A/N: Last Chapter! I hope everyone has enjoyed this sequel; I've certainly enjoyed writing it! Let me know what you think of the ending :)
Ste slipped out of bed quietly. It wasn't an easy thing to do with Brendan's arm thrown across his waist but he managed to do so without waking the Irishman. Creeping towards the kitchen, Ste opened the fridge and took out the milk carton, pouring himself a glass. He sat at the kitchen table and sipped thoughtfully, smiling to himself.
His eyes drifted to the watch Brendan had bought him. He put his glass down and fingered the smooth silver finish, his eyes feeling moist with the power of the sentiment behind it. He never knew that Brendan could be so romantic. It made him love him even more if that were possible. After months of agony, uncertainty, jealousy, kidnap attempts and violence, Ste could finally take a deep breath without his chest constricting or his heart feeling heavy and say that Brendan Brady had changed; Ste Hay had changed. Everything had changed.
He was happy. Inexplicably happy. He felt whole, he felt right. Brendan filled every hole in him that was empty; he gave him all of the love he had desperately needed all of his life. Sure, things had been far from easy. Brendan had been violent; he had been manipulative, arrogant, and cruel even. But in spite of all that, Ste still forgave him. He understood what it meant to lose control, to lash out. He had done the same himself not long ago and he knew that it was possible for a person to change for good. Brendan had done enough since then to prove that to him. Ste had given him his ultimatum and instead of running away, Brendan had really tried. It might have taken months for them to finally get to this place, this place of happiness, but Ste was glad they finally had.
He and Brendan were for keeps now; nothing would ever tear them apart.
Regardless, Ste felt as though they needed some time away for a while, just the two of them. Smirking at his bright idea, Ste went into the living room and located their laptop that they had bought together; well Brendan had insisted on paying for most of it anyway.
Ste spent about half an hour searching for prices and the right airline before he finally decided on one and booked the tickets. They weren't too expensive; flights these days were fairly cheap. Ste had been saving up for a while now to do something like this for Brendan but it never felt like the right time as well as the fact that a lot of his wages went towards the kids, rightfully so. As a result it had taken him a fair while to save up enough money to afford this. Brendan would no doubt insist on paying him back for it but Ste wasn't having any of it. This was his present to Brendan; two tickets to Ireland for the week. It was rather perfect.
"Stephen?" Brendan said tiredly, rubbing at his eyes. He was dressed in only his boxers.
Ste hastily shut the laptop. "Sorry. I didn't wake you did I?"
"Course not. Just woke up and ye weren't there. What ye doing?" Brendan walked towards Ste, looking suspiciously at the laptop.
"I'll tell you in the morning" Ste smiled, standing up and taking Brendan's outstretched hand.
"Alright" Brendan agreed, pulling Ste gently back to bed.
Brendan woke up before Stephen the next morning and laid there for a while, just looking at him. He really was beautiful; all smooth-faced, long lashes and bright eyes when they were open. Brendan couldn't believe his luck sometimes and also his stupidity at nearly losing his boy for good not so long ago. It really felt as though things had turned out for the best after all of the shit they had been through.
It hadn't been easy, coming out. Brendan still didn't feel completely comfortable about being called gay. But he tried not to focus on that; instead he focused on the fact that he had fallen in love and he was with the man he loved, and nothing was ever going to change that.
He wasn't whiter than whiter, far from it, but it felt good to know that Stephen accepted him regardless. He just wished there was a way in which to tie himself to Stephen irrevocably. Brendan still hadn't learnt how to stop being so possessive but it was undeniable that Stephen was his, and would always be his. He would never let any other man, any other person, touch him. Sexually or otherwise. The idea that Noah had almost gotten his chance made Brendan sick and berate himself for not coming out with Stephen sooner. It couldn't be helped however and in a way it proved that when given the easier choice, the healthier choice, Stephen still decided to stay with Brendan. That was real love. It was hard at times; it was full of mishaps, misunderstandings, making up, breaking up. But ultimately Brendan always found himself drawn back to Stephen and vice versa; like two magnets pulling at each other; they would always collide only this time they would never separate.
