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the brim of longing

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“Thank you,” Eddie says. Richie gets the door to his room open.

 

“It’s no problem,” Richie says. “I’ll go grab your bag, okay? Be right back.”

 

Eddie nods, and so Richie goes back down the hall to Eddie’s room. His gut twists, but he dismisses it. After what they’ve been through, Richie thinks it’s okay they’re all a bit twitchy about leaving each other alone. But they couldn’t all shower at Mike’s, and Richie's sure that he and Bill will make their way back here in the next few hours. There had been talks of pizza. Showers first, then pizza.

 

Richie’s not even that hungry, really, even though he can’t remember the last time he had anything to eat. He can’t remember the last time he had any water to drink, either. 

 

The door to Eddie’s room is unlocked. Eddie had given him clear instructions: his pyjamas were folded on the bed, just like he said they would be. Richie grabs his toothbrush quickly, intentionally doesn’t look at the shower curtain, ripped from its rings, but then stops and does look, instead. Looks really, really hard. 

 

Eddie nearly died. Twice. Richie fucking killed a guy. 

 

Eddie’s got a couple of toiletry bags set up, so  Richie grabs them. Bets Eddie uses some fancy as fuck shampoo. 

 

When Richie gets back, Eddie’s kicked his shoes and socks off but is otherwise still standing in his ruined clothes. “Are you okay?” He asks Richie as soon as he steps back into the room. 

 

“Yes?” Richie says.

 

“You took a long time,” Eddie says, but won’t look Richie in the eye. 

 

Richie softens. Holds Eddie’s stuff out to him and feels like a cat with a mouse in its mouth. “Sorry,” Richie says. “I thought you’d be in the shower already.” 

 

“It’s your shower, you can at least go first.” 

 

Richie shakes his head. “No can do, Spaghetti man. You’re up first.” Richie knows Eddie is losing his shit, barely keeping himself contained; there’s no way he isn’t. Richie’s own skin feels like it’s trying to escape its fate, and Richie doesn’t have any stuff about germs. 

 

“Is that my toothbrush?” Eddie asks, and Richie smiles.

 

“Yeah, sure.” 

 

“That’s--” He stops. “Thanks.” 

 

Richie claps his hands together, feeling so awkward he wants to disappear and isn’t sure why, which always makes it worse. He bites it down, wrestles out of his shoes and kicks them so they land beside Eddie’s.

 

When he looks up, Eddie is still just standing there, although he’s set his pyjamas and toiletry cases onto the foot of the bed, is holding onto his toothbrush and staring at Richie with an expression that Richie doesn’t know how to decipher. Richie blinks at him, raises an eyebrow, and Eddie says, “I-” then stops. 

 

“Are you okay?” Richie asks, which he should have done when Eddie asked him the same. 

 

“I don’t know,” Eddie says. Meets Richie’s eye, and Richie’s chest feels tight. He’s spent the last twenty-seven years holding back when he feels the urge to touch someone. Doesn’t know if that’s a habit he should think about breaking now. It’s the same fear it’s always been. That if he starts, he won’t be able to stop. Richie’s been to rehab. He knows the truth about desire and affection. If you’re lonely enough, empty enough, you can convince yourself that almost anything is the same as love. 

 

“That’s okay,” Richie says. “That you don’t know. We’ve got time to figure it out, anyway.”

 

Eddie’s mouth tugs up into a small smile that makes him wince when it pulls at his cheek. 

 

“Shit,” Richie says. “I- okay, I’m shutting up now.” He mimes zipping his lips, throws the key away. 

 

“I don’t want you to shut up,” Eddie says. “I just,” he sighs, closing his eyes. “I think I’m scared of the shower.”

 

“Oh,” Richie says. “Oh,” he says again, giving Eddie a small, tight-lipped smile. “That okay, Eds, that seems pretty normal considering. Want me to sit in there with you while you shower? Stand guard?”

“Will you talk the whole time?” Eddie asks. 

