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"Eddie, come on! Ju-just hang in there, okay?! We'll get you out-" 

"Eddie, we need you to stay awake!" 

"We need you to fight, you hear me?" 

 

But he was so tired.

He just needed to sleep.

Why couldn't he just take a nap?

It would be quick. He just needed to close his eyes... 

His friend’s voices were so far away and they kept slipping further, his eyes getting heavier-

"Don't you dare die on me Eds. If you close your damn eyes for more than a second I’ll fucking pinch your other cheek."

Oh, that was Richie. That meant Richie survived. 

Good. 

Eddie wouldn't be able to live with himself if something happened to him. 

Well, he wasn’t even sure he would be able to live at all .

His consciousness drifts further and further, to the point where the only feeling he had was his body being carried out of the sewers like a useless sack of potatoes. Maybe it’s Ben carrying him, that would make sense, he certainly is the strongest of them all now.

It isn't as if he could try to do anything anyway. 

He tried to stay awake as they managed to get him out of that fucking pit of hell. Because Richie asked, and he’d do anything he asked. God, he was so tired of this place. Of this whole fucking town.

No wonders why he left in the first opportunity. Not that his house back in New York was much different than his old one in Derry. Looking back (when Eddie was able to think properly again when he wasn't in a state of shock) he would see that gone with the memories of the terrors he passed 27 years ago, also went his courage to finally stand up to his mother, to go back and hang out with his friends. The memories were hazy now but somehow after this, they'd split up and didn't talk again.

The engine of the car was what made him get out of his mind for once. 

There were people talking. Was that Beverly ? That sounded like Beverly in the front seat, she also sounded like crying. 

No, don't cry Bev. It's okay now, they defeated the clown. 

He guessed so.

He couldn't see much, even with both his eyes open well he thinks they are open, but quite barely. The lights around him even if faintly were blinding as well, not contributing to his state.

He felt hands by his sides, holding him, and Richie’s voice fast and irregular, soothing the pain away with words he couldn’t understand not that he felt anything . Maybe it was the adrenaline, he’s read about it at some point in one of the old magazines they kept at the waiting room in his office.

He’s told them to trade them so many times, but couldn’t bring himself to care enough to renew them. He’s already had so much to care about.

So much… 

Nothing he did back in New York mattered anymore right? If he was about to die, what was the point of doing any of that? What was the point of resigning for things he didn’t want but that were convenient ?

People say that when you’re about to die, you see your whole life pass before your eyes. Well, Eddie’s was a blur of incomprehensive things, unfortunate moments and boring choices. It wasn’t very satisfying to watch.

He falls into unconsciousness before he could realize.

.

.

.

When he wakes up again is to a white ceiling he’s known so well. He could recognize Derry’s hospital room even if all he had was a picture of a corner of a random corridor. He’d been there so many times he couldn’t believe he forgot it before.

His mother took him to that hospital at least once every two weeks. Nowadays, he’s surprised about how good their health insurance was, maybe his mother spent more money feeding his paranoias instead of actually spending on something for them.

Eddie’s first feeling though was the familiar one of choking for air. But it wasn’t as if his throat was closing, it was like it had something in it. For a solid second, he thought, maybe I’m still on that cave, maybe IT’s got me and created this sick illusion to fuck with me . He almost reached down for his inhaler when he realized there were people there, surrounding him, familiar faces filled with relief and anticipation too.

He then could make out their voices, and what they were saying.

“Nurse! Someone, please, he’s awake!” 

Mike’s voice was hurried and loud and he surely woke up whoever was sleeping in the room, because in the next second, two more people are trying to talk to him at the same time.

“Eddie, it’s okay! IT’s dead . We killed IT!” that’s Beverly, she sounded so relieved Eddie wouldn’t be surprised if she cried.

“Hey Eddie, you scared the hell out of us, try not to do this again.” Ben was by her side, holding his wrist so he would not hurt himself trying to take the tube out.

Richie was the closest, leaning over him as if he couldn’t believe his eyes.

The nurse came and with her, relief. He finally could breathe again. 

He looked around, all six of them looking at him expectantly, hands barely touching his legs, arms, but there. They were there .  

