cigarettes and lighter from his drawer before lighting one with shaking fingers. The clown was dead. Eddie doesn’t know. No one knows. It’s fine. He took a long drag from the cigarette as he shoved open his window, blowing smoke outside as he glanced around the dark neighborhood, illuminated by the moon and streetlights. Everything was too still and calm for the amount of panic thundering in Richie's chest. He flicked the ashes out the window and took another drag and he leaned outside his window a bit, craning his neck a little to see the Kaspbrak house. He could see the light from the tv through the living room window as usual, but the light upstairs was on too. Eddie's room. Richie took another drag before it was decided. He was going over there. Fuck that clown. They fought him and won, telling Eddie the truth was nothing in comparison, and maybe Richie would finally be able to move on. The weight he carried daily, the anxiety and fear of Eddie finding out- he couldn't take it anymore. He tossed the cigarette butt out the window before closing it and pulling on his shoes, not caring that he was in his ratty old pajamas. He climbed down the stairs, not bothering with being quiet. His parents didn't give a fuck if he was sneaking out, why hide it? He shut the door behind himself and walked over to Eddie's, full of determination. He climbed up to Eddie's window and looked inside. Eddie had homework covering his bed, and he was lying in an uncomfortable position, using a book as a pillow. Richie knocked on the window, grinning as Eddie jerked awake in surprise. Eddie scowled over to him and opened the window.

 

"What the fuck are you doing here?" The usual fire in Eddie's voice was dulled by the slight slur, and sleepy eyes. He stepped back so Richie could climb in.

 

"I couldn't sleep." Richie crawled in and shrugged, "Saw your light on and assumed you couldn't either. Shoulda known you fell asleep with the lights on." He spoke in a falsetto, intended to be motherly voice, "Eds can't stay up past his bedtime."

 

Eddie scoffed, and slowly but during the fire was coming back to full power, "I was awake past 1 doing homework Richie, which is well past my bedtime!" Eddie watched as Richie climbed in, "And that voice was terrible."

 

Richie grinned, "So you do have a bedtime." He reached out and pinched Eddie's cheeks, "That's so adorable Eds!"

 

Eddie shoved Richie away and huffed, "I hate when you do that. Why'd you wake me up?"

 

"If you were sleeping peacefully I might have left but you looked far from comfortable. We need our Eddie to get good sleep or he's more of a bitch than normal." Richie started to neatly pile up the papers on the bed.

 

"Fuck you I'm not- I'm drowning in homework right now I don't have the liberty of not caring about my grades like some people, Trashmouth." He snatched the papers away, "What do you want Rich? Why'd you come here so late, really?"

 

Here it was. This was Richie's opportunity to tell Eddie everything. But as he looked into Eddie's tired, yet curious eyes...he deflated.

 

"Nothin' Eds. Like I said I just couldn't sleep." Richie shrugged, "Thought I might sneak over and get some blackmail of you and Jenny Wilson together." He wiggled his eyebrows.

 

Eddie blushed and huffed, "That's sick."

 

"I'm not saying I'd enjoy the show of you two uggos bumping uglies, I'd just have blackmail." Richie teased.

 

"What do you have against Jenny? She's actually really pretty.."

 

You thinking she's pretty.

 

"What? I have to hope I haven't eaten lately when I see her face because I just-" he gagged.

 

Eddie lightly shoved him, "You're full of shit. I think you like her but instead of manning up and telling her you make fun of her because you're too fucking chicken to face rejection."

 

Richie physically flinched at just how close Eddie was to the truth, "Jenny? No…" he shook his head, "And ya can't steal your friend's girl anyways. She's alright, but I have to rip on her to fuck with you."

 

Eddie paused, "You really think.." he actually laughed, "I help Jenny with her math homework that's literally it." 

 

"Of course I thought so, may I direct your attention to this entire conversation!" Richie rolled his eyes.

 

"I thought you were just fucking around like with Ben and Beverly!" Eddie shrugged. 

 

Richie pinched the bridge of his nose, "Ben and Bev are dating! So yeah, exactly like that, dumbass!" Richie sighed and put an arm around Eddie's shoulder, "Its good you're pretty because your fuckin brains won't get you anywhere."

 

Eddie shoved him off and finished clearing off the bed, "So... you don't like Jenny?"

 

Richie snorted and plopped down onto a clear space on the bed, "Fuck no!"

 

"Well.. I may have given her the opposite impression.." Eddie confessed sheepishly, "I really thought you did because of all of the teasing and... she asks about you a lot…"

 

Richie's shoulders dropped a little, "You're such an idiot-"

 

"I realize that!" Eddie replied with an indignant huff, "I just thought-"

 

"She's not gonna start sending me love notes or anything right?"

 

"Of course not." Eddie crossed his arms and looked down, "She's… gonna ask you to the dance next weekend-"

 

"What!?"

 

"-and she's really nice so if you could just let her down easy or- go with her as a friend!"

 

"What? Eddie I'm not going to some stupid fucking dance with a girl I don't like because you fucked up! You go with her as a friend ! Besides I'm already taking your mom Eds." Richie leaned back against the pillows.

 

Eddie clenched his fists, "You are not taking my mom she's chaperoning!"

 

Richie winked over at him, "We needed a cover story."

 

Eddie sighed, "Rich.. come on. Please?"

 

"What if I have a date already? Or someone I wanna ask? And Eds.. I don't like the girl! Me going with her isn't gonna change that."

 

Eddie sat down beside Richie, "Do you have someone you want to ask?" 

 

Richie couldn't meet his eyes, "Doesn't matter Eds... You were spot on about everything except who. I'm a pussy ass coward with rejection. Happy?"

 

"No.." Eddie light bumped Richie's shoulder with his, "You should still let her down easy, Trashmouth… and whoever it is.. I think you should just ask. What's the worst that could happen?"

 

Richie looked over at him with a look that clearly stated: Are you fucking kidding me?

 

Eddie held up his hands in surrender, "Alright, fine… but at least you'd finally know."

 

That's what Richie had been telling himself on the way here. He'd be able to get rid of the anxiety even if he got rejected… but what would happen to their friendship? Richie was quiet for a long moment before he spoke, "Some things are better left unsaid. I'll see you in school tomorrow, Eddie Spaghetti." He ruffled the smaller teen's hair and stood, climbing out the window without another word. 

Chapter Text

“You look like shit, Trashmouth.”

 

Richie had been in a daze. The lit cigarette burning down between his fingers as he stared down at his feet. Was Eddie going to ask him about last night? Was fucking Jenny seriously going to ask him out? And he had to let her down easy ? The easiest he could let her down was to be honest… he’s gay. He’s not interested. But he can’t say that! He chewed on his bottom lip, not noticing Beverly walking over until he heard her voice. He jumped and dropped the cigarette, which was mostly ash by that point anyways. “Fuck, Marsh- give a guy some warning!” He looked over to her.

 

Her eyebrows disappeared behind her bangs as they rose, “You okay, Rich?” She frowned, lighting her own cigarette.

 

“I’m fine Bev.” He forced a smile and lit another cigarette of his own since he wasted the last one, “So you and Ben? I dunno Bevvie he seems too tender for you. I think-”

 

“Beep Beep Richie.” She interrupted before taking a drag.

 

“Already? I barely got to my point-”

 

“What’s wrong with you?” She interrupted, “Are your parents-”

 

“It’s not about them Bev… I mean, same ol’ same ol’ there no improvements but… I’m adjusted to it.” He took a long drag and went quiet before he looked over to her, “Do you… do you ever have nightmares about… about...”

 

“Pennywise?” She asked softly, putting a hand on his shoulder gently, “Rich… of course I do. We all do. Fuck, we need therapy for the shit we went through that summer.”

 

Richie looked a little relieved, “Thank fuck. I mean- I’m not glad you have nightmares I’m just glad it doesn’t make me a bitch still having them after four fuckin’ years..”

 

She smiled a little but studied him for a moment and decided to push a little, “There’s more… isn’t there?”

 

“What? No I just lost a lot of fuckin’ sleep last night.” He took another drag.

 

She sighed, “You know… you always deflect to me and Ben when something... has to do with Eddie..” She spoke softly and carefully.

 

“Fuck you, no I don’t.” Richie’s shoulders tensed.

 

She sighed, gentle wasn’t doing it and Richie torturing himself had to end, “Yeah? Because you like to call out how Ben stares at me in classes, as if you don’t do the exact same thing with-”

 

“Beep fucking beep Beverly.” Richie pushed himself off of the fence and moved to walk away.

 

Beverly gently reached out and grabbed his wrist, “Richie it’s okay-”

 

Richie yanked his arm away as if it’d been burned, “You don’t fucking know what you’re talking about!”

 

Ben walked over and frowned, “Guys what’s-”

 

‘Gay panic.’  Beverly mouthed to Ben, who nodded in understanding.

 

Richie’s blood ran cold. They’ve talked about this? Just these two or all of them? Is that what they did when he wasn’t around? Talk about how deep in the closet he is!? “Fuck you!” he spat at Beverly before rounding onto Ben, “Fuck both of you! Fuck all of you!” his voice cracked He turned and almost ran straight into Bill.

 

“R-Rich-”

 

“Fuck you too!” Richie shoved past him and started walking home.

 

“Should we.. Should we go talk to him?” Ben asked

 

“Let’s give him some space.” Beverly replied, wiping at her eyes.

 

 Fuck school today, fuck it this week for all he cared! They knew- they fucking knew and they talked about it behind his back! It was a joke to them! Tears stung his eyes as he slammed the front door closed behind him and jogged quickly up the stairs. He slammed his bedroom door closed too and leaned against it, letting himself slide down to the floor as the tears began slipping from his eyes. He stayed there for a while, hugging his knees as painful sobs shook his body. By the time the tears stopped he had a massive headache and he felt weak… physically and otherwise. He pushed himself off of the floor and went to the bathroom, grabbing some ibuprofen from the medicine cabinet. As he closed it he looked at himself in the mirror. His eyes were red and puffy, and his glasses had tear marks all over them from his eyelashes. If he looked like shit earlier, he looked a hundred times worse now. He took off his glasses and washed his face before he wiped his lenses off with his shirt, then shoved them back on. He still looked like shit. He walked downstairs and got a glass of water to swallow the pills, freezing when he saw Eddie walk past the window. He couldn’t be-

 

There were three loud knocks, “Richie!” Eddie’s voice was muffled through the door.

 

“Fuck!” he whispered, setting the pill bottle and water down.

 

“Richie open the door!”

 

“Hold your fuckin’ horses!” Richie snapped. He walked over to the door and opened it, “What?”

 

Eddie frowned, “You really do look like shit..”

 

“Thanks. What do you want?” Richie left the door open and walked over to the table, opening the bottle and taking two ibuprofen.

 

Eddie hesitated before stepping inside, “They said you were at school but you looked.. Pretty awful… I just.. Wanted to make sure you were okay.”

 

Richie scoffed, “Well I’m fantastic Eds. Go to school.”

 

Eddie frowned, “My first class is Study hall, asshole… are you running a fever?” he reached up to feel Richie’s forehead.

 

Richie knocked his hand away, “No I just have a headache. Hence the pills. I’ve got this go-”

 

“Will you stop being a dick? I came to make sure you’re okay, I get that you’re sick but you don’t have to-”

 

“I’m sorry.” Richie cut him off, “I’m sorry I just… I feel really shitty and I just want to lay down and die… you didn’t have to come though… but I do appreciate it.” More than you know.

 

“They seemed… really worried. I wanted to make sure you don't need to go to the hospital or something.” Eddie replied, “Be honest with me, Rich… when’s the last time you ate?”

 

Richie looked down at the worn, stained carpet, “Lunch..yesterday.”

 

Eddie nodded, “That could be part of the problem. I’m making you soup. Do you guys have any?”

 

“If we have any soup it’s probably been expired for three years.”

 

Eddie nodded, “Okay. I’m gonna go home and-”

 

“No, No Eds you don’t have to-”

 

“I know I don’t, asshole. I want to help.” He looked up at Richie and spoke more softly, “I’ll be right back.. Okay?”

 

Richie nodded a little. He didn’t have the strength to fight Eddie on this right now.

 

Eddie smiled a little at his easy victory and left. He ran home and grabbed a can of tomato soup. He thought for a moment and grabbed the loaf of bread and cheese before running back to Richie’s.

 

Richie changed into pajamas while Eddie was gone, because if he was going to feel shitty and miserable, he was at least going to be comfortable. He let Eddie in when he got back and quirked an eyebrow, “I thought you were just grabbing soup, how many people are we fuckin’ feeding?”

 

Eddie flushed, “I.. I thought you might want grilled cheese and… I’m gonna leave the bread and cheese here so you… so you have something.”

 

Richie felt warmth rising in his chest, “Eds-”

 

“No, fuck you. It’s already done I’m not taking it back.” He looked up to Richie with fire in his eyes. He was not backing down.

 

Richie nodded a little, “Okay, okay… thank you.” he added softly.

 

Eddie nodded and got to work in the kitchen which took fully scrubbing every dish he’d use and the entire stove. He might be a hypochondriac but even Richie would have gone that far, the kitchen, like much of the house, was in bad shape. As Eddie cooked, Richie sat on the counter beside the stove and watched him. Of course they all fucking know… just look at you . When he finished the two ate upstairs in Richie’s room, which wasn’t the cleanest but it surpassed the standards for the rest of the house.

After they’d finished eating and Eddie took the dishes downstairs, Richie laid down. Eddie came back and sat beside him.

 

 Richie glanced over at his alarm clock, “Shit Eds, you’re gonna be late-”

 

“It’s fine, Rich… I’m never late one time isn’t the end of the world.” He shrugged.

 

“Aren’t you afraid I’m gonna get you sick?” Richie asked.

 

“I doubt you’re contagious, but if you do I expect the exact amount of care you’re receiving.” Eddie joked.

 

Richie huffed, “Yeah, like your mom would let me near you ever again if she found out I got you sick.”

