i want to hold your hand
it was around the midpoint of their sophomore year of high school when stan began to notice bill in a different light. he began to notice how his eyes seemed to change color when sunlight reflected off of them; how he would smile endearingly when any of the losers, though mostly richie, did something stupid; how his stutter had gotten so much better, only getting really bad when he had to present in front of a group or if he was nervous. he also noticed a change in his reactions to bill. his heart would skip a beat when he smiled and how he would blush whenever bill touched him.
then stan began to notice how much time bill spent with beverly. he didn’t think much about it at first because bill is nice to everyone, but then stan noticed that bill looked at her like he looked at bill. he didn’t let himself dwell on the subject, but it’s hard to ignore the sting in his chest whenever bill talks to or about her.
school had just ended and he was talking with bill in the building’s main entrance. he listened attentively has bill talked animatedly about a new TV show he’d discovered that stan hadn’t heard of.
“y-you really sh-should- oh, h-hey! bev!” bill cut himself off in favor of calling out to their friend.
stan felt a pang of jealousy in his chest. beverly approached the pair and sat down next to bill, smiling wide, unaware that stan wished she was anywhere but here. he then mentally cursed at himself for being so irrational. it wasn’t beverly’s fault.
bill started to direct the conversation toward beverly. stan resisted the urge to roll his eyes and grabbed his things, standing up.
“where are you going, stan?” beverly asked and stan wished she hadn’t said anything.
bill looked at him curiously and stan looked away.
“i forgot i have to ask richie about something,” he said, turning toward the courtyard. “i’ll see you guys later,” he added quickly.
he didn’t wait for a response before he headed out to the courtyard, hoping richie was still where he saw him last. he sighed in relief when he saw the familiar mop of black hair.
richie was leaning against the brick wall of the school, and as stan got closer, he noticed he was leaning over someone. stan didn’t even have to look twice to know it was eddie. everyone, expect the short brunt, knew that richie had a major crush on him. and everyone, except the trashmouth, knew eddie liked him right back.
“oh, come on, eds!” he heard richie tease as he approached the pair.
“absolutely not. i’m never going anywhere alone with you. who knows what kind of trouble you’d get me in to!” eddie hissed.
richie just laughed and seemed to just now notice stan. “stanley! what brings you out here?”
“i need to talk to you.”
“what’s up?” richie asked, suddenly taking on a more serious demeanor.
stan glanced at eddie. “alone.”
richie nodded and grabbed his backpack. he gave eddie a pinch on the cheek before walking off with stan.
“see you later, eds!” he called out as they headed out of the courtyard, blowing eddie a kiss.
“don’t call me eds!”
the two boys approached the bike rack and richie took the cigarette that was tucked behind his ear and lit it. stan smiled to himself. he knew richie never smoked around eddie because it irritated his lungs despite his asthma being a lie. he took a drag and looked at stan.
“so, stan the man,” he began. “what’s on your mind?”
“you are not allowed to tell anyone this, okay, richie? i trust you, but this includes eddie.”
richie held up his hand. “you have my word. scout’s honor.”
stan rolled his eyes but knew he was being truthful. “i have a crush on bill,” he admitted.
“whoa, hold on! stanley?! having feelings?!” the trashmouth exclaimed.
“beep beep, richie.”
“this is truly a once in a lifetime moment! hang on, i need to document this.”
richie pulled his phone out of his back pocket and threw his arm around stan’s neck, snapping a photo of stan’s annoyed face and richie’s big smile.
“richie, i’m serious.”
he laughed. “i’m serious, too, stanley. but in all seriousness, you should ask him out! bill’s a good looking guy and i wouldn’t be surprised if someone beats you to it!”
richie ignored the nagging thought in the back of his mind: bill has a crush on beverly. he didn’t want to hurt his friend.
“don’t let eddie hear you say that,” stan teased.
the trashmouth laughed and put out his cigarette. he unlocked his bike and climbed on. “c’mon, stan the man. i’ll race you to the barrens.”
stan was only slightly panicking as he walked into courtyard after school ended. last night he’d given what richie said a lot of thought and after many hours of panicking and thinking, he decided that he’d ask bill out. he scanned the area for bill, spotting him by himself at a table toward the back. stan took a deep breath and approached the table.
“h-hey, stan,” bill said with a smile as he sat down.
“hey, bill,” stan returned, feeling a bit more nervous. “i, uh, i wanted to ask you something.”
“m-me too,” bill said, looking up to meet stan’s eyes.
stan felt his face warm up and his heart beat faster. endless possibilities were running through his head on what bill wanted to say.
“okay, you first then.”
bill smiled again. “i w-want to ask out beverly. i-i really like h-her b-but i don’t kn-know what t-t-to say to her. a-and it’s not like i’m going t-to ask r-richie for help and th-the rest of the l-losers probably wouldn’t be much help, well except m-maybe ben. and so i decided t-t-to ask you for help.”
stan stopped listening as soon as beverly was mentioned. it felt like he just got hit by a freight train. his heart twisted painfully as bill looked at him expectantly.
he ignored him his and stood up, rushing off to find richie and ignoring bill’s shouts. his nails dug in to the palm of his hands as he fought off the urge to cry.
