.

.

He doesn't remember who first suggested the card game.

Mike's basement is stuffy, enough to make Eddie's fingers unconsciously twitch and reach for his inhaler not there. He's given up the fanny pack since the beginning of freshmen year. There's clutter, piled up boxes and rugs, except for the middle of the floor where his friends gather together, chuckling and whispering.

Stan ignores the clear-colored, expensive vodka bottle passed around. Grumbling, Eddie snatches it from him, opening his lips to the rim.

Holy shit, it's fucking awful.

At the chugging mouthful of tasteless, burning vodka that leaves Eddie gasping for air, he feels Richie slap him playfully on the back. "Suck and Blow?" Richie's mouth lifts into a growing smirk. He leers in Eddie's direction, tilting his head. "Hey, uh, isn't that your mom's favorite game?"

Eddie winces through his teeth, passing the bottle to Mike.

"I—fucking swear to god, I will end you—" he mutters.

Beverly crawls between them, frowning, shoving her palms roughly into their faces until they settle down.

"Anyway," she interrupts, staring at Ben. "… We all gonna play or what?"

.

.

Rules are simple: You pass (1) one card around in a circle, from person to person. But not with your hands involved.

"That's why it's cah-called Suck and Blow," Bill explains, placing a Queen of Spades to his lips. He demonstrates by loudly sucking the object, his cheeks puffed, then releasing it with a blow of air. "Like that. Only you aren't ss-suh-supposed to drop the card when you pass it."

Stan makes a thoughtful noise, narrowing his eyes.

"What happens if you drop it?"

"You're supposed to take a shot of whatever you're drinking," Ben speaks up, now pointedly avoiding Beverly's smiling gaze. His cheeks reddening. "Or kiss someone."

Richie claps his hands, rubbing them together gleefully.

"That's good enough for me, el captain!"

"Be a little more creepy about it, Richie," Eddie says dully, switching positions with Bill who ends up on his left. Richie plops down on his opposite side, his faded, polyester shirt unbuttoned, sitting next to Eddie and jostling their elbows. It's only a split-second, but their bare skin meeting… it sends a thrum of heat right into Eddie's chest.

The other boy pfftts, dark brown eyes squinting behind his thick-rimmed glasses.

He lowers his voice for overly dramatic effect, staring into Eddie's face.

"C'mon, you know you want these lips…"

Eddie watches in mild, disbelieving fascination as the tip of Richie's tongue pokes between his lips. "Yeah, maybe you're right…" he whispers, internally cackling when Richie's arrogance slowly vanishes off his expression. Eddie then adds, feigning a sly, knowing look, "… … if they're caught in my lawnmower."

Somewhere in the background, a giggle erupts.

It yanks Eddie's attention back to Beverly and Ben at the other end of the circle, with a Two of Hearts card shielding their lips. "Kiddos, if you drop that on purpose—we'll know!" Richie howls out, smacking his knees. Ben turns an ugly shade of red, while Beverly flips off what she thinks is Richie's direction (Mike sighs, not taking offense).

Whether or not it was how nervous Ben appears, the card ends up floating onto the ground.

"Pucker up, buttercup!"

"Or you could take the vodka shot," Stan replies helpfully, leaning back on his hands.

Ben shakes his head, visibly flushing harder as Beverly's lips spread into a little, content grin. She pecks his lips quickly, affectionately, as their friends laugh and wolf-whistle. "It's your turn, assholes," Beverly announces, scooting backwards and observing as the card goes to Stan's mouth, his cheeks expanding with his breath.

He smoothly passes it to Mike, but unlike the other pair, his and Mike's hands tangle comfortably on the basement floor.

Eddie soon realizes—aw, fuck! Fucking fuck shit!

The card goes from a deeply concentrating Mike, and right to Richie's lips sucking hard against the papery card.

It's their turn.

"You can do it, Eddie!" Bill cheers, as the other boy yelps and frantically locks his hands behind him.