This was it for Brendan now. He was a grown man; he had spent years dealing with his demons, trying to come to terms with what he was. He still wasn't ready to put a label on himself but he was happy to just call himself Stephen's and leave it at that.
Stephen started to stir beside him, opening his eyes slowly and taking in Brendan looking at him.
"Hey, you" Stephen said softly, reaching out a hand which Brendan gladly took.
"Ye gonna tell me what ye were doing last night then?" Brendan asked, always straight to the point.
Stephen chuckled. "Morning to you too. It's a surprise" He rolled onto his back, stretching.
"How long do I have to wait?" Brendan asked impatiently; surprises always made him a bit wary.
"Not long. Promise" Stephen said, swinging his legs out of the bed.
"Hey, where do ye think yer going?" Brendan asked, swiping at Stephen's arm to catch it but missing.
"I have to sort a few things out" Stephen smiled. "I'll be back in about an hour to tell you. Can you wait that long?"
Brendan frowned. "I guess so…"
"Great" Stephen replied, pulling on his clothes.
"Do ye have to rush off?" Brendan asked, annoyed.
"No time to waste" Stephen grinned, grabbing his keys and phone off of the bedside table. "Be back as soon as I can" he added, kissing Brendan quickly on the lips.
"But…" Brendan began but Stephen was already out of the door.
Ste hurried to Chez Chez to find Cheryl. She was standing by the bar flipping through a magazine. She glanced up and smiled when she noticed Ste.
"Hey, love. What are you doing here so early?"
"I have a big favour to ask" Ste began, unable to resist grinning.
"Ooh I'm intrigued. What is it, hun?"
"Can me and Brendan have the week off work? I know it's a lot to ask…"
"What for?" Cheryl asked, smiling.
"Well, I thought it would be really nice to take him to see his kids, in Belfast. So I booked some plane tickets. I know I should have asked you first but the deal was so good, and the plane leaves tonight and I know its short notice…" Ste trailed off, looking at Cheryl eagerly.
Cheryl laughed. "Woah, slow down! Of course you can both take the week off, I'm sure I can get cover. Won't hurt for Warren to work a bit more either" Cheryl winked at him. "That's so lovely though, have you told him yet? He'll be made up"
Ste opened his mouth to reply; feeling elated, but was cut off by a voice from behind him.
"Told me what?" Brendan's sultry voice intoned. Ste sighed, rolling his eyes. He had expected this.
"What part of 'I'll be back in an hour' do you not understand?" He asked, turning round to face Brendan, smiling all the same.
"Ye know me better than that, Stephen. Now tell me what's going on" Brendan crossed his arms.
Ste sighed, walking towards Brendan and placing his hands on either side of his shoulders.
"I was just asking Chez if we could take the week off to go to Belfast" Ste grinned, waiting for Brendan's reaction.
Brendan's face was serious for a moment and for a second Ste doubted his decision. His smile faltered slightly but then Brendan slowly started to smile, a rare genuine smile.
"Stephen…I'm speechless" He said breathlessly, uncrossing his arms. "How did ye? When did ye?"
"On the laptop last night, I found a great deal"
Brendan frowned. "Ye shouldn't pay for the tickets…"
"They weren't that expensive!"
"Still, Stephen… I don't like it"
Ste sighed again. "How about you pay for where we stay then? I saw this happening" Ste turned around to smile at Cheryl.
"I suppose that's reasonable" Brendan murmured. He looked at Ste squarely for a moment before wrapping his arms around him, kissing him on the neck. "Thank ye" he whispered. He withdrew and turned to Cheryl. "Will ye be alright with Warren?"
"Of course" Cheryl said breezily. "It's only a week after all. Unless you two plan on eloping and leaving me behind to live in Ireland!"
"Ha, don't be silly" Brendan said, smirking. He moved towards Cheryl to wrap an arm around her. "I'll give yer love to the kids, ye?"
"Thanks, love. I'll have to go out and buy them something for you to take. What time's the plane?" She asked, addressing Ste.
"Eight o'clock tonight" Ste said.
"I'd best find us a place to stay quick then" Brendan said.
"Nothing too fancy, a B and B will do"
"Ye, sure" Brendan said airily. "Come on, we'd best go pack as well" he said, taking Ste's hand.