And they weren’t dirty anymore. Thank God .

“I’m sorry I slept.” was all he could think to say at the moment.

Then from hands, he could now feel them launching on him, hugging him almost too tightly for his current state, laughing like the night at the Chinese restaurant.

After this, they stay there. They take care of him. They take turns to know who’s staying with him because the fucking death clown did a number on his insides and they’re too worried to leave him alone (not that he wanted to). They choose someone to stay the night because he fucked up their head for a while too, and they’ve been all experiencing nightmares. They tell him pretty much how he survived, for he couldn’t remember almost anything besides the stabbing.

“It was pretty much Stan’s doing. He cut IT’s arm right after IT…” Bill doesn’t need to finish that sentence. They all know how it ends. “It stopped the blood while it was still there. When we faced him, for the last time, Stan and Richie carried you over the entrance of the sewer. Stan came after, but Richie stayed there the whole time.”

“Someone had to keep you from dying, Kaspbrak. Your mom would be very upset on me otherwise.” and though the words were said in a very Richie humor, when Eddie looked at him, it was as if he was seeing a whole different Rich.

He seemed tired and restless, as relieved as scared, and there was this fondness too… Was it always there?

When he’s discharged, he gets to spend time with everyone a little bit.

Bill tells him about his new book, how he finally got inspiration to write a better end, and Eddie thinks he’s a little biased to have opinions on the whole “good ending” thing. It’s better this way , he thinks.

Beverly and Ben come together, they sit by his sides and they talk about how good the future will be now that they’re all together again. Holiday’s parties will be part of a tradition now, and Ben’s gonna make sure they can all meet every year.

Stanley takes care of him and it’s easy to fall back to normal, they were close friends after all. He finds out that their lives are very alike in the end. He says that, after two weeks of no response from his wife after a nasty voicemail, he doubts anyone is waiting for him at home. 

Eddie knows for a fact that Myra’s still there, waiting for a phone call, and can’t help but feel guilty.

He calls her right after Stanley leaves. At first, she’s mad, then she’s worried, and then she whines about how her life is being hard and that Eddie’s a terrible, awful husband for leaving her for so long.

Eddie kind of regrets the call.

That’s a lie, he regrets it a lot .

Mike apologizes for lying. It takes some time and some honest conversation, but Eddie understands why he did everything he did. He was never fine , Mike explained, even when he couldn’t remember things from before, there was always something bothering, a terror lurking around the corner. Eddie could relate to that.

When Richie came to visit the first time, jokes at the tip of his tongue as always, all Eddie wanted to do was hug him. 

And he did so. He almost fucking died , he deserved to do whatever the fuck he felt like doing. 

But as soon as they touched, he experienced first-hand things he hadn’t felt in a long, long time. The accelerated heartbeat, the shallow in the pit of his stomach as if he was about to dive in a rollercoaster (not that he’s ever walked in one, if that death trap didn’t kill him, his mother certainly would), the warmth which his chest was filled, everything at once, things he thought he’d left behind, buried with his memories. 

At the same time, he noticed new things, like how Richie had a nice smell that he couldn’t really tell what it was, how his heart was beating even faster than his own, and that he was so close Eddie could feel it as well. They stayed there and both ignored that they were crying.

It was inebriating, revigorating, sobering, at the same time that it was fucking terrifying to feel all these things he didn’t know about at once.

They didn’t talk about it, neither talked about the hand holding the rest of the day.

The only thing Richie said before they talked about some superficial shit was “ I thought you were going to die ” as if whispering a secret. It felt like he’d just confessed his deepest fear.

But yes, they ignored it. Because Eddie had to face it: he had to go back at some point. He had a wife, a job, a life to go back to, and even if being with them, with Richie , was tempting, he couldn’t simply never go back again.

He takes a flight back, then a cab, and he’s back home, and Myra’s there to take care of him once again.

“Dear God , Eddie! Look at what they did to you . You’re never meeting them again!”

As if , he thought.

A week passes, he still hasn’t gone to work but is doing things from home. Myra spends her day making him food, that she ends up eating instead, and giving him way more medicine he needs which he’s definitely not taking, even if she tries to convince him that yes, he is that sick to need them.

