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I should have seen.

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Richie Tozier, soft black unruly curls and sunbathed skin that was still pale in the moonlight. A bucket of ice water on your sleeping form with a sweet and tender giggle that didn’t mix properly. But it did. Jester of the Losers but the one that honestly would speak the most sense even when no one wanted to hear it. The first one to point out that things weren’t okay when no one else would. Stanley Uris was sure the day that Bill and Richie went at it that he had sided with Richie. It was a suicide mission, no one wanted to go down into that awful place to fight a vile clown. Richie was the first to say it. But also the last. No one would ever go against Bill. 

 

Except Richie.

 

The boy with the surprisingly tender hugs and quiet understanding. The one who would attach himself to the hip of the closest Loser and somehow only sometimes become overbearing. He was loud, obnoxious, and Stanley would hear “Beep Beep Richie” at least twice a day with how many shitty mom jokes the boy would make. (Stan himself or Eddie being the culprit of both of those). Richie was unsophisticated and simple. Didn’t seem to have a care in the world when it came to being around his friends. Perhaps it was the constant easy smile on Tozier’s face that left Stanley forgetting that the boy did in fact have emotions other than sonic “gotta go fast” tozier, and ‘shitty future standup comedian Trashmouth’. 

 

Or maybe it was the fact that even in spite of many adverse comments, the boy kept his head held high and he laughed. Made stupid jokes and ignored almost every single thing thrown his way like it was just sandpaper turned water the second it grazed his smooth skin. It seemed that everyone forgot that Richie wasn’t only the Jester in the Losers club. Stanley couldn’t remember a time where anyone had even thought twice about how Richie could have possibly felt during the time Pennywise was around. 

 

Looking back on it, they probably shouldn’t have left Richie outside all alone to help Bev clean up. They should have at least left someone, maybe Eddie, to keep him company. If Pennywise had decided to attack Richie during that time, they wouldn’t have known. Had absolutely no idea. It brings a bile taste up the back of Stan’s throat anytime he thought about it. But of course, Richie was left by his bike for a few hours and he had only complained a little when they got back. Though, if anyone was actually looking at Richie’s face when they went upstairs in the first place, they’d see the flash of hurt and resignation they left him to. 

 

Then again, even all these years later, Stanley could never quite understand why they’d thought it was a good idea to ignore that Richie was in fact, Human. Stan looked across the fire at heavy thick rimmed glasses. The boy was talking to Eddie, though his lips were pressed too tight to be an easy smile. His smile never actually meeting his eyes and Stan’s mouth went dry. Had Richie always smiled like that? Stan never actually looked at Richie when he was smiling. Always too annoyed with something he had said. So why now? When they were seventeen years old and sitting around a bonfire did Stanley want to pull Richie to the side and ask him what was on his mind? 

Stan watched as long lanky arms wrapped around Beverly and Eddie, a stupid joke that had them both saying “beep beep Richie”. Happened to be the fourth time that night and Stanley knew Richie was really starting to get on Eddie’s nerves. Maybe it was on purpose? Stan’s eyes trailed over Richie’s face and then lower, looking at him in a new light. Richie was always getting on people’s nerves. Purposefully or not and yet very very rarely did anyone actually get angry. Tonight though, he was purposefully pushing buttons.

 

He was staring too long, Stan knew he was, when Richie’s head snapped around and looked at him with bright lighted doe eyes. It faded almost immediately, but for someone who loves acting like the center of attention it seemed to make him uncomfortable. 

 

“Stan the man! Staniel Urine. Stanion, if you wanted a piece of this you just gotta tell a man. Don’t gotta fuck me with your eyes like that; I might swoon.” With a wiggle of his eyebrows, Richie waddled around the fire and the friends to sit next to stanley. 

 

Stanley could hear Eddie’s not so mumbled “Thank God” when Richie walked away. 

 

He rolled his eyes and gently elbow checked Richie, who pretended to collapse and die like he was shot. “I don’t think I could handle being around you for more than a few hours at a time, what makes you think I’d want to deal with it for more than twenty four hours a day?” 

 

Richie laid on his back in the dirt, head far enough away from the fire that it doesn’t make Stan want to move him. He feigns hurt, Richie does, his hand to his chest like he was shot again. The smile on his face wide and big but something about it makes Stan want to push it away because something’s wrong with it. 

 

“You love me Staniel! Don’t you see how great I am? Who wouldn’t want to spend the rest of their lives with one Richie Tozier?”

 

Everyone and their mother immediately raised a hand and Staniel laughed with the rest of the losers. Though, once again, Richie smiled wide and started going on about how he felt the love from all of them. Stan didn’t like it, it was all wrong . The corners of Richie’s lips never met his eyes and there was something forlorn and forgotten in his deep chocolate irises. Before Stanley could grasp why it bothers him so much, he felt a hand on his shoulder and Richie was leaning forward with a marshmallow on a stick. Just barely golden when he handed it to Stan. It was perfect, just the way he liked it. 

 

Richie tozier was a jester most of the time, but Stanley knew he was a silent protector in the group. Not having bat an eye when Beverly needed help from Pennywise. Richie hadn’t received much credit when it came to anything he did. So when Stanley let out a soft “Thanks” he wished he could have said what for. 

 

The rest of the night consisted of everyone getting buzzed or drunk, except Richie. Who, Stan just realized, never took the alcohol his friends offered him. They weren’t old enough to be drinking, but what else was there to do in Derry? Stanley knew he was supposed to be better than illegal drinking but he was a Loser and he was having fun. Though, he only ever got a little buzzed as being shit faced like Bill or Beverly always made him regret even the idea. They always did stupid things like start stripping or scream at three in the morning about how they wanted to fuck toes or something. Giggling like idiots even while buzzed mike and Ben would try to calm them down. Richie was always the one that drove the Losers home and made sure they had water and medicine put by their bedsides at night so that they didn’t have to move too much with their hangover. 

 

Tucking them in like they were the loves of his life. 

 

Suddenly Stanley was tearing up and blaming it on the smoke. Because it’s possible they were. Richie never talked about his family the way the rest of the losers did. Yet he couldn’t remember a time where any of the Losers asked if Richie was okay. Maybe Beverly has, but if they had, she never made a mention of anything. Neither did Eddie, who Stanley assumes must have said something to Richie at some given point in time. The two were inseparable. So when Richie pets Stanley's tired head, he just assumes Richie must be alright and he was overthinking it.

