He’s sixteen when he realises he’s in love with
See, Richie has never been one for the idea of love. I mean, it’s kind of the assumption or
the expectation that he’s gonna get the fuck out of Derry one day and
find some girl and do whatever the hell he plans on doing with his life (he’s
always kind of liked the idea of working somewhere where his trashmouth and you’re
being too loud Richie personality isn’t such a freaking hindrance. Because,
really, he’s too loud for Derry).
When he thought of that girl he might
find, he never really saw a face. He never really got excited at the
prospect of meeting some curvy gal far away from the odd, shitty little town of
Derry, Maine. It had been a passing thought when Bill had stuttered out when
they were fifteen that he wanted to leave Derry and meet someone, because
everyone in their town was odd or terrible. Stan had nodded in
agreement, Mike had looked wistfully to the side, and Eddie had pulled one of
his wrinkled nose little faces from where he stood in the corner of Bill’s
basement, a copy of The Terminator held between his hands. Ben, their chubby
friend, had left Derry a year before. Bev, of course, had left after It. Sometimes….
sometimes Richie forgot what It even was. A mess of colour and blood and
screams and Eddie’s face held between his shaking hands.
Richie hadn’t thought much on love since
then. He was sixteen suddenly, then, and knee deep in High School homework and
cigarettes and the taste of cheap beer on his tongue. Because, fuck off would
he ever touch vodka, whiskey or gin. It reminded him too much of pressing his
hands against his sleeping mother’s cheeks and feeling her warm, spirit stinking
breath brush across his fingertips as he wondered how she was still alive.
He sometimes used to blame his parents
for his indifference toward love.
Anyway, shit, we’re going off track.
He’s sixteen and it’s a Friday and he’s
Richie Tozier so of course he’s going to sneak some of his dad’s beers
and hunt down his friends. Thing is, with a call to each of his shitty friends’
houses, he finds out that Bill is out on a date with Sally Smithers, Mike didn’t
even bother answering his house phone, Stan is doing homework (fuckin’ homework)
and, of course, Bev Marsh is long gone and has forgotten all about them (he
sometimes thinks it’s weird, that she never calls and forgot so easily, because
Bev loved them and they loved Bev).
He isn’t disappointed. Not really. He
quite likes spending time with just Eddie. And, though Richie forces his voice
to remain flippant when Ed’s smartlyannounces he’s free for the
evening after Richie informs the boy who’s voice was still breaking that the
others are busy, he’s secretly pleased when Eddie insists they go to Richie’s
house, because Eddie’s mom is having one of her paranoid episodes and insisting
he’s getting unwell again.
‘She’s threatening to take me to the
Doctor early tomorrow. Says I have the flu’. There’s a tiredness in
Eddie’s voice that Richie clenches his fists at. Though he stood up to his
mother far more, Eddie Kaspbrak still found it hard to understand what was lie
and truth when it came to his Ma, and Richie hated her for doing that to him.
Richie frowns and presses the plastic
phone closer to his face, a sneaky smile rounding his cheeks. He looks down the
hallway and into the sitting room, where he can see his Ma lounging in an
armchair with the television flickering in front of her. Dad was working late.
Again. ‘You don’t sound like you have the flu, Eddie Spaghetti’.
‘That’s because I don’t, dipshit’.
Richie grins and slams the phone down
before yelling to his Ma that Eddie was coming round. She doesn’t answer, but
Richie knows this doesn’t mean she hasn’t heard him. She just generally ignores
him most of the time. He’s excited, he realises, as he stomps up the stairs in
his thick black socks, ratty blue jeans and a busy button up shirt. Fingering
his glasses up his long nose, he kicks open his bedroom door and glances in the
mirror, noting how unruly his mass of dark hair was.
Pointedly, he stops amidst his clothes
strewn floor and ruffles his hair even more. That would annoy Ed’s to no
end. He would constantly remind Richie that he looked like, as the Kaspbrak
shit said, a dumpster diver.
Richie wonders why the fuck he even
He doesn’t worry too much about the
mess of his room, nor the fact that his Ma was passed out on the armchair
downstairs, watching some shitty soap opera with a half empty bottle of some
cheap, supermarket vodka sitting on the carpet by her feet. Eddie, out of what
remained of their Loser’s Club, was the one Richie would trust not to judge
him. Sure, Stan had an overbearing dad, Bill had mourning, fucked up parents
after what happened to Georgie (what happened again? Oh, the murders, the
deaths, the fucked-up laughter that echoed around the tunnels like a gun going
off), and Mike…well, Mike didn’t even have a mom and dad. Eddie,
though, got what it was like to have a shitty mom. He had a truly fucked up,
overbearing mother who made Richie’s blood boil when he thought of how much she
had screwed up wide eyed and dark-haired Eddie Kaspbrak.
