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Third Time's the Charm

Chapter Text

When we get out of here...

Richie knew when he saw the doors that he had been the world's biggest idiot. For his whole damn life. And sure, maybe he had expected that once or twice, especially in his twenties, but it hit him like a brick when he opened that door and flicked on that little closet light.

Of course the one labelled "very scary" was a fucking closet.

Your dirty little secret.

And Eddie . . . Eddie was beside him. Seeing the legs-sans-everything-else dance toward them was not the scariest part of that door, and of course It knew that. It was fucking with him, but in a way that had him turning red. A way that had a familiar feeling of shame and dread wash over him, panic clogging his throat.

Afterwards, as they ran, he thought, I'm going to fix it. When we get out of here. That's what this was all about, right? Facing your fears. Not letting trauma define your life. Something like that, anyways.

He had been wasting his adult years. It all became clear when he came back to this town, when Eddie fucking Spaghetti Kaspbrak sat down next to him in that Chinese restaurant and they immediately fell into their old ways.

When he'd moved away, when he'd forgotten Eddie, he'd forgotten how to be brave, too. He tried dating girls, and when that didn't work, he'd had a few one-night stands with guys he didn't give a shit about and just made him feel worse. Lately, he hadn't even been able to bring himself to do even that, and would spend his nights alone, drinking, writing material that he would never even show his agent.

I need to tell him, Richie thought, almost desperately. When we get out of here.

But then it was too late.

As Eddie lay there, the light fading from his eyes and the blood pulsing from his limp form, Richie sobbed over him. "I love you," he whispered into Eddie's ear, long past the point that his confession would be heard. "I fucking love you."

He was the biggest idiot in the goddamn world.

#

There were voices, yelling, calling for an ambulance. Everything was hot and too cold and pain, oh dear god, the pain.

It was easy to slip back into the dark.

Then, bright lights. More yelling. Too loud. He was put on a bed, and he felt relief. Maybe now they would let him rest, turn off the lights . . .

But then the bed was moving. Like it was on wheels.

"—stab wound, severe puncture going all the way through, could have a collapsed lung."

The lights above him whizzed by and he understood. It must be the Deadlights.

But, wait. What was that? The Deadlights? He shook his head, tried to speak, couldn't.

"—Going into shock, somebody—"

A mask was lifted over his face and he tried to swat it away. Hands gripped his wrists and held them down and he writhed on the bed. He had to get away, get out of the Deadlights.

But then the darkness carried him away again, and it was all too easy to let it do so. He was so tired.

So tired.

I love you. I fucking love you.

#

When he opened his eyes again, he was in a bright room, but it was sunlight pouring in through the window beside him. He was lying down in a cot with an uncomfortable blanket. Everything smelled sterile, and he found that oddly comforting and disturbing at the same time.

Hospital. The word floated to the top of his mind like debris in a storm drain. He was in a hospital.

Someone was sitting beside him, in a chair. The man was asleep, slumped over so his chin was resting on his own chest, and his glasses, with thick dark frames, were sliding down his nose.

He wanted to reach over and push them back up, but when he tried to lift his arm, his whole body was wracked with pain. He hissed in a deep breath and looked down at his bandaged chest. What . . . what happened to him?

Wait. Who . . . was he?

Holy shit. He couldn't remember his name.

"Oh my fucking god," he whispered, his breathing coming out in painful tight pants. His hand fluttered to his chest. "Wh-who the fuck am I? What am I doing here? Hello?"

The last word he tried to holler, but found his voice was too hoarse and he tried to keep from coughing. As it was, the supressed coughs were agony, and only added to the panic rising in his throat.

The man in the chair started, his head shooting up.

"Eddie!" he exclaimed. He was at his side in milliseconds, grasping his hand . . .

"Eddie, oh my god, oh my fucking god, you're awake, you're alive," said the man. The panic quelled a tiny bit as tears filled the man's eyes. Eddie . . . ? Was that his name? It sounded like it could be right. But then who was this? He couldn't find a name to match the man's face, but . . .

His smell was familiar. The cologne, the sweat underneath it, the shampoo in his hair. He looked down at where their hands intertwined and he remembered the barest sliver of a voice in the dark.

I love you.

"What's happening? Why am I in a hospital?" he asked the man. "Why can't I remember anything? My name . . . I can't remember my own name."

His hands were trembling. The man with the glasses grabbed his other hands too to stop the shaking. He nodded down at him even as tears streaked his cheeks and his face twisted as he tried to keep from sobbing.

"The—the doctor's say you have amnesia. It's temporary, so don't worry, but it can be scary. You were . . . were in a really bad accident. But you came out of your coma fairly quickly so the damage shouldn't be too long-lasting."

The man released one of his hands so he could swipe the tears from his eyes and run a hand over his snotty nose.

"Ugh, gross," the man—Eddie?—said, grimacing.

The other man laughed, but halfway out it turned into a sob and he hunched over, shoulders shaking. Eddie found himself wanting to comfort him, but he didn't even know his name . . . But he must have, before. This was clearly someone very special to him.

"Sorry," the man said. "I know you don't need this right now, I just . . ." He let out a deep breath. "Your name is Eddie. Eddie K-Kaspbrak. You're a risk assessor, you live in New York and—"

He trailed off again in a choked, hiccuping kind of sob. Eddie squeezed his hand, not knowing what to say. Somehow, knowing that it was temporary amnesia made him feel a lot better. The other man squeezed back, and smiled, but it was a complicated smile. It looked like it hurt.

"You . . ." said Eddie, taking a stab at who the man must be. "Are you my . . . boyfriend?"

The man froze, then scoffed, looking at him with saucer-wide eyes.

"No . . . ?" Eddie guessed again. He would have shrugged if everything didn't hurt. Guess this guy wasn't who said he loved him. "Sorry, I just thought, maybe . . ."

The other man clearly wasn't listening. He was looking off into the middle-distance like he was having an out-of-body experience.

". . . No," he said slowly, finally, turning his gaze back on Eddie, though he still had a weird look in his eyes. "I'm Richie. We, uh, we were childhood best friends."

Oh. Well maybe it was still him, then. Friends loved each other, too. Especially best friends.

"Richie," Eddie said, testing it out. Yes, that fit the guy. The name sounded comforting, cozy, familiar. Someone he could hang out with. Richie.

"Were you there with me?" he asked, still trying to puzzle it together.

". . . Yes."

"What, uh, what happened?"

Richie's lower lip trembled before he pursed them and looked away. Eddie immediately regretted asking. He was about to tell him to never mind, he didn't really want to know anyways, but Richie managed to bite out an answer.

"You almost died," he said. It was barely more than a whisper. "You were . . . imp-impaled. God," he laughed, "I sound like Bill."

"I was impaled?" Eddie asked, horrified. "By what?"

Richie hesitated. "Um. Okay, so we were in this abandoned house and . . . it collapsed?"

Eddie frowned. "Why are you saying that like it's a question?"

Richie made a scrunchy sort of face. "Uh . . . no reason. I just . . ." He pursed his lips again. "I don't like to remember."

Eddie swallowed. Wow, he felt like a dick. "Sorry," he said.

Richie laughed again. "What the fuck? No. You don't need to be sorry, man. I'm just . . . I'm so fucking glad you're alive."

"Hey, I'm glad I'm alive too."

They grinned at each other, and Eddie found his own eyes welling up for some reason. He let his head sink back into the awful hospital-grade pillows and shut them, still smiling. He rubbed his thumb in circles around one of Richie's knuckles.

"Eds?"

Eddie hummed. "Ugh, don't call me that," he said. There was a long pause. "I'm just tired," he added. "Don't worry."

"Okay," came the choked reply.

"It's okay," Eddie murmured, trying to hold onto consciousness just a little bit longer. "I'm okay."

The last thing he was aware of before he succumbed to sleep again was Richie running a hand through his hair and whispering something that Eddie could almost, but not quite, make out.

Chapter Text

Richie stayed at Eddie's bedside for as long as the doctors and nurses would let him, and came back in the second they allowed him to again. The others made their own visits as well, especially once they'd heard that he'd woken up and Richie had spoken with him. So the next time that Eddie woke, Mike and Bill were both in there too. The three of them had been discussing Mike's plans to move to Florida when Eddie opened his eyes and looked around and started breathing hard.

"Who are you? Where am I?" His eyes widened. "Oh my god. Who am I?"

All three of them moved at once, Richie grabbing Eddie's hand. Bill, he noted with detached interest, grabbed Mike's shoulder.

"It's okay," Richie said soothingly. "You have amnesia. It's temporary, but it's normal to feel a little scared."

Eddie seemed to immediately latch on to Richie. He sucked in a few deep breaths. "Okay," he said. Then again. "Okay."

"Your name is Eddie Kaspbrak," Richie continued. "You were in an accident. You were briefly in a coma, which is why you're experiencing, er—"

"Post-Traumatic Amnesia," Mike supplied.

"Right. That. It shouldn't last longer than a few days. The doctor said so."

Eddie was nodding slowly. He looked between the three of them, brow furrowed like he was trying to remember them. He looked down at Richie's and his hands and back to Richie's face.

"Are you my boyfriend or something?" he asked.

Richie stared at him, then turned his face to look at Mike, then Bill. They looked just as dumbfounded. Although, actually, Bill looked kind of amused. Fucker.

Richie smiled to himself, then shook his head. "No, buddy. I'm—we—are you childhood friends." He pointed to the other two in turn and then himself. "Mike, Bill, Richie."

"Mike, Bill, Richie . . ." Eddie repeated. He didn't even look embarassed.

"W-what made you think he was your b-boyfriend?" Bill asked. Mike swatted his arm while Richie just shot him a dirty look.

Eddie blinked. "I mean, I don't know. He's holding my hand, for one thing."

"Oh," Richie said. Of course. God, what an idiot. He let go of Eddie's hand and made to pull away. "Sorry."

"No!" Eddie snapped and snatched his hand back. "That's okay, it was my bad."

God, this was weird. It was like he was himself and not himself at the same time. Not that Richie was complaining. Eddie wasn't dead, he was okay with them holding hands and . . . for some reason, he kept assuming they were partners.

"Okay, but are you two . . .?" Eddie asked Mike and Bill, gesturing vaguely between them.

They shared a glance, smiling awkwardly. "Uh, no," Mike said. But he'd hesitated. They both had. Richie couldn't help but feel a little shocked. Had he not been the only queer one this whole fucking time?

Later, he told himself. He could freak out about that later. There were more important things at hand.

Eddie squeezed his eyes shut, smiling sheepishly. "God, okay. Sorry. I'm just gonna stop making assumptions forever now."

Mike smirked and turned away, pulling out his phone.

"Are you seriously fucking texting right now?" Richie asked him. "Eddie's just come to after nearly dying and you're what, checking your Tinder? 'Hot clowns in your area looking to suck dick'?"

"Beep beep," Bill said, and at the same time, Eddie muttered, "Trashmouth."

They all turned to look at him with wide eyes. Richie couldn't help but beam at him.

"What did you say?"

Eddie made a face at them. "What? I just called you a trashmouth. Is that . . .?"

And then, for reasons he couldn't even explain, Richie's face crumpled, and he was crying again.

"Oh, no, Richie," Bill said, rubbing his back. "It's okay, man."

"I know it's okay!" Richie tried to snap, but it was hard when he was weeping like a teenage girl going through her first break-up. "That's why I'm crying, asshole."

Bill didn't stop rubbing his back, though, and Eddie kept squeezing his hand, and soon he was able to compose himself again.

"Are you sure you're not my boyfriend?" Eddie quipped, and Richie laughed.

"You fuckin' wish," he retorted, but again, he lacked his usual scathing tone.

That was when Bev and Ben burst into the room.

Ah, that's who Mike must have been texting, he thought as they rushed over to Eddie. Bev was grinning like a madwoman and Ben had a hand clapped over his mouth like he was gonna cry too.

"We thought we'd lost you," Bev said.

Eddie tried to smile for them and Richie chuckled. "Bev," he said, pointing, "and Ben."

"Right. More . . . friends?" he asked.

Bev nodded. "Of course. Eddie . . . it's so good to see you awake and smiling." Ben slung his arm around her waist and Eddie's eyes narrowed like he was trying not to jump to any more conclusions and failing.

"How you feeling?" Ben asked.

"Like shit. What kind of question is that?" Eddie asked. "What even happened to me? Was it a car accident?"

"An old house fell apart while you were inside it," Mike said. He'd had the answer ready to go before the rest of them could even think. "Plywood got you in the face and chest. We thought you were a goner, but they dragged you out an hour or so later."

Ben had been at the top of Eddie's speed dial list, so he had gotten the call while the rest of them were drying off from their dip in the quarry. He'd almost dropped his phone. Richie remembered Ben looking at him first and smiling like he'd just won a contest for architect of the year or some shit, and Richie had said, "Dude, what the fuck is it? Share with the rest of the group."

And Ben had just said, "Richie, Eddie's alive."

When we get out of here.

That was Richie had started running for the car.

"A house fell on me?" Eddie repeated, snapping Richie out of his thoughts. "How the fuck . . . was there an earthquake or something?"

"Or something," Bill muttered.

"Why was I in a dilapidated house?"

"It's a long story," Mike said. "One that we should probably tell you when you're a little better."

"Ugh, I hate this," Eddie said. "At least tell me who you people are."

They all shared glances. Eddie frowned.

"Uh, hello?"

"I'll go get the doctor," Bev said, and left the room.

They'd all been given the same explanation. Eddie's long-term memory had been severely impacted, both the by the accident itself and the prolonged loss of consciousness. He would recover, but for the first few days his memory and even his personality might make him lash out or panic, and they would likely have to keep answering the same questions over and over again, and to just be patient with him.