 

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Stanley couldn't breathe, not with the hand on his throat that shoved him hard against the wall. The air forced from his lungs when he hit the cold concrete. Normally, right after gym that feeling would be nice against his hot skin.

 

Now though, he really just wanted to be anywhere but against it. The bullies hand was clammy and gross and it made him want to gag. Which, with how his stomach felt, might actually happen.

 

"I wonder if god would look at you the same knowing that his precious little jew was a fuckin Queer. Think they'd let you back in the church pussy boy?"

 

Stanley wanted to correct them on so many things. But the hand wrapped threateningly around his windpipe told him to do otherwise. For one, at least get your facts straight you troglodyte. It's a synagogue not a church. He's fucking Jewish damnit. How hard is that to remember? Not everyone is a damn christian. There are other religions out there. It shouldn't be that hard considering everyone and their dog knew his father was a Rabbi. 

 

Stan was actually startled out of his thoughts when a fist collided to the wall by his head. Angry, seething teeth in his line of sight and now the fear really started settling in. 

 

"Did you hear me, kike?"

 

He couldn't say anything if he tried. Felt the heat in his face when he slowly started suffocating. The bullies hand squeezing and squeezing until Stan was sure he was gonna die, clawing at the hand on his throat while tears came down his cheeks. 

 

Suddenly, he was sitting on the floor. Coughing to get air back into his stuttering lungs. He could hear a sickening crunch in the distance. Bringing his head up he saw raven black curls and a fist with bloodied knuckles. Richie was sitting on his attacker, straddling him, knees on either side while he landed punch after punch to his face until the boy was gurgling up blood and possibly his teeth.

 

Stanley made a move to stop him, but Richie stood up on his own and his hands were trembling. He looked so unhinged. Like he was terrified but still seething. Trembling bloodied fingers swept through his hair before he back over. 

 

The lump in his throat couldn't be shaken. Richie looked so scared looking over Stanley. Checking his throat and gritting his teeth when he sees the finger marks that shouldn't have been there in the first place. 

 

Then there were hands wiping away the tears on Stanley's cheeks and he was weeping brokenly. Sobbing into lanky limbs that didn't match broad shoulders. Richie had taken Stan and pulled him into the nearest closet, closing the door and sinking to the floor with him. Hugging him close so no one would see and Stanley wouldn't be embarrassed. 

 

Because Richie thought of those things. Even with bloodied knuckles and grit teeth. With Stanley openly sobbing and messing up Richie's shirt. A hand on the back of his head, at the nape of his neck that felt comforting and alarmingly intimate all at once. Richie thought of those things. 

 

Thought of how Stan would feel when people would make snide comments about how the Jewish boy was crying again. Because Richie was the groups protector. Even when he was sent home with a suspension because he got into another fight at school. 

 

Stanley wept harder, the guilt eating at him realizing that if he were in Richie's shoes he might not have been able to act. Might not have been able to jump in and throw punches. But also worse, because he'd know Richie  would never ask him to. Wouldn't ask for help because Richie never did. He grit his teeth and bare it because Richie was more of a man than Stanley himself would ever be. 

 

Cowardice. In the face of judgement and adversaries was all Stan had. He heard and felt Richie's soft whispers of endearment on his face and by his ear. Soft hums of a raspy voice and soon Stan's sobs became less and less full bodied and more and more a whimpered mess.

 

"It's okay Stanley, you're safe. I've got you. After you calm down I'll go order a pizza for the losers so we can eat it at lunch. I'll get half cheese and pepperoni since i know you like just cheese. That way no one complains- I've got you Stan."

 

Stan wasn't sure how long they stayed that way, Richie's long arms wrapped protectively around him and not moving an inch even though he's positive there's a bunch of stuff digging uncomfortably into Richie's spine.

Eventually, the bell rang and Stan untangled himself from Richie. Wiping at his eyes. 

 

"Thanks Richie."

 

"No problem Stan the man, I plan on being here again tomorrow if you want to catch another show of Richie Tozier lays the smack down."

 

"Absolutely not."

 

Normally, he'd expect a laugh of some kind. So when he opens his eyes after rubbing them the first thing he realizes is that Richie was staring at him. The look in his eyes serious and contemplating. There was something gentle and lucid that Stanley was sure he'd never seen before on the other boys face. Or maybe he had, and he just never paid it much attention before.

 

"I won't tell you that you need a bodyguard Stan. Because you don't, you're strong and I don't want you to think otherwise okay? But if you need backup once in awhile don't worry. I- we. We got your back." 

 

"Richie how in the hell do you expect me to call for help when I have a hand on my throat?" He deadpans. 

 

"I meant I could walk you to class, Smartass! Oh hey that rhymed-" Richie responded cheerfully.

 

"Yeah but then one of us would be late to every class. Meaning you Richie."

 

"Well obviously Staniel. But does it look like I give two shits? I can't have my best bud getting pinned to a wall if it isn't me doing it. Ya know?" 

 

"Beep Beep Richie. And fine. I'd appreciate that. But if your parents yell at you that isn't my fault."

 

It went quiet and Richie was opening the door and allowing Stan to step out first. The next minute or two, Stanley watched as Richie struggled to unfold himself and then stretch out like a rusted lawn chair.

 

"Alrighty Staniel, you get to class and I'll get the pizza."

 

Stanley nodded but not before saying softly

 

"Thanks Richie, for helping me. It was really cool of you."

 

The way Richie went rigid almost made Stanley nervous for a split second. Then he gave the biggest smile Stanley had seen Richie give in the longest time. One that reached his eyes and Stan was caught staring. 

 

This was what he wanted to see all those nights ago at the bonfire.

 

"Don't think much about it Stan the man,  if you keep telling me I'm cool I am definitely gonna swoon though. So go go go. Andale."

 

Richie was already putting a cigarette in his lips while walking down the hallway and going towards the back doors of the school. But Stanley was positive he wouldn't light it until he was outside. Because Eddie would flip his lid if he did, and maybe because Richie's hands were trembling just a tad too much. 