Eh. Screwed up or not, it was no secret
Richie preferred Eddie out of all their friends. He didn’t really bother hiding
it at all.
It takes only five minutes for the squeaking
of brakes to sound outside of Richie’s house, and with one quick look out of
his window he sees the shadow of a small form parking their bike next to his
driveway. When glistening, large eyes look up at his window, Richie flips them
the bird and grins before darting away.
It takes him only fifteen seconds to
reach his front door, slam it open and beam wickedly down at the frowning and
sighing Eddie Kaspbrak.
‘Took you fuckin’ long enough,’ Richie
greets him, stepping aside as Eddie meanders in, carefully toeing off his
clean, white trainers and revealing bright red socks pulled just above his
ankles. He’s wearing light blue shorts and a black polo shirt with that fucking
fanny pack, and Richie thinks for the thousandth time in his life that
Eddie was just fuckin’ precious.
‘I left as soon as you called, dick,’
Eddie replies evenly, bending down to place his shoes neatly by the door amidst
the mess of Richie’s, his Ma’s and his Pa’s shoes. For some reason, Richie eyes
the neat, dark curls that rest at the base of Eddie’s neck, and thanks the
stars that Eddie had allowed this small bit of rebellion against his psychotic
mother. Although his hair was still immaculately kept, Richie couldn’t help but
appreciate how longer hair suited the pale boy.
Richie blinks. Richie wonders why the
fuck he just thought that. Richie moves swiftly along and grins yet again. ‘C’mon
then, Eds. Up we go’. He doesn’t miss the way Eddie’s wide brown eyes flicker
toward the dimly lit sitting room, before settling back on Richie’s face. It
was always like this. Always the concern. Richie sighs. ‘She’s fine. Come
He speeds up the stairs and Eddie
follows, his feet padding softly after Richie’s loud steps. There is the usual
sigh and tut as Eddie enters Richie’s room, to which Richie snorts and asks
Eddie if he’d ask his Ma to come over and clean Richie’s room for him. ‘I’ll
pay her good,’ he says, winking and snorting. ‘By that, I mean-’
Eddie grimaces and winkles his nose and
pulls that prissy fucking face that always has Richie wanting to grab his
cheeks and bop his nose. ‘God, you’re so gross-’
‘Bill’s on a date with Sally
Smithers,’ Richie cuts across, throwing himself onto his desk chair as
Eddie settles onto the edge of Richie’s bed, eyeing the clothes strewn across
is distastefully. The sight of Eddie with his bare knees pressed tightly
together and his hands clasped tightly between them has a smile twitching at
his mouth. He’s just so cute.
‘I know. He told us today at school he
was seeing her,’ Eddie replies, toes wiggling in his socks. ‘After Gym. After
‘He did?’ Richie asks because, shit, he
was barely even listening. He was too busy glaring daggers at the shits who
were making fun of Eddie tiny frame as the boys showered away the sweat of Gym.
Funny thing was, it was the freaking AV geeks who were doing it, and Richie
could safely say they had no right making fun of other people’s looks.
Little shits. Especially Eddie’s look, because Eddie was like a…a
fucking pretty snowflake, or something.‘Oh. I’d rather spend
time with my Ed’s, anyway’.
Eddie colours at that and Richie grins.
He freaking loved making Eddie blush. It happened more and more since
they were kids, since the world tilted and shit hit the fan.
‘You want a beer?’ he says, because it’s
almost like a ritual now. It wasn’t uncommon for Eddie to come to Richie’s when
the others were busy, and it wasn’t uncommon for Richie to offer him a drink.
It also wasn’t uncommon for Eddie to
reply, ‘Do you know how disgusting that shit is? The calories, the taste – it
tastes like piss, Richie-’
‘How do you know what piss tastes like,
‘Beep beep, Richie. And don’t call
me Eds! I hate that!’
Richie snorts and reaches behind him
and into his open draw, pulling out a can of cheap beer and cracking the cap.
It smells like it tastes. Bitter and sweet at the same time and just a little
bit gross. ‘Fuckin’ liar’.
Eddie shakes his head and clenches his
hands in his lap, his eyes dipping to the floor and a splash of pink spreading
up his neck. Richie watches like a man starved of the sight as he brings the
can to his lips and takes a deep swig, dark eyes on Eddie’s pale skin flushed rosy.
‘You shouldn’t drink that,’ Eddie says, looking up to meet Richie’s gaze. ‘It’s
bad for you’.
‘I know that,’ Richie says, and
it comes out sharper than he intends it to. He hates it when his friends say
shit about drinking in front of him, because he knows better than anyone how
bad the shit can be for you. It’s fucking hypercritical, anyway. If there’s
some party, or when anyone is drinking down by the Barrens, then they
don’t care about drinking. Then it’s okay for Richie to get battered and
dance to Africa by Toto because, really, that song was fucking great.
