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ignorance is bliss

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they were lying around in almost a circle on sleeping bags on the floor of bill's bedroom when the topic of kissing came up.

 

richie exclaimed, “let's play spin the bottle!”

 

bill shrugged, “okay.”

 

“we've all kissed someone before, right guys?” bev asked suggestively, eyebrow raised, using a flashlight to shine in each of their eyes respectively under her inquisitive stare. she rolled into her stomach and propped herself up on her elbows.

 

stan nudged bill subtly and raised his eyebrows as he caught bill's eyes chasing the collar of bev's top in her new position.

 

he blushed. “i g-guess we're not losers anymore,” bill said jokingly.

 

“sure," stan replied dryly. “because that's what makes us losers,” still eyeing bill as he sheepishly rubbed the back of his neck.

 

eddie confidently stated, “no way someone would ever kiss richie.” he scoffed, “why would anyone want to trade spit with a trashmouth?” he asked, a bit too sincerely for the usual bickering between friends. but he was joking, stan could tell, because he was looking richie in the eye when he said it. it was so clearly a bait, stan thought.

 

richie looked away, eyes downcast, from eddie's grinning face as the rest of the losers laughed. 

 

bill frowned, “that wasn't very nice, eddie.”

 

ben nodded, “yeah, we didn't even ask him. richie, have you kissed someone before?”

 

richie laughed loudly, “of course! ive done more than that, me and mrs k go all night long-” stan rolled his eyes.

 

“richie!” bev implored tiredly.

 

“hey! shut up, trashmouth, that's fucking bullshit, i bet you couldn't even get someone to kiss you if you paid them. there are over 700 strains of bacteria in the human mouth but yours probably has millions-” eddie yelled over them, holding his hand up like a wall between them, a habit he's had since he was a kid he tended to do when arguing.

 

he looked at bill, he's always been the only one who could get them to stop bickering. his jaw was clenched and stan knew his ticks, he was about to snap. 

 

they'd come here for a relaxing  weekend, all together, before returning to school. he could dare to dream.

 

richie sat up from his lounging position “-what's the matter, eds? jealous?” his words had a bite to them that they usually didn't, “so sad that you're not cute enough to get a kiss from a trashmouth?! you wish-”

 

mike and ben looked at each other, half weary and half exasperated.

 

“beep beep, rich!” bill yelled. richie hadn't needed to be beeped for ages. stan could see he was upset, whether from being beeped or from the argument he couldn't tell. “let's stop arguing before stan ages another 50 years.”

 

everyone went quiet. richie and eddie glared at each other with venom. richie gave up their staring contest first, his cheeks going even redder and pushed his glasses back up his nose. that was his nervous habit.

 

“don't call me eds,” he snapped but the heat in his words wasn't there anymore. an air of finality hung around his reply; the argument was over.

 

the air was still a little heavy. richie was infectious that way. when he was in a good mood, you couldn't help but catch it. but when he wasn't, it was like he sucked out the happiness with him.  stan wondered if that's what loving someone was though, being so in-tune with each other's moods, because he knew the losers all loved each other deeply. 

 

stan huffed. “children,” he chided and added, “for the record, i am a young forty-five. and it's not that big of a deal, richie. ive never kissed anyone either.”

 

richie looked calmer. but in that forced way you try to appear when you're trying to seem less defensive than you feel. 

 

richie tried to play it off by turning to him and covering his mouth with his hand, making his voice gruff and mechanical, “i was expecting someone with your reputation to be a little... younger...” he trailed off when the rest of the losers didn't laugh. “fine, don't appreciate general grievous even though he was-”

 

“rich…” ben interrupted him softly. he smiled and him and reached to touch his arm in comfort.

 

bill smiled, “trashmouth-”

 

richie snapped in an eddie-like manner, “don't call me that.” he jerked away from ben's hand. “fuck stop being so fucking serious, i was just dicking around.” 

 

bev sighed tiredly. “who even brought this up? it doesn't matter.” she turned to stan beside her, hoping to deescalate the situation. “hey stan, there's nothing wrong with not having kissed someone yet. we're only young and y'know,” she smiled kindly, “some people just don't want stuff like that until they're older.” most of them nodded and stan tucked his knees up to his chest, nodding and letting a little smile out, his curls falling into his eyes as he rested his chin on his knee.

 

“thanks.” he knew his friends would understand.

 

“-oh fucking great, now i'm in the same league as stan. how the mighty have fallen.” riche loudly complained, more himself than before but tense as a board. when bev tried to roll into him and lay her head in his lap he flinched.

 

richie never flinched away from physical affection.

 

“peace treaty? great,” mike clapped eddie on the back and he tried not to wince, “fuck dude that was too hard.”

 

“that's what he said,” richie jabbed. eddie made a face at him.

 

mike ignored him, a teasing look coming into his eye. bev leaned forward, grinning already.

 

mike addressed richie, “look, just kiss stan and it'll be over with,” mike said seriously, like it was the logical explanation, but he was trying to hold back a smile.

 

eddie pretended to wipe a tear away, “dont worry, stan, we'll cry at your funeral.“

 

“fuck off, eddie.” richie snapped, “you're by far the biggest virgin here. and you'd still be even if your mom was here too,” richie made a face, “and yikes.”

 

eddie's face went sour, “okay so you know that you have to have sex to have a kid, thats just basic biology, so she's not a virgin,” eddie paused, grimacing, “but that's besides the point, ive kissed someone before. ha! in your face, tozier!” 

 

mike interrupted them with a, “wait, really?”

 

bill chipped in, “what?”

 

eddie turned on him, offended and defensive, “what you don't think someone would kiss me? you think i'm unkissable? is that it? i'll show you!” 

 

mike's grin faltered. richie's face crumpled as he watched silently, his shoulders dropping from their tense position closer to his ears than his chest. eddie leant across their circle they made on the floor and grabbed stan's shoulder roughly, yanking him forward. the other boy's eyes widened and he leant into the tight grip on his shoulder with no other choice.

 

and then their faces were pressed together. their noses were kind of knocking into each other and it wasn't gentle but it was definitely a kiss. 

 

unmistakably lips against lips. 

 

stan's eyes were wide as he stared straight ahead, accidentally making eye contact with richie over eddie's shoulder. it looked like the other boy's were wet, but that was weird. they glistened in the limited light from the torches more than one's eyes normally would. it happened so quickly he couldn't really tell though.

 

he blinked and suddenly grasped the reality of the situation. he opened his mouth in shock to say something, he didn't even know what he would've said, when eddie's tongue touched the inside of his lip and he jumped away. 

 

he sat back down and glanced at richie again but he was looking away with a blank expression.

 

he wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and looked around; most of them were frozen out of surprise and some in awe. 

 

eddie sat back down and tried to calm him breathing.

 

“see? im less a virgin that you, tozier,” and crossed his arms with a smug look on his face. 

 

stan's face felt like it was on fire and he touched his lips like he'd never used them before, “excuse me?” 

 

eddie's face fell a bit, “sorry, stan the man. was just trying to prove a point.”

 

bill was the first to regain his sensibilities and cleared his throat. he opened his mouth to say something but nothing came out.

 

bev was next, with a sly smile and wrapping an arm around stan's shoulders, “so? any good?”

 

richie got up suddenly and muttered something under his breath and left.

 

“what's going on?” bev asked the group but they didn't seem to have an answer. they fidgeted around on their sleeping bags. more silence.

 

finally, ben piped up, “i don't know but he's been weird all day.” stan agreed, richie wasn't acting like himself. sure, he annoyed all of them but that kind of argument was rarer the older they got.

 

eddie spoke, “i shouldn't have pushed him about it so much.” all the heat from earlier was gone, now he just sounded as confused as stan felt.

 

“it's not your fault, eddie, he's probably just… sensitive,” mike defended but even he didn't sound sure of his own words.

 

“richie trashmouth tozier? sensitive?” a few of them chuckled at that.

 

“guys, he asked us not to call him that,” ben reminded them firmly. never let it be said that ben wasn't a good friend.

 

“we've been calling him that for years, what's changed that we can't anymore?” 

 

stan paused his thoughts momentarily. 

 

“did something happen the other day? what's going on at home? has he said anything?”

 

“everything was fine and normal until this afternoon.”

 

“yeah.”

 

“so what happened. eddie, weren't you with him?”

 

stan stood up. “i'll go check on him.”

 


 

"richie."

 

"fuck off, stan the man. m'fine, honestly!" he made an exaggerated happy face.

 

"...rich. i'm gay," stan said plainly. no waver in his voice and no tremulous expression on his face either.

 

"uh," richie started and then stopped. "uhm," he rubbed his eye, "that's great, stan, but uh-" he blinked, "what?"

 

"yep." 

 

silence. but it wasn't uncomfortable. they could even hear the rest of the losers upstairs loudly discussing which movie they were going to watch.

 

"but what about that girl at prom?"

 

"for my parents." richie nodded in understanding.

 

"i… stan, i-" richie stumbled over his words and stan could feel it. it finally slotted into place.

 

"-i know." he put his arm around the other boy, pulling them together till they were touching shoulders.

 

"you didn't even listen to what i was about to say."

 

"you're gay. that's why you looked so… weird when eddie kissed me." really, stan reckoned, he should've put it together before now. how many times had he seen richie flirting with another guy, even if it was mostly just eddie, and thought that he was just messing. how many times had he quickly changed the subject when they talked about liking girls? stan wanted to hit himself in the head.

 

richie glanced away, pushing his glasses up again. "yeah." it was a quiet admission that stan wouldn't have thought could come out of a guy who didn't even own an inside voice.

 

"how long have you known?" 

 

stan paused. did he mean how long he's known about him or about himself?

 

"when eddie kissed me," stan finally answered. because that answered both. he knew simultaneously that kissing a girl would never be as nice as that, even if it was only eddie. and also that richie was too invested in what was a joking kiss between life-long friends. he knew that look, too. the look of someone knowing they shouldn’t want something and wanting it anyway. he looked at bill that way sometimes.

 

but bill wasn’t gay. And he would never piece it together like stan had with richie; he and richie were the same in this small way. perhaps the only thing they have in common anymore. apart from a deep sense of family with another.

 

he solidified his own understanding of his sexuality, and it just so happened that he stumbled into the realisation that his friend was also dealing with the same struggles.

 

"i had no idea you were… y'know."

 

"gay?" stan had practiced saying it to himself for months. gay. over and over in his head every night. gay, gay, gay, gay. he was definitely gay. maybe that's what richie needed to do, too.

