Richie’s always been a bit of a masochist.
Not sexually—well, maybe a little, who’s counting—but emotionally? He doesn’t know how to stop picking at a wound.
Which is why, after Eddie comes out and leaves his wife, Richie offers to put him up for a while. Eddie’s using up all of his accumulated vacation time in one fell swoop and at the end of it he may or may not quit his job, he hasn’t decided yet. By the end of the week, after he’s done crashing Richie’s remaining Reno tour dates, he’ll have to decide and either fly back to New York or not.
Eddie, of course, wants to see Richie’s act. This is the first thing he says when Richie extends the invitation, and it’s a convenient cover to cling to, an excuse to spend some time together, so Richie rolls with it, even though he’d rather die than have Eddie in the audience for his show.
He prepares Eddie for it, though. Tries to get Eddie to watch the show just off-stage, in the wings, the VIP zone (or that’s how he tries to sell it; in reality, it’s just where his tour manager waits it out)—but Eddie refuses. He wants a real seat on the floor so he can get the 'full experience.’
Richie can’t burst his bubble. More than that he can’t admit to the fact that this is not about Richie’s act at all, it’s about his greedy desire to have Eddie to himself for a few days, exactly as possessively as it sounds.
Eddie already knows the basics, anyway: that Richie’s gay and closeted; that the girlfriend he talks about in his act is, while not strictly fictional (she’s an amalgam of a few women he used to date), not currently in the picture; and that he doesn’t write the vast majority of what he says on stage anymore.
All the Losers know this. After Neibolt they went to the quarry to wash up, and it turned into something of a confessional, trading secrets like blood from palm to palm. That’s how Richie knows Eddie’s gay, too.
So really, when Richie walks out on stage and knows that Eddie’s somewhere out there, beyond the stage lights that blind his vision, he knows that this is only going to be superficially embarrassing. They can laugh it off afterward, how Richie does this for a living, gets up on stage and dances like a monkey for a rotating casino crowd who mostly have no idea who he is. They’re not fans of Richie Tozier, they just want to wind down after a long day at the slot machines, have a stiff drink and watch a comedian, any comedian.
When he’s done with the show, a grueling seventy minutes later, he retreats backstage and waits for Eddie to meet him there, burying his head in his phone to numb himself from the post-performance nerves, aimlessly bouncing around inside him like leftover radiation from a nuke.
He feels pretty fucking amped, and more than usual since he knew that Eddie was watching. That added a certain edge to the usual adrenaline rush.
So when Eddie finally appears, ushered in by a member of security, Richie basically shouts, “Hey, Eddie!” as he claps a hand to his shoulder.
Eddie does flinch a little, both from the noise and the touch, but he’s smiling. “Hey. That was fun. Good job, man.”
“Please don’t lie to me,” Richie says seriously, but the volume of his voice is still far from under control. And he still has a hand gripped vice-tight on Eddie’s shoulder. Eddie’s touching that wrist absently, maybe prepared to pry him off, if it comes to that. “I am too fragile for the insult of insincere compliments.”
“Okay, well.” Eddie scoffs a little, glances up above them at the scaffolding and lights and curtains backstage, before returning his eyes to Richie’s. “I just pretended it was, like, performance art. You playing the role of a bad comedian. And you were really good.”
Richie guffaws, again too loudly, and begins ushering Eddie out of there. He’s been touching him for so long now that it would have to be a real conscious choice to stop, and he’s not sure he can pull that off right now. So he keeps his hand lightly on Eddie’s back as he leads him to the stage door exit.
They spill out into the alley, and look at each other for a moment, under the bright floodlight. Richie’s hands find his jacket pockets, instant security.
“Let me take you out,” Richie blurts. “Food, or…?”
“It’s almost eleven,” Eddie says skeptically, but he’s grinning.
“Drinks?” Richie offers, and Eddie agrees.
It’s a weeknight, but it’s still busy. Richie grabs them tequila shots and two lime-stuffed Coronas from the bar and meets Eddie back at the tiny round table he was able to snag.
“To you,” Richie proposes, clinking their shot glasses together. “A single man, new lease on life.”