 

Chapter Text

Eddie was sure he had put his inhaler on the table next to Richie’s bed. Absolutely positive that before he fell asleep he set his fanny pack on the left side table. There was no way he didn’t put it there so when he woke up and couldn’t find his meds he was immediately thrown into a massive panic attack. There was no fuckin way he didn’t put it there. He keeps track of everything. Sure, he wasn’t in his house but technically now it was because he lives there with the dumbass of a roommate he calls Richie. When Eddie turned seventeen, (a legal grey area) he moved in with the Toziers. His mother had cried and called repeatedly nonstop every five minutes until Richie changed the phone number. Though they knew it was for the best, considering she was still trying to pry her cold clammy hands down his throat at any given point in time. 

 

This wasn't his first night being in the household. But the decision was a spur of the moment move, and since Richie hadn’t set up the guest room for Eddie’s arrival, they slept in the same bed. It was exciting to know he wasn’t going to be under the watchful eye of a hypochondriac with a need to make his life a living hell. But right now he was yelling for Richie to wake up and to help him find his fanny pack. To which, groggy and somewhat annoyed at being abruptly woken up, just grumbled a confused “what’s happenin’?” 

 

Normally, Eddie would find it kind of cute. But right at the moment, his entire body was lit up like a firework waiting to explode from the inside out. He needed his meds, (gazebos, richie reminds) and his vitamins (sugar pills, richie reminds again), and he definitely needed his inhaler. Richie never said anything towards that one, knowing that it wasn’t just something he didn’t need. It was his safety net. 

 

“Rich where is my fanny pack? I can’t find my meds! I need to find them. I left them right here before I went to bed last night, where the hell are the-” 

 

Richie had placed two very gentle hands on Eddie’s cheeks, the way he always does when Eddie panics. It’s comforting and warm despite the chill running down his spine. Richie takes a breath in, which Eddie mimics on instinct and then he lets it out. They found out this worked the day that Pennywise broke his arm. Richie was so patient even when his biggest fear was just behind him. It was helpful, Eddie found, Richie always waiting a beat and repeating until Eddie no longer thinks he’s going to burst at the seams.

 

“Your meds are in your bathroom. The one connected to your room. I put them in there last night so they’d be safe. I would have told you but you were so tired I didn’t want to wake you up. I’m sorry Eds.” 

 

He was talking slow, but there was a slight worried tinge at the end of his sentences. Richie’s hands dropped from his cheeks and Eddie was already scuttling away to the bathroom. Which was, surprisingly cleaned. In fact, when Eddie went into his room, it was completely spotless. The carpet was vacuumed, new sheets were on the bed and for once, Eddie was actually sure he could eat off of a piece of furniture in Richie Tozier’s house. He goes into the bathroom and just as he thought, his fanny pack was emptied, but all of the contents were all placed alphabetically in the mirror cabinet. 

 

He took his pills with a cup that was placed next to the bathroom sink. He knew they weren’t real, Richie made sure to remind him every time he was mentally stable enough to handle it. Richie had even threatened to put skittles in his pill bottles because they’d have done the same amount of good his actual ‘pills’ would. To which Eddie would always get even more annoyed than he was before, for no actual reason. As sweet as it was that Richie did this for him, he felt annoyance simmering in his stomach. Eddie didn't understand why it put him in such a bad mood. Perhaps it was the blunt honesty in his memory, or the laugh in Richie’s carefree voice that pissed him off.

 

Richie was always so carefree about everything, not seeming to genuinely give two shits about anything. What would Richie Trashmouth Tozier give a shit about? The Losers of course, but they all cared about each other because that’s what they do. Stan always makes sure Eddie has water next to the bed to wake up to when he stays over. Because that’s the best way to take his meds. He can dry swallow them of course, but he hates doing it because he could choke. Beverly always brings him little tins full of colorful band aids because he said he sometimes gets bored of the tan ones. To which he now has an assortment and collection of band aids ranging from Hello kitty to neon disco. Once she even bought him a pack of bubble gum in the shape of band aids as a gag gift. It was sweet and lovely and of course he wasn’t surprised. 

 

The difference between the other Losers and Richie, was that they had problems that they couldn’t just ignore. They couldn’t all be loud and happy all the time. Yeah, sure, Richie was bullied. But they all were, and Richie never seemed to be all that bothered by it like Stan was or Ben was. Hell, Ben was carved into like he was a part of the kissing bridge. 

 

It wasn’t fair, Eddie knows, he shouldn’t think his friend has it easy constantly because he’s laughing all the time. But Eddie can’t help it, he sees the way Richie gets to live. No rules, no discipline or late night trips to the hospital because of some stupid cough he might have. Richie had it easy, of course he did, because who in their right mind would be singing really loud downstairs to music that he blasts way too loud if they were worried about getting yelled at? 

 

Then again, Richie’s parents weren’t home so why would he have to worry? His parents were on a work trip again and of course that means that Eddie and Richie were on their own until they got back. For some reason, the thought hadn’t occurred to him that he hadn’t seen Richie’s parents in person since they were about fifteen.

 

Eddie goes downstairs and sees Richie dancing while putting pancakes on a plate. The tall gangly bitch looks over at him and has the audacity to say 

 

“What? Don’t want your step dad’s cooking?” 

 

Perhaps he should have noticed the way Richie stops dancing and the smile on his lips tighten when Eddie finally says 

 

“Shut the fuck up Richard.” 

 

But he doesn’t, he instead turns down the music a tad and takes his plate. 

                                        

                                                                                                                     <3

 

Richie got checks in the mail from his parents instead of actually seeing them every month. They’re big enough for a months worth of groceries and whatever he may or may not need. He’s gotten them since he was twelve, and learned what to buy now that he was older. It took him many a tries getting exactly what would hold out for an entire month. Which, usually consisted of ramen, instant potatoes, pancake mixes, spaghetti, cans of things and frozen nuggets. Sometimes, when Richie felt he was safe enough for the month he’d buy things like ice cream or the occasional soda. He used to just buy takeout every day, or every other week, but he’s learned that it tends to make you feel sick and doesn’t taste as good when you’ve had it all the time as it does when you have it on occasion. Or with friends.

 

His parent’s didn’t want him, but they took care of him from a distance and for that he was grateful. They weren’t bad enough to put him in a foster home, but when he was little, he couldn’t remember a time where his mother wasn’t drinking and his father wasn’t threatening someone. Or breaking something for that matter. There were plenty of times when he was a child that he was left picking up a broken pot or pan. Or even helping his mother onto the couch so she wouldn’t wake up with back pain. Eventually, it went from seeing them occasionally to not seeing them at all.

