Richie Tozier had no goddamn idea what he’d done to deserve this.
Ok. He had some idea, but still! Surely his ten minutes being up shouldn’t force him to be subject to veritable torture, with a 5 foot nothing hypochondriac all up in his personal space. All the other losers had gone over their times in the past, and you didn’t see Eddie coming at them with fire and righteous fury, did you?
Ok, fine. He may have been in the hammock for over thirty minutes at this stage, unlike the other Losers’ habits of stretching their time to 15, 20 minutes at most. And maybe he would feel like tearing his heart out of his chest if Eddie did happen to call one of the others out on blatantly stretching the rule, due to his habit of considering the near-daily ritual a personal thing to him and Eddie only.
But still. He truly believed he was in the right here, and that Eddie had no goddamn business looking as fucking pretty as he did while being all up in Richie's personal space.
Whether or not he deserved this aside (he didn’t), Richie knew two things for certain. He fucking loved it when Eddie clambered into the hammock beside him, and he was well and truly fucked when it came to his feelings for the other boy.
If someone were to ask Richie when exactly his feelings for Eddie appeared he’d tell them- Well, actually, it depended on who they were. Chances are he’d blow off the question with a Voice and roll his eyes at the ‘stupidity’ of whoever had questioned him, misinterpreting his actions towards Eddie like that. How strange of them.
But if one of the select few people he wouldn’t feel so uncomfortable telling asked him, someone like Bev or Stan, he’d probably just shrug helplessly at them. And, in the event that they decided to push, he’d admit that they didn’t so much appear one day, not out of the blue like they seemed to expect. No, it was more that he looked across at the smaller boy one day and just went ‘oh.’
‘Oh, so that's why my heart gets fluttery every time I see you.’
‘Oh, so there’s a reason one of the first words that comes to mind when I think of you is beautiful.’
‘Oh, so that warm feeling that spreads through my body whenever we touch does have an explanation.’
Or, to put it more simply; ‘Oh. So this is what love feels like’.
Which, imagining this was being conveyed to either Bev or Stan, would receive either a slightly soft look or an eye roll in response. But Richie, oddly enough, didn’t care about that. It was the truth, after all.
However, neither Bev nor Stan ever asked, and Richie was left somewhere between beating himself up over ending up gay and beating himself over ending up gay then falling in love with Eddie, out of all the goddamn people in the world.
Richie knew what people would say about him, if they knew. Hell, he knew what people already said about him, when the most public evidence of his crush was a lingering stare and two initials carved into the wood of a bridge that could have been left by anyone.
But somehow, that knowledge no longer frightened him. Since when did he let people like Henry fucking Bowers decide who he got to be? And a part of Richie, the same part of him that led to his racing heart and fluttering stomach and slight flush every time Eddie lay with him in that hammock, that part of him said that this couldn’t be truly wrong when it felt so goddamn right.
Richie would’ve been quite happy to lie where he was, lost in thought, for however long it took his mind to process that Eddie was right there oh god his legs were brushing Richies and those fucking shorts holy shit, but it seemed Eddie had other plans. Richie was abruptly broken out of his musings when a foot roughly knocked into the side of his head, and he looked up from the comic that he’d stopped trying to read as soon as Eddie had noticed him still being in the hammock. When he did, he was met with a slightly sheepish smile that disappeared completely as Eddie resumed his previous activity.
That previous activity, as it turned out, had been an attempt to smoothly remove Richie's glasses from his face. With his foot.
Richie wasn’t exactly surprised, per se. Eddie had attempted (and achieved) similar feats in the past. He was more surprised that the attempt hadn’t happened in the middle of a simultaneous verbal barrage, or in response to Richie making a stupid joke that Eddie felt deserved some immediate retaliation. This time, Eddie just looked focused on the task. And he looked pretty cute, too, with a little crease in his brow and a stubborn set to his mouth and those beautiful hazel eyes that were... staring straight at Richie.
Who had apparently been doing the exact same thing for the past minute or so, ever since Eddie unintentionally got his attention by whacking him in the face.
God, Richie was a fucking mess.
“What’s the matter, dickwad? Have I got something on my face?”