Eddie reluctantly accepts the toast, muttering a quiet thanks before he knocks his own tequila back. He grimaces and bites on his lime wedge. “Not divorced yet.”
“We’ll have another party when it’s finalized, okay?”
Eddie agrees, smiling, and takes a swig of his beer.
“How’s it going anyway?” Richie asks. “Are you, uh… sowing your wild oats?”
Eddie thoughtfully swallows his sip, possibly buying himself time. “Um,” he says. “In the past… week? No, haven’t really got to that point yet.”
Richie feels a full-body rush of relief at the admission, but he tamps that down quickly. He can process it later, when he’s alone.
“You should break the seal, man,” Richie tells him. “You know what they say, what happens in Reno stays in Reno.”
“Do they say that?”
“I think it’s the official slogan, yeah.”
“What about you, Richie?” Eddie asks levelly. He doesn’t look up from the paper label which he’s picking off the bottle.
Richie feels like he flatlines for a moment, until he manages to find an interpretation of Eddie’s question that’s not a proposition. “Me? Am I getting laid, is that what you’re asking?”
“Are you…” Eddie waves a hand through the air, “Seeing anyone? You know what I mean. What’s your deal?”
“I am not,” Richie says slowly. “Single, ready to mingle.”
“Is dating hard for you?"
Richie nearly chokes on his beer. “Do I look that bad? Jesus.”
“No, shut the fuck up,” Eddie says quickly, rolling his eyes. “Because you’re… famous?”
“Famous?" Richie repeats it with the same questioning tone. “You seem unsure.”
“I am, I mean, I’d never fucking heard of you. Bill yes, but never you.” Eddie just raises his voice to keep talking over Richie’s helpless laughter. “This is why I’m asking, like, are you at the level where it’s hard for you to date? It’s a casual fucking question, for our conversation.”
“Oh my god,” Richie says, still laughing, to the point of nearly tearing up. “You haven’t changed at all.”
Even as he says it he knows it’s not true. But there are glimpses of the old Eddie shining through the cracks, this bright recognizable core of who he is.
“Anyway, uh.” Richie looks away from Eddie so he’ll stop thinking that he can see his soul through his eyes. “I’m not famous enough for it to be a problem, really, and… the people I date are not my audience. There’s not much overlap.”
“No? Gays aren’t a big fan of your extremely heterosexual comedy?” Eddie’s smirking but something darker crosses his expression as his smile fades. “And, uh. Shit, you’re not… out? Is that…?”
“I mean, it’s open-secret levels of indiscretion at this point, so.” Richie shrugs.
Eddie raises his eyebrows and nods but doesn’t ask any followup questions. It’s true, the rumors are out there if you look for them, and most people who work with Richie know that he’s at least not straight.
Richie’s beer is half-empty. He takes another big gulp, and says, “This bar is… I don’t know why I even took you here, this place sucks. I know a better place.”
“Is that… a dick-shaped kiddie ride?” Eddie asks, shooting a look at Richie.
“You’re on a watchlist just for saying that.”
“I’m not the one who–” Eddie sputters, gesturing wildly at the giant veiny dick. “Who made this!”
“You’re gonna ride that before we leave,” Richie assures him, leading them to the bar. “I won’t let you out of here until you do. Resistance is futile.”
“I will if you will,” Eddie says, surprisingly game.
They each order a cocktail and find a place to stand, near the wall and too close to the dancers for comfort.
Richie nods up at their smooth, hairless bodies. “Better view than the last place, huh?”
Eddie looks up, squinting, almost comically critical. “I don’t know,” he says finally.
“You don’t know?”
“Yeah, I mean. Sure.” Eddie shrugs. “They’re hot, but in a… bleh way. Like an underwear catalogue.”
Richie cracks up.
Eddie doubles down, talking over Richie’s laughter. “I mean, like. Who is he?” He gestures at one of the dancers. “You know. He could be anyone.”
“Oh my god, Eddie. You’re killing me. Do you need the stripper’s tragic backstory to get off? Are you one of those perverts?”