The Losers are more active than ever, even a week later. They create a group chat, they send funny pictures, Beverly tells them she started on the divorce papers and that Ben is helping her, Stanley and Bill are on vacation (“ If we already spent three weeks outside work, why not go all the way then? ”), Mike’s at the beach (which beach, they don’t know) and Richie’s back at making his stand up shows, posting pictures of the spectacle and talking about dumb things he finds during the day.

It’s the only bright side of his day if he’s out to be honest.

In general, he thinks he’s dealing with all well enough.

He thinks he’s getting back to the rhythm of his life.

Keywords: He thinks .

It runs fine until it’s Friday, 11 pm, and he lays down to sleep.

Four hours later, he's still awake. 

He stares blankly at the peeling ceiling and he thinks about getting it fixed. He should, because it's going to bother him but there's no way Myra would let him try and fix that on his own. He could fall and break something, or maybe the falling dust would provoke his allergies, or, in an absurd scenario, he could literally destroy the ceiling and it would fall on his head . Myra would definitely make him call someone and then complain about letting strangers inside their house-

Sweet fucking Jesus , Eddie realized, he couldn't do this anymore. He faced a fucking killer spider- clown for fuck's sake! And he killed it. For good ! He could handle fixing the fucking ceiling of his own room without dying. He could handle going out with his friends, driving a car, making his own fucking choices, mom !

Or Myra. Whatever , they were almost the same person.

As the minutes went by he grew more and more restless. The scar on his cheek was itching, the bedding felt uncomfortable, and the space he had left on the bed was simply ridiculous as Myra had demanded most of it since day one. On top of all was just the feeling of longing. 

This feeling that he was used by now and didn't care before, the feeling he's spent 27 years with trying to ignore and filling his life with things he thought it would help a well-paying job, a nice house and an (over)caring wife was suddenly back at full force and Eddie knew .

He fucking knew. 

He can't keep doing that. 

Even when all hell broke loose at Derry, Eddie felt like it would be okay. Even if they were all most likely going to die and yeah, he panicked, but when the moment came-

When Eddie felt like he was going to die, with a hole in the middle of his abdomen, in the middle of the chaos , he found out that it would be okay to go like this. Surrounded by the friends that he cared so deeply, he felt fulfilled . Like a circle that finally came to an end and he was exactly where he was supposed to be. 

He didn't feel it either in the following weeks, where they would all stay with him in the hospital and then at the hotel, where they all made sure Eddie had everything he needed. But the moments he completely forgot he ever felt that way was whenever Richie was in the room. 

Were to take care or make fun of him, Richie was there, and even if he still couldn't stand still for more than a few minutes, Eddie knew he listened and understood him in every way. He would be quiet and listen about his life, or at least as quiet as Richie Trashmouth Tozier could be, or even be God forbid interested in what he was talking. 

Eddie found it funny how much time can pass but Richie was still him. The same boy he was friends with all those years. His best friend in the whole world, he's that one person. 

Richie has been there for him since they were kids. Richie was the one who stayed all nights at the hospital, even when it wasn’t his turn. Richie, who looked at him and talked to him like he was the most precious thing in his entire world while knowing when to call him on his bullshit. 

He was always there to make him laugh, or fight back, or somehow making sure Eddie's attention was on him. Not that Eddie cared, it all came naturally to him by now. 

The way Richie's always moving, the way he can't keep his mouth shut either always cracking a joke, even if the mom ones sounded weirder now that she passed away and that he's always managed to be just in the spotlight for Eddie. 

He knows he’d missed Richie more than anything, and his heart ached to the even thought of forgetting him again.

Oh, God.  

Eddie realizes something for the second time on the night.

He was in love with that stupid lanky ass comedian. 

And after missing someone he didn't know who it was for half his life, there was no way he was letting him go. 

Truth be told, it all felt right, it felt like the last missing piece of the puzzle was finally put to place and he never felt greater joy than being in a room with all six of the other losers. And even feeling drained while talking to his wife, he never considered he'd be this miserable again. 

