Scorpion Grasses

Author's Note: So this has been sitting in my drafts since the end of 2015, and with all the It hype surrounding the new movie I'm finally close to finishing it! My initial goal was to post this as a one-shot before the movie came out, but I'm not making great time on it so I'm splitting it into two parts. The next part will hopefully be out soon, maybe before the movie, but probably a little after.

Anyway, important thing to note, this is primarily novel verse. I mention that because I know in the new movie Richie's mom is an alcoholic and I would have handled the teen drinking much differently had I been going with that version.

And I say primarily novel because I messed us some details, such as Bill canonically moving away before Richie does. Oops. I also think the way I address the kids forgetting things isn't necessarily as cannon as it could be. But hopefully y'all can forgive me on those points and enjoy this!

Let me know what you think!

Beverly laughed as she and Richie fell down into soft grass, the light of the moon reflecting off of Richie's Coke bottle glasses.

"I can't believe you talked me into this," Beverly said as she rolled over to face Richie.

"Naw, Miss Scarlett, you didn't seem to need too much convincing," Richie pointed out as he reached over and ran a hand over the top of Beverly's red hair.

The two thirteen year olds were lying drunk about halfway down Jackson Street in a patch of green grass. Tomorrow morning Richie and his family would be packing up and leaving Derry, so to give himself a proper sendoff Richie had lifted a bottle of wine.

Richie had hoped all of his friends in Derry could drink it with him, but as it turned out it hadn't been an option due to varying circumstances. Actually Beverly shouldn't even be with him, if her father caught her she'd pay for it, but she hadn't been able to bear the idea of Richie spending his last night alone.

"I hate that everyone isn't with us." Beverly didn't have to say who everyone was. Richie knew.

"I think you're just missing your boyfriends," Richie teased, if for no other reason than to avoid the ache creeping up in his heart.

Beverly clumsily managed to reach over and punch Richie's arm. "Shut up."

"Ow! Why do you hurt me so, Bevie!" Richie cried as he flailed around in the grass dramatically.

"Beep beep, Richie!" Beverly called, but the laughter surrounding the words only encouraged him.

Eventually he quieted and her laughter died down as they lie looking up at the moon.

"I really don't know what to do with Bill and Ben," Beverly admitted after they'd been quiet for awhile.

"Give 'em up. Run away with me. Anywhere you want, Miss Scarlett," Richie suggested as he threw an arm around her middle.

Beverly smiled before kissing his cheek. "I don't know where I'd want to go."

"I'd want to travel the country. Go to all of the best rock concerts," Richie said confidently.

"I bet you will someday," Beverly told him as she scooted closer.

"I wish you guys could be with me," Richie confessed, the ache in his heart coming back.

"We're just a letter or phone call away," Beverly reminded him, although there was a part of him that doubted that.

He thought of Stan Uris who had moved last summer. Of how none of them had heard from him even once. He couldn't believe Stan just didn't want to talk to them. Somehow he knew there was a reason for it. And there was a part of him that was prepared to never talk to his best friends again even though the thought pained him.

But he didn't tell Beverly this.

"I know," he said no more than that. And that was probably what prompted Beverly to say something that would get him talking.

"I really couldn't live with myself if I hurt either of them. Ben or Bill."

"Aw, lassie, they like you too much to be hurt. They know that'd hurt you," Richie said in a Scottish accent that was messed up more than usual as Richie's words slurred together.

Still, Beverly laughed, maybe even laughing more because of it.

Once she had quieted, she turned gently to Richie, a smile on her face. "What about you, Richie? Do you like any girls?"

"I say, and I say only the truth, you're the only girl for me, Red. If I can't have you, I shant have none of 'em!" Richie's accents ran together as he made his declaration.

"You're so full of it, Richie!" Beverly cackled as she pushed against his arm.

Richie laughed with her, but even as he did so, his mind wondered to the boy who was on his mind just as often as Beverly was on the mind of Ben or Bill.

Richie's feelings for Eddie had changed over the last couple of years, bending and twisting slowly until just the sight of Eddie had every voice in Richie's head speaking at once, trying to be the one chosen to get the shorter boy's attention.

At first Richie had brushed off the change. Wanting Eddie's attention so bad hadn't seemed so strange in the grand scheme of things that had happened in his life. First off, Richie was always gunning for attention. You didn't become a man with a thousand voices if you didn't want people to listen to you. And then there was finding out that Stan, his first best friend, was moving. So of course he had wanted to fill up that gap.

So the sudden urge to spend so much time with Eddie hadn't concerned him. Nope, hadn't concerned him a bit until he'd started noticing him physically. And even then he'd tried to write it off. So what if when he called Eddie cute, he'd started to linger on the thought? Started to think about how he kind of liked the way Eddie's hair looked when he ran a hand through it just to mess it up. How Eddie's eyes were really brown, and really big, and always really bright when he was laughing at something Richie had said. How Eddie fit kinda nice under his arm when they were walking or watching movies at the Aladdin Theater.

Yeah, he'd tried real hard to convince himself that those thoughts were normal. That his thoughts couldn't be too queer if he still thought girls were pretty.

And that was the thing- Richie really did think girls were pretty.

But he didn't want to mess up there hair like he did Eddie's, and he didn't want to make them laugh just to see their eyes light up, and he didn't care about how they'd fit under his arm.

He wasn't falling in love with them.

But you bet your fur, he was falling damn hard for Eddie Kaspbrak.