 

So long as Richie get good grades and sent them his report cards they deemed him worthy of a paycheck for food. He learned that if he didn’t work for something, he’d get nothing. So he worked with high As and sometimes the occasional B. For some, it would be hard, but Richie was a bright child and he may make raunchy jokes but damn anyone who said he wasn’t smart. Richie stared at the paycheck on the table like it was a living thing. Eddie wasn’t home, being at the library with Ben so they could study. 

 

He wept for the first time in weeks. Since Eddie’s moved in, he hasn’t felt so alone in the two story house that was only kept clean by his hand. That didn’t mean it wasn’t difficult, Eddie would berate him for the small things such as not doing the dishes. Or not keeping the floor clean. Richie knew it was going to happen when he invited Eddie to stay with him, but that didn’t mean it didn’t tear him to shreds every time Eddie looked at him like he was disgusting. Or in fact, called him disgusting. 

 

But Richie wasn’t dumb enough to believe everything Eddie said. Because then they wouldn’t be friends at all. 

 

Truth was, he was crying because he hadn’t in a long time. Because the emotional burden of being the clown was starting to weigh on him. Sometimes, he wishes that he’d have died in those sewers and the weight of the world comes crashing and he’s blubbering at the kitchen table with a letter from his father telling him that his parents are divorcing and he plans on picking up a few items from the house in a few days so he wants none of his friends to be there when he gets home. 

 

He’s only going to be there for about an hour. 

 

It’s enough to make him settle into a panic and he wants to call someone. Anyone of the Losers to help him but he doesn’t know how. Or who. Because who wants to hear or see a sniffling Richie? No one did. That’s his job. He’s supposed to be the group’s dumbass! Not the one with the weight of a million one pound feathers on his heart. He’d come to that conclusion when he realized that every single one of the Losers needed to laugh. That he’d have to be that person because none of the others could do it. They needed someone to laugh with, laugh at, all of them together because they needed the glue. Something other than Pennywise. Something easier to make memories with.

 

He needed to get out of the house because if he didn’t he was going to tear out his hair. Take the knife on the table and finish the job that Pennywise left behind all those years ago. So he did. He left a note on the table for Eddie if he came home before Richie did. He left with a cigarette in hand and got in his pickup truck. A run down rat of a car but it worked and was faithful to working for Richie. So he never complained. Even when Eddie did.  Plenty of fond memories with the rest of the losers piled into the back. He was grateful he was smart enough even as a dumb brat of a kid to save money. 

 

He went over to the cliff that each of the losers had jumped off of the day they all truly became friends. The day that Beverly had proven to Richie that girls could be much braver than any of the boys they knew. But then again, perhaps it was just Beverly. Richie pulled on his cigarette, thinking of the spitfire beauty of the group. God he’d do anything if Beverly had asked him, plenty of days they spent sitting side by side having a cigarette and Beverly would tell him what plans she was making for the summer. Or they’d groan and complain about the endless work they had. That they should have been doing right then but they didn’t because they hated doing work. Even though they both passed all of their classes with flying colors.

 

Ben better man up already, otherwise Richie was gonna have to throw hands. They loved each other, Richie knew, the way their eyes connected and said things no words ever could. The way Ben followed Beverly around and told her how amazing she was anytime it deemed to be socially acceptable. He thinks Beverly must know by now, has to know. Has to feel the way Ben’s heart breaks every time she mentions Bill like he’s the savior of the group. Because even Richie feels that. But perhaps it’s because in a way, he relates to Ben. 

 

Wanting to have something you can’t just take is one of the hardest things in the world. Pressing kisses to wounds that aren’t yours to kiss. Holding and cheering on someone when they don’t think you mean it in the ways that you burn to say. But Ben has a chance. Richie mourns. It’s self loathing but it’s honest. Ben has a chance to say what he wants to say and he should definitely fucking say it. He doesn’t have to worry about the social cues. Doesn’t have to worry about ending up on a missing poster just because he loves someone. 

 

Because he’s not gay. Because he can say sweet sappy shit and write stupid poems and not be considered dirty or wrong. Not have to worry about looking over his shoulder because he’s a ‘fag’. Richie envies Ben, but would never wish harm upon his friend. The boy was the sweetest in the group and Richie was sure that if anyone ever touched Ben again he might actually kill someone.

God knows he nearly killed the boy that hurt Stanley. 

 

He nearly didn’t stop punching the guy even as the cartilage in the boy’s nose crunched under his knuckles. Nearly didn’t stop even when the pain from piercing his skin on bloodied teeth started to simmer in his nerve endings. He did stop though, when he heard Stan’s soft whimper through the fit of coughing the faceless bully left him in. Because that’s all the boy was, faceless. One of the many bullies thinking it was okay to fuck with the Losers group. Even now that Bill was on the football team and the Losers were supposed to just be a normal occurrence in the high schools daily lives. 

 

Richie frowned and reached for another cigarette. Lighting this one without any care. The flame from the lighter swept forward and burnt his thumb. He didn’t even have it in him to pretend it hurt. Even as the skin turned puffy and red and he was sure it was meant to hurt. 

 

His heart throbbed when he remembers how sad Stanley was, the boy bundled in his arms and crying. So sad as if that were the proper word to describe the ache in the dirty blonde’s chest. It wasn’t. Of course but Richie was never good with words. He was good with a pen, sure, able to put down his thoughts properly in a makeshift journal he kept in the space between his mattress and the box spring. Only using it when the nights seemed to get worse and he knew no one was coming over.

 

Too many late nights were spent with his knees curled up and a trembling hand would write every dirty thought he had on a tear stained page. Which was stupid, Richie would think, because who the hell would peg him for the kind to write down his thoughts? No one. Richie was sure. Because who spared him two thoughts? Who looks at Richie and says “Wow, that’s someone I want to talk to more?”

 

Eddie apparently didn’t. The taste of something vile creeping up with the burn of the menthol. The earlier scene replaying in his head. 

 

“Shut the fuck up Richard.”

 

It wasn’t even the cautious Beep Beep Richie that everyone would say when he got to be too much. Which, happened to be every day. Maybe he really did push too far. It was meant to be a simple joke, but of course it blew up in Richie’s face. Because it always does. Anything Richie says is a joke, even when he wished it wasn’t. Even when he genuinely means that he cares, and that he wants people to laugh at his jokes. Bill and Eddie told him he has to be funny for them to laugh at his stupid jokes. It was stupid to think that hurt as much as it did. But of course, despite what anyone ever thought about him, Richie was a perfectionist with everything he set his mind to. So knowing that even while being a joke, he was very much a fuck up. He couldn’t even make his friend’s laugh. So why bother talking? 