 

Richie sheds his jacket and drops it on top of the pile of their shoes. A single toxic spot in the room that he guesses they can deal with after. “Only if that’s what you want.”

 

“If that’s okay,” Eddie says. And that’s something Richie can do, easy peasy lemon squeezy. 

 

Richie ushers Eddie towards the bathroom with his hands on his shoulders. He spins Eddie around so they’re facing each other again, but keeps his hands on his shoulders. “Look at me,” he says, leaning his face forward, and Eddie looks at him. He’s looking at Richie like he’s very skeptical of whatever he’s about to, which Richie thinks is cute. He still gets a little furrow between his eyes when he glares at Richie like he’s nuts. “I’m going to open the shower curtain, okay?” He says. “Do you want to look, or look away? What’s better?” 

 

Recognition ghosts across Eddie’s face, before his expression goes blank again. Then he closes his eyes softly. 

 

“You look,” he says and takes a deep breath in through his nose. 

 

Richie drops his left hand and opens the shower curtain and Eddie breathes out through his mouth. Richie feels his shoulders rise with a new inhale, and it all happens in a matter of one, two, three seconds, but something in Richie’s gut shifts and settles, and his voice sounds too soft when he says, “Coast is all clear, Eds.”

 

Eddie nods but doesn’t open his eyes right away. Richie squeezes his shoulder. “It’s okay, Eddie.” Eddie’s breath is shaky, but he nods again before opening his eyes. He looks over his shoulder at the empty shower. “You’ll feel better when you get cleaned up.” 

 

“Thanks,” Eddie says. 

 

“Anytime,” Richie says.

 

Eddie sets his toothbrush down beside Richie’s on the side of the sink, and Richie steps out of Eddie’s space. “I’m just going to,” he gestures over his shoulder and Eddie nods. “You get the tap running.” 

 

Richie steps out of the bathroom and gets out of his button-up and then pulls his t-shirt over his head. Looks over his shoulder at Eddie, who is halfway out of his pants but struggling to get them off without actually touching them. He’s got a scowl on his face that makes Richie feel like his chest is full of bubble bath, about to start foaming at the mouth from the pure joy of watching Eddie do anything. What a thing to have missed for so long. 

 

Richie shucks out of his pants, which hurts his hip. Inspects the bruising along his side, touches it gingerly. He should probably ice it. He hears Eddie turn on the tap, then switches it from the main faucet to the shower setting. 

 

When he moves to join Eddie back in the bathroom, they’re both down to their briefs. Richie resolutely looks at the hunch of Eddie’s shoulders as he fidgets with the shower taps. He’s got freckles along his shoulders. 

 

Eddie stands, and Richie leans against the doorframe. 

 

“I guess this is a real shit or get off the pot kind of moment, huh?” Eddie says, which makes Richie laugh. 

 

“I mean,” Richie says. Shrugs. “Not really. I can wait as long as it takes.” 

 

Eddie shakes his head once. “You shouldn’t do that,” Eddie says.

 

“Do what?” Richie asks. 

 

“Let people take whatever they want from you.” 

 

Richie makes a noise in his chest. “You’re not people,” he says. “And you’re not taking anything from me.” 

 

Eddie looks at him, and he must decide something because he squares his shoulders and huffs his breath. Then he tugs his briefs down in a single motion and steps into the shower without a word to Richie.

 

Out of Eddie’s sight, Richie rubs a hand over his face. 

 

“Can you say something, you asshole?” Eddie says from the shower, acoustic and echoing against the porcelain of the shower wall. Richie remembers Eddie singing in the shower as a kid. He was kind of tone-deaf at the time, but Richie guesses that could have been puberty. 

 

“When I was at Second City, we used to do the exercise called And Another Thing where someone would call out a topic and you had to do a two-minute rant on it.” Richie says, sitting on the closed lid of the toilet seat. Looks down at his hands. “I think you’d be good at it.” 

