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Waterloo

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- S T E D E -

Although morning sex was Stede’s preferred way of being woken up on the weekends, Ed humming quietly in his ear as he combed his fingers through his hair was a very close second. Coming into consciousness, completely wrapped in his lover was a heaven unlike anything else; he could smell Ed on his skin, feel the heat from his body radiate to his, hear his breathing and match it subconsciously.

More often than not, Ed’s humming was something sweet and light; he adored classic rock and 80s metal (his “Scrub Daddy Tunes” cleaning playlist was mostly Mötley Crüe, naturally), but would choose something like the Carpenters or Simon & Garfunkel to ease into the morning. Stede would feel himself come into the world, body boneless and eyes heavy, and roll into Ed until he was flush against him, tucking under his chin.

This morning’s choice took a moment for Stede to pinpoint exactly which song it was, but once he did, he started smiling; “I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do” by ABBA. A good choice, Stede would readily admit.

“Mmmm…g’mornin’, Sunshine.” Ed said, pressing a kiss to Stede’s temple.

“Morning, darling.” Stede yawned. “What time is it?”

“Just after seven, I think.”

Stede cracked an eye open. The morning light filtered through the blinds of the window, bathing the room in a warm, golden light. It had been two years since he had moved in with Ed, and since then, he had added his own personal touch to the space, in addition to other odds and ends. A painting of the Space Needle bathed in light from the setting sun hung opposite of the bed, a gift from Mary last Christmas. Framed photos of Stede, Ed, and the people in their lives dotted the walls; Jim and Olu’s wedding at Kubota Gardens, Izzy grinning and flipping the camera off as Flint pressed a giant kiss to his cheek, Ed and Lucius mid-laugh while Stede and Pete rolled their eyes to the side.

The upholstered items had been updated with new-to-them items, thanks in part to Stede being an absolute natural behind the bar, if he did say so himself. The blond had thrown himself headlong into learning everything he could about bartending, eventually creating his own drinks that had increased foot traffic into the tavern three-fold. A particular favorite had been his Lighthouse shots, a lemon and lavender mixture that had been so good, he had refused to make them for Ed because they would get him into trouble of the “dancing on the bar” variety.

“I don’t wanna get up.” Stede whined, nuzzling into Ed’s neck. “We have to go grocery shopping, and prep for tonight, and—“

“And tell everyone the news.” Ed murmured.

Stede yawned again. “What news?”

Ed drew a shaky breath and climbed out of bed, one hand behind his back.

“Ed?” He asked, sitting up and taking Ed’s free hand. “Is everything alright? Did something happen?”

“I…uh…” Ed gulped, and Stede could see tears form in the corners of his eyes. “I feel like a fuckin’ idiot, because I had this big huge speech planned, but I’m about to be a right mess. Just let me ramble for a minute, yeah?”

Stede pursed his lips, worried, but nodded.

“When we met,” Ed began, “I thought I had everything figured out. I was gonna work in this place until I keeled over in the kitchen peeling potatoes or some shit, dying alone in a puddle of my own piss. I didn’t want that, but I had made my peace with it.”

Oh God.

“And then you fuckin’…barged into my life. You were honest, and you were kind, a-and you were fearless, and you made me feel like a fuckin’ teenager again with how horny I was.” The pair laughed before he continued. “I fell for you so hard and so quickly, and every day I get to wake up next to you is just another gift you give me.”

Holy shit.

“You choose me, every day, after all of the bullshit and disagreements and stress from the tavern. You show me you love me on days when I think I’m hard to love. It doesn’t matter where life takes us or how something could go to hell; you are my harbor in a storm, and I never want to be parted from you.”

Stede could feel his heart leap into his throat while he tried to keep breathing. Christ above, this was happening. Ed knelt down then, wincing slightly at his weak knee.

“Darling, your knee—“

“I’m okay, love.” Ed said, smiling softly. “So, Stede Bonnet. Love of my life, fire in my loins, my Sunshine…” He moved his other arm from behind him, holding out a small, plain gold ring. “Will you do me the honor o—“

“YES.” Stede answered quickly, tears of his own rolling down his cheeks. “Yes, of course, yes! Absolutely!” Stede held out his left hand, trying and failing to hide his trembling as Ed slipped the ring on, then wrapped his arms around Ed’s neck and pulled him into a deep, loving kiss.
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- E D -

The tavern was packed that night, moreso than any normal Saturday, and friend after friend of the happy couple filed in, everyone all too eager to get a look at Stede’s ring.

“A round of Lighthouses on me! In honor of the happy couple!” Lucius called out, and the tavern erupted in cheers.

Ed stood at the end of the bar, watching his fiancé work. His movements were fluid, effortless; the blond was able to manage a full counter with ease, and had an amazing memory for tabs. If he wasn’t already hopelessly in love with him, Ed would’ve likely fallen in love with him again by watching Stede work.

“He’s doing well.” A familiar voice said beside Ed.

Ed looked down. “Izzy? When did you get back?”

The shorter man looked rested and bronzed, albeit slightly more grey. “Few days ago. Flint got stuck at the docks, but he sends his love.”

“Tell him we said thank you.” Ed replied. “How was Nassau?”

“An absolute dream, but I’m happy to be home.” Izzy looked bashful all of a sudden, cheeks tinting pink. “He, uh…he asked me to move in with him.”

Ed cocked an eyebrow. “And you said…?”

Izzy bit the inside of his cheek, but couldn’t hide his smile. “Bought some boxes and tape today.”

The bearded man clapped a hand on his shoulder and grinned. “Congrats, mate! I’m happy for you. Genuinely. Flint’s good to you and for you.”

Izzy rubbed at his neck, his own grin making his eyes crinkle. “He’s a good man, Ed. Makes me laugh like no one’s business and he’s just...” The shorter man’s voice trailed off, and he looked up at Ed. His eyes are brighter, Ed thinks; there’s a spark in them that he hadn’t seen since he hired Izzy all those years ago.

“Are you happy?” Izzy cocked his head toward Stede, who was busy shaking a cocktail.

Ed turned his attention to the blond, a warmth spreading through his chest. There was a small part of Ed that still felt guilty; he had apologized at least a dozen times Stede’s first week on bar, massaging the tension out of his jaw and temples while the blond sucked down cup after cup of chamomile to relax. Stede hadn’t worked in the service industry before (“People are such…dicks!” he had said after a drunk had thrown their beer on him; Ed had to be held back by Pete and Olu from kicking the drunk’s ass), and Ed felt he had suckered into a life he wasn’t cut out for. There was an equally small part of him that thought Stede was just humoring him until something better and fancier came along—

But then Stede caught his eye and walked quickly over to him, tugging him into a quick kiss and earning a wolf whistle from someone in the tavern. “I can hear you thinking.” The blond said. “Stop it. Enjoy the evening. I’m low on ice. Love you.” He winked before speed-walking back behind the bar.

“Yeah.” Ed said finally. “Yeah, I’m happy.”

And he was.