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when you shiver, make a sliver big enough for it to have a space

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Before Eddie, a lot of the things Richie knew about vampires were things that he’d learned through whispers from his friends and a few hasty internet searches. None of it from very reliable sources, but in Richie’s defense, they don’t teach vampirism in school. There are mentions of it here or there, usually when a historical figure happened to be a vampire or the extremely interesting and mildly horrifying unit in sophomore year biology about a vampire’s organs, but nothing ever in depth.

The point is, he’d been certain for a long time about things that weren’t true. He’d thought vampires couldn’t feel emotion, he’d thought vampires lost their humanity after they turned, he’d thought that deep down, all vampires were bloodthirsty monsters.

And then he met Eddie, and all of that shit went out of the window.

It’s certainly fun, he thinks, to learn the little things about being a vampire. The way Eddie’s fangs will slide out on their own when he’s hungry but also when he gets super excited about something. How his pupils subtly slit vertical like a cat’s when the room is dark. How his emotions are actually much more intense than they were when he was a human; he’s just had centuries of practice dealing with them.

Beyond that, it’s an exquisite joy to learn the little things about Eddie. Richie knew Eddie, of course, they were best friends for years, but there is a level of intimacy they couldn’t reach as just friends. A level of intimacy achieved by letting Eddie bite him in a freezing car, he thinks wryly.

Eddie carries wet wipes with him wherever he goes, despite how he can’t get sick anymore; he just doesn’t like being sticky. He takes his coffee black when he’s happy and with a sickening amount of sugar when he’s not. He likes being the big spoon because he likes being able to protect Richie with his body. Sometimes, when he’s tired or stressed, he’ll slip into formal, old-times English and a faint accent that Richie can’t place and Eddie doesn’t explain. He could crush Richie with a single hand and yet his touch is always more gentle than Richie could ever fathom.

Richie doesn’t think he’s stupid to not ever want to let it go.

Now that he’s gotten a taste of what vampirism means and also the sides of Eddie that he always ached to know, he’s absolutely certain he knows what he wants. He wants Eddie forever, until the world burns and splits apart and through whatever comes after. He wants Eddie in all the ways he can have him.

It absolutely will not be easy to convince Eddie, though.

Eddie thinks of vampirism as a curse, Richie knows, even if they’ve never spoken about it. Eddie staunchly avoids the conversation any time Richie tries to bring it up, even going so far as to up and leave the room if Richie ever prods too closely. It’s one of the few things he’s ever seen Eddie get truly upset about; usually, Eddie’s temper is held in close check, because Richie knows Eddie is terrified of lashing out and accidentally hurting him. Not that Eddie ever could. And not that Eddie was the one to tell him.

No, all of Eddie’s fears—of vampirism, of himself, of him and Richie together—came by word of Mike, because him and Eddie had been a coven together since shortly after Eddie was turned. Since Mike, by then already a century or so old, had taken one look at a fledgling Eddie and decided he needed help. And the connection they share is deeper than Richie thinks he is capable of understanding, even with the additions of Bev and Stan and (hopefully) the future additions of Bill, Ben, and Richie himself.

It’s not that Richie doesn’t understand Eddie’s fears. He does, truly. He gets that Eddie has had to leave a lot of death in his wake simply because of what he is. He gets that being a vampire isn’t fun and games and is nowhere near as idyllic as the books and movies try to make it out to be. He gets that he is the injured gazelle to Eddie’s hungry lion, but at the same time, he knows in his heart of hearts that Eddie could never hurt him.

He just wants Eddie to see his side of it. The side where Richie genuinely wants nothing more than to be a vampire at Eddie’s side, officially in his coven, and have the rest of eternity to be able to love him. The side where Richie’s human life isn’t as much of an appeal as Eddie likes to think that it is.

He decides, one night, to just go for it, broach the topic and at least see how Eddie would react. He and Eddie are making dinner together in Eddie’s ridiculously fancy apartment, just a simple dish of steak and baked potatoes, medium-well for Richie and bloody rare for Eddie. It’s a simple night like any other, which means that it’s perfect.

