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this kind of love has to be a verb

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More than anything else, Ed can’t understand why Stede came back.

He understands why Stede left. Honestly, after the loneliness had left him, after the humiliation, after the anger and rage and desperate, clung-to hatred that was never really there, all that was left was a sick sort of understanding. Of course Stede had left. Ed is an impressive pirate, sure, and a decent captain, and a fun guy to drink and talk shit with - but at the end of the day, who would want him as a lover? Why would Stede have ever wanted him back?

But he did.

And he came back. That’s the sticking point; that’s the part he just can’t understand. That Stede is standing before him, barefoot and shirtless and with the top two buttons of his breeches undone, looking at him like he hung the stars: he just doesn’t understand. 

Stede kneels before him. Before him , Blackbeard, a man so unflinchingly evil that some people believe he’s literally the devil himself.  He kneels, Ed sitting on the bed (Stede’s bed, it’s never not been Stede’s bed, even when Ed was the only one sleeping in it), and he puts his hands, light, just above Ed’s knees, and he leans up to kiss him. Ed lets him. 

It’s soft. Stede’s lips are soft and the way he kisses Ed is soft and the feelings it gives Ed are soft, and Ed doesn’t understand, not why Stede wants him and not why Ed’s letting himself have it. Why Ed’s torturing himself with it. If Stede hasn’t realised what kind of person Ed truly is already, if he hasn’t realised how many thousands of leagues better a man he is than Ed - well, it’s only a matter of time, isn’t it? Before the loneliness and the humiliation and the anger and the rage come flooding back. He doesn’t think he can do it again. He thinks that maybe this time he’ll drown in it.

He keeps his eyes closed when Stede pulls away.

“You’re beautiful,” Stede says quietly. Ed wants to throw himself to the sharks.

Instead, he grabs Stede’s face and kisses him again, hard, this time. He crushes their lips together and pushes his tongue into Stede’s mouth, like maybe if it’s rough enough he can forgive himself for taking something he doesn’t deserve.

(Stede makes a very nice noise into his mouth. Shocked and excited. Ed wants more of it.)

Before the kiss is even over, Stede is fumbling with the buttons on Ed’s trousers, a little clumsy, but he gets them open quick enough, and Ed can’t breathe because Stede is reaching inside to pull his cock out and the noise Ed makes at the first touch of Stede’s hand to him is awful, vulnerable and needy and everything Ed doesn’t want to be.

“Yeah?” Stede asks, looking up at him with big, hopeful eyes. “You want - what do you want?”

It’s impossible to answer. Ed wants Stede to get up and run and keep running until he’s as far away from the monster that is Edward Teach as is physically possible, and then he wants him to run some more. He wants for Stede to have never come back. He wants to have never even thought about what Stede’s mouth would taste like, about what it would feel like to wake up next to Stede every morning, about how Stede might hold him or touch him or tell him he loves him. He wants to never have met Stede in the first place. To never have even heard of him.

And he wants Stede to stay. So, so badly, he wants Stede to stay.

“Anything,” Ed says, and it’s true. He wants anything Stede will give to him.

“Can I - that is - would you have me use my mouth?”

“Christ!” A hot burst of pleasure in his gut. He wasn’t expecting that at all, despite Stede’s position, on his knees between Ed’s legs. He really didn’t think Stede would want that. “Fuck, Stede, you think you have to fucking ask?”

“You’ll have to be patient with me,” Stede says. He licks his lips. He’s looking at Ed’s cock. “I can’t say I know what I’m doing.”

Ed’s mind goes blank at the first touch of Stede’s tongue to the head of his dick. When he closes his lips around the tip and sucks, Ed thinks he sees heaven.

Stede’s first hesitant touches turn certain quick. He’s clearly not done this before, but he more than makes up for that in enthusiasm, dragging the flat of his tongue up the underside of Ed’s cock, then putting it in his mouth and sliding so far down that he chokes on it and has to pull off. There are tears at the corners of his eyes. Ed can’t articulate how fucking hot it is.

While he’s sitting back catching his breath, Stede touches the back of Ed’s right hand. Ed realises his fists are clenched in the bedsheets, his knuckles white. Stede takes Ed’s hand, rubs his thumb across the back of it. Kisses the knuckles. Places it carefully on the back of his head.

Ed whimpers.

Stede finds his rhythm. He chokes again, once or twice, but for the most part he doesn’t let it get that far, keeps one hand at the base of Ed’s cock while he blows him. Ed just concentrates on keeping the hand he has on Stede’s head gentle, on not pulling his hair or pushing at his head, even though from anyone else he’d take it as implicit permission. He just doesn’t want to risk it. It’s like this: how far can he push before Stede realises?

So he doesn’t.

He talks. He tells Stede how good he feels, how hot he is, how perfect his mouth is. “It’s like you were made for this,” he says, and Stede moans around his cock, which makes Ed moan too. “It feels so fucking good,” he says, “fuck, fuck, Stede, you’re incredible,” and he watches as Stede takes too much into his mouth again, feels his throat squeeze around him for just a moment before Stede’s gagging and pulling off, coughing.

