It’s rare for Richie to be awake when Eddie’s having his first cup of coffee of the day so he’s pretty sure that Richie still doesn’t know Eddie allows himself one teaspoon of sugar in it. Still, he reaches for the bag rather than the sugar bowl, and tastes a few granules before dumping a spoonful into his mug, just to be safe.
Already this morning Eddie has carefully stood back from every door he’s had to open, including their wardrobe. He checked the toilet seat for saran wrap. He did a full circuit of his car when he went for his run, ensuring it hasn’t gained any unusual signage or bumper stickers overnight. He liberally sniffed his shampoo, conditioner and body wash to check for any unwelcome substitutions. The further through his morning routine he makes it without subverting or falling victim to a prank, the more suspicious Eddie gets. He checks inside the box of his muesli for fake spiders before he pours. He checks the soles of his work shoes for secret messages, checks his reflection in the hall mirror even though he’s already washed his face twice this morning.
At this rate, Eddie’s going to be late for work because he wasn’t pranked. But it’s Richie, and this is their first April Fool’s since Eddie moved in, he must have something planned.
Richie Tozier, who in 1985 dug up and stole a ‘for sale’ sign from a house on West Broadway, to replant it in Eddie’s own front yard; the next day, sadly intoning that it was “just like Mrs K, not to tell you, Eds”. Eddie’s 90% sure he cried.
Richie Tozier, who spent six days in March of 1988 perfecting a peanut butter and chocolate fondant recipe with just the right consistency for fake dog shit, who sculpted and froze a realistic turd with his concoction, which he placed on the front step of Eddie’s house just before he rang the bell, calling in for him on the way to school as usual. Richie had scooped Eddie up and swung him over his art installation before he could step in it. “Nearly,” he’d said, as he deposited Eddie safely on the ground. Then “Don’t worry, Eds, I got it,” before kneeling and eating the shit directly off the step. Eddie had gone absolutely ballistic, maintaining even after Richie broke down laughing and fessed up, that it was “still fucking unsanitary, Richie”.
The piece Richie offered to him, eyes full of mirth, grin wide and chocolate-stained, had sailed nearly to the other side of the road when Eddie slapped it from his hand.
Eddie cannot believe that Richie does not have some nefarious but ultimately harmless scheme up his sleeve, but try as he might, he can find no sign of it.
He’s about to leave the house unscathed, when he realises he isn’t wearing his watch. Eddie creeps quietly back into the bedroom, where Richie is just a smear of dark hair atop a duvet covered lump. Richie had done a small set at a local comedy club the night before, just ten minutes, workshopping some new material, but he was always wired during and tired after a performance, no matter the length. Richie slept like the dead after a gig or an orgasm, never mind and.
Eddie rattles around his bedside table, the sounds of his search drowned out by Richie’s snores. No dice. He checks the drawer, the gap between the unit and the bed, the floor around it. Eddie circles the bed, takes a moment to watch Richie’s face, slack in sleep, forehead furrow-free. Just a few more days to the weekend, Eddie muses. Then he can climb back into bed with Richie like he wants to now. Tuck himself up against his wide back, press a couple of quick kisses to the constellation of moles Eddie made him get checked out last year, borrow some of his constantly produced heat. Richie is a desert sun-warmed rock and Eddie wants to stretch out atop him like a lizard.
But he has work, and he’s probably late. Eddie instinctively checks his wrist and frowns at himself.
He does a quick sweep of Richie’s bedside table as he had intended. It is significantly more detritus-laden than his own, but yields no watch. The drawer is worse. Eddie suspects that once a month, Richie just sweeps the accumulated pocket trash he has dumped on the unit when getting changed directly into the drawer, “tidying” exactly how he had as a teen. If Eddie’s watch had been accidentally slid into the drawer last night, it’d be atop the receipt collection Richie is apparently curating, but Eddie has a quick rifle for thoroughness.
He’s giving up, resigning himself to uselessly looking at his wrist all day, when his fingers brush smooth cold leather. Eureka. Or not. The leatherbound object Eddie’s fingers grip is all the wrong shape. Eddie pulls a small black ring box out of Richie’s bedside drawer and feels all of his internal organs carry out a hastily organised strike.
His lungs are the first to agree to the new terms, as he takes a shaky breath.