 

“You were at Second City?” Eddie asks, his voice soft. Haunted by nostalgia or fatigue or something else, Richie supposes, or any combination of all the terrible things that have happened to him. There’s nothing Richie can do to make it better for Eddie. Richie, having gotten everything he ever wanted -- except one thing, the big thing, the missing thing that made all the other stuff feel meaningless and empty -- didn’t know what to say to Eddie. Eddie, who got trapped under the grip of his mother’s claws and ever escaped; and Richie, who was richer than God and undeservingly popular. 

 

Success and money were not the same as water. He’d learned that in rehab, too. Water and love were worth so much more than fame. But that was the thing. It slipped through your fingers. It held up ships. 

 

“I was. ‘99.” Richie says, “I wasn’t that good. Improv isn’t my strong suit.” 

 

Eddie doesn’t say anything, but Richie guesses it’s unfair to expect banter from him all the time, especially now. Richie’s tired, too. “I was in and out before the year was up. Were you in New York, then?” 

 

Richie waits a beat, then says, “Eds?” 

 

“Sorry,” Eddie says, but it sounds tight, choked, raspy. 

 

“Eddie?” Richie stands. “I’m going to peek my head around the curtain, okay?”

 

He tugs the curtain back, just a bit. Eddie has a hand against the back wall, under the showerhead, his back is bowed, hunched at the shoulders, his head hanging. Richie can’t really see his face, but he can see Eddie’s breathing hard, his back ribs rising and falling a little too quick to be normal. 

 

“Eddie,” Richie says. “Are you okay, man?”

 

Eddie shakes head, barely but enough that Richie knows it’s costing him a lot. “No,” he says, and it comes out a whisper. 

 

Richie’s mind doesn’t really make any choices, but his body does, and he steps into the shower easily, pulls the curtain back closed. The rings grate against the metal shower curtain rod. The spray is warm where it hits his ankles. He says, “You gotta talk to me, Eddie.” 

 

“I,” he says, then stands up a little straighter. “I can’t get my shampoo open,” he says. “My hands are. They’re shaking. Sorry.” 

 

Richie puts a palm on Eddie’s upper arm, doesn’t squeeze. Doesn’t move otherwise. “That’s okay. Here, I can get it.”

 

Eddie nods, then turns slowly, shuffling his feet. Richie’s never actually been in a normal shower with another grown man. There’s really not that much room. There’s some irony here, some sick joke about the kind of intimacy Richie hasn’t ever had in his life, and Eddie being the first one for this but for nothing else. If it had been up to Richie, Eddie would have been the first and the last and the only of everything for Richie. 

 

“Sorry,” Eddie says, and Richie shakes his head. 

 

“Don’t be. It’s okay.” Richie uncaps the shampoo bottle with a small click. “Hold out your hand.” 

 

Eddie does, and Richie squeezes a nickel-sized dollop of shampoo into the palm of Eddie’s right hand. 

 

Eddie says, “Can I have a bit more?”

 

“Let’s do it a few times,” Richie says. “That first. More after you lather and rinse.” 

 

Eddie nods. Richie sets the bottle, still uncapped, on the tub’s ledge. Eddie’s left-hand grips at Richie’s wrist. “Can you. Please stay?”

 

Richie shutters out a breath. He nods. “Okay.” His voice sounds gruff. He sounds so serious. “Sure, Eddie. I can stay.”

 

Eddie nods, doesn’t look at Richie’s face. His cheeks are a little red. Richie’s not sure he’s ever been this close to a man’s naked dick without looking. He feels like he must be in a dream. 

 

“You can’t hog all the water, though,” he says, a lame attempt to break the tension that’s somehow mounted again. 

 

Eddie snorts. “Okay, well you’re still in your underwear, so.” He shrugs, then closes his eyes and lathers shampoo into his hair. 

 

Richie steps out of his briefs and then drops them outside the shower curtain. He tries to suppress a shiver. Eddie’s still got his eyes closed anyway. 

