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Dealing with It

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How their lives became disgustingly domestic, he’ll never know. One day, both he and Richie had finally caught up to the fact that they both loved each other. And the next, they were living together in a nice, two-story house in Greenwich Village, married, with kids and a dog.

The Village is certainly quieter than where they used to live, before the kids. After all that had happened with Derry and the fallout from it, Eddie had found himself living in Richie’s apartment.

Then they got married.

And then one of them had the idea about kids.

And then the twins swung into their lives. 

It all sort of spiralled out from there, really.

Eddie has one hand of each twin in his. Richie lags behind them; Sophie curled up in one arm, while he talks to his manager on the phone. After a big lunch, he expects that all of the kids will fall into bed for naps. And he quietly hopes so. Sophie is almost there already, hiding her face into her dad’s neck to get out of the harsh summer sun.

Just over Richie’s shoulder, Eddie can see some paparazzi with cameras trailing behind. They’ve been like that for almost ten minutes now; but he can’t imagine what kind of article they’re going to get from following the Tozier-Kaspbrak family having a lunch out with their pack of kids.

It’s something Eddie has gotten progressively used to. Sometimes, on their journey to stores or cafes to meet with friends, a handful of cameras will follow them for a time; until it becomes apparent that Richie Tozier has become quite possibly the most boring man to ever exist.

Then again, adopt three kids and a dog, and yeah, any chance of getting a juicy news article written about you goes out the window.

So the ones following them now, seeing if they’re going to do anything worth picturing, they’ll leave in a couple of minutes if the trend stays the same.

Eddie looks behind him. Richie is still on the phone, nodding occasionally and offering a quiet yeah. Hiding under his chin is Sophie’s head, nose buried into his chest as her grip on his shirt starts to slacken. When he meets Eddie’s gaze, he offers a small smile. Sorry, he mouths. Followed by an exaggerated eye roll.

Eddie tries not to laugh.

Both Allie and Lucas walk contently by Eddie’s side, swinging both of his arms with each step. “Can you drive us to school tomorrow, daddy?” Allie asks, eyes cast down at her worn, converse shoes. She’s been avoiding the cracks in the pavement since leaving the restaurant; and doing a pretty good job of it.

Eddie nods. “Sure thing, princess.”

“Is Dad going away again?” Lucas asks – because once one twin starts with the questions, the other isn’t far behind.

Eddie glances over his shoulder. He bites the inside of his lip. “I don’t know, Luke.” He turns back to his son. “But if he does, we can have plenty of fun ourselves. Can’t we?”

Lucas answers with an exaggerated nod.

Allie makes a sort of distressed sound by his side. Before he can even ask what’s wrong, she’s already looking up at him with wide, blue eyes. “I stepped on a crack,” she says, glancing down at her foot. Her toes have only grazed it, but Eddie knows Allie well enough to know that even that counts as a hit.

“It’s alright,” he soothes, letting her step back on to the full concrete slab, and trying to step over the join again. When she clears it this time, she grins, but mostly to herself. Allie’s little neuroses have caught his attention in the last year and a half. Quietly watching from the ajar door of her bedroom or the kitchen table, he’s noticed them. As has Richie. But neither of them has actually commented on them.

Once Allie is back in her stride, the rest of the walk home goes well.

By the time Richie’s manager finally lets his husband go, Sophie has become a dead weight in his arm. Richie picks up a couple of strides to catch up with the rest of them.

“What did Robert want you for?” Eddie asks, already knowing the answer.

Richie huffs, switching Sophie from one arm to another. “Just to ask about something.”

“Do I know what that something is?”

“Next year’s tour,” Richie explains, peering at the girl in his arms to see how deep into sleep she’s slipped. “He’s thinking of adding more dates. Tickets for the show sold out within minutes apparently.”

If either twin is concerned with or listening to their conversation, neither makes it known. Allie still makes exaggerated steps over cracks, and Lucas keeps his hand firmly caught in Eddie’s while he takes in the passing storefronts and displays.

Eddie makes a sound. “It’s more time spent away from us,” he says quietly, looking over at his husband.

Richie holds his gaze. “I can always say no,” he offers.

Eddie shakes his head. “No, no. You love your fans. Even the ones who berate you on Twitter. Add more dates. Keep them happy.”

“You’re the best, Eddie Spaghetti,” Richie leans over children to place a quick kiss on Eddie’s cheek. A small smile curls along his lip. “And I know that it’s you leading those smear campaigns. Who else would have that much dirt on me?”

 


 

The twins are parked in front of the TV, watching the latest episode of some cartoon.

Sophie is happy enough plodding after Alfie through the house. They’ve already wandered through the upstairs rooms, before deciding that downstairs would be more exciting.

Eddie watches them pass through the kitchen. Sophie doesn’t even acknowledge his existence. “So how long would this tour be then, with the extra dates?” he throws into the kitchen.

He hears Richie sigh behind him, before the other man takes a seat beside him at the kitchen island. Richie comes armed with two glasses of wine. He places one in front of Eddie. “Two months,” he answers, looking across into the living room, where neither of the twins has moved in the last thirty minutes. Thank God for kid’s shows getting longer. Richie shrugs. “It’ll just be America, though. So you don’t have to worry about me going abroad.”

