They are at a sleepover. The Losers were able to convince their parents to let them have a big slumber party at Bill’s house and they were all pumped to eat junk food and play games and chat all night. It’s getting late and they are winding down so they decide to watch a scary movie that Ben was able to sneak from his house. Richie’s stomach is twisting and turning because of how close Eddie is sitting, and during the first jump scare, Eddie squeaks and hides his head in the crook of Richie’s neck and doesn’t pull away, resting his head on Richie’s shoulder. Richie’s heart is going a mile a minute and he’s scared to look at the reactions of the other Losers, even though it's unlikely they are paying attention at all. Instead of looking, he casually puts his arm around Eddie and they stay like that until they fall asleep. When Richie wakes up Eddie has moved and he misses his warmth. They don’t talk about it.
They are in their second year of high school and they actually get invited to a party. Well, correction, Beverly gets invited to a party and she brings the rest of the Losers with her. The host isn’t too happy about it, but he should’ve known they are a package deal. They find out that there are weed brownies at the party and Richie immediately grabs some for them. Eddie is nervous at first but eventually decides what the hell. At least it’s not a joint, he wouldn’t be caught dead inhaling things into his lungs just for a short high and lung cancer 20 years later. So he agrees to try it, and Richie couldn’t be more excited to see what Eddie is like when high so he can make fun at him for it later. In the end, it turns out Richie is the one who is much more out of it and starts giggling at absolutely everything. Eddie thinks this is cute, not that he would admit it. The two of them pretty much forget that there are other people at the party and stick to their couch in the corner, laughing and making dumb jokes and perhaps sitting a bit closer than they should be.
After a bit, Richie gets quiet and he starts staring at Eddie with a slight smile on his face. Eddie notices and says, “What are you looking at, dickweed? Is there something on my face?”
Richie shakes his head slowly and says “No… it's just, you know I always tell you that you’re a cutie, Eds. But fuck… you’re really beautiful.” Eddie is startled by this and immediately diverts his eyes and blushes a deep red with an awkward chuckle.
“Shut up, Rich," he mutters, trying to keep his cool.
“Sorry, just telling the truth. Although, I have to break it to you that your mom is way hotter.”
Richie thinks he probably deserves the punch on the arm he gets for that.
They decide to head home soon after. Eddie thinks about Richie’s smirk and the serious look in his eyes for the rest of the night.
They are sitting in the Barrens with Stan and Beverly. Richie and Bev are both smoking cigarettes while Stan and Eddie talk about an assignment they are working on in their Biology class. Richie groans and dramatically yells, “No more talk about school, please! I don’t wanna think about it, can’t we just chill for a minute?” During his outburst, he lays his head down on Eddie’s lap and stays there after he’s done. In the past year or so, Richie has decided to make it his personal goal to get into Eddie’s personal space as much as possible. Eddie doesn’t mind, in fact he gets butterflies in his stomach whenever he does it. Except for when they are in public, Eddie always pushes him off in public. Richie forgets that not everyone would be as cool as their friends with their casual affection, but Eddie can’t bring himself to forget. It’s always screaming in the back of his mind. But it’s just the four of them here right now, so he lets Richie stay and he gets his usual butterflies.
“Alright, Rich. We’ll stop talking about school, you deadbeat.”
“Thank you." Richie smiles up at him and winks. Then he takes a drag of his cigarette and blows the smoke into Eddie’s face.
Eddie frantically tries to wave the smoke away and groans “Ugh, babe, I wish you would stop smoking. You know that stuff kills you. I read a study last month that said-”
Eddie continued on his rant, unaware of the reactions of his friends. Stan and Bev immediately make eye contact, and have a bit of a silent conversation. They are used to the cuddling and Richie flirting, but Eddie using pet names? This is new territory. Even Richie freezes when he says it. He tunes out everything else Eddie says until Eddie stops rambling and notices how Richie is looking at him, with the biggest shit-eating grin forming, as if he just won some game.
“What? What’s that face?” Eddie is already nervous.
Richie pokes his stomach with every syllable as he says “You. Just. Called. Me. Babe.”
Eddie’s eyes grow wide. “What? No I didn’t, you’re hearing things.”