 

Eddie has an anxiety disorder; Eddie got stabbed in the shower; Eddie is afraid of being in the shower alone. There’s a logical chain of events, causes and effects, that have led to this moment, and none of them have anything to do with Richie’s dick. There’s not anything sexy about it. It’s just...a normal reaction to being afraid, to being alone for so long, to suddenly being allowed to have something that got taken away. The memory of how they took care of each other had been ripped away from them. It's okay for Eddie to want to get it back. It's reasonable to not want to be alone anymore. 

 

Eddie is still facing Richie, standing under the showerhead with his head tilted back. Richie doesn’t know where he’s supposed to look. Watching Eddie’s adam’s apple bob in this throat feels obscene. Like it’s something he’s stealing. 

 

Eddie rinses the last of the shampoo from his hair, then opens his eyes. His eyelashes are clumped together from the water. He says, “Trade ya,” and shuffles with Richie in an awkward, slippery little dance so they can switch spots. 

 

Richie shuts his eyes as the hot water hits the back of his neck. Like with most hotels, he has to duck to get his head under the stream, but it feels nice. He sighs, relaxing a bit, warming up quickly. Most scary things in life, Richie knows, get at least a little bit easier after a good shower. He turns to face the spray of the shower and scrubs a hand over his eyes, his cheeks. 

 

“Does it hurt?” Eddie asks. “Your hip.”

 

“Mhm,’’ Richie hums. “Yeah.” 

 

“I have some painkillers,” Eddie says. Richie turns back around and looks at Eddie, who quickly looks up at Richie’s face. “Switch again.” 

 

Richie nods, and they trade places again, Eddie having lathered more shampoo into his hair. Richie squeezes shampoo into his hand, works it into a good lather in his hair. 

 

He opens his eyes, unsure of when he closed them. The dim of the shower and the aged orange lighting in the room and the fact that they haven’t slept in nearly three days makes Richie feel a little unmoored. Like it’s dusk and dawn at the same time. The beginning and the end. A snake and its tail. 

 

They shuffle around again so Richie can rinse the shampoo from his hair. Eddie’s hands are still unsteady, so Richie uncaps the small bottle of conditioner that Eddie hands him, and then a bottle of body wash. It smells like lavender, which makes Richie want to cry for some reason. 

 

Eddie stands under the spray with his face turned up against it as he scrubs at his chest. Richie resolutely looks at the back of Eddie’s head. He’s got some grit at the middle of the top of his spine. 

 

Richie says, “You have, uh. On the back of your neck.” 

 

Eddie reaches his hand over his shoulder, elbow bent sharply, and he misses most of it. Richie shakes his head, but Eddie can’t see him, isn’t looking, so it doesn’t matter. “Want me to get it?” He asks and tries to not feel like a weirdo about it. 

 

“Can you get my whole back?” Eddie asks, and Richie doesn’t know if there’s ever been a version of him that would say no. 

 

“Okay,” he says, quiet. He lathers Eddie’s body wash in his hands, and slowly, as softly as he can manage, settles his palms against Eddie’s shoulder blades. 

 

His back is strong, which Richie could easily see, but it’s something else to feel it. He really grew up to be so, so handsome. Richie likes everything about him. Eddie lets out a shaky breath, like it takes something with it as it left him. Richie moves his hand to scrub at the spot Eddie missed on his neck, a small and tender sound escapes Eddie’s throat. Richie pulls his hand back immediately. 

 

“Sorry, sorry,” Richie says. “What hurts?” 

 

Eddie shakes his hands. “No, no, you didn’t-” He reaches back over his shoulder and flexes his fingers in a grabbing motion. Richie lets his wrist fall into Eddie's grip, and he tugs Richie’s hand back to his shoulder. Richie settles his palm back against Eddie’s shower-warm skin, and Eddie drops his hand. “You didn’t hurt me,” he says. 

 

“Eddie,” Richie says, unsure of what he means by it or what he wants from it, and Eddie’s breath hitches. 

 

“I just-” Eddie breathes in deep. “I missed you.”

