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The dry husk that used to be Richie Tozier wakes up around 4:00 in the morning. Immediately, he knows that this was a colossal fuck-up. His eyelids are crusted shut and weigh about three tons; his body is nothing more than a dehydrated corpse from that creepy museum exhibit he went to in like 2007; and his head is full of balls of crumpled aluminum foil.

He shifts in the bed and quickly realizes that this, too, was a mistake. The slide of the sheets across his body makes him shudder, and that motion makes his head bobble on his neck, and he swears he can hear his brain rattle around inside his skull. He nearly gags at it.

He lifts his head blearily to look for his glasses and finds them on his bedside table. He fumbles them onto his face but still can barely bring himself to open his eyes. He wants to keep them closed forever, if possible. If not for the ache in his head and skin and muscles he would just roll over and go back to sleep, but he’s felt this way enough times at this point in his life to know getting a few extra winks is a pipe dream. Within the next half-hour, he will almost certainly be kneeling at the porcelain altar, praying for forgiveness from… Dionysus? He can’t quite remember. For now, though, he allows himself to flop back onto the mattress, his eyes squeezed shut.

Then the bed shifts of its own accord, and Richie freezes. With a burst of realization and a lurch of nerves in his stomach that he really can’t afford in his current state, he remembers what happened last night.

On March 7, 2017, Richie’s forty-first birthday, Eddie Kaspbrak flew from New York to Los Angeles and kissed him.

And on March 8, 2017, in the wee hours of the morning, Eddie Kaspbrak let Richie suck his dick and told Richie he loved him, and then they got cleaned up and cuddled in bed and made out a little until they both passed out from exhaustion.

holy shit holy shit holy shit holy shit

Richie’s crusty eyes are wide open, his heart pounding, as he turns to look at his bedfellow. It’s Eddie. Eddie Kaspbrak. The only fellow he’s ever truly wanted in his bed.

Currently, Eddie is still asleep, sprawled on his stomach, one knee up and the other leg stretched out, a hand resting softly by his chin. It’s exactly how he used to sleep when they were kids at slumber parties. They shared a bed sometimes then, too, before they both got too big, but it was a narrow twin, not the king-sized bed Richie had to get once he fully sprouted.

Things are different now. For one, Richie is out. He’s out and doesn’t feel the heart-racing fear of being hunted and hurt that he always imagined he would. For another, Richie is… well, he’s old, and big, and hairy, and looks the way he does, and Eddie… Eddie looks like that. Richie feels a twist of embarrassment at how ravenously his weary eyes are eating him up as he sleeps, but he can’t bring himself to look away.

Eddie was always cute as a kid. In his teenage brain, Richie probably thought he was hot, although it was less an objective appraisal of his attractiveness and more the feeling of want need love love love that overcame him whenever he looked at Eddie. But now, somehow, Eddie is truly smoking. He has sloping, muscular shoulders, a tapered waist, a lean back and stomach and thighs, all covered in a tasteful amount of hair that really just draws attention to the lines of him rather than looking like moss grew on a boulder, the way Richie’s body hair does. All of this is new since the last time Richie remembers seeing Eddie before they forgot each other, the day—not so long after Richie’s sixteenth birthday—that Eddie’s mom bundled him into their station wagon and they followed that huge moving van out of Derry, and Richie’s heart shattered even further than he thought it already had.

Now Eddie is in his bed. Richie shivers all over at the thought. Eddie is in his bed the way he never was when they knew each other last. Before last night, Richie never knew how Eddie felt beneath his sweaty palms and hungry mouth, how he sounded when he moaned breathily in Richie’s ear. Before last night, Eddie never slept sprawled in Richie’s sheets, wearing only a thin t-shirt and his oddly skimpy boxer-briefs.

Oh, and Richie never felt like he needed to vomit up the runoff from a Jack-in-the-Box drive-thru in Palm Springs.

It’s cruel, really. He wants so badly to linger beside Eddie. He wants to drape himself over Eddie’s sprawled body, heft a long, hairy leg over his lower back, and cling to him like a barnacle. He almost goes for it, hangover be damned, but his sudden movements set his mushy brain slopping against the jagged insides of his skull, and the shift of the covers sets his teeth on edge, and he gives one wrenching, full-body shudder that nearly turns into a dry heave, and that’s when he decides he really doesn’t want to wake Eddie up after their first time sleeping together in the adult way with a bed full of his post-birthday splorch.

He rolls out of bed and stumbles into the bathroom, nudging the door behind him before he falls on his knees in front of the toilet. He grips the seat hard, his head reeling from just the twenty frantic steps in here. The cool air of the bathroom, the chill of the tile on his bony knees, is soothing, but it can’t overcome the roiling in his gut and the scent of the toilet bowl and then the knowledge that he really hasn’t cleaned the toilet bowl in— in—

Richie’s torso heaves mightily, he chokes out some wet, tortured sounds, but nothing comes up. He spits into the toilet and sits back on his heels, wanting deeply, desperately to cry.

Because of course this would be how he spends the morning after the best night of his life. Kneeling in front of the toilet while Eddie’s asleep in his bed, when he could be cuddled up against him, or waking Eddie up with a kiss on his neck and a hand on his cock, swiftly replaced by Richie’s mouth because now that he knows how Eddie looks and sounds when Richie does that, he doesn’t think he’ll ever be able to get enough. If Richie weren’t feeling like shit on the bottom of someone’s shoe, he would be out there, making sure Eddie feels good when he wakes up.

Making sure he doesn’t have any second thoughts.

He takes off his glasses and sets them down, rubbing at his tired eyes. Then he crosses his arms over the toilet seat and leans his cheek against them, eyes closed.

What a fucking idiot.

You’d think by forty-one that he would have some fucking clue of how to moderate his alcohol intake, how to make sure he doesn’t wake up feeling so abominable. The thing is, he really didn’t think he had that much. He was feeling a little buzzed when he left the restaurant, but by the time he got out of the Lyft, he barely felt anything. By the time he walked into his house and found a sheepish Eddie waiting to surprise him, he hadn’t felt anything except disbelief and then deep, heart-rending joy.

But come to think of it, maybe he was tipsy, because sober Richie would never have been able to confidently kiss Eddie Kaspbrak and then guide him into his bedroom, tell him he needed to get his mouth on his dick, and then jerk off in front of him, fuck, did he really—?

“Are you doing all right?”

Richie jerks at Eddie’s voice and looks up blearily from his place on the floor. Eddie is standing in the doorway, looking down at Richie with his eyebrows deeply furrowed.

Richie squeezes his eyes shut and groans, pressing his face against his forearm. “Fuck, you weren’t supposed to see me like this.”

“Like what?”

“Hungover as fuck.”

Richie hears Eddie step lightly into the bathroom and sit on the edge of the bathtub. “So you’re saying I did take advantage of you last night.”

Richie snorts, and the contraction of his chest makes his stomach roil. He gags a little and spits again, cringing as he does so. Of all the people to feel the need to vomit in front of. And sure, he’s thrown up in front of Eddie before, but never when there was actually an ice cube’s chance in Hell of Eddie wanting to fuck him.

I’m not saying that,” he says, his voice hoarse and crackly. “My body is saying that I’m forty-one and apparently having four drinks, a ribeye steak for dinner, and two desserts is—hrngkk—not something that I can get away with anymore.” He gags again in the middle of talking, thinking of the tiramisu and parfait he only nominally shared with Bev last night. He does not want to taste those a second time.

“Not to mention going to bed at like two in the morning. You got like three hours of sleep, Rich.”