"We're your friends," Ben said. "We were there when you got in an accident. You're in the hospital, now."

Good man Ben, stepping up to the plate.

"Your name is Eddie Kaspbrak," Richie added. "You're a risk assessor from New York." And then, just to keep from having to confirm that he wasn't his boyfriend for the third time that day, Richie added, "You have a wife named Myra—"

Eddie cut him off. "Wait, who are you then?"

This was going to kill him. "God, what the fuck," he muttered.

"What?"

Richie let out a sigh, turning his face to look up at Bill. "I can't keep doing this, man."

"Okay," Bill said. "It's all good, don't—"

"I have a wife?" Eddie asked, and Richie got to his feet.

"I need some air," he stated, almost robotically, and fled from the room just in time to bump into the doctor, with Bev trailing after.

"Richie!" called Bill.

And, quieter, Eddie: "What did I say?"

Richie started to run.

Even as he ran, he couldn't believe what he was doing. Eddie was back in that room, helpless and lost without his memories of his own fucking name, and alive, and Richie was running away?

He didn't even realize that Bev had run after him until she was right beside him, grabbing him by the arm. He brushed her off before registering who she was, but she just raised both her hands in surrender and waited. He was breathing too hard, too fast, his heart feeling like it was going to explode any goddamn second—

"Come on, let's go for a walk," Bev said, and headed for the exit, looking back over her shoulder to see if he was following.

So he did.

He burst out of the hospital doors into the cool evening air and fading sunlight, and he sucked in long, even breaths, hands braced on his knees and Bev watched him finish freaking out.

"He keeps thinking I'm his fucking boyfriend, Bev."

She said nothing. He wondered if they had put it all together yet. The way he'd held Eddie. The way he'd begged them to help drag his body to the surface and started doing it himself when they wouldn't. In the end, they'd given in and taken turns dragging Eddie and pushing Richie. They'd made it to the cellar of the house when they lost Eddie's limp, unconscious body somewhere. And everything started coming down around their heads.

He wondered if he needed to say it out loud for Beverly's benefit, before realizing he needed to say it for his own. Just so that it could finally be said and he could move on with his fucking life and come to grips with his identity.

"I'm gay," he said. "And I've been in love with Eddie Kaspbrak for over twenty years. And he almost fucking died, Bev. He almost died and I couldn't stop it, and now he doesn't remember my name or his but he thinks that we're together. And I have to keep telling him we're not."

"Shh," Bev was saying. She was beside him, and when had he fallen to his knees? Her hand rubbed circles into his back, like Bill had done earlier, or like Eddie had done with his hand before he fell asleep.

"I know," she said. "I know."

He didn't even know what she knew or if she even really knew it, but it was helping. He turned his head and buried his face into the crook of her neck, breathing in her perfume and probably wiping a bit of snot onto her neck. She just cradled his head and kept whispering, "Shh. It's okay. I know. I know."

And they stayed like that for a while, Richie crying on her shoulder and her acting like his own personal guardian angel.

Chapter Text

The next few days were a frightening and confusing blur for Eddie. Sometimes, he would have a flash of memory, and some of them were so nightmarish he wasn't sure if they were real.

At times, he would remember his friends' faces, and almost remember their names. Other times, he saw other faces, and knew that they were nameless things. A pale white face with long sharp teeth and yellow eyes. A leper with scraggly hair and boils all over and togue that lolled and slithered about. A young boy with curly hair and spider legs bursting out of his disembodied head.

Then he would open his eyes and people were at his bedside and he was in a hospital and he didn't know where or who he was or why his body felt like it had been ripped apart and set on fire.

One time, he woke and it was dark, and the dark was better than the lights. At first. But then the images from the dreams came back to him and he thought he saw something moving in the corner of the room. Then he heard something breathing, and he let out a cry.

"Ach!" cried a voice, and a light turned on with the gentle click of a motion detector. "Eddie? What is it?"

There was a man lying across two hospital chairs, a jacket tugged around his lanky frame. He'd obviously been dead asleep before Eddie had freaked out and woken him up.

"Fuck," Eddie said. "Sorry. I . . . uh . . . where am I?"

The man ran a hand over his face before reaching down and picking up a pair of glasses off the floor. He slid them onto his face and sniffed as he sat up.

"Right. Um, okay. So you're Eddie Kaspbrak and—"

"I know."

The man paused. "What?"

"I know, I didn't ask who I was, I asked where I was."

The man grinned and leaned forwards, resting his arms on his knees. "You're starting to remember."

"I beg to fucking differ. I have no idea where this place is or why I'm in so much pain."

"Oh, Eds," the man said, still grinning like an idiot.

"Don't fucking call me that. Jesus, who the hell are you anyways?"

The man's smile grew wider, then completely died with Eddie's question. Eddie squinted at him. He did look vaguely familiar . . .

"Er, sorry," the guy said with a humourless chuckle. He was looking down at his feet but Eddie could see the guy was tearing up. "You're in a hospital just outside of Derry, Maine."

"Wait, Derry?" Eddie tried to sit up and immediately regretted it. He groaned and clutched at his chest. The man with the glasses got to his feet instantly.

"Do you want me to get a nurse?" he asked.

Eddie shook his head. "Nah, I'm good. Fuck. I just won't do that again anytime soon."

The man stepped closer. "You remember Derry?" he asked.

Eddie started to nod, then stopped. Did he?

"It sounds familiar," he said. "But . . . no, not quite. Do I live here?"

"We used to."

Eddie looked up at the man and tried again to place him, but the memories just weren't there. "I know you, don't I?"

The man shrugged. "You do and you don't, I guess? Heh. It's a long story, but essentially, you got in an accident and you have temporary PTA."

Eddie frowned. "Parent Teacher Association?"

"Yep. Fuck no, you doofus. Post-Traumatic Amnesia."

"How the fuck would I know that, dipshit?" Eddie snapped. The man just grinned again as if 'dipshit' were some special pet name between them.

Something in Eddie's mind clicked. He looked down at his hand and saw a wedding band there. "Oh! Are we married?"

The man looked at him blankly, then lifted a hand to cover his mouth as his shoulders started to shake. Was he crying? Fuck, Eddie hadn't meant to make him cry. He wasn't even sure why . . .

Wait. No.

They guy was laughing. He was wheezing, laughing so hard he could hardly breathe. It as so funny that Eddie started to laugh too, even thought he was totally lost.

"What?" he said. "Was it something I said?"

The man just laughed harder. He took a deep breath and then he was hooting and tears of mirth ran down his cheeks. Every time he opened his eyes and tried to speak he would start laughing again even harder. Was this Eddie's husband . . . ? Had he married this idiot?

"Mr and Mr Eddie Spaghetti Kaspbrak!" the man hissed before howling again.

Eddie didn't get the joke. But Eddie Spaghetti, that was definitely a pet name.

"Fiancées then . . . ?" Eddie asked, and the man folded over, lauging with his head almost between his legs now.

"You're gonna fucking kill me, Eds," the guy said.

Eddie shook his head, smiling and watching the dude lose his shit until he started to sober up. "You good?" he asked at last.

The man nodded. "Fuck, dude . . . and I'm supposed to be the comedian. Hoo boy. Um, to sum up, no, we are not partners of any kind. Except for partners in crime, that is."

Eddie frowned. "What?"

The man's face was serious all of a sudden, and he took another step forward, lowering his voice. "We're hustlers, Eddie. You and me, some of the most wanted fugitives in the country."

Eddie's stomach churned. No way. "What? Why?"

"For the money, of course. And the thrill. And the babes."

Eddie frowned. "Really . . .?" That didn't feel right. Actually, fuck, none of that felt right.

"Are you fucking with me?"

The guy started laughing again. "Sure am, man." He clapped a hand down onto Eddie's leg. "I'm Richie. I was your best friend growing up. I'm kind of a dick."

"Kind of?" Eddie asked, his voice too high-pitched for his liking.

"There it is. Love it when your voice got all high and squeaky like that."

"Fuck you."

"Okay. I'm down if you are." The man wiggled his eyebrows at him and Eddie rolled his eyes. "I've heard grave injuries are a real turn on for some people, and I think I'm starting to see why."

And they weren't even dating? With this kind of banter? Damn, what the hell, Kaspbrak?

"So, hold on, where's my husband then? Or wife? Fiancee? Or . . . my ex . . .?" Eddie asked, holding up his left hand.

Richie opened his mouth, then shut it again, and repeat.

"You look like a fish when you do that," Eddie said. "What, did I grow a second fucking head?"

Richie had a pained look on his face. "Eddie, you are married. To a woman. You have a wife. Myra . . . is her name," he finished awkwardly.

"Okay. Is she here? What's she like? Do you know?"

Richie made a face.

"What?" Eddie almost didn't want to hear the answer now.

"Okay, so do you maybe remember anything about your mother?"

He didn't quite, not really, but the idea still made him flinch. "What do you mean?"

"Ooh, wow, look at the time, I need to, uh, go fetch my, er, horse. I'll get the doctor in here right away and you can—"

"Richie, what is she like?"

"Ah, fuck it. She's a beast. A monster. A clingy, overbearing, gigantic pain in the ass who you don't even love."

Eddie released the breath he hadn't realized he was holding. "Really?"

Richie shut his eyes like he was trying to will himself out of existence. "You said so yourself. The night of the accident. You were talking about how you weren't afraid anymore, now that you remembered everything. That you needed to leave her."

Richie made a face then, like he was trying to crunch some numbers for a very important math quiz, before asking a question at light speed.

"What?" Eddie asked. "I didn't catch—"

"Are you into dudes?"

Eddie frowned, eyes flicking from side to side. "Yes . . . ? At least, I think so. You said you were my best friend . . . did I never tell you that?"

Richie shook his head, then started nodding, then made a weird sound in the back of his throat, and promptly fainted.

#

The doctor lectured him about not sleeping or eating properly after so much emotional stress when Richie came to, before leaving the room and muttering under his breath about "all these idiots."

Richie was in his own hospital bed now, and was under strict instructions to get at least three hours of sleep before leaving the bed, or else have someone take him to his motel and not come back until morning. The choice had been easy.

However, he knew he wasn't going to be able to get any fucking sleep now. He had just found out that Eddie had been like him. This whole goddamn time. He'd clearly been just as repressed, if not more so. For god's sake, he married a woman. A woman who had, as far as he could see, zero redeeming qualities.

If only they hadn't lost their memories after Derry. Maybe they could have all stayed together, and figured all of this shit out, together. As they should have.

Fuck. He needed to tell Eddie he loved him. Again. This time, when he would remember it.

Chapter Text

 

In the end, Richie did end up falling asleep, almost against his will. He supposed his body had just been through too damn much in the last few days and tugged him into unconsciousness shortly after he made his decision to confess to Eddie a second time.

So when he got up the next morning with a nurse shooing him from the room so she could change the linens for an incoming patient, he woke with a mission. And now he had the benefit of being truly clearheaded for the first time in days.

Which was why the first thing he had to do was have a drink.

He stopped by Eddie's room first to peep in and make sure he was doing okay, and he found Mike and Bill in there with coffees, talking to Eddie and laughing. He wanted to badly to go in there and let himself get wrapped up in their conversation but he knew what he needed to do.

"Hey, guys, I'm gonna go pop down to the store," he said, convienently neglecting to mention that the 'store' in question would be one where liquor was almost the exclusive product. "D'you need anything?"

"No, thanks, Rich, we're good," Mike said with a smile. Rich nodded and ducked out the door again when he heard Eddie's voice call out.

"Wait! Rich?"

He swung back in immediately, like a dog that had just heard the word 'treat.'

"Yeah, Eds?" he asked, way too quickly and way too loudly. God, he needed to chill.

Eddie was looking at him the same way he had over the past two days each time he'd forgotten everything again, like he was trying to fit a particularly difficult shape into a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle.

"That's Richie?" he asked Bill and Mike. They nodded.

"Can you come here a sec?" Eddie asked.

Bill looked like he was barely keeping from laughing. What the fuck had they said to him . . . ? He walked over cautiously, reminding himself that Eddie wouldn't remember whatever it was that these traitors had told him.

"Wow," Eddie said. "So you're the guy I've been married to for twenty years."

Richie's jaw dropped. He turned on Bill and Mike like an angry cat, hissing and spitting and one wrong move away from clawing.

"What the fuck, you guys? What the hell did you tell him that for? That's seriously messed . . . up."

All three of them had started laughing uproariously. Mike, Bill . . . and Eddie. Eddie was clutching his chest and grimacing, but still laughing through the pain.

It didn't take long for Richie to put it together. They were messing with him.

"Oh, ha ha, so fucking funny. That's still hella messed up, you two. Actually, no, make that you three," he corrected himself, glaring at Eddie.

"I'm so sorry," Eddie said, sounding very much not sorry at all. "I couldn't resist. They said you've been screwing with me, telling me I'm a secret agent who took a bullet for an alien or that we rob banks together and were on the run or some shit, and so when they came up with this plan it was too good not to use it."

Richie cuffed Bill on the back of the head but it only served to make them all laugh harder. Richie couldn't help it. He cracked a smile of his own at his stupid friends. It almost felt like old times.

"Wait. Dude, are you remembering more now?" he asked.

They all quieted right away. Eddie nodded slowly. "Okay yeah so I remember a little. I remember my name, where I live, that I'm married, and that something happened to all of us when we were kids. But I'm still struggling with names and I keep fucking up on the details of things."

Richie nodded too before he suddenly remembered his plan. "Okay, right, so, funny prank guys, you're totally gonna regret it, and I'll be back in like half an hour."

