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Hold My Hand and Take Deep Breaths as We Watch the Dust Settle

Chapter Text

Richie sat across from a greying man behind a desk. The office was small, and stuffy. The desk was covered in papers and there was a shelf full of boxes, each nearly bursting with paperwork. Richie’s knee bounced as the spoke to the manager at Freese’s Department store. This was his fourth job interview, and so far he hadn’t been doing well. He had gotten his hair trimmed, but he liked it being longer so he didn’t cut it very short. The bruising had faded and the cut on his cheek was a very light scar. He spoke quickly and nervously before the man behind the desk cut him off.

 

“Mr. Tozier… since I started counting, you have sworn sixteen times.” He sighed and looked over to him, “I’m sure you would be excellent at the job otherwise, but-”

 

“Fuck- I’m sorry. I’m sorry I.. I can stock shelves or unload deliveries or- anything. Anything you need that keeps my mouth away from customers-I’ll clean the fuckin’ ceiling I-”

 

The man studied Richie before he sighed, “As well as cashiers… we do need someone to stock shelves.” He should have told this little loudmouth to kick rocks, but… he felt the boy deserved a chance. He not only looked incredibly desperate, but the news of the abuse in the Tozier home spread around Derry quickly when Wentworth was arrested. “Customers will still talk to you to ask where something is, and if you swear at them, you’re done. Got it?”

 

Richie nodded, “Yes sir. Thank you so f- so much. “ he smiled sheepishly and shook the man’s hand.

 

And that was how, despite previous failed attempts, Richie and his trashmouth got a job. He disliked that he got to see Eddie less on days he worked, but he always had a full day on the weekends to spend with Eddie, and he felt like that helped to make up for it. Plus, there was always climbing into Eddie’s room after a shift at work. Richie made time for his boyfriend as often as he could. He would be working even more during the summer, but without school adding another complication, it would be easier to spend time with Eddie. Richie was giving Kathy half of his paychecks to chip in with bills, then splitting his half into money to spend and money to save. He was saving for moving after school, but he was also saving for Eddie’s birthday. Eddie’s mother, of course, insisted on having a birthday party which made Eddie cringe, but the day after, which happened to be Richie’s own birthday, Eds was all Richie’s. And if he passed his driver’s test the week before, he wouldn’t have to ask Kathy to drive them. She’d already agreed to let Richie take the car if he passed. She’d been helping him and Bev practice before their test. Richie had needed the most help. She’d been helping Bev for months, so Bev was practically a pro, but Richie hadn’t been behind the wheel a single time. He’d passed his permit test three times before they each expired and he had to retake them. But with Kathy and Bev helping, Richie didn’t take too long to get the hang of it. He only hit one trash can that was pulled to the curb. Well, he hit it two different times, but it was still only one trash can. He was doing much better now, and he was sure he and Bev were both going to walk out, drivers licenses in hands. It made Eddie a little sad that his mother wouldn’t let him take it, insisting he wait another year, when he’s eighteen. Bill, Mike, Stan and Ben all had theirs already, but they still typically walked everywhere since their parents always had the cars. Richie told him he’d drive him anywhere he ever wanted to go, and while Eddie’s point was more that he wanted to be able to drive, it definitely made him feel better.

 

Richie stocked the shelves as customers wandered around. He’d slipped up and said fuck more than a few times, but most customers didn’t seem to mind too much. No one had reported him yet, so he felt he was doing okay. It was a Saturday morning, so it was busy. He was happy to do his own thing while the cashiers had to deal with all of the bitchy people. How had he applied as a cashier at first? Hard fuckin’ pass. He opened a box of soap and began stacking them neatly on a shelf as he heard a familiar voice.

 

“Excuse me?”

 

Be nice. You need this fucking job. Be nice.

 

“Hey Mrs. K!” He spoke before turning, grinning at her, “How can I help ya?”

 

She blinked, clearly surprised to see Richie here. “I’m looking for antibacterial hand soap. It keeps getting rearranged and-”

 

“No problem Mrs. K.” Richie glanced over to where it should be on the shelf, “Don’t have any out, let me find it.” He searched through the boxes before finding the right one, “This one, right?” He opened the box and took it out.

 

She smiled a little, “That’s the one.” She took it as he held it out. Most stockboys would give her some bull about how they didn’t get any in, rather than go out of their way to search for it. Maybe getting away from his family and getting a job really was straightening the boy out. “You do know about Eddie’s party this weekend?”

 

Richie smiled a little, “Yes ma’am.” And Eds is dreading it more and more every day.  

 

“If you aren’t working, you should come.” 

 

Richie had not expected that. He was going regardless, but.. An invitation from Sonia Kaspbrak herself? Was he high? Was she high!? “I’ll be there.” He smiled a bit, then decided to take a risk, “You know, my birthday is actually the next day, funnily enough.. With...everything I just wanted to have fun for the day. I was thinking about going to the zoo… do you mind if Eddie comes? Oh! But… don’t tell him it’s the zoo. It’s kinda my present to him too.” One of them, at least. The zoo was far less about Richie’s birthday than it was about Eddie’s.

 

Sonia considered this for a moment, “The zoo is a little far… I’ll talk with Ms. Howard about Eddie spending the night since you’ll probably get back late.”

 

I think my jaw is actually on the fucking floor. Richie managed to keep himself from swearing a lot in surprise. “That sounds great- thank you!” Richie smiled. What in the goddamn fucking fuck!?  



Richie ran to Eddie’s house after work, having no time to smoke. He had to talk to Eddie. He climbed up to the window and knocked softly.

 

Eddie looked over at him and hurried over, opening to the window, “What the fuck did you do ?”

 

Richie climbed in, “Your mom is fuckin’ posessed. This is some The Exorcist shit!”

 

“Apparently you talked her into stealing me Sunday and spending the night? That’s a school night!” 

 

“I fuckin’ know Eds! And I live with a girl ! The same girl your mother rudely implied is- not the point. What the fuck, Eds?”

 

“I don’t fucking know! Did you drug her? You can’t drug my mom-”

 

“No! I just… she wanted some soap that wasn’t on the shelf yet so I dug around the boxes I had to put up and found it?”

 

Eddie snorted, “She mentioned that but.. That’s it?”

 

Richie shrugged, “That’s fuckin’ it Eds.” He walked over and sat on Eddie’s bed, his Freese’s shirt still tucked into his black slacks for work.

 

Eddie grinned a little, “All that teasing for my shirts being tucked in… who’s the dork now, Rich?”

 

“Still you. I get paid to tuck my shirt in. You do it willingly for no reason.” Richie shot back, wrapping his arm around Eddie’s shoulder, “Your mom’s never really gonna like me… but I’m gonna try my best to make it last while it does.” He snorted.

 

“What the hell are we even doing Sunday?”

 

“Patience is a virtue, Eds.” Richie kissed his cheek.

 

“It’s your birthday.”

 

Richie shrugged, “Yeah?”

 

“Shouldn’t we be doing something… for your birthday and not mine?” Eddie leaned into him.

 

Richie smiled, “Spending a whole day with you? Best birthday I can imagine.” He leaned in and kissed him softly.

 

Eddie blushed and kissed back, “You could at least tell-”

 

Richie leaned in and kissed him again, lightly biting his bottom lip before pulling back, “Nope… I gotta get back to Bev’s. If I don’t go now and shower before I pass out I won’t wake up in time to shower.” He smiled a little, “Later, boyfriend.”

 

Eddie walked over to the window to shut it once Richie climbed down. “See you tomorrow, shithead.”

 

Richie grinned and held onto the windowsill, leaning up to kiss him briefly before climbing down.

Chapter Text

Richie’s knee bounced nervously as he waited for his turn to take the driving test. Bev was driving now, and he was next. He was incredibly nervous. Worst case scenario, if he failed, he’d be able to get a ride Sunday but he really just wanted it be just him and Eddie… and to maybe not feel like a failure. Unsurprisingly, to Richie at least, Bev passed. Fifteen minutes later, Richie ran back inside with a huge grin, “I fuckin’ passed!” Bev and Kathy high fived him, and a while later they left with their licenses in hand. The first place Richie drove was to Eddie’s to tell him he’d passed.



Eddie’s birthday party was… incredibly lame. Eddie seemed close to pointing out the fact that he was not a four year old- but Richie kept him smiling despite it. His mother had decorated the house with streamers and it was all a little over the top, but Eddie found himself looking over at Richie and wanting to do the same stupid shit for his boyfriend’s birthday, instead the idiot intended to make his own birthday about him. But that was fine, Eddie would simply get Richie back by making today about his birthday.. as soon as he escaped his mother. Richie bumped his shoulder lightly, “At least she didn’t hire a clown again.” Eddie shivered. His birthday, the year after they murdered that fucking clown, his mother had hired a clown. Not only had Eddie been too old for a clown then, but it did not get the response Sonia Kaspbrak intended. 

 

Eddie laughed, “No she invited you personally so she cancelled the clown. Didn’t want you going after another one with a baseball bat screaming profanity.”

 

Richie snorted, “I looked insane to everyone who didn’t understand..”

 

Eddie shook his head, “You looked insane to us too.” He grinned and looked up when his mother entered the room again.

 

“Do you need me to get the plates, Mrs. K.?” Richie stood.

 

Eddie couldn’t help but grin a little, seeing how much of a suckup Richie was being. His mother had agreed to let him spend tonight with Richie too, and Richie was hellbent on keeping her from changing her mind.

 

“Yes, please.” She smiled a little and sat the cake on the table.

 

Bev grinned, fully planning to tease Richie relentlessly.

 

Richie discreetly flipped her off while he was grabbing the plates and forks. He would stay in Sonia Kaspbrak’s good graces as long as he possibly could. The second she knew he was sneaking through Eddie’s window in the middle of the night to make out with her precious son, that shit was over. He was gonna make seeing Eddie without her bitching last as long as he could. He walked over and handed everyone a plate, his fingers brushing against Eddie’s when he handed him his. Eddie smiled shyly and took the plate before rolling his eyes as they started singing Happy Birthday . Richie, naturally, sang loudest.

 

Richie had nothing planned for that night beyond being free to lean over and kiss Eddie whenever the urge struck, but it seemed the shorter boy had other plans. "Where are we going?" He asked for the seventh time after he and Eddie left Beverly's. 

 

"You get go see in like five minutes when I still have to wait until tomorrow morning so stop whining." Eddie teased.

 

Richie responded to this by whining, "But Eds.."

 

"Nope." Eddie grinned and led him to the arcade.

 

Richie loved the arcade. Some days though, he wanted to be anywhere else. Some days he couldn’t shake the memory he’d only shared with Eddie a month ago. Eddie worried about that a little, but his boyfriend had been complaining about not being able to go to the arcade with work and school, so he decided it was probably a safe bet. Eddie also hoped it would give Richie some closure, to return to the place that had made him struggle even more with his sexuality, with his boyfriend. Though on the walk, Eddie began to worry it would just make Richie more nervous. The grin on Richie’s face when they got there instantly put Eddie at ease.

 

“The arcade? You never wanna come here with me! All of the germs and blah blah blah- why are we here?” he looked a little confused.