 

Eddie smiled a little, “I’d just blame it on public schooling…” He scrunched his nose, “Nevermind she’s already on the verge of trying to homeschool me.”

 

Richie snorted and closed his eyes, “Eds?”

 

Eddie rolled his eyes at the name but looked down at him, “Hmm?”

 

“Thank you… for taking care of me when I’m sick… my parents-”

 

“I know Rich..” Eddie said quietly, “My mom does too much, your parents do too little… maybe they should hang out. Maybe that would even them all the fuck out.” He slid a hand into Richie’s hair, gently running his hand through it. Even though his mother annoyed the hell out of him, when she did this it always helped him sleep when he was younger… maybe it would help Richie. The taller boy was right though, he was going to be late. He just… wanted to see that Richie was getting some rest before he left.

 

Richie felt himself relax at the touch. He wanted to tell Eddie to go back to school, he was fine now. But with Eddie’s hand in his hair he was already drifting off to sleep.

Chapter Text

Richie woke up a couple hours after Eddie left, rubbing his eyes as he squinted around the room. He didn’t remember taking his glasses off. Eddie must’ve… Richie’s cheeks reddened a little as he put his glasses on and looked at the clock. It was getting close to lunchtime. He knew Eddie probably wouldn’t risk being late to another class but… he couldn’t help but hope he’d walk over to check on him during lunch. Despite knowing how unlikely it was, he found himself getting out of bed and going downstairs to wait in the living room just in case . He sat on the couch and tapped his fingertips lightly on the armrest as he waited. This was stupid. He was being stupid. Eddie wasn’t coming. As sure as he was of this though, he didn’t move from the couch, and he waited. Just in case. After a while he got bored and decided to at least watch tv to occupy himself as he waited. He turned it on and flipped through the channels before he heard three sharp knocks on the door. He barely made a dent hiding the big grin on his face as he walked over the door and opened the door, “Eds you-” his grin vanished as quickly as it had come as he saw Beverly on the other side of the door… not Eddie. “What the fuck do you want?” he made no move to let her inside.

 

Beverly sighed and held a cigarette out to him, “Hear me out?”



Richie might have said no… but he’d smoked his last cigarette earlier. “It’ll cost you two more.”

 

“Hear me out first.”

 

Richie sighed and took the cigarette, stepping back to let her in before he lead her upstairs to his room. He opened the window and sat on the bed, lighting the cigarette she gave him.

 

Beverly lit one for herself and sat down beside him, looking over to him as he took a long drag, “Eddie wanted to come but he has classwork to make up because for some reason he missed half of our second period class together.”

 

Richie shrugged, “I don’t care.”

 

Beverly sighed, “Rich… you do. And that’s-”

 

“Stop. Just fucking stop. You don’t- You’re just assuming- and telling everyone about it and you- you’re wrong. I don’t… I’m not…”

 

She gently put a hand on his shoulder, “First of all, I’m not going around telling the whole school-”

 

“No you’re just having a fucking laugh over it with our friends- fuck you. I don’t want the other two just go-”

 

“For God’s sake Richie!” she flicked her ashes irritably, “We aren’t getting together behind your back making fun of you. You should know better than that. When you and Eddie aren’t there, does it come up sometimes? Yeah. And it’s not… Richie I’m not the only one that sees it clear as fucking day. We all, except maybe Eddie, know. And you haven’t been ready to talk about it… any time we’ve talked about it was.. Us trying to find out how to get you to talk about it. Richie none of us care if you like boys too-”

 

“I don’t.” Richie flicked his ashes so hard he nearly dropped the cigarette.

 

“Rich..”

 

“I don’t-” his voice cracked a little.

 

“Hon-”

 

“I don’t like boys.. Too.” his hands started to shake just as much as his voice, “I don’t… I don’t… like girls… at all.” he added quietly.

 

Beverly gently rubbed his back, “And that’s okay Richie… none of us care-”

 

“It’s not okay!” Richie wiped his eyes roughly, “If… If I liked both I could… I could pretend to be normal and.. And it would be okay. But I’m..” he trailed off, not ready to officially put it into words.

 

Beverly pulled him down into a hug, “Shh… there’s nothing wrong with being gay, Richie… and there’s nothing wrong with how you feel for Eddie…”

 

Richie hugged her tightly and buried his face in her shoulder, “I wish… I wish that were true Bev… but it’s not okay here. I get hell and I’m not even out.”

 

“Derry is a small town with small minded people…” She replied softly, “The rest of the world is bigger and more open, Rich. There is nothing wrong with who you are… and in Derry you have your friends. None of us care if you’re gay. We love you no matter what. If you’re awful voices and your trashmouth haven’t run us off, nothing will.” She teased gently.

 

Richie laughed weakly and spoke in a thick southern accent, “Oh please, darlin’ ya love ma’ voices!”

 

Beverly snorted, “Some of them have gotten better…” she pulled back and gently ruffled his curled mess of hair, “We love you Richie… that comes with the voices… with the lewd jokes… with you being gay.”

 

Richie looked down and nodded a little, taking a long drag from his cigarette, “I.. I’m sorry for earlier I-”

 

“It’s okay, Richie… I shouldn’t have pushed so much I just…” She sighed and gently cupped his cheek, “It hurts me to see you torturing yourself every single day…”

 

Richie leaned into her palm and nodded a little, “Hasn’t been a fuckin’ picnic for me either.”

 

Beverly nodded, “I know… for what it’s worth.. I think you should tell him.”

 

Richie stiffened beside her.

 

“Not today!” she added quickly, “Baby steps… you haven’t even…said you’re gay yet. But when you get more adjusted to your friends knowing about that… and being able to feel comfortable with it… I think you should.” she took two cigarettes out of her pack and put them on Richie’s nightstand, “The guys were talking about camping in the woods behind Stan’s house tonight… you should come. Eddie’s already planning to say he’s going to be staying inside the house, and his mom likes Stan at least.” She rolled her eyes playfully before standing, “I should get back..”

 

Richie nodded and stood, hugging her tightly. She hugged back and the two of them stood there for a long moment hugging before he pulled back. “Thank you..”

 

Beverly smiled and lightly flicked his cheek, “Anytime, Trashmouth.” She headed downstairs and let herself out.

 

Richie sat back down on the bed and took a slow breath. They knew… they all knew… and they didn’t want to abandon him. They still wanted to be his friend. Richie felt a little lighter as he descended the stairs and went to the kitchen, making himself a grilled cheese for lunch. Afterwards he went upstairs and grabbed his old sleeping bag, a pillow, and a change of clothes. It was finally getting warm enough to camp outside again, and Richie was not missing out. Though, he did lay back down to get some rest, which led to oversleeping.

 

His glasses were askew on his face when he opened his eyes and glanced over to the clock. 5:34 pm “Fuck!” he sat up and put his shoes on quickly, grabbing his backpack and his sleeping bag before running out of the room and down the stairs. He didn’t stop running until he almost smacked right into one of the tents. He dropped the sleeping bag and held his hands on his knees as he gasped for breaths.

 

“Fuck! I’m late…” He took in another breath of air, “But I fucking made it!”

 

“Hey E-E-Eddie? Sti-Still got that inhaler?” Bill laughed.

 

“F-F-Fuck you Bill.” Richie replied snarkily.

 

“See? Told ya he’d come.” Beverly grinned and patted Richie on the back.

 

Eddie frowned in concern, “Should you be out here if you’re sick?”

 

“It was just.. A headache Eds.” Richie stood up straight, now that he could almost properly breathe, “Besides my nurse ditched me.” 

 

Eddie rolled his eyes, “Then make yourself useful and help me find some fucking sticks for a fire.”

 

Richie fell dramatically on the ground, “I can’t! I am far too sick to help in any way that requires manual labor! I’m so sorry Eds I wish I could help but-ow!”

 

Eddie watched Richie fall and huffed, lightly kicking Richie’s thigh, “Get up!”

 

“Abuse! You all saw it he hurt me! Now I’m fatally injured I can’t-ah!”

 

Eddie dropped the sticks he was holding and grabbed Richie’s hands, jerking him up to stand.

 

The sudden movement didn’t give Richie much time to catch his balance so he fell right into Eddie, almost knocking them both onto the ground, but Ben stepped in to catch them both.

 

“Easy!” Ben let go once he was sure they wouldn’t fall.

 

“Jesus Eddie, if it weren’t for Haystack you’d end up camping out in a fuckin’ hospital.” Richie snorted.

 

“You wouldn’t have crushed me.” Eddie rolled his eyes, “Help me find more fuckin’ sticks now asshole.”

 

Richie walked with him to find more, “No, but one bruise and your mom would throw you in a hospital.”

 

“You’re exaggerating.” Eddie picked up a few sticks.

 

“Yes, but only very slightly, Eds.” Richie bent down and picked up a few as well.

 

Once they were a distance away from everyone, Eddie looked over to him, “Rich, if you really still feel like shit-”

 

“I’m fine, Eds.. I was given the finest care imaginable. I even ate twice today.” Richie lightly bumped Eddie’s shoulder with his, “I’m feeling a lot better.”

 

Eddie nodded, “Okay.. if you start feeling bad-”

 

“I’ll stay out here anyways because it’s better than being at home.” Richie said quietly before moving back toward the rest of the group, “If we don’t have the stuff for s’mores I’m officially cancelling my friendship with all of you… except for Bev if she has an extra pack of cigs because I ran all the way here.”

 

Beverly snorted and tossed him a pack.

 

“My hero.” Richie swooned, “Seriously though, about the s’mores-”

 

“The chocolate is at Stan’s so it doesn’t melt before we need it. It would be ‘too messy’.” Ben air quoted, and lightly smiled at Stanley good naturedly. 

 

“Yanno the fuckin’ chocolate’s going to melt when it touches the scalding hot marshmallow goop right?” Richie snorted and sat in the chair beside Eddie’s, “Where’s Mikey?”

 

“He should be here soon, but he can’t stay. He has to wake up early in the morning.” Stan replied.

 

Richie used the southern accent from earlier, “Oh tha’s right we got us a fahm bwoy!”

 

“That voice gets worse every time you use it.” Mike huffed and walked over, plopping into the empty chair beside Stan.

 

Richie placed a hand over his heart and spoke in a falsetto voice, “Your words are like knives piercing my heart! In all of my sixteen years I have never experienced such pain!”

 

They all laughed a little before Ben and Bill got started on the fire. The sun was starting to go down, and aside from their flashlights they’d need the fire to see. Stan and Mike left to go get the chocolate. Once the fire was going and the sun had set, they were each putting marshmallows on their sticks. Eddie stuck his in the fire, and didn’t take it out soon enough, so it melted and fell right into the fire. Richie snorted a little and gave Eddie his marshmallow before he put another in the fire. There was idle chatter until each of the Losers were too busy eating their s’mores to talk. Richie finished his quickly and glanced around at everyone. He killed a fucking demon clown with these people. Who could he trust if not all of them?

 

Richie cleared his throat, “Uh..guys?… and gal.” He glanced over to Beverly, who gave him a nod of encouragement. Richie froze up for a second when all eyes were on him. He should have just said it, with everyone looking at him it was going to be so much harder. He tried not to look at Eddie but he couldn’t help himself when he heard his voice.

 

“What Rich?” He asked.

 

Richie looked down and fumbled with the pack of cigarettes to get it open. He pulled one out and fidgeted with it before glancing over to Eddie, “I fucked your mom.” He stood to light the cigarette so he wouldn’t be getting smoke in Eddie’s face, but his hands were shaking too much for him to light the damn thing.

 

Instead of getting annoyed as usual, Eddie looked confused. There was a collective eye roll among the group and Richie’s hands wouldn’t stop shaking. No, fuck it. He was doing this now.

 

“Which... is kinda weird…” He pushed himself on, “Because I…I’m.. fuck! I’m fucking gay, alright?! I was gonna say that she’s the exception to the rule to make a fuckin’ joke out of it but I’m actually going to go throw up now-fuck!” Richie stepped back to walk away, but Eddie stood and hugged him. Richie froze as the others joined him and the six of them managed to cocoon Richie in a warm hug Richie dropped the unlit cigarette to hug back as much as he possibly could as tears began to sting his eyes. Fuck he was so over crying today, but that didn’t stop him from doing it again. He spent so long fearing this. He was terrified of the idea that he would somehow summon the courage to tell his friends only to be kicked out of the group… but here they were, giving him nothing but love and support, and Richie thought he got a pass for fucking crying this time. Slowly but surely, as Richie calmed down, the hug broke. Eddie was the last to let go before reaching up to take off Richie’s glasses and cleaning them on his own shirt before handing them back.

 

Richie sniffled and wiped his eyes, “Thanks Eds..” He put the glasses back on and looked around at all of them, “I love you guys… even if you’re all hideously ugly.” He smiled a bit and picked up the cigarette he’d dropped lighting it quickly. He fucking earned this nicotine.

 

They all smiled a little at his joke before Bill spoke, “W-We love you too Richie.” 

 

Despite all of the anxiety he’d had… Richie believed him, “You love me now… just wait until I stop using the hetero filter when I tell my ‘lewd’ jokes.” Richie wiggled his eyebrows.

 

Eddie snorted, “Well, at least you can’t say you’re fucking my dad.”

 

Richie laughed a little and draped an arm across Eddie’s shoulders, “No but it opens up a world of opportunities. Your uncle, your grandpa, your doctor..”

 

Eddie made a face, “My grandpa is almost 90!”

 

“Old people deserve good sex too, Eds. It’s my charitable donation!”

 

Eddie huffed as the others laughed, “Beep Beep Richie.”

 

Richie mimed zipping his lips, but he couldn’t stop smiling.

 

Later that night after the fire had been doused, Richie and Eddie were in their sleeping bags in one of the smaller tents that barely fit two people. Richie was shining his flashlight up at the ceiling and trying to make shadows of animals with his hand. Eddie laughed and watched as he tried, “You’re terrible at this!”