 

Richie presses his hands against Eddie’s back just a bit harder. Adds pressure as an acknowledgement. Richie wants to press his cheek to Eddie’s spine. “It’s okay,” Richie says instead, even though he’s not sure it is, not sure it ever could be, not after everything that’s happened to them. “We’re okay.”

 

Richie watches Eddie breathe in and out. “Can you-” Eddie says, and Richie stops breathing, waiting for the shut up, or the get out, but instead Eddie says, “Please just touch me.” 

 

“It’s okay,” Richie says again, squeezes at Eddie’s shoulders before sweeping his hands and the soapy, lavender-scented lather across Eddie’s back in big, slow circles. “You’re okay.”

 

“We’re okay,” Eddie says back to him. 

 

Richie washes down the middle of Eddie’s back, down his spine, presses his thumbs gently into the muscles on either side of the bone. Traces his fingers the press of his ribs and along the hard edge of Eddie’s shoulder blades. His thumbs press into the tight muscle of Eddie’s trapezius muscle. 

 

He squeezes at the meat of Eddie’s upper arm, then says, “Armies up,” which makes Eddie huff a small laugh. He scrubs up and down Eddie’s sides, then gives it up and says, “All done.” 

 

Eddie turns to face the other way, no longer facing the spray, and he blinks at Richie as the soap rinses off his back and down through the drain.

 

“I’ll get yours,” Eddie says, putting a hand on Richie’s elbow to switch spots with him again. Richie faces the spray and closes his eyes and starts to count to five in his head. On four, Eddie’s fingers settle, splaying wide across Richie’s back. He copies what Richie had done to him, wide sweeping circles, then down the contours of Richie's spine. 

 

“Your posture is terrible,” Eddie says. “You’ve probably got scoliosis.” 

 

“You’re such an ass,” Richie mumbles, a weak retort but at his highest level of intellectual capacity when Eddie’s hands are pressing into the stiff muscles along the side of Richie’s neck. 

 

Eddie’s hands skirt down his sides, and though it tickles, Richie doesn’t squirm. He stops, though, and then the fingers of Eddie’s left-hand whisper against the tender skin of Richie’s hip, barely touching him at all. “I’m sorry,” Eddie says, voice choked again. 

 

“I’m okay,” Richie says. “I’ll be okay.” 

 

“You’re hurt,” he says. 

 

“It’s not so bad,” Richie says. It could have been so much worse. Richie doesn't consider himself unlucky, not if this is the worst of it. They’re alive. That’s already worth so much. “We’re safe,” Richie says. 

 

Eddie’s arms suddenly come around Richie’s middle, and he feels Eddie’s face press against his upper spine as he hugs him. Not that tightly, really, but heavily in a way that Richie guesses, actually, is just tenderness. Commitment to the bit. Weighted with meaning. 

 

Richie’s arms settle down along Eddie’s as he overlays them, Richie’s palms along the backs of Eddie’s hand. Eddie sighs when Richie relaxes, and Richie feels Eddie’s chest slowly settle against Richie’s back. Richie’s been trying very hard to keep the lid on his own emotions since they made it out of the cistern, out of the house on Neibolt. He feels like a bottle of Pepsi with a Mentos dropped in it. He’s been trying to keep his cool, but he doesn’t know how to rationalize this away. He can feel the space between the back of his legs and Eddie, feels all the places they’re touching as much as the places they aren’t, and he doesn’t know how to make it not gay. He feels very gay about this. 

 

He doesn’t want to spook Eddie, who’s unravelled in a way that Richie thinks he’s nearing himself: overflowing with sadness, grief and fear and anger; absolutely pushed the brink of his pain limit and full to the brim with longing. Richie has scraped the bottom of the barrel of his loneliness. 

 

He traces his thumb across Eddie’s knuckles and says, “Eddie.”

 

Eddie shifts his head, the ridge of his nose pressing directly against Richie’s back. He moves slowly, drags so the tip of his nose kisses Richie’s spine. 

 

“Eddie, if you don’t stop I think I’m going to kinda lose my shit.” 