He scoffs when Stan butts in, feeling like he's experiencing the ultimate form of betrayal “No… you definitely just called him babe.”
Richie’s full out giggling now as he pinches Eddie's cheek and says “I didn’t know we were at that level, babe!” Eddie is burning red now. He’s never gonna live this down.
Eddie feels like he’s gonna throw up. Richie won’t stop boasting about how he asked out a girl to Junior Prom. Her name is Cynthia Roberts, she’s pretty and nice and almost certainly not deserving of Eddie's hatred at all. But he can’t think her name without anger boiling inside him. Richie technically did nothing wrong, since they didn’t have an official thing going. They weren’t boyfriends, they don’t kiss, hell, they’ve never even held hands. They wouldn’t be able to go to Prom together anyway, it would be too risky. Richie had every right to ask a girl. But Eddie thought they had a mutual understanding that there was something going on between them. Something unspoken, that maybe one day when things were safer, or when they were brave enough, they could act upon. Guess not.
So Eddie also finds a girl to go with. Her name is Judy and she’s in his English class. She’s nice, not the prettiest girl, but also not hard to look at. He doesn’t like her like that (he was starting to think he would never like a girl like that) but he figures it would be better than staying at home that night and moping. He doesn’t realize that Judy is friends with Cynthia and that she has already decided that the four of them are going to go as a group. Great. He gets to watch the boy he has a crush on flirt with his date all night as Eddie painfully pretends to be interested in his. So they meet up for pictures before heading to the dance. Before Richie and Cynthia get to Eddie’s place, his mom takes a million pictures of him with Judy. It’s exhausting, and he starts to wish he was just staying home tonight. But then Richie gets there. He looks both ridiculous and handsome at the same time. He’s wearing a powder blue tux and his hair is slicked to the side with hair gel. Eddie can feel himself blushing just from seeing him. Suddenly all he wants is to be going as Richie’s date, fuck what the other kids say. He could hold Richie’s hand and slow dance with him and be truly happy for just one night. But that wasn’t realistic. Richie’s eyes meet his and he looks Eddie up and down slowly. Eddie can even admit that he looks good. He’s 17 now and puberty treated him well, he finally went through a growth spurt and is 5′9, not a little shrimp anymore, he thinks he can objectively say he's handsome, and Richie clearly thinks so too, as he mutters “whoa” just loud enough that Eddie can hear, but only because he’s paying attention. Everyone else misses it.
They take what feels like an endless amount of pictures, but before the last one, Richie whispers in his ear, “You’re the prettiest one here. Judy’s a lucky girl.”
When Eddie checked that picture later, he swears his cheeks were as red as the rose in his boutonniere.
The dance goes just about how you would expect. Teenagers were awkwardly trying to avoid the dance floor until the last hour or so of the dance. Eddie slow dances with Judy, but he keeps his eyes on Richie the whole time. He just about throws up when Richie stares right back. They carpool home, with the girls in the front seats chatting away and Eddie and Richie in the back. It’s dark, and the girls aren’t paying attention, so Eddie slowly reaches over and puts his hand on Richie’s. Richie holds it and they don’t let go until they reach Eddie's house and he has to get out. The night wasn’t a total waste after all.
It’s their high school graduation party. Richie isn’t ready to say goodbye to his friends. They promised to keep in touch at college but there’s no way to be sure, since they are all going different places. In fact, Mike is the only one staying in Derry. Most of all he can’t say goodbye to Eddie. He loves him, and he's fairly certain that Eddie loves him back but he'll never know for sure seeing as they were always too chicken shit to actually talk about it. And now it will be too late. They're going to be 3 hours apart, which isn’t a horrible distance and they can definitely visit sometimes, but it’s incredibly unlikely that a relationship can start when you are that far away from each other. Eddie will find a girl to settle down with and will forget all about Richie after a couple years. The idea breaks his heart. So he drinks. Some kids scored alcohol for the party and lots of it, so Richie decides to just get hammered so he doesn’t feel like such an idiot for letting Eddie get away.
The party is getting wild, the music is blaring, there are red solo cups everywhere, and Richie is just glad that cleaning this all up isn’t his job. He’s only three drinks in when Eddie tries to pull him outside to talk. But no, he knows he can’t handle that right now. He would rather just stay on this couch and drown his feelings down with booze. He tells Eddie that he’s too busy to chat.