 

Richie shrugged, “Can you do any better?”

 

“Here, hold it over here.” Eddie guided Richie’s hands and used his hand to make a shark fin.

 

“Well I’m incredibly impressed that you’ve matched the skills of a three year old.” Richie teased.

 

Eddie huffed, “It was better than yours!”

 

“Nope.” The two continued to bicker and try to best each other at making shadow animals before the light dimmed as the batteries started to die. Richie turned off the flashlight and laid it between them, “Night Eds.” He closed his eyes.

 

“Richie?” Eddie spoke quietly.

 

“Hmm?”

 

“What you said earlier… I didn’t ditch you.” He propped himself up to look over at Richie, not that it helped much with how dark it was.

 

“You did. Completely abandoned me-”

 

“Will you cut the shit?” Eddie huffed, “I wasn’t going to come… I was… I was still gonna say I was staying at Stan’s but I was going to stay with you and make sure you were okay… but Bev said you were coming.”

 

Richie listened to him and couldn’t help but smile a little, “I was only messing around Eds.. I would have understood you coming here even if I hadn’t.”

 

“I just… you looked… You didn’t seem sick you seemed… sad. I didn’t want to leave you alone…” Eddie spoke quietly, “Is it.. Was it because…”

 

“I’m gay? Yeah… I… I found out Bev and Ben knew and that they apparently talked about it and I… I took it the wrong way. I was… I thought you all sat around laughing at me…”

 

Eddie frowned, “I didn’t even know… but none of us would-”

 

“I know… but I hid it for so long I just.. I was scared… I thought if… if all of you found out you’d kick me out of the group… and I’d be alone.”

 

Eddie moved closer and hugged Richie tightly, “That would never happen.” 

 

Richie gratefully returned the hug, “I know… but like I said it… it scared me… more than anything.” Almost.

 

“It is scary.. I’m proud of you for telling us.” He let go of Richie and laid back down.

 

Richie smiled a little, “Night Eds..”

 

“Night Rich..”

Chapter Text

In the morning, Eddie and Richie were jolted awake as Beverly shook the outside of their tent. “Wake up kids! Stan’s parents are making breakfast!” She kept shaking the outside of the tent.

Richie was half out of his sleeping bag, pressed close to Eddie with an arm draped over his torso, and his head on his chest. Eddie’s arms were closed around Richie’s shoulders, hugging him close while they slept. The two of them blushed and muttered apologies, quickly moving away from each other as Richie unzipped the tent, “Chill the fuck out Molly Ringwald! We’re up, we’re up!” He straightened his glasses and climbed out of the tent.

As soon as his head poked out of the tent, Beverly brought her pillow down against the back of his head. Richie nearly lost his balance and glared up at her as Eddie’s laughter spilled out from inside the tent. He stood and huffed, “After all that bullshit about how you all supposedly love me.”

Eddie climbed out after him and lightly pushed Richie out of his way.

“Multiple assaults! You all changed your tune after sleeping on the fact that I glide around on a rainbow!” Richie yelled dramatically, “I am hurt- my very soul has been cut deeply I-” Richie cut off and paled as Eddie walked backwards toward Stan’s, listening to Richie’s nonsense, “Eddie!” Richie darted forward and grabbed Eddie around the waist, pulling him a few feet back.

“Richie what-what the fuck!” Eddie squirmed.

“There’s a snake you idiot!” Richie finally let go and pointed.

“Oh shit. Oh shit!” Eddie turned to look and grabbed Richie’s wrist.

Beverly rolled her eyes, “It’s a fuckin’ garden snake, drama queens.” She took a drag and walked over to get a closer look as the snake retreated, “You scared the poor little guy!”

“We scared him!?” Richie cried out, still a little shaken from the idea of Eddie getting bitten by a snake, “I thought I was going to have to suck poison out of Eddie’s leg!” He looked over at Eddie, who was hyperventilating a little and instantly calmed himself down, gently taking Eddie’s shoulders, “Hey, hey take slow.. Deep breaths Eds.”

Eddie nodded a little and looked up at Richie as he started to slow his breathing.

“I didn’t mean to freak you out over nothing I really thought-”

“It’s fine I… I’m glad you said something… if it had been a poisonous snake you.. You might have just saved my life…” Eddie looked up into his eyes for a moment, a silence fell over the two as Richie still held Eddie’s shoulders, and the two were far too close. They stood that way for a moment until Eddie broke the silence, “But yeah… thanks for the fuckin’ panic attack asshole.” He lightly shoved Richie with a light smile, “Come on, breakfast…”

Richie smiled a little and walked with him, bumping into him ever so often to annoy him. It didn’t escape his attention that Beverly was quick to disappear after establishing that there wasn’t any real danger.

After the losers ate they went back to pack everything up and parted ways. Richie and Eddie only split up briefly to take their things home before meeting at the clubhouse. Richie was too tall now to properly walk around without hitting his head, so he had to duck. Richie got there first, but he didn’t have a parent to coddle him and do a health check before he left again. He kicked the leaves off of the door and pulled it up, climbing down into the underground clubhouse. He grinned and walked over to the hammock, lying down in it before he lit a cigarette. He couldn’t wait for Eddie to see that he beat him to the hammock again. He looked over as he heard the door being lifted and took another drag, a cocky smirk pulling at his lips as he got ready to gloat. But it wasn’t Eddie… He saw Beverly and then Ben climb down. He stayed quiet and took another long drag before he blew out the smoke, “Before you two get too cozy, you’re gonna have to find another makeout spot. Eds and I have dibs.”

Ben looked a little surprised, but nodded, “Oh… Oh you two are going to-”

“No!” Richie glanced over by the entrance, “Shut the fuck up Haystack. Of course we’re not! I’m just saying taking your making out elsewhere. Me and Eddie are hanging out here and I was here first so we have dibs.”

Ben nodded a little, “That’s fair..”

Beverly scoffed, “Excuse me, Trashmouth but the clubhouse is for all of us, but if you want to get right down to it, who built the clubhouse?”

“Um, all of us!” Richie huffed, “Just because Ben was the brain behind it doesn’t make all of our contributions worthless. I don’t care if you stay, I’m just saying you aren’t kicking me and Eds out so you two can suck face.”

Beverly rolled her eyes, “But you were totally ready to kick me and Ben out so you and Eddie could fight over the hammock and end up snuggling together on it.”

“I wasn’t kicking you out I was saying that you aren’t kicking us out. You two can go make out everywhere and I can’t even look at a boy for too long without risking getting my ass kicked so even if I was trying to kick you out- which I wasn’t- I have a better case here!”

“But you want us to go so you can be alone with Eddie.” Beverly crossed her arms.

“Is that so fucking wrong!?” Richie threw his hands into the air and looked over as the door opened again, “God damn it.” He muttered as Bill climbed down.

“We um… we weren’t meeting here to make out.” Ben said as Bill looked surprised to see Richie.

“Oh my fucking- really? You were going to have a Richie’s gay as shit meeting!?” Richie couldn’t fucking believe this shit, “You- You what? You want to be supportive but you still need to meet away from me to talk about how hard it is to be friends with a fag?” Richie was livid.

Stan climbed down next and looked over at Richie, “It isn’t like that at all. We assumed you and Eddie would be together...elsewhere. We didn’t intentionally exclude-”

Eddie climbed down, “Guys what the fuck? I can hear the yelling miles away…”

Richie moved to leave but Eddie gently grabbed his wrist to stop him. Unlike how he’d pulled his arm from Beverly the previous morning, Richie stopped, closing his eyes, “I need to go home I-”

But Eddie ignored him and pulled him over to the hammock. He sat and pulled Richie down to sit beside him, “I think… you’re overreacting a little.”

“Fuck you too I-”

“Rich.” Eddie cut him off, “Take slow...deep breaths.”

Richie looked over to Eddie and nodded, taking a few deep breaths to try and calm himself down.

“R-Ri-Richie… y-you a-a-and Eddie made plans. W-We just made plans to ha-angout too.”

Mike climbed down hesitantly, after hearing the yelling like Eddie had, “I’m afraid of the shitshow I’m entering.”

“As you should be.” Stan commented before looking over to Richie, “We don’t have to get together to cope with your sexuality. If it comes up… it’s how we can help you. Because we know it’s scary.. And we know how hard it’s been for you to hide it. We want you to be comfortable with who you are.. Even if that’s an overdramatic idiot that jumps to conclusions.” He put on his shower cap. By this point, he was the only one who bothered to put it on all the time.

“We do love and support you, Rich.” Beverly spoke, “But yes, we may talk about you sometimes when you aren’t here.. But it’s never mean spirited or us trying to live with having a gay friend… we’ve always had a gay friend.”

“It doesn’t change anything, Rich.” Mike added and clapped a hand on Richie’s shoulder, “You’ve gotta trust us on that or you’re going to keep going through this..”

Richie nodded a little, “You’re right I.. It’s just.. It’s fucking new for me… I guess I’m just.. Still working through the fear I had before telling you guys..”

Ben nodded, “That makes sense… but try to keep it in mind that we really couldn’t care less about you being gay… You’re still our Trashmouth Tozier.”

“Taking the last two days into consideration, I promise nothing because I will surely douse you all in more gay panic.” Richie said before lying back in the hammock, leaving little room for Eddie.

“You jerk you almost knocked me off!” Eddie huffed.

“Did not…” Richie stretched out, “Besides I got here first and my ten minutes got interrupted by my gay panic leading me to believe there was a mutiny afoot!”

Eddie huffed, “Well you had it last the last time. It’s not about who gets here first we’re supposed to share it on a rotation so it’s my turn!” He laid down, mostly on top of Richie with the lack of room, “Ugh your feet smell awful!” Eddie moved to where he was laying in the same direction as Richie instead of the opposite, so his head was on Richie’s chest.

“Yours don’t exactly smell like fuckin’ roses Eds.” Richie flicked his cheek lightly.

“Excuse me? I just showered! All of me smells better than you right now Trashmouth!”

Richie had to agree that Eddie had a point.. He smelled great. “Oh yeah? With your mom’s shampoo and shit? I knew I recognized that smell!”

Eddie hit his shoulder, “It is not my mom’s! It’s not even girly it’s coconut!”

Richie looked around at the other losers who were just laughing at their bickering, “Is… Is anyone else going to tell him that fruit smells are girly?”

“At least I don’t smell like fuckin’ cigarettes and a campfire!”

Richie lightly hit his own chest, “Tis’ the smell of man!”

“Tis the smell of hasn’t showered mixed with most likely to be caught on fire!” Eddie shot back.

Richie almost- almost -made the mistake of telling Eddie to get off if it bothered him so much, “Yeah, well your grandpa didn’t mind it last night!” he smirked and wiggled his eyebrows.

Eddie scrunched his nose, “Dude that’s just- ew!” but he soon joined the rest of the losers in their laughter.

 

As the sun began to set the losers started heading home. Ben walked Beverly to her aunt’s, and Richie walked Eddie home. They lived pretty close, so it never seemed odd. Richie pushed his curled hair out of his face and kept walking, unaware that Eddie was looking at him.

“Hey, Rich?” Eddie glanced away.

“Hmm?” Richie looked over to him.

“If you wanted to come hang out tonight.. After my mom’s asleep…”

Richie grinned, “It’s a date Eddie Spaghetti.”

Eddie scrunched his nose, “I changed my mind I can’t handle the stupid nicknames.” He stopped in front of his house.

“Too late!” Richie pinched his cheeks before he went home with a grin.

His grin faded when he got home, already sensing his father’s anger before the man spoke a single word.

 

Richie showered and changed into clean clothes before he left the house and walked over to Eddie’s, sporting a busted lip and a few bruises, the only visible one on his cheekbone. He climbed up to the window and knocked, watching as Eddie stood from the bed in his pinstripe pajamas and opened the window for him, a frown forming as he saw Richie’s face, “What happened?”

Richie climbed in and closed the window behind him, “What? My face?” He shrugged, “It’s no big deal Eds.” He plopped down onto Eddie’s bed.

Eddie frowned, “I’ll be right back.”

“Eds-” But he’d already walked out the room and shut the door. Richie sighed and laid back on the pillows. Eddie’s bed was so fucking comfortable. And if Richie secretly loved the way the pillows smelled like coconut shampoo… who had to know?

Eddie walked back in with an ice pack and two popsicles “I didn’t think you’d want to hold an icepack on your cheek and your lip so I improvised.” He held out the blue popsicle to Richie as he sat beside him, “Just be careful not to drip-”

“I know, I know Eds..” Richie sat up and took the popsicle, opening it but keeping the wrapper around it to catch any liquid as it melted. “Smart idea. It forces me to put ice on my lip at least… the ice pack was a waste of time though.” He put the popsicle in his mouth and had to admit… it did make his lip feel a little better.

Eddie sat down and opened his pink popsicle, “You should use the ice pack, Richie… it’ll keep it from swelling.”

Richie shrugged and made an obnoxious slurping noise as he ate his popsicle.

Once the two finished their popsicles, Eddie took their trash downstairs and came back. He picked up the ice pack and held it out to Richie, who took it but didn’t use it. Eddie sighed, “At least tell me what happened..”

Richie pushed up his glasses, “My mom ran into one of my teachers and they asked if I was feeling better… since I ditched yesterday. She yelled, I tried to point out that I did feel like hell yesterday and my dad…” He shrugged and gestured to his face, “It’s nothin’ Eds. I’ve had worse.” He laid back down against the pillows.

Eddie gently took the ice pack from Richie’s hand and held it against his cheek, just under his glasses, “It isn’t nothing Rich. They shouldn’t-”

“But they do. And it’s my fuckin’ life and we can’t do shit about it.” Richie looked up at him and gently placed his hand over Eddie’s over the ice pack, “Really, Eddie.. I’m okay…”

Eddie didn’t seem to buy it, but he didn’t press the subject further. He laid down beside Richie and was quiet for a while before he laughed a little.