Eddie’s checking on the potatoes when Richie says, as casually as he can, “You know what I want?”

Eddie hums, obviously not paying him much attention. He sprinkles some salt over the top of the potatoes, his back turning to Richie. “What’s that?” he asks, absently.

Richie takes a deep breath. He could say anything right now. He could tell Eddie what he wants is something stupid, maybe make a joke at the expense of Eddie’s mom, and only he would know he had been a coward. It would be so easy not to ask, it would be so easy to just move on and stay in the happy bliss he’s found with Eddie, even if he has to be human to do so.

But Richie Tozier has never done things the easy way, so he bites the bullet and says, all in one big rush, “I want you to turn me.”

For a moment, silence hangs thick in the air. It feels almost as if the entire world has stopped turning, holding its breath to see what Eddie will say. It is suffocating, and Richie’s heart is loud in his ears. He can only imagine how loud it is to Eddie.

Eddie goes completely still. His right hand is still gripping the baking sheet the potatoes are on, the metal loudly protesting when his grip tightens and warps it around his fist. Silently, he bends to slide the potatoes into the oven, his back still carefully turned to Richie. “You don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Richie scowls. It’s an echo of what Eddie had said to him in the car all those months ago, after Richie had offered his blood in the middle of a blizzard. That had worked out fine, hadn’t it? It had brought them here, after all. “Don’t talk to me like I’m a fucking child.”

Eddie sighs, bracing his hands on the counter. He still won’t look at Richie when he rasps, “Compared to me, you are. You’re practically an infant.”

“Fuck you,” Richie snaps back, his blood burning hot in his veins. “Compared to you everyone is an infant. You didn’t have a problem with that when you were fucking me last night.”

“That’s different and you know it.” Eddie finally turns to glare at him, his golden eyes sparking hotly. “We’re not talking about sex here, Richie. Actually, we’re not talking about anything at all. Help me set the table.”

Except Richie won’t move, standing in the doorway with his arms crossed over his chest. He’s hurt and slightly embarrassed and both of those emotions swirl together into anger. “So you’re just going to fucking ignore this? We aren’t even going to discuss it at all?”

“There’s nothing to discuss,” Eddie tells him, turning his back on Richie again. “Drop it.”

“Like fuck I will,” Richie scowls, pushing off the doorway to get into Eddie’s space. He doesn’t quite touch him, wary that he’ll back down the second he feels Eddie’s skin against his own, but he’s close enough to feel the chill of Eddie’s body. “Give me one good reason you shouldn’t turn me.”

“I can think of at least a dozen,” Eddie growls back, his voice shaking in his attempt to keep his composure. He’s gone still again, a statue in the middle of the kitchen, only recognizable as alive for the barely perceptible shake of his shoulders. “It’s a bad idea and it’s not going to fucking happen.”

He starts moving for the sliding glass doors to the balcony, where in a perfect world they’d cook Richie’s steak and laugh over a bottle of wine, but Richie can’t move to follow him. His anger has evaporated, leaving behind a hurt and a devastation that makes his chest feel hollow. There is a noticeable waver in his voice when he manages to whisper, “I’m going to die, Eds.”

Eddie freezes, his fingers around the door handle. When he turns back to face Richie, his face has gone even paler than it normally is. “What?”

Richie swallows. The gold of Eddie’s eyes is hypnotizing even when Richie’s vision blurs with tears. “Those are your choices, Eddie. Either I die or you turn me. There’s no other option.”

Eddie is across the kitchen in a blur of movement, his gorgeous face crumpled in despair and his cold hands wrapping around Richie’s wrists. He’s searching Richie’s face even as he starts to ramble, one hand coming up to cup Richie’s cheek. “Are you dying? Is that what this is? You can’t be dying, Rich, your blood still tastes clean and there’s no sickness, I don’t understand what could’ve—”

“I’m not dying,” Richie interrupts, reaching out to fist Eddie’s shirt. He focuses his gaze somewhere near Eddie’s collarbone, so he doesn’t have to see his expression. “Not right now. But I will someday, because I’m human. Because you don’t want to even think about turning me.”