 

Eddie stills. Starts to pull back before Richie can explain. He starts to say, “Sorry, I-”

 

Richie grips at his wrists, “No, Eds, I didn’t mean-” He tugs Eddie’s arms until they settle back down against his torso. “Eddie, I have feelings for you.” 

 

Richie can feel Eddie’s breath against his back. He’s got his eyes closed against the spray of the shower. He’s about to start panicking,  feels his face getting too warm. 

 

“Don’t say that,” Eddie says. “Don’t say that if you don’t mean it.” 

 

Richie’s heart pounds in his chest. “I do mean it,” he says and holds his breath. 

 

“Richie,” Eddie says, and Richie’s not sure which of them is shaking, if it’s both of them, but Richie’s hand tremors against Eddie’s until Richie squeezes Eddie’s hand in his once, sharp. “I need,” and he tugs at Richie to turn around. 

 

Richie turns, blinks heavily against the water from the shower, and Eddie’s so close, not touching him but skin electric with it anyway. Eddie’s right-hand settles in the middle of Richie’s chest, his left on his shoulder. He whispers, “You’re okay,” slowly, looking at Richie’s face. 

 

“We’re okay,” Richie whispers back, and Eddie kisses him. Richie’s hand settles on Eddie’s uninjured cheek, the other around his shoulders. Eddie’s not that small, really, not as much as Richie’s teased him for, but Richie feels like he could smother Eddie with how tightly he pulls their bodies together, chest to chest, thigh to thigh, mouth to mouth. 

 

It’s urgent. It’s steam-warmed. It’s desperate before it even starts. Or maybe it started years ago, maybe it’s been desperate in the back of Richie’s mind, out of view but begging all the same. Richie’s been reaching for Eddie his whole life, even when he couldn’t remember; he grips him tight. 

 

Eddie licks into Richie’s mouth and Richie moans. He hasn’t slept in at least sixty-five hours and he’s really hungry and he’s so sad, and he’s never been more motivated ever in his life. He feels terrible, but maybe he has also never felt better than he feels with Eddie’s hands in his hair. 

 

Eddie’s hands scramble like he can’t figure out how to hold onto Richie the right way. Richie wants him to have whatever he wants. It wouldn’t matter what he did or how he touched him so long as he did it. So long as Richie could feel Eddie’s hands on him, it wouldn’t matter. So long as Richie could touch him back. 

 

Richie’s been trying to fight down a half-chub for a few minutes, and his angst had been the only thing keeping his body at bay. Eddie makes an obscene noise in his chest and the floodgates of Richie’s desire burst open. Richie can feel where Eddie’s getting harder and harder against his thigh. Richie will drown in his wanting if he can’t get more of Eddie. 

 

He wants everything. 

 

He’ll take anything. 

 

“Please,” he says against Eddie’s mouth.

 

Eddie says, “Anything.”

 

“I need to touch you,” Richie says.

 

“Please,” Eddie says. 

 

Richie does. Gets his hand around Eddie’s dick faster than he’s ever done anything. Squeezes. Shifts so they’re both a little under the spray of the shower. Jerks over Eddie’s length and feels him get stiffer in his hand. Eddie kisses him again.

 

Richie presses his thumb against the head of Eddie’s dick and flicks on the upstroke, his other hand firm against Eddie’s elbow where they’re braced against each other. Eddie moans and breaks away from Richie’s mouth, presses his face to Richie’s collarbone. Drags his teeth against Richie’s skin. Eddie’s hips skip into Richie’s fist as Richie pumps over him. 

 

Richie says, “Eddie.” 

 

“I’m,” Eddie breathes. “I’m not going to last.”

 

Richie turns to press his face into Eddie’s, nose to cheek at the odd angle, Eddie’s mouth still attached to Richie’s clavicle. “Fuck,” Richie says, overcome. Eddie pulls his face back, then shifts so there’s more space between them, and then wraps his hand around Richie’s dick. Richie looks at Eddie looking at him, hard, red at the tip and already leaking into Eddie’s grip, and has to close his eyes. 