 

"well, we don't all have an eddie," stan joked softly, still unsure whether richie was going to get defensive again. he only meant that they weren’t all as openly affectionate with their male  best friends. stan doubts that he would’ve been able to figure it out if richie weren’t so… richie about eddie. sure, stan loved him too but did you find him calling him cute and touching him whenever he had the chance?

 

richie whistled then sighed, "it looks like he prefers you anyway," richie's voice turned bitter. stan hesitated. What?

 

stan prided himself on being observational. that’s why he was so good at bird-watching too. but something didn’t make sense here. richie sounded jealous. As in the ugly kind that twisted your words with you spoke and gave you wrinkles as you got older. 

 

for the second time that night stan felt stupid for not noticing it earlier. richie was gay, sure. weren’t most of the losers, though? both bev and mike had put cutout of both female and male celebrities in the clubhouse and stan had known - well, suspected- he was gay since even before that. and everyone knew eddie was gay. and now richie? 

 

stan barked out a laugh. richie wasn’t only gay. richie was gay for eddie.

 

He shook his head as the laugh poured out of him, "sure." as if eddie could prefer anyone in the world over richie.

 

this was stupid. maybe he just needed a push to realise it? 

 

he detached himself from richie to turn to him fully on the denbrough's front steps. "rich, you've never been kissed, have you?" he thought he knew the answer but he wanted to be sure.

 

"no. but apparently everyone else has." 

 

stan reached up to behind richie's neck and pulled him towards him. he kept his eyes open for aim and went for it.

 

lips against frozen, shocked lips.

 

it was much more chaste that his first kiss because richie leapt away from him. "what the dick?! that felt like kissing my dad!" 

 

richie wiped his face vigorously and even stuck out his tongue to wipe it on his sleeve. 

 

"excuse me?  you're older than me, richie! and kissing me is an honour. you should be grateful," stan grinned, also wiping his mouth though not as thoroughly. "i didn't even touch your tongue, calm down," he tried to placate his friend. he could admit though, it felt like kissing a family member.

 

“You’re even now,” stan smiled. 

 

when he looked at richie now. he looked better and worse at the same time. he reminded him of the gangly, rude-mouthed kid who annoyed him to no end growing up and yet the dark cloud surrounding him looked heavier than ever. “thanks, stan. i don’t even know why i got so angry. it’s not like i wanted to kiss him myself,” he laughed lightly, “i know we’re just friends. all of us. kissing eddie- or any one of you, would be like kissing a brother. and i’m glad you know that i’m… gay. could you, not tell the others, please stan?”

 

“of course. but rich, eddie-”

 

“-no, i get it now, stan. you’re right. i’m sorry for riling every one up.”

 

stan didn’t want to even attempt to unravel the severe layers of internalized denial that was happening inside the younger boys head. if it’s that deeply tangled… maybe it’s just best to let him sort it out himself. one day he’ll figure it out and hopefully be proud.

 

the chill from the autumn air was getting to him. "i love you richie but it's cold out here." he could feel the shivers coming. 

 

"i love you too. just,* richie laughed, "never kiss me again."

 



when they came back inside jaws was playing and people were huddled together on various sleeping bags and on bill's bed. the team effort of carrying the tv upstairs had been worth it.

 

riche immediately dropped down onto the bed where eddie and bill were sitting, and caused them to groan out protests against richie digging in his elbows and knees into while he got comfortable lying across them.

 

he caught eddie looking at richie with a tender smile as he got comfortable with the new addition. stan wanted to believe that they would work it out. they had to. something deep in the back of stan’s mind ached, like a sense of deja vu of foreboding. he didn’t want to listen to the voice that said they might not. 

 

it wasn’t stan’s business anyway, the logical side of himself tried to convince him.

 

stan's wasn't as dramatic as richie’s entrance and simply sat down where bev and mike had made room for him on the floor. 

 

they settled against him with bev on his chest and mike on his other shoulder. ben was on bev's other side with her feet in his lap. he felt like he had just come home after a long trip and could finally relax now that they were all together again, more normal than they’d felt in a while. he was so -unusually- emotionally drained that for a second he worried about himself, but let out a breath when he remembered the amount of pills left in the bottle and counted back to realise that no, he hadn’t accidentally forgotten to take a pill one morning. 

 

he was just drained from a fulfilling day, he wasn’t spiraling.

 

he allowed himself to relax into his friends and tried not to think about richie anymore.

 

Chapter Text


group chat 

 

ben: oh yeah richie is def the one of us most likely to never get married

 

bev: i can't see richie ever getting married ngl

 

rich: lmao :(

 

rich: u losers can't say anything none of you have even kissed someone

 

bev: yeah guys :p u can't say anything

 

bill: ive kissed you what are you talking about

 

ben: hEY so have i, don't forget about me 

 

mike: actually so have i.

 

mike: not bev haha but someone else.

 

bev: aw benny how could i forget about you? 

 

bill: wow. who mike?

 

mike: this girl in my math class

 

bev: stan you've never kissed anyone, right?

 

stan: …

 

rich: omg who? who? who?

 

mike: look at the big man himself, being the only one who hasn’t been kissed

 

rich: mike i dont know how you know that about my Private area but you're not wrong. and im not the only one. good ol’ eddie's reliable like that. I've never seen a man so devoted to celibacy.

 

rich: wait yes i have. stan's even more of a prude

 

stan: ive been kissed before.

 

rich: what the dicking fuck

 


 

 

eddie to stan

 

stan: can i say it was you that i kissed?

 

eddie: …

 

eddie knew stan wouldn’t ask out without good reason. he trusted that stan needed this and if it were the other way around, stan wouldn’t hesitate to help him.

 

stan: eddie?

 

eddie: of course, stan. no problem.

 

he knew stan liked keeping things close to the chest sometimes. and he knew he was… a bit much for stan sometimes. he’d been told before that he was too pushy, too loud, too himself so many times. but he wanted to do right by stan whenever he could help it. so he would leave it alone. if stan wanted to talk, he would.


 

 

 

group chat

 

eddie: me too

 

mike: really? who? 

 

richie: wait what the fuck? eddie???

 

richie's heart starts hammering in his chest. 

 

he closes his screen and tries to take a deep breath. why should he care if eddie's out kissing people, they're just friends. that's all they'll ever be. his phone dings twice, fast.

 

he opens it again and starts thinking about the girls eddie's ever been friends with, people who've shown interest in him.. anyone who could've have kissed him without even richie noticing. there was that girl greta he thought he liked for a while. but wasn't she the one to write loser on his cast when they were kids?

 

he opened the group chat.

 

eddie: it was stan

 

stan: it was eddie

 

richie's heart drops. what?

 

rich: what

 

eddie: you don't think i could’ve kissed someone? fuck you richie

 

stan: yeah my first kiss was pretty perfect.

 

stan: it was a one time thing though.

 

rich has left chat


 

 

bill to stan

 

bill: stan is that true?

 

stan: of course not. well, my first kiss was perfect. but it wasn't eddie.

 

bill: stan

 

stan: look, i know you said you didn't want to talk about… what happened, but i don't want to pretend it never happened.

 

stan: and it's only eddie, it's not like it's true. we grew up together- he’s like a little brother to all of us. 

 

stan: please don't be mad, bill

 

bill: i'm not mad, stan

 

bill: i don't want to pretend it never happened either. but

 

stan: but what

 

bill: you shouldn't have said it was eddie

 

stan: what? are you jealous?

 

bill: it's not me you should worry about being jealous. he’s not like a little brother to ‘all’ of us.

 

stan: …

 

stan: fuckkkkk

 

stan: No Way.

 

stan: how did i not see that ???

 

bill: i honestly don't know?


 

 

 

group chat

 

bev: where did everyone go

 

ben: i don't know

 

mike: i'm still here

 

bev has left the chat

 

mike: welp

 


 

 

 

bev to richie

 

bev: richie where did you go

 

rich: did you know about eddie and stan?

 

bev: is that what this is about?

 

rich: i just don't get how they ended up together. they have nothing in common

 

rich: no, it’s not

 

rich: i just dont understand

 

bev: uhuh

 

rich: why didn't he tell me? 

 

rich: and how long would it have gone on if we hadn't just found out about it in the group chat??

 

rich: why didn't they* tell us* i meant.


 

 

bev to bill

 

bev: did you know????

 

bill: hi bev 

 

bill: what do you mean

 

bev: richie??????? eddie!!

 

bill: oh that

 

bill: stan just figured it out too. how am i the only one to pick up on these things

 

bev: true.


 

 

group chat

 

ben has left the chat

 

mike: guys??????


 

 

next week (present day)

 

bev: has anyone seen bowers face? me and ben saw him in town today

 

mike: what were you two doing in town together?

 

ben: just hanging out.

 

mike: sure ;)

 

bev: no seriously, it looks like someone ran him over

 

bev: not that he wouldn't have deserved it

 

mike: where’s stan?

 

bill: stan?

 

bill: stan. So. we were hanging out yesterday and

 

mike: uhuh. just you two bros? chilling in a small town? 0 feet apart cause??

 

ben: where is stan, anyway? he's usually online around now to tell us about the latest episode of that eco documentary

 

bill: Well. he's on bedrest

 

bev: what?!

 

mike: what  happened???

 

ben: omg

 

bev: where are eddie and richie, now that you mention that about stan

 

bill: bowers and his guys tried to pick a Fight and eddie couldn't let it go

 

bill: and they got a few hits in before i could help eddie and now his mother has locked him in his room

 

bev: *record scratch*

 

bev: i'm sorry what?! is he alright? what happened to stan?

 

bev: so where's richie???

 

ben: what the fuck, why didn't you say anything

 

bill: i just wish... look, it's not eddie's fault. but he could've just let it go

 

rich: of fucking course. protect stanley uris at all costs. putting everyone in a dangerous situation just coz his fucking boyfriend gets shouldered

 

rich: my ribs are BROKEN.

 

rich: stanley was fucking Unconscious getting the SHIT kicked out of him

 

rich: you know what? you fucking dicks can tell eddie for me a big Fuck You.

 

rich has left the chat.

 

eddie has left the chat.


 

 

previous day (eddie's pov)

 

the four boys were walking down the street coming back from playing some baseball with bill’s dad’s old stuff (because he played in college apparently). it was busy but not bustling and the group of guys walking towards them could've easily been avoided.

 

richie had even already moved to walk behind bill to make room for them on the footpath when it happened. and really there was no excuse because the foot path was wide enough and there were no cars on the road.