 

Eddie shrugged, “You’re highjacking your own birthday for mine so… we’re going to do something for your birthday tonight.”

 

“That’s not true, tomorrow is more about both-”

 

“Cut the shit, Rich. For the last few years you’ve done this kinda thing… You mildly acknowledge your own birthday, but spend the day doing something I like.. Which is sweet now that I think back on it and realize that that’s what you were doing even though I’m still not sure why  but.. I owe you part of my birthday too then.”

 

Richie was quiet for a few moments before he spoke, “Alright…fine.” He took a slow breath, “The ‘why’ has to wait though… long story.”

 

Eddie nodded in understanding, “Alright… let’s go see if anyone’s beaten your high score in your absence.” He smiled a little and the two went inside the arcade.

 

Despite not being able to come by nearly as often, his high scores on the games he played most often remained intact… except for one. So he spent quite a lot of time on that game, taking turns with Eddie until Trashmouth was at the top of the scoreboard. They played a few more games before Eddie looked over to him, “We should probably get back to Bev’s.”

 

Richie nodded, “Okay…” It wasn’t even dark yet, but Richie was more than okay with spending the rest of the day curled up to Eddie in his bedroom. By the time they got back and he saw a few bikes on the lawn, however, he realized that he was not any closer to cuddling his boyfriend, “What did you do?”

 

“You say that like I’m holding evidence from a crime.” Eddie scoffed.

 

“There’s the evidence.” He gestured to the bikes, “I’m assuming the crime is inside.”

 

“No, this is amending a crime. You haven’t had a birthday party in-”

 

“Four years… yeah. Saw the clown and yours and decided that shit is not for me.” Richie walked up to the door with him, “If they have the audacity to yell surprise when I see their bikes…”

 

Eddie frowned a little, but he wouldn’t ask for now. He had a feeling that this was part of the long story Richie mentioned he’d elaborate on later. He giggled a little, “Stop being so grumpy.” He lightly nudged his shoulder. 

 

“It’s my party, and I’ll be grumpy if I want to.” Richie laced their fingers and opened the door, as Eddie giggled even more at his words.

 

“Sur-”

 

“Your goddamn bikes are in the front lawn !”

 

“-prise!” They shouted over him.

 

Richie rolled his eyes, but smiled a little. There were a few wrapped gifts on the coffee table, and he could see a cake on the kitchen table, but it wasn’t decorated ridiculously like Eddie’s party had been, thank god. Just his friends, cake, and a few presents. Richie could do this. 

 

“Spoil sport.” Bev hugged him, “Though you probably are exhausted to sucking up to Eddie’s mom.” She teased with a grin.

 

“You have no fuckin’ idea, Red.” Richie huffed as he hugged back, “But it paid off. I get my boyfriend for 48 hours, so.”

 

“Glad I’m worth you trying to be pleasant for a few hours.” Eddie rolled his eyes.

 

Richie grinned, “Most days, at least.”

 

“Most days!?”

 

Stan rolled his eyes, “Can we just get to it before you two use this as an excuse to make out?”

 

Bill nodded, “I-I second that.”

 

“Alright, alright.” Richie held his hands up in surrender, “We won’t-” he then lightly pecked Eddie’s lips anyways before pulling back with a grin. He sat down and opened the presents, a little suspicious of how long Eddie had been planning this. They had each gotten him something for his new bedroom, and Richie downplayed how much that meant to him as much as possible, but fuck it meant a lot. With his parents, his room didn’t have many sentimental items. The pictures were probably the most sentimental, but now he had that and a reminder of each of his friends. Ben got him a few band posters, Stan gave him a drawer organizer for his desk, Mike gave him a few books, Bill gave him a more recent framed picture of them all that had The Losers Club and all of their names written on it, and Beverly gave him a new radio to replace his old one. He thanked them all and hugged them, unable to keep from smiling.

 

“Wh-What did you get him, Eddie?” Bill asked, thinking he missed it.

 

Eddie blushed, “We.. decided to exchange gifts at midnight.”

 

Richie shook his head, “No, you get yours at 11:59. I get mine at midnight.” 

 

“I don’t know if that’s nauseously sweet or some form of innuendo.” Bev snorted.

 

Richie howled with laughter at that. It was definitely nothing like that, but… he stored that thought for later on in the future.

 

“Hey, Rich.” Kathy tossed him a small box.

 

“Oh you didn’t-”

 

“Zip it.” She smiled, “I didn’t do it out of obligation. I’ve been planning in secret with Bevvie.”

 

Richie’s eyebrows furrowed as he opened it. There was a metal, engraved keychain that said Beep Beep Richie with a copy of the house key, and a copy of the car key. “I’m getting beeped by inanimate objects now?” He rolled his eyes playfully, then blinked. This wasn’t a copy of the key, this had the same scratches the other- “No fuckin’ way.”

 

“I was wondering when that part would sink in.” Kahty smiled a little.

 

“No…” Richie looked up at her shaking his head, “No, no no really no fuckin’ way. I can’t.. Kat I can’t-”

 

“I told you he’d take it well.” Eddie took Richie’s other hand, “Breathe. And listen.”

 

“I am breathing I-”

 

“They might not have moved their bikes to the back, but I did put my new car there.”

 

“That… that’s fantastic Bev should get-”

 

“We were going to share the old one.” Beverly piped up, “But.. you have a job and shit, Rich. You need a car more than me.”

 

“I walk most days I don’t-”

 

“Richie..” Kahty spoke gently, “Will the condition that Bev gets the car if she needs it and I need mine make you feel better?” She offered before sighing, “Honey, you’re working as much as you can to save up for after you graduate and you’re doing really well but… getting a car too? It would be next to impossible. And when the time comes, I’ll be able to help Bev… but if I was to give her this car now, and then try to help you get a car later… you’d shut down the idea entirely. I was already thinking about it when Bev said we should give you the car… we’re in complete agreement here, kiddo.” She gently ruffled Richie’s hair.

 

She was right. Richie was already stressing over if he’d have enough to move at all, a car was out of the question. He lightly chewed on his bottom lip as he looked over to Bev, trying to find any trace of her not being on board… but she would come up with this shit. “Fuck.” He hugged them both.

 

“I’ll take that as you agreeing to take the car.” Kathy hugged back.

 

Bev smiled and ruffled his hair, “Plus I have a boyfriend who’s getting a car soon. I’ll make him take me everywhere.” She grinned over at Ben.

 

Ben smiled back, knowing damn well he’d drive her to Mexico at 2am if that’s what she wanted.

 

After singing Happy birthday for the second time that day and having cake, their friends headed home. Richie thanked everyone again before he and Eddie went up to his room, and he sat everything down, going to the bed and collapsing, “You fuckin’ knew..” Richie shook his head, “Ultimate betrayal.”

 

Eddie shrugged weakly, “Bev told me… and I told her you’d freak out but...  her aunt had a point.”

 

“I know.. It just… I feel like I’m already taking so much-”

 

“Rich… you have been reluctant about every bit of help you’ve gotten… you’re definitely not taking advantage. She offered and… she has the means. If I could I would want to help someone too.”

 

Richie nodded a little and sighed, “Since we’re already in kinda heavy territory.. My first birthday after...It, the day after I nearly killed a normal clown.. My parents didn’t acknowledge that it was my birthday at all… and, things had gotten kinda bad at that point but it still surprised me… and hurt. So I went to sulk in the clubhouse… and I found your ass with a few cupcakes leftover from your party and… you didn’t ask… you could tell I wasn’t okay, but you didn’t ask.. You gave me a cupcake and moved off of the hammock so I could lay there… and you were the only person to wish me a happy birthday.”

 

“I thought it was weird you didn’t tell me you were having a birthday party.. I was even a little mad I thought you weren’t inviting me… so I, too went to sulk in the clubhouse..” Eddie smiled a little, “You looked really sad.. I just… I knew that I was wrong… and I knew you didn’t want to talk about it.”

 

Richie nodded a little, “Since then I just… I don’t focus much on my birthday aside from… a good excuse to hang out with you.”

 

Eddie hugged him tightly, “I like that, but I’d also like to focus on your birthday.”



11:59 pm

“Happy Birthday Eds.”

 

Richie handed Eddie a box. It wasn’t wrapped because Richie can’t wrap for shit. Eddie took it and opened it, not caring that it wasn’t wrapped. On the top there was a T-shirt of Richie’s, that he typically just slept in, folded as well as he possibly could fold. Underneath there was a pocket first aid kit, and-god help him- a purple fanny pack. Eddie smiled at the shirt, fully intending to sleep in it as often as possible, rolled his eyes at the first aid kit, but the fanny back made him grin. “You always making fun of my fanny packs…”

 

“Yeah, yeah. They’re super useful, yadda yadda. You’ll want it tomorrow.” Richie grinned.

 

12:00 am

“Happy Birthday, Rich.” Eddie smiled and handed him a wrapped present.

 

Richie opened the present and smiled. There was a note, a bracelet Eddie made, coconut shampoo and a lavender scented candle. The bracelet was braided, with colorful beads spaced out, that definitely made a rainbow pattern. Richie put the bracelet on and unfolded the note.

 

Rich,

Lavender is a really calming smell, and I am unable to cover you in actual lavender, so a candle has to work…
I understand more than most people-maybe more than anyone- how easy it is to get stuck in your own head, and in your worries. So I’m helpful when I’m around, but sadly I can’t spend every night with you yet, so when I’m not around, light the candle and close your eyes. Remember that you are loved, and that your feelings matter. It is okay to feel anxious, it’s okay to feel sad. But try to focus on the things that make you feel relaxed, and happy. If that happens to be a shorter boy who’s laundry smells like lavender, who also smells like coconut, then focus on that. If ever it doesn’t help enough though, my window is always open. Well, it’s not. It’s closed. But I’ll open it for you. Even if we get angry at each other, don’t be afraid to come over… and we’re bound to get pissed at each other. We fight a lot as it is. But your stupid face will probably always make my heart skip a beat… you could be killing me, you know?

-Eds (I hate this nickname so much)

 

Richie hugged him close, “You fuckin’ love it.”

 

“Nope. Hate it.” Eddie hugged back and kissed his cheek.

 

“Am I a dick for not providing a note?” 

 

“Absolutely. I demand one on the spot.” Eddie nodded.

 

Richie snorted, “Dear shithead, you’re a shithead but I love you. Signed, Boyfriend”

 

“You.. You love me?” Eddie looked up at him.

 

Richie’s cheeks reddened, “I… yeah. Since before we started dating so I have definitely slipped up before now.”

 

“You usually add… some smartass thing to it…”

 

“That was soaking in me being a smartass but okay.” Richie huffed.

 

“Yeah but.. It was sincere too.”

 

“Alright. Yeah. Moving on-”

 

“I love you too, Richie…” Eddie laced their fingers, “And you are the shithead in this relationship.” 

 

Richie smiled and kissed his cheek, “I must disagree, boyfriend… you are also definitely a shithead.”



Chapter Text

The morning was off to a rather...bumpy start. It was early and Richie almost would have preferred to stay cuddled up to Eddie all day instead of leaving.