Richie looked over to him and quirked an eyebrow, “What’s so fuckin’ funny?”

“I… I thought you liked Jenny Wilson…” Eddie’s giggles continued.

Richie grinned, “Yeah… and apparently everyone else knew… you’re a lil slow sometimes Eds.” Please continue to be so.

“So.. wait. You said… so who do you-”

“I’m.. I’m not ready to share that much, if that’s okay Eds.” Richie’s voice had a soft vulnerability to it that was rare.

Eddie nodded a little, “Okay… Okay no problem Rich.” He looked over to him, “Can I ask you a different question?”

“Does the one you just asked count?” Richie readjusted the ice pack, “Go ahead..”

“No asshole!” He huffed. “How… How did you know that… that you’re gay?” Eddie asked in a quiet voice.

Richie hadn’t expected that in the slightest.. And he wasn’t sure how to answer. “I… well I’ve been in denial for years Eds.. but I… I always knew… back… back when Pennywise…” Richie closed his eyes.

Eddie paled a little at the mention of Pennywise, but he nodded, “Hmm?”

“When we all had that fight and your psycho mom locked you up… I was at the arcade and I was playing a game with this random guy he was… he was kinda cute… I…” Richie shrugged, “Turns out he was Henry Bowers’s cousin… he seemed so nice and when Bowers showed up he said.. He said Henry didn’t tell him this down had… had a bunch of fairies… and Henry called me a fag and I just.. I ran out and went by that stupid Paul Bunyan statue and… and Pennywise showed up… and taunted me about it even fucking more.” Richie looked over at Eddie, “I thought he was going to get me that time and I… I didn’t care a whole lot, at the time, if he did…” Richie sighed, “After that I… I’ve tried to pretend it didn’t exist but it never worked, not really.. It’s really hard to deny when you like another guy.”

Eddie frowned, “I didn’t know about that… I’m sorry Rich… I wish I would have been there with you I’d.. I’d probably get slaughtered but I’d try to kick Henry’s ass.”

Richie smiled a little and turned his head to look over at Eddie, “I doubt you’d get slaughtered Eds… you’re like fuckin’ dynamite when you’re angry.”

“Keep calling me Eds and one day I’m going to snap and you’ll see that firsthand.” Eddie huffed.

Richie smiled a little, “Alright Eddie Spaghetti.”

“That isn’t any better.”

“Eddie bear?”

“Richie!”

Richie burst into laughter, “Eds Spagheds Bear?”

Eddie glared at him and lightly hit his shoulder, “I hate those nicknames.”

He didn’t. Even Richie knew he didn’t. He made sure to complain when they were around the others, but when it was just the two of them he let them slip by without comment most of the time. “Alright, fine Edward.”

Eddie huffed, “Fuck off Richard.”

Richie’s jaw dropped, “How dare you-” he cut off, “Oh shit, I think I hear your mom.”

Eddie jumped up and pulled Richie over to the closet, “Get in!” he hissed.

“But Eds I’m finally out-”

“This is not the time for a joke, go!” He shoved Richie in and closed the door.

Richie rolled his eyes and listened as Eddie’s mother tried to open the door, then knocked.

“Eddie! Honey why is your door locked? We talked about this!”

Eddie sighed and opened the door, “I just forgot to unlock it when I changed into pajamas, Ma.”

His mother stepped into the room and looked around, “Eddie what was all that noise? You didn’t have a girl-”

“Of course not, Ma… I was-” He paled as she looked at the closet door, “Ma nothing-”

She opened the door to find Richie and looked relieved, much to his surprise.

“Hey Mrs. K..” Richie gave her a sheepish smile, unsure of what else to do, “I was out of school sick Friday and I came to beg Eddie for help with my makeup work and he wanted to, since he’s such a good friend, but since he hadn’t asked you he was telling me to go… so we can do that tomorrow then, Eddie.”

She looked over Richie’s face. It was a small town, people talked. She knew more than her fill about the Tozier household, “No, that’s quite alright. You can spend the night if the two of you can quiet down.” She turned to Eddie, “Goodnight honey.” She hugged him before leaving the room.

Richie stepped out of the closet and looked over to Eddie, “The fuck was that?”

Eddie just shrugged, “I.. I was sure you were getting thrown out that window.”

“Told ya she loves me.” Richie winked at him playfully before plopping back down on the bed.

“Your fake attraction to my mother, and now every male in my family is a little concerning, for the record.” Eddie snorted and sat beside him, “I guess… you’re spending the night?”

“Unless you want me to go..” Richie looked over to him.

Eddie shook his head, “No… No I don’t want you to go back home.. Not tonight.”

Richie smiled a little, “I hate to be a charity case, but I’ll accept it this time.”

Eddie put a hand on his shoulder, “You aren’t a fuckin’ charity case. You’re my friend and I care about you, asshole.”

“You loooove me.” Richie teased and pinched Eddie’s cheeks.

Eddie tried to push him away, “No, I actually hate you.”

Richie wrapped his arms around Eddie and hugged him tightly, placing sloppy kisses on his forehead. Eddie squirmed and accidentally headbutted Richie’s lip. “Ow fuck!” Richie held his lip.

“Fuck Rich- are you okay?” Eddie’s eyes went wide.

Richie pulled his hand away and looked at the blood on his palm, “You re-split my lip you asshole.”

“I’m sorry I… I’ll be right back.” Eddie scurried out of the room and came back quickly with a wet cloth, “Move your hand.”

Richie put his hand down and reached for the cloth, but Eddie gently applied it to his lip. Richie felt his cheeks heating up as Eddie held the cloth there.

“I’m so sorry Rich I didn’t mean to hurt you…” he looked up at Richie, his eyes pleading.

“Ih’s fine..” Richie said, his voice muffled by the cloth.

“For once in your life just… shut up so it stops bleeding.” Eddie scolded gently.

Richie nodded a little, staying as still as he could. He should have reached up and take the cloth from Eddie so Eddie didn’t have to keep holding it but.. He didn’t. Richie’s not new to bruises or busted lips… and despite the germaphobia, Eddie was always there to patch him up. Richie hated getting beaten up, at home and otherwise.. But this always made it better. Eddie being there to take care of him when no one else ever has.

After a while, Eddie removed the cloth and leaned in close to make sure the bleeding stopped, “Does it hurt?” He looked up to Richie.

“I dunno Eds… you might have to kiss it better.” I did not just fucking say that. Kill me now.

Eddie rolled his eyes, “Very funny Richie.”

Richie gave him a panicked… attempt at a grin, “I could always go ask your mom-”

“You really want her to throw you out a window, hmm?” Eddie stood to put the cloth in the hamper.

Richie just snorted and laid down, silently thanking the universe that Eddie took his stupid comment as a joke.

Chapter Text

Richie really did plan to get out of Eddie’s bed and sleep on the floor, but the two of them fell asleep talking. He wasn’t sure who fell asleep first, but they woke up seconds apart, hearing Eddie’s mom knocking on the door. The two of them jumped and quickly moved apart in fear she’d open the door. They’d ended up in almost the same position they’d been in the tent. Richie’s head on Eddie’s chest, and Eddie’s arms wrapped around him.

 

“Boys, I made breakfast!” Her loud footsteps could be heard as she went back downstairs.

 

Richie looked up at Eddie, “We’ve gotta stop waking up like this.” He ran a hand through his curls, not elaborating on if he meant the cuddling, or being jolted awake by someone else.

 

“On the plus side… there’s breakfast.” Eddie smiled weakly and stood. The two of them went downstairs and took a seat at the table as Mrs. Kaspbrak began making her plate.

 

“Did you sleep well, Richard?” She looked over to him, “I hope Eddie let you borrow his sleeping bag and didn’t leave you right on the floor.”

 

“No he- he let me borrow it. I slept just fine, thank you.” Richie nodded.

 

‘Richard’ Eddie mouthed behind his hand, earning a kick under the table from Richie.

 

“Well go on, get yourself some food.” She took a bite of her own, eyeing Richie’s thin frame and his worn-out clothes. It was truly a shame that most parents didn’t care for their children as much as she cared for her Eddie. All of Eddie’s friends had questionable parents- The Denbroughs did lose their son- but the Tozier’s were easily the worst. Even if you consider the fact that the boy has a smart mouth that might require a few hits to sort out, her son would never be left with jeans with that many holes or shoes that worn. When was the last time the Tozier boy even had a haircut ? His curled mop almost reached his shoulders for goodness sake! But she knew her Eddie, and he cared deeply for his friends. She raised him with too good of a heart to turn anyone away so she would tolerate it, for now, she didn’t want another fiasco. Soon her boy would go off to a good school and leave the trash behind.

 

Eddie and Richie both put pancakes on their plates. Eddie dug in quickly, but before Richie took a bite, he spoke, “Thanks for breakfast, Mrs. K.” He put some syrup on his pancakes and took a bite.

 

“You’re welcome, Richard. I just hate to think how rare an occasion it is for you. I’m always sure to make sure Eddie has breakfast-”

 

“Ma.” Eddie cut her off.

 

Richie’s shoulders tensed a little, and he suddenly wasn’t so hungry, “It’s fine Eddie.”

 

“See, dear?” Sonia looked over to her son, “Of course, I noticed we had soup and bread missing and I understand, Richard. It’s far better to ask your friends for a little help than to be caught shoplifting again..” She looked far too pleased for the subject at hand.

 

Richie looked down at the table.

 

“He didn’t ask me for help. I just took it over there because he was sick.”

 

Richie expected her to get angry, but her response was somehow even worse.

 

She nodded, “That’s because he was too prideful to ask, and instead he gives hints about having nothing so you-”

 

“Ma!” Eddie looked over to her, “Stop it! Richie didn’t manipulate me into bringing him food!”

 

“Eddie it’s f-”

 

“No, it’s not!” Eddie cut Richie off, “God I should have known you letting him stay the night was just so you could use his misery to boost your own ego!”

 

“Don’t you talk to me like that Eddie! I could have sent him home- and frankly should have considering his lack of money and history of theft- but I let him stay and even have breakfast so he could have time away from his house.”

 

Richie stood from the table, “I didn’t mean to be such an inconvenience. Thank you for letting me stay the night.” He went outside and he could hear them screaming back and forth. Guilt weighed down his stomach as he walked to Beverly’s. He wanted to be angry at Mrs. Kaspbrak like Eddie was but… she was right. She didn’t have to let him stay overnight. She didn’t have to do a goddamn thing for him.. And she went too far with Eddie, she coddled him too fucking much but… with parents who did the exact opposite, Eddie was a lot more well adjusted than Richie. Eddie… had Richie manipulated him into bringing him food? He hadn’t meant to but.. Had he? He lit a cigarette once his hands stopped shaking and took long drags as he walked to Beverly’s house. She had spent the end of the summer living with her aunt, but before the start of the school year, her aunt bought a house in Derry so Beverly could continue seeing her friends. Richie liked Bev’s aunt. She wasn’t like the rest of the adults in Derry. She didn’t look at Richie like he was a dirty sock on the sidewalk… and she was nice. He knocked on the door and tossed the cigarette butt off the porch.

 

Beverly opened the door and immediately frowned, “Rich.. what happened to your face?”

 

“You know.” Richie said, not able to meet her eyes, “Can I come in? Eddie’s mom just did way worse and she didn’t lift a fuckin’ finger.”

 

Beverly let him inside, and the two went up to her room. Richie explained how Mrs. Kaspbrak found him hiding in Eddie’s closet, how she agreed to let him stay the night, and then how she acted the morning that followed.

 

“She really fucking said all of that?” Beverly looked pissed .

 

“Yeah… and she seemed pretty fuckin’ pleased with herself too.” Richie closed his eyes, “They’re probably still arguing…”

 

Beverly ran a hand through Richie’s hair, “That isn’t your fault, Rich...none of it is..”

 

“Fucking.. history of theft I stole a fucking box of ramen noodles and got caught one time .” Richie shook his head, “It’s probably for the best that Eddie isn’t… that we won’t ever… that he’s straight. He doesn’t need the guilt of giving that entitled bitch a heart attack.” He snorted, “Could you fucking imagine her response?”

 

“I dunno… seems a good way for her to fuckin’ go.” Beverly shrugged, “You seem… really sure that Eddie could never possibly like you but… I’m just saying Derry isn’t so small that there’s only one gay person..”

 

“Don’t do that shit.” Richie looked over at her.

 

“What shit?”

 

That shit. The last thing I need in my fucked up existence is feeling hope. Eddie doesn’t like me. That’s just how it is. My parents don’t give a fuck about me until they need a punching bag and I’m so used to it that I don’t care anymore. My life is probably going to end up with me as homeless as I fuckin’ look and that’s just how my life is!” Richie’s eyes watered, “Eddie isn’t going to magically fall in love with me. My parents aren’t going to start loving me. Despite how hard I actually try in school I’ll never be able to afford a good school and I’ll never get out of here and you’ll all leave and live great lives and I’ll be a fucking footnote in stories you tell people about your childhood. ‘The poor gay fuck who tried to be funny but he just fucking annoyed everyone- hope he got his life together.’ I know what my life is and I know that you can’t be disappointed if you don’t have any fucking hope.” he wiped at his eyes. He hadn’t meant to go on that full of a rant but… now it was out there.

 

Beverly pulled him into a hug and sniffled, “You are never going to be reduced to a footnote in our lives Richie Tozier. And you sure as fuck aren’t getting stuck in this god awful town. I don’t care if it takes me dragging you off to college with me- you aren’t fucking getting left behind.”

 

Beverly’s door slammed against the wall as it was pushed open. 

 

Beverly and Richie jumped at the noise and looked over to see Eddie Kaspbrak incredibly pissed off. But looking at Richie’s tear-streaked face was all it took to simmer his anger down, “Sorry I.. Sorry.” He looked at Richie, “I’m sorry, my mom shouldn’t have said any of that shit Rich..” He sat on Richie’s other side and pulled him into a hug. Richie clung to Eddie and buried his face into his shoulder. Eddie gently ran his fingers through Richie’s hair.