 

Perhaps the doll of him with sewn lips was what everyone wanted. Someone who didn’t talk or make shitty jokes. God knows his parents told him to shut up every five minutes. If his parents wanted him to shut up and not talk, why wouldn’t his friends? He could do that. He thought as he started walking back to his truck, which he had parked by the kissing bridge.

 

 He could be good. Good for others and fit in well. He could be grown up for Stan, be quiet for Eddie. Be sweet for Ben and be mature for Bill. He could be the protector for Beverly when her spitfire heart finally needed to be cradled. Richie could be intelligent for Mike when the boy needed an outlet to talk about something he really wanted to. Richie could be those things if it meant keeping the friends around him happy.

 

He could be those things even if he just wished someone would love him for him.

Chapter Text

It started off as small changes. But they felt it. Couldn’t quite understand what was missing from their daily lives. It should have been a nice change, considering no one was yelling or arguing as much anymore. It felt stale. Like old bread left out over time. Richie hadn’t said a mom joke in about a week. Hadn’t even mentioned Ms. Kaspbrak. He was relaxed, like the roaring waves became a calming tide. 

 

Eddie wasn’t sure he liked it.

 

A few weeks ago Eddie would have loved the idea of a quiet Richie. Loved the thought of coming home to nothing but the sound of his own heartbeat. Because he was getting really sick of Richie’s awful taste in music. However,at first he hadn’t even noticed that there wasn’t any music playing because over the past few weeks, Richie’s music was playing softer, and softer until it was gone altogether. It took him two days to realize it. Normally, Eddie knew exactly what the schedule was. Go home to Richie’s awful music, watch him dance around and laugh about something that happened with the Losers. Make a shitty joke, eat dinner while watching cartoons even when Eddie said he absolutely did not want to watch any. Eddie would branch off, do his own homework and come downstairs where the dishes would always be left and not done so he’d normally shout at Richie about how disgusting he was for leaving dishes in the sink and then do it himself.

 

That hasn’t been the schedule lately. And it’s absolutely rubbing Eddie the wrong way even if it’s exactly what he wanted in the first place. He’d come home to a quiet and spotless house. Dinner would already be started and Richie would be standing, hand in pocket while he flipped or stirred something. Then, instead of cartoons Richie would put on whatever Eddie wanted. Which at one point, just to see if Eddie could get away with it, put on the fucking news. They sat in silence while they ate and Richie was staring at the screen like it didn’t bother him at all. Even if Eddie knew since they were kids that he absolutely hated the news. It was always depressing and more or less gossipy. 

 

Then, as if that wasn’t odd enough, Eddie would come downstairs to no dishes in the sink. He wouldn’t have to say a word, everything was done and it was almost becoming depressing. Eddie should have been happy, of course he should have been. But he wasn’t. It was like a kid that begged for something forever, just to get it, and realize “wow, this isn’t as fun as I thought it would be” after the first few days. Even Richie’s room was clean, even though Eddie half expected Richie to bypass his room completely. Because Richie never gave a shit about what people thought of his room. Except Stanley for some reason, but that might have to do with his ocd. There were plenty of times when Stan would get frustrated with a sock on the floor. 

 

Richie’s posters came down over time. The walls were bare and the only thing still hanging up was a picture of the Losers. It made Eddie concerned more and more over time. Everything that anyone ever complained about, disappeared over time. It was subtle too. It wasn’t all at the same time or in your face. It wasn’t apparent until it may have been deemed too late. 

 

At the lunch table Beverly had told the rest of the Losers that Richie had stopped smoking. Which was fantastic, but confusing. Ben had told the Losers that Richie was hanging out around the library lately, studying. Which was also really great because Richie was smart and his academics were always important. But everyone knew Richie didn’t need it. Bill had told them that Richie wasn’t wearing Hawaiian shirts, instead wearing a simple black jacket over plain shirts. That rubbed Eddie the wrong way. Of course it did. Richie loved bright colors and awful tacky patterns. Richie was helping Mike around the farm too, doing whatever mike wanted him to do and talking to him about Derry. Which Mike appreciated, but was odd because Richie wasn’t the farming type. 

 

It wasn’t until Stanley said that Richie was being oddly quiet lately that everyone nodded their heads. That it became truly apparent that Richie wasn’t the same after the past few weeks. Eddie was going to talk to Richie about it at home, but Richie stopped him and asked if he’d mind staying over at one of their friend’s house for a night. When Eddie asked why, Richie just said that he was bringing a girl over. 

 

It disgusted Eddie. Made him feel gross but it made perfect sense with all of Richie’s changes. Maybe it was good for Richie. Getting on track and doing good things for himself and his friends. He asked Stanley to hang out that night. To which of course, Stan agreed. 

Eddie really wishes he hadn’t left the house.

 

Chapter Text

Everyone seemed happier and Richie was more than proud of himself for being the cause of that. Even if technically, wasn’t him. No one questioned it. He didn’t have to say anything at all. So he didn’t. Even when his lips parted and he oh so ached to be a part of the conversation. Even when he noticed the confused glances left behind by Eddie and Stanley on occasion. He didn’t say a word. 

 

The bullying got worse and no one noticed.

 

It wasn’t that they ever truly noticed before anyway, Richie was perfectly fine at taking care of himself as he grew older. Tired of being afraid to walk home by himself. But that didn’t mean it didn’t hurt every time his side was kicked in by a steel toe. He was only human after all. He couldn’t fight back an army of bullies. No one noticed because Richie never let them. Covering his body with makeup he bought at the store. If the woman at the counter noticed, she never said anything. Too busy judging him with her empty gaze. Richie learned by watching Beverly. Being a fast learner he was able to replicate a simple ‘makeup free’ look. But living with Eddie meant he always had to have it on until right before he went to sleep. Which was a hassle. Especially when he noticed that his skin was starting to crack and become a pinkish red.