Eddie sighs, his breath cold and sweet across Richie’s face. He steps closer, their chests brushing now, his other hand coming up so he has Richie’s face cradled between both of his palms. “You don’t know what you’re asking of me,” he murmurs, his voice soft. “You don’t understand what you’d be giving up.”

Richie shakes his head, the tears stubbornly clinging to his lashes finally streaking down his cheeks. Eddie stops their descent with gentle sweeps of his thumbs. “I just want you forever,” he croaks, blinking until Eddie’s face comes back into some sort of focus. “I don’t care about anything else.”

Eddie’s smile turns sad. “You have no idea the depth of what I feel for you,” he says quietly, drawing Richie down to touch their foreheads together. “I love you more than I ever thought possible. I will love you until my atoms dissolve and I am lost to time. I can’t ask this of you, Rich.”

“Good thing you aren’t asking,” Richie tells him, equally as quiet. “Good thing this is me telling you what I want.” Then a horrible thought occurs to him and he stiffens, drawing back as far as he can while still in Eddie’s hold. “Unless you don’t want me following you around forever, which I totally get, so actually forget I—”

Eddie just draws him right back in as if he weighs absolutely nothing, pulling him down to meet his gentle kiss. Richie whimpers against his mouth, already exhausted from the gymnastics his emotions have been running through, sagging against Eddie’s chest. Eddie holds him up easily, smoothing one hand up Richie’s spine and the other around his jaw.

“I just told you I’ll love you for all eternity, dipshit,” Eddie murmurs, the bite of his words lost in how warm his eyes are. “Of course I want you forever.”

“Then why won’t you turn me?” Richie is so close to whining, feeling the inexplicable urge to stamp his feet and throw some sort of temper tantrum.

Eddie looks at him for a long moment, his face going carefully unreadable, before he blows out a breath. “I don’t know what I would do if you grew to resent me for it,” he admits softly. “If one day you realized time would always march on and you would remain stagnant while the rest of the world passed by, and you remembered it was me that made you that way. I think that would kill me.”

For once in his life, Richie has been struck completely speechless. It’s all he can do to stare at Eddie, at the resigned downturn of his mouth like he’s already certain it’s going to happen. “Eds,” he says, helplessly, but Eddie just shakes his head, his expression blank.

“I can’t ask that of you,” he repeats, more desperate now. “I can’t ask you to give up your human life for me when you’re so young.”

Despite himself, Richie snorts, painful but amused. “Young? Eds, I’m 36. There’s nothing young about me.”

But Eddie’s face grows even more somber at that. “You are, Richie, you really fucking are. You have so much ahead of you, you could live another fifty years. You don’t need to throw it all away for me.”

Richie’s words come back to him at the sheer stupidity Eddie is spewing. For a centuries old vampire who is fluent in more languages than Richie could ever dream, sometimes he can be one dumb motherfucker. “First off, fifty years? That’s generous, baby. I’ve been smoking since I was thirteen, some disease will get me long before then. Second,” he says, louder to combat the distressed look that crosses over Eddie’s face, “I wouldn’t be throwing anything away. Eddie, my love, I don’t know if you’ve noticed but my human life isn’t at all glamorous. There’s nothing there I’d want to keep.”

Eddie’s brow furrows, one of them arching into the bitchy look Richie loves so much. “That’s bullshit and I know it’s bullshit. What about Bill? What about Ben?”

Richie matches his expression, feeling his heartbeat pound louder with something that feels dangerously like hope. “Bold of you to assume they won’t have this same conversation with Mike and Bev eventually.”