 

“How’d you know where I was?” Richie sniffled.

 

“Well, I knew you weren’t gonna go home…. And I doubted you were going to let yourself get emotional around the guys again so..”

 

Beverly’s aunt walked over to the door, “What the hell was- shit..” She frowned, “Everything okay?”

 

Beverly left the room to explain the situation to her, but mostly to give the two in love idiots sitting on her bed a moment alone.

 

After the door closed softly, Richie felt a very light press of lips to his forehead. Forehead kisses weren’t exactly new but… Richie only did them to annoy Eddie. Eddie had never done it back… and this certainly didn’t seem to have the intention to annoy Richie. “I’m so sorry Rich.” He whispered.

 

“It’s okay Eds.” How Richie had any voice at all after Eddie kissed his forehead was a mystery, “Your mom sucks.. It isn’t your fault.”

 

Eddie pulled back a little and put his hand under Richie’s chin to make him look up at him as he spoke softly, “And the way your parents are… isn’t your fault.”

 

For the first time in his life, if only for a moment, Richie believed that. He nodded a little, but didn’t pull back, and Eddie didn’t let go. Eddie’s warm brown eyes and the perfectly placed freckles had all of Richie’s attention...until his eyes moved to Eddie’s lips. They looked incredibly soft, as they should from all of the chapstick Eddie uses, and warm, like his eyes. Richie felt himself leaning forward before the door opened again, and the two quickly broke apart, leaving a few feet between them.

 

Beverly smirked a little, “My aunt said you can stay here a few nights, Rich.” 

 

“She isn’t.. Worried about the whole I’m a guy thing?” Richie asked, trying so hard not to look over at Eddie or think about what he’d almost done.

 

Beverly laughed a little, “Sorry Trashmouth… she asked me if you were gay the first time she met you.”

 

“I didn’t realize there was a sign on my fuckin’ forehead.” Richie sighed, finally chancing a glance over at Eddie.

 

Eddie’s face was a deep red, highlighting the freckles far more than covering them. Fuck he’s cute. “I’ll go home later and grab some clothes..”

 

“We could go now.” Eddie offered, “Just… that way… They never hurt you when you have a friend over.”

 

A friend. A friend . Eddie was a friend. Richie nodded, “Okay.”

 

Eddie stood and headed out the door, “We’ll see you later Bev!” he hurried down the stairs before Richie could even move.

 

“Well I thought I was invited but…” Beverly sat down.

 

“Be still my fucking heart… is.. Is he trying to fuckin’ get me alone after that!?” Richie felt almost dizzy.

 

“After what?” Beverly smirked.

 

“I.. I might have almost kissed him… does that.. Does… did he want… oh fuck. Oh, fuck what if it’s the opposite what if he wants to politely be like ‘hey Richie I’m flattered but don’t fucking kiss me’?” Richie ran a hand through his hair, “I don’t have time for gay panic right now!”

 

“Richie, come on!” Eddie yelled from downstairs.

 

Beverly snorted and handed Richie a piece of gum, “For after you smoke the entire way home.”

 

“You.. he- he’s not gonna kiss me-”

 

“Just go loverboy.” Beverly lightly pushed him to the door.

 

Richie put the gum and brought out a cigarette. She was right about one part at least. He lit the cigarette as soon as he stepped out of the house. Fuck fuck fuck fuck!

Chapter Text

Richie was far too nervous on the walk to his house with Eddie. Once he told his friends he was gay, he knew it was only a matter of time before Eddie found out he was fucking in love with him but he thought he had more time! He didn’t take the fact that he’s an idiot into account. He couldn’t believe he just fucked things up by almost kissing Eddie! He took a long drag and broke the heavy silence that had fallen between them on the walk because it was too quiet and he was too nervous and he had to say something ! “I didn’t tell you all of the story… about the um.. The arcade thing?”

 

Eddie looked over to him, “You didn’t?”

 

Richie shook his head, his curls bouncing as he did, “No I.. afterwards when I got home.. It was pretty obvious I was upset so my dad asked me what was wrong.. I told him… minus me thinking the guy was cute… and the whole killer clown part.”

 

Eddie frowned a little. He had a feeling this didn’t end with Richie’s dad hugging him and reassuring him, “What did he say?”

 

Richie smiled bitterly and took another drag before he put a hand on his shoulder to stop him, “He kneels down so he’s eye level with me, right? Puts a hand on my shoulder like this.” He squeezed Eddie’s shoulder for emphasis, “Looks me right in the eyes and says ‘Son… you’re too soft. It’s no wonder they think you’re a queer. You run around with nothing but boys-’ He didn’t know about Bev since he never listened to anything I said.” Richie added for context, “‘-And you’re a wimp. Everyone deals with bullies and the soft ones never stop. You come home after getting beaten up like this and you cry about it. Crying is for women and fairies. You need to man up.’” Richie let go of Eddie’s shoulder and took another long drag, “I pointed out that Bowers was ten times my size, and older… and for simply providing more facts… he hit me for the first time… and he’s never fucking stopped calling me a fag or a queer, or a fairy when he’s particularly pissed off, since.”

 

Eddie was stunned. He knew about the abuse, being the one Richie usually came to in the middle of the night afterward but… this was the first time Richie ever really opened up about it. Any time Eddie would ask he’d shrug it off and provide as little detail as possible. “What about your mom?” His voice shook.

 

Richie smiled sadly, “She used to tell him he was being too hard on me.. She never tried to stop him, not really but.. She used to care, a little…” Richie tossed the cigarette butt,”Now though… Hell I don’t think she’s looked at me in a month. She just doesn’t say shit about it anymore. She pretends it’s not happening- no it… she pretends I’m not even there. They started to eat out so we aren’t forced to sit at the dinner table together… that’s why there’s never any food… despite all of that, though she never… said the shit he did until last night. When I was telling them I was sick Friday she… she called me a lying little fag.” Richie took a slow breath, “Shits’ not good Eddie… I need to get a job I only haven’t because… then they’d have an excuse to stop giving me money which… they don’t give me much but.. Hell it’s the only positive thing I get from them anymore Eds… bare minimum financial support. Isn’t that fucked up?” Richie let out a laugh that sounded closer to a sob.

 

Eddie listened to Richie and his frown only deepened. He had asked Richie before why he hadn’t just gotten a job when it was clear he needed money but Richie instantly recoiled from the topic. Eddie assumed it was because he pushed too far into Richie’s home life, and maybe that had been part of the problem but now… now he understood more. Where his insufferable mother gave him so many hugs he was nearly late to school most days, Richie’s parent would begrudgingly hand him money for lunch.. And that was the closest thing to feeling cared about Richie got. Eddie felt his heart breaking for Richie. He almost wished Richie hadn’t opened up, it was too much for Eddie to handle… but Richie had been dealing with this for so long alone that Eddie quickly decided he would help Richie carry the weight. It was hard to believe that the boy beside him, who was constantly cracking jokes and making everyone else laugh, went through this kind of pain. Eddie thought he might understand Richie “Trashmouth” Tozier more at that moment than he ever had. The saddest people do seem to focus on making everyone else smile. Most people didn’t know Richie beyond his loud mouth and his jokes, but Eddie and the rest of the Losers knew there was more there. Richie had a big heart that he hid under layers of joking, picking on his friends, and pretending not to take anything too seriously. To an outsider that would be convincing, but it never was to his friends. Eddie finally spoke, after a long moment of silence, “Are your parents home right now?”

 

Richie shrugged, “Probably not.. Why?” He looked over to Eddie.

 

“Just seeing if I need to schedule in a double homicide today.” Eddie’s voice was soft, but the fire was there. How dare they put Richie through so much.

 

Richie threw his arm around Eddie’s shoulders, speaking in a falsetto voice to lighten the rather dark mood, “My tiny knight in shining armor!” he swooned.

 

Eddie laughed a little and playfully elbowed Richie’s side, “I’m not that short! You’re just too tall!”

 

“Sure, sure. Whatever helps you sleep at night.” Richie grinned and popped the piece of gum that Beverly gave him into his mouth. Did he think Eddie was going to kiss him, therefore he should try and erase the chain smoking from his breath? No. Did he think he should chew the gum in a loud obnoxious way to irritate the boy with a fuse as short as he is? Absolutely. So he did. By the time Richie’s house was in view Eddie looked ready to strangle him.

 

“If you don’t spit that fucking gum out-”

 

Richie blew a bubble and popped it loudly with his teeth.

 

“You are such an asshole, Trashmouth!” Eddie stormed ahead of him.

 

Richie grinned, “Okay, okay!” He jogged a little to catch up with Eddie, not that it took much, “I’ll stop. If I spit it out here odds are you’ll step on it on the way back to Bev’s and be pissed off at me again .”

 

“I’m sure you’ll find some other way to manage that on the way back.” Eddie huffed.

 

Richie just grinned more. He lived for their petty bickering, “As you wish.” 

 

Richie rolled his eyes, “Shut the fuck up Trashmouth.”

 

“As you wish.” Richie mimed zipping his lips.

 

“Are you fucking quoting The Princess Bride? ” Eddie snorted.

 

Richie kept his mouth shut, and responded only muffled noise.

 

Eddie rolled his eyes and played along, reaching up to mime unzipping Richie’s lips.

 

“That I am, Buttercup.” He smirked.

 

“I’m going to actually sew your lips shut now.” Eddie rolled his eyes, hoping the red in his cheeks looked like it came from anger, instead of being the blush it was.

 

“What? It’s a classic !” Richie followed him up the stairs of his porch. The big goofy grin he’d been wearing fell, and his relaxed shoulders had tensed. On the plus side, the car was gone so his parents were but it was always hard coming home after a round with his dad.

 

Eddie noticed how Richie’s expression fell and gently put a hand on his shoulder.

 

“I’m fine.” Richie muttered and unlocked the door, pushing it open and going upstairs to his room. As promised, he spit the gum into the trash can beside his bed.

 

Eddie followed him up and sat on Richie’s bed. The bed was old and far from comfortable. There was a pillow in the middle that Richie used to block the springs that started pushing through the mattress. Eddie always felt guilty for it, but he found himself worrying about needing a tetanus shot as Richie quickly bustled around the room, throwing clothes into a duffle bag. Eddie was able to pull himself out of his own worries when he realized just how panicked Richie seemed. Richie walked over to the bed to throw more clothes into the duffle bag, and this time Eddie caught his wrist. “Sit down for a minute… breathe.”

 

What Eddie didn’t know, was that Richie was panicking over when Eddie would want to talk about what almost happened at Beverly’s. He looked more panicked by the idea of sitting still beside Eddie, but he still sat down.

 

Eddie put a hand on his shoulder, “Rich, just take a deep-”

 

“I’m sorry I almost fucking kissed you!” Real fuckin’ smoothe Tozier. Richie’s hands shot up into his hair, getting lost in the curls, “I just- I.. you were so fucking close and holding my face and I didn’t even realize I was leaning foreward until the door opened and I-fuck!” He tugged at his hair, “I just-fuck. I-fuck. Just fucking...fuck.”

 

Eddie blinked a few times, trying to catch up with Richie. He had noticed Richie leaning in and.. If Eddie were being honest with himself he wished Beverly hadn’t come back as soon as she had… and maybe Eddie had been hoping to get the courage to talk to Richie about it once they got here but he got a little derailed with the conversation on the way. And why was Richie apologizing? Sure he leaned in but Eddie put him in that position by holding his damn face for too long! It wouldn’t have meant anything, it would have just been a stupid kiss.. To Richie at least. It wasn’t as if Richie liked him back. Sure he’d told his friends he was gay but… oh shit.

 

  “I think you like her but instead of manning up and telling her you make fun of her because you're too fucking chicken to face rejection."

 

Shit, had Eddie actually said that to him? He mentally kicked himself for being so rude when.. When all of it applied to him. Sure Richie teased the other Losers and gave them a hard time but it was nothing compared to how he was with Eddie. Since the day they met it was constant stupid nicknames and jokes about his height and his fucking mom.

 

"Doesn't matter Eds... You were spot on about everything except who. I'm a pussy ass coward with rejection. Happy?"

 

How had it taken Eddie so fucking long to put it together? He was officially the dumbest most oblivious person in the universe. Fuck, it had been right there in front of him all along! And as he took his time to have this epiphany, he sat there frozen, his mouth slightly open and his eyes widening as the realization hit him.

 

Richie watched as it sank in, and he wanted nothing more than to fight that fucking clown instead of face this. Eddie wasn’t going to be able to look at him. Richie was going to be single handedly responsible for ripping apart the entire group and- “E-Eddie I’m sorry. I’m so fucking sorry I won’t- earlier I just got too wrapped up okay? I won’t- it won’t happen again I can-”

 

“Shut up.” Eddie spoke softly looking up at him, “I really am a little slow, huh?” He reached up and gently pulled Richie’s hands from his hair before his panic ended with balding.

 

Richie looked close to tears. He let Eddie move his hands but his silence only lasted for so long, “Eds I didn’t- I didn’t fucking mean to I just- You’re so fucking cute and I couldn’t help it but I’ll figure it out I’ll stop I-”

 

“Rich… shut the fuck up so I can kiss you.” Eddie pulled him closer.

 

Richie’s eyes widened in shock. He was stunned but he still managed to stutter out, “A-As you wish.” Heat bloomed across his cheeks.

 

Eddie blushed as well, but scoffed, and despite his words, he pulled Richie even closer, “Nevermind I’m not kissing you after-”

 

Richie leaned in to kiss him, clumsily doing little more than bumping their noses. His blush only darkened, “Fuck.”

 

Eddie giggled, “I think you’re supposed to tilt your head a little, like this.” He slid his hands into Richie’s hair and tilted his head before he leaned in and kissed him softly.