 

Richie would look over the littering of bruises and his over prominent ribs in the mirrors and slowly begin to spiral into a pool of self hatred. He wasn’t strong like Bill, or Mike, or even Ben. He was lanky and long limbed and unhealthy looking. The further dark eyes looked the more he hated. It became a dysphoric mess of anger and sadness. No one loved him for him. He thought they’d love him for being a clown. A chaotic riot of laughter and enjoyment. For making them laugh. But he was wrong. Boy was he wrong. They didn’t love him for that. They treated him like adults would when he was a child, wrong and outgrown.

 

Please don’t leave me.

 

He’d plead in his dreams. In his daily life when he looked in the mirror to see in fact, another bruise on his cheek. Please don’t go. I just want to be loved. Please. A recurring thought that would become a chant on his chapped lips. Until he was sitting in the bottom of the tub, scrubbing at already raw skin to get rid of distaste that plagued his body. There were scratch marks on his legs, from where he raked his nails to get rid of the dirt that didn’t exist. He didn’t even want to look down, the genitalia between his legs causing him to struggle to be happy and fall in love.

 

That doesn’t mean he wants to be a girl. Because he doesn’t. He just wants to fall in love and not worry anymore. Not be called slurs and treated poorly because he loved who he loved. But who did he love? No one would bat an eye at him if he told them. Because he’s a man. Because he’s doomed to being alone his entire life. His mother told him when he was young, to never speak about how he wanted to marry a boy again. Because his parents knew. Of course they knew. Which made it worse. 

 

The bullies all knew too and the Losers would never believe them because it was so wrong to be a faggot.

 

Even now Richie looks at the pictures on the walls,  those that that he hasn’t moved since his parents left him behind. He still looks at them and thinks ‘ Wow, I really broke us all up didn’t I?’.

 

He’d get drunk before bed too growing up. No one was ever the wiser. Always in a cycle of headache and stomach cramps from drinking too much of his mother’s leftover beer and booze. Hard stuff, the kind that a child barely reaching fourteen should be drinking. The stuff that burns throats and puts hair on the chest. Richie would drink whatever he could find, hoping that perhaps he’d learn to be loved that way. 

 

He threw up every day before school. 

 

It wasn’t until he heard Stanley complaining about how the smell of alcohol hurt his nose that he stopped cold turkey. It was before he knew the other Losers. Before Eddie, and before Bill. This was before the first cold sip of beer touched Stanley’s virgin throat and Richie watched with interest as the look on his face went from normal to scrunched with disgust. Until Stanley was drunk with the rest of the Losers and Richie had to decide if he wanted to pretend it grossed him out too or if he wanted to be the one that took care of them.

 

So he did the latter. Took the drink, made the best grossed out face he could make and then finished the drink off in a single chug when no one was looking.  Then never drank again, making an excuse any time someone asked why that it was just too disgusting for him to drink. That he preferred sweet things rather than the burn that always made his stomach a tad too warm.

 

He was lying of course. Because that’s all he ever really did. All he ever was. A lie. A sham. Someone who pretended to be what he wasn’t so people would love him. Maybe he deserved the kicks to the ribs. The punches to the face and fists in his hair. He could handle that. Feel the pain on the outside rather than the inside. The pain felt good and he’d never have to hurt himself because the bullies would do that for him. He was a liar and a good for nothing towards his friends and it’s difficult because he knows they do love him. But it’s not him.

 

When he locks his door so Eddie wouldn’t walk in on him while he’s asleep. When he sits on the bed and turns out most of the lights save for the “Invader Zim” nightlight he was gifted as a child by the only time he ever saw his uncle; he wonders to himself. 

 

Do I even know who I am?

Chapter Text

When he asked Eddie to stay somewhere else for a night, he had to come up with an excuse on the spot. He didn’t really think the smaller boy would ask why. But then again, Richie was never a step ahead. So when Eddie looked up at him with a raised eyebrow with confusion in his eyes Richie sputtered the first thing that would make sense. 

 

“I’m actually uh, bringing a girl over Eds.” He lied through his teeth. 

 

For once he really wished Eddie wouldn’t actually believe him. I’m Gay! Please, don’t believe me, please just tell me you want to stay. Please don’t Go. Don’t leave me to face this alone. He screams it in the back of his mind and yet, he knew when Eddie nodded and rolled his eyes, the screams weren’t heard. Of course not. Who would ever second guess a hormonal teenager who used to joke about fucking moms about bringing a girl over? No one. Richie would guess.

 

“That’s fucking disgusting Trashmouth. Fine, I’ll go ask Stan to stay the night. But you better not fuck on my bed or I’ll kick your ass.” 

 

“Oh Eddie Spaghetti, I promise, no I SWEAR I won’t be fucking on your bed.” He smiled. Because at least this time, he wasn’t lying. 

 

“Better not be fucking lying to me ‘Chee. I really will kick your ass.” 

Richie felt the soft beat of his own heart roar when he heard his nickname. The nickname only Eddie ever called him. That one thing that was only for him to hear. Of course he was called Rich by the others. But ‘Chee was Eddie’s. 

 

Eddie had called Stan and packed his stuff. Only taking an overnight bag and a days worth of his medicine. Leaving the pills in the bathroom that Richie had painstakingly cleaned those many weeks ago. Richie watched Eddie leave, and pretended that he wasn’t terrified of his father coming home in less than an hour. He had even smiled when the boy left.

 

He wasn’t smiling now. Nothing made him want to smile right now. Not the empty house or the lingering feeling in his chest that something just wasn’t right. That he should have made Eddie stay and dealt with his father’s angry letters later rather than him up close and personal. Richie was never good at planning ahead though. Never really thought things through. Always working based on instinct and something told him that Eddie being out of the house was better than him being in it when his father stopped by.

 

So while Richie waited for his father to come home, he busied himself cleaning up anything and everything. Hands trembling as he wiped over the table for the third time after he had mopped the floors. One thing, he had never told any of the Losers, was that Richie was in fact, very much capable of being an adult.

 

He just hated them.

 

Adults never did anything for any of them. So why look up to them? Why want to be the thing that hurt you the most? Why want to grow up and be an alcoholic? Grow up to get shitty jobs and learn to write cursive that will only come in handy when you’re writing out divorce papers. Go off to college and gather a shit ton of  debt that you’ll spend all of your life trying to pay off. Richie wasn’t even fifteen when he had to forge his father’s handwriting to go on school trips. He remembers how badly his fingers cramped trying and rewriting the same name repeatedly until he got it down perfectly. 

 

He’d taught himself how to write beautifully written letters that only a child with the sincere want to be loved could make up. 

