Actions

Work Header

Our Sign Means Music

Work Text:

It’s nearly closing time when the door of Eddy’s shop bursts open and a wild-eyed stranger comes tumbling inside. “Blackbeard,” he pants, staggering over to Eddy’s counter. “I’ve found you at last! Uh, sorry it took me so long, I was… delayed.”

Eddy eyes him, puzzled. The young man isn’t his typical client –- he’s dressed in form-fitting leathers, wears a knife at his belt, and the long fringe flopping into his face does little to obscure surprisingly delicate features. “Sorry,” he says after a moment of gawking. “But there’s no one called ‘Blackbeard’ here.”

The news doesn’t dissuade his visitor. “Oh yeah.” He leans in and lowers his voice into a conspiratorial whisper. “Edward Teach, I got it.”

“It’s Eddy, actually. Edward is just to make me sound more professional.” Eddy continues staring at his visitor. He’s the only other Asian he’s seen since moving to Brisbane Cove and he appears to be about Eddy’s age, too. Most of Eddy’s clients are either in their older years or the children of prosperous folks from nearby towns and villages. His peers are mostly farmers, cobblers, carpenters and such.

“....And ‘Teach’ is just because the sea air ruined my sign,” Eddy adds.

🏴☠️

Eddy had thought the storefront sign was a good idea.

After all, very few of the locals can read many words, even amongst those interested in instruments or musical instruction.

The sign outside his shop was lettered “EDWARD, [Violin] TEACHER” with a drawing of a violin standing in for the word. It looked nice the day the sign maker hung it, crisp and professional, but Eddy hadn’t realized how quickly the salty air and frequent storms would erode everything. Within months the violin drawing was warped and the “ER” had worn clean away, but by then everyone in town knew where to go if one desired an instrument or music lessons.

“Eddy it is, if that’s how you prefer it,” the man continues, plopping into the wooden chair near Eddy’s register like he belongs there. “And as I was saying, sorry I’m late — but I’m here now, eager to join your crew.”

“My… crew?”

The question triggers a slanted grin. “Aye! I’ll be one of your scallywags. I’m a swashbuckler of many talents, ready and eager for action.”

Eddy frowns. “Well. There’s not really much action here, most days. What sort of work do you normally do?”

The man flutters a hand through the air. “The usual: raiding, fighting, battening the hatches, forcing scurvy dogs to walk the plank… whatever you need, really. I’m especially good in a scuttle. Brett the Brigander they call me, famed for my fearlessness.”

“Oh.” Eddy takes a moment. “Well, it’s nice to meet you. I wouldn’t mind having a crewmate because it does get kind of lonely here and it’s not easy teaching lessons while customers wait to buy things — but I’m afraid I don’t have a plank, we’ve never been raided, and there aren’t any hatches to batten down either.”

Brett’s face falls a bit further with each admission, and he’s looking positively glum by the time Eddy finishes. “I had a bad feeling when I saw this was a shop instead of a ship,” he says after a pause. His eyes skip around the room, taking in the instruments hanging on the far wall, the rack of sheet music, and the barrels filled with violin strings.

After sucking in a breath, he returns his attention to Eddy’s face with a look of determination. “Okay, so it’s not a ship, but I can live with that.”

Eddy blinks at him in surprise. “Well… that’s nice to hear, but unless you can sell things or play violin, I’m afraid there isn’t much work here for a crewmate.”

Brett puffs himself up. “As a matter of fact, I can do both. I’m an all-purpose sort of buccaneer. A multi-talented kind of freebooter. Tell you what, I’ll man the dungbie, you helm the lookout, and together we’ll get this place shipshape and be ready for grog.”

“...What?”

Brett’s grin crinkles the corners of his warm eyes. “A drink, matey, a drink. You do welcome new hands aboard with a good strong drink, yeah?”

Eddy opens his mouth to tell him that he’s never welcomed a crewmate aboard at all, it’s always just been him –- but thinks better of it and offers a smile instead.

“That sounds great. Let’s close up and head over to the tavern, and you can tell me how you came to be a violin-playing pirate.”