 

they had space. they just chose not to use it.

 

fucking bowers and his gang.

 

they shoulder-checked stan as he walked past and one of them yanked his yarmulke off his head and threw it on the ground. stan flinched as they snarled at him, "watch out, faggot." they snickered at stan as he rubbed his shoulder. 

 

bill turned to glare at them and richie clenched his jaw as he picked up stan’s yarmulke for him.

 

"come one guys, let's go." stan sounded so dejected.

 

eddie couldn't stand that tone of voice from stan. 

 

he was already having a shit day; some asshole had sliced mike’s tires and painted “nigger” across the side of his truck, then a couple of bitches from school were talking shit about ben while he ate his lunch at the diner the other day, and on top of all of that, bev was having a really hard time too. it was her mother’s birthday yesterday, and 'memories', bev had said while she sniffled into the phone when he called her that morning.

 

so yeah, eddie was fucking angry.

 

he was just reminded all at once at how fucking shit the world can be to the people he loves and god fucking dammit he couldn’t stand it. the other three boys were also feeling the tension of the last couple of days too but they weren’t the ones holding the massive fucking bat.

 

"don't fucking touch him!"

 

and eddie turned and stomped up to bowers and swung bill’s bat with the strength of his entire body at bowers’ leg. bowers dropped like a stone and as soon as he hit the ground, the rest of his gang jumped on him.


 

 

present day

 

stan doesn't remember yesterday very well. he remembers someone pulling his yarmulke off, hair and all, when they bump into him roughly on the street. he remembers eddie swinging a bat. and blood. lots of blood. and yelling?

 

he remembers his hands feeling like they'd been shredded.

 

he hit hockstetter -at least  he thinks it was hockstetter- so hard. he thought he'd broken his hand. but he hadn't stopped. why hadn't he stopped? and why couldn't he remember? tears sprung to the corners of his eyes and he clenched his fists but they ached and he couldn't hold the shape of a fist.

 

bill smiled faintly at him from across the bed. his eyes looked red like he'd been crying. it made stan feel horrible.

 

"it's okay if you c-can't r-r-remember, stan. the doctor said you got a pretty nasty concussion. i'm just g-glad y-you're okay," he blinked really hard as if staving off tears himself and continued, "w-when i s-s-s-saw you on the g-ground n-not moving. g-g-g-g-" he choked up. stan opened his arms bill collapsed into them. stan rubbed his back comfortingly as his chest shook his sobs.

 

"bill- i-" he started.

 

"i know, s-stan," bill parted from their embrace enough to look into stan's into, "i'm just not ready for everyone to know.”


 

bev to bill

 

bev: richie is really upset

 

bill: he has no reason to be jealous. eddie and stan are Not a thing. they never were

 

bev: then why did they kiss?

 

bill's shoulders tensed.

 

bill: i don't know. but stan told me that it wasn't because eddie's "in love" with him. richie needs to calm down

 

bev: haha but seriously... i'm worried about richie

 

bill: there's nothing to be done, he has to figure this out himself. what happens down the road when he can't control his jealousy with someone else he likes?

 

bill knows what he's saying makes sense. but he also knows richie, knows there will never be anyone he loves as fiercely as he loves eddie. but what he says works. bev agrees with him. and that's enough for him. until he's ready to tell them.


 

 

richie to eddie

 

rich: i'm sorry

 

rich: i didn't mean anything i said

 

rich: i was just... jealous. all of a sudden i thought stan was more important to you 

 

rich: and i was just pissed because you could've been really hurt, like stan ended up, and i was so worried, eds. i can't lose you

 

rich: it was really stupid. of me to act that way.

 

rich: because i know you love us all equally :P

 

rich: if stan makes you happy, i'm happy for you.

 

eddie was torn. it was physically painful. his loyalty to stan, and his secrets, and his desire to share everything with richie. to explain to richie that yes, of course he was more important to him than anything, he never liked stan, stan is like a brother to him. but he knew richie didn’t feel the same way. so it was pointless to hope anyway.

 


 

richie didn’t know why his chest constricted when he looked back at the moment eddie told bowers to fuck off. he catches himself wondering if eddie would have reacted the same way is bowers had targeting him instead of stan, if eddie would have cared as much. 

 

but it’s stupid because richie was fighting for stan too. and the rest of them, and anyone else in shitty derry that had been the target of bowers torture. it wasn't about him and eddie at all. but he couldn't shake the feeling of the loneliness growing in tandem with the jealousy wrapped around his heart.

 

he used to think that eddie was the most important person in the world to him, and he, in turn, was to eddie, too. but he didn’t feel like that anymore. it felt like suddenly there was a hole in his chest, created the exact moment eddie decided to take a metal bat to bowers leg. on some level he knows that it’s because he wished it was him eddie was doing it for.

 

he desperately wants to believe that it's because he loves him as friend. 

 

but, fuck, does he remember the pure terror he feels when he sees that guy trying to push eddie to the ground. the hits eddie can’t land because the guy is so much bigger than him, his arms aren’t even long enough to reach his face. 

 

and richie hits as hard as he can because he just wants this to stop because eddie is getting hurt. and stan is unconscious. and bill is crying over a puddle of blood. because when he pulled hockstetter off stan, bill beat him senseless to no end until he was peeled off of him.

 

and he feels so scared and alone in the first time in years because he could’ve lost eddie and eddie doesn’t even fucking care because stan is hurt and he’s crying over stan. and richie can’t take it. because stan is actually really fucking hurt and all he can think about is whether eddie is okay. and he hates himself more than anything.

 

he loves eddie so much. and it scares him. and he hates it because it makes him hate himself. so he pretends it doesn’t exist. they’re just friends anyway. 



Chapter Text

eddie showed up late to the clubhouse that they’d almost outgrown. the only people who could comfortably stand up in it now were bev, eddie and barely mike. richie and stan, being the tallest of them, had very different ideas about abandoning the clubhouse as they got older. richie didn’t mind because he always lounged in the hammock ben had reinforced over the years but stan hated sitting on the muddy ground and always bumped his head walking around. they’d finally settled the summer-long argument when bill had taken stan’s side against richie and eddie who were insistent that they not leave it behind with the rest of their childhood.

 

they were in their usual positions draped over various donated rugs and bill even found an old piece of patio furniture they’d put on one side of the ‘room’. no one seemed to care that bill sat in a chair while the rest of them -save richie- were sitting on the ground.

 

not even eddie, the biggest germaphobe they’d ever met, complained when bill claimed the chair for himself. but that was probably because richie let him share the hammock when eddie was more irritated than usual.

 

“eddie-spaghetti! have any good chucks on you way over? took you long enough!” richie dropped his comic book on the floor, something he’d regret later because those comics were his prized possessions and the pages were bent now. “you’re never late.”

 

“sorry for making you worry, i was talking to nick.”

 

bill visibly relaxed. “it’s okay, eddie. we just didn’t know if something had happened to you.” eddie smiled and leaned over to give bill a small hug. 

 

mike leant in curiously, “who’s nick?”

 

“he works at the grocery store,” eddie explained like it was obvious.

 

“nick cromwell? isn’t he gay?” stan asked.

 

richie’s smile evaporated from his face and a deep frown set on his face, “what?”

 

“yeah. he asked me out,” eddie smiled and went over to richie but richie didn’t make room for him. instead he was looking at eddie like he’d never seen him before.

 

“i need some air.” the losers looked at richie in confusion as he carefully dodged the beams and climbed up the ladder.

 

“what is it, richie?” mike asked.

 

ben looked up from where he was braiding bev’s hair, “maybe he’s just one of those people,” he said mysteriously. ben did that sometimes. he knew something uncomfortable was about to come up into conversation so he tried to change the subject.

 

mike, who obviously didn’t get the memo, asked, “what people?” 

 

“who like to breathe air,” ben said defensively. eddie laughed at that and sat down in the recently-vacated hammock. he spotted richie’s comic on the ground and picked it up and smoothed down the pages that had bent.

 

“unlike the rest of us, who don’t like to breathe air?” stan implored.

 

“well, are we going to go check on him?” mike continued. stan groaned.

 

even bill looked a bit peeved. he made eye contact with mike and glanced at eddie -who was now reading the comic- pointedly.

 

“i’ll go, he never yells at me when he’s pissed.” eddie deposited the comic book onto an old crate and went after his best friend.

 

stan rolled his eyes. 

 

once eddie was out of ear shot bev started snickering.

 

“rich?” richie was sitting behind a tree not that far away from the clubhouse when eddie found him. richie jumped and cursed.

 

“what the dick, you scared me, eds. i only came out for a piss, you didn’t have to send a bodyguard.”

 

“you said you came out for some air so shut the fuck up, trashmouth. just tell me what’s wrong.” eddie crossed his arms and tapped his foot impatiently.

 

richie frowned again. “you never told me you were gay,” he simply stated.

 

“doesn’t everyone know? i thought you knew?”

 

“well obviously i didn’t fucking know, dickwad.” 

 

“fuck off, why does it matter anyway?”

 

richie stared at eddie’s face for a few seconds before he snapped out of it and stood up. “it doesn’t. so, are you going to go on that date with nick cromwell?”

 

“probably. he’s nice. and he likes me.”

 

“cool.” richie took off back towards the clubhouse.

 


 

 

a month later

 

“let’s go!” richie jumped excitedly between bill and bev’s arms, “big man bill! big man bill!” he sang along badly to the tune of ‘post man pat’, “big man bill and his black and white van!” 

 

his parents had gotten him a car for his birthday and the losers wanted to go for a ride to break it in, despite it being a second-hand car. he was the first one of them to get a car. “let’s go pick up ed-ster and get crackalackin ,” richie’s scottish accent almost wasn’t terrible. almost.

 

richie climbed into the passenger seat, beating mike to it after a nasty knee to the groin as he climbed over him to get to it.

 

stan crumpled himself to fit into the backseat complaining about physical abuse, and ben and mike squished in behind him. bev climbed over them to sit half on ben and half on mike, mindful of stan’s knees that were already near his chest.

 

“no fair richie got front seat, this is ridiculous. where is eddie even going to sit?” mike complained as bev repositioned herself and he had to dodge her elbows. “my dick can’t take much more.”

 

richie answered, “he’ll sit on my lap of course, and a small car is better than no car,” then he changed his voice to add, “your paw done did his best,” mike groaned, “you best not be bitching now, boy, ya’ hear?” richie’s odd combination of urban slang and southern accents was dreadful to listen to but it's still funny somehow.