A shadow passes over Eddie’s face, because he absolutely knows Richie’s right. Bill and Ben are in the same boat as Richie is: no living family, a stable job that becomes nearly worthless in the grand scheme of it all, a lover who happens to be immortal. If Richie turns, he has no doubts Bill and Ben will too. They’re brothers, the three of them, and there’s no way they’ll let him plunge into this abyss without jumping in after him.

“And your comedy?” Eddie’s chin lifts, something smug curling at the edges of his lips.

Richie just rolls his eyes. “Pretty sure I’d get more recognition as a vampire than I do now. Besides, you and I both know how much a job is not a priority when you’re fucking immortal.”

Eddie still looks unconvinced, his face turning dark. He’s still holding most of Richie’s weight against his chest, so Richie sighs and stands upright on his own two feet, holding himself up even when Eddie’s hands fly to his hips. He pushes their foreheads together again, closing his eyes for a moment.

“Eds,” he breathes, so serious for a moment he doesn’t even sound like himself. Eddie goes still. “I know you’re scared, and I can’t lie and say I’m not too, but think of all the good that could come from me turning.” He opens his eyes, focuses on Eddie’s golden gaze, tries not to imagine himself with the same color.

“Like what?” Eddie whispers back.

Richie smiles at him, ducking down to press a sweet kiss to his mouth. Close enough to breathe each other’s air, he murmurs, “We’d be the same temperature.” Even in the heat of Eddie’s kitchen, even in a thick sweater and jeans, Richie’s still lightly shivering, just from Eddie’s proximity. “I’d be just as strong as you, so no more fear of hurting me. We’d get each other forever.” He pauses, smirks, and says, “Plus, imagine the truly kinky sex we could get up to.”

Eddie hits at his shoulder, but there’s a smile blooming on his mouth, something like joy shining in his eyes. Richie laughs, feeling his own happiness fill him up inside, making him light enough to fly. Eddie pulls him closer, kisses the grin right from his lips, deep enough that Richie feels his knees weaken.

When they pull apart, Eddie searches his face again, just like he had that night in the car. He’s searching for any sign of hesitation, Richie knows, but he also knows Eddie won’t find any. He’s never been more certain of anything except perhaps Eddie himself.

“This is really what you want?” Eddie asks him softly. Behind him, the oven beeps.

Richie smiles, small and sure. “More than anything, Eds. I promise.”

Eddie watches him for another long moment, his eyes unreadable, before his gaze trails down to Richie’s throat. His thumb comes up to drag over Richie’s pulse, quickening it at that simple touch. Richie gasps, swaying into the touch, and Eddie’s eyes go molten.

“Not tonight,” he murmurs, his voice warm and soft. “It won’t be easy, sweetheart. The change is painful and there’s nothing I can do to stop that. But I can get everything in order, make sure you’re comfortable. We’re going to do this right.”

Richie doesn’t get the chance to answer him or ask what he means about any of it before Eddie is completely pulling away, his face playful and relaxed again. “C’mon,” he says, turning away to the oven. “We need to cook the meat and our potatoes will get cold.”

Slowly, Richie follows him, feeling a little bit unhinged, like he’s gotten everything he’s ever wanted and doesn't know what to do with himself anymore. He supposes that’s true. He watches Eddie cook his steak, he watches Eddie slather his baked potato in ungodly amounts of butter and sour cream, and feels a little bit like he’s gotten a glimpse of his forever.

In the following weeks, Eddie goes even more neurotic than usual. He flits around his apartment until he’s nothing more than a white blur, dashing from one room to another in the time it takes Richie to blink. He won’t let Richie into the guest room, keeping it locked whenever he’s over, growling when Richie jokingly tries the handle. And he’s over a lot, because Eddie seems less antsy when he has Richie in his sights.

He’s not entirely certain what Eddie’s doing but he doesn’t think he wants to ask. It’s more comforting for him to let Eddie take care of the details of his looming change, only ever listening enough to sign the paperwork Eddie brings to him because of course choosing to become a vampire like this comes with fucking paperwork. Richie stares down at documents like a formal death certificate and something called a re-birth certificate, and maybe to a lesser person it would make them rethink their decision, but in Richie it just leaves behind a sense of excitement. Fuck yeah, he is about to be reborn.

