Richie was nervous. He sat cross-legged, staring at the dancing flames of the bonfire as he tapped his thigh anxiously, ignoring his friends around him. All he could think about was how badly he wanted to go home now- just be anywhere else but here. He could feel Stan’s eyes on him, boring holes into his skull. Richie was nervous and it definitely showed.
“Hello? Earth to Richie!!”
He blinked rapidly, black curls bouncing as he shook his head in an attempt to snap out of the trance he had put himself in. He looked over at Beverly, the source of the voice that brought him back to the reality he didn’t want to be in right now.
“Are you okay, Richie?”
Was he okay? He could hear the genuine concern in her voice, but all he thought about was if he should deflect with a joke like he always did. He could tell her the truth- tell all of his friends the truth. Tell them why he was nervous once the suggestion to play truth or dare was brought up. How just the name of this game they’ve played so many times before made a shiver run down his spine and his heart rate pick up. No, he wasn’t okay, but he would keep that to himself.
“I’m peachy keen Ms. Marsh! Just thinking about Mrs. K and whether I should pay a visit to her tonight!”
He looked over at Eddie, grinning as he sent him a wink, a chorus of “beep beep Richie” sounding off in the background. He couldn’t help but keep staring at Eddie as his cheeks turned red, eyebrows knitting together as he pouted in that exaggerated way that made his chin all wrinkly. He could feel his heart rate continue its rapid beating, no longer from nerves but for the boy in front of him. He loved that pout, loved everything about Eddie. He loved Eddie.
Richie knew this was the reason he hated truth or dare- he feared the day he would be called out on never picking truth. He feared the day he would be forced to pick truth. Richie had what he considered a dirty little secret, one buried deep within him that would never see the light of day if he could help it. That dirty little secret was his love for Eddie Kaspbrak.
Sure, he showed his love for Eddie almost blatantly and no one so much as batted an eye, but it was always quickly played off as a joke. Not once had one of his friends genuinely wondered whether or not his affection towards Eddie was more than platonic. He averted his gaze from Eddie, unable to continue looking at him without beginning to blush himself, and met Stan’s eyes. The knowing look Stan gave him made Richie pause and think, ‘Well, maybe Stan is the only one who’s figured it out.’
He panicked for a second before breaking eye contact, once again looking at the fire in front of him. That was an issue for another day, and Stan wouldn’t call him out on whatever it is he thought he knew in front of their other friends. In fact, Stan would never even confront him one-on-one. He knew that Stan would wait for Richie to come to him first, whenever he was ready.
“I think Richie should go first.”
Richie’s heart skipped a beat at these words. He felt as if a bucket of ice-cold water had been dumped over him as he turned to stare wide-eyed at Eddie. He stood, hands on his hips as he frowned down at Richie. All of a sudden, Richie felt small under his gaze. It felt as if every one of his friends could see the way he practically cowered at the thought of participating in the game he hated so damn much.
He said nothing as they began arguing over who would get to ask Richie the question and if, as he feared, he should even be allowed to choose dare. His saving grace came in the form of Stan, who swiftly shut down the idea of forcing Richie to pick truth. Richie gave him a small smile as they once again made eye contact, nodding his head in thanks.
“Alright trashmouth, truth or dare?”
He looked over at Beverly, who had plopped down next to him, with a weary expression on his face. He studied her, the mischievous grin on her face not going unnoticed by an already alert Richie.
“Dare, obviously. Only pussies choose truth.”
Richie looked pointedly at Eddie, who only crossed his arms and told him to shut up. He waited as Bev reached into her bag, pulling out a small box which she passed to him.
“I dare you to kiss the person whose name you pick out of this box.”
He let out a choked cough, completely surprised by Beverly’s choice of dare. Dares had always felt safe to him, no one would ever dare someone to tell them who they liked or if they’d kissed anyone before, where was the fun in that? Dares had always been skinned knees and awkward bruises, things they could laugh about together later. Dares had never been anything but reckless fun.
“I bet he won’t do it, you can see the fear in his eyes.”
Richie refused to look over at Eddie as a blush began to spread slowly across his face. He couldn’t look at Eddie, not when he knew his emotions would be written clearly on his face. He took a deep breath, schooling his face once again into that classic Richie grin- the one he always used to hide the way he felt. He reached into the box, fingers grazing against the pieces of paper inside as he finally turned to look at Eddie.
“I bet if I pick your name from this box you won’t do it.”
Richie scrambled the papers around before finally picking one, unfolding it slowly for dramatic effect. His breath hitched, stomach dropping at the name on the slip of paper. It was Eddie. Of course it had to be Eddie. It would be his luck that he would get the one person he wanted to kiss, yet also didn’t want to. He turned the paper towards his friends, showing them the name. He met Eddie’s eyes and he could see a mirror of his fear and anxiety in them. Either of them could back out, he knew that.
He sort of didn’t want to. He wanted to know what Eddie’s lips against his own felt like. Whether they would be soft or if they would be slightly chapped despite their appearance. He wanted to cup Eddie’s face in his hands as he slowly deepened the kiss, letting go only when the need to breathe became too much. He sort of didn’t want to back out, and he hoped Eddie didn’t either.
“Are we doing this or what Eds? Who’s the scared one now?”
Richie slowly and unsurely made his way towards Eddie. To his surprise, Eddie met him halfway, fear no longer in his eyes but something that Richie could only describe as determination. Richie’s breath was ragged as Eddie placed his hands around his neck, pulling him down so he could rest his forehead against Richie’s. Eddie smiled softly at him, a different person than he was before when Richie had been teasing him.
“Just shut up and kiss me, Richie.”