Eddie hums. He takes a measured sip of wine. Richie’s gaze is burning into the side of his face. He’s expecting more. What that more is, he isn’t sure. Does he want Eddie to flip? To cry and scream and beg for him to stay? Or does he want him to smile and laugh and say well, enjoy yourself and be genuine about it?

He knew this would be a thing. Ever since Richie started writing his own material, the audience reaction soared. Within months, Richie had this new following of people behind him. It only increased when he started mentioning his boyfriend, later husband, in his acts. Apparently having an out comedian talk shit about his partner on stage for an hour and a half was what the kids appreciate these days.

Eddie’s eyelids flicker closed at the feeling of long fingers comb through his hair. “I can say no, Eds,” Richie says quietly. “I don’t have to do it. A month is long enough. And I can be back with you and the tykes as quick as anything. I’m sure people would understand.”

Eddie could work from home. He’s done it before. Sure, the sitter still has to come and make sure that while Eddie is in his office, on a call with a client or making a new report, the kids don’t run riot. But at least he’s here, and always a scream of DADDY away.

He leans back into the touch. “Its fine, Rich. Really.” When he opens his eyes, he tries not to smile at the slightly bewildered look on his husband’s face. With Richie’s fingers scratching the base of his skull, Eddie smiles. “Go and be a Millennial Icon for two months. We’ll always be a call away.”

Richie leans forward and catches Eddie’s lips with his. It takes a minute for Richie to break away. His usual stupid, lopsided grin is plastered over his face. He opens his mouth, about to say something; but is interrupted by a loud call.

“DAD! Lucas won’t give me the remote!”

Richie’s grin disappears almost instantly. His eyes barely hold off the urge to roll.

Eddie nudges the other man’s shoulder. “You’re ‘Dad’,” he smirks, nodding to the living room. “Off you go.”

 


 

Two psychiatrists in New York have most of their shared childhood trauma sitting in their office. Eddie likes to think it’s a bit like those cardboard moving boxes. But the entirety of those poor people’s offices are stuffed full of baggage from both of them. He supposes that it’s good. While they both still go to therapy every week or so, upon the initial orders of one Beverly Marsh who swore to kill them if they kept keeping shit to themselves, life is good now. Eddie’s neuroses have been dampened slightly, but still do flair up every so often. Richie doesn’t flinch anytime someone mentions the word gay. He doesn’t rip his hand back whenever Eddie links their hands together on their walks outside. He’s fine.

That’s not to say that shadows don’t still linger. Sometimes nightmares come and poke at them, reminding them that, yes, life is good now, but don’t forget what happened—

Eddie is the one to get it tonight. When he scrambles into wakefulness, he can’t remember what actually scared him off in the first place. Their room looks out on to the main street. Orange streetlamps stationed along the street cast soft, warm light into the room, even though the curtains have been drawn. Through a small crack in the join, a beam of light reaches for the end of their bed.

He can make out everything in their room: the end of their bed and the hoard of blankets and throws kicked down there during the night, the dressers and wardrobe, and the door to their bathroom. Everything is sitting quite comfortably in their normal places. Eddie glances down. During the night, he’s managed to haul most of the blankets over to his side of the bed. Looking over at Richie, Eddie tries not to smile at the very familiar sight of his husband sleeping, long limbs splayed out in all directions.

He shuffles back, sitting against the headboard of the bed. The house is silent. Occasionally, there will be the whoosh of a car driving through the street outside. But for the most part, he finds himself sitting in silence. For the first time, he realises that it isn’t an uncomfortable silence. The back of his head hits the top of the headboard. The world is quiet, but still ticking along outside, and it’s nice.

He isn’t sure how much time actually passes. But after a while, there’s shuffling beside him. Before Eddie can even turn his head to see what’s happening, he’s ensnared by two long arms, and hauled back down on to the bed and pulled against Richie’s chest. “Why’re you awake?” he mumbles into Eddie’s neck.

Eddie shuffles slightly, letting one of Richie’s arms loop underneath his head. Using it as a pillow, Eddie’s hands curl against Richie’s chest. Faintly, he can feel it beating; a steady and firm rhythm that seems to ease Eddie’s own mind. “Don’t know,” he eventually answers.

Richie hums, and within seconds, is asleep again.  

 


 

The morning Richie has to leave for his tour goes as well as Eddie expected.

His first show is in L.A, and his flight leaves in five hours. Eddie’s already awake, because Richie certainly isn’t. Breakfast cooks steadily on the burners; eggs and bacon, with bread toasting nearby. Eddie hopes that maybe the smell of the food will be enough to stir Richie awake. If not, he’s going to have to go and haul his ass out of bed. Again.

Two suitcases sit at the foot of the staircase, with a small rucksack perched on top of one of them: all packed by Eddie, because watching Richie stand in front of their shared wardrobe, wondering how many pairs of jeans he would actually need for two months of travelling just was too much stress to handle.