Eddie rolls his eyes, “Ruining your liver is not a reasonable excuse to avoid conversation, Richie.”
Eddie leans over to try to pull Richie up, but Richie just pulls his arm away.
“What? Sorry, I can’t hear you over this loud music and my bad life choices!” Richie smiles obnoxiously at Eddie and it looks like Eddie is about to give up when they hear police sirens outside.
“Shit!” Eddie yells, and before Richie can process what’s going on, Eddie has him by the hand and they are running out into the backyard. They keep running until they are far away from the party. Richie looks around and realizes they've run to the Barrens. Even though the Losers were still best friends, they had stopped visiting the Barrens sometime near the end of sophomore year. Maybe they felt too old for it, maybe it lost it’s charm. But this was the first time Richie had been to the Barrens in two years. Eddie and Richie fall on the ground laughing, but Eddie has to use his inhaler to catch his breath. They are laying on the ground giggling until all of a sudden, they aren’t anymore. They're close, too close. Eddie is looking into his eyes, and then down at his mouth. For the first time in their relationship, Richie is the one that’s scared. He doesn’t want this to happen just for him to have to say goodbye in a month. But at the same time, god did he want this.
He starts to say “You know… Eds…”
Eddie is quick to cut him off. He says, “How many times do I have to tell you not to call me Eds?” and then he leans in and kisses him.
It’s wonderful, and it’s years of built up tension between the two of them finally being relieved. Richie thinks he could do this forever and never get tired of it. When they finally break apart, he puts his arm around Eddie and they look at the stars and talk about old memories from their childhood. Richie decides that out of all of those memories, nothing was better than this moment right now. They are moving apart, but they have a month left before they move. Even then, they will work things out. Of course they will, they are Eddie and Richie. Distance could never ruin them. So Richie turns his head and kisses Eddie on the cheek, excited for what’s to come.
They don’t see each other again for another 23 years. They tried to make it work at university, and they might have even succeeded, if they didn’t start to forget. It started out as regular calls and letters that faded into occasional calls that faded into the constant feeling that there was something that they needed to do but they just couldn’t figure it out. They forgot each other. They felt their longing for each other without knowing what they were longing for. The years passed, and Eddie regressed back to square one with his sexuality. He met a woman named Myra. She was nice and she reminded him of home, he didn’t realize until after they were already married that this was because she was just like his mother. Which was weird, but he tried not to dwell on it too much. Richie was out and proud, but he was alone. He was a successful DJ, but he still has this empty hole in his chest that he doesn’t know how to fill. He had a few boyfriends over the years but none of the relationships lasted long.
It isn’t until they are 40 that the memories start flooding back, when Mike Hanlon calls them to let them know that the killings have started again. It’s painful to remember the traumatic events of their childhoods, but a comfort to remember their friends as well. Until they remembered each other. What had happened between them, how they felt about each other, their promise to stay in touch. Eddie suddenly couldn’t stand to look at Myra. That should be Richie. He wasted 23 years of his life without the man he fell in love with as a kid. Part of him hopes Richie forgot as well, and that it hadn’t just been him shutting Richie out. They come back to Derry and when they first see each other again they don’t know what to do. Run into each other’s arms like some cheesy romance novel? Apologize? Ignore each other completely? No, not that last one. Definitely not the last one. They smile at each other, but don’t speak until they are alone again. Richie speaks first.
“This might sound weird, since I forgot you… but I missed you. I just didn’t know what or who I was missing all this time. It was you. You were the missing piece.” Eddie can’t handle this. He doesn’t know what to do.
“I missed you, too, Rich. Shit, I can’t even say how much I missed you. But….” He takes a deep breath and lets it out, “I’m married now. Her name is Myra, she’s a nice woman who doesn’t deserve to have an unfaithful husband.”
It physically pains him, because he wants nothing more than to just kiss Richie and live all the years that he missed with him. But he’s a religious man, and God wouldn’t want him committing an act of infidelity. He swears he can visibly see Richie’s heart break.
“That’s ok, Eds. I figured you would’ve settled down by now. I just want you to be happy.” He tries to hide it, but Eddie can hear that he’s getting choked up.