 

“How the fuck am I supposed to know what I need if I don’t know where we’re going Richie!?” Eddie held the purple fanny pack up.

 

Richie rolled his eyes, “Well it’s a public setting so four hundred bandages, and seven bottles of hand sanitizer!”

 

“That is not helpful!”

 

Richie rolled his eyes, “Your usual shit will be fine, I swear. I’m not taking you to fucking space, Eds.” Richie said before he headed downstairs.

 

“You two eating breakfast before you leave?” Beverly asked from the kitchen, smiling lightly, having heard their muffled bickering.

 

God yes maybe he’ll stop being so fucking grumpy.” Richie rolled his eyes, but there was a light smile on his face.

 

“I can hear you!” Eddie huffed, coming downstairs.

 

Good !” Richie stuck his tongue out at him when he walked into the kitchen.

 

“Why do I put up with you, shithead?” Eddie crossed his arms.

 

“Because you looooooove me, boyfriend.” Richie grinned and uncrossed Eddie’s arms, wrapping them around his own waist before he wrapped his own arms around him, hugging him tightly.

 

Eddie huffed but hugged back, “For reasons unknown…” 

 

Beverly snorted, “Alright, if you two start making out right here I'm gonna throw raw eggs at you. Salmonella, Eddie.”

 

Eddie let go of Richie quickly.

 

Richie scrunched his nose, “First you’re telling me I need to tell him, and now you don’t want me making out with him. Make up your mind .”

 

“You can make out all you want… but not with me in the room.” Beverly snorted, “Make yourself fuckin’ useful and help me with breakfast, Rich.”

 

Riche sighed dramatically before he started helping her cook. He wasn’t great at it, having never really be taught, but he helped Bev and Kathy cook when he was home so he could pick some of it up. He was a fantastic scrambled egg chef now.

 

Beverly grabbed Richie’s arm, looking at the bracelet, “That’s cute.”

 

Richie smiled a little, “I thought so.” 

 

Eddie blushed a little, “I still think… you wearing it in public could be dangerous-”

 

“We’re leaving Derry so no one will even know us, plus they even have a gay bar in town so I will be holding your hand and shit because I can …” 

 

“We… please tell me we aren’t-”

 

“Underage Gay bar hopping? No Eds.” Richie grinned, “Next time.”

 

“You aren’t funny.” Eddie huffed.

 

“I’m hilarious. ” Richie grinned.

 

“Beep Beep Reddie.” Bev rolled her eyes, “Your bickering is going to burn breakfast.”

 

Eddie looked over at Richie, his eyebrows furrowed, “The fuck did she say?”

 

“I am responsible for starting it… I called her and Ben Benverly.” Richie shrugged and got back to cooking. 




After eating breakfast and saying goodbye, Eddie and Richie went out to the car.. Richie’s car. Fuck-that was still a little overwhelming. Richie kissed Eddie’s cheek before he started the car and started  driving. 

 

“You did actually get your license right?” Eddie looked over to him.

 

Richie gasped and put a hand over his heart, “Yes, asshole. I’m not gonna risk your life driving with you in the car if I can’t even drive.”

 

“Sounds like some shit you’d do.” Eddie crossed his arms.

 

“Am I the type to joyride without a license? Yes. I’ll give you that… but not with precious cargo.” He reached over and ruffled Eddie’s hair.

 

Eddie huffed and fixed his hair, “Hands on the wheel and eyes on the road, dipshit.”

 

Richie smirked, “If I can bare not seeing your face for so long…” 

 

“I hate you.” Eddie rolled his eyes.

 

“I love you too.”  

 

Richie drove for a while, talking and bickering with Eddie the entire time. The bracelet caught his attention ever so often as he moved the steering wheel, and it made his heart warm. He’d already decided, he was going to wear it all the time. Fuck the homophobia in Derry, it made him happy. He pulled into the parking lot of the zoo, finally able to look over at Eddie when he parked. Everything he went through to get to this point in his life was worth the look on Eddie’s face. His eyes were wide in awe, and there was a grin slowly spreading across his face. Richie would remember that look on Eddie’s face for the rest of his life. 

 

“The zoo?” Eddie looked at him, “Really?”

 

Richie snorted, “Nah, I just parked here so we can walk to that gay bar-”

 

“Richie!” Eddie huffed before scrambling out of his seatbelt to hug him.

 

Richie hugged back tightly and kissed the top of Eddie’s head, “Come on, let’s get started there’s a fuckton of walking to do.” He took off his seatbelt and got out, locking the car before he laced his fingers with Eddie’s, “You did bring hand sanitizer, right? Because there’s a petting zoo and-”

 

“There’s a petting zoo!?” Eddie grinned wider.

 

“Jesus- yes !” Richie grinned with him and walked to the entrance, "Yanno I was kinda worried you'd roll your eyes…"

 

Eddie looked up at him, "Why?"

 

"I dunno, zoos are kinda an elementary kids dream so-"

 

"Rich.. zoos are fuckin' great! You know how my ma is.. I rarely got to go when I was little. And there's no age limit on the zoo, they'll still be fun when I have to use a wheelchair to get around."

 

"We can have wheelchair races." Richie grinned, "It's just.. I dunno.. not really a normal date I guess… that's usually shit like making out in a dark theater, which I considered but… one, for that we'd have to see a movie I've already seen. I love you, but I can't go see a new horror movie and miss most of it because I'm kissing you and…" Rivhie shrugged, smiling sheepishly, "I just… wanted an excuse to spend all day with you, holding your hand and shit… and zoos are fuckin' big so.."

 

Eddie grinned at this, "Richie Tozier a hopeless romantic, who knew?"

 

Richie blushed deeply, "Shut the fuck up I am not ." He walked up to the counter and paid for their tickets. He walked inside with Eddie, taking his hand again with a grin. The two of them walked all over the place, and Richie took as many pictures as he could of Eddie. Especially once they got to the petting zoo, but he was distracted with the fucking cute animals too, so Eddie was able to snatch the camera and get a few pictures of Richie.

 

 The zoo was mostly empty at first since it was a Sunday, but more people arrived around the afternoon so Richie was more careful about openly showing affection for Eddie… He hated having to keep himself from just kissing his cheek but.. Eddie’s safety was more important. Yeah, it wasn’t a small town like Derry, yeah there was a gay bar but… Richie couldn’t help but worry a little. They walked over to the elephants and Richie grinned.

 

“Hey Mrs. K!” He shouted over to the elephants.

 

Eddie’s eyes widened before he looked around and rolled his eyes before hitting Richie’s shoulder, “ Not funny asshole! Fuck I thought she followed us!”

 

Richie laughed, “Sorry… kinda… your fuckin’ face!” he burst into giggles again.

 

“I hate you so much.”

 

“You love me.” Richie kissed his cheek and pulled back when he heard soft laughter. “Fuck.” he turned his head to find a greying woman looking over at them. Well, at least she couldn’t kick his ass...probably.

 

“Sorry!” She walked over, “You two just remind me of my husband and I… we bicker a lot, just like that.” She smiled, “Want me to take a picture of the two of you?” She held her hand out for the camera in Richie’s hands.

 

Richie smiled a little in relief, “Yeah? He drive you fuckin’ crazy?” he held the camera out to her.

 

She laughed a little and nodded, “Oh yeah, he always thinks he’s right.”

 

“Sounds familiar.” Eddie looked up to Richie with a grin.

 

Richie huffed, “Okay Mr. Do you have any idea how much bacteria could be on a single doorknob-

 

The lady just laughed a little more, “Alright, act like you love each other.” She held the camera up.

 

Richie draped an arm around Eddie’s shoulders and the two of them smiled. After she took the picture, Richie turned his head and kissed Eddie’s cheek, unaware that she took another picture when he did. She handed back the camera with a small smile, “I need to go find where my idiot husband has wandered off to. It was nice meeting you two.” she walked off.

 

Richie looked over to Eddie, “I was sure she was going to give us shit…” He pushed up his glasses, “Ya can never tell with older people.. They’re either super nice or the biggest assholes..”

 

Eddie smiled a little, “I was nervous too but she was nice.” He took Richie’s hand, “Come on, we have to go see the giraffes so you feel short.”

 

Richie laughed and walked with him.



By the time they walked back to the car, Richie’s feet were killing him, but it was incredibly worth it. They decided to get dinner before heading back to Derry, so Richie used a payphone to check in with Kathy before they got back into the car.



“Oh my fucking god- you have to be joking Richie!” Eddie looked over to him.

 

Richie grinned a little, “Before you freak the fuck out-”

 

“Already freaking out shithead!”

 

“Yes, it’s a bar- but they also serve food Eds-”

 

“We’re underage!”

 

“We aren’t here to drink!”

 

“Then why the fuck-”

 

“So we can eat in public and also do stupid shit like hold hands!” 

 

Eddie deflated, looked at the bar, before he looked at Richie again, “Fine… if my mom finds out-”

 

“She’s not gonna find out Eddie Spaghetti.”

 

Eddie just shook his head and got out of the car. “You know, us being underage is still gonna get us stared at?”

 

Richie shrugged, “Won’t get our asses kicked.” He took Eddie’s hand and went inside. 

 

They were carded as soon as employee saw them, but were still allowed to come in to eat something. They sat at a table, looking around. Richie expected it to be a little more loud as far as decor, but it wasn’t overwhelming. It also didn’t have people making out all over the place it seemed just… like a safe space for everyone. A tall man wearing a shirt with a rainbow on it walked over, “You two are adorable !”

 

“Uhh… thanks?” Richie said.

 

The man laughed softly, “We get a lot of kids around your age in here… not many places you can just go on a date with your boyfriend without constantly hiding that it’s a date.” 

 

Richie nodded, “Touché…”

 

“We went to the zoo and it was pretty empty.” Eddie shrugged, “It felt like a date.”

 

The man smiled, “That’s great! At your age I was still pretending to like girls… but once I got to college I went on some weird dates just because there wouldn’t be many people. The zoo sounds like a good one, might have to steal that idea.” He grinned, “I’m gonna throw a dessert on free for you two, since it’s your birthday.” he pointed to Richie with his pen, “And yesterday was yours.” the pen moved to Eddie, “Which is also adorable.” He smiled and handed them menus, “What do you guys want to drink?”

 

“Since I’m underage and driving… coke.” Richie pushed up his glasses.

 

The man snorted and wrote it down.

 

“You’re hilarious.” Eddie rolled his eyes, “Water, please.”

 

“Hey, he laughed!” Richie grinned.

 

“He snorted because you’re ridiculous.” 

 

“Back me up here, you thought that was funny, right?” Richie looked up at the man.

 

He laughed a little, “Sorry kid, you’re both right. It was funny, because it was ridiculous.” He went to get their drinks.

 

“See? Funny .” Richie looked down at his menu.

 

“Uh, yeah because it’s ridiculous !” Eddie rolled his eyes.

 

You’re ridiculous.” Richie reached across the table and took Eddie’s hand.

 

Eddie rolled his eyes and laced their fingers, “Shut up and pick something to eat, shithead.”

 

“As you wish, boyfriend.” Richie smirked as Eddie blushed, before looking down and picking something to eat.