They protested but he ignored them and left before they could convince him otherwise. He was a man on a mission. And that mission was to get a mickey of vodka and slam it right before confessing his love to a man he wished he hadn't forgotten for twenty-seven years and who could barely remember him now.

And that's how, a little over twenty minutes later (okay, he might have been speeding a little) he was chugging down a couple mouthfuls of vodka in the hospital parking lot.

He rushed in, flashed his visitor's badge, and charged down the hall to Eddie's room.

"Hey, you little twerp, listen up," he started saying right before coming into view of Eddie with the doctor changing his bandages. Eddie was flipped over as the doctor inspected the sutures on his back. And his butt was exposed to the world, pale and round and—

"Ach!" Richie cried, averting his eyes.

"Excuse me!" said the doctor. "I am tending to a patient."

"Right! Sorry!" Richie chirped, and sped back down the hallway.

He came back ten minutes later, peeking in first this time to make sure the doctor was gone. She was, so he stepped in and closed the door behind him. Eddie opened his eyes and barked a laugh.

"Richie, was that you walking in on me before?"

Richie felt a flood of warmth surge through him. "You havent forgotten me again yet," he said.

"How could I forget a man who just saw my bare ass? That would be rather shitty of me." Eddie smirked, then looked thoughtful. "Or would that be 'slutty'? Ah, well."

He looked at Richie expectantly, like he was waiting for a witty comeback, probably to do with Eddie's mother, but Richie was suddenly speechless. For one thing, Eddie Kaspbrak had just referred to himself as a slut, so there was that . . . but there was also the fact that he now had to do what he came here to do, and his tongue wouldn't obey him.

"Holy shit, did I just silence the great Trashmouth?"

Richie lifted his eyes to Eddie's, hope flaring in his chest even as something like shame squirmed in his gut.

"Your memory really is coming back, huh?" he said, willing his feet to step forward, one at a time, until he was at the foot of Eddie's bed.

"Yeah. You guys have been helping a lot. So, thanks, I guess. For that." Eddie regarded him. "Come on, man, are you gonna tell me why you're looking like you just swallowed a slug?"

"Actually, it was about three or four shots' worth of vodka," Richie admitted. Eddie blinked.

"The fuck? Why? It's not even noon." He frowned like he was trying to remember if that was correct. ". . . Right?"

Richie nodded and put his hands in his pockets.

"I've got something I need to say to you, okay?"

There, first step. He couldn't back out now. Eddie's memories were really starting to come back. If he chickened out he might never hear the end of it.

"I've wanted to tell you this since we were kids. And then again when we went through all that shit recently with—with the house falling in on you. And I didn't, and you could have died. So I'm saying it now."

"Okay," Eddie said.

Richie took a deep breath. "I'm fucking gay, man. And surprise, surprise, I never wanted to bang your mom. I wanted to bang you. Okay, well maybe not bang, not at first. At first I just got butterflies around you and wanted to hold your hand. Then I wanted to kiss you. I don't think I really wanted to throw you down and make sweet love to you until we were in like twelfth grade but then we all moved away and forgot everything and I guess I went so deep into that closet I was probably one fur coat away from meeting Aslan."

He took another deep breath at the end of this stupid speech, and then another. He did it. He fucking did it.

Eddie looked shell-shocked. Richie kind of thought he might.

Now what?

He opened his mouth to crack a joke when Eddie shook a finger at him. "No. No way, you're not making some messed up comment about fucking Aslan. I won't stand for it."

"Neither did Aslan."

"Oh my god!" Eddie cried.

"I was the one on all fours, actually . . . it was beautiful."

"That's fucking disgusting," Eddie snapped at him. "That's maybe the worst joke you've ever made. And I know I don't remember like any of them right now but I'm gonna call it. That's the one."

"It's not the worst one," Richie promised him.

Eddie shook his head and pursed his lips, looking up at the ceiling just so he wouldn't have to look at Richie. Then he seemed to remember the confession that came just before that and he looked back at his friend.

"You told me you loved me, didn't you?" he asked.

Richie frowned. "Uh, yeah. Like, I sure hope that's what you got from all of that because otherwise your brain damage is much wor—"

"No, moron," Eddie interrupted. "Before. I think in that house. Someone was holding me, crying, and they said they loved me. That's all I can really remember from before, except for a little from way back when we were kids. So . . . was that you?"

Richie nodded. "That was me."

Eddie sank back in his cot. "Okay. That explains it."

"What?"

"Why I must have kept thinking you were my boyfriend."

"Ah." Right. "So you remember that?"

"No, the two who were in here before, the couple . . ."

"Bev and Ben?"

"No, the other two."

Richie snorted. "Mike and Bill?"

"Yeah! They told me you'd been freaking out because I kept thinking you were my boyfriend, and they told me I should avoid doing that."

"This was before or after you guys decided to prank me?" Richie asked.

"Before. Duh. The look on your face was priceless, by the way. But after they left I kept thinking 'why would I just assume that'? And then I realized. It was your voice, saying 'I love you.' And, apparently, you kept holding my hands and crying like a little girl."

"Shut up," Richie said off-handedly. Then he sat down in the chair by the bed and pushed his glasses up. "I can't believe you remember that."

They were quiet for a minute or so. Then Eddie said, "I know I have a wife, but I don't think I love her."

"You don't," said Richie, remembering the way Eddie had gone on about the woman that night before the final face-off with It.

"So . . . I don't know, maybe after I leave her, we could give it a shot?"

Richie's head shot up so fast he heard his neck crack. "What??"

Eddie smiled weirdly at him. "Why not?"

Exactly. Why the fuck not. Richie laughed. He felt like he might start crying again. "You're serious?"

"Well if this was another prank I think it would send me straight to hell."

Richie started breathing way too fast again, and he felt a little dizzy. Was this even real? He had a gross moment where he remembered being caught in the Deadlights and seeing horrible things that weren't real, and he wondered if he was somehow still in them. But, no, It had never shown them anything nice. That would be too complicated a torture. Right?

"Jesus, dude, you okay?"

"No," Richie whined. "And frankly, I don't think any of us ever have been."

Eddie frowned and leaned over, wincing at the pain as he did so, and tried to reach for him.

Then the door opened. A large blonde lady was standing in the doorway with the doctor at her side.

Myra.

Chapter Text

Myra ran over to Eddie's bedside and pulled him into her arms, ignoring his sounds of pain. Richie stood up just so he wasn't stuck staring at her ass awkwardly, and he sidled along the wall until he was in the clear. Then he stood there, trying to decide if he should say goodbye or just run like his life depended on it.

He turned to go when Myra released Eddie and he looked up at her with a concerned look.

"Sorry, who are you?" he asked.

Myra turned to the doctor, eyes wide. "I thought you said he'd been remembering everyone."

The doctor cleared her throat. "Well, he's been remembering his friends, and they've been with him almost nonstop for the past two days. You might just need to give it time."

Myra's lip wobbled dangerously and she turned back to Eddie and flashed her hand at him, the platinum ring matching his own. "I'm your wife, Eddie-kins," she said matter-of-factly. Richie cringed. Then Eddie looked past Myra to him with a look that screamed 'help me.'

"Um, Myra, is it?" Richie said, supplying the name for Eddie in what he hoped wasn't too obvious a way. Strangely, Eddie didn't actually look relieved though.

"Yes, that's right," she said, "and you are?"

"No one," Richie said. "Just one of Eddie's old friends."

"Richie," Eddie said.

Richie looked at him. Myra looked at him. The doctor looked at him, raised her eyebrows, and promptly left.

"Eddie," Myra said in a wounded tone. As if he could fucking help it.

"This is my friend Richie," Eddie said, not even looking at his wife as he said it. "He and I shared a bed all the time when we were kids."

Richie could have sworn he felt his soul leave his body and float about the room just then.

Myra burst into tears and stood up. "I can't do this yet," she sobbed, and was gone. Richie was dumbfounded.

Eddie let out a deep sigh. "Holy shit."

Richie laughed, a sound of discomfort more than real humour.

"I totally did remember her," Eddie said with a shit-eating grin. "I just couldn't deal with all of that."

Richie's heart sank and his soul settled firmly into his body once more. "Oh . . . you said that just to get her out of here?"

Eddie looked at him like he was trying to decipher Richie's change in mood. He smiled slowly, shyly, like he'd just thought of a secret joke. "Oh," he said, "I remember other things about you, too. That just happened to be a very convenient truth. Although, if you want to get me into your bed again now you'll have to buy me a drink first."

And there it was again. Elation. Richie really might have a fucking chance. He could have died happy right then and there, except that he had to see how it ended.

He stepped forward and did the bravest thing he had maybe ever done in his life, including standing up to a cannibalistic alien clown-thing.

He leaned forward and kissed Eddie on the cheek.

When he pulled away, Eddie was smiling. "Cuuuuuute," he said. "You're cute."

Richie laughed. "Am I? Please, tell me more. I am never bathed in quite enough compliments to suit me."

"Cutie cute, cute, cute," said Eddie, closing his eyes. Which is when Richie remembered that Eddie was on strong medication.

"Okay, someone needs to get their beauty sleep," Richie said softly.

"Yeah, you," Eddie replied, not opening his eyes.

"Ahuh. Nighty night, Spaghetti."

Eddie simply hummed in response. Richie stood there for some time, watching Eddie's chest rise and fall.

He fucking loved him, all right.

#

Richie finally went back to the hotel and showered and had a hot meal for the first time in days, but the whole while he was itching to get back to Eddie.

He wanted to try things out with Richie. Never in Richie's wildest dreams had Eddie been okay with actually dating him.

He was on top of the world.

Obviously, he would have to wait until Eddie wasn't, you know, married to a woman before he tried to call him up and ask him out, but he could manage. He'd waited for twenty-seven years. He could handle another couple months or so.

His body felt light and springy, and he found himself bounding around corners and taking stairs two at a time. He even started whistling a couple times.

So when he went back to the hospital and walked past the gift shop, he started thinking about getting Eddie flowers, and whether or not that would be pushing it.

He also saw a couple notebooks, and thought to himself, Oh shit, Eddie could write notes to himself for anything he forgets.

He was still considering purchasing one with cartoon hot dogs all over it when someone grabbed him by the shoulder.

"Richie, there you are." It was Bev.

"Whoa, what is it?"

"Eddie, he's remembering us now."

Richie smiled. "I know."

"Come on," she urged. "He was asking for you."

Richie straight up dropped the notebook and had to keep from skipping down the damn hallway after her. He walked into Eddie's room as casually as he could, lifting a hand in greeting to the others, who were gathered around Eddie's bed and talking about how Eddie should try to take advantage of the amnesia and rewatch really good movies.

"Ooh! Do you remember how The Usual Suspects ends?" Ben asked.

"Of course," Eddie laughed. "That came out years ago. It would probably have to be something a lot more recent."

Bill started to stutter something out when he saw Richie and smiled. Eddie looked over too. Then he frowned.

"Oh my god. Richie Tozier? Is that you, man?"

Richie froze. Was he messing with him again?

"Yeah . . . " he said, taking another shaky step forward. "Yeah, it's me."

"Fuck, you got tall, dude," Eddie said. And there was no way Eddie could act this well. It was real. He'd forgotten again.

Everyone was looking at him. No doubt trying to figure out why he looked like he just got some bad news. He rustled up a smile and tried to think of a joke, an insult, anything.

"Nah, guys, this can't be Richie. He hasn't said a single thing about my dead mom or how fat she was."

There were a few weak laughs but mostly everyone was looking between the two of them with concern and confusion.

"I . . . I'll be right back," he said, and did his best to walk out of there with even steps. He controlled his breathing, focused on his surroundings, and still tears started to blur his vision. He took a couple deep, gasping sobs as he walked, turning his head to the side whenever he passed someone.

He was mostly composed by the time he made it back to the gift shop, and the cashier didn't press him on why his eyes were red. This was a hospital, after all.

When he got back to the room, he was doing better. His hands were shaking, but once he put the flowers down he could shove them in his pockets again.

He could do this.

He strolled into the room with a confidence he didn't feel. "Here man," he said, setting them down on the windowsill. "Because plants totally make up for the fact that you were impaled by a house. Not the worst thing to be impaled by, though, right? Just ask Eddie's mom."

"There it is," Eddie said. "Not your best work, but it's more or less what I expected."

They went on like that for some time, a steady back and forth that almost made up for the punch to the gut Richie had felt when Eddie looked at him without recognition a few hours after he told him he loved him.

It was fine. He could do this.

Except he couldn't. He was going to look at flights back to LA the second he left here today. He might call Eddie in a month or two just to stay in touch but this was fucking unbearable. Eddie's memory might never come back.

The Losers talked for hours, until Myra finally came back to try to see her husband again. This time, he not only remembered her but he called her by name and asked to speak with her in private. Bev and Ben suggested going out for dinner but Richie passed, saying he needed to get some more sleep and was going to head back to the hotel for a few more hours.

"But maybe drinks after?" he asked hopefully. They laughed and agreed, telling him to text them when he was awake again.

Back at the hotel, he started chugging the rest of the vodka before he'd even gotten back to his room.

#

Eddie knew what he had to do the second he saw Myra again. His memories from before the accident were coming back full force, Pennywise and all. And the more he reflected on all the shit they had faced, the more he thought about how their were a few other things he had to face in his regular life as well.

So when his wife came back to check on him, he knew he had to break things off with her before she sucked him back into a loveless marriage and, worse, maybe even kids.

At first, he allowed her to ask him about the accident, omitting the supernatural details where he could and claiming a foggy memory where he couldn't. He asked her about work and the accident claim he'd filed and if she'd gotten a house-sitter.