Eddie sat up straight in the bed, or as straight he could manage with the little space he had. He had to do something about it. He couldn't- He wouldn't take it anymore. 

Making a decision, he gets out of bed, silently but quickly putting his slippers on and, before he could contemplate the craziness of what he was about to do, starts to make his luggage. 

He finds out that now that he knows he's leaving (and not coming back), he doesn't take as much as he did any other time he traveled. He takes all the medicine he needs from the cabinet leaving behind all the placebo shit like he did all these many years before, going to rescue Beverly stuffing them in his fanny pack and changes clothes. 

When he's back in the room, Myra is staring up at him, eyeing him warily, big eyes craving holes at his face already trying to make him quiver. 

"Eddie…" she starts, very quietly, " What are you doing?" 

When he talks, his voice sounds much more confident than he's ever heard talking to her, "I'm leaving you."

He rapidly takes his baggage and hurries down the stairs, hearing her steps as soon as he was out of the room. He always admired how fast she could be when she wanted. 

The mental list in his mind though surely he would forget something, he couldn’t care less was missing his charger.

"Eddie! What are you saying?" she pleaded, covering the space between them in a few seconds. "It's nonsense ! Why, haven't I taken good care of you?" 

He pinched the bridge of his nose, feeling a headache starting to form already, predicting where this conversation was going. Yes, she had . Myra had taken care of him like his own mother did, with a stern gaze annoying him to do whatever she wanted, controlling every second of his day. Thanks to her, Eddie has lived through all of his hypothetical diseases, and probably developed a few more as well. 

"That's not the point."

"Then tell me! Please, Eddie, talk to me." he scanned the room for the missing gadget, "Let's talk, I can make you something, and then we can eat and talk and everything will clear out! Obviously, this is a misunderstanding."

He took the charger on the top of the table, also stuffing it in his fanny pack just to save time.

"It's not." 

He kept the words short and consistent, he had to. Even if he was never really in love with her, there was a reason why he married her, and it was because she was as good in controlling him as his mother. It didn't affect him the same way now that back from Derry were all the memories of finally finding some balls to put a fight against his mother, but that didn't mean it was easy for him. 

"Eddie, that can't be right. You love me!" he didn't respond to that, "Don't you?" met with no response again he could see her getting increasingly frustrated " Edward , stop this madness right now. What are you doing? You can't leave me, I won't survive without you!" 

He contented himself with just taking his phone out to call a car service. 

"Edward!" he started walking towards the door and she sounded more desperate every time, " Eddie ! Edward- I'm pregnant!" she screamed, her voice teary, and he stopped dead in his tracks, eyes bulged out and breathe caught in his throat. Seeing that reaction, Myra kept going, this time, her voice like soft silk, "That's right, Eddie, we're having a baby."

He knew Myra was all in for emotional manipulation, but she wouldn’t lie about that .

Not about something she knew he wanted for years

Right?

"You're lying." his throat was hoarse and he found himself needing his inhaler for the first time in weeks as it got harder to breathe, "You can't be, we haven't tried in months."

"I'm am though!" she smiled, seemingly innocent, "Haven't you notice? I'm gaining weight, I'm eating more-" that all could have been attributed to other factors, "And you weren't here for the past month, you wouldn't know!" 

That at least was true. The weight of reality suddenly hitting him was almost unbearable. 

"That's right Eddie, what a terrible husband you were. Leaving your defenseless pregnant wife behind, going to meet with some girl." her words were so bitter he could probably taste them in the air if he tried, "Is that why you wanted to leave me, Eddie ? Someone else? Perhaps younger, prettier."

He looked over her, gripping his bag tighter. 

"No." he dropped it in the ground, for once not caring on how messy that would leave his clothes inside the bag, "I don't believe you, Myra." he spat the words, his voice wasn't something recognizable, he never talked to her like that, he was furious . He pointed at her, cellphone still in hands, "The last time we had sex was months ago! And I remember very clearly why we didn't have it in the following months. Either you're lying now, or that baby isn't mine. Pick one , Myra!" 