 

Richie thought he’d be annoyed at being talked to by...the entire staff at one point while he wanted to be alone with Eddie, but it actually ended up being pretty fun. They asked how they met, how long they’ve been together, how that happened… and Eddie and Richie could only tell their group of friends, they couldn’t just be open about this shit at home. It was nice to talk about.

 

“So we’re sitting with all of our friends and Richie starts panicking-”

 

“I was not panicking shithead-”

 

“You were fuckin’ panicking, boyfriend ! And eventually tells us that he’s gay- which apparently everyone but me knew-”

 

“Because you’re more blind than me!” Richie pushed up his glasses for emphasis.

 

“And then a few days later he almost kisses me which leads to him panicking again and spilling his guts-”

 

“Uh- important note you left the fuck out- you were literally tilting my chin up at you-”

 

“-And so I tell him to shut up so I can kiss him and instead he leans up to kiss me-oh and he’s been quoting The Princess Bride saying As you wish at every opportunity that day, so he says that-  and we barely kiss because our noses hit-”

 

I was a nervous wreck, asshole!”

 

The employees huddled around them laughed at their bickering.

 

Their waiter shook his head, “Have you two always bickered like this? Like an old married couple?”

 

“Since the day we met.” Eddie sighed, but smiled.

 

“Holy shit, Eds. We met the old married couple at the zoo! Well the wife anyways.” Richie went on to explain how cool the lady had been.

 

After eating dinner and dessert- with everyone in the bar singing happy birthday to them much to their embarrassment- Richie and Eddie said bye to everyone and went out to the car. 

 

“We have to come back when we can drink, Eds.” Richie said, getting in the car.

 

“I think we should come back before then too… I liked it.. Being able to just… tell people that I’m in love with this annoying guy.”

 

Richie grinned, “Annoyed you right into that bar too. And you loved   it.”

 

Eddie smiled a little, “You’re right.. I did. Did you?”

 

Richie leaned over and pecked his lips, “I love anything with you… but getting to hold your hand and be affectionate was pretty fuckin’ great.”  he smiled and started driving home.

 

Eddie fell asleep on the ride, and Richie turned the radio down, trying to avoid bumps and potholes as he drove to avoid waking him. Richie had to agree with Eddie, it was great to be able to just… be free to love Eddie in a public place. They were definitely going to have to come back. Even at the zoo, they’d been able to hold hands and just… be themselves for most of the time. He couldn’t wait to get the pictures developed tomorrow at work- he was definitely going to blow up the picture of him and Eddie and hang it on his wall. When he pulled into the driveway and took off his seatbelt he leaned over and gently kissed Eddie’s cheek, “Wakey Wakey Eddie Spaghetti.”

 

Eddie groaned, “Shut up.”

 

“I mean, you can sleep in the car if you want but I bet my bed is more comfy.”

 

Either a comfortable bed, or the threat of being left outside seemed to wake Eddie up enough to get out of the car. Richie held his hand in the dark and walked up to the door with him. He barely convinced Eddie to change into pajamas before the two laid down, curled close together. Richie held him close, not sure if Eddie was asleep or not, “I love you.. I love you so fuckin’ much Eds..” He kissed the top of his head.

 

“Love you too Rich.” He replied sleepily.

 

School the next day was a nightmare, and it only got worse as the day went on and Richie had to think about the fact that he had to go to work afterwards, and he had to go straight home after that. He had too much fucking homework to sneak over and see Eddie. He did drive Eddie home, pressing a quick kiss to his lips before he watched Eddie walk inside the house. He sighed and drove to Bev’s to change for work. At least he’d have the pictures developed by the time he got off.

 

He stocked shelves and decided he was going to go see Eddie after work anyways, just for a few minutes. He was going to suffer all night with homework, he deserved a kiss at least. As he straightened out a shelf, his boss walked over.

 

“Richie, we’ve gotta talk.”

 

RIchie’s heart sank. Fuck. Someone finally ratted him out for swearing. Fuck. He prepared an apology as he followed him to the office. His boss picked a picture on the desk, before holding it out to Richie, who paled. He’d never been fucked by a sweet old lady before, but here he was. The picture was of him kissing Eddie’s cheek, he hadn’t known she took that picture. Richie looked up at him fearfully, “I… shit. Ya ask someone to take a picture and she takes one too many…” Richie joked weakly, trying not to throw up.

 

Chapter Text

The air felt thick with tension as Richie’s quickly looked to make sure the trash can was sitting beside the desk as usual, relieved it was. He was certain he was going to be sick and if he was already going to be fired, he didn’t want to make matters worse by throwing up on the floor or some shit. With numb fingers, he reached out and took the picture, looking down at it. Despite his current situation, a small smile pulled at the corner of his mouth. He was glad he paid for two copies of all of the pictures so Eddie would be able to have it too, because Richie wasn’t sure he’d be able to let go of it.

 

Mr. Stevens cleared his throat and sat behind his desk, “Sit down Rich-”

 

“Am I fired?” Richie blurted out, looking up from the picture at him, “Just fuckin’- say it outright now if I am. I can’t sit through a long speech being uncertain so-”

 

“No.. now sit down and watch your mouth.” Mr. Stevens looked up to Richie.

 

Richie sat down, his knee bouncing as he looked over to him.

 

“If I haven’t fired you over the swearing yet, I’m not giving up on you that easily.” The man gave him a pointed look.

 

“Ah… you know about that. I do try and most of the time I don’t but it just… slips and-”

 

“I know.. And I’ve rarely had anyone complain I’ve just overheard you in most cases…” He pointed to the monitors, “The cameras do have audio.”

 

Richie flushed, “Oh… shi-shoot.”

 

“Swearing aside, you’re never late. You never spend your shift goofing off like everyone else, especially the kids your age I hire. You haven’t called in sick a single time. And… the most irritating customer who has nothing but complaints to throw out about every employee spent five minutes talking about how helpful you are, and how glad she is that I hired you… She’s gonna change her tune when she finds out about you and her son though..”

 

Richie fidgeted a little, “Yeah… trying to avoid that.”

 

“I hope you can.. It’s stupid that you have to but-”

 

“You… don’t think it’s wrong?” Richie looked up at him.

 

Mr. Stevens huffed and replied, “Fuck no.” for Richie’s amusement, and hopefully to make the kid relax a little, “I had a cousin that was hospitalized for being gay. I’m just… worried about the same thing happening to you. Your bracelet isn’t really helping but… I also don’t think you should have to hide it. Just be careful… and maybe take a self defense class or carry a pocket knife.”

 

“Can’t afford a self defense class… and I don’t have the time.” Richie shrugged, “Can’t have a pocket knife on me at school or here… but I’m allowed a fuckin’ box cutter.” Richie snorted.

 

“Carry one anyways.” He shrugged, “And… I have a friend who owes me a favor, if you can find the time you don’t have to worry about paying. We can work around your schedule so you still get the same hours.”

 

Richie nodded a little, “Mr. Stevens?” He looked up at him, “Why… Why do you wanna help me?”

 

“Because your life shouldn’t be endangered purely because you’re gay.” He smiled and stood, “And because you’re a good kid.” He held out the two envelopes of pictures for Richie to take, “Go finish up that shelf and head home.”

 

“But I’m not off until-”

 

“We’ve also been incredibly slow. Give the cashiers something to do. Plus I know you have homework or some test to study for… making enough money to get out of this town is important, but your grades are too.”

 

Richie nodded, “Yes sir..” He put the picture into one of the envelopes before taking it out to his car. He went back inside and finished the shelf before he clocked out and drove to Eddie’s, parking down the street a little. He put one of the envelopes in his backpack and put it on before he walked over to the side of the house Eddie’s room was on. He looked up at the window and pushed up his glasses before he walked over and began climbing up to his window, knocking lightly when he could see Eddie sitting on his bed, doing homework.

 

Eddie looked over and jumped up quickly, hurrying over and opening the window, “I thought you were going home after work.”

 

“Got off early and changed my mind.” Richie said as he climbed in and took his backpack off, taking out the envelope of pictures. He handed them to Eddie, “That sweet old lady from the zoo gave me a heart attack at work.”

 

Eddie tilted his head and took the envelope, “What-”

 

“Look at the first fuckin’ picture.” Richie said, taking his history book out of his backpack and sitting down on Eddie’s bed.

 

Eddie opened it and looked at the picture, smiling a little before his eyes widened, “Shit did anyone-”

 

“Yeah, my boss saw it… I thought I was getting fuckin’ fired but apparently he likes me, which is fuckin weird because aside from Kat adults really… don’t like me.”

 

Eddie sat down and thought for a moment, “I don’t think you see it.. I mean, teachers have issues with your swearing but… you also have pretty good grades and do your work… I think…” Eddie paused and looked at Richie, “I think… it’s hard for you to see it, or even imagine adults liking you.. because of your parents.”

 

Richie opened his mouth to argue, but closed it, “Fuck… I hadn’t thought about it that way…”

 

Eddie nodded a little, “To be fair, I hadn’t before now either… but it makes sense, Rich.”

 

“Yeah.. huh.” Richie was quiet for a moment before he started talking, “Anyways, my boss apparently has a friend who can teach me self defense? Because… apparently he like, really actually cares about my well being… yanno I’m starting to get it more because that seems so weird to me.”

 

“You should do it.” Eddie spoke quickly. “Then teach me once you’re a pro.”

 

“I don’t think I’m ever gonna be a pro but… maybe you can come with me?”

 

“If you think my mom wouldn’t freak out about the several chances of me getting hurt-”

 

“Well don’t walk up to her and say ‘hey ma, I’m gonna go try to learn to fight and nearly die in the process.’ “ Richie snorted and shook his head, “Point out the fact that you’ll be safer if you’re able to defend yourself, should the situation arise…”

 

Eddie sighed, “I could probably.. Spin it in a way that she’d go with it.”

 

“Good.” Richie grinned.

 

“I like this picture.. I didn’t know she took another one.”

 

“I didn’t know either but.. Heart attack aside… I do really like it.” Richie smiled, “I got two copies of the pictures so we don’t have to share.” He smiled a little.

 

“Good, because I wouldn’t be able to hand over this picture.” Eddie smiled.

 

“Me either…” Richie leaned over and kissed his cheek, “Time to be boring and do homework now.” He sighed before he got started.




Friday night after one of Richie’s shifts, found Eddie and Richie walking to Richie’s car, both already sore, knowing they’d be even more sore the next day. Richie knew  that the guy went easy on them since they’re both beginners but...shit. They sucked tremendously at defending themselves...or Richie did. Eddie was already catching on. “I’m not sure if that was a self defense class or just.. A class to adapt to getting our asses kicked holy shit I thought he dislocated my damn shoulder earlier!”

 

Eddie snorted, “You’re just whining because I blocked a few hits and you didn’t. I even got one in.” He grinned.

 

Fuck you I am not whining because of that I’m whining because it hurts.” Richie pouted.

 

“You’re jealous .” Eddie teased.

 

Richie shook his head, “I’m not… do I wish I did better? Fuck yeah… but I’m thrilled that you’re picking it up so quickly.” He smiled a little, “May have to save both of our asses.” he bumped Eddie’s shoulder before driving to Bev’s, “I’m glad I can lay around and do nothing tomorrow because I’m half dead.” 