Finally, Myra had enough small talk.

"Eddie, what is it? You clearly have something on your mind."

His eyebrows pinched together. She did know him well enough to detect his off moods. But that wasn't enough.

"Myra, why did you marry me?"

He knew the answer, but wanted to know if she felt the same way too.

"What kind of a question is that?" she asked, looking affronted.

He shut his eyes and rubbed at the bridge of his nose as if he could stave off the impending headache. "Listen. You picked me because I was a safe choice. And I picked you for the exact same reason. I probably never really got over my mother's shitty parenting. So I imagine I was just looking for someone else to cling to, to be codependent with. But do you realize how fucked up that is?"

Myra's nose was red, and she was sniffling, but couldn't seem to bring herself to answer him. He imagined this was because he was right, giving voice to truths they had likely suspected for some time but been too scared to say anything. He wondered briefly how much less suffering there would be in his relationships if everyone just communicated openly, fearlessly.

"God damn it, Myra, I don't want to be somebody's safe choice!" he cried suddenly, picking up speed as his thoughts started tripping over themselves in an attempt to get out of his mouth. "And for that matter I think I want to stop taking such safe choices in the rest of my life. I want to take fucking risks. Including quitting my stupid job as a fucking risk assessor. My god, there couldn't be another career choice out there that would be so likely to feed into my unhealthy obsessions. Like, yes, please let me spend all day every day analyzing the likelihood of getting herpes from putting my bare ass on a public toilet seat, that sounds like a completely normal way to deal with the hypochondria and germaphobia I dealt with for my entire childhood!"

Myra laughed suddenly, and her voice sounded wet from the tears. "You always did talk fast when you got excited about something, didn't you? Rapid-fire Eddie." She glanced away and Eddie noticed that she was fiddling with her wedding ring. As he watched, she eased it off her finger and handed it to him. He just looked at her, feeling a mixture of emotions he couldn't examine at that moment.

"I know where you're going with this, and I can tell this is something you've really set your mind to. I get it. Or, I think I do. Everyone always says that near-death experiences put your life into perspective. And Eddie . . . you're right. I don't think we've ever been in love. Not really, not—" her voice broke but she took a deep breath and tried again. "Not passionately."

Eddie nodded. "You deserve passion, Myra. We both do. And I don't think we could ever truly give that to one another."

She was really crying now, and he was surprised to find that his own eyes were filling with tears. He supposed it was one thing to make a gut decision to leave your wife, but to say goodbye to someone you've spent years of your life with was, in practice, not so easy.

"I'm sorry," he found himself saying, and he really meant it. He was sorry they got married in the first place when he knew, deep down, he didn't really love her the way he should. He was sorry they had stayed together for so long when it was clear they were unable to make it work.

"Me too," she said, and gave him a wobbly smile which he returned. A tear escaped the corner of his eye and trickled down his cheek. Myra reached over to brush it away but stopped herself.

"I should go," she said. "I'll call my sister's lawyer and . . . start the process. Should be simple enough, we'll just split everything." She got up but stood there for a long moment, just looking at him and the ring in his hand. "I hope at the end of all of this we can keep in touch. I would say stay friends, but I'm not even sure we were that, really."

Eddie sniffed. "Of course we were, Myra. That's why you felt so safe. It wasn't just that you were familiar. You're a good person."

Twin tears ran down her face. "You are too, Eddie."

She walked out the door and Eddie turned onto his side, even though it made his chest ache. He needed the ache right now. It fit with the rest of the things he was feeling. The guilt, the excitement, the anxiety . . .

When a knock came at the door again he wasn't sure if forty minutes had passed or four hours. He knew he'd been dozing from the little bubble of drool that popped when he opened his mouth to call, "Come in!"

He wasn't sure who to expect, a nurse or doctor, Myra, or one of his many friends, but when Richie popped his head in, he felt nothing but sheer relief that it wasn't someone else.

"Hey, man," Richie said. He was holding a plastic bag.

"Hey," Eddie croaked.

"Did, uh, someone die?" Richie asked. Eddie shook his head. He didn't have the heart for Tozier-level banter right now. Richie came close and Eddie buried his head in his pillows.

"This is hard," he mumbled into the material, though it came out so muffled it sounded more like "Thiff iff hawd."

A weight settled onto the edge of the bed as Richie sat down. His denim-clad thigh rubbed up against Eddie's leg, which must have come out from under the sheets at some point when he'd fallen asleep. He didn't move away. Even the minimal amount of body heat and not-quite contact was comforting as hell.

A voice in the back of his mind wondered if Richie would cuddle with him, if he asked, and he almost laughed out loud. What a weird thought.

"Apparently Myra told Mike that she was leaving. He said she was in tears. And that she gave him a hug that almost crushed his ribs. So, uh, dunno how you had sex with that but congrats on surviving these past few years."

Eddie released his face from the cocoon of pillows. "God, enough with the fat jokes, man. She's a human being."

"I know," Richie said. "Sorry. I just—"

"You were just being your usual dickish self," Eddie finished for him. "To get a rise out of me? To make me angry so I won't be so depressed? You're a lot more transparent than you like to believe, Rich."

Richie said nothing. For a moment. Nothing could keep him silent for long.

"Damn, Eds, didn't know you could switch careers that quickly. Tell me, are the online therapy degrees just as big a sham as that marriage you just ended?"

Eddie stared at him. "Oh, okay, we're going for ten times the dickishness today because, what, fuck me I guess?"

Richie pumped his eyebrows at him. "I mean, if you're offering."

"Just stop it, would you? Maybe I want to mourn my fucking relationship without being dragged for marrying someone I didn't love in the first place."

Richie sighed. "I don't know what you want from me then, 'cause roasting people is my specialty. Especially in uncomfortable situations when I'm meant to offer words of kindness or wisdom or whatever."

"Well can you at least like lie down here with me so I don't have to keep straining my mangled body just to look at your stupid face?"

Richie swallowed, and Eddie looked away again, fuming silently. He was only mildly shocked when Richie did, in fact, lay down beside him, careful not to touch him any more than necessary.

"I won't break, you know," Eddie said, flipping onto his back so he could look at his friend.

"Oh, I'm sorry, it must have been the casual dropping of the word 'mangled' that must have made me want to be gentle."

"Gentle? What are you gonna manhandle me now or something?"

It was the usual kind of jab they might make at one another, but for some reason Richie flushed, the tip of his nose turning red. Eddie was reminded of Myra when she handed him her ring and he reached up with his hand to grab Richie's, tangling their fingers together.

Thankfully, Richie snorted. "Who's manhandling who now, Kaspbrak?"

Eddie shifted so he could pinch Richie with his other hand. The other man flinched and swatted at him like he was a mosquito.

"Hitting an injured man, real brave."

"What can I say, I'm a classic hero-type."

Eddie hummed in agreement. "You did kind of save my life."

"Only after you saved mine."

"Well that was only after I almost let you get mauled by the Stan-spider."

Richie turned his head. "Shit, your memory is improving so much! Soon you'll remember every ounce of traumatic bullshit, buddy."

Eddie turned to look at him too and realized how close they were to one another. It was true, he could remember just about everything. Including how big a crush he had on his stupid friend when they were kids. Teasing each other mercilessly, talking on the phone late into the night when Eddie was meant to be in bed, having sleepovers where they shared a bed like this and Eddie would prod and poke Richie with his feet until Richie shoved him nearly off the bed or tickled him until he couldn't breathe.

How had he forgotten all of that?

"The only thing I can't remember is the last few days," he said, just to fill the suddenly vast silence they had created. "Everyone says it's been like half a week now, but I can only remember the last few hours. What if in an hour from now I don't remember breaking things off with Myra and I have to do it again?"

"I'll remind you, you little spaz," Richie said. "Calm your tits."

"Could you fill me in?" Eddie asked. "On the last few days?"

Richie sat up. "Oh shit! That reminds me." He slid off the bed to grab the plastic bag he'd brought in with him, pulling out a hot pink journal. "I got you this from the gift shop. For exactly that reason."

Eddie put a hand over his chest and gasped dramatically. "My hero."

Richie grimaced. "Stop calling me that. You were the hero, man." He handed Eddie the journal. There was a polka-dot pen clipped to its side too, with a fluffy magenta bit at the top.

"It's perfect," Eddie sighed like he was a girl from an 80's rom-com.

Richie looked put out that his little not-quite-a-joke gift wasn't going over the way he expected, and he sat back down on the bed.

Eddie patted the spot beside him. Richie rolled his eyes, but acquiesced to Eddie's silent demand and shuffled back into his previous position. This time, his face ended up even closer to Eddie's, and he blushed an even darker colour.

"Okay," Eddie said, flipping the book open. "I'm ready."

And Richie started with, "Okay so first of all you totally reeked for the first day because they hadn't managed to get all of the gunk from the sewers off you. Also, you looked like you had just been fucked raw by the grim reaper."

Eddie rolled his eyes and began to write.

Chapter Text

Three days later, they allowed Eddie to leave the hospital. Richie wheeled him out to his car and everybody hugged and said their goodbyes, promising to keep up with the group chat and to have regular get togethers as often as they could. Bev talked excitedly about visiting Mike in Florida and all of them seeing Disney World together. Bill said something about how he was going to go with Mike first before he went back home, and Richie didn't think he was imagining things when he saw a secretive look pass between them, or noticed how close together they were standing.

Bev was going with Ben, no surprises there. And Eddie? Well, Eddie was remembering more and more, but still next to nothing from the last few days in the hospital. He and Richie were going back to the hotel for the night while he figured out what he wanted to do. He needed someone with him though in case his stitches tore or his memory started acting up again. And Richie didn't have a plan either. He was still actively ignoring the dozens of emails and text messages from his agent, his assistant, and everyone else back in LA.

He couldn't leave Eddie. Not yet. Not while he was practically fucking helpless and had nowhere to go.

He thought about how to tell him at the end, that he would be leaving. He thought about it the whole time they drove back to the hotel in near-silence.

"What the fuck is up?" Eddie asked as they passed Derry's only Starbucks.

"Huh?"

"With you. You're so quiet, it's weird."

"You're weird."

"Oh, good one. That should go into your next show. Oh wait, no, it can't because you don't write your own material."

". . . Fuck off."

Eddie scoffed. "Seriously! What is it? Why are you being all moody and quiet? You've sighed like three times in the past minute."

Had he? Richie hadn't even noticed. He resisted the urge to sigh again and looked out the window as he tried to think of an answer that didn't start with 'well I confessed my long-unrequited gay love for you and you forgot about it faster than a concussed goldfish.'

Before he could come up with anything halfway decent, Eddie pulled out his ridiculous journal and started flipping through it.

"Nope, just as I thought, doesn't say anything about why you have a stick up your butt today."

"A stick—" Richie whipped his head to the side and back, stammering the whole time. "A stick up my butt? Is that the best you can come with?"

"At least I came up with it myself!"

"I will turn this car around, so help me god," Richie warned.

Eddie folded his arms and huffed. "You're not my real dad."

For whatever reason, this made Richie bark a surprised laugh. "What did you say to me, you little shit?" he demanded.

Eddie just smiled an innocent little smile that made Richie want to kiss him so bad it actually hurt. Then his stomach gurgled and he realized that no, it actually did hurt, because he hadn't eaten yet and it was half past six.

"Jesus, is your stomach trying to communicate with beluga whales?" Eddie asked. "Damn, buddy, let's get some fucking dinner."

"I'm fine." He was so used to those words by now that he barely even registered saying them until Eddie responded.

"The fuck you are. Besides, I'm sick to death of hospital food and I need like, I don't know, a burger and fries or something equally delicious and terrible for me."

Richie groaned. "You had to say burger, didn't you?"

"A bacon cheeseburger," Eddie said. "With a chocolate shake."

It took Richie about one second to make the decision but he still hesitated. "Where would we even go?"

"I don't know, there was that old diner just off of Birk. Maybe it's still open?"

It was. They parked and went inside to find it was next to empty despite it still being what would normally be time for the dinner rush. There was an elderly couple drinking black coffees in the corner and a middle-aged woman reading a Harlequin at the counter. They took a booth at the opposite end and waited for the waitress to come by and offer them two greasy laminated menus. Eddie waved them away and smiled at her with that oh-so-charming way of his. Richie felt a twinge of jealousy as she smiled back at him.

"I think we know what we want actually," Eddie said, then paused and looked at Richie, to give him a chance to speak up if he wanted. But Richie just shrugged, so Eddie rattled off the exact order he had suggested in the car, and the woman went away again.

"So," Eddie said when they were alone again, "why are you acting weird?"

"I told you, I'm not. Or at least, I don't think I am."

He started fiddling with the triangular drinks menu, feigning great interest in their happy hour Tuesday special of highballs for $2.50. That was pretty good, actually, he thought.

Eddie leaned forward. "Is it because I kept thinking you were my boyfriend when I was in the hospital? I read it in the journal."

Richie's knee jerked so hard it collided with Eddie's, and he quickly sat up straighter and tucked his legs in again.

"See, that's exactly what I'm talking about," Eddie was saying.

"No, you idiot," Richie said over him. "Why would I care about that?"

"Well that's what I thought. Except maybe you turned into a giant homophobe over the last few years and forgot to mention it."

"Woah, I am so not a homophobe," Richie spluttered.

"Okay, then why—"

"Because this is all too weird!" Richie said, just to get him to stop pressing. "Damn, Eds, you almost died. We all almost died, but you were bleeding out in my arms. And I had only just gotten you back, the guy I was best fucking friends with growing up. And it's not your fault but the last few days? You waking up or looking away for too long and forgetting who you were or who I was? All over again? It sucked. It was hard. And now you remember everything else but the last few days and that sucks too. Because to you everything is hunky dory, back to normal, and I would love to pretend that I feel the same way, but I can't."