 

“that accent is slightly offensive.”

 

richie turned in his chair with a huge grin on his face, “yes, massa, big oof indeed.” mike reached to slap him playfully richie moved out of the way and mike couldn’t reach past bev. “whatever, let’s go.”

 

“what about eddie?” 

 

bill sighed, “he’s out with nick.”

 

richie slumped into his seat. “so what, his stupid boyfriend is more important than this? you only ever get a car once!”

 

stan interrupted his whinging, “that’s not even true.”

 

richie ignored him, “we planned this ages ago. why can’t he cancel, he’s only been out with him once.”

 

the losers in the backseat stopped bickering and listened.

 

“richie,” bill’s tone was hesitant and laced with pity, “they’ve been out on dates loads of times. they’re dating now. you have to accept that.”

 

richie laughed, “fine! we don’t need him anyway. cool it, big bill, it’s not like i’m in love with him or something,” he scoffed, “come on, let’s go.” 




 

 

next week



“eddie, you should invite nick to bill’s birthday party-slash-new years party.”

 

richie was coming back from the denbrough’s kitchen after getting a drink when mike suggested it. because mike was a considerate friend who wanted his other friends’ significant others to feel welcome by the group.

 

richie tripped suddenly and his glass of water spilt all over mike’s front. stan, who was sitting beside him, flinched away from the precipitous liquid and quickly ran off to get a towel. god knows he’d stayed over at bill’s house enough times in his life to know where they kept them.

 

richie turned to bill sitting in an armchair to the left, shrugged. “fuckin’ shoelaces.”

 

bill looked down at richie’s socks and glared at his friend.

 


 

 

 

the following weekend

 

the party was so chaotic that it took richie twenty minutes to spot one of the losers.

 

“where’s eddie?”

 

“oh, i think he went upstairs with nick a while ago? not sure,” mike ignored it and went back to his conversation when richie spun on his foot and left the kitchen.

 

“eddie spaghetti?!” richie called out teasingly. he ignored the sweat beading on the back of his neck. he plastered on a smile but after searching the hall, bill’s room and bathroom, he abandoned that idea. 

 

the only room left was the denbrough’s bedroom but surely eddie wouldn’t want to let anyone in there. hadn’t bill only been telling them that afternoon that “upstairs was off-limits, that he didn’t care how horny you were, his family slept in that house, for g-god sake”?

 

“rich!” bev came out of nowhere and attached herself to richie’s back. in any other situation he would appreciate tipsy-bev’s affection but not right now. “mikey said you were looking for eddie. why are you up here?”

 

“i don’t know.” 

 

“aw, honey…” he didn’t turn around. he just kept looking at the knob of the door of bill’s parents.

 

upstairs the music wasn’t that loud, thank god for insulated flooring, and the silence helped him think. he knew he should turn around. it wasn’t his business. yet the thought of eddie with someone else in there sat in the back of his mind, staring right into his soul.

 

“c’mon, rich, dance with me,” bev let go and grabbed his hand. he sighed and followed her. 

 

“sorry, that was fucking weird. i swear i don’t try to eavesdrop on you and ben when you’re getting freaky,” bev laughed loudly at that and richie wondered if she was more drunk than he thought.

 

“don’t worry, richiee-” she dragged the end of his name and they started walking back to the stairs when he heard a door open. 

 

“-richie.”

 

he turned around and saw eddie exiting the room he had almost opened. eddie almost ran into him in his haste. he caught him by the shoulder and glanced at his face, at the tears and the swollen lips. 

 

“what the fuck, eds-”

 

“leave me alone, richie,” eddie’s lower lip trembled as he said it and richie paused. eddie left him at the top of the stairs. richie clenched his fists.


 

 

 

next week

 

the losers dragged themselves into town to watch the latest fast and furious movie -purely so they could make fun of it- when they ran into eddie and nick. they spotted them across the road holding hands and immediately richie turned on bill, “i thought you fucking said he was ‘ s-s-sick ’?” 

 

stan glowered at him, “fuck you, rich.” no one ever made fun of bill’s stutter.

 

“not cool, richie-”

 

“-let’s go say hi,” mike suggested helpfully. he waved at them vigorously, “eddie!”

 

eddie looked up and grinned, tugging nick along with him across the road. 

 

“hey, eds, have any good chucks lately?”

 

eddie looked between richie and nick and blushed, “uh… nick these are the rest of my friends. you didn’t get to meet them last week.” at the mention of the previous week, richie crossed his arms.

 

the losers looked around at each other. it was mike who introduced himself first.

 

“hi! i’m mike, i think my grandfather gave your dad some potatoes a while ago from the farm. we had too many for the bags we had, see-” he stopped when he saw richie’s sour face.

 

nick lit up and latched onto the common thread and eagerly replied, “yeah, we had them for dinner the other night, were lovely,” nick side-eyed richie, his tone darkened, “thanks for that, by the way.”

 

“we should go,” eddie tugged on his jacket and gave nick a small smile. nick reached for his hand but eddie swiftly pulled it out of his reach, instead walking around the losers and telling them he’d see them later.

 

eddie paused after a few steps and stole a sad glance back at richie, who didn’t notice because he was still mutely scowling at nick. mike was watching the entire interaction with confusion.

 

when they turned the corner richie went straight to the ticket booth and when he was far enough away mike waved his hands in front of them. they stopped talking and looked at him in varying levels of wariness.

 

“what the fuck was that?!” he whisper-shouted at them, gesticulating wildly between richie in front of them and the way they came. he glanced back at richie to make sure he was still busy. 

 

stan was the first to answer, appearing both bored and irritated at the same time, “they’re fucking idiots, what about it?”

 

“why didn’t tell me?!” he gazed searchingly into each of their sheepish expressions.

 

“in our d-defense, it’s p-pretty fucking obvious.”




a month later

 

eddie let himself into the denbrough’s house and found the losers piled up around the tv set in the living room. they were all yelling at eachother in what had to be at least three separate conversations but he couldn’t tell exactly because they were yelling so goddamn loud. ben looked up and caught eddie’s eye. he stood up and pointed at eddie eagerly.

 

“eddie! get over here, stan’s trying to make us watch a documentary about birds and we can’t stop him!” 

 

richie perked up and span around.

 

“eddie-spaghetti!” he leant over the arm of the couch to pinch eddie’s cheeks, “looking cute as always,” he winked at him but then his attention was caught by the movement of stan bending to putting a dvd into the player and he groaned loudly. “stanley! please! in front of the kids?!”

 

“fuck off, richie,” said stan with a smile.

 

“why couldn’t you stop him? there’s five of you and only one of him!” but eddie didn’t even move to change the dvd, he just sat on the ground in front of them and took off his jacket.

 

bill smacked his leg lightly, “i think we should watch something stan likes for once. we never do.” he shared a little smile with stan as he said it.

 

bev pretended to gag.

 

eddie huffed and whispered over his shoulder, “that’s fucking gay.”

 

richie threw his head back and barked out a laugh as the opening scene started playing. mike was watching richie instead of the tv, remarking to himself that the other boy’s smile made his face so much kinder. richie seemed to be much lighter today; he was laughing more easily and joking again like he used to before nick happened.

 

mike was still studying richie when he stopped laughing and simply smiled at the back of eddie’s head. the expression on his face was so tender, mike felt a hint of emotional voyeurism creep in and he looked away. how had he not noticed this before now? he wondered to himself.

 

instead of staring at richie, he started paying attention to a movie in which he had no interest. in his mind, he considered stan’s pleased expression as they talked about some rare yellow bird comparatively with the next hour of his life he’d never get back.

 

he sat back and tried his best to enjoy the documentary.





the previous day (richie’s pov)

 

they were hanging out together at eddie’s house because his mother had gone out, but the day soon went south when eddie started talking about his recent date with nick. richie couldn’t help it, he snapped at him. and he never snapped at eddie.

 

“you’re a fucking clown.”

 

“what the fuck is that supposed to mean?”

 

“eddie, you were crying that night at the party! he’s not good for you,” richie cried out, trying to reason with him.

 

“oh, and who is?” 

 

richie faltered. his heart was screaming at him but he floundered with finding the right words. all he knew what that when he saw eddie with nick the only thing he wanted in the world was the be in nick’s place. but that was fucking gay. shit, was he gay?

 

if that’s what they call the feeling he gets when he makes eddie laugh, or the intense worry when eddie gets hurt, or the burning envy when eddie brings his fucking boyfriend around, then maybe he is gay. he'd never felt that way towards another guy before, do he'd just assumed he was straight.

 

“i don’t know. no one. not him, anyway. you deserve better than that.” better than me, went unspoken . he didn’t know if he was gay, but he was absolutely positive of that . eddie deserved better than him and everyone knew it. he was just richie trashmouth. so even if he was gay for eddie, he would never let it out. 

 

“he’s nice! and he actually has the balls to say he has feelings for me!” eddie’s glower was almost accusing and it shook richie to his core. 

 

the first words eddie spoke of nick were thrown back at him. the same ones that he hadn’t been able to stop thinking about for months. it was like a punch in the gut.

 

richie stumbled back.

 

eddie’s expression faltered. “i mean-”

 

“no, you’re right, eddie. it’s just," richie pushed his glasses up his nose and rephrased, “you’re my best friend.” 

 

“you’re my best friend, too.” but eddie didn’t sound happy and teasing like he usually did when he said it. he sounded sad. 

 




the party 

 

somehow between laughing, dancing and soft kisses, he’d ended up against mr and mrs denbrough’s bedroom wall making out with his boyfriend. it still felt weird to think it. his boyfriend . eddie smiled into the kiss. his boyfriend richie.

 

he froze and opened his eyes.

 

he pushed against nick’s chest. “nick! get off me,” he said and even he could hear the panic in his voice. he felt tears gathering on his eyes. 

 

nick put his hand on his shoulder, “what’s wrong?”

 

“eddie, it’s okay. look, i’m sorry if i pushed you,”  eddie closed his eyes and begged them to stop crying. he didn’t want to cry from kissing his boyfriend. that’s so embarrassing.

 

“i can’t,” eddie tried to say but the words wouldn’t come out. he put his hand on the doorknob and  he opened the door, planning on making a quick exit. 

 

nick leant down and pressed a kiss against his lips.

 

“richie,” eddie said breathily.

 

his eyes shot open and he could his skin heating for the red hot shame coursing through him. the tears were spilling and he turned to leave, to escape, and richie was standing there with bev clinging to his arm. it felt like someone reached down his throat and pulled his heart out. what a brutal reminder that richie preferred people like bev. women people.