“And only two of those were in the bed.” He lifts his head to give Eddie a weary, lopsided grin.

Eddie frowns back at him.

He lowers his head again and closes his eyes, his eyelids feeling crinkly and dry like crepe paper. He keeps hugging the toilet bowl. His head is spinning mildly but as long as he stays perfectly still, with his eyes screwed up tight, he thinks he can keep from spilling his guts in front of Eddie.

Abruptly, Eddie stands. Richie cracks an eye open and watches him go to the vanity. He grimaces down at the mess that is Richie’s bathroom counter and then begins opening and closing cupboard doors, drawers, the medicine cabinet.

“What are you looking for?” Richie asks huskily.

“Ibuprofen,” Eddie mutters, rummaging through old bottles of contact solution, deodorants, spent razors.

Richie frowns. “Is that Tylenol?”

“No, Advil. Tylenol’s acetaminophen.”

Richie giggles weakly. “No wonder I’m a Tylenol man,” he says, waiting expectantly for Eddie to turn to him. When he does, Richie says tremulously, “Ass-eat-aminophen.”

Eddie glares at him. “Richie, you can’t take acetaminophen with al—stop laughing, you moron—you can’t take acetaminophen with alcohol, it can cause liver damage.”

“I can’t drink alcohol and eat ass? Sounds homophobic.”

“You need to take ibuprofen.”

“I don’t have any homophobic drugs, Eddie.”

“Ugh, fine,” sighs Eddie, “then I’m going to go out and get you some ibuprofen. Is there a drug store around here?”

Richie’s stomach twists now for a different reason. “Eds, you don’t have to do that—”

“Don’t call me Eds.”

“—Dr. K, please don’t go all nursemaid on me. I’m the moron who’s hungover after his forty-first birthday. I don’t deserve you to be so nice to me.”

“Oh, I’m not doing it for you,” Eddie says, crossing his arms and smiling crookedly down at him. “You’re a mess, and I’m only here until tonight, and I don’t want you to be hugging the toilet bowl the whole time when we could be taking advantage of that fact. This is one hundred percent selfish.”

If Richie’s body were not already one big glob of overheated sweat, he’s pretty sure he would flush hot at the implication of Eddie’s words. Not to mention the self-satisfied smirk he has on. When did Eddie become so self-assured? It makes him exactly one kabillion times hotter than he already was.

“T-take advantage?” Richie stutters, his voice cracking on a hopeful note.

Eddie snorts. “Yeah. Like I did last night, apparently.”

“Get me the ass-eat-aminophen and we’ll call it even.”

“Ibuprofen,” Eddie says, rolling his eyes in exasperation.

Richie grins. “That’s not what I meant.”

Eddie stares at him. Then he sweeps his eyes over Richie’s whole situation: kneeling in just his boxers, face first in the toilet bowl. He raises an eyebrow.

“Take a shower and we’ll talk.”

***

Eddie leaves soon afterwards. After a moment’s hesitation in which he clearly overthinks it, he leans forward to give Richie a kiss on the forehead, but Richie jerks backwards and warns him that it’s been plastered to the toilet seat for the better part of an hour. Eddie settles for patting him on the head instead.

Almost as soon as Eddie leaves, Richie’s stomach decides it’s time to try to get this show on the road for real. His gut lurches and heaves and his mouth salivates and his eyes fucking water, but ultimately nothing comes up. Still, when he sits back on his haunches, he feels a little better, like the contents of his stomach just needed to be picked up and shaken like a bag of Scrabble tiles.

Feeling slightly fortified, he pulls himself to his feet and, swaying, gets into the shower. He was mostly joking when he said the ass-eat thing, and he’s almost certain Eddie was joking, too, but he figures it would probably still be courteous to get cleaned up. He is bathed in liquor-scented sweat, after all.

When he’s out of the shower, he really does feel significantly more human-like. He towels himself off and pads into the bedroom to put on clean boxers and a t-shirt. The house is quiet—Eddie’s not back yet—so he crawls into bed, sets his glasses on the bedside table, and pulls the covers up over himself. He figures he can nap until Eddie gets back. Hopefully when he wakes up, his hangover will be gone.

***

Fat fucking chance, Tozier.

This is his first thought when he wakes up, because his hangover is not gone. He can tell from the throbbing in his head when he cracks an eye open. Sunlight is streaming in between the blinds, stabbing directly into his retinas. He clenches his eyes shut again and groans.

“Not feeling better?”

Richie flinches at the sound of Eddie’s voice right behind him. He must have gotten home while Richie was sleeping. Richie bunches his hands in the sheets and pulls them over his head to shield himself from the light.

“What gave you that idea?” he mumbles.

Eddie sighs, and the mattress shifts as he moves. “I have ibuprofen and a glass of water for you here. It’ll help with the headache.”

“Cool, can I take it under the covers? Because I feel like a cave creature right now, and sunlight will literally roast my eyeballs out of my skull.”

After a moment, Eddie shifts again in the bed, and then leaves it altogether. Next he hears Eddie rummaging in his carry-on bag, near the door. Richie’s stomach does a little swoop, his brain telling him that was it, somehow that was it, he’s had enough, but then he hears the bed frame squeak again, the mattress bend beneath weight, and Eddie’s back in the bed. Richie’s heart gives a thrum of relief.

“Try this,” Eddie says, pressing something soft and plush into Richie’s hand. Richie opens his eyes and sees Eddie’s under the covers with him. It’s dark and warm and all he can make out are shadows without his glasses, but something about it sets his skin tingling pleasurably. It might be the first pleasant body sensation he’s had all day.

“What is it?”

“A sleep mask. I wear it on planes.”

“Of course you do,” says Richie, imagining businessman Eddie reclining peacefully in first class with a travel pillow and a sleep mask.

“Yeah, of course I do,” Eddie says stubbornly. “It helps me sleep. Now fucking put it on, it’ll help with the light sensitivity.”

Richie wants to protest, but Eddie is so warm and so close, and he’s being so nice (in his own way), and Richie does not want to feel that piercing pain behind his eyeballs again, so he sighs and stretches the elastic over his giant-ass head until the silky mask is nestled, pillowy, over his eyes. He opens them experimentally and feels his eyelashes brush along the inside of the material, which is a little uncomfortable but no light seeps in.

“Maybe you’ve got a point, Eds,” he concedes, pulling the covers back. The open air is pleasant on his hot face, now that he doesn’t have to worry about the light.

He takes the ibuprofen when Eddie places it in his palm, swallows it with a big gulp of water, and then settles back down to the bed, feeling just as exhausted as he did when he first woke up. He can hear Eddie set the glass back down on the bedside table, and after a moment, Eddie curls up behind him, an arm around his front. His breath on the back of his neck sends goosebumps down his spine.

“Go back to sleep, Rich,” Eddie says quietly into his shoulder. “My flight’s not until eight. We have plenty of time.”

And Richie wants to protest, but his head is killing him, and his eyelids feel like they have hundred-pound weights attached to them. The darkness behind Eddie’s eye mask is welcome respite from the glaring light of day, and he did only sleep for three hours, and one of them with a toilet for a pillow. He decides if he can’t be awake to revel in Eddie’s closeness, enjoying it while he’s asleep is the next best thing.

“Okay,” he says quietly, already drifting off. “Just don’t leave without saying goodbye.”

And he thinks Eddie says something in return, but he can’t be sure, because sleep is already overtaking him.

***

Richie wakes up sometime later to the sound of something clattering and then some vehemently muttered swears. He jerks in bed, sitting up straight, and— he can’t see. It takes a moment for him to remember that he’s wearing Eddie’s sleep mask. Which means that the clattering is probably Eddie.