Eddie ran a hand through his hair and licked his lips. "Okay. Fair." Then, "Did you just say 'hunky dory'?"

Richie considered asking the waitress for some of those high balls, whether or not they were on special today.

Eddie reached across the table and laid his hand overtop Richie's, rubbing his thumb in little circles.

"Contrary to popular belief, I am okay. I didn't die. And I wish I had never forgotten you. Not even a little bit. And even though you claim it doesn't bother you, I am sorry for assuming we were boyfriends. But I mean, come on. You know you want to hit this."

Richie's heart lurched but he managed to crack a smile. "With your asthmatic ass huffing and puffing the whole time? I don't think so, Kaspbrak."

"I know that puffer was a gazebo. Placebo! Fuck." Eddie chuckled. "God, I can't wait to get out of this town. I already feel like I never left."

Richie chewed on his lip for a moment. "Gasp-brak. That could be your pet name."

Eddie recoiled. "That's not sexy."

"Exactly."

"Methinks thou dost protest too much, but have it your way," Eddie said. "I will clearly have to have a gay experience with some rando. I'm thinking, like, a heavy bearded biker dude who calls me 'sweet-cheeks,' what do you think?"

The waitress came by just then with their meals and Richie was saved from answering that one. He tore into his burger immediately as he processed Eddie's words. The guy kept bringing up jokes about screwing him or screwing other dudes, and he would have to be completely oblivious not to think that Eddie might be at least a little bit serious. He tried not to let the hope completely rekindle just yet, but he also couldn't help but dig a little deeper.

"Would you actually?" he asked, trying not to look or sound too intrigued.

Eddie was sucking on his milkshake's straw so hard that his lips left it with a slight 'pop' that had Richie shoving away a slew of mental images.

"Why not?" he asked, also flippantly. "Never had one in college, so I might as well, right? It's the twenty-first century now. Sexuality's a fluid."

"No, dumbass, it is fluid. Not a fluid. Also, I think it's just girls who have those gay college experiences."

Now Eddie was regarding him with a cold stare as he stuffed three fries at once into his mouth. "The hell?" he said with a mouth full of potato. "Who told you that?"

The other boys in Richie's dorm room. Richie remembered joking about playing spin the bottle one night when he was drunk in his first semester. It hadn't gone over well.

"The movies?" Richie tried. Eddie just chewed and swallowed, then went back to sucking at his shake.

"Well that just blatantly isn't true," Eddie said. "For one thing, I almost had one myself."

Richie's eyes popped. "Excuse me?"

Eddie grinned. "Jealous? That's right, Tozier, everyone finds my asthmatic little ass quite fine, thank you very much."

And Richie was jealous. Of both Eddie and the boy who had almost done something with him in college. "W-what stopped you?"

Eddie sighed and picked up his burger. "Well, myself, really. I kind of freaked out. It was the first frat party I'd ever been to and I confided in this guy that I was determined to make out with someone and he just offered. Right off the bat. Leaned in and everything."

The burger in Richie's own hands was frozen halfway to his mouth. "Then what?" Richie asked in little more than a whisper.

Eddie finished his bite and washed it down with another long sip of his shake. "I pushed him off, yelling something about him not brushing his teeth, and bolted."

It was the most Eddie thing Richie had ever heard. "How did you know he didn't brush his teeth?" He had to ask.

"I didn't. I just panicked and that was the first excuse I could come up with."

Richie frowned and put his burger down without taking a bite. "You realize if you had a proper 'gay experience,' your words, you would likely be expected to do even more than just kissing, right?"

"What? No, really?" Eddie snorted. "Yeah, I get that, obviously. I wouldn't be able to sleep with just anyone. But that's the thing. I've always been a little weird about sex in general. I never told any you guys of that as a kid because I was convinced there was something wrong with me."

"I mean, there definitely was, but go on."

"Thanks. Always got my back, Rich. Well, essentially I didn't figure it out until I saw a counselor in college. I was convinced I had OCD. Long story. But she directed me to a group on campus who met up once a week to talk about how trauma had affected them and eventually I realized I wasn't alone."

He went back to eating his food and at first Richie thought that was the end of the story, but then Eddie held up a finger and finished off the burger. When he was done, he pushed his fries towards Richie.

"Eat these," he said, and launched back into it. "So it turned out most of us had some weird hang-ups, mainly around sex. And so I figured out that while I would do anything basically to please people, I myself didn't enjoy anything sexual. Except . . ."

The waitress came back and Richie was ready to scream at her, but Eddie politely asked her for the check and for a container to pack up the leftovers, and that was it.

"Except?" Richie prompted.

"Right. Except for when I really cared about someone. Which, as it turns out, has been very few people over the years." He looked down at the table as if realizing for the first time since they stepped through the diner's doors how much he had just told Richie. "How's that for catching up? Next I plan on telling you about every time I've masturbated in the last twenty years."

Please do, Richie almost said, then stopped himself. Beep beep.

"So now would be a great time to tell me about a panty-sniffing fetish," Eddie said. "Or a serious asphyxiation kink."

"Nope, sorry," Richie told him. "It's nothing but plain-old hardcore leather daddies for me."

Eddie winced. "Ugh, that was even weird to hear. Guess I brought that on myself."

They walked back to the car with Eddie singing loudly to drown out Richie listing off his 'ultra vanilla' interests, many of which were things he didn't think even existed. He had just gotten to 'monkeys flinging poop at each other' when Eddie threatened to get out of the car and walk back to the hotel.

And if that moment in the diner was the perfect opening for Richie to tell Eddie how he felt one more time, well, he told himself there would be a next time. Even if he didn't quite believe it.

Chapter Text

When they got back to the hotel, Eddie walked up to the counter and waited for the desk clerk. Richie stopped on his way up the stairs and looked at the idiot he had somehow been in love with for twenty-some-odd years.

"What'cha doing?"

"The fuck does it look like I'm doing? Ordering a pizza?"

Richie leaned over the railing. "Dude, how am I supposed to keep you from wandering off like a dementia patient if we're in separate rooms?"

Eddie looked at him funny. "My memory's fine now, remember? I'm, like, all better."

"The one billion stitches in your chest beg to differ," he said. "And no, you still have gaps. That's why the doctor asked if you had someone to keep an eye on you. Or don't you remember?"

They stood there for a moment, just looking at each other, and Richie had another moment of fear that Eddie could see right through him. But then he nodded. "Fine, you win this round," he said, and climbed the stairs after Richie.

Richie's room was in disarray, but Eddie didn't even flinch at the smell of stale sweat and old beer. He just set his bag down and sat on the bed.

"So is one of us supposed to take the floor or did your genius plan not take into consideration that there's only one bed?"

Richie opened his mouth but couldn't quite bring himself to say, We could share.

"I can sleep on the floor," he said, and was proud of himself for not sounding disappointed.

Eddie yawned and started kicking off his shoes. "I'm kidding, you dork. We slept in the same bed like umpteen times as kids. If it really weirds you out you can make a barrier between us out of pillows."

Richie watched him peel off his socks, then gave a start when those were followed by Eddie's hideous polo shirt.

"Uh," he said, not capable of managing more than that. Eddie's chest was well-defined, and narrower without that beige Douchebag Golfer shirt he had been sporting. He unbuckled his pants too and Richie found himself gaping like a fish.

"You gonna turn around, or should I put on a show?" Eddie asked, hands still on his belt. Richie jumped and turned away.

"You're the one who started undressing with zero warning," he shot back over his shoulder.

When Eddie was done, he tapped Richie on the shoulder. He was wearing a black Ramones shirt and plaid pajama pants, and Richie felt his mouth go dry.

"So am I allowed to watch TV for a bit, or that against the rules for amnesia-sufferers too?"

"Go for it," Richie said. "You'll find I can be a very good babysitter."

"Oof," Eddie said, and winked at him. "That's hot."

Richie clammed up. The mirth dropped off Eddie's mouth and he looked like he was going to let it go, then changed his mind.

"Look, if you're going to go back to acting like a stranger then I would rather have my own room. Or maybe even go to a different hotel."

What had he done wrong now? "Why are you so against me being a little quieter than usual?" he asked, trying to play it nonchalant. "You'd think that would make your day."

"You moron, I just told you! I don't want you here if you're going to act all fucking weird around me the whole time."

"What, you want me to go? Cause I can leave whenever."

Eddie's brow furrowed in frustration and he let out an exasperated groan. "No! I want my goddamn friend back. Just tell me what is wrong with you."

"There's nothing wrong with me!" Richie shouts suddenly, and the force of his outburst made Eddie take a step back, his eyes wide. He didn't say anything for a long moment, and in the silence Richie realized how much truth there was in those words. So he said them again, laughing a little. "There's nothing wrong with me."
"Rich . . . I didn't mean it like that."

"No, I know, but . . ." Richie looked up. Eddie had this look of real concern on his face, as if he could read Richie's thoughts at that moment.

"I love you," Richie said.

Eddie's eyes widened even more and he opened his mouth to speak, but Richie wasn't done.

"I told you before, when you were dying in my arms in It's fucking sewer-basement-from-hell, and then again when I thought you had your memory back. But I needed to make sure you know this time. Because I'm not going to keep lying to everyone and being a coward and god, you almost died without me ever getting to say it. So I know that this is maybe like the worst possible time to do this but that's why I've been acting so weird around you. I kind of remembered how fucking gay I am and how into you I always was. So, there. I'm sorry."

Eddie huffed out a soft laugh and Richie cringed. So that's how it was gonna be?

But then Eddie was stepping forward and circling his arms around Richie's waist and back.

"You fucking idiot," he said. "You don't need to be sorry."

Richie froze, not quite believing how understanding Eddie was being. Then he remembered that Eddie was kind of like a fucking angel, and smiled, lifting his arms to hug Eddie back. They stayed like that for at least a minute, and Richie allowed himself to lower his chin to Eddie's head. His hair smelled lightly of hospital-grade shampoo.

Part of him wanted to stay like that forever, but Eddie pulled away and Richie realized he might actually get an answer now.

But what came out of Eddie's mouth next had him freezing up again like a deer caught in the Deadlights.

"I had a crush on you, when we were kids." At Richie's shocked look, he blushed and nodded, glancing away. "Yeah. Why do you think I was always getting in your space? Me. Who carried around hand sanitizer in a fucking fanny pack. You were funny and cool and you . . . you scared me. In a good way."

"You never said anything," Richie said, breathlessly, like Eddie had just revealed that Hogwarts was real.

"Hey, neither did you. You know what it was like back then."

Richie did know. All too well.

Eddie scoffed. "It's funny though . . . after everything we'd been through with It, you think I wouldn't find stuff like coming out to be scary."

Richie let out a deep breath. "Actually, I think things would have turned out differently if we'd had our memories. Instead, everything got, like repressed. And I mean everything. Why do you think you married your mother?"

"Ugh, stop saying that."

"If only I'd married your mother, too. Then we would really have been in the same—"

"Fuck you," said Eddie, laughing. "You literally just told me you're gay."

Richie scrunched up his nose. "Doesn't mean I never fucked your mom," he said in a high-pitched voice.

"I'm gonna hit you."

"Ooh, promise?" Richie asked, sucking in a breath.

Eddie barely hesitated. "Maybe if you're good."

Richie, to his credit, merely swallowed and looked Eddie up and down quickly before responding. "I can be good. When I want to be."

Eddie's grin faded and Richie's stomach did a backflip. He went too far, didn't he?

"You really can," Eddie said, instead of 'beep beep' or 'that's horrible.'

"You tried to save us," he continued. "You tried to save me. And . . . I never thanked you."

He stepped forward again and placed one hand on Richie's shoulder while the other one curled around his neck. Richie's heart seemed to stop beating entirely as Eddie leaned in. His whole body tensed, and then Eddie's lips were brushing against his, and Richie's eyes fell shut. His own hands found their way to Eddie's shirt and curled themselves into the material. He kissed him back furiously, with everything he had hidden away for so long. He felt like he could cry.

Eddie responded to the increased intensity with a soft moan, and he nipped Richie's bottom lip. He was clearly trying to give Richie Tozier a heart attack. When he pulled away, Richie let out a wounded noise at the loss. Eddie's face was flushed, his eyes dark. He wanted this just as badly.

And because Richie never knew when to shut up, he said, "Actually, as a thank you, that's really not gonna cut it."

Eddie laughed and shook his head at him with fond amusement, then shrugged. "Okay."

Richie frowned. "Wait, wha—"

Eddie pushed him backwards. Richie hadn't noticed how close he was to the edge of the bed until his legs hit it and he careened onto the mattress. "Jesus!" he said, sitting up, when Eddie was suddenly over him and pushing him back down.

A thrill of adrenaline and lust shot through Richie as the man he'd been in love with since childhood straddled him and put his mouth to Richie's neck. Eddie sucked and bit what would surely turn into a fucking hickey along Richie's jawline, and Richie felt like the luckiest son of a bitch this side of Vegas. Actually, he amended, as Eddie started on his earlobe, Vegas could get fucked. He was the luckiest idiot in the world.

However, things weren't quite as he'd always imagined them. But he was about to change that.

In a flurry of sudden movement, he grabbed Eddie by the arms and flipped him so their roles were reversed.

"You're injured," he said when Eddie tried to protest. "Which means I get to take care of you, you sexy little hypochondriac."

Eddie spluttered. "I'm not a hypochondriac anymore!"

Richie ignored this. "Besides," he continued, "I have been wanting to do some very nasty things to you for a very long time."