 

even if sometime richie looked at him and eddie thought that he felt the same way. even if richie was constantly teasing him and calling him nice names. it was just messing. eddie should’ve known that richie could never like him. 

 

he was ruining everything.

 

he ran before nick could say anything and brushed past richie too. he needed to get out.

Chapter Text

 

eddie locked the door for the cubicle with shaky hands and tried to control his breathing. he looked at his contacts. he scrolled through them, frantically looking for bill’s name.

 

it rang four times before he picked up.

 

“bill, i’m an idiot,” were the first words out of his mouth.

 

laughter on the other end of the phone. “yeah, eddie, i already know that. what’s happened this time?”

 

“frank got me tickets to this comedy show in the city a few weeks ago and- i never got around to telling him,” that was an outright lie; he’d sat down with frank multiple times in the last month to tell him, but he could never get it out, “and now it’s too late to tell him. "

 

“eddie,” bill teased, “calm down.” 

 

“-and i’m literally standing in the bathroom of a comedy club that looks and smells like it’s never been cleaned since it was built- and i’m freaking out, bill. i haven’t seen him in seven years. this is not ideal,” eddie rushed out in a low murmur, mindful that there might be others in the bathroom.

 

“eddie? say it again but slower, i can’t understand you. is it that you didn’t want to go see the show he bought tickets for? that’s not a big deal, eddie.”

 

“it’s richie’s show , bill,” eddie replied frantically.

 

bill went quiet. 

 

“what do i do? i haven’t seen him in years and now i’m here, and he’s going to see me and i just can’t,” eddie moaned, putting his face in his hands.

 

“eddie-”

 

“eddie?” the door to the bathroom opened. eddie take the phone away from his ear and pressed the hang up button.

 

eddie flushed the toilet and opened the door. “frank?” he asked, “i thought you were going to wait for me in the lobby?” 

 

frank leaned against the counter of the sink as eddie washed his hands thoroughly and eddie internally grimaced. didn’t he know how many bacteria were lurking on that surface?

 

his boyfriend gave him a smile, “just came to tell you to hurry up because the guy is about to go on. you know how much i hate being late,” frank explained, leaning in and brushing his lips against eddie’s. eddie broke it by reaching for the paper towels on the wall.

 

he sighed and looked at the door handle that he’d have to touch to get back out of the bathroom, he might as well have not washed his hands at all. thankfully frank got to the door first, eager to get going, and eddie didn’t have to touch the door at all.

 

they sat at a table in the middle of the room because eddie thought wanting to sit at the back would make frank suspicious and no way was he sitting in the front.

 

someone came out to introduce the comedians. eddie wiped his palms on his jeans but fortunately richie was closing the show. it was all fine, eddie was having a good time, apart from the sense of impending doom.

 

“-and now, ladies and gents, please welcome to the stage richie tozier!” 

 

a tall, broad man with thick glasses and short, black curly hair stepped out onto the stage and eddie’s mouth dropped. in the seven years since they all left for college, most of them hadn’t changed that much. he only really kept in contact with bill and stan who’d gone to the same college as him, but he’d seen the other losers’ facebooks. from updates he saw every year or so of them, the only one who really changed drastically after high school was ben, who’d lost a lot of weight.

 

but richie, he’d apparently changed too. he used to have unruly black curls that not even patient stan could brush out in one sitting, and his glasses used to hang off his face, never sitting straight. richie had had a big mouth with soft red lips, and it never stopped moving, always getting him into trouble. but richie had grown up. he no longer looked like the same gangly, awkward teenager who annoyed eddie for sport their entire childhood.

 

it startled eddie that richie had grown into a man.

 

secretly, eddie had hoped richie would look the exact same just so he could keep him tucked away in the box in his mind labelled ‘things from derry’. if he looked the same eddie could pretend that he was over the loud, goofy boy he’d fallen for as a teenager, who’d never returned his feelings. 

 

he’d put so much work into getting over that richie, and now, he was going to have to do it all over again for this version of richie. because eddie was appalled to find out that he still found him attractive.

 

eddie squirmed and looked away from him. 

 

by the time it was almost over, eddie was pissed off. richie hadn’t even looked at eddie and for that he was thankful, at least, but the jokes richie was making were off. richie was witty, and intelligent, and loud. some jokes were just plain bad. everytime the audience laughed at one of those jokes, eddie’s mood got worse.

 

the richie in front of him was calculated and sarcastic, and kind of mean, if eddie was being honest. and then sometimes he made a joke that sounded so richie that eddie couldn’t help but laugh

 

“so… my girlfriend caught me masturbating to my friend’s facebook page.”

 

eddie wanted to roll his eyes, but frank was laughing with the rest of the room and he didn’t want frank to know why he wasn’t laughing.

 

eddie already knew this was going to be another non-richie joke.

 

“but in my defense, he’s really hot.”

 

“and she told me she wanted to break up, saying that ‘how could you cheat on me’ and ‘why the fuck didn’t you say you were gay, we’ve been going out for months’,” richie’s impressions had gotten better over the years but eddie somehow doubted that richie’s girlfriend’s voice was actually as whiny and nasal as he was making it out to be.

 

“and i told her, ‘but i said no homo’.”  

 

the audience laughed and eddie scowled. perhaps it was a richie joke after all. eddie knew how much richie liked to play into his sexuality and then turn around and call it a joke. 

 

it’s exactly what drove eddie to near insanity when they were teeenagers. and as if the torment of having your crush toy with him for years wasn’t enough, now he was making a living off of joking about it. he wanted to get out of there, he didn’t want to listen to this anymore.

 

with this as his resolve, eddie stood up.

 

he went to take one last look at richie after he looked up from collecting his jacket from the back of his chair but richie was looking in his direction and grinning. “someone can’t take a gay joke,” richie’s voice boomed from the speakers around him.

 

he could see richie squinting at him directly, brow furring behind his glasses, the light reflecting off his glasses almost blinding him, and he felt so angry. how could he not recognise him? they’d known each other their entire lives. eddie’s indignant anger surged within him.

 

the audience laughed.

 

and he spun on his foot and took off. he ignored it when frank called his name.

 

when he got out of the room, it wasn’t long before frank showed up.

 

fortunately for him, eddie could convince frank that he just didn’t like jokes like that, and his boyfriend had understood. but unfortunately, he hadn’t been able to wrangle the idea from frank that they should go check out the after party since frank knew someone involved. so somehow eddie had been coerced into attending.

 

eddie prepared himself for the possibility -or the inevitability- that he’d run into richie. 

 

he mentally steeled himself for the awkward interaction that would happen when richie didn’t recognise him. inwardly, eddie hoped that richie didn’t remember or approach him at all.

 

it was going alright for all of ten minutes before he caught sight of richie at the bar. frank had gone off to talk to his friend who’d performed that evening as well so eddie didn’t even have someone to talk to in order to avoid the asshole. so he just checked his emails and prayed that he looked too busy to interrupt.

 

thankfully frank wasn’t gone long. eddie leapt up from his stool when he saw his boyfriend, pecking him on the lips.

 

they heard someone clearing their throat.

 

the decorative bong on the bar clanged loudly and eddie jumped.

 

standing in front of him was richie. 

 

immediately frank launched into something along the lines of praise of his performance and eddie had to fight to keep his expression carefully blank. the awkwardness in the air was tangible and made eddie feel clammy. he hated feeling clammy. he gave richie a once over.

 

he didn’t seem outwardly hostile, nor friendly. eddie relaxed into frank’s side slightly, thinking that richie didn’t recognise him still. maybe he should start praying more often, he thought.

 

“hey frank, how’s it going,” richie asked hesitantly “any good chucks lately, eds?” 

 

eddie froze. his eyes widened and he scowled fiercely.

 

“richie.” he stated his name and it tasted weird on his tongue. he hadn’t said it on so long. he hadn’t even let him think it in so long. “don’t call me eds.”

 

frank chuckled and wrapped his arm around his waist. “only i call you that, eh, eds?”

 

eddie briefly considered dying on the spot because the flush on his cheeks was burning up his entire face but he couldn’t look away from richie’s eyes.

 

those eyes; they were the exact same as the last time he’d seen him. the exact shade of brown they were brought back painful memories of rejection, hope, and disappointment.

 

“how do you two know each other?” eddie asked richie accusingly.

 

“jealous, eddie-spaghetti?” richie asked and gave him a little twisted smirk but it didn’t reach his eyes.

 

frank made a noise mixed between a laugh and a strangled breath, “do you know each other?” he asked.

 

eddie broke away from his boyfriend and crossed his arms. he still didn’t look away from richie, their eye contact now acting as some sort of angry staring contest.

 

"fuck you, trashmouth.” richie glanced down momentarily, taking in eddie’s flustered face, and the competition ended. 

 

richie took a step back and put his hands in his pockets.

 

“i went out with his sister.”

 

frank laughed and added, “yeah, for like two weeks. like a year ago.” richie rolled his eyes playfully. “i didn’t know you two were- acquainted.” from frank’s tone, it sounded like he was implying something that eddie didn’t appreciate.

 

there was nothing between them. maybe there had been, but not anymore.

 

at least for eddie there had been. but he would make sure there never would be again.

 

“we were friends once, and drifted once we went to college-”

 

richie scoffed.

 

eddie raised an eyebrow at him.

 

“he was one of my best friends since i was a kid. until he decided he was too good for us and went off to harvard-”

 

eddie interrupted him, just as angry as he had been before suddenly, “-fuck you! you ditched us for new york.”

 

richie took his hands out of his pockets and they were clenched. frank shifted nervously on his feet.

 

“well, i’m going to get drinks.” frank ran his hand along eddie’s arm as he walked around him. eddie looked away from where he’d been staring at richie again and shivered. 

 

“rich?” frank asked.

 

“beer, thanks, man.”

 

once frank was gone, eddie asked viciously, “you think drinking a beer is going to make you straight?”

 

richie gave him a look.

 

eddie took notice that they’d slowly gravitated to a quieter part of the room with less people standing around.

 

“or do you always just say no homo?”

 

richie ignored the bait but eddie could see the tension fizzling under the surface.

 

“eds- i came out as bi a year ago-"

 

“good to see you’ve finally come out of the closet, after twenty five years of being a repressed homophobe,” eddie let out the barb that had been bubbling inside him all evening.