The swearing is definitely Eddie.

He reaches up and lifts one side of the sleep mask, cracking a bleary eye open. He can’t see much without his glasses on, but he can make out an Eddie-shaped figure enter the doorway to his bedroom and freeze.

“Oh, fuck, did I wake you?”

“It was either you or Clattery McSwearsalot, the neighborhood’s most obvious burglar.”

The Eddie-blob steps into the room, still clattering lightly from something that Richie can’t make out, his eyes are such shit. “You have enough burglars in your neighborhood you have to categorize them?”

“No, it’s L.A. There’s an awards show every year.”

Eddie laughs, and it makes the clattering sound even louder.

Richie squints. “What’s making that noise?”

“Well, I tried to make you breakfast, but then I realized you have nothing in your fridge, so I went and got some takeout. Not sure if you’re hungry yet, but it’s here if you want it.”

To Richie’s surprise, he’s not particularly hungry. Which is fortunate, because he also doesn’t want to risk the possibility of that food needing to come back up.

Richie pulls the sleep mask back over his eyes, listening to the clattering as Eddie sets down the food on the bedside table. Then the mattress shifts and squeals, and Eddie is curled up behind Richie, cool against his sweaty back. Richie shivers pleasantly at the sensation. Eddie slides an arm over his side, and presses his cheek against the back of Richie’s neck.

“Is this okay?” Eddie asks, and his voice is so close against Richie’s ear. “You’re feeling all right?”

“Yeah,” Richie answers, his voice hoarse. “I am now.”

“Cheesy.” But Eddie begins to slowly rub the flat of his hand across the plane of Richie’s chest, up along his collar bone, over the curves of his pecs and between them. His hand is cool like the rest of him and feels so nice and soothing, even through Richie’s shirt.

Richie hums. “That’s nice.”

Eddie rubs his hand roughly over Richie’s chest. “It is,” he agrees.

Richie lifts an eyebrow, then remembers Eddie can’t see it. “It is?”

“Yeah. You feel so good.”

“You must be a pretty kinky guy, Eddie.”

“Shut the fuck up and take off your shirt.”

Richie snorts in surprise but obeys, feeling a little thrill at Eddie bossing him around. He yanks his shirt up over the mask, which shifts a little. He tosses the shirt into the corner of the room and lies down on his back, readjusting the mask over his eyes; the light doesn’t hurt nearly as much anymore, but it still feels nice, somehow, lazy and indulgent, to keep it on. Beside him, he can feel Eddie moving, as well, the mattress springs squealing.

“You really should get a memory foam mattress,” says Eddie gently, and his voice comes from somewhere above Richie. “At least a pillow.”

“Maybe we can get one together,” Richie ventures, his heart in his throat.

Eddie goes still. Richie’s blood is pounding in his ears. He can’t see, he can’t see, he can’t—

Then Eddie’s lips are on his, his fingers carding through his still-damp hair, and Richie sighs into his mouth, melting. He reaches up, too, clumsily because he’s not sure exactly how Eddie’s body is situated; he knocks the side of his hand against Eddie’s shoulder, his forearm, before his palm finds his cheek, his thumb rubbing over his cheekbone. Eddie’s tongue licks along his bottom lip before he sucks it in between his teeth, and Richie whines, sliding his legs together as his dick twitches in his boxers.

After a moment, Eddie pulls back slightly, and Richie can feel his hand ghosting over his chest, his nipple. Eddie’s breath is hot against his mouth as he says, “You look so good, Rich. Is it all right if I touch you?”

Richie shivers from head to toe. “Please,” he gasps, incredulous.

Eddie kisses him again, hard, and Richie can feel how he’s smiling. He presses kisses along Richie’s cheek, his jaw, down his neck, sucking lightly, until Richie is squirming on the mattress beneath him, his dick beginning to truly fill out in his underwear.

With one last tender bite to Richie’s collarbone, Eddie pulls back. Richie barely stops a whimper of protest from leaving his throat, and then a moan overtakes it as he feels Eddie’s palm slide down his chest, over his stomach, his cock, and back around to his hips.

“You know what I’ve been thinking a lot lately?” Eddie asks softly, trailing his hand up and down Richie’s side. The mattress squeaks as Eddie’s body moves with his hand, his warmth shifting farther away.

Richie swallows around a lump in his throat, growing larger with every inch that Eddie’s hand covers. “What?”

Eddie’s hand follows the line of Richie’s hip, his thigh, his knee, his shin, pulling back the sheets as it goes. It stops at his ankle, holds it lightly, his thumb pressing into the bony hollow. “I’ve been thinking about how I missed all of your birthdays,” he murmurs, “but you never missed mine.”

Then he moves again, and Richie’s heart stutters in his chest when he feels the warmth of Eddie’s lips press to the skin of his ankle.

“Eddie,” he breathes.

“My birthday was always so lame,” Eddie says quietly, his lips ghosting over the skin, breath sliding up a centimeter and pressing back down, to the spot where the dark hair on Richie’s legs begins to coarsen. “My mom and my aunts and a carrot cake in the backyard. You guys were allowed to stay for two hours exactly and then you had to go home. Presents promptly, then cake, maybe a pre-approved party game.”

“Spin the bottle,” Richie jokes weakly.

Eddie chuckles and kisses his shin. “My mom did not think that was funny.”

“Wasn’t meant to be funny,” Richie says raspily, as Eddie trails his fingertips softly through his leg hair. Why does that feel so good? “Was supposed to be an excuse to kiss you.”

Eddie stills the movement of his hand to cup lightly around Richie’s ankle again. Richie feels the bristly but pliable skin of his cheek against his calf. He thinks Eddie must be craning his neck, looking up at him.

“I wanted to kiss you, too, Richie.”

Richie feels moisture start to prickle behind his eyes. He lets out a long, slightly shuddering sigh.

Eddie’s hand slides up his leg and back down. Squeezes the arch of his foot. “What’s wrong?”

“I just can’t believe it.” Richie’s voice is thick around that wet wad of emotion in his throat. “The whole time that I… you also…” He gestures weakly with a hand and then lets it flop back down to the bedspread.

Eddie is quiet. He turns his face into the soft skin on the inside of Richie’s knee, and Richie can feel him dragging the tip of his nose over the bone and tendon. “I did,” he murmurs, and his voice comes out warm over his knee, “but the thought made me want to explode. I couldn’t let myself think about it.”

“I couldn’t think about anything else,” Richie confesses in one breath, and feels his entire body flush hot at the admission. His eyes are welling in the darkness of the mask.

For a moment, Eddie doesn’t reply. Then Richie gasps when he feels him press a wet, open-mouthed kiss to the inside of his thigh.

“What can I say to make you feel better?”

Richie sniffs hard. He lifts a hand to rub under his eyes. “Nothing, I’m fine.”

“Richie. Seriously. I want to know.”

“I don’t know, just…”

Tell me you love me.

Richie swallows thickly, grateful he can’t see Eddie looking back at him. “Tell me you want this, too.”

“I do,” Eddie says instantly, fervently, his lips brushing against Richie’s thigh. “I want you. I want to be with you. I did when we were kids, and I still want to now. I’m sorry it took me so long to say anything.”

“I mean,” Richie says thickly, “I could have said something, too.”

Eddie kisses the top of his thigh, the hard muscle of his groin. “Why didn’t you?” he asks quietly.

“Why do you think? I was scared. You’re the brave one, Eds. I’m a coward, you know this.”

“You weren’t scared to come out.”

Richie barks out a laugh. “Shows how much you know.”