They haven’t talked about this. Not explicitly. Richie knows Eddie’s all in, he told Richie as much when he moved in. “Are you sure?” Richie had kept asking, like he couldn’t be this lucky, as Eddie made arrangements to have a lifetime of belongings shipped across the country. “Yes, Richie, I’m sure. This is it. I’m in it for the long haul. Are you sure?” Eddie had replied. Eddie’s heart restarts with an urgent rhythm as he remembers Richie’s answer.
“Eddie, you’ve always been it for me. Since crew socks and fanny packs. I’ve only gotten surer.”
Eddie’s still sure, and he has never doubted Richie’s certainty, but they haven’t talked about this. Yet, Eddie realises, as his stomach comes back online with a giddy swoop. They haven’t talked about this yet, but they will, because of course Eddie wants to marry him.
Eddie’s brain is apparently the last organ to cross the picket line, and his skin prickles with sudden dread as he realises this could be what he was waiting for all morning.
Eddie glances from the now suspicious object to Richie, still deep in sleep, and back. He retreats from the bedroom. In the hallway he regards the ring box anew.
It’s light, well made, no distinguishing features to make any suggestion as to its contents. It feels smooth and dangerous, resting in the palm of his hand.
Eddie can’t open it. He can’t because if Richie is planning a fake proposal, he won’t be able to get the pop-up snakes or whatever back inside. Eddie takes another shaky breath. He can’t open it because if Richie’s planning a real proposal, then to look would be extremely unfair to Richie. He should be there when Eddie sees it. If there is an it. Eddie lifts the box to his ear and shakes it very very gently. It doesn’t make a sound.
Did Richie mention anything about dinner plans? Eddie wracks his memory. Richie wouldn’t really propose in public, but he would absolutely fake propose in public. Eddie doesn’t remember any midweek date night conversation. Surely the date would have made him suspicious. April Fool’s pranks are supposed to stop at noon, but it’s a rule Richie happily ignored as a kid and he sees no reason to believe he’d be any more likely to respect proper holiday etiquette now.
Cheryl might know. She and Richie are deeply in cahoots. If Richie had made reservations, he would probably have told her. Eddie can check with her when he eventually makes it into the office. Fuck, he needs to leave.
He stares again at the box in his hand. What does he do with it? Does he put it back?
He has to put it back, he can’t just steal it. If Richie looks for it when he wakes up... If Richie looks for it when he wakes up then it is a prank. And when he can’t find it, he’s not gonna panic like he would if it was real. He’s probably just gonna assume he misplaced it in his own mess. There’s a not so tiny part of Eddie that would like to believe that if this really did have a ring in it, that Richie wouldn’t have kept it in the same place he keeps his collection of spare change, lint, and In-N-Out receipts.
But if he did, he’s not gonna look for it today. Richie is enough of an idiot to fake propose on April Fool’s Day. Richie is probably just dumb enough to propose before they have a proper conversation about it. But Richie is not dumb enough to propose for real on April Fool’s Day. And if Eddie is wrong about that, well then thwarting Richie’s plan is still the right course of action.
Eddie trots down the stairs with the ring box still in hand. He doesn’t want to take it out of the house. He can’t risk losing it, in case this is really an engagement ring. But he doesn’t want to leave it anywhere Richie might stumble upon it.
He circles back to the kitchen and pulls his muesli from the cupboard again. Eddie draws the plastic sleeve full of oats from the cardboard and gently places the ring box inside, before replacing the cereal, allowing the contents to mold around the stolen box. Safe as houses. Eddie is as certain Richie will never find it as he is that the sun will set tonight and rise tomorrow.
Eddie goes to work.
Cheryl shoots him an amused smile as he strides past her desk. “Late start today, Eddie.”
He gives a non-committal murmur, not sure that he could really say anything to describe his morning.
“Did Richie saran wrap your car?”
“Cheryl, I wish he had,” Eddie says, before he closes the door to his office.
Eddie’s had a lot of bad days, in many different jobs. But he doesn’t think he’s ever had a day that dragged quite so much. He does check with his assistant about possible dinner plans. At lunch, he asks Cheryl if there’s anything he needs to get away early for.
“I thought Richie had mentioned something about dinner,” he tells her questioning look.
“Not that he’s told me,” Cheryl says, shaking her head. “Do you want me to book somewhere for you?”
Eddie declines, thanks her, and decides to spend his lunch break in the gym. He feels like something is going to burst out of him, if he doesn’t work off some of the frenetic energy burning under his skin.