Eddie went quiet, and his eyes fell shut as he bit his lip.

Interesting, Richie noted. He lifted up the hem of Eddie's shirt and tried not to look too closely at the wound on his chest.

"God, you look so dirty like this," he said, watching Eddie's face carefully. Sure enough, the man underneath him squirmed and his eyelids screwed tight. "All laid out for me. I'm going to take my time with you. I know I said I could be good when I want to be, but, well, I don't want to be."

"Oh god, Richie," Eddie moaned. He had probably never done this, never even figured out what he liked. God, Richie barely even knew what he himself liked. All he knew was that he needed to make Eddie moan his name like that again.

"What about you? Can you be good for me?" Richie asked, lowering his head towards Eddie's chest, careful of the bandages.

Eddie bit out some kind of sound, but it wasn't clear.

"What was that?" Richie asked, and placed a gentle kiss to Eddie's chest.

"Mm. Yes." Eddie said. And Richie rewarded him by sucking one of his nipples into his mouth, flicking at it with his tongue. Eddie's back arched up off the bed and his hands curled into the sheets beside him.

"O-oh my god," Eddie said. "Why—how—"

Of course no one had ever taken care of him like this in bed. A surge of outrage made Richie lift his hand to the front of Eddie's pajama pants. He quickly came into contact with Eddie's hardened length and he let out a little gasp against Eddie's chest. Eddie returned the sound in kind.

"Oh god, Rich, please," he said, pushing against Richie's hand. And as much as Richie fucking loved that, he clicked his tongue.

"Nuh uh, none of that. Filthy boy. You said you would be good, remember?"

Eddie keened but forced himself to lie flat again.

"There we go. Very good."

He kept licking at Eddie's chest and biting him here and there and his hand slid down the front of Eddie's pants and he paid close attention to the litany of wanton sounds coming from Eddie's mouth. Then he leaned back to tug the pants down before returning to kissing, this time planting each kiss closer and closer to his mark.

Oh god, Eddie had a treasure trail. Fine dark hairs led him down to the 'V' of Eddie's pelvic bone. Richie played with the top of Eddie's boxers for several long seconds. He hooked his fingers into them to tug them down too when Eddie hitched a breath and said, "Wait."

Richie froze, eyes darting up to Eddie's face. Their eyes met and Eddie darted forward to grab Richie's face and pull him into another kiss.

Richie got lost in it for a moment, allowing himself to appreciate being allowed to hold him like this and touch him and show him how much he cared. He was surrounded by the scent of Eddie, the feeling of his arms and the prickle of stubble on his chin.

Eddie's hands were under his shirt all of a sudden, pinching his own nipples and feeling his chest, his sides, sliding up his back only to sink his nails in and scratch their way back down. Richie hissed out Eddie's name and Eddie grinned against his mouth.

"I love you too," he said.

Richie pulled back just enough so that their foreheads were touching and he could see Eddie's eyes. He couldn't keep the smile off his face or the tears from pricking at the corners of his eyes.

"Holy shit," he said. "Say it again."

Eddie was smiling too, and his lip trembled. "I love you, Trashmouth."

"I fucking love you, too, Spaghetti."

They kissed again, and Eddie pulled his shirt the rest of the way off. Richie did the same and then eased Eddie onto his back again so he could finish what he started.

He tugged Eddie's boxers down and sat back for a moment, just looking.

"Take a picture, it'll last longer," Eddie said shakily.

Richie nodded like he was thinking about it, then started to pull out his phone. "You know, that's actually not a bad idea," he said. Eddie launched upwards and snatched the phone away.

"Don't you fucking dare," he said.

Richie laughed so loud he worried someone in the neigbouring rooms might have heard him.

"Of course I wouldn't. Damn, Kasprak, what kind of sicko do you take me for?" He wiggled his eyebrows suggestively, then leaned down and put his mouth around the tip of Eddie's cock.

Eddie gasped out a loud moan, breathing hard. So Richie slid down, taking in almost the full length, then just as quickly bobbed back up. He smirked as Eddie let out a series of pants and other soft, sweet noises that he would remember for the rest of his days.

"You're being so good," he said, just for added measure, and sucked the tip into his mouth again, letting his lips wrap around Eddie tight.

Then he heard the click.

He looked up to find his own phone pointed at him, and behind it, Eddie's shit-eating grin.

Richie's jaw dropped and he leaned away from Eddie.

"Did you just . . . ?"

"You're welcome."

Richie couldn't believe this. "Are you serious?" He reached for the phone but Eddie held it out over the far side of the bed. "You don't mind me having that on my phone?" he asked.

"Wouldn't have taken it if I wasn't. Besides, I could always get you to delete it later."

"Oh yeah? What makes you so sure?"

Eddie wiggled his hips, making his erection bob about obscenely. "I have my ways."

"You have a point," Richie said, then waited. Eddie saw the look on his face and frowned.

"Oh my god, was that a fucking dad joke? About my dick?"

Richie just hummed noncommittally and went back to sucking Eddie's dick with renewed enthusiasm. Eddie's hands fell back to the mattress and that's when Richie pounced on the cell phone again. Eddie's eyes flew open.

"Relax, I won't take one unless you say I can," he said. "But also, like, pretty please?"

Eddie shut his eyes again, smiling like you do when someone is being annoying and cute at the same time and you don't know whether to punch them or kiss them.

"One," he said, "So you'd better time it well."

Challenge accepted, Richie thought smugly.

So he reached down and started jerking Eddie off while his other hand held up the phone. At first, Eddie tried to resist, keeping his eyes open and turning his face away as much as he could. But soon Richie's ministrations had him moaning again and biting his lip, and it was then that Richie took the picture.

He turned the phone around to show Eddie, and instead of barking an insult or grabbing the phone to delete it, he licked his lips.

"Woah," he said. "That's . . . really fucking hot."

Richie nodded enthusiastically. "You're kind of gorgeous, did you know that?"

"I didn't," Eddie said. "Tell me how beautiful you find me, Richie."

Tears pricked at Richie's eyes again. This was all . . . overwhelming. At Eddie's worried look he laughed at himself. The last thing he wanted was to kill the mood.

"Sorry, I just . . ." He pushed his glasses up and put the phone on the bed. "I can't believe I'm allowed to touch you. Kiss you. All that good stuff. When we were younger . . . I had to tell myself I didn't want stuff like this. That it was wrong or—"

"Dirty," Eddie finished.

Richie stared at him, and Eddie stared back. They smiled weirdly. Richie really wasn't alone. He felt like such a fool for ever thinking he was.

"Yeah. Dirty," Richie repeated, and at the same time, he ran his thumb over the tip of Eddie's dick. Eddie gasped, and Richie again thought of the stupid name he'd come up with before. Gasp-brak. He grinned and lowered himself between Eddie's legs. "Eddie, this is just so wrong. So bad. I don't know if I can do it."

Eddie keened and gripped the sheets tight again. Richie grabbed one of those hands and felt Eddie's fingers clamp down on his own like he was barely holding on.

"You're just so beautiful," Richie mumbled, kissing the base. "So sexy. Hot and slutty and willing."

"Oh," Eddie breathed. "Rich. Please. Fuck." His dick twitched and Richie swiped a long line up the shaft.

"I could never resist you, Eds. You're like the worst temptation. Want to ruin these hotel sheets. Want to paint my body with your sweat, your cum."

Eddie shivered and let out a rattling sigh. "Please, please, please."

"The magic word," said Richie, and sank his lips around Eddie, sucked and licking and pressing with his tongue.

Eddie was already moaning like he couldn't take any more, and he let go of Richie's hand to curl into his hair, tugging and tightening when Richie sank further down around his cock.

"Fff-fuck," Eddie managed. "R-Rich, I'm not gonna last, umf, long."

"That's okay, baby," Richie said, pulling away to lick the tip again. "I've got you."

He reached around to grab Eddie's firm ass with one hand and went back to sucking him off in long uneven drags. He squeezed Eddie's ass cheek and moved one finger closer to Eddie's hole. Eddie gasped again, and his nails dug into Richie's scalp. Richie paused.

"Yes," Eddie breathed. And Richie started rubbing circles around Eddie's puckered flesh, then pressed in as he picked up the pace with his mouth.

And that was it. Eddie's hand tightened into his hair again and he let out a long, hoarse groan as he came. Richie was expecting it, but the rush of warm bitter liquid still managed to surprise him. He swallowed before he could think about it, and kept his mouth around Eddie without sucking, just licking the remnants off with his tongue.

He leaned back and licked his lips and tried to commit the noises that Eddie was making to memory.

"Fuck," he said when he was able to compose human speech again. "Is that the real reason you're called Trashmouth?"

Richie huffed a laugh. "Yeah, at thirteen I was giving blowjobs like you wouldn't believe."

"Ew, Richie, beep beep." Eddie looked down at him with that annoyed-but-adoring smile. "Besides, I meant the dirty talk."

"Oh," Richie said, scrambling over to flop down beside Eddie. "You know, I've never actually even tried dirty talk before, but I think I like it."

"Me too," Eddie said. Richie could have guessed that but it still felt good to hear it out loud.

Richie closed his eyes and enjoyed the moment. For exactly three seconds before Eddie spoke again.

"What do you think you are you doing?"

Richie yawned. "This is what middle aged dudes do after sex. They fall asleep embarrassingly fast."

Eddie laughed. A second later, Richie felt his hand on his erection, rubbing and rubbing hard. He jerked to attention in more ways than one and opened his eyes.

"Are you sure?"

Eddie got onto his knees and started undoing Richie's jeans. "I'm sure," he said. "For one thing, we can't say we had sex if you're fully clothed and still hard."

Richie tried to think of an argument, just because, but every thought left his head when Eddie got impatient and shoved his hand down the front of Richie's boxers and took him in hand. He stroked him once, twice, then withdrew his hand and finished pulling Richie's pants and boxers down in one fell swoop.

He wrenched Richie's shirt up and ran a hand up and down his chest like he wanted to feel every part of his body but didn't have time. Richie was far from complaining. He looked up at Eddie silently, wonderingly, like a man might worship a god if that god were working through years of repression in an attempt to get the man off.

Eddie's other hand went back to steadily pumping Richie's dick, and suddenly Richie wasn't being silent anymore. He was out of dick jokes and actual sentences, but his mouth worked even when his brain didn't.

"Fuck, god, Eddie," he said, the string of words punctuated by grunts and moans and sighs. "Holy . . . you're so beautiful. Like, ugh, like an angel. Shit."

Eddie leaned down to suck at Richie's jaw again, working his way down sloppily to his jugular and his collar bone. Richie bucked his hips and felt the first flutter of his coming orgasm. Neither of them would last long today, it would seem.

Like teenagers, he realized. Like their bodies were making up for lost time.

"Eds," he moaned as his hips rocked forward into Eddie's hand and he came, long stripes hitting Eddie's stomach and falling back onto his. Eddie didn't flinch or gag or anything, just let Richie ride it out before planting another kiss at the corner of his mouth.

Richie grabbed Eddie's head and kissed him fully. Eddie moaned into it and Richie thrust his tongue in, flicking at his teeth and sliding along Eddie's own tongue. Eddie grunted and moaned again, lower in his throat, and pushed against him. Their mouths came away from one another with swollen lips and a line of spit between them.

"Wow, you can really kiss," Eddie said.

"Wow, you can really jerk a guy off," Richie retorted and shivered when Eddie ghosted a hand along his spent cock.

Eddie gave him another quick kiss and rolled over.

"We're gonna shower, then we're gonna cuddle, and then we're gonna sleep," he said like he was reading off an official itinerary. He plucked his boxers off the ground where they had been discarded and slapped Richie's thigh. "Come on."

"Damn, give me a minute," Richie said. "That was . . . a lot."

A pause. "In a good way?" Eddie asked uncertainly.

"Of course," Richie said. "But I need a moment to process it all. Everything happened so quickly."

Eddie nodded. "I think I know what you mean. I, uh, I'm sorry for pouncing on you. Twice."

"Holy shit, don't be. That was amazing. Like, kind of everything I've ever wanted. So thank you."

Eddie breathed a sigh of relief. "Okay," he said. "Well, I for one need to process without being covered in your jizz, so I'm gonna hop in the shower and you are more than free to join me if you want to."

Richie gave him a thumbs up. Less than a minute later, he heard the water running, and a glass door shut.

No more dirty little secret, he told himself. He grinned and turned over to laugh delightedly into the blankets. He had never felt more free. The elation quickly gave way to tears and he didn't even try to analyze them. He just let himself cry.

After a couple minutes, he shakily got to his feet and joined Eddie in the shower. Eddie didn't ask him if he'd been crying, just made room for him and smiled.

"Do you know, I had been waiting to kiss you all day," he said, reaching for the cedar body wash.

"No you hadn't," Richie accused.

"I had. And I'd been thinking about since yesterday, too. See, it's starting to come back to me. And I remembered what you said. In It's lair."

Richie swallowed. "You do?"

Eddie smirked and nodded shyly, despite the fact that they were literally buck naked in front of one another, and had just finished swapping a variety of bodily fluids.

"Eddie, don't go. You can't leave me again. I love you. I fucking love you."

Eddie repeated his initial tear-stained broken-hearted words of confession perfectly. Verbatim. Like he had memorized them.

Richie kissed Eddie again and smiled against his mouth. "I meant it."

Eddie smiled too. "I love you too, you giant dork."

After the shower, they got changed and climbed into bed. Eddie wasted no time and immediately wriggled into Richie's arms. "I call being little spoon first," he declared, as casually as he might have called shotgun. Richie planted a kiss into Eddie's damp hair and allowed himself to wrap his arms around the other man. One hand rested on Eddie's belly, and with his other had ran a finger lazily up and down Eddie's side.