“Okay, so you were scared but you did it anyway. That’s even braver than not being scared in the first place.”

“Yeah. Maybe.”

Eddie nips at his skin. “It is, dipshit.”

Richie jerks at the sharpness of Eddie’s teeth and laughs in spite of himself. “Asshole.”

“Yeah…” Eddie says quietly, tracing circles next to Richie’s cock with a fingertip. “Do you think you ever would have said anything?”

Eddie’s voice is carefully neutral, but the words still hang in the air. Richie’s stomach flip-flops inside him, coiling up tight with embarrassment and cowardice. He wishes he could say yes, that he was just waiting for the right moment, that he would have confessed to Eddie someday. Maybe. Maybe after Eddie’s divorce. Maybe if Eddie came out, too. Maybe if Eddie moved to California, or to Los Angeles, or next door. Maybe, maybe, maybe.

But those maybes would be lies. Because it all boils down to Richie being a coward. And he knows for a fact that he’s a coward because the only reason he can say what he’s about to say is that right now he’s wearing a fucking blindfold.

“No,” he admits truthfully into the darkness, feeling sick in his heart. “I don’t think I would have.”

Eddie is silent for a while, pressing light kisses across Richie’s thigh and hip while his hand slides roughly over his other leg. Richie feels him shift on the mattress, feels him pull away from where he’s been kissing him. He shudders at how cold his skin feels without Eddie’s hot breath over it, his heart leaping to his throat. He licks his lips, desperate to explain himself.

“I-I didn’t want to risk it. Didn’t want to… to be a burden—”

Then Eddie’s mouth is on his, kissing him hard and deep, licking inside his mouth, desperate and almost possessive. Richie is a split second behind him in all of his movements, trying and failing to keep up while Eddie is biting at his lips, sucking on his tongue, swallowing the whine that Richie lets out when Eddie buries his hand in his hair, fisting around the elastic of the mask so that it’s pulled tight across Richie’s face.

Just as suddenly, Eddie breaks away, their mouths making a loud, wet noise as they part that sends fire lancing down Richie’s spine to his thickening cock. Richie gulps down air, still blinded and his mind reeling because of it. He hears Eddie breathing hard, inches from his face.

“Then I guess it’s a good thing I couldn’t wait anymore,” Eddie growls, and kisses him again, still hard, still greedy, pressing Richie down into the mattress until he begins to tremble with need.

Richie kisses him back skillfully this time, winding his arms around Eddie’s taut body, feeling him hardening deliciously against his stomach. He whimpers in the back of his throat when Eddie pulls his head back by his hair to break their lips apart and begins to press hot, wet kisses along the column of Richie’s neck.

“Eddie, oh my god,” Richie moans, as Eddie pauses to suck hard on his collarbone.

“What?” Eddie asks breathlessly, his hand loosening slightly in Richie’s hair. “Too much?”

Richie shakes his head vehemently. “N-no. I—”

“Mm, good,” Eddie murmurs, his voice little more than a rumble of vibration as he returns his mouth to Richie’s chest. “Because I love seeing you like this, Richie. I never thought I would get to, and the idea that if I hadn’t flown out here for your birthday, we might never…”

“Eddie…”

“I wanted you so bad, Rich, and I finally get to have you.”

Richie shivers hard at Eddie’s words, melting beneath him as tears spring to his eyes again. He feels like Eddie’s mouth is searing his skin as he moves across his chest, so hot it could be leaving shiny welts everywhere it alights. “You always had me,” he says wetly.

“God,” Eddie breathes, sounding as wrecked as Richie feels. He untangles his fingers from Richie’s hair and slides them around his neck and down his chest, petting softly at his side while he nuzzles his nose against Richie’s sternum. “You’re so good, Richie. I love you so much.”

Richie nearly sobs, his whole body beginning to shake. “I love you, too. So fucking much, Eddie.” He throws an arm across his face, trying to sink even further into the darkness behind the sleep mask, where Eddie won’t be able to see him.

“Richie,” Eddie murmurs against his skin. “Is it too much for you?”

He sniffs hard, trying to rein himself in. “A little,” he admits. “No one’s ever said those kinds of things to me. That I’m…” He trails off, unable to finish the thought.

“Good?” Eddie prompts, pressing a wet kiss to his nipple.

Richie nods helplessly.

“But you are.”

“No, I’m not,” Richie says, trying for incredulous but coming out only whiny. He wants to shrink even further into himself at his tone. “I’m an idiot who doesn’t know when to shut up.”

“Well, that’s true,” Eddie jokes, but he punctuates it with a nip at the soft skin below Richie’s pec, and a hard squeeze of his hand on his hip. It makes Richie let out a wet huff of a laugh. “But that’s so good. For me, that’s perfect.”

You’re perfect.”

Eddie pauses to lick at his nipple, making Richie’s breath catch in his lungs. “You just don’t know me as well as you think you do,” he says finally, and Richie’s not sure what that means, but before he can say anything, Eddie is speaking. “You wanted me to say I want this, too. I do. I really do.” Eddie begins to kiss across his chest to the other side. “I want to be with you. I want to show you how much.”

“Eddie, I—”

Eddie presses a finger to his lips lightly, and Richie stops.

“You don’t have to say anything, Rich. You can just let me tell you.”

Richie swallows hard around that lump in his throat. “Okay,” he says huskily.

“Good,” and Eddie laves the flat of his tongue over Richie’s other nipple, and Richie’s hips buck upwards. He can feel Eddie smile against his skin. “You were so good to me last night, Richie,” he goes on, sliding down his body and pressing hot kisses as he goes. His breath is a warm wash across Richie’s soft stomach, and Richie sucks it in self-consciously. “I— What are you doing?”

“I don’t know,” Richie lies.

“Richie…”

“Eds, you’re so fucking hot, you have, like, this perfect body, and I clearly… I just…” he sputters, unsure how to explain. “I-I get tapped for casting calls asking for ‘goofy-looking friend.’ I… I’m—”

“Rich, shut up. Stop.”

With an effort that nearly leaves him shaking, Richie shuts up. He feels Eddie sit back on his heels beside him, and then his hands are rubbing over Richie’s chest, squeezing and pressing, like Eddie likes the way he feels beneath him.

“Sometimes the things you say about me make me think you’re thinking of someone else,” Eddie chuckles, and his voice sounds strained, sad.

Richie frowns. “Eds—”

“Shh, it’s okay. I love your chest, Richie,” Eddie breathes over him, rubbing his hands all over Richie’s pecs, his sternum, his soft stomach. “You’re so broad, I just want to touch you all over. You feel so good against me.”

Richie’s breath hitches with the effort not to speak, not to turn the topic away from him the way he so desperately wants to.

“Last night, when I got to hold you, I felt so warm and happy. I never— I never felt like that before, Richie,” and it almost sounds like Eddie’s voice is breaking. It makes Richie’s heart clench painfully in his chest, makes tears well up hot behind his eyes. He wishes for the first time that he could see Eddie.

“Eddie…”

“You’re so good for me,” Eddie says, his voice thick with feeling. “I want to be good for you, too. I want to try to be… a better person…”

Eddie—”

“I know you said you’ve been in love with me since we were kids, Rich, but I’m not the same person anymore. I was… nicer then, I think. Softer, maybe. More like, someone you could fall in love with.”

Richie hears him swallow roughly, and wants so badly to tear off the face mask, but he’s not sure if Eddie’s only telling him because it’s on, because Richie can’t see the look on his face.