Eddie leaves early. When he can’t bear any more waiting, he shuts down his computer and browses twitter on his phone until 4pm hits. Then he slips his jacket on, grabs his bag and books it out of there. Cheryl gives him a cheery little wave as he goes, saying, “Have a nice dinner!”
Eddie slams through the front door when he gets home. Driving in LA traffic usually lets him jettison some of his more aggressive energy but not today apparently. He’s spent the last four hours running through different ways to handle this. He thought he had decided. He’s going to send Richie out for pizza, because Eddie’s favourite place conveniently - Eddie doubts he’ll ever have another scenario where that descriptor is applied - doesn’t deliver. While Richie is gone, Eddie is gonna replace the ring box. Then they’ll eat good pizza, Eddie will let Richie put on a film they would have seen together if they’d gotten to stay friends in their twenties, they’ll make out during the credits, and after Eddie will take Richie to bed and fuck every single thought or word Richie’s ever had that isn’t Eddie’s name out of his head. Then, when Richie is sated and sleepy, Eddie will be safe, and Eddie’s brain will be quiet and he can stop thinking about Richie in a tux, or sliding a ring over his thick knuckles, or writing his own vows, maybe.
Then, in a few weeks, Eddie can slowly start to lay some seeds for the kind of conversations that should precede a proposal.
Eddie had a plan. He had decided. But then he slams into the house and hears an answering thump somewhere before Richie appears in the hall. He’s wearing sweats and a fozzy bear t-shirt, soft with wear. His feet are bare, big and hairy. He looks surprised and delighted to see Eddie. “Oh hey. I found your watch when I made the bed this morning. That why you’re home so early? Had to guess the time?”
Eddie had a plan, but he looks at Richie, soft and welcoming and so happy to see him and he blurts, “Do you want to marry me?”
Richie freezes, stopping on his way to greet Eddie properly, his hands still in front of him, where they were ready to reach to take Eddie’s bag from him.
“What?” Richie asks, eyes wide. “Yes,” he adds, immediately. “What?” he says again.
Eddie feels his own eyes widening. Shit, fuck, abort, holy mother of fuck. “Uh. That’s- that’s not what I meant to say.”
Richie nods slowly, like perhaps it’s reasonable to mistakenly ask someone if they want to marry you. “What did you mean to say?”
Eddie winces. “...Do you want to get pizza?”
“What! I mean, the answer’s still yes, but what the hell, Eds. Those aren’t exactly questions in the same aisle of the store, y’know.”
“Oh god,” Eddie says. He closes his eyes, takes a deep breath, then tries again. “I’m sorry. That’s not what- Give me one second.”
Eddie drops his bag at the door, strides to Richie and pushes up on his toes to press a kiss to the side of his mouth. “I’ll be right back,” he promises, as he continues into the house.
Eddie sheds his jacket, tossing it over a chair with a lot less than his normal care. He can hear Richie following him slowly into the house. Eddie heads through the living room to the kitchen. He returns with the stolen ring box in hand, and Richie’s eyes start to fill.
“Eds, are you-”
“Richie don’t, just- Just let me explain,” Eddie cuts him off.
Richie frowns and fuck, first Eddie stole his ring, and now he’s stealing his thunder, of course Richie’s upset. What the fuck is wrong with him. Why couldn’t he have just put it back and pretend he’d never found it like a normal person.
“Eddie, you know what day it is, right? If this is a fucking joke proposal-” Richie starts, already sniffling.
“If it is, it’s your joke,” Eddie says lamely, and tosses Richie the ring box. Richie isn’t expecting it, he fumbles a little, but catches it against his shoulder. “It’s not mine,” Eddie explains, tone apologetic. “I found it in your bedside table. I’m sorry. I didn’t open it.”
“It’s mine,” Richie says, though he doesn’t sound sure. Richie opens the box. No pop-up snakes explode from it, no unfurled ‘bang’ banner, though Eddie feels a little like he’s been shot. Richie glances quickly inside and nods. Eddie feels his heart clench as he snaps the box closed again.
“You’re not proposing,” Richie clarifies.
Eddie shakes his head. “I wanna marry you, Richie,” he says, and watches Richie’s face as tears threaten to spill again. “But it seems like maybe you already had plans on the proposal front.”