And so goddamn in love.
“My dear Eddie Spaghetti, your face is beautiful and clean, like always. Unlike your mo-“
“Beep beep, Richie.” Stan called from his place on the beanbag.
“What- I hadn’t even said anything yet!”
Eddie snickered, his foot finally hooked behind the lens of Richie's glasses.
“That’s the point, dipshit, it’s calling you out so we don’t have to listen to you making stupid jokes all the fucking time.”
“You find my jokes hilarious, moron, don’t even try to deny it.”
“Oh, you thought that laughter was for your jokes? No, Rich, it’s just me laughing at your dumb face constantly-“
“Your mom didn’t find that face so dumb last night, didn’t you hear us? I thought you must’ve at least seen me sneaking out the door this morning-“
“Oh, real original, another joke about you fucking my mom, haven’t heard that one a thousand times before-“
“It’s because they’re all true stories, Ed’s, we’ve been trying to tell you all this time-“
“Don’t call me Ed’s, fucker, and I’ll believe it when I see it!”
With that, Eddie finally managed to knock Richie’s glasses to the floor, and before either of them had even caught their breath back from the argument, they both collapsed back into their respective sides of the hammock, cackling with laughter.
In the corner, Stan shook his head slightly at the two's antics before flipping to the next page in his book. Both Richie and Eddie were absolutely insane, but you got used to it after a while.
Richie would’ve liked to repress his feelings to that little place inside him where he put All the things he didn’t want to think about anymore, but something inside him said that wasn’t the smartest course of action. Richie thought that might’ve been the part of him that also decided it was a good idea to carve his and Eddie’s initials into the kissing bridge, but he now couldn’t pass that spot without feeling soft and floaty and indescribably happy, so he didn’t mind listening to that part of himself sometimes.
That being said, Richie also felt like he couldn’t repress them even if he tried. Sure, he might’ve gotten as far as convincing himself that he wasn’t hopelessly in love with Eddie, and instead had the hots for some random girl at school, but he seriously doubted it would stick. All it would take was for Richie to spy Eddie coming at him in a blistering rage, and he’d remember instantly. Richie also thought that maybe he shouldn’t be so happy at getting cussed out by his crush, but he’d never exactly claimed he was normal.
And he couldn’t exactly help it, could he? Sure, most people would find it weird if he said his favourite thing about Eddie was how much of a dickhead he could be, coming at him as a ball of rage and constantly swearing at him and getting on his case about cleanliness and organisation and whatever else Richie has done to piss him off that day, but it genuinely was. Eddies feistiness was one of the reasons they’d managed to stay friends through the years, and was also apparently one of the things that Richie couldn’t face without internally acknowledging that he was very, very gay.
It was this fact that was running through Richie's mind as he approached the clubhouse. And it was the very last part of this fact that was abruptly slamming against the forefront of his mind as he saw Eddie, lying in the hammock.
Eddie lying in the hammock? You might be thinking. Why, that doesn’t sound that unusual. Did Richie also happen to remember how very gay he was literally anytime he saw Eddie ever, or was something else going on?
And you would be right on both counts. As much as Richie liked to blame it on other things, it wasn’t really the short shorts or the fire in his eyes or anything else that Eddie did that reminded Richie of his hopeless crush, it was more just his general existence. But still, certain things seemed to amplify this internal awareness, and right now Richie was very, very aware that he was probably horribly flushed, and very, very grateful that none of the other Losers were in the clubhouse to witness his ensuing breakdown.
See, nothing specific that Eddie was doing would’ve led to this level of gay panic. He was genuinely just lying in the hammock, but he had his shoes and socks off, one leg dangling off the side, and he was wearing The Shorts™, so Richie was already fucked. On top of that, his hair was a mess, his shirt was slightly rucked up, and he had the cutest fucking expression on his face as he was reading his comic.
Richie just stood where he was for a few moments, mentally praising whatever god was listening for the simple fact that Eddie had seemingly missed him entering the clubhouse, and then shook his head brusquely as if that would help him process and push back the flood of emotions that had rushed forwards at the unexpected sighting of the smaller boy. When that was unsuccessful, he held back a sigh and started sneaking towards the hammock.