“But I’ve been a dick most of my life now, Richie. People hate me. Honest to god hate me. Some of the baristas in the Starbucks in my work building won’t even serve me anymore. They see me walk in, and— and I’ve heard them, I’ve seen them, they turn around and get the manager. Like, ‘I can’t serve that man.’”

Richie frowns behind the mask, reaches a hand out into the emptiness, in Eddie’s direction, fumbles until he finds his hand and grips it hard. Eddie grips back.

“And the worst thing is,” he goes on, “I didn’t even care. When I saw that, I thought, ‘Oh, good, maybe someone will make my drink fucking right for once.’ The barista was like eighteen, probably trying to put herself through college or something, and I didn’t even give a shit, Richie. Isn’t that selfish? Isn’t that fucked up?”

Richie opens his mouth to reply, but Eddie’s not finished.

“And now, I came all the way out here to tell you I loved you because… because I couldn’t take it anymore, and I thought—I hoped—that you felt the same way, too, but really I just… wanted to have you all to myself. Even though I can’t even really be with you, because I’m not divorced yet, and I’m still living in New York, and I’m not even— I don’t even—”

Eddie’s breath whistles in chest, the way it hasn’t in months, at least as far as Richie’s aware, and instantly Richie reaches up to tear off the mask. He blinks a little, but it’s dark in the bedroom, and the faint light doesn’t hurt anymore. He reaches quickly for his glasses and then slides them on over his ears, so he can finally see Eddie properly.

Eddie is kneeling beside him on the bed, one hand gripping Richie’s, the other clasped over the center of his chest, where It burst him open. Then Richie remembers last night, how Eddie kept his shirt on the whole time, the uncertain look on his face when they faced each other in the darkened room.

“Eddie,” he says again softly, and raises a hand, wanting to cup his cheek but he’s just out of reach. His hand hangs in the air. “There’s nothing wrong with you.”

“I’m just sorry we wasted so much time,” Eddie says, his thick brows bowed upwards. “We could have had so many years together. I could have been so much better for you before I became the kind of person I am now. If I was still the person you fell in love with, back then.” His voice dips soft suddenly, and Richie feels his stomach twist painfully.

He sweeps his eyes over Eddie, trying hard to see Eddie how he sees himself, but all he sees is Eddie, the way he always has. His hair is messy, his lips red, his eyes huge and brown and doe-like in his face. He looks small, kneeling beside Richie on the bed, and shaken, and Richie remembers that summer, 1989, how he often he thought Eddie was small and shaken and how he wanted to keep him close at the same time as he knew he needed to push him away. That summer, there was an obvious spray of freckles across Eddie’s nose, from all the time they spent in the sunlight, and Richie used to fantasize about getting close enough to Eddie to study them, about kissing him and then pulling back and looking down at them dotting the bridge of Eddie’s nose.

Eddie looks different now, of course. So does Richie. Eddie’s forehead is creased from excessive worry; his jaw is sharp, his chin square and stubbly from not shaving. In the dark, Eddie’s nose looks unblemished, smooth, but…

“Come here,” Richie says gently, reaching for Eddie’s face.

Eddie leans forward willingly, pressing his cheek into Richie’s hand and allowing himself to be pulled down. Clearly, he expects to be kissed, and his uncertain eyes flutter shut as Richie pulls him close, then fly open again when Richie stops him. Richie squints, studying his face.

His eyebrows are still thick and low over his dark, endless eyes. His hair framing his face is still thick and, despite all efforts, springy with curls when Eddie does not plaster it down and force it to behave. And across his nose and cheeks are the faintest hints of freckles, faded but undeniably present.

Richie looks back into Eddie’s eyes, and they’re so close, the way they never were before, the way they never could be before. He tugs just slightly and Eddie leans forward, presses his mouth against Richie’s, and it’s sweet and slow and warm, the way it never was when they were kids because they never had this. They never had each other like this.

Richie believes Eddie when he says he’s changed. He has, too. But he also believes there’s something at their cores that reacts, some lodestone inside each of them that’s still resonating at the same frequency, something that made him search his whole life to find its mate without realizing it had already found it and lost it—and now found it again.

Richie breaks the kiss languidly, reluctantly, holding Eddie’s face in his hands. He opens his eyes and rakes them over Eddie’s face.

“Nah, you’re still the same Eddie Spaghetti,” Richie says quietly, tears welling as he rubs his thumb over the bridge of Eddie’s nose, his cheekbones, the freckles that may reappear in time. “You’ve just been out of the sun too long.”

Eddie’s eyes bore into his, flicking back and forth between Richie’s, looking desperately for something in them that Richie hopes he finds. Then he huffs and smiles and shakes his head and sighs, “Fuck,” and crushes his mouth to Richie’s, climbing into his lap and cupping both cheeks in his hands to tilt Richie’s face up into his. Richie wraps his arms around Eddie’s waist and kisses him ecstatically back.

Slowly, Eddie’s hands leave Richie’s face, fingers tangling themselves in his hair and tugging, drawing moans and breathy whimpers from Richie’s chest. Eddie lowers himself down so his ass is pressed against Richie’s hips, against his hard cock, and Richie groans at the feeling, his hands sliding down to clutch at Eddie’s thighs. He can feel Eddie’s cock is just as hard, straining against the shorts he’s wearing.

“Fuck, Eddie,” Richie breathes against his mouth. “You wanna—?”

“Yeah,” Eddie gasps, biting at Richie’s lips, “yeah, I really fucking do.”

They break apart for a moment, removing shorts and underwear in a flurry of awkward movement. Richie notices Eddie pause, the hem of his shirt twisted in his fingers. Richie lies back on his elbows, watching the minute changes pass over Eddie’s face. Then Eddie takes a deep breath, closes his eyes, and yanks his shirt up over his head.

The sight of Eddie’s chest sends a sharp tingle down Richie’s spine, clenching his gut. The scar across the front is composed of white, shiny tissue, stretched tight and jagged over his ribs, and it gives Richie a pang in the center of his own chest to look at it, to remember watching it happen. The fact that Eddie is here now, whole and happy and, apparently, horny, in Richie’s bed, has Richie’s eyes prickling yet again.

“Eddie,” Richie says quietly, “I’m so glad you’re here. So glad you’re alive.”

“Yeah, me too,” Eddie snorts, as though now that he’s done it, baring his chest was the easiest thing in the world. “Would be pretty lame if I died.”

“Yeah, it would really suck,” Richie laughs, holding out his arms for Eddie to fall into.

But Eddie doesn’t climb back into his lap. Instead, he trails his eyes down Richie’s chest to his cock, which is lying hard and thick against his belly.

“Fuck,” Eddie breathes and reaches out to circle it with his fingers, and Richie hisses. Eddie shifts until he’s lying on his stomach between Richie’s legs, gripping lightly around the root of Richie’s straining cock. “Richie,” he says, his face mere inches from Richie’s dick, “I want to make you feel good. Can I?”

“O-okay,” Richie gasps, feeling like his skin is on fire.

And Eddie has the audacity to say, “Thank you,” before he swallows the head of Richie’s cock.

Immediately, a moan tears its way from deep in Richie’s chest. The wet heat of Eddie’s mouth is heaven. He has to stop himself from bucking his hips upwards as Eddie slides his hand around the shaft, sucking at the tip. It’s sloppy and haphazard, and Eddie keeps popping off his cock to twist his hand over the head, spreading spit and precome over it. Each time he does, Richie whines in the back of his throat, and when he opens his eyes, he can see Eddie is looking at him with that self-satisfied smirk on his face. Heat boils inside him.

Eddie pulls off his cock to press filthy, open-mouthed kisses along the shaft of it, holding it against the side of his face with his hand. Licking it messily, he asks, “Where’s your lube?”