 

Eddie’s eyes softened at that. He was only joking about Richie being jealous, but he loved that he was genuinely happy that Eddie was doing well, “We have a test to study for tomorrow.” He pointed out.

 

Richie sighed, “Must you crush my dreams of laziness?”

 

Eddie laughed a little, “Sorry Rich.” He grinned, “You’ll live. We can laze about while we study.”

 

Richie seemed to consider this before nodding, “Fine, fine…” 

 

Once they got there, Richie opened his door and yelled, “Wait don’t open your door!” He ran around the car and opened the passenger’s side door for Eddie.

 

Eddie laughed a little, “What a gentleman.” He leaned up and kissed Richie’s cheek before they went inside the house.

 

They stayed up for a while talking to Bev before Eddie started getting sleepy. Richie smiled at him fondly, “We’re gonna get to bed, goodnight Bev.” He stood and took Eddie’s hand, walking him to his room and lying down. He curled close to Eddie and kissed the top of his head, “Goodnight Eds.”

 

Eddie reached up and took off RIchie’s glasses, setting them on the nightstand before curling into Richie again, “Goodnight Rich..”

 

“I love you.” Richie whispered, holding him close.

 

Eddie smiled sleepily, “I love you too..”

Chapter Text

The first few times the pencil lead was poked into Richie’s shoulder blade, it hurt. Six times later and it was just fucking annoying . Richie kept his eyes forward and copied the stupid fucking notes on the board. When the teacher stepped out, there was a far more forceful stab at the back of his neck with the sharpened pencil lead. Richie whirled around in his seat, “Can I fucking help you?” 

 

Chad, Josh, or whatever this fuck was called smirked, “Just wondering… are you gay or are you just an ugly ass girl?”

 

Richie rolled his eyes and moved to turn around but his shoulder was grabbed hard before he could, stopping him.

 

“Answer the fucking question.” The smirk only grew.

 

“Yanno I used to like women but your mom ruined pussy for me forever.” Richie snapped. Oh Fuck. Shut up Richie. But he didn’t, “You must have really fucked her up down there with your giant fucking head when you came out because-” Richie’s words were cut off by a fist to the face, and he was quickly yanked out of his seat. The door opened and Richie was dropped as the guy who was about to murder him sat back down.

 

“Oh shit! You okay, man?” He said, frowning with convincing fake concern.

 

Mrs. Harris walked over quickly as Richie pushed himself up, “I’m fine- I’m fine.” Richie said before she could ask. She gave the guy sitting behind him a suspicious look as Richie slid back into his chair, and everyone was looking at Richie, “Aren’t we supposed to be copying fucking notes? They’re up there!” Richie snapped and gestured to the board.

 

Mrs. Harris looked at him and opened her mouth.

 

“I’m fucking going!” Richie snapped, grabbing his stuff and shoving it into his bag before storming out of the classroom, taking care to slam the fucking door on his way out. He walked to the principal’s office and let himself into his office, “I said fuck twice. Actually I said fuck ing but, details. Detention after school? Got it.” Richie moved to walk out before the principal stood.

 

“Richie, sit down.”

 

Richie rolled his eyes and walked back into the office, dropping his bag full of books before he sat in the chair and sat through another lecture about swearing, not that he was listening. He could quote the fucking speech by now. He busied himself with fidgeting with the bracelet on his wrist.

 

“Richie!”

 

Richie jumped, “ Shi - what?”

 

“Are you listening to me?”

 

Richie ran a hand through his messy curls, “Did it deviate from the typical swearing at teachers is disrespectful -”

 

The principal closed his eyes, “You’re suspended for three days this time, Richie. You can’t keep-”

 

“Fine!” Richie stood and grabbed his bag.

 

“How is that unfair, to you?” His eyebrows rose, “Your teachers are not here to get disresp-”

 

“You know what pisses me off? You never-not once ask what fucking happened. I swore, I’m in the wrong end of fuckin’ story right? I get caught swearing-and usually not at a teacher- right after I’m either tripped or like today stabbed in the back of the neck with a fucking pencil, punched in the face and pushed onto the fucking floor! So excuse me if my filter got knocked out of me like the fucking wind did!”

 

“Mrs. Harris saw-”

 

“No. She stepped out of the room when I finally snapped and asked the fuck what the fuck he wanted because he’d been stabbing me with his pencil for the entire class.”

 

“Who did-”

 

“I don’t know his name. And I wouldn’t tell you if I did… because he’s already going to finish beating my ass, I don’t need to add fuel to the fire. Three days? Fine.” Richie slung his bag over his shoulder.

 

“Richie I can’t help if you don’t tell me who.”

 

Richie huffed, “Help how? Suspend them? Get them in trouble at home so they’re more motivated to kill me? No thanks.”

 

The principal sighed, “Detention after school all week … and an apology to Mrs. Harris.”

 

Richie nodded a little, he knew he’d have to talk to his boss because he’d be late a couple days but… it was better than missing days of school, “Thank you…”

 

“It’s… not my business but the bracelet-”

 

“They gave me shit before I got the bracelet.” Richie pushed up his glasses as the bell rang, “Gotta get to class.” He muttered and left, going back to Mrs. Harris’ room first, getting shoved as the guy walked out, “Dick.” Richie muttered before he stepped into the classroom, “Mrs. Harris?”

 

She looked over to him from his desk, “What?”

 

“I… I was told to apologize but…” Richie fidgeted a little, “I was going to anyways you… you were just concerned. While you were out of the room I… got this.” He pointed to the bruise forming on his cheek, “I just… I was irritated and I can’t tell you who because if they get into trouble then I’m just… gonna get worse but.. I should have responded...better. It wasn’t your fault it happened I just…” Richie ran a hand through his hair. 

 

“I’ll change assigned seats for tomorrow.” She said, knowing exactly who was responsible, “Thank you for apologizing. I understand you being upset at the time, but as you said, I was trying to help.”

 

Richie nodded and turned, walking to his next class. He barely paid attention, but managed to get the homework assignment before going out into the hall, his arm getting grabbed. He tensed, bracing for a hit before he turned and saw Eddie.

 

“What the fuck happened- kids are saying-”

 

“It’s fine Eds-”

 

“The fuck it is!” Eddie dragged him into the bathroom, “Did you really start shit with Brad?”

 

“Of course his name is fuckin’ Brad …”

 

“Richie!”

 

“No! He started shit with me! He was stabbing me with his fucking pencil all class and when Mrs. Harris walked out he did it harder-possibly breaking the damn skin- so I snapped!”

 

“Well apparently you outed yourself in the most… Richie fucking way possible by saying his mom-”

 

“I… yeah I might have done that.” Richie ran a hand through his hair.

 

“After school you have to meet me by my locker and we’ll stick together.”

 

“I can’t.. Got detention for swearing..” Richie shrugged, “But he’ll leave when everyone else does, it’ll be fine.”



Richie was wrong, about Brad leaving when everyone else did, and about it being fine. Once he was let out of detention he walked outside, headed to his car before he was shoved against the building, the bricks digging into his back. 

 

“We weren’t done, fag.” Brad sneered before punching Richie’s face, hitting his nose.

 

“Do you take constructive criticism?” Richie tried to squirm away already feeling the blood trickle out of his nose, “After a while the colorful words to describe being gay lose their magic. Switch it up, or throw out an old one- It’s been years since I’ve heard foureyes, you could bring it back.” his answer was a punch in the gut.

 

“You never know when to shut the fuck up, do you?”

 

“So I’ve been told.. Also, back to the insults… you think maybe you beat up the gay guy a little obsessively? Could make people start to wonder if maybe it’s an unhealthy coping mechanism. I mean- your slight obsession with attacking me… and asking if I’m an ugly girl today just sounds like you’re trying to justify some of your own-”

 

“R-Richie sh-shut the fuh-fuck up.” Bill said, the rest of the losers around him.

 

Brad looked over, “Oh look, you’re saved by scrawny fucks… and tubby.”

 

Richie took the opportunity to headbutt Brad. He dropped Richie in favor of grabbing his forehead. Richie fell, holding his own forehead, “Shit that hurt!”

 

“Step the fuck away from him.” Beverly said, walking forward, “It’s seven against one, asshole.”

 

“There’s six of y-” He was cut off by Eddie tackling him to the ground from behind and punching him in the face.

 

“Count again you piece of shit!” Eddie yelled before punching him again. 

 

Ben and Mike hurried over, pulling Eddie off of him, with a little difficulty because Eddie was trying to lunge at him again. Richie stood and grabbed Eddie’s shoulder, “Easy, Eds.”

 

Eddie seemed to calm a little, but the fire in his eyes didn’t dim, “You fucking touch him again-”

 

Brad got to his feet, “I’ll fucking kill all of you losers.” He said, his voice muffled from holding his bleeding nose. He shoved passed Stan and hurried away.

 

“Holy fuck, Eds..” Richie muttered, “Do you even need to go with me to self defense classes?”

 

Eddie grabbed a few tissues out of his fanny pack and pressed them against Richie’s nose gently, “I didn’t… I was just so pissed off…”

 

Richie gently put his hand over Eddie’s and met his eyes, “Thank you…” He looked around at the rest of his friends, “Seriously I was fuckin’ dead..”

 

“W-We need to get a lo-loser in all of your cla-classes to beep you.” Bill sighed and walked over, “A-Are you o-o-”

 

“I’m fine.”

 

“And the most frequent line of bullshit for Richie-”

 

“Fuck off Stanley.” Richie interrupted him, “I’m not murdered so relatively speaking, I’m fine.”

 

“Richie…” Bev sighed.

 

“Nope. I’m fine… and going to be late for work without a miracle so-”

 

“Rich-” Mike started, but Stan cut him off.

 

“We should camp this weekend again… and we’ll be here after school while you have detention, Rich.” Stan could see that Richie wasn’t ready to emotionally face the fact that he’d outed himself, and he could respect that. He just wanted him to know that they were here for him.

 

Richie nodded a little, “Sounds good… you need a ride home, Bev?”

 

Bev nodded and kissed Ben’s cheek before waving to them and following Richie.

 

“Eduardo, adele! I’m dropping you off on my way to work.”

 

Eddie rolled his eyes and ran after them. 

 

Richie took Bev home, changed into his work clothes and kissed Eddie once the blood was washed off his face, before driving Eddie home, holding his hand. “If.. I just screwed myself over… which could put you at risk and if you don’t-”

 

“Beep Beep Richie.” Eddie looked over to him, “We’re not breaking up over this, and you’re an idiot for thinking it even crossed my mind. Us being together at all is a risk in this town. I’m still here.” He squeezed Richie’s hand, “And it’ll be fucking hard to get rid of me.”

 

“I love you..” Richie said, parking outside of his house, “See you tomorrow?”

“I love you too...See you Rich.” Eddie smiled before getting out and going inside.

Richie made sure he got in safely before he hurried to work, apologizing at least six times, for being late, within a minute. Mr. Stevens looked at the bruises and shook his head, telling him it was fine. Richie got right to work afterwards.