 

Richie’s eyes slipped closed as he slid his arms around Eddie and kissed him back. The kiss was short and sweet, but when they pulled back Richie almost felt high.

 

“After all your talk you nearly take out my nose trying to kiss me, Cassanova.” Eddie teased, filling the silence.

 

“Oh shut up.” Richie said, leaning in and kissing him properly. This kiss lasted longer, their lips moving together at a slow, easy rhythm before  Eddie pulled back to breathe.

 

“I might...actually still need that inhaler.” Eddie blushed.

 

Richie grinned and laced their fingers,  “Nah… you just gotta figure out that you can breathe and kiss at the same time… though I do have to say it does wonders for my ego to take your breath away.” He smirked.

 

“I fucking hate you.” Eddie rolled his eyes and smiled, gently squeezing Richie’s hand, “Which stands despite me now pointing out that I like you too if the kiss didn’t give that away, asshole.”

 

“So feisty… one of the many things I love about you Eds.” Richie grinned.

 

“God somehow you’re even more insufferable already… at least now I can shut you the fuck up.” Eddie leaned up and pecked Richie’s lips.

 

“I completely support that method of shutting me the fuck up.” Richie grinned, “God it took you long enough… though, I was terrified of you finding out so it worked for me.”

 

“You’re pretty fuckin’ slow yourself Rich.” Eddie shrugged, “Me deciding the share the hammock with you instead of flipping you out of it like everyone else does is just one incredibly obvious example.”

 

“Oh shit… so we’re both idiots.” Richie snorted, but tensed hearing his dad’s car in the driveway, “I’ll meet you at Bev’s, go.”

 

Eddie frowned, “Rich they won’t-”

 

“I’ll get worse if they catch me in my bedroom alone with a boy, run out the back door before they see you.. Please.”

 

Eddie stood and headed for the kitchen, Richie running down with him. The front door opened, and Richie knew he was too late. He should just leave with Eddie now, but instead he gently pushed Eddie out the door and locked it.

 

Chapter Text

***Just in case I forget to add an author’s note and just in case you don’t read it this chapter gets violent and there are homophobic slurs and HIV is mentioned pretty insensitively. There’s child abuse and please please please don’t read if it will upset you***

 

Eddie turned immediately after Richie pushed him outside, catching only a glimpse of his face as he shut the door. He heard the lock click and started knocking as hard as he could, “Richie!”

 

Richie closed his eyes, “Go!” He turned, finding his father standing in the doorway of the kitchen. If he could help kill a shapeshifting clown, if he could kiss Eddie Kaspbrak… he could handle Wentworth Tozier. He slipped on a grin, refusing to show an ounce of fear, “Can you believe he had the nerve to ask me for homework help?” Richie scoffed and moved to step past his father.

 

“In my fucking house?” Wentworth grabbed Richie’s arm with a grip that felt hard enough to shatter the bones. Richie didn’t flinch. This was okay. He would be fine. “I told you that queer shit isn’t allowed in this house. If you want to go get fucked and catch a disease elsewhere fine you will not-”

 

Richie rolled his eyes, “I told you, it was about homework. It’s not like I was sucking his dick-” Richie’s head jerked back from the impact of Wentworth’s fist. Richie just smiled as blood began to drip from his nose.

 

“You watch your goddamn mouth!”

 

“This bullshit started because you thought it’d toughen me up, yeah? Not child abuse just tough love, that’s what you said before. Buncha’ bullshit too then but now you know it. You just like beating your fuckin’ kid.” A punch to the gut made Richie double over, but he laughed as he was shoved to the ground. His father stood over him and kicked his stomach before grabbing the front of his shirt and yanking him up a little, punching his face again. Richie spat blood up at him and grinned, “You raised a fuckin’ queer… You didn’t beat it out of me and you never will . Might wanna wash that blood off your face, Went… who knows what you could catch.” The look on his father’s face sent Richie into a fit of laughter, even as he kicked him a few more times before retreating to wash his face. Richie was, despite far too many jokes related to sex and despite the fact that he would definitely deny it, a virgin so there was no actual concern for HIV, but he knew it would make his father back off and the look of panic on the man’s face would forever be one of Richie’s treasured memories. Now he just needed to get up before his father returned, but his entire body ached and he could feel himself slipping into unconsciousness. Just before he passed out in a pool of his own blood, he swore he heard the sound of glass breaking nearby. 



The first thing Richie heard as he started to wake was muffled, distorted voices and a god awful beeping noise. His eyes hadn’t opened yet, but there was an ungodly bright light that he could see through them. “What the fuck..” He muttered, slowly blinking awake, seeing a white ceiling with fluorescent lights above him.

 

Beverly hit Eddie’s arm, “He’s awake!” The two stood above Richie.

 

“This is by far the weirdest alien abduction dream I’ve ever had. Molly Ringwald has never-” Richie looked around, “Shit… this is a hospital.” There was an IV in his arm, he was hooked up to a heart monitor and his clothes were replaced by a hospital gown. 

 

Eddie hugged him tightly, only pulling back when Richie yelped in pain, “F-Fuck I’m sorry Rich I just- you looked half dead when I climbed in through the window and-”

 

“You climbed through a window?”

 

“Well yeah, dumbass! I wasn’t going to leave you there! I tried the front door to see if it was unlocked but- I didn’t know what else to do- I had to break the window and climb through I-”

 

“Tiny Knight in Shining Armor..” Richie gave him a tired smile, “Did you drag me to the hospital? I’m not hurt that bad Eds-”

 

“The fuck you aren’t! You have a broken rib!”

Richie nodded a little, “I stand corrected..”

 

“I managed to get you outside and down the block but you were barely staying conscious so I put you down and ran to Bill’s.”

 

“W-We c-called Bev and her a-aunt met us and dr-drove you he-here.” Bill chipped in.

 

Richie nodded a little, “Thanks guys…” He looked up to Eddie and smiled, “I was fuckin’ dead if you hadn’t moved my unconscious ass..”

 

“Then why the fuck are you smiling !? I’ve been freaking out this whole damn time!” Eddie grabbed Richie’s hand.

 

Richie just smiled a little more, “Still the best fuckin’ day of my life…” 

 

Eddie blushed, and if the others asked what Richie meant, he was unaware. The pain meds pulled him back down into a deep sleep. Richie slept for a while, only waking up in brief instances, like Eddie  kissing his forehead and telling him that he has to go home but he’ll be back in the morning, or the nurses coming in to check on him. He didn’t like the idea of being in the hospital alone, but the meds kept him too tired and asleep to care or even give it much thought. By the time morning came around, the doctor walked in and talked to Richie about his condition. He had a broken rib, as Eddie said, and he’d lost a lot of blood. When Richie asked if his parents had shown up or if they’d talked to them, the doctor just frowned and said someone else would be in to discuss that with him soon. The anxiety woke Richie right up. He was not getting thrown into the fuckin’ foster system. He would lie through his fucking teeth if it took that. He didn’t go through all of this bullshit just to end up leaving Derry now that he and Eddie were on kissing terms. He could tough it out for another year. 

 

When the losers walked into Richie’s room, they’d expected him to be asleep but he was wide awake, sitting up and munching on the bland breakfast the hospital gave him. He had no complaints though, he was grateful any time he was given food. “God you guys all look like shit.” Richie said, taking another bite.

 

“You’re one to talk.” Stan replied.

 

Richie put a hand over his heart, “You wound me, Staniel.” He smiled up at Eddie, “Come here often?” He wiggled his eyebrows.

 

Eddie huffed, “Yeah, at least twice a fucking month because my mother’s fucking-”

 

“That was the joke, Eds.” Richie grinned and took another bite.

 

Mike looked over to Beverly who just shrugged, “Rich.. man I know you like to joke around and shit but… how are you, really?”

 

Richie looked over to Mike, “I’m good..  Best sleep I’ve had in sixteen years, though the pain meds are responsible I think it still counts.”

 

“Y-Yeah Richie b-but-”

 

“My dad beat me half to death?”

 

“W-Well… y-yeah.” Bill frowned.

 

Richie shrugged, “I’m still good.”

 

Beverly frowned, “Richie… honey it-”

 

“I’m good. Really. I’m fucking fantastic. Positively plum. Exceptionally excellent.” Richie shrugged again, “He may have half killed me, but I scared him half to death, so I believe  I’m winning.”

 

Ben’s eyebrows furrowed, “What do you mean?”

 

“He made some quip about me going out and getting diseases so I spat blood in his face. It was so fucking great- you should have seen his face!” Richie’s grin immediately fell when he heard a familiar puff of air. Eddie was clinging to an inhaler. “Eds…”

 

It was rare that the inhaler came out now that Eddie knew he hadn’t actually needed any of the medicines his mother gave him but.. He still carried the inhaler around. It was a good security net. A safety blanket. He’d used it a lot in the last 24 hours between thinking Richie was going to die to now thinking of the leper. 

 

“I swear I’m clean you’ve come into contact way with my blood too many times for me not to-”

 

“I’m not worried about that idiot .” Eddie took his hand, “Like anyone would fucking sleep with you anyways.”

 

Richie smiled a little, but he still worried about the inhaler, “ Please I’ve gotten more action than a drive-thru.” He winked.

 

Bev sighed and leaned down to kiss Richie’s temple, “We need to get going to school… we’ll come see you after though, okay?”

 

Richie nodded and said bye to everyone before looking over to Eddie, “Aren’t you gonna be late?”

 

“I have study hall first… and I don’t know if I’m even fucking going today.” Eddie looked up at him, “Rich I was so fucking scared when I saw you on the floor… You had a pulse but you wouldn’t wake up until I started dragging you out of the house..”

 

Richie scooted over in the bed and patted the spot beside him. Eddie climbed up and curled close, careful not to hurt Richie’s stomach. Richie ran a hand through Eddie’s hair, “I’m okay Eds… You saved me.” Until this afternoon when he’s released. He’s going back, but maybe he can stay in the clubhouse for a while. He could get to school early and shower… he rarely ate anyways, he could figure it out. “Have you told the others about us?” Richie asked.

 

Eddie shook his head, “I was a little occupied..” 

 

Richie smiled a little, “We could fuck with them for a while… see how long it takes them to figure it out…. Bev doesn’t count because I will spill the beans to her but she’ll keep her mouth shut.”

 

“How are we supposed to do that?” Eddie quirked an eyebrow.

 

“You were holding my hand and no one batted an eye, Eds. We’ve always been really… overly affectionate. I could probably kiss you right on those soft lips and no one would suspect a thing.” Richie snorted.

 

“You’re exaggerating… they would definitely notice that.” Eddie snorted.

 

“True but… come on it’d be fun. It’s my hospital bed request, you can’t say no!”

 

“You’re thinking of a dying wish, and you are not dying.” Eddie rolled his eyes and looked up to Richie, “I think, as your saviour, you owe me something.” he teased.

 

Richie gently cupped Eddie’s cheek, “Anything you want.”

 

“Anything? That’s a little dangerous-I could ask you to get my name tattooed on your forehead.” Eddie snorted.

 

“I’d do it.” Richie grinned.

 

“Please don’t.” Eddie scrunched his nose.

 

“Then what do you want Eds?” Richie gently stroked Eddie’s cheek with his thumb.

 

“Nothing I was joking I just.. I want.. You to be my boyfriend?” Eddie looked up at Richie.

 

Richie smiled, “Done.” he leaned down and kissed Eddie softly. Did it hurt? Hell yes. Did he regret it? Hell no.

 

Eddie pulled back after a moment and looked up at him, “Fine.. we’ll see how long it takes our friends to figure it out.”

 

Richie grinned, “Good… now take your beautiful ass too school.”

 

Eddie blushed and shook his head in protest, “Rich-”

 

“No, Eds I mean it. I’m just gonna sleep most of the day away, I’ll be here after school ends…” Richie pecked his lips again.

 

Eddie kissed back and sighed, “Okay, fine…” He kissed Richie again before he stood and picked up his backpack.

 

“See ya later, boyfriend.” Richie grinned and leaned back on the bed.

 

“See you later, shithead.” Eddie smiled and walked out.

 

Richie smiled and closed his eyes as he started to doze off. Hearing the door, he sighed starting to speak before he opened his eyes, “Eds I will unboyfriend you if you don’t go to sch- You aren’t Eds.”

 

Beverly’s aunt smiled a little, “No I am not but I definitely called you and Eddie.” She sat down by the bed.

 

“I don’t mean to be rude but um… what brings you here Ms. H?” Richie looked over to her curiously.

 

Katherine Howard was the younger sister of Beverly’s mother. After her sister passed, she almost completely lost contact with her niece but Bev, being the rebel she was, always made sure to call when her dad wasn’t home. Katherine wasn’t sure what her niece went through that summer, not really, but she did know that it was her friends that got her through it. Kathy thought moving away would help Bev, and it did seem to help a little but as the school year drew closer she became more and more sure that she still needed her friends. So they packed their things and found a home in Derry. Kathy adored Bev’s friends. Sure they swore when they thought she couldn’t hear, but didn’t all kids at that age? As the four years passed Kathy was deeply worried about one of Bevvie’s friends though. The neglect and abuse he faced at home hurt her heart because it seemed out of her hands. She couldn’t prove it was happening, and he never mentioned it. He needed his friends to help him get through it too, she realized. As she looked over to the boy in the hospital bed she held back a wince. She should have offered sooner. “I want you to stay with me and Bevvie… not just for a couple days, Richie… until you guys leave for college.”

 

Richie was stunned. Was she fucking serious? Then he remembered Mrs. Kaspbrak’s implication that he was manipulating Eddie into feeling sorry for him. Had he Manipulated Bev’s aunt too? He frowned a little, “That… That’s okay Ms. H. I can handle myself.”

 

Kathy frowned, “Richie… you can’t go home. Your dad is in police custody right now but.. This kind of shit gets overlooked all the time. What do you think is gonna happen if you go home after all of this?”

 

Richie swallowed a lump in his throat. She had an incredibly valid fucking point.