 

richie pushed his glasses up, "eds, you-"

 

eddie continued, “i was in love with you for years before i realised that all those times i thought you were flirting with me, you were just dealing with your own sexuality in your own fucked up way where you flirt with the only gay boy in town then shove your girlfriends in his face every chance you get. i'm happy now, with someone who cares about me and treats me well. so, fuck you rich.”

 

frank was back before richie responded, but he’d opened his mouth a while ago and he still hadn’t said anything. this new version of richie was much more subdued than the richie he knew.

 

the old richie wouldn’t hesitate to air out their problems in front of anyone, but this richie was snapping his mouth shut and looking away as soon as his boyfriend came within arms length of them.

 

frank passed richie a beer and a white russian to eddie, holding his own beer with the other and latching back onto eddie with the other. 

 

eddie found himself growing annoyed with the pda. usually frank wasn’t so affectionate in public but didn’t have the guts to push him away in front of richie. 

 

he wanted richie to think -no, to know- that eddie had found somebody.

 

to know that he had found someone who treated him right.

 

“so, what’re we talking about?” frank didn’t wait for a reply, quickly asking albeit with an odd tone, “hey, rich, was that story about your girlfriend true?” he sounded like a mix between teasing and knowing.

 

frank nudged richie’s arm a bit too hard and richie grimaced.

 

they had been looking at each other again, a soup of undissolved feelings still brewing in their heads. eddie caught the wince on richie’s face and shot a look at frank.

 

“uh-” richie licked his lips and looked away from eddie’s eyes, “absolutely not. eddie, i- it was good to see you, but i should go. have a good night.” he turned and left, his shoulders hunched and back muscles tense, as could be seen through his t-shirt.

 

eddie didn’t know why his heart started hurting.

 

allhe could see was richie tozier walking away from him again, except this time, he had done the hurting. 

 

he turned to his boyfriend.

 

“what was that?” eddie snapped, knowing his boyfriend would know what he was talking about. frank didn’t like touching people. and now, with the pda, and the nudging?

 

“just letting him know to get lost?” frank didn’t seem peeved by eddie’s concern.

 

“what?”

 

“he was into you, couldn’t stop staring at your mouth all night.” an electric shock went through his spine. frank continued, “and that story about his girlfriend is true. clara was fucking pissed when she caught him.”

 

eddie knew clara, frank’s older sister. she’d never mentioned the story of her boyfriend jacking off to someone’s facebook to him before though. but then again, they’d never been very close, she never seemed to like him much.

 

“asshole,” eddie mumbled, but he couldn’t stop thinking of what frank said. he told himself he didn’t care if richie was interested. he couldn’t put to rest the years of unfair stringing along if he hadn’t changed. and his behaviour so far suggested hadn’t.

 

“you’re not… jealous?” 

 

“of course not, i trust you. and i love you,” he said tenderly.

 

eddie felt his heart glow inside his chest. he compared the brilliant burning love he’d felt for richie with the gentle love that frank offered him. richie was unpredictable and consistently let him down. just when he thought he could be happy, he showed up to remind him that he was still the lonely gay boy too afraid to leave the unhealthy sources of love plaguing his life.

 

but here, standing beside him was a healthy love. a love he could learn to love even more.

 

eddie downed the last of his drink and smiled. it felt good to finally… understand the feelings surrounding richie tozier. 

 

he’d finally told richie off. and he was happy, he thought, with frank. they’d been going out for a year by now. and he was happy, even if he still hurts a little at the thought of hurting richie. he could love two people at the same time, even if it was in different ways. no one would be able to replace richie, but he needed to get over him.

 

he’d been handed this opportunity to put it to rest.

 

a weight lifted off his shoulders.

 

“frank, do- do you want to marry me?” eddie smiled at his boyfriend.

 

the other man face blossomed with two red patches on his cheeks, and he fumbled around for a short moment.

 

“uh-” he was reaching into his jacket for something and- eddie’s eyebrows rose into his hairline. a small box came out of his jacket. frank held it out tentatively.

 

“do you ?”

 

eddie grinned and pushed down any bad thoughts or feelings. he wanted to move on. he wanted to be happy.

 

“yes,” eddie said.

 

he put the small band around his ring finger and clenched his fist, liking the feel of it on his skin. the physical proof of someone wanting others to know that they love him. enough to spend the rest of their life with him. he felt tears prick the corners of his eyes and they made his vision blur.

 

he blinked them down onto his cheeks and reached up to kiss frank. he vaguely recognised people clapping and he stepped back, wiping his face.

 

he thought he caught a glimpse of someone behind frank’s shoulder with dark, thick glasses watching them but he brushed it off.

 

he looked down again at the ring and he smiled.

 





“hey bill, good news,” eddie smiled into the phone out on the fire escape of the building.

 

bill grunted, “eddie, i’m sleeping. i’m hanging up-”

 

“bill, wait! i’m getting married!”

 

eddie heard a thump on the other line and he called out bill’s name in concern.

 

he could hear bill let out a laugh from a distance away from the phone. “stan! wake up! stan, eddie and richie-”

 

“richie?! why would you think richie would- why -” eddie almost dropped his phone in shock, “what makes you think that?” eddie backtracked. “why is stan in your bed? bill?!”

 

“richie said that he saw you at the after party for his stand up,” bill stated like it was obvious. eddie blinked. since when had richie been talking to bill?  “and technically it was stan’s bed.”

 

“yeah? i saw him. he’s a fucking jerk. he was pulling the same shit he did when were we younger too, except he was quieter, like h-”

 

“i thought you two talked.”

 

“we did. since when do you talk to richie, anyway?”

 

“since… last year? when he showed up at our place one time late looking for you, but you were out with frank-”

 

“what the fuck? what are you talking about? why didn’t you fucking tell me, bill?” eddie panicked. why had richie been looking for him? was he just looking for an easy lay because eddie had never told him no? 

 

eddie felt a little satisfaction that he had finally told richie no. 

 

or was he looking for something else. maybe the apology eddie had been waiting years for?

 

bill paused. “i’m sorry, eddie,  but he told me not to say anything until he worked it out himself. and he- d-did he not tell you anything?

 

“worked what out himself?”

 

“he came out. he called up everyone to tell them, and he came to tell you that- uh- well, it’s not my place to say.”

 

“what?” eddie whispered. 

 

“he’s changed, eddie,” bill said softly. 

 

eddie’s hands were shaking. he felt like crumpling up the phone and throwing it away. just when he’d figured how to be happy, richie was there to ruin it. he thought back to what frank said about him being interested in him.

 

richie had changed? he’d come out to people, so what. how did eddie know he wouldn’t revert back to teasing him and abandoning him whenever he got his hopes up?

 

he’d believe it when he saw it. eddie would let himself love him again when richie showed him that he deserved it. he couldn’t go through that hell again.

 

he couldn’t let himself feel so alone. not again.

 

he shakily reached for his jacket pocket where he kept a spare emergency packet of anxiety meds.

 

“eddie?”

 

“i can’t do this bill. not again.”

 

he hung up.

 



“bill? are you awake?”

 

“richie! what happened?”

 

richie desperately tried to hold back the tears, “his boyfriend proposed.”

 

bill said nothing. he didn’t know what to say.

 

“he looked happy. will you… will you tell him that i’m happy for him?” richie’s voice wobbled and the tears broke free, “i’m afraid i won’t be able to attend, i’ve double booked with the other love of my life getting married that day.”

 

“richie, where are you? me and stan are on our way. don’t do anything stupid.”

 

“please,” he got out through shaky breaths, “i just want to be alone. please .”

 

bill heard the beep as richie hung up and threw his phone down on the bed angrily. “f-f-fuck!”

 

“come back to bed, bill. fucking up your sleep schedule won’t fix the years they wasted.” bill looked down at stan lying beside him, frustrations tears falling from his eyes. 

 

“i- i- just. wish-" bill started but stan reached up and wiped his tears away. 

 

“-i know. me, too,” stan replied sadly.

Chapter Text



eddie blushed. “richie, when you make jokes like that it makes me uncomfortable. because, ya’know.”

 

richie sat up suddenly, his face serious, “i… didn’t know you knew. about that.”

 

“that i’m gay?” eddie asked.

 

richie quickly continued, “no? that i, y’know...” he trailed off.

 

“what? i do not fucking know. i’m talking about you joking around all the time. what are you talking about?”

 

“what?”

 

eddie got flustered, “you know! when you’re always calling me cute and always cuddling up to me and… stuff.”

 

“what do you mean? that's me trying to flirt with you, shit for brains.”

 

“you’re flirting with me?”

 

“have been for the last, oh, i don’t know, ten years but thanks for fucking noticing, dick,” richie looked cross.

 

eddie’s smile grew.

 

“i’m sorry. whatever, i know we’re just friends,” richie sounded softer than eddie’d ever heard him before, “i’m sorry for making you uncomfortable, you know i would never,” he avoided looking at eddie, “do that on purpose, don’t you?” he rubbed behind his neck. “obviously you don’t feel the same way, i just thought… hoped, that you did. but i’ll stop.”

 

“you have feelings for me,” eddie’s heart swelled like the fucking grinch’s.

 

“obviously,” richie was too busy studying the underrated art of picking nails to notice eddie’s elation.

 

“wait, you’re gay? what about that time you made out with bev in front of everyone?”

 

richie glanced up, confused. “i like girls too. don’t worry,” a small grin made it’s way onto his face, “plus, i just wanted to piss ben off.”

 

“but bill is the one who got all pissy and jealous.”

 

richie’s brow furrowed. “no?” he shook his head, “bill was just pissed because he and stan had gotten into a fight. this was,” he let out a ‘whoosh’ of breath, “ages ago. right before bill came out, remember? stan was frustrated because he couldn’t tell his parents about them until bill came out-”

 

“bill and stan?!” eddie’s face screwed up in disgust, “what the fuck?” richie’s eyes widened and he started laughing.

 

“you didn’t know? please tell me you know about ben and bev!” richie laughed so hard he couldn’t breath.

 

eddie huffed and crossed his arms over his chest defensively. “as if i could not. i caught them doing it in the kitchen last week.” eddie shivered, “ disgusting. i had to disinfect the whole room.”

 

“what? jelly, eddie-spaghetti? you don’t have to be, you know i’m always ready, where ever you want it. all you need to do is ask," richie laugh stuttered to a halt. “sorry,” he sounded sheepish, “habit. i’ll stop now,” he raised his hands in surrender. 

 

he was looking at eddie’s face curiously now. “eds?” eddie was staring at him, mouth slightly agape and cheeks tomato red.