“No, I just.” Eddie seems a little actually annoyed now. He takes a long sip of his drink. “I don’t know.”
“Have you been with guys before?” Richie asks cautiously, neutrally. He has very normal feelings about this topic and doesn’t spend a lot of time wondering about it.
“I have,” Eddie says. “When I was younger. I had a rebellious phase.”
Eddie punctuates that suggestive statement with a quirk of one eyebrow and Richie goes weak in the knees.
“So what’s your type?” Richie asks, and he takes a sip of his drink to make sure he doesn’t do anything too revealing with his face. Eddie regards him suspiciously, and Richie adds, “A casual fucking question. Right?”
“Um. Tall, I guess.”
Richie nearly blurts, I’m tall!, which would have been an unmitigated disaster. Instead he gets it together and makes some predictable comment about how everyone’s tall to Eddie, and Eddie tells him to shut the fuck up.
They drink more and Richie presses him for details on his type. Eddie maintains that he doesn’t have a type, but his resolve gets chipped away and he offers up a couple scraps. I like facial hair, I guess, he says begrudgingly. Guys that are funny or smart.
“Wait, funny or smart?” Richie interrupts. “Not both?”
“No, not both,” Eddie says, sarcastic but not mean, playing along with Richie’s banter. “That just means they’re funny and know they’re funny, which is the worst.”
“Like me,” Richie says, and immediately kicks himself.
But Eddie seems unbothered. He just grins and says, “Exactly. Pick one or the other, asshole.”
When they start the third round, the club is even more crowded and Richie has no idea what time it is. They’re huddled around a high-top table next to the dance floor, shoulder to shoulder and heads bent together so they can hear each other over the throbbing music. When someone walks past them too close, Eddie rests his hand on Richie’s waist and leaves it there for a while, a light but persistent weight on the small of his back.
“So what’s your type?” Eddie asks him, leaning in so close to say it that Richie can feel his breath on his face.
“Um.” Richie chews the inside of his cheek. There are two ways he can play this. Eddie’s hand is still on his back, clutching his shirt. “I’m not picky,” he says finally. “Beggars can’t be choosers.”
Eddie shifts away from him, dropping his hand from Richie’s back. He circles it around his glass instead. “Okay, we can have a pity party if you want. I’ve never had a real boyfriend and I’m forty.”
“Nice try, but you saw my act. I win the pity party.”
“Wanna bet?” Eddie asks, with an edge of competition. It’s not entirely playful. “I have never had a blowjob.”
“Oh my god,” Richie says. Now he’s totally lost track of whatever they were attempting to argue about. “You’re joking.”
“Why would I joke about that?” Eddie snaps. “It’s really fucking embarrassing.”
“This is a crime,” Richie says, completely serious. “Every guy you’ve ever slept with should be in jail. Your wife should be in jail.”
Eddie laughs, trying to shush him but it’s no use. "It wasn’t really their fault, I had like… an aversion to it that I couldn’t really… I didn’t know what it was, I guess I thought it was like… a germ thing, but… then back in Derry, I remembered…”
“Oh god, do you have, like, blowjob trauma?”
“Sort of!” Eddie says, still laughing self-consciously. “I never told any of you this but when we were kids, It, you know, it was the leper for me? Once I was alone walking past Neibolt and It started chasing me down the street asking to… to blow me. To suck my dick. Begging me. I mean it was scary for obvious reasons, with his face falling apart, but Jesus. I never felt like I could tell any of you about that, it just made me feel so disgusting and ashamed. I didn’t even really know why.”
“It was less subtle for me,” Richie says lightly. “Called me a fag, like, last week.”
“Seriously?” Eddie says with an explosive little laugh.
“Yeah,” Richie says, laughing too. “The most on-the-nose homophobic taunts, Bowers would’ve been proud, god rest his soul.”
Richie makes a little cross over his shoulders and bows his head for a moment, while Eddie laughs, scandalized. “You killed him.”
“He should thank me for it,” Richie says. “Mad dog put out of his misery.”