“B-bedside table,” Richie gasps, and when Eddie raises an eyebrow at him as if to say, Well?, he reaches out an arm, fumbling wildly for it. He courteously pops the top off before handing it to Eddie.

Eddie takes it and adjusts his position, pulling away from Richie’s cock to squeeze lube all over his first two fingers. He rubs them together, coating them, and then returns his mouth to Richie’s cock at the same time as his fingers slide down, inching towards his hole.

Eddie’s slick fingertips circle his rim, and Richie’s heart gives a valiant kick against his ribs. He’s done this to himself so many times, and even had someone else do it on occasion, but never Eddie. Eddie’s head jerks up at the sound of Richie’s breath hitching in his throat, and his eyes are deep and huge and serious, just so serious, that Richie chokes out a laugh.

“What?” Eddie yelps, and Richie laughs harder. Eddie furrows his brow deeply. He looks like a human storm cloud. “What the fuck is so funny?”

Richie shakes his head helplessly from side to side on the pillow. “God, nothing,” he giggles. “Nothing is funny about this at all. That’s what’s so funny about it.”

“What the hell is your problem, Richie.”

“Ooh, yeah, that’s good,” Richie says eagerly. “That’s more like it.”

Eddie frowns again, but this time he doesn’t look angry. He looks like he’s figuring something out. “Oh,” he says, propping himself up on an elbow. “You feel awkward.”

Richie tilts his head like a dog. “Now what gave you that idea?”

Eddie looks at him earnestly. “Do you not want to do this?”

Richie groans and lets his head flop back onto the pillow. “God, I don’t fucking know,” he says. “I do, I really fucking do. But it’s also like, a lot of pressure, I guess. I don’t want to, uh…”

“What?”

“…disappoint you,” Richie finishes awkwardly.

“Well, if it makes you feel better, I have almost nothing to compare it to, so.”

“Agh, that just makes it worse,” Richie whines, suddenly wishing he still had on the sleep mask.

“How does that make it worse?”

“Because it’s your first time! I want to make it good.”

“Richie, I was married for almost ten years. I’m not a virgin.”

“Oh, excuse me, I guess I just assumed that you and the missus were pretty strictly P-in-V missionary household.”

“I mean... yes...”

Richie scoffs.

“But that doesn’t mean I haven’t put my own… Fs in my own… A…?” Eddie frowns.

Richie’s body suddenly feels hot with the implication. “Y-you—”

“And anyway,” Eddie goes on, leaning forward again to slide a finger across Richie’s hole, “shouldn’t I be worried about making it good for you? Call me crazy, but I’m not particularly worried about my own orgasm.” He presses a fingertip steadily against Richie’s rim, almost firmly enough to enter him, and Richie’s breath catches in his throat.

“I think you could do anything to me, and I would like it,” Richie tells him truthfully, his face on fire.

“Noted,” says Eddie, with a little smile, and slides a finger inside at the same time as he closes his mouth again over Richie’s cock.

Richie’s eyes roll into the back of his head, his hands fisting in the sheets as he tries not to thrust his cock down Eddie’s throat. That thought sends his brain spinning back into last night, when he was on his knees with his own mouth around Eddie’s cock, when Eddie was nearly fucking his face, and he lets out a keening moan, his thighs twitching beneath Eddie.

Eddie stays there between his legs, licking at his cock, stretching his hole with one finger and then two and three, while Richie quickly falls apart beneath his hands and tongue. He thinks, vaguely, as Eddie’s fingers are stretching him so nice, hot and snug and wet, that Eddie must be drawing this out to ensure it’s good for Richie, to get him so close that he’ll be a quivering mess within moments of Eddie thrusting into him, and the thought has him so needy and desperate he nearly spills over Eddie’s tongue.

“Eddie,” he gasps, when Eddie’s fingers brush against his prostate. “Eddie, oh my god, please.”

“Is that it?” Eddie asks breathlessly, his mouth open and wet, licking along the crease between Richie’s thighs and his tightening balls.

“Yeah, yeah, that’s it,” Richie says, nodding frantically. “But you gotta leave it alone or I’m gonna fucking bust.”

“Mm,” Eddie hums, and licks a hot stripe over Richie’s balls up the shaft of his cock to swallow the head once again, making Richie moan and writhe beneath him.

“Eddie, I can’t— I’m not gonna last, please just—”

Eddie pulls off Richie’s cock with a gasp. “Please just what?” he asks, and when Richie opens his bleary eyes, Eddie smirks up at him and drags his fingertips over his prostate once more, making stars burst in his skull.

“Please just fuck me, you goddamn demon,” Richie laughs incredulously, overwhelmed, and Eddie laughs too, burying his nose in Richie’s pubic hair.

“Okay, since you asked nicely,” he says, chuckling. He kisses the base of his cock. “Well, semi-nicely.”

Eddie slowly withdraws his fingers from Richie’s hole and pushes off the bed to sit back on his heels. When he does, Richie finally gets to see the state of Eddie’s own cock, which is stiff and red, leaking copiously down the shaft. Richie wonders, lightheaded, if Eddie left a damp spot on his sheets. He must have, he’s so wet.

Eddie reaches again for the lube, then pauses. “Uh, should I…?” He gestures vaguely at his dick.

“Huh?”

“You know. Wear a condom.”

“Oh.” Richie swallows hard. The idea that Eddie might bareback him honestly had not occurred to him, given Eddie’s whole… everything. “Um, I… I’m good, I haven’t, uh, with anyone. Since I got tested last, so.”

“Me neither,” says Eddie, but still he doesn’t move. “Do you want me to wear one, though?”

“Oh, uh.” Richie looks away. “No?”

“It’s okay if you do.”

“No.” Richie makes his voice firm as he looks back at Eddie, kneeling between his legs with a bottle of lube in one hand and his hot, hard cock in the other. “I don’t want you to. Please just fuck me raw, Eddie,” he says, and he tries to make it sound like a joke, but it only comes out low and needy. He shivers at the desperation in his own voice, blood zinging hot through his veins.

“Fuck, Richie,” Eddie groans, his head falling back. He squirts lube onto his hand and smears it over his cock, twisting his hand over his length, and Richie thinks madly that he’s so pent up right now that he could come untouched just watching Eddie jerk himself off like this.

But Richie doesn’t have long to dwell on that heady thought before Eddie scoots forward on the bed, lifting Richie’s legs and bending them so that he can press his thighs against Richie’s ass. He looks down, takes his lubed-up cock in hand, and rubs it slowly over Richie’s stretched hole. Richie’s eyelids flutter shut at the feeling, but then he reminds himself to look, to look, because Eddie (Eddie!) is kneeling between his thighs and fitting the head of his dick to Richie’s entrance, and then looking up and leaning over Richie while he pushes forward with his hips to breach his hole and—

Richie gasps, shuddering, as Eddie begins to press inside him.

Immediately, Eddie is breathing hard against Richie’s face. He bends his neck to press his forehead against Richie’s. “Oh my god, Rich. Oh my god.”

“Eddie.” Richie runs his hands feverishly up and down Eddie’s arms, his shoulders. He cups one around the back of Eddie’s neck and brings the other forward, to splay over his scar.

“This is— okay, you were right, this is—”

“Different?”

“Yeah,” Eddie breathes, drawing his hips back slowly and then driving them back into Richie, and now Richie can’t help his eyes closing, can’t force them to stay open, when he can feel the cradle of Eddie’s hips pressed right up against him, his balls under his ass. “Better.”

“Oh. Good.”