He’s not sure when Eddie’s actually going to do it. Any time he asks, Eddie just smiles and tells him it’ll be soon. Richie feels like he’s about to vibrate out of his skin in anticipation, restless as the days stretch on, far beyond how much longer Richie had been hoping to stay human.

Finally, almost a month after their conversation in the kitchen, Richie unlocks Eddie’s front door to find the apartment bathed in darkness, candles flickering on almost every surface, some kind of calming music playing low enough that Richie has to strain to make it out. Richie pauses just inside the entryway, slowly dropping his keys into the bowl next to the door, just as Eddie rounds the corner and grins at the sight of him.

“Hi, darling,” he murmurs, drawing Richie down to kiss him. It’s heavier than a greeting kiss from him normally is, something lurking in the edges of his mouth, and Richie nearly whimpers into it.

“What’s all this?” he gasps when Eddie pulls away, letting himself be led down the hallway and—fuck—towards the guest bedroom. “Am I being sacrificed?”

Eddie snorts. “What? No, you’re just being turned into a vampire, idiot.”

Richie gestures to the candles, feeling something frantic beating in his chest. It’s not fear, Richie knows it’s not, but it’s certainly nerves, because everything Richie’s ever known up to now is about to come to an end. “It looks like a cult practices their rituals in here, dude.”

Eddie rolls his eyes, drawing them up short a few feet away from the still closed door to the guest room. He brings his hand up to cup Richie’s jaw, his golden eyes almost liquid for how warm they are. “It’ll help with the change,” he promises, his thumb stroking over Richie’s cheekbone. “I just want you to be comfortable.”

All at once, Richie’s nerves melt away, replaced with that all-consuming, stomach-swooping feeling of love he associates entirely with Eddie. There is nothing to be afraid of, not here, not when Eddie will keep him safe. “I love you,” he whispers, feeling his throat tighten.

Eddie’s eyes somehow soften even further. “I love you so fucking much, sweetheart.”

Richie ducks to kiss him again, short and sweet little pecks until Eddie is giggling. Richie grins along with him, feeling a calm wash through his body. “C’mon, Spaghetti Man,” he says, jerking his chin towards the guest room door. “Make an honest vampire out of me.”

Eddie sighs, walking them backwards the last few feet. “You’re annoying,” he complains softly. “I don’t know why I want…”

But whatever else he says is lost when he opens up the door, because Richie is only focusing on the state of the room. He’d seen it beforehand, of course he had, when he and Eddie were still just friends he’d stayed in this room more times than he could count, but it’s completely changed. The tasteful creams and neutral beiges are covered with long strips of black curtain that paper the walls and completely block the window, the bed remade with soft black sheets and a downy black comforter that feels warm even just against his palm. The only light comes from more candles that flicker on the dresser and the nightstand.

He realizes that Eddie is quietly watching him, a small smile curving his lips. When he sees he has Richie’s attention again, he steps closer, his hand following the tender curve of Richie’s spine. “I know it seems like a lot, but it’ll help your senses after the change.”

Richie nods because he doesn’t trust himself to speak. The back of his eyes feel hot at the thought of everything Eddie has done to make his change as easy as it can possibly be, a luxury that Eddie didn’t have when he himself was turned. Richie is full of so much love he’s certain it’s pouring out of him, shining out of his face. Judging from the look in Eddie’s eyes, he understands.

Richie lets himself be coaxed into a soft pair of sweatpants and then under the covers, Eddie’s body pressed close. For once they ignore the way the cold of Eddie’s skin makes Richie shiver, because in a few hours it won’t matter anymore. In a few hours Richie will be just like Eddie, his entire equal.

Eddie frames his face with his palms again, his expression turning serious. “Are you sure about this?”