"If you start to tickle me again like we were kids, I will leave," Eddie warned. He pushed his feet up past Richie's knees so their legs were folded together.

"I love you," Richie said again, softly.

"I know."

"Okay, Han Solo."

"I love you too, doofus."

A horrible thought struck Richie. "Um, could you write in your journal that this all happened? 'Cause if you forget this again I am going to jump off the nearest bridge."

"I won't forget," Eddie promised. Then he reached over the side of the bed for his bag and pulled out the journal anyways. "But just in case. Also, if I do forget, you have to promise to keep telling me how you feel. Because then at least, we can keep having amazing first-time sex."

"Ooh, amazing, you say?"

Eddie swatted him with that ridiculous magenta pen. Richie saw over his shoulder that Eddie was writing, Richie loves you too. Fuck him! He has an incredible mouth.

Richie was blushing. "Oh my god, that's going on my tombstone."

Eddie threw the journal back onto the floor and wriggled backwards so he was flush against Richie's body. "Promise," he urged.

It took him a second to realize what he was talking about. "I promise," he said.

But Eddie didn't forget. Not that at least. Not Richie or the fact that they were in love with one another or that they'd gotten each other off. But that didn't stop them from having a few other first times in the middle of the night, and then again the next morning.

However, that following afternoon when they were talking about their plans and Richie gently reminded him what the name of the diner had been, Eddie had startled and asked him, "Right so, uh, when did Bill and Mike start fucking? 'Cause I definitely don't remember that."

And Richie realized they had a phone call to make and some questions to ask. But in the meantime he held Eddie's hand and made a joke about a foursome that made Eddie punch him in the arm and call him a loser.

"You know it, Eds," he said. Then, "Always."

Chapter Text

It had been a little over a month since Eddie's stint in the hospital. His memory had drastically improved, but he still had trouble with things sometimes and Richie made sure to remind him of his appointments and job interviews.

Richie'd had a lot of explaining to do but soon he had new shows booked and there was even talk of a Netflix special. However, Richie insisted that he start collaborating with the writers again, until it was mainly his own material and the rest of the team polished it up. Soon, he hoped, he wouldn't even need a team, just a basic editor to catch any little details he messed up on.

At first, Eddie had talked about getting his own place in L.A., arguing that yes they were best friends and now something a little bit more, but it was still too soon to move in together. After all, they hadn't even officially had the 'boyfriend-boyfriend' talk. But then he had crashed at Richie's and he hadn't even slept on the couch. And all of the places he could afford were 'not good enough for my Eds,' as Richie put it. (And boy had Eddie blushed when he heard him say 'my Eds.')

Soon enough, he had stopped checking Craigslist and unpacked his things there, and Richie bought another dresser for his clothes.

A week into them unofficially living together, Eddie had turned to Richie as they squabbled about where to go for dinner and asked earnestly, "Are you my boyfriend?"

It took seeing Richie's look of absolute horror to realize exactly what he had said and when he had said it last. Eddie clapped his hands over his mouth and shook his head.

"Holy shit, no, sorry, Rich, I didn't forget I swear to god!"

Richie started laughing, the tension broken, and he leaned down to press his forehead to Eddie's with nothing but affection.

"Of course I'm your boyfriend," he said, closing his eyes and smiling. Then, he added, "if you want to be, that is." He opened his eyes again, his smile turning shy. "Are you my boyfriend, Eddie Spaghetti Kaspbrak?"

"That's my name, don't wear it out," Eddie answered. Richie didn't laugh, but instead pouted as he waited on Eddie's answer.

"I'm your boyfriend," he said with a sigh. He slid their noses together and brought his lips close to Richie's without actually touching them. Richie made a soft sound of want in the back of his throat and pushed his head closer to Eddie's, but Eddie tilted his chin to the side, just out of reach.

"Mm, you can't say that and then not let me kiss you," Richie whined, his breath huffing out warm on Eddie's skin. He kissed the bit of Eddie's face that was available to him—his cheek, his jaw—and Eddie shivered, tilting his chin more so Richie could have more access. He still wasn't sure how it could be like this between them. Richie just . . . did things to him.

Richie's breath was at his ear now, and he caught himself before he gasped, but just barely.

"You're such a rotten little tease, Edward Kaspbrak."

Eddie swallowed. Richie, an utter bastard who knew exactly what he was doing, grinned against his skin, open-mouthed—Eddie could feel his teeth—and then he scraped those teeth against Eddie's neck. Eddie did let out a moan at this and Richie made a satisfied sound that had Eddie grabbing his face and mashing their mouths together in a bruising kiss.

Richie used his height to his advantage and bore down on Eddie until the smaller man was lying on his back on the countertop, his legs circling around Richie's waist. "God, I love you," Richie murmured as he started taking Eddie's shirt off. Eddie leaned forward and lifted his arms compliantly, feeling almost drunk on want.

"Well, I would sure hope my boyfriend loved me," Eddie said with a lazy grin. Richie responded by tugging Eddie's hips towards him so his ass was flush against Richie's groin. As he'd expected, Richie was hard. He pushed against him and let his mouth fall open and watched in delight as Richie's did the same.

"Who knew my boyfriend was such a little whore," Richie said, even as his hips stuttered forward. His voice was shaky, too.

"God, shut up and do me already, Trashmouth," Eddie moaned.

"Oh, well since you demand so nicely," said Richie, and he finally started unzipping Eddie. "Only the best for my boyfriend."

Eddie smiled and lay back on the cool countertop, trying to quiet the little voice at the back of his mind that was whispering reminders about kitchen hygiene and how unsanitary this surface was about to become. If anything, the wrongness of it was just fuelling his hard-on.

You're a sick guy, he told himself, but in the same way Richie played with words, smiling at his own secondary meaning.

Speaking of Richie, that was his hand on Eddie's junk.

At some point, he had gotten his own pants around his ankles and was alternating between pumping his own cock and pumping his boyfriend's. Then his hand started reaching across the counter for the olive oil and Eddie practically yelped.

"I don't fucking think so, Tozier!" he snapped.

Richie blinked at him. "What? It's how the Romans did it."

"Do you see me in a goddamn toga?"

The bastard smirked. "I don't see you in anything, actually."

"You are not using the fucking olive oil."

Richie didn't lose his smirk. His hand retracted, only for him to lift it up to his mouth and start licking two of his fingers, all the while making eye contact with Eddie. When Eddie refused to react, he started sucking on them. Eddie's hips jerked and Richie's erection brushed against his own, and he struggled to control his breathing.

"G-gross," he managed. "No way, not sp-spit."

It was all an act and Richie knew it. "Would you rather I leave you here like this so I can go get the lube?" he asked. "Leave you here, spread out, hard, and panting like a dog for me to get back here and give it to you good?"

Eddie's face was burning up. He pressed the back of his head into the counter to keep control of himself.

"Well?" Richie asked.

"F-fucker."

"I will be, I promise, but first you have to answer me."

Eddie bit his lip and whined, knowing it drove Richie wild to see him acting like such a brat. Richie pursed his lips and reached down but still waited.

"Just fucking touch me, please," Eddie said quickly, needing Richie's hands on him again.

"As my good little slut commands," said Richie, and pushes one finger in. It's slick and cool and Eddie does gasp, and he's barely gotten used to one when the second is added and then Richie's hand is moving, thrusting, curling and pressing until he gets to Eddie's prostate and Eddie keens and starts pushing back onto Richie's hand.

Then Richie removes his hand and replaces it with the head of his dick, but before he starts pushing into him he wraps his fingers around Eddie's neglected erection and starts stroking.

Eddie already feels like he's losing it by the time Richie thrusts into him and starts a broken, slow pace to let Eddie adjust. "More," Eddie says, and Richie groans at the sound of his voice. He spits on his hand, coating his dick before going back in with deeper thrusts. Eddie moans and sighs as Richie's movements get faster and more erratic, and he reaches down to touch himself, but Richie stops suddenly.

"Don't," he says.

Eddie wiggles and frowns. "Then you do it, come on. Touch me."

"Not yet," Richie insists, then grabs Eddie's wrist and holds it down on the counter, looking into Eddie's eyes as he continues thrusting into him. Eddie can feel the dampness of Richie's hand and he whines in protest, but they both know he loves it.

It quickly becomes apparent that Richie is barely holding on. His forehead is coated in sweat and his eyes fall shut and he grunts as he comes, and Eddie still isn't used to that feeling, but he feels the beginning of his own orgasm, even without Richie's helping hand, as it were.

Then Richie starts to move away and Eddie makes a sound to signify his outrage, but it's cut off abruptly when Richie leans down and starts sucking him off.

Eddie was already sensitive from the thorough fucking he just received, but combined with the orgasm denial and the dirty talk and his damn emotions getting the better of him, Eddie comes within less than a minute.

Richie wipes his hand on his leg and Eddie is suddenly itching for them to get into the shower. His whole body is shaking though, and Richie helps him down off the counter so they can sit down, side by side, on the kitchen floor with their backs against the cupboards.

"Stop thinking about how soon you can Lysol this place and kiss me," Richie says. Eddie laughs because that was uncannily close to what he was just thinking, and does as his boyfriend asks.

"So I think we should just order a pizza," he says nonchalantly, like their previous argument was never side-tracked.

Richie hums happily. "Sure thing, baby-cakes."

"Oh, nuh-uh."

"What, snookums?"

"I'll kill you, Rich. I swear I'll do it."

"That's what you say every time, sweet-bottom."

"Sweet-bottom?!"

"Look, we're boyfriends now, I have to give you gross pet names. It's part of the job description."

They continued in this way for some time before finally deciding to clean the kitchen and make something at home.

#

And that was three weeks ago. Now Eddie is waking up with Richie's arms around him, the memory of him asking Richie "are you my boyfriend" fresh in his mind.

He still has nightmares of the dark, of the lights, of the blood and the damn clown and all the other horrors It appeared to them as. Richie does too. But now, whenever one of them wakes with screams on their lips and sweat slicking their foreheads and the worst kind of memories nipping at their heels, the other is there to hold them until they stop shaking. The last time Eddie'd had one, Richie had whispered the lyrics of their favourite songs from the 80's and 90's and ran his fingers through his hair until Eddie, with tears in his eyes, had fallen asleep again.

He snuggles his chin into Richie's chest, breathing in deep. Richie always wears these ratty old t-shirts to bed, mainly band shirts and dorky oversized things with characters from various sci-fi shows on them. Right now, he has one for Doctor Who, a show that, despite Richie's praises, Eddie just can't get into. Eddie opens his eyes to see that ugly garbage can-looking monster and hears a soft huff above him. He looks up and sees Richie grinning sleepily down at him.

"Your bony-ass jaw just about damaged my ribcage there, Eds."

"All jaws are bony, Richie. That's like saying my hip bone is bony."

Richie hums, and Eddie finds a hand suddenly travelling along his waist towards his pelvis and all PG-rated thoughts of anatomy flee from his mind.

"All this talk of bones is making it really hard to think," Richie says.

And, as he so often does, Richie kills the mood with a stupid joke. Eddie purses his lips and gives Richie a quick kiss, then slaps him on the ass.

"Ooh, frisky this morning," Richie purrs, but he can tell that door has closed so he props himself up on one arm to watch as Eddie starts getting ready.

"Come on. Get out of bed, Rich," Eddie is saying as he starts tugging on the pair of pants he had laid out the day before. "We have company coming over later, remember?"

Richie frowns hard for a moment, forehead creasing adorably, before his eyebrows shoot back up.

"Fuck, right! Happy Halloween, Eddie-boo!"

"Ugh." Eddie grimaces and buttons up his shirt. "That's the worst one yet."

Richie's giving him a once-over, and Eddie might have thought he was just checking him out, which he does embarassingly often and regardless of how many other people can see him doing it. But he's doing this sour-lemon thing with his mouth, and Eddie puts his hands on his hips.

"What. What is it?"

Richie sniffs. "Nothing. It's just . . . not very festive."

"Yeah? Well, I don't know what to tell you, Richie, except that I'm not twelve anymore and I'm not going to dress up as a Jedi or cover myself in blood."

Richie pouts. "But it's Halloween, Eddie. Our first Halloween as a couple."

He's whining, and Eddie rolls his eyes but he can't quite keep the smile tugging at his lips at bay.

"Fine. I'll run down to the store and see if I can get something tasteful but it's last minute and don't think you can pull that couple card on me for every holiday. I don't care what you say, we are not doing a weird generic Christmas card for our friends and family."

When Richie starts whining again, Eddie throws a pair of balled-up socks at him and leaves to go start making breakfast.

He had already let Richie decorate their apartment to his heart's content, and regrets it thoroughly already. There are garish orange and black streamers of alternating jack-o-lanterns and bats, stupid, cartoony little paper ghosts hung from the ceiling, and there's a gigantic black spider web tablecloth covering their coffee table. Not to say anything about the doormat he'd gotten that reads, 'abandon hope, all ye who enter here.'

He can't understand why Richie even likes Halloween. None of them watch horror movies, for obvious reasons, and too often Halloween has something triggering, like the fake blood or the kids in clown makeup, or even people dressing up as something as tame as lumberjacks.

As he moves some eggs about a pan with a spatula, Richie comes up behind him and wraps his arms around Eddie, tucking his head into the space between Eddie's neck and shoulder.

"What'cha thinking about?"

Eddie smiles and ruffles Richie's hair. "Just about your inexplicable love for this holiday which, by all rights, you should hate."

Richie huffs a breath against Eddie's skin. "Don't you remember when we were kids? And we would go trick-or-treating and stay up night watching stupid shit like Nightmare on Elm Street, gorging ourselves on cheap chocolate?"