Once, Eddie actually got a little tipsy and danced with him, too.
So what if he likes to drink at the
weekends? It’s the freaking weekend.
‘I know you do, Richie,’ says Eddie,
and it’s soft and not teasing at all and Richie stops drinking and stares at
him, swallowing the beer tightly. Eddie is sitting on the edge of his bed,
ankles crossed and pale legs bare and wide brown eyes looking dead at Richie, opening
his mouth as if to speak again.
Richie blurts out the first thing he
can think of, because Eddie’s eyes on him are making him itchy and uncomfortable
and he somehow feels like a piece of trash next to a fucking bottle of bleach,
because Eddie is clean and perfect and Richie is not. ‘Why the fuck do you
care, Eddie Spaghetti?’
Eddie stalls and colours and glares furiously
at Richie, his Adams Apple bobbing as he looks pointedly to the wall across the
room. ‘You’re such a fuckin’ dick, Richie’. A pause in which Richie opens his
mouth to retaliate with some grinning, smart-ass remark, but then Eddie says, ‘Why
the fuck do you care about what those dicks at school say about me and
how I look, or how my mom is, huh?’
Richie breathes in.
The answer arrives his head like it has
always been there, but nobody had ever bothered to ask the question. Why
was it that Richie Tozier always slung his arm around Eddie Kaspbrak’s shoulders
when their group met after school, but no one else’s? Why was it that he
watched closely when Eddie breathed too heavily in Gym, because even though his
breathing problems were bullshit, Richie knew it still scared Eddie? Why was it
he kept a spare inhaler in his messy back-pack, and had flipped Stan off when
the other boy had found out? Why was it that he hadn’t called Bill, or Stan, or
Mike at all tonight, but had convinced himself that his friends would be
busy with the things that usually took up their lives, rather than just ask?
Hell, Bill had been on a date. Maybe Richie had been listening after
all. Still, he knows. He wanted Eddie all to himself.
Richie breathes out.
So, Richie blinks and Eddie blinks
back, because it’s been nearly a full minute and Richie hasn’t answered, and no
one had ever rendered him freaking speechless before. Eddie is
starting to look nervous, as if he is actually worried such a simple question
might have broken the trashmouth Tozier.
‘Shit,’ says Richie, cradling the tin
can in his hands and blinking behind his jam-jar glasses at the bewildered
looking Eddie. He kicks his legs out in front of him and pushes his glasses up
the bridge of his nose. ‘I think it’s because I’m in love with you, Eds’.
He honestly sees Eddie’s breath
It takes a moment for the smile to
spread across Eddie’s face, and Richie is quite sure that smile could kick the
mother-fucking suns ass. Suddenly, he’s half-smiling too. He’s placing
the beer hastily on the side and it’s sloshing over his comic-strewn desk, but
he doesn’t care because Eddie Kaspbrak is stumbling across the room and
planting his mouth hastily against Richie’s, and it is fucking great.
Understatement. It is fucking
When he pulls away, Eddie is
practically sitting on his lap with his hands placed on Richie’s shoulders, and
Richie is holding Eddie by the waist and Eddie is smiling with the least
threatening glare Richie has ever seen (because Richie has seen Eddie’s
threatening glare, and it is fucking terrifying. Do not underestimate
him, because Richie has seen him fuck up something they call It when
they were just thirteen)and he is sighing and tugging at Richie’s mop
of hair and telling him, ‘About time, you fuckin’ trashmouth. Bill was about ready
to smack you if you took any longer’.
Richie nods and agrees because, shit,
how had it taken him so long?
Stan checked the red illuminated numbers of his watch, the bright LED lights hurt his tired eyes.
Stan groaned as he shifted slightly in Richie’s bed, trying not to wake the sleeping figure next to him - who was currently splayed out like a starfish, forcing Stan to grapple onto the edge of the bed before he was pushed into the mountain of dirty clothes and comic books which was Richie Tozier’s bedroom floor. Stan couldn’t sleep. Normally he was asleep in his pristine white bed by ten o’clock, but not tonight, because tonight he wasn’t sleeping in his familiar abode - he was bunking with a hoarder.
Stan was exhausted - the soft glow of the stars peering through Richie’s half-closed curtains were burning his eyes, feeling as though the moon is mocking him for the restless night. Stan had never had difficulty sleeping with one of the Loser’s before. Eddie’s room was always fairly clean anyway but Bill always spent the day before hosting a sleepover cleaning the house if he knew Stan was attending. Stan wasn’t as bad anymore, he takes his medication and he can deal with small things like Bill’s posters being slightly lopsided, or Eddie’s pill bottles being arranged alphabetically instead of by size, or even the way Richie’s glasses were never quite sitting on his face right. Stan suspected he had sat on them and never bothered to get them fixed.