 

“Hey Son!” He’d write in his perfectly imperfect cursive that looked too much like his father’s. “I’m writing this letter to let you know I’m proud of you. That you’re doing great things and I’m really glad to know you’ve made some good friends. Your mother and I are working really hard so we won’t be home for awhile but I promise you that we’ll be back soon! Love you, keep up the great work. Love- Your father.”

 

Richie used to write those kinds of letters, and mail them to himself months later, having forgotten what he wrote on them in the first place. A sweet surprise when he had aced his test and got a letter in the mail from his ‘father’ saying he did a good job. Even when he cried that night knowing his father would never actually write these letters. Neither would his mother who could barely gurgle out a simple “hello” when he walked in from school. Richie grew up in a household where no one listened or cared for his existence. Teetering on the rigid edge of physical abuse. His father would come very close to putting his hands on Richie. Especially if he was in his immediate line of sight. There was only once, and it was the last time that Richie ever saw his father.

 

“Dad!”

 

His father walked around him too busy yelling at his mother to really care about the child he had helped bring into the world. 

 

“Dad! Please!” The boy cried. Walking in front of his father and grabbing at the man’s perfectly pressed suit. But the man just shoved the boy precariously to the side. Richie, having been scrawny, barely weighing a thing. Had of course fallen.

 

“Dad why don’t you Listen to me?!” He screamed instead. Loud enough he couldn’t hear his mother shushing him in the distance. She knew what was happening. She knew what was coming.

 

But she didn’t stop it.

 

The front door opened and Richie was broken out of his thoughts. In came his father, in what looked to be the same perfectly pressed suit. Looking much older, and much more angry. Like even being in the house was some sort of grievance to him. Richie stood tall, hands in his pockets and hoping his father would at least say something like a simple “hello.”

 

He didn’t. The man he had wanted to be like as a child, simply looked at him and then around the house and said with a disgusted frown to his lips. 

 

“Disgusting.”

 

It wasn’t. Richie knew that. Eddie would never let the house become a disgusting mess. But Richie knew in that moment that his father wasn’t talking about the house. He was talking about Richie himself. His faggot son. He felt his stomach drop.

 

“Hey Dad.”

 

He heard a ‘Tsk’ and that was that. Nothing else. His father walked right passed him. The silence was worse than the yelling. Richie decided then. At least when Eddie said he was disgusting, he said it with a fond smile. At least when Stan sat in silence, watching birds with him, Richie never felt the same time of burning in his eyes. He rubbed at them with the back of his hand. 

 

The man, who Richie barely wanted to call his father, walked up the stairs and Richie almost wanted to follow him. He didn’t though. He knew better than to get in the way of his father. There wasn’t much stuff left of his father’s in the house after he left the first time. But more than likely, he was there for whatever was left. Whatever clothes, jewelry he could sell, anything that his mother could possibly use as a debate in their oncoming divorce. 

 

Wentworth Tozier had gone upstairs and was pulling apart his old bedroom. That hadn’t been touched since he left. Ripping out drawers and filling up bags with whatever he deemed valuable. Richie could hear it. The banging upstairs. He didn’t know if he should go up there. Until he heard glass breaking. Which he was absolutely positive was a picture frame. 

 

Richie was tall enough that he took three steps up at a time. Worrying his teeth between his lips. He turned down the hallway to check his parent’s room, only to realize that his father wasn’t at all in his own room. But in fact, in Eddie’s. The picture frame on Eddie’s wall was broken and Richie watched as his father glared at the bathroom cabinet.

 

It was at this second, that the panic finally set in. 

 

“Richie I’m giving you to the count of three to tell me why Eddie’s Medicine is in this bathroom.”

 

There was that same tone his father had all those years ago. The same tone that he used when he was yelling at his mother but even worse, because despite everything, he did have a love for the woman. He didn’t for his own son though.

 

“Eddie has been staying over for a few nights is all. Figured he could put his meds in the cabinet instead of keeping it in his fanny pack.”

 

“Dad why don’t you Listen to me?!” The boy screamed and cried.

 

His father had backhanded him hard enough he hit his head against the table. Tasting the blood on his lips after his teeth cut the soft skin. 

 

“I don’t listen to Fairies!”  Went had said to his son.

 

Richie hadn’t known at the time what that meant until he got older. When Bowers had said it to him again in that arcade. But now, that tone of voice he had heard from his father had him prepared for the grit teeth and panic in his veins. 

 

“Don’t fucking lie to me. You’re fucking that boy aren’t you? In MY house!”

 

“I’m not lying! He really is just staying here! I sleep in my own room and he stays in here! Really dad I’m not ly-” He really wishes his voice didn’t crack in the middle of his sentence. He swallows when he’s interrupted. Once again, like all those years ago. 

 

“Why don’t you ever Shut the fuck up Richard? Still haven’t grown the hell up. Snot nosed fucking brat- you know I never wanted a son? But your mother wouldn’t abort you. Your mother would go on and on and on about how you were the light of her fucking life. But guess what? Turns out you were nothing but an ungrateful fucking faggot”

 

Richie felt the hands on his chest faster than he saw his father move. He was shoved against Eddie’s dressed behind him and he suddenly wished he was in his own room. Eddie would be mad if he broke any of his belongings. 

 

So he fled from the room with his father trailing after him hot on his heels.

 

“Get back here when I’m talking to you you ungrateful Brat!” 

 

There was a hand in his hair when he got out into the hallway and suddenly he was launched down the stairs head first. The world was spinning and his wrist bent in just the right way where he heard the crack and felt the pain but nothing was coming out of his mouth. Fight or flight response kicking in. He chose flight, he tried to scramble up onto his feet and bolt for the door but a sizeable boot was landing on his ribs the second he tried. The pain blooming slowly instead of rapidly like his wrist had. 

 

“Take it like a man Richard. If I have to beat the faggot out of you I will. You’ll learn then. Shit, maybe I should get that girl you used to hang out with so much. Heard she really takes a fuckin hit like a champ. I always thought maybe being around the slut would get you to learn how to be a man. Turns out you’ll always be nothing but a fucking disappointment-”

 

Another blow to the stomach caused Richie struggling to find breath. Dry heaving the food he hadn’t eaten that day. His parent’s knew the people Richie would hang out with. It was the talk of the town when Beverly was walking around with six boys on her own. Richie would never forget how strong Bev was and how much he idolized her ability to ignore the nasty names people called her. 