By the end of it, he raised his voice so much Myra had recoiled herself to the other end of the room. He would almost feel bad, hadn't she just tried to lie to him. 

"Why are you being so cruel, Eddie? I just want to stay with you." her voice was small and she sounded in the brick of tears, "You're being so evil with me, I only ever gave you love. You can't do this to me after all this time."

It felt like a confirmation, fortunately, ‘cause Eddie wouldn't know what to do if what she said was real. 

He opened his phone again, calling an Uber to the airport.

"I'm sorry Myra, I can't do this anymore. I never loved you. And I mean it in the nicest way possible."

He closed the phone in time to see her round face getting wet with tears once again. Placing his ring by the handrail, sending a pointed look at her, he delivered a message.

It’s over .

"I knew it!" she screamed, big eyes staring at him accusingly, and maybe she had the right to, "I knew you had someone! Who is she?!" 

He grabbed his bags once again, this time resolute in making through the door.

"His name is Richard."

He was out before sunrise.

In many ways too. 

He felt finally free when he stepped out, the chilly air of the previous night entering his body, very much bringing some peace to his soul. 

One thing less to do. 

The car arrived and he rushed inside, saying his good mornings to the man behind the wheel. They talked for a few minutes. Eddie was never one for talking with strangers, but the world seemed so much brighter, so much happier, that he felt like sharing. 

During the Uber drive when they stopped talking (because traffic in New York is always shitty), he finally allows himself to calm down and think about what he'd just done.

He left

He made it! 

But where to? 

He didn't plan ahead.

He could think about asking for help to any of the losers, they would surely open their arms for him (even if their lives were still a mess after Derry), but there was only one person Eddie needed to see at that moment. 

Richie. 

He was probably going crazy. 

He'd never said anything about liking Eddie explicitly, but he was much more a man of action than of talking.

.

Kind of.

They were a bunch of cowards when it came to feelings, he can admit that.

But the way he touched him, the way he teased him, that he cared for him, the look in his eyes and what he felt in the hotel were no coincidences, nor illusions. 

It couldn't be. 

Richie was too much of an asshole he was a jokester but Eddie doubted he would ever do something to hurt him that way. Giving him hopes just to watch them crumble. 

At least not on purpose. 

Eddie forced himself to stop thinking about that as fast as the thoughts came. If he did, he would end up discouraging himself and there couldn't be anything worse. 

For the worse or better, he needed a resolution. 

If Richie loved him back? God , he didn't even know what to do, the very thought of it made his heart pound heavily in his chest. If he didn't… Well, at least he's had an answer. 

What he couldn't do is continue in this grey area of confusion and loneliness. 

The car came to a stop several minutes later, outing him to a world full of noises and voices, so much different than the quiet inside the vehicle. He almost got whiplashed. 

Now, Eddie wasn't a fan of airports. They were crowded and messy, there were people sick everywhere and no amount of masks and alcohol gel would prevent him from getting a virus or disease. 

Probably Influenza. 

Maybe the plague.

He was willing to face any of them if that took him to LA. 

That alone was enough of a surprise even to himself. 

So he did it. He bought the first airfare he could (leaving within the next two hours), and sat anxiously through the whole waiting time. With cleaning tissues, of course, because the airport chairs were disgusting.

He was already testing fate, not taking much more chances, thank you very much.

Putting his phone to charge, he messaged Stan what he was doing, because he, of all people, would understand. 

And was more likely to tell him if he was making the biggest mistake ever.

And the fact he was probably the only one who would respond this early in the morning.

 

Well, I wouldn't try to stop you, even if I wanted.

Received at 05:15.

 

That wasn’t very reassuring at all.

 

And?? 

What do you think?!

Sent at 05:15.

 

Being honest, it’s about time.

 

Eddie stared at the phone’s screen as Stan kept typing, clenching at it like a lifeline.

 

I always said you both looked like an old married couple.

Received at 05:16.

 

Eddie rolled his eyes, for once, he was being serious! He’d done something impulsive, he needed advice !

 

You’re not being helpful at all.

Sent at 05:16.

 

Oh, sorry, maybe you should try later,

When I’m not trying to fucking sleep.

Received at 05:17.