🏴☠️

Brett doesn’t seem to think there’s anything unusual about being a violin-playing pirate. He shrugs after taking an impressively large gulp from his dented tin mug. “I learned the usual sort of way – between threats of beatings from my father and a few actual beatings to make it clear he meant business.”

Eddy frowns. “That’s not exactly how I teach my students.”

“Oh?” Brett chugs some more grog. “Well, you might wanna consider it. It was surprisingly effective. I learned quick.”

Eddy hums. “I’ll go over some alternative methods before you begin with your first student.”

Brett heaves a sigh and grumbles about snot-nosed rapscallions before launching into a tale of his adventures across the seven seas, an amusing yarn made all the more entertaining by the largest amount of alcohol Eddy can remember consuming in a single night.

🏴☠️

Surprisingly, Brett is a good teacher, patient and kind. There’s more than a sprinkling of pirate slurs and cursing in his speech, but he does his best to contain himself around the old-timers and small children. He works hard, not only picking up extra lessons while Eddy runs the shop but also cleaning, organizing, and drumming up business by playing sea shanties on the street.

At the month’s end, Eddy issues him his wages, and Brett’s eyes light up.

“My share of the loot?”

Eddy clears his throat. “Not exactly. We don’t really have loot here. The students and customers pay for our products and services, and then I issue you a paycheck.”

Brett’s face falls. “Oh.”

Eddy frowns, hating to see his new friend – or crewmate, as he insists on being called – disappointed. “If you like, I could call your share the plunder?”

Brett sighs, shaking his head. “You don’t have to humor me.”

But the following month Eddy presents his wages in a rough-hewn sack with a scary pirate insignia stitched to the front, and Brett’s smile is incandescent.

🏴☠️

Aside from a minor incident where Brett held his knife to the throat of a demanding, unpleasant customer and insisted he treat Eddy with the respect he’s due, everything is going well with their partnership until Brett gets evicted from his flat share.

“Wasn’t even drinking or dipping into crack-Jenny’s teacup,” he mutters while heaving his meager bag of belongings into the shop’s backroom. “‘Didn’t fit in with the culture,’ they said. ‘Too much rough language and threats,’ can you believe it? And ‘your knife scares the children.’ What, have children around these parts never seen a knife before?”

When Eddy realizes Brett is waiting for an answer, he hems and haws a bit before responding. “They have, but mostly beside their dinner plates. Not many around here keep knives on their belts, and they’re rarely as, um… long or impressive as yours.”

“It is impressive, isn’t it?” Brett brightens as he draws his blade from its sheath. It’s closer to a sword than a knife, the gleaming-sharp metal terminating with a slight hook. “You’d think they’d feel safer knowing a well-armed buccaneer had their backs, but apparently not.”

Eddy offers a wry smile. “Not everyone knows a good thing when they see it. So have you got a new place lined up?”

Brett sighs. “Not as such, but I’ll check the local inns after we close.”

“You’re welcome to stay with me. There isn’t much space, but the location’s convenient.” He gestures upwards; his living quarters are located directly above the shop, a snug space packed full of his belongings… but at least Brett only has the single bag.

Brett eyes him. “Is this how it’s gonna be, then?”

Eddy blinks, confused. “I mean, you don’t have to. If you’d be more comfortable in a room at the inn, that’s okay, I won’t be offended–”

He cuts himself off when the chime above the front door sounds, indicating the arrival of customers. They work through the rest of the day, trading off lessons with students in the back room. Brett manages to sell an expensive violin that’s been sitting on the shelf for the better part of a year, and they celebrate with several mugs of grog before returning to the shop and trudging up the rickety stairs.

There isn’t much free space, but Brett settles atop some unwashed laundry and curls into a ball.

Eddy gets into bed and eyes him with amusement. “You can sleep up here, you know. The bed’s not big, but neither are you.”

One eye opens to regard him. “I’ll have you know my size is an asset in the limited space on a ship,” he huffs. “I’m portable, storable, and sometimes they don’t even notice me sneaking in with my knife at the ready.”