 

“Dad please st-” 

 

“I’m not your father. I’ll never be your father you disgusting pig. My son is not a fairy. My son doesn’t beg for a dick up his ass. Bet you’d like that wouldn’t you? Nasty piece of shit. You’d love for a man to rape to you just like your mother did. Lucky for you though, you won’t end up knocked up. In the end, you always were your mother’s son.” 

 

Richie was sobbing then. The tears pouring down his cheeks as his father lands one last balled fist to the side of his head. Went leaves Richie lying on the floor wheezing for breath. He goes upstairs, grabs the bags he had filled with things and comes back downstairs to give his last few words to him.

 

“You’re not going to tell anyone about this. Understand me? Because if you do, I’m kicking you and your little boyfriend out of this house and you’ll both be left on the streets.”

 

The raven nodded, the knowledge of his poor mother being the worst thing said to him that entire night as Went leaves the Tozier household. Richie curled up after he closed the door, screaming against the cold tile as the blood from his lips spilled out once again. All these years later. He sobbed until there was nothing left but his shaking form and the pain was blossoming into something a little less manageable. 

 

Richie knew his wrist was broken by the way it throbbed. So he did what he had done to Eddie’s arm all those years ago. He snapped it back in place. It hurt. Of course it hurt. But nothing felt close to the pure mind numbing ache the entire ordeal had brought upon him. Richie stood up on autopilot, going upstairs, grabbing pain medicine and wrapping his wrist up in a makeshift cast that consisted of the cheap bandaging you’d get from the drug store. He put it tight and refused to look at the rest of him. Though he knew Eddie would murder him if he didn’t at some point.

 

His father could have done it, Richie realizes a little late. His father just beat him to the point where he could have snapped his neck going down those steps. It brings another sob bubbling to his lips. Trying his very best to ignore it, the tall boy winces as he cleans up the glass that his father broke. He couldn’t do this. He decided. So he did what his mother would have probably done.

 

Richie goes downstairs and rummages in the back of the cabinet where he finds the vodka his mother had left all those years ago. Collecting dust and unopened. Opening it, the idea made him sick to his stomach but in the end, he took a long swig. The burning in his throat numbing the throbbing in his chest. He took a breath, and took another swig before putting the bottle back on the counter. 

 

Going back upstairs slowly, and ignoring the small dent in the railing where his shoulder hit hard enough, Richie finally chanced a look at his body. He peeled off his shirt and saw the blooming boot print on his side. Laughing a bit maniacally, because he could see each and every line the shoe was made with. Everything felt numb now, he knows it should hurt. His entire body was covered with bruises, new and old. From bullies and accidental trips. Now, from his father. He took more pain killers. Three more, which was definitely more than he should have taken considering he just took two. 

 

He sat in the bathtub and ran the hot water, his pants and socks still on. Richie couldn’t bend over to take them off without hurting his ribs. Sitting there for what felt like hours under the steady stream of the shower head until the tub filled. In the end he drifted off to the sound of whimpers and sobs. Those were his own. Something no one could say were fake. No one could say he was making them up. His cries were his and no one could take that away from him.

 

That’s all he needed when he debated opening the rest of the medicine bottles and downing each and every pill that he had in his own cabinet. Because he would never take Eddie’s meds even if they were real and not some gazebo.  He needed to hear that he was honest with at least something.  

 

It must have been hours later when woke up to startled screaming of his name. His own eyes widening slightly when he realized Beverly and Ben were in the bathroom with him and grabbing at his feverish skin. He opened his lips but nothing came out. His body shaking too much to allow him to piece together what to say. 

 

“Ben we gotta get him to the hospital” Richie heard distantly. Maybe his body had finally started to die. Maybe that’s why he felt so gross. 

 

He felt hands on him, gentle and sweet. Inwardly, it made him feel loved despite the pain in his ribs. A torn gasp leaves his lips despite himself. Richie felt like he was being torn apart limb from limb. The alcohol in his system no longer easing the pain. Why were they there? He wondered idly despite the pain. No one used to come visit unless he had asked. Which, understandably so, because he asked people to come over often. 

 

“Bev, call the others. I can’t get him down the stairs safely without hurting him. He’s soaked too.” 

 

Richie shook his head, he didn’t want to go to the hospital. He finally tried stuttering out, “b..bed. No hospital please.. Please..don’t wanna go.. Ill be fine..”

 

Beverly looked like an Angel when she swooped in and nodded. Telling Ben that when the others get there they need to get him out of his wet clothes and onto the bed. She understood, Richie thought. Richie hated hospitals more than anything, and this wasn’t something he was ready to talk about. So despite anyone’s better judgement, she turned on the hot water to help soothe his trembling. 

 

Richie loved Beverly to an alarming degree in that moment, because if it were Eddie or Stan or any of the other Losers. They’d have forced him to go. 

 

She never forced him to do anything. 

 

He really loved that about her.

 

Chapter Text

Hi everyone. This is. Layla. The writer of this fic. Ive been getting comments lately about my safety and how my upload schedule has dropped immensely. And it is true. It truly has. I apologize profusely for not being able to keep up properly. 

This work has taken alot out of me. But it means so much to me and i really want for it to come out properly. Richie Tozier in this fic is going through alot of abuse. Some of these things I have gone through myself. Alot of mental health issues I went through every day growing up. And some of the feelings I've poured out in this fic are personal in its own right. So I of course appreciate all the support it gets. 

The next chapter should be up in a few days tops. And it should be a break in the amount of pain that has been in the last few chapters for those who are getting tired of the angst. Theres going to be some important things discussed in this next chapter and I appreciate everyone staying until this point. 

As for me, i am OKAY. My mental health has depleted a bit but I am working through it. I've also been busy working on an art comission lately. So all of my time is split into pieces as I'm just trying to keep things afloat and stable. Thank you to those who have worried about me. Thank you to those who continue to support my writing and care enough to leave comments that honestly make my day much much better.

Please know I havent dropped this fic. With holidays coming up as well, i'm trying to find odd jobs on top of my current one to pay for my apartment and other things.  But I promise to spend more time writing for this fic when I can.

Once again, thank you for your support. THANK YOU for every kind word i've read so far and I hope I can provide a good experience with this fic. Thank you. Thank you thank you. ♡♡♡♡♡♡