 

“‘S good,” Eddie says, and Richie isn’t sure if it’s a question or a statement, but he nods anyway. 

 

“Yeah,” he says, and fucks up into Eddie’s fist. It takes a minute, but they find a rhythm, Richie pumping his hand over Eddie with the same push and pull of Eddie’s fingers around him. Eddie’s breath against his neck is hot. The water is starting to cool, not running cold yet but definitely not as heated as it had been when Richie first stepped into the shower. 

“Richie, honey,” Eddie says. “I’m close.”

 

“Please,” Richie says, doesn’t know what he’s asking for. “Fuck.”

 

Richie can feel his balls getting tight, feels the heat of his orgasm building in his belly. His flood is full of Pop Rocks. His teeth feel like they’re about to chatter. 

 

“Richie,” Eddie groans.

 

“I’m with you,” he says against Eddie’s ear. “Come on, Eds. Please.”

 

Eddie’s hips stutter and he presses bodily against Richie as he comes, pulsing in Richie’s hand and spilling between them with a drawn-out, “Fuck.” Richie pulls his hand over Eddie until he’s sensitive, whining into Richie’s skin. 

 

As he settles back into himself, he shifts against Richie, starts to jerk him off again after faltering as he came. “What do you need?”

 

Richie makes a high-pitched whimper and wants to feel embarrassed but can’t. He can’t be anything other than destroyed, shaking, blessed beyond belief. “This,” he says. “This is good.”

 

“Richie,” Eddie says, and bites at Richie’s chin. He presses his free hand against the small of Richie’s back, pressing Richie into his fist, moving with each thrust of Richie hip. Richie falls over into his orgasm and through it. Lands on shaky knees, his hands gripping at Eddie like a drowning man to a raft. 

 

“Fuck,” Richie says. 

 

And Eddie, the asshole, snorts a laugh. “Yeah,” he says. “We did.” 




 

-

 

 

 

 

Richie settles against the pillow on the side of the bed furthest from the bathroom just as Eddie steps back into the room, a fresh bandage on his cheek and pyjama clad. 

 

“It’s okay still, right?” Eddie asks, standing beside the bed. “For me to stay?”

 

Richie nods, watching Eddie. Without his glasses, it’s hard to see Eddie’s expression from this angle. He’s too far away to see clearly. “Please,” Richie says. 

 

Eddie nods. He lifts the comforter and lays down facing Richie. They blink at each other for a few beats. “Should I get the light?” Richie asks, and Eddie nods. He moves slowly so as not to hurt his hip, but the Tylenol Eddie had given him is helping already. He finds the switch on the lamp and clicks it off. 

 

Darkness settles over them, and Richie settles in bed. It takes him a minute to adjust, but his eyes can eventually make out the general shape of Eddie’s face. 

 

“I do too,” Eddie says, and Richie furrows his brow. 

 

“You do too what?” Richie asks. 

 

“Have feelings for you,” Eddie says. “Kinda crazy ones, I think. Scary.” 

 

“Scary,” Richie says back to him, sussing it out. “Scary how?”

 

“They’re real big,” Eddie says. “And I think they’re really old.”

 

“We’re middle-aged,” Richie says. “We’re not old.” 

 

Richie can see Eddie smiling. Watches him lick his lips. “It’s going to be really hard, for a bit, I think.” 

 

“That’s okay,” Richie says. “I’ll help if I can.” 

 

“You already are,” Eddie says. “I can’t make you wait.” 

 

“I will,” Richie says, and reaches his hand across the space between them. “I don’t mind.” 

 

“I mind,” Eddie says. “We already waited so long. It’s not fair.” 

 

“It’s okay,” Richie says. “We’ll be okay.” 

 

Eddie’s fingers find Richie’s between them. “You don’t know that,” Eddie says. 

 

“We don’t have to figure it out now,” Richie says. “Nap first. Then pizza. Then we can figure it out.” 

 

“Okay,” Eddie says, still smiling. His eyes slip closed, and Richie’s do soon after.