Oh god, oh god—wait!

He can practically feel his heart thudding in a maddening pace, up against his rib-cage, when Richie leans in. He nudges the card to Eddie's face, and to his dismay, Eddie feels his brain switch off and his entire body freeze on the spot. Wait, waitwaitwait, does he blow or does he suck—WHICH ONE IS IT AGAIN?

Richie's card flutters unceremoniously between them, landing on Eddie's knee.

A hush falls over.

Eddie doesn't bother sticking around for the commentary, bolting onto his feet and heading up the stairs. He starts wheezing once in the kitchen, planting a hand onto a stool for balance and clutching against his green-striped polo. Nobody follows him.

Fuck.

.

.

Mike's relatives are late.

His friends wander upstairs, in pairs, while Eddie lingers by the back-stoop, glancing over his shoulder. Bill raids the cabinets, shouting for where to find the glasses, while Ben and Mike and Stan hang out by the kitchen island's counter-top, talking animatedly about something Eddie cannot pick up on.

Thinking there are no eyes on them, Mike slips his fingers over Stan's dangling at his side, cradling and gripping on. They share a furtive, admiring look.

Eddie's chest gives a painful and longing twist. He inhales sharply.

Beverly and Richie lounge on twill sofa cushions, with Richie's feet piled up in her lap. He steals her unwrapped, bright green lollipop from Beverly's hand, popping it straight into his mouth, laughing out when Beverly curses and smacks Richie's flailing arm, attempting to reach for the lollipop's end.

Eddie stiffens up, turning back around.

The air is bitter-cold, nearly frosty. Lingering, radiant bits of sunlight disappear, melting into the golden-rose patches of clouds.

He thinks about pacing around, before a voice cuts into his reverie.

"Eds, there you are," Richie says, walking outside and smiling down on him. He presents out the lollipop. "Want any?"

It's covered in glistening, sticky saliva. Eddie wrinkles his nose.

"That's unsanitary," he mutters, looking ahead.

Richie shrugs, plopping down, stretching out his legs.

"… You doin' okay?"

A hint of concern rises in Richie's tone.

Eddie thins his mouth, bending in and clutching his hands around his ankles. "I didn't mean to—freak out—"

"With everything that's happened 'round here, yeah," Richie says dismissively, more solemnly than Eddie is used to hearing out of him. He slurps noisily around the lollipop jammed on the inside of his own cheek. "Freaking out isn't the strangest thing in Derry. I think we all know that."

"… Not supposed to talk about that," Eddie reminds him, not glancing up.

Not about the fucking clown, or the missing kids, or…

Richie nods.

"Okay," he announces, looking out of the corners of his eyes to Eddie before grinning big. "We could talk about the kiss you owe me?" Richie suggests teasingly, chuckling when Eddie's brows furrow and their eyes meet. A yellow-browning blotch of bruising runs along Richie's jaw and there's an old, crusty scab on his bottom lip.

There's a stain of infuriatingly candied green on the very insides of Richie's pale pink lips.

"Relax, Eds," he says at the noticeable, tensed silence. "I'm just funnin' with—"

For just a moment, Richie doesn't say or do anything, motionless to the sensation of Eddie's lips on his. The green tastes like sour apple, mingled with a touch of sweetness and smoke. It's likely Richie's cigarette from earlier, dark and ashy. Their noses brush, and Eddie pulls away, stammering and blinking rapidly.

"Shit—oh, oh shit, Richie—"

"Freak out later," Richie whispers, holding onto Eddie's shoulders and gleefully pressing their mouths together, clinking their front teeth.

.

.


IT 2017 is not mine. I participated in the IT Fandom Secret Santa this year on Tumblr and helped co-mod, and I actually had a great time. Everybody did great. I was assigned delicateloser on Tumblr, and who is such a big sweetheart! I hope you love this! Everybody else: I hope you do too! Thank you! Comments appreciated!