He'd finally accepted that, at least in his head. He knew better than to ever act on it. He already had a face that tempted people to punch him, he didn't need to give them a reason to kill him.

As the teens laughter died down Beverly looked over at Richie, a look of sincerity on her face that was probably brought on by the finality of their situation and a fair amount of alcohol. "Someone is going to be so lucky to have you someday, Richie."

Richie smiled, but it was a painful smile. The kind that came when you were in danger of spilling your guts about how sad you really were. Because he couldn't stop himself from thinking about how that someone could never be Eddie, even if he wasn't leaving Derry.

Sometimes Richie told himself he could never be with Eddie because the other boy didn't like him that way. Why would he? Richie was a four-eyed freak who annoyed anyone who sat with him in a room for too long, and that was before taking his genitals into consideration.

But that was the easy reason.

The harder reason involved looking at the facts.

It meant noticing how Eddie always sat next to him at the movies, listening to his commentary and letting Richie's arm rest over his shoulders. It was feeling the way their hands 'accidently' bumped and kicking each other's legs teasingly as they read the same funny-book. It was listening to Eddie sing Richie's favorite rock songs under his breath a day after they'd listened to them on the radio together.

It was realizing that Eddie just might love him too, and yet still knowing that telling him would be the cruelest thing he could ever do to him.

Because they could never really be together even if they wanted to. It would always have to be a secret, something to hide and be ashamed of. And Richie didn't want to be ashamed.

Especially not when it was easy for Richie to hide his feelings in plain sight. To tease Eddie constantly, pinching his cheeks and sometimes even kissing them. And even though that sometimes didn't feel like enough, like when he was lying up at night wondering if Eddie's lips would feel as soft as his cheeks always did, he knew he was lucky to have it. To get away with it.

Richie knew when he got called a faggot at school, no one actually meant that they thought he was queer. They thought he was annoying and weird, but not queer. Richie was over-the-top and always doing something strange, so he could call another guy cute and pinch his cheeks and no one thought too deeply about it. That was lucky.

Eddie wasn't as lucky. When the people called him a girlyboy, a queer, a fucking fairy, they were just waiting for the sign. The final nail in the coffin that would show without a doubt that, yes, Eddie Kaspbrak was a flaming homosexual. So Eddie was careful. Eddie yelled at him and pushed him away when he was too close. Eddie refused to let anyone outside of the losers see him enjoying the closeness of another male.

But still, sometimes Richie saw it. Even when Eddie was trying to hide it from him, he still saw bits and pieces of it.

To tell Eddie he loved him- it could lead to the end. A single slip-up and everything could go wrong.

So Richie did nothing. Because sometimes the kindest thing you can do for someone you love is to eat it. To stuff your feelings down deep and never say them out loud, even though your heart is beating in your chest like a drum in a rock song.

"Yeah, Bevvie, someone's going to be lucky to have you, too," Richie said instead of slurring out the bubbling love confession he'd had shoved down his throat for months.

Bev moved to hold his hand then, and Richie laced their fingers together easily. He wondered what his life would be like if he'd fallen in love with Beverly instead. He wondered if leaving would still hurt so much.

He wondered how it would feel to be lying in the grass holding Eds' hand.

"I have to go home soon," Beverly said sadly, staring up at the almost full moon, not meeting Richie's moist eyes with her own.

"I'll walk the lady," Richie said in his mobster voice, a voice that needed work on its best days and was even worse with the influence of alcohol.

Making it to Beverly's house was a feat, but luckily it was one filled with as much laughter as disaster. Upon standing up, the alcohol had suddenly felt even stronger and the two teens had had to cling to each other to keep from falling down every few steps. They'd only made it halfway to Beverly's street when they'd had to stop so she could puke, and Richie had barely managed to keep his own bile down upon smelling hers. But somehow they had made it to the yard across the street from Beverly's house, and standing facing each other was sobering them up as much as anything could sober up two thirteen year olds in their condition.

"I'm gonna miss you so much, Richie." Beverly wrapped her arms around Richie, squeezing him tightly, tears running onto his shoulder.

"Now don't cry missus' I says, don't cry! Nobody looks lovely when they cry, crumpet!" Richie cooed in a voice that couldn't decide if it was an old Scottish woman or an old British man.

"Beep beep, Richie," Beverly managed between tears.

Finally Richie let out a shaky noise. "Fuck, I know, Bevvie." And then they cried together, holding each other tight enough to leave bruises.

When they pulled away, they each wiped their own tears, and then took a step back from each other that was both painful and necessary.

"Promise you'll write, Richie." Beverly all but demanded.

Richie smiled tightly as he thought of Stan and of the letters he'd never received. "I'll write you as many as I can," Richie said, hoping that he would be able to send even one. "Tell everyone… Tell everyone I'll miss them. And Eds, tell him… Just promise to call him Eds for me every once in a while. So he won't forget me."

Beverly gave him a weird smile that he didn't have time to analyze before she burst into laughter. "No one could ever forget you Trashmouth. None of us. Even if we wanted to."

"I love you, Bevvie," Richie said, alcohol pulling words from the edge of his tongue.

"I love you too, Richie," Beverly said before taking a deep breath. "But I have to go now before I really do run away with you."

"That offer always stands," Richie told her before motioning her off toward her door.

He watched her stumble across the street and then turn graceful as soon as she hit the dead grass around her building. She entered quietly, and when no lights came on and no screaming was heard, Richie took off back to his house, suddenly feeling alone for the first time since that summer when they'd all come together.