 

And that would be the end of the conversation if Stan hadn’t sent one last message before he closed up, catching his attention again.

 

Fucking go for it. 

Only you know how long you’ll be suffering if you don’t do this now.

And by extension, making me suffer with your pining shit.

Received at 05:19.

 

I’m still happy you’re all back in my life.

For now, at least.

Received at 05:20.

 

Eddie smiled, knowing that was just Stan playing tough love.

 

Thank you, Stan.

Sent at 05:20.

 

You’re welcome.

Let me sleep, you asshole.

Received at 05:21.

 

He picked a reasonable place to eat. 

Reasonable because, again, airports suck . Eating anything is like playing Russian Roulette, but instead of bullets, you get food poisoning.

If he wasn't almost starving by now and the fact that the flight is fucking 6 hours long, there was no way he'd ever consider it. 

Man, was he bold today. 

He ends up having a water bottle (you can't go wrong with that), a coffee and some pastry that seemed half decent. 

A few hours later he’s in the plane and Stan finally messages him again. Along with Beverly.

Of course .

And she’s awfully supportive too, Eddie can’t bring himself to be mad at Stan.

He finally manages to sleep a little, it’s uncomfortable and he wakes up not rested at all, but at least he had a couple of hours of peaceful sleep.

When Eddie arrives, he knows Richie’s still not home he sent them a picture earlier of his rehearsal so he settles for taking a cab and sitting in his baggage beside his apartment door for a few hours. He really didn’t have the energy to go exploring LA right now.

Even if the floor tiles gave him chills. Did no one knew a broom these days? A vacuum cleaner would do just fine too.

Also, it was fucking freezing outside.

He only heard about the cold wave in the plane, and even if he was fully dressed in pants to coat, he could feel the tips of his fingers and nose slowly numbing.

He's been breaking some personal rules for Richie, something he never did for Myra, and that's not the first time. 

This happened since they were kids, making him enter that fucking disgusting sewer, or before that, jumping in that bacterial home of a lake.

God, Richie just pushed all his buttons. 

Speaking of which, he spotted him coming out of the elevator. Finally seeing him, Eddie was at a loss of words. 

How would he even start? 'Hey Richie, I just realized I love you, please let me spend the night? ' Overcoming his initial shock upon seeing him faster than Eddie could come with a greeting, Richie was the first to speak. 

"Eddie, what are you doing here?" then he had that teasing smile that made Eddie want to punch him, at the same time as it didn't. " Aw , you missed me already, Eddie-bear? Last time I checked you still had my number."

Eddie felt his palms sweat. Here he was. He couldn't back down now. 

"I wanted to see you-"

"You could have asked for a picture, I'm sure your mom wouldn't mind."

Richie was making this harder than he expected. Not that he expected the man to be serious. Ha, Eddie knew him better than that. 

"No, dickhead, I meant I needed to see you-"

"Also Skype is a thing? I always knew you lived like an old man, but even them know how to video call."

The fact he kept interrupting besides annoying — told him Richie was nervous just as much, or maybe more than him. 

"Fucking shut up , Trashmouth, this is important." Eddie sighed, standing up but not actually getting closer, afraid the minimum movement would break the bubble they were in. 

The tight smile Richie gave was taken as fuel to get him to talk. 

"Okay," Eddie cleared his throat. Now that he could speak freely he kinds of wishes Richie started talking again, "Okay, listen to me. I'm a 40-years-old man who works in one of the most boring jobs that's ever existed in boring jobs history.” he gave Richie a stern gaze when he opened his mouth again, probably to make a joke, “I overthink like crazy , I have many allergies and think that I'm sick more often than I am. I am not an easy person to live with. But I left my wife and booked the earliest fly I could and waited like, 3 hours sat in front of your flat because I spent all my goddamn life looking for something to fill the space between my lungs, and I couldn't find it. I couldn't because you weren't there." Eddie took in a sharp breath, "And I don't know if you respond to these feelings or not but-" gather courage, Eddie, it was now or never! " I want you , if you'll have me."

(Which, Eddie would think later, lame . He didn't know how they ended up like that with such a cliche phrase.