“I believe it.” Eddy scoots against the wall and lifts the blankets in invitation. “Come on, it’s much more comfortable.”

Brett uncoils himself with a long cat-like stretch. “Alrighty then,” he says as he strips off his leathers a piece at a time. “Time for the buggery, eh?”

“The what?”

“The buggery,” Brett repeats cheerfully. “I’ve been expecting this. You’ve got oil, I hope? I prefer coconut to olive but can work with either in a pinch.”

For a moment all Eddy can do is stare at him, mouth open. “I’m not gonna… that’s not why… I don’t…” He closes his mouth, collects himself, and tries again. “You misunderstand my invitation. I just want you to be comfortable and away from the bugs. There’s no… buggery involved other than that.”

“Oh.” If he didn’t know better, Eddy would swear Brett sounds disappointed. “Well, do you mind if I keep the leathers off, at least? They’re not very comfortable to sleep in.”

“I imagine not,” Eddy replies, hoping Brett doesn’t notice how hot his face has grown during all the talk about buggery and buggery-related products. “You can wear what you like. Or not wear what you like. It’s up to you. I’ll just…” He leans over to extinguish the candle before settling against the wall again.

Brett is silent as he finds a comfortable position. “Hey,” he says eventually. “Hey.”

“...Yeah?”

“Thanks for letting me bed down with you, captain. You can rest well knowing I’ve got my sword within reach. If any footpads attempt to sneak in, I’ll make quick work of them.”

“Thanks.” Eddy presses his back flush against the wall. “I’ll sleep much better knowing that.”

🏴☠️

As the months pass, Brett grows quieter.

He continues being an excellent employee (or crewmate, as Brett insists on being called) but his presence is less animated. He has fewer stories to tell and less banter to share, seeming to go through the motions rather than relish every moment. Eddy worries, but Brett shrugs him off.

“It’s just,” he admits when Eddy presses him, and won’t stop pressing, “this isn’t what I imagined working for Blackbeard would be like. Not that I’m not enjoying it, or your company, it’s just a lot… uh, drier than I expected.”

“Well, I’m not Blackbeard, I’m Eddy. And you… you miss the ocean?”

“Yeah.” Brett leans against the scarred wooden countertop and sighs. “The briny deep. The rocking of a ship, the stench of dead fish, the ever-present risk of death.”

Eddy frowns as he listens. “I could let a fish rot in our room if you’d feel more comfortable. And it’s risky out there in the streets of Brisbane Cove! Just the other day Janey Goodwife tripped over a root and took a terrible spill into the road.”

Brett nods, but it’s clear he’s not really listening. “No offense, Bla– Eddy, but I thought there’d be more pillaging, and plunder. Scuttling, and dancing with ol’ Jack Ketch. This is all just very…”

He’s about to add something more when the bell above the front door chimes and a matronly woman bustles inside, her hand atop the head of a peevish-looking lad.

“...Duty calls,” Brett says, pushing away from the counter with a sigh.

🏴☠️

Eddy worries, because having enjoyed the company of a crewmate for a few months, he has no desire to return to his previous life of solitude. Brett’s presence fills once-gray days with color and excitement, even while he’s lamenting the absence of mortal danger. He also keeps Eddy’s bed warm at night, and any passing contact between their bodies brings a rush of unfamiliar tingles that Eddy’s keen to explore further.

Someday. When he finds the courage.

Eddy finds himself spending a lot of time pondering both coconut and olive oil, wondering about the relative merits of each until students and customers alike grow annoyed with his daydreaming.

The more time he spends pondering, the more certain he is that he doesn’t want Brett to grow bored and leave him, and that possibility feels all too likely as the routine of their days weighs on his new friend.

After agonizing over the possibilities for far too long, Eddy makes a plan. Before the month’s end he posts a notice on the music shop’s door announcing a brief leave of absence and books them passage on a ship.

🏴☠️

“A clipper!” Brett shouts as they board the vessel. “I can’t believe it. We’re finally heading to sea!”