Pretty quickly, he decided he was both close and composed enough, and subsequently leapt forwards to flop dramatically over the middle of the hammock. This resulted in making it careen wildly, and startled Eddie so much that the comic dropped to the ground, temporarily forgotten in his desperate grab at the sides of the swinging hammock.
“What the fuck, asshole, you could’ve killed me!”
Richie just laughed for a few moments, awkwardly flopped over both Eddie’s legs and the hammock.
“I’m not kidding! What if the hammock had flipped, and I’d fallen off and hit my head! There are so many potential complications that could’ve resulted from that! Shit!”
The hammock had slowed down to a gentle swaying at this stage, and Richie awkwardly slid down to the floor before grinning up at Eddie’s scowling face.
“Eddie spaghetti! My love! I didn’t see you there, because you’re so small that you disappeared into the folds of the hammock! I’m so very sorry for jumping on you. ‘Twas but a simple mistake.”
At this, Eddie's scowl deepened, as though he was putting physical effort into making his annoyance show on his face. Richie reached out a hand in an attempt to pinch one of Eddie’s cheeks, but the smaller boy saw it coming and quickly grabbed his wrist to halt the movement.
“What are you even doing here? You know none of the other Losers are going to make it down here today, we talked about it yesterday.”
Richie hadn’t remembered that, actually, couldn’t even remember the conversation occurring. He suspected he’d been rather preoccupied with staring at Eddie at the time. He’d actually gotten quite good at pretending to be fully invested in the events going on around him (when in reality all that ever seemed to be running through his head nowadays was Eddie), and he was pretty sure none of the other losers could tell when he was checked out of the situation anymore. He wasn’t about to go telling Eddie that, however, so instead he just laughed.
“I suppose I should be asking you that, my good sir! Why are you lying here all on your lonesome?”
Eddie rolled his eyes at Richie’s continued use of a Voice, but then sighed.
“I just... had to get out of the house, you know? Even though I knew I’d probably end up here alone.”
Richie’s grin dropped, and he twisted his arm softly from where it was still held in Eddie's grasp until it was in a position where he could squeeze the other boys hand.
“Your mom again?”
Eddie squeezed back, and his head dropped back into the hammock from where he’d been craning it to look at Richie.
“Yeah. I dropped something on my foot, and she kept on going on about how I’d probably broken a toe and that I should go to the hospital for an x-ray even though it didn’t even hurt for that long and I just- had to get out.”
Richie smiled softly at him, even though (or maybe because?) he couldn’t see it. Eddie had done a pretty good job of getting out of his mother’s clutches upon realising all his ‘medical issues’ and her constant worries were bullshit, but there was only so much he could do while still having to live at home. After a moment had passed, Richie spoke up.
“I’ll be honest, I’m here because I completely forgot that the others had shit they were doing today.“
With that, the hush that had fallen over the two of them was broken, and Eddie reached out his other arm to shove Richie.
“Typical,” he said with a smirk, before shifting his position in the hammock so he was lying less central and looking at Richie expectantly.
After a few moments passed, Eddie audibly sighed.
“Jesus, moron, what are you waiting for? Get up here!”
“Oh- Ohhh. I was wondering why you’d moved!” Richie said, scrambling to his feet so he could (safely) clamber into the hammock beside Eddie.
Eddie rolled his eyes.
“Yeah, I have no fuckin clue why I tried to be subtle about it, you’re as intuitive as a pile of bricks.”
By this stage, Richie was properly lying in the hammock, and he lightly shoved Eddie's shoulder with his foot in response to the dig.
“Hey! I can be intuitive!”
Eddie just raised an eyebrow in response, and Richie sat up as best as he could manage, indignant.
“I can totally be intuitive! I noticed Ben’s crush on Bev!”
“Rich, everyone’s noticed Ben’s crush on Bev. It wasn’t exactly subtle, I’d have been more surprised if you hadn’t noticed.”
“Fuck. Uh- I noticed Bill’s crush on Bev?”
“Once again, you and literally everyone else. Anything else?”