“Wait,” Ed says before Stede can take him back into his mouth.

Stede waits.

“I don’t want to come yet,” Ed says.

“I thought that was the point,” Stede says. Fuck, he sounds like - well - like he’s been sucking cock.

“Yes, but - I don’t want to come in your mouth.”

I want you to come in my mouth,” Stede says, and they both watch as Ed’s cock twitches dramatically, a long thread of pre-come drooling from the tip.

“I don’t want to come in your mouth because I want to come on your cock,” Ed says, before he can second-guess himself.

In no time at all, Stede’s off the floor and on top of Ed. “Are you serious?” he says, his face so close to Ed’s that it’s all he can see, and Ed says “Yes, fuck me,” and Stede kisses him, hard, like Ed kissed him before.

Stede helps Ed out of his undershirt, peels his trousers off, getting Ed naked before he does himself. Ed lays back on the bed and watches Stede retrieve a little bottle of oil from near the bed, watches him step out of his breeches and fold them over the back of a chair. He lets himself watch, although he feels a little lecherous, like he’s not supposed to be looking at Stede’s soft hips, the freckled and sunburned skin of his shoulders, the round of his ass. His mouth waters at the sight of Stede’s hard cock and some part of him in the depths of his chest feels disgusted at himself for wanting. Like Stede is so perfectly imperfect, and all Ed can do is ruin him.

Stede comes back to him. He climbs onto the bed and on top of Ed, and he leans down to kiss him (softly, too softly), and their skin slides together and their cocks touch and it feels like fucking lightning. Ed gasps, his head falling back, and Stede kisses his jaw, his throat. He touches Ed’s hip and kisses the dip at the base of his throat.

“You gonna fuck me or what?” Ed asks, goading. God, Stede’s probably expecting something sweet, something sentimental. He’s probably expecting Ed’s body to be yielding and easy, to be loving rather than wanting. Ed’s never fucked like anything less than a fistfight and he doesn’t think he’s going to stop now.

He shouldn’t be doing this. He shouldn’t be taking this from Stede, Stede deserves so much better, so much more. Deserves someone who can make love to him like he needs, not fuck him like a stranger.

(But it’s not like fucking a stranger, is it? That would be safer than this. Ed knows how to do that, how to grit his teeth and take it, how to bite but not kiss, how to touch but not to hold. At least with a stranger Ed wouldn’t be so fucking torn up about doing the right thing.)

“I’m getting there, Ed. Don’t be impatient.”

Not Ed , Ed wants to say, but that would be a lie. He’d made a cut between Ed and Blackbeard decades ago, made it so he could be that evil thing that he needed to be to survive, but the truth of it is that Ed and Blackbeard are the same. He’s a bad person, he just is. It doesn’t matter whether he’s calling himself Ed or Blackbeard or the fucking Kraken, the things he’s done have been done by him.

“Fuck,” he growls, and grabs Stede by the hips so he can thrust upwards and grind their cocks together. It’s better like this, better when the pleasure is hot and overwhelming and he can lose himself in the feeling of their bodies together and not think so fucking loudly, when the only things he can feel are Stede’s cock, his hands, his mouth, rather than the unrelenting ache of guilt.

“Greedy,” Stede says, and that feels good, too. Yes, he’s fucking greedy. He takes and takes and it’s never enough, and he’s going to take from Stede now, he wants it so bad.

“Fucking give it to me,” he says, digging his fingers in.

“Yes,” Stede hisses, then breathes deep. “Yes, I - I will. I will, darling.”

No room for darling in Ed’s heart.

He ignores it.

“Please,” he says instead. Oh, that was too close to the truth - too close to his voice breaking, all these stupid feelings spilling out.

Stede kisses him again, briefly, then moves to nudge his thighs apart.  “Yes,” Ed mutters, “yes, yes,” and again, louder, “yes!” when Stede finally, finally touches his asshole with oil-slicked fingers.

“You really want this,” Stede says, like he’s discovered something incredible. “Look at you.” He rubs lightly over Ed’s hole, down his perineum, presses lightly at the skin behind his balls. 

“Fuck,” Ed groans. “Come on, man, don’t be a dick.”

To his credit, Stede knows when to stop fucking around and get a job done. He presses one long finger into Ed, and Ed thinks he might pass out from wanting something so bad. It’s just enough to be not enough, and Ed wants to scream, wants to beg, wants to shove Stede onto his back and climb on top and force him to shove his cock inside him unprepared. He just wants to be full of him.

“There,” Stede says, quietly. “Is that what you wanted?”

“More,” Ed says. He sounds fucking broken already. “Please.”

“Already?”

Please.

A second finger - and, oh, that’s it. That’s what he needed. That stretch, that ache. Not quite full, but going to be.

“Shit,” Stede says, “Ed, look - look at you, Christ.”