Eddie laughs weakly. “Is that a relief to you?”

“Huge.”

“Yeah, you are,” Eddie says with a smirk, reaching between them to wrap a hand around Richie’s cock, hard and hot, sandwiched between their stomachs.

“Eddie,” Richie gasps, stars winking behind his eyes as heat pools in his gut. “You can’t— I’m gonna—”

“Yeah, okay, yeah,” says Eddie, releasing him. He slides his hand up Richie’s chest, dragging his fingernails through the hair there and making Richie hiss. He presses a kiss to Richie’s temple. “You know, you’re not the only one who wants it to be good.”

“It’s already amazing,” Richie admits breathlessly, and with a surge forward, Eddie captures his mouth in his, kissing him deep and sweet and sloppy as he begins to move in earnest.

Even though Richie’s dick lies untouched between them, the feeling of Eddie’s tongue filthily sliding over his, of his back and hips flexing and thrusting, the drag of his cock as he pulls out and drives back in, all of it is setting Richie on fire, flames licking through his veins higher and higher. Tears prick behind his eyes when Eddie’s fingers twine into his hair, when he pulls back his mouth but leaves his forehead pressed against Richie’s, moaning against his cheek. It’s overwhelming.

Then Eddie shifts an arm back and loops it under Richie’s knee, and with the new angle, every time Eddie drives in, every slide of his cock drags the flared, wet head over Richie’s prostate, setting him shivering and boiling all up and down his spine. Richie moans as his head falls back against the pillow, and he feels moisture slide out the sides of his eyes and down into his ears and hair.

“Richie, fuck,” Eddie breathes, right into his ear. “You feel so fucking good.”

“Eddie,” Richie groans, heat coiling in his stomach. “You feel— fucking incredible. You sure you haven’t done this before?”

Eddie laughs into his shoulder, snapping his hips forward and making them both moan. “Must just be, hnngh, a natural.”

“Maybe he’s born with it,” Richie gasps out, and Eddie laughs harder before biting down onto Richie’s shoulder and thrusting into him more strongly. He slides a hand down to grip hard at Richie’s hip, his fingers digging into the meat of his ass.

“God, you,” Eddie gasps into Richie’s throat, “you’re so good, Richie.”

A shiver runs down Richie’s spine, tears pricking at his eyes. “Eddie.”

“Yeah, so good, baby,” Eddie breathes, and laves his tongue over Richie’s jumping pulse. “So fucking good. So much better than I ever even imagined.” And his hand slides around Richie’s thigh to feel where they’re joined. The pads of his fingertips press against Richie’s loosened rim, stretching around Eddie’s cock with every fevered thrust.

“E-Eddie,” Richie cries, feeling the heat beginning to build in earnest, the fire beginning to blaze. Eddie’s hitting that sweet spot within him with nearly every thrust, like his cock is a fucking homing missile, and Richie’s eyes are rolling back in his head, sweat beading on his brow. He wants to reach between them to grip his cock but he feels like if he lets go of Eddie’s shoulders, his back, he’s going to fall into oblivion, sink below the water, and never be able to resurface.

The feeling of Richie’s rim stretched around and swallowing his cock seems to be setting Eddie on fire, too. His thrusts are turning harder and more erratic; his moans in Richie’s ear devolving into little more than fuck and Richie and so good for me, his hands scrabbling along Richie’s sides, kissing Richie’s temple, his jaw, his open mouth.

Tears are streaming down Richie’s face as Eddie shifts once more, pushes himself up off the mattress and hooks his other arm around Richie’s leg, grips his thighs to drag him back onto Eddie’s dick. Richie moans, heat lancing up and down his spine, pooling beneath his rock-hard cock. He opens his wet, unfocused eyes and looks up.

Eddie is flushed all down his neck and chest, his sunburst scar standing out stark and white and shiny amidst the blush of skin. His hair is ungelled today, curly and soft and damp with sweat at his temples, falling over his lined forehead. His eyes are mere slits beneath his dark brows, furrowed tightly in concentration as he gasps through his red, parted lips.

He’s fucking beautiful. He’s fucking beautiful, and he’s fucking Richie so fucking good, he’s gonna make him—

“You’re—” Richie gasps, and his hips kick upwards, “you’re fucking— so fucking hot, Eds.”

“Don’t—ahh—don’t call me Eds,” Eddie bites out with a twisted grin. Sweat drips from his brow and lands on Richie’s cock, bouncing heavily against his stomach as Eddie thrusts hard into him.

“Fuck, Eddie, fuck,” Richie moans, gripping a hand around his cock, drenched with sweat and the precome that Eddie is fucking out of him, and grips it hard, beginning to stroke. Heat is building deliciously in his groin, his hips, the head of his cock, stoked higher with every drag of Eddie’s dick over his prostate, sliding over him over and over.

“Yeah, that’s it,” Eddie grits out over him, his hips jerking arrhythmically, falling forward over him again. “Fuck, Richie, oh my fucking god—”

“Eddie,” Richie whimpers, his hand twisting desperately over his cock, “I’m gonna come. You’re gonna make me come.”

“Yes, oh my god, yes,” Eddie gasps. “Come on my cock, Richie, fuck.”

“Oh Jesus, god, I’m so close, Eddie, I’m so close—”

“God, yeah,” Eddie groans, his breath hot on Richie’s face, his fingers digging hard into Richie’s hips, “feel so good for me, Richie, taking me so fucking good, love you so fucking much—”

“Fuck, Eddie, I’m— Eddie, I’m coming, I’m coming, ahh—” Richie cuts himself off with a sharp cry, tugging hard on his dick, shooting hot, white stripes of come all over his stomach and chest and fist, his blood roaring in his ears, and he hears distantly over the rushing in his head how Eddie is crying out, too, thrusting hard into him until he buries himself hard in Richie’s body, coming hot and endlessly inside him.

Gradually, Richie regains the wherewithal to open his eyes. When he does, he sees Eddie blinking blearily, dazedly, back at him. He smiles at Richie, and Richie smiles dizzily back.

“Christ,” Eddie breathes, rubbing a hand down his face.

Richie laughs. “No kidding.”

Eddie bends down to give him a quick kiss and then shifts backwards to withdraw his softening dick. He guides Richie’s legs down to fall to either side of him, and relief floods Richie’s veins as he can stretch them out once again. He flexes his feet, wiggling his toes.

Eddie sits back on his heels between Richie’s thighs and swallows hard, still catching his breath as he looks down at Richie: his sweaty chest, the come drying on his stomach, in his belly button. “I’m gonna get us some wet towels or something,” he sighs.

“Okay,” says Richie, feeling a slight pang in his chest at the thought that Eddie won’t be right there next to him, and immediately followed by a wave of embarrassment. He watches Eddie push himself off the bed, wobbling a little on his feet as he pads into the bathroom.

Richie shoves his smudged glasses up into his sweaty hair, rubbing at his eyes. He’s been leaking like a fucking faucet this whole time, and not in the fun way, like Eddie seems to. He plasters an arm across his face and hopes that Eddie will just think it’s because he’s well-fucked (which he is) and not because he’s suddenly overwhelmed by the deep ache in his gut at the knowledge that Eddie is going to have to leave tonight.

“What’s wrong?”

So much for that.

Richie sniffs hard and pulls his arm away from his face, readjusting his glasses. Eddie’s standing naked in the doorway to the bathroom, holding two hand-towels. His hair is wild, his cheeks colored, his flushed, softened dick hanging between his legs. Richie wants to sob at the sight of him.

Richie smiles wetly, feeling his chin begin to tremble. “Would you believe me if I said you just fucked me so good?”