“Yup.” Eddy grins at him, delighted by the return of Brett’s high spirits. “It’s taking us to a nearby island, where we’ll be digging for treasure.” He attempts to display the weathered-looking map again, but Brett can’t seem to look at it without snickering.

“I’m sorry,” he says in response to Eddy’s hurt look. “It’s just that as a pirate, I can tell you most treasure maps are… well, let’s say for decorative purposes only. But that’s fine,” he enthuses, his smile growing brighter. “We’ll tack it up in our quarters when we get home, it’ll remind me of the day we saw the sea together.”

He huddles against Eddy’s side, because sea-hardened pirate or not, he gets cold easily and the air blowing off the ocean is chilly. Eddy wraps an arm around him, because infamous captain or not, he cares about keeping his crew safe and comfortable.

They stay like that until the ship docks on a small island. It’s not deserted, exactly, but they’re the only passengers to disembark, and Eddy sees no other people or buildings.

“It’s all ours,” he tells Brett with a smile, handing him the shovel while he endures Brett’s snickers to take another look at the map. It seems easy to follow, with a dotted path beginning where they stand and the treasure helpfully marked with a giant red X. “Let’s be off, then.”

“Avast, matey,” Brett agrees, his knife out and his eyes bright.

Brett is right about the map. It isn’t very good, leading them in wide looping circles around questionable landmarks, but Brett doesn’t seem to mind the wild goose chase. He cackles in delight when he gets caught in a tangle of vines and gets to use his knife for the first time. He’s confident with it, swinging in a wide arch and managing not to injure himself while neatly cleaving the flora.

The looping pathway brings them back to the sandy shore for a second time when a spot of brightness appears on the horizon and aims a path straight towards them. Eddy notices first, grabbing Brett’s arm and attempting to pull him to safety – but the bright spot solidifies into a fluttering mass of green and blue feathers, squawking indignantly as it lands on Brett’s shoulder.

“Dude!” Brett exclaims, delighted. “It’s a parrot!”

Aye, matey! Squawwwwwk!” it says in response.

“Holy shit, a talking parrot!” Eddy reaches a finger towards the yellow beak, but it snaps at him before retreating to coo in Brett’s ear.

“This is a pirate’s dream,” Brett says with a grin, gently petting his new friend. “Do you think he’ll want to stay with me?”

The parrot gives another low squawk. “She! Birdy-a-she!”

Brett laughs and strokes the feather on her face. “My humble apologies, little lass. Would you like to ride on my shoulder?”

Birdy gives a contented string of chirps as she settles against Brett’s neck.

Eddy fights down an irrational surge of jealousy. “I’d say our adventure is going well. We haven’t even found the treasure yet, and you’ve acquired a pet.”

“Birdy’s a true treasure,” Brett says with a beaming smile. “I’ve always wanted a pet, but pets and pirates don’t mix well, for obvious reasons. Birds are an exception, though.”

“Plus you do your pirating in a shop now,” Eddy notes, but Brett has struck up a conversation with Birdy and seems to have missed his words.

🏴☠️

On their third pass through the sandy beach, they encounter a corpse.

“Oh god,” Eddy says, stopping dead in his tracks. “That’s… maybe it’s not… oh no, it is.” He turns his head to hide his face as tears sting his eyes.

“A poor omen indeed,” Brett intones, using the toe of his leather boot to turn the body face-up — only to elicit a groan and a pained expression on the bloodless face of a young man. Brett yelps, jumping several inches off the ground and launching himself into Eddy’s arms while Birdy chatters in protest.

“It’s a ghost!” he says. “The restless dead! He crawled out of Davy Jones' locker to extract his terrible vengeance. This is the worst luck we’ve had so far, we’re headed towards certain doom now, an enemy can be hacked to bits but a ghost has secret ways to smite a person–”

The corpse heaves a sigh. “I’m not going to smite you.”