It’s not the first time he’s asked in the past several weeks, and Richie’s response has never changed. He grins, kissing Eddie as deep and thorough as he can. “Yeah, Eds,” he mumbles into Eddie’s mouth. “I’m sure.”

Eddie gentles him back against the pillows, leaning over him in the dim light. He’s gorgeous with the flickering light of the candles over his face, his eyes shining so brightly Richie almost feels blinded. His hand fits over Richie’s throat, coaxing his head back.

Richie instinctively tenses when he feels Eddie’s breath against his skin, shivering when Eddie huffs a quiet laugh. “Relax, sweetheart,” he murmurs, kissing the fragile curve of Richie’s throat. Richie trembles.

Eddie breathes against his skin for several quiet moments, until Richie goes limp against the bed. Before he can open his mouth to tell Eddie he’s good now, the sharp points of Eddie’s fangs sink into where his pulse beats.

It’s nowhere near the quiet closeness of Eddie feeding from him. This time, Eddie is pumping him full of venom that spreads with every frantic beat of his heart, like the organ knows its time is up. Richie’s lips part around a silent scream, agony coursing through him in the mere seconds it takes for Eddie to pull away.

Distantly, as fire spreads through his veins and scorches him from the inside out, as he blacks out from the pain of it all, he thinks how fucked up it is that this is the one thing that Twilight got right.

The change lasts just under twelve hours. Richie clings to this within the oppressive blackness of his own mind.

He’s not quite sure what’s happening in his body. He’d never thought to ask. It feels as if every organ is calcifying, failing and turning to stone as the venom rages on, but he doesn’t think that’s true. He doesn’t remember that from biology. And even if he did, it would not be enough to save him in this moment.

Eddie had given him permission to scream, apologetically saying it would probably make the pain easier to handle, but Richie pulls a Bella and stubbornly keeps his mouth locked around any noise that wants to escape. He’s not going to put that burden on Eddie. Despite how his body is being scoured to ash, he’s terrified to hurt Eddie even in the slightest.

It helps, slightly, to focus on Eddie anyways. He never leaves Richie’s side, his cool hands tracing over Richie’s face and his voice keeping up a soothing monologue that Richie gratefully latches on to. The pain never leaves, never even really dulls, but it is still a comfort to know Eddie is by his side.

“I love you,” Eddie tells him, over and over and over again, his voice gentle and warm and so fucking soft. “I love you more than anything in the world, sweetheart. I can’t wait to get to love you forever.”

Forever, Richie thinks, and clings to that as his heart screams in agony.

Eventually, when Eddie whispers to him that it’s been ten hours, things start to shift. Not the pain, the pain doesn’t go anywhere, but everything else feels sharper. Over the sound of Eddie’s voice, Richie can hear the roar of the candles, he can hear the music from the front room as if it was at full volume. Each individual thread of the sheets below him shifts around his body. He can feel the grooves of Eddie’s fingerprints against his jaw.

He clings to these senses when the pain ratchets up in intensity, somehow burning even hotter. Eddie’s voice gets closer, his body now a long line of heat down Richie’s side, a contrast to the familiar frigid cold of his skin. Richie desperately hopes that means the change is coming to an end.

He focuses on counting Eddie’s breaths. Exactly six hundred of them later, his heart starts to race faster than it ever has before.

Eddie goes silent for a few moments before a sigh pulls past his lips. It’s almost done, his voice says. You’re almost done.

Four hundred more breaths. Five hundred. Richie thinks his ribs will crack under the jackrabbit of his heart. Six hundred. Seven. Eight.

Just under a thousand, and with the suddenness with which it all began, Richie’s heart beats its last frantic beat and falls silent, the pain sucks its way into his throat, and his eyes blink open into the not-as-dim light of the bedroom.

Eddie’s face is the first thing he sees, infinitely gorgeous and relieved and sweet. When he speaks, his voice is like velvet, soothing in the face of the last half-day.

“Welcome to forever, darling,” he murmurs. Richie’s eyes flash golden in response.