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Sleeping Arrangements

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“What are you doing?” Ed asks, sounding on the edge of sleep but still curious.

Stede starts at Ed’s question. He’s not used to his bed partner asking questions after—

After exchanging enthusiastic and clumsy and heated hand jobs where Stede came embarrassingly quickly and he still feels the flush of pleasure thrumming inside of him.

He glances at down at his stomach and thighs, where he’s been using a rag to clean the come off of him—Ed’s as well as his own, and that sends another frisson of excitement down his spine. “Cleaning up,” he replies, looking over his shoulder.

Ed’s sprawled out on the bed, naked and sweaty and Stede wants to touch him everywhere. Ed’s still got the telltale white splashes on his own stomach, drying on a trail of black and grey hairs. “Clean up what?” 

Stede turns around further, gesturing at himself with the rag. “You know, the ejaculate?” 

Ed frowns at him.

“It gets all sticky if you don’t clean it off,” Stede continues, cleaning the last remains off his inner thigh. He throws the rag at Ed, watching it land on his chest, and Stede gets up to grab his nightgown. “Best to get rid of it immediately.” He learned that at a young age. You clean up after yourself, you don’t leave a mess, especially not on clothing where anyone can find evidence of what you’ve done. 

“Huh.” Ed sounds surprised. “Sounds like a killjoy, going straight to cleaning.” 

Stede hears him shift on the bed, and he’s not surprised Ed doesn’t see the point of it. “Well, it’s no fun waking up with dried-up ejaculate either, let me tell you that.” He pulls the nightgown over his head. 

“True, but that doesn’t mean you have to clean it with a rag. There’s more fun ways.” 

Stede smiles as he follows Ed’s train of thought. “We can do that next time.” He turns to look at Ed, who has made a half-hearted attempt to clean himself up. “If you like?” 

“Sure. Yeah.” Ed looks him up and down. “Why are you getting dressed?” 

“Oh, this is for sleeping in.” Stede lies back down on the bed, making sure he’s not touching Ed’s sprawling limbs. 

“You have clothes just for sleeping in?”

“Yes.” Stede turns his head to glance at Ed. “Why, do you usually sleep naked?” Something about going to sleep next to a naked Ed makes heat blossom inside him again, but then he’s accepted that pretty much everything Ed does makes him feel hot and flustered all over. 

Ed scoffs. “Of course not. What if we’re attacked in the middle of night? I sleep in my clothes, ready for battle.” He pauses for a moment. “Although if someone attacked me and I was naked, they’d definitely be taken off-guard. I’d have the advantage.” 

“Well, you’re welcome to sleep naked on the Revenge,” Stede assures him, smiling. 

“I already have the advantage with you.” Ed shifts on the sheets, sighing happily. 

Stede watches as Ed closes his eyes, a soft smile on his face, and wonders how long it’s been since Ed has been this relaxed. He rolls onto his side, his back to Ed, closing his eyes and waiting for sleep to come to him. It’s a little awkward, lying so close to the edge again. He finally got used to having the bed to himself after years of awkward sharing with Mary.

“Why’re you all the way over there?” 

“Where else should I be?” He hears Ed pat the sheets, and he turns his head to see what Ed is doing. He raises his eyebrows when Ed pats the space next to him. “There?” 

“Yeah?” Ed gestures for him to come over. “You’re not sleeping all the way over there. Come here.” 

So he does, slowly shifting closer and sure that Ed’ll tell him that’s close enough any second now, but Ed doesn’t until Stede’s thigh is plastered against Ed’s. 

“Better,” Ed tells him, nudging Stede with his leg. He reaches for the sleeve of Stede’s nightgown and makes an approving grunt. “I like this.”

“It’s nothing fancy,” Stede replies, propping himself up on his elbows. Ed’s hand moves from his sleeve to his chest, running up and down across the fabric, and Stede isn’t sure if Ed’s enjoying touching the fabric or touching him.  

“Fancy enough,” Ed tells him, grinning. He raises his arm to wrap it around Stede, and in a move that takes Stede by surprise, cuddles him close. “I like it.” 

Stede’s eyes are wide with shock at being pressed to Ed’s chest, with coarse hair rubbing against his cheek and forehead. “Um,” he manages, against Ed’s skin. “You can fondle my nightgown later.” He squirms to get more comfortable, expecting Ed to release him.

But Ed doesn’t, keeping one arm wrapped around Stede. “In the morning,” he says. “Plenty of time for fondling.” And then, quick as a flash, his other hand snakes around to squeeze Stede’s behind through his nightgown.

Stede yelps. “Ed!”

“You can fondle me, too,” Ed replies, giving Stede’s behind a final pat. “Maybe not right now. I need my sleep.” 

Stede does too, but he’s still trapped against Ed’s chest. Not that he minds, but… “You want to sleep like this?” 

“Yes?” 

“Oh. That’s—yes, absolutely, of course.” Stede moves his arm into a more comfortable position, relaxing against Ed and resting his hand on Ed’s stomach and marvelling in the warmth and the faded scars under his fingertips. “Excellent idea.” 

“Ssh, I’m trying to sleep here.”