Eddie looks at him for a long moment and Richie can tell he knows that Richie’s playing tough. He knows that Richie was shaken from confronting his own capacity for violence like that. Richie wasn’t much of a fighter when they all were. He’s never been the first one to throw a punch.
Eddie knows all this but he lets it slide. He raises his glass to clink Richie’s and says, “Rest in peace, you crazy bastard.”
He’s sulking into his jack-and-coke when someone leans into his space to ask, “Is anyone sitting with you?”
Richie turns around, bewildered. The guy seems around his age, give or take five years, and he’s around his height, give or take an inch.
“Yeah, my friend,” Richie says.
“Are you a comedian?” he asks.
Oh, god. Richie gives him a grim smile and says, “Yeah. Richie Tozier.”
“I saw you tonight.”
When the guy offers nothing else but is still standing there in front of him, Richie asks, “What’d you think?”
“Oh, yeah, funny,” he says unconvincingly, which honestly hurts worse than if he just said he hated it.
The guy’s still lingering there a minute later when Eddie returns from the bathroom. “Hey, Richie,” he says slowly, sliding in next to him at the table. “Who’s this?”
“It’s… I didn’t get your name,” Richie says.
The guy introduces himself as Greg as he swoops in to shake Eddie’s hand.
“He was at the show tonight,” Richie elaborates.
“So I know Richie, but you are?” Greg asks.
Eddie looks at Richie, eyebrows raised meaningfully. Richie ignores whatever silent message Eddie's trying to communicate and answers for him. “This is my old friend Eddie. He’s visiting from New York. He just filed for divorce.”
“Oh, congratulations,” Greg says to Eddie, smiling. “Out celebrating?”
“No,” Eddie says, his voice tense. “I’m here visiting Richie.”
“He’s being humble.” Richie slings one arm over Eddie’s shoulders, and he tries to shrug him off. “We’re celebrating his newfound freedom all week.”
“Good place to do it,” Greg says to Eddie and winks. Literally winks. Richie’s stomach turns. “Can I buy you a drink?”
“No, we’re about to leave, it’s late,” Eddie says, glancing at Richie.
“The night’s still young, Eds,” Richie says. “Greg wants to buy you a drink!”
“It’s one-thirty in the fucking morning and I flew in from the east coast today, so I’m leaving, okay?”
Eddie twists out from under Richie’s arm and makes for the front door, efficiently weaving through the crowd. He’s disappeared from sight within seconds.
“Shit,” Richie mutters.
He runs off after him, leaving Greg behind without remorse, and catches up near the coin-operated mechanical dick.
“Hey, you can’t leave without riding the dick! What did I tell you?” Richie calls after him, reaching for his shoulder.
Eddie spins around, catching Richie’s forearm in one hand, his grip tight. “I came here to spend time with you, Richie, and you’re trying to, like, set me up with random guys. It’s fucking weird. I’m going back to the hotel.”
Richie stands still in shock for only a moment, while Eddie makes his escape, slipping through the front door and out onto the street. “Shit,” Richie says again, shoving through the crowd to chase after him.
Eddie’s speed-walking down the sidewalk, in the opposite direction of the hotel, and he determinedly does not look at Richie when he falls into step beside him.
“Hey, I’m sorry,” Richie says. “I got carried away, I think.”
Eddie doesn’t say anything right away. He weaves through foot traffic like a pro—like a New Yorker—slipping effortlessly through stumbling crowds of drunk tourists. Richie just tries to keep up. They’re a block away from the bar now and the street is quieter here.
“Sometimes it’s like you… just keep pushing me until I snap,” Eddie says, still not looking at him. “I don’t know why you do that.”
“I don’t know either,” Richie says, which is a lie but doesn’t feel like one. “I’m sorry. I’ll stop.”
“And fucking Greg,” Eddie says, a note of humor entering his tone. “No. No way.”
“Hey, he was… tall,” Richie says, chuckling. They’re walking side by side now, at a less frantic pace. “That’s your type, right?”
“Shut up, Richie,” Eddie grumbles, but he’s smiling a little.
Richie shuts up for a while. They walk another full block before he says, “You know the hotel is the other way, right?”