 

Each day that week, as promised, the losers waited outside for Richie once he got out of detention, and Brad hadn’t said a word or even tried to mess with Richie… but the news that he was gay had spread around Derry quickly. He overheard people in the hall, and even coworkers talking about him. He stocked the shelves Saturday morning, counting down the hours until he’d be able to meet up with his friends in the woods behind Stan’s house. He could feel someone staring at him, so he turned his head and smiled politely, “Hey Mrs. K-”

 

“You need to stay away from Eddie. I don’t want you influencing him.”

 

Richie’s heart sank, and he couldn’t even respond.

 

She shook her head, “It all makes sense now- the way you look at him. You stay away from him.”

 

“No.” Richie replied, his voice a little shaky, “Gay isn’t contagious. It’s not like I’m gonna make Eddie gay. He’s my friend and he has no fucking problem with me being gay so-”

 

“He’s just too kind to tell you how disgusting you are.” Sonia snapped, “And he will not be around you.”

 

“You just want a reason to hate me again. And all of Eddie’s friends because you feel like you need to coddle him and protect him- it’s not even that!” Richie threw the empty box he was holding down, “You want to make him think he’s weak and helpless and sick so you can continue controlling them because next year he’s going to walk out of your fuckin’ house and leave you all alone and you can’t stand the thought of being alone, and it’s not like anyone can stand being around you , so you try to trap your son!”

 

Mr. Stevens hurried over, “Richie- go on your break right now.”

 

“I already had my break.” Richie said, glaring at Sonia Kaspbrak with every ounce of hate he could muster.

 

“Go on another one.” He said firmly.

 

Sonia looked at him, “And you , hiring someone like that- this is a family store-”

 

“And you’re officially banned from it for harassing an employee. Get out.” Mr. Steven snapped.

Richie didn’t hear the rest of the conversation because he was going out to his car, grabbing the pack of cigarettes on the dash and his lighter. He sat on the hood of the car and lit a cigarette, taking long drags to try and calm himself, but his hands wouldn’t stop shaking. 

 

“I clocked you out.” Mr. Stevens’s sudden voice made Richie jump.

 

“Fuck you scared the hell out of me…. Why?”

 

“So you can go warn your boyfriend...and calm the hell down.” He put a hand on Richie’s shoulder before going back inside.

 

Richie slid off the hood and got into the car quickly, driving to Stan’s. He grabbed his bag and sleeping bag out of his car before he locked in and ran into the woods, trying to push down the anxiety induced nausea. Everyone finding about him being gay wasn’t a dealbreaker… but what about Eddie’s mom finding out and trying to keep Richie away from him?

Chapter Text

Richie continued to run through the woods, the anxiety flooding through his veins giving him the energy to keep running. Stopping was a different matter entirely and he smacked right into Bill, the two of them toppling over. 

 

Bill groaned and looked Richie over to be sure he was physically okay, before he complained, “W-Watch the fuck out Ri-Rich!” Concern quickly made it’s way back onto his features, “Wh-What’s…”

 

Richie stood up and helped Bill to his feet, “Fuck- I’m sorry where-where’s Eddie I-”

 

Bill took Richie’s hand and stood, then put a hand on his shoulder, “Setting up the t-te-tents.” He looked over Richie’s frantic state, “Are you okay Richie?” He asked, his stutter vanishing in favor of his concern.

 

“No.” Richie ran a hand through his curled hair, “I-” He shook his head and hurried to the tents he could see in the distance, Bill on his heels.

 

Eddie was sitting on the ground, struggling to put the rods through the tent when he looked up and smiled, “Hey Rich…” His smile faded, and he quickly stood, pulling Richie into a hug, “Breathe.” He was worried and he needed to know what was wrong, but Richie looked like he was about to pass out. Calming him down first was more important than figuring out the cause of the panic since he didn’t seem in immediate danger. He gently ran his hand through Richie’s curls, rubbing his back with his other hand, “Deep breaths, shithead.” He teased lightly.

 

Richie huffed a soft laugh and melted into the hug. He felt his anxiety starting to dim, Eddie was always good at that. He could always calm Richie down when he was in panic mode. But he wouldn’t be able to if Sonia Kaspbrak had her way… and that thought alone sent Richie into hard, painful sobs that shook his thin frame in Eddie’s arms.

 

Eddie frowned and pulled back just a little, his heart breaking when Richie let out a soft whimper and clung to his arm, “Hey, we’re just gonna sit down okay?”

 

Bill and the others stayed quiet, but they were all clearly concerned about their friend. Bev grabbed a blanket and spread it out, “Here, sit on this.” 

 

Eddie gently pulled Richie over to the blanket and sat down. Richie sat beside him and hugged him from the side, resting his head in the crook of Eddie’s neck. Eddie mouthed a ‘thank you’ to Bev before he gently pulled Richie into his lap. He knew they must look ridiculous because of the height difference, but he didn’t care. After letting him go for a second Richie sounded like he was in physical pain, Eddie was going to get Richie as close to him as possible.

 

The crying started with the thought that he wasn’t going to be able to be close to Eddie, but more thoughts joined in and kept him crying. He’d really fucking outed himself and the entire stupid fucking town knew. He already got shit for it before he was out but now he’d confirmed it. Now he got stared at in school with looks of disgust from students and teachers. Now he heard whispers about him as he stocked shelves at work. Now he found anti-gay church pamphlets in his locker. Now he had to wait for all of the boys to be out of the locker room before he could go in and change for gym class. Now people didn’t laugh at his jokes, they laughed at him. And Richie could deal with that, he could deal with all of it with Eddie by his side.. But he knew Sonia Kaspbrak was the type to go to extremes to keep him away from Richie… and he was terrified. All of the losers had Richie’s back, but no one really understood it like Eddie did.. And he was never comfortable actually talking about it with anyone other than Eddie most of the time. His sobs finally died down, slowly, as Eddie cradled him and ran his fingers through Richie’s hair, pressing the occasional kiss to the top of his head.

 

“What’s wrong?” Eddie whispered softly, once Richie began to calm.

 

Richie sniffled and sat up a little, making absolutely no move to get out of Eddie’s lap, “I really… came out with a your mom joke…” He huffed bitterly, “ Your mom… got herself banned from Freese’s…”

 

Eddie’s eyes widened a little, “What?”

 

Richie took off his glasses and wiped at his eyes, “Yeah… she ah… kinda started screaming at me… saying I need to stay away from you… saying she won’t let you be around me..”

 

Eddie was pissed but he knew that anger wasn’t going to help Richie right now, so he pushed it back as much as he could. “Well she’s going to be awfully disappointed when I don’t listen to her.” Eddie looked up at Richie, “What’s she gonna do, Rich? Stand for more than five minutes to try and keep me from leaving?” He joked lightly, trying his hardest to make Richie smile.

 

Richie snorted and shook his head, “She’s also dramatic enough to lock your door from the outside.”

 

“I’ll climb out the window.” Eddie shrugged.

 

“And if she puts bars on it?”

 

Eddie scoffed, “Weak, fragile little Eddie climbing out a window? She wouldn’t even consider it.” He leaned up and kissed Richie’s cheek.

 

“Your boss is pretty great… standing up for you like that.” Stan said, breaking the silence for the rest of the losers, “My parents have asked me about you..” he admitted, sitting on the blanket across from them, “.. if it’s true.”

 

“What…. What did you say? What did they say?” Richie asked, on the verge of panicking again, though he relaxed back into Eddie as soon as the smaller teen’s fingers began to run through his hair again.

 

Stan shrugged, “I said yeah… and I’ve known for years.” He shrugged, “My dad thinks it’s weird but my mom is glad you’re more comfortable with yourself now.”

 

“M-Mine too.” Bill sat down beside Stan, “Th-They didn’t seem to care much… l-like with everything.”

 

Richie frowned a little at that, not for his own sake. Since Georgie died Bill’s parents didn’t really care much about anything involving Bill. He looked over at Mike, eyebrows raised expectantly.

 

“Well, my parents don’t come into town much but.. I told them, that night you came out to us.” Mike shrugged.

 

“You fucking what !?” Richie’s voice went up an octave.

 

“Rich, buddy… they already knew. Hell, they even said they hope you coming out gives you and Eddie the courage to confront your feelings for each other.” He sat on Stan’s other side as Bev sat beside Eddie, “And I knew they weren’t going to judge you for it…” He met Richie’s eyes, “I had to tell them, I was so proud of you for finally saying it.”

 

Richie looked down, trying to figure out what the hell Mike’s words made him feel. He almost felt like he’d gotten hit but… with something soft like a pillow… There were very rare moments when someone told Richie they were proud of him and… he never understood what he was supposed to say, or feel. Kat and his boss had done it a lot too and he just… didn’t know how to respond, or why it made his eyes sting.



That night, he was curled up in Eddie’s arms, his face buried into his chest. He wasn’t sure where his glasses were, Eddie had taken them off gently already. He clung to Eddie like he was a life raft, still afraid of how far Sonia Kaspbrak would go to keep Eddie away from him. Eddie didn’t seem worried, but Richie was . Eddie gently ran his fingers through Richie’s curls.

 

“I love you, Rich..” He said, after a while of silence, “so much… my mom isn’t going to stop that, okay? She might ground me. She might lock my door from the outside, hell she might add bars to the windows… but she won’t keep me from loving you… and no matter what, I know we’ll find a way around all of the shit she tries.”

 

Richie looked up at him, “I love you too Eddie… I’ll… I’ll get shit to break through bars on your window if she does that.”

 

Eddie smiled, “See? We’re gonna be just fine no matter what she tries.” He was angry- so angry- at his mother but he knew they’d be okay. He loved Richie and he did not go through years of loving this boy to let is mother wreck that. He didn’t finally get to moments like this, holding each other and saying they love each other, for that to all go away now. “Kiss me, shithead.”

 

Richie looked up to him and smiled, “As you wish, boyfriend.” He leaned up and kissed Eddie softly. He let his fears melt away as he kissed Eddie with all the love he had for him. His hands cupped Eddie’s cheeks as smaller hands slid into his curls. He allowed himself to feel relief, knowing that he wouldn’t sit by and let her keep him away from Eddie, and neither would he. Everything would be okay.

 

In the morning, Richie and Eddie headed toward the Kaspbrak house after breakfast. Richie drove, his fingers  tapping the steering wheel nervously, “This is a bad idea, Eds.”

 

“We can either face this head on or we can try to put it off, and I’d rather do it now and not leave anything to worry about.”

 

“She’s not going to like it…”

 

“I don’t give a fuck.” Eddie crossed his arms, “I don’t like her superiority complex.”

 

“Alright shit- easy Spaghetti…” Richie pushed up his glasses, “I’m just sayin’ if this ends with her stabbing me… I told you so.” he parked in the driveway and looked over at Eddie.

 

“She’s not gonna fuckin’ stab you.” Eddie said, ripping off his seatbelt and going to the door, his rage making  him fucking fast .

 

“Fuck.” Richie muttered before taking off his seatbelt and getting out, running after Eddie. He was definitely going to get stabbed.