Eddie keeps a rubber spatula cutting through the eggs. They won’t take long to cook, and hopefully, Richie will actually get himself to the kitchen before it starts to get cold.

Even though the sun is only starting to peer over the roofs of neighbouring houses, and the sky hasn’t even turned shades of light blue yet, Sophie stumbles into the kitchen, rubbing her eyes. “Has Dada gone?” she asks in a cracked, not fully awake, voice.

Eddie takes the pan off of the burner. “Not yet, pumpkin,” he says, turning to watch the toddler wander aimlessly over to him. Ensnared in one arm is her teddy bear – a birthday gift from Uncle Ben and Aunty Bevvy. He runs his fingers through the tangled mop of straw-coloured hair on top of Sophie’s head. He offers her a small smile. “But breakfast is nearly ready, and I need him to get up before it goes cold. Could you get him for me?”

Almost instantly, all traces of sleep vanish from the little girl as she turns on her heel and scrambles upstairs.

The twins said their goodbyes last night after dinner. Sophie’s bedtime is before there’s, and while Eddie was carrying a tired Sophie up to bed, he watched as both twins huddle into Richie’s side, effectively pinning him to the sofa. It’s never easy on any of them when Richie leaves, but the twins are at an age now where they understand; Dad will come home eventually, and he’ll stay at home for months on end to make up for being away.  

But Sophie is still so young, and sometimes she doesn’t understand. It’s one of the reasons why Richie started leaving early in the morning; if the kids are still asleep, he can slip out without causing too much hassle. But maybe Sophie will appreciate seeing her dad off.

Eddie grabs a couple of plates, putting them beside the stovetop. He’s about to serve up portions of eggs and bacon when he hears a shrill scream. Shoving the pans off of the burners, Eddie turns and races for the stairs. His heart hammers inside his chest, battering his ribcage, wanting to burst through.

His heart only starts to settle when he realises that the scream has turned into high-pitched giggling. In the middle of the landing, near the twin’s bedroom door, Richie is in the middle of flinging Sophie over his shoulder. Holding firmly on to her legs, her entire head and torso have flopped over and rest against Richie’s back.

“What are you doing?” Eddie hisses, looking quickly over to the nearest bedroom door.  “You’ll wake the twins!”

Richie doesn’t stop. If anything, and to Eddie’s annoyance, he starts swaying side to side. “Sorry babe, but I was attacked by a three-foot-tall monster this morning,” Richie turns around, swinging Sophie with the movement. Eddie’s breath catches in his throat; even though Sophie is in no danger of falling, or whacking her head into the wall.  “And I’m just trying to find where it’s gone. I swear, it was right here a few seconds ago.”

“I’m here!” Sophie giggles, her hands then slapping over her mouth as another shrill shriek leaves her when Richie turns back around.

Eddie makes a sound in the back of his throat. “Richie, the twins-”

“-Can sleep through natural disasters.” Richie nods to the bedroom door. Truthfully, Eddie doesn’t hear either of them walking around inside. And if Richie had been playing with Sophie for this long, and neither twin had already come outside to see what was going on, he’s going to assume that they are probably still asleep.

Eventually, Richie hauls Sophie back over his shoulder and into his arms. “Never bounce on me like that again, young lady,” he says with the up-most serious of voices he can manage: one not entirely helped by the put-on frown he’s wearing.

And Sophie, quite rightly, sees right through it. “Daddy told me to wake you up because breakfast was ready,” she smiles, hiding her face into Richie’s neck.

Richie’s eyebrows lift almost to his hairline. “Oh, so it’s daddy who ordered this attack?”

Eddie rolls his eyes and turns back to the stairs. “Breakfast is ready.”

They eventually follow Eddie down the stairs. He watches Sophie stay curled up in one of Richie’s arms, pointing at the skillets, mumbling that she wants some eggs and bacon too. Eddie helps bring over the plates, because it becomes painfully obvious that Sophie’s arms aren’t going to release him for a bit.

“Don’t go,” a small voice whines into Richie’s neck.

“I’ll be home before you know it. And you can call me whenever you want, princess,” he soothes, setting her down at the table. He pushes her plate in front of her. “But I need you to promise me something.”

Sophie’s eyes are already starting to turn red. Eddie stabs a bit of scrambled egg with his fork. He’s going to have quite an eventful morning trying to consolidate the youngest of their kids, assuring her that yeah, Dad will eventually come home.

Sophie sniffs, rubbing her eyes. “What?”

“Daddy might need help with stuff in the house,” Richie explains, taking a seat beside Sophie. “And he might need help looking after the twins. So I need you to help him, okay?”

All at once, Sophie’s face lights up. “Am I in charge?”

Eddie almost chokes on his eggs. “He didn’t say that, baby-”

“-Absolutely,” Richie smirks, ruffling Sophie’s already messy hair. He throws Eddie a smile before starting his own breakfast.

Sophie only cries a little bit when Richie leaves, and God does Eddie want to too, but as soon as his manager’s car has turned the corner of their street, and Richie is now gone for two months, Sophie marches upstairs to wake the twins. Because she’s in charge.