Brett wraps both arms around Eddy’s midsection, shuddering. “It speaks! That’s even worse, we’ve got a talking ghost, next he’ll be cursing us and–”

“Not cursing you either,” the corpse says after an impressively long coughing fit.

Eddy clears his throat, attempting to calm Brett with some gentle pats while Birdy flaps just above his head, full of indignant squawks over the loss of her comfortable position. “So um, who are you?”

“Lucius Spriggs,” the man replies, sitting up and looking around with a look of grave displeasure on his face. To be fair, it’s the sort of face that seems made for expressions of grave displeasure, so Eddy decides not to take it personally. “I’m not supposed to be here. I’m a pirate, working on the Revenge. Or at least I was until Blackbeard murdered me.”

Brett peels himself away from Eddy’s side, curiosity apparently getting the better of his fear. “Tough break, mate,” he says before looking up at Eddy. “So, why’d you murder him?”

Eddy sighs. “I didn’t murder him. How could I? I’ve been with you this whole time and besides, he doesn’t appear to be very dead.”

“Valid points,” Brett allows before returning his attention to Lucius. “Are you certain Blackbeard murdered you? Perhaps you just fell overboard and hallucinated the whole murdery bit.”

Lucius appears to consider the theory. “No, he definitely murdered me. Deliberately and intentionally. He looked right at me, grabbed me, and pitched me overboard. Didn’t even say a word of apology.”

“That’s cold. And not especially piratey, either.” Brett looks back to Eddy again. “Why didn’t you make him walk the plank, or keelhaul him? Those are the classics. Just dropping him overboard…” He gives a disappointed shake of his head, and Birdy squawks softly in commiseration.

Eddy heaves a sigh. “Brett. I thought we’d cleared this up. I’m not Blackbeard, I’m not even Edward Teach. I’m Eddy, Eddy Chen, violin teacher and shop owner.”

Lucius gives a solemn nod as he listens. “I can confirm that,” he informs Brett. “The actual Blackbeard is much larger, and far scarier.” He shifts his gaze to Eddy. “Uh… no offense.”

“None taken,” Eddy assures him. “So, how about we move on? I’m not Blackbeard, you’re not murdered, we’ve still got a map and I’d really like to find this treasure—”

Lucius looks at Brett. “Did you explain the pirate treasure map thing to him?”

“I did, but he didn’t believe me. I figure it’s for the best if we just go ahead and find it so he can see for himself.”

Eddy clears his throat. “Listen, I might not be a fearsome pirate like the two of you, but can I just say—”

“Dumb!” squawks Birdy. “Dumb dumb dumby dumb.”

Brett turns to hush her. “That’s a bit harsh, Birdy. Let’s let him have his fun with the map, and then we can…” He looks back to Lucius. “What do we do with you? It’s good news that you’re not dead, but less-good news that you’re marooned on a semi-deserted island without your captain or your crew.”

“It’s not so bad being without my captain, considering how things went between us,” Lucius says glumly. “And I was about to give him an update on the talent show, too.”

Brett and Eddy tisk together, shaking their heads over the unfairness of it all.

“We could bring you back to Brisbane Cove with us after we find the treasure,” Eddy offers. “Unfortunately I don’t have space for another crewmate, but at least you’d be in a place with people, and food, and drinkable water…”

“No,” Lucius says, sounding distressed for the first time. “I’ve got to return to the Revenge. My boyfriend’s there, and he could be in grave danger. On account of Blackbeard’s personality change after his boyfriend ditched him.”

Eddy’s eyes widen. “Do all pirates have boyfriends?”

“Most,” Lucius and Brett answer at the same time before exchanging a glance and a chuckle.

Brett turns serious again, moving a step closer to Lucius. “Is this a desperate, passionate, all-consuming sort of love? The kind where you can hardly bear having him out of your sight? The kind where you obsess about him all day and dream of him all night?”

Lucius shifts his weight between his feet and frowns. “Well, not exactly,” he admits. “It was mostly a love of convenience. Or so I thought.” He gives a hard swallow. “Now that we’ve been parted, I realize how much I actually feel for him. I… I belong with Black Pete!”