Stede’s flushed in the face, eyes wide and dark, lips very, very pink. Ed thinks if Stede could see himself he wouldn’t think Ed was so worth looking at. But Stede moves inside him, a quick crook of the fingers, and it feels like someone’s punched him in the stomach with pleasure. “Oh my God,” he chokes out.

“Is that good?” Stede does it again.

“Oh my God !” 

Stede surges up to kiss him, and his fingers jostle inside him, and Ed can’t think to kiss properly. He just opens his mouth and lets Stede do what he will. “I’m going to fuck you,” Stede says, his voice low and smoother than Ed’s ever heard him. He didn’t know Stede could say that without stuttering.

“Yes,” Ed says. It sounds like he’s in pain.

“Do you need another finger first?”

Oh fuck, does he? Stupid fucking question to ask - all he knows is he wants more, more, more, and whatever answer he needs to get it is the one he needs to say.

“Fuck me,” he says.

Stede inhales sharp, through his teeth. “Okay,” he says, and pulls his fingers out. “Okay.” 

Stede, on top of him. Stede’s hands pushing Ed’s thighs apart, one leg up, leaving his bad leg to stretch out straight. Stede’s body between his legs.

Stede’s cock. Oh, God, Stede’s cock.

“Stede,” Ed says as Stede pushes in - slowly, slowly. Then, “Stede,” again, sounding a little panicky, even to his own ears. Then, “Stede!” as Stede slides home - every inch of him buried in Ed, hips pressed tight against Ed’s ass. He lets himself squeeze down, really feel Stede’s size, and Stede fucking squeaks, his hands spasming against Ed’s skin.

“Are - are you okay?” Stede asks, panting. “I’m not… hurting you, am I?”

“Not hurting,” Ed says.

“Very okay,” Ed says.

“Please don’t stop,” Ed says.

Stede’s smile is bright and brilliant and Ed wants to see it forever.

Then he moves. A slight pull outwards, a slow roll of the hips in. Ed loses his breath. And again - the same small motion - Ed thinks he might die from this. From Stede, moving slow inside him. Too much skin on skin, too much feels-good. He’s going to overdose on it. What a fucking way to go.

“You feel so good,” Stede’s saying, leaning down into him, “my God, Ed, you feel so good.” A single harder thrust, then back to slow again. That thrust is enough to have Ed shouting, clutching at the sheets, begging for more of the same, the voice in his head that says he doesn’t deserve it well and truly silent. Everything’s drowned out by Stede.

“More?” Stede says. “Like this?” He sounds uncertain, but the next thrust is hard enough that Ed feels it in his fucking chest, hard enough that it drives him up the bed a little.

“Fuck,” Ed gasps, “yes, fuck, that’s good, that’s great,” and Stede does it again, and again, until Ed’s entire world is narrowed down to just the sensation of Stede’s cock in his ass, the slick drag out and the jolt of heat when he shoves back in, the hard curl of pleasure building in his belly. He clings to Stede, presses his mouth against the salty skin of his chest to muffle his shouts.

“Oh,” Stede says, “Ed, I’m, I think I’m, please touch yourself,” a perfect gentleman always, even here, giving Ed the best buggering of his life. So Ed does - somehow manages to get his hand between them, and he’s barely got a hand around his cock before he’s going off, so hard he forgets how to breathe. He thinks he hears Stede say “oh lord,” and then Stede, the fucking bastard, is speeding up, rutting into him too hard and too fast and it’s too much and he hasn’t even finished coming and he feels like he’s about to come again. His cock throbs painfully. 

And then - oh, fuck yes - Stede’s shuddering against him, gasping, hips jerking as he comes inside him. Ed hears himself make a noise somewhere close to a sob, and he just sort of holds on as Stede finishes, his open palms pressed to the overheated skin of Stede’s back.

There’s a long moment of quiet.

Stede sighs. “I love you,” he says. He touches Ed’s face, drying the damp at his temples with his thumbs.

Fuck.

The first thought in Ed’s head after coming his brains out is I don’t deserve it. But he’s too well-fucked to be able to do anything about it - the words come, and they go. He can’t feel his legs. His heart is racing and he still hasn’t caught his breath. Stede is on top of him, looking at him with love so plain in his eyes that he wants to hide from it.

“I love you too,” he says. Because he does. He has since he first fucking laid eyes on the man. 

Stede pulls out of him, but stays half on top of him, skin to skin. “Was -?” Stede hesitates. He looks away, briefly, then back at him. “Was that good?”

Ed frowns. He squints up at him. “What?”

“Was it good?” Stede asks again. “I know - I haven’t the most experience, and I may have gotten a little, ah, ahead of myself, and I wanted it to be good for you but I think I may have gotten, hm, somewhat carried away, and, I don’t know. I just… wanted to be good enough - I mean, wanted it to be good. Enough. For you.”

Oh. Does Stede -? But he’s so… 

“Perfect,” Ed says. God, he can feel himself choking up. “You were perfect.”