 

Eddie pushed the door open, letting it slam against the wall. Sonia jumped and scowled at him, “Eddiebear don’t-” Her eyes fell on Richie behind him, “Get out of my house you filthy-”

 

“Don’t fucking start, Ma.” Eddie seethed.

 

Sonia pushed herself to stand up and looked at Eddie, “Eddie you don’t know how- You’re just too sweet to turn a fag like him away-”

 

“Shut up.” Eddie was short, his mother towered over him, but even she took a step back when all of his rage was concentrated on her, “Richie is not filthy for being gay! You’re filthy for thinking you have any right to judge him for that! And you know what, Ma?”

 

“Eds-” Richie knew where this was going and he was trying to stop Eddie.

 

I’m gay too! Richie is my boyfriend and I love him!” Eddie screamed at her.

 

Sonia frowned, her forehead creasing, “Eddiebear you’re just confused… He tricked you-”

 

“Oh? He tricked me? Funny- because before I knew he was gay I knew I had a crush on him! I knew I was falling in love with him! I guess all of your shit worked in the end, Ma! Got me so afraid of germs I guess I believed your ‘ girls have cooties ’ bullshit and now I’m gay!”

 

“This is not my fault and you are NOT gay Edward-”

 

YES I AM! I’m gay, Ma. I’m gay. I’m so fucking gay and I’m in love with Richie Tozier and you need to get the fuck over that! And how dare you go harass Richie at work! How fucking dare you take your fucking hatred and bully a seventeen year old who has been nothing but respectful and polite to you even though he hates you! You know why he’s been trying so hard to be nice to you? Because he loves me! Because he knows that despite the fucking seventeen novel long book series list of problems I have with and because of you, despite it I love you.” Eddie teared up, “As awful as you are- as fucking pushy and judgemental and unhealthily attatched to me as you- as goddamn toxic as our relationship is.. You’re my mom…” Eddie wiped at his eyes, “But I can only take so much. You hate Richie for being gay, then you hate me too… and I have no reason to keep from hating you in return.” He spoke coldly.

 

Sonia let out a soft sob, “Eddie you- you aren’t gay! Eddie, honey it’s wrong you just need help-”

 

“Fuck you.” Eddie’s voice shook, “ Fuck you .” He grabbed Richie’s hand and pulled him closer.

 

Richie’s eyes widened, “Eds-”

 

Eddie pulled him down into a kiss, and though Richie fell into him, and nearly lost his balance, and he could feel Mrs. K’s eyes glaring a hole through him, he managed to kiss back. Eddie pulled back, and Richie managed to get his balance. 

 

“We’re moving .” Sonia spoke in a cold tone.

 

Richie felt like he’d been punched in the gut. He grabbed Eddie’s hand, “Please-”

 

“Like fuck we are!” Eddie interrupted, “Where are we gonna move, Ma? How are we going to afford to move, hmm?” Eddie grinned, “You love to look down your nose at other people, but your disability checks barely get us by sometimes. You can’t afford to move. You also can’t haul all of our shit and I wouldn’t help you. You’re such a fucking liar, did you think you could still lie to me and scare me?” Eddie stepped forward, “You lost that ability, and the ability to control me the second I found out that my medications were bullshit. You still filled the prescriptions, and you know what I did? I flushed them. One of each pills a day, in case you checked. I have thrown away so many inhalers, I even gave one away to a kid that actually has asthma... I am not your goddamn puppet!”

 

Sonia was crying again, “The medicine is to help you Eddie I love-”

 

“You don’t love me. This isn’t love. You love someone being around . You love pushing someone around- you probably sent dad to an early grave with your shit!” He spat, turning to look at Richie, “Let’s go grab some of my clothes, okay? I’m gonna stay with you tonight… and maybe longer. I’ll get a job too- hell I’ll finally get my goddamn license and be allowed to act like I’m not a five year old prisoner!” He hurried upstairs with Richie, slamming the door behind him.

 

Richie was..rattled, to say the least. But he was proud, he was so proud of Eddie for standing up for himself like he had, for standing up for him like that. Eddie grabbed a few outfits and shoved them into a bag, and Richie helped him because he didn’t know what else to do. Sonia was on the other side of the door, but it was locked.

“Richie?” Eddie looked over at him, the fire in his eyes doused, showing only vulnerable sadness.

 

“What’s up, Eddie Spaghetti?” Richie managed.

 

“I’ve never climbed out of a window before…” 

 

Richie nodded, “I’ve got you..”




Richie parked outside of Bev’s and got out. He carried his bag and sleeping bag from camping as Eddie carried his own bag of clothes. They walked in, and Kathy looked up from the couch.

 

“So… any idea why Sonia Kaspbrak called screaming at me?” She quirked an eyebrow.

 

Richie winced as the guilt hit him, but he let Eddie explain.

 

Kahty listened without interrupting, though she did get up and gently rub Richie’s back when he looked like he was about to burst into tears. He hadn’t meant to blow Eddie’s homelife up. He hadn’t meant for Mrs. K to get mad enough to move with Eddie.

 

Once Eddie stopped speaking, Kathy spoke, “I have good news and bad news… technically you’re a runaway and she can.. And probably will call the cops, and she knows where you are.”

 

“And the good news?” Richie looked up at Kathy, his eyes pleading .

 

“The good news is you’re seventeen… and with all the shit your mom has done, there’s no fucking way you won’t qualify to be emancipated… and you should start trying immediately. I’ll help. You’ll need a place to stay, and your own bedroom… both are covered here. I don’t give a shit if you sleep in Richie’s room but you’ll have your own for legal purposes. Your mom is gonna fight this shit as much as she can but… as soon as they talk to your doctor? She’s fucked… she’s been drugging you for your entire life.”

 

Eddie hugged her tightly, “Thank you so much..”

 

Richie didn’t remember when or why he started to cry. He wasn’t sure if it was from the guilt, the fear of Eddie moving, relief that Kathy was going to help him, or a combination of it all, but before he realized it he was sobbing, with Kathy, Eddie and Bev hugging him tightly. Eddie was crying too, and Richie felt guilty for not being sure when that happened. Eddie certainly had more reason to cry than he did. He wrapped his arms tightly around him, mumbling apologies. Eddie getting away from his mother could really… only be good for him, but Richie still felt guilty because he knew that it hurt Eddie that it had to come to this. He knew it hurt Eddie that even after he called her out on the bullshit years ago, she still tried to feed Eddie medicine and still treated him like he was fragile, and not much actually changed, and even now it wouldn’t if he stayed.

 

The police were called, just like Kathy said, and sent to the house. It was a small town, and people talked, so when Eddie said he couldn’t go back, and began explaining why, the cop wasn’t surprised. It wasn’t exactly a secret that Sonia bullied the doctors into giving every prescription she could dream up that Eddie needed. He checked with Kathy to make sure he was able to stay before they started the paperwork the next day, and of course she said yes.

 

Eddie’s room was across the hall from Richie’s and he would use it for homework, and he’d be in there when Richie was at work, but when Richie was home, they both knew they’d be in Richie’s room. It wasn’t something that needed to be discussed, they just knew. So Richie helped Eddie put his clothes up in the room across from his, and the two of them walked back to Richie’s room, fingers linked between each other’s. They laid down on Richie’s bed, curled close and silent for a while before Eddie spoke.

 

“You don’t need to feel guilty, Rich… it’s not your fault that my mom is a terrible fucking person.. Just like your parents aren’t your fault.” He looked up to him, “And thanks to you… I can be free.”

 

Richie held him close, “I just..”

 

“No… Rich, you don’t need to feel bad about this.” Eddie pecked his lips, “Am I upset with how my mom reacted? Yes. Fuck yes. But it’s not your fault. You didn’t make me gay. You didn’t make me fall in love with you. Who I am is a problem to her, and… that can be her problem because I’m tired of trying to appease her. It’s time for me to live my own life and make my own decisions and she was never gonna let that happen if I didn’t resist. You know she was trying to talk me out of college?” He shook his head, “I am.. Hurt by how things happened… but no part of it is your fault and… without you I wouldn’t be able to handle it… so stop being hard on yourself... “

 

Richie listened to him and nodded a little, “I’m… I’m really proud of you for standing up to her…”

 

Eddie smiled a little and kissed his cheek, “Me too.” He gently took off Richie’s glasses and set them on the nightstand, before he pulled Richie close so he could lay his head on Eddie’s chest. Richie fell asleep first, Eddie’s fingers running through his hair and his heartbeat soothing him to sleep, “I love you, shithead.” He managed to mumble before he dozed off.

 

“I love you too, boyfriend.” Eddie smiled a little and kissed the top of Richie’s head.

Chapter Text

Unsurprisingly, Sonia Kaspbrak did nothing to make things easy. She had an argument against every line of Eddie’s case against her, but in the end the witnesses and proof of prescriptions outweighed her loud arguments about how he was sick and needed to be taken care of. It had been easier with Richie’s parents, neither of them cared to fight to keep him… Richie wasn’t sure which was worse… but now that didn’t matter. He was free from his parents, and Eddie was free from his mother. 



Richie and Eddie spent almost a whole day unpacking Eddie’s things and putting them in his room across the hall from Richie’s. The rest of the losers offered to help, but Eddie politely declined. He wanted to go through his things and get rid of some of it. So he and Richie went through his things, setting some things in a pile to donate, and some into a pile to just throw away. Richie didn’t ask why Eddie chose to keep or get rid of anything, and just put it wherever Eddie said… until he saw Eddie put a Teddy bear onto the donate pile, after clearly debating on it for a while.

 

Richie picked up it and tossed it onto Eddie’s bed.

 

“Richie what the hell?”

 

Richie quirked an eyebrow, “You don’t wanna donate it, Eds.”

 

“Yes I fucking do that’s why I put it in the donate pile.” Eddie huffed.

 

“Look I’ve sat here while you’ve reluctantly gotten rid of several things, but I know why you want the bear, and I’m not letting you get rid of it when you don’t want to.” Richie pushed up his glasses.

 

“You don’t fucking know why-”

 

“Your dad gave it to you.” Richie said, speaking in a gentle voice, “You told me that years ago…” Richie walked over to him, “After I was kinda a dick and teased you about it…”

 

“You said I was too old for a Teddy bear… but it was true then, and it’s more true now.” Eddie muttered.

 

“Fuck what I said Eds. There isn’t an age limit on fuckin’ Teddy bears.. I was just teasing you because I didn’t know how to flirt… and as soon as I knew why you had the bear I felt like the biggest asshole in the world. It’s important to you.. You should keep it.” Richie pushed up his glasses, “And even if it didn’t have sentimental value… fuck what anyone says, especially dumbass Richie Tozier who picked on everything just for you attention.” Richie walked over to Eddie and hugged him, kissing the top of his head, “I’m sorry that I was… and am such a dick without realizing it.”

 

Eddie listened to him and leaned into the hug, wrapping his arms around Richie, smiling a little at the kiss on the top of his head, “You aren’t so bad now..” He teased and leaned up to kiss Richie’s cheek, “Okay, you win. I’ll keep it… I just thought maybe… moving out of mom’s house… I wasn’t gonna be babied so-”

 

“You aren’t.. But Eds I still have all of my comic books and good luck prying them out of my cold dead hands… It’s okay to hold onto a little of our childishness, though really a stuffed animal really isn’t that childish. A lot of adults have them.” Richie shrugged.