Richie, unsurprisingly, couldn’t think of anything thing else that he thought Eddie would deem subtle enough.
“…Bev’s crush on Bill?” He tried, half-hearted, and Eddie laughed.
“Ran out of ideas, huh?” He asked, teasing. “Richie, it’s ok. We all know and accept the fact that you’re oblivious as shit. You don’t have to feel ashamed.”
Richie pouted, before his eyes lit up.
“Hey, what about you! It’s not like anything you’ve told me is gonna convince me you’re any better!”
“Oh, easy! Bev’s crush on Ben. Her one on Bill is a lot more obvious because he’s more confident about his own, but she’s definitely feeling torn between the two.”
At this, Richie stopped.
“Wait, shit. Really? ”
Eddie nodded, and Richie flopped forwards dramatically.
“How am I missing shit like this about my best friends? Seriously?”
Underneath him, Richie felt Eddie’s cheeks warm slightly.
“I don’t know, moron, maybe it’s because you’re blind as fuck? Or maybe it’s just because you’re an idiot. Both seem like reasonable explanations. Now get off, you’re gonna crush me!”
“No can do, Eduardo, I’m comfortable like this! You’ll just have to live with me staying right here forever.”
At this, Eddie started trying to twist Richie off of him, cheeks now visibly red.
“If I suffocate like this, all of my comics are going to Stan, asshole!”
Richie rolled his eyes slightly at Eddie’s words, a grin on his face, before dramatically rolling off and to the side of Eddie.
“If you say so, my good sir.”
“I do say so,” Eddie responded, completely blowing past Richie’s attempt at a Voice as he attempted to hold on to some of his previous bluster. A moment passed, and Eddie's shoulder’s softened in their place next to Richie’s. “…Thanks.”
After a moment, Richie responded.
Eddie bit his lip.
“I don’t know. Being here, I guess? And not making fun of me for needing to get out of the house. But mostly… mostly just being here.”
He glanced over at Richie after saying this, and found Richie looking at him with an indescribably soft look in his eyes and a small smile on his lips.
After that afternoon in the clubhouse, Eddie started getting in the hammock while facing the same direction as Richie, and without any of his usual bluster. Both boys pretended that it wasn’t unusual at all, that that was how they’d always behaved, and the rest of the Loser’s didn’t seem to question it. Of course, neither Richie nor Eddie ever noticed the smiles and rolled eyes the other Loser’s sent to each other whenever he did so.
Richie and Eddie also started spending a lot more time at the clubhouse alone. It meant Eddie had an excuse to leave the house, even on days where the group hadn’t planned on meeting up, and it meant that Richie had company for the days that he otherwise would’ve spent feeling both hyperactive and alone, with no one to bounce his constant energy off of. Both of them cherished the days they spent with just each other, as much as they loved the other Loser’s, and their unspoken arrangement lead to many days spent curled up in the hammock together, as intertwined as they thought they could get away with while still maintaining the thin veneer of ‘just friendship’ that they were too scared to breach.
As such, when Eddie dropped into the clubhouse one day to find it empty except for Richie, he was neither surprised nor worried about spending the morning in close proximity to the other boy. Unsurprisingly, Richie was lying in the hammock already, face to the wall. Eddie walked over to him, and was about shove his shoulder lightly to grab his attention when he realised Richie’s face was bloodied.
“Shit, Richie! What the fuck happened to you?”
Richie rolled over to face Eddie properly, before shrugging lackadaisically.
“Just the usual bullshit, Eds, you know the drill.”
And Eddie did know the drill. The death of the murderous shapeshifting clown hadn’t changed the fact that 90% of the people that lived Derry were apparently incompetent, bullying assholes, although it had definitely helped bring the other 10% to the surface. Nevertheless, Eddie hated it, and he reached forward instinctively to brush some of Richie’s hair out of his slightly swollen eye before abruptly pulling back.
“I- I think I left some medical supplies from when I stopped using my fanny pack in here. Give me a sec and I’ll at least be able to clean some of those cuts.”