“Hey, listen to me, Rich. We are gonna figure something out. Myra, she’s a good woman and all, but you make me happy. I promise we can figure something out after all of this clown mess is over, okay?” He knows there is the looming thought of what if we don’t make it out of this alive? but he pushes it aside. He needs to believe.
The next few days don’t give him and Richie much time to figure things out. They are busy trying to save the town again, but this time, when Pennywise appears to him, it’s not always a leper. It keeps appearing as Richie, showing him die in various ways. Every time it just about gives him an asthma attack. Richie has to survive this, they have to be able to figure things out between them. Little did he know Richie dying wouldn’t be the problem. The 6 losers are battling Pennywise, showing it’s true form as a horrific spider-esque creature. Eddie decides to be brave for once in his life, and he ends up bleeding out in the sewers with his arm ripped off. Richie runs to him, panicking, holding him in his arms and cupping his cheek.
“No, no, no, no. Eddie, you are gonna be fine, ok? You have to be fine. We are gonna figure things out, remember?” Richie is already tearing up. Eddie smiles weakly, already knowing he will never leave these sewers again.
“Yeah, Rich. We are gonna figure things out. We’ll spend the rest of our life together, annoying each other, just like old times.” Eddie laughs and gasps in pain.
“Eds, we’re gonna get you outta here. I promise.” Richie is shaking, and Eddie wants nothing more than to cheer him up.
He smirks weakly and in between gasps says. “How many times do I have to tell you not to call me Eds?”
He can see a spark of recognition in Richie’s eyes, the memory of their first kiss. He leans down and gives Eddie a soft kiss on the lips, tears trailing down his face. When he breaks away, Eddie smiles at him, happy that Richie’s is the last face he’ll see, and then draws his last breath.
“No, no, god no. Fuck! Eddie wake up, please. I just got you back, I can’t lose you again. Please.” He hugs Eddie’s limp body to his own, running his fingers through his hair as he rocks back and forth, until Pennywise comes back and he is forced to jump back into action. He’s ready to kill this motherfucker.
They kill Pennywise once and for all. Richie gets some comfort knowing Eddie didn’t die in vain. He keeps his promise and gets Eddie’s body out of the sewer and gives him a proper burial. Before he heads back to L.A., he goes back to the Barrens at night and lies down where he and Eddie laid over two decades ago. He closes his eyes and remembers the butterflies in his stomach, the warmth of Eddie’s skin, the soft laughs, the hands loosely tangled together. He smiles. It’s the first time he has smiled since the day in the sewer. He thinks it’s time to say his final goodbye to the boy he loved. Loves.
“Hey Eds. Yeah, sorry, but even in death I’ll still be calling you that. I wanted to say a proper goodbye at your gravestone, but there were too many people there, and I thought it would be better here. Just you and me. So... here it goes.”
Instead of continuing, he lays there in silence as he feels tears begin to well up in his eyes and his mind goes blank. The words just don’t want to come out.
After a few moments of this, he breaks the silence with a laugh. “Wow! Alert the media, Richie Tozier is speechless. Who could’ve seen that coming, right?” His smile fades and he clears his throat before he continues, “Fuck, I’m gonna miss you a whole hell of a lot, Eddie. To be honest, it was always a wonder to me why someone like you would like me. You were you and I was the obnoxious trashmouth. So... thanks for putting up with me back then, I suppose. I’m happy we got these last few days. Of course I’m sad we lost all those years, but I guess I’m just glad I got to see you again. One last time, you know? I never told you this but… I think I knew I loved you since that first slumber party with the Losers. When you put your head on my shoulder. You probably don’t remember it, but trust me, it was quite the big deal in my hormonal 14 year old mind at the time. You always were and always have been the most beautiful person in my eyes. Yeah, I know, I know, this is getting cheesy. If you were here you’d roll your eyes and tell me to shut up, even though I know you always secretly liked my cheesy compliments and pick-up lines. Anyway, I’ll wrap this up. Eds, thank you. I love you so much. Hopefully I’ll see you on the other side and we can figure things out between us then, right?” With that, Richie got up and left the Barrens and Derry for the last time.