 

Eddie seemed more confident in keeping the bear after that, and the two continued sorting through Eddie’s things and organizing his room. They boxed up the things to donate and put the things to throw away in a large trash bag before they both plopped down onto Eddie’s bed, silently agreeing to take a break before carrying everything downstairs. And if the break included a little making out… Richie was okay with that.




Richie woke up the next morning, rubbing his eyes sleepily when he realized two things. 1. Eddie must have taken off his glasses. 2. Eddie was already out of bed. He reached over and felt along the nightstand before his hand touched the cool frames of his glasses. He shoved them on before he stood and went downstairs to find Eddie, overhearing him talking with Kathy in the kitchen.

 

“I know we talked about it but I always thought… moving out before I was eighteen was more hypothetical…” Eddie’s soft voice floated toward the stairs.

 

“I hoped it wouldn’t come to this but… I offered for a reason, Eddie.” Kathy smiled sadly, “Your mom was going to find out eventually…”

 

They’d already talked about this? Fucking when ? Richie walked into the kitchen, “I wasn’t intentionally like.. Listening but… you talked about this before ?” 

 

Eddie smiled softly, seeing how sleepy Richie still was, his curled hair an absolute mess, “Yeah, you were asleep at the time but.. I didn’t think it’d ever… get this bad.” 

 

Richie frowned and walked over to Eddie, wrapping his arms around him. He leaned his head down into Eddie’s hair and closed his eyes. He was sleepy, but he was trying to be comforting. Eddie leaned into him and smiled a little before he looked over to Kathy, “My point was, I really will find a job and-”

 

“You don’t have to do that, but if you want to, I’m sure Richie will help..” Kathy smiled and took a sip of her coffee.

 

“Yeah I got a fuck no from most places I applied so unless you wanna work at Freese’s, I can’t help.” Richie snorted.

 

“I was thinking about applying there…. I’d get to work with you, plus… my mom got herself banned, so..”

 

“You don’t wanna work there.” Richie muttered.

 

Kathy frowned, “Why not? Your boss seems pretty great.”

 

“He is…” Richie shrugged, regretting opening his big fucking mouth.

 

“Then what’s wrong? Is someone giving you a hard time?” She asked, her voice full of concern.

 

Richie snorted, “Everyone’s giving me a hard fucking time, so what?”

 

“Richie..” She spoke gently.

 

“Yes. The whole goddamn town knows I’m gay now so yeah, I get shit at work as well as at school. And if Eddie works there they’ll figure it out and-”

 

“I don’t care..” Eddie looked up at him, “I told my mom . That was the scariest thing for me. I don’t care who knows now.”

 

“Eddie I…”

 

“No, Rich we’re taking self defense classes and I already punched someone in the face for giving you a hard time-fuck them. I don’t care if they know, we can fight back.” Eddie turned his head and looked up at him.

 

You can . “Just… think about it first okay? It’s kinda made everything here harder for me, actually being out… I don’t… I get why you want to… but I don’t want…” Richie closed his eyes, “I don’t want you to go through this shit too.”

 

“I won’t be alone.” Eddie turned around and tiptoed to kiss Richie’s cheek, “And neither will you.”

 

“I’ll… I’ll bring you an application tonight, okay?” Richie sighed, “Mr. Stevens really is a good boss and he’ll be thrilled you know how to watch your fucking language.”

 

Eddie smiled and hugged Richie, “Thank you boyfriend.”

 

“You’re welcome, shithead.” Richie ruffled his hair.





Richie walked to Mr. Steven’s office and lightly knocked, waiting until he heard a muffled ‘Come in’ before he pushed the door open and stepped inside, “Hey I-”

 

“How did everything go?” He asked, cutting Richie off.

 

“Oh. Good, Eddie’s staying with me at Bev’s and it’s all been taken care of… That’s actually why I’m… He needs a job… I’m not- I don’t expect you to just give it to him but could I grab an application to take back to him?” Richie pushed up his glasses.

 

Mr. Stevens nodded, “Yeah, tell him to come here tomorrow and bring it to me and I’ll talk to him… a good recommendation helps, especially from one of my best employees.” He looked up at Richie.

 

“He’ll do an even better job than me, without swearing at anyone.” Richie snorted, then looked up at Mr. Stevens, “Really though… he’d be good. He’s good at cleaning, he’s nice to people.. He needs a job just as much as I do… and he wouldn’t expect to just get paid for standing around… I dunno if he’d wanna be a cashier or stock shelves like I do but he’d be good at either one.”

 

Mr. Steven smiled, “I’ll talk to him about that part tomorrow, but I have met him before and I trust you so… I see no reason not to hire him.”

Richie smiled a little, not quite sure how to take an adult trusting and valuing his opinion, “I’m.. I’m glad I’ll get to work now.” He smiled and folded up the application, tucking it into his pocket as he walked out of the office.

 

A few hours into his shift Richie could feel someone staring at him. He decided to keep working and ignore whoever the fuck it was, but eventually he couldn’t help but open his smart mouth. “Yeah, gay guys are perfectly capable of manual labor you can-” He turned and froze, dropping the box he was holding as he looked at his mother standing before him.

 

“Richie…” She stepped toward him.

 

Richie stepped back, “You need to fucking leave.”

 

“I just want to talk-”

 

Richie gave her a bitter smile, “Aside from the fact that I have a large list of reasons to say hell no and fuck you , I’m gonna go with the more obvious excuse which is I’m fucking working right now . So fuck off.” Richie bent down and picked up the box, wincing when he heard broken glass sliding around inside.

 

“I know you don’t want to talk to me-”

 

“Then why are you here!?” Richie snapped, “Why the fuck-”

 

“Beep Beep Richie.” Stan walked over and nodded toward Mr. Stevens walking over. He stood beside Richie and glared at Maggie Tozier, holding a large bag of bird seed in his arms.

 

“I’m sorry- I just heard you worked here and I didn’t know where else to talk to you.” She tried to reason.

 

Mr. Stevens walked over, “Ma’am, I’m gonna need you to leave.”

 

“He’s my son-”

 

“He’s my employee and I will not have him feeling unsafe here like you allowed in your home.” Mr. Stevens said coldly.

 

Stan smiled a little and nodded, silently approving.

 

Maggie looked at Richie, “Richie, sweetie… five minutes. Give me five minutes to talk to you.” She reached out and gently put a hand on his shoulder.

 

Richie should say no, most of him wanted to say no… but enough of him craved the affection she was giving him to let himself be manipulated into agreeing. “Fine.” He spoke quietly, “But I have to fuckin’ work. My next break is in an hour. You really wanna fuckin’ talk to me? You can wait or come back. If not, fuck you.” He shrugged her hand off of his shoulder and held the box out to Mr. Stevens, “I… I dropped this.”

He took the box and nodded, “It’s fine…” He waited until Maggie walked away before he looked at Richie, “Are you sure you want to talk to her? You don’t have to.”

 

Richie shrugged, “I’m probably going to regret it.. But she’s my mom. If nothing else I can get some sort of fuckin’ closure.” He looked over to Stan, “I didn’t realize you guys figured out the time slots to be prepared to beep me.”

Stan snorted, “I just heard your loud ass voice while I was getting bird seed.”



Richie was anxious, and regretting agreeing each minute that his break drew closer. It didn’t help that Maggie hadn’t left. She didn’t stay near Richie, but she walked around to pass the time. Richie went and clocked out for his break, going straight outside to his car, knowing she was following. He needed to smoke if he was going to talk to her. He opened the door and grabbed the pack of cigarettes and a lighter, lighting it before tossing the pack inside and slamming the door, “The fuck do you want to talk about?” He barely looked over to her as he sat on the hood of the car.

 

“You have a car?”

 

“It’s amazing what can happen when you live in a house where people want you to grow and do well for yourself. Answer the fucking question.” He took a long drag and looked over to her.

 

She looked down before rolling up her sleeve, showing Richie a large bruise that wrapped around her arm.

 

Maybe he shouldn’t care, but it broke Richie’s fucking heart, “He did that?” He looked up to her face.

 

She nodded, “I’m leaving him.”

“Good for you.” Richie’s tone was a little bitter as he flicked the ashes off his cigarette.

 

“I thought you’d like that-”

“Oh, I’d have loved it if it started the fucking second he started beating me… or soon after…” Richie shook his head, “But hey, I gotta respect your dedication to self preservation.” He huffed a light laugh, “It was all okay until his target left.”

 

“I didn’t- I didn’t like that he hurt you-”

 

“No… but you let it happen. For years… and now you leave to save your own fucking skin.” Richie took another drag, shaking his head.

 

“You don’t know how hard it was for me to see that! For me to be scared to intervene it-”

 

“How hard it was for you ? Are you… wow you’re fuckin’ serious. How the fuck do you think it was for me ! I had one parent beating the fuck out of me and the other one pretending I don’t exist--or joining in with the slurs.” Richie pushed up his glasses, “We’re done. I hope you do leave… and I hope when you’re alone it fucking haunts you, just how goddamn selfish you are.” He stood and started walking away.

 

“Richie!” She hurried after him and took his arm, “I know I messed up! I’m trying to make up for it-”

 

“You’re trying to make yourself feel better.” Richie jerked his arm away, “You’re hoping I’ll forgive you and hug you and tell you it’s okay. It was okay to be so scared you used me as a human shield. But it wasn’t . For my own well being, I’ll forgive you some day, but that’s not today and it’s not for your fucking benefit. You’re just as bad as him .” He spat and walked up to the doors. Richie put the cigarette out and went back inside, knowing his boss would send her away if she followed after him.


She didn’t. She stood in the doorway looking as if she’d been slapped in the face, then walked away.

 

Richie still had nearly ten minutes left of his break so he went to the bathroom and locked himself in a stall. He put the toilet lid down and sat on it, before he burst into sobs. He put his elbows on his knees and covered his face with his hands. He hadn’t known what he’d expected from talking to her, but it wasn’t this. He didn’t think she’d try to make him sympathize with her struggle while he was the one being abused by both of them . And the fact that now she was going to leave him!? After he was abused for years? Richie smacked the wall of the stall in anger and then punched the door a few times. When he left the bathroom, his eyes were red and puffy, and he was holding a paper towel over his bleeding knuckles. He could already hear Eddie rattling off several infections he could get from a stall door, so he walked to the office where the first aid kit was. Richie wasn’t about to talk, and Mr. Stevens didn’t push, he just let Richie clean off his hand and go home early.

 

When he got home from work his first mission was usually to find Eddie, but right now he was walking to Bev’s room, knocking lightly. When she said he could come in, he opened the door and walked over, plopping down on the bed beside her, “Tell me you still have that bottle of whiskey.”

 

Beverly frowned and looked him over, noting his puffy eyes and his cut up hand, “Yeah… do you wanna talk about this though?”

 

“No… I really don’t.” Richie looked over to her.

 

She gave him a sympathetic smile and pulled the bottle of whiskey out from under her bed.