“Why do you have it?” Richie asks, voicing the confusion left in the wake of his surprise.
“I panicked. I thought it was a joke, so I hid it. I was gonna put it back after the prank danger period had passed.”
“You thought I was gonna joke propose?”
“Does that really seem an unfair character assessment to you? You just thought I was joke proposing?”
“You asked me to marry you then presented me with a ring box on April Fool’s Day.”
“God. I did. I did do that.” If there is a defense for that, Eddie isn’t equipped to mount it. “It’s after noon.”
“That rule is bullshit, it’s always been bullshit. It’s April Fool’s Day, not April Fool’s morning.”
Despite his still significant mortification, Eddie feels a smile creeping onto his face. “I love you,” he tells Richie.
“I love you too,” Richie says, quick and true, like he always does.
“I’m sorry I ruined your proposal plans.”
“Eds, I didn’t have any proposal plans.” Richie shakes the ring box, saying, “I bought this six months ago. I’m not saying I forgot I did. I knew it was there, but I didn’t have an orchestrated plan for it. I did however have a plan for the three rolls of saran wrap I hid in the towel cupboard, but I fucking forgot all about it last night, so I guess we don’t need to buy saran wrap ever again.”
Eddie doesn’t ever buy saran wrap. He has reusable beeswax food wraps. But there are more pressing points to challenge first. “Rich, I still lived in New York six months ago.”
“You did." Richie concedes with a shrug. "I just saw it, and I thought you’d like it. And so long as I didn’t fuck things up, I figured I’d need it some day.”
Eddie clears his throat. “What about today.”
“What about today?” Richie frowns. “Wait, you mean-” Richie smiles. “We can’t get engaged on April Fool’s Day.”
“Why not?” Eddie asks. He gives a half shrug, like he doesn’t feel the furthest from casual he has ever felt in his life. “You’re the biggest fool I know.” Richie grins, proud. “And- and I’m a fool for you, Rich,” he adds.
“Eds,” Richie murmurs. The tears are finally falling now, but Richie doesn’t bother to brush them away, as he gets down on one knee. “I’d trade every laugh I’ve ever gotten, for just one from you. I’ve been happier these past few months than I ever thought I could be. I’d wait another thirty years if it meant I got you at the end of it, but I’d rather not wait another day at all if we don’t have to. I love you, Eddie Kaspbrak. Will you marry me?”
Eddie feels his mouth fall open. "Didn't have any proposal plans, my ass," he mutters before, "Yes."
Richie opens the ring box, as Eddie’s saying, “Yes. I know you already know I’m saying yes, but yes.”
Eddie folds himself onto his knees in front of Richie, instead of waiting for Richie to get up. He cups Richie’s face in both hands and kisses him, hard, and then soft, whispering, “Yes, yes, yes,” into his lips.
“Eddie, can I-” Richie murmurs against him.
Eddie draws back and swipes a thumb under each of Richie’s eyes, brushing away his tears.
“Yes,” Eddie says again, beaming.
A fine-brushed platinum band, embedded with a row of small but perfect diamonds, juts out from a bed of black silk. Richie pulls the ring from its box and Eddie gives Richie his hand. It doesn’t shake. Eddie isn’t nervous at all. How can he be, he’s already given Richie everything else he has.
Richie slips the ring onto Eddie’s slim finger. Then he brings his hand to his mouth and kisses the knuckle above Eddie’s engagement ring.
Eddie tugs his hand from Richie, so he can hold it out away from them. It looks good.
“What d’you think?” Richie asks, wrapping an arm around Eddie’s waist and pulling him close.
“I think we should go to bed.”
“Eddie, it’s like five thirty. I thought we were getting pizza.”
“We can get pizza after, you beautiful fool. I want to blow my fiancé.”
Eddie gets them up from the floor, because his knees are already starting to hurt, and if his are, god help Richie’s. The dual incentive of Eddie’s mouth and Italian food helps hurry Richie to his feet, to the stairs, to their bed.
“Do you like it?” Richie asks later, when Eddie gets caught up for a moment, just looking at the ring on his finger, against the backdrop of the pale skin of Richie’s thigh.
“I do,” Eddie says. Richie’s eyebrows jump and he grins. Eddie smiles back and slides his hand up Richie’s body, wriggling his fingers until Richie takes the hint and laces their fingers together, ring warming where it’s pressed between them. Eddie, warm all over.