With a goal in mind, Eddie hurried over to the shelf that he’d left the supplies on, and after grabbing anything he deemed useful (as well as reminding himself very firmly that Richie was just his friend ) he headed back to the hammock. Richie had had enough foresight to sit up so that Eddie could easily reach his face, and Eddie climbed into the other side of the hammock before dumping all of the supplies he’d grabbed between them. After studying Richie’s face for another moment, he grabbed an antiseptic and a wipe, planning on cleaning Richie’s cuts before anything else. He worked in silence for a few moments, barely flinching as Richie winced at the initial sting.
“What actually happened?” He asked, voice soft.
“The dicks from the year above us caught me as I made my way over here. They didn’t say anything particularly original, unsurprisingly, and they let me go after roughing me up a bit.”
Richie’s tone was cavalier, as it had been earlier, but he wouldn’t meet Eddie’s eyes.
“Fuck, I wish I’d been with you. Maybe I could’ve helped.”
At Eddie’s words, Richie stiffened, and he leant forwards into Eddie’s space.
“No, Eds! Then we’d both be hurt, and you- you shouldn’t have to deal with the shit they say to me.”
“Neither should you, Richie! You realise that, right? You don’t deserve anything they say or do to you any more than I do!”
“What if- What if I do Eddie? What if I’m everything they call me? A good for nothing fuck up, destined to spend the rest of his life in a dead-end job in Derry, never making anything of himself or making it out of this godawful town? A fucking faggot whose gonna burn in hell for all of eternity? What if they’re right? ”
“They aren’t though, Richie! You’re gonna make it out of here with the rest of us Losers, you’re gonna make it big in comedy or on the radio and we’ll all be right beside you! And if-” Here, Eddie’s voice broke, but he continued talking anyway. “If you’re going to hell, I’m- I’m going there with you.”
Richie froze at Eddie’s final words, any thoughts of protest stopped dead in their tracks.
“You mean- You’re-”
Eddie smiled grimly.
“Gay? Hopelessly in love with my best friend? All of the above? Yeah. I am.”
“Hopelessly in love with- best friend? Gay? Who-who do you consider your best friend?” Richie managed to stammer out.
“Jesus, Rich, if you stammer any more I’ll have to start calling you Bill. And who do you think asshole?”
“M- me?! ”
“Ok, I seem to have broken you. Um. Fuck. Stop- stop me if you don’t want this.”
With that, Eddie leaned forward slowly, fully anticipating Richie to lean backwards in disgust. Instead, something seemed to reboot in his mind, and his eyes widened in shock before a smile spread across his lips and he leaned forward himself to meet Eddie in the middle. Their lips met just as Eddie closed his eyes, and he managed to bring his hands up to cradle Richie’s face despite the nervous fluttering he was feeling in his stomach. The kiss was fumbling, and awkward feeling, and Richie found that he had no clue where to put his hands after Eddies ended upon his face, but also felt somehow perfect. Eddie pulled away after a few moments passed, and Richie let out an involuntary whine in protest, but Eddie just laughed softly and pressed their foreheads together gently.
“Rich, I still haven’t finished bandaging your wounds! I don’t want you to get some obscure infection and wind up with your face falling off, and knowing our luck that’s exactly what would happen.”
Richie pouted for a second, before a grin spread across his face.
“I dunno, Eddie Spaghetti, I’m feeling pretty lucky right now! But then again, I can understand why you’d be worried about my face falling off. It is a pretty amazing face, and kissing would be a lot harder without it.”
Eddie giggled in response, dropping his head to hide his flushed cheeks in the crook of Richie’s neck.
“Oh my god, Rich, you’re gonna be even more of a nightmare after this, aren’t you?”
“Ooh, kinky! I hadn’t realised that those were the types of dreams I appeared in for you, but I can get into that if you want me to!”
Eddie pulled back so that he could shake his head at Richie’s shit-eating grin, cheeks still red.
“Beep beep, Richie!” He said, still laughing, and then found himself groaning as Richie wiggled his eyebrows suggestively.
“Beep beep, you say? Well, why don’t you come make me?”
Eddie rolled his eyes, but leant forward to kiss him again anyway. Richie might be goddamn insufferable sometimes, but Eddie wouldn’t want him any other way.