Well, they're called cliches for a reason Eds. They work. )

Richie had that lost look on his face, you could see it in his eyes like when Eddie explained prescriptions for the first time when they were six. Obviously, when Richie manages to speak, Eddie knows he isn't surprised because he knows him

"The heart isn't between the lungs." 

Eddie squinted his eyes, hard to believe he actually loved this idiot. 

"It's metaphorical , you asshole." 

Richie nods in agreement and swallows dry. 

"Makes sense."

Eddie really wants to grab him by the shoulders and shake him until he actually gets a response for his question at the same time that he's impressed because he's never seen Richie this quiet his entire life

He watches as Richie makes his way to the apartment, still with that shocked expression, and unlocks the door, entering and leaving it open. Is not even an invitation, Eddie acknowledges, he's just not processing that yet. 

When he comes back to the view, now with a bottle of whiskey in his hand and sits on the arm of the sofa, Eddie realizes that maybe - just maybe , he's read everything wrong. Maybe Richie doesn't like him that way, maybe he does but isn't ready to assume anything, maybe he has someone-

"Maybe this was a bad idea, I'm sorry-" 

" No ," he pauses and takes a large gulp of the bottle, leaving it on the ground and getting up again, "I just need to get past 30 years of self-denying and I'm good to go." 

He runs a hand through his hair, breathing shakily as if trying to laugh. 

"I'm not good at feelings, you know me. I'm a stand-up guy, I don't deal with feelings, I humor them until they go away." he looked at Eddie, his eyes shining with fear and excitement in a complicated battle for dominance but the corner of his lips tugging upwards, " I want you too ." 

Eddie felt like he could finally breathe again as he all but ran into Richie, throwing his arms around his neck and hugging him tightly, feeling Richie's arms squeeze him just as tight. He was shaking.

"I've wanted you since ever

Eddie nods, standing at the tip of his toes, trying to hug him closer until it was impossible to have any space between their bodies. He was tired, fully realizing now that's been more than 24 hours since he slept in a bed, his clothes were bothering him from getting stuck at places he sweated (New York was a sauna now compared to this place) and the motherfucking sweat felt disgusting . None of that stopped him from enjoying the moment. 

He could feel his shoulder getting wet with hot, silent tears. 

"I'm sorry it took me so long."

He felt Richie's arms get tighter around his back.

"We can't all be aware and coping with emotions. That's Ben's job."

They laughed and Eddie could feel his laugh vibrate through his chest. It was a good feeling. 

When they separated, several minutes later, not completely but enough so they could look into each other's faces, the distance wasn't kept for much longer as Richie reached for a kiss. 

It was as if Eddie was sucked into another reality. The rest of his mind went quiet while all he could think was Richie. 

Richie, Richie, Richie

Eddie could feel his beard tickling him and it wasn't as half annoying as he imagined it would, he could feel his arms squeezing him harder and it was nice .

It felt right. Like this was something supposed to happen a long time ago. Like it was meant to be. 

When Richie deepened the kiss, Eddie could feel the strong taste of alcohol. Their mouths moved in synchrony, the aching feeling on his chest for having missed this for so long being left forgotten in some corner of his life. The smell Eddie couldn't put his finger around finally being revealed to be his shampoo served only to entice him more to move his hands up Richie's hair and scrap lightly the nape of his head. 

Richie groaned into the kiss, and Eddie felt shivers run down his spine as it reverberated through his body. The heat he was feeling was enough to give a warm fuzz all over his body. 

They were impossibly close, and Eddie wanted more .

Except he was too tired for that now.

They pulled apart and Eddie felt breathless. And not because of his asthma.

"I think we should take my bags off the corridor. And maybe close the door. It’s too cold outside."

When Richie smiled, Eddie knew things were back to normal.

"Did I just take your breath away?" 

" Shut up ."

"Oh Eds, you're adorable . Don’t worry, I’ll warm you up."

Eddie rolled his eyes and distangled himself from him, turning his face and going outside to take his luggage and hide the blush that was now spreading down his neck. 

"Do you need your inhaler?" 

Eddie really couldn't believe he loved this idiot.