Eddie smiles uncertainly at him, approaching the bed. He climbs onto it beside Richie and begins to rub him all over with one of the towels, and it’s wet and slightly cool and Richie shivers pleasurably at it, like entering a cool movie theater on a hot day.

“I don’t believe you, no,” Eddie says, soaking up the come and sweat over Richie’s chest. “But I hope I did nonetheless.”

Richie chuckles. “You definitely did. Top notch.”

“Thanks. You made it easy.”

“Oh, yeah?”

“Yeah, you were… pretty inspiring.” Eddie shoots him a shy smile, and Richie goes warm all over, down to his toes. “I wish I didn’t have to go back to New York.”

And that sets Richie blubbering again. He covers his face with a hand. “I’m gonna miss you so much, Eds,” he says hopelessly. “It was so much easier when I thought you were just a straight dude I was in love with.”

Eddie snorts incredulously. “That was easier?”

“Well, it was hard in a different way.”

“You weirdo.” Finished with rubbing Richie down, he reaches for the other hand-towel, which is dry. He begins to smooth that over Richie’s body, too. “I’m going to miss you, too,” he says kindly. “But we still have a few hours before I have to go to the airport. You wanna eat that food I got? I can warm it up.”

And honestly, Richie would rather go hungry and just cuddle Eddie in bed until the last second he has with him, but Eddie is looking at him hopefully, like he really wants to eat this food together, so Richie says, “Sure, Eds. I could use a bite.”

Eddie smiles. “Great. I’ll go get it ready.” And he dresses himself quickly, gathers up the plate he had on the bedside table, and is out the door before Richie has even gotten out of bed.

Richie rolls out of bed slowly, feeling loose and warm and sad and happy. As he pulls on his t-shirt and boxers, he promises himself he’s not going to cry anymore today. At least not until Eddie leaves.

But when Richie enters the living room, his crinkled, wrung-out eyes still fill with dumb tears, because Eddie is standing sheepishly by the breakfast bar of his kitchen, two full clamshell packages of grocery store cupcakes laid out in front of him, one with blue frosting, the other pink, both with white sprinkles. Richie’s heart is in his throat, making it hard to swallow.

“Eds,” he says huskily, “is that—? Are those—?”

“I don’t know if you remember,” Eddie says, frowning at the cupcakes, “but in second grade, you brought—”

“I remember,” Richie blurts out, nodding vehemently, and now the tears are flowing freely.

Eddie looks back up at him, smiling a little in disbelief. “You do?”

“Yes.”

“I threw up.”

“I remember, I remember.” Richie sniffs loudly and lifts a hand up under his glasses, pressing a finger and a thumb hard into his eyes. His heart feels like it’s overfull and about to burst like a water balloon.

“It was the only birthday of yours that I was ever there for,” Eddie says quietly, stepping forward. “But I remember hearing about the others. So…”

He bends down behind the breakfast bar, and when he stands up again, he hefts a plastic bag up onto the counter. Richie watches him remove things from it—a case of beer, some kind of logo t-shirt— Richie furrows his brow in confusion, stepping closer.

“So, the beer is— oh, fuck, wait a second.” Eddie cuts himself off, fumbling his phone out of his pocket. He taps at it a bunch, and Richie just stares at him while he does.

“Uhh…”

“Hold on. There we go.” Eddie holds it up, and then Richie recognizes the opening strains of Foreigner begin to play.

It’s gonna take a little time, a little time to think things over
I better read between the lines, in case I need it when I’m older

The tears begin to flow again.

“Remember how you used to make me mixtapes?” Eddie says, a little bashfully.

Richie nods, unable to speak.

“I would listen to them over and over again. This song was on one of them, and I listened to it so much I wore out the tape. Sometimes, I… I’d let myself wonder if you put it on there for a reason.”

“Obviously, I did, Eddie,” Richie laughs, moisture gurgling in his throat. “I was not subtle.”

“Well, you put ‘Eat It’ by Weird Al on the same tape, so you can excuse me for not assuming,” Eddie says, heated.

Richie laughs.

Anyway,” says Eddie, glaring at him for a moment before it softens into a nervous smile, “the beer.” He puts a hand on the case of Coors Light. “Is from your sixteenth birthday. You said last night that you got drunk that night because you wanted to put your head in my lap and have me play with your hair, and I— I thought today, we could…”

Richie nods over and over, overcome, feeling like his chest is going to burst.

Eddie smiles at him, still looking slightly nervous. “Okay, cool, yeah,” he says, looking down and reaching for the folded t-shirt. “And this is… remember when we wanted to go to Boston?” He unfurls the shirt and reveals that the logo across the front says BOSTON SUCKS, in the font used for the Red Sox.

Richie barks out a laugh. “Where the fuck did you get that?”

“I saw it in the window of a sports paraphernalia store in New York, two days ago after we talked on the phone. It’s what got me thinking about visiting you, actually.” He folds it over his arm with a smile. “So you can thank New York’s weird rivalry with Boston for that.”

“Eds,” Richie says, overwhelmed. “This is too much, I don’t deserve all this…”

“Shut up, Richie,” Eddie says fondly, reaching back into the bag. “I told you, I’m trying to be a better person.”

“Post-therapy Eddie,” Richie murmurs, amazed.

“Exactly. And incidentally, therapy might help you to feel more like you do deserve it. Now this…” Eddie pulls out what looks like a kids’ travel-size toy. Richie leans in to get a look, and sees that it’s one of those cheap, tiny bowling games, with six pins and a marble-sized bowling ball. “This,” Eddie says, glaring at the toy, “is for my least favorite birthday that I missed.”

Richie cocks his head at it. “I don’t even remember this one.”

“Seriously?”

“Yeah, seriously. Which one was it?”

“Your fifteenth birthday. You guys got to go bowling, and my mom found out it was your first boy-girl party and decided that was too scandalous for her taste.”

Richie laughs. “Oh, that’s right. Man, that was awkward. Brenda Arrowsmith was clearly only there because she wanted to fuck Bill, and the friends she brought were bored as hell. I don’t think I talked to them once.”

“Well, Stan told me afterwards that Cissy Clark came onto you, and I wanted to fucking scream.”

“I don’t even remember talking to her,” Richie says truthfully. “Oh, wait, is that why you were such a little shit in school the Monday afterwards?”

“Yes!”

Richie laughs, his stomach fluttering. He can’t get over this. Eddie liked him, too. Eddie likes him, too.

“Anyway, I found that in the grocery store,” Eddie grumbles, setting it down. “And… and I couldn’t find anything else, but I thought maybe we could watch a movie while we drink bad beer and cuddle on the couch and maybe that will in some small way start to make up for all the birthdays I missed.”

“Eddie,” Richie sighs, and finally steps around the breakfast bar to wrap Eddie up in his arms, clinging tightly to him. Eddie hugs him back, relaxing into his chest. “This is incredible, and I love you so much, but you already made up for it with that grade-A dicking you just gave me.”

“Jesus Christ.”

“I will take the couch cuddling and a movie, though,” Richie goes on with a smile, running his hand over Eddie’s back. “Were you thinking of Freddy’s Revenge, by any chance?”

Eddie laughs. “How did you know?”

“Just a feeling,” Richie says softly, hooking his chin over the top of Eddie’s head. “We haven’t changed a bit, Eddie Spaghetti.”

Eddie huffs dramatically, nestling his face into Richie’s chest. “Oh my god,” he sighs, “just fucking call me Eds, already.”

And okay, Richie thinks, feeling warm and luminous as he squeezes Eddie even more tightly, maybe they have changed a little.