Brett clasps his hands together and beams. “In that case, we’ll shake down the seven seas until the two of you are reunited.” When Eddy fixes him with a look, he clears his throat and continues. “...right after we find the treasure, I mean.”

🏴☠️

With three of them looking, it doesn’t take long to locate the X marking the spot. It helps that there’s an actual X drawn in the dirt, so large and clear Eddy marvels that they managed to miss it on their first pass. Lucius stands well back while Brett flings dirt into the air with Birdy helpfully flapping above his head.

Dig faster,” she squawks, and Eddy’s certain Brett’s going to be annoyed, but he just laughs.

“Give me a break, I’m working with noodle arms here. Plus my back isn’t what it used to be, getting old really sucks, there’s a reason you don’t encounter too many elderly pirates, well several reasons actually…” He continues his good-natured grumbling until the shovel strikes something hard. “I found it! The coffer!”

Dropping to his knees, he tosses the shovel aside and frees it with his bare hands.

“That does look like a treasure chest,” Lucius notes.

It actually looks better than Eddy had hoped, with burnished wood and rusty lines of nailhead trim and a study-seeming lock that gives way beneath Brett’s clever fingers.

“Let’s see what sort of booty we’ve got here,” Brett says, and Lucius snickers as he opens the hinged top.

A beat of silence passes as he digs into the loot and comes up with a handful of candy. There’s sorghum drops, cream filberts, fennel comfit and sugar plum disks, most of which is twisted inside colorful wrappers and tied with ribbons. As the others stare down at the treasure, Eddy’s face warms and his toes curl with embarrassment.

“Sorry,” he manages. “It was a dumb idea, the map and the chest and the trip came as a package deal from Adventure Times Inc, I thought it would be fun but—”

“Are you kidding me?” Brett drops the fistful of candy back into the box. “This is by far the best loot box I’ve ever seen!”

“Usually it’s just something lame, like a petrified orange,” Lucius adds. “Can I have one?”

“Go ahead, freebooter, there’s a whole chest of it,” Brett replies before launching himself into Eddy’s arms. Eddy staggers a step back before stabilizing, laughing as he wraps his arms around Brett’s slender form.

“You’re heavier than you look,” he murmurs against Brett's hair.

Brett cackles while hugging him. “Broadside Brett, they call me – or they will once I get done eating all that candy.”

They chomp down a few handfuls of sweets, with Brett sharing bits with Birdy while she coos at him appreciatively. Once they’ve eaten enough to make themselves sick, they hoist the chest and head back towards the docks while Brett stares up at Eddy with hearts shining in his eyes.

“I can’t believe you went to all this trouble for me,” he says, leaning against Eddy’s arm.

“Save it, some of us are suffering here,” Lucius says, but he sounds mostly sarcastic and Eddy still doesn’t know what to make of him.

“Oh yeah.” Brett looks back to Lucius, his grin fading into a thoughtful look. “We still have to figure out how to find Blackbeard’s ship, which might be a bit more challenging than finding the candy treasure was.”

They’re still standing on the edge of the dock, pondering their quandary when Birdy gives a loud squawk. The three of them look up in unison to see a black dot in the sea of blue — a black dot that slowly resolves into a rowboat with a single occupant.

“Hey,” Lucius says, raising a hand to shield his eyes from the sun, “I think that’s… no way.”

“No what way?”

“I mean it can’t be,” Lucius continues. “Wait, can it be? No, it definitely can’t.” He rubs his eyes with both hands.

“Ahoy!” comes a shout from the rowboat, the voice distinctly British and upper-crust.

“It is.” Lucius sways on his feet, turning as pale as he was when they found him,, and Brett and Eddy each grab one of his arms to keep him from pitching forward. “It’s Stede Bonnet!”

Brett squints at the approaching vessel. “Who?”

“Blackbeard’s boyfriend. The one who ditched him and set off all the drama. Now he’s in a rowboat and headed directly at us.”

Eddy frowns. “Is he dangerous? Should we run?”

Lucius shoots him a look. “Does he seem dangerous to you?”