 

eddie snapped his mouth shut, “so, you mean it? you’re not just joking, then? or is this just you messing with me, rich? because i’ve spent years wishing you felt the same way as me and now you’re just messing around like-” he cut himself off. 

 

richie slowly grinned, “you feel a way about me? i thought you said we were just friends.”

 

eddie glared, “only because you always acted like we were just friends! and you said you felt a way about me first, fuck you very much.”

 

“i wasn’t joking.”

 

eddie leant forward on his elbows, “oh yeah? you’re ready for me right now, if i asked?” his words twisted into something acerbic.

 

richie didn’t seem to notice and made a pointed glance down at his lap and grinned, “maybe? you’re kind of hot when you’re pissed off.”

 

eddie blushed even harder.

 

“i- uh- i can’t.”

 

richie frowned, “what? i thought you said-”

 

“i kind of have a boyfriend?” he meant to be confident and sure of himself, but he couldn’t, not with richie sitting in front of him. richie, who felt the same way. eddie’s heart soared. he couldn’t stop thinking about it. he felt so full, like he was going to burst.

 

“what the fuck, eds?” richie sounded angry and eddie's smile faltered.

 

“i- i’m sorry. look- i was going to break up with him anyway,” richie just stared at him, his face betraying no emotion, “rich, just give me a few days then we can- i mean, if you want to…”

 

“want to what? be your second choice? just because you don’t want to hurt my feelings. wow,” richie rolled his eyes, “gee thanks, eds. i’m flattered.”

 

eddie didn’t know where to start, because richie sounded so genuinely upset and he shouldn’ be upset because they’d just figured out that they liked each other and eddie couldn’t have been any happier. it was so stupid. 

 

eddie wanted to laugh suddenly.

 

“this is so fucking dumb, richie. you-”

 

“you’re right, it is dumb. i’ve been in love with this small, annoying, hypochondriac for most of my life and when i confess my feelings, he tells me that he likes me too, he just doesn’t like me enough to not go out with other people!” richie’s voice grew louder the more he went on.

 

“richie, you’ve been out with people before, don’t act like i should’ve been a monk just because maybe the great richie-trashmouth-tozier might look in my direction!” now eddie was shouting back. his heart was pumping in his ears and he was close to tears, but richie just looked angry. angry and upset.

 

“sleeping around and going out with someone are completely different. i felt nothing for any of those people! you were going out with that guy for months!”

 

eddie rose from the table, “and i’m ready to drop him any day for you, rich! you fucking asshole!”

 

“and how do i know you won’t do the same thing to me?” eddie’s mouth feel open but no noise came out. the fight drained from him. he felt the words hit him like a truck.

 

“i wouldn’t do that to you, rich.”

 

“doesn’t matter, anyway. we would never work.” richie got up and took off, not looking back.

 

eddie could have pinpointed the exact moment his heart shattered. he at least waited until richie had left the kitchen before he broke down into big. ugly sobs. how could it have gone so bad? he’d imagined the day that he would tell richie how he felt, but he’d never imagined this.

 

it wouldn’t have mattered anyway. nothing could have prepared him for the gut-wrenching regret tearing him apart. 


 

 

“what’s the matter, eds, you’ve been quiet for days.”

 

eddie brushed him off, “i’m just struggling with intro to analytics.” eddie wished it was that simple. in truth, he was struggling in that class, but that was definitely not the reason he was quiet.

 

his boyfriend massaged him shoulders trying to be comforting, probably, but eddie had never felt so disconnected from anyone. it should not be these hands touching him, making him feel better, comforting him after a bad day, he thought.

 

but the hands he wanted had decided they didn’t want him. what else could he do?

 


 

 

richie fell into bed on top of the woman he’d brought home. he’d known eddie wasn’t there already, so he didn’t know why he couldn’t stop thinking about him. everytime she touched him, he thought of eddie. eddie’s eyes, eddie’s hand, eddie’s skin, his hair-

 

richie shook his head, trying to dispel the thoughts.

 

because of this action, his glasses fell off his face onto hers and she yelped, “ouch!”

 

he apologised and put them on the beside drawer, but the box of glasses wipes was sitting there and eddie had bought them for him because his glasses were always dirty. it was a small gesture that he oddly couldn’t get over and he hadn’t realised he’d gone still until the woman was grabbing his glasses out of his hand and carelessly knocking over the box in her haste to put them down.

 

richie flinched away from the sound of the small box hitting the ground.

 

he closed his eyes before kissing her again, desperately thinking, is this what kissing eddie would feel like?

 

he knew it wasn't. kissing eddie would be the best thing ever, he knew, purely because he wants it so much.

 

he hated thinking like that though so he tried to keep eddie out of his thoughts after that.

 

only when he gasps out, “eddie,” as he comes does he realise that he is not doing as good a job as he thought.

 

“the fuck did you just say?”

 

he didn’t even care when she stormed out of the apartment.

 

he was looking at the box of glasses wipes again. he picked them up and carefully put them back onto his drawer, where they belonged.




Chapter Text

“we’re going to need pencils,” eddie stated, charging down on isle in the local supermarket, “at least two hbs, because we always lose one in the first few weeks, then probably a two b each, and bill- i know you like to draw with something a little heavier- but i don’t know if they do anything higher than a three b here.”

 

the losers were looking at eddie ramble on. they all wore a similar faces of exasperated amusement as eddie examined various pencils and once deemed acceptable, were placed carefully into the basket beverly was carrying. 

 

“eddie-o-spaghetti-o, never change, my silly little man,” richie said loudly, clutching at his chest with a wide grin on his face.

 

eddie looked up from the pencils and a blush crept up his neck and onto his cheeks.

 

“i’m not your-man anything,” eddie rebuked, his arms crossed, “and i’m not little! i’m average height!” he straightened up as if to prove his height.

 

stan started walking down the aisle. “notebooks?” he asked ben, determined to ignore the display his friends were putting on in the stationary isle.

 

richie came up behind him and enveloped him, reaching around to pinch his cheeks, “aw! my wittle silly baby!”

 

“tell me why i’m friends with you again?” he grumbled.

 

eddie wrestled him off and turned away from richie and followed stan. the others had already gone off to follow stan too and were pointing out different notebooks as ben animatedly made gestures while holding different notebooks. 

 

he couldn’t hear what was being said at the other end of the isle but eddie could only guess that ben was telling them the pros and cons of each brand of notebook.

 

eddie looked back at richie a few feet away when he didn’t follow. instead he was looking at eddie with a shit-eating grin. “what was that, eds?”

 

i said, ” he stressed, “tell me why -”

 

eddie cut off, knowing too late where this was going.

 

“- tell me why! ain’t nothing but a heartache! tell me why !” richie voice carried down the length of the store. eddie froze in horror. 

 

“richie! there are other people shopping!-”

 

ain’t nothing but a mistake !” eddie backed away from the spectacle richie was making. 

 

richie reached out for eddie but the shorter boy turned quickly and walked away from him.

 

tell me why! i never wanna hear you say, i want it that way !” richie yelled down the aisle at him. 

 

“you can put them in a folder, though.”

 

“you can do that without putting big ugly springs through them.”

 

“but then they don’t rip properly!”

 

“yeah, actually, i have to say- they don’t rip as nicely,” bill added. 

 

stan threw his hands up, “see?!”

 

ben grumbled but put the notebook back on the shelf.

 

eddie’s face was glowing red when he caught up to them.

 

“hey, ed- we’re getting spiral notebooks,” stan commented.

 

“i hate him,” eddie stomped his foot, aware that it made him look like a petulant child but not caring.

 

stan’s deadpan was not the sympathy he’d been looking for and he glanced searchingly at the others’ faces too but they all looked equally apathetic to his anger.

 

“eds!” richie jogged up to them and threw an arm around eddie’s shoulders.

 

eddie huffed but didn’t shrug off the offending arm this time. he didn’t grace richie with any acknowledgement though.

 

“what’s next on the list?”

 

“i need a new bag because it stinks of someone’s ,” eddie glared at richie, “stinky fucking socks now.”

 

“why were you keeping his socks in your bag?” ben asked innocently but regretted it as soon as he asked because eddie exploded into another fit of rage.

 

“i wasn’t!” he yelled defensively, disgusted at even the thought, “he stole my bag to do a sack race with bev the other day!”

 

“well i couldn’t use mine, could i? it’s too small and i couldn’t just let her have an advantage!”

 

eddie shoved him, his face wrinkled in revulsion.

 

“well? who won?!” 

 

richie clamped a hand over bev’s mouth. “it’s not about who wins, benny boy! it’s-” 

 

eddie knocked him off her with a small kick to the back of his knee. 

 

bev took a mock gulp of air like he’d been suffocating her.

 

stan clapped his hands in front of his laughing friends as he grabbed the basket out of bev’s precarious grip, “can we please just focus? where are the bags?”



...





the losers were gathered in eddie’s living room sorting out which board game they wanted to bring out to the barrens to put in the clubhouse.

 

“eddie-bear, there’s a boy on the phone for you!” 

 

richie dropped his enthusiastic demand for Risk as eddie stood up. he watched the other boy leave the living room silently.

 

the room exploded into a chorus of jeers and even bill was making kissy faces at him from the sofa.

 

stan and richie were the only ones not participating in the childish taunts.

 

“so, cluedo?”

 

without richie’s complaints, they agreed on cluedo without much debate.

 

“i’m gonna go kiss mrs k goodbye.” richie winked at ben and left the room, too.

 

they watched richie follow eddie into the hall.

 

silence fell over the inhabitants of the kasprak living room as they waited with bated breath. they looked around at each other in anticipation.

 

they were not disappointed; a frustrated scream interrupted the silence after a few seconds and they heard a shriek of, “ richie !”

 

the losers laughed.

 

eddie stormed into the living room. they were still chuckling to themselves as he paced the room, cursing under his breath and hair in disarray.

 

richie strolled into the room behind him with a subdued smile on his face and hands in his pockets. 

 

“whoops! sorry, ol’ matey, didn’t realise you were on the telephone,” richie explained. 

 

the losers gave him unimpressed looks. he shrugged and sat back down.

 

eddie lunged for his friend from behind the sofa where he stood -and could easily reach richie’s neck for once- and wrapped his arms around the other boys’ neck. bill inched away from them and opened his phone, ignoring their fighting, knowing they wouldn’t hurt each other.

 

eddie’s chokehold held against richie’s defensive clawing and eddie yelled, “fuck you!” in triumph.