They moved towards the stairs but stopped when they were confronted with Warren climbing up them.
"Hello, lovebirds" he said sarcastically, noticing their entwined hands. Ste was pleased to feel Brendan hold on even tighter.
"How's it going, Foxy?" Brendan asked pleasantly enough. It was an uneasy alliance; Ste still didn't trust Warren one bit but he was willing to be civil to him after everything they had been through together.
"How's Theresa?" Ste added questioningly. Warren's face fell but he quickly recovered.
"Haven't got a clue" he said brusquely, brushing past them. "Ask her new boyfriend, Ethan"
Ste's mouth gaped open in shock. "She got with Ethan? What about Liberty?"
"I don't really care" Warren said, eyes wide. Ste noticed Cheryl smirking behind Warren's back.
"That's a real shame for you two, if you ever started in the first place" she said smugly.
"Well if she likes the weedy types who am I to judge? I can do better" Warren said gruffly, moving towards the office and shutting the door after him.
Brendan poked Ste gently in the ribs. "Bit tactless, don't ye think? And you Chez, winding him up"
"You don't approve?" Cheryl asked, her eyebrows rising.
"I think it's brilliant" Brendan said, tugging at Ste's hand. "Let's go, see ye later, Sis"
"Have a nice time!" Cheryl called after them.
A few hours later Brendan had successfully found them a nice hotel to stay in and Ste and him were both packed. Brendan had looked at several of Ste's packed shirts with disdain but couldn't argue with him not to bring them; he wouldn't have anything left to wear otherwise.
"That's not such a bad thing really…" Brendan had said, throwing Ste down onto the bed amongst their strewn clothing.
A necessary distraction, Ste decided, feeling Brendan's tongue licking him from beneath his ear all the way down his neck, making him shiver.
"Brendan, we haven't got long…" he tried to protest but Brendan cut off such thoughts by plunging his hand down Ste's boxers, feeling for him.
"Even if I do this?" Brendan asked, arching an eyebrow.
"I guess…ah…we have enough time"
"Good" Brendan murmured, claiming Ste's lips.
A while later, Ste found himself lying breathless on the bed, Brendan smirking and standing, re-dressing himself.
"A worthy distraction?" Brendan asked smugly.
"Definitely" Ste said, sitting up. "Now we're gonna be late though"
"We won't. Taxi's coming at six. We'll make it"
"We better" Ste said, smiling and re-dressing.
Six o'clock hit and Brendan took his and Ste's suitcases outside to put into the back of the taxi. Ste spotted Theresa and Ethan walking along hand in hand and waved at them, giving Theresa a knowing smile which she returned warmly.
"Ready to go?" Brendan asked. Ste nodded, climbing into the taxi after him. Brendan wrapped his arm around Ste's waist; Ste let his head drop onto Brendan's shoulder.
When they got to the airport and had completed all of the necessary checks, Brendan led Ste towards the boarding area.
"Have you told Eileen you're coming?" Ste asked curiously, Brendan's arm securely around his shoulders.
"Ye, we kinda needed to meet up anyway"
"Really? Why?" Ste asked, frowning.
Brendan patted his carry on bag. "Divorce papers" he said succinctly.
Ste stared at him open-mouthed as Brendan gave the flight attendant their tickets.
"Divorce papers?" He asked, confused.
"Yes, Stephen. We can't stay married forever can we?"
"I guess not… I just wasn't expecting it really"
Brendan laughed. "Really? It has its benefits though…" Brendan began, his eyes sparkling with amusement. "After all, who knows when I might want to get re-married?" Brendan grinned at Ste's stupefied expression. He pulled him down the corridor.
"Look at ye face!" He said, chuckling.
Ste laughed, relaxing. "Well can you blame me? Joking about wanting to marry me…" Ste shook his head, smiling at the absurdity of it all.
"Who said I was joking?" Brendan replied, grinning widely. He kissed Ste's mouth, which was open again in complete amazement. "Oh, Stephen. I do so love surprising ye…"
And Ste decided, even when they were happy, and in love, Brendan Brady still had the capability to leave him guessing.