Brett and Eddy focus their attention on the incoming vessel and the man seated within. He’s unarmed, sunburned, and smiling openly at them. “Lucius!” he calls. “Am I ever glad to see you!”

Between the four of them they manage to get his boat docked and tied up before the sea can reclaim it, but the distracted captain isn’t interested in socializing. “Yes, yes,” he says while Eddy explains how they came to be companions with Lucius, who fortunately remains both unmurdered and undrowned and therefore available to rejoin his service.

“Thank goodness,” Stede says, shaking out his arms. “My shoulders are about ready to fall off after all that rowing.” His attention skips to Brett and Eddy, whose arms are given a brief once-over before a smile snaps onto his weary features. “If you boys would like to join up and assist with the rowing, I offer decent treatment and fair wages. Or at least I did before I died and left all my worldly goods to my wife… which may have been short-sighted of me, come to think of it.”

Brett blinks at him. “Wait, you’re dead?”

“In a manner of speaking, but it’s nothing for you to concern yourself with.”

Eddy clears his throat and turns to Brett. “They’re searching for Blackbeard, and so are you.” He gives a painful swallow before continuing. “Maybe you should go with them? Since you all have the same goal, and you’d be back on the sea again…”

Laughing, Brett takes his hand. “Are you kidding me? Head out on a rowboat when we’ve got a seaworthy ship on the way to take us home? Nah. Sometimes I miss the pirate’s life, but we’ve got a shop to tend, students to teach, and all evidence to the contrary – I’m not crazy.”

Lucius’ eyes skip back and forth between them and his sunburned captain. “Maybe I should go with them…”

“How do you think Ed will react when he hears you could have helped me but ran off with a pair of strangers instead? I don’t think he’d be in a forgiving mood.”

Lucius sighs. “I suppose I don’t want to spend the rest of my life looking over my shoulder. And considering that Black Pete is with him and I belong with Black Pete…” He reaches into Brett’s treasure chest, snags another handful of sweets, and climbs into the boat with Stede.

“Good luck,” Eddy calls, waving them a fond bon voyage while watching them struggle to get the little boat past the breakers and back out to sea. “Do you suppose we’ll ever see them again?”

Brett shrugs, popping another candy into his mouth. “Pirates do have a way of turning up at unexpected times and in odd places. Hopefully this doesn’t end with them feeding the fishes, but it’s as they say…”

“Dead men tell no tales?”

Brett grins. “You would have made a fine pirate, Edward.”

“It’s Eddy.”

“Joking! Just joking and hey no tickling, that’s cruel and inhumane…”

🏴☠️

They cuddle together on the ship during the trip home, with Birdy nestled between them making sleepy, contented bird-noises. Eddy studies his face, half-lit by the waxing moon. “Are you really sure?” he asks, unable to let go of his worries.

“Sure of what?”

“That you’d rather stay with me than join another pirate crew? Even though you know I’m not Blackbeard now?”

Brett looks up at him with a slanted grin. “Why would I want to leave? I’ve got violins, a warm bed, a nice pet, and the best boyfriend a pirate could ever hope to find. He even set up a whole treasure hunt just to make me happy; that’s not the sort of thing many pirates do for their bedmates.”

Eddy blushes to the tips of his ears, but forces himself to fight through the awkwardness and keep talking. “But you’re going to miss the adventures, the raids, the plotting and scheming and pillage and whatever else pirates spend their days getting up to.”

“It’s more the nights that I’ve been thinking of.” He shifts around in his seat, seeming awkward for the first time that Eddy can recall. “I can live without the raids and schemes and general badassery, but do you think we could reconsider the buggery?”

Buggery” Birdy coos sleepily. “Bugs for Birdy.”

“Hush,” Brett tells her fondly before turning hopeful eyes up at Eddy.

“I’ve been giving that some thought,” Eddy admits. “A lot of thought, actually, and I’ve just now decided that that could make a fine second adventure for us to share.”

Brett grins. “In that case, I’m one hundred percent sure.”