“stan? are you okay?”
his head snapped up. beverly looked genuinely concerned and that just made him even more upset. he pushed past her, accidentally knocking into her should, but he didn’t apologize. stan regretted it as soon at it happened but he was too hurt, and angry, and upset to care.
stan pushed the main entrance doors open. he spotted richie by the bike racks, except he wasn’t alone. he was with eddie. and they were kissing.
he stared at them for a second. he felt a bitter pang of envy for the pair. stan cleared his throat and they broke apart, richie grinning while eddie’s face was bright red.
“hiya, stanley,” richie said, still grinning wide, obviously giddy from the kiss.
eddie looked at him with concern. “stan, are you okay? you look like you’re about to cry.”
“bill likes beverly,” he muttered simply. “i was going to ask him but then he asked me how he should ask her out.”
richie looked guilty. eddie looked between his friends, utterly confused. stan picked up instantly and glared at the taller of the two.
“you knew! you asshole, you fucking knew and you told me to ask him out anyway! why didn’t you just tell me yourself! it would’ve saved me a lot of trouble,” stan snapped harshly.
richie recoiled slightly. eddie looked from his boyfriend to his friend, still confused but a bit irritated that stan was treating richie like this.
“stan, calm down.”
“do not tell me to calm down. this isn’t any of your business anyway,” stan growled.
he regretted the words instantly upon seeing the hurt look on eddie’s face.
“fuck, i’m sorry, eddie,” he apologized. he grabbed his bike from the rack. “i’m going home. if bill asks why i left, don’t tell him a thing.”
stan sat with ben in the library, silently reading a book he’d found earlier.
“are you and bill fighting?” ben asked finally.
stan looked up from his book. “what makes you think that?”
the other boy sighed. “well, you don’t seem to want to do anything when bill, bev, and richie are going to be around. i understand richie, but not so much bev and bill. and you’re closer to bill so i just assumed.”
stan placed his bookmark in the book and closed it.
“i like bill. a lot. i was going to ask him out but before i could he asked me advice on how to ask out beverly,” stan confessed. “i think i’m in love with him,” he choked up.
ben gave him a sympathetic smile. “i kind of figured. if i’m being honest, i always thought he liked you too. i’m really sorry, stanley.” he was quiet for a second. “i understand how you feel, though. i’m in love with beverly.”
stan returned his smile.
bill knew he wasn’t acting the same for the past week. he hadn’t seen stan since he asked him for advice on beverly. bill didn’t know what he did wrong but the look on stan’s face made his heart clench. he’d looked so hurt. he missed stan. he missed seeing him and talking to him and just being with him.
stan didn’t come hang out with them at the barrens again today and bill would be lying if he said he wasn’t upset. the other losers had left, leaving him and beverly alone.
“i-i can walk y-you home,” he offered.
beverly smiled and followed him back up the path to the main road. they walked in silence. bill glanced at beverly quickly.
“h-hey, bev? u-uh, can i ask you something?” bill asked.
beverly looked at the stuttering boy beside her. “sure, bill. what’s up?”
bill took a deep breath and looked at her. “i w-was wondering i-if you want to go…..o-out……with….m-me,” he trailed off, words becoming softer, as he spotted stan walking in their direction.
they made eye contact and stanley immediately turned around, causing a stabbing pain in bill’s heart.
“i'm sorry, bill, but i only thing of you as a friend.” beverly glanced from bill to stan and sighed. “bill, how did it feel when stan started to avoid you?”
bill snapped back in to reality, a bit confused by her question. “u-uh, it hurt a lot. i missed h-hanging out with h-him and i-i don’t even kn-know why he was avoiding m-me. if i knew, i-i’d do something t-to change it.”
“how do you feel about stanley?”
“i like b-being around him and t-talking to him. i like seeing h-him everyday and being the first p-person to know a-anything happening in h-his life. i like h-how excited he g-gets when we-we’re out in the b-barrens and he spots a-a bird he h-hadn’t seen yet. i like l-listening to him when he t-tells me about n-new books he’s read. i like…him.”
beverly raised an eyebrow as bill came to the realization that he was in love with his best friend.
“bev, i-i like him. i-i love him.”
beverly laughed. “well what’re you waiting for! go after him!”
she pushed him forward and bill took off running in the direction stan had been walking. after what seemed like hours, he finally saw stan’s figure in the distance.
“stan!” he shouted, running toward his friend.
stan froze and turned around, mildly intimidated by bill running right at him. bill finally caught up to him and stopped to catch his breath. stanley moved to rush off but bill grabbed him by the wrist.
“i-i have to tell you s-s-something.”
stan yanked his hand away and crossed his arms expectantly.
“sh-she said n-no,” bill began. “i'm s-sorry i-i didn’t re-realize before. bev's g-great and all but w-who i really w-wanted was you.”
stan looked furious. “oh, so now i’m a consolation?! i don’t want your fucking pity, bill.”
bill looked hurt, and stan regretted snapping at him.
“you’re not a consolation. you never could be. i was just too stupid to realize i like you. i like your sense of humor, your wit, your smarts. i like how you get excited over little things and i like how honest you are. i love you, stanley uris. i love you so goddamn much.”
stan was shocked. bill didn’t stutter once. bill looked at him nervously. he was about to say something when he felt stan’s lips crash against his.
they broke apart and stan grinned. “you’re an idiot, bill denbrough. i love you, too.”
bill smiled back. he kissed stan again, lacing their fingers together. they laughed as they pulled away.
“come on,” bill said quietly. “let me walk you home.”
stan laughed as bill pulled him forward. they walked side by side, hand in hand, laughing and smiling the whole way there.