Eddie reels around toward him, his eyes wide and expression comically indignant. “You fucking asshole.”
He grabs Richie’s forearms again, pointlessly wrestling him while Richie laughs and protests, “You told me to shut up!”
“You knew I was going the wrong way the whole time.” Eddie has shoved him up against the brick wall of a dark-windowed restaurant now, still holding his arms, pinned to his chest.
“I can’t do anything right tonight,” Richie laments, looking down at him. Eddie’s so close to him, under the guise of unnecessary aggression. Typical. His lips are slightly parted. Richie wets his own and says, “Look, I… I’m really glad you came to see me. I think I wanna be around you so bad I try to push you away.”
Eddie nods, his expression serious but hard to read. “I thought you were flirting with me all night. I mean. ‘What’s your type?’ Are you kidding me?”
“You said tall,” Richie says, letting out a short almost-hysterical laugh.
“I know, shut up,” Eddie says, and kisses him.
It’s firm and almost stern like Eddie’s trying to prove something, still holding tight onto Richie’s arms.
“Let me–” Richie mumbles, and frees his arms enough to get his hands on Eddie’s face, cradling his jaw. It softens, and Richie slides his tongue over Eddie’s. Eddie winds his arms around Richie’s waist, hands going right to his ass in a move that makes Richie laugh his surprise into Eddie’s mouth.
“Why were you trying to get me to fuck someone else?” Eddie asks, laughing too as he presses kisses to Richie’s jaw and throat. “That’s not a good move.”
“Hey, it worked in the end.” Richie’s leaning against the wall so that their height difference is negated, one of his legs bent between Eddie’s, and he can feels his dick through the layers of their jeans.
“Yeah, after I got pissed at you,” Eddie says. “We could’ve skipped that step.”
“Water under the bridge.” Richie feels giddy, bubbly, drunk but not foggy, just warm all over and the edges a little blurred. He presses his thigh up to watch the way Eddie’s breath hitches. “I wanna suck you off,” he says. “Can’t stop thinking about it.”
Eddie glances around at the quiet street around them. They’ve been making out against a wall but it’s two in the morning and they’re a block or two away from the main strip of bars and clubs, so it’s… slightly private. Then Eddie takes him by the wrist and pulls him around the corner into a narrow alley between two restaurants.
“Eddie,” Richie says, laughing as he gets pulled along. “You’re kidding. You want your first blowjob behind a dumpster?”
“I don’t need a bed of roses at this point, Richie, I’m drunk and fucking horny.” He looks at Richie, and it’s darker back here, but he can still make out his features. “As long as you’re… cool with it.”
Richie laughs, disbelieving but more than ready to roll with the punches. “What happens in Reno, right?” He takes a quick glance around the alley and decides it’s good enough. He backs Eddie up against the wall, the dumpster sheltering them from view, and drops to his knees.
Both of them fumble at Eddie’s pants, getting in the way more than helping each other, but Eddie’s already breathing heavy. When he manages to shove his jeans down his thighs, his dick hangs full and heavy inches from Richie’s face, and Richie wastes no time. They shouldn’t spend too much time out here, anyway; risky. He jacks Eddie twice before taking him into his mouth.
It feels great, straining at his jaw and pressing down on his tongue, full and hot. It sounds great, too, as Eddie lets out little gasps. Richie reaches one hand around to grab his ass, encouraging him to move, set the pace. Eddie does, rocking his hips forward, with one hand on Richie’s shoulder and one in hair. He hits the back of Richie’s throat and groans, a low and filthy sound that sets Richie on fire.
Eddie trails his hand from Richie’s hair to his cheek, and then takes off his glasses, folds them up and slips them into his coat pocket. Weird, but Richie doesn’t care, keeping up the pace without faltering. When Eddie returns his hands to Richie, he’s rougher, pulling at his hair and holding him steady with one hand tight on the side of his face, thumb under his jaw. He fucks Richie’s mouth for a few quick, shallow strokes before he pulls out, starting to come as he does, shooting ropes over his lips and chin. A little into one nostril.