"Richie, Nightmare on Elm Street is, like, disturbingly similar to what we literally went through."

"Okay, well we weren't always traumatized, you know. There was a point when all of this—" he gestures to the living room behind them— "was fun. And, I don't know, I would like to get that back. We defeated It. At a great cost. And It took twenty-seven years of all of our lives, Eds. I don't want to give It anything else. It's dead."

Richie had let go of him as he talked and now he turned away completely, gripping the island's countertop. His shoulders are shaking, just a little, but Eddie feels a wave of guilt tear through him. He reaches a hand out, forgetting the scrambled eggs, and rubs Richie's back.

"I'm sorry. You're right. Fuck that fucking clown. Okay? We deserve this. By god, I will enjoy the shit out of Halloween for the first time in almost thirty years or die try—"

He goes silent, eyes wide, and Richie spins around so fast Eddie has to take a step back. He opens his mouth to apologize, to say he didn't mean it, but Richie's laughing delightedly.

"The fuck?!" he cries. "Eddie, how dare you!"

Eddie laughs too, Richie's manic laughter weirdly contagious. "Sorry, sorry!" He raises his hands in surrender. "I wasn't thinking."

"Jesus!"

Eddie takes the opportunity to step into Richie's space and hug him. They're both shaking now, but with laughter, and Eddie couldn't be more pleased with his accidental distraction.

"Uh, are those eggs burning?" Richie asks, and Eddie jumps away to save their breakfast.

After they eat (and he did manage to salvage the eggs, though they were a little overcooked), Eddie says he's going to run down to the store and Richie demands he comes with him to help him pick out something 'cool.'

Eddie can't possibly imagine what Richie's idea of a 'cool' Halloween costume might be, but he shudders at the possibilities.

They walk down aisles of nightmare-fuel and Eddie tries his best to appreciate it the way he might of when he was a kid. They had, after all, grown up at a time when most kids had their moms sew a costume for them or throw a sheet over themselves with two holes cut out for eyes. So most of the stuff here is a giant step up from those days. But some of it is genuinely creepy, and he actually has to look away from a few of the masks on display.

Luckily, Richie keeps pointing out all the really stupid costumes, like the big inflatable Yoshi. He also keeps picking out the skimpy 'girl' costumes and offering them to Eddie like they are a realistic option. He wiggles his eyebrows as he models the 'sexy nurse' outfit against himself and Eddie is just about ready to slap him right then and there in the store.

At one point, Richie disappears, and Eddie does his best to keep shopping without him, and ends up wandering through the decoration section so he doesn't keep having to look at all the damn serial killer outfits and monster heads. Richie finds him again with a bag in his hand, and a shy smile on his face.

"Come on," he says, gesturing toward the exit with his head. "Let's get out of here."

Eddie eyes him suspiciously. "What are you up to now, Tozier?"

Richie's smile deepens, but he just shrugs. "I'll show you later. Let's go grab a coffee."

On the way out, Eddie warns him that if it's the sexy nurse costume, he will smother him in his sleep. Richie, enigmatically, says nothing, and it's so unlike him that Eddie changes the subject.

Finally, when they get back home, Eddie asks to see the stupid thing already, and Richie hands him the bag and wanders into their bedroom.

Eddie looks in the bag.

"No fucking way."

He pulls the shirt—if it could even be called that—out of the bag and holds it up, wheezing. It's so stupid. It's maybe the stupidest thing he's ever seen, and he can't believe it exists.

The base shirt is red, but there are long yellowy-y fake pasta noodles draped over it, with huge brown pompoms to represent meatballs.

Eddie Spaghetti.

He almost drops it he's laughing so hard, and that's when Richie comes out of the bedroom.

Never in the twenty-odd years of his adult life has Eddie Kasprak come so close to pissing himself.

Richie did obviously give in to temptation and buy the 'sexy' version of his chosen costume. He's in a—far too short—white dress with huge buttons and poofy sleeves, and he has a tall white chef's hat on, as well as, incongruously, a large black moustache. In his hand is an oversized wooden spatula.

"'Ey, it's my old friend, Eddie Spaghetti!" he cries, putting on an Italian accent which is actually kind of good. But Eddie is too busy cry-laughing to tell him this. Richie watches him for a moment before he too is cracking up.

"I've always wanted to do a cheezy couple's costume," he says a few minutes later, as they're wiping tears of mirth from their eyes and Eddie has called him an idiot seven whole times. "But there was never anyone else I wanted to do it with."

"That's cheezy," Eddie tells him, but pecks him on the cheek.

And just for good measure, he calls him an idiot again.

#

It's a quarter to seven when the doorbell rings, and Eddie, thinking it's the first round of trick-or-treaters, rushes to the door with a handful of candy as Richie watches in amusement.

The door swings open to reveal Ben and Beverly on their knees with hands outstretched in front of them.

"Trick or treat!" Ben yells, while at the same time Bev screeches, "Happy Halloween" in a weird, shrill voice. Ben is dressed as a sailor, and Bev is a pirate with an eye-patch and everything.

Eddie shakes his head at them and hands them each a piece of candy. They both gasp dramatically and stand up to pull him into a hug.

"Gee, thanks, mister!" Bev says in the same voice, and he shakes her off.

"That's, like, hella creepy, Bev," he says, even as tries to go in for another hug. Richie comes to the door and they release Eddie to swoop in and embrace him next. He holds on too long and when he finally lets them go they all have tears in their eyes.

"Fuck, I hope we aren't always this damn sapppy around one another," Richie says, blinking rapidly.

"As long as we have you to make fun of us for it, I think it'll be okay," Eddie promises him.

Bev pulls away to look Richie up and down, then looks back at Eddie. "What the hell are you two wearing?" she asks.

They ignore her and usher their friends inside. Ben is immediately delighted to see that Casper is playing. "I loved this movie!" he exclaims with genuine excitement and sits down on the couch. Richie gives Bev an overexaggeratedly disgusted face and she giggles. 

Eddie points out the bowls of various candies and assures them that dinner is almost ready. There's plenty of wine and whiskey, beer, and some gin that Richie'd found at the back of the pantry the day before. Bev is just explaining to them that somebody from the building had just let them in, no questions asked and Eddie starts going off about security violations.

Then the doorbell rings again and this time it is trick-or-treaters. A few minutes later, though, Bill and Mike are buzzing and shouting to let them in, it's freezing outside.

Incredibly, Mike is dressed as a police officer and Bill as a robber, which means that they literally all decided to go with couple's costumes. Mike and Bill still haven't admitted to anything officially, and Eddie thinks it's because they don't want to steal any thunder from Richie's and his big revelation last month that they were both, as Richie had said, 'super gay for one another and something of an item,' followed by a wink-face in the group chat.

Also, seeing as Bev had immediately initiated a group video chat to congratulate them, maybe Mike and Bill want to keep it under wraps for a little while longer to avoid a similar scenario. That doesn't stop everyone from giving them sly looks throughout the night.

After Casper, Richie puts on Hocus Pocus, and when everyone groans he threatens to put on Halloweentown instead. Everyone pipes down, but Eddie can't help but notice that all of the movies Richie has lined up are tame, fun kids' movies.

By the end of the night, everyone's costumes are in disarray and they've all eaten too much. They're watching the first Harry Potter movie when Bill falls asleep and they draw a moustache on him with black sharpie. They'd already talked the rest of the Losers into having a good old-fashioned sleepover beforehand, and Richie insisted that included the childish rules of drawing on the first person to fall asleep. The others are too drunk by this point to be more mature than Richie, so they comply with fits of giggles that have Bill stirring in his sleep.

Mike is watching him fondly, and Eddie nudges Mike's knee with his own. At some point, Richie, Ben, and Mike decided to swap hats, so Mike reaches up adjust his sailor's cap as he blushes.

"I love him, man."

Eddie smiles and nods as solemnly as he can. "We know."

"I haven't actually told him, yet," Mike admits. "But I think I'm going to tell him on our flight back."

Richie mumbles something about the mile high club, and Bev kicks him. Richie responds by tipping his police hat and threatening to arrest her for crimes against kitchen staff.

"That's really sweet, man," Ben says, kind of dreamily. His eyes are fixed on the screen, but he is more invested in the conversation than the antics of Harry, Ron, and Hermione. "I'm so glad we've all found one another again. Like, we all match up so perfectly."

There's an awkward silence, during which Eddie's sure they're all thinking about Stan.

"We could try holding a seance," Richie suggests, and unanimously the others all shout, "No!"

Richie looks chastened. "I guess a ouija board is also out of the question?"

"Beep beep," says Bill, sitting up. No one says anything about the moustache.

"I just . . . we don't know. It could work. A-and . . . and I miss him," Richie says. He takes a long swig of his drink.

"I'm sure he's here with us," Bev says, reaching over to grab his hand. "We don't need to do any creepy shit to disturb him. Okay?"

Richie nods.

The last of the pumpkin candles snuffs out.

They all look round at one another, eyes wide, and suddenly Eddie is feeling a whole lot more sober than he was three seconds ago.

Richie is staring at the candle, and it takes about one more second for him to hunch over and start crying helplessly.

"You were the best of us, Stan," he murmurs, and Eddie swears he can feel another presence in the room, but to be fair, he's had about five beers and at least three shots. He moves to hug Richie and then they all are, and everything feels both okay and not okay at once.

"Stan the man," says Bill.

"Hold on," Ben says, and he fetches the last bottle of wine and pours some into six cups, handing one back to each of them. "To Stan the man," he says, and lifts his glass in a toast.

"To Stan."

They drink, and Mike adds, "Happy Halloween, buddy."

Eventually, though, the wine is gone, and all the other drinks and candy are gone, and the credits are rolling on the second Harry Potter. Mike and Bill are both asleep on the couch, curled around one another, and Bev and Ben are outside on the patio as Bev has her 'last cigarette ever.'

It's just Eddie and Richie again. Richie's lost the police hat somewhere and he's just in the moustache and the dress now, and Eddie can't help but think he looks weirdly sexy after all. Not that he's going to tell him that, of course.

"I think we need to get you out of this, pronto," he says instead.

Richie grins at him. "We need to get you out of that. You've uh, got some spaghetti sauce on your shirt."

"I hate you."

"No you don't. You loooooove me."

"Ugh."

He tugs Richie into their bedroom and shuts the door. Richie immediately presses him against it and kisses him sloppily. Eddie laughs and pushes him off.

"The others could hear."

"Meh, I say let 'em. They're all perverts, anyways."

"What? That doesn't even make s—" Richie cuts him off with another kiss, this one sweeter and deeper.

"I love you," he murmurs, pulling away.

Eddie sighs contentedly. "I love you too. Dummy."

He plays with the noodles on his ridiculous costume, feeling nervous without really knowing why. "Actually, I have a bit of news I wanted to share with you . . ."

Richie gasps. "You're pregnant!"

Eddie lets out an exasperated noise. "I got a job?"

Richie's shocked expression becomes a genuine one, and he hugs Eddie suddenly, squeezing a little too hard. "Oh my god, Eds, that's amazing! What is it? Where is it?"

Eddie's smiling so wide he's not sure he can talk, but he manages to say, "Document coding, for a law firm downtown. I know it probably sounds just as dull as risk—"

"No, that's awesome!" Richie says, and Eddie is startled to find that he still looks like he's being genuine. "That's like, kind of related to your previous work, but it won't encourage your old bad habits or anything. And I bet you'll have to wear a suit, and you'll look hot, so there's that too."

Eddie scoffs and tries to think of what to say to that, but then Richie's continuing anyways. "Crap, I guess that means you won't always be home when I am anymore. 'Spose we should take advantage of the time we have left."

He starts steering a protesting Eddie towards the bed with a newly determined look in his eyes.

"I don't start until next week," Eddie is laughing as he tumbles onto the bedspread. Richie is hovering over him, though, and damn it but he still makes Eddie's knees weak when he looks at him like this.

"O-okay," he says. But now Richie has his thinking face on.

"Who do you think will get married first?" he asks.

Eddie is gobsmacked. That is miles away from anything he thought Richie might say just then.

"I mean, Beverly and I are still technically married to other people, and Mike and Bill haven't even told us they're together yet . . ."

Richie is nodding. Then his brain seems to catch up with his mouth and his eyes go wide as saucers.

"Oh my god, I was not trying to like, pressure you or anything. I mean, It's probably like way too soon to even have that conversation and I think I'm saying 'like' too much right now, I sound like a teenage girl from the early—"

"Stop, shh, shh, stop, it's okay," Eddie soothes him. But there are butterflies in his stomach because Richie Tozier is, at least on some level, thinking of spending the rest of his life with Eddie. And he kind of knew this, but hadn't properly had a chance to think about it before now. He does definitely, one hundred percent want to marry this idiot, this absolute loser. So he rubs his chin as he considers how best to change the topic . . . for now.

In the end, he goes for the easiest option and swoops towards Richie's mouth, bringing him down to thoroughly kiss him.

"Cute, cute, cute," Richie whispers against Eddie's mouth. "Eddie Kasprak, you will have my heart forever."

It's maybe the sweetest thing Richie has ever said, and Eddie doesn't know if he would have said it if he'd been sober, but he finds he really doesn't care, because he said it.

"You'll always have mine too," he says, and he knows its a promise. Richie curls around him the same way Mike and Bill were on their couch, the way he's sure Beverly and Ben will when they go to sleep, the way they used to when they were clueless kids sleeping over at their best friend's house and trying to sort through their confused emotions. Richie holds him as he falls asleep and he doesn't let go.

Eddie knows he never will.