 

“And even if your dad is let go… they could put you in foster care…” Kathy sighed, “I can’t make you do anything Richie… but I want to help.”

 

Richie nodded slowly, “I… I’ll get a job… and help you with bills.”

 

“You don’t have to do that-”

 

Richie shook his head, “I’m not… I’m not gonna be a fuckin’ freeloader, okay? You giving me somewhere safe to live is more than enough I-”

 

“Okay… Okay. But you let yourself heal, and you take a month to adjust first, deal?” She held out a hand.

 

Richie smiled a little, “Alright… yeah, deal.” He shook her hand.




Richie hadn’t intended to lie when he told Eddie he’d be at the hospital after school, but all things considered he knew he’d be forgiven. Kathy parked outside of the school and waited for school to end. As soon as Richie caught sight of his friends he rolled down the passenger’s side window and leaned out of it a little, “Fucking losers!” he yelled over at them.

 

Kathy rolled her eyes, but smiled. Eddie and Beverly ran over to the car. Beverly looked at her aunt in confusion before looking at Richie, “What..”

 

“Get in the car, roomie.” Richie grinned, “You too, Lover.” he winked at Eddie.

 

Eddie blushed but got into the back seat.

 

Beverly had to hug Richie through the window first before she got in, “Aunt Kathy you didn’t tell me-”

 

“I wasn’t sure yet. Had to make his stubborn ass accept help.” She lightly nudged Richie before she started to drive. Richie, Eddie and Bev waved to their friends as they left.

 

 They were going to Richie’s first so he could grab his things while his dad was still being held by the cops. Richie was a little nervous he’d be there anyways, but Kathy assured him that if he tried anything, she’d put the pistol in her glove compartment to good use. When Richie unlocked the door and stepped inside, he let out a sigh of relief. His parents were nowhere to be seen. Currently he was wearing a sweatshirt and scrub pants the hospital gave him, since his own clothes had been covered in blood. Richie, Bev and Eddie went upstairs while Kathy stayed downstairs, in case the Toziers came home while they were there. The duffel bag was still on the bed, and most of Richie’s clothes were already stuffed inside it. Because of his injuries, Richie wasn’t much help but he helped as much as he could. The three of them worked together to grab everything Richie wanted to take from his room, which wasn’t much beyond his clothes, but he did have a box of comics, his radio and two framed pictures on his walls. There was a picture of him and all of the losers, and one that was just Richie and Eddie on their first day of middle school. As they did that, Kathy called The Denbroughs, The Hanlon’s, The Hanscom’s and The Uris’s, giving them all a message for their kids. Richie was out of the hospital, and he was moving in with her and Bev. After carrying everything down to the car and taking one last look around the empty house, Richie nodded, “We can go.”

 

Kathy smiled and lightly pat his back as they got into the car and drove home. When they pulled into the driveway, Richie was surprised to see the rest of his friends there waiting. He got out of the car slowly, “What..”

 

“W-We c-came to help you g-get your room ready.” Bill smiled.

 

Richie looked over at his friends and felt his heart warm. Damn it he was not going to cry again.

Chapter Text

Richie couldn’t lift much but he helped as much as he could as the losers carried everything up to the spare bedroom, just down the hall from Beverly’s. Kathy followed them and looked around the room, “It’s not incredibly big, and we should probably wash the bedding because it’s probably covered in dust… and it’s all admittedly a little girly but-”

 

Richie shook his head, “It’s perfect… really.” He smiled over to her, “I mean… yeah I’ll wash the sheets and shit but just- Thank you.”

 

She smiled a little, “Let me know if you guys need anything.” She went downstairs to let them help Richie unpack.

 

Richie looked around the room, and at his friends, biting his lip a little to keep his emotions under control. It meant so much that they were here for him, that they had been there for him in the hospital… that they were always here for him. “Alright, listen up fuckers.” Richie pushed up his glasses, “I’m gonna hug you all and you’re gonna shut the fuck up about it.” He pulled the closest person, Bill, into a hug. Bill hugged him back gently, being sure not to hurt Richie. “Thank you.” Richie mumbled into his shoulder.

 

Bill nodded, “Y-You’re welcome Ri-Richie.” He smiled and let go.

 

Richie hugged each of his friends, hugging Eddie last, and for the longest. He kissed his cheek and grinned, “Alright now that the sappy shits’ outta the way, let’s get this shit done! Eds, you help me with clothes to fold so you can tell me how wrong I fold shit and I can sit there trying to help but doing practically nothing when you take the fuck over and I don’t hurt myself in the proccess.”

 

“Don’t fuckin’ call me that.” Eddie muttered, but began helping.

Beverly hung up Richie’s jeans and T-shirts in the closet, while Eddie and Richie folded his pajamas and sorted out his other clothes. Bill and Ben organized his things on the desk, as Mike and Stan chose where to hang the pictures. The picture of him and Eddie  was directly in Richie’s line of vision from the bed, which Richie was sure was intentional,but he had no complaints. Stan took a long time making sure that the pictures were hung straight, but they still all finished before Eddie and Richie. They took the bedding off of the mattress and put the sheets and pillows into the washing machine before they sat on the bed and started folding the clothes that weren’t going in the closet.

 

“You can’t just roll it up Richie,that isn’t folding!”

 

“But it’s faster!” Richie shrugged.

 

“It’s sloppy and it makes your clothes wrinkle!” Eddie huffed.

 

“It’s pajamas Eds! They don’t have to be in pristine condition!” Richie rolled his eyes.

 

“Folding them leaves more room in the drawers for more clothes to actually fit!”

 

Fine we’ll do it your way!” Richie rolled his eyes and started to attempt to fold the pair of pajama pants but, even actually trying he didn’t do all that well.

 

Mike looked over to Stan and quirked an eyebrow. Had Richie really just given in?

 

Eddie watched him,”Here look, it helps if you do it like this.” He showed Richie.

 

Richie nodded and did it again. It wasn’t half as neat as what Eddie had done, but it was better than his first attempt, “Like that?” 

 

Eddie nodded, “Much better.” They continued on. Once the clothes were folded, Richie leaned into Eddie, who didn’t push him away, and instead put an arm around Richie’s shoulders. 

 

Everyone sat on the bed once it was cleared off. Noticing the exchange, Bill looked over to Ben who shrugged.

 

Richie smiled a little and took a slow breath as he looked around the room. He barely registered the pain he was in because of the overwhelming amount of comfort and safety he felt. He rested his head on Eddie’s and closed his eyes, just taking in the moment. He was away from his parents. He was safe. His friends were here to help him, and he was snuggled against the cutest fiery boyfriend in the history of cute short boyfriends with anger problems. He was fine, he just had to push all of the thoughts about his dad nearly killing him down deep into his mind. Eddie smiled a little and leaned a little closer. Richie pulled back, only a little, “Can you guys believe I live down the hall from Molly Ringwald now?”

 

Bev flipped him off, but smiled a little.

 

“It’s good I’m gay as fuck, Haystack.” Richie teased.

 

Ben rolled his eyes playfully, “I’d be more worried about you annoying Bev than anything happening.”

 

Richie put a hand over his heart, “Are you saying that I would be unable to sweep Bev off her feet?”

 

“You couldn’t sweep anyone off their feet even if you had step by step directions.” Eddie reached up and flicked Richie’s cheek.

 

Richie grinned and turned his head, biting Eddie’s finger.

 

“Ow! What the fuck asshole?” Eddie huffed and tried to pull his hand back. 

 

Richie gently grabbed his hand and kisses where he’d bitten him, “There, all better Eds!” He let go and ruffled Eddie’s hair.

 

Eddie blushed, “I fucking hate you.”

 

No  you don’t Eddie Spaghetti!” Richie kissed the top of his head and laced their fingers briefly before letting go of Eddie’s hand.

 

Stan rolled his eyes, “I need to get home, I’ll see you guys later.”

 

After Stan left, it wasn’t long before Bill and Mike did as well. Richie stayed glued to Eddie the entire time, playing with his hair or finding any excuse to touch him. It was driving him crazy, he hadn’t kissed Eddie since this morning and now he could . It didn’t take much longer for Richie to snap.

 

“Do you need to be heading home soon too?” Richie asked him quietly.

 

Eddie shrugged, “Probably, but I already didn’t go straight home so I may as well just make being in trouble more worth it.” He looked up at Richie, “Why? Are you tired? I can go if you need rest.”

 

Richie smiled and cupped his cheek, “I was just trying to keep you out of trouble Eds.. but if you insist on being a little rebel…” He grinned.

 

Ben quirked an eyebrow.

 

“Fuck you I-”  The rest of Eddie’s sentence would be forever lost once Richie leaned in and cut him off with a kiss.

 

“What?” Ben looked over to Bev who rolled her eyes.

 

“Apparently they finally figured out they’re madly in love with each other.” Beverly looked over at Ben, “And they intend to see how long it takes for someone else to figure it out.. That lasted long.” She snorted.

 

Richie pulled back, “I can shut you up now too.” He smirked before looking over to Ben, “You’re sworn to secrecy.” He leaned in and pecked Eddie’s lips one more time.

 

Ben rolled his eyes, “Why?”

 

“Because! I wanna see how long it takes.” Richie shrugged.

 

“I think it took less than a day.” Eddie looked up at him.

 

“Fine, Fine but still, don’t tell them Haystack.” Richie laced his fingers with Eddie’s.

 

“You suck, we could have gone weeks.” Eddie teased.

 

“I couldn’t help myself! I’m allowed to kiss you now and I haven’t done it since this morning ! I was fucking dyin’ Eds.” Richie grinned.

 

“Weeks is pushing it. They were already getting suspicious with Eddie not pushing you away.” Bev snorted and stood.

 

“You’re exaggerating again.” Eddie smiled up at him.

 

“Not a bit, my dearest Eds.” Richie shook his head, “My heart was about to give out from the lack of lip to lip contact with you.” He grinned.

 

“You’re such an idiot.” Eddie rolled his eyes.

 

“Before there’s any more of that lip to lip contact, let’s escape.” Bev took Ben’s hand and the two left the room, closing it behind them.

 

“Like we don’t know you’re gonna go do some lip to lip contact of your own!” Richie called out to them as the door shut.

 

Eddie giggled and stood, “Let’s go switch out the laundry.”

 

They put the sheets and pillows into the dryer, and the comforter in the washing machine. Kathy ordered pizza and the five of them ate in the kitchen before Ben went home. Richie and Eddie headed back upstairs with the bedding.

 

“Eds, you should really get home before your mom kills all of us.” Richie looked over to him.

 

Eddie shook his head, “I saw your folding, there’s no way in hell you can make a fuckin’ bed Rich.”

 

Richie put a hand over his heart, “How dare-”

 

“Plus, you don’t need to…. It’d be hard to do it without hurting your ribs..” Eddie looked over to him, “So help me asshole.” They made the bed, bickering the entire time, before Richie plopped down onto the bed and looked over to Eddie as he plopped down beside him.

 

“Eds-”

 

Eddie didn’t want to hear Richie tell him he needed to go home again, so he kissed him to shut him the fuck up. He slid a hand into Richie’s curls. Richie sighed softly into the kiss and gave in, pulling Eddie closer. He wrapped one arm around Eddie’s waist, and cupped his cheek with his other hand. Richie deepened the kiss, smiling a little as he heard Eddie’s breath catch. Eddie kissed him harder in retaliation, but gasped and pulled back when Richie lightly bit his lip. Eddie’s cheeks were bright pink, and fuck he was cute. “Cute, cute cute!” Richie reached up and pinched his cheeks lightly before he leaned up and caught Eddie’s lips in another kiss.

 

Eddie gently pushed him down to lie on his back, “You’re such an asshole, Rich.” He leaned down and kissed him again.

 

Richie grinned and kissed back, reaching up and sliding a hand into Eddie’s hair. When Eddie pulled back and curled into him, he wrapped an arm around him, “Eds you should get home…”

 

“I know…” Eddie looked over at him, “Soon, okay? I just…” He sat up a little to get a better look at Richie’s face, “How are you feeling, Rich?”

 

Richie shrugged, “Pretty fuckin’ good..”

 

Eddie frowned a little, “Yeah, I get that part of it… but there’s more and you’re… You went through a lot of shit yesterday, Rich…”

 

“Eds it’s-”

 

“You’re smiling every time someone’s looking at you… but when you think no one is… you look pretty fuckin’ far from being fine.”

 

Richie looked up at Eddie at met his eyes, “I’m just in a fuck-ton of pain too.” He shrugged, “It’s gonna fuck with me.” Though he tried to seem casual, he couldn’t hide the pain in his eyes.

 

Eddie leaned in and kissed his forehead, “If you were still upset after everything… it’s okay. Just because things are drastically better today doesn’t mean… you can’t be upset over yesterday.”

 

Richie looked away, “I don’t give a fuck about the bad shit that happened yesterday. I’m fuckin’ fine Eds. You should go home-”

 

“Rich…” Eddie gently tilted his head back to look at him, “I get… you feeling like you’ve been way too emotional lately but… a lot has happened… and it took a lot for you to finally… break down a little. You always hide behind that big mouth of yours.. But you don’t have to do that… especially not with me.”

 

Richie bit his lip and pulled Eddie down into a tight hug, a quiet sniffle escaping him. Eddie held him close, gently rubbing his back as Richie’s walls fell and he let himself be upset. Eddie didn’t push for him to talk, he just let Richie cry until the loudmouth in his arms fell asleep. Eddie’s own eyes were red and puffy by the time he gently kissed his forehead and slipped out of the room, ready to face any guilt tripping Sonia Kaspbrak had for him.

Chapter Text

Richie woke up in the morning to the sound of his radio alarm. He groaned and hit it, only realizing afterwards that his glasses had been taken off again. He smiled a little and picked them up from the nightstand. He sat up just as there was a gentle knock at his door. “Yeah?”