 

richie started gasping and clutching at his arn, and eddie let go momentarily, fearing he’d actually hurt him. richie leant back and grabbed the smaller boy by the torso and pulled him forward. eddie fell face first over the back of the sofa yelling the entire way. he toppled and fell onto the ground in front of them and huffed.

 

“fuck you, trashmouth.”

 

“aw,” richie cooed, “you don’t mean that eddie. shucks, you’re gonna make me blush!” richie reached down to pinch his cheeks but eddie jumped away from him. 

 

eddie re-tucked his shirt desperately trying to unwrinkle it and tried to smooth out his hair, a flustered expression smeared across his face. 

 

bill looked up from his phone and smiled serenely, “are we ready to go?”



meanwhile



stanley: i’m so sick of watching them do this. let’s just tell them?

 

bill: fine. i’m sick of this too.

 

ben: ‘richie, eddie. this is an intervention. please just kiss already. the sexual tension is killing us. -sincerely, your friends’ 

 

beverly: good enough for me. any objections?

 

mike: sounds good. who’s going to do it?

 

ben: not me

 

stanley: not me

 

bill: not me

 

beverly: not me

 

mike: not me

 

mike: fuck you guys, it was stan’s idea

 

mike: fine, i’ll do it.

 

 

they’d been riding along on their bikes in the barrens when eddie’s front wheel caught something and his foot slipped off the pedal into the gears before he flew over the handlebars.

 

eddie screamed so loud he hurt his own ears as his foot twisted the wrong way and his body hurtled face first into the ground.

 

richie was only a bit ahead of him and he came skidding to a halt when he heard eddie’s scream. he jumped off his bike and dumped it.

 

he dropped to the ground beside eddie and lifted the bike up off his legs only for eddie to start whimpering.

 

“fuck, richie! that hurts! i’ve fucked my ankle,” eddie heard his own voice come out panicked and short of breath.

 

“eds! twist your foot to the left, i’m going to pull it out, okay?”

 

“i can’t it’s too hard,” he cried. his ankle and foot had erupted in scalding hot pain the second he went over and it was even worse when richie started shifting his foot slightly.

 

“that’s what your mom said last night-” 

 

eddie groaned out, “nevermind, just leave me here. that joke was worse than my ankle.”

 

“eds gets in a good one!” richie knelt to position himself between eddie’s leg and the bike. “twist your foot now.” richie lifted eddie’s leg and slid the bike across the forest floor away from them, freeing eddie’s foot.

 

richie stood with difficulty, lumbering eddie’s weight up too so eddie could stand on one leg.

 

they stood looking eddie’s ankle that was already bruising with deep purples and reds.

 

“can you walk?”

 

“can you fuck off? of course i can’t walk, dickshit,” eddie replied, gingerly leaning against richie.

 

richie put an arm across his shoulders and helped him hop over to a rock where they could sit. he knelt down in front of eddie and snickered. 

 

eddie snapped out of it from where he’d been staring at richie as the other boy so tenderly unlaced his shoes, frantically looking down at his ankle for the source of hilarity. “what?” 

 

richie looked up from where he was almost level with eddie’s knees and grinned, “how many dirty dreams have you had that started out like this,” richie teased, leaning back and resting a hand on each other eddie’s knees.

 

eddie gaped.

 

“w-what-” eddie stammered, “fuck you!” he could feel the blush creeping down his neck from the sheer embarrassment and the thudding of his heart in his chest, but he was convinced it was because of the adrenaline of the fall. “you’re such a trashmouth.” 

 

richie chuckled and thankfully didn’t continue with that line of questioning and went back to his foot. he gently untied the shoe and tossed it to the side. his socks that usually came up past his ankles were pushed down from the tumble he took and richie carefully pulled it down his foot.

 

“wow, eds, your feet smell worse than your mom’s vag-”

 

richie ,” eddie said in warning.

 

eddie ,” richie mimicked in high pitched voice.

 

“nobody’s forcing you to be down there,” eddie reminded him, inadvertently offering richie an excuse to stop touching him. he snapped, “and my voice doesn’t sound like that.”

 

“jeepers creepers,” richie grimaced, taking in eddie’s mangled ankle. it was covered in a smattering of angry colours.

 

“you should ride on my bike while i take you home,” richie suggested, putting the sock back on. eddie hissed, gripping richie’s shoulder. richie’s head shot up at him, eyes wide and a weird expression on his face.

 

“my mom will throw a fit and never let me out again, bring me to bill’s instead.”

 

the expression was gone as soon as it appeared and eddie stored in his mind to examine later. 

 

“you can come to mine, i’ll look after you tonight.” eddie felt his mouth go dry at the implication. his clothes felt too hot all of a sudden so he pushed richie away and let the boy fall gracelessly onto his ass to do up his own laces.

 

he tried to hold back the wince because it was a matter of pride.

 

“can’t,” he said plainly, “my mom doesn’t like you. she says you’re a,” he lifted his hands to make air quotes, “dirty boy, and you’ll infect me. she’ll call mrs denbrough to make sure i’m actually where i say i am too. crazy woman.”

 

richie kind of knew why he couldn’t go to his house, so he didn’t know why it hurt to hear that eddie’s mother didn’t like him. he hated her, why did he even care?

 

“rich?”

 

richie dusted himself off and stood, offering a hand to eddie again. “all aboard! it’s the eddie-express!” eddie laughed through the pain of standing up because richie’s tom hanks voice was almost good.

 

“tickets, please! tickets!” eddie groaned and limped over to richie’s bike.

 

richie left him to stand on one leg so he could get his bike up off the ground. 

 

“sorry, young man, you’re too short to ride this ride,” richie made what was probably supposed to be a rendition of a seductive face but it just made eddie laugh.

 

“c’mon, i’ll come back for your bike later. it’s a piece of shit, anyway.”

 

“it is not!” eddie said through the laughter and whimpers as he climbed onto the back of richie’s bike.

 

richie put eddie’s and around his waist as he took off. “it totally fucking is,” he said over his back.

 

it wasn’t long before the arrived on bill’s street, coming to a stop on his front steps.

 

eddie hopped off and stood awkward on one foot again as richie put the bike down, out of the way of the driveway. richie put his arm around eddie’s torso and hugged him to his own body, helping him get up the steps and into the house. he had stopped knocking years ago so he just let himself in without much trouble from eddie who has handling the whole one-leg hop well.

 

richie was still jabbering on about some comic he’d read earlier when they came across bill sitting with stan and mike in the living room.

 

“uh- hey, guys! what happened, eddie?” bill asked in concern, jumping to help his friend sit down. stan look a bit peeved when eddie settled in bill’s seat beside him, and even more so when richie squeezed himself in between them.

 

“he fell off his bike ‘cause he was too busy staring at my ass,” richie explained.

 

eddie guffawed. “that is not why i fell, my wheel caught a branch or something. no one wants to look at your flat ass, trashmouth.”

 

richie’s mouth fell open in mock outrage. “my ass is not flat! i’ll have you know your mother finds my ass to be very round and-”

 

the others groaned loudly.

 

stan and bill gave mike a pointed look.

 

eddie grabbed richie’s glasses and started cleaning them on his shirt while richie rested his hand on eddie’s calf,  having lifted eddie’s leg so that it was across his own and his ankle was elevated.

 

stan looked at them and his eyes bugged. bill and mike looked to be in similar states.

 

“mike? weren’t you going to say something?” bill asked, urgency in his voice.

 

mike cleared his throat.

 

eddie looked over at him, absentmindedly placing richie’s glasses back on his face as the other boy squinted in mike’s general direction.

 

“so…” mike started.

 

“you see…” bill continued but trailed off as well, not knowing the words.

 

stan rolled him eyes at them. 

 

mike coughed and said, “the losers have… unanimously decided that you two need to kiss... because the sexual tension is disgusting, frankly, and we’d rather not have to bear witness to your verbal foreplay all day long, anymore.”

 

they looked at richie, then eddie. 

 

richie barked a laugh, “good one! yowza.” 

 

the three of them frowned at him. his laughter quickly died down. 

 

“wait, you’re serious?”

 

they nodded vigorously.

 

he turned to eddie who was beet red and had retracted his leg from richie’s lap. 

 

“this is painful to watch. just kiss already!” stan stood and shouted unexpectedly. he gestured between them vehemently.

 

mike nodded and bill cringed a little from stan’s imprudence.

 

richie rubbed the back of his neck and turned to eddie, facing him fully. “i mean, do you…”

 

eddie nodded insistently, “yes,” he bit his lip, “do you-?”

 

richie grinned, “yeah, i mean, you’re- really cute.” he pinched his cheek so softly. “cute, cute, cute.” 

 

eddie flushed and leant into the touch, his heart beating wildly and his skin on fire. he forgot about his friends sitting across from them and leaned in closer to richie. 

 

richie bent his neck and caught eddie’s face in his hands and their lips met, and eddie’s brain overloaded. the smell of richie, and the feel of the slight stubble against his face, and the feel of his knees brushing against richie’s jeans, so softly. it was too much.

 

it was soft, like the hand that grazed his chin and tilted his head up. 

 

he stole a breath and leant back in for more when a loud sound interrupted them. his eyes flew open and he turned so quickly, he got himself in the eye with richie’s glasses.

 

mike looked sheepish as the sound of his phone camera went off again.

 

stan was making exaggerated retching noises and bill looked extremely uncomfortable, facing away but still catching his eye awkwardly and like he was trying to ignore them but didn’t know where else to look. all five of them wore different shades of flushed cheeks, for different reasons.

 

“what the fuck, are you making porn out of us? you should've asked first, we could’ve given a better performance!”

 

eddie turned to richie in offence, “fuck you-”

 

“maybe later, sweetums,” richie winked and gave a loud, wet kiss to eddie’s lips.

 

“better performance, my ass,” eddie grumbled but the smile didn’t leave his face.

 

mike shrugged. “proof for ben and beverly.”

 

“maybe now you’ll stop flirting in front of us,” stan complained and sat down by bill’s feet, going back to watching tv.

 

“oh no, staniel, i’m flirting extra hard from now one, just to spite you.”

 

“you should thank me, i got you a boyfriend.”

 

richie and eddie glanced at each other and before they could get awkward, richie reached out and grabbed eddie’s hand. eddie smiled at him, gripping his fingers.

 

“thanks, stan,” he said simply.

 

“thanks, stan,” richie chorused in an overly-sweet tone, not looking away from eddie’s eyes.

 

“yeah, yeah, whatever,” stan replied, but he glanced over at them and gave a little smile when he saw them looking at each other.