They’re both quiet for a moment, Eddie’s breathing steadying, holding his spent cock in one messy hand. Richie looks up at his face, blurry without his glasses.
“You took my safety goggles and then came on my face,” Richie says, his voice too hoarse to achieve the light joking tone he’s aiming for. “Asshole. Have you ever got cum in your eyes? Fucking burns.”
Eddie laughs breathlessly, tucking himself back into his pants. He offers Richie a hand, pulling him to his feet. He rubs his palm over the lower half of Richie’s face, lazily cleaning him up before he kisses him. Eddie licks his lips, tasting himself.
“Did you just wipe that on the wall?” Richie asks when he breaks the kiss. His vision isn’t perfect, since it's dark and he's glasses-less, but he’s sure he saw it in his periphery, Eddie reaching his sloppy hand behind him.
“No,” Eddie laughs, obviously lying, and kisses him again. “Can I jerk you off?”
“Yeah, please,” Richie says. He’s been hard since he got to his knees. He rushes to unbutton and unzip his jeans, pulling himself out through his fly. Eddie spits into his right palm and from the first touch Richie’s already losing it, feeling so oversensitive and emotional, which is foreign to him where sex is concerned.
Richie actually has been jerked off in alleys before but he’s never felt this immediate chest-swelling emotion over it. It feels somehow safe and private, although it’s definitely neither, but he buries his face in the crook of Eddie’s neck and that’s his whole world for a few short minutes. He doesn’t realize he’s whimpering quietly until Eddie says against his ear, “I got you, Rich, gonna make you come.”
Richie’s shaking on his knees when he does come. He’s wrapped up in Eddie, his arms around him, Eddie stroking the back of his neck and his cock, and Richie spills into his hand.
They pull apart slowly and Eddie looks at the fresh mess in his hand for a moment before he wipes it off on the brick wall behind him.
Richie laughs helplessly. “I saw that.”
“No you didn’t,” Eddie says, and fishes Richie’s glasses out of his pocket to give back to him.
“I’m not that blind.”
“Oh yeah?” Eddie holds the glasses out of his reach, retracting the offer. “How many fingers am I holding up?”
He’s holding up his whole hand, fingers spread, so Richie says, “Five.”
“Four, technically, the thumb’s not a finger,” Eddie replies, in an uncanny impression of his thirteen-year-old self.
“You little brat.” Richie lunges for him to try to wrestle his glasses back. Eddie yelps and spins away, but Richie manages to trap him in his arms pretty easily, holding him pinned with his back to Richie’s chest.
Richie kisses his cheek then bites his jaw and Eddie laughs, squirming fruitlessly.
“We should go to bed,” Eddie says.
“Yeah? Are you gonna give me my glasses back if I let you go?”
“They’re in my pocket, just take them,” Eddie says. “This seems a little unnecessary.”
Richie kisses his cheek again, mouths over his ear and Eddie shivers. “This is extremely necessary, I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Richie does take his glasses back, though, before he lets Eddie go and they emerge out of the alley, first peeking out to look up and down the still-deserted street and ensure that the coast is clear. They head back in the direction of the hotel, Richie leading the way this time.
“We might have to violate the city slogan.” Richie's heart pounds as he says it, even though he’s expressing his feelings in the dumbest possible way.
Eddie glances at him, amused. “What happens in Reno…?”
“I don’t want it to stay in Reno.”
“You know people say that about Vegas, right?” Eddie says. “Like, I’m pretty sure you’re joking but I need to make sure that you know that.”
“I do know that,” Richie says, laughing. “I’m funny and smart, remember?”
“Oh, I remember,” Eddie says. “And, um, yeah. I don’t want this to stay in Reno either.”
“Cool.” Richie’s cheeks ache from smiling.
They walk in comfortable silence for a few more minutes, past the bar and the casino, until the hotel is within sight.
“I got my own room,” Eddie says then, with a long suffering sigh. “Waste of money.”
Richie knocks his shoulder against Eddie’s. “Maybe you can check out in the morning. Stay with me the rest of the week.”
Eddie knocks his shoulder back. “Yeah, that sounds good.”