 

Bev opened the door a little, “Just making sure you woke up, Rich.” She smiled and stepped into the room, “You feel like school today?”

 

Richie nodded, “Yeah I already missed two days I’m going to drown in the makeup work already..” He grabbed his pack of cigarettes, “I don’t think I’ve seen my face…. How fucked up do I look?”

 

Beverly scrunched her nose, “How honest do you want me to be?”

 

“Fuck, that bad?”

 

Bev laughed and snatched a cigarette from his pack, “Nah, it’s not that bad.” She lit her cigarette and opened Richie’s window, “You’re bruised as hell but the swelling isn’t so bad now. You looked pretty bad when Aunt Kathy and I got there to take you to the hospital though, Rich..” She frowned.

 

“Hey, I’m okay now.” Richie smiled and gently squeezed her hand before lighting his cigarette, “I can’t believe she’s letting me stay here..”

 

“I think she’s thought about it for a while..” Bev took a drag and looked over to him, “She’s asked me about how shit was for you at home… and I told her that you’re an asshole who doesn’t really tell us that shit.” She scolded lightly before she sighed softly, “Shit was pretty bad for me too, I guess… you reminded her of me, a little… and she was glad to get me out of that stuff…” Bev shrugged, “She’s always liked you too. She’s delusional enough to think you’re funny.”

 

“I’m hilarious , thank you.” Richie grinned and took a drag before he shrugged a shoulder,”Your aunt has always been cool as hell but… that’s incredibly fucking...selfless.” He looked over to her, “I… feel guilty.” He admitted.

 

Bev shook her head and sat closer, “You don’t need to. She can easily afford to take you in, and we had the room. Plus she told me that your condition was to get a job and help pay bills so.. You don’t have any reason to feel guilty..”

 

Richie took another drag and shrugged, “I’m not exactly the most pleasant person to deal with all the fuckin’ time Bev.”

 

“You’re not?” She gasped.

 

Richie held a blank expression as he flipped her off, “Fuck you, I know I’m a lot to deal with.”

 

Bev grinned and lightly nudged him, “You aren’t that bad, Rich… hell your house was a wreck but your bedroom was always fairly clean.. For a teenage boy’s room anyways.”

 

“I dunno, have you ever seen Eddie’s room? Disgustingly immaculate.”  Richie scoffed and took another drag.

 

“Speaking of!” Bev lightly hit his shoulder, “I never got the full story! How the fuck did that happen!?”

 

Richie snorted and shrugged, “Well, yanno you walked in when we nearly kissed… when we got to my house I played it really cool and here we are.” Richie shrugged.

 

Beverly snorted, “And the nonfictional version is…?”

 

“I totally fuckin’ freaked out.” Richie laughed, “I apologized and probably said fuck fourteen times in one sentence..” He shook his head, “It ended with him telling me to shut the fuck up so he could kiss me..”

 

Bev grinned, “About fuckin’ time.” She put out her cigarette and lightly bumped her shoulder with his, “I’m happy for you, Rich.” She stood, “I’m gonna help my aunt with breakfast, there’s an extra toothbrush in the bathroom and soap and shit for a shower.”

 

“Are you saying I smell?” Richie asked in mock offense.

 

“No, I’m saying there’s dried blood still in your fuckin’ hair.” She rolled her eyes and left the room.

 

Richie grabbed a change of clothes and went to the bathroom, having already planned on showering. He went into the bathroom and looked at the mirror, “Holy fuck..” He opened the door, “Molly Ringwald if this doesn’t look fucking terrible to you- you need fuckin’ glasses too!” The left side of his face was incredibly bruised, and there was a cut across his cheekbone. The bruising went down his jaw and slid down his neck a little. His lip wasn’t swollen anymore, but it still looked pretty bad. He took off his shirt and looked down at his chest and… fuck his stomach was almost entirely covered in bruises. He  took a slow breath and showered, getting all of the blood out of his hair. He stepped out and dried off before getting dressed. He grabbed his dirty clothes and put them in the hamper, before walking downstairs and into the kitchen, “Good morning, lovely ladies.” He bowed playfully and winced, immediately regretting the decision. He stood upright, his face screwed up in pain.

 

Kathy snorted and shook her head, “Speaking of pain..” She grabbed the prescription bottle off of the counter and handed it to Richie, “You forgot to take those upstairs.”

 

“You are a lifesaver.” Richie unscrewed the bottle of pain pills and took one.

 

“How’s your chest feel?” She asked.

 

“Like an elephant stomped on me…” Richie gave her a thumbs up.

 

“Are you sure you don’t want to stay home today, Rich?” Beverly frowned.

 

“I can’t miss another fuckin’ day. Plus it’s chicken nuggets for lunch, can’t miss that.” Richie sat down.

 

Bev and her aunt shared a look before both turned to Richie.

 

“You should stay home.. We can go get your classwork before I have to go to work.”

 

Richie shook his head, “I… I don’t need to be alone today..” He glanced up at them, “I need… a normal shitty day at school to keep my head out of...everything.”

 

Kathy nodded in understanding, “Okay, well I’m going to give you guys a ride to school.. I won’t be off in time to give you a ride back though.”

 

Richie shook his head, “That’s fine… really you’re doing so much. I can walk home.” He smiled.

 

Kathy gently ruffled his hair before she started getting plates. The three of them looked toward the living room when there was a knock. Richie gripped the edge of the table. 

 

Kathy walked over to the door, and visibly relaxed, “Morning Eddie.”

 

“Good morning ma’am.” 

 

Richie jumped up to his feet, “Your mom didn’t kill you!”

 

Eddie huffed, “Not yet..” He looked up at Richie and smiled a little, “How are you feeling, Rich?”

 

“Fantastic.” Richie reached out and took Eddie’s hand.

 

Eddie rolled his eyes and laced their fingers,”I just had to come see how you’re doing before school..” He blushed a little.

 

“I appreciate it but I’m going to school, Eds.” Richie quirked an eyebrow.

 

“Are you fucking-” Eddie looked over at Beverly’s aunt and blushed,”Sorry I-”

 

“I’m sharing a house with that kid.” She nodded toward Richie, “I knew the risk of hearing swearing before I agreed.” She snorted and went into the kitchen.

 

Eddie looked back up at Richie, the fire back in his eyes, “You are not going to school today, shithead. You were in the hospital yesterday!”

 

“And they released me…” Richie shrugged and pulled Eddie close, speaking softly, “I can’t stay by myself for that long… I’ll get too wrapped up in everything that happened and.. I just, I just need a normal day.”

 

Eddie wanted to fight him on this, and he nearly did… but Richie’s soft, sad voice won. “Okay, Rich… but if it gets to be too much-”

 

“I’ll be fine.” Richie kissed the top of his head, “I promise.”

 

Eddie leaned up and pecked his lips, “You’re so damn stubborn.”

 

“Like an ox.” Richie grinned and kissed him again.



By the end of the day, Richie was cursing the idiot version of himself that decided going to school would be a good idea. Everything hurt. He got bumped into an insane amount, and he had so much fuckin’ makeup work to do. He was incredibly fuckin’ overwhelmed. But he promised he’d be fine, so he threw on a grin as he leaned against Eddie’s the fence and waited for Eddie, lighting a cigarette. He heard Eddie before he saw him.

 

“Do you have any idea how bad those are for you?” Eddie sighed.

 

Richie glanced over to him, “I’m pretty sure I’ve already exceeded my expected lifespan if you take the killer clown into consideration.”

 

Eddie sighed, “That doesn’t make it any less fuckin’ bad for you asshole!”

 

“Right you are.” Richie took a long drag and closed his eyes.

 

“Are you coming or what?” Eddie tilted his head.

 

“Yeah, just give me a sec, Eds.” Richie contained a wince as well as he could, but his lips twitched from the pain and Eddie caught on.

 

“Take off your backpack.”

 

“Eds-”

 

“Just fuckin’ do it.”

 

Richie slipped the bag off of his shoulders and tried to catch it but it fell right on the ground.

 

Eddie leaned down and picked it up, “Jesus it’s heavy as fuck.”

 

“Makeup work… need most of my books.” Richie shrugged, “Just give me a sec, I can-”

 

“Absolutely not. I am not letting my irritating and injured boyfriend carry a backpack that’s a hundred pounds.”

 

Richie smiled a little, “Thanks, shithead.” He started walking with him, “Are you sure my hundred pound backpack isn’t gonna break your arms though?”

 

“I’ll just use my rage to get it to Bev’s.” Eddie huffed, “Should have fuckin’ made you stay home.”

 

“Thanks for the concern mom, but I’m fine. The bag’s just fuckin’ heavy.”

 

“Don’t give me that shit.” Eddie glared over to him.

 

What shit?”

 

“You know what shit.” Eddie walked with him.

 

“I really don’t.” Richie huffed.

 

“Your- this! This ‘I’m Richie Tozier and I don’t give a fuck about anything’ shit!” 

 

“And you guys say my voices are bad.” Richie rolled his eyes.

 

“Richie!”

 

“Alright! The day sucked, okay? I got bumped into a thousand times and everything fuckin’ hurts! I have so much makeup work that I’m never going to get the shit done and I’ve been worrying about one of my parents showing up to pick me up the entire fuckin’ day so they could finish the job!” Richie ran a hand through his hair, “But I still- it’s still better than staying home alone. I’d be freaking about about the same shit with no distractions and I-” He took a shaky breath, “I couldn’t fuckin’ sit there and let myself freak out all day. So the day fuckin’ sucked, but it was going to suck no matter what.”

 

Eddie listened to him and put a hand on his shoulder, “I’ll help with your makeup work. I don’t have much homework tonight, it won’t be a problem.”

 

“Your mom-”

 

“Already thinks I’m going to be studying with Stan at the library for a test.” Eddie shrugged, “I planned in advance.” He gave Richie a smug smile.

 

“So much rebelling in one week Eddie Spaghetti.” Richie smirked, “Must be hanging around a bad influence.” He shook his head.

 

Eddie scoffed, “Must be.” He looked up at Richie and smiled, “But he’s my bad influence.”

 

“You’re so full of sweet insults.” Richie swooned.

 

“G-Guys w-wait up!” Bill and the others ran over to them.

 

Richie looked over at Eddie and shrugged, “Better time than ever I guess, if you’re ready.”

 

Eddie nodded a little, “You get to do it.”

 

“Because me coming out went so smoothly.” Richie snorted. Once everyone made it over, “Hey guys you should meet my boyfriend.”

 

“Someone agreed to date you?” Stan looked directly at Eddie, who blushed.

 

Richie grinned, “Yep. Eds can’t resist me.”

 

“C-Congrats on f-finally getting your heads out of your a-asses.” Bill teased, but still smiled.

 

“Shh Eds doesn’t know how flexible I am yet.” Richie winked, earning himself an elbow to the side, “Ow!”

 

“Shit-fuck I’m so sorry Rich I-” Eddie cut off when Richie burst into laughter.

 

“God, your fuckin’ face!”

 

“I fucking hate you.” Eddie crossed his arms.

 

“You adore me, Buttercup.”

 

The next few days were a blur in Richie’s mind. When he stepped into the police station with Kathy and Eddie, everything was a blur except for his last moments with his father. He sat down in the waiting area, his knee bouncing anxiously. Kathy sat on one side of him, and Eddie sat on the other. 

 

“They just need your statement, sweetie. You won’t have to talk to him, or even see him.” Kathy spoke gently.

 

“I’m fine.” Richie muttered. 

 

Eddie wanted to hold Richie’s hand, but he knew how dangerous that could get in a public setting for the two of them. He gently squeezed Richie’s shoulder instead. Richie gave him a grateful smile before jumping with a door opened.

 

“Richard Tozier?” He looked between Eddie and Richie.

 

“Probably the one that looks like they got the shit kicked out of them.” Richie muttered as he stood, “Richie.” He corrected.

 

“Richie… follow me.” The officer led Richie back through the door, into an office and sat down.

 

Richie fidgeted and sat down, his knee starting to bounce immediately.

 

“Your father says you came at him first-”

 

Richie scoffed.

 

“I don’t believe him. I’m only telling you what he said. He said you came at him with a pocket knife, and he had to defend himself. You had a pocket knife upstairs in your bedroom, but there wasn’t one found in the kitchen, and there wasn’t one in your pocket when you got to the hospital so he doesn’t have any proof of that. Even if he’d done this out of self defense, you’d have gotten a hit or two in and there isn’t a bruise on him… You said you have a witness?”

 

Richie nodded a little, “My… friend. He was outside, he saw a lot through the window before he broke it to drag my unconscious ass out of there.”

 

The officer nodded, “If he’ll give us a statement that will help. As far as your living situation.. Staying with a friend isn’t customary, but if you feel safe there, all we have to do is sign some paperwork to get it taken care of.”

 

Richie nodded a little, “Is he gonna get out?”

 

The officer sighed, “Temporarily, until he’s taken to court… he could. So you’re going to have a protection order.. Your school will be notified not to let either of your parents on campus, or call to talk to you… and before you say it, I know it’s just a piece of paper. If it were up to me I’d handcuff his ass and let you get your own justice, but legally… this is the best we can do. And if he breaks it one time, he’s automatically getting jail time before the trial even starts.”

 

Richie nodded a little and explained what had happened, even including spitting blood in his father’s face. He told him that it had gone on for years, but it had never gotten that bad. He told him about the neglect. Despite years of downplaying his home life as much as possible, Richie told the officer everything. The officer took detailed notes, and then spoke to Eddie. After they were finished, Kathy and Richie both signed custody paperwork, then stepped outside. On the car ride back to Bev’s, Eddie and Richie held hands in the back seat. Richie looked like he’d been through hell, and in a way he had. He unloaded a lot of shit he’d kept to himself for so long… he just wanted to fuckin’ sleep. Not long after the two went upstairs to Richie’s room, he fell asleep curled into Eddie, his head on his chest. The sound of Eddie’s heartbeat and soft voice lulled Richie right to sleep.